Be Your Own Guru

20060514u-myselfonthecarneddmoelsiabodsummittrigpoint.jpgAs someone deeply devoted to personal development, I voraciously devour books, films, and podcasts on personal development and spirituality.

This focus, which has been fairly intense the last two years or so, has had a profoundly positive effect on my life.

But there is an aspect to the whole P.D. industry that worries me. There are certain people (O.K., a lot of people) who flock to so-called “gurus” in order to learn how to live their lives … step-by-step, if possible.

I’ll give you a brief example. I rarely attend live presentations, but when I do they have been very good (I am extremely selective). Last year I attended a two-hour talk by Wayne Dyer. He was very, very good. I brought my reluctant fiancée along, and he also very much enjoyed the talk. We even bought two plastic bracelets (I think they cost $2.00 total) to support a cause Dyer was advocating.

But that was it. I left feeling great and focusing on remembering a few points from the talk that were helpful to me.

I did not — as so many did — rush up to the stage during intermission, desperate to touch the hand of this man who might solve all my life problems. I did not stare in wonder at him as he paced the stage. I did not leave with a feeling of, “I need more Wayne Dyer, more!”

But so many people do seem to need Wayne Dyer. Or Deepak Chopra. Or Tony Robbins. Or Marianne Williamson.

Worse, they tend to gravitate toward one individual so that their need is focused on one “guru” in particular. In sum, they mistake the messenger for the message.

Look, I love many of the P.D. gurus. These people deserve every penny they earn for the changes they have made in peoples’ lives. But some of their devotees seriously need to learn to “take what you need and leave the rest.”

Another example: there is a very popular P.D. guy who blogs online. Most of you probably know of whom I speak but I won’t name him because this isn’t about him … it is about his followers. Most of his articles are great and many of his thoughts make me think critically in a way that I had not before.

Recently, he posted a pet theory about something we’ll call –for the sake of amusement — The Law of Magnetism. His theory about this “Law of Magnetism” grouped 1% of people into the thoughtful camp who had decided to personally become a magnet — or not. Again, I’m using analogies here; this wasn’t the actual theory. The other common 99% of people, according to the theory, float helplessly along in life, having chosen neither to become a magnet nor to become a non-magnet.

The theory was thoughtful but, to my mind, whacked out in many respects. To me, that’s fine. The guy is smart and critical but …. he gets stuff wrong — just like the rest of us.

Nonetheless, thousands of people rushed to the forum boards wondering whether they were among those who had decided to become a “magnet” or not. How did they know which side to choose? And what did the guru mean when he said X … and how did it apply to their lives?

It was crazy. It was like someone proclaiming that 99% of us are drifters, and 1% of us are magicians — but we have to decide which kind of magician … and then everyone re-framing their life to decide whether they are a magician or not. And what kind of magician precisely?!?!

People, please resolve to be your own guru. Even if a modern day certified savior were to appear and set out certain life precepts, wouldn’t you want to question these precepts and — if you decided you agreed with them — determine how to structure your own life accordingly, by means of your own critical thinking? You would not (I hope) run to this modern day savior and ask him or her about every detail of how to live your life. You would understand that we must know our own selves, and that we are all part of a divine intelligence that has given us the tools to take the basics and construct our own abundant lives.

At least I hope so.

I am not dismissing the gurus here. Rather, I am critiquing the phenomena of people desperately attaching themselves to one guru, taking everything the guru says as the Word, and then figuring out how they should live their lives according to the guru and that guru’s Word.

This is why so many people consume ridiculous amounts of products and seminars from particular speakers. Buying some books and films from various sources is one thing; hungrily devouring everything produced by one human being is another.

Please learn to listen to yourself. Read the books and listen to the podcasts. But be a critical thinker and take only what you need.

In short, be your own guru.


March 10, 2007. life, Money, Passion, personal, Personal Development, Work. 9 comments.

