The ONLY way to fulfillment

Massage tables are difficult to climb onto, aren’t they?6790337465_804c467321_m

I made myself comfortable on the shaky bed, and waited restlessly for the massage to begin.

As the masseuse rustled around softly, I smelled the heady aroma of essential oils.

This is going to be good, I thought. I need this. It’s been  tough few months and I’m so stressed. That issue with my client left me depleted. The disconnect between ….

And so off my mind went, visiting all the stresses and problems, turning them over, analysing, obsessing and resolving.

The masseuse did her job very well. I think.

I did not do mine so well.

Later, when I looked back on the experience, (analysing once more!) I realised that I was not present in that massage. I was not focussing on the physical sensations. I was not allowing the experience to infuse my senses.

You may be asking, what does this have to do with fulfilment?

The ONLY way to experience fulfilment is to be present in the moment – good or bad.

Let’s take your work for example.

Lack of fulfilment comes from lack of presence at work, not the work itself.

Your mind makes a judgement about how your work should be.

Your work is not how you believe it should be. Your mind resists your work because it does not fit in with your belief about work.

You start fantasizing about another job. You focus on what your job lacks, and how you hate it.

You are not present to your task. You experience feelings of lack, unhappiness and resentment.

These feelings are the consequences of your belief.

Become present to the task, even if you don’t like it and your feelings will hover around peace and contentment. Focus 100% in the task at hand. Give your best to what you are doing in the present moment.

This is the ONLY way to fulfilment.

Don’t focus on your opinion of the task you are doing. Rather focus on the task itself.

The more you do this, the more often you will experience a state of fulfilment.

My opinion was that I needed that massage. I focussed on why I needed that massage and off my mind went. I missed the massage.

I am having another massage today. I have no intention of missing this one.

Do this: Choose one task every day that you will focus on 100% and put everything you’ve got into that task. Record your feelings and experiences in your journal every day. The following week, focus 100% on two tasks, one in the morning and one in the afternoon. Share your experiences here in the comments or email Kirsten@coach4life.co.za.

 It  is not in the pursuit of happiness that we find fulfilment,

it is in the  happiness of pursuit.

Denis Waitley

Picture From Flickr

Posted in Life Mastery, Thought Patterns, Way of Being | 2 Comments

The One gift to Give Yourself in 2014

Time For ChangePerhaps you have a deep yearning for a more meaningful and fulfilled life.

When life gets busy, work is hectic, responsibilities are huge, you may often feel an emptiness inside and yet you are able to carry on regardless.

The danger is this is exactly how people end up on their deathbeds regretting that they did not make more of their lives.

In the last blog post, I spoke about what fulfilment is NOT.

Today, let’s look at how to begin the shift towards a more fulfilled life.

First Step:  Give yourself the gift of self-reflection.

There is no way you can become more fulfilled if you do not make the time to get to know yourself. After all, how will you know what kinds of experiences and activities fulfil you?

If everyone knew this, fulfilment would not be an issue in so many lives.

Will you commit to doing this?

If YES, read on…

Here is an exercise to start you on the journey.

In this exercise you will access the wisdom of your future self.

PART 1: Create some time where you can work by yourself without interruptions. Become calm and relaxed. You may want to meditate or listen to peaceful music, perhaps even light a candle. You need to be able to write.

Imagine that it is 20 years from now. Your Future Self is living a meaningful and fulfilled life. This person is satisfied and happy and deals effectively with the issues that life presents. Your Future Self has been on a twenty year journey – an awesome and successful journey. He/she has learnt much, does not worry about what others think, lives intentionally and authentically.

When you have a good sense of your Future Self, write a letter to him/ her. (You may even give them a name.) Tell your future self about where you are in life (your Present Self), the difficulties you are having and what it is that you want. Ask questions.

Write until you feel complete.

Take a break for a few days.

Part 2: Prepare yourself as you did in Part 1 – becoming calm and relaxed and getting  good sense of your future self.

