Hope is Always Available

Day 2 – Hope Is Always Available

“Hope is being able to see that there is light despite all of the darkness.” – Desmond Tutu

In today’s meditation, we learn that hope is an intrinsic part of who you are, like the love and compassion in your heart. But to make this hope a real and powerful force in life, we need to activate it with self-awareness. Once genuine hope is ignited, it transforms your reality and eradicates fear and uncertainty.

OPRAH:

Welcome to Day 2, “Hope is Always Available.”  Anything can be a miracle, a blessing, an opportunity, if you choose to see it that way.  When you see life through a lens of hope, everything can change.  This can be a challenging concept of practice when you’re in the center of a storm.  I know this is true.  I’ve had a few storms myself.  But what looks like a dark patch or a setback can actually be a beautiful turning point.  Hard to see it when you’re in it.  Maya always used to say, “There’s always a rainbow in the clouds”.

As Michael Bernard Beckwith said on Super Soul Sunday, “I can choose to feel love even when there’s conflict.  What happens I activate my choice muscle, expand my awareness, my life changes.”  Choice muscle…that’s a good concept.

 

When we’re faced with a difficult situation we always have the choice of two reactions…hope or despair.  When you choose hope you open your mind and heart and very naturally you begin to imagine other possibilities.  Are you facing significant life change like getting out of a bad relationship or starting a new job or trying to lose the burden of weight?  Well often we feel chaos or resistance in those moments.  What I do know for sure is that resistance will try to take you down.  So we often put off life-decisions because we don’t take the leap.  Deepak says, “Go for it now.  Hope lives in this moment and every moment.  Don’t waste another second.”

DEEPAK:

We’ve started the journey to make hope real and lasting in our lives.  The first thing to know is that hope is a quality that exists in consciousness, like love or joy.  When a situation looks hopeless we are not seeing clearly.  On its own consciousness is always life-supporting.  Every cell in the body nourishes and supports itself through the wisdom that evolved in our DNA.  Your awareness is just as life-supporting.  But if we make choices that are self-defeating or that deny reality, the mind can lose hope.  The way to heal any situation is to activate hope.  This happens here and now because hope is always a part of our present awareness.  Otherwise hope is mere wishing, which is a dream of the past or future.  Stop and think about the things you hope for at work, in relationships or from yourself.  You will find there is a spectrum of hope that runs from a casual “I hope so” to “My hope is my rock.”  A conviction born of trust and belief in yourself.

Where does such a solid foundation come from?  Your core self.  When you connect with your true-self as we do in meditation, hope develops more strength.  Then “I hope” begins to change your personal reality.  It eradicates fear of uncertainty.  As an example, consider your approach to love.  You may be waiting for the one to magically appear.  An ideal beloved who will make everything right.  You may be in a relationship where love is taken for granted or where the most loving part was at the beginning.  You may feel not enough love.

These are mild forms of hopelessness.  On the other hand a hopeful relationship to love is active and self-directed.  Instead of waiting for the one to magically appear, YOU become the one.  Instead of seeking love, you live and give the love you want by what you say and do.  In both the hopeless and hopeful relationships to love a person hopes to be loved.  Yet only in the second case is this hope active, strong and life-supporting.  At its strongest hope creates the outcome you want in any situation.  It carries the full power of intention.

CENTERING THOUGHT

The power of hope is here every day.

SANSKRIT MANTRA

Samprati Hum

My true self is wide awake.

DEE:

Today hope is a strong part of who I am.  And that comes from faith in having a power greater than myself in my life, a god of my own understanding.  And that hope comes from self-awareness.  I didn’t have hope, faith, a god, nor self-awareness until I reached my bottom in my disease of alcoholism.  I just existed on the planet with no purpose, no direction and a huge void in my life.

I don’t believe it was a coincidence when I finally had the desperation to ask for help.  I couldn’t go a day, no matter how much, how long and how hard I tried, to get through a day without drinking.  And that is when my life changed and I became a sponge soaking up this new way of living.

For me a 28-day treatment program and Alcoholics Anonymous has shown me the way to Dee, to understand Dee, to accept and embrace Dee, to love Dee.  And the new Dee has hope because my god is here with and for me to guide and protect me on my journey through life.  And my purpose is to share that with you in your periods of self-doubt and self-loathing, or just in a state of confusion.  We all go there.  We all get over-whelmed.

I just want to share with you that everything is perfect at this very moment.  Stay here.  In the moment.  Love yourself for YOUR gifts.  You have many!  Don’t compare yourself to anyone.  They don’t have YOUR gifts.  And remember that you are perfect just the way you are, right here, right now, on your journey through life.  Keep going.  Enjoy the ride.  Love yourself.  And never forget that you are not on this ride alone.  There are many of us who want to share your journey, to give you hope and compassion.  Don’t deprive us of that.  Please.

Aloha, Dee

For those interested in inspirational and motivational gifts with a message, please visit my website at http://www.DeesignsByHarris.com.

From Deepak Chopra and Oprah Winfrey’s 21-Day Meditation on HOPE.

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Faith Connects Us Heart-to-Heart

FAITH CONNECTS US HEART-TO-HEART

(from Oprah and Deepak – Become What You Believe)

OPRAH:

I believe our greatest power is our ability to love.  That’s where all power is…to show love, to receive it, to BE love.  There are a lot of ways to describe love.  It’s grace and kindness; it’s understanding; it’s forgiveness; it’s respect; it’s cooperation; it’s harmony and reverence for light.  You have the entire power of all that is at your disposal.

Love is trusting and having faith in something larger than yourself.  Every opportunity you get move in the direction of love.  That’s where your greatest power lies.  It’s the power to connect us all in peace…heart-to-heart.

As my friend, Marianne Williamson said, “Love is what we’re born with, in our hearts.  Fear is what we learn.”  The spiritual journey is the unlearning of fear and prejudices and the acceptance of love back in our hearts.  Love is the essential reality and our purpose being here on earth.  To be consciously aware of it, to experience love in ourselves and others, is the meaning of life.

Marianne goes on to articulate so beautifully the power of love when she says, “When our minds move in harmony with love, through forgiveness or prayer or the simplest tint of thought, then mountains move and the Universe shifts.”  When we believe in the power of love to move mountains to shift the Universe, miracles will no doubt occur.

DEEPAK:

The strongest imagined bond in the world is the bond of love.  A total transformation occurs when enemies are turned into loved ones.  In the World’s Wisdom Traditions love is deeply connected with spirit.  As the great Bengali poet Rabindranath Tagore wrote, “Love is the only reality and it is not a mere sentiment.  It is the ultimate truth that lies at the heart of creation.”

To find the heart of creation, you must explore your own heart.  Inside it are stores many experiences of love and non-love.  These two side are in conflict which is why many people find it difficult to place their faith in love.  They have had too many experiences of non-love.  Whether they were experiences of betrayal, rejection, fear or abandonment, trusting in love is hard when painful memories still linger.  That is why we restrict our search for love, in order to not be too exposed or vulnerable or put ourselves in harms way.  Matters of faith must be proven in real life.  This is certainly true of love when we go beyond the personal, expanding love to include more and more people.

The first step is to aspire and live as a loving person.  The second step is to look for situations where love can help.  The third step is to reach out and perform an act of love.

The ego is afraid to be exposed and vulnerable.  But this is a misperception.  An act of love doesn’t mean putting yourself on the line or saying “I love you” out loud.  It means performing an action that helps another person the way you would like to be helped.

Help can come even through a loving thought.  It can come through an act of generosity, an understanding word, or by simply asking, “Are you okay?”.  Your heart already knows what to do.  In fact when we extend ourselves, it is almost always from the fullness of the heart.  When you act out of love you expect nothing in return from the other person.  Love makes no one a victim or a martyr.  Love connects people from heart-to-heart with mutual benefit for both.

A mother finds it easy and natural to turn her love into action.  There is a connection of the heart that bonds mother and child.  Feeling vulnerable or exposed doesn’t come into the picture.  The bond of feeling is unbroken.  This is the idea to keep in mind in extending your love beyond your family and close friends.  Find a sympathy of the heart that feels right.  In this way you avoid stress and strain in the name of love.  A world based on the sympathy of one heart to another would be a perfect world.

CENTERING THOUGHT:  My faith calls me to love.

DEE:

When Oprah says, “Love is trusting and having faith in something larger than yourself”, my heart gets so grateful and full that today I have faith in something larger than myself.  This has changed my whole life, my outlook on life and, more importantly, this has changed ME.

I wasn’t given this life-changing gift until I reached my bottom in the disease of alcoholism, miraculously asked for help, and slowly scraped my way out of the depths of hell.  Prior to this surrender I knew my life was void of something but I couldn’t figure it out.  I had everything that every middle class American woman would want…a family, a home, two cars, a dog and a cat, a job, a loving family and friends.  What was missing?

