Tuesday, March 24, 2015

The Nudge


 We are not human beings on a spiritual journey.
We are spiritual beings on a human journey.

Stephen R. Covey

Ever get a "nudge" to do or say something? 

Something I learned early-on in my writing and coaching work was to give my thoughts, feelings, and intuition a voice—a way to better understand the language of my mind, body, and spirit. We all perceive information through our senses and this information is being filtered and translated into our thoughts, feelings, and intuition. We can use our words to describe how we're thinking or feeling, but how do those internal voices work?
 

Usually the loudest voice—our Mind—is busy analyzing information and making conclusions. Simultaneously, our Body is translating all the visual, audio, and tactile stimuli of our busy world and giving us feedback through the voice our feelings. Logic and emotion—the constant balance between head and heart. But while our minds and bodies are "doing", our Spirits are just "being". In fact, our Spiritual energy is working with the power of our intentions—consciously and subconsciously—and the voice of Spirit is always coming from a place that knows what we really want, versus what our minds and bodies think we want. I equate intuition as a "gut feeling", or sensation in the pit of my stomach.

Since Spirit is the eternal part of our tri-part being, the quiet voice of our Spirit gives us little nudges and hints throughout the day. This nudge may come to us as, “I should hold this door open for that person,” or “I can spare some change for the woman ahead of me in line.” Sometimes it's even just a smile to a passing stranger. Spirit never asks from us more than we can give at a given moment. Spirit knows us and our boundaries. In fact, our Spirit lets us exercise our healthy boundaries and create new ones, while our Mind may have us thinking in old patterns or behavior and repeating the same mistakes. Been there, done that!

By paying attention to those little nudges throughout the day, you can get closer to hearing your natural intuition. In fact, if you get quiet and really listen, you will start to hear the calm rhythm within. And once you start accessing the energy of your Spirit, you can bring your thoughts and feelings into better alignment with intuition, and activate that knowledge to create better balance in your life—awareness, alignment, activation: the balance formula is complete.

How can you be quiet and listen to the intuitive voice within you this week?


To Your Better Balance!

Michael Thomas Sunnarborg


Need some inspiration? Pick up a copy of 21 Days, Steps & Keys, or one of the other books in the balance series, and start off 2015 by finding better balance in your career, relationships, and life. You can also tune into Michael's recent radio interview with Sharvette Mitchell at: (Michael starts after 31:00).

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 

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Tuesday, March 10, 2015

Our Chronic Thoughts


Thoughts are extremely powerful. In fact, our thoughts create our reality as we experience it. Much like a captain navigating the sea, our thoughts command the wheel of our ship and point us toward a destination.

I asked one of my coaching clients last week about a potential employment opportunity to which he replied, “I can't do that. I've never done that before." As we continued, I could see a pattern unfolding. His perspectives about everything in his life—his career, relationships, choices and experiences—were coming from a place of lack. He felt that his life was filled with so many things he didn't want. It was just never enough.

My next question was, “So what do you want?” To which he had a difficult time responding. Since he’d been so focused on what he didn’t want for so long, he couldn’t clarify what he wanted. He’d lost his focus. Everything he was experiencing in his life was a direct result of his chronic thought patterns.

Each of us have an "emotional default setting" that was formed at an early age—usually during our impressionable childhood years—by the environment and the people around us. In turn, this default became the foundation for a set of matching beliefs and the chronic patterns of thought associated with those beliefs. This is helpful if our patterns of thought are positive; but can be very challenging if they're negative. Negative belief systems create what are called limiting beliefs.


Limiting beliefs can be recognized by statements such as:
  • "I have no choice."
  • "Life is a struggle."
  • "I made my decision and now I need to stick with it."
  • "Things never go my way."
  • "I always seem to mess things up—that’s just my nature."
  • "Other people always seem so much happier than me."
  • "This is just the cruel hand life’s dealt to me."
They may also take the form of questions:
  • "How come I never get what I really want?"
  • "Why is life so difficult?"
  • "What is wrong with me?"
  • "Why do bad things always happen to me?"
  • "How come everyone else is succeeding while I’m failing?"
  • "How can I possibly be a good friend/mother/brother/coworker when I can’t even be good to myself?"

