Wednesday, 26 October 2016

Do It Yourself

No, this is not a blog about home improvements.  Just self improvements!

"If you want something done right, do it yourself!"

Has anyone ever said this to you?  Do you sometimes say it to yourself?  This is one of those half truths that can be so helpful at times, but so dangerous at other times.

It is probably often true that you will put more care and attention into doing properly something that will affect you, especially if you are the only or main person it affects.  The original phrase is a rather liberal translation of a line in a French play written in 1809 by Charles-Guillaume Étienne.  A closer translation of this line would be "One is never served so well as by oneself".

Where I feel this particularly applies is when you are planning what exactly you want to do with the rest of your life.  This is not something restricted to a young person deciding what he or she wants to do as a career, although it also applies there of course.  But notice I have said "with the rest of your life".  We all have a "rest" of our lives.  We don't know how long that "rest" is, but we all have it.  Maybe it is 50 years (and even though I am over 60 I could still have another 50 years remaining), maybe it is 1 year, maybe it is only 1 day.  For any of us, today could be the last day of our lives.  So plan it well!  But also there could be many years remaining - you could achieve a great deal in those remaining years, so plan that well too.  Make sure you HAVE a plan!  Plan your day, each and every day, to get the best you can out of it for you and your family.  Plan your coming year (perhaps broken down by quarter) to achieve one or more of your short term goals.  Approach it the other way around, too - do some work on finding out exactly what it is you want to achieve, and then fit this into an appropriate timescale, rather than only looking at a day, week, year etc and deciding what you can achieve within this.  At the risk of having one quote too many for a short article, remember (as Jim Rohn told us) that "If you don't design your own life plan, chances are you'll fall into someone else's plan. And guess what they have planned for you? Not much."

Don't fall into the trap, though, of believing that nobody wants you to be happier, be more successful, and that nobody can help you achieve what you want to achieve.  There are plenty of people who will not want to help, and may even wish to hinder you, and some of those people may be hiding in the group of people you call your "friends".  This group of "negative" people will grow as you begin to become happier and more successful.  But there are also many people who genuinely want you to be happier and want you to be more successful.  Time spent finding out which group the people around you fall into is time well spent.  Keep your distance from the "negatives" and try to spend more time with the "positives".  Learn to take advice and help from those positive people.  Never let pride stand in the way of getting help.  Draw on that help properly and it will be like supercharging your journey to your goals.  Spend time searching out those who can and will help you in this way.  Including those who do it as a profession - for example good coaches.  Gratefully receive any free help that is available, but also be prepared to spend good money getting really good professional help.  Paradoxically, this particularly applies to your efforts to create the right plans for yourself, despite what I have said in the last paragraph.  Yes, you need to take the steps yourself to create the plans, and not expect anybody to do it for you, but certainly be ready to accept all the help you can get in doing so.  This will create tremendous leverage in your efforts to achieve whatever it is you really want to achieve.

Finally, don't fall into the other trap of thinking that if you are better at doing something then only you should do it.  This particularly applies in business, but it also applies in your personal life.  Learn to delegate.  Accept that you may have done the job better than the person you delegated it to, but also recognize that the benefits of the way you were able to use the time you saved by delegating it more than compensated for this.  Also, we generally get better and better at tasks the more we do them.  So even though you may now be better at doing it than the person to whom you delegate, eventually they may well become far better at it than you ever were.  This can be a hard lesson to learn, but it is a very important one.

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Wednesday, 19 October 2016

Bucket Lists and Personal Evolution Strategy

Let me begin this article with a confession.  I don't have a bucket list and I am probably not going to make one.

I have always seen the concept of a bucket list as rather a fad that started with the film of the same name, which was released in 2007.  A film about two old men dying of cancer and trying to complete a list of things they want to do before they die.  I don't think it is necessary to have a bucket list just because everyone else seems to have one.

But I do agree it is a good idea to have a list of things I would like to do, places I would like to visit etc.  A list that isn't set in stone.  On the contrary, one that will constantly change as I grow.  Yes, at the time of writing I may be 63 but I am certainly still growing, mentally, emotionally and spiritually even though not physically, and I hope you are too.

