Motivational Minute: Utilization Principle

This is March 20, 2020, and stress over the COVID-19 virus is beginning to crescendo for many people. They’re trying to concentrate, to do work from home or create something – or to home-school their kids – and the constant press conferences and counts, and communications about the virus – or about dealing with the changes it’s bringing – can really make that difficult.

If you’re like most people, you might have one of two responses. You might try to “discipline” yourself – to grit your teeth and force yourself to concentrate; sit still; and “get something done”. Or, you might try escaping or distracting yourself from an unpleasant emotion like anxiety, fear, panic, or just boredom – maybe through some activity that’s not great for you.

Another option is to use an emotion like anxiety to drive an activity you need – or even want to do anyway, but maybe just wasn’t scheduled for right that minute. It’s a powerful technique to harness USE an emotional state that presents itself, while it’s right there. Use it all up – and then come back to the original plan. Parents who have ever intentionally let their kids wear themselves out so they’ll go to bed know what I’m talking about…

We don’t want to do this ALL the time, because we do want to build the ability to conjure the best emotional state for a given task. On a given day, it can be fun to “let the dogs hunt” – and today was one of those for me. Here’s a short video from the “upstairs office” – and it includes some information useful for parents trying to home-school during the crazy we have right now. Hope you enjoy.

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21 ways to New Year’s Resolution Success

2015

Merry Christmas and Happy New Year!

Here are 21 tips for making New Years Resolutions easier and more successful. May they help you realize all your ambitions and dreams in 2015!

  1. Forget deadlines or acquisition of goals. They aren’t products you could purchase from Walmart. Instead, stay focused on the activities that move you toward your outcome.
  2. Maintain consistency, no matter how the clock ticks or what setbacks you encounter. Stay dedicated like dripping water – which can cut a channel through a mountain.
  3. Let yourself to feel good about the activity or process and adventure of becoming  the person you want to be.
  4. Let your resolution to become part of a lifestyle that involves new friends and new fun activities and new locations.
  5. Associate with people who are successful at happily achieving and maintaining the same kind of goal you have.
  6. Adopt the beliefs, attitudes, and habits of successful people. Don’t commiserate, believe, or complain in the way unsuccessful people do. Instead if spending lest time with people who “share your struggle” but never succeed, cultivate friends who have succeeded where you want to – and spend as much time as possible around them.
  7. Make a specific and scheduled plan for taking manageable, bite-sized actions on a consistent basis.
  8. Schedule and prioritize those consistent bite-sized actions on your calendar.
  9. Write the personal deeply-held values that relate to your goal – and your bite-sized actions next to them on the calendar where you’ve prioritized those actions within your schedule.
  10. Feel good about keeping those values-affirming appointments.
    Reward yourself in ways that empower (not sabotage) your goals.
  11. Congratulate yourself and memorialize in writing the progress you create.
  12. Imagine and design goals where final decisions are in your control.
  13. Focus on those parts of your progress that you most control.
  14. Take consistent meaningful action. Whenever you notice something that “has to be done first”, challenge that truthfulness of that – and re-focus on keeping your consistency. Remember that consistency is a goal in itself.
  15. Make all your resolutions a reasonably achievable size.
  16. Measure progress toward a goal. Forget how much is left and focus on progress.
  17. Forget the goal itself – and how dramatic your struggle is. Instead, stay focused on the process of your transformation.
  18. Think consciously about how much attention some people get by failing. Resolve to win by winning.
  19. Make new friends by winning your goal. Whenever we take-on something new, we begin as “the newbie”. With each benchmark we achieve, we qualify ourselves to a new level “in the club” of people who have already walked that path. Remember to reach out and join the “circle of winners”.
  20. Feel both worthy and deserving. Because you are here, you are worthy of your own best effort, and your own best effort makes you worthy of progress, and progress maintained will carry you to success. Feel worthy as you step forward.
  21. UNDERSTAND and believe that successful resolutions are about the outcomes of consistent practices or lifestyles.

Please share your resolutions and personal strategies for success below. If you have comments, questions, or suggestions for the success of others, please share them below. I will do my best to answer every one!

 

Posted in Cultivating Character, Dealing with Fear, Decision-Making, Get Rid of Anxiety, High Performance, Procrastination, Self Esteem, Stopping a Bad Habit | Comments Off on 21 ways to New Year’s Resolution Success

How to Fail at New Years Resolutions

Quality failure requires proper planning. Here are five stealth methods for failing your New Year’s resolutions – because success would be lonely.

Most people think a “lack of willpower” is enough to guarantee failure – and that’s one excuse, but that’s the wrong answer because your friends and significant other know it’s a flaccid, pitiful, unoriginal – and totally obvious excuse.

resolution failMost people aren’t broken or “lacking willpower”. So, a quality New Year’s Resolution failure needs a truly bad strategy – not just bad genes or lame excuses.

Your strategy has to have decent stealth features, or it’ll be too obvious, and people will laugh at you for even saying it.

Here are FIVE strategic ways to guarantee a quality New Year’s Resolution FAIL:

 

 

  1. “I will lose 20 pounds by the end of February.”
  2. “I will spend more time with my family.”
  3. “I will get Nancy to marry me.”
  4. “I will make a million dollars.”
  5. “I will weigh 125 pounds.”

These are typical resolutions. They are all stated in positive terms – which makes them ideal stealth-failure resolutions!

Check Them Out:

Resolutions-01

1. “I will lose 20 pounds by the end of February.”

This goal is positive, and healthy, and that “end of February” deadline is the perfect kind of overly-specific booby-trap to trigger stress-eating – or just plain stressing – which causes the body to retain weight.

