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Archive for the 'Transforming habits' Category

True Stories: Your Beautiful Mind: Control Alcohol, Discover Freedom, Find Happiness and Change Your Life: Justin Raj’s Journey to Joyful Sobriety

Tuesday, May 29th, 2018

 

“Two of my close friends have quit alcohol inspired by my sobriety. I’m really happy and proud about that. At least I could make changes to the life of others.”

 

Giving up alcohol is a heroic journey—it’s not easy and it’s not a quick-fix, but inevitably there is a happy ending and you are rewarded with a life more beautiful. The journey to sobriety very often takes extreme courage, tenacity, and resilience in the face of obstacles, setbacks and, occasionally, defeat.

Alcohol addiction remains a hidden and stigmatic problem marked by denial and fear.  There are millions suffering alone, afraid to ask the question, ‘am I drinking too much?’ Reading and hearing about others who felt similarly and share their stories of triumphing over addiction is inspirational and transformational. I know this personally and professionally.

I honor and give thanks to Justin Raj for being willing to share his hero’s journey (I use this term in a gender-neutral way). The word “hero” comes from a Greek root that means to protect and serve. The hero is connected with self-sacrifice. He or she is the person who transcends the ego and incorporates all the separate parts of themselves to become a true Self.

I asked Justin that as he responded to the questions he may like to recall the details of his journey from alcohol to sobriety as though his journey was a movie, recalling all the aspects that had the greatest impact and both his decision and his success in controlling alcohol. I have structured the questions I asked Justin by drawing on Christopher Vogler’s Story Structure.

“The reader is usually invited to identify with the hero”, says Vogler. “You admire the hero’s qualities and want to be like him or her, but the hero also has flaws. Weaknesses, quirks, and vices make a hero more appealing” – again, I honor Justin for not sanctioning his responses. He has been brutally honest, shared from this heart, and spoken the truth in the heartfelt desire that those who read his story may be emboldened and inspired to join him in joyful sobriety.

 

Q. You recently gave up alcohol. What was your life like when you were drinking? What, if any problems, or issues did you face?

 

I started drinking at the age of 18, I still remember clearly the day I experimented with alcohol.

It was during a Christmas party at my home. I took some brandy from the bottle from which my dad was drinking. I felt dizzy after two drinks and I puked. Next day I woke up with a headache and I was not well for two days.

During my days of higher studies, I started drinking with friends and it became a norm to celebrate with drinks.

It was when I started my own business in 2011 that I realized that my drinking was affecting my business and life. In 2014 my business failed terribly.

I joined an Alcohol Anonymous group in my hometown. I thought AA could help me quit drinking. But, AA here is filled with spirituality, prayers, boring lectures and public confessions. I quit the group after two months and continued with drinking.

When I was drinking, I was failing at any endeavor I undertook. The only thing I thought about was getting drunk and having fun. I even thought of making money just to have drinks. I was penalized for drunken driving several times, ended up in a number of illicit sexual relationships and also involved in a fist fight with strangers and friends in a bar.

 

Q: What was the catalyst for change?

The catalyst happened on the night of 24th February 2018. I had a road accident in which I hit an elderly pedestrian with my motorbike. My left forearm was broken and dislocated. I had to undergo a surgery. My family and friends came to know that I was drunk when I had the accident.

Even after the accident and surgery, I continued drinking regularly. I visited a nearby bar with my broken hand resting in an arm-sling. After observing this addictive behavior of mine, my family took my drinking seriously.

One of my cousins who is a psychiatrist-counselor recommended me to attend a counseling session with a friend of hers. It was after the counseling session that I decided to quit.

 

Q: Was there ever a point when you knew you needed to stop drinking but refused ‘the call’ or had second thoughts about giving up? What obstacles did you face in order to stay firm in your decision?

 

Yes, whenever I decide to quit alcohol, I had second thoughts: ‘why should I?’ Alcohol is the only answer I have to escape from my boredom, to have fun and pass my free time. I didn’t know anything other than drinking alcohol to engage myself with. To me, peer pressure was less. I don’t have any friends who compelled me to drink. I can’t blame anyone other than myself.

 

Q: What sources of aid did you receive to continue on the path to sobriety? i.e. Did anyone appear to help you? A mentor, friend, adviser, support group etc.

 

Counseling sessions were great. It was those three days of counseling, that changed my attitude towards drinking. Then the books the counselor recommended. One of the books was yours, Your Beautiful Mind: Control Alcohol, Discover Freedom, Find Happiness and Change Your Life.

Your Beautiful Mind happened to be the first book in my life I read on alcoholism. It was a well written, informative and inspiring book.

I spent three weeks after the counseling sessions to read books on alcoholism. Reading helped me a lot. Knowledge is real power. My family and friends also gave great support. Two of my close friends have quit alcohol inspired by my sobriety. I’m really happy and proud about that. At least I could help make changes in the lives of others.

 

Q: At what point did you truly commit to giving up drinking and follow with action? Describe the point when you crossed the threshold.

 

It was the road accident, counseling sessions, reading books on alcoholism and knowing more about the menace of alcohol, that motivated me to strongly decided to quit alcohol for life.

 

Q: Once you gave up drinking did you face, or were you confronted with, any difficult challenges (ranging from minor struggles to setbacks) that threatened your resolve and may have defeated a lesser person. What tests did you face, what allies did you meet?

The only enemy I have to face was myself. As I said earlier, none of my friends compelled me to drink ever in my life. It was my decision to start drinking and it is the addictive nature of alcohol which kept me hooked. Today, I’m getting great support from my family and friends. The happiness my mom, aunts, uncles, cousins, and friends experience after I embraced sobriety is priceless.

It has been two months. I have been sober and I will remain so for the rest of my life.

 

Q: Did you emerge wiser from these trials? In what way did these tests help you prepare for the ultimate test—unwavering sobriety. Looking back now, what advice or warning would you give to others about what could go wrong, and possibly derail their decision to give up drinking?

Our life is a great teacher. Out of my drunkenness and reckless riding, I hit an innocent, elderly pedestrian with my motorbike. He was 73 years old. Still today, I can’t recollect how I hit him or what happened that night. If that elderly person was dead, I would have ended up in jail. To me, thinking about that incident is still scary.

Alcohol is a legally available addictive substance. People cant stop drinking because they are hooked by its addictive nature and nothing else. People think drinking is fun. Even I thought so till a few months ago. But the truth is, I still can’t remember the fun I had while I was drinking.

It is saddening that our society and media is all praise for drinking and smoking just trapping youngsters into the mindset that drinking and smoking are essential for a fun-filled life.

Life is more beautiful if you take away alcohol from it. We can have everlasting, memorable fun and experiences without the influence of alcohol. My advice is don’t try alcohol if you haven’t already and quit it if you are using it.

 

Q: What were your deepest fears during this time? Some people describe this as a battle with “the dark villain” – an inner battle whereby they faced and overcame their own demon and inner fears. Was this your experience? In what way?

The dark villain is me. I was engaged in an inner battle with my own demon. If we need to change our life, we have to take that decision by ourselves, don’t we?

Even before going to counseling I had determined with a half-heart that I had to quit drinking. My family has a background of alcohol and drug abuse. My father died from alcohol-related disease, my maternal grandfather died due to heavy drinking. My paternal grandfather was also a heavy drinker. A few of my uncles, cousins, and family friends are also suffering from alcoholism.

I started experiencing alcoholic depression for the past few years which I didn’t recognize. It was only after counseling that I realized that I was suffering from depression—not from a hangover. I have a great many reasons to quit alcohol not a single reason to continue with it.

 

Q: Describe/recount the time you truly knew you had succeeded in defeating the enemy of alcohol when you transformed into a new state of being – where fears were vanquished and the new you was born.

When you find no reason to drink alcohol, you will quit. What I thought was fun wasn’t fun anymore. When I get bored I have better things to do today other than drinking.

Why should I drink and invite trouble as well as create a deep hole in my purse, if I can do productive, enjoyable things like reading, writing, working out and talking with friends which add value to my life and myself?

We are basically our thoughts. When we change our thoughts, ultimately we change ourselves.

