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A Resting Revolution

Resting CatSo, as you know, if you’ve been following my writing and coaching, I’m heavily into helping people reclaim their “true nature.” It is what I’ve always done, but with a new sense of purpose and urgency as change begins to make our habitual ways of behaving obsolete and counterproductive. I frequently review a list of “brain rules” created by Dr. John Medina, a developmental molecular biologist who specializes in understanding the brain. Medina’s first brain rule is that we learn best outside. Another is that since every brain is wired differently, we should follow our own impulses rather than adhering to rigid external rules. But I think my favorite brain rule is rule number seven. Four words: “Sleep well, think well.”
 
It seems reasonable to suppose that as humans evolved, tribes or bands of people were safe if not everyone slept at the same time. “Night owls” like me could tend the fires and watch for predators at night. By the time we hit the hay, the tribe’s “morning people” would be alert and standing guard. That’s the only explanation I have for the fact that I—and all my blood relations including my children—simply cannot fall asleep early or bounce out of bed at sunrise feeling like a million bucks. By contrast, my partner Karen apologizes each night at 8:30 when she becomes completely unable to function. “I just need to close my eyes for a minute,” she’ll say, and then drop into a sleep so profound we have literally thrown parties without waking her up. Early morning, Karen turns into the US Army. She moves so fast and gets so much done that my groggy eyes cannot follow the motions. 
 
In the world that is becoming, as our society undergoes rapid change, we must return to our true nature in terms of how we rest and relax as well as in terms of how we work and play. Our “normal” terms of sleeping and waking were created so that factory workers could all show up at the assembly line at the same moment. School started in the pre-dawn hours for adolescents so they could be home to help with chores on the farm during most of the day. (Schools also give summer vacations because the summer months required children to stay on the farm to help during the most active part of the crop cycle.) There is no reason to continue scheduling our activities based on a model from the 19th century. We don’t work effectively when we are on a schedule that isn’t natural for our own individual bodies. Studies have shown that adolescents desperately need to sleep late in the morning and that forcing them to show up in class at pre-dawn hours can cause everything from emotional volatility to traffic accidents. 
 
So forget the Industrial Revolution. Let’s foment the Resting Revolution. If you want a nap right now, the most intelligent thing you can do is take it. If you want to perform well, sleep until your body wakes up on its own. If you have small children and you are severely sleep deprived, know that finding a way—any way—to get sleep is the only way to give children a healthy, cheerful, available parent.
 
I know this is asking a lot. But any way you slice it, today’s world is going to ask for everything you can give. Make your first priority your own well-being if only to serve the greater good. I would say more about this, but I really need a nap.

Distort Your Reality

Welcome to what some are describing as the very last year ever. Not that we’re all going to die, I am told, just that according to the Mayans—or the Aztecs or the people at Burger King or wherever—time will cease to exist this year, and therefore the word “year” will become meaningless. Why the hell not? 
 
So, as long as we’ve still got time, let’s talk about how we can use it. I just finished the longish biography of the shortish life of Steve Jobs. I read it on my kindle for iPhone, which I carry everywhere in my purse, giving me access to hundreds of books anytime I find myself waiting in line or stuck in an airport. It was an odd experience of cognitive dissonance; I’d read about how Jobs refused to bathe, threw tantrums and objects, and stabbed friends in the back, and think, “What a jerk!” Then I would highlight a particularly striking passage, and think, “Oh, my gosh! When I touch the screen a little magnifying glass appears! This is the coolest thing!” And, of course, my iPhone would not exist if Steve Jobs had not done what he did. Computers would still belong mostly to hackers who would sit in their garages designing inelegant machines for other techno-geeks. 
 
One theme in Jobs’ life was what his associates called his “reality distortion field.” Jobs would demand that his engineers create impossible gadgets and designs. There were actually signs posted in the Apple offices saying, “Beware the reality distortion field.” Yet, when they were face-to-face with Jobs, even staring right at such a sign, people tended to forget their own limitations and believe that they could do what Jobs said they could. This begs the question, what was the real reality distortion at work? The fact is that most of the “impossible” things Jobs demanded were actually produced, though their creators had to work feverishly to create them. In other words, the reality all along was that they had this capability. Their conviction that they could not do extraordinary things was actually the distortion of reality. It made me feel much more forgiving of Steve Jobs eccentricities. Can you imagine how frustrating it would be to know something was possible and that your friends could do it, and to have every one of them denying the reality you knew?
 
