One Word That Changed Things For Me And It's Not What You Think

We spent a beautiful Thanksgiving at the beach and at the beginning of the trip I asked for amessage of guidance. The next morning I woke up with the memory of one word: 

Satisfied.  

I was fascinated - why did this one word feel so good? 

What if I went through the rest of the vacation allowing myself to feel satisfied in each moment? I had so much goodness around me - could I be satisfied? All weekend I kept repeating the word in my head. Satisfied. Satisfied. Satisfied. It felt so "just right" - not wanting or seeking, not overloaded with too much. Satisfied.   

We are surrounded by so many messages, especially at this time of year, encouraging us that there's something more we need. Under no circumstances should we feel satisfied, ever. There's always more possibility, more potential, something bigger and better up ahead. 

Our brains are actively scanning for the next thing. On our phones, on our computers, as we're driving or shopping. No sense of closure. No spot to mentally rest. So many demands on our attention and so many possible solutions to our dissatisfaction. 

Have you noticed this too?   

I've been continuing to play with the word "satisfied" now that I'm back home, and seeing how I can apply it to my actions, my state of being, my experiences.   

What I'm describing sounds similar to a gratitude practice, but for me right now the word "satisfied" feels even more powerful than "grateful". We can be grateful about the absence of bad things. Satisfied implies that all is well.  

It doesn't imply that there is no change coming - we can be satisfied with our approach to a problem, or satisfied with our desire for a change. It's different than contentment as well - we can be satisfied with our discontent, without needing to jump right away. Satisfied feels like a place to breathe. 

I do have plans, things to be done, the tree is up but un-decorated, and there is much going on in my life as I'm sure there is in yours. I'm still making space, physically and mentally, for what I'd like to create in 2016.   

But in the midst of the planning and the doing, wow - what a lovely thing to be satisfied with myself and where I am in the process of my life. To be satisfied with my efforts, with my approach - with what I get done and don't get done each day. To wake up satisfied, to go to sleep satisfied, to be satisfied with the arc of my experience- that just feels like peace. 

If this feels intriguing to you, I encourage you to try it. Spend the rest of today and tomorrow feeling satisfied. See how that shifts your energy.  

Why Everything Is Ok Even When It Seems Otherwise

If you're already feeling that odd pressure of too much - too early decorations, too many things to think about now that the holidays are nearly here, too many lists and things to consider, I invite you take a break, relax for a few minutes and let's figure out together how OK things really are.  

Too much to catch up 

When I was in college, I corresponded with friends with letters. Snail mail was the only kind of mail there was, and I loved seeing a handwritten envelope waiting for me in my little postal box in the student center.  

I was better at receiving than sending mail. I would start a letter with the best of intentions, then new things would happen and situations would change, and what I'd begun no longer applied in the same way.  So I'd begin again.  Or recompose in my head. If a month or two went by, there was so much to catch up on that the whole task became daunting. Intellectually I knew I could jump in anywhere, but emotionally I wanted my friends to have the whole story.  

This still happens to me.  Papers, correspondence, dishes, clothes - things can go from just fine and practically organized to "too much to catch up" in one or two days. 

 I solve this by jumping in, not worrying about what's already passed.  Once I begin, tasks that had grown Everest-sized in my mind are easy to complete and don't take as long as I thought they would.  I'm re-energized and everything is indeed OK. 

 I've also learned (about a million times) not to wait until it's perfect.  I'm so close to having everything ready on a new website that I can share with you with a pretty new email design to match.  But it's not yet ready, so this interim "designed by me the non-designer" will be more than OK. 

Try this right now with one thing you've been putting off that's grown large and overwhelming in your mind. Figure out the first small step you can take, set your timer for five minutes, begin, and feel your energy surge.  Ahhh. Everything is OK. 

Stepping Beyond Your Fear

I stood alone at the base of the granite rock face. I’d hiked over 1,000 miles, but nothing I’d encountered was as challenging as the trail in Maine. I was more than a little afraid.  If I was going to climb over this rock, then I would have to do it on my own.

I had come this far and I wasn’t going back. I took a breath, cinched my pack straps and folded my poles. Now, I could use my hands. I climbed forward, one foot at a time. I grabbed for roots when I could and I trusted my shoe wouldn’t slip on the tiny ledge of rock. Little by little I climbed, up and down, over and over. Twenty days later, I made it. I stood atop Mt. Katahdin, the highest point in Maine.

I had no choice but to pull myself out of my fear. Each time I find myself stuck in a scary place, I go back to that moment to rediscover how I can learn and grow.

