Inside Out…


Did you know that the outer conditions of your life are an exact reflection of what goes on inside your head? What you are on the inside that no-one else can see forms the basis for the circumstances you encounter most frequently. Your life is lived from the inside out. You cannot be successful in the outside world without first being successful in your mind and you cannot fail in the outside world without first failing in your mind! Your mind; your heart is the starting point and from it the issues of your life pour forth! Life is truly lived inside out…

Most people think that life happens to them and that they are powerless to change it. They feed their minds with negatives all day and night. They speak negatives, read negatives, harbor negatives, look for negatives, expect negatives and spread negatives. They rehearse situations in which they are always being done wrong in some capacity. When opportunity presents itself they discount it immediately. They are suspicious and wary ever waiting for the axe to fall, the apparent good to prove itself untrue, the catch that’s lurking just out of view. They become convinced their scenario is going to turn out badly and when it does (as it necessarily must) they say, “See there? I told you so!” They never consider the important role they play in the outcome but instead attribute it to luck or fate or worse as being somehow a part of God’s will. Thus, and forgive my bluntness, if your life sucks, it’s because you suck, at least as far as your thinking is concerned! You cannot keep planting weeds and wonder when your flowers are going to show up! You cannot continue to dwell in darkness while searching for the light. You cannot think one way then expect to live another way. Your life is lived from the inside out…

Your life, be it wonderful or miserable, follows the patterns you have established. Where you see yourself is where you live. If you don’t expect much, you don’t get much. If you think you must struggle, struggle you will. If you believe that life is something you must endeavor to survive, survival will be the height of your achievements. If you believe you will always be poor, (for whatever reason you have manufactured) you will always be poor. If you fear sickness, dwell on sickness, think incessantly about sickness, you will most assuredly be sick. Conversely, if you expect good things to happen for you, good things will happen for you. If you believe you will prosper, you will prosper. If you are convinced that every obstacle you face can be overcome, you will find a way to overcome no matter how much the circumstances may appear to disagree. Assigning your fate to God or to life or to the world without taking any responsibility for your thinking is not taking responsibility for your own life. We all know instinctively that life works like this but discount it when it comes to what we think. If you are going to catch fish, you have to use the right bait. If you are going to hunt elk, you have to go to where the elk live. If you are going to make a lot of money, you have to go to work. You cannot fish with the wrong bait then get mad at God because you aren’t catching any fish. You cannot hunt for elk where elk do not live then curse the heavens for your bad fortune. You cannot refuse to work or offer your employer your absolute minimum effort, then blame the world for your poverty. Likewise, you cannot possibly expect to have a good life while all the time convincing yourself (through negative considerations) that your life will turn out badly. Your life is lived inside out…

What you think matters. Where you go in your mind in life’s situations matters. The things you feed your mind everyday matter. The outcomes you rehearse for yourself over and over and over matter. What you say about yourself and your life matters. And ultimately, what you believe in the depths of your heart matters. If you want a different outcome, you have to think in a different way. Wherever you are today, your thinking has led you there. Life is not unfair. Circumstances are unfair. Certain challenges you may face are unfair. People can be unfair, but life is not unfair. God has given you a way to overcome whatever you are up against, but it all starts with your thinking. Pay attention to your thinking.  Control your thinking.  Change your thinking. Stop allowing the world to dictate what you think about the most. Stop allowing circumstances to determine what it is you will believe. Put an end to any influence that leads your thinking away from God’s best for your life. Your life is lived from the inside out…

Your life is a direct reflection of your own expectations. Change your expectations. You change them! Quit dwelling on “what is” and dwell on what you want. See yourself successful. Expect things to work out. When you find yourself challenged, (and you surely will) look for the solution. With God there is always a solution. Separate yourself from the thoughtless herd ever plunging headlong into the abyss. Step out of line. Stop going with the flow, the majority, the world! Form your own opinions. The reason you think the way you think is because that is how you have been taught to think. You have been led astray. You’re a victim in a vicious cycle in which you are doing the spinning. Spin the damn thing in the opposite direction! You have already suffered enough hurt, enough disappointment, enough lack to know something isn’t right! It isn’t life, it is you. It isn’t God, it is you. It isn’t just the way life is, it’s the way you think (believe) life is. Sooner or later you have to realize life is lived inside out. MAKE YOUR INSIDE RIGHT!

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…

The Great Balancing Act


live-unbalanced-1080x670There is such a thing as having too much of a good thing. Every want and every desire carries within itself the potential to turn into an obsession. The discipline that checks can devolve into cruelty. Adherence to rules and standards can lead to peace but also to the bondage of servitude. In order to live successfully and enjoy the ride, you have to learn to find the balance.

