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The One Thing That Determines the Quality of Our Lives

Our life experience is determined by the choices we make every day…the good, the bad and the ugly (very ugly some days.)

What is happening in our life right now, today, is in large part determined by the choices we made in the past and so our future will be determined by the choices we make today. One day or one action may seem insignificant and often they are when examined alone, but the patterns of our choices are what shape the direction and quality of our lives, our success, and our happiness.

In plain terms – Our choices drive our lives.

What actions we take…or don’t take.

Whom we love, help, collaborate with, associate with, hire, work for, and spend time with.

Whether we pursue our dreams doggedly…or let them languish in the “someday” pile.

How we take care of our bodies and our health.

What information we choose to put into our minds… and what we do with it when it gets in there.

The attitude with which we treat other people and ourselves…are we kind and generous…or are we critical and complaining.

How we spend our time…enhancing our lives, taking steps towards a goal, having fun, or passing the time on some mindless activity that will not matter tomorrow.

Taking risks…or playing it safe.

Where we place the majority of our focus…planning for the future, remembering the past, or living for the now.

It’s important to remember that all of our choices are valid. It’s also important to remember that the choices we consistently make every day are what matter most. That said, we must be willing to accept responsibility for what we decide…and don’t decide, what we do…and what we don’t do. Often the choice we don’t make is more impactful than the choice we do make.

It’s not about anxiously overthinking every choice we make or beating ourselves up for the choices we’ve made in the past. It’s about being honest with ourselves about the choices we make and how those choices affect our future.

Simply notice. Pay attention to the choices you’re making.

…Then you have two options

Accept the life experience chosen without complaint.


Make different choices next time.

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6 Things You Can Do When You Find Yourself Getting Frustrated

We all get frustrated, irritated, darn annoyed at times. People, situations, problems, interactions, all can cause us to feel frustrated. We may not be able to avoid frustration, but we can minimize the impact it has on our life. It’s what we do when those feelings of frustration arise that makes the difference.

Acknowledge your frustration. 

The more you try to deny, push aside, or ignore your feelings, the louder they get. Don’t try to minimize or explain away your irritation, just accept it. You are annoyed right now! That’s a fact. There. Done. Over that hurdle. Now you can move on. Sometimes simply acknowledging and naming your feelings is enough to help them dissipate.

Create some distance.

Don’t just try to ride it out, give yourself a breather. If you can, remove yourself from the situation – end the conversation, get up away from your desk, leave the room, shift to a different activity, and take a walk. If getting away isn’t an option, create some mental distance – shift the topic of conversation, work on a different task or project for a bit, put on some music, even just deliberately taking  a few breaths and consciously releasing the tension in your body will work.

Ask the tough questions.

Do you have a part in creating your frustration? Are you judging someone or something through your own filters? Is it really yours to be frustrated about or are you taking on something that isn’t your business? Is there something you did or said that you shouldn’t have? Or something you didn’t that you should have? Why are you so frustrated? Don’t flog yourself. Blaming isn’t constructive; simply recognize your contribution.

Take action.

Is there something you can do to alleviate your frustration? Is there a discussion that needs to happen? Is there some action you can take? Is there something you can do to prevent the irritation from occurring in the future?

Get it out.

If there’s nothing you can do, perhaps you can at least write about it in a private journal or confide in a close confidant, (make sure they are trustworthy.) For some, activity works; sweat it out at the gym, walk it off, garden it away, whatever works. Cleaning works for me – you know I’m frustrated when the house sparkles. Find what works for you.

Let yourself off the hook.

No guilt, no berating, or judging yourself as unreasonable or impatient. We’re human, imperfect beings with feelings, needs, and wants. We get frustrated when those wants or needs aren’t met, when things don’t go as planned, when our feelings or opinions get trampled on. It’s just a part of life.

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25 Ways to “Mind – Surf”: Contemplation Made Easy


I’m feeling introspective today…not sure why, but I try to honor those needs when they arise. I humbly recommend that you do the same. When our bodies or our minds call to us, there is usually a reason – though we may not understand it – a decision we need to make, a feeling we need to examine, an action we need to take, a mistake we need to forgive, a dream we need to pursue or release.