Now imagine that you are your Future Self and reply to the letter your Present Self wrote. If you can, write in a different colour, and even with your other hand. Don’t think to hard. Just write whatever comes to mind. Comment on what your Present Self had to say and answer all the questions.

Take a break for a few days.

Part 3: As before, become calm and relaxed. Read the response from your Future Self. Write a list of actions to take. Commit to doing them.

Repeat this exercise every few months.

Hope you will join me on a journey to fulfilment in 2014!

It is not in the pursuit of happiness that we find fulfilment,

it is in the happiness of pursuit.

Denis Waitley

 

 

 

 

 

 

Posted in Fulfillment, Life Mastery, Visualizing | 1 Comment

Avoid these misunderstandings about living a meaningful life.

self-esteemthumbsup-main_FullClients come to see me with specific goals in mind: I want to get promoted OR I want to improve my relationships OR I want to find a partner OR I want to manage my finances better OR I want to be happier etc…

That’s what I call their immediate goal.

99% of the time there is an underlying desire which is much harder to articulate. This desire comes from a deep yearning to live a more valuable life, a more meaningful life and a more fulfilled life.

Understanding that you want to live a more fulfilled life in one thing, but living it is another!

This is because there are some common misunderstandings about living a meaningful and fulfilled life.

One misunderstanding is that

living a more fulfilled life

is about having more.

This comes directly from the language we use when we describe the situation: I want to have a more fulfilled life. It also has to do with the word ‘full’. To get full you have to have more to eat!

If you assess your life by looking at the gap between what you have and what you don’t have, then the goals you naturally work towards will be about filling the gap with things, tangible (like a promotion) or intangible (like a better marriage).  

These things, especially the tangible ones, result in fleeting satisfaction. Once you have those things, you will discover that the underlying yearning is still there.

Another misunderstanding is that

fulfilment equals feeling good.

Ellen, a woman I admire hugely, is a wonderful example. Ellen spends 4 mornings of 40 weeks every year running workshops in various prisons around Johannesburg.   These workshops rehabilitate inmates and teach them how to lead better lives. (see www.heartwork.co.za). When she is not in the prison, she is preparing for the workshops, negotiating with prison officials, raising funds, organising family days and graduation ceremonies for the workshops.

Don’t for one minute assume that Ellen feels good every day. She is often exhausted. She is often hugely frustrated with the red tape she deals with. Her heart breaks when one of her participants gets unfairly treated or abused in some way. She experiences a variety of emotions, some good, some not so good, as she goes about her life’s work.

While Ellen does not feel good every day, she certainly feels fulfilled.

This is the paradox of fulfilment.

You can experience inner peace while fighting  an outer struggle.

Leading a meaningful and fulfilled life is about:

  • Fully expressing who you are by doing what is right for you
  • Making choices
  •  Feeling significant
  • A life of purpose and satisfaction.
  • Living authentically according to your values.
  • Being the person you were meant to be

You’re probably thinking –

this is great, but how do I get there?

Watch out for my next blog post- I’ll give you some pointers and exercises to start you on your journey.

“To be what we are, 

and to become what we are capable of becoming,

is the only end of life.”

 Robert Louis Stevenson

Posted in Fulfillment, Goal-setting, Life Mastery | 8 Comments

Madiba, Rest In Peace

imageNelson Mandela 1918 – 2013

The memorial service for Nelson Mandela took place yesterday. Many fitting and memorable moments of the day will help us to revere Mandela as the great man he was.

 In August 2007 my family and I proudly watched the unveiling of the statue of Nelson Mandela in Parliament Square in London. I remember the excitement of the crowd and the pride we felt  as Madiba came onto the stage. He looked frail even then, and yet lived for many more years.

I know it’s probably a pipe dream, but imagine if every South African citizen ( or even some of them) endeavoured to adopt some of Madiba’s character traits?  South Africa has the potential to be an awesome and amazing country and I believe this is one way we could do it.

Which character traits do you choose to bring more of into your life?

