5 Rules For Living A Truly Rewarding Life…John Page Burton

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“Rule # 1 is life is hard and it’s unfair”! Growing up I lived next door to a cranky old man who shared “rule # 1” with me every time I mowed his lawn or shoveled his driveway. I routinely smiled and agreed with him out of fear that if I didn’t acknowledge his negativity he might withhold payment for my services. It has been estimated that 65% of our belief system is formed by the time we are eight years old. This “Doubting Thomas” could have left a negative imprint on my 10 year old psyche but I didn’t allow it! Even at a young age I held a belief that achieving anything of value would require hard work and a little bit of luck . All I had to do was look at my lawn mowing, snow removal and lemonade stand business’s to validate this belief.
All of us are governed by internal rules. Most of us established these rules at a young age. It is not uncommon to carry these rules into adulthood. For example, if we were betrayed by a parent(s) at an early age we may have adopted an internal rule that people can’t be trusted. Consequently, we go through life testing everyone’s allegiance. As children, some of us were caught in the wake of divorce. Because of this experience, many felt abandoned and established an internal rule that has kept them from getting “too close to others”  because after all, “they will end up leaving anyway”. The fear of abandonment has caused many of us to habitually test people’s loyalty and we may even adopt a philosophy of “I’ll leave you before you leave me”. These types of rigid internal rules have caused many of us to consistently “blow up” friendships as well as our most intimate of relationships. These types of internal rules not only stunt our personal and emotional growth but also leave us feeling lonely, sad and confused. But let’s not stay in such a negative mind space, instead let’s look at 5 rules that will allow us to live a truly rewarding life!
Rule # 1. Life is an adventure! Live it with passion and purpose! The key is to determine what we desire to achieve and then pursue it with laser focus. Living our lives to please others or taking an easy, comfortable route through life is surviving not thriving. We are never to old to begin a new chapter, sadly far too many closed the book in the prime of their life. CONTINUE TO DREAM BIG AND GO AFTER IT!
Rule # 2. Let go of EXPECTATIONS.  Our goal is to release our death grip on expectations. When we “expect” things to go exactly as we want them to we usually end up disappointed. I have a friend who has made a very long list of “exactly” what she is looking for in a man. Her list is so extensive and demanding that if Jesus Christ asked her out on a date he would end up getting the boot! The reality is that she desires to stay in her comfort zone and will find something wrong with every man she meets and will easily justify it by referring back to her ridiculous list of expectations.
Rule # 3. Trust your inner voice. In my experience, my inner voice is right 90% of the time. When we learn to trust our inner voice and make our decisions accordingly we have fewer regrets. I personally believe that our inner voice is the voice of our creator and I have become conditioned to rely on it. Every time we follow our inner voice and the outcome is positive (90% of the time) we have created a strong reference point for future decision making. When we are facing a tough decision, it is always a good idea to go somewhere quiet and simply listen. The answer can usually be found in our quiet moments.
Rule # 4. The past is a reference point, not a permanent resting place. As a life coach I experience the past on a daily basis. The vast majority of client discomfort involves their attachment to events from the past. It took me years to realize that there wasn’t a thing I could do to change the past. What I could do was change my relationship to it. I could use it as a reference point to help me make better decisions in the present moment. Re-living the past dampens our relationships and the overall experience of the present moment. If you are still enslaved to the past it may be time to seek outside help to determine what pleasure you are deriving from your tired old story.
Rule # 5. Show yourself some GRACE!  We learn through a process commonly referred to as trial and error. In my book, Wisdom Through Failure (2014) I provide countless examples of why failure plays such an important role in the development of our emotional intelligence. Many of us are relentless in our attacks on ourselves. “How could I have been so stupid”, “I should have used better judgement”, “I’m so fat”, “I look stupid in this dress”, “I can’t believe I fell for that guy”, the list of negative self talk is long. The key is to catch ourselves in “mid beat down” and re-phrase our speech. “I will certainly be wiser next time”, “I will keep a closer eye on my food plan”, “I will continue to live with an open heart”, “I look pretty darn good for a man in my mid fifties”. Many of us have become our own worst critic and it’s time to become our own best friend.
If your currently living life by these simple rules….GOOD FOR YOU! If you find yourself living a life that is far from what you know you are capable of, I would encourage you to begin incorporating these rules into your daily routine.  We all deserve to live a rich, rewarding life!
As always, I look forward to your thoughts and feedback.

