Posts Tagged ‘thriving’

Down with Stress/Up with Thriving

Saturday, February 2nd, 2008

Click here to read my English usage blogs.

This is a modified version of a talk I gave at the KCBS Health Fair in San Francisco on February 2, 2008. My panel’s room was set up for 30 people and 150 showed up. The technicians scrambled to set up speakers in the hallway so the overflowing crowd could hear.

Down with Stress/Up with Thriving

I have a need for full confession here—call it my Jewish guilt—before I go on to give you advice about how to lower your stress and thrive more. At 23 years of age I had a stroke. At 48 I had a brain tumor. So although I’m not the poster child for handling stress or always being tuned in to the subtle and not-so-subtle messages of my mind/body/spirit, I have spent a good portion of my 27 years as a life coach seeking correlations between health and happiness for my clients as well as for myself.

First of all, stress is a catchall phrase and not so useful when we’re looking to thrive and create a more extraordinary life. Instead, I recommend asking yourself whether you are Enduring or Persevering. Both may feel stressful. But Enduring leads to the blahs and worse while Persevering leads to thriving. Here are just some of the symptoms of Endurance: anxiety, addiction, boredom, cynicism, depression, hopelessness, helplessness, illness, “Is that all there is?” lack of energy, procrastination, resentment, ruts, and “Why me, Lord?” If you are suffering from any of these symptoms, then I encourage you to consider that you are in some Endurance.

So how do we end up in Endurance and how do we get out of it? Most of us have an underlying belief, conscious or unconscious, in what I call The Big Lie. The Big Lie is that we think that we are not fully worthy. If we don’t believe we are fully worthy of thriving or having an extraordinary, abundant life, we will sabotage ourselves using three universal techniques:
• Stoking our fears
• Whipping ourselves with our self-judgments
• Gathering evidence for our limiting beliefs.

Example: Have you ever had a bad hair day? If so, then you know exactly what I’m talking about. You wake up in the morning feeling ugly. That’s your self-judgment. So what do you do? Instead of picking out your nicest or sexiest outfit, you dress to be invisible. Why? Because you fear being noticed for how ugly you think you look. Then you leave home, go to work, and what happens? No one notices you. No one compliments you. And what does this do? It confirms your limiting belief that you are not attractive. This is just one example of the wisdom of the Buddhist saying that no enemy can harm us as much as our own worst thoughts.

Here is my personal example of a bad hair day: I was 48 years old and had not yet written my book, Enough Is Enough! Why? I had stoked my fear that I would be rejected by publishers and the public. I had self-judgments that I wasn’t a good enough writer, even though I had written and sold over 100,000 copies of my Blue Book of Grammar and Punctuation and had edited for friends and colleagues for 30 years. And I had plenty of evidence that there were enough self-help books out there glutting the market already and that mine would get lost in the pile. What stoking my fear, whipping up my self-judgments, and gathering evidence for my limiting beliefs did was to keep me in endurance by perpetuating The Big Lie that I wasn’t worthy. My personal favorite symptoms of Endurance were boredom and resentment.

Then I was diagnosed with a brain tumor. That, as we say, was my wake-up call. I asked myself, “If I don’t make it through the surgery, will I have any regrets?” The answer was a resounding yes. I had seven weeks between diagnosis and surgery, during which time I bargained with the Universe. Here was the deal I asked for: Let me live and come out of surgery coherent and I’ll write the book. I’ll even be willing to believe that I’m worthy of doing so. Gratefully, the Universe must have acquiesced so I started writing. Now writing a book is no stroll in the park, especially if you really care about your topic and audience. But the difference was that, once I decided to say boo back to my fears, stopped reminding myself of all my self-judgments, and began to question the authority of my limiting beliefs, I found that I was no longer Enduring; I was Persevering.

Writing the book was still stressful. I had to write late at night because I still had my commitment to my clients as well as to my young daughter and loving husband. I had an editor who sent back my work full of red ink on a daily basis. But it was different. Perseverance is energizing. It is a commitment to the process, regardless of any particular outcome. I found that I was willing to write the book not knowing if it would ever be published or read by another human being.

I think that the secret to thriving that also lowers your stress level is to counter The Big Lie by listening to your Spirit’s longings. Your spirit knows what really matters and it knows when you’re enduring rather than persevering.

So here are five things you can do right now to thrive more:
1. Make amends for past misdeeds and forgive yourself daily so that you can feel worthy of thriving.
2. Say boo back to at least one fear. Courage is not the absence of fear; it is the commitment to persevere through it.
3. Allow yourself to be wrong about your self-judgments and limiting beliefs. Being right just keeps you enduring in survival mode.
4. Listen more closely to your spirit’s longings.
5. Model your behaviors after those you admire. Or, as one bumper sticker says, “Become the person your dog thinks you are.”

