How To Get It All

There is a fundamental success principle: What we focus on expands.

  • When we focus on what’s working in our lives, we get more of what’s working.
  • When we focus on what’s good, we get more of what’s good.
  • When we focus on our blessings, we get more of what blesses us.

Of course the principle works in the inverse as well.

  • When we focus on what’s not working in our lives, we get more of what doesn’t work.
  • When we focus on what we don’t want or like in our lives, we get more of what we don’t want or like.
  • When we focus on the negative, more negative stuff shows up.

This is the law of attraction at work in its most powerful sense.

So here’s how to get it all: Be grateful.

Focus on the good.

I start every coaching session with these questions: What’s been working well? Where have your ‘wins’ been since we last talked?

And a practice that will absolutely transform your life? A gratitude journal. Every day, writing down three things that you’re grateful for.

We all have things to be grateful for, regardless of our circumstances, regardless of our challenges: our hearts that beat in our chests; our lungs that breathe in the air; our minds that have the capacity to process information faster than any super computer on earth; the sun that rises every day to warm us; the rains that fall gently on the earth to sustain us. We do nothing to deserve these; and yet they are blessings beyond measure. 2013-11-19 03.14.37

Meister Eckhart once said, “If the only prayer you ever say in your entire life is thank you, it will be enough.”

Surrounded as we are by the demands of our work, the stressors that overwhelm us, the inescapable economic pressures, and the global turmoil of politics and terror, it’s easy to become pessimistic, it’s easy to ‘go negative.’

But there is so much beauty in the world. So much to be hopeful about. So much to be grateful for.

Deepak Chopra teaches: “Gratitude is the doorway to abundance.”

And it is.

So today, and every day: Have an attitude of gratitude. And you will have it all.

How To Properly Clean The Toilet

“You need to clean out the stream,” Barry said.

Barry is our ‘man.’ He takes care of our little cottage in Ireland.

Clean out the stream? Who cleans out streams, I thought. Streams take care of themselves!

So I ignored Barry.

And then the rains came. And the yard flooded.

When the rain finally stopped (which, by the way, isn’t often in Ireland), I went out and walked along the stream that crosses our property. Sure enough, it was in pretty bad shape. Years of neglect had left it full of debris: rocks and trees and logs and clumps of leaves; brambles and branches choking it off. photo-1

It definitely wasn’t flowing very well.

(Perhaps you can see where I’m going with this?)

So out I went with by bow saw and shears (when it wasn’t raining… which, did I mention, isn’t very often in Ireland?). For days, I cut and cleared, and standing in the midst of the stream with my (brand new) Wellingtons, I pulled all sorts of junk out of the steam.

And the stream flowed again. It was beautiful to look at. I could hear the sound of it from the house trickling through the property. And when it rained, the water ran deep and swift.

It was clear.

We allow out lives to get choked off too, just like the stream. With projects and tasks and to-dos and worries. And pretty soon, things aren’t flowing very well.

It would be a good idea (says Barry) to clean out the stream.

There are some really great ways to do this that don’t require a bow saw… or Wellingtons.

  •  Journaling: I don’t think that there is any more powerful way to unclog one’s head than the practice of journaling. Julia Cameron, who wrote The Artist’s Way, prescribes what she calls morning pages: Three stream of consciousness journal pages the very first thing in the morning. Like flushing the toilet of the mind, she says. But whether you journal first thing in the morning or at some other time of the day, a regular journal practice allows you to take all of those swirly things that make your mind feel cloudy and mushy and move them out onto the page. It’s an amazingly freeing experience.
  • Meditation: This used to be thought of as some ‘fringe’ thing that only whackadoos, new agers or Elizabeth Gilbert on a field trip did. But the science is pretty compelling. Meditation calms and clears the mind. Think about one of those old winter snow globe things that you had as a kid: You’d turn it upside down and shake it up; all the ‘flakes’ would swirl around; and then when you set it down, all the flakes would settle. And the globe would be clear again. That’s what meditation does: it settles and clears the mind. And the practice over time will have a profoundly grounding impact on your life.
  • Aerobic Exercise: Being actually in your body, whether through walking, running, biking or swimming, moves you quickly out of the madness of your mind and connects you again with the earth. And even if you find yourself back in your head as you move over the ground, thoughts and feelings flow more smoothly. Aerobic exercise is, of course, wonderful for your health and physical wellness. But the oxygen that you feed yourself and the hormones that you stimulate will refresh and renew your spirit as well.

