Stop and Smell the Flowers – Day 57 of 365 Days to a Better You

Stop and smell the flowers.

Sometimes the trite is trite because it’s true. Stop and smell the flowers is one of many aphorisms that remind us that we need to slow down, take a breath, and enjoy the ride.

I’m not sure how valid the notion of a Type-A personality is in the 21st century. We’ve become a culture of Type-A personalities. We’re always in a rush, always pushing, pushing, pushing.

According to a 2014 study by the American Institute of Stress, 77 percent of Americans experience regular physical effects from being too stressed and 73 percent experience regular psychological effects of stress. According to a 2017 American Psychological Association survey, the following were our top stressors are:

  1. The future of our nation 63 percent.
  2. Money 62 percent.
  3. Work 61 percent.
  4. Current political climate 57 percent.
  5. Violence and crime 51 percent.

What can you do to eliminate or reduce stress? There are a few obvious things.

  1. If possible, remove yourself or limit exposure to your sources of the stress.
  2. Use affirmations to keep your mindset strong.
  3. Exercise, eat well, and sleep well to keep your body strong enough to handle stress.
  4. Get quiet – pray, meditate, or just be.
  5. Get out into nature. Nature is the natural antidote to the stresses of the modern world.

Power hack: I’m betting none of those recommendations for dealing with stress surprised you. Here’s the thing. You have to do them for them to work. The intention to strengthen your mindset, get out into nature more, or mediate does not help you. You have to do it. That takes intention and discipline.

I can’t leave you today without giving you a chance to just be. So, set whatever else you’re doing aside and take a three-minute relaxation vacation with me to Havasupai Waterfall in India. Watch it or close your eyes and listen. Get got up

Few words today. I found this beautiful video on YouTube. Just sit back, relax, and take a three-minute vacation. This is the Havasupai waterfall in India. Absolutely beautiful. Relax and be at peace as you move through your day today. Let the sights and sounds of the waterfall and the peaceful music wash your stress away.

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Your Achilles Heal – Day 56 of 365 Days to a Better You

Achilles was a Greek hero. When he was a baby, his mother was warned that he would die young. To protect him, she dipped him in the River Styx because it was said to provide strength and invulnerability. However, she held him by his heel, leaving him unprotected there.

As an adult, he became a great warrior. Despite his strength and power, the prophecy was fulfilled when he was struck in the vulnerable heel with a poison arrow.

In our time, we know this story through the phrase Achilles heel, which refers to a weak spot or vulnerability.

All of us have one. There’s some physical condition or circumstance in your life, that despite your best efforts, you can’t defeat it. All the prayer, affirmations, counseling, and meditation hasn’t changed it. What do you do?

I have two such circumstances in my life. One is an auto-immune disease called Addison’s Disease. It’s one of those 1 in a 100,000 diseases. JFK had it too, but it’s very rare. Even treating it, I often find myself short on energy or needing a nap in the middle of the day, particularly as I get older. I live with this every day. I’m fortunate that my condition is not as severe as some with the disease. Still, it takes a toll and gives me a mountain to climb each day.

My second Achilles Heel is a profound difficulty in swallowing many foods. This began when I was 15. I nearly choked to death and became very afraid of eating many foods. This led to massive and regular panic attacks throughout my teens and 20s. I had no life, no confidence. I was going nowhere fast.

Imagine having a fear like this that you have to face three times a day every day. Not only that, it’s a fear that the people around you don’t understand because eating is a source of joy and togetherness for them. It really isolated me from the experiences of other people.

These two issues came together when I was 25. I became extremely ill and weak. I was not able to eat or drink. I could not walk across a room. When I would receive change back at a store, I had to count it several times to make sure none of the coins had become lodged in my throat. That’s how bad it was.

I wound up spending two stints in the hospital totaling about three months. This is when the phobia and the Addison’s crossed paths. I was diagnosed with Addison’s and had to face my fear of eating. Early in my stay, I couldn’t even swallow a sip of apple juice.

Everything about my life changed during that time. I often say that my life started over. I emerged from that situation as a seeker of the meaning of life. That was a passion of mine at an early age, but the years of phobia had stolen it from me.

Today, I still struggle with this phobia, as do hundreds of thousands of others. A trip to a restaurant is always a balance of enjoyment and terror. I have managed to mitigate it and make peace with it over the years. The panic attacks are fewer and farther between than they used to be, and not as severe or long-lasting. I’ve learned techniques to get them under control or even hide them from others.

I’m proud of how far I’ve come. 30 years ago it looked like this would dominate my life. I thought I’d never have a career or a family. After years of hard struggle, I decided I didn’t want my life to be a constant battle over this issue. Defeating it might have been possible. It also might have consumed my life.

I didn’t want that and so I made peace with it. I learned to mitigate it and live with it. Even people close to me don’t always understand it. It’s just so foreign to their experience. I have learned to understand that and mitigate this discomfort in others. I often will fix my own food. I can do restaurants (some with this condition literally cannot), but it’s never easy.

