Always Have a Student’s Heart – Day 184 of 365 Days to a Better You

Take the attitude of a student, never be too big to ask questions, never know too much to learn something new.
~Og Mandino

One of the problems with becoming an expert on any topic is that it causes you to think you know it all or at least know all the possibilities. Life and the universe are complex. It’s unlikely that human expertise gained in the course of a single lifetime can ever make you beyond learning more.

Wayne Dyer used to talk about this subject. He told a story of an professor in Buddhism who had always wanted to meet this one particular teacher. He was overjoyed to finally meet him and went about talking and talking about all he knew about Buddhism.

The teacher asked the professor if he’d like some tea. The professor agreed and kept on talking. The teacher handed the professor a cup and saucer and started pouring. He filled the cup. Then the tea went over the rim and onto the saucer. The man kept talking and the monk kept pouring. Finally, the tea topped the saucer and began pouring onto the professor’s pants.

The professor stopped the monk and said, “The cup is full.” The monk replied, “You are like the cup. You’re so full of what you know that you are not open to learning anything new.”

It is my fervent hope that the universe does not have to pour tea on you to help you see there’s still plenty for you to learn. Stay open to new ideas, new possibilities, and new paradigms. For the wisest among us, is he or she that maintains the perpetual heart of a student.

You ARE amazing! Let nothing that happens to you today convince you otherwise!

Ray

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Are We a Spiritual Being Having a Human Experience?

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Saturday Question of the Day

The late Wayne Dyer used to say, “We are not human beings having a spiritual experience. We are spiritual beings having a human experience.”

Do you agree? Why or why not?

Stay inspired!

Ray

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

Dr. Wayne Dyer on Ellen – The Affirmation Spot for Wednesday August 12, 2009

One of my true mentors from afar, Dr. Wayne Dyer, discusses his new book “Excuses Be Gone!” with Ellen Degeneres. He always inspires me. I hope you find it inspiring too.

Stay inspired!

Ray

2009 Affirmation

“This year I am absolutely committed to being the person I came here to be!”

Affirmations Under Fire: A Response – The Affirmation Spot for Wednesday June 8, 2009

Ray’s Daily Affirmation:

“Focus on the goal…When I set out to achieve something I eliminate all the negatives and naysayers and focus completely on my goal.”
(Download this mp3 affirmation or 100s of others at The Affirmation Spot)





depressionRecently, a study questioning the validity of affirmations (“positive statements”) was published in Psychological Science. The paper entitled “Positive Self-Statements: Power for Some, Peril for Others” was co-authored by Dr. Joanne Wood, Elaine Perunovic, and John W. Lee.

Today I am going to share my own thoughts on this research and would invite mental health professionals, people in the coaching and self-development fields, or ordinary readers who have used affirmations to comment on the topic.

The researchers conducted a study based on the following premise from their paper’s abstract.

Positive self-statements are widely believed to boost mood and self-esteem, yet their effectiveness has not been demonstrated. We examined the contrary prediction that positive self-statements can be ineffective or even harmful. A survey study confirmed that people often use positive self-statements and believe them to be effective.  

Two experiments showed that among participants with low self-esteem, those who repeated a positive self-statement (‘‘I’m a lovable person’’) or who focused on how that statement was true felt worse than those who did not repeat the statement or who focused on how it was both true and not true.

Among participants with high self-esteem, those who repeated the statement or focused on how it was true felt better than those who did not, but to a limited degree. Repeating positive self-statements may benefit certain people, but backfire for the very people who ‘‘need’’ them the most.

I am always shocked and dismayed by the cynicism that emerges when the subject of positive thinking comes up. This research certainly seems to have awakened a cadre of bloggers and journalists ready to pounce and denounce positive thinking as a sham. I have written often on this blog about the constant stream of disempowering messages that some in media like to produce. I have also written about the whole concept that somehow positive thinking is perceived as less “realistic” than negative thinking. Both of these factors seem to be in play as this story unfolds.

Let me begin by expressing my alarm, not at this study or its results, but at the way it has been heralded in the mainstream and psychological press as empirical evidence that positive thinking is a fraud. Those 20 year old images of Stuart Smalley have been dusted off and pushed front and center to ridicule the practice of thinking positively.

Oprah, Wayne Dyer, and other luminaries in what I would term the “empowered thinking” movement have been chided for their support of such nonsense. Their statements that we human beings are capable of amazing things when we change the way we think have been taken to task as fantasy.

Some Examples of the typical media fair:

Worst of all, people suffering from depression and other negative thinking disorders have been told that thinking positively is bad for them and it should be avoided because it will make them feel worse.

