Fear or Love; Your Choice!

Immutable Laws of Living Series

You can live in fear and threat or love and appreciation.  Your choice.Have you ever wondered whether your brain controlled your mind or your mind controlled your brain?  Here is the answer:

YES.

Your brain certainly affects your thinking. But your thinking affects your brain. . . and you can CHOOSE where your thoughts dwell.

Brain chemistry is much more complicated.  And we know very little about how that chemistry works, anyway.

What we DO know about the brain is there are three layers.  The most primitive and deepest part of your brain scans the environment for threats — locking you into a fight/flight mode when it is activated.  The next layer is all about emotions.  And the top layer is about thoughts and reason.  We like that part.  But we often forget about the other layers.  Those other layers can keep us stuck, though.

Let’s talk about your brain and your mind.  Let’s discuss how to shift to Love/Appreciation — or you default to Fear/Threat.

Where do you want to spend your time?

(If you missed the earlier parts of the Immutable Laws Of Living Series, the links are below.)
Immutable Laws Of Living Series:
Life Isn’t Fair
Life Has Challenges
Life Isn’t About Happiness
A Thought Is A Thought
Every Perspective Is Limited
Change Is Inevitable
People Do The Best They Can
We ALL Have Fears
Life is YOUR Responsibility
“What Is” IS What Is
Control What You Can (Release The Rest)
Forgive To Live
Life Is The NOW
How Do You Spend Your Time?

Anchored or Stuck? “Anchors Aweigh!”

Part of the Getting Unstuck Series

Are you anchored or are you stuck?Are you anchored, waiting for the next opportunity to sail?  Or are you stuck?

Sometimes, we have to set anchor for a bit, let the tide change, wait for a storm to pass, or wait for a new day.

Sometimes, we set the anchor so well that we end up stuck.

Time to weigh anchor and depart.  Time to seek the next port.

Let me suggest three A’s to help you weigh anchor and get sailing:

A- Acceptance

A- Awe

A- Appreciation

No need to stay stuck.  Grab the tools you need and anchors aweigh!

What Thriving People Know About Gratitude And Appreciation

What Thrivers Know About Gratitude And AppreciationSome people seem to just know how to thrive.  For the rest of us, we need to learn the skills of thriving.

Today, we discuss one skill easily learned, with incredible impact.  And it is one I work to incorporate into my life.

Thrivers practice gratitude and appreciation.

Gratitude is the attitude and mindset of noticing what is right, what is enough, and what is in abundance in our lives.  You see, our brains naturally look at the world through scarcity — “I don’t have enough.”  But there is another mode, one that switches the brain to love — Gratitude!

When we focus upon and look for the pieces of life for which to be grateful, our brain begins to switch modes.  It re-wires to look for more evidence of abundance.  And when we show appreciation, we carve out stronger bonds with those around us.

Practicing gratitude leaves you more satisfied and happy, healthier, better connected, less depressed, and less anxious.

And you can practice gratitude in just a few minutes each day!

Learn how in this week’s podcast.

Rule 8: Ask “What’s The BEST That Can Happen?”

In the last rule, I proposed that the question “what’s the worst that could happen?” can be a useful “reality check” when fear grabs and limits you.  This rule goes from the opposite end.

My wife brought this question to my attention, and even if I tease her (when my son said he was nervous about a basketball game, my wife asked this question, “what’s the best that could happen?”, I suggested that my 12 year old son could be spotted by an NBA scout and called up!), she is right.

Too often, we get caught in the fear and dread.  And while asking “what’s the worst that can happen?” helps us stay in reality, it can also keep us on the down side of a situation.

What about the upside, the opportunity?  The question “what’s the best that can happen?” brings the upside into perspective.  It provides an openness to possibility.bungy-jump

For example, you are thinking of that bungee jump.  Your fear grips you, and you find yourself unable to step up to the edge and take a leap.  So, you ask, “what’s the worst that could happen?”  The outfitters have only stellar reviews, the cord is in good shape, the harness is secure.  Given the safety record, it is safe to say the worst would be a little soreness tomorrow from the swing.

Still, you find yourself rooted in place, unable to command your feet to move.  Now ask “what’s the best that could happen?”  And you find you might just prove to yourself that you can tackle your fear of heights.  You can get a huge adrenaline rush.  You get a t-shirt.  You get to jump off a bridge with no injury!  Now, we are into possibilities.

In the previous rule, we talked about speaking in public, given how high this fear ranks.  So, let’s take a look at that one.  You have already established the worst that could happen, and you know you will not die giving the talk.

Now, what is the best that could happen?  Perhaps you could make a difference for the organization?  Maybe someone will see you give the talk, be impressed by your willingness, and give you even more opportunities.  Or at a minimum, the best would be you face your fear, do the talk, and walk away more confident.

So use this question to balance the fear.  It helps us to both test our reality (risk assessment in Rule 7), and think about opportunity.

The Rules: A Starting Point

OK, so let’s set some parameters for these 99 rules of thriving.  You see, these rules are not pulled out of thin air.  They come from my frame for what I understand are the elements of a thriving life.

As I have studied this, four areas of concern emerge in the pursuit of a thriving life.  Each area is important, but it is the presence of all four that really put the whole thriving life into motion.  Here are the four areas:

thriving life graphic

thriving life graphic

So here is a brief overview, and we will begin to enlarge as we move through the rules:

Thoughts and Mind: This broad category basically means that a thriving person understands the role that thoughts play in creating our reality, weaving our paradigm.  In fact, I maintain that the majority of people misuse a major resource in life:  their mind.

I believe that we have come to have very poor mind hygeine.  We let our thoughts rule us, not us ruling our thoughts.  We fail to notice that we are just thinking, and instead believe that our thoughts are reality.

Let’s face it:  our mind was designed to think, to create thoughts.  But it is up to us to decide on whether this will be a productive or destructive process.

Letting Go and Moving On: Our capacity to let go of something that is on our mind, has happened to us, or has not happened to us, is in direct ratio to our capacity to thrive.  I would use the term “forgiveness,” but there is a great deal of extra baggage attached to that term.  So I will say that forgiveness is a subcategory of this.

And in order to thrive, we must be able to take the next step past letting go of something; we must move on.  People who thrive have discovered how to keep moving forward, regardless of the circumstances around them.

Gratitude and Appreciation: A hallmark of thrivers is the ability to experience gratitude.  No, let me change that:  to choose gratitude.  Not only do they live in gratitude, they live in appreciation, the application of seeking out gratitude.

This is a choice in the stories we tell.  Am I upset that I don’t have a big bank account, or am I grateful I have been able to pay what is necessary to keep going, for instance.  This is partly about optimism, but is slightly different.  Optimism is about how things will be in the future.  Gratitude is choosing to be grateful for what already is.

Gratitude and appreciation helps to shift us out of the scarcity “what I don’t have” model to abundance.  This keeps us from feeling desperate, which then leads to creative responses.

Meaning and Purpose: This is the final element of my model.  It is the most important, and yet the most difficult to master.  It is not the question “what is the meaning of life?”  Instead it is the question of “what is meaningful to me?”  Having a sense of meaning keeps us moving ahead, regardless of what is going on around us.  Purpose is the way we live out that meaning.

When we have discovered our sense of meaning and how we find it, our purpose, then life becomes a joy to live.  Too often, we pursue happiness, forgetting that this grows out of a meaningful life, lived with purpose.