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The Tao of Today

Tuesday, March 30, 2010

My post today is a little something to think about as we face our tasks of the day. It's a short passage taken from the Tao Te Ching.


Confront the difficult
while it is still easy;
accomplish the great task
by a series of small acts.

The Scoop On Procrastination

I thought it might be good to explore the subject of procrastination today. I find that even though I'm managing to meet my commitment every day, I'm often waiting until the very last minute to do it.

So, From Wikipedia, we have this wonderful article on Procrastination, what it means, why we do it, and even the different types of procrastinators.


Procrastination refers to the counterproductive deferment of actions or tasks to a later time. Psychologists often cite such behavior as a mechanism for coping with the anxiety associated with starting or completing any task or decision. There are three criteria for a behavior to be classified as procrastination,it must be:

  1. Counterproductive
  2. Needless
  3. Delaying

(This sounds alot like that silly facebook game I got hooked on a while back... what about you guys? Anyone else have a game on facebook (or elsewhere) that is counterproductive, needless, and delaying?)

Procrastination may result in stress, a sense of guilt and crisis, severe loss of personal productivity, as well as societal disapproval for not meeting responsibilities or commitments. These feelings combined may promote further procrastination. While it is regarded as normal for people to procrastinate to some degree, it becomes a problem when it impedes normal functioning. Chronic procrastination may be a sign of an underlying psychological disorder.

Etymology:
The word itself comes from the Latin word procrastinatus: pro- (forward) and crastinus (of tomorrow). The term's first known appearance was in Edward Hall's The Union of the Noble and Illustre Famelies of Lancastre and York, first published sometime before 1548. The sermon reflected procrastination's connection at the time to task avoidance or delay, volition or will, and sin.

(So, before 1548 no one was a procrastinator... they (we) were all sluggards. Personally I like the word procrastinator better than sluggard. It sounds more... I dunno... more professional and less lazy!)

Causes of procrastination:

  1. Psychological
    The psychological causes of procrastination vary greatly, but generally surround issues of anxiety, low sense of self-worth, and a self-defeating mentality. Procrastinators are also thought to have a lower-than-normal level of conscientiousness, more based on the "dreams and wishes" of perfection or achievement in contrast to a realistic appreciation of their obligations and potential.

    (I'll bet that this lower-than-normal level of conscientiousness can be directly linked to habitually breaking commitments made to oneself. I wonder which came first, the anxiety, low self esteem, and defeatism - or the not keeping of the commitments.)

  2. Physiological
    Research on the physiological roots of procrastination mostly surrounds the role of the prefrontal cortex. This area of the brain is responsible for executive brain functions such as planning, impulse control, attention, and acts as a filter by decreasing distracting stimuli from other brain regions. Damage or low activation in this area can reduce an individual's ability to filter out distracting stimuli, ultimately resulting in poorer organization, a loss of attention and increased procrastination.

    Procrastination can be a persistent and debilitating disorder in some people, causing significant psychological disability and dysfunction. These individuals may actually be suffering from an underlying mental health problem such as depression or ADHD.

    (Does it annoy anyone else that nowadays every problem under the sun is a "psychological disorder" or "mental illness?" On the other hand, "mental defect" or "character flaw" don't sound any better. Maybe I just don't want to think there's anything wrong with me ...)

Procrastination and mental health
While procrastination is a behavioral condition, these underlying mental health disorders can be treated with medication and/or therapy. Therapy can be a useful tool in helping an individual learn new behaviors, overcome fears and anxieties, and achieve an improved quality of life. Thus it is important for people who chronically struggle with debilitating procrastination to see a trained therapist or psychiatrist to see if an underlying mental health issue may be present.

People who exhibit procrastination and decreased impulse control appear to be prone to internet addiction.

(ok... so that's something to think about, and it's interesting because it occurs to me that the internet might be a procrastinators paradise! I mean, where else can a person spend so much time "seemingly" doing something, when in actuality, you're just goofing off. I personally love the internet... and while some of what I do is actually productive and necessary - a fair amount of time is spent just fiddling around. And for me, facebook is the ultimate distraction. What about you guys? do you find facebook addictive? or are there other places on the net that suck you in?)

