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Serenity Hacker

The iPhone as a self improvement tool?  Well, why not? I use my iPhone for lots of things, to keep in touch, to stay on task, to check email, to listen to music, even game. And let’s face it, the apps are fun! Chances are if you’re an iPhone or iPod Touch user like me, you have the device on you or nearby at all times.

Why not use it to assist with personal growth?  Over the past few months I’ve downloaded a bunch of apps in this area to see which ones I’d use and recommend to others.  Not sure where to start looking? Here’s a list of 25 iPhone apps I’ve found useful (with links to the app in the iTunes Store) to give you some ideas:

Meditation & Relaxation Apps

meditationtimer Meditator
A simple timer with sounds and settings for meditators. Use it for meditation or just use it to take a set time out and relax (by SimpleTouch)
brainwave Brainwave Binaural Beats
Binaural beats programmed for positive mood boosts, concentration, creativity and more to background tracks of ocean waves, rain and thunder (by Banzailabs).
buddhabox Buddha Box
Buddha boxes are given out at temples.  This app has different mantras and chants that you can listen to from Buddhist monks (by DigitalBlend).
brainpower AmbiScience BrainPower: Meditate
Ambient music with isochronic tones and binaural beats for deep mediation with stop timer.  Choose tone levels and frequency, start and stop timers (by TeslaSoftware).
powerofnow The Power of Now Deck
Choose a card with wisdom from the book, make notes on concepts and select from various meditations (by NaturalGuides).
asleep aSleep
Set the timer before you sleep to hear sounds from categories like nature, life, and musical instruments (by Sign Studios).

Keep Reading…

I am content in my later years. I have kept my good humor and take neither myself nor the next person seriously. -From Einstein's Collected Essays

I am content in my later years. I have kept my good humor and take neither myself nor the next person seriously. -From Einstein's Collected Essays

Imagination is more important than knowledge. Knowledge is limited; imagination encircles the world.” ~Albert Einstein

Have a problem you just can’t figure out? A challenge that’s proven too difficult to overcome? Why not try an Albert Einstein approach?  Yes, Einstein took on the biggest challenges the world had to offer at the time and became a world renowned physicist. His accomplishments and achievements in the field of science are immeasurable.

Though our own problems may appear miniscule in comparison, Einstein’s attitude and approach to challenges is still quite relative relevant, even on the smallest of scales. Whether you’re dealing with simple mundane issues like getting more organized, or bigger life hurdles like beating long-standing bad habits, his wisdom about problem solving might just provide that “stroke of genius” you need to see things differently. Keep Reading…

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“If you are patient in one moment of anger, you will escape a hundred days of sorrow.” ~Chinese proverb

Ever argue and wonder how it got to where it went? Usually after a heated argument neither party can even agree on how the argument escalated or who said what. That’s because often during times of intense conflict we react from a place within us that is off-center: triggers are pushed and our past conditioning kicks in and takes over. We react to our own feelings instead of the message. The result? The argument intensifies, the resolution seems out of sight and both parties feel worse than before.

Our initial reactions subconsciously arise from feelings based on past conditioning, past relationship patterns and dynamics, our own defenses, insecurities, or sense of inadequacy. Without awareness of this process or the skills to counter it, we fail to address what is being communicated to us.  This fuels the argument rather than resolve it, and eventually takes both people to that place that they don’t even know how they got to. The real problem then becomes obscured and thus a solution is almost impossible.

Instead of reacting, we can choose to respond. Responding involves actively listening and a heightened awareness of the triggers and feelings that arise within us during the argument. We must make the conscious choice not to act on those feelings and triggers and in doing so we stop reacting. Then we can be mindful, centered, and choose a real response to the message. This takes a little practice and skill but can quickly diffuse an argument, and often avoid one altogether:

1. Listen with Everything You Have. And That Means Listen!
Don’t interrupt, even if the other person is going on and on. Let them finish, and while they are speaking make eye contact and let them know you hear them. It’s amazing that even after a long, drawn out argument neither person feels really heard, so listen intently.

2. Don’t Take it Personal.
Listen from a place of selfless compassion and don’t take it personal. Put yourself in the other person’s shoes. Try to discern their message or what they are feeling rather than giving your attention to the reactions and feelings that arise within you as they speak. Granted this takes practice and patience, but it is really key to understanding the message that is being communicated.  When we get caught up in what we feel about what the other person is saying we stop really hearing what they are saying. We take it too personal. This can be a challenge when how the other person communicates is offending you.  But try to focus on the message rather than on the delivery.  If the delivery bothered you, you can choose to address that later if you’d like.

3. Take a Moment Before You Respond.
When the other person finishes, you don’t need to respond right away.  Take the time to think of what you would like to say.  It’s okay to be silent and thoughtful for a moment. Clear out all those reactions that are based on your own feelings before you speak. When you do decide to speak, make sure you what say includes the following:

Keep Reading…

trapezeI stumbled on this almost 15 years ago on a piece of paper. It refers to periods of transformation and uncertainty. It is with great appreciation that I publish it here…

“Sometimes I feel that my life is a series of trapeze swings. I’m either hanging on to a trapeze bar swinging along or, for a few moments in my life, I’m hurtling across space in between trapeze bars.

