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All Aboard! Hey passengers, hope day two is going well for you. Thought I’d leave you a “Tuesday Tip” to mull over as you listen to some LifeTrain radio, see button upper right.
Here we go. Instead of comparing yourself to other people create the habit of comparing yourself to yourself. See how much you have grown, what you have achieved and what progress you have made towards your goals.
This habit has the benefit of creating gratitude, appreciation, and kindness towards yourself as you observe how far you have come, the obstacles you have overcome and the good stuff you have done. You feel good about yourself without having to think less of other people.
I would like to share one of my favorite thoughts on self-improvement. This short thought comes from Nathaniel Branden’s book The Six Pillars of Self-Esteem and it simply goes like this:
“No one is coming”.
Short. But it has been a powerful and sobering reminder for me. Because yes, you can look for the next big thing that will fix you.
Read more blog articles. Read more personal development books. Look for people to help you. And yes, some articles, books, products or people will
give you support and insights that resonate deeply with you and that you can put into practice.
But in the end, if you are an adult then no one is coming. No one is coming to save you. You have to take responsibility for your own life and what happens in it. Other things and people can certainly aid you quite a bit. But you are responsible.
You can go around blaming society or some people for your problems in your social life. Or finances. Or health. You can always find scapegoats to judge to feel better about yourself. You can look for people that will “fix you”. You can do this for the rest of your life if you like. It won’t change much. Whatever has to be done, it’s you who have to take responsibility and do it.
Yeah, things might always not go your way. You’ll fall and stumble and you will probably have bad luck from time to time.
But you still have to focus on yourself and on doing what you can do with what you have in whatever situation that may arise in your world.
Have a great and self-kind day!
All Aboard! The LifeTrain!
Hey Passengers, I was thinking. We have a tendency to make significant choices in our lives and then forget that we actually made the choice. Work is such a choice. If we forget to choose the work we do then each day of our life can easily be an experience of continuous reluctance. Would you choose to live your life reluctantly? Every time you use the words ˜have to you are telling the universe you would rather not be here you are and you’d rather not do what you are doing at that moment. And if you keep thinking in this way in one area of your life, it becomes a habitual
thought pattern which you soon find turning up in your attitude everywhere in your life. And if you keep thinking, feeling, saying and living with this pattern of reluctance you can be absolutely sure the universe will eventually grant your recurring wish. But you will like the result even less. Nothing positive, fulfilling or empowering was ever created with the energy of reluctance. Donâ€™t be reluctant about anything in your life today. Re-affirm your presence and your choices every day.
“Your intellect may be confused but your emotions will never mislead you.” ~Roger Ebert
“ME!” – Managing Emotions!
All Aboard!! Hey passengers…how bout those pesky emotions we own…
Ah, those pesky emotions! Doesn’t it feel like that sometimes? We all enjoy the positive emotions like love, happiness, pleasure, delight, and confidence. But then their counterparts show up, like anger, sadness, disgust, and fear — and suddenly, emotions are no longer so welcome. Society emphasizes that we can consciously control our emotions rather than letting our emotions control us.
Sounds good, but I prefer the idea that we can work with our emotions. The word “control” smacks of grabbing our emotions by the throat and beating them into submission. It can be easily
misinterpreted (and I think it has been) to mean that emotions, especially the inconvenient negative ones, should be kept locked away in some hidden room. Out of sight, out of mind.
But emotions – all of them – have a purpose and a wisdom. And studies have shown that tapping emotions down or shutting them away can create all kinds of problems, not the least of which are physical health problems. But I recently read that the Hawaiians knew this centuries ago. When the first Westerners came to Hawaii‘in the 19th century, they found a group of people who were almost completely devoid of mental and physiological disease. Why? Because the Hawaiians knew how to work with their unihipili to release stress and their “stuff,” all the repressed emotions and memories. Unihipili is the name the Hawaiians gave the unconscious mind, and its literal translation is “little creature” or “little one.” If you saw something scurrying across the floor you might say, “Oh, look! An unihipili!” The Hawaiians believed that the unconscious mind was a little self that lived inside you.
This little self-had several important jobs, one of which was to help you deal with your emotions. If you experienced something traumatic or
something you didn’t have the tools to understand or process, your unihipili would take the experience and throw it into a metaphorical black bag. Your unihipili then zipped that bag up and stashed it somewhere in your body – but it was never intended to stay hidden away forever.