It seems God rewards common sense. Intuitively we know when we are out of harmony with ourselves. We know that what starts good doesn’t always end well. We can exercise the muscle and damage the joint. As we traverse through the thrilling peaks of life, we know we cannot sustain them and soon fall headlong into the valleys. What blesses us most is the level ground, the flattened hills, the filled in depressions, the balance. “All work and no play makes Jack a dull boy.” Yet excitement and enjoyment only, like the delusion of drugs, leads ever to some future collapse. Exhilaration must be followed by some settling or else your heart blows up. But if nothing ever spikes your heart you may as well be dead. You have to occupy the middle territory.

It seems God made the world a metaphor for proper thought. All around us nature teaches us balance as abundant foliage in the summer drops off in the fall to make way for the spring.  Holes soon fill in and high spots eventually get smoothed out. The tide rolls out and rolls back in again. The enjoyments of life follow the struggles and without the struggles there is no satisfaction. Every weekend is preceded by its weekdays. Waking and sleeping, working and playing, accepting and rejecting, all choosing, all deciding part of one and part of another resulting in a balance. And life, it appears, offers itself to the one willing to seek until eventually located, only to be required again later on.

It seems God has designed our bodies and our minds to require a balance and if not indulged, though working out of balance for extended periods, eventually breaks down and wears out forcing its owner to stop until the balance returns. If you have too much going on and you are working too long and too hard, at some juncture the machinery fails and a short bout with illness or some other malady forces you to reconsider. You can drive yourself to extremes in acquiring great wealth yet have no-one left to enjoy it with because the journey drove them all away. You can have so many resources that you can live in perpetual play, until your play turns into a drug addiction or obsession or any unhealthy overindulgence in something fun. Your vessel was designed for equilibrium.

It seems God endorses moderation. The developed world is consumed with the symbols of youth, with the top of the chart being physical fitness disguised as leanness, code for being thin! The trouble being that generally the thin ones are also the youngsters. The older you get, the heavier you get, the less desirable you become. It is the “thin culture.” Enter a vast population of people virtually starving themselves to achieve some artificial level of fitness reserved for people whose full-time job is fitness. That’s not to say there is something wrong with fitness, but when the fitness exceeds logic and good sense or is so extreme that it requires a fourth of your waking hours, it is functioning as a compensation for something else. Every diet craze is solved by the watchword – moderation. Perpetual dieting, the bane of rational activity, always requires a period of deprivation followed by a period of bingeing on everything forbidden during the deprivation phase. The question isn’t how thin you are, the question is what are you really after with your thinness? You can enjoy all things in moderation, which is more of a mindset than a restriction. Level your mindsets…

The great balancing act of life is more about you being in control than any other factor in a life of a million variables. You, being the boss of your own butt, decide just how much time and energy you will give to a thing. If the effort required overwhelms you, it is likely too much. If the effort required is barely noticeable, it is probably too little. Continuing to work at your job long after you have left for the evening may get lots of work done, but it will work you over in the process. Your enthusiasm and commitment may be rewarded until you slip a little and find out rather harshly that you are in fact replaceable if the need so requires it. Working hard certainly isn’t the issue but rather why you are doing what you are doing and whether you are controlling it or “it” is controlling you. The balance of life is found in control.

In the profound humanity of our existence, we all find ourselves pushed and pulled to one extreme or the other. We all traverse mountains and then fall into our self-made valleys. We all like our likes too much and discover ourselves controlled by something we used to control and enjoy. It is part of our human condition and all of the emotions and joy and disappointment and sadness that goes along with it. Yet, our humanity is one of the best things about us. We feel and thus we act. And in our honest feelings we make fine tuned decisions and subtle adjustments ever seeking that which makes us feel the best about ourselves. The built-in balance mechanism a gift from God.

The question to ask yourself is, “How do I feel?” If you feel out of balance, rushed and harried, you are, so honor your feelings and make the change. This isn’t a decision other people make for you, it is a decision you make for yourself. It’s your life my friend, so pursue the balance only you can demand for yourself and enjoy your ride. It’s not being egotistical. It’s being responsible.

Just some good thoughts…

 

21 to Nothing…


453127445I’m not sure how this kind of thing happens or what’s behind those sudden decisions we make in life, though I have some strong suspicions, but for whatever reason you suddenly find yourself consumed with the idea of putting yourself to the test in some capacity for some important reason. This is exactly what happened to me. I was about to return from a conference where I happily ate, drank and was merry. As the conference closing drew near, I finalized the idea that when I got home I was going to put myself on a drastic calorie reduced diet. My reasoning basically consisted of the idea that I had allowed myself to get fat and was getting to the point where I could barely tolerate that guy in the mirror. I knew this diet was the only plan that had worked for me in the past, so I put the naysayers behind me and began the 21 day quest. Naturally, my reduced calorie diet included an abstinence from alcohol for the next 21 days as well. I’m not the kind of guy that needs a drink to function, but I cannot recall the last time I hadn’t even had a glass of wine for 3 weeks. So the test and the learning commenced…

Much to my surprise, my first lesson made clear to me how important it is to make decisions, specifically the stronger your decision, the easier it is going to be to carry out your plan. When, by God, you decide how it is going to be, then, by God that is exactly how it is! Day after day I lost a pound as promised; did not cause my body to think I was starving; had vegetables and protein daily; did not suffer the litany of other ailments I would surely undergo from losing weight too quickly. My only pair of jeans that still fit soon took on the baggy look. I found a whole wardrobe of suits and shirts that magically worked again. Shoot, I could even wear a t-shirt to the gym without the all too familiar belly bulge! Victory!

