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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

 

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

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

Five Steps to Finding Your Life’s Purpose (Guaranteed!)

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Purpose? Uh, I’m a little busy right now…

There seem to be a lot of people these days looking for their life’s purpose. I googled “How to find your life’s purpose” and came up with 94 million results. I searched a few of the 94 million results and found that most involved writing stuff down, going back to childhood, what brings you joy, etc. When I was looking for my life’s purpose, none of those things helped.

If you are like a lot of people looking through the 94 millions results looking for clues as to how to find their life’s purpose, look no more. Here are five easy steps to finding  your purpose, guaranteed. Now, you must follow these steps exactly to get this right. Read more

The Inner Critic: Listen Up

Today’s post is by guest author Craig Mollins, who writes about why your inner critic may have something valuable to tell you. In the process of personal transformation, we seek to be open to what our minds, as well as our bodies, are telling us, even if we don’t want to hear.

The inner critic gets a bad rap ever time. “Silence your inner critic!”, “Avoid the inner critic, it will sabotage your best efforts,” or “Your inner critic is your worst enemy”, are common wisdom we often hear about this negative voice inside. However instead of running from this negative voice inside, perhaps we might slow down and take a good look at it. We might be very surprised at what we discover.

Facing our Demons Head On

This is like facing our demons in our dreams. If you are having a recurring nightmare where something big, bad and ugly is chasing you, the advice is to turn around and face it, head on, eye to eye. Suddenly the demon stops being a demon, you realize that it’s simply something that has been trying to get your attention. You have been so dedicated to avoiding it that it grew and and got stronger and eventually took the form of a demon hunting you down.

It’s the same with any negative energy in our life. If we take the approach of simply shutting it off and avoiding it, we may set ourselves up for trouble later on.

What is your inner critic trying to tell you? If you stop and listen you can find out. There is a message buried beneath the negativity. It’s not all bad, there is something wise coming from the depths. You just need to see through the blindness of the negativity to see the jewel of wisdom shining beneath.

The Wisdom You are Missing

For example let’s say you want to start a blog, but whenever you begin you run into the self sabotaging thought, “I can’t write, nobody will read my blog posts…” When this happens, you hate yourself for having the negative thought, so you react with, “Darn, why am I so negative!!!” You blame yourself for your negative thinking, but you never really get down to the heart of the matter, which is to listen to the negative thought and see why it is there.

Perhaps you are right, perhaps writing is not your thing at all, and it would be wise to move on and find what it is you really want to do. Or perhaps you are a great writer but you’ve settled on a topic you don’t really know anything about, and you simply need to look more carefully at your choice of topic. Or maybe you are a brilliant writer after all, and this blog idea has been your way of avoiding the challenge of writing that best seller.

But meanwhile, you have been so dedicated to silencing your inner critic that you didn’t take the time to discover what is actually going on inside of you. So the next time you hear a voice inside screaming, “You can’t do that!!!”, slow down and listen to why that voice is there. You might be amazed at what you will learn.

Craig Mollins promotes a mindfulness approach to anger management at: mindfulnessangermanagement.com.

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

Your companion on the journey to transformation,

Ted (TMan) Moreno

How to Be Peaceful

greenpeace

Peace. In the media you will hear that word almost daily. Peace talks. Peace in the Middle East. The peace process. Peace activists. Nobel Peace Prize. Peace of mind. Peace and quiet.

Most people want and strive for peace. Yet, peace seems in  short supply these days. Why is peace so rare in our lives, as well as in the world at large? Sometimes it appears that long lasting peace is almost impossible. Granted, there exists an abundance of beauty and harmony, and even though it may not seem like it, the vast majority of the world is not at war (at least not in political wars.) In spite of that, we must acknowledge that as a race, we have a long and bloody history of violence, murder, war, and genocide. I think we can agree that we can do better. Read more

25 Wonderful Things To Do First Thing in the Morning

First thing in the morning

I believe that what you do first thing in the morning will determine how the rest of the day goes.  For the first half hour after you wake up, you’re are in a state of hypnosis, so what you do gets impressed upon your mind and has an effect on your day.

