Promise Yourself

Next time someone asks you for a recipe for positivity defer them to the beautiful Optimist’s Creed written by Christian D. Larson all the way back in 1912:

Promise Yourself

To be so strong that nothing can disturb your peace of mind.

To talk health, happiness, and prosperity to every person you meet.

To make all your friends feel that there is something worthwhile in them.

To look at the sunny side of everything and make your optimism come true.

To think only of the best, to work only for the best and to expect only the best.

To be just as enthusiastic about the success of others as you are about your own.

To forget the mistakes of the past and press on to the greater achievements of the future.

To wear a cheerful expression at all times and give a smile to every living creature you meet.

To give so much time to improving yourself that you have no time to criticize others.

To be too large for worry, too noble for anger, too strong for fear, and too happy to permit the presence of trouble.

To think well of yourself and to proclaim this fact to the world, not in loud words, but in great deeds.

To live in the faith that the whole world is on your side, so long as you are true to the best that is in you.

7 Steps from “How to be happy” video:

  1. Be a do-gooder
  2. Don’t sweat the decisions
  3. Spend well on good experiences
  4. Aim high, but not that high
  5. Be a joiner
  6. Stop dwelling
  7. Be grateful

Image by Erik Johansson from Photos-to-expand-your-imagination.

Three Tales of Wisdom

If only every human mastered these three tales, it would be good enough education to go through life no matter what.

A Cherokee Lesson

An elder Cherokee was teaching his grandchildren about life. He said to them, “A flight is going on inside of me. It is a terrible fight and it is between two wolves. One wolf represents fear, anger, envy, sorrow, regret, greed, arrogance, self-pity, guilt, resentment, inferiority, lies, false pride, superiority, hate, and ego. The other wolf represents joy, peace, love, hope, sharing, serenity, humility, kindness, truth, benevolence, friendship, empathy, generosity, compassion, and faith. This same fight is going on inside you, and inside every other person.”

The grandchildren thought about this quietly. After a few moments of silent reflection one child asked his grandfather, “Which wolf will win?”

The old Cherokee replied, “The one you feed.”

A Chinese Tale

An old farmer used a horse to till his fields. One day the horse ran away, and when the farmer’s neighbors sympathized with the old man over his bad luck, the farmer shrugged his shoulders and replied: “Bad luck? Good luck? Who knows?”

A week later the horse returned with a herd of wild mares,a dn this time the neighbors congratulated the farmer on his good luck. His reply was: “Good luck? Bad Luck? Who knows?”

Then, when the farmer’s son was attempting to tame on of the wild horses, he fell and broke his leg. Everyone agreed this was very bad luck. But the farmer’s only reaction was: “Bad luck? Good luck? Who knows?”

A week later, the army marched into the village and drafted all the young men they could find. When they saw the farmer’s son with his broken leg, they let him stay behind. Good luck? Bad luck?

As you see, we can never know.

Job, Career or Calling

One day an old woman walked up to a dusty building site where three strong young men were working hard laying bricks. She walked up to the first man and asked him what he was doing. He replied rather rudely, “Can’t you see? I’m laying bricks. This is what I do all day – I just lay bricks.” She then asked the second man what he was doing. He replied, “I’m a bricklayer and I’m doing my work. I take pride in my craft, and I’m happy that what I do here feeds my family.” As she walked up to the third man, she could see that his eyes were full of joy and his face was as bright as the day. When she posed the same question to him, he replied with great enthusiasm,

“Oh, I’m building the most beautiful cathedral in the whole world.”

Beliefs Old and New (Part Two)

There are four types of belief systems:

Type one contains mostly dogma, indoctrination, and controlling beliefs. The intention is to be right, I’m right and they are wrong. This is the intention behind war and strife. You will be pursued based on emotions making you right or wrong.

Type two contains common sense beliefs. You already know without looking, more certainty instead of remembering. How many times you need to repeat an action before you know. No effort is involved in believing in them, you just know. Intention is to conform and act rationally. You appeal to their sense of conformity.

