Wisdom from an 8 year-old genius

creating her lifeMy eight year-old daughter is easily the most resilient person I know. Not much gets her truly upset, and when something does, she bounces back very quickly.
 
Last week I asked her about this. Her answer was so simple, yet so profound.
 
Me: I’ve noticed that you hardly ever get angry or sad.
Her: Sometimes I get angry or sad. But only when someone or something makes me angry or sad.
Me: Do you ever just get angry or sad without someone else doing something? Like you’re angry or sad just… because.
Her: {Confused look.}
Me: I mean do you ever just find yourself having a bad day?
Her: No.
Me: Why not?
Her: Well, if nothing bad is happening to me, what right do I have to be angry or sad?
 
Initially I was perplexed by her use of the phrase “what right do I have…” after all, I’m her father and I want her to know that every feeling she has is valid. If anyone was trying to tell her she has no right to feel something, they’d have to answer to me! But the more I reflected on it, the more I realized she’s a total genius.
 
The person who told my daughter “if nothing bad is happening to you, you have no right to be angry or sad”…was herself! Her happier self. And she decided that no one, not even herself, has the right to take away that happiness.
 
A freaking genius!
 
She doesn’t waste time worrying, stressing or obsessing about the future. She’s eight. She’ll be nine in November and for her, November is 100 years away right now. She also doesn’t dwell on the past. She offers apologies quickly and sincerely and she accepts them from others just as quickly.
 
Plus, when it comes to the past, she has a secret weapon – The Shrug. If you ask her about some past negative event, even a big one, she simply tilts her head to the side, shrugs her shoulders and says: “well, there’s nothing I can do about it now.” The Shrug is absolutely not about resignation or giving in. It’s not weak at all. It’s infinitely strong.
 
My daughter has the strength and wisdom to choose her reactions.
She chooses happiness.
She chooses the life she wants.
And I’m lucky to have her as a teacher.
 
(PS: I can’t believe that as of today, my other teacher has been teaching me for 12 years already! Happy birthday son!)
 

How do you define success?

How do you define success?How do you define success?
 
How do you define happiness?
 
If you haven’t defined success and happiness, how do you expect to achieve them?
 
I know that in my own life, I would have never written my first book if I hadn’t clearly defined what success meant to me. Many people go for years (or worse still – their entire lives) with the vague idea that they could or should write a book. The first step in becoming an author is to define whether you’re writing an ebook, paperback or hardcover and decide whether you’re going to self-publish or go through a publisher. Once you’ve defined your terms for being a successful author, you can get to work. (By the way – If one of your goals is to become a successful author, be sure to check out my online course to help get you on your way.)
 
I think there can be many reasons that people don’t clearly define what abstract concepts like ‘success’, ‘happiness’ and even ‘love’ mean to them.
 
Fear of Failure - if you never enter the race, you can never lose, right? But stop and ask yourself: Do you really want to live your life on the sidelines?
 
Conflicting Values – just as some suffer from fear of failure, others suffer from fear of success.  If you were raised to believe that ‘only greedy people succeed’ or that ‘the only way to succeed is to do it on the backs of others’, you may be prone to self-sabotage due to values that conflict with your desire for success. Listen closely to your self-talk to see if you detect any indication of value conflicts that could keep you from succeeding.
 

Inability To Commit - for some, it’s a belief that once you write something down, it’s written in stone and you you can’t deviate from it. For others, it’s a belief that the second you make a commitment to one thing, something better/easier will come along. Either way, trying to stay on the fence will keep you feeling ungrounded and unfulfilled.

 
Only one successFeeling Unworthy - Have you ever thought: “Who am I to expect success?” My answer to that is: “Who are you not to?” I love the following quote from Marianne Williamson: “As we let our own light shine, we unconsciously give other people permission to do the same. As we are liberated from our own fear, our presence automatically liberates others.

So how do you get started?

- Take some time to reflect on what you want from your life. Don’t be afraid to think big and dream big. (The online Dreamstorming course can help with this.)
- Know that you are worthy and that you are worth it.
- You owe it to yourself to make the most of every day you’re alive. If you need help reinforcing this concept – start with the Mortality Manifesto Pledge
- And if you have difficulty committing, remember that concepts such as success, happiness and love are ongoing and evolving processes, not simply a finish line to be crossed.
 
