Category Archives: Dynamically Peaceful Attitude

America’s #1 Stressor (Money) and How to Overcome It

Money is the #1 worry for Americans, according to the Stress in America survey released by the American Psychological Association. And here’s the problem with stressing over money. Financial stress not only means you’re short on money, it also means you’re short on the brain power you  need to resolve money problems.

The stress from worrying about money can lower your IQ by 40 percent. That’s nearly half your smarts, which means you’ll lack the cognitive and creative capacity to not only resolve your current lack of cash, but also to carry out a plan to lift you out of debt and scarcity.

Compounding matters is that people with diminished IQs tend to be less happy and in poorer health. Thus, your attitude is likely to be pessimistic, your energy low, and the brain circuits in charge of creative problem-solving switched off. Your stressed brain locks into a vicious stress loop, making you perform the same unproductive things over and over, instead of coming up with a better idea, which is why you never seem to get ahead.

But don’t stress.

YOU CAN CHANGE THIS PICTURE

You can recover the brain power to move your life forward, even in the midst of a cash flow crisis.  Raising your credit score starts with lowering your stress level, and it’s simpler than you might imagine.  Abraham Lincoln said, Let no feeling of discouragement prey upon you, and in the end you are sure to succeed.

Consider Ursula Burns. She was raised by her single mother in a housing project on the Lower East Side, back when the Lower East Side was an impoverished neighborhood with a scarcity of opportunity to advance. Ursula and her mother didn’t let the lack of money dampen their attitude or vision.  Her mother ironed shirts to put Ursula through college, and Ursula kept her eye on the prize. She is now the CEO and chairwoman of Xerox, and the first African-American woman to run a Fortune 500 Company.

The journey from the poverty of the Lower East Side to the boardroom was not launched and propelled along by a stressed brain losing IQ. It was fueled by a can-do attitude. Ursula Burns says, The best way to change it is to do it … And then after a while you become it, and it’s easy.

THREE SIMPLE TOOLS

Taking the stress out of a financial problem is so simple you might initially think it couldn’t possibly work.  Research proves otherwise.  Click here for the three things you can do to make the change.

The Good Life

I’ve written two books on stress, and the latest one I boldly entitled The End of Stress.  Now when I’m out on book tours, or presenting keynotes and seminars people ask me if I’ve ended stress in my life, once and for all.

The truth is we end stress in the present moment—right here, right now—not once and for all. We either end stress by choosing to be undaunted and at peace the moment a stressor raises its head … or we don’t. Peace is the polar opposite of stress and anxiety. It instills a calmer, clearer perspective that in turn generates much better brain function.

More often than not, becoming stress-free is a correction we make to be at peace, after we’ve allowed a stressor to grow into a mental storm, like I did one Saturday morning cleaning the house. The way I was going about my chores was stressful to the point of making me edgy and negative. I started out fighting with a broken appliance I had to fix and feeling irritated with one of the screws that wouldn’t unscrew. It was as if a trickster god was tightening the screw as I was trying to loosen it.

Next, I was annoyed at having to unload the dishwasher. As I went about cleaning the rooms, it seemed there was ten times more work than usual. I felt victimized that there was no one to help me, and I was wishing I had the money to afford a housekeeper, the lack of which intensified my bad mood.

Then, mercifully, I caught myself in the middle of an unhappy string of self-pitying, resentful thoughts. I stopped with the chores for a moment and practiced not believing any of the thoughts my bad mood was thinking. I managed to let go of thinking altogether, and gave my mind the chance to quiet down. I made the conscious choice to be at peace with whatever chores I had left. As I made this commitment, lines I’d memorized years ago from a poem by D. H. Lawrence came to mind:

As we live, we are transmitters of life.
And when we fail to transmit life, life fails to flow through us.
Give, and it shall be given unto you
is still the truth about life. . . .
It means kindling the life-quality where it was not,
even if it’s only in the whiteness of a washed pocket-handkerchief.

As I recited the lines, my attitude shifted. At that very moment, a cloud blocking the sun passed and the sunlight poured through the windows and lit up the room. All at once, everything was OK. I was calm and my mind was much happier. I felt alive and awake, as bright as the sunlight. It surprised me, as it always does when I rediscover how vibrant inner peace actually makes a human being. Peace is not just a sweet sentiment on a holiday card; it’s the quality that makes the mind dynamic and expansive (the complete opposite of what stress does to the mind).

