30-Days of Self Care: Kick Start Your Personal Growth

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Ordinary things, consistently done, produce extraordinary results.

— Keith Cunningham.

Neural NetworksI love that quote. I’ve posted it on my computer monitor to remind me that I don’t have to do anything outrageous or spectacular to get spectacular results. I just have to do the little things, the ordinary things, consistently. When I do that, anything is possible.

So this month, I’ve started a new practice. I’m calling it 30-days of self care. The idea, in part, came from my experience with Mark Joyner’s Kaizen club. Kaizen is a Japanese concept meaning “Continuous Improvement.” And while, I love the concept of Mark’s Kaizen Club, in practice it didn’t work for me. I believe that I need more control over which specific aspect of my life I am improving. It’s an awesome program, and it may work for you. If you want to check it out for free, you can sign up for the free Kaizen Club trial here.

But I needed something slightly different, something that gives me more control. So this month I’m starting my new 30-Days of Self Care program. I’m basing this on research that shows we need about 21-days to install a new habit into our life. Have you ever noticed that you can begin doing something for a couple of days or even weeks  – exercise, diet, meditation, stop smoking, etc. – but after a week or two the old habits start creeping back in?

That’s because those old, existing habits are hard wired into your brain. You’re literally hard wired for overeating or channel surfing or smoking. And, in order to disconnect that brain wiring you need to create new wiring, new neural pathways that will make the new habit the default.

RiverThink about a river for a minute. The water flowing downstream is going to take the path of least resistance. It’s not going to jump over the river bank and chart a new course without some serious reason.

Your habitual actions are the same: They are going to continue to flow through the existing channels because those channels are the path of least resistance.

Fortunately, researchers have shown that it takes a lot less time to hard wire a new neural pathway than it does to cut a new river channel: About 21 days. 21 days is all you need to “hardwire” and create a new pathways. Until then, you’re using your will power to take the actions.

But think about it: If you can focus your intention and bring your will power into play for just 21 days, after that, habit kicks in, and the path of least resistance shifts to the new habit you are installing. Worth it?

I think so.

And that’s why I’ve taken the concept of the Kaizen Club and continuous improvement and created my own personal program. Each month I’m going to pick one specific self-care habit I want to change. And for that month, I will engage the new action I want to hard wire every single day.

By the end of the month, that new action should be a habit. It should be hard wired into my brain making that habit the default, the path of least resistance, and allowing me to move onto the next self care habit I want to install.

Here’s an example: This month I’m going to install the habit of going to bed with my room completely clutter free.

I know it doesn’t sound like much. And that’s the thing: Remember I’m looking to install habits where I do ordinary things consistently! I have a tendency to just throw my clothes onto the foot of my bed when I change into my pajamas. And after a couple of days there can be a pretty significant pile. My daughter sometimes brings toys into my room which can get forgotten and stepped on in the middle of the night. Other, miscellaneous stuff seems to mysterious accumulate in there for no apparent reason.

So my February self care habit is taking just five or ten minutes each night before I go to bed to put my clothes away, and clear out any other clutter that may have gathered in my room during the day.

Simple!

And by the end of February, these daily actions will become hard wired into my brain and I will have installed a new, supportive habit.

That means that by the end of the year I’ll have installed 12 new, supportive, self care habits. And I guarantee you that those 12 habits will make a huge positive impact on my life – in all areas!

So how about you? Are you willing to commit to making one change in your life for the next 30-days? Are you ready to hard wire a new, supportive habit into your brain?

Leave a comment below and let us know what self care habit you are going to install during the next 30-days!

22 Signs That You’re A Highly Sensitive Person

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For most of my life I considered myself a fairly thick-skinned, typical guy. Sensitive male role models were hard to find growing up in the seventies in a middle-class Boston suburb. Back then “sensitivity” was not a trait encouraged in men. So I followed in the footsteps of the male role models I had; mostly stoic, emotionally unavailable, intellectually focused men.

That worked for a while. But at some point during the past 18 or so years that I have been actively and sometimes intensively engaged in personal growth, I have discovered that behind the walls and under the layers of distance and detachment lives a highly sensitive person.

This awakening sensitivity has, at times, felt more like a burden than a blessing. But ultimately, and only quite recently, I have come to accept my sensitivity as a gift and a powerful ally on my journey of personal evolution.

When I began this journey, the term Highly Sensitive Person was not widely known (if at all). But as more has been written about Highly Sensitive People and the concept has gained wider (though certainly not universal) acceptance I have come to recognize and accept myself as a Highly Sensitive Person.

It is estimated that 20% of the human population would test positive for what Carl Jung called Innate Sensitiveness. This innate sensitivity has been well researched and the term Highly Sensitive Person was coined in 1996 by Elaine N. Aron, Ph.D. and explored in her book, The Highly Sensitive Person: How To Thrive When The World Overwhelms You

 

Wikipedia has this definition of Highly Sensitive Person:

A highly sensitive person (HSP) is a person having the innate trait of high sensitivity (or innate sensitiveness as Carl Gustav Jung originally coined it). According to Elaine N. Aron and colleagues as well as other researchers, highly sensitive people, which would represent about a fifth of the population, process sensory data much more deeply and thoroughly due to a biological difference in their nervous systems. This is a specific trait with key consequences that in the past has often been confused with innate shyness, inhibitedness, innate fearfulness, introversion, and so on. The existence of the trait of innate sensitivity was demonstrated using a test that was shown to have both internal and external validity.

