Shift into divine purpose

The most basic question everyone faces in life is, “Why am I here?” – it’s a truth Rick Warren, the author of “The Purpose-Driven Life,” often recounts. In going further, however, and telling us what our purpose is – which coincides, not surprisingly, with Warren’s definition of Christianity – Warren is dead wrong.

No one knows what your purpose is except you.

Why did God put you here? What are you supposed to do with your life?

Writing about purpose is a multi-million dollar industry, perhaps even a billion dollar industry when courses about finding purpose are factored. “The Purpose-Driven Life” alone has sold over 30 million copies.

What each of these books and courses gets wrong is thinking that people don’t know what their purpose is.

We know — we just don’t believe it’s true.

There is a tiny voice inside each of us that asks us to give more, to love more, to do more with our gifts – we shush it.

To give more, to love more and to do more means having to confront our very legitimate fears of rejection. There’s always someone waiting to tell us that we shouldn’t, that we can’t – that we’re foolish, wrong and ridiculous.

Too many people want us to live their lives, not our lives.

This is the thing that keeps us from doing what that tiny voice inside of us is telling us to do. It’s not that we don’t hear the voice. It’s that we wonder which voice is right – the one inside of us or the one outside of us.

There is a way – a solid way – to determine which voice you should follow.

Follow the positive one.

Have you noticed that the voices coming from others are almost always negative?

It is one thing to give advice that says, “Do it this way.” Advice like that doesn’t feel negative. It feels helpful. It’s quite another to tell someone not to “be.” Advice like that isn’t advice at all. It’s a put-down, plain and simple.

Follow the positive. Those things you want to be and do – initially, don’t they fill you with joy? Water those thoughts, by giving them attention. Bathe them in sunshine, by taking action on them. They will grow.

This is where new research in neuroscience intersects with God. Gerald Schroeder, an MIT-trained scientist and author of “The Hidden Face of God,” explains that quantum physics is the tool for discovering the universal wisdom behind the material world.

So it is with insights coming out of the new field of neuroscience.

For example, noting 3 good things a day for 21 days has been shown to re-wire our brains to automatically see positives rather than negatives.

If you did this exercise, what would you note among your 3 good things?

You’d note the arrival of the things you want to do and be – the things you watered and bathed in sunshine.

And you’d automatically shift into your divine purpose.

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Cool new techniques based on my columns can be found at www.neuroscience4us.com

Published in the Black Mountain News, April 23, 2014

 

Shift into hope

Albert Camus, the 20th century philosopher, once wrote: “There is only one serious philosophical question, and that is suicide.” In doing so, he unwittingly gave us a new route to hope.

Nothing exists without it’s opposite. Philosophers living centuries before Camus, at the dawn of western civilization, tipped us off about this. They taught that the left side of a mountain and the right side of a mountain are the same mountain.

So it is with hope and despair. They are two sides of the same emotional mountain, a mountain that is at times intense. Hope fills us with an almost unbearable feeling of joy. Despair, well, despair sucks every ounce of joy out of us.

What causes us to flip from one side of this mountain (hope) to the other side (despair)? This is where new research in neuroscience provides answers that even philosophers can’t supply.

Neuro switches can be turned off – and they can also be turned on.

How are neuro switched turned on? Through emotions. Researchers have discovered that It isn’t the brain that rules the heart, as was previously believed. The heart rules the brain.

Realizing this, neuroscience researchers use these two exercises to show that our brains rewire to automatically look for positives rather than negatives: noting 3 good things a day and writing letters of gratitude. Both exercises produce emotion, positive emotion. They turn on neuro switches.

What turns off neuro switches? Anything that dampens emotions. It can be something as simple as being put down or as dire as given life-threatening news. We know something is being turned off; we can feel it.

Can hope be turned on when it has been turned off?

Of course. That is what suicide counselors do every day. They turn on hope with compassion and understanding.

Faith, too, turns on hope. An encouraging word turns on hope. Appreciation and praise turn on hope.

But now, there is another way, a faster way – a way present in a technique I developed years ago called word sequencing. I didn’t realize the value of it until research in neuroscience came along.

This technique uses a simple dictionary to cause feelings inside of us to become animated. If I had known about research in neuroscience – except that it didn’t exist yet – I would have said my technique turns on neuro switches.

Let’s try a simplified version of it on hope. In a few seconds, you’ll read 3 definitions for the word hope. One definition will mean a lot to you.