I looked around to see what chores still remained, and set upon them. Work flowed like a dance. As I was raking the last of the leaves in front of the house, a bird flying by caught my eye, and I watched it land in the Japanese maple tree across the street.

www.canstockphoto.com

www.canstockphoto.com

It was autumn and the maple leaves had all turned scarlet red. Some of the leaves had shed, creating a velvet blanket of red on the sidewalk.  I looked down the street and noticed that the sycamores had shed half of their leaves. Their network of dull gray branches were now exposed that the autumn light turned silver in places. From where I stood, the street gradually sloped down to the avenue, and across the avenue was a large field covered in brown decaying grass with shoots of new green grass emerging from the decay. Overhead a falcon, fluttering in midair, scanned the field for prey. And above this small but beautiful corner of the world was a pale blue autumn sky. For a moment, I felt at one with the world.

As I turned to go back inside the house, I thought if I hadn’t shifted my attitude, I would never have experienced that moment of splendor. I thought of Carl Rogers, the great American psychologist, and his idea of the good life, by which he simply meant being well, then doing well on your way to flourishing. For Rogers, the good life emanated first and foremost from “being well.” This is what the research on happiness shows. Only 10% of what makes us happy is attributable to our circumstances. A positive, peaceful attitude is four times more likely to achieve the good life. It’s has a bigger impact on our quality of life than making more money, getting a better job, or, as in my case that day, being able to afford a housekeeper.

The more we make the correction to peace, the more it becomes our attitude, and the better our life goes. The good life is not so much a set of circumstances or even a fixed state of mind as it is the direction in which our attitude is pointed. To quote Ernest Holmes:

“If everyday things are a little better, a little more harmonious, a little more health giving and joyous; if each day we are expressing more life, then we are going in the right direction.”

De-stressing the Holidays Couldn’t Be Simpler

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Thanksgiving through New Year’s is the time in America when we celebrate peace – at least in theory. It’s the time of year we’re encouraged to remember that peace on earth begins with peace in our own hearts. So, the cure to holiday stress is simple. Make the holidays about the opposite of stress, which is peace, which is the one thing the holidays are meant to be about. Make peace the quality you aspire to be every day this holiday season. Peace is not hard; stress is hard. Peace is incredibly simple. The more you practice peace, the easier it gets, and the easier your life becomes. Below are ten simple qualities of peace and directly below each box is a simple approach to achieving each quality. Look them over and choose the ones that speak to you and your situation, then turn it into a daily practice. Qualities and Practices for a Peaceful Holiday 1. Peace is quiet, so each morning this holiday season wake up a little earlier ahead of the rush. Start your day in quiet in a place where you won’t be disturbed.

  • Follow your breathing.
  • Imagine each breath softening your heart and opening it wider.
  • Feel appreciation for the gift of another day of life.
  • Feel appreciation for another day to be with the ones you love.
  • Set the intention to have a great day, achieving meaningful results in your work.
  • Equally, set the intention to succeed at love, peace and joy.

2. Peace is rejuvenating, so take breaks and catch your breath.

  • Every couple of hours each day, step away from the rat race.
  • Observe what the sky is doing.
  • Watch the wind blow, the sun shine, or the snow fall.
  • Allow yourself to feel connected to life.

3. Peace is grateful. So, once a week, before going to sleep, count your blessings.

  • Name three things that happened during the previous week for which you are grateful.
  • Then name three things of your life, generally, for which you feel blessed.

4. Peace is spacious. Now and then, take a time-out to open your mind a little wider.

  • Tell yourself to go a little slower, and not to be so nervous or negative.
  • Open your heart a little wider.
  • Practice thinking less and loving more.
  • Tell yourself and often that everything is going to be alright.
  • Refocus your attention on this moment, right here, right now, and allow life to surprise you.

5. Peace is forgiving. So forgive the past.

  • Forgive everyone, including yourself.
  • Forgive every bad thing that has happened, is happening now, and is sure to happen again.
  • Forgive the past so completely that you’re standing in the present facing the future with vision.

6. Peace is intelligent. It takes the middle way and stays balanced.

  • Peace doesn’t eat too much or spend too much or withhold too much.
  • Peace doesn’t argue, defend or complain.
  • It changes the things it can change, accepts the things it can’t change, and it can tell the difference between the two.
  • Peace is not co-dependent. It’s no one’s fool and no one’s doormat. It’s smart enough to walk away from dysfunction and stand out of harm’s way.

7. Peace is self-confident. It doesn’t worry.

  • So don’t worry about anything this holiday season.
  • Pracitce letting go of outcomes and trusting the process.

