Mindfulness: The Source of Suffering and Happiness

“Our level of awareness at any given moment determines the quality of our experience.”
– Michael Neill
From the book, The Inside Out Revolution

A few days ago, I woke up in a low mood, feeling a little anxious. Immediately, I started searching my mind for the cause. And then I caught myself.

I know that my thinking causes my moods. And, I am still sometimes tempted to believe that some outside circumstance caused me to feel blue.

So, I discontinued searching my mental hard drive and got about my day. A couple of hours later, after I had finished working with a coaching client, I noticed that the low mood had vanished.

I had to smile. Of course it had. Whenever I work with a client, I experience life from a higher state of awareness. I consciously structure our time together to make sure of that.

Even if I’m in a low mood when the client calls, I shift before we begin our work. I ask them if they want to leave anything outside the door. I’ve already noticed inside me if I want to leave anything outside the door.

How liberating to realize that my own thoughts and my own level of  awareness create my suffering or my happiness . . .
How liberating to realize that my own thoughts and my own
level of awareness create my suffering or my happiness . . .

Then, I create a new space for both of us to experience a higher state of awareness. I lead us through a formal opening for our time together.

How I do that depends on the client. It could be as simple as taking two deep breaths together. Or, we might listen to one note on a chime until it dissipates. Or, I’ll lead us through an affirmative prayer or draw a Soul Coaching card for them.

So, after working with my client, I felt great. I was experiencing a high mood. And, when I thought about the things that I had thought about from the low mood, I had an entirely different perspective.

From my low mood, taking the car for an oil change felt like a burden. From my high mood, I felt great about taking good care of the car and happy I found an excellent mechanic in Santa Fe.

From my low mood, I felt cranky about having to write metatags for my new website. After working with my client, I felt excited to get them written, because they would help more people find my website.

And the list goes on. You get the idea. An oil change or meta tags don’t cause my suffering or my happiness. My own thoughts and my own level of awareness create my suffering or my happiness.

I love to use tools, like the formal opening for coaching sessions, to keep my awareness level high.

What about you? If tools are fun and helpful for you, too,
I’m so excited to share a package of three tools with you:

Oak Tree

Strong from Within, 1 – The Quick Audio Package
(3 recordings)
All recordings by Ann Strong

  1.  You Are a Fountain of Blessings
      5-minute meditation
  2.  Divine Authority
      2-minute affirmative prayer
  3.  Source
      1-minute reality reminder

I found a wonderful platform from which to share this package. It allows you to name your price – even free!

My suggested price is $6.75 for the package of 3. And, if you don’t want to use your credit card on the Internet or your personal development account is taxed, then please accept this package as my gift!

I received feedback from several people a couple of weeks ago that naming your price made them nervous. How do they know if it’s worth $6.75 or $50.00? If they don’t pay, will I judge them? I totally hear you.

If you’re thinking something like that, please don’t deny yourself these wonderful recordings – get them as my gift. I not only won’t judge you, I will be thrill to be of service to you!

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Post comments and insights below . . .

Strong from Within

Bringing alignment to the
internal struggle.

So many inner voices.
All with ideas and gifts
And needs.

Often competing.

Bringing alignment to the
internal struggle.



Orchestrating an
internal symphony.

Ah, to be strong from within like the deeply-rooted tree who also reaches toward the sky...

Ah, to be strong from within like the deeply-rooted tree
who also reaches toward the sky…


Fully You.
Radiantly alive.
Gloriously messy.

Bringing alignment to the
internal struggle.

Strong from Within.
Fully You.

Post your comments and insights below.


Announcing the winner of the solo retreat in Santa Fe
(A $1900 value)!!!!!

Special mention to:
who also posted more than 10 comments on the blog.

Brenda, Mary and Janet, watch your in-box in the next couple of days for an email from me . . .

Also, thank you to:
Gina Garris
Eleanor Grannis
Cinny Mills
Stephanie West
for posting comments on the blog.


My book, “Thriving Work” is now available
on Kindle at Amazon for just $3.99:
Click here to order

How Might Whole Use of Empathy Look?

