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Posts from the ‘optimism’ Category

No and Yes Checklist

“Begin at once to live, and count each separate day as a separate life.” – Seneca

In order for us to say YES and count each day as a separate life, we need to also say NO to:

Negative thoughts
Toxic people
Assumptions
Drama
Scarcity
Regret
People-pleasing
Perfection
Cynicism
Unforgiveness
Busyness
Victim mentality
Multitasking
Past
Fear

Say YES to:

Abundance
Gratitude
Joy
Laughter
Quiet
Music
Fun
Play
Trying
Practice
Starting
Imperfection
Purpose
Wonder
Discovery
Curiosity
Delight
Art
Nature

Start checking off your YES list by checking off your No list.

Forward, Full Speed Ahead

“The happiness of your life depends upon the quality of your thoughts: therefore, guard accordingly, and take care that you entertain no notions unsuitable to virtue and reasonable nature.” – Marcus Aurelius

“It is not death that a man should fear, but he should fear never beginning to live.” – Marcus Aurelius

We spend so much time running FROM things – change, the past, regrets. What if we invested half of that time running TO things, head on, full speed, filled with optimism? Planning for the best-case scenario rather than settling for worst-case thinking that steals our joy.

My latest article on Start3Things is on releasing the vise grip of limiting beliefs. Change your thoughts, change the depth and quality of your days.

One of my favorite daily activities is to run the dogs up to a wooded path where they can run off leash. Sasha wanders and explores while Abby stares until I throw the ball. She chases every ball like it’s the first time she’s ever chased a ball. Rigorous, focused, disciplined play.

Stop running from the dark and run swiftly to the light. Hurl yourself forward into awe and wonder.

“When you arise in the morning, think of what a precious privilege it is to be alive – to breathe, to think, to enjoy, to love.” – Marcus Aurelius

Turn Up the Volume!

If you spike the ball when Friday hits that you made it through another week and lament the brevity of the weekend, it’s time to change your mindset from survival mode to thrive mode, from scarcity to abundance. I certainly have fallen into the trap of Friday delight and Monday dread.

Time for some seven-day living filled with joy, laughter and some serious play. Negativity is a spiral that produces more of the same useless, time-wasting, life-sucking results. Optimism multiplies, fuels, energizes, creates light, uncovers possibility available right in this very moment. A much better choice for thriving no matter the circumstances. No more dabbling in optimism – commit.

Looking for a way to shift your perspective? Go opposite. Too close, pull back. Too far out, pull in. See the whole picture. Can’t come up new ideas, stop trying and let them find you by taking a walk.

The quickest way to shift your perspective – music. I’ve started a “dance party” playlist and just added Lizzo’s Good as Hell – “I do my hair toss, Check my nails, Baby how you feelin’?, Feeling good as hell!” I can’t help but smile, sing loudly and bust a move.

Music, art, nature are all gifts that remind us to lighten up and enjoy this very moment. Change the playlist in your mind and let your heart, spirit and soul out to dance every single day. Turn up the volume! Hair toss, check nails, feeling good as hell!

8 Percent

“Our happiness depends on the habit of mind we cultivate. So practice happy thinking every day. Cultivate the merry heart, develop the happiness habit, and life will become a continual feast.” – Norman Vincent Peale

Last week, I received a certificate of recognition from the Guideposts Foundation for being a member since 1986 – 34 years. I joined after reading the founder Norman Vincent Peale’s seminal book The Power of Positive Thinking. I’ve returned to this book regularly and it is foundational to who I am, want to be and fall short of often. It really defines what Cast Light aspires to be – encouragement and optimism in the midst of all that life throws at us. Joy can transcend our circumstances when we think, act and see differently, choosing gratitude and abundance over cynicism and scarcity.

