Archive for the ‘Life’ Category

5 Easy Steps for Making Life’s Lemons into Lemonade

Wednesday, September 24th, 2014 all know the axiom, “When life hands you lemons, make lemonade.” For sure, that’s sound advice but few of us actually know how to put the sweetness back into a situation once it’s gone sour.

One minute, life is going along just fine and then—calamity strikes. The kids aren’t paying attention, someone cuts you off in traffic, a co-worker undercuts you in front of the boss. You end up with a sour taste in your mouth, wishing you could get back to the sweet life.

It’s easier than you think. Here’s how to turn life’s lemons into lemonade in just five  steps.

Step 1: Look beyond the situation by asking, “What do I think this means?”

You see it’s not the situation itself that’s the problem. It’s the meaning you’re giving it.

Ponder this for a moment: could a problem be a problem, if you didn’t think it was? One man’s problem is another man’s opportunity. How are you making this situation a problem for yourself?

Find out what meaning you’re giving to the situation, because it’s the real source of the sour taste in your mouth.

Step 2:  Once you’ve identified the meaning you’ve assigned to the situation, challenge the meaning.

You can do this by asking, “Is this the only possible meaning this could have?”

Now, if you’re really being honest—and not just trying to be right—you’ll be quickly forced to acknowledge that, in a world of infinite possible meanings, your current meaning is vastly outnumbered.

Your current perspective is not the only one available to you, no matter how justified you feel in keeping your meaning. I know, it’s hard to let it go, so here’s a way to quell the arguments—realize that when you choose the meaning, you choose the feeling and behavior it generates.

Step 3: Pay attention to the feelings and behaviors that are generated when you give your “truth” to your original meaning.

Not very pleasant, right?

Notice that you’re giving your truth to this meaning, you’re not taking your truth from it. This truth is a relative truth, not an absolute one. I say relative, because in the whole of humanity, someone’s likely to see this situation differently than you do.

For instance: getting angry at your child because you’ve given your truth to the idea, “he/she doesn’t respect me,” might feel relatively true in the moment. However, asking yourself what else it might mean gives you an opportunity to look beyond the sour situation being created by your meaning.

You’ll have a better sense for whether or not your relative truth is helping or hindering the situation. Is your original meaning—and the anger and yelling it creates—helping or hindering your ability to communicate effectively with your child? Which bring us to step 4.

Step 4: Ask what you want to experience instead.

In other words, what result are you looking to bring about. Generally, this is the exact opposite of whatever emotion was being generated by the old meaning. This is where you transform anger into patience, frustration into understanding.

Step 5: Find a meaning that’s congruently aligned with a feeling and behavior you want to achieve.

You can do this by asking yourself, “What meaning could I give my truth to—one that would enable me to feel and behave differently?”

Your old meaning is no more true than this meaning. Remember that you’re the giver of truth.

What happens when you sincerely consider this as another possible meaning? However much you might want to reaffirm your old meaning, keep in mind—if you continue to choose it—you’ll be choosing the result it creates. Decide on a meaning that brings about the result you want.

For instance: Deciding that your child is over-tired, over-stimulated, or under-engaged is bound to bring about an entirely different approach to the ‘problem’ at hand. By redefining your meaning, you’ve redefined your resulting feelings and response.

So open up your lemonade stand, the people around you will suddenly like what you’re serving. You’ll find your situation is not so sour after all. In fact, it may get a whole lot sweeter right away.



The Best Balancing Act – Rest!

Wednesday, April 16th, 2014 For most of us it’s the illusive butterfly of life. We chase after it daily, never quite managing to catch up with it.

It’s a sign of the times we live in. With the ever increasing demands of work, home, and play—not to mention our goals to keep up with everything while staying fit, eating healthy, keeping up with our social media contacts, and remembering to recycle—we hardly have time to catch our breath, let alone balance.

We keep mental check lists and to dos, tally up our daily accomplishments, debit our credits for missed tasks and opportunities, and often fault ourselves for not taking more time for the important things that really matter. All the while, feeling that no matter how hard we’re running through life, we should be doing more. So it’s easy to understand why so many of us work so hard to finally find some balance—myself included.

