Practice Gratitude

Stone Gratitude

I keep a gratitude journal as part of my morning routine. Each morning I list 10 things, people, items I am grateful for. It can be anything. I don’t even know where I got it from, but it came at a time I was adjusting things in my life. I was not doing any gratitude work. Doing it every morning and starting my day with showing gratitude keeps it in the forefront of my mind. I was not counting on that though I have always considered myself a grateful person. This has multiplied that gratefulness.

Some mornings coming up with ten is a little challenging. Ten pushes me to explore what I have in my life, who I have in my life to have gratitude for. Still those mornings I sit at my desk needing two, three, four more to complete my list. I look around my office, look at my schedule for the day, look outside to find them. I make it but usually with some repeats like my wife, family, grandchildren, house, clients, money. You know the biggies.

About a week ago I was listening to a podcast by another coach. His practice is each morning to come up with one thing to have gratitude for. Even with only one thing to have gratitude for he was running into my challenge. Repeats. Running out of the biggies to have gratitude for. He challenged his audience to show gratitude for their last breath.

That hung with me. Several days later, Thursday, I was sitting at my desk doing my gratitude journal. Like normal I was running out of new things to be grateful for. As I was sitting I heard the trash truck out front picking up the trash. The light bulb went off in my head. I listed the trash pickup on my list followed by the recycling pickup.

I was actually surprised I came up with that. Pushing the limits of being grateful and being creative.

What had me be surprised? What was stopping me from seeing gratitude for the trash pickup? What stopped me for me being grateful for my last breath as write this?

It’s that biggie thing I mentioned earlier. Ranking, comparison. Big, little. Important, less important. This leads to less gratitude for what we have in our life. Less awareness of what we have in our life. Less awareness of our life. Less awareness of life.

Can you be grateful for everything? Yes.

Can you list all that you are grateful for? That would take a life time. And that’s the point. Living a life of gratitude. Taking time to notice what and who is in your life day by day, hour by hour. Gratitude is a lifestyle.

Listing ten things each morning is a practice that assists me in building my awareness and gratitude. It is not the extent of gratitude. Just a practice. I know my awareness of my life has grown since February when I took this on. Doing it in the morning sets my mind for my day. Setting my mind for my day opens my eyes, my mind, my being to what is in my day and for having gratitude for my day and what’s in it.

What are you grateful for right now? Look around you. Be mindful and aware of what is there. Who is there. You could be grateful for the device you are reading this on. You could be grateful being able to read. Your desk, chair, person next to you, the coffee shop you are in, your breath. Smell anything to be grateful for? Hear anything to be grateful for? Close your eyes. What do you sense in your being to be grateful for?

What practice could you take on to increase your gratitude?

What would change for you with expanding your gratitude?

How do you practice showing gratitude?

Leave a comment.

 

 

 

 

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Outing Shame

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Do you ever have a shame fest? You know one of those that comes up and rages no matter how much you have done, are doing, or have planned to do. All you hear is shame screaming at you, “You are not good enough. It doesn’t matter what you do. You have never been good enough. You will never be good enough. You are a fraud, fake, phony.” As the storm progresses all the shouts of ‘you’ become echoes of “I” as you begin agreeing with shame.

Sounds like my Sunday afternoon this week. Like some of my days, afternoons, and evenings.

I am a coach, but my business is not where I would like it. To be clear it is not where I would like it due to the shame of not being good enough to be a coach. According to my clients and their results I am a very good coach. My shame of not being good enough has no connection to reality. That’s how shame works.

To fill the financial gap while I grow my business I am an Uber driver. This Sunday morning, I was out driving Uber. Every time I drive my shame starts and builds to a scream. There is nothing wrong with driving Uber except my shame tells me that driving Uber is embarrassing, not professional, not fitting for a coach. I am a coach fraud.

I came home early from driving for a grandson’s birthday party. I was late. Late because I kept driving Uber on the way home. Always doing more to make more. On the way I felt the headache begin. As I walked in late and saw everyone eating my headache yelled. Most of my shame storms come with a headache from the pressure I put on myself. I ate separately from the family in my office. Blinds closed. Hiding so no one would see my shame.

Then there is pride, shame’s cousin. Always close by. Pride is the driver that keeps us, me, doing more, earning more. Doing anything, maybe everything, to make up for shame. To quiet shame. The catch about shame is that regardless of how much you, work, how much you earn, how much of anything you do, shame is always there. Again, there is no connection between shame and how much you do.

