Week 7: You Are Not Your Thoughts (You Are the Observer of Your Thoughts) [Loveable 008]

“This is the promise of your pain: to relate to it properly, you must learn how to observe it, and as you learn to observe it, you begin, for the first time, to fully inhabit the soul within you that is doing the observing. This week, begin to inhabit your soul once again. Welcome home.”

In Episode 8 of The Loveable Podcast, we begin to talk about how to move through our darkness. And into the light…

loveable podcast episode 8

This week’s episode includes:

  • A summary of the first six weeks of the podcast and a context for what is ahead.
  • A reminder and encouragement about the cyclical nature of growth and becoming, as described in Loveable.
  • A helpful way to decide whether or not a job is right for you, especially if you are on the fence about it.
  • An encouraging reminder that your circles of belonging will likely shrink at first, as you begin to embrace your worthiness. 
  • Identification of a number of thoughts and phrases that can serve as “red flags” that you are experiencing, and perhaps even being guided by, shame.
  • Why a healthy mind and heart begin with a willingness to experience the full range of human experiences and emotions.
  • Why it’s impossible to stop your thoughts and what to do about that.
  • How the practice of observing your thoughts can make you a more light-hearted person.
  • How to embrace the rhythm of observing your thoughts, feeling a sense of peace as a result, and then falling back into old habits of identifying with our thoughts.
  • What it means to feel at home in our own soul.
  • A teaser about the next episode entitled, “The Small Gate and Narrow Road Back to Your True Self.”

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How to Feel True Thanksgiving in Just 45 Seconds

The pain stabbed me awake.

Near midnight, on an ordinary Sunday evening, I awoke to the feeling of someone inserting a very sharp knife under the toenail on my left big toe. The sensation lasted ten seconds, then subsided. Forty-five seconds later it happened again: ten seconds of exquisite agony. Then, forty-five seconds of ordinary living, followed once again by the knife. It went that way all night long.

Every forty-five sleepless seconds, the knife.

Thanksgiving gratitude

Photo Credit: Alatielin (Bigstock)

The merciless cycle continued with almost no relief for three days and two more nights. I’m feeling better now—the right diagnosis and some good treatment and my sciatic nerve has finally cried mercy, for now—but the whole thing showed me something about how to cultivate true thanksgiving, as we head into this Thanksgiving holiday.

It has to do with the ordinary threaded throughout the pain.

What I mean is, during the daytime, when I was distracted by all the demands of daily life, I only paid attention to my toe when the knife arrived, so it felt like I was being stabbed all day long. But at night, there was nothing to do but pay attention the whole time, so I got to fully experience the forty-five second gaps between the pain, as well. And this is what I discovered:

I’m deeply, deeply grateful for forty-five ordinary seconds.

We tend to think of gratitude as something that happens when pain is vanquished, when hardship and disappointment and loss are eradicated from the landscape of our lives. We tend to think of gratitude as an experience that arises naturally when the risk and fear and diagnosis and disease and grief are behind us, rather than on us or in front of us. We tend to think of gratitude as an extraordinary feeling that corresponds with extraordinary blessings and exceedingly good fortunes and a cookie that crumbles in all the right ways.

But the truth is, gratitude can happen in forty-five terribly ordinary seconds.

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Week 6: Unbecoming Who You Are Not [Loveable 007]

“You already are what you are becoming. You don’t build what you are; you chip away at what you are not. We are, each of us, like blocks of wood, and becoming our true self is the gradual process of carving away the excess and steadily becoming more and more the shape of what we already are.”

In Episode 7 of The Loveable Podcast, we talk about how to do so, and it begins with answering three very specific questions…

loveable podcast episode 7

This week’s episode includes:

  • How to respond to the “gap” between who you want to be and who you are (hint: it has to do with grace).
  • How to handle relationships with people who are either unable or unwilling to connect with you or accept you for who you are.
  • What to do when you’re not quite ready to engage with one of the exercises from this podcast.
  • A concrete example of one way I’ve embraced myself by unbecoming who I am not.
  • How to know who you belong to (hint: it has to do with grace again).
  • A discussion about how to set healthy boundaries.
  • Permission for this process to take time.
  • All sorts of discussion and resources for navigating relationships between introverts and extroverts.
  • A teaser about the next episode entitled, “You Aren’t Your Thoughts (You Are the Observer of Your Thoughts).”