Here’s some ideas for starting your day in a powerful way. Pick one or two that you think will work for you and try them out. You won’t believe the difference it makes when you choose what you’re going to do first thing in the morning.

  1. Get up earlier. Getting up earlier gives you more day and  more peace and quiet. You also give yourself  more time to do some of the things you want to do. Start by setting your alarm 15 minutes earlier. Then, drink a big glass of water.
  2. Have a daily ritual that creates awareness, peace and serenity. NOT watching/ listening to the news, reading the paper or Facebook. Pick a few things from this list and put them together to create your own ritual that you do first thing in the morning.
  3. Make your first thought of the day a positive thought. The night before, write down the positive thought that you want to have as the first thought of the day. “It’s going to be a good day!” or “Glad I’m alive!” or maybe a gratitude list. I have a list of affirmations that I read to focus my mind on what I want to create.
  4. Create your day. I got this from Dr. Joe Dispenza who was in the film “What The Bleep Do We Know!? Create your day first thing in the morning or the night before by imagining how you want your day to be. Say to yourself: “Today I will experience inspiration (or relaxation fun, etc.).  Today I will attract things that  inspire me. When they happen I will know that I created it.”  Believe you can affect the universe.
  5. Read and visualize your goals. Your mind cannot distinguish between what is real and what is vividly imagined. The mind likes and moves toward what is known. Get your mind comfortable with your goals first thing in the morning by closing your eyes and seeing yourself doing what you want to do, having what you want to have and being who you want to be.
  6. Pray or meditate. Get in touch with the Infinite, whatever you consider that to be. It could be as simple as sitting in a chair and breathing, or in a lotus position or on your knees. Use a candle, beads, rosary,  incense or chanting. Take time to inquire within.
  7. Go outside. Let the sun shine it’s rays upon you. Breathe in the fresh morning air. Walk barefoot through the grass. Drink your coffee,  and eat your breakfast outside. If you do yoga in the living room floor, do it outside.
  8. Do something in the garden. Water, weed, plant or harvest. Pick a tomato or a bunch of flowers for a vase. Or just sit there in amazement and wonder.
  9. Do yoga or stretch. A flexible body means a flexible mind. You don’t want hardening of the attitudes. Stretching releases tension and toxins, and gets you in touch with your body.
  10. Read something inspiring. Religious books, your favorite inspirational authors, self help books, or a short quote to ponder for the day.
  11. Listen to music. Music stimulates the brain and awakens the emotions. Whatever makes you feel good, listen to it first thing in the morning.
  12. Write in your journal. Keep it positive. What have you learned recently? What is good in your life? Write a Gratitude list. Or, just quiet your mind and let it tell you what to write.
  13. Take a walk. Greet the world as it awakes while moving your body. Breathe deeply. Walk to Starbucks to get you out the door. Walk to someplace beautiful if possible. Walk the dog.
  14. Ride a bike. There’s something about riding a bike that is freeing and joyful. Maybe ’cause you did it as a kid.
  15. Get some exercise. Exercising first thing in the morning jump starts your metabolism, giving you a sense of relaxed energy. It could be walking, lifting weights, Pilates, going to the gym, push ups and/or pull ups. Make it work for you. I’ll repeat that: Make it work for you.
  16. Look at beautiful images. Fill your mind with beauty. Perhaps you have photos, or a great garden, or a picture book with incredible images. Give yourself a few minutes to take in the good stuff.
  17. Do the magic that you do. If you are a writer, write. If you are a painter, paint. If you are a musician, make music. If you’re a singer, sing. If you are a dancer, dance. If you are a photographer…
  18. Write a letter to someone you haven’t contacted for a while. Just say hi.
  19. Call someone you’ve been meaning to call or haven’t talked to in a while. “Hi, I know it’s first thing in the morning, and you’re probably getting ready for (work, school) but I just wanted to say that I really (miss you, love you, am thinking about you, remembering the good times, want to apologize, etc.) That’s all! Bye!”
  20. Treat yourself to breakfast. If you usually fix your own stuff, go out and eat, connect with the world.
  21. Fix your own breakfast. If you usually go out, then nurture yourself by feeding your own sweet self.
  22. Make a donation.Write a check or go online. Make your first act of the day one of generosity.
  23. Get in bed with your kids and smooch on them. I do this every morning.
  24. Wear something that’s comfortable that makes you feel good. Get it ready the night before ( ironing it or washing it).
  25. Call in well. Instead of calling in sick, call in well. Say  “Hi, I’m feeling too good to go to work today. Think I”ll hang out in the Rose Garden at the Huntington instead. See you tomorrow.” Or call in sick for a mental health day. Take the day off, you deserve it!

