Learning Happiness…


thoughts-squiggles-2The human mind is truly a fascinating thing, isn’t it?  Our brains have all this capacity to process information, classify, categorize and the like.  We can store information; retrieve memories and even combine multiple ideas to form new conclusions.  Yet with all of this unlimited mental technology at our fingertips, what do we do?  We let the thing run on autopilot!  You know what I mean!  We opt for less thinking and let our minds run off of previously stored information.  It’s kind of like finding a good way to drive to work and then driving that way every day.  That’s perfectly fine I guess if our first conclusion is enduring, but what happens when there is a need for change?  Or, what happens when we are just plain old bored to death with that same route?  I think that supplies an apt metaphor for human beings; a class I belong to with great pride.  We learn things relatively early on in life (when the time seems ripe for learning) and sort of carry those ideas with us wherever we go.  Of course that is fine if those ideas are good or “enduring” but what if they aren’t?  What if we are applying a lesson of adolescence to adulthood, or worse a lesson of young adulthood to middle age?  What if we have classified so much information that we just don’t need to learn anymore?

My mom used to tell me over and over how smart I was.  At some point, I believed her and now sit here typing with the intellect of a genius (hey, it’s my mind!).  Point being, that not all lessons previously ingrained need revision.  However, many things do need revision.  That black hole of negative conclusions we also formed, those babies need not only revision but elimination.  Just because you have told yourself for twenty-five years that you have to struggle in life because of (_________fill in the blank) doesn’t make it any more true than the first time you considered it!  Just because Sally wouldn’t dance with you at the prom when you were fifteen doesn’t mean that Sally wouldn’t dance with you today; or that you are “unlucky” in love!  Okay, I digress…  Life has been designed (passive voice intended) to function as one large, never-to-be-exhausted classroom with an infinite variety of opportunities for learning.  Those opportunities are literally all around you.  The issue isn’t their existence but rather our capacity to see them.  Seeing as God is the ultimate source of supreme intelligence, it makes sense to my little old brain that He might be constantly employed in teaching us stuff.  Have you ever heard the phrase, “everything happens for a reason?”  Well, I hate to be a “Debbie-Downer” but while everything happens for a reason is true, not everything happens for a good reason!  But you see, our auto-pilot brain just accepted that expression and led us to believe that everything happens for a good reason!  Now we find ourselves in the curious dilemma of trying to find the good in inherently disastrous situations, where no good thing exists.  (Auto-pilot, numb brain, illogical at best!)  The lesson in a terrible, negative consequence is to never do that “thing” again, not to try to find the good in it.  God, who is light, (and in Him is no darkness at all) doesn’t need evil to teach you a lesson anymore than you need to teach your children by doing bad things to them!  God, who is also pure love, seeks to teach you (and me) lessons that will help us win in life.  He knows your issues; He hears your heartfelt petitions and He has cleverly (understatement) placed things all around you to help you to learn.  Your job; my job is to pay attention!  But before we have any shot at paying attention, we have to unload that giant weight called “I already know” and seek to understand.  We have to humble ourselves and recall our “heart of a child” where we saw the most success.  Have you ever been privileged to spend any time with a four-year old?  Those little boys and girls are fertile fields of learning.  Sure they can be easily led astray with their lack of life experience, but how many of us are being led astray because of (not in spite of) our life experience?  How many of us have allowed our minds to idle down and simply stopped questioning things?