A Power Greater Than Myself, a God of My Own Understanding, was awarded me by Alcoholics Anonymous.  Not only have I learned to turn my life over, I have learned to stop thinking and to live from my heart.  I have learned to let my god do the driving while I ride along in the passenger seat of our pink convertible Cadillac and enjoy the ride of life (the pink cloud).

When Marianne Williamson says, “Fear is what we learn”,  I thank my AA sponsor for walking me through the 12 Steps of Alcoholics Anonymous to teach me how fear-based I have been my entire life and how to let that go.  Being able to finally get comfortable in my own skin and to love myself for who and what I am is so empowering.  And to learn that my purpose is to share my experience, strength and hope with those who enter my bubble gives me a reason to excitedly arise every morning!

When Deepak says, “Matters of faith must be proven in real life.  This is certainly true of love when we go beyond the personal, expanding love to include more and more people,” I am honored to practice AA’s 12th Step, “Having had a spiritual awakening as a result of these steps, we tried to carry this message to others, and practice these principles in all our affairs,” in my everyday “real” life.  When I continue to stay active in my recovery, then Step 12 is a no-brainer for me and I can actively accomplish Deepak’s three steps above.

I know for a fact that as I got and stayed sober “One Day at a Time”, I got “unsober’ that way as well.  When I ceased attending meetings, working with my sponsor, picking up the phone, connecting with the fellowship, that void came back into my life.  And, oh yeah, I picked up a drink after over 13 years of sobriety.  The disease immediately reared its ugly head and once again took over my life.  All I could think about once again was the next drink.  Cunning.  Baffling.  Powerful.  The disease of alcoholism.

So don’t go there.  Take it from me.  Learn from my experience, strength and hope.  Stay mindful.  Stay connected.

With much aloha, Dee

For those interested in inspirational gifts, art with a message, please visit my website at http://www.DeesignsByHarris.com.

HOW TO LET LIFE FLOW

Day 14 – How to Let Life Flow 

“Let everything happen to you, beauty and terror. Just keep going.” – Rainer Maria Rilke
Today’s meditation is about learning to let your life flow without resistance or effort. Living in the flow is not something you figure out, or practice to get right. Living in the flow is a state of consciousness; it is the natural consequence of being self-aware in the moment. In that state of expansive, open, accepting awareness there is no feeling of lack or sense of threat. So there is no need to defend yourself, be aggressive, or resist in order to feel safe and complete. To live in the present is to flow with the universe.

Dee:

Living in the flow is something I learned to do once I was in recovery.  I learned a whole new way of life…to live from my heart, rather than from my brain.  Until getting clean and sober I rationalized everything.  As an intellectual human being I “thought” that the brain controlled everything, that whatever I set my mind to, I could get.  My mind could not get me sober.  Letting my mind go and living from my heart, in the flow, got me sober.

Oprah:

Welcome to Day 14, our final day in week two – How to Let Life Flow.  One of my favorite words right now is “flow”.  Have you ever heard an athlete, artist or musician describe what it’s like to be in the zone?  They use words like tunnel vision, complete calm, or ultra-focus.  Some even liken it to a spiritual experience, a state of elevated awareness where time feels like it’s slowed down or completely falls away.  Most of us have been in the zone at one point in our lives.  It’s that exhilarating stretch when you know you’ve found the most powerful current and everything just seems to fall into place.

Dee:

In the zone brings back an entirely different experience to me.  When I was still very active in my disease, I offered to babysit my neighbors’ child.  When they brought her to my house I had been drinking, probably most of the day.  I don’t remember.  All I remember is that I didn’t babysit.  I really don’t remember that as I was in a blackout.  But my kids told me that they came…and they left.

I hate blackouts.  Not knowing what I did is the most awful, gut-wrenching feeling.  “Fishing” for clues is a horrible task.  I could never say that “I drank too much, can’t remember what I did, please tell me.”

Quite a long time later when I was sober and working my steps I got the guts to visit my neighbors, to make my amends.  Gut-wrenching again.  Fishing again.  They told me that when they brought their daughter over so they could enjoy a nice dinner together they found me “zoned” out.  Thus, in the zone holds a different meaning to me.

So then, what causes us to get off track or feeling like we’re suddenly swimming upstream?  Basketball legend Lebron James is considered one of the most intensely focused competitors to ever play the game.  And I once asked Lebron what could possible cause an MVP like him to lose his rhythm on the court.  His response was profound.  He said, “I get off my game when I start playing for others rather than playing for myself.”

This is true for all of us.  We fall off-course the minute our intention shifts from following our heart to responding to what we think others believe.  Spiritual teachers call that mindset “egoic”.  It’s that false self creeping in, constantly trying to take us down, or to prove, or to show, or to show off.  When that happens do what you can to find and follow your flow again,  That’s what I teach all of my girls.

Dee:

Throughout most of my life I was a people-pleaser.  I know now that I was not comfortable in my own skin.  I did not know who and what I was.  I had no purpose.  I had no Higher Power.  I was living from my brain and not from my heart.  I did not love myself.  Thus I would do whatever it took to make you feel highly of me because I didn’t.  I would put you first, before my family and, definitely, before me.

Today, in recovery, I know, I feel, that I no longer have to do that.  I am finally comfortable in my own skin and even love myself for who and what I am…an alcoholic in recovery who has a Higher Power, who has a purpose to carry the message of experience, strength and hope, who can live from my heart…the flow…and stay out of my head.

If you’re in a situation where you feel out of place, uncomfortable, or it’s just not coming together, change direction; find your flow.  Follow the natural rhythm of your own life and you will find a force far beyond your own because you’re connecting to the force.  That’s all there is.

Let’s listen to Deepak teach us to let life flow and then we’ll meditate.

Deepak:

Change is inevitable, as we all realize, but we accept some changes while resisting others.  We push for the outcomes we like and reject the ones we dislike.  We hold expectations that some major event, getting married, having a child, earning a promotion, will make everything better.  And when things don’t turn out the way we anticipated we are disappointed.  These patterns of expectations and disappointment stop the flow of life, as many people experience on a daily basis.

Dee:

I love the slogan I learned in AA, “No expectations, no disappointments.”  Going with the flow is a way better, easier, freer way to live!

The opposite of flow is resistance, pushing against what is happening right now for your desired outcome.  Flow is about living without preconceptions or resistance.  However, people will say, “Sometimes I have to resist if I face a situation that is harmful or headed for failure.”

But flow isn’t about passively giving in to everything and, certainly, not giving way to negativity and failure.  Instead flow involves a trust in life to bring what is needed.  In any given situation you are open and offer no resistance.  If the present moment calls for strength, it arises.  If the present moment calls for a creative breakthrough or comment that soothes tension, it arises.

Dee:

Recovery has gifted me with a Power Greater Than Myself, a God of My Own Understanding.  It has taken many “one day at a time”s to be able to trust, surrender to, accept and embrace this Power.  But I have experienced time and time again that if I do trust and let things happen, if I turn off the self-will and control, that things do happen greater than I could ever have anticipated.  I do get what I need, not what I want.  It’s so perfect!

Any and all responses, including love, insight, truth, creativity and kindness, are available when you’re in the flow.  There is no cut and dry response.  You are as flexible in your response as life itself.

Clearly the way of life ingrained by society isn’t like this.  We are trained to have automatic reactions.  We feel safe behind the familiar boundaries the ego has created.  Being totally open without expectations may initially sound threatening.  But in meditation we experience that this open, unbounded awareness is safe.  In fact, contrary to the ego the only place without fear is total openness.  It is the place where the present moment can do whatever it likes because we are secure in ourselves.  We don’t need to defend our ego boundaries and we don’t suffer because our expectations weren’t met.

Living in the flow is an experience that needs to be nurtured and understood firsthand.  There are definite stages of letting go…working through old fears, dropping your fixed reactions and learning the art of allowing.  As the ego loses its grip a more holistic way of life evolves.  Only in wholeness can there be flow.  Achieving this new state involves a journey into a new conception of time.

Dee:

Yet another reminder from the word “wholeness”.  While in a 21-day treatment program every morning in Group we were required to introduce ourselves and say an affirmation.  My affirmation was, “I am a good person.  I am a whole person”.  Wow.  This brings back so much transitioning from active alcoholic to grateful alcoholic in recovery.

I hated myself.  I looked myself in the mirror every morning physically putting the letter “L” on my forehead because I was a loser; I could not go a day without drinking.  I felt like shit.  I was a waste of space on the planet.  I had no purpose.  I was so not “a good person” nor “a whole person”.

Is it odd or is it God that today much of my business comes from mosaic affirmations, motivational and inspirational quotes.  And I get to share with customers and people who enter my “Dee bubble” how I got started with affirmations, if they inquire.  They love it.  I love it!  The rigorous honesty.  The openness.

