Monday, September 18, 2017

Monday Fun Day

I am so used to people experiencing Monday morning as a drag, or disappointing, or the worst day of the week.  This morning I was greeted at my gym by a new staff person who told me he loved Mondays.  I feel fairly certain I shook my head like dogs in the movies, what?!   I needed a moment to take it in.  A celebration?!  I am all over this one!
My reply.  “Of course.  If you love your life, Mondays are wonderful”.  We shared a moment of joy.

Opportunity knocks.

This guy (I’ll call him Mike) told me he sees Mondays as a time to reset.  That Monday is an opportunity to think about what you want to happen and Monday is the perfect day to hit the refresh button.

William James, commonly referred to as the "Father of American Psychology" and working in the late 1800s, would agree with my new friend Mike.  His quote “The sovereign voluntary path to cheerfulness . . . is to sit up cheerfully, to look round cheerfully, and to act and speak as if cheerfulness were already there. . . To wrestle with a bad feeling only pins our attention on it, and keeps it still fastened in the mind.” speaks to this.

Interesting thing is, that my experience changed in this shared moment with Mike.  Not only was I relieved of my dread of hearing someone share with me the usual ‘Mondays suck’.  I wasn’t even aware of it til he said something different.  I felt surprisingly both relieved and happy.  As pack animals, humans are neurologically hardwired to respond to the emotions of another human to determine safety, etc.  Who we hang out with makes a big difference in the quality of our lives.  [I will write more ~one day ~ on the science behind this.  For now, just for grins, assume it is true].

Even more compelling is that it works the other way as well.  What you think, say and do impacts all the people around you. 


What experience are you promoting for the people you say you care about?


Next time you find you want to share a complaint with a friend or loved love, first consider how that will impact their health.  Knowing that some of the distress you are feeling will likely be experienced by that person (think about it like second hand smoke).  With that in mind, what would you like to experience yourself and for your friend as well?  Is whatever you are about to say necessary?  It is helpful?  Is it actually even true? 

Say this, not that.

Of course I am going to go here.  NEEDS.  I am a broken record inviting you to think about your needs before doing or saying anything.  Two ways I am suggesting here. 

First, consider the need you want to meet by communicating with your friend.  Is the complaint going to meet it?  Is there something else that might be more effective?  What is something that you can say that shares the truth of what is alive for you, and might generate more enthusiasm, power in your world and connection between the two of you as well.

The other is to consider what needs of yours is meeting to be involved with work or whatever it is that you actually don’t like (or dread?) Mondays.  What needs are met by your choice of this job, or lifestyle?  If you focus on the choice you are making, rather than believing the idea that whatever is happening is completely outside of your control.  You might find a sense of empowerment and freedom by doing this.   

Then truly Monday (and every day ~ for the most part) can be FunDay!

Thursday, August 31, 2017

Upping Your Gratitude Game

I spent this past week with my long time partner Steve.  Both SuperGeeks for Nonviolent Communication we tend to talk about and philosophize about how to be, do and teach NVC a great deal of the time when we are together.  A cool thing happened this visit.

We usually put together a list of things we might do upon my arrival.  After our trip to see the eclipse [a truly ecstatic experience], we chose to participate in more projects than we originally anticipated while I was in North Carolina.  It made for tight scheduling, lots of thinking, and lots of opportunity to be in distress. 

We began to notice our capacity to ‘forget to enjoy life’ and even drop into complaint (albeit only in tone of voice at times), with some regularity and we decided to support ourselves in finding joy!  Steve’s request was to support his return to joy by inviting him to share what he is grateful for if and when I noticed his grumpy attitude.  He was far grumpier than I, and more often than I, in my opinion (hehe).

What Happened?

What ended up happening was pretty amazing and fun!

Working on some hard, complicated projects late into the night, we had a few [read more than you might imagine] opportunities to implement our plan.  What ended up happening, is the both of us spontaneously just broke into gratitudes if the other had complaint energy. This happened instead of me reminding him…or him reminding me.  It seemed more efficient somehow – not that either of us thought about it – to just begin announcing our gratitudes.  Because of our competitive nature the other would then start calling out their gratitudes too! 

It was so much fun!  All of a sudden I would hear Steve scream out, “I love my knees!, I appreciate the sun!,  I am so grateful for my life!”  In an instant I knew I must have had complaint energy and broke out into my own shouts of appreciation, “I love my hair!, My body supports me!, I love my fingernails!”  And then we would laugh and laugh.   Instant energy shift.

More than joy.

While this new way of being was just delightful, we noticed something more.  Pretty much all the week something new happened consistently.

Here are a few examples. 

