Suffering is Optional

sufferingoptional“You can’t control the wind, but you can adjust your sails.” – Yiddish saying

Any adult can tell you that life is not linear and yet as human beings don’t we plan and create. What we know to be true beyond a doubt at this very moment may be changed or challenged in the next. As convinced as we are that the “terrible twos” of childhood are seemingly endless, fasten your seatbelt for the traumas of the teen years.

Yes, you may have a perfect life, the ideal career, fulfilling relationships, supportive friends, significant wealth and terrific health yet you may still be suffering. What is your daily dance about? Is it worry, anxiety, excessive thinking and more that might be keeping you from fully living your life?

We poke and prod, plan and plan even more in anticipation of the future and making it manageable and perhaps creating our notion of perfection. We cannot control the future and living there only increases our anxiety in the present. The more we resist whatever is happening now, the more we suffer and the more it persists.

                                       Suffering = Change x Resistance
According to the author Steve Mitten, “The suffering you experience is equal to whatever resistance you give to the changes you experience in your life.” Once you accept whatever comes as a fact rather than purposeful acts to ruin your life, you can stop your personal suffering, step back and focus your energy on the reality of a situation, not the fantasy of what you wish it to be.

Helen Keller is often partially quoted, “When one door of happiness closes, another open.” However, her complete thought adds.”… but often we look so long at the closed door that we do not see the one which has been opened for us.”

• What are your habits that may spiral into suffering?
• How willing are you to step into appreciation instead?
• Choose 1 action today that will focus your thoughts on the open door?

© 2017 Maureen Weisner

Procrastination is the Thief of Time

slowdown500How much do we actually accomplish when fully engaged in avoidance mode? What does it take to get back on track?

Five frogs are sitting on a log. Four decide to jump off.
How many are left? FIVE
That’s the difference between deciding and doing!

Even the most motivated people are not always on task. Often the most seemingly busy people, those constantly occupied, are in reality accomplishing very little. Yet, the TV watcher, who we can readily identify is perhaps the most honest of all…doing nothing.

When you are in action; cleaning, reorganizing, or purging the space, it feels like you are industrious. Activity like this is measureable, producing immediate results, unlike the outcomes from other endeavors that may not be so obvious.

One client, who dreaded tax season, always scheduled a major home renovation simultaneously, compounding her anxiety. Her assumption was that as long as she was going to be sequestered in her home office anyway, she could also supervise the other projects too. After the “dust” settled, we looked at the consequences of her actions and how this compromised her relationships, health and overall well being. The physical upheaval around her made it easier to avoid focusing on the task at hand, her tax filings, which were the priority. Once she was able to see that it was possible to do some preparation monthly, her calendar became her most effective tool. With long term goals in place for the year ahead, she was able to space projects, arrange her time commitments accordingly and never have a contractor near her home in the spring.

• What are you procrastinating about?
• What is one small step that you can take now?
• Write it down
• Put it in your calendar
• Do it!


What is Being on the Edge?

563534_622994991086589_2108856561_nIt reminds me of carrying a tray of over filled coffee cups and watching the liquid slosh over the sides. While my intense concentration on each step was not the sole reason for this less than stellar presentation, it made the experience unnecessarily nerve wracking. So concerned was I with how I looked that my self-judgments just underscored my nervousness. Only when my arms relaxed and my focus was forward was I able to reduce or eliminate the spillage.

Many times I have been on the edge and many times I have sat on the ledge. Sitting for the short term, like the downhill skier briefly resting, provides that space in which to regain one’s composure or gain a new perspective before continuing. Think of it as the scenic view, designed for a quick stop rather than a long term lease.

• What’s behind door #1 or #2 or #3?
• What if you had access to the answer keys in advance? Would you use it?
• What if you always knew the right/best decision to make?
• What is the impact? How colorful or in fact, colorless would your life be?

Dream BIG and focus small and if you fail, do it BIG and FAST.  We get so caught up in the questions that we forget the joy and possibility that may just be around the corner. It’s a confidence builder to just get going.

  • Is there an inherent fear in having big dreams?
  • What if you were to fail in an astonishingly BIG way?
  • What is most unnerving, having the dream or imagining it is unattainable and therefore not possible.

Being on the edge means being uncomfortable. It means not knowing that you will attain your goals/dreams with any certainty. Risk is not always easy to manage but with practice, it comes to feel less terrifying.

Not every edge overlooks The Grand Canyon, or the triple black diamond ski trail or view from atop The Empire State Building. Remember, in some cases there are safety rails and in others you will not have a life jacket. However, rest assured; you are not trying out for a spot with Ringling Brothers. Rather, your contract is with yourself to dig down and examine your most deeply held beliefs about change and what you are capable of doing.

I vividly recall my 50th birthday and its significance. The image that came to me was of walking towards a large swimming pool with a diving board that seemed to be 1000 stories high. The choice was to enter the pool from the side, either in a shallow dive or a less dramatic slide in, or climb that stairway to heaven and jump off the board. Fiftieth birthdays are nothing to brush aside so how did I want to celebrate it? In a perfect world, I would love to tell you that I executed brilliant form, entering the pool with nary a splash of water. The truth is I came to 50 somewhat sloppily but thrilled to have gotten there in one piece. Yes, make some waves and ruffle some feathers, do not worry about being perfect.

