Once upon a time there was a monkey. A lonely little mischievous monkey, wandering around all by himself in the big city, with a tiny little suitcase containing all of his worldly possessions. Or at least the most important ones.
You might’ve heard him pass by, chattering away to himself. They always do that. That’s how you know it’s the monkeys. They talk a lot. Always somethin’ to say.
Most of what they say is really just useless nonsense. They get a kick outa hearing themselves talk and can get pretty repetitive, babbling on and on about the topic of the day. Harmless really.
Unless you begin to believe them.
If they say the sky is green with purple stripes, you may want to think twice about trusting that information. I mean, it’s up to you but …
Sometimes they will actually try to convince you that it’s raining baseballs and you better get out your catcher’s mitt. If they do that, you can’t say I didn’t warn you.
I’m pretty sure you’ve already met one before. Matter of fact, on an ordinary day, there may be hundreds of them, even thousands, just passing by, yakkety yak, yakkety yak.
You may want to know whether or not to invite him in for tea.
I’m glad you asked.
If you do meet a monkey one day, best to just sit tight and see how you feel. Maybe he makes you laugh. Maybe he makes you happy. Maybe he pokes you with his walking stick as he goes by. For God’s sake, don’t invite that one in for dinner!
Trouble is, some people do. And I ask you … seriously now … why oh why would you invite a monkey into your house if he’s behaving like that?
I mean, really.
Trust your feelings about who to invite to dinner.
I have lots of experience with monkeys so you really should believe me. And there are pretty much only two things to know so this should be easy.
Two tips about monkeys:
Don’t believe a word he says. (But you already knew that because of the baseballs.)
If what he says feels bad to you, just think, “Silly monkey!” Ignore the comment and he will walk on by and not even bother you. Trust me, it’s true.
“You wouldn’t eat something and then wonder why you had a certain taste in your mouth — you are always aware that you are the one who put the food in your mouth. We have innocently learned to interpret our thoughts as if they were ‘reality,’ but thought is merely an ability that we have — we are the ones who produce those thoughts. When we realize that thinking is an ability rather than a reality, we can dismiss any negative thoughts that pass through. As we do so, a positive feeling of happiness
begins to emerge.”
The worst thing you can do is to take a monkey seriously.
That one sentence just about sums up all of your potential monkey problems and it’s where most people go awry. Sure, monkeys talk an awful lot but who cares, if it’s just chatter. Hey, if somebody came up to you and said, “I hate your purple hair,” would you really be upset? No. Because you don’t believe for one second that you have purple hair. You wouldn’t feel hurt, you’d look at him and say, “Silly monkey!” Right?
Monkeys are harmless.
There will always be monkeys and that’s ok. They really don’t mean any harm and can actually be pretty entertaining. For one, they come up with some veeeeery good stories! If a monkey is telling a particularly tall tale and it happens to be about you, rather than getting insulted, you can think, “Wow, I’m impressed. Very creative!”
And did you know? They tell the best jokes!
Activate the thought that feels good. Invite a monkey to dinner if he makes you smile. Follow this advice and you really can go about your business, enjoying your life to the fullest, even having fun with any monkeys you may meet along the way.
“Every thought is already vibrating and when you focus upon it, you activate the vibration of it within you. So, when you give your attention to something and it activates within you, we would call it simply
an activated thought.
Introduce into the mix a very important factor which is, ‘How do I want to feel?’ And ‘this thought feels awful’ and ‘this thought feels better’ and ‘this thought feels great.’ So now I’m choosing, not based upon what I formerly called ‘fact’ I’m choosing based upon what I call ‘the way I feel.’
If we can convince you that there is a vibrational relationship that you have the ability to manage and we can distract you from all those impossible or unmanageable or uncontrollable things that you think you’ve gotta control before you feel better, and we can show you that you can feel better now just because you want to, you’ll return to your power. You’ll return to the leverage inside the vortex. And things will shift for you
and they’ll shift for you fast.”
“Different things will happen in your life that will cause you to ‘go there’ and when something causes you to ‘go there’ … GO there … take the hit of it … but then remember what rockets of desires you launched and then turn your undivided attention to that and tell that story.”
Yesterday I cried. Hard. So hard that for a moment it actually scared me.
I didn’t want to go to a deep, dark place so my first thought was, “Omg, stop crying!” It desperately crossed my mind to change what I was feeling, to pretend I felt rosy. “I will change my story, I will change negative to positive,* I will change my feelings, omg, omg I don’t want to feel sad!” These thoughts came from a fearful place. And of course, that never works.
