Almost Daily

Standard

I need to remind myself–almost daily–that just because someone looks different, thinks different, believes different, talks different, votes different, or behaves in a manner I’m uncomfortable with; that in no way makes them wrong, bad, or less-than. 

I need to remind myself–almost daily–that I have confirmation bias. I seek out information that agrees with my position and proves my way is RIGHT! This bias makes me dogmatic and judgmental. 

I need to remind myself–almost daily–to remain present, aware, focused, and in the Now. I beg my mind to be with me in the moment. If I’m in the dentist chair and my mind is having an imaginary conversation with someone I disagree with, then I’m not present. I’ve left the Now. 

I need to remind myself–almost daily–that no situation is bad, wrong, or impossible to handle. My reaction to the events I find myself in are the best indicator of my own mental health. I cannot control what does or does not happen in life, but I can control my response. 

I need to remind myself–almost daily–that I am not my conditioning. I am not my culture. I am not my religious upbringing. I am the outpouring of the Divine and a brief reflection of eternity. 

I need to remind myself–almost daily–not to be attached to any outcome. By staying open, I allow life to flow freely around me and through me. I am continually in awe and full of gratitude for my experiences in this mysterious flow called life. 

I need to remind myself–almost daily. 

~Travis

My Struggle with Authenticity

Standard

“Authenticity is not something we have or don’t have. It’s a practice–a conscious choice of how we want to live. Authenticity is a collection of choices that we have to make every day. It’s about the choice to show up and be real. The choice to be honest. The choice to let our true selves be seen. There are people who consciously practice being authentic, there are people who don’t, and there are the rest of us who are authentic on some days and not so authentic on other days.”

~Brené Brown   The Gifts of Imperfection

Do you value authenticity?

Are there people in your life you truly admire and love spending time with because you know they say exactly what they mean?

Brené Brown describes the struggle of authenticity beautifully. There really are some people who consciously practice being authentic and those who blatantly don’t. Then there’s the rest of us in between.

Authenticity is a value I strive for on a daily basis. I have been trying to be authentic in every situation. I really do attempt to say what I mean and mean what I say. Lately, I notice I talk less than I used to in order to stay authentic versus playing a role I have been conditioned to play.

While at breakfast with my favorite Aunt the other day, she mentioned I have been quieter lately–like I am always deep in thought. I suggested most of what people talk about is nothing more than small talk and I lose interest real fast. But the minute someone mentions something deep, meaningful, and authentic my ears perk up and I’m immediately engaged. I also told her I have been learning a lot lately so I’m constantly thinking about what I’m learning. And being a writer, I am endlessly mulling over ideas in my mind about what I wrote that morning or else I’m mentally rearranging sentences to make them sound wittier.

There are times I struggle with authenticity. Some days I actually catch myself being inauthentic and immediately correct it. Other times I completely miss my opportunity for authenticity in the moment and realize I dropped the ball a day or two later.

I used to get down on myself and assume I’m simply not an authentic person. I thought if I can’t be authentic in every situation then I must be a phony. If I had to play a role or act a certain way around someone then I would beat myself up later for being a fraud.

What I have since learned is I am an authentic person. I do consciously practice being authentic in every situation. I’m an authentic person who sometimes slips into being unaware once in a while. When I least expect it, I catch myself playing a role I was conditioned to play in the past. All I have to do is take a few minutes to focus on my breathing and come back to the present moment. Instantly, my authenticity is back.

Here’s an amazing quote from one of my favorite poets:

dd853aa63c96e13d3c6479ed8d28a6ab

Authenticity is not something we have or don’t have. It’s a practice–a conscious choice of how we want to live.

Do you value authenticity?

 

Peace my Friends!

 

~Travis

We’re Expecting!!!

Standard

Sometimes while I’m reading a book I’ll have one of those moments when it feels like the author is speaking directly to me. Even if the book was sold to millions of people I can’t help but think the author had me in mind when he wrote it. This happened to me recently while reading about relationships and expectations in How to Live in the World and Still Be Happy by Hugh Prather.

“Whenever you feel a tinge of irritation or disapproval, you can be sure that you have an underlying expectation.”  Hugh Prather

Ouch!

I didn’t believe it; at first I tried denying it. But several days and many tinges of irritation and disapproval later, I finally admitted to myself that Prather was right.

