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Developing an Abundance Mentality

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Having an abundant outlook is something I have struggled with a lot over the years.  Opening up and accepting that there is more than enough to go around for everyone seems to go against some force of habit I have to make sure my needs are met before I can think about meeting the needs of others.  This is the scarcity mentality.
Although I’m still growing in this area, I feel as though I have grown a great deal over the last few years and that the growth is taking on an upward curve.
I’d like to share why this is happening.
First, what does it mean to have an abundance mentality?  An abundance mentality, made popular by Stephen Covey in his book The Seven Habits of Highly Effective People, is the belief that there are more than enough resources for everyone, which means it is possible to find win-win resolutions.  This is in contrast to the scarcity mentality, which leads to people believing that only one side can truly win in a transaction.  
Second, what are the benefits of an abundance mentality?  The intangible effects on our character occur each time we think and act with the attitude of abundance.   We move closer to reaching our full potential as human beings.  With the exception of feeling good, most the tangible benefits of an abundance mentality are not immediately apparent.  Benefits such as improved relationships, material objects, etc., come much more slowly, but they do come.  This is the law of the attraction so many successful people attribute to being the “secret” to their success.
So how do we achieve this abundance mentality?
Actually, an abundance mentality is not something we gain or achieve.   The abundance mentality is actually an aspect of our true nature.  It has simply been covered it up with the conditioning most of us receive in our natural development as human beings.
The reality is that our minds and bodies are deeply interconnected with the “outside world”.  Although we may know this intellectually, most of us have not had enough personal insight into this truth to break us free of our habitual attachment to the idea that our minds and bodies are somehow completely separate from everything around us.

The practice of mindful investigation of reality can help us to gradually see more clearly the deep interconnection between everything in our world.   In his masterwork, The Law of Success, Napoleon Hill, perhaps the most well-respected expert on success in history, said that the basis for the secrets to success is harmony with all around us, which comes from understanding the interconnected-ness of all things.   
As the truth of the interconnection of “things” becomes more clear, we begin to realize that we are already connected to everything we could ever want or need.  There’s nothing we have to get that isn’t already ours.
In what ways do you see your interconnection to everything around you?

Thanks for reading this post!  As a gift, I’d like to give you this excellent eBook for FREE!  

CLICK HERE to learn more about the eBook, featuring chapters from John Spence, Jeff Klein, Charlie Kim, Michael Carroll, Ted Prince, David Marquet, and Ben Lichtenwalner.

Why Mind Wandering Leads to Unhappiness and Poor Performance

While I was confined to the brig, my secret to happiness was a simple one: train the mind not to wander so much. 
This week, we’ll discuss some fascinating research by Harvard researcher Matt Killingsworth that points out how mind wandering not only leads to poor performance, but to unhappiness as well.
I think it’s pretty obvious that if we’re easily distracted, we’re not going to perform as well at any task as someone who is not so easily distracted.  However, maybe it’s not so obvious that being free from a wondering mind also increases happiness.
When we are free from being pulled around by our thinking, and are fully present with what we’re doing now, we are no longer victims of the comparative thinking that tells us, “You could be happy if you were just someplace else, or if you just had _____.  You’re happiness will come later, at some point in the future.”
When we are no longer caught up in comparative thinking, we realize that the present moment is usually pretty OK.  In fact, I realized that the present moment is actually perfect.  It is our thinking that makes it otherwise.
Of course, those of us who are skeptics immediately think, “What about when the present moment is inherently unpleasant?  Surely it would be better to allow our mind to wander so that we’re not so aware of the unpleasantness.”
Actually, the research found that people with a wandering mind were actually less happy during unpleasant experiences than people who were more present.
One of my favorite quotes from a great master of mindfulness practice was his reply to the question, “What do you practice?”
The master said, “We practice walking, eating, cleaning, and sitting.”
“Everyone does that!”
The master replied, “True.  But when we walk we know we’re walking, when we eat we know we’re eating, when we clean we know we’re cleaning, and when we sit we know we’re sitting.