People who want to stay fat (or even gain weight) should try to do stress-eating. And, they need to avoid being active and getting outside. Going outside burns calories. It also exposes a person to sunshine – which helps their body synthesize serotonin. And, that totally ruins the seasonal affective depression that helps them binge on carbohydrates like pretzels, chips, and pasta.

Physical activity relieves stress – which interferes with stress eating and the hormone levels you want to maintain to insure you maintain or gain more fat.

January is the best time of year to make excuses for staying inside and inactive. It’s cold, it’s snowing, it’s miserable, you get a cold, it’s flu season, you have to brush off the windshield, it gets dark early. And, if any of those fail, you can always misplace your gloves.

The more non-perfect performance days that tick off through January, the more weight you have to lose PER DAY to avoid failure.

At some point, even your significant other will forgive you for just surrendering – taking the couch-lounging path that ultimately gives you 11 months and 4 days of peace until you have to do it again. (If you don’t count your significant other totally checking out the hot-bodied so-and-so at the lake.)

If you really want to fail your New Year’s Resolution, make sure you put your goal on a deadline.

2. “I will spend more time with my family.”

This goal is positive, and a good idea, and just non-specific enough:  There’s no method – and no metrics (tracking system). You can totally make easy excuses any time it comes up. No real action will happen, and by the time anyone notices – around the time you have that big fight in July or so – you’ll have “already failed” – and you can put it off again until next Christmas!

When you want to make a totally fail-destined resolution, making it seem positive, while structurally vague and without any way to track progress – is certain to be helpful. And, by that, I mean to insure failure.

3. “I will get Nancy to marry me.”

There’s that good positive-sounding facade – behind it hiding one of the best resolution fail tricks in the book: You aren’t really in control of it. You can make a big production, and spend money and take a trip and hire a sky-writer. You can do all that with utter security that most jewelers will take the ring back when she says “no”. And, the refund will probably let you pay off the proposal vacation you maxed-out your credit card for.

One of the best ways to insure a resolution fail – and to build-in an escape from accountability – or even create a pity-wringing victim status – is to make sure someone else is in control of the main choice(s) or actions that produce the outcome.

Consistently focus on any part you don’t fully control– especially trivial ones. Do this especially if that part isn’t actually necessary. Find ways to say that others are in control of various trivial, but essential prerequisites to you taking meaningful action.

4. “I will make a million dollars.”

By now, you recognize the “positivity paint” on this baby, and you may already be noticing that a ridiculously-gigantic and very specific goal is just the thing to insure a quality resolution fail. The “lose 20 pounds by February” resolution used time pressure to help guarantee failure. This one does the same thing, just using gigantic size instead of a short time-frame.

No matter the degree of progress, make sure you never measure progress, and always focus on how huge the rest of the resolution is.

And, the result is the same: You get out of the effort much earlier by surrendering to how much harder it seems to make a $999,000 in only seven months.

When you want to fail a resolution, don’t make it big, or even challenging; make it ridiculously huge. Nobody will blame you for surrendering. And, in the meantime, everyone will say how “ambitious” you are.

5. “I will weigh XXX pounds.”

Positive. Controllable. Right-sized to your starting weight. How are you going to fail that one?

This is the stealthiest of the fails: The outcome-obsessed fail. This one requires some greed, but most people can supply that. You have to stay focused on the outcome – like Gollum with the ring.

You have to crave and obsess and struggle with it all the time. And, it’s best if you dramatize that with your family and friends – being so brave and “strong” whenever anyone is watching. Max-out that willpower in the most dramatic possible ways.

That allows you the flexibility to rationalize and justify and excuse and deny the “cheating” and binging you’ll do when nobody is around.

It’s OK: You totally deserve all those treats and rewards for the incredible shirt-popping will-power you’re profiling.

Nobody will blame you when you boomerang around Valentine’s day, gaining back nine of the five pounds you lost before then. They’ll believe the “big boned” thing – at least when you’re in the room.

Keep in mind that nobody likes a successful New Year’s Resolution winner-bully – and everyone loves the story of a dramatic failure.

Remember, your friends will feel bad if you outdo them. Remember that victory laps are short-lived and elitist, while martyrdom and pining for unrequited success offers an endless source of conversation and attention. If you were to succeed, you would have to invent an entirely new line of conversation and basis for connecting to your friends.

Please share your own New Year’s Resolutions. Share your plans, and I’ll give you some free tips on how to insure the outcome you really want!

Posted in Cultivating Character, Decision-Making, High Performance, How to Be Happier, Procrastination, Self Esteem | 1 Comment

My Special Non-dairy Mocha Recipe

Due to popular demand from clients and friends – and because I teased you in this this earlier post, here’s my favorite recipe for non-dairy mocha. I make this stuff a pitcher at a time and store in the ‘fridge in this easy-to-clean wide-mouth Nalgene water bottle.

wide mouth nalgene water bottle

It’ll keep for up to 2 weeks, allowing you to have a rich, creamy, chocolaty, coffee treat – without dairy – any time you like (and, with your own chosen level of caffeine.) It gets creamier and tastier as the week goes by.

Ingredients:

  • 1 cup raw organic cashews, soak in water for 24 – 72 hours in the refrigerator.
  • 6 tbsp organic cacao powder
  • 6 capfuls (from the bottle) of organic vanilla
  • 6 tsp of instant coffee. (I use half Folger’s decaf and half instant espresso)
  • 4 cups of filtered water

Put it all in a Blendtech or comparable device. I use this one. Process on “whole juice”, and you’ll get ~ 5.5 cups of dark, rich, non-dairy mocha.

blendtech blenderAfter it sits in the fridge, shake well before pouring and stir often while drinking. I like this as much as any commercial version, and it’s way less sugar & fat, plus nutritious. Part of my breakfast most mornings.

