Wednesday, June 29, 2005

Exhaustion sets in!

My wife and daughter have been in New York for five days now visiting her best friend from college. My strength is waning taking care of two little rascals, doing the radio show and all the other necessary work. Fortunately, my wife and daughter return on Thursday - reason for hope!

Hermann and I just did a radio interview with Sharon Hughes, the host of Changing World Views which is on KDIA, 1640 AM also, along with 7 other radio stations. I wanted to share with you some of the info that we shared with Sharon as you may find it useful.

We are just now discovering what people can do to create and sustain happiness. Psychology has always asked: What is wrong with you?

Now psychology is asking: What is right with you? What are your strengths?
Our goal is to help people move from surviving to thriving.

Psychology just learned in 1998 that no matter how old we are, we have the ability to change our behaviors, thoughts and feelings. The human brain is easily altered. It is very open to suggestion. Not only can music and television alter your brain, as I mentioned before, your very thoughts and feelings have the ability to change the physical make-up of your brain. This is good and bad news.

On one hand, it means that you have the ability to change your brain for the better.

On the other hand, you must be cautious what you expose yourself too. Remember, your senses take in over 4 billion bits of information per second. You are only consciously aware of 2,000 of those bits per second. This means that your mind is constantly taking in seed thoughts and you are not even aware of it.

You find that for which you are looking. So if you?re pessimistic, you will look for and find evidence to support your pessimism. If you?re optimistic, you?ll look for and find evidence to confirm your optimism. And, on average, optimists live seven and a half years longer than pessimists.

Philippians 4:8 says: Whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is gracious ... think about these things.

Monday, June 20, 2005

Are you a Chicken or an Eagle?

Once upon a time, an eagle's egg fell out of its nest and landed softly on the ground in a chicken's nest. The mother chicken was warm and nurturing. She adopted the eagle egg and kept it warm along with her other eggs. The eaglet hatched with the brood of chickens and all were raised by the mother chicken.

As he grew up, the eaglet learned to do exactly what the young chickens did. They ran around on the ground, flapped their wings in vain and fled from predators. The whole time the eaglet thought, felt and believed he was a chicken. He scratched the earth for worms and small insects. He jerked his wings about only to get a few feet in the air and came back down to earth.

Many years passed, and the eagle grew old. Suddenly, he noticed a glorious creature soar through the air above him. The magnificent bird was hard to see with the sun behind him. The bird flew in a majestic manner, pumping its powerful, golden wings effortlessly to remain aloft on the currents of the wind.

The elderly eagle watched this regal sight in wonder and admiration. "What type of creature is that?" he asked his friend.

"That is the eagle, king of all the birds," replied his friend. "The sky belongs to him. The earth belongs to us. We're chickens." So the eagle lived and died as a desert chicken, for that's what he believed he was.

Are you an eagle or a chicken? It is my hope that you will chose to be an eagle soaring to heights which only you can imagine. For the difference between one who lives life as a chicken and one who lives as an eagle is completely within your control. If you are not aware of whom you are and what you want, then others may tell you who you are and what you want. That gets confusing and makes it harder to discover who you really are. On the other hand, if you know who you are and what moves you, then it is your choice how to live your life. Master your thoughts and feelings and you will master life.

Catching Your Negative Thoughts

What you think means more than anything else in your life. More than what you earn, more than where you live, more than your social position, and more than what anyone else may think about you. George Matthew Adams

I am writing the script for tomorrow's radio show (KDIA, 1640 AM, 5 pm) which will be on mastering your thoughts. This means challenging your negative thoughts which typically run rampant through the minds of most people. These little buggers are fast and hyper-critical. You have to be on your toes to catch them. There are three steps to mastering your thinking:

1.) Become aware of your negative thoughts which I refer to as Gremlin thinking
2.) Challenge each negative thought
3.) Replace negative thoughts with positive thoughts

These are ways in which your mind distorts incoming information to make you feel lousy and worthless. Think of them as ways in which your mind lies to you with the intent of making the situation worse than it really is. Here are the some of the nine types of Gremlins:

1. Mind Reading
The mind reading Gremlin tells you that you know that another person is thinking something bad about you without any confirmation of this from the other person. One of the concepts I have learned over the years is that many of us think that 99% of what other people do is a direct result of something we have done, said or thought. In truth, only 1% of what other people do is directly related to something we have done. The other 99% is due to their own stress level and daily events. For example, a negative look from your boss may mean nothing more than he or she ran into a lot of traffic on the way to work. You do not know. You cannot read minds. I have over 10 years of training in human behavior and I still can't read the mind of another person.

