15 to Life…


Courtroom Scene.jpgI found myself seeking to lose that same 15 pounds I’ve been working on for about 15 years. I lost all of it once and some of it many, many times. Yet, it always seems to creep back on. Funny thing is it’s only 15 pounds. That got me thinking, why is it that my body would regulate itself just slightly higher than I would want? In fact, why do we seem to get certain things in our lives, yet often feel like we need a little bit more? The house is nice, but I wish it didn’t have bricks. The Ford Explorer works, but that Escalade is bangin’! If you receive in life exactly what you have believed to receive, then why would our believing stop just short of what we really want? Or maybe, are we stopping short of what we really want or always wanting more and more? These are worthy questions for those serving 15 to life.

It was 1982 when I first took a class called, “Power for Abundant Living” where I learned that what a person believes in their heart is what they will manifest into their lives. I’m not referring to the reported “magic” outlined in “The Secret.” Life wasn’t designed for things to just appear out of nowhere, but instead the results we are pursuing show up naturally in direct accordance with our firm expectations! The Bible says, “As a man thinks in his heart, so is he.” And, “Guard your heart with all diligence, for out of it flows forth the issues of your life!” Thus your life, whether you like it or not, is a direct reflection of what you believe deep down in your heart. Similarly, the image that you carry of yourself is what you are. How have you been picturing yourself for the last year, five years, ten years? The image that you carry of yourself with clearness and concern is what you are. And the kicker? This law of believing works for positive and negative thinking alike!

A good friend complimented me yesterday on the back-splash I put up in the kitchen. I responded with thank you, then quickly pointed out that there were some flaws in the job and that I made some mistakes. Do you see where I’m going? Instead of just enjoying the positives, I felt the need to add in a “yes, but.” Often, we limit ourselves in this life with our “yes, buts!” Somebody tricked us into believing that we have to take the good with the bad. Someone convinced us that we can’t have it all. Something weaseled its way into our thinking and talked us into considering that we have to give darkness its place. Doubts, worries, fears, stressors and anxieties are the “yes, buts” in our lives.  They represent a form of believing in the negative with just as powerful and specific results.

If you want to learn how to believe rightly; how to get positive results in your life, or how to get rid of the life sucking negatives, the question to ask yourself involves your subject of focus. What is your subject of focus? What do you see most consistently? Does your good always have some “bad” in it? Would your friends describe you as positive or negative? Those thoughts you rehearse most consistently eventually find their way into your heart, determining how your life proceeds. You don’t live how you want to live because you don’t believe that you can! You don’t get what you want in life, you get what you are on the inside. In order to change the outside you have to change the inside. You can change every circumstance of your life if you are willing to invest a little time in changing your thinking. Develop and build a crystal clear image of something you need or someone you want to be, and hold fast to that image. Don’t let anyone or anything change it! Keep your subject of focus.

At this point you may be wondering, “How does anyone know what is in their heart?” The answer is simple, what do you talk about the most? Out of the abundance of the heart, the mouth speaks. What does your communication consist of? Are you quick to notice and point out the negatives? Are you critical of other people? Do you use words that associate themselves with lack and struggle? Is your favorite topic the things that aren’t right in your body? (If so, I’m guessing you have lots and lots of things not right in your body) Or is your conversation pleasant, expectant, looking for the good in life? What you have been saying is what you have been believing and is exactly how you have been living! Good or bad, positive or negative, joyous or disastrous, are all your choice and within the realm of something you can control!

When it’s all said and done, the reason I’m serving 15 to life is because my focus, the picture I carry of myself with clearness and concern, my expectation and believing has been completely centered on something I don’t want rather than on something I do want. When I see myself in the mirror, I hone in on what isn’t right rather than focusing in on everything that is right! And, you cannot do something for 15 years without being pretty damn consistent! The first place to make a change isn’t addressed on the outside, but on the inside instead.

15 pounds doesn’t rank very highly on the life importance scale, that’s for sure. But 15 years certainly does. Any time spent living life stuck in a cycle of something not being right is too long, especially since you have the ability, by your belief, to change it. Don’t settle for life’s potluck or justifying your negatives by comparing them to other people’s negatives. Choose the life you want to live leaving no caveat for negatives, evil or wrong. You deserve that much because God gave you the much! Believe rightly! Choose life!

