Archive for the ‘Uncategorized’ Category

The Tricky Balance of Self-Mastery

May 1, 2018

ScalesI’ve been getting advice and guidance from Kirk Duncan, a local teacher and mentor. A principle that I learned from him goes like this – self-accountability + self-forgiveness = self-mastery. I really like that. And the more I think about it, the more I’m convinced that this principle is one of the main keys to success for anything in life.

There has to be a balance at all times. If you’re too much on the side of self-forgiveness, you’ll tend to be way too easy on yourself. You’ll just take the attitude that everything is fine and you don’t need to work or improve; that just getting by is all that’s required. In a way, it’s a nice way to be. Less stressful and actually healthier physically and mentally. The problem is that you don’t progress that way. You can’t coast your way to greater success in life. Pretty much anything worthwhile to accomplish in life takes a certain amount of effort, discipline and even sacrifice.

On the other hand, if you’re too much on the side of self-accountability, you’ll be way too hard on yourself. You will have no patience with your faults and weaknesses. If you’re a real go-getter, you may be thinking that you shouldn’t have patience with yourself like that. But it creates a great deal of stress in you that can tear you up inside, destroy health and relationships, and rob you of all happiness. Life is a journey that was meant to be enjoyed. Besides, what I’ve seen in my own life and the lives of others is that without self-forgiveness, you really don’t move forward effectively.

Here’s a little-known secret – success is often the product of joy, not the cause of it! Too many people are pushing themselves harder and harder, making themselves sick and miserable to accomplish their goals, while actually pushing their goals further away. Being sick and miserable does NOT attract success and happiness. Yes, progressing in life and accomplishing goals take effort and sacrifice, but you can do it while feeling joy, not putting off experiencing joy until your goal is accomplished. That’s where self-forgiveness comes in. If you’re really driven to accomplishing great things, you may be prone to beating yourself up every time you fall short of being where you want to be or finishing something you wanted to have done. Feelings of self-worth help to attract greater success. But if you’re constantly beating yourself up every time you make a mistake or don’t accomplish what you wanted to do, you will devalue yourself and put yourself into a place where it’s difficult to think positive and attract good things into your life.

So the key here is balance. If you can maintain accountability for your performance and setting and working toward goals, while forgiving yourself for falling short and for your natural limitations and weaknesses, you can move forward and accomplish great things in your life. It requires a healthy amount of self-honesty and the ability to distinguish reasons from excuses. But even when we fall victim to our own excuses, even the lame ones, we have to understand that we are human and as such, have natural faults and weaknesses. It’s important that we forgive ourselves but then immediately recommit to get back on track and do better next time. Just like a baby learning to walk, there is not a limitation on the number of failed attempts to do better. As long as you commit yourself and keep moving forward, you are a success!

 

Advertisements

The Secret Power of Positivity

March 21, 2018

+++++++ I recently attended another seminar with Kirk Duncan – a very motivational trainer. He spoke about a principle that I’ve known about for a long time but had discounted. Perhaps I didn’t really understand it until now. (I’m still learning about it.) You’ve heard of the saying “garbage in, garbage out” (GIGO). I know that computer programmers used to say that a lot. This applies to everything in life. To put it more broadly, as Kirk was teaching, the type of energy we put into anything will determine the type of results (energy) we get back out.

We’ve known about this principle for a long time in relation to plants. It was discovered a number of years ago that if you play soft, elevating music to plants, they grow better. Many people claim that they’re even affected by the things you say to them. Masaru Emoto used this same principle in his research with water. He wrote a book entitled The Hidden Messages in Water­. In it, he talked about how he would play certain types of music around water. He would then quickly freeze it and look at how the water crystallized. With classical music, it created beautiful even patterns. With hard raucous music (like heavy metal), the ice crystals were very misshapen and disorderly. He got the same kind of results with speech. Gentle affirming words created beautiful crystals, while angry, hateful words created ugly crystals. Writing words on the containers, such as love and hate, did the same thing.

All that is interesting, but it may not make a whole lot of difference in your life. Where it truly makes a difference is with people and situations. In the Bible, it says “Pleasant words are as an honeycomb, sweet to the soul, and health to the bones.” (Proverbs 16:24). Words contain powerful energy. They can be healing or hurtful. What you say cannot be unsaid, even with an apology. Even when you’re joking and the person on the other end knows that you’re joking, negative remarks can be damaging to one’s self-esteem and confidence. It even goes further than that. If you believe in the power of the subconscious mind (as I do), you would realize that even your thoughts about another person have an effect on them. We’re all in contact with each other on an energetic level. But even if you don’t believe that, you must realize that your attitude about another person will come out in your speech toward them, how you look at them, things you do or don’t do for them, etc. You cannot entirely hide your feelings about another person when you’re interacting with them on a regular basis!

But what about the thoughts you think about yourself and your life? Wouldn’t the same rules apply? The type of energy you put in will determine the type of results that you get. You can’t grump your way to success. You can’t complain enough to make your life happy and enjoyable. It doesn’t work that way. If you put in negativity, including fear, doubt, anger, etc., your results will not be what you would like them to be. I’ve written a couple of times about the power of gratitude. Gratitude, faith, love, confidence, etc. will elevate your thinking, open your mind to new possibilities, calm your fears, and drastically improve your chances for success.