FB_IMG_1465266194788

My expectations of the other person–not the other person’s actions–are the real cause of my frustrations. That’s a tough pill to swallow! That means I am fully responsible for my own emotions. That means the crafty little story my brain comes up with to make the other person a villain and make me the poor helpless victim is completely false.

“An expectation is looking for something rather than looking at something. We anticipate one thing and do not clearly see the other thing that is at hand….. Our expectations are based on the past and are blind to the present.”  Hugh Prather

It seems impossible to live without expectations but how much less dramatic would my life be without the disappointments of unmet expectations? Most of my pain and suffering is self-induced. I hold on to hurt or grudges for years because of unmet expectations.

“An emotional reaction leaves you stuck, unable to move forward until you look more deeply at whatever the emotion is trying to tell you.”  Don Miguel Ruiz Jr. in The Mastery of Self

This leaves me stuck for a very long time. I let years (or even decades) go by because I refuse to look into my emotional reactions. If I could get out of my own way for just a minute I could see the other person as an ally instead of a villain. If their actions cause me irritation or disappointment, that tells me something about me, not them!

And, yet, I feel so justified in making it all about them. I don’t have to do any hard work if I take the position that they are wrong for not meeting my expectations.

FB_IMG_1463627820353

We all do this. Listen for it the next story someone tells you. Any story you hear where someone was upset or disappointed you will be able to trace it back to an underlying expectation. Every time! They won’t say it, but this is what’s behind their words, “I expected this, but they did that instead.”

We’re all doing it every day. We’re expecting one thing and we get another. As a result we’re disappointed.

FB_IMG_1462676128435

I’ve found if I live in the present moment without any expectations life can be full of joy. Looking at each moment as it comes without any stories from my ego is heaven on earth. Of course, it’s easy to slip back into old habits but the minute I turn to awareness any disappointment I had melts away.

Am I alone in any of this?

Do you have any expectations that are causing you frustration?

Instead of looking for, might we all try looking at?

 

Peace my Friends!

 

~Travis

3 Questions to Ask Yourself When You’re in an Argument With Someone You Love

Standard

We all have them from time to time. Arguments with someone we love are inevitable and quite honestly just a fact of life.

In the aftermath of a recent argument with my wife (yes, even I argue), I couldn’t help but wonder how we got off track. Initially I replayed the argument over and over in my mind and discovered my ego was quick to point out all the ways she was wrong. Knowing just how clever my ego is, I decided to dig a little deeper and focus only on myself. I wasn’t allowed to entertain any thought about my wife’s involvement in the argument.

What I found was startling. Most times when we argue with the ones we love, there’s so much more going on than what we’re arguing about. As a result, I came up with 3 questions to ask myself in the heat of the moment to help me stay on track and hopefully minimize my portion of adding fuel to the fire. They have been helping so I decided to share in hopes that they will help you as well.

A Special Note to the Men

1. Are you staying in the present moment?

It’s so easy to be anywhere else in the world other than where we are. In the blink of an eye our brain can take us back to a childhood memory of a time when we were wronged. Our brain connects the dots between the past trauma and the current argument and then cues our ego to fight to the death. In an attempt to protect ourselves as adults in a way we were incapable of doing as a child, we see this current argument as a win-at-all-cost endeavor.

Another way we leave the present moment in an argument is by charging into the future. Our brains are so clever! In just a millisecond our brain can give us twenty different catastrophic scenarios that could happen in the future if we lose this argument with the one we love. We go from a simple conversation to the-stakes-are-high in 1.3 seconds.

I wondered if there could be a different approach. Instead of allowing my brain to run wild, what if I corralled my thoughts back to the present moment in the same manner a rancher brings his cattle back to the homestead. Once he gets a few cattle headed in the right direction the rest of the cattle follow suit.

When I’m in an argument with someone I love, if I ask myself, “Are you staying in the present moment?” then I’m able to corral my thoughts and save myself from unnecessary drama.

20120319-202535.jpg

2. Are you clear about what you’re mad at?

Most of the time, the ones we love are just our trigger. We can be upset about something that happened at work, worried about an upcoming bill, or mad about something our sibling said. We can already be agitated about anything else in the world, but when the person we love says or does something we don’t like it’s GAME ON.

