Shift away from self-doubt

A shocking amount of self-doubt plagues top achievers, according to a new book about women and leadership titled “The Confidence Code.” In it, author Claire Shipman reports that “women who have reached admirable heights have not erased the nagging feeling that they might be unmasked as incompetent pretenders.”

Shipman is not talking about mid-level managers. She quotes the highest ranking woman in the tech industry, Sheryl Sandberg, the COO of Facebook, as saying: “There are still days I wake up feeling like a fraud, not sure I should be where I am.”

Although this book is about women, the self-doubt it chronicles also applies to men. Why? Because our country is not going anywhere – and this may be the reason why.

Our country, it seems, is in the grips of an unhappiness epidemic. A Harvard University survey found 4 in 5 students suffering from depression. Nearly half experienced depression so severe, they couldn’t function.

Fifty years ago, the medium age for the onset of depression was 29.5 years old. Today, it’s half that: 14.5 years old.

A survey of workers released in 2010 found that only 45 percent of workers report being happy in their jobs. It’s the lowest number recorded in 22 years.

No wonder a woman as accomplished as Sheryl Sandberg wakes up feeling like a fraud. The negative tapes that run around in our heads – the ones that tell us we’re not good enough – have taken over and depressed us.

This may be why politicians can’t solve our country’s problems. The negative tapes that run around in the heads of politicians are all too plainly visible in their campaign ads.

Self-doubt is behind this avalanche of negativity. It chips away at our ability to formulate new ideas and acquire the confidence to execute them. There’s nothing left to talk about except the content of those negative tapes.

There is something we can do. Let me warn you in advance – it will seem too simple to work.

Here it is: We can rewire our brains to automatically see positives in ourselves and everyone else by noting 3 good things a day for 21 days.

Conclusive research in neuroscience demonstrates the ability of this simple technique to combat negative tapes. The gains are incredible: every aspect of life improves, including health.

Too simple to work? America’s most successful ideas are often the simplest ones. Think Twitter.

When our country’s politicians can’t come up with workable ideas to solve our problems, we must accept that they’re mired in muck – and that it’s up to us to infuse a dose of positivity into the mix.

Let’s do it by combatting the root cause of negativity: our habit our doubting ourselves.

Shift away from self-doubt by noting 3 good things a day. We may start a “3 Good Things” movement. Our country’s leaders would pick up on it; America would become a beacon of positivity; our world would change. That’s 3 good things.


Shift into peace of mind

With his first sentence – “It’s not about you” – Rick Warren, the author of “The Purpose-Driven Life,” drafts a new philosophy of life for Christians.

Warren writes that the quest for personal fulfillment and peace of mind can only be found if we discover why we were placed on this planet. He sums up his philosophy by saying that our purpose begins with God.

Warren is right. Peace of mind is found by discovering the reason why we were created. It’s about finding that unique purpose which is ours alone, and executing it.

But this can’t be done if we think our purpose is not about us. It’s about God, that’s for sure, but it’s also about us. Take either out of the equation, and purposes are not executed at all. We need God, but he also needs us.

Too many people use Warren’s eye-catching first sentence to tell us that we don’t matter. They tell us what to think, what to believe, and what to do. As though they are God.

Throw off the opinions of others. Go direct! Only you and God know what your purpose is. Your job is to find that purpose, and execute it.

When you do, you’ll shift into peace of mind.


By looking in the most unlikely of places – in those negative feelings we all try to get rid of.

Oh, sure, some negative feelings are disturbingly worthless. They’re fired off by repetitive negative thoughts that have become wired into place in our brains. Shifting out of them is the smart thing to do.

But not all negative reactions to life are like that. Some are meant to guide us to discovering our purpose.

This simple exercise:

Grab a couple of sheets of paper. Draw a line down the middle of the first sheet. On the left-hand side, write down the thing that disturbs you most about other people. Choose carefully! This is your purpose we’re talking about. Your purpose is something more than a petty complaint. It’s about something you see happening to you and others that really, really hurts.

On the right-hand side of the page, write down what you would like to see instead. From the depths of your heart, something will emerge that contains more wisdom than you thought was inside of you. This is your purpose emerging.

With this simple exercise, the real truth behind Rick Warren’s first sentence becomes clear: It’s not only about us. It’s about us and God working together.

Do the exercise. Find your purpose. Execute it. You’ll shift into a peace of mind that you never knew existed.


