Albert Einstein on Success

On success

AP Photo

“If A is a success in life, then A equals X plus Y plus Z.  Work is X; Y is play, and Z is keeping your mouth shut.”

Work.  Play.  Listen.  Einstein’s formula for experiencing a new version of life called A.

The questions that sometimes emerge in my journaling are about how to combine work and play so that they are seamlessly one.  How can I enjoy my work so much that it feels like play?  And how can I incorporate more play into my work, while still feeling like I am creating something that serves another?

Perhaps my answer lies in Z.   Maybe I am not listening.   At least not enough.  My mouth is open and expressing thoughts, feelings, and even complaints.  If I paused to meditate, breathe, pause, and listen, it is possible that I might feel more simpatico with life’s meaning, purpose, objective — or whatever it is that drives us and compels us to discover and contribute and, ultimately, feel more successful.

Work.  Play.  Keep my mouth shut.   Listen.  Pay attention to the promptings and follow through.  Play more music.  Take longer walks.  Look around.  Be still.   Follow.   Experience a success in life.

 

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A Lesson from the Subconscious: the Evolution of Good

Big-life-change-quoteIs there something you are doing that is causing you pain?  Or stress?  Or grief?  Or anger?  Or non-optimal health?  If the answer is yes, stop doing it.  Change your position.  Shift into feeling good.  Change now.  Life really is short.  There is no time for regret.

IMG_0975It is like when you wake up in the middle of the night and you realize that the way your arm is positioned is causing you neck pain.  Your subconscious is so strong, you have been allowing yourself to sleep through it.

You begin to wake up and Continue reading

What’s in your complaint box?

834px-complaint_department_grenadeWhat’s in your complaint box?  Any chance of turning those complaints around and thinking of them as blessings?

I’ve been doing an experiment.  Every day I write down as many things that I can think of from the day under the heading: Good Things That Happened Today.  It isn’t hard to think of things.  As with anything in life — when you pause to take an inventory — there is much more going on than that which skims the surface.

After I finish my Good Things list, I then write as many things that I can think of under the heading: My Takeaways on Life in the Current Moment.  When I pause to think of My Takeaways, all sorts of good things start to burble forth — things that hitherto felt like an obstacle or a challenge or a frustration.  It’s like magic.  The weird stuff suddenly starts to transform into a better place.

For example, imagine that you are making an offer to purchase what you perceive to be your Dream Home.  And we’re talking Dream Home, people.  You are convinced that this house is It.  It is exactly what you want to buy and to live in for the rest of your life — or at the very least the next decade.  In your Good Things list, you write: I made an offer on my Dream Home today!!!!!

But then life intervenes.  Another offer comes in on the same day as yours, but $10,000 higher than your offer.  And to make matters worse for you, their financing is in perfect order.  Guess whose offer gets accepted?  You feel bummed!  That was your house!  Not theirs!  

The days pass and you search for things to put down on your Good Things list.  You might even write under Takeaways: I learned that it is best to remove such high emotion from a business deal.  Something like this.  But then.  Something really crazy happens.  You read about an opportunity to go to Ireland and serve as an intern at this amazing art school.  It’s your dream!!  You apply.  You get accepted.  Guess what?  You’re going to Ireland for a full year!  Woot!

This adventure gets listed under Good Things.  In addition to recording this adventure to Ireland on your list, you write, I‘m so glad that that house deal fell through!  Thank you!!! on the line directly below your entry about the Ireland opportunity.  You see the correlation so clearly.  In fact — even better yet — you feel the correlation and you experience an understanding that calms your soul and quells your frustrations about the house deal falling through.  All is right with the world and you marvel at how things just work out!

You get the idea.  The seemingly bad breaks that occur in life have all the potential to set us up for something even better.  You just have to be looking.  Be aware.  Be open to seeing the “bad stuff” as “potential good stuff.”  That there are Takeaways, if you only look.  Life events aren’t always easy to dissect into lists, but I find that if I really stretch and embrace both the Good Things and the Takeaways . . . I learn a lot about me and how I can be happy in the flow of the present moment.

How about you?  Do you want to join me in my Good Things/Takeaway challenge?  If you want a PDF to download to get you started, just submit your email address and I’ll send it to you.  It’s fun to turn things around to a place that allows you to embrace that which seemed like such a bummer.

