Tag Archives: enthusiasm

Why do we Resist Offering Appreciation?

Last week I wrote you a note about appreciation, and I got a tremendous amount of grateful feedback. Thank you to everyone who wrote to me. I promised to follow up with some thoughts about why we don't offer more appreciation.

Why do we resist giving pure appreciation without some sort of suggestion for correction or improvement?

So often, we temper our appreciation with something cautionary, or we point out what isn't good enough yet. (This is like saying to your son, "You did a great job setting the table, thank you! Next time will you put the forks on the right hand side?")

We dilute our appreciation with some sort of correction or suggestion of how to be better.

Why is that?


For one thing, there’s comparison.

We are constantly comparing and deciding whether we are better than that person or worse. Whether or not we’re aware of it, there's often a fear that if we make someone else look or feel too good, it will make us look bad. This is the ego piece. We've all got it. Please don't beat yourself up for this – it's just something to notice and let go as you can.

A thought that can help with this is to consider, do you enjoy being around people who are happy and relaxed, or people who are uptight? You can easily help create more of the former with some undiluted appreciation. People around you will be happier, and so will you.


"Be Realistic."

There's also a cultural belief that if you just talk about what’s good, you’re not being “realistic.” This one seems crazy, but it's true – we act like only negative stuff is real, and refer to positivity as "Pollyanna."

"Don't let it go to your head."

Tied to that "realistic" piece is a pervasive unconscious belief that without criticism, people will settle for where they are, and quit trying to improve. Basically, this is the belief that if you make a person feel too good they may think they’re good enough and stop trying to get better.

This could not be further from the truth. In fact, it's the opposite.

It is a deeply buried sense of not being good enough that keeps you settling, that keeps you from shining like the brilliant light that you are.

Think about it:

People who are comfortable in their own skin, confident that they are enough, are out living their lives, doing things, trying things, falling and getting back up, laughing, loving, exploring and contributing.

People who doubt themselves and judge themselves, who don't feel like they are enough, who are feeling unsure, insecure, depressed, or disconnected are the ones sitting it out or fighting themselves for every step they do take.


The judgment is what keeps things stuck.


This is what actually becomes true when you take away the judgment:

You accept and love yourself more, so you let yourself do more of the things you really want to do.
You do those things fully and beautifully because you love them.
Your excitement and joy mounts.
You become much more fun to be around.
You have more energy building inside yourself and are receiving more energy from the people who enjoy being around you. And vice versa.
You become more and more willing to do courageous things out of love.
You become a powerful force in the world for the things that you value, the things you care about.

And all this has nothing to do with having to push yourself or make yourself wrong.

In these scenarios, you are drawn forward by what you love.

When people know they are appreciated, all the lights are turned on and things are supercharged to get out and live fully, love abundantly and rock this amazing life.

If you want to be happier and change the world, give pure, unadulterated appreciation every chance you get. To yourself and others.

Be sincere, of course. Be real about what you are appreciating.

Be willing to go first. (This is true courage.)

Leave out any anything that would diminish your appreciation. Think of it as giving sincere appreciation from your biggest, highest self to their, biggest highest self.

Want an example? Here you go:

"I love my amazing body. Thank you, body, for everything you do for me." Leave out the next line – "I'd love you even more if you were twenty pounds lighter."

This doesn’t mean you settle for the extra twenty pounds…you just start with sincere appreciation for what is true right now. When your body feels loved and you’re working as a team so YOU feel better as well, you’ll be amazed how easy it will be to lose those twenty pounds

What we all need – us, our friends, our bodies, our bank accounts, our jobs, and even those nasty people who cut us off on the freeway – is help realizing and remembering that we are enough, right here and now. Which means appreciating ourselves, and appreciating others.


We all want appreciation and encouragement, and we are all more open, happy, generous, relaxed and willing when we get it.

This is the best we can do for ourselves, one another, and the world.

The cost/benefit ratio on this one is incalculable.

It costs us a little bit of ego – which is always a good thing to shed.


