2016: The Year of the Happy Train!

Posted Posted in Breathe Yoga Newsletter, Essential Topics

Happy Train. Sear it into your mind. Happy Train. It’s an awesome expression. Happy Train. It’s a way of life. Happy Train. It makes a statement. Happy Train. It’s easy to remember. Happy Train. And people resonate with it – or not – immediately. From children to adults to the elderly, everybody knows if they’re on the Happy Train or not. It’s so basic and fundamental that nobody can argue with it. We will talk more about this in a minute, but first… Happy Train Happy Train Happy Train Happy Train Happy Train Happy Train Happy Train Happy Train Happy Train Happy Train Happy Train Happy Train Happy Train Happy Train Happy Train Happy Train Happy Train Happy Train Happy Train Happy Train Happy Train Happy Train!!!

Okay, here we go… A friend of mine has a family that’s very negative. They aren’t bad people or anything; they’re just negative. And they’re a product of their environment to some degree like we all are, and I don’t know their circumstances. So we aren’t blaming anyone or anything like that. The fact is, though, that they’re really negative. And they’ve been that way for a very long time. And she doesn’t do negative anymore.

My friend loves them very deeply, and she’s tried to love them in this negative state. After more than a couple of decades of this, though, she realized that it just wasn’t working. The data was in, and it was time for another plan. Anything but this is worth a try. So about a year ago, she made the difficult decision to not participate in the negativity anymore. Done. Zero, zippo, zilch. It just wasn’t helping anyone. She had to save herself at this point, so she retired. And what she realized was that she was actually loving them even more by practicing what some would call “tough love.” So what exactly did she do? She told them that from then on, she was on the Happy Train! And she was serious about it.

She said something like, “I love you, but no more negativity. I’m on the Happy Train, and I’m on it forever. You can hop on it or not; that’s your choice. You are totally free to do as you please. If you don’t, though, then I’ll have to choose to love you from a distance. But there will ALWAYS be a seat for you on the Happy Train, right next to mine. Always, that is a promise. I love you, I’ll always love you, and I hope you’ll join me.”

Wow! Isn’t that awesome? Who can argue with that? If someone’s being a real downer, always focusing on what is wrong, and you gently and lovingly remind them that you’re on the Happy Train, what can they say? It calls out their BS just like that, but it’s ingenious because it does it in such a way that they’re not being attacked. So they don’t have to get defensive. You’re not saying that they’re doing anything wrong. In fact, you’re not saying anything about them at all. You’re simply pointing out what you are up to. “Hey, I’m on the Happy Train. If that’s not cool with you then I’m happy to come back later. All good.”

And they feel it right away – whether or not they’re on it, that is. This is so basic that everybody feels it, right away. And again, it has nothing to do with calling people out for doing something right or wrong; it’s just that if you’ve made this decision then you might have to remind people from time to time. Old habits can die hard. It might take some practice. You might say (in a VERY disarming yet firm voice), “Hey, I’m just reminding you that I’m on the Happy Train. Let’s be as happy as we can. And we can totally talk about whatever it is that we need to talk about. But let’s be as happy as we can while we do it.”

You can see from this that we aren’t ignoring anything that’s important or frustrating or sad. We’re just ditching these old, unconscious patterns that bring everyone down. It’s fine to have disagreements or to discuss serious topics; that’s totally normal! But let’s do it consciously. Let’s try to actually get somewhere instead of having the same arguments and bitch sessions. Let’s do it without all the resentments, fears, and insecurities. Let’s just try to be as happy as we can while we focus on whatever it is we have to focus on. And when we’re being a total downer, let’s own it and say that’s not how I want to live anymore. I’m working on that, and thanks for the help.