So as the year begins, I’ve been thinking about my own reality distortion fields. Where is my mind attached to ideas of limitation that are in fact distorted version of reality? What wonderful devices or innovations could I create if I surrendered my preconceptions? I’ve found that within me, as within Steve Jobs, there is a sort of psychological pioneer. It wants to see wonderful things happen in the world and it assumes that my job is to make them happen. I don’t think I’m at Steve Jobs’ level by any means, but that lunatic fringe part of my consciousness behaves a bit like him. When I’m trying to master a new technology on my computer, or find a way to get through to a client who is truly locked in a destructive worldview, or find a way to help rehabilitate Earth’s ecosystems, I reach the emotional level of a two year old. I feel petulant, teary, and seized by a combination of intense desire and stubbornly persistent fear.
 
I suspect we all have this pioneer archetype within us, pushing us to achieve things we know for certain to be “impossible.” We tend to stay away from that portion of our awareness for the same reason many people steered clear of Steve Jobs. (What a jerk! What distortion of reality!) But as I look around me at the change that Jobs created in the world, I have come to believe that I must befriend this delusional whiny pioneer within me. My task is to access that part of myself without the loss of compassion or patience that interfered with Steve Jobs’ personal relationships. Can I go to the furthest limits of my imagination and figure out where my supposed limitations are actually distortions of reality? Can I hang on long enough to the “impossible dream” to see it become real? I’m not sure. But as my resolution of this last of all possible years, I am determined to try.
 
So what about you? Can you find the Steve Jobs aspect of yourself? Can you “distort” your reality by believing against all odds that you can do something spectacular? Try entering your reality distortion field long enough to achieve the impossible. Believe that one human being can transform everything. Work your heart out in the service of your most optimistic imagination and then go one step beyond even the genius of Steve Jobs by continuing to bathe regularly.

The New 95/5 Principle

You’ve probably heard of something called the 80/20 rule. It was authored by the Italian economist Vilfredo Pareto, who found that in his country 20% of the people owned 80% of the wealth. Later on, business managers began using the 80/20 rule (or the Pareto principle) to increase their productivity. At a rough estimate, 20% of the company’s employees created 80% of the company’s useful work. If you apply the 80/20 rule to your life, you’ll find that a similar dynamic exists in almost everything you do:  Twenty percent of your interpersonal activities create 80% of your sense of connection; you wear 20% of your clothing 80% of the time; and 20% of the energy you expend creates 80% of your positive experiences.
 
Pareto wrote up his observations in 1906. Since then, change in our culture has gained enormous amounts of speed and power. The other day, a fellow coach remarked to me that by her estimation, the 80/20 rule has become more like the 95/5 principle. If you choose your activities carefully, just 5% of your time can be used to create 95% of your good experiences.

For example, watching this YouTube video catalyzed 95% of my laughter yesterday. About 5% of what I’ve written in my life generated about 95% of the positive feedback. They say the first five minutes of an interpersonal interaction establishes the emotional tone of a meeting that could last 95 more minutes. 
 
The fact that so little effort can create such great effects these days doesn’t mean that we should just expend less effort. It means that almost all our effort should go to discerning which 5% of all possible activities will have the greatest positive impact. I’ve heard many people claim that in this time of job insecurity, we must all work much harder at anything we do. At a recent conference, an organizer told me I should advise audience members to work frantically at any job they could get, just hoping that something would turn out to be a viable way of supporting themselves. This is the only time I’ve ever thrown away my cue cards in front of the person who wrote them. The “work hard, work very, very hard” philosophy has never been more useless. What I actually recommended at that conference was that audience members spend most of their time learning to relax and to sense a way forward that would create positive outcomes without exhausting them. 

I’m telling you the same thing now. Especially if you are worried about some area of your life. Take some time to get still. Consider the situation without alarm and try something author Penney Pierce calls “feeling into the situation.” Try to sense where the situation “wants” you to act. Zero in on those areas, remaining very relaxed, and see if you can find more clarity about precisely the action that will be most positive and powerful. Remember that a five minute conversation with your spouse, child, or friend can create 95% of your impact on them each day. Remember that one viral video can spread wildly with little effort—if its energy really speaks to viewers. Forget the boring statistics you learned in economics class; the way to reach people at this point in history is to abandon boring models and tune into whatever is visceral, hilarious, authentic, and imbued with the energy of joy.
 
