29 Gifts Challenge – The Affirmation Spot for Wednesday July 16, 2008

 

This really inspired me so I thought I’d share. The story comes from www.darynkagan.com.

The story is about Cami Walker – a young woman who had everything going for her until she was suddenly diagnosed with multiple sclerosis. She managed to convert her own struggle into something good in the world.

Watch the video it will really make your day. Click the image to watch it.

If you’d like to take part in Cami’s project, go to 29 Gifts dot org.

 

Stay inspired!

Ray

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Mirror, Mirror on the Wall – The Affirmation Spot for Tuesday July 15, 2008

They say the eyes are the windows to the soul. When was the last time you looked into your soul?

Do you ever look at yourself in the mirror? I mean really look at yourself? I’m not talking about the kind of superficial looking you do when you comb your hair or put on your make up. I’m not talking about the kind of looking you do when you judge yourself because you added five extra pounds.

I mean really meditating on that person facing you in the mirror. I mean looking deeply into his or her eyes.

You look into the eyes of every other person you care about. Why not your own? Have you ever stopped and really become totally aware of that person staring back at you? Are you ever completely conscious that is YOU staring back?

If you’ve never done that or it has been a while, I want to encourage you to do it today. Take a few moments and really look at the person staring back at you in the mirror. It may seem a little uncomfortable at first, but stay with it until you really connect.

What potential does that person possess? What is he or she doing well? Where are the areas of potential improvement? Who are you? Where have you been? Where are you going?

When you look deeply you see that you have so many gifts, talents, and blessings. When you look deeper still you see that the form in front of you is just the shell of something far greater.

You see, we humans have this tendency to get caught up in the physical and the tangible. Those parts of us are the proverbial tip of the iceberg in comparison to the nonphysical and intangible parts of us.

When you have your mirror moment look deeply and with compassion. The person you find staring back is full of more potential, more possibility than you could ever have imagined.

Once you get past the shell and see the soul all things become possible.

Stay inspired!

Ray

Dhammapada Twin Verses – The Affirmation Spot for Friday July 11, 2008

The world we live in is full of promise, threat, and opportunity. As you look beneath the surface, you begin to understand that none of us is safe unless all of us are safe. None of us is free until each of us is free.

The challenges we face are of our own making and the solutions are within us. As Albert Einstein once said, “The world’s problems will not be solved by the level of thinking that created them.”

This is true on both the micro and macro levels. We need new thinking, better thinking. We need to empower ourselves and move in the direction of a bottom up world promoting individuality and decentralization. Top down and centralization approaches are not working. Violence is not working. Hatred is not working. Division is not working.

Interestingly, one of the most masterful expressions of this point of view is over 2500 years old.

The Buddhist Dhammapada is a book of collected sayings attributed to Buddha. The first chapter usually called Twin Verses says, in part, the following.

  1. We are the result of our thoughts. Our present thoughts create our future life. Our life is created by our mind. If a person speaks or acts with a mind grounded in fear suffering will follow him as surely as summer follows spring.
  2. We are the result of our thoughts. Our present thoughts create our future life. Our life is created by our mind. If a person speaks or acts with a mind grounded in love happiness will follow him as surely as his shadow never leaves him.
  3. ‘He offended me, he hurt me, he owes me, he took what was mine.’ Those who dwell on such thoughts will never be free from hate or find peace within.
  4. ‘He offended me, he hurt me, he owes me, he took what was mine.’ Those who dwell not on such thoughts shall be free from hate and find peace within.
  5. For hate only feeds on itself; but love overcomes hate. This is an Eternal Law.
  6. Few know that our purpose in this world is to live in harmony. Those who become aware of this cease their quarrels immediately.

We need a fresh reality. It begins with our thoughts. We need to think about what our thoughts create when they ripple out into the larger pond that is our world. To do otherwise, leaves us more susceptible to the threatening aspects of our world and less able to access the promise and the opportunity.