Each of those statements and questions come from limiting beliefs. What they don't consider is often they've been created by simple observations (i.e., one experience or one observation), or have been passed down to us by others and we've chosen to believe them with limited firsthand experience.


There is another perspective that brings hope, clarity, and relief: it’s called reframing.

Reframing is the practice of recognizing that how we respond to something is just as important (and sometimes more important) than the actual event. We can choose our attitude just as easily as we choose our clothing!

Reframing includes developing a higher tolerance for ambiguity and being willing to take a new perspective without have the proof to back it up. Reframing requires trust and facilitates hope. Reframing always gives us options, especially regarding limiting beliefs:


  • "I have no choice," becomes,
  • "I always have choices, even if it's only my attitude."
  • "Life is a struggle," becomes, 
  • "Life can be challenging, but it's helping me grow."
  • "I made my decision and now I have to stick with it," becomes,
  • "I realize that things change, and I can always choose again." 

Can you see how this works?


This week, make the conscious choice to become aware of your limiting beliefs (catch yourself when you think or say them!) and practice reframing your perspective. You may quickly notice your energy shifting and your mood improving. Eventually, your limiting beliefs can become unlimited beliefs and you'll start navigating your ship towards new destinations. Think: The Bahamas instead of the cold Atlantic!

To Your Better Balance

Michael Thomas Sunnarborg

Need some inspiration? Pick up a copy of 21 Days, Steps & Keys, or one of the other books in the balance series, and start off 2015 by finding better balance in your career, relationships, and life. You can also tune into Michael's recent radio interview with Sharvette Mitchell at: (Michael starts after 31:00).

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

Image courtesy of discovery-zone.com

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Monday, February 23, 2015

Favorite Things


Last evening during the 2015 Oscars celebration, Lady Gaga sang a 50th anniversary tribute to the movie The Sound of Music, a 1965 American musical film starring Julie Andrews and Christopher Plummer.

Thinking back to the first time I saw the stage version of that musical (which I'd actually auditioned for and didn't get... *sigh), I remember one song that always made me smile: My Favorite Things. I liked the song because it was about remembering those things which bring us happiness. Sometimes, just thinking about our favorite things can help put us into a spirit of appreciation, which reminds us to be thankful for what we have and love.

So on a semi-regular basis (especially on those "down days"), I will start a list of my Favorite Things, and soon I will start to feel lighter... or, as Julie Andrews' character puts it—"...then I don't feel so bad."

Although my most recent list doesn't contain Raindrops on Roses or Whiskers on Kittens (listen to the song), it does contain many things that give me a lift whenever I think of them. So here's a recent list of my 50 Favorite Things. How many of these things can you relate to?
  1. Sitting around a campfire
  2. A fresh cup of coffee
  3. Warm fresh-baked chocolate chip cookies
  4. The feeling right after good exercise: body buzzing with life and energy!
  5. Staying up late with friends talking, telling stories, and laughing until my face aches
  6. Going for a walk through freshly fallen snow while it’s still soft and sparkly
  7. The anticipation at the beginning of any game, show, or concert
  8. The holidays and that renewed feeling of appreciation
  9. Comfortable shoes
  10. Music that makes my body want to move
  11. Moments of peace and quiet
  12. Moments of loud crazy fun
  13. Prolific pontification stimulating engagement in apophenia
  14. Cool stuff that lights up
  15. One of those excellent books you can’t wait to keep reading
  16. A personal epiphany—or "light bulb moment"
  17. Bacon
  18. A new haircut
  19. The fact that I don’t know how to file my tax return, I don’t want to know how to file my tax return, and I am happy to pay someone to do it each year
  20. That my family are best friends and my best friends are family
  21. Trees
  22. Being by water, over water, under water, on the water, in the water... etc.
  23. Traveling. Anywhere. Especially places with mountains
  24. That feeling right after watching a really good film where you were transported to another world and having to adjust back to “reality” (whatever that is...)
  25. Things I don’t understand or never seen/heard/thought of before
  26. Muse driving, muse walking, muse traveling, muse (anything): just following my nose
  27. The unexpected
  28. The expected
  29. Making lists of favorite things
  30. Meeting people who change my life
  31. Freedom of choice
  32. Starting with an idea, expanding the idea, trying different approaches, revising the idea, adding more to the idea, refining the idea, review, rewrite, spell check, run past a friend for feedback, revise, edit, and then realize your final product has changed drastically and looks only remotely like your original idea, but the process was well worth it and now your idea is absolutely awesome!! (still with me...?)
  33. Playing cards and board games with my parents
  34. A blank piece of paper
  35. A new baseball cap
  36. Heights
  37. Walking through busy airports while Lisa Gerrard serenades me from my iPod
  38. Lying on my bed staring at the ceiling while Lisa Gerrard serenades me from my iPod
  39. Lisa Gerrard
  40. Remembering that we are all a version of source (God) energy in human form, and that we are creating our experience with every thought, word, and deed
  41. Making someone’s day by not doing anything but spending time with them
  42. Someone making my day by not doing anything but spending time with me
  43. Puppies
  44. When I get a check in the mail and don’t know how much it’s for
  45. When I get a check in the mail and know how much it’s for
  46. Trying something new that excites and scares me at the same time
  47. The feeling of starting a new project
  48. The feeling of completing a project
  49. Sitting and talking
  50. Sitting and listening
How about you? What are some of your Favorite Things? Try making a list and see how you feel after you read it. Perhaps you, too, will experience the feeling of alignment and happiness that comes with appreciation.