8. Peace is compassionate, so don’t judge.

  • Don’t judge yourself when you slip up, become stressed, or behave badly.
  • The same goes for other people’s mistakes, nonsense, and blunders.
  • Let it all go and start over, renewing your intention to be at peace.

9. Peace is flexible. It lets you into its house through the back door as well as the front door.

  • If you are not at peace, use the back door. Be at peace with your non-peace.

10. Peace has faith. It’s an attitude of faith and trust.

  • There is no degree of stress in any situation that faith cannot soften.
  • Often the problem in life is not the situation we face but the lack of faith with which we face it.

It’s a no brainer. You will have a happier, less stressful holiday if you commit to practicing even three of the above. The better angels of your nature will come out and create a holiday to remember.

Practice Makes Perfect

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How do you locate the eye of the storm during a stressful day and remain there?

How do you dissolve the negative thoughts and destructive emotions that pull you back into the storm?

How do you ground your life in peace and still improve your life situation in a chaotic world?

The answer is practice, or more specifically, practicing peace.

Practice is taking the right step repeatedly until the right step takes you effortlessly, almost automatically, in the direction you want to go. If you’ve attended my webinar, read my book, or simply visited this blog, you now understand the neurological importance of peace.  You now understand the power of peace to generate the brain function to deliver an optimal life experience, in your career and in your personal life. After all is said and done, peace is what matters in life.

That’s because higher brain function depends on you consistently cultivating an attitude of peace, until your experience becomes dynamically peaceful. As you do, your brain wires for it, infusing peace into every step you take.

Practice takes discipline, and discipline is simply remembering what it is you want and then choosing it consistently. The discipline of peace makes it easier to remember to choose it, simply because it delivers what you want, and there is nothing more motivating than getting what you want.  The shift from stress to peace is the difference between feeling poorly and feeling alive. It is the difference between confused, lackluster, and disconnected, and clear, bright, and resonant. It is the change from feeling besieged by problems to the experience of flourishing. What could be more deserving of your effort and intent than a result that gives you this?

This raises a fundamental question for you to consider: do you truly want peace, enough to meet its conditions?

By now, you should understand its worth to you, neurologically, physically, cognitively, emotionally, and spiritually. What could you possible want other than peace? Do you want the delight of using your talent, skill, and intelligence to the fullest in achieving what is meaningful to you? Do you want a deep sense of enjoyment that transforms work into the joy of excelling? Peace offers it. Do you want a quietness that cannot be threatened, a self-confidence that cannot be unsettled, and a vitality that does not fade? Do you want the capacity to meet daily demands with energy and enthusiasm, and return home at day’s end, able to be the person you long to be with the ones you love? Peace bestows this.

“Human life by its very nature has to be dedicated to something,” stated the great Spanish philosopher, José Ortega y Gasset. What offers more than dedicating your life to being at peace?

Yet most of us have been looking for peace in all the wrong places. At workshops, I used to conduct a short exercise called “Making a Wish.”  This segment was intentionally positioned immediately after presenting three studies that showed a weak relationship between the amount of money you possess and your satisfaction with life. Billionaires are not happier than those with average incomes. The Irish, who were comparatively poor at the time of the study, tested happier than the much wealthier Japanese. In America, where income had doubled in constant dollars between 1960 and 1990, the percentage reporting that they were happy remained steady at 30 percent. During the exercise, people were asked to imagine that they had found the magic lantern that granted three wishes. What do you think people choose? It was rare indeed that anyone wished for lasting peace. Overwhelmingly, people wished for things, with money topping the list.

When our sights are primarily on the pot of gold at the end of the rainbow, we miss the rainbow. Often those who chase material wealth much of their lives come to a moment of truth, when they recognize that something vital is missing. What they have missed is the experience of peace, and the joy, enlightenment, and connection it bestows.

It all comes back to practice. Through practice, we are building the brain structure to change stress to ease, fear to peace, powerless to powerful. Through practice, we construct a new autopilot that is wired for a higher, more humane, more loving, more fiercely alive intelligence that can achieve everything we want.

Get started with choosing peace, by clicking the picture at the top or here to download the 30-Second time out for peace.

Hate Work? You Can Make Work a Peak Experience, Each and Every Day.