The payoff will be an epidemic of whole-hearted enoughness which will change our world.


The next note in this series will be about why it's hard to accept appreciation – and why it's so critical to build your capacity to receive.

Conscious choice, conscious change



Do you wish you felt more excited and alive, conscious of what you want and living to make it happen?

You are not alone.

The well accepted model for human behavior called Spiral Dynamics acknowledges that human nature is not fixed: humans are able, when forced by circumstances, to adapt to their environment by constructing new, more complex, conceptual models of the world that allow them to handle the new problems. Each new model includes and transcends all previous models.

It’s a spiral evolution of consciousness and behavior.

We are entering a new time of exciting possibility.

We are entering a proactive cycle the likes of which the world has never seen. We are no longer victims of our environment, requiring the force of a bad situation to move to a higher level. We can make the conscious choice and move ourselves. We can move into this next level in love, rather than being pushed into it by fear.

The level of deep openness and appreciation, sharing and connecting with who and what we love.

I have immersed myself in exploring the process of human change all my life, and this is what I know, based on my own personal experience working with hundreds of people:

    •    Over the course of the past several decades, we have been taking the shame out of investigating our inner world. We are more and more willing to investigate our own deep patterns.
    •    Our unconscious patterns are what create our choices and actions in the world.
    •    Unconscious patterns based on fear create behaviors that replicate fear, which leads to short term thinking, excessive control, conflict and devastation.
    •    The technology and practices now available for changing unconscious patterns are highly advanced and extremely effective.
    •    It is critical for ourselves, our loved ones and this beautiful planet that we use these technologies to change our own deep patters of behavior.
    •    The more we choose to use these practices to adopt loving patterns at the unconscious level, the more positive and powerful our effect on the world will be.


How OK can you let yourself be?

Up until this point, we have held a dualistic model of the world where in order to change, we had to make what was true before wrong.
The conscious choice to move to a more loving way of being, treating ourselves, each other and the earth with love and respect, actually requires the release of that right/wrong duality.

You don’t have to make where you are wrong in order to move to the next level.

In fact, the next level will not be reached until you let go of that judgment, especially self-judgment. Judgment is like cement that holds your patterns in place.

This is why is is so important to come from self-acceptance and love.


The shift is happening. From my perspective in this conscious change community, it is clear that we have already passed a tipping point of the number of people who need to do this, in order to effect the shift.

My work is to support this shift, guiding people into this place of deep self-acceptance and appreciation, doing the work at the unconscious level that releases their attachment to the old cultural story of “not ever quite good enough,” so they connect with the truth of who they really are – beautiful, powerful beings here to connect, love and dance the dance of life.

Let’s dance!

To learn how to work with your unconscious mind to make the changes you really want in your life, download my free e-book, up and to the right.

What is going on here?

ben's campfire

I spent much of my early life feeling deeply engaged and alive.

As I grew older I became more and more closed down. I felt frustrated, depressed and unable to figure out what was wrong. There was nothing in outside circumstances that would point to anything other than a great life. But I kept swirling down into a pit. What was wrong with me? Why wasn’t I happy?

Why couldn’t I figure this out?


Somehow, no matter how many times I pulled myself out, I kept falling into a pit of self questioning that derailed and debilitated me.

Eventually my determination to feel alive and engaged again got bigger than whatever was holding me back.

I decided I could not settle for anything less than a fully engaged life. I set out to find it. I began following nudges from life, hoping that life knew more than I did, and would take me where I wanted and needed to go.


That turned out to be so beautifully true.

I now feel more alive than ever, with a deep sense of joy, possibility, curiosity and wonder. I am living a beautiful and fully engaged life.


What I learned

I am not crazy, broken or wrong.  I are simply human. And so are you. We are not hard wired to suffer. We simply carry two competing impulses which, unrecognized and unmanaged, can create great suffering.

On a survival level, we resist change, and have an urge to close down and protect. On an evolutionary level, we yearn for expansion, with an urge to open up and connect.


