Archive for Living with Full Wattage
One of the most important concepts that has recently emerged from the world of neuroscience and the study of the brain is that your thoughts and where you focus your attention can actually change the physical structure of your brain, which in turn influences how you think and feel.
Though meditators and spiritual teachers have known this from experience, until just a few years ago the ability to change our brains by our own self-directed thoughts was generally considered fantasy.
But now we know that far from fantasy, our ability to re-wire our brains and change even long-held habits and behaviors is indeed within our grasp. This is profound! No matter how stuck you might feel, you have a lot more control over your mental and emotional states than was ever thought possible.
But that doesn’t mean that it’s always easy to change those old patterns…
This weekend I was working in my backyard, which has a steep gradient. There is a small retaining wall part way down the slope. I noticed that when it rained, the water washed down the hill alongside the wall, and over time had created a deep rut right next to it. If this continued it would eventually make the wall unstable.
Our brains are somewhat like this. As time goes on, pathways are cut that get more and more established, till we don’t even have to think about them anymore. Good or bad, that’s how habits are formed.
As for my backyard – I had to create a new pathway before the soil erosion became a real problem. The first step was the awareness that there even was a problem. The second step – I had to redirect the water.
OK, so my backyard doesn’t quite look like this yet, but just give it a year or two 😉
I began by indenting a shallow groove in a different direction down the hill away from the wall. The next time it rained some of the water took the new path and some continued to take the old path (even though I did begin the process of filling in the rut with new soil – but the lack of grass still made it the path of least resistance).
Each time I went into the backyard I would take a few more layers of dirt out of the new channel, deepening it, and continue to fill in the old channel. Each time it rained, more and more water flowed down the new channel, till eventually the new water route was established and grass grew back where the old channel once was. And the wall stood tall and proud.
Rewiring our brains is somewhat similar. The first step – awareness – is often the hardest. Our unhealthy behaviors and habits become so automatic that we mostly engage them without conscious thought. But with awareness comes liberation, because then we can do something about it.
At first when we create the new pathway, the pull of the old one is strong as it is still there. And it takes energy to overcome the inertia of just doing what you have always done. But over time, with focused intention and repetition a new pathway in the brain is created and a new pattern of behavior is formed. Ta dah!
It is the act of paying attention that rewires the circuits in the brain. That is why “mindfulness” has suddenly become so popular alongside the rise in awareness of neuroplasticity. The two go hand-in-hand.
More about that in another article… but for now, start to notice what you are focusing on and therefore giving energy to. Then ask yourself, do I want to make this pathway in my brain deeper (like my original water channel), or do I want to focus it elsewhere and rewire my brain to go down a different channel? The choice is yours.
At the beginning of each new year we often think of the successes we would like to achieve in the year ahead. Maybe you wrote “resolutions” to help you achieve your desired results.
Why do we do this?
We do it because most of us have an innate urge to be successful in life. And I am no exception to that. I strive for increased success in my business, my marriage and in my relationships with family and friends. I strive to live a joyous, loving, purposeful life, filled with abundant health and vitality.
True success has many facets to it. Financial success is certainly important, because, as a wise one once said, “we are living in a material world.” But for me, physical or material success would be empty without “spiritual success”.
So what is spiritual success? According to a great teacher, Torkom Saraydarian, it is “the actualization of your inner potentials and of your essential divinity through your thoughts, feelings, words, and actions” (Dynamics of Success by Torkom Saraydarian).
Now that might seem pretty lofty, yet I am sure you can think of someone who achieved great physical success, but lost it all because they failed to build their spiritual wealth alongside their financial bank account, and as a result their life went out of balance. Our newspapers are full of such stories.
And while it’s easy to measure physical success, how do you measure spiritual success? Certainly the levels of daring, courage, hope, resilience, vitality, love, creativity, happiness and joy are good indicators of your spiritual success.
Lack of it results in more fear, doubt, worry and hopelessness, as well increased feelings of emptiness, dissatisfaction, and a lack of meaning and purpose in life.
So,what about you? How would you define success? And if you agree with me that spiritual success is equally as important as material success, how do we go about building that in our personal and professional lives?
One way to begin is to simply ask yourself what spiritual success would look like for you. What qualities are important to you?
Make a list, then choose one that you would like to focus on. Then ask yourself how you could incorporate more of that quality into your life at work and at home.
For example, let’s say courage is important to you. Maybe you want the courage to go after a promotion at work, or to write that book you keep talking about, or to start a business doing something that you love.
Courage makes you steadfast in the face of obstacles. It gives you clarity of mind and strength of body. Think about the steps you could take to increase feelings of courageousness in your life? Start with baby steps and grow from there. Do the same for whichever spiritual qualities you want to develop.
Doing this will help you to increase your spiritual success and lead to a more balanced life.
Studies show that many folks don’t even make it through the first week of the new year before their good intentions have fallen by the wayside. So if that’s you, don’t worry, you are not alone.