I never come to a better-feeling place at either extreme, especially when the dominant force running the show is big ol’ fear. Neither denying feelings nor losing myself in them works.
Best to acknowledge the emotions, tip the hat, then choose. Hello sadness. Oh, hi there, fear. Welcome to the party. Now what’re we gonna do at this party? Let’s decide.
So I told myself, “Ok, you feel like crying? Cool. Let it out. But first tell me this: After we’re done with that, what’s going to feel fun to do?”
A movie. That felt like a GREAT idea. That felt like a BLAST. Thinking of it filled me with anticipation, the good kind. A fun, colorful, utterly mindless movie. Awesome.
The feeling of sadness was still there so I laid down on the couch with my puffy pillow and fluffy blanket and cried and cried. In five minutes or so it flowed right through me and out. Then I got up, grabbed my DVD, and popped it in. Yaay!
This felt great.
My two cents:
If “negative” emotion arises, don’t criticize yourself for feeling it … or fight against it … or think you should not feel. If something unexpected plops down in your path, don’t worry about having attracted it. Use it as guidance.
It’s unlikely that you can leap from fear to joy. (Got superhuman powers you didn’t tell us about?) Check out fear, waaaaay way down there at the bottom. “What will feel just a little bit better?” is all you need to do. Just that little feeling of relief. That’s what I’m talkin’ ‘bout.
This week someone veeeery close to me … someone who is incredibly smart and super savvy … this person said something soooo very wrong … so completely and utterly and ADORABLY wrong.
I won’t get into what it was (mainly because I can’t remember ) But it was the equivalent of asking the cashier, “How many monkeys is this?” instead of “How much money is this?” All the while fully believing you were saying the right words.
Oooh, example number two: Once a friend of mine claimed that people shouldn’t cause trouble by making molehills out of anthills.
I love this stuff!
So now the question:
When someone pulls a faux pas like that … and you know the right word, the correct phrase … do you say something? I’m not talkin’ public humiliation or anything, I mean just between the two of you, in private.
To inform or not to inform?
Richard Carlson says we’re given many opportunities to choose being kind over being right. And it’s all about intention.
. . . . . .
“You have chances to point out to someone their mistakes, things they could or should have done differently, ways they can improve. You have chances to ‘correct’ people, privately as well as in front of others. What all these opportunities amount to are chances to make someone else feel bad, and yourself feel bad in the process.
Without getting too psychoanalytical about it, the reason we are tempted to put others down, correct them, or show them how we’re right and they’re wrong is that our ego mistakenly believes that if we point out how someone else is wrong, we must be right, and therefore we will feel better.
In actuality, however, if you pay attention to the way you feel after you put someone down, you’ll notice that you feel worse than before the put-down. Your heart, the compassionate part of you, knows that it’s impossible to feel better at the expense of someone else.
Luckily, the opposite is true – when your goal is to build people up, to make them feel better, to share in their joy, you too reap the rewards of their positive feelings. The next time you have the chance to correct someone, even if their facts are a little off, resist the temptation. Instead, ask yourself, ‘What do I really want out of this interaction?’ Chances are, what you want is a peaceful interaction where all parties leave feeling good. Each time you resist ‘being right,’ and instead choose kindness, you’ll notice a peaceful feeling within.
Recently my wife and I were discussing a business idea that had turned out really well. I was talking about ‘my’ idea, clearly taking credit for our success! Kris, in her usual loving manner, allowed me to have the glory. Later that day, I remembered that the idea was actually her idea, not mine. Whoops! When I called her to apologize, it was obvious to me that she cared more for my joy than she did her own need to take credit. She said that she enjoys seeing me happy and that it doesn’t matter whose idea it was. (Do you see why she’s so easy to love?)
Don’t confuse this strategy with being a wimp, or not standing up for what you believe in. I’m not suggesting that it’s not okay for you to be right – only that if you insist on being right, there is often a price to pay – your inner peace. In order to be a person filled with equanimity, you must choose kindness over being right, most of the time. The best place to start is with the next person you speak .”
So what do you think? Next time somebody slips up in front of you and it occurs to you to correct them … ask yourself “why?” Is it to share a “that’s so adorable!” moment or is it just ego, baiting you to make itself feel superior at someone else’s expense?
Why not make it your goal to build up the people you love. Go mute on their mistakes. Speak up when you catch ‘em doing something right.
