Change in the Shadow of Terror

Surviving 9/11 and Finding Meaning

Kushal Choksi survived 9/11 and found his purpose.Sometimes, success comes from being at the right place at the right time.  Sometimes, tragedy comes from being at the wrong place at the wrong time.  But what happens when you are at the right place at the wrong time?

For Kushal  Choksi, it saved his life.  It was September 11, 2001.  Kushal was running late, and rushing to get to a meeting in the World Trade Towers.  He was racing through the mezzanine when a horrific impact jarred him and threw the world into chaos.  What had happened?  What should they do?

Some people were frozen in place.  Others were fleeing the building.  Still others were simply trying to get back to their day, oblivious to the danger that was mounting.  Choksi headed for the door, but was met by a security guard who was imploring people to return to the building.  Given the debris raining down, that made some sense.

But before he could turn, another voice and a strong hand on his shoulder said, “No, get out!”  Kushal did.  That decision saved his life.

And that day completely reordered Choksi’s life.  He was lost for some time after.  What seemed like the recipe for success was floundering.  It was not just about being wealthy and powerful.  Somehow, the “American Dream” no longer seemed the goal.

What then?

After much seeking, Kushal found his way forward with new tools for dealing with his anxiety and fears.  And that led him to another path of success.

In this episode of the Thriveology Podcast, as we approach the 20th anniversary of that horrific attack, I had a chance to sit down with Kushal and talk about meaning, purpose, breath, and mindfulness.

Listen below.

RELATED RESOURCES:
Kushal Choksi’s Website
Amazon Link to Kushal’s book, On A Wing And A Prayer
Free of Fear Series
Breathe
Order, Disorder, Reorder

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.

RELATED RESOURCES
Dealing with Grief
When to Act, How to Accept
Is the Present Perfect?
Book:  The Thrive Principles

The Art of Undoing

Erika Gerdes, Authenticity AdvocateHave you ever arrived at that spot in life…the place you were pushing to be…only to look around and realize it was not what you thought it would be?  In fact, it isn’t even what you want?

Maybe that dream job, relationship, or status, really wasn’t the dream, after all.  Even if you worked hard to get there.  Even if you sacrificed to get there.

Do you stay?  Or do you step back and undo?

Market researchers talk about the “sunk cost fallacy.”  A “sunk cost” is the amount you have already paid or invested in something, whether time or resources.  It is already gone.  Already “sunk” (thus the name).  The fallacy part is the tendency for people to keep pushing ahead, sticking with something because of the sunk cost.  You hold onto a stock because you invested in it…even as the price plummets. Instead of leaving a losing game, you stay in because of what you have already lost.

We do it every day.

My guest in this episode is Erika Gerdes.  She dreamed of working at Google.  But the thought was intimidating enough that she never applied.  But she ended up there, anyway, after answering an anonymous Craigs List ad.  And there she stayed for 13 years.

Along the way, though, she discovered that her “dream job” was not fulfilling her dream.  So, she finally left…at the height of her career…and became an Authenticity Advocate.  She found her voice in helping others find their voice, her calling in helping others discover their calling.

What she discovered is that sometimes, you have to UN-do things to do things you want to do.  You have to practice the art of undoing.

We discuss Undoing, Authenticity, Courage, Mission, and more during our conversation.  Listen in below.

RELATED RESOURCES
Erika’s Website (with free resources)
MPI Triangle
From Fear to Courage

Paths to Mindfulness

Mindfulness is such a buzzword these days that you may find yourself “tuning out” when you hear the term.  Ironic, since that is quite the opposite of being mindful!

Simply put, mindfulness is the state of being present with your body in the present moment.  In other words, you are aware of your bodily experience of this immediate moment.

The nice thing about mindfulness is that it is easy to practice, wherever you are and whatever you are doing.  It is simply a matter of calling yourself back to this moment, in your own body.

And then… it slips away again, through distractions and thoughts.  Thoughts about the past and future pull us from the present.  We distract ourselves right out of the experience of living in this moment.