So if you have some negative people in your life and you’ve been wanting to change the old, tired dynamic but haven’t known exactly how to do it without crushing them, then maybe the Happy Train is your answer. Give it a shot! Take it for a ride. Maybe this is just the way to finally get through. And they might not be ready to join you. But you understand that they’ve been a robot in their negative patterns, and it might take some time. Like peeling layers of an onion. Just be gentle yet firm, stating very chill and matter-of-factly, “Hey, I’m on the Happy Train.” And always remind them that you still love them and are there for them: “And there will always be a seat for you, right next to mine.” You can remind them that there’s nothing wrong with them: “Hey, you’re free to ride whatever train you want. It’s your choice.” And you might even help them to feel more comfortable: “Hey, I haven’t always been on the Happy Train. I’m still figuring it out as best I can. It’s a lot nicer than the old way, though. Why not join me?” You might also feel called to acknowledge their pattern: “I know you’ve been on a different train for a long time. It’s not your fault. But it’s not etched in stone, either. You always have a choice. It just takes practice.” And then you can just kill them with kindness and enthusiasm (I know, what a terrible expression): “Come on, join me! Let’s ride! Do it!!”

And you’re smiling while you’re saying this. You’re not even taking seriously the negative version of them, that negative character they’ve been pretending to be for so long. Not even one bit. See if this can melt them a bit over time. Be gentle and yet firm. And happy. Over time, the dripping water wears down the rock, so you never know what kind of profound shifts a person might make at any time. Just be sure to be genuine. You are doing this for the good of all. The ego can easily turn it into a right-wrong thing, a way of putting someone else down. That’s not what we’re talking about, though. And you know that…

Also if you’re burning a bit while reading this, then maybe you’ve been super negative. Well, you know what? Who cares! IT’S NOT ETCHED IN STONE. IT’S JUST A PATTERN. Wow, what good news. And trust me, I ride on all kinds of different trains, and I’m practicing and growing just like you. This is a pretty simple distinction to make, though. At any point in time, are you on the Happy Train or not? And if not, just practice getting on it. Right then and there. So if you’ve been pretty negative, and deep down inside you’re tired of it, then you can say all of the above things to yourself. And make yourself a note if that’ll help, because remembering can be the hardest part. Just write Happy Train down and have it by your bed, in your car, etc. Breathe it in. Just gently practice, and every now and then take note of the results. Is your life different in any way? You got this! So here’s to a new year, 2016, and the Happy Train. And as always, let me know if I can help!

Super Late Christmas Guide 2015!

Posted Posted in Other Cool Topics

Hi folks. So, I totally forgot that I usually write something about the holidays, since so many folks have issues around them. And the stuff we talk about here really, really, really, really, really, really can help. Like, a lot. Because our feelings come from our perception of things and not directly from the things. And the holidays seem to be an extreme example of this, kind of like adding Miracle-Gro onto normal life. There’s also the whole issue of hanging out with family and old friends, and that can be very much tied to the past. Bringing the past back up. Again. Because they knew you way back then and might not have updated their version of you. But your power is still yours! It’s inside of you, and you have to give it to others for them to seem to have it. It’s just happened so automatically our whole lives that it seems like they just have it. And what power is this? The power to make me feel a certain way, like angry or sad or anxious or small or guilty. Wow, that’s quite a soup! Well, no thanks. I’d rather go without that and instead practice feeling as good as I can regardless of how they act or what they say. And over time, you never know what kind of transformation will take place within the context of your relationships. Because you are changing.

I have one super awesome friend that’s really seeing some old family dynamics very clearly now. It’s not a bed of roses yet, but she is well on the path. Old dynamics that have been in place for decades (if not lifetimes) are now being seen for the first time. WOW! That is HUGE. Many of us are outgrowing some old BS now, and seeing it is the first step. Then you can make a choice as to whether you’ll continue with the pattern or not. And if you decide it’s time for change (or evolution), there might be some uncomfortable conversations. But would you rather play painful games for a few more decades? Probably not…

I have a client that’s really seen the power of how she sees things this holiday season. It’s always been a tough time for her, because her husband died this time of year. She was his caregiver, and it was a very painful situation. So those are the lenses through which she has always viewed the holidays. Well, now she knows the rules of the game. So when she see Christmas lights, she can choose to just let them be lights. And she sees that they’re quite beautiful! Wow… She sees that her mind has been superimposing her unique past onto the lights before, and they have sucked. And she’s tired of it. So she relaxing into that feeling when it comes and asking her wisdom about the lights. And her wisdom looks at them with fresh eyes, without the past, and it says, “Wow, they are beautiful.” Bam! And it’s sometimes easier than other times, but she is staying out of the chatterbox as best she can. And her addiction to the chatterbox is getting weaker each time. Peeling layers of a big ass onion. But what else are you going to do?? Might as well do some peeling.

