Do Hard Things…


hard thingsI think it sort of dawns on you over time that you have aspects of your life that need some revision. If you look up hedonistic in the dictionary, you may find a picture of me. Nobody likes to have a good time more than I do. But, sometimes with your good times you discover excesses that require modification and those modifications aren’t always easy. Excesses can appear in any category of life and you recognize them by their impact on your life. There’s a reason God says all things in moderation. Whatever fun stuff you enjoy that may have become too much fun requires a change in your behavior and more importantly your thinking. Vices are called vices when they replace the real you with some added activity you need in order to function normally. That’s not to say that you must give up all vices, but rather those vices that no longer assist you but instead seek to control you. If you can’t have a good time without adding something else in, you may be getting tripped up. If you have lived any length of time, you know this is true. With life comes an expectation of control, not servitude or slavery, but rather setting limits and sticking to them. In this, you sometimes have to do hard things.

All people love liberty and freedom to do as they please. This is part of the foundation of the American way of life. But, when your personal freedoms begin to impact you and other people negatively, a change will be required. No-one sets out to become a drug addict or an alcoholic. Yet both result from a lack of control. No-one chooses a life of obesity and the litany of related health issues that accompany it, but those consequences remain hidden in the pleasure of consumption. No-one plans on ending up a workaholic, until that satisfaction from always working ruins family and health and the future. It doesn’t really matter which areas of your life have excesses; too much; a lack of control, what matters is being able to discern them before it’s too late, then take steps to modify and choose new pathways. This will require you to do hard things.

On the other end of the spectrum of control is over-control. There are people that deny themselves all pleasures. Some even go as far as to say that they are doing it for God. I can assure you that God who invented pleasure isn’t opposed to pleasure. Yet, He also sees through the deception of pleasure excesses. Emerson aptly stated, “Punishment is a fruit that unsuspected ripens within the flower of the pleasure which concealed it.” Pleasure and pain both have the capacity to deceive you or at minimum influence your decisions. In this, man always seeks to add rules such as taste not, touch not, handle not, yet God was not behind it. Instead He said, “Prove all things and hold fast to the good.” In life we are free to experience our lives in all of life’s manifold variety and stick with those things that are the best. Some things begin well but end poorly. Other things appear to be good but have poison hidden in them. And many, many things are good as long as you enjoy them in moderation. But, lest I put chains on you that are difficult to extricate yourself from, you and you alone must make that choice. It is your life and you are the one that best knows what works for you and what does not. Some people choose not to eat meat and it’s their mouth, not yours. Others abstain from alcohol, but that doesn’t mean you must. Some people require ten hours of sleep and others only six. All of us have free will, unless we surrender it by excess. If there is something you do that is too much for you and begins to hurt you, you may have to do some hard things.

Even the term “hard things” is really a misnomer. Control is no harder than making a firm decision. What becomes hard for us is changing habits that have solidified over time. Habits are great for useful endeavors, but habits spell disaster when connected to our excesses. Worse, habits become invisible to our awareness and we are forced rather to experience some pain or consequence before they come into view. Doing hard things is really more about making hard decisions. It’s about proving to yourself that you can. I think one of the most important aspects of our own mental health is in sticking to the decisions we have made. Nothing like following your plans for needed improvements to boost your self esteem to record levels. Conversely, there’s nothing like saying one thing and doing another to bring you down into the dumps. If it’s going to improve your life immeasurably, do hard things.

Finally, in some cases, certain things or harmful activities have gotten away from your control . Maybe you have traveled too far down a certain path. Perhaps you got caught up in something that was bigger than you are. Certain aspects of life have forces working behind them that exceed your personal ability or strength to overcome them. In these unfortunate, but common cases in human beings, you will need God to help you escape; God, the Higher Power. God who sees all, knows all and is over all is well able to rescue you. All that is required on your part is some humility; some willingness to admit it (whatever it is) has gotten away from you. God has not left you without remedy, nor will He ever. It doesn’t matter how hard your hard thing is, with God nothing shall be impossible.

My friends, we all need help at times; we all get tripped up; we all end up at places we never thought we would end up. There’s no sin in getting tricked. But, when you know what you have to do, you must require of yourself that you do it. Make the change. Modify your behavior. Cut back. Limit yourself. Control yourself. You will be so incredibly happy on the other side. Change doesn’t happen overnight, especially when dealing with well grooved habits of thought, but it will happen and God will make sure you are real blessed along the way. Try it for yourself. Do hard things.