Uber discipline in place for calorie reduction, my most pleasant surprise came by shaking up my familiar routines involving alcohol. Not having a glass of wine during the week was relatively simple, but not having any wine on the weekend days, that’s a whole other story! You may not realize this but Friday nights were made for wine. Choosing no wine on wine night is quite a slap in a habit’s face! Abstain I did, as I had already decided, and I was left with myself facing myself. You know what I found? Years of unresolved childhood issues and hurts left unattended? Painful realizations of what my life really consisted of? Ummm, no! What I found was that absent the anesthetic, I was damn productive. Suddenly I had a lot of shit to do! After I did it, I assumed my usual veg position on the couch minus the fatty chips and a glass of wine. When in doubt, do thinking… I think you’ll enjoy it.

My next realization and perhaps best lesson learned involved how I felt about myself. I’m not trying to tell you that abstinence is best or that you should live without many of the things that you enjoy. What I am telling you is that controlling yourself feels damn fantastic! Control yourself! Learn to say no! Resist! Take charge of the organism. Your desires, your wants, your enjoyments, your habits aren’t in control, you are! And when that day comes, for whatever reason, prompted by whatever logic, do it, feel it, overcome it. Controlling your own self is like crack cocaine to your self-esteem. You become the “effin” champion! It’s the most unusual, yet most profound thing in the world. Controlling yourself, not just for a rough 21 day test, but throughout your life, clearly is the best thing to do. I mean, if a small piece of cheese makes a mouse return to the same spot, the feelings you get from controlling yourself, alone, are worth any hardship you might face. It’s like God is telling you, “See, control isn’t bad, it’s everything good!” Try it…

At the risk of sounding preachy or, God forbid, religious, your brain really doesn’t need the substance to be okay. Your unaltered mental state can actually be very sweet and even more resilient than you have given it credit to be. The trick is to avoid rapid medication over just allowing yourself to be with yourself as yourself. Some jokes aren’t that funny. Some experiences are hysterical. In short, you start to figure out things that need to be done and things you want to get done. Have I sworn off wine forever? Of course not! But, I did put myself to the test and not only won, but more importantly learned some valuable things about myself.

My seemingly insignificant little experiment taught me so many things, the greatest of which is that control is not something to be feared, but rather something to be embraced and honored. Cliche’ aside, life is too damn short to be under anything’s control! Prove it to yourself!

Now, what’s next? What should you do? Well, if you don’t mind, find that thing that you cannot live without; find that part of life you’ve convinced yourself you have to have and go without it. Cut it off for a minute. Give it up. Just say no! It can be as simple as Dunkin Donuts coffee or as serious as a drug addiction. Point is – you don’t need anything outside of yourself to be happy and you can discipline yourself to give up almost anything (except what you need to live). But, don’t do it because I said so, do it when you also experience that urge; that calling; that determination to put yourself to the test and win.

Life under control is awesome people… Try it for yourself!

Just some good thoughts…

 

 

 

Taming Your Wild and Crazy Mind…


your-thoughtsI suppose it wouldn’t matter much what you thought about if your thoughts had no effect on your life. If your life wasn’t governed by what you believe and what you believe wasn’t determined by what you think about the most, there would be no point in trying to get that unruly beast (your mind) under control. But alas, your thoughts do form the basis of what you believe and what you believe deep in your heart is the wellspring from which your entire life flows out (or lack thereof).

Of all of the things in life you can control, nothing is more important or potentially life-giving than controlling your thoughts. It’s almost amusing to most folks, this insane notion that you can control your thoughts. In these frenetic times of visual, electronic images, overloaded and multiplied indefinitely, available in front of you, on your side and in your hand; calm, singular and controlled thought is highly discouraged or even considered boorish. Well, don’t you believe that for a second!

Many people today just sort of limp through life. They drag along day by day filled with anxiety, stress, depression, boredom and a general lack of zest for living. And sadly, they’ve done it for so long that they think that’s just the way life is. They fail, disastrously, to make the connection between what appears in their life and what they think about the most. Subsequently, your life may be summed up in one simple question. “What do you believe is going to happen in your life?” If life for you is one continuous stream of things going wrong, negative events occurring, and disasters looming over the horizon, you have to ask yourself what kind of thoughts have you been incubating in your mind. Fear and anxiety are not a natural part of life, they are aberrations that come about by entertaining and focusing on the wrong things. Then when the catastrophe strikes, you exclaim, “I knew it!” Well, you did know it because you cooperated with “it” by allowing it to remain in your thinking. Disaster, catastrophe, hardship, difficulty and pain are not random at all, though they appear to be. They are pointed and specific and come about by man’s cooperation with evil by failing to control what he will and will not think about or failure to properly believe what is true. Man absent the truth is an anxiety machine ever churning out products to his own suffering.

