Love Notes

A Book that Changes Lives

When I read The Way of the Peaceful Warrior as a teenager I distinctly remember noticing its subtitle – “A Book that Changes Lives” – and thinking, “It did change my life!” Beyond the impression of the story itself, I recall just sitting in the awe of this – that reading a book can change your life forever. I never dreamed I would be part of writing something so life-changing. 

Several years ago, Briana and I were having a conversation about how staying on track is one of the most important predictors of happiness and achievement. It doesn’t matter whether we want to establish a meditation practice and have a peaceful mind, build a business and generate ample income, develop positive thinking and experience more gratitude and happiness, heal old emotional wounds and repair damaged relationships, or get fit and feel energetic. Whatever change we hope to initiate, we’re much more likely to succeed at it if we have the ability to maintain a clear vision of where we’re headed, to actively align our thoughts and behaviors with this vision, and to regularly reflect, assess, and make course corrections. 

At the time we had utilized a number of different tools to assist ourselves in staying on track, but it occurred to us that we’d be best served by something we made ourselves. Thus began the construction of a planner and workbook we called The Dreambook. We hoped others would find it helpful, but we were completely shocked when it caught on like wildfire and quickly became bigger than the rest of our business. What we’re most astonished and proud of are the many tangible ways in which people’s lives have changed through using the book. In fact, over the past few years, I have encountered the phrase “It changed my life” hundreds of times in messages from Dreambook users. It brings tears to my eyes.

Many Dreambook users have told us stories about how the book and community have been a powerful force in their recovery from severe illness. They’ve explained that the clarity they have around their goals and life purpose, as drawn forth by the exercises and tracking tools in the book, helped them to stay positive. And they say the book has been instrumental in helping them incorporate community and self-care into their lives. 

One woman described how the goal-setting techniques in the book allowed her to achieve a goal of creating art and putting on an art show. Numerous members of the Dreambook community have used the goal-setting tools to write and publish books of their own. A musician who had long ago given up on the idea of making a living at music told us that, through using the Dreambook, he is now performing frequently and earning more than he did at his corporate job. Hundreds of users have written us to describe the stronger sense of community, the repaired relationships, the greater income, the spiritual connection, or the improved health the Dreambook has helped them achieve. Best of all (from our perspective) these folks report that they’re now prioritizing what they love, and they feel more happy and fulfilled than ever, and they’ve developed systems for keeping themselves on track with what really matters. 

Every year we go through the book and make it better, and this process is largely informed by the feedback of our users. The 2021 book is the best yet! 

I know I’ve said it so many times, but we feel utterly honored and blessed to be a part of helping so many people and to get to witness so many positive transformations. We’re tremendously inspired by everyone out there using the Dreambook to improve their lives and make the world a better place. 

Thank you, 

Peter & Briana

Playful Conscious Life Creation

When I was 13, I learned that it was a good idea to start carrying a mini pack of Kleenexes in my backpack. You know, just in case. As I entered young adulthood, I began to bring a sweatshirt, water bottle, pens, notebook, and snack with me. If you had asked me if I was a good planner, I would have proudly said, “Yes!” 

Meanwhile, if you asked me what courses I would be taking the following semester, where I’d be living in a year, or how much money I wanted to be making, I would have drawn a blank. My wife probably had all of these things written down by age 12. 

I mistook a little short-term preparedness for real planning. When it came to actual planning – as in, crafting a PLAN for how I intended my life to proceed – I was pretty resistant. It felt confining and unspontaneous. But I eventually learned that a lack of planning often led to suffering. It could mean disappointing other people, feeling scattered and disorganized, and being limited in what I could achieve. 

So I began to plan out of necessity. Making plans allowed me to have working relationships and a functional medical practice. Yet, I still hadn’t expanded into planning out of creativity. That didn’t dawn on me until years later. 