As we prepare to meditate together let’s take a moment to consider our centering thought, “I let my life flow without resistance.  I let my life flow without resistance.”  Now let’s prepare for our meditation.  Make yourself comfortable and close your eyes.  Begin to be aware of your breath and just breathe, slowly and deeply.  With each breath allow yourself to become more deeply relaxed.

Now gently introduce the mantra, “Aham Brahmasmi.  Aham Brahmasmi.”  This mantra  means my individuality is the totality of life.  It reveals that our present moment awareness is always in relationship to everything and everyone in the universe.  Repeat it silently to yourself, “Aham Brahmasmi.  Aham Brahmasmi.  Aham Brahmasmi.”  With each repetition feel your body, mind and spirit open into an expanded state of awareness.  Whenever you find yourself distracted by thoughts, noises, or physical sensations, simply return your attention to silently repeating the mantra, “Aham Brahmasmi.  Aham Brahmasmi.  Aham Brahmasmi.”

CENTERING THOUGHT

I let my life flow without resistance.

SANSKRIT MANTRA

Aham Brahmasmi
The true nature of myself is the wholeness of the universe.

Dee:

Mahalo for your time in sharing this meditation experience with me.  This is one small way I get to share my purpose…sharing my Experience, Strength and Hope.  If I don’t give it away, I can’t keep what was so freely given me when I needed it most.

Aloha, Dee

For those interested in my mosaic affirmations please check out my website at www.DeesignsByHarris.com.  Mahalo and have a great day!

From Deepak and Oprah’s 21-Day Meditation Series, “Making Every Moment Matter”, a Chopra Center Meditation.

Where Does the Time Go?

WHERE DOES THE TIME GO?

“Consciousness is beyond time, consciousness is timelessness.” – Osho

Over these next three weeks, we will explore that state of awareness in which every moment matters. The pressures of our family, jobs, and relationships can make us feel that we don’t have enough time to do the things that are important to us, sometimes leading to a sense of being unfulfilled.

Together we will discover that we don’t get true fulfillment through time management, but rather by living in the here and now. Wisdom traditions tell us that the present moment is outside of clock time; it is the eternal now. This Meditation Experience will show you how to thrive in the world of time when you live from your timeless self.  In the following weeks, we will learn how to embrace time as the realm of self-awareness, self-unfolding, and total inner fulfillment.

In today’s meditation, we learn that time is really about fulfillment. Using your time well comes down to how fulfilled you are in the present moment. When we feel content and centered inside, everything we do is more effective, efficient, and satisfying. On our meditation journey together, we will experience and understand that when we manage the time demands of our life from our timeless self, then every moment of life matters.

Dee:

Right here, right now, is perfect.  I sit listening to this meditation.  Typing it really solidifies it for me.  And then I get to share it.  I feel content.  I feel light.  The to-do list of my day pops in and out of my head, but this is what is in front of me right here, right now.  Taking some time for Dee will make a Dee a better person today.

Oprah:

Deepak and I welcome you to our 21-Day Meditation Experience…Making Every Moment Matter.  Like so many of you I, too, have struggled with time management.  How to honor my own time as well as the time that belongs to the people in my life.

In the coming weeks we’ll look beyond how we perceive the limitations of time.  We’ll learn how to release the power of the almighty “to do” list, reframe the constant state of “busy”, and replace those stress points with life-changing lessons in how to make every moment count.

In week one we will gain a new understanding of the principles of time in order to relieve the all too familiar anxiety of racing against the clock.  In week two we’ll explore how our perception of time is deeply affected by the wounds of our past.  By learning to let go of that angst we’ll experience how living in the moment can bring an entirely new meaning to the hours, minutes, and seconds of the day.

And finally in week three time is expanded as we understand how breathing in the depth of each moment sharpens our experience until the pressure of time is lifted all while our productivity increases.

Welcome to Day 1, “Where Does the Time Go?”  Let’s begin our first day answering the age-old question, “Where does the time go?”.  I’ve come to believe that busyness is the catch phrase, in fact a trap for all of us in these times.  Some people are so weighed down by the pressure to finish tasks, to meet goals, and check off the box that they’re folding into themselves.  Others wear their overwhelming schedule like a beleaguered badge of honor, and still more allow resentment to take hold until all those “to do’s” start to feel like “have to’s” and life quickly, as we know, spins out of control.

I remember talking with Tina Turner after she retired from her legendary music career.  She was newly married to her long time love and living in Switzerland.  She told me that despite all of the rock star attention, the awards and accolades her life onstage brought her, it also could be depleting.  Tina told me her last tour took every ounce of energy out of her but she stayed focused on the greater purpose; she knew eventually that life on the road would lead her home.  Not just to her house, but the place where she decided she wanted to be.

This was a great lesson for me.  At the time I was traveling over two-hundred days out of the year for interviews, a movie I was filming, for meetings to support the O Network.  And, like Tina, I was exhausted.  But I had not yet decided for myself what was worthy of my time.  Instead of listening to the signs along the way I started to feel overwhelmed and frustrated until finally I was no longer able to fully focus on all there was to do.

I made a proclamation to myself, finally, and to those around me that this was not the life I envisioned for myself.  I knew I was the one who had to determine what mattered most, create a different relationship with the time in my day, and allow for space in every day to restore myself.   By doing that I found freedom and maybe a few extra moments.

Dee:

In 1998 I realized that this was not the life I envisioned for myself.  It wasn’t about time or busyness.  Is was about my alcoholism.  Every moment of everyday during this part of my journey through life was focused only on the next drink.  When can I have it (is right now appropriate or will I be found out)?  Where can I buy it (did I buy there yesterday and what will they think)?  Do I have responsibilities that will be affected if I drink now (will I be fired if a co-worker smells alcohol on my breath)?

I was forced into a proclamation to myself when I didn’t show up for work.  Too drunk.  I was found out.  That was the life-changing moment for me, my bottom, when I finally had to ask for help.  My life has continued to improve since that day…

Today I feel exactly as Tina did during our conversation.  These are my glory days, this moment, this one, right now.  Your journey to make peace with time also begins now.  Let’s listen to Deepak and then we will meditate together.

Deepak:

What was the best time of your life?  If you can say, “Right now is the best time of my life” you are saying something that comes naturally to everyone when their inner life is fulfilled.  Fulfillment is what time is all about because fulfillment is what life is about.  Without inner fulfillment time isn’t on your side.

Dee: 

I really can say that right now is the best time of my life.  I wouldn’t go back one day, one minute.  I have a contentment in recovery that I never had before.  I am freer and finally comfortable in my own skin.

But that does not mean I am not going crazy right now running my own business, getting ready for the holiday selling, cleaning the house for holiday visitors, trying to get everything done so that I can enjoy my company and be my best when I’m out selling.  

I’ve been working around the clock taking time only for sleep and a bit of eating.  This is not how I usually fly.  Taking time out to listen to this meditation series and writing this blog is exactly what I need to get me back centered before getting back to a long night of work.

This redefines time management.  Instead of being about scheduling, being on time, meeting deadlines, and getting everything you want to do for yourself and with your family and friends, time management is about how you feel inside.  It’s about a state of awareness that has made time an ally on your personal path to fulfillment.

When we look at the clock and say with exasperation, “Where did the time go?”, the real question should be, “Where did the opportunities go?”  When you manage time from the inside opportunities aren’t missed.  You are less frustrated and frantic.  But when you manage time poorly every day is a race against the clock.  This, too, is an inner choice, not the fault of time running out.  At any time of the day you can feel stressed or relaxed.  Like you’re standing still or moving forward.

Dee:

Tonight when I go to bed I know I can be proud that I did the best I could.  I will never be perfect, but doing the best I can is always reassuring.  And being humbled and grateful for these accomplishments really gets me back in the moment.  I am not in control.  I have a Power Greater Than Myself to guide me and watch over me letting me know that everything is going just the way it’s supposed to.

Most people don’t recognize this choice and, therefore, let the rush of daily events dictate their mood and behavior.  Of course there are external stresses and unexpected setbacks, but really the difference between a good day and a bad day is the inner world of the person who’s having it.

We must first address some basic issues about time so that you can feel on top of things instead of never knowing where time goes.  We all heard the adage about taking time to stop and smell the roses.  Good advice.  But it would be far better to be the gardener who grows the roses and lives with them constantly.

The Worlds Wisdom Traditions have pondered and taught the mystery of time for centuries.  The first teaching was presented today.  Look inward.  What’s important isn’t the hours and minutes of the clock, but your experience.  How you relate to the passage of time makes all the difference and, ultimately, it will define how well you live in the present moment, how you age, your sense of fulfillment, and the satisfaction of a life well spent.

