This post was actually inspired by another that I felt was quite shallow. It claimed that we need less attachments to have peace but it actually went a little too far (in my opinion) by suggesting that we should have more of a “sweep responsibility under the rug” mentality. Of course, if you sweep too many things under the rug, a hump develops that will cause people to trip.
I prefer a more straight-forward approach that is meeting your issues head-on. These are 6 areas that I believe will lead to a much fuller life; one with meaning and purpose.
Seeking Others’ Approval
This is somewhat true and somewhat false. To be able to get things done in your own life, there needs to be some approval by others. Living your life to please others is different…because it is impossible to please everyone. But I guarantee you, if you want to ever have a happy marriage or decent career, you need to find the happy medium. If you are so selfish and so rich that you believe that this doesn’t apply to you, have a happy empty life and stop reading this post.
For the most part, social media is something that you can control. If you do not want to see the embarrassing pictures from when you got drunk at the party last weekend, stop doing stupid shit like that and they won’t have anything to take a picture of. And if you are using any branch of social media as your main means of communication, you need help. Try Skype (That’s a joke).
“Live in the moment” is commonly heard these days. While there are great reasons to experience great moments, if that is what you live for, your life will be empty and you may die that way. Better said may be to live as if it were your last day alive and care for your posterity, not so much your posterior.
Rather than toss your exes out on their arses like dirty laundry when you have had enough of them, maybe you should look introspectively and figure out why you end up with short term relationships, abusive people, etc. Examine your own choices rather than tossing them in the dirty laundry bin. Keep it up and sooner or later, the dirty laundry will have to be dealt with.
The Fallacy of Indecision
Indecision has played itself off as a procrastination or longer choice for making a decision. Here is the truth. Indecision is a decision. It is Plan C when you only had Plan A or B. Make a conscious decision to make a decision (even if it is the wrong one) or alleviate the phrase “I don’t know” from your daily vocabulary.
Dwelling on the Past
The only thing you can change about the past is how you look at it. There are always, I repeat, ALWAYS something positive that can come from any negative event in our life. For examples, please refer to the Not So Typical Thanksgiving List. It really does depend on how you look at it. I have seen people give thanks for some of the most horrific events because it led them to a new understanding of their own purpose in life. There is much healing in this.
While these are just short bits of wisdom that have been learned through much trial and error, each of them can be expounded upon greatly. Of course, you don’t have to agree with all of them. You can choose to find out for yourself…and make your own mistakes to learn from. I prefer to attempt to “stand on the shoulders of giants” whenever I can.
I am a bundle of feelings right now. I have not written in this blog for quite some time. My interests and desires have been elsewhere. Work. The worries of life. Self. Many of us either have been there or are there now.
But this has helped me to examine the motive for our actions if we have this habit. This habit, that I speak of can be explained like this. You have strayed away from something you know you need to do. You are procrastinating from doing it because you do not want the feeling of guilt about inaction. It is easier to not do it and say that you just stopped rather than deal with that feeling when you do start.
You can actually turn it backwards and look at quitting a habit or addiction like smoking (some of us can talk about this because we have faced it). Quitting smoking involves changing a character trait or modifying it. It is easier sometimes to start up again, say “I failed” and not have the struggle than to keep the struggle going. We get relief from starting up again. Yes, relief. Relief from the battle. Relief from everyone asking about our struggle. Relief from wondering what we actually can do with our hands since we are not smoking. It is easier than changing ourselves.
Turning it back around, though, what about things we are supposed to do, should do or are “expected” to do.
Some are simple.
Some are hard.
Simple things like writing in the blog. You know that you feel more complete and whole when you do. It allows you to “empty” your soul or rant or whatever but it is beneficial to you. If you do not type that much normally, it helps to improve this skill at least. But it takes the effort to do so.
Hard things like saying goodbye to a friend or loved one, whether they have died or just gone away for a while. Having to suffer the emotion, knowing that tears may be involved, we shy away because it is easier. It is easier because we can deal with others temporarily thinking about why we didn’t say goodbye or visit the surviving family rather than suffering through personal heartache and transparency. We would rather choose the road that is easy; the freeway; the road more traveled, so to speak.
Well, then there is this saying that I put together. It goes like this.