Some may use alcohol, drugs, sex, pornography, work, working out, shopping, food, anything to numb the shame. Trying to find relief but only temporarily. Numbing doesn’t just numb the shame, it numbs all the positive feelings. Brene Brown says you cannot selectively numb. You numb one. You numb all.

What works? For me confronting shame. At the very least, I write it about it in a notebook I keep. You could see me purposefully yelling in the car. Expressing physically to get the energy out. If my wife is available, I call her and share how I am feeling. Learning to tell my wife was a breakthrough. We have been married almost 33 years and for most of our marriage I kept it all to myself. Shame does not want you to tell anyone. That could be embarrassing. Whoever I tell could reject me if I tell them. At least that is what shame wants me to believe. I can also reach out to my coach or counselor. The last is to write about it and tell the world. Shame needs to be outed.

No Room For Blame

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Memo, 8, the youngest of four grandchildren at our house, became mad when his mother sent him back to his room after he was caught watching TV before school. He already knew he was grounded for the rest of the week for an incident the night before. The announced guidelines are the children could be outside till 6pm but if any of them wanted to use technology they had to come in before 6pm because technology time is over at 6pm. He knew the guidelines but still threw a fit when he came in at 6pm and wanted technology time. This caused his grounding for the rest of the school week. He knew he was grounded when he came out to watch TV before school. With all the information and knowledge he still became mad at his mom for sending him back to his room.

Notice that with the directions and guidelines he still became mad and blamed other people. Nothing was his fault. He took no responsibility for his actions and his anger. Everything was someone else’s fault. “Wow, that’s childish. Exactly like a child,” we think.

Then what about us big people, the grown-ups, who do the same. I know I do. Even though I had a part in the event, results, consequences yet I blame other people and things around me. See how early we learn this behavior then perpetuate it as we grow up.

What’s the purpose of this? Blame. If something happens someone must be blamed. Better for it to be someone else’s fault than ours. I know have been there and still go there. For me it I do not want to blame myself. If I do I know I am going to beat myself up for it. If the blame goes a different direction I don’t have to beat on myself.

What if there is another way? No blame. No beating up self. Yes, it’s possible. It’s called responsibility. Consider that blame is disempowering. Even if the blame is placed on someone else it is of course disempowering for them but for us, too. Responsibility is empowering. The point is to be responsible for my part, without self-blame, and let their part go. Let them handle their part how they choose. We all know when we are wrong anyway. We do. They do. Both sides want to avoid beating up self. No one must take a beating though.

Is this selfish? No. For each of us our first responsibility is self. Somewhere along the line we pick up that being our best, taking responsibility for self, standing up for self is selfish. It is not because if we do not stand for self we cannot stand up for anyone else. If you are a leader, teacher, mentor, parent take this to heart. Empower yourself to empower others.

Being responsible is the high road. And its road you may travel alone at times. Somewhere in life we take on that being alone means you did something wrong. It may mean you did something right. The opportunity is find other travelers who also feel alone. Bond with them. Travel together. Enlighten and empower each other. Be light in a world that has become too comfortable with darkness.

Southern Ramblings from My Heart

636112184612578536855433122_southernatheartfoodnetworkI am a born and raised southern man from Greenville, Mississippi. I went to college at Louisiana Tech Univ, Ruston. I married a southern girl from Shreveport, LA. I am proud to be from the south.

The south had a southern culture before slavery and the civil war. It had a culture after the civil. There are those who still choose to define the south based on the cotton-slave culture that gave way to the beginning of the civil war. That was not the south. That was the cotton-slave culture though many took part in it. Many did not. I know from the south that many tout the atrocities committed against the south by the union armies. The confederate army committed atrocities against the north. Yes, slavery to was and is an atrocity against the basics of humanity.

Nothing is going to change as the those in the south base life and beliefs on the end of the civil war. The nation is not going to change unless we all step outside of the context of the civil war that formally end in 1865.

I do not live in the south or the east or the north. I live in Everett, WA north of Seattle. I was amazed when I moved here and discovered “civil war” cemeteries marked with “Yankee” and “Confederate” graves. Symbolic of the wide spread affect of the war to this day.

Is there prejudice and racism? Yes!

Many do not realize that Tammy and I are from the south. We have lost much of our accent. We felt forced to work to lose our accent when we move to Kansas City, MO in 1988 where is was made clear to us that we were looked down on because we were white southerners. To this day many social and racial lines are based on the civil war and when we lived there those differences were reinforced in parts of society. We even had family, friends, who asked why we were moving to “damn Yankee country” when we moved to KC. White on white and black on white prejudice because we were from the south.