I hope you like the above. If you have a similar recipe you like and want to share, please do that below. If you have any questions or other comments, please leave them and I’ll make sure to respond.

Be well and happy!

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Hot Green Smoothie Recipe

Several clients and friends have asked about the contents of my breakfast drinks – my “hot green smoothies”. For a health bonus, I’m going to share my approximate recipe. I say approximate because it shifts with season and what organic stuff is available.

I specifically look for leafy greens, ginger, and hot peppers. So, the thing changes from day to day accordingly. And, be warned that any spiciness will increase in parts you keep overnight.

The recipe below often produces more juice than the blender will hold, so I do the juicing first, and then put in a large pitcher, then use as much of that juice as necessary to process the blender. After processing, then mix everything in the pitcher.

nalgene bottleThis produces 4+ sixteen-ounce glasses of healthy breakfast yumminess. Trish and I each drink one, and refrigerate the remainder in these wide-mouth Nalgene water bottles for fast easy on-the-go the second day. The investment is something close to an hour of prep every other day, and between $5-$16 worth of produce to get four nutritious breakfast meals.

This meal is nutritious and filling enough to keep me active – even climbing the mountain and paragliding – until the lunch meal, without any hunger pangs. It will, however, really keep your digestive system active (colon-healthy). So, make sure you’re used to it – and have your schedule worked-out – before you set out on long drives or hikes…

omega juicerI use this model juicer:

I’ve had it for close to 3 years, processing these sorts of meals almost daily, and certainly several times per week. It’s never broken-down, and I’d buy another one in a heartbeat.

 

This is my typical juicer ingredients list:

  • Several handfuls of baby spinach
  • Couple of handfuls of spring mix, or power greens, or wheat grass, or turnip greens, or kale, etc.
  • 2 celery stalks
  • 4 medium carrots
  • 1 apple
  • half-dozen small sweet peppers, or maybe an Anaheim
  • 1 hot pepper (Serrano OR jalapeno – to taste)
  • handful of ginger chunks to taste
  • Sometimes add beets, or peas – whatever else seems good

Juice all that stuff and pour into pitcher and then get the blender ready.

I use this model blender:

I’ve had it for over a year, processing these sorts of things almost daily, as well as guacamole, blender ice-cream – all sorts of stuff. It’s expensive, but a really great kitchen device.

 

The typical blender ingredients list will be something like this:

  • Whole orange, organic, HALF-peeled (keep half the peel for nutrients – the whole peel will make it a bit bitter)
  • 1 ripe banana
  • 1 small or medium tomato
  • 1 handful of raw cashew nuts
  • 2-3 large spoonfuls of Greek yogurt
  • 1-2 cups of seasonal berries (strawberries, blueberries, blackberries, raspberries – whatever I can get)

Add enough juice from the pitcher to allow blender processing. When done, mix it all in the pitcher by hand. Pour and enjoy. The extra will last 24 hours or more in a refrigerator before beginning to taste bad.

HOT TIP: If you get a juice that’s too hot for your taste, and you don’t mind dairy, you can cut the heat considerably by adding some cream or half/half or milk and stirring. I recommend doing this right before drinking rather than storing that way.

I chase my juice drink with 16 ounces of water, and a special non-dairy mocha drink – the recipe for which I’ll share sometime soon.

Hope you like the above. If you have a smoothie recipe you like and want to share, please do that below. If you have any questions or other comments, please leave them and I’ll make sure to respond.

Be well and happy!

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5 Ways to Fail Your New Year’s Resolution

It’s the end of January. Have you failed your New Year’s resolutions yet?

Because quality failure requires proper planning, it’s important to know why the vast majority of New Year’s resolutions FAIL.

Most people think a “lack of willpower” is enough to guarantee failure – and that’s one excuse. But the bad news is that’s the wrong answer.

The worse news is that your significant other and friends are smarter than that – even if they don’t admit it to your face. The truth is the “lack of willpower” excuse is flaccid, pitiful, unoriginal – and totally obvious.

resolution failThat’s because most people aren’t broken or “lacking willpower”. So, a quality New Year’s Resolution failure needs a truly bad strategy – not just bad genes or lame excuses. And, that strategy has to have decent stealth technology built-in, or it’ll be too obvious, and your significant other will hold you in contempt for even saying it.

So, pay attention and I’ll lay out the FIVE strategic ways to craft a guaranteed New Year’s Resolution FAIL – with enough stealth that you will get away with it. Here are five examples that look just fine on the surface, but conceal absolutely deadly fail-making technology:

  1. “I will lose 20 pounds by the end of February.”
  2. “I will spend more time with my family.”
  3. “I will get Nancy to marry me.”
  4. “I will make a million dollars.”
  5. “I will weigh 125 pounds.”

Pretty typical resolutions. They all meet one of the main recommendations for goals of every kind: They are all stated in positive terms. That’s what makes them ideal stealth-failure resolutions!

Let’s Check Them Out:

1. “I will lose 20 pounds by the end of February.”

This goal is positive, and healthy, and that “end of February” deadline is the perfect kind of overly-specific booby-trap to trigger stress-eating – or just plain stressing – which causes the body to retain weight.

People who want to stay fat (or even gain weight) should try to do stress-eating. And, they need to avoid being active and getting outside. Going outside burns calories. It also exposes a person to sunshine – which helps their body synthesize serotonin. And, that totally ruins the seasonal affective depression that helps them binge on carbohydrates like pretzels, chips, and pasta.

Physical activity relieves stress – which interferes with stress eating and the hormone levels you want to maintain to insure you maintain or gain more fat.

January is the best time of year to make excuses for staying inside and inactive. It’s cold, it’s snowing, it’s miserable, you get a cold, it’s flu season, you have to brush off the windshield, it gets dark early. And, if any of those fail, you can always misplace your gloves.