Defining success is the first step to having it!
 

The one thing to carry in your wallet to keep you from dying

empty wallet

image by NoHoDamon – Flickr

NOTHING.
 
There’s absolutely nothing you can carry in your wallet to keep you from dying.
 
  • No amount of cash
  • Not a platinum credit card
  • It doesn’t matter what title you have on your business card, or what kind of car is listed on your vehicle registration
  • No religious article
 
Forget about what’s in your wallet. A full wallet won’t keep you from dying. Focus instead on what’s in your heart.
 
Of course THAT also won’t keep you from dying … but living with a full heart certainly makes the trip worthwhile!
 
If you haven’t already taken the Mortality Manifesto Pledge – you should start there. It’s a great way to focus on what’s in your heart and begin to Choose The Life You Want.
 

You’re Never Too Old To Choose The Life You Want

Today I want to talk about the role that time, and more specifically – age, plays in Choosing The Life You Want. Over the years that I’ve been speaking and writing about this topic, I’ve had plenty of people explain to me why it’s simply too late in the game for them to reinvent themselves. They all have very good reasons to back up their thinking.
 
never_too_old“I’m too old to do THAT.”
“It’s too late for me to start something like THAT now.”
“That boat has already sailed and I missed it.”
“I don’t have enough time to learn THAT.”
and the old favorite “You can’t teach and old dog new tricks”
 
When we say theses sorts of things to ourselves and to others, we think of them as ‘reasons’, even ‘logical reasons’. But come on, let’s be honest – they’re excuses. Plain and simple. Don’t believe me? Let me introduce you to my friend André.
 
André Cyr was a truck driver. For 40 years he drove a cement truck. When he retired it would have been perfectly reasonable for him to slow down. He’d worked hard. He and his wife had raised three girls. Surely he deserved a rest, didn’t he? But that’s not how André operates.
 
In fact, rather than slowing down, André used his retirement as an opportunity to really get going! He loved watching figure skaters on television, so he decided to take up the sport. At the age of 65, he bought himself a pair of figure skates. And headed out on the ice to emulate what he saw on TV. Yes, at the age of 65, he taught himself to figure skate by watching TV.  (He’s also a YouTube sensation – check out the videos below.)
 
When rollerblades appeared on the scene, he said to himself: “I’ve got to try that!” So naturally he’s also a very accomplished artistic rollerblader.
 
André & Hilary

André & Hilary

Hilary and I met André one day in the spring of 2014. Downtown Montréal is home to an office tower that features a beautiful atrium with a year-round ice rink. We were out on a beautiful spring walk and stopped into the building to get a bottle of water from the food court (directly beside the ice rink). It didn’t talk long to spot André. He was in the centre of the ice, smartly dressed and doing slow, graceful turns and spins. It was clear from looking at him that he was not a young man, but he had the moves of someone much younger. We were especially amazed when he lifted one leg, grabbed his skate blade and lifted the leg over his head while looping backwards!

 
We waited until he came off the ice (which he only did because the Zamboni was going to clear the ice surface) and approached him to say how impressed we were with his skill. It didn’t take long for him to tell us his story. He proudly raised his foot to show us the skates he bought at age 65 – the same skates he wears today, 17 years later. That’s right, he’s still going at the age of 82! He comes to this rink three times a week to skate.
 
So the next time you say to yourself: “I’m too old to change my life now”, head for downtown Montréal, find the ice rink at 1000 de la Gauchietièr and watch André at work. He’ll change your mind in a hurry. (And tell him that Patrick and Hilary sent you.)
 

And here’s a video from Michel Demers of André rollerblading (the audio is French, but there are subtitles.) Skater – by Michel Demers

 
 

Who defines your quality of life? Hint: it’s an inside job

Photo by Ivars Krutainis

Photo by Ivars Krutainis

I recently had an interesting discussion with a woman who sat next to me at a café in Montreal. She was reading a magazine and at one point, it dropped on the floor. When someone handed it to her I overheard them commenting: “Oh you’re reading The Economist. I like that magazine.” The woman replied, “Yes, it’s scary stuff.”

