October 22, 2008

Is This Guy Enlightened or What?

I just read this wonderful interview at the BoingBoing website with "Dr. Housing Bubble," a SoCal real estate blogger who, while he predicts the economy going even lower, suggests we not panic; what a concept!

Here's the best part:

"Ultimately what most fear right now is instability and I can understand that. Keep yourself healthy (both mentally and physically), spend time with those you care about, and remember that we will come out of this but it is important to figure out how we want our future to look. If we make moves out of fear, our future will reflect action taken in fear. If we make logical decisions and follow courses of action based on clear thinking, we will have a better chance of improving our current situation. It really is up to us and that should make anyone feel empowered."

October 21, 2008

Redefining Success

Do you worry about money, even when you have enough?

Are your personal values reflected in your business and financial values?

Do your relationships and regard for customers, clients, staff, colleagues, competitors and shareholders differ vastly from those with your friends and family?

Do you measure your success in terms of quantifiable attributes, be they wealth, fame, position, or material goods?

Are you aggressively competitive?

In my article, The Success Mess, I discussed the stress inherent in the quest for "success," as well as how to be present to the successes we all of us already enjoy.

Did you know that the first dictionary definition of success doesn't have anything to do with wealth or position? It's "the favorable or prosperous termination of attempts or endeavors." So first of all, it's an end, it's over, you're done. (And, by the way, "prosperous" can mean wealthy, but it can also mean favorable, lucky, or auspicious.

So here's where we get into trouble: when we fail to feel complete and replete with our success. We always want more, more, more...and we're not okay with change (as in, recession and stock market corrections). Success is about termination (we did good!), but we want auspiciousness to last...and to increase. "Now" isn't good enough. What about tomorrow? What about ten years from now? What about retirement? What about legacy?

So think about your definition of success and see if it feels peaceful to you...especially if you are materially successful. Why do you pursue more? Are you afraid of the future? Do you feel lack in other areas of your life?

Consider this quote:

"Corporate success is no longer compromised by humility, surrender, and forgiveness. In today's business arena, success is now contingent on them." --Peter Amato

Why would that be? I posit that the drive to succeed, according to our definition of success, is a misguided search for wholeness. We think that financial security or abundance (meaning, having more than we need, since we always have exactly enough in the moment)--or owning nice things, expensive clothes, a big house, fancy cars, or being a stud with a hot sex partner, or being the most beautiful woman in town, or being revered or famous--will complete us. If we look outside ourselves for completion, we can never be complete.

If success is a favorable termination, can money ever be the end? We spend it, it's taxed, it gets stolen, the stock market does its thing, banks fail, emergencies arise that require more money.

Has power over others ever completed you?

Have you cleaned up your relationships yet, owned your part in conflicts and misunderstandings, made amends? Can any amount of "success" fill the emptiness left by separation from others?

Have you forgiven people for their mistakes? Have you forgiven yourself?

Here's how to redefine success: do The Work. Inquire into the thoughts that cause resentment and fear towards parent, sibling, child, partner, friend, pet, government, religion, sex, health, looks, career, public image and of course, money.

The success we are looking for is the end of suffering. It's what we want money, power, other people and things to give to us, and those "successes" can only be temporary and may not always be within our reach. Peace, however, is always available...and that's the favorable termination, the last story.

©2008 by Carol L. Skolnick; all rights reserved.

October 20, 2008

Quell Your Economic Fears with Inquiry

"I don’t ever need more money than I have, and I invite you to realize the same truth in your life. When you understand this, you begin to realize that you already have all the security you wanted money to give you in the first place. It’s a lot easier to make money from this position." —Byron Katie

This quote comes from the current Byron Katie newsletter, available here. To subscribe to this infrequent but very juicy newsletter at no cost, visit TheWork.com

October 13, 2008

The Ultimate Turnaround

"And when you stop and think about it,
You won't believe it's true...
That all the love you've been giving,
Has all been meant for you."

—Justin Hayward, from "Question", Moody Blues, 1970

How to Deal with the Current Crisis

No...I'm not going to suggest you to do The Work...yet. We have some triage to do first.

