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Saturday, July 30, 2011

A Welcome Moment of Quiet Reflection

Wang Wei Reaches Through the Ages
Wang Wei, an 8th century Chinese poet and devote Buddhist is best known for his poems like this one-- four simple lines of verse depicting quiet scenes of water and mist, and little human presence. Referred to as 'the Poet Buddha', his poems were said to 'hold a painting in them'. 

A Welcome Moment of Quiet Reflection

I offer you this restful Wang Wei poem to contemplate before you start your week. Take a moment to quietly relax, reflect and retreat.

Thursday, July 28, 2011

Celebrate Your Successes with Child-like Enthusiasm

Upside Down and Backwards makes me feel Clever as Clever!

Look closely at the image above. What do you see? That's right-- upside down and backwards words! And that's why I'm feeling childishly clever as clever! I figured out how to create an envelope template so the words on the back of the envelope would be upright. It's downright inspiring!

Adults--Kids in Big Bodies

At our adult core, we're just kids in big bodies. Behind our eyes lies our innocent emotionally-tender selves. When we're hurt by others, we can return to feeling like the adolescent on the playground, and when we successfully overcome obstacles we can experience child-like joy and self-satisfaction.

I admit it--I am spatially inept--and also easily amused with myself when I figure out how to make something work spatially.

Multiple Intelligences--We can be Good at Some Things and not so Good at Others

Thirty years ago, Howard Gardner, a Professor at Harvard University introduced the theory of multiple intelligences that included different brain centers for linguistic, musical, logical-mathematical, bodily-kinesthetic, intra-personal, inter-personal, and visual-spatial intelligence.

My weakest intelligence is the visual-spatial. I still have difficulty with laterality--knowing my right from my left. So try as I might, I just can't visualize in my head how things relate in space.

But I've learned a little trick. If I stop trying to figure it out consciously, and simply trust there's a simple way to do it, I'll see it and figure it out. Ultimately this leaves me feeling very smart indeed--returning me to that inner child to revel in my serendipitous success with unself-conscious, child-like joy.

Our Weaknesses Are Our Strengths--Got to Love Them!

I learned long ago my weaknesses are my greatest assets. The very things I struggle with are the same things that make me a good teacher, facilitator, writer, and artist--as well as a good mother, spouse and friend. I know if I struggle with something, other people do too. And if I can figure out how to deal with my weakness, I can turn around and help someone else who is struggling.

What are your weaknesses? What is difficult for you to do or accomplish? Don't hide your less-than-perfect abilities or characteristics. Look outside yourself to see how many other people could benefit from you turning your weakness into a strength, and sharing your success.

Overcoming weaknesses is exhilarating! Allow yourself to bask in your own child-like joy and self-satisfaction when you figure out how to do the thing that is difficult for you to do. Then share your self-satisfaction with others and let them see that smile on your face. A life of mastering obstacles is a life of unbridled joy.

Celebrate Your Successes from Six to Sixty

It was Christopher Robin in A.A. Milne's poem, 'Now We Are Six' who celebrates his cleverness at six who exclaims, "I'm as clever as clever."

Re-ignite your child-like enthusiasm and belief in your abilities-- no matter your age.  Stop to celebrate your successes with unbridled joy and acknowledge you are clever as clever as often as possible.

With many thanks to A.A. Milne for his clever as clever poem, I offer a life-extension to his  age of cleverness, and  encourage you to celebrate your cleverness at each and every age. Stop and celebrate how clever you are throughout your lifetime.

Now We Are Sixty

When I was ten,
I had just begun.
When I was twenty-two,
I was nearly new.
When I was thirty-three,
I was hardly me.
When I was forty-four,
I was not much more.
When I was fifty-five,
I was just alive.
But now I am almost sixty,
I'm as clever as clever.
I think I'll stay sixty
for ever and ever.

....With thanks to A.A. Milne for letting us be clever as clever from six to sixty.

Sunday, July 24, 2011

Simple Ways to Be Happy by Connecting with Others

I've learned that people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.
Maya Angelou

"How's your new boss?" I asked a friend I hadn't seen in a while.
Her eye-roll and long pause said it all.
"Not so good. It's been 65 days--and counting since he even looked at me and said hello. I mark the event on my calendar when he does."

