Avoiding the Fog Of Overwhelm Part I

fog of overwhelm

An example of overwhelm: driving in the worst fog I’ve ever encountered, many years ago. I couldn’t see anything except the two red brake lights of the car ahead of me. I couldn’t see the lines of the road, and I dared not pull over to the side of the road for fear of being hit by another car. All I could do was keep my hands on the wheel, pray that the car in front of me knew where he was going, and hope that I would be able to see the sign for my exit.

I had no point of reference. I was overwhelmed by the fog and unable to do anything but hurtle through the mist, wishing for some clarity.

It reminds me of the time I was at IKEA, the furniture store, for the first time. They had the coolest stuff I’d ever seen. I wanted to see everything but apparently so did everyone else because the place was packed with people. However, after 2 hours, all I wanted to do was get the hell out of there. I literally wanted to run for the door, shove aside anyone in my way, and go find something to eat. I was getting more and more irritated by the minute and I felt like I wanted to scream, but I also felt like I was going to shut down at any minute. Ever felt like that?

I was overwhelmed. If you’ve ever felt this way, then you have experienced the fog of overwhelm.

Are you saving enough for retirement? Are the tires on your car in good shape? Have you called your mother yet? Are you ready for that event? What about taxes? Have you returned that phone call? When are you going to clean your house, fix the faucet, call the insurance guy, talk to your boss, pay that overdue bill, and schedule a physical? What are you going to fix for dinner tonight if you ever make it off this damn freeway?

This is the overwhelm of modern life.

From the time we wake up, to the time we manage to lay our heads down, we must think, remember, plan, manage time, deal with people, get lots of stuff done and hopefully, eat three meals and try to breathe.

There’s a potential cost to this: we spend our lives in a haze, irritable that we can’t see our way out, lost in a fog, stuck on a track with no scenery, with little choice to pull off because we’re too tired, too confused or too uncertain.

Here’s why: your mind has a certain capacity; like a cup, it will only hold so much. Continue to fill it past it’s capacity and you’ll have a big mess.

From the time we wake up, our minds start getting filled up. Our minds are designed to handle many incoming messages. Let’s call each bit of incoming information a ” message unit.” Your mind also has a filter (critical mind) that is designed to disregard things that don’t matter.

What determines how many message units our minds can handle? Many things: how much sleep you get, what you eat, your health, your level of organization, your level of confidence, your past, your genetics, to name a few.

Let’s say you went to bed too late, and woke up late for work. Now you are rushing around, no time to eat breakfast. You’re running late, and traffic is terrible. You try to text your boss but you almost hit the car in front of you. You arrive at work and there’s an important meeting that you are supposed to be in. You need a cup of coffee but there’s no time to get one. You end up working through lunch and now you are starving, tired, and headache cranky. That’s a lot of messages units coming into your mind.

What happens when you are in overwhelm? 

Your mind cannot take in more information because you are incapable of dealing with the onslaught of message units. You are experiencing the fog of overwhelm.

At this point, your critical mind, the part of your mind that is designed to deal with incoming message units,  is failing. You no longer have the ability to critically deal with what’s coming at you. You are now running around like the proverbial chicken without a head. Message units are flowing into your mind unchecked, like a dam that has burst. Guess what happens next?

Your flight or fight response, that ancient survival mechanism designed to prepare you to run or fight, kicks in. Congratulations, you are now in hypnosis. 

The technical definition of hypnosis is: an overload of message units, disorganizing the critical mind, triggering the fight/flight response, creating a state of hyper-suggestibility, creating access to the subconscious mind.

However, this is not the good kind of hypnosis where a nice gentlemen like myself is speaking to you gently using positively wonderful suggestions while you recline in a comfy happy chair.

Nope. This is the bad kind of hypnosis where you can’t think straight, can’t see straight, can’t make a decision to save your life, and you are giving yourself positively dreadful suggestions like “I can’t stand this, how did I get here, I want to kill someone, I’m so tired, I’m so angry and irritable, I hate this, and all I want to do is run screaming out of here before I punch someone out.” (Did I mention that in this state you’re hyper-suggestible which means super open to suggestions?)

It’s quite difficult to be effective in the fog of overwhelm because there is no clarity and you are like a zombie. Difficult to make the right decisions, difficult  to keep your cool when someone gets snarky with you, because you are now reactive rather than pro-active. But it’s easy to forget stuff, let things slip through the cracks, and easy to allow negativity or anxiety to overtake you.

