Self Love Leads to Success & Happiness

When Mastin Kip decided to start the Daily Love he envisaged a website with over a million readers and he set the intention to become the Huffington Post of personal growth. Not long after he was invited to a party where he met Agapi, who turned out to be Arianna Huffington’s sister. When you read Mastin’s story of how powerful people such as Tony Robbins and Oprah just turned up in his life and helped turn his dream into reality, it sounds like a fairy tale. What most people don’t realise is that same help is available to all of us, and that includes YOU. First, though we need to be open to receive and understand that self love is the foundation upon which we build a happy life, we do this by being willing to love ourselves exactly as we are, where we are, right now.

Of his own journey to loving himself Mastin said[1], “I didn’t realise that there is a middle path – a place where self-love and serving others meet. Instead I got on board with ‘narcissism’ and it took me for a ride. I went from thinking God was fully outside of me, to thinking God was fully within me. In fact, I started to think that on some level I was God, not a piece of God (as we all are)”.

Many people interpret self love as putting yourself first, but there is much more to it than that. It is feeling good about yourself. This is more than just making time for yourself and doing things you enjoy, it is being willing to accept yourself exactly as you are. It is having the courage to go into the world as the imperfect person you are because you feel called to do something. It is about acting on your inner wisdom and guidance on a daily basis and making your opinion of you more important than anyone else’s opinion of you.

Self love takes you into the energy field I call the Dharma Zone, which is the space where life flows, where people and opportunities simply come into your life. We don’t have to be perfect to live in the Dharma Zone, we just have to be willing.

I’ve been in the Dharma Zone many times. When I decided I wanted to write a magazine column I visualised my photo and the column each day for about a month, I practised writing columns and within three months I was writing for 2 major magazines and several newspapers. When I decided to write a book I took one day a week off work to work on book. I contacted publishers and within months Doubleday made me an offer. When I decided I wanted to live in a more beautiful area the opportunity presented itself within a couple of months. Any obstacles I encountered after these opportunities presented themselves resulted from my inability to accept what is and my lack of trust.

Do something every day that makes you feel good about you. This encompasses the way you treat others, the way you treat yourself and the way you allow others to treat you.

Often we think we will feel better about ourself when we lose weight, have more money, become successful, or when someone loves us, and that may be true, but trying to achieve goals when a part of you resists what is just keeps you stuck in the same old cycle. It is not just about doing something regularly that makes you feel good, it’s doing something regularly that makes you feel good about you.  

Living in the Dharma Zone is never about living a problem free life or not feeling fearful, in fact it is the space where it is wise to embrace your fears, because fear is all that stands between you and love. Love always starts with self, then as we become more comfortable it naturally flows from us to all mankind.

Loving yourself is about appreciating who you are, valuing the effort you make to be the best person you can be, it is never based it upon anything external. It is being able to look at criticism and see if there is any merit in it, if there is do something, if there is not, simply accept it is just someone’s opinion that you don’t agree with.

Self love is feeling good about who you are and the way you are living your life, and if you are not quite there yet, it is having the courage to take whatever steps necessary to get yourself to that state.

[1] Daily Love, Mastin Kipp, Hay House.

Embrace Change

Borders Books are an example of a company who did not embrace change.  They wanted to create superstores and they had an amazing model, but they didn’t pay enough attention to the effect that the Internet and digital books would have on their business.  They started an online store but after a while felt it distracted them from their core business so they made the decision to outsource their e-commerce to Amazon.  It was a fatal decision from which they never recovered.  Although they reversed this decision in 2008 it was too late.  From 2006 – 2010 their annual income dropped by $1 billion and the shops closed world-wide in 2011.

We all know that change in occurring at a rapid pace, but I was surprised to read these statistics. Denis Waitley says: ‘Every 15 seconds a new website is launched. Every 15 minutes a new technological breakthrough occurs. Every 15 days a new product or service is introduced, that didn’t exist before.’

There are very few areas of our lives that the Internet and technology have not affected, from the way we communicate with each other to the way we shop, and those who refuse to stay abreast of change often get left behind. Unless you are a person who loves change the natural response for many people is to resist the unfamiliar, but rather than do this, pause, then ask yourself these questions:

What gifts could these changes bring into my life?

What opportunities that I’ve never even thought about wait for me?

How can I use this change to create a life far grander than I ever imagined?

While change continues at such a rapid pace we need to be aware that some change is good and some weakens us.  It has been reported that Generation Y, while much faster at learning that previous generations have smaller memories as they have don’t have the same need to need to memorise numbers and information as previous generations. They are also a generation whose need for instant gratification is stronger as they have been raised with so much information and access is at their fingertips.