© 2016MWeisner

Stay Focused on the Right Thing

266Woman-Head-SpinningBeginning a project is exciting. Ideas are percolating and you are feeling creative and inspired. You may be working with a team or independently and plowing through data to support your next move. Hours don’t seem endless and you are producing reams of material and more thoughts on managing the flow. In short order, it may also become overwhelming and what once was the dream is feeling more and more like a nightmare. What do you do?

• Slow down
• Breathe
• Review

For many of us, and I speak from personal experience, we hunker down and keep going, which is not always the best solution. Others micro-manage, experience excessive anxiety and/or give up. We all have our defaults and these are the telling times to stop and recall past successes, how you can ask for help and even re-evaluate your direction. Is it still a workable idea? Once you invest time and money it’s not easy to walk away, so where do you start and how do you determine what the “right things” are to focus on?

When you are feeling physically and emotionally in alignment you are better able to see the big picture. According to the ridiculously successful entrepreneur, James Altucher, he focuses on improving four specific areas of his life; physical, emotional, mental and spiritual health. For example, he believes that our bodies are the average of the 5 things we eat. So, if you take in a lot of junk food, guess what? Your body is full of junk. The rule of 5 also applies based on the people you spend time with. Again, we are the average of those 5 people, so choose your friends and associates wisely! Maintain your mental sharpness by writing down ideas daily and tossing most of them. And lastly, be grateful. Gratitude engages the part of the brain that makes it too hard to be anxious or regretful. Remember too, that your thoughts are the average the 5 things you think about.

So, before you jump back in, take time to check-in with Altucher’s 4 tips for improved focus and take inventory. Has your self-care regimen given you the best platform for success or is that where you need to focus your energies for now?


Waiting for the Other Shoe to Drop

rogowski-225x300I recently joined a close friend for lunch who, for the moment, enjoys a good life on multiple fronts. Her children are thriving, her marriage is solid and she is prospering financially; the trifecta of happiness. Needless-to-say, things have not always been so calm and she is very appreciative, knowing that even the best of times can come to a screeching halt without advance notice.

Yes, bad things can and do happen to good people. Playing by the rules is no guarantee that you will be treated fairly or that your relationships will be rock-steady or that you are successfully keeping potential turmoil at bay.

What’s the upside to having a good long run of happiness or health only to be peeking over one’s shoulder waiting for Dorothy’s tornado to touch down in Kansas and turn our lives upside down? Is it uniquely female thinking that takes us away from the pleasure of the present and into the unknown of the future or is it generalized habitual thinking that can be reconfigured to better serve us?

Where is your body right now? Silly question- of course our bodies are only in one state…the present. Our thoughts may focus on the past, filled with regret or race ahead to the future consumed by worry, however, when we are fully present, mind and body in sync, we are most powerful, most aware and most centered. By the way, at some point, the other shoe will drop. It may be a combat boot, a Jimmy Choo pump or perhaps a delicate pink ballet slipper. I know what my choice is, what about you?


Sleep More…Worry Less…Improve Performance

imagesCAKC7FR7Sleep, glorious sleep, where have the hours gone? American women are struggling to cope with a lack of sleep, which means under 7-hours daily. Some of you may be dreaming to actually get that much time in consecutive hours, hence the catnap or chunking shorter pieces together. Women’s lifestyles are regularly compromised due to a lack of sleep, and yet we keep going. Who hasn’t slogged through a day or a week for various reasons related to not getting enough hours of rest? Sometimes it’s not possible to complete everything we need to yet the hours that we most benefit from by recharging, sleep, fall victim to our choices. Not everyone is on call in an ER, but many of us have taken on this mantle of urgency and sleep deprivation as a badge of honor. It is not!

“Do not confuse motion and progress. A rocking horse keeps moving but does not make any progress.” ~ Alfred A. Montapert

Altering your sleep patterns may reduce anxiety according to researchers at SUNY Binghamton. Of 100 people polled, those who went to bed later and slept for shorter periods had the most severe symptoms of worry and negative thinking. Eighty percent of women say that when they experience sleepiness during the day they just accept it and keep going. However, in order to keep going, 65% are likely to use caffeinated beverages, with 37% of all women consuming three or more caffeinated beverages per day. More coffee = more issues in falling asleep.

Another culprit, although less often considered to be a factor is multitasking, much maligned but also viewed as a necessity in the modern world. The ability to do several things at once – even if it’s something as apparently simple as emailing and talking at the same time – is taken for granted. But the belief that engaging in several tasks at once means we are more productive is a myth. Instead of saving time, multitasking not only takes longer but also makes mistakes more likely.

Research has found that women who tend to multitask more during the day and therefore use more of their brain power, need more sleep. So even if they sleep more than men do, some women still might not be getting enough rest—and those who don’t, might feel the effects more acutely than their male counterparts. The suffering isn’t limited to mood. Insufficient sleep has been linked to serious health issues in women, such as depression and higher risk of stroke.

So, if the myth of greater productivity is multitasking, yet it depletes the brain more, requiring additional sleep, and caffeine is a short term solution to wakefulness yet cycles back to difficulty in falling asleep, are we forever damned? Perhaps not, but changing habits does require discipline and attention to our waking hours as much as the bedtime hour we assign nightly.

• Cut back on caffeine in ALL forms during the day
• Have a consistent bedtime