Just some good thoughts…

 

 

 

 

 

 

Advertisements

The Great Human Experience…


wall-700x465The experience of life and indeed, human beings is a fascinating study at best. Trying to understand how one can travel from lost and confused to focused with clarity often within the same twenty-four hour period is a conundrum reserved for a mastermind. We, the people, are literally all over the place. We ride one day on the high places of the earth and the next day subdued in the misty flats. In the quiet of the morning, our thoughts are gentle and expectant only to turn harried and pressed by the end of the day. And all of this can only be defined as the great human experience.

Sometimes when you are a writer and you know you have something to say, you find yourself intoxicated with the notion of communicating some idea, some ideal way to think and be that will enable your brothers and sisters to live only on the high road in the space of clarity and with undisturbed peacefulness. Yet the words, however earnest, elude you because that isn’t the way of life. It’s just not that simple. Soon you begin to realize that life isn’t found exclusively in the victory, the challenge overcome, but in the learning that accompanied it; the thoughts and considerations that finally brought you there. To fantasize that you could arrive without the challenges isn’t life, but a false expectation that you might get something for nothing and somehow gain the prize absent the exertion! Such is not life at all… Such seeks to  cheat the great human experience.

If ever you may finally get to the place where you accept how life is, your trophy, your purse, your joy and your fulfillment arrive in concert with your decision to learn how to compete. Once you discover the competition taking place and learn how to see it as such, you begin to zoom in on the details. It’s the subtleties, the little things that shape and round out your existence, not the big moments and flashy circumstances. Your body, your mind with its five senses registering and if you have believed, your spirit, all work in concert to play out and reveal a grand drama in which you are the lead actor. Every registering sensation, feeling or insight begging for a decision, a conclusion, a judgment. How you vote determines how your life proceeds; how your year goes; how your day plays out! When you feel subdued and defeated, wandering in the low places, you’ve likely failed to register the appropriate scintilla and cast your ballot amiss. When you’re enjoying the ride on the high road; when you are the head and not the tail, you have discerned properly and made the right choices. You’ve challenged the lie, the error and seen through the false threats and with perfect equanimity rose above the challenges of the day. Such is the great human experience.

People often imagine how their lives might have turned out if they made some different choices early on. They pine for what might have been had they lived in another locale or chose a different partner or discovered their passion; their gift earlier. But, that’s not how life works and constitutes a futile reminiscence. You chose what you chose when you chose it because for you, in that moment of time, it was the right choice. Now that you’ve grown and progressed does not negate your earlier choices, but rather demands that you adapt and change to match your present condition. The capability you enjoy today was not your capability of ten years ago. You are where you are that you may continue to learn and continue to grow. To think that growth and learning are reserved for the young serves only to cut you off from the sweetness of life. It seems many elders have acquiesced to a limited view of life, no longer seeking to delineate their experience, but voting based on what they already know. Yet life and circumstances have changed as you would expect within the great human experience.

Have you ever considered that the challenges you face exist not because God has placed them in your path, but rather because there is some aspect of your experience, your previous learning that needs modification and as such is exploited by a hidden enemy fully aware of that deficiency? Instead of whining against the circumstances; ever begging for a changed existence, your duty, your obligation, your absolute requirement is to discover how to overcome! Each piece of darkness that prevails does so by some ignorance of the truth concerning it. Every affliction, every anguish, every burden, every discouraging aspect of your present life exists only until you finally uncover the truth concerning it and change your vote accordingly. Your belief of the truth; your full persuasion concerning that which is right; your unalterable determination, is the only course to victory in the great human experience.

Life in all of its varieties and manifestations has been programmed by its Source to prevail. You can learn to live above the distractions, the heartaches, the troubles of life as you consciously decide to learn what the experience; what the circumstance contains for you. Instead of frustration leading to fear, start paying attention to recurring dramas, to issues resembling other issues, to chronic problems and then believe God to show you the solutions, indeed the way out! If you were smart enough to have done it on your own, you would have done so already. You are only as stuck as your dogged pride has determined you to be. Believe to see. Accept that you do not know already. Admit to your need for assistance. No-one wins at life on their own. If you do this, you will, like the blind man who God gave back his sight, at last see and in seeing, change…

This is the only way to master the great human experience…

Just some good thoughts…

 

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…

 

When Your Problem Becomes Your Problem…


ProblemAlerts.jpgBy nature, in order to have a “problem,” means there is some aspect of your life that you find yourself incapable of solving. You’ve done your best thinking. You’ve looked at it from every angle. In short, you’ve devoted yourself 100% to it and yet your problem remains. You may have even resigned yourself to a life with the “problem.” However, there eventually reaches a point where your problem becomes your problem!