5 Questions To Ask Yourself Before You Engage In Gossip… John Page Burton

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The truth be known, every now and then most of us enjoy a juicy piece of gossip. These morsels of misery let us know that we are not the only one facing life’s challenges. Misery enjoys company and boy oh boy do those poor Kardashian’s have it rough! Unfortunately, some of us are addicted to gossip. For example, on cool summer evenings my wife and I like to sit outside on our porch, turn on our fire table and enjoy a glass of wine. Sadly, we have a neighbor who loves to gossip. Whenever my wife and I see her walking her dog down the street we instinctively head inside. Sometimes she is able to “sneak up on us” and our conversation with her ALWAYS goes something like this….How are you tonight Babs (fake name)? “Oh heavens I just can’t believe what’s going on with our HOA board and did you hear about so and so and rumor has it that such and such is going on down the street”! She will ramble on and on and then seem quite put out when we come up with some “lame excuse” why we must head back inside. In the three years that we have been exposed to her, she has never once asked my wife or I a single question about our lives or interests but she readily “spews” details about the majority of our neighbors. Some of it is actually quite nasty! Surely, she must have some “dirt” on us that she readily shares with others as she makes her nightly rounds. “You know those Burton’s are (fill in the blank)”. The gleam in her eyes is a dead giveaway to the personal fulfillment that being the “purveyor of secrets” seemingly affords her.

Recently, after a one sided conversation with my neighbor, I began contemplating why some people are just naturally attracted to gossip while others (like myself) are absolutely repelled by it? What motivates someone to become a “serial gossiper”? Lets take a look at some of the possible reasons.

GOSSIP…

Generational. For many, gossip is a learned behavior. Many of us heard our parents, relatives and friends gossip and so in order to fit in we may have actively joined the conversation. Anything we engage in long enough becomes a habit.

Opiate. Similar to most drugs, gossip tends to give us a false sense of contentment. The gossiper gets a “rush” from sharing “secrets” and when their audience nods their heads in approval or offers up an acknowledgement like “REALLY, I didn’t know that”, the gossiper is off and running in an unfiltered continuation of whatever half truths they are sharing.

Significance. Gossipers are fueled by an insatiable need to feel important and be viewed as people “in the know”. When they perceive to have an audience they tend to become even more audacious and their filter is turned all the way to the OFF position.

Societal. Gossip is a societal obsession. The tabloids (National Enquirer) sensationalize and outright lie about everything under the sun yet people clear the news stands with millions of sales each week. Tabloid television (Entertainment Tonight) and reality shows (Housewives of Mozambique) enjoy extremely high ratings because millions of people prefer being anywhere other than in their own reality. Sadly, millions of people rely on gossip as their sole source of information.

Ignorance. Gossip is a by product of ignorance. True intellectuals talk about ideas and solutions, small minds talk about people and problems. I have always been able to get an accurate read on someone by carefully listening to what they talk about!

Power. Gossipers derive a false sense of “power” from  “sharing details about someone else”. There is no genuine “power” in “spewing” personal information and falsity about others. The gossiper is viewed by non gossipers as vicious and untrustworthy. They carry ZERO credibility!