At the moment, I am gathering my energy to promote a book that’s coming out on December 27th. I know from experience that I will feel morally obligated to take advantage of any marketing opportunity, including being interviewed by a home radio enthusiast who works out of his garage, speaks only Latvian, and thinks that I am actually Martha Stewart. Moreover, my publishers will enthusiastically encourage me to do even more. My challenge to you this month is also my challenge to myself. I’m hoping we can quietly “feel into” any opportunity or responsibility we feel pulled to accomplish. If we can feel that a certain effort will have great impact, we should throw ourselves into the task, but we must also remember that 95% of a random effort is generally wasted and that letting go of our anxiety-based overwork is the only way to be sure of identifying those key opportunities.
 
I like to imagine a world where 95% of the people spend 95% of their energy choosing the top 5% of activities available to them. But if the 95/5 principle works, we don’t need such a huge psychological revolution. If just 5% of the people begin maximizing their positive influence this way, we can create 95% of the change we wish to see in the world. Start with your own life, as always, and see whether focusing 95% of your energy on 5% of your options doesn’t make your whole existence happier, easier, and more abundant. Watch your enhanced energy lifting and calming everyone and everything you do. Then spend 5% of your Internet time letting us know how it went.

Video Sneak Peek of the New Book!

 

Here’s a sneak peek of the stuff I’ll be discussing in my new book:  what’s YOUR “call of the wild”?
 

Finding Your Way in a Wild New World: Reclaim Your True Nature to Create the Life You Want will be released December 27, 2011. Reserve your copy on Amazon.com now. 

How to Break Through Old Limitations

As many of you know, my system of coaching consists of several conceptual “tools” that can quickly cut through the chatter of people’s socialization and connect them with their essential self.   Recently, I have modified one of the tools, turning it from a paring knife into a sort of Swiss Army affair with additional flanges. Because this exercise has helped me get through the month, I want to share it with you.

Right now, in your imagination, call up a persistent problem that you have been unable to solve for yourself. Maybe you never get the rewards you feel you deserve, or you can’t get rid of the clutter in your home, or your health just keeps failing you. Maybe you can’t stop kidnapping zoo animals and hiding them in your bathtub. Whatever this problem is, the persistency with which it occurs and your inability to make it go away show that it is hiding in a mental blind spot. You are the common factor in all these situations, and the likelihood that they are happening to you by sheer random bad luck is vanishingly small. I know you don’t know what you are doing to cause this problem, but I’m willing to piss you off by saying that you are doing something.

(By the way, we were all educated in a system where the “right” and “wrong” answers were determined by the system’s definitions. In that sort of environment, you can argue your way from a C- to a B+ by making excuses, pointing out how much stress you are under, or showing the teacher where the test was wrong. Don’t even try that here. If your life isn’t working, you can be sure that there is a cause and effect reality at play. For example, if you tried a thousand times to make fire by bashing two rocks together, it would not be your teacher’s judgment that would show you failure. You could not argue the rocks into creating fire for you or into feeling sorry for all the stress they are putting upon you. Your life gives you solid, empirical evidence that what you are doing does not work.)

Now comes the tricky part: Holding your problem in your mind, relax all your muscles and breathe deeply and without effort. Instead of thinking about your problem, feel the energy of the problematic situation as a sensation that affects your entire body. You may notice strong emotions arising without quite knowing what they mean. Just keep breathing, and if you are tempted to become analytical, repeat in your mind words like “let go,” “relax,” and “be still.” Keep feeling. Somewhere in this welter of emotion, you will connect with a sensation of yearning. Oddly, you may not feel this as your own yearning; rather, it is the problematic situation itself that is yearning to change. Where you may think you want a certain person to love you, truly and romantically, the situation may be yearning for you to stand up for yourself. Where you may believe it is up to you to organize those papers in your office, the situation may be begging you to bring in another person whose filing skills are better than yours. Where you may think you should take charge of your teenagers, the situation may be yearning for you to relax and laugh with your children, to accept them without reservation and to trust them to keep themselves safe.

It may take five or six minutes before you get even a flicker of this sensation. We are so used to working these problems in our minds that letting go to see what wants to happen can at first be a baffling experience. Let the emotional power of your wish for a better life motivate you to persist in this exercise until you can feel what your life is begging for.

