The 20 Most Life-Altering Concepts I’ve Ever Embraced


Do you have one life lesson or philosophy that has changed the course of your life?

Sometimes you can read something or have a life experience that hits you over the head with its brilliance and perfection. A huge mind shift takes place, and your life is forever altered for the better.

These can be years in the making or overnight sensations. I've had my share of both, and even the overnight sensations can take years to fully assimilate in my psyche.

But the important thing  is the discovery of these concepts and how you apply them to your life. Once you realize these great truths are out there, it becomes a lifelong quest to discover more of them.

That's what personal development is all about — the ongoing search for the truths that will set us free to be who we are and to live our best possible lives.

Through my adult years, there have been many of these concepts that I've discovered (or that have hit me over the head) along the way. I've chosen 20 to share with you that have impacted me most profoundly. And I've suggested a resource for further reading on the topic.

1. The Power of the Present Moment

It has taken me a long time to fully grasp this one, but the power of now is probably the most life-changing concept I've embraced. Our entire lives are comprised of present moments, so what we do in each moment and how we choose to view our current circumstances is what determines our happiness. Don't fritter them away — make each moment count.

Resource: The Power of Now: A Guide to Spiritual Enlightenment, by Eckhart Tolle

2. Don't Struggle with Reality

What is happening is supposed to happen because it is happening. That sounds simple, but most of us resist our circumstances and argue with reality. As teacher and author Byron Katie reminds, “If you want reality to be different than what it is, you might as well try to teach a cat to bark.” When we stop opposing reality, and accept exactly what is, it frees us for creative thought and action based on truth.

Resource: Loving What Is: Four Questions That Can Change Your Life, by Byron Katie

3. Let the Future Unfold

This is a hard one for those of us who are planners and goal-setters. You can still plan and set goals, but hold on to them loosely. Steer your boat in the direction of your dreams, but then let the current and wind carry you forward. Don't worry or fret about what's around the next bend. The future has a way of taking care of itself.

Resource: Release the Future (Marianne Williamson L.A. Lecture Series)

4. Simplify Everything

I spent half of my adult life making things busier and more complicated — only to realize that busyness, things, and complications were sucking the joy out of living. When you do and have few things, you have more time to savor them fully and focus on what affords you the most pleasure and fulfillment.

Resource: Simplify Your Life: 100 Ways to Slow Down and Enjoy the Things That Really Matter, by Ellen St. James

5. Let Go of Attachments

This goes along with simplifying. And the act of simplifying certainly helps you recognize your attachments. You'll see what I mean when you start to give away a perfectly good suit that you haven't worn in ten years. Suddenly that suit looks really necessary. But once you do let go, you never look back. And suddenly you are lighter and freer than ever before.

Resource: The Joy of Less, A Minimalist Living Guide: How to Declutter, Organize, and Simplify Your Life,by Francine Jay

6. Don't Believe Your Thoughts

This one was so liberating for me. For the longest time, I believed my thoughts were the definitive truth about reality. If I thought it, it must be the way it is. Now I realize that often my thoughts are completely wrong or just one perspective on truth. It is always good to find evidence to support the opposite of your thoughts, especially negative and limiting thoughts.

Resource: Don't Believe Everything You Think: The 6 Basic Mistakes We Make in Thinking, by Thomas Kida

7. You Can Train Your Brain

The science of neuroplasticity has changed everything about the way I view my capacity for learning and adapting to new things. Our brains are not rigidly mapped as scientists once assumed. Our brains are capable of rewiring to accommodate new learning and reinforce new behaviors well into old age. Even visualizing alone can strengthen areas in our physical and mental lives.

Resource: The Brain That Changes Itself: Stories of Personal Triumph from the Frontiers of Brain Science, by Norman Doidge, M.D.

8. Focus on the Task at Hand

This is the most practical and productive concept I've embraced. I've heard it for years, but my friend Leo Babauta of Zen Habits made it real for me. He showed me how to clear everything off my desk, pick one important thing, and give that one thing the time and attention it deserved for a fixed amount of time. Now I'm not distracted and pulled in other directions.