5 QUESTIONS TO ASK YOURSELF BEFORE YOU ENGAGE IN GOSSIP….

1. Would I still share this gossip if the person in question was standing next to me?

2. Is what I’m saying about the other person designed to build them up or discredit them?

3. What void in my life am I trying to fill by routinely gossiping about others?

4. How do I feel when I find out that someone has shared an untruth behind MY back? (Gossipers usually employ a double standard)

5. Who would I become If I made the conscious decision to let go of my need to share gossip?

Nothing positive comes from gossip. Reputations can be ruined, employment opportunities may be tarnished and personal relationships can be damaged or destroyed. Before you engage in any type of gossip I encourage you to ask yourself these 5 questions. I believe that it will help you to make a better, more empowered decision.

As always, I look forward to your thoughts.

If You Think “Life Sucks”, Elevate Your Standards…John Page Burton

In my role as a life and business coach, it’s not uncommon to here the phrase, “life sucks”.  Recently, my friend Lisa posted a great quote that sums up my feelings regarding the chronic use of the phrase “life sucks”. “If you don’t appreciate what you have now, you may find yourself talking about what you once had”. In all fairness, there will be times when life does temporarily “suck” and we are well served to get angry, cry, vent to a friend or release our feelings in other emotionally healthy ways. The danger occurs when we develop a “life sucks” mindset. If we find ourselves slipping into a “life sucks” mindset, it’s time to elevate our standards.

Let’s take a closer look at the word SUCKS

Stagnation. If we’re not growing, we’re dying! Over time, stagnation fosters frustration. Frustrated people tend to use phrases like “life sucks” and routinely blame the outside world for their unhappiness. Solution… GET CURIOUS, TRY NEW THINGS, MEET NEW PEOPLE, COLLECT NEW EXPERIENCES.

Unconscious. When we go through life expecting external conditions to be “perfect” before we can feel happy or fulfilled, we effectively give away our personal power. Rarely, if ever will conditions be “perfect”. Basing our happiness on conditions or expectations is an unconscious way to live. Solution… TAKE RISKS, BE SPONTANEOUS, MARVEL AT LIFE’S IMPERFECTIONS.

Clarity. When we lack clarity of purpose we tend to roll through life accepting whatever life “dishes up”. When it “dishes up” anything we don’t like, we often determine that “life sucks”. Solution… DREAM, SET GOALS, HIRE A COACH, DESIGN A PLAN OF ACTION, GO AFTER WHAT IT IS YOU DESIRE.

Karma. When we operate from a “life sucks” mindset we routinely attract people and situations that validate our assertion. Simply put, we get back more of what we put out. When we operate from a mindset of gratitude, we tend to see life as a series of growth oriented lessons and we begin attracting the right teachers. Solution… SAY THANKS FOR ALL OF YOUR EXPERIENCES, SPEAK UPLIFTING WORDS, OFFER GENUINE PRAISE, TALK NICELY TO YOURSELF.

Scarcity.  A “life sucks” attitude is the bi-product of a scarcity mindset.  Many of us “buy into” the fallacy that there is a shortage of opportunities and resources readily available to us and so we use this fallacy as a convenient excuse to support our assertion that “life sucks”. In reality, there is more than enough of everything for everyone. Solution… TAKE INVENTORY OF ALL YOU HAVE, GIVE AWAY MATERIAL POSSESSIONS YOU DON’T USE OR NEED, TITHE YOUR TIME, TREASURE & TALENT.

RAISE YOUR STANDARDS, CHANGE YOUR LIFE!

A standard is considered a model of authority or excellence. It is a measurement of value. To become all we are capable of becoming, we must begin thinking differently.

*EXPECT THE BEST. Whether it’s a challenging project at work or a new personal relationship, “expect the best”. Far too many of us reflect back on a past loss or disappointment and carry this baggage into a our present reality. Today is a brand new day, expect to succeed! Affirm that this will be the best relationship you have ever had or that you will CRUSH your project at work and then fully commit to the success process.