We all do. We yearn for connection even as we protect ourselves from the pain it might bring.


What you are feeling is simply the natural yearning to expand into the full expression of yourself as a beautiful individual: open, capable, curious, deeply effective, wholeheartedly connected.

This is the choice I made. I learned how to relax my inherent urge to protect, and support my desire to expand. You can too. When you do, you will find a place of deep joy, fulfillment and your greatest effectiveness.


In my book, it's worth whatever it takes. You, your relationships, your world – nothing will ever be the same.

Living a Joyful Connected Life

Expanding Willingness

What I have learned about how to live a joyful, connected, fufilling life.


How you feel is paramount.


Making the choices that lead you to feel happy, connected and fulfilled is absolutely critical.

Everything that you want in life flows from there. Here’s why:


You are not crazy, broken or wrong.
You are simply human.

You are not hard wired to suffer. 
You simply carry two competing impulses that, unmanaged, can create great suffering.


On a survival level, you resist change and have an urge to protect.

On an evolutionary level, you yearn for expansion with an urge to connect.


We all do. We yearn for connection and we protect ourselves from the pain it might bring.


Until you understand this, your entire being pushes you to maintain control. What you are controlling is how much pain you let yourself feel. As Brene Brown points out, you can’t selectively numb. When you avoid feeling the pain and you also lose the joy.


There's a deep, collective yearning to get more real.


Doing that means unwinding these old patterns and allowing ourselves to take more emotional risks. Taking the risk to open up and get real leads to the true freedom of feeling everything deeply, including feeling joyful.


True freedom is being willing to feel it all. To be fully alive, to take chances, to connect, to laugh and to love.


The thing is, the protection is happening at an unconscious level where you can’t just consciously decide to change, and have that happen. Your built-in resistance to taking those risks is a primal part of your being and the closer you get to challenging those primal patterns, the stronger that resistance will be.


This does not mean that you have to remain hostage to your protective urges. You can soften and release that resistance.


I have learned how to consciously soothe my inherent urge to protect, and support my desire to be real, live fully and connect authentically.


You can too.


This is our place of true power, deepest joy, greatest fulfillment AND delightful effectiveness.


It turned out that what I had lost, in my trip through my own depression, was myself and the things I most loved. My decision to follow what felt good and deeply mattered to me, regardless of how that “looked,” was what brought me back to myself. What it took to let go of “how it looked” (i.e. what other people thought and my negative thoughts about myself) and how I did that is the subject of my work in the world.


I’d love to share what I've learned about what it takes to let go of “how it looks” (i.e. judgment, self and otherwise). It’s an ongoing process and how I have done that, and continue to do that myself is the subject of my e-book, Just Who Is In Charge Here, Anyway? It’s free, and will come right to your inbox when you register to download it (above, right).

How I came to find my purpose


Ten years ago I felt flat, depressed and frustrated. I knew there was more to life – more I wanted to be doing, more I wanted to be contributing, more I wanted to be feeling. I wanted to live on purpose. I wanted to matter more. I couldn’t figure out what that meant or how to do it.

I was largely unaware of my inner world.

I had no idea that I was waging an incredible battle against myself inside.  


Luckily, my frustration pushed me so far that I finally let go and asked life to help me find what I was looking for.

It worked. Life took me inside to see clearly what was happening in my inner world. It led me to the people that could help me understand and approach everything differently. I got what I needed to begin to act as my own best ally instead of my own worst enemy.

In some ways, I have made this extra crazy for myself because I have been a very stubborn case. Letting go and trusting is such a stretch! Which comes first? How can I trust if I don’t let go? How can I let go if I don’t trust?


It has been and continues to be a process and daily practice.

It has been the most rewarding thing I have ever done, for myself and everyone I care about.


Everything has changed.

My relationships are fundamentally different.  I used to hide the real me, protect my heart by allowing no one access to it, control my experience and deny true connection. Now I am able to be open and loving, showing up curious, willing and able to trust enough to connect deeply.