Easy, right? Of course not. If your life is humming along and you’re setting and meeting goals and so forth, this kind of thinking may come easier for you. But if you’re depressed and discouraged, if life is not looking at all rosy, if you’re faced with crushing burdens and hardships, how do you turn your thinking around? I’ve listened to lots of motivational speakers who tell me to think a certain way. I keep looking for that little switch in my brain that will change my thinking from negative to positive. I haven’t found it. Have you? I haven’t mastered this, but I’m working on it. I have found that if you start with little things, then you can start to get a handle on it. Kirk Duncan teaches us to say “I manage my emotions; my emotions don’t manage me.” Of course, even he knows that it’s a long process to get to that point. One thing you have to realize is that often times; negative thinking is simply a bad habit. Like any habit, you have to consciously work on changing it, and it takes a lot of practice. Pay attention to your thoughts. When you catch yourself thinking negatively about yourself, another person, or a situation in your life, quickly replace it with something positive. I’m not saying to be complacent. For example, if you don’t like your job, you don’t have to stick with it for the rest of your life. However, thinking positive thoughts about your job will not lock you into it and it may just make it more enjoyable, which will improve your performance and may lead to a better job.

Remember, positive in = positive out. Negative in = negative out. Whatever you want to grow and improve in your life – your income, your marriage, your performance, whatever – invest positive energy into it and stop putting in negative energy. I believe you’ll be a whole lot happier and successful if you do.

Don’t Sneeze on Me!

February 28, 2018
220px-Rotavirus_Reconstruction

Rotavirus

Are you a germaphobe? Or in other words, do you suffer from mysophobia? Do you freak out or are tempted to spray a can of Lysol in your face if someone sneezes within 40 feet of your personal space? Clinically, you probably don’t have this phobia. However, I see a lot of people that seem to come close to it. Do you subscribe to germ theory – the idea that many diseases are caused by microorganisms (or pathogens) such as bacteria and viruses? If you do, you’re not alone. Most people see it that way. And I’m not here to disprove it or say that germ theory is all wrong. However, I believe we need a more balanced view.

Blaming illness on infection by common germs is like a drunk driver who hit a telephone pole blaming his injuries on the telephone pole. Was the telephone pole directly responsible for the damage to his car and his body? Yes, of course. Was the telephone pole the cause of his accident? Of course not! He was driving drunk! That’s why he hit the pole.

I don’t dispute the existence of bacteria, viruses, and other pathogens or their role in illness and infection. Even I have taken antibiotics when I had infections that could not be controlled by more natural means. And yes, there are some pathogens for which our immune systems cannot mount an adequate defense (such as Ebola). However, in most instances, our immune systems are capable of fighting off illness or infection due to reasonable exposure to common germs.

Pathogens, or the illnesses they are related to, are rated on two scales – morbidity and mortality. Basically, morbidity means what percentage of people who are exposed to a pathogen actually get sick from it. Mortality is the percentage of people who die from it. There are many factors that affect morbidity and mortality, outside of how mean the germ is. These include your basic level of health, stress levels, nutrition, age, etc. Often times, the very young (whose immune system hasn’t matured yet) and the very old (whose immune system is worn down) are the most susceptible.

Our susceptibility to illness varies from day to day, sometimes from moment to moment. For instance, strong negative emotions such as fear and anger seem to put our immune system on hold temporarily, leaving us vulnerable. Excessive sugar intake (as with most Americans) can cause our immune system to be depressed. Lack of sleep, too much stress, vertebral subluxations, poor eating habits (i.e. junk food – high in toxins and chemicals, low in nutrition), and other factors also reduce our immunity.

Some of these things are hard to avoid. Lifestyle changes are generally difficult to make overnight. So it is wise to reduce the exposure. That doesn’t mean to be a germaphobe, but just exercise a little caution. It’s important to note that many viruses (such as those that cause cold and flu) thrive in a warm, moist environment, such as your sinuses. You should wash your hands with soap and water a few times a day. Why? It’s not that your hands are susceptible to these viruses. It’s because we can’t seem to keep our hands away from our nose and eyes! Those are the pathways to our sinuses. What goes in the mouth (except for poisons and serious toxins) is usually not as much of an issue.

So, yes, be on your guard in a reasonable fashion. However, if you do get ill, the most effective way to figure out what happened is not to look around and see where you got the germs. You need to look in the mirror and try to figure out why your immune system failed you. It probably won’t be too hard to figure out. Most illness happens when you’re not taking very good care of yourself or you’re under a lot of stress. Take responsibility for your health and your emotions. Take care of yourself, and get natural, effective healthcare as needed.

P.S.- After I published this, I thought of some personal insights I’d like to add. What prompted this particular blog post is that I was recently sick (first time in 2-3 years). My wife is prone to bronchitis due to her asthma, which is related to a weakness left behind from having pneumonia as an infant. In spite of this, she did very well this winter until a few weeks ago. She came down with bronchitis. Then a week later, I got it. Many people would say this is typical, but in our house, it’s not the norm. While I was caring for her, I had a particularly stressful night where I slept very little. The stress plus the lack of sleep weakened my immune system. Low immunity plus high exposure equals a strong chance of getting sick.

