Archive for May, 2009

FINDING THE SMILE INSIDE

Thursday, May 28th, 2009

I’ve been reading Spencer Johnson’s new book Peaks and Valleys. Usually we think in terms of the highs and lows in our life or the ups and downs. It’s our emotional responses to how we react to life’s events that determine our moods. Sometimes I feel like a yoyo, my emotions being yanked all over the place. In the same day I can feel just about every emotion possible. On those days, even I when feel the dark feelings of despair, I also experience a deep sense of love and joy.

And then there are those days when I feel good inside. No matter what happens in my life, I have a smile inside. It’s that feeling of inner peace that no matter what is happening in my life, the light keeps shining.

We know that the circumstances of our life, like the weather, constantly changes. If our mood changes every time there is something new or different, our emotions will run our life.

So what can you do, that will support you in finding that sense of inner peace. As you know, quite often I have encouraged you to meditate. It’s been my path for many years. There’s one more practice you can incorporate into your life. And that is to practice Gratitude. Gratitude shifts your focus from what’s wrong or lacking in your life to what brings you joy. This practice just takes a few seconds and it doesn’t have to be complicated. Think about the little things. Think about some the qualities you like about yourself. After you meditate, focus on what you are thankful for. You might want to take some time to think about that right now.

JOURNEY ON

MARK

Throughout his life, Mark has always made a practice of taking a leap of faith whenever he heard the call for something more. His life has been an unfolding journey of discovery. A former trial attorney for 30 years and musician, he integrates what it takes to be successful in the world with the inner wisdom unfolded to him through years of yoga and meditation. Whether coaching one-on-one, speaking to groups, or leading a retreat, he shares his message that regardless of our life’s circumstances, we can find more joy and meaning in our life. He is a sought after speaker and coauthor along with Zig Ziglar and Brian Tracy and other experts in the book 101 Great Ways to Improve your Life. Mark’s new book, Dancing on the River…Finding Joy and Meaning in the Midst of Change. mark@inspirepossibility.com 415.453.5016

Do you Sometimes feel Overwhelmed?

Monday, May 25th, 2009

In a life coaching session the other day I was working with let’s call him Les. You know him. He is the collective consciousness for most all of us. His concerns are our concerns. Les is obsessed about an unknown future. We all know that life is unpredictable. Now his story and the details of it might be different than yours, but the essence of it is the same. Les’s business is struggling because of the economy. It’s not directly affecting him but it’s his concern that down the road it will. So he thinks about what might happen in the future, rather than what’s happening in the moment. In fact he more than thinks about it, he obsesses.

I’ve seen this pattern repeat itself with many of my clients. The constant decision making, and the concerns about the future, rob them of the joy of the present moment.

I reminded Les to focus on his self care. And if you have been following me for a while, you know that for me it’s meditation. It’s creating that time in your day, when you experience those moments of peace. And after a while you begin to experience it throughout most of the day.

Make it a priority. It is your life. And how you experience your life is a reflection of your inner state.

JOURNEY ON

MARK

Throughout his life, Mark has always made a practice of taking a leap of faith whenever he heard the call for something more. His life has been an unfolding journey of discovery. A former trial attorney for 30 years and musician, he integrates what it takes to be successful in the world with the inner wisdom unfolded to him through years of yoga and meditation. Whether coaching one-on-one, speaking to groups, or leading a retreat, he shares his message that regardless of our life’s circumstances, we can find more joy and meaning in our life. He is a sought after speaker and coauthor along with Zig Ziglar and Brian Tracy and other experts in the book 101 Great Ways to Improve your Life. Mark’s new book, Dancing on the River…Finding Joy and Meaning in the Midst of Change. mark@inspirepossibility.com 415.453.5016

FIND THE THRUTH THAT SETS YOU FREE

Thursday, May 21st, 2009

I remember a story about a Swiss shepherd boy who is kidnapped by a roving band of gypsies. All he remembers is the sound of the church bells as he is wisked away. His whole life is a search for that sound that rings true.

Quite often he follows the ring that he hears only to find that it is a false sound. As he fine tunes his listening, he is better able to discern whether the sound he hears is a true sound. After he knows when he first hears it whether it’s worth pursuing.

