10 Lessons from the Book of Joy

The Book of Joy –

His Holiness Dalai Lama,

Archbishop Desmond Tutu

and

Douglas Abrams

 

People seek happiness in the strangest places – in their phones, in the shops,on the internet, eating, drinking, drugs, materialism, consumerism, terrorism…

Yet this happiness is fleeting and superficial.

Joy brings meaning and purpose to life. Joy has depth and it endures.

Finding joy is simple. It is within you and yet it requires outward focus on your part.

There is much to learn from this book, from these 2 spiritual men.

Their beliefs are different in many ways. Many humans on this planet are unable to be friends with, let alone tolerate, someone whose spiritual beliefs are opposing to theirs.

Humanity would do well to observe and learn from these two men.

What I learnt from the book:

  1. Suffering is inevitable. How you respond to suffering is a choice. You can suffer in a way that ennobles rather than embitters.
  2.  Self-centeredness is the cause of much suffering. The drive behind excessive self-focus is to seek greater happiness. The irony is that it ends up doing exactly the opposite.
  3.  A passionate concern for the well-being of others is the source of joy.
  4. Materialism is concerned with sensory satisfaction that is limited and brief.
  5. Joy is a virtuous cycle: the more we turn towards others, the more joy we experience, The more joy we experience the more joy we can bring to others.
  6. Joy, love, compassion and generosity are contagious.
  7. Develop mental immunity by learning to avoid the destructive emotions and develop positive ones.  Take preventative measures against toxic and harmful thoughts.
  8. When we see others as separate they become a threat. When we see other as part of us, part of humanity then there is no challenge we cannot face together.
  9. Hope is the antidote to despair. Despair turns us inwards. Hope turns us into the arms of others.
  10. Joy is the reward of seeking to give joy to others.

Consciously bringing joy into your life, reverberates around your space and your life.

What will you do to bring joy?

“To choose hope is to step firmly forward
into the howling wind,
baring ones chest to the elements,
knowing that, in time,
the storm will pass”
Archbishop Desmond Tutu

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Tolerance is useless

We are often told to become more tolerant.

Tolerance is sometimes even looked upon as a virtue.

But the mere definition of tolerance points to the problem with tolerance.

Look at this definition found on google the ability or willingness to tolerate the existence of opinions or behaviour that one dislikes or disagrees with.

Being tolerant means we will continue to dislike the other.

Of course we’ll put up with the other and we’ll try to live our lives without being too affected by the other.

But will we embrace the other and recognize their humanity?

Will we reach out?

Will we SEE the other?

No. We don’t need more tolerance.

We need more compassion and understanding and inclusion.

Our world is becoming more divided and extremist.

How does this happen?

By spending more and more time with like-minded people.

Think about this. The more time you spend with like-minded people, the more you believe that your way is the right way, the correct way, the only way. This  leads to closed-mindedness.

For people like me, a natural introvert, being with like-minded people is comfortable, and where I like to be.

But what I have realized is that the deeper conversations I have, with people  from other walks of life, grow my compassion, my understanding and my empathy.

  • Talk to a prisoner about their childhood.
  • Talk to a drug addict about their shame.
  • Talk to a student about the obstacles they have to overcome to get to their goals.
  • Talk to a cashier about the abuse customers give them.
  • Talk to a teenager about the difference they want to make in the world.
  • Talk to a security guard about the boredom they endure.
  • Talk to a CEO about the stress they endure.
  • Talk to a mother about her dreams for her children.
  • Talk to people that you tolerate.

Let’s stop being tolerant.

Lets start being compassionate.

Let’s start conversing with  unlike-minded people.

Lets embrace the humanity in all of us.

If you want others to be happy,
practice compassion.
If you want to be happy,
practice compassion.
Dalai Lama

 

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A Life Purpose is NOT essential

The internet has an abundance of sites on “How to find your Life Purpose“.

You will probably have heard that your life is not worth much if you have not worked out your Life Purpose.

Life Purpose is sold as this magical statement, once you have discovered it, unearthed it or created it, you will be on track and bursting with happiness from that moment forth.

And…. in small letters:

If you’re not bursting with happiness you haven’t found your true purpose. Please re-do the course.

I don’t buy it.

For one thing, you don’t find your life purpose by thinking.

You discover your Life Purpose by doing.

For another thing, I would be bored out of my mind of I defined one purpose for my life. I do many different things and this is what keeps me interested and excited about life.