But maybe balance isn’t something we can find. Perhaps, it’s not something we can capture or find. It’s not a constant state but a fleeting one.

Much like riding a bike requires us to make constant small adjustments while moving forward—creating a fluctuating state of balance that assists us in moving steadily along—the journey through our busy schedule is also a balancing act. It demands small constant adjustments as well. So rather than finding balance, like some far off, seemingly unreachable destination, we’re constantly creating it. It’s not about balance; it’s about balancing. It’s how we navigate the journey through all the busyness. We just don’t notice it. It’s there all along, a silent passenger that accompanies us as we go about our day.

So here’s a radical suggestion. Rather than seeking balance, we should be seeking Rest. After all, even the 2014 top seated cyclist, Alberto Contador Velasco, needs to come to a stop once in a while—if only to pick up his newest trophy.

I know that it’s counter-intuitive to think that taking a time-out from the balancing act, that we call our schedule, makes us more effective and productive, but the research proves it.

“A new and growing body of multidisciplinary research shows that strategic renewal — including daytime workouts, short afternoon naps, longer sleep hours, more time away from the office and longer, more frequent vacations — boosts productivity, job performance and, of course, health.” Schwartz, Tony, Relax! You’ll Be More Productive, New York Times, February 9, 2013.

So here’s something worth adding to your to do list for the day: Rest. And don’t be surprised if you find yourself feeling like your life comes suddenly into balance. Because, it seems that adding Rest to all the things that we’re already managing to balance throughout the day, might just be the best balancing act yet.







‘Perhaps’ ~ Life is By Adventure

Tuesday, April 1st, 2014

growing new ideasHow often does life go exactly according to your plans for it? If you’re like most of us, not so often, right?

I’m not here to discourage the perspective that we’re in many ways the author of our lives. It’s healthy to plan for the positive. It’s just that I think it’s time to grow up to the idea that we have absolutely no control over what IS. 

Believe me, I sympathize if this is a little uncomfortable to embrace; mostly because, I like being in control too. Here’s the thing. I just don’t try to control the wrong stuff anymore. Because what is always trumps our plans for what we think it should be. And there’s no use fighting the facts.

There are two stories to everyone’s life: the one that is and the one we think it should be. When life’s going as we think it should be, those two stories — The Story of Is and the Story of Should Be — don’t stray too far from the same plot line. But whatever harmony that exists between those stories is usually short lived, as Life continues to unfold into the Story of Is.

And The Story of Is and the Story of Should Be are usually contradictions to one another.  I should have gotten that raise. Kids should be more respectful. Drivers should be more courteous. But whatever we think, our shoulds never change the is. They do, however, create an undefeatable unhappiness.

In my own Story of Should Be, right now I’m at the gym shedding some winter weight that’s been holding on as stubbornly as the snowbank still outside my window. That’s what should be. However, in The Story of Is, I’m sitting not so comfortably—okay, in massive pain—almost flat on my back staring out the window at that aforementioned snow. Apparently, my back didn’t get the memo marked “should” and simply is what it IS. Not only can I not go to the gym, I can’t stand up without assistance.

Okay, that’s the bad news. Here’s the good.

The moment I surrender to what obviously is, I can change my should be to a perhaps.

Perhaps, if I wasn’t flat on my back I wouldn’t be writing this. And perhaps, my perhaps story will help someone else create their own. Perhaps, this isn’t happening to me. Perhaps, it’s happening for me. Perhaps, it’s happening so that I can help others. Perhaps, by the time I finally get to the gym, I’ll be twice as motivated.

I’m intrigued with the idea of creating and keeping a perspective that allows for the possibility that what IS might just be an opportunity to create a perhaps. I looked up the etimology of the word, by the way. It means: “by, through”  + happening, chance or adventure.

It’s natural for us to create a Story of Should Be (as in: I believe, I prefer, I desire), but it needn’t make us miserable. Because there’s a Third Story we can create, if we choose to.

The current Story of Is can become a far more exciting Story of Perhaps.

Perhaps, Life is By Adventure!

Do you have a Story of Perhaps you’d like to share? I’d love to hear it. Post it below!