If we continue to ignore those calls, they get louder and louder, trying to get our attention, compelling us to go inside, to look, to listen, and to understand. Our bodies are powerful barometers of the unrest, dissatisfaction, longing, or confusion in our minds. Stress grows, health problems develop, sleep is disrupted, energy plummets, happiness and contentment fade, we can become sullen, irritated and generally annoyed with the world – quite unpleasant for those around us.

Even when we do recognize that we need to take some time to recognize the source of our discontent, we aren’t quite sure how to go about it. Too much to do, no time for rest, rushing, craziness. It seems a low priority, a waste of time even to spend precious time exploring our wants, our needs, our frustrations, and if we’re honest, it can be a bit scary. But totally worth the time.

We can have all the trappings of success and happiness, but if it’s not what we really want, what we really need, it’s hollow and fruitless. Now, that’s a waste of time.

Contemplation Made Easy – Let’s call it “Mind Surfing.” That has a nice ring to it. Makes it sound hip, current, not so “woo-woo.”

If you want to hear your inner dilemmas or discover the sources of your discontent, you have to get quiet enough to listen. This can be difficult in our modern world, but it’s not impossible, you just need to find what works for you.


Find a quiet location away from the noise and activity of the world – or your home…

  1. Easy meditation – meditation frequently comes up when talking about getting quiet. That’s because it works. You don’t need a cushion, fancy candles, a class, instructional recording, or even music – though those things can be helpful – you just need to sit in a quiet place and breathe.
  2. Daydream – Yes, for once in your life, daydreaming is allowed. In fact, it may be absolutely necessary. Allow your mind to wander with no prescribed agenda or destination. Just try not to do it at work…
  3. Pray – Any religion or no religion, formal or informal
  4. Chant – Use beads, mantra or background chanting – you can find CD’s



Preferably something you can do on auto-pilot  – and still be safe – so that your mind can wander and thoughts can slow down so your brain get out of “doing” mode and get into “contemplating” mode.

  1. Walk – that’s as simple as it gets. It’s better if you’re not walking to get somewhere, just walking for the sake of walking and “mind surfing.”
  2. Run – many people are able to turn off their minds while running and just settle into the repetitive motion.
  3. Bike (no traffic please)
  4. Yoga – try holding poses longer to slow the mind, but hot or fast can work too, especially if you need to burn off excess energy
  5. Dance – any type of rhythmic movement works
  6. Swim – pay attention to where you’re going and don’t forget you’re in the water


Hobbies can be a fabulous way to get in touch with what’s going on inside. Creative activities force you to go inside yourself and tap into the part of your brain that isn’t used as often

  1. Sketch, draw, color
  2. Paint, watercolor
  3. Sculpt, Pottery
  4. Knit, crochet, embroider
  5. Sew, quilt

Get Outside

Connecting with nature has a way of helping us connect inside as well.

  1. Hit the trail – hike or find a nature trail
  2. Hit the water – fish, kayak, canoe, row
  3. Observe – bird watch, feed the ducks, sit in the park and watch the squirrels
  4. Garden – my personal favorite – I do some of my best “mind surfing” while gardening


Writing is the method of choice for many “word oriented.” Don’t edit, don’t censor. Be careful not to get caught up in grammar or punctuation and write with the intention that no one else will read your scribbles.

  1. Journal – The classic
  2. Jot notes – Capture random thoughts as they come
  3. Prompts – Use probing questions or focus on an issue that is plaguing you and write about that one thing
  4. Letters – Compose a letter to yourself –past, present or future – giving advice or asking questions. Write a letter to someone else – someone you know well or someone you don’t know at all, but respect – you won’t send them, just write the words.


For the “visually oriented” creating, a picture or visual representation of sorts is helpful.