 

Q: What rewards did you reap—external (knowledge, a promotion, career success, improved relationships, better health etc.) and/or as an inner reward (personal growth, fulfillment, freedom, self-respect etc.)

As I said earlier, I don’t have any reason to drink. Moreover, I have more reasons not to drink. Even after two months of alcohol-free life, I can really feel the changes in myself and things I do.

First and foremost, my financial situation has improved. I spent too much money on this destructive habit of mine. I started doing things I love with more vigor and passion. I’m getting an everlasting, joyful and positive high from it. Alcohol disconnected me from my life, my business and myself. Today, I feel that connection is back. It is priceless.

 

Q: Having gained the rewards, and with nothing left to prove, how was your early experience of sobriety?

For the past four years, I was struggling with my drinking. I tried to quit in all ways I can but in vain. I couldn’t stop drinking even for a week. I never read any books like yours in those days.

Today, I feel if I had read the books I read today or attended a good counseling session, I should have got the power to quit alcohol for life earlier. And also I should have avoided all the troubles I had to overcome in those alcohol-filled days.

 

Q: Was there ever a point where you felt lulled into a false sense of security, but in reality, there was one last challenge you had to face? Perhaps the desire for alcohol was not completely vanquished or perhaps something plunged you into a temptation to drink—just when you thought it was safe to breathe easy again?

It was my lack of knowledge and the addictive nature of alcohol. You know, I quit sugar two years ago when I learned the bad effects of it on my physical and mental health. I was too much addicted to sugar from my childhood and when I learned that it was doing me harm I quit.

Why couldn’t I do it with alcohol, even though, I knew it is bad for health, mind, and my purse?

The only reason is alcohol is addictive. It is normal that we defend our addictions by stating ‘today is Saturday’ ‘my friends are here so we are going to party hard’, ‘I can stop it anytime and many more excuses. These defensive mentalities last only until the day we realize the habit we are nurturing is gradually destructing our mind, body, finances, and relationship with our loved ones. I have met with that stage of self-realization and freed myself from a self-imposed prison of my addictive behavior.

Do you think, I want to go back to the prison again? I don’t think so.

 

Describe the moment when you felt truly reborn into a new, joyous form, with your beautiful mind – able to control the desire, temptation or compulsion to drink alcohol. In what way have you been rewarded for your courageous and determined journey?

I can give full credit to the psychiatrist who counseled me. He has a decade-long experience in dealing with alcohol and drug addicts. His level of knowledge fascinated me. He made me realize that drinking alcohol, which I thought was joyful fun, is, in fact, an illusion.

The counseling sessions usually last for three days. By the second day, I learned that what I was doing is wrong and decided to quit alcohol for life. The last day of the session was just a friendly talk and he recommended a few books to read including your book.

Today, I’m not thinking the way I used to be. I have changed and I can feel that transformation. I have got myself back. My business has grown, my passions have started blooming and my financial condition has improved. Today, I started welcoming mornings without hangovers and regrets. It feels great!

The book I prefer from all those I have read since committing to sobriety is your book: Your Beautiful Mind: Control Alcohol, Discover Freedom, Find Happiness and Change Your Life.

 

I’m so thrilled to have been able to help! As I write this post, Justin is working on his business plan and also preparing for an entrance exam for his doctoral degree in journalism—something he doubts he’d be achieving if he was still drinking.

Below is a copy of the review Justin Raj left on Amazon.

5.0 out of 5 starsDiscovering my beautiful mind!
21 May 2018

Cassandra Gaisford’s book- Your beautiful mind – is the first book I read after completing my three-day counseling session at a major alcoholic rehabilitation center in the Indian state of Kerala. Her straightforward way of writing hooked me and motivated me to hold on to my decision to quit alcohol, strongly. She handled the menace of alcoholism from the level of basics to the level of an expert in a language even a layman can understand.

‘Your beautiful mind’ inspired me to think beyond my alcoholic lifestyle, which wasn’t possible before and helped to transform my mind completely. She motivated me to take up my passions- reading, writing, stock market analysis- as fruitful addictions rather than following self-destructive addictions like alcohol, nicotine, and drugs. Today, I can enjoy my life more and feels like I have been freed from a prison – a self-created prison of addictive behaviour. Keep inspiring and keep up your great work, Cassandra!”

 

It was lovely feedback to receive! All power to Justin… I’m so proud of him!

 

Are you struggling with alcohol abuse or alcohol addiction? Are you worried you’re drinking too much? Or are you curious about the life-changing magic of sobriety?

I hope Justin’s story of self-empowered, purpose and passion-filled sobriety provides hope, courage, and determination for you to achieve the same.

“Reading helped me a lot. Knowledge is real power.”

 

Life really is more beautiful sober. You can learn more about Justin Raj and follow his blog here—www.justyjots.com

 

 

This is an edited testimonial for Cassandra Gaisford’s new book Your Beautiful Mind: Control Alcohol, Discover Freedom, Find Happiness and Change Your Life, available in print and Ebook here—getBook.at/Controlalcohol

You’ll also find plenty of ongoing support and cheerleading in the Facebook community https://www.facebook.com/Sobrietyexperiment/. Pop along and join us now.

 

6 Things Successful People Do To Become & Stay Motivated & Happy

Thursday, April 19th, 2018

Staying happy and motivated is like caring for delicate roses, you need to nurture your fragrant dreams every day and be vigilant in keeping predators away. As a coaching client, who suffers from reoccurring bouts of depression, said recently, “Changing my view from one where I am trying to motivate myself, to one where I am inspired by the things that motivate me will help me achieve my goals.”

Successful people don’t force themselves into submission, instead, they harness their love and enthusiasm for their projects to lift them higher. Successful people also know how to bounce back from inevitable setbacks. Guided by the  wisdom of Leonardo da Vinci, here are 6 things successful people do to become and stay motivated:

 

1.) HARNESS THE POWER OF PASSION

 

If there’s no love, what then?

~ Leonardo da Vinci

 

Without love you don’t have energy. Without energy you have nothing.

Passion is a source of unlimited energy from your soul that enables you to achieve extraordinary results. Following your passion and claiming your authentic self is a great way to boost your vitality. Whether you call it joy, love or obsession or desire, these powerful heart-felt emotions are natural opiates for your mind, body, and soul.  It’s the fire that ignites your potential and inspires you to be who you really are.

When people are pursuing something they are passionate about their drive and determination is infinite. They become like pieces of elastic able to stretch to anything and accommodate any setback. People immobilized by fear and passivity snap like a twig. They lack resilience.

Passion gives people a reason for living and the confidence and drive to pursue their dreams. Leonardo was a man of many loves and deep obsessions. These passions imbued him with infinite energy—powering his creativity, courage, resolve, and tenacity.

Sadly, when you’re feeling anxious, depressed or stressed, the things that you love are the first things to be traded. Nothing seems to spark joy. But, when you do something that feeds your soul you may be amazed at how quickly fire ignites.

As Leonardo once said, “No labor is sufficient to tire me”. Even when he was exhausted by life, his passion sustained him.

 

2.) BEGIN WITH THE END IN SIGHT

 

There are three classes of people: those who see. Those who see when they are shown. Those who do not see

~ Leonardo da Vinci

 

Beginning with the end in sight is a powerful way of strengthening motivation, persistence, and perseverance. The future does belong to those believe in the beauty of their dreams and schemes

Every extraordinary achievement starts as someone’s daydream. Dream big, become audaciously obsessed, and fuel your verve—pursue the vision that sparkles!

Let desire propel you forward by acting as if, seeing as if, feeling as if, tasting as if, touching as if your success has already been achieved.

Jessie Burton’s empowering words, “Always picture succeeding, never let it fade. Always picture success, no matter how badly things seem to be going in the moment,” may inspire you as much as they do me.

Her advice reminds me to watch my tendency to visualize and picture failure. Sometimes when I embark on an inspired quest I tell myself messages of failure, and as a result, I feel failure. This is hardly a formula for success!

Jesse Burton, the bestselling author of the highly acclaimed books The Muse and The Miniaturist, is very inspiring to me because she is so honest about her own battles with mental health—including anxiety.

