Archive for June, 2010

YES YOU CAN

Friday, June 25th, 2010

In a life coaching session yesterday, my client, let’s call him Carl, asked me, “You mean I can be happy even though I have these money problems?” Another client, asked me the following: “You mean I can be happy even though I have these relationship problems?”

My response to Carl was the following. You can be happy and still have money problems. And I told the other client that he could be happy and still have his relationship problems.

Problems come and go. If we make our happiness or fulfillment dependent on the cycles of our lives, our emotions will go up and down like a yo-yo.

Rather than making our feelings of satisfaction and fulfillment contingent on getting rid of circumstances that bother us, make a decision to be happy in the moment. Yes you have to make this decision over and over again. It will take a conscious effort.

Dancing on the River, is a consciousness that is a reflection of a life decision to be happy in the moment that you make over and over again. Yes—you can be happy and your relationship has things that need to be worked out. Yes you can be happy and still have money concerns.

It’s not about being perfect but being human. We’re emotional beings. We’re irrational at times. We do the best we can under the circumstances.

There’s nothing you need to do. Most of us want to be happy. There’s nothing out there that will make you feel that way. It’s easier than you think. Try it. It starts with being grateful for your life.

JOURNEY ON

MARK

Mark Susnow, is an executive and life coach, who inspires others to believe in themselves. A former trial attorney for 30 years, 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 is the author of, Dancing on the River…Navigating Life’s Changes.

EMBRACE ALL OF LIFE

Monday, June 21st, 2010

I recently was invited to give a talk to a group about my new book and what it means to be Dancing on the River of your life. If you have been reading this blog, you know that it is a consciousness that is a reflection of a life decision to be happy in the moment that you make to be happy over and over again.

In the Q and A afterwards, many pointed out that this was a challenge for them because there was too much pain in their lives. They had been traumatized by events that they have never gotten over. And so often in their everyday living they saw too much suffering in the world.

That is the challenge that we all face. We all have been traumatized by life to various degrees and some of us are more sensitive to these events than others. Our physiology and nervous systems are unique, some more fragile than others.

So how do we find joy in the midst of a somewhat chaotic and sometimes unfair world? That is the challenge we all face. How can we see the light when we are surrounded by darkness. How can we experience joy when there is so much suffering?

In this blog, I want to give you a starting point and I’m not saying to forget the traumatic events of the past. We don’t ever get over them. But we can learn to accept and make peace with them. Many years ago I was privileged to meet a spiritual teacher from India who had taken a vow of silence for 39 years. When asked if he had learned how to be totally present with life, he answered, “NO.” Most of us present in that room were surprised. But he did say that he had learned to make peace with it.

That’s all we can do–make peace and accept all of life. We grieve for the pain in our lives and in the world, but at some point we have to go on with our lives. And what I mean by going on with our lives, is to allow ourselves to experience the joy and blessings that are so abundant when we allow ourselves to remain open to these experiences.

Often it is said that pain builds character. That is true and it also expands our capacity to experience joy. Joy and sorrow come from the same well. As we experience more, our hearts open and we embrace all of life.

JOURNEY ON

MARK

Mark Susnow, is an executive and life coach, who inspires others to believe in themselves. A former trial attorney for 30 years, 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 is the author of, Dancing on the River…Navigating Life’s Changes.

Make your life one of adventure, rather than one of struggle

Friday, June 18th, 2010

In the last blog we discussed one of the biggest challenges that we face which is having a difficult conversation. Rather than having it, we avoid it until it becomes unbearable. Resentment builds up and we carry that resentment around with us. It’s like going through life with twenty pound weights tied around our feet.

Another big challenge that we face, at least those who I work with as their life coach, is the erroneous belief that when what is bothering us goes away, there will be smooth sailing.

You know that one. “Only if” this person wasn’t in my life, my life would be better. You could be in a bad relationship, or you could have an ongoing conflict with someone in the work place. You leave or they leave and you feel better for a little while until the next problem occurs.

The “only if syndrome” shows up in many different forms. I’m sure you know them, especially this one. If business picks up, the pressure will be off. It usually is for awhile and then you have new concerns. You have to fulfill the requirements of the increased business and then you worry about next year or the next slump. I can guarantee you one thing. If you tend to worry, there will always be something to worry about. As I have written in Dancing on the River, happiness is a reflection of a life decision that you make to be happy in the moment over and over again. Once you make this decision, your life will become one of adventure rather than one of struggle.

Be grateful for all of the blessings in your life. Focus on what’s right, rather than on what is wrong.

