Positive Thinking

Positive Psychology

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It used to be that psychology research focused on what was wrong with people and people with mental illness diagnosis.  Starting in the 1950’s and really blossoming in the last 20 years is the field of Positive Psychology.  Why should you care?  Well the research coming out of this field can help you live longer, have better health, enjoy your relationships and live an authentic life.  Here’s the deal.  Each day you have lots of interaction with others -from your intimate relationships to the clerk at the grocery store.  Each day has thousands of “moments”.  And for the most part, you choose whether you are saying positive things or negative things in these encounters.

Research shows that in a marriage, a ratio of 5 to 1 (5 positive statements for each 1 negative statement) makes for a wonderful marriage -when you get to a ratio of 1 to 1 divorce is probably on its way.  Now don’t get me wrong,  Positive Psychology is not saying you have to walk around with a grin on your face all day spouting syrupy nonsense to everyone.  No, you have to listen to your feelings and sometimes your feelings just plain suck.  BUT, you can choose how you react to others.  Here’s a few practical ways to increase the amount of positive encounters in your life.

First, become a gentle observer of yourself.  Watch how many times you say something negative or criticize someone.  Keep a mental (or written) tally for a couple of days.   After that practice saying something kind or supportive….something positive to each person you encounter.  Not only will they feel good, you will to…and it spreads!  As each person you touch in a positive way then acts positive to another 2 people -the good feelings spread like amazing ripples.

Give it a try -and post a note here to let us know what happens!

Goals That Excite The Heck Out Of You

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When you read that word “goal” did you tense up.  Or did you feel discouraged thinking -yeah, yeah, I set goals and never achieve them?  If so, you’re probably not setting goals that are related to what you really want in YOUR life.  Goals worth going for are the ones that make you feel excited with the kind of anticipation you felt as a kid waiting for Christmas.

There are many tasks that we disguise as goals.  Cleaning out the clutter, eliminating debt, losing 10 lbs. Those are all great things to do because they free up energy to go after your real goals…but they are not goals -they are things to do.  One way to figure out whether your goal is a task is to ask yourself how you will feel once it’s done.  I pulled together all the paperwork I needed this week to meet with my accountant to get my taxes done. What did I feel when I had completed this? Relief.  Not excitement.  Certainly not joy!  When you accomplish an authentic goal you will feel joy -and don’t forget to celebrate it thoroughly!  Here are 5 secrets to creating goals that excite the heck out of you.

1.  Make a list. Take about 20 minutes.  Relax for a few minutes getting out of your head and connecting with your body.  Then quickly jot down all the goals you would like to be do or have.  Don’t worry if your lizard brain starts shouting that “you can’t possibly have that.”  Just thank it and say “I’m only making a list for heaven’s sake!”   Now ask yourself the following questions about each of the items on your list.

2.  Is it clear? Saying you want to write a book someday isn’t clear enough.  I will write a book about (put your subject here) and have it completed and to an editor by October 13, 2010 is a clear goal.

3. Does it fit your values? If you highly value flexibility and freedom, a goal that requires you to do all your actions towards it in one location at very specific times just won’t fit.  If you value financial freedom and your goal will get you closer to that -then you’re right on.

4.  Does it fit with what you love? If you love to travel, and your goal allows you to travel to achieve it, hooray!  If you love being outdoors and physically active, and your goal requires long periods of time indoors, well, you might lose steam.

5.  Do you really want it? On a scale of 1-10 with 1 is like being trapped on a plane next to the dullest person on earth who talks non-stop and 10 is absolute bliss -how would you score your goal?  If it’s less than 8, toss it -it’s not worth your precious energy and time.

Pick one or two goals that you would love to accomplish within a year.  Then get support to make it happen!

Want to do something courageous?  Post a goal that you absolutely intend to reach within the next year on my blog.

Mind Junk

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One of my coaches gave the term “mind junk” to that negative, very active voice in your head. It’s chattering away constantly telling you why you can’t reach your goal, live your dreams or even something as simple as writing an article!

