Monday, December 8, 2014

Kringle Coaches Warlock, Change Imminent


North Pole (NP WIRE) December 8, 2014 - Another holiday miracle is sweeping the nation causing widespread goodwill, uplifted spirits, and hope to the humbug. The trending craze was sparked by the recent streaming of the Rankin and Bass production of Santa Claus is Coming to Town—a 1970's holiday television classic.

In a pivotal scene, the Winter Warlock tells a young Kris Kringle, "It's so difficult to really change," to which Kringle replies, "Changing from bad to good's as easy as taking your first step." Kringle continues by breaking into a merry song about changing ones life by taking a step at a time. Kringle is joined in the festive holiday scene by Topper—a dancing penguin adopted earlier by Kringle—as well as other animals from the enchanted forest.

According to Kringle,"Put one foot in front of the other, and soon you are walking 'cross the floor. Put one foot in front of the other, and soon you'll be walking out the door!" Profound and simple wisdom from an elf, but easy enough for a warlock to put into practice. In fact, with the help of a choo-choo train and Kringle's witty song and dance, Winter's icy heart is melted within minutes. A true Christmas miracle!

Kringle's song drives a simple point. We all have the potential to make changes no matter where we are on our life journey, and truly lasting change comes in small steps—one at a time. Each step evolves into a new habit, and over time our new healthy habits can become major life changes. 

This week, take a note from Coach Kringle and try the 1+1 Challenge:
  1. Write down one thing you’d like to stop doing and one thing you’d like to start doing to help bring better balance to your life (i.e., I will stop checking my email every ten minutes, and, I will start taking a 30-minute walk each day)
  2. Put this list where you can see it—on your laptop, iPad, desktop, or sticky note on your bathroom mirror (this reporter's favorite strategy)
  3. Focus on making only those changes this week
  4. Notice the results
Then each week, add one thing and remove another until you start seeing positive changes. Perhaps you, too, can melt an icy heart and experience the benefits of "putting one foot in front of the other", bringing better balance and happiness to your life.

Happy Holidays

Michael Thomas Sunnarborg, North Pole Reporter

Michael Thomas Sunnarborg is an educator, best-selling author, and certified life coach. His passion is to drink hot cocoa while helping people reclaim their power of choice and find better balance in their work, relationships, and life. You can follow Michael on Facebook and Twitter, or find out more at michaelsunnarborg.com


Photo: Aminationmagazine.net
 

Tuesday, November 18, 2014

Are We There Yet?


"Are we there yet?" I asked. "Almost," replied Grandpa. Each minute felt like an hour. After all, it was our first time visiting Florida since Grandma and Grandpa had moved to Tampa from Wisconsin, and Walt Disney World was a dream come true for an 8-year old. The anticipation was killing me, but the wait made the experience that much sweeter. Everything I didn't know about Disney World was waiting for me to discover it.

In the daily events of our lives "getting there" can mean a myriad of things. For our trip in Florida, it meant entering the gates of the Magic Kingdom. In other areas of our lives, "there" might be a new job, finding your soul mate, or buying your first house—it really depends on what you intend to accomplish and how you think you'll feel once you do. But in the meantime, how do we stay present and enjoy the moment?

In his compelling book, The Power of Now, Eckhart Tolle writes, "The more you are focused on time—past and future—the more you miss the Now, the most precious thing there is."

By using common logic and without getting too esoteric, we are actually already "there" in many ways since the only place we can actually (physically) experience is being "here"—the present moment. The Now. And although our powerful thoughts and imagination can take us in many directions—into the past or future—the present moment is where all of our power is.

The moment you have right now is your moment of creation. Everything else is simply your imagination. But your imagination is directly affected by the present moment, and your future is changed by the thoughts you hold. 

Think of your thoughts like a pebble. If a pebble is dropped into a pond it will start a ripple effect. So do your thoughts. In fact, the thoughts you're thinking right now affect your future experiences—they have a ripple effect. Therefore, be sure to focus on those thoughts which are in alignment with your greatest vision. Intention is everything. 
The challenge of anticipation is learning how to be happy in the present moment. Then "getting there" will simply become the next experience, not the only point of happiness.

Learn to be present. Learn to be here. The time is Now. And then when you finally "get there", you can appreciate the whole journey, not just the destination.

To Your Better Balance!

Michael Thomas Sunnarborg

Michael Thomas Sunnarborg is an educator, best-selling author, and certified life coach. His passion is to help people reclaim their power of choice and find better balance in their work, relationships, and life. You can follow Michael on Facebook and Twitter, or find out more at michaelsunnarborg.com

Monday, November 3, 2014

Losing it? Get it Back


Tired? Stressed out? Lost your sense of balance? You actually haven’t lost anything. You’ve just forgotten how to access what’s already within you. "Huh?" you say. Yes, it's true, but let me give you a little more background first.
 

