Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Quote - Anthony Robbins: moments of decision

"It is in your moments of decision that your destiny is shaped"- Tony Robbins. You may think you are making decisions all the time - and you are - but not the big ones. Look back over the last five to 10 years. Can you make a list of the signifcant decisions that you have made? What was the impact? How did your life change as a result? What did you learn? You'll probably be amazed to discover how dramatically things shifted from before to after. Hopefully for the better!

Right now, though, are you making decisions? Is there some decision you are putting off? Do you have some inner yearning that you keep putting on hold?

Only when we take decisive action and open ourselves up to randomness (also known as "taking a leap of faith"!) can miracles unfold... Perhaps, in the queue for miracles, you're up next! But if you don't show up to collect it, then how will you know?

Quote - Alex Noble - spirit of the journey
The pursuit of happiness - good books about happiness
Allowing yourself to feel good


Three single girls in a bar

Attractive, interesting, hard-working single women invest a lot of time wondering why they haven't been snapped up by a decent guy. Is it a "man drought"? I don't think so. One Friday night a few weeks ago I was out with some friends. The room was full, guys and girls out and about seeking connection. The conversation turned to men and the desires of my girlfriends to find a partner.

I was listening with one part of my brain and observing with the other. They were animated, passionate, sincere. One girl was dating a guy who was completely inappropriate: "Oh, no way! He's not for me." She told us a few things about him and we were outraged: "But that's not respectful! You deserve to be treated better than that!". Yet she sees him maybe five nights a week... We suggested she wasn't leaving space in her life to meet someone who was "for her".

"I know," she said, "But it kind of suits me for now. I'm going to break up with him after he gets back from his holiday at the end of the month."

Someone else chipped in with her story. Upset, mis-match, disappointment... etc etc yadda yadda blah blah blah. Let's face it - if it was true love they'd have been living happily ever after right?

Just near us at the other end of the table, a group of neatly dressed, talkative and seemingly friendly guys were sitting. They kept looking our way. The girls were oblivious. They had formed a huddle around the table.

"Those guys keep looking our way. Should we open up the circle so they can join in?" I suggested. A couple of friends of friends had arrived. There were now six girls sitting together.

"Those guys?" said one friend, Sally. "None of them are my type."


But then, neither is the guy she is dating. (And what if one of them WAS the type of one of her friends?)

Suddenly, things became very clear to me.

Firstly, more women are born than men. Men are more likely to die between the ages of 19 and 34 than women due to misadventure. Men are very clear about many of their desires - for example, they like sex and work out very early on that the best way to get it regularly is to have a girlfriend or partner (even if she is not their perfect match).

At the same time, a whole generation of women have been educated, created careers, and entered the workforce with fewer barriers - in work and life - than their mothers before them. They work hard and often long hours. They get home tired. Their needs and expectations have changed but they retain a romantic view of love. Hurt once or twice they shut down, close themselves off. The no longer seek to lock eyes with someone across a crowded room. Instead, they wait in the corner of a bar with their backs turned huddled together waiting for some shining knight to walk up, tap them on the shoulder and say "I could tell from the way your hair hangs down your back that you and I were made for each other - can I give you my number and take you out for coffee sometime?"

Not going to happen.

I felt sorry for the guys we were sitting near. Okay, so they were loud and maybe not our type but they were having a good time, and clearly a couple of them in particular were keen to meet someone. Why else did they keep looking our way, making friendly gestures?

The girls were clear that they wanted a partner. Step 2, as I saw it that night, was to open up enough to allow some kind of connection - even a superficial laugh in a crowded bar with a random stranger who is "not your type". With practice, who knows, maybe eventually they'll discover a genuine and lasting connection or fabulous friendship.

Dinner with friends
Allowing yourself to feel good
Finding joy in each day

Friday, June 5, 2009

"I hate my job", he said.

A friend of mine is so unhappy with his job he thinks death is a better option, but he feels obligated to stick it out - he has car payments to make, debts to pay, responsibilities. I was speaking with him the other day and I found the conversation very alarming. Even his doctor had suggested he seek additional help - medication, counselling or similar. "Is Prozac the answer to everything?" my friend asked.

Okay, so he doesn't want to turn to drugs, and he knows that by not making one of two choices right now he is putting his life at risk: quit the job or take the drugs. To an outsider the answer may be obvious - get a new job - but I really felt for him: sometimes when we are "in it" we either can't see the solution or can't find the motivation to act on what we know we "should" do.

As we spoke - and a short conversation turned into a very long one - it became clear to me that as trapped as he felt by his job, he also felt trapped by his life. He was living in a world of expectations - and, in his view, not living up to those expectations. Not only did he have a very heavy workload in a nasty environment for not enough money, he was comparing himself to his friends and family and - in his own eyes - falling way short of the mark.

I asked him if perhaps he could sell the car, given the car payments were a major burden that kind of perpetuated his need to stay in an unpleasent, unrewarding job. "Oh no no no! I can't sell the car!" he said. To me this seemed illogical - keep the car but kill himself? A very extreme case of not being able to see the wood for the trees... Because let's not get confused about this: depression can be fatal. Just like a heart attack. It is not to be taken lightly.

So here I was, in the middle of a very intense conversation with someone I care about trying to help him towards some kind of "light-bulb" moment. I came to understand that his beautiful car was actually the only thing that gave him any self-esteem. Lose the job, lose the car; but lose the car and lose his primary source of wellbeing. Which was a kind of death anyway.


I'm not sure if he had a light bulb moment but I did: I realised that when we narrow our vision and seek our joy (or find hope) in just one or two things or people or situations we make ourselves vulnerable to despair. When other things stop going well (or our expectations are not met) we feel trapped... and we are, kind of, because we have backed ourselves into a corner... we have created a situation where perhaps that one source of joy (no matter how amazing) is not enough to balance out some of the really yucky other stuff.

And yet, can you see the flip side? We may NOT have created the situation at work, in our marriage, family or community but we DID create the situation that narrowed our opportunities for joy, and because we were a creator in one way, we also have a possibility for creating something new if what we created before is no longer sustaining us.

My friend is still struggling - a very close friend of his died tragically recently (yet another blow) - but my friend has a new hobby. He is playing in a band, just mucking around on weekends in someone's garage mostly. He loves it, and he's quite good. Slowly, he is building up his repotoire for joy.

Making yourself instantly happier - good books about happiness
Practicing gratitude
Three single girls in a bar
Quote - Anthony Robbins - moments of decision