Monday, 9 July 2012

The Wisdom of Love


Click to go back to the main menu for Mickie Kent's Love Your Mind, Body and Soul Series

“Your task is not to seek for love, but merely to seek and find all the barriers within yourself that you have built against it.”
— Rumi

There are all types of wisdom. There is textbook wisdom, information widely accepted by modern societies. There is also the accumulated wisdom of primitive tribes, which protects them against diseases that affect against modern industrial diets for example. Pulitzer-prizewinning author Jared Diamond looked to tribal societies to see how we used to live, and what we can learn from our past, and came to the conclusion that our dwindling connection with the natural world puts it in increasing peril.

Diamond believes we are not a master race, just geographically privileged, and that many of the practices of tribal cultures can help us to rediscover our way again. However, in trying to decipher what Westerners can learn from tribal societies, there is the distinction between wisdom and the mere accumulation of knowledge, too, for not all civilisation is evil, or all primitive wisdom wise. For the only way to accumulate wisdom is by undergoing extensive trial and error that involves many mistakes and failures.

Sometimes wisdom is like a diamond in its raw state, which looks a lot like an ordinary rock. They are easy to miss if you don't know what you're looking for, and they need to be polished and carefully cut to make them sparkle. Real "diamonds" of advice often come disguised in a wrapper of "simplicity", too. We just need to awaken ourselves to their value.

The best life changing concepts are usually simple ones: for example turn your negative habits into positive ones and watch your life transform into your wildest dreams, and even add years to your lifespan. We can transform our habits by asking certain questions and acting on the answers. It's one of those "simple" ideas that can trigger ripples of abundance and prosperity for you to help you turn your life around - even when it seems that all life wants to do is rain on your parade.

Last month in England was the wettest since records began. It comes after this year also saw the rainiest April on record, while the period from April to June was the wettest recorded for the UK. And to think that at the start of the year the water boards were so worried about drought that they initially imposed a hosepipe ban on consumers. Now, a month's rain has fallen over us in 24 hours, and we are experiencing summer floods across parts of the United Kingdom.

The Met Office said there had been unsettled weather in some parts of the UK for the whole of the past three months, with only the latter half of May seeing a spell of prolonged fine weather. Although we've had bright and sunny days, records also say that this has been the dullest summer thus far, with dark clouds in pale skies blocking out the Sun.

Yet - extreme weather conditions aside - I think every season has its share of beauty. The rain brings up a freshness of scents that makes everything glisten. To see its beauty, all we have to do is keep our eyes open and observe.

It's easy to toss aside gems that come into our lives when we don't recognise them. Nevertheless, if you want more money, health, freedom, adventure, and passion in your life, then you need to programme yourself to recognise diamonds in ALL their forms when they show up in your life. We need a clarity of vision that comes with the wisdom of awareness.

Many individuals go through their whole lives and never really notice anything around them. They never fully appreciate any of the beautiful things of creation - all the wondrous and things that are around us - that are here for us to enjoy if only we took the time to open our eyes and look.

Everyone sees what they want to see, so sometimes we can see what isn't there. And we have been programmed to rarely question what we see around us. But if you work with your mind, experts say you'll discover that it's choice, not chance, which determines destiny.

Ever heard that saying "If it's to be, it's up to me"? Well, in terms of self-improvement experts say it's true. The decision to make a good life for yourself IS in your hands. We must take responsibility for our actions or we are, to be blunt, up a creek without a paddle.

From being stressed out with a heavy workload, you can transform your schedule so that you have the freedom to do pretty much whatever you wants. Take an "adventure" day each week to try new things and grow as a person. Or volunteer for charity and make a difference in people's lives. Or take time out to make a difference to your own.

There are times we need to close our eyesThere are times when we need to close our eyes and focus inwards, but this shouldn't become a blindfold to reality. Inner peace is likely one of your goals. It is an important part of your journey. It should realign us with our true selves so that we can face reality - not avoid it. Similarly, grounded optimism doesn't serve to blind us to reality, it's a tool to help us be realistically positive about the challenges at hand.

The bottom line about the best way to succeed is to know we must deal with the present, so that we have a hand in the future that gets thrown at us. We must deal with reality and make the best out of whatever situation we are in. You can't change the past. You can't control others. But you can control your future, and you control how you respond to everything.