Interestingly, there is a huge, inescapable link between learning and happiness.  Learning new things makes us happy.  Rehearsing old things drives us nuts and sucks the very life out of us!  In order to continue growing in life we have to continue learning.  Can you even imagine that at age 51 you have learned all of the useful information there is to know?  Silly huh?  How about 74?  Happiness, true happiness comes from the adventure that is this life.  And, it is proportionately as adventurous as is your capacity to want to learn.  So my advice to you is make the decision to learn again.  Don’t allow the “media-age” to define, classify and categorize your life!  20 year olds aren’t yet smart enough to know they can’t do everything they think they can do.  We should all be that smart, right?!  The truth is that you and I can do just about anything we think we can do, if we are willing to learn something new.  We don’t need to attend Harvard necessarily, but instead seek to understand.  You can escape a “whole-lotta” trial and error if you get God involved.  And, God’s middle name is “Happy” – so maybe we should start there?  (LOL not end there after 30 years)

At the end of the day, our happiness depends not so much on what we have, but rather on what we are learning.  Life is an exciting adventure!  “Clear eyes, full hearts, can’t lose!”

Just some good thoughts…

 

The NyQuil Night Night Syndrome…


I had an interesting revelation the other day.  I started getting a cold (inherited from my grandson, who inherited it from daycare) and happened to be going away on a business trip to California.  Kind of bad timing I think, but I sought to minimize its effects by purchasing a killer NyQuil, DayQuil combo package.  You take the non-drowsy formula during the day and then the sleepy time formula at night.  (I suppose you didn’t need that clarification…)  Anyway, when you take the NyQuil, you are going to go to sleep and you are going to sleep for a long time.  The next morning I woke up groggy and thought back to how many times I had taken a Tylenol PM at night to get to sleep quickly and to help achieve a thorough night’s sleep.  For some odd reason, at a certain age sleeping through the night is no longer a given.  And, that got me thinking about how easy it is nowadays to choose self-medication over problem solving and how there is a pill for just about everything.  I have no problem with medication (obviously) but rather how quickly we turn to the rapid “apparent” solution which really isn’t a solution at all.  It’s a temporary fix at best.  It reminded of the time I had this persistent neck pain that I allowed to linger for about a year (yes, one year!).  I just took one Alleve everyday and voila’, no more neck pain.  Well one day I “woke up” and decided to try a chiropractor which didn’t really help.  Then I went to a massage therapist who suggested some ergonomic changes at work.  I realized I was hunching forward to see my computer and as such was straining my neck all day long.  Then, I experienced the relaxing benefits of massage and this time voila’, no more neck pain.  Problem solved, issue resolved…

It’s interesting to consider how easy it is to reach for a temporary fix rather than deal with the issues of our lives.  On the surface it seems like it is going to be too much work; or possibly a fruitless journey; or overall maybe just too much of a hassle.  But in reality, the endless stream of temporary quick fixes not only take longer (because they’re temporary) but never solve the core issues anyway.  It’s almost as if we feel that if we can make ourselves numb enough, perhaps the pain doesn’t really exist underneath.  This led to another, perhaps more thought-provoking revelation.  Compliments of our annual February diet, I have not been gorging myself with the usual food stuffs and more importantly the regular, generous portions of my beloved Cabernet.  It’s not like I drank the red stuff to get drunk every night (added to ward off judgment), but rather when and why I drank it.  Have you ever stopped to think about that question?  Don’t worry, I haven’t gotten religion (praise the Lord), nor have I sworn off the red stuff!  What I’m saying is what is the purpose you had in mind when you chose to have a drink?  Alcohol is also a medication and often used as a quick fix as well (…it has been known to ward off timidity, shyness, inhibitions and the like).  Are you masking some unresolved issues?  Are you numbing yourself to some unpleasant reality?  Or maybe are you just bored with life and unaware that perhaps you have been talked out of being the person you really wanted to be?  I wonder how many folks settle into a life of quiet (desperate) resignation.  It seems the larger issue isn’t so much how you choose to live your life, but instead why you are choosing to live the life you are living.  Or maybe bluntly stated, are you choosing?  If you have problems that you have given up on or perhaps dreams you have pushed aside, you aren’t going to feel fulfilled.  All of us have different aspirations for our lives and they don’t have to necessarily change the world to be important and worthy of our pursuit.  But because they are ours, they do have value.

