The Power of Our Thoughts in the Financial Crisis – The Affirmation Spot for Monday September 29, 2008

The current global economic crisis clearly demonstrates the power of our thoughts to influence the world around us. Markets are case studies in human psychology. They are a kind of collective mind in action. Our thoughts are really the force that drives them up or down.

The issue becomes who is driving the thinking? Who is creating expectation bubbles and who is popping them? It’s another reason to empower your own thoughts rather than allowing them to be driven by “experts”, politicians, or the media.

When housing prices, the stock market, or any other market rises it is the result of our thinking about them and our belief in them.

It’s not brilliant economic strategies, astute politicians, or suddenly realized value in houses and other assets that causes them to rise 15% per year. Prosperity and rising markets are created by our thinking. As long as our thinking is confident, things are good. When our thinking shifts to fear or worry about markets they begin to contract.

There is a certain collective nature to thinking about these things. When the thinking reaches critical mass (one way or the other) changes happen in the market.

As with other aspects of our lives, our thinking inevitably leads to our actions. When belief and confidence are strong our actions reflect the belief that growth will continue. The danger lies in believing that growth is an uninterrupted straight line. It is possible to make poor decisions or take unwise actions that can lead to problems.

That’s what we see in the current crisis. Very powerful financial companies made some bad bets on based on optimistic assessments. They wrongly concluded that the boom would go on forever and they got over-extended. Because of lax oversight and questionable business practices, they stretched optimism to fantasy land.

Mind you, when this happens real – sometimes negative – events happen in the world.  I’m not saying that thinking can avert the results of bad decisions or actions. I’m saying it is the impetus that drives the market one way or the other.

Why am I talking about this today? As Congress ponders an (imho) ill-advised bailout of Wall Street, the seeds of fear have been planted in the market (our minds) by financial and political leaders. They have set up a scenario that creates a crash, if their bill ($700 billion bailout) is not passed.

Planting these thoughts creates the negative thinking that will bring about a crash, if we are not careful.

The bailout is based on a logical fallacy called There Is No Alternative (TINA). TINA happens when someone says there is a problem and offers a single solution as the only possible course of action. This is almost never the case. It limits thinking into a narrow path of possibility. The fact is we live in a universe full of infinite possibilities. As citizens and people, we need to be on guard against people trying to limit our thinking. It smacks of manipulation and pushing us towards an outcome desired by a small group of people.

In reality, though, we can minimize the extent of these economic events by maintaining stable thinking and not over-reacting. Panic is created when the entire herd decides to run off the cliff – again based on a thought that “there is not enough I better get mine.” That’s what happened in 1929 and caused the great stock market crash that resulted in the Great Depression.

If optimism creates growing markets and pessimism create shrinking markets, it stands to reason that stable thinking can stabilize shaky markets.

A combination of accountability for those who have made bad choices and stable thinking will get us through this situation. Never forget, though, how important the way you think about these events is to how they will come out. Your thinking is a powerful thing. Never underestimate it.

Stay inspired!

Ray

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Whatever I Need Comes My Way – The Affirmation Spot for Friday September 26, 2008

“Whatever I need comes my way.” (hear this affirmation)


That’s a simple affirmation, but contained in it is world of faith, hope, and awareness.

  • Faith: The affirmation communicates faith in its implicit understanding that everything happens for a reason. I know that assertion has almost become trite conventional wisdom. Nonetheless, even science acknowledges discernable patterns in the universe. The Earth does not suddenly begin orbiting the Moon. The ocean tides do not flow in reverse. There is a certain perfection to things. Are our lives an exception? Hardly. When you look back at your life you see that so many things that did not seem to make sense in a moment made perfect sense given perspective. There seems to be a kind of plan to things. You can have faith that the new things coming into your life will also fit into that plan and provide you new opportunities to grow and expand.
  • Hope: The affirmation communicates hope in that it reminds you that there is a flow to things. You are not stuck where we are. New things are coming to you all the time. The universe and your life are in motion constantly. When you get stressed or depressed it is often because you create solidity to a momentary setback. It feels permanent, but it is not. Every day brings new possibilities. “Whatever” is an open book and reminds you that anything is possible.
  • Awareness: The affirmation communicates awareness. Notice it says “whatever I need” not “whatever I want”. The concept here is that there is a certain intelligence or wisdom in the events, people, and things that come your way in life. There are no accidents. Because that is so, you can be confident that you have the wherewithall to handle these things. You really can take lemons and make lemonade. You can handle setbacks and move forward to new levels of achievement.

Stay inspired!

Ray

Psychology of Seasons – The Affirmation Spot for Tuesday September 23, 2008

This morning at 10:44 US Central time the northern hemisphere passed from Summer to Autumn. Seasonal changes represent more than climatic transition. They also alter our psychology.

Our ancestors truly recognized and appreciated the meaning of the seasons. They celebrated and revered the cycles of the seasons.

The life that comes to be in the Spring and flourishes in Summer begins to dwindle in the Fall. Today’s post is a poem I wrote in 1993. I hope it captures the magic and meaning of the transition to Fall.

aaa

Psychology of Seasons

A sun-drenched sky
on windy autumn day;
out across open fields
passing clouds make shadow play.

