“In the end these things matter most: How well did you love? How fully did you love? How deeply did you learn to let go?” – The Buddha

letting goIsn’t it funny how it is possible to think back to a younger version of you and feel as though that was a completely different person?

You might remember some of the thoughts or opinions you used to vigorously uphold that are polar opposites of what you believe in now.

Perhaps this is because of the real life experiences you’ve since been through; or you’ve learned something more truthful; or maybe you’ve just changed your mind about certain things in life (that’s ok, you’re allowed!!). But whatever it means to you, this fascinating ability we all have for re-inventing the base from which we think is fundamental to our potential for growth and development.

I wonder what you will believe in five years time that is different to what you believe today!

Just knowing that what we are thinking now may not be what we think later opens up a space to be curious about what is currently driving our thoughts (and therefore our emotional wellbeing), and just how important – or not – that really is. After all, what was once very important to you might now be just an insignificant detail. So it stands to reason that what seems to be of great importance now may not matter nearly as much to you in the future.

In my adolescence I was an expert grudge holder (now that does feel like a completely different person!). If I found something upsetting, confusing or difficult, my immediate reaction would be to look for whatever was outside of me to blame. If someone had done wrong by me, either in reality or in my imagination, I was pretty adept at over inflating my negative emotions towards them and feeling victimised by their obvious vendetta to make me feel worthless!

As I got older though it dawned on me, partly through education and partly through self-realisation, that whenever I found myself in a low mood, the cause of that was far less to do with what was actually going on and far more to do with the quality of the thoughts I was having about what was going on.

One of the most powerful principles of thought I have ever learnt is the idea that we don’t have to find all the answers before deciding to drop our obsession with the question. This is particularly useful when answers are hard to come by.

Whenever we find ourselves caught up in negative emotional thinking about an event (or another person), we generally have three options:

* Suffer in silence
* Do or say something in an attempt to resolve the pain
* Just drop it!

While suffering in silence might give you a strange sense of satisfaction for a while, I’m going to suggest that it is not a great long term strategy!

Doing or saying something with the intention of resolving a grievance is usually the best way forward, provided there is another party available for you to reason with.

But what about those situations when you just feel bad about the way things are and there isn’t anything obvious or solid to push against? Maybe it is unfinished business from the distant past, or “the youth of today”, or some political injustice, or how unlucky you have been, or the rain at your summer BBQ…

For those times when you just feel negatively about something, towards which you have little or no control, I invite you to consider:

What is the worst that could possibly happen if you were to finally just let go of it?

Literally – As if that issue were a pebble in your tightly clenched fist. Would it be ok with you to relax your fingers, open your palm and just let that pebble fall from your hand and out of your life?

In the same way that a hand will feel beautifully light and relaxed after a long period of holding on tight, it is amazing what can happen to our emotional wellbeing when we are willing and ready to simply draw a line in the sand of our own dead end thinking.

But of course, there is a big difference between saying you are going to let go of something and actually letting go of it emotionally.

Here are some questions you might want to consider to test your readiness:

“Am I willing to let go of….

…. needing someone or something to blame for this?”
…. having to understand why this bad thing happened?”
…. someone else’s opinion of me?”
…. my difficult past?”
…. trying to control the uncontrollable?”
…. what I’m afraid it might mean about me if I were to let go of this?”
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HOMEWORK
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Your emotional wellbeing loves a good metaphor, especially a visual one, so I have created a little thought experiment for you to play around with. For this to be most effective, find some space where you can be comfortably relaxed and undisturbed for about 10 to 20 minutes. Here are the steps:

1 – Pick something in your life that you are now willing to finally just let go of. You might want to start off by practicing with relatively minor issue at first (e.g. annoyance at the inclement weather) before working on any significant issues (e.g. emotionally charged memories from the past).

2 – Get yourself into a nice relaxed state where you can begin to let your imagination take over. A lot of people find this easier with their eyes closed.

3 – As you begin to think about that issue, recall the negative emotion you have been associating with it. Don’t try to sensor yourself; just go with an honest acceptance of the feeling that accompanies the thought.