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Week 5: Letting Go of the Solution to All of Your Problems [Loveable 006]

What is the only thing worse than not getting what you want? Getting what you want. Because after you get what you want, you will probably realize it wasn’t the hoped-for solution to all of your problems. And then what? In Episode 6 of The Loveable Podcast, we talk about our search for a solution that doesn’t exist, letting it go, and then what…

loveable podcast episode 6

This week’s episode includes:

  • A review of last week’s practice, especially the importance of adopting a word or phrase to be mindful of and to anchor us on our journey of becoming.
  • Why we search in our relationships and accomplishments for a solution to our shame that does not exist.
  • A totally new angle from which to view the creation story in the book of Genesis.
  • How to challenge the sense of duty and obligation that might be keeping you from changing old habits and patterns of searching.
  • How friends, family, and other places of belonging can hold us accountable for not searching for our worthiness in external activities.
  • The value of retelling your life story through the lens of your search for worthiness.
  • What will take the place of your search for worthiness, once you have called it off.
  • How to deal with regret about all the time you’ve spent searching.
  • A teaser about the next episode entitled, “Unbecoming Who We Are Not.”

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The Only Thing Better Than Being Remembered

The waves will wash us away.

I’m walking along the beach on the West coast of the United States when I see it, carved into the rock: “S+H 4 Ever.” There is a heart carved around it, and a date: 9/2014. At first, my heart is warmed—it must have been hard to carve, a labor of love. But then, very quickly, my heart is chilled. Three years ago, “forever” was carved deeply into a rock, and three short years later, the crashing water is already eroding and erasing the letters. In those fading letters, I saw myself. I saw all of us.

The waves of time will wash us all away.

purpose meaning

At some level, each of us is aware of this. So, we strive for immortality, by carving our initials into this life—we try to make our mark on the world. We try to make a difference. We long to be remembered. We hope to leave a legacy. We fight to outlast ourselves. But the truth is, aside from the occasional address in a field at Gettysburg, or a speech on the mall in Washington, most of us will not be remembered for very long.

Someone once said, “Every man dies two deaths. The first is when he takes his last breath. The second is the last time someone says his name.”

Our time here is short and, for most of us, the waves of time will eventually wash away even the memory of our existence, no matter how deeply we carve our initials into the bedrock of our lives.

Like I said, the heart-warming inscription only chilled me.

Two days later, though, I’m back in the heartland of America, and I’m sitting beside another body of water—a river—on a colorful, brittle autumn day. The season around me is yet another reminder of how everything and everyone is always dying and passing on. As I sit beside the river, the image of the waves slamming into the shore continues to haunt me. But then something happens.

As I watch the world around me, I see that it’s dancing.

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Week 4: Self-Acceptance Is the Foundation of All Self-Improvement [Loveable 005]

What if all our efforts to improve ourselves are actually keeping us stuck, because, sometimes, self-help is just cleverly disguised self-rejection? And what if, sometimes, self-acceptance is the most helpful, most transformative thing of all? Welcome to Episode 5 of The Loveable Podcast, in which we read and discuss Week 4 of Loveable’s companion book,  which is available nowhere else…

loveable podcast episode 5

This week’s episodes includes:

  • Me admitting that I woke up feeling insecure and anxious about recording the podcast episode.
  • A fruitful conversation about what to do when your shame decides to visit you once again.
  • The important distinction between our inward journey and our outward journeys.
  • Why our culture of inspiration is really a cleverly disguised culture of self-rejection.
  • The key difference between being inspired to change yourself versus being inspired to accept yourself.
  • How self-acceptance ultimately leads to wiser and more peaceful change.
  • The reason the first three weeks came before this week’s topic and practice.
  • A challenge to quit consuming self-help for at least one week.
  • A recommendation about what to replace self-help with once you’ve taken a break from it.
  • How to help thoughts about your worthiness descend from your head to your heart.
  • A teaser about the next episode entitled, “Letting Go of the Solution to All of Your Problems.”

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Week 3: Replacing Suffering with Presence [Loveable 004]

What if pain is an inevitable part of being alive, but suffering is not? And what if you could begin reducing your suffering right now, with a few simple practices? Join us for Episode 4 of The Loveable Podcast, as we read and discuss Week 3 of Loveable’s companion book, which is available nowhere else…

loveable podcast

This week’s episodes includes:

  • The important distinction between our inward journey and our outward journeys.
  • Why it is so important to experience the contrast between mindfulness and clutteredness.
  • What to do when a performance mindset interferes with mindfulness practices.
  • A new and more useful definition of suffering.
  • An exploration of one of the insidious reasons people are reading less and less.
  • Resources for creating a to-do list that, paradoxically, creates space for you to just be.
  • The reason whatever problems you resist in the present moment become more of a problem.
  • Practices for removing digital clutter from your life.
  • Ideas for removing obligational clutter from your life.
  • A teaser about the next episode entitled, “Self-Acceptance is the Foundation of All Self-Improvement.”

