Confronting Financial Fear and Worry

Our Newest Class

Confronting Financial Fear and Worry

”Coping With Financial Fear and Worry” is the newest offering in our class line up of life-long learning experiences. The course has been created to help people survive and thrive in the current recessionary economy. This course will prove attractive to people seeking insights into living happier and more productive lives. This course offering has universal appeal for people caught up in the emotional roller coaster resulting from the current economic events.

Uncertainty about the future plagues the entire globe. Every American family that owns a home has taken a financial hit recently. Retirement funds have shrunk by 30%; unemployment is at record levels and threatens to go higher. Remaining emotionally balanced and at peace in these times requires a new set of coping skills. This mind-and-heart-opening class teaches participants how to:

  • Break the cycle of the repetitive inner voice of worry
  • Learn how to filter the real news from media fear mongering
  • Let go of fear in order to achieve inner serenity
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Saving Time, What’s the Use?

Saving Time

Saving Time and Anhedonia

A student in my class Organize or Agonize, posted a comment this morning from a book that I read years ago:

Thanks for sharing your readings.

I am an avid reader as well. I’m currently reading  To Have or to Be? by Erich Fromm.

I ran across the following quote which I found quite characteristic of some of my discontent lately:

“We are a society of notoriously unhappy people: lonely, anxious, depressed, destructive, dependent–people who are glad when we have killed the time we are trying so hard to save”

The condition that Erich Fromm is talking about in that quote is better known as Anhedonia. This is described as the absence of pleasure from the performance of acts that would normally be pleasurable.

So why do we run ourselves ragged trying to find ways of saving time, only to experience boredom or depression when confronted with being alone unexpectedly?

Why indeed . . . we need to begin asking oursleves some new questions about chasing this elusive goal we call happiness. Let’s look closer at the process that we go through mentally. First comes the identification with a need or a desire. That need or desire will show up as some form of discontent, feeling of lacking or emptiness in life. So we kick our intellect into gear to see if we can’t figure out a way to fill up that emptiness, and of course we identify something external that seems to fill the bill. A new car, spouse or maybe a bottle of gin. Then off we trot to the squirrel cage to run ourselves ragged until we have the resources to obtain the external object or experience. Ahh . . . finally, a few moments of bliss.

Then, the newness begins to ebb . . . somebody leaves a ding in the car door, the new spouse has bad breath or the hangover ends and we are right back where we started – feeling empty, bored and discontented. Then, desire kicks back in and the cycle repeats itself.

If we are ever going to get off this merry go round, we are going to have to come to grips with the fact that the solution is not “out there”.  We need to become aware that we have the power to deprive ourselves of good by our non-recognition of its presence.

I’m working hard at trying to lift the veil of my self non-acceptance and trying to become aware of the fact that life is pretty darn neat. I’ve given up getting all tied up in knots whenever one of life’s minor obstacles prevents me from fulfilling one of my endless cravings. I’ve decided to swap out all complaining self talk for gratitude for what is right.

The next time you find yourself a bit down or bored with your, life try some gratitude. You’ll be amazed at the results.

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Multitasking Study Exonerates Me

Multitasking Hurts Performance

Multitasking . . . screwing up several things at the same time

“Multitasking Performance Was Horrible”

Back in December 2007, I wrote an article onmultitasking denouncing it as modern information age malady, that was seriously affecting the performance of our concentration; thereby, our overall performance and most our happiness. Well, you would have thunk I was asking people to give up their first born. I heard catterwalling from students on the discussion boards of both Organize or Agonize and The Secret to Dealing With Overload. Everyone disagreed with me.

Well, I have been vindicated! My wife put this article on multitasking in front of my nose this weekend. It seems that a group of scientists at Stanford have done exhaustive testing in an attempt to find some redeeming social value in allowing the latest news headline, twitter, tweak, tinker, twink and text message to interrupt your focus and concentration. Not only could they not find anything worthwhile about multitasking, they found that the people who were doing the most multitasking were the worst at it. “Their performance was horrible” said Clifford Nass, a professor in Stanford’s communication department.

What makes me chuckle is the sub headline to this multitasking article, “Scientists are “totally shocked” at the the results of the study”. Social scientists have long known that it is impossible to process more than one string of information at a time. The mind simply cannot do it. To me, it is self-evident that multitasking can bring nothing but stress and the fear that I’m getting nothing done.