I have been in contact directly with Dr. Wood. It is my belief that she and her colleagues are trying to conduct honest research and find honest answers to honest questions. After reading and digesting the paper that resulted from their research, I am convinced that the flaw lies not in the researchers’ intentions, but in the selected methodology. Dr. Wood, based on her writing, agrees that specific statements may have more efficacy than the general “I am lovable” statement used in the experiments that led to the paper.

“Moment by moment, brick by brick, I am building a life full of things more important to me than my problems.”

This topic is very near and dear to my heart. I don’t speak as an outsider on the topics of affirmations or severe depression. 20 years ago, at the age of 25, I nearly died due a severe depression and undiagnosed Addison’s Disease. The fact is I should have been dead. My electrolytes were below levels capable of supporting life. I had eaten nothing and drank little for weeks and I was down to 96 pounds. My father had to carry me into the hospital emergency room. Every cell in my body hurt and I wanted to die to escape the pain – physical and psychological that I was feeling.

Affirmations were an absolute mainstay in my climb from that deep, dark place. They remain a key part of my success today.

optimismWhen I encounter someone who is suffering from depression, anxiety, or other difficult life situations; it’s not theoretical to me. I understand what they are going through. I know the struggles I had for years after that hospital visit. I know the hard work and determination it took to change my thinking and change my life. My passion is to help people who suffer from these conditions to get better and live the life they came here to live.

That’s why I started The Affirmation Spot. That’s why I spend a couple of hours every day tweeting affirmations for people on Twitter. That’s why messages of disempowerment and “you can’t” being delivered by the media and mental health professionals bother me so much. I know it feels like you can’t sometimes, but you can! It’s not hyperbole, magic, or a scam. It’s the truth. I did it and so can you!

I applaud Dr. Wood and her colleagues for tackling this topic and attempting to put science behind what my experience and that of so many others clearly demonstrates.

However, the study failed to grasp the process required for affirmations (“positive statements”) to impact the thinking of a depressed person. Subjects were questioned about their mood during the cognitive dissonance that is always sure to occur during an attempt to shift thinking. I know this personally, as I have encountered it many times. In fact, every time I use affirmations to pursue some new goal I encounter cognitive dissonance.

The research apparently took place in a single instance. Affirmations take time, repetition, belief, and commitment to impact and replace negative thinking. There is no evidence that study participants had any commitment to change their feeling of “not being lovable” by use of the affirmation. They certainly did not have time for repetition to have its effect.

The measurements in this study were akin to measuring the muscle growth of someone after one workout in the gym.

As someone who turned my life around using affirmations and other tools and now works to help others do the same, I can state that this research is preliminary, incomplete, and far from conclusive.

My view is that the research should continue and that a methodology conducive to a true study of this question should be devised to examine the validity of these findings. I suggest the following criteria as a starting point.

  1. Clinical Trial – conduct a real clinical trial using real psychological patients rather than grad students. There should be a controlled group or perhaps even a comparison against other treatment options.
  2. Decision – participants should be people with a a commitment to changing their negative beliefs, thoughts, and habits. Affirmations are just wishful thinking without a decision to change. Without this commitment, neither affirmations nor most other treatment courses will work.
  3. Time – affirmations are just like an exercise program. It takes time for the results to be seen. The affirmations have to be used, as with any other treatment, over a period of time and progress in mood and behavior monitored for positive change.
  4. Targeted Change and Affirmations – both the thoughts, beliefs, or behaviors to be changed must be identified and affirmations specific and appropriate should be used. “I am lovable” is a nice sentiment, but a a weak affirmation to produce real change. The goals to be achieved, obviously, have to be realistic.
  5. Multiple Content Types – The affirmations should be delivered audibly, verbally, and visually to account for varying learning styles. I also recommend what I call holographic affirmations – first person, second person, and named affirmations. First person affirmations are said to obtain ownership of the affirmation. Second person affirmations are used as thought replacement because the overwhelming majority of negative thoughts come into our minds as “you” statements. Name affirmations get the person’s attention by using the sweetest sound in the language – their name – as a cue.
  6. Reinforcemnt – progress must be reinforced to solidify the positive, empowered thinking we want to achieve. There are a lot of competitors to fill the voids of our thoughts and emotions media, family, religion, government, etc. If we are not encouraging and reinforcing the thoughts of our choosing, someone else will fill that void. That is how most people wound up being LSE in the first place. They listened to others about how they should feel and think about themselves

This study and the media feeding that has followed leaves millions of depressed people with the impression that thinking positive, empowering thoughts is not a viable solution for them. I am living proof that this is not so.

The idea that these people should be left to wallow in the realism of their depressive thoughts is a sad and unwarranted message. Yes, change is hard, but change is part of human potential. To tell someone obsessed with negative thoughts that thinking better thoughts is “dangerous” or “fruitless” (as many articles about this study have) is the height of irresponsibility.

