Epiphanies; A Handbook for Unleashing “Aha” Moments

Happy New Year!  January is stereotypically the month where we make “resolutions” about the changes we’d like to make for this year. I’ve learned through the years that resolving to do something doesn’t necessarily guarantee the outcome. Just because we long to change, doesn’t mean it’s going to happen. Resolving is just the first step. What must happen next for any significant, lasting change is a transformation in our thought process about the routine, or habit, or transition we wish to make. In order for an old habit to be truly broken, we must eradicate old thinking and the replace it with new thinking. We must take inspired action, over and over again in order to condition our minds to the new idea or habit we wish to implement. And one of the first steps in that process is to analyze your current circumstances; ask tough questions of yourself, and them make affirmative statements that you will use to teach your mind the new way of thinking.

One of the ways I like to use to teach my mind to think differently is through Epiphanies – Aha moments – ideas that slam the breaks on old thinking and cause you to stop and interrupt the traditional, learned thought patterns. They create crossroads in our brains; A statement or quote, a profound phrase, followed by a few probing questions and then a positive forward thinking statement that can prompt a different action. They are so provoking that you are now forced to try to ignore the idea. Do this enough, and eventually you will begin to shift from can’t to can, from should to could, from dream to action.

I’m working on a new book called, Epiphanies; A Handbook for Unleashing “Aha” Moments. The goal is to help the reader experience that shift. What follows is a sampling of the material that will eventually find it’s way into that book. I hope it helps, even if only in a small way, to shift your thinking from some day to today.

“The most common commodity in this country is unrealized potential.” (Calvin Coolidge)
What is that one thing you know you’re good at, but just can’t seem to act on it?
What is one thing you can do to change that?
Don’t go to your grave with your song still in your heart.

“Greatness, whether athletic or otherwise, doesn’t come from those content on just being but from those who seek being the difference.” (Kirk Mango)
Where in your life have you become content being like everyone else?
What is one thing in your life that you would like to be different?
Being different might not always be popular, but it can sure be fun, if you let it.

“If you have a dream, don’t just sit there. Gather courage to believe that you can succeed and leave no stone unturned to make it a reality.” (Roopleen)
What dream are you still sitting on?
Is there something you’ve always wanted to do, some place you’ve always wanted to go?
We only get to do this lifetime once. See a chance, and take it.

“F.E.A.R. has two meanings; forget everything and run, or face everything and rise.” (Zig Ziglar)
Which one will you do?
What’s the one thing you fear most?
Imagine your life if you could overcome that fear. If you can imagine it, you can live it.

Change is just a two dimensional word unless you take three dimensional action.

“Once a person is determined to help them selves, there is nothing that can stop them.” (Nelson Mandela)
What’s one thing you can do right now to change your current circumstances?
If you are not determined, what is stopping you?
Picture your life as it would be on the other side of your circumstances. Feel it. And let that lead you there.

“Think so far outside the box we can’t even see the cardboard.” (David Murrow)
Can you think of an area in your life where things look pretty limited?
Where do you feel like you are boxed in?
Much of society is designed to operate in the box. But, much of the real life exists outside the box. Don’t be limited by boxed up thinking.

“Security does not exist in nature, nor do the children of men as a whole experience it. Avoiding danger is no safer in the long run than exposure.” (Helen Keller)
Where in your life do you feel like you are avoiding danger?
Would changing your ideas about security change the way you live your life?
We like to think we’ve arranged life in a way to where things are secure. But the big question is, would you still be okay if everything changed.

“Watch your thoughts, for they become words.
Watch your words, for they become actions.
Watch your actions, for they become habits.
Watch your habits, for they become character.
Watch your character, for it becomes your destiny.” – Anonymous

“I find it fascinating that most people plan their vacations with better care than they plan their lives. Perhaps that is because escape is easier than change.” (Jim Rohn)
Do you find yourself counting the days to your next vacation the minute you get home?
Does vacation feel more like an escape from your life?
If you vacation to escape, there’s a good chance your might need to re-evaluate what you do with the other 51 weeks.

“Know that you are the perfect age. Each year is special and precious, for you shall only live it once. Be comfortable with growing older.” (Louise Hay)
Do you ever find yourself feeling too old, or too young – wishing your were older, or young again?
Do you ever catch yourself looking back in regret, or ahead in fear?
We forget that life is a journey. This is not the end. We are merely passing through. Where you are is where you are supposed to be. Embrace that today.

Greg Tutwiler, life coach

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Why Wait Til The End?

This world is full of economic, political, social, and global uncertainty. Seems everyone is striving for something, or struggling through something, of laboring to control something. But in the end, does any of it matter? And if not, what does?

Consider this. Bronnie Ware was a palliative care nurse. In her book, The Top Five Regrets of the Dying – A Life Transformed by the Dearly Departing, she wrote, “My patients were those who had gone home to die. I was with them for the last three to twelve weeks of their lives. People grow a lot when they are faced with their own mortality. Each experienced a variety of emotions, as expected, denial, fear, anger, remorse, more denial and eventually acceptance. Every single patient found their peace before they departed though, every one of them.”

