My Interview With Laurie Lawson Host Of The Cable Television Show The Coaching Game

Yesterday I was interviewed for cable television by Laurie Lawson host of The Coaching Game.  The show will air on November 10, 2015 at 8:30 on Time Warner Cable Channel 56 in Manhattan.  For those of you that will not be able to watch the show or need a little more Maybe today in your life, you can view the interview on Youtube.  I hope you enjoy it!

Do You Want More Respect and Recognition For Your Work?

young woman showing okay gesture, with copyspace

Years ago I was in a large baby store in Manhattan and I found myself standing near a very famous movie star. He was on the phone and very upset, saying that he was not getting the roles that he wanted in certain movies. I remember hearing him say, “Why can’t I get the respect. All I want is the respect. Why can’t they just recognize my work” My first thought was “Are you kidding me? You are a famous, well-recognized actor and you make so much money in every film you’re in!” But it didn’t matter what I thought. His suffering was coming from his belief that people were not appreciating his work. He was suffering like everyone else when we want to be recognized for what we do in the world. It doesn’t matter if you are the most famous movie star, a president of a large public company or a stay at home mother of two, we all suffer the same way when we want to be valued.

From experience, we know that this approval or respect we yearn for will come and go. Some days the world might let us know we are valued and recognize our work and the next day it won’t. Most of the time, the desire for appreciation and respect from others stems from a fear that things are not all right. We are afraid that we’re not who we should be or we’re not accomplishing enough with our lives. We believe the validation from others will make it all feel better. Yet the trap is that we can’t always get from others what we are looking for and must look within in order to find any semblance of stability and freedom.

So how do we alleviate our suffering and achieve this freedom? A great way to relieve some of our pain is with the mantra “Maybe everything is okay.” It helps us dissipate the fear that we have about our work not being valuable because we realize that Maybe it is. It helps us remember other possibilities are always arising even if we can’t see them in the moment. We see that we are not doomed if that one thing we believe we “need” to happen doesn’t. We begin to understand our need for approval is just a projection of our fear leading us away from our life’s path.

As we embrace the mantra that “Maybe everything is okay” we are also more kind and loving towards ourselves because we are more accepting of where we are in life. We can enjoy our work because we are not worrying what everyone around us will think or how they will judge us. We understand that things always change and we have no idea where a work project, new business venture or our future creations will lead. We realize that Maybe everything is exactly where it needs to be in the moment. Interestingly, when we embrace this mantra, we become most creative and we are more likely to have outward success. The letting go is often the opening of the path to achieve our goals.

So let Maybe be a bridge from fear to love and allow yourself to have the courage and confidence to continue the beautiful work that you do in the world.

Remember, Maybe everything is okay!


How Can We Change Our Perspective In A Difficult Situation?

MailboxWhen you own your breath, nobody can steal your peace.

About a month ago, I was speaking to my client Sam on the phone about his worry that the rent check he sent to his landlord would be late.  Sam lives in a rent stabilized apartment in New York City and believes that if his rent is late, the landlord will take him to court and try to evict him.  For those of you who don’t know what a rent stabilized apartment in New York City is, the city has a rent regulation preventing tenants from getting priced out of their own homes. This particular month, Sam gave his rent check to the mail clerk at the post office and he watched as the mail clerk tossed it towards the floor.  Sam assumed there was a bin on the floor, but as the hours passed he imagined his rent had been thrown in the garbage.  When he called me he was filled with worry and anxiety that the landlord would not receive the check.

This is not the first time Sam has called me full of worry about losing his rent-stabilized apartment.  The issue has come up often, for different reasons.  I work with Sam often on cultivating the mindset of Maybe, offering him other possibilities than the one that he will lose his apartment and will never be able to afford a different place to live.  Maybe has helped Sam through many episodes of stress and worry, but has never seemed to completely take hold in his life. Over time I have realized that some people like Sam need a “platform” mantra to gain some initial perspective on an experience before engaging in the idea of Maybe.  It is often a simple statement that alleviates some of their biggest fears so they can calm their mind and start embracing more possibilities in their life.  So this time when Sam called, my first response to him was, “Sam, your apartment is not your breath.”  Sam became very quiet. When he did not respond, I said again, “The apartment is not your breath.  Just take a deep breath and say that aloud.”   I heard Sam breathe. Then I heard him murmur, “The apartment is not my breath.”  I then said, “Sam, you would still be alive and breathing without this apartment.  It is not your life.  Maybe it will work out okay or Maybe one day you will enjoy living somewhere else someday.”

Interestingly, when I spoke to Sam the following week, he seemed more well-adjusted about his apartment.  Of course, the mailman did not throw the rent check into the garbage and the landlord got the check in the mail. But something was different about Sam’s attitude.  He realized that he had been operating under the assumption that the apartment was something he needed for his survival, but when he started to say his “platform” mantra, “The apartment is not my breath” it created a separation between him and the apartment.  He was able to relax only when he realized that apartment or no apartment he would still be himself. He could still sell his art, meet a friend for dinner, go to the gym and, most of all, breathe.  It was the first time Sam realized that MAYBE he would be okay without the apartment and it made him feel lighter.

