Are you an emotional vending machine?
Do people know exactly which one of your buttons to push in order to get you to react?
It doesn’t need to be this way.
In fact you can surprise them by changing your emotions in the same way vending machines can be re-stocked with different merchandise.
Your emotional responses are something you’ve adapted over time. At some point in your life you decided that if A happened then you would respond with B. And maybe this kind of behavior served you well at one point in life. Maybe it allowed you to protect yourself or get ahead.
But what if it’s no longer beneficial?
What if your emotional reactions are now eroding your relationships?
If you’re tired of people pushing your buttons, or if your emotional reactions are no longer serving you well then perhaps it’s time for you change your emotional inventory.
Try it for a few days and see what happens. If you don’t like it you can always re-stock your old emotional responses.
Have you ever experienced this moment in time before?
Will you ever experience it again?
Any challenge or problems that you’re currently experiencing is unique to your set of circumstances and the moment in which you are experiencing them. And this applies to everyone.
Everyone is figuring it out as they move along their own journeys.
At times it might look as though other people have it all figured out but they don’t.
New solutions to problems that never existed and new ideas are continuously being generated to cope and attempt to keep up with new challenges. This is just how life is.
Some might tell you that they have the answers your problems but what they have is the answers to the problems that they were able to solve in their past.
This is not to say that seeking advice is bad, it’s just that you can’t expect it to always work for you.
Your situation is always unique regardless of what you might hear or think.
So take comfort in knowing you’re not the only one stumbling through life and making it up as you go along. No one really has life figured out, and that’s what makes it interesting.
What are you being sold and told can be perfect?
What does perfect look like, and according to whom?
The ideas of perfection change with time. Things that might be considered perfect today in one society can very well be shunned very soon by another.
If you continue to chase someone else’s view of perfection then all you will see is the imperfections in your own life. And the reality is that they aren’t imperfections, they are just part of life.
If you really feel the need to be perfect in one area of life then I suggest you choose to be perfectly kind. There’s very little downfall and people might begin to think you’re perfect.
Who do you think you’d like to be more like?
Who would you like your spouse or kids to emulate?
Who are your ‘heroes’?
Perhaps you admire someone that has made a lot of money, is a champion athlete, great business person or a great performer. The problem is that when you see that individual’s success you only see one small glimpse of who they are.
How often do you hear about a celebrity or someone you admire that’s fallen from grace and you’re surprised or even disappointed?
Wishing or wanting to be like someone else is a tricky proposition because your judgments are based what you think they’re like and not in their reality.
Focusing on only one sliver of an individual distorts your view of the entire picture. It’s like the old adage that if you stand really close to an elephant, you wouldn’t know it’s an elephant because you’d be too close to see the entire animal.
It’s great to admire talented individuals but then turn your attention back on yourself. Develop your own character by working on yourself. Learn to be the hero of your own story.
How far do you go to seek the approval of others?
What aspects of your own personality to do sacrifice in order to be accepted by others?
You do an injustice to yourself and the world every time you silence who you are in order for approval.
You are a unique individual and a large part of your uniqueness is how you express yourself. So don’t suffocate your own personality just to fit in.
It can be difficult at times being yourself but eventually you will find that doing so gives you a sense of power that you won’t find if you’re always trying to be the kind of person you think other people want you to be.
Seeking approval is deep in your DNA and goes back to the days when individuals were ostracized from tribes if they didn’t behave a certain way. And being unaccepted back then meant almost certain death. But today it doesn’t.
The fact is that it is easier than ever to find people that will accept you for you who are. They will be drawn to you because you have the courage to stand up and say this is who I am.
So don’t diminish who you are because you want the approval others. Be more of you and learn to approve of yourself.
Are you afraid to focus?
I know this sounds a little ridiculous at first but think about it for a moment.
When was the last time you were able to shut out the world and focus for an hour or two?
Now if your job requires you to be on-call then obviously being unreachable is unacceptable while on duty, but what about off duty?
Stepping away from the world for a short period of time requires a degree of strength because there are two questions that your brain is constantly asking.
What’s happening in the world and what if someone needs me?