Silent beauty in multi-hues,
but ominous in a sense;
for though today be delightful
darkness soon gains precedence.

Shortly days will end too soon
as the leaves of autumn blow.
The gods withhold their aid
to the lifeforms down below.

A chill permeates the air
and death is all around.
Evidenced by dying trees:
their leaves spread on the ground.

Depression need not be our course;
all things must come to pass.
Death is an integral part of life;
perennial as fields of grass.

For very soon rebirth takes place
and all springs back to life.
To our hearts the glow returns,
bringing end to stress and strife.

Given time we come to find
and perhaps appreciate
the coming of darkness and death
who’s end gives cause to celebrate.

Copyright 1993, 1997

Stay inspired!

Ray

Alan Cohen on The Truth – The Affirmation Spot for Monday September 22, 2008

Through the ages, poets and philosophers have sought to define truth. It’s unlikely that anyone will ever come up with a definition that will satisfy everyone. Words can only eat around the edges of the topic.

Today’s post is an extended excerpt from Alan Cohen‘s book, The Dragon Doesn’t Live Here Anymore.

“The real organ of truth is not the brain, but the heart.  …. Hafiz, the Persian poet, said, ‘ O you who would  learn the marvels of Love from the copybook of reason, I am afraid that you will never really see the point!’

We feel or sense Truth more than we think it. We know it more than we understand it. We can see it more than we can explain it. When we attempt to analyze Truth, we lose ourselves in the dead-end labyrinth of the thinking mind. When we love Truth, however, the storehouse of universal wisdom is opened to us. Our respect for Truth is our investment in its understanding, and our suffering the price of its denial.

The Truth, we discover, cannot be found in a book. We may find words and descriptions of the Truth in a book, but not the Whole Truth, for the Whole Truth is fathomless, ever free of containment, confinement, and conformity….

Truth re-creates itself by its own beauty. There is nothing secret about Truth it will find us where ever we are….

It is said ‘The Truth hurts.”  The Truth has never hurt anything; only illusion hurts. The Truth knows only how to heal. Those who resist Truth resist healing, and those in need of healing can find it by embracing Truth.

The Truth brings with it a peace and satisfaction that falsehood cannot imitate. The lover of Truth lives only for the vision of his ideal and he is nourished only by his awareness of it. ….

The Truth is simple … When we return to simple things the Truth reawakens in our heart like a long-exiled lover.  If you want to know what the Truth is, put aside your textbooks for awhile and walk along the seashore at sunset. Take a child to the park. Gaze at the stars. Observe the gentle rhythm of your breath. Listen to the sound of the bamboo flute.”

Cohen is talking about the timeless, changeless, yet uniquely individual Truth that flows through each of us at every moment. He suggests that by aligning ourselves with it, we will find peace and contentment. By living it we can become truly who we really are without pretense.

Are you living your truth or are you living according rules written by someone else? As long as you live by someone else’s rules, you will never be the person you are here to be. That would be a real shame.

Stay inspired!

Ray


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America’s 10 Most Stressful Cities – The Affirmation Spot for Friday September 19, 2008

This is interesting. Forbes Magazine this week published its list of the 10 most stressful cities in The United States. It includes the expected suspects – that due their size and congestion – might be expected to be stressful. So, if you live in any of these cities, you have an added impetus to take steps to de-stress your life.

  1. Chicago
  2. New York
  3. Detroit
  4. Los Angeles
  5. San Francisco
  6. San Diego
  7. Cleveland
  8. Salt Lake City
  9. Providence
  10. Philadelphia

I’m sure there could be debate about some of these cities. Cleveland and Salt Lake City? The magazine used the following criteria:

  • Unemployment rates
  • Gasoline prices
  • Air quality
  • Population density

If you’re feeling stressed and your city didn’t make the list. There’s always hope for next year.

Stay inspired!

Ray

The Financial Crisis and What We Can Do About It – The Affirmation Spot for Thursday September 18, 2008

Even in the face of great difficulty we have within us an ability cope, overcome, and succeed.

I’ve written a number of articles recently about going beyond positive thinking and happy thoughts on to empowered thinking. Empowered thinking includes being informed among its three elements. Being informed is about honestly assessing a situation – not candy-coating it – so that you can make sound decisions and take strong actions to deal with it.

We are quickly approaching a moment when being informed means looking honestly at the economic situation we are facing and recognizing that we must engage the other two aspects of empowered thinking – positive thinking and committed action.

The Situation

This evening a Wall Street Journal article declared the current financial crisis the worst since the 1930s. While the signs of trouble have been apparent for a couple of years, such statements can no longer be considered hyperbole against the backdrop of recent events.

  • Share prices plummeting
  • Home prices plummeting
  • The dollar plummeting
  • Companies exchanging debt and bets on debt and counting it as revenue on their balance sheets
  • Financial powerhouses gone in a day.
  • Great American corporations like GM and Ford hanging on for dear life.
  • A government already trillions of dollars in debt and borrowing every day to fight wars around the world acting as though it can bail everybody out.
All of this and our “leaders” still can’t bring themselves to even utter the word “recession”. The two major party presidential candidates Barack Obama and John McCain – awash in money and influence from Wall Street firms – are trying to “get their messages right” on the economy. They want to put the best face on it or make sure that the other side gets the blame for it.

