To Be Present Or Not To Be Present

To be present or not to be present is a question people consider when going to an event or activity. However, they don’t often consider if they are truly present once they have arrived.

 

Somewhere Else

 

People are experts at not paying attention to what is going on around them. How often have you seen someone walking down the street with their earbuds in talking away and clearly not noticing other pedestrians or motor vehicles? Or, perhaps you have seen the same kind of person texting during a meeting or a family dinner.

 

Matter of fact, at times you may have found yourself paying less than full attention. It may be that you are multi-tasking, focusing on worries or thinking about what could have been.

 

Being Present

The concept of being present is simple. You simply need to pay attention to what is going on around you and brush aside thoughts of other things. This focus, however, is very challenging for people today. Technology and the fast pace of the world contribute to this problem.

 

Yet, without focus on what is happening around you, you cannot be mindful. Likewise, if you are not present, it is very difficult to listen to others and understand the information that they are trying to convey. Additionally, it is impossible to tune into your body to understand the messages that it has for you. Therefore, by not being present, you are basically flying blind.

 

Value of Being Present

If you limit multi-tasking and focus your attention on being present, your eyes will open and you will have the opportunity for a more fulfilling life. You will have better and more meaningful conversations and relationships with people in your life. Furthermore, you will be more in touch with your true feelings and will be more attuned to your body.

 

Moreover, being present opens the door to truly experiencing life instead of simply existing. Every hour you spend being present is an hour that you spend being connected. Although you may be touching a hundred things when you are multi-tasking, you often aren’t connecting with any of them.

 

Taking Action

Therefore, the next time the telephone rings stop what you are doing and really connect to the person on the other end of the call. Likewise, put down all your electronic devices and set aside your thoughts of other things when you are meeting with other people. Whether the meeting is for business or personal reasons, you will gain so much more by actually being there.

 

Choose to be present; choose to be connected!

 

An Authentic Life

Living an authentic life is a concept that is easy to understand, but often challenging to implement. This year has presented more challenges for the general population than the typical year. Thus, living an authentic life today is even more challenging than ever.

 

Living Authentically

 

In the simplest terms, living an authentic life means being who you really are. This means that you let go of who others say you are and who they want you to be. You are also honest with yourself about both your positive and negative attributes.

 

You can start by defining basic attributes that someone might use to describe you. Perhaps you are tall, have medium skin, blue eyes, and brown hair. You can dye your hair, wear contacts that change your eyes color, and go to a tanning salon. Still, your DNA will indicate that you are tall with medium skin, blue eyes, and brown hair. You can pretend to be different, but that isn’t who you are underneath.

 

Additionally, when living authentically, you recognize your achievements, give credit to others where credit is due, and take the blame when appropriate. This relates very much to the concept of taking 100% responsibility. Taking too much or too little responsibility never leads you to authenticity or happiness. If you take responsibility or claim credit when someone else should be doing the work, did the work, or is to blame, you are cheating the other person and yourself. Thus, 100% responsibility is a key ingredient to living authentically.

 

2020 Challenges

 

Under the best of circumstances, living an authentic life takes work. 2020 has added challenges that make it even more difficult to maintain the focus and internal personal view that is required to create and maintain an authentic life.

 

COVID-19

 

COVID-19 has brought out interesting behaviors in people. Most of which have been brought about because of fear, as we discussed in a recent article, “Why Fear?” The combination of fear, ever-changing rules, and unknowns present challenges to people. As a result, people end up with differing opinions and different interpretations of the rules. Some of these people choose to chastise those who see things differently than they do.

 

Even when pressure is applied with the best intention, it often results in the other person fighting back – at least mentally. You may find that although you are acting and even believing things that are not aligned with who you really are. You may even push back against them although you agree with the person in principle.

 

Likewise, the COVID rules may drive you to behave in ways that are not aligned with your experience or desires. For instance, if you are an extrovert or a person who likes lots of physical touch, you may not be behaving in alignment with those qualities. It is important to recognize those attributes of yourself and find a way to honor them.