I also agree it is a good idea to write it down, so it is a proper list, rather than just have a vague idea of what I would like to achieve some day.  If you practice the Law of Attraction you should be doing this anyway, to help bring those things closer, but if for some reason you are not a believer in the Law of Attraction you should still write those things down or you are bound to have some you simply forget - especially if you are close to my age or older!

The reason the word "bucket" is used here is because of the euphemism "kick the bucket", meaning "die", hence a list of things to do before you die.  When I thought deeper about this recently I looked up what are the commonest expressed regrets of those who are dying.  What do the dying say they most wish they had done.  Here is the list I found:

  • I wish I had lived a life true to myself, not to what was expected of me
  • I wish I hadn't worked so hard
  • I wish I had expressed my feelings more
  • I wish I had stayed in touch with my family and friends
  • I wish I had let myself be happier

Now THAT is a bucket list I can work with!  Not as the list itself, but as a starting point to produce a list.  As a list of areas to work on so I don't have any regrets when I die.  My Personal Evolution Strategy.

Take a look at each of these regrets in turn.  Make sure you do agree you would regret it if at the point of your death you had to say any of those things.  One good way to do this is to re-state each of the regrets as its opposite.

For example, "I wish I had done what was expected of me instead of living a life true to myself!"  Can you honestly say that?  I hope not!  If it feels absolutely wrong to you to say it, then you know "I wish I had lived a life true to myself, not to what was expected of me" would be a genuine regret.

Take 5 sheets of paper (or more if you have come up with some other broad concepts which don't fit into any of these 5) and, at the top of each sheet, write a positive statement reflecting the appropriate wish.  Make sure it is positive and written in the present tense so you are visualizing it as a reality, something which is a part of your essential being right now, not at some vague time in the future.  You have a birth certificate so you know the exact day you were born, but you don't yet have a death certificate, so you don't know the exact day you are going to die.  It could be tomorrow!  In fact, not wishing to be morbid, but with the number of people who regularly read my blog articles it is very likely it WILL be tomorrow for at least one or two!  So if you want to avoid having those regrets this needs to be a new "you" starting today, not next week or next year!

Here are my suggestions, although you may choose slightly different wordings:

  • I live a life true to myself
  • I take plenty of time off to spend with my loved ones doing the things we love
  • I always express my feelings fully
  • I spend lots of time with my family and friends
  • I always allow myself to be as happy as I can be

Now reflect on each of them and tease out exactly what they mean to you.  You will need to spend quite a long time teasing some of them out, as they can be very broad.  Also it may be very difficult at first even to understand what this particular heading really means.  What is "a life true to myself" for example?  The answer to that may take a few hours of reflection rather than just a few minutes.

I suggest you do each of these as a form of meditation at first, and then when your brief meditation has finished you can write copious notes.

Once you have done this, use those notes to identify particular things you wish to achieve so you fulfill much better what you have written in the heading.

Finally, on another 5 sheets of paper, write each heading again, and underneath write the specifics, again in a positive manner in the present tense.  Staple the pages together and you have your Personal Evolution Strategy.  Resolve to yourself that this is your strategy and start doing the specifics you have written.  In the space of just one day you will probably find you have made an enormous jump forward in your personal evolution.  Keep making these quantum leaps and there will be one fewer people in the world who will have real regrets when he or she dies!

By all means create a traditional "bucket list" if you wish.  Certainly have your growing and evolving list of things you wish to achieve, places you wish to visit etc.  But far more powerful than these is your Personal Evolution Strategy which is now the starting point for what you really wish to and can accomplish in this life.

Wednesday, 12 October 2016

Be the Change

“We but mirror the world. All the tendencies present in the outer world are to be found in the world of our body. If we could change ourselves, the tendencies in the world would also change. As a man changes his own nature, so does the attitude of the world change towards him. This is the divine mystery supreme. A wonderful thing it is and the source of our happiness. We need not wait to see what others do.”

