Wednesday, March 28, 2007

The real secret.....

Well, unless you're dead--you've heard about The Secret. It's on the best-seller's list, Oprah's done two shows on it and you can hardly open a magazine without stumbling on it.

While it is all the rage, The Secret is really nothing new at all. It is a repackaged and stunningly well marketed reminder that where we place the focus of our minds (thinking area of your Life Puzzle) is what we'll produce in our lives. Essentially--it is the Law of Attraction. It was shared in Norman Vincent Peale's book, The Power of Positive Thinking and the Prayer of Jabaz has had its run with this story too. All have made millions for their authors as they spread an age old wisdom that all of us know but too often forget!

That said, it is important for us all to remember that the "Law of Attraction" is but one of many of the "laws of the universe". It isn't the magic bullet, quick fix that will instantly transform your life and make it all come out great. It's good, its important but its not the end all be all.

And that's my concern as I watch this spread. Since we know that 90% of the population is operating from the 0-5 side of the Choosing Continuum--we can only attract to ourselves relative to the 'vision' or understanding about what it means to create a life. My experience is that most of us have the limited, 0-5 view that our culture provides--grow up, get a job, spouse, house, cars, kids, stuff. Thus when it comes to using the Law of Attraction that The Secret talks about--the end result is we're busy attracting primarily material/money and not 'whole and dynamic lives'.

Years of sharing the Life Puzzle model--I hear over and over again people saying "Wow, I never realized I had to take responsibility for all these areas of my life. It never occured to me to see my life as a 'whole I am becoming" vs. the "grow up, turn into an adult and wait for happily ever after!". And as one man said to me, I'd love to live 6-10 on the Choosing Continuum but I don't know how to do that! If he reads The Secret will he be able to just "attract" what he doesn't know how to do? Hmmmm.....

My concern with The Secret is that too many people are doing it from the 'grow up, turn into an adult--get the job, spouse, house, cars, kids and oh, okay, I can't 'wait' for happily ever after--I have to 'attract' it. But the "it" is stuck at 5....And 5 is only half the story. And sadly, as so many of my clients have proved--it isn't what makes people happy!

Where is the message in The Secret for a vision of the 6-10 whole? I don't see it. People are buying this up in droves and thinking they've found the quick fix, get me through this life answer. This isn't The Secret's "fault" per say--it isn't necessarily their responsibility to paint the picture of the whole. But after 10 years of working with Life Puzzle--I know that our culture needs to have this picture presented otherwise The Secret is going to be just one more passing phenomenom that leaves people lighter in their wallet but still wondering what happened as they rush off to the next "something" that's going to be the magical answer.

Life Puzzle makers know there's no quick's a piece at a time with the whole in mind. So, I would say the real secret is Life Puzzle-making--piece by piece and you discover you create and attract the peace you desire!

Monday, March 26, 2007

I don't know how to do money!!!

There are 16 core areas in our Life Puzzle that we’re each responsible for if we’re going to create a whole and dynamic life. One of them is Financial responsibility and sadly for many it is a gaping hole in their Life Puzzle! When this piece is missing—no, I guess more adequately I should say, when this piece is “jammed” into your Life Puzzle it greatly impacts the life you can (or can’t) create.

Money is clearly not a piece anyone can ‘miss’ because every one of us touches money in some form all the time. So it is more rightly expressed that we “jam” this piece into our Life Puzzle instead of proactively, consciously learning how to manage money. Most of us walk out high school or college completely clueless! We rush off to start making money and maybe saving a little but because we are so ignorant of how to use money it ends up a jumbled mess. Before long we don’t want to deal with this part at all—it’s just too confusing.

As a result, we are sleepwalking through life. Too many of us are desperately hoping we don’t wake up because when we do and examine the financial situation, we’ll collapse! We hear of the ‘one paycheck’ away from losing it all, but for many people, it started long ago through a lack of awareness and knowledge of how to manage money.

And please don’t think this “one paycheck” away phenomenon is for people with low incomes—there are scores of wealthy people who are stretched out beyond belief. I remember sitting in a banker’s office one day while waiting for some paperwork to be corrected. The real estate boom in this up-scale area of Florida was going crazy and we were chatting about the fast pace of sales and the amazing prices people were getting for their homes. Then the banker looked at me and said, “You would think with all the BMW’s and Mercedes flying by my window and the million dollar houses, that this is a wealthy area—but you might be quite surprised if you looked under the splashy sports cars and real estate sticker shock. If we ever have a downturn in the economy, many of those cars are going back to the dealer and they’ll be empty homes on every corner. This place looks rich, but half of it’s an illusion. He said, “I know it’s true—I see the income statement when they come in for loans and so many of the people in this area are leveraged to their last nickel!”

Which brings me to what a friend said to me at lunch one day, “I don’t know how to do money.” And I said, “I don’t think many people know how to do money!” I see it in my private practice and you can watch the nightly news and see it too. We are 0-5, unconscious, reactive and as bankruptcy rates sky-rocket (only slowed recently because Congress made it so much more difficult), we end up playing victim to a green piece of paper!