While the idea of highly sensitive people is still shrugged off by the mainstream press and health-care community, I have no doubt that, just as people have different levels of visual acuity, hearing, intelligence and physical grace, there are also varying levels of what I call vibrational sensitivity.

No matter what any scientist tells you, there is no diagnostic device presently available that is as sensitive as the human body. When properly tuned, our physical bodies have the ability to perceive and respond to our environment with an accuracy that far exceeds the capacity of our present technology. And some of us have bodies that are naturally tuned to be more sensitive to our vibrational environment.

So, for better or worse, that puts highly sensitive people in the unenviable position of being the canaries in the coalmine. Our sensitivity to the aural, environmental, and vibrational pollution that is prevalent in our world means that we often display physical, emotional and vibrational symptoms long before others less sensitive than us.

That’s the bad news.

But fear not, there is good news! If you are a highly sensitive person, your sensitivity indicates that your body is more highly tuned than most people’s. And, with a bit of effort, training and regular practice, you can learn to leverage your sensitivity to create success and take your life to the next level. I have! More on that later.

For now, let’s look at some of the “symptoms” of highly sensitive people because, if you’re like I was, you might not even know that you’re highly sensitive. And when you don’t know that you’re highly sensitive it can be very difficult and uncomfortable to live in this world filled with less sensitive people who don’t understand why you have to cover your ears when an ambulance goes by, or leave a restaurant that smells like bleach, or sit under a full-spectrum light during the winter.

So if you have ever wondered if you are highly sensitive, here is a list of signs that could indicate that you are a Highly Sensitive Person. (I’ve added some personal notes to a few of the items on the list).

1. Can you hear things others cannot, especially high-pitched sounds?
Do you hear sirens long before anyone else? Does the high-pitched hum of a partially dimmed light fixture get under your skin when no one else seems to notice? Does the whirring fan in your computer distract you? Is it difficult for you to sleep in the same room as a refrigerator? Do you need to cover your ears when a loud siren passes by? Do you use earplugs at concerts or on planes?

2. Do you notice smells that others miss?
I have a weird olfactory sense: When it comes to nice, natural smells such as roses and lilacs, I have to put my nose right into the flower in order to smell it. But when it comes to not-so-nice smells I am highly attuned. I can smell cigarette smoke from 50-feet away when I’m outside and the wind is blowing in the opposite direction. When I walk into a restaurant that has just cleaned up with chlorine bleach, I often have to turn around a leave because the smell is overpowering. And don’t get me started on some of the unnatural perfumes that have nearly made me… well I think you get the idea!

3. Do you know what other people need before they ask?
This post, Intuition or Observation & Analysis, provides a great example of this.

4. Do you notice the flicker on older computer screens or older fluorescent fixtures?
I’m still amazed at how often I used to sit down at someone else’s computer and wonder how they were able to work on it with the refresh rate set so low. If they were not looking over my shoulder I would usually go in and quickly increase the refresh rate which took away the flicker and provided me with some relief.

5. Do you get “overwhelmed” by joy when you experience great beauty: A beautiful sunset, an incredible musical performance, the smile of your child?
High vibrational sensitivity is not always triggered by “negative” experiences. Positive, beautiful, sublime experiences can also awaken that sensitivity. But again, the difference and occasionally the difficulty for sensitive people is the intensity of the experience. Highly sensitive people can be truly overwhelmed by a beautiful experience, which is fine if you are alone on the beach watching a spectacular sunset, but may not be so great if you happen to look out the window at work just at the peak moment of that beautiful sunset.

6. Do you feel threatened or uneasy in large crowds or big cities?
Sometimes I enjoy going into San Francisco, and other times I just can’t wait to get out. But no matter how I’m feeling while I’m there, I always notice a distinct sense of calmness descending upon me as I leave the City. It’s as if I’m passing through an invisible energy boundary as I cross the Golden Gate Bridge.

7. Do you have “emotional radar” that picks up on what others are feeling?
Do you know what people are feeling before they tell you? Do you ever walk into a room and sense that there has been an argument?

8. Do you pick up physical symptoms from other people?
Have you ever been feeling great and then run into a friend who had a headache and suddenly noticed a headache coming on? I once massaged a friend’s knee after she tweaked it during a yoga class. When I was done, she felt great, but I could hardly walk!

9. Does reading or hearing about bad news have a dramatic impact on your mood?
Once upon a time I was a news and information junkie. Knowing what was happening in the world was important. As my sensitivity awakened, however, I began to recognize that the news is almost exclusively low-vibration information and had a dramatic and usually negative impact on me. A few years ago I did a week long news fast to see if it would make a difference. It did! Soon after that, I stopped watching, listening to or reading the news on a regular basis. And while I still don’t watch or listen to the news, I am now able to read the paper or gather snippets of news from the Internet without noticing a dramatic effect on my mood.

10. If you see a bad car accident does it affect you for the entire day?
Most people have a reaction when seeing an accident but for some highly sensitive people the effect can be dramatic and long lasting.

11. Have you been diagnosed with SAD (Seasonal Affective Disorder) and/or do you experience a noticeable drop in your energy and mood during the winter?

12. Have you ever had a transcendent or mystical experience?
Highly sensitive people are naturally more open to experiences of bliss, ecstasy and spiritual awakening.

