Try-it-Tuesday: Life is a Verb

Hello, grasshopper. It's spring. Everything around you is changing, moving, building nests and enjoying sunlight.

I bet you have a long To-Do list, one you wrote Sunday night and now it's Tuesday and you're already bashing yourself for being behind (no, I'm not talking about myself — I haven't even MADE a to-do list this week, and I'm not sorry).

Take a few minutes today to check your verbs. What's on your list? Things like call, buy, bring, drive, pick up? Good for you–these are today-list verbs, but they're not the kind of verbs that nourish you, the glorious implied subject of all your well-planned sentences.

“Life is a Verb” is a great book by Patti Digh, but it's also something true. Your life is made of a million little experiences, and then after that a million more. Yes, maybe things happen to you. This is also true. But for the moment, recognize that your awareness of all these happenings is more powerful than you think, and you have the ability to make those verbs be ones that will feed you and make you glad you lived today. How about “smell, read, laugh, cherish, hug?”

Spend some time thinking about what verbs you want on your list today. Then go out and live.


Loving What Is


Recently, I’ve been reading Byron Katie’s book “Loving What Is,” which I consider to be a pretty good introduction to her work. She’s a luminary in the self-help field, and has helped many people to work through their suffering to a place of peace. Pain is inevitable, she says, but it’s your own untrue thoughts about that pain that cause suffering on top of it. Confront those thoughts, and you remove suffering. Katie will argue against your thoughts on anything — heartbreak, cancer. Heartbreak AND cancer.

That’s powerful enough, but that isn’t all of it. The title of her book isn’t “Not Totally Hating What Is,” or “Tolerating What Is With A Tub of Ben & Jerry’s And Some Wine.” It’s not just about putting down those thoughts that conflict with the objective world.

It’s about what you do afterwards. Or maybe about what you don’t. See, what do you have left when you burn yourself clean in your own fires and release all your drama and strain and desperate pleas for things to be different?

You have love.

I just saw this great little video about “The Love Monkey,” about a little monkey who starts off his journey with a perfect, shiny red heart. As he goes about his life, struggling through hardship and insult, his heart wears down. It becomes rough and riddled with fissures, ragged and almost unrecognizable.

At the end of the story, this weathered remainder of his poor little monkey heart is all he has left. He crawls onto the sand, sad and somewhat ashamed.

And some other monkey, with her own roughed-up heart, finds it wonderful.

What’s left at the end of your own difficult, awful, stories? Your own beautiful little hearts.

If I could hug you all and call you ‘sweetheart,’ like Byron Katie does, I would, but I don’t have the gravitas she does. What I do have is this:

Hold up your bruised and crumbling heart like a beacon on a mountain top for us all to see, a message of love and compassion for yourself and others.

It’s what is.

How to Enjoy Your Life More

enjoy your life more

It’s easy to dismiss the people who always look on the dark side of life, but the fact is we all do it. Current brain research indicates that our brains skew to the stick side of the world instead of the carrot. Evolutionarily, this makes sense: success depended far more on worrying that the noises you heard were a bear about to attack you than spending your time thinking that Caveman Og’s smile meant true love. Our brains are wired to notice potential threats way more than they are to chill out and enjoy the moment.

What this means is it’s up to you to right the ratio. If you want to increase your well-being, you need to direct your attention toward positive experiences. It’s not enough to wait for them to happen, piggy-back on other people’s happiness, or keep an anemic gratitude journal. You need to actively participate in an experience, whether you create it or share it. Feel how it feels, so you can recreate it later, too.

You don’t need to feel inspired to do this, or even believe that it will make a difference. The things you do don’t need to be huge — pet a puppy. Eat some good cheese.

Do this a few times a day, and you’ll see your life improve.┬áIf the glass is half empty, don’t bemoan your lack of liquid. Fill It.



How to Set Achievable Goals

Gratitude Journal Tips — Do it in Advance

It’s well-known that keeping a gratitude journal is a proven way to increase positivity and well-being. It’s also been shown that anticipation increases pleasure — if you put off buying something, you tend to be happier with it because not only do you get to enjoy having the object of your desire, but you get to savor the anticipation of having it.

What if we could merge these two concepts? Here’s a thought: identify a few events or situations in your upcoming day that you may not otherwise appreciate or enjoy. Maybe it’s the morning commute, or talking to your boss, or sorting the mail. Think, ahead of time, how you might be grateful for these things: “I’ll listen to some amazing stories on NPR,” “I’ll have a chance to show my competence in a difficult conversation,” or “I’ll get to look through some colorful catalogs and magazines that remind me of how much I enjoy my hobbies.”

Why do this? Because gratitude isn’t a checklist. It’s not an intellectual exercise. It’s a feeling. So why save it for last, when you’re tired and just want to go to bed? Why not plan for it, set a place at your table for it? Studies into well-being have shown that positive emotion is vital for happiness, and one of the ways that we can increase our happiness is to up our instances of experiencing it. There are two ways to do this: wait and expect the universe to deliver it, or go looking. Guess which one works better?

Savor the anticipation. Be grateful ahead of time!



May Meet & Greet

The May Meet & Greet for the new cohort of Martha Beck Cadets is coming up in less than a month! I can’t wait to go to sunny San Luis Obispo.

Thanks to my first “muggles!”

At the moment, I’m training to be a Martha Beck certified life coach. Trainees do a lot of coaching of each other – we’re called “cadets,” but it’s always intimidating to branch out and coach people who aren’t already familiar with the coaching method and the tools we’re using — aka “muggles.”

But, it’s always wonderful to remind myself to just relax and see what magic can happen when people just show up for each other. Because really, that’s what it’s all about. No need to worry about being perfect, or saying the right thing. Just show up.

So thanks for showing up!

Let Me Help You Find Your Way!

Are you muddling along with a vague sense of dissatisfaction or a feeling that your real life is somewhere ahead but never coming close enough to whisper its name? Have you ever felt your heart ache for the wildness of a new future, something lurking at the edge of your vision, yearning to be made real? You know it’s there–you can almost smell it. But how do you find it?

Continue reading Let Me Help You Find Your Way!