Then it hit me that planning is the pivotal act in accepting one’s role as a creator of one’s life. From this perspective, planning becomes like playing. It combines imagination and intention, and when we really open ourselves to this form of play, it’s truly magical. 

We created The Dreambook to help people approach planning this way – as a means of creation. It’s so much like playing that when we’re immersed in imaginative play, we may sometimes set new creations into motion. Briana started doing this spontaneously as a child. 

A few years ago, she found a diary from her tweens that she had completely forgotten about. In the diary she had written about what her adulthood would be like. It wasn’t quite the deliberate process we teach; rather, it was more of a free, self-trusting expression of what she expected to create. And even though she forgot about it, we were amazed to discover how accurately her future turned out to match her diary – right down to the dates when certain achievements would occur!

I believe it’s an especially important time for all of us to begin to approach life-creation in this way. When bad news and uncertainty can so easily color our experience of the world, it’s vital that we stoke our inner creative fire. I’m proud of how well the Dreambook has helped people recognize this fire and feed it. Please join us!

Be well,

Peter

What Does Your Liver Have to Do With Planning, Vision, and Achieving Your Goals?

What comes to mind when you hear the word “liver”? Jewish deli food? The organ that’s best known for processing alcohol and other toxins? Those brown spots old people get on their hands?  I’m probably an outlier in that I tend to think of an army general or CEO. 

In Traditional Chinese Medicine, each of our internal organs plays a role in our psychological makeup, and the liver relates to our ability to plan. It’s often likened to a general because this officer needs to be a great planner in order to win battles. I prefer to think of life as a game rather than a battle, but in any case, the ability to create plans and follow through on them is necessary for the smooth operation of so many aspects of life – healthy relationships, a meaningful career, a balanced household, setting and achieving goals, and pretty much everything else. 

Each of the internal organs is associated with a particular sense organ on the surface of the body, and the liver’s sense organ is the eyes. It’s through this connection that the liver is said to give us the vision necessary to see where we want to go and how to get there. 

In addition, each organ is said to preside over a certain aspect of consciousness. The liver presides over the hun – the “dreaming soul” – where we go when we dream. And this, too, speaks to the liver’s role as planner, because the hun gives us the ability to project ourselves beyond who we’ve been and what we’ve done in the past – to envision a new way of being. 

When these functions of the liver are working optimally, we are able to see clearly in our mind’s eye what we want to accomplish. We plan effectively and have the perspective to take obstacles in stride – knowing there are always ways to grow around them if we stay flexible and don’t lose sight of our goal. We build efficient structure into our life to help us navigate toward our dreams. 

Few people are born this way, but everyone can learn and strengthen these skills. These were some of the concepts that inspired Briana and me seven years ago to create our own system for planning and achieving goals – the Dreambook

In the years since then thousands of people have used the Dreambook to discover with crystal clarity what really makes them happy and fulfilled and to create effective plans to bring this to the forefront of their lives. 

At this time when so much seems uncertain, it’s more important than ever to build upon what is certain – your values, your purpose, your gifts, your power of choice, and your ability to create. That’s what this book is all about. 

The 2021 edition is on sale now and it’s better than ever. Please check it out. I know you’ll benefit from this process. 

Be well,

Peter

Purpose

Every year we collect more and more stories from people who have used The Dreambook to achieve clarity about what kind of life they want to create and then made it a reality. Maybe because of the craziness of 2020, there’s been a big surge of interest in the book this year, so I decided to share a little about what makes it special. 

In a time of such uncertainty, many of us tend to abandon long-term and even medium-term plans, just focusing instead on getting through each day. Unfortunately, this isn’t really the same as living in the present moment, and that’s where the richness of life dwells. If there were ever a time to live for the present, it’s now. 

While the Dreambook is designed to help people with 1-year, 3-year, 10-year, and lifetime goals, our overarching intention is to help people enrich the journey rather than the destination. The journey is always happening, so it needs to be as full of the good stuff as we imagine the destination will be. 