As the teachers of Huna explained it, later you might consciously recognize that you have a black bag. You might opt to find the black bag and process the emotions within, then let them all go. But at other times, they believed that your unihipili, your unconscious, might decide that you’re ready to let go of the emotions or experiences before you consciously recognized them. So the unihipili would open up the black bag, causing all the emotions to flood into you so you could release them.
Have you ever had that experience? You’re having a good day when – Bam! – sadness, anger, or fear bubbles up. This is a signal from unihipili that “You’re ready to let it go.”
As Westerners, we find that experience pretty disconcerting. We do everything we can think of to “calm down” or “think about something else.” We don’t see the upheaval as a positive signal from the unconscious that we’re ready to resolve the issue, but rather a signal that something is wrong with us. We medicate, we deny, and we avoid. We push those feelings back down below the surface.
But the ancient Hawaiians appreciated the flood of emotion and knew it was healthy and natural. If they felt sad, they would weep; if they felt anger bubble up, they would express it somehow and allow it to dissipate. They had faith that unihipili knew when the time was right, and trusted that they had the tools and techniques to handle it. They didn’t make a big deal out of it. They simply released the black bag and moved forward.
To the Huna way of thinking, the unihipili is working hard to preserve the body, to release anything that could upset the mind-body balance. The
unconscious mind knows that you need to remove the black bags of unreleased negative thoughts and feelings from your neurology before it makes you sick. From the Huna perspective, this is the basis of all physiological disease, not germs or viruses or aging. Disease cannot be explained or fixed on the physical level alone without dealing with the emotional component.
The next time you feel a negative emotion well up inside, try something a little different. Rather than “coping” or ignoring it, take a moment to ask: “What is this trying to show me?” You may or may not get a clear answer. But still give yourself some time to really experience the emotion itself. Find a safe place to give the emotion expression. Then thank your unconscious for helping you to release it.
In closing, as you hop off for another Merry Monday. I’m not saying that what I am posting is 100% right for everyone but, it is something to consider.
ALL ABOARD! The LifeTrain!
Hey Passengers, I hope you’re having a good week so far. Thank you for hopping aboard the Train today! Enjoy the music as you read the posts. See the radio button upper right. Ignore the shop button for now, cart under construction.
Today I’d like to simply share something that helps me to stay calm and sane in the sometimes busy and overwhelming everyday life. It’s a small but effective reminder and it consists of just five words:
One thing at a time.
Now, an obvious way to use this is if you want to stay on track and get things done
effectively at work or in school. And to not get lost in multitasking.
But I have found it to be helpful beyond that.
Try this whenever you are stressed out, when your thoughts are starting to
become negative or when you feel overwhelmed about anything really:
Take a couple of breaths. Focus only on the air going in and out.
Then take one final breath, slowly exhale it and tell yourself these five little words.
This simple thing will make it easier to think again.
To slow down, to find clarity in what you need to do and keep your attention
And you’ll stop wasting much of your limited time and energy on worrying, on
negativity towards yourself and the people in your life and on trying to juggle five
things at once.
All Aboard! The LifeTrain!!!
Expressing gratitude has been shown to do more than improve your mood. People who write down a few positive things about their day are healthier, more energetic, less stressed and anxious, and get better sleep. The key is to make this a regular habit and do it with intention. Think about creating a small gratitude ritual. For example, every morning when you have your coffee you could think of three things that you appreciate about the day before.
Or make it a habit to jot down three good things about your day before you go to bed at night. Your three good things can be really small–perhaps you saw something beautiful or just appreciate being healthy that day. In fact, science shows that it’s the small everyday experiences that make us happier (as compared to big life events.)
Surround yourself with positive people. Happiness is contagious. Dr. Nicholas Christakis and James Fowler, researchers at Harvard and The University of San Diego, found that each additional happy friend increases a person’s probability of being happy by about 9%. If you’re feeling down, reach out to a friend or colleague who generally has a more positive attitude. Our brains have mirror neurons that will literally mimic what the other person is expressing; so when you need a bit of positive infusion, connect with those who share it.
