“Suffering ceases to be suffering at the moment it finds a meaning.”
~Victor Frankl, “Man’s Search for Meaning“
We have all heard the phrase, “what does not kill me makes me stronger.” Let’s face it, some of us have had some pretty bad things happen in our lives…terrifying, heart-wrenching things. Things we do not want to think about let alone talk about.
No matter what has happened to you, the past cannot be changed. The event is there and cannot be erased. But…there is one thing that CAN change – your perspective. Victor Frankl in his book Man’s Search for Meaning describes his life in a Nazi concentration camp. What he noticed was the prisoners (who were all undergoing the same treatment) that found meaning in their lives, or something to live for, continued to live.
“We who lived in concentration camps can remember the men who walked through the huts comforting others, giving away their last piece of bread. They may have been few in number, but they offer sufficient proof that everything can be taken from a man but one thing: the last of the human freedoms - to choose one’s attitude in any given set of circumstances, to choose one’s own way.”
You and I could experience the same exact circumstance but what will be different is how we each embrace, interpret, value, symbolize and respond to it. How we respond, is a matter of personal choice. We were given free will – the ability to choose – in order to experience a balanced life and to grow as a human being. Growth occurs through our greatest challenges…those are our greatest moments and the exact moments we came here for. Yes, we embrace the experiences that bring us joy, such as the embrace of a loved one, but the very thing that allows us to appreciate that moment is our past challenges that we overcame…the exact circumstances that made us who we are today.
Take an inventory of those things in your life you now call challenges and evaluate how you are choosing to look at that challenge. What meaning are you giving it? What can you do to feel better right now? What did you learn from the challenge? What would you do different if that same challenge was presented to you again in a different form?
Use your challenges as life lessons that build you up rather than tear you down. In order for your life to change, YOU have to change. Nothing changes if nothing changes.
Until the pain of staying the same is greater than the pain of changing, you will stay the same.
Lots of love to you this Valentine’s Day,
“Choosing the Life You Were Born to Live: How Changing Your Thoughts Will Change Your Life” by Chris Sopa published by Balboa Press.
Chris Sopa is founder and owner of Chris Sopa International, Inc. You can learn more about her at www.ChrisSopa.com. Find her at Facebook.com/ChrisSopaInternational, Twitter @ChrisSopa, LinkedIn, and Google+.What if You Had One Week to Live?
What if you found out today that you only had one week left to live? Looking at your life as it is right now, can you honestly say you could die feeling as if you gave it your all?
Many of us live as if we have all of the time in the world. For your sake, I hope that you do. The truth of the matter is that none of us know when our cards will be up yet we act as if time is of no consequence.
I would like you to take a look at your life and ask yourself the following questions. I warn you; they may be hard to answer.
What would you do if you knew you had…
Now, look at your answers. Do they accurately reflect where you are spending the majority of your time now? If not, why not? And don’t tell me that you have responsibilities, no choice, your husband or wife won’t let you, blah, blah, blah. I’ve heard them all. Whose life is it anyways? This statement is not meant to be harsh or non-compassionate, but I ask you, when are you going to stop making excuses and live your life?
One question I ask myself when I want to whip myself back into reality is:
When I am lying on my death bed, will this matter?
The majority of the things you stress about will not even matter in five years. I know your mind is telling you that they will, but they won’t. Life changes in the blink of an eye and we live in a kind Universe. Everything, and I mean everything, happens to maintain balance, whether you agree with it or not.
Our most Divine gift as humans is the ability to create our own reality. We do that with our thoughts. If you focus on excuses, those excuses will become your reality. What you think about you bring about. It is truly that simple. Sound too good to be true?
What if it isn’t?
“And in the end, it’s not the years in your life that count. It’s the life in your years.” ~Abraham Lincoln
Living, loving and laughing,
Chris Sopa is founder and owner of Chris Sopa International, Inc. You can learn more about her at www.ChrisSopa.com. Find her at Facebook.com/ChrisSopaInternational, Twitter @ChrisSopa, LinkedIn, and Google+.