You will then be faced with some interesting choices, because the situation will not be yearning for what you already know how to do. It may not even ask you to do something that you think is logical or “right.” Feel free to go back to your old methods of dealing with this issue. The next time it kicks you in your teeth–and it will–this exercise will be waiting for you to reorient your approach. When you take the leap of faith to do what your wilder instincts recommend, you will break through old limitations and find that the problems evaporate.

The Formula for Happiness

IHeart Carvingn my “Zero Attachment, Zero Anxiety” post, I commented on a contradiction between some of my earlier writing and what I have come to see as a constructive approach to creating your best life. The contradiction was about the concept of yearning. In the book The Joy Diet, I wrote that yearning is the internal map of the course your life was meant to follow. I believe I wrote something like, “Your destiny pulls you through life by the heart.” Last month I wrote that intense yearning is a form of attachment that can actually stop the thing you desire from reaching you. In the past month, I’ve realized that each of these ideas is accurate in its own way. Yearning is, indeed, a valuable indication of our best future, but it contains an energy that can push away our dreams even as it tries to pull them towards us.

Here’s the key to understanding how you can use the positive aspects of yearning while avoiding the negative: Recognize that yearning is loving something before you believe in it. The same may be said of jealousy, envy, disappointment and even despair. To love something deeply without believing it can be true is enormously painful.

The problem here is that we often fight our desire rather than our disbelief. Being firmly convinced that what we want could never happen, we fight to extinguish the enjoyment and delight of the experience for which we long. But every great spiritual teacher, from Jesus to Forrest Gump, has tried to explain to the world that love is indestructible. Therefore, the part of the yearning equation we must eliminate is not the love of the unseen thing, but our fear that it can never be ours.

Let’s write this as an equation. Here is what happens when we fight our desire rather than our disbelief:

Love + Disbelief = Yearning

To eliminate the distaste of this yearning, most of us try to solve the equation this way:

Yearning – Love = Happiness

This does not work because, as stated earlier, love cannot be subtracted. It’s the one permanent thing in the universe. In addition, subtracting love from anything makes it more painful, not less.

So this month, try the following equation:

Yearning – Disbelief = Happiness

If you have trouble simply subtracting disbelief, please realize you cannot force belief to exist, so you can’t simply add belief to something you don’t believe. The way to balance the equation is to allow your heart to trust that what it loves is real. If you can do this, trust automatically causes disbelief to relax and disappear. Then your equation looks like this:

Yearning + Trust = Happiness

Right now, make a list of everything you yearn for. Make sure that you realize that your yearning is for the emotional sensation that the experience would bring you rather than the form itself. (For example, you don’t just wish for the perfect lover, but for the sensation of knowing you are deeply loved. The perfect lover without that feeling would do nothing for you.) Make another list of things you feel you deserve, but don’t believe you’ll ever get — things like good luck, a soul mate, a really great haircut. Again, focus on the essence of the experience, not the physical form.

Now try a small thought experiment. Go through this list item by item and allow yourself to trust that the thing you love not only will come, but has already connected with you through the barrier of time. Notice any fear that arises to tell you that the thing for which you yearn will never come to you. Notice the choking, tensing or other form of contraction in your body when you focus on your disbelief. This is the body’s response to a lie. Give yourself a short space of time, say one minute, to take your attention off your disbelief and focus instead on the love of this thing that has not yet happened. Feel the warmth and openness of your life when you believe that your connection with this thing is real, solid, and inevitable. As the poet Rilke said, “You must give birth to your images. They are the future waiting to be born. Fear not the strangeness you feel. The future must enter you long before it happens.”

Psychologists who study rats sometimes hook up the poor little creatures to harnesses that measure their pulling strength. Then they measure how hard the rats run away from an electric shock, or toward a pellet of food. If they put the shock and the food in the same place, the rats run toward it to exactly the point where their fear of the shock is as strong as their lust for the food. At that point, they develop what is called an “approach avoidance” response. They run back and forth, back and forth, toward the food and away from the shock and end up basically stuck in no man’s land.

When we yearn for something and focus on our fear that it may not happen, we create an approach avoidance response in everything our hearts desire. The love makes us magnetic to the outcomes we desire; the fear of loss or failure repels what we are trying to create just before it reaches us.

If we can change the way we solve the yearning equation so that more of our time is spent focusing on love and enjoyment than on our fear of failure or disappointment, the approach avoidance pattern begins to break down.