Shift into being a social entrepreneur

One of the primary creators of microlending, Jessica Jackley, had this to say about social entrepreneurs (those individuals with a calling to do something good for mankind): “I meet so many individuals who have great plans, but they take way too long to do anything about them.”

If you feel an irresistible urge to help others and you have an idea on how to pull it off, you have a calling to become a social entrepreneur.

If you’re taking “way too long” to execute it, here’s the reason: You have to earn a living.

Think about it.

After working 40 hours a week, most people don’t have time or energy to do what God is calling them to do. That sounds raw, but it’s true. It’s even more true when support time is factored in. Shopping for groceries, buying and washing clothes, keeping our cars running – add in these tasks, and jobs take up more like 80 hours a week.

We have 168 hours available to us each week. After allocating 80 hours to work, sleep chews up a minimum of 56 hours. That leaves 32 hours a week to execute a calling.

This is close to impossible to do. Callings require contemplation, serious quiet time, which has to be arranged. Relationship management and household chores come first, or there is no quiet time. That means our remaining stash of 32 hours is now down to a couple of hours.

And then, we’re in Jackley’s “way too long” boat.

What can be done? Crowdfunding.

Crowdfunding is a way to raise money toward a common cause from a large number of people, usually in small, affordable amounts, via the internet. It’s the second wave of the microlending movement Jackley helped start. Powered by cooperation and compassion, crowdfunding helps people raise money to execute their callings.

With its mix of cooperation and compassion, crowdfunding enacts the founding principle of all major religions: the Golden Rule. In Christianity, the Golden Rule appears this way: “Do onto others as you would have them do to you,” (Luke 6:31).

Crowdfunding is a wonderfully cool idea. On Kickstarter, the top crowdfunding platform, 44% of all new ideas are funded. In the last 6 months, 76,909 projects were posted on Kickstarter; 33,839 people are now living their dreams.

Isn’t this the way prayers are answered? God taps Person B to help Person A. Crowdfunding is much more than a wonderfully cool idea. With its alignment to the way prayers are answered, it’s a perfect match to a calling.

Is it possible to figure out what God is calling us to do, make a plan, and raise the money for it through crowdfunding in what’s left of our 32 hours a week?

Yes! Crowdfunding has taken “way too long” off the table. Now, when God calls on us to do something good, we can shift into being social entrepreneurs.


Shift into abundance

According to a new Baylor University survey,  95 percent of Americans believe in God. Only 24 percent believe that God is benevolent and loving. The larger majority, 76 percent, holds a view of God as critical or distant.

The reason may be due to how we view life’s lessons. When life’s unpleasant experiences hit, those who believe in a critical God feel they’re being punished, while those who believe in a benevolent God feel they’re being helped.

Neither group is right. The real purpose of unpleasant experiences doesn’t have anything to do with correcting flaws in ourselves – either through punishment or gentle coaxing.

The purpose of unpleasant experiences is to get us to want more, because by wanting more, we instantly do what every believer in God is trying to achieve.

We connect with God.

I discovered the real purpose of unpleasant experiences when I lost two friends who meant the world to me last year. We were part of a brilliant partnership with a tech product that everyone thought was the “next new thing.” When the partnership ended, so did the friendships.

Anyone who goes into business with friends knows that their friendships might end if things don’t work out. This wasn’t like that. The loss of these friendships was a 9.0 Richter scale blow to me.

At first, I asked: “What’s the lesson?” There wasn’t one. I was ditched for no apparent reason other than preference.

That’s when the flaw in using the word “lesson” occurred to me.

If there’s nothing to learn from our unpleasant experiences, why do they feel as though an earthquake has gone off inside of us?

I asked a different question: “What do I want?”

When I answered, something completely unexpected happened. A flutter of new energy rose from my deadened heart, like a prayer.

“I want new friends,” I thought. “People who are shaking up our world for the good, who are using new social media platforms like Kickstarter to pull it off.”

I wanted more. More than I had lost. More than I had ever had the nerve to ask God for in the past.

Suddenly, my heart had wings! There was nothing God and I couldn’t do together – now that I knew how to ask for more.

Without knowing it, I had shifted into abundance. For this is what abundance feels like.

We’ve become so accustomed to asking the wrong question – what’s wrong with us? – that we’ve stopped wanting, stopped asking, stopped praying.

We need to shift willingly into abundance by asking for more. If we do, will some of our unpleasant experiences suddenly become unnecessary? Now that’s a good question.


Shift into the power of gratitude

The power of gratitude is so well known, 24 million pages pop up when “the power of gratitude” is typed into a search engine. Do any of the experts on these pages understand the real power of gratitude?