Multitasking and allowing constant distractions is ego mischief. The ego gets juiced from being in the know, gossip, righteous indignation and frightened out of its wits that it might be missing out. The ego hates peace and contentment. So it keeps its antenna out for every tidbit of news to fill its voracious appetite for nonsense.

Really getting into a task and doing it well has a sacredness to it. Something I was taught by my wonderful wise old journeyman mentors when I was a printers apprentice over 50 years ago . . . craftsmanship. Craftsmanship is doing your work well and with pride. I find that when I shut off the bells and whistles and grab one single task and give it all of my loving attention that sense of craftsmanship returns, and with it an inner contentment.

This multitasking article reminded me that much of my stress comes from all this electronic gear I’m surrounded with and the distractions it brings into my life. It’s funny to think that 50 years ago I got along fine without all this stuff. Seems to me the big issues that plague humanity have gotten worse, not better. We still kill each other at alarming rates and everybody is stressed out and unhappy. Are we really better off with all this technology?

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Decision Making Made Easy

Decision Making

Decision Making Need Not be Nerve Wracking

I meet weekly with a group of friends for discussions about all things spiritual. This is not a lightweight group; some of these folks have been advanced spiritual seekers for more than 30 years. We get into some pretty heavy discussions, and it is the highlight of my week.“Decision Making
with Certainty”

During the course of an evening, our discussions often tend to focus upon learning opportunities that some member of the group is encountering, or has recently encountered. This week, the topic of conversation was a decision making dilemma that Martha was facing with her perfect son.

It involved a decision she had to make; it was a very common values based issue that every parent of a teenager would recognize. The actual issue is irrelevant. What is relevant was the anguish that Martha was experiencing over the decision about making choice of course A or course B. Neither choice offered her any peace of mind. Nonetheless, Martha felt compelled to make a choice.

For almost an hour, 8 of us wrangled over what was right and what was wrong. Was this karma, ego nonsense, power struggles, frustrations from her childhood relations with her overbearing mother, or any of a number of other issues?

We were getting nowhere, and most importantly, Martha was even more confused about her decision making than ever. Finally, a lull in conversation occurred and John said, “I think I have an idea that might help”. He reached into his pocket and pulled out a quarter and handed it to Martha. “Heads you take course A and tails you take course B”. Martha was a bit hesitant to leave decision making of such a critical issue to the flip of a coin. John encouraged her to go along with it anyway.

She flipped the coin and it came up heads. She instantly looked up and smiled and said, “Can I make it 2 out of 3?”. The whole group gasped all at once at the sudden realization of what just happened. The fact that she had second thoughts about the outcome of the coin flip shed all kinds of awareness on her doubts about course A. Martha’s intellect was incapable of sorting through the mirad of issues surrounding the decision, but her inner knowing did so in an instant. What was most revealing was the certainty that she now had about her decision.

This was a stunning display of an effective method of tuning into your inner knowing about decision making. I have since used it on myself in several decision making dilemmas, and this method has never failed to surface my true feelings. Try it, when and if you experience doubt about the outcome of the flip, take the opposite choice.

Thank you John!

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Letting Go of Wants

Let go of Wants

Happiness comes when wants are starved of energy

Our uncontrolled thoughts are full of wants. Wanting something different that what this moment provides. Thus, throughout your life you see yourself as a wanting person. If this is true then logically it should be impossible for anyone to be happy even for a moment. How can you discover a moment of joy when so many wants are present, constituting your thoughts? Unless you clear the table of those wants, how can you gain relief and be happy? To be happy and to have a sense of want centered on thought is a contradiction.

Only when the wanting disappears totally can you experience joy. Logically, then, you can never discover a moment of joy because you never free all your desires at any time. However, you do gain moments of happiness in spite of yourself. These moments may be few and far between, but the potential is always there. Suppose you hear a joke and laugh; what want did you fulfill? Most moments of joy are like that; you catch them without fulfilling any want. Suddenly and without working at it, you see something amusing and laugh, or you see something and admire it. These moments of joy occur when a distraction takes place. You change to focus of your mental energy from the want to the object of distraction.

If you can be happy, you must be able to shed the wanting without having to fulfill all your wants. In a moment of joy you cannot say the world has caused you happiness through the fulfillment of a desire. Happiness never comes from the object; if it did, the same object should always make you happy. Thus, the fulfillment of a want does not constitute happiness. In fact you do not have to fulfill any desire at all to be happy. Merely by looking at the stars you may become happy, or enjoying some sensory experience you may become happy; or someone says, “I love you,” and you see truth in it and become happy.