My children are all adopted. They come from very different gene pools. But one thing they all had in common is that they rarely got sick as they were growing up. I’ve heard of families where illness goes around from child to child and often starts up again at the first child, continuing the cycle. Our family was not like that at all. My kids didn’t eat great, but their diet was above average. I taught them to enjoy fruits and vegetables and limited their consumption of junk food. But most importantly, I kept them in proper alignment with chiropractic. Whenever they would start to not feel well, I would give them an adjustment. Then they would either not get sick or it would be very mild. By working to keep their immune systems strong, there was very little illness in my home.

For more information on caring for your health and well-being, go to www.GoodHealthChiro.com or www.ohanachiropractor.com.

The School of Gratitude

February 15, 2018

gratitudeI’m thankful

for the toes on my left foot. Why would I say such a thing? Because I lost the toes on my right foot! (Be careful with lawn mowers!)

I’ve written before about how one of the greatest secrets to having joy in this life is to feel and express gratitude. It can be hard to feel gratitude (or joy) when you’re depressed, discouraged, or overwhelmed with physical and/or emotional pain. The problem is… when you’re in a deep dark pit or your mind is completely enveloped in some kind of crushing stress, how do you “look on the bright side” and start working your way to a better place? It can be difficult to take even a tiny step in the right direction.

One thing that I’ve learned in life is that you never EVER say that things can’t get any worse. The universe will be glad to prove you wrong. I don’t care how bad things are. They can ALWAYS get worse in some way. Also, when you say that, you’re implying that there’s absolutely nothing to be grateful for. That’s a slap in the face to God and everybody on the planet.

Every successful person will tell you that your attitude and outlook on life has everything to do with your ability to set and achieve meaningful goals. However, that can be a real challenge when life has beaten you down and all you can see any more are the negative aspects of your life. So let’s start with some basics.

There are lots of things in life that we don’t appreciate until they’re gone. Prior to my little altercation with the lawn mower, I can’t remember ever feeling gratitude for my toes. As with many things in life, I just took them for granted. I’m sure there are things in your life that you never really appreciated until it was taken away, even temporarily. Perhaps there was even a really close call that made you appreciate your health and safety.

So in the school of gratitude, basic level, your assignment is to make a list of things that you’re grateful for. The easiest way to approach this is to look around you (including in the mirror) and identify each item that benefits you in some way. Then think about how your life would be made more difficult or less enjoyable if you didn’t have that thing. Remember – it can always get worse. Do you have a broken leg? If not, be thankful for that. If so, be thankful that both legs aren’t broken. If they are, be thankful both arms and legs aren’t broken, and so on. Look at yourself in the mirror. Are you very attractive? If so, be thankful for that. If you don’t think so, I’ll bet you’ve seen someone else who is disfigured or for whatever reason is much less attractive than you. If there is anyone else less attractive than you, that means you have a measure of beauty, for which you can be grateful.

So make that list. You can go through your body parts. You can list all sorts of things in your environment that are luxuries or necessities that benefit you in some way. As you look at things around you, if you would be better off without something, skip over it for now. Otherwise, list it. I think you’ll find that the list will grow very rapidly. As the list grows, you will feel more joy in your life.

Once you’ve mastered that and can feel gratitude for all the things in you and around you, you have earned your bachelor’s degree in the school of gratitude. You’re now ready for the more advanced courses.

Have you ever had trials and difficulties? Of course you have. Have they benefited you in any way? Perhaps more than you think. I believe that we only grow through challenges and difficulties. Some of them are thrust upon us as trials and hardships. Some of them are self-inflicted, such as going back to school and taking hard courses or pushing ourselves to perform a more grueling workout routine. You can seldom cruise your way to meaningful success. You don’t generally accomplish great things sitting on your couch watching mindless TV shows. Work is required. Also, there are trials that you’ve gone through that have made you stronger or more empathetic or have helped you appreciate the good things in life more. I don’t recommend sticking your foot in your lawnmower. I can’t say that I’m glad I did that (I tripped actually), but I have learned from it. Be thankful for the lessons and growth that have come from hardships.

Another thing you can do is to look around again. Pay specific attention to the things you skipped over. Maybe they weren’t just things. Perhaps some of them were people and relationships. Especially in light of what I was just saying about trials, there may be some benefits that you missed as you were making your initial list. Often times, we can look closer and consider ways in which we’ve benefited. It doesn’t work in all cases, but sometimes we can find some blessings in the midst of horrible circumstances.

If you can do all of this, you’ve earned your master’s degree in the school of gratitude. Shall we talk about how to take it even further? There are a few ways in which we can feel gratitude at the highest level.

One way is to feel gratitude for benefits and blessings not yet received. This is called faith. A simple way is to think about your next paycheck. There’s no guarantee until you have it in your bank account. However, you’re reasonably confident that you will get it around the designated time. Therefore, why wait to feel gratitude for it? Feeling thankful for things and exercising faith helps to draw more good to us. So you might as well start feeling grateful now. There are blessings on their way to you right now, some of which you’re not even aware of. So be grateful for them now.

