Maybe – A Farmer’s Tale

This is one of my favorite fables. How do you think this could apply to your life?


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10 Forgiveness Tools (to help you let go of anger at your ex and yourself) by Karen Salmansohn

10 Forgiveness Tools (to help you let go of anger at your ex and yourself) by Karen Salmansohn

POSTED ON: September 21, 2011

Originally an article on

Why forgiving your past is a sexy love magnet for attracting more love and joy into your future.

In my book Prince Harming Syndrome, I explain how experiencing a bad love relationship (or a series of bad love relationships) can feel a lot like getting an electric shock every time you go for some cheese. After a while you think, “Hmmm, maybe I shouldn’t go for that cheese any more.” Similarly, after a while you might start to think, “Hmmm, maybe I shouldn’t go for love anymore.”

But you’ve got to have love in your life to be happy! It’s in our human biological nature, says my favorite philosopher buddy Aristotle. He called love an “essential external good” of the highest importance with insight and knowledge being “essential internal goods.” Our true nature, according to Aristotle, is to love and be loved!

Although, admittedly after a bad breakup, the concept of love can feel more like2,456,841st nature.

I confess after I discovered my ex-Prince Harming cheating, I was tempted to keep myself emotionally protected. Thankfully, this breakup eventually led me to a big breakthrough. I realized I was not meant to learn: “I’ll never fall in love again!” I was meant to learn: “I didn’t fully understand what true love was all about.”

Thanks to this ex, I gained a plethora of insights on love which led me into the arms of my fiancé Prince Charming! These days, I look back on my ex with gratitude. So much so, I’ve re-nicknamed him my “Teacher.” I even replaced his name in my cell phone.

At this point, I’m convinced that nearly all our lessons in life are lessons in love. A big-time lesson: learning to send loving thoughts to your ex even if he’s harmed you. You must compassionately understand that his “harming” is a sign of his inability to love rightly because he’s operating from a lower consciousness. You must therefore pray for your ex to gain insight so he might grow into his highest potential.

Yes, if you want to get better at loving and being loved, it’s essential you learn the love of compassionate forgiveness. After all, it’s super easy to send loving thoughts to someone who’s loving toward you. But if you are to move forward into a healthy love relationship, you must release past negative emotions—all those lower vibrational energies created by anger, resentment and fears. You must do this for many reasons.

Let me start to explain by sharing a little story about a snake and a mistake.

The Snake Mistake

There once was a woman who was wandering in the desert and was bitten by a poisonous snake. All she could think about was how angry she was at this poisonous snake for biting her and angry at herself for wandering in the desert. And so she could not relax, forgive the snake, forgive herself and thereby calmly see that she could solve this poison problem and save her life, simply by sucking out the poison from her arm, as she’d learned years ago—but forgotten because she was angry. She passed away. The lesson learned? Forgiveness is a panacea for what ails you.

It’s funny. We all rationalize our anger as a necessary force to impel us to better results. But more often than not, anger blocks us from full mental clarity.

Aristotle said it well when he said: “We are easily deceived by our sense perceptions when we are in an emotional state…so that even a very slight resemblance makes the coward think that he sees his enemy … and the more emotional he is, the smaller is the similarity required to produce this effect.”

Basically, it’s in your best mental interest to release your anger so you can see the world more clearly. Anger is not only unhealthy for your mental state, but also for your body, creating coronary heart disease and high blood pressure. Researchers at the University of Ohio have reported that angry people take even longer to recover from injury.

Anger has also been shown to be at the root of many addictions as far ranging as drug, alcohol, food and shopping addictions. Addicts seek these vices to avoid feeling the pain of past resentments. Their anger becomes a boomerang—a “boomeranger” of sorts—coming back to whack them with an addiction.

A recent study by the University of Wisconsin did a test comparing “Forgiveness Therapy” versus routine drug/alcohol therapy. They showed “Forgiveness Therapy” helped to relieve the anger behind substance abuse even more successfully than routine drug/alcohol therapy. Not only did subjects display faster success, but created less recidivism.