As we prepare to meditate together let’s take a moment to consider our centering thought, “The best time of my life is now.”  “The best time of my life is now.”  Now let’s prepare for our meditation.  Make yourself comfortable and close your eyes.  Begin to be aware of your breath and just breathe slowly and deeply.  Within yourself allow yourself to become more deeply relaxed.

Now gently introduce the mantra, “So Hum.”  “So Hum.”  This mantra means “I am” and connects our awareness to the timeless simplicity of our true self.  Pure awareness.  Repeat it silently to yourself.  “So Hum.”  “So Hum.”  “So Hum.”  With each repetition feel your body, mind and spirit open into an expanded state of awareness.

Whenever you find yourself distracted by thoughts, noises or physical sensations, simply return your attention to silently repeating the mantra, “So Hum.”  “So Hum.”  “So Hum.”

CENTERING THOUGHT

The best time of my life is now.

SANSKRIT MANTRA

So Hum

I am.

Dee:

The best time of my life is now.  So Hum.  I am.  I am the best Dee I can be.  I am not alone.  I am a good person and a whole person (my affirmation I said every day in group while I was in a treatment program).  I surely am a good person and a whole person which is night and day of the person who entered rehab in 1998 and hated herself.  I have a purpose to share with you today that you are the best you can be right here, right now, and that is perfect!

Aloha, Dee

For those interested in Inspirational and Motivational Art with a Message, please check out my website at www.DeesignsByHarris.com for great affirmations and quotes.  Mahalo and have a great day!

From Deepak and Oprah’s 21-Day Meditation Series “Making Every Moment Matter”, from the Chopra Center.

NO REGRETS: 10 WAYS TO START EACH DAY WITH A CLEAN SLATE

No Regrets: 10 Ways to Start Each Day with a Clean Slate 

By Tamara Lechner

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“Forget regret, or life is yours to miss”—Jonathan Larson

There’s a Buddhist parable called The Second Arrow. The story explains that in life, pain is inevitable. You will experience the pain of loss, betrayal, diagnosis, or grief. The pain is likened to being shot by an arrow and is outside of your personal control. However, when you get stuck pulling on the arrow and complaining about the arrow to show people that you have been shot, the subsequent pain, anger, and suffering is entirely your fault. This is the second arrow.

Living a fully present life keeps you from rehashing your mistakes, your breakups, and the job you should have taken. It allows peace of mind. You may know this already and yet pain from the past intrudes on your present- day happiness. Here are a few tips to help you avoid the second arrow.

1. Practice Gratitude

Being truly grateful keeps you in the moment. When you focus your attention on something or someone, your feelings of reverence will keep you in the moment. Gratitude (http://www.chopra.com/articles/how-to- develop-a-gratitude-mindset) happens in the now, no matter when the experience that you are grateful for actually happened.

Dee:

That I “get to” wake up every morning, rather than “come to” after a night of substance abuse, and wake up excited to greet the day, is something for which I shall be eternally grateful.  Coming out of decades of an exhausting substance abuse nightmare has taught me how grateful I am to be right here, right now, in recovery.  Recovery is my priority as is turning my life and will over to a Power Greater Than Myself.  Life has got fuller, more meaningful, and easier.  I have a purpose today to share my experience, strength and hope with others who don’t have it yet.

2. Make a No “What Ifs” Rule

Spinning on what might have been keeps you from moving forward. Your thoughts may seem to circle back again and again to the things you think you could or should have done differently. When you catch yourself thinking a “what if,” just recognize that you didn’t and move forward.

(http://www.chopra.com/live-events/weekend-within)

Dee:

I really feel today that everything happens for a reason.  The good, the bad, the ugly have all brought me to where I am in the present moment.  I am always in transition; I shall be a different person 5 minutes from now.  And I continue to learn and grow from everything that occurs within and around me.  I shall live with the “glass half full” mentality and positively move forward to be the best I can be.

3. Reframe Your Past to Make You the Hero in Your Life Story

You may tell your story in a way that doesn’t paint a flattering picture. Try to rethink your scenario in a way that has you in a position of power. For example, if you regret not going to college, instead of continuing to tell a story of regret, decide to either make a plan to get to college or to tell a story that supports the path you chose instead.

Dee:

I no longer regret that I am an alcoholic.  I no longer live in shame.  Recovery from alcoholism has created a new me.  I’m a person comfortable in my own skin, who understands what makes me tick.  I no longer have to react.  I no longer have to understand everything.  I can let go and let God, live in the moment, be humble and grateful.  Again, I feel this life journey has happened just the way it was supposed to, to make me this content and light-hearted being that I am today.  I can simplify my life and prioritize the handful of people, places and things that are meaningful.

4. Get Physical

Take a dance class or a yoga class, or give surfing or rollerblading a go. When you choose an activity that requires your focus to balance or to learn a sequence of motions, your brain will be busy doing something other than ruminating on your past.

Dee:

I have recently joined a gym that offers yoga and a wealth of other classes.  The hour or so I spend there is just for me.  I leave my head and my thoughts at the door.  And I take the time to chisel the fascia off my bones from years of neglect.  The pile of life that was and will always be on my plate is still there but nibbling away at it, one morsel at a time, seems actually kind of fun with my new mindset after a good workout.

5. Make a to-Do List

Having a plan for today keeps you from feeling ungrounded. If you fill your day with meaningful tasks (http://www.chopra.com/articles/5-reasons-to-never-ditch-your-to-do-list), you will have something to keep you from falling back into the pattern of regret.

Dee:

I have good days and I have bad days.  So my goal is to just cross three things a day off my To-Do List that goes on into eternity.  It feels so good to cross off three accomplishments.  Then it feels great to cross off one or two more if that is where I’m being called by my heart to do.  Three things is easy; three-hundred is overwhelming.

6. Go Outside

Nature is like a natural reset button on your brain. The chemicals it releases when you get fresh air and sunshine help to overcome the ones released when you are sad, angry, or anxious. Use nature to sweep away the negative.

Dee:

I am so blessed to work in my back patio.  Feeling the breeze as if God were wrapping His arms around me gets me grounded.  Being in tune with the birds helps to quiet the din in my crazy mind.  Most of my day is spent out here and my creative juices get nourished.  But even when I’m away from home I get outside daily.  It’s like a meditation or new scenery or a new outlook on life.

7. Remember, Happiness is a Choice

In every moment, you have the choice to be happy. Victor Frankl, Austrian neurologist and psychiatrist who survived the Holocaust and founded the “Third Viennese School of Psychotherapy,” is quoted as saying, “Everything can be taken from a man but one thing: the last of the human freedoms—to choose one’s attitude in any given set of circumstances, to choose one’s own way.” If you are choosing regret as a pattern, consciously make the decision to replace regret with a different emotion. Happiness (http://www.chopra.com/articles/where-do-you-stack-up-on-the-happiness-scale), hope, excitement, or curiosity are a few good ones.

Dee:

Living with a positive mindset sure beats the other option.  It changes EVERYTHING!  Even when tragedy occurs keeping a positive outlook rather than sitting on that pity-pot allows forward movement.  And who wants to go back?  I wouldn’t go back one day!

8. Start with a Mantra or Affirmation

If your day begins with a thought like, “Today is the first day of the rest of my life” or “I’m excited for what today will bring,” it keeps your focus on the present and future. Choose a positive affirmation (http://www.chopra.com/articles/daily-affirmations-your-hour-by-hour-positivity-plan) to start each day.

Dee:

I still go back to 1998.  I was in a 21-day alcohol treatment program in Reno, Nevada.  Our days were rigorously scheduled from sunup to sundown and beyond.  In a group community session we started each day stating an affirmation.  I made up “I am a good person; I am a whole person.”  At that time after decades of an exhausting journey of substance abuse, I felt anything but good or whole.  I was a horrible mother, horrible wife, horrible person.  I was a waste of space on the planet.  I didn’t know why I was even here.  I hated myself and looked in the mirror with my hand shaped like an “L” on my forehead and called myself a loser.

Today “I am a good person; I am a whole person” is still my mantra, my affirmation.  And today I feel good in my skin; I love myself for who and what I am at this very moment.  I embrace my journey and my past and my future.  This didn’t come overnight.  One day at a time, just like in Alcoholics Anonymous.  Everything in baby steps.  Be kind to yourself.

9. End with a Highlight Reel

Getting to sleep can be difficult if your thoughts keep circling to what could have been. Try counting your blessings instead of counting sheep. It makes for a nice transition from waking to sleeping state and sets your mind up to begin positively the next morning.

Dee:

Again, baby steps.  It takes practice and patience to get to the place of living positively, gratefully, humbly.  But it’s sure worth the time and effort to get to the place where “there are no big deals”.  Everything is perfect at this moment.  Be joyful.

