Most of us have two lives. The life we live, and the unlived life within us. Between the two, stands Resistance. ~ Steven Pressfield (Author – The War of Art)

inspiration

Imagine what your life would be like if you had followed through on every inspired idea you have ever had. I don’t mean those half-baked ideas like proposing a naked office day or taking a chainsaw to the roof of your car because you can’t quite afford that convertible yet! I mean the INSPIRED ideas that you were convinced would improve your life, or the lives of others, in a significant way.

Not only that, but imagine a world in which everyone else has also put all of their inspired ideas into action too. How many more businesses, books, charities, inventions, products, services, relationships would exist in the world if everyone felt truly compelled to turn their inspiration into reality?

Whether you’ve believed it or not, you are a creative genius with a powerful ability to manifest whatever you are inspired to imagine. But, because you are like every human being that has ever lived, many of your inspired creative imaginings are likely to have been safely filed away under ‘i’ for ‘if only…’

We may be very good at coming up with great ideas for making our lives better but we are also exceptionally gifted at finding ways to stop ourselves from following through.

In order to live your best, most satisfying life you have to get good at following your inspiration.

The reason for this is simple…

The feeling of being inspired is nature’s way of re-connecting you to your inner happiness.

Inspiration is a sign post to your most authentic self.

Inspiration is your innate Wisdom giving you instructions on how to become truly alive.

Inspiration isn’t there to offer you some interesting ‘nice to haves’. It is there to illuminate the kind of life you are supposed to be living.

Deep down, in your soul, you have always known what a life of purpose and meaning should look like, even if you haven’t been aware of it consciously, and inspiration is the tool that your wisdom uses to keep nudging you in the right direction.

But if inspiration is such important force in our lives, why do we work so hard at ignoring it? Why might a writer put off writing? Why would an entrepreneur not launch that brilliant new product? What would stop someone getting involved with their favourite charity?

It is because there is a counter force to inspiration and it is called Resistance.

Overcoming resistance and following your inspiration is the ultimate key to achieving authentic happiness and success.

Resistance is the primary cause of us getting in the way of our own success. Whereas inspiration embraces change and is excited about the possibility of creating something wonderful and new, resistance wants to keep things exactly as they are right now. Resistance’s one and only function is to do whatever it takes to stop inspiration rocking the boat and disturbing what would otherwise be a safe and certain life.

The consequence, of course, is that every time resistance wins we are left with a temporary feeling of comfort that quickly shifts back to dissatisfaction.

The extent to which we get to love our lives can be summed up by what I call the FIR equation.

 F = I – R

or

FULFILLMENT = INSPIRATION – RESISTANCE (to acting on inspiration)

Some people confuse resistance with procrastination, but these are two very different things. Procrastination is simply putting off doing something that you didn’t really want to do in the first place. Resistance is finding rational reasons for not doing what you have felt inspired to do.

Resistance knows that inspiration is both powerful and persistent and so it has had to learn to be cunning in the way it operates. Here are just five of the common ways you might recognise your resistance at work:

1 – Playing Yourself Down

This is where Resistance passes the mic to your inner critic, which will say things like, “Who is going to take little old you seriously?”, “Who do you think you are?”, “Haven’t you got more important things to do with your time?”, “Stop bothering the world with your silly dreams”, “Get back in your box”…

Getting you to listening to the voice of doubt is a highly effective way for resistance to snuff out the fire of inspiration.

2 – Excuses and Rationalisations

You try to convince yourself that there are many obstacles standing in the way of getting started. For example, the day you said you would sit down and write your business plan suddenly becomes the day you simply must clean the house from top to bottom. Or, rather than keeping your weekend free to immerse yourself in a creative project you offer to run errands for your neighbour’s uncle’s friend instead.

Believing your made-up excuses and rationalisations means you get to feel justified in busying yourself doing anything other than following your inspiration.

3 – The Guilt Trip

If needs be, resistance will play the guilt card. It will tell you that it is selfish to spend time and energy focusing on yourself when those around you need attention to. Or you’ll get a feeling that the people close to you won’t approve of what you want to do and so, for the sake of maintaining harmony, you decide not to go ahead. A symptom of this is that you feel a secret resentment towards others for standing in your way. That is a very clever trick of resistance; to make it someone else’s fault.

4 – The Disaster Movie

Your nervous system cannot tell the difference between something that is real and something that you vividly imagine. This is why resistance will often have you imagine disastrous consequences of what might happen if you act on your inspiration. For example, people will judge you harshly when it all goes wrong. You’ll be humiliated. You’ll let yourself down. You’ll waste a lot of time and money. With enough emotional charge each of these thoughts can start feel like inevitable facts, so it is no wonder that resistance gains the upper hand. But remember, they are just thoughts.

5 – Self-Sabotage

When inspiration does get a decent head start and you begin to see some positive results, this is when resistance really digs it’s heals in. It looks for ways to trip you up and sabotage your current and future success. It will find a way to make you late for an important meeting. It will convince you to follow through on a bad decision, against your better judgement. It will take you off track by distracting you with non-important matters. You might even get sick, for no apparent reason, at the exact time you are about to complete a major milestone, such as giving an important presentation or attending an interview.

But why? What is the purpose of resistance?

Well, you can probably guess that resistance is routed in fear. It is a sophisticated defensive mechanism created by your ego (or your ‘Learned Self’) as a means of self-preservation.

The ego is a very fragile thing; it bruises easily. In order for you to make a change in your life, such as acting on your inspiration to create something new, you have to make an adjustment to you self-image, i.e. “I am the type of person that does this kind of thing!” But your ego likes your self-image just the way it is. It hates change. It certainly doesn’t want you to do anything that will invite criticism.

