I was born the youngest of four children in my family. Some say that I must have been spoiled for having been the “baby” of the family, but that was not my experience.

My sister was the oldest and only girl. Being the only girl, she had a special bond with my mother. My mother gave her special attention, talked with her at bedtime, and gave her the master bedroom wherever we lived (she shared the master bathroom with my parents).

Being the youngest, I got the used items of my older siblings (i.e., “hand-me-downs”). By the time I got the teddy bear, it didn’t have any eyes; I had to draw my own. And of course I received the used clothes of my brothers.

I also remember receiving my sister’s underwear. Back when I was growing up in the 1960s, a kid being caught in his underwear was traumatic fear. Today, of course, it is nothing to see a kid with low-hanging pants that show off his underwear; even heroes like Michael Jordon parade in their underwear on TV.

But in my day no kid wanted to be seen in his underwear. Imagine my dread of being discovered in girl’s underwear!

Childhood was hard on me as I suspect it was hard on many of you. Beside parents who lacked understanding, care, or sympathy, there were the trials of school and of other children.

School in my day, and to a large extent today, did not teach the life skills necessary for adulthood. Schools focused on the three “Rs” of reading, writing, and arithmetic. I did not learn the social skills of how to make friends or be part of a group. I did not learn life skills such as setting goals or self-motivation.

Children by nature have a mean streak and can be cruel. We are born with the innate animal instinct to be top dog; there is a pecking order. As such, kids will pick on the weaker; calling them names, bullying them, or beating them up. As a kid I was on both ends of this—I was picked on and I picked on other kids.

Having been a teacher I have seen this often. Kids will withhold their friendship if they don’t get their way (“I’m not going to be your friend”). They will laugh at another’s mistakes. They will call each other cruel names.

When I finished high school I was a mess. I didn’t have any goals, I was depressed, and I was lonely. But a book about overcoming shyness, given to me as a Christmas present, started me on my path of self-help, of overcoming the traumas of childhood and learning the necessary skills for a successful life.

No matter what your childhood was like, all of us can benefit from improving ourselves. We can always be better, there is always room to grow. Life is a journey where we are constantly presented with life lessons. Take those opportunities to become the best you that you can be.
 
 
When I was a little kid about five years old, I remember going to church for Catholic mass. Above the altar were the words, “God is Love.” Back in those days the mass was said in Latin, so I was very bored (not that I would have been less bored if the mass was in English).

In my boredom I recited those three words in my head in every conceivable order: God is love, Is love God?, Love God is, Love is God, Is God love?, God love is. No matter what the order, the word “love” stood out most for me. God was a surreal concept to my young mind, but I knew love well having received it from my parents, family, and friends.

A couple years later in religion class I learned Jesus’ concept of loving your neighbor. That had a profound effect on me and later that day I told my friend how we needed to love the neighborhood bully even though we didn’t like him.

That is the true nature of love—it is unconditional. Love is meant to be given without regard of what we might receive in return. Love is not about making deals, “If I give you this much love I want the equal amount in return,” or “If you love me first then I will love you.”

Don’t expect anything in return for the love that you give. But by giving the energy of love, you will attract love into your life. You can also attract love by looking at your ball of energy for love and feeling love inside you (true, conditional love).

But conditional love doesn’t mean that you are in a relationship where you do everything for the other person, but he or she does nothing—that is not love, that is slavery. A good relationship is where each person gives their all. Sometimes the best way to love a person is to leave them; give them the life lesson that teaches them that they can’t get something for nothing; that they have to give in order to receive.

In Buddhism it is believed that everyone is capable of becoming a Buddha, that everyone has the Buddha nature inside. A Buddha is someone who has reached the highest condition of life, enlightenment. Having reached such a level, a Buddha deserves respect.

As everyone has the Buddha nature within and is at the least a latent Buddha. As such, everyone deserves respect and love.

Love is generated from within you. For you to generate this love you must first feel it. Maybe you have never felt this love because no one has ever given it to you. But you can feel this love if you love yourself.

Loving yourself entails the Emotional Intelligence skill of Self-Regard. Self-Regard is accepting yourself for who you are, respecting yourself, and being confident in who you are. We are often hardest on ourselves. We call ourselves names that would never dare call anyone else. We admonish ourselves for mistakes that we would forgive others for having made.