I watch people let this mind junk waste tremendous amounts of their energy. Instead, I’d like to invite you to accept that this voice will always be with you AND you can relax and accept it rather than wasting energy trying to change it. You can wallow around in your mind junk or you can shift your attention from it to your goals.

Let’s identify what your mind junk looks like so you can quickly figure out when it’s happening and you can stop paying attention to it. One other interesting thing…the way you handle mind junk in one area of life -say money -you’ll find that the same mind junk runs your relationships, your creativity, your physical vitality, your time and how much you enjoy life. Here are some ways mind junk shows up:

Keeping it vague. I’ll create that blog soon. Right now I don’t have the time. Falling into the either/or trap. Either I can write a book or I can keep making money in my job -I don’t have the energy for both. Comparing yourself to others. Why does it seem that no one struggles with public speaking as much as I do? Making excuses. I was late in meeting my deadline because I had too many interruptions.

Monkey mind has a lot of tenacity. It loves to keep us in the same behaviors even when it’s not working for us. Here’s what you might find yourself saying: It will work if I just try harder, I don’t have time to do it another way. This is just how I am and there’s nothing I can do about it.

So what to do with this craziness? Know that you are not your mind junk. You have amazing ability to observe it. It is only one part of your mind and who you really are is much more magnificent than any curve ball your mind junk throws at you. When you become aware of it and see how it works, you minimize the odds of getting off track as you move towards your goals.

Here’s an action for you. Over the next 2 days, write down at least 3 times your mind junk was shouting load and clear. Did you say it aloud -like “I can’t afford that and never will” or was it an internal dialogue? Note what kind of form it took -was it being vague, comparing yourself to others or some other form?

See if you can catch the mind junk and not get into a full blown attack of it. Observing your mind junk, you may be amazed to discover that 90% or more of the thoughts that your mind junk pops into your head are irrelevant to anything that’s of real value to you!

Would love to hear any tips you have for living in peace with your mind junk. Post yours here.

What Are You Convinced Of?

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What are you convinced of? What do you hold as true for you right now? Are you convinced that work is hard? Are you convinced that you’ll never be able to work from home? Are you convinced that, on some level, it’s wrong to be prosperous? Or are you convinced that you are always at choice and the past has no precedence…you can start right where you are. How unalterably convinced are you? This is your faith. You could be making money from home.

Think about this. When you think about one of your convictions, does it make you smile inside or shrive? Do you feel bolder, stronger, or do feel small, diminished.

I’m living proof that what you are convinced of is often a lie. I was convinced for a long time that work had to be hard -look at my parents’ life! That was powerful proof to me. I was convinced for years that I was “not smart enough” to be successful in creating my own work in the world…I should of looked around a bit -there are plenty of “not so smart” people who make plenty of money in their own business! Here are three ways to alter those big convictions you have that are keeping you from waking up to your unique gifts, to honoring the human treasure that you truly are and to living a prosperous life, in which you are experiencing peace, health and plenty in your world.

1. Ask yourself if your conviction is really true. Is it true for everyone? Do you know someone who doesn’t hold this conviction and is thriving in an area of life that you are not? If one person can do it, you can too! Play with the idea of “what if this weren’t true about me?”

2. Allow yourself to move forward even if you can’t see the entire “how”. Your inner compass lets you know when you’re on the right track. You’re scared AND excited at the same time. You feel good. What you’re working on will be a positive thing for others. Martin Luther King said “Faith is taking the first step even when you don’t see the whole staircase.” So do some planning. Planning leads to action. Action gets you “into the game”. And once you’re in the game, all kinds of unexpected things happen that absolutely couldn’t have happened if you hadn’t jumped in! And then, you might find yourself facing…

3. Doing the thing you think you cannot do. Eleanor Roosevelt said, “you must do the thing you think you cannot do.” If you’re afraid of a certain action that is moving you towards your dream, do it anyway. This will bust through your limiting convictions, maybe causing your family and friends to think you’re nuts, and you might even be rocked by the fact that you are shaking your very identify (albeit limited!) to the core. That’s ok. Do it anyway!

4. Get unstuck. Katie Byron has a masterful technique for getting past your yeah buts. It feels weird at first, but it’s powerful.

