GrasshopperNotes.com - Thoughts for inspired living


September 19, 2017

Weathering the Storm

Filed under: John Morgan's Blog — John Morgan @ 7:43 am

Weathering the StormThe Grasshopper had an interesting observation the other day: “Describing your entire life by how you feel at the moment is like describing your life by one weather pattern.”

We’ve all had moments when drama has taken over our life. “Woe is me, the propane tank on the grill is empty.” If we let that incident linger too long, it kidnaps our thinking and colors our entire outlook.

“Into each life some rain must fall” is a line from a Henry Wadsworth Longfellow poem. It was meant to be an observation on life, not a lifetime sentence.

Getting sucked into the drama is easy; getting out takes some recognition and practice.

Since I’m heavy on quotes today, “this too shall pass” is a mindset worth developing.

The key is to recognize you’ve slipped into drama. If you’re around other people, just notice their expressions when they look at you. “Is he/she for real?” is what you’ll interpret.

If you’re alone, just observe your circular thinking. You’re smart enough to recognize the thought the first time it comes around. But if it’s on its 33rd pass through your mind, you’re deep into drama and consumed by the storm.

What to do? Start the practice of observing your thoughts. Observe as a bystander and not as a participant. Noticing your mind at work from an outside vantage point removes you from the drama and gives you wider perspective as to where to head next. Before observation, you were trapped in an endless loop, which makes you “loopy.”

Recognizing your own drama is a catalyst towards peace of mind and the shelter necessary to weather the storm.

All the best,

John



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September 15, 2017

Achilles Heel

Filed under: John Morgan's Blog — John Morgan @ 4:20 am

Achilles HeelHere’s an excerpt from a Grasshopper Note from a decade ago on “Flashback Friday.” “Your strongest asset is your Achilles Heel.”

This seems like backwards logic. It is! Sometimes you have to look at something from a different vantage point to get a deeper meaning.

Imagine for a moment that you are one of the kindest people in the world. If you chart your kindness on a straight line on a scale from zero to one hundred, you are to the far right side of the middle. Expect to get shot in the foot if you identify with that position because your greatest strength will become your weakness.

Kindness is a wonderful trait and, like all traits, it has its limitations. How effective is it to be kind to someone who’s about to take your life? Reminds me of a story . . .

Many years ago I was reading the book JAWS 2. You know I had to be bored. The author tells a story of a young man being forced down to the ocean late at night at gunpoint. The gunman is set on murder. The hostage is thinking to himself that if I turn around real quickly, I’ll be able to knock the gun out of his hand and save my life. He never acted on that impulse. He also didn’t leave any heirs.

Suppose that you own the skill of identifying someone’s weakness or shortcoming the moment you meet them. Many would consider that to be an asset. After all, it would protect you from entering an agreement with someone who is unscrupulous. Hooray! That time it worked for you.

But let’s say you use that same skill to unflatteringly label someone. Next, you may get caught up in all the drama of what that label means to you. You would dismiss that person out of hand and never take the opportunity to go deeper with them.

Your strongest suit became your weakest because you never really explored the person. You got trapped in your labeling system. Your new best friend could be standing right in front of you and you wouldn’t recognize them because of how adept you are at spotting imperfections.

We are proficient at many things. The minute that you set your expertise in concrete, you will eventually sink to the bottom of the ocean. The secret is to recognize and honor your skill and then mentally let it go. This means not to call this skill you. It’s a part of you. Just like a hammer is part of your tool box. Who trims their prized petunias with a mallet?

Use your tool wisely and only for the job it’s suitable for. Search for the appropriate tool for each project and you become a craftsman.

Reminds me of a guy I used to work with in radio. He was a Top 40 DJ. He spoke fast and at the top of his voice. He was LOUD! He only had one delivery in his tool kit. It worked great when he did Rock & Roll concert commercials. You would laugh out loud if you heard the one he recorded for a retirement community.

If you prize your prettiness, someday it will leave you. If you identify with your possessions, you are a target.