Think about how many people are in this state on a daily basis. 

So what can we do? How do we handle the fog of overwhelm when we are so turned around we’ve lost our bearings and there are no signposts available? I’ll talk about this in my next post “The Fog of Overwhelm Part II.” Stay tuned. 

p.s. Check out my podcast Ted In Your Head Episode 21 “Are You a Zombie?”

 

 

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What About The Voice in Your Head?

the voice in your head

Photo by Stephen Huber

You have the Voice in your head. You probably know this. If you don’t, you should.

You may be thinking: “What voice? What is he talking about? I don’t have a voice. Maybe he has a voice in his head, but I certainly do not have one in mine.” Well, that’s what I’m talking about. It’s OK, we all have the Voice in our head. Maybe more than one.

This voice in your head goes by many names. Thinking, Monkey Mind, Internal Chatter, Running Commentary, Self Talk. This voice allows us to make sense of our world. We judge, we analyze, we compare. We search for meaning, patterns, relationships. What most people call this voice is Me. I. Myself.

The important thing to remember here is that the Voice in your head is not you, it’s a tool that you use. Just like a hammer is not you.

The problem is, we think the Voice is who we are. Consequently, we believe everything the Voice says.

Did you ever have the experience of saying something out loud, and then you thought to yourself  “That is totally something my (mother, father) would say.”

Is that your voice? Or is it your mother or father’s voice? (or grandmother, grandfather,  teacher, coach, etc.) How much of the voice in your head is really your own? How much of the voice in your head is the voice of someone else?

In my hypnotherapy practice, I call it self talk. The question I ask my clients is: Is your self talk serving you?

Think about it: is the voice in your head supportive? Encouraging? Or, do you call yourself names, even in jest? Have you ever heard the voice say:

  • I am no good at _____
  • I’m a failure
  • I’ll never be able to ___
  • I’m such an idiot.
  • I hate looking at myself in the mirror.
  • Nobody will go out with me because I”m too (old, young, dumb, unattractive, poor, shy, fat, skinny,etc.)

One of the most difficult things for us as modern humans is to get some distance from the voice so that we can observe it.

That’s why meditation can be so valuable. It allows us to set time aside so that we can step back and observe the voice in your head.

Why is that a good thing? Because most of us are slaves to the voices in our heads. Until we can observe the voice with some kind of detachment, it rules us.

Do you want more freedom from unwanted thoughts? More piece of mind? Try this: throughout the day, ask yourself the following questions:

  • What’s happening in my mind right now?
  • What am I thinking now?
  • Why do I think that?
  • How do I know that’s true?
  • How do those thoughts make me feel?

It’s called self inquiry and it’s powerful.

Realize that you create your reality using the voice in your head, with your thinking, thought by thought, sentence by sentence. We end up believing the reality we create, and we act  from these beliefs.

What about that voice in your head? Let it chatter, but don’t believe everything it tells you.

Ted

 

It’s Better to Be Grateful than Dead

Grateful

Why do we have only one day a year dedicated to giving thanks? If it was up to me, we would have Thanksgiving day once a week, (minus the huge feast). Think about it: if you lived 80 years, having Thanksgiving day once a year would give you 80 days when you were reminded to be grateful. If you had it every week, you’d have 4,160 days reminding you to make to be grateful. Think that would make a difference in your life? I do.

What’s so great about being grateful? Well, try going a whole week without saying thank you or being appreciative for anything. Complain loud and incessantly that whole week. Walk around with a feeling of entitlement, that the world owes you, and see how you feel. Compare and despair while bemoan what you don’t have. (What? You’re doing already that? You better call me immediately at 626-826-0612 or click here and I’ll give you 25 bucks off your next session.)

Gratitude is not just an attitude, it’s an energy that you generate. If you’re looking for it, you might feel it driving down the freeway in the shadow of beautiful mountains painted in red by the setting sun, or standing outside at night freezing your buns off awash in the glory of a full moon. It make take some practice generating that grateful attitude until you’re feeling  moments of bliss on a regular basis, but believe me, it’s worth it.

Being grateful is not just something you say or think, it’s a feeling that sustains you through the tough times, or gives you the icing when you’ve got your cake and you’re eating it too.

