Thursday, August 8, 2013

book review: Manifesting Change by Mike Dooley

I’m a subscriber to Notes from the Universe (which, if you aren’t, you should be and can sign up here) and the notes are always these wonderfully peaceful and inspirational thoughts. So I wanted to read more from Mike Dooley, the man who writes them.

I also want to shift some things in my life right now, and I’m open to all kinds of methods. I’ve tried coaching, I’ve tried therapy, I’ve tried working my butt off, I’ve tried crowdsourcing… and while each method has brought more into my life and helped me along the way, I’m always fascinated by a new way of looking at things. So I picked up Manifesting Change: It Couldn't Be Easier. (Appealing title, no?)

At the heart of the book are these instructions:
1. Identify your end destination
2. Move in that direction
3. Let the universe figure out the rest for you.

Like he said, it can’t be easier.

There are, however, a few things you should be aware of as you embark down the manifesting path. First, you want to identify your end destination in vague but specific terms. “I am blissfully happy in a relationship with a man” instead of “I am blissfully happy in a relationship with Fred.” “I have the job of my dreams that brings me wealth and meaningful work” instead of “I have the VP of Sales position at JPMorgan that makes me $1 million a year.” The argument here is that the more you narrow down the options for what will make you happy, the harder the universe is going to have to work to put all the right pieces together to make it happen.

Second, you must move in the direction of your joy. It’s not enough to identify your end result and visualize 24 hours a day and never get off the couch. If you’re looking for a job, you must visualize, identify how you want to feel in your job, and maybe some specifics around how much you want to make or how meaningful your contribution is, and then you must go out there and, as Dooley calls it, “knock on some doors.”

[Sidenote: a friend once told me about how she had completely given up on dating and her mother told her that she can’t just give up. That love “doesn’t just walk up to your door and knock.” The next day, the refrigerator repair man walked up and knocked on the door and they’ve been married for 10 years. It’s probably easier, however, to be out in the world of people if you want to meet your soulmate.]

And then the third part is the most challenging part for me – step back, and let the universe drive for you. The more I read this book, the more I realized how much of a control freak I am, always trying to control when I’m dating, what kind of work I do, how much of an impact I have on the world around me. So I’m practicing letting go and, in the proverbial 12 step language, letting god. I’ve turned it over to the universe, so watch out! I’ll probably be married before the R train goes back through the tunnel!

Monday, August 5, 2013

book review: The Four Agreements

My book club recently chose to read the Four Agreements by Don Miguel Ruiz and I have to admit that when I first started it, I thought, “dear god, there are going to be some members of the group who are going to think this is a load of hooey-gooey horsecrap.” (The first chapter leans pretty far into the la la la side of things.) But once I got past some of Ruiz’ ideas about the “dream of the human condition,” I found four very valuable, very actionable principles to add to my life.

Agreement 1: Be Impeccable with Your Word

What I love about this agreement is that it’s ostensibly about how you treat others. Do what you say you’re going to do, don’t lie, etc., but where it gets powerful is being impeccable with your word towards yourself. Don’t let the self-talk track you run on the inside put you down. Don’t trash yourself for the sake of comedy or to fit in. Choose words that empower you, not words that belittle or betray you.

Agreement 2: Don’t Take Things Personally

99% of what goes on around us has little or nothing to do with us. But because it’s near us and we’re in its orbit, we take it personally. Not taking things personally hit home with me -- I’m single in New York City. Dating here is a challenge, and people do all kinds of things that, if you can zoom out and take a bigger perspective on things, have nothing to do with me.

Agreement 3: Don’t Make Assumptions

I like to operate under the saying “if you’re going to make it up, make it good.” I still think that concept applies, but Ruiz is encouraging us not to make it up at all. Ask questions. Get confirmations. Have conversations. Take risks. Assumptions and expectations go hand in hand, and the lion’s share of disappointment comes directly from expectations. Let go of both, he argues, and your disappointment will decrease.

Agreement 4: Always Do Your Best

This one is a little tricky. On the surface, it seems to be saying that we should strive, yearn, and aim for perfection. But what it’s really saying is that we should do our best in any given situation, and be satisfied that we have done our best. Not compare it to some external ideal of “perfection,” and not berate ourselves for the times when the outcome isn’t perfect. For me, doing my best can mean only giving 85% when 85% is what’s called for. And there is great peace in looking back on my life and knowing that I did the best that I could in any given situation.

We haven’t yet held our meeting on this book, so I’m excited to hear what others have to say about it, but I find the principles simple, and their application varies for me day to day. Could I do better? Probably. But I’m not going to beat myself up over it.