Restriction: I can’t do it
Procrastination: I’ll get around to it
Inspiration: I’ll do it when I feel like it
Perspiration: I will do it no matter what
Some people say “Man Up!” (or “Woman Up!”). Some say “Get some balls already!”. I say “The only way to get it done is to figure out how to do it and get after it!”. Why? Because the habit of procrastination kills. A part of you dies every time you procrastinate. I have heard so many stories of people who died shortly after retiring because they didn’t plan on what to do, had nothing to do and lost purpose. When we procrastinate, we lose purpose. In fact, it carves away at our very lives. It provides us a way to lose our lives and purpose rather than enrich them.
In previous writings, we have looked at failure and the circumstances we cannot change; things that happened that are in the past or did not happen because of something we did. Those are things that cannot change.
This is something we can. We can change the way we do things. We have the ability to change how we do things. You may say “I don’t know how”. Find out how. Try something different. If you find yourself doing something that keeps you away from the purpose that you desire to do, look at what you did that led you to doing that (this is common for computer troubleshooters). Examine what you did previous to the action that happened and do something different. Do something that you see leading yourself towards a better result.
You can change the way you do things…but you can’t and won’t, if you don’t.
A little over a month ago, a 51 year old man died. I knew him from high school only and he was only a year older than myself. He celebrated his 51st birthday, laid down and died in his sleep. The coroner said that the cause of death was natural causes. As you would expect, many of those who knew him were shocked and devastated…and rightly so. Everyone said that he was such a wonderful person, no known health issues…just didn’t wake up that day.
I could turn this into an eternity discussion and since I am a Christian it would be very easy to do that. But if you are already a Christian, what if you died today? What if you laid down tonight, knowing that you would not wake up on the earth? What would you do before you went to sleep? Many things have been written about “What would you do if you found out that this was your last day to live?” but what if you didn’t have a whole day?
What about an hour?
See, we will never be notified a whole day in advance, so let’s just drop it to half an hour?
Would you do what I am doing? Write to everyone? What would you say?
What would you say to your parents? Your brother or sister?
What about your kids? Your grandkids?
Could you look back at your life and honestly say that if you didn’t get the chance to talk to them before you left, they would know what you would have said?
Your friends, do they know? What about Facebook? Does your status know?
I listened to my pastor speak on Sunday about how precious it is to have the forgiveness that Christ gave. He gave the example of a man who was driving carelessly down the road and, because of his carelessness, hit and killed a small child. He goes to jail, serves time for involuntary manslaughter and is released. Although he has paid his debt to society, in the eyes of the law, nothing he can physically do can make the family of that small child forgive him. Nothing. So he lives with the pain and punishment of his carelessness.
How many people are you needlessly letting live with the pain of your unforgiveness? Because of your hurt, your pride, your unwillingness to forgive? And for what?
So that you can live in your anger and hatred?
To die in peace with yourself and everyone else, you need to take the action of forgiveness. If you died today, would they know what you would have said, knowing that you were leaving?
Say it before that day. Say it today. You may not have tomorrow.
So much has happened since Thanksgiving that it would an injustice to myself to NOT write anything. Time has been flying by and it seems sometimes that I cannot catch up with it all. Some years it seems that the holidays drag by but not this year. Until this moment, and probably afterwards, life has come very fast. I have just had to hold on for the ride. That being said, life is directable, yes, but unstoppable. How can that be? I liken it to a river.
Consider a small river, flowing through a forest. You cannot step into the middle of it and stop it. In fact, you and a hundred others stepping into the middle of it cannot either. It is not stoppable in that manner. But yet a small group of animals carrying one or two branches at a time can eventually direct it and in the process, make a cozy little home for themselves. In fact, carrying that thought a little further, they can concentrate the force of that river and make it calm in one section and raging in another. The river that may have been uncontrollable in the beginning, has succumbed to the efforts of a couple of small animals and its power harnessed to work for them.
I know that you didn’t expect a nature lesson today but you got one anyway.
So how is it that a large rodent with a flat tail can teach us about handling life? Well, it is obvious that its ability to harness the power of the river is monumental. The beavers also chop down large trees, store their food in the still portions of the river (a home-made refrigerator) and build tributaries and canals for the river to spread throughout the area. Do they do this because they know that the surrounding habitat needs it and that there efforts will be heralded at the next Annual Forest Convention? No, they do this because it is how they were taught and it is their instinct.