Marcus Aurelius, Benjamin Franklin, and Julia Cameron, playwright and author of phenomenal bestseller The Artist’s Way, all understand the transformational power of keeping words, thoughts, and feelings in journals. As did Leonardo da Vinci.

He was a prolific recorder of all things that interested and excited him. He maintained over 13,000 pages of scientific notes and drawings on natural philosophy, life, travel, and mysteries.

“Preserve these sketches as your assistants and masters,” he once wrote in his journal.

His notebooks not only log his interests and the things he witnessed with his own eyes, but it was also a medium by which he channeled his intuition. They also helped him shape his vision for future creations he wished to transform from his mind into tangible reality.

Whether you keep a passion journal, dream board or store your vision in your mind, visualizing your preferred future is an essential tool for your success.

 

3.) BE AMBITIOUS

I wish to work miracles

~ Leonardo da Vinci

 

Many people struggle to achieve because they’re not ambitious. Being ambitious may stir your fears—fear of success, failure, regret, disappointment, loss. Or it may trigger a fear of standing out. You may associate ambition with negative traits, like aggression.

Reframe ambition and look to your heroes and heroines. As Leonardo once said, “I want to create miracles.” If that’s not ambitious I don’t know what is. He wasn’t hard and aggressive—he was focused and he kept his vision fixed on success.

“Dream big,” encourages James Patterson, currently the bestselling author in the world. “Don’t set out to write a good thriller. Set out to write a #1 thriller.” 

Given that science has barely even begun to explore the real potential of the human mind, it’s a funny thing how easily we persuade ourselves of its limitations and settle for less.

You’ve probably caught yourself thinking about a big dream, some inspired course of action, and at some point talked yourself down by saying, “I could never do that!”

Or perhaps you’ve come up with a bright idea about something and then shelved it because somebody said dismissively, “You can’t do that!” or “That’s crap.”

Or perhaps, as I have so often said to myself before reconnecting with my millionaire mindset, “I can’t do this. I can’t write this book. It’s too big. Who do I think I am trying to write such a complex book?”

But how do you really know what you are capable of unless you try?

Paulo Coehlo, the author of The Alchemist, once said: “Know what you want and try to go beyond your own expectations. Improve your dancing, practice a lot, and set a very high goal, one that will be difficult to achieve. Because that is an artist’s million: to go beyond one’s limits. An artist who desires very little and achieves it has failed in life.”

Thinking big demands a long step outside the comfort zone of what you know.

It can feel scary to contemplate stepping out of the space where you feel you know what you’re doing and you feel fully in control.

It can feel frightening to explore what it would be like if you were to leave the comfort-rut and attempt to climb toward a new summit. You don’t know for sure where it will lead. But everyone who’s ever made a success of anything started with a big dream.

And you can, too.

Tim Ferris dreams big by adopting and cherishing his beginner’s mind. Rather than succumb to the fear of failure, he changes his mindset, and affirms his love of variety and challenge and being a perpetual debutante.

“Think small, to go big” encourages Gary Keller in his book The One Thing. “Going small” is ignoring all the things you could do and doing what you should do.

“It’s recognizing that not all things matter equally and finding the things that matter most. It’s a tighter way to connect what you do with what you want. It’s realizing that extraordinary results are directly determined by how narrow you can make a focus.”

When you think too big, achieving success can feel overwhelming, time-consuming, and complicated. Calendars can become overloaded and success starts to feel out of reach. So, people opt out and either quit or settle for less.

“Unaware that big success comes when we do a few things well, they get lost trying to do too much, and in the end, accomplish too little,” says Keller.

“Over time they lower their expectations, abandon their dreams, and allow their life to get small. This is the wrong thing to make small.”

 

4.) PLAN FOR SUCCESS

 

God sells us all things at the price of labor

~ Leonardo da Vinci

 

Planning and effort prevent poor performance. This is such a powerful message when it comes to our goals, especially if you’re someone who equates planning with feeling controlled. You may be looking to the future thinking, “Someday! Someday I will achieve that.”

How can you be assured that things will happen if you don’t plan your action steps effectively, efficiently and productively?

So many people end their lives disappointed that things didn’t come to fruition. “Why didn’t it happen for me? Why, when it happens for other people.” Successful people don’t sit at home waiting for things to happen. They go out and conquer things.

If you’re sitting back waiting for ‘someday’ you have a problem—you think you have time!

Successful people set goals and start breaking them down into bite-size chunks. If you want to generate $100,000 out of your business in a year what do you need to do to get there? If you want to start a new relationship, or improve the one you’ve got, develop your success strategy. Your efforts will be repaid in exchange for your labor and your courage to try.

Planning for success also means planning for possible failure. As Oprah once said, “Do the one thing you think you cannot do. Fail at it. Try again. Do better the second time. The only people who never tumble are those who never mount the high wire. This is your moment. Own it.”

Planning to for success also means showing up! Successful people don’t spend their time thinking and strategizing about success.

To be inspired is to be in spirit, and inspiration has to find you working or it won’t come out to play. Eighty percent of success is empowering your mind, body, and spirit by showing up.

Showing up requires the ability to balance creativity with flexibility and discipline.

To be disciplined is to be committed, devoted, able to control your SELF in accordance with, and sometimes against, your desires.

You may be a genius, gifted or have an IQ of 160, but if you lack self-discipline and follow-through your success will be limited.

Leonardo affirmed the importance of this by writing reminders to himself of the superiority of doing to knowing.“I have been impressed with the urgency of doing. Knowing is not enough: we must apply. Being willing is not enough; we must do.”

 

5.) CHASE THE LIGHT

 

Darkness steeps everything with its hue, and the more an object is divided from darkness the more it shows its true and natural color

~ Leonardo da Vinci

 

What’s your default position when things go awry, obstacles challenge your resolve, technology goes belly-up or unforeseen demands on your time derail your plans?

Does your mood darken? Setbacks are normal foes you’ll meet on the path to success, but how you greet them will determine the outcome.

Keep your thoughts light. You may need to bring out the big guns to wage war against doubt, despair and other dark, heavy thoughts. While they’re often part of the journey to success, you will need to slay them to stay motivated and optimistic.

Leonardo would turn again and again toward the things that created light. He didn’t ignore the shadows, but he didn’t allow his palette to be overloaded by darkness.

Acceptance, optimism, willpower, grit, stubborn determination and a resolve to persevere are critical skills to cultivate, as is flexibility and the willingness to adapt. Sometimes it’s all too hard and you need to hibernate. You can take a lesson from nature in this regard.

Successful people resist complaining and victim talk—they know it increases toxicity in your mind and body, hampering your progress. Instead, they throw their energy into positivity and strive to engineer and implement solutions, no matter how small.

They also ask for help if too much darkness creeps in, and, rather than suppress, numb or try to ignore problems they peer into the darkness and look for the gift.

The astoundingly innovative and talented British architect Dame Zaha Mohammad Hadid, faced unimaginable obstacles on her road to success, including battling the predominately male industry who viewed her curvaceous designs with destain. “Having to fight hard has made me a better architect,” she once said.

6.) SAVVY SOBRIETY

 

Here again, many vain pleasures are enjoyed, both by the mind in imagining impossible things, and by the body in taking those pleasures that are often the cause of the failing of life. Extremes are to be avoided

~ Leonardo da Vinci

 

Alcohol and success don’t make good marriage partners, but they’re often fatally attracted.

While there’s no evidence that Leonardo was a teetotaller, he was a clever man. Experience would have told him what we all know—too much booze muddles the mind, ignites aggression, reduces responsiveness and ultimately depresses.

It’s also hard to quit.

Many successful people limit their drinking or consciously decide not to touch a drop. Keeping their resolve, however, often takes extraordinary willpower.

Spiritual guru to the stars, Deepak Chopra, gave up drinking, saying “I liked it too much.”

Julia Cameron, the author of The Artists Way, fought her way back from alcoholism. Others like Amy Winehouse devastatingly never made it.

Drink to success? Destroying your career, ruining your relationships, sacrificing your sanity, and taking your life is a massive price to pay to celebrate success.

