Sunday, November 29, 2009

Should-less Holidays!



It’s that time of the year again. The weather is cold, the days are short, and the advertising industry is directly and subliminally usingevery “should” in their billion dollar budget to make you feel as guilty and ashamed as possible. What are these “shoulds”? They may include:

I should give my loved ones everything they want for Christmas.

You should give me the perfect gift that I want.

Love and affection should be proven through the exchange of gifts.

I should be happier.

I shouldn’t eat too much food and gain weight.

My parents shouldn’t judge me when I go home.

I should be able to spend the money I used to have.

Families should be together.

I shouldn’t have lost my job this year.

I should be good at this stuff like other people.  



So what’s the alternative?

First,understand that you had to learn every "should" causing you stress or sadness at this moment. Not one of us popped out of our mother's womb saying, “I shouldn't have that extra cookie” or “I should be making more money.” If you learned your should, it means you can unlearn it.Try asking:

How did I learn this should? Your parents, your children, your friends, the billion dollar advertising industry?

Is this should true for everyone everywhere 24/7? Are there some who can be happy and fulfilled by not giving or receiving store bought gifts? If it’s possible for them, isn’t it possible for you?

Who is profiting off your should? Anytime,and I mean ANYTIME you feel guilty or sad there is a cash register somewhere singing. The media can make billions of dollars from making everyone feel insecure and fearful. You don’t have to give in to it.

How do you feel when you think this should?Does it bring you happiness? Peace? Hope? Or does it make you feel afraid, angry, frustrated, or depressed? You can change the way you feel by changing the way you see the holidays. If nothing else remember this: It is not the holiday that is making you feel upset, it is your“should” about the holiday that is making you feel upset.

Change It:You can try saying, “I prefer to be with my loved ones this year,” or“I can choose to make the holidays better by simply changing my mind”or “I wish I could gifts but I am a good person no matter what.”

By changing your thinking and talking about it with others you can have the very best “should-less” holiday ever.

Click here to purchase your own copy of "Absolutely Should-less: The Secret To Living The Stress-Free Life You Deserve." 

Monday, November 16, 2009

Adam Mayfield's "Shoulds"

Adam Mayfield is one of the most talented and sensitive young performers on daytime television today.  In my interview with him over at We Love Soaps, he shared with much about his role of Scott Chandler on All My Children and his struggles with insecurity and self-doubt.  Later in the interview, he discussed with me how reading, "Absolutely Should-less" has helped him to cope with these issues.

Damon L. Jacobs:  Looking back at this wild past year, what advice would you give yourself knowing what you know now?

Adam Mayfield:  Relax.  And enjoy it.  Because you’ve earned it.  Relax, you’re right where you need to be. 

Damon L. Jacobs:   When you think about that, do you really feel stressed about the material?

Adam Mayfield:  It helps tremendously.  And I don’t think I realized that until right now so I’m glad you asked me that. 

Damon L. Jacobs:   I sincerely believe our thoughts are so powerful in determining our emotional experience.

Adam Mayfield:  I agree and I wanted to touch on that.  I think what I got most out of your book was the idea of Core Beliefs.  I think if you can change you Core Beliefs, or at least identify Core Beliefs, then you can take that anywhere.  You can see that none of these thought patterns and these emotions are real, they are just mistaken beliefs that you’ve learned.  It’s that simple.  All this is is rewiring the brain, and then you can change your life.  If you can identify your Core Beliefs then you are more than half way there. 

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Productive Shoulds



"I should be getting more work done"

How many of you have sat at your desk and told yourself, "I should be getting more work done"? On the surface, there doesn't seem to be anything problematic with that idea, right?  After all, if you have goals to accomplish and responsibilities to uphold then of course you'll want to fulfill your duties.

The question comes back to, "How do you feel when you think that 'should'"?  If the feeling behind it is peaceful and joyful, then that's a beautiful thing.  But the more common feeling behind that type of "should" tends to be frustration, anxiety, stress, disappointment, and often self-anger.  How much work can you reasonably get done when you are experiencing any one of these feelings? And even if you do get the work done, what kind of shape are you going to be in by time it's completed?

There is an easier way to be more at ease and more productive.  It simply has to do with being willing to question this should, "I should be getting more work done.":


Introducing D'Ken!

It is my sincere honor (and my great luck) to introduce D'Ken Domondon as an administrator to this blog.  D'ken is generously sharing his artistic talents and aesthetic sensibilities to make this blog more fun to read, and pleasing to the eye.  As a Northern California art student, and winner of several awards on the Santa Rosa Junior College campus, it brings me great pleasure to welcome him aboard the "should-less" team.

Please take a look at his website to view his varied talents and unique vision.


Welcome D'ken! 

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

So What's The Big Deal About "Shoulds"?

In the years that I have been talking with friends, family, and clients about "shoulds," I can't tell you how many times the idea of eliminating shoulds has been mocked and challenged.  And that's all great, I have a wonderful capacity for finding the humor in things, and I do encourage serious questions.  But what is often behind these comments is the thought, "Shoulds are insignificant, they have nothing to do with how I feel."  And here is where we disagree. 

What is missing in that argument is the recognition of how language shapes reality.  The words we use play a significant role in our perceptions, how we see ourselves, how we relate to others, and how we approach the world.

For example, let's say I don't get a job I've applied for.  I can use my words to tell myself and others, "I'm no good, I'm inadequate, I'll never get what I want."  And if I'm using those words to describe that situation, then I'm mostly likely going to experience depression, hopelessness, regret.  Now let's take the same scenario.  This time I come away from not getting a job by saying, "Although that's disappointing, it is no reflection on me, and it just means something better is waiting for me."  What is the experience that follows from saying that?  I will feel hope, optimism, peace.  And if I go into my next interview with hope, optimism, and peace, how much more likely is it I'll get considered for that job?

The same thing applies when we are broken-hearted.  You can say, "I'll never love again," or "I'll be okay with or without a partner."  It's that easy.  One results in hopelessness, the other results in empowerment.  Which one do your prefer? 

I've had people say to me, "But if I'm getting what I want, what's wrong with saying 'I should be getting what I want'?"  Nothing is inherently "wrong" about that.  If your experience is happy, joyful, fulfilling, and peaceful, and you have found a way to use "should" to get you there, then that is a beautiful thing.  Unfortunately, "shoulds" are usually in conflict with what is truly happening in reality.  The numerous comments people left under the "Give Up Your Should Day" post can attest to that. 

Language does shape human perception, it always has.  If it is your intention to have more happiness and joy in your life, then challenging common "shoulds" is one way to get there.  It may not be the only way, but it's a simple, fast, efficient tool for reducing stress and misery in the here and now.  My hope is that by writing Absolutely Should-less and keeping up this blog that we will all be reminded the power of language, and use that power to help ourselves and others.  

Monday, November 2, 2009

The Day After: Was It Good For You?

