How to Find Gratitude in Your Hardest Moments  

How to Find Gratitude in Your Hardest Moments  

By Tris Thorp

One of the main pillars of today’s mindfulness-based practices is the art of cultivating gratitude. You may hear it as a theme in yoga class, read about it in self-help books, hear about it in seminars and retreats, or see it every day in your social media feeds. Cultivating gratitude every day can be a powerful catalyst for creating a more positive mindset.

You may know from experience that steeping yourself in gratitude can be a feel-good practice of bringing to mind the things you feel blessed to have in your life. You may know that sharing your gratitude with others creates a ripple effect and has a positive impact on those around you. Meditating on or making daily lists of the things you are thankful for on a regular basis is a great way to focus on what is good in the world, especially during times when there is so much uncertainty, anger, and fear swirling about.

Gratitude comes in many forms and how you experience it can vary a great deal, depending on your intention. It’s easy to hone in on the things you are grateful for when life is going well. A good economy, a happy family, a loving relationship, a successful career, and good physical health are laced with blessings. Your happiness stems from positivity, and its usually times like these that you may take your success, your relationships, your happiness, and your health for granted. Things are going so well that you may forget you are invulnerable to disharmony, loss, poor health, pain, and suffering—until it’s knocking on your door. It’s in your not-so-wonderful times that you may lose sight of the good that still exists around you.

Just like acknowledging all the amazing things you are thankful for in your life, there can also be a great deal of insight and healing available (http://www.chopra.com/articles/cultivate-the-healing-power-of-gratitude) when you can feel gratitude in your hardest moments. Remembering how difficult things once were and how far you’ve come since then creates a significant contrast in your mindset that can be highly productive.

Can you remember a time in your life when you felt the heartache from a breakup with someone you cared for deeply? Now, all these years later, are you able to look back on the situation and be thankful in some way that things ended when they did? Maybe you wouldn’t be married to your current spouse or have the children you have today. Can you think of a time in your life when you were overlooked for a job promotion only to realize down the road that it would have been the worst job ever? Looking back on your life, you may find times when something happened that seemed awful in the moment and, had it not happened, you wouldn’t have something even better in its place today. There is so much to be learned from your past painful experiences and turned into gold if you’re willing to shift your perception just a bit.

Likewise, you may have something difficult happening in your life today—an important life decision, an impending breakup, confusion about what you’re supposed to be doing with your life—and if you settle into a space of being completely honest with yourself (even when it’s unpleasant), odds are that you know there is something bigger, better, grander awaiting you on the other end. This is where finding gratitude comes in. You may be thankful for your own courage and determination or appreciative of your health as you are healing from a physical, emotional, or mental challenge. Perhaps you can find gratitude for your humility and grace in how you handled a difficult conversation, or appreciation for the fact that you have a roof over your head.

Dee:

Ok, I need to lighten up, right here, right now.  Just because these last few weeks I’ve been thrown curve balls when I’m used to, and grateful, for a calm, peaceful, uneventful life.  Thank goodness I have tools such as these articles and my AA toolbox to get me through a bit of “real life”.

I’m gonna spew here for just a bit, to take the power out of what ails me, so bypass, here if it makes you nuts.  During the Thanksgiving holiday my family came to visit.  While brushing my teeth one morning my crown just fell out.  Negative Dee:  “Shit.  I’ve had nothing but problems with my teeth.  More money.  More time.  More pain.  Whah.  Whah.  Whah.”  Positive Dee:  Call the dentist.  He gets me in right away.  Ok.  Not just the crown fell out but my tooth was still in it.  Extraction.  Not a big deal.  I’ve had plenty.  The offer of pain meds.  NO.  I can’t go there.  Not again.  Remember, Dee, that you have a high tolerance to pain and, PLEASE, remember the relapse that came from pain meds a few years ago.  Gratefully since then, I’ve stayed close to the fellowship of Alcoholics Anonymous and didn’t allow myself to get complacent…again.

