You can have your story…or you can have your life

Original published on Darkush as ““Secret Formula” #4: Gratitude

All right, the last basic piece of the puzzle (we’ll discuss minor or supplemental pieces soon).


Gratitude is the one that kicked my butt in Atlanta. How am I supposed to be happy about something causing me so much pain? I could see the trap: while it is possible to power yourself with negative emotions (fear, anger, hate) that is a different path. “The Dark Side of the Force.” I don’t deny that it works, but that was not, at all, what was being discussed in Wattle’s book.

Not “THE” path, but certainly “A” path, and the one that called to me. Even if I could find things to be grateful for in this instance, could I apply this across the board? Can a person be grateful in ANY situation?

This is going to be a delicate one, but I’m going to mention it anyway. One of the great teachers of my life was a woman named Dawn Callan, teacher of a fabulous self-defense/empowerment workshop called “Awaken The Warrior Within.” In two days, Dawn could teach women more about self defense than most instructors can in two years. She did this with a combination of simple techniques drilled endlessly for two days at high intensity, combined with spiritual therapy-group style introspection and sharing. Then, at the end, you practice your skills against a padded attacker, in a combat exercise that has to be experienced to be believed. INTENSE. Breakthrough stuff. (more…)

Secret Formula #2

FRIDAY, APRIL 11, 2014

Goals X Faith X Action X Gratitude = Results

The term “Faith” is used in two different senses

1) the belief that your goal is POSSIBLE and APPROPRIATE, and that your efforts will bring you more pleasure and decrease pain.

2) The belief that you have greater resources than those contained within your ego-self. (more…)

The only 100% guaranteed path to success: begin with gratitude!

Secret Formula #4: Gratitude

The best prayers are prayers of thanks and gratitude–not “begging”.  When you begin yur day with a sense of gratitude, you are giving yourself the emotions that others think they have to have external accomplishment or validation to experience.   I ask you to consider: what if that is precisely wrong?  What if, instead of accomplishing to feel joyful, we joyfully accomplish?

The point of a “morning ritual” is to deliberately center yourself in the intentions, emotions, and attitudes that

  1. Allow you to feel your very best: dynamic, creative, confident, energetic, optimistic.
  2. Allow you to access your intelligence and creativity with greatest efficiency and effectiveness.  See #1.


With crystal-clear goals expressed in constant, massive action and a belief that you CAN and SHOULD do it, all that remains is a sense of joy and gratitude for all the blessings in your life.  If you can’t think of them, keep thinking.

Are you loved? Have you friends? Are your friggin’ ALIVE and have another blessed day of existence to savor this beautiful world?   Do you have past victories?  Do you have arms and legs and eyes?

No matter where you are, no matter your situation, if you can read these words I PROMISE you that there are people with less than you who are happier than you are.    And people with more who are miserable.

It’s your choice.   How do you control your emotions?

  1. What you focus on
  2. How you use language
  3. How you use your body.

Every single day, and I mean EVERY day, I move my body (Tai Chi) while focusing on my goals, focusing on faith, reminding myself what I’m grateful for, and remembering that all the power, intelligence, creativity and courage I need in life is already within me.   Every damned day.

When I don’t, I start “losing” myself, start feeling bland and blah and vaguely uncomfortable with existence.  When I perform my ritual, I accomplish far more in a day, and am far happier.

Really, seriously, the choice is yours.

Begin with gratitude.  Begin where others think they’ll end.  Any day you are grateful…you’ve already won.



Someone needs to control your life. Why not you?

I maintain several mailing lists for different purposes. One is a strictly “Lifewriting for writers” list, and for that one, I created a “Ten Commandments of Writing” series. As I go back through my blog postings, culling for my autobiography, I’m pulling out everything that seems essential to my world view and life experience. And this one hits home. I’m going to take each of these ideas and extrapolate them to all three arenas of life, even though they deal most directly with MY mental/career aspect:

1) Thou Shalt Write

This is one of The Ten Commandments of Writing. Hmmm…the 10 commandments of writing? Why not?

I have so much fun waking up every morning and wondering what I’m going to say to all of you. This time I’m going to organize the next ten days to create a ‘ten commandments of writing.’ In other words, if I had to create a system for my own son to follow on his path to literary excellence, what would I have him do? This is an excellent thought experiment, because it asks me to boil down the most important things I’ve learned over forty years of writing.

Your exercise is to adapt each and every one of these to whatever you find important. For fun, I’ll adapt it to the other two major areas of my life: martial arts/yoga and Family.

And the first and most vital one is: thou shalt write. A writer isn’t someone who publishes, or makes herself wealthy, or wins awards, or gets movies. A writer is someone who writes. You have to grasp how important this is. In every field I know of, the most excellent people practice their skills five days a week minimum. The very best are polishing every single day.

There is a shining star within you, a flaming beacon of creativity that roared like a forest fire when you were a child, and has doubtless dimmed a bit since then. But if you write every day, you can re-open a channel to that sacred and intimate space.

I will repeat here and now the advice I was given, advice I’ve passed on to thousands of writers. It is a combination of the advice given by Robert Heinlein, and Ray Bradbury:

1) Write a story a week, or a story every other week.
2) Finish what you write.
3) Put it in the mail, keep it in the mail until it sells.
4) Don’t re-write except to editorial requests.

If you will do this, and read obsessively, you are darned near doomed to succeed.

If you applied the “Secret Formula” can you see the goal? The need for faith that your actions will bring pleasure? The constant action? And the value of writing with joy and gratitude (Bradbury speaks of writing the first draft in a blind heat of passion, like running naked through the id-jungle).

Now let’s apply this to the other two arenas:

Body: Modern civilization broke the connection between caloric output and input, something that has existed for all human beings throughout all history. It’s hardly a surprise that obesity plagues us. But the solution is painfully simple: every day you eat, you should move. If you ask yourself how much and what kind of motion our ancestors required to catch, cultivate or gather the food you are eating, and do even ½ of that daily, you would be in the top 1%, fitness wise. Bend, twist, stretch, lift, walk, lift and sweat every day. Re-connect that body-mind link.

Family: There is no such thing as “quality time.” There is only time. You can’t choreograph peak moments with your kids, so much as be there for them, with them, when their peak moments occur. What you invest your time and energy in demonstrates your values. Your husband, wife or partner needs you THERE. Touch, taste, smell, hearing, sight…all of these ways of “being there” need to be covered, not just the ones YOU are most comfortable with.

And all relationships begin with your relationship with yourself. Every day, you have to enter the mindful state, the inner-flow state, and work to dissolve illusion.
Body, Mind, or Spirit…connect every day.

This is what our ancestors evolved to do, only they did it as a natural part of living. In this world, we have the luxury of not paying attention…and we’re paying for it in our happiness, our health, and our intimacy.

Someone needs to be in control of your life.

Why not you?