Type three-scientific fact supported beliefs. If you want to experience a complicated belief system, prove it. Intention is to dispute facts that don’t support your theory. Realm of physical science, fact, theories, and measuring devices. The mantra – what evidence do you have for believing that? Arguing over evidence, to settle it with measuring devices.

Type four- intentionally created beliefs, or what you know as primaries. You can create an experience by simply believing in it. The process of believing comes before the process of experiencing.

Perspective: So how do I discover what I really believe? What ticket did I purchase at the belief bazaar?

Harry: The easiest way is to work backward from what you’re experiencing. If you are experiencing unhappiness, you can be pretty certain that your leap of faith across the abyss was on a belief that you were going to be unhappy.

Transparent beliefs: The first impression you have of a transparent belief is that it is unquestionably true. That’s just the way life is. That’s the way I am. Here’s the proof! But then something funny happens. You discover that the proof for holding the belief is actually produced by the belief itself. A pattern begins to unfold. Personal reality reflects what you really believe. This may not always be the same as what you think you believe.

When a belief is transparent, you are operating through it without noticing it. Transparent beliefs are seldom helpful and, in fact, can be fatally debilitating. Most were adopted in a moment when you were something less than rational, and they are self-sabotaging. Transparent beliefs are discovered by tricking yourself into expressing them, and then stepping back and looking at what you just said. Transparent beliefs are often hidden by a desire to be right, so finding them requires a degree of vulnerability.

EXERCISE 3: TRANSPARENT BELIEFS

Objective: To discover transparent beliefs.

Expected Results: Insights, personal transformation.

Instructions:

Discovering transparent beliefs is done with a companion or as a team effort. The exercise may be repeated many times.

Step 1: The guide or group leader asks, “What would you like to change?” until a situation is revealed.

Step 2: Once the situation has been pinpointed, the guide or group leader goes after:

• the beliefs that are creating the situation

• the experiences that are reinforcing the beliefs, i.e., creating certainty in the beliefs by asking:

(a) What belief might someone have in order to experience (situation)?

(b) How do you prove that belief is true?

(c) What other belief might someone have in order to experience (situation)?

(d) How do you prove that belief is true?

(c) and (d) are alternately addressed until the student has a realization

Ariela asked me to pick one thing that I want to change in my life. We did the Transparent Beliefs exercise. To my amazement, by answering her questions I came to some unexpected answers/insights about my belief. I was believing in something because people around told me so and because I learned that from my experience. I believed in what I was told that I’m picky and I have to compromise because it is just impossible to do what I wanted to do. I started to believe that I had to sacrifice to get what I want or I could only get one thing or another but not both together. I used to switch back and forth from negative to positive – believing and not believing. All I need is more certainty in my belief: I’m not convincing myself, but deciding to be it/believe in it. If I haven’t experienced it yet, it doesn’t mean I can never get it. When Avatar is asked, “Do you have reason or evidence to support your beliefs?” He says: “Not yet”.

The most important step is to change my belief that it is not a lottery (I may get or may not get what I want), it is not luck, but I have to be committed to my intention. I attract what I want through my intentions and actions.

Who does my mind belong to? What decides what to believe? Make up your mind or someone will make it up for you. Discovering that most difficulties are the result of your own comforting beliefs and you can do something about them is a huge step that requires courage to confront. You have to do the training. The difficulty for some is in distinguishing between what they believe and what they pretend to believe. They are not always the same. What does it mean to believe? To be comfortable with or satisfied with.

At the end of the session, Ariela did the debriefing which is an alignment technique. It is an oral or written response to three questions: 1) What did you start out to do? 2) What did you actually do? 3) What actually happened?

I was discouraged by many to pursue what I want to pursue, and I started to believe that my goal is impossible, but now I change my intention to truly believing in it and it will happen, I know 🙂

Beliefs are the colored lenses that filter out from all-that-is what we wish to experience.

Watch Harry Palmer’s video. Check out his new book The Avatar Path. You can find these exercises in Pillar to belief Avatar workbook.