Everything looks better, feels better, works better when you’re grateful. Feeling grateful feels good. Feeling good is good for you, physically, emotionally and spiritually. We know that prolonged negative feelings can adversely impact health. And really, feeling thankful as a way of life is not that hard to do.

Taking it grateful instead of for granted.

I recently had a health scare with one of my children. More like a health terror, because that’s what it felt like. It put me in a place where all I wanted to do was hold both of them tightly and never let go. All of a sudden, their noisiness was not so noisy, their messiness not so messy. What a small price to pay to be able to kiss them while they sleep. I don’t every want to take them for granted; I hope I can always feel blessed that they are in my life.

Sometimes you really get that Life is fragile and unpredictable. One second too soon or a minute too late and there’s a funeral, or some other tragedy, loss or catastrophe. Anything can be taken from you at any time. I appreciate my grandmothers and grandfathers so much more now that they are gone than I ever did when they were alive. Didn’t really appreciate my siblings and parents until I was far, far away from them.

Maybe you need to go through some tough times to really appreciate the  blessings that have been bestowed upon you. My advice is: don’t wait for that to happen.

Every time I see a person sitting at a bus stop in the freezing cold or blazing heat, I’m thankful I have a car. With air conditioning and a heater. I know what it’s like to be cold, hungry, lonely and broke, so now that I’m warm, well fed and surrounded by my family, I’m feeling most of the time like life is grand.

There may be some dead that are grateful aside from Jerry Garcia and the band, but maybe the highest form of gratitude you can have is feeling lucky to be alive.

To be alive means you can be grateful. You get to have that chance. For your sake, take it. You’ve been given the fertile ground to plant and harvest the seeds of gratitude before that ground becomes your bed. Be thankful. For   every    single   little   thing.

(If you’re having trouble feeling the love as the holiday season approaches and you need some help, contact me by clicking here for a free 30 minute phone session.)

Ted A. Moreno
 
Photo by Skye Moorhead
www.skyemoorhead.com
 

31 Scary Questions to Ask Yourself

 

It’s all about scary this week as we approach Halloween and Day of the Dead. 

It’s a time when it’s fun to be scared, as long as we know that it’s just a movie, or someone dressed up as the walking dead.

Truth is, there are plenty of really scary things out there.  But by far, the scariest things are those that we hide from ourselves, the things that we are afraid to deal with.

Unresolved issues that haunt us, pain we can’t seem to release, resentment that traps us in unhappiness. These are the monsters under the bed, the goblins that we spend so much energy keeping locked in the closet, for fear of what they might do if looked at them.

Of course,  once we turn on the bedroom light, look under the bed and throw the closet door open, we find that there is nothing to fear.

Shining the light of our awareness on those things that we don’t want to deal with allows us to see them clearly.Then we can take the opportunity to clean them up or straighten things out.

Asking yourself a few scary questions can help you transform an unseen ghoul into Casper the Friendly Ghost. (Who really just wants to lend a helping hand.)

Ask yourself these 31 scary questions and see if any of them make you a little freaky. If so, perhaps you are starting to exorcise some demons! Keep asking yourself those questions and see what comes up.

31 Scary Questions to ask yourself.

  1. Am I happy?
  2. If I’m not, am I waiting for something to happen to be happy?
  3. Is it possible for me to decide to be happy now?
  4. Do I know what I want?
  5. Have I given up on getting the things I  want that are truly important to me?
  6. What fear keeps me from living the life I want?
  7. Have I become cynical, negative, or resigned?
  8. Do I like myself?
  9. Am I able to quickly name 10 great things about me?
  10. Am I taking care of myself?
  11. If no, do I feel I’m worth taking care of myself?
  12. Am I getting the love and attention I want and need?
  13. Do I have fun regularly?
  14. Do I have fulfilling social interactions?
  15. Am I expressing myself honestly and authentically?
  16. Is there someone I need to forgive?
  17. Is there resentment burning inside of me  that I need to resolve or express in a healthy, productive manner?
  18. Is there a negative belief that I need to  release or let go of?
  19. Is there a change I need and should make NOW?
  20. Why am I here?
  21. Is there a valid reason for the things that I am doing that are stressful and overwhelming?
  22. Am I giving me the me time  I need?
  23. Do I have regular moments of peace, calm and tranquility?
  24. Do I have frequent feelings of gratitude?
  25. Do I complain a lot?
  26. Do I hang around negative people that bring me down?
  27. Is my work meaningful and fulfilling?
  28. Do I compare myself to others and find it creates despair?
  29. Am I caught up in a lifestyle that I  feel is not meaningful to me?
  30. Am I happy with the answers I have to these questions?
  31. If not, what can I do today to change?

