Category Archives: Outside the Box

Motivation: What Do You Feel About All of This?

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On Wednesday we brainstormed and yesterday we took those ideas and we put aside the practical ones, the responsible ones, the doable ones, which left us with the crazy, outrageous, just totally nuts ideas.

We took some quiet time yesterday to think about these ideas, as crazy as they are and as anxious as they might make us feel. We did this because it’s in the outrageous ideas where our future lies.  It’s in following through on these bold ideas–or combinations of these bold ideas–that we’re going to be able to craft our soul-prospering life.

 

The life you dream of does not come from being practical, being reasonable, being logical. Crafting a soul prospering life, living the life of your dreams, comes from being bold, outrageous, stepping outside your comfort zone, pushing the edge of the envelope, doing what you never thought you’d be able to do, finding your limits and pushing past them.

That’s why these crazy ideas, these totally nuts ideas, are so important.

 

Yesterday we also took the time to think about little steps that we could take immediately, or within the next day or two, that would start us on our journey of crafting our soul prospering life.

What were some of the steps that you came up with? Did you take any of them? If not, do something right now, something little. It can be something as simple as sitting quietly and visualizing your dream, what it would be like to live a soul prospering life.

How would you feel about yourself; how would you feel about your prospects and opportunities in the world?

How would going for your soul-prosper in life change you and enhance you make you a bigger, better person?

 

That’s what a soul prospering life is. It isn’t about having a million dollars in the bank or having a big, fat fancy house or becoming famous and popular. It’s about how the journey helps you grow and develop in ways you never thought possible; how it gives you a deeper, richer, more vibrant and juicy life.

 

Taking this kind of action is awkward stuff, really…which is why we haven’t done it before now. We DO have to step out of the comfort zone, we DO have to feel uncomfortable, we DO have to be unsure.

 

We have to learn how to live with not knowing and not being sure but taking action anyway.
Now that we’re talking about feeling awkward and uncomfortable, take a moment to identify exactly what your brand of awkward and uncomfortable is.

Some people feel some form of fear, other people feel sad, others feel depressed about the whole thing, and still others can give up and walk away even before they’ve started.

The fearful people may be driven by the thought that it’s too hard and they think they can’t, or they think they’ll be crushed in some way. Some of them worry that if they try for their dreams, they’ll wind up worse off.

Angry people may feel that they’ll work really hard only to have someone else get the credit and the benefits. Or, they may feel that their success will be taken away from them.

Sad people may think that it’s a long, hard road with only a very small payoff at the end.

People who throw in the towel before they even start may think that it’s work, work, and more work, and in-between times there’ll be obstacles, and difficulties, and even heartbreaks.

If you see yourself in any of these descriptions, don’t worry. Tomorrow we’re going to talk about what you can do about these feelings and thought patterns–how you can stop them before they stop you.

You’re doing GREAT! Come back tomorrow so we can continue our chat.

Your Friend and Pep Pal,

Lauren

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Morning Routines: Fun Stuff!


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Yesterday we explored the idea of what if we added “fun stuff” to the serious stuff that we already do such as meditating and exercise. Today, let’s list fun things we can do.

 

~Blow bubbles

As you know, right now this is one of my go-to fun activities.

 

~Singing any old which way you feel like it in the moment

This was offered by a long-time reader of this blog.   This is a great way to oxygenate your system, a fun way to move around and get a little exercise, and you can’t help but feel better after singing at the top of his/her lungs!  🙂

 

~Taking the time to make a delicious breakfast

This was suggested by a friend of mine who enjoys home cooking but doesn’t always take the time to make breakfasts she loves such as pancakes, waffles, and vegetable scrambled eggs.

 

~Sitting outside with a cup of coffee and reading the newspaper

A neighbor offered this one.  He has a small “grove” of pine trees and in it nestled an Adirondack chair.  Now with it lighter in the mornings, he sometimes sneaks out there to read for a few minutes before heading off to work.

 

~Reading in a fun book

A young mother who does a lot of technical reading for her job loves to wake up a little early and read her latest fun book–or mind candy book, as she calls it!  🙂

 

~Doodling

An artist friend of mine enjoys doodling first thing in the morning.  She doodles shapes, symbols, or random strokes; sometimes she uses graphite pencils and sometimes she used magic markers or crayons.