“The way to happiness; keep your heart free from hate, your mind free from worry, live simply, expect little, give much, scatter sunshine, forget self, and think of others.” – Norman Vincent Peale

One of the main things that steals our daily joy is worry. “Someone actually did a study demonstrating the pointlessness of much of our worries. The researcher found that 40% of the things people worried about never happened; 30 percent concerned old decisions that couldn’t be altered; 12 percent were about other people’s perceptions that may or may not even be true, and 10 percent were related to health, which worsens when you worry. Them remaining 8 percent of worries might possibly be called legitimate,” stated Norman Vincent Peale.

92% of worry is about things that never happen, the past, false perceptions and health. Guard your joy daily and diligently direct your thoughts. Release worry, restore your energy and invest your power in worthy pursuits.

Free your mind and go be a light in the world! No worries!

Alleluia

“Life itself is an exercise in learning to sing alleluia here in order to recognize the face of God hidden in the recesses of time. To deal with the meaning of alleluia in life means to deal with moments that do not feel like alleluia moments at all. But how is it possible to say alleluia to the parts of life that weigh us down, that drain our spirits dry, that seem to deserve anything but praise? The question is a worthy one. Life, after all, is a struggle, a journey in uncharted space, an exercise in both gain and loss, joy and sorrow. No life consists of nothing but success and satisfaction, security and self-gratification. Failure and disappointment, loss and pain are natural parts of the human equation. Then what? What use is an alleluia then, except perhaps to encourage some kind of emotionally unhealthy self-deception? But alleluia is not a substitute for reality. It is simply the awareness of another whole kind of reality—beyond the immediate, beyond the delusional, beyond the instant perception of things.”— Uncommon Gratitude: Alleluia for All That Is by Joan Chittister, Rowan Williams

Today is someday.

No more putting off joy, AWAKEness and gratitude for our imperfect, frustrating, fleeting, abundant and beautiful life.

If we wait for the perfect time, when all is well to sing alleluia, not a note will be sung. Our resolve, practice and commitment to “alleluia” daily living defines the essence and substance of our life. It requires action, rigor and hope amidst our natural inclination to pull the covers over our head and weed out all people who are a pain in the a** out of our life. We are not called to perfection. We are called to love, often the “unlovable.” Love is nothing if not unconditional.

While a sunset, a dog gazing into your eyes and the simple delight of a child prompt shouts of “alleluia” and “amen,” we must be alleluia people amidst people and circumstances that are a drag and drain. Empathy, compassion and understanding beyond the surface of our knowing are the greatest gifts that we give to ourselves and others.

Keep singing alleluia beyond the instant perception of things. You will then be in control of the only thing you truly have control of – your own response, outlook and ability to contribute positively to this world by singing loudly, regardless of what the world is serving up right now.

Do I have an “alleluia”!!??

First Real Snow

“I wonder if the snow loves the trees and fields, that it kisses them so gently? And then it covers them up snug, you know, with a white quilt; and perhaps it says, “Go to sleep, darlings, till the summer comes again.”― Lewis Carroll

“It is the life of the crystal, the architect of the flake, the fire of the frost, the soul of the sunbeam. This crisp winter air is full of it.” – John Burroughs

This morning we got our first real snow. The snow that’s heavy, plowable and will probably be the base snow that will remain until April. The proclamation that Fall has officially done its job and it’s winter’s turn. Transition time over.

It’s beautiful, fresh, clean and a big inconvenience on the busiest travel day of the year as we kick off six weeks of holiday busyness.

This kind of snow slows us down. And there in lies the gift.

Slow down and celebrate the gifts that you already have right now. Not the ones you’ll race to get on Black Friday. Don’t miss what already is present in search of presents that can never replace a long meaningful conversation, a call or text to check in on someone who’s lost someone this year and this is the first holiday without a loved one, a hug that softly whispers “you’re not alone, and it’s going to be alright.”

Be grateful for all that is, was and will come. God weaves life with both struggle and awe. So often, we only see the struggle and miss the awe. Abundance is an attitude and awareness, not a bank account and pile of gifts. Gratitude is the best gift you can give and receive.

Even in Minnesota, when we know that winter never skips a turn, we are taken back when it hits. So rather than enjoying the beauty and slowing that winter brings, we shift our attention to what we can’t control – the weather – and the complaining ensues.