Basically, just as there is alluring sexual attraction (which people can feel but not see), there’s also angry energy repulsion (which people can feel but not see). If you think angry thoughts, you will literally emit an angry vibration that can be intuitively felt by others—as if you’re giving off an anti-charisma.

Many quantum physicists believe your angry vibration can be felt in a larger universal energy field—thereby attracting negative circumstances. A well-known quantum physics expert, Lynne McTaggert, wrote about a study she witnessed where a happy person sent out loving energetic thoughts to an angry person, which then successfully calmed this angry person’s temper.

For these many reasons—and more—The Law of Attraction begins with The Law of Subtraction! Meaning? If you want to find healthful love, you must first let go of the pain of your past. Voilà.

1. Tell yourself: “I cannot always control what goes on outside. But I can control what goes on inside. I forgive my ex, and am determined to gain insights on how to wisely avoid love situations like this one in my future.” Become determined to make this the breakup that led to your breakthrough. Or as I like to say: “Sometimes you have to reach ‘f*** this’ to get to ‘post-f*** this,’” the highly energized time when you are determined to break patterns of pain.

2. Rewrite your ex’s name in your cell phone as “Teacher.” Trust me. You will feel better immediately.

3. Write a thank you letter to your ex for all you’ve learned. Don’t send it. Keep it nearby to read every time you find yourself slipping back into your angry thoughts.

4. Tell yourself: “We are all good, loving souls who occasionally get lost.”

5. Remind yourself of a time you were forgiven. Be altruistic. Forgive back to your ex.

6. Remind yourself that when you resent someone you give them control of your emotions. You don’t want to give your ex that power.

7. Remind yourself when you respond with hate to hate, anger to anger, bitterness to bitterness, you ironically become part of the problem.

8. If you’re feeling stressed in general about your ex, supplement your SAM-e levels—which is a naturally occurring molecule produced in the body that becomes depleted due to stress, age and diet.

9. Remind yourself that when you train your brain to think more loving thoughts, your positive energy attracts more positive people and results. Plus, being peaceful makes you far sexier—so you’re more of a love magnet instead of a negativity magnet.

10. Remember: Love success is the best revenge!


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Three (Incredibly Simple) Questions The Most Successful People Use To Change The World

Mike Maddock, Contributor (Forbes Magazine),  Entrepreneur, Author, Speaker and Idea Monkey

I’ve heard it said that the most brilliant business ideas are often the simplest. From my experience, it’s true. In fact, when I am fortunate enough to receive sage advice from a famously gifted person, I’ll often ask myself, “Why didn’t I think of that?” So here I humbly share with you a winning formula that I see leaders use again and again and again…to change the world.

Use this formula the next time you feel stuck—whether you are trying to change your industry, your company or your personal life—and I promise you it will work.

Question Number 1: What’s the outcome I want?

Most people seem to get stuck in the moment, caught up in the drama of a situation they don’t like. They unwittingly wind up playing the helpless victim, and as I’ve written in the past, victims can’t innovate because they are focused on the problem—not solutions. You will hear them talk about how things aren’t fair, who has wronged them, and they look for encouragement or excuses to feel better about the status quo. While this may make them feel good, being energized by problems is a recipe for inaction.

Asking the question “what is the outcome I want?” forces the mind to focus on the final destination, not the current bumps in the road. The brilliance of this question is that it immediately puts you in the “creator” mindset. And once successful people envision the destination, they move quickly to the second, world-changing question.

Question Number 2: What stands in my way?

(Hey, I told you these were simple questions.)

The best leaders are masters at identifying and prioritizing obstacles that are between them and the outcome they want. Then they brainstorm ways to eliminate, avoid or neutralize the obstacles.

Last year I saw George Clooney on a late night talk show. He had recently lost 20-plus pounds that he’d put on for a movie role. The host was amazed at how good Clooney looked and asked him how he had managed to lose the weight so quickly. Clooney’s response sounded something like, “I ate less and exercised more.”

Too often in business, we talk about how hard it is to “lose weight” while reaching for a potato chip. But leaders using this formula move quickly from the outcome, to the plan, to the execution.