As for me?  Well, I thought that it was going to be smooth and perfect sailing as I prepared to go forth to Ireland . . . but the art internship fell through — something about something occurred, which meant I wasn’t going away to Ireland for a year.

Now, this unwelcome news certainly wasn’t expected, but I am learning as a result of my daily lists.  Instead of listing the loss of my Ireland trip in my Takeaway list, I recorded it immediately in my Good Things list.  After all, I am learning about this life stuff in a new way that is changing my mind and my heart.  I know that something good is happening right now . . . and I am trimming the unexpected starboard list of the boat that I thought was set to sail for Ireland.  It’s a good thing that there were life rafts on that boat!

And I am ready for the next adventure.

Who knows what’s next?  I don’t.  Be it a Good Thing or a Takeaway, I am learning that what works best is for me to be open.  To understand that I don’t have a bird’s-eye view of every little piece that has been set in motion.  To be me and to be happy and to have a light heart.  To stop complaining and to start paying better attention.

Life + Movement = Balance

bicycle einsteinCan you remember that first time you were actually pedaling, steering, and balancing a bicycle all by yourself?

“Life is like riding a bicycle.  To keep your balance, you must keep moving.”  Albert Einstein has had so many wonderful and uplifting quotes attributed to him.  Not only was the man a genius, but he was also very wise.

Life is like riding a bicycle.  If you are riding a bicycle and you stop moving, there’s a good chance that your balance will go all cattywampus and you will fall down. Boom and Ouch.

When it comes to bicycling and balancing, your options are somewhat limited: keep moving, stop moving and fall on the ground, or get off the bicycle completely and start walking.  And when it comes to life, we intuit and believe and know that out life options are not somewhat limited.  In fact, some of us believe that our options are infinite.  But are they?  I’m just wondering aloud here . . . what do you think?   I think that Einstein’s brilliance might be the answer here: Our options stay alive when we stay in balance our Higher Self with the pavement beneath us.

I like the spirit of Einstein’s quote and how he has reduced this simile to its simplest terms: ride or fall.  Keep going or get stuck.  And I do believe that some life changes have necessitated the need to trade in an old ride for a new one.

There are times in my life that I look back on and now can see that parking the bicycle was the best thing I could have done.  After living in a state of stagnancy, falling to the ground numerous times, and feeling the Ouch Factor, I finally came to my senses and parked the bicycle and walked away.  Heck, I didn’t even bother locking it up to a bike stand or a nearby tree because I knew that I was never going to give that bicycle another go.  Let someone else have it!  Some events in life are Good Riddance worthy.  At times like this, it is always good to select a new (and healthy!) set of wheels and ride like the wind off into a new paradigm.

Life, like a bicycle, is the vehicle we are riding.  Our infinite options in life are actually the directions in which we point our front tire.  The secret is to keep riding toward what we know are true directions to our Higher Self.  I have felt my spirit’s unsettling, intuitive nudge when I know that I have been pedaling in the wrong direction, and I have certainly experienced that feeling of What the heck have I done? right before crashing and falling.  Again.  My takeaway?  Patch up any scrapes and get back on the bicycle and find a balance point and keep moving forward.

Can you remember that first time you were actually pedaling a bicycle all by yourself?  It felt so liberating and exhilarating.   There was that split second when you felt your big brother’s hand leave the back of your bike seat and you felt your sense of balance kick into gear.  I so vividly remember this.  I went shooting down the driveway (and thank God that no car was coming up the street!), banked to the left and rode down the street to the cornfield that bordered the cemetery.  (Yes, I grew up in a very weird Midwest town!)

It was that split-second feeling that has stuck with me.  The second when I knew that I was balancing all on my own.  No sibling to steer for me or to keep us upright on two wheels when I was bumming a tandem ride on a back fender.  Just me, my hand-me-down sky-blue Schwinn, and the open road.  I rode all afternoon in the relative safety of the cemetery — the roads there being so peaceful.  I found My Balance while I practiced right turns and left turns.  Stopping and getting started again.  I arrived home feeling triumphant.  Liberated, actually.  I had discovered my independence.  My Movement.

Yup.  Einstein had it right.  Movement and Balance are key.  And let’s not forget Risk with a capital R.  It takes a lot of guts some days to take a deep breath and sail down the driveway, not knowing if you are going to keep riding or if you are going to crash to the pavement.  I believe that we all crave that feeling of Triumphant Balance in our days.  That feeling deep inside that tells us we are doing life justice with the right amount of movement and balance.

