JFK

A friend texted me his favorite JFK quote last night. It’s from a speech Kennedy gave in the stadium at Rice University in Houston on September 12, 1962.

“We choose to go to the moon in this decade and do the other things, not because they are easy, but because they are hard, because that goal will serve to organize and measure the best of our energies and skills, because that challenge is one that we are willing to accept, one we are unwilling to postpone, and one which we intend to win…”

That quote has plenty of relevance for those of us on a journey to change. And if it is our intention to do so, I am certain that each of us can find inspiration in that single sentence. “If it is our intention” is the operative phrase. For only if we decide – only if we choose – to be moved or changed by those words will they bear meaningful fruit in our lives. It reminds me of another JFK quote:

“Every accomplishment starts with the decision to try.”

Even though ink on a page (or pixels on a screen) cannot change you without your consent, it can be very helpful to see and hear those words until you can feel them swaying you in their direction. So please consider putting those or some other inspiring words in a place where you can see them often (and hopefully decide to allow them to change you.)

Here are a few other favorites of mine…

“Life is never easy. There is work to be done and obligations to be met—obligations to truth, to justice, and to liberty.”

“Efforts and courage are not enough without purpose and direction.”

Please do post a meaningful quote – JFK or not – in a place where it can remind you or re-inspire you to move toward your noble goal. Please consider it a challenge or even a…

… a TRIPLE double dog dare!?

Thanks for taking good care of you!

Trying to Change? Try TAMI!

NOTE: These instructions are written using quitting smoking as an example. But the same process works if we’re trying to stop snacking between meals, stop drinking, stop swearing, or stop gossiping. Raising awareness is always a key to behavioral change. Do the work – collect the data – see where it leads you.

Download your own set of instructions and a sheet of TAMI cards below:

Thinking about quitting smoking? Not quite sure where to begin? This idea always helps, whether you’re a heavy smoker, light smoker, or social smoker. Four quick questions and a pencil will not only bring you some important information to help you quit, but the collection of data will actually move you closer to your freedom. So what are we waiting for?

One simple rule – Before I light up, I have to write up every cigarette.
That’s it. Pretty simple, but don’t be misled. This simple tool really will give you helpful insight into why you smoke and that information can help you be a smarter quitter!

TAMIcard

Four simple questions – Just answer the four questions in the four columns before you light up.

Time – What time is it? Jot it down and indicate am or pm.

Activity – What are you doing as while you want this cigarette? Coffee? Driving? Telephone? Whatever it is, write it up, and yes – you’ll need to write small or abbreviate.

Mood – Now some moods are easier to identify than others. Anger and anxious are usually pretty easy, but if you can’t figure out your mood, it’s probably bored.

Intensity – On a scale of 1-5, how badly do you want this particular cigarette? An example of a 1 would be the cigarette we would smoke automatically – perhaps whenever we get in the car. A 5 would be a cigarette when we’re extremely agitated and we think smoking will calm us down.

Please collect this data for 3 days and try to include both weekdays and weekend days, since our schedules and routines can vary. If you miss a few cigarettes, try to fill in the information as best you can. And having the pencil right inside the pack makes remembering pretty easy.

Here’s what happens when we use TAMI cards:

1.) When we use TAMI cards we’ll see a drop in their number of cigarettes per day because thinking about each one helps us see that we don’t need some of them. Smoking fewer cigarettes per day moves us closer to our goal. These quickly identified low-intensity cigarettes are easy to skip.

2.) When we use TAMI cards we’ll gain insight to the habits and feelings that are associated with smoking. This will be extremely helpful as we try to develop a quit plan.


3.) And we’ll probably sputter and complain at least a little when we grab our pack and see the card which reminds us that we need to write up before we light up. TAMI cards are effective because they disrupt and interrupt our routines. So go ahead and grumble, but smile because you’re on your way to a life without tobacco!

 

The Tin Man, Tom Terrific, and Buddha?

In 1958 and 1959 Gene Deitchdrew a cartoon series called Tom Terrific. For 26 episodes Tom, along with his companion, Mighty Manfred, the Wonder Dog, would be featured on the Captain Kangaroo television sho where each of the the 26 stories was presented in daily 5-minute excerpts, most of which ended in some sort of a cliff-hanger. I think i was probably going to watch Captain Kangaroo the next day anyway – with or without an episode of Tom Terrific – but I do remember feeling tense or anxious when Crabby Appleton had Tom in some tight spot at the end of a 5-minute clip. I quickly learned that Tom – like most TV heroes – was going to overcome in the end, so I surely never lost any sleep between episodes.

TTandMtWD

Some readers may already suspect why I’m talking about Tom Terrific today. But before I get to the rest of the message today, please allow me to remind you of another much loved character from MGM’s Wizard of Oz…

“When a man’s an empty kettle

He should be on his mette

And yet I’m torn apart

Just because I’m presumin’

That I could be kind of human

If I only had a heart!”