13. Do you have a strong reaction when you drink caffeine or when you attempt to stop?
Everything we put into our bodies has both a physical and energetic effect. For most people the physical effects of caffeine are not that dramatic. But sensitive people also feel the energetic effects of that caffeine and the combination can be quite powerful.

14. Do you have food sensitivities or allergies?
Most of us are putting stuff into our bodies that was never meant to go there. This is fine for people who are not highly sensitive (not really!) but if you are highly sensitive your body may tell you, in no uncertain terms, what you can and cannot put into it.

15. Do you have allergies or asthma?
As with food allergies, environmental allergies can indicate that you are reacting to allergens on both a physical and energetic level.

16. Are you a “lightweight?”
A friend of mine used to say that I could “get drunk from sniffing the bottlecap!” And she wasn’t that far off. My karate buddies nicknamed me Ed “No Mas” Mills because of my tendency to get a little rambunctious after a couple of beers. If one glass of wine puts you under the table you might be highly sensitive.

17. Are you sensitive to over-the-counter, prescribed or illegal drugs?
Can you take half the recommended dosage of a drug and experience a noticeable effect? Have you had an overwhelming experience when experimenting with other drugs?

18. If you have ever had surgery, did it take longer to recover from the effects of the anesthesia than from the surgery itself?
For many sensitive people anesthesia can have a long-lasting and powerful effect. Anesthesia impacts not only the physical body but also the energy body by putting you into a completely unnatural state. It’s a neither here nor there state that can wreak havoc on a sensitive person’s system.

19. Is being in a calm, peaceful environment very important for you?
Does clutter, stress you out? Do harsh, disharmonious colors fluster you? Do you feel at peace in a beautiful garden? Is it important for you to create a “sanctuary” within your home?

20. Do you get claustrophobic when you spend too much time indoors?
For many sensitive people, being inside for too long leads to a feeling of claustrophobia, lethargy and/or irritation.

21. Is it important for you to spend time alone?
Highly sensitive people often feel better when alone. In extreme cases, this need to be alone can be debilitating to the point where being around others is almost impossible.

22. Do you experience dramatic mood swings, sometimes for no apparent reason?
Have you ever been sitting at work, or on the bus, or in a café, feeling pretty good, and suddenly, for no apparent reason, started to feel sad, or angry? Highly sensitive people are more sensitive to both their own emotional content as well as the emotions of those around them. So if this happens to you, you may be connecting with something happening inside of you, but you might also be unintentionally “tuning in” to the emotional content of someone else.

23. Do you know when people are lying to you?
Have you ever just known that someone is telling you a lie, even when you have no “logical” reason to believe that to be so?

There are no right or wrong answers to these questions. These are examples of possible “symptoms” of high sensitivity. If ten or more of these experiences rang true for you, it’s highly likely that you’re a highly sensitive person. But even if you said “Yes” to just a handful of these you could be highly sensitive. In fact, even just one or two of these, if they are very strong for you, could indicate high sensitivity.

Ultimately I believe that being a highly sensitive person is a gift. It certainly has become a gift to me! And, yes, I know, it does not always feel that way. It can feel like a burden and a curse. But when you learn how to put boundaries and systems into place you can begin to access and harness that sensitivity and use it to create the life you desire.

I’ll be writing about some of those systems in the next few weeks. So be sure to come back or, better yet, subscribe to Evolving Times to get notified when there is a new post here.

Click here to receive Your Special Report on How to Thrive as a Highly Sensitive Person…

Photo Credits:

Coffee by Refracted Moments
Rose by Randy Son of Robert
Candles by Ldcross

The Italian Driving Method of Personal Growth

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Did you ever see the 1970’s super-cheesey movie, Gumball Rally? Alright, I admit I probably watched it about 20 times back then. It was fun, when I was ten.

Well, for some strange reason, a scene from that movie popped into my head the other day. (This might give you some insight into my state of mind!)

For those of you who have not had the pleasure of seeing this cinematic tour de force, The Gumball Rally is an illegal New York to LA car race with absolutely no rules. The winner, in addition to all the glory, gets to take home the coveted Gumball Machine! And I’m sure you can imagine the creative sorts of mischief that the drivers get up to as they attempt to arrive before everyone else at that finish line.

The scene that popped into my head takes place at the beginning of the movie and the starting line of the race. It’s our first introduction to the driver of team Ferrari, Raul Julia, who is sitting in his Ferrari convertible with his co-pilot, a much less experienced, and if my memory serves me, non-Italian, driver. Raul turns to him and says:

“And now my friend, the first-a rule of Italian driving…” Here he reaches up, rips off the rear-view mirror and tosses it, with much Italian flare, out of the car. “…What’s-a behind me is of no importance. ”

Now certainly don’t recommend that you rip the rear view mirrors off of your car and start driving around with that attitude. However, when it comes to personal growth, I think this rule has some validity.

There is an approach to personal growth that goes something like this: “Until I uncover all of my past wounds and heal each and every one of them, I will never be happy, fulfilled and abundant in my present life.”

This attitude is rarely that explicit, and it’s almost never conscious. But there are many people (and I speak from my own personal experience as well as my observations of others) who, on some level, believe they can not have a great life until they have “handled” all of their past wounds. They seek answers to the questions: “Why am I the way I am now?” “Why do I always act this why?” “What happened to me?” “Who did this to me?”