You need to be you own best friend, your cheerleader, and your biggest fan. Find that love inside yourself. See the ball of energy in the palm of your hand while feeling true, unconditional love inside yourself. Practice this and then that energy will attract love into your life.
 
 
Peace, Love, and Happiness sound like some kind of hippy values, and I did develop these values in the hippy/”freak” days of my youth. But they are also made up important Emotional Intelligence skills that are necessary to achieve success.

In previous blogs I wrote about the Emotional Intelligence skills that compose Peace and Love. Happiness, all by itself, is an Emotional Intelligence skill as defined by Dr. Reuven Bar-On. Happiness is the ability to find contentment in your life, enjoy yourself and others, and to have fun.

By valuing Happiness, we are able to change our emotional mood. We let go of unnecessary thoughts and we’re able to enjoy the present moment. When we’re happy we are at ease, relaxed, and able to have fun.

Happiness is much different than pleasure. Happiness is long-lasting while pleasure is short-lived. Happiness is generated from within you; pleasure comes from the outside. With pleasure you are never really content, it’s like a drug where you’re always looking for the next fix. Happiness by its very definition is contentment.

The Emotional Intelligence skills of Self-Regard and Self-Actualization are important complementary skills to Happiness. Self-Regard is accepting yourself for who you are, respecting yourself, and being confident in who you are. You are not egotistic, but confident and comfortable being yourself.

Self-Actualization means that you are doing what you want to do. It may not be you idea situation, but you have accepted it as necessary for the time being. Ideally you want to be doing what you really want to do, what you’re passionate about. You want to follow your bliss. But we can’t always have our way; in the meantime we are at a peace with our current situation and our current efforts.

Interpersonal Relationships is another corresponding Emotional Intelligence skill. As humans we are social animals. People who are surrounded by friends and family are the happiness and live the longest.

It can be hard to achieve and maintain happiness in our present world. There are lots of problems in the world such as wars, hunger, poverty, and climate change. Even if we forget about the larger world, we have to deal with negative, rude, and insensitive people in our daily lives. It’s hard to pick yourself up when others are tearing you down. My wife uses the analogy of crabs in a bucket; when one tries to climb out of the bucket, the others will pull it down.

The Emotional Intelligence skill of Optimism gives us the hope that things will get better. If we can’t see good in our current situations, we can have faith that things will get better (don’t they always?). Forget the past and look towards your dreams.

Happiness takes work, as do all things that you value. Use the ball of energy technique to attract the energy of Happiness into your life: Imagine a ball of energy in the palm of your hand (my Happiness energy ball is colored orange). While looking at the ball of energy, feel the energy of Happiness inside yourself.

When I was about five years old, my grandmother came from Ohio to live with us in California for a while. The next time I saw my grandmother was several years later when I was a teenager. When she first saw me she said, “You used to be such a happy boy, what happened?” What happened was life (maybe teenage hormones also played a role). Life knocks us down and then kicks us when we are down. Life is hard.

But if we forgive and forget, we can find moments when we can find happiness within ourselves. There are many instances in our lives when there are no threats to our physical being or ego. In these times we can connect with the energy of Happiness. By continually connecting with this energy, it becomes easier to hook up with Happiness the next time. “Practice makes perfect!”
 
 
As a young man I pursued love passionately. I loved to fall in love; the rush of raw emotions and passion. Come to find out it that it wasn’t love after all, it was lust. Lust is short-lived and only satisfies the corporeal moment, not the soul.

Love, on the other hand, is long lasting, healing, and fulfilling. There are two types of love: Love of oneself and love of others.

Loving yourself doesn’t mean that you are egotistical, vain, or narcissistic. Love of the self is composed of two Emotional Intelligence skills: Self-Regard and Self-Actualization.

The skill of Self-Regard involves the ability to like yourself; you have to like yourself before you can love yourself. Everyone has unique abilities, personalities, and outlooks. You are your own unique “culture;” your own personal history has allowed you to develop your own distinctive lifestyle and approach to life. You celebrate your differences and uniqueness. You are confident in being the best you that you can be.