JOURNEY ON

MARK

Mark Susnow, is an executive and life coach, who inspires others to believe in themselves. A former trial attorney for 30 years, 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 is the author of, Dancing on the River…Navigating Life’s Changes.

How to have a difficult conversation

Monday, June 14th, 2010

When people ask me what the most diffiulct challenges are that people face, I immediately think of two things. In this blog I share with you our challenge with communication that is excerpted from my book Dancing on the River. In a future blog, I’ll share with you the second challenge which I call the Only If Syndrome.

There were so many times when I could have said it sooner and better. I wanted to connect but I didn’t know how and I knew it. There was a part of me that was shy. I was comfortable
expressing myself nonverbally through music and sports, but words were what was needed, if I wanted to have successful personal relationships. So I was motivated to learn all I
could about becoming a better communicator. I took workshops, read all I could, and gradually noticed that I was beginning to connect on a deeper level. This was true, whether it was in my personal or professional life.

But no matter how skillful I became, there was always that conversation I avoided having. Regardless of what the circumstances were, there was always someone with whom I avoided having a conversation. As a lawyer I had my share of them. As a coach I have found that this is a universal problem. In almost every situation between two people there is a “conversation” that can begin the healing process. This conversation can show up anywhere in your life, but usually it shows up at home with your loved ones or in the workplace.

If you don’t communicate what’s on your mind the situation only becomes worse. It won’t go away. That’s the way it was for me. I was the classic avoider.

When I first began practicing law I shared office space with Sean. For many years we were very close, like brothers, but our relationship began to change. Sean started to distance himself and seemed to shut down whenever he was around me. Even though I was aware of this happening, I didn’t say anything because I was afraid that what Sean might say would be hurtful. Our conversations remained cordial, yet superficial, and eventually we stopped communicating and went our separate ways. I lost touch with Sean.

When I had a chance encounter with Sean approximately 20 years later, I got to have that conversation. After a busy day of running errands in an obscure place I noticed an attorney’s
office. I walked inside and there was Sean. It was a special moment for both of us.

I told Sean how special he had been in my life and how hurt and disappointed I had been when
we drifted apart. Sean shared his journey with me. He said he had to hit bottom, and as part of that process, he pushed everyone away. I thought I was the only one. For many years
I had felt that it was because of me that the relationship had broken down. The truth was that it had nothing to do with me. Sometimes having these conversations is a risk. I certainly
felt that way walking into Sean’s office, but I’m glad I did. I spoke my truth. We both understood what it was that at one time had connected us. We also understood why we were
now walking different paths.

Probably the most fertile ground for having these conversations is with your significant other or a family member.

Prior to meeting my wife, Annie, I was in an unsatisfactory relationship for three years with someone else. I accepted the circumstances of the relationship because I didn’t want to confront
the truth, which was that we wanted different things from life. I also didn’t want to be alone, but the truth was that even though I was in a relationship with her, I felt alone. If I had been willing to face the truth, it would have been easier to have had that conversation. Instead, I avoided it for three years. Finally things came to a head and we had that conversation. If I had been more truthful with myself and had faced my fear of being alone, I would have had that conversation much sooner.

Four Suggestions That Will Impact Your Ability to Engage in Diffi cult Conversations:

1. Whenever you feel confl ict or tension in a relationship, make the commitment to have a conversation about it. Think of a potential conflict as an opportunity to deepen the connection.
Look at it this way: Confl ict=Opportunity. I know that I’m simplifying it and I also know that
it’s true. It’s a powerful concept. Rather than running away, look for what’s possible. See this opportunity as a gift.

2. Be strategic. Think of a supportive place and time when you think the other person will be more receptive to what you have to say. If it’s a workplace issue, if at all possible have the conversation away from the workplace.

3. Don’t make the other person wrong. You might be wondering how you can let someone know that his or her way of doing things conflicts with your way without being critical of him. This is where you get to develop your expertise. Once you become critical of another person, their natural reaction will be to defend themselves and in the process most likely find fault with
you. They’ll never find out what your needs are or how the problem might be resolved.

4. Start the conversation with an observation. With Sean the following conversation would have been revealing, “Sean, I feel like you are pulling away from me. Did I do something that offended you? Are you ok?” That conversation would have made me aware that the distancing
that I was experiencing wasn’t because of me.

You have to ask the questions even if you think the answers might be painful. Having the conversation is an art form. It might seem awkward at fi rst, but you’ll have plenty of opportunity to practice because these situations keep coming up. They are part of living. If you don’t address what’s bothering you, the problem won’t miraculously go away.