Not when they push us to be grateful for the good things that happen to us. The real power of gratitude shows up not when we’re grateful for the things that make us happy, but when we’re grateful for the things that have broken our hearts.

I know because it happened to me.

It was business partnership that had success stamped all over it: brilliant partners, adequate funding, and a product everyone believed was the “next new thing.” All of the wonders of life – living a humanitarian life, changing the world, and doing it without financial worries – were laid at our feet, and we knew it. And then, the unthinkable happened.

One of our partners decided to close his professional practice and work full-time on our project. His family members objected. They told him over and over that he would fail. Their words took hold of him, and his brain began repeating them like a mantra.

First, the negativity overtook him, rendering his brilliance useless. Then, it spread. He began to disparage the things that had been our mark of success. Our ideas, our skills, our contributions, our personalities: all of the things that made us great were now dog meat.

Research in neuroscience has zeroed in on the effects of this kind of negativity on companies. A work environment that falls below 3:1 positive-to-negative interactions will find creativity stifled, communication crippled and motivation destroyed.

In short, this is how dreams are destroyed – and ours was.

Neuroscience researchers have also discovered the fix. It’s noting 3 good things a day. An avalanche of research data about this technique shows that it rewires our brains to automatically see positives rather than negatives in 21 days.

I used the fix. I had to. The loss of this dream came at a time when my husband Bob had a second stroke and was diagnosed with prostate cancer. I didn’t just lose a dream; I lost an income – just when we needed it most, to help Bob heal.

The fix quickly pulled me out of negativity, and a new dream began to grow within me. I created a new partnership to bring the technique of noting 3 good things a day to all those who long for relief from negativity’s horrible effect on our psyches, our bodies, our relationships, our businesses – and our dreams.

As I did, I discovered the real power of gratitude.

The power of gratitude isn’t about being grateful only for the good things that happen to us. The real power of gratitude is its ability to free us from the gravitational pull of heartache so we can clearly see what that heartache has created for us.


Shift into accepting approval

Have you ever had an experience where everything you’ve done in your life – everything you’ve mastered – is needed at that very moment? It’s a rush that cannot be explained in human terms.

Doctors, especially, have moments like these. But I’ve never had one – until recently, when I put together a plan to bring the technique of noting “3 good things” to the medical community via apps. Suddenly, everything I’ve done in my life was needed. Public speaking experience, fundraising, social media expertise, tech skills, working with doctors, running limited partnerships, and this key one: bringing an app to fruition as CEO of a tech company.

The light from this thing was blinding. I couldn’t look at it without getting the jitters. What if I screwed it up? An old fear of mine from childhood – feeling not good enough – cropped up.

I had no time to waste on self-doubt. I asked myself what I needed. The word “approval” immediately came up.

Approval is not something we’re supposed to need. For decades, therapists and self-help and spiritual experts have told us: “approval comes from within, not without.” I have a different take on this. My childhood was devoid of approval. I didn’t receive my first compliment from a family member until I was 35 years old. Think about that for a moment. A life of no praise. The result is a persistent fear of not being good enough. To heal this fear, I had to discover the truth about approval. It comes from within and without – and sometimes coming from someone else (the “without”) is life-changing.

When I was 35, I showed my sister the outline of an ecourse I wanted to teach through AOL. I was terrified of getting another dose of disapproval from a family member. To my utter surprise, my sister emailed back: “Mark this as a red letter day.” It was the first dose of approval I received from a family member, and it changed my life.

Now, unless something extraordinary happens, I feel “good enough.” But something extraordinary did happen when destiny hit me in the face with my plan to bring “3 good things” apps to the medical community. Those old feelings came back. I needed a fresh dose of approval.

I got it from my new partners, all of whom are highly-trained medical professionals used to having awe-struck moments. It happened after I allowed my need for approval to rise to the surface within me.


Shift into believing in yourself

What do we typically do when a new idea bubbles up within us? We can’t wait to tell our friends and family about it – but their reaction is often not what we’re expecting. It’s negative instead of positive.

When I shared my idea of turning “3 good things” into apps for the medical community with friends who practice alternative medicine, they were all over my idea – but they recommended that I steer clear of the medical community. They spoke with a loud and unanimous voice. One by one, they said things like this: Doctors are resistant to change; Doctors won’t consider anything new; Doctors are depressed because of health care reform.

I knew where they were coming from. They wanted me to take an easier route to success. Go after an easier audience, they said, like spiritually-minded people interested in improving their health.

