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Updated: 2009-10-23T14:34:44-05:00

 



Al Jarreau and Metaphors for Success

2009-10-23T14:46:58-05:00

I attended an Al Jarreau concert this week and it got me thinking about the first time I heard and fell in love with Jarreau's music and how that experience shaped my definition of success and stress management practices. I...

I attended an Al Jarreau concert this week and it got me thinking about the first time I heard and fell in love with Jarreau's music and how that experience shaped my definition of success and stress management practices. I have written a lot about the power of small actions (the Butterfly Effect) and this is a good example of how people can have a profound and lasting impact through small actions or gifts.

I was about 20 years old at the time and living in Florida. My roommate and I went to a club to dance. We were both basically broke (no money) and nursed our drinks for hours.

We went our separate ways in the club and this did not alarm me until it was nearly closing time and I could not find her. After looking everywhere, I concluded that she had left - probably with someone. The bad thing about this is that she had driven. AND I did not have money for a cab. AND Florida did not have public transportation to speak of. I was stranded well beyond walking distance to my apartment.

I realized that I needed to ask someone for a ride home but did not want to make a request that seemed like it was more than I intended (no Quid Pro Quo, if you know what I mean). I observed a well dressed middle-aged man at the bar. He seemed smart and poised. I decided to ask this man for a lift to my apartment.

I walked up to him, explained my situation as humbly as possible and made the request. He was gracious and agreed to help me out. I worried a bit that he might not be as nice as he seemed, but I did not have a lot of choices. This was before people walked around with cell phones, so there was no way to call or text anyone for help.

As we went out to the parking lot, he pointed toward the driver side of his car - a Mercedes two-seater convertible. He got in, let me in, started the car and put down the top. It was very cool.

As we got onto the highway, he turned on the cassette player (cassettes here HOT then, having just replaced the 8-track in cars). His choice of music? Al Jarreau, of course. The songs Mornin' and Boogie Down filled my head with a fabulous vibe and I was hooked.

Fast car, cool breeze, upbeat jazzy tunes. The nice man did not say a word during the drive and I sat back in the passenger's seat and soaked in the experience. This is what success is, I thought. As he reached my apartment parking lot, I thanked him and we parted ways. He was smart, gracious and had impeccable taste.

When I need to reconnect to a feeling of success or when I need a nudge myself out of a mental funk, I play jazzy tunes in my car, and let the breeze carry my hopes and intentions through my breath and body like prayer flags in the wind. It works every time.

We all have metaphors for success - those places or situations that seemed to you to be emblematic of how you want to live. Take time to reconnect to these places and experiences and reengage in your goals.

I never saw that man again and I bet he never knew the impact his generous ride home had on me.

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Tutor Your Way to a Breakthrough? Tutoring Better than Mentoring

2009-10-05T14:32:16-05:00

Interesting article from Harvard Business called, Mentoring is Overrated - Try Tutoring Instead. The article points to the power of teaching others as a way to learn. This plays out in many ways. When I train, I notice that if...

Interesting article from Harvard Business called, Mentoring is Overrated - Try Tutoring Instead. The article points to the power of teaching others as a way to learn. This plays out in many ways. When I train, I notice that if the expectation is that the participants will turn around and train others, they listen differently.

To generate a breakthrough. teach!

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How to Change Your Life With Rituals from @TonyRobbins

2009-08-12T10:59:49-05:00

Love this video on rituals, check it out. See it, make it happen. Key quote "focus is controlled by questions."

Love this video on rituals, check it out. See it, make it happen. Key quote "focus is controlled by questions."

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When people don't "get you."

2009-07-26T07:24:57-05:00

Check out this interesting post from Ken over at Mildly Creative (hat tip to Deb Owen) called How to Be Authentic with People Who Love You but Don't Understand You. The post is about why it is still the best...

Check out this interesting post from Ken over at Mildly Creative (hat tip to Deb Owen) called How to Be Authentic with People Who Love You but Don't Understand You. The post is about why it is still the best approach to be authentic - really you - and offers suggestions for how to do this even if the real you is somewhat foreign or strange to some. Here is a snippet:

2. Stop asking people to give you what you won’t give yourself. On Wednesday, I’ll write about how we often expect our friends and family to see things we can’t yet see, believe things we don’t yet believe, and to give support to things we don’t yet support ourselves. And, of course, I’ll explain why we need to stop doing this.