To Your Better Balance!

Michael Thomas Sunnarborg

Need some inspiration? Pick up a copy of 21 Days, Steps & Keys, or one of the other books in the balance series, and start off 2015 by finding better balance in your career, relationships, and life. You can also tune into Michael's recent radio interview with Sharvette Mitchell at: (Michael starts after 31:00).

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

Image compliments of post-movie.net

Monday, February 9, 2015

Simplify Your Life


Many people are looking for better balance and happiness in life. Through my writing and coaching, I help guide people towards those goals by providing them with options. One of my favorite lines of questioning includes challenging the complexity of people's lives.

Some questions include: What things are you currently experiencing in your life that you no longer want? How are complex or difficult relationships helping or hurting you? In what ways can you simplify areas of your life to bring you more peace and happiness?

Here are tips in three areas of your life to help get you started down the road to simplicity:

Simply Your Choices
  • Just because you can doesn't mean you should. To optimize your power of choice, pay careful attention to the results of your choices. Make your choices and notice the consequences. Be willing to try something new. And remember you can always choose again. Sounds simple, but not always easy.
  • Like a good parent or teacher, give yourself options. For example, I choose from three different health-related activities each day: swim, gym or nap. I need to choose one activity each day, but I don't have rules about which activity or how often I can choose it. I give myself the choice and allow myself to go with whatever I'm feeling that day—no judgments.
  • Help out your health. Keep a supply of healthy food choices stocked in your cupboard, refrigerator, and desk drawer at work. Avoid running low on healthy snacks or you might be tempted to binge on something you don't really need. Save the treats for special occasions!
Simplify Your Relationships
  • Take inventory of your current relationships. Which people are adding to your life? Which people are taking too much of your time and energy? Who is really supporting you, or who is waiting for you to do something for them? Think carefully. Choose which relationships to nurture accordingly.
  • Invest more in the most important people. I know this sounds obvious, but there is a tremendous power in incremental investments. Think of your most cherished relationships like a savings account. Adding a small deposit each week equates to large payoffs down the road.
  • Rise to meet conflict by softening your stance. Think about the outcome (what you really want out of a situation), and stay focused on the goal while you approach it with curiosity instead of coercion. Better resolution comes through collaboration rather than collision. Seek to win-win!
Simplify Your Outlook
  • I'm not speaking about your Outlook email account (although that could be another blog!), but rather Simplify your outlook on life. When you see that all of your choices—and ultimately your experiences—stem from your own unique perspective, you can learn to accept that your perception does, indeed, create your reality.
  • Develop a higher tolerance for ambiguity. There are so many unknowns and variables in our world. Developing a higher tolerance for ambiguity means learning to be more at ease with "not knowing". In other words, by allowing yourself to learn from the momentum of your experience, you don't need to figure everything out right away. Be patient. Watch. See what happens.
  • Learn to accept all things and people as they are. Right now. In all ways. Simple? Yes. Easy to do? Not so much. When you start to allow the things and people in your environment to exist without judging them (if they are "right or wrong"), then you are in harmony with nature. Pay attention to your own path and allow others to keep theirs. We are only responsible for our own journey, not the journey for anyone else.

