How to Eliminate Your Problems

I had a problem. It was big, huge, major. I was very grumpy about it. Fortunately, I was aware enough to notice so I was able to take a minute to ask myself why. I had been working on making a new style of bracelet and it wasn’t coming out as I wanted. I just couldn’t get the hang of how to create this piece of jewelry. Wow, that’s it? That’s my problem? I realized that I had lost perspective and turned something that wasn’t that big of a deal into something seemingly critical.

With the relief of this realization, it wasn’t much later when it dawned on me that if I dropped my need to learn how to make the bracelet, then my problem would no longer exist. Amazing—I had the power to eliminate this “problem” just by changing my mind about what I thought I needed.

Some problems are bigger than this, of course. But most seem bigger than they are because we make mountains out of molehills.

But, what about situations when we can’t simply alter our needs to make the problem vanish? For instance, what about when a flight gets delayed or changed and it messes up vacation plans at the last minute? Or your partner in a relationship breaks up with you? Or a loved one gets a scary health diagnosis?

If I change my expectation, then the problem is gone. Like with the flight, if I’m ok with arriving later in the day, then there is no problem with it being delayed. Or if I’m ok with being on my own, then there’s no problem with a break-up.

But, that last example is the one that truly opened my eyes to acceptance of what is. When you really can’t change things; when you may get an outcome you really do not want, the only options are to be hopelessly sad, angry at the world or to accept what is. The good ol’ Serenity Prayer – Accept the things I cannot change.

I don’t know exactly how to be okay with receiving something I don’t want (or not getting a thing I do want). But I do know that when I tell myself I don’t need the outcome to be exactly as I pictured it, then a feeling of relief washes over me. I stop working so hard to control the situation to make it as I want it to be. Because really what controlling it is about is believing that I’m not capable of handling what may come. In other words, fear of the future. In other other words, not living in the moment.

I tell myself that I can handle whatever happens, that I trust the Universe (who knows far better and more than me!) to deliver the best outcome to all concerned, and I remind myself I am ok in the now (I may have to repeatedly tell myself these statements). Then I can take a deep breath and transcend the profoundly distressing feeling of disliking and fearing life on Earth.

Now, to be clear, acceptance doesn’t mean I enjoy the outcome; it doesn’t mean I changed my desires and now want what I didn’t want. Accepting what is frees me up from the struggle of “efforting” to make things happen my way. It makes me not have to be upset. It enables me to feel better in the moment. And, really, that’s the whole goal—to feel good in the moment and that moment and that moment and that one and so on. And then you see that every moment put together adds up to your life.

What things in your life that you don’t want and can’t change, can you accept “as is”? Do you feel the relief of not struggling to control the outcome? What insights does acceptance bring to the surface for you?

Postscript 1: After I no longer needed to learn how to make the new type of bracelet, I tried it again days later just for the heck of it, you know, for fun. Interestingly, I was able to easily make it and it came out beautifully.

sliderbracelet

Postscript 2: I accepted my loved one’s (Don, of course!) serious health scare and he is doing well physically.

DonMeElla

Interesting how acceptance works. 😊

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Learning from Joy and Fun

A lot of the focus of this blog, in a nutshell, is on getting out of the bad (e.g., unworthiness) and into the good (e.g., worthiness).  Very important stuff, indeed.  It also is about learning and growing from negative or challenging situations.  Also important.  But, it recently dawned on me that we can – and should – learn and grow from joyful and fun situations, as well.

Upon reflection, I realize that I learn and grow from challenges out of a sense of desperation and much needed relief.  I reframe the “bad” event or situation to what I learned or what good came of it to get something out of it rather than just feeling bad because of it.  (Check out this previous post.)  So its’ occurrence wasn’t just in vain.  This is absolutely necessary to be joyful and I will continue doing this.  But, this is also the reason why I haven’t been learning and growing from good, happy, fun events and circumstances – there was no need.  I was happy so that was the end of that story.  I had fun, the end.

But I wonder, why not milk the good times for all they are worth?  Not only reminiscing and reliving those good feelings but making a deliberate point to see how they helped me.  If you believe in the law of attraction (and I do), then it would follow that putting more time and focus on the good, fun events and times will create more of them.

So, how do we learn and grow from fun and joy?  I have to admit, when I first had this idea, I had no clue!  I asked for divine guidance and intuitively received some answers.

First the basics – we must sincerely appreciate the joyful, fun event or situation.  Acknowledge it. Feel the goodness and revel in that good feeling.

Next, to the “work”.  We look at how we got to this fun, happy situation.  How were we acting, thinking, and feeling beforehand?  Did we deliberately bring about this fun, happy situation (perhaps from our Joy To-Do List)?  Or did it seem to come about on its own?