Even if you are successful your ego is in trouble because its current dimension will inevitably have to get bent out of shape.

Inspiration, on the other hand, comes from an entirely different place. Inspiration is the name we give to the emotional energy that naturally flows up from your Unconditioned Self; the BIGGER you that exists beyond your ego; The REAL you.

Inspiration is a message from your unconscious wisdom telling you to go out there and be the fullest, most positive expression of you who you REALLY are. It sees an opportunity in the world for you to act in alignment with your authentic nature and it encourages you to grab it with both hands so you can live your best life.

Resistance wants you to:

• Play small
• Go through life unnoticed
• Not rock the boat
• Fit in or blend into the background
• Never take a risk

Your inspiration urges you to:

• Play big
• Shout from the roof tops
• Challenge the norm
• Celebrate your uniqueness and stand out from the crowd
• Take risks in service of becoming truly alive

Resistance is like an overly concerned parent. It would much prefer you to play on the lower steps of life so that you don’t have very far to fall. But inspiration is the birthplace of happiness. It is love in action.

Yes, it is true that following inspiration can sometimes feel like you are falling through the air with nothing to hold on to; no parachute. But the good news is there is no ground, so you learn to gracefully dive through the unknown and enjoy every moment.

So how can you eliminate resistance?

The truth is you can’t! As long as you are alive and inspired resistance will be vying from your attention and sometimes it will win. You don’t have to be hard on yourself; it just means you are Human. But you can learn to be vigilant and more masterful at recognising resistance’s clever tricks.

Just like when you learn a magician’s secrets you are no longer fooled by the illusion, recognising your resistance AS resistance will free you up to re-connect to your inspiration and keep moving forward.

The quality of your life will ultimately be determined by your willingness to make love more important than fear, or, to put it another way, to make inspiration more important than resistance.

——————————————————————————–
HOMEWORK
——————————————————————————–

Think about something that you have been inspired to do but have not acted on.

Make a list of all the ways resistance has been attempting to stop you taking action:

• What excuses has it made you believe?
• What limiting feelings or negative self-talk have you experienced?
• What rationalisation has it given you for why now isn’t the right time to start?
• Where has it been placing the blame outside of you?

As you recognise and accept the truth about your resistance in this area, bring your attention back to what caused you to be inspired in the first place.

Notice that inspiration has its own natural energy that surges through your being. Notice that the more you allow inspiration to linger and take hold the more you feel compelled to move in that direction.

Thank your resistance for whatever positive intention it had for you and decide to move forward despite its attempts to hold you back.

Know, with all your heart, that inspiration is the elixir of your life and the more you follow it the better and more vital your life becomes.

Please come and share what you are inspired to do at the Life Happens Facebook page.
Take great care. Namaste.

 

 

“Do not confuse peace of mind with spaced-out insensitivity. A truly peaceful mind is very sensitive, very aware.” – Tenzin Gyatso (14th Dalai Lama)

peace of mind

We all want peace of mind. But how do you cultivate peace of mind in midst of a hectic day? In this post I’ll give you some strategies for remaining calm and centred, even when the world around you seems to be in a spin.

The busier and more chaotic our lives get the more likely we are to let our unconscious mind do all our thinking for us. This, in turn, increases the likelihood that we will experience an ‘outside-in’ version of the world, i.e. we mistakenly believe that it is what is happening to us on the outside that is responsible for how we feel on the inside.

When life is hectic and it feels as though we have a million things to do it can genuinely feel as though the world is racing and that we have our work cut out to keep up with it. Of course the truth is that the world is going at exactly the same speed it has always been traveling at. The only variable that changes from moment to moment is the quality and speed at which we rattle through our thoughts, giving us the perception that we are living in either fast time or slow time.

Have you ever been on a train that is sat stationary at the platform and felt as though you were already moving because the train next to you started to pull away? Well, that is how we often experience our thinking. The reality is that we are just human beings having thoughts in a relatively still world, but those thoughts can create the illusion that we are being swept away in the fast moving current of our busy lives.

So, one of the things I will often recommend to clients is that they build moments of peacefulness into their routine. There are two reasons for this. The first is that there are undeniable benefits to health and wellbeing that accompany the act of deliberate relaxation, particularly if their busy lives feel stressful to them. The second is that by taking time to enjoy a moment of peace, it becomes a lot easier to see the link between thought and feeling, which inevitably creates a doorway to a deeper and wiser level of understanding.

We might think that in order to keep on top of our immense ‘to do’ list we have to throw all of our focus and energy into keeping those plates spinning, but often the effect of that is just to become overwhelmed and less resourceful. The feeling of overwhelm is not so much caused by the length of your ‘to do’ list or the number of spinning plates you have on the go, but by what you are afraid it might mean if you don’t keep up.

That fear is just a thought that feels real.

That is not to say that whether you complete your tasks or not doesn’t have consequences, but by definition, at this moment in time, those consequences are only imagined possible outcomes that have not taken place in reality. The fact is we can never know ahead of time how anything will really pan out, so all we can do is bring our best selves to the table to give ourselves the greatest chances of success. But it is hard to be our best, most resourceful selves all the time we are held captive to the imagined pressure of our own busyness.

A great antidote to the stress of hectic living is to practice a regular relaxation routine, such as meditation or guided visualisation. However, I know the reason many busy people do not indulge in these kinds of activities, even though they would love to, is the belief that it requires an investment of yet more of their time and energy. They are likely to say:

“Meditation! Seriously? Have you seen my life? Just when do you think I’m going to get the time to meditate. Nice idea, but dream on!”