 

The History of Our Country

 

Protests, riots, and destruction have also created pressure to destroy our past and for the country to become something it is not. Like it or not, the country was not formed by people that simply came together, sang “Imagine,” and lived in perfect harmony. Instead, it was a hard fight. People had different perspectives, but in the end the people came together as one country.

 

Like it or not, our country’s history is our country’s history. Owning up to the country’s history is just as important as owning up to your own personal history. Without both, you can’t live an authentic life. Like with historical statues that have been dismantled, you can ignore and take your history out of sight, but it is still part of who you are.

 

Pretending that your past isn’t your past never leads to an authentic life. Now, you can do internal work to grow from your past and it is something that you don’t have to outwardly share in all situations. However, you should never hide from it.

 

Race Wars

 

In addition, there is pressure to see our country in the midst of a race war despite the fact that people of all backgrounds have many positive interactions each day. This is not to say that prejudice does not exist. It does. Our article “Retraining the Brain” discusses bias and how it plays a part of everybody’s life.

 

With awareness, everyone can make better decisions and limit how bias affects decisions that they make. This does not, however, mean that anyone needs to denounce their ethnic background – even people of European heritage with a long history in this country. Instead, consider that each person has their own story that is made up of many attributes.  A portion of that story is the history of their ancestors.  But, the most important part of their story is their personal story and the life they have lived.  Facts of the past cannot be changed.

 

Similarly, an African American police officer can be proud to be African American and simultaneously be proud to serve as a police officer. According to some people, these officers are “no longer black;” they are blue. Again, their heritage and their occupation are both facts. They are what they are.

 

A person who is authentic will not apologize for facts about themselves. Additionally, an authentic life does not include guilt or victim-hood for events that occurred years before the person’s birth. They can be considerate and can make good decisions in their life with regards to people of all backgrounds. No one needs to take on the burden of the past. It is fact and it cannot be changed.

 

Cancel Culture

 

The current trend toward “cancelling” anything that someone dislikes also pressures people to be less than authentic. People are afraid that if they don’t outwardly support certain opinions that they, too, will be cancelled. They know that in today’s world, they don’t even have the option to remain silent. It is almost as if the right to remain silent has been stricken from the law books.

 

This pressure is very strong, especially for people in the public eye. Yet, according to Psychology Today, “The authentic person will not . . . let others bully them into taking a position they don’t agree with.” They go on to say, “Authenticity requires us to be able to overcome our desire to fit in and be part of the crowd.”

 

So, if you are feeling like you need to take up a position that you wouldn’t have considered taking up six months ago, you might want to ask yourself if you are being authentic. It is possible that you have become aware of an issue and now feel driven to support that position. However, it is also possible that you are simply being intimidated into a position that you don’t really support.

 

Leading An Authentic Life

 

It is more important than ever to focus on who you really are at the core. Act based on your life, your beliefs, your values, your opinions, and your knowledge. At this time, it is critical that you really think things through. Know that you are 100% responsible for your life and your decisions. However, you are not responsible for other people’s life choices.

 

You can be compassionate and empathetic. Listen. Learn. Those are good things that enhance our lives and help us to be more authentic. Just be careful of the trap of taking on someone else’s view of who you are. By doing so, you nearly always become less authentic.

 

If you would like to work toward a more authentic life, consider our “Finding Your Authentic Self” coaching sessions.

 

 

The Salem Witch Trials

I have always been fascinated by the Salem Witch Trials. The belief that witchcraft was behind unexplained fits of young girls resulted in accusations of witchcraft being thrown in every direction is quite intriguing. I would love to know what “caused” those symptoms the girls displayed. The bigger question, however, is . . . Why did accusations of witchery become popular in 1692?

 

The Salem Witch Trials of 1692

 

Looking back at what is known about the beginning of the Salem Witch Trials, we find young girls behaving in an unusual manner. Not knowing what caused the behavior, it was believed that the girls were possessed by the devil. They then accused three women of being witches and bringing this upon them. Thus, the first case of witchery came to trial.

 

Oddly, there were other girls that soon exhibited the same symptoms. Hence more cases. Still, more and more accusations abounded in Salem and other areas more distant. By May of that year, there were so many cases that a special court was appointed to handle them.

