Projecting Happiness

May 12, 2011

It occurred to me today just how easy it is to project onto others our disappointment and unhappiness as well as blame and guilt. The sad part is that I saw how quickly it can happen without the slightest pause; mostly unconsciously.

Today it almost happened to me with my children. Scary! Yet at the same time it wasn’t scary because I cherish these moments of awakening. On an almost daily basis I speak with others about living consciously and understanding the patterns that we continue to live with. There’s no question that we pass along beliefs, expectations and our own patterns to others, especially those we are close with. Yet, if we make a concerted effort to see our patterns– our default tendencies, then we can stop the past from reliving itself in the future, from generation to generation.

Yeah, I know, you want me to tell you what awful thing I almost did, right? Okay, I’ll spill the beans.

This morning wasn’t the smoothest “get out of the door and off to school” morning. My son’s pants didn’t fit right (and we couldn’t find any others!), my hair wasn’t doing its thing, my daughter refused to stop watching SpongeBob to brush her teeth, my bacon caught fire in the microwave, and then my son topped it off by turning on his X Box when we should have already arrived at school. We were super late!

As is certain, however, they were both mad at me for rushing them and being “mean.” I should have been laughing, really, but I was seething in that moment deep inside. To make things worst, they wouldn’t even look at me or speak to me in the car.  Seriously???

I’m laughing now as I replay the entire scene in my head as it is the kind of classic example that I would give in one of my workshops. I was so angry, and I also was feeling sorry for myself. “How could my children treat me this way; I didn’t do anything. Poor me!” Interestingly enough, I’ve had similar mornings where this kind of scenario wouldn’t have phased me at all. Thankfully, the advisor in me spoke loudly inside before I spoke out to my children, potentially projecting the following, “How dare you be mad at me! What did I do to you? I should be the one ignoring both of you! You were both mean to me! etc….”

Scary, right? Yet doesn’t this happen all the time? What if I hadn’t had the uber conscious moment to understand what I was about to do and say to them? My projection would have taught them that it’s better to blame and make others feel guilty and sad instead of just dealing with my own emotions and shifting to higher, more productive thoughts…thoughts that would help the reactive emotions subside, ultimately not affecting my children and others in their path that day (or mine for that matter!).

Now, don’t get me wrong. I’m human. I do project, probably more than I’m aware.  But what I know for sure is that being more conscious is a way of life; a way of life I am choosing to follow.  Challenging? Yes. But, worth the work.

I read this today which made me feel more secure in my desire to stop negative patterns from holding us back:

Your happiness does not depend on what others do, but only upon your own vibrational balance. And the happiness of others does not depend on you, but on their own vibrational balance, for the way anyone feels, in any moment, is only about their own mix of energies.

More on this concept of happiness and what we can both internalize and project onto others…

The greatest gift that you could ever give to another is your own happiness, for when you are in a state of joy or happiness or appreciation, you are fully connected to positive Source energy that is truly who you are. And when you are in that state of connection, anything or anyone that you are holding as your object of attention benefits from your attention.

What if you can’t choose happiness in that moment?

Well, then, do the next best thing:

  1. Be AWARE of your emotions
  2. ACCEPT them for what they are (Your own mix of energies!)
  3. CHOOSE to not project them onto anyone

When you feel ready to shift, tap into the happiness in the new moment, for each moment provides us with an opportunity to feel different and great.

What might you be projecting?

Stop the pattern.

Namaste,

Monique

Are you caging yourself or being caged?

The second half of The Energy Bus, by Jon Gordon gives us some great food for thought. I enjoy the metaphors sprinkled throughout the book, because they help to create a visual that can act as cues to remind us of when shifting our energy (or removing ourselves from negative environments) is essential.

Since Halloween is drawing near, I decided that I would use the months of September and October to practice ridding my inner and outer surroundings of the “negative dogs” and the “energy vampires.” By the time October 31st comes around I’ll be ready to celebrate the success of this challenge.

Truth be told, however, we don’t need an occasion like Halloween to practice these techniques. The dogs and vampires surround us daily, and relinquishing them of their power on a daily basis is where the mastery lies.

So, what’s all this dog talk? Here’s the story from The Energy Bus.

“A man goes to the village to visit the wise man and he says to the wise man, ‘I feel like there are two dogs inside me. One dog is the positive, loving, kind and gentle dog and then I have this angry, mean-spirited, and negative dog and they fight all the time. I don’t know which is going to win!’ The wise man thinks for a moment and he says, ‘I know which is going to win. The one you feed the most, so feed the positive dog.’”