Last week I had the privilege to speak at Elliott Masie's Learning 2014—an annual conference held in Orlando, Florida, which brings together more than 1,700 education and learning professionals from around the world to meet, share best practices, learn from one another, and be inspired by a variety of thought leaders.

During one of my breakout sessions, the question of "How?" entered the better balance discussion. With so many competing priorities in our busy world, how do we find better balance while juggling our relationships, work, and family?
 

We don't actually "find" anything; we return to a natural state that's already within us.

Think about young children. They are often happy without reason, generally accept anyone introduced to them, and most don't have issues like adults do… well, not yet. Their world of experience is small and they are easily in alignment with their natural internal happiness—something many of us "big kids" have easily forgotten—well, until we go on vacation, attend a really good concert, or experience a pocket of joy outside of our normal routine.


But, seriously, wouldn't it feel better to experience that "happy state" more often? I have good news for you. We can.

Remember: We are naturally born in a state of equilibrium, but as we age and become distracted by the fears of the world we begin to stray from our innate sense of well-being. With that in mind, we can return to better balance by removing the barriers and blockages within us, many of them created by our own thoughts and behaviors. We can start feeling the "happy state" without taking a cruise to Jamaica (although that does sound appealing during the Minnesota winter...)

In my writing and coaching I introduce a three-step process: 1) Awareness; 2) Alignment; and 3) Activation, to help jump-start the process of returning to better balance:

1) Awareness. Your powerful consciousness is absorbing and processing everything in your environment—sights, sounds, and smells—whether you realize it or not. In order to find better balance in your life, you must first become aware of the factors that influence your balance. Some themes include: Thoughts, Feelings, Intuition, Fear, Communication, Power, and Choice.

2) Alignment. Alignment happens both on the inside and outside of you. Internally, this means that you strive to be conscious of your thoughts, feelings, and intuition so that your behaviors reflect your true values. Externally, this means that over time, you bring your attitudes, actions, and words closer to your fundamental beliefs. Some themes include: Relationships, Truth, Intention, Purpose, Trust, Listening, and Appreciation.

3) Activation. Activation puts theory into practice and thoughts into motion. Without activation, good ideas are only ideas. Activation is the key to implementation and the third step to finding better balance. Some themes include: Focus, Softening Your Stance, Boundaries, Perspective, Living Your Passion, Gratitude, and Managing the Leader Within.

So the next time you'd like to conjure up the feelings of "vacation freedom", then I encourage you to start applying the steps to your life. You can even allow me to walk you through the steps, answer questions, and complete a few short exercises in my book, 21 Days, Steps & Keys... or any of the individual books. 


I believe that through deliberate effort, you can begin to return to that natural sense of balance in your work, relationships, and life. It's your choice.

To Your Better Balance!

Michael Thomas Sunnarborg

Michael Thomas Sunnarborg is an educator, best-selling author, and certified life coach. His passion is to help people reclaim their power of choice and find better balance in their work, relationships, and life. You can follow Michael on Facebook and Twitter, or find out more at michaelsunnarborg.com


Monday, October 20, 2014

Your Big But


In the 1985 movie Pee Wee’s Big Adventure, Simone is telling Pee Wee Herman about her dreams of living in Paris. She finishes her story with, “…but, ” and then tells him that Andy, her controlling boyfriend, will never let her go. Pee Wee responds with the classic line, “Everyone I know has a big but.” Pee Wee makes a good point.
 

I was reminded of this recently during a coaching session. My client and I were working on aligning him towards his ideal job, and throughout the conversation he kept saying, “…but I don’t think I can do (this) or (that),” or, “...but they probably won’t hire me because…” As our session progressed, I watched his but get bigger and bigger. As his doubts increased, so did his but.

So what's up with the big but? Why the doubt? And where do our big buts come from?

First, let’s look to science. In his book, The Mindful Path to Self-Compassion, Dr. Christopher Germer states, “We have evolved for survival, not happiness, and thus have a natural tendency to focus on the negative.” Considering that our brains are naturally hardwired for problem-solving, sticking our but into everything comes naturally. Just call it pragmatic contingency planning. All fine and dandy until your but gets too big—then it just slows you down. When doubt and pessimism become your default setting, you end up dragging your but wherever you go.

Why We But In:
•    Protecting a belief system (covering your but)
•    Avoiding disappointment (saving your but)
•    Fear of re-occurrence (but it happened before…)
•    Bad habits (unaware we're being a but head)

So how do you lose your but? You don’t. However, you can reduce your but size.

Tips on Butting Out:
•    Eliminate doubt by trusting the process
•    Release the need to control outcomes
•    Change your default setting to optimistic
•    Do what you can, and then it let go

Finally, pay attention to feedback from others. Try having a friend or coworker call you out on your but. And the next time you’re feeling doubt you can ask them, “Does my but look big to you? Really, you can tell me. I trust you.”