10. Avoid Comparing

Social media like Facebook or LinkedIn has a way of showing you the highlight reel of your friends’ lives. Make sure you don’t compare their highlights (http://www.chopra.com/articles/comparing-yourself-again-4-tips-to- survive-social-media-envy) to your unedited version.

Life isn’t a contest. Wherever you are at this time is exactly perfect for you; otherwise, you wouldn’t be there. Discover Deepak Chopra’s daily habits to find peace and happiness—no matter what is going on in your life—at our Weekend Within retreat. Learn More. (https://www.chopra.com/live-events/weekend-within/).

Dee:

Unlike the new focusing on the bad happening in the world, social media mainly focuses on the good.  We rarely see the good the mankind is accomplishing in the world.  It doesn’t sell news.  We rarely experience the tragedies, depression, heart-ache our friends are going through on social media.  There’s a time and place for sharing those feelings and social media is not the place.  That’s why in AA we have a fellowship and we have sponsors who know us, love us, understand us and don’t judge us.  So don’t compare yourself with those on social media.  You haven’t walked in their shoes now know the whole story…  Just love yourself for who you are today, share the gifts that God gave you with the world, and know that everything is perfect at this very moment…especially YOU!!!

Aloha, Dee

For those interested in inspiring Art with a Message of Hope and Inspiration, please visit my website at www.DeesignsByHarris.com.  Mahalo and have a “be kind to yourself” day!

About the Author

Tamara Lechner (/bios/tamara-lechner) Certified Instructor: Meditation

Tamara Lechner is a happiness expert and Chopra-Certified Primordial Sound Meditation (/articles/what-is- primordial-sound-meditation) Instructor. Her mission is to be so happy that those around her cannot help but step into her light. She enjoys writing, speaking, and teaching about how a positive mindset affects business, relationships, health, and life satisfaction. Tamara is often found throwing epic parties or walking barefoot in the sand. Join her on The Happiness Trajectory (http://www.ahamoments4u.com/free-online–the-happiness- trajectory.html), a free online mindset reboot, or find out more about her at… Read more (/bios/tamara-lechner)

LAUGHTER MEDITATION: 5 HEALING BENEFITS AND A 10-MINUTE PRACTICE

Laughter Meditation: 5 Healing Benefits and a 10-Minute Practice
By Melissa Eisler

In a world where there’s much to be taken seriously, it’s important to remember to laugh. Not to make light of the severity of war, discrimination, terror threats, or climate change, but to maintain a perspective that there is still much to be thankful for and to celebrate in your life.

Laughter meditation is an effective and easy way to create this balance. If you’ve done it, you likely understand its healing benefits (http://www.textbooks.com/Healing-Benefits-of- Acupressure/9780879835361/Fred-M-Houston.php). If you haven’t, you might be a little skeptical of its power to improve your mood and awaken your inner child. Before writing it off as an off-the-wall meditation practice, take a look at the benefits laughter meditation can bring to your life.

Whether you’re looking for an escape from the somber state of the world, or just wanting to reengage a part of you that’s been dormant—accessing joy, pleasure, and connection—practice laughter meditation and embrace all it has to offer your mind, body, and spirit.

Dee:

How do you see the glass?  Half full or half empty or even refillable?  Today I try to live my life looking at people, places and things in a positive way.  Even with the severities we have occurring all around us on a daily basis, we need to be mindful of the moment right in front of us.  We need to acknowledge our gifts and our journeys that have made us better human beings.  We need to be grateful for what we have and not focus on what we haven’t.  I oftentimes use laughter to change my mood and attitude to get back into that positive mindset.  I love being a kid, acting like a kid, laughing and playing like a kid!

Here are five healing benefits of laughter meditation.

Presence 

As with most meditation practices, laughter meditation provides an opportunity to slow down and be present in your life. With your smartphone usually within arm’s reach, it’s easy to be somewhere physically, but at the same time be somewhere else mentally. With human nature always planning for the future or analyzing the past, it’s hard to maintain a sense of awareness where you are right now. The truth is, your body can never be anywhere but present. Bring your mind and spirit into that same realm.

When you practice laughter meditation, the main focus of your meditation is to laugh. There are no objects to concentrate on or visualizations to take you elsewhere. You simply laugh. Once you become aware of your body while laughing—how your belly moves in and out, or your head moves side to side— you become aware of your surroundings and ground yourself in the present moment.

Dee:

When I meditate my thoughts usually interfere with my focus on breathing and mind-clarity.  The same happens when I practice laughter meditation.  I embrace those thoughts and thank my Higher Power for them and then ask that they be taken away, whisked away on a cloud.  Then I get back to meditation…until the next random thoughts.

Lightness 

The world can sometimes seem like a dark, cruel place. There is so much pain and hurt happening across continents that it can be easy to slip into the belief that you need to take life seriously. This can translate into taking yourself too seriously. After all, there is much to be done to create peace and balance in the world.

While there is nothing wrong with seeing problems and figuring out a way to fix them, making sure you’re doing a stand-up job at work, or taking care of your family, issues can arise when you do all these things with a heaviness of spirit. There is a cost when you don’t give yourself the opportunity to experience pleasure, fun, and frivolity, and laughter meditation can help. When you sit on the floor or stand in a room and simply start laughing, you can’t take yourself too seriously—it’s not possible. Laughter meditation invites you to set aside your serious “adult” ways and enjoy being funny, helping you to remember the important element of lightness.

Dee:

Again, focus on and live in the moment.  Even if briefly, do some laughter meditation.  No one cares.  No one is judging.  And if so, don’t give a shit.  Be you.  Love you.  Right now.  And remember all the negativity with which we are bombarded in the news is what sells news.  Only a small percentage is the feel-good stuff that we need to remember is happening everyday, everywhere.  And when we do witness the tragedies occurring on this planet, remember the comraderie, empathy, compassion and love that has come about from these incidents.

Connection 

It’s easy with technology to “connect” with others via social media, or perhaps you have a handful of acquaintances through work, but take a step back and assess how intentional you are with truly connecting with someone else.

Laughter meditation can provide an opportunity to connect with someone in a fun, meaningful way. While it can be practiced alone or with others, when others are involved, you forge a connection that truly celebrates the joy in life. It can be intimidating to practice laughter meditation with another person because you probably don’t want to look foolish. But once you enter into that space, you have an immediate support system because they too will probably feel the same way.

Dee:

Being an active member in Alcoholics Anonymous I get to laugh so much at hearing some of the most incomprehensible demoralizing things we’ve done.  Some are truly tragic but, together, we’ve come out of it and don’t dwell on it.  On the contrary we are so grateful to have made it to the other side and to experience and share the joys of recovery…together!

Stress Reduction 

When anxiety rears its ugly head, it steals the joy from your life. Anxiety can hijack your emotions and sabotage any effort you make to live a balanced, peaceful, and harmonious life. There are many ways you can combat anxiety, including medication, exercise, and mindfulness, but an easy and often overlooked method is laughing.

Laughter has been proven to help decrease anxiety, stress, and depression (https://www.omicsonline.org/open-access/effects-of-laughter-therapy-on-anxiety-stress-depression- and-quality-of-life-in-cancer-patients-1948-5956-1000362.php?aid=60533), while increasing quality of life. In fact, laughter can actually alter dopamine and serotonin activity (http://www.laughteronlineuniversity.com/laughter-scares-depression-anxiety-boosts-moodstates/) in your brain, offering a noninvasive and non-pharmacological option for dealing with stress and depression. Next time you’re feeling overwhelmed, make time to practice laughter meditation and harness the power of its healing benefits (http://www.textbooks.com/Healing-Benefits-of- Acupressure/9780879835361/Fred-M-Houston.php).

Dee:

Don’t you love a good comedy?  I remember watching Bad Dogs over and over and laughing so hard my face hurt.  Good tear-jerker laughter that you’re crying.  I feel so much lighter after a good laugh just like a good workout that alters my dopamine and serotonin, but way more fun!

Emotional Release

Emotions are not meant to stay bottled up. Quite the contrary, the release of emotions is critical to your overall well-being. In a world where you feel hurried and are rushing around from one commitment to the next, it can be hard to create the space to let your emotions bubble to the surface.

Laughter meditation provides an opportunity to access your emotions in a creative way. By just focusing on laughing, you’re concentrating on the release of a major emotion, which can open the door to other major emotions like sadness, anger, and fear. At the end of your laughter meditation practice, take some time for stillness and silence. Be open to what comes up, including other emotions. This can be a powerful way to deal with underlying thoughts and feelings that you may not realize you have or have gone unnoticed (either intentionally or unintentionally).

Dee:

I feel so blessed to be part of the AA Fellowship where I learned and have experienced that I am never alone.  I never have to let my emotions bottle up.  Sharing helps take the power about whatever my woes may be.  And I have an awesome husband who will listen to my issues and give me honest feedback.  Rigorous honesty and communication with no hesitation is icing on the cake of recovery!

