I’ve Moved

As you’ve probably noticed:  this blog is inactive. 

Come visit me at  http://onehourretreat.blogspot.com

Gratitude is more than a platitude.  Both scientific and anecdotal evidence suggests that the simple act of writing down what you are grateful for – even if only once a week – will likely benefit your health as well as your mood.  Studies have shown that the effects are even strong enough to be noticed by the journaler’s spouses and friends.

Robert Emmons, PhD, professor of psychology at the University of California at Davis, and author of several books, including THANKS! How Practicing Gratitude Can Make You Happier (New York: Mariner Books, 2008) has studied the effects of gratitude for much of his career.  He and other researchers have found that, while some people are just naturally more positive more than others, the “practice” of gratitude can increase perceived happiness levels by 25%.  And those in the “practice gratitude” groups not only felt better about their lives as a whole than the control groups, but also experienced fewer physical symptoms, were more likely to progress toward their goals, exercised more and even slept better! 

And lest you think only California surfers or pop psychology gurus practice gratitude, consider this: the Wall Street Journal has reported on a real estate broker who kept a gratitude journal (12/31/09); the Graziadio Business Review (published by Pepperdine University) has published an article about the effects of gratitude in the workplace (2006), and WebMD features several articles touting the health benefits of an attitude of gratitude.  And spiritual traditions have incorporated various practices of gratitude for millenia. 

 Why not try it?  You have nothing to lose and everything to gain.  Take just 3-5 minutes on two or three evenings in the next week to write down what you are grateful for.  List as many things as you can think of in the time you have allotted, or write in more depth about three things and why you are grateful for them. If you find this practice helpful, continue it through the holiday season and beyond.  And  return to it whenever things don’t seem to be going your way. 

Don’t limit your thanks-giving to Thanksgiving.  Practice gratitude all year long!

1.  You get more e-mail newsletters than you can possibly read, but are afraid to unsubscribe for fear that you will miss something important.  (News flash:  you may already be missing something important, since you can’t read them all!)

2.  You download every audio that comes your way and spend hours listening to them in your car.

3.  You can’t walk by a newstand or stand in line at the grocery store without checking out the headlines.

4.  You can’t go more than a little while without checking your e-mail.

5.  You have a mass of unorganized magazine clippings or Internet “favorites.”

If more than two of the above describe your life, or if one of them is causing problems with other people in your life, you may be an information junkie. 

You are not alone – there are lots of us out there.   We live in the “information age.”  And we are literally DROWNING in information.

Here’s how to come up for air:

1.  Recognize that information is no longer scarce.  There is little need to “save” information, because it is always just a Google search away.

2.  Recognize that information is no longer power (see #1).  Power comes from analyzing and digesting and USING information.

3.  If a bit of information is useful to you, then put it to use.  Otherwise, let it go. 

Information without implementation is clutter.  – Bill Baren and Patrick Dominguez

(from their e-book:  5 Time Mastery Techniques to Double Your Productivity Every Day)

“In your hours of work you make a living.  In your hours of leisure you make a life.”  ~Supreme Court Justice Robert H. Jackson (1892-1954)   

Were you surprised at the vintage of that quotation?  I was.   

Justice Jackson made that statement in a 1930 commencement address, urging the graduating seniors not to get caught up in vapid amusements, the “spend and spend and spend” mentality of the age or conformity to the crowd and commercialism.  While a few of his remarks are notably sexist or dated,  much of his message is as relevant today as it was in 1930.   

Here is another brief passage:     


“We live in an age of extreme busyness, of high pressure and speed. It hardens our faces and blights our souls. You should not mistake mere motion for progress, mere activity for achievement.”   

In the current age, it is not easy to avoid extreme busyness, high pressure and speed.  Unless you are a hermit, life conspires to make us rush around at ever faster speeds.  I invite you to enjoy a moment of true leisure today – and use that moment to plan more moments, and to think about how to use your “leisure” (i.e., non-working) hours in a truly fulfilling way.   

If you’d like to read the entire speech, here the link:  http://www.stjohns.edu/media/3/d7babbf5f8624c76ae93f45f81ee05fd.pdf?d=20100907   

The end of summer is always bittersweet for me.  I hate to see the long, warm days end.  I hate to see the more relaxed pace of life end.  And I have mixed feelings as I drop my daughter off for another year away at college.

But I also welcome the beginning of fall.  Every change of seasons prompts me to think about making a “fresh start” in one way or another.  But fall brings to mind the newness of a school year:  starting fresh with an empty notebook, sharpened pencils and new school clothes to replace those outgrown.  New teachers, new subjects, and, often, new classmates and friends.

Most of our adult jobs, whether they be at home or outside the home, volunteer or paid, don’t have that kind of “new beginning” built in.  We move from one project to the next, without a clear delineation between one project and the next, one year and the next.  It can start to feel like the “same old, same old.”

What if you could make a fresh start this fall?  Is there something  – some behavior, some attitude, some way of being – that you have outgrown?  Is there a subject you’d like to learn or master? Would you like to make new friends, find a new teacher, or try out a new sport or hobby?  If you could start with a clean notebook page for your daily life, what would you fill it with?

Start thinking about it – and watch for details about a new program I’ll be launching to support your fresh start.

Last, for now, in the Let (Inner) Freedom Ring series

After reading a few posts in this Inner Freedom series, you may have started to wonder:  Do we all have split personalities?

No – the vast majority of us do not have split personalities.  But we do all have “voices” in our heads.  Those voices reflect conflicting opinions and conflicting values we have picked up as we have gone through life.  And it is important for us to be aware of those conflicting voices, and to think about whether and how they serve us. 

Each voice arose to protect us or guide us in some way.  Each has a viewpoint to share.  The question is how we can get them to play nicely together, rather than scrapping and fighting and backstabbing.  Think of the different voices as your team.  Each has a perspective, a “department” so to speak, and it is important to listen to all viewpoints.  Some of us are better at listening to our marketing voice than to those pests in accounting, or vice-versa.  Some of us need to play more, some need to play a bit less.  Some of us need to budget a bit more, and others of us need to loosen the pursestrings a bit and allow ourselves the freedom to spend. 

But this team needs a leader, and that leader is YOU – your aware, conscious self.  You might think of that self as your “inner coach.”   In sports, the coach leads the team, strategically deploys players, and helps them work together.   The coach helps the team celebrates wins and replay and dissects losses (in order to learn from them).  The coach builds on and leverages the strengths of the various team members.  The coach cheerleads, prods, cajoles, and trains.  And sometimes the coach puts on a stern voice and says, “just get out there and do it!”  In the best cases, the coach listens to – and follows –  her gut, though s/he may call that following her inner guidance or the leading of Spirit.

You are the coach.  And if you see that your inner team is in conflict, or not playing up to par, or taking too many (or not enough) risks, then call a team meeting.  Don’t let your team languish!

Not all those who wander are lost.”

-J.R.R. Tolkien

Some of the wanderers are exploring new places, new concepts, and new ways of being.  Some of them are wandering just to see where the path leads.  And (with deference to Tolkien), some of them are growing into the person they are destined to become!