Clean and Dirty Pain

Which one are you feeling?

CleanDirtyPainAnyone who tells you that you can go through life without getting hurt and feeling pain is either lying or hiding.

Life is rough-and-tumble.  Pain is unavoidable.

But there is a type of pain that we can leave behind.  That is more a result of our own thinking than anything external, any injury either physical or emotional.

Call it “Dirty Pain.”  Which is distinguished from “Clean Pain.”  Clean pain, that is the initial hurt.  When you hit your foot, it hurts.  That is the bodily response to the injury.  When someone says something to you that is mean and spiteful, your feelings are hurt.  That is the emotional pain.  It is initial.

But what if you chastise yourself about your being “clutsy,” or about your “stupid action” that led to that foot injury?  Or what if you made that hurtful comment about you, and not about the person who said it?  What if you kept dwelling about it?

Let me be clear:  it is fine to ask how you might prevent an injury in the future.  It is fine to listen to feedback from others, that might give you some insight into things you need to change.

It’s the next step after that.  When you keep berating yourself.  It’s when you take the next step… you attach to the pain.  Buddhism refers to that as suffering.  You and I can think of it as “Dirty Pain” (a term coined by ACT – a mode of therapy).  It is dirtied by our own mental state — not the cause of the pain.

What do you do about that?  We discuss it in this week’s Thriveology Podcast.  Listen below.

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From “If” to “Is”

Why “If” keeps you stuck… and how to shift

Are you stuck in the “If’s” of life:  What if, If only, Only if?  Shift to Is.. What ISAt the beginning of my career, I was a hospital chaplain.  One of my tasks was to help people accept what was going on… to accept the diagnosis, the outcome of an accident or tragedy, to accept the changes.  Interestingly, many times, it seemed that those wanting the person to “accept” were really looking for resignation.  Kind of giving up.

I think our understanding of acceptance has expanded since then.  But that doesn’t make it any easier.

You see, we all want some “alternate reality,” some different space where things didn’t, aren’t, or won’t happen.  Where we get to choose to undo/redo, or not do what we don’t like.  The alternate reality where things happened or happen or will happen differently.

Except they don’t.  They happened as they did.  They are happening as they are.  And they will happen as they will.

Yes, we have some control about what we do in this moment, and what we will do to move toward the next.  But not enough to create our alternate reality where we get to choose everything (we do get to choose our own response, though).

There are 3 “If’s” we play out in our mind.  One shift matters, if we want to thrive.  The shift to “Is.”

I unpack what that is about and talk about how we can make the shift in this episode of the Thriveology Podcast.

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What A Year!

Coping with COVID Series

What a year it has been!  The effects of COVID on all of us.What a year!  It was one year ago this week that I was on my last business trip.  I was at an event with my publisher.  Already, we knew COVID was out, and knew it was gaining steam.  Other countries had already gone into lockdown… and the US was on the precipice.

While I was away, my wife and I were coordinating with our adult children, trying to make sure we could get them to our home before travel was locked down.  That weekend, both came home.

We thought it might be a number of weeks.  They were thinking two to three.  I was thinking a month or a bit more.

That ended up being months on end.  They spent more of 2020 in our home than in their own places.

The economy screeched to a halt, trips were canceled, schools were closed.  And our medical system started to strain, faltering under the weight of one illness closing off some areas, while filling others.

It seemed like every day, there was some new shift, new discovery, new point of vulnerability.  And in its wake, we, as a country and a world, strained to cope.  The grief poured out in anger and despair.  Some continued their grief in the world of denial.

And still, the numbers climbed.  Families lost loved ones.  Spouses lost partners.  The world lost citizens.  To the point that we could no longer truly comprehend the numbers.  Some people recalculated by throwing caution to the wind.  Others recalibrated to a life in isolation, hoping that was safe.

One year later.  What a year!

Oh, and it isn’t over!  Although there are plenty of places and people trying to move on, we are still in the midst of a crisis.  While there is a place, in the not-so-distant future, where we get back to a life much more similar to a bit more than a year ago, we aren’t there yet.