I would hope that this research continues along the lines described above and that studies measuring the true efficacy of affirmations as a tool can be conducted. 20 years of my life and my interactions with many, many people tell me that such research will demonstrate that sensible positive thinking is an option and a way to the light for those suffering, as I once did.

In closing, I have one simple question. Regardless of the situation you are facing in life, are you going to have better results facing it with the burden of negative thoughts or with the empowerment of positive thoughts? The answer is clear. Positive thoughts are not the enemy. Negative thoughts are the problem. We need to keep that in perspective.

Stay inspired!

Ray

2009 Affirmation

“This year I am absolutely committed to being the person I came here to be!”

An Awareness Experiment Part III

sunrise7Over the past couple of weeks, I asked you to pay special attention to the negativity and disempowerment you encounter every day of your life.

In Part I of the experiment, I asked you to observe the negativity in the people around you. In Part II, I asked you observe the disempowering, negative thoughts and comments you make on a daily basis.

The point of this experiment was not to judge you or the people around you. Rather it was to make you aware of just how much negativity the average person generates in a day. Unless you are hanging with a way above average crowd, you probably experienced a lot of negativity once you really started watching for it.

How about you? Did it surprise you how much negativity runs through your mind and crosses your lips on a daily basis? Don’t panic! You’re not sick or defective. You’re a normal human being!

For some reason, most human beings are set to the negativity channel by default. That’s why self-improvement, self-help, and motivation are ever popular and always needed. For most of us, staying positive is a daily, live-long endeavor like exercise or eating right. It’s not an event it’s a process.

The only way to change the equation is to get really conscious of your negativity and disempowerment and that of those around you – the point of this experiment – and take steps to counter that negativity.

Even when you make the decision to focus on increasing your positivity you stlll battle your own habits, the sea of unhappiness and negativity that comes from those around you, and round the clock crisis coming from the media and leaders. It can leave you feeling helpless, negative, and disempowered.

Why Does it Matter?

So why does all of this matter? I mean that’s the way it is, right? Well, it matters because when your thoughts are negative and powerless they create negative and powerless action. That kind of action causes your life to get out of control, your goals to go unattained, and, when multiplied across the planet, a very disempowered populace.

Freedom, democracy, and the pursuit of happiness cannot happen when our thoughts and beliefs convince us the deck is stacked against us. That is magnified when it is reinforced by the people around us and the information we get in the media. We wind up giving up our power, giving up our freedoms, and becoming reliant on institutions to protect us from the shadow of constant fear projected on the walls of our consciousness. Our negative thinking convinces us that we are powerless to change things.

Freedom persists only where there is an empowered citizenry that is aware, enlightened, informed, and able to act in its own interest. The possibility of growth and change in our personal lives is only possible when we have a positive, empowered vision of our future.

Our negativity and disempowerment threatens our personal goals and the viability of a free society.

What To Do

Motivation expert Dr. Wayne Dyer discusses the power of our thoughts.

There are a number of things that can help turn this situation around.

  1. Awareness – the first thing is you have to be aware of the current situation within you and around you and be clear about it. In other words, you have to admit there is a problem. I’ve had people I work with on motivation tell me that negative thinking is not a problem for them. We have to get out of denial and recognize the need for change and that change is possible.
  2. Empower Your Thinking – you need to start with you. You cannot hope to make a difference for others until you are on the road to empowered, positive thinking. What are your goals, your dreams, your bliss? Do you even remember? Get clear on what you want to achieve and affirm it with affirmations and other techniques every single day. Catch your negative thinking when it happens and question and counter them with a positive alternative. There is a greatness within you. All you need to do is set it free!
  3. Help Those Around You – once you “wake up” and your perspective starts to shift positively, you’ll really become aware of how much negativity others have and you understand how destructive it is to them. I don’t think smoking, obesity, or alcohol are as damaging to someone as beliefs that make people believe less of themselves. Look for opportunities to help the people around you rethink their thinking. Help them shift from disempowered thinking about themselves and the world to empowered.
  4. Celebrate the Positive – too many people in our society firmly believe that negative thinking is somehow more realistic than positive thinking. This is a horrible recipe for positive change in a person or a society. If you watch, you will see how often positive thinking is ridiculed in the media. Be one who celebrates positivity. Be the person who picks others up on their bad days. Live for and demand a positive outcome in your life and in the world. Everything is possible. We should think and speak and act like it.
  5. Shut Out Negativity – lessen or eliminate your exposure to the negative. A careful examination quickly reveals that the media is hyper-focused on the negative – crisis after crisis. They are focused on what is wrong with you – you’re poor, you’re too fat, you’re powerless. They seem to want to keep you afraid which is very disempowering. Know your limits. Being informed is a good thing, but shut out the negativity when you start to feel it having an effect on you.