4 – If you had to assign a shape to that issue and its corresponding emotion, what shape feels like a good fit? Imagine that shape as a large 3D object floating there in front of you, representing the whole subject.

5 – Decide what colour you think represents that issue and make the large 3D object that same colour? What would the texture be?

6 – Looking at that coloured, textured, 3D shape in front of you, imagine that you are now transmitting all of the negative thought and emotion related to the issue so that it leaves your body and is captured by the shape.

7 – When you get a sense that the transmission is complete and that you feel kind of ‘neutral’, focus on the 3D object and make it shrink right down in size so that it fits snugly in the palm of your hand (actually hold your hand out for it). Spend a moment to feel the texture of it, and the weight of all those old thoughts and emotions.

8 – Now, importantly, as a way of bidding farewell (no hard feelings!!), thank the object for all of the positive lessons it has taught you, even if some of those lessons are yet to be realised consciously.

9 – Finally, with a smile of relief, tip your hand, let the object fall from your palm and watch it as it disintegrates into cloud of coloured dust as it hits the floor…. and then there is nothing.
As you get on with the rest of your day pay attention to how much freer you feel having just let go.

 

Take great care. Namaste.

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“A real friend is one who walks in when the rest of the world walks out.” – Walter Winchell

emotional bank accountFor most us the ability to live a wonderful life is dramatically enhanced when we can get the balance right in several important areas.

* We want to do work that is meaningful and satisfying (contribution and reward)
* We want to have fun and take part in activities that interest us (recreation and adventure)
* We want to live comfortably within our means (prosperity and security)
* We want to be fit and healthy (wellbeing)
* We want to know that we are growing as individuals (knowledge / skills / wisdom / spirituality)

But perhaps one of the most significant and yet tricky to master areas is in the quality of the relationships we have with other people. Whether we consciously realise it or not the desire to make strong connections with others plays a huge part in determining our overall satisfaction with life.

Relationships, particularly with those closest to us can be very complex, but when it comes to understanding how to enhance that positive feeling of connectedness there is only one simple rule:

Always put in more than you take out!

If you were to imagine that everyone you know is bank and that you hold an account with each of them (similar to a normal bank account but where the concept of money is replaced by emotions) then it becomes a lot more apparent as to how the health of your relationships is dependant on your account balances.

The people in your life keep a constant unconscious tally of the emotional deposits and withdrawals you have been making to your account with them, and their estimation of you is reflected back accordingly. Of course, they also have an account with you too and you are reflecting their balance back to them (either directly or in more subtle ways!!).

As with any account, if you have been regularly depositing positive emotional credits, or perhaps you have made massive lump sum deposits in the past, then your relationship with the account provider can comfortably withstand the odd emotional withdrawal. They are likely to overlook the occasional indiscretion, because of your otherwise buoyant credit history.

However, if too much is taken out, either through lots of little debits or by one large withdrawal, then the account provider can start to get a bit nervous about continuing to provide their services. Depending on the track record of the relationship and the willingness of that person to forgive your debits, they may give you an overdraft facility (usually with a small interest charge), but it is important to remember that you are now living beyond your means and need to find a way of bringing the account back into the black.

If you stay overdrawn for too long then what may have once been a pretty healthy account can easily be suspended or even closed down for good!!

So what kind of behaviours constitutes emotional deposits and withdrawals?

DEPOSITS

* Keeping your word
* Being a trusted confidant
* Paying genuine compliments
* Acknowledging their successes
* Encouraging and supporting them to realise their potential
* Listening and taking an interest
* Compassionately telling the truth – even if it’s hard to take
* Apologising when you’re wrong
* Being thoughtful

WITHDRAWALS

* Lying
* Breaking your promises
* Taking your frustrations out on them
* Being Disrespectful
* Publicly judging them
* Talking behind their back
* Not recognising when something is important to them
* Not inconveniencing yourself to help them out
* Lack of contact
* Having an affair with their spouse!!

The best way I know of to give your emotion bank accounts a new lease of life is simply to be aware of your balances and to consciously seek opportunities to make deposits whenever you can.

Obviously, your intention for building up credit in any particular account should be because of the importance and value you place on the relationship. Any relationship will inevitably suffer if you see your credits as a safety net “just in case” you have to do the dirty on them later!!

