Have you ever had something you really wanted or needed to change, but never seem to manage it? Or how about a change you were able to make for a short time, but before long slipped back into your old routine? You are not alone. Unfortunately, while we all tend to think that with a strong desire and enough will-power we can change anything about ourselves we choose, that is only partially true. Sure, a strong desire is important, and self-discipline is necessary, but as I’ve recently learned we all have an innate “immunity to change” that can keep us stuck in old habits and behaviors. It is that unrecognized, self-protective immunity that makes change so difficult. For those of us who are on a quest to know ourselves better as life goes on and to make positive changes when necessary, learning how this immunity works is juicy stuff.
For as long as I can remember I have been seeking happiness. Back in high school when someone asked me what I wanted to be when I grew up—I said “happy.” I convinced myself that the pursuit of happiness was not only our self-evident right, but that it was equal to the unalienable rights of life and liberty. (Remember the constitution?) I think I’ve read every book with the words happy and happiness in them ever written. And while I am mostly always happy, there are days when it isn’t easy. Then recently I’ve read a couple of books that have me questioning that pursuit on a much deeper level. Is it possible I’ve been seeking the wrong thing? And is it possible that what most of us want when we say we want happiness isn’t located where we’ve been looking?
In January of 2022 I selected the word surrender for my word of the year. Often referred to as WOTY, it is customary for people to pick a particular word to hold in their mind, and perhaps guide them, throughout the year. I wasn’t entirely sure why I selected surrender, only that it seemed like the perfect next step after using “trust” as my word for 2021. As things happen, surrender became more and more meaningful to me as the year unfolded. Then recently I reread a book from several years ago by Michael A Singer. That book, titled The Surrender Experience is Singer’s follow-up to his first book the untethered soul—the journey beyond yourself. Together, those two books are helping me recognize my own surrender experiment and where I hope to go from here. [Read more…]
I’m not sure why I requested a review copy of the book Trust & Inspire—How Truly Great Leaders Unleash Greatness In Others by Stephen M.R. Covey, but I did. Like many of you, I don’t have a business or employees. Not only do I not manage other people, I sometimes don’t seem to manage myself that well either. But I do deeply admire the author’s father—the late Stephen Covey author of 7 Habits of Highly Effective People, so the name caught my attention. And when I think about it, the idea of trust has been on my mind as well. Do I truly trust myself to do what I say I will do? Do I trust those around me? Do I trust the products I buy and/or the businesses that sell them? Do I trust my government? As Covey points out, if trustworthy people don’t see others as trustworthy (even if they are) then trust is absent. And is that the kind of world I want to live in?
Have you ever heard the saying, “If you aren’t outraged, then you aren’t paying attention?” After all, with all the suffering in the world right now, is the choice to stay calm and centered or happy the right response? How can we stay alert and aware of what’s going on in the Ukraine, with COVID, the climate crisis, rising food prices, etc. etc. and not feel motivated to respond with outraged action? Actually, there is another way. And that way is called the Tao. I was recently given an excellent reminder of that possibility when asked to review the book, The Tao of Inner Peace by Diane Dreher Ph.D. While I’m not exactly a stranger to the Tao, this book offered me clear instruction and insight as to why our inner peace is so very primary. And the more chaotic the circumstances in the world and in our lives, the more we need to access that inner peace. For it is only there that we can ever truly make a difference for ourselves and others. [Read more…]
Richard Leider, co-author of the new book, Who Do You Want To Be When You Grow Old? highlights four things that many seniors feel are missing in older age. Those four things, along with numerous other gems of wisdom, are included in this book that was sent to me to review. And while I don’t know about you, with my 66th birthday happening later this month I grow increasing interested in such topics. Plus, as a person who has suffered from FOMO (fear-of-missing-out) much of her life, I don’t want to be one of those used as an example with such regrets. In fact, not only do I not want to miss anything that will keep me from experiencing what the authors call “the good life”, I look forward to becoming all I can become as I grow older.
Sports have never been my thing. Sure I like to play at a few sports—like pickleball, golf and swimming but usually only with likeminded friends that are there like me, to have fun and socialize—not sweat. So when I heard a recent podcast by Brene Brown interviewing a woman named Abby Wambach, I only vaguely knew who she was. For those of you who are even less familiar than I was, Wambach is a two-time Olympic gold medalist with a ton of other accolades and awards including the highest all time national soccer goal scorer for women and 2nd for international soccer goals for both women AND men. That’s a big deal! At 40 she is retired and has gone on to write a couple of books. Regardless of whether you are a sports fan or not, this impressive woman is able to offer a unique perspective for women of all ages in our times. I found her New Rules to be excellent reminders as we collectively co-create a better world for us all.
Looking back I realized I haven’t written about positive aging in nearly a year. Sure I believe it is still possible and highly desirable. However, nothing new presented itself that hadn’t been said before, or was compelling enough to share. Plus if I’m honest, my brain was more interested in just getting through the day/month/year, with all the upheaval in my life and the world, than it was to expand my thinking. Then a couple of months ago I was offered a book from a renowned French philosopher about aging that had me asking myself whether he might offer something new on the subject. Not only did the book have me rethinking some of my preconceived notions about aging and happiness, but it also required that I look up more words in the dictionary than I have in years. While I’m the first to admit I’m usually more attracted to pop-psychology, I’m fairly certain that continuing to stretch our minds and perspectives is one of the healthiest things we can do if we want to age in a positive way.
In another lifetime I am certain I would have become a social scientist. I love learning about why I and other people think and do things like we do. So naturally when I stumbled upon a new interview of author and Wharton Business School Professor Adam Grant, I couldn’t wait to hear his thoughts. Just to be clear, I haven’t yet read his new book Think Again—The Power of Knowing What You Don’t Know. But I was so excited about his ideas from several interviews that I simply couldn’t wait to put some of them down on paper and share them with you. Call it cheating if you want, I like to tell myself I have yours and mine best interests at heart. Undoubtedly, that is just another example of how we can easily fool ourselves into believing what we believe is true for everyone. So yes, there is power in being willing to know you can’t be certain about those many things you think you know.
I’ve never read The Divine Comedy otherwise known as Dante’s Inferno. From what I’ve heard it is difficult to understand or make much sense of, so why bother? That was until I read an interpretation offered by author Martha Beck in her soon to be published book, The Way of Integrity. While I’m unlikely to drop everything and rush out to get a copy of Dante’s classic, I have come to appreciate the metaphorical ideas and mystical inspiration that it contains. But perhaps more important, Beck uses it as a road map for meeting our inner selves and following a path to inner wholeness and ultimate wellbeing. And who couldn’t use a bit (or a lot) of that these days?