Another way to feel the most advanced form of gratitude, which is something that most people struggle with and why it’s part of the school of gratitude’s doctoral program, is to feel grateful for other people’s good fortune, even when it’s something that you desire and have not yet been able to attain. “Sour grapes” is more the common attitude in that situation. It’s easier to feel jealousy, resentment and disappointment, maybe even a loss of self-esteem. But you’re becoming an expert in gratitude. Therefore you can take on that challenge.

Lastly, especially if you recognize God’s hand in your life and you feel confidence that he has a plan for you, it becomes possible to feel grateful for everything in your life. This even applies to trials and hardships while you’re in the middle of them. It doesn’t mean that you have to be a martyr or to enjoy the pain that they cause. But it does mean that you understand that everything has a purpose and that all things will work together for your good.

I hope you don’t feel like I’m being overly optimistic. I still get down sometimes. I’m not trying to minimize difficulties that you’re going through. However, I maintain that whatever degree of gratitude you can feel and express is the degree to which you can feel joy in this life, even if it’s small. If you’re feeling very down, start with that basic list that I described earlier. Do it today.

Enter your email address to follow this blog and receive notifications of new posts by email.

Join 283 other followers

Dare to Dream

January 31, 2018

abundanceAlfred Lord Tennyson once wrote, “‘Tis better to have loved and lost than never to have loved at all.” This statement is often quoted and yet not everyone agrees with it. If you’ve ever had your heart broken, especially recently, you may think this statement is not at all true. But I believe I know what he was talking about. Even if you have lost at love, your life is richer for having experienced it.

I’d like to ask you another question, perhaps much more controversial. Is it better to have dreamed and lost than to have never dreamed at all? For those who have dared to dream of what they’d like to see in their life, some have become embittered. I know of many people, especially older people, who would say that they wished they had never had a dream or set a big goal. They may have been repeatedly hurt, disappointed, abused, or ripped off. They took their minds to great heights only to come crashing down. Sometimes the pain is too much to want to get up and try again.

Let’s look at the story of Joe. (This is hypothetical but all too common.) Joe was a country boy who always wanted to have a farm of his own. However, he was urged to pursue another career path. So he went to school and got a job in the city. It was a good job, but his heart wasn’t truly in it. Finally one day, he decided to pursue his dream. He didn’t just up and quit his job. He worked hard, sacrificed and saved until he could earn enough money for a good down payment on a farm. The day finally arrived when he was able to purchase a farm and move back to the country. It took all of his savings to pay for the down payment on the farm, a minimal amount of equipment and seed to plant. He planted his crop and worked very hard to get it to grow well. His efforts were soon rewarded with a large field of beautiful corn stalks. The stalks were full of ears of corn. It looked like it would be a bumper crop.

Then tragedy struck. A huge storm laid the crop low. None of the corn was salvageable. It was a total loss. Joe’s savings were wiped out. His plans for a great crop that year were completely ruined.

What would you do if you were Joe? Would you sell the farm and go back to your old life? Or would you try again? Should Joe have just settled for his job in the city and never attempted to live his dream? It certainly would have been easier.

The purpose of life is to have joy. Joy comes from relationships and experiences. Unfortunately, relationships and experiences often result in pain. To have neither joy nor pain is to simply exist. That is not living. So I ask again – is it better to have dreamed and lost than to have never dreamed at all? It’s important here to step back and look at the bigger picture. We can ask the question in another way. Is it better to have dreamed a dream, including working hard to accomplish that dream, and lost than to look back on your life and see that it was wasted as you wallowed in mediocrity, too afraid of pain to try for the joy? This could be one of the most important questions that you can ever ask yourself.

I’ve known a lot of joy in my life. However, I have had dreams smashed or just never come to fruition. I’ve worked hard for things only to have them taken away. I’ve been burned a number of times and experienced a lot of pain. How many times should you have to get burned before you learn to stay away from the fire? That seems like a logical question. And yet, is it better to spend your life in the cold and darkness simply because you’re afraid of the fire?

Some dreams take a long time to come true and come with a host of setbacks along the way. Some dreams end in painful disappointment. However, EVERY GREAT ACCOMPLISHMENT STARTS WITH A DREAM. Don’t let the fear of pain keep you from reaching for the joy. My wife always says, “the answer is always no if you don’t ask”. You may be afraid of failure. However, failure (the lack of accomplishment) is guaranteed for those who will not try. You’re far more likely to have wonderful things happen in your life if you’re not afraid to dream. Dreams become goals, goals lead to action, action brings results. So dare to dream!

I Am Black (sort of)

October 16, 2017

You wouldn’t know it to look at me. My race is Caucasian and my skin doesn’t have much color to it. I don’t have any African-American heritage. And I’m not just black. There are a few other races mixed in there as well.

