“What now?” versus “What next?”

You know how sometimes you seem to just know what to do, and other times planning goes sideways? The harder you try to get clarity, the murkier you feel?

Sometimes when we seek clarity in the moment, we innocently confuse ourselves by looking too far down the road. We confuse fortune-telling with listening for guidance. If you find yourself spinning as you contemplate what comes next, play with allowing your mind to quiet and asking, “What now?”

Not, “What are the next three things I need to do?” But simply, “What now? What’s showing up right this moment?”

Look for yourself

You don’t have to believe that asking “What now?” will work better than “What next?” Just let yourself to notice if there is something about this that sounds or feels right. If there is, allow yourself to be inclined in the direction of that feeling. The value isn’t in the words or the formula; it’s in that feeling you get of being somehow more connected.

Let me know what shows up. As always I welcome your comments, questions, and push back.  And if this has been helpful, please share it with friends and colleagues using the social sharing buttons on the left. ♥ 

For deeper engagement with your own knowingness, check out The Art of Living

The Art of Living is a 12-week virtual mash-up of teaching and group coaching. In a small group (maximum 12), we will tap the deeper intelligence available to every human being, the intelligence that will guide you in the creation of what you want in life, whether you think it is possible at the outset or not. The intelligence that provides the answers, regardless of what questions you ask. 🙂

Starts November 9, 2017Click here for details.

Overwhelm is optional (really!)

Overwhelm is optional—really

If a surfer riding the crest of a wave obsesses about the last six waves or the next six waves, she’s certain to wipe out.

Yet human beings do this all the time when we (yes, me too!) innocently generate overwhelm.

The illusion of overwhelm

Most of us live in the illusion that overwhelm comes from overwhelming circumstances. We think that our jammed mental circuits, tight shoulders, irritability, and confusion are inevitable and natural consequences of the situations we face.

But that’s just not so.

Overwhelm comes to us courtesy of thought, not the world

Overwhelm is the product of overwhelming thought, not overwhelming circumstances.

Consider surfing.

If overwhelm were the natural byproduct of circumstances, every surfer would be utterly and completely freaked out by the ocean all the time.

I mean really, what’s more freaking overwhelming than the ocean and wind?

Successful surfers only focus on one wave at a time

A surfer who succeeds isn’t thinking about yesterday’s waves or tomorrow’s weather. She succeeds and improves to the extent that she pays attention right here, right now, and allows herself to be educated by the experience.

The surfer who stays in the moment learns naturally and organically on multiple levels as she gains experience. If she overanalyzes that experience, she’s going to gum up the works, stop learning, and perform poorly. (In golf this is known as the yips.)

Overwhelm arises from using the small personal mind to do a job it isn’t designed to do

Overwhelm arises when we try to think our way through situations that we are designed to live our way through.

When we live in the moment, life educates us in exactly the ways we require to meet whatever life is serving up. Like babies learning to walk and talk, life invites us to whole body, whole mind, whole spirit learning.

So long as we come back to the wave we are on right now.

Talk back

Play with this. Reflect on your experience. Where do you notice you or someone around you learning and growing organically? And where do you see you or someone else gum up the works by trying too hard or getting hung up on the past or the future? Play with the possibility that you are designed to do life with less mental effort than you may think.

Let me know what you notice in the comments at the bottom of this page, or email me.

Check out The Art of Living

How would it be to really see that you are perfectly designed to do life? If that sounds good, check out The Art of Living. It’s starts November 9, and three of 12 places are already spoken for.

It’s not life that’s going so fast, it’s your thinking

It’s easy to think that life speeds up and slows down–that sometimes it’s just nuts “out there” and sometimes it’s not. But life doesn’t go fast or slow; life simply unfolds moment to moment. What speeds up and slows down is our thinking. There’s nothing to fix here, just something to see, and when you see it, you tend not to find your speeded up thinking so compelling.

What’s Really Going on When Going with the Flow Isn’t Working

Have you ever felt like you were going with the flow, but the flow wasn’t serving up the insight, support, or momentum you need? You doubt your choice and wonder if it might not make more sense, just this once, to push the river. What’s likely is that you aren’t going with the flow at all, but that you are standing in the river. This is something to see, not fix. (And the mystery continues…)

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When Reality Hits, It Isn’t “Reality”

When Reality Hits, It Isn’t “Reality”

galaxy-10996_640
A long time ago in a galaxy far, far away I was a heavy smoker. Heavy as in two packs a day.

One day I decided to quit. It was the last day of a hunting trip in eastern Washington. (Yes, in that other galaxy in that other millennium I hunted ducks and other birds. We had two wonderful Labrador Retrievers, Tide and Yoyo, and I was a hella good shot.)

We hunted in the morning and early afternoon, then piled into the Chevy Suburban three decades before SUVs became the car we love to hate. As we drove over the mountains, I sucked on a bottle of scotch to steady my nicotine-deprived nerves. I was probably eating pretzels, too. I like pretzels on road trips even now, in this different galaxy, this new millennium, decades after leaving nicotine and scotch behind.

I was probably smoking pot, too. I can’t imagine that I wouldn’t have been.

But I digress.

Watch out for the dog!

As we pulled into the driveway after dark at the end of a long day, I said rather irritably to Miles (who in that alternate universe was not yet The Charming Prince), “Watch out for the dog!”

He said, “What dog?”

I said, “The big dog! Dammit. The dog right there in front of the car.”

I’ll never forget the look on his face, one part tired, two parts disgust, and seven parts WTF?