That approach to personal growth has the potential to suck us down the rabbit hole into a never-ending search for the “cause” of what is “wrong” with us. We can end up traveling back in time to heal our past more often than we spend rooted in the present, focused on creating a better life now! At that point, our journeys into the past are not longer about finding answers that can help us improve the present. Those journeys become a way of avoiding the work that will create the positive changes in our lives.

And that’s never a good thing!

Here’s something I’ve discovered, something those voices don’t tell you when they’re suggesting that you take another journey into your past to find another wound to heal. You ready?

Balancing a bit of Raul Julia’s attitude can often create a more healthy relationship with the past and lead to a better life now and into the future.

I’m not suggesting that you completely throw away the rear view mirror when it comes to looking at your past. I don’t think that’s even possible. But maybe spending a bit less time looking in that rear view mirror would be helpful.

Certainly there is a lot that we can learn from exploring our past, including (and perhaps especially) the painful parts. But if we are to truly grow, the information we discover must be used to empower positive change in the present. In other words, we must act in the present on what we learn from the past.

So the next time you find yourself heading down memory lane, before you go there, remember the young, suave Raul Julia, sitting in his Ferrari and repeat these words: “What’s-a behind me is of no importance!”

7 Ways To Get A Positive Start On The Day

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How do you start your day? Is your first act intentional? Is it a reaction to something? Or is your first act of each completely random?

As a Deliberate Creator, every conscious act matters. And one way to get every day off to a great start is to make your first act of the day intentional. So here are a few suggestions that you might want to consider for your first conscious action of the day.

Smile: You’ll be amazed at how powerful that one act can be at setting the tone for your day. Do it no matter how tired you are, no matter how little sleep you got, no matter how much you’re dreading some aspect of your day. Smile. I love this quote from Thich Nhat Hanh: “Sometimes your joy is the source of your smile, but sometimes your smile can be the source of your joy.” When you think of something that brings you joy, a smile is likely to come naturally. Remember that a smile can brighten a person’s day. And if you wake up with a smile, it just might be your day that gets brighter.

Think of something joyful: Maybe you feel strange putting a smile on your face for no reason. (If you do, stop it!) But one alternative is to think of something that brings you joy and let that thought bring a smile to your face.

Think of your primary intention: What is the single most important intention that you have right now? How would your day change if your first thought upon arising was a positive thought about that intention?

Look at your primary intention: Remember Jack Canfield’s story in The Secret? He taped a “$100,000 bill” to the ceiling above his bed so the first thing he would see every morning would remind him of his primary intention. You can do something similar. Come up with an image, object or phrase that reminds you of your intention and tape it to the ceiling or place it beside your bed. And each morning, make sure your first act is looking at it and feeling it.

Send a positive thought to someone else: Sending a prayer or other positive thought to someone is a wonderful way to start your day. In order to send positive vibes to someone else, your vibration must be positive. So starting your day this way ensures that your vibration will start out positive.

Give thanks for what you have: One of the best ways to empower your day is to begin with gratitude. Instead of allowing your mind to jump to all the stuff you have to get done that day, intentionally guide your mind to focus on and express gratitude for all the wonderful things that you already have.

Say I love you: If you share a bed with a partner (and even if you don’t) one great way to set a positive tone for your day is to say “I love you” to them (or someone else) before you even get out of bed.

These are just a few suggestions. Any one of them will help you set a positive tone for the entire day… If you do it!

The Vision Board 2008 Invitational

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Are you up for a challenge? Do you want to get 2008 off to an intentional start? If so, I want to invite you to participate in the 2008 Vision Board Invitational. Last year’s Vision Board meeting at the January drop in Law of Attraction group – a group I host on the first Saturday of each month – was such a success that we’re doing it again.

But this year, I want you to join us, even if you can’t get to Santa Rosa on Saturday. If you do join us, not only will you start 2008 with a powerful burst of inspired action, but you also get a chance to share you vision with the world and you could win a fantastic prize! Read on to find out more. Whatever you think about the Law of Attraction and the ideas in the movie The Secret, there is one point that you just can’t argue with: Setting intentions works!

You can’t get what you want if you don’t know what you want. But intention setting, on its own, is not enough. You need continuous focus on your intentions as well as inspired, focused action. And one of the best ways to stay focused on your intentions is to create visual reminders. Secrets of the Millionaire Mind author, T. Harv Ecker, frequently tells his students that, “Visual is memorable.” And Vision Boards are one of the most powerful tools I know of for creating continuous, visual focus on your positive intentions. And there’s even a dash of inspired action thrown into the process of creating a vision board.

Now if you’ve never created one, a Vision Board is a collage or other collection of images, words and phrases created and used to facilitate the manifestation of desires. But don’t let the simplicity fool you. Vision Boards are one of the most powerful tools in the deliberate creator’s toolbox.

When you create a vision board you are doing three things that immediately put you ahead of 95% of the people who set resolutions:

  • When you create a Vision Board you are taking Inspired Action.
  • When you create a Vision Board you clarify and focus your desires.
  • When you create a Vision Board (and place it where you see it often) you have an on-going, visual reminder of your intentions.

The process of creating a Vision Board is straightforward:

  • Gather the supplies – board, glue, scissors, magazines, catalogs, markers, etc.
  • Clarify your desires.
  • Cut out images that represent those desires..
  • Glue them onto your board.
  • Place the board somewhere you will see it on a daily basis.