I do no mean to downplay the racism and prejudice perpetrated on non-whites, specifically black Americans. What I have learned that racism and prejudice flows so many different directions.

I currently drive Uber in Seattle. This has given me a view of the pervasiveness of racism and prejudice. I regularly have white riders comment or at least take notice that I am “white Uber driver”. I have even had comments as to how long it has been since a white rider had seen a white driver.

There is even prejudice between different ethnic groups of drivers through looks and glances followed by selected vocal tones when one sees a driver of different ethnic background.

My daughter has a black friend at her work. She uses Uber to go back and forth between work and home, and she has a hard time getting a ride. In her part of the city many of the first drivers that arrive are from a particular non-white background. They pull up, see a black person, shake their head no, and drive off. I could not believe it.

I am aware of the look of anger, fear, distrust, I receive from many ethnic groups because I am a white male. This stuns me each time it happens. It also saddens me.

I am white. I am aware I have unintentionally denied some things for a while. Today I am working on changing some those viewpoints, or the lack of viewing them.

Prejudice, racism, is alive and flourishing from so many different points. Each of us needs to take a look at our life and root it out. We cannot take action on it if we are not willing to look it in ourselves. And, whites, like me, starting with me, need to take the lead.

Enough for now.

Peace All

You Have a Choice with Your Fears

 

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What are you afraid of? Spiders, darkness, snakes, falling . . .those are fears outside of you.

I ask again, what are you afraid of? I am pointing at the inside fears in your mind, heart, soul, that you don’t like to look at or talk about; that you dread hearing mentioned in a conversation or a meeting.

Not being good enough, rejection, shame, unworthy, unlovable, can never have my dream, fraud . . . Those are some of mine.

What is fear stopping you from being and accomplishing? More precisely, what are you allowing fear to stop you from being and accomplishing? And what is it costing you?

You are reading what I allowed fear to stop. My first email newsletter. I started the account for an email newsletter in January 2015 and now I am finally taking the action.

What got in my way? Fear . . . I didn’t know enough, why would anyone read what I wrote, everything had to be perfect, not asking for help, people might not like me for it . . . all rooted in fear. The cost has been not growing my coaching practice and coaching clients, financial struggles, connection with people, condemning myself.

Allowing fear to stop me in my life has cost me friends, connections, money, business, growth, time, travel, freedom, peace of mind.

We all have fears and we all have allowed our fear to stop us at some point in our lives.

Does life always have to be like this?

No, life does not have to be like this.

What can you do when fear shows up?

  1. Embrace the fear. Notice, acknowledge, name the fear. Bring the fear into the open. Fear cannot grow in the light. Fear grows when it is hidden and kept in the dark. Talk about it. Write about it. Share about it. Air it out. A side benefit is discovering you are not the only one with fear.
  1. Reframe your fear. It is just a feeling that stops you. If you feared something, even the same thing, in the past, fear is still only a feeling. Past fear and past circumstances do not have to influence your present. The connection is one you choose to make. Fear is false evidence appearing real.
  1. Practice self-compassion. Many times, when fear shows up we ask, “what did I do wrong?” “What’s my problem?” Or maybe “I am such a loser.” We condemn ourselves for being afraid. I know because I do. Understand your fear. It is a leftover from caveman days of fight or flight, a left over from our younger days when we did not know what to do with fear. If you had a scared child with you would you get mad and blame them, or provide warmth and comfort? Be nice. Allow yourself warmth and comfort.
  1. Take action. Take a step despite your fear. Positive action is the best defense to fear. When fear shows up many times we stop our action. Lack of action in the face of fear reinforces the fear. Consider that when we resist action, fear persists.

You may be afraid!
You may have allowed fear to stop you!
You have a choice!
Choose a new way now!

More Ramblings – Disenfranchisement

The Following is a FB post I wrote on November on 10 about 36 hours after the election.

The word disenfranchise is being used a great deal in this election and politics as a whole. I have seen and heard where Clinton’s supporters feel disenfranchised. I have seen and heard that those who voted for Trump felt disenfranchised by the Obama administration.

Disenfranchise has 3 main definitions that I have found. The first is to be “deprive of the right to vote”. That is not the case here. Of the 240 million voting age US citizens only 4 millions because of the law are not allowed to vote. That leaves 236 million voting age of which only about 200 million are registered to vote and only about 120 million of the 200 million voted. Of developed countries the US has one of the lost voting percentages in the world.

