This is one in a series of adventures in which I undertake a new and exciting pilgrimage journey to a local religious, cultural, or historic landmark in my immediate area. The purpose of these mini-expeditions is to deepen my faith while broadening my horizons of what it means to live an embodied and committed spiritual life. Feel free to add to the discussion in the comments section below.
A Torah Trek
Founded in 1903, Temple B'nai Israel is the first permanent Jewish house of worship in Oklahoma. It's a vibrant center for Reform Judaism, is inclusive and diverse, and welcomes people from all backgrounds to worship, study, and participate in meaningful acts of service. With a strong focus on social justice and community engagement, I knew that Temple B'nai was a place I wanted to visit. I set out on my pilgrimage walk just before Thanksgiving Day in the fall of 2017. My intention was to stay open to new experiences and to practice gratitude on the way there and back.
A neighborhood gratitude tree, a busy Oklahoma freeway, a tree sparing sidewalk,
a local hospital complex, and the Torah
Along the Way
During my walk, I passed through quiet neighborhoods, across busy byways, alongside a street construction zone, and past businesses and convenience stores. There were very few fellow travelers out on foot because it was mid-morning, and cold. But the skies were blue, the sun was bright, and there were opportunities for gratitude all along the way.
In one of the neighborhoods, I noticed a tree that had sticky notes tacked to it, with extra pens and paper placed on the ground nearby. As I got closer, I read the notes which had been left by others. They said things like, "I'm thankful for my wonderful family," and "I'm grateful for my dog," and "I'm thankful for everything I have." It was a gratitude tree! I was surprised, because this was early into my trip and already gratitude was a part of the journey. The spirit of Thanksgiving was in the air. This small act of intentionality was a sign to me of the good things that surround us everyday, if we only take the time and energy to look for them.
Down the road, I also passed by a community sidewalk which was purposely constructed around an existing tree. A small detail, but one that could make a big impact. The tree is a live oak and its leaves stay green all year round. It provides shade to people waiting for the bus during the hot summer months, and it gives a burst of green during the fall and winter when other trees and plants have gone dormant. The tree could have easily been removed, but it wasn't, and as a result people will benefit from this small and generous act for years to come.
The large wooden doors leading into the main sanctuary
When I arrived at the temple, I was struck by the beauty of the woodwork throughout the facility. Large panels, sturdy doors, and entire walls lined with natural wood all made a strong and warm impression on me. In an age of manufactured products and disposable materials, it was refreshing to see a more timeless element prominently included.
The Holocaust remembrance room
One of the most moving experiences of my journey was being able to visit the Holocaust remembrance room inside the temple complex. An eternal fountain has water that flows across words of sorrow and hope and then out into the world underneath a glass wall. I spent time studying the faces of actual temple members and their families who lost their lives through the atrocities committed during World War II. The room is constructed to resemble a concentration camp bunkhouse, which adds a chilling and poignant effect. We all must remember the pain from the past, while carrying hope for the future.
“I swore never to be silent whenever and wherever human beings endure suffering and humiliation. We must always take sides. Neutrality helps the oppressor, never the victim. Silence encourages the tormentor, never the tormented."
- Elie Wiesel
The temple's historical marker from the State of Oklahoma
Talking the Walk
During my visit, I had the pleasure of sitting down for an interview with Temple B'nai Rabbi Vered Harris. Listen to the inspiring and thought provoking conversation below, as Rabbi Harris and I discuss the following questions:
Me and Rabbi Vered Harris in front of her office library
"A religious man is a person who holds God and man in one thought at one time, at all times, who suffers harm done to others, whose greatest passion is compassion, whose greatest strength is love and defiance of despair."
- Abraham Joshua Heschel
What does it mean to you to live an embodied and committed spiritual life? Share your thoughts in the comments below!
Charles Gosset is a Certified Professional Life and Leadership Coach (ACC, CPC) and founder of Full Integration Coaching, LLC. He helps big-hearted people with huge drive lead exceptional lives. You can find out more about him and the transformational services he offers by visiting: www.fullintegrationcoaching.com.