I want to first give a huge shout-out and THANK YOU to all those who participated in the 2nd Annual Give Up Your Should Day.

Now, in the days after, I want to hear from you again.  Please let me know how it felt to give up your "should" on this day, and if you decided to pick that "should" back up on Monday, November 2nd, or if you have continued to let it go.  Even if you did not leave a comment yesterday, you are welcome to participate in this part.



Remember by participating you are entered to win a signed copy of "Absolutely Should-less" or a "Should-less" T-shirt.  Good luck! 

Sunday, November 1, 2009

2nd Annual Give Up Your "Should" Day!

The Second Annual
Give Up Your "Should" Day
Is Here!


Thank you for coming! It is my deepest hope that by giving up at least one "should" for today that you will realize you have the ability and the right to have more peace and joy in your life anytime you choose. This is especially important to remember with the holiday season quickly approaching.


So for today, please use the comments section here to list at least one "should" you will give up for November 1st. Then of course you are welcome to pick it back up on November 2nd if you choose. If you want to be entered into a drawing for a signed copy of Absolutely Should-less or a "Should-less" T-shirt, then make sure you leave your e-mail address here, or send it to me at shouldless@gmail.com.


Good Luck! And enjoy your "should-less" day!

Saturday, October 31, 2009

Should-less Halloween


Earlier this afternoon I found myself experiencing a considerable amount of anxiety and irritability. In my experience I can always pinpoint a "should" that is directly responsible for this kind of suffering. Today, my "should" was:

It's Halloween, it's a Saturday night, we get an extra hour, so I should go out.

So with the help of my book, "Absolutely Should-less," I did some questioning:

How did you learn this should?
I learned it from the culture around me that reminds I should be social and extroverted on a Saturday night, especially if it's a holiday and I can get extra sleep. The media is constantly telling me I should want go out, spend money I don't have, and party the night away.
Is this should true for everyone?
Absolutely not. There are plenty of happy people who do not go out on Halloween.
Who is profiting off your should?
Certainly the bars, the clubs, the restaurants I would go to, the cabs I'd end up taking (despite my best intention to use the subway).
How do you feel when you think this should?
Anxious, inadequate, miserable, socially inept.
What would Halloween be like without this should?
It would be great! It would be peaceful, fun, joyful, whether I go out or not.
Replace it...
I could go out tonight. I might go out. Or I could stay in and prepare for my WeLoveSoaps video shoot tomorrow with Alex Evan Cole. No matter what I do, I have a choice to have fun, or be miserable. That choice is mine.


And with that I feel better. I'm still not sure what I'm going to do, but I realize that if I make a choice based on "shoulds" then I will be unhappy. Wouldn't it be easier just to be honest with myself and do something that feels right?

Friday, October 30, 2009

Q & A for Give Up Your Should Day

Question: What is this thing all about?
Answer: This is the second annual "Give Up Your Should Day." It is a chance for people to go one day giving up a "should" about themselves or about others that is causing stress. Just one day! If people want to go back to shoulding on November 2nd they are welcome to do so.

Question: Why is it on November 1st?
Answer: Because November 1st marks the beginning of the holiday season. Or to put it another way, this is when the media's campaign to make you feel as horrible as possible kicks in. If you start by giving up one should on November 1st, then I promise your holiday season will be better!

Question: Where have you been? You've been ignoring this blog for months. If you cannot find time for us, why should we find time for you and buy your books?
Answer: Great question! Although I don't believe anyone "should" buy my book about "shoulds," I do think it will help people get through all of life's struggles regardless of whether I'm blogging or not. I have been very wonderfully busy this past summer doing interviews and commentaries at We Love Soaps.net. There I do interviews with people on screen, behind the scenes, theater reviews, as well as cover events such as the 36th Annual Daytime Emmy's and Broadway Cares If the names Jacklyn Zeman, Harding Lemay, Suzanne Rogers, Claire Labine, James DePaiva, Lynn Herring, Colleen Zink Pinter, Jessica Leccia, or Van Hansis mean anything to you, check out my features here.

Question: So are you focusing on "shoulds" or "soaps" now?
Answer: Both! My work on "shoulds" has been more offline, as I am working on a new book about "Should-less Relationships." So both are getting lots of attention, it's just the soap work is more obvious and public.



To participate in Give Up Your Should Day:


Leave a comment on this blog on November 1st telling me which should(s) you are going to give up for that one day. Then come back over the next week and tell me what that day was like. If you want to win a signed copy of "Absolutely Should-less" or win a T-shirt, then make sure you leave an e-mail address where I can find you.




[p.s. - If you want to continue to give up that "should" after November 1st you are welcome to do that too!]

Give Up Your "Should" Day!

Hey everyone! After a long break this blog is back, alive and kicking!

And it's just in time for the second annual Give Up Your "Should" Day! Yes, November 1st is the return of this yearly event. For one day, you are invited to give up a certain "should" that leads to stress, guilt, misery, or any sort of sadness. Some examples of "shoulds" people gave up last year included:

I should clean the house
I should go to the gym
I should be making more money
I should lose weight
I shouldn't still be grieving this loss


And many many more. Remember, a "should" is any rigid thought you carry about yourself, the people around you, and the world. It is NOT necessarily tied to your action. For example, you could give up your "should" about going to the gym, and then still go to the gym. It's not about what you do or don't do, it's about the thoughts and beliefs you are carrying as you move through you life.

So here's how this works: Come back to this blog on Sunday, November 1st, and tell me which "should" you are giving up for the day [you are welcome to give up more than one!]. Then during the next week come back to this blog and tell me what that one day was like. Several lucky participants will even win a "Should-less" T-shirt!



C'mon, it will be fun! If you have more questions feel free to write me at shouldless@gmail.com.
Good luck!

Saturday, August 15, 2009

Should-less Inspiration: Louise Sorel


Louise Sorel is a wonderful and spirited actress who is known best by soap fans for her memorable roles as Augusta Lockridge on Santa Barbara, and the irrepressible Vivian Alamain on Days Of Our Lives. Fans of primetime television may remember her notable appearances on Charlie's Angels, Kojak, and even the original incarnation of Star Trek.

I had the chance to sit down and interview Ms. Sorel in Manhattan two weeks ago. The woman I met was not only an articulate and hysterically funny entertainer, but also a profoundly deep and soul-filled artist. She is struggling to find the balance in her life between staying true to her own voice, and conforming to other's expectations. She is trying to act up and fight for animal rights while not becoming overwhelmed and consumed with tragedy and outrage. She is on this journey, like most of us, to live an authentic and meaningful existence, while frequently clashing with outside forces.

As someone who is also trying to find his voice in this world, I found her hopeful and inspiring. I gave her a copy of Absolutely Should-less, hoping that the ideas about "shoulds" may help her to find more peace and grounding within herself as she carries forward with her passions and her struggles. Will it help? We'll see. But I was reminded during this interview just how much a connection with another soul can renew my momentum and energy. And this has helped me to make some important decisions coming up in my own life.