Recently, I am amazed to say that Sam has expressed a desire to give up his apartment voluntarily and move to California for better year-round weather and new opportunities.  It is as if he has been liberated to pursue his dreams.

Even though Sam’s reaction to his apartment situation may seem extreme to some people (most of whom, I bet, are not New Yorkers!), I share this story because many of us lose perspective in the situations we are dealing with in our lives, no matter what they are.  A particular situation becomes all-consuming and we start to believe that we need it to work out a particular way for our lives to be okay.  We think we need to get a certain deal at work to be successful, for a stock to go up to be financially secure, or a for a certain someone to like us so we can feel loved.  But when we go back to our breath, we remember that our essence and life’s purpose is often bigger than the one situation we face in front of us.  We find we still exist without the situation we face going our way. We find that life usually has a way of leading us in new directions if we’re willing to stay open and flexible.

So, when you are stressed and worried about a difficult matter, and when you find yourself attached to something and afraid you’re going to lose it, try the mantra, “This situation is not my breath.” See if you can gain some perspective in the situation. If that one does not work, try to find a “platform” mantra that works for you.  Once you create some separation between yourself and whatever it is you’re attached to, say to yourself, “Maybe this is good. Maybe my situation will get better or Maybe I will find a way to accept my experience of loss and still be okay.”  Life always keeps moving. And the winds of change? They change direction. So open the door and step out of your rent-stabilized apartment, why don’t you? Whatever that looks like for you.

MAYBE things will work out better than you ever imagined!

The Joy Of Giving

Hand Giving Love Symbol

If we have no peace, it is because we have forgotten that we belong to each other.  Mother Teresa

A few years ago, I found $300 dollars on the street. I knew someone must have dropped it but I had no way of finding him or her. I gave one hundred dollars to my friend who was with me and I placed the other two hundred dollars in the side pocket of my handbag. For months I walked around with the money in my handbag not finding anything worthy of my spending those two special hundred dollars bills. After a few months of holding the money, I was walking by a deli and a homeless man asked me for money. I paused and looked into his eyes and I felt them pierce through my heart. It seemed like the perfect moment to use some of the found money. I asked him if he would like a meal. He replied he’d like coffee with whole milk and one sugar, and a turkey sandwich on club with mayonnaise, lettuce and tomato and American cheese with the bread slightly toasted. I was definitely startled by his detailed order but I went immediately into the deli to buy his meal. It was lunch hour and there were several people in front of me. I was able to get the coffee with milk and sugar quickly but needing the slightly toasted bread would be the barrier to my quick exit. I stood there impatiently the entire time and it took about 25 minutes to get his complete order. I walked outside and gave the man his food. He barely looked at me and muttered thank you and I walked away. I was joyful that I bought this man lunch, but I felt slightly annoyed by his elaborate order and the time it took to get the food, and then by his muted reaction to receiving it.

When I got home I made myself a cup of tea with milk and honey and ate some imported chocolate. As I ate my elaborate snack, I realized there is no reason why the homeless man shouldn’t want coffee with milk and sugar and a special sandwich. I thought he is no different than me, as I sat there eating my special chocolate. And how dare I ask if he wants a meal and then expect him to limit what he may want and how long it should take me to get it? Was I really saying I would help you as long as you do it within my boundaries and say thank you the way I want you to? The incident made me reflect on what is my intention when I give and how open is my heart.

Most of us have enjoyed the act of giving to a friend, family member, charitable organization or even a stranger. But I think sometimes, even though we are giving with the best intentions, we expect things to go a certain way or to get something in return. We may expect that people will receive our gifts, favors or donations graciously, thank us in an appropriate manner or that our giving will have a certain impact on an individual or an organization. We also have an expectation about the time and effort it will take to give to someone else. While there is nothing wrong with having expectations, it really can limit our joy of giving and the ultimate experience for everyone involved. Our expectations often taint the act of giving because we can never know how things will be received or how a situation will turn out. It often can lead to anger or disappointment if the person we helped doesn’t return the kindness or appreciate the gift the way we want them to. This also may lead to us giving less to a particular person or organization, not because of their need is less but because of how we felt when our expectations didn’t pan out.

But when we can release our expectations and help another person with the pure intention of just giving, it can be one of the most thrilling aspects of our lives, even when we hear or see no reaction or get nothing in return. Then we can just focus on helping another human being to alleviate some of their daily suffering or spreading some joy. I’m not suggesting that we remove all boundaries and let people take advantage of us; I’m merely stating that most of us can probably give a little more to the people in our lives without thinking what we want or expect in return. With a more open and giving heart, we can create a ripple of kindness and love in the universe – if even for just one moment. As Winston Churchill said, “We make a living by what we get. We make a life by what we give.”

As I am finishing this blog, my telephone just rang. It was an elderly lady that lives in my building. She is in a rehabilitation center because of a fall a few weeks ago, and she asked if I can pick her up from the center at the end of this week. All I can think in this moment is how lucky I am to be able to help her in her time of need. Maybe I am the one receiving the gift? Just Maybe.