Let me explain. Thirty years ago, my wife and I adopted a newborn little girl who happened to be African-American. Her skin is the color of fine milk chocolate and her hair is as kinky as kinky can get. We fell in love with her right away. Adopting her ended nine years of failed attempts to have a child naturally. Just five months later, we adopted another baby. This one is half Hispanic. Several years later, we adopted a little boy who is part black, part Pacific Islander. So we have a variety of races in our family.

Shortly after we adopted our first little girl (who is now very tall and beautiful), we experienced a very eye-opening incident. We were walking in a mall on our way to see a movie and a young man started talking to us. I don’t know what his problem was but he started spouting all of these racial slurs against black people. I felt an interesting reaction. I was very offended. Not just for my daughter or for all people of color, but for myself. My daughter had become a part of me. So in a way, I had become part black. So when he was insulting black people, he was insulting me as well! I told him in no uncertain terms that I didn’t appreciate his remarks.

I’ve thought about it many times since. My children are a part of me, even though they aren’t related to me biologically. That makes me part white, part black, part Latino, and part Pacific Islander. But it goes further than that. I believe that everyone on this planet is my brother or sister. That’s not just mushy poetic talk. I believe we’re all children of one Heavenly Father. I believe that spiritually, as well as going way back in genealogy, we’re all related. Everyone of every race is a part of me.

I wasn’t raised to be racist. So I don’t understand racism. I realize that even those who are racist are my brothers and sisters as well. But I just don’t get it. I really thought that the people of the United States had risen above racism. I know there are still individuals who are struggling with it, but I didn’t think that organizations would still rise up against people of other races, like we’re seeing now. I don’t understand how someone would think that they’re better than someone else simply because of the color of their skin or their heritage.

Racism is based on hatred. Whether a person feels that their hatred is justified or not, it’s a very destructive emotion. It not only hurts others, including society itself, it can lead to violence and other destructive actions. And it goes deeper than that. Strong negative emotions, especially hatred, tear us up inside. They rob us of both health and happiness. As a doctor and someone who works with emotions quite a bit, I’ve seen what these emotions can do to people. So it isn’t just about “being nice”. It’s about your own health and well-being. Even if you feel a certain satisfaction in “justifiably” feeling hatred toward someone, it can still be very destructive.

As my wife always says, “everyone just needs to play nice”. Forgiveness and gratitude can bring you much greater happiness than feelings of hatred. We’re all related in some way. So try to feel more love and empathy toward others, including people of other races or ethnic origins.

The Parable of the Minefield – Part 2

February 10, 2017

When I wrote the Parable of the Minefield, I was thinking that I was defying the definition of courage, when I thought that the prevailing definition was a lack of fear. But when I looked it up in the dictionary afterward, I saw that the definition actually does match my understanding of it. It defines courage as “the ability to do something that you know is difficult or dangerous” (Merriam-Webster). I would change one word of that. I would change “know” to “feel or believe”. Life is all about perception, especially emotions. For instance, if you have a phobia, you may know intellectually that your fear is not reasonable. Your mind may tell you that something is not dangerous, even though in your heart you believe it is. No matter how much logic you try to apply, you may not be able to summon the courage to do the thing you’re afraid of.

In my story of the minefield, what if there were no mines, but rather, people just thought that it was a minefield? Would it have changed the 5 examples? No! The first person, who didn’t know that it was believed to be a minefield, would have been vindicated to find out later that there really never were any mines. However, he still may have initially had a panic attack when he was led to believe that he had just crossed a minefield. He was still ignorant of the common belief, even if it was incorrect to begin with.

The second man, who didn’t care because he had given up, would not have changed his attitude if he found out later that it was not really a minefield.

The third man, who wouldn’t go because he was overcome with fear, was unable to cross the field because he believed that it did contain mines. Even though the mines were not real, his fear was very real because it was based on the belief that he would likely be killed or maimed by what he thought were mines in the field. Even if someone came along and told him that there no mines in the field, if he continued to believe deep down that there were mines in the field, he still may not have been able to summon the courage to cross it. Many of us have unreasonable fears that may have no basis in fact, but their effect on us can be just as real as if it were a dangerous situation.

Did the fourth man, who was trembling with fear as he crossed the field, exhibit true courage even though there weren’t really any mines? Absolutely! Courage is doing the thing that you’re afraid to do, regardless of whether or not the fear is justified.

What about the fifth man, who was inspired to exercise faith and put his trust in God as he confidently crossed the field? Did he exercise real faith even though the danger wasn’t real after all? Of course! What about when he prayed about it? Shouldn’t God have simply told him not to worry about it since there weren’t any mines in the field? Even if he were so spiritually in tune that he could have gotten such a detailed answer to his prayer, it may not have been in the man’s best interest for God to share that tidbit of information. One of our purposes here on earth is to learn to exercise faith. Remember, faith is the opposite of fear. The more that we can use faith, the less fear will control our life. Did the Spirit lie to the man? No. God simply gave him an assurance that, one way or another, everything would be alright… and it was. Of course God knew that there no mines in that field. But all the man needed to know was that things would be okay. Through that experience, the man was able to build his faith.