Another woman, learning a new job in customer service says one of her new co-workers has refused to talk to her for the four months she has been working with her.
"Every morning for the last four months I walk in and say good morning to her, but she simply ignores me."
How can this be?

Hello~Bonjour~ Hola~ Ciao

Greeting another when your paths cross is such a simple social grace. It takes no time to look another in the eyes and offer a simple greeting-- and it can add so much to your own feelings of being connected with others.
"Good morning!"
"Have a nice day."
"Nice chatting."
"Good to meet you."
"Love you."
"Be well."
"Peace be with you."
When was the last time you paused to greet family, co-workers or strangers? That old sarcastic reply, 'I'm still here aren't I' to a spouse's question 'do you love me?' certainly does nothing to leave the spouse feeling connected and appreciated. Likewise, when you fail to acknowledge and greet people in your presence--whether co-worker or stranger--you leave them feeling invisible, unwelcome and disliked. And ultimately you are the one who ends up disconnected and isolated.

The Art of Making People Feel Welcome

No matter what the situation, we all want to feel others are happy to be in our presence--including you. From the first day of work to the last, we want to feel welcome and included in the workplace. When we join online  discussions or in-person social groups we want to feel welcome and a part of the group.

When we feel welcome and appreciated, we do our best work, bring our best discussions and enjoy connecting with the people around us.

The art of making people feel welcome is simple: in all situations convey the four messages all people want to hear:

The Four Messages All People Want to Hear

I'm glad I'm here.

I'm glad you're here.

I care about you.

I know that I know.
You don't have to actually say those words--you need to convey the message through your actions. The simple social nicety of greeting people is a great first step. When you convey these four messages to the people you interact with in each meeting you will find you connect with people--and your own happiness factor will rise.

Check it out: Are You Connecting?

How do you make the people around you feel?

Do you practice the art of making others feel welcome and connected? Or are you so concerned about making an impression, getting your work done or finding the next opportunity you can't be bothered with how you make others feel?

Are you feeling dis-connected and set apart from the people around you?

How high is your 'Hello Factor'?

Run a 24 hour experiment: Consciously greet and acknowledge each and every person who crosses your path for 24 hours. As you increase your 'Hello Factor' does your 'Happiness Factor' increase?

Thursday, July 21, 2011

What Do You Do With Hurt and Bitterness? Let It Go

What Hurts Are You Carrying Around?

  • Who or what has hurt you recently?
  • What do you feel bitter about?
  • Where in your heart of hearts do you feel life has done you wrong?

Sometimes Life Lets You Down

Ah, Life. Sometimes it lets you down. That job you wanted that slipped through your fingers; that love interest who did you wrong; that organization that treated you poorly; that economy that failed you financially; or just that summer that provided you with too little sun.

Sometimes your life can leave you feeling betrayed and bitter. That's okay--acknowledge and name what you're feeling--and sit in your sorrow for a while. But when you're ready to brush yourself off and get back on top of the world, let it go.

You're Made of Strong Stuff

Face it--you're made of strong stuff and you want to enjoy a life fully engaged. You have what it takes to move through whatever challenge life presents you--and you're worthy of enjoying a rich, meaningful life.

Think about it--how is that hurt and bitterness you're harboring inside getting in the way of you engaging in or enjoying your life? What good things could you see in your life if you let these soul-killing feelings go?

  • Have you failed to apply for a job because you're bitter about the last job interview?
  • Did you fail to ask that new person out because the last one hurt you?
  • Have you isolated yourself because you are hurt or bitter about how someone treated you? Have you refused invitations to get together with friends because you're home licking your wounds?
  • Is that bitterness about making less than you deserve getting in the way of you appreciating the good things in the job or zapping your energy to look for a better paying job?

    When you consciously cleanse hard feelings out of your soul you make room for more uplifting and positive experiences and people to come into your life. You can see current opportunities in your life when you stop wasting your energy on maintaining the hurt and bitterness. So don't stuff your feelings; cleanse them.

    Do You Care Enough About Yourself to Let it Go?