Benefits of not drinking are many, including:

  • Authentic happiness
  • Increased memory and mental performance
  • Better control of your emotions
  • Increased productivity
  • Sweeter relationships
  • Improved confidence, self-esteem
  • Stronger ability to focus on your goals and dreams
  • Greater intuition and spiritual intelligence

The choice is ultimately yours. Only you know the benefits alcohol delivers or the toll it exacts. Consider trialing sobriety—take the 30-day challenge. Experiment with living an alcohol-free life.

Do you need help to moderate or quit drinking? Consider purchasing any of my books in the Mindful Drinking series, including Mind Your Drink: The Surprising Joy of Sobriety and Mind Over Mojitos: Easy Recipes for Happier Hours & a Joy-Filled Life 

 

For more tips to lift your spirits during times of adversity grab your free tip sheet

The truth about Alcohol Addiction and Recovery—Wrestling With the God Thing

Thursday, January 11th, 2018

“Spiritual and environmental factors are starting to make a bit of an impact but are not fully accepted as a mainstream approach yet (particularly spiritual approaches). But every approach has its day …. and as they do become more accepted maybe it is a matter of watch this space …”
~ Dr. Gillian Craven, Massey University (personal email, 2014)

As I wrote in the foreword to this book, while finishing my psychology degree at the young-old-age of 49 I decided to take a spiritual approach to the treatment of alcohol addiction. The topic proved challenging.

It was the final assignment needed to complete my third-year paper, Abnormal and Therapeutic Psychology. A lot was resting on it. I’d failed my first assignment where I had researched the causes and treatment of obesity. I was told this was because I hadn’t consulted enough empirical data and scholarly articles—relying instead on people’s personal accounts. I was keen to avoid the same mistake.

But I quickly discovered a lack of psychologically-validated research to cite.

Perplexed I asked my lecturer why, when so many alcoholics swear that taking a spiritual approach was instrumental in their recovery, there was a dearth of research?

“The theoretical etiologies of disorders do focus on cognitive, genetic, neurobiological, personality-based theories —this reflects the bias of both the authors themselves and the current Western approaches,” my lecturer, Dr. Gillian Craven, wrote back to me.

“This is for better or worse the zeitgeist of our time. Spiritual and environmental factors are starting to make a bit of an impact but are not fully accepted as a mainstream approach yet (particularly spiritual approaches). But every approach has its day …. and as they do become more accepted maybe it is a matter of watch this space …”

This was back in 2014. In my view, spiritual approaches were, and continue to be, adopted by mainstream practitioners, including Deepak Chopra who offers addiction recovery programs at his Chopra Addiction and Wellness Center.

Alcoholics Anonymous also addresses spiritual issues, and many followers attribute placing their faith in God to their recovery.

The challenge for many psychologists, particularly those focused on academic research, is their inability to measure, quantify, and place spirituality in a test-tube.

“Science has sometimes been at odds with the notion that laypeople can cure themselves,” writes Jarret Liotta in a National Geographic article, ‘Does Science Show What 12 Steps Know?’

The purpose of Your Beautiful Mind is not to prove or disprove anyone beliefs or to discredit any profession, but to present you with options, backed by my own experience, and the experience of others who have struggled to control alcohol—and succeeded.

An increasing number of people also adhere to the belief that God lies within us all—we are God—and it is time to connect to our inner guidance and the ultimate source of empowerment. Many great minds, including Leonardo da Vinci, subscribed to this view.

As we explore an eclectic and holistic range of strategies—spiritual, cognitive, feeling-based, and scientifically validated, to help you control alcohol, I encourage you to adopt an open mind and ‘do a Leonardo da Vinci’ and experiment with different approaches until you find what works for you.

 

This is an edited extract of Cassandra Gaisford’s new book. Be the first to know when, Your Beautiful Mind: Control Alcohol, Discover Freedom, Find Happiness and Change Your Life, is released. Sign up for her newsletter here http://eepurl.com/cQXY4f

Would you like to drink less? Cut back or quit drinking entirely without becoming a hermit, being ostracized, or cutting back on an enjoyable social life.

Cassandra Gaisford’s new book, Sexy Sobriety: Alcohol and Guilt-Free Drinks You’ll Love: Easy Recipes for Happier Hours & a Joy-Filled Life. Available in ebook and paperback here—getBook.at/SexySobriety

Love is the Drug: Mindful Drinking—How to Follow Your Passion to Sobriety

Saturday, January 6th, 2018

Lose the booze and replace the desire for alcohol with a healthy, positive addiction.

Passion is a source of unlimited energy from your soul that enables you to achieve extraordinary results. It’s the fire that ignites your potential and inspires you to be who you really are. When you do what you love it’s like hanging out with your best friend—with less pinot and fewer craft beers.

Following your passion and claiming your authentic self is a great way to boost your vitality. Whether you call it joy, love or obsession or desire, these powerful heart-felt emotions are natural opiates for your mind, body, and soul.

When you’re feeling anxious, depressed, stressed, hungover or drunk, doing things which feed your soul are often the first things to be traded. Nothing seems to spark joy. But, when you do something that enlivens your spirit you may be amazed at how quickly fire ignites.

Passion brings the energy or chi of love, giving you energy, vitality and a heightened sense of well-being. It’s one of the greatest stress-busters and most powerful drugs of all— promoting the generation of endorphins, the feel-good chemicals that will give you a natural high.

The Power of Passion

“Nothing great in the world has been accomplished without passion,” the philosopher G.W.F. Hegel once said. Denzel Washington and many other successfully sober people agree. “You only live once, so do what you feel passionate about, take chances professionally, don’t be afraid to fail,” Washington says. 

Washington also said, “I made a commitment to completely cut drinking and anything that might hamper me from getting my mind and body together. And the floodgates of goodness have opened on upon me—spiritually and financially

.

• Passion is energy. Without energy, you have nothing.

• To be passionate is to be fully alive.

• Passion is about emotion, feeling, zest, and enthusiasm.

• Passion is about intensity, fervor, ardor, and zeal.

• Passion is about fire.

• Passion is about eagerness and preoccupation.

• Passion is about excitement and animation.

• Passion is about determination and self-belief

• Passion, like love and joy, is contagious

• Passion can’t be faked. It’s the mark of authenticity.

 

Passion fuels inner purpose and fires the flames of your imagination. It gives you a reason for living and the confidence and drive to pursue your dreams. Passion enables you to unleash latent forces and God-given talents.

When you find and follow your passion, you’ll find your sweet spot.

You’ll be emboldened by love— thus powering your creativity, courage, resolve, and tenacity. You’ll also bounce back from setbacks, and refuse to allow failure to stop you—increasing your likelihood of achieving extraordinary success.

 

What’s your drug of choice?

Before Grant Cardone built five successful companies (and counting), became a multimillionaire, and wrote bestselling books… he was broke, jobless, and addicted to drugs and alcohol.

Cardone had grown up with big dreams, but friends and family told him to be more reasonable and less demanding. If he played by the rules, they said, he could enjoy everyone else’s version of middle-class success. But when he tried it their way, he says that was when he hit rock bottom.

Then he tried the opposite approach. He said NO to the haters and naysayers and said YES to his burning, obsession. He reclaimed his passion to be a business rock star, a super salesman, a huge philanthropist. He wanted to live in a mansion and even own an airplane.  Obsession, he says, made all of his wildest dreams come true. And it can help you achieve massive success too.

Instead of drinking focus on what excites you.

“I find things I like and I do them,” says James Patterson, arguably one of the most financially successful authors today. Patterson is also the son of an alcoholic.

Feel the power that comes from focusing on your passion obsession. What do you love doing? What inspires you? What makes you feel joyful?

Channel your passions into your career or pour it into a hobby. Even five minutes a day doing something you love can give you back your mojo and take your mind off the need to drink.

Laurie, a hobbyist lepidopterist escapes the need to drink by studying and enjoying his collection of exotic butterflies.

“Knitting saved my life,” the waitress at my local cafe told me recently. She told me how her hobby has provided the ultimate cure for her anxiety, and of the joy she finds in knitting for friends.

