- Thoughts for inspired living

November 14, 2008


Filed under: John Morgan's Blog — John Morgan @ 7:49 am

I was musing on happiness last night and The Grasshopper had this to say:

“If happiness were a town, it would be filled with transients.”

Happiness is marketed to us as though it is a place. It’s not. It’s a state of mind.

Have you ever noticed that happiness, by and large, is dependent on something happening for you to be happy? That alone should tell you something about how we’ve been conditioned.

Look at advertising. Much of it will focus on your dissatisfaction or unhappiness with something, and then provide the product or service that promises perpetual happiness. We then go looking for the transportation to take us to this mystical place and wind up on a roller coaster ride.

I want to recognize happiness when it shows up at my door and enjoy it for as long as the visit lasts. I don’t expect it to be a permanent houseguest. That expectation alone causes unhappiness.

I believe it’s prudent for us to keep our happiness filter clean. That means to condition ourselves to be able to see the opportunities for happiness. I’m sure you know people who have their filters so clogged by being miserable, that they miss seeing potential happy moments. They also suffer from the illusion that happiness is a place. Their misery stems from believing they’ll never get there; yours comes from believing you will.

As long as you believe happiness is a place to get to, you will chase the horizon.

There is a perspective worth adopting that is helpful to those who continually expect the unrealistic: Seek excellence instead of perfection.

The new angle of view for those looking to live in “Happy” (Population Zero) is: Seek peacefulness and you’ll naturally recognize more happiness.

All the best,


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November 13, 2008


Filed under: John Morgan's Blog — John Morgan @ 8:50 am

Did you ever notice that Americans are the Kings and Queens of nicknames? I haven’t lived in other countries, but I can’t imagine anyone does this name shortening process any more than we do.

Jessica becomes “Jess.” Christopher or Christine becomes “Chris.” In the world of sports, basketball stars Allen Iverson and Dwyane Wade become known as “AI” and “D-Wade” respectively.

Automatic Teller Machines automatically became ATMs. Individual Retirement Accounts became IRAs (although with the amount they’ve gone down recently, maybe they should be shortened to just plain “I.”). The list of truncating names is endless.

Yesterday, I promised I would offer you a strategy for interrupting and outgrowing patterns that I have found very helpful. It involves shortening.

Let’s pretend that you begin to notice a pattern of thought or a behavior you have that isn’t working for you. You have often heard me say you can interrupt that pattern, while it is happening, just by noticing it. The noticing awareness acts as a wedge between the stimulus and response. The wedge creates a space for a new strategy to enter your awareness rather than the repeated one that isn’t working. For this interruption strategy to be effective, it has to be repeated until it also becomes automated.

You could notice and interrupt by unemotionally and specifically stating the facts. “I’m noticing that I’m having unsettling thoughts about my IRA going down again.” “I’m noticing that I’m having repeated thoughts about being the next job cut in my company’s downsizing.” “I’m noticing I’m having the ‘fat slob’ conversation about myself in my head.” “I’m noticing I am arguing for my limitations.” “I’m noticing I’m ending my sentences with a preposition.” You get the idea.

What I have found is that instead of stating the entire case, you can just shorten it to a generic trigger word or phrase. NLP people will recognize this method as anchoring. Eastern aficionados would call this word or sound a mantra. I have come to find out that all the detail isn’t necessary when noticing.

I have come up with two, two word phrases that have been very helpful to me in interrupting undesirable patterned thinking or behavior. They are “Patterned Thinking” and “Patterned Behavior.”

Anytime I notice myself in an unproductive thought loop, I interrupt by saying “Patterned Thinking.” It’s a generic, shorthand interrupter of that thought pattern. If I notice myself running a behavior that isn’t contributing to my well being, I interrupt by saying “Patterned Behavior.”

The more often you notice and interrupt an unwanted thought or behavior, while it is happening, the less often it comes around. This practice adds to your peace of mind and creates new options for you to consider and act on.

Efficiency experts are always seeking the fewest number of steps to accomplish a goal without losing quality in the process. This shortening process works for me and I trust it will work for you too. It takes some repetition for you to notice how effective this strategy is.

Who knows, maybe in a future blog I’ll have it shortened down to “PT” and “PB.”

All the best,


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November 12, 2008


Filed under: John Morgan's Blog — John Morgan @ 8:22 am

According to a “tell” is any habit, behavior, or physical reaction that gives other players more information about your hand. There are countless “tells” outside of poker that are interesting to know about and give clues to underlying beliefs.

