Your Dream Life…


dream-life-text-Favim.com-354813As I sat on my porch this morning, sipping my coffee and reveling in the beautiful sunlit morning, I thought how incredibly privileged and blessed we are to be able to live any life we desire by first envisioning it, then deeply considering it in our minds and hearts. God has given us the complete and absolute freedom to dream and then bring those dreams into reality. Every person living their dream life lived it first in their own mind. The question isn’t whether or not you can still live your dream life. The question is have you taken the time and effort to even know what your dream life is and can you see it in your own mind.

One of the hardest things for people to understand is how intimately connected their present situation is to the thoughts they think most habitually. Your struggles, your pain, your difficulties are not found in unfair circumstances, poor upbringing, other people’s influence or unexpected events, but rather found primarily in your own thinking patterns and then brought into your reality by your unknowing persistence with those thoughts. In the precise same manner, your dreams, your visions of how you want to live, your ideal life, all await your thoughts to come in line with your expectations. The things that mean the most to you, you likely have already obtained in some capacity. Yet however good your life may appear, the “natural” tendency is to limit and compromise, as if God had a limited supply of good and there was the possibility of having more than your fair share. Goodness, blessings, success are not meted out and divided between people, but instead follow with perfect accuracy the believing and expectation of your heart. Those who enjoy more, positively believe more. Those who enjoy less, negatively believe (fear) more.

Many times people compromise their dream life by the limited value they place upon themselves. They treat others with respect, but don’t respect themselves. They admire the work of others, but see no value in their own work. They understand how others can live such a fantastic life, but cannot see themselves living a fantastic life because of “_______________” ~ you fill in the blank! I can assure you, your dream life isn’t based upon how good or bad you are, it is based upon your expectations for yourself. And you control your expectations! Hiding behind the fear of people finding out who you really are is nothing more than evidence that you have been talked out of your own self-worth. Anyone living a mediocre existence does so because that is their expectation, despite their heartfelt cries to the contrary.

The dream life isn’t found by treating it like a giant wheel of fortune, whereby if you can get lucky enough to have a few spins, you can win the life you want. Nor is it a lottery ticket producing an unexpected, life changing windfall. It sounds silly, but many folks approach their life this way. Ignorant of their responsibility to choose and shape their lives, they sort of float around in neutral hoping not to hit anything along the way. They drift into destinations they “didn’t” choose and complain like hell about being there. If you’ve never had a goal or an aspiration for something better than you have, how could you reasonably expect something better? Or, if your targets are so low they take no effort on your part to achieve, then don’t wonder why there are a million others living just like you are, unfulfilled. Everyone knows there are no fish left in the local fishing hole, but if you commit to a longer drive, they are there in abundance. Your dream life won’t just happen to you or show up one day. Instead it will arrive in smaller pieces, evolving as you evolve your thinking and act upon your most important visions for yourself. Your arrival at your dream life won’t come as surprise to you, but instead will be in full alignment with your expectations and the most natural thing in the world!

When you take away all of the facades and apparent complications of life; when you remove all of the distractions and time stealers; when you get back to approaching this life in its purest essence, you will begin to discover that you had access to the remedy within your heart all along. God didn’t give you life with the intention that you would hobble and struggle and limp along the way, hoping to accidentally stumble upon something good. Instead He gave you a mind and a heart from where your believing emanates with the real intention that you would learn who He is and what He has already provided for you. His desire is that you would learn how to control your thinking and guard your heart from where your entire life flows forth. He wants you to know the score!

You have been given the greatest possible privilege to ensure your life is filled with blessings. You can learn how to believe rightly and get to that dream life you have been dreaming about. It’s right here waiting for you. Make time to vividly picture the life you want, not the life you don’t want, and see how amazing and life altering is this glorious, true way to live!  I would expect nothing less from God who is only good, always! Would you?

Just some good thoughts…

 

Flashes of Light…


unnamedThere is no such thing as an ordinary life. Each one of us, uniquely made and different, have something to contribute to the world. We have the opportunity to offer what we alone do best and from whence we have no rival. In order to escape the mundane, the mediocrity, the humdrum that plagues the world, we have to find those flashes of light that lead us to our true purpose. And, while our purpose is inside of us, we need the light from the outside to guide our paths.