Image: Kevin & Amanda
Nothing can bring us together quite like the holidays. And nothing can tear us apart quite like them either. Seasons greetings can become glad it's only once a year in the twinkling of an eye. The family moments we hoped to cherish while sipping a hot cup of pumpkin spice latte can be replaced by binge watching Netflix alone while eating an entire pumpkin pie. Not what we had in mind. So, what happens to turn the holidays into stress-filled marathons of overdoing instead of opportunities for creating meaningful memories?
Too much of a good thing
I've identified what I believe to be the biggest reasons that stress dominates the holidays, and they all share one thing in common: too much of a good thing. Too much to do, too much to buy, too much to see, and too much to be. Taken in moderation, each of these factors has a lot to offer the Buddy the Elf inside all of us. But when we overdo, they turn on us and bring out our inner Scrooge.
1.) Too much to do. There's really no need to explain this one. We all have too much to do and not enough time to get it all done. If we don't learn to prioritize our time and energy, then we become victims of the demands that we place on ourselves and others. This leaves us feeling burned out, resentful, and disconnected from the spirit of the season.
2.) Too much to buy. The pressure we feel to buy the perfect gift for others can create an inner conflict that throws us into a state of anxiety and guilt. We look at the price tags and know we can't afford these things, but we buy them anyway. We can end up racking up debt that leaves us feeling financially overwhelmed and out of control.
3.) Too much to see. More people travel during the winter holidays than virtually any other time of year, with Thanksgiving being the busiest time of all. Fewer and fewer families live close to one another now, so spending time together means hitting the road or catching a flight. Adding to the stress of travel is the fact that many families plan activities as part of a larger holiday vacation, which can disrupt schedules, stretch the budget, and leaves less time for quality conversations.
4.) Too much to be. There are those of us who feel like we have to be everything to everyone during the holidays, and that can take a toll. The truth is that we can't possibly meet everyone else's needs or expectations of us, just like they can't meet all of ours. Plus, family dynamics from the ghost of Christmas past can force us into older versions of ourselves when parents, children, and friends aren't able to accept us for who we are today. This can make us want to head for the hills instead of the dinner table.
(To be fair, there are also other important factors that can cause holiday stress, such as painful losses, family dysfunction, and past trauma that are all heightened during the holiday season. Even so, understanding the four factors above can help us to reduce stress and experience a saner season.)
Taken in moderation, each of these things has a lot to offer the Buddy the Elf inside all of us. But when we overdo, they turn on us and bring out our inner Scrooge.
Charles Gosset is a Certified Professional Life and Leadership Coach (CPC) and founder of Full Integration Coaching, LLC. He helps big-hearted people with huge drive lead exceptional lives. You can find out more about him and the transformational services he offers by visiting: www.fullintegrationcoaching.com.
The opportunity: Poor goal setting strategies are often to blame.
The solution: Use these 10 steps for goal setting success and make 2016 the best year yet!
Why New Year's resolutions don't work
1.) No clear plan
You may have heard the quote attributed to Benjamin Franklin that goes, "Failing to plan is planning to fail." Similarly, the French author Antoine de Saint Exupéry is credited with saying, "A goal without a plan is just a wish." Nothing rings truer when it comes to setting and keeping your goals. No matter how determined, motivated, and heartfelt you are, if you don't have a plan then you won't have success.
2.) "Should do's" versus "Want to's"
There's a big difference between doing something that you think you "should do" versus doing something because you genuinely "want to." Most often, when you believe you "should" do something, you're not really that into it for one reason or another. For example if you say, "I 'should' lose 10 pounds," you could mean that you don't actually want to do it, but that you might look more like the airbrushed picture on the cover of the magazine if you did. On the other hand if you say, "I 'want' to lose 10 pounds," you could be saying that you would like to lose the extra weight so that you can feel healthier, have more energy, and fit into those pants you love.
So many of the goals we set for ourselves are unrealistic and therefore unachievable from the start. You might have a goal for yourself that is so complicated that you'd need Albert Einstein to come back from the dead and invent a new equation to solve it. As he famously said, "If you can't explain it simply, you don't understand it well enough." Or, if it's not too complicated, you may be making yourself wait too long to experience small victories along the way to a larger one. This can be frustrating and can sap your motivation to stay the course. You may also be forgetting to prioritize your goals effectively, which can leave you spinning and chasing something just outside of your grasp. Last, but not least, you might feel like you either want it all right now or not at all. This is possibly the most challenging culprit in setting unrealistic goals and takes a complete change in mindset to overcome.