So, what should we do about our dilemmas; our difficulties; our boredom?  Well, one thing we must stop doing is medicating them away into nothingness!  Imagine waking up ten years from today the exact same person you are today; doing the exact same things in the exact same ways.  Sounds frightful right?  But what else could possibly happen if we stay on the same medication for ten years never stopping to demand a solution or making the effort to find a real cause?  Or stated another way, how can the big dreams for our lives ever come to pass if we keep resolving to start tomorrow choosing rather to medicate tonight instead?  If you have ever made up your mind to do something or buy something or accomplish something, you know that the largest effort involves not getting started but staying committed until it is done.  We can all get excited about stuff and start, but how many folks really finish what they started?  Add to that the sleepy lethargia that follows self-medicating and you find a formula for distracted, unfulfilled living.

So, will the local wine store by my house notice a sharp drop in sales of Cabernet?  I doubt it…  But I can assure you the next time I have a glass it will be in celebration of progress made towards my worthy goals and not because there is nothing good on television that night.  Life is short my friends and despite the well-worn cliché it’s not getting any longer.  In fact, life without clarity is also just a cliché, aint it?

Just some good thoughts…

When in Doubt…Take the High Road!


Have you ever been in a situation where you are being nice or kind and someone takes a shot at you?  You know what I mean.  You are minding your own business and getting your stuff done with a great attitude and suddenly someone comes along and pees in your Cheerios!  You were really having a great day; you were feelin’ it and then, “KAPOW” someone pays back your love with nastiness or anger.  In that moment of time; in that instant you have a choice to make.  Will you take the high road or will you lower yourself to meet them on the low road?  Sure in the moment the low road feels good!  Sure you get mad and you can think of a whole lot of stuff to say, but after that moment is over with, where do you go from there?  Don’t you feel a little embarrassed; a little angry with yourself?  Don’t you really wish you wouldn’t have let them take you there?  But alas, there you went and here you are…

I had just such an incident happen to me yesterday.  I teach a course on building relationships and was working on preparations to go and teach the course at our program in Northern California.  After about four days of preparation, in addition to also having to carry out my responsibilities as the Program Manager here in Utah, it became apparent that I had formerly sent out the wrong materials for the workbooks to the Program Manager (my peer) in California.  It was a pretty serious error on my part because she had to print binders with about three hundred pages in each, times twelve binders.  Uggghhhh…  So after realizing my error I tracked down the cause to the new training disk I was using; which unbeknownst to me, had numerous chapters in the workbook mislabeled.  So I reached out to my compadre with a very sincere apology (high road) and offered empathy acknowledging what a burden I was placing on her (high road); offered to help make it right with her (high road) and apologized some more (high road).  Well, much to my surprise she responded with some serious nastiness.  She informed me in no uncertain terms that she was not going to spend any more time at Staples and did not have time for that crap!  I repeated the above process acknowledging and apologizing (high road) which landed me an even nastier response, “I don’t care if there was a problem with the disc, I’m a Program Manager and frankly don’t have time to do this before next Tuesday!”  As you can imagine, by now I’m thinking of quite a few “low road” comments like, “I have been preparing this crap for your folks (not my folks) for four days now and oh by the way, I share the same responsibilities you do in addition to what I’m doing!”   (Followed by some angry swear words of course!)  I chose otherwise and waited for a response.  I waited and waited and waited, all the while telling my ego to hush and “no!  don’t you type that!”  I had a choice to make.  I could choose love and take the high road or I could indulge my anger and go down in the bushes for a fight.  After some time went by and nothing appeared to be changing, I decided to text her.  In my text, I apologized again and offered to help in any way that I could, stating again my understanding of what a pain in the a** this must be for her.  Shortly thereafter, she texted me back and said she would make the copies for the training.  But, I didn’t stop there.  I asked if that meant she still loved me (tongue in cheek) to which she responded, of course!  No bruised egos, no hard feelings, no fractured relationship.