Hope is:

1) A feeling of confidence about what will happen next

2) A surge of encouragement created by favorable outcomes

3) A sense of trust in the future

Which definition meant a lot to you? Write it down.

Now, take another look at your definition.

Did you feel a jolt of hope?

If you did, you shifted into hope – but you did it a lot faster and easier than ever before.

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Cool new techniques based on my columns can be found at www.neuroscience4us.com

Published in the Black Mountain News, April 16, 2014

 

Shift into better health

If you knew for certain that a simple exercise would bring you better health, would you do it?

Probably not.

In “The Happiness Advantage,” author Shawn Achor recounts a conversation he had with a leading CEO. Achor demonstrated with overwhelming research that writing down 3 good things a day for 21 days would improve productivity in this CEO’s company. Improving productivity is the goose that laid the golden egg in corporate America.

The CEO was convinced; yet, his response to Achor was: “But I’m not going to do it.”

What is it about human nature that we eschew the very things that will help us?

Take a look at research about optimism and health. Optimism is what writing down 3 good things a day for 21 days produces.

In his book about the impact of optimism, “Flourish,” Martin Seligman recounts studies about the connection between optimism and health. Cardiovascular disease can be reduced or halted. Immune systems can be boosted to the point where they show a renewed ability to function.

In one study, Seligman measured the immune response in blood from optimists and pessimists. His conclusion? “The blood of optimists had a feistier response to threat.”

Blood having “a feistier response to threat” is a rather creep notion. It’s certainly not as enticing as a golden egg. But if a simple 5-minute exercise for 21 days would boost your immune system to the point where it knocked out early signs of more serious stuff – like cancer – would you do it?

Probably not.

There is something missing in the application of this research – and I think I may know what it is.

It’s the fact that we’re hardwired for cooperative connection.

Before his second stroke late last year, my husband Bob started noting 3 good things a day. He wouldn’t write down his 3 good things, though, no matter how much I nagged him – and I nagged him plenty, after reading the research about the connection between optimism and health. Instead, we did the exercise verbally

At the end of our day, we each talked about the 3 good things that happened that day. I haven’t had Bob’s blood tested for a “feistier response to threat,” but the fact that he’s recovering from two strokes and prostate cancer is undeniable. His mobility is improving. His speech is clearer. His cancer is in remission. He no longer has high blood pressure. He looks and acts healthier. His doctors are floored.

Grab someone.  Together, start talking about 3 good things at the end of every day. If you don’t have someone, join a new Facebook group I started called “3 Good Things” and do it with Bob and me.

Either way, start noting 3 good things a day. You’ll shift into better health, and won’t need a blood test to prove that it’s happening.

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Cool new techniques based on my columns can be found at www.neuroscience4us.com

Published in the Black Mountain News, April 9, 2014

 

Shift right out of negativity

Those negative tapes that play over and over in our heads – where do they come from?

The truth is something we don’t like to admit, but that we must admit.

Those tapes come from the negative stuff dumped on us from others: the put downs, the judgments, the inconsiderate remarks. It’s as if we’re banging into each other on this planet without a thought to the impact we’re having.

Why can’t we simply erase the tapes?

A discovery from neuroscience provides one answer.

It takes 3 positive comments to override 1 negative comment. Who does that? Who cleans up the negative stuff they churn out?

The answer is something we haven’t considered.

It takes a special kind of positive comment to override a negative comment. It takes a positive comment that is linked to the negative comment.

Why?

Because everything about life on Earth is linked – including positive and negative emotion.

Not realizing this, we try to get rid of negative thoughts by rejecting them, never quite getting the job done.

It’s easier to reverse negative thoughts than to reject them.

Is there a way to do this?

Yes, with a new technique called word sequencing.

I discovered this technique almost two decades ago, but didn’t realize its worth until recently when research in neuroscience began to be published. To my surprise, the techniques used in this research were eerily similar to the ones I had been writing about for decades.

Except for one technique: word sequencing. This technique went beyond the techniques used in the research.

And it was all mine – no one else had thought of it.

Word sequencing makes use of the fact that everything on Earth is linked, including positive and negative emotion, to create new, positive feelings out of negative ones.

What happens when you’re not appreciated? Someone at work dismisses your contributions. A family member takes you for granted. You cringe, and your emotions shut down.

Word sequencing turns on those shut-down emotions and brings to life something new: the opposite of what you experienced.

In this case, appreciation arises out of depreciation.

With word sequencing, it’s as if a bell rings inside of us that can’t be rung any other way.