 

Even upstanding members of the community were accused and found guilty of being witches. Rebecca Nurse, a possible distant relative of mine, was one of those people. In her case, they found her not guilty, then guilty, then she received a reprieve, and finally she was hung. She was 71 and was supported by a large number of people in the community. Yet, it didn’t save her.

 

In most cases, however, men and women were found guilty based solely on the accusation. None of them were allowed to have lawyers and had a difficult time defending themselves. Have you ever tried proving that you aren’t a witch?

 

The question was . . . Why were so many people so willing to believe that members of the community were witches? Speculation includes that the people funneled their fear of outsiders and other fears into the witchcraft hysteria.

 

The hysteria quickly wound down and dissipated in 1693. Many of the convicted witches were later fully exonerated. Unfortunately, it was too late for those who were hung or died in prison.

 

McCarthyism

 

In 1953, Arthur Miller brought the Salem Witch Trials to life in his play “The Crucible.” He was driven to write the play because of current events. At the time, Senator Joseph McCarthy used “witch hunts” in the name of stopping the spread of communism.

 

McCarthy was a fearmonger, constantly stirring the fear of Communism, which was very pervasive in the 1950s. The fear was so strong that many people were accused of being communist or communist sympathizers. Many of them lost their jobs or were blacklisted despite not belonging to the Communist Party. Others were afraid to object for fear that they, too, would be given the badge of communist.

 

Those accused were investigated or questioned before panels. Like the Salem Witch Trials, accusations were often accepted even when there was a lack of evidence. Likewise, the risk the person posed to the country was often elevated. Still, the damage was done although many decisions would later be reversed or determined to be illegal.

 

Repeating The Past

 

It is 2020 and despite the 5th and 14th amendments to the Constitution guaranteeing due process we are again repeating the Salem Witch Trials. The witch trials have been modernized, but they still have the same principle of guilt by accusation.

 

In today’s world, you aren’t likely to be hung after an unfair trial where you have to defend yourself. Instead you are “cancelled” by a decision of the Internet mob. In cancel culture, you aren’t given a chance to defend yourself at all. The Internet mob decides what is right and what is wrong. You can be found guilty by association. Worse yet, you can be found guilty for not publicly taking a stance on an issue at all.

 

It seems that like in 1692, fear has driven the world a bit mad. Today it isn’t a fear of witches or communism that is behind the accusations. Yet, it remains a fear based on people being different and having different perspectives.

 

The Tech Giants and the mob rule simply do not allow for free thought and conversation. They have decided to take the law into their own hands and change all the rules. One and only one opinion is allowed in the social media court. Wish to explain yourself or even to apologize and you just may find yourself banned from the platform.

 

If you think it is only people with extremist viewpoints that are banned, I suggest you do more research. Like Rebecca Nurse, who was an upstanding citizen respected by many, you may be accused if you don’t parrot “the stance” perfectly.

 

What We Can Learn?

 

So, what can we learn from our current situation? First, history does repeat itself unless you learn from it. Clearly, we have not yet learned this lesson.

 

Second, there are many dimensions to being different. Anytime someone is condemned simply because they are different it is wrong.

 

Third, judging without a fair trial or worse without any facts is a disgrace. And, it means that a majority of the time you will be wrong.

 

And, fourth, fear can drive people to act a little crazy. As discussed in our recent article “Why Fear,” Franklin D. Roosevelt was correct when he said, “The only thing we have to fear is fear itself.”

 

The bottom line is that we need to learn to accept people who are different – no matter what that difference may be. They may look different, act different, express their feelings in a different way, have different religious beliefs, have different political beliefs, raise their family in a different way, etc.

 

This sentiment was echoed on a Little House on the Prairie rerun as I was writing this article. Laura was pleading with the people of Walnut Grove to stop a woman who was considered odd from leaving town. Laura said, “So what if she was different? We’re all different!”

 

Unique Perspective

In the first two articles in the Misconnection series, we explored misconnections that are created because of the illusion of a connection and as a result of our survival instincts. In this segment, we will discuss how our culture, experiences, beliefs, and values that make up each person’s unique perspective add to each person’s connections and misconnections.