Resource: Focus: A simplicity manifesto in the Age of Distraction, by Leo Babauta

9. Don't Overthink

Historically I've had  a tendency to let my mind whir off on over-thinking tangents. I believed I could think my way out of a problem or into a great decision. Some amount of thinking might be required for these situations, but at some point you get stuck like a gerbil on a wheel. I've discovered some brain tricks to help me get off that wheel and break free of over-thinking.

Resource: Women Who Think Too Much: How to Break Free of Overthinking and Reclaim Your Life, by Susan Nolen-Hoeksema

 10. Find Your Passion

I went for years thinking I didn't have a passion. Finally, at age 48, I did the work necessary to learn what makes me really happy and how to apply it to my life and work. This work is often ignored or put off, but it is the only way to learn how to create your life by design rather than by reaction.

Resource: Discover Your Passion: A Step-by-Step Course for Creating the Life of Your Dreams, By Barrie Davenport

11. Live Through Your Values

Your core values should be the blueprint for everything else in your life. Until I did the self-work mentioned above, I didn't give my values a lot of thought. But if your life is aligned with your values, then you have a purpose and guide for every decision and action.

Resource: What Matters Most : The Power of Living Your Values, by Hyrum W. Smith

12. Stop Pleasing People

If your life is defined by pleasing others, winning their approval, or keeping them from disappointment, you are living a false life. You can't be authentic and live this way. This impossible goal only reinforces low self-esteem and unhappiness. Once liberated from the pleasing addiction, you are free to be yourself and love yourself.

Resource: The Disease To Please: Curing the People-Pleasing Syndrome, by Harriet B. Braiker

13. Whine Less, Give More

The more I talk about my problems and focus on them, the worse they seem — and the worse I feel. I've discovered when I feel bad about my life, I go do something for someone else. Then I feel better. It's amazing how that works — but only every time.

Resource: The Power of Serving Others: You Can Start Where You Are, by Gary Morsch

14. It's Never Too Late

Using age as an excuse just doesn't hold water. We can do most anything we want to well into old age. Why not live every single day learning, growing, and having bold adventures?

Resource: Age Doesn't Matter Unless You're a Cheese, by Kathryn and Ross Petras

15. Focus on Your Top 20%

Rather than trying to do it all, pick what is most important and spend your time and energy on those things. This all ties in with simplifying and focusing on the task at hand, but it's the bigger picture. Look at all areas of your life, and decide the top 20%. Let everything else fall away.

Resource: The 80/20 Principle: The Secret to Achieving More with Less, by Richard Koch

16. Happiness Is (Partly) a Choice

Our genes and circumstances account for half of our happiness levels, but the other half is totally in our control. That allows for a big heap of happiness if we choose it. I learned so much about what can foster happiness from this resource book.

Resource: The How of Happiness: A New Approach to Getting the Life You Want, by Sonja Lyubomirsky

17. There's Nothing to Fear

Unless we are in imminent danger, most fears are projections about a perceived future. By staying the present moment (see #1), you will see there is nothing to fear. Right now, everything is just fine.

Resource: Fearless: Creating the Courage to Change the Things You Can, by Steve Chandler

18. Create vs. React

Most of us spend our lives in reaction mode. Life throws things at us, and we respond accordingly. But you can flip that around and take control. Once you do that passion and value work mentioned above, you have the tools to create an extraordinary life by your design.

Resource: Shift your Mind: Shift the World, by Steve Chandler

19. Action is the Answer

When you don't know what to do, just do something. When you feel afraid, do something. When you don't want to start, do something. Any action, tiny action, will give you momentum. And that gets the ball rolling forward.

Resource: The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People, Stephen Covey

20. Stay Open to Possibilities

I love author Shakti Gawain's quote, “This or something better now manifests for me in totally satisfying and harmonious ways, for the highest good of all concerned.” When you aren't too attached to outcomes and remain open, you might get something better than you bargained for!

