Woo-hoo! After a fabulous near-month at home, I’m ready to embark on some new traveling adventures. I leave in a couple hours for Wilmington, North Carolina. If you’re anywhere near, come say “hi!” tomorrow at the Unity Church where I’ll be speaking from 7 to 9. On Sunday, I sail from New York to Bermuda with America’s Top Chefs. Can someone say delicious?
In the meantime, I’ve got lots of friends here in cyberspace who can fill in for me on the blog. Enjoy this post from Cloris Kylie. She even mentions the nocebo effect, the evil twin of the placebo effect which happens to be one of the experiments in the new book.
Take it away, Cloris!
As an avid cyclist, I’ve met most of the riders in town. Some of these athletes ride state-of-the-art bicycles three times lighter than mine. Early on a Sunday morning, I was riding downhill when one of the cyclists with a fancy bike passed me by.
“No coasting!” he yelled.
I scrunched up my face. Coasting? I’m not coasting!
I switched my attention to my motionless legs during this part of the ride. The guy is right. I am coasting, I thought.
I pedaled, and started to gain speed. Now I looked like a real athlete. My ego was satisfied.
But I had stopped enjoying the scenery.
During the rest of the ride, I couldn’t take my attention away from whether I was pedaling or not. The harder I tried not to notice my legs, the more attention I paid to them.
I thought of the countless times somebody mentions a supposed flaw in ourselves that previously wasn’t an issue but becomes an issue once we are aware of it.
I also thought of the “nocebo effect,” a term used to describe what often happens when we’re prescribed a medical drug and read its supposed side effects. We read, “Headache and abdominal pain may occur,” and moments after, our head hurts and our stomach cramps.
It all comes down to our chosen subject of attention.
The power of this knowledge is that we have the choice to align with stimuli that instead of hurting us, helps us manifest the kind of life we desire. Here are some strategies that have worked for me and might work for you, too.
Avoid starting and ending your day by watching the news. You can remain informed about what’s happening in the world, but choose to gather the information at times when it will have less power over your overall outlook on life.
Wake-up time is your opportunity to gather positive momentum to create a joyful day, and bedtime is your chance to feed good-feeling stories to your subconscious mind.
Also, avoid watching news and stories that won’t serve you. Do you really need to know the gory details of the latest murder or car accident?
Raise the energy vibration of those around you. When people bring up what is wrong about the world or about you, either change the topic or ask them what they would feel if the circumstances were the complete opposite. When people visualize a favorable outcome, they are uplifted and less likely to continue focusing on the negative.
If you don’t want to hear bad news, don’t seek them. This means no asking for details when people complain, and avoiding websites that make you conclude your tension headache is sign of a terminal disease.
Use your negative emotions as a gauge. Your feelings will tell you whether you need to switch your attention to something different. When you experience a hint of fear, anger, or sadness, switch to a thought that makes you feel better about yourself or about the situation (even if this good-feeling thought is related to something different.)
Act promptly when you realize you need to switch your point of attention. A negative thought will attract another negative thought, which will attract another negative thought and so on. It’ll be a lot easier to switch thoughts when they haven’t gained momentum.
In my case, feeling anxious about “no coasting” should have alerted me that I needed to remove my attention from how fast I was pedaling. By the time I realized I needed to think of something different, the momentum of the anxiety-producing thought had become too strong to stop it.
Create a habit to focus on what is right about your life. If placing your attention on a flaw magnifies it, focusing on the gifts in your life will make these gifts grow and multiply. As Pam Grout says in the New York Times bestseller E-Squared, “…by changing what you look for, you can radically change what shows up in your world.”
What can you appreciate at this moment? Focus on that. When I wake up, the first words that come out of my mouth are, “Thank you!”
If you choose to make goodness the focus of your attention, the negativity and drama in your life will progressively and surely fade away.
Cloris Kylie is a personal development author, motivational speaker, coach, and radio show host who focuses on the inner power that each of us has to manifest an extraordinary life. A sought-after lecturer and receiver of top communication and leadership awards, Cloris reaches every corner of the world through her blog, online courses, and radio show. Her new book is Magnificent…Married or Not: Reaching Your Highest Self Before, During, and After Divorce, available on Amazon and other online retailers.
“How is none of your business.”
Jeannie worked a minimum wage job as a clerk at a discount store. She heard this rumor that prosperity was possible to anyone who made it a conscious intention, anyone who took the time to write down what they’d “love to do.” She didn’t really buy it at first, but just in case, she hedged her bets by attending a workshop given by Edwene Gaines, a powerful prosperity teacher who makes the rounds at Unity churches.
She stood up during the workshop and challenged Edwene’s thesis. “This prosperity business is a bunch of bunk,” she said. “How could it possibly work? I barely make minimum wage. How in the world could any of this good stuff happen for me?”
