TAG | self improvement exercise
While replacing a family photo in one of the little plastic frames that stick on my refrigerator, I found the original item I had displayed in that frame many years ago. It was a yellowed newspaper clipping of the “Ten Secrets That Can Transform Your Life”. I love it when you find an opportunity to compare yourself now to who you were in the past, and to celebrate how far you have grown. As I read down the list, I was smiling broadly, and so pleased to know that all of these “secrets” are now how I am living my life. I’m not saying I live by them all the time and never slip up, but that they represent my core beliefs and the results of years of conscious spiritual study, practice, and growth. They show me the current depth of my inner peace. They connect me with my joy.
So, here is the list for your review. As you read each secret, be honest with yourself. How much have you embraced this belief? How is it showing up in your life? What ones can you celebrate? Where are the opportunities to transform your life even more? Where is the most important place to start?
- Everything you need to be happy is INSIDE of you.
- The purpose of life is for you to GROW into the best human being you can be.
- Change is inevitable, so stop resisting and SURRENDER to life’s flow.
- All obstacles are lessons in disguise – HONOR them and learn from them.
- Your mind creates your EXPERIENCE of reality, so make your mind your friend.
- Fear will steal your aliveness – make your COURAGE bigger than your fear.
- You must love YOURSELF before you can give or receive love from anyone else.
- All relationships are your mirrors and all people are your TEACHERS.
- True FREEDOM comes from how you respond to life and not what life does to you.
- Whatever the question, LOVE is the answer.
I hope this wonderful list has inspired you on your life path. Maybe you want to cut it out and hang in on your frig…
With so much joy and gratitude,
In my travels on the internet, I came across a copy of the famous Cherokee story about the two wolves. It’s always been a favorite of mine, and this version was particularly well told. You may have seen this before, but, please take a moment and read it again.
Two Wolves: A Cherokee Teaching
An elderly Cherokee Native American was teaching his grandchildren about life… He said to them, “A fight is going on inside me, it is a terrible fight and it is between two wolves. One wolf is evil — he is fear, anger, envy, sorrow, regret, greed, arrogance, self-pity, guilt, resentment, inferiority, lies, false pride, competition, superiority, and ego. The other is good—he is joy, peace, love, hope, sharing, serenity, humility, kindness, benevolence, friendship, empathy, generosity, truth, compassion and faith. This same fight is going on inside you, and inside every other person, too.”
They thought about it for a minute and then one child asked his grandfather, “Which wolf will win?”
The old Cherokee simply replied: “The one you feed”.
Now, think back on the last 24 hours and all your thoughts, feelings, activities, and interactions. How did your “evil wolf” show up? How much was fear running the show? What could you have done differently? Where did your “good wolf” come in? What was joyful about your day?
Once you are aware of your own two wolves, you can pay attention to which one you are feeding as you go about your day. You can notice when your energy feels expanded and when it feels constricted. You can distinguish between feeling powerful and feeling powerless. You can tell when your heart is open and when it is closed. You can make more conscious choices on who you want to be.
Continue to notice the fight between your wolves as you go through the next week. Be aware of the choices you make and the impact on your life. This seemingly simple life lesson may inspire profound change.
To your best self,
Recently, I was asked “How did you quit smoking?” In answering this question, I realized it was an important topic to share. The information below applies to many addictions in our lives; cigarettes, caffeine, food, sex, gambling, shopping.
I stopped smoking 13 year ago, after watching my parents, who were both heavy smokers, die from cancer (they had the same cancer at the same time, and died within 6 weeks of each other). When I was holding a cigarette up to my mother’s mouth because she could no longer hold it but still wanted to smoke, something clicked inside of me. This insane, deadly addiction is not going to own me like this! I just stopped cold turkey after that.
My recommendation to someone who wants to quit smoking, or another addiction, but doesn’t have a powerful, motivating image as I did, is to examine what smoking does for them. “What do I get out of smoking? What does the act of smoking give me? Aside from the physical addiction, what keeps me smoking?” Make a list of whatever comes to your mind without judgment or censoring. Review your list and note any themes and/or similar items.
Once you are clear on the “benefits” you get from smoking, you can determine which ones are important for you to keep and what new, healthy habits you could consider substituting. Start by sorting your original list. “What benefits from smoking serve me? What benefits no longer/don’t serve me?” For the ones that serve you, write down as many answers you can think of to the following question; “What could I do to get similar results that would be good for my body, mind and/or spirit?” As an example, if you decided a benefit that serves you is “taking a break and reflecting on what’s happening,” you could consider taking a break with a glass of water or a cup of herbal tea and spending a few moments in reflection. For the ones that don’t serve you, write down as many answers you can think of to the following question; “What could I do to let go of these and start a new habit that would be good for my body, mind and/or spirit?” An example of what doesn’t serve you might be “stuffing my feelings when I’m upset.” As an alternative, you could consider going for a walk to calm down, talking to someone about what you are feeling, or writing about your feelings in a journal.
From here it’s all about choice. How do you want to orchestrate your life going forward? What commitments do you want to make to yourself? What actions will you take? The Dalai Lama, in his book The Art of Happiness writes:
“One begins identifying those factors which lead to happiness and those factors which lead to suffering. Having done this, one then sets about gradually eliminating those factors which lead to suffering and cultivating those which lead to happiness. That is the way.”
Remember, we are co-creators of our lives with God, and together anything is possible…
Special thanks to Joya for asking the question and inspiring this week’s newsletter! As always, I’m here to support you in your journey, and would enjoy knowing how you’re doing and any feedback you may have (email@example.com).
With Love and Gratitude,