Just some good thoughts…

Do What Feels Good…


Before you get started down the wrong path, this isn’t some appeal to your hedonistic tendencies, wish as you may. Nor is this some modern day philosophy that promises you pleasure in spite of future pain. Instead this about honoring your feelings for their true purpose, to lead you to something better. This about de-numbing yourself from the grips of societal pressures and expectations. It’s about recognizing when you feel good and wholeheartedly pursuing it rather than falling back to the circumstances that cause you to feel bad. If you have become weary of the see-saw; of the ups then the downs; of the heights then the valleys , this post is for you!

Carefully constructed and intertwined with your mind are your feelings. God has designed for certain necessities to feel good to encourage their continuance and certain behaviors to cause pain demanding their termination. And as simple as it may seem, the world works feverishly to get you embroiled in certain patterns guaranteed to defeat you. Then, in the final analysis, there you sit like the alcoholic or drug abuser, buried and consumed by the very things that promised you liberty. You had many chances to escape, but in your callousness, brought about by your error, you failed to be sensitive to your feelings any longer.

Life for humankind has one basic essence and that foundational essence is control. Learning to control yourself is a class you cannot skip. Oh you can spend a lot of time floundering around in the misty flats, but life will instruct you otherwise if you are still willing to hear. Everything you fail to control will eventually control you. Every “one too many” carries with it a penalty from which it is hard to escape. That which you refuse to control causes you to feel bad just as everything you can control and do control causes you to feel good. A successful life isn’t found in large batches, but is found in the multitude of little handfuls. It’s not the critical decisions requiring your utmost concentration and effort that make or break you, but is instead the seemingly minor decisions that confront you every day!

If you play it correctly, you soon learn there is a rhythm and a flow to life. The secret isn’t to fight and argue in your rebellion, but to acquiesce and adapt. It all falls subservient to one important question. What is it that you need to do next? What activity or behavior does the present situation demand? What thing should you do that will make you feel good about yourself? Do you need to clean the place up? Is there some nagging, aggravating, broken thing you know you need to fix? Is there some unresolved situation or conversation you know you need to have that you have been avoiding? Have you let yourself go in terms of your health or your finances or your creativity or your happiness? Have you settled in to a life of mediocrity? Whatever it is, there it sits like a gigantic boulder impending your path and there you sit choosing to avoid it. The answer to the question of what you need to do next is painfully obvious to you and you my friend, already know what it is!

The search to feel good is the supreme factor in finally becoming happy. Happiness doesn’t come or for that matter last until you begin to make the right choices. When you stumble upon a behavior or activity that leaves you feeling good about yourself, that is an action to pursue. If the sight of yourself in the mirror causes you to flinch, there is something you can do about it. Like my barber said recently, “I control what I eat so I can like myself naked!” (smile) You can substitute that phrase with anything that helps you like yourself! Self-esteem is only found when you do things that lead to self respect. Self-loathing or self-hate come about only by a multiplicity of skipped or prolonged good choices. Take control of anything you can control and see for yourself how wonderful it feels.

Moderation in your life sees to it that you don’t get too high and that you don’t go too low, but there’s lots of space in-between. There is a whole world of joy in-between. Sure you will have times when you chased too much of a good thing. But not to worry, as that will always be very evident to you. Consequently, you will have periods of life where you foolishly sought after the wrong things, and they too will not fail to reveal themselves to you. The same moderation you employ in your behaviors is also required in the way that you think about yourself. Give yourself a break and embrace your new days. It is just as morally wrong for you to beat yourself for some past bad behavior as it was to perform the wrong behavior in the first place. Moderation is the key!

Don’t complicate things unnecessarily! As my Peloton inspiration often says, “It’s not that deep!” Your requirement isn’t to live your whole life in the next moment, but to live your “right now” life in the next moment. Do what in your heart you know you need to do now, next. Stop avoiding your life or waiting for some magical circumstance to make it all nice again like when you were a kid. That ship has already sailed. But like that kid you so dearly miss did, live your life in the moment called now! Do the next thing whatever it is.

I often marvel that the highroad with God isn’t found in complexity and complication, but is found in simplicity; in the many todays that eventually make up our best tomorrows. Grab your life by the balls and control it. Get back on top of whatever you are no longer on top of… You won’t master it by tomorrow, but you will be on the right track, feeling good and doing good. My brothers and sisters, do what feels good!

