The Question IS The Answer

Will this article make you smarter?

Questions. Questions. Questions.

Everyone is looking for answers. No one is looking for questions.

But the answer is within the question.

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Research has been done by scientists on the power questions have on human brains.

Questions trigger a reflex in humans know as “instinctive elaboration,” which means when someone asks you a question, the question takes over the brain’s thought process. 

Behavioral scientists Morwitz, Johnson, and Schmittlein did a study on this topic and found that asking people questions about their futures significantly influenced their decisions. This is known as the “mere measurement effect.” The study was done in 1993 with over 40,000 participants by asking them if they were going to purchase a new car within six months. This question increased their purchase rates by 35%.

Similar surveys have been done on the topics of voting, donating blood, exercise frequency, and more. 

Each survey found that all these behaviors can be increased by asking about them!

Your mind is powerful!

Research has found that the more the brain thinks about a certain behavior, the more likely it is that you will do it.

Thinking about something can change your behavior and sensations.

Imagine sipping some warm hot chocolate. 

Can you taste it? 

Can you notice your mind shifted its focus from where it was to the hot chocolate?

Your mind is powerful…

 

So if you never ask a question, you will never get an answer.

If you ask a negative question like, “why do bad things always happen to me?” You will get an answer, and it will reinforce bad things happening to you.

If you ask a positive question like, “how can I live my best life?” You will get an answer and it will reinforce ideas of how you can live your best life.

Questions are powerful tools you can use to live more of the life you want to live.

coacht.blog Tim Ferriss Quote Questions

 

Here are some others who strongly agree:

“Problems that remain persistently insoluble should always be suspected as questions asked in the wrong way.”
Alan Watts

“Quality questions create a quality life. Successful people ask better questions, and as a result, they get better answers.”
Tony Robbins

“Judge a man by his questions rather than by his answers.”
Voltaire

“It is not the answer that enlightens, but the question.”
Eugene Ionesco

“Don’t search for the answers, which could not be given to you now, because you would not be able to live them. And the point is to live everything. Live the questions now. Perhaps then, someday far in the future, you will gradually, without even noticing it, live your way into the answer.”
Rainer Maria Rilke

“One of the many qualities that separate self-made billionaires from the rest of us is their ability to ask the right questions.”
Justine Musk

“Always the beautiful answer who asks a more beautiful question.”
E. E. Cummings

“If you do not know how to ask the right question, you discover nothing.”
W. Edwards Deming

“Life is an unanswered question, but let’s still believe in the dignity and importance of the question.”
Tennessee Williams

“I think that probably the most important thing about our education was that it taught us to question even those things we thought we knew.”
Thabo Mbeki

He must be very ignorant for he answers every question he is asked.”
Voltaire

“A wise man’s question contains half the answer.”
Solomon Ibn Gabirol

A prudent question is one-half of wisdom.”
Francis Bacon

 

7 powerful questions Tony Robbins asks to spark positive emotions are:

—What am I happy about in my life now?

—What am I excited about in my life now?

—What am I proud about in my life now?

—What am I grateful about in my life now?

—What am I enjoying in life right now?

—What am I committed to in my life right now?

—Who do I love? Who loves me?

 

What are 3 other questions you can think of that by asking yourself them will help you achieve a goal?

 

 

 

The Myth of Perfection

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As I was reading a book an acquaintance sent me, Clear Quiet Mind, I came across a section in the book from Chapter 7, The Myth of Perfection, that I believe is very helpful for accepting our imperfections and living with peace of mind in a World that is constantly telling us to be “perfect.”

After reading this chapter on the myth of perfection I googled “myth of perfection” and found that many people have written on this subject: The Huffington post, Professors, TEDTalks, etc. It is a popular subject, so it must be important to discuss. 

Here I break down what I find from these multiple sources with practical ways of accepting our imperfections from Clear Quiet Mind, which can help you get past your myth of perfection to living a life with more peace of mind. Enjoy.

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Dictionary definitions of perfect include: “Having all the required or desirable elements, qualities, or characteristics; as good as it is possible to be.”

“Completely free from faults or defects, or as close to such a condition as possible.”