Perfectionism:
Traditionally, procrastination has been associated with perfectionism, a tendency to negatively evaluate outcomes and one's own performance, intense fear and avoidance of evaluation of one's abilities by others, heightened social self-consciousness and anxiety, recurrent low mood, and "workaholism". According to Robert B. Slaney adaptive perfectionists (when perfectionism is egosyntonic) were less likely to procrastinate than non-perfectionists, while maladaptive perfectionists (people who saw their perfectionism as a problem; i.e., when perfectionism is egodystonic) had high levels of procrastination (and also of anxiety).

(Ok... yeah... perfectionist.. that's me. Sometimes perfectionism is a plus, but some of us take it to extremes... extremists that we are... and then.. well... it causes the sin of procrastination! At least that's what I'm thinking. Anybody else have thoughts on this one?)

Types of procrastinators

  1. The relaxed type
    The relaxed type of procrastinators view their responsibilities negatively and avoid them by directing energy into other tasks. It is common, for example, for relaxed type procrastinating children to abandon schoolwork but not their social lives. Students often see projects as a whole rather than breaking them into smaller parts. This type of procrastination is a form of denial or cover-up; therefore, typically no help is being sought. Furthermore, they are also unable to defer gratification. The procrastinator avoids situations that would cause displeasure, indulging instead in more enjoyable activities.

    In Freudian terms, such procrastinators refuse to renounce the pleasure principle, instead sacrificing the reality principle. They may not appear to be worried about work and deadlines, but this is simply an evasion of the work that needs to be completed.

  2. The tense-afraid type
    The tense-afraid type of procrastinators usually feel overwhelmed with pressure, unrealistic about time, uncertain about goals, and many other negative feelings. They may feel a sense of malaise. Feeling that they lack the ability or focus to successfully complete their work, they tell themselves that they need to unwind and relax, that it's better to take it easy for the afternoon, for example, and start afresh in the morning. They usually have grandiose plans that aren't realistic. Their 'relaxing' is often temporary and ineffective, and leads to even more stress as time runs out, deadlines approach and the person feels increasingly guilty and apprehensive.

    This behavior becomes a cycle of failure and delay, as plans and goals are put off, pencilled into the following day or week in the diary again and again. It can also have a debilitating effect on their personal lives and relationships. Since they are uncertain about their goals, they often feel awkward with people who appear confident and goal-oriented, which can lead to depression. Tense-afraid procrastinators often withdraw from social life, avoiding contact even with close friends.

    (When it comes to procrastination, which type are you?

    I think I'm a pretty good blend of both! More the first than the second, but I do definitely see myself in that second role of constantly wanting to unwind and relax right now, thinking I'll start "fresh" in some perfect future moment. I do love that phrase about "refusing to renounce the pleasure principle, and instead sacrificing the reality principle." It's interesting, since I don't find myself experiencing much pleasure... instead, it's mostly pressure.)




So there we have it guys! The scoop on procrastination complete with commentary. And how are we doing with our daily commitments? Anyone else got the procrastination bug? Or is it just me? If I'm not the only one, and if you've got it bad, here's a link to Procrastination Central. There might be something there you can use. And if it works for you, let me know. I need all the help I can get!

Something to think about...

Monday, March 29, 2010

“If you deny yourself commitment,
what can you do with your life?”

Harvey Fierstein

Keeping Promises To Yourself

Sunday, March 28, 2010

We all know the importance of keeping promises to people. Keeping promises leads to trust which is one of the bedrocks of any good relationship, whether it be with friends, work colleagues or your partner. However there is one element of keeping promises that gets overlooked – keeping promises to yourself.


When it comes to personal productivity and just generally being able to get stuff done, committing to doing something and then actually doing it is critical. All those to-do items you casually put down on your list with no real conviction to finish off might seem harmless, but they represent broken commitments that over time wear away at your personal trust. Do it often enough and you will find you have very little conviction to actually get stuff done. You can blithely say you will do something without ever acting upon it. However, get into the habit of keeping promises to yourself and you will find it much easier to complete projects and build new habits. When you say you will do something you mean it.

  1. Make realistic promises
    Break your work down into manageable chunks. Yes, it’s this tip, again! I may be mentioning it in nearly every other post at the moment but there is a good reason for that. It actually works! It is much easier to keep your promise about doing a small task, than it is to keep your promise to finish a large project or develop an entirely new habit over several months. It’s no good trying to keep a promise to visit the gym five times a week when you are just starting out. However, making a personal agreement to go once this week, then twice next week is much easier.

