The Success Catalyst

Up Your Game & Bring Out Your Best

The Best or Worst of Times?

Dickens said it best 150 years ago when referring to the French Revolution of the late 1700’s in the opening of his novel, A Tale of Two Cities:

“It was the best of times, it was the worst of times; it was the age of wisdom, it was the age of foolishness; it was the epoch of belief, it was the epoch of incredulity; it was the season of Light, it was the season of Darkness; it was the spring of hope, it was the winter of despair; we had everything before us, we had nothing before us; we were all going directly to Heaven, we were all going the other way – in short, the period was so far like the present period, that some of its noisiest authorities insisted on its being received, for good or for evil, in the superlative degree of comparison only.” ~Charles Dickens

I love this passage! These times are whatever you decide you want them to be. Yes, there’s the reality of the Big Bailout and the ensuing ripple effect on the economy resulting from short-sighted greed and selfishness (throw in denial, fear, and ignorance, for good measure). Yes, there’s financial devastation, pain, and loss for some, and “belt-tightening” for most. (And for those of you who are prospering – personally and professionally – from a place of authentic generosity, love, and service to others, then ROCK ON and keep doing more of what you’re doing!).

But, whether we see this as an opportunity for self-reflection, re-invention, and rebirth into never-ending possibilities, or as a time where “the sky is falling”, is entirely up to us. You choose: “Doom and Gloom” or “New Beginnings” – whatever you choose is what you will get, so choose carefully.

Life is always giving us wake-up calls – some alarms ring louder than others. And, as a young, robust, vibrant, and virile nation (to my international readers, please excuse the ethnocentrism of this message:), we are constantly given numerous opportunities to grow and change…or die. Those are the only two options we have – it is impossible to stay stagnant and not whither – nothing can exist from nothing.

Right now, we have the chance to become benevolent toward our “adversaries”, prosperous as a result of socially responsible and ethical business practices, fair-minded in our approach to the giving and exchanging of goods and services, compassionate when restructuring our health care system, and inclusive when creating community in our neighborhoods. The opportunities for bringing love, understanding, compassion, and kindness into our personal and professional lives, are endless.

As long as our individual consciousness is attached to the experience of lack and scarcity, we are contributing to the collective victim consciousness, which only results in blaming and complaining. All victims blame and all blamers see themselves as victims  – we live in a victim/blame culture so we are constantly being surrounded, encouraged, and bombarded by this ineffective yet, oh-so tempting approach to life.

As long as we react to challenging circumstances by tightening up inside and withholding ourselves –  from our selves, and from others –  we cut ourselves off to the possibility of uniting for what everyone on this planet wants: Happiness. We don’t all seek happiness in the most effective of ways, but I don’t know of one single human being who does not truly want happiness versus the experience of suffering. Each and every one of us can redeem ourselves in the blink of an eye, just by asking ourselves, right this second, “what can I do, today, to ‘be the change I want to see in the world’?” (Gandhi).

How exciting that, as a country, we are so fortunate to have this opportunity, right now, to take responsibility for how each of us has contributed – in thought and deed – to the fear-based hysteria and panic that is occurring in our great nation. How many of us spend much of our time, when “times are good”, in anxiety, worry, and fear rather than in appreciation, gratitude, and open-hearted joy. Instead, it is more likely that we are seduced by fear – fear of losing what we have or of not getting what we think we want. This attachment to having things go a certain way is the cause of our suffering and, as a nation, this mindset is unfortunately condoned, is very contagious, and results in devastating outcomes such as an epidemic of unresolved conflicts that sometimes end in violence or, at best, in such unnecessary unresolved misunderstandings, bitterness, and resentment between one another – all of which closes us off to the love in our hearts and the possibility of living our dreams. It comes down to the tried and true, “would you rather be right or happy?”.

Ironically, this is a fantastic time for us to become even more generous and giving with whatever we have – to ourselves, first and foremost (we really are our own worst enemy), and with everyone we come into contact with, regardless of how others are treating us. This is a great time for each of us to let go of any self-centeredness and thoughtlessness we have and get busy being who we were bornto be, but who many of us have forgotten. Now is a great time to remember and reconnect with our authentic selves – that person we left behind years ago because we thought we had to become something different in order to be liked, to be successful, or to be accepted and to “fit in”.

DO try this at home (or anywhere!):

1. Try saying YES to unconditionally accepting everything that is happening in your life today – see it all as a gift from the universe, rather than as an “interruption” of your life. By doing this, you are saying “yes” to the abundance of love, to change (yes, to change – bring it on!), to connecting to the flow of “life on life’s terms”. Say yes to being true to yourself –  every morning, ask your heart what is it that you need to know in order to live a fulfilling life, listen to what it says, and then have the courage to follow it.

Say yes to trusting the process of all of life and to opening your heart – more than you thought possible; not waiting to do this when you start getting what you want, do it now, instead of waiting to open yourself up once the job market changes, once your co-worker stops annoying you, once your children start obeying you, once your business partner starts respecting you, once your significant other starts listening to you – choose love and understanding now and allow for all of life to flow through you and watch as everything you need, in all areas of your life, comes to you.

2. Say NO to blaming others for your misfortunes, to complaining, to judging others, to angrily finger-pointing, to getting others to agree with your “stories” – you know the ones – your golden oldies that keep you and those who will listen to your continual tale of woes of how right you always are and how wrong everyone else is – for those of you who are doing this, please note that you are still not getting what you want, plus you’re still the victim in this story, wishing things were different, asking “why me?”, and  wondering why you don’t have what you want. This is a great time to let go of  judging and blaming others because it doesn’t get you want you want. It only disempowers us more and takes us further from having the wonderful life that we all want and are meant to live – a life filled with love, joy, abundance, connection, and intimacy with others.

How you know whether you are successful at saying yes and no to the right things  is very simple: when you feel good, you are doing the above and, when you feel bad, you’re not.

That said, it is important to distinguish between the initial instant gratification (the “high”) that we get from blaming, rationalizing, and justifying – the euphoria quickly passes and we are, once again, left feeling empty inside, self-hating, confused by why it didn’t last, and feeling even more victimized…and then back to the blaming we go – a vicious cycle that brings us more suffering and even further from what we want.

This is a time to get humble and honest with yourself because when we are honoring the truth of the matter, although we may initially feel the discomfort of becoming aware of, and admitting to an old, comfy habit, the discomfort eventually transforms into a deep feeling of peace and ease and a grounded sense of satisfaction, with ourselves and the world – and that’s what it’s all about!

Do this for a week and email me what you notice. And, don’t forget to have FUN while doing it!

In the words of one of my personal heroes who did not back down from his stand for peace in the midst of a hostile national political climate:

“Yeah, we all shine on, like the moon and the stars, and the sun, yeah, we all shine on, on and on…” ~John Lennon

Shine on!!

With Love,