When Does Different Mean Better?

We all know someone who views the world differently than we do, don’t we? There is always someone in every group who tends to be the funny one, the sensitive one, the logical one, the illogical one, or something else that differentiates them. Does the fact that they are different, in whatever way they are different, matter? It takes everyone to make the world go around, as the saying goes, yet the news is full of people fighting each other because of differences, so is being different good or bad?

It is human nature to notice the differences between others and ourselves. From a sociological standpoint, it is quite clearly demonstrated demographically, geographically, culturally, and otherwise. Having grown up in Europe, lived in different parts of the US, and traveled rather extensively around the world, I may view the world a bit differently than many. That experience has taught me, not only about the differences in people around the world, but I believe more importantly, about the similarities.

quo_gandhiWhen we notice differences, and if we then create an “us versus them” mindset, we foster a competitive, and potentially alienating environment. When all we see are differences, and when those differences are viewed as “bad” or “wrong,” it is impossible to create an environment of trust and goodwill. Clearly there are some beliefs and political systems around the world that are difficult for us to agree with or even comprehend. But this isn’t about that. How do we, as the kind and generous people we are, live our lives genuinely and joyfully? Think about people you know, and think about what you know about them that differs from you. Then think about what you and they have in common. Which makes you feel more connected with them?

We have all felt joy, pain, sorrow, adoration, anger, jealousy, and more. We all love our children and want them to be happy and healthy. We all want to feel valued and to be treated with respect. Our blood is red, and we need food and water and shelter. From Maslow’s hierarchy of needs, we know that we all share the same needs. The difference is where we are in the hierarchy. The truth is, we have much more in common with each other than differences that drive us apart. What might happen if we all concentrated on the things that we have in common, those things that connect us all? When we realize that we share more than just the air we breathe, that we share feelings and dreams and needs, then we can begin to feel more connected, more a part of the good that we share. Once we embrace that, the possibilities are endless. How cool is that?

When a Dot is More Than a Dot

Things are often not as they seem, and when we make assumptions about an event or another’s behavior, we may well be wrong and sorry.  How might a printing process teach us something about life?  When you take a very close look at a picture in a magazine, what valuable lesson might it reveal?

Many years ago, I was CEO of a leading packaging manufacturing company, and one of the operations we used was printing.  We acquired a state-of-the-art, eight color printing press so we could do process work, which is the printing method used to print pictures (whether for magazines, newspapers, packages, labels, etc.).  Most people know a little about this process now because every color, computer printer uses this method.  It is also the principal on which computer screens, televisions, smartphones, etc., create their beautiful images.

Take a look at a picture in a magazine or from your color printer with a magnifying glass or a loupe, and you’ll see that it is made up of many tiny dots of certain colors, organized specifically to generate the image.  One dot on it’s own will never make a picture.  It can only represent a dot.  Similarly, several dots, but not organized correctly, will create a blurry or even incomprehensible image.  What does this have to do with life?

Events happen throughout our lives, and each one of them represents a dot.  Each one, on its own, can only represent itself.  Sometimes we attach meaning to an event by making an assumption about its meaning.  When a similar event continues to occur, it becomes a series of dots and a more definitive meaning evolves.  Once there are a sufficient number of dots to create a clear picture, only then is it appropriate to attribute certain meaning, which is likely, by then, to be obvious.  You know that old saying about what happens when we “assume.”  Quite often, when we assume a certain meaning without proper consideration, we react rather than respond, and that can end up being the ultimate assumption.  Only when the dots are aligned in just the right way will the picture become unmistakably clear.

quo_mlkjrSo the next time an event, a dot, occurs in your life, take note of it and allow it to be just a dot, like a blip on a radar screen.  Save yourself from being wrong and sorry, the victim of a self-inflicted assumption.  If that dot appears over and over, if it occurs repeatedly, the truthful meaning will become clear, and when it does, you will be able to make the appropriate response, saving yourself and perhaps another from a very uncomfortable and embarrassing situation.

We are all unique, and we see things through our eyes and with our filters.  I encourage you to remember that we are all more the same than we are different, and yet it is all of our similarities as well as our differences that make this world such an interesting place from which we can learn and grow.  When we open our eyes to all that is possible, we can realize the true joy of all that we share.  How cool is that?!

Why We Do What We Do

Do you ever wonder how the dimension of time seems to be so dynamic and unpredictable? Well, I have an answer but that isn’t what this post is about. 🙂

Do you know why you do the things you do? Do you ever wonder why you continue doing things that aren’t good for you? For those of you who always do everything right, whose only actions are those that support your health and happiness in every way, please pat yourselves on the back and write a comment to me about why you think that is and how you have come to be so good. For the rest of you, you can keep reading.

One of the presuppositions of NLP (Neurolinguistic Programming) is that every behavior is supported by an unconscious belief that the behavior provides a benefit. We also know that every action is based on a motivation to either gain more pleasure or to experience less pain. The NLP Communication Model further explains how our behaviors are created by how we process the millions of bits of information coming at us every second, even though we can consciously process only about 134 bits of information per second. Ever feel overwhelmed?