Such a good point. Check it out!

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Sassy Essays to Benefit the Humane Society

2009-07-17T19:47:31-05:00

One of the best ways to enrich our lives is to take a stand for others. When we pour our hearts into helping people (or animals), we grow. I try to walk my talk in this regard and so it...One of the best ways to enrich our lives is to take a stand for others. When we pour our hearts into helping people (or animals), we grow. I try to walk my talk in this regard and so it is my pleasure to tell you about a giving project I just launched. Below is the short version and then the story behind it. What will your next helping project be? The short version:1. Please pick up a copy of my self-published essay collection called The Kiwi Bird Walks Like a Man. 100% of the proceeds from the book will be donated to two animal humane nonprofit organizations - The Seattle Humane Society (http://www.seattlehumane.org/) and the Cincinnati SPCA (http://www.spcacincinnati.org).  The essay collection is sassy and funny and many of the essays are about nature and my travels. People who like David Sedaris and the nature essays of Diane Ackerman will enjoy these. You can buy the book here.2. Please consider picking up a copy for a friend, too. And please forward this email to your friends. It's for the animals!The story:Last year, I had the privilege to work with the Seattle Humane Society. I have always been an animal lover and have had many pets, but I had never seen how a well-run humane society worked from behind the scenes. Wow! Working with the Seattle Humane Society was an eye-opening experience and I will admit to being surprised by many things that I learned. For example, I had no idea how much care and resources went into each of the animals that the human society took in. I naively thought that the $50 or $100 I paid to adopt a cat or dog covered the costs associated with its care while at the shelter. I now know that the adoption fees cover only a small portion of the totals costs required to care for each animal and especially those that are hard to place in homes or who have medical problems.And I was blown away by the level of care and consideration that each individual animal received while at the shelter. Even though there were more than 200 cats and 75 dogs in residence at any given time (and more out in foster homes), each animal had a name and each was treated as an individual with unique medical and socialization needs. How do animals go from being unwanted to unforgettable? Have you ever wondered why the animals that people adopt are often AMAZING companions and family members when many of the animals brought to the shelter have behavioral and/or health problems? Yes, there are a few that cannot be adopted and don't make it through the process, but most are - for lack of a better word - repaired while at the shelter. Behavior experts give each animal the time and training he or she needs to allow his or her qualities to shine while training out any bad habits learned while at his or her previous home (sometimes the Chateau du Street). Then there are the medicines! The shots, the flea killers, the post-surgery pain pills and all the drugs that help make each animal well. I can recall a conversation between the clinic manager and the Chief Operating Officer about how some of the medicines that the shelter used on a regular basis had tripled in cost in one year. Every animal, even the most healthy, gets some preventative medications and inoculations. And just like the medicines we take - the costs keep going up.The people who work for animal shelters are heroes. They work in tough conditions and have to endure a lot of stress - more stress in a day than most of us deal with in a month. They assist people and animals on their toughest days and have to make life and death decisions that are always agonizing. But it is all worth it when a long-time shelter resident finally gets adopted into a loving home. At the Seattle Humane Society, the adoption staff would announce special adoptions over the PA system so that every[...]



Spend the First Hour Uninterrupted

2009-07-16T21:52:56-05:00

Many managers are flooded with calls, emails, and visitors the moment they get to the office. This immediate assault can make you feel overwhelmed from the start. If you can condition others to hold off requests for an hour, you...Many managers are flooded with calls, emails, and visitors the moment they get to the office. This immediate assault can make you feel overwhelmed from the start. If you can condition others to hold off requests for an hour, you can take that time think, create, plan, or analyze. “Dream on,” you say? Give it a try! You might not always be able to set aside the first hour of the day, but shoot for three times per week.(image)



Go where the energy is.

2009-06-27T08:26:14-05:00

I was talking to a communications and publicity expert yesterday and found myself using the phrase, "go where the energy is," a few times. He noticed it too, and was struck by it. He suggested it might make for a...

