Getting Past Fear to Action – Day 285 of 365 Days to a Better You

There’s an old German proverb that says, “Fear makes the wolf bigger than he is.”

You want to build your side business, change jobs, or go back and get that degree, but something is stopping you. Sure, time, money, the ease of staying put are often the easy culprits. Are they really the reasons you haven’t taken action or is there a conscious or unconscious fear anchoring you in place?

Change is a wolf and our fears about it do make it look bigger than it is. Are you feeling a little fear about the change? It doesn’t mean you’re coward or weak, it just means your human and you’ve allowed the wolf of fear to swallow your dream.

Want to know a secret? Most of the time, that wolf is a shadow puppet on the walls of your mind. It’s only as big as you make it.

Powerhack: Here are some things you can do turn stagnant fear into action when you’re stuck.

  1. Just jump – do you remember, as a kid, the first time you jumped off a diving board? You had that same lump in your throat you have about this. You stared at the water, you counted, and you heard your self-talk talking you out of it. Finally, one of your friends yelled, “Just jump!” That was the solution. You shut down your mind and just acted. Before you knew it, you were hitting the refreshing water and rising back to the surface in joy. That worked out and so will this.
  2. Dream bigger – yeah, this one gets a bad rap because everyone says it, but it’s applicable here. Maybe you don’t have a dream big enough to overcome your fear of acting. Have you ever REALLY wanted something? I mean REALLY? You let nothing stand in your way. If this dream doesn’t have you that passionate, dream a bigger dream.
  3. Find examples – maybe you’re thinking, “Someone my age can’t do that” or “Someone in my situation can’t do that.” Wrong! I simply guarantee you’re wrong. There is someone out there who overcame none than you to get what you want. Find them and let their story inspire you.
  4. Past is prologue– you’ve done this before. At some point in your life, you faced a challenge, thought you couldn’t, but did anyway. Remember those examples and be inspired that you’ve done it before and you can do it again.

See, that wolf isn’t as big as he seems. In the face of your determination, he turns into a lovable pup.

Just in case no one else had reminded you today, you’re AWESOME!

Ray

10 Reasons for Optimism Today – Day 207 of 365 Days to a Better You

Good Tuesday, my friends. When you think about it, there’s always reasons close by for optimism.

  1. You woke up this morning. You can’t start better than that.
  2. You have freedom of choice. Your life is built of your choices. You are free to change yours, if you want a change in your life.
  3. People facing your exact challenges or worse have succeeded and thrived anyway.
  4. You’re a day wiser than you were yesterday.
  5. When you really stop and look, there are tiny miracles going on everywhere around you. Make it a point to notice.
  6. There is inspiration for the life you want everywhere. Drink it in.
  7. Love. Despite all the ugliness in the world, love still wins.
  8. You’re you and that’s damn sure more than enough.
  9. Forgiving and receiving forgiveness are still options.
  10. You have a big dream. You have all you need within you to achieve it. You have help from the universe coming from all directions.

Don’t allow the negatives and naysayers to steal your optimism. Don’t allow setbacks to steal your dreams. Don’t allow the end of one dream to be the end of dreaming. You’re made for BIG things. Keep your focus on the good and the good will multiply.

You’re one in a trillion. I’m glad to know you!

Ray

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How to Write Affirmations That Change Your Life – Day 203 of 365 Days to a Better You

Thought for the Day:

Affirmations without action are just glorified wishful thinking. Affirmations are “mental armor” supporting empowered action, not a substitute for it.

Over the past several years, I’ve written many articles about affirmations -how affirmations work, types of affirmations, ways to use affirmations, etc., etc., etc. Some of those articles are linked to in this article.

However, I’ve never just written an article on how to write an effective affirmation. Today I had a request from a follower on Twitter to provide a “how to” and decided it was a good time to write that article. Let me begin by saying that there are many gurus out there with many ideas on how to correctly write affirmations. There are also some dogmas around the process. I’m not big on dogmas of any kind. So some of this might be unorthodox. Feel free to use what resonates for you.

Before we begin, let me make a few quick points. Affirmations are a tool to reshape and refocus your thoughts. By themselves, they don’t “make” anything happen. However, as you replace negative thoughts with negative vibrations with positive thoughts and positive vibrations, you do begin to attract better things into your life. Affirmations without action are just wishful thinking. The idea is that as you raise the vibration of your thoughts, you become more inspired to take action to manifest those thoughts as reality in the world. See the thought of the day at the top of the article.