*CAREFULLY CHOOSE YOUR CIRCLE OF INFLUENCE. The 5-7 people we CHOOSE to spend the most time with have the biggest influence on how we think and behave. CHOOSE wisely! I am highlighting the word CHOOSE because it is totally up to us to decide how we spend our time and who we spend it with.

*DON’T SETTLE. Why settle for scraps when you can enjoy the banquet! Many of us hold a misguided belief that we are only “allowed” to rise as high as our parents.  For example,”we have always been a middle class family, that’s just who we are”. When we put our dreams and aspirations on hold rather than make someone else feel uncomfortable, we usually end up frustrated and angry. PLAY BIG….it’s your life!

*DON’T MAJOR IN MINOR THINGS. When we have clarity of purpose, extreme focus and the help of a coach or mentor we tend to stay in a results oriented mindset. If we find ourselves getting caught up in “water cooler gossip” it’s time for a check up from the neck up.

*DON’T PERSONALIZE FAILURE. All of us experience set backs and failure, it’s part of life.  As I shared in my book, Wisdom Through Failure, it is through failure that most of us attain true wisdom. Sometimes we win, sometimes we lose. The key is that we are in the game. “Life sucks” is not the answer to failure, gathering the lessons from the experience and getting right back in the game is the answer!

Life is a gift…OPEN IT!!!
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SHIFT Happens! Change Is A CHOICE…John Page Burton

“We problem solve from the past, we create in the present”. I tend to feel guilty, frustrated and angry when I choose to visit the past. I feel happy, fulfilled, energized and inspired when I choose to reside in the present. All of us drag around baggage from the past, some of us require two bellhops! Freedom comes when we take ownership of anything we regret or feel badly about, acknowledge that we did the best we could with what insight we had at the time and we move on. MENTAL SHIFT=FREEDOM. “When we change the way we look at things, the things we look at change”. Over the years, I have coached hundreds of clients who formed their identity around an event(s) that happened somewhere in their past. “I’m an incest survivor”, “I’m the child of an alcoholic parent” or “I had to fight for everything I ever got” are some of the more common ways many of us choose to stay connected to our past. The key word is CHOOSE. I know that for years I chose to identify with my past, which contributed to a great deal of discomfort and what I refer to as my “lost years”.  Once I consciously made the decision to “stop identifying with my past” my life began to take on a much deeper meaning.

SHIFT Happens…

Self Awareness. We begin to fully embrace who we are TODAY the moment we make the conscious choice to stop identifying with the negative messages/labels our parents, teachers, siblings or friends unconsciously bestowed on us. When we come to realize the identity of “our youth” doesn’t serve us as adults we have taken the first action step toward creating a permanent SHIFT. With self awareness comes a profound sense of personal responsibility. We can relish our NEW role as the chief architect of our life.

Habits. We can now begin creating new habits that will support our SHIFT. The most important one is our habit of “self talk”.  Do we speak in past or present tense? Is our “self talk” uplifting or self deprecating?  This single distinction/habit is a game changer in the world of SHIFT. Our growing self awareness encourages us to pay closer attention to our “self talk”. We understand and embrace the philosophy of “garbage in, garbage out”.

Independence. Freed from our past programming, we are now solely responsible for creating and designing our NEW life plan. In other words, we have given ourselves permission to paint our own, unique mosaic. At first, this can be daunting because we have always relied on the opinions and direction of others.  The key is to jump in and start applying the first brush strokes on our new canvas. As they say “try it, you’ll like it”.

Faith.  As we begin experiencing results from our new SHIFT, we are establishing a core FAITH in our ability to create the results we desire. Over time, our “muscles of faith” will grow stronger and stronger until they become our new foundation. The most effective way to build muscles of faith is through a willingness to take risks. The bigger the risk the greater our faith must be and this is how permanent SHIFT HAPPENS.