 

Unique Perspective

 

Each person has a unique perspective that belongs to them and only them. The person’s  environment and culture in which they live combined with their experiences, underlying beliefs, and values create this perspective. All of these things come together and create a filter through which every piece of information they receive flows.

 

Thus, people never evaluate unfiltered information. By the time they consider the information, their filter has already tainted the information. Thus, people can have different perspectives on something as simple as a rock in the middle of a sidewalk.

 

A person who has had kids playing in their rocks repeatedly may assume a kid put the rock in the middle of the sidewalk because they had been playing there. Someone else may be angry because they assume someone put it there so that someone would trip on it. A person with a different experience, may assume it was kicked up off the street by a car. Meanwhile, the facts may be that someone accidentally kicked it there and didn’t realize it.

 

World Situation

 

People’s filters are very obvious in their perspectives on the current world situation. Some people believe that everyone should do as the authorities tell us. Meanwhile, other people feel that authorities have overstepped their bounds and have no right to tell people not to open their business, go to church, or hike in their favorite park. Yet, other people may feel frustrated because theybelieve the entire situation is overblown.  In their mind,  the measures are being taken are without merit.

 

In all these cases, each unique perspective arises from the person’s current experience, previous experiences, beliefs, values, and culture. For instance, a person who lives in an area where no cases of COVID-19 have been reported will not likely see the virus as a big threat.  However, a person who lives in New York City, where their have been many cases, likely feels more threatened by the virus.

 

Likewise, someone who has grown up working hard for every dollar and still finding it difficult to get ahead will have a different opinion that someone who was born rich. And, different factors influence the opinion of retirees.

 

The number of factors that go into a person’s filters that drive their perspective of a situation are endless. It would be impossible to explore all of them. So, let’s take a look at a subset of the factors relating to whether a person should wear a mask.

 

To Mask

 

People hold a variety of  perspectives on whether people should wear a mask when in public. Some people simply believe everyone should follow the rules. In their opinion, since the authorities stated that masks are necessary, they are necessary. This belief may come from their local culture, family values, or religious upbringing.

 

Other people have different reasons for  believing that people should wear masks. Perhaps they are particularly nervous about themselves or a loved one getting sick. Others may have lost a loved one to COVID-19 or a similar disease. Still, others may have anxiety that has heightened due to the virus.

 

Or Not To Mask

 

Like people who feel a mask is necessary, those that desire not to wear a mask do so for many reasons. Often these people do not personally know anyone who has gotten COVID-19. Alternately, they have known many people with mild cases. They also may see getting the virus as unavoidable and wish to get it over with sooner rather than later.

 

The decision not to mask may also relate to cultural norms. Some cultures may frown upon face coverings. Alternately, people may believe face coverings  have a particular meaning. For instance, a person might hesitate to wear a face covering if they grew up being told that was an indication of criminal behavior.

 

There are other very different reasons that people don’t wear masks. The person may have PTSD, claustrophobia, or have a breathing disorder. The person may also have impaired hearing making it difficult to communicate when other people are wearing masks. All of these may present in a person without it being obvious to other people.

 

Misconnections

 

Misconnections arise when people believe everyone should make the same decision they made. I know people who have been on the receiving end of a tirade because they were wearing a mask. One might ask, “Why do you care?” Well, it is hard to determine why they care without a direct conversation. However, it is likely that the person is judging the other person based on their filters.

 

On the flip side, it is common to observe people yelling at a person for not wearing a mask. You might argue that the person has a right to be upset and that they have the good of themselves and others in mind. However, it is important to remember that they don’t know the other person’s situation, history, or experiences.

 

In both cases, the person doing the yelling is judging the other person based on their own rules. Thus, it is very possible that they are creating misconnections about the other person. They may believe the other person is uneducated, uncaring, or out of touch. However, both may be educated and caring. They just have different filters they apply in processing the information they receive.

 

Up next, our concluding article in the Misconnection series. . . We will discuss retraining the brain to make more good connections and less misconnections.