After a few minutes I said to her: “Sorry to bother you, but I’m curious about something. Why would you read something you describe as scary?”
She told me that she wants to stay informed, even if the news is scary. I told her my personal point of view, which is that I usually limit myself to the news headlines, since they usually give me all I need to know. Naturally, if a story really interests me, I will dig deeper, but I don’t want my peace of mind disrupted by reading in depth about bad news over which I have no real control.
As we discussed the ‘scary’ issues of the day, we spoke about gas prices and the transparency of the federal government, then the conversation turned to local and provincial government. The woman told me that although she is a lifelong Québec resident, she no longer feels welcome in the province because of certain policies of the provincial government.
After we discussed the policies a bit, I asked her where she was going to move. She told me she has no real plans to move, she just doesn’t feel welcome anymore. I asked her if she’d ever had any personal interactions with people that left her feeling unwelcome. She agreed that everyone is generally pleasant and easy to get along with, but for her, the fact that “they” could have voted for the current government carried more weight than how she is actually treated on a day-to-day basis.
This brings me back to my original question: Who defines your quality of life?

You always have a choice

One of the aims of my free online course, the Chooseday Challenge, is to help people understand that they always have a choice. While we can’t choose what others say or do, we can absolutely choose the meaning that we assign to their words and actions.
For example, the woman at the café could have chosen to give more weight to governmental policies OR she could have chosen to give more weight to how her fellow citizens actually treat her. She chose governmental policies and as a result doesn’t feel welcome in her homeland.

It’s an inside job

I also want to emphasize that we can each choose the impact that we allow external forces to have on our quality of life. Beyond choosing the meaning that we assign to the words and actions of others, we can always choose to limit our exposure to any negative external forces. That could mean choosing to limit your interactions with negative people such as co-workers, friends or family. It could mean changing jobs. Or letting go of unhealthy and/or dysfunctional relationships. And in the case of the woman in the café, it might include actually making a plan to move to a ‘more friendly’ area of the country. I can’t imagine choosing to stay in a place where you say that you feel like you are not welcome.

Claim ownership of your life

For many people, accepting that quality of life is an inside job is a very difficult pill to swallow. Perhaps they simply feel powerless at the hands of outside forces. Or they may just be incredibly hesitant to take on any personal responsibility for how they feel on a day-to-day basis. I understand that claiming ownership of your life can be a big and frightening step towards choosing the life you want, but I also know that it is the only surefire way to achieve peace of mind. Feeling like you’re at the mercy of outside forces keeps you in reaction mode and doesn’t allow any freedom for self-expression or creativity. It’s also a very slippery slope which can lead from feeling powerless to identifying yourself as a victim. And there is nothing more crippling that living in a mental state of victimhood.

From victim to victor

gandhiWhen we make a conscious decision to move out of reaction-mode and into action-mode, our lives really begin to shift dramatically. Let me be clear, it’s not that the outside world will necessarily change – but who we are in the context of the outside world will absolutely change.
I’m sure everyone is familiar with Gandhi’s quote: “Be the change you wish to see in the world”. One thing I wish people would realize about that quote is that ‘be the change’ does not necessarily have to be about changing THE world – it can be about changing YOUR world.
It’s YOUR life. You only get one and it’s happening RIGHT NOW. Choose the Life You Want! It really is an inside job.

You Can Do It – Don’t Mind The Gap

mind the gap

photo by limaoscarjuliet

A couple of years ago, I wrote a blog post called The Problem with Having Good Taste, about the fact that many of us suffer from ambitions that outreach our ability. We want to do good things, but when we try – we find out that our skill levels just aren’t there yet.

And the key word is YET!

In the article, I embedded a video from radio host and producer Ira Glass. Ira discusses the fact most creative people start out with a gap between what they want to produce (because of their good taste and high standards) and what they’re actually capable of producing. I encourage you go to back and read that initial blog post, but first – watch this excellent short film that illustrates the sound bytes of that interview.

I know I’ve been threatening to write my second book for some time now. I believe that I discovered this short film today because the Universe knew I needed a reminder (aka: kick in the pants) to get to work! So stay tuned for the book and more.

What will you do with this information? Will you let it move you across your gap? Why not use the comments section below to publicly state what you’re committing to achieve? We’re all in this together!