Edwene reminded her of the first principle of prosperity: How is none of your business.
“Your business is ‘What do I want?’ Edwene reminded her and then asked her this question. “Would you be willing to consider the possibility that God has ways of bringing your good to you that you might not have thought of yet?”
Jeannie gulped and said, “Well, yes.”
“Okay,” says Edwene. “Should we get back to the only question that’s really up to you?”
“Well, I’ll tell you what I want,” Jeannie said. “I want to see the world. I want to go to all those wonderful places I’ve only read about and seen on TV. I want to go to the opera in Italy, the casinos in Monte Carlo. I want to see the Pyramids, visit London, Paris and Machu Picchu. I want to travel to Tibet and China. And I want to go first class and ride in limousines and wear beautiful clothes.”
And again, Edwene asked her, “Are you willing to consider the possibility that God knows exactly how to do all that?”
Eighteen months later, Jeannie called Edwene.
“And, boy, was she excited,” Edwene says.
Jeannie proceeded to tell her about waking up one morning and yelling at the walls of her tiny apartment, “I am not a clerk. I don’t know what I am, but I am not a clerk.”
She went in that day, quit her job and decided she’d look for gainful employment elsewhere.
A few days later, while making the job interview rounds, she took a break for coffee at a little diner. She sat down at a booth and noticed a paper opened to the classifieds in the booth next to her. She couldn’t help but be curious about the ad, circled in red ink.
Turns out an elderly woman who had owned three successful businesses had recently retired and wanted to see the world. Although the woman had grown children, none of them could take the time off, so she was looking for someone with whom to travel. She wanted someone who would handle all the details—plan the itinerary, secure the airlines tickets, hire the limos, etc.. The older woman didn’t care where she went. She just wanted to go, to make up for the lost time she’d devoted to her businesses.
“And guess what?” Jeannie says. “We went to the opera in Italy, the casinos in Monte Carlo. We went to Paris and London, Tibet, China and Mexico City. We saw the pyramids in Egypt,” Jeannie says. “And it was just like I asked. She bought me elegant clothes and even loaned me her jewelry.”
They traveled first-class for almost an entire year when the older woman became ill. They returned to the States and, in her will, the older woman left Jeannie a small inheritance.
So, as Edwene would say, “Are you willing to consider the possibility that God might know a few things you haven’t thought of yet?”
“Reality is up for grabs.”–Melissa Joy
As most of you know, I’m a travel writer. The past few months, I’ve been grounded. I had the new book to finish so, other than my talks in Hamburg and London, I’ve been sitting here in Lawrence, Kansas, wearing my PJ’s and finishing up the new book.
Well, it’s done, it’s at the publishers and, in less than 24 hours, I’m taking off on a whirlwind of travel. Tomorrow, I fly to Dominican Republic. I’m home a few days before a trip to northern California and then, a week later, I go to Kenya, a country that has been on my bucket list for years.
I wrote the following story this week. Even though it’s a travel story (it ran here on Huffington Post), I thought its message of international love sorta works here, too.
Important advice that travel books never tell you
Travel guidebooks have it all wrong. They tell us about hotels and restaurants and sights we don’t want to miss.
What they SHOULD tell us has but five words:
“Get to know a local.”
When that happens (and it’s a lot easier than you might think), real magic can begin. Locals, of course, know the best restaurants, have true insight about the must-see “sights” and will introduce you to things those writers of travel guidebooks couldn’t begin to know.
A recent example of this happened to me in Rize, Turkey. Rize is in the Black Sea region of Turkey and, as the guidebooks will tell you, it has stunning Alp-like vistas, ancient monasteries carved into cliffs and charming seaside villages, all of which you don’t want to miss.
But nowhere did any guidebook tell me about Cemal, Nazmiye and Fethi Yetkiner. This beautiful, open-hearted family invited me into their home one Sunday afternoon, fed me a meal that rivals the best of Istanbul’s many fabulous restaurants (and that’s saying a lot. Istanbul has really, really, really good restaurants) and made me feel like a treasured guest. Maybe I should rephrase that. They made me feel like an important part of their close-knit family.
Sure, I could have spent my day in Rize visiting the Rize Museum (according to the guidebook it’s an old Ottoman house complete with a weaving room and antiques) or the Genoese castle that, the guidebooks tell me, has its own tea garden.
But by instead hanging out with the Yetkiners, I learned a travel truth that is far more valuable. I learned about the connection that all of us humans have whether we speak the same language, whether we practice the same religion or whether we live thousands of miles away from each other. I also learned that the State Department doesn’t know everything.
The day before my trip to Turkey, the State Department issued a travel warning. It wasn’t a warning about the region where I was traveling, but nonetheless, it gave me pause. Plus, what news-savvy American hasn’t picked up the notion that we’re not likely to win any popularity contests with some Muslims? I don’t buy that kind of stereotyping, of course, but I’m a human with a reptile brain. I wondered, “Did I need to be on guard?”