I love to write—it’s one of several favorite obsessions, and the perfect activity to do instead of drink, especially when I write books like this to help and empower others. It’s a similar ploy that’s worked well for Russell Brand (Recovery: Freedom From Our Addictions), and Julia Cameron (The Artist’s Way), and other creatives who’ve channeled their creative energy into help others.

Your passion may start as a hobby or as a way to cure your blues, but could very well turn out to be your ticket to a more fulfilling career.

That’s how things rolled for Claire Robbie. At a low point in her life, and drinking way too much, what started as a way of healing became an essential part of her sobriety process, and as her love for her new practices grew, so did the sense that she had discovered a new vocation.

Robbie founded No Beers? Who Cares! to encourage and support people to jump on the alcohol-free bandwagon.

Another go-to-booze-replacement strategy I love is to head off for a swim in the sea or go for a brisk walk.

In the next chapter, we’ll take a look at the life-changing magic of exercise, including how Duff McKagan, bass guitarist of Guns N’ Roses, and one of the world’s greatest rock musicians, cycled his way back from vodka-induced near death.

This is an edited extract of Cassandra Gaisford’s new book, The Sobriety Journal: The Easy Way to Stop Drinking: The Effortless Path to Being Happy, Healthy and Motivated Without AlcoholAvailable in ebook and paperback here—getbook.at/SobrietyJournal

Bonus: Alcohol-Free Drink Recipes You’ll Love!

Pop along to Cassandra’s Facebook page and join the 2018 Alcohol Detox challenge. The best New Years present to give yourself and others may be the gift of your beautiful sobriety https://www.facebook.com/YourBeautifulMindControlAlcoholBook/

 

#Sexysobriety #AddictionFree #TheSobrietyJournal #happy #AuthenticHappiness #teetotal

Booze and Guilt-Free Drinks You’ll Love for Happier Hours & a Joy-Filled Life

Monday, January 1st, 2018

 

 

 

 

How did you enjoy the holiday season? Did you drink too much, wake up in hangover hell or did you resolve to quit or reduce your drinking in 2018? Perhaps you’re like me and are looking for some sexy sobriety alternatives to support your health and wellbeing goals during the year ahead. My latest book offers some carefully curated, sexy and sophisticated booze-free alternatives. Here’s an advance read of the blurb and a few healthy alcohol-free drink alternatives:

Mind Over Mojitos: How Moderating Your Drinking Can Change Your Life

Cassandra Gaisford, a health counselor, holistic psychologist and the #1 bestselling author of Stress Less, Mid-Life Career Rescue and Find Your Passion and Purpose, (BCA, Dip Psych) provides the ultimate sobriety solution— easy to prepare alcohol and guilt-free drink recipes you’ll love.

Mind Over Mojitos: Easy Alcohol-Free Recipes for Happier HouJoy-Filled Filled Life brims with a range of a range of sexy, wonderfully refreshing and healthy alternatives to drinking alcohol.

Cut back or quit drinking entirely without becoming a hermit, being ostracized, or cutting back on an enjoyable social life. These easy to prepare drinks and pre-purchased alcohol-free alternatives can be enjoyed in the privacy of your own home, office party or hip location.

“For readers who sincerely want to stop or rescue their drinking, but lack awareness of healthy alcohol-free alternatives, the recipes in this book will pave the way.”

Not everyone wants or needs to join a support group to adopt a more mindful approach to controlling their alcohol consumption or to deal with their drinking problems

Gaisford provides readers with a series of carefully curated, delicious, and healthy alcohol-free alternatives.

Anyone who needs to be kept on track or inspired by living sober will find genuine help in this refreshingly insightful and solution-focused book.

Mind Over Mojitos grew out of Cassandra Gaisford’s decades-long work in self-esteem, well-being and success coaching.

Organized into two volumes, Spring/Summer and Fall/Winter this book guides you through a variety of different mocktail recipes and booze-free alternatives that will make your tastebuds sing and send your dopamine levels soaring.

Over time Mind Over Mojitos enables you to more easily make positive choices again and again.

Mind Over Mojitos is a companion guide to Your Beautiful Mind: Control Alcohol, Discover Freedom, Find Happiness and Change Your Life—integrating neuroscience, cognitive therapy, proven tools, and teachings to help people suffering from alcohol dependence and addiction.

Mind Over Mojitos’ easy recipes for happier hours & a joy-filled life will help you achieve your goals—whether that’s getting sober or just cutting back—and create positive, permanent transformational change in your life.

Mind Over Mojitos will help you:

  • Take control of your drinking
  • Relieve stress and still have fun
  • Enjoy the taste of sexy and healthy alcohol-free alternatives
  • Eliminate alcohol to do a life and career reset
  • Love drinking minus the booze, hangover, and guilt
  • Join the trend toward tantalizing tee-totaling
  • Enjoy happier hours
  • Improve your relationships
  • Live a joy-filled healthier life.

 

Stop drinking now, here’s a sneak-peek at some of the booze-free recipes to help you love life sober.

Virgin Island Fox

A mocktail version of a classic created for me by the hip-cool folk at Charlotte’s Kitchen in Pahia, The Bay of Islands, New Zealand—my spiritual home. An elegant and restrained cocktail with subtle richness balanced with lovely zest.

Ingredients

• 1 tsp orange marmalade

• 90mls grapefruit juice

• 30mls lime juice

• 15 mls sugar syrup

• Ice

Instructions

• Add all ingredients except the ice into a mixer

• Single strain over ice into a wine glass

• Garnish – grapefruit

 

Asian Pear Sparkler

 

This Asian pear sparkler is smooth and refreshing with an enticing undercurrent of warm autumn flavors and mellow warmth. Rosemary and ginger with discrete tastes of honey finish this splendid drop.

Ingredients

• 1 cup freshly pressed Asian pear juice*

• 1 teaspoon lemon juice

• 3/4 cups honey

• 1/4 cup sugar

• 1 (4-inch) sprig fresh rosemary

• 1 (1-inch) piece fresh ginger, peeled and cut into coins

• Small grating of fresh nutmeg

• Ice

• Soda water

Instructions

Combine pear juice, lemon juice, honey, sugar, rosemary, ginger, and nutmeg in a saucepan over medium heat. Bring to a boil, then simmer on low heat for 5 minutes, stirring to dissolve the sugars.

Remove from heat and let stand 30 minutes. Strain the syrup through a fine-mesh strainer and discard the solids. Let syrup cool completely.

To serve, fill an 8-ounce glass halfway with ice cubes, add 3 tablespoons of syrup, fill with soda water, and stir. Add more syrup for a sweeter or stronger flavor.

*Note: Use the most flavorful Asian pear you can find; Hosui is a consistently sweet variety. Making 1 cup of juice requires about 1 (12-ounce) pear, peeled and cored. If using a juicer, follow manufacturer’s instructions to extract the juice and discard the pulp. If using blender or food processor, puree the pear until smooth, strain through a fine-mesh strainer, and discard the solids. If you wind up with a little less than 1 cup, top it off with water.

Source: https://www.thekitchn.com/drink-recipe-as-161626

I was thrilled to receive this review for my latest book, especially because Niki is the daughter of an alcoholic.

“More motivating inspiration from Cassandra. Be honest with yourself … do you drink too much? Do you want to take back the control that alcohol has over you? Cassandra shows you how you can do this without missing out on the fun. Complete abstinence does not have to be the answer, neither does drinking water in boring tumblers at social functions have to be subject to questioning peers.

As the daughter of an alcoholic father, I am well aware of my own predisposition. When he fought for control, he would drink orange juice on ice, in a highball glass with a splash of soda and a wedge of orange. It looked just like a Screwdriver and no-one ever questioned it. 

With Cassandra’s advice and delicious mocktail recipes, you too can release the grip of alcohol and regain your life.” 

~ Niki Firth, 5-Star Amazon Review

As she writes, she is mindful of her own genetic predisposition. She’s generously shared a few of her own personal booze-free, healthy alternatives—including the Virgin Screwdriver her Dad would drink when trying to stay sober. “When he fought for control, he would drink orange juice on ice, in a highball glass with a splash of soda and a wedge of orange. It looked just like a Screwdriver and no-one ever questioned it.