Just some good thoughts…

Controlling Yourself to Happiness…


UnknownThe paradox of all paradoxes occurs when something that appears contraindicated leads to exactly what you are looking for in life. Happiness, often maligned and dismissed or over-exalted and worshipped, is found in control, not in letting loose; in reigning in, not in unbridling; in checks and balances, not in removing the boundaries. The good life demands you take charge of yourself. Control yourself to happiness…

I submit that the part of life you have failed to control, for whatever reason, is the primary contributing cause of your difficulties and your struggles. Corruption and deterioration have to find a way in and exist only when allowed or invited. Decay follows that which is not maintained and control is that maintenance. The let loose life (and believe me I’ve spent too much time there) let’s loose both fun and pain. But, the pain always exceeds the fun in unfulfilled life and pervasive unhappiness. Sure, there is always a balance with religion being the polar opposite of ungoverned anarchy. Religion adds in checks where there are no checks and limitations imposed not for future bliss but for the intended misery of the occupant. Too much control strips life of its variety and blessings ever pointing the one controlled to his own lack and deficiencies. Religion is not control but rather a fear induced and fear motivated attempt at escaping something thus far imagined or experienced, yet not producing a remedy but instead more fear! The control that leads to happiness is never found there.

Thought allowed to run rampant whithersoever it leads is the bane of man’s existence. It repudiates order and stands in active defiance to the system God designed for man. It results in a misery then blamed on God, though encouraged and endorsed by the individual. No wonder as the message of the world is ever “all is to be welcomed” and all may be experienced. While all things are lawful for me, all things are not expedient. Though God has made free to do as I please, rotten and painful results help shape my future decisions. Thus control is not engendered as a response to fear but rather as a humble attempt at locating what is best. Just as joy encourages perseverance towards the goal, control promises liberty and happiness days with no end.

The question is not what is wrong with you but rather what category or categories of your life have you let go? What do you love so much that you over indulge in it? What vices  have long since replaced problem solving or have promised peace by soothing and numbing? What thing pops up over and over and over as a lesson unengaged? If you are unhappy there is such a thing, promising you liberty yet putting chains on your soul. Controlling yourself isn’t arduous, refusing to is. Control is nothing more than the discipline required to compete successfully. Once disqualified you’re no longer eligible for the prize. Get the prize!

I have proven to myself as the ultimate fun lover and pleasure seeker that the more I loose the restraints the more restrained I have become. Yet the simple application of a diet or commitment to exercise or a sustained abstinence from some thing, the happier I have become in increased proportion to my efforts. Yet my happiness hasn’t followed some grand morality or complete change of being, but following instead some small discipline I’m quite capable of achieving. Thus the lesson is clear, check and balance that which you can check and balance and enjoy the unchecked blessings that accompany.

The starting point for you in your quest is to locate an area, decided by you and never by another, that you can apply some discipline to, such as “no more of this thing on the weekdays” or “no sugar for three weeks” or “3 times per week at the gym no matter what!” Do so and you will find that not only do you immediately begin to feel better following your decision, but that the small decision starts to transcend into other categories of your life. It’s as if God cannot get you to step 7 until you have at least begun with step 1 and persisted through steps 4, 5, and 6.

The happy fellow or happy gal you have been observing with eyes askant will, almost as sure as the sun coming up tomorrow, already be engaged in this process applying limits as required and learned. It’s a mark of human maturity and seems hard to learn without having lived on the other side. Just as a child flitters from place to place with unbridled happiness, will also eat the whole bag of M&M’s to their stomach’s demise. It takes years lived to finally see, if you ever see, that control is not only expected but required.

Take the reigns of your own life and leave no aspect of yourself in the hands of another! Let no good thing be relegated to chance and circumstance. Instead of railing and screeching at the conditions of your life, control yourself and those things applicable directly to you. If it is yours, address it. If you own it, care for it. If you’re responsible to steward it, guard it and keep it and watch over it! Your body like your car can run a long time with little maintenance but when it dies it is really dead! But, a little care applied here and there and most issues are simply resolved. Discipline is a choice and a lack of discipline is also a choice. Choose wisely!

In short my friends, “Be the boss of your own butt” and see if you don’t have the best ‘glutes’ in town!

Just some good thoughts…