Read an Excerpt
365 Excuse Me ...
Daily Inspirations That Empower and Inspire
By Mina Parker
Hampton Roads Publishing Company, Inc.Copyright © 2009 Mina Parker
All rights reserved.
"Step 1. Identify what you DON'T want.
Step 2. From that, identify what you DO want.
Step 3. Get into the feeling place of what you want.
Step 4. Expect, listen, and allow it to happen."
These four steps are the gateway to a new life. They are simple, even deceptively so, as all true and life-changing things tend to be. They are also practical, by which I mean, they form a basic, simple exercise that you can practice again and again. You can practice this series of steps about anything—from finding a prime parking spot to moving beyond the resentment of a miserable childhood. They can and should form a daily practice, like prayer, or washing, or stretching. They provide some structure for this nebulous world of feelings, and, at the same time, they will help you release some of the old thought patterns that you think are helping you get what you want, when, in fact, they are most likely doing just the opposite.
When I'm in a moment of distress or disorganization, when I'm sick or can't sleep, or can't focus, these steps at a very minimum serve to calm me down and help me refocus. When I can use these steps on a daily basis, they help me unlock problems that I could never even begin to think or muscle my way through. These steps bring solutions in the strangest and most wonderful ways.
In small ways and large, enfold these four steps into the practice of living.CHAPTER 2
"Step 1. Identify what you DON'T want."
This is the easiest step for most of us. We come up with laundry lists of things that annoy, flummox, or grind on us all day long. We mull them over. We attach blame to those lists. We try to think of ways to fix, push, and pull our way to understanding and controlling those lists. We feel out of control, and our list of problems feels like the culprit. It is our list of things standing in the way of our happiness and fulfillment. So, we try to tackle the list head on and wrestle back that control, or we slump in a heap, feeling like we'll never get there. And the only reason we have to do any of this is that we have inexplicably handed control of our lives to our list of Don't Wants. It's like having a free election and unanimously voting in a repressive dictator. How did this happen?
It happened because we never think about this list of Don't Wants as what it is: the biggest gift we can get from ourselves. We think that it controls us, when in fact its true purpose in our lives is to feed us important information. Looked at this way, we take away the power of this list to control our lives.
We must know what we don't want before we can learn what we do. It's a great place to start, so stop treating it like the finish line.CHAPTER 3
"Step 2. From that, identify what you DO want."
Figuring out what you don't want is the easy part. The second step is also simple, but a bit tougher. We rarely let ourselves really want anything. There are plenty of reasons for this: we're afraid if we really want it and we don't get it that we'll be disappointed (or worse), we feel that we don't deserve to want certain things, or we feel like wanting in and of itself is not a worthwhile or meaningful activity.
Again, we have to remember that Wants and Don't Wants, in and of themselves, don't have any moral value. They cannot be bad or wrong, or good or right. They are just Wants—basic, pure paths to feeling. Try as best you can to let go of the thoughts that block you from really wanting anything, or that encourage a kind of feeble wanting of things that aren't really connected to your core self.
Use your long list of Don't Wants to formulate a new parallel list of Wants. Let the two correspond directly for now—don't start a listing of Wants out of the blue—"I want a house, I want a new job, I want, I want." That's a kind of desperate wanting and you might as well throw coins down a well. Use each Don't Want to lead you to a Want that feels right to you.
Just make the list, and do your best to avoid feeling anything about those Wants for now, because that invites your old thinking about wanting.CHAPTER 4
"Step 3. Get into the feeling place of what you want."
This is the step that looks so simple on paper, even a little silly. As if you could hear some kind of rhythm of what you want and just start bobbing your head in time. Or as if you could pretty easily fake it by deciding, "oh yeah, this feels great, I'm really getting into that place," even though you feel like crap. Good luck with that.
This feeling place is hard to talk about and think about because we rarely get a chance to visit it for real. The subject is not taught in school, it's not instilled in us by our parents and mentors, it's not even considered real by most people in the world. This "feeling place" is only ever talked about in its most extreme forms—inspiration, passion, rapture. We leave the "feeling place" to artists, mystics, and spiritual leaders. But we don't have to. It's free to everyone, and there's no special training or education to it that we can't provide for ourselves.
There are all sorts of ways to get into the feeling place of what you want. Your imagination is your best tool, and, if you feel silly using it, you're going to want to get over that starting now. Go slowly—even though we've all felt moments of excited inspiration, it will feel strange to get into that place deliberately. The very consciousness of getting there often can pull us right out of it.