And we are also now seeing that the pandemic will not end equally.  It hasn’t impacted citizens equally, and the end will come just as unequally.  But it will come.  How do we get there?  I hope together, and I hope a bit wiser.

In this week’s Thriveology Podcast, I think about the shifts and impacts of this past year.

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Your Heaven on Earth

It is so easy to get pulled into threats and dangers, mishaps and mistakes.  It is wired into our brain to have a focus on the negative.  Which is too bad.  That means we are more likely to miss the good moments, the highlights of life, in favor of the down moments.  We clearly see the negative, but can miss the positive.

Unless, of course, we nurture a focus on the positive.  Unless we look for those moments of “heaven on earth.”

What are your moments of heaven?

Martin Rutte, Project Heaven On EarthMartin Rutte spent his career helping companies enter into dialogue for transformation.  He led difficult discussions so that company cultures could transform.  Dialogue is a powerful tool of exploration.  Which, unfortunately, is often replaced by debate in our culture.  That is what happens when we stop listening, demanding our own viewpoint.  Martin has worked to shift from the hell of debate to the heaven of dialogue.

And that led him to wonder what we might be able to do to shift our world in a better direction.  So, he started wondering about those moments of heaven people have.  What were the moments?  What was common to those moments?  How might those moments become a more intentional part of life?  What if that process starts expanding those moments for more people?  Might culture and society transform?

In this episode of the Thriveology Podcast, Martin gets me to discuss my moment of heaven on earth… and how I might bring that moment more into my own life.  We discuss the power of three simple questions, the power of dialogue, and the need for cultural transformation right now.  In this moment.  Perhaps a shift to a moment of heaven on earth?

Listen to the episode below.

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When to Act, How to Accept

ActOrAcceptI always find it helpful to have some “rules” to live by.  Short statements that help keep me pointed in the right direction, ready to handle the challenges of life.

And let’s be honest:  challenges are an unavoidable part of life.  Those who tell you that having struggles, challenges, or illnesses is an indication that you are doing something wrong?  They are wrong and misguided.  Life is going to challenge each of us… right up until we die.  Which every one of us will do.

So the question is how we live our lives.  Today.  Right now.  Regardless of what life is throwing your way.

What we often do, in the face of a challenge:  Worry, Complain, Avoid.  All three keep us stuck, frozen in place and to the challenge ahead of us.

So, I have decided instead, to adopt the rule of “Act or Accept.”  I will either act toward resolution, or I will accept where I am.  And the acceptance?  It need not be permanent.  It is about where I am right now.  It may be waiting for a possible action.

Let’s talk about this rule and how to apply it.  Listen to the podcast episode below.

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Find Hope or Build Hope

Do you find hope or do you build hope?  We discuss it on this episode of the Thriveology Podcast.Where does hope come from?  Does it come upon us?  Do we discover it?  Or do we build it?

I believe that hope is an important ingredient in thriving.  If you have no hope, it is tough to thrive. Finding hope often helps us find thriving.

Oh, and thriving is not about having an easy life, always exciting and happy.  A thriving life is built on taking on the challenges of life.  Not avoiding them, but taking them on, learning from them, and thriving because of them.

2020 has been the year of challenges.  So, it has also given us lots of opportunities to work on thriving.  How has it been for you?  Hopeful or hopeless?

What if hope is built?  What if all you have to do in order to find hope is follow a formula?

As is true for many things in life, the formula is pretty simple.  But that is not to be confused with easy.  Do remember that thriving is rarely built, though, on the easy.  Taking on the simple, but important, is often the path to thriving.

In this episode of the Thriveology Podcast, we take a look at hope.  Where it comes from, how you can find it, and how you can live it… both for yourself and the world.

Listen below.

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Finding Calm in the Midst of Chaos

How to be calm and stay calm in the middle of chaotic times in a crazy world.These are some crazy times, aren’t they?  The world seems upside-down.  A pandemic, politics, conspiracy theories… news just seems to be crazier and crazier every day.