The more non-perfect performance days that tick off through January, the more weight you have to lose PER DAY to avoid failure.

At some point, even your significant other will forgive you for just surrendering – taking the couch-lounging path that ultimately gives you 11 months and 4 days of peace until you have to do it again. (If you don’t count your significant other totally checking out the hot-bodied so-and-so at the lake.)

If you really want to fail your New Year’s Resolution, make sure you put your goal on a deadline.

2. “I will spend more time with my family.”

This goal is positive, and a good idea, and just non-specific enoughThere’s no method – and no metrics (tracking system). You can totally make easy excuses any time it comes up. No real action will happen, and by the time anyone notices – around the time you have that big fight in July or so – you’ll have “already failed” – and you can put it off again until next Christmas!

When you want to make a totally fail-destined resolution, making it seem positive, while structurally vague and without any way to track progress – is certain to be helpful. And, by that, I mean to insure failure.

3. “I will get Nancy to marry me.”

There’s that good positive-sounding facade – behind it hiding one of the best resolution fail tricks in the book: You aren’t really in control of it. You can make a big production, and spend money and take a trip and hire a sky-writer. You can do all that with utter security that most jewelers will take the ring back when she says “no”. And, the refund will probably let you pay off the proposal vacation you maxed-out your credit card for.

One of the best ways to insure a resolution fail – and to build-in an escape from accountability – or even create a pity-wringing victim status – is to make sure someone else is in control of the main choice(s) or actions that produce the outcome.

Consistently focus on any part you don’t fully control– especially trivial ones. Do this especially if that part isn’t actually necessary. Find ways to say that others are in control of various trivial, but essential prerequisites to you taking meaningful action.

4. “I will make a million dollars.”

By now, you recognize the “positivity paint” on this baby, and you may already be noticing that a ridiculously-gigantic and very specific goal is just the thing to insure a quality resolution fail. The “lose 20 pounds by February” resolution used time pressure to help guarantee failure. This one does the same thing, just using gigantic size instead of a short time-frame.

No matter the degree of progress, make sure you never measure progress, and always focus on how huge the rest of the resolution is.

And, the result is the same: You get out of the effort much earlier by surrendering to how much harder it seems to make a $999,000 in only seven months.

When you want to fail a resolution, don’t make it big, or even challenging; make it ridiculously huge. Nobody will blame you for surrendering. And, in the meantime, everyone will say how “ambitious” you are.

5. “I will weigh XXX pounds.”

Positive. Controllable. Right-sized to your starting weight. How are you going to fail that one?

This is the stealthiest of the fails: The outcome-obsessed fail. This one requires some greed, but most people can supply that. You have to stay focused on the outcome – like Gollum with the ring.

You have to crave and obsess and struggle with it all the time. And, it’s best if you dramatize that with your family and friends – being so brave and “strong” whenever anyone is watching. Max-out that willpower in the most dramatic possible ways.

That allows you the flexibility to rationalize and justify and excuse and deny the “cheating” and binging you’ll do when nobody is around.

It’s OK: You totally deserve all those treats and rewards for the incredible shirt-popping will-power you’re profiling.

Nobody will blame you when you boomerang around Valentine’s day, gaining back nine of the five pounds you lost before then. They’ll believe the “big boned” thing – at least when you’re in the room.

Keep in mind that nobody likes a successful New Year’s Resolution winner-bully – and everyone loves the story of a dramatic failure.

Remember, your friends will feel bad if you outdo them. Remember that victory laps are short-lived and elitist, while martyrdom and pining for unrequited success offers an endless source of conversation and attention. If you were to succeed, you would have to invent an entirely new line of conversation and basis for connecting to your friends.

BONUS:  21 things NOT to do in order to FAIL:

  1. Resolutions-01DO NOT allow your focus to stray from your deadline or the acquisition of the goal as if it were a product you could purchase from Walmart.
  2. DO NOT allow yourself to ever consider your resolution as an organic process or an activity you could commit to just doing regularly as a reward.
  3. DO NOT allow yourself to feel good about the activity or process or adventure of moving toward the person you want to be.
  4. DO NOT allow your resolution to become part of a lifestyle that involves new friends and new fun activities and new locations.
  5. DO NOT associate with people who are successful at happily achieveing and maintaining the same kind of goal you have.
  6. DO NOT adopt the beliefs and attitudes and habits of successful people. Instead, make sure you hang out with lots of people who “share your struggle” (but never succeed). Believe and complain as they do.
  7. DO NOT make a specific and scheduled plan for taking manageable, bite-sized actions on a consistent basis.
  8. DO NOT schedule and prioritize your consistent bite-sized actions on your calendar.
  9. DO NOT write the personal deeply-held values that relate to your goal – and your bite-sized actions next to them on the calendar where you’ve prioritized those actions within your schedule.
  10. DO NOT feel good about keeping those values-affirming appointments.
  11. DO NOT congratulate yourself or memorialize in writing the progress you create.
  12. DO NOT imagine and design goals unless the final decision lies with someone else.
  13. DO NOT focus on the parts of your progress that you most control.
  14. DO NOT take consistent meaningful action any time you can find something that “has to be done first” – and especially if you can find a way that someone else has to do it.
  15. NO NOT ever make a resolution of a reasonably achievable size.
  16. DO NOT measure progress toward a goal. Instead, always measure how large the incomplete portion is.
  17. DO NOT allow your focus (or that of your friends) to wander from the goal – or how dramatic your struggle is.
  18. DO NOT lose sight of how much attention you can get by failing.
  19. DO NOT make yourself lonely by winning your goal – thereby losing your connection with your friends who are also struggling with the same Resolution.
  20. DO NOT feel worthy or deserving – or like investing in yourself, your happiness, or your health. Instead, make sure to live down to the lowest opinion of yourself or the lowest social standing you can remember having.
  21. NEVER BELIEVE that Resolutions are about the outcomes of consistent practices or lifestyles. Instead, always imagine that resolutions – like a new flat-screen from Walmart – are the results of massive temporary efforts. And, like that flat-screen, their value is in lording it over your friends – for as long as passively doing that can last.