Oh and PS, in the story above, I did not point out the error. I kept the adorability to myself
“Everything you are against weakens you.
Everything you are for empowers you.” - Wayne Dyer
Celebrate the things which are meaningful to you. Tap into those juicy feelings of “yes!” Just for today, put aside thoughts of what you’d like to change and focus instead on strengthening all that is already right and good in your life. What are your strengths? What inspires you? What makes your heart glow?
What are you “for”?
Creative Exercise, Part One: The Discovery Map
Get out a bunch of magazines. (If you don’t have any, you’re not off the hook- get out a pen and a piece of paper… or grab your favorite bud to take dictation.)
Quickly (and I do mean “quicky”) flip through the pages and whenever something strikes you, tear out that page. What you’re pulling out are things you love… things of beauty… things which are meaningful to you… things you find comfort in … things that make you smile.
Don’t analyze too much. As a matter of fact, don’t analyze at all! Drop the thoughts and fly by the seat of your pants.
As you may or may not know, I’m not a big fan of negative words … I’d rather suggest what to *do* than what *not* to do but get ready, we’re gonna break that rule a moment from now. I will ever so briefly be one of those “do as I say, not as I do” people. Consider yourself forewarned, here goes!
Little List of Nots:
Do *not* judge what you choose. Think very little and instead, set your intuition free.
Do *not* spend too much time on one picture. (If you have to stop and decide if this photo means something to you … it doesn’t.)
Do *not* choose something unless it truly speaks to you. No second bests here, only the cream of the crop. Better to not choose anything at all than to choose images which don’t feel special to you.
This exercise may be done over the course of an hour or a month. When satisified with your stack of pictures, create a collage, gluing all of the images onto a piece of paper or a large board. Or tack them to a bulletin board or your wall (if it is in fact “your” wall, approved for tacking! We want happy landlords!) My first assemblages were on long pieces of Contac paper and the last one was done on an artist’s canvas.
Those of you waiting patiently with your pens and paper (no, I didn’t forget about you!) will be writing down words or phrases which ring true to you. These can be quotes or words which conjure up pleasant memories for you or things which just have a nice ring to your ear.
Creative Exercise, Part Two: Nourish the Joy
This exercise can be put to work in two very important ways.
1. Use your pictoral or word collage as a roadmap to your joy. Now is the time for thought. Delve in and ask yourself:
What is it about this image that struck me? Why did I choose it? Was it the shape or the color? Did it bring back fond memories or remind me of my hopes and dreams? What does this say about what’s important to me?
When you discover what appeals to you, what really feels special and meaningful, surround yourself with it. Ask, “How can I bring even more of that into my life?”
This may mean making a phone call to an old friend, planning a get-away or simply adding a certain color to your wardrobe or your surroundings. One daily activity might be dropped from your schedule, substituted with something which is important and joy-giving.
2. Get off on the vibes. Position your visual roadmap in an important place, somewhere you pass each day. Now is the time to drop thought … just take a look at it every once in a while and feel the feelings. By identifying and visualizing what brings you joy, you are already setting the wheels in motion. Behind the scenes, life will work its magic, attracting the very things needed to manifest these joys in your life.
Your Mission (should you choose to accept it)
This week, find ways to incorporate one of your discoveries into each day. Empower yourself by channeling your energies into things that make your heart glow. Tap in and look forward to blossoming more and more each day. Bask just a little … or a lot! … in things that feel good for you.
I just rediscovered one of my most beloved voices ever, Ralph Marston. What a beautiful light he shines. When my friend Christine was struggling with ms (I usually avoid the word “struggle” but in this case it feels right), I used to share his words with her all the time. When she died, her husband found dozens of pages with the things I had shared with her in the drawer next to her bed.
Ralph has a very special gift … beautiful, healing words.
Paralysis when you think of what you need to do today
Overuse of the word “overwhelm”
Constant concern that you're forgetting something
Jarring awake in the middle of the night realizing you HAVE in fact forgotten something
I'm here to tell you …
Today is a brand new day and it's the perfect day for peace of mind.
Peace begins with separating out what is truly, truly important and what can fall away. And letting what can fall away fall.
Let's get this party started
If you're like me, you're probably saying something that sounds a bit like this:
“But it's ALL important!!!”
I hear ya. I'm with ya. And it's true, it totally feels that way, right?
But here's the thing: It's not that way. I know it feels that way … but it's not that way. There are certain things which, if left undone, the world would not come to an end. Really, it's true.