Perhaps a few of these scary questions brought up some stuff. You might not be able to answer some of these scary questions in the way you feel you should or would like to.

If so, copy those scary questions and paste them into a word or notepad etc. document. Delete all the questions that don’t have an emotional charge for you. Keep deleting until you have about 5 or 10 of the biggest, baddest scary questions that are giving you the heebie jeebies.

Now keep these questions where you will see them. Maybe write them down on a 3×5 card and carry them around with you. Keep asking yourself these scary questions with awareness so that you can move beyond fear, negative self- judgement and shame and into the possibility of changing the answers.

For instance, to the question: “Do I like myself?” you might answer “No! I don’t! And it really sucks! I hate that I don’t like myself! 

See if you can move into non-judgement: “OK, I don’t like myself. I’m probably not the only one. I’m not a terrible person because I don’t like myself. But I want to like myself. So what can I do to begin to like myself?” 

See how many of those scary questions you can bury by committing to some action. Bless and release old ways of being that no longer serve you and that are ready to be laid to rest. Then continue on your journey, a little more confident, on your way to an attitude of gratitude.

Need some help on your journey? You can contact me by clicking here.

Ted

The Right Question Is Better Than the Answer

The right question

“Judge a man by his questions, rather than his answers.”

~Voltaire

Sometimes the right question is more important than the answer.

When we ask a question, especially to ourselves,  we expect an answer. We all want answers. But sometimes, asking the right question is more important than getting an answer.

Questions often contain beliefs. So when we ask a question that has a belief hidden in it, we will get an answer that is confined by that belief.  So you want to ask the right question to get an answer filled with possibility.

For example, say you make a mistake, then ask the question “What’s wrong with me?” The question contains the belief that there is something wrong with you. You might not think there is, but ask that question enough times and your subconscious mind starts accepting that belief. Here are answers you are likely to get:

  • Because you’re an idiot
  • Because you always screw it up
  • Because you are a loser

There is no access to possibility in these answers.

Another example:  “Why is this bad thing happening to me?”

The question assumes the belief that something bad is happening to you. It suggests that you are a victim to circumstance.

Possible answers based on that belief:

  • You deserve to be punished
  • You are unlucky
  • God hates you

Do you see how these two questions are not good questions to ask, even lightly?

After all,  what’s wrong with you might be what causes you to make the mistake that wakes you up and transforms your life.

And that negative thing that happened to you? Maybe it happened for your own good and what you learned saves your life someday. What if, on some level,  you drew that experience to you? We have to consider that possibility, don’t we? That what is happening to you is just you?

But you’ll never even get close to what is possible for you if you don’t ask the right question.

Instead of “Why is this happening to me”, the right question might be: “What is the reason I brought this experience to me?” That questions contains the hidden belief that you created that experience for a reason, perhaps for learning and wisdom.

Now, it may not be “true” that you created your experience for learning and wisdom. But it seems like a helluva better question for creating the possibility of learning and wisdom.

The right question might also be:

  • What can I learn from this experience? or
  • What is being shown to me from this experience? or
  • Why am I having this reaction to this experience?

Instead of “What’s wrong with me?, the right question might be:

  • How can I avoid this mistake in the future? or
  • What can I learn from this mistake? or
  • What’s right with me right now in the face of this mistake?

The right question can always be asked in a number of different ways.

The right question can be so powerful it doesn’t need an answer.

Sometimes, just asking the right question opens the mind and makes it available to receive information, although perhaps not specific answers.

For instance, take the big 3 questions of existence:

  • Who am I? (creates the possibility for self knowledge and self awareness)
  • Why am I here? (assumes the belief that I have a purpose for being here.)
  • Where am I going? (assumes that belief that I have a destination after death)

These are powerful questions. You can spend the rest of your life pondering these questions and never get an answer. (Most folks don’t bother.)  However, if you are diligent in asking these questions with clear intent, it’s possible that you will come to see things that most people don’t see. Some of the mysteries of the universe might be revealed to you. How could they not?

I don’t want to get too philosophical, I’m simply suggesting that language is powerful and that asking the right question will determine the quality of what you receive.