There have been many times in my life that I’ve lacked courage; times that fear has held me back. When I have exercised courage by going forward in spite of fear, I have not only accomplished more than I would have otherwise, I have grown personally and built my character. Exercising courage does not mean doing stupid dangerous things. But when your heart, mind and spirit tell you to do something or take your life in a particular direction, move forward in faith, in spite of fears that may be getting in the way.

The Parable of the Minefield

February 9, 2017

There were 5 people who needed to get from point A to point B. It was important for them to do this. Their families were depending on them. The problem was that there was an active minefield between the two points. They could not go around it. In order to get to point B, they had to cross the minefield.

The first person walked casually across it without a care in the world. When he got to the other side, the people who were there excitedly asked him how he could have done this so casually and bravely. “What are you talking about?” the man asked. “Didn’t you know? You just walked across a minefield!” the people exclaimed. He immediately had a panic attack and almost fainted. “I had no idea!” (This was not courage. It was ignorance.)

The second person also walked boldly across. When he got to the other side, the people asked him if he knew it was a minefield. “Yes, I know” he replied. “I just don’t care.” This person had given up. He no longer cared if he lived or died. He did not exhibit courage, but just apathy and self-destructive tendencies.

The third person simply refused to go. His fear of the minefield was paralyzing. He knew he needed to get to point B. He tried to figure out how to get there without crossing the minefield, but could not come up with anything. So he simply did not go. His family was very disappointed, but he felt powerless to get to the necessary destination.

The fourth person was also very afraid, but he went anyway. Every step was a huge effort. Getting across the minefield was a horrible, harrowing experience. When he finally got to the other side, he collapsed with emotional exhaustion. It caused him to need years of counseling and it was a terrible experience, but he had made it! This man exhibited true courage. Courage is not the absence of fear. Courage is moving forward in spite of your fear. Where there is no fear, there can be no courage.

The fifth person strolled across the field whistling a happy tune. When he got to his destination, everyone was astonished. They asked if he knew that it was a minefield and that he could have easily been killed. He responded that he knew that. They asked him if he had a death wish or didn’t care about being blown to bits. He said that he did not have a death wish and that he in no way wanted to be killed or maimed. So how could he cross the minefield so casually?

He explained that prior to starting across the minefield, he had prayed fervently to Heavenly Father about whether he should cross the field and implored that he be protected in his efforts. A sweet, calm assurance had come over him that it would be alright. He would most likely be kept safe, but even if he wasn’t, he was in God’s hands and it would turn out for the best in the end. Based on that, he decided that he would exercise faith as he crossed the field. He would replace fear with faith. He wasn’t able to do it entirely. So he did have to exercise some courage as well. But with that, he was able to cross the field with a song in his heart and a smile on his face.

The opposite of fear is not courage. The opposite of fear is faith – faith in God, faith in your own abilities, faith in those around you, etc. Going through life can be like crossing a minefield at times. At certain times and in certain situations, we can find ourselves being like any one of the people in this story. Sometimes there is danger and risk that we’re naively unaware of. Sometimes we can be so distressed and fed up that we feel like we just don’t care anymore. There are times when our fears stop us from doing things that we know we ought to do, or even need to do. Other times, we’re able to summon our courage and push through the fear, in spite of the difficulty and even getting a few bruises and scars along the way, both physical and emotional. But of course the best way to live life is with faith. When we’re able to have faith and confidence (deep down, not just superficial), we can face our trials with quiet assurance that everything will work out, even when the trials become difficult and damaging.

 

(The foregoing is an expansion of an idea published in my blog 9/11/15. It can be found at https://drdonwhittaker.com/2015/09/11/courage-and-fear/.)

“I Tried!”

October 27, 2016

falling-dominoes-1422284For a long time now, I’ve been fascinated with the idea of “trying”. The word “try”, along with all of its variations, is often misunderstood and misused. I believe that looking at this concept in the proper manner can have a major impact on your success in life. Imagine the following two scenarios –

Scenario one – I have a pencil on my desk and I ask you to try to pick it up. An easy task, right? If you pick it up, that’s doing, not trying. If you don’t even attempt it, you can’t say that you tried.

Scenario two – I ask you to pick up a large truck and lift it above your head without the use of any tools or equipment. I would consider that an impossible task, as I’m sure you would also. You can pull up on it with all your might, but you won’t be able to lift it, even if you have some delusion that you have super powers.

For some of you word buffs, you will argue that the word “try” also means to accomplish something. However, the way that I think of it and the way that it’s often used, especially in the past tense, means that you attempted something but did not succeed. So please bear with me as I use it in that manner. The way I see it, there are three prerequisites for honestly saying that you tried to accomplish something.

  1. You must approach it with the belief that the task is something that is possible for you to achieve.
  2. You must put forth a full, honest effort with a clear intention to succeed in the task.
  3. In the end, you must fail in the attempt (going back to the way that I’m using the word). Based on 1 and 2, if you do not succeed, this will qualify you as having tried. If you do number 1 and 2, in most cases, you will succeed, in which case I would say that you didn’t just try, you did.

