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For Your Well Being: Ever The Student

June 8, 2006, Vol. IV Issue 12

Dear Friends,

I’m as surprised as you might be about what I’m going to share in today’s e-news but it feels like the right thing to do. No event news, no health headlines, no speaker updates. (No firings or death notices either!)

I started writing this recent experience as my introduction and quickly found it taking on a life of its own, so here goes. And it’ll probably be pretty short. Do me a favor and let know what you think.

Ever the Student

My husband and I had lunch last week with a literary agent from New York. Now neither one of us is pitching a book (yet!), so it was purely social. She happens to be married to one of his Princeton classmates and was in Portland to speak to two writer’s groups. It was fascinating learning about her business. And once I learned what she was here for, I was sure there were plenty of writers who would have paid plenty for my seat across the table from her.

After lunch we walked over to Powell’s Bookstore, the largest independent bookstore in the country, and a must-see on every Portland visitor’s list. Denise, having quickly learned that Jim and I are both into self-improvement, wanted to buy us a book she’d represented. It’s called, Change the Way You See Everything – through Asset-Based Thinking, by Kathryn D. Cramer, PhD, and Hank Wasiak.

The cover looks something like a backwards eye chart. Open it and your senses are awakened by pictures, lots and lots of full color pictures, graphics, reverse type, more graphics and pictures, pictures, pictures. I thought, gee, that’s different, but what could possibly be in here that I haven’t seen or read (My dad pegged me as a know-it-all years ago. I guess I still am.)

I’ve just started reading (if you could call it reading) this book and it’s already having an impact. It’s about changing our thinking, but not simple positive thinking. “Asset-Based Thinking (ABT)” goes beyond positive thinking — taking it to a whole new level of engagement.

I think engagement is the key word here. I’ve automatically started noticing my thoughts, particularly my thoughts when what’s going on is not, in my judgment, what I expected (another key operative word). I’m talking about things as simple as choosing the route to drive downtown or the choice of a parking space (by someone else, ahem, not me). I’m applying it when I’m engaged in life. What a concept! I think it’s also called being in the now.

I started noticing how automatic my negative Deficit-Based Thinking (DBT) is, and how allowing myself to shift into curiosity and openness lifted my mood. I became open to discovery instead of cranky about a change in my expectations – this could have a big impact on my cranky quotient! And I wasn’t following a formula or laboriously applying a principle. The reading and pictures had simply filtered into my consciousness and I was awake, aware, noticing and most importantly, changing my thinking, quietly observing.

And, oh my gosh, feeling happier, lighter . . . in the moment.

The whole idea was further reinforced when my husband and I went to see the movie, “Peaceful Warrior” over the weekend. It’s based on Dan Millman’s spiritual book, ”Way of the Peaceful Warrior,” which I read eons ago. If you’re interested in knowing more about his books and the movie, go to his website.

In one scene, Dan and his teacher Socrates (yes, you read that right) are sitting (tentatively for Dan, I might add) in the rafters high above Dan’s gymnastics teammates in the college gym where he has been practicing for Olympic tryouts. The camera panned down to spots of the practicing gymnasts and we heard their thoughts: “I am not good enough . . . this will happen if . . . I never could . . . My dad expects this and I can’t deliver . . .  Why am I doing this . . . It will never work out . . .  If I lose, I’m doomed, etc. etc. etc.” It was such a graphic presentation of Deficit-Based Thinking, it was amazing.

So, I share these thoughts with you for three reasons:

First, I’m delighted and grateful when I’m presented with an opportunity to learn and be different in the world, especially when I wasn’t seeking anything and it was offered to me as a gift.

Secondly, this experience reinforces my belief in what you and I do: Exposing people to new ways of thinking, doing and being in the world. If just one little thing filters through, it can make a huge difference in a life and that is not just their life, it affects the people they live and work with as well.

Third, this is what came up for this e-news subject matter so I’m going with it. I encourage you to trust your intuition, too, especially when it’s not what you expected!

By the way, we need to talk seriously about lunch at Jake’s Famous Crawfish. Denise gloried in the fresh oysters. My razor clams from Seaside, Oregon, were divine. Jim dove into his crawfish etouffee and then there was the berry dessert. Yum!

Jim also received compliments on lunching with two totally impressive ladies. I’d say we were all in good company. It was also the first time I’d eaten at Jake’s Famous Crawfish, another Portland tradition. I just have to get out more. Maybe if I wasn’t so cranky about driving and parking, my sweetie would want to take me out more! Asset-Based Thinking could open up a whole new world!

Just writing about this subject this week instead of the usual reports is an example of using Asset Based Thinking; it freed me to write what seems important right now. That felt more vital to me than anything else I had in mind for this issue. And that’s what it’s like for me to live in the now.

Until next time, take care of yourself for your well being and those you love.

Yours truly,
Barbara

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