JOURNEY ON

MARK

Mark Susnow, is an executive and life coach, who inspires others to believe in themselves. A former trial attorney for 30 years, 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 is the author of, Dancing on the River…Navigating Life’s Changes.

MAKE THE DECISION TO BE HAPPY

Wednesday, June 9th, 2010

Recently I’ve developed a new habit…In the morning I’ve been frequenting a new coffee shop to sip my tea and read the paper. There is a specialty paper that is only sold inside the Safeway.

I seldom shop at Safeway….usually buy organic at the farmers markets and the local health food store…but here I am early in the morning walking into Safeway…usually early in the morning things are a little slow as folks are just getting into the rhythm of the day.

Most checkers I have experienced not only at Safeway but at many markets are just putting in their time earning their paycheck.

But there is Maureen who I look forward to seeing in the morning who is high on life always smiling and laughing. Even though her checkout line is always the longest, I look forward to our brief conversation. She loves what she is doing and I am sure loves almost everything.

I couldn’t resist asking Maureen what her secret was. She told me that she feels blessed for everything that she has. It was a decision that she made many years ago. She’s grateful for her job, for her family and her health. She’s not concerned with what could have been or obsessed with what didn’t work out.

What a great way to start the morning….It doesn’t take anything extra. That big smile and enthusiasm is contagious.

Dancing on the River, which is the title of my new book, is a reflection of a life decision to be happy in the moment that you make over and over again.

JOURNEY ON

MARK

JOURNEY ON

MARK

Mark Susnow, is an executive and life coach, who inspires others to believe in themselves. A former trial attorney for 30 years, 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 is the author of, Dancing on the River…Navigating Life’s Changes.

SECRETS TO GREATER INTIMACY

Tuesday, June 8th, 2010

Although relationships are often unpredictable and confusing, we still try to make sense of them. So that’s what i’m doing here— sharing my perspective–so that the next time you reach that point of utter confusion you’ll have something to go on. In my book Dancing on the River there is a whole chapter on Love and Relationships.

But first a little history. There was that time when my focus was on finding the one. You know, Mr Right or Mrs Right. And then I met the one who I thought was the one, who was ready and willing and I started to freak out. I had been single for so long and so used to searching that I didn’t know what to do. Well I got over it and over 20 years has gone by.

Let me share with you 11 guiding principles to deeper intimacy:

1.Be respectful of your partner. You better think of your partner as someone who is pretty special and like who they are as a person.

2. Recognize each other’s strengths. Each of you has certain strengths and gifts. Utilize them to the benefit of the relationship.

3. Have you really made a full commitment? So many couples use every fight as a weapon to challenge the strength of the relationship. If you are really committed you cannot keep challenging the relationship.

4. Commitment to personal growth. Don’t think because you are in that “relationship” that you can stop working on yourself. For a while that was my thinking. When you stop growing you get boring and so does your partner and everything you are involved in. Growth is a lifelong process whether you are alone or with a partner.

5. You need to be flexible. Life evolves and things changes. As you change so does your partner and everything around you.

6. Develop a personal support system, independent of the relationship. Life is not a bowl of cherries, sometime you get a bad pit or a sour taste. In a long term relationship you will experience several challenges. It can be a financial setback, an illness, a loss of a loved one or a personal tragedy.

7. Have or develop a sense of humor, but not necessarily at the expense of your partner.

8. See relationships as a sacred path. In the process you’ll discover more about yourself than anything else you can do.

9. Learn how to deeply listen to each other, which means caring about what your partner longs for.

10. Create a safe vehicle or environment so that you can have authentic and honest discussions around potentially challenging subjects. Have you had a honest discussion regarding your finances? Do you have a financial plan that can work for both of you? Are you mutually responsible for the implementation of this plan?

11. Choose a partner who is capable of mutuality. Perhaps most important is whether your partner can make the commitment. Are they emotionally available?

What about you? Where do you shut down? Are there things in your life, that you refuse to look at? They’re usually are. And that’s our work.

So there it is.

JOURNEY ON

MARK

Mark Susnow, is an executive and life coach, who inspires others to believe in themselves. A former trial attorney for 30 years, 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 is the author of, Dancing on the River…Navigating Life’s Changes.

BE OPEN TO WHAT’S NEXT

Thursday, June 3rd, 2010

I just got off the phone with let’s call him, Carl, one of my life-coaching clients. At one time in his life, Carl, was excited about the path he was embarking upon. In his quest to become more fulfilled, Carl, read many books on personal development, took work-shops on becoming more fulfilled and asked the big questions. He believed that the answer was within reach.

Then he became immersed in his career, got married and began a family. In the process he forgot who he was. At this time in his life, the quest for knowledge and the meaning of life is just a memory.