Like most decisions made with my reptile brain, that question was so misguided, so off-base that I’m embarrassed to admit it here.
And to pay penance, I want to tell you how beautiful and meaningful my day was with the Yetkiner family. By the time I met them, I’d already been in Turkey for a week and I was getting accustomed to the call for prayer. Even in remote mountain villages where maybe two or three families lived, the Adhaan was piped over a loud speaker system. I had grown to love it, to look forward to it and to utter my own “wassup” to the Divine each of the five times a day it rang out from mosques and loud speakers across the country.
I also learned quite quickly that hospitality is an art in the Muslim world, a cherished virtue that encourages practitioners to view every person who comes across their path as sent to them by Allah himself. In fact, it’s next-to-impossible in Turkey to be in the general vicinity of another human being without being handed a fig or a hazelnut or a bowl of fresh yogurt made that morning from the milk of their own cow.
Hospitality is so over-the-top (commerce, it seems, is beside the point) that any crusty idea I ever had that foreigners are different or that life sucks or that the world is a going to hell in a handbasket were properly dashed against the inhospitable shores of the Black Sea, a region in Turkey that looks more like the Colorado Rockies than Lawrence of Arabia.
Sure, Nazmiye and Fethi disappeared for a few minutes every time the call to prayer sounded (to a room where they kneeled on their prayer rug) and our language barriers prevented us from burrowing deeply into long conversations. But none of that mattered. When they were off praying, I sat on their gorgeous balcony gazing over the misty tea fields, reveling in the beautiful chanting that reminds all who hear it, “There is more. There is more.”
When I faltered in trying to saying thank you (my “Tesekkur ederim” still sounds like something my 15-month-old granddaughter might say) for the five-course meal Nazmiye so generously prepared, she hugged me and let me know that she “got it” and that some things are bigger than words.
And after our feast (it’s really the only word that aptly applies), Cemal, who speaks perfect English, gave me a personal took of the tea factory (where he knew everyone and proudly provided anecdotes and perspective all guidebooks missed) and a craft factory (where prices were dirt-shockingly cheap), but he introduced me to most every one of his family and every one of his neighbors.
It’s an experience I will treasure forever. And a vivid reminder always that “there is more. There is more.”
Pam Grout is the author of 17 books including E-Squared: 9 Do-it-Yourself Energy Experiments that Prove Your Thoughts Create Your Reality and the soon-to-be-released sequel, E-Cubed, 9 More Experiments that Prove Mirth, Magic and Merriment is your Full-time Gig.
“We can only be said to be alive in those moments when our hearts are conscious of our treasures.” – Thornton Wilder
“Be thankful for what you have; you’ll end up having more. If you concentrate on what you don’t have, you will never, ever have enough.”
– Oprah Winfrey
My friends, relatives and anyone who follows my blog knows about A.A. 2.0. It’s a simple, two-step program for revolutionizing your life.
The name comes from my daily practice of getting up each morning and proclaiming, “Something amazingly awesome is going to happen to me today.”
The next step, just as easy, involves texting three miracles and/or blessings (A.K.A. awesomeness) to four friends who I refer to as my “power posse.” The only stipulation is the list has to be different every day. I like to say that my number one mission in life is scouting miracles. I’ve found that the more I look for them, the more plentiful they become.
Since I’m writing about travel today and looking over my itinerary for next week’s oh-so-exciting trip to the Cook Islands, I thought I’d demonstrate how this simple program works by sharing the awesomeness from last month’s adventure to Belize:
Thursday: Easy, on-time flights, staying on a 7200-acre rainforest preserve and drinking Argentinean wine with the resort’s South African manager.
Friday: Exploring a 3000-year-old Mayan site, howler monkeys who sound like Jurassic Park and rescuing my favorite hat before it plunged down an 800-foot waterfall.
Saturday: Swimming three-feet away from a three-foot loggerhead turtle, seeing lemon sharks, barracuda and a giant school of blue tang and being invited to watch the Caribbean cup soccer finals on an outdoor TV while eating just-caught barbecued lobster.
Sunday: Egrets and pelicans on my morning beach walk, mimosas and gelato before my 10 a.m. flight and getting home 30 minutes early.
If you want to join A.A. 2.0, tweet your daily blessings to #A.A. 2.0.
Pam Grout is the author of E-Squared: 9 Do-it-Yourself Energy Experiments that Prove Your Thoughts Create Your Reality.
Hal Taussig will never make the Forbes list of highest paid CEO’s. It’s not that his Pennsylvania travel company isn’t profitable. Untours, the company he started in 1971 with a $5000 loan, pulls down annual profits of a million dollars, sending thousands of customers a year on shoestring cultural immersions to 24 destinations around the world.