Aristotle once said, “Anybody can become angry–that is easy. But to be angry with the right person, and to the right degree, and at the right time, and for the right purpose, and in the right way–that is not easy.”

It’s so instinctual to lash out at the ones I love when I’m upset about something. But in all fairness, that isn’t their fault. Becoming clear about what I’m really upset about saves everyone around me from any unnecessary arguments.

The people we love serve as our mirror and they often times show us parts of ourselves we don’t want to see. Pay attention to what they say because we all have blind spots and sometimes their loving suggestions keep us from looking foolish. As the old saying goes, don’t shoot the messenger.

20120319-203946.jpg

3. Am I in my own business?

I recently read in a Byron Katie book that there’s my business, your business, and God’s business. Anytime I’m in your business or God’s business I create hell for myself and those around me. But if I stay in my own business then I’m able to find peace and love for myself.

We don’t say it out loud, but deep down we think we know what’s best for other people–especially the ones we love. Have you noticed we tend to think we’re experts when it comes to everyone else?

When I’m in an argument with someone I love, it’s so easy to leave my own business and worry about their business. Before I know it, the argument balloons into something so much bigger than is necessary. Staying in my own business means my attention and energy stays squarely where it belongs–on myself.

20120319-202837.jpg

In conclusion, the person you love won’t say or do everything perfect–not nearly as perfect as you say or do (sarcasm added)–and arguments are unavoidable. Arguments don’t have to be wasted, however. Believe it or not, the person you love is on your side just like you are on their side if they were in a fight with a stranger. Next time you find yourself in an argument with someone you love, ask yourself these 3 simple questions. You may learn something about yourself and you may preserve a precious relationship as a result.

Best of luck to you!

 

Peace my Friends!

 

~Travis

 

PS. Feel free to share if someone you know needs to read this. 🙂

Dealing with Life’s Circumstances and The Power of Intention

Standard

“The greatest difficulty is the mental resistance to things that arise, and the underlying assumption that they should not.”

This perfect reminder from Eckhart Tolle was waiting for me in my email today.

cc201ca2df2ec33ea4b5c4dbde7e598a

I have difficulties just like anyone else.  Life allows circumstances to arise that are out of my control.  I then have thoughts about these circumstances that imply the circumstances shouldn’t be happening.  My mental resistance to the events in my life creates suffering for myself.

I wish I responded to every situation perfectly.  I wish I thought more, reacted less; loved more, hated less; accepted more, and rejected less.  But to my surprise, I am human.  I am perfectly imperfect.

So are you!

I love my perfectly imperfect self.  I accept the beauty that are my flaws.  You may know me well and assume I need to change.  Thank you for caring.  I know I am continuously moving towards a better version of myself every day.

How can I know the current circumstance that is happening in my life should be happening?  Because it is.  I will put a smile on my face and accept what arises one circumstance at a time.  I will do the best I can in each moment. And the moments I don’t do my best I will learn from them.

Accepting my current circumstance doesn’t mean I sit and do nothing.  Acceptance is not resignation or ignorance.  Acceptance is being fully aware of my present moment and taking action from that fully aware place.

I consider myself extremely fortunate for many reasons.  One reason is because I have been writing and journaling for years.  I have the fortunate ability to go back in time and read what I was thinking last month, last year, or even many years ago.  I am able to truly grasp just how far I’ve come by reading my old journals.  I have concrete evidence that I am a part of a larger story and my life is mysteriously flowing forward.  I am also fortunate because I have a deep knowing that circumstances that arise in my life are opportunities for healing and growth.

Recently, while typing one of my old journals into the computer, I came across an old intention I set for myself.  I’m a huge believer in intentions.  We will never achieve anything of value in life unless we first set the intention for ourselves.  Anyway, several years ago I set the intention to be a lifelong learner.  And then as a follow-up to that I set the intention that I would share with the world what I am learning.  In big bold cursive writing in my journal are these words: I will always learn and grow and then share what I have learned.  Since setting that intention I have over 60 blog posts and dozens of full journals to bear witness to the power of intention.  Nothing of importance in my life will come to fruition if I don’t first set the intention.  Once the intention is set, it serves as a magnet or a vortex pulling my life forward.  It seems too easy but have you tried it in your own life?