Here’s a great TED talk that goes into the research a little more.  Enjoy!
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3 Ideas for Being More Charismatic

Have you ever noticed how truly great people have an incredible ability to make you feel as though you are the most important person in the world when they interact with you? 
One of the most important things we can do to dramatically improve our success as leaders is to cultivate the ability to make other people feel important. 
Over the last three years, I’ve spent a lot of time at Shands hospital at the University of Florida, working on our Kids Kicking Cancer program.  Every time I walk the halls of the hospital I am both surprised and amused at how few of the staff members make eye contact as they walk by.  These people are looking at my ID badge instead of at me.
I’ve thought of some fun ways to wake people up from their label-obsession-induced slumber.  The most kind way I could think of is to say, a little louder than necessary, “Hi there fellow human being!”
When we look closely at our mental habits, we can see that we’re constantly labeling and classifying the people around us, aren’t we?
She’s the grumpy, middle-aged, mailroom lady…  He’s the overweight, arrogant, sales guy… She’s the flaky, new-age, granola bar-eating, receptionist…  The mind is always doing this, isn’t it?
If we want to build influence with others and improve our effectiveness as leaders, we need to work at transcending this habit of mind and improve our ability to simply see other people as fellow human beings who ultimately want what we want: To be happy.
Eye Contact and a Smile
A great first step is to make the habit of always making eye contact with people walking by, smiling, and saying, “Hello.”  If this becomes a habit with strangers, it will become a habit with people we work with as well.
While at work, we should greet people by name.   If we don’t know their name, we should learn it immediately.
Wishing Happiness
Once we become more comfortable making eye contact, smiling at, and greeting everyone we walk past (everyone possible anyhow), we’re ready to take it to the next step.  As we’re walking around, we can mentally wish, “May she/he be happy and well,” for each person we see, whether or not she/he makes eye contact with us.
Being Genuinely Interested
Wishing people happiness helps us with the next practice, which is cultivating genuine interest in others.  When we’re genuinely interested in other people, we ask a lot of questions and do a lot of listening.  We look for and comment on the positive we see in people. 
People often say that great leaders have charisma, which is defined as “compelling attractiveness or charm that can inspire devotion in others.”  Practicing these three ideas gives you charisma.  Nothing is more attractive or charming than caring for and being genuinely interested in others.
Do you ever feel as though people only see your label? 

Who do you know that really sees you and is interested in you?  
Thanks for reading this post!  As a gift, I’d like to give you this excellent eBook for FREE!  

CLICK HERE to learn more about the eBook, featuring chapters from John Spence, Jeff Klein, Charlie Kim, Michael Carroll, Ted Prince, David Marquet, and Ben Lichtenwalner.

Being Our Ideal Me

Have you ever done or said something that you wish you hadn’t?  I think we all have.  Why do we do that?
I think we could all agree that the less often we find ourselves in that situation, the better off we are in all areas of life.  So I’d like to share some thoughts on being free from the tendency of doing or saying things we’d rather not, and consistently being what my friend and mentor John Spence calls our “ideal me”.
A major obstacle to being our ideal me is not really knowing exactly who our ideal me is.  I suggest you really think about who is your ideal me, and then write it down.  
What type of qualities do you most aspire to have?  How does the ideal you treat others on a regular basis?  How does the ideal you respond to intense situations, like when someone is treating you unfairly, unkindly, aggressively, or in another way that could give rise to difficult emotions like anger or fear?  
Write these down in the present tense.  For example, “I am kind.  I respond to annoying people with patience and kindness. Etc. “
Once you’ve written a clear, brief description of your ideal me, I suggest that each morning, at some point before getting into the flow of the day, you read out loud your description of your ideal you, so that it becomes firmly planted in your subconscious mind.
Although these first two steps are very important, they will be of little value if we haven’t developed a high level of self-awareness.  When difficult emotions or conditioned, habitual reactions arise, we will find that we forget all about being our ideal me once we get caught by those habitual reactions.
Thus, having a solid daily practice of mindfulness is essential for consistently being the person we want to be, which means being a person of integrity.  
The stronger our practice of mindfulness, the easier it is to see our habitual reactions arise internally and have some space around them.  As long as there is some space between our awareness and whatever thoughts or emotions are present, we are able respond in a way that is in accord with our aspirations.  We can consistently be the person we aspire to be.
A particularly helpful practice for consistently being who we aspire to be is below (it is much more effective if we already have a strong daily practice of mindfulness).
Whenever you notice a thought pattern or emotion that is not in accord with your ideal me:
  1. Mentally note the emotion/thought and stop interacting with the perceived cause of the reaction except to ask for a moment or excuse yourself.
  2. Take 1-3 consciously controlled breaths.  This stops the emotive response in the body.
  3. Investigate the emotion with awareness.  What is anger like in the body?
  4. Take a moment to think of how you would like to respond to the situation or person in a way that is in accordance with your ideal me.

