Ask me my Name

I was watching an episode of a show called GIRLS and there is a character Mimi-Rose Howard who storms in for a couple of episodes as this beautiful and eccentric artist. In one particular episode she is sitting in a cab and for no reason at all says to the cab driver “Your name is Adeem?” the driver replies “Yes” then Mimi says “That is a really beautiful name.” Adeem’s face lights up with surprise and he can’t help but blush and thank her for her kindness. I bet she made his day.

How often do you ask for or acknowledge the name of the people you encounter? When was the last time you were in a cab, at a Starbucks, or really anywhere, and when someone asks you “How are you today?” you respond with anything other than “Good and you?” while you look at your phone, the menu, or walk away. You may never see that person again outside of your 2-5 min. encounter so maybe you think you won’t make a difference in their life, it doesn’t really matter, or you’re distracted by your own thoughts. I am definitely guilty of this.

We forget so quickly that we are all human. That grey haired mother of two cashing you out at the grocery store. The young female athlete in the picture you are commenting on. The high school graduate working as a barista to pay of his pending college debt. All of them have a name, a family, maybe a lover, a dog, some amazing talents, a wealth of knowledge and a story – have you ever asked them?

You might say we can connect all the time in infinite ways, whether it be via email, text, phone, social media, etc. However, it is a double edged sword. The “screen” makes it easier to forget that the person on the other side is a real person with feelings and emotions. All while the instant and constant connection makes it a lot harder to be present with those right in front of you.

I want to be like Mimi-Rose. I want to see a 2-5 minute interaction as an opportunity to make someone’s day, leave them a little better than when I got there, or at the very least make them smile. I want to ask questions, give compliments, and acknowledge people because they are human.

  • Give someone a compliment just because (“Your hair is such a beautiful color”)
  • Ask someone anything other than “How are you?” – try “Has anything exciting happened today?” “Do you have plans for this weekend? – I heard it might rain” “Are you from this city? How long have you lived here?”
  • Call someone by their name and if you don’t know it, ask for it. “What was your name?” “Mike” “Thank you Mike, you were very helpful I really appreciate it”
  • Keep technology for designated times when you couldn’t be missing a connection right in front of you.
  • Smile more, and make eye contact.

You can make someone’s day and you might be surprised at how much it makes yours too.

Hijacking the CNS

When negative or stressful emotions arise in us, they rarely go from 0-60 instantly. Occasionally they do, but generally there is an acceleration phase. A car cuts you off, your spouse says “You never do the dishes!” and you know you do the dishes often, or your boss says something degrading to you. In that moment you feel something in your chest, throat, stomach, ears, etc.

That part is totally natural. Our emotions are what protect us from danger, they are what make us want to take care of children, etc.

Then the stories start. “That piece of shit car driver doesn’t respect me. He/she doesn’t respect anyone and just always gets away with it.”

“My wife never notices the effort I put in, and the dishes is just one example. She thinks she’s the only one that does anything around here because she is so self-centered. This is so unfair.”

“I’m worthless. My boss hates me and I’m going to lose my job. Why do I even try here anyway?”

These stories are the problem. They are the reason that we can allow small things like a car cutting us off completely derail our day. We take the emotions, which are small fires, and add gasoline to them.

What if we didn’t add gasoline to that fire? It would just go away, and a lot quicker. To do this, you have to hijack your central nervous system.

Once this system kicks in (event happens, you feel emotion, you create a story in your head making the emotion stronger), it’s a pretty automatic response. We have years and years of programming to override.

Here’s how you do it:

  1. Something happens that causes what you would consider a “negative emotion.” The first step is to catch it before that story is created. Sometime this is .5 seconds, and sometimes it may be 30 seconds.
  1. Rather than create a story to explain the emotion, try to describe the physical sensation. “I feel it in my solar plexus. It’s a tight feeling. It’s hot. It makes it harder to breathe. Etc.” The more detail to it the better.
  1. Once you have described it fully, take 10 deep breaths in which the exhale is twice as long as the inhale. Something like 3 seconds in and 6 seconds out for a count of 10.