We all know that the sunshine does something positive to us. How many difficulties are immediately resolved in our minds just because the sun is shining? Gloomy days, also a part of life, remind us to seek the sunlight. Similarly, gloomy thoughts remind us to look for the light that warms and comforts us. Days, weeks and years spent in gloomy thoughts lead us unwillingly to the pain that is a life with no purpose, no point. Yet behind each dark cloud is the light that is always present, waiting for us to recognize it and embrace it. Our job is not to produce the light, but rather to seek it until we find it. The light that guides us is found in flashes of insight and understanding.

Those insights; the subtle beckoning of a change in direction or a suggested change in our thinking are all around us if we start paying attention. They show up in those moments of repose or when we admire the lifestyle of another person. It’s found in the gentle appeals to something better inside of us; some more sublime, sweet way to exist. The reason men and women fail to see the light is because they get trapped in some mindset, some hard, fast , habitual way of thinking that falsely presumes what life is and all that can be accomplished or enjoyed. The problem is that we but half live our days functioning by rote instead of seeking the new and profound in each day. Each day offers us the opportunity to live anew with fresh experiences and learning, but we’ve become so accustomed to our routines that we cannot discern it. And while the routines are necessary, they also serve to cut us off from a full life.

It seems many people as they age settle into certain patterns of existence. The days blur together because they are lived without inquisitive thought, without new learning, but instead with mindless repetition. Young people, still consumed with the idea of life, actively seek new experiences with a mind still bent on gaining a better view. Aging is not the issue, but rather the amount of time that has transpired to inculcate certain habits of thought. The light has not become less available, it’s just harder to see with a fixed mindset. The light becomes diminished with our insistence on thinking we already know, thus closing us off from all that we do not know. It’s not easy to break certain habits of thought, but break them we must if we wish to fulfill our experience of life.

The true joy of living is not often found in hallmark events, but in the mechanics of every day life. The proposed destination is not the only part of the process. Learning to enjoy the journey is the paramount experience. The life that God has given us is infused with rich variety and opportunities for discovery and each day is pregnant with the possibility of new learning. For this reason, we have to unchain ourselves from our habitual behaviors. Get up at a different time. Choose a different route to work. Instead of arriving home from work to occupy the couch and the television for the evening, go for a walk in the park or meet friends on a weeknight instead.

One great hold back to a fulfilled life, offering your best “you” to the world is that tyrannical insistence on being whom everyone already thinks you are. People, in their attempts to classify and categorize us, assign us to some place in life usually described by a word or two. Instead of becoming more and more a rich cumulation of experiences, we allow ourselves to be assigned as, “the comedian” or the “drinker” or the “hard worker” when those aspects simply point to one portion of our existence. My wife exhorted me to stop posting pictures on Facebook of me drinking wine as over time I became defined as, “the wine guy” falsely assuming wine to be the point of my existence. And while I definitely have an affinity for fine wine, my greater affinity is for a passionate, experienced filled life.

At the end of the day, each of us have the privilege to be exactly whom we choose to be, not held in by the group’s assessment. The magnificent uniqueness of who you are is encouraged and fanned by your experiences of life. Be the person you desire to be spurred on by those flashes of insight and refuse to be locked into to some minimalist viewpoint of who you are. Choose to walk a path designed for you and for you alone. Break free from the stumbling herd and live the days of your existence exactly as you desire to live them. Listen to music that inspires you though no-one you know enjoys it. Make plans and goals too lofty for your present mindset and enjoy your incredible journey of becoming.

Your life is way too short to be anything less than exactly what you want. It is your one shot my friends, and the determining factor always was and always will be you.

Just some good thoughts…

 

 

 

 

You, the Unique, Wonderful You!


Bok-Festival-AzaleasI found myself gazing incredulously at God’s creation as the low light of an early spring evening glimmered softly upon the plant foliage, making the early blooms more vivid and more true. From innumerable shades of green contrasted against the deepest purples, richest reds and sparkling yellows, to the willow tree, bent over, chock full of the weight of a million, delicate white and pink blooms, all seemed to speak to my heart and encourage my soul. They adjured me to observe the Master’s hand, impregnated with a uniqueness carried out over a million iterations. And as I paused in quiet revelry, I understood. Everything that God has made is singularly, unique and in that unsurpassed majesty, is wonderful beyond comprehension. That, my dear friends, is the uniqueness that is you, the wonderful, unrivaled, unparalleled you!

