The Life that is Happening Right Now…


Screen-Shot-2014-04-15-at-9.20.12-PMThere are more keys to living than you’ll find on a janitor’s key ring. There are keys to happiness; to success; to finding the elusive good life. You can find the right thoughts, the proper attitude, positivity, optimism and gratitude. It’s suggested that you declutter, simplify, rely less on material things; and get back to nature. And, all of those things are wonderful, but rarely effective until you finally learn to live the life that is happening right now.

How many of you have honestly contemplated why life seems so complicated? Each day is fraught with things to accomplish; your “to do” list, the never-ending expectations from others. You dream of the weekend, then feel anxious that the weekend is coming to an end. You long for your vacation only to dread when it’s almost time to go home. Everyone is waiting for that certain day in the future, while dragging around those bad days from the past. Even the bad days are really bad moments, but hey, that’s how you remember it! You’re so busy, so overextended, so worn out. Why? Is that how life is supposed to be? Do you win at life by getting the most done? To be happy, do you even have to get all of those things done? Is there enough time to be successful and be happy or must one be sacrificed at the expense of the other?

My wife and I always muse why we kill ourselves to get home from work and then plop our butts in front of the TV for the evening. You do realize that the weekend isn’t the only time to get things done, right? Apparently we don’t. But, I’m guessing that even though you may not fit into that scenario, you have your own rules about getting stuff done. In fact, we all have some rules in place that probably limit us in what we think we can do and when… Those rules aren’t the worst part though. The most defeating practices are those that drag us away from the moment called, “right now!”

Of all the things you wish you could control in life, in reality all you really have is right now. You need to exercise more? Exercise right now. You need to lose weight? Eat less at your next meal. You have a dream you need to get started on? Start right now? Behind all of our “reasons” why we don’t, remains the only moment you can effect – right now. I’m a big fan of making lists and getting things out of my mind and onto the paper. But, if you think it through, often our lists serve as a delay tactic. They’re glorious for organizing, but suck at helping us to stay in the moment. The same is true for setting goals. It’s easy to put that deadline out there, but as it approaches you realize you need more time. Living in the moment helps you remain focused today, which if multiplied out, would lead to the end result if you stuck with it.

Besides helping you to get stuff done, living right now helps you to enjoy the day. A successful life isn’t found in the moments of glory, but in the day-to-day; squeezing the most out of the moments you are in. Someone invites you to dinner, but you can’t go because it’s Tuesday. On Tuesdays you need to get home and watch your shows. Hey, you might not be ready for the workday tomorrow if you get all crazy and go to dinner today. Young people don’t function this way, that is until they also get stuck living for a future moment. We need to quit living in the future and live right now. Happiness is right now. Blessings are enjoyed right now. Knowing the best use of your time is found right now. It’s easy, but it’s hard. It’s only hard because people have become so accustomed to ignoring the moment in favor of preparing for the future. Have you ever watched someone on TV living what seems to be a glorious life; plenty of money, free time, going to cool places or exotic restaurants or fabulous parties? Then you think, well that could never be my life. Actually it could be your life if you wanted it badly enough and maximized your day-to-day to get to your desired end. Why don’t you get there? Because you spend your days distracted, wasting away all of the “right nows” in favor of a wishful future. Maybe all you want is more fun, but you can’t have more fun because there’s too much you have to do, responsibilities and all. However, you can find fun right now, even inexpensive fun, if you will quit dreading some future day whereby your irresponsible fun is going to get you!

Most people spend their days drifting along, caught up in their habits, never taking the time to appreciate the beauty that is today.  They’re bored, depressed, unhappy, waiting, always waiting for something good to happen, never considering the part they have to play in their own happiness. Your happiness is your responsibility and you have the time to make it happen. Sure work is important and finances the fun you want to have, but there’s more to life than work. When at work, do work at an exemplary level. When you get home, do everything else you want to do and break out of that rut. Tuesday matters just as much as Saturday.

It’s so sad when you consider how much of your life you spend just doing with no actual plans to do what you want most. What do you want most? What makes your heart beat a little faster? Quit living vicariously through the Kardashians and make your own reality show. Pursue your own dreams. Live your own short life and live it to the full!

Intentional living is all about living your life right now. Quit living for the future and stop dragging around the corpse of the past. Be present today. Do important things today. Change your unwanted behaviors today. Get off the couch, turn off the TV and make something happen. Don’t spend another moment waiting. Your life is far too precious and way too short to live any other way!

Right now is all you’ve got folks. Right now…

Just some good thoughts.