“I want to be 20 pounds lighter,” says the enlightened leader. “So what stands in my way?” Let’s see…

I don’t seem to make time for exercise.

So I will start the day with exercise or I will block time on my calendar.

So each weekend, I’ll pack my gym bag for the entire week and put it in my car.

I need to eat better because a bad diet will make this impossible.

So I will do my homework, buy healthy snacks and eat small portions throughout the day.

So I will pack my lunch and stop eating fast food.

Without a bunch of accountability, this will never happen.

So I’ll tell my friends, family and coworkers about my goal and when it will be achieved.

So I will buy a digital scale and weigh myself every day.

Question Number 3: Who has figured it out already?

So now our creators have identified the outcome they want. They have created a list of obstacles, prioritize the list and identified ways to overcome each obstacle. This is where some leaders spring into action while others pause to steal ideas. Yes, I wrote steal ideas. But since stealing is a politically incorrect term, we’ll call their strategy parallel engineering.

In the mid ’90s, our company had grown to about 25 people. We had dozens of projects happening at once and needed a more efficient way to manage the growing complexity of our business. So being the brilliant, naïve entrepreneurs that we were, we naturally decided to build a software system to help us track, manage and optimize each project.

After spending roughly $185,000 and hundreds of hours in time, we scrapped the project. Three phone calls later we bought an off-the-shelf system that did 90 percent of the things we were trying to build into our own custom solution.

Gosh, I wish we had paused to parallel engineer ideas.

Intelligence is learning from your own mistakes; wisdom is learning from the mistakes of others. It’s less painful to be wise than smart. It’s also a lot cheaper. That’s why this third question is so important.

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Have patience with everything unresolved in your heart…..

“I would like to beg you dear Sir, as well as I can, to have patience with everything unresolved in your heart and to try to love the questions themselves as if they were locked in rooms or books written in a very foreign language. Don’t search for the answers, which could not be given to you now, because you would not be able to live them. And the point is to live everything. Live the questions now. Perhaps then, someday far in the future, you will gradually, without even noticing it, live your way into the answer.” –Rainer Maria Rilke

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Can One Voice Make a Difference? YES!

Written by Tara Sophia Mohr. One of the most positive and coherent Life Coaching voices today, helping women clarify and play big.

one voice      Wednesday, November 14, 2012 by Tara Mohr

What difference can be made by one person, one voice?
On the issues you are most passionate about, can your one voice really make a difference?
We’ve all wondered about this at one time or another.
I think you’d be surprised by what the scientific research has to say about it. I was.
Let’s go back to Yale University, 1961, to one of the most famous psychology experiments ever done, the Milgram experiment.
Here’s how the experiment went: Each participant (a volunteer who agreed to participate in the study) was told they’d be the “teacher,” teaching another participant, “the learner”, a set of word pairs. When the learner got an answer wrong, an experiment administrator–an official looking authority figure in a gray coat–told the teacher to give the learner a painful electric shock.
Thankfully, the learners weren’t really being shocked – they were actors, but the teachers didn’t know that. As far as the teachers knew, they were delivering painful and potentially extremely harmful electric shocks to another human being. Milgram’s question was: Would they do it? And what factors would impact whether they would do it?
Though many of the teachers expressed concern as they administered shocks and heard screams of pain from the learners, a shocking 65% of “teachers” continued giving the shocks.
The study showed that when firmly instructed by an authority figure, most people shift into “obedience” mode and listen to the instructions – even if they need to betray their conscience.
Unfortunately, the study has been replicated dozens of times yielding similar results.
I’ve known about this study for over a decade, but last week I learned about some variations of the study that inspired me.
I wanted to share them with you, because they have everything to do with you.
In one version of the study, an actor played another “teacher,” and sat right next to the subject so the subject could, essentially, look over his shoulder and see what another teacher was doing.
In the experiment, the “planted” teacher administered all the shocks without protest or reservation. 100% of the volunteer subjects followed suit, also delivering the shocks.
We’ve all been in these situations – uncomfortable with what we are being asked to do. We look around to see – do other people think this is reasonable? If everyone else is crossing the street against the light, or pretending it’s normal to do something that harms the earth, or ignoring the homeless person on the street, we tend to do the same, even if we feel concerned or have reservations about it.
But listen to this. In the opposite variation of the study, two actors played teachers, again sitting right next to the subject. The two “planted” teachers rebelled – they refused to keep giving the shocks. Watching their rebellion, only 10% of the subjects complied.
It’s pretty stunning. The number of people doing harm to other human beings changed tenfold depending on whether there was a peer nearby speaking up against that harm, or a peer going along with it.
At one time or another, all of us ponder the question, “Can one voice make a difference?”
When it comes to standing up for a dissenting point of view, when it comes to saying no to violence or cruelty, the answer is clearly: yes.
In many ways, life is the Milgram experiment. We are often being told – subtly if not explicitly – to do the things that do harm – to do things that harm the earth, to turn a blind eye to the suffering in our communities, to accept as “just the way it is” things that in fact do and perpetuate harm. Can we be the ones to say no?
What tables do you sit at – in your work, in your community, in your family, where you could be the one to speak up?