There is no real distinction between my work and my life. I am so fully on purpose, doing what I love, that my work infuses my life and it feels wonderful. This does not mean I have become a workaholic. It means that there’s either no such thing as work, or no such thing as life without purpose or meaning. There’s just no distinction. I am fully engaged in my life and my work and they are tied together in joy and meaning.


This was not an immediate magical shift.


It has been the result of deliberate new choices made over several years. It continues to deepen and become richer. And it is the best thing I have ever done for myself and for everyone around me.

This shift has reconnected me to joy.

Now I help other people find their purpose by reconnecting to their joy. And that’s about as good as life can get.


If you feel the shift and want to find YOUR purpose here, send me an email.


One thing I feel quite sure of – if finding your purpose is your next step, your heart is telling you loud and clear. It's time.


I will be delighted to speak with you.



The Shift to Consciousness


Can you feel the shift?


There is something profound happening right now in the world. I can only describe it as a deepening into the idea and feeling of coming home. We are like salmon coming home, upstream into the rivers of our origins. And we are deeply supported by life as we do.

This shift has become so powerful that it is helping us all to swim through the nets of fear of what other people might think, fear of not being enough, and fear of how very much we might actually be.

It is helping each of us to come back home to what we ourselves know: That we are connected on a very deep level, to ourselves, each other and to life.

This expansion into our connectedness is a continual process. It is an on-going spiral that starts when we’re born and accelerates as we experience synchronicities and become more and more aware of how very supported we are by life force energy.

Right now this process of coming into awareness, clarity and joy is accelerating beautifully.


Even science is agreeing that there is a measurable, replicable, amazing force in our consciousness that connects us all and supports our connection and expansion. Life itself is holding space for us all to live according to what our hearts know and let the other fears and doubts fall away like leaves in autumn.

As a species, we are growing aware of our inner world, and the profound effect it has on what goes on outside in what we have historically called reality.

There is a new world available to all of us – a world of consciousness. In this world, what matters is mastering our personal energy awareness. It is a world in which we release control and move into trust.

It is challenging to convey what is available to you in this new world.


Most of the things I could say about being in this world sound like things you have heard many times.

What is different is the level of feeling and connection. When you move into this world, the things I would say about joy and trust and connection and love are no longer concepts outside of you, or words in your head.

You feel them in your body, you know them as your truth, and you begin to live in them as your natural state.

As you move into awareness, you see the system behind things and become far more effective, using what works and letting go of what doesn’t.

Much of what you will let go of is resistance to how good things can be.


You will release old unconscious behaviors that cost you energy, like rejection and judgment. Your energy builds on every level as you plug these leaks.

You open up and get more curious. You become an excellent leader by becoming an excellent listener.

Gratitude will become your permanent position.


You speak your truth peacefully and powerfully, letting go of concern about what other people might think. You let that be their business. Your business is simply to know what you love and stand powerfully in that.

You begin to live what you love. The more you do, the better you feel. The better you feel, the more resistance you release. The more resistance you release, the more energy you have and the more open you become.

It becomes a powerful upward spiral of energy.


It’s a beautiful new world.



Because You CAN Love your Life

I have a story to share with you.


Nancy has asked me to share it, in the hopes that it will serve you.

Nancy is an amazing gal. Just amazing. She has done so many interesting things in her life – it’s inspiring to watch her.

It’s also been confusing sometimes, and occasionally exhausting.

Because although she’s amazing, she never seemed to see it herself. She kept pushing and pushing and pushing, like nothing was ever enough.

She came to me because she was exhausted and wanted to give up.

But somehow she knew there was something more out there if she could just find it. If she could just figure out the right question to ask or find the right work or me et the right teacher.

Something I had said about never settling really resonated with her. She didn’t know what she was settling for but was determined not to settle for less than what she came here for.

She knew she came here for something good.

And it wasn’t good enough yet.

She didn’t know what to do about that. She just figured it must be time to do something very different.

