Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Giving Thanks

I know I've written about this topic not so long ago, but it's becoming even clearer to me so I want to add to what I've already written. And besides, somewhere deep down we really all do know this stuff, wouldn't you agree? When we hear something or read something somewhere that just resonates with us at our core, we know it, right?

That's what it means to hit on a principle. A principle is a general truth, rule, or law that works all of the time for everyone. So when you know something and you know you know it, that's probably a principle.

I'm finally starting to understand what it means to be grateful, which is very distinct from being thankful. And I think that distinction for me is a distinction that carries over to other parts of my life as well.

Being thankful is hugely gratifying - both to the giver and the receiver of the thanks. It's great to be acknowledged for something you did for someone else and it makes you feel great also to be able to sincerely appreciate someone else for something they did. In this scenario there needs to be a thing or a situation that has already been completed in order for the thanks to be given. It is an acknowledgment for a situation in the past that has been done to or for another.

I see gratitude, on the other hand, as a state of being independent of a past event. I don't need anything to have already happened in order to be in a state of gratitude. I can be grateful for current situations regardless of whether or not they are ones I've chosen.

So thanks is a DOING, and gratitude is a BEING.

This is a great time for me to both BE and DO. I'm grateful everyday for the awareness and consciousness I'm continually living into which allows me to see things differently. And I'm thankful for you - my readers - who are taking the time to read what I write and occasionally share your own thoughts and ideas here. Together I know we are up to something big and I look forward to many more posts and exchanges to come!

Thursday, November 12, 2009

Encountering Skepticism

Or is it cynicism?

I wrote a post about this topic a long time ago and it's even a chapter in my book The 100% Factor. And I've been thinking about it again since I saw the new Michael Jackson movie This Is It on Sunday.

It wasn't the movie that got me thinking about skepticism - or cynicism - but the reaction I got from a friend of mine when I told him I'd seen the movie.

I get that we all have our own opinions, formed through experience, upbringing, conditioning, programming, and what one of my fellow master minders yesterday called "mother-father-teacher-preacher" influence.

My friend had a less-than-positive reaction to my attending the movie based on his opinion about Michael Jackson.

Even more interesting to me than his reaction, was my reaction to his reaction. I was very touched and moved by the movie, which caused me to want to utilize every ounce of talent and ability I have to serve the world. I guess I wanted him to be open to my interpretation of who I experienced Michael Jackson to be from that movie. His opinion of Michael Jackson was that he was "odd" and "weird" and "different." I asked him, "different than whom?" and he said "normal people."

So then all these questions went through my head in a split second. Really? Is that true? What is normal? Who sets the standard? Do we all have to be aware of that standard so we know what it means to be normal? Are we not OK if we're not normal? Am I judging him the same way I perceive he is judging me? If we have differing opinions about Michael Jackson, am I normal or is my friend normal? Do I even want to be normal?

Which brings me back to what I perceive as the distinction between being skeptical and being cynical. For me, skepticism is healthy when it is seen in an open-minded way of gathering information in order to make an informed decision. To me cynicism, on the other hand, has an underlying bias built in. There is no ability to create a dialogue (suspension of previous assumptions in order to learn something new) in cynical mode because the person's mind is already made up.

I suppose the fact that I even feel the need to write a post about this topic shows my bias toward open-mindedness, which seems a little oxymoronic. Underlying the entire topic is my innate desire to connect with people on a more-than-surface level, so I suppose that is my own lesson here.

What do you think? Is there a distinction in your mind between skepticism and cynicism? Or does it even matter?

Monday, November 02, 2009

What, really, is authenticity?

I had the pleasure of attending the celebration of the life of Napoleon Hill in Anaheim October 24-25. This amazing event was hosted by Greg Reid and Sharon Lechter, co-authors of Three Feet From Gold, the next version of the classic Think and Grow Rich.

At this event I had the pleasure of meeting and hearing some really inspiring people including Mark Victor Hansen, Bob Proctor, T. Harv Eker, John Assaraf, John Gray, Les Brown, Darren Hardy (publisher of Success Magazine) and many others, including Greg Reid and Sharon Lechter.

I learned a lot, and met other great folks who were attending the event, and also got a lot of validation for the learning path I find myself on.

One thing that especially struck me, more as a question than an observation, was a question I've learned from Byron Katie's "The Work" and that question was: "Is it true?"

There were some speakers/presenters from whom I felt total authenticity and integrity; and others ... well, I just can't put my finger on it, but it feels as if they are operating out of scarcity and lack mentality. And that observation got me thinking about my own thinking.

How often have I gotten caught up in what I "should" do because it's what "they" think or say or do? I know I've exuded a faker or poser or impostor mentality at times where what I say and what I do are not in harmony. I think there is probably a time in all our lives when we really are "faking it to make it," especially when we're starting out in new levels of awareness.

I am learning that there are cycles even to levels of awareness and that "success" (whether that's in the traditional sense of finances and material wealth or in finally figuring out the combinations that make us truly wealthy from the inside out) can come to people at any level of awareness.

I wonder how often people are saying and doing what they think is the "right" thing when they're really not feeling that way at all. We "fake it," sometimes even from ourselves when we're inauthentic with our actions and our thinking processes. We seek approval from others to validate what we're DOING, but we don't believe them when they tell us what we think we want to hear because deep down we know we're faking it.

So do we ever really want to hear the truth? And whose truth are we seeking? Carl Jung said that “He who looks outside his own heart DREAMS, he who looks inside his own heart AWAKENS.”

This can't be an easy process; however, if we're seeking true authenticity there can be no other way to find it. There is no painless quick fix to the search for authenticity, but there is a painful quick fix: to look inside and come clean.

I believe that authenticity allows connection because when the walls are down, the feelings can be accessed. As we spend so much time in our heads, trying to analyze everything, we distance ourselves more and more from our feelings where the true connections can be made.

Sure we have to begin to think, because that is where can make conscious choices. But the way to alter the results we're getting in our lives is to look at the results, trace them back to the actions which produced them, trace the actions back to the feelings and then look at the thoughts that produced the feelings.

The end result is not to think about every little thing all the time, but to transcend the need to analyze - to get beyond thinking to allowing. This is what Eckhart Tolle was telling us in A New Earth. When we can transcend labeling and judging and even thinking in words, we can allow the access to what Napoleon Hill calls Infinite Intelligence - and what Tolle calls Presence. And, I guess, what I'm calling Authenticity.

Practice BEING today - even for a few moments. BEING goes beyond thinking. It's a state of allowing what is to just be. Notice what you notice and see how that feels. Try not to have an agenda (I understand this could be difficult - the intention is the first step).

Our authentic selves do not have to be scary. If authenticity is where connection happens, that could be a real draw to letting down the walls. Human BEINGS attract human BEINGS.

Who BE you today?