Category Archives: Life Reflections

Articles reflecting on life and spirituality

Focusing our Energy

Being fully present with all that we are, we can experience each choice fully and make the most fulfilling choices.

As modern life makes a wealth of information and opportunities available to us, we may find ourselves torn between a wide variety of interests and projects. Our excitement may entice us to try all of them at once, but doing so only diffuses our energy, leaving us unable to fully experience any of them.

But if we can choose one thing at a time to focus all of our attention upon, we can make the most of our life-force energy, engaging ourselves fully in the moment so that it can nurture us in return.

Our attention can be pulled in many directions, not only in our own lives, but by advertising, media, and the hustle and bustle of our surroundings. But when we take the time to listen to our inner guidance and focus our thoughts on the goals that resonate the most strongly within us, the rest of the world will fade away. This may mean focusing the spotlight of our attention upon developing one aspect of our work, one course of study, or one hobby to pursue in our free time, but it doesn’t mean that we have to stay focused on only one thing forever. We may never know which of our interests is best suited to our abilities and heart’s desires unless we give it a proper chance. By being fully present with all that we are and all that we have, we can experience each choice fully and make the most fulfilling choices for our energetic investments.

We are perpetually involved in many aspects of life in every moment. Our work in the world is necessary to attend to our physical needs, and our relationships are important for our emotional needs, but when we engage our spirit as well, we can choose the area that will nurture body, mind and soul. Staying focused in each moment allows us move with the rhythmic flow of the universe and harmonize all aspects of our being into balanced whole.

 

Simplify Your Life and Make it Better

Modern life is so frantic. We have more labor-saving devices than ever before in human history but we are living life at a faster pace than ever. We are encouraged to buy this, go there, do that and the result is that many of us are living lives that just don’t measure up to what we want. Here are some ideas to help you simplify your life to make it better.

I don’t know about you but I seem to have so many calls on my time and my money. I have so much stuff in my home that I can’t find anything. There never seems to be enough time to get it all done. I’m juggling so many balls that I can’t think straight. When I realized that all these things were affecting the quality of my life, I decided that something had to give.

Taking stock of my life, I decided that the best way to make changes that would make my life better was to make everything simpler. The sheer complexity of my life was leaving me feeling overwhelmed by it all and frequently stressed out. I felt perpetually tired and had trouble sleeping and thinking clearly.

But I had no idea where to start or how to go about simplifying my life until I read a magazine article about the psychological benefits of de-cluttering your workspace. It claimed that a clean workspace improved productivity and gave the illusion of being in control and on top of work tasks. Sounded good to me, so that’s where I decided to start.

Apparently there are some simple rules when it comes to de-cluttering and re-organizing your work space. You pick up a piece of paper and ask yourself these questions: Do I need to keep this? Do I need it on my work space? Can it be filed or delegated? What is the worst that will happen if I trash it?

Wow! Did this system work or what! I managed to reduce the amount of paper on my desk to a very small pile, I shredded buckets of papers and trashed even more. I even filed and delegated some work. I tell you, I felt so great after I had finished; like a huge weight was gone from my head and shoulders.

I was so inspired that I followed some more of the advice in that article. I moved the furniture around.  I now have a much more workable space that doesn’t look cluttered. There was a stain on one wall and I think I’ll look for a picture to put up there, to cover it and bring a bit of color to these dull gray walls.

Having discovered how much better my de-cluttered work space made me feel, I decided to try the same strategy in the rest of my home. Here’s a tip – don’t empty your entire closet onto the bed late in the afternoon. This is what I did and the job was much bigger than I thought so, come bed time, the bed was still under a pile of clothing!

So, start small; pull out one drawer and empty the contents. Pick up each item and ask those these questions: Do I wear/want this? Will I wear/want this? Do I need it? What is the worst thing that will happen if I donate it?….I know…a receipt to claim a donation when I file my taxes!! Have a big box ready to take the  local thrift store or arrange a pick up from the Salvation Army. Wipe the drawer with a damp cloth and replace only the items you have decided to keep. Be ruthless!

Don’t attempt to unclutter the whole house in one go; that is just too big a job. Aim to do one closet or one room a day/week/weekend, depending on the time you have. I guarantee you will feel so much better and you have the added bonus of being able to find the things you have.

As you de-clutter your home, consider more than simplifying your closets. What about the old refrigerator in the garage you only use when you have a party? Do you have an old TV lurking anywhere that is never watched? Do you really need to have three TVs in your house anyway? Do you have sports equipment that no one uses or camping gear left over from that one trip you took five years ago? Really simplify your life by removing any ‘stuff’ that clutters your home and your life but is not needed.

We have been programmed to get more and more stuff but does it add anything to the quality of life? We have ‘good’ stuff for special occasions; why keep them just for special occasions and then have to worry about storage? Aren’t you important enough to warrant using the ‘good’ stuff?

