Friday, February 11, 2011

Deepak Chopra: "Get Outside Yourself"

Anyone who has read a leadership book in the last decade or even watched television after Michael Jackson died probably knows of Deepak Chopra. Even though I've been covering the workplace for long time, I finally had a chance to interview him.

As he answered his phone, I heard a dinging noise.

"Are you getting in your car?" I asked.

Chopra told me that indeed he was -- he was headed to the airport. While this made me a bit nervous (what if the famous Chopra had an accident because he was being interviewed by Anita Bruzzese? An image flashed on Anderson Cooper giving me the third degree..."So, is it true your questions caused him to run off the road?")

I'm glad to say the interview went off without a hitch, and this is the column I did for Gannett/USA Today:

You may think that your complaining boss or whining co-workers — or even the gloomy cubicle where you labor — are the reasons why you're not happy at work.

But according to Deepak Chopra, a leadership and spiritual guru to people from pop superstar Michael Jackson to corporate chief executives, individuals have more control over their happiness than they might believe. If you're miserable at work or in your job search, you can do something about it — and it doesn't matter who else is whining or complaining.

He says one of the easiest ways to "be happy instantly" when you're having a bad day at work or finding a job is "helping someone else."

  • "Get outside yourself," says Chopra, author or more than 55 books. "Ask someone, 'How are you feeling?' Give them appreciation. Tell someone two things you really like about them. Or, if they're having a bad time, let them know that you care what they're going through."

He also advises that we take more responsibility for having good thoughts instead of negative ones.

He suggests that when you have a stressful thought, such as thinking you'll never get the promotion or a new job, try to assess how that thought makes you feel. Then, think about how you would feel and how different your life might be if you let go of that negative thought.

Another key for developing a more positive outlook: focusing more on relationships that matter "instead of focusing on consumption, of buying things you don't need with money you don't have to impress people you don't like," he says.

In his latest book, The Soul of Leadership, (Harmony Books, $19.99), Chopra suggests also taking responsibility for how you view the world. He says that a person's soul "wants to deny you nothing," but your beliefs could be holding you back from all the possibilities in your career or life.

You can work to "reverse" beliefs that "block your future," he says:

1. When you think you're not good enough and deserve less than others, tell yourself:"The more I evolve, the more I deserve. Since evolution is unlimited, so is my deserving."

2. If you think avoidance is a good way to put off difficult decisions, think:"Postponement is never a solution. It simply freezes the problem in place. If I solve the problem now, I have my whole future to enjoy the solution."

3. If you believe that it doesn't help to focus on the things that are wrong about you, tell yourself: "Problems aren't bad. They are indications of where I need to grow. Beneath the difficulty lies a hidden ally. If I don't focus on my problems, I will miss the path of my own evolution."

4. When you tell yourself that change is hard, reverse that thinking to: "Life is nothing but change. .. change can be conscious or unconscious. Simply by becoming more aware, I have become a powerful agent of change. There is no need to force anything, only to expand my awareness."

5. If you believe that you're a prisoner of random events outside your control, change that to a belief that being controlled by anything — including randomness — makes you a victim. Tell yourself: "I have a choice to make the unknown either my friend or my enemy. As a friend, the unknown brings new life, new ideas and new possibilities. I will focus on that and let go of the rest."

6. If you believe you'd rather avoid confrontation so you can avoid making more enemies, think of an enemy as simply being another name for an obstacle: "Whenever I meet an obstacle, my soul has put it there for a purpose and has provided a solution at the same time. I don't need to focus on what another person feels about me; my aim isn't to make friends of everyone. Instead, I am here to evolve and follow the path my soul is unfolding day by day."


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