  • Instead of “What’s wrong with people?” ask “What is it about us humans that produces that behavior?
  • Instead of “Why can’t I get it right?” ask “How can I get the result I want?”
  • Instead of  “Why can’t I be successful?” ask “What are the actions I need to take to be successful?”
  • Instead of “Why does this always happen?” ask “How can I keep this pattern from occurring so often?”

To make this a powerful consciousness-raising exercise (assuming you are interested in such a thing) get in the habit of asking the right question. Whenever you ask a question, ANY question, step back and ask yourself “Is this the right question to ask?” If asking the question opens the door to possibility, you know that you have asked the right question.

Ted

Meditation: Is it for You?

Meditation

Young children meditating in a Peruvian school.

“Meditation is a lifelong gift. It’s something you can call on at any time. I think it’s a great thing.” ~Paul McCartney

“At the end of the day, I can end up just totally wacky, because I’ve made mountains out of molehills. With meditation, I can keep them as molehills.~Ringo Starr. If you are old enough, you know that Paul and Ringo hung out in India with Maharishi Mahesh Yogi, the founder of Transcendental Meditation.

“I’m quite a neurotic thinker, quite an adrenalized person. But after meditation, I felt this beautiful serenity and selfless connection.” ~Russel Brand. He’s kinda wacky. He probably should be meditating or on meds.

“Meditation is all about the pursuit of nothingness. It’s like the ultimate rest. It’s better than the best sleep you’ve ever had. It’s a quieting of the mind. It sharpens everything, especially your appreciation of your surroundings. It keeps life fresh.”  ~Hugh Jackman. The Wolverine meditates?

“We all have within us a deep well of creativity, which we can access if we can settle down into those deep, calm places, those serene moments that Transcendental Meditation offers.” ~ That’s Dr.Oz, vice chair and professor of surgery at Columbia University in New York City where he performs more than 300 heart operations a year.

Meditation seems right for some well known celebrities. So it it right for you? 

There are many ways to define what meditation is. Most definitions agree that meditation (often referred to as mindfulness practice) is a practice used to bring the mind and body under greater self control for mental well being, relaxation and concentration,  building one’s energy or life force, or to foster qualities such as compassion, love and forgiveness.

Meditation has been practiced since antiquity mostly as a part of religious traditions and beliefs. There are meditation practices that involve sitting, standing, walking, moving (such as tai chi) and even dancing.

So why would you want to meditate? I can only give you my opinion as someone who has meditated in the past and who is trying to get back to it as a daily practice.

Most research has been done on the Transcendental Meditation technique with hundreds of studies published. So there are some proven health benefits of meditation: reduced cortisol (the stress hormone), lowered anxiety and depression, reduced insomnia, lower blood pressure and risk of stroke and heart attack, and increased learning ability and memory.

I think the best reason to meditate, in my opinion, is to get to know and be at peace with yourself. The Tibetan word for meditation is “gom” which means “to become familiar with one’s self”. I think that’s important because whatever we can become familiar with, we can become comfortable with.

We are uncomfortable with ourselves when we have thoughts and feelings that create stress, tension and unhappiness. Sometimes it seems that we are at war with ourselves as we deal with conflicting thoughts and feelings about who we are, what we do and the circumstances of our lives.

The reason our thoughts and feelings can create negativity within us is because we identify with our thoughts and feelings. We believe our thoughts and feelings and we become attached to them.

What meditation allows us to do is to observe our inner process and see it for what is is: our inner process, and not who we are. 

If you have ever had the experience of telling yourself “I don’t need to let that (person or circumstance) bother me any more” then you know what it feels like to detach from conditioned reactions.

Is meditation right for you? It is if

  • you desire more peace of mind
  • you desire more control over what you think
  • you desire a greater sense of self awareness
  • you desire a deeper sense of being present to the experience of your life.

I am not an expert in meditation nor am I a meditation teacher . But I would like to give you a very simple technique that can introduce you to the benefits of meditation. Meditation is a practice, and becomes more powerful if done daily.

