Living Intentionally…every day is a good day

author pictureDuring an interview I conducted for an open sales position, I asked, “what is it that separates you from others that do the same job?” The candidate stated, “Every day is a good day.”  He went on to tell me about fighting for his life with cancer and how that changed his entire perspective.  I couldn’t help but be awed with the passion for life and passion for helping others that this person exuded as he spoke to me.

Our world is so often filled with so much noise…deadlines, tasks, relationship drama, and all types of life’s stressors. But where is it that we place the majority of our attention? Is it on mundane and routine tasks where we just move through life, or is it on the essence of life, regardless of what it is we are doing?

Whatever it is you decide to place your attention on will grow stronger, and whatever you decide to take your attention away from will wither away. 

If you have to perform a task like digging a trench for a sprinkler system or cooking dinner for your family, is your attention focused on getting the task done so you can get the kids bathed and to bed, or is it in relishing the moment? Are you loving the conversation that takes place with your kids while you pour the noodles into the boiling pot?  Are you breathing in the fresh air and the smell of moist dirt, while feeling the cool breeze on your face as you take a shovel full of dirt out from the trench?

We have to perform our duties, regardless. The way we approach it has a significant impact on our life.

Every day we look around us, we are reminded that life is just too short. Tomorrow is never a guarantee. That brings me back to the question, what is the essence of life and how do we truly live while we’re still breathing? As I’ve read other’s opinions and contemplated it, for me, it comes back to three core questions:

What is it I value?

What type of life do I… my true self… want to live?

Where do I focus my attention?

In business I regularly applied the book Strengths Finder 2.0 with my team as an integral part of the culture. The concept is around identifying core strengths and the values that truly ignite the fire inside and to place those strengths as the primary focus.  This flies in the face of “focusing on developing a person’s weaknesses.” There is a base capability level that one has to obtain to achieve a task, but once those base capabilities have been obtained, focus on individual passion and unique strengths differentiates individuals and teams from the masses. In other words:

…to make a real difference in the world, you tap into what makes you unique and INCREDIBLE every day of your life. The more your strengths and your passions are your focus, the stronger they become and the more effective and fulfilled your life becomes.

So, how do you determine what you truly value? One of many defining moments in my life came as I saw my marriage falling apart before my eyes. To the outsider, my life looked perfect. I was respected within my profession with a good paying job that enabled me to lead a team that made a positive difference on a terrible orphan disease. I was married with four smart and healthy children with a nice house in a great neighborhood. But, my entire world seemed to be falling apart beneath my feet.

During this time in my life, I spent hours in the desert by my home in the very early or late hours of the day and night. It was a place I used to escape and to find space. One early morning, I stood contemplating the concept of Controlling your Reality. I also contemplated what others had said about Fate and how things may be predestined to occur. I considered that there are things that may occur beyond our control, but at the same time, I have no doubt that we can choose much of our “fate” and have a choice over how what does occur that is truly out of our control impacts our lives. With a stick I held in my right hand, I wrote CYF (Choose Your Fate) in the desert sand. At the very moment I finished, two groups of coyotes howled around me. Chills ran down my spine and the CYFworld concept was born.  Two years later, I published Lulled, that was written based on two passions I hold. 1. Getting below the surface on what holds us back and what it is that sets us free and 2. Suspense novels.

Many inspirational and spiritual leaders claim that the way to determine what you truly value and the life you want to live, is calm the mind through stillness or meditation.  In The Seven Spiritual Laws of Success Deepak Chopra outlines three steps to calming the mind:

  • Take time each day to be silent…just be”
  • “Take time each day to commune with nature”
  • “Practice Nonjudgement”

The desert allowed me to get in touch with nature and helped the noise in my mind dissipate, allowing me to get more in touch with my true self. Where even though it was just for a moment, I felt fearless, neither inferior nor superior, and immune to criticism because I felt something bigger than me and larger than the problems I had been focused on.

Even in a city, there is nature, one just has to be willing to see it.  In Lulled, Stephanie Peterson is struggling with the world crashing around her.  A six-year-old little boy awe’s her with his perspective, despite the circumstances he had been placed within.  As Stephanie left the rundown duplex, she noticed one beautiful blooming rosebush among a brown and unkept yard.  She had not been open to seeing it when she came to this place, regardless, there it was for her to enjoy once her mind had been freed of the noise that kept her trapped.