One thing to note though is that beavers are not perfect. Sometimes, when they are constructing and doing things instinctively, they have a dam collapse or a bear attacks and they can get hurt or a member(s) of their family dies. Sometimes pollution or human progress causes them to move. When this happens, do you know what they do? They adapt to their new surroundings and do what? What they were taught and do instinctively.
What are you teaching your friends, children or grandchildren to do instinctively? Yes, I said friends too. In case you haven’t noticed, when you hang around others, their habits and sayings tend to rub off on you and vice versa. This is why it is so imperative for you to exhibit leadership habits. Not so much to show off or try to be the big shot but to offer good teachings and instinctual habits for others to glean. And you do not have to be perfect in your efforts.
After all, you can direct life without having to stop it. And you can lead with out being the leader. One or two small branches at a time.
Concerning the term “GoalPray”…let’s take it a step further and make it an action. “Goalpraying”.
You make a list of hopes, prayers, goals. This list is constantly changing. (One of my favorite sayings is “whoever invented the eraser, had the human race pretty well sized up”. I guess that would be the “backspace” and “delete” keys now)
Let’s take an example of a few entries on the list (with fictional names):
Under the “Others” category
Terry: Confidence and purpose.
Now this is a bit vague but it is at least on there. Let’s take the GoalPray method and flesh it out a bit.
Terry: Confidence for when she is dealing with her daughter and understanding the weight of her actions. Purpose in life so that she can feel more dedicated to her work.
That is better. Does Terry have other needs in her life? Sure, but these are what has been brought to your attention. Why? God is pretty good at this. Some people would call this burdened. To me, that word is too religious and overused. I prefer “selected” or “purposed”. This issue has been selected or purposed for you to focus on.
Under the “Thankful” heading
Now some of you are possibly saying “Why should I be thankful for that? It’s a hellhole!”
Understood. Duly noted. It’s a hellhole. Do you feel better now?
This list is not to make you feel better. It is GoalPraying. We want to get things accomplished. So let’s take that entry and expand it.
My job: Thankful for the ability to work and the skills I have been given to work. Thankful for the money that I make from it. Thankful for my co-workers (no matter if you like them or not) and the experiences that I will gain by working with them.
There is an entry that means so much more than “My job”.
Under the “Myself” column
What about it? Let’s write it out
My health that I will have adequate strength and be able to perform the duties that I have the responsibility to do. That I will be able to resist the fiery arrows of the enemy that come in the form of pizza and Coke to tempt me. That I will understand that fruits and vegetables are my friends. (Okay, enough of that)
Is that much better?
What have I done in the last few lines? Have I just written out a bunch of words to fill a page or have I cemented a purpose in my life?
What is it that is important to you? Is it important enough to write it down and GoalPray on it to make it happen?
Phillipians 4:6 says to not worry about things but in all circumstances, in the form of prayer and definite requests, while giving thanks, make your requests known to God.
I have found that at times, I get a better understanding of things if I look up their definition in the dictionary and not depend on how my interpretation has caused the word to evolve into something that it is not. When this does not give me clarity, I consider its opposite. Love/Hate. Rich/Poor. Heaven/Hell. Truth/Lie. Forgiveness/Unforgiveness. Edify/…
This was strange. I looked up the word “Edify”. “Instruct or improve (someone) morally or intellectually. Educate”. The best the thesaurus could come up with is “Near Antonyms”. Very weird. Some online dictionaries and thesauruses just left the Antonym area blank. The closest I actually got to an actual antonym was “Learn”.
Did you expect that? I would have said “to tear down” or “destroy” but the truth of the matter is that you cannot make yourself or someone else dumber…and the scary part about it is that you really cannot “unlearn” something. People, will learn how to deal with life somewhere, either by being taught or formulating their own solution…this is one of the reasons why a parent’s responsibility is so important.
You can only build upon or drastically alter the learning path, but since we cannot turn back the hands of time, going backwards is not possible.
In case you have to seen it yet, the antonym is not negative but it is dangerous. Seeking wise counsel is preferred over formulating your own. Understand that your initial reaction to every circumstance may not be the wisest. We need direction and edification. Humility has its purpose.