I further simplified my life by making some changes to my banking. I had several different accounts and it seemed I was always juggling from one to another. I kept one checking account as the working account and have my salary paid automatically into it. I arranged for the mortgage/rent and car payments to be made directly from it and a set amount to go into a savings account. All this meant that the only financial things I needed to do was pay the monthly bills as they came in. What a difference this made to my stress levels! I found I had more spare time to spend with the family as well.

Here are some more ideas for simplifying your life that I am considering putting into place. Find ways to slow down the pace of life; get up half an hour earlier on work days to avoid that mad panic associated with getting everyone off to work and school. After completing a task, whether at home or work, stop and collect your thoughts for five minutes before moving on to the next thing at hand. This strategy helps to clear the mind ready to focus on the next task.

Clean up after you as go; this prevents a mess forming and helps you keep on top of the cleaning and tidying. It also helps to keep your work surface clear so you can focus on the task at hand. Plan your day so you can multi-task or save time back-tracking. When you have a plan and a list, you don’t have to juggle so many thoughts in your mind.

Simplify your life to make it better by using some of these ideas. Letting go of ‘stuff’ is so refreshing and freeing, you will notice the difference almost immediately. Remember, being is so much more important in life than having.

So, if you reflect on your life, can you make it simpler?

Failure, not such a bad thing afterall!

Failure is such a negative word that it seems strange to suggest that it can be a good thing.  How many times have you looked back on your life, thought of mistakes you’ve made, and kicked yourself over them? I know I sure have. I have had many failures in my life. I have lost a job; I have mismanaged my money; and I have had trouble in relationships. But life goes on as it should.

Many people allow failure to hold them back (thanks to society), when in reality failure can be a good thing!

Fear of failure prevents many people from following their dreams or having a go at something new. Fear of failing is failure in itself because it holds back so many would-be success stories.

Failure is actually on our side. Failing allows us to grow, learn, and find new opportunities. Examples I have learned:

Failure means you have courage

Even though you didn’t get the results you wanted, at least you were trying to do something. So many people let the fear of failure prevent them from reaching for their dreams. So don’t be worried about a failure – at least you had the courage to have a go. Courage is not the absence of fear; it is feeling the fear and taking action anyway. When you have a go, despite the possibility of failure, you show that you have great courage.

Failure makes you stronger

When you don’t get the result you want, you can become more determined to succeed. At first you probably feel discouraged, frustrated or upset but these feelings don’t last forever. You then get a burst of determination and strength of purpose to try again. Failure makes you more focused on a successful outcome next time.

Failure helps you learn

It was Thomas Edison who said that he hadn’t failed in his hundreds of attempts to create the light bulb. His answer when questioned about his ‘failures’ was that he hadn’t failed, he had just found hundreds of ways that it didn’t work. This is the mentality of geniuses and successful people. Failure to get the results you wanted is not a negative thing; it is simply an opportunity to try a different method. It is also the opportunity to start again.

Failure helps you grow

When your efforts don’t work out, you have to reach deep inside to find the strength to try again, which is much easier said than done….trust me….been there done that. Let your pride go!.

To solve the problem and make sure you get the desired result, you need to extend yourself and so you grow. You need to stretch and possibly move outside your comfort zone.

After experiencing failure, you will never be the same as you were before you tried. You don’t know how far you can go until you have tried and failed.

Failure creates new opportunities

Many people believe that everything happens for a reason, we just don’t know what it is at the time. Do not look at it as though “it is what it is”, that is not the case. It is what you make of it, but before you can succeed, you must first fail.

Failures often brings unforeseen opportunities that would not have been available without the failure in the first place. You often need to close one door so that another door of opportunity can be opened for you. Failure is a way of one door closing. Failure is seldom the end; it is often a bright beginning.

Failure provides answers

If you don’t try and fail, you will never know if your idea or method is going to work. You spend time worrying that you don’t have the answer; you wonder whether it would have worked. The pain of regret is far worse than the pain of failure. When you fail, you can start again; with regret, you will never know.

This is also much easier said than done. We are all raised differently, but the one thing we all have in common is that our loving parents never wanted us to experience pain or failure. They want us to learn from their mistakes and to never have to suffer. Let me be the first to tell you (if you have not already experienced it for yourself)….does not happen and will not happen.

Every single person must fall before they can rise and learn from a lesson or a mistake.

Do not grow your life in “fear” and be “paranoid”. That in itself is self sabotage. You cannot blame that on anyone but YOU. Be open-minded, be vigilant, be courageous, be cautious, be humble, be loving and most importantly, be thankful.

Failure gives you the best chance of success

An article I once read stated that research out of Stanford University has shown that those who are the top of their field are the ones who have failed the most. Having to persevere to learn a new skill gives you the advantage over someone who gets it right first time. Learning many ways how not to do it gives you the edge over the person who hasn’t have that experience.