This is one of the most powerful practices I know of.  Please let me know if you use it and how it works for you.

May kindness and compassion inform all you do,

We’re Always Getting What We Need

Fascinated by the amazing links I am finding between the benefits of mindfulness and realizing success in life, a couple years ago I did a lot of studying on this topic of “success”.  I recently finished Napoleon Hill’s masterwork, The Law of Success, which was the result of over 30 years of research that included personal conversations with hundreds of the most successful people in the world, including Andrew Carnegie, who rose from poverty to become a great businessman and philanthropist.
Napoleon Hill often taught how extremely important faith is in regards to achieving whatever it is that we set out to achieve in life.  He wasn’t referring to faith in any particular dogma or God, per se, but self confidence and faith that we are always receiving exactly what we need to learn and grow, in each and every moment.
For me, the practice of mindfulness has allowed my faith in this last truth to become unshakeable.  I am certain that although I may not be getting what I want, I am always getting exactly what I need to help me grow and develop as a human being.  This faith makes life absolutely amazing!
I believe that mindfulness has been so powerful in strengthening this faith because it allows us to verify the truth of it in small ways quite often.  We learn quickly that unpleasant experiences are incredible teachers.  By investigating these situations with mindfulness, they not only help us develop a strong character, but often lead to deep, transformative insights that result in significant shifts consciousness.

We start with little things like itches, annoying noises, and aches and pains, and before long, we see even more serious “problems” as exactly what we need to learn and grow.  This leads to a sort of perpetuating cycle of increased faith.  As we continue to see the benefits we are receiving in the form of difficulties, we put more energy into our practice of mindfulness, which leads to more direct experience of the truth, which leads to more energy, etc.
Thanks for reading this post!  As a gift, I’d like to give you this excellent eBook for FREE!  

CLICK HERE to learn more about the eBook, featuring chapters from John Spence, Jeff Klein, Charlie Kim, Michael Carroll, Ted Prince, David Marquet, and Ben Lichtenwalner.

The Infinite Value of Human Connection

Some time ago, I had a layover in the Charlotte airport on my way back to Gainesville.  It was lunchtime and I hadn’t eaten since the night before, so I decided to have some pizza and veggies while on my long layover.  
As I approached the restaurant, I was greeted by a very nice, middle-aged Indian woman with a wonderful smile, standing behind the glass case holding the food, and just barely able to see over the top of it.  
We had a very pleasant interaction for 20-30 seconds before I got to the business of selecting the pizza I would eat. 
I ended up sitting down at a table that allowed me to watch people approach her and order.  What I saw made me a little sad.  
I noticed that each person in the first six groups of people who approached her interacted with her in the exact same way.  They made no eye contact with her.  
When she asked how they were doing, they either didn’t answer at all, or just replied “OK” and immediately placed their order, without asking her how she was doing or even making eye contact.
I feel pretty confident in predicting that none of these people are very happy or successful.
Finally, a well-dressed young man arrived who looked like he was in a bit of a hurry.  Nevertheless, he looked the woman in the eyes, asked her how she was doing, and had a nice interaction with her for 15-20 seconds or so before placing his order.
I feel pretty confident in predicting that this young man is quite successful and happy.
If there is one key determining factor for success in life, no matter how we define success, I believe it is the ability to connect with other people in a way that results in a positive interaction.  Not only is having this ability essential for financial success, it is central to living a deeply fulfilling and happy life.  
The most successful people are the ones who can most consistently connect with people in positive, mutually helpful ways.
Napoleon Hill, who studied thousands of the most successful people in the world over a period of 20 years while working with Andrew Carnegie to produce the masterwork The Law of Success, often pointed out the absolute necessity for being able to consistently have positive, cooperative interactions with others.  
There is a passage in Law of Success where he pointed out how 9 out of 10 people he interviewed, who reported not being successful or happy, stated that the reason for their failure was that “opportunities just didn’t seem to come their way”.  
Hill then wrote that he is absolutely certain that if he were to observe these people for a day, he could point out numerous opportunities that they missed simply because of the negative interactions they had with people.
How valuable is positive human connection?  I would say it’s priceless.  But here’s a short story illustrating how it’s worth at least $1 billion.
Many years ago, an athletic, “popular” young man we’ll call Andrew, worked at a movie theater with a young man we’ll call Steven who, self admittedly was a little quirky and “nerdy”.  Despite their differences in levels of “coolness”, Andrew treated Steven with a lot of respect, and they ended up developing a strong relationship.  
Some years later, Steven was working at the local utility company in a position of influence.  Andrew applied for a position there, and Steven, remembering what solid character Andrew had, helped him get it.  
A few years after that, the two started an energy marketing company based on the experience they gained at the utility company, which now employs around 400 people, generates about $1 billion/year in revenue, and made them both multi-millionaires.  
Please, make it a habit to leave each person – even the woman taking your order at an airport restaurant – a little better off than you find them, even if you’re not feeling up to it.  