Here are a few that I’ve noticed over the years:

The person who frequents “all you can eat buffets” or loads their plate to the hilt (Thanksgiving excluded) has an underlying belief that there isn’t enough to go around. They have an underlying belief in scarcity and lack.

A person who constantly displays visible rigidity in their face and body has more rules than the average bear. Everybody has rules but these folks have ones most of us haven’t even thought of yet. They tend to develop arthritis early and lean toward constrictive diseases that play havoc with their digestive organs and heart.

The person with the perpetual “shit eating grin” (think actor Jack Black) has a penchant for overindulging (food drugs, sex, alcohol, partying) and have an appetite to try everything. They tend to be talented dreamers with both feet in the clouds and every now and then have a passing notion of reality.

I’m sure you have your own list of tells. If the only objective was to find tells in other people, we would have lots of information about others and very little about ourselves.

What are your tells?

What are you advertising to other people all the time that you are totally unaware of? What pattern sits beneath the surface and causes your telling behavior?

A start is to start giving credence to what people have been telling you for your entire life that you have been ignoring under the umbrella of “they don’t know what they are talking about.” Yes they do!

For example, if multiple people suggest that you reduce or stop your alcohol consumption, it’s a pretty good bet that you are medicating and masking some pain you have yet to face and need to move through. They aren’t members of the temperance league. They have witnessed enough of your quacking behavior to recognize a duck that needs to get off the surface of the pond and dive deeper.

I’m not big into labels, but I think they are useful in this context. How have you been labeled? What labels do your family, friends, lovers and casual acquaintances have for you? Pay attention.

I will agree that labels are limiting, but what are they telling you about your patterns that are on automatic pilot that need adjusting?

There is always a pattern beneath a tell. It’s an automatic stimulus/response that has a life of its own.

So get curious today about your tells and their causative patterns. In tomorrow’s post I will offer you a new strategy for interrupting and outgrowing patterns that I have found very helpful. It’s easy to learn and you won’t have to tell anybody how you did it.

All the best,


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November 11, 2008

Rock Bottom

Filed under: John Morgan's Blog — John Morgan @ 7:54 am

I wonder if anyone has ever named one of the new, trendy housing communities “Rock Bottom?” The name would certainly be apt in these financial times.

Also, the TV analysts keep speculating when the stock market will find the bottom. “What goes up must come down” is the ancient wisdom. Hitting bottom is a strategy for change that has stood the test of time. It presents itself when you come to the realization that you are fed up with being fed up. Reminds me of a story . . .

When I conduct Weight Loss seminars, oftentimes I will ask some people to say, “I am ready to lose weight.” I will then ask the group if their answer sounded convincing. Most often the answer is “No.” I will then coach the person to say the phrase again so that it sounds and feels convincing to them. Again, I ask the group to evaluate the believability. Most often “No” turns to “Yes,” but sometimes the group answer remains “No.” That person has not hit bottom and, frankly, is not yet ready to take the necessary action.

Try one of these phrases on for size and say it aloud:

I’m fed up with being fat.

I’m tired of being scared all the time.

I can’t stand acting this way any longer.

How believable is your own answer? Don’t judge it in your head; feel it in your body. How real does your declaration feel?

Your answer will sit on an emotional continuum somewhere between “Nice to have” and “If I don’t get this I won’t be able to breathe.” The closer you are to breathless, the better your chance for success.

Much time is wasted in attempting something that you don’t have the energy for. These ventures will result in half-hearted attempts with half-hearted results. Rock bottom produces its own energy. It’s very similar to the energy “dead tired” people find at quitting time.

Rock bottom is often referred to as “the end of suffering.”

The suffering ends when you realize that your conscious will doesn’t have the requisite energy to pull off the job. You finally surrender to something bigger than your conscious will. Rock bottom is really the death of your ego (the image of yourself that you made up and got comfortable with).

As long as you are exacting your will on something you will get temporary or “Nice to have” results.

Rock bottom is often the turning point in many peoples’ lives. It’s not the only way to change, but it has the longest and most successful history.

All the best,


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November 10, 2008

The Next Step

Filed under: John Morgan's Blog — John Morgan @ 7:52 am

“Where do we go from here?” and “What’s my next step?” are useful outcome questions to ask.

They set your focus on what needs to be accomplished in order for your overall strategy to be successful.

The mindset that many of us easily get caught up in is what I call the exuberance of “eating a whole cow at once.” In our zeal, we become impatient and want to move to the next step before the current one is finished. Reminds me of a story . . .

