Posts Tagged ‘emotions’

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.

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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.


Thinking Like A Winner

April 5, 2014

Mental PowerSuccess, in any area of your life, is 90% mental/emotional and 10% physical action. That’s my experience at least. In a football game, I think that the pep talk beforehand can be as important as the practices and scrimmages. The game must first be won in the head before it can be won on the field. Can you imagine a boxer being interviewed before a big bout saying, “I really think I’m going to get creamed but by golly, I’m going to go in and do my best”? I had a young rugby player in my office the other day who was saying that they were going up against a team that they had no real chance of beating. I told him that if he thought that way, they’ve already lost the game. I loved to watch the skiers in the winter Olympics before making their run. You’d see them going through the course perfectly in their head. They weren’t thinking about falling or missing turns. They were seeing themselves doing the best run of their life. In this instance, I’m referring to the champions. Those who gave into fear and doubt didn’t do so well.

It’s much easier to see these examples in the sports world. But most of us aren’t professional athletes. Our games are much more subtle and complex. The principles can be applied in a very similar manner however. Occasionally, we’re surprised by outcomes. We lose when we think we’re going to win, or we just happen to win when we were sure we would lose. For the most part though, things turn out pretty close to what we expect. If we don’t win the game first in our own mind, then it’s far less likely that we’ll win in real life.

How do you get to that point? Maybe you’re good at visualizing successful outcomes. However, if you’re like many people who have experienced plenty of failure, especially in a certain area of your life that you’re trying to turn around (finances, relationships, health, etc.), clearly picturing yourself winning where you have previously failed can be extremely difficult. In many cases, it’s very difficult to do it without help. There are a number of techniques that professionals use to help you change your mindset, such as EFT (tapping), Emotion Code, RPT (reference point therapy), EVOX, hypnosis, etc.

There are also coaches that can help you. In my profession as a chiropractor, I’ve worked with a number of practice management consultants. The problem is that with some people who are really successful in their profession, they don’t really have a clear understanding of how they got there. It may have come very naturally to them and so they never had to consciously work to achieve success. I don’t mean that they didn’t work hard to get where they are. Most of them did. But then they get the idea that if they can teach others to walk like them, talk like them, and act like them, other people should have no trouble achieving the same level of success that they did. The problem with that is that, as I pointed out earlier, success is 90% mental/emotional. So even if you are able to learn to walk and talk and act like the people you admire, chances are you will not achieve the type of success that they have until you learn to THINK like they do. Generally speaking, you don’t get to where you can think like a winner by winning. Instead it’s the other way around. You become a winner because you learn to think like a winner. There are many self-help books out there that can help you with this. I especially like the ones by Leslie Householder. It’s also very helpful to rid yourself of some of your old emotional baggage by using one or more of the techniques mentioned in the last paragraph.

Put yourself in a vibration to receive success (the good things that you want to attain or achieve in your life that will help to bring you joy). Focus on your goals, not on your trials. Remove as many roadblocks as possible. Learn from those who have attained success, especially those who struggled to get to that point. Apply these principles to every area of your life, including your physical, mental and emotional health. Live your life with joy.

It’s All In Your Head!

March 28, 2014

ImageHave you ever been told, “it’s all in your mind”, when you’ve had a symptom or health concern? Many people have, even by their own doctors. How did it make you feel? Did you feel invalidated? Did you take their word for it and simply dismiss it (trying to ignore it) or did you keep looking for the cause of your problem? What does it even mean?

I’ve always had a keen interest in psychology, but when it came time to finalize my career plans, I steered more toward physical healthcare (chiropractic). In the last several years though, it seems like I’m coming more full circle – not abandoning chiropractic, but looking more at how the mind (especially the subconscious) affects the body. In some of my presentations that I do, I talk about the difference between hypochondria and psychosomatic disorders. I’ve heard some people use those terms almost interchangeably, but they’re actually very different.

A hypochondriac is one who thinks he’s sick, but he isn’t really. Generally we use that term to describe someone who is obsessed with their health and is always acting under the belief that they have some horrible malady. I believe that many of us are a bit hypochondriac at times. We read about the symptoms of some deadly disease and start to think that we’re about to kick the bucket any moment. Or we might be around people who are describing various symptoms and we start feeling them too.