Friends, this conversation will plant good seeds in you that will continue to bear fruit going forward, in the form of increased presence and peace. Check it out. Listen to the episode below, or on iTunes.

You can leave a comment by clicking here.

Loveable is available in paperback, digital, and audio and can be purchased wherever books are sold, so you can also purchase it at your favorite bookseller.

What to Do When the News Is All Bad

I’m standing in the dark, but I can hear the daylight.

In my neck of the woods, as autumn becomes more frail, cicadas mark the daytime—around midday, they awake and begin their daily song. Then, around sundown, they are supposed to recede, and the crickets preside over the darkness, humming until daybreak. And yet, sometimes, they overlap.

I’m standing in the dark, but I can hear the daylight.

If I listen closely, threaded throughout the din of crickets, I can hear the rebellious hum of cicadas refusing to go gently into the night. And here’s the thing: if you listen closely, a bunch of insects can teach you about how darkness and light really work:

Always, darkness and light overlap.

mindfulness

Photo Credit: Spaxia (Bigstock)

There is, it seems, darkness everywhere right now. Charlottesville and hate, hurricanes and devastation. Earthquakes in Mexico, a massacre in Vegas, wildfires in California. The darkness of political and racial division everywhere, even on a gridiron. Data breaches and the dark web and the unfathomable darkness it harbors. Terror and trafficking and more terror.

If you read the headlines, it is easy to believe darkness reigns.

But the truth is, the news is called the news not because it is common, but because it is rare. If my kids came to me and told me they had big news and I asked what it was and they told me they’d just gone to the bathroom, I’d tell them that’s not news. News is the exception to the rule. So, when the news industry reports on the darkness, they are flooding you with outliers. That’s their job.

The truth is, there’s not enough server space in all the world to contain the very, very common light in all the world. The good news is so common, there’s not enough channels on television to contain it all. In fact, the good news is so ordinary, it’s not news at all. It’s just life. And it’s happening right here, right now, all the time, in the midst of the very sensational darkness.

Always, darkness and light overlap.

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Week 2: Rest Is Revolutionary [Loveable 003]

Welcome to Episode 3 of The Loveable Podcast! Join us, as we read and discuss Week 2 of Loveable’s companion book (which is available nowhere else). It was another great conversation, this time about why most rest isn’t very restful at all…

loveable podcast episode 3

This week’s episodes includes:

  • A conversation about last week’s mindful breathing practice.
  • Resources for honing your breathing practice and making it a habit.
  • A redefinition of rest as an inner condition, rather than a set of outer circumstances.
  • An exploration of the reasons we don’t take advantage of opportunities to rest.
  • Practices for resting in the quiet spaces of life.
  • Practices for cultivating a restful mind even amidst the busyness of life.
  • A crazy idea about how to dramatically increase the odds of restfulness in your home.
  • A teaser about the next episode entitled, “Replacing Suffering with Presence.”

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What Everyone Needs to Know About Chasing a Dream

There are two things, actually.  First, chasing your dreams will not eliminate pain from your life; it will simply give you a reason to endure pain. And second, you don’t get to choose your dreams; your dreams choose you

millenials chasing your dreams

Photo Credit: yobro (Bigstock)

He gets knocked down, grits his teeth, and gets back on his feet.

My nine-year-old son Quinn is playing in his first soccer game of the season. We’re down 1-0, and he doesn’t like to lose, so he steals the ball back. Three defenders stand between him and the goal. He dribbles around two, but the last one knocks him to his knees again. Yet, again, he refuses to quit. He hooks his foot out, steals the ball back, stands, and kicks it into the corner of the net.

As his father and his coach, I’m proud of him.

But not because he scored, or because the game is now tied. I’m proud of him because he got knocked down twice, got back up twice, and kept moving forward. I’m proud of him because he had a goal and he stayed focused on it, rather than his frustration and his setbacks. I’m proud of him because, in the real world, this is what dream-chasing looks like. 

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