I was talking to a communications and publicity expert yesterday and found myself using the phrase, "go where the energy is," a few times. He noticed it too, and was struck by it. He suggested it might make for a nice story or book idea. We talked briefly about what going with the energy means and looks like and how I have applied this in my writing and business life. Here is a brief post that captures the gist of the concept.

Part of being an optimistic, glass is half-full, kind of person is disappointment. Sounds counter-intuitive, but it is true. When we are optimistic, we believe that great things can and should happen. Sometimes they do and sometimes they don't. Optimists feel disappointment more than do pessimists.

Even so, I think that seeing the glass as half-full is an advantage because it allows us to be ready and open for more possibilities. And it is more pleasant - for us and for those with whom we interact.

We can blindly move through the world hoping for the best or we can be more targeted and improve our odds of being delighted. This is where going with the energy comes in.

Going with the energy means noticing and approaching situations or people that are drawn to us or the situation. For example, when I did my motorcycle book tour around the country a few years ago, I went to the towns where my blog readers had volunteered to help get the word out about my book reading events. As a result I did not go to LA, San Francisco or New York, the top three places most authors go on their book tour. I went where the energy was, not where it was not.

This also applies to my work as a consultant. I talk to a lot of people and it is my job to offer and sell consulting services. If I treated every lead and every prospect the same, I would be chasing a lot of cold avenues and suffering from more disappoinment and less success. When I go where the energy is, I can create a strong partnership with clients and deliver the services they seek. It is a win-win.

And this applies to managers at work, too. How often do we ram through projects or decisions or feel like we have to bribe people to attend meetings or training sessions? Go where the energy is, not where it is not. I was a director of OD many years back and I remember offering a set of services to my fellow department leaders. A few came to me immediately and asked for help and support and we did great work together. I did not waste my energy on the departments that would only engage in these services if they were forced or told it was mandatory.

Ditto with my coaching services. Like Marshall Goldsmith, I do not waste my time coaching the uncoachable - those people who do not really want to be coached and who are not open to making changes in how they lead.

How does GO WHERE THE ENERGY IS apply to your work and life? Don't waste time, energy, and positivity by chasing after people or projects that are running in the opposite direction. Take note of the people who are drawn to your work or messages - see and respond to those who are enrolled in your projects or passions. Be grateful for the energy that people share in your direction and on your behalf.

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Affirmations - Maybe a Bad Idea?

2009-06-21T17:38:37-05:00

(Hat tip to Dwayne over a Genuine Curiosity) Fascinating post from Kare Anderson about the flipside of affirmations and whether you should endeavor to think and say good/positive things. The post is called, Repeating Positive Affirmations Backfires For Many of...

(Hat tip to Dwayne over a Genuine Curiosity) Fascinating post from Kare Anderson about the flipside of affirmations and whether you should endeavor to think and say good/positive things. The post is called, Repeating Positive Affirmations Backfires For Many of Us. Check it out. Here is a snippet:

I thought of Eric today when I read that Norman Vincent Peale may have been wrong, at least for many people when he advocated saying positive self-affirmations to lift your mood. That oft-repeated notion that feeding ourselves upbeat messages can make us feel better isn’t necessarily true according to Joanne Wood's research.


Wow - provocative. what do you think? I agree with Kare that there ought to be more research into this notion. And I agree with Kare and several commenters who share that transformative power comes with consistent action.

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My Interview on Spark Radio - Breakthroughs, Management, Hip and Sage

2009-06-11T06:41:35-05:00

I had the pleasure of being Melanie's guest on her radio talk show called Spark Radio last night. We talk about a lot of things including management, staying competitive in the workplace, and generating breakthroughs. You can check it out...

I had the pleasure of being Melanie's guest on her radio talk show called Spark Radio last night. We talk about a lot of things including management, staying competitive in the workplace, and generating breakthroughs. You can check it out here.

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Take A Weird Break to Survive Project Madness - More Great Advice from Zen Habits

2009-06-09T21:54:20-05:00

I like this post from Zen Habits called, Six Amazing Techniques to Staying Happy During a Stressful Project. I love that he suggested taking "wierd breaks." Check it out.