So, to make the benefits mediation more accessible to exceptionally busy people I’d like to make a distinction between the act of meditation and the meditative state.

The act of meditation does require you to take a few moments out of your day, to sit quietly and remain peacefully still, just breathing and connecting to a higher level of consciousness. Over time and with practice your ability to let go of your stressful thoughts and to just experience the present moment becomes easier and more effortless. This alone is a wonderful way to refresh your senses and gain a renewed healthy perspective on your current situation. The paradox is that by investing the time into de-stressing and reconnecting to your innate wellbeing you actually become far more resourceful and are able to operate more efficiently in the time you have remaining. In other words, you will get more done in less time to a higher standard.

I’m reminded of a quote. I don’t remember it verbatim or who it is attributed to (possibly Gandhi), but it goes:

“I have such a lot to accomplish today I’m going to have to meditate for twice as long.”

It is important to remember, though, that the purpose of meditating is not simply to engage in the ACT of meditation; it is to experience the meditative state. We all naturally fluctuated in our levels of awareness throughout the day and the meditative state is just a heightened level of awareness that you can access any place, anytime, anywhere; even smack bang in the middle of your busy day. It is not necessary for you to adopt the lotus position and you certainly don’t have to hum!

If you can take 20 to 30 minutes each day to sit and meditate or be guided through a relaxing visualisation (sign up for the free ecourse for audio to help you do this) then I would absolutely recommend that you do that, but if you can’t, or simply don’t want to, then you can still experience the benefits of the meditative state while you go about your daily activities. All you need to do is draw your awareness to your senses and to become mindful of whatever it is you happen to be doing at the time; to just get really present.

There are a couple of strategies that I want to share with you to help you have greater peace of mind in the midst of a chaotic schedule.

1. Mindfulness

The best way I can describe mindfulness is that it is what happens when all of your senses get really curious about what you are doing.

So let’s say that you are typing at your computer. The first step would be to pause and to take a slow deep breath, clear you head and let your body release any tension it may have a been feeling. Then, you would start to become aware of what you are aware ofl with each of your senses, such as the weight of your body pressing down into the chair, the feel of your clothes on your skin, the temperature of the air, your fingertips on the keyboard, everything you can see in your primary and peripheral vision, all of the sounds you can hear, both obvious and subtle…

The more you simply notice and experience whatever happens to be in your sensory reality, in that moment, the more grounded in the present you will become. It is fascinating that any feelings of stress or anxiety are likely to naturally dissipate as the frame of mind that was keeping them alive gives way to the peace of the Now. It is also amazing how much more ‘task focus’ you are able to bring as you resume your work with a clear head and comfortable body.

2. ‘The Only Thing in the World’

Once you are more centred and grounded in the present, the second strategy is one that I call ‘The only thing in the world’. The premise of this is that you set yourself the intention that whatever it is you are about to do, you are going to do it like it really, REALLY matters and that it is the only thing in the world that needs your attention in that very moment.

So again, if you are typing, you would continue to be quietly mindful of your sensory experience whilst allowing your creative mind to effortlessly focus on the best, most appropriate words to type in order to convey your message perfectly. In that moment nobody wants anything, nobody expects anything from you and there is nothing whatsoever for you do except to type like it really matters.

If the thought of focusing on just one task to the exclusion of every other task that has also made it to number one on your priority list freaks you out, then it is good to remind yourself that no matter what happens you can only physically do one thing at a time anyway. As soon as you’re done with whatever is front you, the next thing you turn to will become the only thing in the world that needs your attention. The key is to just continue being mindful of the present moment.

If you think you will need a bit of practice trying out these strategies, a fun time to do it is when you are washing up. The next time you are about to do the dishes take a deep breath, relax your body and get present with all of your senses. Then meticulously clean each of those dishes like it is the most important thing in the world. I also suspect that your unconscious will accept this as a beautiful metaphor for cleansing the mind.
——————————————————————————–
HOMEWORK
——————————————————————————–

Think about your schedule for the next week decide ahead of time where and when you will have the intention of being mindful and present as you go about your work.

As you experiment with these strategies, please do come and tell me what your observations have been at the Life Happens Facebook page.
Take great care. Namaste.

signature

“Everyone in this world shares the same innate source of wisdom, but it is hidden by the tangle of our own misguided thoughts.” – Sydney Banks

unconditioned self

Beyond your ego there is an unconditioned self that is your true identity.

One of the coolest things about Transformative Coaching is that it encourages us peek behind the façade of our own story telling. That is, when we are willing loosen our grip a little and stop holding on so tightly to the personal thoughts we have about who we are and the way the world is supposed to work, we allow a space to open up in which we get to see our true nature more clearly.

You’ve probably heard the expression “the truth will set you free”. Well, the truth about who you really are and how the world really works is actually quite profound. So profound, in fact, that as you begin to get your head around it and understand its implications, you are likely to experience an incredible sense of personal freedom unlike anything you have experienced before.

Why? Because one of the first things that becomes very apparent, when you really take the time to look, is that the majority of the suffering we experience in our lives is not derived from what happens to us, but from our own scary thinking about what we make things mean.

The stories that seem to have the most authority in preventing us from being everything that we are truly capable of being are the stories we make up about ourselves. I’m not talking about intentional lies or works of fiction, but rather what we innocently choose to identify with when we think about the kinds of people we are.