Loving yourself also includes the Emotional Intelligence skill of Self-Actualization. Being self-actualized means that you are living the life that you have decided to live. Self-Actualization is a process; you are striving towards your goals. You may not have the ideal job, relationships, or be living in your dream house, but you are doing the things that you have deemed necessary to achieve your goals.

Besides loving yourself, there is loving others. I’m not talking about romantic love which studies have found to be short-lived (it lasts only two to three years). Loving others is the unselfish act of genuine caring for other people.

Loving others involves three Emotional Intelligence skills: Interpersonal Relationships, Empathy, and Social Responsibility.

Interpersonal Relationships is the ability to initiate, nurture, and maintain relationships. A relationship is a two-way street of give and take. You are able to give kindness and affection to others, and receive these gifts from others. In a relationship, whether it be friend or lover, you are able to share intimacy; you share your thoughts and emotions.

Another important skill needed to love others is Empathy, the ability to see things from another’s point of view. Empathy involves the capability of reading and recognizing someone’s emotions and being able to relate to those emotions. It’s different from sympathy, which is having the same emotions as another. For example, your friend is going through a tough break-up from someone they love; your friend is heartbroken and crying. Being sympathetic means that you are experiencing the same emotional pain as your friend; you have joined your friend in becoming an emotional wreck. Being empathetic means that you understand your friend’s pain, but you are in an emotionally stable state where you are better able to help your friend.

The Emotional Intelligence skill of Social Responsibility is another way that we show love towards others. Being socially responsible means that you are an active and constructive participant in the world around you. You are working towards the good of all, not just yourself.

Overall, love to me means not only living the “Golden Rule” of treating others the way you want to be treated, but also going a step further and doing something extra or special for another. I try to do this every day in little ways such as holding the door open for someone, saying “please” and “thank you,” smiling at someone, etc., etc.

Love takes energy and effort. You attract love in your life by giving it away first. Another way to attract love in your life is by imagining a ball of energy in the palm of your hand (my ball of energy for love is yellow in color). Associate this ball of energy with the feeling of love (true love as discussed above). What does it feel like to have love in your life? Feeling that energy will attract the energy of love into your life.
 
 
When I talk about my value of “Peace,” I’m talking about peace of mind. Peace is a state where our minds are at ease, quiet, and free of worry. In this state we are at peace with ourselves and others.  It is a quiet bliss that is stress-free and relaxing.

Having peace of mind means that you are living in the minute. You’re not dwelling on what happened in the past or worrying about what’s going to happen in the future. You are living right now, right where you are. Ninety-nine percent of the time there is no immediate life-threatening event happening in your life so you can take a few seconds to find that peace.

Several years ago when I first started practicing living in the moment, I did it for about 17 seconds at a time. I don’t know how or why I decided to try for that amount of time; somehow it just seemed right. Now I don’t do it for any specific length, but I try to do it often.

What I do is concentrate on what was happening around me: My walls are off-white, the curtains are blowing, I hear a truck drive by. I focus my attention on my surroundings and the seconds I count off in my head. If a thought of the past or future enters my head, I simple shift my focus back to my environment and the counting.

It’s a form of meditation. As a young man I studied Transcendental Meditation (TM). TM consists of sitting in a quiet place and mentally repeating a mantra. The mantra is a meaningless word like “om” or “ah-ing;” it’s just a device that you can focus your mind on. Living in the moment is the same; you can concentrate on a mantra, counting, or just the sights and sounds around you for a brief moment.

Another way I attract Peace into my life is by focus on an imaginary ball of energy in the palm of my hand. It’s like a mini-sun that I am completely in control of.  I can control its shape,  size, and movement. I picture my Peace ball as being green in color. Sometimes I imagine a peaceful place in nature inside my green ball of energy.

As I focus on this ball of energy I feel the peace inside me. I feel the emotion of Peace. If you can’t put your mind in a meditative state like above, try imagining the feeling the emotion as if you possessed it. Imagine that you are a meditative, peaceful person. What does that feel like? Focusing on the ball of energy and that emotion attracts Peace into your life.

