Sitting For Ideas

Can you imagine finding a quiet comfortable place to sit, then closing your eyes and peacefully waiting for marvelous ideas to arrive inside your mind? Ideas that would improve your life, offer you specific direction and help you to navigate the world.

There is such a place and it’s inside of every one of us.

One of my favorite mentors is Napoleon Hill. I’ve written about him before and probably mentioned that, when he was a cub reporter, he was given the opportunity to interview Andrew Carnegie, who was one of the wealthiest men in the world.

Carnegie took a liking to Napoleon and extended to him introductions to many of the most successful people in business, finance, and the scientific world. Napoleon would spend his next ten years assembling their best ideas and placing them in his book, Think Big and Grow Rich, which is still one of the top ten best-selling self-help books ever published.

Elmer Gates was one of Napoleon’s interviews. Elmer was a prolific inventor and at the turn of the 20th Century owned the largest private laboratory in the world. Napoleon was curious to know where all his ideas came from. When he arrived at Elmer’s office, the secretary asked him to take a seat and told him it might be a while, because Mr. Gates was ‘sitting for ideas’.

Eventually Elmer came out to meet Napoleon and invited him into his office and explained about his delay. He told Napoleon that when confronted with a problem or seeking a solution for a workable invention, he would ‘sit for ideas’. By this he meant that he would enter a darkened room which had only a desk, a chair, a pencil, a pad, and a flashlight. Without distractions, he would sit and wait for ideas, and when something came to him, he would write it down, then go back to sitting until the next idea came. Elmer told Napoleon that this was how he was able to discover answers and solutions that had evaded his busy waking mind.

Given Elmer Gates enormous success it makes me wonder what I can gain from this strategy.

I’m not immediately drawn to the darkened room approach, and you may not be either, but I feel there is something of significant value here.

Perhaps it is that, releasing distractions, creating a peaceful open environment, and embracing an attitude of expectation are key components to success.

I have little doubt that each of us would be well served by distancing ourselves, for even short periods of time, from life’s distractions. Shifting our environment, whether that is a darkened room, a long hot shower, a walk in nature or a meditation period, would give us time and space that could be greatly beneficial.

For me, there are many mornings when I wake up filled with thoughts and ideas. So many, that I have to begin writing them down the moment they come to me. That’s why there are pads all over my house, so that none of my ideas escape. I refer to this process as my overnight download.

I don’t know where the ideas come from. I could speculate, but what feels important to me is their arrival, not their source.

Elmer Gates is not the only person to take advantage of seeing beyond the observable world. Michelangelo said that every block of stone has a masterpiece inside of it and that the job of the sculptor is to let it out.

I believe that in order to find the masterpiece living inside of each of us we need to open ourselves to a truth. A truth that we are a part of the divine, whole and holy. A truth that every answer exists within us, and it is our task to set it free. Believing this and expecting to discover our answers is the gateway to all ideas becoming real.

Heart on Fire

What sets your heart on fire? If you stopped right now and made a list, how many things would be on it?

Maybe you have a list already, one that’s blazing inside of you. I’d love to hear about it. I find that when someone shares the dreams that light them up, it inspires me. I catch a part of their glow and feel brighter and there is a desire in me to reach beyond where I am. To reach higher and wider than I have before.

I am constantly watching and waiting in expectation for ideas that will give new dimension to my world.

I came across one recently. I listened to an audiobook by Marie Forleo, titled Everything Is Figureoutable. She is a wonderfully dynamic person who has an incredibly simple and effective strategy for solving life situations. I strongly encourage anyone interested, to check out the link I’ve provided about her at the bottom of this post.

Here’s one of the ideas she suggested. It a simple exercise but if you allow it, it has profound ramifications.

You write down this statement and then complete it with your own personal answer, “Wouldn’t it be cool if…”.

I think this is so important that I’ve decided to do the exercise once a month. It appeals to me not only because it is fun, but because it encourages me to explore grand possibilities. Each time I do it, I open to a sense of adventure and excitement and write down my biggest dreams.

So, if you took a few minutes, what would you write down? What do you think would be cool to experience in your life?

I find it works best if you release all the normal limitations we place on our dreams. Just go for it and write down everything you feel like putting out into the universe.

My answers are outlandish now. At first, they were somewhat contained, but I asked myself, ‘why are you restricting yourself’? So, take it from me, let go and write everything that comes to you.