Each and every one of us, if asked, “What kind of person are you?” would instinctively be able to rattle of a description of our own characters and personalities that we believe accurately reflects who we are in this world:

• I’m confident
• I’m a worrywart
• I’m outgoing
• I’m a loner
• I’m good at this….
• I’m not very good at that….
• I’m an optimist
• I’m a realist
• I’m organised and disciplined
• I’m laid back and go with the flow
• I don’t suffer fools gladly
• I’m pretty accommodating and forgiving

Whatever we have come to think about ourselves will inevitably feel right and real to us, and for the most part probably will describe the behaviour and attitudes we project out into the world, but it does not come anywhere close to describing who we REALLY are.

The truth about who we are is so much bigger and yet far simpler than we can possibly comprehend with our normal, everyday way of thinking about the world. In order to unearth the truth, it is worth knowing about the two versions of ourselves that we each carry around.

On one hand there is what we call the ‘Conditioned-Self’, or the ‘Learned-Self’, or the Ego. This is part of us feels pretty attached to the judgements we make about ourselves and the world around us. It is the part that is bought into our individual perceptions of what is right or wrong, good or bad, just or unjust. It is the voice in our heads that tells us whether we are worthy or worthless, below or above others, victims or victors. It is the part of us that likes answering questions such as, “What kind of person are you?”

Whilst the ego features so prominently and directs much of our day-to-day experience of life, there is one thing it is not very good at – Telling us the truth.

That is not to say that it is deliberately deceitful. It is just not particularly open to admitting that it might be wrong. The reason the ego is often referred to as the ‘Conditioned-Self’ is because it has had to learn over time what and how to think. It has learned this by listening to and believing what others have told us, by extrapolating meaning from our past experiences and by simply making stuff up (i.e. we put 2 and 2 together and get a banana).

While its intention is a positive one, when the ego talks to us in that most convincing manner, all it is really doing is letting us know its best guess about what is going on.

Zen teacher, Cheri Huber, summed it up perfectly when she said:

“That voice inside your head is not the voice of God; it just sounds like it thinks it is.”

Of course, everyone has an ego, and it is the extent to which we are able to listen to what it has to say, whilst not taking it seriously, that will determine the level of personal freedom and fulfilment we get to enjoy in our lives.

So, if we are not our egos, then what are we?

Let me introduce you to your ‘Unconditioned Self’, or as I prefer to call it your ‘Essential Self’.

This is who you are without any labels attached. It is the ‘YOU’ you were born with, and the ‘YOU’ that is incapable of changing in any way whatsoever.

For a bit of clarity, just for a moment, think about all of the labels or titles you identify with and that could define who you are at the level of your ego. For example:

Your name

  • Your age
  • Your gender
  • Your sexuality
  • Your job title
  • Your standing in society
  • Your star sign
  • Your weight
  • Your height

The roles you play in lives of others, such as:

  • Son / daughter
  • Mother / father
  • Brother / sister
  • Wife / husband
  • Friend
  • Supporter
  • Care-giver

You could keep going and going… even down to what the kind of car you drive says about you. Or the neighbourhood you live in.

If you were to strip away all of those labels and their associated meanings to you and your identity, then what you would be left with is the simplest, purest version of you, untainted by the ego’s misguided interpretations. This version of you is the truest most positive expression of who you really are. You could say that it is the ‘You’ that exists as pure formless energy; your essence, your soul, your life-force. Your true identity.

It doesn’t take a lot to deduce that there seems to be a natural intelligent energy behind all life. For instance, it takes energy for an acorn to grow into an oak tree, and for that oak tree to produce more acorns. Nature knows exactly what it is doing; it is pretty smart that way. Similarly, that same intelligent energy knows exactly what it is doing when it creates new human life, making us conscious of our own existence. At the purest level, the consciousness we are all blessed with is our awareness of – and our connection to – the energy of life. Not just our own life, but to ALL life.

Everything in the entire Universe is created with this same energy; from planets to bacteria; forests to humans. So when it comes to answering that big question, “Who am I?” an insightful answer could be, you are part of the perfect design of the Universe. And the reason that is significant is because the Universe exists in complete peace and harmony with itself.

The major consequence of letting the ego having too much air-time is that it separates us from the natural peace of mind and wellbeing that is our innate nature. The ego wants us to believe in the idea that we live in a ‘me versus them’ world. It needs us to believe that our happiness and wellbeing is derived from sources outside ourselves, otherwise it wouldn’t have a reason to exist at all. The ego’s one and only goal is to keep itself alive, and for that to happen it is entirely dependent on us believing its stories of separation.

The Essential-Self, on the other hand, loves you just the way you are and knows that you are already perfect. Regardless of how crappy life can appear to get from time to time your Essential-Self remains perfectly intact, because it is only ever aligned to the peaceful energy of the Universe which created it. It is never concerned with the rants and tantrums of the ego.

When you get you know who you really are beyond your ego – your true identity – it becomes obvious that continuing to believe the negative stories you’ve had about yourself is not only limiting to your potential but is also completely irrelevant and unnecessary. It is like trying to convince yourself that your lawn is dry and brown after you’ve already seen that it is lush, green and fertile.

It is also worth remembering that believing the ego’s positive hype can be just as limiting as buying into your self-criticism. Identifying with all the self-adulating stories you make up about yourself may feel good and cause your ego to stick its chest out with pride, but they are still stories based on your own subjective opinion and therefore require an act of believing on your part to keep them alive.