And either one of these questions can cause you to have level of underlying anxiety.
The truth is that you will never always know what’s happening in the world. And the good thing is that you don’t need to know all that’s happening.
And fortunately if someone needs you urgently enough in today’s world it’s easy for them to find a way to get a hold of you.
Learning to shut out distractions and honing your ability to focus on the task at hand will increase your productivity, ultimately allowing you more time for other things in your life.
So stop being afraid to focus. Someone will be sure to tell you if the worlds about to end.
What make of car do you drive?
What brand of clothes do you wear?
What college did you go to?
What kind of work do you do?
What religion are you?
What race are you?
What do your answers say about you?
Your answers to these questions may seem like they say a lot about you but they’re only a thin veneer of you who you really are.
There are brilliant, tightly knit stories wrapped around each one of your answers and these stories have gained momentum over time until eventually no one even knows or asks where did the story start, or even if they’re true.
The bigger question is what do you want your answers to these questions say about you?
Do they define who you are or is there something deeper?
That’s a story I’ll leave for you to explore and tell.
Have you heard the phrase ‘Think Different?
It was popularized by Apple Inc. in the late 90’s for an advertising campaign and was a great success for the company.
Think different makes for a great slogan and can make you successful in business and life, but how do you think differently?
If all you do day in and day out is socialize with the same people, repeatedly consume the same popular media and never get out of your environment then how is thinking differently ever going to happen?
Truth is that it probably won’t.
Thinking differently requires two specific things.
First you have to expose yourself to different environments and information which will help you spark new ideas.
And the second one is also right there in the phrase. You need to spend time thinking.
Now I know you’re super busy and have a million things going on, and that’s fine, but if you really want to have different thoughts and ideas then carving out time to think has to be a priority.
How do you think?
Were you ever taught how to think or were you just told to do so?
I had to learn for myself so let me share what works for me and maybe it’ll work for you too.
A quiet environment with no distractions, a blank sheet of paper with two columns with the headings work and non-work, and then I just jot down every thought that comes to my mind and see where they lead.
I know it’s not very scientific but it seems to work.
Give it a try.
Set aside some time this week to practice thinking. Who knows you might start thinking differently too.
How much do you weigh?
I weigh 172 on my scale at home and 180 on the scale at the doctor’s office.
According to the experts at 5’9’’ and 175 I’m overweight and my BMI is too high.
What size shoes do you wear?
I wear 10.5 in sneakers and a 10 or 11 in dress shoes depending on the brand.
What size jeans do you wear?
I wear a 32 in the Lucky brand and 33 in the Gap brand and 34 in dress pants.
I consume between 1000 and 2000 calories per day depending on what the packages say.
How about you?
I have a confession to make.
I really don’t know what any of these numbers really mean.
What other arbitrary numbers do you use to measure yourself against?
Measurements of who you are and how you should be begin to enter your life ever so subtly until you’re using them to guide your life without ever asking why.
If you’re going to measure yourself against numbers then at least be curious about the numbers. Just in case you get to end of your life only to realize that the numbers were all made up and measuring up meant nothing at all.
Do you remember the last time you felt truly care free?
The last time you woke up and didn’t think about passing grades, fulfilling financial commitments or navigating complicated relationships?
When the morning came and you didn’t even know what day or time it was?
Waking up and falling into the day not knowing or thinking about what would happen next?
The feeling of just being, without a care in the world.
The challenges of everyday life are ever present and always will be, but you don’t have to continuously indulge yourself in a never ending spiral of caring and concerns.
The handful of years where naiveté and innocence, not caring about the ‘real world’ seem to be reserved for only the very young amongst us, but it’s not.
It’s available for everyone.
Even if just for a few brief moments you can re- experience the feeling and the freedom of not having a care in the world.
But you have to learn to be present in a moment.
You have to dedicate a little time to cultivating a practice of not living in the past or future.
To find your care free moments you can choose deep focused breathing, moments of gratitude, meditation or prayer, it’s up to you. Once you find what works for you, relish your moments of bliss, without a care in the world.
When was the last time you purchased a car?
What about the last cellphone or TV that you purchased?