We all have those voices inside barking at us all day. Which one is more productive and energy building, and which one makes us foam at the mouth (practically!) and sends people running in the other direction? I bet I don’t have to answer the question. It’s kind of scary to see yourself as a dog on attack, but many times that’s exactly how we act toward ourselves and others. Yikes! So, let’s heed the wise man’s advice and FEED THE POSITIVE DOG!

Joy, the super positive Energy Bus-Driver also refers to another creature we need to watch out for. She explains:

“I call the people who drain your energy Energy Vampires and they will suck the life out of you and your goals and vision if you let them. They will cause an engine leak, make your ride miserable, or even worse slash your tires.”

I never thought of these “energy suckers” as vampires before, but the visual is very powerful. We all know who these people are, don’t we? Sometimes we call them Debbie Downers, or Sore Losers, Wet Towels, Buzz Kills, etc. Humorous, yes, but true. When we are in our “flow” and feeling great, one of these vampires comes along and drains us of our energy through his/her complaints, accusations, depression, etc. Sometimes, we are the vampires. Yes, looking in the mirror often can be enlightening. We all have a shadow side and many of the things we see in others that make us feel uncomfortable are the very things we do to others unconsciously.

So, how do we not become the negative dog or energy vampires, and how do we avoid getting the energy sucked out of us from other negative dogs and energy vampires?

One way is to increase our self awareness, or consciousness. Take your dog on a walk; WALK THE TALK. Here’s what Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi, author of FLOW: The Psychology of Optimal Experience, has to say about leading your energy through consciousness:

“A person can make himself happy, or miserable, regardless of what is actually happening ‘outside,’ just by changing the contents of consciousness. We all know individuals who can transform hopeless situations into challenges to be overcome, just through the force of their personalities. This ability to persevere despite obstacles and setbacks is the quality people most admire in others, and justly so; it is probably the most important trait not only for succeeding in life, but for enjoying it as well. To develop this trait, one must find ways to order consciousness so as to be in control of feelings and thoughts.”

He also said:

“But no social change can come until the consciousness of individuals is changed first. When a young man asked Carlyle how he should go about reforming the world, Carlyle answered, ‘Reform yourself. That way there will be one less rascal in the world.’ The advice is still valid. Those who try to make life better for everyone without having learned to control their own lives first usually end up making things worse all around.”

Yes, folks, it all starts with us.

And, Joy, our super positive Energy Bus driver tells us that these are the final rules to creating our Energy Bus (continued from my last blog):

6. Post a Sign That Says No Energy Vampires Allowed on Your Bus. That’s right, just don’t let them in! Tell them to stay away. And, if you are the vampire, you’ve got some work to do.

7. Enthusiasm Attracts More Passengers and Energizes Them During the Ride. Do you want to be on the Debbie Downer bus or the Bob the Builder bus?

8. Love Your Passengers. The heart acts as an emotional conductor and radiates how you are feeling to every cell in the body via the heart’s electromagnetic field; this energy field can be detected up to 5 to 10 feet away. What are you attracting? Do you want to attract love or fear?

9. Drive with Purpose. If you don’t know where you’re going, how will you get to where you need to go? Drive your bus with purpose daily and more people will come along for the ride.

10. Have Fun and Enjoy the Ride. In the end, isn’t this what life’s all about?

No Energy Vampires Allowed!

More and more, what matters to me is enjoying the process, not the end result. Finding joy and living energetically in the moment can provide us with millions of meaningful moments along our journey.

While common sensical, The Energy Bus provides us a story that we can relate to. We encounter individuals on a daily basis who have either given up, or who are fighting way too hard. Sometimes, we, ourselves, are those people. Author, Jon Gordon, gives us 10 simple steps to gain more control of our lives, raise our energy, live with heart, and allow the flow of life to bring us joy again.

We can choose to be energetic and happy. The choice always begins with us.

Halloween doesn’t need to be every day. That’s really scary! Let’s get rid of those nasty dogs and vampires and get a move on!

Enjoy your ride!

Monique

My Relaxed Book Club will discuss selections from books I feel help high-achieving professionals continue to develop themselves and work on their personal leadership leading to more fulfilled, balanced and successful lives and careers.

Think Big & Make Magic.

February 15, 2010

If this is your first time visiting my blog, you’ll notice that I’m currently blogging about some great books—books that inspire and teach us how to improve our lives in many ways. This month we’re talking about Happiness. Enjoy….

