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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Radio-microphone-440x360It was recently interviewed on Shoreditch radio by a good friend, Edward Nelson, about my journey into the personal growth world and, more specifically, what it has taught me about living a purpose centred life.

I was honoured to have been asked to be a guest and it was an experience that I enjoyed immensely. This was my first radio interview and I was a little nervous, but delighted to get to talk about my story and the impact it has had on my life and work.

So this edition of Life Happens LIVE is a departure from the normal format. It is simply a conversation in which you will learn:

  • What diamonds, horse manure and nail polish have to do with the way we experience life
  • Why your inner wisdom is like a faint flute playing against the din of a big brass band
  • How to cultivate a space for listening to your authentic self
  • Why you are already an enlightened being
  • Why it took a personal crisis for me to embark on my own journey of self discovery

I would love to hear your comments, questions and feedback on the interview. If any of the topics we covered resonate with you, please drop a line in the comments section below.

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.

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

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

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

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

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

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

Owning Your Experience of Other People

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

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

  1. You

  2. Them

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

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

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

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

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

Owning Your Experience of Yourself

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

With love

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“Here to help you live with purpose.”

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feeling lostIt is easy for us to occasionally bump up against the experience of feeling lost in life. In this video I’ll share with you a personal encounter with feeling lost and a useful exercise for finding your way back home again.

Transcript of video

Hi, this is Paul from Life-Happens.co.uk. Welcome to the video blog. The topic for today is the joy of feeling lost. And it’s been inspired by an experience that I had earlier this week that I wanted to share with you in the hope that this is something that you can resonate with or that you can connect to, in some way. And it revolves around that feeling of being a little bit lost… inside yourself.

Now I don’t know if this has ever happened to you, I should imagine that it probably has at one point or another. But the other night, I had a bit of a sleepless one. Now I don’t know specifically what triggered it, but what I do know is that I lay in bed for hours. With what I would describe as an uncomfortable feeling of feeling a little bit lost inside myself – like somehow I wasn’t quite on the path that I thought I should be on. I didn’t quite know what to do about it.

Now this isn’t something that happens to me a lot. It doesn’t happen all the time. If you know me or know anything about me then you’d probably know that I’m quite a purpose driven guy. I’ve usually got my head buried in some endeavor or project that I am inspired by and that helps to keep me moving forward. And hopefully in the process, I’m putting a little bit of good out in the world.

So, the feeling of being lost in my life isn’t something that I have to deal with every day. Although every once in a while, I will experience what you might call a dark night of the soul. And it’s where my ego kicks in and it starts to call into question the value and validity of what I’m up to in the world. And it starts to pose some very challenging questions like: “Is that good enough?”, “Is that what you should be doing?”, “Shouldn’t you be doing something else?” and “Who are you to be doing what you are doing?”

Now, like I said, this isn’t something that happens all the time, and I know that it’s happened often enough though, for me to recognize that it will just pass. If I let it be, it will just pass. But, the next day, luckily I had a free day where I’ve not much to do. So, I did something that I’ve learned can often help in situations like this for me. I jumped in the car and I went out for a drive out in the countryside with the soul intention of getting lost – physically and geographically. And the reason that I did that is because I’ve learned that the world is really good at holding up a mirror to our internal experience. It’s like whatever we’re feeling on the inside, what we tend to see around us are physical experiential metaphors that match the way that we’re feeling.

And, so I decided to experiment with that and see if there is something that I can learn. So, I jumped in the car and I went out for a drive in the Surrey countryside here in England. And after about an hour, I’d done it. I’d achieved the goal! I was completely and utterly lost. I had taken so many right turns and left turns down twisty windy country roads. Though, I couldn’t for the life of me work out the route that I had taken to get there. So at that moment of recognizing that I was lost, I stopped the car, I got out and had a look around.