The good news is we get to choose.

Stay inspired!

Ray

Random Thoughts #5 – The Affirmation Spot for Monday July 7, 2008

 

Happiness and freedom are never attained by running away from something. They are possible only when you run whole-heartedly towards your dreams. They are not a change in place, but rather a change in heart.

Today you know you can find happiness and freedom. There is no secret. You already have the answers. Look to your heart, listen closely to its words and wisdom, and then run straight towards what it is telling you.

 

Stay Inspired!

Ray

World Gets Happier; US Boomers Gloomy – The Affirmation Spot for Wednesday July 2, 2008

A new report to be published in the July issue of Perspectives in Psychological Science and reported on LiveScience.com shows that the world is becoming a happier place.  The study measured happiness over a 17-year period in 52 countries around the world.

350,000 participants answered two questions:

  1. “Taking all things together, would you say you are very happy, rather happy, not very happy, not at all happy?” 
  2. “All things considered, how satisfied are you with your life as a whole these days?”

Scores rose in 40 countries and fell in 12 during a period spanning from 1981 to 2007. Denmark ranked as the happiest country with Zimbabwe bringing up the rear. The United States ranked 16th in the survey.

A recent Pew Research survey showed that American baby boomers  (ages 44-62) were markedly less happy than other Americans. The report cites pressures in their current lives and worries about retirement as the primary concerns. 

So is there a process to improve your outlook and find more happiness?

 

Your Thought Filter is the Key to Happiness

The following diagram shows how life’s raw materials (inputs) become our experience of life. Your thoughts are the critical crossroads where the life you experience is determined. Your thoughts are the filter for your experiences.

 

 

 

  • Inputs – we all receive inputs every day. Inputs are the raw material we have to work with in our lives. They are not necessarily good or bad. We receive information, we are exposed to events, we live in circumstances. We can take some steps to control the inputs or make them more positive. However, we are going to have inputs and some of them are beyond our control.
  • Thoughts –  your thoughts are the critical crossroad where the life your experience is determined. Your thoughts filter your experiences converting them into positive or negative feelings and words. You have three choices on how to filter information at the thought level:
    • Monitor and adjust your thoughts about the inputs (empowered/mindful approach).
    • Choose auto-pilot approach where you allow inputs to pass through and become feelings, words, actions, and your life without much thought (mindless approach).
    • Look to others for answers approach is the method where you rely on others to explain your inputs and give meaning to them (disempowered approach).
  • Feelings/Words – feelings and words are the outputs of the thought filter. They create the energy that turns into action or even inaction your life. Your feelings and your words are driven by the thinking that is filtering your inputs. When you have created a positive grounding for them they generate positive, motivated action that creates success and fulfillment in life. When you have created a negative grounding with your thought filter you generate motivation for inaction, negative action, or destructive behavior.
  • Actions – actions/inactions create results in the world. Actions are movement. They can be positive or negative and they create results in the world. The results that you receive from your actions/inactions create the life you experience. However, these actions were largely decided at the thought stage of the process.
  • Experience of Life – life experience is the habit of the results created through this process. Over time, it solifies into belief and expectations about what is possible or impossible for you. Success, as they say, breeds success. That’s because success came from successful thoughts, feelings, words, and actions. Failure breeds failure. People are failures because they are incapable or unskilled, but because they have not mastered or understood this process.

The Boomers who are unhappy in this survey are letting the inputs (many objectively negative) create their life experiences. They are not empowering themselves using their thought filter.

What does all this mean? It means that if you can monitor and adjust your thinking about the world and keep it focused on a positive way forward you can create the life you want. Not a perfect life, but an improved life.

There are many techniques for monitoring and adjustmenting your thinking – focused prayer and meditation, quiet thinking, affirmations, and others. Use whatever tools that work for you, but changing your thoughts changes your life.

Stay inspired!

