Small simple changes

First, I did a number of simple things, the kind of things everyone reads about: journaling, saying out loud words of appreciation with letters A through Z, writing my morning pages, meditating, and taking nutritional supplements for producing more serotonin and dopamine.

And each of things made a small improvement, but nothing that changed the landscape or what I would later understand as my spiritual gameboard.

It really began when I shifted from doing these things as a mental activity and into a deeper, slower feel-sensing or heartful way.


A big turning point came when I started getting out of my morning shower.

I gazed into the mirror and said out loud, “I love you” five to seven times, emphasizing a unique intonation for each “I love you.”

Now I said “I love you” with firm, embodied intent of connecting with that guy in the mirror, while sense-feeling that guy in the mirror connecting me. 

I kinda had a sense of vertigo, being in two places at the same time, communing. 

And the more I performed it, each morning for 45 days, I could feel something deep within me melting or giving way … a deep sense of tension, one that I did not know that I had until I start this.

In retrospect, these 45 days of “I love you’s” became the first substantial and meaningful evidence that I have turned the corner, that I had stopped digging deeper the Pit.

Mind you, this was not a sudden conversion of an intellectual hard-ass into a man of thoughtfulness, love and peace. It would take many months of daily work to see beyond the Pit.

As the pace of my journey quickened with the discovery that how I felt and sensed in the moment basis had become paramount, had become the key to unlock everything.

The key that unlocked everything, one that I had all along, but did not know how to use: Master your experiencing of each total, multisensory moment of Now.

Sure, I have read most of the books on the power of now, mediated for decades, and spent tens of thousands of hours in personal growth workshops.

Through all of that, I had missed the one thing that would make the one difference that makes a deep and lasting difference

I did not have an effective and mature relationship with my ego-personality, with Michael and his particular history, conclusions, and beliefs.

And that’s what busted out of jail, saying I love you’s to that naked man in my bathroom.

Once I got that, once if shifted from being that guy in the mirror, and transitioned to the one observing, the witness, the soul, the I AM, did I know that the way out of the Pit was in fact a return Home.

And with that came the dim recollection that as an invincible adventurers, I had taken the long way around.

I did so with the intent of getting lost and bewildered and forgetting that I had forgotten.

And so the work began, deactivating the beliefs by which I had dug the Pit and, in neurolinguistic terms, installing a new set of beliefs for climbing out of the Pit.

As I climbed out of the Pit, I made extensive notes, sort of field notes of a spiritual pathfinder, with the aim of one day of creating a trail guide for future homesteaders on the final frontier and home from which we left long ago.


Here’s an after-the-fact summary of a few of the new beliefs or experiential cause-effect relationships that I began to install with my daily gratitude practices:

  • Well-being of myself and others matters more than anything else.
  • How I focus on what, in the moment, determines how I feel, pleasant or otherwise.
  • I have the choice, knowledge and skill to become more intentional in how I focus my attention.
  • I intend to focus upon those things that bring me more Energy, Joy, and Happiness.
  • In the process of learning how to focus, I will make mistakes and I love that.
  • Mistakes made with earnest intent to grow are gifts from the Universe and I savor that.
  • My willingness to feel the darkness .. the pain, despair or anguish … is the measure or limit of the light and goodness that I can bring into the world.
  • Abide the now, letting the stuff of the moment flow through and out of my body.

Mind you, I did not set out to create or install these new beliefs. 

Rather, these beliefs resulted from doing the work, from making Gratitude my destination, my guiding star and advantage point.

Let me restate that. My singular focus on Gratitude and doing things (that I now call Core Gratitude Protocols) deactivated old beliefs and activated new ones.

However, want to clarify a common misunderstanding about beliefs.

Beliefs don’t cause change. 

Beliefs stabilize a change that you created, they provide a structure for expression of Life.

Like our bodies, money, and cars, beliefs enable an experience, set the stage for it to occur, but do not cause it to occur. 

So what causes experience? I have a two part answer. 

One, Life shows up. Stuff happens. Ain’t no amount of hoping and praying can change what Life gives us in the moment. 

In both a neurological and metaphysical sense, what shows up already happened. It’s done. It is what it is, etc.

Two, how we experience what happened, how we make sense of that, well, we have the choice, knowledge, and some skill to determine how we experience things.

Now that gets to the essence of Gratitude Games: providing people the tools, ways of practicing, and accountability networks for making better sense of their moment-to-moment experience.

So I have now parlayed these beliefs into a more stable platform for living life, a platform of interlocking beliefs, embodied through daily protocols.

This platform now give me a place to stand and see, shockingly at first, into what kind of pit I had fallen and had begun the long climb out.

In retrospect, I now see that I had accepted without argument that my emotions had no value and were basically nuisance or a skin rash … you know, something to ignore if you can or minimize.

Today when I looked back, I had created, as a function of how I focused my awareness, a whole lot of anger, sadness and, deeper still, overwhelming too-hot-to-handle sense of shame.