Get used to the idea that you can easily get into the feeling place of just about anything.CHAPTER 5
"Step 4. Expect, listen, and allow it to happen."
Now, most of us can at least sort of figure out the first three steps. They make sense in a sort of "alright, it's crazy, but I'll give it a go" sort of way. And then there's the last one. Our normal pattern is to figure out what we want. Then, if we must, we could try to add step three about feeling something (but we're not sure how to really do that), but, then, for step four, it seems, we'd better get to business, and that (we think) means doing. Quick! We've got to make a plan; throw all our mental and physical weight behind it, trying to make that plan a reality; and, sooner or later, it'll all come together. Therein lies the secret of happiness, right? Wrong.
This step is the most infuriating one of all. Do all this work to figure out what we want and get into a place where we feel like we might actually get it, and then stop? Just grind to a halt and do nothing? Yep. Well, sort of. Expecting takes a leap of faith. Listening is no small task. And allowing is maybe the hardest thing we can ask ourselves to do. But other than that, nothing much is needed.
These three things together can subvert our whole way of being in the world up to this point. They can break the cycle of wanting things we'll never get. They can end the damaging tug-of-war between what we desire and what we deserve. They can clear the way for intuitive, inspired solutions to the worst problems we face.
Shh! Just listen. Listen and expect until you see the beginnings of change.CHAPTER 6
"Don't think your reactions. Feel them."
I can't stress this enough and Lynn Grabhorn couldn't, either: thoughts won't do it. Your brain can only get you part way. If you're not feeeeeling it, you might as well forget about it.
Lynn uses the word feeeeeling, adding extra "e's" because she really had to invent a new word, one we don't have in the English language, and that I don't know of in any other language, either. The closest we have is intuition, awareness, instinct, gut. These are all approximations and you know why? Because feeeeeling is beyond word-using intelligence. There are some things that you just can't talk about. This is soul intelligence channeled through the intelligence of a single atom.
Frankly, once you get your brain involved in your reactions, you are (most often) short-circuiting and shutting down that beautiful, pure energy that manifests whatever you want into the world.
Now, I'm not saying that the brain is some enemy—it's an amazingly resourceful part of who we are. It's by far the best tool we have, but we're too busy whacking away at our problems with it to notice. That's why scientists tell us we're only using some puny percentage of our brains: we're using them like blunt instruments, a prehistoric rock tied to a stick. And that's like using a perfectly calibrated telescope to bash a nail into the wall and hang up a picture. Come on.
The brain is whole, and our consciousness is only a small part of it. Don't forget that our own minds can encompass infinite perception (even if not consciously).CHAPTER 7
"We create by feeling, not by thought!"
Feelings are probably the least understood thing about humanity. We know what it's like to have certain feelings, but the color palate is all primary: sad, happy, angry. The few variations on the theme all come out of those basic three, and most of what we do every day, we don't label with any feeling at all. Which, more often than not, means we're walking around in one of those three colors—sad, happy, or angry—all day long with no access to the rainbow we could be experiencing.
Beyond that, we treat feelings as though they are some great, unknowable force. They overtake us; we think that they are a product of forces outside our control. Or, most powerfully, they are the opposite of thoughts and, therefore, are unknowable and impossible to examine except maybe in memoirs years after the fact. But still we're obsessed with how we're feeling, hitching the events of days or years on some vague notion about our inner state.
Feelings are not thoughts, and they are not the opposite of thoughts. Feelings are not about social mores or structures, though it is an age-old pastime to try and squeeze different kinds of experiences into a box labeled "good" or "bad," "grace" or "sin." Feelings are the vibrational core of your body and soul.
I create by feeling and I create my feelings.CHAPTER 8
"What's so new to us is grappling with this seemingly backwards concept that real Life is about feeling first and performing second. That's just utterly backwards to us. Only practice will bring the fruits of that outrageous new concept into being."
We spend most of our lives thinking that consequences are something you get because of something you did—you work really hard so you get a raise, or you slack off and get fired. And the world seems to make sense in this system, except for all the times that you work hard and get fired anyway, or the guy next to you does nothing and is promoted to the top of the heap. Then we say, "life's just not fair sometimes," and we feel we're meant to soldier on as best we can.
But action and reaction, doing something to get something, are all just one way of telling the story. Usually, we watch the big performance of events around us and play our parts in the show, and then wait for the feelings to wash over us. But, what happens if we rearrange things a bit and make the opening number all about feeling? Of course, it's not enough just to feel, but if the feelings are real and specific, and we invest in them, we almost cannot help ourselves playing out the rest of the story to our extreme delight. It's not the narrative we're used to, but why not give it a try?