Step out of the insanity of the daily grind by getting in touch with what is true and meaningful on a daily basis. Making a “first thing in the morning habit” out of just of few of these things can change your life.

If you need help getting up earlier, or with a better attitude,  contact me and let’s talk about what we can do to help you start your day in a better way.  

Ted A. Moreno

FEEL FREE TO — USE THIS ARTICLE IN YOUR EZINE, WEB SITE OR BLOG. Just let me know, and include the following:
Ted A. Moreno is a Certified Hypnotherapist and Success Performance Coach. Ted helps his clients transform their lives by and reach their goals of success, abundance, personal development, health and happiness. To learn more, visit www.TedMoreno.com/blog

Maybe Everything That Dies, Someday Comes Back.

potential_e

I remember the day I got sent home from a job for being a lousy salesperson. It was 1986 and I had a sales job in Phoenix. I was general manager of the business and I was doing pretty good, although I was working  7 days a week, 12 to 13 hours a day.

I went into a sales slump. All of a sudden Read more

The Elements of Change

Snowstorm in Hyattsville

(This weeks post is written by Leo Babauta from his blog Zen Habits.)

Change can be a difficult thing. Most people want to change their lives, in some way, but find it difficult to either get started or to sustain the change for very long.

I’m happy to report that after years of studying it, I’ve become fairly good at it (though happily failing all the time). I actually relish change, not because I feel I need to improve my life, but because in change, I learn new things. Constantly.

What have I learned from my changes? I could write a book on this (and probably will someday), but the essence can be found in the space between the inevitable fact of change, and in the incredible resistance to change inside ourselves and in the people around us. We want to change, and yet we don’t. How do we resolve this tension?

It can be incredibly difficult, or it can be wonderfully joyous. I’m here to show you the elements of the joyous path to change. The difficult path … I think we can each easily find that on our own.

My Recent Changes

I’ve made dozens of changes over the last few years (read My Story for a partial list), but here’s a short list of a few I’ve made just this year:

  • Lost over 40 lbs since last year. I’ve not cared as much about losing weight — it’s just a number — but more about losing some fat and getting fit. The weight loss has really been a side effect of that focus. I’ve tried a lot of different methods, but I’ve found that only two things matter, and they’re ridiculously obvious: cut back on calories and increase the calories you burn through activity. Finding ways to do those two things has been the fun part.
  • Gave up our car and walk, bike or use public transit everywhere. I’ve slowly been reducing how much I use a car, and increasing biking and walking. Then we drastically made the change just a few weeks ago when we sold our van, moved to San Francisco, and have been car-free ever since.
  • Began walking more. Obviously this goes with being car-free, but even when we had our van I would walk for an hour or three on many days, just for the simple pleasure of it.
  • Eat foods with no or little packaging. From bulk bins or farmer’s market, with reusable containers, if possible. I strive for fresh fruits and a variety of veggies, plus beans and nuts and whole grains and seeds. None of this needs packaging, all of it is great for you.
  • Gave up almost all of my possessions. I was slowly whittling away at my possessions, then took a huge leap when we sold or gave away almost everything and moved to San Francisco. We’ve bought some furniture (mostly used) but haven’t come anywhere near the (modest) amount of possessions we had before.
  • Started working less. A task needs to meet a high threshold of importance for me to consider doing it these days. This means I work fewer hours but am more effective during those hours.
  • Drastically reduced the time I spend online. I love online reading, and connecting with others, but it can really eat up your life if you let it.
  • Focused more on being in the moment.
  • Stopped setting goals and planning so much. I used to be a rigid planner and goal setter, just a couple years ago. You can see it in my old posts here on Zen Habits. I’ve dropped that habit, mostly.
  • Instead, embraced going with the flow.