The world is not absent in a moment of joy. You are looking at something that pleases you, and you are happy; the world is present. Nor do you transcend the mind in a happy experience. The very same mind is present, the world is present, the senses are present—and there is joy. Nothing has come; only the wanting has gone away for the time being. When the wanting is there, you want a change to take place on the part of some object or person. You become a seeker, wanting some change so that you can be happy. There is a seeker-sought duality, a division between you and the world that makes you unhappy. But when the present momentary object in front of you is able to please and absorb the mind for the time being, you give up the seeker-sought division. You suspend all the wants, you forget the wanting person you have taken yourself to be.

That is why when there is real love between two persons, the seeker-sought, wanting-wanted division is resolved; and there is joy which is not caused by anybody or anything. It is an experiential expression of the fullness, the limitlessness that you are. The self becomes manifest in a happy moment when the situation is able to completely absorb the mind so that the sense of want is suspended temporarily. Then you find “I am full, I am all.” I am limitless, Free and complete in myself.

A thought is not a matter of control; it is a matter of understanding understand that thoughts simply come and go in awareness; they have no reality of their own. If this is the truth about yourself and the world, what self-judgement can you make to become sad? There is never any cause for sorrow.

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Nothing Good is Ever Upstream

Do we plan . . . or are we planned?

A favorite Taoist saying of mine is: “Move your feet without having to know where you are going”.

Whether you plan or not, life goes on. However, in life itself a little whorl arises in the mind, which indulges in fantasies and imagines itself dominating and controlling life. The secret of tranquility is acceptance; hence, Lao-tzu’s injunction to become like a newborn babe – accepting things as they come without distinction. To tamper with this natural progression is a sure way of courting sorrow and disaster; to go along easily with things as they are is the way to tranquillity and wisdom.

What wants to be done makes itself known. In my workaholic days, I had lists for my lists and spent much frantic mental effort trying to force round pegs into square holes. But, I’ve given all of that up and life has never been simpler.

What doesn’t get done, wasn’t meant to happen.

I’m not sure what, if any, control I have over the events in my life . . . they just seem to happen. I don’t think we are the dancer, but we are being danced by the spinning of the earth.

When I stop fighting back against “what is” and let go of “what should be” life is effortless.

Click Here to listen to some of Wayne Dyer’s thoughts on this topic.

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My thoughts are not me

Not My Thouths

Will the Real Me Please Stand Up?

Mom and dad have separate realities. They (along with coaches, clergy, teachers, scout leaders, peers, and many others) feed us impressions, which form our belief systems and operating values. Mommies and daddies in other parts of the world are feeding different beliefs systems and values (shoulds) than ours. Every Mommy and Daddy is different; therefore, no two children see exactly the same reality or sets of shoulds. Then, we get all upset over the fact that they do not see the same things on their screen as we do.

These impressions and experiences are stored in the filing cabinets of the brain as memory. Throughout my life, every experience I encounter gets stored as an impression (slides in the slide projector). Then some stuff that I didn’t encounter, but think I encountered (snubs, injustices and other products of my imagination) also get stored as impressions

When I awaken in the morning, it takes a few seconds for my senses to get into motion. As the psyche begins to realize that I am  in a conscious state, the dispatcher (ego) will begin to retrieve slides from the memory bank and present them onto the screen as “reality”. We recognize the images on the screen as “thoughts”.

Now it is important that we recognize these thoughts are just impressions that others have fed to us about what a good little American, Catholic, White, Upper Middle Class, Baby Boomer, Male needs to think or do to get the love and approval of mommy and daddy and all the other humans that we encounter.

None of these impressions have anything to do with truth . . . they are simply the beliefs and values of those (good intentioned) folks who have had a hand in our upbringing. Not only are they not true, but by the time we retrieve them, the slides are so old and dysfunctional that the image on the slides has become faded and scratched. As a result, the psyche fills in fantasies of its own, which have nothing with truth or reality. The real Gary gets covered up by layer upon layer of impressions that were given to him by others.

The problem stems from the fact that I grant complete authority to the ego and accept everything that it throws onto the screen as “Reality”. It is not. In fact, it is a complete distortion of reality. Then the ego slaps labels on everything and starts judging everything and paints this picture of this frightening hostile world.

