New Understanding

It’s strange, but I am understanding new things about the world all the time. I now understand why some middle-aged women cut their hair short (or shorter) — it’s the awkwardness of grey hairs growing in. Another one: some people become alcoholics because they are punishing themselves for something, and are actually slowly committing suicide. One more: when we think of aliens, we think of “the greys,” but they aren’t necessarily real. They became well-known after the TV show “The X Files,” which is just a show, not a documentary!

Freakonomics coverI’ve been reading Freakonomics by Steven D. Levitt and Stephen J. Dubner lately. In it, they look at all kinds of trends and statistics to try and figure out why the world is the way it is. No subject is taboo, and they are careful not to confuse morality with causality; just because something ought not to happen, doesn’t mean it doesn’t. As a result, I have a much better understanding of how urban street-life and drug culture work. The authors actually got financial records from a gang in Chicago, and a sociology student hung out with the gang members and made notes on what he learned. The over-arching theme in Freakonomics is incentive — what makes people do the things they do — and it’s becoming terribly interesting to me. (With my introverted nature, I never really thought about this much before.) The incentive to be a drug dealer? To be recognized, to be popular, to get rich — very similar to an aspiring actor: to be one of the very few to make it big.

Sometimes, I get a new flash of understanding by reading/learning something, and other times it comes as a flash of insight — something more akin to intuition. I had a truly startling flash-revelation when I was in Wrigley. One morning, in that state between sleep and wakefulness, an image and a sentence came to mind: “If I get big enough, maybe they will leave me alone.” The really big girl I had met recently was obese because she was trying to keep men from bothering her. She had been abused and the thought that came through to me was crystal clear. It is sad, but I guess that is her coping strategy… I just don’t know if it’s working.

That flash of insight lead to this:

When you hate yourself, you are less healthy (which includes being overweight).

Many people would say I have it backwards: they hate themselves when they are overweight. But I believe it goes the other way. Why? Because the reverse is true:

When I like myself the most, I am naturally thin and healthy.

It is easy, and it doesn’t seem to matter much what I eat. The “work,” if you want to call it that, is in liking myself, because I’m human too, and sometimes I get into a habit of complaining about myself more than appreciating.

The thing is, you can’t fake liking yourself. Remember how Freakonomics is all about incentives? You can’t ask “what’s my incentive to like myself more? To be THIN!” That just reinforces the idea that you are not okay unless you are thin — a message that has saturated the media, although I am happy to see more normal body images popping up all the time.

But this blog post is not about being thin. It’s about understanding things, and how a new perspective changes everything. So let me summarize a few of my latest revelations:

  • When I tell myself “I don’t feel like being grumpy today. I want to be happy!” I am well on the way to being happy.
  • When I focus on what I have to work with, rather than what I am lacking, I become like MacGyver — solving problems, coming up with innovative solutions, and being a hero (at least to myself)!
  • When I am grateful for everything around me, I am overwhelmed with contentment.
  • When I am happy about who I am, health comes easily.
  • If you’re after fame and fortune, choose acting rather than dealing drugs (it’s a lot safer).
  • No matter the hair style, grey hairs happen!

less grumpy people

Standing on a Whale

I know a man, let’s call him Doug, who recently left his job because he was so unhappy working for that company. He frequently complained about how badly the company treated him, how he was being treated unjustly, and how he wasn’t being paid what he was worth. He often asked for an increase in his wages, but was always denied. To him, it was extremely frustrating and he felt totally unappreciated.

Another friend of mine also knows Doug. From his perspective, this guy Doug was a real jerk every time he dealt with the company about any problems that arose. His manager denied his requests for a raise, most likely, because he was such a sh*t disturber and was always so rude, they couldn’t give him more money on principle. He was difficult to deal with and always had a huge chip on his shoulder.

Well, luckily for him, Doug got another job which paid far more and offered a nice work schedule to boot. He took it, happily leaving the company he had been working for. Wouldn’t you know it, less than three months into his new job, Doug’s new employer has already told him he needs to work on his people skills (read: be less rude). He’s already starting to feel jaded and ticked off at his new employer, and he seems to be making a hobby of meddling in the affairs of his old one.

Can you see it as clearly as I can? This guy is just taking his problems with him wherever he goes. He has not changed, so he is going to keep living out the same themes in his life — being mistreated because he is unkind towards others, and not feeling appreciated because he can’t be bothered to appreciate anyone else.