You are becoming aware of the physical sensation and being present with that emotion. When we fully feel these emotions they pass so much more quickly and never reach that same degree of intensity.  This is mindfulness in practice. As you can probably imagine, this is not an easy thing to do. However, when done correctly it will have a significant and immediate impact, and the easier it will be to remember next time.

Try it out, and please let me know how goes for you.

The Choice Moment

 

Recently I learned about a concept called “The Choice Moment” from the book “Conscious Loving” by Gay and Kathlyn Hendricks.

The choice moment is that moment when we can either be completely honest with our partners (or friend, or family member), or we can hide part or all of the truth. There are moments like this every single day, and how we deal with these moments determines whether we are consciously or unconsciously loving our partners. Here’s an example to illustrate what I mean:

When we were in New Orleans the other day, I suddenly became very insecure about something Adee did. The choice moment here is the moment when I can choose to tell her the full truth about what I was feeling, part of the truth, or nothing at all and pretend like it didn’t happen.

I chose to pretend like it didn’t affect me partly because I was embarrassed for being insecure about it in the first place and partly because it was a small “revenge” to hide it from her.

So I withheld the information, and then I withdrew. I was suddenly a little more distant from her. About 60 seconds later she is saying something and I casually say she sounds arrogant, which was complete bullshit. We had about 15 seconds of messy, awkward back-and-forth before I made the choice to be honest.

After I told her the full truth of what I was feeling and the stories I was telling myself in my head, we were able to work through it. Over the course of the next 10 minutes we talked about ways that both of us could be better in the future in that situation. She was grateful to me for being honest, and I was to her for seeing and understanding my side.

In the past I might have held that in for hours (usually my limit) before bringing it up or having it come out sideways. Instead I corrected myself within 5 minutes and we became closer because of it.

These moments are fewer and further between the more we practice, but every time something does come up, it’s always uncomfortable. That’s ok. Once you commit to doing the uncomfortable things to love consciously “true intimacy begins.”

I can’t recommend this book enough. It’s full of useful info from their research (they are have Ph.D’s in psychology) as well as clinical experience. It is literally a playbook of how to have a closer, happier relationship which sounds like a good thing to have.

Love Yourself First

I saw this post from Aubrey Marcus (CEO of ONNIT) on Facebook yesterday and couldn’t help but share it with you all.

He wrote:

“Have you ever gone to the supermarket starving, or with wicked munchies? You end up with a bunch of weird shit in your basket. This is the same as those who are desperate for love and trying to find others to satiate that desire. Often times, you will end up with something unhealthy you are taking home. So if you want to avoid dating the equivalent of Funyuns, self love is the place to start.”

Learning to love yourself is hard. What happens if you take a moment to get to know yourself and don’t like who you are? That will be painful, uncomfortable, and definitely difficult. However, that is the only way to get to the other side – self love. Spend some time alone, really getting to know who you are and what you need so you can ensure your actions align with your morals and values. The place you end up is where love is born and happiness thrives.

Without self love the partners you choose will all be loving that version of yourself you don’t even like. This is a recipe for disaster.

Stop Being a Worry Wart

I have just about finished my current book “The Big Leap – Gay Hendricks” and I would definitely say it is worth the read. If you want to learn about what is limiting you from becoming the happiest, most successful version of yourself, this book is a must.

Hendricks talks about all the ways that we limit ourselves from being happy and accepting wealth and abundance. When things are going really well rather than accepting it, enjoying it, and continuing to build upon it we do something that brings us down. It’s like the saying “too good to be true,” we naturally assume that with all good comes bad and we couldn’t possibly be happy all the time. Why not? Why aren’t we willing to be happy all the time?