Do you want to be in a happy, healthy, loving relationship? Set that as your intention.

Do you want healing from past wounds? Set that as your intention.

Do you want to read more books that transform your mind? Set that as your intention.

Do you want to make healthier choices with food?  Set that as your intention.

Do you want to be a world-renown author? Set that as your intention.

Do you want to create beautiful art that speaks to the hearts of millions? Set that as your intention.

Am I making my point? Anything of significance you desire in life must first be an actual intention otherwise it’s only a wish.  And we all know if we wish in one hand what’s in the other.  (if you don’t know what’s in the other hand I’ll explain it to you privately) 🙂

wp-1450051929623.jpg

My intention is to always learn and grow and then share what I am learning with the world.

What is your intention?

One thing I’m learning today is to accept my current circumstances and to trust that everything will be perfect no matter what.  Instead of resisting circumstances as they arise, I will attempt to be fully aware and present.

What are you learning today?

 

Peace my Friends!

 

~Travis

Every Person We Meet Holds Within Them a Lost Piece of Ourselves

Standard

Every single person we meet seems to hold within them a lost piece of ourselves.

I came across this idea a while ago and some days it really intrigues me and other days it really frustrates me. Let me say it again:

Every single person we meet holds within them a lost piece of ourselves.

Some people give you this lost piece of yourself freely without you even having to ask. These are the friendships that blossom from the start and grow deeper and broader with each encounter. These are the friends bold and brave enough to speak truth into your life. These are the loved ones who know your faults but keep reminding you of your greatness. These are the genuine ones, the real ones, the easy ones.

The reason they are easy is because the key that unlocks that lost piece of yourself you have been missing is LOVE. For your close friends and loved ones, it’s natural and easy. The love flows freely both directions and you help one another unlock lost pieces effortlessly.

Screenshot_2016-02-25-23-00-58-1

For others, it feels like we have to hire a professional locksmith in order to get to that lost piece of ourselves they hold locked inside. But the mistake we sometimes make is we write someone off too soon. We forget that LOVE is the key to unlocking that lost piece of ourselves.

How many times in your life have you cast someone aside initially only to discover later that you really love and appreciate them? It’s so easy to mentally discard people from our lives.

Maybe they think or believe differently than us.

Maybe they are too liberal or too conservative.

Maybe they cheer for an opposing team.

Maybe they are related to your ex (or maybe they are your ex).

Maybe they cut us off on the highway, stole our parking spot, or forgot to shut their high beams off.

Maybe they are refereeing our child’s game or coaching the other team.

Maybe they subscribe to a different religion or no religion at all.

I want to tell you an important secret: No matter who that other person is, they hold within them a lost piece of yourself. You see, your opinion of them—and your reactions to them—are nothing more than your own projections of yourself.

I have struggled to learn this lesson time after time. I continually forget that my annoyances with the “other” are really undiscovered annoyances with myself. This is a tough pill to swallow when there’s someone I vehemently oppose or despise.

Relationships give us the greatest joy on earth and can cause the deepest sorrow we have ever experienced. There’s no greater example of this than going through a divorce or a serious breakup. Almost every ounce of our energy gets thrust into debasing the other person. We feel so violated and so distraught because the other person held within them the lost piece of ourselves, shared it with us for a while, and then we believe they withheld it again. They then turn into a bastard or a bitch because they knowingly withhold what they once gave freely. It’s their fault! All theirs! We tend to forget we’re also the bastard or bitch that withhold from them as well.

Screenshot_2016-02-19-14-33-05-1

We also forget that LOVE is the key to unlocking that lost piece of ourselves—not hatred and dissonance.

How would your interactions change with friends, coworkers, family, strangers, acquaintances, and loved ones if you truly grasped this idea?

Every single person we meet holds within them a lost piece of ourselves—LOVE is the key that unlocks it.

 

Peace my Friends!

 

~Travis

Love Actually IS All Around

Standard

Whenever I get gloomy with the state of the world, I think of the Arrivals gate at Heathrow Airport. General opinion is starting to make out that we live in a world of hatred and greed, but I don’t see that. Seems to me that love is everywhere. Often it’s not particularly dignified or newsworthy. But it’s always there.
Fathers and sons.
Mothers and daughters.
Husbands and wives.
Boyfriends.
Girlfriends.
Old friends.
When the planes hit the Twin Towers, as far as I know, none of the phone calls from the people on board were messages of hate or revenge. They were messages of love.
If you look for it, I’ve got a sneaky feeling that love actually …. IS …. all around.