For many, this might be a controversial concept that goes against the grain of what we are often taught by personal development gurus. Aren’t we supposed to have a positive self-image in order to live full and happy lives? Well, yes. But there is a world of difference between upholding a positive opinion of yourself and simply seeing your true nature, which continues to exist regardless of whether you look in its direction or not.

You don’t need to convince yourselves that you are amazing… you just are.

When you think about it, it is not necessary for us to affirm what we already know to be true. We don’t need a daily mantra to tell us that the grass is green when we can look out of our windows and SEE that it is green, plain as day.

Now, that is not to say that affirmations are not useful, in fact they can be extremely powerful, so long as they are used as reminders of who you really are rather than as convincers for whom you think you should be.

When an affirmation is designed to convince you that you possess a quality that you do not currently believe you have, then all you are doing is further conditioning your ego to remember a script.

“I am confident… I AM confident…. I AM CONFIDENT….”

There is absolutely nothing wrong in doing this; it is just not a very effective way of tapping into your real potential. You will no doubt experience a positive emotional boost that feels a lot like confidence, because your neurology is wired to respond positively to this kind of self-talk, but accessing your authentic potential is more about seeing than it is about saying.

When an affirmation is designed to remind you of your true identity there is nothing you need convincing of. Human Beings always return to their natural default setting of happiness, confidence and wellbeing whenever the busy, opinionated chatter of the ego quietens down long enough for the Essential-Self to have a chance to shine through.

Here is what I’ve learned: Whenever I catch myself in the act of trying to be convinced that I have some positive quality that I think I should have, I know I’ve missed the bigger truth.

No amount of time spent trying to talk myself into believing that there is a wonderful expansive sky above my head can be a good enough substitute for the single second it takes for me to look up and just experience it with my own eyes. In other words, the moment I realise I have been relying on my ego to give me a pep talk, I know it is time to pause, relax and reconnect to the formless innate wisdom of my Unconditioned-Self.

——————————————————————————–

HOMEWORK
——————————————————————————–

Find some time for you to just sit and to be comfortably still and quiet.

Use that time to start thinking about all labels you carry around with you day after day. Then, gradually, let yourself get a sense of what it is like to be the person beyond those labels.

If it helps, imagine attaching each of those labels to a helium filled balloon and let each of them go, one by one, as you watch them float further away from you until you are left alone with your Essential-Self.

Be generous with the time you spend just hanging out in your true identify, and let yourself really enjoy the connection you feel to the intelligent energy that created you.

Take great care. Namaste.

signature

p.s. If you would like to get to know more about how you can ultilise the wisdom of your unconditioned self to create authentic happiness and abundance in your life, sign up to my free personal development ecourse. It’s pretty good, even if I do say so myself!

“Everything has beauty, but not everyone sees it.” – Confucius

beauty of life

The beauty of life can been found everywhere (even in the most expected places) but you have to open to seeing it. In this post I’ll share with you the source of where beauty comes from, and why it is relevant to living a happy and inspired life.

They say that beauty is in the eye of the beholder, which is a notion that has always intrigued me greatly. We all have moments, every so often, in which we ponder deep philosophical questions, like, ‘What is the meaning of life?’ or ‘Does a falling tree make any sound if there is no one there to hear it?’ While we can go round and round in our heads never really getting to the bottom of these issues, it’s still interesting and fun just to investigate the riddle.

One of the questions that I seem to have spent a good chunk of my down time contemplating is, ‘Why is it that certain things appear beautiful to some people and not others?’ I don’t know if I’ll ever find an answer that truly satisfies my curiosity (and I’m ok with that), but there is something that has occurred to me that I think is relevant to each of us, in terms of the amount of beauty we get experience in our lives; it is this:

The extent to which we notice and appreciate true beauty in our lives is proportionate to the amount of time we spend hanging out in our own wellbeing.

Or to put it another way; when we are at peace with ourselves, the world seems to be a more beautiful place.

Or to put is yet another way; I’ve rarely heard a stressed out person describe their situation or surroundings as a delight to behold!

The Beauty of Life

When we are connected to the innate wellness that is part of the fabric of our true authentic selves, we have a tendency to see beauty everywhere. Have you ever found yourself relaxing in a quiet spot, observing your environment though a wider lens than you would ordinarily look through on an average day, just noticing the perfect flow of life? How easy it is, in that peaceful state, to pick out intricate details of your surroundings that you may never have noticed before? And have you also found that, for some reason, it brings a kind of contented smile to your face?

Beauty and wellbeing are interconnected. In the same way that ink needs a blank page in order for words to be written, beauty needs a peaceful state of mind in order for it to be truly appreciated.

When we are caught up in our thinking we are more inclined to experience the world through the filters of our preconceived judgements and beliefs, and often the beauty of life is invisible to us. It has not gone anywhere; we just don’t have the eyes to see it.

Of course, I’m not referring only to beautiful things that we perceive visually; beauty is much deeper than that. Beauty can found in everything, from sights and sounds, to concepts and feelings. For me, beauty is as much a spiritual experience as it is a sensory one, but wherever we believe it to exist, it does require us to be present and open to receiving.

When we live life from the outside-in (that is, when we let what happens on the outside of us determine how we feel in the inside) we let our egos subjectively decide what is to be beautiful to us, or not. But when we live from the inside-out, from our essential selves, beauty can be a quality that is experienced in all things; even the mundane.

Something that I find particularly beautiful is a sunset. I’m usually captivated by them. Now, I say ‘usually’ because I know that it has not always been the case. Most of the time when I look at a sunset it takes my breath away; I am filled with awe and I am humbled by the marvels of the natural world. To me, it can be like appreciating a priceless work of art that has been painted across the vast canvas of the sky. Other times though, when I’ve caught sight of a sunset, it hasn’t really done that much for me at all. It’s not that I’ve changed my mind about sunsets being beautiful; it is just that for whatever reason, in that moment, I am not at the right level of consciousness to be emotionally moved by it.