Bronnie had the opportunity to ask many of them about any regrets they had or anything they would do differently. “Common themes surfaced again and again,” she said.

Here are the most common five:

1. I wish I’d had the courage to live a life true to myself, not the life others expected of me. (This was the most common regret of all.) “Most people had not honored even a half of their dreams and had to die knowing that it was due to choices they had made, or not made.”

2. I wish I didn’t work so hard. (This came from every male patient that she nursed.) “All of the men I nursed deeply regretted spending so much of their lives on the treadmill of a work existence.”

3. I wish I’d had the courage to express my feelings. “Many people suppressed their feelings … and many developed illnesses relating to the bitterness and resentment they carried as a result.”

4. I wish I had stayed in touch with my friends. “Many had become so caught up in their own lives that they had let golden friendships slip by over the years. There were many deep regrets about not giving friendships the time and effort that they deserved.”

5. I wish that I had let myself be happier. (This was a surprisingly common one.) “Many did not realize until the end that happiness is a choice. They had stayed stuck in old patterns and habits. The so-called ‘comfort’ of familiarity overflowed into their emotions, as well as their physical lives. Fear of change had them pretending to others, and to their selves, that they were content. When deep within, they longed to laugh properly and have silliness in their life again.”

Take some time today to ponder this list. Are there some things on here that hit home? They did for me too. Don’t wait til the end to deal with them. We only get one chance at this lifetime. Contrary to popular belief, this life is not about bigger, better, faster. It’s about who you become during the journey. Be true to yourself, don’t work so hard, express your feelings, enjoy friendships, and as often as possible, choose happiness.

Personal Philosophy For Living

A personal philosophy for living is essential to living a great life. Numb is not a philosophy. Getting by isn’t either. It’s not about what you have – but what you do with what you have. If you don’t have a personal philosophy, you should. Here are eleven thoughts to get you started.

1) Read something (positive) 20 minutes a day. Exercise your brain. It builds character and enriches your soul.

2) Write (journal or blog) for 20 minutes a day. It’s the one thing in life that you are guaranteed to be perfect at. There no rules. Just write. Get your ideas about life out of your brain and onto paper. The healing attributes of journaling are amazing.

3) Exercise at least 20 minutes a day. Move! Do something. Walk. Stretch. Do sit-ups. Getting the blood moving improves overall health and brain function. And it improves your attitude too.

4) Make healthy food choices. It’s not that hard. Minimize starch, sugar, and salt. All three in excess are the cause for most of our health related issues.

5) Keep an attitude of gratitude. There is always, always something to be thankful for. Look around. Your life ain’t that bad. And when you figure that out, share the love.

6) Eliminate the negative mental garbage. Turn off the news channels, and turn off the radio talk shows. Negativity sells. Don’t believe it? Count the number of commercials.

7) Do what you love, or love what you do. If you don’t love it, change your attitude or change your job. Stress leads to illness and bad coping habits. If eight hours of your day are filled with stress, you can bet the other 16 will be negatively effected as well.

8) Find a creative outlet for expression. Paint, write, draw, build, carve, sew. Don’t have time? Make the time. It’s a great stress reliever.

9) Make plenty time for family and faith. Nothing is more important. At the end of life, those will be the only things left to comfort you.

10) Be present. Live each day from start to finish as if it were your first and your last. Regretting backwards and projecting forwards robs you of the present moment. And that’s where life really exists.

11) Never be happy with status quo. Your life is a gift given to you, and a gift to be offered back to those around you. Be an inspiration. Be a role model. Be a mentor. Be authentic.

Try that for 30 days and see how things change!

Your Coach, Greg Tutwiler

Mastery Of Life

Most people strive daily to perform on some level. And we measure our success by the profit of that striving in the form of a paycheck, a sales quota, or some other form of increase. But that’s not really the measure of success in life. Those  are the fruits or byproducts of the time we’ve traded for them. Life is really not about what we do, but who we become in the process. Our Western culture suggests that bigger is better, and more is prestigious. But author George Leonard suggests, “We fail to realize that mastery is not about perfection. It’s about a process, a journey. The master is the one who stays on the path day after day, year after year. The master is the one who is willing to try, and fail, and try again, for as long as he or she lives.”

So then, life is more about personal growth than personal accumulation. Really; how much are you going to get to take with you when you leave this world? All of the spoils of this earth go to someone else when we pass on. I’m not suggesting that we give up trying, become lazy, or become socially dependent. But let’s evaluate priorities and begin understanding what’s really important. Where we invest our time makes all the difference. Inspirational philosopher Jim Rohn once said, “We must all suffer one of two pains: the pain of discipline or the pain of regret. The difference is discipline weighs ounces while regret weight tons.” All we have is today. Period. Really, all we have is this moment. Yesterday is gone and tomorrow has not arrived. We can attempt to arrange the activities of the future, but nothing disrupts that faster than the arrival of the unpredictable. Are your day’s chosen activities as important as you think?

No regrets either. Mastery of life is simply, when we know better we do better. Ralph Waldo Emerson wrote, “Finish every day and be done with it. You have done what you could; some blunders and absurdities no doubt crept in; forget them as soon as you can. Tomorrow is a new day; you shall begin it serenely and with too high a spirit to be encumbered with your old nonsense.” For me, that is the real definition of success. One day at a time, one moment at a time, savoring each second of this journey as the blessing it truly is.