How do you see yourself? How do you see your goals? Do you think they are worthwhile or that you deserve their achievement? The way you think about what you want is the single greatest determiner in whether you will succeed or not. That means that success, ultimately, is a choice. Certainly work is involved. Success takes effort. There's no doubt about that, but the first step, the crucial step, is the decision to do so. The next is to plan. Remember to enjoy your planning as well as your accomplishment, for life is too short for negative energy.

Defining your vision

Here are some questions to help you get started creating your vision. Write down the answers to these questions:

  1. What excites you? Expert advice emphasises that it is important to distinguish between mere "happiness" or "contentment" and true, honest excitement. Most people when creating a vision for their life or their business tend to focus on what will make them "happy". (If this works for you then by all means, go for it, but experts suggest that "happy" might not be motivating enough for most people.) "Excitement" motivates people to act whereas "happiness" and "contentment" are just nice. Happiness is a state to aim for in your life, not necessarily a booster of motivation.

    You want to focus on what truly excites you - what will cause you to spring out of bed in the morning completely excited about the day ahead?

  2. What does an exciting financially independent future look and feel like to you? What will you be doing during the day? During the evenings?
  3. Where will you live? In a different country? Can you describe your ideal home/apartment/living space?
  4. Whom will you hang out with? It's only human nature that others are so important to our happiness! Whom do you want to spend your time with and why will they want to spend time with YOU?
  5. What will you eat and drink? Are you a "foodie"? Will you grow your own organic vegetables and entertain your friends? Or do you hate to cook and want to eat out all of the time instead? Or is "food" just not that important to you and not even a factor to consider?
  6. What type of activities will you engage in? Will you travel? Golf? Swim? Read? Paint? Ski? Surf?
  7. What will you do to create value for other people? (Assuming you don't want to simply procrastinate doing nothing for no one for the rest of your life.) Do you want to work at all? Volunteer? Write a book? Write a song? Create something of some sort for others?

    Most people, after taking a much-needed break from their hectic life, really do want to "be useful" and create value for other people (and of course feel valued in return).

    This can take on many forms, and can be for money or just for the sheer pleasure derived from helping other people. Two extreme examples that I can think of are Warren Buffett, who continues to run Berkshire Hathaway in his eighties although he certainly doesn't need the money, and my mother, who creates special paintings and poems for our entire family just because she loves to make us smile. Both are doing something they love, one is compensated financially and one isn't, and both are creating lots of value for other people.

  8. Why is this vision important to you? As you are fleshing out your vision, you also need to ask yourself why this is important to you. Why does financial independence matter to you? Why is your vision so important to your future that you are willing to change what you are doing now to achieve it?

    We all know the definition of insanity (doing the same things over and over and expecting different results), and in order to become financially independent you will need to do some things differently and get out of your comfort zone.

    So ask yourself why achieving your vision will be "worth it" to you. Do you work 80 hours per week and dream of spending more time with your family? Do you lose 2-3 hours per day commuting? Are you worried that your pension won't be "enough" for you (or worse, that it won't even exist) by the time you retire?

    All of these reasons "why" will help you get through the necessary rough patches and succeed.

  9. What will happen if you do nothing? Finally, you have to make the risk of sticking with your current status quo and doing nothing more painful than the risk of going after your vision.

    Capture your fears, and then set up your environment and your mind so that there is no other option for you except success.

    You must want to achieve your vision in your heart of hearts, and you must understand what's at stake if you don't try. Otherwise, when the inevitable difficulties and roadblocks arise (and believe me, they will, that is just the way life works), you will do the worst possible thing: quit.

    And that is the only way you can TRULY fail, by quitting. But instead, if when the going gets tough, you can hold your vision in front of you and remember why it is so important to you, you will persevere and win.

This is where the rubber meets the road. By now, you should have a crystal clear vision of where you want to go, a deep understanding of why it is so important to you, and knowledge of what is at stake for you if you instead choose to do nothing and stick with your status quo. The next step is commitment. Are you ready to commit to your independence?

You can choose whether you confront your current reality, and act to change it, or whether you avoid the truth. And one debilitating way we avoid reality is procrastination.

Dealing with procrastination

One thing we all have in common - we procrastinate. At one time or another we all put off something we know we need to do. We might question ourselves, "Why do I keep putting this off when it causes me more anxiety and stress?" So now we are not only procrastinating, we're judging ourselves for doing it.