Psychosomatic illness, on the other hand, is very real illness. This is where the problem starts in the mind, but then manifests in the body. “Psycho” refers to the mind. “Soma” refers to the body. So “psychosomatic” literally means mind to body. I believe that this is far more common than most people think. In fact, I would say that most, if not all, disease processes have some degree of psychosomatic component. Whether it’s stress or worry or just negativity, our bodies can become weakened and more vulnerable as a result of our thoughts. I’ve noticed that people who tend to focus on illness are more likely to attract illness, whereas people who focus on health stay much healthier.

Our mood, our current emotions, have a definite impact on the state of our health. But what about emotions that are buried in our subconscious that we may not be aware of? As an Emotion Code practitioner, I work a great deal with “trapped” emotions. These buried emotions carry negative energy that can manifest themselves in all sorts of ways in the body, from achiness to actual disease processes. We have been able to help many people with a variety of health problems by clearing trapped emotions (usually done in combination with chiropractic and other energy balancing).

So the next time someone says to you, “it’s all in your head”, you can say, “that may be, or at least where part of it began, but it doesn’t make the problem any less real.” If there are psychological problems that need to be addressed, especially if you only imagine a problem, see a qualified psychologist or psychiatrist. However, if you really do have an ache or a pain or even the beginnings of a disease process, consider the role of emotions in maintaining your health.

Perceptions of Reality

December 19, 2013

Flying NeoI really love the Matrix movies (PG-13 version). One of my favorite parts is the last part of the first movie. Neo, the main character, played by Keanu Reeves, gets shot and killed while in the “matrix”, which is a virtual reality (which pretty much everyone thinks IS reality). Earlier in the movie, he’s told that if you get killed in the matrix, you really die. Essentially, they explained that if the mind, which is buying into the reality of the matrix, “dies” or believes that you’ve been killed, your body will not survive. However, Neo manages to rise above the illusion of the matrix. He comes back to life and sees the matrix as it really is, which is just computer code. He was able to defeat the bad guys, which were nothing more than computer code also. Then at the very end, he flies through the sky like Superman, because he is able to use the matrix to his advantage. It’s not that he gained control of the matrix at this point, but that he stopped being a victim of it.

Movies like this can almost question your understanding of and grip on reality. Is reality simply a perception or is it a truth that is independent of what we believe about it? I believe the answer is yes, or in other words, both are true. Truth does exist. There is a “reality” that is independent of anyone’s beliefs. I believe that God created man, not vice versa. However, within the realm of truth, there is a universe of possibilities. Our thoughts, actions and emotions are very real energies, which impact the universe, especially as it applies to our own experience. Are you a victim of your reality? To a certain extent (to a large extent, according to some people), you created that reality. You then become a victim of yourself. I’m not saying that you have consciously chosen to have the life that you do (hopefully you did), but you certainly had an impact on it.

You’re probably familiar with the story of the blind men and the elephant. Several blind men encountered an elephant for the first time. Each one came into contact with a different part of the elephant. So each one described the elephant differently. Although their descriptions varied widely, each one was correct since it described a specific part of the elephant. Obviously the blind men didn’t create the elephant. Life/reality is like the elephant. It’s bigger than any one of us. Our perceptions of the universe can vary widely depending on our point of view. Let’s take the story of the elephant a step further. What if the blind men changed positions to feel a different part of the elephant? Of course, their understanding of the elephant would have changed significantly. If there was an emotional response to the initial understanding of the elephant, that reaction would have changed. If we approach life from a different angle, our perception of it will change. Thus our reality will change. To the extent that we control our reality, having a greater understanding empowers us further and helps us see new possibilities.

I’ve heard it said that no two people read the same book or watch the same movie. They see it from different perspectives. So the meaning will be different for each person. To a certain extent, life is what you see it as. The greatest secret to happiness that I’ve found is gratitude. There are always things in your life to be grateful for. It can always get worse. If you’re going through a really difficult time, I don’t mean to seem callous or uncaring. Find whatever is good in your life and express gratitude for it. Not only will your perception of reality shift, but your life will start to improve as well. You can also use the Emotion Code or other means to clear some of the emotional baggage of the past. Going forward though, look for and find the joy!