Thursday, February 21, 2008

Accepting Compliments Gracefully

Ever been to a roast? No, not the thing your mom used to make for dinner, but an event where someone is the center of attention but everyone else is talking about them.

I recently was the speaker at an event where I didn't do so good due to my nervousness. So, instead of everyone talking about what I said, they all sat around and gave me compliments. Which left me really uncomfortable.

But then I began to realize something. I have worked really hard to get where I am, and people genuinely appreciate the influence I have had on their lives. So, I stopped shaking my head and burying my face in my hands when people were talking, and thanked them instead.

How often we want to focus on the bad and when someone says something nice about us, our negativity keeps us from accepting it gracefully.

The next time someone says something nice, just say thank you, with sincerity, no matter how uncomfortable it is. You deserve it.

Wednesday, February 20, 2008

Dealing with Anger

I just had an experience a couple of minutes ago that really sent me reeling...

A client of the website I work for requested an article written. I picked up the job, but realized there wasn't enough information to complete his request. I immediately sent him a message requesting more info four days ago, and today got a nasty message back.

I immediately wanted to shoot off a nasty message back in retaliation for the things he said. Instead, because I am mindful of the nasty things that anger can trigger me to do, I did not send a message.

Instead, I contacted the website I said I would like to give up the job due to the way I was treated, and calmly explained the situation using as little emotion as possible. And I started writing this post as a way to calm me down.

You see, anger is destructive. It's like pouring battery acid on my spirit. And I don't want to live that way today. The next time you become angry, try stopping instead of reacting, no matter what you want to do. Acting on your anger only fans the flames of negativity instead of putting them out.

Once you stop, take time to acknowledge the anger and look at the roots of it. Find out why you are angry, but instead of stuffing it down, embrace it. This is the first step in transforming your negative emotions.

Thich Nhat Hanh explains anger using the analogy of a knot. You must use mindfulness to untie the knot before it becomes tighter, or it will mess up your insides. If you have too many knots, you cannot allow maitri to flow freely through you.

Sunday, February 17, 2008

maha maitri around the world

One of the coolest things about the internet is it's worldwide reach. While most of the traffic to this site comes from the United States, I have seen hits from as far away as India, Switzerland, Germany and even Japan come walking through.

It's so easy to get caught up in our own little worlds, and the internet makes it so easy to realize that we are **NOT** the center of the universe (though I like to think so).

I've been around, but I wanted to monitor the traffic and make some small tweaks to the site that most of you won't even notice. But it's all about finding readers who identify and maybe find the courage one day to leave a comment or two on the board.

So, as they say in the rooms of twelve-step recovery groups everywhere...


Wednesday, February 06, 2008

Managing Stress

In Buddhism, any form of stress, be it large or small, is called suffering. As an American, when I think of suffering, I think of death or some major trauma. But when I really think about it, even small stresses cause some type of suffering in my life. Even small things, when added together, can cause a major upheaval.

I think about the lawsuit that's pending against me and the added responsibilities at work. Throw a little newlywed syndrome on top, and sprinkle it with a little bit of low finances. And I turn into a stark raving maniac.

Thich Nhat Hanh talks about the realm of our personal lives as "our kingdom." He says that we are our own kings and queens of our kingdom, but sometimes we don't want to go there because there is too much suffering. But we must. The only way we are going to get better is if we do.

For the next couple of days, try unwinding and slowing down. Pick a relaxing ritual for yourself and indulge in it every night. Here are a few options to try. Try experimenting with works best for you.

1. Take a bath.
2. Spend 5 minutes breathing. It might take a couple of weeks for your mind to start to slow down, but you have to start somewhere!

Friday, February 01, 2008

Seeds of Change: Using Mindfulness to Change Bad Habits

Earlier in the month we talked about using your mindfulness to observe bad habits. If you haven't read the previous post already, spend a month observing yourself and write down things you want to change.

Even if you only did this a few days, most likely you have discovered some things about yourself you don't like. It's important not to wallow in shame and guilt; the point of this exercise was goal setting.

Now, go through your notes and pick a few choice things you want to change. You may already subconciously have started adjusting your behavior, but putting it in writing makes it a little more real. These are the things I observed about myself:

1. I waste time smoking when I could be walking at work.
2. I procrastinate on my writing projects and they end up late when
they don't have to be.
3. I overdrew on my bank account once.
4. I still haven't finished my brochure or gotten started on my website.

Notice these things are very specific. This month, we want to focus on good habits of others that we can adapt for ourselves. Ask people that seem like they've got it together how they do things related to what's on your list or anything else you observed you want to change.

Pick the most important thing that you've gotten good feedback on. Pray every morning for help with this situation. Write down things you can do to improve every night. Don't expect yourself to change instantly or become perfect all at once. Change takes time.

If you find yourself engaging in the same behavior, stop yourself when you're in the middle of it. Apologize if you are speaking to someone. Eventually it will become a working part of you and you will find yourself after a couple of months no longer engaging in whatever it is that's bothering you.

Don't give up! The most important thing is to pick yourself up and start again if you slip. Get support and find other people who are doing the same as you.