Nonjudgement and Non-Attachment: When labeling, judging and analyzing it creates internal dialogue…move to what is without judgement. Otherwise, there is too much noise to hear that which connects us. Go beyond the turbulent internal dialogue going on to hear the creative, unrestricted mind. See it for what it is, without the negative emotion or labels applied to it. As Eckhart Tolle states in A New Earth, “the primary cause of unhappiness is never the situation, but your thoughts around it.” If you don’t like a situation, do what you can to change it. If you have an unrealized goal, do what you need to achieve it…then let it go and allow the Universe or God to act.

Once in touch with the life you want to live and the values you hold to your core, it opens up the ability to Live Intentionally and to place conscious intention with what has our attention.

Live each moment as if you are achieving your most fulfilling dreams and becoming your best true self

Give what you want in return.  If you want joy, give joy. If you want love, give love. If you want attention and appreciation, give attention and appreciation.

Again in Deepak Chopra’s The Seven Spiritual Laws of Success, he outlines three action steps for living with Intention in everyday life

  • “Make a decision that each time you come into contact with anyone, you will give them something.”
  • “Gratefully receive all the gifts life has to offer.”
  • Commit to give and receive “life’s most precious gifts…caring affection, appreciation and love”

Gifts can be as simple as recognition that someone else does exist with a pleasant smile or a hello. When it comes to giving and receiving, it is important to note that it is just as important to gratefully receive the gifts that come our way.  Life is a circle, and if we give without receiving, we are disrupting that balance.

For more topics and to engage and make a difference with the CYFworld community, visit https://CYFworld.com

Also, please take a look at the recently published book from CYFworld Press at https://cyfworld.com/cyfworld-press-1

The Other Side of Helplessness

otherside of helplessnessPsychological Abuse and Control is often facilitated by uncovering the insecurities of another person and continuing to feed into them.  These insecurities are added to with aggressive, passive aggressive and demeaning remarks or actions that work to further lower the victim’s self-esteem. In addition to the work on directly trying to make a person feel “less than,” techniques are used to isolate the person being targeted. That way the primary message of “you aren’t good enough” is not diluted by outside positive perspectives.

Reality is more of what we dwell on than the circumstances we are placed within.

Two people can be placed in the exact same environment, yet have two opposite opinions of their experiences. The more a mind, which is open to accepting the negative comments made towards them, hears those comments, especially without strong positive reinforcement to counteract them, the more the person being targeted falls into a reality that feels hopeless.

If there was a previous abusive relationship or even abuse as a child, where the victim felt helpless in changing their situation when the abuse occurred, subsequent relationships with abusive patterns will often continue.  This is true even if the victim has the ability to easily leave the unhealthy situation.  This concept has been coined as Learned Helplessness. After being in a situation that was fully out of their control, or lead to believe it was out of their control, they will accept similar abuse in future relationships. They have literally learned to be helpless. Also part of this equation is a struggling self-esteem in believing that “I don’t deserve more” or “I don’t deserve to be happy.” Often times, as individuals begin to experience happiness, they will pull away or sabotage the things that make them happy. Those who have Learned Helplessness will generally ignore or give much less weight to positive feedback than they do the negative feedback that reinforces their current beliefs.

Just as negative comments and actions can shape a mind open to hearing those negative words, positive reinforcement can positively alter the reality of the one receiving that positive affirmation.  Separating the True Self from labels is also important. In schools, the justice system, communities and more, the use of labels coerce people to believe that’s who they are. In the book Lulled, Cliff Patterson says it eloquently when he states,

“Some are blessed with ability that can be highlighted on the field, some are blessed with the ability to solve problems and create solutions for the world to use, and ALL are blessed by being part of what unites us all…that part of us, that makes each one of us INCREDIBLE. Always remember that. Know that. Feel that. Embrace that. And, BE that. You are important because of who you are, beyond the abilities and limitations your body and your mind provide you.”

A fourth tactic used to control another person is to identify what is important to that person and make them fear they will lose it.  For example, with mothers children are often used as leverage to control the mother’s actions in these types of unhealthy relationships.  Continuous fear tactics around the mother losing the things that mean more to her than anything else in the world can cause her to submit to the demands of the perpetrator. Even when there is no rational reason to believe a mother may lose her children, she will often believe it, having been subjected to that “brainwashing” over the years.

Abusive tactics used to control:

  1. Feed into current insecurities
  2. Use demeaning words or actions to create more insecurities and further lower self-esteem
  3. Isolate to separate from outside positive perspectives
  4. Utilize things that are important to the victim to control them

So, how do you get on the other side of helplessness?