Here’s Niki’s recipe for a Virgin Moscow Mule:

Virgin Moscow Mule

 

A refreshing taste of lime with the added zest of ginger but no hangover. World class!

Ingredients

• 1 Lime (quartered)

• Ginger beer (not dry or ale)

• Ice, lightly smashed

• Ginger toffee (optional—recipe follows)

 

Instructions

• Add ice and 2 lime quarters to a mug style glass

• Muddle lime and ice to release juice and flavor

• Top the glass with ginger beer and serve with 2 straws

• Decorate with clapped mint leaves and a slice of lime or alternatively …

• Decorate with some smashed ginger toffee (optional)

Serves 2 / Prep Time less than 10 minutes

 

Grab a copy of Mind Over Mojitos: How Moderating Your Drinking Can Change Your Life: Easy Recipes for Happier Hours & a Joy-Filled Life, and see the scrummy Ginger Toffee optional add-on.

 

This is an edited extract of Cassandra Gaisford’s new book, Mind Over Mojitos: Available in ebook and paperback here—viewBook.at/MindOverMojitosRecipes

Pop along to Cassandra’s Facebook page and join the 2018 Alcohol Detox challenge. The best New Years present to give yourself and others may be the gift of your beautiful sobriety

Share your stories and experiences, we’d love to hear from you! To join, please visit our dedicated Facebook group— https://www.facebook.com/Sobrietyexperiment

How to develop more grit and perseverance – consult the oracle

Monday, November 13th, 2017

I don’t care what you think about me. I don’t think about you at all

~ Coco Chanel

Gabrielle Bonheur “Coco” Chanel had to overcome obstacles to success just like you and I. She suffered many hardships, including the death of her mother when she was young, being abandoned by a father who didn’t love her, growing up in an orphanage, and the stigma of her early years which plagued her throughout her life.

She suffered extreme poverty, self-doubt, low self-esteem and craved love. People jealous of her talent also spread malicious rumors and tried to undermine her success.

But she didn’t let obstacles stop her from doing the work she loved. The pursuit of excellence born from her experience, fueled by her determination to be an independent woman, and the desire to liberate others, ultimately led to her success.

Her boundless imagination, strength of purpose and courageous spirit is an inspiration to young and old. Have you ever wondered what sustained her throughout her life and career?

Tarot and other subjects such as astrology, alternative healing, psychic phenomena, spirituality, and a fascination with the Goddess legends, captured Coco Chanel’s interest.

She, like many people, found great wisdom, peace, comfort and healing from an eclectic array of spiritual rituals.

As the astrologer, Jessica Adams, shares on her website, “Coco Chanel used the Lenormand oracle card deck to help her in business—as well as in her personal life. As my friend, Justine Picardie explains in her acclaimed biography of Chanel, ‘the cards still rest where she left them, lying in a moment frozen in time, in her apartment in Paris.’”

Coco was taught the precepts of Theosophy by the first and foremost love of her life, the English playboy, Captain Arthur Edward “Boy” Capel (CBE).

Theosophy is defined by some sources as, “A collection of mystical and occultist philosophies concerning, or seeking direct knowledge of, the presumed mysteries of life and nature, particularly of the nature of divinity and the origin and purpose of the universe.”

My first experience with psychic phenomena and the tarot was when I was a teenager in New Zealand in the late 70s. A friend had given her baby up for adoption and asked me to come with her to visit a psychic for a reading.

I remember feeling both apprehensive and excited. I was amazed that the reading revealed such true things about my life, and I knew then that there was something special about tarot cards.

Like Coco, it’s a fascination that stayed with me throughout my life and which continues to provide inspiration courage and fortitude—both personally and professionally. No one knows exactly how tarot cards originated. The earliest Tarot deck dates back to the 1400s Renaissance Italy.

‘I’ve come to believe that a lot of wisdom was incorporated in the tarot. I feel, as others do, that the ancient keepers of the old ways or earth-based spirituality, wanted to pass on information,” writes Karen Vogel in the introduction to her Motherpeace Tarot Guidebook.

‘As warfare increasingly became a way of life in the Dark Ages of Europe, old ways were lost as whole cities and civilizations were wiped out.

‘It was more and more difficult to pass on oral and written traditions since whole cultures were destroyed and ancient libraries burned. One of the traditional stories about the origins of the tarot is that the wisdom keepers in these cultures were the storytellers, artists, and healers.

They chose between writing a spiritual or philosophical text or putting the knowledge into a game. They decided that a game in the form of cards would last longer, be more accessible to everyone, and easier to hide.’

By the time of the Renaissance Christianity had dominated Europe as both a political and religious powerhouse. Millions of women, who were often the healers and spiritual leaders, were murdered during the Inquisition. Those who threatened Church authority or knew about ritual and healing, either died or went into hiding, taking certain information with them. It was in this atmosphere that tarot began and subsequently spread all over Europe.

Of all the psychological theories in the West, that of revered Swiss psychologist Carl Jung stands out as most applicable to Tarot.

Jung wrote about Tarot on several occasions, seeing it as depicting archetypes of transformation like those he found in myths, dreams, and alchemy.

He described its divinatory abilities as similar to the IChing and astrology, and late in life established a group who attempted to integrate insights about a person based on multiple divination systems including Tarot.

Jessica Adams also notes, “This connection with astrology is not something that the house of Chanel shies away from today. In fact, I vividly remember Karl Lagerfeld’s illustration of the zodiac sign Sagittarius, decorating my horoscope column in Vogue Australia.”

Astrology also played a major role in Lagerfeld’s campaign for the perfume Chance, where a lion plays a key role. The ‘Chanel-Leo’ is very important when understanding the house of Chanel, the woman who created it—and the fragrance.

Jessica Adams also suggests that one of the cards in Coco’s Lenormand deck inspired one of the secret ingredients contained in Chanel N°5, “…this card shows a beautiful green tree, seven love hearts, and the message… ‘A tree far away means good health—when near—illness there will be, many trees close together means things will turn out all right, you’ll see.’

As we now know, a naturally occurring tree moss is one of the secret ingredients in Chanel N°5 fragrance. A coincidence? Or did Chanel bring together astrology and the Lenormand, when choosing her blend?”

Your Challenge

Experiment with tarot—either have a reading with an experienced tarot card reader or study the cards and their meanings for yourself

Feed your curiosity—take note of the places and circumstances where tarot, astrological symbols and other mystical and occultist philosophies are used—in business and life

How could you blend astrology and tarot into your career and life?

He who has a mind to understand, let him understand

~ Mary Magdalene, in The Gospel of Mary

 

This is an edited extract from The Art of Success: How Extraordinary Artists Can Help You Succeed in Business and Life (Book Two: Coco Chanel) by Cassandra Gaisford. To order a copy for less than the price of coffee and cake click here to go to your online bookshop.

The Life-Changing Benefits of Unplugging

Saturday, September 16th, 2017

“Setting aside protected time each day for direct interaction with people—or for solitude and meditation without the interruption of a Facebook feed or a stream of texts—instinctively feels like a good thing.”
~ John Swartzberg, M.D.

“We’re suffering a sleep crisis,” warns Arianna Huffington, co-founder and editor-in-chief of The Huffington Post and author of The Sleep Revolution: Transforming Your Life One Night at a Time. The chronic need to be “plugged in” is hurting our health, productivity, relationships, and happiness.
Are you suffering from information overwhelm? Are you permanently attached to your device? Does the thought of unplugging send your anxiety spiraling? What if you miss something? What if….what if…

What if you shut it all down and stepped away for a day, a week, a month or more? Consider taking time out to unplug, take a step back, forget about what is expected, forget about what you may be missing, and think about you may be gaining.

Like any addiction, unplugging can be a struggle at first, but the benefits are worth it. Besides the main benefit of being able to enjoy much more hassle-free, uninterrupted time, here are seven other wonderful and lesser-known upsides you’ll notice from making the decision to unplug regularly:

Increased awareness. When was the last time you were fully aware of the beauty that surrounds you? When you unplug you blitz major distractions. You begin to notice small details in people, things, and places that you never really noticed before.

Clarity. Unplugging reduced brain overload. Technological over stimulation overwhelms your mind, reducing your cognitive reasoning skills.