Earlier this week, I passed my oral exam and officially became a Certified Strengths Strategy Coach!  I’ve never been certified in anything before. So this is significant because of how strongly I believe in the value of going deeper with the Gallup StrengthsFinder™ assessment.

While all 34 strengths are created equal, a few seem to create more havoc AND, when used at an optimal “volume” create extraordinary outcomes. 

Empathy tops that list.  I know this one from personal experience – Empathy is my 2nd strength and in the top 5 for dozens of my clients, friends and colleagues.

flowers in a field

My Empathy loves feeling these sunflowers
and evergreens in the mist!


And what I’ve noticed over the years:  whole use of Empathy, optimal volume of Empathy, involves two things: mindfulness and boundaries with Empathy for those around us and a practice of Empathy for ourselves.

Mindfulness and Boundaries with Empathy
for Those around Us

From sheer necessity, I made a deal with Spirit a few years ago:  If it is optimal, I will feel it.  If it isn’t, I won’t.  It took me awhile to come to this specific boundary because I wrestled with optimal for whom.  Eventually my 3rd strength, Connectedness, kicked in to remind me: for all.  Now, when I do feel someone else’s pain, excitement, grief – whatever it is – I often name it or ask about it.  Which then tends to open up life-affirming conversations because that person feels so seen.

Mindfulness and boundaries show up in many different forms.  One of my clients is vigilant about visualizing an energy bubble around herself at all times.  She still feels others, but their feelings don’t come into her own energy field and deplete her.  Another uses her strength of Adaptability to moderate Empathy.  One of my friends believes Empathy is one of his greatest gifts and only occasionally feels the need to take time for himself to re-energize.  I consider him a bit of a saint!

A Practice of Empathy for Ourselves
One of the most powerful and overlooked practices with any and all of our strengths involves using them toward ourselves, in relationship with ourselves.  This tends to be a brand new concept for most of us.

Wow!  Look at all of that untapped potential in the most important relationship of our lives – the one with ourselves.  How different is my experience of my own life when I give myself the gift of Empathy within?!?

This one idea has changed the course of my life.  As I have become more compassionate and less judgmental with myself, I have lessened my internal struggle.  As I have paid attention to how I feel, I have less of a need for others to understand how I feel.  And, I’m better able to communicate my feelings and needs in a way that my loved ones can hear!

What about you?  If Empathy is in your top 5 StrengthsFinder™ strengths, how might you play with it a bit? Even if it isn’t in your top 5 or you haven’t taken the StrengthsFinder asessment, what do you notice about Empathy for you?

Post your comments, insights and progress below.

If you haven’t yet taken the StrengthsFinder™ assessment, I highly recommend it!

It costs $19.99 and takes 30 – 40 minutes to complete.

They will immediately email you your top 5 strengths and a report about them.

I would love to know your to 5 strengths, if you’d like to share them with me!


Feeling Disoriented or Lost?

If you are feeling disoriented or lost and sense you are being called to a deeper relationship with the Divine, let’s have a conversation to explore if the one-on-one Align with Source coaching program would be a good fit for you.


My book, “Thriving Work” is now available
on Kindle at Amazon for just $3.99:
Click here to order

Mindfulness: How Might We Stop Judging?

How might we stop judging?

Let’s back up for a moment.  Why might we be interested in releasing judgment?  Hmmm.  Who do we judge the most?  Even when we judge others, isn’t there an element of self-judgment?

What’s the cost of judging ourselves?  Well, what’s the cost of an internal war?

“Oh, it’s not that big a deal.  Everybody judges, right.  It’s just human nature.”  What if that’s true only as long as we believe it’s true?

How would my life be different, how would your life be different if we stopped making ourselves wrong?  About anything.

Seem impossible?  Maybe even wrong? Ah, there we go . . .

pink flower

I love to take my cues from nature.  Would
this wonderous one judge itself? I think not. 
Maybe that’s the secret.  A judgment is simply
a thought.  Why don’t I think a different thought?!?