Don’t view failure as bad luck, instead look at each attempt to reach your goals as a triumph. There’s always something to learn, ways to grow, different viewpoints to see, and new opportunities waiting just around the corner. So get in and have a go. Fail fast and recover quickly to try again. Use every failure as an opportunity to learn and to grow as a person. Remember that every failure is like one step on the stairway to success. Above all else, remember this: If you never fail, you will never succeed.

Choosing Not to be a Target – Emotionally

It is important to remember that if you are being attacked emotionally, it is more than likely not about you at all.

Hurtful confrontations often leave us feeling drained and confused. When someone attacks us emotionally, we may wonder what we did to rouse their anger, and we take their actions personally. We may ask ourselves what we could have done to compel them to behave or speak that way toward us. It’s important to remember that there are no real targets in an emotional attack and that it is usually a way for the attacker to redirect their uncomfortable feelings away from themselves.

When people are overcome by strong emotions, like hurt or anguish, they may see themselves as victims and lash out at others as a means of protection or to make themselves feel better. You may be able to shield yourself from an emotional attack by not taking the behavior personally. First, however, it is good to cultivate a state of detachment that can provide you with some protection from the person who is attacking you. This will allow you to feel compassion for this person and remember that their behavior isn’t as much about you as it is about their need to vent their emotions.

If you have difficulty remaining unaffected by someone’s behavior, take a moment to breathe deeply and remind yourself that you didn’t do anything wrong, and you aren’t responsible for people’s feelings.

If you can see that this person is indirectly expressing a need to you—whether they are reaching out for help or wanting to be heard—you may be able to diffuse the attack by getting them to talk about what is really bothering them.

You cannot control other people’s emotions, but you can control your own. If you sense yourself responding to their negativity, try not to let yourself. Keep your heart open to them, and they may let go of their defensiveness and yield to your compassion and openness.

Coping with People you Dislike

When we are forced to deal with people we dislike, a great learning opportunity is being put
forth to us.

As much as most of us wish we could exist in harmony with the people we encounter throughout our lives, there will always be individuals we dislike. Some simply rub us the wrong way while others strike us as deliberately unaware. We may judge others as too mean or abrasive for us to interact with them comfortably. Yet no person should be deemed a villain because their beliefs, opinions, mannerisms, and mode of being are not compatible with your own. You need not embrace the rough traits they have chosen to embody. There may be times in which the best course of action involves distancing yourself from someone you dislike. But circumstances may require that you spend time in the company of individuals who awaken your aversion. In such cases, you can ease your discomfort by showing your foe loving compassion while examining your feelings carefully.

The reasons we dislike some individuals are often complex and, at first, indecipherable. Often, we are automatically averse to people who are different because they compel us to question our values, spirituality, culture, and ideologies, threatening to undermine our self-assurance. Realistically, however, those you dislike have no power to weaken your life’s foundations. In fact, your aversion to specific individuals may actually be your response to your fear that specific qualities you see in them also exist within you. Their presence may force you to face internal issues you would rather not confront. If you meet someone who inspired an intense, largely negative response in you, ask yourself why your reaction is so laden with powerful emotions. Remember that you control your feelings and, if necessary, you can minimize this individual’s impact on your well-being by choosing how you will respond to them.

Though you may not have an immediate breakthrough, your willingness to consider your dislike rationally can help you better understand the root of your feelings. Your aversion to certain individuals may not wane over time, yet the comprehension you gain through reflection can help you interact with them sympathetically, benevolently, and with a greater degree of kindness. There is nothing wrong with recognizing that you are incompatible with some people. You may never achieve a shared harmony with those you dislike, but you can nonetheless learn to modulate your reactions to these individuals and, ultimately, to coexist peacefully with them.

In the Valley of Despair to the seeds of Light

Anyone who has walked through the valley of despair and come out the other side knows that even in that darkness, seeds of light can be found.

When we find ourselves in a place of despair, it can help us to know this, so that we don’t give up. We can stop, take a deep breath, and remind ourselves that we will find ourselves on the other side of this troubled time, and that we may even emerge with something new to offer.

It seems that despair has been around for as long as humans have been able to express themselves, and many of the great artists, teachers, and visionaries have labored through times of depression and hopelessness. Their words, images, and lives can serve as beacons in the darkness, even if they can’t always immediately lead us out. In the end, we must find our own way, and this is why despair often overwhelms us when it comes. This is when we must come to our own aid and know in our hearts that we have what it takes to keep moving forward in the general direction of the light.

Even though we must ultimately rely on ourselves, this doesn’t mean we can’t ask for help. Our friends and families can help us, as can our inner guides and helping spirits. They can serve the purpose of a fire that burns throughout the night, keeping us warm, and providing a light by which we might see the changes we may need to make in order to move forward.