  • Start with 5 minutes at a time when you can be still and quiet. Sit in a chair with your feet flat on the floor and your hands resting in on your thighs or lap. Do this at a time of day when you don’t feel rushed and won’t be disturbed.
  • Focus and become aware of your body:  how it feels, what the energy of your body is like, what’s going on inside your body. Just notice.
  • Take a few deep, slow breaths and close your eyes.
  • Now let your breathing happen by itself and just watch it. Put your attention on your breathing.
  • Thoughts will come up. Your mind will drift. You may have feelings.  That’s ok. Notice whatever comes up, let it go and go back to your breathing.
  • See if you can be aware of the constant parade of thoughts, images and feeling that flow through your mind. You will find yourself getting carried away by your thoughts. Just keep bringing your attention back to your breathing. Some people find it helpful to count breaths to 10 and then start again.
  • Don’t get attached to doing it right. The key is not to stop your thoughts or prevent the mind from doing what it does. You just want to observe.
  • Do this daily. Try to up it to ten or twenty minutes.

There is much information available about meditation including classes, books and online information. My friend Julia Hilton has an excellent book Basics of Meditation: The First Steps to Changing Your Mind and Your World.

To be able to sit quietly and comfortably with yourself and get familiar with your own mind is an invaluable gift that can be life changing. Consider giving it to yourself.

Ted

The Most Important Thing

The most important thing is to be awake

John Everett Millais, The Somnambulist, 1871

The Most Important Thing. What is it?

The Dalai Lama says spreading a message of harmony is the most important thing.

Audrey Hepburn said it’s to enjoy your life.

Princess Diana said it was family.

John Wayne said tomorrow is the most important thing.

Steve Jobs said it was remembering that he will soon be dead.

John Wooden said it was faith.

Oscar Wilde said that when he was young he thought money was the most important thing but that when he was old he knew it was.

Some will say love. Some say success. Many say that to be happy is the most important thing.

What do you think is the Most Important Thing?

With respect to all of the above mentioned, I’ll tell you what I think is the most important thing.

The most important thing is to be awake. 

Wait! You might say. I AM awake!

Are you sure?

To be awake means not only to have your eyes open and walking around but to be aware that you are doing so.

Have you ever driven to work and not remembered the drive?

To be asleep and dreaming at night means to see visions taking place in your head, while being totally unaware that you are asleep. (except if you’re lucid dreaming.)

To be driving, (or working or talking or walking) while your head is crowded with thoughts and images that leave you without a deep awareness of what’s in front of you is just another level of sleep. And in my opinion, many people are sleepwalking through life.

The most important thing is to be awake.

How important can your family be if whenever you are with them, you are a thousand miles away, consumed with stuff in your head that  has no more substance than your nighttime dreams?

How important can love or money be if you are never awake enough to fully appreciate the love and money that you DO have?

To be awake is the most important thing because when you are awake you have a choice. YOU get to choose how you participate in life.

If you’re not awake, then you are on the couch watching an endless stream of sounds and images go by making you feel happy, sad or indifferent, never knowing that you have the power to change the channel whenever you want to.

If you are not awake, you are walking through life mechanically, like a robot, obeying your programming without question, a somnambulist (the technical term for people that walk in their sleep).

When you are awake, then it’s all simply fascinating and you can change the channel if you want to.

When you are awake, you are able to see what IS, unobscured by what should be, could be or how you want it to be.

When you are awake, you are aware that whatever meaning anything has, it has it because of you.

When you are awake, you are aware of the thoughts in your head as only thoughts in your head and aware of your tendency to believe everything you think.

When you are awake, it’s ok to feel the pain, just like it’s ok to feel the joy.

When you are awake, you are aware that your beliefs are beliefs and are not the “truth.”

When you are awake you can change any belief any time you want to.

To be awake, like Steve Jobs said, is to have the awareness that all too soon you will sleep the endless sleep.

Do you still believe you are awake? Did you once believe in Santa Claus?

If so, then challenge the belief that you are. Ask yourself “What if I’m not as awake as I think I am?” For a few days, go on the presumption that this may be true. Look for times when you are sleeping through your life while walking around acting as if you are awake.

Consider that it might be true that life is but a dream.  Because, how do you know it’s not?

