Week 3 – Complain or Compliment?

“You have found that the Individual may act on the Universal, and that the result of this action and interaction is cause and effect. Thought, therefore, is the cause, and the experiences with which you meet in life are the effect. Eliminate, therefore, any possible tendency to complain of conditions as they have been, or as they are, because it rests with you to change them and make them what you would like them to be.”

I LOVE week 3! The first few lines are my second-favorite Haanel quote EVER.

The tendency to complain is a very human thing. We complain about work, about our families, about the lines at the grocery store/department store/car wash/DMV, and everyone around us understand the complaint and is willing to complain in turn. We connect through our complaints, and can share a moment of unity in a world that seems to be sliding more and more into division.  That’s especially true on social media. People share their gripes; other people respond with either sympathy, or a similar plaint.

But.

What are we really bonding over? Think about those social media posts. Once people start chiming in with their own gripes, you now have a conversation of people, all talking about something that ‘makes’ them angry and upset. Each person’s response then reinforces the complaints of the others. They feel validated, but instead of calming down or letting the irritation go, they get even more grouchy as a result. And what do you suppose then happens to the folks who are merely reading the thread, hm? I don’t know about you, but when I read those threads, I get upset too. Maybe what they’re complaining about isn’t the specific thing about the situation – whatever it is – that I find upsetting, but if I’m not paying attention then my emotional state still shifts just reading the vitriol.

How does it help to connect with other people over negativity? (And how many of us excuse ourselves, once we notice the complain-fest – i.e., pity party – and its results, by saying, “Well, everyone does it.”)   And how do you suppose that affects your subconscious mind?  Your internal blueprint?

Complaining is contagious, to ourselves as well as to others. And then we trap ourselves into a circle, feeding on our own anger and that of the people we’re talking to, as we each complain in turn, and eventually we believe that the world is a sewer and it’s never going to get any better.

What kind of effects do you suppose those thoughts will cause?

Jerry’s gotten into a habit recently of complaining every time he opens his mouth to say anything. There might be a sentence or two mixed in where he’s asking a question or actually saying something that isn’t negative, but most of it is a complaint. He’s tired, he’s in pain, the people at work don’t know anything and if they’d just listen to him then they could improve everything, he shouldn’t have to work at all… and so on and so on and so on.

I don’t like it. I work second shift, he works first. So most days the only time we have are the ten minutes of my half-hour lunch I set aside to call and talk to him. I don’t want to spend that entire time listing to a rambling litany of complaint, for several reasons.

But what to do? It falls upon me to change those conditions, not whine about them. And yet, I can’t simply dictate to Jerry that if he can’t say anything nice just don’t say anything at all. (Okay, yes, I could. But that would cause effects that I probably wouldn’t want; a henpecked husband, a resentful husband, a husband who would feel negatively judged and then not talk to me because he’d feel like he couldn’t say anything right. He’s got a mind and will of his own, you know.)

So what in my own behavior will encourage him to respond with fewer complaints and more positivity?

Well, when I’m on the phone with him at break, I don’t gripe. I talk about the things that have gone right, or relate the funny instances with coworkers that happen almost every day.  As soon as he complains about something, I ask a question like, “So what was the best part of your day?” or “What made you smile at work today?” or “So did anyone do anything kind for you today? Did you do something kind for someone else?” And I’ve collected some of my favorite memes from social media to print out and hang around the house – positive things, you know.

Don’t snort. They exist.

I haven’t been doing it for long. But I’ve already noticed a slight change in how he talks. And of course I’m happier, too. Because positivity is also contagious!

Week #17 – As above, so below; as within, so without

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Wow – is it Thursday again already?  Yep, must be – it’s written on my schedule to write and post a blog today.

You know, honestly, I follow along with the MKMMA, I do my best to meet all the requirements, and yet I find I am learning more about myself, what I’m meant to do, how to arrange my life so that I am happy, through my sunrise project on Barn Bluff than I am through the MKMMA exercises and webinars – making the walk, taking the pictures, writing my photography blog.  I suppose it’s partly because there’s lots of time for introspection and contemplation of the world within while walking the trail.  But it’s also that I’m out here doing something that I enjoy.  If you’ve gotten all this way into the MKMMA course, you should already be doing things that support your deepest desires – the DMP, the index card with the Plan of Action and all, should take care of that.

