The way we think and feel moment by moment has a huge influence over the results we experience. Use this simple, easy to remember strategy to keep feeling at your best when you need it most.

superman

I am very excited to bring you the first in a brand new video series: “The Life Happens Little Lessons”. These are short, snappy personal growth and development tips and insights to keep you firmly on the path of success and happiness.

In today’s video I’ll share with you a simply and easy to apply strategy to get you back into a resourceful frame of mind for those times when life wants to see what you’re made of! We all face daily challenges; its what we do about them that ultimately determines our results.

Warm wishes,

signature

Share the love! If you’ve enjoyed this post please tweet it, like it and / or leave a comment below. Thank you

Do you worry too much? Do you wonder how to stop worrying, or at least worry less? Let’s take a look at the purpose of worry and a useful strategy for feeling more influential over your circumstances.

“Don’t worry about the future; or worry, but know that worrying is as effective as trying to solve an algebra equation by chewing bubblegum.” Line from ‘Everybody’s Free (to Wear Sunscreen)’ by Baz Luhrmann

How to stop worryingOne of the more enlightening ‘a-ha’ moments I’ve had on my adventures into the world of personal growth was having it pointed to me out how much energy I invested into fussing over things I had no control over.

It was back when I was starting out as an over-eager, wet behind the ears, newly qualified NLP practitioner, determined to create an über successful personal development empire (sound familiar, anyone?) But I was broke and had the business savvy of stuffed goat. Despite all my training in state management and ‘resourceful thinking’, I couldn’t help feeling blocked from every angle trying to get a business off the ground.

I sat down with my mentor and described to her the difficulties I was facing:

It was a saturated market. The competition were way more experienced and I was. Advertising was too expensive. People might think I was too young to be taken seriously.

She listened compassionately and patiently waited for me to finish my rant, then asked, “With so many things you can focus on in business, why would you focus on the things you can’t do anything about?”

That hit me like a brick. It was uncomfortable to take at first, but the discomfort quickly dissolved into a huge sense of relief. She was right. The only thing my worrying was enabling me to do was to move further away from the creativity my fledgling business was crying out for.

[pullquote align=”left”]”Worry is just a misguided strategy for feeling safe. When you worry, it is because part of you believes you can worry your way to a helpful insight, but that is rarely the case.”[/pullquote]From there I made a commitment to only focus on that which I could influence. I decided not to spend money I didn’t have on advertising, but instead to have more real conversations with more real people about the ways I could serve them. I gave up waiting for paying clients to whom I could demonstrate my expertise and started sharing it for free via talks, articles and podcasts (which resulted in paying clients).

Progress was slow, but it was 100% more progress than I had experienced prior to that moment of clarity.

Nowadays, I still find myself worrying about things I can’t change, but I’ve gotten a heck of a lot better at spotting when I’m doing it and shifting my focus towards a more useful way of thinking.

We all worry about stuff, it’s part of the human condition. Some of us contain it to trivialities such as the weather, what clothes to wear or what other people think. But some of us could represent our countries in the ‘Worry Olympics'; threating over the dire economy, the state of humanity or the potential for an alien invasion.

Worry is just a misguided strategy for feeling safe. When you worry, it is because part of you believes you can worry your way to a helpful insight, but that is rarely the case. All worry does is feed your imagination with a disaster movie loop that begets more worry. And of course, your imagination is not reality.

However, it is not your job to eradicate worry any more than it’s your job to eradicate the weather. But it is your job to practice wisdom. You don’t always choose the thoughts that pop into your head, but you can always choose what to do with them once they are there.

The saying, ‘There’s no such thing as bad weather, only inappropriate clothes’, can easily be translated as, ‘There’s no such thing as bad reality, only unhelpful thinking.’

AN OLYMPIC STRATEGY FOR DEALING WITH WORRY

One of the simplest, yet most powerful ways I’ve found to exercise more of my own wisdom in difficult circumstances is to remember a phrase popularised by Charlie Jones, a sportscaster covering the rowing events of the 1996 Atlanta Olympics.

Interviewing the various teams prior to their heats, he’d often ask how they planned to deal with the various challenges they might face; the stiff competition, adverse weather conditions, being placed in an outside lane, breaking an oar, etc. What he was struck by was the frequency with which he got the same response:

“That’s outside my boat.”

The athletes refused to comment on any dynamic of the race that they could not directly control. They only focused on two basic questions:

“Is it inside the boat?” and, “Does it make the boat go faster?”

Recognising what is inside and what is outside your boat is fundamental to getting more of what you want out of life.