The future our hearts have already mapped for us gains the energy and momentum to break through the shell of fear and into our material lives. To live without fear or doubt is perhaps too much to ask of a small, frightened, human animal, but to practice the discipline of focusing on love rather than fear is something we can all achieve. Start with the things you want just a little. As trust begins drawing these things into your life, you’ll gain the confidence to escape approach avoidance responses and more impressive results will follow.

Fear not the strangeness you feel. The future has already entered you. It is pulling you through life by your heart.

Zero Attachment, Zero Anxiety

I have put myself on a very strict health regimen this summer. It has nothing to do with eating or exercise; it is a thought/emotion regimen, which, in the end, has many more concrete results than any physical diet one could undertake. My program is the “zero attachment, zero anxiety” diet. Mind you, shooting for no anxiety or attachment at all is extremely ambitious, and not something I would have undertaken five or even two years ago. It was only after twenty-some years of meditation and daily “mental hygiene” (noticing and dissolving all thoughts that cause suffering) that it even occurred to me to shoot for absolute clarity.

So far, I am failing abjectly.

Nevertheless, my goal has helped me see many glaring issues that before seemed so minor as to be inconsequential. The most striking thing I’ve realized is that the thought of “magnetizing,” or drawing things toward me, contains the assumption that what I want is “out there” in the world and I have to go find it. It creates a feeling of distance and inaccessibility. When I release all attachment and all anxiety, I notice that the things I want feel present and inevitable, as real as humidity in summer air.

When the temperature of a day reaches the dew point, the moisture in the air, which is invisible to the eye, suddenly appears everywhere. It was always there; it just needed a certain temperature to become visible. Similarly, everything we need to make us happy is waiting for the “temperature” of our inner life to create the dew point where it can become material form. The dew point temperature of all your desires is a feeling of normalcy. It is not high excitement, nor grasping, nor yearning. All of those emotions contain anxiety and attachment — try them right now, you’ll see.

To give you an example of what this feels like, think about the feeling you have watching a beautiful sunrise. You may experience awe and intense gratitude, but you will not be thunderstruck, amazed or hysterical. A sunrise is glorious, but it is normal. We aren’t attached to the sun continuing to shine because we are sure it will.  If you can feel that way about the arrival of your soul mate or the success of your business, my recent experience convinces me it will appear around you like dew. Everything you want is there right now, waiting to become visible.

The emotions I’ve learned to soften and dissolve during my “no anxiety, no attachment” regimen are things like intense excitement and amazement. Even amazement implies that a good thing was unexpected or incredible, not that it was normal. Try replacing amazement with awe in your own life. Replace yearning with the knowledge that what you need is inevitably yours – that you are actually pushing it away with any grasping or yearning you may feel.

I realize this is exactly the opposite of the advice I wrote down years ago in my book, The Joy Diet. This is why we must always keep up with current research. I take it back and expect that all of you will graciously forgive me for my previous oversight, because I live and work with the most incredible people in the world — which is absolutely and totally normal.

Bright Spots

I’m all blissed out because I just returned from this year’s African STAR (Self-Transformation Adventure Retreat) at the Londolozi Game Reserve.  It’s impossible to describe the joy and enchantment of coaching incredible people at a place devoted to “Restoring Eden.”   

Occasionally, people tell me that they don’t want to go to Africa because it’s a place of such terrible human suffering and poverty.  This always makes me think of Chip and Dan Heath’s book, Switch: How to Change Things When Change is Hard.  In Switch, the Heaths describe how masters of change create miraculously positive results.  

One key is looking for what the authors call “bright spots” in every situation, no matter how difficult. In all the doom and gloom about how the natural world is being destroyed by human activity, Londolozi is a “bright spot” that shows how humans can restore nature even after we’ve destroyed it.  But Africa is full of bright spots.  For every terrible atrocity, there are hundreds of thousands of acts of kindness.  For every corrupt dictator, there are a million gentle, wise, kind Africans.  For every jerk who kills an elephant and puts it on YouTube, there are dozens of conservationists who love the animals and want them to survive.  

Now that I am back from Africa, I want to be even more mindful of bright spots than when I left.  Change experts like the Heaths assure me that this, not doom and gloom prognostications, will help me be part of the positive change I want to see in the world.

Right now, think of something about your life that is troubling you, something you want to change.  It might be a child who is not doing well, a business that is in the red, an underwater mortgage.  For the next five minutes, instead of worrying about this thing, find a bright spot in the situation.  If your child doesn’t have a job, or has landed in solitary once again, at least she’s off the street.  Seriously, think of all the bad things your loved ones might be doing that they have avoided and the positive things, however small, that they may have accomplished:  truly loving a pet, being loyal to their friends, getting your jokes.   