On my way home from the dentist I stop to visit a friend.  When I go to leave the car doesn’t start.  I’m told the starter motor is faulty.  Negative Dee:  “Damn.  We just replaced the starter a few warranty months ago.  More money.  More time.  More pain.  Whah.  Whah.  Whah.”  Positive Dee:  We’ll order another starter motor because we can.  We have the money.  We’ll get the car in up and running properly again.  Not a big deal.  I wasn’t stuck in the middle of commuter traffic during rush hour.  And even if, I’ve got AAA.

I’m gonna pick these papayas before the birds and geckos eat them all.  I’ll just step on this branch like I’ve done many times (not realizing how big the fruit now is, and how plentiful).  “Down will go baby, cradle and all.”  The branch breaks off.  I’m about 10 feet above the ground, lava rock.  I stop.  Upright.  I gather my thoughts.  The barbed-wire fence next to the tree has stopped me from breaking any bones had I hit the ground.  Negative Dee:  “I hurt.  I’m stuck down here in lava rock and tall California grass bare-foot.  How am I going to get back up to the house?  Whah.  Whah.  Whah.”  Positive Dee:  I’ll climb up the rock wall up to the house like American Ninja Warrior.  Hey, Dee, that barbed-wire fence saved you from breaking your bones.  And when your foot stopped you at the bottom of the fence, it stopped you just in time so the barbs didn’t rip into your cherished private parts.  Ok.  So a few scratches and just five stitches.  Get over it.  You know you’ll climb that tree again.  It’s fun.”

This past weekend was crazy crunch time for this stained glass/mosaic artist.  More shows and more work than what I’m used to.  I get to the art fair, set up my display, and realize I’ve set it up back to front.  Stupid.  Negative Dee:  Why would everyone else around me have their displays set up toward the grass while I thought setting up toward the parking lot made sense?  Really?  I’ve got to take everything down and start over when this is the one time I had it together to be set up on time?  Why am I never set up on time?  Why am I always the last one to tear down and go home?  Why do I always have some much breakage of stained glass and mosaic pieces?  Whah.  Whah.  Whah.”  Positive Dee:  What a beautiful place at this old Hawaiian Church to get to turn my display around (and my attitude).  You know, Dee, being a little more mindful and in the moment wouldn’t hurt you a bit.  You know, everything is perfect right here, right now.”

Yesterday’s show “I“planned to go smoothly.  After the back-assward show the day before I strived to be totally prepared to get the day off on the right foot.  Premade my lunch.  Car with new starter was loaded up.  Clothes were laid out.  Went to bed early.  Set the alarm so I could even have some quiet time before going to the show.  When I awaken my alarm hadn’t gone off.  My phone, my alarm, had powered itself off even though it was 100% charged.  I should be at the show setting up right now and I’m just getting out of bed.  Negative Dee:  For real, God?  I’m doing my best to turn my will and my life over to you.  You know I hate surprises and do my best to avoid them.  I’m going to call in and say I’m not going to make the show.  But some of the people I met at yesterday’s show are expecting me to be there today.  And yesterday was a profitable show and today could be the same.  What am I going to do?  Whah.  Whah.  Whah.”  Positive Dee:  Shut up and suit up.  Everything happens for a reason.  Be grateful.  You’re never set up on time anyway.  Just get your tent up, take your time, enjoy the moment.  I pray a a lot while driving to the show.  The radio is not working and just works when it wants.  I sing.  I pray to get out of self-will.  My car veers to the side of the road to pick up a hitchhiker and her dog, “Toto”.  I never pick up hitchhikers.  What gives?  But she and Toto got me out of my stinking thinking.  We had a mellow enjoyable ride to the green market where I set up, or tried to, and made plenty of sales.  I turned my attitude around, or my Higher Power did.

As human beings, we all run into various situations and circumstances that range from slight annoyances to overwhelming tragedies. Even in the most difficult times, if you can slow things down in your mind just long enough to connect with your heart, you will be able to find something, even if it’s just a small shred of appreciation, that will pull you through.