On Abundance

red-flowers.jpg Over at, Arvind has a helpful post titled Abundance, Abundance, Abundance.

He gives us nine ways to experience more abundance in our lives.

Here are three:

1. Be generous, without being wasteful. Always remember that what goes around comes around. Share the abundance already in your life and it will be reflected back to you by the people around you …

2. Let go of any habits of poverty. Start giving away your loose change to charities and people in need. Start cultivating being prosperous. Stop yourself from thinking thoughts such as “I cannot afford that.”

Let’s stop here for a moment. I would personally change this advice to focus on the positive: “Move towards habits of wealth. Start giving away extra money to those you feel deserve it. Cultivate prosperity. Start believing, ‘I can afford that.'”

In other words, I would phrase it in terms of what one wants to move toward rather than away from — but Arvin has the correct general idea.

Also, the whole idea of giving loose change feels … cheap. Believe you can afford to tithe and give away more. I use my loose change for the meter … but I give bills.

O.K., on to his third tip:

3. Expect the best from everything and everyone. Pessimistic people who are always moaning keep having negative experiences and bad luck. That is because what you focus on most is what you attract – so focus only on goodness from now on. Think of the things you love and desire.

Read the full post here.

March 9, 2007. life, Money, personal, Personal Development. 1 comment.

Quote on Living in the Now

rwemerson.jpg  “Finish each day and be done with it. You have done what you could; some blunders and absurdities have crept in; forget them as soon as you can. Tomorrow is a new day; you shall begin it serenely and with too high a spirit to be encumbered with your old nonsense.”

Ralph Waldo Emerson

March 8, 2007. life, personal, Personal Development. 1 comment.

A Round-up of Some of this Week’s Best Personal Development Posts

happy-baby.jpgThe Balanced Life Center included one of my recent articles, Seven Ways to Change Your Life Tomorrow, in its current carnival (a roundup of good blog posts on personal development).

There are some very interesting Personal Development articles included.


Top Ten Things: Ten Old Ways to Learn Something New

The Art of Completion

You Teach People How to Treat You (one of my favorites)

There are many other great articles; these are just a few. Check out the other articles here.

March 7, 2007. life, Passion, personal, Personal Development, Work. 2 comments.

Quote from The Science of Getting Rich (by Wallace Wattles)


Studying the people who have got rich, we find that they are an average lot in all respects, having no greater talents and abilities than other men. It is evident that they do not get rich because they possess talents and abilities that other men have not, but because they happen to do things in a Certain Way.

Getting rich is not the result of saving, or “thrift”; many very penurious people are poor, while free spenders often get rich.

Nor is getting rich due to doing things which others fail to do; for two men in the same business often do almost exactly the same things, and one gets rich while the other remains poor or becomes bankrupt.

From all these things, we must come to the conclusion that getting rich is the result of doing things in a Certain Way.

Wallace Wattles, Chapter 2: The Science of Getting Rich

March 6, 2007. life, Money, personal, Personal Development, Work. 1 comment.

Creating Your Life’s Vision Statement

positive-emotions-3.jpg  Recently, I posted about a wonderful YouTube video that shows off the benefits of creating a vision statement for your life on your computer.

Last week I learned that I can easily create a personal vision statement on my computer via Microsoft’s Photo Story 3 (it is a free download for anyone with Windows XP). The editing of the video is incredibly easy; I did have my slightly more tech-savvy S.O. help me with some issues such as cropping hard-to-lose black borders on my photos … but other than that the experience was amazingly easy.

I spent half of a weekend day on this … and it was well worth the time.

I now have my (first draft of) my personal Vision Statement.

Final step: deciding on the music. I have narrowed it down to two songs.

I get excited every time I watch it with either song.


Be sure to find great photos to use, and spend some time picking just the right music. You want something upbeat and inspiring. For example, I rejected some music because even though the beat was up-tempo, the underlying message was not.

Don’t dwell on one photo or graphic for too long. Keep it moving. My longest graphic (other than the last shot) is five seconds. Most are 2-3 seconds.