  • Humility: Nelson Mandela always carried a modest outlook of his own importance.
  • Wisdom: Mandela shows a capacity for reason and logic as well as deep insight into the struggles of humanity
  • Forgiveness: One of the most prolific memories of Nelson Mandela is that he bore no grudges and displayed forgiveness for apartheid when most others would have wallowed  in bitterness. In his words: ” “But if I continued to hate them, they would have still had me.”
  • Authenticity: Nelson lived his life according to strong beliefs. He displayed the courage to do what he believed was right not what was popular and so rose to greatness.
  • Desire to make a difference: Nelson Mandela lived his life with purpose and that was to make the world a better place. He was instrumental in setting South Africa on the path to a free society.
  • Perseverance: Madiba never gave up. He continued working towards his ideals through many trials and tribulations. Thank goodness he never have up. If you persevere you will attain your goals.
  • Dignity: Dignity and grace is how we will remember Mandela living his life. At the same time he was self-assured and commanding. He was an exemplary human being.

Nelson Mandela was far more than the character traits I have mentioned. We are blessed to have had such a great and humble man lead our country out of apartheid into democracy.

If you are committed to bringing more Madiba Magic into your life, choose a quality of Mandela’s (you may have one that is not on my list) to work with. Start each day with a quiet moment. Contemplate or meditate on how your life would be if you demonstrated more of that quality each day. Set the intention to do that all day. Then go out there and make a difference.

What counts in life is not the mere fact

that we have lived.

It is what difference we have made

to the lives of others

that will determine

the significance of the life we lead.”

Nelson Mandela

 

 

Posted in Life Mastery, Make a difference, Motivation, Thought Patterns | 5 Comments

Lessons from a dog fight

8328072045_96c3a6e32a_nThe gate bell rang.I immediately panicked.

“I hope that’s not a client I didn’t know about”

I certainly wasn’t ready to see a client – dressed in gym clothes and no make-up.

I answered. Nope. Thank goodness. Two lost dogs were running in the street.

A Good Samaritan had rung the bell to check if they were my dogs.

“Sorry “, I said, “no idea where they come from.”

Half an hour later the gate bell rang again. No panic this time. I knew it was my friend Cathy. We had planned to go for a walk.

Astro, our Jack Russell bounced like a Jack in the Box when he saw Cathy. We battled to hold him down to get his lead around his head. Going for a walk for Astro is like me getting on a plane to a favourite destination – beyond exciting.

Cathy and I headed out to the street. The gate closed behind us.

I noticed two dogs a few metres down the road. They were big, huge in fact – especially compared to my little bouncing dog.

As we headed down the road, the two dogs trotted towards us, tails wagging. They got close to us.

I planned to let them sniff Astro, but Cathy, who obviously had a better sense of dogs than I do, tried to stand between them and Astro.

Suddenly, the bigger of the two dogs sneaked quickly around me and grabbed Astro by the scruff of his neck. The aggressor’s jaws literally closed over Astros neck who yelped incessantly.

I was paralysed.

Cathy yelled at me. “Kick him in the chest.”

The two of us kicked and kicked. The attacking dog was like a ton of bricks and didn’t flinch.

I looked round, desperately, for someone to help us. The street was dead quiet – no person, no car in sight.

Cathy, the self-appointed director of operations, told me to kick his side. So we moved around and kicked some more.

Eventually Cathy started hitting him on his head and eyes.I followed suit.

After, what felt like an eternity, the dog let go.

I picked Astro up and ran back to the house, closing the gate behind me. Cathy chased the two dogs off.

I nervously examined Astro, who was shaking like a leaf. Not too much blood. No deep wounds. Phew.

Cathy and I were out of breath, hearts going like crazy. It was over. We had survived. My dog had survived. Even the enemy had survived!

As friends do, especially woman friends, we have unpacked the situation often. We’ve discussed what went wrong, what we could have/ should have done and what to do differently next time.

Naturaly , there are some life lessons to be learnt from the dog fight!