You might also check out the 2014 Guide to The Holidays. Or another post from 2014 called Holidays: Being with Bad Family. Or Christmas Redefined from 2013. Or Christmas from 2012. Or So… How Did You Do? from 2013, which grades us on how we did during Thanksgiving of that same year. The same ideas apply to Christmas, as well as anything else that’s a “measuring stick.” So you have plenty of support here, and there’s no failing. There’s just learning and then diving right back in again next time. That’s why it’s a measuring stick. I do this every year, so I might as well take a look at how I’m doing now that I’m owning my feelings and I know that I have a good source of high quality thinking built in.

All the best to you, good person. And you can take joy in the fact that I’m practicing the exact same things as you are! If you only knew… I’m sure it’ll all be written about here when the time is right. But I am practicing a better way of living just like you are. And screw it… what else are we going to do? We’re simply outgrowing our old ways that have served us for so long and are not serving us anymore. And we are supported. Ask and ye shall receive. What you get might not look exactly what you expected it to look like, though… I’ve got some of that going on in my own life right now! But trust me, Life knows what it’s doing. So much love to you, and I look forward to a big year in 2016. Change has been happening so fast within me, and there’s LOTS more on the books. I feel like I’m just getting started, but in a good way. And my purpose seems to be to pass it onto you as best I can. Things are accelerating, that’s for sure. So buckle up, and let’s do this! XOXO

Holidays: Being With Bad Family

Posted Posted in Client/Friend Stories, Other Cool Topics

Hi there! The title is a bit harsh – okay it’s very harsh – but I wanted to get the point across in a short space. Like a blog post title. Nobody is bad, of course. They are just who they are choosing to be. And most of that choosing is unconscious, of course, but it’s still a choice just the same. It’s not good or bad, though. Nobody is guilty. They are free to be just like you and me. Nice rhyme… I choose if I hang out with them, though. Except during the holidays! All good – just look at it as an awesome opportunity to see how you are doing with the idea that I’m responsible for how I feel and not anybody else. Take a deep breath and let that sink in for a moment. I’m responsible for how I feel. And not anybody else. Not. Anybody. Else. Does that feel good? Does that feel powerful? It’s certainly not how most of us were raised. So that’s what we’re going to test out in the coming week or two.

I’ve been hearing this sort of thing from friends and clients recently: “How can I spend this many days with my crazy dad or sister?” Or some variation. Here’s an idea to try. I think I’ve mentioned this before, and if not I will again in its own post. Because it’s so important. It’s called bookending your days. The idea is that I start each day with a clean slate. I’m not carrying BS from the day before, or the day before that, or ten years ago, etc. I’m consciously telling myself that I am clean and free and it’s a new day and I’m going to have as much fun as I can and I’m going to do my best. Period! And then before we go to bed, we consciously end our day. We quickly look over it and say something like, “That was my best (whether I think it was good or bad – it was my best at the time), and now it’s done. I let it go. I release it for now and I’ll start over tomorrow.” And then you allow yourself to just sleep a good night’s sleep. And then you wake up and start anew. “I am clean and free and it’s a new day and I’m going to have as much fun as I can and I’m going to do my best. Period!” Wash, rinse, repeat.

We carry so much stuff from our days into our night’s sleep and then we wake up with it. And this goes on for lifetimes! Let’s try this simple act of bookending our days and see what happens. Your Inner GPS, Inner Wisdom, knows what to tell yourself. It’s not the words that matter, anyway, but rather the idea behind them.

And of course during the day, practice what you’ve learned here and elsewhere. Breathe. Pause before you speak and let your Inner Wisdom do the talking (this lets you act rather re-act, which is a huge difference). Relax, even while your body is busy. Be aware that how you feel comes from how you see things, not the things themselves.  That’s most important, by the way. Don’t judge how you’re doing. And even if you look back over the day and say, “Man, I sucked! I did a terrible job!” then don’t beat yourself up – just try to do better next time. But without judgment. Stay as light as possible. And apologize if you need to. Just speak clearly and speak from the heart. Don’t be guilty. And have fun with it as much as possible, like it’s a game. The game of inner peace. The game of seeing if it’s really true that I’m responsible for how I feel despite what anybody else says or does. And let me know if I can help! You just have to practice. You got this… Happy Holidays!