Ted

12 Ways to Cultivate Gratitude

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  1. Take responsibility for your ability to feel grateful now. Realize that nothing outside of you needs to change or be different for you to feel grateful.
  2. Have a mantra. Create the habit of repeating a word or phrase to say throughout the day to bring you into present moment awareness. “Be Here Now”, or “What is this?” or “This is my life, right here, right now.”
  3. Get out of your head and observe the world around you. Notice objects, shapes, colors, designs. Be aware how things reflect light, how they are constructed, how things wear down. Notice without judgment, only with perception.
  4. God is in the details. Take time to look closely and deeply into things. Feel the surface of something and get present to the textures and what that does for you (or not). Really look into peoples’ faces; notice eyes, hair, and how they use their hands.
  5. Listen fully and completely. Choose to just listen. Not defend or retort. Don’t miss what is being said because you are formulating what you are going to say. When listening to music, just sit and listen. Right now, what do you hear?
  6. Focus on something that brings you peace. Some people carry beads. Some listen to music. Some read. Playing music, walking, gardening, petting an animal, are all simple things. Powerful and easily done, they allow us to focus and become one with what we are doing.
  7. Take time for things. We have been hypnotized into believing we should cram as much as we can into each day. Productivity to achieve goals is a worthy aspiration, but taking on too much and running around all the time becomes a grind. Do less better.
  8. Be with nature.
  9. Expand your awareness. At any moment, try to get connected to what is within 50 feet of you. (You’re in a building.) Then go out 100 yards. (You’re in a neighborhood, complex, city block.) Expand your awareness to your city, state, part of the world. See yourself as part of a larger whole.
  10. Realize that it’s a process. It’s about the journey. Try to detach from results. They may or may not be important tomorrow or in a week or month. Instead, focus on how you are being, instead of what you are doing.
  11. Visual reminders. Flowers, statutes of holy beings, little signs. Look at them throughout the day and breathe and say thank you. These things have a tendency to become unnoticeable as part of the scenery so move them often.
  12. Just sit. Sit quietly. Don’t do anything. Eyes open or closed. Call it meditation or whatever. Be with yourself powerfully.

 So much of living from gratitude comes from letting go of our ideas of how the world should be, ought to be, could be or how we would like it to be. Try to do this regularly for just a short period of time. The idea is to get to the point where you can say truthfully “It’s all good.”

Ted

626.826.0612

You’ve Got to Be Alive to Have Gratitude

Gratitude

There may be some dead that are grateful aside from Jerry Garcia and the band, but maybe the highest form of gratitude  is feeling lucky to be alive.

I find it interesting that we only have one day a year dedicated to giving thanks. What if every week we had a Thanksgiving day? (Minus the huge feast, of course.) If you lived 80 years, Thanksgiving Day once a year would give you 80 days when you were reminded to give thanks. If you had it every week, you’d have 4,160 days set aside for gratitude. Do you think that would make a difference in your life?

So what’s the big deal about gratitude? Well, try going one week without saying thank you or being appreciative for anything. Complain loud and incessantly the whole week. Walk around feeling that the world owes you, and see what that does for you. Compare and despair while you enviously desire what others have that you don’t. (What? You’re doing already that? Call me immediately at 626-826-0612 for 10% off a session.)

Gratitude is not just an attitude; it’s a feeling that you generate through presence. Get out of your head and look around you. Can you feel it while gazing into your child’s face? Stepping out on the porch at sunset to bid the day adieu?  Standing outside at night awash in the glory of a full moon?  It takes some practice generating it until you’re feeling moments of bliss on a regular basis. It’s worth it and not that hard to do.

Gratitude can sustain you through the tough times, or give you the icing when you’ve got your cake and you’re eating it too.

Everything looks better, feels better, works better when you’re grateful. Feeling grateful feels good and is good for you, physically, emotionally and spiritually.

Sometimes I’m woken up in the middle of the night. “I’m scared Daddy!” I let them get in the bed even though it means less of a sound sleep.  It’s a small price to pay for the smell of their hair, the sound of their breathing. All too soon I might keep myself awake wondering if they are ok and when they will be home.

Life is fragile and unpredictable. One second too soon or a minute too late and there’s a funeral, tragedy, loss or catastrophe. Anything can be taken from you at any time. Some folks need to go through tough times to really appreciate the blessings that have been bestowed upon them. I suggest that you don’t wait for that to happen.

To be alive means you can be grateful. You get to have that chance. For your sake, take it. You’ve been given the fertile ground to plant and harvest the seeds of gratitude before that ground becomes your bed. Be thankful. For   every    single   little   thing.

 Ted

Photo by Skye Moorhead

The Flash of Light That is My Life

Photo by Skye Moorhead

Photo by Skye Moorhead

Photo by Skye Moorhead

 

 

This post was originally published in September 2010. I am now 53, my oldest daughter had completed first grade and my youngest, kindergarten.