Abby and Sasha had the appropriate response to the snow this morning. They leaped, created new paths and chased each other, rolling in delight. They saw the gift immediately.

Happy Thanksgiving and may you be grateful each day for your blessings that are hiding right in front of you. Slow down and go make some snow angels.

“To be interested in the changing seasons is a happier state of mind than to be hopelessly in love with spring.” – George Santayana

Tough and Soft

“Be soft, don’t let the world make you hard. Be gentle, don’t let the people make you difficult. Be kind, don’t let the realities of life steal your sweetness and make you heartless.”― Nurudeen Ushawu

Outlook is grounded in what’s inside. Be careful with your words and thoughts for they create the path on which you walk. Nurture and foster goodness and light, letting the noise and distractions fade away. Never give into circumstances, outside negativity and easy cynicism.

Own what is yours and let others own what is theirs to own. Show relentless empathy. Forgiveness is freedom. Break no one’s spirit, especially your own.

Optimism is a daily choice worthy of practice, discipline and rigor. Build your mental toughness so you remain soft, capable of delight in the smallest of things. Gratitude is the fuel.

Focus your thoughts, expand your life. See colors, there are many to see. Be foolishly positive and trust the unfolding of each day, anchored firmly in possibility and awe. Any other path is a dead end.

Soft. Gentle. Kind.

Renew

“Do not conform any longer to the patterns of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is – his good, pleasing and perfect will.” – Romans 12:2

When I committed to daily writing about optimism for 30 days in October, it shifted and focused my attention. I felt more present in my days and aware of my many blessings. The habit of expressing gratitude daily renews our mind.

Writing synthesizes my thoughts, fosters understanding and creates new connections. This month, I’ve lagged on my writing for both Cast Light and Start3Things. Too busy. Running from one commitment to the next. Impossible checklists. The result is dull, bland living. Yuck. Enough.

The world is not going away. Creating and carrying out commitments to ourselves make us more capable to contribute meaningfully to other areas of our life. Choosing light, searching for wonder and joy hunting are daily priorities and pursuits worthy of our time.

Stop the busyness. Break the patterns. Begin each day with an intention to renew your mind. Create space for delight and joy that are fueled by positivity, hope and optimism.

Renew.

Imagination

“Logic will get you from A to B. Imagination will take you everywhere.” – Albert Einstein

Watching kids’ excitement at Halloween is a delightful and much-needed reminder of the importance of imagination in our daily life. Smiles are deep and wide. Joy is pure.

I had a wonderful night walking the neighborhood witnessing kids running excitedly door to door yelling “trick or treat” and saying thank you with vigor for a few pieces of candy.

Logic is linear and how we roll through our days, checking off the task list. Imagination brings color, possibility and bigness to our days. Nonsense makes good sense.

“I like nonsense; it wakes up the brain cells.” – Dr. Seuss

“Halloween is not only about putting on a costume, but it’s about finding the imagination and costume within ourselves.” – Elvis Duran

Harmony

“Just imagine becoming the way you used to be as a very young child, before you understood the meaning of any word, before opinions took over your mind. The real you is loving, joyful, and free. The real you is just like a flower, just like the wind, just like the ocean, just like the sun.” – Don Miguel Ruiz

Agreement is defined as harmony, as a contract, an arrangement. As I was on a long run yesterday, I downloaded Oprah’s SuperSoul Conversations podcast with Don Miguel Ruiz on one of my favorite books The Four Agreements:

  1. Be Impeccable with Your Word.
  2. Don’t Take Anything Personally.
  3. Don’t Make Assumptions.
  4. Always Do Your Best.

I have the four agreements posted on my desk at work to remind me. Simple yet difficult rules to follow when others don’t do the same, when we want to be right, when we are self-absorbed. Each of us is responsible for our own happiness and it comes from within. When we carry and show our innate joy, we invite others to do the same. Take the high road and be a source of harmony.

“I am here and I’m alive. That’s enough.” – Don Miguel Ruiz

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