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You Are Not Your Body: Janine Shepherd at TEDxKC

We often define ourselves by things that are “outside” us: relationships, work, family — even our own bodies. But what would it mean to have your life dramatically altered and your body irrevocably damaged? Who would you be then? This talk explores the impact of loss on the human psyche and the universal quest to find meaning and fulfillment. It is only through the process of losing everything we thought we needed that we find who we truly are.

Janine Shepherd is a walking paraplegic; she is also a qualified pilot and aerobatics instructor, international speaker and author. Once voted as one of the world’s most outstanding and inspirational people, Janine devotes her professional life to empowering others to overcome adversity.


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Happy Jewish New Year to all my Jewish Friends.


This is a summary of Pirkei Avot* as taught by Maury Schwartz, beloved father, grandfather, and teacher.  Maury taught religious school for 60 years

•    Do not do to others what you would not want them to do to you.
•    In all things, strive to cause no harm.
•    Treat all living things with respect.
•    Treat your fellow human beings, your fellow living things, and the world in general with love, honesty, and faithfulness.
•    Do not overlook evil or shrink from administering justice, but always be ready to forgive wrong doing, freely admitted and honestly regretted.
•    Live with a sense of joy and wonder.
•    Always seek to be learning something new.
•    Test all things; always check your ideas against the facts, and be ready to discard even a cherished belief if it does not conform to them.

*Pirkei Avot (Hebrew: פרקי אבות‎), also pronounced Pirkei Avoth, or Pirkei Avos, which translates to English as Chapters of the Fathers.  It  is a compilation of theethical teachings and maxims of the Rabbis of the Mishnaic period. Because of its contents, it is also called Ethics of the Fathers. The teachings of Pirkei Avot appear in the Mishnaic tractate of Avot, the second-to-last tractate in the order of Nezikin in the Talmud. Pirkei Avot is unique in that it is the only tractate of the Talmud dealing solely with ethical and moral principles; there is little or no halacha found in Pirkei Avot.


5 Pieces of Advice Everyone Ignores (but Shouldn’t!)

From the October 2012 issue of O, The Oprah Magazine

Martha Beck shares her best words of wisdom—which could change lives if only people bothered to give them a try.

She generally gave herself very good advice (though she very seldom followed it).” That’s what Lewis Carroll wrote about Alice, and it’s true of most people. We go through life generally getting good counsel about what’s best for us—and then vigorously ignoring it. This explains why I never run out of clients. It’s amazing: Intelligent adults pay me for advice so obvious worms can follow it (this, as we’ll see, is no exaggeration), then fail to act on it, then pay me to advise them again.

Here and now, out of sheer guilt, I’ve decided to spell out the best—and, mysteriously, most ignored!—advice I possess. If you follow it, I guarantee the results will be positive. If you don’t, at least you won’t be alone.