Thich Nhat Hanh’s discussion on washing the dishes is one of the most quoted passages on the topic of mindfulness, but I could hear it and share it a million times: “There are two ways to wash the dishes. The first is to wash the dishes in order to have clean dishes and the second is to wash the dishes in order to wash the dishes. . . . If while washing the dishes, we think only of the cup of tea that awaits us, thus hurrying to get the dishes out of the way as if they were a nuisance, then we are not ‘washing the dishes to wash the dishes.’ What’s more, we are not alive during the time we are washing the dishes.”

The consequences of mindlessly washing the dishes may be minor, but what about the consequences of mindlessly eating, mindlessly doing our job, mindlessly playing with our kids, or mindlessly conversing with our partner? A life without our presence – because we’re just trying to get through it – is devoid of the magic, connection, and grace that make it worth living. 

There are a number of ways to change this outcome-focused orientation. One of the most potent, which we share in the Dreambook, is identifying your life purpose

When you have a purpose, you’re conscious that you’re serving a bigger function than meeting your own needs. When you’re “on purpose,” energy arises to support your work. Opportunities appear everywhere. And, most importantly, you spend more of your life right here, right now, alive and clear. 

Various methods exist for determining your life purpose, but when it comes down to it, it’s a matter of intuiting what you’re meant to do, feeling it out, and choosing to pursue it. It’s okay if you later decide to modify that choice.

We have a more involved process in the Dreambook, but for today let’s see what comes to you with just a few minutes of contemplation. Grab a pen and paper and write a few sentences in response to these questions: 

What times and places in your life have you felt you were making a meaningful contribution?

What inspires you? 

What would people say your strengths are? 

When/how do you feel called to serve humankind or the planet? 

What are your highest values (e.g., kindness, generosity, honesty, service, integrity, beauty, etc.)? 

Based on these responses, craft a statement that conveys how you intend to serve the world. Here are some examples:

  • My purpose is to help people heal through creative expression.
  • My life purpose is to build healthy communities. 
  • My purpose is to help people use their voices and awaken their power. 
  • My purpose is to facilitate playfulness in adults.
  • My purpose is to teach people how to live in harmony with the environment. 
  • My purpose is to help people actualize their potential. 

Don’t worry about getting the statement perfect on the first round. For now, choose a statement of life purpose and read it out loud and with intention. How does that feel? Ideally, making this statement should feel powerful and right, or as my friend Reuvain puts it, it should feel like a “Hell yeah!”. It might even give you goosebumps or tingles. If it feels a bit intimidating, that’s ok, too, as long as it also feels true. 

If it doesn’t feel like a “hell yeah!” change some of the wording. Consider making it less specific. For instance, if a statement such as, “My purpose is to help children to become healthy adults by learning to process their emotions” doesn’t feel as inspiring as you hoped, you could start by broadening it to something like, “My purpose is to help children process their emotions,” or even just, “My purpose is to help children.” Just get it as accurate as you can manage and then write it down. I recommend writing it in a special way on a nice piece of paper. Put it somewhere where you’ll see it and say it every morning. 

More importantly, try to keep it in mind throughout your day, applying it as often as you can. Use the Dreambook to integrate it into your weekly planning process and your goals. You can also use the Habit Tracking function to help you remember and assess your progress. 

What changes when you’re on purpose? Is it easier to make decisions? Do people respond differently to you? Is there more energy available? Consciously living your purpose is the only way to know if it’s right. As you live your purpose, you’ll get insights that will help you refine your purpose statement. I’d love to hear about your experience with this process. 

 

Be well,

Peter

P.S. My life purpose to love, heal, and awaken myself and the world. I hope I’ve served that purpose today!