 

connection illusion

Humans initially made connections between people, places, things, and events as a matter of survival. Over time those connections have helped people to not only survive, but also thrive. However, not all connections are accurate.  Once these incorrect connections have been made, they are often difficult to change. In the first article of our series on Misconnections, we will explore The Connection Illusion.

 

The Misconnection

 

Since humans make millions of connections per day, inaccurate associations are inevitable. Those mistaken connections occur for various reasons. Some of them occur because survival instincts kick in. Other times, we make misconnections because of previous misconceptions or instilled beliefs. Meanwhile, other mistakes occur because of the illusions that two or more things are connected when in reality they are not.

 

This series explores each of these types of misconnections. It also explores how these misconnections are reinforced. The series will conclude with a look at how we can retrain our brain to make better, more accurate connections.

 

The Illusion

 

We are all familiar with illusions that a magician performs on stage. Magicians use techniques to distract the the audience. While the audience is paying attention to one thing, the magician performs tthe movement necessary to complete the trick.

 

Connection illusions work in a similar way. Emotion or physical reaction distracts the mind and suddenly a new connection is made where none actually exists.

 

No More Cake

 

A connection illusion sometimes occurs when a person catches a stomach bug. Often when this occurs, the last things the person ate before becoming ill no longer appeals to the person. So, if the person ate carrot cake before coming down with the virus, they may no longer desire to it eat. Even if carrot cake was previously their favorite, they may turn up their nose at it for weeks, months, or even years.

 

The carrot cake did not make the person sick. Perhaps the whole family got sick.  And, no one else ate carrot cake. The person’s logical mind knows the cake is not at fault. However, they made a connection between cake and feeling unwell. Once made, the person may need to put in a good deal of time and effort to break this connection.

 

London No More

 

Some connections based on illusions are even more indirect. In these cases, a person’s mind creates a connection between two events that happen concurrently although there is no direct relationship between the events.

 

For instance, if a person is on a trip to London when their grandmother dies. That person may associate sadness with London and not desire to go there again. Some might even have a belief that if they go there someone will die. Others can covert this to a connection that travel has negative consequences. This may sound ridiculous and for some people, they would not make this connection. However, they may make misconnections in a different circumstance.

 

Don’t Mess With My Ritual

 

Misconnections can drive people to have rituals and beliefs that have no scientific foundation or logical basis. For instance, athletes are known for their pre-competition rituals. Many athletes must eat particular things at particular times, listen to particular music, wear a certain pair of socks, etc. Although some foods or the right mindset can enhance performance, often these rituals seem absurd to the outsider.

 

The TV show Reba demonstrated this phenomenon in an episode where she held the team dinner at her house. There was an entire set of rules of how the dinner was to be held, including the specific brand of potato salad to purchase. Inadvertently, the wrong brand was purchased and everything was fine until the team found out. The team then became convinced that they would lose. Reba arrives at half-time and saves the day by bringing the right brand of potato salad or so the team believes. In actuality she simply changed the label on the container to make them believe it was the “winning” brand.

 

Although this episode of Reba is a comic dramatization of the importance of rituals on the mind, a person can definitely believe consciously and unconsciously that they are doomed to lose if their ritual is not followed.

 

Results of Connection Illusions

 

Connection illusions can result in many rituals, phobias, and biases. In situations where there is some level of connection, the illusion is often of a much greater connection than actually exists.

 

Up next: Survival Instincts and Misconnections

 

Hidden Connections

 

 

Have you tried finding a connection between yourself and each of the people that cross your path during the day? It is interesting to contemplate. At this point, some people may jump to the concept of six-degrees of separation. However, what I have in mind is a bit different.

 

Zero-Degrees of Separation

 

I contend that there is some type of connection between each person and every other person – no matter how completely different the two people are. These connections are sometimes obvious. For instance, two people might have the same educational background, be from the same town, or have the same religious beliefs. Other times, it is more of a challenge to find the connection.

 

Recently, I was considering my connection to various public political figures. For some of them, I could easily see a connection, since I knew we shared a similar opinion on a particular topic. For others, finding the connection was a bit more challenging. I started thinking about the person’s personality, values, background, interests, and experiences compared to my own.