The two other definitions are “deprive of a right or privilege” and “deprive of power, marginalized”. I believe this is where it starts. In my first paragraph I used the phrase “feel disenfranchised”. The key is word is feel or feeling. Of the 240 million voting age or registered we have about 115 million people on both side who feel their vote does not matter so they either do not register or do not vote.

Every citizen in this country has rights and privileges by law. That said I know that is not perfect. However, I believe that most of the nation, either side, feel like they do not have the rights and privileges of law. The key again is “feel like.”

The third definition is “deprive of power or marginalize.” Again the phrase “feel like” will come into play.

My point is the greatest percentage of the nation feels no sense of personal power, personal greatness, personal freedom. This is a societal systemic issue. What has happened to personal power, greatness, and freedom? I know in the past it was taken away by law for many. I believe that is not the case now. Either way I assert the government cannot grant or take away that which you feel like you will never have or cannot have regardless of law. We have a system where 10’s of millions are depending on the government or another group for their personal power, greatness, freedom.

This is the saddest and most critical part. Everyone by right of their being has personal power, greatness, freedom. Each person must claim it, activate it, use it, live it, share it. And not wait on the government or another group to say “you have it, go use it.” This nation was founded on innate personal power, greatness, and freedom but we have allowed it to be beat, drained, taken from us. Some felt powerless when it was beat, drained, taken but even beating, disservice, lack of legal rights cannot take it away unless we allow it. Not even money, wealth can change this.

Those of us who know this, live it, believe it, (power, greatness, freedom), even if we ourselves struggle with it, need to shout it from the low places and the high places. Remind the adults, middle aged, even the elderly, and teach it to the children and teens. Everyone has regardless of age. This not something that we adults need to say “its too late for us, let the young make it.” Bullshit! We are there example. Are we telling them its there, its ok when your young but don’t count on it as an adult? In this I include every person of color, white, black, brown, tan, red. Every LBGT and every straight person.

Nothing, no one can take away what is yours by God-given, universal, natural design unless you give it up. Reclaim and take back what is yours, always has been, always will be.

My Rambling Thoughts from The Day After

The following is a FB post I wrote on the morning of November 9—–

My current rambling thoughts.

I voted. I did not like either choice but I voted. I have voted in every election since I turned 18.

It is time for the name calling to cease. It serves no purpose.

And regardless of what you think, the majority of this country spoke.

If you actually pay attention to this country you could see this coming. At some point the masses will speak. In recent times this has been set up since at least Reagan but the roots can be traced back much further. Maybe to the civil war. News has said for a year that we as a nation are more polarized now than at the end of the civil war in 1865.

Did anyone think Trump would be elected? No. Yesterday morning, by news reports, the Trump camp was leaning toward not being elected. The Clinton camp leaning toward being elected. Based on polls? Probably. As heard news last night say, both conservative and liberal media, maybe its time to throw out the current prediction models.

Several interesting points. Trump may have received one of the largest evangelical votes in the last 100 years. Next is generational lines. I saw one percentage break down last night that had Clinton carrying the 18-44 and Trump the 45 and up crowd. Its seems most comments this morning are along those lines.

Clinton was the politician. Trump was the outsider. I suggest that the DNC and RNC both pay attention to the results.

Founding history can give us a clue here. I believe the founding fathers never conceived of career politicians. It can be said that that is one part of what the American Revolution was fought over. George Washington was elected the first president, then went back home. Maybe a simplistic view but it fits.

Trump might be considered the 3rd party candidate who ran under the Republican flag without the machines support. All thought no one could be elected without the DNC or RNC machine.

Appears that thought discounted the machine called the American people. Those people that I have seen called the uneducated. That comes off to me as elitist. That I am more educated than you thus I can vote better than you.

Clinton has been called an elitist. Obama and Romney both were called elitist. Trump was not whether he is or isn’t. One may make the statement that most of our leaders in modern times have been elitist. Elitism is one thing that is at the root of this. Each group thinking they are “better than” the other. Not just good but actually better than the other group. This may not be you but I assure you it is out there.

And “better than” is based in fear. It is not enough to “be good.” To count I must be “better than”. Chocked full of fear and powerlessness. To be someone and have power I must be more than someone else.

Politics as run now is fear based. Candidates may share a little of why they are the best but they spend most the the time telling why the other guy is bad. Then they appeal to your fears. We need a new system that does play on our fears. As long as a fear-based system is in place nothing will change.

Enough rambling for now.

Politics as run now is fear based. Candidates may share a little of why they are the best but they spend most the the time telling why the other guy is bad. Then they appeal to your fears. We need a new system that does play on our fears. As long as a fear-based system is in place nothing will change.

Enough rambling for now.