We all have bad things happen to us. Some things that happen to people are so indescribably evil, there are no words to explain it. Other people just sort of get stuck with some dilemma they find themselves living a lifetime trying to escape. Catastrophes, extreme losses, losing it all, all have the potential to take away your lifeblood and reduce life to mere existence. Lower down the scale many find themselves a victim, not to something that happened to them directly, but to the repercussions of some grand mistake; some error in judgment; some momentary lapse that became the defining factor in their lives! Again, the apparently inescapable problem became their life problem.

No matter what may have happened to you or what insurmountable problem you may face, there is always a solution. The trouble permeates when it becomes your sole focus in life. You can spot someone suffering in this way immediately because it is the only subject on which they speak authoritatively. They unknowingly dwell in it; they breathe it with every exhale; they consume it and drown themselves in it. Instead of being a problem from which they can still escape, it becomes their reason for living, their red badge of courage.

Ironically, the way to escape it, is the exact opposite of what appears. In the words of a wise man, “Dwelling on the darkness won’t bring forth the light.” Dwelling on what went wrong, what you did wrong, why something went wrong, all serve not to remedy the situation, but rather to affix you, the sufferer, deeper and deeper into the problem. And sadly, if you remain fixated on the darkness long enough, your chances of escape become slimmer and slimmer. You are never, ever going to out-think the darkness by remaining in the darkness. Instead, like all people in the dark, your task will become more and more insurmountable. The reason people are locked into some tragedy or failing that happened twenty-five years ago is because they never let it go. You cannot overcome unless you eventually let it go. In fact, you aren’t going to begin to solve your problems now until you finally learn to let them go.

Life was never intended for you to be the party of the first part, the second part and every other part. You are a human being for God’s sake and much of life escapes your control. When the doctor says you have an incurable disease there’s not a damn thing you, the human being, can do about it. You are fighting against spiritual powers of which you may know or understand very little. Instead you, the finite human being, are supposed to eventually admit you do not know what to do and beseech the help of the One that knows exactly what to do. Absent God and left to your own limited devices, you are simply going to lose. But, if you can get to the place where you wake up, you hand those life-long issues over to God and let Him do what He promised He would do all along!

Goodness knows that some of the things that may have happened to you are awful and painful and arduous at best. That’s not to minimize their grave impact on you at all. You’re stuck because your problem is beyond your human capability to deal with it. Your solution is to let it go. Give it to God every time it lands itself back in your lap. Stop thinking it, fearing it, rehearsing it, addressing it and embracing it. The inescapable problem is bad enough without giving over your entire life and mind in defense and admiration of it. Your problem is not the supreme thing in life. It is not to be your primary thought in every situation. It may have become that but it doesn’t have to remain that. God is supposed to be your supreme thing and your primary thought in life. Dwelling on God and what He says is dwelling in the light. In the light, the solutions become clear and obvious. Maybe your solution is healing. Maybe your solution is to finally get past a terrible event. Maybe your solution is a radical change in your thinking and manner of living. Whatever your solution may be, it can only be found in one place and one place only – the light!

Darkness is a slippery character and is well schooled in how to defeat a human being. Evil and wrong don’t just hit you with a sucker punch you never saw coming, but instead seeks to take away all that is important to you. It’s goal, like trapping a bird in a cage, is  to snare you into some mode of thinking that guarantees more and more trouble will replicate itself in your life. For this reason, you need something bigger than yourself to set you free.

All of us, at one time or another, have found ourselves trapped in some grand dilemma. Everyone of us has had a problem whose solution escaped us. We’ve all been stuck, distracted and caught up into some thing that has been gaining more and more power over us. And like a rodent we seek to remove from our situation, in order to rid ourselves of it, we have to remove its food source. Literally, you have to stop feeding it! You have to steadfastly resist your human tendency and ego that is striving to figure it out and choose rather not to give it any space in your thinking. It’s not easy to do, but is required if you want to win. You have to seek God’s help and continue seeking God’s solution until you realize it in your life. God is faithful and will provide what you need, but you have to do it His way. Every time your problem presents itself to you by knocking on the doors of your mind, you have to give it back to God where it belongs. God will deliver you my friend, with the duration dependent entirely upon your faithfulness to keep your mind fixed on the light! It can be done. It will be done!