Improved memory retention and mood. Even just detoxing from technology for a day once a week is enough to give your brain a reboot, which can improve your memory and lift your mood.

More brain power. Spending less time being a slave to technological stimulation, provides more time to focus on doing activities that can grow your brain cells—such as indulging in an enjoyable hobby, learning a new skill, visiting a new place, having new experiences, going for a relaxing walk.

Enhanced relationships. Disconnecting from your perpetual tether to iPhones and laptops can do all kinds of great things for your real-world connections with families and friends.This is a no-brainer, but one so many people seem to miss. Putting your device away and giving the people you are with, rather than your device, your undivided attention tells people they’re important to you.

Enhanced productivity. Do you really need constant access to your social notifications, Facebook updates, your email inbox, a bunch of tabs open in your web browser and all sorts of other things to feel in touch and in control? Accumulating interruptions steals peace of mind and minimises your ability to get things done. Any time you’re interrupted from a work-related task by something from your phone or computer, it can take as long as 45 minutes for your brain to refocus.

Mindfulness. When something interesting starts happening, what’s your first reaction? Do you whip out your phone, start snapping photos and begin sharing on social media? Or do you savor the moment and delight in being in the moment? When you unplug, you force yourself to be more present.

“A natural side effect of unplugging is that you stop missing out on what you should be enjoying for yourself, rather than trying to tell everyone on social media about it,” says author Elise Moreau.

Are screens the problem or a symptom?

“It’s become part of our culture to think that being too plugged in’ and too dependent on our devices is the root of our problems, rather than a manifestation of other problems,” says John Swartzberg, M.D.

“Is constantly checking your phone during dinner with your family causing you to be less close to them? Or are you constantly checking your phone because it’s a convenient way to avoid conversations? Are you anxious and having trouble sleeping because you’re spending too much time online? Or are you spending lots of time online to try to tune out your anxiety?” Swartzberg asks.

None of this is to say that Swartzberg thinks it’s a good thing that so many of us are so constantly connected to our devices. “If we spend too much time staring at a screen, the life that is happening right in front of us—our kids’ childhoods, conversations with our partners, work that we can do to help make the world better—may just pass us by.”

Call to Action

Get to the heart of why you’re spending so much time connected to technology. Isolate the benefits and issues, and then make a call whether you need to schedule the time to unplug.
Learn polymath Tim Ferris’s 4 steps to lifestyle design: definition, elimination, automation, and liberation. Watch it here: http://bit.ly/1nTs7jq

 

 

This is an edited extract from Stress Less. Love Life More: How to Stop Worrying, Reduce Anxiety, Eliminate Negative Thinking and Find Happiness

by Cassandra Gaisford. To purchase your copy and learn how to stress less and love life more, click here to go to your online bookshop.

How ambition and Leonardo da Vinci can fuel your success

Friday, April 21st, 2017

I wish to work miracles

~ Leonardo da Vinci
 
Many people struggle to achieve because they’re not ambitious. Being ambitious may stir your fears—fear of success, failure, regret, disappointment, or loss.
 
Or it may trigger a fear of standing out. You may associate ambition with negative traits, like aggression.
 
As Leonardo once said, “I want to create miracles.” If that’s not ambitious I don’t know what is. He wasn’t hard and aggressive—he was focused and he kept his vision fixed on success.
 
Your Challenge
 
Reframe ambition and look to your heroes and heroines.
 
When you think of someone ambitious that you admire who comes to mind?
What qualities do they possess? How could you copy-cat or borrow these qualities and apply them to help you succeed?
 
Keep your ambition a secret—avoid the critics and those who may knock your confidence. When you start to flap your ambition wings other people may feel threatened or jealous
 
It’s cool to be ambitious. People want to hang out with ambitious, successful people. Pursue your big audacious goals! Do the things you think you can’t. Achieve the impossible
 
“The world is in perpetual motion, and we must invent the things of tomorrow. One must go before others, be determined and exacting, and let your intelligence direct your life. Act with audacity.” ~ Madame Veuve Cliquot, businesswoman.
 
Sometimes we need a mentor to encourage us to follow a more creative path. Leonardo da Vinci shares how creativity can improve your happiness, health and success in The Art of Success: How Extraordinary Artists Can Help You Succeed in Business and Life by Cassandra Gaisford.
 
To read a free excerpt or purchase your copy and learn more from Leonardo Navigate to here: getBook.at/TheArtofSuccess

Do it scared – how to charge forward with new confidence and follow your passion to prosperity!

Monday, February 6th, 2017
Do it scared—most of the successful people I know started and continued to create despite their doubts, fears and anxieties. If this is a challenge for you Scott Allan’s new book (aptly titled, “Do It Scared“) comes to your rescue. One of the many memorable things you’ll learn is the importance of mastering your mind. You may have heard this before and know it to be true, but it’s easy to forget and often hard to put into practice.
Stay vigilant, the author warns, stay strong—don’t let self-doubt rob you of your mind mastery. “What do we fear most?” Allen asks, “Confronting problems.”
But herein lies one of the many cures contained with this brilliant book. “Do It Scared” shares proven strategies and powerful formulas to help you transform problems into solutions. The advice is challenging and compassionate – Allen knows how you feel…he’s been there. He’s hit rock bottom and he’s hauled himself out. Now through the honest of his truths and the generosity of his spirit he’s sharing the lessons he’s learned to help you forge a confident identity, master your life, do the things that scare you most and achieve greater personal power.
I really liked the tone and presentation throughout this book. The summaries, or “key takeaways” reinforce key messages and learning at end of each chapter helps consolidate these truths. I particularly enjoyed the strong and evocative words the author uses. Words like “manipulate forge, confront and charge forward.” Softly, softly, fluffy fluffy doesn’t work. You need to don your armour, sharpen your sabre and attack your doubt demons.
One of the sections that really resonated with me was the one on habits and the five steps for breaking bad ones. Allan’s advice to recognize disempowering routines and replace them with winning ones is pure gold! For me one of the triggers that creates a failure habit is being assaulted by energy attacks (negative people, outbursts from others, their drama etc.). As a result of reading “Do It Scared rather then run, withdraw or retreat I’m going to be a rock (not literally!) – people can storm all around me and I’m not going to take it personally. I’m not going to try and fix them either. They can vibrate how they want. What counts is my new habit of maintaining my positive, winning vibration.
Thank you Scott! Thank you also for your section on the lifesavers practices – Silence, Affirmations, Visualization, Exercise, and Reading to improve my thoughts for the day etc. As a result of reading this book I am tooled up with weaponry to defeat the doubt demons and charge forward with new confidence to follow your passion to prosperity!
5.0 out of 5 stars! An excellent book that inspires you to succeed beyond your fears.
A DEFINITE READ FOR CREATING THE ULTIMATE MINDSET! Available from Amazon here http://amzn.to/2kbwNkp
Five things I’ve “done scared,” to follow my passion to prosperity.
1.) I completed this painting of my grandmother, Molly and entered in a portraiture competition.  It was the first portrait I’d ever painted and the first time I’d experimented with painting with oils. My painting was selected as a finalist in The Adam Portrait Award and Exhibition, Wellington Feb 2008. I was so excited!
2.) I entered another competition with a mixed media triptych  (again a first) and won! “Love Stain” was the Supreme Winner Wai Art Awards May 2008.  When I got the call telling me that I had won  I didn’t believe it.  never expected to one. My only goal was to do it scared and put my art out there DESPITE the fear of judgement. “That can’t be right. You must have made a mistake, ” I recall saying. “That other on—the realistic one of Leda and the Swan was far better than mine.” They assured me the painting had won. “Why?” I asked – still disbelieving. “Because it was different,” they replied.
3.)  I commissioned and had built an architecturally designed home, and subdivided my existing property—despite being a single parent with no savings!
4.)  I moved away from my home town of 50 years,  and brought a 10 acre lifestyle property with my partner going unconditional without selling our properties first.That was scary – but exhilarating now that the terror has passed!
5.) I completed my psychology degree, after a then-year study break, at the age of 47—completing four 300 level papers in less then 10 weeks.
6.)  I opened myself up to love again after having my heart broken.  That was scarier than anything ever done. And also the most fulfilling.
7.)  I rescued my daughter from a violent attacker – and did so in a loving, empowered way—even though ever bone in my body was terrified. But I refused to fight terror with terror.
 Looking back on my life there are so many things I’ve done scared—and I wouldn’t have done it any other way!