To schedule your personal session on beliefs and learn more about Avatar approach, email Ariela at ariela@powerofavatar.com.

Beliefs Old and New (Part One)

Two weeks ago I had a great one-on-one phone session with Ariela from Avatar about my beliefs. I realized that without changing your old not working beliefs you will never get what you want. “If you keep doing what you’re doing, you’ll keep getting what you’re getting”. The objective of the session was to explore and understand the relationship between my beliefs and my experiences. First, I read more about beliefs:

“The mission of Avatar in the world is to catalyze the integration of belief systems. When we perceive that the only difference between us is our beliefs and that beliefs can be created or discreated with ease, the right and wrong game will wind down, a co-create game will unfold, and world peace will ensue.

Beliefs can be very powerful. Beliefs have a greater effect on a person’s success, or failure, than any technique or opportunity. Beliefs determine how one will experience life. They can be assistive or they can be impeding. Beliefs, which can be self-examined and self -determinedly modified, can be useful tools for healing, achievement, motivation and discovery. But invisible or indoctrinated beliefs, which dominate consciousness and stand as unquestionably true, are the root causes of individual suffering. They can be severely limiting or even self-sabotaging.

Can people learn to manage their beliefs? And will managing their beliefs have any effect on their reality? The answer to both questions is a profound yes! The next question is how difficult is it to manage beliefs? Now you must take into account the person’s self-awareness, their sanity, their willingness or motivation to change, as well as the methodology they employ. Not everyone is capable of self-examination. Not everyone is sane. Also, some doctrines of belief are recursively designed to protect themselves from inspection, or to punish anyone who questions or changes them.

The difficulty for some is in distinguishing between what they believe and what they pretend to believe. They are not always the same.

Perspective: Are you saying that we don’t always know what we believe or experience what we say we believe?

Harry: That’s right. And that is the flaw in positive thinking. You can stick signs on every mirror in the house saying, “I’m happy to be me,” and chant it for a half hour before every meal and still not experience it. The reason it won’t take you across the I-don’t-know-abyss into a real experience is because you are already across experiencing something else. Maybe you came on the ticket, “Nothing really makes me happy.” That is the real belief that is underlying and motivating all of the positive assertions”.

Ariela asked me to write down my beliefs.

EXERCISE 1: YOUR BELIEF INVENTORY

Objective: To determine if the beliefs you hold are helpful or harmful.

Expected Results: Insights, deliberate restructuring of personal reality.

Instructions:

List three things you believe about yourself

1. _______________________________

2. _______________________________

3. _______________________________

List three things you believe about relationships

1. _______________________________

2. _______________________________

3. _______________________________

List three things you believe about money

1. _______________________________

2. _______________________________

3. _______________________________

This is what I wrote about myself:

  1. I can really make a lot of things possible (H)
  2. I have hard time with motivation for getting back in shape (I)
  3. I can’t eat only healthy foods (I)

It was indeed what Harry said, my beliefs were conflicting, as if I didn’t know what to believe and changed my beliefs based on circumstances.

Next, Ariela asked me to do Doubt/Know exercise.

EXERCISE 2: DO YOU KNOW OR DO YOU ONLY BELIEVE?

How much a belief affects the reality that you experience is determined by the measure of certainty with which it is held. Knowing implies that doubts have been overcome.

Objective: To demonstrate the variable power of a belief.

Expected Result: A palpable experience of changing certainty.

Instruction One: Shift your certainty in stages from believing to knowing as you speak the following phrases:

God is real.

Man should be free.

I am attractive.

I can improve.

I decide.

Instruction Two: Shift your certainty in stages from knowing to believing as you speak the following phrases:

God is real.

Man should be free.

I am attractive.

I can improve.

I decide.

Instruction Three: Review the statements you wrote down in Exercise 1 and decide on a scale of certainty from 1 (doubt) to 10 (know) where they fall.

As I read the same statements over and over but with different certainty in my voice, I realized that our beliefs can change as quickly and as much as we change certainty with which we have them. Convince yourself first and the Universe will be convinced too.