  • In moments of crisis, a leader will emerge – in this case Cathy. This is good. If you are not the leader, follow. It doesn’t matter who leads, it doesnt matter who follows – as long as someone does. Years ago when I was involved in an armed robbery, I took the lead, my domestic worker followed. We survived then too.
  • In moments of crisis, a team will form. Team work is crucial. Imagine if I had been telling Cathy what to do, and she has been telling me what to do? Cathy taking the lead, and me following allowed the two us to work as a team, and to come out strong. Together we overcame.
  • Sometimes you are unprepared for life. That’s OK. You can’t be prepared for absolutely everything. It’s more important to learn from your experience so you can be prepared next time. I now walk with a pepper spray – whether I am with friends or on my own. It’ll work for a dog fight or a criminal! There’s a good chance I’ll never use it. That’s OK too.
  • Any crisis is made better with a friend by your side. Friends are so important. We share experiences. We bond. We learn. Life is always better with a friend by your side.
  • Trust your instincts in times of crisis especially when there is no time to analyse and decide. Your instincts will serve you well.

Cathy and I have walked often since the dog attack. Although we have moved on and don’t talk about it anymore, the memory and the lessons live on.

Life is under no obligation to give us what we expect.

Margaret Mitchell

 

Image from flickr

Posted in Life Mastery, Managing Stress, Relationships | 3 Comments

A colourless citizen

I am a Colourless Citizen born on 20/08/1963

A Guest Post by David Fincham6097007477_3783b04a0b_n

I live in a Rainbow Nation. I go unnoticed. I am a Colourless Citizen. I was not born into a colourless World. I am not a Colourless Citizen because I was born blind!

I am a Colourless Citizen because my eyes are open. They were opened by living……………….

My eyes were opened slowly and sometimes painfully. They saw that in the world of colour, so many things are colourless. And only people need to give things colours, labels really. They do this to communicate, to understand, to justify.

What are the colours, we see, we use and we define things by?

 Colours tell us so much and yet :

  • Poverty knows no colour!
  • Being Homeless knows no colour!
  • Injustice knows no colour!
  • Destruction of the environment knows no colour!
  • Cancer knows no colour!

Our blood is the same colour!

Yet each of the things we label is filled with colour!

Love has many colours. Faith has bright colours. Hope has warm colours. Trust has solid colours.

Colours we choose can be negative.

These colours make it easy for us defend our prejudices’, to excuse our attitudes, our behaviour, the lives we lead, the choices we have made. These colours affect all citizens exactly the same! Negatively!

Even those of us who choose to be Colourless

Colours also affect us positively!

We do not have the right to choose to be Colourless Citizens but we can learn and live as Colourless Citizens.

What Colours do you wish to live your life by? What Colours make up your World?

How do the colours you choose affect who you are? How do they define you?

Do they limit your vision, your judgement, your choices, your behaviour, your potential or your relationships?

Learn every day to live in a Colourless World as A Colourless Citizen and you will see a brighter perspective, new opportunities and a better World.

The colours will blend and be blurry at times. This is called life!

Choose your pallet of colours wisely, colour your World brightly, use your brush strokes boldly, paint over the mistakes, change your picture daily, use the whole canvas, for this is what will define you.

No one has the right to tell what colours to use, where to draw the lines or to even use lines.  Only you know what pictures you can paint, what stories they will tell, how they affect your life and the lives of those, who are interested enough and love you enough to actually care.

For the rest Black, White, Coloured or Colourless who cares about them? They don’t see your Colourless World.

Now for the important stuff!

Thank you all for being here today to share this celebration with me.  You are here because you have each added colour to my life.

And for each and every one of you, know that your colours have influenced my life, my being, my friendship, my character, my soul.

May you all continue to share your colours, enrich your palettes.

And remember to live as Colourless Citizens!

The true worth of a man is not to be found in man himself, but in the colours and textures that come alive in others.

Albert Schweitzer

Read more at http://www.brainyquote.com/quotes/quotes/a/albertschw164214.html#K75Su2GUMMuQX9C1.99

The true worth of a man is not to be found in man himself,

but in the colours and textures that come alive in others.