Lastly do not believe the millions of other sites on happiness that tell you your purpose in life is to be happy.

A while ago I was sitting in the smallest room with 12 maximum security prisoners. A few of them were speaking about their childhood experiences, so bad,  that I felt horrified and nauseous. In no ways could I describe this as as a happy experience but I was certainly on purpose – a pretty good feeling.

You probably do know one or two people that seem to be living their Life Purpose. They may even tell you so. It works for them, and I’m not knocking those few people who have figured it all out and are living their purpose.

What I want to offer you in this: Stop worrying and wondering about what your purpose is.

Choose, rather, to live On Purpose.

What does it means to live on purpose? Whatever you are doing choose to give 100% to the task and focus on what you are doing.

Think about the last time you were so absorbed with a task that time passed without you even noticing. That feeling of being absorbed, of thought focused only on what you are doing, of giving your all to the task at hand is the feeling you get when you live on purpose.

What an awesome feeling it is!

How do you live On Purpose?

  1. Take more action. The more you do, the more clear you will get about the kind of things you love doing – then do more of these. Put your hand up. Jump into action.
  2. Practice mindfulness when you are working on a task. If your mind is wandering to other things, bring it back and notice what your body is experiencing as you work. Listen to your breathing. Re-focus on what you are doing.
  3. Choose to be useful as often as you can. Whatever task you are doing, become aware of the usefulness of what you are doing, how you are helping others, what difference this task will ultimately make.

When you choose to live ON purpose instead of spending your time searching for your purpose, you will discover that your life becomes more meaningful and fulfilled.

Is this not your purpose in life anyway? To live life fully and to give 100% to what you are doing?

My challenge to you: Live today and tomorrow On Purpose

The purpose of life
is not to be happy
it’s to be useful.

Ralph Waldo Emmerson

Photo from Flickr

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Building your Confidence Muscle

Do you feel great when you feel confident?

Do you perform well when you feel confident?

Would you like to consciously build you own confidence?

You and I both know that confidence is an asset.

Yet how often do we doubt ourselves and feel inadequate?

If your answer to building confidence is “Fake it till you make it”

Know this – that’ a myth. It may help you through one or two situations but is does not build confidence.  Why? Because its inauthentic, it feels out of integrity and it fuels your self-doubt.

Another myth is that confidence is innate. We are not born confident. We become confident as we learn and grow.

Confidence is like a muscle.

Feed it properly and exercise it well and it will grow strong.

Yes – we can build our confidence muscle and here’s how:

Step 1: Take action.

Remember – confidence is a muscle and you build muscles through practice. Confidence is linked to what we do. I grow; you grow – by doing and learning.

Do you think I was confident when I started coaching? No, I was terrified. The best thing about the course I did was that we were “forced” to coach. We had to have a certain number of hours under our belts before we could qualify. I lacked confidence when I opened my practice, so I have away 2 free sessions to everyone. Everyone came for 2 free sessions and then disappeared. I stopped the free sessions and continued coaching. By coaching I became a better coach.

By doing we develop mastery.

How do we learn? My making mistakes.

Confidence comes from building mastery through practice and learning through feedback.

The first step to building confidence is being in action.

What stops us from taking action?

STEP 2: Build a positive mind-set

Our tendency towards the negativity bias stops us from taking action.

Look at the talk around every dinner table, in every school car park and every conference room:  it’s all gloom and doom about our beloved country.

I’m surprised you’re still here!

When things go wrong in our lives we blame.

When we fail we criticize ourselves more harshly than razor wire wrapped around a new-born baby.

Does any of this build our confidence?

We need the second step: be vigilant about developing a positive mind-set.

Instead of blaming, ask yourself – what can I do to make a difference? How can I learn and grow?

Instead of seeing failure talk about feedback and focus on implementing what you have learnt.

Instead of problems see opportunities. How can I use what I am going through as an opportunity for growth?

Years ago I was on a course that taught me something precious: every night as you lie in bed falling asleep, think about where you are winning in your life. This simple exercise has helped me to feel motivated and inspired to carry on , to do more and to learn more. I still do it, almost every night. If I forget for a while, and the negative bias creeps back (it does because it’s easy to focus on where things are going wrong) then I simply go back to this mind-set practice again.

Focusing on where you are winning is a mind-set that sets you up for success and confidence building.

If you’re not good at focusing your thoughts, write about where you are winning. As you fill your journal with wins in your life, you’ll be able to look back at all you’ve achieved . The confidence muscle will grows and develop.