How do you prevent your problem from being your life’s problem? Make your problem God’s problem and let Him figure it out. There is no other way…

Just some good thoughts.

You are Good Enough!


e61575f6ba345c0d95694deee5f23d5fToday I had the privilege of attending the funeral service for one of our fallen law enforcement officers. As the speakers came up one by one, each one clearly a person who truly loved God, all offering heart-warming stories about their relationship with the officer, all had one common theme; namely concerns about not being good enough. These weren’t people living on the fringes of society, committing crimes and taking advantage of their fellow-man. These were people deeply concerned about doing the right thing, setting a good example and leaving behind a lasting legacy. Yet, they all echoed the same fear, one of not being good enough. So my question for you is, are you good enough?

Ever since the beginning of time, man’s heart has longed to be righteous before God. The true nature of man is goodness and though he often struggles to accomplish it, his heart yearns to do right and to be right. It doesn’t matter if a man loves God or rejects God, the wrongs he commits pain him and the good he does, rejoices his heart. It is a universal condition and because of that, the enemy of mankind works hard to exploit it. Imagine working hard day by day to please God, only to be left with a feeling that you somehow don’t measure up. Therein is the rub… You don’t feel like you measure up because on your own you could never measure up. Likewise, you don’t feel good enough because of your own works you could never be good enough. God knows this and has made a way out for you and me!

Each of us was born into the world with the nature of wrong built right into our blood stream. It was never intended that we start that way, but it is the way we ended up. Your very own life blood carries within it the seeds of error, sickness and death. You fall easy prey to temptation and wrong choices because the seeds of wrong live within you. But God, who did not intend this condition, made a way for you and I to live above it.

The way above it to make the decision to get born again (Romans 10:9-10) and to accept God’s free gift of righteousness; to accept Jesus Christ as your savior from sin; to accept his perfect walk before God to atone for your imperfect walk.  True humility rests in understanding that you cannot lift yourself up by your own bootstraps. A humble heart is one which knows that it cannot of its own accord do anything! There’s nothing humble about perpetually feeling bad about yourself. Humility isn’t found in condemnation and feelings of inferiority. You certainly wouldn’t want that for your children, so why on Earth would you believe that God wants that for His children? The reason people think this way is because that’s what they have been taught. They have it drummed into their minds and scorched into their hearts that their walk before God, indeed their happiness before God, depends on what they do and do not do. And, while we all know that doing wrong makes us feel bad, we fail to realize that attempting to do good or to do better has no natural end point. How good is good enough? How many good works are required to earn our own righteousness before God? Again, therein is the rub. It is the enemy behind this false logic, ever working to bring us misery and frustration.

In order to do good you first have to believe you are good. The boy who believes he is a good boy will do good works because of his goodness. The boy who feels he is a bad boy will continue to do bad because of how he feels about himself. Oh he may work to make himself good, but his good won’t ever be good enough and as a consequence his good works will end in resentment. God tells us that we are good, not from any works we have done, but because of God’s goodness towards us. It’s the goodness of God that leads a man to a change of heart. God created His righteousness within us when we got born again leading unto good works. The good works we do aren’t to be loved by God but because we already are loved by God! That’s the truth…

In this short life, you cannot allow yourself to get trapped into the fallacy that you can, by your good works, make yourself good enough. All that belief will do is make you a slave, and not to God, for that matter. You’ll spend your life rehashing some mistake you made twenty years ago. You’ll dwindle away your days in self-evaluation and heart hardening condemnation. You’ll be chock full of criticism and judgement towards others because of how damn hard it is to be you! It’s not God’s will for you to live that way. Life with God was never intended to be a checklist of requirements to accomplish before your little stamp book is full enough to earn a ticket into heaven. Instead, life with God was intended to be sublime, with you never having to earn anything from God, but rather living in the greatest freedom; free to love; free to give and free to serve!

I know the people I listened to today are wonderful people with a heart full of love for God. I just wish I could share with them a better way; a way where the focus of our lives is on God and His goodness, not on ourselves and how we might strive to be good enough…

You are good enough. You know how I know? Because God said you are…

Just some good thoughts…

Ps To that brother and comrade that gave his all, you were good enough!