Gratitude is a practice of creating a state of emotional prosperity. It’s about focusing on the good things you have. It is as relevant to be grateful for the positive outcomes from your past negative experiences as it is to be thankful for the amazing things in your life. It’s not about pretending that things were okay when they weren’t, and it’s not about ignoring the way you’re feeling when things aren’t good. Rather, it’s a practice for reevaluating what is important for you to focus on at the end of the day to help you stay positive, calm, centered, and balanced.

Dee:

Gratitude.  Humility.  Sobriety.  Recovery.  When I allow them to, when I shut off my head and live from my heart, when I remember I am not in control and turn my will and my life and me over to the care of God as I understand God, I’m in a good, loving, compassionate and peaceful place.  Being a recovering alcoholic has given me this gift.  Alcoholics Anonymous has given me this gift.  The fellowship has given me this gift.  Most importantly, my Higher Power has given me this gift.  To share my experience, strength and hope with those who enter my “Dee Bubble”.  To make positive out of negative.  To have hope.  To know we’re not in this alone.  And then to have icing on the cake with articles and various tools such as this to help guide us and take us to the next level.  Pretty sweet, yeah?

Aloha, Dee

For those interested in Art with a Message of Aloha, Recovery, Inspiration, of “good stuff”, please visit my website at www.DeesignsByHarris.com.  Mahalo and have an awesome day!

Use this guided visualization to journey through an upsetting time, find something positive that came about as a result of what happened (or what’s happening), and cultivate gratitude (http://www.chopra.com/free- programs/attitude-of-gratitude) for it.

Find a nice, quiet space where you won’t be disturbed.
Silence your phone, close the door, and settle into a comfortable seat in your favorite spot.
With your eyes closed, begin to breathe slowly and deeply.
Feel your body begin to relax from the top of your head down through your shoulders, arms, torso, hips, and finally down through your legs.
Bring to mind a time in your life when things were not going so well—a time when something happened that caused you confusion, pain, or suffering of some kind.
As you think back on this time, take in what happened during this experience.
Now begin to travel forward in your mind observing as you navigated through this situation.

Put your awareness on the person you were then—doing the best you knew how at that time.
Next, notice that where you are currently at in your life is a very different time, space, and experience. See how far you have come and become aware of the different person you are today.
As you reflect back on what happened, ask yourself, “What is the gift, positive lesson, or wisdom I received from having had this experience?” This difficult time that happened has somehow provided you with insight or knowledge that it happened for some reason that you weren’t able to see at the time.
Ask yourself, “What are you grateful for now as a result of what happened back in your hardest moments?” When you’re ready, take a few more deep breaths and open your eyes.
Do some journaling if it calls to you.

If you’re new to personal growth and things aren’t exactly spectacular in your life, it’s sometimes easier to begin by focusing on the positive things you have to be thankful for—and why you’re grateful. When you’re down in the dumps it can be a real mood-killer to try finding the silver lining in a situation that just plain stinks.  As things improve in your life and you’re feeling stronger (spiritually, mentally, emotionally, and physically), looking back on the less-than-positive experiences you’ve had and finding the gifts from those times will become easier. The biggest thing to remember when practicing gratitude is to meet yourself where you are in the moment and work with what is most readily available to you while you journey on toward greater happiness and healing.

Get the resources you need to create positivity and fulfillment each day – no matter what is going on in your life – with The Chopra Center’s Discover Your Purpose Toolkit, which includes a free e-book, worksheet, 1:1 discovery session, and guided meditation. Get your free toolkit now. (https://www.chopra.com/free- programs/discover-your-purpose-toolkit).

