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How to LIVE

Arches National Park

Here we are again, another year just beginning. What will 2014 hold for you? Will this be the year you finally stick with that diet and lose weight? Will you work up the courage and determination to make those life-changes you’ve been promising yourself (and others) … what is in store for you in this brand new year?

You’ve read the book and seen the movie – maybe a bunch of them. They tell you all about how to reach your goals. You know how to do it: Decide what you want, write it down, put a date on it, work out the steps you need to take, and get started.

But why do you end one year and begin the next still trying to make the same changes you wanted to make last year, and the year before that, and the year before that …

Beginners blame something on the outside

NASA rocket launch
NASA launch, public domain

If you ask someone why he or she is in such a shape, and you get back a litany of complaints about how someone or something else is the problem … you know you’re speaking with a person who is definitely NOT going to make the change.

Here’s why: If my problem is dependent on someone or something else changing, then I have absolutely no power over the situation. I am sunk.

If my wife causes me to drink too much, I’m not going to sober up until she’s gone. Then, when she is finally fed up and hits the road, I’ll drink because she left me. You know the drill. It’s a sad story, repeated over and over and over again.

If you can’t lose weight because your husband won’t go on that new low, high, or mid-carb diet with you – well, of course it’s his fault. You’re 50 lbs too heavy and getting bigger every day; the nerve of that guy not helping you out.

First requisite for change: Accept personal responsibility for your own life

I know it sounds strange. Who else is responsible for you? That’s a really good question. Get off by yourself somewhere, some day.

Think about it. Who do you need to please? Who absolutely must be pleased with you?

And what would happen if you stepped out of the game … not to go hog wild, but to shoulder the burden of your own decisions and to do what you do because that is what YOU CHOOSE to do?

Try it sometime; you will be amazed at what you discover about you.

But here’s the real secret to getting to where you want to go

It’s an old, old story. Maybe it’s a Buddhist koan. Maybe an ancient Christian parable.

It goes like this:

A Pilgrim had been on the road for years, looking for three things: The Holy Mountain, The Teacher, and the Way. Only the true Teacher, you see, would know the Way … and the only place the Teacher could possibly be found, reasoned the Pilgrim, is on the Holy Mountain.

Nearing exhaustion, dehydrated, almost ready to give up, the Pilgrim happened upon a shack, near a rock wall, on the edge of the desert. An Old Man sat there, relaxing in the shade.

Falling to his knees, the Pilgrim pleaded with the Old Man, “Please, please tell me … how do I get to the Holy Mountain?”

“It is easy, my son,” said the Old Man, “just keep walking in that direction.”

And that is the answer we seek – a sure-fire way to reach our goals

Do you want to lose weight, but can’t quite manage to go long without binging on chocolate cake? Don’t give in to despair.

When you fail (and you will fail), just get back up and keep walking towards the Mountain.

Is there a personal life change you need to make – something that has been holding you back for years? Fix your eyes on the Mountain and keep walking in that direction.

The enemy is not inside, not outside, of you

Maybe gut flora really does have much to do with the physical craving. The idea certainly makes sense (at least, to me). The trillions of microcosms that live inside you need to be fed regularly – and they love the things that make you fat and sick. That’s my theory, at least. The science is still new. Much more needs to be known.

If over-eating or over-drinking or over-anything physical has something to do with the battle you are fighting, take a hard look at the emerging research concerning probiotics.

There is a second source of opposition inside of you. It comes in the form of a voice: self-talk that says, “You will never make it. You’re a loser. You don’t stand a chance.”

I first identified that voice, that “inner critic,” while working to help vitalize a business incubator for entrepreneurs. It was on Navajo land, in southern Utah. The federal government made a considerable investment in property and personnel there, but only one business start-up was taking advantage of the facility.

I’ve told the story elsewhere, but the bottom line is that the people and region were not lacking in ideas, ambition, or resources: the only thing I could find missing was hope. There, in one of the poorest parts of the country, it was tough to stand up and keep trying – or even to believe that change was possible.

Combining techniques garnered from NASA and the U.S. Army, I was able to put together a method to confront the voice of defeat. I deemed it the LIVE method.

Here’s how to LIVE

When that inner voice starts sounding off inside, the typical reaction is to agree with it as if it were the voice of God. “Yep, you’re right. My case is hopeless. I will never, ever solve this problem.”

And we let it go at that. But there is a better way – a way that, if you try it long enough, can turn that inner critic into your best friend.

Here’s how:

Listen: The next time you hear the inner critic, don’t agree with it and don’t run from it … just listen. When the voice has finished its tirade against you, smile and say “Thank you.” And that’s all.

Inquire: The voice has not only told you all about your past, but is has predicted your future. Don’t you think that’s a little much? Ask the voice how it can do that. Say, “You’re right that I failed last year, but that doesn’t mean I will fail this year. Things change. People change. I CAN CHANGE!.”

Verbalize: Say it out loud, “My past does not predict my future. I will keep trying. I won’t be defeated. I will keep walking towards the Mountain, and I won’t back down.”

Explore: Try living in that reality. You aren’t tied to your past, and you aren’t tied to pleasing anyone else. You know what is within you. You know your Dream. LIVE it … starting right now.

Don’t wait any longer to accept your own life and the responsibility for your life. Stop blaming others. Stop listening to the voice that says you can’t, and keep walking towards the Mountain.

Simply LIVE.

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