The Job of Your Life with Karen Schaffer

Get out of your rut and find your passion

Archive for October, 2009

Why there is still a “Bright Side” to being Positive (more so than Barbara wants you to think there is)

Posted by Karen on October 22, 2009

I was watching a DVRed episode of The Daily Show with Jon Stewart from earlier this week and the guest was Barbara Ehrenreich, the author of “Bright-Sided: How the Relentless Promotion of Positive Thinking Has Undermined America”. Jon greeted her with “Hi grumpy” and the interview went from there.

Now, I cannot say I have read this book, but what I gleaned from the author was that the book had stemmed from her own experiences with illness and with people telling her she had to “think positive” in order to heal. This lead her into writing a book that I believe she hopes will debunk the idea that positive thinking does any lot of good. She then went on to sniff at quantum physics as a means to explaining the law of attraction and made fun of feeling “the vibes” of a situation. She also said that while people told her she was going to have a spiritual journey and come out the other side learning more about herself and life, she – quite amusingly – said that wasn’t what happened with her at all.

Here’s what I’ll agree to in what Ehrenreich talks about:

First, that this culture of “positive thinking” around illness inhibits people from expressing what they need to express during an illness – which is a whole range of thoughts and feelings ranging from fear and anger all the way through to blessed and grateful. Without acknowledgement and then acceptance of the “what’s so” (and name me one person who doesn’t get scared in life period, much less when a cancer diagnosis is added to the mix) then positive thinking is basically layering itself on top of deeper, unexpressed emotions. It’s the pretending or even believing “everything is okay” without addressing the underlying fears, which do the damage. The “positive thinker” is trying to change with thinking alone and I believe emotions have to be a part of the picture for true change to take place.

Which, two, leads to the other thing I agree with Ehrenreich about:

Positive thinking, all by its lonesome, doesn’t work.

Changing one’s thinking is important, no question. Learning to be present and accountable for the thoughts in your head and learning to transform those from taking you down a negative path to a more reasonable outcome is a big, important step in self-development. It’s also one of the first major steps, because until you can really hear and be present to what you tell yourself all day long, it’s hard to hear the more subtle messages from your body, emotional and spiritual self. Our heads tend to drown those other suckers out if we don’t manage them better.

Still, there were a lot of things I didn’t agree with Ehrenreich.

What we’re learning, what I’m learning from other great Masters of Emotion, is that it’s not about (just) thinking positive, but about feeling positive.

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Posted in Emotional Life as connected to Career | Leave a Comment »

Nice Long Juicy Thoughts from Deepak Chopra

Posted by Karen on October 11, 2009

I think this is a brilliant quote…there’s so much richness in these ideas. Learning how to “be” with your hurt is the only way through to something different – the way to happiness through freedom of emotion. The more you accept what is, the more spacious and wonderful life is. Enjoy.

“Unhappy people are always confused when they are told to try and be happy.

Their minds are occupied by grievances; there seems to be no room for new experiences that might be uplifting, and even if they came along, they would be seen through the gray haze of one’s misery.

So the search cannot be for happy experiences. Those are already available in abundance. The search is for an opening that allows happiness to become your experience. This opening comes about very differently from the way most people suppose. Most people try to make themselves happy by forcing their unhappy feelings underground, or by turning their backs on them or pretending that they don’t exist.

If you have a closet stuffed with junk, the best way to find room for new stuff is to clean the closet. In this case the closet is the nervous system, and one cleans it out at the level of awareness.

Communicate your desire to be free of this hurt. Ask for inner guidance to The healing process isn’t mystical; it involves well-known practical steps.

Look directly at what hurts you and let it show you what to do. Listen to what you feel, but don’t give in to it. Know for certain that you can remove old hurts. Be patient, since you will have to return to your old hurt many times.

Most people feel trapped by their resentments because their behavior runs counter to these steps. They don’t look honestly at their hurt but focus instead on blaming someone outside themselves. They don’t communicate a desire to let go of their anger but keep nursing it. Instead of listening to what they feel in the moment, they replay the same tired reactions from the past. Instead of being patient, they take a few stabs at healing only to conclude that there’s nothing to be done.”

Adapted from: Peace Is the Way, by Deepak Chopra (Harmony Books, 2005).

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Me on Video!

Posted by Karen on October 10, 2009

I recently did a short video with Bill Vick who has a number of sites incliding to helping people with their careers. He approached me via Twitter (thanks Bill!) and we met on Skype and recorded this short take on authentic job searching. The internet just blows me away sometimes, especially when I think about how little I used it a mere 11 years ago.

Anyway, it was a good experiment in online video creation for me. Perhaps I’ll finally get myself on YouTube one of these days.

So this is your chance…if you’re curious about what I look like or finding out how much I throw my hands around when I talk (quarter Italian…it’s hard for me to keep still), check out this link and scroll down for me. I’ve cut off all my hair since I did this (well, not ALL my hair but a good portion of it) so you’ll have to imagine that part of it. Let me know what you think!

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Moment of Gratitude for #BeOriginal

Posted by Karen on October 10, 2009

Learning all about Twitter these days…which is a little distracting from this dear blog, but a good way to touch base daily with online creativity. 

One of the cool things you can do on Twitter is add a hashtag (#) in front of a topic that allows users to find comments and tweets on that subject. One of my favourites is #beoriginal that allows people to generate their own quotes and tweet them to others.

It’s quite a challenge to share thoughts from The Job of Your Life (I’ve discovered I write LONG sentences…under 140 characters is rare) and yet quite fun. Takes me back to my Grade 12 English class when I learned about “precis” – the art of writing short.

Anyway…here’s a link to a bunch of #beoriginal quotations – lots of great advice and insight…including some from JOYL.

Thanks to Joan Koerber Walker for creating the original #beoriginal hashtag and then capturing  the results on a dedicated web page!

p.s. And follow me on Twitter at  – My tweets show up below left on this blog but not as neatly as in the Twitter-verse, and only five at a time. You don’t need your own account to follow someone. That’s one of the rad things about Twitter…lurking is totally cool.

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