One of those things we do to bring us down is worrying. How many of you worry? Worry about whether you left the oven on, if your success will be short lived, if you can pay the bills this month, if you made the right investment, anything at all. Hendricks challenges you to think of worrying as you crimping the flow of positive energy. What I found very interesting about this is that he links worrying to some positive or successful moment in your life. Things are going well at work? You worry about your wife cheating on you. You just qualified for a National Championships? You worry that you might get injured. Instead of embracing success and happiness you search for what must be going wrong – I couldn’t possibly have happiness without sacrifice.

Of course not every worry can be to stop the flow of positive energy, some worries are real and necessary to ensure your house doesn’t burn down! So how can we know when the worry is real or something we use to limit our own happiness?

There are two questions you should ask yourself:

Is it a real possibility?

Is there any action I can take right now (in this exact moment) to make a positive difference?

When the worry is if you left the oven on the answers are obviously yes to both. It is definitely a real possibility and you can take action to go home and check. However, if your worry is something like – my success won’t last – and leads to a “no” answer to these questions stop yourself right in your tracks and tell yourself one thing: you deserve to be happy, wealthy, and loved. Worrying is only limiting yourself from the happiness you deserve. Give yourself permission to be happy.

In the movie “Bridge of Spies” the character on trial was never worried even though he was facing terrible charges that would surely change his life forever. His lawyer asked him on a number of occasions “Do you never worry?” and he always replied “Would it help?”

Why Believe in Others

You know that friend you have with low self-esteem, that actually has amazing gifts?  The person that you believe in so much even though he/she doesn’t believe in himself/herself?  Well, we all have a little bit of that in us.  And we all have something that we can be great at.  Treat people like they are the best version of themselves, the version that you can see through all the self-doubt.  Hold them to a higher standard.  Believe in them.

This video is of Viktor Frankl, author of Man’s Search for Meaning, talking about why we should believe in others.  Please check it out.  It’s only 4 minutes.

https://www.ted.com/talks/viktor_frankl_youth_in_search_of_meaning

Therapy is Cool

For the longest time I thought therapy was for people that were broken, weak, or had something “wrong” with them. Whenever I heard people mentioning “talking to a professional” it was always followed by discomfort, an awkward silence, or someone being offended. I automatically assumed therapy was something negative, something I would never need, something we needed to whisper about.

Over the past year my life has drastically changed. I went from being a full time student and athlete to running a company with 12 employees and thousands of active clients all while living in a new country with my new boyfriend. I have freedom of place and time, and I can honestly say I love my life. So many people think my life is “perfect” and I am “living the dream” so why on earth would I need therapy?

I met my boyfriend Michael Cazayoux and he completely changed my life. He is a recovering heroin addict and through that experience has been through years of therapy and treatment. I saw him living a life of honesty, vulnerability, and actively working every day on being a person of integrity. I wanted so much of what he had “figured out”. Nothing phased him, he rarely gets upset, talks bad about people, and always sees the good in those around him. Imagine being at an airport and your flight gets delayed, then the next one is over booked, you have to spend the night sleeping on the airport floor, and you miss 2 full days of your vacation. Michael would laugh, smile, and kindly tell the customer service agent “It’s okay, I know it’s not your fault.”

I wanted that. I wanted to be happy all the time and to feel like my emotions don’t control me. Michael attributes much of his current state of mind to the years he spent in rehab. This triggered curiosity in me. Do I need to “need” therapy to benefit from it?

Absolutely not.

Talking to a neutral third party, with no hidden agenda, that is experienced in mental health is for everyone and anyone. You don’t need to be an addict, have a mental breakdown, be diagnosed with a psychological disorder, or be struggling with anything serious at all. We all struggle with something and I can guarantee that you will be happier, healthier, and more successful after talking to a professional.

I have never had a rock bottom experience the same way Michael has but having someone to speak to where the focus is 100% on me has been one of the most eye opening experiences of my life. I vividly remember before my first appointment I thought to myself “What if I don’t have anything to talk about? I’m not really struggling with anything right now.” To my surprise 1 hour was not enough time. I have become better in every single way and have gotten to know depths of myself that I didn’t know existed.