The ancient Chinese Philosopher Lao-Tzu put it this way: “By not prizing goods hard to get, you will cause the people from robbing and stealing.”

Enjoy your skills and use them to your best advantage. Just don’t get married to them because you are destined for divorce.

Discover that you are deeper than your abilities, preferences and prejudices and you get to take a bigger, juicier bite out of the apple of life.

All the best,

John



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September 14, 2017

The Learning Zone

Filed under: John Morgan's Blog — John Morgan @ 4:46 am

Comfort ZoneWe’re all familiar with the concept of “Comfort Zone.” That’s a valuable piece of recognition because when we’re not in it, we’re in the “Learning Zone” – if we pay attention.

When you get out of your comfort zone, the initial response is to get back into it. That tactic will produce no new learning.

To learn something new, you have to get comfortable with being uncomfortable.

Learning is done out at the edge. Notice when you’re out on the edge, you pay more attention to things you would normally overlook or be oblivious to. If you’re at the edge of a cliff, notice how much more attention you give to your footing.

You learn something about yourself that you didn’t know before if you pay attention when you’re uncomfortable.

Your attention is keener at the edge and keener attention produces new learning.

Crawling back to your cave just keeps you in the dark.

I remember my hypnosis teacher Dr. Dave Dobson urging us to get closer to people we felt uncomfortable around. It pays two dividends.

1. You learn more about the other person.

2. You learn more about yourself.

If you’re done learning, stay in your comfort zone. But if you want to continue learning, spend some more time near the edge. It will keep you razor sharp for all of your days.

All the best,

John



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September 8, 2017

Ignoring the Tingle Will Cost You Jingle

Filed under: John Morgan's Blog — John Morgan @ 6:49 am

SharkI think one of the costliest sins we commit is not following our own advice and our own instincts. Such was the case with me yesterday and it cost me $3000. I won’t bore you with the details of my stupidity; just offer you what I wrote 10 years ago. I called it “Signs.”

Are you asking for a sign? My experience tells me that’s like a fish asking where the water cooler is.

Did you ever notice that you set up the framework for the sign you are asking for? You may say something like, “if this or that happens, then that will be a sign.” Again, I can only judge from my experience, but the success ratio of that strategy seems less than casino odds.

I do have experience with seeing signs – mostly after the event happens. The signs are always there; many of us just don’t see them.

The collapsed bridge usually had fissures in its framework that were discovered after the tractor trailer fell into the river. They were there before the event. My friend, Jim was a long time member of the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department. He says that you always bring something into a crime scene and leave with something from a crime scene. Clues are always present.

So the question becomes how do we spot ever present signs? Your body will tell you.

Your body is a sign Geiger counter. We just don’t pay too much attention to our bodies. We rely mainly on our thoughts. That means we stay in our head and rarely visit with our body.

Animals are in tune with their bodies. They don’t take the time to think. The 2004 deadly tsunami in the Indian Ocean had prior clues. Humans missed them; wild animals headed for high ground. They were in tune with their bodies.

How did your mother know you were lying? She sensed it in her body. There was no conversation in her head needed. She had subconsciously catalogued many experiences with you over the years and stowed away the clues. Then when a similar experience came up again, she received a certain feeling in her body that produced the word “fib” in her mind.

Culturally, we have gotten away from trusting our bodies. That’s because so much attention is given to the intellect. Our whole educational system is based on facts and figures. We have given short shrift to such an important part of our learning.

When you start paying more attention to your body, you see more signs. You don’t have to ask for them.

The two step process of seeing more is feeling more.

1. Start noticing that you have a body complete with sensations.

2. Pay attention when your “spider sense” starts to tingle and you’ll start seeing signs beforehand.

I wish I had paid attention to my own advice.

All the best,

John



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August 31, 2017

Reason for Concern

Filed under: John Morgan's Blog — John Morgan @ 5:52 am

Lion TamerThrowback Thursday has given me a reason to repost a blog I wrote 10 years ago.

‘Tis the season to use reasons . . .

This blog has nothing to do with Christmas. This is about a misperception we humans have. Reasons have a year round and life-long season. Reminds me of a story . . .