Today?  I am going to get back up on my Bicycle and ride like the wind.  There is no cemetery down the road from where I now live, but I am going to head there in my mind.  Back to that ultra-satisfying feeling of Balance and Movement.

The Meaning in the Count: Making Life a Noncount Noun

IMG_3357Numbers.

When I really stop to think, my Conscious Day is spent counting.  It starts out with counting and it ends with counting.  Minutes left on my snooze alarm.  Pounds on the bathroom scale.  Dollars in my checking account.  Minutes before I have to leave for work.  Pages completed on my writing project.  Calories.  Fat grams.  Minutes.  Hours.  Shots of coffee.  Pieces of toast.  Am I the only one who is consumed with and by counting?

Counting and measuring and weighing.  Reality dictates that I take care of my health and that I maintain a healthy weight.  That I pay my bills on time.  That I be punctual at work. That I move my dream project forward.  That I hold myself to some level of accountability concerning my food choices.  That I caffeine-ate fully and properly each morning.  That I try to stay under the speed limit when I am running late for work.  That I care about things in life that involve the measuring and weighing by number.

I know me.  Without counting, life would be a free-for-all that does not allow for any accountability to myself or to others.  While I think on this, I search for the value, the meaning in the count.  We have all wrestled with the concept of weighing quality over quantity.  But even here . . . we are still measuring and weighing the benefits.  We are taught to think that quality is more important than quantity.  But still.  Like the little girl that would rather have five pennies over one nickel, there are areas in my life where I tend to shoot for quantity.

Quantity in my hand.  Quality of the moment.  Where is the Real Value in the midst of the day and its ticking clock?  Daily, I put my day on pause for five minutes of meditation.  Are these five minutes worth more than five minutes spent watching silly videos on youtube? Research tells me that, yes, meditation is so good for us on so many levels.  And I will continue to take those five to reset my inner self.  But why do we judge ourselves so harshly when we aren’t doing that which is “good for us”?  Yes, I know that I can lose that final ten pounds, but is it worth beating myself up each time I get on the scale?  Am I really going to care, one way or the other, once I hit that Maui beach in December?  After all, it’s difficult to be hard on yourself when you are living in paradise.

But being a linguist, I very much like the semantics that extend beyond grammatical agreements.  For example, we English speakers agree to add the letter -s to most nouns to make them plural.  Lest we get into the exceptions such as person/people, tooth/teeth, mouse/mice, and ox/oxen, we can agree that adding the letter -s to a noun will signify that we dealing with the Concept of More Than One.

And then there are those tricky count and noncount nouns and their plural forms or lack therein.  According to the Purdue OWL, The Basic Rules for count and noncount nouns are as follows:

A count noun is one that can be expressed in plural form, usually with an “s.” For example, “cat—cats,” “season—seasons,” “student—students.” A noncount noun is one that usually cannot be expressed in a plural form. For example, “milk,” “water,” “air,” “money,” “food.” Usually, you can’t say, ‘He had many moneys’ . . . 

Count nouns refer to things that exist as separate and distinct individual units. They usually refer to what can be perceived by the senses.  Noncount nouns refer to things that can’t be counted because they are thought of as wholes that can’t be cut into parts. They often refer to abstractions and occasionally have a collective meaning. 

best when freshThere is simply so much cool stuff going on there.  Quantity vs. quality.  Count vs. noncount.   We think of a life — a count noun — and we count the number of lives on the planet.  But when we think of our our own life?    We think “in terms of wholes that can’t be cut up into pieces.”  It’s one whole life.   It’s my life!  And like grass, rice, and money . . . we don’t actually cut our own life up into pieces . . . even when we think in terms of annual events such as birthdays and anniversaries.  It’s all one big whole that we truly prefer not to relegate to the Noun Category of Count.  We want to make it count in the ways that are important . . . not in some grammatical or statistical way.

There is counting . . . and then there is making life count.  As I go through the days and I count and I measure the pluralizations that I prioritize . . . I wonder.  I wonder about the importance of quotas at work and pounds on the scale and hits on my website.  I wonder about making my life count.  So much to wonder about.  Thank God that wonder is a verb in this context.  Otherwise, I would be inclined to start counting the many wonders in the world around me.