Whatever images and music you choose, make sure the entire show is something you’ll be psyched to watch every morning and every night before turning in. This is powerful stuff!

March 5, 2007. life, Passion, personal, Personal Development, Work. Leave a comment.

Inspirational Quote: “Decide to be Extraordinary”

success.jpg “From this instant on, vow to stop disappointing yourself. Separate yourself from the mob. Decide to be extraordinary and do what you need to do now.”


March 4, 2007. life, Passion, personal, Personal Development. Leave a comment.

Michael Beckwith Interview on CBS News

michael-beckwith.jpg Michael Beckwith, one of the “teachers” on The Secret film, was recently interviewed on CBS News about the Secret.

You can watch the clip here.

March 4, 2007. life, personal, Personal Development. 12 comments.

Learning How to Live

ocean-swim.jpg Steve Jobs has said: “Remembering that you are going to die is the best way I know to avoid the trap of thinking you have something to lose. You are already naked. There is no reason not to follow your heart.”

It is so true. If you can fast forward in your mind to when you are dead and really contemplate that, a lot of the stuff that seems important now won’t seem important at all. Many of the potential actions that you may want to take that seem scary now won’t seem so scary. What feels scary, in such a mindset of anticipating your death, is living like you are now — if you are living at less than your potential. Most of us — even high achievers — could achieve so much more.

Any many of us are on the completely wrong path.

I like the way Oprah said it on one of her shows on the DVD The Secret. She mentioned that she sees people struggling all the time, struggling against the current. She said she just wants to tell them to turn around and flow with the current. Clearly, she is someone who has mastered the art of flowing with the current.

So if you are struggling against the current, stop. Think about what you believe you are here to manifest. Then turn around, and go with that flow.

March 2, 2007. life, Passion, personal, Personal Development, Work. 19 comments.

Fantastic Meditation Tracks (Free) from UT Texas

cruise-sunset.jpg Yesterday I found a series of “relaxation tapes” produced by The University of Texas at Austin’s Counseling & Mental Health Center.

I’ll just call them meditation tapes.

They have the following meditations: deep breathing, muscle relaxation, cruise imagery, and forest imagery. I did the deep breathing meditation, one of the muscle relaxations, and then a cruise meditation.

It was fantastic. I think I actually fell asleep, but I do remember being on a lovely boat soaking up the sun.

The meditations are available here.

March 2, 2007. life, personal, Personal Development. Leave a comment.

Great Quote from Michael Beckwith

meditate-2.jpgIf this crisis were to last forever, what qualities would I have to grow to have peace of mind?

~ Rev. Dr. Michael Beckwith

March 1, 2007. life, Passion, personal, Personal Development. 1 comment.

The Difference Between Wealth and Riches

andreoli-pool.jpg “Being rich is having money; being wealthy is having time.”

Margaret Bonnano

March 1, 2007. life, personal, Personal Development. Leave a comment.

How to Stay Relaxed During a Big Move

moving.jpgWe have a big move coming up (cross-country). I realized this week that I am experiencing a low level of background stress as the move draws nearer.

So I decided to find resources (both internal and external) to help put me in the right frame of mind during the move. Hopefully these tips will help others who are facing a big move or even some other normal-highly-stressful life event such as a job change.

Acknowledge the stress.

This is what I did a couple of days ago. I wondered why I was stressed just doing normal activities, and it finally hit me that in addition to all of my normal duties, I am carrying out background thoughts related to the move.

Acknowledge why you are stressed in the first place.

This article points out some of the hidden sources of moving related stress.

Our homes provide security. They shelter us from the elements and from the outside world. When we make a move, we are giving up known levels of security and trading them for unknown security … It may take us weeks or months before we feel safe in the new environment.<>


“As we pack up our years of accumulated belongings, we are also forcing ourselves to review our lives. Although many of our possessions will trigger positive memories, some of them may trigger painful memories. We may find old photographs, mementos, letters, or clothing that remind us of losses. We must also make decisions about what to keep and what to discard. These discards can also represent losses as we leave our past lives behind.”