When I conduct weight loss seminars, it is shocking to see the belief that a large number of intelligent people carry around in their mind that has no basis in reality. Someone will say, “I want to change this fat into muscle.” When I probe further, they really think that fat becomes muscle. Fat is fat and muscle is muscle. One never becomes the other one. When one dissipates, the other is more visible.

Then one day The Grasshopper spoke and said,

“Reasons have nothing to do with behavior.”

That got me curious as to how often we justify behavior after the fact with a reason. It’s a basic software package that comes with the human mind. “The reason I’m flunking algebra is because the teacher doesn’t like me . . . is the toughest teacher in the city . . . all the kids are failing . . . blah, etc.” The unreasoned answer to “Why are you flunking algebra?” is “because I’m flunking algebra.” The mind will never run out of reasons. It’s a reasoning machine.

The answer to “why” is always “because.” Perhaps this fact alone will get you to form the habit of stop asking “why” questions. “Why” always gets a reason. Behavior is behavior and reasons are reasons and when one dissipates, the other is more visible.

I’ll admit it’s fun to muse as to the reason why someone did something but the answers can never be trusted. No matter how talented a lion tamer you are, never turn your back on Leo.

We act and we justify. Notice how often that people don’t agree with your reasoning for your behavior. Then they come up with their reasons and the debate goes on forever as to who has the right reason. Reasons are like pregnant cats – they are the gift that keeps on giving.

Here’s a little secret I’ve discovered. When you acknowledge your behavior without issuing a host of reasons, the other person stops reasoning as well and the pointless debate ceases.

How many public figures – politicians, actors, athletes – would end the debate and soften their fate if they stopped issuing reasons for their actions. Flip Wilson was a funny man and his popular phrase, “The devil made me do it,” is the battle cry of the reasoning process. Reasons always throw kerosene onto an already blazing fire.

Today’s blog is a message for all of us to be more mindful about our penchant to reason away reality.

All the best,

John



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August 30, 2017

Simplify Before You Die

Filed under: John Morgan's Blog — John Morgan @ 6:15 am

SimplifyHere’s a post from exactly one year ago today that warrants a second look:

As we used to say in the radio biz, “Here’s a blast from the past”: “Life Gets Simpler When You Simplify.” – Grasshopper

I believe we take too many steps to get where we want to go; we rarely take the most direct route. That may be because of a lack of knowledge, bullheadedness or something else, but each of those pathways is a detour away from a simpler life.

You won’t get your knowledge from an advertisement. They’re mainly designed to show you where you are lacking and how their product or service will fill your void.

Knowledge will come from someone who already has what you want. Find the person who has a simplified life and notice that their happiness quotient is higher than yours. Find out what they’re doing and do your version of it. That’s putting knowledge to use. That’s simplification.

Figuring it out on your own may take a lifetime and that’s just pure bullheadedness (translation, stupid). Again, there are people who have already blazed the trail. Follow in their footsteps. It’s the simplest way to simplify, and the smartest.

There is a principle of parsimony known as “Occam’s Razor” which states, “that among competing hypotheses, the one that makes the fewest assumptions should be selected.” Simplifying your life means to ignore the assumption that’s being sold to you and get sold on one that’s already working.

The simple life is not filled with conditions that need to be present for you to feel happy or peaceful. The simple life is celebrating victories wherever you find them vs. planning and scheming to have countless notches on your belt – a game of “who dies with the most?”

Simplifying means taking stock of what you’re stocking up on and finding out if the effort is worth it. My experience is that the happiest people are respectful and thankful for everyday things that the striver takes for granted and doesn’t think are enough.

There is a questioning technique that continually asks, “What will that get you?” For example, if you say, “I want a big house with acres of land,” you are asked, “What will that get you?” You may answer, “The house I’ve wanted all my life.” Again, you’ll be asked, “What will that get you?” This back and forth can go on for a while until you drill down for a deeper answer that addresses what you really want. It’s usually some form of peace of mind or a feeling of happiness.