First, say what it is you want to do and your “but”. I want to travel to (put your favorite location here), but I can’t afford to.

Now say it as if you are choosing. “I’m choosing not to take a trip to paradise because of the belief that I have to spend a lot of money on this trip. The trip isn’t the problem, my perception that I can’t afford it is.”

Finally, “my true self can find a way to take the trip without going into debt because it knows that not having a lot of money isn’t the problem -my belief about not having enough money is.”

It’s also powerful to take your desire and your obstacle to some supportive people. Tell them what you’ve done up till now, what you want next and what obstacle is in the way. You’ll be amazed at the creative options you haven’t thought of. But look at your convictions first and get clear that they are alterable, otherwise, you’ll drive your friends crazy with yeah buts at every turn!

Would love to hear about a conviction you have that is not supporting you and you are ready to give up. Post  yours here.  It’s a powerful to put your commitment out to the world.

Are you ready for transformation?

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What is transformation? And more importantly, how does it happen? The dictionary tells you that transformation is a change in form, appearance, nature, or character. Peter Senge, a faculty member at MIT and an expert on learning organizations, states, “as W. Edwards Deming says, nothing happens without “personal transformation.” And the only safe space to allow for this transformation is a learning community.”

On the final call of a four week Authentic Life Institute class, one participant, who had actively engaged with the reading material and phone calls, said that the course had transformed her. It was a powerful statement, you could tell it was true, and it filled me with gratitude that this learning community we’ve formed is making a true difference by creating the safe (and fun!) space for transformative experiences.

I think that, while transformation often happens subtly, so quietly that you don’t even notice, there ARE times when you are acutely aware that something in your mind has just shifted in a way that is more expansive, in a way that affirms your powerfulness, in a way that feels so true you wonder how you ever didn’t know this.

As Oliver Wendell Holmes said, “One’s mind, once stretched by a new idea, never regains its original dimensions.”

While I don’t think you can “do” transformation in a step-by-step linear process, I can give you some ideas on how to cultivate the fertile soil of your mind, so you are ready to experience transformation when a new, expansive seed thought is planted.

1. Participate in supportive groups. As in introvert, I know this can be a challenge and a stretch. I’ve gone long periods of time without being in groups and have found that when I do, I begin to wither. You need to be listened to deeply and without judgment. This process allows you time and space to think. And in the right groups, you are asked questions to help you remove mind blocks and think of things that were unimaginable to you before.

2. Think of how far you’ve come. You are, by nature, always evolving. Take a look back at your life…how many different people have you been? I bet you can see tremendous changes that have happened in the way you view the world and yourself. Even though you may not have felt like you were changing -in the long view, you can see that you have.

3. Be a gentle observer of yourself and others. Letting go of judgment, of yourself and others, is a powerful way to experience transformation. The energy you create in yourself when judging is strong and negative. Know that in any given situation you are doing the best you can. If you are reflecting about something you’ve done and feel you could have improved on it -fine! Next time try something different to make it even better. But don’t beat yourself up about what is done. The past has no precedence. What do I mean by that? You can create your future, in the way that you choose, no matter what you have done in the past.

Watch for your own transformations. It can be as simple as using different words to describe your business that make you feel more confident and capable…and when you feel so, you are!

I would love to hear your transformation stories. Post one here. You never know who might be inspired by your transformation!

Stinking Thinking

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Do you find yourself caught up in a lot of “stinking thinking?”  When you wishfully think of something, do you immediately stop yourself with a “I can’t have, do or be that!”

How about when someone presents an idea to you – a dream they have -and it totally seems off the wall.  Do you say, “well, it won’t be easy.”  Or, “you’ve got a long road ahead.”   Instead, why not say “great!  what would have to happen to make that come true?”

See the difference.  Once you start thinking about what the outcome would be, your brain will start getting creative and will begin to draft out steps you’ll take.  You probably won’t know every step needed to reach your dream.  But if you start in the direction your wise inner self guides you to, you’ll be led to the next step, the next person.

