Humor

The lesson of humor means learning to invite levity and amusement into situations that might otherwise be disastrous. If you are going to view the hardships that happen to you or the slip-ups you make as lessons rather than mistakes, a sense of humor will prove helpful. When you learn to laugh at your mishaps you are able to instantaneously transform perceived bad situations into opportunities to learn something about the absurdity of human behavior, most especially your own!

Humor and laughter are also tremendously important in relationships. Sharing a good laugh with someone does wonders. A friend of mine told me that once when she and her husband were having a disagreement he made a face that struck her as so comical, she burst out laughing. They both realized how silly they were being and they were able to share a laugh and resolve their conflict with a new perspective. As Victor Borge said, “Laughter is the closest distance between two people.”

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The health benefits, both mental and physical, of humor are well documented. A good laugh can diffuse tension, relieve stress, and release endorphins into your system, which act as a natural mood elevator. In Norman Cousin’s book, Anatomy of an Illness, Cousins describes the regimen he followed to overcome a serious, debilitating disease he was suffering from. It included large doses of laughter and humor. Published in 1976, his book has been widely read and accepted by the medical community.

Laughter causes misery to vanish. It teaches you to lighten up and take yourself less seriously, even in the most serious of situations. It can also help you gain some much needed perspective.

IF Life is a Game, These are the Rules – Cherie Carter – Scott, Ph.D
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Tolerance

“Everything that irritates us about others can lead us to an understanding of ourselves”  Carl Jung

Tolerance is the outward extension of acceptance; it is when you learn to embrace all parts of others and allow them to be and express themselves fully as the unique humans that they are. You will need to learn tolerance in order to coexist peacefully with others. Tolerance quiets the inner critic that chatters in your mind so that you can apply the old adage, “live and let live.”

I recently had a business lunch with a man who displayed objectionable table manners. My first reaction was to judge him as offensive and his table manners as disgusting. When I noticed that I was judging him, I stopped and asked myself what I was feeling. I discovered that I was embarrassed to be seen with someone who was chewing with his mouth open and loudly blowing his nose into his linen napkin. I was astonished to find how much I cared about how the other people in the restaurant perceived me. I consciously had to shift from perceiving the situation as being about him to it being about me and my embarrassment. This allowed me to use this mans actions as a mirror with which to see my own insecurities about being seen with a person who was less than perfect, and how that reflected on me.

The ultimate goal of making such a shift in perception and learning tolerance is to get to the moment of saying, “So what if this person is …” and thereby taking your power back. If I had allowed my lunch partner to continue to disgust me, I would have given all my power to him. I would have allowed his actions to dictate my feelings. By recognizing that my judgment of him had everything to do with me, I neutralized the effect his manners had on me and took back my power.

Whenever you find yourself intolerant of someone, ask yourself, “What is the feeling underneath this judgment that I don’t want to feel?” It might be discomfort, embarrassment, insecurity, anxiety, or some other feeling of diminishment that the person is evoking in you. Focus on actually feeling that feeling so that your intolerance can evaporate, and you can embrace both your own emotions and the actions or behavior of the person you are judging.

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Remember that your judgment of someone will not serve as a protective shield against you becoming like him, just because I judged my lunch partner as offensive does not prevent me from ever looking or acting like him, just as extending tolerance to him would not cause me to suddenly begin chewing my food with my mouth open. As tough and rigid as judgment and intolerance may be, it can never protect you from anything but love.

IF Life is a Game, These are the Rules – Cherie Carter – Scott, Ph.D

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Self – Esteem

Self-esteem is feeling worthy and able to meet life’s challenges. It is as essential as the air we breathe, and just as intangible. It comes from the depths of our core, yet it is reflected in every single outward action we take, grand or small. It is the essence from which we measure our worth and the most important building block in the foundation of our psyches.

If self-esteem is a lesson that you need to learn, you will be tested over and over until you feel confident about who you are and understand and believe in your intrinsic value. Your body may provide you with enough opportunities to work on this lesson throughout your entire lifetime.

Your body may teach you the lesson of self-esteem by testing your willingness to view yourself as worthy, regardless of what you look like or how your body performs.

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The process of building self-esteem is threefold. The first step is to identify what stands in your way. By acknowledging the limiting belief that you have about yourself, you can then move to the second step: to search your soul for a deeper core connection with who you really are. The third step is to take action, whether that means valuing yourself just as you are or making a positive change.

Remind yourself often that self-esteem is ephemeral. You will have it, lose it, cultivate it, nurture it, and be forced to rebuild it over and over again. It is not something to be achieved and preserved, but rather a lifelong process to be explored and cultivated.

Where do your feelings of worthiness stem from? Search to discover the pathway to that source, for you will need to revisit that source again and again throughout your lifetime. When you can easily find your way to the core of your essential value, then you know you have learned this lesson.

If Life is a Game, These are the Rules – Cherie Carter – Scott, Ph.D

 

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Grace

Grace is one of those intangible qualities that is difficult to describe but easy to recognize. Those who possess grace seem to walk effortlessly through life. They give the illusion of glowing from within and that glow is apparent to everyone around them.

To live in a state of grace means to be fully in tune with your spiritual  nature and a higher power that sustains you. Grace comes when you are able to move from your lower self, where your ego dictates the path that “should be” rightfully yours, to your higher self, where you are able to transcend your ego and expand into your greater good. It comes when you shift from a “me”-centered reality to an understanding of the bigger picture

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Grace comes when you understand and accept that the universe always creates circumstances that lead every person to his or her own true path, and that everything happens for a reason as part of a divine plan.

