Thursday, July 29, 2010

Balancing your Qi

A friend of mine, Michael Bending, was describing to me some of the insights that he has gained from studying and practicing Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) this last few years. Mike has a Diploma of  Massage, is completing a  Bachelor of Health Science: Traditional Chinese Medicine and is a Political health activist, one time IT specialist, deep sea Navy Clearance Diver, semi professional triathlete and is passionate about creating positive change in the world.

I asked him to share his thoughts, ideas and insights with you. I can see many connections between what TCM offers and how it links to modern scientific insights of the heart brain and gut (enteric) brain. The idea that various organs are linked to particular emotions (emoting) makes sense when you realise that the gut brain and heart brain connect to and enervate the organs around the body. Messages to and from these distributed systems must change information flows and resulting emotional responses that are used to motivate and directionalise the head brain, thinking and ultimately behaviour.

So for your interest and edification, here's Mike's guest blog on TCM and enhancing your life:

Happiness, the 5 emotions and the organs they pertain to in Traditional Chinese Medicine

Your physical health alters your perception of the world around you, what you see, what you don't see, what you focus upon or do not focus upon.

Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) says that the Qi energy in your system determines your health. TCM states that each organ is responsible for an emotion: liver/anger, kidney/fear, heart/happiness or mania, spleen/over active mind, lungs/sadness. If the Qi is deficient in the kidney or heart it leads to corresponding changes in the emotions linked to those organs.

Now if I was to explain in such a way as to match our western biological way of thinking, then I would say that each organ is responsible for the regulation of different hormones and chemicals in the body and the balance of these hormones and chemicals dictate our emotions and thoughts at any time of the day. We can see that the kidneys express or do not express adrenalin relative to the flight or fight response to perceived danger...if the kidney is not functioning correctly then people could be fearful in ordinary everyday routines and events. Have you ever heard the expression "I was livered" when referring to anger? Well when someone has an unbalanced liver; in TCM then they will generally have a lot of anger at different times in the day or rise to anger easily.

So, moving along....our emotions are the sum total of the chemicals and hormones that wax and wane in our bodies. Our egos are the sum total of these emotions, and our perception of the world is an extension of our ego. Our perception of the world can reinforce our internal chemical environment or help change it....its an open-loop control system which can flip over to a closed loop control system anytime we decide....but only when we decide to take control! Or let go!

The emotions result in the sum of our ego influence the decisions we make on a day to day basis... about everything....and sometimes the way we feel one day is not the way we feel the next and sometimes we regret the decisions we made yesterday because we don't feel the same way today.

So...even though we can, in varying degrees, exert some control over our emotions mentally, we are in fact not in as much control of our lives as we generally like to think we are. Its like white water rafting, we can exert some control with our paddles and steer a course but we are also at the mercy of the currents of the river.

Many men will not understand this statement and may even negate it as most men feel as though they are in control of their thinking 24/7. Most women, will understand this as they sometimes feel different emotions before and during their menstrual cycle.....a woman may get angry or sad or both...she can't help it, it is the sum of the hormones and chemicals that are being expressed or not being expressed at this time. The man's general response to these emotions is "just snap out of it honey" but this is easier said than done for many women!

Men don't understand this as they believe they don't lose control of their emotions like women do, hence they believe women can "just snap out of it". However men don't stop to think they they are in fact driven by a different emotion 24/7 every day of the month. Testosterone drives their nearly every day thoughts and actions, but because it happens everyday of the month and it doesn't result result in moods of sadness or melancholy, then men don't usually see a difference in their behaviour as women do. However men do sometimes have a problem with anger but probably dismiss it as being part of being a man. Most women will acknowledge their behaviours during those 5-7 days of the month, men have no idea they themselves are so out of control emotionally.

So what causes these chemical imbalances? We all have different genetic predispositions however the main mechanism involved is genetics and food. We are what we eat, it has been said many times yet most people do not fully grasp this statement. Different foods have chemicals that have effects upon our bodies. If we don't get enough of some of these chemicals then the body does not function the way it should. 