And then one day, he hears the sound that he follows. As he continues on his journey, he knows that the sound rings true and he finds his way home.

You too can can find the truth that sets you free. Be honest with yourself. Know what your truth is. Know what your purpose is. Make sure that the sound rings true.

JOURNEY ON

MARK

Throughout his life, Mark has always made a practice of taking a leap of faith whenever he heard the call for something more. His life has been an unfolding journey of discovery. A former trial attorney for 30 years and musician, he integrates what it takes to be successful in the world with the inner wisdom unfolded to him through years of yoga and meditation. Whether coaching one-on-one, speaking to groups, or leading a retreat, he shares his message that regardless of our life’s circumstances, we can find more joy and meaning in our life. He is a sought after speaker and coauthor along with Zig Ziglar and Brian Tracy and other experts in the book 101 Great Ways to Improve your Life. Mark’s new book, Dancing on the River…Finding Joy and Meaning in the Midst of Change. mark@inspirepossibility.com 415.453.5016

DISCIPLINE LEADS TO FREEDOM

Monday, May 18th, 2009

Discipline has come easy to me. I have found that discipline has actually given me a sense of freedom. I am sure you have been in the presence of musicians who seem like they have been playing together. I have had that experience observing other musicians as well as playing with them. Quite often, someone might say to me, “How long have you been playing together?” Actually it was the first time. Why were we able to create that magic? It was the discipline practicing the scales for hours that gave us the freedom when we played our instruments. It was also working on our sound. Dancers have the same experience. All of the hours of not just learning the routines and sequences, but the hours of preparing the body to be open and flexible so that in a performance there is a grace and elegance.

And preparing for a presentation is the same way. Preparation and becoming familiar with the material goes a long way toward giving you a freedom in your delivery. The better you know the material, the more you can get into the presentation and have a certain fluidity in your delivery.

Although many people think of discipline as a form of repetition and confining, that’s what gives you that sense of freedom. Yet some people still have resistance to the concept of discipline. I have many good friends who are like that.

This is where you might want to think in terms of impeccability. Impeccability is a consciousness which not only encompasses discipline but much more. It’s a statement about who you are. It’s a state that you can grow into.

Imagine giving your word to yourself to exercise, to eat well or practice your art form. Keeping your word to yourself is powerful and takes a high level of commitment and will. But still we let down and justify it by thinking that we are not perfect and it’s ok to cut ourselves a little slack. Nothing wrong with that approach.

But imagine if you think in terms of impeccability when you don’t keep your word to yourself. Would you feel different? Would you stay on purpose? You know you would. For a moment think about how you can make that shift in your life. And how would it make a difference in your life?

JOURNEY ON

MARK

Throughout his life, Mark has always made a practice of taking a leap of faith whenever he heard the call for something more. His life has been an unfolding journey of discovery. A former trial attorney for 30 years and musician, he integrates what it takes to be successful in the world with the inner wisdom unfolded to him through years of yoga and meditation. Whether coaching one-on-one, speaking to groups, or leading a retreat, he shares his message that regardless of our life’s circumstances, we can find more joy and meaning in our life. He is a sought after speaker and coauthor along with Zig Ziglar and Brian Tracy and other experts in the book 101 Great Ways to Improve your Life. Mark’s new book, Dancing on the River…Finding Joy and Meaning in the Midst of Change. mark@inspirepossibility.com 415.453.5016

ON THE OTHER SIDE OF DISCIPLINE

Saturday, May 16th, 2009

In the last blog we talked about developing a self-care program. I also asked you to think about what it means to be impeccable.

Lets start with being disciplined, which in my mind, is the key to beginning a self-care program. Developing discipline is a necessary step on the road to impeccability. Many years ago, while in law school, I attended a lecture given by a nurse on the benefits of fasting. I was inspired. For over thirty years I have cleansed at least twice a year for at least 5-8 days at a stretch. It’s been quite an experience and I always look forward to it. I always feel better for the experience.