    The question is, do you care enough about yourself to let it go? If yes, make today the day you affirm 'my soul is cleansed of hurt and bitterness'--and take a step toward doing something affirming that fills you with feelings of self-worth, fulfillment, and connection to life and others. You are worth it. Do it now.

Sunday, July 17, 2011

The Key to an Empowered Life--A Still Mind

To a mind that is still, the whole universe surrenders. Lao Tzu, 6th century BC

Have you ever noticed you are always listening or looking for something to capture the essence of your experience and how you feel about it?

I recently received a gift of thought from David Impey from Bristol, UK. I don't know David, but I like him already. Why? Because he shared this quote from Lao Tzu in an online discussion group that spoke to my heart:

"To a mind that is still, the whole universe surrenders."

The Ultimate Key to Living an Empowered Life

Take a moment to let this thought seep into your soul--to a mind that is still, the whole universe surrenders. Consciously accepting and practicing 'a stilling of the mind' is the ultimate key to living an empowered life. Why? --Because it gives you choices.

Who wouldn't want the whole universe to surrender to them? But think about how we usually go about accomplishing it--through force, not gentleness.

Instead of quieting ourselves to allow the universe to open up for us, we work hard to conquer the universe through forceful action--laying a plan, working a plan, and engaging in frenetic goal-oriented activity. We hurry to busy ourselves in the next activity, often with the results of 'straightening the chairs on the Titanic of our life'.

I don't know about you, but I regularly need to remind myself to slow down and quiet my mind. When I still my mind the universe does open up for me---I see options I couldn't through the hyperactivity and pushing, and I take better, more deliberate steps toward a fulfilling life.

Nature Does Not Hurry, Yet Everything is Accomplished 

'Nature does not hurry, yet everything is accomplished' is yet another piece of wisdom from Lao Tzu that goes so well with the other. Grass does not try to grow. Water does not try to flow. Flowers do not try to bloom. They just do. There is no hurry in plant time, just the simple flow of life in the right time.

So pull back, quiet your mind, and allow the simple flow of your life to happen in the right time. Children grow up. People find mates. People find fulfilling jobs. Roads and bridges get built. Communities heal. Hurts heal.

Stop hurrying to straighten those chairs in your life. They'll still be available to straighten later if you really must. But chances are, going forward with a stilled mind, you won't see them. With a cleared mind and an open heart your life will be cleared for things of importance--and the universe will unveil all its secrets to you in the right time.

This post is dedicated to David Impey, Bristol, UK, for bringing me the universe with this timeless wisdom.

Thursday, July 14, 2011

How to Step into Your Life--Play Your Own Interactive Life Game of Twenty Questions

'It is better to know some of the questions than all of the answers' James Thurber

Do you know some of the questions to ask yourself?

What direction is your life taking at the moment? Is it where you want to go?

What are your burning life questions?

If you were to do something surprising with your life, what would it be?

What is the most interesting question someone has asked you about your life?

What is the most important thing you could do with your life? How can you be of greatest service to others?

What's stopping you from taking a step--any step?

Putting Your Cards on the Table

Face it--sometimes you don't know what you want--you just know where you are isn't it. Or you know where you want to go but you don't know how to get there. Feeling blue and unmotivated you fail to take a step because you're uncertain what step to take. If you let yourself stay in these paralyzing thoughts, you can really spiral down into isolation and inactivity.

Time to Put Your Game Face On--and Get Back in the Game

What IS stopping you from taking a step? Fear? Shame? Insecurity? Lack of confidence? Feeling overwhelmed?

No matter what the reason--or even if you don't know the reason--it's time to reach out to a trusted friend or two and engage in a game of twenty questions--in which you listen to and respond to the questions they ask you about your life.

To get back in the game: Begin by suspending judgment on your life and self. Contact one person to get together for conversation away from your usual environment--go for a walk and talk, or for coffee somewhere new. Just the act of getting out of your usual environment will help you experience a new perspective on life and energize your thinking.

Living Life as a Game of Twenty Questions

Lately I've been experiencing my own life as a game of twenty questions-- in which other people ask me questions forcing me to choose a path. If you are open to being influenced by others--as I am-- this is a very interesting and useful way to live life--as long as you choose positive people to influence your life.