The average western diet has nutrient values paramount to eating a plate of cardboard three times a day, hence diet is the place to start when trying to effect happiness. Yes some genetic predispositions will make it harder for some people, but genes can be switched on and off depending upon the levels of certain nutrients and mental control.  And if you think that your mental capacity to control your biological functions is limited then spare a thought for the Tibetan monks who practice a lifetime to actually slow their heart beats to almost nothing and raise their body temperature at other times. It is possible.

Some people who suffer depression have a higher need for vitamin B3 than other people. Exercise like running, swimming, cycling, yoga, qi gong and tai chi all stimulate the happiness hormones called endorphins which will effect changes in our body and our perception. Good sleep will stimulate more melatonin which is responsible for regulation of most of the hormones in our body.

So lets get back to happiness and life enhancing....happiness is the balance of these chemical markers in the body. Yes they can be controlled by the mind, without so much reliance upon diet, but it takes years of skill and practice as shown by modalities such as Buddhists mediation training. The average person can not do this without extensive training. We can control our emotions when we are more understanding of how they are effecting us and this does have an effect day to day.

Its a multifaceted approach, food, medicine, relaxation, exercise, sleep, mentally concentrating upon happy events and moments while minimising negative emotions, consciously fostering love and compassion in our hearts while minimising anger, fear and sadness.

Think good thoughts, step back from the illusionary world...see the world for what it is without these debilitating emotions....and don't get caught up with what other people think, run your own race.

The perfect blossom is a rare thing, you could spend your entire life searching for one and it would not be a wasted life!  (The Last Samurai)

Chase after money and security
And your heart will never unclench
Care about people’s approval
And you will be their prisoner
Do your work, then step back
The only path to serenity.
Lao Tze

for more information or to read more of Mike's thoughts on TCM and health, check out:

Friday, July 23, 2010

Connecting with others...

I was chatting with my friend Garry the other day about a recent holiday in beautiful Tasmania that he and his beloved had just returned from. I asked him what he'd found most life enhancing about the holiday. He responded that surprisingly, it was the conscious decision they'd made to connect with other people they met during their travels that had really made a life enhancing difference.

Now Garry is like me, we tend to enjoy our privacy and solitude, and don't normally do a lot of extroverted socialising. So on holidays, we'd tend not to spend a lot of time connecting and sharing with strangers. But on this trip, he'd decided to change that and see what would unfold through a more gregarious way of interacting with people. Along the way he'd met some really fascinating people and had his mind and life seeded with some interesting new ideas and opportunities. Connecting with others had been really life enhancing. I asked him to write something about his experience and share it here on the blog.

Here's Garry's report on a life enhancing holiday experience he had through connecting with and learning from 'Ron', one of the many people he serendipitously met in his travels:

Eco holidaying..  Ron's life enhancing perspective

Changing social values have brought forth, the modern 'eco holiday', broadly advertised and featuring a 'low impact' approach to the traditional holiday experience. A decade into this century, the travel/holiday industry has grown an increasing array of 'green' options, often with a concomitant price elevation. I'd like however to share with you a story based on a more basic approach to moving across this planet.
 Imagine this. Ocean Beach, west of Strahan Tasmania, the sun setting on an endless horizon. The Southern Ocean blue and peaked white with the energy of the wind. A man busies himself by a local viewing spot.

 A closer look, and he is removing rubbish. The type that litters most sightseeing spots. In fact he focuses on the bits of rubbish most people don't want to pick up, and he's equipped for the task with a 'grabber'. 
This is Ron, and his path across the land is defined by freedom, but he has made a deal between himself and the land. Whenever he stops in a location, he cleans it up. He always leaves his camping sites free of human rubbish. He considers it to be like a payment for the pleasure of staying. As the sun sets over Ocean Beach, he pays for the experience with his time and his efforts.

We talk about it and agree that sometimes just a small change in how we value an activity or experience can define a more rewarding path. He takes satisfaction and reward from both the natural beauty of the ocean scene and the fact that his passage has had a restorative influence on the space. Eco holidaying that is accessible to all.

So that's a vignette from Garry's experience of connecting with people and the life enhancing ideas and values that can be brought to your life through this.