If you don't have a plan then you won't have success.
4.) The inner critic
The inner critic is that small voice inside that tells you that you can't do it, you're not good enough, and that you shouldn't even try because you might fail. It's the inner judge, jury, and executioner of your biggest goals and most important dreams. As I wrote in a previous post, your inner critic is looking for what's wrong, what's missing, what's impossible. Instead of listening to this unwelcome intruder, learn to tap into your inner champion which is the voice inside of you that knows better. If you only listen to your inner critic, it will continue to dominate your thought life, keeping you from ever fully accomplishing your goals.
5.) No passion or purpose
Setting goals is more than just the mechanical work of thinking them up, writing them down, and working them out. They should also be relevant to who you are and to what moves your soul. One inspiring quote from an unknown author says, "Purpose is the reason for your journey. Passion is the fire that lights the way." I love this! Think of purpose as your big "Why?" and passion and your big "Wow!" When you lack a sense of purpose or passion, staying motivated is often an uphill battle. But, when you can stay connected with your sense of purpose and passion in relation to your goals, then you can keep the fire going to the end without burning out or extinguishing the flame.
6.) Quitting before the miracle happens
I've done it, you've done it, we've all done it. We give up too soon because we can't see the end of the road and we think it will never come. One reason for this is not acknowledging your progress along the way. When you don't give yourself credit for your small accomplishments, it's just like they never even happened as far as your mind is concerned. What you pay attention to grows, and what you ignore fades and dies. Be sure to recognize your progress as you go and you'll last longer. Another reason we quit too soon is that we might think it only takes about 21 days to form a new habit based on information from a couple of decades ago. This is no longer true. The newest research shows that it actually takes us more like 66 days, which is just about 2 months. Give yourself more time to reach your goals and you increase your chances of attaining them. And likely the biggest reason we give up early is that we have little or no accountability to another person. Get an accountability partner that you can trust to keep you honest, encouraged, and on target and you are saying YES to success.
Purpose is the reason for your journey. Passion is the fire that lights the way.
10 steps for goal setting success
1.) Forget resolutions! Set goals instead.
Give up on those tired old ways of making changes in your life and start over with an all new approach to goal setting success.
2.) Do it because you want to.
Throw out the "should do's" and let in the "want to's." Make the goals you set for yourself something that you want to do - at least mostly. The more you honestly want to make a change, the more motivated you will be in seeing it all the way through.
3.) Practice being grateful for the good stuff you already have.
Instead of focussing on what's missing from your life, focus on what you already have to be grateful for. Good health, good friends, enough food to eat, water to drink, clothes to wear, the kindness of a stranger, the warmth of the sun, the beauty of your lover, the wonder in your children's eyes, and the list goes on and on. Start small and build from there. Take opportunities for noticing what is good and right in the world. It goes a long way toward helping you feel more satisfied with your life as it is now, while you pursue your goals and dreams into an even better future.
4.) Connect with your values and sense of purpose and passion.
Remember that your goals should move you on a deeper level than just your brain. Take your heart with you and you'll be able to go the distance. Tap into your most important personal guiding principles, deepest reasons for why you have your goals, and the inspiring feelings that keep your fire burning to pursue them. Then there's no holding you back! If you're unsure about what your real goals are, start here and then develop goals that really move you.
5.) Clearly define a specific outcome you want to achieve for each of your goals.
Be as crystal clear as you possibly can about the results you want to see from your goals. Don't settle for any wishy-washy outcomes. Dig in and state your expectations in a way that leaves no room for doubt.
6.) Ensure that your goals are realistic but also require you to stretch.
No need to be an Einstein here. Simplify the scope and scale of your goals, and then simplify again if necessary. Make sure that your goals feel doable, but that they also make you wonder just a bit if you can really do it. That's the sweet spot. If you have absolutely no doubts, it could mean that your confidence is soaring or that your goal is not quite enough to challenge you. Only you can know that for sure. Either way, keep stretching but stay flexible. Allow yourself time to complete your goal and adjust the timeline as needed. And remember to acknowledge your progress all along the way!