Making sure your mind-set serves you rather than hindering you smoothest the path for growing that confidence muscle.

Part of this positive mind-set involves Step 3.

Step 3.  Choose to believe in yourself.

Believe that you are capable, believe that you can learn, and believe you can grow.

You are capable of learning and growing, aren’t you?

A belief is a merely a thought.

Here are two thoughts: 1)  I am capable.  2) I am not capable.

Choose one thought and put it in your head now. Say it to yourself.

Which one did you choose?

What are the implications of the thoughts you choose to believe in?

If you chose “I am capable”: You are much more likely to take take action.  You take action. You practice, you get better and stronger. You make a mistake. You take the feedback you learn and take more action . Hey! Your confidence muscle is growing!

If you chose “I am not capable”:  You don’t take action.  Why would you? You don’t learn, you don’t grow. You become incapable. What happens to your confidence muscle? It shrivels.

Choose to believe in your capability, your capacity for learning and growing and grow that confidence muscle.

Three steps will have you glowing with confidence:

Step 1: Take action – become a master through practice, learn through feedback

Step 2: Develop a positive mind-set:  Opportunities not problems; Growth not blame; Feedback not failure

Step 3: Choose to believe in your self – your capacity for learning and growing, your capability for success.

Confidence is a muscle. Confidence grows by building mastery through practice and learning through feedback.

Go now and grow your confidence. Glow with confidence.

With confidence,
you have won before you have started.
Marcus Garvey

Image courtesy of stockimages at FreeDigitalPhotos.net

 

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To be significant – what does it take?

A coach of 22 years, Ronald Chapman wrote in a recent copy of Toastmaster:

Nothing of significance can be born
without major discomfort and disruption.

Read it again!

I recently asked a group of people what they thought their life purpose is.

The majority wanted to be significant in one way or another

They want to leave their mark on the world.

I found a life vision for myself through the Personal Growth Journal of Coaching Culture Clubs and the group coaching of Bryanston No 1 Coaching Culture Club.

A vision is just that, a picture. To become the significant person I envisage myself to be I have to expect ‘major discomfort and disruption’.

I find it rather ironic that I read this quote the day after telling everyone at Bryanston No 1 Coaching Culture Club that in order to achieve my vision I expect a lot of discomfort, but that I allow my saboteur to rule my life because I’m comfortable as I am right now.

How about you?

Have you answered the question for yourself: what is your life vision?

If you are not already living your life vision, do you have a picture – a vision – of what your life could look like?

How will you get there?

Post by JP Gernaat

Some journal questions to get you started.

About John-Peter Gernaat

Owner of Fourways Coaching Culture Club, John-Peter Gernaat is part of world-wide culture shift to incorporate coaching as an essential partnership in life. With a background in training, mentoring and managing people, John-Peter has turned to coaching to help people achieve the highest potential they possess. Coaching Culture Clubs offers a structured coaching programme accessible to everyone as it spreads into every suburb and community. Follow @jpgernaat on LinkedIn or visit www.jpgernaat.com

Picture by Sam Burris

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Joy Unpacked by Experts

In our Coaching Culture Club meetings, we each make a commitment towards the end of the meeting.

At the beginning of the next meeting, we tune into accountability by giving one word that describes how well we kept our commitment.

At our December meeting we made an annual commitment to an action that would serve us well for 2017.

Mine was to rise early and spend up to an hour meditating, visualizing, reading and journaling.

My accountability word right now is “Going strong”.

OK, OK I know that’s two words! Stop being pedantic.

The reason why I am going strong is because I am getting so much out of these early mornings.

My most favorite activity is reading

– because it ties beautifully into a strong value of mine – learning.

The book I am reading right now is a delight. I can’t wait to get to it every morning and read a few pages.

It’s a story of two elderly men who spend a week in each others company for the younger man’s 80th birthday. They bring along an accomplished author to write the story of the week.

The humor brings the delight almost as much as the learning. Mainly because the three men are a Buddhist, a Christian and a Jew. As the author says…. imagine them walking into a bar!

The whole week is dedicated to unpacking JOY: what is joy?; how do we “get” joy? how do we experience joy during suffering? what are the building blocks of joy?

What I love about the book is the simple unfolding of the learnings – and today’s pages reminded me how stuck we can get in our own suffering. We think about how unfair life is, how awful everyone is to us, how we are not coping, how miserable we are, how we wish things could be different. When it is all about “me, me, me” it’s is even more difficult to shift the misery.