Now on the best selling list at Balboa Press, “Choosing the Life You Were Born to Live: How Changing Your Thoughts Will Change Your Life” by Chris Sopa.
Click here to purchase your copy!Understanding “Tragedy”
“It is time to stop talking and start walking; stop crying and start sweating. Working together with a common faith we cannot fail.” ~Jimmy Carter, U.S. Presidential Speech 1979
In the movie What the Bleep Do We Know, Dr. Hagelin describes a rather unconventional social experiment conducted in Washington D.C. Over a two month period of time, 4,000 individuals came together to meditate daily with the intention of lowering the crime rate. Normally during the summer in Washington D.C. the crime rate sharply increases due to the warmer weather. From June 7th through July 30th 1993, the time-frame of the meditation experiment, crime in Washington D.C. was reduced by 23.6%. The likelihood that this was merely a “coincidence” was calculated at two parts per billion, also noting that Dr. Hagelin’s experiment was repeated 48 times with similar results in prisons, inner-city schools, war-torn areas like Nicaragua, Iran, Israel and Lebanon.
Recently, the United States has encountered a natural “tragedy,” referred to as Hurricane Sandy. She left her mark on New York, New Jersey and several other locations for quite some time to come. Whenever any challenging or tragic event occurs, there are always two by-products; gratitude and an opening of the heart. These types of events leave you feeling very thankful for what you have, the people in your lives and sometimes plain thankful for being alive. This gratitude leads to an opening of the heart and our altruism kicks into full gear. We immediately want to help in some way…our “hearts go out” to the people who were affected by the tragedy.
Studies have shown that altruism is hard-wired in our brains. When hooked up to brain scanning machines, people who were asked to think about giving money to someone had the same exact parts of their brain light up as when they thought about selfish pleasures such as eating and sex. (It brings a whole new meaning to the term “this is better than sex!”)
What came up for you during Hurricane Sandy? Were you grateful? Did you wonder in what way you could help? Did you feel empowered or like a victim who has no control over what happens? Everything happens for a reason…even natural events. They are meant to wake us up; to force us to think and do things in a different way when no other way has worked. They are there to teach us something about ourselves and how we relate to each other. What does it really mean to you to be “alive?” Is it all about you or is it about us?
When I hike the Inca Trail in Peru, the shamans teach you to always give back to the Earth that which you took. If you pick up a rock, give back to the Earth something in your possession – a piece of hair or a sacred article of your own. Everything is about balance. When Mother Earth creates a hurricane, she is balancing her energy. What happens is as much about us as it is about her.
Instead of reflecting upon why this happened, turn the mirror inward. Where does your life need balancing? What is some personal “tragedy” in your life trying to teach you? Is there anything in your life that needs to be “washed away” so something new can have room to enter?
Think about it…not everything is how it seems.
“The best medicine of all is the simplest medicine. Let us all learn self-love, self-forgiveness, compassion and understanding. Then we will be able to give those gifts to others. By healing the person, we can heal Mother Earth.”
~Elizabeth Kubler Ross
Praying we all finally step into who we are,
Chris Sopa is founder and owner of Chris Sopa International, Inc. You can learn more about her at www.ChrisSopa.com. Find her at Facebook.com/ChrisSopaInternational, Twitter @ChrisSopa, LinkedIn, and Google+.
Announcing the publication of “Choosing the Life You Were Born to Live: How Changing Your Thoughts Will Change Your Life” by Chris Sopa published by Balboa Press.
Click here to purchase.Love Your Enemy
“Your enemy reflects back to you everything that you do not like about yourself. He shows you exactly where your fears and insecurities lie. If you listen to what your enemy is saying to you, you will know exactly where you must make corrections in yourself. Only one who opposes you thus can be such an effective teacher.”
~Paul Ferrini, “Love Without Conditions”
Admit it…we all have someone who makes our blood boil. Maybe you have more than one. Mine usually come in the form of ex-romantic significant others. Did you ever wonder why these people exist in your life? I don’t mean “on the face of the earth exist” (I know that was where you were going…wishing they had never been born! Lol!) but why are they showing up in your life in what you perceive to be a difficult form? Do you think God is just playing a mean trick on you, purposely trying to make your life miserable? Don’t laugh, some people really do run the victim mentality of “God is out to get me.” I personally would think God has better things to do, but it is a question that begs to be answered.
