Loving parts of a personality are naturally generous, kind, and connected. When you align yourself with yours, you become generous, kind, and connected, too. This is the creation of authentic power.
I was thrilled when Linda and I were invited to a gathering in India. I was even more thrilled to be asked to give a talk at the Gandhi ashram. Gandhi is one of my heroes. I spoke about authentic power and, for the first time, I spoke of the Universal Human, which I have been writing a book about for thirty years. Gandhi’s ashram seemed the perfect place to introduce the Universal Human because I think of Gandhi as a Universal Human when few existed.
I've Been Thinking...
“OMG, your past is speaking to you. What a validation of your truth!”
That’s what my friend Nadine said after reading my column in The Sunday Paper last week. In it, I wrote about the concept of leaving and about my parting words with Winnie, a woman who cared for my brothers as we were growing up.
"You knew your truth all along,” Nadine continued. “You knew what it was, and yet you didn’t believe yourself. You sought outside validation. Perhaps now you will trust yourself!”
As events occur in our lives, it seems we always know exactly what they mean for us. Then immediately we rush into what feels like the appropriate emotional reaction.That reaction further influences the way we view the event, and in this way our initial response is “confirmed.” We rarely question either our view of events or our response to them.
As we are carried away unconsciously from one automatic reaction to another, these conditioned responses grow more entrenched. And with each repetition, they feel more and more natural to us.The likelihood that we will ever question them diminishes. Our behavior grows more settled into these mechanical responses and the way we view events becomes increasingly rigid. As a result, we are taken further away from the spontaneous lives we were meant to enjoy.
But it’s not necessary to continue being defeated by our own mechanical responses. We can learn to recognize these “dark horse reactions” eager to take us on a bad ride, before we are carried away by them.
We all go through those moments when we feel like giving up.
Whether you are facing a tough time in your relationship, struggling financially, or facing repeated failures in the pursuit of your dream…. Life can be challenging at times.
But anything worthwhile takes patience, perseverance, and effort. If it was easy everyone would be doing it. On the path of greatness, everyone is invited, but only a rare few have the courage and dedication to stay the full course.
If you are going through tough times right now, remember that it is a season, and no season lasts forever. Even your most difficult time will pass.
On the journey to self-actualization and becoming your highest self, there may come a point where you stop and wonder, “How do I know when I’ve found myself?”
It’s easy to get stuck in this way of thinking – the idea that your spiritual journey has an endpoint. That you aren’t your true, authentic self until one day, everything changes and you finally “arrive.” Instead, what you’ll most likely discover is that you will find yourself over and over again along the way. Finding yourself is more of a gradual unfolding or an organic blossoming than reaching a destination.
There are these moments though, where you’ll discover a little bit more about yourself. Where you know more about life or you have more self compassion. Where you see yourself and your life through a new lens. And each of these is another point on the evolution of your blossoming.
As you grow and transform, new parts of you are revealed.
Life is nothing but a series of choices, and if you make good choices, your life will improve. That’s a brief, rational statement that everyone lives by, since the opposite—improving your life by making bad choices—isn’t much of a plan. Making good choices should bring the good things in life—but what if it doesn’t?
This is actually one of the most profound questions posed over the centuries. The obstacles to achieving a good life turn out to be powerful. They include
- Catastrophic accidents
- Serious disease
- Destructive mass events: war, famine, plague
- Forces of nature: climate change, earthquakes, storms, fire, floods
- Economic failures and reversals
- Political upheaval
- Prejudice and intolerance
- Psychological problems like anxiety and depression
- Old wounds, traumas, and humiliations from the past
It isn’t this world that threatens or disturbs us. We are dominated by our own thoughts and feelings. We are taken over by our own reactions. This is painful for us because our original nature, our True Self, longs to be free and unencumbered by self-limiting, self-defeating, compulsive thoughts and feelings.
The problem is, at our present level, we believe that another person or event is causing our unhappy feelings. We want power over them in the hope that it will give us power over our punishing feelings. Can you see that this approach to self-command is doomed from its ill-conceived beginning?
So where do we look for the power we need to be happy?
There once was a man who lived just outside of Pittsburgh.
He operated a small dairy farm. Day in and day out he worked laboriously, earning a meager living for himself and his family.
One day, several men who had been surveying some adjacent land walked across the pasture. The farmer noticed them as they were crossing a stream of water that ran through the field.
Suddenly, some of the men stooped down, and the farmer watched as they began studying the slime and the scum that had collected against the crude footbridge the farmer had laid there.
One man scooped up some water in his hand and drank it. Another collected some water in a canteen he carried attached to a buckle on his belt.