But if you’re not – if you’re still wrestling with who am I really, and what am I meant to do? – then do yourself a favor.  First of all, STOP OBSESSING.  Mental effort defeats itself, remember?  Just… get out of your own head.  Commit to a daily series, whether it be writing a poem a day, or taking a set of pictures, or sketching, or painting, whatever you like to do.  Find the time, find the attention to spare for it.  You’ll discover that the very act of commitment, followed by the activity every day, will accelerate the process of change.

_MG_5284And along the way, you’ll inevitably find yourself answering the questions of who you are, what you want, where your life’s purpose lies.  Because meeting the demands of that daily series is very like another type of meditation; you’re focused; you’re present; you’ve opened the door to that secret, creative part of your mind and heart and you’re listening to what it says.  It’s… like studying the reflections in the water in order to understand what they’re an image of.

And I’ve discovered that in making the walk up to the top of Barn Bluff, in taking pictures of the sunrise and being aware of what’s around me, the Master Keys and Og and the exercises all make so much more sense.  I can apply the principles to my actions, my thoughts, my plans.  It’s a connection that I just don’t feel in the Alliances or during the webinars.  I read, I listen, I understand… but I don’t feel.  And I see blog posts and shares in the Alliances, people who are manifesting exactly what they’ve always wanted, which feeds belief and enthusiasm, which accelerates the change, which in turn fuels greater belief and enthusiasm, and those folk are radiating gratitude and appreciation of Mark, Davene, and the guides… and sometimes I wonder what’s wrong with me, that I continue to view the people and the process with the eyes of an outsider, an observer, a non-participant.

On the other hand, maybe some of that is how it’s supposed to work.  We start out dependent, feeling our way into the power of the world within through the help of Mark, Davene and the guides, taking uncertain steps into the darkness until we find our light – following the gurus, however little they want to be thought of as such!  But then, because we’ve been openly and yet subtly retaught how to think for ourselves, we graduate to forging our own meanings, our own interpretations:  Haanel, Og, Campbell, Wooden, Allen, Hill, as their wise words apply to us, specifically, instead of a more sweeping, generalized, one-size-fits-all outlook.

The principles remain; solid, unchanging.  But the details of the application become more personalized, tailored to our own uniqueness.

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Week #2 – Old self, new self

“Our difficulties are largely due to confused ideas and ignorance of our true interests.” – Charles Haanel, MK-2 Introduction

Some weeks I can hardly type fast enough to keep up with my thoughts.  Other weeks, I wonder what in heck I’m supposed to write about.  My mind is blank, no ideas occur, nothing worthy of recording strikes like a bolt from the blue.

That was this week.  I did my reads – not completely faithfully, I admit.  I worked on my sits – and keeping my mind blank for more than a second or so is hard, hard work.  All the while I searched.  What tidbit could I offer this week?  What part of my experience might be viewed as useful?  What significant insight would be mine?

Nothing occured.  And then I saw this image on Facebook.  Claptrap

My first thought was What absolute self-pitying garbage!  I checked the comments, just to see.  Some comments tracked with what I was thinking.  And some of these folks I seriously wanted to Gibbs-slap and shout at them to get over themselves.  That the only thing making them into ‘that friend’ was themselves, their decisions.  That they were choosing a victim mentality (voluntarily, yet!) and if they truly wanted to see the author of 99% of their problems they had only to look in the mirror.  And by believing themselves to be ‘that friend,’ they hide their own light, their own unique talent, from the world… and the world is poorer as a result.

But from the point of view of ‘that friend,’ everything I said is just words.  They won’t accept a scold, they don’t give real credence to the idea of personal responsibility – everything is always someone else’s fault.  Their parents, their siblings, their friends, their enemies.  Their medical issues, their weight, their financial circumstances, their economic background.  Their childhood.  And never once do they look inside themselves for answers, check their tone of voice when they talk to people, ask themselves about their own behavior and what they might be doing that leads to other people treating them like ‘that friend,’ or even why they don’t search out better friends.  And I know.

Self-pity and choiceBecause ‘that friend’ used to be me.  I had one person willing to call themselves my friend in the latter years of high school.  I was never invited to dances or parties, even if I wanted to go.  I was always on the outside of conversations, events, groups, just hovering and hoping to be noticed.  And for years I took the way my peers treated me as license to feel sorry for myself, to tell myself stories inside my head about what the people that hurt me were thinking, feeling, believing… which in turn justified my personal pity party and growing resentment of them.

What people forget – what they might not even know – is that feeling like that, thinking in that fashion, is both choice and habit.  It’s habit in the sense that we react the way we’ve always reacted, because we’ve conditioned ourselves to react that way.  It’s choice in the sense that we don’t have to react in that knee-jerk fashion.  We created the habits over time with the way we chose to feel, what we chose to think… and most of all with the stories we told ourselves inside our heads about the reasons we were being treated like ‘that friend,’ stories that might not even resemble reality.  And we can choose to change our habits of thought and reaction the same way we developed the first ones.