Life in its simplest form boils down to two distinct realities; light and darkness, love and fear, good and evil, right and wrong, truth and error; all an alternate way to say the same thing.  As you live your own life, you are making decisions and choices everyday. You don’t get what you want, you get what you choose. If you choose to persist in something you know is wrong, no matter how rebellious, apathetic or careless you feel about it, you will continue to get the wrong results in your life. Oh you can cling to it; get real damn angry about it, justify it infinitely, but it will still continue to bring to you what, at its core it is, whether you like it or not. Many times that inner turmoil you are experiencing doesn’t need to be resolved by medication, it needs to be resolved by your decision to stop doing that thing (or maybe do that thing less)! You decide what that thing is… This isn’t some religious call to dissect and pick apart your life. That sort of thinking is just as bad (as you probably have already experienced). This is a sober reality check, pointing out that only good can come from good and only bad can come from bad. It doesn’t matter what the world says, it matters what the truth is!

Worldly, so-called spiritual leaders always seem to shame and malign material prosperity, as if having an abundance is somehow not spiritual. Well, here’s a quick newsflash for you. Life is a helluva lot easier with some resources than it is without them. Don’t you kid yourself. If you car breaks down and costs $2,000 dollars to fix it, it’s hardly a flinch in your thought life if you’ve got plenty of money to fix it. If you don’t, it’s an emergency. Accordingly, God’s will for you is abundance! So, back to the core issue, namely what do you think about material prosperity? Does it elude you like a gazelle escaping clutches of a lion? If so, that is a choice you are making in your thoughts. It doesn’t matter that every previous generation in your family had very little. What matters is what do you think or believe will happen in your life. Can you see it? The limit, the dividing line isn’t the world, it’s you.

Nowadays disease is at an epidemic level. Almost everyone seems to have something. Sickness and disease are not God’s will. Our imperfect bodies (not intended by God) sometimes fall prey to sickness. Fearful, worried, anxious thinking weakens our immune system and opens the door for illness. You may wonder why you are always so sick, but fail to consider that your thoughts are sick. Your mind and your body engage in a delicate dance with one responding to the other. Often your body is trying to tell you that something is wrong with your thoughts. Occasionally your body forces you to escape the frenetic pace you’ve engaged in and lays you up for a few days. Naturally some diseases carry a larger price tag. The “C” word for most threatens pending doom. Yet, even in the midst of life threatening cancer, you still have a choice. For God, healing you of cancer is no different from healing you of a common cold. So even in that arduous, fear inducing condition, you can choose to believe what God says and control your thoughts to keep the invader out. It doesn’t matter how you feel. What matters is what is true.

You can control that unruly beast called your mind. You can also let it go, wherever it is being led. But beware, and know, that if you aren’t leading it, something else is and that “something” does not wish you well. Instead, learn what to think and what is true. You have nothing to lose and everything to gain. You can turn your entire life around. You can change any aspect or part. You can acquire material abundance and be healed from everything that ever went wrong. You can, my friends, and you will if you’ll only learn one thing – how to control your thinking, for your thoughts form the basis of your heart; the wellspring from which your entire life flows out! Make a good choice..

Just some good thoughts…

The Never Ending Diet Metaphor for Life…


btn-self-mastery-trainingI just gawked at one of those celebrity articles featuring how “hot” certain actors were back in the day and then ‘look at them now.’ As I peered curiously at visions of youth lost and it’s companion weight gain, I felt sort of sad. Not sad because I now face both of those intruders, but rather in light of our (1st world) societal expectations about how we ought to look. I suppose it’s a cruelty that comes with getting older as youth requires little to no discipline at all. But the more pervasive cruelty is found in how we begin to view ourselves. And because of the pressure we feel to “look” a certain way, we either partake in the endless diet or succumb to the weight making us less and less recognizable as the years roll by. This, my friends, is a metaphor for life.

I think if we’re honest, we want to lose weight because we want to look good. We want to feel good. We want things to work like they used to work. In short, we want to be young again. But was the time of our youth really that fantastic? We were either awkward or nervous or shy. We were besieged with self-doubt. When we actually dared to give it thought, we wondered what we would do for a living and when we had to “settle down.” We lived for the day when we had it all and could do whatever we wanted. Sure we always looked good in a bathing suit, but inside it wasn’t all that swell .

Fast forward 30 years and many of those questions have all been answered for us. We may still be awkward, but we’re too tired to give a shit. We’re more sure than we ever were before. But, are we so sure? Do we know what we think we know or have we just succumbed to the game? Then, after our surrender we started getting fat; not only in our bathing suits but more importantly in our minds. We started just letting stuff go. We figured that if we couldn’t have it all like we dreamed in times past, the least we could do was eat some tasty foods, drink some wine and veg out on the couch. We now have the resources to gorge ourselves night and day and the damn, quick fix, unhealthy foods seem to taste the best!