Joanne King, Pathways to Mindfulness.  Mindful eating and ending dieting.My guest on this episode of the Thriveology Podcast, Joanne King, offers a number of pathways to mindfulness.

Of particular interest is Joanne’s approach to mindful eating.  How often do you find yourself scarfing down a meal, not even noticing the taste, texture, spices, smells, and ingredients… the experience of eating?  I have.

According to Joanne, this means that we often eat beyond what we need… and not necessarily even what we need to eat.  When people shift to mindful eating, Joanne reports, they eat better and naturally lose weight.

And… it is an opportunity to enter into mindfulness.

Join me as I discuss pathways to mindfulness with Joanne King.

RELATED RESOURCES
Joanne’s website
Using Mindfulness to Thrive
The Importance of Being Present
Confidence… in the Moment

Life Is The NOW

Immutable Laws of Living Series

Life Is The NOW.Do you ever find yourself “lost in thought?”  I am willing to bet your thoughts are pulling to the past, the future, or an alternate past.  In other words, you are thinking about what happened (or you wish had happened) or about what might happen.

But life is flying by right NOW.  And being lost to the past/future of your mind.

We humans are blessed and cursed.  We are blessed with the capacity of imagining and remembering.  We file memories away through language.  If I said, “What did you do last Saturday?”, you would search your memory database by wondering, “What DID I do last Saturday?”  Then, you would recall the party or event you attended.  As far as I can tell, my dog doesn’t recall much when I ask about our walk yesterday.  Language.

You can also imagine what could be through imagination.  I could ask, “What do you want to do next summer?”  Off your mind would go, imagining what next summer might hold.  Asking my dog about his thoughts for next summer is likely not creating much of a mental thought process for him.

But that curse. . . .

You can also think back on that bad encounter last week with your friend or spouse.  You can worry about what next week might hold at work.  You can remember those hurts and pains from childhood.  You can worriedly think about your finances in retirement.

Same process.

And whether reflecting on good events or bad, imagining good things or bad, we can all lose track of this moment, this NOW.  We humans have the unique ability (and dis-ability) of mentally living in times other than NOW.

As I discuss in this week’s free audio podcast, Life is the NOW.

(and if you’ve missed other podcasts in this series, here are the links:)
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

Why Self-Compassion Is More Important Than Self-Confidence

Self-compassion is more important than self-confidence or self-esteem in having a thriving life.So much press on self-esteem.  And so little evidence that self-esteem predicts success or mental health.  A higher-than-average level of self-esteem is, however, associated with juvenile delinquency and narcissism.

Then why do we find schools, parents, and other organizations focused on building self-esteem in ourselves and our children?

There is something else that has been demonstrated to help with mental health and well-being.  That “something else” is self-compassion.

When things are tough, do you give yourself a break?  Not “let yourself off the hook,” but remind yourself that you are doing the best you can?

My guess is you have the same thing in your mind that I do:  a critical voice that is happy to point out my shortcomings and foibles.  You might even listen to the same critical voice that you would tell a friend to ignore.

Self-compassion is about understanding that you (and others) do the best you (and they) can do, given current state-of-mind and situations.  Instead of listening to the critical voice, how about the loving voice that knows you are, like it or not, human.  And that you are trying.

This is not about saying “I have no need to change, here I am.”  But it is about saying, “here I am, and I need to accept that.  I need to give myself a break!”

Learn about self-compassion — what it is and how to extend it to yourself.

What Thriving People Do To Show Up

Show UP to life!Think about 2 types of people.  First, there are the ones that trudge through the day, waiting for the next thing.  They may have a conversation with you, but nobody is really there.  They are a bit vacant and distant.  Often, their eyes are a bit dull.

The second group of people seem to embrace the day — this moment. . .  this moment. . . this moment. . . .

When you speak with them, they are listening, hanging onto your words, eyes twinkling and flashing.

That second group of people?  They are Showing Up.  They are present in the present.

Where do you place yourself?  Which group do you fit into?  Which group would you like to be MORE like?