  1. Mind map – paper or software, doesn’t matter. Try mind mapping to connect or flesh out ideas, concerns, come up with solutions or possibilities.
  2. Dream board – Assemble or collage images that attract or repel you. They often give clues to what you want or what is worrying you.

Some prompts to get you started:

  • What’s bothering me is…
  • What I really want is…
  • What I can’t stand is…
  • What I really need to figure out is…
  • I really need to decide…
  • I really need to do something about…
  • What worries me is…
  • I need to let go of…
  • I’d really like to…
  • I can’t stop thinking about…
  • I can’t help feeling…
  • My gut tells me…
  • I need to get over…
  • I want to figure out what to do about…
  • The next step I need to take is…
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How To Use “Beginner’s Mind” To Solve Any Problem

We are often stuck with “old eyes” and an “old mind.” No, I don’t mean that are peepers are getting old and we’re going senile. What I mean is that it might be time for “beginner glasses” and a “beginner’s mind.”

Why do we need a beginner’s mind?

Because we can’t expect to solve an old problem, or restructure a current situation, with the mind that created it. That is unless we don’t really want to solve it.

How do we use beginner’s mind?

Clear your mind of all preconceptions, expectations, and beliefs about what works and what doesn’t. Warning, this is really very difficult for most of us.

Change something about your normal routine or atmosphere. Go to a different location, sit in a different chair, discuss the problem or situation with someone other than you normally do, change your pen, write with a different hand. I know some individuals who have done some very odd things to change their perspective and as weird as it sounds, many times it has actually worked very well.

Approach the problem from a different side. Look for what doesn’t need to be changed instead of what does. Consider a solution that you’ve automatically dismissed, because it can’t possibly work and try to convince someone – or your self – that it will. Throw something completely out of left field on the wall and see if anything sticks.

Ask yourself, “if there were absolutely no constraints, what would you do about…”

Your company’s future plans

Your career plan

A health issue

Your educational plans

Your marriage or an important relationship

An existing or developing product or service

Your living arrangements

Nearly any problem, situation, or plan, whether old, current, or future can benefit from the “beginner’s mind approach.” It’s a simple and accessible strategy and a whole lot cheaper than a therapist or team of experts. You can always call in those resources later. Why not put on your new glasses and try the beginner’s mind or stood?

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7 Types Of Effective Communication And Why You Need To Know Them

It’s not enough to know  whom you are talking to, communicate, influence, and in the case of our children perhaps teach. If you want to be effective in your communication, you need to understand the best way to reach them. This has been proven time and time again.

This is the key to success, better relationships, and higher productivity at work. In fact, this strategy has been shown to lower stress by minimizing conflict and encourage camaraderie and teamwork, whether personal or professional.

Roosevelt and Churchill in conversation (Zorba the Geek) / CC BY-SA 2.0

It doesn’t matter whether it’s a customer, client, child, spouse, co-worker, or members of a board or committee. You must connect in the manner that resonates with them. It sounds difficult, but it really isn’t once you start practicing it.

Types of communication:

Informing – Some people just want the facts laid out for them. They pay attention to facts and figures, studies and other concrete data.

Analyzing – These people don’t want specific facts, but rather a summary. You need to offer an analysis and boil down the information or request in a meaningful matter.

Persuasive – This type of person wants to know what’s in it for them. Why should they agree to act in a certain way or perform a specific action? They must be convinced. Present your argument.

Mediating – Compromise, compromise. With these people, you have to be willing to give a little. They need to feel heard and respected. Find the common ground and find the solution that satisfies you both.

Emotional – This kind of communication is all about feelings. Knowing what is important and what touches these people is the key. Appeal to their emotions and connect on a compassionate and understanding level.

Entertaining – Wit, humor and levity influences these people. Serious facts are useless, be interesting and lighthearted when possible.

Inspiring – Offer motivation, inspiration, and big picture results. These people need to feel as though they are making a difference, some kind of impact.

The way to practice communication that is more effective requires that you improve your observation and listening skills. Pay attention to the people around you and be more interested in general. We could all use a little more of that.

What type of communicator are you? It helps to understand that too.

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