These wise men suggest that selfishness is important to the extent of taking good care of yourself, but after that, turn your focus outwards rather than inwards and the misery will shift.

Help others, care for others, think about others.

I know this works, because I have been in the pity pot myself, and experienced the power of shifting my focus outwards. I have worked with clients who have wallowed in the pity pot, and found joy by moving their focus outwards.

Where are you today? Are you inward focused? Are your thoughts obsessing about how tough your life is? Are you all about “me, me, me” ?

I challenge you all, no matter where your focus, to a 24-hour outward focus.

Do for others, care for others, help others.

Share with us what you experienced by commenting below.

Two last things before I close!

The book – have you guessed what it is? If not…

The Book of Joy – His Holiness Dalai Lama, Archbishop Desmond Tutu and Douglas Abrams

Lastly, special thanks to the man in my life who created joy by giving me this book for Valentine’s Day. You may think it’s an odd gift for Valentine’s day – but my Valentine really gets me!

Be Joyful.

Too much self-centered thinking
is the source of suffering.
A compassionate concern for others’ well-being
is the source of happiness.
The Dalai Lama

Photo from Flickr

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Deconstructed cottage pie

 

The kitchen was full of energy: pots boiling , food processor slicing and grating, steamer steaming.

I had started dinner very late and cottage pie was on the menu.

 

There are a number of steps to cottage pie:

Cook the mince, using grated carrots and other veg to make it healthy and allowing you to serve a  one pot dish. Cook and mash the potato. Put the mince in an ovenproof dish, spread potato mash on top, making wavy patterns with a fork. For extra decadence, sprinkle with grated cheese. Bake in the oven until top is browned and dish is piping hot. Serve.

Instead of yummy potatoes, I was steaming cauliflower – cauliflower mash makes for a healthier dish.

Phew, I stressed, it really is late and I’m still busy with the mince.

My husband came in from work, starving.

“What’s for dinner?”, he asked.

Quick as a flash I answered, “Deconstructed cottage pie!”

Somewhere along our adventures in Johannesburg restaurants and conference venues, we’d seen a trend towards deconstructed food – deconstructed apple pie, deconstructed cheese cake, deconstructed salad and many more.

Strange word. To my mind deconstruct means the thing was constructed and now you’re undoing it and offering the food in separate piles. I certainly wasn’t going to construct the cottage pie and then deconstruct it again.

In honour of the lateness of my cooking, I was merely going to put the mince and mash separately on the plate and skip the 20 minutes in the oven. This I decided in the split second it took to answer my husbands question.

In that moment I realized the simple truth!

When you see deconstructed food on the menu the chef, unorganized and running out of time,  is using a fancy word to distract us from the truth.

It worked well for me too!

Now I’m wondering how else I can use this neat trick…..

“How did it get so late so soon?”
Dr. Seuss

Posted in Life Mastery, Managing Stress, Time management | 1 Comment

The Craziest Competition of All

I walked out this morning at 6:30, hoping it would be cool. My dog was, as usual, beside himself with excitement.

As we (my dog and me) rounded the bend, I noticed a young man with the biggest mop of hair  strolling along in front of me. He reminded me of Mogli from Jungle book. He looked like he had just woken up – rubbing his eyes and stretching.

A strange thought slid into my head: I’ll overtake him easily.

He was relaxed and strolling; I was walking as fast as I could.

After about 10 minutes I realized I wasn’t making much progress.

Interesting, since he was relaxed and not in a rush and I was focused on competing with him. (Is it a competition if the other person knows nothing about what is happening??)

Grumpily I conceded that youth may have the edge here.

As we (my dog and me and the young man) walked up the road, a couple, very smartly dressed, walked out of a home. They were much older than the young man, maybe around my age. I chatted briefly to them as I glided past.

Well that was easy, I thought and then relaxed and zoned out as I got lost in my own world of thoughts.

A few minutes later, as we (my dog and me and the young man and the old man and the old woman!)  neared the gate of the suburb I realized that I had in fact caught up with the young man.

Haha, I thought, I do still have it in me.

Perhaps all I needed was to calm down and have patience.

I do know this. I often forget.

In my experience when I am calm and relaxed I perform way better that when I stress myself out with panicky thoughts of time and competition.

It seems like this is a good theme for me for the year: be calm, be patient, be grounded.

Have you thought about a theme for your year? It’s better than setting New Years resolutions.