Thanks for reading this post!  As a gift, I’d like to give you this excellent eBook for FREE!  

CLICK HERE to learn more about the eBook, featuring chapters from John Spence, Jeff Klein, Charlie Kim, Michael Carroll, Ted Prince, David Marquet, and Ben Lichtenwalner.

The Magic of Giving

This simple little ad from Thailand made me cry.  But they were good tears; tears of inspiration.

The ad reminds us of how magical giving can be on three different levels.

We Benefit in the Worldly Sense

The first and most obvious benefit of giving is that people we’ve given to are likely to give back when we are in need, as the doctor does in the ad.

I talk a lot about giving when I interact with people before or after I give a speech.  I’ve heard numerous similar stories of people who gave without any expectation of getting anything in return, and were later the recipients of generosity when they were in need.

One example was of a man who mowed his neighbors lawns every time he mowed his lawn for years.  When the man fell ill and went to the hospital, he worried that his lawn and his neighbors lawns would go un-mowed.

But his daughter informed him that one of the neighbors immediately took up the tradition of mowing the lawns when he heard what happened.  No one had to ask the neighbor to do it.

We Receive the Benefit of Happiness

Even better than worldly benefit, giving makes us happy.  Research has shown that altruistic acts create happiness that has a deeper impact and lasts significantly longer than when we do things only for ourselves.

Also, people who witness an altruistic act receive the same amount of happiness that we receive from actually performing the act, which you probably noticed while you watched the video.

The Impact Could Be Tremendous

We never now how far one act of giving will go to impact our world.  In the video, one simple act of giving kept a boy from getting in trouble with the law.

Had he been arrested, he might have never become a doctor.  By preventing this with a simple act of generosity, imagine how many lives could be positively impacted by the actions of the generous man.

What can you do today to be more generous to those around you?  What could the impact be?

Thanks for reading this post!  As a gift, I’d like to give you this excellent eBook for FREE!  

CLICK HERE to learn more about the eBook, featuring chapters from John Spence, Jeff Klein, Charlie Kim, Michael Carroll, Ted Prince, David Marquet, and Ben Lichtenwalner.

How To See Opportunities Everywhere

For the last couple years, despite the struggling economy we’ve all slogged through, I’ve noticed something quite interesting.  I’ve been gradually seeing more and more opportunities.

In fact, my biggest challenge right now is determining which opportunities I should focus on most.  I am spending a good deal of time planning ways to pass opportunities off to others so that I can be more focused on the ones where I can have the greatest impact.
I’d like to share a little bit about why I think I’ve been gradually seeing more and more opportunities, and how you can do the same.
Since I began diligently practicing mindfulness, I’ve noticed a steady increase in my ability to see opportunities where most people see only problems.  I think there is a very simple explanation for this.
One of the core aspects of the practice of mindfulness is to face our things that bother us, things that are difficult, and things that are unpleasant or uncomfortable with a curious attitude of investigation. 
At first we do this on faith, as we’re told we might learn to be free from suffering if we practice in this way.  With continued practice though, we start to see the amazing results of fully facing and investigating the unpleasant aspects of life.
As we see these results, we begin to welcome things that are difficult, unpleasant, or uncomfortable, knowing that these are our greatest teachers and that facing these things results in opportunities to learn, grow, and serve others.
This ability to open ourselves to what most people try so hard to avoid or get rid of, results in a whole new way of seeing the world around us.  Instead of seeing problems, we see only opportunities.  It starts with little things like itches, discomfort, and difficult emotions, but gradually expands to encompass all of experience.  

Thanks for reading this post!  As a gift, I’d like to give you this excellent eBook for FREE!  