I’m not posing these questions because I no longer judge myself about anything ever and now I think you should stop too.

I’m asking because I’m in this inquiry and I’m wondering if you’d like to join me?  How does it feel to you?  It’s an amazing inquiry for me.  Maybe it’s not right for you.  Or maybe it feels intriguing to you, too.

If you’d like to play, what if we noticed when we judge ourselves or made ourselves wrong, and then asked ourselves, “How might this be right, great or perfect that I just don’t see yet?”  And then, holding it lightly, be on the lookout for what we hadn’t seen before . . .

Feel free to post your comments or insights below.


Would you love on-going inspiration for the Third Chapter of your life?

I highly recommend my friend Rolf Evenson’s new digital magazine,
“Boomers Rising.”

Boomers Rising is the world’s leading digital magazine for “encore entrepreneurs” inspired by a vision of passion, prosperity and purpose.

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– Confidence in Your Business
– Top 10 Food Lies that Keep Us Sick and Fat
– The Tribes We Lead
– Lessons Learned on E Street (Think Bruce!)
– The Illusive Obvious

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Check it out HERE.


My book, “Thriving Work” is now available
on Kindle at Amazon for just $3.99:
Click here to order

Affirmative Prayers: I Was Born for This

Today I offer you one of the poems/affirmative prayers from my forthcoming book with a working title of:  Strong from Within: Simple perceptions and practices for returning to the joy of you.


I used to wonder
Why does nobody see this?
Why hasn’t this already been done?
Why do I want something
that nobody else seems to want?

Doubt, self-judgment.
Telling myself to be happy with what is.

Yet, it didn’t leave me alone.

If only we could each be as clear as this magnificent tree, I was born  for this.

If only we could each be as clear as this
magnificent tree, “I was born for this.”

And so I began to realize
This is mine.
My part.  My vision.  My love.

This is why I’m here.
I was born for this.

My expression.
My contribution.
Expressing and gifting
what I alone can give.

My way.
Unusual.  Precious.  Needed.
My full expression.
Contributing to the Whole.
I was born for this.

I was born for this.

So, what about you?  What were you born for?  If you’re not sure, what’s your next step in knowing?  How can I help?

Feel free to post your comments, insights and experiences below.


My book, “Thriving Work” is now available
on Kindle at Amazon for just $3.99:
Click here to order

Conscious Choice: Mild Preferences Free Us

All suffering comes from our need to have things a certain way.

I can hear your protests.  I can hear them because I’ve had them, too.  I still sometimes have them.  “I’m suffering because of this illness or physical pain.”  “I’m suffering because someone I love died.”  “I’m suffering because I don’t have enough money.”  And our lists go on.

When I feel sick or experience pain, even chronic pain, it is my thinking that causes the suffering.  “I shouldn’t be in pain.  I’m tired of this.  When will I feel better? I can’t take another minute of this . . .”  When I accept what is, when I allow things to be as they are, rather than how I think I need them to be, then the suffering stops.

I may still be uncomfortable with the pain and that too will shift.  When I have a mild preference for being pain-free, then I create more space for the pain to ease or for me modify how I do my day even while experiencing the pain.

beautiful middle aged woman

Mild preferences move us toward accepting what is. 
As we accept what is, we eliminate suffering.

When we feel out of control, we tend to have strong preferences.  We become very attached to those preferences and when they don’t happen, we feel even more out of control.  Quickly, we spin into a downward spiral.

If instead, we can use the feeling of being out of control as the signal to dial back our preference to mild, we then begin an upward spiral.  “It would be great if I felt better,  And, I don’t feel so good at the moment.  And, this is what I can do even while feeling this way.”

Mild preferences move us toward accepting what is.  Because the preference is mild, I’m fine even if I don’t get what I prefer in a moment.  My own personal experience in working with dialing back my preferences to mild: what I would prefer often naturally comes to pass.  I suspect this happens because I don’t have such heavy, attachment energy involved in the mix.