Because I have nobody to tell me differently, I walk around all day believing all that nonsense that appears as images on the screen (thoughts).  I’m walking around all day creating my reality from these out of date, whacked out thoughts.

So later in the day when I get the urge to go outside and spend time with nature, the old should machine cranks up and starts feeding thoughts like “a good father and provider should be busy earning a new car for the family”. In that instant, I experience “suffering”. That suffering takes the form of fear. Fear that I’m not living up to all those shoulds. The fear eventually convinces me that there is something wrong with the real me and “I’m defective”.

The real Gary has to keep giving up what he wants to be, do, or believe as long as he listen to the thoughts of the ego and gives into the fear. Then one day a spiritual teacher plants the impression “Nothing really bad happens to you if you don’t listen to those thoughts . . . there is nothing to fear. You always have been safe and you always will be”. Hmm . . . for the first time since I was an hour old, I begin to see the unfiltered reality. A whole new world opens up and finally the real Gary springs to life, unafraid.

I’m just starting to get to know him . . . and he would like to get to know the real you.

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Self Worth and the To Do List

Can Happiness be Achieved Without a To Do List?

Students from my online class Organize or Agonize and my regular blog readers are already aware of my recent struggles with the whole concept of the to do list. I am not at all confident in the time management techniques I have been sharing with students and anyone who would listen these past 30 years.

“Buddha had some profound thoughts on the subject”

The bottom line is all of this stuff hasn’t been working for me. I have been kidding myself into believing that I was using the latest wisdom of the self management gurus.

These techniques of goal setting, priority management, and to do lists had been creating guilt, fear, anger and I was feeling overwhelmed at the same time. For someone in my line of work, who holds himself out as being one who has his act together, this was not at all a good set of circumstances.

Without even being aware of it, I was sending out vibes to the universe for answers. Well, lo and behold the law of attraction kicked in and provided me with some new insights. In February while searching for a podcast on Internet marketing, I accidentally stumbled upon a podcast by Michael Losier on the Law of Attraction. There was precocious little of his presentation that was new. I had heard this stuff before.

I’m a certified NLP practioner, so I have had lots of exposure to these concepts. Yet, Losier had a very short segment of that presentation about letting go of the to do list and letting the emotions guide your day. My first reaction was, no way!. . . the control freak in me went into panic.

But ever since that day I have had this internal calling to examine it more carefully. Deep down inside of me this little voice kept saying “If you could make this work, it could be life-changing stuff” It is has been a mighty spiritual struggle. I’m doing research on the topic and as a matter of fact I’m mentally organizing a whole new time management concept, that might eventually become a book, or at the very least, another online class.

I have been reading everything I can get my hands on about the principals of letting go. It appears at this point that Buddha had some profound thoughts on the subject over 3,500 years ago. But this morning I happened upon an audio tape series by Marrianne Williamson entitled Handling Fear. I have transcribed about two minutes of that series:

If there is a problem confronting you it is not that it is someone else’s fault. We tend to get angry. Anger occurs because we are upset because someone failed to perform the function that we gave to that person. It’s like you wrote this movie and they are not playing the character that you wrote into the play. They are not on this earth to play the part that you dictate to them. If you understand what it means to let it be, to let people be, and if you understand what it means to let things be.

This incident stops me from gaining my greater good. If that is what you think, then that will be your experience. Why give away your power like that?

,,

I realized after listening to this passage that same could be said about many emotions, most particularly guilt. Which I find is the emotional trauma surrounding my unfinished tasks. Who wrote into my play each day that I must get everything done? Like Marrianne, says why are we giving away our power like that? Guilt is robbing me of my power.

When I feel guilt, I cannot possibly be performing at my very best, so it becomes a viscious circle of downward momentum. The less I get done the more guilt I feel, the more guilt I feel the poorer I perform. The only way out is to end this relationship with guilt.

My worth as a human being has nothing to do with how many tasks I cross off of my to do list. Whose rules are they that my ego keeps harping at me each day about all of my unfinished tasks? I’ll never get it all done so why should I feel quilt? . . . Why indeed!