Mining Your Soul

What comes to mind when you hear the term soul searching?

I found this definition intriguing; “The act of facing one’s inmost self with courage, determined to bring every ulterior thought, emotion, and motive to light.” (wiki.answers.com)

Have you done any soul searching lately? Why does it matter, you might ask? “Not evaluating those thoughts that we purposely deceive ourselves to believe, corrupts our soul … the greatest evil in the world is self-deception, because self-deception preys on the troubled soul.”

Thomas Merton wrote, “Your life is shaped by the ends you live for. You are made in the image of what you desire.” Do you know what those ends are? What do you desire? Most days we run on autopilot not stopping to give one thought to the whys and wherefores. Hopefully by now you understand that the control center of your life originates within your thoughts and ideas, resulting in the day in and day out choices you make. When’s the last time you spent some time alone with yourself – mining your soul – connecting to the Spirit within, and seeking His divine guidance for your life? Every choice produces a consequence. Are you living from a solid foundation – choosing from a place of confidence – or mostly shooting from the hip? William Bernard Ullathorne wrote, “A soul that is patient waits with calm endurance for light before acting … where the mind waits patiently for light, sooner or later it is sure to come. (However) If you go blindly into action you will be sure to repent it.”

Patience is a virtue many of us struggle to demonstrate. But time and time again philosophy and religion reminds us that patience, calm, and endurance are the keys to a grounded and productive life. Those attributes come from the deep regions of your soul. Go find them.

Morning Mojo

There’s an old Carpenter’s song that goes, “… Monday morning’s always get me down.” Ever feel that way?

How did you get your Monday morning MoJo?

According to research it is estimated that we have over 60,000 thoughts a day, with nearly 80% (45,000) of them being negative. Wow! So if you wake up with the Monday morning blues (or any morning for that matter), here are a couple things you can do to shift the mood.

1) Realize you’re not alone. (Remember that 80% theory.) It’s not personal. So give up the why me dance.

2) Reach for something positive. You’ve got to squelch those negative vibes. Have some positive quotes, a few Scripture verses, or some upbeat affirmations by your bedside or on your kitchen table. When you build a campfire you don’t throw a match to a hunk of wood. You’ve got to gather the kindling and coax the fire into a blaze. Same with you mental outlook. You need a little kindling to get your daily fire going.

3) Feed that fire. As your day comes at you, so will the negativity. So feed your mind with constant positive input. Set aside a few minutes throughout the day for quiet time, prayer, and a good quote or affirmation or three.

4) And before you go to bed, spend a few minutes counting your blessings for the day. Stay focused on the positive. When you go to bed with a mind full of good, there’s a greater chance you’ll wake up focused in a happier direction.

Want to break this down even further?
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Practicing The Revelation

Spring is a new season. It’s a season of change and transition. As the earth evolves through this changing season, so do we. It seems to be at the heart of the nature of God. We would do ourselves a huge favor to develop a better understanding of this process and how it applies to our lives. We have become so used to now, now, now, that waiting and patience seem to have become a lost art.

As I try to discern God’s message to me for this present season of my life, it has felt more personal; closer to the vine. As I begin to knock on the front door of my 50’s I am becoming acutely aware that I am also being encouraged to make some alterations in my lifestyle. The late night snacks, cheeseburger lunches, and Dairy Queen Blizzards need to be phased out in favor of more life sustaining meal options and health motivated physical activity. So I decided to try an experiment.

I went to my local book store and scoured the magazine rack. (Yes, they still publish print magazines.) My theory was that I could subscribe to a handful of life-theme magazines, rely almost solely on the information obtained from them, apply the principals learned, and see significant life changes within a three of four month period. I began my research in December, carefully selecting the magazines that I thought would give me a rounded perspective on aspects of life like healthy food choices, supplements, exercise, mental alertness, spirituality, and well being.

I subscribeSummer Reading Programd to four that I believed would supply me with the right mix of material to achieve my goal: Experience Life, Yoga Journal, Eating Well, and Science Of Mind. (Also note that I am a strong proponent of prayer, Biblical application, and faith, so this will also be a major part of the mixture.) One revelation that came to me during my research recently was this:

Revelation is not transformation. We must practice the revelation, otherwise we are just gathering information without producing any real transformation. We need to immerse ourselves in the material, write down the revelations, and then practice those revelations into our lives moment by moment, day in and day out until they become our new truths.

And thus the experiment begins. I plan to share the major revelations here as they unfold for me during my daily morning research. Today is May 1st, and to be fair, I plan to give this season until the end of August for measurable results.

Here are my first revelations, and seems appropriate to kick off the journey with.

” … when people start exercising, even as infrequently as once a week, they start changing other unrelated patterns in their lives, often unknowingly  … for many people, taking time for fitness is a keystone habit that triggers widespread changes.” (Experience Life jan/feb 13, page 51.)

“Exercise spills over.” James Prochaska, RI University.

That’s enough to get me jazzed up. How about you?