If you’re reading this blog and thinking “Yup, that describes me!”, I hope you will give your SELF permission to say, “I’m going 6-10 from here on out.” I’m going to spend the next year intensively learning how money works, how to make it work for me and how to manage it towards creating the life I want.” To do this means you’ll be one of the rare honest people who is willing to say, “I don’t know how to do money, but I’m going to find out!”

Here are 3 books which will be a good start for knowledge. Read them just to gather data, do the exercises in them—again, just to gather data. By the time you finish all 3, you’ll have a new perspective on how you want to manage money for the rest of your life. The 3 books are:

Your Money or your Life by Joe Dominguez
Smart Women Finish Rich (or Smart Couples Finish Rich) by David Bach
Make Money, not excuses: wake up, take charge and overcome your financial fears forever by Jean Chatzky

Another option is to take an on-line course that will teach you, step by step to get control of your finances. Here’s one I could recommend—I like it because it is so detailed and yet, still a fun way to explore/learn and take charge. It is

If money is one of your biggest fears—make a 6-10 choice today and do something about it! Read one of these books, take an online course and build your Life Puzzle!

Wednesday, March 14, 2007

A discussion with John Mackey of Whole Foods Markets

As you all know, I'm a huge proponent of healthy eating. In my early 20's I left my junk food diet behind and discovered healthy, whole foods. It truly transformed my life. I've also worked in the health food industry and am so pleased to see this industry come fully into its own as a viable addition in the marketplace. You know, when Wal-Mart's talking about organic....the times they are a changing....

John Mackey is the CEO of Whole Foods Markets(WFM). Whole Foods Markets are a success story and I'm quite happy about that. Having worked in the health food industry in the early days, I can tell you that this success is the result of the many risk-taking efforts made by people in the 70's and 80's to bring health foods to the marketplace at a time when whole foods, vitamins and herbs etc. were seen as items that the counterculture bought but certainly not mainstream mom and pop. John was one of those early pioneers who rode through the lean times. Committed to their mission, they hung in there and we have all benefited! Today if you walk in to WFM you'll definitely see mom and pop shopping too!

I think its terrific that Whole Foods Markets are successful. For Life Puzzle makers, having WFM available supports your ability to go 6-10 on the Choosing Continuum--building a life that honors the whole you are becoming. Since food is such a necessity for this, WFM provides lots of options and choices to create a healthy nutrition lifestyle!

Recently I stumbled upon John's blog where he had posted an article about 'Conscious Capitalism'. It is an essay about a new business paradigm--a new model that he feels would be beneficial. On March 7th, (you'll need to scroll down through the blog), I sent him a response and then on March 14th--he responded to mine. It is a lively dialogue. I am proposing that while Conscious Capitalism is better than the current version of capitalism--it still falls short of where we need to go.

I'm suggesting a Whole Life Economic system--where instead of products/services/money being the foundation of the economic system, we replace that with "life"--human, animal, earth, water, air. In is the most important factor in decision Whole Life Economics--life is the most important factor in decision making. So, we replace "anything that makes money is good" with a "anything that enhances the entire community of life is good"....And thus, business decisions reflect this.

With this transformation, I also recognize that the key to this change is Consciousness! This is the challenge because most people live on the 0-5 reactive, unconscious side of the Choosing Continuum. I say this because it has been validated over and over again through my experiences while teaching Life Puzzle to groups. When I ask an audience where they are on the Choosing Continuum--over and over again they say 0-5. And then we discuss why this is so. It's because all the systems we grow up in our culture are essentially 0-5 reactive, unconscious. For example--our medical system is a wait til its broken then fix it--reactive, not proactive. Reactive systems create reactive people which further reinforces reactive systems. Only about 10% of the population has become aware of and is now moving towards the 6-10 proactive, conscious.

And that's the gist of what I'm trying to say to John. Conscious Capitalism is perhaps a 6 on the Choosing Continuum....It begins the shift towards conscious choice--but tying it to capitalism (which makes "capital or money" the primary value) is to get stuck again in old model. It is better than the current 0-5 model, but doesn't go far enough to get us where we need to go! I believe that if we had 60% of the population on the 6-10 side of the Choosing Continuum--it would provide the tipping point to move beyond Conscious Capitalism and onto Conscious "Whole Lifeism" (we probably need a better term!)

But it is a start--and I hope our dialogue helps us all start looking at this issue. Please check out his blog and add your two cents too!

Wednesday, March 07, 2007

Atkin's best for weight loss...but not weight management

Reported in JAMA....Atkin's weight loss diet proves best as compared to the Zone, Dean Ornish's lifestyle diet and ..... As I read this I thought, ugh, here we go again. Everyone now rushing off to stuff themselves with a high protein diet, little carbohydrates etc.

What's missing in all this? Weight management.....
Anyone can lose weight--heck half of America is on a diet right now and people are definitely losing weight....The issue we need to look at is Weight management--keeping off the pounds you lost!