7.) Make a clear commitment to yourself and share with an accountability partner.
You've come this far. It's time to take responsibility for your goals by fully committing to the process, and by sharing your commitment with someone you can count on to help you stay the course. The goals you set should be easy to understand and progress should be measurable in some form or another. When you're choosing someone to help hold you accountable, pick a person that works for your personality and preferences. If you need someone to chew you out when you slack off, go for it. That's not my style, so I make sure to choose someone who is honest, insightful, supportive and caring, but that also will not let me off the hook! As coach, this is the way I prefer to help hold my clients accountable to their goals and dreams.
8.) Prioritize it. Schedule it. Do it. Repeat.
Change is hard no matter how motivated you are. You have to make your goals a high priority, and that may mean letting go of other important things in your life for a while. This can be tough for sure, but remember how great it will feel when you can look back and say, "I did it!" In order to get on track, and stay there, you have to schedule tasks associated with your goals. There's no way around it, so don't even try. Suck it up and do the work of blocking out and protecting the time you need to work on your goals. Then do it. No matter what. No excuses. Just do it. And repeat. Although getting used to a new routine takes a little while, it doesn't take nearly as long as giving up now and having to start over again.
9.) Regularly acknowledge your successful progress and share it with others.
This is something a lot of us struggle to do, but it's so important to your success. Don't cheat yourself out of all of the time and energy you've put into your goals. When you make progress, take note of it and tell your accountability partner. If they are excited and happy for you, then you picked a good partner. If not, then pick someone else. You deserve to acknowledge the changes you're making, and don't let anyone tell you otherwise. Also share your progress with close friends, select co-workers, and a few family members. Above all, allow yourself to experience the feelings of pride and accomplishment for all of your hard work!
10.) Celebrate each and every goal that you achieve. Include friends or family.
When you do achieve your goals (and you WILL), make an event out of it. Have a party at home, a big night out, or take a trip somewhere you've always wanted to go. Invite friends and family and turn it into something you'll always remember. This helps to bring a sense of closure to your goal and enables you to consciously realize that you made it. Celebrating will also encourage you to continue with this goal into the future if it's a long term change, and will boost your sense of confidence about pursuing your next goal. This is the sweet taste of success. Now celebrate it!
- Mark Twain
The opportunity: It doesn't have to be like this.
The solution: Use these 6 steps to challenge your beliefs and create new ones that support your success.
You are what you believe
Beliefs are really just thoughts - thoughts that you accepted as being true, correct, or right at some point in the past. Once you accept an idea as being true, then you develop a belief. Over time, your beliefs often bury themselves in your subconscious mind where they quietly guide your worldview and actions for years to come. This is tremendously beneficial for you when your beliefs are supporting you and serving you well. But, this can also be painfully destructive and confusing for you when your beliefs only serve to hold you back in ways that you're not consciously aware of today.
Do you believe that?
Here are some examples of common limiting beliefs:
- If I show my emotions, everyone will think that I'm weak.
- The only way to get ahead is to fight my way to the top.
- I can't trust others to do what they say they will do.
- If I ever become successful I will lose it all quickly.
- This world is never fair to good people.
- There are not enough resources for everyone so I need to get all I can.
- I don't deserve to be happier than I am now.
If a belief is supportive and beneficial, it will lead to successful living.
You might be able to see how the beliefs above can put limits on what you think is possible for you in life. For example, if you truly believe that whenever you show your emotions others will think that you're weak, then you will deny or bury your feelings until they finally overwhelm you. If you can't trust others to do what they say they will do, then you're constantly suspicious of others or taking care of their responsibilities for them. If you don't believe that you deserve to be happier that you are now, then you may be settling when you could be soaring.
6 Tips for Building Better Beliefs
The first step in overcoming your limiting beliefs is to identify the ones that you have now. Use the examples above as a guide to get you started. Try to list 3-5 beliefs that you accept about yourself, life in general, or other people that limit you in some important way. Define how they limit you specifically.