But while the process is simple, taking the action to do it is not always easy! I’ve seen far too many people say they were going to create a New Year’s Vision Board only to find that weeks and months into the New Year they still had not done so. If you’ve ever struggled to complete an “optional” project on your own, you know just what I’m talking about.

This year, I want to help to stack the deck in your favor and hopefully make it a bit easier for you to complete your New Year’s Vision Board Monday, January 14th and get 2008 off to a deliberate, positive start! So I’ve come up with a few incentives and some tips. First the incentives:

  • Share your vision with the world: Sure it’s great to create a vision board and hang it on your wall. But there is something empowering about sharing your vision. By sharing your vision you declare your intention to the world. You put your flag in the sand. So to help you share your vision with the world, on Tuesday, January 15th, I will post an entry here with a link every vision board that is completed by January 14th. (You’ll have to send me the link of course). You can post the photo of your Vision Board on your blog or website, or put it up at a photo sharing site such as Flickr.com. I’ll also feature images of a few of my favorite boards along with the link.
  • Win some great prizes: Everyone who submits a completed Vision Board by January 14th will receive access to the online version of my CD, An Introduction to Brainwave Entrainment Technology for Personal Growth and Success. If you haven’t experienced Brainwave Entrainment, you are missing out on a powerful personal growth tool.In addition, three winners will receive a $40 prize package that includes the physical CD listed above as well as the inspiring, award winning anthology, Healing the Heart of the World, which includes my essay, The Evolutionary Warrior, along with essays from Caroline Myss, Neale Donald Walsch, Bruce Lipton and many others.

I’m also working on a grand prize that I can’t announce quite yet. But if it comes through, it will provide the winner with an amazing tool for following up on their intentions. Now here are some tips to help you create your Vision Board:

  • Set a date and invite some friends and family members to join you. One of the reasons that last year’s Vision Board event at the drop in Law of Attraction group was so successful is because 35 Deliberate Creators came together to co-create their reality for 2007. When a group comes together, and focuses their collective energy on a single goal energy of the entire group is raised. So even just two people coming together can significantly raise the energy.And with a group you can also pool your resources – glue sticks, scissors, magazines, etc. And finally, when you commit to a date with others, you’re much more likely to “show up” and complete your Vision Board.
  • If you are going to create your Vision Board on your own, set a firm date and time. Go do it right now: Get out your calendar and block out 3-hours. That should be plenty of time to create your New Year’s Vision Board. And once you put that time into your calendar make it non-negotiable!
  • Keep your focus narrow. Don’t try to do too much with your Vision Board. Focus on just your top 3-5 intentions. Or create a board for just one area of your life – work, money, relationship, etc. If you try to do too much on one board, you’ll dilute the effectiveness. You can always do another board when you have attracted the intentions in this one or create another board for another area of your life.
  • Set a definite ending time. Creating a Vision Board is one of those projects with the potential to move into the continual “work in progress” category. And, in truth, a vision board is always a work in progress because you vision is always evolving. However, you definitely do want to complete your Vision Board. So set a firm deadline and make a commitment to yourself to finish your board by that time.
  • Let your board be “Not Perfect.” Start with the knowledge that your Vision Board will never be perfect. That way you’ll be more likely to sit down and finish it. And finishing it is far more important than making it “perfect.” whatever that means. This is also a good exercise in getting over any perfectionist tendencies you might have!

Participation Details: To participate in the 2008 Vision Board Invitational, all you have to do is complete your 2008 Vision Board by Monday, January 14th and use the contact form above to send me the link to your Vision Board. If you have a blog or website, you can post your Vision Board there and I’ll link to it from Evolving Times.

If you don’t have a website, you can use an online photo-sharing site such as Flickr, Photobucket. I’m looking forward to seeing all of your grand visions! If you have questions, you can leave a comment below and I’ll answer them as fast as I can.

And if you think this is a good idea, you can help me get the word out by sharing this entry using one of the social bookmarking links below. If you’re new to social bookmarking a good place to start is with a Thumb’s Up on Stumbleupon.

What I Learned About Gratitude From A Cold And A Little Jumping Spider

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My family and I are back east for the Thanksgiving holiday. And with all the preparation and traveling , I haven’t had a chance to finish an article on gratitude. So I dusted off one of my old Intuitive Life Coaching ezine articles from way back in November of 2004 and put a few new touches on it for you. So here it is,

It’s the season of gratitude, yet last week I found myself in a sea of sickness. I don’t know about you, but I find it very difficult to be grateful when I’m sneezing, coughing, achy and generally feeling rotten.

I did my best to remain positive, reminding myself that I was being given a non- negotiable opportunity to relax and recharge. Still I found myself drawn towards the “woe is me” place with thoughts such as, “This is the worst possible time to be sick,” and “I have way too much to do.”

I even caught myself heading into victim mode, thinking, “Ella got me sick,” as if my one year old daughter had somehow conspired to transmit her sick germs to me. If anyone had conspired, it was me, or more accurately, a wise, unconscious aspect of my mind and body forcing me to take some much needed time off.

Still, it took me a full four days of acute sickness before I was able to stop and allow myself to enjoy the break. Even then it was no inner leap of enlightenment that catalyzed the shift. Rather it was a little jumping spider who had made its home in my car.

