How to Make a Change in 6 Simple Steps

Hello StandinLovers!

Today we celebrate Mardi Gras, or Fat Tuesday.  This celebration in America dates back to the late 16th century as French explorers, commanded by King Louis XIV, commemorated newly discovered land near present day New Orleans.  In 1702, the first French capital was named at Mobile, Alabama where one year later French settlers organized the first Mardi Gras celebration.   While Mardi Gras symbolizes the conclusion of fun-filled, indulgent festivities, it is also the eve of a period of introspection. This year is particularly symbolic, as it falls on the last day of the month, with the fasting season beginning tomorrow on the 1st of the month.   A meaningful time to set an intention for the six-week Lenten period.   What is it that you would like to focus on adding or removing from your life, thereby opening up new possibilities, inspiring ideas, and creating lasting change in your life?

Educated in Catholic schools,  I was accustomed to fasting for 40 days as penance for my sins.  My limited focus growing up centered on the ritualistic and obligatory renunciation of my favorite things.  As an adult, I realize this period is not an obligation, rather an opportunity; an empowering choice with benefits.  Fasting plays an important role in many faiths and is an integral part of secular practices.  Philosophers Socrates, Plato, and Hippocrates relied on fasting to increase focus and heighten awareness.

Today’s tips are designed to inspire you to make the most of the Spring renewal season.  They are adapted from best-selling author and motivational leader, Tony Robbins.  In Awakening the Giant Within, he shares a specific methodology for making change, which I believe will serve as a guideposts for your personal journey of change during this 40 day period.

6 STEPS to CREATING LASTING CHANGE

  1. DECIDE.    It all starts here.  What is your intention for this period? What is it you truly want to do, feel, or experience in your life?  Most of the work is in this first step.  Take courage, trust your gut, and make the decision.  There is tremendous power in decision-making.
  2. GET LEVERAGE.   Tony suggests we “associate massive pain to not changing now, and massive pleasure to the experience of changing now.” He continues,“the greatest leverage we can create for ourselves is the pain that comes from the inside, not outside.  Knowing you have failed to live up to your own standards for you life is the ultimate pain.”  Translation:   Retrain your brain and establish new ways of thinking.  Take the decision you made in step 1, and create new neuro-associations linking to this behavior.  Make the new behavior so enticing, that you cannot imagine going back to the old behavior.
  3. INTERRUPT the LIMITING PATTERN.   This is the heart and soul of the 40 day fasting practice.  It is an interruption of your regular routine.  Fasting breaks up existing patterns of behavior, thought, and actions.  This is exercise for the brain!  Flex those muscles, work those neurons and create new pathways for improved thinking and doing!  How incredibly invigorating to take responsibility for the way you think, act, and behave.  Taking ownership of your emotions and actions eliminates feelings of victimization and reduces disempowerment.
  4. CREATE NEW EMPOWERING ALTERNATIVE.   Anyone in recovery knows that abandoning an old habit means replacing it with a new, healthier alternative.    Choose wisely, and be realistic.  If food is your struggle, replace with a healthier option that will not leave you feeling guilty or shamed.  Remember, this is about your concious choice to change or replace.
  5. CONDITION NEW PATTERN UNTIL CONSISTENT.   Behavioral Scientist B.F.Skinner developed the Law of Reinforcement, inspired by Thorndike’s Law of Effect.  The theory: Behavior which is reinforced tends to be repeated or strengthened; behavior which is not reinforced tends to be extinguished or weakened.
  6. TEST IT.     How do you feel each day?  When you wake up, you have a daily opportunity to test or practice this new thought or behavior.   Do you recognize subtle shifts in thoughts, behaviors, or actions? Do things that once bothered you now seem less fear and anxiety provoking?   Make notes in a journal and keep track of your progress.   Journaling is a healthy way to visualize your changes and rewards your efforts!

Fasting is not limited to food abstention. You may decide to fast from social media, television, or any routine activity requiring time and space; things that block you from experiencing your deepest, heartfelt desires. Another common practice is fasting from negative emotions: complaining, arguing, or judging, thereby making room to practice heart healthy emotions like joy, positivity, and acceptance. Benefits of fasting include mental clarity, a renewed sense of purpose, as well as physical improvements like a relaxed digestive system.

Finally, it is important to remember we are human beings, not perfectionist bots.  That means we will allow ourselves and others grace and compassion when we slip up and fall.  If you missed the last post with tips on self-love and whole-hearted living,  learn more here.     Please share your ideas and tips for the Spring renewal season! You may inspire someone who needs to hear your idea!

Laisser les bons temps rouler!

3 Tips for Whole-Hearted Living

“The capacity for delight is the gift of paying attention.” – Julia Cameron

Hello friends of StandinLove!  If this is your first visit to the blog, I would like to welcome you!  So glad you popped in!
This is a creative place where people from around the world gather in connection.  It is about People | Ideas | Purpose.    StandinLove represents  3 words and 1 purpose.  The S from Stand is for Serving People.  The I from in is for Inspiring and Inviting Ideas.  The L from Love is Living your Purpose.    How do we SIL?  Connection, Engagement, and Encouragement.   On that note, I am beyond grateful for the group success of this weekend’s Share the Love connection event!