Can you think of a behavior you exhibit that you wish you could eliminate from your repertoire? If so, would it help to understand why you do what you do? Every behavior is a result of a decision to act, driven by your physiological state (which alters brain chemistry), and based on an unconscious belief. Have you noticed that the best advertisements are those that are designed to evoke an emotion in you? There are many catchy ads that you remember, but those usually don’t cause you to go out and buy the product. Think about the process of buying a car. The salesperson always encourages you to go for a test drive (if she believes in the car she’s selling) because she knows that once you drive it and experience the feel, the quiet, the sound system, etc., you are no longer in a strictly analytical state, your are in an emotional state. Every “buy” decision is an emotional decision. Emotion is the reason you do what you do.

Of course, in this limited space, we can’t get into the details of why we do what we do, but this gives you a good primer that can help you pay attention and listen to the cues that you have about why you do certain things. When you find yourself doing something that results in an undesirable outcome, you can now ask yourself how that behavior is serving you by asking, “What am I gaining from this behavior.” Also, notice the emotion you were feeling right before you exhibited the behavior. I think it is also important to ask yourself what you could gain by no longer performing that behavior. An example might be to ask yourself, “How might my life change if I no longer….?” Finish the question with the behavior or condition that results from the behavior.

Once you have begun to notice more about your behaviors and how they serve you and you begin to behave in ways that do support you, your life will begin to unfold in ways that will bring you more energy and more joy. It will become easy and natural, and after a while, you will look back with pride and awe at how much you’ve accomplished. How cool is that?!

All the best,


Controlling the Flow of Life

This title may seem oxymoronic, and perhaps it is, but it might also provoke the question, “Do we, or can we control the flow of life?” Or we might ask, “Do we want to control the flow of life?” And then, if we can and do, “Is there a flow of life?”

I don’t intend for this to be a, “If you put your foot in a stream, is it the same stream” kind of blog post, but I was thinking about how I have gotten fairly adept at allowing things that happen to just be what they are – to not be upset by them and to learn the lesson they were there to teach me. I have gotten good at not taking things personally, generally, which is a wonderful lesson for all of us to learn. Most importantly, I have learned to be okay with not having to be “in control” of everything that happens. This is especially useful since we are not in control of everything. At the same time, it is important to recognize that about which we do have control. One of my favorite quotes is the Serenity Prayer, “God Grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, the courage to change the things I can, and the wisdom to know the difference.” (Reinhold Niebuhr) If you have been here before, you know that this quote has guided me for years, and it continues to be one of the most influential in my life.

In terms of the “Flow of Life,” I believe it is important for us to learn how to simply, “Be” in that flow. When we spend time in the past, we are unable to move forward. If we spend too much time in the future, we miss out on all the wonder that is happening in our lives, right now. We do want to be clear about what our dreams and goals are, but the “what-if” game can be harmful when it is based on worry and fear. Think of FEAR as an acronym meaning, “False Evidence Appearing Real” and worrying as, “praying for something you don’t want.” How helpful are either to creating the life that you want?

So, if we don’t have control over everything that happens and we are well served by going along with the flow, what do we have control over? We have control over our actions, our beliefs, and our responses to things that happen “to us.” You have likely heard the expression, “It isn’t what happens to us but how we deal with what happens to us that defines our success.” What if everything that happened in your life was there to teach you something of value, something for your benefit? What if you knew that no matter how awful something seemed at the time, the result was going to be great? I believe that when we see our lives as splendid, magical adventures that teach us how to be joyful and loving, our lives will prove us to be right. How cool is that?

All the best,


Be Careful What You Wish For

We have all heard the expression, “Be careful what you wish for.” It has been attributed to Aesop’s Fables, and is completed by, “lest it come true.” Have you ever wondered how that works, in other words, what the mechanism (or Universal Law) is that makes it important to be careful what you wish for?

Surely we don’t wish for things that we wouldn’t want to come true, do we? Actually, most people do it every single day? By now, most of you have heard of “The Secret,” the book and movie by Rhonda Byrne. The main topic of that work is the “Law of Attraction,” which basically says, “we attract to us what we pay attention to.” Put another way, “what we concentrate our attention on will draw more of the same toward us.” So what does that have to do with being careful what you wish for?

Have you ever wished that something not happen? Have you ever worried about something? Have you ever though to yourself, “I sure hope that doesn’t happen?” You can replace “that” with whatever it is that you might have worried about. If you knew that “worrying” was the same as praying (wishing) for something you do not want, would you begin to see things differently? The mind processes information by a method that deletes certain words, especially “don’t” or “doesn’t” and similar negatives. So what you worry about (pay attention to) actually become things you attract. If I were to say to you, “Don’t think of a pink elephant,” you have to think of a pink elephant before you can “not” think of a pink elephant. Another example to illustrate the point is when we tell young children, “Don’t touch the stove.” We are basically telling them to touch the stove, and that is why 98% of them, if not 100% of them, will touch the stove.

So what can you do to begin to change things for the better? Put all your wishes in positive terms and use the words and terms that relate to what you want to attract. Realize that your life is a result of your beliefs and thoughts that cause actions and behaviors that cause outcomes. When the outcomes are different than what you want, realize that the only way to get different outcomes is to use different actions which will be directed by different thoughts (beliefs). If you want to know more about how to change your beliefs, write me or talk with an experienced, certified and licensed hypnotist or NLP practitioner.

Albert Einstein said, “Problems cannot be solved by the same level of thinking that created them.” One of the most empowering thoughts you might begin to believe, if you haven’t realized it already, is that you have inside of you everything you need in order to solve every problem and to create the life you want. How cool is that?!

All the best,