10-Minute Laughter Meditation 

Laughter meditation is one of the easiest forms of meditation. You’ll start by stretching your body, then you’ll practice laughing and end with silence. Follow these simple steps and reap the benefits of this healing practice:

1.1-2 minutes: Stand with your feet hip-width apart and stretch your arms high above your head. Rock your body side-to-side from your torso, then bend over and touch your hands to your feet. Next, massage your jaw and yawn at least two times to loosen your mouth and relax the muscles in your jaw.

2.3-5 minutes: Find a comfortable position to sit or stand. Start by slightly smiling and then begin laughing without too much effort. Move to deep belly laughs. (Hint: try different types of laughs to encourage your true laugh to come through. Even if it begins as a forced feeling, most people find the forced laughter catalyzes authentic laughter in no time.)

3.3-5 minutes: Sit or lie on the floor in stillness and silence. Be mindful of what comes up for you—how your body feels, emotions that present themselves, and thoughts that arise. (Optional: share what comes up with a trusted friend or write it down in a journal.)

Dee:

Try doing your laughter in front of a mirror or with a friend.  Good fun!  And remember that all is perfect at this very moment…that you are perfect…that you are a gift!  And be grateful for what is in front of you…right here…right now!

Aloha, Dee

For those interested in Inspirational (and Funny) Gifts with a Message, please visit my website at www.DeesignsByHarris.com.  Mahalo and have a fun day!

Slow down and tune into the joy that surrounds you with Deepak Chopra (https://www.amazon.com/Deepak-Chopra-Dream-Weaver-3-0/dp/B01CIEJ2AO) and Chopra Center master educators at our signature yoga and meditation retreat, Seduction of Spirit. Learn More.

From Laughter Meditation: 5 Healing Benefits and a 10-Minute Practice | The Chopra Center

Follow Your Passion in 4 Steps

Follow Your Passions in 4 Steps

By Nicolette Stinson

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Following your passions sounds incredibly exciting and enticing. “Leave behind this soul-sucking job? Yes, please!” Wouldn’t you want to spend your days and nights doing the things you are most passionate about?

As you prepare to make the leap, suddenly Steve Jobs quotes fill your social feed and Katy Perry’s song “Firework” is on your playlist 24/7; it’s great. Then you have to take that first uncomfortable step and you’re face to face with a major fear. Eventually things get uncomfortable on the passion path. You will inevitably rub up against limitations and things won’t always go exactly as expected. In these moments it is vital be able to access your confidence and be courageous.

Dee:  Four years ago I made that leap.  A lot was happening in my life at that time.  I had just got back into recovery again after being clean and sober for 13-1/2 years.  But when I made the move to Hawaii three years prior, I failed to get back into meetings and fellowship and sharing my Experience, Strength and Hope.  I failed to be around newcomers.  I failed to remember who and what I was and where I came from.  I failed…  

My husband had recently made the move from the Mainland to join me in Hawaii.  I was here over two years on my own.  It was the first time in our 30+ years of marriage that we were together as man and wife without children and without drugs and alcohol.  Did we even know each other?  Did we like each other?

The negativity in my head was becoming apparent.  It started to spew from my mouth to customers in Self-Check Out where I worked at a grocery store.  I failed to use the Serenity Prayer.  I failed to use my Higher Power.  I failed to use my toolbox for living.  I failed…

So rather than getting fired having spent the last 20 years with this company, I chose to make the leap into an early retirement to live my passion.  Of course, I was fearful.  My Higher Power was just being allowed back into my life.  I was told not to make any major changes during the first year of my sobriety.  It had been only six months.  But I made the leap and never looked back.  Steve Jobs’ quote is still on my vision board…”Your work is going to fill a large part of your life, and the only way to be truly satisfied is to do what you believe is great work.  And the only way to do great work is to love what you do.  If you haven’t found it yet, keep looking.  Don’t settle.  As with all matters of the heart, you’ll know what you find it”.

The word confidence comes from the Latin word confidere which means to have full trust. Psychologist Albert Bandura, who devoted his life to the science of confidence, created a term related to this confidence and trust called “self-efficacy.” Self-efficacy is your belief that you will succeed and create whatever you intend to in life. Your sense of self-efficacy can play a major role in how you approach goals, tasks, and challenges. When you are confident you have a sense of self-efficacy and your actions align with that. So, then, how do you create self-efficacy?

Dee:  For me confidence and self-efficacy came from working Steps 4 and 5 in Alcoholics Anonymous.  It was by taking my own inventory and sharing it with a trusted person that I was able to be set free from my fear.  I found myself getting more comfortable in my own skin and to finally start loving myself for who and what I am.

Trust and hope and faith comes from reuniting with a Power Greater Than Myself and turning over everything!  That includes turning over my thinking and reactions, my business and my family life, my past and my future, my everything.  And each day I find more gifts being bestowed upon me without my pursuit.  Just by turning it over, having faith, sharing with others, I get to follow my passion.

Bandura found the following four strategies to be the building blocks of self-efficacy.

Mastery Experiences

When you don’t consistently live up to your highest standards or potential and continually shrink back into safety you begin to lose trust in yourself. Mastery experiences are simply past experiences of success and these past experiences give you a sense of confidence. You can begin to cultivate mastery experiences by setting up little wins for yourself and getting incrementally better at something.

Don’t try to take on too much at once or take giant leaps forward. Mastery experiences are all about getting slightly better day by day. If you get 1 percent better at something every day, in one year you will be 365 percent better—that is the essence of creating mastery experiences!

Dee:  Just like the AA slogans state, “One day at a time”, “Progress, not perfection”, “Let go, let God”, “No expectations, no disappointments”, I get to experience little wins for myself with my business and with my life.

ACTION STEP: Embrace Uncertainty and Lean into Fear (in Reasonable Doses) 

Write down a list of what you need to do in order to follow your passions, then break that list down into small actionable tasks you can complete each day. It’s important to recognize that by embracing a new level of uncertainty and leaning into a healthy level of fear, you are inviting in desired change. Doing small things that feel a little scary will help you on your path to creating mastery experiences and increased self-efficacy.

Dee:  Fear is where I spent most of my life before getting to AA and working the steps.  I didn’t believe in myself.  I did not have a Higher Power.  I did not have a toolbox for living.  I had no self-worth and definitely no self-love.  But slowly as I learned to shed my fear-based living did I find that delving into fear was for my highest good.  I could either win or lose, but I would always win for the fact that I tried helped me to grow and taught me life lessons.  “Better an oops than a ‘what if’”.

Vicarious Learning

This idea relies upon the fact that if someone else achieves what you want to achieve you can live through them, and you can learn by seeing what they do to achieve their goals. If someone else has done it, so can you! You have to be careful with this one because there is a tendency to compare yourself with these people as well and that will create the opposite effect of confidence—doubt. It is important that whenever you think about the person who is doing what you want to do that you celebrate their successes or find a way to serve their successes. Learning vicariously through someone you look up to is a great way to build confidence.

Dee:  So hard to not compare myself with others.  Again, I did this throughout most of my life, living in fear and worthlessness.  But being a work in progress as a result of AA’s 12 Step Program helps me to stop comparing and accept myself for who and what I am, right now at this very moment.  It also helps me to grow strong relationships with those around me, rather than compare.  To be of service.  Look for the similarities and not the differences.  So with that I move forward trudging the road to happy destiny.

ACTION STEP: Find a Mentor and Make a Plan

Find a mentor or teacher who can help you confidently make a plan to follow your passions.

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Social Persuasion

The concept of social persuasion takes vicarious learning one step further. This is getting verbal guidance or inspiration from someone you look up to. Hiring someone like a coach who is encouraging you to become better can be a form of social persuasion. But more than anything YOU are in your head all day long and it’s important to learn how to become your own best coach and learn to persuade yourself in positive ways. To be fully confident you must convince yourself that you have what it takes and also practice giving other people that persuasion.

Dee:  Since I started my business, Deesigns by Harris, four years ago, I have studied greatly how to make my business a success.  With the internet there is a wealth of coaching and valuable information at our fingertips.  “But I don’t want to do the business part, I just want to create”.  Well, it’s taken four long years to come to the acceptance that most of my business comes from the administrative part.  No admin…no creativity…no fun.  So when the student was ready, the master appeared.  What I’ve been learning for four years I was ready to apply.  It’s a long and slow process, but I feel the baby steps are moving me in the direction I want to be going.

ACTION STEP: Learn How to Flip Your Limiting Beliefs

Think about what you want to achieve, write down all the reasons you believe that you CAN’T achieve it, then write down the opposite of each of those beliefs to create affirmation statements—use these as fuel for your confidence! You are going to have to get very good at managing your own mindset. Life coach and entrepreneur Anthony Robbins is quoted as saying “80 percent of success is due to psychology—mindset, beliefs, and emotions—and only 20 percent is due to strategy—the specific steps needed to accomplish a result.” That is applicable here as well!