Please check out my interview with Louise Sorel here.

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Should-less Relationship Principle #5: Friendship

It never fails to astound me how frequently people choose to be in relationships with people they don’t like. Why would someone voluntarily spend time with someone they can’t stand? To get to the bottom of this I think it important to once again explore what you have learned about what relationships “should” look like.

If you learned from parents or primary caretakers that two people in a relationship are meant to argue and “should” each other over and over, then you are likely to carry that idea into your own relationships as an adult. I have heard many people approach dating like an Olympic sport—there is competition over who is “better”, who is smarter, who makes more money, who is more successful. There are rules, there is game playing, and there are definitely winners and a losers.

Then, once in a relationship, the competition gets kicked up notch. Conflicts become the norm, arguing is the primary means of communication, and manipulation is the strategy for getting your “needs” met. These kinds of unions frequently employ high stakes drama, ie, screaming, yelling, door slamming, dish breaking, phone hanging-up, as a habitual form of expression.

A big problem with that is that high stakes drama is hard to sustain, and often has to be escalated in order for each member to achieve the “high” they felt last time. This is frequently the point when I see violence enter into a relationship. Hitting rarely comes out of the blue, it is usually a natural outgrowth of the kind of aggressive and competitive patterns described above. This is not to say that it is ever excusable or acceptable to batter a partner. But it is important that we understand the “shoulds” and aggressive communication styles that lead up to violence being introduced into a relationship, in order to prevent them from continuing.

The good news is there is a much easier and more enjoyable way to relate to others. What if you had a relationship with someone that was based in friendship, agreement, and honor? What if you and your significant other were able to drop the “shoulds” about one another and instead focused on respecting differences, creating a supportive union, and supporting each other’s hopes and dreams? What if your partner was best friend?

These are the goals of being in a should-less relationship. In many ways, having your primary partner as your best friend may seem counterintuitive. After all, isn’t your best friend usually the one to whom you would confess your secrets, your fears, your guilty pleasures? Yes, they would, and in a relationship void of “shoulds” there is possibility for this to happen as well.


Some key questions to clarify this are:

- Do I like my partner?
- Do I choose to spend spare time with my partner?
- If I’m upset or sad do I want to turn to my partner for comfort?
- If something great happens, do I want to tell my partner?
- When I’m sick, do I want my partner to take care of me?
- Do I feel just as loving and concerned about my partner as I do my friends or my pets?
- Do I trust my partner?
- Am I able to accept my partner’s point of view even when it is different from my own?
- Do I feel equal to my partner?
- Am I feeling happy when I’m with my partner?



If you answered “no” to one or more of the questions above, then you may seriously want to examine if this is the right person for you. Again, the goal of this blog isn’t to tell you who you “should” be with, but it is to give you some guidelines and tools for deciphering with whom you can happily and peacefully share your life. If you don’t like the person you are with, it can make it very difficult to experience the fun and enjoyment that you deserve.

Tuesday, August 4, 2009

Should-less Relationship Principle #4: Setting Your Own Rules

Should-less relationships create their own standards and set their own rules.

Way too often, we assume that the people we are dating and connecting with share the same values as ourselves. These values may include everything and anything from where to live, what to eat, what kind of friends to have, how to spend leisure time. They may also relate to values such as child rearing, monogamy, spending money, addressing medical care. If you are automatically assume that the person you are with has the same standards and priorities as yourself, then you could be in for a some disappointment.

Of course we always want to think that our way of doing things is definitely the “right” way to do it. You may have learned the toilet paper “should” get pulled from over the top, and your partner may be absolutely convinced it should be from under. It might be easy to laugh how such an issue can be a source of strife between two people, but then think about what happens when the conflict comes down to money, sex, or taking care of an elderly relative. How do you negotiate who is “right” and how things “should” be?

The obvious answer in a blog about living “should-less” is that there are no absolutely right or wrong answers to any of these issues. Or to put it another way, there is no rule book telling you and your partner how you should live, what you should do, and what decisions you should make. You and your significant other are completely responsible for figuring out together what standards and agreements you are going to follow. From toilet paper to toddlers, from marriage to monogamy, you are setting your self up for failure if you automatically assume your partner is going to follow the same set rules as yourself. Unless you are living in a cult or a compound (and then unlikely reading this), you are living in a diverse society where societal values and norms are changing constantly. If you want the satisfaction and peace that a loving relationship has to offer you, then you may wish to create a set of agreements and standards with your partner that is agreeable for both of you.



As an example:

Should-filled relationship:  You should come with me to visit my mother on Sunday, that’s simply what good people do.

Should-less relationship: I would like your company when I visit my mother on Sunday. I hope you’ll come with me. But either way I choose to be at peace and hope you’ll make the choice that is right for you.




In the “should-filled” example, the speaker is trying to use “should” and social conformity to control what their partner does. In the “should-less” example, the speaker accepts that their partner may or may not come with them, but respects them either way, knowing that there are no hard and fast rules about visiting someone’s mother that everyone in a diverse society will agree upon. The speaker is practicing acceptance, staying in the here-and-now, and taking full responsibility for her or his own mood state.

What do you think? Is this more "BS"? Or is there some merit to communicating and co-creating standards with your loved one? Please, discuss!

Monday, August 3, 2009

Feast of Fun!

I had such a fun time visiting Chicago this weekend, and talking with the wonderful wacky boys of Feast Of Fun. Fausto Fernos and Marc Felion took Matt and myself to Halsted Market Days, introduced us to some wonderful locals, and even took us partying with Kristine W.!

On the podcast you'll get to hear the four of us discuss issues related to Should-less relationships, as well as Amazon's privacy rules (or lack thereof?), a heart-warming story of a dog's homecoming, and discussions of which of your loved one's body part you'd like to use as an urn. Don't miss it!

Please press here to listen to it, and feel free to leave comments below!

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Should-less Relationships Principle #3: Responsibility

Should-less relationships encourage responsibility for one’s own wellness.

Think about all the reasons you have for getting involved with another person. Is it for safety? Security? Stability? To avoid loneliness? To avoid emptiness? Have you ever stayed with someone simply because the relationship itself had become a habit?

If you answered “yes,” or even “maybe,” to any of these questions then fasten your seat belts, it’s going to be a bumpy ride. Because anytime, yes anytime, you are using another human being to make you feel something or give you something you think you don’t already have, then you are setting yourself up for a roller coaster of emotional turmoil, stress, resentment, and most likely emptiness.

Now before you push the "x" button on this page, please consider the following. As long as you tell yourself that your needs “should” be met by another person, you are giving someone else complete control of your emotional state. I am inviting you now to simply take a look at the active role you are playing in the story of your suffering, and encouraging you to assume more ownership in this process.

