Speaking

The Joy of Connection

The Joy of Connection

Thanks to Apple, the “Me” movement is bigger than ever ... and growing. Gadgets, apps and social media drive greater focus on the almighty Me, Myself and I. Corporations with their social media extensions feed our hungry ego's wants to acquire and proclaim itself. We need to find the roadmap to joyful connection and remember how we can change the world together with love.

Avoiding Holiday Meltdowns

Avoiding Holiday Meltdowns

Holidays can bring out the best - or worst in us. Amid commercials depicting cheery families dressed in matching pajamas, there is often a quiet melancholy that drifts into our psyches. We mix fantasy, memories, guilt and mild skepticism into a seasonal beverage that we consume in large quantities. Take extra loving measures such as moving the body, relaxing the mind and planting light into the heart.

Honesty Today

Honesty is such a lonely word
Everyone is so untrue
Honesty is hardly ever heard
And mostly what I need from you
— Honesty, Billy Joel · 1978

Can honesty stand alone?

Practicing honesty has been passed down through generations as a sacred teaching. Our elders, our religions and our leaders have gifted us edicts and encouragement to live in honest ways. They illustrated to us that honesty promotes our evolution as a human family - among the sacred keys to living and co-existing on this planet. Honesty is powerful and demonstrates respect, trust, maturity and strength.

If we recall the last time we were truly honest with ourselves, we may have noticed up-ticks in our health and well-being. Notre Dame Researchers explored the impact of lying on health over the course of 10 weeks. When participants told fewer lies, big or small, physical complaints including headaches and other mental health conditions like depressed moods decreased.

Conversely, honesty has a twin sibling called dishonesty - the way of the shadow. Lying has devastating effects which dis-empower the Self and others. It causes major breakdowns in systems and relationships. The impact of dishonesty shatters people, communities and our world family. None of us escapes from dishonesty’s path of chaos, shame and destruction.

We can agree every human has been touched by honesty and dishonesty throughout their lives. Countless stories in history have taught us we are capable of being fraudulent, of disguising ourselves and of twisting our language to benefit the ego. Although we value honesty more than dishonesty on paper, honesty appears to be a lonely practice, especially in our modern world. It appears we often choose dishonesty. We tell ourselves it makes people feel better. Dishonesty is often used to reward us for what we don’t want to hear or deal with:

  • The truth.

  • Whatever is life-altering, difficult or painful.

  • The experience of reality.

  • Struggle.

BIG questions

  1. Is honesty lonely because we don’t believe in it anymore or because we have lost our way?

  2. Can we map-out fewer paths to dishonesty and more to honesty?

“There is only one Absolute Truth, and all other truths emanate from it. When you find truth, your actions will be in alignment with it. Human action reflects truth or reflects illusion. Can Truth be put into words? Yes, but the words are, of course, not it. (Mere symbols.) They only point to it.”  -Eckhart Tolle,  A New Earth

“There is only one Absolute Truth, and all other truths emanate from it. When you find truth, your actions will be in alignment with it. Human action reflects truth or reflects illusion. Can Truth be put into words? Yes, but the words are, of course, not it. (Mere symbols.) They only point to it.”

-Eckhart Tolle, A New Earth

This amazing quote illuminates the chasm which remains between truth and honesty. To live honestly means aligning with Truth. To live honestly allows us to be free while simultaneously opening our hearts.

Does honesty mean being truthful? If we believe the three truths (Peace, Love, Joy) are eternal, then living our honesty becomes a path toward which we dedicate our lives. This path leads to our highest, Divine Selves and ultimately towards Enlightenment.

Standing up for honesty is hard work.

How to commit to honesty? First take note of what it means to be honest and remain honest. Being honest starts with the inner self choosing Truth to create freedom, peace, love and joy. It orients the whole person to show up with no agenda and no privileged information. “I am honest.” Staying honest is knowing the planet is dependent on us following this Truth. The planet survives by our honest contributions, actions and willingness to serve the world. Just as the Notre Dame researchers discovered the benefits of honesty in individuals, we can barely contemplate the tremendous worldwide impact of how honest intentions can rewrite old stories and mend compromised hearts everywhere.