Anytime we are faced with someone in our lives who disagrees with us, makes us uncomfortable in some form or simply does something to us we do not like, we are being asked to look deeper. These situations do not arise simply because “that is life.” These situations arise because there is a lesson to be learned by both parties. A lesson, more than likely, that cannot be taught by anyone else but someone who annoys you to the core.
Those who hurt you the most are your greatest teachers. How can that be? Ask yourself this question: How have you learned your most valuable lessons, through pain or joy? Most people have learned the lessons that stick with them the most through some kind of pain in their life. The Universe uses pain because it is by far the best way to get our attention. We do not like to be in pain. It hurts. We will do anything to not be in pain…even give up and give in and finally change. Until the pain of where you are is greater than the fear of changing, you will stay where you are. Those individuals that you call your “enemies” that have wronged you and hurt you so bad that you use words like hate, can’t stand and despise when their names come up in conversation, are the ones who are teaching you the most about yourself. They are the mirror to your own soul. They are reflecting back to you the exact things that are inside of you that need to be seen, released and healed once and for all.
Name anyone in your life right now, enemy or friend, and they are in your life, at this moment, for a reason. They are here to teach you something you need to learn about yourself. What feeling comes up when you are with this person? Where does the feeling show up in your body? Does it trigger any other past memories from your childhood or past? Are there any patterns you can identify around how this person makes you feel and how anyone else in your life makes you feel? Is your pain with these “enemies” in your life always work-related or personal? It is ultimately your choice if you learn the lesson they were brought to teach you. If you chose to not learn it, trust me when I tell you, another person and opportunity will come around shortly to teach you the same lesson, only this time the pain will be greater. The pain will continue to get greater until you learn to let go.
Just because “a teacher” is showing up in the form of someone you do not like does not mean you need to allow them to treat you poorly. Trust me; I have given many the boot that have crossed a personal boundary for me…sometimes after it has gone too far. The key is to be very self-aware of your feelings and be vigilant with your personal boundaries. Nothing is as important as honoring yourself. Look at the relationship and situation and ask yourself, “What is this person or situation trying to show or teach me?” and then take the steps needed to release your feelings, do what is needed, and move on.
You will always have challenges in your life. People and situations will challenge you constantly and that is a good thing. When you are being challenged you are growing and learning and becoming a better human being. We are spirits having a human experience…let’s show the heavens that we can do it right!
“If you work hard on your job, you make a living. If you work hard on yourself, you can make a fortune.”
Loving my “teachers” in whatever form they show up,
Purchase your copy of Chris Sopa’s new book, “Choosing the Life You Were Born to Live: How Changing Your Thoughts Will Change Your Life” published by Balboa Press.
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It’s my turn to live.
It’s my turn to feel my feelings.
It’s my turn to speak my truth.
It’s my turn to rest.
It’s my turn to let my light shine.
It’s my turn to see the joy and beauty in everything around me.
It’s my turn to make the choices I want to make without permission.
It’s my turn to show how strong I am.
It’s my turn to pray and believe my prayers will be answered.
It’s my turn to change my mind when I want to change it.
It’s my turn to take care of me and not everybody else.
It’s my turn to be surrounded by people who are honest and trustworthy.
It’s my turn to be alone and savor my own company without feeling lonely.
It’s my turn to remember my Divinity and why I am here.
It’s my turn to live up to my Divine potential.
It’s my turn to cry, laugh and yell with everything I’ve got.
It’s my turn to save myself.
It’s my turn to open my heart.
It’s my turn to love.
It’s my turn to live.