The fact that you don’t have more money in your bank account, at this precise moment in time, is outside your boat. So, if having more money is important to you, what is inside your boat that you do have influence over?

If a hundred highly qualified candidates have applied for the same dream job as you, that’s outside your boat. What would be most useful for you to focus on to give yourself the greatest chance of standing out? You might not get it, and that’s also outside your boat, so what’s your back-up?

It is outside your boat that your kids may be exposed to some of the less savoury aspects of the big bad world. What positive, healthy strategies do you have inside your boat to prepare them well and to trust their judgement?

It is also worth knowing that what is outside your boat may just be reflective of how things stand today. If you are willing to be patient and take a longer term view, things can often change in a big way with the help of your consistent, little, inside-the-boat nudges. Even international laws have been changed through the persistent loving actions of lowly individuals.

It’s a cliché, but nothing in your life ever changed just because you worried enough about it. Think about what are you able to physically influence right now, even if it is just how to find a little more peace within yourself.

Drop me a line in the comments below and let me know what you are ready to stop worrying about.

I’ll leave you with a reminder of these classic lines from the ‘Serenity Prayer’.

“Grant us the serenity to accept the things we cannot change,
courage to change the things we can,
and wisdom to know the difference.”

With love,

signature

Share the love! If you’ve enjoyed this post please tweet it, like it and / or leave a comment below. Thank you

Whitney Houston sang, “Learning to love yourself is the greatest love of all.” But why is self-love so important? And why is it the hardest kind of love to master?

“Loving yourself…does not mean being self-absorbed or narcissistic, or disregarding others. Rather it means welcoming yourself as the most honored guest in your own heart, a guest worthy of respect, a lovable companion.” – Margo Anand

Self Love

Imagine that you and I are standing face to face and I proudly tell you, “I love myself”. What would your initial reaction be?

Would you think, “That’s nice, I’m pleased he feels that way”?

Would you think, “Er, OK, that’s a weird thing to share openly”?

Or would you think, “Wow, he’s full of himself. He must have an over-inflated ego”?

Of course, what you think will be in some way based on the existing beliefs and perceptions you already have of me, but interestingly, it will also be (and perhaps more so) indicative of your own comfort level with the topic of self-love.

Virtually all personal growth and spiritual disciplines throughout time point towards the importance of loving and accepting yourself. Psychologists call it ‘positive self regard’. And it is not important just because it feels nice; it’s important because your attitude towards yourself shows up everywhere in your reality.

[pullquote align=”left”]”…there is no shortage of happiness in the world, only a lack of clarity about where it comes from.”[/pullquote]The desire to overcome any problem you have in life is really, at its core, a desire to heal the relationship within. It may not look that way on the outside, but unconsciously you recognise that the world is just a mirror reflecting your self-image right back at you.

As happiness expert, Dr Robert Holden, writes in his book, Loveability, “The quality of your relationship with yourself determines the quality of your relationship with everything else.”

This is the ultimate truth about where authentic lasting happiness really comes from.

The more willing we are to accept and love ourselves just the way we are, the less we go looking for comfort and happiness in the wrong places. I guess one way of looking at it is that there is no shortage of happiness in the world, only a lack of clarity about where it comes from.

No amount of comfort-eating can come close the comfort of self-acceptance.

A credit card transaction can never love you like you can love you.

Judging and proving others wrong will never give you the same inner satisfaction as when you give up judging yourself.

Obsessing that your partner doesn’t love you enough becomes irrelevant when you love yourself enough.

So why is the whole self-love thing so hard?

A lot of it has to do with our conditioning. We want so badly to be accepted by others and to maintain a ‘meaningful’ identity, that the truth about who we really are gets concealed by our glossy personas. Anything we think or feel on the inside that contradicts our socially pleasing outer image becomes a target for our own disrespect.

Self-love gets a bad press, particularly in the western world.

We are taught to value humility and are put off by self-righteousness. We confuse self-love for narcissism and so comply with the social expectation of loving others more than we love ourselves. The irony is that the way we offer our love to them is driven by own capacity for self-love.

[pullquote align=”right”]”The extent to which you find yourself comfortable in your own skin is the extent to which you are willing to accept yourself unconditionally.”[/pullquote]When we say things like, “She really loves herself”, we often don’t mean it in a good way. If we don’t like it in others, we’re certainly not going to like in ourselves. But what we are resisting there is an ‘egotistical’ self regard, which is very different to the more authentic kind of self-love that heals our lives.

I used to have an awful relationship with myself. I had a lot of love to give, but none of it was for me. The mistaken belief I had was that my happiness was dependent on how much other people approved of me.