Do you remember seeing an owner’s manual?
The manufacturers of these items and so many others provide you with an owner’s manual so you can learn how to best operate the item.
An important section in an owner’s manual is the troubleshooting section, essentially, a guide about what to do when something goes wrong.
Fortunately or unfortunately, depending on your perspective, there are no owner’s manuals for humans.
The great thing is that as an adult and if you choose to, you get to write your own owner’s manual.
You have the fantastic job of telling people how to you want to be treated.
You get to decide what you’re good at and under what conditions you perform best.
You have the privilege of troubleshooting your own problems.
And the best things about writing your own manual is that it’s specifically made for you and you get to edit and make changes as you learn more about yourself.
What do you think of when hear the word debt?
Does the word make you think about money and finances?
What about debt in other areas of your life?
What about emotional, physical and spiritual debt?
How does your life look when you neglect to invest in all areas of your life?
Accruing financial debt is the one area that many people dread and spend most of their time focusing on, but the irony is that for many it’s the least fulfilling.
What does a life look like if all your financial debt is satisfied but emotionally, physically and spiritually you’re broke?
It’s cliché to say that at the end of people’s lives they would trade all they have for one more day of good health or wish they could repair broken relationships, but it’s true.
Just like your financial debts, you will eventually have to pay interest on the other areas of life where you’ve created debt. The difference is that with financial debt your lenders keep reminding you owe them, but calling of your debt in other areas of life is more subtle until all of a sudden you find yourself in a deep hole.
Don’t let this happen to you.
Get in the habit of managing your debt by making regular investments in your emotional, physical and spiritual health and in turn, they will make your financial health all the more worthwhile.
When do you know if you’ve made the right choice?
I’ll wait while you think about it.
(Patiently waiting and whistling a random tune).
If you said, after you make it, then Congratulaions! We have a winner.
You see, there is no right choice.
There is only an outcome that either does or does not align with what you would like to happen.
The interesting thing about choices is that you’re making them all day long. It’s just that some choices are more important than others, and the irony is that you can’t not make a choice.
One way to navigate the constant stream of choices is to not give them all equal weight. Perhaps you can find a way to automate some of the choices you have, or plan for them in advance.
You can also choose to let some situations just unfold without too much mental investment. This way you can save your mental energy for the bigger, more important choices.
When it comes to important choices you will never have all the information you need so eventually there will come a time when you’ll have to choose to act or not.
Ultimately you have to come to terms with that fact that you and everyone else are making the right choices based on information and perspectives at hand.
You see, you’ll never know if you’ve made the right choice because as of now there is no parallel universe in which you can re-run the identical scenario to see how your other choice would have played out.
Coming to terms with the fact that you made the right choice can be difficult, but then that’s a choice too.
Should the toilet paper hang over or under?
Do you brush your teeth before or after breakfast?
Is it better to shower in the morning or evening?
Is there a correct answer to any of these questions?
In the grand scheme of life these are trivial questions that lend themselves to individual preferences. But still people will debate that there’s a correct way to do any of the activities mentioned above.
How much of your energy is spent fighting for your preferences?
Is your identity tied your to your preferences?
Do you feel weak if you don’t stand strong with your preferences?
What if for one day you let go of your preferences?
Not compromise, because compromise carries its own baggage, but just let go.
If this sounds ridiculous or even a little scary that’s even better.
Go ahead and give it a try.
Remember, ultimately preferences are exactly what they say they are. It’s how you prefer a thing to be, not how it should be.
How many beautiful words do you have in your vocabulary?
Words that you can use on a regular basis to make someone smile, laugh and feel loved.
What are doing with these words?
Are you saving them for a special occasion?
You do know that if you use kind, warm, uplifting words that you won’t run out?
Then what are you saving them for?
There’s someone you know that needs to hear something nice today.
There’s a person that’s close to you that is questioning their life.
There’s a person close to you that’s had a hard day.
There’s a person that needs to know that they’re loved.
Tell them today.
You’ve been gifted with the ability to change people’s lives with words. You have a choice to make.
Are you going to use words to tear people down or lift them up?