Next, find out where you got each of your beliefs from. Did you think this belief up yourself? Did you inherit it from a parent, family member, partner, friend, co-worker, etc.? How did you come to believe this? If you're not sure, keep these questions in mind as you move on.
Now it's time to find out if what you believe is actually true. Is it true, correct, or right for you? Is it supportive and beneficial to you (and others)? Does it lead to successful living? How? In what ways does this belief help you when you need to make an important choice?
Try letting go of the ways you have identified with your beliefs so that you can gain more perspective on them. For example, instead of saying, "I believe (something)..." try saying, "I notice that I believe (something)...." When you can notice a belief from this more objective point of view, then you will not take it so personally and it will not have the same power to define who you choose to become.
Once you've had some time to define your limiting beliefs and to see the specific ways they negatively affect your life, then you need to decide if they are worth keeping anymore. How does the belief really affect you? What would be different if you believed something else? What would it take for you to choose a new, more supportive and empowering belief?
When you've decided that you have a limiting belief that you're ready to get rid of, it's time to create some new beliefs that will support your success in life. To do this, list 3-5 new beliefs that could replace the old limiting belief. Ask yourself: Is it supportive? Is it empowering? Will it work for me? When will I use it? How will I use it?
When you've created your new beliefs, try them out in your daily life and pay attention to how and when you use them. Ask yourself: What were the results? What did I like? What would I change next time? Would I use this belief again in this way? Finally, repeat the process over a period of time to see how your new beliefs are serving you. Celebrate your victories and enjoy a more successful, fulfilling life!
If you would like help in overcoming your limiting beliefs, please CONTACT me to schedule a free 30 minute session to see if coaching with me could be right for you.
- Norman Vincent Peale
The opportunity: Effective self-care is essential to reducing daily stress and to living a better, healthier life.
The solution: Use this simple 6-step plan to make self-care work for you, once and for all.
So, why don't we DO it? There may be as many reasons as there are people on the planet, but there are a few reasons that generally apply to a majority of us. And there's something you can do about those. Before we dive in though, let's start with a definition.
domains of life.
And the choice you're committing to is "to engage in the activities that are required to gain or maintain an optimal level of overall health." When you engage in something, you are typically all in. You are consciously connected with the choice you are making at both an intellectual and emotional level. Head and heart come together, which is absolutely necessary in order to stay motivated for any length of time. Deep down, you likely already know that activities related to good self-care are "required," but here again you're given another choice: "to gain or maintain an optimal level of overall health."
To me, this definition isn't saying that you have to improve or else! Instead, it says that you can either gain OR maintain an optimal level of health. The goal is optimal health in all areas of life, not a never-ending quest for the perfect body, relationship, spirituality, etc. What optimal health means to you can be a matter of interpretation. You're not after perfection. The quest for perfection is a path to self-criticism and disappointment. Instead, as they say in 12-step meetings, strive for progress, not perfection.
What optimal health means to you can be a matter of interpretation. You're not after perfection. The quest for perfection is a path to self-criticism and disappointment.
4 Reasons We Don't Do It
In our society, busy is the norm. The expectation is that if you're not busy, then you're not measuring up. If you're not regularly tired and stressed from being busy, then you're not doing your part to be productive. In essence, if you're not busy, you're not normal. You may have had "busy battles" with friends and family to prove to each other just how busy you are. We tend to wear our busyness like badges of honor, and whoever has the most busyness wins. Even more challenging is when we tie the social expectation to stay busy with our own sense of self-worth. The trap here is that you're never busy enough to feel good about yourself for long because there is always something else that needs to be done. Self-care is difficult to even consider if you strongly believe that staying busy is more important than your overall health and well-being.
You might think that it's just plain selfish to take time for yourself. Care givers are especially vulnerable to this pitfall. With so many other people to take care of, isn't it a waste of time to indulge in self-care? No, of course not! Like the old quote goes, "Just like on a plane, you need to put on your own oxygen mask first before trying to help others." When you are not at your personal best physically, mentally, emotionally, spiritually, and socially, you can not give your best to others. Chronic stress, compassion fatigue, and burnout are common for helpers who can not effectively prioritize self-care.
Just like on a plane, you need to put on your own oxygen mask first before trying to help others.