  2. Don’t make promises idly
    Every time you break a promise to yourself (or to anyone else for that matter) you erode away at the trust. Even the smallest of actions can have a negative effect on that level of trust. Don’t think that a simple task on your to-do list that you keep putting off will have much effect, it’s being noted down subconsciously as yet another broken promise. If you commit to do something, whether it be to do some work on a particular day (you promise yourself you will decorate the bedroom at the weekend, for instance) or simply to respond to an email, follow through with it. If you don’t think you will actually do it don’t make that commitment.

  3. Make the promise contractual
    The problem with items on your to-do list is that they don’t emphasize the fact that they are personal promises. As the name implies they are simply tasks to do. To get round this treat it as though it was a contract. You can even go so far as to type up a sheet defining the terms of the agreement between yourself and your head and sign it at the bottom.

    Just because when you break a personal promise there is nobody shouting down the phone like they would if you broke your word with a company or your customers, doesn’t mean the consequences aren’t the same (erosion of trust, for example). So, why not be business-like with your promises? While it’s not practical to have contracts for every minor item you need to do it can be very effective for larger projects, especially with habit building. For instance, as part of an health drive I’ve avoided alcohol this week. Thanks to the contract reminding me I had until Sunday 11.59PM not to drink any, I was able to complete my goal.

    source: Organizeit

Fully Committed

Saturday, March 27, 2010

The picture says it all, I think.

As Good As Your Word

Friday, March 26, 2010

The day after I made the decision to do a project on "Keeping Our Commitments," this post on Promises showed up on the Daily Om:

Be careful with the promises you make as they are energetic vows taken seriously by our souls and the universe.

Ever since human beings could speak to one another, they have been making promises and keeping them or not keeping them. Those who keep their promises are regarded as people of integrity, while those who don’t keep their promises are regarded as people who at best can’t be taken seriously and at worst can’t be trusted. Sometimes we forget how powerful our words are, and we use them haphazardly or unconsciously, creating expectations that are never fulfilled, leaving disappointment and distrust in our wake.

On an even deeper level, there are promises we may have made to ourselves that we don’t remember because they have slipped into our unconscious. An early heartache may have been followed by a promise never to trust love again. Without realizing it, we may be fulfilling that promise and wondering why our love life looks so grim. At an even deeper level, many people who recall past lives become aware that they made a promise lifetimes ago that they are still keeping. For example, a vow of poverty taken in a lifetime as a monk may be holding someone back from fulfilling his earning potential now.


Upon realizing that we have made a promise we no longer wish to be beholden to, we can perform a ritual of requesting release from that bond. In doing so, we clear ourselves of outmoded connections and patterns, returning ourselves to a clean slate. Then we can resolve to remember that our word is sacred and to be very conscious of any promises we make to ourselves or to others.

We may ask to be released from any promises made to ourselves or others in our present, past, or future lives, consciously or unconsciously, that are holding us back from fulfilling our greatest good. We may ask that love, light, and healing be sent to any souls who have suffered from our inability to be true to our word, including ourselves. We can ask for the wisdom to do our best and from this point forward to be true to our word, promising only what we truly intend to deliver. The resulting clear conscience and liberated energy will illustrate this truth: We are only as good as our word.

Motivational Thought For Today

Thursday, March 25, 2010


To reach a port, we must sail —Sail, not tie at anchor— Sail, not drift.

Franklin Roosevelt

Deal Breakers

Wednesday, March 24, 2010


Before we go any further, I think it's important to establish our "deal breakers" for this project. Now, I am not talking about the excuses we make to ourselves. Excuses look something like this:

  1. Too tired.
  2. Headache.
  3. Overslept.
  4. Argument with spouse, children, mother-in-law... etc.

When I say "deal breaker," what I am talking about are circumstances and situations that anyone would agree make excellent reasons NOT to keep the commitment. I'm assuming each of our lists will be slightly different, and I think it's best if your "deal breaker" list is short and easy to remember. Mine looks something like this:

  1. My house burns down.
  2. Death of a loved one.
  3. A medical emergency leaves me incapacitated.
  4. Wow! I just won 50 million dollars in the lottery.

This way, when you are tired or stressed or busy and the temptation to overlook your commitment "just this one time" comes up, all you have to do is remember your deal breakers. Did the house burn down? Was there a tsunami? Am I in the hospital having surgery? What, am I suddenly a millionare? If the answer to those questions is "no," well, then... no excuses... just do the thing!