So we could say, then, that the difference that makes the difference in whether I see the beauty in a sunset or not, is my state of mind. I realise that when I am relaxed and at peace within myself, my attention will be drawn like a magnet to a fiery red sky, and my enjoyment of its beauty will be effortless. But if I am caught up in my own thinking; believing my stressful thoughts, or experiencing tension in my body, a beautiful sunset is likely to come and go, and I will hardly notice it. It will be as if, in that moment, the pictures and the sounds I am making up in my head are louder and more vivid than what is actually going on around me. But that doesn’t mean that the opportunity to experience the beauty isn’t up for grabs.

The point I’m making here is that every moment of every day we are immersed in the opportunity to connect to the beauty of our lives, and the only thing we need to do is to become quiet and still, and be open to experiencing it; be that in what we see, what we hear, what we touch, or even who we are with.

I believe that the world and the Universe (and therefore life itself) is an inherently beautiful place, regardless of whether we are open to seeing it or not. I also believe that the only thing that can ever stand in the way of our appreciating the beauty that exists all around us is our own thinking.

Regular readers will know I have written many times about the innate nature of wellbeing; that we are all born with our wellbeing already inside us and that it never goes anywhere, despite our innocent attempts to cover it up with the hypnotic power of our own thinking. Whenever our thoughts slow right down, we naturally relax and become more peaceful. That is when our wellbeing bubbles up to the surface, like a beach ball popping up and out of a swimming pool the second we let go of our efforts to keep it held down beneath the water’s surface.

So, why is it that wellbeing comes up when we calm down? Because that is the way the Universe works. Everything in the Universe, including us, is born out of the same principles of creation, and it all functions perfectly according to universal laws. The overriding quality of the Universe is that it exists in perfect harmony with itself. The only thing that is out of harmony with the rest of the Universe is the ability we have developed to think of ourselves as being separate entities. Thinking too much causes us to distance ourselves from the peace that is naturally all around us. When we let go of our thoughts, that connection is re-established in the form a sense of inner calm and wellness, which points us in the direction of noticing the beauty of life.

Ralph Waldo Emerson summed it up nicely when he said,

“Though we travel the world to find the beauty, we must carry it with us or we find it not.”

Here is what occurs to me when I think about that statement. The reason we see so much beauty in the world when we are in a peaceful state of mind is because our innate wellbeing is, itself, the true essence of beauty. So really, the beauty we experience around us is actually our own inner beauty being reflected back.

So I guess a more accurate way of saying “beauty is in the eye of the beholder”, would be, “beauty is in the ‘I’ of the beholder.”

If wellbeing is the essence of beauty, and wellbeing is innate, then you, by definition, are innately beautiful. Accept it!
——————————————————————————–
HOMEWORK
——————————————————————————–

Your mission, if you choose to accept it, is to see how much beauty you are capable of perceiving around you.

As a suggestion, why not go for a walk around your local neighbourhood and look at it as if you are seeing it for the first time.

Take the time to walk slowly and deliberately; feeling the ground beneath your feet and the air on your skin. Breathe deeply and, as best you can, clear your mind, expand your vision, and simply take in as much of the detail as that there is to notice.

Rather than seeing familiar objects with their usual labels attached to them (house, car, tree, grass, pavement, bird…), experience them all as if they were nameless and part of one perfect whole.

Pay curious attention to the interplay of shapes and form, colours and textures, sounds and sensations. Look out for beauty wherever it maybe.

I’ve no doubt that, if you’re willing, you will begin to experience beauty in the most unlikely places: perhaps in the cracks in the pavement, or in the bark of a tree, or in the sound of a passing car, or even in the colour of a piece of discarded litter.

As the beauty of everyday life reveals itself to you, don’t forget to smile, because really it is your wellbeing that you are experiencing, and it is you who are beautiful.

 

Take great care. Namaste.

signature

“Happiness is a butterfly which, when pursued, is always beyond our grasp, but which, if you sit down quietly, may alight upon you.” – Nathaniel Hawthorne, 1804-1864

happyA concept I often hear from people who are struggling to connect to a greater sense of happiness in their lives, is that they believe they would be much happier if it weren’t for the actions and attitudes of other people.

This covers a multitude of sins. For some it is the frustration of other people acting in unjust, uncaring, self-centred ways. For others, it is that their nearest and dearest are not understanding enough, or are thoughtless, or are disrespectful of options other than their own.

I hear comments like, “How am I supposed to be happy when they are being like that?” or “I try my best to be happy but they make me so mad.”

It is very intriguing; the amount of people who come to me asking for guidance on how they can get other people to change, so that they can be happy. That is not something I have ever been able to help with, nor will it ever be.

As a coach, I can only help the person I’m with. All I can do (and all that is ever required) is to reconnect each individual to their own wellbeing and to help them see that they are the cause of their own happiness, not other people or things.

If there is one principle that underpins just about every aspect of my work, it would be that everybody’s wellbeing is an innate part of their nature. There are no exceptions. Wellbeing is innate and it never leaves us, contrary to the notion that we can often feel like it does.

Whenever we think that our wellbeing has packed its bags and gone for a hike, the truth of the matter is that we are just masking it with our stressful thoughts.