The farmer was puzzled and wondered why anyone would be interested in that water. Even the cattle didn’t like it – they always pushed the scum aside to drink the clear water.
Some weeks later, one of the men who had been studying the water in the stream called the farmer and offered him a fabulous price for his farm.
The farmer thought,
“This man must be crazy. Why is he offering so much money for such a mediocre farm like mine? He’ll never get his investment back!”
But the farmer was joyful at the prospect of receiving so much money. So, he sold the farm and bought another one in Canada where his brother lived.
Because everyone has self-awareness, human beings know what it means to be happy or unhappy. This feeling is so basic that seeking happiness comes naturally. Yet for some reason happiness proves elusive, and feeling that you can find permanent happiness can seem futile.
If we look closely, however, there are three ways to be happy. The first two arise in everyone’s life; the third is rare. But the third way is the only one, after centuries of seeking, that has stood the test of time. Every age is challenged to rediscover the third way, including our own time.
The first way to be happy is to follow your impulses without judging them, taking life as it comes from moment to moment. This is the way of babies and small children. They are motivated by the next thing that occurs to them, and they have little ability to predict what will turn out to be a sad or glad experience. Impulsiveness lingers in many people after they become adults, but the vast majority of people move on to the second way of being happy.
Do you have storms in your life that haven’t passed? Storms that were formed when you were four, eight, twelve or fourteen years old? Pains, resentments, fears that remain in conflict in the center of your being?
We live in a very peculiar state of being. We live with pain, heartache, grief, and fears that go on and on. And not only do they go on, but they actually tend to get worse.
That’s not how it’s supposed to be! You and I are not meant to live with any lingering negative state whatsoever, regardless its cause. No matter who or what happened to you in your life, the pain that is in you doesn’t belong in you! It was meant to be healed, and it wasn’t. Now the question is, why not? That’s the big question.
Have you ever seen a storm in nature that didn’t pass? Why do storms pass in the world, but storms in human beings don’t pass?
In nature, storms are produced by colliding systems of high pressure and low pressure. Nature handles this conflict by balancing the opposing forces that cause the storms. As human beings, we also have conflicting forces as part of our nature. But unlike Mother Nature, who is able to reconcile these opposing forces that produce storms, there’s something in us that not only doesn’t reconcile them, but actually causes them to continue.
What makes your life?
Want to try a little experiment?
Stop breathing. Really. For a few seconds, maybe a few dozen seconds, and see how it feels.
For me, this experiment is an intimate way to experience a deep truth, that we live dependently, relying on 10,000 things for physical survival, happiness, love, and success.
For example, within half a minute of no air, most people are uncomfortable, after one minute, they’re panicking, and after four minutes, they’re brain-dead or severely damaged. Second by second, your life and mind require oxygen, the plants that “exhale” it, the sun that drives photosynthesis, and other stars blowing up billions of years ago to make every atom of oxygen in the next breath you take. Or think about the people you rely on – the touches, attention, and caring – or the medicines, wisdom teachings, civil society, technologies, or your own good efforts last year that you profit from today.
My transformational awareness journey began at age twenty when I broke my neck in gymnastics, was paralyzed and told I wasn’t going to recover. Completely recovering from my accident caused me to look at my life from a whole new perspective. Writing my book “Broken To Brilliant” allowed me to connect the dots (experiences) to develop a new perspective on why my life unfolded the way it did. More importantly, it exposed the truth of what really happened, versus the stories I told myself to make sense of my life. The things our minds make up to make us feel safe. All of our experiences and life stories have shaped us. How we interpret and give meaning to those stories forms the beliefs of who we think we are and what we’re capable of. Having an awareness of our stories is the first step in creating change in our lives.
Often, we believe that things in life, like this horrendous accident of mine, happen to us. I now believe life happens for us.
If you could gain a new awareness, a new perspective of your experiences and begin to uncover the potential gift in each one of them, how would your life be different? Having a new perspective could give you a whole new outlook on your life and a better understanding that ‘everything happens for a reason’.
Confidence: Quite simply, it means Freedom from Doubt, A Belief in Yourself and Your Innate Abilities. What I like to call ‘your Genius’.
Now, I think many people believe that confidence is…
Genetic (you had to be born with it)
Only available to those that are attractive or fit
An attitude that is gifted to you
Something your parents were supposed to teach you
What you feel only when everything is right and perfect in your life
Based on where you live or went to school or what degree you hold
Only for the wealthy
I’m going to challenge all those beliefs because I say confidence comes from knowing who you are and what you are here to share. Knowing what you do well that brings benefit to yourself and others. It could also include clarity around the message you are sending out to the world.