In the first scenario, there is a case in which you could say that you really “tried” to pick up the pencil. Let’s say that, unbeknownst to you, the pencil had been glued to the desk and it was your understanding that you could only use your bare hands to pick it up. In that case, you would have gone to pick it up and fulfilled all three of the prerequisites of having tried. What if you believed that the pencil were glued to the desk even though it wasn’t? Would you even make the attempt? If you really put forth an honest effort, you would pick it up easily and be surprised that it was no effort at all. What if you had been hypnotized to believe that the pencil actually weighed 2000 pounds? If you even tried at all, would your belief prevent you from lifting the pencil, even though in reality it only weighs a few ounces? That’s an interesting question.

There are actually many times in life that we encounter this type of situation. How many things would you attempt if you really believed you could and would succeed? How many things do you avoid because you don’t believe it’s possible (or at least likely) for you to be able to succeed?

Let’s say that the pencil really was glued to the desk but I never said anything about using a tool to lift it up. Would you just assume that you must use your bare hands, or would you get something to pry it up with, or if necessary, get it off the desk in pieces? In other words, do you think outside the box to get something accomplished, rather than giving up because you believe it’s impossible?

In the second scenario, what if you just thought it was a real truck, but it was actually a cleverly disguised balloon that was barely resting on the ground? Your internal beliefs may prevent you from even making an attempt to lift it. After all, you don’t want to look foolish! But in this case, if you really did make an honest attempt to lift it and were able to get past any personal belief that could prevent your muscles from even putting forth the effort, you would be very surprised to learn that it was not only possible to lift the truck above your head, but actually quite easy.

Everyone knows that even the strongest man in the world can’t lift a large truck above his head with just his bare hands. But how many situations are there where everyone believes that a task is not possible, but then someone goes out and does it anyway? There have been many examples of this. Either the task was easier than everyone believed, or as is often the case, someone found the strength, inspiration, ideas and determination to actually accomplish it, in spite of the difficulty.

Why is there so much confusion? The simple answer is that we need to have a clear understanding of what we can and can’t do. But obviously it isn’t always that easy. I’ve written in previous entries about how challenging it can be to perceive reality as it truly is. We have so many filters, biases and preconceptions, plus the fact that we don’t usually have all of the facts. Just like having a pencil secretly glued to the desk or a balloon that looks like a heavy truck. There can be many factors skewing our understanding of what is really possible for each of us as individuals. There can be a lack of understanding of what’s truly possible in any given situation. We may be lacking in belief and determination, including self-confidence. We may have false perceptions of the rules and limitations. Or in other words, we may be “stuck in the box”, like assuming we can’t use a tool to pry up the glued-down pencil.

I believe that some of the greatest sources of stress in our lives can be attributed to these kinds of confusion. One situation is where you truly believe you can do something, but you consistently miss the mark. Like if you really believed that you could lift a real truck with your bare hands, so you kept pulling and pulling on it with all of your might. You just wind up getting sore, worn out and wasting time. There may really be goals in your life that are beyond your reach, although I don’t believe that’s very common. The fact is that the truck CAN be lifted, but you need a lot of help and the right tools. So usually, it’s not so much that the task cannot be accomplished, but that you’re going about it the wrong way. So rather than stressing about not being able to ever accomplish a particular goal, if it’s something that you really desire, step back and take an objective look at how else the task could be accomplished.

Another source of stress is when you’re putting great forth great amounts of effort trying to accomplish something that you don’t even believe you can accomplish. If you really believe deep down that the pencil weighs 2000 pounds or is glued to the table and you think you’re not allowed to use any tools to pry it up, especially if you have a lot of time and emotion invested in that belief, would you be able to just reach down and pick up that pencil that isn’t stuck and only weighs a few ounces? This is where you get into some of these deep psychological mysteries. And yet, I think that it happens quite frequently. What if a football team was getting a pep talk right before a game where the coach said, “There’s no way we can beat this team, but go out and give it your all.”? (In other words, don’t plan to win, just “try” to win. Have you ever talked to yourself that way?) Maybe the other team will not be very good and they could beat them after all. Perhaps, but I doubt it. Most often, that team who doesn’t believe they can win has very little chance of winning. Any decent coach, even if he knows deep down that they’re playing a much better team, will do his best to instill into the players the belief that they can win.

In life, we’re sometimes faced with situations that we don’t believe we can win with, but we put forth our best efforts anyway due to social pressure or physical necessity. It could be a salesman with a very poor sales record who’s been told that he’s got to get the top sales for that week or he will be fired. Then at the end of the week, his sales aren’t much better than normal and he gets fired. He then cries out, “I tried!” Or it could be someone who’s been trying desperately to find a job for a long time and who needs to find a job this month or his family will be out in the street. The next month rolls around and still no employment. He exclaims bitterly, “I tried my very best!” In neither of these cases is the person lying. However, as I stated earlier, I believe that part of trying is not just putting forth an effort, but actually believing deep down that you can accomplish the task. Trapped emotions, acquired beliefs, and so forth can prevent us from having the faith to really put forth a full and honest effort, even when we are doing our best to believe “on the outside”.