Love Actually

12688231_10153500686409150_5675885061863490543_n

It’s Valentine’s Day. The day in February that men and singles have grown to despise. The day when we’re supposed to shower our significant other with gifts and love.

I have held the opinion a long time that holidays are barely any different than any other day of the year. My sometimes grumpy scrooge self says they are all man-made holidays meant to push the economy forward. But the more thought I gave to these holidays, the more I began to see their significance.

We are all creatures of habit. Our brains are hardwired to create—and keep—the same daily habits day after day after day. Eventually we can basically sleepwalk through our lives without even so much as a speedbump until something comes along and jolts us out of our slumber.

Holidays help do exactly that. They help us remember what we so easily forget.

Valentine’s Day is all about love. I can’t imagine anyone having any objections to remembering the love they have in their life. Not just one single love, but ALL the love they are surrounded by.

Sure, our society portrays Valentine’s Day as a “couple’s” holiday. I get that. But to me it’s so much more.

When I am jolted out of sleepwalking through my daily routine, otherwise known as my life, I take a few minutes to reflect about what really matters to me. Instantly, without a doubt my mind turns to my children. Their lives fill my heart with more pride than anything else on this earth. Sure, they’re teenagers and they have different ideas than I do sometimes. But truth be told, I learn just as much from them as they do from me. They each possess so much wisdom and a deep knowing more than they realize.

When I think about Valentine’s Day and when I think about love, there is so much that comes flooding into my mind. I have literally been walking around throughout the day pondering what love is to me.  When I think about love, I think about ……

…… Sharing this adventure of life with my wife. We have both been learning and growing so much over the years. I’m blessed to be married to a partner who isn’t afraid of the growing pains.

…… My parents who just celebrated their 50th Anniversary last August. I could sit and listen to their stories for hours of all the crazy, amazing, funny, sad, silly, emotional events they have been a part of over the years.

…… My friends Owen and Cara. To me, their love and their lives are a perfect example of what love truly is. Sure, their lives are full of many ups and downs. But the one constant that never waivers in their large home is the presence of love. No matter what life throws at them, love actually IS all around them.

…… My amazing Aunt who recently lost her husband. She may not realize it, but she is one of my heroes in life. Her vulnerability and bravery has been something that helped shape the man I am today. Every single time I have visited with her over the years, she quickly bypassed the surface talk and spoke to me straight from her heart. She loves deeply and shares honestly.

…… My friend Joanne who always loves me unconditionally and offers me so much wisdom. Our friendship is full of so much mutual admiration and respect. We love to co-create together and our hearts are always refreshed every chance we have to connect.

…… My nephew and his husband. These two beautiful souls continue to show me year after year that love knows no color or gender. Love is love is love. It’s breathtaking to witness and I’m honored to be a part of their lives.

…… My “extra” siblings I was blessed with since a young age. Bob and Robin have been a constant in my life since I was just a kid. They continue to show me love and support as if I was their relative by blood. And Jenny became the little sister I never had. Even though we haven’t kept in touch as often as we’d like over the miles and the years, we are both deeply affected today by the close bond we have always shared.

…… Several of my close friends who have been enduring different struggles. They are the brave ones. They trusted me with their struggles and were vulnerable about what they were going through. Vulnerability is the soil where genuine love can grow between friends.

…… Myself. You may laugh, but many people struggle with themselves. I am truly blessed to have established a wonderful relationship with myself. I spent several years pushing through an ugly depression (and we all know the high price that depression makes some people pay). Thankfully for me the heavy cloud lifted and now I continue to find ways to amaze myself and live in awe every day.

love-actually-andrew-lincoln

So, it’s Valentine’s Day. Whether you have someone to call your valentine or not, I hope today can serve as a reminder to you of all the love you have in your life.

If you have a Valentine, show them your love.  But also ponder on all the other love in your life as well.

If you’re single, think about all the people you’re surrounded by and, if you look, you will see that love actually …. IS …. all around.

 

Peace my Friends!

 

~Travis

 

9bANyvaa7sPMmKZYqJnXMFKLAFu