And if you do select a theme for the year – how do you stay focused on it for the whole year?

Here’s what works for me:

3 steps to keeping focus on a theme for the year:

  • Use notes on your phone to record your self observations
  • Set a weekly reminder to record your observations
  • When the reminder goes off, jot down how well you have lived your theme, what’s not working, what is working.

It’s important to keep the notes short and sweet and honest, so that the task doesn’t become laborious and take lots of time.

Doing this once a week is not to onerous. It also brings your awareness back to the theme – as the weeks go by your awareness grows and you will be able to catch yourself in the moment and make a  change if necessary.

From a relaxed and calm me, to you and your dreams for 2017, have an awesome year!!

Being relaxed, at peace with yourself,
confident, emotionally neutral loose, and free-floating
–these are the keys to successful performance
in almost everything
Wayne W. Dyer

Photo from flickr

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Warning: huge losses due to busyness

id-10034823What I read this morning led me to answer a question in my journal, and this sparked an awful realization for me.

My busyness could be an issue.

One of my closest and dearest friends often calls me “Busy Bee’. I believe its a term of endearment. I hope. I do tend to be busy, often feeling frantic because there is so much to do.

This morning I spent some time reading and writing in my journal.

The book I am reading is called “Success Intelligence” by Robert Holden.  The first chapter is all about busyness – it’s quite an eye-opening read. At the end of the chapter he includes a “Busyness audit” – naturally I decided to do it on myself.

The first question was not pleasant.

What do I lose when I am permanently busy?

I’m not sure I liked my answers, but one has to be truthful when doing these exercises, don’t you agree? Here they are, in the order they came up for me.

The awareness of what I am losing by being permanently busy has emphasized the need to continue with my morning practice mentioned in the last post.

How often do you tell people you are so busy? That things are so hectic? That you don’t have enough hours in the day? That you’re so tired? You need to sleep more? (another friends told me she needs to sleep more just this morning – you know who you are!)

Perhaps you are suffering from permanent busyness?

Take a quiet moment to reflect and answer this question: What do you lose when you  are permanently busy?

“I am too busy not to pray”
Charles Wesley

Image courtesy of photostock at FreeDigitalPhotos.net

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What you do today defines you tomorrow

img_0001Every now and again I read something that makes a light bulb go off in my head – it’s that elusive “aha” moment that we all enjoy.

I’ve had a mad and crazy year. I have made more mistakes in this year that I’ve probably made in my 10 years of working for myself.

 I know why.

I said YES, as I often do, to too many things. One was to launch a new business  – Coaching Culture Clubs, and the other was to take a year-long course that enables me to apply for an Honorary Ranger position with North West parks.

Around September this year, I was thoroughly mad at myself for messing up an email I sent with an incorrect attachment.

I stopped and thought about what was going inside me that resulted in too many mistakes.

I realized that I’d stopped all the best practices I’ve used for many years.

I had told myself I was too busy to take half an hour in the morning to meditate, journal and read. I choose to wake up every day in a frantic state and jump right into busyness.

Fortunately I came across a book called “The Miracle Morning” by Hal Elrod. It’s a quick and easy read and it reminded me that the way I start my day has an impact on how the rest of my day goes.

Start your day in a frantic and panicked state, you will have a frantic and unproductive day.

The “aha” moment in the book was a paragraph called “isolating incidents”. Hal explained how we have a tendency to make an inappropriate choice in the moment, writing it off because just this once won’t matter.

Let’s say you’re wanting to loose weight. You reach for a biscuit, and tell yourself one won’t do any harm. Keep doing this and you become an overweight person.

We do not realize that what we choose in the moment defines who we are becoming.

That’s  the statement that had a huge impact on me. Now I understand where I was going wrong.

Every day when I woke up and said to myself, “I’ve got too much to do, let’s just jump straight into work”.  I was in the process of becoming a person that is rushed and frantic and makes mistakes.

The choices I was making in the moment were determining who I was becoming.

I know I still have lots of inner work to do.

I know the kind of person I want to become.

Which means I have to consciously make choices now which allow me to become the person I want to be.

The question to ask is this : ” Who  am I becoming by taking this action now?”

Thanks to Hal for the inspiration. I’ve gone back to rising early and grounding myself for the day.  What a difference it makes to a day. I am on the road to becoming a better version of me…

My past does not equal my future

Hal Elrod

Posted in awareness, Choices, Habits, Life Mastery, Thought Patterns, Way of Being | 3 Comments