When I was a kid, they had “Paint by Numbers” kits. It consisted of a drawing on a canvas, a couple of paint brushes and 9 plastic containers of paint. The drawing had about a hundred or so different areas and each individual area was assigned a number from 1 to 9. The objective was to paint each area with the color that corresponded to its number. 1 may have been blue, 2 red, and 3 green, etc.

The recommendation was to paint all of one color first and to let it dry. Then you were to move on to the next number and paint all those areas with that corresponding color and let it dry. The plan was simple. The implementation was complex because of the twin rascals of poor execution – impatience and boredom.

I’d be painting all the number 1’s but get bored with that color and start painting with the color that corresponded to number 7, because it was my favorite color. Then I would get bored with that one too and move on to color 3. Of course, I wouldn’t let the other colors dry first and impatiently started painting on an adjacent area and the colors would comingle and become a different color than intended.

My finished product never looked as good as my sister’s because she followed the step-by-step instructions.

Once you have an overall plan and you’ve broken it down into manageable steps, your best chance for success is to pay attention to what you are doing now. The future is always a temptation that clouds your focus and will knock you off your game.

Once you have established a step to be taken, immersion in that step is the most efficient practice. Reminds me of another story . . .

During my Neuro-linguistic Programming (NLP) training in the 80’s, co-founder John Grinder was discussing immersion in a culture as the best way to learn a language. He suggested that you would learn more quickly if you lived in a foreign country with a family that spoke nothing but the native language. Would there be frustrations? Yes. Would you learn? Yes. Would you learn more quickly? Yes. Interestingly, Rosetta Stone has incorporated that very same immersion model in to their highly successful language software.

To get there more quickly requires patience and trust. It’s necessary to fully step in to the step you are on. This immersion will lead to completion and then, and only then, will you will be ready to say, “What’s my next step?”

All the best,


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November 7, 2008

Guilty Pleasure

Filed under: John Morgan's Blog — John Morgan @ 9:49 am

“Never make the same mistake twice” is about as motivating as “I was sad because I had no shoes, until I met a man who had no feet.”

Everyone makes the same mistake thousands of times. They are the byproduct of unproductive patterns that we all own. A more effective piece of advice would be to notice your mistake while you are making it. It doesn’t guarantee that you will not make it again, but it increases the odds that you’ll update and outgrow the pattern.

Beating yourself up about your mistakes is the poorest strategy for outgrowing them. The “no feet” comment is a guilt inducer. If guilt was a motivator of change, Catholic and Jewish girls would be the most guiltless people on the planet. What is never played out in the “no feet” comment is what happens five minutes later. The person with no shoes goes back to feeling sorry for themselves.

Regarding mistakes, acknowledge them, apologize for them, pay the associated penalty and then get on with the business of outgrowing them. It begins with recognition. If you are unaware you are missing the mark, you will continue to miss with the same frequency.

Outgrowing something is noticing there is something to outgrow. The effort that’s necessary is to train yourself to notice unproductive behavior while it’s happening. Reminds me of a story I tell at my seminars . . .

Pretend a friend has asked you to watch their 6 year old after school and feed them dinner. When you arrive at her house, she instructs you that the child is not to have any cookies before dinner. So you being the diligent caretaker, count the cookies in the cookie jar in the kitchen. There are nine. The child comes home from school and you announce the “no cookies before dinner” policy. The child nods and then goes off to another room and begins to watch TV. You go about doing some of the things you brought with you to work on, like balancing your checkbook at the dining room table. Now it’s dinner time and you fix a meal for you and the 6 year old. You notice that the child just picks at the meal and hardly eats anything. They say they are just not hungry. They scoot off back to the TV room and you begin to clean up the kitchen.

But something tells you to check the cookie jar. You notice that there are now five. You immediately deduce that they didn’t have them after dinner because you’ve been cleaning up in that room since dinner ended and would have seen that happen. It dawns on you that while you were working on your checkbook, they snuck into the kitchen and took the cookies. How effective would it be to go into the TV room and berate them for eating the cookies? Not very. The behavior is over with. What would have happened if, out of the corner of your eye, you spotted them pilfering cookies before dinner and shouted out “Hey”? You would have interrupted the behavior in midstream and had a different outcome.

How helpful is it to beat yourself up after eating a pint of Ben & Jerry’s “Pumpkin Cheesecake”?

Begin to compare the effectiveness of the two competing methods offered to outgrown patterns – Guilt and Recognition.

I would feel guilty if I didn’t get you to recognize which one works better.