For the last few months, I’ve been working on a web site about discoveries in neuroscience, including my word sequencing technique. On this site, you can experience the power of this new technique in video form. Go to www.neuroscience4us.com.

You will shift right out of negativity.

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Cool new techniques based on my columns can be found at www.neuroscience4us.com

Published in the Black Mountain News, April 2, 2014

 

Shift into miracles

The word miracle has become a slang term for anything out of the ordinary. Its real definition is so much more significant. A miracle is the way we realize we belong to a source that knows the deepest wishes in our hearts and is working to bring them about.

Merriam-Webster has it nailed. It defines a miracle as “an extraordinary event manifesting divine intervention in human affairs.” This is the real definition of a miracle – I know, because I experienced one two weeks ago.

My husband Bob has been praying for his daughter to be returned to him. They have not been in each other’s lives for years. Little girls are precious to fathers. I often heard him whisper her name at night.

As his health became threatened with two strokes and prostate cancer, Bob’s need to be reunited with his daughter grew — and not because of a warped need to put things right before he died. Bob became more and more aware of the power of love as he began to heal himself. He felt love from his doctors, from his therapists, from me. It dawned on him that he was more loved than he realized. He wanted to know if love could also bring his daughter back to him.

Two weeks ago, in the middle of the first sunny Sunday morning we’ve had in a while, our dog began to furiously bark – more furiously than usual. Something was up.

Bob’s daughter was on our front porch. “Can I see my dad?” she asked.

It was a tearful, joyful reunion, but that’s not what made it a miracle. The miracle came to light when she told us the story of how she came to be on our front porch.

She was in our neck of the woods to house hunt. She and her fiancé had decided to move to Black Mountain. Living in the mountains had been a dream of hers. They visited all the beautiful mountain towns in western North Carolina. Black Mountain was the best, they decided.

Here comes the miracle: She didn’t know her dad lived here. She found out when she found my columns in this newspaper.

What creates miracles?

Love.

Love is the one thing between Bob and his daughter that was unaltered by time, by misunderstanding, by absence, by abandonment.

Love cannot be destroyed; it stands the test of time; it is ours to keep. Love is our source and our core.

Can we shift into miracles? Can we do something on our end to receive more of these earth-shattering, utterly convincing events? The answer is yes.

We merely have to love.

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Cool new techniques based on my columns can be found at www.neuroscience4us.com

Published in the Black Mountain News, March 26, 2014

 

Shift into unbelievable joy

We’re in our prime now in our 60’s and 70’s – experts are right about that. John McCain was 72 years old when he ran for president in 2008. Hillary Clinton will be 68 years old if she runs for president in 2016.

What experts don’t tell us is what causes us to get to prime.

It’s having a purpose and fulfilling it.

I know because I’m living it.

Recently, I saw a pattern in my writing that revealed – to my utter surprise – my true purpose in life.

It happened when my columns on neuroscience became popular on Medium.com, a new web site for writers by the creators of Twitter. Manuscripts are submitted to collections. One collection is named “Life Hacks,” a name that struck a chord in me. According to Wikipedia, life hacking is “anything that solves an everyday problem in a clever or non-obvious way.”

That’s me! My writing finally had a brand. Not being able to tell editors what I write about had held me back for years. Now, that obstacle was – poof – gone.

A second realization came when I tried to describe a technique I discovered years ago called word sequencing. Word sequencing uses a simple dictionary to bring wishes to the forefront of our minds and hearts so they can become real. I introduced it as a prayer technique

How does a prayer technique sync with neuroscience?

I saw the connection as I wrote my neuroscience columns. my discovery of word sequencing is a way to turn on neuro pathways that have been turned off by depreciation and discouragement from others.

All of the put-downs I had endured over the years – there were a lot of them, particularly from my own family – suddenly made sense to me.

I had discovered a tool to erase those awful messages that tell us we can’t do it, that we’re not good enough, that we shouldn’t go for it.

An invisible hand had been guiding me for years. I had followed its guidance, not knowing where it was taking me – and it had turned out to be right.

I shifted into an unbelievable amount of joy – the unbelievable joy of having a purpose and fulfilling it.

Shift into unbelievable joy with me. Don’t believe the naysayers. They’ll turn out to be wrong. Follow your heart. It’s where the hand that guides you resides. That hand will not let you down. Eventually, you will see where it has led you. The result will be unbelievable joy.

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Cool new techniques based on my columns can be found at www.neuroscience4us.com

 Published in the Black Mountain News, March 19, 2014

 

Shift into true love

In the beginning, there’s always the hope that love found is true love. As life intrudes, love sometimes feels lost – and then, doubts about whether the love was “true love” emerge.

