Life Requires Your Participation…


1_1X2KtJHaDNEr3MBghmUA5wI was thinking the other day about how your life can go sort of stale on you. Things don’t appear different on the outside; there haven’t been any major changes; nothing dramatic has occurred, yet suddenly it feels a bit pointless and dry. It’s almost as if there isn’t anything to look forward to and your existence seems to have slowed down to a crawl. The more deeply I considered the emotions, the more curious I became. What is it that happens to a person that takes away the joy and adventure of living? What event or series of events have been at work behind the scenes stealing away precious life and vitality? What could have possibly been going on in a person’s thought life that led to these negative and hopeless conclusions? Then, I knew the answer. Life requires your participation!

The way you stop participating in life is when you stop moving forward. You don’t necessarily feel like you stopped, but if you are honest you know you no longer have anything you are pursuing. You aren’t on an exciting adventure full of discovery. You aren’t on a journey towards some worthwhile end. You have no grand plans for your exciting future life, but instead have settled in to mediocrity and silence. You’re going through the motions, living, but not really living. There was a time when you had a zest for living and carried a mind full of expectations and desires. But, something happened to you. Something worked you over and wore you down. Someone or a host of someones chipped away at your ambitions and goals. One by one, little by little, your mental plans were closed off and nullified. It wasn’t your age that did it to you, but maybe the considerations you entertained concerning your age. It wasn’t the circumstances of your life that took away your dreams as you had similar, if not worse circumstances, in your unknown and untraveled youth. What changed was your interpretation of your circumstances and what they meant in terms of your future life. Your lack of energy and exhaustion didn’t come about from extreme efforts, but instead lack of effort; lack of movement and ultimately a lack of participation in your own life. You stopped doing your part. Life requires your participation.

When you remove all of the covers, when you take off all the disguises, when you peel away all of the layers, a person’s arch nemesis in life is always fear. It is fear that enters in an impedes your forward progress. Doubt causes you to hesitate. Worry slows your progress forward and fear eventually freezes you in your tracks. Like the mighty roar of a lion, fear roars to stop your forward progress, rendering you helpless from the enemy’s pending attack. The name of the thief that stole your ideals is fear. The hunter that trapped you in a cage of mediocrity is fear. The robber that made off with your enthusiasm and zest for living is fear. Absent fear your mind is free to function at full speed, full of ideas and dreams and wishes, hopes and plans. What happened to you was not a function of aging or gaining wisdom concerning the world. What happened was in some capacity, in some imperceptible way, by repetition and habit, fear got to you. Fear tricked you into stopping your forward momentum. Fear pointed out why your plans could not work; how foolish you were for thinking them and how many obstacles existed to impede your progress towards them. But, it wasn’t fear’s lies that defeated you, it was your acceptance of those lies as evidenced by your lack of progress toward your plans. You, because of fear, stopped moving; stopped doing; stopped trying. Your dreams require your participation in their attainment.

Often people pray for God to take away their problems and troubles. They beg God to simply step in and remedy the situation for them. And while that sounds beautiful, further inspection reveals that is not how life works, indeed not how God works. God moves in people as they move. Waiting and praying and wishing won’t restore the life you have lost as a victim to fear. You have to move again. You have to take some steps. You have got to start moving forward. However it happened to you, it already happened. Bless God for helping you see what you need the most to see.  Praise God for those times you got to recognize and understand it for yourself. What happened to you is common to all men. The acid test for your soul is to look back at your former dreams and goals, your plans, your enthusiasms for things, and note how you stopped pursuing them. You gave them up. It’s like the man that hates his job; complains about his job; is stressed out by his job, yet does nothing to change the situation. Sure he prays and pleads and waits and cries, yet does nothing to change the situation. What would he have God to do in his story? God will move when he moves and not a second earlier. If you are no longer looking for the things that have the most appeal to you, how could you ever find them? If you have given up on even trying something, how could you ever succeed at it? If you already know everything, what else is there for you to learn? The problem isn’t God or the world or the circumstances, the problem is you. Fear (look no further) has tricked you into halting your forward progress and life won’t return for you until you decide to move again. Life requires your participation.

Friends, the doldrums, the boredoms, the lackluster and mundane would overtake us all. However, we are only so because we have ceased our forward progress. We stopped moving and will remain abject and defeated until we take charge and move again. Get back in the game. Remember what you love the most and begin to pursue it again. Take a step then another step and then another. Don’t allow the liar fear to color your world drab gray any longer. Move ahead and see the beauty and vibrance that life is and once again see the God that called you and loves you. Make some moves and see it for yourself. Participate in your own life!

Just some good thoughts…

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How to Get What You Want…


Have you ever taken the time to figure out what it is you want most out of your life? The question, so simple yet loaded, isn’t really as complicated as you might imagine. I often muse that it’s not that we don’t know what we want, but rather that we don’t want to admit what it is. We sort of go with the flow and head down the paths that seem easiest to navigate. In this, we don’t really choose, but instead grab at the first option, always consoling ourselves with the notion that we can figure it out later. Yet, many, many years later we find ourselves on the same old path, just further down the road a bit. It’s as if actively choosing a destination leaves us vulnerable to the possibility that it might not happen. So, instead of actively pursuing our dreams and all the risk associated with it potentially not coming to pass, we settle for something less. We work jobs we don’t enjoy in career paths that seemed the most logical in terms of being sensible, yet miles perhaps from the those things that make our hearts sing. Inside, deep inside you know what you want most and you can realize those things in your life if you will simply be honest about what turns you on and have courage enough to go and get it.