Do regular acts of kindness. Research has shown that spending money on others makes us happier than spending money on ourselves and doing small acts of kindness increases life satisfaction.
Hold the door for the person behind you, say thank you and mean it when you get your drink from the coffee shop, pick up your colleague’s favorite snack and leave it on their desk for them. Even the smallest nice gesture can make someone’s day.
Spend more time with family and friends. Having friends can save your life.
Low social interaction can be as bad for you as smoking 15 cigarettes a day and is twice as bad for your health as obesity. Even if you’re busy you can find ways to connect with people you care about. Use your lunch break as an opportunity to call a friend or, if possible, take a walk together. If you’re busy during the week, how about inviting your friend to do some errands together on the weekend?
Spend money on experiences instead of things. Research shows people report feeling happier when they spend their money on experiences rather than objects. We remember experiences for a longer period of time and our brains can re-live them, making our positive emotions last longer. So instead of that new pair of jeans consider trying a new yoga class or inviting a friend to the movies with you.
Not a sermon…Just some thoughts…
All Aboard! The LifeTrain!
Hey Passengers! All Aboard!!! Welcome! Time for a Tuesday tip!
Today’s tip is provided by a little stinky scoundrel (Ms. Gerri Hawkins) who resides in the caboose of the LifeTrain. She ‘s stinky, mean and a bunch of other adjectives that I could use. But!!! She’s Brilliant! Full of wit and humor. And as a school psychologist, she is helping to mold and shape many young lives, preparing them to get through life’s battles! Don’t tell her this but despite ALL her stinky-ness…I loves this woman! Oh! she wrote this in response to my last post, “The courage to quit”.
From the Scoundrel, manager of the LifeTrain Caboose:
I always wondered what Vanessa Williams’ secret was for miraculously recovering from the horrible experience that she had in 1984. For those who don’t know about it, she won the Miss America title in 1984 and resigned after nude photos of her were released.
I had the pleasure of watching an interview with her on Oprah’s channel in a segment called Master Class. In this interview, Vanessa reflected on what happened and how she moved on with her life. She said in so many words that she just didn’t want to fight that battle. It was a simple decision. She just walked away from the mess and moved on. She had nothing to prove. She could have fought the battle of keeping her title, but chose not to. Vanessa is now enjoying a plethora of Grammy nominations, Image awards, and Tony award nominations.
Vanessa knew when to let go. She knew when a battle wasn’t worth fighting. The haters would never go away. Choosing fun, travel, and living with imperfection was a better option.
The funny thing about letting go of something is that even though some people struggle with it, you never regret letting go. I’m sure that Vanessa never looked back and said “If only I had continued to fight. I wish that I were still Miss America.” She didn’t beat herself up about her mistakes. She just chose not to fight a stupid battle. I quit smoking in 2003 and when I look back, I wonder how I ever did it. I smoked a pack and a half every day. When I’m around smokers now, I can’t believe that I ever had such a terrible habit.
Quitting is liberating and healing. And the older I get, the easier it is because I either just don’t care or because I don’t have the patience to hang on to things. I also have less time to waste on foolishness. Life is just too short.
I wish that Chuckie had the courage stop sneaking back here when I’m not here and eating the lasagna in my fridge. Just quit eating it and get out of my caboose. Go back to the conductor’s cabin. I know that it was him because of the Ragu sauce footprint.
“Celebrate endings, for they precede new beginnings.” ~Jonathan Lockwood Huie
All Aboard! Well passengers, enjoy the ride by reading on…and enjoy the LifeTrain Radio while you are here.
We often think of quitting as failure. We commend people for carrying on when times get rough. The heroes in our action movies don’t just give up when things get difficult. When was the last time you saw Steven Seagal walk away from a fight?
As the saying goes, “When the going gets tough, the tough get going.” Society expects us to fight back and battle on.
But sometimes, quitting is most definitely the right thing to do.
Sometimes, it’s the best option. A lot of people assume that it’s the easy thing to do—that only defeatists and good-for-nothin’ drop outs would even consider such a “cop-out.” This is not the case.
I learned this myself when I finally make that looming decision to end unhealthy relationships.” Even the words sound negative, as if I’ve fallen away from society, failing to meet my expectations. But I don’t see my decision as a negative thing at all, and oftentimes it wasn’t the easy thing to do.