I like this post from Zen Habits called, Six Amazing Techniques to Staying Happy During a Stressful Project. I love that he suggested taking "wierd breaks." Check it out.

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The Power of a Great Story - Ways to Motivate

2009-06-06T22:15:28-05:00

I should be heading to bed right now, but I find myself thinking about two stories and their impact. Very different stories, sort of. First story: The new lead singer of Journey who was discovered from a You Tube video...

I should be heading to bed right now, but I find myself thinking about two stories and their impact. Very different stories, sort of.

First story: The new lead singer of Journey who was discovered from a You Tube video - I posted about this story here. It is very cool and inspiring. I told the story again last week as I was waiting to start my presentation at the ASTD conference. The attendees found it fascinating. And tonight, I see on my blog stats that several people found my blog post while searching for information about Journey's lead singer.

Second story: From a Twitter post, I discovered that Bill Wixey, Q13 news anchor in Seattle, has a blog about his journey to fight Hodgkin's Lymphoma. His blog is open, human, and amazing. He is telling his story with a lot of transparency and it is compelling.

What both stories have in common is they are compelling, real, and demonstrate the power of passion and focus. As I have written so many times before, reality is socially constructed and if you read and tell great stories, this WILL impact you life and your results.

What kind of stories are you repeating to familiy and friends?

And for those of you who are a leader - at work, in your community, within your family - never underestimate the power of your well-told story. Anyone can (and should) share moving stories. Here are a few suggestions for how to tell a great story:

  • Be open, warts and all. The best stories do not gloss over the details, they tell them. Conversely, share the truth and be credible.
  • Give your story a narrative - paint the picture and tell the story with action. If you know them, share the details in order with all the highs and lows that actually occured.
  • Tell people what the story means to YOU. The best story tellers show their connection to the story even if they are not directly involved.
  • Be concise, but not dismissive of colorful details. Take as much time as you need to tell a vivid story, but no more.
  • Offer pictures, links, audio, or anything that helps you tell the story.
  • Make note of the larger themes of the story.

I think that organizations and individuals can learn a lot by reading both the Journey story and Bill Wixey's blog. You will learn about the power of perserverance, the power of passion and giving something your all, the power of community, the power of networks and connections, and the strengths of the human spirit.

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Like Breathing - What's Your Natural Calling? What is FIT?

2009-05-24T20:30:37-05:00

I love this post from Starbucker called, It's Like Breathing. In it, Terry tells a story of being hit by the thought of something being as natural as breathing. Check it out, it is a thought provoking post. And read...

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I love this post from Starbucker called, It's Like Breathing. In it, Terry tells a story of being hit by the thought of something being as natural as breathing. Check it out, it is a thought provoking post. And read all the great comments, too, as this post clearly got people thinking.

This notion of natural fit is interesting. Or maybe natural fit is not the right term - but harmonious fit. Maybe the fit was not always harmonious, but through exploration and practice, it has become seemingly natural.

Marcus Buckingham defines a strength as something that give you energy and a weakness something that drains you. Notice he does not say that a strength is something that is natural or easy. (Here is a great podcast I did with Marcus Buckingham)

I think that FIT is the key - fit with interests, with passions, and perhaps with some natural talent. But maybe the natural talent is not the key at all.

I think of my writing. I write a lot now. Ten books, three blogs, yada, yada, yada. And each year, my writing improves. I have wanted to write since I was a child. AND I was a lousy writer all through school because I had ADD, and now ADHD. It was HARD for me and did not come naturally. I had to listen to Strunk & White's little book of grammar on CD five times in a row before some of the basics started sticking with me. I consider myself a scholar (meaning lifeling learner) of writing. And yet, I might put it in the category as "like breathing" today.

And then in Outliers, Malcolm Gladwell stressed the role of practice - which certainly rings true for me. Geoff Colvin made a similar case in Talent is Overrated.

There's a spark - there's energy - there's a dedication to practice/learn and then there is fit. Like breathing.