Getting What I Want (Instead of What I Don’t Want)

O.K., now I have figured out what I don’t want (stress). So how do I get to what I do want – a relaxed mind during the moving process, and a feeling of being secure in the knowledge that everything will go well and that I am safe?

Plan Ahead.

Most of the articles on this subject (staying relaxed during a move) emphasize planning ahead. Great advice … but most of the articles stop here.

Pace Yourself.

Some people emphasize pacing yourself in packing. This is great advice, as I generally wait to the last minute and am horrified to see the moving guys throwing my clothes in a box with a full trash can. So, if you are packing yourself then pace the packing. If the movers are packing (obviously interview a few companies and pick a reputable moving company), then in a relaxed manner over a number of weeks, start throwing things out that you don’t need and make sure that things are relatively tidy when they get there so that dusty papers and old, worn out clothes aren’t packed up.

Ship Your Car.

I always ship my car. I find the best car shipping company I can and then don’t worry about it. I fly to my new home and the car generally takes less than a week to get there.

Have fun with it!

Instead of worrying about how our house will “present” to buyers and worrying about finding a new house, I can have fun making our current house as beautiful as possible … while also experiencing the fun of finding a new home to buy. When I think of all the possibilities for our new home, I get excited! Life can be so mysterious and fun if you recognize where to find the fun in mystery.

Mind over matter.

I have to ask myself if much of this is really important in the big scheme of things. For example, we have decided to move my office into the guest room for selling purposes (“house staging”, as they call it). At first this stressed me out, but now I realize that it’s a short process (moving my office) and – more importantly, it is temporary and is likely to help us sell the house quickly and for more money.


On the same note, I will use my mind to visualize a smooth move, a smooth house sale, and a wonderful new home in our new city … along with our wonderful lives. This last point is the most important.

That’s all for now. I’ll post more as the process unfolds.

March 1, 2007. life, personal, Personal Development. 10 comments.

How to Get Started on Your Dream — Today!

my-oscar.jpg  Brian Kim has a motivating article on doing something towards your dream today. That’s right, today. Not tomorrow or next month or when it is most convenient.

Brian writes:

So how can you get started on your dream today? To do that, let’s explore the reasons why people don’t get started on their dream in the first place.

In my opinion, people don’t get started on their dream because of three reasons.

1. They have too many dreams.

2. They’re doubtful they can accomplish it.

3. They fear they’ll fail at it.

Read the full post here.

February 28, 2007. life, Passion, personal, Work. 1 comment.

Challenge Your Assumptions about Success

hundred-dollar-bills.jpg Over at, Remit Sethi talks about an interesting and prevalent phenomenon that he calls The Shrug Effect. He writes:

Isn’t it easy to point at someone really successful, listing the reasons why he’s so successful, but also the reasons he made it but you can’t?

We do this all the time. We see a famous CEO and point how “he took 5 companies public and got a Harvard MBA.” We see a successful children’s book author and point out how she already knew 4 publishers, so her book got published immediately … And then we shrug. “What can we do?” “She has a Harvard MBA.” “They made it big, but they’re different than me.” …

When we list off the skills/resources that the successful person has–and we don’t–we do 2 things: First, we distance ourselves from that person, making them into something other than an ordinary, regular person. Second, we create an excuse for why we won’t achieve the same level of accomplishment. And then, in a textbook case of a self-fulfilling prophecy, we don’t.

But guess what?

CEOs don’t just magically flip a switch and start wearing a fancy suit one day, directing their staff to do this and that. Getting to the top isn’t about knowing how to execute a leveraged buyout, or negotiating anti-dilution provisions, or whatever …
It starts earlier.

Read the entire post here.

February 28, 2007. life, Money, personal, Personal Development, Work. Leave a comment.

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