But to make it happen requires a great deal of self-discipline. It’s saying no to your habits. It’s saying no to what you unconsciously put into your body. It’s becoming more conscious. It’s allowing yourself to experience life in a new way. Over time, it’s no longer a matter of discipline, but a matter of choice.

You feel so good that you don’t want to go backwards. You keep going. And that’s the way it has been for me with meditation. With regular practice, I feel much better than when I don’t meditate. It becomes a way of life. I couldn’t imagine my life without it. All of self-care is that way. First make a conscious choice as to what you want to integrate into your life. And commit for 30 days. Then reevaluate. See what happens. It looks like I didn’t get to impeccability. Oh well. I’ll do it in the next blog.

JOURNEY ON

MARK

Throughout his life, Mark has always made a practice of taking a leap of faith whenever he heard the call for something more. His life has been an unfolding journey of discovery. A former trial attorney for 30 years and musician, he integrates what it takes to be successful in the world with the inner wisdom unfolded to him through years of yoga and meditation. Whether coaching one-on-one, speaking to groups, or leading a retreat, he shares his message that regardless of our life’s circumstances, we can find more joy and meaning in our life. He is a sought after speaker and coauthor along with Zig Ziglar and Brian Tracy and other experts in the book 101 Great Ways to Improve your Life. Mark’s new book, Dancing on the River…Finding Joy and Meaning in the Midst of Change. mark@inspirepossibility.com 415.453.5016

Do you have a self-care program?

Thursday, May 14th, 2009

Yesterday in a life coaching session with lets call him Les, we had a discussion about the high level of stress that Les was feeling. Les is a high profile attorney. He’s very successful and is driven by what he has to do to make sure that it stays that way and to support his family in the way that he wants. Of course there are office problems that contribute to his predicament.

There is a certain frustration and hopelessness in his life. It’s like he is on a treadmill and he doesn’t see how he can get off. To add to his challenge he has two teenagers that are acting out and he has no way of controlling them. Les, like most of us, has a need to feel like he is in control of his life.

I told Les that most likely, twenty years from now, he will have many of the same concerns, unless he implements some changes in perspective now. Sure the kids will be out of the house. But he’ll still have career concerns whether or not he is in the same career.

Les needs to focus on his self-care and give it the same type of commitment that he gives to his career. Although Les intellectually realizes the importance of a self-care program, implementing it is the challenge. It’s a challenge for many of my life coaching clients. Les has to make the commitment to his self care as if it was a commitment to a client. And it’s more important.

Self-care has to become an integral aspect of your life. Meditation is at the heart of such a program. I know; I was a busy trial lawyer racing from one courtroom to the next until I got into meditation. Even though I was just as busy, I wasn’t stressed. I learned that I could be busy and relaxed.

In the next blog we’ll explore what else you can do to develop a self-care program. Think about what it means to become impeccable.

JOURNEY ON

MARK

Throughout his life, Mark has always made a practice of taking a leap of faith whenever he heard the call for something more. His life has been an unfolding journey of discovery. A former trial attorney for 30 years and musician, he integrates what it takes to be successful in the world with the inner wisdom unfolded to him through years of yoga and meditation. Whether coaching one-on-one, speaking to groups, or leading a retreat, he shares his message that regardless of our life’s circumstances, we can find more joy and meaning in our life. He is a sought after speaker and coauthor along with Zig Ziglar and Brian Tracy and other experts in the book 101 Great Ways to Improve your Life. Mark’s new book, Dancing on the River…Finding Joy and Meaning in the Midst of Change. mark@inspirepossibility.com 415.453.5016