Once again, the teachings of Joseph Campbell, from The Power of Myth, contain great wisdom about this.

“There is a Polynesian saying:

Standing on a whale, fishing for minnows.

We are standing on a whale. The ground of being is the ground of our being, and outward turned, we see all these little problems, but inward, we are the source of them all. That’s the big mystical teaching.” – Joseph Campbell

Standing on a Whale, by Teresa Griffith

Do you see any recurring themes in your life? What whale are you standing on? You can fish for minnows if you like — look around you for the cause of your problems — or you can realize the whale you are standing on. Put your fishing rod away, look down and think about it. Standing on a whale does not make you a bad person — it just means you’re human. 🙂

Thought-Belief Triangle

Ever heard the expressions

Time is money.


Money is power.

So, if this were an equation, then

Time = Money = power


Time is power.

Does that make sense? If you believe that time is money and money is power, then by logic you also believe that time is power. You have just unearthed a new belief, one that might explain why when you feel short on time, you feel frustrated (powerless), or that you might try to control another’s time when you really want power over them. Now, you can examine the two original statements and see if they are indeed true, if you were somehow fooled into believing one of them, or if perhaps you inherited these beliefs from your parents. You can choose to change them at any time, since a belief is just a thought you keep thinking.

Isn’t this interesting? I call this making a thought-belief triangle. Take two beliefs that have something in common and see if the addition of them makes sense. I did it in my last post too, where I talked about the gut-thoughts-moods connection.

Scientists have proven that our gut chemistry affects our moods, and we all know that thoughts affect our moods, and now I’ve put the other side on our triangle — our thoughts affect our gut.

Be aware, we are applying a scientific principle here, so it may break down with purely emotional things. I find it amazingly useful in uncovering new truths! Let’s try another one. It’s a fairly common belief that

I will get fat if I eat too much.

I will get fat if I don’t exercise.

So, the third belief is:

If I eat too much, I don’t exercise.


I don’t exercise when I eat too much.

What does this tell you? Overeating is really the reason it’s so hard get up and to exercise. If we change our belief that food intake is related to being overweight, then the whole triangle topples down and new truths come out.

Let’s try one more.

Time is money.

Time is limited (there is never enough).

So then

Money is limited.

So, we’ve just uncovered a common belief in the lack of money, and it rests on the belief that time and money are linked, and that time is something we never have enough of. If instead, we start thinking that time is not limited — there is more than enough time to accomplish what we want/need to — then the pressure immediately comes off about money. Alternatively, you could remind yourself that time really isn’t the same as money — poor people have just as much as the rich. Then the triangle comes crashing down and the belief that money is limited may also dissolve, depending on what else you believe about money!

So if your triangle reveals something you don’t want to believe — or something you refuse to accept is true — then take a look at the two initial beliefs and figure out which one you want to change (or feel is flawed). Then, start formulating, wordsmithing, journalling and talking about the new belief instead of the old and see what happens! This is so much fun, I gotta do one more!

The only thing constant is change.

Change is for the better.


The only thing constant is for the better.

Sometimes, the third belief comes out sounding a bit like Yoda! So, you might need to “massage” the words a little. In the above example, this person is optimistic — things are constantly getting better. But if you believe that the world keeps changing for the worse, then the third belief would be “the only thing constant is the world getting worse.” This is a pretty negative chain of thought, and one that’s easy to fall into if you start focusing on change being bad. It IS inevitable, but it doesn’t have to be bad!

Notes: It is easier if you use expressions in the positive. For example, in the “Time is money” case, saying “Money has nothing to do with happiness” might get confusing because of the “nothing.” The third belief would come out as “Time has nothing to do with happiness.” Huh? 😛
Sometimes, you might have to use a synonym to make the phrase work or make more sense. Sometimes you have to read it backwards, like I did in the second example. Or pretend you are Yoda!

What if…

If you are unhappy with your life or yourself and you’re trying to figure out why, let me give you some things to think about:

What if…

  • What if everything you believe about yourself is not true?
  • What if something you believe about yourself is not true?
  • What if everything your parents taught you about how the world works was wrong?
  • What if something you are striving for is not attainable, not ever? Would you strive anyway?
  • What if stopped striving for anything and just allowed yourself to feel inner peace?
  • What if you accepted yourself fully? How would the world change?
  • What if you stopped caring about what you weigh, or how your hair looks, or what other people think of you?
  • What if you stopped checking your facebook?
  • What if you stopped watching the news? Or watching television altogether?
  • What if you started spending more time with yourself, learning how to love yourself?
  • What if you quit a job you hate, even though you don’t have another one yet? What if you believed that you could do something you love as a career?
  • What if some core belief that you have about yourself or about the world is just completely not true? What springs to mind when you read that? There is truth there…
  • What if you only spent time with people you truly enjoy?
  • What if you took more time to appreciate your spouse, and all your loved ones, and never again judged them?
  • What if you played the role of cheerleader for your closest friends?
  • What if you were able to loosen up some of your beliefs about relationships, and roles in relationships?
  • What if you let yourself relax, and not be so hard on yourself?