And speaking of "do the thing," I'm off to do mine. What about you? Have you met your commitment for today?

Making A 30 Day Commitment

Tuesday, March 23, 2010


Alright guys, today is the day! It's time to commit to something that you will... or won't... do every day for the next 30 days. I've got some guidelines that I think might be helpful. They are as follows:

  1. Make a list of all the little things you'd like to do for yourself, and another list of the things you wish you didn't do to yourself. The longer the lists the better.
  2. Now, go through your lists and cross out all the things that have the word "should" attached.
  3. Delete everything that takes more than ten minutes to accomplish.
  4. Also delete anything that you would do, or not do, more than once a day. We're going for easy here. We're looking for something that you do one time, each day, so you can right away say, "OK, mission accomplished. Am I cool, or what!"
  5. Mark off anything that would cost money or require resources that you don't already have available, right now, today.
  6. Because we're doing a daily project, remove anything from your lists that isn't something you would, or wouldn't do every day for thirty days. A once a week commitment is great, but not right for this particular project.

Important Points:

  • Whatever you choose to commit to needs to be something interesting enough or beneficial enough to give you a nice little pay off by the end of the 30 days. In other words, it must be worth the effort it takes to do it.
  • Don't get complicated. Keep it simple. Simple doesn't always mean easy, but easy is good too.
  • Shorter is better. If you make a decision to commit to something that will take more than 10 minutes out of your day, be sure that you really do have that extra time to allot for it.
  • Choose something you actually WANT to do. This is very important! If you don't really want to do it, you'll do everything possible to sabotage your success.
  • Be realistic. Don't set yourself up for failure by commiting to something you know you can't accomplish. For example: Saying you will do fifty push ups a day, when you can't even do five. In a case like that, better to commit to three push ups a day. Three is better than zero, and by the end of thirty days, you might even be able to do ten!
  • Remember, this is a project designed to help us learn how to make small commitments to ourselves and keep them, it's not a challenge to make a larger than life commitment. Baby steps folks... we're taking baby steps here.

Also, very important:

  1. Once you've made the decision about what you are committing to, write it down where you will see it every day. It may surprise you how easy it will be to forget to do it!
  2. It's up to you whether or not you share your commitment with the other people in your life. I find that I'm more likely to keep a promise if everyone around me knows about it.
  3. Be accountable. Post a comment here at The Prosperity Project every day saying "Yes, I did my thing." Alternatively, post it on your facebook page, our facebook fan page, your blog, or even twitter. You could write it on your calendar, put a sticky note on your refrigerator, text or call family or friends. It doesn't matter where or how, just that you write it or say it somewhere every day.

Are you ready?
What are you waiting for?
Go do that thing!

Keeping Our Commitments

Monday, March 22, 2010

"If you break the little promises,
you'll break the big ones."


That's a quote from "The Road" by Cormac McCarthy, and it has stuck with me ever since I read it back in January. How many big promises have I made to myself and never kept? How many little promises get broken every day?

I am a person who prides herself on having integrity, and being honest, and yet I cannot seem to hold myself to my word. Sure, when I make promises to other people, I do pretty well. It's the commitments and promises I make to myself that I have the most trouble with.

What about you? How many times have you said to yourself I will... and then you don't. Or I won't... and then you do?

In Autobiography of a Yogi, Yogananda says that in order to manifest successfully, you must always speak the truth. It seems to me that this might also be true for affirmations, and power statements. And maybe it might be worthwhile to do a project on "Nothing But The Truth" at some future point in time. Ok... don't be scared, I'm not quite up for that one yet either. However, small promises and commitments that we make to ourselves are aspects of truth saying that we often overlook, and I have this idea that it might be beneficial to practice something simple first.

So, let's get ready to make a small commitment, a small promise to ourselves. Nothing major, let's not get complicated or ambitious, just think of and commit to one small thing, something you will do, or you won't do every day for the next 30 days. Tomorrow, I'll post some guidelines and some ideas and we'll get ready to make our commitments then. For today, we're just thinking about it.

How about it? Are you up for this next project? I'd love it if you would join me!

The Hero's Journey - Project Overview

“Success means fulfilling your own dreams, singing your own song, dancing your own dance, creating from your heart and enjoying the journey, trusting that whatever happens, it will be OK. Creating your own adventure!