I could have continued going against my instincts; it would have been easier to sail along, ignoring my unhappiness for a few more years instead of stepping out into the world alone. But I knew in my gut that the situation at the time wasn’t right for me, and that I needed something new. So I left, and no matter what friends, family, or acquaintances thought the decision, I know it was the right choice for me.
It doesn’t mean I was weak; it means I was brave enough to change what wasn’t right. Sometimes you feel in your gut that the path you thought you were meant to take is wrong for you. It takes a lot of courage to admit that, even to yourself, let alone to the rest of the world. Sometimes you have to leave that path and find a new one. Or, if there is no new path to be found, create a new one. This can apply to so many aspects of life—home, work, education, family, friends, relationships, and habits.
I’m not saying that if something doesn’t feel right or instantly work out that you should give up on it straight away. Carrying on is also brave and can be the right decision. But if you know that quitting something is the right thing to do, don’t be afraid to do so because of what others might think.
Make a change in your life if you know you need to…
We only have a limited amount of time and yet a limitless number of different paths to go down. Don’t waste your time on one that feels wrong, on something that is compromising your happiness. Find something new. We all quit something at some point, so don’t fear the stigma. Do what brings you happiness. Embrace the change.
“There are things known and there are things unknown, and in between are the doors.” ~Aldous Huxley.
Open some doors and let the air in. Breathe.
All Aboard! The LifeTrain!!!
All Aboard! Greetings Fellow passengers!
On some days everything seems to just go wrong. And sometimes it is not just days we’re talking about. But a week or months when things feel tough and rough and you just want to go home and give up. I’ve had many such days and periods but over the years I have also become a lot better at handling them and not letting them drag me down. So today I’d like to share 3 things to remember when your whole day, week or month(s) seems to go wrong. I hope they’ll be as helpful for you as they have been for me.
1. There is a brand new day tomorrow.
Just because this day or the last week didn’t go well doesn’t mean that there is not a brand new day tomorrow. A day when you can start anew. With taking action to move towards what you want, likely having a bit more luck and when it will be easier to see that this difficult time is only temporary and not permanent (even if it might feel that way right now).
2. I have handled tough situations in the past.
When you are standing in the middle of things going wrong then you might get a bit panicky. And lose faith in yourself and your abilities. Then look to the past for a bit of strength and confidence in what you can do. Doing this helps me to feel like I am standing on firmer ground again. And sometimes I can even find a solution I used for another challenge in the past that I can reuse or read just to get me out of this situation too.
3. What is going well in my life though?
It is very easy to get stuck in focusing on the negative things and so they drag you further and further down into self-criticism and negativity. But don’t forget that there are still things that are going well in your life. It may be small things. Or things you often take for granted like a roof over your head, clean water or three steady meals every day. I find that zooming out in this way helps me a lot to snap out of destructive thought patterns and to feel more level-headed again.
Have a “Super Fantastic” week ahead! All Aboard!
I just celebrated Fifty-seven years of life. But there was a bit of sadness involved. Last fall marked almost five years since I lost my mother.
I still remember the day we had her admitted to Hospice. The next morning a knock came at my bedroom window which was at the time my converted basement — it didn’t come to my front door; a sure sign bad news was coming. There was no way to say what my friend had to say next, so she just spat it out like sour milk: your mother has passed away. It seems that no one had been able to
reach me via phone because of course…the battery was dead. So she was contacted and thus became the bearer of bad news.
It’s been five years since that terrible fall. Much of it still doesn’t make sense to me, but the passing of time has softened the rawness of my grief and allowed moments of lightness to find their way back into my life, the way sunrise creeps around the edges of a drawn window shade.
Losing someone to a prolonged chronic illness makes you certain you’ll never see another sunrise, much less appreciate one. It isn’t true. I’m fifty-seven years old now and my life is bigger, scarier, and more fulfilling than I ever could have imagined. Grief helped get me here.
Grief is not something you can hack. There is no listicle that can reassemble your busted heart. But I have found that grieving can make your life richer in unexpected ways. Here are a few truths the biggest loss of my life has taught me:
- Dying is really about living.
I resented everyone who said some version of that old platitude, “Time heals all wounds.” Experience has taught me that time doesn’t offer a linear healing process so much as a slowly shifting perspective.