 

Using this scope, I was able to identify at least one “connection” between the person and myself. I am sure there are many more connections I could make with each person if I got to know them.

 

 

Hidden Connections

 

It is not always easy to find connections between yourself and others, especially if you really don’t want to see it. Most of us don’t have a strong desire to find a connection between ourselves and Jack the Ripper or Al Capone. Still, if we took the time to look, we would find a connection. Similarly, we would find a connection with people who live in different parts of the world, have different religions, or live in very different circumstances.

 

Authenticity

 

Although I would challenge you to find a connection to even the seemingly most different person, I would also caution you to pay attention to the authenticity of the connection. For example, political candidates may state an opinion that aligns well with your own perspective. You should consider that connection carefully.

 

First, look at your own opinion and make sure it is something you truly own. Often the opinions we have are those that we believe we should have rather than our true beliefs. Second, consider the same for the candidate. Is their stated opinion really their opinion and the direction they will take if faced with questions on the topic or is it simply what they believe people want to hear. You may even find that you have a connection with someone who states a different opinion than yours because their underlying viewpoint and resulting actions may actually match your perspective.

 

Limitations

 

It is important not to be drawn in by someone’s outward statements if they are not authentic. The Benders are infamous for inviting people into their home for a nice meal, killing them, and dumping them in a field. I am sure that many of their victims initially felt a connection to them believing they were nice folks that were providing a meal to a weary traveler.  Yet, in their case, it was all a scheme to get the victims’ valuables.

 

Therefore, it is important to remember that connections must be authentic. When you consider public personalities or people that cross your path, make sure to look for the connection. They may be on a different path than you, but challenge yourself to find something you authentically have in common. Just be diligent and pay attention so you don’t become a victim of the person behind the curtain.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Whether you follow sports or not, most people are aware that some teams have a way of connecting with fans that other teams do not. For instance, the Dallas Cowboys of the NFL, the Kansas (KU) Jayhawks men’s basketball team, and the Boston Red Socks baseball team are well known for having large fan bases. These fans come out to support them through thick and thin.

 

Signs Of A True Connection

 

The reason for the strong fan base transcends their win-loss record. For instance, the Cowboys have been very inconsistent over the years. They have had great years and lousy years. Yet, their fans stick with them. Since their current stadium was completed in 2009, they have averaged approximately 90,000 attendees per game despite having a winning record in only about half the years.

 

In contrast, the Washington Redskins of the NFL, who had mixed results and a bit more on the downside, dropped from an average attendance in 2010 of ~83,000 to ~61,000 in 2018. Clearly, their fans do not have the same kind of allegiance to the team that the Cowboys’ fans have.

 

The Winning Connection

 

So, what is the secret for these teams? Is it that they have had winning seasons? Well, it is true that all three teams have had many winning seasons, The Red Socks have won 9 world championships over ~120 years. The Cowboys have appeared in 8 championship games and won 5 over their 60 years of existence. Likewise, the KU men’s basketball has won their conference championship 61 times in just over 120 years with multiple NCAA championships. They also have the longest current NCAA tournament appearance streak having being selected for 30 years straight.

 

So, winning likely helps. However, there are other teams with a tradition of winning that don’t have the same following. Consider the recent Super Bowl featuring the Kansas City Chiefs and the San Francisco 49ers. Kansas City was the #1 TV viewing market for the game with 97% of televisions that were on tuned into the game. San Francisco was not among the top 10 markets for the game. San Francisco had won more Super Bowls than Kansas City, but neither team had won in recent years. Yet, Kansas City had a stronger fan base.

 

But, There Is More

 

For two teams to have such a disparity in viewership when playing in the big game indicates that Kansas City has a stronger following than San Francisco. Thus, a connection to fans must be based on more than a winning tradition.