Making time for friends is such a huge part of my life. I realized long ago how connecting with my very close friends (even in small ways, like a weekly email or a Facebook post) and being open to new friendships brings me so much joy. This is why I love Gretchen Rubin’s The Happiness Project goals for June, which include remembering birthdays, being generous, showing up, not gossiping, and making new friends. According to Rubin’s research the most meaningful contributor to happiness is having strong social bonds.

Taking this further, Rubin’s research showed that being generous (or providing support to others) strengthens the bonds of friendship and simply, makes us feel good. However, since she couldn’t (or didn’t want to) add more tasks to her day, whether they were the feel good type or not, she did realize that helping people think big and bringing people together were a few of the ways that she demonstrated generosity. These resonate very strongly with me, and when I explored my own “generous” actions, the same seemed to be true for me. I always seek creative/idea-building environments and thrive in them. And, as a professional development guru, I simply LOVE brainstorming with colleagues,  friends, and clients and watching them follow through on their magnificent, happiness-creating goals. The same goes with introducing one person to another, who together can create magic in some way. In business, we call them “referrals,” although now I’d rather call them “gifts.” When I do these things well, I definitely feel a surge of happy energy.

Here’s Rubin in her own words:

“I’d had a wonderful experience helping people think big myself. After Eliza started kindergarten, her nursery school arranged a reunion for all the children who had ‘graduated.’ While the children played with their former classmates, the nursery school directors, Nancy and Ellen, led a parent discussion about the kindergarten transition. As always, their insights were extremely helpful. When I stood up to leave I thought, ‘These two should write a book.’ I was immediately convinced that this was the greatest idea ever. I suggested it to them on the spot…I put them in touch with my agent…In a flash they had a book contract, and now Nancy Schulman and Ellen Birnbaum’s Practical Wisdom for Parents: Demystifying the Preschool Years is on the shelves. Knowing that I played a small role in their achievement made me intensely happy.”

How cool is that? To be able to help them think big and make one of their dreams come true…I’ll take that kind of happiness any day.

How do you help others think big?

What people can you bring together to create make some magic?

So, yes, as Rubin understood about herself during her Happiness Project, there are so many ways we can be generous, but they don’t always have to take up too much time or money or make us go out of our way. We can identify ways of being generous that are genuinely a part of who we are and what we already do.

Here’s a take-away…look for those “generous acts” in your life that are already present that you can turn up a notch to create more happiness in your life.

Let me know what you find.

-Monique


“Thousands of candles can be lit from a single candle,

and the life of the candle will not be shortened.

Happiness never decreases by being shared.” –Buddha

My Relaxed Book Club will discuss selections from books I feel help high-achieving professionals continue to develop themselves and work on their personal leadership leading to more fulfilled, balanced and successful lives and careers.

Be Inspired. Be Happy.

February 1, 2010

During this first year of blogging I’ve written about ways that we can improve ourselves and our lives—productivity, personal responsibility, living your vision, living in the moment, shifting out of low and negative energies, accessing your intuition, and more. Yet when I think about the underlying purpose of why and what I write, it always comes down to HAPPINESS…finding it for myself and helping others fill their spirits with it. When I am happy I am a better person. I am energized, helpful, grateful, inspired, ready to take action, ready to be of service. Everything just seems to flow when we are happy. Isn’t genuine happiness what we are really after?

So when I learned of Gretchen Rubin’s new book The Happiness Project I couldn’t resist and pre-ordered it. The book is Rubin’s year-long “project” to learn everything there is to know about the science of happiness as well as her personal journey to achieve greater happiness and fulfillment. It’s an easy and fun read, and very insightful.

So many of her lessons learned rang true for me and she posed questions, I feel, that we should all be asking of ourselves. Then, I remembered how many times friends and colleagues asked me “How do you know what to write about? What inspires you?” And it became crystal clear to me that what I read daily is a huge source of inspiration for me. It could be anything—a book, a magazine article, a prayer, or a quote. My process is always as follows…read…reflect…learn…take action…feel inspired…inspire others.

And then I thought, “Wouldn’t it be great to share my process with other ‘students’ (like me), the books I am reading and applying to my life, and create a forum where we can share with each other and continue the process of reflecting, learning, taking action and feeling inspired?” I like it, and I’m taking action!