Dee:  This reminds me of Drop the Rock, a recovery/addiction book aimed at helping to remove character defects (Steps 6 and 7 in AA).  At the back of the book is a list of Character Defects/Shortcomings and another list of Program Principles.  The pluses and minuses.  The pros and cons.  How to turn those defects, fears I believe I cannot overcome, into positive beliefs.  This works with recovery; this works with business; this works with life!  Let’s change our mindsets.

Physiology

The last concept from Bandura is that your physiology plays a crucial role in your self-efficacy. In order to feel confident, it’s important that you feel good in your physical body. Generally, this comes back to the basics. Make sure each day you are eating well, getting enough sleep, and getting some form of movement. Do the things that feed a healthy body.

Dee:  This has been slow to come to me as well.  Being the obsessive-compulsive being that I am, I struggle to find moderation.  So when I get in the work mode I stay there until I crash.  Forget eating, resting or exercise.  When I think I am too busy to go to a meeting, I now get up and go.  When eating is the last thing I want to do, I do it.  The seed has been planted to get up and move for 10 minutes every hour or two (still a seed).  And I have joined a gym where I can work out and do Yoga a few times a week.  And I get even more and better work done in the end!

ACTION STEP: Practice Meditation and Yoga

Practice meditation to soothe any negativity or doubt, or take a yoga class to enliven your mind, body, and spirit. Both of these are powerful tools for a healthy physiology.

Use the strategies above that Bandura suggests to set up your own “confidence gym.” The action steps above will help you get started. Intentionally practice these four strategies day in and day out, just like you would go to the gym to get in physical shape; this is how you can get your confidence “in shape.” Start with the action steps here and then make your own unique list for each category. Today, what can you do to create your own mastery experiences, learn vicariously, be socially persuaded, or care for your physiology as you follow your unique passions?

By intentionally practicing these strategies and taking your own action steps, your challenges will begin to inspire you to grow instead of hold you back. The next time you come face to face with your fear it won’t seem so intimidating and it won’t stop you or detour you on your passion path. What will you do today to build your self-efficacy?

Dee:  Just do it!  If you’re not happy or don’t like it, then go back to your old ways knowing you tried!  What do you have to lose?

Aloha, Dee

For those interested in Inspirational Gifts with a Message, please visit my shop at www.DeesignsByHarris.com.  Mahalo and have a great day!

About the Author, Nicolette Stinson

Certified Coach, Yoga Instructor and Perfect Health Instructor

Nicolette is an online personal brand strategist for coaches and wellness professionals. She is also a Certified Coach, Chopra Center Perfect Health Instructor, and Yoga Teacher as well as an avid student of mindfulness, creativity, personal development, and spirituality. Visit www.nicolettestinson.com to learn more.

From the Chopra Center.

The World

I found this photo in my Photo Saves.  I don’t know where I got it, nor when, why or from whom, but it must have touched me that day I saw it, so I kept it.  Well, it’s really resonating with me again today, today, at this very perfect moment in front of my nose.

The world is increasingly designed to depress us?  Well, what really is the world?

world

noun

1 he traveled the world: earth, globe, planet, sphere.

2 life on other worlds: planet, moon, star, heavenly body, orb.

3 the academic world: sphere, society, circle, arena, milieu, province, domain, orbit, preserve, realm, field, discipline, area, sector.

4 she would show the world that she was strong: everyone, everybody, people, mankind, humankind, humanity, the (general) public, the population, the populace, all and sundry, ‘every Tom, Dick, and Harry’.

5 a world of difference: huge amount, good deal, great deal, abundance, wealth, profusion, mountain; informal heap, lot, load, ton.

6 she renounced the world : society, material things, secular interests, temporal concerns, earthly concerns.

Ok, yes, if using description 4, “every Tom, Dick, and Harry” is out to get us.  To make us feel less than.  Pieces of shit.  But wait!  They have solutions for us low-lifes out here.  Bandaids for problems we don’t even have.  Does it say “stupid” on my forehead?

Boy, did I fall into the “stupid” category for most of my life.  I wanted to be prettier, younger, richer, famous.  I cared more about what the world thought of me than what I thought of me.  Because I had no clue what I thought of myself.  I had no self-worth.  I took no time for self-love.  I was void of that capacity in those chapters of my life.

I only remember being influenced by “the world” during my formative years, so that is what I took with me to my adult years.  FEAR!!!  My M.O.  Fear that I wasn’t good enough.  That you wouldn’t like me.  Most of my life has been lived with this fear until…

In my forties my greatest fear wasn’t that I could not go a day without drinking, but the fear that I would be found out.  It seemed like I lived a lifetime of sneaking around, buying my liquor at different liquor stores because what if they thought I had a problem, or buying loads of liquor and saying that I was having a party.  Yeah, right.  Then I would take swigs of the liquor on my way home so when I arrived home, I could drink like a lady.  I would hide my liquor.  I would replace liquor in bottles with water so no one would no how much I drank.  Then I started buying wine in a box wondering if anyone would pick it up and feel how much weight was gone since I bought it yesterday.  What an exhausting and wasteful way to live.  Or was I even alive?

You know, it wasn’t wasteful.  It was my story, my journey bringing me to the appreciation of having a choice today on whether or not to drink.  Yep, I got found out.  I just wanted to go somewhere, like the hospital, where I couldn’t get alcohol so I could be “normal” for awhile.  Maybe get my act together.  I thought about being locked up in a jail cell, but, no.  Too expensive for bail.  Everyone would know I had a drinking problem.  Maybe I killed someone.  Yikes!

But I got found out by not “coming to” in time for work like I did forever and FINALLY coming clean to my boss who helped get me on the right track.  FINALLY.  My Higher Power said that Dee was ready for a new chapter for her book!  Thank you, God!  I spent 20-whatever days in a treatment center for alcoholics.  I learned and learned and sponged and absorbed so much during this time, I can’t tell you.  I felt such a weight lifted from me and hope and understanding of me and what made me tick.  It was a life changer and I finally started to feel that Dee was gonna be all right.

But it was scarier than hell being thrown back out to the wolves, which would be me, with my diseased brain, the Devil.  Those hiding places were still there.  Those chores were still there.  My family was still there.  And that job.  How could I do this without alcohol?  One day at a time.

One day at a time I did what was suggested.  Alcoholics Anonymous was suggested.  I did what the fellowship suggested as well.  I got to work the steps.  I got to figure out what to do with this fear-based Dee.  I got to do it with others who didn’t judge me.  One day at a time.

And one day at a time the new sober Dee got feeling better, got to ride the pink cloud, got a life, got to feel comfortable in her skin.  One day at a time Dee didn’t go to as many meetings and didn’t reach out to those in need.  One day at a time got Dee to pick up a drink again after 13-1/2 years of sobriety.  Dee even said, “No, thanks.  I don’t drink.”  But when that shot of tequila was left for her nevertheless, the Devil with his wicked smile yelled,  “Drink me!  Drink me!  No one will know.  You’ll be fine.  You don’t have a problem anymore.  Just one!”  Well, I was off and running again, just like I was taught in AA.  That first drink woke up that part of my brain that was resting for a decade, allowing my heart to be my guide.  It yelled, “MORE!”

It was no wonder I drank.  I no longer had an insurance policy against the disease.  I stopped paying my premium long ago when I removed myself from the fellowship and the newcomers who needed me and who I needed to remind myself of where I came from.  I was no longer in service.  One day at a time.  I rationalized so much shit in my head again.  My journey.  My lesson.  I can’t keep it unless I give it away.

So I’m back and even more grateful and humble and closer to my Higher Power than ever.  I’ve been chosen once again to be sober, to live with my toolbox of solutions for a better and meaningful life with a fellowship of genuinely caring, loving people.  They are “the world” with whom I choose to surround myself.  Not “Tom, Dick and Harry” who tell me I am less-than and not worthy.  Today my purpose of carrying the message of “Experience, Strength and Hope” to and with whoever enters my Dee Bubble is key.  It is a gift.  And I can be proud of who and what I am today because I’m not drinking or using.  I am keeping my insurance premiums paid.  I am giving what was so freely given to me when I needed it most.  Life is awesome!

Let’s share with our planet, our humanity, that we together can make a world of difference!  And with our ripple effects we shall get to experience the beauty that is right here, right now, at the tips of our noses.

Aloha, Dee

For those interested in Inspirational Gifts with a Message of Hope, please visit my website at www.DeesignsByHarris.com.  Mahalo and have a great day!