Now it’s your turn,
“You do not need to leave your room. Remain sitting at your table and listen. Do not even listen, simply wait, be quiet still and solitary. The world will freely offer itself to you to be unmasked, it has no choice, it will roll in ecstasy at your feet.” ~Frank Kafka
Being a “newbie” to the Scottsdale, AZ area, I decided recently to use Meetup.com as a way to meet new people in the area. I have been kayaking, hiking, business networking…you name it. But one meeting I attended this past week stuck out for me. Being the spiritual person that I am and always interested in meeting people of this circle, I decided to attend a spirituality meditation meet up. The meet up was scheduled from 7-10pm and the first thing I thought was, “Wow! That is a long-a@* time to meditate!” Having always felt I rocked in meditating, I took on the challenge.
The meet up group met at an amazing bookstore in Scottsdale called Vision Quest which was full of anything us spiritual gurus would want to buy to help us “ascend.” I was guided into a back room where the chairs where arranged in a circle with 4 lit candles on a table in the middle of the circle. I was greeted by a large African American man who may have frightened me due to his size at first, until he smiled. His smile turned him from a giant into an angel. I found myself a chair and plopped down, ready to meditate my little tush off.
Once the meditation began, the instructor explained how throughout the meditation he would call in different angels and guides from the 12th dimension (stick with me here). As soft music played in the background, I fell into my meditative trance, meeting the energies of Archangel Michael first. I am very familiar with him because he and I…well, let’s just say we are “buds.” As the meditation continued, I found myself antsy and then becoming frightened. I always teach my clients to be “an observer” of their life and behaviors, so I took my own advice and observed myself. Why was I frightened?
Here is what I found…silence is a healer, but in order to heal it, you have to feel it. When we allow ourselves to slip into silence, even if only for a few minutes, we allow the healing to begin. In order to heal, we must first know what we are healing. Let me use an analogy. Say you want to clean out your closet. In order to do so, you must take out each piece of clothing, look at it and decide if you want to keep it or send it to “Goodwill heaven.” You cannot get rid of it until you look at it and see what it is and then make a decision. Do you want to keep that old, dirty polka-dotted dress from the 70’s or trash it? Does it serve you anymore?
Now let’s return to your healing. Those old wounds, hurts, anger and grief…are having those feelings serving you? Do you need to give them to “God’s will heaven?” In order for God to take them, you have to make the choice to give them to him. He gave you free will, remember? That allows you the choice to do what you want with your life. That includes holding onto things that are hurting you.
It is never easy to face pain. The tough decisions we need to make in order to heal…let’s face it…suck! But at some point you have to realize that one day, like it or not, they will have to be faced. Why not do it now? Why not finally realize that you have the right to life! You have the right to a life without pain, suffering and sorrow. Suffering is not and never was God’s plan for you…you chose to feel those things; God did not put that upon you.
Go into silence, even if it is only for 5 minutes a day. Just listen to your breathing and every time a thought comes in re-focus on your breath. Ideally, you want to get to 20 minutes in the morning and 20 minutes in the evening of meditative silence. You will be amazed at how you miraculously heal. The road may feel rough at first but the ride is worth it. ðŸ˜‰
“The price of anything is the amount of life you exchange for it.”
~Henry David Thoureau
Helping love make its stand on Mother Earth,
The alarm goes off; you crawl out of bed (hopefully take a shower) and begin your day. The “hamster wheel of life” continues…bringing with it more to do with each moment. Do you ever feel totally consumed with all there is to do? I don’t know about you but to me it feels as if just when I seem to get caught up with my to-do list, more things get piled on. It is as if there is an evil fairy cackling in the background saying, “You thought you were done…ha ha ha…just wait until you see this!”
Many have found themselves caught up in the web of life this summer…busy beyond belief and not knowing what to do first. I know life can be overwhelming at times. It is when life seems to be running us instead of us running our lives that we need to step back and take a look at two things: our priorities and our why?
The only thing that is asked of us is to do our best every day. What defines your best? That depends. Your best will vary depending on the circumstances you find yourself in and where your energy is that day. Are you feeling sick vs. healthy? Energized vs. fatigued? Joyful vs. sad? Sometimes universal energies are moving through and you just feel “off center” for a day. However you feel learn to listen to your body and honor what it is telling you. If you are tired, rest or take a break. If you are at work and it is 2pm when you are at your lowest energy, do those things that take less energy, such as answering emails or filing. Save the high energy tasks for the times of day you feel good.