In our youth we had a cosmic pass. We didn’t have responsibilities because we weren’t yet capable of responsibilities. Mom and Dad took care of that. Our job was just to communicate our needs and find the fun. Someone else took care of the hard parts. But, the grand design of things was that as we learned and grew we were supposed to transfer that responsibility on to God. The cycle was supposed to continue. God promised to meet our every need and we were supposed to find the fun. Sure we had work to do but it was no different from the requirement to mow the lawn. But, because we didn’t know that we took it all upon ourselves and life started to be a real drag. We just got so tired. And to add insult to injury we started gaining weight while simultaneously watching our bodies start to droop. Our selfies sucked because we always forgot to wake up our tired faces. (smile)

One day it dawned us that we look nothing like we used to look. The ever angular face from our younger years suddenly became rounded and our chin began to double itself. We grew bellies and man boobs. We peered into the mirror and saw deep wrinkles from years of scowling and frowning. But somewhere in there hiding is that kid, full of youthful beauty and plans and dreams and hope. We recognize that we’ve done it to ourselves. Our complacency and fatigue have led to a lack of control. We just let things go. And beyond that we failed to let go of the things we needed to let go of which explains that look on our faces.

Momentarily awakened, we get back on the endless diet. We decide to take charge of ourselves once again. We begin to think about what we are thinking about and reign ourselves in. And it feels good. Controlling ourselves feels damn good and the side benefit is that we start to lose weight. But, life marches on and we start to succumb to the same bad habits that put us there in the first place and so we either begin a new diet or get back on track with our existing diet. That frustrating yet simple, oft-repeated process, is a metaphor for life. We adults are supposed to control ourselves. Mom and Dad aren’t around to deny us the 4th cookie. In fact, they aren’t around to stop us from doing anything that brings us harm. We’re supposed to do it ourselves with God’s help.

So how can this age-old yo-yo process represent life? Those inner urgings; that persistent inkling that we’ve let something go; the dissatisfaction we feel inside is there because we haven’t yet learned the lesson. Life isn’t about looking good in a bikini, it’s about gaining mastery over our biggest opponent, ourselves! It’s not something we do for a short period of time to reach a destination. It’s someone we become from faithful effort to get up, show up and win. We’ve all surrendered and given in at times, sometimes for years… We’ve all succumbed to the lure of the quick fix and instant success. But neither of those ends of the spectrum represent real life. Real, satisfied, fulfilled life comes from gaining mastery over ourselves. Success is found in a million little choices adding up to a blessed life. Instead of being frustrated with ourselves and being critical of ourselves we need to uncover that happy kid inside and make the daily decision to better ourselves, be patient with ourselves and finally recover ourselves. Instead of dismissing our private thoughts as foolish or simple, we must listen to what they’re telling us and take the necessary action. Oh, how grand we feel when we finally take some action!

When I look at myself in the mirror, I see my furrowed brow, my thinning hair and that belly bulge. I see how much that guy has changed over the years. But, I also see, deeply carved in the sides of my eyes, etched lines that came from a hundred thousand smiles. I see eyes that have dimmed somewhat over time, but still carry all of the love, compassion and care that can only come from a lifetime of experiences. No-one is going to put me on a magazine cover anymore, but they will listen to what I have to say! Only time and experience can get you to that place, and this life exists for you to gain mastery in the journey.

Just some good thoughts…

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Good Life…


Good-LifeThere’s something out there that all humans are after. It’s something often talked about but rarely found. It’s the inner heart desire of every person that draws breath. It’s a goal, an experience, a journey and a destination. It is the pursuit of all pursuits, the good life!

If you’ve lived any amount of time, you know there are as many theories on the way to get there as there are people. One man’s good life is a nightmare for another. One woman’s unacceptable is another’s acceptable, and even more, a victory. For some it’s money. For others it’s family. For some it’s solitude and quiet space. For others it’s opportunities for learning. Truth is, you have the privilege to decide your good life yourself. But, there is one consistent thing that underlies all variations of the good life. It is  the most glorious and delicate balance in life. It’s called self-control…

If you’re like me, you tend to bristle up when that “control” word shows up. Nobody likes to be controlled. And, sometimes it’s tough to control yourself, especially when that controls involves the things you love. But, and you cannot find a larger but, self-control is truly the essence of life; the good life. Here’s the paradox, the more control you exercise, the more free you become. Now, before you get besieged with sadness, self control doesn’t mean refusing happiness or good feelings or good things.  Self control is more about enjoying your happiness and producing good feelings and maintaining your good things.

Have you ever had the experience of finally deciding to control some aspect of your life? If you were successful, i.e. lost the weight, stopped a behavior, brought some ‘out of control’ aspect under control, how did you feel when the job was done? Conversely, those areas that are out of control; those aspects of you that drive “you” nuts, the things you do over and over and over again and despise yourself when you do them, how do they leave you? You see, your feelings, though not 100% reliable, are trying to tell you something. They’re telling you that you need to get a grip on you! And, sadly, you know it’s true.