I read in the mornings, every morning unless I fail, which I do. I pray in the mornings, every morning unless I fail. I write in the mornings, every morning unless I fail. I do all of these things in the morning because I made the choice to do them. The reasons that I do them are many but the initial reason that I started, I cannot put my finger on.
I can say that a certain book inspired me. It is a small book that was free online. I am happy to give you the link to it but, truthfully, it may not move you to do the same. By the way, the link is at the end of this post.
The point is that it is really up to you. The necessity of starting is important but do you finish your start? Whatever you are seeking to start, do you end up starting but not doing? Do you feel like you life is a series of starts?
Well, actually it is. For example, I started this marriage 25 years ago yesterday. Over time, my wife and I were determined that whatever happened (Yes, whatever), we would not let divorce creep into our lives. We had a couple of brushes with it but in the end of each “chapter” of our marriage, it came down to looking at our vows again and not considering divorce. Has it been hard? Yes, very difficult at times but I do see that even though there were times that we failed each other, the divorce option was not there. That choice, itself, caused us to think differently about situations every time.
This choice of thinking differently, a gap if you will, is necessary to look at the habits that are not necessary to achieve your goals, and correct or eliminate them. I am a former smoker. I have quit and started smoking many times. I tell some people that once I quit 3 times in one day…but I did quit (I am at five years now). Robin Williams, playing a psychiatrist in Awakenings, had a line that summed it up very well. He said, “You have got to decide whether you are a smoker or non-smoker…and be that”.
Finish your start. Do not set goals to achieve, achieve goals to BE.
This is probably one of the hardest posts I have written to date. I started writing it just hours after the event so it is forthcoming and raw. I had to capture my feelings while they were fresh so it cemented more in my heart about the importance of journaling…because we as humans, forget.
“Last Friday (6/14/13), I lost a wonderful and faithful friend. My dog, who was approximately 14 years old, fell ill suddenly and had to be humanely euthanized. I write about it because I have never lost a friend like him that was so close to me. I am not going to write about all the wonderful things that he did but rather I am needing to write about the effect that his passing has had upon me.
I called the vet on that Friday afternoon fully expecting to be told that my dog was coming home that day. Unfortunately, the vet said that it would be a good idea if I came in because he had taken a downturn in the last 24 hours. Since I was picking up my 14 year-old son after work, he would be with me.
We walked into the vet’s office and were taken to where he was. He laid with his head between his front legs motionless, eyes bright but that was all. I felt that he was mad at me until I realized that he could not wag his tail because he was too weak to move anything. He could not even lift his head. My son and I sat on the cold concrete floor and pet him and cried.
When I was told what needed to be done, a myriad of emotional questions came to mind. “Can’t he live just one more day?”, “Can I take him home to die there?”, “Should I be here for the procedure or should I just leave?”. “With it being my decision, how do I live with it?”. With my 14 year old son at my side and after calling my wife on the phone, I decided to go ahead and end his suffering. “What would my sons think of me?”, “Is this one of the rites of passage to becoming a man?”.
We slid him on a blanket to an examination room and he was so weak that the sliding motion winded him. He could not do anything but look at me…and I wondered, “Do you want me to do this?”, “Do you know what is happening?”, “Can you ever forgive me?”.
We comforted him and talked to him calmly, reminisced about old memories and made amends. I apologized more than once for the times that I was harsh with him and asked for forgiveness. The vet came in to give him a sedative shot and told that it may take a few tries because his blood pressure was so low that some veins had already collapsed.
When the sedative started to take effect, I said “we love you” and “goodbye, old friend” while he could still hear me. His poor worn body relaxed and then settled to slow, deep breath. She gave the second injection and I asked how long it would take. She said it may take a couple of minutes, maybe longer depending on his circulation.
He took a few more breaths and then it stopped…
I let out a short yelp that came from holding my emotions back for so long and my son and I cried together while we pet his lifeless body. I was truly heartbroken for the first time in years.
As time has gone by, the pain has gotten easier. I still think that I see him in the corner of my eye, on the porch, in the hallway. I find myself waiting for him to come to the kitchen after dinner for a leftover bone or piece of meat but there is emptiness where there was a subtle joy.”
It has taken me a month to actually post it but I felt that it was necessary so that some of my posts would have this as a point of reference. I do not know what you may glean from this post but possibly you will.