Resource: Creative Visualization: Use the Power of Your Imagination to Create What You Want in Your Life, by Shakti Gawain

What concepts or life lessons have changed your life for the better? Please share in the comments.

Comments

  1. Lynn Howard says:

    The Buddhist notion of Emptiness or No-self is the most profound. It enables letting go of attachment to all things inner and outer. For example, if a feeling of anger arises, Emptiness says it’s just anger arising – there’s no “me” who’s feeling the anger, no “me” to whom the anger belongs. It’s just anger arising in this bodymind. Linguistically we attach to the feeling by thinking “I’m angry” but in fact there is no “I” who is experiencing the anger. It is the accumulation of endless thoughts of “My this” or “My that” which creates our false sense of self. But there actually is no self. Everything and everyone is empty of self. This is Emptiness. This is totally different from how we’ve been conditioned. This is the source of freedom.

    • Barrie Davenport says:

      Beautifully stated Lynn. Getting to that place of emptiness takes practice. And getting to the place where unpleasant emotions don’t automatically arise from thoughts takes even more practice. But it is so worth the effort! Thank you.

      • Lynn, I respect your ability to let go, but this ignores the immense suffering in the world. As a recent article stated:

        “Even if you achieve a blissful acceptance of the illusory nature of your self, this perspective may not transform you into a saintly bodhisattva, brimming with love and compassion for all other creatures. Far from it—and this is where the distance between certain humanistic values and Buddhism becomes most apparent. To someone who sees himself and others as unreal, human suffering and death may appear laughably trivial. ”

        http://www.slate.com/articles/arts/culturebox/2003/02/buddhist_retreat.html

        I have to agree with him. Accepting that suffering — possibly because you are in a position to — only ignores others who, because of the level of their suffering or the strength of their mind, cannot deal with that suffering. Knowing that I could be that person makes acceptance of suffering seem not empathetic.

        More specifically, letting go of all things outer neglects others who need us to fight for them. Some of this fight requires some sense of “my.” In fact, in some cases powerful interests are aligned to take from those who do not have power. Some have noted that not understanding that respond to change one’s fate and reduce suffering is the actual source of power among those who have such understanding (see bottom of page 6, “influences on consciousness and perception,” here->www.mpow.org/elisheva_sadan_empowerment_spreads_chapter1.pdf)

        One must pursue why suffering arises and address it it. Sometimes, this involves a personal struggle. Other times, it involves something greater that requires getting together with others who suffer similarly and figuring out a larger solution. Even if one isn’t successful in either situation, it is the struggle against suffering that is one’s most noble pursuit in life. It’s what makes us human.

        • Oops, a sentence up there is garbled. “Some have noted that refusing to understand that one must respond to those that make us suffer is the actual source of power among those who have such understanding.”

        • I feel that I have to write my thoughts here on this. I understand your feeling of empathy Chris, and the idea that being passive will not help those who are suffering, but I’d like to submit to you a different perspective:

          It is being proven in quantum physics that everything ultimately can be broken down into pure energy, and that this energy is therefore intertwined into one connected field of energy. Why this came to be or how it was created as such is not important, and even though I choose to believe that it is God that created this energy that is in us and is connecting us is only my opinion. The important part lies in the fact that spiritual beliefs and science are merging in the belief that we really are all connected. If we are all connected by a universal consciousness, then how do we know that the ultimate help to the world is not the act of becoming perfectly peaceful with all that is, without resistance? How do we know that by enough of us raising our individual consciousness to a level of pure peace, that we cannot affect the entire world’s consciousness? Mother Teresa said this: “I was once asked why I don’t participate in anti-war demonstrations. I said that I will never do that, but as soon as you have a pro-peace rally, I’ll be there.” My point in bringing this up is that if it is the suffering and injustice we focus on, we only bring more attention to it. If we shift our focus from needing to end suffering to a focus of creating more peace, personally I can feel a huge shift in my feelings because of it. If we are indeed all connected in consciousness, then it is that much more important that we have an outlook of “creating peace” rather than of “ending suffering”.