 

Understanding God’s Perfection…


God-Is-LoveIn order for something to be perfect, it must be absolutely and completely free from all faults and errors. The smallest amount of defect renders a thing imperfect and though the shortcomings be minute and even imperceptible, if they exist, the thing in question cannot be considered perfect. God is perfect. He has no downside, no shadow of turning and no requirement for any give and take. Thus the things of God must also be perfect, free from any admixture, free from darkness, and free from any heartache and pain. We speak of a perfect day, but what we refer to is a day that went well, though imperfect in many respects. Being able to begin to comprehend God’s perfection, has the power to put us in touch with the right to every wrong; the elixir to any sickness; the solution to each and every problem.

There are more opinions concerning who God is than there are grains of sand on the seashore; than there are stars in the sky. Every group reports to know Him and are more than willing to share His will with you. Yet often that so-called will is fraught with illogic and puzzles pieces that can never fit. Truth cannot be one thing today and another thing tomorrow! God does not change His truth for the times or the circumstances. Truth is truth in every day. You can find it in a tulip and in a sparrow. It exists in and permeates the creation. It is complex, yet breathtakingly simple. It speaks to your heart in a poem. It soothes your soul in a song. It jolts and awakens your mind by both friends and your enemies. It has to, it must, because it is perfection. When you hear it, you already know it is true, though you don’t know why you know it’s true. It escapes your mind yet pre-exists in your heart.

Naturally, the whole system of God is also perfect. There is no whim, no injustice, no wrong in any form. The truth of God must then exist without contradiction, just as light has no darkness in it at all. Love works no ill to its neighbor because it cannot work ill. There is no fear in love because fear is the antithesis of love. Thus, the system of God, if it be of God, cannot work ill, make ill, or be ill. Nor can it promote fear, make fear or be fear. If fear exists, like it’s counterpart darkness, then it must be absence of truth or light in some capacity. Trying to reconcile perfection with imperfection is impossible. Yet how many good men declare God’s abounding love and with the same breath dole out His threatenings on unsuspecting mankind? Prayer to God for healing of a sickness He gave you is like begging the slave owner to stop whipping you. The question is rather, why the hell is he whipping me? What greater purpose could be found in such an act? An unjust beating is an unjust beating and ascribing something good to it is insane. Yet, men entertain this with God in every day. Hurt is hurt and pain is pain. Calling pain good and hurt necessary might send you to the crazy house, but apparently never in the name of God.

So, you may now be wondering what it is I’m trying to say! What I’m saying is that once you begin to discern who God really is, you will axiomatically begin to love Him with all that you are. He is only good always and seeks goodness and love in all that He does. He doesn’t punish people for their bad behaviors, evil takes care of that. He does not follow you around day by day waiting for you to slip up. He is not your conscience making you feel guilty for the mistakes you have made. Sure you’ve been taught that but it just isn’t true. God says, my people are destroyed for a lack of knowledge. It’s what you don’t know or what you “think” you know that has been killing you. You don’t go to God for help or when you do by chance go, you enter in sheepishly with your mind chock full of all your sins and errors. So you ask without believing and in doing so ask amiss. I don’t blame you for this because this is what you have been taught! The church did it to you. The Sunday school did it to you.

You read the Old Testament and it scares you. You see a vengeful God wreaking havoc on mankind. What you don’t realize is that in the Old Testament, the snare of evil had not yet been revealed. God never wanted all of the laws and commandments. The laws and commandments came because of the people and preserved for people a future opportunity for redemption. Jesus Christ could have never completely set you free if there wasn’t something he could set you free from. The justice of God demanded it.

At the end of the day, there is only one True God, and He encompasses all that you could ever hope for and dream of in life. He is your sunny, perfect day. He is the love in the eyes of your grandchildren. He is the healing behind your doctor. He is the Miracle Gro for your flowers. He is the spring in your step and the smile on your face. He is indescribable joy and love and peace for a suffering and downtrodden world. He is who you thought He was when you were just a child!

If you can break yourself free from all the dogma and throw off the heavy shackles of religion,  you will find Him, though He be not far from any one of us. You will discover that this life is worth the living and that there is something fantastic behind this world waiting for you to tap in… Ladies and gentlemen, God is love!