In the first raw months and years of grieving, I sometimes pushed away family and friends, afraid that they would leave too. With time, though, I’ve forged close relationships and learned to trust again. Grief wants you to go it alone, but we need others to light the way through that dark tunnel.
- No one will fill that void.
I have a mom-shaped hole in my heart. Turns out it’s not a fatal condition, but it is a primal spot that no one will ever fill. For a long time, I worried that with the closest relationship in my life suddenly severed, I would never feel whole again. Who would ever understand me in all the ways my mother did?
These days I have a very strong female role model in my life, but I harbor no illusions that she will take my mom’s place. I’ve slowly been able to let go of the guilt that I was replacing or dishonoring her by making room for others. Healing is not an act of substituting, but of expanding, despite the holes we carry.
- Be easy on yourself.
In the months after losing my mother, I was clumsy, forgetful and foggy. I can’t recall any of the sporting or social events I attended during that time. Part of my grieving process entailed beating myself up for what I could not control, and my brain fog felt like yet another failure.
In time, the fog lifted and my memories returned. I’ve come to see this as my mind going into survival mode with its own coping mechanisms.
Being kind to myself has never been my strong suit, and grief likes to make guilt its sidekick. Power walking, music, and journaling are three practices that help remind me that kindness is more powerful than listening to my inner saboteur.
- Use whatever works.
I’m not a Buddhist, but I find the concept of letting go and not clinging to anything too tightly to be powerful.
I found solace in Joan Didion’s memoir “The Year of Magical Thinking”.
I’m a devout Christian, so I found my voice in a ministry I started with some friends.
There isn’t a one-size-fits-all grieving method. Much of it comes down to flailing around until you find what works. Death is always unexpected; so too are the ways we heal.
- Gratitude wins.
We always feel that we lost a loved one too soon. My mom gave me fifty-two good years. Of course I would’ve liked more time, but self-pity and gratitude are flipsides of the same coin; choosing the later will serve you in positive ways, while the former gives you absolutely nothing.
- Choose to thrive.
My mom and I share similar temperaments. After her death, I worried I was also destined for an unhappy outcome. This is one of the many tricks that grief plays: it makes you think you don’t deserve happiness.
It’s easier to self-destruct than it is to practice self-care. I initially coped through isolating myself, but I knew this was only clouding my grieving process. I had to face the pain directly, and write my way through it. So I blogged.
Everyone has their own constructive coping mechanisms, and choosing those, even when it’s hard, is worth it in the long run. My mother may not have been able to find total happiness in her own life, but I know she would want that for me. No one is going to water you like a plant—you have to choose to thrive.
- Time heals, but on its own timeline.
“Time heals all wounds” is something I heard a lot. Here’s what I wish I had known: grief time does not operate like normal time. In the first year, the present was obscured entirely by the past. Grieving demanded that I revisit every detail leading up to losing my mom.
As I slowly started to find effective coping mechanisms, I began to feel more rooted in the present. My mood did not have to be determined by the hurts of the past.
There will always be good days and bad. This is the bargain we sign on for as humans. Once we make it through the worst days, we gain a heightened sense of appreciation for the small moments of joy to be found in normal days. Healing comes over time, but only if we’re willing to do the work of grieving.
- Let your loss highlight your gains.
I was living in Washington, DC at the time. It still shocks me that I built a life that I loved there having grown up in Ohio. It’s a gift I attribute to my mom. She was always supportive of my stubborn desire to pursue a career as a writer. After she died, the only thing that made sense to me was to write about the experience. Thus this article.
- Heartbreak is a sign of progress.
In the first years after the big loss, I assumed romance was dead to me. Why would I allow someone else to break my heart? Luckily I got past this fear to the point where I was able to experience a long and loving relationship. I have learned that the rewards of love always trump its risks.
- Grief makes us beginners.
Death is the only universal, and grieving makes beginners out of all of us. Yet grief affects us all in different ways. There is no instruction manual on how best to cope.
There is only time, day by day and sometimes minute by minute, to feel what works, and to cast aside what does not. In the five years I’ve learned to live without my mother, I’ve tried to see my grieving process as an evolutionary one. Loss has enriched my life in challenging, unexpected, and maybe even beautiful ways.
All Aboard, The LifeTrain!