In order to this, we must first acknowledge a fundamental idea that runs consistently in nearly every book, movie, song, or even fairy tale about love and romance. It states, “I am not enough alone. Another person should come into my life and make me whole. Another person should meet my needs.” Sound familiar? Most of us in American society have been directly and indirectly inundated with this message. It goes as far back to the idea of Romeo & Juliet's tragic love story, Snow White waiting for the prince to wake her up, to Renee Zelwigger telling Tom Cruise, “You complete me,” to nearly any movie playing now or song you’ll hear on the radio. If you have ever believed you are not enough and need to be “completed” by another person, then you have been bought and sold a bill of goods by the corporate media.

Why would they do this? Why would someone knowingly make you believe something that is bound to lead to suffering, disappointment, or heart ache? Because they know you will buy things when you feel bad about yourself. If I’m trying to sell a movie script which will give single people hope, then I damn well better make sure that there are a lot of miserable single people out there who need hope. I’ll do everything in my power to make single people feel less than or inadequate in order to get to them to spend their good money to see my movie. Given this context, it makes perfect sense that you or I or that person next to you are all saying, “Other people should meet my needs.”

What follows, then, is a natural tendency to blame others for the way you feel. After all, if other people are here to meet your needs, and they’re failing to do that, then they deserve to be blamed, shamed, maimed, or whatever it takes for them to fall in line and get busy attending to your mood state, right?

The good news, it simply doesn’t have to be that way. There are much easier ways to be in relationships with others. By taking responsibility for your own needs, for your own moods, for your own sense of purpose and wellness, you are opening the door to experiencing all kinds of wonderful connections with others. When you approach other people from a place of fullness, instead of emptiness, you will find that spending quality time with others will result in much more fun, joy, and peace.

People in should-less relationships do not meet each other’s needs, they expand upon what is already there. Individuals enter into this relationship realizing they already are lovable, stable, adequate, and deserving. Other people may help to increase these qualities, but they do not fill them or make them true. Or to put it another way, people in should-less relationships don’t wait to be brought flowers, they bring their own. If someone else offers them, then that’s great, there are more flowers in the room! But either way, each member takes responsibility for their own garden with or without the contributions of the other.

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Should-less Relationships Principle #2: Staying in the Present

Should-less relationships focus on the present moment instead of the past

How many times have you been annoyed with someone for doing something wrong, and then found yourself recalling all the similar incidents where that person did the same thing? You then use past incidents and events to add “evidence” to the current situation to convince yourself and others that that person is really and truly messed up.

It is completely human nature to believe that the past should be used to understand what is happening the here and now. Especially when you’re confused, angry, or upset, it can seem like the most natural thing to recall all the times and places and ways that your partner has done the same exact thing. The search for blame and fault in others will always be successful. The problem is, focusing on what has happened before leads to anger, fury and resentments. That’s fine and good if you want to have a relationship that involves fighting and drama. But if you’re reading this blog, then you probably know there can be a better way.

I understand how much you want to be “right” in your arguments, and how the past can usually be twisted and distorted in a way which will serve your point. Being “right” can sometimes feel like a drug high—you literally can get pumped and feel invincible when you use the past to argue how completely unequivocally right you are. You can always look back and remember the times your partner should have called, when she should have been on time, when he should have put the toilet seat down; these examples are steadily there for the taking. But I also understand that being “right” in your position can often shame and demoralize the person you are with, which can then lead to them continuing to do very things you think they “shouldn’t” be doing.

There is an easier way to be in relationships, but it does entail giving up that high. It is by staying completely in the present, letting go of the past, letting go of cocaine-fueled righteousness, and working collaboratively with another person. This can be very hard if you’re not used to it. Here’s an example of two very different approaches to take when your significant other is late picking up the kids:

Should-filled relationship: I can’t believe you were late again! You shouldn’t keep the kids waiting like that. How can you be so inconsiderate? This just happened two weeks ago, and the month before that. Why can’t you get it right?
Should-less relationship: I know you were late picking up the kids again. What happened? Can I help you to be more on time? I know you’re doing your best, let’s try to work together so this doesn’t keep happening.


Which one of these responses is more likely to illicit a change in someone’s actions? By focusing on what is happening in the present you are much more likely to convey loving respect, honor, and more likely to get the outcome you prefer. You may be reading the above examples and thinking, “Well it’s really all in the way someone says these things.” And you would be right! You can say either one of the statements above with judgment or sarcasm, or with compassion and respect.

How does one stay in the present? First of all, pay attention to how you are reacting to your significant other when s/he makes a mistake. If you find your level of frustration or anger goes beyond what the actual here-and-now situation calls for, you may be dragging you past into it. Stop right away, and ask yourself, “What is absolutely true in this moment.” In the above example, you may say, “What is true in this moment? Partner is late to pick up kids today. That’s it.” Notice how different that feels, and talk about this with the person you are with. In my case just telling my partner what I was going through made a world of difference and helped me to come back to the present much faster.

Is there ever a time when the past is helpful? Absolutely, but it completely depends on your intent. If you are trying to dig up the past to shame and guilt someone into behaving differently, then you are likely to end up bitter and rejected. Unfortunately, even if you use this argument to “win”, then you have already lost. For the sake of experiencing all the joy a should-less relationship has to offer, I encourage you to try keeping your focus in the here-and-now, and practice more of the acceptance that was discussed in yesterday's blog post.

Sunday, July 26, 2009

Should-less Relationship Principle #1: Acceptance

Should-less relationships promote acceptance of others and ourselves.

Acceptance is an essential element in having any type of relationships with others. Please note: There is nothing here that says you have to like every aspect of the person you are with. But if you wish to have happier, more peaceful, and more satisfying experiences with others, then you had better learn some ways to accept other humans for who they are, versus who you want them to be.

This may seem completely opposite to what seems right and logical to you. If this sounds completely nuts, then it would could be beneficial for you to consider how you have learned what you think you know about being in a relationship with another person. Everything you know about being in with other people is something you learned along the way. None of us were born into this world saying, “My husband should pick up his underwear off the floor.” Somewhere along the way you learned this. You may not remember when and where, you may have been too young to exactly recall how you received these message. But now that you’re reading this blog you are aware you have a choice about how to see your partner, and how to react.

Unfortunately, most of us have learned that being in a relationship means that you “should” change someone else. Movies such as “My Fair Lady” or “Grease” powerfully convey the notion that a woman should fundamentally alter everything about herself in order to be loved. Daytime talk shows brutally reinforce this notion with special “makeover” episodes which convey messages that one’s value is in her appearance. Comedians frequently utilize the joke about a spouse that “should” change for comic fodder.

Along with these messages inevitably comes the idea that you should change yourself in order to be loved. You should lose weight, dress better, make more money, drive a better car, learn to be a better lover, get rid of wrinkles, know all the right things to say, go to a prestigious university, see the right movies, all so you can get others to like you. See anything wrong with this picture?