Energy work that we do, including the Emotion Code, Body Code and EVOX, can help people to release trapped emotions and false perceptions that prevent us from reaching our full potential. In the meantime, it’s important that we don’t judge others based on what WE believe they should be able to do. Notice that I did not state in either of the scenarios in the preceding paragraph whether or not they were capable of accomplishing the task that they absolutely had to succeed at. From the outside looking in, we have no way of knowing, in spite of how well we feel that we would do in that situation. One of my pet peeves is when someone says, “if I can do it, anyone can do it”. That is a slap in the face to our Creator who made each of us with unique talents and abilities. Also, we don’t know what someone is or is not capable of, given their current circumstances. For ourselves, we need to do some careful self-examination and make sure that if we feel that we’re really trying to accomplish something, we are fulfilling the first two prerequisites of what it means to really try. Then if you really do fall short of your goal and you don’t accomplish the thing you’re trying to accomplish, you can truly and justifiably say, “I TRIED!”

Remember though, it makes no sense to intend to try. Just like the example of picking up a pencil. You can intend to pick it up or you can refuse to pick it up. If it had been glued down, you could say you tried after the fact. But it doesn’t make sense to say that you intend to put forth an effort with an intention to fail. Like Yoda said in Star Wars, “There is no try, only do.” In future tense, never say you’re going to try, only intend to do.

Happiness and the “If Only” Syndrome

February 22, 2016

Happy confused babyI’ve written before about how the purpose of life is to have joy and that happiness can be gained in a variety of ways, especially with expressing gratitude. Since we’re all looking for happiness, it’s normal to associate happiness with particular people, places, events, foods, etc. This can sometimes be helpful. When we start to lose our way on the path to joy, they can be an anchor – something we can return to that reminds us of happier times, thus enabling us to re-experience that feeling of happiness. Sometimes however, these associations can be destructive. Perhaps the most common of these are sweet foods. People frequently get into a cycle where they eat to feel happy (comfort foods), but then they gain weight. When they see the weight gain, it causes a degree of sadness and disappointment. So where do they go for comfort? Sweet, fatty foods. Then they get into that downward spiral. I knew another guy who was a clean freak. He would spend so much time cleaning that he would often fall short on other important responsibilities. That would make him feel guilty. How did he deal with the feelings of guilt? Clean some more.

Situations where we frequently and easily return to things that make us feel happy can be destructive, or at least hold us back in life. However, there are often sources of happiness that are not easily attained, which can be just as destructive, if not more so. This is the “if only” syndrome. “If only I could lose weight, I’d feel more attractive, which would make me happier.” “If only I had more money, I would be really happy.” There are two varieties of “if only’s”. One is trying to return to a condition that you used to enjoy. This could be your childhood – a time when you felt safe and secure (if you were fortunate enough to have a wonderful childhood), when you had no debt, no marital issues, etc. It could be a great vacation you had but conditions won’t allow you to do it again at this time in your life. Perhaps it was a time when you were thinner, or had more money, or had a job you really loved, etc. In that situation, you can get stuck in the past. You’re not moving forward because you keep looking back.

The other “if only” is where you’re stuck wishing for a condition that you’ve never experienced. “If only I’d been born into a rich family.” “If only I was married to this other person.” “If only I’d been taller, or thinner, or smarter, or better looking, or more talented, or had the opportunity for better education, etc.” If only, if only, if only. Sometimes people keep wishing for a better condition, and then one day they finally accomplish their dream, only to find that they had their ladder leaning up against the wrong wall, as it were. I’ve known of some people who worked hard to become rich and famous, but then when they reached that point, they found that it did not provide the happiness that they thought it would. Some of these even resulted in suicide. That’s not to say that dreams don’t come true and that those dreams don’t turn out to be everything you hoped for and more. (I’m really not trying to pessimistic here.) Sometimes we can accomplish these “if only’s” and sometimes we can’t. I think that hopes and dreams can be great, as long we don’t lose touch with the opportunities of the present.

I work with a lot of people who get stuck in an “if only” situation. However, since I deal with so many people, I see many contradictions. I see people who are depressed and frustrated because they’re having a hard time losing weight. And yet, I see lots of thin people who are frustrated and depressed. I see people who are really struggling with financial problems. And yet, having money doesn’t prevent all problems. There are rich people who are miserable too, although having money does give you more and better choices. (I actually don’t see this too often. Most people who are successful have already overcome the if-only syndrome.)

Whether we’re linking our happiness to the past or the future, it’s a very risky and frustrating situation. Happiness is a choice. As I talk about in my Emotion Code class, no one can make you happy, sad, angry or anything else. Other people can provide input, but it’s your reaction to it that determines your emotion. There is very little joy except in the present. Even happy memories can hold us back if we get stuck longing for them. Feeling joy in the moment can help us to break free from the if-only syndrome. Tools such as the Emotion Code and ho’oponopono can assist us in that. Happiness (joy) comes from the inside. I believe that it is a gift from God.

As I work with people, I look for trapped emotions that are holding people back — physically, emotionally or in their life’s goals. We can often make a significant difference in their lives as we clear out this excess baggage (whether we do it in the office or remotely). We align the spine to help the nervous system, we balance chakras, and clear up other imbalances that interfere with the full expression of health and happiness.