Instead of thinking, "I gotta do, do, do, and that will make me feel," rewrite your script and say, "I gotta feeling in me that's got a lot of living to do, so let's see how this unfolds."CHAPTER 9
"Didn't you ever feel that there's some secret part of you that knows everything there is to know but just doesn't stick its head out? There is."
The day you call in sick (though you feel okay) and miss the major accident on the freeway. The day you hand in your resignation and a headhunter calls to offer you the job of your dreams. The day you buy a winning lottery ticket (even though you don't believe in buying lottery tickets). Call it psychic powers, serendipity, or sixth sense, or just call it your birthright. Here are five easy ways to encourage that inner you to come on out and share the secrets.
1. Get jazzed. No matter where you are, you can usually get excited about some aspect of your situation. If you hate your job, visualize how great things are going to be when you're your own boss.
2. Dream. Usually a problem doesn't need an everyday solution. Or even a daytime one. Spend some time writing about what you'd like to attract into your life before you go to sleep, and keep a notebook by the bed to jot down your dreams as soon as you wake up. You might get some helpful messages.
3. Get physical. Pretty sure your brain is the smartest thing in your body? Think again. Your body has the answers, and it needs plenty of blood pumping through it to generate results.
4. Let it go. Ever notice how you can't find your keys until the moment someone brings you the spare set? Take your focus off something you don't want and onto something you do (even something totally unrelated) and many problems will sort themselves out.
5. Bless it. Bless as many rotten conditions as you can think of in your life. Thank them, for without them you'd never know what you don't want.
Quit burning up gas trying to figure everything out; it's time to let your intuition take the wheel. CH9CHAPTER 10
"Knowledge or no, 'getting more out of life' wasn't happening and it was beginning to tick me off. Something was missing, and I flat-out couldn't put my finger on it."
How often do we feel this? Nothing's wrong, per se, but it doesn't seem like enough is really right, either. Whole generations of Americans have grown up in this feeling to a greater or lesser degree, and many of us just take it for granted, as though feeling unfulfilled, unchallenged, and unexcited were somehow the true expression of who we are. Or sometimes this feeling coincides with a major life change—the death of a family member, or retirement, or a new baby. In this case, we blame the event itself and tend to disregard the fact that it's not our circumstances that create our feelings, it's the other way around.
I, for one, have always tried to assail this feeling in one of two ways: staying in the house all day reading until my eyes hurt or flailing myself into action that may or may not be appropriate or helpful (usually not). By reading, I figure, I can get smart enough to push through my malaise. By doing something (anything!), I think I can at least shove the boringness out of my life, but I'm rarely thrilled with the results of my fits and starts of uninspired action.
There is a third option, one so simple, it is easily overlooked; so radical, it seems impossible: learn to control how you are vibrating energy. All life is energy; all life is vibration. There is more to get out of life, and the possibilities are infinite. You are not the sum of your grievances and dissatisfactions, there are more important things to play at and do, so it's time to get started.
Are you ready to find the missing piece?CHAPTER 11
"How do we do it? Don't laugh; it all comes from ... how we're vibrating!"
When we think about a Want, we often take a little side trip by asking the question How? "How is this going to happen?"
"How will I ever manage to accomplish this?"
"How should I get started and how will it all turn out?"
How is a trick question, a meandering path that will dump us a long way from our original Want. Surely to get anything done we must think about what to do and how to do it, right? Wrong. How is a question for the history books, it's a tool of hindsight masquerading as a tool of preparation.
We employ How before the fact only when we're trying to cheat at the game, count the cards, predict the outcome. But as a means to an end, How will cheat us every time. We open up our valve to a clear Want, we are happily buzzing along thinking about the great things that are on their way, and then blam! Things slam to a halt. Go back to the source of those screeching brakes, and you'll probably find a How lingering there in the shadows.
You don't have to solve the issues on your way to the fulfillment of a Want. You could not guess or divine the exact steps that will get you from point A to point B and what will happen along the way. So stop trying. Just get back to the place or original desire and get buzzing about it again. And don't worry, the How detour won't set you back far—when you get back on track, you'll probably be even further invested in your goal with no time lost, so don't beat yourself up about it.
When How leads us astray, all we have to do is remember: those aren't our problems to solve.
Excerpted from 365 Excuse Me ... by Mina Parker. Copyright © 2009 Mina Parker. Excerpted by permission of Hampton Roads Publishing Company, Inc..
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.