Why do we procrastinate? It could be that we are afraid to fail or on the flip side afraid to succeed. We could be setting impossible standards of perfectionism. It could be fear of the unknown or it could be something as simple as a truly distasteful task. No matter the reasons the end result is things are not getting done.

To avoid this we can take some steps to stop ourselves from procrastinating. Since our default is to do what's comfortable, let's get more comfortable with not procrastinating and develop healthy habits for our lives. Begin by practising not procrastinating for 10-15 minutes a day:

  1. Set aside a specific time each day for your new practice. (Use a trigger to help you stay on track - i.e., after your morning coffee, after dinner, or choose a specific time - set an alarm to remind you.)
  2. Choose the task. Have an important task lined up - you only need to commit to 10-15 minutes of it.
  3. Set yourself up for success by clearing distractions. No cell phone or internet distractions. No television. Turn on some music if it helps motivate you.
  4. Take a deep breath or two and focus on making these 10-15 minutes the most important thing you have to do.
  5. If you feel the urge to stop and do something more comfortable, just sit with it. Recognise that you have control and its okay to have this urge. Then return to your task. (Repeat as necessary.)
  6. Let go of the anxiety and dread. Smile, focus on the joy and satisfaction of completing the task. Try and have a little fun with it if you can. Be in the moment.
  7. Be gentle with yourself. At the end of the 10 minutes do something you love and feel totally comfortable with!

This is a practice. Once you manage the 10-15 minutes, try it for longer and see how you do. As you become more comfortable with not procrastinating you'll see a marked difference in what you can accomplish without the delaying tactics. You will also be reducing your stress and anxiety, and before you know it you'll find, that you have developed some new healthy habits!

Some have described procrastination like a virus. You may not notice its effects for years, until it's too late. People who struggle with procrastination often feel like their lives are stalled. Procrastination kills confidence and self esteem. It deadens any momentum towards success and fulfilment. It's something we all struggle with.

Read about healthy habits.

Procrastination is one of 6 habits of failure that limit our ability to create and manifest the lives we want. Like the pull of gravity these 6 habits can bring you down and control your direction in life. Yet there is hope. Fortunately there are also 6 strategies of success that counteract these negative forces. These success strategies lift you up, take you beyond your current situation and open up your true potential.

The wisdom of action

Turn negative habits into positive ones

It is said that the power of your mind creates and controls reality, and by fixing mental images in your mind of your desires, you will be better able to manifest them. Experts says to create a thing you must want it with a burning desire that allows no denial, backed up by a will that knows refuses to countenance such words as "cannot" or "no."

In this way, our reality first takes shape within our subconscious mind through visualisation, imagination and our overall thought process, but the manifestation of our reality depends on what actions we take and what behaviours we exhibit.

For example, if you visualise yourself achieving financial freedom, but are in the habit of spending money recklessly and never doing anything to make significantly more than you spend, you will never achieve your goal. The problem is that we don't acknowledge that it's a habit we are trying to change or recognise the difficulty in doing so. Which is by no means a suggestion that we shouldn't try, just an acknowledgement that the issue is more involved than we might first assume.

But experts are quick to point out that all power comes from within and is absolutely under your control. You are not a victim, but the navigator of your life. To say that things happen through another cause other than yourself is to say that you are a victim. Nothing happens outside of you. Everything is happening within you. The trick is not to be a victim to your own bad habits.

If we are to be successful in any endeavour we have to be able to assess the entirety of our situation and develop a competent strategy for change. So, everything really boils down to what actions you take. And the actions you take most frequently will be determined by your habits.

There are good habits, such as regular exercise and eating vegetables with every meal, and bad habits, like smoking and eating sugary snacks. Most of us realise that maximising one and minimising the other would make us happier and healthier in the long run. But while that's easy to say, it's far more difficult to do. Habits become hardwired (usually in a month or two), something which makes them difficult to change.

Psychologists tell us that our habits are our repeated ways of behaving, particularly when reacting to people and circumstances. The things we do over and over again are our habits. Some are good and some are not. Habits are our more or less automatic reactions and are often driven by underlying emotion, in which case they are largely out of our control. And there's a good reason habits are largely out of our control. Being able to do some things without thought or delay helps us get on with our lives.