I hope it inspires us all to task ourselves, to stretch out, to make more of our lives in every way, and to connect with each other and share life enhancing ideas and experiences.

smiles and life enhancing thoughts,

Saturday, July 17, 2010

Aligning your multi-mind

"A house divided against itself cannot stand.”
Abraham Lincoln

According to the noted Stanford University neuro-scientist and psychologist Prof. Robert Ornstein, we don’t have a single unitary mind, rather we are a multi-mind made up of numerous simple and relatively autonomous mini-minds. The cognitive scientist Marvin Minsky calls it a ‘society of mind’.

We appear to experience a single mind and stream of consciousness, but the scientific evidence suggests that this sense of unitary self and consciousness is really a fiction. In reality, our mind is the result of a synthesis of many unconscious processes operating and negotiating together.

Many brains - a society of mind

Let’s examine this idea in a bit more detail. For a start we know we have at minimum three separate brains – the head brain, the enteric or gut brain and the cardiac or heart brain. The head brain itself is also composed of two relatively autonomous functional half-brains – the right and left hemispheres. Within each of these brains, groups of neurons and structures operate, build and perform competencies and unconscious skills. And importantly, these mini-minds communicate with one another to operate the totality that appears as the ‘self’.

This works fine when all parts of your multi-mind, your ‘society of mind’ are aligned and congruent. It’s problematic however when there’s disagreement or dissension in the camp; when parts of your mind are incongruent or at odds with one another. Such incongruence or mismatch undermines your resolve and leads to incongruent behaviour and outcomes. You literally sabotage your own success.

We all have experiences of this. Think of times when you’ve felt torn on a decision. Where one part of you has agreed but another part has not. Notice also that the two ‘sides’ of this disagreement are often represented on the two sides of your body. You’ll see and hear people say “on the one hand I feel/want/believe X… but on the other hand I feel/want/believe Y”; and you’ll literally see them hold their hands out as they say this.

In NLP terms, this linguistic expression is a literal descriptor of the unconscious process of the two hemispheres being in disagreement with one another. Remember that the left side of the body is connected to and controlled by the right hemisphere of the brain, and the right side of the body is controlled by the left hemisphere. When the two hemispheres are in disagreement with one another, this incongruence is represented and embodied across the physical body and often experienced as mismatched feelings at the midline of the body.

Think about something you are undecided on now, or something that was important but you were divided about in the past. You’ll probably experience exactly what I’ve just described. Notice also that the left and right brains also communicate to the heart brain and gut brain and lead to feelings of discomfort or disagreement in your gut region or heart region – in your gut brain and heart brain.

When you negotiate and integrate all these disparate parts, you'll often find that you feel the coming together, the aligning, at the center of your heart -- you finally feel like you've gotten to the 'heart of the matter'. Interesting how the heart and gut brains are pivotal in generating congruence, motivation and encouragement.

The Cybernetic Loop

Remember the Cybernetic Loop model from NLP that says that the mind and body are connected in a control loop and that what affects one part affects all other parts. When there is disagreement or incongruence within the system of your multi-mind, it leads to incongruence in your feelings and your behaviour and physiology.

A great example of this is when someone gives you a gift you really don’t like. It’s almost impossible to congruently express gratitude and thanks without some non-verbal indicator of your dislike for the gift. In fact, psychologists have developed tools to read the fleeting and small micro-muscle movements that occur whenever you attempt to lie. The part of your multi-mind that knows it hates the gift will fleetingly take control of the muscles in your face and show a micro-expression of disgust before your conscious mind directs the muscles to make a smile and voice your appreciation of the gift. These fleeting micro-expressions are picked up by the other person’s unconscious mind and form part of the intuitions that we all use to know when someone is being genuine or not.

Another great example of the effects of incongruence occurs in sport. Golfers are well aware of the ‘yips’ – unconscious and involuntary patterns of movement that derail successful shots. Even the most skillful sportsperson knows that if they allow any part of their mind to think a negative thought or focus on failure then their performance will suffer.