I recommend reading my two part series on
Affirmations: Repetition and Belief along with using this list to create your affirmations. Following is  7-step process for creating your own affirmations. This is my way. It has worked for me over the past 20 years. Others might have another way that works for them.

  1. Start with a goal – you must have a goal in mind. The clearer the goal, the better the affirmation and the better chance for success. A cloudy goal leads to an unclear affirmation, and poor results.
  2. Affirm what you can believe – affirmations are not a tool for persuading you to believe something you don’t believe. They are a tool to help you create and multiply thoughts that support the action necessary to achieve the things you believe you can achieve. However, you can use what I call “aspirational affirmations” to help manifest a distant goal. You just need to be able to believe you can achieve that goal one day. (Read more Incremental Affirmations and Unrealistic Affirmations)
  3. Use clear language – the language of your affirmation should be clear and powerful for you. It’s OK to use phrases and terms that are very personal to you as long as the language resonates and feels empowering when you say it. Be as specific as possible.
  4. Present Tense – in most cases, it is more effective to use the present tense when writing, speaking, or listening to affirmations. In other words, state your affirmation as “I am…” rather than “I will..” or “I should”. The lone exception would be those discussed in the Incremental Affirmations article.
  5. First, second, and third person – most affirmation gurus will tell you to always put your affirmations in the first person, such as I am a magnificent dancer, rather than the second person you are a magnificent dancer. I agree that first person is the best if you are only going to choose one. Why stop with first person, though? An affirmation can be very powerful in the second person and using your name. I recommend using all three. I am a great writer. You are a great writer. Ray is a great writer. This holographic language creates a more powerful and holistic affirmation. (Read more Adding the Power of You to Your Affirmations)
  6. Use them, use them, use them – once you have written an empowering affirmation, use it. Like so many other motivational tools, affirmations are created and then cast aside after a day or two. Read them aloud, read them into the mirror, post them places where you can see them throughout your day, record them and listen to them passively (Listening Passively to Affirmations) or actively over and over until they infuse your mind. The goal for an affirmation is to have it replace the negative or disempowering thoughts and become thoroughly embedded in your thought process so that it becomes the automatic response  (How Do You Know Your Affirmations are Working?) to your negative thoughts.
  7. Take action – affirmations without action is just wishful thinking. You must think and then act, if you are to achieve.

Follow your bliss! Experience your bliss! Become your bliss!

Ray

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RE: How to Harness the Positive Power of Negative Thinking

Today’s Thought:

The optimist sees the half-full glass as ready to overflow. The pessimist waits for the water to evaporate and claims victory.

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CI came across an article titled “How to Harness the Positive Power of Negative Thinking” by Oliver Burkeman on UC Berkley’s Greater Good: The Science of a Meaningful Life website. This is a well-conceived article promoting a book by the author that takes positive thinking to task. Burkeman’s book is apparently aimed at showing us how positive thinking is overrated and negative thinking is beneficial.

I left a comment about the article on the site, but I wanted to expand a bit on my response there. I encourage you to read the article before reading my response.

Response:

It is important to keep all things in balance – positive thinking included. Clearly the overzealous goal-setting and perfectionism, described by Burkeman, are a danger in our positive thinking. We can stress ourselves out in the constant pursuit for more, more, more. When we don’t get the desired results, we can feel disappointment and more negativity for a time. And certainly, there are people who cheat and cut corners to reach their goals. None of these, however, are indictments of positive thinking. They represent positive thinking misapplied.

Clearly, some of this go, go, go win, win, win mentality has been driven by some of the giants in personal development. Burkeman touts ancient Stoic and Buddhist philosophies as an answer. He points out that these schools of thought sought a less strenuous way to be happy without the constant pursuit of something. I agree.

However, Buddhism and Stoicism are both self-denying, and to some extent, world-denying philosophies. They were not designed to create achievement of goals in the world. Where I believe philosophies like that can contribute is in keeping us balanced and sane and as we make the necessary push required to “make things happen” in our world. If your goal is simple serenity, then by all means choose Buddhism or Stoicism. If you have goals and things you want to achieve in the world, these philosophies, while comforting you, are not the ticket.