There is such a thing as too much of a good thing. Fun is always fun, but there is a ‘too much’ fun. Wine, the great mood enhancer, has an end point where it changes from a sparkle to a sedative. Tasty food is delightful but the Thanksgiving gorge is over the top. Discomfort is the tell-tale indicator. Bad feelings are the barometer. If you really think it through, there should be no down side to a good thing. But the downside sometimes applies not to the thing itself but the quantity of the thing.

In every realm of life, there’s an expectation of control. Control keeps you healthy. Control protects your finances. Control enhances your experiences. Control makes your highs higher and mitigates your lows. Your life depends upon your willingness to control it. I would surmise that whenever you observe someone who seems to be living the good life, behind that life is some element of control; decisions you maybe never see.

Life is always about staying in balance. Work is good unless you work too much or too little. If you work too much, you allow it to compensate for other areas it was never designed to cover. It becomes a consuming force and begs for remedy. If you work too little, the penalty is found in dissatisfaction and angst. Even a day at work where your focus is not on work but quitting time, makes for the longest day ever. If you’ve ever lost your job, you know that time off is not really time off when your responsibilities aren’t handled. But, how sweet is your vacation when the work preceded it?

Life requires both the things you have to do and the things you get to do. If all you have is things you have to do, you’ll live your life in misery. Likewise, if all you do is things you get to do, you’ll soon be found wanting. A lawn must be mowed before you can enjoy the patio. The bed must be made to make the night’s sleep that much nicer. Food is eaten on clean dishes. Work comes before play and play is made possible by work. The weekend comes at the end of the work week, not before it. The balance is the beauty of it all.

I think you may discover one day that the good life you were after was right there for you all along. But instead of being found in fame and riches, it is found in a thousand little choices; choices you make in defense of yourself. Choices that don’t always feel good, but always feel good if you know what I mean. The ability to sometimes say no, to yourself… The sublime, inherent ability to finally take command of yourself; your elusive self! That, my friends is the sure steadfast definition of the good life – getting and then staying in control of yourself…

You don’t know where to start, you say? Begin the next time you start to do something you really wish you wouldn’t do. Listen to the gentle urging inside you when there’s a decision to be made. Pay attention to that thought back there telling you something you have been trying to ignore. You already know where the control needs to be, you just need to make up your mind to do it. And when you do, notice how that feels and see if you cannot get a glimpse of the good life yourself…

Just some good thoughts…

 

 

The Cart Before the Horse…


AAEAAQAAAAAAAAK6AAAAJGNiODlmM2Y5LWRhM2YtNGY1YS1iODViLWI0ZDg1YjExODU0YQOne of the great tragedies of life comes from confusing your cart and your horse. The world, which is not confused, has convinced you to put your cart before your proverbial horse. It does so by persuading you that your life just “is” and that you are simply responding to it. So, this is for all of you who feel your life isn’t fair. This is for the unhappy souls. This is for the one that just can’t seem to catch a break. This is the remedy to every unpleasant circumstance and the release from anything that ever held you back!

When you take inventory of your life and I mean get really honest with yourself, there are probably things you “wish” were different. Maybe you don’t have enough money. (*Important side note – it seems the biggest proponents of money not being important are usually people who don’t have enough of it.) Money is very necessary, don’t you kid yourself. Maybe you aren’t experiencing satisfying relationships. Perhaps you don’t have enough friends. You might feel stuck; at a dead-end; purposeless or bored. You’re tired of being sick, facing setbacks, trying to surmount seemingly insurmountable odds! Whatever your issue is it can briefly be summed up in one sentence. Things just aren’t working out!  And with all that comes the shocker of all shockers. It is your fault…

I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again. Your life, the one you are presently experiencing, is exactly, unequivocally, precisely the sum of all you have expected it to be. Read that again! Obviously you aren’t responsible for every other person’s outcomes, but know this and never forget it. You are responsible for your own outcomes. You are, you are, you frikkin are! It’s not the world, the environment or your circumstances. It’s not your upbringing, your social status or your bank balance. It just isn’t and if you think it is you have fallen prey to the persuasion and your cart is pretending to pass your horse. Your horse pulls your cart and you are choosing the destination. Oh, you don’t think you are, but you are.

Lest you say I’ve gone mad, I get it. Life isn’t all peaches and roses. Sucky staff happens. Negative circumstances occur. People screw you over and everyone doesn’t start out on equal footing. At times you are an unsuspecting victim and other times you just didn’t see it coming. No-one’s life is exempt from the world’s shenanigans. We all have stuff to overcome. We all find ourselves in fights we don’t want to fight. There are reasons for that, but that is another blog. The point is, we can all get to anyplace we decide to get to once we finally learn how to get our horse before our cart.