The goal isn’t really the house; it’s the feeling you believe you’ll have if you get your desire. Simplifying just has you go directly for the feeling without the conditions. We’ve assumed that “this, that and the other” has to be in place for us to be happy or feel at peace, and that’s complicated. It’s simpler than that. The peace and happiness of a simpler life are fewer assumptions away.

Certainly go after what you want, just don’t buy into someone else’s idea of what you should have to be more peaceful and happy.

If you find yourself continually striving and not arriving, it may be a signal to take the shortcut to the simpler life – appreciating what you have. It’s a lot more peaceful with a lot less strife.

All the best,

John



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August 28, 2017

Acorns

Filed under: John Morgan's Blog — John Morgan @ 4:14 am

Cracked ACORNWith Fall approaching, I stumbled upon this little “fruit of the oak” I wrote 10 years ago.

“Not every acorn becomes a tree. The power is contained in each one, but some never root and fall by the wayside.”

I got curious about what he meant by “root.”

I got that it meant that some acorns never find the fertile soil in which to grow. They have all the requisite potential, but some wind up being a squirrel’s dinner instead of its home.

Does the unfulfilled acorn know about fertile soil? My guess is he senses it at some level, but dismisses it as some fairy tale that his acorn friends discussed when they all still lived together in the tree.

He did believe he was going to fall to earth one day because he had seen it happen to others. But when it happened for him, he got caught up in all the glitz this new environment had to offer. He never went looking for the lush loam he had heard about because that seemed too farfetched, and who wants to grow up anyway?

He went on his way rolling from one hardened surface to another in search of his earthly thrills. Then one day it happened. His shell began to crack. Maybe it was from all those narrow escapes from those pesky squirrels, or the wear and tear from rolling on hard pan and clay.

Whatever the reason, he was not as indestructible as he once thought. He intuitively knew he had to root somewhere or he would wind up like Humpty Dumpty, or worse be Bullwinkle‘s buddy’s breakfast.

Then out of nowhere, a giant storm with gale force winds blew this acorn far away from its familiar stomped grounds. Fortunately, he experienced a soft landing into something that was unfamiliar yet very comforting. This felt like home. He nestled into this new surrounding and felt sensations that eased all his fears. Could this be the loam the others had talked about?

He started to notice roots coming out of his cracked shell and digging deep into this accepting earth. “This is what they were talking about. It really exists!” he joyfully exclaimed.

This story has a happy ending. Our once confused little acorn now stands as a tall oak tree in a park where families picnic and children play. He continues to marvel at how rooted he has become and how fulfilling it feels to reach one’s potential. If he had any advice for aimless acorns, it would be this:

“Find the substance that helps you grow.”

All the best,

John



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August 24, 2017

Hole/Whole

Filed under: John Morgan's Blog — John Morgan @ 7:33 am

HoleOn Throwback Thursday, here’s a blogpost from 7 years ago that I’m grateful I found.

“You cannot be whole with a hole in your soul.”

Wholeness is a completion; having a gap in your soul leaves you feeling incomplete.

Having a hole translates to a feeling that something is missing; wholeness heals all wounds and leaves us with an unmistakable feeling that everything is taken care of.

You can’t fill the hole in your soul. It has to fill itself.

You facilitate the process when you focus on what’s here rather than what’s missing.

Anyone can be an expert on what’s missing in their life; few fully realize what they already have.

When you take the time to count your current inventory, you get a finer appreciation of what’s already in stock. It’s like finding a treasure that’s been hidden in the attic for years.

The appreciation of current inventory, gratefulness, engenders more of that feeling which leads you to wholeness.

You cannot reach wholeness when your focus is on what you don’t have.

If you’re in a ditch, no more attention need be brought to that fact. It’s an obvious circumstance that doesn’t need constant restating.

The first step towards extrication is to focus on the resources you do have.

You do have the ability to take stock every day. It’s the inventory method, as the old song says, where you count your blessings instead of sheep.

The way out of a hole is not harping on that you’re in one. That only keeps your solution out of reach.