Yes, I’m talking about the farmhand, Hickory, who appeared in Dorothy’s dream as the Tin woodsman (played by the beloved Jack Haley.)

woo tin

So what do the Tin Man and Tom Terrific have in common? Yes, they both wear a funnel on their head…

 and so do you and I!

To learn more about the funnel on (or in?) your head, read on:

If you ask a person what will happenwhen you pour water into the top of a funnel, they’ll quickly tell you that water will come out the bottom of the funnel. If you ask them why, they may hesitate but will usually see or agree that it happens because of gravity, or more specifically, the LAW of gravity.

Do you believe in gravity? Let me assure you that gravity doesn’t care whether you believe in it. Do we ever doubt gravity? Do we wonder if it’s going to work tomorrow? Did you lose any sleep last night worrying about whether your car would be floating around the ceiling of the garage in the morning? Probably not. Gravity, discovered or more accurately named by Sir Isaac Newton, is such a natural part of our world that we rarely think about it. We simply accept it and expect it.

I’d now like to introduce you to another universal law. I urge you to likewise accept it and expect it, but I understand any reluctance you may have. When you take an honest and thoughtful look around you, I suspect you will realize that you have observed this law throughout your life! Once you are more consciously aware of this law you can take more fuller advantage of it.

The “Law of the Funnel” is similar to the law of gravity, but most of us have never been taught the law, and yet we are all subject to it. It is best illustrated using 5 words. In fact it is the shape of the 5 words that give the law its name. A 5-letter word, followed by a 4-letter word, and then a 3-letter, 2-letter, and 1-letter word – when listed in a column, form the shape of a funnel (or inverted triangle.)

x     x     x     x     x

x     x     x     x

x     x     x

x     x

x

Let’s fill in those 5 words and see our funnel.

The things I THINK

determine how I FEEL

which shapes how I ACT

what I will or won’t DO

and ultimately decide who I am.

T    H    I    N    K

F    E    E    L

A    C    T

D    O

I

And, like a funnel, whatever we put in the top will come out the bottom!

The thoughts we put into our mind and allow into our mind will eventually and inevitably determine who we become.

Here’s an example of the law in action:

When a person thinks of themself as a victim of certain circumstances, the thoughts cause them to involuntarily feel a certain way. They do not choose to feel these negative feelings. They simply come naturally (as rain naturally falls downward.) As they feel the negative feelings, the way they act  and the things they do will also be directed by the negative feelings. If they continue in this negative thought process they will in fact become a different person than they could otherwise have been. Futures have surely been altered by the thoughts in a person’s mind. But imagine instead the same circumstances occurred but the person though of themself as a survivor of those circumstances. A simple shift of thought – from victim to survivor – changes the course of that person’s life.

To be clear, the Law of the Funnel doesn’t mean that by thinking about winning the lottery we can make it so. We have no authority over the lottery, but we do have authority over our thoughts. After all, it’s our funnel! So let’s ask some important questions:

What’s in it?

Who put it there?

Is it true?

Is it helpful?

Is it moving us toward our goals?

Now I understand that the spirit of mindfulness would have us be aware of our thughts without judging them. But I also understand that holding certain thoughts (until we perfect acceptance) can have a distinctly negative effect upon our well-being. So i will always be a fan of mindful practices. They can truy restore and strengthen our neural pathways. BUT (you could tell there was a but coming, couldn’t you?) sometimes just allowing thoughts to persist in the mind can be harmful. For instance, giving head-space to thoughts of some past events which detract from our sense of self-worth can lead to actions based upon our degraded sense of self. Not cool- not OK! Allowing those thoughts to “just be” can be very hard. Until we learn to perfectly accept them without being influenced by them (a noble goal of mindfulness) let’s take a hard look at the thoughts that run through our minds and see if some of them need a re-write.

When rewriting a story or reframing a thought, I encourage people to be sure that they are still telling the truth, but perhaps in a way that is easier to bear. By shiftng the focus or adjusting our perspective, we can often craft a true version of a story that highlights different aspects and ultimately feels better. It is not advisable – in my opinion – to alter the facts, but to bring the story to a place of kinder understanding – to a place where we can sit with that truth and not be adversely influenced by it.

I believe the Apostle Paul may have understood the potential we each have to change ourselves. He wrote that we needn’t be as we are, we needn’t be as we were in the past, but that we could change ourselves by changing what’s in our funnel. “Be not conformed to this world but be transformed by the renewing of your mind.

I believe the Law of the Funnel can help us smooth some of the rough edges off of painful thoughts so we can better sit and be at peace with them.

The Law f the Funnel has always been true and other people have observed and described it in other times and and in other words and in other lands, but I believe its truth is both timeless and inescapable.