2014Please share your own New Year’s Resolution Fails below along with how you’re going to give yourself a do-over reboot in February. If you have comments or questions, please also share those and I’ll do my best to answer!

Posted in Cultivating Character, Decision-Making, Get Rid of Anxiety, High Performance, How to Be Happier, How to Stop Worrying, Procrastination, Self Esteem, Stopping a Bad Habit | Comments Off on 5 Ways to Fail Your New Year’s Resolution

Realistically Happy New Year 2014

There are no “negative people”, just “negative thoughts”.

My second “Happy New Year” post for 2014 is just that – a short set of remarks about how it is actually a HAPPY NEW YEAR.

So, I want to start the New Year talking about death – and in spite of media propaganda – the growing shortage of death we’re all having to live with.

Let’s start with life expectancy, world-wide:

shortage of death

Since 1950, we’ve been increasingly polluting this planet with life expectancy. It’s been going up all over. And, it’s getting worse. Next up is mortality for the Middle-aged in America (me and my high school peeps). The handy graph was from 1950 to 2010. Just take a look at this thing:

running out of death

I don’t know how you respond to seeing this, but it fills me with an almost reckless desire to go out and kick some ass of some kind.

And, there’s more news for the Middle-aged – this time world-wide.

Control

This graph takes a bit of interpretation, but take a minute and digest this:

  • Group I = Communicable Diseases (pneumonia, flu, etc)
  • Group II = NON-communicable Diseases (cancer, heart disease, etc)
  • Group III = Accidents and violence

People under 4 years old mostly die of contagious stuff. If you can make it to your 30’s contagious and non-contagious stuff are about equal.

But, if you can hang in until you’re 45, chances are you’ve learned to avoid accidents, and the vast majority of issues are Group II – stuff you control – like being fit and not smoking or drinking too much.

So, if you’re 45 or older, you’re almost forced to feel great – and just tolerate as much of that control as possible. There’s a good chance your New Year’s resolutions – if you actually keep them (how to do that in another post) could just force you to live longer!

And, all around us, people are getting that understanding – and at earlier ages. If you think the young people are carrying this place to hell in a hand-basket, check this out:

Cigarettes

Smoking rates even in teenagers have been coming down since 1998, and in 2011 they were acting smarter than their elders! If you aren’t careful, you could run the risk of becoming optimistic, here…

But, what about violence?

We all know – because the press keeps telling us how violent America is – and how the young people are the scariest – especially for us old farts. There must be some violence to be afraid about?

CDCviolentArrestRates

Contrary to “the news”, if youth crime were a stock you wouldn’t want to be holding any of it. This graph from the CDC says the violent crime arrest rate for youngsters has been sliding since 1995 – almost since I was in high school.

I think about how safe I felt in the world during my late teens and twenties – and realize young people are committing violent crimes at only HALF the rate they were when I was that age.

What’s the world coming to?

You may ask someone like Steven Pinker:


And, you’d learn that, boringly, the world is getting safer.

Many people have had financial difficulties during the past … well, since I graduated high school the purchasing power of minimum wage has declined, dragging part of our economy with it.

However…

While the cost of many things are going up and up, some of the best things in life are becoming more accessible and cheaper.

People like Pater Gabriel are giving away some of their newest, and possibly best stuff!

And, even as the cost of a college degree is rising, much of the education itself is becoming FREE – and accessible from your own couch.

Places like TED are providing “riveting talks by remarkable people, free to the world”. Going to the TED conference and sitting in the auditorium is a several-thousand-dollar proposition. But, you can get the videos, which you can pause while you fetch another notebook to write in, free on your couch.

There are also places like EDX are offering courses from MIT, Harvard, and Berkeley – for FREE.

Which leads us to connectivity – or, how many people are gaining access to this kind of FREE self-developing resource?

InternetUsers

Check out this graph of Internet connectivity from 1996 to 2012 – from only around 10% of the population in developed countries connected to something around 74% back in 2012. And, where do you think it is today?

And, that leads us to the intersection of education, entertainment, connectivity, and business because anyone with an iPhone or cheap flip camera – and some imagination – can produce movies; have their own television show; and make money doing it.

Check out Thug Notes: High-quality, Cliff’s Notes style summaries and interpretations of classic literature delivered in “thug” style.

Also, check out my friend Dashama Konagh’s Thirty Day Yoga Challenge.

These people are combining a passion for something they love – literature or physical health – and sharing the positive outcomes of their personal adventure-paths with others. The video camera and YouTube channels aren’t the end of this, but the beginning. There’s loads of hard work and learning involved.

But, the basic opportunity is waiting. Just like death and disease and crime and violence – Even as the press keeps saying we’re all doomed – and even as people have experienced some tough times – other ways of making a life (notice I didn’t say “getting a job”) are becoming more available than ever before.

My friend Chris Dunn just wrote:

“In 2013 we saw the strongest bull market in 7 years. Hopefully everyone made improvements, built some wealth, and had a lot of fun! Here’s to an incredible 2014!”

This guy makes his living day-trading – and teaching other people to do that. He, often does that from exotic locations in Thailand or other fascinating places. And, from where he’s sitting the economic tide is rising – not falling.