So what did I learn?  I learned that I just cannot lose when I choose the high road.  Love truly never fails!  Sure I had to swallow some anger and you might even offer that I allowed her to walk all over me.  But, I didn’t feel like someone took advantage of me.  Instead I felt like I chose God’s love (for God’s sake) and was subsequently rewarded with loving feelings and great satisfaction.  That’s not to say there aren’t times when you have to draw lines or speak up; no, not at all!  But, when in doubt, why not choose the high road instead?  It’s hard for folks to point fingers at you when you have chosen the high road.  In fact, it’s hard to even stay angry with someone who refuses to be angry with you (try it out sometime!).  I don’t know about you, but I’d rather end the day having chosen good than to succumb to evil.  And, it’s certainly no coincidence that when you set your mind for good, that trouble comes along.  Something, somewhere is conspiring for you to make choices that end up only hurting you in the end.

So, instead of being overcome with evil, why not overcome evil with good?  (Tadaaaa…Bible verse)  Why not choose love?  Not because you are a wimp or spineless or afraid, but because it matters far more what God thinks than what people may think.  And here’s a promise for you, if you habitually choose the high road, soon you will find yourself living on it and you will be one happy son of a gun!  Haha

When in doubt, take the high road…


Hmm I think so..

justsomegoodthoughts

walgreens    Have you ever visited the digestive aids aisle at Walgreen’s?  Man, there’s more stuff for your stomach than almost any other ailment, except cold medicine, but that’s another blog.  Heartburn, acid reflux, indigestion, gas, bloating, diarrhea, upset stomach, constipation and on and on it goes.  (Oh Mylanta!)  Sure, we eat weird foods nowadays but John the Baptist ate locusts (spiky legs and all).. And, yes we are in a perpetual hurry so we eat fast, drink fast, work fast, talk fast and think fast; so fast we don’t think.  We all know we need to slow down, don’t we?  But a better question might be what has us moving so dang fast?  What in the world happened to us that made us need an endless supply of Tums?  Rolaids spells relief, but only addresses the symptoms, never the cause.  So, I’m thinking (burppp) we better find out the cause.

One predominant…

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The Perpetual Stomach Ache of the Restless Mind…


walgreens    Have you ever visited the digestive aids aisle at Walgreen’s?  Man, there’s more stuff for your stomach than almost any other ailment, except cold medicine, but that’s another blog.  Heartburn, acid reflux, indigestion, gas, bloating, diarrhea, upset stomach, constipation and on and on it goes.  (Oh Mylanta!)  Sure, we eat weird foods nowadays but John the Baptist ate locusts (spiky legs and all).. And, yes we are in a perpetual hurry so we eat fast, drink fast, work fast, talk fast and think fast; so fast we don’t think.  We all know we need to slow down, don’t we?  But a better question might be what has us moving so dang fast?  What in the world happened to us that made us need an endless supply of Tums?  Rolaids spells relief, but only addresses the symptoms, never the cause.  So, I’m thinking (burppp) we better find out the cause.

One predominant idea centers on our minds; specifically our thoughts.  Have you ever really gotten serious about what thoughts you are revolving around in your head?  Here’s a shocker for you – you are 100% responsible for the thoughts that you think, whether consciously or subconsciously.  Shocker #2 – you can control your thoughts!  Shocker #3 – you can control EVERY thought.   Shocker #4 – most folks see no connection between the thoughts they think and the perpetual need for antacids!  In case you just stopped reading  and reached for your Tums, here’s some spiritual insight:

Overthrowing reasonings and every high thing that lifts itself up against the knowledge of God, and leading captive every thought into the obedience of the Christ; 2 Corinthians 10:5 (Darby Version)