This was written by Mahatma Gandhi in 1913, paraphrased on bumper stickers to "Be the change you wish to see in the world".

How true!  On so many levels!

The only thing you can change in human society directly is yourself.  You can encourage others to change, but you cannot change them; only they can do that.  But indirectly you most certainly can, and you do that by changing yourself.

Do you want world peace?  Guess what?  The way to begin creating world peace is to begin by making yourself peaceful.

But notice also the third sentence.  "As a man changes his own nature, so does the attitude of the world change towards him."  I believe this is one of the missing keys to Manifestation.

Thousands of people, perhaps even millions, have tried Manifestation, Affirmation, Creative Visualization, the Law of Attraction - it comes in many guises and with many different names, but the concept is the same.  They try it, but then give up because (they say) it doesn't work.  Are you one of those people?  I hope not!  It does work as long as you do it properly.

Does what you focus on materialize?  Perhaps.  But certainly not every time.  Not even most of the time.  The world would be completely chaotic if it did.  Just imagine it for one moment!  Think how many completely irreconcilable demands there would be on the universe!  There would be signs of the laws of physics being broken all the time.  After all, Jesus did tell his disciples "If ye have faith as a grain of mustard seed, ye shall say unto this mountain, Remove hence to yonder place; and it shall remove; and nothing shall be impossible unto you."

Perhaps you think this makes me a sceptic.  Why am I saying something that appears to go against what all Law of Attraction coaches teach?

Well, firstly, if you really take the Law of Attraction very seriously and study properly under a good coach you will find that is not what the best coaches teach.  What has happened is that people have extracted "sound bites" from the pure teachings and then pass these little extracts on as though they are the entire story.  Is Christianity a religion that teaches its followers to uproot mountains?  Not a bit of it!  But if the only verse in the Bible you have read is Matthew 17:20 then you could be forgiven for thinking it was.

Secondly, and the best coaches will certainly teach you this, good practice of the Law of Attraction begins with you changing your own nature.  Change what you are to reflect what it is you want to achieve and the Universe will recognize that and will begin to reward you by returning to you the things that fit with that new nature.

Have you ever noticed that lottery winners tend to lose most of their money within a few years of receiving it, or even faster?  Also, have you ever noticed that people who have created a fortune themselves can lose it all but quite quickly get it all back again?  Here are just a few examples of the latter:

  • Walt Disney's first film company went bust in 1922.  I don't think I need remind you that this was not the end of the Walt Disney empire!  Why?  Because he was Walt Disney!  It is who he was!

  • Larry King filed for bankruptcy in 1978.  In 2015 he was estimated to be worth around $150 million.  Why?  Because he is Larry King!  It is who he is!

  • Francis Ford Coppola filed for bankruptcy twice.  The latest information I could find on his net worth is $100 million.  Why?  Because he is Francis Ford Coppola!  It is who he is!

  • Kim Basinger had $5.4 million in 1993.  She was sued for $8.1 million and went bankrupt.  In 2014 she was worth $36 million.  Why?  Because she is Kim Basinger!  It is who she is!

You are probably saying "I am not Walt Disney, Larry King, Francis Ford Coppola or Kim Bassinger".  But that is the point!  Each of these people have (or had) something within them that made them who they are.  Take away their wealth and it just comes back, because of who they are.  Believe it or not, you can and should also change your internal nature so that the Universe begins to provide you with what it is you really want.

This is only the first step.  Once you have taken it you must also do those things in the "sound bites" you have probably already read in articles on Manifesting and the Law of Attraction.  But take that step first.  Be the change you wish to see!

Wednesday, 5 October 2016

How to Eliminate Fear and Anxiety

Do you ever worry about something?  Do you suffer from anxiety?  Are you ever fearful?  Would you like to eliminate fear, worry and anxiety altogether?

Before we go any further, let me clarify one important point about fear.  The reason nature has given us an emotion we call "fear" is to try to stop us from getting into dangerous situations when we do not need to.  This is a good thing.  You should not try to eliminate that fear, but rather respect it.  React to the fear by doing whatever you can to remove yourself from a dangerous or catastrophic situation.  Once you have done that and know there is nothing else you should or can do, then use the techniques in this article to eliminate the fear.