New York Times writer Judi Ketteler published an article highlighting her attempts at honesty. Her plan? A journey “…to jot down instances throughout the day where I had to make a choice concerning honesty and notice how it felt.” The journey to be 100% honest with her kids, husband, at work and in social media was dissected under her new microscope. The discoveries bolstered Ketteler’s ability to summon courage in the moment, and allowed her inner compass to guide her. Being honest gave her the resolve to stay honest. Ketteler began to notice how this growing influence positively changed her and her world.

Second need to admit that a lie is a lie. Ketteler highlights the work of behavioral economist and author of The (Honest) Truth About Dishonesty, Dan Ariely. His experiments show that individuals cheat “up to the level where they start to feel badly about their own internal sense of integrity.” Contributors to dishonesty include rationalizing our own dishonesty, observing dishonesty in others, and feeling highly distressed.

Ariely offers three pointers on how to increase honesty:

  1. Pledge our name to confirm honesty.
    Use moral reminders before making a choice.

  2. Supervise and hold others accountable.

Honesty builds us up and never lets us down.

If we think about Ariely’s experiments and our low threshold to practice consistent honesty, we need to surround ourselves with honesty's benefits. Quotes, images and phone reminders help keep us on track. For honesty to stick to our bones. we need time for reflection alone or with those committed to the same cause. Honesty builds a framework for eight core anchors to human survival (and thriving):

  • Respect

  • Safety

  • Honoring self and others

  • Tolerance

  • Mutual benefit

  • Character

  • Light-heartedness

  • Connection

We won’t be lost in a dark tunnel once we begin the journey towards honesty. According to the article, Honesty- How it Benefits You and Others, the author sings the praises of a life of honesty. He says signs of honesty reinforce our devotion and lead us to further truth.

What does honesty look like?

The benefits of honesty are endless. What would you add to this list?

  • May make us feel uncomfortable initially, but honesty has a lasting positive effect.

  • Uplifts the heart and spirit.

  • Demonstrates love and compassion for all.

  • Teaches clarity.

  • Promotes generosity and kindness.

  • Brings out gratitude.

  • Generates no regrets.

  • Demonstrates success and responsibility.

  • Feels authentic and genuine.

  • Inspires co-creativity.

  • Moves us from the inside out.

  • Brings dignity to the table.

  • Sets up healthy boundaries.

Reminder!

Don’t kick honesty to the curb to suffer one more day in a dark corner! Shine the light on Living with truth and offering your gifts of peace, love and joy to all beings.

Are you annoyed? Annoying?

When the annoyance bug bites, how do you respond? 

"If you are irritated by every rub, how will your mirror be polished?" - Rumi

"If you are irritated by every rub, how will your mirror be polished?" - Rumi

  • Shake your head right to left a few times?
  • Shoo away the irritating source from your mind?
  • Move on with your day and focus on something else?
  • Let the bug bites accumulate until you reach a crisis state?

The science behind annoying 

Researchers at Olivet Nazarene University (outside Chicago) have surveyed 2,000 working Americans to identify common workplace annoyances. Sixty-six percent (66%) of respondents get annoyed with coworkers on a regular basis. Why? Top annoyance triggers are loudness and complaining (49%), followed by gossip and bullying (32%). 

According to Wikipedia “Measurement of annoyance is highly subjective. As an attempt at measurement, psychological studies on annoyance often rely on their subjects' own ratings of levels of annoyance on a scale. Any kind of stimuli can cause annoyance, such as getting poked in the side or listening to a song repeatedly. Many stimuli that one is at first neutral to, or even finds pleasant, can turn into annoyances from repeated continued exposure.”

For example, there’s a new song on the radio you really like. So does everybody else. The song is played on multiple stations throughout the day. Now you can’t escape and no longer wish to hear it. The repetition and unpredictability of when the song plays can even make you avoid the radio altogether.

Is there a specific equation to determine what annoys us? Not really. Palca and Lichtman, authors of Annoying explored the concept of annoyance and concluded annoyances occur in two steps: 1. A stimulus shows up on our radar (repeating song on radio) that bothers us and  2. an emotional response (irritated, angry) follows. Annoyances also trip our senses, such as the smell of raw onions on a plane, the sight of trash, or being cut off on the highway.