Because that is our great power.  We decide what to think.  We decide what we feel about a conversation, an encounter, an incident.  We choose the story we tell ourselves, in the darkness behind our eyes.  We can say, “oh, wow, I just got interrupted again – I guess they’re really excited about what they’re saying and they don’t realize I’m just as excited about my thoughts.”  And then we can choose to repeat what we were saying, or just let it go.  We can tell ourselves either, “they must really think I’m worthless, they always keep going when I ask them to wait for me,” or we can ask them, “hey, didn’t you hear me? I asked you guys to hold up a second.”  We can ask ourselves, “why is it so important to me that I don’t feel left out by these people?  Am I really being left out, or have I behaved in such a way that people think I’m not interested in this sort of outing?  If I am being deliberately left out… then why am I so desperate to be hanging out with these particular people that I would put up with this?”  Suddenly the same event ends up with a whole different connotation, simply because of the filter we choose to look at the world through.

Even people who are ‘that friend’ don’t have to be ‘that friend…’ unless secretly, deep down, they choose to wear those particular chains, addicted to feeling sorry for themselves.

Because it all comes down to choice, confused ideas, and ignorance of true interests.  Define who you are.  Define what you want.  And then wake up and employ the slumbering guardian of your subconscious mind so that the only thoughts about your friendships, your goals, your life, are the ones you want inside your head.

I didn’t have to be ‘that friend.’  You don’t, either.

Week #1 – Answering the Important Question

Pathway into the fog

And so, here we are – full circle to where I started.

Well, sort of.  Growth actually occurs more in a spiral rather than a circle, so long as we’re learning.  We come back around, but not to the exact same point, because with the addition of experiences, we are no longer the exact same person.

But I am facing the exact same question.

What do I want?

Last year, on my first trip through the MKMMA, I never answered this question; not fully, not truthfully.  The DMP and getting it in on time was an assignment, something I had to do in order to maintain my scholarship, whether it was right or not, true or not, complete or not.  I wrote down what I thought I should want, based on the person I had been about fifteen or twenty years ago and what that person had wanted for her life.  I thought, if I could just force myself to become that person again, my life would be back on track and I would be happy and successful.

It flopped.  Big time.  And for obvious reasons; there’s too much time, too much experience, too many life- and mind-altering events between the person I was and the person I am now for me to ever be her again.

So what do I want?

I’m reminded of two scenes, one from the movie Field of Dreams, the other from the TV series Bablyon 5.

In Field of Dreams, Ray (Kevin Costner) and Terence Mann (James Earl Jones) are at the ball park and after kidnapping Terence Mann to take him to a ball game, Ray asks what he wants, and Terence says, “I want them to stop looking to me for answers, begging me to speak again, write again, be a leader. I want them to start thinking for themselves. I want my privacy.”  And Ray says, “No, I mean what do you want?” and motions to the concession stand.  An honest answer, to a question that wasn’t asked, but it becomes clear through the course of the movie that it isn’t true – writing and speaking are what Terence does, it’s who he is.

Then there’s Bablyon 5, where the question that was asked is answered, but in a moment of frustration, anger, and pain.  An undead agent of The Shadows, Mr. Morden, goes around to all the ambassadors and asks them the same question – “What do you want?”  The only ambassador to give him an answer was Londo Mollari of the Centauri:  “Do you really want to know what I want? Do you really want to know the truth? I want my people to reclaim their rightful place in the galaxy. I want to see the Centauri stretch forth their hand again and command the stars. I want a rebirth of glory, a renaissance of power! I want to stop running through my life like a man late for an appointment, afraid to look back or look forward. I want us to be what we used to be! I want… I want it all back the way it was. Does that answer your question?”  Londo’s answer has unintended and far-reaching consequences, for him and for the people his decisions affect, and once he has what he said he wanted, he discovers he’d really wanted something a little different… too late to prevent or correct the damage he’d done by pursuing the wrong answer.

What do I want?

It’s a question that requires soul-deep honesty.

What do I want?

It’s a question that’s dangerous to answer if you get it wrong, and equally dangerous to a person’s soul-born purpose not to answer if you get it right.

What do I want?

It’s a question that shouldn’t be answered in the throes of emotion, and yet must tie in to strong desire, or it’ll never happen.

What.  Do.  I.  Want?

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