To Your Better Balance!




Michael Thomas Sunnarborg
 

Find better balance in your work, relationships, and life. 
Visit 21daystobetterbalance.com to learn more. And look for the new trilogy book, 21 Days, Steps & Keys launching November 1, 2014. Get all three books in one!

Michael Thomas Sunnarborg is an educator, author, and life coach, who helps people reclaim their power of choice to find better balance and happiness in their work, relationships, and life. You can reach him at michael@sunnarborg.com


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Friday, October 10, 2014

Free Book, Anyone?

To celebrate the upcoming release of: 21 Days, Steps & Keys: The Complete Book Series to Better Balance, I am giving away 5 personally-signed copies on Goodreads. The giveaway starts runs from October 10-November 10, 2014, so be sure to click the link below and register today to win your copy!


Goodreads Book Giveaway

21 Days, Steps & Keys by Michael Thomas Sunnarborg

21 Days, Steps & Keys

by Michael Thomas Sunnarborg

Giveaway ends November 10, 2014.
See the giveaway details at Goodreads.
Enter to win

Monday, October 6, 2014

A New OCD


This past weekend I attended the wedding of my very dear friends, Shawn & Kathleen, in Los Angeles. After I’d arrived, Shawn asked me, “So how was your trip from Minnesota?” “Well, it was actually a bit challenging,” I replied. “First, I forgot your wedding present in the airport bathroom; then I left my phone on the plane in Phoenix; and when I arrived at LAX, I wasn’t even out of the Hertz parking lot when I got in an accident with the rental car. But other than that, I’m doing well!” As you could imagine, Shawn’s face was frozen in state of surprise, and all he could say was, “WHAAAT??”

Yes, “a bit challenging” would have been an understatement if I hadn’t been so calm. How could I be calm? Because I practiced what I affectionately call, the “New OCD”.  Allow me to explain.

With all of the distractions of our mainstream culture via social media and the explosion of technology, the clinical term OCD (Obsessive Compulsive Disorder) has become as common as ADHD (Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder)—words that have now entered our social vernacular. Although OCD refers to extreme activities or excessive behaviors that are based in “intrusive thoughts” that produce fear and worry, it is more serious than just a personality quirk. People with OCD often need medical and psychological help.

Our thoughts and feelings can rule (and ultimately, "ruin") our lives. The only way to transform our automatic programming—which comes from years and years of our own experiences—is to release the connections to our triggers and patterns by releasing the belief that we are the thoughts and feelings that we experience. The largest part of this process includes becoming the "observer" or our fears rather than allowing them to trigger us into unconscious, and often destructive, behaviors. There are only two responses you can have to your thoughts and feelings: resistance or allowance. When you resist something, it continues to exist. But when you learn to allow things to come up and pass through you, they will eventually fade away. In his book, The Untethered Soul, Michael Singer does an extraordinary job of explaining this. I highly recommend the book if you’re ready for real change.

So in my life, I decided to learn how to manage my thoughts and feelings in a way that felt healthy to me. Now, whenever my emotions are triggered, I think a different OCD:   

1)  Observe. Step one is to observe what's happening. Be conscious. Be awake. Pay attention to what triggers your emotions. It may be a person, a smell, or even something simple like a song, but notice your immediate reactions. What just happened? What thoughts or feelings came up? What is happening when you are suddenly feeling anger? Sadness? Confusion? Stress?

2)  Contain. Step two is to contain the situation. Hold the event as a single moment, whether it has triggered something from the past or the present (or even the future if it’s something you’re worrying about that hasn’t happened yet). Treat the event as exactly what it is. Avoid connecting it with anything or anyone else. Just hold it right there.

3)  Detach. The third and final step is to detach from the thoughts or feelings. Know that even though you are experiencing them, THEY ARE NOT YOU. Become the detached observer of the event. Through your observation, quickly notice your reaction and then stop and carefully choose your response. Resist the temptation to let the emotion take over your power of choice and send you “off and running”.  Emotions are very melodramatic. Can you stay present and not allow this energy to take you away? Can you open your heart and allow yourself to face this fear? Can you walk through it instead of avoiding it?

Some Tips:

  • Time is critical. When something comes up, you need to immediately implement OCD—the sooner the better. Stay conscious. Focus. Breathe.
  • Practice OCD. How does it work for you? What comes up? When do you stay focused and when is it more difficult?
  • Make it a game to see if you can do it! Challenge yourself to see if you can get better at it each time something comes up.
Remember that reacting is natural, but responding is thoughtful. A deliberate response can be much healthier than a reactive one. Take the time to choose your responses wisely and see the results. With some practice, you will find that practicing OCD will allow you to move through any type of crisis quickly and seamlessly. It will take some work at first, but you will get better with time.