Why do so many of us strive for an impossible feat which only leads us to disappointment? Why do we judge others when they make a mistake, but are forgiving for our own faults?

Are your role models perfect? Who are your role models? If they are a superhero from a movie or book, then that’s just not realistic.

A TED Talks speaker, Jim Hill, speaks of his former unrealistic expectations of himself and of others here.

He says, “Ive been wrong about role models all along. They don’t have to be perfect. How could they be perfect? They’re people.”

He goes on to speak about how no one is “perfect” all the time. We’re people. We’re flawed, and that is okay. After someone told him he was a good role model, he thought of all the reasons why he was not a good role model, but he says, “But if I could be a good role model for this slice of time, well then maybe all my role models could be perfect in slices of time.” 

Instead of judging a person off of one bad thing they did, or maybe something they didn’t do, we can look at the slices of their lives that are inspiring to us: A characteristic of theirs, an achievement, an attitude, etc. When we chase perfection in ourselves and in others we only end up beating ourselves up, or others up (verbally usually), because we all fall short.

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I want to be perfect just like you do, so how can we accept this inevitable fact of being imperfect?

Practical techniques from Clear Quiet Mind are next, but one way the speaker Jim helped himself was by practicing recognizing that his friends aren’t perfect, but they are pretty awesome at times, so he looked at the positive traits in them instead of focusing on any negative. He now tries to look at everyday people as role models, none of them are perfect, but they have slices of perfection woven into them. He says that doing this has let him off the hook of perfection.

An incredibly helpful way to release the myth of perfection is to understand that no one is perfect or ever will be, but we can look at the good qualities in others life and look up to those qualities.

Author Kevin Schoeninger also has great ideas and ways on how to handle this myth of perfection. He goes a little deeper on this subject by diving into ways to recognize when we are viewing things from a myth of perfection and then ways to release the myth of perfection.

Remember, we all struggle at times with this myth of perfection. Don’t beat yourself up for not being perfect.

Kevin says things like:

“Do you avoid taking risks in business because you think you might fail?”

“The Myth of Perfection is an invisible line that is impossible to measure up to.”

“When have you done enough? “By what standards can these be judged—and, who says so?”

“Is it really important for you and/or your kids or be busy, productive, and perfect all the time? Does that make for a happy and healthy life?”

“What if these standards of perfectionism are arbitrary, illusory, and moving targets that keep you locked in the stress of never being good enough or worthy enough for what you really want?”

The bottom line is that ‘perfection’ is a myth. What you see when you step back and observe life more objectively is not perfection, but ‘diversity.’ Life is infinitely diverse. Diversity is a rule here on Earth. There are over seven billion different human bodies, sets of skills, habits, lifestyles, preferences, and personalities—and countless other lifeforms, each with their own unique characteristics.”

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3 ways to recognize The Myth of Perfection

(All quoted examples below are from Chapter 7 in Kevin’s Book, Clear Quiet Mind, pages 63-74)

“The myth of perfection needs to be made conscious before you can let it go and choose another outlook. Until you recognize it and can pause it as it arises, you’ll be a slave to its mythical power.”

The first way to let go of any limiting perspective is to recognize what you’re doing, Kevin says.

1) Black and White thinking

Example: “A person is a ‘good person’ or a ‘bad person.’”

“Actions are either ‘right’ or ‘wrong’”

“This just isn’t true. Every person is a diverse mix of different intentions, thoughts, feelings, and behaviors. There are no 100% good or bad people. No one is 100% percent anything.”

“Actions can only be judged in context-yes even the ‘bad ones,’ like stealing, lying, and taking a life(example just below). What if these actions were in the service of a greater good?” 

(Example)—“Would you lie to a Nazi about hiding a Jewish family in your attic? Would you steal their gun if they barged in and were trying to use it? Would you kill them to save innocent lives? Perhaps?”

*”Life presents itself in a rainbow of different colors and shades. Black and white thinking just doesn’t represent Reality. It’s important to view everything, every action, and everyone in their uniqueness within the complex contexts in which they appear.”

2) Always, Never, and Should

“This kind of thinking disregards the truth that all things in this physical world of time and space change and grow. Circumstances change and require different responses. We all change. Life is always changing. Life requires adaptation.”

