How Can You Stop Worrying?

Before I adopted the practice of Maybe, I used to get immediately stuck whenever something happened that I had not predicted or expected.  I wasted so many hours, days and nights thinking and worrying about how things might work out negatively that I was oblivious to the present before me. I missed the joy of family occasions, the joy of accomplishment, and even the simple sunrise in the morning. No matter what I did my mind would just not stop assuming  the worst was on its way.

In an attempt to alleviate my thoughts of stress and worry, I decided to learn to meditate. I went to the Deepak Chopra Center in California to learn transcendental meditation and as I sat in a beautiful meditation room I began to feel like I was going to pass out. The more I tried to breathe and follow my breath or my mantra the farther my mind wandered and the more negative possibilities took shape. My thoughts ran something like: How am I going to afford a new home? What if my parents die? Will my husband lose his job? Will I win the motion I filed with the court before I left town? What will happen if the meditation teacher doesn’t like me?  I actually got dizzy sitting there and had to open my eyes repeatedly to clear the chaos from my mind. My mind was racing around like a car in high gear, and both my feet were strapped to the gas pedal.

My inability to keep my mind centered is not a knock against meditation. Meditating is an amazing tool both for remaining in the present and for attaining peace of mind. However, at that point in my life, I was not able to stop my mind from worrying no matter what I did.

It was only the philosophy of Maybe that saved me. Accessing Maybe allowed my mind to sit in neutral without the fear, stress or worry. It lifted the burden of what I feared because I realized Maybe my fears might never come to fruition, and in that moment I found that I had space for other prospects. My mind finally went quiet because the story of everything bad that could happen just stopped as I sat in the Maybe of all possibilities. I could feel the joy of not knowing and I was able to be still in a moment of peace and enjoy the space in front of me.

So today, whether you are facing a tough problem at work, a challenge with a family member or just feeling overwhelmed, try to remember this idea of Maybe.  We truly do not know what tomorrow will bring,  but within that uncertainty is the possibility that Maybe our lives can improve, we can accomplish our goals or improve our relationships. Maybe can become a constant in our lives always reminding us that there is hope that whatever we are experiencing today it will change and may be get better.

Let Maybe ease your mind so you can enjoy the moment!

Do Children Need to Fail to Learn?

There is a real buzz in the media right now about how we need to let our children fail for them to learn how to deal with adversity.  The belief is that if we protect them too much they will not have any experiences to rely on or have any coping skills when they get older.

Although I find the premise interesting, I think it misses one of the most basic points.  What coping skills will they learn from their failures? I know many people that faced a lot of adversity when they were young and now they have a really difficult time dealing with life as an adult.  So maybe it is not as much about our children failing, but more about teaching them a life philosophy that will guide them through anything that they may face in life.

I believe one of the biggest gifts we can give our children is the Philosophy of Maybe.  We can teach our children that for every given situation they face in life there are numerous possibilities of resolution and within those possibilities exists a hope for them that “it could be good” or  it could get better.”  This way when they get an unexpected poor grade or they did not make a sports team or they have a problem with some friends they will understand the cycle of change is never-ending.  Every outcome offers more possibilities that lie ahead.

It will help them understand that just because something happened that was unexpected or was not their desired outcome, it does not mean that they can’t still accomplish their goals. That is the beauty of Maybe.  It builds an inner system of hope and faith for our children that even though the answer is not clear, it doesn’t mean that they can’t find their way.  It allows our children to explore new territory with the knowledge that Maybe they will find what they are looking for and if they don’t find it immediately, then the next moment brings new possibilities once again.

With Maybe our focus becomes less on failure and more on teaching our children to be possible thinkers.   Lets help our children say MAYBE!

Mark Herzlich from the New York Giants – A Man Who Lives in Maybe!

In 2008, Mark Herzlich was one of the best college linebackers in the country, an All-American. The 6’4″, 240 pound junior at Boston College was so dominating he was projected to be a first round pick in the NFL draft.  Then, at the very top of his game, Mark was diagnosed with bone cancer. He was told by a doctor his playing days were over…that he might not ever run again. He was just 21.

At first, Herzlich and his parents were in shock that Mark would never play football again. And then, Herzlich and his parents decided to explore if Maybe there was a another way.  Maybe he could treat his cancer and play football again?  So, rather than choose the treatment first recommended by the doctors: replacement of the cancerous femur with a bone from a cadaver, he chose to search for another possibility.  It turned out that the doctors could leave Mark’s femur intact.  After a course of chemotherapy and radiation, they would reinforce it by inserting a titanium rod.

Although weakened by the cancer treatments, Mark returned to school in the fall of 2009 and rejoined his team. On the sidelines, he coached his teammates and stirred up the crowd.  Then, on October 3rd, just five months after his diagnosis, Mark surprised the Boston College faithful – and a national TV audience — with news he’d just received from his doctor that his cancer was gone.  With a titanium rod in his left leg, Mark returned to college football in the first game of the 2010 season.

Then Mark was faced with what seemed to be another obstacle. He may have been back on the field, but Mark’s cancer treatments had reduced his strength and quickness and NFL scouts took notice.  Although he was invited with other top prospects to the 2011 NFL draft, his name was never called. Once again someone was telling Mark that he couldn’t play football.  As Mark saw another door close, he looked for another way to prove NFL scouts wrong. He wasted no time and immediately began training at an elite sports facility in Florida. Along with veteran NFL players and hopefuls, he ran through two-a-day workouts, determined to get stronger and faster. In late July, Mark went home to Pennsylvania for his regular MRI. As he left the doctor’s office, his mother handed him his cell phone with 25 messages and Mark immediately knew a new door had just opened.