“A man is what he thinks about all day long.” – Ralph Waldo Emerson

“A man’s life is the sum of what his thoughts make him.” – Marcus Aurelius

Quotes attributed to Buddha:

“Our life is shpaed by our mind; we become what we think.”

“Drop by drop is the water pot filled. Likewise the wise man, gathering little by little, fills himself with good.”

“We are what we think. All that we are arises with our thoughts. With our thoughts, we make the world.”

So, if we can agree that the Law of the Funnel is real, them let’s try to think about what we think about (brain cramp alert!) and let’s put good stuff in our funnel and the funnels of those around us!

CLICK HERE to download a copy of a worksheet about the Law of the funnel (so you can teach it to your friends.) >>> Funnel 2019

Thanks for taking good care of you (and your funnel!)

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Shall We Dance?

Yes, we shall, or at very least we should!

know that I’m supposed to dance today. When I opened my yogurt container, inside the lid was printed “Dance in the mirror.” Now, I’m not saying that I always listen to my food or my food containers, but that advice sounded sage to me. So the next time my body told me that it was time to go to the bathroom (yes, I do try to listen to my body) I spent a couple minutes dancing in the restroom, looking in the mirror. (For those of you who may be wondering, it was a single user restroom at my workplace. I probably wouldn’t have danced in a multi-user restroom.) An hour later I still have this light, calm, positive feeling. I also have an effortless smile on my face.

cape-verde-320790_1280

I think opting to be spontaneous or even silly can be beneficial. I think in order to be open to the idea of doing something silly or spontaneous, it helps if we make a habit of trying to leave at least a little “wiggle room” in our schedule. But the dancing didn’t really cost me much time. I’m pretty sure that by the end of the day, the two minutes I squandered dancing in the bathroom will have caused such a positive ripple in my day that I’ll be more productive. Nope, I can’t prove it (nor can you disprove it.) I’ll have certainly been more happy! Being happy is healthy whether you’re alone or in a group, whether you’re at work or at home.

father-3315817_1920

Do yourself a favor (and maybe the folks around you, too!) and make a point of doing something spontaneous or even outright silly! Always saying yes when my yogurt asks me to dance may add some culture to my life! It certainly added some unexpected fun.

And here is, perchance, some unexpected fun for anyone who remembers the 1956 film adaptation of Rodgers and Hammerstein’s “The King & I.”

 

Listen Up!

At the risk of sounding like a broken record, I’m suggesting AGAIN that you invest a little bit of time into building a couple playlists to influence your mood.

Besides helping folks adjust their moods, reduce stress, and lower anxiety, some people are even using music to manage their physical pain!

Check out this legit sounding research!

And here is some MORE legit sounding research!

While plenty of folks are coming to terms with technology and it’s potential for overuse and even “addiction,” I have recently been trying to (carefully) use technology to influence my mood and stress level. By getting my daily “dose” of news as a podcast I can stay in touch with the world without having the news on all the time while I’m driving. By downloading a few playlists onto my phone, I am trying to spend more of my driving time listening to music.

Songs also have a great capacity for attaching to memories (and memories of moods) so individual songs as well as types of music are likely to help you not freak out or give your mood a lift.

‘Best thing about using music this way? You tell me!

  • No big Pharma making obscene profits off of us
  • No expiration dates on that old (or should we say “classic”) ELO album
  • No FDA approval is necessary for that newest Jonas Brothers tune
  • Unlike medications, with music, combining is encouraged
  • No pesky child-proof lids

I’m not a doctor, but I think that using music to regulate arousal, reduce anxiety, anage stress, and generally make your life better is…

 

…wait for it…

 

Sound advice!

rimshot

Deserve?

Any of us who are trying to build a healthy relationship with food may want to give this a careful read. Similarly, those of us trying to stop smoking or other substances, can probably remember convincing ourselves that “I deserve this reward.”

I understand that seeing a slice of chocolate cheesecake as a “reward” might be easier to understand than looking forward to inhaling a couple lungs full of soot, but “reward” is in the eye of the beholder. Maybe a cardiologist or dietitian looks at cheesecake and sees high cholesterol and plaque-clogged arteries!

After a long day, a tough task, or any sort of challenge, indulging oneself in a treat or reward seems reasonable. And perhaps more than seeming reasonable, it feels good! It’s true. Life is challenging and a well-placed reward can keep us moving. But we really owe it to ourselves to reexamine what kind of reward we deserve. As for me, I am pretty confident that I never deserve a lung full of arsenic and polonium! (YIKES!) So if we still think a cigarette is a “treat,” we need to remember that we deserve better!

desserts-1571363_1920

Life’s journey ought to have rewards and treats and even indulgences along the way, but let’s try to be sure that the choices we make to reward ourselves are positive and health and truly serve us! A piece of fresh fruit and just a small bite of dark chocolate can make me feel like I had dessert. That’s actually a dessert I deserve (and even the dietitian would probably agree.) A quick five minute walk around the block, counting how many different kinds of birds I see or hear is a “break” that a cardiologist would be happy about.