Which brings me to the second-to-last optimistic authority on my little tour:

Gary Vaynerchuk says:

“…This is the most practical time in the history of time to be an entrepreneur. If you even have one percent thought around doing it, do it – and not do it at the expense of anything other than your leisure … at the expense of watching Breaking Bad … can’t you give that up for a year to change your entire life?

There are no “negative people”,
just “negative thoughts”.

The most powerful thing a human can do is focus their thoughts. Those who do this transform themselves into winners – and infect the entire space around them with an aggravatingly optimistic and positive attitude.

If only everyone could feel that way. If only more people knew how…

This blog post was a demonstration.

The next one will reveal the blueprint and detailed how-to for those who want to own the process of creating powerful, transformational optimism.

If you have a story, comment, or question about the power of reality-based optimistic perspective, please share it below. I’ll do my best to answer.

Posted in Dealing with Fear, Decision-Making, Get Rid of Anxiety, High Performance, How to Be Happier, How to Stop Worrying, Stopping a Bad Habit | 1 Comment

Four Questions for Your New Year

January is “busy season” for self-development coaches and “improving myself” types. There’s blogging, and suggesting resolutions, and shtick about “killing it in the New Year”. It’s time to get the pump-up going – some loud music and strobe lights like a Tony Robbins seminar.

Try to create a bunch of emotional momentum and conjure commitment and inflate that will-power – as if we actually believe it’s going to last THIS year.

Because, with the list of “to-dos” and “tasks” and “goals” and “dead-lines” most people are going to put themselves under – and all the stress that’s likely to cause, it’s a wonder anyone gets started with anything.

And, we all know that will-power pump-up is going to go flaccid as the party balloons in a week or two, don’t we?

Personally, I like to sleep in late and get a relaxed, though well-focused and intent start. So, maybe you won’t mind if I skip all the New Years’ pressure-hype and do something much simpler – and hopefully more useful. We can come back to the limp will-power in a later post.

For my New Years’ blog, I just want to suggest asking FOUR questions – easy ones. They aren’t questions most people would expect. And, asking them in the right way may help you wake up to the new year with a different view.

Q1: What was your biggest lesson of the last year?

big lessonFor most people, that question will remind them of their biggest mistake of the year – something that may seem negative at first. But, if you think of the lesson as something you’ve already paid the tuition for – in time, money, heart-break, etc., you may see it differently.

Ask yourself: “If you’ve paid an expensive tuition, aren’t you entitled to some valuable learning?”

Think about what the “biggest lesson” cost you: Consider how valuable the learning ought to be based on that. If you are the subject of the lesson, and the content of that lesson is personal insight that is positive and empowering for your future – what will your notes about it look like?

Whatever mistakes you make, the cost is your tuition, and that is the amount of value you should get from them.

Think about it until you can honestly say you would not reverse your mistake if that meant giving up your learning. Sometimes, this takes more thought and notes than other times. But It’s almost always worth the effort.

In Motivational Literacy, we call this “error conversion”: You get to stop feeling bad about the mistake – and instead feel really good about learning something valuable.

It can take a little practice to get good at this. Luckily, there’s a “biggest lesson” available on a daily basis for most of us – if we bother to convert it. So, you can do this now for your previous year – and practice it on a weekly or even daily basis during the new one!

My Personal Biggest Lesson:

Last year, we learned to paraglide, and I made the mistake of 
letting that type A personality creep in to my "just for fun" 
activity. I pushed too hard, grasped too tightly - and in the 
end I learned more slowly and had less fun than I might have if I 
had remembered how to relax and play like a kid.

Of course, that was why I decided - at 50 - to finally do something 
just for fun (something I never do did) - to learn just that 
lesson. Again.

Tuition paid, and lesson learned. I've been having more fun the 
whole rest of the year because of it. And, even my "work" 
productivity has been going up and up as I've allowed myself to be 
more playful. I would call an overall increase in both productivity 
and happiness to be a great return on my investment!

Q2: What are you proudest of from last year?

what are you proud of?That’s a simple question.

Take the time to put the answer in writing – whether a private journal or a social media post doesn’t matter. Just acknowledge the achievement and let yourself feel good about it.

My Personal Proudest:

I'm going to stick with the Paragliding Project for this one as 
well. I took time away from "work", and spent more time with my 
wife having an adventure. The adventure included navigating 
frustrations of learning and schedules and weather and equipment. 
It also included facing fear and danger. We both had some phobic 
responses to free flight. I had a close call in some trees - and 
frightened into a trembling sweat in some turbulent air. We even 
had some physical pain from exertion and minor injuries.

After that, we dealt with the FAA to fly in restricted air space - 
and scouted and cleaned-up some launching and landing areas in our 
town. Along the way, we made new friends and have the beginnings 
of a local paragliding club.

Whatever your achievement was, feel especially good about it, and about the ways it had a positive influence on others. Think about it a bit – and see how much you feel like taking that thing to the next level – or maybe tackling something similar. Imagine what that could be. Invest some thought and notes, here, because the next question circles back to it…

Q3: In the New Year, where will you most make valuable use of those things?

anticipationThink about the valuable learning from your biggest lesson – and the things you learned around your biggest achievement of the year, too. Think about the feeling of wanting to do more of the thing you’re most proud of – or to take it farther.

Imagine how those things may come together in the New Year for you – to empower you to … something. Use these questions to explore that:

  • What do you think that something might be?
  • Where do you think it might happen?
  • Who do you think will be with you?
  • What will the first step of that feel like?

My Personal Anticipation:

Sticking with my paragliding adventure, the New Year is already 
very exciting. The lesson of playfulness along with the 
achievements of connections and technical skills are going to 
let us establish some great new flying locations for local 
pilots. And, along with those new friends, we're going to turn 
our town into a paragliding destination.