So here is a radical idea to get started. How about letting the people you care about actually know that you care about them!! You probably already do this with your closest family and friends (and if you don’t, would now be a good time to start?), but who else do you value (other friends, colleagues, members of your wider community, etc)?

Not telling someone that they are important to you when they are is the relationship equivalent of shooting yourself in the foot. At the very least it is a shame. What a wonderful opportunity to strengthen that sense of connectedness for both of you.

You don’t have to go overboard, showering them with gifts or accolades (that could get a little creepy after a while!) but perhaps you could do something simple like dropping it into casual conversation:

“That’s what I love about you John. You always give me a fresh perspective”
“I just want you know how much your support has meant to me over the years”
“I can always rely on you to tell it to me straight, I really value that!”
“I really look forward to seeing you. You’re so much fun to hang out with.”

 

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HOMEWORK
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Make a list of your top ten important relationships and estimate what your emotional bank balance is with each of them. You could do this by giving each one a mark out of ten (10 being “rich beyond my wildest dreams”, and 1 being “I’ll get my coat”!). Equally you might just get a sense or feeling of how you are doing in each one.

Work your way down the list and ask yourself, “What would be the most meaningful deposit I could make in this relationship right now?”

Then make a plan to do each of those things, ensuring that you are clear on how and when you’ll make the deposits.
Take great care. Namaste.

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“Don’t ask what the world needs. Ask what makes you come alive; because what the world needs is people who have come alive.” – Howard Thurman

living a life of purposeI’ve always known that living a life of purpose feels good but I often wondered about what is the purpose of having a purpose! After years of honing my definition, here is my take on what it is all about.

If you have been receiving my coaching tips for a while you may remember an article I sent out called “The Game of Joy”. In this I wrote about why it is your purpose is to experience true happiness through the way you live your life. I talked about joy as being the ultimate goal for everyone regardless of what they do or how they go about it. The real premise of the this is that you are far more likely to find your ‘calling’ if you are already living from a space of love and happiness than if you were to wait for inspiration to strike before experiencing that joyful state.

The feedback and comments I received about that article were amazing! It seems it really struck a chord with a lot you. So much so that I want revisit the subject of living your life’s purpose. I really do feel I could write it forever!

There are so many teachers, philosophies and insights that have inspired me over the years to realise my own life’s purpose but, despite those countless hours of learning, the principle of what a purposeful life constitutes can be summed up in very few words. This is what it means to me:

 Living a life of purpose is to be of service to the world in a way that brings you joy.

I consider myself extremely lucky to have met and been taught by many different people who have been completely connected to a strong sense of purpose in their lives. What captivates me about each and every one of them is their capacity to handle life’s challenges with grace and benevolence. No matter what they encounter they always seem to know just what to do to keep moving. But not only that, they do it with an aura of peace and wisdom. It is not that their lives are necessarily easier or harder than anybody else’s but that when tough times do occur, it is their conviction in their purpose that seems to illuminate an obvious path for them to follow.

I’ve also realised that, on some level, they see life’s challenges as opportunities to reaffirm their connectedness to their purpose. It is as if problems just magnify their feeling of certainty for what they believe in. In other words, when their purpose is put to the test they always find a way of ending up closer to the ultimate goal – experiencing joy.

But perhaps the most fascinating thing about each of these inspiring people that that when we look at what their purpose is based on there is a consistent common theme. The joy they experience is always derived from them being of service in some way. I’ve don’t think I’ve ever met a truly joyful person who hasn’t felt that their actions contribute towards a meaningful difference in the world, be that to other people, animals or the environment.

When Abraham Maslow created ‘The Hierarchy of Needs’ he suggested that everyone is driven by the desire to become a self-actualised individual. This is the ‘state of being’ where all of our physical, social, emotional, moral and intellectual needs are taken care of. What is not so widely publicised though is that even Maslow recognised that once a person has reached a self-actualised state, that is not the end of the story. He considered that self-actualisation is really a platform for giving yourself back to the world. The reason we spend our lives making sure our own needs are catered is so that we are fully equipped to live a life of service to others.