Acceptance is the complete opposite of using “shoulds” on yourself and the people around you. It means that you allow all things to be as they are, even if you don’t like how they are in this moment. You stop fighting with reality, and acknowledge that other people are doing their best even if you don’t like how they are doing it. Or as Dolly Parton may say, “It’s all wrong but it’s alright.”
In order to practice acceptance, you must be willing to be humble. This does not entail thinking less of yourself or anyone else, it’s quite the opposite. Being humble simply means you acknowledge, I do not truly know how others should be. I may think I do, but I am not God and do not know everything.” Try saying that three times. How did that feel? It may initially feel scary to make such a proclamation. But over time you will most likely feel a sense of relief. When you let go of knowing how things “should” be and how other people “should” act, you will most likely experience more peace and freedom in your relationships with others.

To some this may sound like, “Fine, you’re saying that I can just let every one do what they want even if it hurts me or really annoys me.”

Not at all! Being in a “should-less relationship” doesn’t mean you “lie down and take it.” If you were to become a doormat for other people’s problems then that certainly would not promote fulfillment in your connections with others. The goal of practicing acceptance is to find peace, not to create more suffering. Sometimes this means learning a different way to communicate concerns or frustrations. For example,:

Should-filled relationship: You’re really messing up your credit, Nicole. You should stop spending money you don’t have, and you should stop being so damned materialistic. You’re really going to be in trouble if you keep going like that, and don’t think I’ll be there to bail you out when you do.
Should-less relationship: I’m concerned about some of the choices you’re making, Nicole. Your spending seems to be hurting you, and could hurt your credit rating in the long run. Can we talk about your options right now? I can’t do this for you, but together we can discuss healthier steps.


What are the differences you see in these examples? In the first the speaker sounds angry, annoyed, and emotionally invested in the spending choices Nicole makes. In the second example, the speaker is aware of the problem, concerned, willing to take action to help, but ultimately allows Nicole to find her own way without such a strong emotional investment. Which example allows the speaker to practice acceptance and feel more peaceful?

“But Nicole may still go out and destroy her credit.” Yes, this is true, and will be true regardless of how much stress and agony the speaker is going through. In the first example, the speaker uses anger and shame to get Nicole to break down her will. In the second example, the speaker uses compassion and respect to encourage Nicole to make better decisions. In my experience, people are more motivated to make healthy choices when they are feeling appreciated and respected.

Either way you have a choice in how you want to be in your own relationship. If you are looking for ways to change yourself and/or your partner, then you are a bound to feel stressed out, resentful, and frustrated in your relationships. If you are willing to accept other people, "warts" and all, then you are on your way to having a lot more fun.

And We're Back!

Dear Should-less Readers,

The rough draft of "Absolutely Should-less in Relationships" is completed, and I am so excited to share samples and ideas in this blog in the upcoming weeks. I really believe this book will be of assistance to ANYONE who is in a relationship, has ever been in a relationship, or received "Shoulds" from others about being in a relationship. I believe that connections with others can be fun, joyful, and peaceful, but all too often we make them complicated and stressful. If you're not sure if this is right for you, try asking yourself if you have ever said the following:



Being with me in a relationship means you "should"...

- Like the same friends as I do
- Enjoy the same foods as I do
- Go to the same kind of movies
- Watch the same TV shows
- Spend all your available spare time with me
- Always talk about your feelings when I ask
- Enjoy the same games I do
- Agree with me in front of others
- Return my calls, texts, or e-mails, as soon as possible
- Visit my family with me
- Practice the same religion or spirituality as me
- Never make a serious mistake
- Have the same political views as me
- Have sex with me a certain amount of times each week
- Enjoy the same things I do on weekends
- Dislike the same people I do
- Feel the same way about marriage
- Make more money than me
- Make less money than me
- Be sexually monogamous
- Call me a certain amount of times every day
- Not go out for fun without me
- Have grown up with the same values as I did
- Like the same kind of music I do
- Feel the same way I do about having children
- Keep in physical shape
- Cut your foods a certain way
- Have your full attention focused on me when we’re together
- Put the toilet seat down
- Like the same sports I do
- Tell me everything you’re thinking, including what you discuss in therapy
- Have the same standards of cleanliness as I do
- Enjoy doing the same things as me on our vacation together
- Squeeze the toothpaste the same way I do
- Stay in bed with me after we have sex
- Love my pets
- Be willing to dance with me at weddings
- Take care of me if I feel sick
- Stand up for me if I’m attacked by someone
- Be healthy
- Not have your own friends apart from me
- Meet my needs



Anyone of these "shoulds" can be a significant barrier to you having the stress-free relationship you deserve. Please keep reading in upcoming weeks for ideas, tips, and fun tools, that will help you learn how joyful and satisfying connections with others. And PLEASE feel free to leave comments, for this helps us to learn and grow from each other.

Tuesday, July 7, 2009

We Love Soaps Podcast


The first podcast is done! I had so much fun sitting down with these two wonderful intelligent guys and talkin' soaps. Please give us a listen at WeLoveSoaps.net or "Welovesoaps" on iTunes and tell me what you think!

Saturday, July 4, 2009

Should-less Holidays


Earlier this afternoon I found myself experiencing a considerable amount of anxiety and irritability. In my experience I can always pinpoint a "should" that is directly responsible for this kind of suffering. Today, my "should" was:

It's the 4th of July, it's a Saturday night, I should go out.


So with the help of my book, "Absolutely Should-less," I did some questioning:

How did you learn this should?
I learned it from the culture around me that reminds I should be social and extroverted on a Saturday night, especially if it's a holiday. The media is constantly telling me I should want go out, spend money, watch fireworks, and party the night away.
Is this should true for everyone?
Absolutely not. There are plenty of happy people who do not go out on the 4th of July,
Who is profiting off your should?
Certainly the bars, the clubs, the restaurants I would go to, the cabs I'd end up taking (despite my best intention to use the subway).
How do you feel when you think this should?
Anxious, inadequate, miserable.
What would the 4th of July be like without this should?
It would be great! It would be peaceful, fun, joyful, whether I go out or not.
Replace it...
I could go out tonight. I might go out. Or I could stay in and prepare for my WeLoveSoaps podcast on Monday. No matter what I do, I have a choice to have fun, or be miserable. That choice is mine.


And with that I feel better. I'm still not sure what I'm going to do, but I realize that if I make a choice based on "shoulds" then I will be unhappy. Wouldn't it be easier just to be honest with myself and do something that feels right?

Monday, June 29, 2009

He Loves Soaps!

To my Should-less friends,

As promised a few weeks back, I have some very exciting news to share. Starting this week I will begin making regular contributions at WeLoveSoaps.net, a fun and fabulous daily-updated website that is dedicated to honoring the passionate soap loving fan. I will be getting an opportunity to do interviews and features which promise to deliver messages of hope, inspiration, and tools to survive life's challenges in this confusing world. And of course, there will be some juicy dirt too!