Your 2014 Guide to the Holidays!

Posted Posted in Other Cool Topics

Alas, the holidays are upon us once again. And what an amazing measuring stick this time of year is! It’s such a valuable tool for us while we’re on the path to inner peace. Yes, real inner peace. That’s what we’re doing here, by the way… My experience over the holidays shows me how I am doing. Let any crazy-ass family members act however they want. I’m in charge of how I feel and I’m going to test it out once again this year, dammit! They can act however they want, and they are perfectly free to do that. I will not make them guilty. Generally, I get to choose if I hang out with them, though. And the thing about the holidays is that often it seems like we don’t get to choose. We have to be there. If you think about it, though, it’s not that often – once or twice a year for most people. So screw it – just jump in with both feet and see how you do! And own everything – don’t blame anyone else. And compare yourself without judgment (that’s HUGE, and you’ll get better at it with gentle practice) to last year. And the year before. And know that next year you’ll do the same. This can even make the whole thing kind of fun.

There’s usually real love underneath our dysfunctional family relationships that’s just really covered up. This isn’t always the case, of course, but usually it is. Most people are doing the best they can, and they might show their love in a way that doesn’t look so obvious. But that’s their best. When we start to see this, we tend to not react as much. And when we recognize that we aren’t reacting as much, that can feel very good. There’s lots of power there.

Another thing I want to emphasize that I mentioned above is that I am in charge of how I feel. Period. Nobody else is responsible for how I feel – I am. And when I realize more and more that this really is true, whoa – I’m on the inner peace superhighway. This has really been working for me lately. So for the rest of my life, I’m going to simply test this out. You work it just like any muscle or skill; it gets better with gentle and consistent practice. I’m guessing that this idea is going to become a more central part of my message, too. Hey – I’m just feeling my way through life, and this blog simply reflects that. It sure seems like there’s an inner GPS that’s getting stronger and stronger, though.

So the family version of this is that somebody “pushes my buttons,” perhaps by saying something about the past. Or perhaps by not changing and still acting like an a**hole. First of all, they’re your buttons. Only you can push them, and that is a FACT. And I know, it definitely seems like others have the power to push them. It all happens so fast. But we’re slowing the whole thing down, and taking a big breath when you notice your body contract is a huge first step. Back to the story… So I notice an emotional reaction or an inner freak-out, and I instantly relax and tell myself, “Oh hell no – I’m in charge of how I feel, and I’m choosing to feel as cool as possible now – even though that person said what they said or did what they did.” And then I respond to the situation without judgment. I just respond to the situation and move on.

Folks, please listen closely. When you start getting this down, it changes your life. Big time. I’m barely starting to get this, and it seems to be a major game changer already. Major. I’ve asked to speed things up, so I’m running towards any fear and contraction now, the second I notice it in my body. I’ll say, “Yes! What is going on there? Let’s see because this is my chance to release some stuff and raise the bar on what it takes to rattle me.” And that’s really fun!

Gradually, or not so gradually, you’ll notice that your buttons have become smaller and smaller, and then you’ll notice that some of them are gone for good. And if they come back, you’ll know what to do. And the holidays are a really, really awesome time to test this out. Even if you look back and say, “Man, I really sucked this year!” then no worries – just do it with lightness and humor as opposed to heaviness and judgment. Have the attitude that you’re going to learn what you need to learn and then throw the rest of the memory out like the trash that it is. And just tell yourself, “Well, bring it on next year – I’m going to jump right back on that horse and try again with an awesome attitude, because I choose how I feel!”