You have to understand, for half of these I am talking to myself! Maybe you will find some wisdom there… If one really speaks to you, leave a comment!

Ice crystals causing parhelia around the sun

Always Thinking

I have been thinking lately about thinking. I think A LOT! And so do you. We are virtually always thinking — the only times our brains stop is when we are sleeping or deeply meditating. Every other moment of the day, we are thinking about something — or many things all at once. But do you realize what you think about really matters!?

I’ve been paying attention lately to the effects of my thoughts. Sometimes, what I think about actually happens, right in front of my eyes. Other times, it happens later on. Things I consciously think about — especially things I fantasize about or really ponder for a while — Actually. Come. True. It’s neat, but it scares me at the same time! Am I at risk of getting into a car accident because I think about them sometimes? Yes, but I’m also at risk of living, and life is so damn risky, have you noticed!?!? 🙂 (I just can’t sit around doing nothing, so the regular risks of life are okay with me.)

The biggest thing I have noticed though, is how my thoughts make me feel. I have done some experiments on myself 🙂 and tried changing my mood by changing my thoughts. I have found that I can absolutely change how I feel by thinking happier thoughts (I never make myself feel worse, at least not on purpose). I have noticed that sometimes I feel icky because of my negative mode, and if I want to feel better, I can do it. It isn’t instantaneous, but in the course of a minute or so, I can actually make myself happier by just thinking of the feeling of positive anticipation, or reminding myself that the future is bright, and I have lots of good things to look forward to. I don’t even have to get specific, I can just think that I’d like to have more positive anticipation, and if I think that way for a minute or so, I really do start to feel that way. It might take longer if I’m more “down,” but if I’m feeling neutral or bored, it is surprisingly easy.

One key is to stay very much in the moment. You have to be aware of exactly what you are thinking, as you are thinking it (or close). So, that is the first step to being able to change the way you feel. Whenever you feel bad, try to grasp what thoughts led you there. Then, you can go general or distract yourself (read more here).

– – – – – – – – – – – –

I found this cartoon that matches so nicely…

(From here)

The Stain of Complaining

The other evening, a very good friend and I were sitting around the living room, listening to music and talking about our life experiences. We were connecting deeply, and as the night went on, we both fell asleep on the couch. I was so amazingly content — beautiful music playing, cozy living room, lovely company and wonderful conversation. I felt myself rising to a very high vibration — love and appreciation — and I stayed there for a long time, basking, feeling warm, and connecting to my intuition…

My friend was very comfortable on the couch, I could tell. I was too, but suddenly, I felt like my back was cold — it wasn’t covered by any blanket and there must have been a slight draft from somewhere. From my place of pure, clear appreciation, came the stain of complaining. It was positively palpable — I could taste it in the air. It was like those cheesy stain remover info-mercials where they add deep blue and red dye to a clear container of water — the dye churns. My complaining was colouring my mood and I could feel it as clearly as if I was standing outside in the rain. It churned.

I adjusted my position to get warmer and more comfortable, but the mood did not lift immediately. I laid there, thinking about the startling effect my complaining was having on my body. My happy, glowing feeling was gone. I was just back on the couch, mostly comfortable. I felt like I was in my body again — I had been flying so high, I had been somewhat unaware of my physicality for a while. I felt very concrete, but not grounded. It’s difficult to explain.

The effect on my mind was just as obvious. The lighthearted, clear feeling I had been basking in was gone. I was cloudy, confused, even anxious… all from one little complaint. I had a hard time shaking that feeling of complaining, and I even, very briefly, started judging my friend for being comfortable when I was not. Thankfully, since I am in the habit of being aware of my thoughts, I nipped that in the bud — what a ridiculous thing to be jealous of! But that is what complaining does to you — it makes you jealous, cloudy, confused and frustrated, and since I had been feeling so great before, the contrast of those icky feelings was striking.