Albert Schweitzer

 

Photo from Flickr: http://tinyurl.com/p9jtdkh
Posted in Life Mastery, Make a difference, Relationships | Comments Off

The Perfect Murder

It was still dark. We huddled together drinking coffee and dunking rusks, not talking much. snake1Following a signal from our leader, we set off.

The two uniformed men led the way, their rifles slung casually over their shoulders. The rest of us followed closely, walking in single file.

 As our group snaked quietly through the bush, I watched the sky lighten. I breathed in the fresh air. I took in the beauty of the wilderness area.

 This is what feeds my soul”, I thought as I took it all in.

 After about an hour of walking we approached a hill and started to climb. There was a huge rock on top of the hill. The strong roots of a fig tree clung sturdily to the rock.

 As we got close to the top, our group started to murmur.

 “What was that smell?”

 I covered my nostrils with my hand.

 Nico, the leader, commanded: “Wait here. Something has died”.

 As Nico disappeared around the rock, my imagination played happily. Maybe there was a kill! Perhaps we’d see some lions or hyenas. Maybe feeding vultures…

 After a few long minutes Nico appeared, his face scowling.

 “It’s a rhino”

 Using his tracking skills, he pulled the pieces together and took us through the scenario.

 The well-worn game path went up the hill, forming a gulley between the hill and the huge rock.

The poacher sat on top of the rock.

He was shielded from anti-poaching helicopters by the shade of the tree.

 The poacher just had to sit and wait. Plenty of game would have passed by him but he was waiting for something special.

 Eventually he spotted the big, grey, lumbering animal come up the path. He aimed his gun towards the path beneath him.

 AS the rhino passed directly below him, he made a noise.

 The rhino lifted his head.

 One shot – right into the brain.

 The rhino dropped.

 It was the perfect murder.

rhino2

The bullet hole shows clearly on the left of the skull

 The murderer swiftly sliced off the two horns with one sweep of his panga.

 As we dissected what had happened, the passionate rage of our two rangers poured out. Our emotions dipped between devastation, depression and frustration.

 This is a war.

 The park rangers and anti-poaching units require military training to deal with this situation.

 The villains who kill rhinos to feed the Asian market are often professionals with military training themselves.

 The people who deal in rhino horn WANT extinction – this will drive the price of their precious commodity through the roof.

 We, the rangers, the South Africans and many others, WANT to preserve the rhino for generations to come.

 Sumatran and Javan rhino populations are almost extinct. North of our borders other African countries are losing the war. South Africa is holding its own, but we have NOT won the war.

 In the future, South Africa will have the most important role to play – re-stocking the rest of the continent with rhinos.

 We have to win this war.  

 How can I help? How can you help?

 If we all do our bit, we CAN make a difference, and we can save our rhinos.

 Here are two ways to help:

I’m helping in my own small way.

Will you help too?

Rhinos are critically endangered

In 1901, there were around 1 000 000 rhinos.

In 1970, there were around 70,000 rhinos.

Today, there are fewer than 24,500 rhinos surviving in the wild.

WORLD RHINO DAY 22 September

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Warning: stories can destroy your life

iStock_000015344866XSmallStories can ruin your life.

I’m talking about the stories you tell yourself – those particular sentences that you repeat to yourself and others OFTEN.

A client of mine frequently said this to me: “I haven’t made any money this year.”

Think about the feelings of inadequacy and resentment and failure that she experiences every time she thinks this.

Once I recognized the pattern, my client and I completed an exercise where she totalled all her invoices for the year. She was astounded and how much she had actually earned.

Sometimes she still tells me that. I remind her and she lets it go.

These are some of the stories other clients of mine tell themselves:

  • I haven’t done as well in life as I should have (Despite having a job he enjoys, good remuneration, solid relationships etc)
  • My boss has it in for me (all the bosses from her last 3 jobs??)
  • I don’t get enough sex (I remember a story about Woody Allen who said “We hardly ever  have sex – only  3 times a week.”  His wife said, “We’re always having sex – about 3 times a week”)
  • I have no energy (Despite the fact that she is extremely productive and gets more done in a day than anyone else I know)

These stories are destructive because of the feelings that are generated every time we buy into them. These negative feelings lead to a consistent loss of self-esteem. This leads to unhappiness, loss of focus and an inability to achieve goals.