So why is that?
It’s because often our goals are things we think we should be doing. We tell ourselves, “I should work out more.” “I should eat better.” “I should lose those 10 lbs.” “I should watch less TV.”
But committing to something just because you think you should, or because someone else suggested it to you, is not very motivating or compelling. It’s no wonder that we give up without much of a fight.
But there are steps that you can take to create New Year’s resolutions that result in lasting change.
So, here are 3 tips to help you write resolutions (or any goals for that matter) that stick:
1. They have to source from the CORE of who you are.
Instead of just being something that you think you should do, what if you created resolutions or goals that emerged from the core of your being – from your sense of purpose in life? Do you think that would make a difference? I sure do.
This time of year is often a time to reflect on the past year – to examine what worked for us and what did not – as well as to look ahead to the upcoming year. Imagine if you also took the time to ponder the big question of why you are here on the earth at this time.
What if you looked ahead to the new year and created resolutions for change that sourced from your unique life purpose. Now that would be a force to reckon with! That’s because your life purpose is a driving force .
To be effective, a resolution or goal has to be aligned with your deepest values. Do you know what your top 3 or 5 values are? Can you clearly articulate them? Do you know which of your top values is the most important to you?
If a resolution is based on something that is not really important to you, the chance of success is slim.
On the other hand, if you create goals and resolutions from the things that really matter to you, that are based on your deepest values, there’s a much higher likelihood of you achieving them.
You will also have much more satisfaction, enthusiasm, and joy as you accomplish those things that you set out to do.
3. They have to be big enough to stretch your limits.
If you have one big goal or New Year’s resolution that pushes the envelope of what you can accomplish you are more likely to be successful than if you have a number of less significant goals. That is because a big goal has more power of manifestation than lots of smaller ones.
It’s easier to focus on one big goal and is less overwhelming than a bunch of smaller goals.
When you take on a big goal and you really claim it as yours, you become unstoppable. It will energize and invigorate you. Whereas, you are much more likely to give up on lesser goals.
So rather than a bunch of less meaningful goals, choose one big New Year’s resolution that pushes you outside your comfort zone… and go for it 100 percent. Then, once you are clear on your one big goal, chunk it down into smaller “benchmark” goals, each with a specific timeline. And even although we have passed January 1st, it is not to late to create a meaningful big goal for yourself for 2014. Why not write it down now?
Get bigger about who you are and what you can accomplish! I know you can do it.
So I do hope these tips help you to create New Year’s resolutions and goals that have a lasting and meaningful impact on your life. And if you need help clarifying your sense of purpose, your values or your life vision and goals, do contact me. I’d be honored to help.
So we tend to cut down on the activities that fuel and nourish us, in an effort to “get more done”.
Unfortunately that means that we are often running on empty. It’s no wonder we get so stressed out at the holidays.
So here are some practical activities that you may have been tempted to reduce or eliminate for the next few weeks. However, not only will they actually help you reduce stress in your life during the busy holiday season, but the renewed energy you get might even help you get more done!
Without a doubt, some form of physical exercise is a great way to break the stress cycle. Exercise pumps up your endorphins (feel-good hormones) and decreases your stress hormones. It also reduces chronic muscle tension, helps you sleep better, and decreases anxiety.
Exercise is also a natural way to increase your energy level, alertness, and concentration. But that’s just the beginning…
In addition to simply increasing blood flow, and hence oxygen to the brain, we now know that physical activity actually helps create new brain cells or neurons, and helps them connect better with other nerve cells. In other words, exercise is a powerful way to help you rewire your brain for greater health, focus, creativity and maybe even intelligence. So during this holiday season, do make sure you get plenty of exercise. You’ll feel better for it.
Dance is also a powerful stress reducer, especially learning new moves, which can be both physically and mentally challenging.
And if you guys think that manly men don’t dance, think again. According to Psychologies magazine, Dr. Peter Lovett, a psychologist specializing in performance at the University of Hertfordshire in England, recently examined how women respond to men’s dance moves at nightclubs.
He discovered that shufflers (those who simply shuffle from foot to foot) were rated lowest in terms of masculinity and attractiveness, while those who incorporated the occasional unexpected movement were “eye-catching and appeared more in control.”
So who says manly men don’t dance!
So at that next holiday party, break out the dancing shoes and don’t hold back 🙂
Yoga and Pilates
Yoga and Pilates are also powerful ways to decrease stress and increase energy (not to mention overall enthusiasm for life). Both of these practices incorporate controlled breathing, increased blood flow, hand-eye coordination, and complete body-mind awareness.
I love my regular Pilates classes for the unique combination of strength building and flexibility. Even after a hard workout I leave feeling so refreshed and ready for whatever life brings my way.