On that day, with my wife at work, and my daughter determined not to take a nap even though she was rubbing her eyes, yawning and crying, I decided to use the fool-proof nap-induction method known to parents throughout the western world. We went for a drive!

As soon as we got into the car, I noticed that the little jumping spider who had recently taken up residence was sitting on the edge of the steering wheel. He or she seemed quite content to sit and observe as we zoomed down the straight and narrow.

But then we came to a turn and that spider’s world suddenly and literally turned upside down. That little guy or girl held on for dear life as the wheel spun one way. Then on the way back, Spidey must have thought “I’m outta here,” because it dropped down from a thread in search of more stable ground.

While it was a good idea, it didn’t work out so well when the momentum of the turn flung the little guy right back into the steering wheel with a crash. At that point Spidey decided it would be best to hang on and ride out the storm.

When the turbulence ended and we were back on a straight stretch, that spider somehow knew exactly what it needed to do: It headed directly for the center of the steering wheel and sat down smack dab in the middle of the Toyota logo.

When I turned the steering wheel to guide us into the next turn, Spidey just calmly rotated in the opposite direction, easily maintaining his upward-facing orientation.

As I watched Spidey do his thing an image flashed into my mind of one of those amusement park rides where you stand up against a fence as it spins around really fast, so fast that it’s nearly impossible to push, or is it pull, yourself away from the fence.

I realized that’s sort of how I had been feeling in my sickness: dizzily pressed up against a wall, unable to peel myself off. Only unlike at an amusement park, this sickness was an involuntary ride, and it was showing no signs of slowing down.

With Ella soundly asleep now in the back seat, I could pull over and contemplate the lesson in Spidey’s demonstration. I imagined the different experience riding at the outside of that spinning wheel and standing right in the center. And they were very different!

For me, being in the center meant being fully in my sickness, not fighting it, not trying to push myself off of that wall. So all that day and the following day, I acknowledged my gratitude: for the sickness, for Ella, for my wife, for the time off and, of course, for the little jumping spider.

I basked in my sickness, taking naps and baths, sitting for long periods of time doing nothing and just generally loafing. It was wonderful. And the amazing thing is that by the end of that second day I felt great. Certainly not completely better, but my energy level was vibrant and flowing whereas before it had been stagnant and dull.

I believe it was the gratitude that shifted me into the center of that ride. Instead of worrying about all the stuff I was not doing, all the meetings I was missing, and all the money that was not coming in, I was able to stop and accept exactly where I was, and, indeed, acknowledge my gratitude for being there.

Just like that little spider, we get to choose how we experience each moment of our lives. We can enjoy the thrill of riding out at the edge where the momentum of the ride pushes us up against the wall, or we can choose the more stable, yet no less enlivening, ride in the center. Certainly there are times when being on the outer edge is appropriate, and even necessary, but I don’t need to live my life there.

Neither did Spidey.

And neither do you. For many people the holidays can be a whirlwind of too much shopping, cooking, family, parties, eating, traffic, credit cards, and debt.

So this holiday season remember to periodically come back to your center. If you find yourself riding that dizzy edge, stop and take time to acknowledge your gratitude.

No matter how turbulent your life might get, find something to be thankful for and let that gratitude draw you gently back towards your calm, stable center.

I’ve quoted Meister Eckhart before, and I’m sure I’ll do so again, but he stated it so simply and beautifully when he said:

“If the only prayer you said in your whole life was, “thank you,” that would suffice.”

Thank you!

11 Tips to Lighten Up The Compulsively Serious (or Break the Grip When Seriousness Strikes You)

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serious faceIs there someone in your life that’s always serious? Someone who’s quick to point out the risks involved or why you shouldn’t do something.

Or perhaps there’s a part of you that falls into that serious space from time to time? I do. I’m a pretty happy-go-lucky sort of guy most of the time. But every so often I feel my serious side starting to get a bit ambitious. And before it gets out of control I like to bring some balance and lightness to the situation.

Now don’t get me wrong, seriousness is not a bad thing. But it has the potential to become a problem if it’s not balanced with fun and lightness.

So here are some tips that I use (well, maybe not all of them!) to stay balanced. Maybe they can help you lighten up your serious side. And, of course, feel free to pass these on to some of your more serious sidekicks!

1. Go to a funny movie.

Laughter is one of the best remedies for out of balance seriousness. Get yourself to a funny movie and let the laughter break the spell. Extra points if it has no redeeming qualities. We’re talking Dumb and Dumberer here!

2. Hang out with fun people.
When you catch yourself getting serious, it’s time for a fun infusion. You do have some fun friends, don’t you? Call them up and go hang out with them. Extra points for every stupid joke told!

3. Take a break from your serious friends.
You know the ones I’m talking about! Now, don’t worry, you don’t have to dump them forever. Just take a few days off. You’re in fun infusion mode. The fewer rain on your parade types you have around the better. Extra points for not calling your parents or some other especially serious fixtures in your life!

4. Do something just for fun.
When serious strikes the last thing you feel like doing is anything without a definite purpose. That’s why it’s an especially good serious antidote. Go to the beach. Go for a hike. Play a game of golf. Put on a CD you haven’t listened to in a while. There’s got to be something you can think of that you could do just for fun. Extra points if it’s during work hours!