 

Let’s consider other traditions and ways that teams connect with their fans. If you look at the Kansas Jayhawks, they have a huge number of basketball traditions and other characteristics that make them appealing. The person who originated the game of basketball coached at KU. They also have a unique mascot and chant. Both are memorable and rated among the best in college sports. They also teach new students the college traditions, which help maintain those traditions over time. In addition, they are known for their amazing atmosphere at Allen Field House, which holds the record for the loudest indoor sports arena at 130.4 decibels.

 

The Red Sox and the Cowboys also have their traditions. The Red Sox have the Fenway Frank, music traditions and more. Likewise, the Cowboys are known for their Cheerleaders and playing on Thanksgiving every year. Additionally, most teams with a strong following have a major rival and a really good marketing team that creates a very distinct brand. The Cowboys, for example, became known as “America’s Team” expanding their presence outside the Dallas area. Similarly, KU often refers to alumni with the phrase “Once a Jayhawk, always a Jayhawk,” continuing to reinforce the connection to the university.

 

Application

 

These concepts of connecting apply elsewhere. Think of the places you eat, the politicians you want to elect, the products you buy (or dream of buying), etc. In each case, consider how they are building their connection to you. Does it feel authentic? How strong would you rate your loyalty? Are you a strong fan through thick and thin or are you a fair weather fan?

 

By considering these questions, you can learn a lot about both yourself and the things that attract you.

 

 

 

By now, probably half of the New Year’s resolutions made have been broken. The reason is simple. People make resolutions in the moment often without a lot of thought. However, they don’t truly commit to change.

 

Setting Intention

 

Failed New Year’s resolutions don’t have to be the next chapter in your story. By making a strong intention around a resolution, you can change it from something that has a very low chance of success into something that can transform your life.

 

Start by creating a strong intention statement. A good intention statement is simple, easy to remember, is strongly connected to you, contains your emotions, is in your words, and contains positive action words.

 

For example, a common resolution is to exercise more in the coming year. That is a nice statement, but is not very powerful and a high percentage of the time people will fail to meet the goal. However, transforming that statement into an intention, such as “Exercising daily invigorates me and gives me amazing energy,” tells a different story. First, it is specific. Exercising daily is very different than a resolution to exercise more than last year. Secondly, it contains action and emotional energy.

 

Connecting

 

As important as it is to make the intention strong and full of emotion, you will only succeed if the words, your goals, your actions, and your rewards are strongly connected with who you are. For instance, if your reward is that it will make someone else happy or it is because the doctor says that it is good for you, you will struggle to keep your resolution.

 

Resolutions and intentions only work if they are for you. Thus, the connection to your words, your goals, etc. are of upmost importance. Once you decide to make a change for yourself, it becomes much more doable. You can set rewards for reaching goals that relate to who you are and what you hope to achieve. If you love to read, you can reward yourself with a new e-book for reaching a goal. However, if you love to cook, you might reward yourself with a cooking class or by making a favorite recipe.

 

Expectations

 

The expectation for most resolutions is that they will fail. If you are like most people, even a statement of “It will be different this time,” will likely be accompanied, at least internally, by doubt. The reason is simple. The word resolution has become synonymous with temporary attempt to change that will end in failure. The dictionary might not define it that way, but that is how people think of resolutions.

 

Therefore, even if you are committed to a change, just the word resolution will get eye rolls from the people around you. The word intention sets a very different expectation in your mind and the minds of the people around you. Even the word “intend” or “intention” sounds stronger than “resolution.”

 

You can intend a wonderful life into existence. Amazing things can happen, you just need to be open to them and expect that they will occur!

 

Releasing: A Key to Healing

 

 

Most people have an event from their past that clings to them like a baby clings to their pacifier. Like a parent who thinks their baby is ready to give up their pacifier, the person may think they are ready to give up the memory. And, no matter how hard the parent tries, the baby resists giving up their pacifier. Similarly no matter how hard the person tries to forget, the memory won’t leave. It seems to be permanently etched into their brain.

 

Even when someone is not consciously recalling the memory, that instance of memory can consume some of the person’s energy like a dripping faucet leaks water. Although one instance of memory may not be a significant drain on a person, if there are lots of memories connected to the person, the person may experience a significant drain. In some cases, one single instance can be enough to be a continual drain on a person.