Aligning for success

There are two important things to note from this insight about your multi-mind and the effects of incongruence within it. First, if you want success, you need to make sure all parts of your self are aligned and supportive of that success. Incongruence and inconsistency are not life enhancing and are indeed enemies to happiness and success. You need to learn to detect incongruency within your society of mind and be able to negotiate with all parts of your mind to bring them into alignment and agreement.

Secondly, incongruence within a person’s multi-mind is usually embodied and expressed (typically outside of their conscious awareness) in their physical stance, their micro-muscle movements and facial expressions and in their non-verbal communication. You can learn to notice and track these signals and detect when someone is not fully supportive of the outcomes you are working towards with them. Equally, any incongruence you are feeling will be non-verbally expressed to other people’s unconscious minds and will undermine your chances of successful outcomes with them. In part, this is how self-fulfilling prophecies work within human relationships. We literally express and communicate all the messages from our multi-mind, and get responses from others that recapitulate our expectations.

So I hope you are fully and totally realising right now, with all your heart and mind, all the parts of your society of self, that congruence and alignment of your multi-mind is a life enhancing and vitally important skill. You need to become a master at ‘congruence-ing’ – at tracking for and generating congruence and alignment within your mind/body. And with that in mind, in upcoming blog posts, we'll learn about detecting congruence and incongruence signals and some techniques for aligning the various parts of your self(ing).

Until then, start to notice the various signals and messages within your body and your multi-mind. Listen to your dreams, because that is one of the key ways that the heart and gut brains communicate with the head brain. Tune into and trust your intuitions and your hunches. And start to talk kindly and lovingly with your unconscious mind -- with all the parts of your multi-mind. Talk to your 'self' like you would talk to a loving caring friend. And learn all you can about hypnotic languaging techniques such as the Milton Language Patterns from NLP. The more skills you have in communicating, directing and aligning your unconscious multi-mind, the more life enhancing success you'll have in achieving your heartfelt outcomes in life.

positive smiles and life enhancing wishes,

You might like to read these key books by Robert Ornstein:

Multimind: A New Way of Looking at Human Behavior
The author of The Psychology of Consciousness here defines the human mind as a "bastard hybrid system." Each of us has many "small minds" that simultaneously process feelings, fantasies, ideas, fixed routines, interpersonal responses and bodily skills. Multimind helps explain why our emotions and attitudes are easily swayed, the difficulty of ever really knowing oneself or another person, and how mental shortcuts we rely on to make snap judgments can harden prejudices.

The Right Mind: Making Sense of the Hemispheres
"I began this book with a pretty firm prejudice," says Robert Ornstein of his survey of the two halves of the human brain. "I believed that after two decades of research we'd find ... that there might be little to distinguish the two sides." Instead, he concluded that "the division of the mind is profound," with deep roots in evolution, embryonic development, and society. It is profound, but not simplistic: Ornstein shows how the right hemisphere is neither a chimpanzeelike moron nor a mystical genius. It provides the context, the big picture, while the left hemisphere keeps track of the details. Doris Lessing says, "I have always admired Robert Ornstein's ability to explain difficult scientific ideas to ordinary people"; Paul Ehrlich calls The Right Mind "the most innovative, fascinating work yet to appear on the role of the two hemispheres of the brain." 

Monday, July 12, 2010

Tao - a life enhancing way...

"If you realize that all things change,
there is nothing you will try to hold on to."
The Tao Te Ching

The Tao Te Ching is an ancient Chinese book of philosophy that has much to teach us about the way of life enhancing. 'Tao Te Ching' can be roughly translated as 'the way and its power' or 'the way of life'.

The Tao Te Ching begins with the following passage:

The Way that can be told of is not the true or unvarying way;
The names that can be named are not the true or unvarying names.
It was from the Nameless that Heaven and Earth sprang;
The named is but the mother that rears the ten thousand creatures, each after its kind.

In another translation, this passage also reads:

The Way that can be experienced is not true;
The world that can be constructed is not real.
The Way manifests all that happens and may happen;
The world represents all that exists and may exist.