In launching this new idea (a part of my happiness project!) I’m going to choose an excerpt from The Happiness Project to get started. In fact, I will share quite a bit from Rubin’s book during the month of February—so it may feel like a “blog book club”. If you have ever wanted to take part in a book club, but perhaps a more relaxed version, here’s your chance! I hope you will participate with me.

So, in this first excerpt Rubin shares,

“It was time to expect more of myself. Yet as I thought about happiness, I kept running up against paradoxes. I wanted to change myself but accept myself. I wanted to take myself less seriously—and also more seriously. I wanted to use my time well, but I also wanted to wander, to play, to read at whim. I wanted to think about myself so I could forget myself. I was always on the edge of agitation; I wanted to let go of envy and anxiety about the future, yet keep my energy and ambition…Was I searching for spiritual growth and a life more dedicated to transcendent principles—or was my happiness project just an attempt to extend my driven, perfectionist ways to every aspect of my life?”

Wow! This hit me right in the gut. “This is me,” I told myself.  In fact, the last line really made me question… “When is enough…enough?” Maybe this rings true for you as well. And perhaps even more so if you consider yourself a high achiever or overachiever as I have practically all my life. And in my daily quest to feel fulfilled and “happy” these paradoxes always show up.

So what’s one of my paradox’s you may be asking? I would say that worrying about tomorrow versus living in the moment is one I struggle with, but enjoy working on. It truly is a work in progress, but I can say that the more I am conscious of my tendencies and practice being in the moment, the happier I feel. A second example would be getting the 7 to 8 hours of sleep I need versus being a member of the 5:30 am “productivity club.” These two, believe me, are only a few of the paradoxes I experience daily. Do you have any that you would like to share?

So how do you manage these paradoxes in your quest for productivity, improvement, growth, and happiness? Well, here are four tips which work for me as well as for many of the magnificent high achievers I have the pleasure of coaching.

  1. Understand that many of the things we feel we “must” do are fear based. The majority of our “must do’s” and “should have’s” are a result of learned behavior. Do these sound familiar? — “If you don’t fight for it, you won’t get it”, or “You must work long, hard hours to make it to the top.” Claiming these beliefs as false is difficult, but can be eased greatly when we confront and work with our limiting beliefs and gremlins (those little voices in our head that tell us that we can’t do something or that we are not good enough). When we challenge these, we reduce the paradoxes that may prevent us from pushing forward.
  2. Breathe and give yourself positive self-talk in the moment. For example, when my daughter needs my full attention, while I feel that I must keep working, I literally stop what I am doing, take a deep breath and ask myself, “How true is it that my work will suffer if I don’t finish what I am doing in this very instant?” My answer is always, “not very true!” You also can ask yourself, “What is most important in this moment and why?” You will find your own answers. Your positive self-talk can take the form of an affirmation as well. When I am hit with the paradox of “I want to exercise more and I also want to rest more,” which drives to the heart of my self-esteem if I fail, I use this affirmation, “I love myself exactly as I am,” and I always feel better.
  3. Rely on your Top Ten List. If you have taken the time to create a list of values or ideals that guide your life (as Rubin recommends), it becomes easy to make these decisions while dropping the guilt we may feel. For example, one of my Top Ten Principles is “No more Mommy guilt!” So, when my son or daughter “needs me” during a particular time period that I have claimed for myself (like a well deserved bubble bath!), then I have no problem saying “not right now,” and I can release the guilt associated with saying “no.” You also can view Rubin’s Twelve Commandments (as she calls them) here.
  4. Adopt this simple, yet powerful life principle…
    Each moment describes who you are and gives you the opportunity to decide if that’s who you want to be
    .
    Having a principle like this in our Top Ten or Twelve Commandments gives us permission to take our goals in stride and focus on today and what we need today to make us happy.

The more I read the excerpt the more I giggle, because how else would we feel when we are so close to achieving a breakthrough? If making positive changes that create more happiness in our lives were easy then we wouldn’t be talking about self-improvement so much. In fact, it would be “no sweat” setting and achieving these happiness goals. Paradoxes like these, then, serve to help keep us on track, so that the “aha moments” are in the process itself, not in the achievement.

I can’t wait to share more excerpts of this FAB book and many others. I also look forward to hearing your perspective and celebrating your moments (“aha” and otherwise) with you.

If you would like to join my Relaxed Book Club, make sure to subscribe (right-hand column) to receive my blog entries, and add your comments so we can have a nice discussion! And, as you guessed it, The Happiness Project is off the shelf and in my hands this month!

In the spirit of inspiration and happiness,

Monique

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