What if there’s an overlooked element that accounts for those doubts, an element that can be recovered? Would we be able to experience true love after we think we’ve lost it?

Evidence to support this idea can be found in research being conducted in the new field of neuroscience. Matthew Lieberman, Ph.D., a psychologist at UCLA, has discovered that our brains have a default mode. We are, literally, hardwired for connection.

What makes us lose that connection?

Let’s take a look at how we become connected in the first place. We share our hopes and dreams, our needs and wants. We do it freely and joyfully, almost giddily. We’re on the same page. We “get” each other. We are connected.

Over time, other people and other responsibilities intrude. They, too, need us. Connections become blurred.

There’s an obvious answer to this – so obvious, it’s taken for granted and missed.

Go back to freely and joyfully sharing hopes and dreams, needs and wants.

But this time, do it in a new way — with heart-to-heart communication.

Heart-to-heart communication is what happens before words are spoken.

Think back to what you did before true love appeared. You dared to share what you needed and wanted through your prayers, wishes and dreams – with your heart, because your true love wasn’t here yet.

Go back to that. Figure out what you need and want before you speak.

Here’s how. Draw a line down the middle of a sheet of paper. On the left-hand side, write down everything you’re not getting from a relationship. Don’t dash to your loved one’s side with your complaints! Stick with communicating from your heart.

On the right-hand side, write down what you want “instead.” You’ll notice how easily your thoughts flow from the left-hand side to the right-hand side. That’s your brain’s default mode kicking in. Your negative feelings are looking for their positive counterparts – to connect.

Finished? Don’t share what’s on the right-hand side with your loved one. Stick with heart-to-heart communication. Notice how much of what you need and want is transmitted heart-to-heart – without one word being spoken. Borrow another technique from neuroscience to do it.

Start writing down 3 good things that happen between you and your loved one each day. Your hopes and dreams, your needs and wants, the things most dear to your heart – these things, not the complaints, will take over and define your relationship.

As you shift into true love.

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Cool new techniques based on my columns can be found at www.neuroscience4us.com

Published in the Black Mountain News, March 12, 2014

 

Shift into feeling blessed

It’s tough to feel blessed when something rotten happens – but it’s the rotten stuff that triggers blessings.

When my husband Bob had his first stroke four years ago, I was told to shelve my dreams. “You won’t have time for them.”

Without dreams, we’re dead in the water – so I threw out that advice.

A month after the stroke, I was in our local newspaper editor’s office pitching a column on politics. It ran through the 2012 election, garnered a slew of letters to the editor, and was picked up by a top political web site.

Writing that column gave me something for “me” – the thing every caregiver needs but doesn’t usually get – and my writing career flourished.

Adversity is not the time to give up on dreams. Adversity is the time to go after dreams. Blessings follow.

Two more rotten times hit. Bob was diagnosed with prostate cancer and he had a second stroke. Each time, I went for my dreams.

I pitched a second column idea, this one on discoveries in neuroscience. A homeless man stopped my editor in town to tell her that my columns had helped him – “a lot.” This is the kind of encouragement writers would scale a tall tree to get, barefoot.

Next I created a confidence ecourse. The neuroscience discoveries I wrote about in my column were having a big effect on my husband. He began to actually heal from his health disasters. The techniques I wrote about in my column were doing their job. Our town’s most respected integrative clinic agreed to sponsor the course.

I was on a roll – so I decided to go big.

Teens. Who needs confidence more than they do? Teens are bombarded with put-downs and rejection, sometimes daily. The course had to be free for teens to take it, so I made it free. In a flash of inspiration, I created a donation system to support it. I asked people to “give confidence” to someone who needs it. It’s a “pass love around” kind of idea.

What happened next is something so very special, it ranks up there with my husband’s recovery. A few mothers and fathers donated and enrolled their teens. It’s just a few so far; I’m hoping for more.

None of this would have happened without blessings – and the blessings wouldn’t have arrived if I had followed that oh-so-wrong advice to give up on my dreams.

What greater blessing is there than finding out you’ve truly helped someone?

Go for your dreams. Do it now – especially if you’re going through a tough time. You’ll shift into feeling blessed.

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Cool new techniques based on my columns can be found at www.neuroscience4us.com

Published in the Black Mountain News, February 26, 2014

 

Shift into serendipity

What is it about serendipity that we all want? Think about the definition of serendipity for a moment. Your desire for it will be triggered. Serendipity is something “highly beneficial not sought after.”

