Wednesday, June 25, 2014

A Slightly Better You

I watched my own body as it lay motionless beneath me. I hovered near the ceiling, marveling at how genuine the experience felt. It was real yet completely surreal, examining my lifeless figure on display. While hovering there, the first inklings came that I may have died.
A sense of detachment already existed, knowing it was my body but it wasn’t me. It didn’t define “me” anymore; it had just been my container and “I” was something else. An impulse compelled me to leave the body behind and move toward a light source above that was beckoning me to join it. I can’t explain how it was beckoning me but I sensed it was. As I began floating toward the light, a stubborn resistance held me back, and I remained suspended in the air for what seemed like a very long time.
“You’re safe,” a voice said. It came from the light and had a wavy resonance, like a sound made under water, making it hard to tell if the speaker was male or female.
“I am?” I heard myself reply but couldn’t sense much else except for my mind trying to determine if I was dreaming or experiencing an altered state of consciousness. The first impressions were no familiarity yet a strange feeling of relief.
“Life as you knew it has run its course.”
For some reason, I sensed it was true. The motionless body beneath me confirmed it. My life had ended—it was just over. After a moment to digest the concept, I responded with one word. “Wow.”
Imagine something like this is happening. You realize you’ve passed away and it’s a little overwhelming. This is a hypothetical discussion today, but we all know it will happen. It has to happen eventually. Thinking about death isn’t much fun, but it can change your life as it did with mine.
Even if it feels uncomfortable, take a moment to seriously imagine your life has just ended. Perhaps the end came when you were hit by a bus; maybe you drifted off in sleep at a ripe old age; maybe it happened another way. We can leave those details to you and also which version of an afterlife you experience, but for this hypothetical postmortem scenario it needs to be a conscious afterlife, not a total end of existence. Whether you are with a heavenly figure, or bathed in a brilliant light or surrounded by previously departed family and friends, simply imagine you have died and your consciousness is still intact.
Now think about this next concept, one which many survivors of near-death experiences have reported happening to them. During this afterlife, what if you were given the opportunity to reflect on your lifetime? What if you were shown events from your life, like being a witness to it, where choices were made and actions were taken or not taken? How might that make you feel?

Reflections on Your Life

If this were to happen, it seems likely the amount of money you made wouldn’t be the biggest concern. Perhaps how you interacted with family and friends would be. Was I a loving spouse, a responsible parent or even a good friend? Maybe it would be how well you took care of your body. Did I exercise enough and eat well? Did I listen to my body when it gave me signs? Perhaps you’d reflect on choices at crossroads and whether or not you chose wisely. Did I accept that opportunity presented to me? Did I take any risks, or did I act too impulsively? Maybe it would be something else, like allowing a dream or ambition to wither and fade away. Did I follow my heart? Did I give my dream a chance? Regardless of the main focus during your life-review, there might be one nagging thought, a thought I would also have because hindsight is always clearer.
I could have done better.
It’s not easy to think about. This thought brought me to tears when I truly contemplated how I could have loved my family members better or how I could have achieved my goals in life better. Perhaps you feel the same way or can sympathize. When evaluating our past choices in a hypothetical afterlife there is no winning or losing, just an interpretation of what we did and how it makes us feel.
Maybe this won’t happen to you but maybe it will. If you research enough people who have had near-death experiences, you’ll find this pattern repeating (Near Death Experience Research Foundation, 1999).
I could have done better.
The thought even makes me angry. Nobody is perfect. Nobody’s close to perfect so we always could have done better. I understand that and you do too. Let’s not get stuck there, even though it is true.
Instead think of it this way: if there will be a life-review, wouldn’t you appreciate knowing about it beforehand so you can make more effort to be better while still alive? I believe most people would, just as they’d prefer to proudly watch their better version during the hypothetical life-review.
It’s not a stretch then to make a case that this should be a focus of more people’s lives, to be a better version of themselves or even a slightly better version during the time we have left. Slightly better is a smart short-term goal. After all, nobody should expect an Ebenezer Scrooge transformation where you go from being a tyrant to a saint in one wild night.
What do you think—are you willing to give it a try? I hope you will because you’ll be joining me in something that has transformed my life. If you decide to try it, there’s no time like the present. Whether there’s a life-review or not, you probably agree that a better version of you sounds like a fine idea. I hope you are curious enough to keep reading because this book can bring about wonderful life changes.

