Category Archives for Hope

Accumulation not transformation

It’s Time to Believe That You Can Change

The prevailing cultural belief about change is that it comes when people are “ready” or it comes only to those who are “worthy” or “special.”

That’s not true, and it’s time to let it go.

You can be better tomorrow, even though you’re weak, imperfect, and only partially (if at all) “ready.”  The only thing special about people who change is that they are willing to change.

You can be special like that, too.

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How to Be Grateful, Even When Times Are Hard

About a year ago, I was up to my ears in full-scale burnout.  I hadn’t had a real break in months and the pace of work seemed to be ever-increasing.  What I remember disliking the most about that time was how generalized my unhappiness was. Everywhere I looked was more work; I just couldn’t see the joy.

One Saturday, my son (who was 3 at the time) was standing on our coffee table wearing star-shaped glasses, holding a crayon like a microphone, singing “Let it Grow” from The Lorax.  I, on the other hand, was obsessively conveying some story to my husband about how something had happened and then someone said something, and then something else happened (you know that story, I’m sure. It’s NEVER interesting.). He looked at me and said “Ok, I hear you, but right now- look at this.” and he physically turned me around to face my son.

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I Guess We Live Here Now.

My first pet as an adult was an adult shelter cat that I rescued from the PetCo in Union Square. The night before we met, I had a dream about an orange cat who slept at my feet. Then, as my then boyfriend, now husband, David and I were wandering around the city, there he was. Now this is not the cat you think you are going to rescue – he was “7-9 years old,” enormous, and plainly disinterested. And yet… he was so soft. And his eyes were a piercing green. I liked him.

“What do you think?” I asked.

“About what?” David said.

“The cat.”

“This cat?”

“Yes, what do you think of him? Is he OUR cat?”

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how to stay motivated and not give up

It Works Even When You Are Bad at It

A few years ago I did a half marathon for the first (and last) time. I did it with friends and we would meet on Saturdays and do the “long run” together. In between we were charged with the “short” runs, stretching and strength training that the internet said we needed to do in order to prepare our bodies for the eventual 2.5 hour run (I’m what you would call a tortoise, not a hare) on race day.

The problem was… I didn’t really feel like it. I wasn’t feeling very motivated. Week after week I would show up at the long run having done one short run in between and a few of those weeks I hadn’t actually done ANY runs in between. And yet… somehow, even with terrible execution and a ton of novice mistakes I did prepare for and run a half marathon.

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I agree with me

We Don’t Have to Agree About Me

In my 40s (I’m 42, thanks for asking) I woke up to a story I was telling myself that was causing me a lot of drama.The mindset goes something like this “We need to agree about me.” Or, loosely translated, “You need to believe about me what I believe about me, or I’m not going to be able to believe about me what I want to believe about me.”

Here are a few everyday examples.

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blogging on a daily basis

Six Lessons from ^Almost! Daily Blogging: A behind the scenes look

Today marks three full weeks of The ^Almost Daily Catalyst! Seth Godin has been encouraging me (and, you know, the other 4M people who follow him) for 2 years to blog every day, but it always felt like such a big ask.

I started as more of a blogger than a coach, then the coaching took off and the blogging dwindled to maaayyyybbeeee once a month. And yet, the call of regular writing was always running along in the background like an excitable little dog.

“Bark! Bark, bark!” he says! (That’s dog for “Hey! We could write a blog about that! And this! And that! We totally have enough to write every day! Let’s do it! It will be SO. FUN.”)

Unfortunately, those thoughts were being “managed” by these super “helpful” thoughts:

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cbt decision making models

Welcome to the Situation

I am guessing that we all agree that how we think about something impacts the experience we have with it. You wouldn’t still be here if you weren’t already pretty much on board with the idea that your brain is really powerful and can change your lived experience.

Examples include:

  • If you think that you have choice about how much fear you take on, you feel less overwhelmed by individual news stories. When you feel pursued by bad news, worried that you’ll get swept away by the currents of negativity, then every news story is cause for concern.
  • If you think that your partner is genuinely doing his or her best under difficult circumstances, it’s easier to overlook the dirty dishes and/or the nagging. If you think he or she is “taking the easy way out” then those dishes and the nagging become cause for a 2-day argument.
  • If you believe that the world needs more laughter, you will see silly posts, emails, and videos as something for which to be grateful. If you believe, on the other hand, that what we need now is to take everything very seriously, those posts will annoy you and be more evidence of how shallow everyone is.

These examples aren’t here to make a case that one belief or thought is better or righter than another. It’s the opposite of that, actually. This is to draw your attention to how your thoughts create the experience you are having.

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clearing out the clutter in your mind

What’s a Mind, Anyway?

My posts for the past week boil down to one piece of critical advice: During the coronavirus crisis (and, actually, always) it’s very important for you to realize that you have CHOICE about what you think, what you feel, and how you act.

Not total choice, obviously, but a heck of a lot more choice than most of us are exercising.

And listen, I’ve heard every version of how that’s not true:

“Some people have depression and anxiety or worse, Amanda. They aren’t at choice about how they feel.” They have more choice than they know, and I want them to see if they can find some. Will their choices make them feel all better? NO. But I’m not going to let that stop me from encouraging them to do what they can to feel more at peace TODAY.

“Some people have lost their jobs and have no money and nobody is hiring right now, Amanda. What do you want them to do?’ I want them to know that even SUPER hard times don’t have to be the only thing happening in your life. Where can you find joy? What delights you? How can you get a little bit of that TODAY?

“Some people are sad, angry, and frustrated, Amanda! And what’s wrong with that? You shouldn’t shame people who are feeling entirely rational, albeit negative emotions.” I would NEVER shame anyone for feeling badly.

And I never said that exercising your choice about how you think, feel, and act during the coronavirus would mean that you will feel great all the time.
How bizarre would that be? Our world is in crisis, people we know are sick (and maybe we will be, too), and there are real worries about how we are going to recover from this economic free fall. Being present and intentional often means feeling sad and angry and frustrated. That’s totally fine.

AND! Being present and intentional can also mean feeling grateful. It can involve laughter. Sometimes it means that you restrict your exposure to the news so you can be present with your kid without that crushed feeling in your chest. Sometimes it means that you tell your husband that “If pajamas are on my body, NO ONE WILL SPEAK about the coronavirus!” All of those things are allowed.

Being alive during a global crisis does not mean you have to BE in crisis.

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not losing hope

There’s Always Hope in the Humans

In our previous post, we discussed how to counteract the negativity and fear that threatens to consume us by tapping into the beauty around you. You may not remember, but beauty was part of a three-part list, along with hope and opportunity.

Just like beauty, hope is available to us at all times if we choose them to see it.

If you’ve had even one “emo” moment in your life, you’ve probably had this two-part thought:

“What is hope, anyway, and isn’t it entirely naïve to be hopeful?”

This usually comes up when you’ve experienced a moment of chaotic unpredictability [Like that time the entire world decided to work from home (including the kids!), except for the doctors and nurses who HAD to go to work (but without fundamental protective gear) because a highly contagious virus was on the loose.] At times like that, you begin to seriously worry that things “Won’t be OK.”

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letting go of fear

The Opposite* of Fear is Presence

The opposite* of fear is not a lack of fear. The opposite* of fear is presence in the present.

Are you present to the person you are with?

Are you present to the intentions that you set?

The goal you are pursuing?

Are you present to the opportunity of now?

How would you know?

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