Embrace Change

On the other hand, a study into how technology changes the human brain in older people found that frequent users of the Internet showed twice as much activity as novices and this strengthened neural circuits in the brain, which could keep us mentally active for much longer.

Resistance is an automatic response that makes life more difficult.  What we need to develop is our ability to be mindful.  To pause before we say ‘yes’, ‘no’, or react.  When you combine mindfulness with discernment you gain wisdom.  At this time in our world we need to embrace change by retaining the good from the older generations and combining it with the knowledge and eagerness of the younger generations to enable us to create the best possible world that serves all mankind.

Focus on Giving

Under the direction of CEO Howard Schulz, Starbucks became a company known for their philanthropy.  When Schulz resigned as CEO in 2000 the company was thriving.  However, during the intervening years the company stalled and many stores had to close.  When Howard Schulz returned as CEO the first thing he did was to take 10,000 store managers on a character and values boot camp to New Orleans.  This was post Hurricane Katrina.  During that time Starbucks’ employees gave more than 54,000 hours of their time in volunteer work and invested more than one million dollars in repair projects.  Howard Schulz attributes this time as being the company’s turning point because they reinvested in their people and in the company’s core values of giving back.

One of the keys to living a rich, meaningful life is to understand when you need to focus your attention inwards and when to focus on giving back. When you need ideas, inspiration, or need to make a choice this is the ideal time to go within and listen to your heart and soul.  If you listen to everyone else’s opinions at this time you will often end up confused.  Although I am a big advocate of trusting your heart and living a life that suits your essential nature, the paradox is that if you were to live your life solely on what’s in it for you—you would end up unhappy.

Focus on Giving

Happiness results from living a balanced life where you trust yourself enough to make choices that suit your essential nature, then live in such a way that your life is focused on caring for and giving to others.  Through sharing and giving we experience real joy and discover our purpose.

This principle doesn’t just apply to individuals, it applies to business as well.  Businesses that are just interested in the bottom line, the profits they can make, often don’t last over the longer term.

The time has come to shift our focus from greed and the ‘what’s in it for me?’ approach that has been prevalent for some decades to ask the question, ‘What can I give?’  This never means that you give up your dreams, in fact when you focus on giving in a balanced way, it becomes so much easier for you to achieve your dreams.

Learn to Receive Graciously

At one time I put my car in to have service and based on the quote I’d been given I expected to have to pay a hefty bill.  When I picked up my car later that day I was delighted to find that the bill was $600 less than I expected and I assumed that the mechanic didn’t need to do as much as he originally thought.

A couple of days later I noticed that one of my tyres was really black and I wondered if the mechanic had put some blacking agent on it, however, as I walked around my car I noticed that all of my tyres looked brand new.  When I saw my dad on the weekend I asked him to check out my tyres to see if they were new and he said, ‘There is no doubt, there is no wear on the tread, these are brand new tyres’.  When I told him that I hadn’t asked for them, or paid for them, and that I thought the mechanic had given them to me as a random act of kindness Dad said, ‘No-one would do that.  There has to be some mistake.  Maybe he put someone else’s tyres on your car’.

That’s when doubt set in and I started to question.  Should I thank the mechanic and embarrass myself if he really didn’t mean it?  Should I offer to pay for the tyres?  Do I come across as poor?  And as I tossed these possibilities over in my mind I became aware, once again, at how easy it is to resist receiving and most of the time that is because our ego gets in the way.

Learn to Receive Graciously

I chose to accept the gift graciously.  I waited a couple of days so that he could contact me if he had made a mistake and when he didn’t, I called in and thanked him for the tyres (and I suspect the reduced bill).

He said, ‘Tyres, what new tyres?  I didn’t put new tyres on your car.’  He looked embarrassed, while at the same time he was grinning from ear to ear. I later found out that this man is known for buying old cars, doing them up, then giving them to people in need.

That man’s kindness not only made my day, it made my week and possibly my month.  Every time I think about it, even now, I feel good.

It’s important for all of us to learn to receive graciously, when we do this we feel good and then we pass those feelings of goodwill along to others.  We shift our focus off what is wrong with the world, people, or in our own lives and onto what is good.  Since then I’ve noticed how often people are kind to me.

Give by all means and at the same time be open and receptive to receiving from unexpected sources.

Focus on the Outcome

In his book Spiritual Liberation, Michael Beckwith tells the story of one of the students in Agape’s University of Transformational Studies and Leadership classes.