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On the Couch—A Unique Opportunity With Jane
Can You Really Find Insight/Resolution/Relief/Renewal in 15 minutes or less? Yes!
Sit with Jane for just a few minutes and she will help you:
get out of a rut
• release old pain
• make a life-changing decision
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• find clarity
• forgive yourself and others
• experience compassion
• thrive

Location: Nomadic Outfitters, 2426 California St. (at Fillmore), S.F., (415) 345-8338
Date/Time: Tuesday, February 12, 2008, 4:00 – 5:30 p.m.
Price: Free! No appointment necessary. Drop in and talk with Jane, listen to others share, and/or shop. All donations go to hospice.

Handle Stress to Boost Immunity presented by Jane at the KCBS Health Fair in San Francisco with Keynote Speaker Dr. Mehmet Oz
I was honored to be invited as a panelist, along with Melina Jampolis, M.D., host of Fit TV’s Diet Doctor and author of The No Time to Lose Diet; and Dr. Jacob Leone, Naturopathic & Integrative Medicine Practitioner, to discuss Boosting Immunity: Nutrition, Supplements, and Stress. I promise to have the contents of my presentation available for you on my Web site shortly.

About Jane Straus
Jane is a trusted life coach, dynamic keynote speaker, and the author of Enough Is Enough! Stop Enduring and Start Living Your Extraordinary Life. With humor and grace, Jane offers her clients and seminar participants insights and exercises to ensure that the next chapter of their lives is about thriving as the unique individuals they have always been and the extraordinary ones they are still becoming. She serves clients worldwide and invites you to visit her site, www.stopenduring.com. Here you will find excerpts from her book, more articles, TV and radio interviews, and clips from her presentations.

She is also the author of The Blue Book of Grammar and Punctuation, www.grammarbook.com, an award-winning online resource and workbook with easy-to-understand rules, real-world examples, and fun quizzes. Contact Jane at Jane@JaneStraus.com.

Life is like Coffee

Friday, January 18th, 2008

After writing last week about my friend Gio’s death, I felt that the following e-mail (paraphrased here), which has traveled the world, would be an appropriate follow up that we could all appreciate.

A group of friends got together to have coffee. The host set out the cups and brewed the coffee. Some of the cups were beautiful; some were plain. The host noticed that the nicer cups were chosen first.

What is the meaning of this vignette?

Life is coffee. Jobs, money, and position in society are merely cups. They are tools that shape and contain Life, but the type of cup we have does not define nor change the quality of the life we live. Often, by concentrating only on the cup, we fail to enjoy the coffee provided us.

The happiest people don’t have the best of everything; they just make the best of everything they have.

Live simply. Love generously. Care deeply. Speak kindly.

The richest person is not the one who has the most but the one who needs the least.

Jane Straus is a trusted life coach, dynamic keynote speaker, and the author of Enough Is Enough! Stop Enduring and Start Living Your Extraordinary Life. With humor and grace, Jane offers her clients and seminar participants insights and exercises to ensure that the next chapter of their lives is about thriving as the unique individuals they have always been and the extraordinary ones they are still becoming. She serves clients worldwide and invites you to visit her site, www.stopenduring.com. Here you will find excerpts from her book, more articles, TV and radio interviews, and clips from her presentations.

She is also the author of The Blue Book of Grammar and Punctuation, www.grammarbook.com, an award-winning online resource and workbook with easy-to-understand rules, real-world examples, and fun quizzes. Contact Jane at Jane@JaneStraus.com.

Are You Surviving or Thriving?

Friday, December 7th, 2007
 
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Dear Jane,
Everyone talks about thriving. How do I know if I’m thriving? What’s the difference between surviving and thriving?

In both surviving and thriving, we may struggle at times, feel fear of failure or rejection, or worry that we are not worthy of what we long for. So the distinction between surviving and thriving can easily get blurred.

But surviving will lead us to a dead end whereas thriving, although it may take us down a long and meandering path, offers up surprises, serendipity, and synchronicity.

Surviving can be identified by our endurance symptoms—anxiety, boredom, self-criticism, addiction, low energy, avoidance, depression, lethargy—to name just a few that I discuss in Enough Is Enough! Stop Enduring and Start Living Your Extraordinary Life.

When we habitually wake up in the morning dreading that today will be a repeat of yesterday and the day before and the day before that, we are enduring, not thriving. The bad news is that endurance sneaks up on us. We don’t know we’re in endurance until we’re pretty miserable. The good news is that, once we recognize the sources of our endurance, we can say “Enough is enough!” and begin leading a more fulfilling life.