…“Yet, we tend to label things as if they are unchanging. We say things like, ‘you always…’ and ‘I never…’ to judge others and justify ourselves.”

“‘Should’ is an equally fallible concept. We think that people should follow the rules, until they break them, create something new and amazing, and become famous for it. Then, in retrospect, they were courageous or creative geniuses.”

What if minorities and women never stood up for their rights and just followed the rules? There were laws that women couldn’t vote and that people could own slaves..How unbelievable is that? What good would happen if we didn’t break rules that are meant to be broken?

“We think that people should work until they are 65—yet, we admire those who can retire early. We think that we should long for retirement, yet those who stay engaged and active in purposeful work seem to have the most fulfilling, healthy, and happy lives.”

“Discernments about what is good, right, and valuable can only be made within the ever-changing contexts in which they occur. So, check yourself for the words always, never, and should. See if you can notice the arbitrary standards behind these statements. What if these are unnecessarily stressing you out or creating conflict?”

3) Comparison and Nitpicking

“We are brought up to compare—and this naturally leads to critical judgments if we or others don’t measure up.”

“A current example of this is the notion of ‘political correctness.’ This concept is one of the most arbitrary markers for what is good and bad. Political correctness clearly is about what is most important to the group with which you identify. It has no absolute value on its own.”

“In U.S. politics, as people congregate around ‘whatever Democrats do is bad’ or ‘whatever Republicans do it bad.’ This type of thinking leads to all sorts of contradictory and conflicting judgments…Life doesn’t offer absolute answers”

The bottom line is that people, things, and actions can only be discerned within the complex contexts in which they occur. Quick and easy, black and white judgments are inaccurate to how life actually presents itself. Life is infinitely diverse.

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4 powerful techniques on releasing The Myth of Perfection

1) Notice Exceptions and Alternatives

“Notice exceptions to the rule you’re applying.” Kevin’s idea is that we are around imperfect people all the time, friends, family, etc, but we still love them for who they are.

He says, “For example, do you think so and so is beautiful even though he or she is ‘overweight?’ Can you think of a time when a ‘good person’ had a ‘lapse in judgment?’ Can you remember a time when the point you are now disagreeing with was true?”

“Notice the variety of possible ways you can look at the same situation. By momentarily adopting different points of view, it helps release you from the stress and tyranny of any one perspective.”

“At a minimum, it can lead you to say, ‘Maybe there are a variety of ways of looking at this situation.”

2) Refute Irrational Ideas

Our ideas, our self-talk, whether rational or irrational will impact our emotions, and our emotions motivate our actions. Kevin discusses how the psychologist Albert Ellis wrote about this, identifying common irrational beliefs that “launch us into stressful feelings which result in poor coping behaviors.”

Some of these adapted irrational beliefs include: “I must have love and approval for me to feel good, I must be flawlessly competent, successful, and perfect to deserve good things, My happiness and suffering are entirely dependent upon external events, Anything unknown, uncertain, or potentially dangerous is scary, What happened in the past determines what will happen now.”

There may be truth in some of these ideas for you, but “it’s how you use these ideas against yourself that’s decisive,” Kevin says, “When you attach to them as strong beliefs, they limit how you view yourself and your possibilities.”

“Certainly, you don’t control everything that happens, but you can control how you interpret, relate to, and respond to what happens.

“Ellis discovered that, if you can refute your irrational ideas, you can interrupt the chain of reaction, and create a new outcome. If you reframe your thinking, you will feel and act differently. By doing this, you become stress-resistant and stress-resilient.”

Kevin discusses Ellis’s 5 Steps to Refute Irrational ideas which you can read more about here in Ellis’s ABC Model

3) Ask yourself, ‘Am I Coming from Love or Fear?’

“Anytime you’re feeling critical or judgmental toward yourself or others ask this question: Am I coming from love or fear?”

“The root of the myth of perfection is fear of vulnerability— that ‘I am vulnerable if I’m not perfect.’