 

~Origami

A friend of mine has a high pressure management position and she likes to fold origami.  In the mornings when she does it, the activity becomes a meditation for her.  And afterward, not only is her soul nourished but she has a pretty flower or animal to show for the efforts, which boosts her spirits.  And the origami also boosts the spirits of the person she gives it away to.  Cool!

 

~Ironing

I know what you’re thinking:  what the heck is ironing doing on this list of fun activities to do in the morning?!  Believe it or not, I have a friend who enjoys ironing early in the morning.  She likes that it lends itself to meditation.  She also likes the smell of the hot iron on the cotton fabric–it connects her to her childhood and memories of her mother.  And she and her family have crisply pressed clothes in the bargain!

 

 

As you can see, there are a variety of different activities. The common thread through them all is pleasure.  Each of these activities weren’t something that the person had to do; they were activities that the person chose to do for the simple fact that it gave them pleasure.

Feel free to share the activities you enjoy doing in the morning. Thanks!  Remember to add them to your morning routine!

Your Friend and Pep Pal,

Lauren

Crafting a Life of Meaning, a Life that Matters: The First Step

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We all want a meaningful life, one that matters and the first step is admitting that your life isn’t working for you right now, not like it used to.  

The next step is to change it.  Obvious, right?

But how do you make that change?   And why would you because, probably,  you’ve led a good life so far. It might be that you and your spouse are in a loving committed relationship,  your finances are in decent shape,  the kids are making good solid lives for themselves,  you have good friends, good family relationships,  and you’ve achieved a level of success in your career.

What’s to complain about?  Nothing.

So, why are you feeling such discontent?

Plenty of people would change places with you in less than a nanosecond.  Knowing this makes you feel guilty.  You think that perhaps you’re selfish to want more, or to want something else.  By the same token, you’re a little scared to try anything new because you do have it pretty good and you don’t want to lose any of it.

Perhaps you think that painting the living room, buying the snazzy sports car, going on that impressive vacation may help ease the unsettledness inside of you. And these do help…temporarily.  Because your heart and soul are yearning for deeper change, pressing you for lasting change.

Here’s where the little baby steps come to the rescue!

In the space between admitting your life isn’t satisfying and getting up the gumption to make the changes that will enable you to be enthused and energized about your life, are little baby steps.

These baby steps deal with coming to grips with the realization that your Good Life is missing something—something profound.   These steps involve making your peace with your realization so that you aren’t hamstrung and tripped up by it.

Each person’s baby steps are a little different because each person and each life is unique. Having said that, though, some common baby steps are:

~Doing your homework of understanding exactly where you are dissatisfied.   Understanding that you probably don’t have to chuck it all. Your dissatisfaction may be only a small part of your life that isn’t working.

~Recognizing you don’t have to know all the answers of what isn’t working; you only need to start with the one piece that’s the most bothersome.

~Have a heart to heart with your spouse. Treating your unsettledness as a Big Adventure and going on it together. Also, encouraging and supporting your spouse in exploring the  inner recesses of himself/herself.

~Reminding yourself that it’s normal and natural to question your life from time-to-time. People through the ages—the Ancient Greeks, and probably earlier!—have been questioning their existence all along. You’re in good company!

 

These steps should be enough to get you going. We’ll continue to talk more about this in upcoming posts.

Let me know what you think of this topic. Feel free to share your thoughts in the comments below. Thanks!

Please pass this post along to a friend. Thanks!

Your Friend and Pep Pal,

Lauren

Forgiveness: Self Care Quotes

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As we touched on in yesterday’s post, forgiving people who aren’t sorry is difficult.  When we find ourselves in this type of circumstance, it’s important to step back and take a deeper look at the situation to gain a better understanding of what’s going on below the surface.

The next step after doing this non-judgmental thinking is to take care of ourselves.  It’s important to be compassionate and kind toward ourselves.  Here are a few quotes to remind us of this:

 

Lighten up on yourself. No one is perfect. Gently accept your humanness. – Deborah Day

 

Nothing external to you has any power over you. – Ralph Waldo Emerson

 

To experience peace does not mean that your life is always blissful. It means that you are capable of tapping into a blissful state of mind amidst the normal chaos of a hectic life. – Jill Bolte Taylor

 

Self-compassion is simply giving the same kindness to ourselves that we would give to others. – Christopher Germer

 

The greatest weapon against stress is our ability to choose one thought over another. – William James

 