You are a miracle of all miracles in that there is no-one just like you on the entire earth. Imagine for a moment the exquisite combination of genes, environment and upbringing that brought you into play. You couldn’t replicate it if you tried. There’s none that thinks like you; processes information like you or comes to the exact conclusions that you do. You are a one of kind model from a factory where all are of one kind. Your heart, your fears, your love, your tastes and your aversions combined have no match. You are on this earth to bring forth all that you truly are and you alone have been assigned your role. The world doesn’t need another Ghandi or Martin Luther or Mother Theresa, it needs you. They have already done their own work and for that the world is grateful. What remains only is the work that you must do.

You know, most people abhor their uniqueness in a futile quest to be just like everyone else. Their scarlet hair is an affront to them and instead of rejoicing in their rarity, they seek dyes and colors approved by the majority. A slightly lower ear, a cowlick, or a different color eye becomes a hinderance to happiness and fulfillment. And age exacerbates the process as millions cleave to the fleeting look of youth never once considering the mighty oak, scarred from the storms, battered, yet standing firm and proud in its place. People want to fit in and blend and follow plans someone else has made. They want to walk in paths well defined; fall in love as movie stars do; work for businesses whose owners are already rich; falling in line with all the rest, in perpetual pursuit of someone else’s life. And as they acquiesce and settle, they never once consider the place where they sit as master, living a life of their own making; offering all that they and they alone can bring.

Immediately dismiss the notion that all should be famous or adored or worshipped. Your prize isn’t fame or notoriety, nor does your contribution have to have altered the course of the world. Your gift is the gift of who you are and what you bring to the table that no-one else can offer. Your unique abilities not only bless the creation but they bring back to you joy unspeakable. And as you dare to stand as who you are, unashamed and adamant, you will find yourself immersed in situations and people and environments that need you the most. You never have to find them for they will always find you.

Thus it’s time to let the real you back out again. Be true to yourself. Love what you love and despise what you despise. Don’t hide your tastes or try to downplay your aversions. If you disagree, say so. If something touches your soul, don’t be shy. When others mock you for being true to yourself, their derision is a testimony to their own hidden self, still scared, laying low, clutching the bed covers. How could someone laugh or scorn you for being you. It would be more frightening if you were them!

You see, the systems of the world are pushing everyone on to the same course; a trail that leads nowhere and takes a lifetime to arrive. And the prize for having finished is hundreds of regrets in thousands of wasted days. Meanwhile that song; that dream; that ideal lays buried in your heart ever seeking expression but never having been given opportunity. And we wonder why people are so unfulfilled nowadays… True fulfillment can only come from the real you, expressing yourself in real ways, to a world submerged in illusion.

So, where do you begin? Begin by deciding today that you will never again utter a negative word about yourself. Choose to evaluate situations and circumstances and to eliminate endless self-evaluation. Don’t spend another moment in negative consideration of your own heart or motives or desires. Stop saying no to the things from which your heart says yes. Let your interest be your interest even if completely solitary in scope. Read books that speak to you and you alone. Be yourself unreservedly, immensely, unabashedly. And above it all, love yourself like you used to, without judgment and criticism and complaint. Love your flaws and your frailties and your foolishnesses. Love your quirks, your eclectic whims and even your absurdities. When is the last time you just loved yourself for who you are without apology? That is who you are after…

As the sun started to set and as the gentle, lowering light began to dissipate; as the foliage lost its radiance and the flower colors dimmed to shades of gray and black, and as the beckoning willow hid it’s tender blossoms for the night ahead, I couldn’t help but remember that our uniqueness is something that will never change and the world deserves to see it in the light of day…

Just some good thoughts…

Doing It Right!


869722f0785de9af467bcc8720d2d668Doing things right may bring a lot of things to your mind, most of which probably involve drudgery and compulsive adherence to rules, laws and religious dogma. Since me and rules are fairly incompatible, you can relax because this aint that! This is really about doing your life fully, completely, thoroughly; doing it all the best according to what is needed next. It’s about satisfying the just demands of the moment.