Would it help if I gave you a few of my answers?

If you said ‘no’ then skip to the next paragraph, but if you said ‘yes’, keep reading. Wouldn’t it be cool if…I could share my thoughts, dreams and revelations with people across the world, wouldn’t it be cool…if I could fly, if I could visit Bali, if I could talk with anyone I wanted (now or from any time), if I could see like a hawk, if I could walk the Appalachian Trail, if I could sponsor children to a better life, if I could create amazing art, if I could write something that would brighten someone’s life, if I could dream every night in color, if I could see the aurora borealis from my backyard.

The list of things I can dream is endless and they are not all beyond my reach. That’s part of the benefit and joy of doing this. They trigger something in me that feels real and that creates joy inside me.

So, what do you want to experience in your life?

Here’s something to keep in mind as ideas come to you. Write them down without hesitation. Save the second guessing and analysis for later. This is a brainstorming exercise, so just let go and get carried away.

In case you are wondering, the answer is ‘yes’, some of the ideas I write down inspire me so much that they become real. I invest time, money, and attention in them. I don’t allow myself to get caught up in any kind of restrictive logical thinking which prevents action. I set that thinking aside and instead of asking myself ‘how CAN I do this’, I ask myself, how WILL I do this? The word ‘can’ often stops me, but the word ‘will’ offers me power and I use it to create solutions and bring my ideas to life.

So, wouldn’t it be cool if…

Here’s the link to learn more about Marie Forleo.

http://www.marieforleo.com/2016/05/everything-is-figureoutable/

What Writing My Own Obit Taught Me

Have you ever wondered about the marvelous truths that could be revealed by one simple act of writing? In this case, I’m talking about writing your own obituary notice.

Okay, let me explain.

I know this may sound a little crazy and you needn’t be concerned because, in order to write your own obit, you have to be alive, so all is well. What I want to share with you is that this can be an incredible celebratory experience, quite the contrary to what you might be imagining.

I’ll start at the beginning.

Several years ago, I attended a workshop at the Kripalu Center in Lenox, Massachusetts. Our class was given a number of challenging writing assignments. Writing your own obit was not one of them, but the material we covered generated a spark that led me to consider the idea.

I didn’t do it right away. It felt too threatening somehow, so I filed it for later consideration. But like so many things in life that beg for attention, it wouldn’t sit still. So, after a few weeks of trying to ignore it, I gave in.

Because of what I discovered, I’m very glad that I did.

Many things became clearer to me about my life. The first one is that many obits focus on how a person died rather than how they lived. It isn’t as important to me how I leave this world, but I care deeply about how I live while I am here, and I would want others to know something about me. Writing gave me a chance to do a life review and choose some meaningful events and I had an absolutely wonderful time sorting through my memories and soaking up the joy.

Several obits I encountered concentrated on lengthy lists of milestones and life achievements. I wondered; did this truly give value to the person’s life?

What I decided to write about were all the moments of celebration that occurred during my life. The events that gave my life deep meaning and connected me with others. I realized I had lots of my own milestones and a host of noteworthy accomplishments, but they all paled in comparison with the simple moments of sharing with the people I held dearest.

Another aspect of most obits is the listing of relatives who either passed away before the person or who survived them. They are often shown in chronological order and seem, at least to me, somewhat perfunctory. What I decided was to list everyone who brought heart-felt meaning into my life. I wanted to acknowledge them and tell them how much they meant to me. Listing everyone was an intensely beautiful experience for me and I glowed for weeks thinking about so many things we’d shared.

This self-assigned task also provided me with another shift in focus. I noticed a tendency to consider that a life could be defined by a list of the things a person accumulates during their earthly existence. A house, cars, artwork, seasonal property, bank and brokerage accounts, jewelry, titles, memberships. When I started thinking about this, I gravitated to the exceptional opportunities I encountered in my life that led me to deep spiritual connections with others. It became an adventure in cherishing experiences and releasing my attachment to things.

I also realized that the purpose of the money I earned or was given was that it allowed me to trade it for the value of worldly experiences, especially when others were involved. Others who at first were acquaintances, then friends, then kin to me (those I loved the most).

I found this writing exercise to be life changing because it allowed me to alter my perspective and see life as one continual celebration of events.

I wonder, if you chose to accept this assignment, if you would find that true as well.