We know that on a cloudy day the sun still exists, even if we can’t see it or feel its warmth. Our wellbeing works in the same way. The moment we drop our stressful thinking, it is like the clouds dissipate so that the warm light can radiate through once more.

We never have to work at re-creating the sun, because it never really goes anywhere.

But we’ve not been taught to think that way. We’ve learned that wellbeing is transactional.

We’ve had a life time of conditioning that has taught us that our emotional experiences are intrinsically linked to what goes on around us. And a big part of that has to do with other people; what they think, what they say and what they do.

If they behave in ways that are in conflict with how we think they should be behaving – or if they seem to be attacking us for not seeing things the same way they do – we suffer. We suffer because we’ve learned to believe that our happiness is dependent on agreement.

This has been going on for years. As children we quickly recognised that there were rules to follow, if we wanted to hold on to a sense of safety and belonging. When we did what we were told, all was well. And when we were naughty, or pushed the boundaries, we were punished and brought back into line.

The moment an infant start to become aware that he or she is sharing this world with other beings, they cannot help but assume their feelings are the result of what those other beings do. They are so dependent.

But prior to that awareness they are simply little bundles of pure wellbeing. As long as they are not hungry or uncomfortable they are at peace; completely in touch with their innate wellness.

Have you ever noticed how babies don’t need therapy?

This powerful, infantile idea that other people are the cause for our wellbeing is why so many of us spend our lives looking outside of ourselves in order to get it back.

This manifests itself in one of two ways. Either, we focus our efforts on trying to control and manipulate others into being the way we want them to be, or we are constantly trying to please them; going along with their desires at the expense of own. Whichever strategy we adopt, our intention is the same; to be reunited with our own wellbeing.

If wellbeing actually did work that way then this would all seem perfectly logical. I please you; you reward me with a good feeling. You please me; I return the favour.

But it doesn’t work like that.

The moment we get that our wellbeing is not, and never has been, anything other than an absence of our own stressful thinking, we are finally free to see our true nature. We are the cause of our own emotional experiences.

When we feel insecure, that is our insecure thinking at work. When we feel love, it is because of our loving thoughts. When you feel happy, sad, angry or joyful… that is an inside job.

When the mind is clear of all thought, the only thing you are left with is the peaceful innate wellbeing you were born with. It is like a quiet flute faintly playing against the din of a big brass band. To hear the flute, we don’t need it to play louder; we need the rest of the band to pipe down for a bit.

There is such a beautiful simplicity to it. It is so kind. You can be connected to your wellbeing and happiness whenever you want, and you don’t even have to do anything to get it; just be still and see that it is your thoughts that have been distracting you from the truth.

In fact, living with your stressful thoughts is like walking around with a close up magician all day long. Even though you know it is just a trick, you still keep getting caught out. You might think:

“Oh no, my partner’s not happy, I have to feel bad too!” and then it can dawn you, “Doh! Fell for it again. It is just my thoughts tricking me.”

And with the openness that follows, realise that you can be of greater service to them, and yourself, when you come from a space of peace, love and compassion, rather than stress and confusion.
——————————————————————————–
HOMEWORK
——————————————————————————–

Spend some quality time with yourself, reflecting on the important relationships in your life. Notice where and when you have been making other people the custodian of your happiness.

Asking yourself these questions may help you get clear:

• Who have I needed to be happy in order for me to be happy?
• What have I been wanting other people to do in order for me to be happy?
• How have I wanted them to change?
• Who have I blamed for making me feel bad?
• Who have I been trying to please?

As you identify areas of your life where you have been making your happiness dependent on the actions and attitudes of others, notice how much effort that has required from you. What has that cost you in terms of energy and peace of mind?

Now, I’d like to invite you to relax to look inside.

Begin by acknowledging yourself for the positive intention you’ve had for attempting to connect to your wellbeing this way. Then, with a sense of peace and inner knowing, recognise that there is a part of you that has always been well, regardless of whatever has been going on in the outside.

Pay attention to where that wellness resides, and let it begin to spread throughout your whole body, as if you are smiling from the inside out. Stick with that authentic experience and really feel it.

Then, from this space, think about how you will reclaim responsibility for your own happiness in each of those areas you thought about. Imagine how wonderful your life could be when you cut out ‘the happiness middleman’ and decide to feel good on your own terms.
Take great care. Namaste.

signature

“Don’t let a mad world tell you that success is anything other than a successful present moment.” – Eckhart Tolle

beginningWhen I moved to London several years ago I didn’t really know the place at all. I’d visited a few times with my family for the odd touristy day out but still didn’t know my way around. So when it came to living and working here I knew I had quite a bit of learning to do.

I remember one day arriving at Waterloo Station wondering how to get to Aldermanbury, where I was due to start a new job. I had a vague idea but wasn’t sure about the quickest or most effective means of getting there. So I did what I thought was quite a sensible thing to do (particularly for a man). I asked someone! I approached a smart-suited, professional looking chap in the belief that he was probably a city worker and therefore bound to be able to help.

“Excuse me,” I said, “I’m not from around here. Please can you tell me the best or quickest way to get to Aldermanbury?”

He looked thoughtfully up into the air and pondered for what seemed like an age, and then replied, “Well to be honest with you, I wouldn’t start from here”.

“Thanks,” I thought, “what a rubbish piece of advice!”

The reason that little encounter has always stuck with me is because I think it’s a perfect metaphor for how many people go about trying to achieve a better life for themselves. They may have an idea of where it is they want to get to, but find it hard to take a step in the right direction because they resist the notion of having to start from where they are.