I Remember

I was 8 years old, when my whole family moved to spend one year in the depth of Siberia by the biggest lake on Earth – Baikal. I was very excited about the change, because everything was drastically different. Moss covered giant rocks, massive fir trees, toilet outside, cross country skiing for physical exercise at school and my first very warm black astrakhan fur coat.

If you looked at our settlement from above you would see a bunch of small houses scattered along the river and surrounded by the mountains, that seemed green and friendly in the summer when we arrived but were deadly in the winter for a stranger lost in taiga without compass. We had school, kindergarten, club where they showed movies and the store where you can buy food and some clothes but not very much as everything was brought from somewhere else. We also had an athletics club. One day I went to gymnastics session, they told me to do split and bridge. I faltered and hurt myself, they sent me home. But my mom arranged musical lessons for me at the club house, where I had access to an old piano. Musical teacher gave me private lessons twice a week and I was very proud I was learning to play piano. I made friends and we spent evenings running around the settlement and playing games, mainly spy games. One day at school we had a gathering with all classes standing straight in front of the flag and the teaching staff, the school director told us that our schoolmate wrote a letter to the president of the United States, asking him to stop war, as all children in the world don’t want war, they want peace. What was really shocking is that the president replied saying that adults don’t want war either and that they will do all they can to live in peace. I couldn’t believe bravery of that small boy, who was my age and who wrote a letter like that and send it! I couldn’t even imagine how many months it takes for that letter to travel through all the mountains and oceans, other countries all the way to America, find the president and go back, six months?

In that one year, there were other unreal things that happened to me and around me. Getting lost in the woods short enough just to feel the thrill of adventure and be found, going cedar nuts gathering and fighting off squirrels, finding my mom sinking in marshes during blueberry crusade, spending hours at swings in white nights, playing in the ice castles created by Mother Nature on the river and skipping school when snow was above the roof. Bu the most unreal of all was Maslenitsa or Butter Week. It was a holiday like no other.

Before that year my family never celebrated it, because we were from the place with mild rainy winters and palm trees around. Maslennitsa is a sun festival, celebrating the imminent end of the winter. Happening right before Lent, it is a fest for your stomach and whole body.

Our parents took us with them to the main square by the club house. Tables were set up so that you could find pirogis, blinis and pancakes with sour cream, jam and butter. What clearly imprinted in my memory is a tall wooden pillar in the middle of the square. Brave men had to climb it in order to get the prize, a TV set in a box hanging at the top of it! If you climb up high enough and touch the TV set, it is yours. There was a rumor among us children that to make it harder organizers covered the stem of the pillar with wax, which makes contestants slide down. I was watching two men climbing the pillar breathlessly with admiration. What if they fall? They may kill themselves! But now we all know how brave they are! My family didn’t have a TV set then and I secretly wished that my dad climbed too and won, then all would know that he is the best! But he said it was impossible and at the end no one got the TV.

It was very cold, maybe -4F, but you didn’t feel it, as everyone was busy taking to the neighbors, laughing, dancing, eating, playing other games, like snowball fights, or pancake speed eating, and finally burning of the Maslenitsa doll. I ate some blinis too but mainly watched adults around us, who looked like beautiful women and strong brave men from a Russian folk tale. It was their holiday, their faces were red and glowing. Boring and serious adults disappeared, just like children adults were happy and having fun.

The year after we returned home, because my dad finished building his part of the railway. Looking at the black and white photos taken that year, my sister doesn’t remember anything, she was only 4 years old, but I remember it all.

Love The Rain

Over the last few days little pearls of wisdom have been spilling forth from strangers in the most random of places, and each one has inspired a different act of kindness.