So, what about you?  In what area of your life might you like to play with dialing your preferences back to mild?

Feel free to post your comments, insights and experiences with your strengths below.


Curious about living and working from your strengths?
Strong You Strategy Consultation

I have a gift for three fortunate people!
Are you one of them?

You may be one of them if:

–  You have taken the StrengthsFinde (SF) assessment and know your top 5 strengths or would like to take it now and learn your top 5 strengths.

–  You have a big vision or an inkling of what’s next for you, yet you’re frustrated by lack of progress or challenges.

–  You know instinctually that you’ll bring your big vision to reality by strengthening your strengths rather than trying to fix your weaknesses.

To receive this gift, be one of the first three people to email me with your top 5 SF strengths and a couple of sentences about your big vision and challenges.


My book, “Thriving Work” is now available
on Kindle at Amazon for just $3.99:
Click here to order

StrengthsFinder™: Who’s in Charge Inside You?

Any time we feel frustrated, overwhelmed or stressed, we have an opportunity to call forth different aspects of ourselves to feel calmer, more fulfilled and peaceful.

Recently one of my clients felt stressed because she’s transitioning into new work and her Strategic wanted to look at the many ways she could proceed.  Before Strategic could assess and choose the best one, Activator got impatient and wanted to get going.  Activator didn’t care about the steps involved.  Activator just wanted to get going.

Internal conflict.

When I asked her which of her top strengths wanted to play (and lessen the conflict), she answered immediately, in a much softer tone.  Developer spoke up.  “When I work with my clients, I help them take the next step.  Just one.” Then Positivity chimed in: “And that is great, that is enough.”

My client immediately relaxed as Developer and Positivity balanced Strategic and Activator.

Each of our strengths has their own "personality" and their own needs.  As we come to know and understand each, we have this amazing opportunity to create synergistic internal teamwork!

Each of our strengths has their own “personality” and their own needs.  As we come to know and understand each, we have this amazing opportunity to create synergistic internal teamwork!


Ah, the good life.  When we notice we have many internal “characters” and they all have needs, we can greatly reduce internal conflict by allowing them all to play.

The trick is: in the right order, at the right time, for the right reasons and at the right intensity!

So, that’s a bit about one of my clients’ stories.  Now, take her out and put you in.  Who wants to play?

If you haven’t taken the StrengthsFinder™ assessment to learn your top 5 strengths, it takes just 30 – 40 minutes and $19.99.

It will change your life, if you allow yourself to stay with your strengths daily rather than thinking you must improve your weaknesses.

Feel free to post your comments, insights and experiences with your strengths below.

– – – – – – – – – –

Invest in your strength:
Strong You Clarity Day

If you are on the verge of letting go of trying to fix yourself, I am honored to hold the space for you to step into your Self.

Let’s devote this day to focusing on your strengths, your brilliance, your happiness and your dreams.

$1100 for the first 2 G Notes readers
who book before May 23 for a day in June.
(Regularly $1500)

Send an email to me to book your day.  Include four days that you are available 10 am – 5 pm, Tues – Sat.

If you would like help discerning if this day would be a good fit for you, call me on my direct office line to talk about it.

– – – – – – – – – –

My book, “Thriving Work” is now available
on Kindle at Amazon for just $3.99:
Click here to order

Self Acceptance: Wishing You Could Rid Yourself Of Your Ugly Parts?

Recently, I had a conversation with a potential client who told me that she wanted to “just get rid of my laziness and procrastination.”  Shortly after that I heard myself telling my own coach that I was “sick of going back and forth in my romantic relationship.”  In exasperation, I exclaimed, “Can’t I just get rid of HER?!?”  As if SHE is not me.

Fortunately, I heard myself.  And, I realized that as I quit trying to get rid of HER and actually take the time to listen to her, I not only learn something valuable about me, but I also quit fighting me.  And, as I let go of the internal struggle, I create space to be a better me.

I’m just beginning to get it that as I serve as a sacred witness to all of me, then I naturally evoke more of the best of me!  And, it tends to be so much easier to offer that unconditional compassion and acceptance to my clients rather than to myself.  Luckily, I have this great job in which a big part of my job description involves walking my talk!