I looked again.

For a moment there was a dog, and at the same time there wasn’t a dog. I did and I did not see a dog until my perception settled down, and I decided that there was no dog.

I know. Confusing.

Reality is like that

The reality we perceive, whether the external reality of dogs and doormats or the internal reality of possibilities and preferences, is always in flux and always mediated by perception.

Granted, on that occasion my nervous system was particularly scrambled, but the variables governing reality are still operating, even when they are not so exaggerated.

Our vast capacity to perceive is organized by social and cultural norms,  our beliefs and assumptions, life history, language, and our nervous systems, among other things.

Most of the time for most people these variables vary within fairly narrow parameters, with the result that we tend to experience what we call reality as  fairly stable.

That saves a lot of time and trouble. We don’t have to figure out if the sound that awakens us in the morning is an alarm clock or a white rabbit.

And sometimes it helps to question reality

There are times when it behooves us to shake things up, especially when it comes to what we assume about ourselves and what is possible in life and business.

One morning in 1984 I awoke from an alcohol and cocaine haze to the brief vision of myself as a window, a window that was closing. I got out of bed, made a few phone calls, and through the kindness of both friends and strangers, found myself in rehab within 24 hours.

I promise you that the woman who had gone to bed a few hours before that vision did not have the resources (moral, financial, physical) to make that happen. In a very real sense (ha ha, no pun intended, but I hate to pass one up when it offers itself) reality shifted.

In one universe I was a hopeless alcoholic slut (sorry, there’s just no nice way to say it), and in the next I was a courageous soul embarking on the sacred project of creating a life.

You can explain it in various ways

There are many things you could point to by way of explaining that reality shift. One is grace, and I made a brief video about that. youtu.be/7lbCZs-9Mws

You could also point to choice, and the first and last videos in this month’s video round-up speak to that.

In this post I invite you to consider the facticity of reality’s plasticity.

It ain’t solid, folks

What you think is possible for you in this moment is a function of inputs and filters, not of a permanent and pervasive structure imposed on you from outside.

One more story.

Somewhere around 1999 I got the idea that it would be incredibly cool to take my niece, Amy, to Europe when she graduated from high school. She was 15 at the time.

I was still a relatively new coach, and I did not have the kind of money one would need for that kind of adventure. But that seemed to me to be a detail, and I had time to sort it out.

I started a savings account for the trip and added a hundred dollars here, fifty dollars there.

I went about my business, assuming that we were going to do this thing and looking for ways that it could be done.

And then the miracles happened

Along the way, some unexpected things happened. I received a totally unexpected legacy from a friend. I got my first $10,000 contract when a person in the first Authentic Promotion class asked if I would bring it to NASA. (Um, that would be a “Hell, yes!”

Needless to say, those things helped, and in 2003, Amy and I went on an amazing 29 day odyssey to Paris, Rome, Florence, London, New York City, and Washington, DC. (Sometimes I overdo things. Oh well.)

But even miracles have filters

Something to notice: all those lovely unexpected things that happened would NOT have helped if I had set up my reality filters a little differently.

For one thing, I have a whole heap of nieces and nephews. If I had set up my filters based on some notion of fairness, I doubt the trip would have gotten off the ground.

September, 11, 2001, shook up a lot of realities, and if Amy, I, or her parents had responded to that differently, we might never have followed through on such bold travel plans.

I’m not saying that fairness or caution are bad filters; I’m just pointing out that installing them would have made a difference in whether or not the miracles that happened made a difference.

Now, at last, this is about YOU

The purpose of all my storytelling today is to awaken your curiosity about the reality you’re living in.

I hope that it is one that amazes, delights, and nourishes you and the ones you love.

And if it is not, please know that there are other possibilities.

You have more choices than you may realize.

You have hidden allies.

You are every bit as miraculous as the fragment of a woman that I was on that lonely morning in 1984, and grace not only can happen, it WANTS to happen for you.

Reality testing

As I arrive at the finish line of this strange post, which has meandered like the race course in “Alice in Wonderland,” I feel quite wonderful.

In this moment my filters are set to miracle, and true to form, that is what I see and feel.

I don’t always experience life this way. I do not control my thoughts, and sometimes my thoughts are bleak, limited, and unpleasant to live with.

But they are only thoughts.

And I have come to see thought as the raw material of our magic making. Just because a thought appears doesn’t mean you have to use it to cook up your life.

When reality hits, it isn’t reality

While planning to take Amy to Europe, I often had the thought that it wasn’t fair to other nieces and nephews.

I could be writing the story of how going to Europe seemed like a great idea until the “reality” that it wouldn’t have been fair hit.

But that wouldn’t have been reality, would it?

Shortly after getting sober, I moved back in with Miles, who, over the next few years, morphed into the man I now call, without a shred of irony, The Charming Prince.

I was plagued with guilt until one day I saw that I could have guilt or a happy marriage, but not both.

I chose to give up guilt.

I could be telling the story of how how we tried to get back together after addiction destroyed our marriage, but the reality of my misdeeds got in the way.

But that wouldn’t have been reality either, would it?

You get to look and look again (and again)

Reality is a bit like a kaleidoscope.

You get to look, roll the barrel, and look again.

Have a wonderful, wonder-filled week, and please let me know what you’re discovering by sharing it in the comments.

Love,


Photo by Pixabay.com

Click here to learn about my newest program, The Art of Living: Creating Magic and Meaning in Life and Work. Save $100 when you sign up before April 21, 2016.

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