As I said in the other article: “I’ll race you to the other side of the gap!”

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Vaccinate Yourself Against the Virus of Negativity

photo by tranchis

Imagine for a moment that you’re sitting on a bus or in a crowded waiting room when someone close by, with a very runny nose and sore-looking, red, watery eyes, starts coughing loudly and sneezing. They look and sound absolutely miserable. You suspect they have a bad cold, maybe even the flu. What would you do?
 
I imagine you wouldn’t rush to take the empty seat beside them. And I highly doubt that you’d choose to share their pen or drink from their water bottle. You’d likely want to keep your distance for fear of getting infected. Perhaps you’d wash your hands a little more thoroughly the next time you’re in the washroom. And I don’t think anyone would blame you at all.
 
So why don’t we treat negativity the same way?
 
Yes, from time to time we all get ‘infected’ with a dose of negativity. For most of us, it’s short lived and we’re able to combat it and get back on track. Some people have a prolonged bout and have a more difficult time shaking it. And then there are those who suffer from chronic negativity.
 
When you run into someone who is suffering from negativity, why would you choose to expose yourself to their ‘virus’? Why let their skewed attitude and perspective impact your happiness, confidence and optimism?
 
In my coaching practice, one of my favorite tools to use with clients is a personalized ‘script’ designed to combat the effects of years of negative thoughts, habits and beliefs. In addition to helping undo the damage of years of negative programming, it also acts as a safeguard for the present and future.
 
The Script is a vaccination against falling victim to negativity and self-doubt.
I like to think of it as a vaccination against falling victim to negativity and self-doubt. From news media, and gossip to the fears and doubts of people around us, we are constantly bombarded with negative messages. The script helps to guard us against internalizing any of this negativity and becoming infected ourselves.
 
The Buddha said: “What we think, we become.” So why not make a conscious decision to think positive, uplifting, loving and encouraging thoughts? The health of your body depends on the fuel you feed it and how you move it. Likewise, the health of your mind depends on the thoughts, habits and beliefs you choose to surround yourself with.
 
Choose wisely!
 
If you’d like to see what a personalized script could do for you, I suggest you start by scheduling a free 30-minute introductory coaching session with me.
 

Am I worth it?

"Am I worthy? Do I deserve it?"

“Am I worthy? Do I deserve it?”

Do you deserve it? Are you worthy?

When I start working with a new coaching client, once they’ve stated their goal or objective, I always ask them those questions. I know – they’re big, bold, in-your-face questions; but they are important questions to ask early on.
 
The fact is, there’s no use choosing, hoping, dreaming, praying and working for something you don’t believe you’re worthy or deserving of having, being or achieving. If you don’t believe you’re worth it or if you don’t believe you deserve it, there’s not a coach in the world who can help you achieve and maintain it.
 
Generally, when I ask clients those questions, people fall into one of three groups.
  • The first group simply responds with something like: “Hell yes, I’m worthy of having it and deserve it!” (I love working with these people, because their attitude means they’re already halfway to having what they want.)
  • The second group usually responds more tentatively with something like: “Well, I think so.
  • And the third group often seems shocked and confused by the question. Once they reflect on it, they usually respond in a hushed voice. Sometimes they’re truthful and tell me that they don’t believe they’re worth it or deserve it; and sometimes they lie and say that they do believe they’re worth it and deserve it.
Henry Ford famously said: “Whether you think you can, or think you can’t — you’re right.”
 
The same holds true for your beliefs around worth and deserving. In my experience, it is very difficult for people to have, be or do something that they don’t believe they deserve and are worthy of having, being or doing. And if they DO manage to pull it off, it’s usually temporary.
 
i_deserve_success_love_and_happiness-564496If you’re feeling a sense of dread right now, because deep down you don’t feel 100% worthy or deserving – never fear, all is not lost. Part of what I do as a coach is to help people override any subconscious programming that holds them back. Then we move into reconditioning the self-talk so that it works in your favor, supporting you and moving you forward towards the achievement of your goals.
 
Our beliefs and attitudes are incredibly important in life. Believing that we’re worthy of love, success and happiness is a critical foundation when you set out to Choose The Life You Want.