More, much more, is possible for you and for all of us living here on this planet in this time and place. We have created marvels and yet believe ourselves to be less than. My hope in sharing this experiment and this dialogue was to help you realize both that there is a lot of negativity in your environment and within you, but MOST IMPORTANTLY, that you can do something to change it.

Stay inspired and empowered!

Ray

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

anunnaki_cover_full_colorHe is the author of the Anunnaki Awakening series (2015). Book 1 – Revelation – is now available in paperback and on Kindle. Can one woman really change the world? Can she expose a lie told for millennia? Can she make the future possible for two worlds?

Sit in the Driver’s Seat in 2009! – The Affirmation Spot for Monday December 29, 2008

Today’s Affirmations:

“A new day dawns…I am a new person today; a better person, a healthier person, a happier person.”

“Even amid adversity, I endeavor to succeed to the maximum extent of my abilities.”

“I am a strong and capable person.”
(Click an affirmation to hear it or get the mp3 version for your music player)

captains_wheelIf your strategy is to let life happen to you; it will. It’s time to put you back in the driver’s seat in your life in 2009. Ask yourself, honestly, “Am I the driver or the passenger in my life?” Yes, I know we can’t control everything that happens to us. I also understand the wisdom of just being and going with the flow.

Neither is a reason to not be the driver in your own life. Things out of your control are going to happen whether you are the driver or the passenger in your life. That’s no reason not to be steering the things you can control. There is wisdom in “just being”, but it is so much more beneficial when done as a conscious choice to enhance your life rather than as the result of sitting in a rudderless boat.

Wayne Dyer talks about being not only the actor in your life, but also the director and producer. Actors are just given scripts that they then play out. They have no say in how the story line progresses. Directors make conscious choices about how the story is going to be told. Producers select the ideas that become the storylines created by directors and actors.

CHOOSE your storyline in 2009. It’s not enough to just tell or act someone else’s vision of your life. Put yourself in the driver’s seat.

Here are a few tips for putting you in the driver’s seat.

  1. Be the driver – stop seeing yourself as the passenger in a life where things “just happen” to you. You have a say and you have a lot of control over what happens in your life and how you react and adapt to it.
  2. Make the decisions – if you have become a passenger in your life, you have probably given control to someone else. Take it back. Be ready to accept advice from others (many heads are better than one), but make your own decisions.
  3. Take credit and responsibility – give yourself the credit for your achievements and take responsibility for your failures. Others play a role in successes and failures, but you are ultimately responsible for the results and choices in your life.
  4. Get back up – getting knocked down or facing a setback is an event not a way of life for people driving their lives. Life is full of bumps and bruises. Adapt and move on.
  5. Empower your thinking – practice empowered thinking. Here are the three aspects of empowered thinking.
    • Thought aspect – you have to think positively. Belief and commitment are important in any endeavor. Show me two people of equal talent – one who believes in his or her ability and one who does not – and I can tell you with high accuracy who will succeed. Positive thinking is imperative to maximize success potential in any endeavor. As Henry Ford said, “Whether you think you can or think you can’t; you’re are right.” Positive thinking is the basis for empowered thinking, but empowered thinking is more than just positive thinking. It incorporates two more elements.
    • Knowledge aspect – you have to be informed. In achievement pursuits, know what you are trying to achieve and be informed on what is going to be involved in succeeding. Knowing that ahead of time can help you prepare mentally for it. When empowering your thinking to critically evaluate information you need to know as many of the facts as possible. Positive thinking without information does not allow you to take powerful action. When you combine positive thinking with information you lay the groundwork for powerful action in your life.
    • Action aspect – empowered thinking is more than just thinking and knowing. Empowered thinking includes action. If you have incorporated the first two elements, your actions can be motivated and informed. Until there is action, informed positive thinking is just wishful thinking. Your world is supported by intentions, but it is built by actions.
  6. Take action – the driver’s seat is a place of action. The passenger’s seat is a place of passivity, paralysis, and fear of moving forward and making change. Take action. Some actions don’t work out, but you cannot allow that fear to stop you from being the driver in your life.

If you’ve been the passenger for too long, make 2009 your year to shift back over into the driver’s seat. Take the wheel and start steering! If you’re already the driver in your life, keep the momentum going into the new year!

Be free! Be inspired! Follow your bliss!

Ray

 

Ray Davis is the author of Anunnaki Awakening: Revelation – order your signed copy today at AATrilogy.com – founder of The Affirmation Spot and an advocate for the potential of the human race.

anunnaki_cover_full_colorAnunnaki Awakening: Revelation is turning heads and opening minds. Humanity’s past is checkered, secret, and dangerous.

White House Correspondent Maria Love is on to the story of her life and with the help of an Anunnaki leaders seeks to unravel and reveal history’s biggest conspiracy. The Awakening has begun!