So what happened? NFL owners and players agreed to a new contract in July 2011 and teams were finally able to sign undrafted free agents.  Mark was in great shape from his recent training and competed well against 90 other players for 53 roster spots on the New York Giants.  When the Giants opened the season against the Washington Redskins, Mark Herzlich, number 58, was on the team!

Ah, Maybe!!  Let it in to your life and see what happens!

Why Maybe?

The future ain’t what it used to be.

Yogi Berra

So how did my journey into Maybe begin? It came from an addiction.  This addiction caused me anxiety, depression, sleeplessness, and sometimes such hopelessness that my next breath itself seemed a burden. My addiction wasn’t to alcohol or drugs. I wasn’t a shopaholic or a compulsive gambler. Yet this addiction almost destroyed me, and it afflicts millions of people around the world.

My addiction was to certainty. At every moment in my life, I desperately sought to know what was going to happen next. My need for certainty caused me to believe that the unexpected was always negative. I became devastated whenever things took an unexpected turn because I believed it meant the life I had envisioned for myself was no longer possible. I continually sacrificed my goals and desires in an effort to feel safe and certain. Yet no matter what I did I could not escape uncertainty of life, and the choices I made in an effort to attain certainty always led to compromise and disappointment.

The symptoms of addiction to certainty are peculiar and particular to each person, but the common denominator is unnecessary suffering. In my case, I would lay awake at night in fear of what might be, unable to catch my breath and unable to control my mind’s chatter. Was my livelihood secure? Would my husband always love me? Could I afford my life? Were the stocks I invested in safe? Would my parents, children and other family members stay well? Would there be a largescale disaster in my city? Would I or would I not get a raise this quarter? What would the results of my annual check-up be?  This onslaught of sleeplessness and anxiety began taking a toll on my immune system and I started getting sick.

The need to know the future had gripped me as a teenager and most of my twenties were spent in stress. In my thirties, though I was at the top of my career as an attorney, I was deeply unhappy and suffering. To deal with my illness—which no doctor could identify but the symptoms of which included an array of infections, allergies, anxiety and depression—I turned to alternative medicine, to meditation, acupuncture, and any other practice I thought might relieve my physical and emotional pain. I found some tools to ease my mind, but when a big issue or conflict infiltrated my life, I still spun out of control.

One day, still in the midst of pressing anxiety about the future, I went to see my qigong teacher for a lesson.  I related to him my tale of woe and he responded with a simple story that, for me, changed everything.

Here is the story.

One day, a farmers horse ran away. His neighbor came by and said, You have the worst luck.” The farmer replied to the neighbor, Maybe.  The next day, the horse returned with five mares and his neighbor came by and said, You have the best luck. The farmer replied, Maybe.  The day after that, the farmers son was riding the horse and fell off and broke his leg, and the neighbor came by and said to the farmer, You have the worst luck. The farmer replied, Maybe.  The next day, the army came looking to draft the boy for combat but he could not go because his leg was broken.  The neighbor came by and said, You have the best luck. Again the farmer said, Maybe.

I will remember the moment I heard this simple story for the rest of my life. It was in this moment that I was able to feel space in my breath. It was in this moment that, for the first time, I had a place to park my thoughts and just sit in a place called Maybe.  In this place, it felt all right not to know the future, and suddenly I was filled with an inexplicable hope.

As time passed, I learned that this world of Maybe created hope because it allowed me tosee the infinite ways that every situation could unfold.   I realized that things might not always go as planned, but that in the next moment things would change and Maybe for the better.  I had been so busy in my life worrying that the horse could run away that it never occurred to me that he could also come back.

Over time I have come to realize that Maybe is a place, a philosophy, a seed, and a magic elixir all at once. Maybe is the part of uncertainty wherein endless possibilities live and breathe. Maybe is not a matter of probability as in, There is an eighty percent chance a situation could be bad and a twenty percent chance it could work out well. Instead, it is a space within the uncertainty of life, a space which suggests that, for every situation we experience, there are numerous ways it may resolve.  Within these many possibilities, maybe there is a chance a situation that I am facing will work out well or maybe the answer will come to me or maybe I will be all right no matter what happens. The essence of Maybe or what may be contains the hope within uncertainty.

Some people may disagree with my interpretation of the Farmer story, but I cannot deny the life changing experience I had when I heard it for the first time. For me, Maybe became a window through which to view all that can be, and within that open space existed so many wonderful possibilities that I found hope and strength to endure uncertainty.  As I began to live in the realm of Maybe, my fears of the unknown dissolved and I established a new future filled with opportunities, a future which has me realizing many of the hopes and dreams I thought Id sacrificed to worry long ago.

Maybe allowed me to successfully venture into a business I love, a lifelong dream. Maybe transformed many other aspects of my life, too, from my health to my relationships with the people I love. In short, Maybe changed—and saved—my life.

Today, as a business coach and consultant, I work with a vast array of people, from entrepreneurs and owners of multi-million dollar companies to artists, actors, writers, fashion designers, attorneys, medical workers, doormen, garage attendants, nannies and the homeless. I have witnessed people, regardless of present circumstances, who had the courage to step into the realm of Maybe improve their lives.

So, lets take a journey together into the land of Maybe, and may we all find a life of peace, happiness, hope and success. Just Maybe!