Your best action is the answer to your productivity issues. Doing your best at any given moment entails knowing how you feel in that moment. Depending on how you feel, give the best you can in that moment with no judgment. Any action is better than no action (and action sometimes includes taking a nap!). If you keep a daily “to-do” list, prioritize that list. Make the #1 thing on your list the most important thing you have to do that day, #2 the second most important thing you need to do that day, etc. Start your day working on #1 and do not move to #2 until #1 is finished (if you are working on a project, allot a certain amount of time to work on #1, such as 2 hours instead of working until it is finished). Even if the day ends and you have only finished #1, you can rest assured you at least finished the most important thing that day; your #1 priority.
Speaking of priorities, what are yours personally? Family, career, money? Take a moment to define them. Balance, my friends, is not a 50/50 split of work and home time…balance is knowing what is important to you in your life right now (your priorities) and putting your energy toward those things on a regular basis. The only time you feel “off” is when you know down deep that you are not putting your time and energy toward those things you feel are important. There is no right or wrong answers when you list your priorities. They are for you and you alone.
When my father was dying of cancer, he lived in Cleveland and I lived in Baltimore. Upon finding out that his cancer was terminal, I made a choice. I decided that I did not want him to pass away and say to myself, “I wish I would have…” So, I made him and my family in Cleveland my priority. I discussed with my husband at the time and my daughters that when grandpa needed me, I would need to go to Cleveland but I loved them very much and it would not be like this forever. I also discussed with my clients that I had a family emergency happening at any time and I may need to call in a replacement speaker if I was not available. I communicated to those whom I had responsibilities. So, when I got a call that my father was in the hospital again, it took me 2 flat seconds to decide what to do. I was in the car or on a plane pronto!
Knowing your priorities also makes decision making so much easier. There is no more going back and forth between, “should I do this or that?”
All we are asked to do is our best. Refrain from being so hard on yourself. You judge yourself harder than anyone around you. Please stop. You are doing the best you can at this moment in your life, with what you know and where you are in your self/spiritual development. There is no one watching you and comparing how you did today vs. yesterday. Only you are doing that. Be kind to yourself today, listen to what those inner nudges are telling you and just do what you know to be your best. Who cares what others think…they are not you nor do they see with your eyes. Love yourself today!
“Do not be concerned about the future; keep your attention on today, and stay in the present moment. Just live one day at a time. Always do your best. Today is the beginning of a new dream!”
~Don Miguel Ruiz
(For more information of “doing your best,” pick up “The Four Agreements,” by Don Miguel Ruiz).
Loving you for who you are today,
“I love you not only for what you are, but for what I am when I am with you. I love you not only for what you have made of yourself, but for what you are making of me. I love you for the part of me that you bring out.” ~Elizabeth Barrett Browning
In order to do some “research,” I thought it may be fun to find out what men and women think we each should know about each other in order to have fulfilling and fun relationships.
Here is the first list for all of you men out there. It is as true as I could make it based on conversations and experiences I have had myself and those of friends and colleagues. It is all meant to be positive and for moving relationships forward (and I decided to have a little fun with it as well!). Our goal is to have long-lasting and fulfilling relationships and once and for all get rid of the BS!
Men, you now have an assignment. After you read this, I need to come up with a list for the women to read. Send your comments and suggestions for the list to email@example.com with “list” in the subject line or comment to this blog. Send them to me by Wednesday, August 8th by 5:00pm EST and I will post them in my blog on Thursday, August 9th as well as include them in my up-coming book on relationships.
“If the Buddha Dated,” by Charlotte Kasl
”I don’t pretend to know what love is for everyone, but I can tell you what it is for me; love is knowing all about someone & still wanting to be with them more than any other person, love is trusting them enough to tell them everything about yourself, including the things you might be ashamed of, love is feeling comfortable & safe with someone, but still getting weak knees when they walk into a room & smile at you.”
Honoring and loving all of the men of my past, present and future,