With all of the pressures that daily life serves up to us, it is easy to forget that, in order to bring our highest and best selves to the world, we need to nurture ourselves first. So that we can flow.

Take some time: clean out the stream.

It’s Just A Bad Hair Day

I’m old; I’m fat; I’m out of shape; I’ve lost my edge.

At least those were the stories I began to tell myself.

I pushed on. Turned out it was just an off day.

Some days are like that: Some days, it feels as if someone has poured cement into my running shoes. On other days, I flow like the wind.

All of us have days when it flows; and days when it doesn’t.

The problem is that, when it doesn’t flow, we tend to think that it “means” something; that something’s wrong; that’s something’s broken; that the magic has vanished. We get dark and despondent. We think it will last forever. We get discouraged. We want to quit.

The truth is: Some days it just doesn’t flow.

And it doesn’t mean a damn thing.

This is true in writing, in business, in finance, in relationships, in art, in music. Shit, I’m fairly certain it’s true in everything.

Some days, it’s just a bad hair day.

Thankfully, there’s a remedy: Show up the next day; and the next. Pretty soon it will flow again. Just as long as you haven’t given up.

I recently heard an audience member ask best selling author Theresa Ragan what the secret to her success was, what her secret was for being so prolific. She said that she showed up every day, “put her butt in the chair,” and wrote.

Julia Cameron in her book The Artist’s Way said that our only job as creatives is to “show up on the page;” to be present on the canvas.

George Leonard who wrote the book Mastery using the metaphor of his Aikido practice said that our only job on the path to mastery (in anything) is just “to show up on the mat.”

This means showing up in the practice room, the board room, the laundry room, the bedroom; this means showing up in the classroom, on the track, in the studio, no matter what happened yesterday; or the day before; or the day before that.

Whether it flowed brilliantly; or not.

The judging, the evaluating, the questioning, the hand wringing, the self-deprecation: they’re all just distractions; they’re all just a waste of time and energy.

Our job – our only job – is to show up and do the work.

The rest will take care of itself.


This is an encore of a post first published on November 29, 2012.









How To Get To Where You Want To Go

Rarely would you jump into your car or book a flight without knowing exactly where you were going. You wouldn’t expect your GPS to guide you to your destination without first having entered the exact address. And yet, day after day,  so many folks  allow their lives to unfold in just that way.

When we run around in multiple directions without any clue as to where we really want to end up, we tend to end up nowhere in particular.

Having a clear vision of exactly where you want to go, knowing exactly what you want to accomplish: This is the key component of all of our success. And when you get that clarity of  vision… that’s when the magic really begins to happen.

So here’s your homework: Carve out a half hour. Pull out your journal or a blank sheet of paper. Make your list of 100 things that you want to do, be or have before you die. Then pick out one or two of them… the one’s that quicken your heart… the ones that really excite you. And then get busy. Find some images in magazines or catalogs that reflect your goal or vision – or create your own – to hang on your wall or next to your monitor. Let your imagination run. See yourself  accomplishing what you set out to do. What will it be like to do, be or have those things? How will it feel to achieve these things? Visualize your life exactly the way you want it to be.

Then start taking steps toward your goals. Small steps. Consistent steps.

Stay at it. Don’t give up. Don’t ever give up.

You get one shot at this wondrous thing you call our life. Joy is your birthright. Make it a masterpiece.