And since we know only 10% of dieters maintain their weight loss for more than a year--why do we care what diet they lost it on? It's just part of the rollercoaster that so many people live on when it comes to weight management.

Weight management has become a much larger topic within Life Puzzle since we've added the BodyMine!Life Puzzle as an online program offering. I created it because so many people struggle with weight management--but the typical path is through dieting and then hoping that you'll maintain it. The "hoping you'll maintain it" is where most folks get lost--and fail miserably since we know 90% put it all back on.

While the BodyMine!Life Puzzle program does help you design a "7th Heaven Nutrition Lifestyle"--it goes much deeper into teaching you how to build your whole Life Puzzle so you can have the strength of SELF to maintain weight loss. Every one who has participated in these programs has acknowledged their frustration with the rollercoaster of weight loss and come to the conclusion that if they're going to maintain weight loss--it has to become part of a lifestyle that they're consciously creating. The framework of the Life Puzzle can help do this.

So the next time you see a media report about 'the latest diet'...I hope you will turn it off or skip reading it! Dieting doesn't work--if it did--we wouldn't still be hearing about 'the best/next diet'!

Tuesday, March 06, 2007

And its just another piece in the whole...

Recently I began working with a young woman (age 20) who had experienced a significant trauma. Her mother had called me because her daughter had written a poem expressing intense angst and pain over the betrayal by a trusted family member--and within the poem she thought she detected thoughts around suicide. While she didn't really consider her daughter suicidal, she wanted to err on the side of caution and have her come for some counseling.

I was happy to have this opportunity because I know that traumatic events like this--or special challenges as they are known in Life Puzzle-making, can often become overwhelming to a person this young--and usurp the rest of the Life Puzzle making process. Not to minimize at all what she had experienced--but I hoped to help her put it in context to her whole life and not let it limit her view of SELF as a victim to this trauma--in truth, she was a survivor.

We all experiences 'special challenges'....and while hers was particularly unpleasant--the temptation to get caught up in the trauma/experience and allow it to become central to our lives needs to be examined relative to the whole life journey. I have other clients who can let someone else's' comment--or behavior, trap them in a demolition derby feeling/thinking pattern for such a long time that the rest of their life sits on the sidelines as they run this event over and over and over again in their minds.

In perspective--I try to get clients to really ask themselves--how much power do you want to give this one event--in context to a life of say, 80 years. When viewed from the 'whole', this one piece is but a minor part--it only becomes major when you decide to make it the 'whole' and ignore the rest of your Life Puzzle. As I said to my client above--how often are you likely to be thinking about this experience on a daily basis when you are 37? Or 63? As she said, "well, I would hope not that much". And I continued with this thought "If you know that this trauma will become but a piece of the whole--how much power/focus/attention do you want to give it, relative to also building the rest of your Life Puzzle in the here and now?"

I could tell she was mulling this over--and I ask you to do the same. If there is some current experience/trauma that you're constantly focusing on at the expense of living life fully--ask yourself if you really want to give it this much power/focus/attention when you know full well, within a year, it will have settled back into your Life Puzzle as a piece...not the whole. If you know that's going to happen--why not just choose now to accept it, learn from it and move on and not spend hours upon hours consumed with it today?

What you'll discover is that we all have the ability to manage our suffering/angst. Not by ignoring traumas/special challenges--but by acknowledging that they are one piece amongst the whole. Experience, learn and live--and refuse to let them 'limit' you. The outcome? You spend more of your life attracting the life you want instead of what you don't!

Obesity, surgery, our children

A recent report shows a tripling of the number of bariatric surgeries for obese children. Think of how life altering this is for a child! To be 12 years old and feel as if the only way to get control of your weight is to go through the step of surgically reducing your stomach in order to prevent you from eating!

What so concerns me with this process is that a child that young has barely formed a vision of SELF. Yet, this very young person is being asked to make decisions that are life altering in ways that he or she can have little perspective on nor understand many of the long term ramifications.

I'm writing about this for two reasons. One is that I have an acquaintance who works in the nutrition industry and deals with bariatric surgery clients (adults). In our discussions, she concurs that for many of these people, the food/weight issues are more about the addiction patterns of eating they developed as coping mechanisms for their blocked feelings/thinking flow. That ensured the lack of SELF and kept them on the food/dieting merry go round. She notes that so many of these people go through surgery but do not go through the growth work of changing SELF and end up losing weight, but ultimately become very disappointed because the root issue--SELF--has yet to be addressed.

The second reason I'm concerned for these kids also comes from running the BodyMine!Life Puzzle groups online. This is the 3 month online weight management groups that I run. There, feedback by group members tells me over and over again that food/weight is a symptom of the bigger issue--the ability to know SELF in a peaceful way so that they can be focused on creating a 6-10 life. BodyMine!Life Puzzle is an intensive around building SELF and then designing a nutrition lifestyle to support this.

When I put all this together, I worry for these children--who haven't even had sufficient time on this planet to build a healthy, self-loving SELF before they've been overwhelmed by weight issues and had their attention directed to this symptom at the very time their attention needs to be on building strong edges of SELF.