          If we are all connected, then the very pursuance of why suffering arises can in itself create more of a suffering mindset if we are focusing on the suffering itself and feeling that bad feeling of “Why is this happening to people”. Please don’t get me wrong, there are many people who have the intent of creating peace who are doing wonderful things for people and the Earth, and I am not at all against this, but rather am completely for it. However, I am submitting the idea that for all we cannot understand in this vast universe, for all we do not understand at the quantum level, all we do not understand at the level of the one universal consciousness, we really cannot be certain if one way or the other is “better” or “more effective”. When trying to create peace on Earth, it may be as effective or more effective to focus on ourselves first and make sure we are completely in a place of peace and love than to jump in the world wanting to fight suffering.

          My main point here is that we just be careful in what we are focused on, because our powerful minds send out those thoughts, feelings, and emotions into the world. I am not trying to say one of these ways is clearly better, in fact I’m trying to say that we cannot know which way is better. Maybe the most important thing we can all do, in my opinion, if we want to strive for peace in this world, is to be still, be at peace, and from that point, follow your heart. If your heart tells you to take some form of action to create more peace, follow it. If your heart tells you that you have a deep connection with the universal consciousness, and that you can be of most help by being in a certain deep mental state, follow it. From a heart filled with peace and love, the actions you take can only help.

          Thanks for listening,
          Paul

  2. Hi Barrie,

    What a great list of 20 of the most life-altering concepts you have ever embraced! Many of the ideas here have had an impact on me as well.

    3. Letting the Future Unfold

    I am a planner. I won’t say I am that detailed oriented. I just do what I need to do and let events unfold as they should. Indeed once I have done my part, the future has a way of taking care of itself. More importantly, it is likelier to turn out the way I want.

    8. Focus on the Task at Hand

    I always believed in focusing on the task at hand to get the job done. Instead of trying to do too many things at once, it is truly more productive to clear away all distractions and to give your all to one single task. When you devote 100%, the results are also likely to be 100% or more. At the very least, there will be minimal mistakes so you don’t have to waste time redoing things.

    Thank you for sharing this lovely article! 🙂

    Irving the Vizier

    • Barrie Davenport says:

      Hi Irving,
      I like your approach — plan what you can and then let go. That’s really all we can do. 🙂

  3. Barrie,
    As always my mouth is open in amazement as you share with us the most profound advice and knowledge. When reading your posts I feel a certain humility thats hidden in the writing of your articles.

    Thanks and the best of luck

    • Barrie Davenport says:

      Oh my Pinny — thank you so much. I hope there is some humility shining through. I am seeking just like everyone else. If my insights help someone else, it is a blessing for me. 🙂

  4. Thank you for this amazing list. I agree with everything and I imagine I have heard it all before, somewhere, but what a wonderful reminder. I am looking forward to taking the time to check out all of the links that go with it. Thanks for the work you have done in creating this list!

    • Barrie Davenport says:

      Hi Wendy,
      You are so welcome. You are right — these are well-known ideas. But they are the concepts that I’ve finally been able to apply in my life. Sometimes it takes hearing them many times before they resonate. 🙂

  5. Nicola Menage says:

    Thanks Bruce for an inspiring article to land in my inbox. It took me several years to manage to grasp the principles of Eckhart Tolle, The Power of Now. Once we live in the Now life becomes simpler, richer and more rewarding. I find I get more done and more focused.
    I am also a big fan of Shakti Gawain and Bryon Katie and use all three authors work to help move my clients to make important fundamental changes.
    You asked for examples of the concepts or life lessons that have changed our life for the better, I would like to share with you my experience of Being Single Again in the Second Half of Life. Focusing on how to embrace the darkness. ahttp://nicolamenage.wordpress.com/2011/12/11/single-again-in-the-second-half-of-life
    Many thanks and a Happy New Year.
    Best regards
    Nicola Ménage
    Motivational Hypnotherapist

    • Barrie Davenport says:

      Hi Nicola,
      You are so welcome. Eckhart Tolle is one to read over and over again. Every time I learn something new and understand a concept more clearly. Thank you for sharing your article. I look forward to reading it!