We endure because we’re fearful, self-judging, or believing a limiting thought. Often, these sources of endurance overlap such that we are experiencing two or even three of them. We may be fearful because of a limiting belief. For example, if I believe that I am not good enough in some way, I may be quite fearful of putting myself in situations that will likely trigger this belief.

The problem with latching onto our fears, self-judgments, and limiting beliefs is that they constrict us. How can I have new experiences that debunk my limiting belief about being unworthy if I avoid situations that have the potential of making me realize I was wrong? Instead, in endurance, I will get to be right…and miserable.

Thriving isn’t necessarily any less challenging than endurance, but it does lead someplace new and different. Instead of being right and miserable, we get to be surprised and excited about life.

So what is thriving? It is our willingness to commit to our spirit’s longings no matter what! No matter what fears, self-judgments, and limiting beliefs pop up to distract us or try to protect us from humiliation. It involves perseverance: committing no matter what others say the odds against our achieving our goals are. No matter what we have told ourselves about being too old, too young, too uneducated, too busy, or too poor. Thriving is choosing to pay attention to our spirit rather than to all the chatter that has stopped us from living our extraordinary life.

Thriving is like buying a car. When we purchase a new vehicle, we suddenly see the same car in greater numbers on the road. This isn’t because more people bought the same car on the same day we did, is it? It’s because our attention is now focused differently from where it was before. Wherever we focus our attention dictates what we see and experience. If we focus on our fears, self-judgments, and limiting beliefs, it’s like putting blinders on. These are all we will see and experience. On the other hand, if we focus on listening and attending to our spirit’s callings, we will see and experience extraordinary new people, events, feelings, and thoughts.

As soon as we shift from surviving to thriving, we allow surprise, serendipity, and synchronicity to help our spirit along. We are now saying “yes” to the Universe, which expands our peripheral vision and gives us a new view of potentials and possibilities. Thriving requires three things: a willingness to listen to ourselves; a willingness to be wrong about our prior fears, self-judgments, and limiting beliefs; and the courage to be explorers.

The first two requirements must come from within. The third one—courage—we can allow others to support us in. Find people who listen to their own spirits, who have beaten odds, live joyfully, and find compassion for themselves and those around them. These are your mentors and your heroes and heroines.

Many of us wait to listen to our spirit until tragedy or illness strikes. My wake-up call came in the form of a brain tumor. But we don’t need to wait to allow ourselves to be inspired. Let today—your child’s smile, your urge to paint, the sun warming your skin, a desire to help someone in need—be enough.

Jane Straus is a trusted life coach, dynamic keynote speaker, and the author of Enough Is Enough! Stop Enduring and Start Living Your Extraordinary Life. With humor and grace, Jane offers her clients and seminar participants insights and exercises to ensure that the next chapter of their lives is about thriving as the unique individuals they have always been and the extraordinary ones they are still becoming. She serves clients worldwide and invites you to visit her site, www.stopenduring.com. Here you will find excerpts from her book, more articles, TV and radio interviews, and clips from her presentations.

She is also the author of The Blue Book of Grammar and Punctuation, www.grammarbook.com, an award-winning online resource and workbook with easy-to-understand rules, real-world examples, and fun quizzes. Contact Jane at Jane@JaneStraus.com.

How to Know When You Are Fulfilled

Friday, December 22nd, 2006
 
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Dear Jane,
How can I figure out whether I am doing what makes me happy? What are some of the symptoms of unhappiness, or must I wait for a life-threatening situation?

I wrote Enough Is Enough! to help others avoid having to go through a life-threatening situation in order to wake up to your spirit’s calling.

If you are having to ask yourself if you are happy, then you probably aren’t. Perhaps you haven’t yet had the satisfaction that goes with fulfilling your spirit’s purpose, so you don’t know what benchmark to compare your feelings with.

The symptoms of endurance or a less-than-thriving life are discussed in depth in my book. I will give you a short list here that you should find helpful:
Anxiety, addiction, depression, cynicism, hopelessness, helplessness, boredom, frustration, resentment, endless To Do lists, ruts, listlessness…the list goes on and on!

The most important thing you can do is to pay attention. If you are suffering from any of these symptoms, don’t ignore yourself. You deserve to create a thriving, extraordinary life. Remember, others in your life will benefit also. As one bumper sticker says, “Become the person your dog thinks you are.” This is a way of saying that you owe it to yourself to like the reflection you see in the mirror. Time is precious and so is your spirit. Begin today!