Serendipity is not the same thing as a surprise. A student in my Confidence eclass pointed this out to me – and she was dead-on.

A surprise, she said, is connected to something familiar. Someone you know brings you flowers. That’s a delightful occurrence, but it’s happened before.

A serendipitous event is a completely fresh experience. It’s something unexpected, something “more” – something more than anything hoped for, something that lets us know we are connected to “more” than ourselves.

It’s a deep and sudden realization that we are loved. In that moment we abandon all of our fears, all of our doubts and all of our accumulated past hurts. Everything is suddenly okay.

Serendipity is so much more than a surprise.

How can we have “more” of it?

Another lesson from my Confidence eclass provides an unexpected clue.

In my Confidence eclass, I make use of research in neuroscience that shows we can start noticing good things that happen to us, rather than all the crap, by writing down “3 good things” a day for 21 days. With this one, simple technique, participants in research studies exhibited less depression, more hope and greater success – even months later. Researchers concluded that new neuro pathways coded to notice positivity were being created.

The news from these studies isn’t all that surprising. Good news is present in everyone’s life. A key reason why some people don’t think so is because they’re not noticing it. Writing down “3 good things” a day takes care of that – and, to boot, creates new brain code.

Can we write new brain code to help us notice serendipity?

Why not?

For the next 21 days, let’s write down “3 serendipitous things” that happen to us each day.

Wait – that’s not such a good idea. The very essence of serendipity is that it’s a rare occurrence. If we experience serendipity for 21 days in a row, will it become commonplace, and not be serendipity any longer?

Think about this too: If we experience serendipity for 21 days in a row, will we blow our neuro pathways to bits with more joy than we can possibly handle?

On the other hand, what if serendipity is not a rare occurrence? What if serendipity is happening to us each and every day – and we’re just not noticing it?

Let’s do this. Let’s note it for only 3 days. That way, if our little experiment turns out to be true, we can allow ourselves time to get used to living serendipitous lives.

Who knows? We might get a few serendipitous surprises that make living a life filled with serendipity comfortable – and, thus, so very possible.

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Cool new techniques based on my columns can be found at www.neuroscience4us.com

 Published in the Black Mountain News, February 19, 2014

 

Shift into ecstatic relationships

What is an ecstatic relationship?

Here’s what it’s not. It’s not boring; it’s not stressful; it doesn’t need psychiatric labels to describe it.

It’s also not the scene of two people at a restaurant staring at the walls because they don’t have anything to say to each other.

An ecstatic relationship is defined by, well, its definition. The word ecstatic is, according to the Oxford dictionary, “feeling or expressing overwhelming happiness or joyful excitement.”

Why aren’t all of our relationships like this?

The answer may surprise you – but there’s research in neuroscience to back up what I’m about to tell you.

Relationships usually start out with some ecstatic feelings, but become less and less ecstatic when people say fewer and fewer nice things to each other.

A leading researcher in the new field of neuroscience found the fly in the ointment that’s causing this to happen. He studied low performance in teams, and discovered that low performance is being caused by negative comments. We all know this is true. We live it every time a boss or coworker dings us.

What about the effects of positive comments? We know those help us do a better job, but this researcher found out how many positive comments does the trick. It takes 3 positive comments to overcome the effects of 1 negative one.

Who cleans up 1 negative comment with 3 positive ones? We may get an apology after someone goes off on us, but that’s pretty much it.

Try out this new research: Routinely make 3 positive comments for a few days to the people you relate to. Tell them what you like or admire about them. “Hey, that man-to-man talk you had with your son was awesome.” “I can always count on you to understand what I’m saying; you know how to really listen.”

You won’t have any more “low performance” relationships.

But, there’s a difference between not having low performance relationships and having ecstatic relationships. Functional is hardly anyone’s idea of ecstasy.

What gives us ecstatic relationships? Remember our definition. It has to be full of “overwhelming happiness” or “joyful excitement.”

Here’s what will add ecstasy to your relationships. Turn your 3 positive comments into “here’s what you did for me that I appreciate” comments. “Hey, Babe, those scrambled eggs you made for dinner were just right for me. After the tough day I had, I wanted some comfort food without a lot of calories.

Why do we do things for others? It’s not to receive appreciation per se. It’s to make other people happy. Finding out that we did shifts us into “overwhelming happiness.” That is ecstasy.

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Cool new techniques based on my columns can be found at www.neuroscience4us.com

Published in the Black Mountain News, February 12, 2014