  6. Alex, this is THE BEST article I have read of yours since starting to follow your blog! Thank you so much. The “fearing nothing/nothing to fear” and the “happiness is a choice” are the parts I have found most empowering in my own life.

    • Barrie Davenport says:

      Hi Rose,
      I guess I should thank Alex for passing on my article — but this isn’t Alex’s blog! Thank you for the kind comments. I love the title of your post. 🙂

  7. Thank you for guiding us to the world’s best teachers on each concept. I love all of your concepts. The one that impacted my life the most is time spent meditating. I find that early in the morning, when all is quiet and nothing or no one vies for my attention, I can hear my inner spirit which dispels untruths and helps guides me toward my highest life. I truly believe that self love is the key to joy and I found it through mediation. We are all so wonderfully created in love that I wanted to ensure we remembered it.

    • Barrie Davenport says:

      Hi Cris,
      Meditating is a wonderful tool for getting in touch with all of these concepts — especially living in the present moment. Nothing draws us into the present like going within and emptying your mind. 🙂

  8. Thank you Barrie for such a wonderful, thorough list and to all who share comments. I like what you add, too, about humility, working on this every day too. One concept that’s really helped me when I feel awkward is “assuming rapport.” I learned this from Henrik, author of the Positivity Blog, and it helps me when meeting people, acting as if I’m making a friend and having some curiosity and concern, trying to practice open-mindedness. And I’m constantly surprised at how well these interactions go, or what I learn, and if something doesn’t go so well, accepting the outcome.

    • Barrie Davenport says:

      Hi Garrett,
      I love that — “assuming rapport.” I haven’t heard that before, but it is a great way to approach any relationship. Assume that you have a connection to the person and you will be more authentic and engaged. What a great concept.

  9. The concept of “reincarnation” helped me tremendously. I grew up in a religion which does not acknowledge the concept at all. A priest who was about to leave the Church introduced me to the possibility that it was the Church herself who put the kibbosh on the concept, which is generally accepted in the Middle Eastern traditions from whence Christianity sprang. At the time, the thought that I didn’t have to “get it all right” in one lifetime allowed me the opportunity to go exploring…because if I didn’t have to get it right this time, there was some wiggle room for alternate beliefs and learning. What a life-changing concept!!!

    I have sinced moved forward through the concept of reincarnation, because now it seems to me that all of time exists at once (Now) and all of “us” are really One. Tough to reincarnate as different “selves” in different “times” if there is only One, and only Now!

    Is that a quantum leap, or what? LOL!

    Also wanted to say thank you for this post. The very concept of enumerating the Top 20 Life-Altering Concepts (in the over-used parlance, “paradigm-shifts”) is mind-boggling. It bespeaks a self-awareness that is itself Life-Altering!!!

    Barrie, every time I think you’ve outdone yourself and blown me away for the last time, you do it again! You are Human Dynamite and I Love You!

    Meg

    • Barrie Davenport says:

      Dear Meg,
      Your kind words have made my day! Thank you so very much. I agree that the idea of reincarnation was quashed by the early Christians. If people believed they had another chance to get things right, then the Church wouldn’t have the power and control to scare people into obedience. But I love the “quantum shift” you’ve made in your search. If “now” is everything, we don’t need to worry about the afterlife!

  10. Thanks Barrie. Inspiring stuff. Wow, How do you do it?! I’ll have to bookmark this, because I need to come back to add some of your recommendations to my reading list. Personally, I have been hit over the head with a few of your points as well, and here are two more that stand out for me:

    The incredible power of the imagination: About 8 years ago my flatmate at university gave me a printout of her lecture notes from her sports science class. It says “In every battle between the will power and the imagination, it is always the imagination that wins. So always imagine you can do something and, if you imagine it with enough intensity, you will be able to do it. You will be able to do anything,” It goes on to say how if you try to walk along a plank that is lying on the ground, you will have no problem staying on. If however, the plank were balanced high up between two houses, your imagination would start to focus on all the things that could make you fall: a strong wind, etc. and there is no way you would be able to cross. There are people that can walk on a tight rope, or even ride a bike on one, but they don’t do this with will power. It is all achieved with the imagination. (I translated from the Spanish and summarized a lot, but that’s the gist of it.) I love this printout. I highlighted some of the sentences and I still like to have it near me to remind myself every now and again of an easier way to do things.

