The problem with personal transformation is that, once achieved, it's hard to stay that way. As motivated as we are for our goodness to shine, we become distracted -- lost in our monkey minds and buried in our to-do lists. No matter how much we know about how to generate transformation, it takes concentration, diligence and mindfulness to maintain.
Every moment brings a medley of choices:
Just a moment ago Tim hurried by, having just given our dog Nico a shower, rushing to have breakfast, and then off to a dentist appointment. I wanted to follow him, wish him well, and do what I could to help him out the door in time. But I'd just moved into the flow of writing this article and was afraid if I did, I'd lose my train of thought. Pretty justifiable choice, right? Yet this time I chose my heart, stood up, and went to see him.
My friend Hiren Modi recently shared a quote that describes the challenge as well as the antidote:
"Maybe you don't like your job, maybe you didn't get enough sleep, well nobody likes their job, nobody got enough sleep. Maybe you just had the worst day of your life, but you know, there's no escape, there's no excuse, so just suck up and be nice." -- Ani DiFranco
The Cost of Making Wrong Choices
Although my personal transformation still has miles to go, I've come a long way. I can clearly remember the times I was so rigid with stress, frustration, anger, and disappointment that I wonder I'm still here. I'm embarrassed to remember the way I used to take on people at call centers, spend more energy on my business than my family, try to do it all perfectly for everyone, and live by the law that the harder I worked, the better things would be.
Looking back at others I've known and coached, I clearly see how we cause ourselves and others so much pain and suffering by working hard to be some way other than the way we are, and to have things be different than they are. Super Coach Michael Neill describes this insanity:
Because we think our happiness will come from getting what we want, we pursue success at the cost of our relationships, our health, and our spiritual well-being. When we get what we want and we're still not happy, we assume the problem is that we're still not doing enough so we push even harder and get even further away from the experience of happiness we actually want.
The most powerful force in the world is the law of cause and effect. We get caught up in our negative feelings and the results appear before our eyes. We act in a way that harms others, and we move further away from the wisdom of our innermost heart. His Holiness Dudjom Rinpoche puts it simply:
"The truth is, the relationship between cause and effect is unfailing, and the results ripen on the doer ... accordingly the result of positive actions is happiness and the result of negative actions is suffering."
I like to make things simple. To maintain your personal transformation, remember that what you focus on is what you get. Mindfulness means keeping your mind on positive thoughts and actions and pulling it back when it wanders off course. We don't need to figure out why we lost focus, just get it back.
Here's what I've found works:
Generosity: Let go of my opinions, my stuff, and my desire to acquire more.
Discipline: Do what I know to do, keep my promises, and take care of others.
Patience: Accept what comes, dissolve my anger, trust others, and know that what I need appears in its own time.
Here's Oprah sharing how she learned to let go -- a very inspirational story.
Thanks again for sharing this journey of personal transformation with me. This is my last article in this series. If you've missed some of them, want to review any, or share them, here they are:
As a partner on this journey, please share your answer to this question: What have I learned about staying true to myself?
Write your response below this article on The Huffington Post. Or I'd love to hear from you directly at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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