When I read articles like this one, it reminds me why I work to move my own thinking in positive directions. For negativity is the human default setting and much easier to maintain than positivity. There is also this strain of thinking here that sees negative thinking as somehow more realistic than positive thinking. This line of reasoning goes that we live in a harsh world where disappointment is commonplace and we can protect ourselves by expecting little. The message is “play it safe”. Don’t risk your happiness, when it might end in disappointment.

For the dreamer, though, this will not do. He or she sees a bigger pie and possibility everywhere. He or she knows that avoiding defeat is not the same as victory.

When you risk, you do chance setback and disappointment. We live in a Universe where risk is the cost of reward. The dreamer accepts this as part of the game.

You don’t have to be stressed or narcissistic in the pursuit of those goals. You don’t have to harm others or think only of yourself. You see, real positive thinking wants not only the best for you, but the best for those around you and the best for the world. When it is selfish, it is misapplied. When it makes you tight and stressed about achieving a certain goal by a certain date, it is misapplied.

The real issue here boils down to this, assuming you don’t plan to retreat to a mountaintop and meditate yourself to Nirvana (a worthy goal in and of itself). You are going to need to act in the world to achieve your goals. When that action is driven by fear and negativity, success is rare. When it is driven by a positive outlook and the belief that something more, even though risky, is possible – success comes more often.

We can spend our lives steeling ourselves against disappointment and defining that aversion to setback as happiness. Or, we can spend our lives working to achieve our dreams and expanding our horizons about what happy means.

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

Ray

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Cancer and Positive Thinking – The Affirmation Spot for Thursday July 15, 2010

Few words – well let’s be honest – no other single word strikes as much fear into someone as cancer. I have been hesitant to tackle this topic on the blog because of its sensitive nature.

The noted author and activist Barbara Ehrenreich wrote a book last year titled Bright-Sided: How Positive Thinking is Undermining America. In the book, Ehrenreich chronicles her own cancer experience and “be happy cancer is a blessing” message she encountered everywhere during her illness and recovery. She goes on to draw the broader conclusion that positive thinking is pandemic and delusional in our society. In various interviews, she has decried the added “burden” that being forced to think positively in the face of disease puts on the sick person.

“The Father of Motivation” Dr. Wayne W. Dyer was diagnosed with leukemia last year. He has taken a little different approach. He sees it as an opportunity to teach others – something he has spent a lifetime doing.

Watch Dyer Video from ABC News

Watch Dyer Video 2 from ABC News

Two very contrasting points of view from two very astute human beings. But cancer is not about philosophy. Cancer is personal. It is personal to the patients, the families, the friends.

A few years ago my wife lost a very dear friend to cancer at 49. She went through the radiation and the chemo and all the other treatments the doctors offered. After a hard battle, she lost the fight.

About two months ago I learned that my best friend growing up – really my other brother – had been diagnosed with cancer at 44. For the first 20+ years of our lives we were practically inseparable. After college, he moved to the east coast to take job, met the girl of his dreams, and started a family. We have seen each other and spoken only sporadically in the past 20 years, but time and distance cannot break the bond of brothers.

His battle has been up and down. Even from afar I can feel his courage and it is amazing. He is working with some of the best doctors anywhere, but they have not been able to agree on his diagnosis. He has progressed from radiation and surgery and now is headed for his first round of chemo.

I find myself daily thinking about his struggle and about the struggle we are all in the find meaning and purpose in this experience we call life.

So, obviously, I invest a lot of time and effort in promoting the idea of positive thinking on this blog, on Twitter, Facebook, and around the Internet. What is my take on this question?

First, I believe each person’s experience is her or her own and the evaluation of that experience is personal. Whether your challenge is cancer, an abusive relationship, poverty, loss, or some other life drama; you must be the one to put the meaning to it.

Can positive thinking, I prefer empowered thinking, cure cancer? I would answer that in the following way.

The evidence that positive (empowered) thinking makes a difference in life’s results when illness is not involved is overwhelming. Talk to as many great or successful people as you like and it will be a long time before you find one who is a negative thinker.

The NFL football team that goes out every week believing it will lose is not going to be your Super Bowl champion this year. This business person who doesn’t believe in her idea is never going to reach success.

It is clear that positive (empowered thinking) makes a difference in many spheres of life. It moves people forward, gives them the courage to try new things, and take the chances necessary to create new paradigms.