There, I’ve laid myself bare. I have shared this issue with people close to me, but I’ve never written about it publicly. The affirmations, meditation, and prayer became tools of mitigation and co-existence.

I’ve accomplished and overcome much in my life. It’s not that I don’t know how to beat a challenge. However, some things are just our Achilles Heel in this life. The best we can do with it is to refuse to allow it to stop us from living our lives. That’s been my victory over this.

What’s your Achilles Heel? Have you defeated it, mitigated it, or are you still in battle with it? I’d love to hear your experiences below.

Power hack: Today’s power hack is that victory over your deepest challenges does not mean you have to completely banish them. That would be nice and I hope you will. Don’t beat yourself up if some things are just meant to be your challenges. You can still grow from them and most of all, while they cause you angst, you don’t have to let them bring your life to a halt. Find ways to live your life despite them.

Most of all, your Achilles Heel does not define you. You are a one-in-a-trillion miracle. Don’t let your challenges steal your light. Shine on!

Ray

Be the Architect of Your Life – Day 55 of 365 Days to a Better You

Today’s Affirmation:

I am the architect of my life and my dreams!

R. Buckminster Fuller, or “Bucky Fuller” as he was known to his friends, was an inventor, thinker, and futurist. He was one of those rare visionaries who was able to see clearly beyond “what is” to “what can be”.

One of my favorite of his many wonderful quotes is, “We are called to be architects of the future, not its victims.”

It’s easy to see the wisdom in a quote like that and equally probable that we gloss over it without realizing the significance of it.

We ARE architects of the future. You can easily substitute life, career, relationships, experiences, or potential in place of future. For we are, the architects of it all. We are constantly creating each of these spheres of our existence.

The second part of the quote – “not its victims – is also powerful. We sometimes go through our lives acting as though we are passengers on a bus that we have no control over. We develop a mindset that tells us that circumstances and experiences “just happen” to us randomly. Few things could be further from the truth.

The fact is – whether we are attentive or inattentive to it – we are driving the bus. It’s what we came here to do.

Carl Jung had a wonderful quote about this way of looking at events. He said, “When an inner situation is not made conscious it appears outside as fate.”

The fact that you often create unconsciously rather than consciously does not negate your role as the architect, producer, director – pick your term – of your life. The goal is to bring more and more of that creation into the conscious sphere so that you can drive your life in the directions that make sense for you.

So, here is today’s task. Think of three opportunities or situations that you want to manifest or more fully manifest in your life. Write them down and place them in strategic places around your life where they will constantly be in front of you. For each situation, list the steps that will help you create that situation in your life. Finally, work consciously this week on ways to bring those circumstances about in your life.

Remember you ARE the architect in your life and you certainly are not its victim. Taking ownership will take you far.

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

Ray

7 Tips for Making Hard Decisions – Day 54 of 365 Days to a Better You

Making hard decisions.

No one escapes this life without having to make hard decisions. They can come in many forms. They may be career decisions, money decisions, health decisions, or life and death decisions. They may be game-changing or just day-changing.

I’m posting this one today because we are facing a very hard decision. Our beloved almost 15-year-old lab Mia is really struggling. We’ve known for a while now that the day was coming, if nature didn’t take its course, that we would have to make a gut-wrenching decision. We don’t know, even as I write this, whether we’re there yet, but we may know in the next few days. She’s an amazing dog and I have to say she’s had an amazing life. That won’t make the decision any easier.

Making decisions like this can pull at the very core of our being and put all we think we’ve learned to the test. Do you take the job in California or stay close to family in the midwest? Do you marry this person or that person? Our lives are a constant procession of decisions that create our lives.

Here are a few tips I’ve learned in making hard decisions in the past.

  1. There is no right answer. Life is not a paint-by-numbers affair. We can make any choice we like as long as we’re willing to deal with the consequences.
  2. Be bold. The world (or your life) was never changed by playing it safe.
  3. Consider ALL the options. We may believe we know right off the bat what we should do in a situation. Give all the options a fair hearing.
  4. Trust your gut. This may sound like the opposite of the last bullet point. It’s not. Once you’ve considered all the options, trust your gut. Your decisions are a reflection of who you are, who you’re becoming, and who you’ll eventually be.
  5. There are no mistakes. There’s not a “wrong” decision. There’s only decisions that will lead to different experiences.
  6. No regrets. Once you choose, you’ve chosen. That decision may yield great things or challenge, but own that you made the decision and that it’s all about the journey.
  7. You can make different choices. When a decision that once was right no longer is, you have complete freedom to make a different decision.

Our lives are built on choices and our results come from the decisions we make.

None of this makes it easy. If we have to make a hard decision with Mia, it will be one of the hardest days of my life and there will be a hole there that will never be filled. However, we cannot avoid such decisions. They are a part of the human condition and we are, after all, human.