The purpose?  Invite friends new and old into the BeadforLife circle to share our hearts over good old-fashioned cups of hot Ugandan black tea.  The ambience was just right.  The rains descended from a cloudy desert sky, providing a much-needed shower to the dry and dusty landscape.  We filled our cups, and together, imagined we sat alongside the makers of the beautifully rolled recycled paper jewelry that brought us all together Saturday afternoon.   What I appreciated most about this particular small-group gathering is the realization that the women came together not just for the BeadforLife jewelry, but to connect with one another out of a deep desire to be a part of something larger than themselves.  It was beautiful to behold.  We collectively raised over $900 for BeadforLife, which will send 3.28 deeply impoverished women to the Street Business School– a 6 month entrepreneurial training program taught in mobile classroom environments in Uganda, Burundi, Rwanda, Somalia, and Kenya!

Sharing thoughts and viewpoints on subjects we currently enjoy, we practiced something friendship expert and author Shasta Nelson refers to as frientimacy.  I offered a few insights from inspiring writers who have influenced my passion for living each day with whole-hearted intention.

What does it mean to live with your whole heart? Let’s discover 3 simple ways we can start connecting with our whole hearts today, in honor of February 13th: Self-Love Day!

Live Passionately.

What makes your heart sing?  What makes it difficult to go to bed at night and makes you jump out of bed first thing in the morning?  Enjoying a favorite variety of coffee?  Spending time with friends and loved ones?   Refurbishing a well-loved piece of furniture? Organizing your ideas for a new business venture?  Checking a life goal off the bucket list?  Creating visions for future opportunities? Overcoming life challenges with bravery and courage? Learning something new? Influencing others with your creativity?

To live passionately is to live life creatively:  To unlock, unblock, and unleash your creative genius.    Julia Cameron’s The Artist’s Way has been a staple in learning environments around the world.  One of her many tips to rediscovering passion and creativity in your life is enjoying what she refers to as an Artist’s Date.  This solo rendezvous is designed to replenish your creativity bucket as well as connect you to the things you appreciate most in life.  A walk in the park admiring nature, a trip to your favorite shop, or maybe a drive to a remote location to experience peace and tranquility.  Cameron recommends choosing activities involving all the senses to maximize the creative potential.  Intentionally focusing on what you smell, hear, touch, see, and taste feels incredibly invigorating!

Love Compassionately.

Best-selling author Richard Bolles discusses more than just career transitions in            What Color is Your Parachute.   Whether you are embarking on a new career, entering retirement, or in the middle of a life transition, he takes you on a journey of self discovery, helping you identify your unique talents and gifts with the goal of sharing them with people at home, in the workplace, and in the world.   After completing the detailed, self-reflective  7-petal exercise he concludes with this thought-provoking observation, ” The more you ponder the mystery of you, the more you must ponder the mystery of all those you encounter; every loved one, every friend, every acquaintance, every stranger.” 

Incredibly profound if you stop to consider the implications.  The more we come to understand ourselves at our core, the better we will come to understand and appreciate others.   Why? Because if we truly honor and explore our unique preferences and creative talents, we will then create the opportunity to love others more deeply recognizing their specific talents and gifts.   This understanding of ourselves and others leads to increased compassion and allows our hearts to be full.   There is a reason this book has been a best-seller for over 45 years!

Give Generously.

In Rising Strong,  renowned author and shame researcher Brené Brown explores the concept of giving generous assumptions.  She looks at giving in terms of intangibles like forgiveness, empathy, and giving someone the benefit of the doubt.   The theory presumes  people are giving their very best at any given moment.  She says when we give someone the most generous assumption possible, we invite opportunities to connect on a deeper level.   I believe this plays a fundamental role in whole-hearted living, as it creates space for people to be human.  It grants permission to make mistakes.  It allows grace a seat at the table.  Giving generous assumptions about others helps quiet our own nagging, critical voice telling us to be perfect and releases others from expectations we have placed upon them.

When dealing with relational conflict she says, “What is the hypothesis of generosity? What is the most generous assumption you can make about this person’s intentions or what this person said?”

This notion of giving generous assumptions requires a little strength and a lot of courage.  It means we first have accept ourselves, so we understand how to practice with others.   It is difficult to give from a place of lack. When we give generous assumptions to ourselves, we silence the inner voice, we learn to trust ourselves, and we make room in our hearts.  Making room in your heart is a key component of whole-hearted living.  Creating space to love others.

Please share your thoughts in the comments on any of the reading selections, as well offer books you love that explore living and leading with your whole heart.  We all learn from each other in this beautiful circle of exchange!

Have a terrific week, and I look forward to connecting with you all again soon!

StandinLove,  Jennifer

PS.  BeadforLife is 50% off through the month of February.. if you have an idea or an event at which you would like to share BeadforLife, please let me know, and I’ll be happy to support you!