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,

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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

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

My special guest for today’s ‘Living With Purpose’ interview is Colin Hiles, aka The Midlife Maverick’. Prepare to be inspired by his story!

colinSomeone once said’ “It turns out that happiness is about sacrifice. You have to sacrifice what isn’t important for what is.”

Colin is a shining example of someone who has taken courageous steps to overcome fear, make difficult decisions and risk everything in honour of living with purpose. In this interview he generously shares his experience, insight and wisdom for what it takes to recognise and answer your own calling.

Here is what you will learn:

  • How Colin went from being a health product salesman with low self-esteem to being the co-creator of a multi-million pound personal development business.
  • What a year on a small spanish island with no technology and more goats than people taught him about real success and fulfilment.
  • What a film starring Clint Eastwood has to do with finding your purpose (can you guess which one it is?)
  • What you should definitely have printed on your next business card.
  • How Colin has turned his experiences into a six step process that has helped thousands of people to live a life they feel great about (and raised bucket loads of cash for charitable causes along the way)

If this conversation inspires you, please click like it, tweet, +1 and share your comments below.

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

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.

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HOMEWORK
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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.

 

 

Dec
12
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