June 24, 2018
If you want a different life, here is a recipe. It’s mostly practical, with a little magic thrown in.
1. Be like Ghandi. He said: “Be the change that you want to see in the world.”
There may be other ways to change the world. But starting from that premise, changing me, not you, is the only thing that has ever worked for me, or that I have seen work for anyone.
When I change me, the world around me changes. A change in my attitude changes how I respond, how people respond to me, and changes the outcomes from those interactions.
2. This is from me: Be unapologetically honest, with kindness. Both with others, and even more importantly, with yourself.
I have gone through phases with honesty. For many years I tried to stick with: ‘If you can’t say something nice, don’t say anything’. Then I thought, no, that’s pretty limiting if I want any kind of emotional intimacy. So I went to the opposite extreme. I told it like I saw it. UGH! My filter was still pretty thick and my ability to be honest with myself pretty under-developed.
I began to look for something in the middle. I started focusing on being honest without being apologetic, but also setting the intention that anything coming out of my mouth was supported by a feeling of kindness. If I didn’t yet feel kindness, I knew that my offering would be incomplete and distorted. As anyone who knows me will attest, I haven’t totally mastered it. But so far, it seems to be a viable guideline.
My all-time favorite acronym is THINK before you speak. Is it True, Helpful, Inspiring, Necessary, and Kind? (‘Is it necessary?’ still trips me up a lot!)
3. Put your attention on what’s right, on what is working. Look for evidence, any evidence, that you are moving in the direction of achieving what you want. i.e. stop putting all your attention on what’s wrong.
There may be a few cynics who become successful just because they’re cynical – say Howard Stern for a modern example – but on the whole, how many truly cynical people do you see who are both successful and happy? Consider the possibility that cynicism breeds depression and anxiety. I don’t have scientific research backing that up, but logic tells me it’s out there. I do have subjective evidence from my own life and the life of my clients that when they shift their attention to what’s right in their world, what is working, life improves. Period.
# 3 is the one that I attribute to a little bit of magic. I have always had the sense that there is an organizing principle in the universe that, when I cooperate with it, seems to offer me a more satisfying life than when I don’t. Call it God, or energy, or a Higher Power, or Divine Mind – anything that resonates.
It’s that still, small voice within that always knows the next step for you to take to keep you moving in the direction of what you truly want. Get quiet. Listen for it. Cooperate with it.
Whether it’s to take one small step forward, or keep your mouth shut, or take a leap into something deeply uncomfortable, if you listen to it your will life expand into a vibrancy that is impossible to put into words. The only one that comes to mind is rich.
When I’m too busy to get quiet I shut the voice down or ignore it. Invariably my focus shifts to what’s wrong, and my life gets smaller. It feels, for lack of a better word, dull.
I see patterns. And the most striking pattern that I see in my life is the shifts that have occurred as I have gotten better at applying these three principles:
1. Be the change you want to see in the world.
2. Be unapologetically honest, with kindness.
3. Put your attention on what’s right, on what is working.
I think we actualize to our full potential by being in relationship with the world. Not by working on this stuff alone in our heads.
Consider looking at your life through the lens of these three intentions. Do you see any correlations between the times when you’ve felt vibrant and rich vs when you felt dull? I’d love to hear from you.
I want to be very clear — these are not end-all, be-all rules. These are behavioral principles that have made my life more satisfying. They came from listening to myself. The most important intention you can set is to find your own inner voice, and listen to it! What are the principles that guide your life?