The more they talked about how awful the medical field is, though, the more I wanted to help – the more my heart yearned to help.

Whose heart was right? Would I wind up saying, “I should have listened to my friends?” Thoughts of doubt crept into my psyche; for a few days, they also ran the show. To shut down the doubts, I had to answer the question: Whose heart was right?

I did it with a piece of knowledge about the process by which new ideas reach their potential: That the growth of an idea follows the thoughts that created it.

Oh, we may have all heard that “thoughts create reality,” but not how it happens. By the way, the phrase “thoughts create reality” is not a new age belief, as commonly thought. The renowned paleontologist and Christian philosopher, Pierre Teilhard de Chardin, wrote extensively in 1966 about the role of thought in his groundbreaking book, “The Phenomenon of Man.” He said the same thing, but in greater detail.

Here’s what I learned from Teilhard de Chardin. The initial thoughts about a new creation are naturally weak. They haven’t yet gathered enough like-minded thoughts to create a form. But when they do, and the form appears, the weakest part appears first.

The point in time when we want to share our ideas with others is also the point in time when those ideas are weakest, more vulnerable – and more easily shot down.

Noting 3 good things a day gets an idea past it’s vulnerability. It helps us recognize those little signs of our idea’s appearance, and the thrill of that helps us shift into believing in ourselves.


Shift into your destiny

In an act of utter humanity, a small gathering of people recently set out to determine whether we can re-wire our brains to automatically see our positives rather than our negatives. New research in neuroscience shows that noting 3 good things a day for 21 days does this.

The gathering started a Facebook group called 3 Good Things, and they began noting 3 good things a day. They didn’t merely list things like “the sun was shining.” They opened their hearts and posted the events that meant something to them – like getting an unexpected check when it was sorely needed.

After a few weeks, here’s what happened:

“It’s an internal change for me. When something negative happens, I dismiss it and now turn my back on it instead of dwelling on it. I just think of the good things and don’t worry anymore that the negative situation will be around for long.”(Sue D.)

“I have been feeling more positive. I think on the days when I’ve had to dig deep and really wasn’t feeling it but found 3GT anyway, it took the focus off whatever was going ‘wrong’. This is energizing and begins a wonderful upward spiral.” (Lanie M.)

“I’m experiencing confidence and a 90% reduction in anxiety. This is a miraculous turn in my psychological makeup.” (Susan G.)

Noting 3 good things a day does turn our brains into positive-observing machines.

What does this mean for us as human beings?

It means we can now shift into our destinies – not just the purpose for our existence, but destiny itself.

Destiny is defined by Merriam-Webster as “the events that will necessarily happen to a particular person or thing in the future.”

This is what we have been waiting for: a shift into destiny. The ability to use what we’ve learned from every one of the lessons we’ve gone through (even the ugly ones). The opportunity to combine those lessons with the skills we’ve acquired along the way. The certainty that we’re going to create new, more positive – more loving – ways to “be.”

How do I know this? Because I shifted into destiny after a few months of noting 3 good things a day.

First, I began noticing the good things that were happening to me rather than focusing on what I was worried about.

Next, a new voice began to accompany any negative messages. Whenever I thought I couldn’t do something, the new voice said: “You’ve already accomplished a lot more than that.”

Then, an idea began to grow in me. It was the idea of turning the technique of noting 3 good things a day into apps for the medical community.

My idea came with a challenge. The apps, I knew, needed to match the unbelievably positive energy of the Facebook group that had the courage to apply this new technique to their lives. Was I up to pulling that off?

That’s when destiny made its first big appearance. It jumped in with an ingenious spark – of adding to the apps the knowledge and passion for healing that exists within the heads and hearts of the physicians who have signed on to create these apps with me. Here’s an example:

One of my partners in this app venture is an M.D. with a Ph.D. in Cultural Anthropology. She has a totally different way of thinking about aging. Even in cases of dementia, she believes, aging with its physical limitations automatically presents opportunities for connection and spiritual growth. New insights like this – which can be executed by noting 3 good things a day – will be part of these apps.

More than just developing apps from neuroscience research, this partnership now has an opportunity to make an original and significant contribution to the field of medicine. It will be my responsibility to pull that off – and I’m going to do it in real time, on this blog. At least once a week, and usually more often, I’ll post updates.

You’ll find out:

o   How to get supporters

o   How to fund projects like apps

o   How past lessons play a part in creating new opportunities

o   How to deal with the emotions that crop up

o   How to handle obstacles in the way

In real time, as I do it.