Topsy Turvy Times

One day last March we got word that when we picked up our kids from school they wouldn’t be coming back for the rest of the month. A few weeks later, they told us to come clean out their cubbies and desks – there wouldn’t be school for the rest of the year. Meanwhile, we were told that our spas also had to shut down. Walking around downtown Boulder, I saw mostly dark storefronts and almost no cars or pedestrians. Sometimes I’d go into a grocery store and the shelves would be nearly bare. It was surreal … and it still is. 

Life is always unpredictable. But the amplified uncertainty of the current time plus the absence of many aspects of human culture that usually provide a backdrop of consistency in our lives – restaurants, concerts, school, work, team sports, movies, etc. – results in a feeling of profound instability for many people.

I believe one of the healthiest ways to respond to this instability is to create a plan and improve personal integrity – two things we focus on in our Dreambook. When we started working on the first edition seven years ago, there was no pandemic and yet we still had dozens of friends and clients who were unsure of their vision for the future or how to move forward. At this time, it’s needed more than ever. 

The first section of the Dreambook features processes to help you get clear about what matters most to you. What feeds your soul? What supports your deepest values? What brings your gifts into the world? What makes life feel playful? When you know these things about yourself, you’re better able to manage the uncertainty of life due to your own inner stability. 

Then we teach you how to make plans. There’s a unique added challenge to planning when you don’t know whether you’ll be able to leave the country or if summer camp will be happening. When you have a plan, though, when something unexpected occurs you can make adjustments as needed, but you still know the direction you’re headed. Without a plan, detours and obstacles may cause you to feel totally aimless and without a compass. 

Plans don’t work without integrity though. We have to honor our word, being clear and honest with ourselves about the agreements we make and always following through on them. If we don’t keep our agreements, they’re worse than meaningless. Besides not getting the result we hoped for, we end up undermining our self-trust. But if we always do what we say we’re going to do, our self-trust grows stronger. At a time when it feels there’s not much we can trust in the world, knowing we can always trust ourselves is monumental. 

It’s possible for this topsy-turvy period to actually facilitate a vital reorientation in your life: where you honor and prioritize your values, gifts, and purpose, and you create effective, intelligent, soul-supporting plans to bring your dreams into reality. Thousands of people have utilized the Dreambook as a resource for making this happen. The new 2021 edition of the is wire bound and available now in Classic White, Greenwood, and Periwinkle. 

Be well,

Peter

Where you are going to be in 3 months?

Hi loves —

I have something important that you need to read right now. 

January 2020 is just over three months away. 

How does that make you feel? 

How has this year unfolded? 

Let yourself think back to January 2019. Who were you then? What were you hoping for, dreaming of, and planning? What did you want this year to BE? Maybe you sat down and created a list of goals for your year, with your cup of tea & your favorite pens. Maybe you set out to learn to play the ukelele, finally clean out the garage, change your job, start your blog. Maybe you wanted to *feel* differently — to drink more water and move your body more so that you feel more energetic, alive & bright.  Maybe you wanted to connect more deeply with your partner, carving out more time for date nights or trips to the beach. 

So my question for you today is: did you do it? 

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What if Sundays were never Scary: My Weekly Planner Ritual

We know so many people who dread the start of their week.

A quick scroll through Facebook on a Sunday or Monday and you’ll see so many reminders that most people are simply trying to get through the week, hoping that they can survive until the weekend without too much overwhelm and drama. You’ll see countdowns til Friday, memes about “the Mondays” or reminders of the Sunday Scaries, when people start to dread the end of their weekend.

What if instead you got excited for Monday, because you look forward to living your dreams all week? Imagine if you spent your Sundays looking forward to a week routine that is inspired, aligned, and organized!

Even beyond that, picture yourself able to look ahead with certainty, knowing that you have already made time in your upcoming schedule for doing everything you must get done, PLUS you had also built in time for rest, play, attending to your physical and spiritual health, and spending meaningful time with family and friends? You were dreaming and planning your way into a fulfilled and balanced week.

Suddenly, Monday wouldn’t feel so overwhelming, would it?

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