It’s just that Hal donates every penny (yes, 100 percent) of the company’s profits to innovative projects that address poverty. He lives in a tiny two-room house with his wife Norma (she owns the century-old wood frame house that was built for mill workers), rides a bike to work (he gave his car away to a hitchhiker nearly 40 years ago), shops at thrift stores (his one suit cost $12 — “It’s a Brooks Brothers. I’m very proud of that suit,” Hal says) and refuses to take a salary. He has one pair of shoes that he resoles when they get worn and he reads newspapers and magazines at the library.
“I decided a long time ago I didn’t want to accumulate wealth,” Taussig says. “Things do not make people happy. Living simply is how I get joy out of life. I live a very rich life on very little money.”
In 1999, when John F. Kennedy, Jr. and Paul Newman awarded Taussig with a “Most Generous Business in America” award, he went to New York to accept it, but rather than staying in a hotel, he stayed in a $10-a-night youth hostel.
“I don’t feel right about staying in a five-star hotel when there are people who don’t even have a roof over their head,” he says.
As for the $250,000 award, he used the entire amount to help home health-care workers start their own business. His wife Norma had just had a stroke.
“The woman who was taking care of her was only making $8 an hour while the agency was making $18,” Taussig says.
“We give loans and provide a hand up, not a handout,” Taussig says. “I’m trying to make the poor into capitalists, to help them become self-sustaining, to give them a way to make a living.”
Since 1992, when he started the Untours Foundation, he has provided more than $6 million, in loans to support such ventures as NativeEnergy, which sells “green tags” to fund wind, solar, and methane power; strawbale housing on the Rosebud Sioux Reservation and Bionatur, an heirloom seed company born out of the efforts of the Landless Workers Movement.
“We look for really innovative things that have the potential to change the world,” says Elizabeth Killough, who works for Hal at the Foundation. “Hal is off the charts. I tell him I should pay HIM for the opportunity to work here. I used to be his consultant and when he asked me to work for him, I hesitated. Everybody needs heroes and I didn’t want to find out there was a dark side. But I’ve been here seven years now and he’s the real deal.
“Five years ago, he came to me and said, ‘Let’s make Media (Pennsylvannia where they’re headquartered) the first Fair Trade town in America. I laughed and couldn’t imagine what that would look like. I googled it just to humor him. And sure enough, there were fair trade towns in Europe. And we managed to get Media as the first Fair Trade Town in the U.S.or as they say in Europe, the first Fair Trade Town in the Americas.”
“He really walks the talk,” says his daughter, Marilee Taussig, who left corporate America to work for her dad’s company. “It’s an admirable way to live your life, but sometimes it’s hard to be a family member of someone who is such an idealist, someone who doesn’t believe in a safety net.
“I call myself the unheiress. If my dad had decided to leave me a million dollars, would I have turned it down? Absolutely not. But what he left me is something much richer and that is the ability to live what you believe in and put your money where your mouth is. It’s all well and good to talk about living simply, but it’s a whole other thing to live it.”
“Money is the least important thing a parent can give a child. My dad gave me integrity, a sense of humor and a sense of purpose,” Marilee says.
Marilee says the company itself is a real reflection of her dad’s beliefs. “It’s a nontouristy way of traveling.” He believes foreign travel means more if the traveler can live like the locals.
Taussig contends “Americans don’t really want to be herded about like sheep or cattle.”
His loyal customers, many who return year after year, agree.
“We’ve been on escorted bus tours, cruises, the kind of thing where they take you to a hotel, tell you to put your bags out by 6 and be at the bus by 7:01. But Untours are completely different,” says Jerry Nolan, a retired doctor from North Carolina. “There’s nothing quite so informative and educational as traveling with Untours. You become kissing cousins with the locals.”
As a boy, Taussig lived in a log house on a cattle ranch in Colorado. His mother made his underwear from flour sacks. After getting a college degree, he tried to get into the cattle business, but invested all his money in a bull that was sterile.
“I went broke and got fired before I found my calling,” Taussig says.
Taussig taught history at a high school for 10 years before taking a yearlong sabbatical throughout Europe. He and Norma and Marilee rented apartments, shopped in village markets and traveled by foot, bicycle, train, bus and boat.
“That was an educationally important year for me. It got me in deep touch with other cultures,” Taussig says. He wrote a book called <em>Shoestring Sabbaticals</em> and came up with the idea for Untours: a travel agency that enabled tourists to get to know a place intimately.
What does he think about AIG CEO’s making $17 million, Merrill Lynch brokers bringing in $32 million?
“I’m glad these issues are now being discussed. Piling up money doesn’t bring happiness. Having a huge bank account doesn’t produce a profound contentment in life,” Taussig says. “Wealth gets in the way of human kindness, joy and peace.”
To find out more about traveling with Untours, click here.