But what does being of service really mean?

Well the good news is that it does not mean sacrificing your own desires to keep others happy. But equally it is not about doing things with the aim of making a material gain for yourself either.

Being of service in relation to your purpose is about the focus of your intention as you go about doing whatever it is that you love to do. It is about shifting your thinking away from “What’s in it for me?” and towards “How can I provide value?”

There is no greater source of connectedness that you can feel than the connection the world makes with you in appreciation of the difference you make.

That does not mean that you have to make monumental contributions every moment of every day, but that when you have the genuine intention to be of service it becomes a thread that runs through just about everything you do and say. In fact, it is the smaller consistent gestures you make that accumulate into a personal environment where your spirit stays lifted and you feel more and more engaged with life.

Some people have wonderfully big aspirations of creating massive positive change in the world, but often feel unfulfilled and frustrated because their day-to-day commitments limit their ability to make that kind of significant impact. You are more likely to have a meaningful and positive presence in the world through your small daily actions than if you wait until you are rich enough, free enough, confident enough or famous enough to make one gargantuan statement.

If your one wish is to put an end to world hunger, the best place to start is to find one hungry child and give her a banana!

What I find extremely exciting is that to start living a service oriented life you don’t really have to change that much. The quickest way to make the shift is to take a look at everything you are already doing – including the role you play in the lives of others – and assess what your intention has been in each of these areas. Have you been looking for what you can gain, or what you can give?

For example, if you secretly know you have been leaning too heavily on your friends or family, hoping that they will somehow come and make your life better for you; ask yourself what you can do to be of service to them:

“What can I do to bring them value in our relationship?” or “What is the kindest way for me to be a positive influence in their life?”

Or, in your job, if you have been feeling like a bit of a ‘wage slave’, what opportunity can you create to give more from your unique talents and personality. Perhaps you can serve others by being that bright spirit that boosts morale. Perhaps you can commit to making one small improvement to a process every day.

If you are an artist, rather than focusing on what you gain personally through the act of creating, connect with how your creations makes a meaningful difference to those who are fortunate enough to experience them. Let this be the WHY of what you do.

Even smiling at someone as you pass them in the street, if done with the intention of brightening their day, is a great demonstration of service based living.

So, if the ultimate goal in life is to experience joy, then the ultimate way of getting there is through the experience of giving yourself back to the world.

I firmly believe that people naturally discover their real purpose when they realise that being of service stems from who they are, rather than what they do.
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HOMEWORK
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Even if you have yet to decided what you want your purpose in life to be, take some time think about how you would love the world to remember you?

If you knew that history will only record the meaningful differences you made to others and the world, what kind of legacy feels really inspiring to you?

Now think about how that can translate into the essence of how you live you life today.

What does that mean in terms of how you serve in your relationships, your work, your community, etc?

And a final question to ponder: If you were to summarise what that says about you in one word, what word would that be:

* Teacher?
* Healer?
* Leader?
* Caregiver?
* Creator?
* Entertainer?
* Or something else…

Maybe you’re closer to discovering your life’s purpose than you think!!

 

Take great care. Namaste.

 

It is a common human trait to sometimes feel a bit uneasy about other people’s success. In this episode Paul shares a principle that can move you away from your own feelings of lack and towards a mentality of abundance and prosperity.

“Envy is the art of counting the other fellow’s blessings instead of your own.” – Harold Coffin

thumbLiving in London I get to travel on public transport A LOT, and for someone in my line of work that provides a fabulous opportunity to observe the quirkiness of human nature in action. It is never my intention to deliberately earwig on other people’s conversations, but sometimes when you’re on a packed tube (with a stray armpit in your face) it is pretty hard not to!

One such conversation that fascinated me recently was between two female twenty-something office workers who were off-loading their end-of-day grievances to each other. One of them was venting about a guy she works with who had obviously experienced a fortunate end to a tricky situation. This is what she said (and I’ll quote verbatim, so apologies for the language):

“You know it’s so frustrating! No matter what kind of crap he gets himself into he always comes up smelling of roses. He’s so jammy. I hate it!”