~Elana Lindquist

Here is an overview of our mini-project on The Hero's Journey. This post provides links to pertinent aspects of this project for those of you who are interested in exploring it.

If you are curious about the results that we experienced, you can read our feedback and various thoughts at Wrapping Things Up. If you'd like to give it a try, a good place to start is at The Beginning.

This particular project was inspired by a larger project, and you can find those links and wrap-up on this post: Living A Larger Life - Project Overview.

If you are making a "Hero's Journey" or are curious about it, you can start on Day One - The Hero's Journey and then continue on through reading and working with each post in order. Or, you can explore the individual posts at random. How you work the project is up to you. There is a complete listing of the day by day links at the bottom of this post.

This is an active blog, and if you post, we will notice and reply.. and give you the benefit of our own experience and our support if it seems pertinent or appropriate. Feel free to post your thoughts, ideas, results, joys and disappointments as you go. Even though we love you, comment spam is deleted when discovered, and we've had so much of it lately that I enabled comment verification. Anonymous posting is discouraged, however, if you have problems with the comment box, feel free to use that option.

We do have a recommended reading list if you are interested in expanding your understanding. I don't know how up to date it is, but there are a lot of really good books listed. Feel free to add titles and authors that you would recommend. We do have quite a collection of quotes, and if you want to, you can visit Way Cool Quotes and find a bunch more.

As promised, here is the complete listing of all the posts for our "The Hero's Journey" project:

Living a Larger Life - Project Overview

“There are some people who live in a dream world, and there are some who face reality; and then there are those who turn one into the other.
-Douglas Everett

Here is an overview of our project on Living A Larger Life. This post provides links to pertinent aspects of this project for those of you who are interested in exploring it.

If you are curious about what inspired me to do this particular project, you can read this post. If you are curious about the results that we experienced, you can read our feedback and various thoughts at Wrapping Things Up. If you'd like to give it a try, a good place to start is with the Four Questions.

This project also spawned a mini-project, The Hero's Journey, and you can find those links and wrap-up on this post: Project Overview - Hero's Journey.

If you like the idea of living your life as if it was an epic fantasy movie, and want to see how it might work for you, you can start on Day One - If your life was an epic fantasy movie and then continue on through reading and working with each post in order. Or, you can explore the individual posts at random. How you work the project is up to you. There is a complete listing of the day by day links at the bottom of this post.

This is an active blog, and if you post, we will notice and reply.. and give you the benefit of our own experience and our support if it seems pertinent or appropriate. Feel free to post your thoughts, ideas, results, joys and disappointments as you go. Even though we love you, comment spam is deleted when discovered, and we've had so much of it lately that I enabled comment verification. Anonymous posting is discouraged, however, if you have problems with the comment box, feel free to use that option.

We do have a recommended reading list if you are interested in expanding your understanding. I don't know how up to date it is, but there are a lot of really good books listed. Feel free to add titles and authors that you would recommend. We do have quite a collection of quotes, and if you want to, you can visit Way Cool Quotes and find a bunch more.

As promised, here is the complete listing of all the posts for our "Living A Larger Life" project:

A New Look


Hi guys, well, I know it's been a while! I have been really busy. Our last project was a real door opener for me, and I've been burning the candle at both ends trying to just stay caught up with the barest of minimums. Also, I've been putting off this next project because it involves making a commitment... and I wanted to be sure that I'm committed to it before I got it going. And it looks like today is the day!

I started with something I've been wanting to do for quite a while and gave the Prosperity Project a makeover. I'm still working the bugs out of our new look, so if any of you experience wierdness or glitches or something that's just not right, please let me know so I can fix it.

Next on my agenda is to get our last project wrapped up and the next one started. We'll be working on keeping the small commitments we make to ourselves, and I'm hoping to have it posted before tomorrow morning.

An Interview with Dr. Ihaleakala Hew Len

Tuesday, March 09, 2010

Here's something totally out of context! I'm doing a mini-workshop tonight on Ho'oponopono and I found these two interviews with Dr Ihaleakala Hew Len. I'm wishing I would have posted them when we did our project on Ho'oponopono, so here they are now. A little late and after the fact... but useful and thought provoking nonetheless.

Part One:



Part Two:



I'm hoping the sound is OK because the computer I'm doing this on has the sound card disabled, and I won't be able to actually hear the videos until after this is posted and I'm on my laptop instead.

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