Thursday, April 23, 2009

The golden present

The golden present. A great way to describe each moment in our life when we are fully present and savoring every thing that life brings our way - focused in the here and now. Those beautiful unexpected gifts in life are normally merely glimmers of gold that come on us when we are least expecting them and then pass us by so quickly that many of us miss them. Like a beautiful sunset or sunrise that can take your breath away but they last only moments - brief glimses of gold, pure majesty. That's why it is our challenge in life to be completely present in those moments and to cherish them for what they are - a golden present from the universe.

Not nearly as spectacular as the sunset this morning, but still a beautiful gift, I was handed one of those golden moments from the owners of the newly relaunched Z Ocean Hotel in South Beach Miami. They held a party complete with signature blue drinks on a blue carpet (to match their new logo colors), passed around Oprah's favorite grilled cheese sandwiches in the world and fried olives from Table 8 restaurant, peppered in amongst the tomato bisque served in shot glasses and Zushi Flirt rolls. And to top it all off they invited the Bacon Brothers band to help liven up the night with their energy and music. How fun!

What a wonderful gift, one of those golden moments that we need to be fully present to appreciate. Below you can see just a glimse of the brilliance in video and photo. Thank you LGD Communications and Z Ocean Hotel for your many gifts. I feel truly blessed.

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

The 95/5 Rule of Relationships

I know, you think I'm bad in math and got the Pareto Principle (80/20 rule) wrong, but this is the rule that really matters in life, the 95/5 rule.

It is human nature, nothing magical about it, just something we all do in life. We do it with our jobs, our family, our intimate relationships, we just can't seem to help ourselves. Finding fault is not a virtue, it is a deal killer. I see it kill deals every day.

"I hate sitting in so many meetings, I don't like writing status reports, I miss my old boss or my friends back at such and such company" and on and on. Right now we are doing less and less of this at work if we are lucky enough to still have a job, so there is a silver lining in all this economic devastation. We are finally focusing on what is right about our job or our company or our colleagues because we are so thankful to have them.

Relationships are an even juicier outlet for the 95/5 rule. In the beginning our future soul mate is everything we ever dreamed of and more. And the reason this happens is that we have no idea who they are, so they can be whatever we want them to be. We project all of our dreams and fantasies into the knowledge void we have about who this person really is. But then over time the void starts being populated with facts and experiences that are attributed to the real person and we start to pick them apart, finding all of the things about them that are wrong. But the problem with this approach is that we completely miss the 95% of the person and relationship that is absolutely right.

Now of course no one is going to be 100% our dream but in reality, I'm not that great at dreaming and usually the person I'm with turns out to be better than my wildest dream, which is the case with my partner Toni. For me to find relationship joy I need to be open to asking for what I want in life and adding at the end of my endless list of demands the statement, this or something better. Because the person we are in relationship may not match up exactly to our expectations we can become fixated on all of the ways they aren't our perfect match, totally missing how they may in fact be better than we imagined.

I find that this fixation on the 5% starts to consume us, to get on our last nerve as the focus magnifies the differences and makes them take on a life of their own. All of the endearing qualities that our soul mate had in the first months of the relationship now drive us crazy with frustration, but how could they have changed so much?

Well the truth is, they didn't. It is just that we know them better now and they aren't the person in our dreams, they are a real person in flesh and blood. And given the chance to interact with my dreams and a real person, the real person wins hands down (no pun intended).

So if your goal is a lasting and beautiful relationship that is better than anything you could have imagined, my advice to you is to mindfully turn your focus each and every time one of those 5% issues rears its ugly head, to one of the many things about the person you love, to the 95% that is right. And before you know it, that 5% will lose its grip on your attention and most likely you will grow out of your need to have everything in life delivered exactly to your specifications. Relationships that last tend to grow deeper into wonderful things that we can hardly imagine but changing our focus is the only way to get to this deeper place.

Saturday, April 11, 2009

Life is like a math problem

I spoke recently to someone I care deeply for and wanted an update on her budding love affair. Well, although they absolutely adore each other, she told me that she wasn't sure it was going to work out. She felt like she was losing herself in the relationship, just like she did in her last one. Somehow she had magically found and fallen in love with someone that was almost a carbon copy of her last long term relationship. How could this have happened? Indeed, how is it that when we leave unhealthy relationships that we somehow recreate them wherever we go, no matter who we fall in love with - they turn out to be similar to the one we left?

Here's my analogy, life is like a math problem. So we are sitting in class, math class, and our teacher (the person we are in relationship with) comes to us with a problem to solve. We don't like the problem so much so we change schools (relationships). And after the initial getting to know you phase, an amazing thing happens, the exact same math problem is the one that our new teacher presents us with.

So why is this? Well the math problem is our lesson in life, something we need to solve within ourself in order to move up to the next grade, the next level in our relating with others. And our math teachers are perfect children of God that volunteer to come into our lives to teach us this important lesson, no matter how unpleasant they might have to be in order to get the point across.

So when you think the other person in your life is being difficult because of some character flaw, that might be the case. But if that character flaw follows you around from relationship to relationship, then maybe it is something within yourself that can be changed, improved, learned. For example, if you find yourself in controlling dominating relationships, ask what is it in myself that teaches others that it is okay to control and dominate me? What things are there in my life that I'm not doing or getting that I have voluntarily denied myself so that I can give control to this teacher?

Maybe this relationship is an opportunity to change the way I teach people how to treat me? Maybe I won't give permission to anyone to dominate me. Maybe I will just go out and get that puppy afterall, even if it isn't logical, rational or perfect timing. Afterall, I'm the one that wants it and only I can prevent me from getting it. Well at least that's true after I graduate.