1. What leaves you feeling bad, do less of. What leaves you feeling good, do more of.
This one suggestion is all you really need to find your destiny, form loving relationships, achieve optimal health, and have the best life story in the bingo parlor during your golden years. And it isn’t hard to remember, judging by the fact that worms easily take it to heart. Put a worm at the bottom of a simple T-shaped maze, with food in the left side of the top and a mild electric shock in the right, and it will develop fervent leftist inclinations. Yet many clever humans turn repeatedly to the very things that ruin our health and happiness: artery-clogging junk food, alcoholic lovers, soul-crushing jobs.

We do this because, unlike worms, we convince ourselves that there are good reasons to do ourselves harm. We say things like “I had a hard day; I deserve this industrial-size bag of chips.” Or “You always hurt the one you love.” Or “But I need the paycheck!” Yet I believe all human beings—even politicians—are born with the capacity for suffering and joy for a reason: so that we can navigate the world as well as a worm.

Notice that I’m putting the emphasis on how something leaves you feeling, not on how you imagine it will make you feel. Worms have to experience a maze several times before they start making optimal decisions. Once the experience registers, however, they trust it. Not so with us. We overthink experience—and end up bedazzled by the same electricity that Tasered our last relationship, or disdaining the simplicity of things that reliably nourish us.

Today, try pausing before any action you take and recall how that action made you feel in the past. For example, writing often seems frightening or burdensome to me before I start, yet as many writers before me have said, I love having written. On the other hand, while nothing seems more appetizing to me than baked goods, I know that both wheat and sugar leave me feeling droopy and queasy. Just pausing to vividly recall the past result of each action helps me choose writing over procrastination and bananas over cookies. If you think through how each action leaves you feeling, you’ll find yourself more and more able to choose those that add up to your best life.

Next: Why you should take smaller steps
2. To achieve bigger goals, take smaller steps.
As a teenager, I often injured myself trying to run mountain trails. Then I noticed that bikers downshift to climb hills. I began mimicking them, taking steps so tiny they felt inconsequential. This allowed me to run uphill quickly without getting tired, winded, or hurt. The one race in which I actually placed was on a mountain trail where I scurried along like a mouse on a mission, zipping past runners whose gazelle-like leaps were taxing their lungs and ruining their knees.

It turns out that the tiny-steps approach applies to any difficult thing, from schoolwork to parenthood to career. The bigger the task, the smaller my steps. If I feel myself tiring or avoiding tasks, I cut my steps in half, then in half again, until each step feels easy. Between steps, I give myself a reward—nothing huge, just a ten-minute nap in the sun, a smoothie, some online window shopping.

My clients find this shocking. They want to achieve big goals, and they love those spectacular, gazelle-like leaps. One client I’ll call Roberta planned to start getting up two hours early each morning, running to the gym, and lifting weights before work. She’d had this plan for five years. She hadn’t acted on it once. I suggested that, instead, she get up five minutes early, put on gym clothes, then have coffee—full stop. She thought this ridiculous (they always do), but it worked (it usually does). Roberta’s five minutes in gym clothes grew to ten, then to 15, then to a Zumba class she loved. She’s still increasing her fitness, one tiny step at a time.

3. Lie down and rest for a while.
Speaking of health regimens, there’s a big piece of getting fit that most of us shortchange: rest. The majority of my clients who complain of depression, anxiety, irritability, and weight gain are actually chronically tired. The problems caused by lack of rest can feel so intricate, but the solution is so simple: Lie down, dear. Just lie down.

If you’ve ever attended a meeting after lunch, you know the mild coma endocrinologists call postprandial dip, which makes you want to lay your head down and drool during your boss’s PowerPoint presentations. And why not? Totally relaxing for just ten minutes can reenergize your body, sharpen your mind, and make you much less likely to weep when you can’t find a stapler.

In many cultures, it’s customary to lie down during the day. In ours, it’s emphatically not. To get used to the idea anyway, try a yoga class or the Alexander Technique, which you can do on the floor—any floor, even at work (instructions available online). If all else fails, just channel your inner worm.