About Jane
Jane Straus is a trusted life coach, dynamic keynote speaker, and the author of Enough Is Enough! Stop Enduring and Start Living Your Extraordinary Life. With humor and grace, Jane offers her clients and seminar participants insights and exercises to ensure that the next chapter of their lives is about thriving as the unique individuals they have always been and the extraordinary ones they are still becoming. She serves clients worldwide and invites you to visit her site, StopEnduring.com. Here you will find excerpts from her book, more articles, TV and radio interviews, and clips from her presentations.
She is also the author of The Blue Book of Grammar and Punctuation, Grammarbook.com, an award-winning online resource and workbook with easy-to-understand rules, real-world examples, and fun quizzes.
Contact Jane at Jane@JaneStraus.com.

Courtroom Earth v. Classroom Earth

Friday, October 6th, 2006
 
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In Enough Is Enough!, I talk about what it’s like to think of our environment as a courtroom v. a classroom and how to consciously choose hanging out in the latter. Yet, I’m finding just how habitual it is to forget that I have a choice of where to be.

Sometimes I’m in the Courtroom, acting as my own judge, jury (and executioner) and I don’t even realize it. What about you? Do you find yourself being driven, addicted to more and more evidence to prove that you are worthy? Then do you end up tired, resentful, frustrated, short tempered, with an even greater urge to control and do?

This is my trickiest survival strategy and where I end up enduring the most. It’s tricky because I don’t realize I’m in endurance until my symptoms cause me such great discomfort that I can’t help but notice. Even then, it’s not always easy to just put the brakes on. But I’m committed to doing so.

Here’s what “putting the brakes on” means to me today:
1. Reminding myself that I am worthy and deserving and so is everyone else.
2. Taking some deep breaths. I know this sounds so simple but, even as a breathwork teacher, I can forget to do this.
3. Taking a walk, calling a friend, walking my dog along the waterfront, playing a game with my daughter.
4. Asking for help. This is huge for me.

I think that the first remedy, reminding myself that I am worthy, is the most important. With this reminder, I find myself more willing to commit to the other three remedies, which leads me to thriving, not just surviving.

About Jane
Jane Straus is a trusted life coach, dynamic keynote speaker, and the author of Enough Is Enough! Stop Enduring and Start Living Your Extraordinary Life. With humor and grace, Jane offers her clients and seminar participants insights and exercises to ensure that the next chapter of their lives is about thriving as the unique individuals they have always been and the extraordinary ones they are still becoming. She serves clients worldwide and invites you to visit her site, StopEnduring.com. Here you will find excerpts from her book, more articles, TV and radio interviews, and clips from her presentations.
She is also the author of The Blue Book of Grammar and Punctuation, Grammarbook.com, an award-winning online resource and workbook with easy-to-understand rules, real-world examples, and fun quizzes.
Contact Jane at Jane@JaneStraus.com.

The Difference Between Thriving and Just Enduring

Monday, June 12th, 2006
 
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Dear Jane,
What do you mean by “endurance” and what’s wrong with it? I always thought enduring was a good thing.

When I am interviewed on radio or TV, I am always asked to explain what I mean by “endurance.” I use an analogy taught to me by one of my mentors, Brandon St. John, some 25 years ago. This analogy was used by Al Gore in his amazing film, “An Inconvenient Truth,” where he offers us irrefutable evidence that global warming is real and dangerous and a hope and a plan for rescuing the planet now. The analogy goes like this: When frogs are placed in water that is too hot, they will hop out immediately. However, when frogs are placed in water that is just right and then the water is heated slowly, they will ENDURE and never jump out, no matter how hot the water gets. Our mutual point is this: When we put up with anything that is unhealthy for our spirit or our environment for too long, like the frog, we may not notice until it is too late. In Al Gore’s cartoon with the frog, the frog is rescued by awareness and action. In Enough Is Enough!, I offer so many ways to become aware and stop enduring now, not later, not after we have accumulated too much regret or poisoned our system with too much resentment. Not after we have ignored our spirit to the point that we can no longer hear its whispers.
If you pay attention to your spirit today, if you “take your leap,” you will undoubtedly help yourself, others, and possibly our planet. Here are some immediate ways to start living your extraordinary life and to set an example for others. None of them are easy. All of them require willingness, perseverance, and self-compassion:
1. Stop one self-defeating behavior just for a day and replace it with a healthy, affirming one. You don’t have to change your thoughts, just your behavior. Your mind just may catch up with you.
2. Tell someone about a goal you wish to accomplish. Ask them to support you in it, even to the point of keeping your word about it. Don’t let yourself off the hook. This is perseverance, not endurance, and it is one of the best ways to build self-esteem.
3. Ask yourself where you have not been in integrity with someone. Then make it right. Righting our wrongs is loving kindness put into action. It is humbling and keeps us from self-righteousness.
4. Acknowledge something good in yourself and then acknowledge something good in a person you are having difficulty with.
There are many more ways to get out of your prison of endurance and to make each day forward a remarkable one. Promise yourself you will make thriving your new habit. After all, we are not frogs, are we?