Just some good thoughts…

 

 

The Man You Used to Be…


red-sneakered-feet-walking-towards-phdRecently we had some old college friends over for a barbecue. Thank goodness I’m not as old as them! 😉 When I casually told one of them I was the clinical Director for my organization, he couldn’t believe that the guy he knew in college was the director of anything! I could see his point as my only objectives in life back then were to chase women, play basketball and find different methods to anesthetize myself! (smile) But, that was a lifetime ago… Afterwards, I couldn’t help but think how sad it would be to be the same person you were 35 years ago. None of us are the same person we were back then, nor should we be. This life is all about growth and finding out the obstacles that stunt our growth. So are you ready to find out some things that may have been stunting your growth?

By far, the number one culprit for impeding your progress in life, as Emerson aptly stated, is “carrying about that corpse of a memory.” What you did at any given point in time reflects how you thought at that point in time. It means nothing else. To assign your future course in life to a hodge-podge of foolish past decisions is the height of insanity. In fact, you are completely free to be today whomever it is you choose to be. Your past served only as the preparation ground to grow the person you are today. You needed your mistakes as much as you needed your successes. The difficulties you are experiencing right now are remnants of a course you have yet to complete. Figure it out so you can take the exam and move on.

Dwelling on the past, even yesterday, is a fool’s game. Learn whatever you can learn from it and immediately move forward. Spending your days incubating some failure serves only to guarantee future failure like a runner looking back in the race. The hotshot swimmer in the Olympics was so preoccupied with his opponent that he failed to even medal. Staying your mind on your past is being preoccupied with your opponent. No matter your inherent goodness or practiced virtue, you are going to fall prey to that spurious other power at times and for that you owe God nothing but a commitment to move ahead. How many good-hearted folks do you know who are locked into some past event, imprisoned in the decisions of yesterday? Let it go and move ahead!

Another impediment to future growth is the overuse and abuse of those squirrley little vices that promise you transport to another time and place. Do you remember the commercial where the 30-year-old is extolling the virtues of smoking marijuana when his acquiescence is suddenly interrupted by his mother’s voice in her home, in whice he still lives? Drugs and overindulgence in alcohol press a perpetual pause button on your life, stymying future growth while waiting for you to move out of that phase. Fun and games are all fun and games while your life is fun and games, but every man’s life has a day when he has to forgo fun and games for the work he must do. Indulge if you must, but find a way to balance your fun with the stuff you have to do! Go to work!

Of all the opinions that matter in life, the most important one is the opinion you carry of yourself. Enter your circle of friends and family that work together in unison to define just exactly who you are and where you fit. And again, in the words of Emerson, you are loathe to disappoint them! If you were “always” the joker you must continue to be the joker. If you were ditsy and scatterbrained, that moniker must stay with you for life. People in their estimation of you allow no room for growth or change. Of necessity they cannot because of their compulsion to fit your present life into their past estimation of you. But, growth demands the change and your responsibility is nothing more than to allow your present life to speak for itself! The fact that you were “never” the smart one is only a limitation in their minds, not your own. My dad still thinks I’m not mechanical though I’ve repaired my fair share of broken stuff. Once I configured an OshKosh B’gosh buckle into a door latch, but now I’m just bragging!  The point is, your only limitation is within yourself. Answering to public opinion; to your friend’s judgments; to your family background is like blaming your unmowed grass on the sunshine and water. Mow your own grass and no defense is required!

People’s opinions are in reality a judgment on their own lives. If they are callous and unforgiving, you must be also. Their suspicions of you are a testimony to their own motives. No man can possibly know another’s motive and until that person has lived in your shoes they have no opinion that matters at all. We don’t fault the poor mother who steals so her children can eat, nor can we fault another man for his hidden poverty we cannot readily discern. Underneath it all, people are basically good and kind and seek a means to express their goodness though a thousand voices scream to the contrary! Be your own self doing your own stuff that you know you must do. The value of your choice is determined by you and you alone… Other people cannot stunt your growth unless you allow it. Refuse it and grow!

Your life has a specific design in a specific place at a specific time. Your job is not to find out what the world wants, but rather to find out who you are and what you can best offer to the world. If you can do that, your life will grow in unparalleled dimensions.

You are not the man or woman you used to be, thank God. Instead you are the sum total of all the lessons you have mastered thus far. I say, get your PhD…

Just some good thoughts…