Then, after all of that activity you will have earned a massage. Getting a relaxing, therapeutic massage is one of my favorite ways to interrupt the stress cycle and to rejuvenate. OK, so I will admit that I am a massage junkie. I’ve rarely met a massage I didn’t like.
For me, massage reminds the muscles of what it feels like to relax and let go. And when the body lets go, the mind does too. And always, a rested mind is more resilient and operates with greater clarity.
So there you have it – Part One of my holiday de-stressors. Do these things and you will have more energy and enthusiasm during the holidays and beyond.
So what are your most effective ways to stay sane during the holidays? What helps you stay calm and relaxed so that you can enjoy all that the season has to offer? Please leave your comments and ideas below 🙂
I have an additional blog and website dedicated to my new book Full Wattage! The new site is filled with lots of articles and posts to help you live a more purposeful and engaging life worth celebrating.
You can access it at www.FullWattage.com
I think you will enjoy it 🙂
See you there…
One of the greatest causes of stress in our lives comes from self criticism and judgment. We are our own worst enemies.
Yet, how we see ourselves will be the greatest determing factor in our success or failure in every area of our lives.
Maybe it’s time to fire the judges and get bigger about who you are…
Self Image: Fire the Judges in Your Life and Get Bigger About Who You Are!
What a fantastic collection of dance movies… almost 40 in all. It certainly made me feel like dancing. Enjoy!
By late afternoon my husband, Francis, was done with work. He doesn’t usually finish that early and so he wanted to take advantage of it. His idea was to go for a boat ride on the Chesapeake Bay. And he wanted me to go with him.
I felt I needed to stay home and “be productive” to make up for my rather non-productive day.
It started off lovely and very soon I was so glad I chose to get out of my office. By early evening there were so many boats out on the water. It was beautiful.
But then a storm rolled in. The sky got rather dark and you could hear the thunder in the distance. And it kept getting closer.
We decided to try to get back to the dock as quickly as possible. I have to say, it was rather exciting. We flew through the waves, staying just ahead of the storm, all the while keeping our eyes glued for crab pots. The sky continued to get darker and darker.
We were almost back when the sky opened up and the rains came. And it was heavy. Very heavy! Within seconds we were both soaked through.
Luckily there was no lightning, for which I was grateful. But it rained so hard it was difficult to see. Despite that, when I looked at Francis with water pouring off him I couldn’t help but laugh. He laughed too.
It was still torrential when we reached the dock, so we quickly took care of the boat and ran for the house and dry towels. We both felt exhilarated. I had been transformed from a slug to an energizer bunny. I felt so alive and energized.
It made me realize that we all need a bit of adventure now and then to get us out of our routine. And it doesn’t need to be something huge. For me, a simple boat ride out on the bay did the trick.
Today I still feel energized from it, and, yes, I’m getting things done 🙂
So what do you need to do to add more adventure to your life?
Sometimes, it seems like a luxury, but taking time out to renew and revitalize us can actually lead to getting much more done in the long run. And it’s a lot more fun.
This Saturday, July 31st is National Dance Day, a grassroots movement that encourages people of all ages to get up and MOVE!
Created by Nigel Lythgoe, executive producer and co-creator of the hit FOX series SO YOU THINK YOU CAN DANCE and founder of the Dizzy Feet Foundation, the aim of National Dance Day is to promote health and self-esteem through the art form of dance.
Events are taking place around the country, including flash mobs in L.A., N.Y.C. and Washington D.C.
Wanna take part? Then just learn this simple dance (see video below), and find an event near you.
And if you will be in the D.C area Saturday, see you on the Mall.
In a recent post I wrote about the law of attraction, and that whatever you put your focus on, you get more of.
To clarify, I was not talking about writing or saying affirmations. I think we’ve all tried that. You know… when you stick those million-dollar bills that you can buy for a few cents all over the ceiling above your bed so you see them first thing in the morning.
And the little sticky notes on the bathroom mirror, on the fridge, and all over your computer screen that read, “I am wealthy beyond imagination. All the money I need comes to me easily and in abundance.” All those reminders about how wealthy you are.
Then an unexpected expense shows up and you completely lose it. (Been there, done that!) Or you constantly worry about money. You hang onto things you don’t really need because you don’t want to let them go. You act in every way as if you were broke.
Where are you putting your attention? What are you really focusing on?
The universe doesn’t look at what you write down on those pieces of paper, or what you tell yourself 20 times or 20,000 times a day. It looks at what you base your actions on. It looks at what you are calling real by your thoughts, and words and actions…..then it gives you even more than of that!
The universe assumes that what you put your focus on must be what you want. Otherwise why would you be spending so much time thinking about it?
What you say you want and what you actually focus your attention on are not always the same thing!
So instead of focusing your energy on what you don’t want, focus instead on what it is that you do want. And amazing things can happen!
And when something comes along in life that doesn’t match your vision, don’t make a big deal of it. Tell yourself it is just an anomaly, and as soon as possible, get back to focusing on what you want.