“The cure for fear is first identifying your fear and acknowledging it, then deciding if it needs to be acted on or not. This helps respond appropriately to what is happening. Perhaps your fear is alerting you to something that needs to be done? If so, how can you address your fear by taking appropriate action? If not, can you let that fear go?”

Good questions to ask fear: ‘What am I afraid might happen? Is that likely or am I exaggerating that possibility? What actions do I really need to take? Is it possible that nothing needs to be done except letting go of fear and seeing things in a more realistic empowered way?’”

“Once you’ve identified necessary actions or decided that you may be exaggerating risk to protect feelings of vulnerability, you can move toward love.”

“On the love side, you can ask, ‘How can I be more loving and compassionate toward myself and others in this situation? What would ease fear? What would help things work out well for all concerned? How can I initiate or participate in this positive outcome?’”

“In moments of fear and vulnerability, what would someone who loves you unconditionally, exactly as you are, say to you or do? How can you apply this principle to how you relate to yourself and others?”

Love is a response that naturally arises when you see the real needs of yourself and others in any situation. Love desires the best for all concerned. Love is your natural response when you are free from fear. When you love, instead of criticizing and blaming, you can observe and discern what needs to be done.”

4) Observe and Accept What Is Actually Happening

“In moments of challenge, vulnerability, and fear, is it possible to set aside all mental chatter, all stories and judgments, and simply be an objective witness to what is happening? … It is possible with practice to do this, to free your mind.

“Remember your skills of mindfulness, acceptance, and detachment. Is it possible to mindfully observe what is happening, accept it as it is, and let go of judging people and events as good or bad? Is it possible to see others and situations innocently, as if for the first time, without prejudice? —To help do this you might use the First Seat of Consciousness(technique): — Observe the situation from a perspective above and behind your head. Imagine yourself sitting up there, looking down on yourself, others, and the situation as a whole.”

The technique above reminds me of the Stoic technique of “taking a view from above.

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You can imagine being in the sky, on a cloud, looking down at yourself and all of life, which can get you out of your own thoughts.

“I encourage you to try these techniques to release the myth of perfection in situations in which you are harshly judging yourself or others.”

Kevin’s book is very useful in helping people achieve an inner peace through practical techniques. I have underlined almost every single word throughout this book as I read it. As I read the book, part of me wanted the next page to not connect with me so I didn’t have to underline it, but it kept happening!

If you would like the full book you can buy it here from Amazon for $15

6 Insights from a Retired Life Coach

This is a guest post by Mershon Niesner, retired Certified Life Coach & Author of http://motherloss.blog

Mershon gives 6 insights into some of the most important aspects of life coaching and how you can use these tips to enhance your life:

Professional Coaching or Life Coaching does not replace therapy, or counseling or good common sense. However, coaching does help people get unstuck, move forward, solve their own problems and live a healthier, happier and more successful personal & professional life.

I started coaching in 1997 and was certified as a coach in 2000, long before most people had heard of coaching and certainly before coaches started writing guest columns in magazines and there were such things as blogs. Retired now, I’ve turned to writing a daily blog that includes coaching questions and I’m currently writing a book, When Lightning Strikes, to be published in 2019. Here are some things I learned during my coaching years:

1. People know the answers to their own important questions

Perhaps they don’t know how to access the answers, perhaps they don’t even know the important questions, but once they discover the question, chances are that somewhere deep inside, they have the answer. The coach’s job is to ask the questions that help people find their own powerful answers. When the answer comes from within, folks are motivated to act and results are infinitely more likely to happen. You know the feeling…when you’re told to do something you might drag your feet, but when you make the decision yourself to take meaningful action, you’re eager to try out your theory and experience the results. Coaches trust this process. They believe in their clients and create an atmosphere of trust, self-worth, and compassion.

2. Big changes sometimes start small

I had a client that was unmotivated, constantly tired, angry at herself for “not getting anything done.” When I had her do a life style assessment, I noticed she self reported that she didn’t make her bed. So, the first request I had for her was to make her bed for a week and report back. The next week she was surprised at her progress…no more naps, more energy, a greater sense of well-being and self-worth. She started her day with purpose by making her bed. She didn’t want to “mess it up” by taking a nap so she had better nighttime sleep and more energy. Did this solve all of her problems? Of course not, but it was a powerful start. Another client did an online class with me about having more fun. She realized that as a very busy corporate person she had zero fun in her life and did nothing for her own joy. Her assignment, “Buy yourself flowers once a week and put them on your desk to remind yourself that you count.” She did. She later quit her corporate job and became a coach. She was a client for several years. Little things can make a difference.