5. Get drunk, alright tipsy works.
No, I’m not condoning alcoholism here. This one is more for those mostly teatottaling types like me. Once in a while, a drink or two can help break the grip of seriousness and let the fun come out. Extra points for playing pool really badly while drinking a beer!

6. Surf YouTube for funny videos.
Sometimes a hilarious five-minute video will do the trick and snap you out of that serious space. Extra points for stopping after just one!
Here’s a good one to start you off:

Thanks to Caroline Middlebrook for turning me on to this one!

7. Go on a news boycott.
Let’s face it: the news is pretty darned serious. We could probably get away with calling it somber, sobering, or downright depressing! When the serious spell starts to grab hold of you, taking a few days away from the news can make a huge difference. Extra points if you use your regular news reading time to catch up on the comic strips!

8. Hang out with some young kids.
Kids, especially the little ones, haven’t had enough time hanging around with us to get too serious. So spending time with them is a great why to relieve the serious stuff. Extra points if you build sandcastles along with them!

9. Go bowling.
All right, it doesn’t have to be bowling. Could be badminton, bocce ball, or anything that is so far removed from your normal athletic pursuits that you won’t care how bad you do and will just let yourself have a goofy good time. Extra points for standing at the line and doing the kid-style, two-handed, underhand bowling throw!

10. Have a Karoke Party.
Gather up your friends and head down to your local karaoke bar and start belting out those tunes. No karaoke bar available? No problem, you can buy a used karaoke machine at Amazon for under $50. And then you can have a karaoke party whenever you need one. Extra points for not allowing any Frank Sinatra songs!

11. Dance like John Travolta in Saturday Night Fever.
As far as I can tell there’s absolutely no way to remain serious while doing some of JT’s moves from Saturday Night Fever. A close second would be dancing to the Village People’s YMCA. If you can keep a straight face while acting out those letters you’re a better person than me. Extra points for bringing the boom-box outside and doing it where your neighbors can watch!


Holosync Tip: Immersion Only In The Morning

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If you’ve been reading Evolving Times for a while you probably know that I use and highly recommend the Holosync Meditation System. One of the only issues I have with Holosync is the fact that the recommended protocol is to do a full-hour session with it every day! I don’t know about you, but that’s just a bit too much for me.

For those of you who have not tried Holosync, the sessions consist of two separate recordings. The first, The Dive, is a 30-minute recording that leads you gently down into a deep Theta brainwave state. The second, Immersion, holds you at that deep Theta level for another 30-minutes.

If you attempt to skip The Dive and start with Immersion at most times during the day, it is unlikely that your brainwaves will be able to make the jump from the Beta or high Alpha state down to Theta.

However, a few days ago I had an AHA moment when I realized that if start with Immersion immediately upon waking, my brainwaves are still in a high Theta/low Alpha state and I might be able to dive back down to the deep Theta pretty easily.

So over the past few days I’ve been experimenting with using just Immersion as soon as I wake up. The results have been encouraging.

If I have everything setup and ready to go so that when I wake up I can immediately walk to my meditation chair and press play, I can click into that deep Theta pretty quickly.

And even this morning, I had forgotten to move my computer to the mediation area and launch the media player, I still found that after 6-7 minutes I was back down into a nice, deep Theta state.

Now I’m sure that The Dive does more than just ramp you down to Theta. There are probably many benefits to moving through the full Alpha range and the upper Theta state before hitting the deep Theta. And I will definitely continue to do the full one-hour session at least once a week.

However, if I can shave 30-minutes off the session length, that will make it much easier for me to do a morning Holosync session every morning. And that has to be a good thing!

If you’re a Holosync user I’d love to hear from you. Have you tried this? If not, maybe give it a try for the next few mornings and see what happens for you.

And if you’re not a Holosync user, you can read more about my initial experiences with Holosync here and here, and you can order a free sample CD at the Centerpointe website.

This Is A Great Time To Become An Early Riser

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early-riser-clockIf you’re here in the US (with the exception of a few areas) you turned your clocks back one-hour on Sunday morning. For those of you who have been interested in becoming an early (or earlier) riser, this artificial “time-shift” has created a perfect opportunity.

With very little effort, you can immediately begin rising one-hour earlier.

Instead of trying to force yourself into the “new” time, stay on your old schedule. So, if you were going to bed at 11:00 and waking up at 6:30 (old time) now you’ll go to bed at 10:00 and wake up at 5:30. Many of you are probably doing that anyway so it should not be a big stretch.

I recommend that you stay on this schedule for 30-days. See how you feel after that. If it’s working for you, stick with it. If not, go back to your old schedule. Just because I like getting up at 5:00 am doesn’t mean it’s right for you.

Since I began rising at 5:00am I’ve had many people ask me how I do it. I give a lot of credit to Steve Pavlina for laying out some very clear guidelines.

But mostly it’s because those quiet, morning hours have become my sacred time. It’s time that I devote to me, whether by meditating, running, hiking, writing, or just sipping a cup of tea and watching the sun rise and the hummingbirds come to the feeder for their morning meal.

So if you’ve been interested in finding out what it’s like to be up at 5:00 am, now would be a great time to find out!