Peace is not just some hippy, New Age, or occult notion. Peace of mind is a composite of Emotional Intelligence skills that are necessary for a successful life. It is a scientific fact that successful people are able to achieve Peace in their lives.

Peace is made up of these Emotional Intelligence skills: Self-Regard, Self-Actualization, Optimism, Emotional Self-Awareness, Flexibility, and Stress Tolerance.

Self-Regard is accepting yourself for who you are, respecting yourself, and being confident in who you are. You are not egotistic, but confident and comfortable being yourself.

Self-Actualization means that you are doing what you want to do. It may not be you idea situation, but you have accepted it as necessary for the time being. Ideally you want to be doing what you really want to do, what you’re passionate about. You want to follow your bliss. But we can’t always have our way; in the meantime we are at a peace with our current situation and our current efforts.

Another Emotional Intelligence skill that composes Peace is Optimism. Optimism is synonymous with “faith” or “hope.” You have the expectation that the future will be better. You know that it will be better. You believe that things will be better.

Optimists are able to see the brighter side of life. Studies have found that Optimists and Pessimists have the same number of negative thoughts during the day. The difference is that Optimists are able to stop the negative thoughts from spreading and replace them with positive thoughts. It takes some creativity to come up with positive thoughts in the midst of an onslaught of negative ones. Be aware of your thoughts, catch yourself when you’re having negative thoughts, stop the negative thoughts and find positive things to think about.

Emotional Self Awareness is yet another Emotional Intelligence skill necessary to achieve Peace. Emotional Self-Awareness is the ability to recognize and distinguish between your emotions. Knowing your emotions is necessary to controlling your emotions. For peace of mind you need to keep your emotions in check; you need to be an emotionally detached observer; you have to be emotionally neutral.

The Emotional Intelligence skill of Flexibility is also needed. If we are flexible we can go with the flow of life. We adjust to the immediate situation of our lives. If we are rigid in our lives and beliefs, we drown in a quagmire of “shoulds,” “have tos,” and “ought tos.”  We “should” worry about the future. We “have to” stick to the plan. We “ought to” follow the rules. To live in the peace we have to let go of these things, if only for the moment.

Lastly, we need the Emotional Intelligence skill of Stress Tolerance to achieve Peace in our lives. Stress Tolerance is the ability to deal with the pressures of daily life. Preventive measures like exercise and eating healthy help us to deal with stress. Techniques like living in the moment, meditation, and focusing on a ball of energy help us to deal with stress so that we can find Peace.

So as you can see, Peace is a big component of our Emotional Intelligence. We attract this value into our lives by living in the moment or by focusing on the emotional energy of Peace. With Peace in our lives we are actively achieving success in our lives. 

 
 
Peace, Love, and Happiness sound like hippy, New Age, or nebulous values. But in fact they have been found to be important life skills necessary for successful living.  People who possess these values to a high degree lead healthier, more productive, and more successful lives.

These values are skills that make up our Emotional Intelligence.  Emotional Intelligence has been described in many different ways: Street smarts, common sense, life skills, etc. Every theorist has a unique and particular vision of the skills that constitute Emotional Intelligence.

I base my work on eminent clinical psychologist Dr. Reuven Bar-On who defined fifteen Emotional Intelligence skills: Emotional Self-Awareness, Self-Regard, Self-Actualization, Impulse Control, Independence, Assertiveness, Optimism, Happiness, Interpersonal Relationships, Empathy, Social responsibility, Stress Tolerance, Flexibility, Problem Solving, and Reality Testing.

As you can see, Happiness is one of Dr. Bar-On’s Emotional Intelligence skills. The value I call Peace is composed of the Emotional Intelligence skills of Self-Regard, Self-Actualization, Optimism, Emotional Self-Awareness, and Flexibility.

The value of Love is composed of the Emotional Intelligence skills of Self-Regard, Self-Actualization, Interpersonal Relationships, Empathy, and Social Responsibility.

I based my work on Dr. Bar-On’s because the validity and reliability of his scientific study. Dr. Bar-On created a self-assessment to measure one’s Emotional Intelligence Quotient (EQ). Just like an intelligence test measures one’s IQ, Bar-On’s Emotional Quotient Inventory (EQ-i) measures to what degree a person possesses each one of the fifteen skills.