Acceptance: Acknowledge what’s happening.  Is your situation being shaped by a lack of self-esteem or a false label of who you are? Just acknowledging and then accepting your current position, puts you in a situation to be able to change it. Acknowledging what occurs, when it occurs, enables you to be mindful of what is actually happening.  That’s when change begins to happen.  Just considering that you may be more than you have been taught to believe, opens up that crack in the unhealthy mentality that can allow different and positive perspectives to creep in.  Add to this, positive self-talk, where you make a specific effort to recognize the positive qualities you do have.

Presence: Now is the only true reality.  Your kids are with you now and they have not been taken away. As you feel anxiety and fear build up, acknowledge the Now. Presence doesn’t necessarily come naturally, but it can be learned.  As with everything, the more you practice, the more natural it becomes.

  • Listen intently to conversation or what’s going on around you
  • Be mindful about not oscillating between the past and the future
  • Observe what’s going on around you intently
  • Allow yourself to be in touch with your true authentic feelings. It takes practice when you’ve been condition to keep your feelings buried
  • Take Breaks and Clear your mind:
    • Take conscious breaths and feel the air flow in and out of your lungs. There are specific techniques like 4-7-8 Breathing that have been studied for reducing anxiety
    • Meditate to reduce the “noise” in your mind. There are many options and forms out there. Find what feels right for you. Two forms validating the positive impact of meditation through studies are Transcendental Meditation (significant cost associated) and Natural Stress Relief.
    • Still the mind through body movement, especially movement that expresses the emotion built up inside yourself
    • Find and do what gives you peace and clarity. Ensure that is part of each day.

Mindfulness is intertwined with both Acceptance and Presence.  It is about being conscious and deliberate on tasks at hand, as well as being conscious and deliberate about the breaks that are needed to clear your mind.

In summary, there is another side to helplessness. Be deliberate in acknowledging and accepting your current state of being to enable the positive change to occur.  Being Present and engaged in the Now, and the steps to strengthen that state of mind, will alter your reality, enabling you to truly Choose your Fate.

For more on the psychological and sociological struggles we must navigate and overcome in the context of a gripping suspense novel take a look at Lulled By Travis N. Jensen

For more around different Choose your Fate topics, visit CYFworld.com

 

 

Never be afraid to do what’s right

MLK quote dont look the other way

As I reflected on that quote above, I recalled a situation that made a significant impact on my life. It occurred my freshmen year of high school. I was walking across a college campus parking lot with two of my friends and a few girls that we knew from high school.  It was around 9 PM, and we were on our way to a Burger King.  We talked and laughed as we made our way.  It was dark and every few minutes a car would drive by, going further into the campus area. I looked up at a pair of approaching headlights and something inside me knew as the hair stood up on the back of my neck.  To the point that when the car slowed down as it approached, I yelled, “run.”

My friends and the girls we were with just stood there looking at me and then at the car. A carload of six senior’s from a neighboring high school, all football players, jumped out of the car.  Two boys came after me and two after each of the other two friends I was with. Two of us were faster than the boys chasing us. The third, unfortunately, was not as quick. When they caught him, the two who had caught him began to hit him.  I could feel those chasing me stop, so I stopped.  The boys who had been chasing me turned around and went back to where my friend was getting beat on. I stood there frozen, not knowing what to do as they punched my friend. After what seemed for ever, but was probably 30 seconds or so, my other friend then acted.  He came running in with his fists up. That was enough for the boys to get off of our beaten friend, jump in their car and take off.

“Never again,” is what I thought about after that incident. “Never again will I be in a situation where I may be able to help someone who cannot or does not know how to help themselves and I stand and do nothing!”

As a younger child, I had been shy with a struggling self-esteem, as a result of multiple experiences that I had. The experience that I had my freshman year had propelled me to act, though not always perfect, during external situations that I encountered. Since that walk across the Weber State University parking lot, I have had many opportunities to help others. I have been able to pull a man from a car that was stuck upside down in an icy river, when the masses stood by and watched, as well as much more “simplistic” acts, such as mentoring an elementary school child that did not have family support at home. But, even with that, I failed to realize following my true passion and more fully embrace that concept until well into a career, children, and post a struggling marriage.  Thankfully, it is never too late to awaken into the present reality that is our own and the unity we share with others who make that commitment to do what’s right. CYFworld.com

For more on this subject, check out the recent publication of Lulled…to quiet silence, pacify, settle down, or hush.