While I’ll never know the juicy details of what she was talking about, what really interested me was how her attitude towards her colleague must have been affecting the quality of her own experiences. What was it about this guy’s lucky break that caused her to feel annoyed rather than pleased? How had her annoyance with him influenced the way she had subsequently gone about her own business that day?

Isn’t it intriguing how we can sometimes feel uneasy about other people doing well? But whatever it is that causes us to harbour a bit of ill feeling towards others when they are being successful is also the thing that causes us to block the flow of our own potential to create more of what we want in our own lives. For some people that may be about money, career opportunities, better relationships, nicer stuff, etc… For others it might simply be about having greater peace of mind.

Most of the time we don’t mean to feel negativity towards the success of others and often we don’t even know that we’re doing it. It doesn’t make us bad or undeserving people, it is just what happens when the unconscious mind thinks it is missing out on something important.

By definition, in order to feel threatened, annoyed, frustrated or jealous of what others have, you must also be focusing on what you don’t have. Thinking from within the confines of a ‘lack mentality’ can only ever lead to you seeing (or making up) more and more evidence for why you are not fulfilled. If all you see is lack, then lack is all you get.

I have even had clients tell me that the more they see others prosper the more they get a feeling that there is less prosperity to go around for them. The only reason for thinking like this is if you believe that there is a cap on the amount of abundance the world has to offer. However, even if we bring it back to money there is always more than enough. If we were to split the total amount of money in the world equally amongst the current population, every man, woman and child would be a multi billionaire! So the obvious answer to the question “where is the money going to come from?” is “wherever it is now!”

But of course it is not just money that makes humans feel uneasy when some have it and others don’t. It is also a common trait to resent other people’s luck, their looks, their relationships, their popularity, their status…

So what is the answer? What needs to happen to make a shift away from dwelling on lack and towards the kind of energy that supports you in living your best life?

The answer is to think about that thing that you want for yourself and to want it more for others.

I know that seems a bit odd at first bite, but it is the most powerful way of freeing up your own potential for living out of an ‘abundance mentality’. I call this the ‘Well Wishing’ principle.

Try this out. Take a moment to reflect on the kind of peace of mind you would love to have in your life. How wonderful would it be to spend everyday completely aligned with your most natural peaceful self? When you’ve got a sense of what that must be like, look at the person nearest to you or, if you’re alone, think about someone you saw today, and genuinely wish that same peace of mind for them, only stronger.

Notice what happens to your energy when you do this. Wishing them well begins to open up a path for you to experience that peace that you are looking for. This is a nice demonstration of the notion that what you give away you get to keep. That is the nature of abundance.

 

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HOMEWORK
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Take some time to check in with how you are doing in your life at the moment. Are there areas that are not living up to how you want them to be?

Go through an honest assessment of how you have been feeling towards other people that you have thought to be doing better than you in a particular way. Pay close attention to your emotional responses and be sensitive to any feelings that resemble jealousy, anxiety, frustration, annoyance, injustice, etc. Sometimes these feelings can be very hard to admit to, especially if they are towards your nearest and dearest, but it is important to be as honest as you can be.

Now imagine that aspect of your life exactly as you would love it to be and step into the feeling of it, as if everything is perfect right now. Then, knowing that you live in an abundant universe, wish more of that same feeling and success to those other people.

Examples:

– If a business competitor is doing really well, wish them even more success and prosperity, knowing that there is more than enough for you too.

– If you think one of your friends is more popular than you, genuinely send them wishes for greater, stronger friendships, knowing that that kind of energy coming from you is naturally attractive to others.

– If someone you know is lucky enough to “always come up smelling of roses”, wish them the continued fortune of always being in the right place at the right time (and then notice what starts to happen to your own ‘luck’).

– When you see people with really nice stuff (flashy cars, big houses, luxury holidays, etc.), hope that they are really enjoying themselves and blissed out on deep gratitude for what they have in their lives.

I hope you enjoyed reading this week’s coaching tip even more than I loved writing it.
Take great care. Namaste.

 

If the definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over again while expecting a different result, then the definition of clarity is to keep experimenting. In this episode Paul talks about how science and personal development can work beautifully together to create the life you want.