My hope is that by making a few small changes here and there, you will notice how simplifying your life in subtle ways can have a profound on your feelings of balance and equilibrium. Besides, balance is already within you, so let it shine.

To Your Better Balance!

Michael Thomas Sunnarborg

Need a bit more motivation? Pick up a copy of 21 Days to Better Balance, or one of the other books in the balance series, and start off 2015 by finding better balance in your career, relationships, and life. You can also tune into Michael's recent radio interview with Sharvette Mitchell at: (Michael starts after 31:00).

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, January 26, 2015

A New Year. Really?


New year's resolutions. New eating plans. New goals and objectives. New rules. New gym membership. New morning routine. New attitude. New job. New enthusiasm. New relationship. A new start! Or is it?

Whether we realize or not, the new year always brings about a shift in our perspective. And it's simply due to one fact: a calendar date.

Does the universe really know what day, month, or year it is? As human beings, we are inherently "chronologically impaired": we rely on the clock and calendar to organize our lives. But time is just an illusion created (by us) in order to understand where we relate in the scheme of things. It's only our concept of time that is real.

Our perception is our reality—and we are creating our reality each moment, regardless of "what time it is."

So what does this have to do with the new year? Everything. The new year is the illusion. The choice to make changes is the reality. Sure, the new year is a trigger for change, but you can change at any time. Why wait until January 1st?

Creating change in your life may be simple, but not easy. Creating healthy habits takes effort and with change comes loss. We grieve old patterns (even if they're unhealthy), and creating new habits takes dedication and commitment. Nothing substantial happens overnight. But change is possible, and you can start whenever you want.

Here's a few tips for developing healthy habits that will stick:
  • Change one thing at a time. Pick something you'd like to change. See how it works. Course correct, if needed. Choose again, but don't go back to old habits. For example, instead of reaching for soda, try a vitamin drink, low sugar juice or flavored sparkling water. If you don't like your choice, choose something else, but don't go back to soda. Think forward.
  • Ease into your exercise routine. Just because you jogged 3 miles or took the 1-hour Zumba class in the past doesn't mean you can jump right back into your old routine overnight. Build back slowly. Be patient. Allow your body to readjust. If you push too hard, you will pay. Pain is not a sign that you're doing it right.
  • Consciously choose your food. Stop the autopilot. Think before you bite. Look at labels. Watch portion size (most portions at restaurants are double or triple the size of what you really need). Save dessert for special occasions. Getting through your week is not a special occasion.
  • Get the right tools before you begin. To do anything right you need the right support. For example, if you've been meaning to re-organize the hall closet, open it up and do a quick assessment of what is needed to do the job right (i.e., buy some new shelving, shoe rack, bins, etc.) before you start cleaning. A few minutes of planning can save you hours of extra work.
  • Avoid projecting. When we think outside of ourselves, we project. For example, what do I look like as I'm doing (this)? What do others think of me? What are other people doing that I'm not doing? Why can't I (look, talk, act, be...) like them? Focus only on yourself. This is about you.
  • Support yourself. Make a commitment to do your best, believe you are doing your best, and then do your best at whatever it is you are desiring to change. And if you fall off the wagon, get back on. Don't give up. Believe in yourself. Respect the process. And don't blame anyone else for your results. Own it. Do it. Create the change for yourself.
Remember: it doesn't take New Year's Eve to create changes in your life. Decide what areas of your life need new direction and try something new. What's the worst case scenario? You learn! The most important this is that you tried. In the words of Wayne Gretsky, "You miss 100% of the shots you don't take."

Take a shot, and go for the goal. 

To Your Better Balance!

Michael Thomas Sunnarborg

Bring in the new year by returning to the natural balance within you. Need a bit of motivation? Pick up a copy of 21 Days to Better Balance, or another book in the series, and start off 2015 by finding better balance in your career, relationships, and life!

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, January 12, 2015

Mom Was Right


Ah, the simple things. In our busy lives, the small things—like finding your keys or keeping a clean kitchen—can make a world of difference. Simple habits practiced over time can have a profound effect on your sense of balance—especially when you develop healthy and consistent habits for yourself.