I recently watched the movie, “The Intern.” An interesting movie for sure, but the appeal to me wasn’t the clever story line. It was Robert De Niro’s character, Ben Whittaker. However, it wasn’t Ben’s desire to get a job or be relevant or even his patience in working with a pack of young folks. It was the orderly way he lived his life. It was his care for the little things. It was Ben’s full attention to the moment he was in and the demands of that moment. It was his attention to detail. It was his lack of hurry in favor of what should be next. It was beautiful and clean and crisp in a way I can’t yet put into words, but I’ll try.

The modern day laissezfaire notion of life implies that any desire to keep things clean and maintained is obsessive. Demanding to have things put in the proper place is categorically over the top. Organizing desks, closets or anything presently in a chaotic state stifles your ability to live and breathe.” Just let it go man!” “Why are you so OCD?” All this talk about instituting order is taking away my freedom to “just be.” And, like so many things in this life, you sort of end up with the exact opposite of what you were after. Instead of feeling relaxed and unrestrained you feel anxious, hurried and stressed. Well, there’s a reason…

The One who invented life is supremely organized and orderly. His attention to detail is breathtaking. Everything matters and there is nothing made that does not have an intended purpose or use. The reason that nature has such an appeal to you is because there is a fantastic intricacy behind it. There’s no rigidity or straight lines (because that obviously aint it-get it?), but there is an unparalleled order; a beauty; an exquisite symmetry.  How about your human body? No matter how it looks outwardly, there’s no sloppiness back of it. In fact, it’s so well done you can abuse it for a long time before it starts to break down.

Order not chaos is the dominating principle of the universe. And, the more you put your life in order, the better you will live. Fighting against and resisting order may feel good in the moment, but, as all illusions do, will never last. What you gain in momentary expediency, you’ll lose in sustained happiness. Your relaxing won’t be relaxed and your letting go won’t let anything go. Everything you walked past remains fixed, perpetually occupying your mind as undone. The coat slung on the banister requests action every time you see it and in ignoring it, it beckons the louder. The candy wrapper in the driveway calls out each time you park. The light in the bathroom whispers to be shut off. Your junk drawer in the kitchen serves as an harassing evil, assaulting your thoughts when brought to light. Order is seeking you, not for itself but for you.

Being a Bible fan, I often think of the account when Jesus was raised from the dead. After the incredible miracle of being raised from the dead, there’s another point of interest you may have missed. In the custom of his culture, Jesus was wrapped from head to toe in grave clothes, sort of like a mummy. When they came to see if he was risen, they noted that he wasn’t there and that the the mummified grave clothes were still there untouched with the napkin that covered his face neatly folded on top. Who do you think folded it? Well, Jesus did of course. Compared to the magnanimity of the event apparently folding a napkin mattered as well. Jesus was and is a perfect man. So, you put that together…

There was a time when people sat down together for dinner, with carefully planned place settings and matching dishes. There was a time when people put their work items away carefully in their custom briefcase. They hung up their suits after the office toil or put their boots in the mudroom for later. People took time to make matches in the sock drawer. They dressed with care and nothing was wrinkled or too worn. Dress shoes shined and grooming was impeccable. There was a time when the details mattered and folks took the time to do things right.

The frenetic pace of today has thwarted man’s ability to take care of business; his business. Distractions exist all over and steal away our time. We have so much to do that we don’t have time to do things right. But, I’d guess you have the same time today that the Ben Whittakers of the world had back then, only minus all of the distractions. You might be surprised to learn in the great by and by, that God will reward you just as much for washing your car as He would for recognizing your service and love to your fellow man. Doing things right extends to every category of life and like any behavior that mimics your Father in heaven, has its own blessings that you can enjoy today.

Doing what you know to do; that which is required in the moment, the clarion call to order, will bring you a peace and a satisfaction that is unequaled in this world. The time it takes to do so will multiply back to you in ways you have not yet imagined. There’s no pain in doing things right. The pain ensues from letting things go. Do it right!

God is not the author of confusion, but of peace…

Just some good thoughts…

 

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.