Furthermore, Dr. Bar-On’s work has found that people who are successful in a particular profession share the same Emotional Intelligence skills. For example, successful managers are high in Independence, Flexibility, and Problem-Solving; successful salespeople are high in Self-Regard, Interpersonal Relationships, and Optimism.

Whereas our intelligence is pretty much fixed, our Emotional Intelligence can be increased through training. The purpose of my blog is share the experiences and exercises that helped me increase my Emotional Intelligence.

In future blogs I will be breaking down my “hippy” values of Peace, Love, and Happiness and explain each in more detail. I will also be giving you ways that you can increase you competence in each one of the Emotional Intelligence skills that make up these values.
 
 
This blog is about my six core values that guide my life: Peace, Love, Happiness, Confidence, Life, and Prosperity. I’ll be explaining each of these values in time.  For the moment think of these values as I do: As energy.

Everything and everyone contains energy. Even inanimate objects like a table, chair, or lamp. On the atomic level all things vibrate with energy. Scientifically there are seven types of energy: heat (thermal), light (radiant), motion (kinetic), electrical, chemical, nuclear, and gravitational.  To these we can add two esoteric (meaning they are mysterious and not widely accepted by scientists) energies: Psychic and emotional.

In this case we are talking about emotional energy. Our values are things we have strong emotional ties to; we have strong feelings about what we value. We hold our values in high regard and will fight to protect them.

In my effort to live and emulate my values, I think of them as balls of energy.  I think of them as little suns of different colors. I visualize each core value as a colored sun in the palm of my hand. I am in control of these balls of energy; able to change their size and shape.

While visualizing these balls of energy, I feel the emotion that would exist by living these values. For example, I see my core value of Peace as a green ball of energy but I also feel that peacefulness within me. What does it feel like to be at peace? I act as if I am at peace and I focus on that emotion.

I do this daily for each one of my core values. I look at the colored ball of energy in the palm of my hand. I play with it, making it bigger and smaller, elongated and square.  All the while I feel the emotion of that value.  This emotional energy is what makes that value real.

Some of you may have heard of “The Secret,” a video then book about the Law of Attraction. The Law of Attraction states that energy is attracted to energy of the same type (like energy attracts). So if we have the energy of Prosperity, then prosperity will be attracted to us. But it’s not enough to just think about prosperity, you have to feel it. You have to have the strong emotional tie to the value for that value to become real.

You are a virtual power plant full of energy. Don’t look outside yourself for that energy, that power. Focus your attention on the energies that you want to attract to yourself. Adding emotion to that energy makes it even stronger and more potent.

Each day focus on the values you want manifested in your life. See these values as colored balls of energy that you control. Feel the emotion as if you possess that value and before long that value will be a reality in your life.

(Click here for a slide show of the colored balls.)

 

Freak

10/13/2012

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Growing up I was a social nerd: Shy, I lacked social skills, and I had zero goals. I was the kid who was picked last (if at all) when it came to picking teams. I didn't get invited to parties. In high school at lunch I hung out in the back with other nerds and misfits: The deaf kid, the nose picker, and the AV kids. I wasn't cool. 

But my life changed when I left my parents home and ventured into the wide world. I was forced to develop social skills just to survive. I began a life-long journey of self-improvement.

I was a hippy with long hair and a beard. But my generation of the late 1970s came a generation after the true hippies of the 60s. We called ourselves "Freaks." I went to nude beaches, hitchhiked, and even went to a hippy festival.

Hitchhiking was a very good experience as it forced me into an interpersonal relationship; I could be in a car with a person or persons for hours. I was forced to interact, to overcome my shyness. The experience taught me one of the most important social skills: Listening.

Most people picked me up because they wanted someone to talk to. I heard stories of tragedy (a father who had lost his son) and of triumph (a woman who left her abusive husband and became a truck driver). 

I still have the hippy values of Peace, Love, and Happiness. Through my life journey I have added other values: Confidence, Life, and Prosperity. When I say "Life" I mean passion for life ("Life, give me more!").

This blog will be an exploration of those six core values: Peace, Love, Happiness, Confidence, Life, and Prosperity.