Stop Comparing Yourself to Others: Tips and Tools  

Stop Comparing Yourself to Others: Tips and Tools  

By EmilyHolland

The neighbor with the perfect lawn. The friend with a successful, high-paying career. The stranger on social media that you’ve never met but assume, given their seemingly perfect photos, that they lead the perfect life.

In today’s world, where it has become the norm to spend countless hours scrolling through photos of friends, family, celebrities, and complete strangers, the temptation to compare ourselves to others is at a cultural high.

While competition has long been a basic function of the human condition, it would seem that the rise of the digital age over the past several years has put an unnecessary, and even harmful, precedence on who’s in the lead. As if it were possible to measure all human successes on a single scale (or worse, by number of ‘likes’).

But even before social media’s take over, the groundwork for social comparisons was already in place. Social norms have long been established along with the relentless reminders that we’ve yet to live up to all of them. A 30-something woman sees her friends getting married and panics that she’s still single. A hard-working employee watches his co-worker move up in the company, prompting him to ask, “Why him and not me?” These comparisons can become so habitual that often you may not even realize you are doing it.

Reasons to quit may go beyond the fact that they’re simply unproductive and leave you feeling poorly about yourself. Making these social comparisons can be damaging to your health, both physically and psychologically. Being aware of how harmful comparisons are could serve as great motivation to give them up.

Dee:

When in school from elementary to high school I remember wishing my family had more money, that I could be more popular, even be famous.  I wished I was prettier, smarter, more self-confident, yet I had everything I could ever want and need.  Where did all this self-lack come from?  Why could I not just be comfortable in my own skin and love who I was?

It wasn’t until decades later when I found my wish list changing to “I wish I wouldn’t drink today” or “I wish I would stop at just three” that I found myself in a treatment center for alcoholism.  Yes, “found myself”!  It was then and there that my wish list dramatically changed as did my self-worth and opinion of myself.

But this did not happen overnight.  I needed to undo the decades of “my” thinking which is an ongoing process.  One day at a time, yeah? just like not taking a drink today, maybe tomorrow.

Sobriety, recovery and solutions has changed my life…given me a life…given me purpose.  First I “got to” learn and understand what alcoholism is, a disease, not a self-control problem.  From there I was introduced to Alcoholics Anonymous and the Twelve Steps and the Big Book.  I “got to” make up a Higher Power of My Own Understanding to whom I could turn my will and my life over to.  I “got to” switch my life from a thinking human being to a feeling human being.  Slowly.  One day at a time.

And the miracles, evolution, journey continues.  I have turned that fear-based waste-of-space-on-the-planet to one who is finally comfortable in my own skin and loves me for who and what I am!

Harmful Effects 

In 1954, social psychologist, Leon Festinger proposed the theory of social comparison (https://www.psychologytoday.com/basics/social-comparison-theory), which argues that your own feelings of self-worth are dependent upon how you think you measure up to those around you. You may be constantly evaluating how you stack up to others, in turn creating our self-image. A self-image based on anything other than intrinsic factors is destined to have harmful effects.

For one, making social comparisons can have a devastating impact on your self-esteem, particularly when comparing something you are already insecure about or sensitive to. For example, if you suffer bodily insecurities and follow nothing but fitness accounts on social media, you are setting yourself up to make not only an unhealthy comparison but an unfair one at that.

The majority of social media users show only what they want the world to see. They are less likely to expose their own insecurities and overcompensate by pushing perfection instead. It essentially boils down to a comparison between one’s reality to another’s best attempt to portray perfection. Not only can this influence your self- esteem, but it also distorts your perception of reality.

The stress that results from constantly making social comparisons that deflate your self-esteem and hinder your self-image can harm your physical health as well. Chronic stress (http://www.chopra.com/articles/how-to- reverse-the-effects-of-chronic-stress) can lead to high-blood pressure, heart disease, hypertension, and a weakened immune system. Moreover, when left unchecked, which can easily occur when you are unaware of its cause, chronic stress can lead to psychological problems such as depression and anxiety attacks.

In addition, social comparisons can hold you back from reaching goals and pursuing what matters most. Accomplishments stem from self-confidence, motivation, and clarity—all three of which can be hindered by images of others who you think are already a few steps ahead of you. In short, making social comparisons can be paralyzing and leave you wondering, Why bother? 

(http://www.chopra.com/online-courses/the-quest/on-demand

Dee:

Because of Alcoholics Anonymous, the Twelve Steps, and my toolbox for living, I discovered how fear-based I was living my life.  How important your opinion of me mattered.  That was because I did not feel worthy of your opinions nor expectations.  I felt “less than”.  Today I realize that I have God-given gifts and talents.  I was chosen to get sober and share my experience, strength and hope with those who enter my “bubble”.  And that is the purpose today.  It took me 48 years to realize this.

When I can be grateful for who and what I am today, for my journey and my story, I can share this and give hope to those who do not have “light at the end of the tunnel”.  When I can realize that if I do the best that I can at any given moment with any given talk, that I am progress not perfection, that everything is perfect at this moment in time, I can be okay with myself.  I can be light, grateful, humble and content.  

I know today that not everyone is going to like me.  And that’s okay.  There are those of you I would rather not be around.  But I don’t have to react nor prove myself nor take it personally.  You are who you are with your story, and I am who I am with mine.  Just perfect.  Right here.  Right now.  What a weight off my shoulders being able to live this way!

Tips to Stop Comparing 

It may sound simple to just suggest putting a stop to social comparisons—but the question is how do you actually stop? Here are some ways to help you stop making social comparisons.

1.Limit (or eliminate) time on social media. As mentioned, social media is often used as a place to share what you want people to see, not necessarily what’s closest to reality. Whether or not its content’s even accurate, at the very least it’s likely exaggerated. Cutting back on social media (http://www.chopra.com/articles/comparing-yourself-again-4-tips-to-survive-social-media-envy) or taking a break altogether can do wonders for your mental health. Spend the extra time understanding the triggers that lead you to making social comparisons so that when you log back into your accounts, you’re prepared to let those things go.

Dee:

What do we hear about on social media, the news and newspapers?  What sells the most, draws our attention and brings in the most money?  Negative news.  Tragic news.  Although most of life around us is good and positive, it does not sell news.  So one straw at a time we get weighted down with negativity.  If not careful, that negativity finally breaks our backs and we lower ourselves to that mentality.  Don’t do it!  Remember the 95% of the good things happening on our planet and with our humanity that does not sell news.  That’s our focus.

2.Make a list of accomplishments you’re proud of. The more confident you are in yourself, the less inclined you’ll be to evaluate how you stack up against others. Write a list of your proudest accomplishments, traits, strengths, and even things you’re grateful for. This will put you in a healthier mindset, making you less likely to engage in the comparison game.

Dee:

I am sober.  I have a Higher Power over to whom I can turn my will and my life.  I have a purpose.  I can be of service.

3. Become clear on what you want. When you’re unsure of what you want in life or how to go about achieving it, you can tend to feel unanchored. Become more grounded by gaining clarity as to the direction your life is going. Write out your short-term and long- term goals and steps necessary to accomplish them. Once you feel more secure in your own life, the temptation to over-invest in others will dissipate.

Dee: 

When things start to feel unclear, I HALT.  I check myself to see if I am Hungry, Angry, Lonely, Tired.  If so, I treat those symptoms.  I go to an AA meeting.  I get back in the moment.  I appreciate the here and now right in front of my nose.  I quiet my mind and open my heart.  I re-center.

Theodore Roosevelt said it best when he stated, “Comparison is the thief of joy.” If you want to become your best self, making your mental and physical health top priority, you must choose joy and resist the urge to make unhealthy comparisons.

Become your best self with The Quest: Spiritual Solutions for Creating a Life You Love, our online course led by Deepak Chopra and Martha Beck. Learn More. (https://www.chopra.com/online-courses/the-quest/on- demand)

About the Author 

Emily Holland Certified Health Coach

Emily is a certified Health Coach and freelance writer with a focus on psychology, mental health, and optimal living. A combined interest in healthy living and human behavior led Emily to pursue a certification in health coaching at the Institute for Integrative Nutrition as well as a master’s degree in General Psychology. Her personal struggle with anxiety motivated her to research and implement a variety of holistic approaches into her lifestyle, such as changes in diet and the adoption of mindfulness meditation. She credits these lifestyle changes as well as many others with helping her better manage symptoms of anxiety and everyday stressors. She is most passionate about sharing what she has… Read more (/bios/emily-holland)

From The Chopra Center

Dee: 

I am not a representative of Alcoholics Anonymous.  I only know that when I could not stop drinking, the fellowship and the Big Book offered me solutions.  Today I am sober.  Today I am happy, joyous, and free!

Aloha, Dee

For those interested in Inspirational Gifts with a Message of Hope and Self, please visit my website at www.DeesignsByHarris.com.  Mahalo and have a great day!!!