Most of the time we can easily brush aside annoyances and get on with our day. Our thresholds are surprisingly high. However, if we constantly experience annoyance and remain in a state of negativity it’s time to pay attention and redirect our minds.

Here’s Stephanie’s story. Can you relate?

Starting the day

In the morning Stephanie likes to walk with the dogs. Despite an intention to walk for 30 minutes, her low back starts to ache and her swelling feet press against tight shoes. Swollen feet make it difficult to walk. Stephanie tries to push past the pain and keep on walking.

Instead she heads home, drops off the dogs and gets ready for work. She decided her body is going to get worse and she is annoyed.

Working pains

Stephanie heads to work and notices her colleague Brendan isn’t there yet - a typical occurrence.  Brendan shows up late most days, has no excuse and administration turns a blind eye.  Another co-worker wears heavy perfume and bites her nails. Stephanie's supervisor has not yet responded to the only request she has made weeks ago. Stephanie wants to yell at her supervisor and co-workers.  She wishes they would take initiative and be considerate. Stephanie instead shrugs and continues with other tasks. She concludes no one else is shaken by these disturbances.  his further annoys her.

Home life

When Stephanie arrives home the kitchen is a disaster. Family members left food wrappers and leftovers on the island. Dishes are piled in the sink. At the sight of this mess Stephanie wants to scream, curse her family and start cleaning up. Yet Stephanie merely shrugs and walks away. She tells herself her efforts will go unnoticed. She vows not to enable others. In the end as always, Stephanie is annoyed.

At the end of the day

Before bed, Stephanie reflects on the day’s events. She is neither happy nor sad. She feels confused and empty. Her thoughts circle round and round on these questions:

  • Does anyone else notice how irresponsible people are?
  • Does anyone care about others' wellbeing?
  • Is annoyance meant to be a way of life?
  • Is it better to walk away or to speak up?

Annoyance club

Friends call Stephanie and inquire how she’s doing. They exchange their list of grievances. Neither party feels better, but comfort is taken knowing others are also miserable. With her mind and psyche bursting from annoyance, where is Stephanie heading?

The other side of annoying

Because Stephanie is asking questions, a part of her is craving answers and movement. By taking a closer look Stephanie has an opportunity to shed annoyance and make room for a freer, less judgmental life.

Closed vs. Open: In Stephanie's closed mindset she believes no one changes for the better. She has refused any new perspective on the situation - a classic case of cynicism. 

Since she is physically compromised, Stephanie’s first step towards healing is to meet with a professional to explore how to manage pain. She can then focus on setting and achieving her fitness goals.

Judgment vs. Caring: Our human world conditions us to judge. At times it seems impossible to turn off the judgment button and turn on the caring button. In Stephanie’s case, the annoyance button represents accumulated bruises from beating herself up. What remains is disappointment and the anticipation of more on top.

Stephanie is discovering how to disrupt annoying thoughts and switch to caring thoughts. This idea once seemed impossible. With the help of a coach, Stephanie’s mindful shift from judgment to caring is conquering annoyance.

Maintaining vs. Resetting boundaries: Stephanie is tired of telling people how to do their jobs and finish chores. She is tired of chaos. When in a state of chaos our vision for improvement is usually non-existent. Stephanie has chosen to be annoyed rather than look for peace.

Stephanie is learning to reset her boundaries. She now listens to her intuition and her body. When she hears a worn-out judgment tape rising to the surface - or her solar plexus starts churning - it’s time to stop and re-calibrate. Peace of mind and non-judgment are healthy alternatives and result in healthy relationships.

Frustration vs. Humor: A coaching session turning point: How had Stephanie lost her sense of humor? What led to her doing things which brought out misery and suffering?

Stephanie is intent to let in the lighter and brighter side of life. She understands that the desire to shout or yell depletes her energy and robs her good feelings. Today Stephanie laughs at situations that once drove her crazy. The more she laughs the better she feels. Laughter has resurrected her passion for feeling alive and joyful.

Are you annoying? Take this quiz and find out!