Most of the time, I spend my life hanging on for dear life to my trapeze-bar-of-the-moment. It carries me along at a certain steady rate of swing and I have the feeling that I’m in control of my life.

I know most of the right questions and even some of the answers.

But every once in a while as I’m merrily (or even not-so-merrily) swinging along, I look out ahead of me into the distance and what do I see? I see another trapeze bar swinging toward me. It’s empty and I know, in that place in me that knows, that this new trapeze bar has my name on it. It is my next step, my growth, my aliveness coming to get me. In my heart of hearts I know that, for me to grow, I must release my grip on this present, well-known bar and move to the new one.

Keep Reading…

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He who fears he shall suffer already suffers what he fears. ~Montaigne 1588

One of the gifts given the human species is the ability to contemplate the future and plan.

The downside of this forward thinking, though, can be anxiety and worry.

While we consider dreaming of what’s to come and planning for it a good thing, worry and anxiety are a hinderance, and can lead to physical stress, deeper unhappiness, and even depression.

Below are 5 good reasons not to worry that can help put this habit into perspective:

1. Worrying Never Changed Anything
Worry never robs tomorrow of its sorrow, it only saps today of its joy.~Leo Buscaglia.
Whether we worry or not, the outcome will be the outcome, and what will or won’t come to pass either will or won’t come to pass. Worry has no bearing on what’s going to happen. Think of all the things you have worried about recently. What did the act of worrying actually do to change anything?

2. Worry Makes Problems Appear Bigger Than They Are
Worry often gives a small thing a big shadow.~Swedish Proverb.
When we give our energy over to problems we help them grow, even if only in our own minds. The energy usurped from us by the act of worry is actually quite powerful, and feeds our perception of the problem, making it loom larger, and hence feeding the cycle of worry more.

3. Worrying Robs Us of Energy and Personal Power
A day of worry is more exhausting than a day of work. ~John Lubbock.
When we worry, we actually give away our energy and personal power to a future (and often imaginary) situation or event,  and deplete ourselves of our own resources. Since worry doesn’t change anything, we are better off keeping our energy and power and utilizing them in healthy ways.

4. Worry Robs Us of Valuable Time and Action
Worrying is like a rocking chair, it gives you something to do, but it gets you nowhere.~Glenn Turner.
Worry is quite time consuming; it gives our minds “something to do” when really we are not doing anything at all. By letting go of worry, we free ourselves to utilize our energy and power to act in the present moment where we can actually get things accomplished. Worry is always regarding the future. We cannot act on the future now; we can only act today.

5. Most of The Things We Worry About Never Come to Pass
I am an old man and have known a great many troubles, but most of them never happened. ~Mark Twain.
Even if the things we do worry about come to pass, we can not deal with them until they arrive, and if we are worrying, then they have not arrived just yet. But many of the things we worry most about never happen. Can you remember what you spent last year on this day worrying about? How about this week last year? Probably not.  If you were writing the book of your life day by day, what would all the hours and days of worry look like?  Do you want them to be part of your story?

Some of your hurts you have cured,
And the sharpest you still have survived,
But what torments of grief you endured
From the evil which never arrived.

~Ralph Waldo Emerson

What about you? How do you handle worry?

Grant me the serenity  to accept the things I cannot change,
The courage to change the things I can,
And the wisdom to know the difference.

This prayer is my favorite, and I say it often, as it applies to almost any dilemna, problem, or state of mind. It is short, simple, and very powerful. It doesn’t matter if you’re religious or not, the very act of saying it and concentrating on its elements can help you be focused, empowered, lighter and freer.

Grant Me The Serenity to Accept the Things I Cannot Change…

This line is key.  Most of what ails us or takes up space in our brains are things we cannot change, be it other people, finances, health situations, etc. Sometimes the things that weigh us down are things we actually can change, but most likely can’t change today or in the present moment. The first act to empowering yourself, to becoming freer and lighter is to actually accept the things that are beyond your control and try to stop changing them, then you free up your power instead of giving it away.

The Courage to Change the Things I Can…

Next, once we accept what we cannot change, we can start focusing on the things we can change. Often accomplishing these things will give us a sense of accomplishment and peace of mind, as well as establish a path toward a goal. Focusing on what you can change and utilizing the courage to act on those things has a positive effect on well-being. Most often these are things we can act on in the present moment.

And The Wisdom to Know the Difference…

This is the call to stay on the path, to be wise enough not to waste our time, energy, and thoughts on what is beyond our control. It’s the wisdom to recognize when we do start obsessing about things which we can’t change, and to change our behavior to act on the things we can.

That post moved, and is now here:

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