The circumstances of your life are shaped by your beliefs. Your beliefs are formed by what you think about the most. What you think about the most is completely within your control and subsequently indirectly shapes the circumstances and events of your life. For example (warning this might piss you off), the amount of money you earn is exactly the amount of money, in that moment of time) you believed you could earn. The amount was determined by you. The limit was defined by you. If it isn’t enough it is your fault. To think that God decides how prosperous you are is to not understand God. The same applies to health and relationships and everything else under the sun. God simply laid out the rules. The rules have no limits, but they do have conditions. The conditions are, what you can believe for is what you will receive. Your believing, in your heart, ultimately a product of your thoughts, determines your results. Your beliefs are the horses and your carts are the results. Ya get it?

The liberation from negative outcomes comes when you decide to your change your thoughts. It happens when you step outside the hamster wheel and say, no more! It happens when you locate and destroy those self-defeating thoughts and (a very important and) you replace them with new thoughts. “It’s always been this way” is just a lack of understanding. It’s always been that way because you have always been that way and you can be any way you decide to be. It doesn’t matter how long you have suffered or under what austere circumstances you began. What matters is whether or nor you accept full responsibility for your life and in so accepting, do something about it.

People get forever stuck in the riddle of looking at what is and believing it is what will be. Today is just a reflection of all of your yesterdays. Tomorrow will be the mirror image of all of your todays. So, for God’s sake (literally), change your todays. Get outside of your well-worn ruts and picture something different; something better! Picture it; see it; live it in your mind today and as sure as the sun is coming up tomorrow, it is going to come to pass. It’s your horse, by God, and it is completely in charge of your cart.

You may think this fanciful; Pollyanna or pie in the sky, but at the end of the day, it is still your life. If you want to make a change, what do you have to lose? if you want to remain in your misery, keep chasing your cart around, foolishly dismissing your horse and the control God gave you over your life.

You can change anything and everything in your life if you can believe it! You can…

Just some good thoughts…

Who’s Driving Your Bus?


pigeon-drive-the-busIn stark contrast to what you may have learned, you are not a victim in life. Sh*t doesn’t just happen! And, while it is so damn common today for everyone to preach, “Everything happens for a reason,” (which subtly implies the negatives that occur have some good purpose behind them) the truth is that everything does happen for a reason but that reason isn’t always good! (Don’t even get me started on the phrase, “It’s all good!”) Then, sadly, there is that awful phrase, “It wasn’t meant to be,” which is the universal catch-all scapegoat for taking away any and all personal responsibility in life. If you ever take the time to consider those words, they imply a lack of control over what happens to you. I mean come on, wasn’t meant to be by whom? God? Is life really a scary whirlwind that you find yourself caught up in? Did the Creator predestinate you to certain conditions and circumstances and there is nothing you can do about it? If you believe these things, and Lord knows you’ve heard them, then you are not driving your own bus! And if you aren’t driving your own bus, then who is? ((Now that’s scary!)

This life that God has blessed you with is not without control. It seems like it is because apparent randomness and apparent accidents, apparent good fortune and apparent bad luck are all around you. But, what if those events and circumstances aren’t random at all? What if your life is persistently being influenced to think a certain way? What if you are being imperceptibly systematized into error? What if something successfully convinced you that instead of being the driver of your own bus, you are just a passenger waiting hopelessly for the right stop? What if my friends, what if?

Now I’ve lived long enough to know that things don’t always turn out the way we “wished” they would. I’ve had my share of heartache and angst. I’ve struggled and whined and reviled. I’ve been stuck in a vortex of negativity. I have not gotten the job, not gotten the promotion, witnessed suffering and seen dreams not come into fruition. Did that mean I never really had any control? Or did it mean I had not yet learned to consistently take ownership and responsibility for the outcomes in my life? When those things occurred was I a passenger on the bus or the driver? It couldn’t be that I was driving or I never would have chosen those destinations!

The great key to the bus in your life is your believing. Believing for the things you want doesn’t mean you won’t be greatly challenged for the driver’s seat, but rather it means no matter how many times you get the keys wrestled from you, you take them back again! Bad stuff does happen to good people, but believing people are determined to recover and start driving again! Believing is something you do with your mind and your heart. Believing is choosing what you will and will not have in your life. How many of you are waiting and waiting for something good to happen, yet never taking the key and driving the bus? “Oh Lord, if you could just get me this or rescue me from that!” His response? “Psssst, it’s your bus!” You see God Almighty Himself cannot do a blessed thing for you until you believe! Wishing, hoping, waiting are all passengers on the bus to nowhere. It doesn’t matter what it looks like. It is immaterial what has happened in the past. The only moment you can live in is “now!” So get the key, start up the bus and drive! Once you start driving, things are going to happen!

This certainly isn’t a criticism of you, however. I live in this same world you live in and sometimes what we want just seems impossible. But, and trust me on this one, nothing is going to happen until you can somehow wrap your mind around believing. Believing is full persuasion from the heart. Have you ever got sick and tired of some negative scenario and said, “Enough is enough?” – and really meant it? The situation seemed to resolve rather quickly, didn’t it? And, if it didn’t resolve, you aint quite there yet! But, it’s still your bus and you are still the driver!