 

 

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#Loveyourselfmore


Bourbon StreetI recently read a friend’s Facebook status and her New Year’s resolution, #loveyourselfmore. That little hash tagged goal spoke directly to the core of who I am. You see, of all the goals and plans and changes a person might undertake for the new year, the decision to love yourself more remains the foundation. How many of us really love ourselves unconditionally? How many folks even love themselves with conditions? Most don’t and you know that’s true…

You and I were designed to be creatures of love, from Love. Our hearts were supposed to be tender and sensitive to things and the people around us. We were created to have great peace and an absolute assurance and trust. Our lives were made to be joyful, overflowing with thankfulness for each new day. True love has no trace of fear in it, nor is it critical and fault-finding. Yet, that’s not what people experience, is it? This old world runs roughshod on people’s hearts and often we ourselves are the ones inflicting the pain!

I should offer that loving yourself more doesn’t just mean accepting your bulging midline or the crow’s-feet that surround your eyes. It’s not just staring into the mirror and telling yourself, “I love you.” It’s deeper than that! It’s something that takes place in your heart. It’s something that needs to happen in the deep recesses of your mind. And because the world is always working you over, often imperceptibly, sometimes overtly, you need to fight back all the more. You have to learn to “hear” yourself, not loving yourself. You have to get real serious and determined about this love business!

Absent God and His goodness, the best you can ever do is learn to love yourself conditionally. In childhood, we all learned that if we chose certain behaviors, the adult responses were more favorable. And even with that in mind, we didn’t always get the love we needed. It’s not about blaming our parents however, because they grew up under similar conditions and their parents before them etc. Yet within that cycle, we became adults operating under the same faulty guidelines; the notion that love was based on “good behavior.” Love isn’t a reward for doing right. Love is a decision that precedes “doing right.” Love is a choice we make and to love yourself is one of the most beautiful. But, you will never get to unconditional love until God gets involved. God is the source of unconditional love and it is His love that finally convinces us to love ourselves without condition.

Attending a conference in New Orleans, I had to make a trip to Bourbon street. So, I went with my colleagues to the infamous street and enjoyed the craziness that is that place. Yes, I saw the bead tossing and a record number of drunk people. And, as you might imagine, “when in Rome…” (smile) But, I saw something else as well. I saw great despair in the eyes of broken people living difficult lives. I saw the locals who weren’t fortunate enough to be the tourists and who were not returning to a comfy hotel. I felt their desperation and it’s probably a good thing that I didn’t have any cash in my wallet, as I would have emptied it all last night. I saw people who had given up on love a long time ago. I witnessed the end game of the world having its way with people and ruination that goes with it and I found it strikingly sad…

No matter your most sincere efforts to help people, you can’t really help until you learn to love yourself first. You can’t give out what you don’t have. What you’ll give out is what you’ve been  giving yourself. The criticism and self judgment you abide with won’t stay inside, but instead leaks out and affects the hearts of everyone around you. Your pain and unresolved issues will inflict active pain to, and passive apathy with, everyone you encounter. Your negative feelings toward yourself and your secret lack of self-worth serves only to devalue the masses and breathe negativity and darkness into people’s hearts; the very hearts that need your love the most. You won’t consider the kind words because you don’t hear them inside your own head. You won’t convey safety for people because you certainly don’t feel safe.

Can you imagine the change you can engender when you finally decide to love yourself ferociously, unequivocally and always? Can you start to see the impact you will have on everyone and everything, when love comes first? Love heals people’s hearts, not medicine. Love changes behavior without compulsion. Love rescues and delivers and saves. Love grinds away the layers of cement that envelopes hearts and helps them begin to feel again. Love makes pliable the hardness; warms the cold; colors the grayscale; lights the darkness; repairs and mends; makes straight the crooked; fills in the gaps; encourages, builds and makes all things grow. Love is just the greatest thing there is and you owe it to yourself to find it with earnest!

During our shenanigans on Bourbon street, one of my new friends stopped to help a young guy who said he drew pictures. All he had was a ballpoint pen and some crinkled, white sheets of paper and following him a ragged suitcase that appeared to be his home. He seemed to fade in and out of reality as he spoke and was largely inappropriate and in most cases vulgar. On and on he went with a sketch that seemed to take an hour. As we stood there anxious to move on and end the madness, she kept mouthing, “he needs my help.” When he was done she complimented his work and gave him $20 dollars, to which he exclaimed, “I love you.” The drawing wasn’t, by any means, spectacular, but the random act of kindness, love  and compassion sure was! I was blessed to experience a person who truly loved herself and was more than willing to share that wonderful love to help someone else…

Love yourself more and so much more in 2016 because you and this world desperately need it.