I had a lot of friends, but I put so much energy into trying to be what I thought they wanted me to be that I was always anxious about being exposed as a fraud. Weirdly, my strategy for finding happiness was the exact same strategy that was making me miserable.

It wasn’t until I learned about the true nature of happiness that I felt brave enough to look my insecurities in the face and see what love could do. What I noticed was as I treated myself with more kindness and compassion, everything in my life got better. I felt happier, healthier, more present, more authentic and more available to others.

If you only ever set one goal in life, make it the goal of loving yourself wholly and completely. It might be the most challenging journey you ever embark on, but no other journey will be as rewarding or have such a vital impact on so many areas of your life. Make it your mission to observe how your relationship with everyone and everything improves as your relationship with yourself improves.

 

HOMEWORK

 

Here are three things you can begin to focus on right now to strengthen your foundations of self-love. Grab yourself a journal, sit somewhere quiet and be generous with the time you spend reflecting openly and honestly on this exercise.

1, Appreciation

List 5 qualities you genuinely appreciate about yourself, exactly as you are, right now. Perhaps its your courage, your caring nature, your parenting skills. Whatever they are, let yourself sink in the feeling of appreciation that these qualities are present in you, and positive difference they make to your life.

2, Forgiveness

It is impossible to truly love yourself and hold onto judgment at the same time. List 5 things you are willing to forgive yourself for. Perhaps its for the times you’ve put yourself down, for past errors in judgement, or for not looking after your physical / emotional wellbeing.

Sometimes self-forgiveness comes easy and sometimes there is resistance. If there are things about yourself you find hard to forgive, please stick with it. The purpose of forgiveness is not to simply make ourselves feel better about the past; it is to restore ourselves to our truest potential, so we can extend our best, most loving selves out into the world.

3, Acceptance

On a spiritual level you are already perfect. There is absolutely nothing wrong with your soul. But on a practical, human level, there are always going to be things that you are good at and things that you are not so good at.

The extent to which you find yourself comfortable in your own skin is the extent to which you are willing to accept yourself unconditionally. This means loving your rough edges too.

List 5 ways you can be more accepting of your whole self. For example, see if you can love your body just the way it is right now? It doesn’t mean you won’t still work at getting into better shape; it just means you don’t have to hate it while you do.

Can you make your peace with not being the most gifted driver, diplomat, artist or intellectual on the planet? None of these abilities have anything to do with your ability to accept and love yourself fully now.

 

I hope you are inspired to focus on you today. Please let me know how helpful this post is to you by dropping a comment in the box below.

With love

signature

 

 

Share the love! If you’ve enjoyed this post please tweet it, like it and / or leave a comment below. Thank you

 

In a world where the rate of technological advancement and scientific discovery is speeding up, it seems that our threshold for being amazed is getting higher and higher.

“When it’s over, I want to say: all my life I was a bride married to amazement. I was the bridegroom, taking the world into my arms.”  ~ Mary Oliver

Wonder of flightIf you could go back in time to 1990 and tell your younger self that in less than 20 years you’ll have this really cool thing called the internet on your mobile phone, which itself will be a fraction of the size of the brick you currently lug around (if you even have one), the younger you would no doubt be amazed.

As I write this post I am sat in a Starbucks enjoying a cappuccino that I paid for using my phone. And later, probably before I leave, I’ll have emailed these words to scores of people dotted about on every continent. I think that’s pretty cool. I could not have imagined it as a possibility 10 years ago. I’d barely even heard of Google back then.

We’re all used to this kind of way of life now. But does that make it any less amazing?

I’ve just returned from a short consulting trip to Dubai, which I thought was an amazing place because of its scale and opulence. Even on the flights there and back I was amazed at the availability of WIFI and 3G access throughout. I was amazed at how the colossal A380 I was travelling on could take off, stay up and land with such elegance and control.

I don’t know about you but I LOVE being amazed.

In the personal development world we talk a lot about the importance of gratitude in living happy and fulfilling lives. It seems to me that the state of being truly grateful comes more naturally to us when it is preceded with a sense of amazement and wonder. It’s pretty hard for us to be positively amazed by something and not to, at some level, be thankful that we are around to be a part of what’s happening.

But we don’t have to wait to be dazzled. We don’t have wait to be presented with something groundbreaking and revolutionary before exercising our wonder muscles. If we are just willing to consciously lower our ‘amazement threshold’ and notice the incredible nature of everything that surrounds us moment by moment, we can all be reconnected to our innate childlike wonder.