And that can catch up with each of us, stressing us out and leaving us afraid.  Which places your body and brain on constant alert.

That is exhausting.

And chaotic.

Why do those news stories and social media feeds keep us so amped up and stressed out?  And how can you stay calm(er) in the midst of chaos?

In this episode of the Thriveology Podcast,

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Is the Present Perfect?

Is the present perfect?  Yes.  Find out how in this episode of the Thriveology Podcast.My client was telling me about lots of struggles, difficult times, and a few positive moments.  I noted, as I have many times with many clients, “It sounds like your present is perfect.”

She went silent.  I was silent.  But I could see her processing and struggling with my words.  I sat quietly.

She finally erupted: “Perfect?!? How can you say that?  After all the stuff I told you… how can you tell me that things are perfect?”

I told her, “I didn’t say great.  I didn’t say it was how you wanted them to be.  Only that the present is perfect.”

In that moment, I could see her gears turning… but she still couldn’t make sense of what I was saying.

How can things feel upside-down and inside-out, and be perfect?

“Perfect” does not mean preferred.  It means something is complete.  A perfectly cooked steak is complete. It is cooked to a certain level.  But also consider a “perfect storm,” the perfect combination of  circumstances that mean the storm is more powerful than when those circumstances don’t combine.

The idea of the Present Perfect, which sounds like grammar, comes from life coach, Thomas Leonard.  He noted that the Present Perfect is the fact that this moment perfectly reflects everthing that has come before, up until now.

Why does that matter?  We explore it in this episode of the Thriveology Podcast.  Listen below

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“I’m Feeling a Little Acedic”

What is acedia?  And why do you feel the way you do during this pandemic?  The antidote to acedia.Six months.  That is how far we are into the pandemic… at least in the US.  Yes, I  know.  There were cases before then.  But March marks the start of the social effects of pandemic.  Lock down.  Restrictions.  Social distance.  Six months.

And many people are feeling the effects!  I would go so far as to saying most, but plenty would contact me to tell me that they are not.

If you are feeling the effects, I am speaking to you.  Do you find yourself just… listless?  Out of sorts?  Lost in things to do, but not getting them done?

That feeling you are having is not a new one, just from the pandemic.  It dates back to the ancient Greeks.  It was an idea that Christian writers discussed as the distraction of monks and others.  In fact, it was a thought process Christian writers warned against, as it can spiral.

And here we sit, 1/2 of a year into feeling the effects of a pandemic.  And many people are feeling just a bit… acedic.  The term for this feeling was Acedia.  That listless, not caring, ought-to-be-doing-something restlessness, where nothing actually gets done.

Is that the feeling you have?

It is perfectly normal… which is different than saying it is helpful.  So while it is no surpirse you are feeling it, let’s talk about the acedia antidote.

Listen below.

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How NOT To Thrive: Top 5

5 ways to guarantee that you don't thrive... and what to do instead.Over the years, I have tried to learn to thrive.  And I have tried to teach others how to thrive… even getting other experts to do the same.

But today, just for a moment, let’s assume you DON’T want to thrive.  In fact, you want to… well, do the opposite of thriving!  You want to be miserable and live a smaller life.  You want to feel stuck and frustrated. (I’m not going to even explain WHY you would want to do that… let’s play a little mental game and pretend you just don’t want to thrive.)

What then?

How would you go about NOT thriving?  How would you really make yourself as miserable as possible?

In this episode of the Thriveology Podcast, I start in on my Top 10 List of How NOT To Thrive.  I cover 5 top ways to NOT thrive in this episode, and follow up with the other 5 in the next episode.

Why in the world would I do this?

Because if you know how to NOT thrive, then you can NOT do the NOT’s.  You can do the opposite, and move toward thriving.  It is also a good way to run through the list and see if you find yourself falling into any of the non-thriving traps.  They are all around us!  And sometimes, we are doing them… not even realizing it.

Listen below for part 1 of How To Guarantee You Don’t Thrive.

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Book:  Thrive Principles