Negative thinking cannot and does not achieve any of those things. It holds people back. Destroys lives and limits horizons.

Let me ask you this. Do you think any of these facts change when you become ill? Does positive (empowered) thinking suddenly become a non-factor in outcomes? That does not make any sense.

Look, the world and our lives are a kind of game. Like any game, there are rules and parameters to the game that we cannot escape regardless of our thinking. We are going to grow old, we are going to get sick, we are going to die – all of us. Those are rules of this game and our thinking cannot alter them.

Positive (empowered) thinking is about how well we play within the game. As long as there is breath, you are still in the game. As long as you are in the game, there is hope. And, as long as you are in the game, your thinking is going to play a role in the outcome.

Does negative thinking attract illness? I don’t know. Maybe. Does positive (empowered) thinking cure any and every illness? No. Some cancers are so acute that they stretch the parameters of the game’s rules. Just as your thoughts will not protect you from a 500 foot fall off a cliff. There are rules to the game. There is no doubt that our thoughts can shift our realities, but they will not shift every reality.

Positive (empowered) thinking and negative thinking are not about blame or guarantees. They are about influencing the experience of your life in the game for as long as you are here.

The real question is which kind of thinking gives you the best quality of life for the next 90 days or the next 90 years? Spend a moment thinking about that and I’m sure you will quickly see which kind of thinking creates a better life for the healthy person and the sick person.

Stay inspired!

Ray

Time to Be Who You Came Here to Be – The Affirmation Spot for Friday January 2, 2009

Today’s Affirmation:

“This year I am absolutely committed to being the person I came here to be.”
(This is the official TAS affirmation for 2009. Click the affirmation to hear the mp3 version)

starfield2Unless you adhere to the most skeptical view of evolution, you probably believe that life has a purpose. There is a reason you – and everyone and everything that shares this planet with you – are here. Your very presence is a certifiable miracle.

Literally trillions of events in the history of this universe had to happen just right for you to be here. If any one of them had happened another way, then no you.

In my book, that makes your existence rather significant.

That begs the question. Why are you here? What are you here to be?

More than likely you know the answer to that question. It’s hidden or forgotten somewhere deep inside of you, but it is there. You’ve had inklings of it throughout your life. There are those things you just love doing and experiencing. There are places you just love to be. Perhaps at one time you dreamed of doing those things or being in those places.

Somewhere along the line your dreams and reality collided.  You gave up on the dreams to live in “reality.” “They” told you your dreams were not realistic and you bought it. My question to you is do your dreams and your reality have to be conflict? Can your dreams become your reality?

The great thinkers and spiritual teachers of our species have been clear and unequivocal in their conviction that our dreams can be our reality. Few things have been more universally taught.

That’s not to say that you can blink your eyes “Genie-style” and your wish becomes your life. It may take work. There may be challenges. You might have to make hard choices. None of the great sages ever promised otherwise.

Are your dreams worth it or not?

The joy and jubilation created by the new year will pass and “real life” will begin again. The momentum you need to make the changes you are promising yourself this year need to be boosted by something inspirational, if they are to survive.

Your dreams fit the bill perfectly. Suspend your disbelief and start walking in the direction of your dreams. As you get in better “dream shape” pick it up to a jog. By the end of the journey, you will be in full sprint towards your dreams.

Soon you will be embracing your deepest dreams and spending your days living your dreams instead of…well…dreaming about them. Belief and commitment are the only price of admission.

It’s time to “show up” and be the people we came here to be in 2009! Are you with me?

Stay awesome!

Ray

Happiness Is Contagious Study Finds – The Affirmation Spot for Friday December 5, 2008

Today’s Affirmation:

“Today I am making the radical choice to be completely happy no matter what.”
(click the affirmation to hear it in mp3)

It appears you can catch happiness as easily as the common cold. That’s the word from newly a released study by researchers at Harvard Medical School and The University of California, San Diego; happiness is contagious. The report says that happiness spreads through social networks like a virus and that your happiness can effect people you don’t even know.

Wow! That’s a big responsibility. The study also found that sadness spreads in a similar manner, but less efficiently.

Here are several of the best articles detailing the research.

WEB MD
Reuters
Live Science

Stay inspired and spread the happiness!

Ray