3. Most people thrive with accountability

Our profession is called coaching because in some ways, we show up like athletic coaches especially as it relates to accountability. For instance, if someone wanted to sell more widgets, I’d ask them, “How many sales calls will you make this week?” They know they are paying their coach good money to hold them accountable so that is part of the motivation. Another aspect is simply wanting to say, “Hey, Coach, I met my goal this week!” Some say, “I did such and such because I didn’t want to disappoint you.” Whatever the motivation, calls are made that would not have been made otherwise, sales increase, self-esteem rises and soon the coach is no longer needed.

4. Generally, people give themselves bigger and better challenges

As a coach or a parent or even a boss, it is tempting to “be in charge” and hand out the goals or punishment. It has been my experience as a coach and as a parent that generally well-meaning people will give themselves an even bigger challenge/punishment than you might give them. Have you ever asked your child what kind of punishment he or she deserves for a particular offense? Maybe you would take away their electronic device for a day. Depending on how bad they feel about their behavior, they will possibly say two. Remember the guy selling widgets? I might have asked him to make 10 sales calls but, likely, he will challenge himself to 15. If he says 5, I would ask him what it would take to double that and see what he says. It’s still his decision…that’s where the power lies.

5. It’s all about the listening

Few people have someone in their corner who truly listens to them. Not half listens, not listens while checking for messages, not listens while stirring the pot but listens with their whole mind and beyond…heart to heart listening. Most of my coaching was done over the telephone. I had clients all around the country and occasionally in exotic places like India. I always called them at the appointed time. Often I “had them at hello.” With just a word, I could tell much about their state of mind and would immediately ask, “what’s up?” surprising them with my “knowing.” When folks are really heard, they begin to shine as if they are on a stage with a spotlight. When they know they are valued and understood, trusted and cared about, listened to with the heart…their life begins to change. You don’t have to be a coach to really listen to the people in your life.

6. Coaching, like life in general, is messy

And finally, I used to tell my clients, “Sometimes you have to throw a lot of spaghetti against the wall and see what sticks.” Living life is a messy business. To have a successful, joy-filled life, you have to try new things, step out of your comfort zone, trust yourself and your instincts (which aren’t always 100 percent), and really live this messy life to the fullest. You have to get out of your own way, have compassion for yourself and others, tap into your faith, make mistakes in order to learn and allow others to do the same. Professional or business coaching may start out to be about marketing or business plans or climbing the ladder but it always evolves into life coaching. We are whole people, experiencing life through a wide lens, not a pin hole. What’s keeping you from being all you can be? What’s one action you will take today to move towards your Future Self?

Contact me if you would like to submit a guest post — kthompson7814@gmail.com

Think Less to Live More

How much time do you spend in your mind?

I have spent quite a bit of time in my mind, and have realized that I am more fully alive when I am NOT living in my mind.

It’s good to rationalize and make the best choices you can, but it’s even better when you can make those choices without thinking too much. This takes practice…

Would you like to live a more present life, being more in the moment & less in your thoughts?

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“The birth of the mind is the death of the senses,” says Dan Millman, but it is by living through our senses that make us feel most alive. This is why many people drink alcohol or do drugs; it is because they want to escape their thoughts & live more in the present moment. Well you can reach this state of mind without the use of drugs or alcohol.

So how can we get back to living through our senses in a healthy way? 

Through Mindfulness Meditation: Defined as “Paying attention in a particular way: on purpose, in the present moment, and non-judgmentally.”

We live in a world where distractions are all around us. The cell phones we carry with us at all times may be our biggest distraction; they have the ability to make you anticipate a text or call, bring you social media updates, or give you some “important” news.  I keep my phone on silent 90% of the time and have most of my notifications turned off. I rarely watch the news because most of it is there to put fear into its watchers.