Deciding whether or not you can do anything about a situation is a very important first step, perhaps the most important step of all.  If there is something you can do which may stop something bad happening, then do it!  Don't sit there worrying about what might happen if there is something you can do to stop it!  This might seem obvious, but for some reason most people never take this first step, but instead feel like a rabbit frozen in the headlights of a car about to run it over.  The rabbit could simply run away and avoid the terrible fate awaiting it, but it doesn't as it is paralyzed by the very fear nature intended to save it from that fate.  Do not become that rabbit!

Once you have thought through the actions you could take, and have taken the appropriate ones, now is the time to eliminate the fear or worry as now it is serving no useful purpose.

One method I always use at this point is to imagine whatever it is I fear or whatever is worrying me has happened.  Imagine the worst case scenario.  Now think about whatever you can do to make the best of a bad situation.  Once you have done those things, just how bad is it?  How does it compare with, for example, the suffering of people trapped in Aleppo?  Is it as bad as that?  I think not!  Accept this bad result and move on.  Don't spend too long on this, as you don't want inadvertently to invoke the law of attraction and find you have created the bad situation for yourself.  Now that you recognize there will be things you can do at the time to reduce the hurt of whatever this bad situation may be, put it behind you.  Remember you have done everything you can to stop it happening in the first place, and you have recognized it is not exactly the end of the world if it does happen, and therefore the fear and worry serves no purpose any longer.  It can be a good idea to verbalize this.  Thank the worry for having alerted you, tell it you have addressed the problem (either by changing things so it doesn't happen, by accepting the results if it does, or both), and then tell it now it has done its job it can go away.

You may think talking to a worry in this way is childish and silly, but it is not - it is actually a very effective way of disarming it.

Recognize that what you have done here is simply accept the worst case scenario should it ever occur.  Unless you have worked pretty hard to create a bad situation for yourself it is probably never going to materialize.  In 1816 Thomas Jefferson wrote the following to John Adams:

"How much pain have cost us the evils which have never happened!"

Sometimes we worry about something because it seems too big for us to deal with, and yet we also feel it is something we SHOULD be dealing with.  The answer to this is to treat it in the same way as you would treat the task of eating an elephant (sorry to all of my vegetarian friends!) - break it down into bite sized pieces and then deal with each piece one at a time.  The big puzzle may seem too big for you to solve, but there are usually small pieces you can chip away and solve, eventually making that big problem very much smaller.  While you are dealing with one piece, again address the big worry.  Again thank it for showing your there is a problem which needs to be solved and tell it that you are dealing with it piece by piece.  Ask it to go away while you are solving each piece so that it does not stop the very process it wanted you to start.

You may find just the techniques I have given you above are enough to deal with all your fears, worries and anxieties.  But there are many people for whom this is simply not enough.  They find they are still worrying about things.  Often those worries and anxieties are "nameless".  They don't know what they are worrying about.  Worrying and being anxious has become such a habit that they simply cannot stop.  If you find you are one of these habitual worriers, then read on for what you can do once you have used the principal attacks on your worries.

Schedule some time each day to practise meditation, mindfulness exercises or yoga.  Ideally you should do this when you first wake in the morning and again just before you go to sleep at night.  I am not going to go through any meditation or yoga techniques in this article as that would probably turn it into a book!  Take a look and you will find plenty of material around - including in other articles in this blog.  Perhaps even invest in some books on the subject, subscribe to a course, join a local group.  Do anything - just as long as you take some action!  What you will find is that these techniques will help you relax and your nameless anxieties will gradually melt away.

Even regular physical exercise can help.  Having a hard work-out can make those worries, the ones not related to anything you can deal with, simply melt away.

Finally, do not underestimate the importance of staying socially engaged.  The support good friends can give you should not be underestimated.  Sometimes they can help you directly with the things that are worrying you if you take the trouble to ask for their help or advice.  Even when this is not the case you will find simply enjoying good company will lower your anxiety levels for no apparent reason at all.