1. Thoughts create words create reality. On Saturday at the beginning of a gym class my instructor told us she was having a terrible morning, she was a magnet for things going wrong and all she needed now was for the “stupid microphone” not to work. Having also attended the previous class (sometimes I’m a little crazy that way), I knew the microphone was working perfectly well. But sure enough, she spent ten minutes flipping switches before exclaiming ”It’s not working, as usual.” She then spent the rest of the class in turn shouting instructions and complaining about having to shout. She was so frustrated that she kept messing up the choreography. All day I thought about how easy it is to be your own worst enemy and not even realise it. I decided to make a conscious effort to be kinder to myself over the weekend. I did things that make me feel calm and happy – catching up with friends, exercising, meditating, eating well, reading, cooking… I also bought all my fruit and vegetables from a local organic market – to my great amusement the Englishman who was running the market told me I was “doing a jolly good thing for the environment but more importantly a jolly good thing for your health”.

2. Your life should love you. On Monday while I was in a shop, a fairly successful-looking woman was asked what she did for work. She laughed and gave the most amazing response I’ve ever heard: “I do whatever work loves me.” When asked what she meant, she listed an assortment of different jobs which she claimed all had one common element – they made her feel appreciated, valued, talented and loved. The lady went on to say that this was also true of people she had in her life – “How could anyone ever expect to be happy if they choose to spend time with people or work that doesn’t love them?” Of course we all know it is true, but as friend recently told me quite matter-of-factly, “Sometimes I think if I let go of every person who let me down, there wouldn’t be many people left.” I can empathise with this so strongly. But I realise more and more each day that it’s better to be surrounded by a few people that truly love you than many who don’t. Following on from this lesson I decided to make someone else feel loved and I wrote a gratitude card to my amazing friend R. She is constantly inspiring me, making me consider things from a different perspective and encouraging me to have unwavering faith in myself and the universe.

3. Love the rain. Today while waiting for my daily caffeine fix, I noticed a little girl (around five) sitting at the window of the cafe watching the rain outside. All around her us adults were complaining to each other about the cold, wet weather. This little girl, however, had a different take on things, bouncing excitedly in her seat as the raindrops fell heavier and heavier, and saying quietly: “Hello, rain! I love you. Thankyou for making the flowers grow.” If only we could maintain children’s natural ability to find such joy in things. This little girl inspired my ‘piece de resistance’ for this week (if not month): I went around to every unit on my floor (25 in total) and left a flower and a note on the doorstep reading “A random act of kindness to brighten a gloomy day.” Strange how nervous this made me – I did it so hastily you would think I was robbing the places. Maybe my last flower incident has traumatised me. I didn’t want to get “caught”; didn’t want to be judged; didn’t want to answer suspicious and ungrateful questions. I just wanted to imagine that each person came home after a stressful, rainy day to find a lovely bright flower on their doorstep that made them smile and wonder.”

Singing in the Rain video. Re-posted from Year of Kindness Blog.

Your Life Is Your Life

“If you’re going to try, go all the way. Otherwise, don’t even start. This could mean losing girlfriends, wives, relatives and maybe even your mind. It could mean not eating for three or four days. It could mean freezing on a park bench. It could mean jail. It could mean derision. It could mean mockery–isolation. Isolation is the gift. All the others are a test of your endurance, of how much you really want to do it. And, you’ll do it, despite rejection and the worst odds. And it will be better than anything else you can imagine. If you’re going to try, go all the way. There is no other feeling like that. You will be alone with the gods, and the nights will flame with fire. You will ride life straight to perfect laughter. It’s the only good fight there is.” By Charles Bukowski

your life is your life
don’t let it be clubbed into dank submission.
be on the watch.
there are ways out.
there is a light somewhere.
it may not be much light but
it beats the darkness.
be on the watch.
the gods will offer you chances.
know them.
take them.
you can’t beat death but
you can beat death in life, sometimes.
and the more often you learn to do it,
the more light there will be.
your life is your life.
know it while you have it.
you are marvelous
the gods wait to delight
in you.
@Charles Bukowski

Shamatha Yoga

Three years ago I completed three levels of Shambhala training levels 1-3: The Art of Being Human, Birth of a Warrior and Warrior in the World. There was no fighting but extensive meditating. I learned how to quiet my mind. I also enjoyed Shamatha yoga that you can do anywhere and it only takes several minutes.

