Where am I? And why it matters.

Because where you are matters.

matters

Where are you?

And I don’t mean simply where are you physically. Because whether you’re in Berkeley or Portland or Charlotte, where you are mentally and emotionally affects you deeply. In fact, where you are is critical to your happiness and your success. So in this brief article, we’re going to look at how to figure out and describe where you are, and why it’s so important.

Why it matters.

Where you are is an important question, because if you’re going to live the life you want to live, you’ve got to make time to think about where you are, how you got here, and where you’re going. Another word for this is perspective. You need perspective to live the life you want. So last week, we looked at how you got where you are. In fact, you might want to jump over there and do that brief exercise after you finish reading this article. Because in that article, we learned that in just 30 minutes of free writing about how you got where you are (“Here”), that you can get tremendous perspective. But why is any of this important? Because “…the unexamined life is not worth living,” to quote the ancient philosopher Plato.

Because you matter.

And I know. It’s possible that you feel pretty beat up right now. And whether that’s because you just had a fight with your partner, or you don’t have a reliable partner, or your work sucks, or whatever — you matter. We need what you bring on your best day. So let’s get you more best days. And one of the key steps to having more best days is getting perspective. Which means being aware of where you are, how you got here, and where you’re going.

So please do this, now.

 

Let’s lock in this next step. It’s like the exercise last week, with a new prompt (and no — you don’t have to do last week’s project to get the benefit of doing this project):

  1. Set aside 30 minutes — alone — where you can write at your computer, without interruption.
  2. Open a fresh document
  3. Set the document for single spacing
  4. 12 point font
  5. Once you start writing, write as fast as you can, without stopping to clean it up — and don’t stop until you have filled one page.
  6. Once you’ve filled the page — wherever you are, even mid-sentence — stop. (In other words, even though you’ve set aside 30 minutes, you don’t need to use the whole 30 minutes unless you need it.)

 Your prompt for this writing exercise is: “What it looks like here.”

 (And yes — you get to decide where “here” is).

I’m here to help.

And yes again — if you’d like a little help with this, let me know. This is what I do everyday with men who are not so different from you — smart, creative men who feel a bit overwhelmed at the moment. So feel free to be in contact with me. I’ll be sure to respond.

The 36 Questions That Lead To Love.

The 36 Questions That Lead To Love.

Is there someone with whom you would like to develop or deepen love and intimacy? Then keep reading.

love

I became fascinated with these 36 questions that lead to love after hearing a talk by Mandy Len Catron. I suggest you watch this brief video (under 14 minutes), and then consider exploring the Questions (or at least some of them) following the video.

–>

The first set of questions that lead to love.

1. Given the choice of anyone in the world, whom would you want as a dinner guest?

2. Would you like to be famous? In what way?

3. Before making a telephone call, do you ever rehearse what you are going to say? Why?

4. What would constitute a “perfect” day for you?

5. When did you last sing to yourself? To someone else?

6. If you were able to live to the age of 90 and retain either the mind or body of a 30-year-old for the last 60 years of your life, which would you want?

7. Do you have a secret hunch about how you will die?

8. Name three things you and your partner appear to have in common.

9. For what in your life do you feel most grateful?

10. If you could change anything about the way you were raised, what would it be?

11. Take four minutes and tell your partner your life story in as much detail as possible.

The second set.

12. If you could wake up tomorrow having gained any one quality or ability, what would it be?

13. If a crystal ball could tell you the truth about yourself, your life, the future or anything else, what would you want to know?

14. Is there something that you’ve dreamed of doing for a long time? Why haven’t you done it?

15. What is the greatest accomplishment of your life?

16. What do you value most in a friendship?

17. What is your most treasured memory?

18. What is your most terrible memory?

19. If you knew that in one year you would die suddenly, would you change anything about the way you are now living? Why?

20. What does friendship mean to you?

21. What roles do love and affection play in your life?

22. Alternate sharing something you consider a positive characteristic of your partner. Share a total of five items.

23. How close and warm is your family? Do you feel your childhood was happier than most other people’s?

24. How do you feel about your relationship with your mother?

And finally…

25. Make three true “we” statements each. For instance, “We are both in this room feeling … “

26. Complete this sentence: “I wish I had someone with whom I could share … “

27. If you were going to become a close friend with your partner, please share what would be important for him or her to know.

28. Tell your partner what you like about them; be very honest this time, saying things that you might not say to someone you’ve just met.