To experience without abstraction is to sense the world;
To experience with abstraction is to know the world.
These two experiences are indistinguishable;
Their construction differs but their effect is the same.

Beyond the gate of experience flows the Way,
Which is ever greater and more subtle than the world.

The map is not the territory

What these deep and intriguing teachings are attempting to express, in ways that words truly cannot express because of the nature of words and symbols, is what NLP represents in the powerful saying:

"The map is not the territory"

This thinking tool, originally coined by Alfred Korzybski, the father of the philosophy of General Semantics, highlights the understanding that 'no map can ever fully represent the territory that it maps'. A map will ALWAYS be a deleted, distorted and generalised/abstracted version of the territory. And all words, thoughts and symbols are maps of the world. We never 'truly' know the world, we only ever experience a deleted, distorted and generalised version of the world -- 'The way that can be named is not the true way'.

In other words... the tools you use to make sense of the world and to represent (re- present) the world and communicate your understanding of the world, to yourself (your multi-mind) and to others, will ALWAYS be lies. They are NOT TRUE and can never be true. They may be relatively veridical and may closely represent certain aspects of the world, within defined boundaries and contexts, BUT the map can never be the territory. The menu can never by the meal. Words are NOT the things they stand for.

Robert Anton Wilson, in his brilliant and life changing book 'Prometheus Rising' put it well when he described our human mapping and modeling processes as 'Reality Tunneling'. According to Bob, we each live not in the real world, but in our very own deleted, generalised and distorted 'reality tunnel'. And the world that can be constructed (by our unconscious modeling and reality tunneling processes) is not real. The names that can be named are not unvarying names. As the Buddhist's say, nothing is permanent, nothing exists in and of itself, all is process, constantly changing and varying. And the deep understanding from all these various wisdom traditions and modern neuro and behavioural technologies, is that our model of the world -- our reality tunnel -- is NOT the true world.

What can you do with this?

So what does this mean? What can you do with this to enhance your life?

Well, for a start, it in part means that your beliefs, ideas and thoughts are not totally true, fixed, absolute or real. These insights indicate that it is massively unsane to be rigid in your beliefs and values. NO belief is 'the' TRUE belief. All beliefs are 'names' and no name is the true or unvarying name or way.

These philosophical insights suggest that you are best served in your life when you are more flexible, open and pliant in your attitudes and approaches. Let go of absolutist and unyielding ideas. Let go of dogmatism and the need to be right. Allow yourself to be comfortable with uncertainty and fuzzy boundaries. Nothing is absolutely certain. Possibility and probability are key. Don't take yourself so seriously. Don't take life too seriously -- take life more light-heartedly, with humour, forgiving, joy, balance and flexibility. Relax your model of the world. Relax your attitudes. Map the way of your life with flow, peace and calm abiding joy. It's an incredibly life enhancing way.

More from the taoist way

And for your enjoyment, here are some more key ideas from Tao'ist philosophy as expressed in the "Tao Te Ching", that have generative import for living life enhancingly:
  • Force begets force.
  • Living simply, is life enhancing.
  • Material wealth does not enrich the spirit.
  • Self-absorption and self-importance are vain and self-destructive.
  • The harder one tries, the more resistance one creates for oneself.
  • The more one acts in harmony with the universe (the Mother of the myriad things), the more one will achieve, with less effort.
  • The truly wise make little of their own wisdom for the more they know, the more they realize how little they know.
  • When we lose the fundamentals, we supplant them with increasingly inferior values which we pretend are the true values.
  • Glorification of wealth, power and beauty beget crime, envy and shame.
  • The qualities of flexibility and suppleness, especially as exemplified by water, are superior to rigidity and strength.
  • Everything is in its own time and place.
  • Duality of nature complements each other instead of competing with each other — the two faces of the same coin — one cannot exist without the other.
  • The differences of opposite polarities help us to understand and appreciate the universe.
  • Humility is the highest virtue.
  • Knowing oneself is a key virtue.
  • Envy is a calamity; overindulgence is a plight.
  • The more you go in search of an answer, the less you will understand.
  • Know when it's time to stop. If you don't know then stop when you are done.

wishing you a balanced, flexible and life enhancing way of life'ing,

And from one of the authors I most cherish and revere, here's a translation of the Tao Te Ching that is wonderfully life enhancing to read:

Lao Tzu: Tao Te Ching: A Book about the Way and the Power of the Way

“Ursula K. Le Guin’s translation of the Tao Te Ching is a personal and poetic meditation. Through her own careful study of these ancient teachings, she brings the Way into contemporary life. Each day, I open this book at random and receive a contemplative gift. These words are akin to water in the desert.”