The main reason these stories destroy is because we tend to notice only the things in life that support the story. We totally ignore anything that proves the opposite of the story. This way we can believe the story. We continue to repeat the story to ourselves – over and over. The destruction continues.

We live the story.

Here’s what you can do to change this:

  1. Become aware. Listen to yourself when you are chatting to friends. Listen to yourself when you are driving your car or in the shower. Make a note of the things you are telling yourselves and others about you. Do this for a month. You will soon pick up the most common negative story you are telling about yourself.
  2. Choose one story that you wish to change.
  3. Start an evidence diary. Take a few minutes every day and write down anything you have done or thought that provides evidence for the opposite version of your story. For example: if your story is that you are stupid, write down EVERYTHING you do that shows your intelligence: I wrote a good report today; my boss praised me in the meeting; my husband was impressed with the catering I did for his Birthday. Keep collecting evidence, big or small,  until you have pages and pages that disprove your story. Eventually your subconscious mind will adopt the new story.
  4. Let it go.Every time you start telling yourself of someone the story, stop yourself and  merely let it go. Even if you stop mid-sentence that’s better than nothing. Eventually you will train yourself to not tell that story.

Practice these steps every day. If you forget for a day or two don’t give up. Just start again and continue doing the steps.

One  day you will notice that the destructive story has become a powerful and constructive one.

Well done!!

Is there another story you’d like to change? Get going!

Oddly enough, we come to rely upon our own stories so much

that it seems that all we can tell ourselves are stories as well.

Roger C. Shank

 

Posted in Feelings, Life Mastery, Self esteem, Thought Patterns | 4 Comments

Video time! Women Hating Men looking at Woman

 

Popcorn

VIEW VIDEO

 

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Don’t Say No To Yourself Before They Do

 “Should I ask?” I wondered. 5580127313_e8436f8756

One thing I know, for sure, is that my father loves ice-cream. He had been through a horrendous time of surgery and recovery so when his meal was delivered I wanted to get him some ice-cream to cheer him up.

The lady who delivered the meals was in a hurry and had loads of meals to deliver.

“I can’t really ask her” I decided.

Then I remembered something I’d learnt in May this year.

So I asked.

“I’ll have to go all the way downstairs and I still have all these meals to deliver”, she grumbled.

“Oh well, I tried” I thought and promptly dismissed the possibility.

 Twenty minutes later she walked in with the ice-cream for my Dad. Yay!

That was all thanks to Ed Tate ( http://www.edtate.com/) – he was a speaker at a conference I attended, and one of the things he spoke about was asking for things you want. So often we feel uncomfortable to ask for what we want, for various reasons – so we don’t ask.

Ed says – “Don’t say no to yourself before they do.”

I’ve been practicing ever since.

It doesn’t always work – on Friday night we went to dinner with our three kids to a local restaurant. There was a huge TV in the corner.

Now I don’t know about you, but if there is a TV on in front of me, my eyes keep drifting to it, even if I don’t want to watch. It’s so distracting and frustrating.

My kids, as kids will do, reminded me about Ed Tate. So I asked.

I got a NO. They had a good reason to keep the TV on.  The lights in the ceiling weren’t working – so the TV was providing light in the restaurant.

I didn’t win with that one. It also didn’t matter. What mattered was that I asked.

Yesterday we were at breakfast with friends, and my friend wanted something that wasn’t on the menu.

Naturally I told her about Ed Tate – so she asked. 

She had to explain exactly what she wanted – croissant with cream cheese, rocket and fried baby tomatoes – it was a meal created from different options on the menu. She got it – exactly as requested!

Don’t say no to yourself before they do.

My challenge to you:  Every time you want something during the next two weeks – ask for it. See what happens.

Let me know how it goes….

(Image by marc falardeau on Flickr)

 

Posted in Communication, Habits, Happiness, Life Mastery | Comments Off