Just let your imagination fill in the blanks of your anticipation – and consider how interesting it could be if you were to write those things down about your own adventure – and then the same time next year see how they fit into the “lesson” and “achievement” questions.

There’s no pressure, here – just curiosity – and you may find the next (last) question increases that.

Q4: In the New Year, what are you most interested to learn more about?

curiosityThis is completely different from what you should feel most pressured to do!!

What are you most interested incurious about – to learn more, or to build a skill for?

Use the following questions to explore that:

  • How does that connect to your other answers?
  • Your biggest lesson of last year?
  • The thing you’re most proud of from last year?
  • What you may do to build on those things?
  • Even if your biggest fascination to learning and skill is completely different – what will it be about?
  • What will the first part of learning that be like?

My Personal Interests to Learn:

I'm going to learn more about ridge soaring, thermaling, and 
cross-country flying - as well as a great deal more about 
establishing landing zones. I've got some great friends to work 
this stuff with, and loads of open air with hawks also waiting 
for us to fly with them.

OK. There are more than four questions on this page. But, the extras are just to help you explore the four main ones.

While this may seem like the lazy-man’s slow-start to a New Year, remember: A great wave seems small as it forms out at sea. But, when it meets the beach it will be huge. As they say, you’ll get out what you put in.

Done right, answering of these four simple questions can form the ripple that becomes your personal tsunami of momentum for this year’s achievements – and fulfillment.

Please join the conversation by sharing your answers in the space below. Do the same with any comments or questions about adventures, Motivational Literacy – or how to change your life!

Posted in Decision-Making, High Performance, How to Be Happier, How to Stop Worrying, Self Esteem | 3 Comments

The Origin of Motivational Literacy ®

People ask about where Motivational Literacy® came from, and that opens a collection of stories that include my life-long curiosity to understand what makes people tick – and how they perform.

Being a small and sickly child, I was in more than my share of punch-ups as a kid. Being a bit brainy, I always pursued the smartest strategy I could find to be more successful.

From Karate school to Aikido school to Skydiving and to Bodyguard school, I studied how people perform under acute stress – and how that can be improved.

Later, I thought to extend performance enhancement beyond the physical or the violent and into the business, health, and wellbeing aspects of life.

I started with Tony Robbins’ material, following that by training with NLP creator Richard Bandler and his partner John LaValle, then hypnosis masters Michael Bennett, Janis Erikson, and several others.

Opening the Clinic

My wife and I opened Transforming Changes Hypnosis clinic in 2001, and continued intensive study, constantly putting both our brains into every case either of us worked on. I couldn’t have had a better partner for that adventure. Together, through both clinical practice and formal study, we began to unravel a number of secrets.

One of our studies was about “state chains” – a concept that’s been around for a while. The idea is that it’s easier to make a small shift of mood than a large one, and that many small shifts, or baby-steps, in the same direction will add up to a big change.

state chain

There’s also the idea that people tend to form habits: If someone had an existing habit of going from one mood to another, we could discover that and use it for a mood-shifting free ride, so to speak.

We planned to map-out client-specific patterns for use in hypnosis coaching. But, we quickly found the answers to our survey questions were incredibly consistent. So, we followed up by gathering a larger sample, surveying a few thousand people. We provided an emotion-word and asked them for the emotion that comes next for them.anger and frustration

 

For instance, the most common emotion after frustration is … anger.

 

 

motivational literacyWe organized the results by writing emotions on note cards and sorting them on the floor of our martial arts school, according to popularity of answer, and used strings to show the connections.

This became our map of the emotional landscape – a spatial reference to emotional states and how they connect and flow into each other. The arrangements and patterns we discovered made perfect sense from a biology perspective – and in the primitive context where our brains developed.

This simple discovery also opened the door to something profound: Navigating the emotional landscape is a bit like the old child’s game “Chutes and Ladders” in that when you land on certain emotional states, it’s natural and easy to slide directly into others. There seems to be a biological bias or a chemical inertia to do so…

Negative Emotion Vortex

One of the most important discoveries we made was about how “negative” emotions show that bias into other ineffective states. Once we are in an unpleasant or unproductive emotion there is a high probability that the next one we enter will also be unpleasant or ineffective.

anger management

For instance, immediately after intense anger the body feels tired or weak. And, many people feel embarrassment. Neither of those things contribute to effective interaction, creativity, or productivity.

anger and blame anger managementDuring our studies, we’ve discovered a number of circular patterns of negative emotions that we now call vortexes. Once a person is doing one of those patterns, there is a strong tendency to repeat them.

Motivational Literacy offers the opportunity to recognize – and the tools to exit such patterns. (There are also positively-charged vortexes – which we cultivate and use.)

For more on this – and specifically the issue of anger management through Motivational Literacy, see my blog post on that subject.

The Path of Fulfillment

Once again, we planned to make specific profiles for evaluating clients and tracking their progress. We interviewed them about their problem areas, tracking their paths in the landscape – and then about their most effective areas of life, tracking those as well.

What we found was striking: Though people had creative pathways for ineffectiveness and aggravation, everyone’s “path of fulfillment” was identical. There were no exceptions. Is this the biological basis for our experience of fulfillment? We think so…

The name Motivational Literacy comes from three things:

  1. We believe a basic understanding of the emotional landscape should be part of every human’s fundamental literacy – for knowing who they are; how they function; and how to get where they want to go – to the fulfilling life they are biologically entitled to living.
  2. The map is easy to navigate through language. The language we use spontaneously discloses our location, while a deliberate use of language can steer our course through the landscape.
  3. That use of language involves using one’s literacy through both reading and writing techniques – activities that enrich one’s life even as they help guide it’s growth.