First, I suggest you honor your feelings; hurt, anger, disappointment, fear...let them have their life. I don't mean attaching to gloom, doom, and blame; I mean simply being honest with where you are right now. Spiritual bypass, especially the kind born out of fearing or disdaining "negativity," never works for long. You can't have a clear head if you try to stuff your genuine feelings down. When the emotions subside, either through expression or, with the more tenacious ones, The Work, you'll be better equipped to figure out a sane response so that you can take care of your own needs and those of your family, and be of service in the world as well.

Second, a little perspective is good. The American economy changes; it always has. In my lifetime of 50 years, I've seen several downturns, and things always bounce back...perhaps never to the dizzying heights of the late 1980s when we were all getting 16% returns on our CDs—that was an anomaly—but certainly to more-or-less normal. We can't know how long the downturn is going to last, or what's going to happen next, but we can know this: "This, too, shall pass."

Another perspective: if the U.S. economy fails, everyone fails. Do you think the rest of the world, so heavily attached to and invested in the U.S. economy, is going to let that happen? I mean, how much do we owe China now?

Third: Don't forget to laugh; laughter is healing. See below.

Finally, please try to stop scaring yourself. All kinds of things could happen, that's true...and that doesn't mean they will happen. Even if they do—the economy totally collapses, our money becomes worthless, there are no jobs, etc.—well, that puts us all in the same boat, those on Welfare and those with billions. Worthless money won't buy happiness now, or guarantees of safety in the future. We'll have to find another way. That may be what stock market "corrections" are for.

©2008 by Carol L. Skolnick; all rights reserved.

October 6, 2008

Desiring the McDreamy

It's gorgeous, important, enticing, sexy, powerful, soul-satisfying, everything you ever wanted...and it's not yours.

I call it "The McDreamy."

Fans of the TV show Grey's Anatomy know what I'm talking about. For the rest, Patrick Dempsey's character on the show, the heartbreaker Dr. Derek Shepherd, a.k.a. Dr. McDreamy, has come to mean, in the popular lexicon, a devilishly handsome man that women want and can't have. In this case, the McDreamy is a married man who still loves the wife from whom he is separated. As wonderful as he is, he's also self-absorbed and unavailable.

I'm expanding the meaning of McDreamy to encompass whatever we desire that continually eludes us, and we just don't get it--or don't want to get it. It could be the perfect partner (if only s/he weren't already married)...or it might be the perfect house (that we can't afford or that someone else bought first), the perfect car (limited edition, when they're gone, they're gone), the dream job (only one person gets to be the Yankees announcer, and so far, it's not you), the book deal (editors and agents love it but in this economy, they won't take a chance on an unknown like you). It could be that you want the youthful beauty, health and flexibility of a 25-year-old, and you're 50. (Okay, now you've met one of my McDreamies!)

The difference between a McDreamy and something you could actually work towards getting is this: you simply can't have it. Even the most fervent practitioner of The Secret can't get it. It's not yours, and it's not going to happen in this lifetime, ever. You could have something else that is just as good, or even better for you, but no...it won't do at all, and so you get to be miserable and unfulfilled.

What's your McDreamy? Name it: "I'll never be happy without ______." Is that true? Hold your desire up against the Four Questions and Turnaround of The Work. Let your answers arise from the heart.

How do you react when you believe this thought? Look over your life; describe your past as you've strived for the unattainable.

Who would you be without this thought? Describe a happy life without the McDreamy. What does it look like? How would you treat yourself and others differently?

Turn the thought around: "I'll always be happy without _____ ." Is that as true or truer? Give specific examples.

Now, find three reasons why you are better off without that McDreamy.

The McDreamy: do you even want it anymore?

"Reality unfolds without desire, bringing with it more beauty, more luxury, more exquisite surprises than the imagination could ever devise. The mind, as it lives through its desires, demands that the body follow after it. How else can it mirror back original cause? Anger, sadness, or frustration lets us know that we're at war with the way of it. Even when we get what we wanted, we want it to last, and it doesn't, it can't. And because life is projected and mind is so full of confusion, there is no peace. But when you allow life to flow like water, you become that water. And you watch life lived to the ultimate, always giving you more than you need."
--Byron Katie, from A Thousand Names for Joy: Living in Harmony with the Way Things Are

©2008 by Carol L. Skolnick; all rights reserved.