Navigating Life’s Changes

Wednesday, May 13th, 2009

We all have a unique way of communicating our story, a way that reflects our life experiences. The photographer uses a camera, the artist a brush, and the musician a melody or rhythm. As the years go by there is more to tell as we experience more of life. As we keep evolving we look through a different filter, paint with a different color, sing a different song or feel a different rhythm.
When you have children, June is the time for graduations. It was six years ago that my son, Josh, graduated from high school and then a few years later my daughter, Makaela, graduated. This year it is my youngest, Savanna’s turn. Graduations are symbolic of the transitions in life. In some ways we are always transitioning from one phase to another, each with its challenges and opportunities.
I think back as I eagerly await the graduation ritual. There’s always a field in the midst of a picturesque setting with mountains in the background. And then it begins. I look toward the stage. I listen with one ear to what the various speakers have to say while my mind races in overdrive. I think about how rapidly my children have changed and how I have had to let go of some of my expectations in order to stay connected to them. There’s more work to do. It was at Josh’s graduation that this message hit home. During the principle’s talk to the students and their families, she made reference to Spencer Johnson’s classic parable about change, “Who Moved My Cheese.”
It is a paradox of life that while our children change rapidly, we as adults try to put the brakes on the speed of change. We like to think to some degree we are in control of our life by holding on to what we’re used too.

“No,” Hem quickly responded. “I like it here. It’s comfortable. It’s what I know. Besides it’s dangerous out there.”
Johnson, Spencer “Who Moved My Cheese?”

Just like Hem, we have artfully crafted a comfort zone, although familiar, keeps us boxed in. That’s the way it was for me. During many periods of my life, I became attached to the way things were, resisting the changes that were necessary for me to grow. It could be a career or a relationship. I finally took that Leap of Faith and left the comfort of my law practice, ten years ago, to begin the journey that I am on now.
By making this change, I have created the breathing room that has allowed me to grow into the person I am today. Although this path has been unpredictable at times, I have learned how to navigate life’s changes. In the process of becoming an expanded person, we develop a deeper sense of who were are and a deeper sense of self. Some of these changes we intentionally create, such as my career change, while others just happen. Change is a constant process. What is challenging for some of us to accept, is that as our bodies change (just take a look at some of your old pictures) your physiology and chemistry also changes. By the time you’ve reached the wisdom years, you’ve been through many cycles. Even though these changes were not necessarily what you were expecting you have learned how to navigate these deeper waters. Although I’ve felt my share of fear and pain during some of these transitions, I’ve learned how to let go and trust that I will land on my feet. And I usually do. The letting go offers me a new experience of life…in which I experience all it, the pains, the sorrows, and the joys that gives me a newfound vitality and excitement. A life in which everyday is new, although not necessarily fun. I know I’m alive and have a deeper sense of myself. I smile and laugh again.
Perhaps Anais Nin says it best. “Life is a process of becoming, a combination of states we have to go through. Where people fail is that they wish to elect a state and remain in it.”
I recognize that there is a natural rhythm of life, much like the rhythm of the seasons that is constantly changing. At times we experience a stillness and at other times a quickening. There are moments when your heart feels full and then at other times you feel contracted. And then there are those moments when for no reason at all, you experience a deep sense of joy and fulfillment. Of course the other side of that is also true, when for no apparent reason, you feel a profound sadness.
When you flow with this natural rhythm and encompass it all, rather than trying to resist the aspects that you don’t want to experience, you experience an effortless quality in your life. You instinctively know what to do and life just seems to work. Life is easy…more fun…more meaningful…and less of a struggle. You are excited about getting up in the morning and feel like you have a purpose.
You probably want to know what you can do, so that you can flow with this natural rhythm. Honor the transitions. They are the catalyst for you to be with yourself Be grateful for them. Know that when you are feeling pain, that like the wind, even though it still hurts, it won’t last forever. When the winds change, and they always do, the clouds of despair lift and you experience a deeper sense of joy and meaning in the midst of this change. It could happen in a heartbeat.
Look forward to this change as opportunity, as adventure, as possibility. Accept and love those feelings and qualities about yourself that you so often try to avoid. As you look inward and take time for reflection through meditation and prayer you experience a deeper sense of inner peace. As you become more accepting of the fully integrated you, you become more accepting of your humanity. It is the acceptance of your humanity that you know we are all connected.
Let me know what is changing in your life. I love receiving your many responses and feedback. Thank you and keep them coming. Feel free to pass this letter on to the friends in your circle and let them know about the advantages of being on the journey.