IMG_2800My advice to self:  Just live and give it your best in the moment.  You’ve got this.  While I appreciate the concepts of mindfulness and how important it is to be aware and to be positive, there is more.  There is life as a noncount noun.  It’s okay to count the little things as long as I remember the bigger picture.  And sometimes it is so hard to keep sight of this enormous, huge, ginormous Universe of which I am but a tiny speck.

I think I answered my own Life Question About Counting.  Stop counting.  And when I do count — which I will surely continue to do — I will try to do so with wild abandon and appreciation for the abundance within life’s “separate and distinct individual units.”

When Losing & Gaining Are the Same Thing

My journal question of the day from my 5-year journal of 1,825 Answers is: “What do you have to lose?”  This one is a True Stumper. Answers came flying at me from the left and the right.  From above and below.  And a few shot their arrows of truth straight through my soul.  I thought of the physical and the cosmic, the overtones and undertones of this question.  The tangible and the intangible. Terra Firma and Universe.  Worldly and spiritual.  Scary and serene. Serious and funny. Physical and emotional.

What I first wrote for an answer was intuitive: “Absolutely nothing.”  But then, I don’t know, something nudged me again from the inside so I added: “Absolutely everything.”  Then my rational brain wrote: “I really don’t know how to answer this.”  Then my spiritual self wrote: “The concept of loss encompasses a great deal of life’s essence and interpretation.”

I sharpen my pencil and go back to the original question on the page and cross out everything I have written and write in response to “What do you have to lose?”: Optimism & belief & my ability to love.

And I realize that I am writing myself into circles that are far too confining and . . . truth: I need not be so confined by someone else’s question.  I simply rewrite the question and cross out the word lose and write in the word gain, re-phrasing it to read: “What do I have to gain?”  By re-writing the question, I am inspired to re-write embedded self-perceptions of lack and to safeguard any existing self-perceptions of wealth — true, real-life, inside wealth.

And then I think: Wait a second.  Losing and gaining might actually be the very same thing . . . for when I re-phrase the question as “What do I have to gain?” my answers are the very same as for what I have to lose: Optimism & belief & my ability to love.

IMG_2800Nothing like a little convoluted writing to unsquiggle a simple question.  My takeaway from today’s question: Gaining is the same as Losing.  Perspective sometimes wins out over reality.  It’s time for me to think on Abundance Theory and keep focused on the sunny side.  Eventually time gets us to where we want to be heading . . . which potentially leads to the next question: Where am I going anyway?  A question to be answered on another day . . .

So . . . your journal question for today: What do you have to gain?  

If you feel comfortable sharing your answers, please, do so in the comments below.  We all grow from others’ diverse experiences and perspectives.  What do you have to gain?

Life is a remarkably lively and engaging event.  

Go forth, answer squiggly questions, and appreciate what you do have in life.  

What’s stopping you? 

 

 

 

 

Embrace Your Inner Honey Badger & Make Some Mud Balls

Escape your present reality and think like a honey badger.  Every time I watch this BBC documentary clip of the honey badger, I am so inspired by this animal’s persistence.  The honey badger’s focus on escaping the enclosure is nothing short of amazing.  It uses any and every resource it has to get to where it wants to go.  This animal truly is a marvel.  And what a lesson to all of us who doubt or fear or give up or don’t believe that something is possible.  The message straight from the honey badger itself: It is possible.  Just watch the video (4:12) and you will see what I am saying.  It is a hoot!

When I watch this video, I think about my life and about where I want to go.  Where I know I want to be. What I want to accomplish.  I am reminded of that quote by Lewis Carroll, “If you don’t know where you’re going, any road will get you there.”  Well, the thing is: I do know . . . and I am expending personal resource: time, energy, creativity, etc.

But still . . . am I using every resource that is available to me?

This honey badger’s tenacity shows me that the answer to my question is Absolutely not.  The thing is: I know that I am capable of so much more.  Perhaps this is what drives the pistons of life’s dissatisfaction or confusion or self-defeat within my inner world.  I know that I have so much more inside of me to create, to offer, to be.  In the video, the honey badger even makes mud balls (!) to stage its escape.  Mud balls . . . an escape prop out of dirt and water.  Maybe I am easily moved, entertained, and inspired, but I find this very inspiring.  This honey badger never ceases to execute the next escape plan with what diminishing resources are available.  It uses ingenuity to make its goal happen, no matter what “tools” are available.

