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My Traits List: Exercise #1 for Changing Your Life

Posted Sep 22 2008 10:56am

I'm down in La Jolla for Todd's nephew's birthday. He's out surfing; I'm taking a quiet moment to write this before the kids come down and jump on me.

I wanted to publish my first attempt at a trait's list in a couple of years. My first one is published at this post:Exercise#1: Identify your Core Values.;I called it the Core Values list back then. It's really just a list of all the traits, habits, characteristics, etc. that you most admire in people. It's a free form kind of a thing: just start writing. It's not going to be exhaustive - you can come back and add things if you remember something later that's important to you, and yet it will never be able to include EVERYTHING that you find important in life. It's the most meaningful things to you at the particular time you work up the list. For example, I didn't include HUMILITY in my first list. But, it's #3 on this new list. Usually, for me at least, the list includes things I DON'T see in myself. I focus on the things that I WANT, but don't currently have. To be really fair to ourselves, we should be doing the other exercises that I've posted in that blog Category:**Exercises for Recovery**since other exercises ensure that we become aware of and celebrate the wonderful traits we already have.

Check that old post for better instructions.

The next step, that you can begin working on now, is taking that list and putting SPIRITUALLY POSITIVE action items around them. The goal, as I first discussed here:Exercise #2: Your Daily Checklist, is to hold yourself accountable for practicing the characteristics you most admire. In time, you begin to embody the characteristics, and you become the whole person you most want to be and admire. One very important key is to spin the action items so they are positive. This can be hard since, at least for me as you'll soon see, my list is focused on avoiding the negative - since that's what is bothering me right now. The empowering and spiritually strengthening approach is to be embracing and reaching for the good, positive, optimistic choices. A more disempowering approach is to be focusing on avoiding and stopping the negative choices you tend to make.

If you're focused on avoiding the negative, your awareness and subconscious;are always on the look-out for the negative, and soon you'll be overwhelmed with all the negative you see everywhere.

If you're focused on finding, embracing, and creating the positive, your awareness and subconscious are always on the look-out for the positive, and soon you'll be bathing in the positive. The negative stuff gets shut out.

For example, one of my original action items (before Alyson gently corrected me) was to identify one time per day when I was feeling judgmental of people. Then, I had to let it go and allow them to be as they are.

But, that forces my subconscious to look for and focus on people who might not be exhibiting the traits that I admire in other people. I'm encouraging my mind to target all the poor choices that people make every day, just so that I can "allow" them. Soon, I'll be surrounded by people making poor choices!

After a pretty long discussion with Alyson, we came up with a much more spiritually positive action item to take care of judgment and a few other items on our lists:

*Everyday, find, appreciate, and send thanks and love to one stranger who does something nice for someone else and/or the community.*

Now, my awareness is focused on looking for the beautiful things people do for each other every day. I'm actively looking for it, so I know I'm going to find it. Soon, my subconscious will be trained to focus just on the good stuff. The bad stuff fades into the background - it becomes noise. If a poor choice someone else makes is thrust into my conscious (for example if someone cuts me off on the road), I will work to make the right choice of allowing them to do what they do with no judgment from me. But, I won't create a daily action item for that. Daily action items should be only positive and optimistic.

This is WHY it is said that what you focus on will manifest in your life. If you focus on joy, you will have more. If you focus on why you feel like a victim, you will find yourself being a victim more often. It's not that you're REALLY creating more joy or victimization, it's that you're actively looking for it and what you seek, so shall you find. What you're not seeking just fades into the background as noise that doesn't get your attention.

I'm leaving my list as is, even though it's full of the desire to avoid the negative and not necessarily embrace the positive. It's a demonstration of what I'm struggling with right now. But, the Daily Checklist of action items, the next step, HAS to be positive since that is what we'll be focusing on every day. I'll be posting the Daily Checklist in a week or so. SO, you've got time to come up with your own Traits list!

Michelle’s Traits






Doesn’t expect to have it easier or better than anyone else


spreads kindness

outwardly loving with those I love




forgiving of self and others




creative – in problem solving and creating joy


focuses on the good in others

accepting/allowing of others and their choices/imperfections

unaffected by the choices of others


Optimistic: sees the upside in everything; confident that it will all work out just fine

makes decisions easily based on her heart – not her head, not society

no regret – except for taking time to learn the lessons from non-optimal decisions and then moving on

no guilt

focuses on goals, dreams, future – not the past

HAVE dreams, goals that I work toward every day – these guide a lot of my decisions

always learning, trying new things, growing

uses tools to handle uncertainty, discomfort – doesn’t turn to numbing with food, alcohol, withdrawal, etc.

not jealous – is able to be happy for others, takes action to improve my life/opportunities if someone has or experiences something I want

lives consciously and with perpetual awareness– no more automatic responses, no more floating,

actively chooses empowering interpretations, thoughts, actions

when lacking hard data, chooses interpretations that serve me and my spiritual goals well

hyper aware of when my ego, fears, and expectations are affecting my interpretations, my thoughts, my actions

anxiety held at reasonable levels –use tools to deflate if and when it grows beyond acceptable limit

no expectations – hopes are ok, expectations usually lead to disappointment, resentment, etc.

self-confident, self-secure that she can handle whatever comes along

can pick myself up quickly when things don’t go as I had hoped (not expected)

smiling, laughing a lot

seeks out joy

seeks out good new people

loving to my body: eat well, drink lots of water, exercise regularly

respected and needed in my job


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