Starting July 7th, Roger Newcomb, Michael Goldberg and myself will begin producing a regular podcast which will feature news items, unique perspectives, and fascinating interviews with the stars on screen and those behind the camera. You know if I'm involved there will also be some heated debates and "should-less" ideas thrown into the mix. The links to the shows will be featured here, as well as on WeLoveSoaps.net.


My other big news is that I have a solid rough draft of the next book done, and will be using this column to test out some passages. The public comments and private e-mails I have received have helped me to find new ways to communicate and write about issues that are relevant and meaningful in daily lives, especially in relationships.

So please check back here during the week to read "should-less" tips, samples from the next book, and the back stories behind the features you can listen and read and WeLoveSoaps.net. And if I don't say it enough, thank you to EVERYONE who has been coming back and reading, I appreciate your patience!

Sunday, June 28, 2009

I See Should-less Dead People

It's hard out there to be a celebrity this week. As I've been home writing, it seems like one famous person after another has been dropping dead. Now that I'm going back to work tomorrow I'm hoping this pattern stops.

What has been perplexing about seeing the news unfold "live" about these deaths is witnessing how differently people get treated once they are gone. Michael Jackson was treated like a monster for the past 16 years of his life who "should" act "normal." Farrah Fawcett frequently was the target of many jokes regarding her erratic public appearances, and how she "should" sober up. And Billy Mays wasn't even on the radar of mainstream media outlets until his death.Why is that when people are alive they are held to unreasonable standards, but are allowed to be "should-less" once they are gone? Isn't it hypocritical to persecute someone in life, then idolize them in death? Why does someone have to die young to catch a break?

For me these public deaths serve as a reminder that nothing is permanent, time is precious, and my "shoulds" about others are simply wasted. Why do I have to wait until someone is gone to appreciate to them? I'm going to focus this week on valuing the positive qualities of the people around me. Because as we've seen from last week, we may not get a chance to do it tomorrow.

Sunday, June 14, 2009

Message From The Should-less Guy


To the wonderful loyal readers of this blog,

Thank you so much for your dedicated viewings. I apologize for being a bit neglectful lately. Blogging presents an interesting paradox for me - on one hand I have an outlet to communicate ideas, question old beliefs, and share day-to-day struggles with should-less living. On the other hand, I am amazingly bereft of Deep Thoughts at times.

I recently found myself amused at all the "shoulds" I had about keeping up a "should-less" blog. The truth is: working a full time job, writing the next book, and maintaining some type of social life have all contributed to this column not being regularly updated. I could theoretically put up random non-shouldless material from time-to-time, but realized that would not be consistent with the reason I created this blog in the first place.

So I am committing to maintain quality commentaries whenever the hell the mood strikes me. I thank the readers of the blog for being so patient as the next book about "should-less" relationships is being written. And for the soap fans, I have some very exciting news coming up in the next few weeks.

All the best,
Damon

Monday, June 1, 2009

You Asked ... James DePaiva Answered

Some wonderful fans had questions for the articulate and outspoken James DePaiva (ex-Max Holden on One Life To Live) based on the interview that was printed here. His responses are listed below:

Q: "Is there any one other than your wife, male or female, that you keep in touch with in the show or have a special relationship with?"
James DePaiva: I still keep in close contact with Bob Krimmer (Rev. Andrew). He is a very dear and important friend to me. I also see Susan Batten (Luna) quite often. She has an apartment in the same building and she married a lifelong friend of Kassies from Kentucky. They are only in NY part-time so we try to get together when they are around.

Q: "How did you feel when Asa passed away in real life? Did you have a relationship with him outside the show?"
James DePaiva: My relationship with Phil Carey was pretty much only at the show (except for the many visits to the local bar after the show). Of course, for many of those years, the show was our life.
I was very saddened by the passing of Phil (as well as Clint). They were both tremendous in their roles and were crucial to the biggest successes of OLTL. I was a big fan of both before I came to OLTL, so it was a thrill to work with them and to get to know them on a personal level.

Q: "Of all the women that Max was with during his years at “OLTL” which one do you think Max was the most in love with? Luna? Roxy? Blair? Or somebody else?"
James DePaiva: Max was too fickle for me to make a choice. Whichever woman he wanted at the time, was the love of his life. I think the fact he ended up alone, is a testament to his inability to have a love of his life. He had a love of his moment, of his conquest.
I suppose an argument could be made for Luna, but she died too soon, so we'll never know if Max could have sustained his passion for her. In reality, the love of his life was whoever the producers and writers thought it should be.
From my perspective the most important thing to me, was the incredibly talented, beautiful, hysterically funny and inventive group of actresses I got to play with. I was truly blessed with an amazingly diverse collections of playmates. If asked to choose a favorite, I'd have to say, "who am I with today?"

Q: "So are you interested in doing any directing? also, besides playing your guitar, what else are you doing with your time?"
James DePaiva: I would love to direct another film. Other than guitar, I have devoted a lot of time to developing my voice. I am currently auditioning for voice-overs and am in development for an Off-broadway musical. I've had the occasional theater job. I have been Mr. Mom for the last 5 yrs.. In addition to that, too many hobbies, skills and passions involving our country home life to mention.

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

"You should stop bugging me."


One of the pleasures of strolling around Manhattan is getting to eavesdrop on other people's conversations. Sometimes it's a long dialogue on the subway, or sometimes it's just hearing snippets of an argument while passing on the sidewalk. The latter happened for me yesterday on 49th street.

I was heading down the street and passed a young man and woman who appeared to be engaging in a round of fooling around / horseplay, with a mixture of affection and anger mixed in. He kept trying to touch her, she laughed while pulling away from him and complaining, "You should stop bugging me!" Yet every time she pulled away, she moved right back toward him.

Was I seeing a couple in love? A couple in hate? A couple in heat? Or some combination thereof? It occurred to me that in so many relationships these elements are intertwined. Clearly she carried "shoulds" about him not bugging her, then did every thing in her power to make sure he would bug her. I was reminded how common it is for so many to use "shoulds" to complain about their significant other, then use their behavior to ensure that the action continues.

Is this a "healthy" way to be with another person? I certainly can't say what works for anyone else, but it sure doesn't seem like a peaceful way to me. My next book discusses how "should-less" relationships can bring fun, peace, and enjoyment to every day interactions, as opposed to stress, attack, and annoyance. Which one do you prefer?

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

If You Love Me You "Should"...

Be Monogamous

On the surface of it, this seems like a common expectation, isn't it? After all, in most marriage ceremonies there is usually a line involving "forsaking all others until death do you part." It makes sense that when an idea is so deeply ingrained culturally that it would play out in the form of "shoulds" in individual relationships.

The only problem with this is that a large amount of unions/partnerships are not monogamous in practice. From Elliot Spitzer, to Bill Clinton, to Matthew Broderick, to John F. Kennedy, to Brad Pitt, we are constantly being reminded that monogamous long-term relationships may in fact not be the norm.