First, the bad news: In a national survey people were asked what their ideal job would be, if they had the power to choose it.  Interestingly, nearly 70 percent said they’d choose the job they currently have.  So, you might think it follows that most of us enjoy our work, but it doesn’t.  The survey also asked people two questions that relate to the peak experience of being at the top of your game. The answers from the people surveyed did not indicate job satisfaction.

When asked how often they experience an “emotional high” at work, the majority said once a week. When asked how often they become so absorbed in their work that they ‘lose track of time’, an even larger majority said once a week.

This paints a depressing picture.  It suggests that 80% of the time you’re not in the zone.  Eighty percent of the time you’re not testing, discovering, and gradually fulfilling your innate potential. It means you’re not living fully, finding joy in your work and the peaceful satisfaction at the end of the day for what you contributed. It suggests that the talent and strength you possess is not in a state of flourishing; it’s in a state of atrophy.

You can turn it around

Life is short and most of your life is spent at work.  So if this 80% lackluster experience of work is true for you, it’s imperative that you find a way to turn it around, in favor of making your best day happen almost every day.

Three simple steps can begin to turn things around, if done consistently.

STEP-1: Remembering your higher self

Step-1 is illuminating that peak experience of you at the top of your game.  Here’s how:

  • Write down five qualities that capture your experience when you’re at the top of your game.  Keep the description of each quality to one word or a short phrase. This describes you when you’re in the zone, when you’ve reached that state of flow and you’re running on all cylinders, making things happen.
  • Next, look over the list and let yourself experience each quality for just a moment. As much as possible, feel it and visualize it.
  • Now come up with five more qualities.  Look these over and again experience each one.
  • Finish by checking the list to see if there are any you missed.

As you look at your list, you might notice that it has a kind of mystical quality to it. One might say that peak performance is a mystical experience. This is the reason I named my book Mystic Cool.  Notice how little the peak experience of you at the top of your game depended on external conditions. Rather, it depended on your state of mind.  It was a specific attitude that came into play that you were able to sustain as you worked.

This experience is not stressful, even if the task at hand stretches you. It is dynamic in a peaceful way. Neurologically, peace represents optimal brain function.  Peace is brain networks wiring and working together to sustain the proverbial calm under siege that enables you to see a problem fearlessly, analyze it intelligently, engage it creatively, and make the best decision.

Obviously, you understand this dynamically peaceful attitude, evidenced by the list you just made.  Clearly, it is well within your power to generate this experience.  These qualities are not something you need to learn, but something you need to accentuate in your daily life until they flow with consistentcy into whatever you’re doing.

STEP-2: Accentuating your higher self

Step-2 is accentuating these qualities more often than you might at present.  Below is a list of attributes that pinpoint a dynamically peaceful attitude. Some of these attributes are probably on the list you just made describing you at the top of your game. Check three qualities that you would like to strengthen.

Click here to print this list. Post it where you will see it and then for the next seven days, commit each day to finding ways to accentuate these three qualities.  After seven days, select three more qualities and accentuate these.  Repeat this process for the rest of your life (I’m not kidding):

  • Calm
  • A clear sense of personal power and the integrity to assert your power without      overpowering others
  • Unafraid
  • Unhurried
  • Free of  worry
  • Self-confident
  • Creative
  • Open-minded, receptive, and accepting
  • A curiosity that is fully present
  • Energetic
  • Resilient
  • Faith in the face of adversity
  • Trust in the process
  • Joy in the challenge
  • Empathic
  • A willingness to forgive
  • A disinterest in judging or condemning
  • A felt connection with one’s own heart, with others, and with life itself
  • An enduring sense of the whole that transcends the fragments
  • A sense of the sacred

STEP-3: Strengthening your talented self

We have all been conditioned to be fault finders, especially in regard to ourselves.  We confuse fault-finding with humility.  It’s not humility; it’s a problem. An attitude of fault-finding causes people to underestimate and undervalue their strengths. When the Gallup organization asked people to identify their strengths, one-third could not name even one. We need to remedy this by becoming strength finders.

You can start by making a list of your strengths as you see them.  Think broadly. There are strengths that reveal themselves in roles you play. There are personality strengths, such as being humorous or open hearted.  There are interpersonal strengths that make you great at relationships, such as being a good listener.  There are aptitudes you possess, such as being artistic or mechanical or good at science. Also don’t omit the strengths that you are not currently using.  They are still strengths.

Once your list is made, select three and make it your mission to find ways of using these three strengths every day.  Post this list where you will see it.  You can also read Marcus Buckingham’s book on strength building.  He offers a lot of helpful approaches for identifying your strengths and putting them into play.