After that, then ask, what specifically about the fun, joyful time did we like?  Was it the people involved?  The topic?  Our own behavior?

Because self-worth is such a major subject for me, I then ask, how did self-worth play a role?

Answering these questions will help us to find not only valuable insights and lessons, but also tools we can use to bring about more enjoyable times and events.  The insights, lessons and tools are there.  It’s up to us if we choose to see them.

An example of mine comes from watching an episode of Jerry Seinfeld’s Comedians in Cars Getting Coffee.  First, I acknowledged and appreciated my laughter and the fun I was having.  Then I saw that I got to this fun place by honoring myself.  I had deliberately taken a few minutes from my busy day to do something enjoyable and special for myself.  What I specifically liked about this fun time was not just the comedy, but the fact that they were talking about how people should lighten up and laugh at themselves and their situations, even “bad” situations.  I learned from this that I have ideas and beliefs in common with other people.  I’m not the oddball I sometimes feel that I am.  Self-worth played a role because I felt worthy enough to honor my desire to do something purely for the benefit of feeling good.  If I hadn’t felt worthy, I wouldn’t have taken a break from what I “should” have been doing and then wouldn’t have laughed.  This reminds me that we could go all our lives and not laugh or enjoy ourselves if we do what we “should” and don’t deliberately take time to do what gives us pleasure. That’s quite a lot of valuable insights from an 18 minute laugh session.

What fun thing are you going to learn and grow from today?  🙂

Joy in Connecting with People

First, and as always, we must have a foundation of self-worth and love ourselves before connecting with others. If we don’t have the base of self-worth, then being with others becomes an ego exercise in what can I get out of it or how can they be of benefit to me?  But after we get our firm footing of self-worth, then connection to others can increase our joy.

What actually are the benefits of connecting to people?  A lot of research has been done on this subject. The benefit of connection to others goes waaaay back, back to the origin of the human species!  Back then, connection to others ensured survival. We literally needed each other in order to survive.  Our brains became wired for social bonds and still remain that way today.  Psychologists have found that connection to others is an essential part of being human.  Not only does it promote safety, it creates a sense of belonging which is a vital aspect of being human.

Research on more modern day humans (us!) shows that people with connections to others are happier and have better physical quality and quantity of life.  Studies have also shown that little social connection can be more threatening to physical health than obesity, smoking and high blood pressure!  Whoa, has your doctor told you that?  It has been shown that the more connections we have, the more our bodies are able to recover from a stressful situation.  And we all know by now that stress in our regular day-to-day lives is not a friend.  Studies have also shown that people with connections to others are more likely to be altruistic and less aggressive.  In others words, they are more helpful and nicer!  Research also shows that having a variety of different relationships or groups is beneficial.

(Note: This is not a research paper (thank goodness!) so I didn’t cite any particular studies.  If interested, do a quick google search and see the multitude of studies that show the benefits of and details about connecting to others.  It’s quite interesting.)

I’m naturally an introvert and I desperately need my alone time, but even for me, I can see how connection to others is important (which really hit home after my revelation from watching Last Man on Earth in my last post).  I asked myself, what is the main reason that I do not connect more often with people?  I realized that when I feel unworthy, I am less likely to connect to people.  This is because I feel not worthy enough to interact with them or to approach them or become friends with them, etc.  I can see the ridiculousness of this, but yet it is how I feel in those unworthy times.  Then a distance gets created and a pattern of not interacting with others emerges and perpetuates.  My ego then makes me believe being quiet and alone is better for me.

Pondering the benefits of connection to others absolutely has helped me to initiate connecting with people. Sometimes that means simply some chit-chat with a stranger.  Sometimes reaching out to acquaintances or friends to get together.  Other times, deliberately taking some quality time with my husband.

Don’t get me wrong, I am still an introvert and cherish being alone, but I do see that a balance is valuable.  I have noticed that I do feel happier overall after such interactions and the duration of the interaction is not significant.  We are all here on Earth together and are not meant to be total loners!  Let’s find the joy in connecting with each other.  Let’s be the initiators.  Who are you reaching out to today?

Last Man on Earth

I was recently watching an episode of a new TV show, Last Man on Earth.  The basic premise is everyone died from a virus except for this guy, hence he’s the last man on Earth.  I can’t say that I really enjoy the show or will keep watching (this is definitely not an endorsement for the show!).  But, it did get me thinking as I watched a segment of him doing whatever he wanted, wherever he wanted.  I thought, wow that is freedom!  There’s nobody’s opinions to consider.  No approval or admiration to gain.  No negative judgments to worry about.  Nobody to feel superior or inferior to.  All this ego stuff suddenly becomes non-existent.  I instantly become my true self because I’m no longer considering the opinions of other people.