Thrivers are the ones that Show Up to life.  Learn how thrivers do it, and how anyone can do it more and more.

From “What If” To “What Is”

Shift from "What If?" to "What Is."We all can get lost in the Worries and Wishes.  We can lose our lives to “What If?”.

In the process, we lose focus on the present moment.  Instead, we focus on things that may never be, either worriedly or wishingly.

You see, your mind is excellent at scenarios that may play out in the future.  In fact, the scenarios and scenes are probably Oscar-worthy.

When I was sick, years ago, I realized that I could not live in the world of “What If?”  It took all of my energy to live in the world of “What Is”.

And it turns out, that was an important life lesson.

During my illness, of which there were some pretty significant (and deadly) consequences, I often said, “Let’s wait and see.”  When presented with potential effects of the illness, many told to me by well-meaning friends and family, I had to re-state, “Let’s wait and see.”

At least 95% of the “what if’s” never happened.

Isn’t that true with most of life?  Yet, we get caught up in those things down the road.  As Julius Caesar said,

As a rule, men worry more about what they can’t see than about what they can.

And yet, those future scenarios do nothing to prepare us for what is coming our way.  We just pretend it does.  And as Leo Buscaglia reminds us:

Worry never robs tomorrow of sorrow.  It only saps today of its joy.

Let’s make a shift.  Let’s move from “What If?”  Instead, let’s embrace “What Is.”  That is enough for the moment.

RELATED PODCASTS:
Present
The Problem Is Enough
This Moment

Stop Striving. Start Thriving.

Stop striving.  Start thriving.“Just a little bit further,” my brother kept telling me.  I was out of shape, trying to get to the top of the mountain.  Exhausted, I was just trudging along.

My brother, leading the way, kept reassuring me that it was just a few more switchbacks. . . and then, the summit!  It would be a beautiful view, he assured me.

Many promises of “just a little further” stacked up.  It was always “just a little further.”  I grumbled about understanding the Israelites as they followed Moses:  “Just a little longer in the desert, I promise!”

The trail was passing me by, but I was not noticing.  I just kept trudging along.  I missed the rhododendrons, the brook, the wildlife. . . pretty much everything along the way.  All to get to the summit.

We made it, but I missed the real treat:  the journey up.

Don’t we all do that?  We believe that life will start when we get to _________ (fill in the blank).  When we get our degree, when we get some money, when we get the promotion/job/career, when we have a child, when the kids are gone, when the house is paid off, etc., etc., etc.

The problem is, that point is usually just beyond where we are.  And in the process, we miss where we are.  We await the future and forget the present (“present” is my word for 2015).

STOP!

Stop striving.  Stop waiting for life to begin “when . . . .”

START!

Start thriving.  Start enjoying right now.  Start enjoying the process, on the way to what will be.

Join me in this week’s Thriveology Podcast, as I explore how to stop striving and how to start thriving.

(And here is the link to how to support the podcast.)

 

This Moment Matters: Interview with Shawn Ellis, #42 Thriveology Podcast

Shawn-400x600We fill every day up.  In fact, we often fill every moment of every day up.

And the moments pass.  The days pass.

We move from crisis to crisis, event to event.

We try to do multiple things at the same time, and pretend it is a skill.

In the process, we miss out on the richness of this moment.  We miss out on being truly engaged in the world.

Today, I have a special guest, Shawn Ellis.

Shawn offers a different perspective.  What if THIS moment (and this one, and this one. . . ) matters?

To be more clear, what if WE realize that this moment matters?

Shawn, like me, is always learning and growing.  One day, he realized the moments were passing him by in a blur.  An entrepreneur, business owner, husband, and father, Shawn was pulled in all directions — defaulting to the myth of multi-tasking.

One day, he realized that life was passing him by, even as Shawn was trying to live.

What Shawn discovered is something he is now sharing with people and companies all over:  This Moment Matters.

After listening to our discussion, you can visit Shawn at This Moment Matters (http://thismomentmatters.com).