What if there was a way to have an open and honest conversation with your wife/husband/significant other/partner about the realities of monogamy, without the "shoulds?" Wouldn't it be great for two people in a relationship to come together and honestly communicate preferences, wants, and desires, without judgments and without shame? Many couples are in fact doing more of this, and navigating the murky waters of "cheating" vs. "having an agreement."

In order to successfully do this, each person must drop their "shoulds." They must challenge what they've learned about relationships from their families, friends, culture, society, and be willing to have a possibly uncomfortable conversation with the person they care about. Remember, none of us were born into this world declaring, "I should find one person and only have sex with them the rest of my life." This is a learned belief, and one that seems to be in conflict with reality for many relationships.

Instead of judging that, talk about it. The more a couple communicates, the less likely there will be lying or deceit. The more they talk about their feelings, the less likely they will experience feeling betrayed and hurt. And wouldn't that be so much easier ?

Friday, May 15, 2009

So given that we have countless books and "experts" out there trying to help people succeed in relationships, why do we keep screwing it up?

The answer to this is that our own thoughts and belief systems have put up barriers to our ability to bond and connect with others. More precisely, it is our “shoulds” that lead us to feel alienated from each other, angry at one another, isolated, and afraid. “Shoulds” are rigid expectations that we carry around, usually outside of our immediate awareness. But if you have ever had a relationship that suffered because you judged your partner’s behavior, acted out of anger against someone, or even because you carried any kind of grudge, then you have experienced the consequences of carrying such “shoulds,” and this is the right blog for you.

Stay tuned!

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Should-less Relationships

Relationships don’t have to be THAT hard. We are all walking around on this earth trying to connect with others, trying to build meaningful and satisfying bonds with others. But for so many there is something getting in the way of this experience, something preventing individuals and couples from having the joyful life they want and deserve.

You would think it would be different by now. After all, humans have been roaming the planet for billions of years, SOMEHOW we’ve made it this far. We now have more ways than ever to stay connected: cell phones, e-mails, text messaging, access to travel. Go to any bookstore and you’ll find dozens of books which instruct people how to stay in fulfilling relationships. Turn on any daytime talk show and you’ll see “experts” sharing how to have better communication, more sex, happier unions. More and more American states and worldwide governments are recognizing same sex marriages and as valid and legally sanctified unions. Given all this, why do we keep screwing things up?

This next major topic for this blog will be navigating the waters of should-less relationships. This is a course many have traveled, but never quite like this. Please keep reading for observations, tips, and strategies for making all your relationships free of destructive "shoulds."

Kassie DePaiva!


The final interview from the Rock the Soap Cruise is up! Getting a chance to sit down and chat with an actress whose work I have admired for 16 years was truly amazing. Most of these questions were asked in a starstruck haze, but I encourage you to read them for yourself here.

What is that strange book in Kassie DePaiva's hands? Click on the picture to enlarge it and find out!

I am really proud of how these interviews turned out and hope you have enjoyed them too. After this, back to Should-less meanderings on day to day life!

Friday, May 8, 2009

Hetrick-Martin Institute!


Hey Folks! First of all I must thank the 8 wonderful readers of the this blog who check-in even when I'm not updating regularly. You rock! If you're brave enough, tell me who you are!

I am so honored to have been asked to be part of this event on Saturday, May 9, here in NYC. The Hetrick-Martin does tireless work every day to help gay youth choose a healthy should-less path in life. If you're in the area, please stop by!

Friday, May 1, 2009

Melissa Claire Egan!

When I interviewed Melissa Claire Egan (Annie Novak Lavery on All My Children) on board the Rock the Soap Cruise, all I kept thinking was, "courage." This young woman has the courage to reach inside herself and expose the deepest parts of her soul every day in front of her audience and in front of her peers. She was even brave enough to stand up to the Soap Shrink and my issues with the portrayal of the psychiatric profession on her show! Please press here to learn how she brings curiosity, depth, and humor to the role we've all come to love.

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Elizabeth Hendrickson

Combine the beauty of Jennifer Garner and the comic timing of Debra Messing and what do you get? The hysterically entertaining and insightful Elizabeth Hendrickson! During SoapNet’s “Rock the Soap Cruise,” we talked about her experiences and life lessons learned from mistakes on All My Children and her current run on The Young and the Restless. Press here to read about all this plus her own take on "shoulds."

Monday, April 20, 2009

Bobbie Eakes

Before meeting Bobbie Eakes, I knew she had talent, I knew she had beauty, I knew she had an amazing singing voice. What I didn't know was how much humor, intelligence, and self-awareness has contributed to her portrayal of Krystal on ABC's All My Children. She is also rather fearless, given she was the first actor on the Rock the Soap cruise to give me an interview!


Please press here as she shares life lessons, reflections on a 20 year career in soaps, and even insights on sex addiction!

Thursday, April 16, 2009

Van Hansis

Van Hansis by far one of the most risk taking actors working in daytime soaps today. He has taken on the challenge of lending integrity to a role that is controversial, symbolic, and the center of many hot political debates. Please press here to read my interview with this intelligent and delightful artist about his revolunionary role, participating in social change, and what his character really thought about his step-grandfather's attention!

Monday, April 13, 2009

Feeling Brandon's Buzz


Wow, I just caught "The Buzz" tonight, and it was Good! I had such a wonderful time talking with Brandon about living Should-less, improving your relationships, surviving the loss of your favorite soap, and ME!

Please press here to hear more. Or you can download it on iTunes by going to, "Brandon's Buzz."

Sunday, April 12, 2009

Mark H's "Should-less" Musings

Mark H. is a psychologist / methodologist who has jumped aboard the "Should-less" wagon! In this wonderful and thoughtful piece, he discusses his dismay over the loss of Guiding Light, and how he is learning to apply "Should-less" living to the decline of the daytime soap opera genre.

Please check out his post, and then please consider if there is anyway his approach can help you to live your life more peacefully as well.

Wednesday, April 8, 2009

Responsiblity

"The last of the human freedoms is to choose one's attitude in any given set of circumstances, to choose one's own way."
- Victor Frankl, Holocaust survivor, and author
of "Man's Search For Meaning."


The opposite of blame is responsibility. This is where suffering turns into growth, anger turns into peace, pain turns into acceptance, and where playing victim turns into reacting as a survivor.

So many of us have been conditioned in our families and communities to blame others when we are upset. This message is then reinforced by constantly by our culture, by the media, even by the legal system. But in my experience, this deterred focus is a one-way ticket to being depressed, stressed, and consistently losing friends and partners. It just doesn't have to be this hard.

Taking responsibility means you take back your power. You acknowledge the role you have had in every disaster in your life, and think critically about ways to change. It means you stop repeating the same vicious cycles of pain/hurt in your relationships that you have been perpetuating for years. And it means you take action to protect yourself and others from continuing to be hurt. To put it another way, it is the beginning of the end for suffering.