So I wish you all the very best this year and I say Happy Practicing. Test it out that you’re actually in charge of how you feel. You are and nobody else can possibly be in charge of how you feel. Happiness really is an inside job. Don’t make anybody else responsible for your peace and see what happens. There’s a good chance you’ll still fall prey to some of the same old land mines, and that’s ok. That’s totally fine! What we’re interested in is what you do and what you tell yourself the second you notice it. Starting with a deep, relaxing, awesome breath is the first step. Reread the few paragraphs above and just practice that. Write it down if you need to – I have little yellow sticky notes everywhere. Actually, right now I look like a hoarder of sticky notes, so it’s probably time to consolidate… And come in for a session if you feel that’ll help (or a webcam session if you’re out of town). And… Happy Holidays! You got this…

Thanksgiving Again…

Posted Posted in My Stories, Other Cool Topics

Howdy folks! I’m ba-ack, as they said in Poltergeist. I think that was the movie, anyway. Since we last “talked,” I’ve gotten licensed and am now on my own as a counselor. This is week #4 in my new office, which is really cool. I’m in a room in an old house in historic downtown Pensacola that’s informally known as “The Healing House.” It’s felt like home since the first day. So I haven’t totally been slacking…

This is just a brief Thanksgiving message, similar to what I’ve written about before about Thanksgiving, Christmas, and the holidays in general. Let’s all chill out and relax. Let your crazy family members be as they are. They probably aren’t going to change, and my whole point is that they don’t have to in order for you to be at peace. You might not want to hang out with them much, though, but that’s your call. Honestly, I’m lucky to have a family where everybody pretty much likes each other. I know plenty of people, though, where that’s not the case. So I know about it enough to say let’s all chill out. This is an annual measuring stick for seeing how you’re doing. Let’s take responsibility for our peace and see if it really takes two to argue. Let’s see if we can intentionally avoid some of the same arguments and patterns that have occurred for years. Years! And if the other person brings them up, can you be less reactive and more calm? Practice!

The people in your family (and friends) who are far from perfect are honestly doing their best, just like you are. I’m far from perfect and so are you. Look at things through their eyes, because there are reasons why they are as they are. It’s not random. Let’s let them be. Let’s at least try something different if we tend to get into the same bad conversations and painful interactions. Break the pattern! And if you do choose to say something, then use “I statements.” Don’t start pointing the finger at them, saying, “You shouldn’t do this or that.” Rather, say “I feel this way when you do this or that.” Big difference. And your tone is HUGE! You’ll notice they don’t immediately act defensively, like a caged animal under attack. You’ll get much better results. Say “we” as much as possible, too. It works. And take responsibility for your part. Be very clear about that.

So that’s my rant regarding family, which you might or might not hear again before the year is up. It really is important to keep these things in mind and see how peaceful it can be this year. What a convenient measuring stick, too. How am I doing? Am I less stressed out because I’m learning how to be less stressed out? Am I seeing that I’m in charge of whether or not it’s a good day or a bad day? Is my power shifting back to me, rather than “out there” in the world? If so, then it should take more to rattle me in terms of holiday stuff like busy schedules, traffic, traveling, money, and relatives. And when I don’t do so hot, I look at it and say, “Man, I totally sucked at being peaceful yesterday – I practically bit my uncle’s head off when he started talking about politics! But I’m going to try to do better today.” And I’m not too serious when I do that, either. That’s so important. I stay light and simply observe how I did and try to learn and grow. Then that argument serves a useful purpose and can even be viewed as a blessing.

So there we go, good folks. It’s always an honor and a pleasure talking to you while we’re on our respective journeys, which I’m pretty sure is ultimately the same journey. Cool things are coming up here, too. We’re going to talk some about the new science that’s coming out. It means we’re all connected. The scientists are very slowly catching up to the mystics who’ve known this for thousands of years. And you know by now that I’m only interested in how this knowledge helps me when things go south and I spill my smoothie all over my planner like I did yesterday morning. You can grab a sponge with a dirty mind or A Clean Mind. And now we’ll be deepening that more and more. It’s hard to take it so seriously when I start to really believe and feel that I’m an infinite being, literally connected to everything, right now at this very moment. Whoa… And that’s just what the scientists are discovering. This new science has pretty wild implications for our concept of time, too. As in it’s not like we think. The whole point is to open, open, open. It’s actually very good news. So we’ll be talking about that more and more. If you’re interested now, just get a book called The Field by Lynne McTaggart and start reading. It surveys the whole thing. So cool. In the meantime, happy Thanksgiving and happy everything else. And if you’re not happy at this moment, then do your best to own it and accept it and see if you can start where you are and slowly but surely move towards more peace. And as always, let me know if I can help.