I’ve come to realise over the years that people can only experience dissatisfaction with their life when they believe that their situation should be different to how it actually is. I’ve noticed it with just about every client I’ve ever work with and I’ve certainly experienced it multiple times in my own life. Whilst I’ve helped a ton people work through an array of diverse and unique issues, the conversation that takes place time and time again is the one that invites us to accept reality just the way it is right now, before figuring out what to do next.

What we call ‘the stress of life’ rarely has anything to do with what’s actually going on, and has everything do with our thoughts and interpretations of what’s going on. As Human Beings we don’t ever get to experience the ‘real world’, we only get to experience our own thinking.

If we are unhappy with where we are right now, the cause of the feeling will be rooted in the thought that there is some other place we’d rather be. Or, if we are feeling stuck, that can only be due to the thought that there is a direction we are supposed to be heading in, otherwise there would be no reason to be unstuck.

When we contrast this with the way human experience really works, the only place we can ever get to is right here, right now. Thinking that we are supposed to be anywhere other than right here, right now can literally drive us bonkers.

The most stressful strategy we can adopt for motivating ourselves to change our situation (and don’t worry if you’ve been doing this, most of us have at one time or another) is to direct our emotional energy toward hating the way things are. We convince ourselves that if we can just muster up a strong enough loathing for our current landscape then we will be compelled to take massive action and finally break free from everything that has been holding us back.

There are a few reasons why this is a crappy way of doing things. Not least that it seldom works!
How many times have you heard people complain about how bad some aspect of their life is and yet months, if not years, later absolutely nothing has changed? Over time they just got used to feeling bad; they habituated into their negativity, which not only set them on a path of blaming and complaining, it also shut them off to the kind of inspired thinking they would have needed to turn their ‘right here, right now’ into something better.

In my experience there are three kinds of thought that can cause us to feel dissatisfied with where we are at:

1 – Thoughts about expectation

2 – Thoughts about purpose

3 – Thoughts along the lines of, “Anything would be better than this”

Thoughts about expectation are where we cast judgement on ourselves for how we are currently doing compared to a story we’ve been sold. All of our lives we’ve had the bar set for us by our parents, teachers, friends, colleagues, advertisers, glossy mags, even OURSELVES, with regards to the standards and accomplishments we should have reached by this point in our lives. It is where we measure the distance between who we think we are versus who think we should be and then allow the size of the gap (or chasm in some cases) to proportionately dictate how anxious we should be feeling.

Thoughts about purpose are when we get the idea into our heads that we are wasting our lives by not doing the things we would rather be doing to make a positive difference in the world and to make our lives count. It is where we feel that our circumstances and outside influences are preventing us from living our ‘true north’, leaving us stewing in frustration and resentment. The most common reason why this becomes a lingering issue for people is that they make ‘living their purpose’ dependant on a specific set of criteria having to be met.

If you ever wanted to feel really frustrated with your life then I absolutely recommend setting it up in such a way that you cannot be truly happy until you have enough money, energy, creativity, opportunity, support or freedom to do live it out in the specific way you’ve always imagined.

Thoughts that resemble “Anything would be better than this” are what crop up we are not connected to a purpose or direction and have no idea what it is that we want. What we do know, though, is that we’re not having fun right now and attribute that to whatever is happening on the outside. “I’m not happy and, although I’m not entirely sure why that is, it must have something to do with my job, or my boss, or my partner, or my location, so I want to change it all. I don’t know exactly what I’m going to change it to; I just know I’ll be happier when it’s different”. The phrase that springs to mind here is – It doesn’t matter where you go, there you’ll be.

Whenever we think these kinds of thoughts we feel stress. But the only stressful element to it is the thought itself. If nothing changed in our situation other than we were suddenly unable to think those kinds of thoughts, we would simply be people living the lives we’ve got. No comparison, no judgement, no stress.

What I know won’t work is to ask to you not to think those thoughts. As far as I can tell you don’t control that (at least not without years of meditative training); it’s just what the mind does. The smartest and kindest thing you can do to move towards the life you want, is to start by accepting and valuing your currently reality exactly the way it is. Right here, right now is the only place you’ll ever need to get to.

The starting point for any journey will never not be where you already are. As we travel through life we learn that no matter how far we get, we never leave the present. We never leave and yet we are constantly arriving.
To live with the thought that your life is not supposed to be exactly the way it is right now is to be disconnected from the most integral part of the route map of your journey; the beginning.

How do I know you are exactly where you are supposed to be? Because you’re not anywhere else.

So what is the stress-free formula for turning ‘right here, right now’ into a place you would love to hang out? Let’s take a look as I explain your homework for this session.

 

——————————————————————————–
HOMEWORK
——————————————————————————–

There is a big difference between how you show up in the world when you are trying to prove the circumstances of your life are holding you back and how you show up when you are coming from a place of inspired service. Service in this context simply means giving your best self to the world in this very moment.

There are three ingredients that help things along nicely:

1- Knowledge of how you would like to feel if ‘right here, right now’ were already the happy place you want it to be.

2- An understanding of how you would think and behave differently with that feeling as your guide. How would you treat yourself and how would you interact with others.

3- Patience.

I invite you to take each of these ingredients and add them into the mix of your life straight away.

The instant you “assume the feeling of the wish fulfilled” and operate from that space, the present moment has a habit of transforming in the most wonderful ways.

Initially you’ll notice that nothing has changed and yet everything is different. Over time, with patience, you’ll realise that not only can you peacefully go after whatever it is you want to create in your life, but you can also stay happy, regardless of how the scenery changes along the way.
Take great care. Namaste.

signature