Just some good thoughts…

#Loveyourselfmore

 

Cleaning Out Your Closet…


messyclosetYou know how it feels when you finally invest the time to clean up a room or the garage or organize your closet? You usually don’t feel like doing it and unless you’re my wife, you typically wait too long to do it. But after you get the job done, no matter how much internal bitching you did in the process, you feel sublime… And, like any place you store things, that thought storage shed, called your mind, needs some regular cleaning out as well.

People, as a whole, drag around a lot of crap in their minds. They remember and retain every wrong word and deed they ever did. They hold onto their hurts like honor badges. Yet, they cast away accolades and approbation like used tissues. They cleave to what harsh thing daddy said when they were eleven, and tune out the good words from every other adult since that day! People walk through life in a perpetual state of discontent. Through their minds flash important things to handle, that are left unsaid. They clearly see the decisions to make, yet fail to make them. They post themselves in long-term limbo neither going backwards, nor moving ahead. Their mental closet is chock full, unable to appropriately address the most important issues of that precious time called today. Why, oh why?

The infamous “why” is obviously complicated, but no more complicated than understanding mankind’s obsession with what’s wrong over and above what is right. Add to the confusion a lack of willingness to actually solve the issues and you have a recipe for long-term limbo and perpetual discontent. Or in other words, a closet full of garbage and like any apparently huge, foreboding  project, you don’t take on the task, though you desperately need to, because the job appears too hard. It’s sort of funny because if you were to measure the amount of energy you spent tripping over your mental clutter, it would vastly exceed the energy needed to figure a couple of things out. I say a couple of things because generally you have one large issue to resolve which secretly influences all of the smaller decisions.

So, where do you begin? Easy…what is on your mind the most? What difficulty; what issue; what dilemma hits your mind every day? That background thought that haunts you is the problem! You have to take it on! Brushing it aside might work for the day, but there it is still, like an infected sore poisoning all that follows after. Solve that; deal with that; work on that!

Recently I cleaned out my walk-in closet. As I toiled though the racks, I found item after item that no longer had any relevance in my life. There were suits that were 100% wool, but no longer in style or relevant. Old shoes that were still new looking, but never worn. There were dress shirts and Polos that I haven’t touched for years, but held because they still looked good though they never made it to my body. How many things in your life are now outdated? What things are you cleaving to that once held significance but no longer do? Life, like a wardrobe, changes. In order to be successful, you have to change. It’s not optional or a luxury, it’s a requirement. How many of you are stubbornly clinging to life as it once was? Like you, I have fond, oh so fond memories of sweet past times, but you can’t go back. You can certainly dream for and enjoy something better in the future, but you cannot go back. Longing and pining for a sweeter, former time in your life is an exercise in futility as it goes against all of the laws of life. Time marches on and you have too as well…

Can’t you see that your issues are generally centered around some event that happened in the past? Or, you are harboring some dreaded potential event that might happen in the future. Past, future, both acting as mental clutter that serves no real purpose other than to fill your mental closet. Your mind, as incredible as it seems, was designed to handle the issues of today. Imagine what your life would be like without all of that dredge from the past. Think of life absent a multitude of groundless fears of the future.

The reason you stay stuck, mummified in the past, is because you choose to do it. You choose to hold onto the memory. The event, no matter what it was or how dreadful it was, exists only in your memory. The future terror you rehearse day after day exists only in your mind and will cease the moment you choose to make it cease! Clean your closet; make room in your closet; free up your closet to store the things of today.

In order to be successful in this mind cleansing business, you have to be honest with yourself. There’s no shame in being a human. The shame lies in forfeiting your precious life that you are living right now for a life founded upon the past or the future. Live today, do today, overcome today!

As odd as it sounds, you have a right to be happy today. You have a right to live a full life today. You have a right to breathe free air, no longer shackled by the past nor afraid of the future. You’ve got one shot at this thing and the time is so short. Make up your mind to free yourself from the mental clutter the world is drowning in and live free now!

The demands of living successfully today are great and require the use of your entire closet. Empty that thing out and live. You deserve that, don’t you think?

Just some good thoughts…

 

Religion and How It Ruins Your Relationship with God…


6a00d834515f9b69e20168e5c36718970c-800wiIf you are born again of God’s spirit, your relationship with Him should be the sweetest thing this side of heaven. However, for most, it seems, it is just the opposite. Well, there’s a reason for this and that reason is called, “religion.” Sounds like quite a contradiction, I know, but being religious and having a vital relationship with God are often miles apart.