Now, what I saw was stunning. I was quite high up in the Surrey hills, and I saw some of the most beautiful countryside that I’ve ever seen. Particularly in this country. And I remember thinking to myself in that moment, ‘do you know what? Sometimes being lost ain’t that bad.’

Because sometimes when you think about it, in order to be lost by definition: you must be experiencing something unfamiliar, or seeing something new for the first time. And in my book that’s not always such a bad thing. Because if we never experience anything unfamiliar then there’s a good chance that we’re not growing on a personal level. Now what we experience may not always be the most beautiful or the most comfortable thing, but the pure fact that it’s new and that we’re having to experience things in a new way, must in the long run be good for our personal growth if we’re willing to look at it in the right way.

So, after I had a look around, I jumped back in the car and I continued the journey – still didn’t know where I was and still didn’t know how I was going to get back. But after another hour, I came across a sign that was pointing toward something that again was very familiar to me: it was pointing towards the town in which I was born. Now, call me old-fashioned but in that moment there was something very poignant and significant about it. Probably because I was in that mindset of looking for a metaphor. And here I was being pointed in the direction of the place where it all began for me.

And I can’t really explain why but I experienced something just lift from me and in that moment I just knew what to do and I decided just to drive back to my home in London. And because I knew where I was, I went the quick and effective way. And on the way back, I was really connected with a sense of what I call renewal. And a reconnection to my innate well-being.

So, when I got back home, I was reflecting on the whole experience. And with that clarity that seemed to have returned, I was reminded of something that I believe to be quite truthful. And it’s that that feeling of being lost within ourselves, of being incomplete or not quite at home is a perspective. It’s a state of mind, but it’s one that’s based on a forgetting of the bigger truth about the way life really works – of who we really are in the world and our true nature. And it usually has a lot to do with listening to the story that are egos have created about the way that life is supposed to work. And of what a good life should look like and what we should be doing and what we shouldn’t be doing. And when that story doesn’t quite match up to the reality of how things actually are for us right now we can get that sense of feeling a little bit lost.

But also, that feeling of being at home within ourselves of being connected and the feeling of being complete – that’s also a perspective and it’s also a state of mind. But rather than it being based on a forgetting, it’s based on a remembering of the bigger truth about the way life really works of who we are and of our true nature. And it usually has a very little to do with the story that our egos have created for us. If anything it’s our ability to look through the ego and to connect to something much bigger and more truthful.  Now because we’re human, we’re really good at forgetting stuff like that. So every once in a while we’re bound to get that feeling of being lost, but I’d like to encourage you from now on, rather than being scared of getting lost is to embrace it and to look in the right direction to see what it might be teaching you about what you may have forgotten about the real truth of life.

You see, the alternative is if you’re scared of getting lost, then the chances are that you’ll organize your life in such a way that you’ll never want to leave the confines of familiarity. Which can be okay for a while but in the long term, isn’t that great for your sense of personal growth.

So, just in the same way that’s when we go out there and get lost in the real world we can either be scared of that or we can embrace it. And if you want to embrace it the best way of doing that is to change your definition of home. If you take the entire world and include that in your definition of home, if you take the entire universe which is the real source of where it all began for each of us, and include that within your definition of home, then no matter where you go, you can never be lost.

As long as you can feel the earth beneath your feet and the air on your skin you can only ever be home. So rather than being scared of getting lost, embrace it. And embrace it to the extent that you’re reminded that life isn’t something that happens to you, it’s something that is happening for you -moment by moment. And if you’re willing to keep showing up and make yourself available as a student of life, you’ll see what life is always trying to teach you is how to get back home.

So I hope you found that inspiring, or useful or that you can connect to that in some way. If you have then please drop a comment in the box down below or if you’re watching this on YouTube please give the video a ‘like’, but until next time, as always you have my very best wishes. Please take great care of yourself. Good bye for now.

 

 

In this episode Paul talks about why it is that we often resist our own success and what we can do to let inspiration be more of a guiding force in our lives. The secret is in the equation F = I – R !!!