Shamatha yoga is a simple series of nine yoga postures developed by Sakyong Mipham Rinpoche during his retreat in India in Januray of 2002. They are designed to develop mindfulness as well as loosen the body during breaks from formal sitting meditation.

  1. Earth. Hands at sides, fingers pointed down. Palms inward, gaze down. Feel slightly separated, toes spread. Knees are not locked. Body scan: moving feet to head, relax each part of the body. Feeling of solidity.
  2. Greater Eastern Sun. Raise arms up outstretched, palms upward. Reach for sky, palms towards each other, shoulder-width apart. Look upwards.
  3. Gathering the Mind. From GES, bring hands together and down toward heart, to Anjali. Bodhicitta. Feel heart center.
  4. Offering. Forward bend from waist. Separate hands, arms circle slightly outward and down. Release. Stretch back and back of legs. Relax head and neck. Legs are straight and strong.
  5. Courage. From Offering, roll up through spine to standing. Hands on hips in warrior posture, as if to bow. Gaze forward.
  6. Warrior. Slide right foot forward, angle left foot out 45 degrees. Arms reach up, palms together. Look upwards. Right leg is bent, knee directly over front heel. Left leg is straight. Bring left hip forward. Step back to standing, hands on hips. Repent on left side.
  7. Four Directions. a. Hands on hips, legs spread and strengthened. Bow over, stretching to the front. b.Round up to standing. Lift up the heart, drop the head back. c. Return to standing. Turn right foot out to right, left foot turns in 45 degrees. Turn hips to right, fold torso over right leg. Keep weight evenly distributed in legs. Let head hang. Round up through spine to standing. Repeat on left side.
  8. Garuda. a. Begin with legs spread apart, toes facing forward. Arms extend to sides shoulder-height, palms down. b. Turn right foot out to right. Reach right hand out as far as possible, then bring down to right ankle or shin. Legs are straight and strengthened, palms face front. Look up to top hand. Come back slowly to standing, arms extended, palms down. Turn feet and repeat on left side. Come back slowly to standing. c.Twisting Garuda: Turn foot to right. Twist torso so left hand reaches for ankle or shin. Look upward to top hand. Strengthen legs and return to standing posture. Repeat on left side. Twists whole spine.
  9. Joining Heaven and Earth. Feet together. In one fluid motion: Raise arms out and up overhead, bring palms together, look up to thumbs, then hands come down, passing through Anjali to the hips, palms open at sides. Gaze is raised. Openness. Expansion.

See a demo of Shamatha yoga on YouTube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rHiJLoLlBDw.

Note: As with many forms of discipline that involve bodily exercise, Shamatha yoga includes an inherent element of risk of personal injury. However you can prevent harm to your body by being careful at all times and avoiding or discontinuing any activity that causes you pain or physical distress. Individuals who have preexisting medical conditions must not undertake any exercise that could aggravate such conditions.

You Can Start The Great Change

Rob White, a dynamic philosopher, author, teacher, successful entrepreneur and founder of Mind Adventure, presents a special guest post:

Student: How does one learn to live his dreams?
Teacher: There is nothing at all that is complicated about it. YOU BEGIN.
Student: How do I begin?
Teacher: You begin by ceasing to participating in activity that has been stopping you from living your dreams. You know what these activities are; you simply have been ignoring them too long.

Might i ask you folks three personal questions?

(1) What things do you do from a false sense of duty? Stop it.
(2) What things do you do from family pressure? Stop it.
(30 What things do you do to please others? Stop it.

You learn to live as you’d like to live by stopping yourself when you are living as you do not like to live. You must declare a Declaration of Independence from emotional chains that bind you to living as you do not like to live. Now that is a powerful statement. Let’s look at it again: You must declare a Declaration of Independence from emotional chains that bind you to living as you do not like to live.

You are responsible for your the emotional chains that bind you … and you have the key to set you free.
(1) Empty your day of your habitual reactions.
(2) Don’t fear the void when you empty your day of habitual reactions, and quickly your spontaneous nature will fill it with amazingly creative action.