I could grow and learn without professional help, but that’s like saying I could lose weight without a nutritionist, or do my taxes without an accountant. They are the experts for a reason, let them do what they do best. Taking the time to work on yourself is the most unselfish thing you can do. It will, without a doubt, be uncomfortable, painful, and bring up things you’ve spent years trying to bury, but it will be worth it.

Therapy is cool.

Integrity

Doing what you say you’re going to do, when you say you are going to do it.

Integrity is wiping the toilet seat in a public restroom after you just got some of your piss on it, knowing that no one would ever know it was you if you left it there.

It’s NOT throwing trash on the ground when you are walking through the park.

It’s calling your friend back because you said you would.

It’s getting up early enough to make yourself a balanced meal rather than grabbing a Gogurt on the way out the door because you told yourself you would. (But let’s be real. Frozen Gogurts are one of the unsung heros of the last decade)

We MUST do all of these small things, and we must do them consistently if we ever want a chance of following through on the big goals we set for ourselves.

Every time we break a promise we made to ourselves or someone else, we destroy trust.  Loss of trust in ourselves leads to self-doubt, low self-esteem, and a further lack of follow through.  Nothing destroys relationships with others like the loss of trust.  Get in the habit of doing the small things every time and watch your self-confidence and relationships grow.

The Voice in your Head

You hear that voice in your head? The voice that seems to always have something to say. You could be sitting trying to relax and in your head you hear “Am I hungry?” “Did I forget to turn the oven off?” “Maybe I should call Michael and see what he’s up to.” Where is that voice coming from? Who does it belong to? Is it you?

I am currently reading a book called The Untethered Soul – I highly recommend it. This book starts off by discussing this voice and who it belongs to. I never really took the time to think about it, is that voice me? The voice constantly contradicts itself, it sometimes gives terrible advice, sometimes I completely disagree with it, so then could it really be me?

Imagine it is your birthday, you are waiting on your boyfriend for dinner and he’s late. The voice in your head is quick to say “He forgot my birthday, he doesn’t even care about me.” A couple minutes later your boyfriend calls and the voice in your head is saying “Ignore him, he forgot your birthday you don’t even want to talk to him right now.” You decide not to listen and answer anyways to find out he is late because he was planning an incredible surprise for you. If you had listened to the voice in your head you would have gotten it all wrong ruining the surprise and your birthday.

Now imagine that voice was coming from a friend, would you appreciate their advice in the future? Definitely not as much. Then why 10-20 minutes after getting terrible advice do we listen to that voice in our own head no questions asked? We think it’s us.

That voice is not you.

That voice is insecurities, shame, fear, excitement, anger, all the emotions expressing themselves incessantly. This is not you but rather a voice that you have created and if you let it one the will never shut up making it harder to actually hear your own voice. The way to mindfulness is to quiet that voice. You may never be able to turn it off completely but letting the thoughts and emotions pass will ultimately help you become a happier, healthier, and more successful human being.

One of my favourite quotes I heard from a friend Brooke Ence is to think of thoughts and emotions like birds flying by. You want to see them, acknowledge them, but let them fly by without a care. What you want to avoid is allowing those birds to build a nest in your hair.

Put down the shovel

joe-rogan

I was that guy (kid) with the gun in his mouth once upon a time. Literally. I was depressed and completely lost. It’s taken years and years of constant work, but now I am completely happy and free.

It took a rock bottom experience for me to finally wake up. The thing is, I could have dug much deeper. I made the choice for that to be my rock bottom, and decided to stop digging.

If you are reading this and feel like you are stuck, depressed, scared, hopeless, etc. just know there is hope. You can choose TODAY to be done digging and start to pull yourself out.

There will never be a time when it’s easy or comfortable, but I promise you it’s better than being miserable.

This also goes for any of you that have big hopes and dreams but are too afraid to take that first step. “Oh but I’ll never be good enough” “People will think I’m so arrogant for even trying this” “But what if I fail” etc.

You can make the choice right now to stop making excuses and start TAKING ACTION. One step at a time, one day at a time.