You Need To Manage Your Thoughts

Leadership Thought #313 – You Need To Manage Your Thoughts.

Dealing with Difficult People

Opening the Channels of Communication

We all have the experience of difficult people in our lives at one point or another and honest but clear communication is the answer.

We encounter a wide variety of people throughout our lives. Many of them touch us in some positive way. Occasionally, however, we encounter those individuals who, for whatever reason, can be difficult to deal with. Perhaps this person is a colleague or close friend that you feel is deliberately being obtuse, inviting in trouble, or doing foolish things that you find annoying. Sometimes, it may be possible to appease or avoid those people short term. Dealing with them in the long term, however, can be exhausting. The behavior of difficult people can even make you feel like losing your temper, but keep your cool. Staying calm is the first step, especially when you are ready to confront them.

Avoiding a difficult person can improve impossible and not in your best interest, especially if you live or work together. Likewise, attempts to steer clear of them can become a source of stress and anxiety when they are a part of your social circle. When this is the case, it is best to kindly address the problem. Try not to let their actions or mood affect you. You also may want to try expressing your feelings directly. Tell to the person how their actions make you feel and encourage them toward a more positive course of action. Speak assertively, but respectfully, and don’t portray yourself as a victim. Another approach for dealing with a difficult individual is to gain a deeper understanding of who that person is. Ask them why they do or say certain things. If you disagree with their motives, question them further so you can try and discover the root of their behaviors. In doing so, you may be able to gently shift their perceptions, or at least help them understand your ! point of view.

You may want to think about what you want to say to a difficult person before you actually talk to them. If you can, avoid being judgmental or defensive, and try to approach the conversation objectively. If the person is open to the idea, try coming to an agreement. If approaching them fails, let it go and move on. There is no reason to let difficult person or situation have power over your state of being. Remember that a lot can be accomplished when you take the time to listen and offer up alternative perspectives.

Always Giving…..

I believe it is a trait of women to be givers. But being a giver has a downside. You end up being bitter, wondering, “Where’s the giving to me?”

After years of giving, and giving and…giving, I wondered where and when the receiving part would start.

One day, I needed a favor from my husband. He didn’t exactly jump to it. Annoyed that I was not as a priority as I though, I reminded him of all I did for him. He asked me, “Did I ever ask you for any of those things?”

He never had. I’d done them all on my own self-righteous hook. I did it because I wanted to. I felt bad that he was in the position that he was and assumed it was my responsibility as a wife to help him out and give to him.

As I reacted in a defensive manner towards him, he responded to me as “why are you mad at me, you made the decision to do something, don’t expect it in return”.

I thought about this when I had some alone time and realized that my behavior was in reaction to what I had seen growing up. Always doing something to get something in return. Knowing that this is not normal or acceptable behavior…I still did it. Then the realization kicked in. If you wish to grow yourself, whether it is monetarily or emotionally, find a solid balance between the giving and the taking.

Know what you deserve to be paid for, whether that is in your job or your emotional/spiritual life.

Whatever you are doing, do it gladly, without thinking that you are owed extra for the doing.

And…if you cannot give the little bit ‘extra’ gladly, don’t give it.

I’m grateful every day for that moment of hurt, that very simple and yet large epiphany.

Giving Excuses

When we offer nothing but excuses in our lives, we are not being honest with anybody, mostly ourselves.
Excuses may seem like rational reasons for us not to do something, but if we’re not careful we can allow them to keep us from reaching our goals. Too often we accept our excuses as reasons why we cannot accomplish what we set out to do, and instead of finding alternatives we give up. But if we can be honest with ourselves and take responsibility for our choices, we will begin to notice that we no longer give excuses. When we keep our minds focused on our goals, we will find that excuses fade away in the light of our priorities, and issues become challenges that can help us become wiser and stronger.

Sometimes we may give others excuses rather than be fully honest. We may think it is kind to tell someone we are willing to do something with them, whether work or play, but then keep putting them off. This diverts our energy into keeping the truth at a distance while continuing a falsehood. But when we can take responsibility for our feelings and express them honestly, but gently, the other person is free to find someone who is better suited to accompany them while we are free to pursue the things we like. When we can do this, our energy can be invested in building better lives and relationships.

There’s another way in which excuses rob us of energy—and that is in the power of our thoughts and words. If we find ourselves in a situation, for example, where we are being asked for a financial contribution but we use the excuse that we can’t afford it, we create and attract lack and limitation into our lives. The same goes for seemingly simple things like pretending to not feel well or any other false statement. We may think that excuses make things easier, but they complicate matters with smokescreens. When we can commit to our priorities, take responsibility for our choices, and communicate them honestly to others, there will be no need to make excuses, and we will have much more energy to dedicate to all the things we love.