The issue isn’t the sincerity of the believer or their heartfelt desire to walk with God. The crucial issue centers around what the believer “thinks” is required in that relationship, which, when religion gets involved, contradicts the Bible on every front. Religion, in its thousand-fold forms always, always, always put the emphasis on what man is or isn’t doing. Conversely, true Christianity’s focus is always, always, always on what God has done and will do for you, the believer. Now, just let that simmer for a minute…

Look, I aint trying to bash your religion, whatever that might be, I’m just trying to tell you some stuff that I know is true from the Word of God, which if you dare to believe and understand it, will completely change your life and your relationship with Big Poppa!

First and perhaps most important, God is not following you around monitoring your behavior. He’s not condemning you, making you feel guilty or convicting you by the holy spirit (whatever the hell that means)! Surprise! God already knows your behaviors and thoughts aren’t always righteous and as such made a way to make you righteous before Him without it being based on your (and my) ever fluctuating behaviors. His son, Jesus Christ (who, by the way didn’t have a sin nature in his blood) walked perfectly by his free-will, so you wouldn’t have to! Your job is to believe in his sacrifice for you and thus God reckons righteousness unto you, because you chose to believe! Come on now, do you really think your sincere commitment not to cuss or smoke would really make you righteous in God’s sight? It’s just silliness; a silliness promoted by religion that ever seeks to make it all about YOU and not all about God! Note* Insert whatever foolishness you’ve been taught in place of no smoking and no cussing!

Who in the world wants a Father who constantly abides to criticize you and point out what you aren’t doing and should be doing or are doing that you shouldn’t be doing? Lord have mercy, do you do that with your kids? Well, if you do, stop it, because that crap is evil. There is someone who is accusing you day by day, but he isn’t God! And, just for the record, almost the entire book of Romans focuses on this issue because it’s that big! (Book of Romans…in Bible)

Next, I have to address the Facebook meme frenzy, whereby God is doing some dastardly sh*t to you to make you better, somehow, someway! Like… God saves the toughest challenges for His strongest people or God’s testing you to make you better or anything that implies that God does negative stuff to make you worthy or humble or whatever! This, my friends, is a lie from hell! God doesn’t need the stupid adversary or evil to perfect you. Where did you ever get that insane idea? From religion, that’s where you got it. It comes from a lack of understanding regarding evil and in that ignorance attributing everything that happens back to God. What possible purpose could God have in causing a disaster where people are killed? It’s nuts, if your brain works, but somehow acceptable in religion. You know, God is mad at the ______ (insert who you are mad at today) and that’s why that happened. Again the focus is on what? The people and what they are and aren’t doing! What a fantastic delusion! Get rid of the source of the problem, blame it on God and totally screw up the sincere believer.

God is light and in Him is no darkness at all. No darkness…at all…ever! Just for the record, supposedly giving people sickness is darkness. Killing people is darkness. Making life generally hard and annoying for some vague, unknown lesson is darkness. Threatening people with a life lived in perpetual torture called, “hell” is darkness. There’s no hell as described afore, in the Bible. Who the hell (pun intended) would run it? So, who told you all that garbage? Religion did, that’s who! To help you, you ask? No, to control you! It has nothing to do with your relationship with God and everything to do with your relationship with the people who seek to control you! Maybe that’s too blunt for you, but by God, it’s the truth and if you are ever going to feel good about your relationship with your Heavenly Father, you need to know the truth!

Time fails me to speak of bead counting, chanting, lighting candles, repetitious prayers, going without, kneeling, going to this place at that time, avoiding that place, sacrificing, not drinking, cussing, smoking, no sex, no caffeine, no medicine, no, no, no, no – arghhhhhhhhhh, misery! No wonder you don’t want to talk to God except on Sunday when it’s required! No wonder the mention of His name makes you uncomfortable. No wonder you don’t share your heart with Him, after all, He might figure you out! Newsflash!!! He already knows all about you (duhhhh) and still loves you! He is God, for God’s sake! Do you really think there is some aspect of your humanness of which God isn’t familiar? Really?

Religion really is the opiate of the masses, but unlike other opiates, doesn’t make you feel better. You have to give God more credit than that! Seriously? Beads? Chanting? Saying the same crap over and over again? Would any of that bless you as a Father? Mother? I think you really might be after, above all else, their heart! Well, it may surprise you that God is after…..wait for it…your heart; your free-will; unforced or coerced; just because; for love’s sake; heart… God wants to give all His greatness to you! He wants to help you and heal you and restore you and make you smile. He desires to give you life and that you have it more abundantly!

Like I said, I aint mad at your religion, or whatever your allegiance is to, or what your folks taught you or what your pastor said. My aim is ever and always your freedom to live and enjoy this life. I didn’t make this stuff up. This is God’s Word of “religionlessness” for you.

Just some good, free thoughts…