Ray

Time for Humanity to Remove Our “Training Wheels”

Our society needs to be about developing better people not better laws. As long as we ignore the former, the latter will not matter.

Laws and the governments that write them are training wheels for the development of people. When you were learning how to ride a bike you needed the training wheels to keep you steady. The expectation was not that you would continue to need the training wheels forever.

The best preserved of ancient law codes is the Code of Hammurabi created around 1760 B.C. Since then we have had the 10 Commandments, the Buddhist Noble Eightfold Path, the Magna Carta, the United States Constitution, and many other secular and religious attempts to help humans behave properly.

Even in this brief catalog of these attempts, we cover every major culture on the earth and a span of nearly 4000 years.

The fact is that we can try to reform from the outside for another 4000 years and I predict we would find humanity in the same boat. Reform must come from within. We must look at ourselves and the world with new eyes. We must commit to wanting something different, something more for ourselves, for our children, and even for others.

That’s a difficult, very adult journey and there are powerful arguments against it.

Some say that human beings simply are not capable of that kind of reform; that we are victims of a design flaw that forever condemns us to our current status. It’s our nature, they claim, and it cannot change.

Others say that these are fine academic concepts, but they do not address safety and security issues. They point out that there are dangerous people in the world and we must be protected. We must have government and laws, they argue, to protect us from criminals, terrorists, and bad people.

There is some validity to both of these arguments. The problem is we are not addressing the root causes and so we are condemning ourselves to a repeating and self-reinforcing cycle.

Do the laws protect us? Have they ever? 4000 years….have all the laws and government that have evolved solved the root problem? Since Hammurabi first enshrined his code government has been one of the great growth industries on this planet. We’ve had monarchs and despots, democratically elected governments and collective governments.

These secular systems have attempted to establish government as the arbiter between misbehaving and unreformed people. They are band-aids – an attempt to create some justice and peace in an imperfect situation.

The one thing they all share in common is that they have failed to create a happy, peaceful world full of empowered people pursuing their hearts’ content. Instead, governments have been the organizing forces behind wars over resources, religious beliefs, and for sheer domination and control. They have used their power to increase dependence upon their existence.

At least the spiritual attempts have recognized that reforming the person is the central issue in the equation. Both the 10 Commandments and the Noble Eightfold Path focus on prohibiting or encouraging types of behavior that are destructive to the person and the society.

Yet, they are still external attempts to enforce what must be an internal process. WE THE PEOPLE must choose to think and act in new ways. We must recognize that all change in the world and in our lives begins within us. No government or religious institution can substitute for our own desire to have a different world.

Am I advocating the overthrow of government and religion? No. They both still serve useful purposes at our current state of readiness for self-realization. Religion and government will never be completely obsolete, but their role will change and their control will be lessened.

Their top-down, centralized control approach is a relic of a previous era and must be replaced by a decentralized, democratic approach to life on Earth.

While many individuals are starting to realize what is possible, the overwhelming majority still live unaware of what lies within them.

I believe we are at a state where we can begin the transition away from the Age of the Institution and towards the Age of the Person. As more people begin to flower into their potential, this process will accelerate until we find our world in a place we never expected.

This change begins in you. No one else can do it for you. No one else can know the things you need to open in your heart and your mind to convert these potentialities into realities.

The world is changing and now we must change! Off with the training wheels! It’s time to see who we truly are.

Stay inspired!

Ray

Ray Davis is the Founder of The Affirmation Spot and focuses on empowering minds to think positively, achieve goals, and live dreams.

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Positive Thinking is A Learned Skill

In the training world, there is constant discussion about what constitutes a learnable, trainable skill and what falls into the realm of motivation or determination. For instance, I can train a sales manager with the knowledge and the skills that can make he or she  better at coaching sales representatives. However, I cannot train a sales manager to be motivated to use those skills.