Thursday, July 8, 2010

Living your childhood dreams...

“We cannot change the cards we are dealt, just how we play the hand.”
Randy Pausch

The Last Lecture

A lot of professors give talks titled “The Last Lecture” -- Professors are asked to consider their demise and to ruminate on what matters most to them. And while they speak, audiences can’t help but mull the same question: What wisdom would we impart to the world if we knew it was our last chance? If we had to vanish tomorrow, what would we want as our legacy?

When Randy Pausch, an award winning teacher and computer science professor at Carnegie Mellon, was asked to give such a lecture, he didn’t have to imagine it as his last, since he had recently been diagnosed with terminal cancer...

"On September 18, 2007, computer science professor Randy Pausch stepped in front of an audience of 400 people at Carnegie Mellon University to deliver a last lecture called “Really Achieving Your Childhood Dreams.” With slides of his CT scans beaming out to the audience, Randy told his audience about the cancer that is devouring his pancreas and that will claim his life in a matter of months. On the stage that day, Randy was youthful, energetic, handsome, often cheerfully, darkly funny. He seemed invincible. But this was a brief moment, as he himself acknowledged.

Randy’s lecture has become a phenomenon, as has the book he wrote based on the same principles, celebrating the dreams we all strive to make realities. Sadly, Randy lost his battle to pancreatic cancer on July 25th, 2008, but his legacy will continue to inspire us all, for generations to come."

See it here

Randy's last lecture isn’t about dying, instead, it's about the importance of overcoming obstacles, of enabling the dreams of others, of seizing every moment and about living your dreams! It is inspiring and life enhancing. So I've shared it here with you. If you've already seen it, then watch it again, I have many times, and it continues to inspire and remind me to live my dreams, savour every moment of my life and appreciate the people I love. If you haven't seen it before, then take the time now to do so, it will definitely enhance your life.

Check out Randy's book here:

In this book, Randy Pausch has combined the humor, inspiration and intelligence that made his lecture such a phenomenon and given it an indelible form. It is a book that will be shared for generations to come.

Sunday, July 4, 2010

Gifting is life enhancing

Here's something I'd like to share with you... in a sense it's a gift to you, that you can use immediately to add life enhancing value to your life.

A simple and powerful strategy

My beloved and I have for many years now enjoyed a simple yet powerful life strategy called 'Gifting' - which is about gifting behaviours and things to each other and to the people we love, without them having to ask for them or expecting them. The gifts are usually small or simple things that can make a big difference over time.

As an example, we gift to each other 'putting toothpaste on the toothbrush'. What this means is that whenever one of us goes to brush our teeth, we put toothpaste on both toothbrushes, our own, and the other person's -- thereby gifting to each other a tooth-pasted toothbrush, that is ready to use. It might sound trivial, but by gifting in this way the person receiving the gift doesn't have to put toothpaste on their own brush and receives the delight of having that small piece of work done for them.

Now, if we both do this gifting equally, over time, on average, we've both done 2 toothbrushes half the time, amounting to the same amount of toothpasting work as if we'd only done just our own. However, by doing gifting, we've done the same amount of work as not gifting, but we have the wonderful experience and knowledge of receiving a gift half the time, and the pleasure of giving a gift the other half the time. In other words, by gifting we both get much, much more on a day by day basis, for the same overall amount of work. It's a synergistic process in which 1 + 1 equals far more than 2!

Gifting across your life

We do this gifting with as many things as we can, things like toilet-roll replacing, like cleaning up the kitchen, putting things away, doing the dishes, bringing in the washing, lighting the fire or putting wood on it, and things like taking out the rubbish etc. etc. etc. You get the idea. Any item or element of work around the home or anything that adds value to the other person's life.

