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Everyone wants the answers. And we want them now. (Or, preferably, last year.) We must know! We all want to be skinnier, healthier, happier, more in love, and what investments to make in order to retire tomorrow (well, the way things are going now, in order to retire at all).

Yet, despite this demand for definitive knowledge, it tends to largely elude us, year after year. (Except for those who invent answers, and then retire off the money people give them for what turns out to be half-baked results.)

So… what would it be like to embrace, well… not knowing? Could that get us somewhere?

Stay tuned for part 2, with… the answer?

 

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Thursday night, I found myself wide awake in the middle of the night, with no explanation. Only in the morning did I discover that those hours corresponded with Mubarak’s long-awaited resignation announcement. Now that was inspiration – so much inspiration, in fact, that the energy stopped me from sleeping!

Seriously, though, this has interesting parallels. Jews historically refer to ancient Egypt as mitzrayim, or “the narrow place.” When we hold the Passover seder each spring, and reenact departing Egypt, we can also choose to depart that narrow, constricted place within each of us.

And now, Egypt itself has exited the vice-grip of a dictator. Which is something that we all should celebrate.

Why, aside from the obvious? Well whether you believe in a greater spirituality or in quantum physics, both declare that we are all connected. Let us take a moment to celebrate greater freedom in the world, and in ourselves.

If you close your eyes, breathe, and listen, you can feel it.

Let’s look a little more at that inner critic. It might be viewed as the internalized Voice of Society. Or perhaps the Stater of Idealized Norms (how we Think everyone is supposed to be like). Or the If-I-Was-A-Good/Healthy/Functioning-Person-I’d-Be-That-Way Declarer. Or the Comparer (“That person is obviously doing much better than you are. Why don’t you do that?”). Or the Arbiter of What is Good and Proper (“and you obviously are not it”).

Phew.

We hold everything a little too tightly, don’t we? Here’s a way to give yourself more space and permission to be, well, human.

Action: Next time you find that you’re judging yourself…

  1. Close your eyes, take some deep breaths, and physically relax your body, especially your shoulders, chest and solar plexus (which is where we often store these feelings).
  2. Imagine that your body expands a few feet out, giving more room for these feelings.
  3. Let it keep expanding as much as necessary – to the size of the room… the building… the city… and so on, until you really have enough space and permission for all that you are. (Note: if it ever feels too big or spacey, just adjust it to be somewhat smaller again.)

Yes. You can give yourself that much Space and Permission to Be – All That You Are.


Sometimes inspiration isn’t about creating an amazing feeling – it’s about letting go of the blocks that stand in our way. One of them… grudges. Anger. Negativity. Now, there’s nothing inherently wrong with anger – it’s about getting in touch with our own power. But it can get in the way of being happy and in touch with our inner love. Here are some ideas.

  1. Picture them as a small child, hurt, not knowing what to do.
  2. Take your image of that person and imagine it’s a million miles away, growing smaller and smaller.
  3. Spend time loving and appreciating yourself.
  4. Know that someone’s actions have little to do with you – they’re how we were trained to react.
  5. Invite them to the world you want to live in. Talk to them. Tell them what you’d like to be there in your relationship.

 

 

Sometimes we feel we need to do more to be productive. We have to work really, really hard and “effort” through it. Work! Hyyyyahhh!!

But, in fact, we *think* we need to do more. No, literally – we spend so much time thinking about what we need to do that something quite simple becomes really laborious. Take, for example, cleaning. “Oh, I need to clean the house.” Or, “Oh, I need to clean my filing cabinet.” Or, “Oh, I need to exercise.”

The mental pattern is what exhausts us – usually, an act in and of itself is simple.

Action:

  1. Keep a small pad of paper by you. Every time you think of a “should” item such as the above, write it down. Then, when it resurfaces, put hash or check marks next to it. Become aware of how often you think these thoughts.
  2. If possible, do them immediately. If not, then let yourself off the hook until you can do them – and then do it ASAP.

“Effort” is not about the work- it’s about our perception of it. Make your life easier.

 

Yes, you could go see a movie, or you could just go out to dinner. But if you want inspiration, here are some ideas that could get some real juices flowing. Try one or two of them – and let me know how it goes.
  1. Express your creativity – make a drawing, write a story, sing a song.
  2. Get outside! Run in circles. Play.
  3. Call someone you miss. See them – or at least have a great talk.
  4. See a play or a dance concert. Get inspired by others doing their work and support them.
  5. Spend time looking in the mirror. Look deeply into your own eyes. Appreciate yourself.

 

Egypt. Haiti. Uprisings. Acts of nature. Dictatorial governments. Killings. We all feel powerless and frustrated when these things happen. How can we move past this? What can we do to inspire others who need it?
  1. Let go of the illusion that worrying helps. Empathy doesn’t help either.
  2. Instead, breathe. Feel your center. Visualize sending love and compassion to those enduring the difficulties.
  3. Contact a reputable humanitarian agency doing work in that area. Ask them what they need. And if you have any personal connection whatsoever in the area
  4. Make a donation – something, anything – to help. $5 is still five dollars.
  5. Keep living your life the best you can – don’t compromise your own sanity or health. And encourage others to also help.

 

So many people I know have told me that when they were young, they wanted to change the world. As if it were their personal responsibility.

But, as they got older… they got jaded. Saw more and more things wrong with it, or perhaps others struggling to make a difference and only doing so much.

Might this be you?

The world still needs changing, and it still needs agents of transformation. What? Are you going to just wait for someone else to do your work for you?

You came here for a reason. No one else can do exactly what you can do. No one.

Action: Even if you haven’t thought about it for decades, think back to your youth. Remember an unfulfilled dream. Feel if it still resonates today, and follow up on it. And if it doesn’t… then watch or read the news. See what pisses you off. And do something.

Remember – one small shovelful at a time will indeed move mountains.

 

Look around you. Right now. No, really. Just look around.

How much did you really see what’s there? If you’re in a familiar setting, it’s easy to stop truly perceiving.

Look at one object, or one person, as if it’s the first time you’ve ever seen it. Now, peer at it. Deeply. As if you could see its true nature – if you only looked with enough intent.

If you’re bored, you may have forgotten the incredible everything that’s right in front of you.

Today: Cultivate curiosity about the world around you. See things anew. Notice the small details. Breathe into them.

Why have you come here? What do you hope to find? Inspiration? Motivation? Are you, perhaps, looking in the wrong place?

Now don’t get me wrong. I like your company. You seem like a nice, decent, good person. (What? Don’t you see me looking at you from behind the screen?) It’s not like I want you to leave.

But perhaps what you’re seeking is already there. Maybe it’s even far simpler than you thought. Maybe all the answers are sitting in that of silence.

Because they’re not on TV. Not even on AM radio. And I’m sorry, but they’re not in your iPhone.

If you breathe and listen long enough, now, that’s a whole ‘nother story.

Action: When you’re not sure what to do, breathe. Long, deep breaths – for 3 whole minutes. Don’t focus on the problem. Instead, envision how you’ll feel afterward. Then let go – don’t think, worry or obsess. Just let go.

Do this once or twice a day. And then write and tell me what happens.


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