The word escape has so many different connotations.  It can mean that I am escaping from something that isn’t pleasant or that is demoralizing.  Or it can mean that I am experiencing a moment of escape, like the feeling of reveling in the sunshine on that Maui beach . . . but still with life’s root-of-reality reminding me of that which I will be returning to once vacation is over . . . something that isn’t bad but that isn’t all that great either.

Watch the video below (4:12), be inspired, and then click on the aqua-blue link to a fun and inspiring journaling prompt below.  Have fun with the prompt.  It could very well have the power to create a ripple effect into how you choose to live your life.  I wish you the very best of energy with your respective dreams and goals.

pencil stubClick on the aqua-blue link below for today’s journaling prompt: Your Great Escape Plan

Your Great Escape Plan

[Print this prompt out, 3-hole punch it, and add it to your journaling binder.   Take the writing journey and listen . . . you can’t get lost when you are following your own heart.  After all, you are the only one who can hear what it has to say.  The only one.  Relax, read, think, feel, listen, write.  Repeat.  And enjoy the journey.  It is a fine one, and one that is perfectly-made just for you, I promise.  Life is meant to be grown.]

IMG_0703

 

Leap & Land with a Bang

Check out this BBC video of mobula rays and their artistic, acrobatic, and aerobatic show.  They are spectacular.  Who knew that rays could leap — and land — so amazingly?   Their landing sends a huge boom through the water.  The higher they leap, the bigger the bang upon landing.  It is believed that the rays that make the biggest impact, give themselves the best odds of standing apart from the herd and of leaving with a mate.

Watch these fabulous flying rays (3:12):

http://www.bbc.com/earth/story/20150512-watch-these-giant-rays-fly

Mating rituals aside . . . when in a group, how do you stand out from the crowd?  How do you get noticed?  How do you draw attention to yourself?   This is not about ego-grabbing narcissism that demands every speck of attention in a social setting.  This is about expressing yourself in your immediate world such that you get noticed, feel understood, and build the best opportunities to connect with others.   Connection . . . it truly is what makes the world go around and is what gives significant meaning to what we do when we aren’t in the midst of connecting.  We, as humans, need connection . . . why not do it with a figurative bang?

So, taking a cue from the mobula rays . . . the higher the leap, the bigger the bang upon landing and the better chance to stand out from the crowd.  What is one thing you can do today or tomorrow or the next day to get noticed?  To make a difference?  To be you?  To exercise your unique you-ness?  Give yourself some credit for being important in the grand scheme of things.  Leap spectacularly and land with a big bang.

Being able to think of something that you will actually do might be a stretch for us introverts.  It might feel unnecessary or unbecoming or way out of one’s wheelhouse.  But why not try one little thing, make a change-up in your wardrobe.  Skip down the sidewalk to retrieve your mail.  Engage with the barista as you wait for your Americano.  Leaping is different for everyone; it is something only you can define for yourself.

Think One New Thing.  Leap and land and leap all over again.  It looks like these mobula rays are expending a tremendous amount of energy to go flying out of the water.  This is something that I think we sometimes want to avoid: The water feels so comfy.  I don’t think I can leap very high.  I’m not very athletic, after all.  Landing might cause me pain.  Someone might laugh at me or think I am weird.  Simply put? Expend the energy.  Your life will become different because of it.  I promise.

And the thing about leaping is that there is gravity on this planet.  You will land.  With a bang. Why not make it a Big Bang and stand out from the crowd?  Take a stand for you.  For a friend or a colleague or a student or a child or a stranger.  And for the world that surrounds you.  The Universe will thank you for it.

pencil stubClick on the sky blue link below for today’s journal prompt.  Have fun discovering (and making!) your leap!

Leap high and land with a bang. journaling prompt

[Print this prompt out, 3-hole punch it, and start your journaling binder.   Take the writing journey and listen . . . you can’t get lost when you are following your own heart.  After all, you are the only one who can hear what it has to say.  The only one.  Relax, read, think, feel, listen, write.  Repeat.  And enjoy the journey.  It is a fine one, and one that is perfectly-made just for you, I promise.  Life is meant to be grown.]