Use your gift of focus to zero in on what you’re appreciative of, and witness your hole become whole.

All the best,

John



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August 21, 2017

Energy Revisited

Filed under: John Morgan's Blog — John Morgan @ 6:37 am

Car BatteryEight years ago today, the following showed up in an August blog post. I thought it would be an appropriate topic for a Monday. I called it “Energy.”

Are you positive or negative?

It doesn’t matter – both work.

I’m not referring to the half empty or half full mental concept of positive or negative. This is more about the energy you use to accomplish things – more like yin and yang.

Yin has been described as feminine energy and yang as masculine. We have both and use both.

Instead of arguing about which energy is superior, it’s better to notice the combination we use, and find out if it’s working to our best advantage.

There is no best side of a battery terminal. There is positive and negative, and one doesn’t work without the other. The same can be said of yin and yang energy.

Just like certain projects call for certain tools, certain situations are best served by certain energy. You are best served to have the flexibility to craft the energy combination that works best in those circumstances.

When we get stuck in one energy pattern, we stay stuck. That means we become inflexible and snap easily.

The trick is to notice our conditioned pattern isn’t working, and then summon the combination that gives us the best charge for the moment.

Now don’t get caught up in the “that’s not me” argument. That’s the argument that keeps you stuck. It’s better to notice you are all the combinations of yin and yang, not just the one you have been conditioned to prefer.

A great question to begin asking yourself is, “I wonder what energy would work best in this situation?” Don’t think your way to an answer. Just ask the question and let the energy that shows up answer it.

I realize that the first few times you attempt this practice, it will feel like working without a net. The giant upside is that you will begin to trust yourself to bring the appropriate energy to any situation.

Let your energy answer your question – not your intellect.

Letting your intellect answer is like letting the guy at the hardware store pick the color to paint your bathroom. You have a master designer at your disposal; all you have to do is summon them with a question.

Practice letting your energy answer your questions, and find that you’ll need far fewer jumpstarts in life.

All the best,

John



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August 17, 2017

Burst of Air

Filed under: John Morgan's Blog — John Morgan @ 5:05 am

Screen DoorIs it “Throwback Thursday” already? I was going over some old notes and found something I called “Burst of Air.”

Screen doors let the air in while keeping the flies out. What a cool invention.

What if you could install a screen door in your mind? It could let in the air but keep out the pesky gnats.

Criticism is a stimulus we all receive and the responses to it vary with every individual. What if you could let the criticism in and keep out the piece that causes a conditioned response? The piece to screen out is the solid meaning that we attach to the criticism.

When someone criticizes you, they are giving you an assessment based on their angle of view. We tend to take it personally but when you think about it, it’s only a burst of air. Criticism is a stimulus and whatever happens inside of you is a response.

Between the criticism and response is meaning. The diagram would look like this:

Criticism ➔ Meaning ➔ Response

Meaning is something we add automatically due to our conditioning. This automatic addition robs us of “free will.”

Free will is something that most people rarely demonstrate though they will jump up and down and claim that they have it. If someone calls you a name and you immediately retaliate with a name of your own, where was the free will in your response? It was side stepped by the lightning quick meaning that you attached to the name you were called.

So let’s pretend that someone calls you a “fuzzy bellied lint licker.” Your normal response may be to respond in kind. What would happen if you threw in the clutch, and transformed the meaning of what they said to be just a burst of air? What meaning does a burst of air have? None! It’s just a burst of air. My guess is you would have a different response to a puff of air than you would to a name you have added meaning to.

This practice is a conditioning exercise. Condition yourself to have the free will that is always available but hardly ever used.

Think of your screen door as a meaning converter. It takes something that seems solid and turns it into something that isn’t. It’s like the transformation of an ice cube to steam.

You do have a choice. You can take the automaticity out of your response and move the conversation to a more productive outcome OR you could escalate it to Hatfield & McCoy proportions. You do have a choice.

Choosing takes practice and flexibility and it’s worth it. Remember this:

The person who is more flexible has more options.

All the best,

John



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