This is the power of planning.  To me making plans is like playing.  And to be honest, many of my plans go out the window.  The secret is, that while you’re following your initial plan, all kinds of unexpected and wonderful things occur. 

You meet just the right person who can help you with the next step towards your dream.  You stumble upon a book that has just the key you need to unlock some blocked area you had.  You stop into the “wrong” office and run into an old friend who can help you.

Planning in this way, loosely attached to the exact outcome, is the only way your dreams become real.  Action rocks.  You don’t have to create your entire dream alone…matter of fact, you can’t.  When you get in the game, and take action in the world, the world will meet you and give you more than you can imagine.

Would love to see your comments here.  Post a dream you have!  You never know who might have a missing link you need.

How To Solve Problems

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What do you do when you hit a problem in your business? Maybe it’s how to generate more income, how to build a client list or how to create an information product. Too often you might find yourself getting stopped by a problem and just giving up. Here’s what you can do to get past those problems and on to doing what you love to do.

Jim Rohn, the wonderful motivational speaker, said to go inside first and see if you can come up a solution. If that doesn’t work, go to a book or internet sources to see if you can find an answer. If that doesn’t work, ask someone else who is where you want to be. This is good advice. Let’s explore further.

1.  Go inside. You have an extraordinary amount of wisdom right inside yourself –from your past experiences and from your natural preferences. One great way to get your answers from within is to take some time to get quiet. Make a list of teachers you’ve had that made a positive impact on you. Some may have been conventional teachers; others may be people you met who were not in a classroom. You can even consider famous people, people who have died or you haven’t met in person but you learned something valuable from them. Now choose one that jumps out at you right now.

Now write out a dialogue between you and this person. Ask him/her for advice. I can bet you will find some powerful insights into how to solve your problem

2.  Get some more information. When someone tells me they’re stuck on a problem, I quickly assess whether it is a lack of information that is the real problem. It often is. I’m amazed at how many people don’t take the time to seek information through books and the internet. Often there is someone out there who has solved a problem similar to yours and you can quickly get ideas about how to solve your problem.

3.  Ask someone else. If you still can’t figure out how to get past your problem after going inside and doing some research…now is the time to ask someone else. Most people are willing to share information and help you IF you show them that you have done some research prior to asking them. It’s startling how many people ask me for advice and information and when I ask them what they’ve done so far to solve their problem…they say “nothing”.

I’ll give you a concrete example. You want to run a tour business. You don’t know where to start and feel overwhelmed every time you think about this idea…but it just won’t go away.

First, you take time and journal with your teacher within. You have a dialogue and get encouragement from the teacher that you are on the right track. You even get some ideas about where you would like to lead tours and get a strong sense of the feelings of satisfaction and joy you’ll get when you achieve this goal.

Now you think, “I don’t know how to start. What insurance do I need? How do I hire a bus? What kind of outdoor microphone will I need so that people can hear me? How will I find people to enroll for my tours?”

So you go to Google and type in “how to lead tours”. You get nothing useful. So you try, “how to be a tour guide”. Bingo. You get a great article with lots of information and a link to an online course on the topic. You subscribe for the course. You then do an Amazon search and find a book that looks great on this topic so you order it.

After you’ve taken the course and read the book, you are about 100% confident that you’d like to achieve the goal of becoming a tour guide but you’d like to talk to some people who are actually doing it to get the real scoop on what it’s like and maybe ideas on how to break into the field.

Now, if you don’t already know someone in the field, it’s time to look up a few people in the field, approach them by email to request a 20 minute informational interview by phone. Send an email that says that you are interested in entering the field, you’ve taken a course and read about the field and now want to get some real world information.

Tell them that you’ll have 5-10 questions prepared before the call and that you’d be happy to email the questions to them prior to the call. You might want to ask what the best part of their work is and what the worst part of their work is. Don’t ask specific salaries, though you may ask what would be an expected range of pay for a beginner and for someone advanced in the field.

People are generally very happy to help out, happy to share information about work they love AND they will be impressed that you did your research prior to seeking them out.

So go ahead. What’s a problem you have? Try the 3 steps above and get unstuck now!

Not Good Enough?