When you know how to communicate what you want, what you care about, what your innate gifts are and what you have to offer, then there is no doubt. To spin that in a positive way, there is CONFIDENCE.
To experience true creativity is to be lost in a flow state. It can feel as if a stream of ideas and messages moves through us – we just have to get out of the way and allow this magical process to happen.
Creativity by nature has a very fluid structure, which is why perfectionism can be the ultimate killer of creativity. Perfectionism is focused only on the end game. It has a strict idea of what we plan to create and it doesn’t allow space for something unique and surprising to emerge.
If the thing you create is not exact, if it goes outside the lines, then you deny it. Inherent in the word perfectionism is a denial of the perfection of everything as it is. It denies the opportunity for something to create its own form.
Getting to the root of your perfectionism
If you’re starting to explore how to overcome perfectionism, you have to start by getting to the root. What’s causing this tendency and desire in the first place?
Typically, perfectionism is rooted in our strident need for certainty. In the desired end result of approval. Often, this desire for approval from others comes from a deep wound.
If this pressure to be approved of by another person is deeply ingrained in us, it can start to feel as though we personally will not be whole if we don’t get the approval from someone outside of ourselves. So, we learn to deny approval from ourselves to ourselves unless we reach some perfection that seems to be always out of reach.
The balance of peace in the world can seem overwhelming, as if huge forces outside our control are in charge. But you can take a different perspective, setting yourself the goal of creating peace all around you. The source of violence, war, discontent, rebellion, and unrest lies inside each of us. When you become a unit of peace consciousness, exemplifying the quality known as Ahimsa (harmlessness) in Yoga, you have added in a unique way to bringing the world to a state of peace.
In the coming week, you can develop your peace consciousness by focusing on a different habit every day.
Life is in constant motion, but not everything in your life is at the same rate of motion.
An example is like riding in a car. You’re driving down a road, but everything that you’re driving past is moving past you. Why? Because you’re at a different rate of motion than everything that’s walking on the street or riding a bike. Your trajectory is at a different rate of motion than everything and everyone else in your life. Every now and again, you’ll bump into someone who’s at the same rate of motion. And those are the people that are sticky. They stick in your life, a product of momentum and energy. If someone is on an evolutionary journey and they’re committed to the evolutionary journey, more than likely, they’ll be able to hang with you.
It’s a little-known secret that our experience of life in any given moment is a direct reflection of what we actually value in that same moment. We may deny this unsettling truth, but when it comes to what we are in relationship with, inwardly and outwardly, actions speak louder than words—and, seen or not, all actions are a choice of one kind or another.
Nothing in the universe can make us choose to act against ourselves, as in when we consort with self-compromising negative states. Living in sorrow, with anger, or awash in regrets is a consensual affair. These dark states never dance alone; they must have a partner to produce their pain, which brings us to this good news: we are released from the dark embrace of any unhappy thought or feeling in the same moment we see that we’ve been tricked into dancing that troubled tango.
Use the following five insights to help you choose higher self-awareness as your new partner in life, and watch how effortless it becomes to start giving yourself what you really want.
I've Been Thinking...
"States are now fully open!" the news blared this week. "Offices are now asking workers to come back. Travelers are rushing to travel. Restaurants are overbooked.”
Meanwhile, other reports blasted: "Airlines are having to cancel hundreds of flights due to a pilot shortage. Retail workers are quitting at record numbers, leaving shoppers angry and unattended. Police departments are unable to fill job vacancies despite a new pandemic of gun violence. Summer getaways are overbooked due to overwhelming demand."
Wow. Everywhere you turn lately, it seems like people are ready to get things back to "normal." Everything is open or opening, and people are feeling impatient. They want to get going. I get it. They want to get back to traveling. They want to get whatever it is that they want, and they want to get it now.
If you want to be successful, reading books to help you grow in life is a very important discipline. I’ve been reading for a minimum of one hour a day over the past 53 years.
As a result, I’ve read more than 3,000 books in the fields of personal development, psychology, motivation, creativity, financial literacy, economics, relationships, communication skills, parenting, spiritual growth, health and fitness, leadership, marketing, social media, sales skills, social change, and environmental sustainability.
Today I want to talk to you about the importance of reading every day as part of your daily disciplines for success. I’ll share with you 11 books I highly recommend that have also helped me.
The Way I Choose Books to Help You Grow
As you probably know, I divide my life into seven specific areas:
- Job and career
- Health and fitness
- Fun and recreation
The personal area of my life includes education, spiritual development, and any possessions I want to own or experiences I want to face. Contribution means making a difference, such as through philanthropy and leaving a legacy.
As you’ll see from the 11 books I share with you today, they cover most of these areas.