How to create a new life – harness the power of one and achieve your goals

Friday, January 1st, 2016

one thought,
one feeling,
one intention,
one desire,
one challenge

A very warm greeting to you on this most auspicious day  the first day of the first month – the beginning of a wonderful new year.

One has become my favourite number. I love its simplicity. In an era where overwhelm threatens the peace and equilibrium of so many, ‘one’ makes things easy.

My one goal last year was to overcome my own self-doubt and follow my passion for writing. I love writing. It’s what I was born to do. If I don’t have a pen in my hand, a notebook at the ready, I feel lost, anxious, irritable, Writing soothes my soul. Writing allows me to connect with others and to express the things I care deeply about.

And so with this in mind, I made one promise to myself in 2015 – to publish one book. And then another in my Mid-Life Career Rescue series. Books which would share my own mid-life journey to career nirvana, and the journey of other seekers too.

And in turn, my hope was that sharing these stories would inspire you.

So it’s been exciting to read the reviews and hear from people who have read my first books in the Mid-Life Career Rescue series. People like Hillary who said, “This is the perfect gentle nudge needed to move me forward and make those scary life changes.

I was scared last year too. I wondered how my books would be received. I wondered if anyone would like them. I feared public rejection, bad reviews, losing the time and money I had invested – all those things. But my desire was stronger. I didn’t want to wonder, ‘what if.” What if I had taken a risk and published my book. I took the risk, and it’s been worth it. I chose to change my focus  – to create in my minds eye everything I that dreamed of and saw in my mind’s eye, that I wanted to become ‘true.’

Going to bed last night on New Year’s Eve after celebrating the last day of 2015, to find Mid-Life Career Rescue: (What Make You Happy) twas #1 on the best-seller list on Amazon was amazing. And waking up today on the first day of 2016 and finding it was still #1 was fun!

So if there’s one thing I would encourage you to do this year it would be this – feel the fear and follow your passion anyway. Be curious, be playful, be adventurous and see where these feelings take you.

If you know anyone who needs a gentle nudge this year to make a change for the better the link is here http://amzn.to/1JmGq5C

What’s one intention you could make this year that, when followed through, would make a tremendous difference to your life? Please let me know on in the comments section of this blog

In the meantime I leave with you with this inspirational sculpture created by renown New Zealand Sculptor Chris Booth. My partner commissioned it for my 50th birthday last year. Together the three of us named it Viewfinder, which I love given my passion for photography. Of course, a viewfinder is the tool that enables you to find your point of focus. The viewfinder is the single most important user interface on any camera. And your viewfinder – your point of focus, the thing that captures your interest, your attention, your passion, is the most important tool in creating your best life in 2016. Set your focus, capture your desires and allow them to motivate and guide you throughout the hours, weeks, and months which follow.

Viewfinder Chris Booth web

I wish you a very happy new year. May 2016 bring you continued happiness and joy.

Three days to train a horse. Three days to change a habit.

Wednesday, July 22nd, 2015

IMG_2846Golden Dream, one of the pregnant mares we’ve been babysitting, started eating the fences while we were away for three days. My partner said, ‘Something has got to change, either the horses changed their behaviour or they have to go.’

You may be wondering, what does this have to do with writing or any act of creativity? I didn’t want the horses to go, just like I don’t want to give up my dream of being published in fiction.

Over the years I’ve heard a lot of talk that it takes 21 days to change a habit, but where’s the evidence? Why 21 days? What if the truth was it only takes three days to change a habit? That would be cool.  Three days is manageable, easier to chew and simpler digest. Then add three more days, and three more, until voilà you have achieved seven sets of three and a new habit is ingrained. Of course it can’t stop there. A new habit has to continue to be effective.

I proved my horse theory of behavioural change today. Day three and the horses are retrained, I’m still working on training myself to change unhelpful behaviours, including procrastination, but here’s a few things I’ve learned recently from other pro’s:

Don’t be discouraged by the size of the task

Don’t be discouraged by the size of the task. Robert McKee, story guru to the stars, including Peter Jackson and many other high achieving creatives, says it takes 10 years before you can master the craft of writing. Joanna Penn, New York Times and USA Today best-selling novelist and author of one of the top 10 blogs for self-publishers, wrote recently of author Blake Crouch’s 10 year journey through different forms of publishing – his Wayward Pines series is now a TV show. 10 seems to be a magic number, just like 3.

 

Think like a pro and be prepared to learn

Think and act and feel like a pro. No one achieves pro status without some sort of apprenticeship. Like any apprentice you have tasks to learn from other experts on the journey to craft mastery.  Joanna Penn, for example attends workshops and learns from other successful people in her field. Other pro’s do the same.

“Excellence of any kind is based upon knowledge,” says Robert McKee. “You have to do research, you have to know what it is you are trying to do. The more you understand what you are trying to do the better you will be at it. The notion you can rely in instinct is foolishness.”

 

Do the work

“Show up, show up and soon the muse shows up too”, says author Isabel Allende. Show up, put your bum on the seat, and put your pen in hand and do the work.  “You can’t actually make a living from writing if you’re not actually writing, ” says Joanna Penn – very wisely! Some authors suggest writing at a set time every day, others advocate for a more flexible approach. Know what works for you and stick to it. Determine the goals you want to achieve. Whether it’s a quota, a set amount of time to write, or a defined task to conquer, determine what you are going to do and stay at work until your done.

 

Write faster

Prolific Amazon best-selling author Steve Windsor, warns against over thinking. Write faster, he says. This is a great way to minimise the internal critic and the perfectionist. They can come out to play later, the main thing is to get down the bones, at least then you’ll have something to work with. If you have no words you have nothing to go back and edit later. Steve Windsor speaks from experience – with nine books out in eight months he knows how to be a writing machine.

 

Practice habit creep

Changing human behaviour is often considered to be one of the hardest things to do in business and in life, writes James Clear.  James studies successful people across a wide range of disciplines — entrepreneurs, artists, athletes, and more — to uncover the habits and routines that make these people the best at what they do.

What if,  he asks in a recent newsletter, we trusted that becoming more successful  came as a natural side effect of improving our normal routines? It makes absolute sense that as our normal habits improve so will our successes – whether this is because our daily word count goes up, or we churn out more books over a year, or what ever else we want to achieve.

James Clear has coined the phrase ‘habit creep’  to describe the idea of ‘slightly adjusting your habits until behaviours and results that were once out of reach become your new normal‘.

He advocates two primary ways to change long-term behaviours and improve performance for good:

  1. Increase your performance by a little bit each day. Most people take this to the extreme, he’s says.
  2. Change your environment to remove small distractions and barriers. Most people never think about this.

 

I’ve been implementing many of these strategies to increasing success. I’m breaking the task of finishing a book of fiction into manageable tasks. I’m practising habit creep and writing fast by working in 40 minute intervals of timed writing bursts, followed by 10 minutes of cardio!It’s so important as a writer not to be sedentary.

I’ve also changing location, moving out of the house and into the garden to minimise the distraction created by unlimited WIFI and interruptions at home. Look, even Golden Dream is cheer-leading me on as I write!

Watching podcasts by writing professionals, and joining writing forums and communities of writers with similar aspirations has been fabulous too, tuning up my mindset and providing me with ‘my tribe’ and a sense of belonging.

It’s day one of making these changes in my writing life, but having trained the horses to stop eating the fence in three days by making slow, incremental adjustments to their routine, I’m optimistic that I can create new habits that lasts a lifetime too.

 

Everyone gets obsessed with achieving their very best day—pulling the best score on their test, running their fastest race ever, making the most sales in the department. I say forget that stuff. Just improve your normal day and the results will take care of themselves. We naturally make long-term changes in our lives by slowly and slightly adjusting our normal everyday habits and behaviours.” ~ James Clear

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