29. Share with your partner an embarrassing moment in your life.

30. When did you last cry in front of another person? By yourself?

31. Tell your partner something that you like about them already.

32. What, if anything, is too serious to be joked about?

33. If you were to die this evening with no opportunity to communicate with anyone, what would you most regret not having told someone? Why haven’t you told them yet?

34. Your house, containing everything you own, catches fire. After saving your loved ones and pets, you have time to safely make a final dash to save any one item. What would it be? Why?

35. Of all the people in your family, whose death would you find most disturbing? Why?

36. Share a personal problem and ask your partner’s advice on how he or she might handle it. Also, ask your partner to reflect back to you how you seem to be feeling about the problem you have chosen.

Should happens — and how to change from should to want — to will

Should happens — and how to change from should to want — to will

What happens to your mojo every day? Because you woke up today determined to rock it. And then should happened. And then you didn’t rock it. So — what is should? And why — and how — can you move from should to want — to will?

happens

Who said?

Because the fact is —

Even if you’re mentally healthy, you hear voices.

We all do.

Because your internal voices are the sound track of your life.

And some of the voices are helpful.

But some are not.

Because some of the voices in your head are telling you to make your bed in the morning.

Which could be a good thing.

But some of the voices in your head are telling you what an idiot you are.

Which is not all that helpful.

And some times, the voices merge —

“You’re such an idiot. You can’t even make your bed in the morning!”

So unhelpful.

Screen your calls.

So it’s important first to admit that you’re hearing voices.

And then, to identify which voices are helpful — and which are not.

Because the voice that reminds you of who you are — and tells you that you can do it — is a good voice.

That voice keeps you moving.

But the voice that says you should be something or someone that you’re not cuts you down — and is not a voice you want to be listening to.

Identify the voice.

So the first step is to identify the voice.

And this is not always possible — but try.

Is that voice your dad’s voice?

A high school coach?

Who is that speaking in your head?

Because it just so happens that there are many voices that have spoken into your life over the years.

Why did you listen?

And the second step is to ask yourself —

Why did I listen?

By what authority did that voice get into my head?

And finally — why did you believe it?

So first, identify the voice — who said it?

Then, ask yourself — why did I listen?

And then, third, ask — why did I believe that voice?

What to do when should happens.

OK.

Enough analysis, already.

The real question is — what are you going to do about these voices —

Because they are telling you what you should and shouldn’t do.

And those shoulds and shouldn’ts are killing you.

It’s time to move on.

So the main thing to realize about these shoulds and shouldn’ts is — that they are external.

They might fit.

Or they might not —

But they’re coming to you from somewhere outside of yourself and take a lot of energy —

Energy which you could be spending on rocking your day — if you weren’t so worn out before you even begin.

Here’s how to make the switch.

So what you want to do is make the move from should to want to will.

And in that light — a quick review of terms:

Should

Should is an external voice that someone else spoke into your life that you listened to — for better or for worse — and is still with you.

Want 

Want is an internal voice that expresses your own personal longing.

Will

Will is what you have decided to do with each of the moments that add up to your life.

Authority

And if you want to live your life fully —

What you do today will come from you want to do — not from what you should do.

Why?

Because want takes so much less energy — once you get used to it.

Once you get used to living from your internal center, it actually takes a lot less energy than does should.

Think of it this way:

Let’s say your first language is English, but you also know Spanish.

You can speak Spanish, but unless you’re fluent in Spanish, it will take more energy than if you just stick to your own native language.

So in that analogy, Spanish is more like should, while want is more like English.

It just takes less energy, and less gets lost in translation.

And the fact is, should will never be your native language.

Because something inside of you will always rebel against that foreign authority.

What do you want?

So —

What do you want?

Are you going to take control of your life today?

Or let those shoulds run your life?

In other words — are you going to really look at the question of authority?

Seriously: Is there anyone who has more authority to live your life than you do?

Become the author of your own story.

Remember that at the base of the word authority is the word author.

And what do authors do?

They write stories.

And just because you don’t necessarily think of yourself as a writer —

Someone is writing your story.

So the question is —

Will you write your own story?

Or let someone else write your story — so that what you do happens to fulfill someone else’s version of you?

Because when you let someone else write your story, you’re constantly second guessing —

“Am I playing my part correctly?”

And am I doing what I should be doing — to match the expectation of an external author?

Or have I taken on authority for my own life?

Tired of not being heard? Use this simple communication technique to get your message across now.