Don't believe me? Read the quote above. If a man who survived a concentration camp in Germany can take responsibility for his attitude, then so can you. Still don't believe me? Then try reading the work of Byron Katie, Nelson Mandela, or even Tina Turner. All consistently put forward the message that NO ONE or nothing outside yourself can bring you down. They can hurt your body, they can deprive of you of food and water, but NO ONE can break your spirit unless you allow them.

Tuesday, April 7, 2009

BLAME!

In a world where retirement savings are lost, people get hurt, and 72-year-old soaps get canceled, it's pretty hard to find something reliable to hold on to. But here is one guarantee I promise that will hold true throughout your entire life:

Blaming others for how you feel will only bring you more suffering.

If you're comfortable being unhappy, then this may be of no interest to you whatsoever. But if you are interested in feeling a little better, with more peace, and more daily satisfaction, please continue.

Believe me, I understand how it easy it is to blame others for my emotions. We have all been conditioned in western society to believe that we get upset because of other people or outside things. Try filling in the blanks below:

______________ hurt my feelings
______________ made me upset
______________ really stresses me out!

Now look at your answers and consider this: YOU have been played a significant role for your reactions to all these situations. Perhaps not the circumstances themselves, these may or may not have been in your control. But the feelings and the meanings that you assign to other people's actions or the events around you are completely in your control.

How do you take that back that control? Tune in tomorrow, folks, for a crash course lesson in a word beginning with "R" that will significantly relieve your suffering. Anyone want to guess?

Sunday, April 5, 2009

Alabama!

I want to give a huge "shout out" to the first person in the state of Alabama to read this blog! Someone on the Auburn University campus took the time yesterday to learn some tools for living "should-less" and became my first Alabama visit. Thanks for visiting, and hurry on back y'all!

Saturday, April 4, 2009

Catching Brandon's Buzz

The good news of the day is that I have been booked as a guest on Brandon's Buzz, an internet talk show that discusses soaps, music, and tools for making it through this crazy world. We're taping on April 13th, but until then you can hear some past shows by pressing here. Or, if you have iTunes, just type in, "Brandon's Buzz".

The bad news of the day is that Guiding Light is still a goner. We'll be talking about the cancellation and how to use "should-less" ideas to cope with this and other losses.

Friday, April 3, 2009

Kathy Brier!

Those of you reading this blog may not have any idea how much Kathy Brier has impacted the ideas in "Absolutely Should-less." Part of my impetus for writing was the frustration with where my career was going in New York, and difficulties finding the kind of work I wanted to do. Nevertheless, I still had those internal voices saying to me, "Why are you writing this, no one is going to care to read this, why bother?"

So I took a break from writing and went to see Kathy Brier sing in Manhattan. This amazing actress from One Life to Live and Broadway's Hairspray took the audience on an amazing journey. Singing sassy rock, soft ballads, wicked humor ("gay bacon?"), this young woman was a shining reminder to me that I had a right to pursue my career and my dreams on my own terms.

I had the privilege of interviewing Ms. Brier on the Rock the Soap cruise last week. Please press here to read how she continues to help millions of viewers every day live their "one life" on their own terms.

Saturday, March 28, 2009

Soap Cruise



And we're back!

It's true I've been rather neglectful of this blog over the past week. This is mainly due to the wonderful amazing opportunity to ride aboard the Rock The Soap Cruise last week. I had the privilege of interviewing eight actors working on soap operas today, and found them so kind, intelligent, and committed to their craft. The interviews are all running on my "Soap Shrink" column which you can access by pressing here.

I hope you enjoy these pieces, and keep coming back here for more tips on Should-less living.

Monday, March 16, 2009

This is the part where you leave a comment.

Have you been having the Best Recession EVER? Have you found your own ways to find peace in the midst of all the financial chaos? Does this all seem like hooey too you? I'd really like to hear from you, especially if you're that one reader in Mississippi. Don't be shy now!

Sunday, March 15, 2009

Review of the Best Recession EVER

I know some of you have busy schedules and short attention spans. This may even be your first time ever seeing this blog (thanks to Alpha Inventions). If any of these apply to you, here is a handy review to the 12 Ways to have your Best Recession EVER! For more details on each tip, just read the posts below.

Remember, comments are always appreciated / welcomed / hoped and prayed for.

Tip #1: Lose the "should" about your money...at least for now.
Tip #2: Make a budget and stick to it!

Tip #3: Talk about money with others.
Tip #4: Recognize that good outcomes come from bad events.

Tip #5: Shut Off the News. Now.
Tip #6: Resist holiday gift-giving "shoulds".
Tip #7: Giving to others feels good.

Tip #8: Take advantage of going out of business sales.
Tip #9: Recognize the Recession in your mind.
Tip #10: Make a gratitude list every day.
Tip #11: Stay in the present.
Tip #12: Have faith it's all going to be okay.

Saturday, March 14, 2009

How to Have Your Best Recession EVER Tip #12


Final Tip: Have Faith It's Going to Be Okay

Usually having faith is the LAST resort. We spend so much time fixing, controlling, manipulating, trying, and frequently crying, before we're willing to finally say, "Okay, universe, I'm giving this one to you." I realize that by making this my 12th and final tip that I'm only reinforcing this notion. However, I saved it for the last because it is such an integral part of the first eleven tips, and will be most useful tip for navigating the times ahead of us.

What is faith? Faith, in my experience, is believing something that hasn't happened yet. It's often used by religious or spiritual people to indicate a belief in a higher power that (usually) will help us humans access more peace and happiness.

However, I believe ALL of us are practicing faith every time we do something to contribute to our future. When I get out of bed in the morning to go to work, I'm practicing faith that I will make it there in one piece. When I go down to the "L" train I have faith it will help me get to work on time. When I get to work I have faith that I will eventually get a paycheck for that day. I can decide to have faith that things are either going to work out well, or have faith that something is going to go horribly wrong. How I feel, then, is going to be a direct result of how I place that faith.

Here's another way to see it:

FAITH: Tomorrow is going to be a wonderful day.
FEELING: Hopeful, inspired, excited.

FAITH: Tomorrow is going to be busy and horrible.
FEELING: Stressed out, tired, anxious.

In either example, how I feel is going to be COMPLETELY determined by my faith, since tomorrow isn't here yet. Given a choice of feeling hopeful or stressed out, I know what I prefer.

Now let's look at the Recession. This has been a challenging time with many people losing money, losing jobs, losing homes. Many people are thinking, "This is NEVER going to get better, I'm never going to recover from this loss, I'll never be okay again." But history shows that we have every reason to believe that things are going to turn around eventually and be okay. Most of us have grandparents that lived through the last major Depression in this country, and they learned to adjust, compromise, and survive. So let's try our little exercise again:

FAITH: The Recession is never going to end and I'm doomed to be miserable
FEELING: Unhappy, stressed, depressed

FAITH: We'll get through these difficult times the way we always have before
FEELING: Relaxed, optimistic, hopeful

Now you understand that the way you handle this Recession will be in large part determined by how you choose to use your faith. I know the choice I'm ready to make. How about you?