Lately, I’ve given a good deal of thought into whether positive thinking is a learnable, trainable skill or whether it relies completely on the motivation of the individual. It’s fair to call any ability that can be enhanced with practice or additonal knowledge a learnable skill.

By this definition, positive thinking meets the criteria. There are teachable techniques that can help people see the world or themselves in a more positive light.  A couple that I have employed successfully over the years are thought stopping and tick-marking.

Thought stopping involves mentally or verbally saying, “stop” when a negative or unwanted thought comes to mind. Sometimes the process requires you to say, “stop” mutlitple times to discontinue the negative thinking. This process is most effective when you can replace the negative thought or visualization with one that is positive or healthy. This technique is effective for people battling depression, obsessive thoughts, or addiction. However, anyone can use it in their daily lives. The fact that you are not dealing with a serious mental condition makes it that much more effective.

Tick-marking is another way to stop negative thoughts and embark on a positive thinking program. When we are afflicted with negative thinking we often don’t realize how many times during the day we are thinking negative thoughts to ourselves (negative self-talk). For some, there is a constant stream of negative thoughts, self judgements, and critiques of everyone and everything around them. Because we are what we think about all day long, unchecked these thoughts spill out into their lives – their view of the world, their self-esteem, and their interactions with others.

Tick-marking is a technique where you have a little note pad with you all day long. Everytime you think a negative thought you make a tick mark on the note pad. Some people find it effective to categorize the negative thoughts. This is an awareness tool. Once they become aware of how many negative thoughts go through their minds in a day, many people become motivated to do something about it. Until there is awareness there cannot be action.

So, I come down on the side of those who believe positive thinking is a learned skill. That said, it is very much a commitment too. Developing a positive outlook on life has many of the same characteristics as a diet or an exercise program.

  • Motivated to change – until you see negative or demotivated thinking as a problem in your life, you are not going to commit to change. You must commit yourself to chaning the way you think and react to things.
  • Stay on the program – if you begin an exercise program, you will reap the benefits of it only as long as you continue exercising. If you stop, your muscles will atrophy and your fitness level will drop to previous levels. Replacing negative thinking with a positive outlook works in much the same way. It requires an ongoing commitment and you will see the benefits only for as long as you work at it. If you don’t provide constant positive fuel and apply techniques that work for you, the negative thoughts can return. Face it, we live in society where there is a lot of negativity and fear perpetuated for a number of reasons. If you don’t take charge of your own thinking, it is easy to fall into the societal malaise.
  • Keep the end in mind – when someone goes on a diet they are going to be successful as long as they continue to visualize their life at the goal weight. What happens along the way, often, is the demons of the present take control and steer the person off course. The dieter falls back into old habits and the diet fails. A positive thinking program has the same pitfall. Especially when you are using positive thinking to improve a certain area of your life, it is critical to keep the end result in mind. Your old negative thought patterns are going to rise up and try to get you off course. In fact, the closer you get to your goal, the more intense they may become. The only way through this gauntlet is to keep moving step by step in your new, positive direction.
  • Believe – you have to believe that change is possible. You have to believe that by using affirmations or other positive thinking approaches you can change your life and your mind. Without the belief, the commitment to reach your goal is not going to be there.
  • Accept incremental success – change of any kind in life is a process not an event. Know that you are going to have negative thoughts and doubts. Know that a certain amount of it is just incurable human nature. Commit yourself to keep moving forward and replace those negative thoughts with something positive.
  • Claim your victory – reward your successes along the way and the big win that is your destination. Through hard work and a commitment to see the you and the world that are possible, you can change your outlook from negative to positive.

Once you know how all that is left is to do it!

Follow your bliss. Experience your bliss. Become your bliss.

Ray Davis is the founder of The Affirmation Spot. He’s spent more than 25 years studying personal development and especially writing, recording, and using affirmations to achieve his goals. His eBook – The Power to Be You – offers 416 life-changing and original quotes, ideas, and affirmations to take you to new levels of achievement and reflection.

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