So we started sorting through her old stories and getting down to what really mattered, what was really true, and what was just a story.

It’s been quite a journey.

She was very, very attached to one particular story.


It had cost her dearly in her life, because she kept looking for other people who would help her prove that it was true.

But so often they didn’t – they had their own story. They didn't believe hers.

You know those blinding flash-of-insight moments you have sometimes?

She had one this morning.

This morning, she suddenly saw that, all her life, her story had been wrong.
(Sorry to say this so bluntly, but those are her words).

She had been totally, completely wrong.


And this is what she is asking me to pass along for her:

What if your story is wrong too?


Her story was very, very simple:

"They don’t want me. I don’t belong here."


And it turns out she was wrong.
As hard as she had tried to prove it, she just couldn’t.

Life wouldn’t let her.


She IS wanted. She IS loved. She IS supported.

Now she’s sitting here in a daze, filled with a beautiful sense of possibility and curiosity about what this means, and how her life will change because of it.

It’s a bit scary, and even more, it's very, very exciting.

Mostly, though – it’s a relief beyond measure, to quit fighting the real story.


So Nancy wanted me to pass it on.

Life wants you to live.  
Life wants you to love life.
Life wants you to love YOUR life.

Life is asking you to question any story that denies life.


What if you could surrender an old story?
What story would you surrender?


Because you CAN love your life.

I see you. I would love to help you see yourself.

Click here when you'd like to explore what's possible.





"Tell me, what is it you plan to do with your one wild and precious life?" Mary Oliver

What it Takes to Alter Yourself

Are you gnashing your teeth, trying to change or alter something?


Does it feel like you’re fighting yourself – and losing?


You probably are. Consider this:


The Equation of Change

A person will not change or alter themselves as long as their perceived level of dissatisfaction is less than their perception of how much energy it is going to take to change.

Once this equation shifts, change will happen organically.

It is all about your built-in unconscious resistance to change. Your unconscious mind likes the status quo. Good, bad or indifferent, it will make the default choice to keep things as they are. This will lead you to tolerate things that are not working for a long time.


Up to a point. The tipping point will come when you allow yourself to feel the pain of where you are. The equation will shift, and your inner mind will support change away from the pain.


The key word here is “perception.”

Tolerating something you don’t like requires that you unconsciously alter your perception of how bad things are.


To make real alterations from the inside out, you need to shift this equation, by shifting your perception around one or more of the factors:


1. You can raise your level of awareness to how unsatisfactory things really are. (Quit making it OK for that faucet to be dripping, for instance)

2. You can raise your level of emotion about how beautiful it will be when you are on the other side of this, where you WANT to be. (Clearly and beautifully envision what you would really like)

3. And you can raise your understanding about how easy it can actually be to change. (Open up to  new information and possibilities about how very much is possible, in the field of energy work as it relates to change)

Here’s a key point: To do any of these effectively, you have to engage with FEELING. Your unconscious attachment to the status quo is driving this boat, and feeling is the way to communicate with your unconscious. It doesn't speak language or logic. It speaks in feelings. If you approach it with logic you are wasting your breath.

If you are trying hard to be OK with something when you are NOT truly OK with it, if you are avoiding feeling the frustration or whatever it is, you're actually keeping yourself stuck in the place you don't want to be.  In other words, admit that the faucet annoys you enough that you actually fix it.


There is a paradox here: in order to change or alter yourself you have to first accept where you are. But I'm not talking about tolerating.


ACCEPTING and TOLERATING are two very different things.


Acceptance merely means that you stop making yourself wrong. You stop saying "I SHOULD be somewhere different than where I am." You see the reality clearly, and you accept that this is what it true right now.


Tolerating, on the other hand, is saying "I have to stay here even though I don't like it, so I’ll just pretend it‘s OK."  If you accept, it really IS OK. If you tolerate, you are pretending – and underneath you are seething and tying up energy. People do it all the time – make it OK to be/do/have less than they really want. While still wanting it and telling themselves they can’t have it. THAT is tolerating. Tolerating is denial. Think about the energy you exude when you are tolerating something…I am guessing you feel frustrated, angry, unavailable and closed off. 