I was having a conversation with two colleagues recently about how quickly time passes. One said that he still felt like a kid inside. The other said “We all feel that way, yet, when I think about being 60, I realize that I’m nearer to the end of my life than the beginning.

I figure I’m about halfway, at 50 years old. That was fast.

The day before, my oldest daughter started her second week of kindergarten. It was the first chilly day after temps of 100+ here in So Cal.  I walked through the schoolyard with my daughter and there were sights and sounds I’ve not experienced for many years: children in line, backpacks, classrooms. I still remember my first day of first grade. Has it been 45 years?  My daughter’s in school now, how did that happen so quickly? Is summer over already? Everything is happening so quickly…

I was camping out on Lake Mohave last weekend with my brothers and brother-in-law. The first night on the lake we were treated to an incredible lightning storm. We were surrounded on every inch of the horizon by constant lightning flashes, continuously lighting up the pitch black night. It was incredible; something I’ve seen only a handful of times and only while living in Arizona.

Today, my first day back at work, I drove from my 7 am business meeting to my office, but I didn’t stop; I drove right by. I wasn’t ready to go in there, sit down, and be contained within four walls. I drove aimlessly for a while, listening to Elvis Costello sing “Poor Fractured Atlas.”

I ended up sitting at an outdoor table at a café. I sit there now, the air is cool, and it’s still quiet. The sun shining on me feels good.  There are lots of trees and flowers. There’s a nursery next door, when I’m ready to leave I will walk slowly through it, to be close to the green and living things.

Photo by Skye Moorhead

Photo by Skye Moorhead

Coming back from a few days at the lake is always tough for me. My mind is slow, and I find myself resisting the transition back to “regular”, busy life.  I want another hour to sit, to watch, to think, to feel my life happen. I’m not ready to go back to work yet, just give me another hour. There will always be work to do. And life will continue to fly by. For now, I’m standing outside the stream of my life, where I can drink with intention and clarity.

As if in confirmation, a bell rings at the train station, it’s message: “Train coming, better get on board.” A dragonfly flys by me. The last one I saw was at the lake, two days ago as I sat peacefully looking out over the water and reflecting on my life. It seemed to remind me “Don’t let it go…”

Life is precious and short. To stay on board with your own life you’ve got to pay attention, or you’ll miss what matters, as it goes by quickly. While sitting in your seat on the ride of your life, you’ve got to look out the window and be present to your own life as it passes by; the valleys, the peaks, the plateaus, the darkness, the light.

There is a Japanese folk song I like called Sakura Sakura (Cherry Blossoms). To the Japanese, the fleeting beauty of the cherry blossoms symbolizes the brevity of life and the frailty of existence. Like the life of a man or woman, the petals are brief, colorful, and bright for the short duration of their life before they wither and die.

Life is meaningful, profound, and precious precisely because it will be done too soon, and I find myself very present to that now. I can’t help but ponder the Big Question: Why are we here, just to be gone in a flash?

I think about that lightning storm. Maybe it’s all about the light. It’s said that everything living is light bound into matter. What if the most profound legacy we can leave, in the short flash of a spark that is a person’s life, is the light that we bring to the darkness? Those that we revere through history, whose lives and teachings we honor in church and temple, in music and art, were all bringers of light.  That light gives us hope, guidance and comfort as we continue along on our journey that is this life.

I think the biggest problem that humans face, and the biggest obstacle to peace and happiness is that we are blind to our own light. We fail to see it because we’re not taught to, or shown how. So how can we see the light in others?

If I can be present to this brief and singular burst of color that is my life, if I can know myself as this lightning flash bound into matter, then maybe I can know your light. And if you can’t see it, then maybe I can help you see it. Should I find myself in darkness, maybe you can help me find mine.

After I’m gone, I don’t want my kids to remember me for how hard I worked, how much money I made, or how much respect I got. I want them to remember that I helped them know and honor their own light, because I was in touch with mine. I want to light the way for them.

And so I go back to work, back to the busy, but now with a bit more peace. The reason I’m here is to know my light, and then shine it, wherever, whenever, and however I can, into the pitch black of our own blindness.  May we all light the way for each other.

If you liked this post, please leave a comment and/or share it with your social networks.

 Ted

www.TedMoreno.com                                                                        
 (626) 826-0612
Photos by Skye Moorhead
www.skyemoorhead.com