Journey On

Mark

Throughout his life, Mark has always made a practice of taking a leap of faith whenever he heard the call for something more. His life has been an unfolding journey of discovery. A former trial attorney for 30 years and musician, he integrates what it takes to be successful in the world with the inner wisdom unfolded to him through years of yoga and meditation. Whether coaching one-on-one, speaking to groups, or leading a retreat, he shares his message that regardless of our life’s circumstances, we can find more joy and meaning in our life. He is a sought after speaker and coauthor along with Zig Ziglar and Brian Tracy and other experts in the book 101 Great Ways to Improve your Life. Mark’s new book, Dancing on the River…Finding Joy and Meaning in the Midst of Change. mark@inspirepossibility.com 415.453.5016

What can you do to become a better communicator?

Thursday, May 7th, 2009

Have you heard the expression “if you don’t use it you lose it”..I have felt that on many occasions especially when I haven’t been doing one of my practices. It’s that feeling when you exercise for the first time in a month. You know you need to do it but it’s not fun. That’s the way learning new things is. At first it’s awkward and difficult. But gradually it starts to feel better. You’re glad you’re having a new conversation. Relationships are much the same way. There is always room for a new conversation and an opportunity to learn something new about yourself.

How satisfied are you with the quality of your relationships? What can you do to make them better? When’s the last time you have made a new friend? Real communication is an art form that is alway expanding and always full of new possibilities.

Here is a focus for the next week. Think about a person with whom you would want to transform the quality of your communication. What would have to shift? What would you have to do to make it happen? What’s in the way of you doing what you have to do? And yes it usually starts with you. You have to make the first step. Be willing to put yourself out there. Perhaps make that phone call you have been putting off. Or send an email you have been delaying.

JOURNEY ON

MARK

Throughout his life, Mark has always made a practice of taking a leap of faith whenever he heard the call for something more. His life has been an unfolding journey of discovery. A former trial attorney for 30 years and musician, he integrates what it takes to be successful in the world with the inner wisdom unfolded to him through years of yoga and meditation. Whether coaching one-on-one, speaking to groups, or leading a retreat, he shares his message that regardless of our life’s circumstances, we can find more joy and meaning in our life. He is a sought after speaker and coauthor along with Zig Ziglar and Brian Tracy and other experts in the book 101 Great Ways to Improve your Life. Mark’s new book, Dancing on the River…Finding Joy and Meaning in the Midst of Change. mark@inspirepossibility.com 415.453.5016

YOU HAVE A CHOICE AS TO HOW YOU THINK

Tuesday, May 5th, 2009

The greater macro consciousness is going to effect all of us to some degree. i sense that there is more optimism out there than just a few months ago. People are feeling that the worst is over. But in the process of change on more of a global level, we lose sight of what gives us happiness. Happiness is a choice that one makes over and over again. And making that choice is an expression of personal freedom.

I have often thought about the nature of personal freedom. Although there are many definitions and explanations of what personal freedom means what resonates the loudest is that personal freedom is freedom from negative thinking. It’s a worthy challenge that we all have been working on to varying degrees of success. If you are questioning how you are doing, ask yourself how much you worry.

Intellectually we know that we have a choice as to how we see our lives. We know that it’s not the event or circumstance that causes us pain but the meaning we give that event. And as I said all of us are affected to some degree by events and circumstances unless we are isolated in some cave and shut off from the world. The good news is that by cultivating a shift in consciousness we can transform how we feel and think about life.

Let me share with you what I mean. Since we can’t determine what is in the news, our only choice is to change our perspective as to how we view these events. With all of the news about banks failing or about to fail, let me introduce you to a different type of bank-it’s an inner bank that I call the B.A.N.K of Well-Being. It’s our internal barometer as to how we are feeling about “life.” When our account has a nice surplus we are optimistic and believe that we can handle most challenges. Our job is to be mindful of how easily our account can fluctuate.

Your account easily gets drained when there is a run of negative news and you focus on what might go wrong. No matter what’s going on in your life, there is always going to be something that can negatively affect you. Just think about how easily you get plugged in when you read the paper or watch the news. Yet wanting to tune into the news, whether it’s the paper, TV or the Internet, can become an addiction.