Christmas

Posted Posted in Other Cool Topics, Spirituality/Religion

I’ve written about Thanksgiving and the holidays in general, as well as not waiting for life to slow down for you to slow down. Now we write about the culmination of the holidays for many people, Christmas. I know that New Year’s Eve is a week later, but that seems like it’s more about just having fun without so much to it.

I wrote in the post on Thanksgiving that I never really associated it with “giving thanks” until I was older, and I also said that I was in my early twenties before I equated Christmas with Jesus. As a kid, it was all about the presents. I grew up going to church most Sundays, but not on Christmas. Christmas to me was this magical day when we’d give and receive gifts. And as a kid, I’d receive a whole lot more than I’d give, so that was great.

As I’ve grown older, I’ve become fairly disgusted with the commercialization of Christmas, as many of us have. Don’t worry, though – I won’t go on a huge rant or anything. It’s pretty ridiculous, though. There’s the whole “comparison of toys” thing, too, that kids will naturally and innocently do. I feel bad for the families without much extra money, because I know that so many parents work so hard to make their kids feel good. And lots of people are experiencing tough financial times these days. I really wish we’d just scrap the whole Christmas thing and start over from scratch. That was a small rant, I guess…

Now that we’ve gotten that out of the way, let’s just simplify the whole thing. An easy, healthy way of looking at Christmas is that it’s simply a time each year for people to relax, be nice to each other, and appreciate each other. That’s all. No big deal. Lots of us learn as children to make a big deal about the story of Jesus’ birth with the manger, the wisemen, the star, etc. These are details, not the essence. Details are literally nothing – they don’t matter. The essence is what matters. And a nice essence is as I said above – a time to relax, be nice to each other, and appreciate each other. Done.

Okay, I guess we should go ahead and address those details mentioned above, since we’re on the subject… I wasn’t around 2000 years ago, but I’m pretty sure that those details are a story and not at all what really happened. Just do some research for yourself. It’s a common story, though, that’s been passed down for way longer than 2000 years, way before the time of Jesus. It’s not unique at all. That’s what the evidence seems to say, anyway. Here’s my whole point, though – that literally doesn’t matter! If you take offense at this, then take a look at why. I’ll bet you’re believing some things that aren’t true. Those are outer details, and Jesus is all about the inner. Inner, inner, inner. We often put our focus in the wrong place here. We’ve learned to do that, and now we can unlearn it. I think one of Jesus’ main points was that the truth of who you are as a spiritual being (and not a temporary body) is inside of you. It’s available to you 24/7/365. Or 366 on a leap year, but who’s counting… This is some serious essence, and who cares what day he was born? Let’s laugh out loud if we ever thought that was important or thought that we had to defend it!

So that’s my take on Christmas and Jesus. Actually, I’m feeling a more detailed Jesus post in the future, but we’ll see. If this helps you relax some, that’s great. And if you hate me now, then that’s fine, too. Oh – one more thing while we’re on the subject. I have brothers, and we all decided to stop giving each other gifts years ago. Best thing we ever did! If you like the gift thing, then go with it – there’s absolutely nothing inherently wrong with it. But if you don’t like it or if money is tight, then just be honest with the people in your life about that – it’s totally fine. They might even feel the same way.

Okay, I think we’re done now. So having said all that… Merry Christmas!

Thanksgiving

Posted Posted in Other Cool Topics

I think it was literally within the last couple of years that I made the connection between Thanksgiving and giving thanks. Since I was born, I had always done the same thing on Thanksgiving – go to my aunt and uncle’s house with lots of family and eat a big turkey meal in the early afternoon. I guess I’m slow sometimes with obvious things. When Christmas gets closer, I’ll tell you about how I literally didn’t associate Christmas with Jesus until I was like 21 or so. Seriously. It was about opening presents. Anyway, I thought a few words about giving thanks might be in order, because sometimes we don’t feel very thankful. And that’s okay.

Being thankful can have a powerful effect on humans. I’ve written before about stress levels and brain states and the book Wired For Joy (read It’s Just a Brain State!). The author, Dr. Laurel Mellin, gives specific tools for moving from stressed brain states to more relaxed ones. She developed these tools after doing years and years of some serious scientific research, and guess what? Writing down or saying what we’re thankful for or grateful for is a prominent part of at least one of those tools. So there’s something to it.