Donna was suffering from kidney disease and was on the waiting list for a transplant. She asked the class to pray that she would be moved up the list. Michael suggested that they pray to heal the kidneys she already had and Donna told him that her kidney disease was so rare that it couldn’t be healed. She asked again that they pray that she be moved up the transplant list. Michael suggested that while they were waiting for her to be moved up the transplant list that they do an experiment in prayer to see what they could do about healing her existing kidneys. She agreed.

Michael asked the group to give thanks every time they went to the bathroom for their healthy functioning kidneys and to give thanks for Donna’s healthy functioning kidneys. A few months later Donna tearfully told the group that her kidneys had spontaneously begun functioning normally and they have continued to do so.

When we become fixated on how to achieve our goals we often don’t see opportunities that are right in front of us.  Or, we unwittingly focus on how to solve a problem, or change a situation, and our focus is on exactly what we don’t want. This is where most people misunderstand the law of attraction.

To be able to attract what you want into your life you need to ensure that your thoughts, words and actions all align with what you want to create.

Take the example of a man who really wants a new job because he hates his current job.  If he wakes up each morning with a sinking feeling at the thought of going to work, he is pushing his ideal work away from him.  If, as the day proceeds he thinks about the things he dislikes in his current job or his life in general, he won’t recognise opportunities that are right in front of him. If he comes home at the end of the day and complains about his job, he is not going to be someone most people would want to go out of their way to offer a promotion to, because he has a poor attitude.

Many people act like this man thinking that a change in job will fix anything, but the change needs to begin within first.

If this same man woke up each day and gave thanks that he will soon be doing work that he loves, he will start drawing that work to him.  Then while he is at work as well as carrying on his regular duties, he gets ready to leave by making sure everything is up to date and preparing written instructions for the person following him.  At the end of each day he leaves feeling as though he has done the best he can.  This man is focusing on what he wants therefore drawing it to him by being congruent.

When you are open to something better coming along you will find that life gets so much easier.

To Expand Your Comfort Zone – Trust

There was a time in my life when I just had to ask for what I wanted and it was like turning on a tap, it was there. Then one day the tap dried up and it didn’t matter how hard I tried, or how much I gave, nothing changed. Fortunately, the tap is now flowing freely again and I now know that only happens when I trust.

Life continually provides us with opportunities to expand our comfort zone and to go beyond our expectations. We are the ones who limit ourselves. The problem for most people is that they either don’t realise they have an issue trusting, or they don’t know how to trust. Here’s some ways for you to build your trust muscle.

1. Be trust neutral. When we don’t trust we tend to shut down emotionally, or close a part of ourselves off from others. Rather than doing this make the choice to be trust neutral. You can be open and friendly in new relationships you just choose not to share anything of a confidential nature. Or, give your heart or money, to someone until you know them better.

2. People tell you who they are all the time. To become a good judge of character you need to develop your perception skills and you do this by observing. Really listen to the words people say and take note if their words contradict their actions. For instance, if someone tells you they are a person of integrity yet they are having an illicit affair their actions contradict their words. If someone tells you that you can trust them with a confidence and they gossip about others, it would be downright foolish to trust them.

3. Reflect and observe. If you can’t trust your own judgement, it’s hard to trust someone else. Look back over past choices that supported you and ask yourself why you made that choice. Look at the times you had problems trusting yourself and ask yourself if you allowed a fear to control your life, or were your concerns valid. By observing what has worked for you in the past you will learn to differentiate between fear and intuition.

4. It’s easier to trust when you have a contingency plan. When you are making any choice which involves a financial risk I always find it helps to have a contingency plan. This is an alternate plan for what you can do if your choice doesn’t work out the way you hope. This is ideally used for situations such as when you change jobs, start a business or make a major financial decision. I know I feel more comfortable have two or three contingency plans that I can fall back on if things don’t go the way I plan. This is not planning for failure, it ensures that you can focus on your goal without fear getting in your way.

5. Keep your dreams to yourself. The more you share your dreams with others the more likely you are to doubt yourself. Other people, while well intentioned, often tell you their fears and before long you start to doubt yourself. Many dreams that have been shared too early die before they even get started.

6. Trust builds confidence. Many people come for coaching because they want to feel more confident. Acting like a confident person isn’t going to make you feel confident, being a trusting person will. As you learn to trust your own judgement and trust yourself you naturally become more confident.

There is actually a lot more you can do to become a trusting person so start thinking about what you need to do and in what area of your life do you need to trust more. Then every time you feel fearful, or find yourself about to react in your usual way ask yourself how you would act if you were a trusting person. Then act that way.