Sounds wonderful, you might say, but how do you achieve such a blissful state? By remembering each and every day that the lessons you are presented with are special gifts uniquely for you, and that learning these lessons is what will bring you to a state of grace. By anchoring yourself in the belief that you will be given whatever is right for you, regardless of how far off it may be from your perceived personal agenda.

In the state of grace you trust in yourself and the universe. You can celebrate other people’s blessings, knowing that their gifts are right and appropriate for them and that the universe has your gift right around the corner.

IF Life is a Game, These are the Rules – Cherie Carter – Scott, Ph.D
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Responsibility

“We have to accept the consequences of every deed, word and thought throughout our lifetime”  -Elisabeth Kfcbler- Ross

To take responsibility means you admit your accountability and acknowledge your influence and role in the circumstances in which you find yourself. It means you are answerable for your behavior and you fully accept any consequences created by your actions.

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Responsibility is not blame, however, and understanding the difference between the two is crucial to learning this lesson. Blame is associated with fault, whereas responsibility denotes authorship. Blame carries guilt and negative feelings; responsibility brings the relief of not having to dodge the full truth anymore and releases that guilt. Blame implies fault; responsibility implies ownership. Blame is stagnant; responsibility propels you forward and onward to your greater good.

Responsibility comes with certain rewards, but it is a lesson that is often hard-earned. I once had a woman named Mary in my workshop whose story of personal responsibility has always inspired me. Mary was born in Cuba and moved to Miami with her family when she was two years old. They lived in terrible poverty in a dangerous part of the city, where crime and drugs were part of everyday life. Mary was determined, however, even at the young age of eight, to make something of her life other than follow the expected route of becoming a maid, or a cashier at the supermarket. So she got herself to school each and every day, sometimes having to step over drunks passed out in the doorway, just so she could get an education and give herself a better life.

Mary eventually left Miami, obtained a good education, and fostered her natural music ability. She knew it was up to her to create her own life, regardless of what hand she had been dealt. She is now one of the most well-known Latina studio singers, and her voice can be heard in countless national commercials. Mary could have given in to the life she was born into, or remained mired in blaming her parents and culture for her circumstances. She could have allowed a refusal to take responsibility for a situation—even though she was not to blame for it—to overshadow her desire. Instead, however, Mary took responsibility for herself and created a life of which she can be proud.

As a parent, I find myself trying to teach my daughter, Jennifer, small lessons of responsibility every day. I want Jennifer to grow up to be the kind of person who does what she says she will do, who understands the obligations that go along with privileges, and who takes ownership of her role in whatever circumstances she finds herself. I know I have a small window of time in which to impress upon her the importance of responsibility before she sets out into the world on her own.

Responsibility is a major lesson of adulthood. If you still haven’t learned the lesson of responsibility, it’s not too late. Remember, life will provide you with plenty of opportunities to get it right.

IF Life is a Game, These are the Rules – Cherie Carter – Scott, Ph.D
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Humility

A person with humility has a confident yet modest sense of his or her own merits, but also an understanding of his or her limitations. The moment you think you have seen everything or know it all (“Been there, done that…) the universe senses arrogance and gives you a great big dose of humility. You must give up on the idea that you can ever become so enlightened that you have nothing left to learn; Zen masters know that even for them learning never ends.

Humility is the lesson that stings, for along with it usually comes some kind of loss or downfall. The universe likes to keep things in balance, so when an inflated ego ignores civility and patience, it introduces humility as a way to bring the ego back down to Earth. Though the sting feels like a wound at the time, it really is just a poke from the higher power to keep you balanced.

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Some people experience so much success in life that they take it for granted, expecting things to go their way automatically. When this results in an inflated ego that ignores patience and civility, arrogance is bred, and humility becomes a curriculum requirement.

Have pride in who you are and what you have accomplished. However, if you find yourself harboring secret thoughts of arrogance or conceit, remind yourself of the lesson of humility before the universe does it for you. It will sting much less that way.

IF Life is a Game, These are the Rules – Cherie Carter – Scott, Ph.D
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Gratitude

“When you stop comparing what is right here and now with what you wish were, you can begin to enjoy what is.” Cheri Huber

To be grateful means you are thankful for and appreciative of what you have and where you are on your path right now. Gratitude fills your heart with the joyful feeling of being blessed with many gifts and allows you to fully appreciate everything that arises on your path. As you strive to keep your focus on the present moment, you can experience the full wonder of “here.”

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Gratitude is a lesson that needs to be reinforced often. It is too easy to overlook the gifts you have when you focus on those that you hope to obtain, and you diminish the value of where you currently are on your path if you do not pause often to appreciate it.

There are many ways to cultivate gratitude. Here are just a few suggestions you may wish to try:

  • Imagine what your life would be like if you lost all that you had. Like George Bailey in the movie It’s a Wonderful life; this will most surely remind you of how much you do appreciate it.
  • Make a list each day of all that you are grateful for, so that you can stay conscious daily of your blessings. Do this especially when you are feeling as though you have nothing to feel grateful for. Or spend a few minutes before you go to sleep giving thanks for all that you have.
  • Spend time offering assistance to those who are less fortunate than you, so that you may gain perspective.
  • Look for the gift in each challenging incident.However you choose to learn gratitude is irrelevent. What really matters is that you create a space in your consciousness for appreciation for all that you have right now, so that you may live more joyously in your present moment.
IF Life is a Game, These are the Rules – Cherie Carter – Scott, Ph.D
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