Because we see ourselves for who we aren't and other people see us for who we are, our trusted friends and family are in a unique position of being able to see where our talents and positive characteristics lie. They often zero in on the exact thing we need to step around or step into with both feet.

The key is to get yourself out of your own head--and to consciously engage in your conversations as if you were playing a game of twenty questions--only in this game you start with a 'blank screen' and see where you end up.

Starting the Game of Twenty Questions with a Blank Screen

This is a very interesting and enlightening way to play the game of twenty questions: Start with a 'blank screen'--do not have a person in mind when you begin the game. Notice, as the other person asks you questions--Is this person young or old? Male or female? Dead or alive?--where you started without a vision of this person you very shortly begin to form a picture in your mind. Test this out by clicking on the link to play 20 questions below.

Click on this link and begin to play without thinking about someone famous.

Notice as you answer the questions you are lead down a path and eventually have a picture of someone in your head.

Play Your Own Interactive Life Game of Twenty Questions

You can continue your own real life game of twenty questions by stepping into your life to ask a question and learn the answer. Apply for one job to find out 'am I interested in this job?' Ask one person on a date to determine 'am I interested in dating or in this person?' Attend one retirement seminar to determine 'am I ready and able to retire?'  Get out of the house and go for one walk to discover 'do I feel better when I'm active or taking action--no matter how small?'

Want to Help Me Play Twenty Questions?

I would love to have you influence my thinking. Click on the word comments below. If you are confused how to comment as yourself, leave an anonymous comment. You can also e-mail me or leave a comment on facebook.

What questions would you have me ask myself?
What is the focus of Lightarted Living?
Is Lightarted Living going in the right direction?
How would you describe the audience for Lightarted Living?

Thanks for playing!

Monday, July 11, 2011

Practice Mindfulness--May There be Peace Within You

Are You Listening?

How many times have you been sent this simple message from an angel in your life--someone who takes the time to wish you well? What did you do with the message? Delete it? Read it impatiently so you could hurry on with your day?

It doesn't matter what your spiritual leanings are. It isn't about whether you believe in Saints, religion or angels. It is about someone thinking about YOU and wishing you well. This simple blessing is worth a moment of contemplation each and every time you receive it.

Practice Mindfulness

I receive this blessing at least every other month. When it arrives I stop and do something with it to let the message seep in. I read it as if I have never seen it before--and I read it as if the person who sent it really cares. Discover the meaning in the words for your life today by asking questions.

Where in my life am I feeling anxious, cluttered, or hurried? Let it go.

Where is it I'm trying to get to in my life that isn't here? Relax--I am exactly where I am meant to be.

Where have I closed myself in? Remember the vast possibilities available to me.

What are my gifts? Am I giving them to the world fully today? Who do I need to pass the love onto today? Who needs to know they are loved?

Where in my life do I lack a feeling of contentment? Let it go. Rest in the knowledge I am a child of God and all is well in my world.

How can I let this seep into my bones? Today I will fully give of myself and contribute enthusiastically to the world around me.

We all need to be mindful of the blessings and well-wishing that surrounds our day. May there be peace within you.

Today's post is dedicated to my cousin, Cynthia Kendall for being one of my angels. Who are yours?

Friday, July 1, 2011

The Non-Perfectionist's Motto--If You're Going to do Something Wrong, at Least Enjoy it!

"We don't see things as they are, we see things as we are." Anais Nin

Celebrate Your Imperfections

Tired of feeling guilty for your imperfections? Give it up! Celebrate and enjoy your imperfections--they show you're human.

Why waste your time striving for perfection? You'll end up spending 90% of your time on perfecting the last 10%. In the end-- if you are a perfectionist---you still won't be happy with your final product. Learn to apply 'good enough'--and find a way to enjoy your imperfections.

An Oriental Rug's Value is in its Imperfections

Ask any oriental rug dealer and you'll learn--the rug's value is found in its imperfections. Machine made rugs are perfect; but handmade rugs have imperfections. Oriental rug collectors look for those imperfections to prove the value of the rug.

Why not think of yourself as a 'rug in progress'? You're not a cookie-cutter human  who is stamped out to look and be perfect. Learn to value your imperfections. And remember-- if you're going to do something wrong--at least enjoy it!