As an adult, I still hear my Mom's voice giving me practical nuggets of advice—in fact, sometimes I hear them several times a day!

Let's admit it. Mom was right about a lot of stuff. Simple things do, indeed, add-up. Even small changes or modifications can add up to major shifts. Just think about what would've happened if the Titanic had started changing course just a few minutes earlier?

So let's review some of the simple advice my Mom gave to me and my sister over the years—many things that are still good reminders today.

Simple Tips from Mom:
 
•    Pick up after yourself
•    If you can do it now, do it now
•    Put things in the same place every time (i.e., your keys)
•    Do the dishes and clean up right after you're done eating
•    Use reusable sticky notes reminders for the bathroom mirror or front door
•    Hide a $20 in your jacket or pocket of your pants for a fun surprise
•    Create a stash of healthy snacks within reach at home and work
•    Add 5-10 minutes to your start time and arrive early
•    Avoid "stinking thinking" and re-frame negative thoughts (i.e., could be worse!)
•    Take time to stop and give thanks throughout your day
•    Drop a friendly note into someone's (or your own) lunchbox
•    Focus on one thing at a time
•    Be aware of the company you keep
•    "Don't borrow sorrow from tomorrow"
•    Remind yourself, "The world needs me today!" (Thanks, Grandpa :o)

Simple, yes, but still applicable. Thank you, Yvonne, for all of the sound advice that I still practice—as best I can—to this day.

What advice do you still follow from a Mom, Dad, teacher, or friend? How many of these things help lead you to better balance and happiness in your life?

To Your Better Balance!

Michael Thomas Sunnarborg

Bring in the new year by returning to the natural balance within you. Need a bit of motivation? Pick up a copy of 21 Days to Better Balance, or another book in the series, and start off 2015 by finding better balance in your career, relationships, and life!

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

 

Monday, December 22, 2014

Healthy Holidays!

 

Speaking from someone who loves to celebrate, this time of year can be most exciting. The holiday season gives us opportunities to be thankful, giving, and ring in another new year. With all of these reasons to act in exceptional ways, this time of year can also cause many of us to lose our sense of equilibrium. Stress, expectations, and "waiting until the last minute" to get something done can push us out of alignment and affect our natural sense of balance.

As the holiday season is moving into full swing, here are some quick tips to help us maintain better balance in our mind, body and spirit while we celebrate this exciting time of year:
  • Get plenty of rest. The holidays always include extra activities and will take more energy than usual, so getting adequate amounts of rest will let us join in the fun!
  • Drink lots of water and other fluids (including hot teas). This will keep us properly hydrated and less prone to holiday germs.
  • Eat healthy foods high in vitamins and minerals. Most of us will eat some holiday treats (candy, chocolate, etc.), but be sure to keep it balanced with healthy portions of proteins, fruits and vegetables. Too much sugar will spike our energy and can cause headaches and fatigue.
  • Help stop the spread of holiday colds and illness. By covering our mouths when we sneeze or cough, and washing our hands often we lessen the spread of germs. Carry extra tissues with you if your nose is runny or some natural throat lozenges if you have a cough.
  • Get plenty of exercise. Even a short walk in the mornings or evenings will help keep our blood moving. Exercise and stretching helps improve circulation and promotes faster healing!
  • Take time to spend with people. Visiting with our family and friends during our holiday time off and taking the time to reconnect with those we love strengthens our relationships, boosts our immune system, and reconnects us back to ourselves.
  • Unplug a little! Take time off from the busy hustle and bustle: Turn off the ringer on your phone and let calls go to voice mail; take a few days off from Facebook & Twitter—the world won't end without your updated status; don't read email for a couple days; turn off cable and pop in a classic holiday movie. Try to unplug from the world and plug back into a good book, the people, the music, and the nature around you. It's free.
May this holiday season allow you time to relax, refresh, and recharge your batteries, and provide you with the opportunity to connect to the natural balance within you.

To Your Better Balance!

Michael Thomas Sunnarborg

Bring in the new year by returning to the natural balance within you. Need a bit of motivation? Pick up a copy of 21 Days to Better Balance, or another book in the series, and start off 2015 by finding better balance in your career, relationships, and life!

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