All the best,


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November 6, 2008


Filed under: John Morgan's Blog — John Morgan @ 9:34 am

I believe there is an unextinguished fire within the human spirit that is fueled by the search for wholeness.

We as a people are looking to complete ourselves and most of our journey is spent on the path that won’t take us there.

Examine your thoughts. Notice how many times, you entertain this scenario in your mind: “If I ruled the world.” As you play that thought out, you find that you are still left with more questions than answers. We use so much energy attempting to control our kingdom that we miss the opportunity to discover our wholeness.

We were born whole and conditioned away from that state by the forbidden fruit known as control. If you seek to control, you’ll never become whole.

Control shuts off the flow of wholeness.

It seems the purpose of all our controlling activities is to complete ourselves and return to the wholeness we arrived with. We are doing a very poor job because the fabric of everyday human life is stitched together with a dissolving thread known as control. Control eventually comes unraveled because it’s a manufactured condition that is, at best, weak. When we fall apart, we oftentimes look for stronger controls. That effort also fails.

Most people find themselves later in life looking back on a life filled with controls that never worked. This is when many discover wholeness.

The best kept secret is this: You don’t have to wait.

Wholeness is an available choice at any point in life. The only price you have to pay to get it is to give up control.

Wholeness is a feeling of certainty that everything is taken care of, or as the Buddha said, “Everything is as it should be.” We stop attempting to control reality and discover that acceptance of reality is the key to being whole. It’s from this place of wholeness that new ways of dealing with life’s dilemmas emerge that keep us from falling back to our default position of control.

If you really want to nag yourself, wait until the end of your life to find out you spent your whole life riding the wrong horse. The truth is you can change horses in midstream. You may get frightened in the process because giving up control is scary, but your reward for riding reality is you don’t have to wait until the home stretch to find wholeness.

All the best,


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November 5, 2008


Filed under: John Morgan's Blog — John Morgan @ 9:33 am

Sarcasm: A sharp and often satirical or ironic utterance designed to cut or give pain.

I think Americans witnessed something last night – the demise of sarcasm as an effective political strategy. As I watched the USA select a new President, The Grasshopper’s words came to me, “Sarcasm is a spice and not a staple of life.”

I have come to appreciate that sarcasm is a universal force of divisiveness. I have also come to notice that those who use it as a staple bring more negative energy to their interactions and appear to be an unhappy lot.

Sarcasm will never disappear from our lives, but the degree to which it lessens, broadens the landscape known as “common ground,” and lays the foundation for more optimistic, peaceful feelings.

I never want to remove sarcasm from the dictionary, but I am grateful that it has faded in my life.

All the best,


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November 4, 2008

Election Day

Filed under: John Morgan's Blog — John Morgan @ 6:42 am

Today is Election Day in the USA. If you plan to vote and are still struggling with your choice, here’s a suggestion: Check inside first before casting your vote rather than after. Notice how your body feels about your planned choice. Make sure it matches up with your mind and you will cast a congruent vote.

Quoting Carl Jung:

“Who looks outside, dreams; who looks inside, awakes.”

All the best,


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November 3, 2008


Filed under: John Morgan's Blog — John Morgan @ 9:28 am

“The highway to hell is paved with good intentions.” What happens when the stated intentions fall by the wayside? That’s when your character, or lack of it, will show.

The Grasshopper checked in on character this morning when he delivered this: “Honor is a lonely road.”

Let’s pretend your intention is to put out a drug that combats depression. Sometime after the launch you find that a noticeable percentage of users have committed suicide. If you delay a recall to wait for more evidence, you are unwilling to walk the lonely road of honor.

This isolated road requires more travelers in order for us to trust one another again.

There is a high level of suspicion in every layer of society from our neighbors to our national leaders. The only way it will dissipate will be for us to have the courage to walk the lonely path. This may have been what Lao Tzu meant when he said, “The longest journey begins with the first step.”

We can always congregate with people of good intentions – they’re everywhere! If we want to join with people of character, we have to risk walking the honorable path of honesty which currently doesn’t have too many footprints.

The cynicism that permeates our country and our world stems from a lack of character – the unwillingness to do the honorable thing, the unwillingness to be truthful, the fear of being an outcast.

People of character are not usually saints, but sinners, who have found out from experience that confession is good for the soul.

Character is not someone saying, “Look, be like me,” but rather “be more like the authentic you.” People have been conditioned to walk the path of convenience which is a circular path that keeps you bumping in to the same people and ideas that keep you mired in masking your character.

Be on the lookout for the exit ramp and find your way to the path less travelled. It’s the honorable thing to do and it builds character.

All the best,


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