    The other thing I was hit with was the incredible power of the subconscious mind. About 12 years ago, I stumbled across a second hand copy of “The Power of Your Subconscious Mind” by Joseph Murphy and I was blown away by the beautiful simplicity of his teachings. I’ve had this book by my bedside ever since and I often dip in before bedtime. Basically, it’s a mixture of affirmations and using the imagination (as in the previous point). A simple but hugely effective trick he teaches is to lie in bed last thing at night before you go to sleep and imagine in great detail the thing you want to happen. Now, lots of cleverer people than me will criticize the science behind this, but the fact is that it’s a very pleasant way to drift off to sleep and things have got better and better for me since I learnt this trick. In just the last year, when I finally allowed myself to start really dreaming, I’ve easily and effortlessly found more writing work than I know what to do with. (I’d even go as far as to say the writing work has found me -it’s been that effortless). Truly mindblowing. Try it! (Actually I’m sure you have done, as it’s similar to Shakti Gawain’s teachings that I came across a lot later on). The same point is made in Susan Jeffers’ “Feel the Fear and Do it Anyway” when she talks about the arm experiment, if you know what I mean.

    Scuse the long waffly post. You got me on a subject very close to my heart. Really enjoyed this post! Thank you xx

    • Barrie Davenport says:

      Hi Louisa,
      Thank you so much for sharing your wonderful insights and discoveries. I think both imagination and visualization (which are really one in the same!) are amazing tools for the creative process. That’s one of the great things I learned in the book The Brain That Changes Itself — visualization can reinforce the brain’s efforts at whatever we are doing. That’s why athletes visualize themselves succeeding. There is science behind it. How exciting.

      • You are right, Barrie, they are one and the same thing! As I wrote this post I could feel myself going round in circles but I was too tired to think straight, and because I love the topic I was too excited to let it go, so I hit post anyway!

        My two points should have been:

        1) Imagination (or visualization)
        2) Affirmations

        Both of these things are simple but incredibly effective, and discovering them has been life-altering for me.

        There: a simple answer. Much better!

  11. Paige | simple mindfulness says:

    Barrie, I LOVE this list! A big one that I would like to add is taking personal responsibility. For years I thought I understood this but really didn’t. I didn’t want to admit it but I did a lot of blaming. At a very low point in my life when I felt that nothing I did was working (I used to be a control freak too), I felt like I gave up. In hindsite I realized that I didn’t give up, I just decided to accept everything and everyone the way they were. I let my feelings be known and accepted whatever came next. Now I take full responsibility for my actions and my circumstances. When things aren’t the way I would like them to be, I look at how I got myself into the situation and how I can get myself out. I apologize more. I feel more open and compassionate of others. Things are easier and I’m a lot happier. While this was one of those “years in the making” changes, it seems to happen in a moment. The book I was reading at the time was Conscious Living by Gay Hendricks. I had read it years before and wasn’t ready for the message. The second time I really got it.

    Thank you for reminding me to keep all the other lessons an active part of my life!

    • Barrie Davenport says:

      Yes Paige! That’s a huge one, and I should have included it in the list. Once we accept full responsibility for our lives, then we gain tremendous freedom. And we become much more attractive people. Thank you for the reminder. 🙂

  12. Reminds me of Werner. Very est-ish. I got one for you, how about let it all hang out. Instead of bottling up or hiding what’s going on with you, be radically honest about yourself and with yourself. Find out just how nutty, sincere, funny, awful, wonderful, hating, loving you really are.

    One more thing, I love the compilation of the teachers’ advice boiled down, although I’m sure they are all worth modeling. The creme-de-la-creme. Ooooh la la.