Habits are useful because they allow us to free up our short term memory and to be flexible, keeping our thought processes focussed on novel experiences. A habit also allows us to respond quickly in potentially hazardous situations: for example gently squeezing the brake even before we are consciously aware of the slowing traffic in front of us. In other words habits are necessary, we need them. They allow us to do the things we do time and time again without thinking, freeing up brain space for things that are new or unusual, and decisions which require deeper thought and analysis.

However, every single result that you experience in life is dictated by your habits. This applies to both positive and negative habits, which form when we do things repeatedly and get a reward for them. Good habits make us feel better about ourselves in some way: for example, taking the stairs rather than the lift gives our self-esteem a boost because we are exercising, and taking a packed lunch to work makes us feel good about saving money; but, equally, we also get something good out of bad habits, which is why they are so hard to break. Smoking is perhaps the most difficult bad habit of all to break, because it combines reward - taking a break, an enjoyable sensation - with addiction.

Any habit can be tough to break. They can be difficult to break for many reasons. Because habits are our automatic reactions it requires an effort to change them. We're overwhelmed by drives to eat, drink, smoke or do something else that gratifies some desire in us. But it's their consistency that both makes them a habit and gives them their power. The good news is this applies to healthier habits, too. When we try to break a habit - bad or good - we usually find it difficult, so once we lockdown our healthy habits they will run automatically. So, the question becomes which habits breed failure and which breed success? The answer to this question alone will completely redefine your odds of achieving success because it is so powerful.

Experts say in life there are 6 core habits that will dictate your results, and these habits ultimately shape your life. The 6 core strategies for success are:

6 core habits

These habits have both a negative and positive form. The negative form will lead you to failure and the positive will lead you to success. The secret to success key is to transform all of these habits from the negative to the positive. The only way to break people of their bad habits is by confronting them. Thus, for example, we can beat back procrastination and show it who's boss, but to neutralise its power and take back control we need to take positive action.

To help transform the negative habits into positive ones, there are three power questions you can ask yourself, the answers of which will help inspire you into action. Experts suggest you ask, answer and then act to change your life one step at a time.

  1. Ask yourself this first power question EVERY SINGLE DAY and then take action on the answer, and you'll be amazed at the immediate changes you experience:

    Power Question #1: "What one thing can I do today, that I don't want to do, but I know if I do it I will move toward my goal of ___________ ?"

    The key here is that whatever it is, make sure it will only take you 15 minutes or less AND make sure you get very specific. You have to commit to do this for at least 30 days.

  2. The second power question involves a struggle that so many of us have - we know what our ultimate vision is - but we don't know what our next level is. Constantly breaking down your ultimate vision into the next, achievable, level is key to your success.

    Power Question #2: "What is the next level for me? What would make me feel like I have given my life a SMALL upgrade AND feels achievable?"

  3. The third power question is believed to be the most powerful and misunderstood.

    Power Question #3: "How can I make myself valuable to someone who is already at my next level?"

    Find someone at your next level (not your ultimate level) and find a way to make yourself valuable to them. It's time for you to surround yourself and learn from people who have what you want and the way you can do that is by asking them how you can help them. This isn't about how they can help you, that will happen automatically, it's about how you can bring value to them.

These three power questions provided by experts on lifestyle change are templates designed to get you out of procrastination and take small gradual steps to activate positive habits in your life that will bring you closer to your desired goals. They train you to ask the right questions, and then take inspired action. The last question is also designed to make you seek out a support system to help you through your journey of change.

Inspired action or massive action?

Remember we are the navigator of our lives. Whenever you feel you're not in control, you are experiencing an illusion that you created. You are the director of your life's script and you can control at will.

If you are consciousness, and consciousness encompasses all that is, then you are the creator, all things are under your control. Lack of control is an illusion. Some people say that control is an illusion, but experts in this field tend to argue that the opposite is true. How can you not be in control when all things are under your control? Realise that your higher self, the aspect of yourself that is divine, is in control of all things. You create all of your reality. There is no aspect of your reality which you do not create. Therefore you control all.

To live as a powerful creator, you have to banish the illusion (or bad habit) that you are not in control once and for all. Because you will always arrive back at the core truth that you are the creator of your reality and that you create all of it.