When you recover or discover something that nourishes your soul and brings joy, care enough about yourself to make room for it in your life. – Jean Shinoda Bolen

 

Of all the judgments we pass in life, none is more important than the judgment we pass on ourselves. – Nathaniel Branden

 

Whatever you are doing, love yourself for doing it. Whatever you are feeling, love yourself for feeling it. – Thaddeus Golas

 

It’s not selfish to love yourself, take care of yourself, and to make your happiness a priority. It’s necessary. – Mandy Hale

 

Lack of forgiveness causes almost all of our self-sabotaging behavior. — Mark Victor Hansen

 

When I loved myself enough, I began leaving whatever wasn’t healthy. This meant people, jobs, my own beliefs and habits – anything that kept me small.  My judgement called it disloyal. Now I see it as self-loving. ~ Kim McMilllen

 

If one of these quotes resonated strongly with you, jot it down and keep it handy.  Refer to it whenever you need a boost.

Please pass this post along to a friend.  Thanks!

Your Friend and Pep Pal,

Lauren

Forgiving Others is Hard

 

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The ideal forgiveness situation is when the person who has caused you pain agrees to talk with you about it.  The person listens respectfully, perhaps they offer an explanation of what they did (or didn’t) do, and then they give a heartfelt and sincere apology.  To top it off, they follow through by changing their behavior so they don’t hurt you again.  It’s easy then to let go of any anger, resentment, or hurt you’ve been feeling and forgive them.

Most likely, though, even if you’re lucky enough to have experienced this scenario, it’s the exception rather than the rule.

Usually, when you try to talk to the person who has hurt you, very often they are defensive, perhaps argumentative, and may even try to make you feel silly or that you’re the one at fault for your hurt feelings.  They may say they’re sorry but they may also make it clear that they don’t really mean it.  It’s much harder to forgive in these circumstances.

What do you do then?

It’s time to take a deeper look at what’s going on.  Yes, you may have a legitimate grievance with the person who hurt you, but think about what this situation is revealing about you—not in a judgmental way but rather a fact-finding way?  What area of improvement is this experience showing you?

This is NOT about taking the blame or dismissing your feelings.  This is NOT about letting the person off the hook, condoning bad behavior, or becoming a doormat.  This is about understanding why their actions (or inactions) scored a direct hit.  Ask yourself if this current event is similar to something that happened in your past?

Take the time to sit with these questions—and others that may come up—and allow the real answers to come. These will show you what it is that you’re actually upset about.  Once you understand that, then you may find that you’re demanding an apology from the wrong person and, thus, trying to forgive the wrong person.

Something to think about!

Your Friend and Pep Pal,

Lauren

 

Back by Popular Demand: You’ve Failed? Congratulations!

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Bad choices, mistakes, and plain old stupidity.  Nobody wants to acknowledge these, much less talk about them.  People want to hear success stories, find the keys to success, and learn the 3 steps or 7 steps or 12 steps–or however many steps are in vogue at this moment–to success.  The media and our culture glorify it, making us feel envious and less-than, which Madison Avenue loves because then they can sell us something to “solve” it.

However, failure is one of the most important things you can do, as long as you don’t let it defeat you and as long as you don’t quit!

In spite of how discouraged–or ridiculous or stupid–you may feel and no matter how hard it is, take the next step!

Moving forward, even if it’s only by an infinitesimally small increment, is the only way to get through (around, under, or over) what seems like failure and defeat.  In reality, it’s a stepping-stone to a breakthrough for you.

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So, in the words of Winston Churchill, “When you’re going through hell, keep going!”  

Here are a few other quotes that might inspire and motivate you:

Failure is the condiment that gives success its flavor.

– Truman Capote

Being defeated is only a temporary condition; giving up is what makes it permanent.

– Marilyn vos Savant,

Fall down seven times, get up eight.

- Japanese Proverb

I’ve missed more than 9000 shots in my career. I’ve lost almost 300 games. 26 times, I’ve been trusted to take the game winning shot and missed. I’ve failed over and over and over again in my life. And that is why I succeed.

– Michael Jordan

 

Jot down any of the quotes that resonated with you and keep them handy so you can refer to them often.  I’m so proud of you for not giving in, for finding the steel and the fire within, and for moving forward.  

Your Friend and Pep Pal,

Lauren

A Meaningful Life: A Few Resources

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Here are a few books I’ve come across that may help you think about what would make your life meaningful and how to go about designing it.