This same project we were working on late into the night.  We were putting something together that we bought online.  We were pretty certain that critical parts were missing.  As we got bummed out and found our joy again, we decided to just keep going until we could not continue without the missing part.  Our friend walked in to check up on our progress.  He was one of the people we were hoping to contribute to by doing this.   We told him of our dilemma of the missing pieces.  Instantly he noticed that two pieces were connected and in fact, not missing!  Not only were we able to celebrate his saving the day, we were able to complete the job that night!

It turned out that I needed to buy new tires while in Asheville.  This was very much NOT part of our plan and since I was driving home 600 miles the next day, my safety became the priority need.  We were also hosting an event that evening – just hours away that we wanted to create materials for.  We decided to work while waiting.  The tire place was in strip mall. 

Not wanting to sit inside and breathe the fresh scent of rubber tires in the store, we were looking to a teeny strip of green to sit on and get to work.  We had a few opportunities to shout our gratitudes – needless to say.  The most astounding part was how easy this was to do.

We walked toward the far end of the lot.  What did we find?  A park!  At a river’s edge.  With tables and benches.  Lots of green space and quiet.  Right there.  [Steve has lived in Asheville for close to 20 years, and been to that strip mall many, many times, never knowing it was that this park was tucked away in the back corner of the parking lot, just for context of the miraculousness of this].

We Upped Our Gratitude Game

Steve and I were crystal clear that staying in the gratitude consciousness ~ upping our gratitude game ~ allowed some kind of opening for us to create and/or to see what we were hoping for.  Consistently.  It was remarkable.

Say This Not That

I would like you to take my word for it, and just do this too.  And, it really doesn’t matter.  Don’t take my word for it and just do this.

Find a buddy, or do it on your own.  Commit to changing your point of view the instant you notice you want to complain.  Try it for a day.  Or better yet a week.  I will be curious to read your comments to hear what happens for you!

Friday, August 25, 2017

What Difference Does it Make?

While doing errands recently, I found myself behind an SUV on a fairly busy street.  I was talking with a good friend on the phone and I watched a wrapper (gum?  candy?) fly out the window.

I said to my friend on the phone, “Someone just threw a candy wrapper out the window”.  It was obvious to both of us that what I didn’t say was my thought, “What a jerk!  That person is the cause of many of the problems the world faces.  Litterer!”  I am fairly confident that in a span of 20 seconds, even more ‘jackal’ thoughts whizzed through my mind.

My friend said, almost immediately, “Oh, they must have precious needs for ease and cleanliness.”  In an instant I got that in 30 seconds the quality of my life changed.

The one thing we have control over is our thoughts.  And the quality of our lives is directly related to what we put our attention on.  In the minutes after I watched the wrapper come out of the auto in front of me, I became unhappy, feeling almost hopeless and helpless about the state of the world, and aggravated with the unknown person in front of me.

Certainly I have precious needs for care, compassion, beauty and a healthy planet.  So seeing the wrapper come out the driver’s window stimulated pain for me.  Had I focused immediately on these precious needs, a few things might have happened.  Those 30 seconds to one minute might have been less stressful on my body (stress state = physical inflammation, more on this in another blog).  I might have come up with a strategy to have those needs met.  For example, I might have immediately thought ‘I am going to plant something to offset the trash, or possibly decided that I am going to sweep up the trash from my street’.  Those moments of aggravation didn’t allow for the creativity necessary to meet my own needs. 

Had I connected to my own needs, and been curious about the possible needs for the person in the car, then had we somehow engaged in conversation, there would be an increased likelihood that I might say something that was connecting.  In my jackal thoughts, I think either my words or energy or both would have indicated to that person that I thought they were a jerk, and likely they would defend, get angry back at me, and you can imagine the rest.  Nothing inspiring to me.

So what difference does it make what I think?
1.  The quality of my health.
2.  The possibility of connection with another human living life here with me.
3.  Having the creativity to actually get my needs met.

Say This Not That. 

Read a few of these and notice how you feel (emotions and in your body) when each giraffe and jackal thought.  See if you can notice a difference.
1.  She is so selfish, and doesn’t care about anyone but herself.  vs.  I so appreciate that she is confident in her choices and has the capacity to ask for what she wants. 
2.  What a stupid question, why are they wasting my time in this class.  vs.  This seems so difficult for them, I wonder what is in the way of them understanding what is being taught.

3.  He always is taking over the meetings, talking too much.  vs.  He seems to care so much about our project.  I think I connect more to him to see what meaning it has for him.

Try this! 

Next time you find yourself judging whether someone or something is good or bad, or right or wrong, consider the impact on your life.   See if you can translate your judgmental thoughts into the precious needs that are causing your own distress.