Not being in control makes you feel like a victim. When you focus on what you can do to create what you want, you take back the power. When you focus on changing your negative core habits into positive action, your intent brings you the knowledge, the awareness and the energy to create what you want. Everything that happens can be traced back to core intent. What is it you want to achieve?

However, "self improvement" doesn't mean we shouldn't search for like minded people for inspiration and support. Achieving success is down to us, but we don't necessarily have to do this on our own. The emphasis is on freedom of choice.

Click here for more about the habit of choice.

In the West, we are lucky to have the freedom to procrastinate, or to take action with the direction of our lives, but we can still feel caged, as though we are the effect of someone else's cause.

With the United States having just celebrated its Independence Day and their freedom as a nation, it's de rigueur to deliver speeches celebrating freedom. Your emails from self-help gurus will be be filled with epithets about freedom. And outside of its general definition, freedom will means different things for everyone.

For some freedom is more valuable than money, for some money means economic freedom. We all connect freedom to something different, for some it's love, time, connection, travel, choice - the list is endless. But if I asked everyone I met what it was they wanted, I guarantee you, if we broke the answer down, we'd find that what they really want is to feel free.

The challenge is to know what freedom is to us if we are going to achieve it (we are all free already, but what will make us realise and feel that freedom is different for everyone.) Whatever it is you want, whatever the elements are that will allow you to feel free, experts say you can discover them by asking yourself these questions:

  1. What do I want? (Time, Money, Love, Travel, etc.)
  2. Why do I want this?
  3. What am I going to do with the time and the money etc., when I have it?
  4. How will having this increase the quality of my life?
  5. What is my personal definition of freedom? (The biggest question of them all)

Understanding that we are free to be whatever we want to be is a big step in designing our lives. The truth is that freedom is in this moment, freedom exists in the NOW, and in the NOW is your source of infinite creation to turn your bad habits into inspired action for a better future.

Once you have the answers to these questions, it's time to bring your life in alignment with them - to create the "perfect" life for you.

How to achieve perfection

Naturally, "perfection" is like freedom - outside of its general definition, perfection will mean different things to different people. In the main, people think that their life will only be perfect when they have achieved everything they want, when everything is completely going the way they want it to go. They are looking at the perfect state of life as something in the future, a goal to move towards. The truth is even when they have reached that state, there will still be new desires that will arise to be achieved. It is an illusion to think that the perfect life is something in the future instead of being present with us.

If you think that the perfect state of your life can only be experienced when everything you desire is manifested, then experts warn you are separating yourself in time. Thinking in terms of linear time is what creates resistance towards our desires manifesting as perfectly as possible. There is really no separation between past, present and future because our spirit contains it all as one reality. Your perfect life is not something that happens at a certain point of time, but it is the one where you're aligned with your highest purpose.

Adherents to this theory say there is not just one line of time that you will experience. There are multiple lanes of time running parallel with each other with their corresponding alternate states of the universe. Out of the many pathways that you can take in life, there is one particular path that is in alignment with your highest purpose. The universe has what you truly desire all lined up at different points of time in that particular path. The moment you step into your true path, you are living the perfect life instantly no matter where in time.

Thus you ask the 5 freedom questions to find your true path and use the 3 power questions to help align yourself with it by turning the 6 negative core habits into positive ones.

Taking action equals attraction of opportunity. Your hard work will not go unnoticed. Instead, your efforts will accumulate goodwill and you'll do a lot of things right in your life, business, and career that you'll think haven't been noticed, abut don't get disheartened.

By taking action every day, in a strong and steady manner, by overcoming obstacles and powering through the dips, by trudging onward through tough days and getting energised by great days you will win through. The backbone for it all will be the clear vision of what you want to achieve. See each action as a small victory, each accomplishment another step closer to your big breakthrough.

So keep going. Keep pushing. Take action and you'll attract good people, great opportunity, and what you want in life. Do not get down, and never, ever, ever give up. Everyone is on the same journey, just taking their own path to their self-fulfilling alignment of purpose.

Whether you are 16 or 76, you still have so much to offer the world and you can make it a better place. The sun will come up tomorrow whether you're angry or optimistic. It's your day. We all have the same 24 hours, and it's up to you to choose what to do with it.

Gently, yet often, exercise your risk threshold like a muscle. Choose well. Choose to change. Choose to add value to the world. Choose the wisdom of love, and love will share its wisdom with you.

Yours in love,

Mickie Kent