CLICK HERE to learn more about the eBook, featuring chapters from John Spence, Jeff Klein, Charlie Kim, Michael Carroll, Ted Prince, David Marquet, and Ben Lichtenwalner.

A Mind Like The Ocean: A Practice for Being Free From Stress

One of my favorite metaphors for the fruits of the practice of mindfulness is cultivating a mind that is like an ocean – open and spacious.
Most of us have surely had days where so many things went “wrong” that we felt as though if just one more thing went “wrong”, we would lose it.  I know I’ve certainly had days like that.  It seemed as though the mind was just absolutely full and there wasn’t room to handle even one more frustrating situation.
With the continued practice of mindfulness, we tend to notice that the mind gradually becomes more spacious.   Sometimes, especially while sitting still in mindfulness, the mind seems so expansive and spacious that it is just like a vast ocean, with almost endless room between the thoughts and feelings that arise.
With this spaciousness comes a gradually deepening sense of “There’s room for this.”  We develop a wonderful capacity for being able to be confronted with increasing amounts of challenging situations without losing this sense of, “There’s room for this too.  This is no problem.”
Ultimately, it is insight into the fact that our thoughts and our feelings are not we are that allows the mind to become and remain more spacious.  However, there are some skillful means that we can employ to get a sense of this while sitting in mindfulness.  My favorite practice is to open the mind by becoming aware of and kindly accepting increasingly larger areas around me.
I start with gently smiling to the body sitting in the room I’m in for a few breaths, noticing whatever comes in through the senses.  Then, I continue to expand in the same way to my neighborhood, my town, my state, the country, and then the whole planet.
With a mind that’s more open and spacious, I then return to simply being aware of the mind and body.  I notice that there seems to be a little more space between the thoughts that arise in the mind.  Thus, it becomes easier to actually see or hear a thought arise in the mind, bring it up so it’s fully conscious, and see or hear it fade away, leaving me observing an empty, silent mind.

Seeing thoughts arise and pass away in this way makes it very clear that I am not my thinking.  Thoughts are just things that arise and pass away.  It is this insight into the fact that we are not our thinking that allows the mind to gradually remain more spacious, able to handle increasingly difficult situations in life with perfect peace.

Does your mind often feel as though it’s too busy and full?  Would you like to have a mind like the ocean?

Thanks for reading this post!  As a gift, I’d like to give you this excellent eBook for FREE!  

Just CLICK HERE, and I’ll send you this eBook, featuring chapters from John Spence, Jeff Klein, Charlie Kim, Michael Carroll, Ted Prince, David Marquet, and Ben Lichtenwalner.

The Power of Smiling

If you are practicing awareness or mindfulness as part of your personal development training, you’ll notice that when you awaken with the perspective of mindfulness, and are no longer caught in your thinking, you are free to choose how you respond to whatever you are experiencing. Why not choose to smile?

If we’re angry, we can notice that, and smile to our anger.   If we’re sad, we can smile to our sadness. When we see a person, we can smile to that person.
There are so many positive effects that result from smiling, including the feeling of joy, relaxation, improved functioning of the nervous system, being more attractive to others, and even living a longer, healthier life!
Below is a wonderful, 7-minute TED talk on many of the incredible benefits of simply smiling.
In addition to all of the wonderful benefits for ourselves that result from smiling, I truly believe that smiling is one of the most important things we can do to create positive change in the world around us.
I think it’s very easy to feel as though what we do in our daily life is having little or no impact on the world around us. But this not so! Each moment of our life has an incredible impact on the world around us.
We are almost all familiar with the “Butterfly Effect”. Although this is an analogy, it is certainly not fiction. Little, local events do lead to large, global events.
If a butterfly flapping her wings can ultimately lead to a change in the global weather pattern known as El Niño, imagine what your smile can do! Without any doubt, your smile could save the world!

Putting this into practice is so simple. Whenever you wake up with the perspective of mindfulness, smile a little (or a lot)! You are free from your thoughts and feelings, so why not choose to smile? You’ll benefit significantly, the people around you will benefit, and, who knows, you just might save the world while you’re at it!

Thanks for reading this post!  As a gift, I’d like to give you this excellent eBook for FREE!  

Just CLICK HERE, and I’ll send you this eBook, featuring chapters from John Spence, Jeff Klein, Charlie Kim, Michael Carroll, Ted Prince, David Marquet, and Ben Lichtenwalner.