Next: What to do when you don’t know what to say
4. When you don’t know what to say, try the truth.
I won’t lie: Investing in resting can cause social awkwardness. For example, an acquaintance I’ll call Jill recently asked me to drive an hour (each way) to meet her for dinner. I was exhausted, and though I like Jill, I’ve learned the hard way that when I put politeness over basic needs, I end up feeling resentful, which damages the relationship.

When I suggested that Jill and I take a rain check, she frostily asked what could possibly be more important than a chance to connect with her. I tried to invent a fictional business trip or convincing symptoms of bird flu, but my perfidious mouth blurted the truth: “I want to lie down.”

I felt Jill’s outrage as she absorbed the fact that on my priority list, getting some rest outranked dining with her. Truth often has this effect, but despite the initial sting, it makes for stronger relationships. If I’d lied, I’d have misled Jill and angered myself. I want friends who want what’s best for me, and Jill can either accept that or find someone who’s willing to dine under duress.

No matter what your truth may be—about political views, movie preferences, the desire to live “off the grid” eating roadkill—calmly expressing it cuts a clear path through the jungle of social connection.

5. Free yourself from dysfunctional people by refusing to try to control them.
You don’t even need to say it—I can already hear you thinking: If I tell the truth in every awkward situation, there will be hell to pay with my mother/husband/sister/coworker/book club! I get it: There are people in your life who, for various reasons, don’t want your truth. You may think you have to change those people to live in total authenticity. Don’t even try.

I labored for decades to make sad people happy, rigid people flexible, aggressive people empathetic, and so on, before finally noticing that (1) this never worked, and (2) it drove me insane. Then I read codependency expert Melody Beattie’s advice on how to deal with dysfunctional people: “Unhook from their system by refusing to try to change or influence them.” This felt totally alien and absolutely right, and it works. The key, I’ve found, is to stay the heck away from the idea of “making” someone do, feel, or think anything. This is not your job. Your job is to maximize your own happiness, kindness, and health. Let others choose whether to follow.

At this point, I should note that Alice in Wonderland did take some of her own advice. She remembered, for example, that “if you drink much from a bottle marked ‘poison,’ it is almost certain to disagree with you, sooner or later.”

You’ve already had enough life experience to notice when a situation, a person, or a task is marked “poison.” Remember how much that situation hurt the last time, and choose one that feels better now. Take small steps, lying down often along the way. Tell the truth and stay in your own business. Anything else is poison. And if you actually use this seldom-followed advice, you may one day wake up and realize that your life has become a wonderland.

Martha Beck’s latest book is Finding Your Way in a Wild World (Free Press).

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Confessions of a Know-It-All Do-It-All, by Stand Up, Mama

GUEST POST Sally Robertson – Founder of Stand Up, Mama!

“I wrote the following piece as part of an online blog writing class I took with the fabulous Laurie Foley at the end of 2011. I’d completely forgotten it and just discovered it as I sat down to write some material for the one-woman show I’m working on. I’m glad to say that the treatment for the nerve disorder I refer to in the post did work and I’ve been symptom-free for the past three months. Here is the post I wrote:

Oprah often quotes Maya Angelou who once told her that “When you know better, you do better”.

With all due respect to the icon of living your best life and her wise mentor, Maya, I beg to disagree. I think there are millions of us who know way better and yet continue not to do better. We do worse with the added layer of anxst and guilt caused by the fact that we do know better.

If there were a Phd in “Knowing Better”, I would have it. I know so-better and yet continue to not DO better.

As a mother, I KNOW that I need to put my “oxygen mask” on first, where “oxygen mask” is shorthand for take care of my needs first, refuel my emotional and physical tank first, make sure that I’m taking of myself first BEFORE taking care of the needs of my children. And yet, even knowing that, I continue to take care of my children’s needs and others’ needs first.

Earlier this month, I went for my annual examination with my obgyn. There was a slightly awkward moment when the receptionist had problems finding my records. She then quietly informed me that I was last there in 2006 when I had the post-labor check-up after my now 5 year old son was born. Apparently “annual” when it comes to my needs means once every five years. When it comes to my children’s health, however, I have conformed to that old once a year definition of annual.