A person is a problem to himself as long as he mistrusts his superlatively creative nature. Your superlatively creative side will never fail you. Give it chance. You can reverse things. You can rise up and declare your freedom from bad habits with mighty power. You may have to do it with doubt and trembling at first – BUT DO IT!

There is a right way and a wrong way to live with yourself. You are now learning the right way. Please yourself as your integrity directs you to, not as others direct you to. When you do this, your awareness will grow:
(1) You will find incredible opportunities that you never noticed before.
(2) You will realize your unrealized potential in ways that you never began to imagine.

You have better things to do than waste your day in undesirable emotional states like intrepidation and doubt.
“He is wise who is wise to himself” – Euripedes.

Blessings, rob white

Scotia’s Dating Tips for Men

This is another guest post by Scotia Stone, who is an educator and relationship coach:

I read a dating tip for women once that gave me a chuckle. It read “look nice, smell nice, be nice.” Pretty simple. And it said nothing about what we should say or not say on a date, but simply about how we should BE. Well, it’s good advice for everyone.

1. So men, number one, be clean, smell clean and dress decently. Take it from the girls- when a woman goes out on a date, she thinks about what she’ll wear in large part because she knows you are judging her appearance. So she makes sure not to dress sluttily, or dress like she’s at work, which can make her look uptight. She tries to balance attractive without overboard. You should also strive for a balanced look. Don’t dress like you’re on the Sopranos or like you are going to play football with the guys after you leave her. Dress in clean, ironed clothes- jeans or chinos for most places, and a long sleeve button down shirt, stripes or solid. Add a belt. It’s a nice, clean, balanced look. And as for smelling nice- take a shower, and make sure not to douse yourself in cologne. We may like you but if we hate your cologne, it’s a goner.

2. If you get talking to a woman at a bar or party, buy or procure her a drink. This shows you are attentive to her needs, and observant. I don’t like when men send a drink over in a bar- it’s cheesy and antiquated. But if you are already talking, taking up her time, it shows how thoughtful you are.

3. Pay for the first few dates. It’s just how it’s done. Complain all you want about a double standard, but most studies tell you men prefer it this way in the beginning. If you are dating a lot of women, or if you don’t have a lot of money, go somewhere inexpensive, or just meet for coffee or a drink. When/if a woman offers to pay, say “oh no, this is on me” or “I’ll take care of this.” It makes you look generous and well mannered, highly desirable traits in a man.

4. Do not talk about yourself for too long! So many men blather on and on during a date and don’t bother to learn about the woman they’re with. I once got asked for a second date by a guy who had done this. I asked him “How do you know you want to go out with me again? You didn’t bother to learn anything about me!” I couldn’t resist the teachable moment. A good conversation is like ping pong- I lob to you, you lob to me. I ask you about your hobbies, you ask me about the trips I’ve taken, for example. The point of going on a date is to learn about each other.

5. If you have kids and you’re dating, make sure not to keep saying “my kids come first.” Everyone knows this. Of course they come first. Men so often put this in their online profiles too, and it is very alienating to women. There has to be room in your life for this great new woman to come in, and hopefully your kids will love her too! (Same goes for your dog by the way. Don’t post 10 pictures of the dog and talk about how much you enjoy hanging out with him.)

6. Last, I like the medical credo. First do No Harm. If you go out on a date with someone, and you’re not interested, don’t ask her out again on the date and then not call. If she calls you, call her back and let her down easy. I like the line “I enjoyed meeting you, but I just don’t see us as a match.” It’s a nice, neutral statement, and it won’t hurt anyone’s feelings. This can be said in an email, or over the phone if necessary. So many men say things they don’t mean, or just disappear into thin air, leaving women angry and frustrated. Always do the kind thing. You have everything to gain. It’s not only good karma, but because you’ve demonstrated that you are considerate and have manners, she may set you up with one of her friends. And now you don’t have to worry about running into her somewhere either.

Go get ‘em Tiger – happy dating!

You can read more on this topic from Scotia Stone’s new book Damned If You Do.

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