The bottom line is that the people we elected to protect our interests have not done so. Companies we trusted to be responsible with our savings and our investments have not so either. And, we have all been guilty of thinking that perpetually rising home values and easy credit are a norm.

Let me be clear. Wall Street turned into Las Vegas over the past few years while both parties in Washington turned a blind eye and even poured gas on the fire. Bluntly, Wall Street bet our collective house and lost. Now they are coming to the government (the American taxpayer) and saying, “You have to save us because the whole ship will sink, if you don’t”.

So far the bailout has nearly doubled the stated federal government debt and its not over yet. When the federal government owes money guess who that means really owes it – yep the taxpayers.

Some in Congress are finally responding against the move by the Treasury Department and The Federal Reserve to rescue the financial giants. That is a good, if belated, thing. After all, The US Constitution clearly gives only Congress the power to appropriate government funds. Here we have the executive branch and the central bank overstepping their Constitutional authority. Congress needs to act and act swiftly to stop these actions.

What We Can Do

Being informed allows us to use positive thinking and committed action to create change. There are several things we can do right now and several things we can learn for the future from this situation.

  • Don’t panic – markets are all about human psychology – i.e. “the herd mentality”. In good times, the herd grazes until it is full. In bad times, the herd gets spooked and does things as stupid as running off a cliff. When panic takes over a bad situation becomes a spiraling cycle of negativity. We need to stay calm and carefully consider our moves.
  • Demand Congress assert itself – Congress has the Constitutional authority to appropriate funds – not the executive branch and not The Federal Reserve. Congress has direct responsibility to the people and they need to reassert that Constitutional authority.
  • Demand oversight – we probably thought our government was doing due diligence in overseeing the financial markets. Purely and simply it was not. We need to demand a return to sensible oversight of the markets and not double-talk from politicians beholden to those markets.
  • Reduce or eliminate debt – with markets and credit tightening, it is not going to be a good time to owe people money. We should all do what we can to reduce or eliminate as much debt as possible.
  • Demand justice – people who have been irresponsible and even criminal in bringing about this crisis need to held accountable.
  • Decentralize the economy – this is paramount. The keys to our economic fate lie in too few hands and in hands that do not have the peoples’ best interest at heart. This must change. I’ve had recent dialogue with a number of people promoting a new wave of entrepreneurialism. The idea of independent business ownership has given way to giant box stores and massive government and extra-governmental organizations (i.e. The Federal Reserve) managing the economy. This has taken peoples’ economic destinies out of their hands and given it over to these entities.
  • Control what we can control – we cannot control the macro situation, but we can do everything in our power to make things better as we can affect them. Evaluate your own situation and take positive steps forward towards expecting the best and preparing for the worst.
  • Focus on the best possible outcome – we can align our thoughts with the best possible outcome for ourselves and the nation. We severely underestimate the power of our individual and collective thoughts to alter the reality we receive. If we focus on the best possible outcome that is what we can expect to experience.
We may be in for some stormy seas in the short term. The key is that with empowered thinking – positive thinking, being informed, and taking committed action – we can change course and push towards a better future for us all.
Stay inspired!
Ray

It’s About You – The Affirmation Spot for Wednesday September 17, 2008

I did an absolute no no in the blogging world today. I purposely tagged this article with the names of a number of famous people to shamelessly attract you to it. My reason will be clear in a moment.

We are a culture that invests a lot of time and energy on fame and celebrity. We’re obsessed with the latest fashions worn by stars and by stories of their luxurious lifestyles or tragic slips. We are obsessed with sports stars, movie stars, singing stars, and Dancing with the Stars.

We’d never consider missing the big game. In fact, we’ll rearrange our lives to watch it. But spend three hours quietly reflecting on our lives, where we are, and where we’re going? Well, maybe we’ll have time for that next week or next month or when we’re older.

You visited this article in the hopes of finding out some little tidbit about the celebrity you were searching. Instead, I’d like to hold up a mirror and remind you that your life is about you not about them.

There is nothing wrong with diversions. In moderation, they are actually quite normal and healthy. The danger comes when they prevent us from doing the one thing we are here to do.

The truth is you are here to learn about you. You are not here to be a follower; having your thoughts downloaded to you every day by talk radio or becoming a slave to this season’s fashions. As long as you are, you will never be free.

You are here to take the circumstances and abilities you have and make the most of them. You are here to express the uniqueness that no one else living on this planet can. You are here to think for yourself and be yourself.

Here is a challenge. This week spend as much time on you as you do following sports scores, fashion, the music charts, or celebrity gossip. You may just rediscover this amazing person full of potential and ready to take on new dreams.

Fame and celebrity, even for the few lucky enough to catch it, are a fieeting morning mist. You cannot grab it and hold it because the Sun burns it off in the blink of an eye.

You, however, are substantial and worth time and effort you now put into other things.

Stay inspired!

Ray