If your mind were a suitcase and could only hold five things what would they be

“If your mind were a suitcase and could only hold five things, what would they be?”

—Mark Nepo, author of The Book of Awakening

Image from Unsplash by Amy Shamblen

About 10 years ago we bought a set of luggage from a local warehouse store. It was a good value, the right color and the set of three pieces conveniently fit inside one another for easy storage. This was actually a second set and we justified it because we packed heavy for some longer trips to address all contingencies, and our desire to not use unfamiliar laundry facilities.

Prior to our recent move from Michigan to Pennsylvania we amusingly donated more than two thirds of our luggage and about a third of our possessions, realizing that traveling lighter had many advantages.

Keeping our most essential items was a step in the right direction to reduce both our physical and mental loads.

EXERCISE:

What size mental suitcase are you carrying around? What are the five most important things packed inside? A small backpack may actually be all you need.

Notice your internal playlist

Notice your internal playlist.

—Calm App Reflection

Image from Unsplash by Mohammad Metri

The moment we wake up it starts. Our inner voice begins and won’t stop until an undetermined time after our heads hit our pillows. If you — like many people — experience insomnia from time to time, the pause or stop button can be most elusive.

EXERCISE:

What thoughts have you been playing on repeat lately? What pivoting strategies can you apply given this awareness? How can you shift your playlist to one that soothes and serves?

What gifts in your life do you often take for granted?

What gifts in your life do you often take for granted?

—Calm App Reflection

Every moment of life is a precious gift.

Open each of these gifts slowly and mindfully so as not to miss a single one — this will help you live more fully and purposely, regardless of what you may accomplish. Don’t be surprised, however, if you accomplish a lot living this way!

EXERCISE:

What tangible and intangible gifts do your intend to offer the people in your various communities? How can putting greater thought and heartfelt intentions into your offerings? Please remember that your time might be your most special gift of all.

You may wish to explore the book, 4000 Weeks – Time Management for Mortals.

“Behind every criticism is a veiled wish.”

“Behind every criticism is a veiled wish.”

—Esther Perel, Belgian psychotherapist

Image from Unsplash by ahi ismail

How do you feel when you are criticized?

How often is your immediate response to defend yourself or perhaps go on the offense and attack others?

Explore a few recent interactions in which you were criticized for something you did or didn’t do.

Dig deeper into the thoughts and emotions of that person to see if there was a hidden desire or veiled wish below their barbed message. What did they secretly want that was not communicated in an acceptable way?

How might you shift your perspective and translate the harshness of their words into simple requests that would have a higher probability of acceptance?

EXERCISE:

A few books that can help your relationship skills are Fierce Conversations by Susan Scott, Crucial Conversations, and Crucial Confrontations.

Please send an email to barry@dempcoaching.com or reply to this post with your email address and I will be pleased to send you a copy of my one page Communication Toolbox.

”It’s not what you say out of your mouth that determines your life, it’s what you whisper to yourself that has the most power!”

”It’s not what you say out of your mouth that determines your life, it’s what you whisper to yourself that has the most power!”

—Robert Kiyosaki, American author of Rich Dad, Poor Dad

Image from Unsplash by magnet.me

Thoughts become things. In a typical day, we actually use our inner voices far more than our external ones.

We are constantly having what Susan Scott describes in her book, Fierce Conversations, as versations — which is simply a conversation with ourselves.

The power of bathing in our own thoughts is a form of leadership where we  repeatedly speak about our reality and our vision for the future. This repetition carves deep grooves in our conscious and unconscious minds, which can and often do lead to behaviors that determine our lives.

EXERCISE:

Notice your inner voice whispering to you throughout the day. What is it saying?

Is this voice positive and affirming or negative and judgmental?

How can and will you use the power of versations to enhance your life?

“One small positive thought in the morning can change your whole day.”


“One small positive thought in the morning can change your whole day.”

—Author Unknown

Image from Unsplash by Sharon McCutcheon

Do you take a daily vitamin or perhaps a variety of supplements each morning to support your health?

What foods do you eat for breakfast to start your day?

How much time do you allow for yourself to feed your mind before you jump into your busy schedule?

Consider yourself a sprinter about to run the 100 meter dash in the upcoming Olympic Games. How important is it for you to be powerfully positioned in the blocks when the starting gun goes off?

EXERCISE:

How can you add one or more positive thoughts or nuggets of wisdom to your morning routine?

Consider sharing this lesson or insight with at least one person in one of your communities.

 

“Negative thoughts are nails.”

“Negative thoughts are nails.”

—Jon Gordon, Author of The Carpenter

Image from Unsplash by travelergeek

Where do you stand on the negative to positive spectrum of thought? How do you view yourself when you listen closely to your inner voice?

Carpenters use nails all the time to fasten and hold things together. Adding an extra nail or two can make a structure even more rigid and solid. As someone who isn’t particularly handy, I often use nails to hang pictures on the wall as a way of hiding a blemish or mark.

How are you seeing the world and relating to the people in your personal and professional communities these days?

How do you judge others on this spectrum when you examine their words and actions?

EXERCISE:

Where do you see the negative thinking in your world keeping people stuck and rigid?

How would greater positivity and optimism offer greater possibilities to build a better future?

“Present fears are less than horrible imaginings.”

“Present fears are less than horrible imaginings.”

—William Shakespeare, MacBeth, Act 1, Scene 3

Image from NoSweatShakespeare.com

William Shakespeare’s plays, poems, and sonnets have taught the world many life lessons that are still relevant today.

Through his works, he taught that love can conquer and destroy, that people trust what they cannot see, and that human ethics are easily manipulated.

In addition to the subject of love in his numerous works, he frequently included other common characteristics of society including greed, ambition, and the focus on power.

How would you imagine Shakespeare might view our current society, given that he lived during challenging times between 1564 and 1616 in England?

EXERCISE:

What are your thoughts and feelings about your own present fears versus your own imaginings?

Consider checking out the website NoSweatShakespeare.com to explore in greater depth his significant influences on our world.

“Common sense is the collection of prejudices acquired by age eighteen.”

“Common sense is the collection of prejudices acquired by age eighteen.”

—Albert Einstein

Image of Albert Einstein from Public Domain

When we think of great minds, few people top the list more often than Albert Einstein.

If you investigate his life through a wide variety of sources, you will see that he was fond of what he called “thought experiments.”

I guess you could say that he thought a lot about thinking!

What about your own mind?

How much do you think about your own thoughts and how they influence your view of others and life in general?

What prejudices, biases, mental models, and paradigms have you ingrained that support and in many cases limit what’s possible for you?

EXERCISE:

How can and will you conduct some of your own expanded thought experiments to realize a less common and more extraordinary life?

“We are the masters of our fate, the captains of our souls, because we have the power to control our thoughts.”

“We are the masters of our fate, the captains of our souls, because we have the power to control our thoughts.”

—Napoleon Hill, 20th Century American author of Think and Grow Rich

Image from Unsplash by Philippe Oursel

Perhaps one of the primary reasons for the rapid growth of the coaching industry is its ability to significantly increase our mindfulness and self-awareness. The phrase “Wherever you go, there you are” is poignant in that we always bring along our minds, which strongly influences and creates our worlds.

The majority of my work with clients focuses on executive leadership and business matters. Nevertheless, I’ve noticed considerable attention shifting to more personal and soulful issues and the idea of living a far more meaningful life.

EXERCISE:

If you, too, wish to dig deeper into being your own soulful captain of life, I strongly recommend the book Toward a Meaningful Life by Simon Jacobson.