The trick is that sometimes we’re in a pissy mood and just don’t feel very thankful. And sometimes, we feel like our life is not going very well and we really don’t feel thankful at all. In these cases, it might be helpful to stop what you’re doing, accept that feeling of being unthankful and let it be there but without holding it, and then go a bit deeper in terms of what you might be thankful for. Lower your standards a bit, because for one, it could always be worse. Some people might question that, but it’s true if you really look. We just aren’t qualified to judge our lives since we don’t see the whole picture. We see a narrow part, so we have to put off that impulse to judge good or bad, success or failure, etc.

I’ve found that when I’ve felt not very thankful and I’ve stopped and released that, and then just sat for a minute or two, more thankful thoughts and feelings have emerged. I think they’re always there, but they get covered up.

Anyway, that’s my two cents on Thanksgiving. I know that plenty of people are very thankful for their lives and plenty of others aren’t. If you aren’t, you might be able to go a little bit deeper and end up feeling more at peace with it.

The Holidays

Posted Posted in Other Cool Topics

Welcome to another round of the holidays, folks! I recently had a client come for a pre-Thanksgiving tune up, and I have more who will be coming in for the post-Thanksgiving decompression. And Christmas will be the same. One client was scheduling her next appointment for the week after Thanksgiving, and I asked her if she was sure she wanted to come back so soon (I try to work myself out of a job). She said something like, “Hell no – I definitely have to come back after being with my family!” I laughed.

So what is it about the holidays that’s so stressful? Aren’t they supposed to be fun? Of course they are plenty fun, but there’s some normal, built-in stress as well. This is because there’s travel, crowds, lines, traffic, extra expenses, busy schedules, and… family! Since readers of A Clean Mind are EXPERTS on stress, though, we should be perfectly fine – as long we stay on it, of course. Nip it in the bud the second you notice it and then go on about your day. Repeat as needed. When you feel like you really are learning how to let stress flow through you and not build up so much (it’s really not that hard when you practice), then the holidays become an excellent annual measuring stick for how you’re doing. I think that way of looking at it, and the rest of life for that matter, puts a nice spin on things so that we’re not resisting. Good stuff.

Finally, let’s talk about family for a second. This is mostly for people who dread hanging out with their families during the holidays. If this is you, then first know that there’s nothing wrong with that – it’s just how it is now. So let’s totally accept it without judging it as being good or bad. Again, it’s just how it is now. If you dread hanging out with your family during the holidays, then let’s clear some of that out. Close your eyes for a moment and go there. Think about your family for just for a second and then feel that dread or stress that arises in your body. And let it be there. And let it go. And breathe. Good work. Back to family…

Some people tend try to sway or change some members of their family and they end up in the same bad conversations over and over. And nobody changes. And they’ve been doing this for years. I’d consider just letting it go this year and seeing how that works for you. Be on the lookout for political rants and arguments, too – just a heads up.

On the flip side, some people tend to not let their family members change, holding them to some outdated past version of themselves. And some people use the whole “unconditional love” thing to justify their own patterns and habits that aren’t so great. Some feel like they can act like a total ass… because it’s my family! They have to love me! Most people don’t act like a total ass, but it might be more subtle. If you take a look at yourself to see if this rings true at all, then that’s great. Just do it totally non-judgmentally. Very relaxed. It’s just a pattern, so laugh at it. No big deal. This weakens it so you can actually do something about it.

Family is one of the best measuring sticks out there for your growth. So if it might help, then make a plan before you hang out with them. Something like “no political conversations with Uncle Ralph” or something more serious – it works the same. Then do your best to implement the plan. When all is said and done, compare your experience to years past and ask yourself if you had more peace this year. What worked and what didn’t? It’s pretty cool when you look at it in this way, and you might even end up being pretty pleased with your progress over time. This allows you to be in charge of your happiness rather than being a helpless victim who has to hang out with these crazy people. That’s not a fun place to be. Having said that, I realize there’s some truth in those words for many people, so definitely remember what you can control and what you can’t and go from there. Happy Holidays!