 

Staying Connected

 

Energetically speaking, people may hold onto events, places, and people. Think of the old time switch boards where there was a person making a voice connection by plugging a line into a socket. This created a physical connection that allowed a person on one end to speak to the person on the other end. Energy works in a very similar manner. In the switchboard era, you could hang up and come back an hour later and begin talking if the switchboard operator had left the connection in place.

 

The same is true if the universe has not severed the energetic connection. When that connection remains, the other person, company, or event continues to be connected to the person.  This is true even if they are no longer a part of that person’s life. Unfortunately, trauma is often the cord that binds the two together. The more trauma someone has experienced, the more likely there will be a strong energetic connection they will have to the place, event, or person.

 

What stays connected to someone may seem completely random and insignificant to other people. In fact, others that witnessed an event that someone found traumatic may not even be able to recall the event. To the traumatized person, however, the reason they can recall these events, places, and people so vividly is because of the trauma they experienced.

 

No Longer Needed

 

These events, places, and people created an energetic connection. When these connections no longer serve the person in a positive manner, the person needs to decide if they are ready to release the connection. This doesn’t mean that they will forget the people or events. However, it does mean that these people and events of the past will no longer have influence over their lives.

 

The connection can be released in a variety of ways. Some people opt for counseling while others do journaling, meditation, or energy work. The act of releasing heals old wounds and allows you to thrive.

 

Once released, the person may feel more energized. They may physically feel like a weight is lifted from them. New opportunities may also arise once they are no longer being held back by these connections.

 

What are you waiting for? Release! It is the key to healing.

 

Making A Difference: The little thing

 

 

You may be familiar with the book “Don’t Sweat the Small Stuff . . . and it is all small stuff” by Richard Carlson. In that book, the author describes one hundred techniques (or thought processes) to get through your day with less anxiety and stress. These techniques vary broadly covering everything from choosing your battles to imagining your own funeral.

 

Focus On The Important

 

The ideas behind these techniques are to get you to focus on the important things instead of letting little things take over your life.

 

In his book he talks about smiling at strangers and performing random acts of kindness. Each of these things could be classified as “small stuff.” However, these aren’t things to sweat, but things to do to bring joy into someone else’s life and ultimately your own.

 

Small Things Make A Difference

 

It is these very small acts that can make a difference in the world. Consider, if every person on the planet replaced even one snippy remark, aggressive action, or unkind word with a positive loving action each day. It would totally change the world!

We can’t likely get everyone around the globe to participate, but we can lead by example. Smiling and showing interest in other people is one of my favorites. It doesn’t cost even one second to smile.

 

And, it takes very little time to inquire as to how someone is doing. It is important, however, that when you inquire you should actually care about the other person’s answer. Do not be like many cashiers at grocery and big box stores who inquire as to if you found everything, but who have no course of action if you did not. You need to be prepared to provide kind supporting words or assistance if necessary.

 

Other simple ideas are to hold a door for someone, carry something for them, help them with their child, or offer to let someone go ahead of you in line. None of these cost money and most of them cost very little time.

 

Other relatively low cost ways to make someone’s day include: making or buying someone a card, taking treats or a meal to a neighbor, buying a box of Girl Scout cookies, or paying for someone’s meal.

 

Doing Something Bigger

 

Occasionally, you will have an opportunity to do something a bit bigger directly for someone. This may be someone in trouble or someone that has fallen on hard times.

 

One example of an opportunity that came my way was a man and his school-age son who stopped at our house one day. They told us that they needed some additional money to pay for school supplies and other school expenses. They didn’t ask for a handout, but simply asked if there was any work they could do to earn some money. We were happy to oblige. We had some yard work that we could have done ourselves, but instead we gave them the opportunity to earn some cash. Even better, the son had the opportunity to learn about the value of work. It was a huge win for everyone!

 

You Can Always Make An Impact

 

You may not have an opportunity like that every day or you may not be able to assist someone in that way due to your own finances. However, there are always small ways to make a positive impact in other people’s lives. Try to do something positive every day – even if it is simply posting something positive on Facebook. You never know how one simple act might change someone’s life!