    • Barrie Davenport says:

      Hi Josh,
      I think that raw honesty goes hand-in-hand with Paige’s comments above about personal responsibility. Until we are real about who we are and our own contribution to our circumstances, we fumbling around in the dark!

  13. A number of the concepts you listed I learned about in my recovery program. We learned 1 day at a time (live in the now). We’re told bring the body and the mind will follow (do something). Fear is false evidence appearing real (we project most of our fears). Outside of that, something that changed me profoundly was a poem I came across. A line in it said “so you plant your own garden, and you decorate your own soul instead of waiting for someone else to bring you flowers.” I was in a destructive relationship at the time. I realized I had to stop trying to get from him what he couldn’t/wouldn’t give me. I made the decision that I was going to learn how to take care of myself and how to be happy being on my own. It was tough; it was scary but it made all the difference. I ended the relationship and moved on to better things.

    • Barrie Davenport says:

      Suzie,
      I think recovery programs must be great portals to self-discovery. These truths have so many healing applications. 🙂
      I love the line of poetry you quoted — it goes perfectly with my theme of “blooming” here on my blog!

  14. Hi Barrie,
    A terrific list. No 1 is a powerful one for me and one which I live by. There are many others here which are also powerful for me however I struggle to fully understand No 6 & 16. I believe that ‘choice’ is at the root of everything including Happiness & our thoughts…..we think a lot of stuff, choose the best bits that will make you grow. Thankyou
    be good to yourself
    David

    • Barrie Davenport says:

      Hi David,
      Choice is a huge part of it. But some people are genetically predisposed to feeling happier than others. And life circumstances that are out of your control can impact happiness. But we can control a big chunk of our happiness levels. The book I recommend is really interesting — the author has spent her career researching happiness. Interesting stuff. People who get stuck in negative thinking patterns really have to “retrain” their brains to think differently. It’s a bad habit that forms and must be unlearned. But it sounds like you don’t have that bad habit! Good for you David. 🙂

  15. I’ve found this list helpful, but certain things contradict one another. If you let go, and acknowledge that you are not in control, then you can’t “create” courage or really anything else. You respond with inner freedom and acceptance. So trying to follow this as a checklist will make you sort of schizophrenic. Just my take on it….
    Also, I think that the growing problem with spirituality/psychology today is that we take bits and pieces from each religion or psychology and while I support all religions, they are some obvious contradictions in some of them which cause a problem when you try to practice buffet spirituality. If you are a Buddhist, be a Buddhist, if you’re Christian, be Christian….delve deeper into your own tradition or one that appeals to you and stick with that…

    I also have to just say the law of attraction has done more damage to people than good and the way it is presented today is totally contradictory to all the major religions. It has been twisted around in a way that appeals to your ego. So, just be careful of that.

    • Barrie Davenport says:

      Hi Steve,
      I agree — there are contradictions in all religions, philosophies, and self-help methods. But I disagree that you shouldn’t pick and choose.After years of seeking “The Truth,” I’ve accepted a more practical approach to living. I use what works for me, what helps me live life to the fullest and approach difficulties with the least amount of pain. We are all on our own journey, and the path is different for everyone. 🙂

  16. Hi Barrie,
    Thank you for sharing this wonderful list.
    After reading Steve’s comment , I would like to share that I practice each concept in my life; they might seem to contradict in words, but not in feeling. For instance, I practice unfolding in my life, but within unfolding I may certainly create anything (as it is meant to be created). Perhaps when we process all of this from our minds, it sounds illogical, but when you practice from your heart it is in flow and with alignment.

    • Barrie Davenport says:

      That’s a beautiful way to put it Joy. I know just what you mean. It is possible to “create within unfoldment.”

  17. Jeffrey Willius says:

    Hi Barrie — A wonderful list, well articulated! While it’s implicit in several of the other tips, may I suggest that patience might merit a place on the list (as it affects the application of all the others).

    • Barrie Davenport says:

      Yes, patience and practice Jeffrey! It is often a two step forward, one step back process. But we learn from all of it. 🙂

  18. Thanks Barrie for your powerful and spiritual concepts/philosophies. They seem to guide our actions away from self” to extend outwardly is to see the real gifts in life. There is no greater gift for a person than -freedom from the bondage of self..