Tenacity. Each time we experience a breakthrough in our personal or professional lives we have effectively established a new point A. We have created a positive reference point that we can reflect back on, one that gives us the courage to move toward our next challenge. Every significant breakthrough in life began with a decision to make a SHIFT.  A SHIFT is the result of our tenacious desire to do and be more.

Until next time….Here’s to SHIFT!

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The Benefit of Checking Into REHAB…John Page Burton

If you’re the type of person who sets big goals and desires to play an above average game of life you’re more than likely aware of the benefits gained from a trip to rehab. I recommend checking in quarterly. I like to refer to rehab as my “check up from the neck up”. Similar to residential real estate, my rehab process reflects a period of restoration. I keep what is working and remove or modify what is not. My trip to rehab is designed to move me closer to my stated objectives both personally and professionally. Let’s check into rehab…

REHAB…What really happens behind closed doors?

Review. Our first step is to take an in depth look at what has and hasn’t worked during the previous quarter. Did we reach the goals we set? If not, why? In order to reach our objectives we must have a strategic plan in place along with a reliable system to measure our progress. We must be willing to make course corrections when necessary. Conducting a comprehensive review enables us to analyze our past performance and then chart a new course for the upcoming quarter, a course that is based heavily on our past success. Heed the adage…”if it ain’t broken, don’t try and fix it”.

Edit. What needs to be changed, modified or re-designed? If something isn’t working it’s often time to make a directional shift. Having edited the previous quarter we can now establish new objectives and create a detailed strategy for accomplishing our goals.

Habits. What habits are keeping us from reaching our stated objectives?. What new habits can we establish that will support our vision? For example, we may find that we have created the habit of avoidance in a specific area of our business. This habit may be what is keeping us from reaching our full potential. Armed with this awareness we can begin establishing new habits, habits that will move us closer to our stated objective and away from our avoidance strategies.

Action. What actions do we need to take in order to meet our objectives? Action leads to results. Massive action leads to massive results. I refer to this as the law of action. When we hit the proverbial wall or find ourselves experiencing doubt or fear the ONLY way we will experience a BREAKTHROUGH is by engaging in massive action. Action is the great equalizer.

Brainstorm. What new, innovative ideas will we incorporate into our next 90 day burst of focused activity? What resources (material and human) can we enroll into our action plan? Who can we add to our mastermind group that will bring additional insight to our mission? (If you don’t have a mastermind group it is a good idea to start one) Brainstorming is inspiring and can be extremely beneficial as we grow our business. Remember, the quality of our life experience is a direct reflection of the questions we ask.

I gain tremendous value from my trips to rehab and my hope is that you will find your experience fruitful as well.
As always, I look forward to your thoughts and feedback.

Stop The Universe, I Want To Hop Off! John Page Burton

Recently, during a conversation centered around life choices and outcomes, my friend Resa shared a very profound truth…”you can’t stop the universe”. In essence she was saying that when we send our thought energy out into the universe a process begins whereby the right people, circumstances, opportunities and challenges line up to compliment our request. This process is often referred to as manifestation. “Stop the universe, I want to hop off” has been my “plea” on the occasions in my life when things seemed to be spinning out of control. In reality we cant “stop the universe”, it is indifferent. The universe simply does it’s best to respond to our “commands” and has no emotional attachment to the outcome. Our challenge is to become more mindful of the words, thoughts, intentions and commands we communicate and use this knowledge to create the life we truly desire.

Below are 4 considerations for communicating with the universe. It is important to remember that we WILL NOT always get what we desire because GOD may have a bigger, more important plan for our lives.

*BE CLEAR. First, we must know what it is we desire. When we are vague or speak in broad generalities we are sending the universe a message that we really have no clue what we want. The universe has no other option than to deliver accordingly. Clarity of desire or purpose is the cornerstone of the manifestation process. Get clear, BE SPECIFIC!

*BE CONSISTENT. Once we have determined what it is we desire, we must be consistent and deliberate in communicating our intentions. Consistent affirmations followed by consistent ACTION reiterates to the universe that we are serious about attaining what we desire.