By both focusing so easily on gifting for each other, we get the same amount of work done, but it feels so great to do, and we end up with lots of positive feelings, thanks and appreciation. Of course a key part of this strategy is 'Thanking' which involves using intermittent reinforcement to thank the person for their great and ongoing gifting.

And another key component, for it to work well is to never expect the gift. If you expect the other person to put toothpaste on your brush, and you get peeved or upset when it isn't done, then you are operating from expectations of reciprocity and you are no longer in the 'land of gifting'. You've moved into bartering and tit for tat. That's not what gifting is about. Gifting is about kindness and gifts of loving that are given freely from the heart. So make sure that if you agree to do gifting together, that you also agree never to do expectations or demands that require a particular act or gifting instance.

Its all about feeling and showing love, appreciation and not taking anything for granted.

Clear outcomes and intentions

Now let's chunk up from this strategy of gifting for a moment. Do you see how, by thinking about what our outcomes are for doing great life'ing together, we have generated simple strategies, that when put into ongoing action, and made into positive addictions, really have made a life enhancing difference in our life. Most people do the opposite of that, and don't equally gift, or show/experience appreciation, but instead force expectations on each other, and everything becomes a demand and a chore, and everyone ends up getting less out of life. And by not getting clear about specific outcomes and the values that drive them, they end up, for no good reason, doing suboptimal and life denying behaviour. Most people have the best of intentions, but no skill in doing themselves generatively and life enhancingly. We can do ourselves differently to that, can't we :-)

Seth Godin's thoughts on gifting

I was reading Seth Godin's blog the other day, and he had some cool distinctions on gifting. Seth is a bestselling author, entrepreneur and agent of change. He has written some very powerful and interesting books.
What's a gift?

"I met a big-shot former Fortune 500 company CEO who explained to me that he used to have three secretaries. One for his calendar, one for his usual work, and one who did nothing but send people gifts.

I think when it's sent by a corporation and chosen by a secretary, it's not a gift. It's a present. Or a favor...

A gift certificate from a rich uncle is a present as well, it's not really a gift.

A favor is something we do for someone hoping for an equal or greater favor in return. (Hence the phrase, "return the favor." No one says, "return the gift.")

A present is something that costs money, sure, and it's free, but I don't think it's a gift.

A gift costs the giver something real. It might be cash (enough that we feel the pinch) but more likely it involves a sacrifice or a risk or an emotional exposure. A true gift is a heartfelt connection, something that changes both the giver and the recipient.

The way I understand gifts is that the giver must make a sacrifice, create an uneven exchange, bring himself closer to the recipient, create change and do it all with the right spirit. To do anything less might be smart commerce, but it doesn't rise to the magical level of the gift. A day's work for a day's pay is the win/lose mantra of the industrial era. More modern is to view a day's work as a chance to generate gifts that last."

Interesting thoughts, that go to the heart of gifting. And I like the idea of making every work day a day of gifting... because when you gift to others, ultimately you are gifting to your self and your own life and world. And that is incredibly life enhancing.

Give yourself the gift of Gifting

So there you go, a cool, simple and powerful strategy. Put gifting into practice in your life. Talk to your partner or beloved and explain the concept and negotiate agreement on doing it together equally. You'll do the same amount of work in your life, yet gain the synergy of giving and receiving gifts of heartfelt love on a daily basis. I can't tell you how wonderful it is to walk into the bathroom and find the toothpaste lovingly placed on your toothbrush, ready to use. It's a life enhancing and magical experience that happens daily in our home. And I hope you make it happen in your life too.

Want to learn more, get a copy of my book: Avoiding the Enemies to HAPPINESS!

with great and life enhancing thoughts

What I Love About

What I Love About You offers a fresh way to say "I love you." This fill-in-the-blank book prompts you to say what is in your heart, but may not always be at the tip of your tongue. Tell the most important person in your life just how much they mean to you by completing the scores of unique, evocative checklists, short answers, and phrases in this attractive gift book.