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So in this World of technology & constant distractions, how can we make time for practicing Mindfulness Meditation?

To begin, you don’t need to make time for practicing Mindfulness Meditation. You can practice it in the morning as you wake up, on your commute to work, during work, and at any moment during your day.

Example of practicing Mindfulness Meditation:

It is nice to take a specific amount of devoted time for Mindfulness Meditation, but when you are just beginning you should try to practice it within your already established daily routines. The next time you are commuting to work, practice observing the things around you. Get into your senses. Don’t think about what you are seeing, see. Don’t think about what you are hearing, hear. Don’t think about what you are feeling, feel. Don’t think about what you are smelling, smell. Taste.

Don’t label the traffic as “good” or “bad,” allow it to be as it is; see it & hear it. Don’t label the weather or other drivers, just observe them, letting go of your thoughts & tapping into your senses. It’s simple, but we make it difficult.

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As you practice this, there will be a tendency for thoughts to arise, and they will. Be patient with your thoughts. Hear them in your head and then go back to observing. Take a deep breath when needed, putting your focus on your breath and then your surroundings, free of judgment.

“Turn on, tune in, drop out,” said Timothy Leary. There are many interpretations of this, but it can also relate to Mindfulness Meditation as you are dropping your thoughts & tuning in to your senses.

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“You’ve become bored to things because they exist only as names to you. The dry concepts of mind obscure your direct perception.” Dan Millman

Millman also discusses this state of mind as Satori, “which is the warrior’s state of being; it occurs when the mind is free of thought, pure awareness; the body is active, sensitive, relaxed, and the emotions are open and free.”

Reading Dan Millmans, Way Of The Peaceful Warrior, has helped me get more into this mindset.

Getting into the present moment helps us stop dwelling on past thoughts, and to stop anticipating the future. Millman says, “Stay in the present. You can do nothing to change the past, and the future will never come exactly as you plan or hope for.  The warrior is here, now. Your sorrow, your fear & anger, regret & guilt, your envy and plans and cravings live only in the past, or in the future.”

Overall Mindfulness Meditation is when you look at everything surrounding you without labeling it or judging it. You don’t look around & think “I see a chair, a cup of water, a tree. I’m tired. I need more money.” You just sit and observe, letting go of thoughts as they arise. This requires practice as all great things do, but it can be done! You don’t need to drink that 6 pack of Bud Light each night to relax. Dilly dilly. Drink in moderation sure, but this mindfulness practice can help you live more fully in a healthier way.

Again, don’t judge your thoughts as they arise, be patient with them.

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Dan Millman

The more you practice this, the more awake and alive you will feel throughout your days. You can practice Mindfulness Meditation wherever you are, and I highly encourage you to practice it everywhere.

Use your thinking mind when you need to take appropriate action, and then take action & live in the moment. Choose to pay attention to your surroundings on purpose. Stop letting your phantom mind drag you backwards. Don’t believe everything you think, we are often wrong anyway. Practice Mindfulness Meditation throughout your day. It won’t always be easy, but you have a choice.

“Old urges continue to arise, but urges do not matter; only actions do. A warrior is as a warrior does…Action always happens in the present, because it is an expression of the body, which can only exist in the here and now. But the mind is like a phantom that lives only in the past or future. It’s only power over you is to draw your attention out of the present.” Millman

Some of the answers to our biggest question are found not in thinking more, but in thinking less. In being in touch with your senses, you are able to live fully.

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Let us get back to our natural and blissful way of living. Regain your curiosity for life. Learn & observe all things.

“There is no path to happiness. Happiness is the path. There is no path to love. Love is the path. There is no path to peace. Peace is the path.” Millman

“My name doesn’t matter; neither does yours.  What is important is what lies beyond names and beyond questions.” Millman

I encourage you to listen to and read anything from Dan Millman, Alan Watts, Ram Dass, Eckhart Tolle, Jon Kabat-Zinn, Thich Nhat Hanh & all the many other teachers of living a fuller & happier life in the present moment. You can read a summary of Way Of The Peaceful Warrior, by Dan Millman, by Clicking Here.

Let me know how you practice mindfulness! I love connecting with like minded individuals.