Category Archives: tools

Life… Hyphenated

I was listening to the radio yesterday, and one of the headlines was of the plane crash in the Bahamas in which a prominent pastor (Myles Munroe) was killed. My condolences go out to his family and friends. The radio hosts quoted one of the pastor’s sayings, and it struck me as something I wanted to share with you.

He said (and I’m paraphrasing), the value of your life is not based on its duration, but it’s donation.

I love that! Love it.

A “good life” is not measured in years, but in how those years are used.

Another example of this (as a loved one pointed out) is the famous saying that your life is not defined by the dates on your tombstone, but rather the “-“ between the years.

So, this week I ask this question: What are you doing with your hyphen?

It’s a simple question that generates a lot of thought and answers. More importantly, though, I think it’s a good tool to add to our toolboxes.

Why? Exactly because it is so simple.

In the past, I’ve done my best to simplify ideas to help us all make better choices, such as the giving/taking discussion, or the idea that things are not good or bad for us, but rather strengthen or weaken us. This is one more tool we can all add to our decision trees:

What are you doing with your hyphen?

Whether it’s holding someone’s hand a little longer, giving to someone in need, or taking time for yourself in nature – it’s all about making the hyphen meaningful. Perhaps today is a good day to make a decision from that perspective. I know I will.

Fear and Gratitude

A favorite quote/mantra of mine: “Fear cannot live in a grateful heart.” Not sure where I first heard it or who said it – but it has been a guiding light in many a situation over the years. More recently, however, it has been a great tool that I have shared with clients, friends and family. And now I’d like to share it with you during this week in which we focus on giving thanks. Here’s how it works:

1) Think of something that causes you fear, anxiety or worry. Think of it, see it, and then FEEL it. Recognize that feeling within your body, physically. Sit with it for as long as you need, in order to commit it to memory – but not more than a minute, if you can last that long!

2) Now think of something for which you are grateful. Anything. The day, the weather, family, friends, a child, even your car or a new pair of shoes. Sit with this and truly feel the gratitude you have for whatever this is as it fills your body with love and joy. Allow that feeling to permeate every corner and every cell. Enjoy it. (you can sit with this one for as long as you want.)

Ok – now you know the two feelings and you have committed them to memory. Here comes the life-altering part: Whenever you have even the tiniest twinge of fear, like in the first part of the exercise, whether it shows up and registers as fear or not you now know what it is. You have a memory of it and a barometer, of sorts. When these feelings show up in your body, take a breath and switch into gratitude. Again, it can be gratitude for anything. Gratitude for the train being on time, or your coffee being delicious – or even having the money to buy a coffee. By switching from one emotion to the other, and consciously putting your attention onto your feelings, you are creating new habits and behaviors that will ultimately become automatic, and you will find that life becomes a little easier, smoother and more joy-filled.

The most challenging part of this exercise is recognizing the fear emotion, and then taking the pause (or breath) to consciously switch it. That’s why the first part of the exercise, though not pleasant, is important. You need to have the conscious memory of the physical feelings associated with these emotions in order to recognize and change them. As with all things, it takes practice, but it gets much easier the more you do it.

So, now this begs the question in this week of Thanksgiving: What makes you feel gratitude? Make a list. Keep it with you so you can call on it whenever you want. Add to it, change it, and see how different your life can be. For truly, when your heart is full of gratitude there is no room for fear.

With deepest gratitude for allowing me into your life…
In love and light,