Believing is God’s wonderful way of giving us control over this crazy life. The people who enjoy great success use it. The people who endure great distress also use it, but they use it as fear and fear gets you that terrible thing just as surely as confidence gets you that good thing. Our lives are completely predicated on what we believe; about ourselves; the world; our families, everything… And the kicker? It doesn’t matter if you believe in God or not because believing is something all people may do. I’d rather believe in God than just myself, but hey that’s just me~

So, do you want to get your life back? Do you need deliverance from something evil? Do you need a way out; an escape route? Is there a life you have imagined but haven’t found yet? Pull out your key and drive your own bus! There is no other way.

Sh*t does not just happen! Some things that happen are evil and the reason is to screw your life up! It’s not all good by any stretch of the imagination! And nothing, absolutely nothing is meant to be!!! God is always for you and if you ever mustered up the gumption to believe what He said, you would get whatever it is that you wanted. There is absolutely no limit for with God nothing is impossible!

Quit being a passenger on your own bus! Get the key and drive baby! There’s nothing more impressive than a man or a woman driving their own bus… It is your right as a person! Life is short, drive now… Drive now!

Just some good thoughts…

PS Read “The Energy Bus” by Jon Gordon if you aren’t quite ready for the Good book…

Controlling Your Way to Happiness…


controlButton“Control” is generally considered a negative word. No-one wants to be controlled and when other people are controlling, it drives us nuts. But, what about controlling yourself? Can controlling yourself make you happy? To the human mind, less control seems to promote freedom, doesn’t it? Or does just the opposite occur?

Recently I started a diet that requires eating 500 calories a day. (You know the one…) And, as you might expect, it requires a considerable amount of discipline. After a few days of determined effort, I discovered something spectacular. I felt fantastic.  3.5 ounces of chicken, 4 ounces of spinach and I’m on cloud nine. The same guy that gorged himself on steak and rice, washed down with copious amounts of wine, is suddenly standing a little taller and feeling a lot better. So, I asked myself why? Why would such apparent deprivation lead to such elation?

As I thought more about my life I realized I was a slave to comfort. And, by the age of 54 I had pretty much mastered it. My comforts consisted of eating what I enjoyed most, sitting inordinate amounts of time, and drinking as much as my heart desired. And, all of those things made me feel great, at least as far as I could tell. But, my lack of control was taking a larger toll on me than I realized. Not just in terms of added weight and lethargy, but mentally in how I felt about myself. Then, the light shined in, “Humans were designed to control themselves…”

If you think about your life, you have certain habits or behaviors that you don’t like. We all do. But, have you ever considered the value of deciding to stop doing that “one” thing? Sure, it seems inconsequential in the grand scheme of life, but what you don’t control ends up controlling you. Just letting loose seems so natural, but it doesn’t really make you happy. Of course, I’m not advocating the pseudo-misery life where everything is bad and wrong and harmful. Instead I’m suggesting that you figure out those areas where you have lost control and get busy controlling them again. The Bible says everything in moderation, not don’t touch this or taste that. Denial for denial’s sake is seldom rewarding. But, insert a little control and notice what happens to you. I think deep down we all know what we should do, but actually doing it is a whole “nother” story.

So, take some time to think about your life. Consider those areas that drive you crazy. Contemplate that problem you have that has become so chronic that you accept it, and decide to simply stop it. I often think our greatest life suckers aren’t found in the big important things, but in the small stuff to which we seldom pay attention. What thing do you do everyday that you wish you didn’t do? What haunts you? What is plaguing you? That’s the thing. That is the chink in your armor. The adversary knows that the best way to beat your opponent is to get him to beat himself. Not controlling yourself makes you hurt yourself.

Honestly, I didn’t start a diet because I wanted to discipline myself. I started the diet because that belly in my bathroom mirror was driving me nucking futs! The belly that grew out of days without end in comfort was my motivation. Then, just three days in  of exercising serious determination and finally telling myself “no,” something wonderful took place. The same will happen for you, believe me. Being able to tell yourself “no” at times is the essence of control. Say no to too much! Say no to just laying there! Say no to just one more! Say no to the endless stream of distractions directed at your noggin and get busy doing the stuff you really want to do! Imagine what you could accomplish if your mind wasn’t glazed over from excess booze and nachos. Imagine how much precious time you would find by getting serious and determined. Imagine…

Life is funny in that sometimes you learn the strangest lessons quite by mistake. Or maybe it isn’t a mistake… (;-) Pay attention to the signals and hints that run across your mind. Something glorious and wonderful wants you to find that elusive happiness you’ve been working so hard to get. And ironically, many times the lesson reveals the solution in the exact opposite manner than you formerly thought. Funny.

I’m excited to see a fit stomach in my mirror, but even more psyched about the new things I can learn and control in the process.

Just some good thoughts…