    • Barrie Davenport says:

      Yes, freedom from the bondage of the ego and attachments — that removes suffering and opens us to joy. Why is it do darned hard?!!

  19. Hi Barrie,

    I had a life changing event four years ago when I got sick and and couldn’t go to work for six months.
    I remember sitting at home thinking ‘will I ever be well again.’

    During those six months my perspective on life changed. I vowed that when I got better I would live each moment to the fullest. I would never take my health for granted and would be grateful for all the good things in my life.

    I have learned to make friends with that moment in my life as it taught me so much, even to the extent that I am thankful for it.

    In addition, I made a promise to myself that I would embark upon any new challenge that came my way and would even set up challenges for myself to overcome.

    As a consequence I recently left teaching and have set up my own life coaching business. The challenge is awesome and I am loving every moment of it.

    Thank you for giving me the opportunity to share this with you.

    Jason

    • Barrie Davenport says:

      What a wonderful story Jason. Thank you so much for sharing it. Sometimes it takes a big life event like an illness to help us see the beauty in living. Congratulations on the new direction in your life. I’m sure you will use your experiences to become an amazing coach!

  20. I copied your list and will take the time daily (I’ll do my best with this) to review. I am currently working on numbers 4 & 5 by purging my home, especially my books, which I am selling through Amazon. I am getting better with 1-3 (present moment/reality/future), and I need to seriously work on 8 & 9-I found out yesterday I made a major mistake with a task, and realized that it was due to “mult-tasking”. The biggest issue with me is with the “pleasing addiction”. I really need to find a PA group somewhere (LOL). In all of these areas I feel that I am better than I was yesterday and will always be a work in progress!

  21. Hi Barrie,
    Most of the facts you raise in this post are the same ones many people struggle with. Some do so because they may not be knowing that there is a chance of doing things differently and having a more fulfilling life or they are just scared by the fact that they can do things differently and look different or offend others. Personally I have had decisive moments with many of them and as you rightly point out sometimes it takes time to appreciate the full impact of such changes. Just to mention a few of them: #5 Let go of attachments. It was a liberating moment when I realized that past events must not in any way blind me in appreciating the now moment. This included the things I felt I did wrong and found it hard to let go. I would agonize on how I should have done it differently to the point of being quite miserable. Things changed when I read ‘You’ll See It When You Believe It.’ by Dr. Wayne Dyer. #8 Focus on the task at hand. This has been a personal war that only recently I feel to be winning a few battles. I would try to focus on many issues at the same time that I would end up loosing focus on every thing. To do this I have had to unsubscribe e-mail listing from all sites and blogs that I felt were not vital to my goals and purpose. This has allowed a small inbox that has relevant and focused communication in tandem with what I am working on. Another big one is #12. The day it dawned on me that I don’t have to please all the people all the time, it was like ‘scales falling off my eyes.’ From then onwards, my living principle has been; So long as it is legal, ‘live and let live.’ It has served me well and the freedom that goes with it can only be felt and not explained. Finally, #14, It’s never too late. My appreciation of time changed the day I read, ‘The Paradox Of Healing.’ by Dr.Michael Greenwood and Dr. Peter Nunn. From then I stopped seeing life like one long race where we are aware of the length of time still remaining before we tip over at the edge. The more the end appears to be close, the more fretful and frightened we would become and regrets about the past mount. Now everyday is essentially a new beginning even if I still have yesterday’s work (in line with my purpose) carried forward to today. Also reading encouraging stories of people who ‘made’ it late in life help me cope. An example is Colonel Harland Sanders, the founder of Kentucky Fried Chicken. Others are those who have found their purpose ‘late’ like you. I could go on but this will suffice to let you know that your post is relevant to many people. Thanks for coming up with it. it helped me revisit my values and redetermine to live a bold and full life.
    Kwaheri, Murigi

  22. Awesomeness!!!