2. Fortune-Telling
The fortune telling Gremlin puts forth a negative outcome to a situation before it has taken place. To some extent, your mind makes happen what it sees. It creates self-fulfilling prophecies. Unconsciously, predicting failure will often increase your chances of failing. For example, if you say,
I know I will screw up my big presentation,
then you will likely not prepare enough, or get anxious during the presentation, and make a costly mistake at your presentation.

3. Always or Never Thinking
This automatic negative thought take place whenever you think words such as
every time, or
These thoughts are absolutes which can change your behavior. For example, I have a friend who asked for a raise. She was turned down. She told herself that she would never get another raise. This Gremlin prevented her from asking for another raise for nine months, despite the fact that she deserved it.

4. Guilt Beatings
Guilt-based Gremlins occur when we are overwhelmed by thoughts such as
I should have done
I'm bad because
I must do better at
I have to
I ought to have

The key words to watch for are should, ought, have to, and must. These are tip-offs that you are dealing with guilt beatings. Guilt is quite good at making us feel bad. It is a terrible motivator of behavior.

5. All or Nothing Thinking
All or nothing thinking occurs frequently when you are in a bad mood and view the world in absolutes – black or white, all or nothing, good or bad, possible or impossible. The world is never as simple as either/or. The world does not lend itself to such dualities and dichotomies. It is too complex for such simplicity.
We see this type of thinking frequently at home with children when, on a rainy day, they tell us,

Dad, there’s nothing to do. We’re bored.

Obviously, the child with this thought is feeling tired and/or bored. But the thought itself is not rational, nor is it true. How can it be true when the child is surrounded by other children, toys, games, balls, and art supplies? The point is that these thoughts must be noticed and then disputed. Otherwise, they are believed as if they were true.

Other examples of all or nothing thinking include thoughts like
I am the worst father on the planet and
None of the kids like me and
If I do well on this presentation, then my boss will like me and give me a raise, but if I blow it then he will not like me and will fire me.

Other examples include
I hate myself. I’m all bad. There is no good in me and
I am completely stupid and
I am 100% worthless.

None of these thoughts are true. Yet, if we do not dispute and challenge them, we risk them becoming the truth.

All or nothing thinking is very, very rarely right. Ninety-nine percent of the time these thoughts are lies. Typically, these thoughts are fueled by negative emotions. When you notice all or nothing thinking, take a step back and look at what you are feeling. If you are feeling angry, sad, or ashamed, it’s a good bet your thought processes are lying to you. To the extent possible, remove yourself from the situation, so you can breathe, relax, release the feeling and recharge.
Every time you become aware of such a thought, challenge it. Is it based on fact? Is it true? Is it rational? When you challenge such thoughts, you remove their power over you which enables you to live up to you potential rather than drown in your fear.

Whether you think you can or think you can't, you are right.
— Henry Ford

Question: What do you think you cannot do?

I hope this day finds you well and free from Gremlin thinking!

Wednesday, June 15, 2005

The Passionate Life

"The dangers of life are infinite, and among them is safety." Goethe

It's been nearly two weeks since my last blog entry. In that time, we've created a new type of talk radio show and recorded the first five shows.

I also found out that my wife and I are expecting our fourth child! It's an amazing thing. Part of the reason it's so amazing is that I was content with two (or even three) children. Yet, my wife had a dream of having four children. And we have a long-standing agreement that we do our utmost to support each other's dreams.

Soooo, after several years of himming and hawing, I finally agreed to try for a fourth child several months ago.

My wife and I asked our three existing children if they would help out if we were to have another child (because Dad would need HELP!).

My daughter (age 10) quickly agreed. She's been in the conspiracy (along with her mother) for a fourth child for years.

My oldest son (age 8) told us he would help out as well.

My youngest son, age 4 1/2, said he would help if he had to, which I thought was pretty good for his age.

Having the kids buy into the whole thing helps out a lot. It should reduce feelings of resentment, anger and jealousy a touch.

"In motivating people, you've got to engage their minds and their hearts. It is good business to have...(people)...feel part of the entire effort." Rupert Murdoch

I agreed to have a fourth child once I realized that the main reason I was NOT was that I was afraid - afraid I wouldn't have enough love, time or patience to deal with another child. Once that realization came to awareness, I knew that I had to go forward with completing our family of four.

Fear is an insufficient reason to NOT do something. Fear makes us small and diseased. We cannot let fear rule us. We can listen to it, heed it, and thank fear for its input. But we cannot and must not let it dictate our lives.

You have to overcome your fear to reach passion.

"The most powerful weapon on earth is the human soul on fire." Field Marshal Ferdinand Foch

Questions to Ponder: What makes you passionate? What steps are you taking to achieve or sustain that passion?