For instance, the next time you get yourself a glass of water, take a moment to consider that every drop of water you are about drink are the exact same drops that arrived on Earth around 4.5 BILLION years ago on icy comets from the far reaches of space. And how that transparent liquid is responsible for all life on this planet. And how if it weren’t for some fluke (or miracle) of universal physics, that water might not have arrived and you wouldn’t even be here to observe it. Isn’t that mind blowing?

How about looking down at your hands? Wiggle your fingers. Observe them with a sense of curiosity. How much of what you do in your life is only possible because of those weird, spindly, tentacle like tools?

Isn’t it fascinating how a caterpillar morphs into a butterfly?

How amazing is it that we, as a relatively young species, have managed to achieve and create so much? From harnessing energy and sending humans into space, to being able to jump in the car and go to the supermarket.

Your homework for today is to see how far you can lower your own amazement threshold.

Amazement, wonder and gratitude are nutrient rich supplements that nourish and inspire the soul.

I’d love to know what simple things amaze you. Please leave a comment below and help to inspire us all.

Namaste

signature

 

 

P.S. Please help me spread this post to more people by liking it, tweeting it and +1 it. Thanks so much :)

Life PurposeThank you so much if you were able to complete the Life Purpose Survey I send out recently. I am delighted with the quality and quantity of the responses and the stories shared.

While it would be impractical to share all of the individual responses here, I have analysed all of them collectively and have identified the common recurring themes.

Below you can see the resulting themes for each of the survey questions listed in order of their popularity (most popular first). Some of the themes have an equal weighting.

I had an inkling that the issue of ‘life purpose’ would be interesting to you, but I admit even I was surprised by the level of passion you shared in this area. It has really helped me to get clear on where I will focus my attention this year to add the right kind of value for you.

In the coming weeks I will be announcing some VERY cool news about a new ‘sister’ website I am launching to run alongside Life Happens. It is dedicated to providing you with everything you need to identify, clarify and live from your unique and authentic life purpose (and how to deal those annoying obstacles too!)

 

On a scale of 1 – 10 how connected do you currently feel to a sense of purpose in your life? (1 = No sense of purpose whatsoever / 10 = Totally connected to a life purpose)

 

10 – 4.7 %

9 – 11.6 %

8 – 18.6 %

7 – 18.6 %

6 – 25.6 %

5 – 7.0 %

4 – 9.3 %

3 – 2.3 %

2 – 0.0 %

1 – 2.3%             Average = 6.65 %

What is your personal definition of what it means to live a life of purpose?

1 = Making a positive contribution to the world / lives of others

2 = To continually grow and develop on a personal / spiritual level

3 = To know your values and live true to them

4 = To have goals / be goal driven / have a clear vision

5 = To do work that is fulfilling and enjoyable

5 = Finding a comfortable balance across all areas of life

6 = Choosing to have a positive attitude

6 = Having an opportunity to utilise your talents

7 = Remembering to be present and enjoy the moment

7 = Focusing on gratitude

7 = Always being involved in something that inspires you

What challenges or obstacles prevent you from having a greater sense of purpose in life, or prevent you from living in a more purposeful way?

1 = Negative thinking / self-doubt / self-worth

2 = “I don’t know what I want” / Too many distractions to focus on purpose

3 = Fear of change / worrying about the future

4 = Lack of money / feeling tied to my current salary

4 = Lack of time / too busy

5 = Putting other’s needs before my own

5 = Lack of energy

6 = “I’m in the wrong environment to do what I want to do.”

7 = Depression / low moods

7 = Don’t have any connection with like minded people

If you could ask for some expert guidance, in any area, that would help you to live with a greater sense of life purpose, what would ask?

1 = How to find something that inspires me / get clarity on what my life purpose is

1 = Strategies for managing my mindset (attitude) / Nurturing my mind, body and spirit

2 = How to build self-confidence / overcome fear

3 = Time management and prioritising what is important / making space for more purpose in my life

4 = How to stay motivated

4 = How to stop worrying about the future

5 = How to maintain healthy, balanced relationships

5 = How to be more assertive

5 = How to get paid for doing work I love

6 = How to make more money

With Love

Paul

relationshipsI received an email this week from one of my lovely Australian subscribers in response to a “Life Happens LIVE” podcast episode called “Opening Up To New Thinking”. She told me how it had given her new insight about the way we experience our thinking and, in particular, a new understanding of how we experience other people.

Inspired by this feedback, today I want to expand a little on the tangible difference we can all make to our own lives when we deepen our understanding of the inside out nature of relationships.