Start with one small step. Let yourself make the smallest step you can. Confidence grows by taking action. Small steps over time add up. Once you’re moving you can make adjustments to your path.

Review your successes. Find the part of your problem that looks like something you’ve tackled before. When I gazed up that steep rock in Maine, I realized I had already learned everything I needed to know. I had climbed every mountain on the AT since I began the trail. Recognize how your accomplishments have given you the skills you need for your new challenge.

Widen your perspective. Back up and see the big picture. Whenever I reached a viewpoint on the trail, I stopped to see how far I’d come. Three summits away, I could see where I had breakfast. Step back from your project for a broader view. Even better, go for a walk to clear your head.

Envision the completion. Take a few minutes each day to envision everything working out perfectly. Be detailed and specific. Add in sights, sounds, smells, color and emotion. Relish the feeling of success. I pictured standing at that Katahdin sign many times when I was still huddled in my tent miles and miles away. Allow yourself to savor the moment. Then get back to your journey.

Gather your allies. Ask for help from those who know you best. They’ll remind you why you’re meant to achieve the goals you’ve set. The support I received via letters, calls and Facebook messages from friends and family during my 2,000 mile journey was invaluable. Your friends and allies will give you energy and renew your hope. They see your capabilities and believe in you.

When you’re facing a challenge, know your fear will not disappear. Once you realize this truth, you will be free to move forward and accomplish your goals. Georgia O’Keefe said it best:

“I’ve been absolutely terrified every moment of my life and I’ve never let it keep me from doing a single thing that I wanted to do.”

Stop Waiting, Choose Happiness, and Success will Follow

A fortune cookie in New Orleans told me, “Be happy, it’s a way of being wise.”

Happiness comes first. At some point I was taught happiness comes from your achievements, but that is not true. It is your default state. It leads to better health, less stress, better decision-making, stronger relationships, and more solid business practices. When you choose to be happy, then success will follow.

Trust the process. It is less daunting than it appears. Here are five steps to begin your happier life:

1. Act in your own sphere of power and influence. Much of what causes distress comes from trying to control people and situations you don’t have power to change, be it the stock market or the weather. Focus on what you actually can control and take action in those arenas. Then you will gain freedom to spend your time where you have a genuine impact.

2. Seek truth to find meaning. When you are truthful about what you really want, when you stop pretending something is ok when it’s not, when you really listen, then you will find clarity and peace. Happiness comes from living a meaningful life, and your work is to determine what holds meaning. It takes courage to hear your own truth and follow it, so trust that this is the path to fulfillment.

3. Practice gratitude and kindness. Reading about kindness or knowing about gratitude is different than putting it into practice, just like knowing about nutrition and exercise doesn’t automatically make you healthy. Challenge yourself daily to show kindness to both strangers and people you know. Begin as a seven-day game and get creative. Let it be fun, and feel the shift in your energy.

4. Seek connection. When you are unhappy, your natural instinct is to withdraw, and connection is what will bring you back into the world. Connecting with people, nature, or your deeper self is more important than your fear of being seen as vulnerable or in pain. Take the time to reflect on a moment when you were happy, and see what connections made that possible. Seek out those connections every day.

5. Stay in the present moment. Take this moment to find something to be happy about. Our senses are designed to absorb the present. Look around and see all the colors. Then listen to the sounds. Feel that you are absolutely fine in this moment. You probably have had enough to eat, have a roof over your head, and are surrounded by incredible abundance. Sometimes the simplest awareness can return you to a place of gratitude and peace.

All of the emotions, including fear, anger, and sadness, have an appropriate time and place, though happiness is different. When you choose to be happy, you will find yourself being a better friend, being a more loving family member, and being more confident in your career.

Stop waiting, and move forward.

Here's What I Want You To Know Today...

No matter how I slice it, it really never seems to all get done.  I still hold this vision in my mind of a magical future time where I will do all the things I put on all those little lists.   

But more and more I find I just don't want to play that game.  I want a life with fewer to dos and fewer lists.  One with way more nothing, but in a wonderful, savoring, relaxed, ease-filled way.  Stillness that's chosen, not stolen amidst all the doing. 

Are you craving something similar? 

You'll hear more soon.  Meanwhile, here's all I want you to know:

You are wonderful. 

No matter whether you get it all done today or not. 

The most important thing is being present.

I've got no links for you today. Nothing to click.  

Just a call to slow down, look people in the eye, make a soul connection, and breathe.  That's all you need to do.