Tired of not being heard? Use this simple communication technique to get your message across now.

Not getting through? Find out why your ideas are falling on deaf ears — and how to break through.

not

It’s not what you say —

And you know this.

Because at some level, you know that your ideas don’t completely suck.

And yet —

You’re not getting through.

And whether it’s your partner in crime or your love partner or the guys at work —

Your message keeps falling short.

And it’s frustrating.

Especially when the guy next to you seems to be hitting home runs —

And his ideas aren’t half as good as yours.

But they’re getting through, while yours aren’t.

So how can you get your message across?

It’s how you say it.

It’s actually quite simple.

But somehow you missed this incredibly valuable lesson.

So here it is:

Take your great idea that’s falling short —

And say it differently.

And here’s how to say it.

Give your message a better structure.

In fact, give it a story structure.

Because — have you noticed?

People stop and listen to stories.

Why?

Because stories take the blah blah blah out of life —

And give us a sharper focus for a brief moment about something essential.

Here’s the basic idea.

A story is:

  • A problem
  • In search of a solution
  • Which tells us something essential
  • About what it means to be human

Or, said another way —

1. Start with a problem.

Just start with where we are now.

So here we are — in the same old mess.

2. Move to a solution

But here is where we need to go.

And there is a gap between here and there.

3. Make sure there is a change.

And in order to get from here to there, we are going to have to make a change.

So please do this.

Please watch this brief TED talk.

And then come right back so we can wrap up for today and send you with a new communication skill.

And yes —
Ms. Duarte was talking about the structure of a speech.
But you can use the same method in conversation.
  • Start with the problem.
  • Move to a solution — with a big enough gap between the problem and the solution so that your listeners care.
  • Make sure that it’s clear that something needs to change — in fact, that we need to change.

Get ready to connect.

There is some risk to this method, of course.
You may actually be heard:-)
Give it a try and remember — I’m here as support.
Feel free to write to me at mark@marknewtonpdx.com to let me know what happened or if you’re wondering what to do next.
Why do you keep self-sabotaging? And how to stop this madness today.

Why do you keep self-sabotaging? And how to stop this madness today.

You’ve been self-sabotaging again. And it isn’t pretty. So why do you keep doing it? And yes, as a creative man — it’s part of your nature. But if you’re ready to try something new — here’s one way to stop self-sabotaging today.

sabotaging

Who will win the day?

So first of all — stop kidding yourself.

Every day’s the same.

Sure, the details vary.

But at the baseline of every day is a battle raging inside of you.

And that battle will have a winner — every time.

And that battle will also have a loser — every time.

There are no ties in the war of art.

So who will win today?

Because you’re part creator.

And yes — at some level, it’s not your fault.

Because you were born with an artist brain, at some level you can’t help yourself.

You are going to look at the world differently than most of the men around you.

So yes —

Wouldn’t it be great if you could just join the crowd of men who wake up, scratch themselves and stumble out into the day?

Maybe — maybe not.

But it’s a moot point.

Because that’s not you.

You’re different.

And you’re also part part saboteur.

And because you’re different, your brain is taking in — and taking on — more than men without artist brains.

Don’t get me wrong.

There are days when you value your artist brain.

And on these days, you’re glad that you’re different.

But sometimes — in fact, often times, it’s overwhelming.

And so, in part to numb the crashing of too many ideas and options in your brain, you sometimes just want the noise to end.

So you become the saboteur.

You end up self-sabotaging.

And sometimes you know you’re wrecking your day.

And sometimes you just wander your way lost.

But the result is the same.

You get off-track.

Will self-sabotaging win today?

So the question remains — who will win the day today?

Will the creative side win — where you break through the fog and actually make progress?

Or will you sabotage the day and go into a tailspin that could last for days or weeks?

It’s up to you.

So if you’re ready to try something new — something powerful and life-changing — stay tuned.

Because you know by now that I am crazy about your success.

And the reason I write is to help you get your creative artist brain engaged and focused.

So what we’re about to look at is one of those clarifying skills that’s so easy to do.

This little exercise is my adaptation from an exercise from a little book called Let Me Out by Peter Himmelman.

(In fact, it’s Mr. Himmelman’s picture you saw at the top of this post.)

He has a little exercise right along the lines of what you’ve been practicing if you’ve been following these posts for any time at all.

(And if you are new to this blog, sample an earlier post here.)

Try this.