I found this to be revealing about the standards of care I apply to my own life and those I apply to my children. It was one of those moments that brings you figuratively to your knees.

It made me realize that although I “know it all”, that knowing has not stopped me from “doing it all”.

Doing it all takes its toll. As Oprah rightly says, when something is wrong with your life, your life will first try to tell you in a whisper.

Most of us ignore the whisper. We ignore that inner voice and we ignore our body’s physical messages because we’re way too busy taking care of others to pay attention to ourselves.

In my own case, you would think that – knowing better – I might have taken some steps to address a decade of insomnia. But, no. Taking time to do that would take time away from all the other things that I think I should be doing first. I figured that on some day, at some time in the future, I would take care of the elephant in the room. Until then, I would just keep on keeping on.

Finally, my body has said “screw you.” Last week, I was diagnosed with a rare nerve disorder. It’s nickname is “the suicide disease” because the pain can become so intense that, well, you get my drift.

My “do it all” body has finally had enough. It’s challenging me to put what I know into practice. Knowing – without more – is not enough.

So I’ve been forced to question why it is that someone who has spent the last decade studying behavior and how to live one’s best life has been so damn stubborn in applying that knowledge to her own life.

My conclusion is that I’ve mastered a way of living that doesn’t serve me but at which I’ve become incredibly accomplished. I’ve become the Yo-Yo Ma of living in a self-sacrificing way. In the book, “The Outliers”, Malcom Gladwell wrote that it takes 10,000 hours of deliberate practice to master a skill.

As a 43 year old, if I look back at the last 20 years, that would equate to 87,600 hours (based upon 12 hours a day for 365 days a year for 20 years). For those 87,600 hours, I have practised living in a certain way. I’ve practised not delegating for many of those 87,600 hours. When I was in my twenties, that didn’t matter quite so much as the only things I juggled were my day-job as an attorney and the hangover from the night before. However, the impact of the practice of not delegating and not taking care of myself became increasingly significant as I added three children into the mix and building my own business. The deep practice of doing everything myself (either because I thought I could do it better myself or for the somewhat ironic reason of feeling that I couldn’t possibly ask anyone else to do such a mindless, demeaning chore) started to take its toll physically and emotionally when there simply weren’t enough hours in the day or days in the week for me to cram two or three lives into my one life.

And yet I had become a maestro at living this way. If there were a Carnegie Hall or Sydney Opera House for multitaskers, I would be knee-deep in roses on the stage while the audience clambered to its feet to give me a standing ovation.

Finally, my body has given up on me. I wish that this were the Will Ferrell/Christopher Walken Saturday Night Live skit, where I have a fever and the only prescription is more cowbells. But alas it’s going to take more than cowbells to get this body well again. It is going to take deliberate practice of new life skills. Of delegating tasks that can be done as well as I can do them or, as I’ve recently concluded, well enough.

At that same Doctor’s visit, as I sat in the waiting room I took the opportunity to read some essays from the “End Malaria” book that I had just bought. There is a wonderful essay called “What You Don’t Have To Do” by Kevin Kelly who founded Wired Magazine. He’s talking about work but I think the essay could equally be talking about life in general. He says: “Work at its smartest means doing that work that no one else can do.”

That is what I’m going to start deliberately practicing in my life. Doing only those things that no one else can do.

If it can and should be delegated, it will be delegated. If only I can do it – and it’s something I love to do – then that is something that is worthy of my time.

Will I master this skill immediately? No. If it’s anything like my daughter learning to play saxophone, it may sound like a goose is being strangled in the early days. But gradually my brain will become wired differently as I deliberately practice this new way of living and the goose will turn into a swan elegantly navigating its way through life (even though there may remain some frantic paddling beneath the surface).”

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Happy Secret to Better Work by Shawn Achor

We believe that we should work to be happy, but could that be backwards? In this fast-moving and entertaining talk from TEDxBloomington, psychologist Shawn Achor argues that actually happiness inspires productivity.

Shawn Achor is the CEO of Good Think Inc., where he researches and teaches about positive psychology.

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