I’ve listed the books in alphabetical order by title:

Image courtesy of Amazon.com
Image courtesy of Amazon.com

Designing Your Life:  How to Build a Well-Lived, Joyful Life by Bill Burnett and Dave Evans

I found this book to be very interesting because the authors show you how to use a design mindset rather than an engineering mindset when creating a life full of meaning—your dream life.

The authors explain the difference between design thinking and engineering thinking as the difference between thinking to create (design) and thinking to build (engineering).  With engineering thinking, you are building something, say, a house or a bridge.  There are templates, formulas, similar things that others have already built.  You may have to use a little design thinking—for instance, the terrain may pose challenges that haven’t really been solved before so you and your team have to be creative—but for the most part, you’re working with a number of “knowns”.

In design thinking, you’re basically making stuff up and trying it out, tweaking it or making more stuff up, trying that out, tweaking…etc..  You know what you want to achieve, but there are no templates, formulas, or “knowns” to work with.  You have to get creative, brainstorm, try out all sorts of things, refine and remake, try out things again…etc..

The authors point out that these are two different types of thinking.  One is not superior to the other, in fact, both types of thinking are needed to live in the world.  It’s helpful to have a clear understanding of these types of thinking because if (when!) you get stuck, it could be that you’re bringing the wrong type of thinking to the situation.

The book focuses mainly on design type thinking with explanations, examples, anecdotes, and “homework”.

 

Image courtesy of Amazon.com
Image courtesy of Amazon.com

Everything Happens for a Reason:  Finding the True Meaning of Events in Our Lives by Mira Kirshenbaum

According to Mira Kirshenbaum’s research and observations, the events in our lives fall into at least one of the categories of meanings.  The categories are:

~to help you feel at home in the world;

~to help you totally accept yourself;

~to show you that you can let go of fear;

~to bring you to the place where you can feel forgiveness;

~to help you uncover your true hidden talent;

~to give you what you need to find true love;

~to help you become stronger;

~to help you discover the play in life;

~to show you how to live with a sense of mission;

~and to help you become truly a good person.

In the book, she explains each of the categories and includes examples and anecdotes.  This can be helpful in making sense of something that may have happened years ago and is still negatively impacting your life.  It can help you find, understand, and accept the gift.  Then it can help you let it go so you can move closer to a life full of meaning—your dream life.

 

Image courtesy of Amazon.com
Image courtesy of Amazon.com

The Power of Meaning:  Crafting a Life that Matters by Emily Esfahani Smith

In this book, Emily Esfahani Smith includes examples and anecdotes, but she also adds some of the current research on meaning, what it is, and how to go about adding meaning to your life.  Don’t let the fact that it does contain the results of research deter you from picking up this book!  The author has a very engaging style and a talent for making the information easily understandable.

She distinguishes between a life aim of being happy versus a life aim of having your life matter.  Aiming for happiness can lead to striving for ease and a life with few problems and challenges.  There’s nothing wrong with this, however, it probably won’t satisfy that deeper *something* that you may be longing for or craving.  This is because your focus is primarily on yourself and your life, and looking to the outside for help and solutions.

Emily Esfahani Smith states that a life of meaning—a life that matters—on the other hand will usually NOT be easy and most likely will present you with MORE challenges, obstacles, and problems.  This is because your focus will be on how you—with your talents, your skills, your knowledge, your know-how, your abilities, your uniqueness—can contribute to the greater whole of the world—even if it’s “only” in your tiny community or neighborhood.  Your focus is on something much larger than yourself, and you’re looking within for the help and solutions—reaching deep within yourself to uncover and discover the gold and treasures within to then share with others.

She also makes other distinctions—perhaps they’re better called definitions—such as what Purpose means and how it doesn’t have to be a Big Thing like solving world hunger.

 

In my opinion, all of these books bring excellent thoughts to the topic of creating a meaningful life.  I recommend that you at least take a look at them.  Feel free to let me know what you think of them.

I am still in the process of digesting all the good stuff in these books.  I’ll definitely get back to you with other nuggets and tips that I glean from them!

Do you have some resources that you use?  Feel free to share in the comments below.  Thanks!

Your Friend and Pep Pal,

Lauren

PLEASE NOTE:  The links to these books on Amazon.com are NOT affiliate links.  I do NOT make any money on whether or not you click on the link and I do NOT make any money on whether or not you purchase any of these books.