As you start to make the list, you’ll find the bright spots start to pop out more and your negative judgments fade.  I believe that in that very moment, you have begun “feeding” your attention to a situation you want instead of a situation you don’t want.  Attention is a powerful nutrient.  It amplifies and accelerates the situations on which it is focused.  Now think of a second problematic situation.  Find the bright spots there. Make this a practice whenever you feel yourself growing anxious or angry.  Try this for a month.  If you don’t like the results, go back to looking at the dark spots. 

Shortly after I decided to try this practice, I met a hockey player in an airport.  We got to talking and, for some reason, he told me, “When you’re trying to score a goal, never ever look at the goalie.  Look at the spaces around the goalie, no matter how small they might be.  Where your eyes go, the puck goes.”  I got on the plane and sat down beside a kayaker.  As we chatted, he told me, “When you’re in the rapids, never look at the rocks.  Look at the water around the rocks, no matter how small it may seem.  Where your eyes go, the boat goes.”  I remembered my first embarrassing riding lessons with Koelle Simpson, the master horse whisperer.  “Look in the direction you want to go,” she said. “Where your eyes go, the horse goes.” 

OKAY, I GET IT!

Your life follows your attention.  Wherever you look, you end up going.

That’s why I think that as you try the “bright spots” exercise, your life will start heading in happier more productive directions.  Your relationships will be more relaxed and less contentious as you stop criticizing your loved ones and begin enjoying their positive attributes.  Your customers will be drawn to the energy of a business based on optimism.   

The world really is full of dark spots.  Of course, we’re aware of them.  Of course, we want to change them.  But where our attention goes, the world eventually goes.  So our task is to keep the negatives in our peripheral vision while focusing our full attention on joy, kindness, love and peace.  This is the way to “Restore Eden” in our own hearts, minds and lives so that we become the agents of restoration for everything we hope to change.

Riding the Wave ~ Surf’s Up!

Before I even met O Magazine‘s Editor-in-Chief, Susan Casey, I had a hunch she was on the Team.  (If I haven’t explained this to you already, the “Team” is my word for the people whose unspoken mission is to help heal the world.  You would not be reading this if you aren’t on it.)  What other explanation could there be for a women’s magazine editor writing a book on sharks?  (The Devil’s Teeth – fascinating read. Pick it up!)  When I met Susan, ostensibly to discuss my column, all I remember talking about was the personalities of individual sharks and how in the world we may be able to save the oceans.

This winter, Susan wrote another book called The Wave.  It describes the physics of abnormally large “rogue waves,” suggests theories about how they occur, and tells stories of extreme surfers who travel the globe searching for monster waves where they can play.

As I read Susan’s book, I continually felt a tickle of electricity along my spine because I have been sensing a kind of wave rising around all of us for some time now.  It is a wave of transformation, a wave of innovation, a wave of compassion.

A few days ago, for reasons I cannot remember, I ended up watching video footage of the recent tsunami hitting Sendai, Japan.  I don’t generally sit around watching YouTube videos, but I was abnormally fascinated by this one.  I watched it, maybe five times, all the way through.  If you watch this video, please watch it all the way to the end.  The sheer mind numbing scale of the power of that wave must be seen to be believed.  If you’d like, I invite you to take a minute to click here, watch it now, then meet me back here ~ ~ ~

~ ~ ~ Welcome back!  Wow, huh?  There aren’t words to describe this event.

I’m not sure what happened to my computer, but after I had watched the video repeatedly, it somehow switched to a different website.  What I saw here was one of the surfers Susan Casey describes in The Wave.  It’s professional surfer, Mike Parsons, catching a swell that has just the right physics to be a monster.  Please click here and watch this all the way through as well. ~ ~ ~

~ ~ ~ Wow, huh?  I am terrified by any wave over two feet tall, yet this man will remember his experience on the monster wave with joy and awe for the rest of his life.

After alternating between these two videos for most of a day, it suddenly occurred to me why I found them so compelling.  The wave of energy that we’ve all felt – many of us for years – is coming ashore.  It is building height and power, and if you expect to hide out in any concrete structure, you are making a big mistake.  All the rules are changing.  The old institutions and patterns of life that our social selves have been trained to believe in are being uprooted and will soon float away.  This is only a crisis if we cling to them.