There are many situations that have the potential to drain your account. It might be a toxic relationship or work situation. No matter what you do, the stresses of everyday living have the potential to drain your account. No matter how careful and strategic you are, you can’t be perfect. Trying to be perfect further drains your account. When stress drains you, you don’t have the energy or fortitude to handle the normal circumstances of your life. You overreact and aren’t able to see the big picture. In essence your personal, spiritual and emotional accounts have gotten drained.

You need to replenish your account by depositing good energy in the form of positive thoughts, healthy food, exercise, a spiritual discipline, inspiration, and supportive friends. Meditation and communing in nature have always had a healing affect on my being. My attitude about life dramatically changed once I began meditating many years ago. Everyday in some way I am making a deposit. I know that you have your own way of replenishing your account.
The BANK (Beyond Negative Thinking) of Well Being is a reminder to me that I have a choice. It’s a choice about being conscious that I make over and over again.

Becoming conscious is not only a choice about how you want to live your life, but it’s also a choice about being that person who actually lives that life. It’s a choice about which voice you choose to listen to; the voice of judgment sometimes referred as your “gremlin” or the voice of inspiration, which becomes your “guiding light.”

To help you make a quantum shift from becoming that person to being that person, think about what you can do to replenish your account? Imagine being that person whose account is brimming over.

We all have many good intentions that never get acted upon. They remain in our mind as another good idea. There is no better time than now to change that. What is one action that you are willing to take now? Who is going to hold you accountable to take that action?

JOURNEY ON

MARK

Throughout his life, Mark has always made a practice of taking a leap of faith whenever he heard the call for something more. His life has been an unfolding journey of discovery. A former trial attorney for 30 years and musician, he integrates what it takes to be successful in the world with the inner wisdom unfolded to him through years of yoga and meditation. Whether coaching one-on-one, speaking to groups, or leading a retreat, he shares his message that regardless of our life’s circumstances, we can find more joy and meaning in our life. He is a sought after speaker and coauthor along with Zig Ziglar and Brian Tracy and other experts in the book 101 Great Ways to Improve your Life. Mark’s new book, Dancing on the River…Finding Joy and Meaning in the Midst of Change. mark@inspirepossibility.com 415.453.5016

Do you know your ultimate destiny?

Sunday, May 3rd, 2009

Almost everything that I have done in my life has been a stepping stone for something greater down the road, even thought I didn’t know it at the time. Perhaps you wonder if you embarked upon a wrong path. You might even think that you are wasting your time. What does that really mean? As I have said we learn from everything.

Perhaps when comparing the past to what we know now, we might think that we could have avoided some of the steps we took and some of the wrong turns. It might have been a bad relationship or a mistake in trusting a friend. It might have been selecting the wrong major in college or a dead-end job.

There have been times in my life when I have been most productive, and times when nothing seemed to get done. Both were necessary for my growth and evolution.

I don’t think we can waste time, even though I spent a year and a half in graduated school that I can’t figure out what it contributed to my life. But when I think back I realize that it kept me out of the draft. We have know way of knowing what our ultimate destiny is. Just about everything that I have done or experienced when looking back at it comes together like an invisible web. But it’s only in looking back with hindsight that the web begins to become visible.

Trust that it’s all unfolding as it should. Everyone you meet and every experience you have is all grist for the mill. You learn from it and it contributes to who you are today – even the so-called negative things.

We keep repeating the lessons of the past until we learn them and then we are ready to move on. It took many relationships to become clear as to what I wanted in a soul-mate. With each one, I learned more about myself. That’s the purpose of our life’s experiences. With each one, we learn more about ourselves and what is important to us.

It’s a lifelong journey of discovery. Enjoy the journey. Happiness is a choice that you make each moment. And remember to smile and laugh a little bit more than yesterday.

JOURNEY ON,
MARK

JOURNEY ON is a blog dedicated to personal and professional development. Mark Susnow, JD, is an Executive and Life Coach who inspires others to believe in themselves. A former successful trial attorney for 30 years as well as a musician, he integrates what it takes to be successful in the world with the inner wisdom unfolded to him through years of yoga and meditation. He also publishes Letters on Life, an inspirational ezine. To sign up, visit his website, http://www.inspirepossibility.com


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