About the Author

Tris Thorp
Vedic Educator and Lifestyle & Leadership Coach

Tris Thorp is one of today’s leading experts in the field of emotional healing. Having spent the last decade traveling the world, being trained by and sharing the stage with Dr. Deepak Chopra in the field of consciousness and mindfulness-based practices, Tris has a real gift for integrating the ancient spiritual teachings with modern-day mindfulness to help people all over the world let go of their past and create an empowered new future. You can learn more about Tris’s work at http://www.tristhorp.com (http://tristhorp.com). Tris is Board Certified by the Association of Integrative Psychology as a Trainer of NLP, Master Practitioner of Neuro Linguistic Programming, Hypnosis,… Read more (/bios/tris-thorp)

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HOW TO REMAIN CALM AND COOL DURING THE HOLIDAYS

How to Remain Calm and Cool During the Holidays  

By Deepak Chopra, M.D.

Getting through the holidays well is part of being on your own path. What works at this time of year is the same as the rest of the year, except that you need to be more mindful of pitfalls and possible stresses.

Stress over-stimulates the body-mind, throwing off its tendency to remain in dynamic balance. “Dynamic” means that your body-mind is responding from moment to moment. “Balance” refers to a state of homeostasis that functions through many feedback loops to keep dozens of processes in sync.

For most people, the over-stimulation of the holidays is seen as negative—the proverbial drunk uncle at Thanksgiving, the predictable family squabbles, the worrying over extra expenses, and the sudden jammed- packed schedule filled with too much shopping, parties, etc. But to the body-mind, the stress response is equally triggered by over-stimulation on the positive side. Stress experts call this “eu-stress,” where “eu” is the Greek word for good. As anyone knows who has organized and cooked a big holiday dinner, it’s a stressful job even when the dinner turns out beautifully.

Dee:

“The proverbial drunk uncle at Thanksgiving” reminds me of a Christmas Eve long past (so grateful).  The family is all sitting around the wood stove on a beautiful snowy evening to open a few gifts.  We’ve just had a wonderful dinner together and it’s now time to kick back.  Well, I also had a few drinks before, during and after dinner.  I’m now in a black out.

I don’t remember opening the gifts.  I don’t remember that night.  It’s shitty.  I’m shitty.  The next morning I “fish” to find out what happened.  My mom said I must have been tired from a full day at work, coming home and prepping dinner, etc.  I so wish that were the case.

This Christmas when my family is here to visit I won’t have to be in a black out.  As long as I remember that I am an alcoholic in recovery, stay close to the fellowship, my AA toolbox, and my Higher Power, I shall be just fine.  I can live in the moment and cherish every moment.  I shall be doing my gift-giving by being of service to the newcomer struggling through this holiday season.

Here are some tips to keep calm and cool during the holidays.

1. Avoid an Over-Stimulated Body-Mind State

The first thing you need to do is to avoid putting the body-mind into an over-stimulated state. The key points are: Don’t take on more than you can handle.

2. Reduce Self-Created Stress

Next comes psychological stress, which for many people is cumulative. As the holidays approach, there is a worry and expectation that bad events from the past will likely repeat themselves. This is a form of self-created stress. When you see its signs, sit down, take a few minutes to center yourself, breathe deeply, and if possible—meditate. Your goal is to avoid getting into a self-generated state that remains in psychological overdrive.

Dee:

I shall not worry about bad events from the past.  But I shall not forget them either.  I shall remember that I never want to go there again and that today I have a choice to not drink.  I am not that person anymore! as long as I don’t pick up that first drink!  I shall take in extra meetings, do a bit more service, pay a little extra into my recovery insurance policy.

3. Maintain a State of Calm Felt Throughout the Year

You want to maintain the state of calm and control that you enjoy at other times of the year. The key points are:

Take extra down time and inner time rather than less. Aim for at least six small breaks of 5 to 20 minutes a day where you can be alone, quiet, and centered.  Know your boundaries and ask others to respect them. When a situation is about to arise that will put a burden on you or stretch your coping skills, speak up and ask for help or support.