Shocker #3 revealed!  God surely wouldn’t tell us to lead captive every thought if He only meant some of our thoughts.  Plus, I love the words, “leading captive” meaning sometimes those ol’ thoughts just seem to appear, but you don’t have to let them stay!  So now back to Shocker #2 (waiting while you go back to read it…)  A mind may be a terrible thing to waste, but even more specifically, a mind is a terrible thing to just let drift where it wants to drift.  An open mind is a beautiful thing indeed, but not open to whatever or whomever, whenever!  Okay, back to your thoughts…  What are you saying to yourself throughout a day?  Are you being kind to yourself?  Do you give yourself a break and allow yourself to be a human?  Do you forgive yourself?  Or do you spend most of your “private” thought life mercilessly beating yourself to death?  Oh you don’t do that?  Really?  I can assure you, unless you have been taught otherwise, (and who the heck ever teaches this stuff?) that, if you take the time, you will make a frightening discovery!  I would surmise that no-one is meaner to you, than you are to yourself!  You think Daddy or Mommy didn’t say nice things to you?  Haha trust me, they got nothing on what you say to yourself!  Most humans (and yes I am also human) spend their days comparing themselves to others (and coming up short); evaluating themselves (and coming up short); judging themselves (and coming up short); dwelling on themselves (and coming up short); and just flat-out hating themseves because they aren’t this or that or don’t have this or that or don’t earn this or that or don’t look like this or that!  Come on admit it!  Why the obsession with earning money or dressing in style or losing weight or having this kind of hair or getting some work done (an odd expression meaning body reconstruction?) or driving this car or living in that house etc., etc.  There’s nothing wrong with ambition or nice things, but there’s something wrong with having that perpetual stomach ache!  In short, we just don’t pay attention to that gnarling, persistent, attacking, insidious, agitated, never satisfied inner voice that we have mistakenly confused with ourself!  And, we wonder why we have indigestion again?  If someone sat across from you and hurled insults your way all day long, chances are (unless you are really passive or on the football team) you would get up and leave.  I mean, really, you don’t have to take that!  But when it’s you talking to you somehow it must be truth!  Well it aint truth folks!  It’s “drifter mind” being let loose on itself.  The enemy of mankind has a real slick trick up his sleeve and that trick is your own thoughts.  He takes advantage of what you let go or don’t maintain.  Have you ever seen a house that is abandoned?  It doesn’t take long for the place to start decomposing.  Well, how long does it take for your mind to start decomposing?  Well, let’s see how old am I?  (I’m kidding!)  But, I trust you see my point!  In life, whatever you can control, that you don’t control will soon start controlling you!  Have you ever wondered why you don’t get the big break?  Make the serious cash?  Get into the wonderful relationship?  Well, what do you think about all of those things?  “I just don’t get any breaks!” thought enough times IS your reality!  “Making serious money is really hard!”  and we wonder why it seems so elusive?  “All men are assholes!” hmmm and those are the ones I keep running into!  It’s you and it’s me folks!

So, do you want to get out of the digestive aids aisle at Walgreen’s?  Would you rather visit the candy aisle?  Then, you have to learn how to control your thoughts.  Some of those thoughts that now define you are in reality well-worn tapes that YOU play over and over again!  Pop the tape out and buy a CD (it’s 2013)!  CD=change direction… (Clever huh?)  Notice what nasty thing you just said to yourself and start changing it around.  You’ll never get to the Skittles unless you are willing to give it a shot.  (Hey maybe you like Tums!)  You see, the reason we are so restless and dissatisfied isn’t because our lives suck so bad but rather because what we think about our life sucks so bad!  Change your thoughts, change your life!  No, not by tomorrow morning, but eventually.  And hey, the life you are living in the present will get better immediately!  Challenge those old stories because they were never who you really are anyway!  The real you is satisfied, happy and contented knowing that everything you will ever need will show up when you need it, once you get out of the stomach ache trap.

So, at the end of the day remember, the reason I know about the digestive aids aisle at Walgreen’s is because I was there…  I, like you, am a work in progress but I’m okay with that.  I hope you will be okay with that as well…

Think…just some good thoughts!