  • Cringe Busting Your To-Do List
  • Your To Do List Has Unnecessary Tasks On It!
  • PDA vs. Franklin Daily Planner
  • Why I do not trust my emotions
  • How to plan your priorities each day
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    Letting go of Control

    I have met the enemy and it is my “To Do List”

    Many of you are like me, “control freaks”. I schedule, analyze, mind map, prioritize, and worry about how to spend every moment of a typical day. I am supposed to be a guru on the topic, after all I have created an online class on the topic. For years I have studied the time planning techniques of the masters, David Allen, Stephen Covey, Julie Morgenstern and many others. Yet I felt unproductive, stressed and dissatisfied.

    About 10 days ago I had one of those “aha” moments in a flash of inspiration. I was attending a leadership retreat being facilitated by a skilled practitioner in mediation and self examination. During one of our meditation exercises she had participants mentally think through our answers to a series of 15 or 20 questions. Questions such as: Will you believe in your own giftedness? Will you walk with insecurity for awhile? Will you open up your heart? . . . Then came the show stopping question for me: Will you let go of your own strong control? Even in a deep state of meditation I became agitated over this question.

    Once the mediation exercise was completed, we broke into groups of six or seven to discuss our reactions to the questions. As it turned out, I was not the only participant who had trouble with that question. It seems we were all borderline control freaks.

    What followed was one of the most insightful discussions I’ve ever been involved with. As a group we began to seriously question why each of us so strongly avoided allowing our natural instincts to influence our daily activities and tasks, and instead had allowed “our to do” lists to dominate our lives.

    Like a bolt of lightning an utterance came out of my mouth. I have no idea where it came from, but it’s been haunting me ever since. Could my need for control, mean that I am really out of control? That meeting was over 10 days ago, but I cannot get that thought out of my mind. Have I equated productivity with happiness???? If so, why was I not leading a truly joyful life? I think I have been over controlling my time out of fear and insecurity. Fear that my natural instincts are not good enough, and that the laws of attraction work for everybody else but for me. Profound observations.

    In the meantime I am conducting research on my new class “What Everyone Ought to Know About The Law of Attraction” and I have come across much material that has me seriously questioning my personal time management systems. Here are just a couple:

    From Ken MacLean’s The Vibrational Universe Are you the kind of person that wants to be in control? That is understandable, for part of deliberate creating is consciously defining and creating your life. However, there is a subtle but important distinction between the need to be in control, and conscious, mindful creation; the former proceeds from a feeling of insecurity and the latter from a feeling of power and confidence.As soon as you really work at allowing, you are not allowing any more. Paradoxically, the more powerful you are, the less you are working at it. The less you work, the more relaxed you are and the easier it gets. The easier it gets, the more you get done. Allowing, or non—resistance, is about maintaining a state of being which sustains a Vibrational orientation, creating positive emotion within, leading to more effective action cycles, and matching you up with the people and resources necessary to accomplish your goals. ,,
    From Wayne Dyer’s The Power of IntentionFollow your hunches. Watch the signals. Listen to your intuition. If you get a desire to make a plan of action, so be it. Do it. But if you get a desire to go for a walk, or to watch television, or to surf the web, then do that. You never know where your Inspired Action will take you, but because you set a goal, your intuition will find a shortcut to your dreams. Inspired Action works because your ego can only see limited terrain while the universe can see it all. Your ego might say, “Write a business plan.” Inspired Action comes from the bigger picture, which you can’t always see until you’ve taken the actions you’re being inspired to take. Finally, the more you can quiet your mind, still your thoughts, and relax your body, the more you will hear the inner voice nudging you in the direction of your dreams. When it speaks, move. That’s Inspired Action.The point is, letting go doesn’t mean do nothing. It means take action based on your inspiration. If you feel moved from within to make a call, or run an ad, or take a walk, or build community, then do so. Just have the spirit of nonattachment as you do. Nonattachment is letting go. Again, when you want something and are fine if you get or not, then you are most likely going to receive it. You must let go of your attachment to success to attract success. ,,

    The secret behind the law of attraction is very simple and basic . . . let your emotional well being tell you whether you are on in tune at any given moment to the abundance of the universe. Remember the old saying from the 60’s “If it feels good, do it”? Well as it turns out, that is a pretty good time management principal.

    Lately I have been trusting my emotions to dictate my day a lot more than I have in the past. I’m letting go of fear and worry about getting it all done, and I’m spending more of my day doing those activities that bring joy into my life.

    Try it! You won’t regret it!

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