It really is up to us, isn’t it – to decide how we choose to see things? Challenge your idea of treat, reward, and what you deserve and see if there are choices that would serve you better.

We deserve to be free!

Slip Happens!

On May 13, 1918 the United States Postal Service issued it’s very first Air Mail stamp. For 24 cents you could send a piece of mail by airplane, which was significantly faster than the “pony express.” One  batch of those famous stamps became infamous because the image of the biplane printed in blue ink inside the red frame of the stamp was upside-down! (OOPS!)

The stamp pictured a Curtis Jenny JN-4HM, a biplane modified specifically to carry mail.

oops us airmail 1918

This particular mistake turned out to be very valuable – at least to some philatelists. Two of them sold for $977, 500 and $825,000 in 2007. In November of 2018, a single “inverted Jenny” sold at auction for $1,573,000.

While we don’t usually feel proud of our mistakes, the fact is that some of them can be valuable because they can teach us something. So if you’re on any sort of journey that requires behavioral change – quitting smoking, exercising more, gossiping less, saving money, losing weight  – slip ups happen. It’s a normal part of those sorts of journeys. But if we learn from the slips, they can actually be beneficial steps toward our eventual triumph. Hang in there and try again. It may be helpful to share your mistake with a trusted friend or mentor, too. That can remind us that slip-ups are fairly common and are often a part of the journey. A mistake is nothing to be ashamed of, but it would be a shame to waste the lesson each slip can teach.

#SlipHappens

 

This Moment

CaptureMoment

Can you take a moment with you?

We’ve all experienced a moment that was deeply pleasing, deeply calming – a moment when we felt as though “all is well in the world.” Feelings like that may only last a moment before the busyness of a day intrudes and pulls us out of that beautiful moment. but wouldn’t it be nice of we could revisit that moment again and enjoy the feelings of that moment?

If we give our moment a few “handles” we can make retrieving the moment easier. Just like searching the internet, if we carefully attach tags to our memory of a moment, we may see that it becomes easier to find that memory (and the feelings attached to it) again. Our brain’s temporal lobe even uses smells to “glue” some information in place. And giving a name to that feeling/experience can be helpful, too.

 

The next time you experience one of those moments that you want to be able to find in your mind again, try this “recipe” for a lasting memory. I’ll use the serenity I find walking in the woods as my example for my moment.

  • Open eyes widely, smile and say,
    •  “This is what serenity looks like.”  
  • Close eyes, smile, take a slow deep breathe, and say,
    • “This is what serenity smells like – fresh, earthy, alive.”
  • With eyes closed, smiling, and ears focused, say,
    •  “This is what serenity sounds like – birds, a breeze, and a babbling brook.”
  • Eyes open, smiling, say,
    • “This place makes me feel safe, peaceful, and serene.” (3 feelings is good.)
  • (Optional, if applicable) Smile and hum a song that feels like it goes with the moment/place.

With all of the “glue” that’s now applied to your special moment, you may be surprised at how quickly you will be able to call up that memory and the feelings that you’ve connected to it.

#NoCopay

#NoChildproofLids

#GoodMedicine

 

Before the Ashes Were Cold

The apparently accidental fire that destroyed much of the Notre Dame Cathedral in Paris, was devastating to countless people around the globe. Out of their sense of loss, people have tried to express themselves in prayers, songs, words, and tears.ND fire

A symbol of hope and faith that has stood for over 800 years was nearly lost forever in a few hours.

ND window lit

Irreplaceable works of art and relics were lost. Hundreds of firefighters battled the blaze as the fire illuminated Paris’ sky.

News of the tragic fire immediately spread across the globe and countless eyes watched in sorrow as a truly magnificent monument of hope was transformed into billowing columns of smoke and piles of ashes.

BUT…

…before the ashes were cold, before all of the tears were shed, people around the world responded out an abundance of hope and with undaunted spirits. This symbol of hope (to people of many religious backgrounds) would not be lost. Along with the heroic efforts of those who fought the flames and ferried priceless works of art to safety, there were other heroes who decided before the fire was extinguished that hope would not be!ND front

Within 24 hours of the fire being defeated, nearly one billion dollars had been pledged to the restoration as a call to architects went out to begin designing the new spire. We have seen an immediate response to recover from this momentary setback in the history of this icon.

ND rose 2

Swift and sure was the response to the setback. May we all be emboldened by this story to respond to the setbacks we will no doubt experience in our lives. Let us choose hope now in the face of whatever trial we face.

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