So here goes —

Hint: you’ll be doing some writing. Please read all of these instructions before you begin:

  1. Get out your paper and pen or pencil — or an open document on your computer.
  2. Consider what you are overwhelmed about today. (In other words, put your self-pity hat on).
  3. And prepare to answer this question: “Why Me?” (In other words, why are you being called upon to do what you are overwhelmed about doing today? It could be anything from why you’re doing the job you’re doing, or why your partner is mad at you — or letting you down. It can be about anything at all, with the focus: “Why me?”).
  4. Set your timer for 3 minutes. (For more on easy timers, check out the pomodoro technique here.)
  5. Start your timer.
  6. With the timer running, write as fast as you can, without editing. Just write. Don’t just sit there. Write, man! Let the anger or frustration or sadness flow.
  7. When the timer goes off, stop writing.

That’s it.

Were you surprised by what came out of your brain and out into the world?

This little exercise can bring you amazing clarity.

Now take that creative energy — and get to work on your day.

And as always — if you want to ask me about this exercise or anything else about getting your artist brain engaged, please write to me at mark@marknewtonpdx.com.

Otherwise, I’ll see you here next week.

Facing an overwhelming decision? Maybe it’s time to get stoned.

Facing an overwhelming decision? Maybe it’s time to get stoned.

What’s overwhelming you today? Because when it’s too big, it pins you down by it’s immensity. And when it’s too small, it nags at you because you might be missing something essential. But when it’s just right, you win. So let’s break it down.

overwhelming

It could be anything.

Literally — anything.

It could be something as small as whether to change your socks.

Or it could be something as big as whether to change your career.

But the common denominator here is — making a decision.

Look: you’re a creative man.

And as such, you have this artist brain.

Which means that you can entertain way too many options in that brain at any given time.

Which is good — because you can think of so many solutions.

But also bad — because sometimes you can’t seem to get some of those solutions out of your head so you can choose which one is best.

Which means that sometimes, it goes beyond good or bad — to overwhelming.

And when that happens — you need leverage to break the spell.

You need to break it down.

Break it down.

So break it down.

And you know what I’m about to say, don’t you?

Because if you’ve been reading this blog for any time at all you’ll know that I’m about to suggest that you do some writing.

Writing is one of the best ways to get stuff out of your head and out into the light of day where you can work with it.

Suddenly, it’s less overwhelming.

So do this.

If you’re facing an overwhelming decision today, break it down.

First…

First , get out a piece of paper or a fresh computer document and write out the problem as clearly as you can.

Write as fast as you can, without editing, to get that nasty old overwhelming problem out of the dark recesses of your artist brain and out into the light of day.

Doesn’t it feel great to get all that junk out of your head?

Second…

Next —

Write out as many as ten solutions to that problem that you just spelled out.

Because you’re getting ready to play the Game of Stones.

But first, you’ve got to do some crossing off.

Third…

OK.

So here we go.

Take those ten possible options you just wrote down that address the problem you’re facing.

Now – the fun part.

From those ten good options, limit your list of options to just three.

That’s right.

Cross off 7 of those wonderful options.

Come on — you can do this.

And finally…

Ready to get stoned?

Once you’re down to three possible solutions to your problem, from the original ten solutions, you’re ready to play the Game of Stones.

Because when you’re down to three of the best solutions, it can get really tough to decide which one of those solutions is best.

So now, with only three solutions left —

Write each of those three solutions out on it’s own sheet of paper.

And now — if you’d like — flesh out those solutions a little.

After all, you have a whole sheet of paper for each of those three solutions.

OK.

So once you’ve got those three sheets with perhaps a bit more detail that you just wrote, lay them out in front of you.

And here’s where you’ll need ten small stones.

Actually, you could use ten of almost anything small and available.

You could use pennies or nickels or almonds.

The point is to get ten of the same thing.

Everybody must get stoned.

So now you’re down to three solutions and ten stones.

Just lay those sheets out in front of you and start placing stones (or pennies or almonds) on the sheets.

You may have as many as three stones on each of the three sheets, but eventually it comes down to one of the sheets having more stones than any of the rest.

And there you have it!

Your decision.

Well-considered.

Fleshed out well.

Done —

Just right.

Have a good time.

So you see — decision making can be fun!

And rewarding, and physically satisfying.

Because the more you play the Game of Stones, the better you’ll get at finding that sweet spot of complex and satisfying solutions to sometimes overwhelming problems.

And as always, if you’d like to give or get some feedback on this post, feel free to write to me at mark@marknewtonpdx.com.