So what resulted from my “challenging" day? Minutes after I realized I’d lost the bag containing Shawn’s wedding present, I heard an announcement on the airport PA system, “If you are the owner of a gray Johnston & Murphy bag, it was found in the Men’s restroom and can be claimed at Gate 21”; as for my phone left on the plane, the Gate Agent was happy to go back onto the plane and find it for me so I could make my connecting flight; and the fender bender? Ah, that’s why we have insurance. I filled out an accident report and 15 minutes later I was on the 405 with my new rental car. No drama. No stress. I just breathed and practiced OCD. Worked for me. And it could work for you, too.

To Your Better Balance!

Michael Thomas Sunnarborg


Find better balance in your life, relationships, and work. 
Visit 21daystobetterbalance.com and learn more. And look for the new trilogy book, 21 Days, Steps & Keys... coming November 1, 2014. Get all three books in one!

Monday, September 22, 2014

Your Mind: Teacher, Creature, or Companion?




"It's mind over matter." "Make up your mind!" "Oh, never mind..." Just think about how frequently the word "mind" enters our daily conversations. Our minds are an integral part of our three-part being: mind, body, and spirit. We often associate the mind with our head, thought, and logic. But despite the form in which we imagine our minds to take, there are some very different roles the mind can play in our daily lives:

  • Teacher: The mind is a powerful and complex teacher. It re-minds us when we’ve forgotten facts or figures and helps us through a challenging problem. It causes us to stop and think when we need to make a decision, and uses our previous experiences as reference in order to make better choices. It keeps a record of everything we’ve ever thought, said, and done, and uses memory to bring us the gift of contrast (“Been there; done that”).

    Our mind works with our feelings and sends us signals that something might be awry and we need to pay attention to it. It is the reflective and supportive adviser—helping us weigh the pros and cons from changing our internet service provider to changing our views about the importance of diet and exercise. It’s with us every day, every hour, every minute, and doesn’t like to be shut off. But once in a while it will allow us to be away from it... maybe for a minute or an hour... and then when we reunite it's like plugging back-in and booting up the computer. Class is back in session.


  • Creature: The mind is a powerful and complex creature. It creeps around and waits for the opportunity to jump out and scare us, or catches us by surprise when we’re not looking. It lurks around the dark corners with a mirror and attempts to make us look into it and judge our appearance. It can be the constant critic, judge, and antagonist, carrying around a thick history book of everything we’ve ever thought, said, and done, and then re-minds us about our mistakes and uses them against us like a court of law where we're guilty until proven innocent.

    Our mind has a voice recorder that plays back every negative word that every person has said to us, sticking to our fears like a sliver we can't remove. It keeps us up worrying at night, wakes us up with a headache in the morning, and never stops running. And we’re tired of the chase. Sometimes we’d rather be without it. It controls our manners when we’ve been scolded and makes us feel ashamed for who we are. It can be our worst enemy. And if we spend too much time focusing on what it is constantly saying, it can make us feel crazy and out of control.

  • Companion: The mind is powerful and complex companion. It wishes us happy birthday, and re-minds us where we parked the car in the stadium parking lot. It’s there to provide a history of everything we’ve ever thought, said, and done, and then uses our success to re-mind us about how far we’ve come. It plays back the recordings of anyone who’s ever thanked us, praised us, or shouted our name as we raced toward the finish line. It allows us to take a moment to pause and reflect upon a fond memory triggered by a beautiful song or the smell of fresh-baked cookies.

    Our mind is there to help us stay calm amidst a crisis, or speak a kind word to a friend in need. It’s our constant friend, confidant, and partner. And it always answers when we call. It’s there to motivate, encourage, and inspire us, and becomes the coach urging us to hang in there and just keep swimming. It reminds us that it’s okay to make mistakes, and it forgives us every time—no exception. It loves and accepts us as we are. It is our best friend and our family. It holds us when we are alone and reminds us that everything will be okay.

Question: Is your mind playing the role of teacher, creature or companion today? Depending on the situation, it could playing the role of one, two, or all three at once. But the most important thing to remember is that it’s our choice to pay attention to what feels best. Whichever voice we focus on becomes the loudest. 

The best part is that we can control our minds. We can choose to focus on the teacher, creature, or the companion. When our minds are working for us in a positive and supportive way, we can better connect with our inner beings and bring more alignment and consistency to our lives. That’s the secret to finding better balance.

Today, become aware of your thoughts and the role of your mind, and remember you have the power of choice. Then, choose wisely what you consider your truth… for it is, truly, “all in your mind”.

To Your Better Balance!

Michael Thomas Sunnarborg

Find better balance in your life, relationships, and work. 
Visit 21daystobetterbalance.com and learn more.