Dee:

I’ve learned through the years how valuable rigorous honesty is in my life.  Everything is out in the open and I need not worry about what others think of me.  So when I’m in HALT (hungry, angry, lonely or tired) I say it like it is.  I need some down time, some “Dee time”.  I’ve yet to be criticized or ridiculed for my honesty.

And today I can ask for help.  It doesn’t make me “any less than”.  In fact, I enjoy helping out in whatever way I can and stress to the recipient to please not take this joy away from me.  I no longer feel obligated for asking for help.  I no longer feel I must reciprocate.  I can allow the giver some joy!

When you find yourself in a stressful situation that you can’t fix, don’t try to force a solution. Step away. You are under no obligation to stress yourself or add to the stress of others.
Make sure you are not the stressor. Whatever you wouldn’t want others to inflict on you, don’t inflict the same on them.

Avoid the temptation to rehash old battles and open old wounds. If either starts to happen in your presence, walk away.

4. Practice Calming Techniques Beforehand

Now you know the general guidelines for being calm and mindful during the holidays. Since most people forget to follow these guidelines, there’s a good chance that they will fall into the category of good advice or “If only I had remembered to…” The key to implementing a better strategy is to practice it beforehand.

Visualization is a considerable help in this regard. Most holiday difficulties are predictable. You, your family, and everyone you know has been through them multiple times. Use this foreknowledge to your advantage. Try this visualization meditation to help:

Sit and visualize a typical holiday situation or predicament.
See it vividly in your mind’s eye, and watch the elements play out, whether the circumstances are a crowded grocery store with long lines, an impossible wait at the Post Office, a political disagreement at the dinner table, or anything else that causes you to feel tense just thinking about it.  As you visualize, breathe deeply and let the scenario play out while you remain centered.
Repeat this a few times until you feel less sensitized and stressed by what you see in your mind’s eye.

Now be pro-active with your visualization. See people moving and acting in a different way according to the outcome you’d like to see. Perhaps you arrive at the grocery store at an off hour, have a pleasant conversation with someone next to you in line, and act cheerfully toward the cashier. At the dinner table when someone touches on a sensitive political (or personal) issue, see yourself excusing yourself from the table and taking time out. Or see yourself asking others if they want to join you in a taking an after-dinner walk.

The point is that the holidays box you into old conditioning and patterns of behavior that may make you feel stuck. Everything discussed in this article, including the visualizations, is about getting unstuck. Until you see and act on new possibilities, they can’t unfold. Remember, everyone feels as if they are boxed in during the holidays, so no one else is to blame. When everyone is stuck, to some degree or other, it’s your own responsibility to get unstuck. In this way the holidays become part of your own path to renewing yourself and exploring the creative side of your consciousness.

Dee:

Today I try not to overthink things.  I really try not to think at all and to live from my heart in the present moment.  If I think about the past or future, I am shitting on this beautiful perfect moment right in front of me.

If I start thinking I begin to put together expectations.  I learned early on in recovery, “No expectations, no disappointments.”  That’s the way I choose to live my life today and having just had a low-key, spontaneous, “go with the flow” Thanksgiving week with family proves to me that this way of living is perfect for me.  Let go and let God.

Aloha, Dee

For those interested in Gifts with a Message of Aloha this season of giving, please visit my website at www.DeesignsByHarris.com.  Mahalo and have a great and stress-free holiday season!

About the Author 

Deepak Chopra, M.D.

Deepak Chopra, M.D., F.A.C.P. is the co-founder of the Chopra Center for Wellbeing, the founder of the Chopra Foundation (https://www.choprafoundation.org/about/about-the-chopra-foundation/), and a world-renowned pioneer in integrative medicine and personal transformation. He is board certified in internal medicine, endocrinology, and metabolism. He is a Fellow of the American College of Physicians, a member of the American Association of Clinical Endocrinologists, and a clinical professor in the Family Medicine and Public Health Department at the University of California, San Diego. He is the author of more than 85 books translated into over 43 languages, including numerous New… Read more (/bios/deepak-chopra) 

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.

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!