What about you?  Which parts of yourself do you tend to wish you could get rid of?  Would you be willing to practice more
self-compassion, self-acceptance, self-love?

Can you imagine what a different world we would live in if every person on the planet were willing to let go of their own internal war?  That’s a world worth moving toward!

Self Acceptance: Noticing my ego take a ride

After I wrote about bringing attentiveness, clarity, generosity, strength and love to situations and interactions last week, I quickly got to experience falling short!  Ah, to be human . . .

I go to the same coffee bar almost every day and have playful interaction with most of the baristas.  A few days ago, I took it too far. I was in line behind an older gentleman who got confused several times while ordering his drink and cookie.  At one point he even asked if he’d ordered a cookie that sat right in front of him.  The barista patiently and kindly answered all his questions, and then exchanged a frustrated glance with me.

I then ordered my coffee and chatted with the barista about our weekends.  While walking out the door, I asked him as a joke, my coffee in hand, “did I order a drink?”

As soon as I said it and saw him glance out to the patio, I felt bad.  The man with the cookie was sitting on the patio, probably didn’t hear me, but what if he had?  

I reflected on why I had made a joke at someone else’s expense.  I like being a regular.  I like having a personal relationships with the baristas.  And, ick, I wanted to feel superior.  To someone who was having a tough time in the moment.  Ouch.  Okay, no wonder I felt bad.

So, while driving home, I fully felt feeling bad.  Then I offered compassion to all of us – the man, the barista and me.  Then I forgave myself and let it go with a strong resolve to bring more attention to a situation before I react from my ego.  Ah, the practice . . .

Self-improvement: Knowing my security from the inside

Every day for the past several days, I have been noticing anything I feel scared or anxious about and transforming it.  Working with the simple yet powerful concept that I already have everything I need inside me, I notice what’s causing the fear or anxiety and then find a way to know it from the inside rather than expect it from the outside.

I’d love to share a bit of my process so that you can use this transformation tool, too.

For example, in my business, I got scared and anxious when I felt enough money wasn’t coming in.  So, I asked myself:  why do I want the money?  What do I believe the money will give me?  I want the money to pay my bills.  I believe the money will give me security.  Okay, how can I feel, how can I be security right now?  

I don’t have to wait long for the intuitive answer to come to my conscious awareness.  Spending a few minutes laying on the ground, under a tree, being with the sky though the leaves of that tree helps me instantly feel plugged into All That Is and I feel secure.  Wow.  Easy.  Doable.  Highly effective.  Sure beats the alternative of panicking!

An example from my personal life:  I felt sad and scared when it seemed that a friend was “abandoning” me in a moment in favor of another friend.  Okay, why do I want my friend to “choose me?”  What do I believe me being chosen will give me?  I want to be chosen to demonstrate I’m valuable.  When I’m chosen, I feel important.  I feel I matter to that person.  Okay, how can I feel valuable, important and that I matter right now?

A couple of answers come to mind.  I have taken the time to put the focus on me and what’s going on with me.  I am valuing myself, prioritizing myself and indicating to myself that I matter to me!  And, I have many friends.  If I would like to spend time with a friend, I can value that experience for me and reach out to another friend.  Wow.  I know I matter and I feel valuable and important.

My whole life becomes better in two ways when I transform these “yucky” feelings.  First, I get to feel and be what I desire – secure and valuable, no matter what’s going on or what others around me do or don’t do.  Secondly, I am now in the energy of “security” and “valuable,” so I naturally attract more experiences of security and valuable, including more money flowing in and more friends who treat me like I am important to them!

I am so jazzed about this transformation process right now, I am considering teaching a 3-week, 1-hour each week tele-class for $89.

I would love your input.  

What about this tele-class might interest you?  If you took it, what would you most love to take away from it at the end of the 3 weeks?

Please take a moment to comment and give me the thoughts off the top of your head.  Thanks in advance!