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My clients often feel like they are not good enough to be successful in business.  Not smart enough, not savvy enough, don’t have enough experience, or money, or not attractive looks.  I know the feeling.  I’ve been there on some of these but I didn’t let them stop me.  And I don’t want this to stop you on your path to doing work you love and being paid well for it.

Here are 5 tips to get past the not good enough gremlins.

1.  Create a file for thanks you’s and testimonials. I have a “testimonial” outlook folder.  When I get an unexpected kind word from someone, thanking me for something I did for them or raving about the result they got after following a tip I gave, I pop it into my testimonial folder.  I use these in my marketing materials AND they also pick me up when I’m feeling unsure about my abilities.

2.  What is good enough? Asking yourself questions is a great way to bust out of the not good enough feeling.  What would be good enough?  You’ll almost always find that you already have enough related experience and information to be good enough!

3.  What would have to happen? Ask yourself, “What would have to happen to make me feel good enough?”  You’ll either realize that you’ve already got what it takes or you’ll know what your next step is to keep moving forward.

4.  What would I do if I were brave? And why am I wasting time not doing it?  Mark Twain said “Courage is resistance to fear, mastery of fear – not absence of fear.”  Each time you do something that brings up fear, you get stronger and are able to accomplish bigger and bigger steps with less and less fear.  It is easier to act your way into thinking differently than it is to think your way into acting differently.  Take a baby step, get into action and leave the fear behind!

5.  Write down accomplishments you are proud of. Think of 3-5 times in your life when you have done something you’re proud of.  Can be big or small … times you felt good about what you did.  Write briefly about what the situation was and what skills and character traits you brought to the situation to reach the outcome you are proud of.  This will instantly lift your spirits and remind you of all the qualities and knowledge you bring to every situation.

You are MORE than good enough to do anything your heart desires.  That is the truth that I know about you!

Gratitude is Good Medicine

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I’ve been following the relatively new field of Positive Psychology for the last few years –imagine studying people who are healthy and thriving and not just those with disorders and diagnosis –about time!

There are powerful research results coming out about the idea of gratitude.  Findings say that gratitude helps maintain close connections with others.  Gratitude is linked to more helping behaviors, high positive emotions, life satisfaction, increased hope and lower feelings of anxiety and envy.  Who doesn’t want that!

In a research study on happiness, people in one group were asked to write a letter of gratitude to someone, a 2nd group was asked to write down five things they were grateful for each day for one week, and a 3rd group was asked to write down five things they were grateful for on a single day.

There appeared to be more benefit to listing your blessings 1 day a week rather than everyday (I wonder if it was because it was easier to remember to do it once!).  All three interventions worked, providing people with increased happiness and hope.  And even more impressive –the benefits lasted up to 6 months.

Of all the happiness interventions to date– gratitude gives the strongest effects.

The affirmative prayer method that I practice daily has a gratitude component to it. Being grateful for what is right now and feeling what it’s like to already have what you have asked for.  When I practice affirmative prayer and get to the gratitude part, my heart always fills up so full…no matter what circumstances are appearing in my outside world…it is a wonderful feeling and always transforms me to a higher place.

Enjoy this season of gratitude, and post a comment on our blog about your experiences with gratitude…I’d love to hear them!

Life First Work Second In Action

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I’m walking my talk this week – you know the one where I say living a Life First/Work Second is an important value of mine and one I want to encourage others to go after if it rings true for them…yeah, that one.

I’m writing to you from my home state of RI where I’m visiting family. The purpose of the trip was “crisis” related…so I’ve been focusing more on family than work this week…
and I can do so and am glad!

In order to focus on what’s most important right now I’m going to forgo my usual weekly article ezine for this week and next week…

Watch for an article the first week of November.

In the meantime, I’m also helping my family (and myself!) remember that what you focus on expands…so if there is an area of life that doesn’t look so rosy right now don’t get consumed by it -take the steps you need to and don’t forget to enjoy all that IS good right now…you’re loved ones, the fall air, whatever makes you happy.

Knowing for you a prosperous and productive week while remembering what’s REALLY important.

Igniting your entrepreneurial spirit,
Ann

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