In our life coaching sessions, I have been trying to get Carl to get in touch with who he was as a young man, since he was excited then. Carl knows what he has to do, but he is so engrained with his life and the habits that go along with making his career work, he can’t break away from work and make the investment of time and energy necessary to explore that world world that is waiting for him to show up.

Carl has very few interests other than his career. He knows it and wants to regain that passion he once had. But there was nothing that seemed to excite him.

As a start I suggested that he read through the local adult education programs at the local schools. I told him that right now what was most important was making the commitment. It’s like reading a book. You can’t get into the emotion of it until you’re read a few chapters.

His homework is to commit to taking one course during the next session. He’s agreed to it. It doesn’t matter if you’re not excited initially. That will come. What’s important is to get the energy moving. As part of your research and development to know yourself better, take the next step. Perhaps it’s not taking a course. It could be calling someone you have been thinking about but haven’t yet reached out to.

JOURNEY ON

MARK

Mark Susnow, is an executive and life coach, who inspires others to believe in themselves. A former trial attorney for 30 years, 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 is the author of, Dancing on the River…Navigating Life’s Changes.

Dancing on the River of your Life

Tuesday, June 1st, 2010

The amazing journey of writing Dancing on the River—Navigating Life Changes is complete for now. I only say “for now” because there always is more to explore and navigate, although we don’t know what that might be from where we are now. That’s the way it is—our lives—a never-ending journey in which we learn more about who we really are and where we are going.

I always loved the title, Dancing on the River, which my good friend Alan Harris sourced, but it was only after writing the last chapter that I realized that I had to rewrite the introduction and put in words what it means to be dancing on the river of your life. That final process was transformational. If you have been reading Letters on Life for some time, you might already know the river story. But since our lives are constantly evolving, it has new meaning.

When you stand in the river for the second time, is it the same river in which you had stood earlier? ANCIENT PHILOSOPHICAL QUESTION

Let me share with you some excerpts from the introduction:

A few years ago, I wrote an article about a river-rafting trip on the Green River in Colorado, where I had a near-death experience. As I was propelled through the rapids, behind the raft, I wasn’t sure if I would survive the swifter currents of the river. It wasn’t until many years later that I realized the significance of what happened on that trip. I was thirteen at the time.

As I relived this experience, during the writing of this book, I gleaned eight lessons and insights from the river experience, and the river of my life that have guided me on my life journey. They form the foundation for this book. I truly discovered what it means to be Dancing on the River. It’s an attitude about how you approach life. It’s a belief system that you cultivate. It’s a reflection of a life decision that you make to be happy and to enjoy life in this moment. Your enjoyment and appreciation of life is not dependent on what might happen in the future. I haven’t always felt this way. It’s taken me a while to get here. Some days I feel it more than others. Some days I forget.

Dancing on the River is the journey of how I have gotten to this place in my life. It’s been a process of discovering what beliefs and attitudes were holding me back from moving forward. It’s been a process of discovering spiritual practices and mental disciplines that have supported me in integrating more empowering beliefs and attitudes into my way of thinking. It’s been the awakening to a rich inner life that has fulfilled me on many levels. It’s been the willingness to face adversity and to be courageous when I needed to be. It’s about a leap of faith. It’s also a story about others and how they have changed their perception of life. Underlying all of this is the commitment to developing the life skills and belief systems necessary to face life’s challenges.

We are affected by events and circumstances that we have no control over. There are no explanations for many of the things that happen. We struggle with trying to make sense of it. More than ever, the world we live in is changing at an accelerating rate. Navigating these changes, both personally and globally, has become an art form and is the greatest challenge that we all face. It can feel overwhelming at times and can drain us emotionally. But it doesn’t have to be that way.

It is my sincere hope that after you read this book you will feel empowered to embrace life’s changes rather than avoiding or reacting to them. Like most rivers, our lives are constantly changing. It’s just that we are more aware of it now. So jump in—you’re going to get wet anyway. These challenges are there to nurture and accelerate your life’s unfolding. Avoiding the challenge just delays what you ultimately have to learn.

Most of us have experienced those moments when we are not sure what to do or which way to turn. While trying to figure it out, you can dance on the river, even though you are not sure where the river is taking you. You’re not alone on your quest. It is my hope that Dancing on the River becomes your guide and provides you with the tools and inspiration that will help you on your journey.

JOURNEY ON

MARK

Mark Susnow, is an executive and life coach, who inspires others to believe in themselves. A former trial attorney for 30 years, 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 is the author of, Dancing on the River…Navigating Life’s Changes.


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