To some, self-care can seem like a sign of weakness instead of the strength that it is. Not taking care of yourself over the long run means that others will do it FOR you instead, and sooner rather than later - in the form of doctors, hospitals, family members, and the list goes on and on.... If you value your strength and independence, take care of yourself starting now. And if your understanding of self-care is all rainbows and lollipops, you've got the wrong idea. Remember, self-care is all about optimal health, and that's anything but soft.
Others believe that it will never happen to them. The heart attack, the stroke, the injury, the spiritual crisis, the nervous breakdown, etc. We've all heard stories of those who never thought it would happen to them either. Don't fool yourself by thinking it's too soon to worry about self-care. This is the perfect time to get started. Why leave your health and well-being to chance when you could do something about it right now?
Ok, no more excuses. Let's do this.
Create Your Own 6-Step Self-Care Plan
1.) First, make a commitment to take responsibility for your own self-care. No one can do this for you. You are worth it!
My commitment is to:_________________________________________________________________________________.
2.) Next, take action. Prioritize the top 1-3 domains of your life (listed in the chart below) you want to focus on first. (Ex. physical, social, emotional)
My top 1-3 domains of life are:_______________________________________________________________________.
3.) Get specific. Exactly how do you want to improve your self-care in each area? List 1-3 things you will do in each domain.
The 1-3 things I will do in each domain are:
4.) Schedule it. Put these on your calendar, mobile device, bathroom mirror, office desk, work station, etc. SCHEDULE IT.
I have scheduled each of my specific goals. __YES __NO (If you selected "no," repeat step #4.)
5.) Tell somebody. Let friends, family, and co-workers know what you're doing and why it's important to you. Ask for support!
I have told somebody about my important self-care goals. __YES __NO ("Yes" is required.)
6.) Do it. Follow your plan and treat yourself to a healthier, more fulfilling life. Get an accountability buddy and stick to it. Celebrate your successes, and be honest about your setbacks. You can do it!
I am following my plan and have an accountability buddy. __YES __ NO (Say "yes"to your life!)
The Domains of Life
PHYSICAL: anything having to do with the body, including physical exercise and nutrition.
MENTAL: anything having to do with the mind.
EMOTIONAL: anything having to do with the feelings and emotions.
SPIRITUAL: anything having to do with something greater than ourselves alone.
SOCIAL: anything having to do with the people we are connected to, including friends, family, and co-workers.
For more great tips and insights, listen to my Blog Talk Radio interview with host Sharissa Sebastian.
The opportunity: Though it often seems like the loudest voice in your head, the inner critic can be silenced at last and understood as something less than your best and truest self.
The solution: Use these 4 tips to put this annoying little "helper" in place and become a more confident and capable you.
Tip 1.) Stop the War
Tip 2.) Don't believe the hype
"You're not good enough."
"Who do you think you are anyway?"
"You deserve to be unhappy."
"No one understands me."
"I am not ever going to get better."
"Same sh%t, different day."
We have to stop the war inside ourselves if we want to live a better and more fulfilling life.
If you're feeling down in the dumps after reading these statements, you're not alone (I'm right there with you at some level). It could be that these words simply resonate with the messages of your own inner critic. If that's the case, then welcome to the club! There are millions of people just like you, though your inner critic would love for you to believe otherwise. The good news is that your inner critic is really just old news, hype about who and what you are that comes from the past. Sometimes we inherit these messages from our parents, friends, co-workers, or we invent them ourselves. Wherever they come from, it's time to put the hype aside and turn the tables toward a better and more honest version of who and what you really are.
Tip 3.) Unleash your inner champion
The good news is that your inner critic is really just old news, hype about who and what you are that comes from the past.
After you stop the inner war and let go of the hype, then you're ready to tap into your inner champion. This is the you that you know you are, the one you left behind, the one you forgot about, the one you underestimated until now. Pick up your dreams, reconnect with what matters most to you, and play by a new set of rules. Challenge your old ideas about what is possible for you and take risks. Become unstoppable by listening only to the voice inside that wants you to succeed, to be happy, to be more of who you really are. And don't look back, except to help the next person behind you to do the same thing.
Tip 4.) Look for the Good