The way to be safe – more than safe, joyful and delighted – is to climb on board the smallest, lightest, most nimble platform you can find.  For some of us, that’s an entrepreneurial business.  For others it’s knowing a trade – like horse whispering or life coaching – that will make sense of the wild new world for the people we hope to serve.

I don’t know what your surf board looks like, but I know you own one.  It’s built into your soul, and that is the only place you’ll ever find it.  I invite you to watch these videos again, to feel for the sense of power rising beneath you, to let go of grasping or clinging, and to paddle out for the joyful ride of your life.  Surfs up, people, it’s time!

~ Martha

After publication of this article, a reader commented that this post makes light of a disaster that destroyed life and property at a catastrophic level.  Just to be clear, I want to say that my coaching focus has included things like genocide survivors, homeless addicts, people who are dying, and others in calamitous situations.  I didn’t mean to make light of the tsunami; I meant to make heavy the changes we are seeing all around us.  Last week I met a man who has been through three wars, and has seen people die violently.  “Still,” he said, “there was a serenity that I could access.”  He called this “surfing the mystery.”  I had barely met him and certainly not told him my “surfer” analogy.  It was one of those synchronistic statements that makes me believe even those who face truly monstrous situations can find lightness, balance, and peace.

Cry Freedom!

This month, perhaps through a series of coincidences, or perhaps through something else, I’ve seen dozens of different people being set free in dozens of different ways.  Oh what the hell, I don’t believe for a minute that it’s a coincidence.  Something is changing in the collective Zeitgeist, or the “Spirit of the Times.”  We are moving into a time when transparency, authenticity and openness (what my coaches call “TAO” or Chinese for “The Way”) is critical.  Being transparent, authentic and open is not fool hearty social behavior, but the only safe way to success.   

I am beginning to believe that radical openness is the single characteristic that will differentiate successful people from unsuccessful people as time goes on.  According to Kevin Kelly, a leading theorist in technology and social change, as technology continues to transform our lives, privacy will become a thing of the past.  This is obviously a daunting thought.  The comfortable margins of anonymity and secrecy that have been normal for humans thus far are disappearing.   

 As I coach many people from many walks of life in to what I call “this wild new world,” I find myself reaching one inescapable conclusion over and over:  If you want to live peacefully, joyfully and abundantly in the years to come, you must walk your talk.  Why?  Because everyone will be talking about your walk.  If there is any level of hypocrisy in your life, you are in “danger” of exposure – but this is like the danger of having a wound cleaned or a broken bone set.  As Byron Katie says, “It is not happening to you, it is happening for you.”  So don’t resent or resist people who expect you to behave in a way that is consistent with the values you express.  Instead, wherever there is dissonance between your value system and your actions, change one or the other to make them congruent.  

Let me give you an example:  If you occasionally say negative things behind someone’s back while acting ingratiating to that person’s face, and you say you value honesty and want others to be honest with you, either stop the gossip altogether or learn to say kindly and clearly to someone’s face what you would also say if they were not present.   

The word “integrity” shares its root with the word “integer,” which means one indivisible thing.  To have integrity means to be the same person, to say the same things, in almost the same ways, no matter what situation presents itself.  “Duplicity” means to be two things.  If you plan to live a duplicitous life, prepare for your hypocrisy to be known.  It is the revelation of duplicity in those who are not honest and the revelation of integrity of those who are honest that I’ve seen freeing people all around me during the past few weeks.  I believe this is a wave of social change that will ripple through all our lives, removing forever the possibility of living in duplicity while ostensibly championing integrity. 

To me, these crazy times are breathtaking and exciting.  The challenge to live with more integrity myself is like learning to ski a steeper slope than I’ve ever negotiated before.  I have loved examining my own life, finding out where I have been wrong, and working to bring my values and actions into closer and closer alignment.   

For those of you interested in “manifesting” a wonderful life, this scrupulously transparent, authentic, and open life will open the floodgates.  The pressure to be honorable is here to make you powerful. This very day, do something brave to reduce any duplicity in your life. Stand up for yourself with someone who you’ve allowed to bully you. Apologize to someone with whom you may not have been entirely honest.  Immediately – this is a promise – you will find the things you have been longing for drawing nearer to you.  The TAO (The Way) of integrity puts the Law of Attraction on steroids.   It brings hope, peace, clarity and love from everywhere in the Universe.  Walk this bold path and watch your life blossom.