Often times, particularly when we are busy, tired or stressed, we react to relationships as if it they are happening to us; like we are the puppet and they are the puppet master pulling all the strings.

But moment by moment we live in the feeling of our thinking… always. There is never a time when we are not feeling what we are thinking, even when it really, really, REALLY looks like it is the outside world that is responsible for our emotional state.

As Mr. Einstein wisely put it, “Reality is an illusion, albeit a persistent one.”

You can transform your experience of any relationship for the better by taking ownership of the part you play in creating it.
So here I’m going to address relationships from two angles. The relationships you have with others and the one you have with yourself.

Owning Your Experience of Other People

I believe that fundamentally the purpose of having relationships with other people is that they serve to teach you more about yourself. They are a magnifier of your personal values. There is nothing like a close relationship to highlight what is really important to you, which is why they can be both a source of joy and immense frustration.

With an ‘outside in’ perspective it is easy to believe that the attitudes and actions of others is the reason you are not getting more of what you want in life. You might feel hurt by something they’ve said, restricted by their judgments or feel agitated by their different point of view. But when you calmly take a step back and see what’s really going on you are likely to recognise that things aren’t quite what they seem. There are actually four people in every relationship:

  1. You

  2. Them

  3. The version of them you hold in your head of who you think they are and the story you have about the way they should be.

  4. The version of you they hold in their head and the expectation they have for you.

It is fascinating that you are never really seeing the person as they truly are. Your interaction with them has to go through the filter of your thinking, which is clouded with all your personal philosophies, beliefs and values. And of course they are doing the same back.

Owning your experience of other people is about recognising that they are far more than you perceive them to be. If you feel tension or frustration around your relationship with them, it is not necessarily entirely their fault. It is more likely that something has rubbed up against your story, which means it is time to create some space to reconnect to your inside out understanding of the ‘thought / feeling’ system. Of course, other people can encourage you react negatively, but they can’t make you. You provide your own thoughts and interpretations that make up your reality.

All relationships heal and flourish when both sides are willing to drop their story and allow the other person to be a whole human being. But even when the other side still holds onto their story about you, you can be wise enough to know that they are just expressing their own ‘outside in’ experience and that, deep down, it has surprisingly little to do with you!

Owning Your Experience of Yourself

In the same way that you create stories and mental versions of the people in your life, you do exactly the same to yourself too. We all do (ain’t no shame in it!).

You have a self-image; a way of identifying with the kind of person you think you are. You have a belief about whether you are a good person or not. You compare yourself to others and get a feeling of being better or worse off than them. You praise yourself for a job well done, but you are also your harshest critic. You probably have a feeling of certainty about what you can and can’t do.

But again, you far more than you think you are. Your self-image is a product of the ego, whose primary function is to keep itself alive and relevant by feeding you stories and false evidence about the way human experience really works. It’s intention is always positive, but it often has a cack-handed way of serving your best interests. It thinks that by making you judge and chastise yourself you’ll do better next time. Or it will show you a vivid mental disaster movie of what will happen if you get something wrong, so that you don’t risk it and stay playing safe on the lower steps of life.

The ego is a ‘learned-self’. Through a lifetime of interpreting your experiences and applying meaning to them it has learned and created ‘plausible’ concepts to help you navigate your world.

But beyond you ego is your ‘unconditioned self’. This is who you really are. It is the you that plays host to your true potential, your inner wisdom and intuition. Is it the BIG you.

Your unconditioned self is a place of permanent and pure wellbeing because it has not been polluted by personal thinking.

Have you ever wondered why some of your most insightful ideas have come to you while you’ve not been thinking about them too much? It is because you took your ego out of the equation and let your wisdom do its work.

Spending time contemplating what you would be capable of if you no longer believed the limiting stories of your ego is one of the most freeing exercises you can engage in.

Real personal growth is less about trying to improve yourself and more about accepting your true nature. No amount of self-improvement can make up for any lack of self-acceptance.

The most effective way to own your experience of you is to know that you are not your ego and to practice self-forgiveness. Genuinely forgive yourself for all the times you’ve put yourself down, prevented yourself from taking courageous steps, or for judging others unfairly.

Without forgiveness you can never fully connect to the potential and the wholeness of your being. Forgiveness really does set you free.

And the next time you notice your ego trying to convince you that your experience of life is coming from out there rather than from in here, you can just smile at it and say, “Thank you very much, I’ll take it from here.”

 

With love

signature

“Here to help you live with purpose.”

Share the love! If you’ve enjoyed this post please tweet it, like it and / or leave a comment below. Thank you :)