As I momentarily reveled in this idea, I quickly realized how sad and meaningless everything would become. OK great, so I could do and say whatever I wanted, however I wanted to do it; wear whatever I wanted; go wherever I wanted; “buy” (the whole concept of money is unnecessary) anything I wanted.  But without other people permanently, everything would soon become meaningless.  There’s no one to share ideas with.  No one to laugh with.  No one to help out.  No one to love or be loved by.  And no one to read what I write!

This silly example helped me to see two things more clearly.  One is that being my true self – not worrying about others’ opinions – is absolutely a key to joy.  And second, that having a connection to people is also a key to joy. When we are not concerned with their opinions, don’t fear them, nor need various other things from them, we can truly enjoy people’s company, be inspired by them, help them, love them, and simply have fun with them.

What would you do differently if you knew nobody would ever be around to see or know?  Let’s not wait to be the last person on Earth to give it a try!

I look forward to the next posts where we’ll get more into the joy in serving others and connecting with them.

Self-Worth in Challenging Times

Once we get on the roll of loving ourselves and being kind to ourselves, it starts to become second nature.  We start feeling good about ourselves more often than not.  When things are all hunky-dory, the process is easy.  But what happens when we hit a bump and don’t like our actions?  Like when we don’t face a fear (I recently chickened out of doing a high zipline), or we make a crucial mistake, or we act based on other’s opinions, or we gain a lot of weight, or we cause an accident, or we scold kids unnecessarily, or we lash out unreasonably at others?

We’ve got to find a way to be kind to and love ourselves amidst such obstacles because this is when it really counts; this is when it can make a huge difference in our lives.  This is what can move us past our fears and worries.  By knowing -and telling ourselves- that we are good and lovable even when we don’t appear to be, we tell fear and worry, there’s nothing to feel negative about because no matter how badly I messed up, I am still worthy of love.  Remember, unconditional love means we don’t require conditions to be a certain way to love ourselves.  Loving ourselves when we don’t like our actions is practicing unconditional love.  These are times to take a moment to refresh ourselves with how we increase our self-worth. See this link  Remember, we are forming a new habit, so it can take some extra time and thought and that is perfectly ok.

Maintaining Self-Worth

Now that we’ve gone through numerous ways to increase our self-worth, what happens when we don’t keep up with the practice or the ego has off-putting comments?  The other day, for instance, my ego said, ‘You are not good at this because you have to keep doing it every day.’  That got me down at first, but then I realized these interesting analogies with eating and exercising:

We don’t eat everything for the week on Monday and then say, I’m good to go for the rest of the week.  Obviously, to be in good health we need to eat every day.  The other analogy is regarding exercising.  Even when peak physical condition is reached (analogous to having high self-worth), such as for those that win marathons and Ironman races, they don’t say, ‘I reached physical perfection and I’ll just stay here now and not workout ever again’.  No, every day they must maintain their peak condition.

So the same goes with maintaining our self-worth.  We must think kind, loving thoughts about ourselves and acknowledge our strengths and affirm our talents every day.   Because we need to do this practice every day does not make us weak or wrong or unworthy.  Just as we aren’t weak or wrong because we need to eat every day, it simply is how being human works. And if we go a day without eating -whatever the reason- of course we wouldn’t berate ourselves.  We simply would begin eating again as soon as possible.  The same goes for maintaining our self-worth.  If we miss a day (or 2 or 30!) –whatever the reason- we simply begin again as soon as possible.

I have noticed that when I get in these not-loving-myself ruts, it is when my life is hectic (physically or mentally) and I have not taken time for myself.  I am reminded that no matter how busy we are, no matter what devastating crisis has come up, if we want to be joyful we must take time to just “be”.

Yep, I’m talking about meditation.  But that word can be somewhat daunting.  I used to think I had to meditate for a certain amount of time, two times a day, in a specific way – for example, with candles lit, specific type of music, fingers touching in a certain way, sitting with my back perfectly straight.  Guess what happened when I thought that…not much because I rarely would do it!  I realized intuitively that one minute of focusing on breathing is meditation. So rather than tell myself to meditate, I like to just say I am doing some deep breathing or being still (mentally) for a few minutes.

What happens when we are mentally still (usually during but sometimes not until afterwards) is that we feel calmer; we feel the connection to something bigger than ourselves; a connection to the Source from which we came; we are able to see the Forest for the trees.  With this, our ego worries and fears drift off.  This is not something that can be quantified or proven through the senses to satisfy the ego.  But it can be felt.  Give it a try today!