6 Support Systems To Put In Place Before You Need Them

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Personal Growth Support SystemsI’m still cashing in the chips from last week’s romp through the muck. I’m shoring up my foundation with the four steps I came up with on my Back to Basics day. And now I’m exploring some of the support systems that I can strengthen and/or put into place to accelerate my growth as well as minimize the impact of future weeks spent in the muck!Everyone has ups and downs. No matter how positively focused you are, how often you meditate, workout, or get a massge and no matter how successful you are, there are times when stuff just comes up and you find yourself struggling through the muck.

A common response to those times is to go into hiding. It’s been said that isolation is one of the biggest factors leading to the demise of many small businesses. Well it’s not limited to small business owners. It’s an instinctive response.

Way back when we were running around carrying clubs and grunting a lot, the most effective survival strategy when confronted by a large creature with sharp fangs was to find a small, dark cave to hide in until the creature moved on.

That response is still in us. Even though the creatures we face aren’t so big anymore and most of them don’t have sharp fangs our innate reaction is still to find a cave to hide in until it’s over.

Unfortunately, while that response served our ancestors pretty well, it is very rarely the most effective way to deal with the stuff that comes up now.

A much better approach is to come out of the cave and connect with others. When you feel your strength waning, tap into the strength of others. When the blinders of your old wounds close in tight around your vision, draw on the perspective of others.

Unfortunately, while most of us recognize the importance of having strong support systems I have found that very few people actually take the time and effort to put these systems into place.

So where do you start? Look at the list below. If you have some of these in place already, great! Are there others that you can add to improve the effectiveness of your overall support system?

And if you don’t have any of these systems in place, getting yourself a good coach and finding an accountability partner are two good ones to start with. Each of these is relatively easy to set up and get started, and they are easy to get out of if you find they are not working for you.

But whatever systems you choose, the key is to put them into place before you need them. Once you find yourself falling down the rabbit hole, it’s unlikely that you’ll have the energy or will to reach out and create these systems.

So right now, when you DO have the energy and the will, begin taking some time each week to create support systems.

Here are Six Support Systems to get you started:

Get a Coach:

I admit it: I’m a bit biased. As a coach, I recognize the importance and effectiveness of having a great coach. A good coach will keep you focused on your goals and intentions and reign you back in when you’re spinning off in too many directions.

And when you’re having one of THOSE weeks, a good coach can bring perspective to your experience, open your eyes to the opportunities and lessons in the experience and help you zoom in on the most important items that must get done even if you’re not feeling like doing much of anything.

Join or form a mastermind group:

A mastermind group is an effective source of ongoing, consistent support. Masterminds are most often associated with business, but in reality a mastermind group can be focused on anything. Joe Vitale’s book, Meet and Grow Rich: How to Easily Create and Operate Your Own “Mastermind” Group for Health, Wealth, and More explores many aspects of forming and running a mastermind. And Evan CarMichael has a site filled with great information about Mastermind Groups.

While starting a mastermind group can take a bit of time and effort, the benefits are well worth it!

Get an accountability partner:

An accountability partnership is a very powerful support systems. If you’re in business, you will want to have a partner for your business projects. But even if you’re not a business owner or entrepreneur, you can use an accountability partner for your personal growth, work/life balance, exercise or diet goals. The possibilities are limited only by your imagination.

My Monday morning check-in with my accountability partner is a highlight of my week. It catalyzes me to get clear on my top priorities for the week and what I am going to commit to for the week.

Join or form a Men’s/Women’s group:

Sometimes the muck needs to be dealt with outside of the business arena. It may be that there’s just a lot of stuff happening in other areas of your life and you need support for that stuff. Same-sex support groups are a very powerful environment within which to explore the stuff that comes up.

Forming deep bonds with other members of your gender is a missing piece for many people. As with the mastermind group, forming a men’s or women’s group will take some time and energy. But the long-term benefits are potentially huge.

Establish a relationship with a therapist or counselor you trust:

For many years I was definitely anti-therapy. My early experiences with mediocre therapists turned me off to the whole idea. But in the last few years I’ve had the opportunity to meet and work with several truly amazing therapists. And I have definitely seen the benefit of having a relationship – whether ongoing or as needed – with one or more therapists.

The problem is that if you do not have a relationship with a therapist, when you find yourself swimming in the deep end of your “stuff” it’s usually too late to find a great one. A much better approach is to set up the system when you’re feeling good: Get referrals. Interview a few prospective therapists. And have a few sessions to establish a connection. Then, when you find yourself slipping down that slope, you’ll be much more likely to pick up the phone to schedule a session.

Get a mentor:

A mentor is defined as a wise and trusted guide and advisor. A mentor can often save you time and frustration by guiding you around obstacles they have already been through! This is truly one of the most powerful forms of support you can have. And, for many people it can be one of the most difficult to create. But if you already have several of the other support systems in place, this may be the next place to focus your attention.

So there you go: Six support systems that can help smooth out the bumps in the road and accelerate your growth during the good times.

Keep in mind that many of these systems can be “virtual.” I have never met any of the folks in one of my mastermind groups.

If you’re ok with virtual relationships a great place to start your search is on the new Personal Development Partners forum. There are some amazing people over there looking for accountability partners and forming Mastermind groups. You’ll also find some incredible coaches participating in the conversations. Go check it out.

And if you’re looking for non-virtual, i.e. local, “real” connections, a good place to look is on your local Craigslist.

Leave a comment below and let us know what support systems you already have in place. And what other systems do you use that I haven’t listed here? Share your thoughts below.

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