Again, this is a short list — there are others that are less noteworthy, and probably a few I’m forgetting.

The Elements of Change

So what’s the joyous path to making these changes and others? I’ve broken it down into six elements, many of which overlap and have very blurred lines. They’re useful, though, in considering how to make potential changes in your life.

1. Beating inertia. We all have inertia — that resistance to change, especially major change that disrupts our living patterns or way of thinking. Sometimes it’s not difficult to overcome — we can get excited to make a big change and want to overhaul a certain part of our lives. The joyous path, though, is in the middle ground between no change and drastic change. It’s in small changes — as small as possible. Small changes mean it’s not hard to get started, but also that the change is sustainable. If you make a drastic change, there is a great likelihood that it won’t stick very long.

If you’re feeling that inertia, set out to make as tiny a change as you can — just get out and walk for 5 minutes, or start writing or painting or playing your violin for 5 minutes. You can do anything for 5 minutes — it should seem ridiculously easy, but that’s the point.

2. Beating the resistance of others. This resistance can be even tougher to beat than your own inertia — very often people in our lives do not want change. They’ll be negative, or even actively try to stop us from changing. There are various strategies for beating this: ask for their help and get them on your side, or negotiate a way for you to make change without disrupting their lives too much, or if necessary, cut them out of your life for a little bit. Read more.

3. Finding the joy. Here is the key to it all. Forget the rest of these steps if you need to, but never forget this one. Doing something you hate is possible, for a little while, but you’ll never sustain it. If you hate running, you’ll never keep up the habit for long. You need to find the joy in doing the activity, and when you do, you’re golden. So either choose an activity that you love, or find something to love in the activity, and grab on to that.

4. Keeping the joy alive. Joy can be fleeting, and to keep it going, you need to nurture it. This is an art form, and I can’t give you step-by-step instructions here. If I could, I’d be a billionaire, as it would change the world. But some advice: be grateful for your joy, every day. Be in the moment with that activity, instead of having your mind drift elsewhere. Refresh your joy often, by starting over or approaching things from a new angle or doing something a bit differently. Find new people to share this joy with, people who love it as much as you.

5. Celebrating the little victories. We often get discouraged because we’re not as far along as we’d like: we don’t have those six-pack abs yet (after a month of exercise!) or we’re not a full-time blogger yet (after three months of blogging!). But we forget how far we’ve come. Every step along the path is a victory, not because we’ve accomplished a goal but simply because we made the step. Celebrate those steps — jump up and down in joy, scream Halelujah, brag about it on Facebook, post a victorious message in bold marker on your fridge. You rock.

6. Making it a part of your life. Whether a change stays with you forever or not, making a change has value, in the momentary joy you get from doing it, and in what you learn from it. But making a change stick can be a great thing. To integrate change into your life, it must become a part of your daily routine. If you want to meditate, you need to do it at a regular time: right after having your coffee and before showering for work, for example. Having the coffee becomes your trigger for this new habit, and as the coffee is already integrated into your life, it becomes an anchor upon which this new habit will be grounded. The more times you do the new habit after this trigger, and the more regularly you do it, the more firmly it will stick.

And lastly

One last note, to anyone making changes: you will fail. I don’t say that to discourage you, but to release you from the fear of failure … because if you already know it will happen, then there’s no pressure to avoid it. Failure is an inevitable part of change, and in fact it should be celebrated — without failure, we’d learn nothing. Fail, fail often, and learn. Then you’ll be better equipped for the next attempt. Find joy in every attempt, in every victory, in every failure, and the change will be a reward in itself.

Zen Habits is one of the Top 100 blogs in the world, with about 185K readers. Zen Habits features  articles on: simplicity, health & fitness, motivation and inspiration, frugality, family life, happiness, goals, getting great things done, and living in the moment.

Leo Babauta, the creator and writer of Zen Habits, is married with six kids(!), Recently moved to S.F., is  the author of a new best-selling book, The Power of Less: The Fine Art of Limiting Yourself to the Essential, in Business and in Life.

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TMan

 Ted A. Moreno 
Personal/Small Business Coach 
Certified Hypnotherapist 
www.TedMoreno.com                                                                        
 (626) 826-0612