*BE CONGRUENT. Our ACTIONS must be congruent with our words. Many of us say one thing but our actions reflect an entirely different message. For example, I may say that I desire to attract a spiritually grounded life partner yet I spend the majority of my non working hours at the local sports bar. There is a significant chasm between what I say I desire and the actions I am taking to attract it. We must be mindful of any mixed messages we are sending.

*BE CAREFUL. Once we declare our intentions, the EGO will begin doing everything it can to distract us. The chatter will begin… “Eating less calories is hard, running isn’t good for my shins, being too skinny isn’t healthy”, blah, blah, blah. If we want to receive what we desire we must recognize when the Ego is trying to derail us. I have found that when I desire something badly enough and commit to taking massive action the universe eventually delivers it, albeit not always in the manner I envisioned. Through a great deal of trial and error I have learned to be careful and practice patience.

I would love to hear your stories of manifestation! Until next time, be great!

Releasing Our Control, One Surrender At A Time…John Page Burton

Human beings have an insatiable need for control. Many of us have paid and will continue to pay a steep emotional price because of our control dramas. We find ourselves angry, frustrated, resentful or even vindictive when things don’t go the way we “expected them to”. Trying to control every aspect of our environment is akin to trying to fit a square peg in a round hole…it doesn’t work!  One of the main problems with control is that the more we attempt to control situations, events and people the more out of control we usually end up feeling. Most of us are resistant to being controlled and will fight hard to keep it from happening. Ironically, those who try and control every aspect of their existence do so because they are frightened by the feeling of being out of control. There are a myriad of reasons for a fear of not being in control, including but not limited to childhood trauma. People who have an unhealthy need for control generally drift back and forth between emotions. When things are seemingly in their control they are on top of the world and when things are seemingly out of their control they feel angst and frustration. The only way we can possibly break this cycle and find inner peace is through the process of SURRENDER.

Time To Hoist The White Flag…

Relationships. We must STOP trying to “fix” the people in our lives that we have deemed “broken”. This is an avoidance tactic artfully designed to keep us from addressing our own issues. Most of us don’t see ourselves as broken and we resent the notion that someone else thinks they need to fix us!. We must release our expectation that others need to behave in a certain way. People behave at the intellectual and emotional level that serves their current belief system. Imposing our will on others does not foster goodwill nor does it cause them to change. Surrender means that we have adopted a live and let live mindset, the cornerstone of which is acceptance.

Addictions. Food, sex, drugs, alcohol and work are some of societies most popular addictions. Most addictions start out innocently enough but quickly become a problem. When we feel that we are losing control of a person or situation many of us resort to addictive behaviors. When I was younger, my need for control due to my fear of being out of control contributed to the creation of a significant drug and alcohol problem. Under the influence I felt in control, although in reality my life was a series of control dramas that ultimately resulted in an arrest for DUI at the age of thirty. Twenty two years later, I can attribute my amazing life to the decision I made to “hoist my white flag” and surrender. Addictions effect everyone around us and WE owe it to ourselves and those we love to “hoist our white flag” and seek a breakthrough to a healthier way of being.

Clutter. When most of us hear the word “clutter” we visualize an overflowing closet, a garage that has not hosted a vehicle in several years or a pile of unsightly junk lurking in the corner of our back yard. Many of us carry around an equally disturbing amount of mental clutter. We relive our past hurts, failures, ill advised choices, relationships and a host of other “clutter” that the Ego uses to remind us that we are “less than, hopeless losers”. Surrender means that we have made a conscious choice to release the material and emotional clutter that is holding us hostage. We recognize that it no longer serves us in any way, shape or form.

It is through surrender that we find peace. When we let go of our need to always be in control we tend to find that the world is running just fine and that we have actually created quite a bit of additional time and space to enjoy it!  As always, I look forward to your thoughts and feedback.