Use all your beautiful words whenever you can. It might feel strange at first and people you’re close to might be taken back by your new found niceness but deep down, through their suspicion, they’ll appreciate your kindness.
And if you’re struggling with which words to use then here’s a suggestion.
What words would you like to hear someone say to you?
What would it look like if during your next conversation you gave the person your undivided attention?
What would it feel like if you focused on every word they said?
Do you think you’re capable of doing so?
The reality is that you can never give 100% of your attention to anything because your brain is wired for survival, so it’s constantly surveying your surroundings.
But what if, even for just a few minutes, you gave them as much attention as you could?
As Stephen Covey said in his 7 Habits book “communication is the most important skill in life.” And the first step to great communication is “first seek to understand.” However, understanding is almost impossible to do if you’re not paying attention.
So give it a try today.
In your interactions and conversations pay attention and see what happens.
Who knows? The person you’re speaking with might give you their undivided attention too.
What’s the difference between shade and shadow?
You might seek shade on a sunny day and perhaps avoid shadows on a dark night.
Both are caused by the obstruction of light.
What about in your life?
Do you avoid the shadows?
Do the temporary dark moments cause you anxiety and fear?
When you look at an object or painting it’s the shadows that give it perspective. It’s the shadows that provide the depth and richness that is often admired. The same applies to your life too.
It’s difficult to accept or embrace hardship but without it life would be flat, you would be missing the dimension of depth.
Remember, for a shadow to exist there has to be a source of light and the light can come in a variety of forms. The most powerful light will come from inside you. It will be your perspective of how you view the shadows.
Is now a good time to go for a walk?
Is now a good time to make ‘the’ call?
Is now a good time to tell them you love them?
Is now a good time to start that new project?
Is now a good time to commit to being healthy?
Is now a good time to say no?
Is now a good time to write that book, letter or memoir?
Is now a good time for…?
You won’t find now on a calendar or clock but it’s probably the most important time in your life.
Now happens in a blink of an eye.
A decision in the now doesn’t have to be huge. It can be as simple as one small action or writing something down, whatever it takes to capture your now so you can act on it as soon as possible.
What’s on your now list?
What can you do right now after reading this? Take a minute to write it down.
Now can be the difference between yes I did and wish I had.
Is it a coincidence that now spelled backwards is won?
Or maybe it’s when you learn to master your now, you’ve won.
Have you ever shared an unbiased opinion?
Do you believe that you can ever really be impartial?
It’s easy and at times reassuring to think that you can in effect share an opinion or thought that is void of bias, but probably impossible.
You see, every opinion you share is colored by your experiences, and even if you try to prevent your experience from influencing your judgement, it’s already too late.
The ultimate bias lies in self-preservation.
The need and desire to be or at least appear to be correct, right or smart is the ultimate flaw on opinions.
If you really want to express an unbiased opinion then it’s important to know and acknowledge that you do indeed have biases. And perhaps even more important, when you’re seeking advice or the opinion of others, realize that they too have biases.
The next time you’re swayed of being influenced by the opinions of others keep in mind that they’re based on their experiences not yours. And if you’re ever asked for your unbiased opinion then be honest and say that you’ll be happy to share your opinion but it will not unbiased.
Do you remember the last time you were in a smoke filled room or restaurant only to leave with your clothes smelling like the room you were in?
The lingering effect of the odor is called residual impact.
Even though you’re no longer in the environment and you couldn’t see what caused the odor you’re still affected by the experience.
Luckily for you the odor in your clothes can be quickly removed by a good cleaning.
But what about your mind?
How many different ‘smoke filled rooms’ do you take your mind through on a regular basis?
What environments do you expose it to and how much residual odor are you unknowingly experiencing.
What emotions are being triggered by what you read, see and watch?
Because it’s not readily apparent it’s very easy to deny the fact that your mind and ultimately your emotional state are affected by what you expose it to. And if you really think about it then you know that all media is designed to change your emotional state otherwise it wouldn’t exist.
Now the choice is yours.
Which smoke filled rooms do you want your mind to end up smelling like?
Consider this. You can’t walk through a sewage plant expecting to walk out smelling like roses.