You're having a dinner party. There's all this stuff to be done.
People to invite. Food to buy. Decorations to put up. Gift bags to assemble. Recipes to cook. Plates and cups and utensils to be laid out. Hair to be washed. Clothes to put on. Big to-do list, right?
Now just say you're jammin' along on your list and suddenly you look up and … wow, the party's starting in a half hour! Certain things would drop off the list.
And it would be ok.
I know, I know, you really want to get it all done, to have absolutely the most kick butt party in the whole wide world but …
Maybe it's ok for you to NOT make that crab dip your partygoers would so very much love. After all, you do already have the main course cooked and the drinks are so very delicious. And maybe it's not ideal but maybe, just maybe, it would be totally fine.
Maybe when your first guest comes they could help you put the utensils out. And maybe it's not ideal but maybe, just maybe, it would be totally fine.
Maybe a few of the things from your massive to-do list don't get done. And maybe it's not ideal but maybe, just maybe, it would be totally fine.
Separate the stones
Envision a glass jar. You've got stones and pebbles and sand. What's the most efficient way to fill up that jar? If you fill up your jar with sand first, you'll never get your stones in there.
Put the stones in first, then the pebbles. Last, the sand can flow in between the spaces.
First, let's get acquainted with your stones, your pebbles and your sand. To determine which is which, ask yourself, “If this did not get done, what's the worst that would happen?”
Let's face it, although very little on our to-do list is truly, truly life-altering, certain things definitely do feel that way. Essential stones are the things which, if not done … well, the party just would not happen.
These are the things that would make the most impact on your desired end result. They do not merely add to the experience … If one were to drop off the list, there would be no experience.
Example: If you were giving a party and didn't invite anyone … no party. Sure sign that this is an essential stone.
Ask yourself the question, “Will this matter a year from now?”
You do not need to be in charge of doing every single last thing that can possibly be done.
Have you ever noticed … when you finally check off one to-do list, before you even breathe a sigh of relief there's another list of to-do's ready and waiting?
Your in-box will never be empty and you will never get it all done. Make peace with that.
The belief that you do need to get everything done and that you can actually one day accomplish that “all-is-done” state … This is what keeps you in stress.
And by you I mean me. I was the worst of the worst. Talk about underlying stress. I still go there sometimes and so I make it a point to remind myself of this daily … and each time that I do, I feel relief.
Choose and then let go. Separate out the important things and the rest, delegate to the universe.
This is the path to peace.
A few final words of wisdom …
The journey is the reward
“If you're obsessed with getting everything done, you'll never have a sense of well-being! In reality, almost everything can wait. If I remind myself frequently that the purpose of life isn't to get it all done but to enjoy each step along the way and live a life filled with love, it's far easier for me to control my obsession with completing my list of things to do.”
“You will never get it all done. How does that feel? If that feels like, ‘Oh good' … then you are remembering that the destination has never been what it's about. The destination just gives you something to focus upon so that energy flows, so that your journey is exhilarating.”
Excerpted from the workshop in Portland, OR on Tuesday, May 1st, 2001
Special thanks to Jeanna Gabellini for imparting her wisdom (inspired by Stephen Covey / Seven Habits of Highly Effective People) … and for allowing me to share her right-on metaphor of the party. Download Jeanna's FREE teleclass “Ready, set…VISUALIZE” at Abundance Abounds.
“There once was a king who offered a prize to the artist who would paint the best picture of peace. Many artists tried. The king looked at all the pictures. But there were only two he really liked, and he had to choose between them.
One picture was of a calm lake. The lake was a perfect mirror for peaceful towering mountains all around it. Overhead was a blue sky with fluffy white clouds. All who saw this picture thought that it was a perfect picture of peace.
The other picture had mountains, too. But these were rugged and bare. Above was an angry sky, from which rain fell and in which lightning played. Down the side of the mountain tumbled a foaming waterfall. This did not look peaceful at all.
But when the king looked closely, he saw behind the waterfall a tiny bush growing in a crack in the rock. In the bush a mother bird had built her nest. There, in the midst of the rush of angry water, sat the mother bird on her nest – in perfect peace.
Which was the picture that won prize?
The second picture.
‘Because,’ explained the king, ‘peace does not mean to be in a place where there is no noise, trouble, or hard work. Peace means to be in the midst of all those things and still be calm in your heart. That is the real meaning of peace.’ ”