Have a GREAT day!

mia_2017

The Power of Thank You – Day 53 of 365 Days to a Better You

You can’t say thank you too much.

There are two extremely powerful words that serve as a ready source of recognition in any situation and remind you how blessed you really are in this life. Those two words are “Thank you”.

Do you say it enough? Do you take a moment to ensure that it’s sincere when you do say it?

I have a friend who does this constantly. He often makes a phone call or sends an e-mail for no other purpose than to say, “Thank you.” It’s never hurried and he’s always very present in the moment when he says it or writes it. That complete sense of sincerity comes across every time. When you are on the receiving end of it, you feel pretty darn good.

There are many things that other people do for you all day long that offer you an opportunity to say a sincere, “Thank you.” Who knows, those two words might really make a person’s day.

  • If you’re a manager, a simple, sincere thank you might be all the recognition you are able to give. Give it. The surprising thing is that a thank you is enough for many employees.
  • When you go through the check out line at the grocery store today, try looking the cashier squarely in the eye, smile, and say, “Thank you.” I’d be willing to bet you will be in a distinct minority and he or she will appreciate it and smile back.
  • The late Wayne Dyer used to rise each morning and just say a general thank you, thank you, thank you to the universe for another day to be alive.
  • Remember to use those two words regularly with your significant other and I guarantee it will bring you closer.
  • Use them as a differentiator in business. Many in the business world forget to say it these days.

The amazing thing about spreading these two little words all day long is that you receive a gift in return. By remembering to say, “Thank you,” you remind yourself how many things, large and small, you truly have to be thankful for.

Give it a try today. Set the goal of saying, “Thank you,” five, ten, or fifteen times depending on how many interactions you have with other people.

You’ll feel better and so will the other person.

Thank you to each of you for taking a moment out of your day to read this blog. The website continues to grow thanks to all of you! If you enjoy the blog and the affirmations, tell a friend about us!

Ray

Guys, I’m trying to build my YouTube channel in 2019. I’d sure appreciate it if you’d consider subscribing.

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Laughter is the Best Medicine – Day 52 of 365 Days to a Better You

Laugh more. It’s good for you!

Thought of the Day
At the height of laughter, the universe is flung into a kaleidoscope of new possibilities.

~ Jean Houston

Laugh, damn it, laugh! You’ve heard the saying that laughter is the best medicine. Think about it. When do you feel better than when you laugh?

Laughter is one of the few human experiences that can – at least for the moment – make us forget and transcend any problem. In the moment of laughter, sadness, depression, stress, and worry are reduced to zero. It stands to reason that the more we laugh the less we experience these negative feelings and emotions and, as we have talked about on this blog, positive vibrations are the basis for successful, happy action in the world.

Scientific research shows that laughter has an array of health benefits from stress reduction to a reduced risk of heart attack.

Laughter is a readily accessible transformational experience.  It requires no practice or years of training. It’s available any moment and anywhere you choose. By finding the funny side of life, you not only raise your vibration, you raise the world’s because laughter is contagious. By spreading it, you’re spreading health and well-being to the people around you.

You might remember this viral video from about 10 years ago. It still makes me laugh and that’s good for me, good for you, and good for us.

Ray

My friends, I’m really trying to grow my YouTube channel in 2019. I’d be so appreciative, if you’d give it a look, and if you like what you see, please subscribe. Thank you so much for your support!

Multitasking Ain’t Your Thing – Day 51 of 365 Days to a Better You

Do one thing at a time.

We live in a world that extolls multitasking as a virtue. “Yes,” you tell your boss, “I can handle five projects at once. No problem.”

The bottom line is we don’t multitask well. You doubt it? Here’s a cool little test from Psychology Today. It’s a practical test that demonstrates how multitasking actually slows you down and increases errors.

How many times a day do you say or hear someone else say, “I have SO much to do.” We live in a world of constant doing and we must be productive, productive, productive (yes, I’m clapping as I say productive) all day every day or we feel somehow defective.

The reasons multitasking is ineffective, despite its cultural popularity, are readily apparent. Consider this. Let’s say you have taken a job to dig ten holes that are each ten inches deep. Imagine watching yourself from above as you move from hole to hole, digging one shovel-full and then moving to the next hole.

You spend more time going between holes than you do digging because you can’t literally dig ten holes at once. The same is true when you multitask. You may think you’re doing two things at once, but in reality your brain is quickly moving back and forth from one task to the other. Neither task gets your full attention or your deeper insight. All tasks suffer.

Here’s a nice video that details this problem.

So, you see multitasking doesn’t save time, impairs quality, and, frankly, takes the joy out of doing each task. You wind up with an unfulfilling, fragmented day and life.

The next time your boss asks, “Can you handle five projects?”

Politely reply, “I can do five projects simultaneously and they’ll be mediocre or I can do one at a time excellently.”

Power hack: Do one task at a time. Give it your all and then move onto the next task. Three simultaneous tasks against one you isn’t a fair fight. Let’s stop pretending that it is.

Ray\

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