Combining the notions of the strengths revolution, as brought to us by Buckingham and others, what we know about practice from Colvin, Gladwell and others and this notion of "like breathing" seems helpful and interesting to me. What do you think?

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My talk at Santa Clara University

2009-05-14T21:50:33-05:00

Check out the latest newsletter from Santa Clara University. The cover piece is an article about a talk I did there about generating breakthroughs and focusing.

Check out the latest newsletter from Santa Clara University. The cover piece is an article about a talk I did there about generating breakthroughs and focusing.

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How to generate breakthroughs - in one line.

2009-05-14T20:57:56-05:00

I got an email from a reader named John: Hello Lisa, I'm writing to you because I'm in the process of recording an audio course.... and I make reference to your work. Revision, especially when trying to hold down a...

I got an email from a reader named John:

Hello Lisa,

I'm writing to you because I'm in the process of recording an audio course.... and I make reference to your work.

Revision, especially when trying to hold down a job, is a big personal project ... and Two Weeks to a Breakthrough has been really influential to the way I approach it.

I was wondering if you had a quick (single sentence) piece of advice or top tip that I could include for students, when I plug your book?

Many thanks,
John _________


I sent John a few one-liners to choose from:

If you want to remain focused and in action toward your goal, you can make big strides and create positive momentum by doing a little bit every day.

Research show us that you can zoom toward your goal if you work at it a little each day - this is better than being a weekend warrior!

Have a big goal? Chip away at it a little bit per day and you will get there fast.

Focus is the act of working on what matters most.

To generate breakthroughs, stay focused and take small actions every day.

Like the puff of air from a butterfly's flap, small daily action reverberate and create a wind of progress.


I think I like that last one best. What's your one-liner for success?

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Butterfly Effect - Let me count the ways

2009-05-05T18:34:30-05:00

I see examples of the butterfly effect everyday and I just can't stop encouraging people to give its power a try. Got this email last week: Hi Lisa, My name is Mike ___ and I am launching a consulting practice....

I see examples of the butterfly effect everyday and I just can't stop encouraging people to give its power a try. Got this email last week:

Hi Lisa,
 
My name is Mike ___ and I am launching a consulting practice.  I’m using your Two Weeks to a Breakthrough to help get this launch off the ground and find my first opportunity.  I’m very impressed with your book and believe it will be a very effective tool for me.  Therefore, I would very much like your insight and feedback regarding my business concept and bio.
 
I would like to forward you my business concept and bio early next week.  Then, if you are amenable to my request, I would dearly love to spend 30 minutes or less with you via phone to hear your thoughts and comments.
 
I would very much appreciate your consideration of my request.  I realize that you are very busy and your time is valuable, so I would be willing to adjust my schedule to your availability.
 
Respectfully,
Mike _____


My response to Mike:

Sure, Mike, send it along. Flap, flap. Everyday. That's the trick.

Lisa


Now, Mike, if you are out there, I need to nudge you a bit. The butterfly effect works because we flap a wee bit every day. So follow through and send me the information and then keep flapping! You never know what might happen (actually, we can't know, that's chaos for you - magically and wonderfully, and sensitively unpredictable).

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Excellent Post About Learning a New Language

2009-04-22T20:20:14-05:00

Check out this post by brain expert Robyn McMaster called Challenge Your Brain to Learn Spanish. The post was inspired by a twitter conversation Robyn and I had a few days ago (you can see that here). If one of...

Check out this post by brain expert Robyn McMaster called Challenge Your Brain to Learn Spanish. The post was inspired by a twitter conversation Robyn and I had a few days ago (you can see that here). If one of your goals is to learn a new language, the post will be really helpful.

I am following Robyn's advice to improve me chances of retaining what I learn and speeding up my ability to comfortably use the language. I have started and stopped Spanish lessons many times. But this will be the time, I know it!


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Generating Breathroughs - It's your time.

2009-04-19T21:56:31-05:00

The big news about Susan Boyle - the middle-aged lady from the UK who sang on "Who's Got Talent," and is now a sensation - is a great example of the power of the butterfly effect. One thing one action...