Of my body, mind and spirit, my spirit was affected the least. Since I was so aware, I didn’t let the complaining go on too long. I let the feeling pass through me, and resettled into a happier state. I keep coming back to the analogy of a cork on water — you have to work quite hard to keep it down. We are the same — when we stop judging ourselves harshly, putting ourselves down or thinking thoughts of lack, we immediately rise up and start to float again. You and I have an invincible spirit, and the very simple, quick act of breathing and coming back to the moment, feeling the goodness of this moment, lets us rise again.

Don’t be Like a Fly

I was cleaning windows today when I came to the one in the porch. This one is out of the way, so it rarely gets looked at or tidied up. The window sill was littered with dead flies, and there was a live one bouncing incessantly, they way they always do, against the glass.

Why do flies do this? I tried to shoo this one away, because I was going to be spraying glass cleaner and it would die if it got sprayed. That fly just wouldn’t be shooed — it was intent on bouncing its head up against the glass over and over again, trying to break through the barrier — invisible but unbreakable (for a fly).

So, I sprayed around it, but the vapours made it woozy and it flew strangely. Eventually, it flew away, and maybe once it turned around, it even saw the open door and flew outside to freedom. This whole experience made me wonder — how are we like the fly, bouncing our heads against a barrier we can’t get through?

Do you have anything in your life that you’ve been struggling with for a long time? Like a fly trying to fly through a window, you think there should be a way through. You can see the light and just can’t figure out how to get to it. You try and try, over and over, but you’re just acting like a fly.

If this is striking a chord in you, don’t ignore it. What is coming to mind right now? Don’t shy away from it — it doesn’t make you a bad person. It just means you’re human. Sit for a minute and think about whatever is coming to you.

So what can you do? If you keep bouncing up against that glass, you might end up like all those other flies — dead on the window sill. I’m not just talking about being physically dead, but emotionally or spiritually dead. It could also be a death of your freedom, creativity, joy, happiness or health. What are you afraid might be dying?

If you don’t want this to happen, just turn around. Stop trying, stop bouncing against the problem and look the other way. Look for the open door. Look at what is lovely and beautiful about your life, about the world, about you. Stop focusing on problems, either in you or in the world around you, and trying to fix them. If you just fly away from them, you’ll find another way to the light, to the great outdoors, and never have to worry about another window again.

There’s a common expression that goes something like “when God closes a door, He opens a window.” I would say “when the window is closed, look for the open door!”

Ridiculous Hope

I stumbled upon this video and it impacted me so greatly, I wanted to share it with all of you!

Can you see how the Law of Attraction is at work in this amazing woman’s life?

Can you see how a positive attitude and love of music saved them, even though from one perspective it seems ridiculous? And it not only saved their lives, it saved their sanity and their lives.

So how could you use this same principle to ignore your dreary or discouraging surroundings — which are far less serious than what they faced — focus on something beautiful or lovely or have fun anyway?

Can you muster up some “ridiculous hope” to help yourself through a tough time?

Just some things to think about!

Changing Perspective

I tweet pretty often now (follow me at LoveYoSkeletons), and I saw a great one today by Deepak Chopra:

Every problem is open to a spiritual solution. It is found by expanding your awareness, moving beyond the limited vision of the problem.

How true. I thought that I might be able to help you with some ideas on how to move beyond your vision of the problem, or change your perspective.

When you are really struggling, really in the thick of things and perhaps even fighting depression, try these thought-starters:

– What might I think about this in 20 or 30 years? Will it seem like such an awful thing then?
– What might my mate or best friend have to say about this? What would his/her perspective be?
– Is this actually life threatening? (Often, we feel afraid like something is life threatening when it isn’t.)

To really make the shift Deepak is talking about, however, we should look into the non-physical realm. Sit quietly, take a few deep breaths and come back to the present moment. Ask yourself (pause after each question to see if an answer “bubbles forth” into your mind):

– What would my angels or spirit guides have to say about this?
– Sometimes there is a solution “out of left field.” It might even seem to be unrelated to the problem. What might that be?
– How could I take better care of myself?

That last one might seem a little “out of left field” too, but if you think about it, when we take better care of ourselves — love and appreciate ourselves — our energy flows more smoothly, our anxiety goes down and the spiritual solution becomes apparent or simply takes care of the problem. It is not complicated: you know how you may have been mistreating or not loving yourself. Connect with Spirit and connect with self-appreciation (and do something fun!) and most problems disappear in the wind.