One of the most wonderful things about Motivational Literacy is the discovery that if a person has ever done something that was fulfilling – that perhaps made them proud – the details of the fulfilling path are already within them. All they need to experience of fulfillment are the tools to navigate that pathway again. And if they have no such experience, they can use the same tools to follow the well-worn pathway established by others.

Motivational Literacy® offers those tools. They are so simple and easy to use that anyone who can read and write can put them to work and change their life.

I’d like to know about how helpful this post is – and how I can contribute to your success with whatever you’re struggling with right now. Participate in the community by leaving a comment below!

Posted in Uncategorized | Comments Off on The Origin of Motivational Literacy ®

Change Your Life With Facebook #1

change  your life with facebookThis is one of a series on How to Change Your Life With Facebook using Motivational Literacy.

This morning, I was scrolling the FaceBook feed, looking for some mental breakfast – some savory mental morsel to jump-start the neurons.

Of course, I was greeted by the usual parade of violence, outrage, shock, conspiracy, partisanship, and paranoia.

There was even a fantasy about being the devil – which seemed an odd posting for one of those uber-Christian types. You’d think they’d be pretending themselves a saint, or angel, or even God – rather than the devil.

What do political rants, conspiracy theories, and end-times prophecy have in common – besides not creating good emotions to accompany an actual breakfast?

Then, I came across a posting from a Yoga teacher friend, talking about finding one’s balance through (her) Hot Yoga class – which, on the surface, could look like self-promotion. But, an invitation to someone’s hot yoga class is far more than some hipster version of Amway.

There’s LOTS more going on here. And, it’s the stuff that makes the difference in lives, in fulfillment, even physical health. It reminds me of a story my Aikido instructor used to tell:

An old man lived on top of a mountain, greeting travelers as 
they passed. 

One asked: "What are the people like in that next valley?"

The old man thought a moment and then inquired: "What are the 
people like where you are from?"

The traveler replied: "They are greedy, deceitful, mean-spirited, 
and not to be trusted."

The old man said: "I think the people you meet will be just like 
the ones you're used to."

The next day, another traveler asked the same question: "Old man, 
what are the people like in that next valley?"

Again, the old man inquired: "What are the people like where 
you are from?"

The traveler replied: "They are friendly, helpful, and mostly 
trustworthy."

And, the old man again said: "I think the people you meet will be 
just like the ones you're used to."

That’s a fun fable about finding what we expect – what we are already looking for.

But, how is it useful?

In Motivational Literacy, we study the relationship between what we notice (pay attention to) and what we feel, emotionally. We say: “Pay attention to what you’re paying attention to.

All emotional states are “performance states”, because whatever our state, it’s the performance state for whatever we’re doing. And, the brain is a predicting machine to prepare us for our activity.

The three step process:

  1. Collect information to interpret;
  2. Interpret the information (assign meaning);
  3. Set the body’s automatic systems and brain chemistry (performance state).

Once in a state, we tend to select information that helps maintain a continuity of experience – a seamless flow of emotion. We don’t notice it doing that because it’s automatic.

The only time we notice an abrupt shift of emotion is if we’re surprised – or in the case of humor. The structure of humor is to set up one state and then abruptly shift it to:

A rubber chicken is always funny – because it’s always a wild change of context.

So, Canadians have an ability to notice the things nobody else is thinking of. They’re good at being constantly just a bit out-of-context – especially from unhappy things. (Yes, I changed “comedians” for “Canadians” on purpose – it’s out of context – see how that changed your focus?)

Which brings us back to the FaceBook feed.

What do political rants, conspiracy theories, and end-times prophecy have in common?

  1. They offer information that helps produce emotions like shock, outrage, anger – and especially fear.
  2. They focus attention on things that are scary – and about which we have no real control. That fear is useful for getting us to hand-over money – to politicians, or churches – or for the purchase of upset stomach medicine.

Once in a state of outrage or fear, there’s a natural, survival-based tendency to seek more similar information from our environment. In nature, that would be fine – the fear one gets at hearing a rattlesnake sound is useful for generating a sharp visual search for the snake itself.

Connected to the Internet, this natural tendency quickly runs amok – and the search engine filters even help – by providing “related links” to whatever we searched for.

Like the first traveler above, we will find lots more of whatever we already found.

An invitation to a hot yoga class, on the other hand, is like that other traveler:

  1. We begin by finding something that promotes emotions like calmness, relaxation, and self-acceptance.
  2. It is also about something ACTIONABLE – something within our power to do and create a change immediately.

Two things: class of emotions, and actionability.

Our biology-based handicap is – following one fearful bit of information to another was once a survival-enhancing strategy. We found that poisonous snake – and then went on about our day. And, it wasn’t a big deal, once relaxed, to find more things to be relaxed about.

That was then, this is now – when more people are killed by stress-related illness than by all the rattlesnakes, robbers, and plane-crashes combined.

So, next time you have the entire planet just a mouse-click away, don’t mindlessly consume “interesting”: A strange insect is “interesting” – that doesn’t mean it would be good to consume it: Pay attention to what you’re paying attention to.

Remember whatever you consume creates your state – and will bias your attention to “similar links”.

If you really want to maximize your personal fulfillment, follow links that meet just two rules:

  1. The KIND of information they offer will lead to USEFUL emotional performance states.
  2. The KIND of information they offer will lead to ACTIONS you can do to immediately improve yourself or your corner of the universe.

Studies have demonstrated biology will do the rest. The more you notice – and act – on what’s possible to do now, the more new possibilities you will notice.

Which part of this post was most useful or interesting or unexpected?

How are you going to use it?

What are you struggling with right now that Motivational Literacy could help with?

When you share below I’ll reply..

Posted in Get Rid of Anxiety, How to Be Happier, How to Stop Worrying | Comments Off on Change Your Life With Facebook #1