How do you flip this equation?

One way this happens is through a wake-up call. When you experience a near-miss, an accident, a serious illness, lose someone or something you love, in a flash you get deeply in touch with the fact that life is short and you're letting it slip away drip by drip. Have you ever noticed how very easy it is to change after a wake-up call?


I see the discovery sessions I offer as a personally initiated wake-up call.


In a discovery session I will help you shine a light on what's really going on. With this awareness, you can make an informed decision about what you want to do about whatever you're not satisfied with. You might decide to change, or you might decide to move into acceptance; I consider either outcome successful. Acceptance and change are both empowering states.


As you create awareness, openness, action and peace for yourself, the effects will ripple into all areas of your life, and the lives of those you love.



Note to my Younger Self

My Younger self

To My Younger self:

My good friend Debbie LaChusa has a birthday today, and as part of her birthday musings, she posed the question:

What would I like to go back and tell my younger self?

It felt so good to answer this question I decided to post my reply here, and then to ask you. What would YOU say to your younger self?


A note to my younger self.


As you are setting out into the world,

Remember to breathe. You are perfectly fine. Right here, right now. Whatever is going on is temporary. All of it – what seems good, what feels hard…all the feelings are temporary.

Find your own center, and stand in it. Let other people stand in theirs. Appreciate the differences, the connections, the similarities, the synchronicities – appreciate it all.

Always err on the side of kindness and connection.

When you wonder what the point of it all is – the point is to live it. To be here, be present, show up and feel it. Feel each and every moment as fully as possible. Do things that scare you. Put down the camera and be in the picture. Run down the sand dunes.

Choose to feel good. When you are inclined to do something that feels good, do it. Focus on what you love. Move in that direction.

Don't take it all so seriously. Let yourself be curious. When you feel like you've got something to prove, choose to laugh instead. Love the part of you that wants to prove, and then let it go. Relax into being curious. It's OK to know what you know, it's OK to not know what you don't know yet. It's all OK. There is nothing to prove.

Know yourself, and trust. Any time you're afraid, fall back into gratitude. Remember the times you have been supported in amazing and seemingly magical ways, and trust that this will continue. Trust that the support is there even when you are too scared to see it, feel it, or even imagine it. It is there. You will find, as you go along, that it is always there, even when it takes you years to see the "how" of it all. Trust yourself. Trust me.

You can trust life.


How about you? Please add a comment about what YOU would tell YOUR younger self!

Are you being receptive, or defensive?

Being ReceptiveGiving and receiving


Don't you feel great, when you have the opportunity to help someone, and they graciously accept and receive your help?

Contrast that to how it feels when you offer help and they turn you down, reject your offer, or take your help begrudgingly.


The whole giving/receiving cycle is pretty messed up, because it’s all tied up with power. The giving position, in our culture, is the easy one, the one that's celebrated, and considered the power position. Receiving, by and large, is taken to mean you’re weak.


And yet, what happens when everyone wants to give, and no one is willing to be receptive? The cycle stops. The givers have no one to give to. It grinds to a halt and everyone is frustrated. I chose this photo to illustrate the beautiful balance, in this case, a balance between giving and receiving trust and support. On a day in the canyon, trust and support are given and received all day long.


I teach about this all the time – and this morning I had one of my wonderful little word-epiphanies that help me communicate a new idea.


The word is receptive.


How does it feel when someone is receptive of your help?

How do you feel, when YOU are openly receptive of someone's help?

Being truly receptive is something that only centered, grounded and powerful people can do.

In fact, I would say that often it is THE most powerful position.


The opposite of receptive, in my way of thinking, is defensive – which is a very weak place to be.

Thank you for being powerfully receptive of my message.


How about GIVING a comment here, to let me know what you think about giving and receiving, receptive and defensive? I'd be honored to receive it!