A New Focus

Better You, Better Me. This concept has become a priority in my life. I went through the hypothetical discussion in a very real way and didn’t like what I saw. At that time I couldn’t bear the thought of my accumulated experiences being my final legacy since there was still so much more I wanted to do and fix, or at least try to do and fix. Whether or not the life-review happens, I’m going to work on being better. It’s good for me and everyone around me. Today, tomorrow, next week and so on I plan to maintain a calm focus, not an obsession, but a calm focus on personal development. Perhaps it’s the greatest thing I can focus on.
Today I will be a slightly better version of me.
This mantra enveloped me once I adopted it. Why write a book about the focus? Because I’ve experienced profound changes and felt compelled to share. The changes began to happen soon after adopting the focus. My attitude became more positive. My reasoning grew clearer. My body got healthier. Relationships felt more meaningful. Work and finances finally started to turn around. Everything in life improved as a result. The daily focus caused dramatic experiences to occur fairly quickly and spread out to each area of my life. I know it can for you too.
If you decide to adopt this mantra and focus on becoming a better version of you with occasional reminders each day, amazing things will happen. It’s not a secret or a gimmick; it’s a set of practices that works when applied. Please continue reading and find out if the ideas within this book work for you too. I can promise this much—it will be worth the small effort.
May I ask a favor? Please read this next question out loud:
“Can I be a slightly better version of me?”
I assume the answer is yes. Did it feel good saying it or make you smile? Now try saying the next sentence out loud with genuine interest:
“How can I be a slightly better me?”
This is where it gets interesting. The responses are different for everyone, even if the answers aren’t readily apparent but are percolating as subconscious blips. When you sincerely ask how you can be better, something within you perks up at the mere question. Maybe you have solid answers already in mind, or maybe you have a hunch of things to come. I hope both are true, because all of that is where we’re heading.
“What can I do to be a slightly better me?”
Simply asking questions like these is a remarkable experience of introspection. It’s shifting from a state of passively wishing for a better life to actively seeking solutions. This is how the transformations in my life occurred. The questions alone inspire greater things that are already within us and waiting to emerge. But hang on; this is a lot more than merely saying a few magic words. This is also living those words, mentally and physically applying them, even when taking baby steps toward the better you.

Key Concepts

  • Begin by describing yourself as The New Me. This book is going to talk about you changing for the better; therefore The New Me begins to exist as soon as you start altering the old one. Besides, it feels good. I think you’ll find it a refreshing way to think about yourself.
  •  Better Me and The New Me are powerful daily focuses or mantras.
  • It helps to write it down: How can I be a slightly better me? If it’s in a few places as a daily reminder, it’s easier to keep the focus.
You can use my examples or come up with your own specifics, but phrase them audibly and as questions.

Questions to Focus on Better Me

  • “What can I do to be happier?”
  • “How can I treat my body better?”
  • “What can I do to be better at my job?”
  • “How can I be a better parent?”
  • “What can I do to be a better lover?”
  • “How can I be a slightly better golfer?”
  • “How can I be a slightly better me?”
 Better You Better MeI know this is redundant, but write this one down or write down a few versions because if you don’t have the daily reminder, it’s easy to forget. Then ask the questions out loud to yourself. Phrasing them as questions gets your mind’s creative juices flowing, even at the subconscious level. The answers are often already inside you or within your grasp; questions help to reveal those answers and get results. We’ll discuss this in greater detail in the Affirmations, I AM and Asking Questions chapter.
This daily reminder, which I refer to as the focus, is the cornerstone for positive life change. It helps me to have a few versions of these little notes in places where I’ll see them throughout the day: one in my wallet, a wrinkly one in my pocket and one taped to the laptop. It enables everything else to follow. You might be surprised how soon positive changes will materialize.
Although it’s important to remember any meaningful transformation takes time and persistence to become a permanent part of you. The book is not long, but it contains a lot to think about and incorporate into your life. For that reason it isn’t meant to be read entirely in one sitting. I recommend reading it one or two chapters at a time, or one part at a time, and allowing those concepts to soak in. See if they have a similar influence on your life as they did on mine.
“How can I be a slightly better me?”
 This book is available at Amazon.

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