The big news about Susan Boyle - the middle-aged lady from the UK who sang on "Who's Got Talent," and is now a sensation - is a great example of the power of the butterfly effect.

One thing
one action
one conversation
then another
then a decision
then another action

and then - POW - something big happens.

But it only happens when all those little things occur. Are you focused and in action? Are you talking about your goals? Are you sharing your ideas with others? Are you being brave?

I just posted the link to the You Tube video/PPT I did back in 2007 to the music of Breakthrough over on Management Craft (Breakthrough is the song that my brother wrote inspired by my book, Two Weeks to a Breakthrough. Head on over and check out the video if you need a quick 6 minute dose of inspiration.

Then flap, flap, flap.

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Van Gogh and Career Killers

2009-04-12T06:42:33-05:00

Patrick over at Helping You to Succeed opens his post called, 7 Career Killers, with this great quote from Van Gogh: "Your profession is not what brings home your paycheck. Your profession is what you were put on earth to...

Patrick over at Helping You to Succeed opens his post called, 7 Career Killers, with this great quote from Van Gogh:

"Your profession is not what brings home your paycheck. Your profession is what you were put on earth to do with such passion and such intensity that it becomes spiritual in calling." - Vincent Van Gogh

This is the first post that I have read quotes both Vincent Van Gogh and Peter Drucker - interesting combination. Check out the whole post and the 7 Career Killers.

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Oh, Overwhelm - Redux

2009-04-09T20:34:36-05:00

Wow, this has been a busy week! And there have been times when I caught myself feeling a bit overwhelmed. I know better. I know that overwhelm is a state of mind that we can select and unselect and I...

Wow, this has been a busy week! And there have been times when I caught myself feeling a bit overwhelmed. I know better. I know that overwhelm is a state of mind that we can select and unselect and I know that overwhelm is a choice.

And when I remind myself of this, I choose to stop feeling overwhelmed. I feel blessed to be busy and active and absolutely in control of my time and success. As an intrapreneur - in charge of building a piece of my firm's business - I need to be at my best. I cannot be at my best when I am feeling overwhelmed or out of control.

Shake it off. Dismiss it. Scram.

To commemorate my on and off again (now OFF) relationship with overwhelm this week, I thought I would share a business poem I wrote on Management Craft in 2004 called, Oh, Overwhelm. I hope you enjoy it. And in case you are wondering, yes, I know I am no Robert Frost. :-)

Oh Overwhelm

Try as I might, I did not get it done
I'm annoyed by others all smiles and fun.
Tired, frazzled, unable to think
Do I need a lobotomy or just a stiff drink?
Oh well, oh overwhelm.

Am I dense, am I slow, am I poor?
Why is this work I loved such a bore?
I hope for a cyclone to take it all away
The stacks, the people, the bosses, the fray.
Oh well, oh overwhelm.

The problems number too many
Sane employees, are there any?
I want to be good, want to do well
I’ve ended up in manager’s hell.
Oh well, oh overwhelm.

Now wait one moment
Musn't allow this self-inflicted torment.
It’s just a day and just a job
Not something deserving my sob.
Oh well, oh overwhelm.

I’ll shake it off, reject the funk
Sit in peace, chant like a monk.
These thoughts of failure I’ll abandon
So bring it on, bring it on!
Oh well, oh overwhelm.

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Looking for Contentment?

2009-03-27T19:52:15-05:00

I love this post from Leo at Zen Habits called, The Cure for What Ails You:How to Beat the Misery of Discontentment. Check it out. Whether we are happy, fulfilled, at peace - content - is in our control and...

I love this post from Leo at Zen Habits called, The Cure for What Ails You:How to Beat the Misery of Discontentment. Check it out.

Whether we are happy, fulfilled, at peace - content - is in our control and we can change in an instant. Sure there are truly tragic events that will rock our worlds, and rightly so, for a time. But many of us feel discontent in the absence of tragedy or setback. Sometimes we let a dullness take over our daily existence and become numb to the wonders of our life.

I feel this way several times a day. And I have to catch myself and snap back out of it and get refocused on what matters or unfocused and relaxed. My wonderful cat, Paris, just came to see me so I will go and enjoy her.

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