Most people, sadly, live their lives in accordance with other people’s dreams, never really giving themselves permission to go down paths unique to them. Instead they choose approved paths; accepted paths; well-worn paths where the masses travel. They’re afraid to make their own paths for fear of failure or disappointment and in so doing fall in line with societal expectations, safe choices, and generally rubber stamped options that help someone else realize their own dreams. They give their life and energy and effort to working in exchange for money; money that is always not quite enough to allow them to forgo the burden of having to continue doing the same. They do so because the lion’s share of the profit is reserved for those taking the lion’s share of the risk and in their aversion to the risk (fear), the cycle persists. In America and maybe other first world countries, it seems we have all bought into the idea that the vast majority of our life is to be spent in activities we do not enjoy for those rare intervals of respite and freedom to do what we want. And logically, in our leftover time, we don’t have the wherewithal to do anything else. Our best effort, our prime time has already been promised to another. We find ourselves caught in a trap that we cannot find a way from which to escape. We fault the wealthy for their wellspring of free time, yet wish we had the same. We dream of houses and vacations and fun and freedom, but never quite believe that we can have them. Instead we settle for our lot in life, which really isn’t our lot, but instead a well designed scheme to keep us in place, in line and unfulfilled.

We think it is money or the lack thereof that keeps us bound never entertaining the fact that we ourselves are our own limitation. The man;  the system; the wheel of things isn’t what keeps us from achieving or realizing our dreams, we are. Somewhere, somehow, we have been coerced into believing what it is we can and cannot have. We set limits where there are no limits. We dismiss our innermost treasures as fanciful and get right back to the business of slaving away for the things we do not hold dear. We act as if our lives were predisposed to move in one direction; with one set of options and an already established final outcome, as if God has destined us to do so. We are half talked out of any new endeavor before we have even taken the first few steps. When doors open for us, we are afraid to walk through them or waste away the opportunity researching the pitfalls of moving in the new direction. We don’t get what we want because we don’t believe we can get what we want. Even when we have good ideas or begin to touch upon those things whereby we can have the most impact and be the most fulfilled, we move so slowly and with such fearful caution that we seldom have enough time left to get the job done. It isn’t that we do not know how to get what we want, it’s that we don’t believe we can actually get what we want. Instead of doing, we spend time all day thinking and dreaming, wishing and hoping. Someday we can have it, but not today.

The only way you can get what you want in life is to believe that you can. As long as you don’t believe that you can, it is not going to happen for you. It’s not first about putting the time in, paying your dues, being patient or anything else anyone has told you that eliminates the necessity of believing for yourself. Belief, real belief always has corresponding actions associated with it. Belief is not waiting for the future, belief takes action now. Belief does not wait for all of the circumstances to line up, belief challenges and thereby changes the circumstances. Belief is not dependent upon the right degree or winning the lottery or any contrary thing that says you cannot have or cannot do for any reason, but believes and does anyway. Belief, positive expectant belief is the forerunner to all success in every category of life. You will go as far as your believing takes you and you will not go as far as your believing takes you. And, no-one decides what it is you can believe except you. No-one…

It is never too late to realize your dreams in life. It is never impossible to get the things you want; the things you hold most dear. Quit waiting and wondering about it. Stop stewing and brooding and being so damn fearful about things not working out. Those thoughts haven’t gotten you anywhere good yet anyway, have they? Life, this frightfully short life, isn’t about wandering around wishing and praying for those things that would make your life complete. The life you want to live is available for you to live once you finally stop standing around and decide to do something about. Do something now. Think about it. Pray about it. Set some positive expectations, make some plans and begin to pursue it. You aren’t getting any younger. Go and get it. You already know how. Believe, then for God’s sake, act!

Just some good thoughts…

Hey Hopes and Dreams, Where are You?


Whatever happened to your hopes and dreams? You remember, those things you thought about when you were younger? Those grand ideas you had about being famous or changing the world in meaningful ways, what happened to those plans? Maybe the words “hopes and dreams” are just too big for you. Perhaps it’s easier to think about the direction you wanted to go or where you saw yourself later, capable and successful. Why do those good things we carry in our hearts get stolen from us, or at minimum become greatly obscured? Can you even get your dreams back? Here’s to looking for and finding your lost hopes and dreams!

Maybe the best place to start is to consider what it even means to have hopes or dreams for yourself. Hope always refers to something you cannot have right now. Hope is looking out beyond the horizon of your present and expecting something pleasant in the future. Dreams always have an air of sleepiness in them. A dream is often hazy, nonspecific, cloudy. When we speak of a dreamer, we mean someone with their head in the sky, always reaching out for something good, but never finding it. Maybe we are starting out with the wrong words! Maybe our trouble in locating our hopes and dreams is centered in the vagueness of those terms.

More accurately, we are discussing the goals and plans you had for yourself at one time in your life. If you are anything like me, you have made lots and lots of plans about the future, and like me, carried very few through unto fruition. Why is that? What stops us from following through on our plans? We begin so excited and enthusiastic, but then our excitement fades and back we slink into the mundane. I think it’s deeper than simply being distracted. But, distraction does play a part. We get so caught up in things that don’t matter. We toil and strive, day after day, getting basic things done, leaving little room for the things we value most. We’re earning a living, fulfilling responsibilities, doing life and sadly, there’s little time left over. The world has tricked us into expending our efforts on things that matter, but not the things that cause the biggest impact; the things that matter most.

All of us, being incredibly unique, have something to offer the world. What we have, our gift, is always exhibited in the things we love the most. Those things we do that come easy for us, which when we pursue them, we have no rival. Pursuing a career that offers the most pay and promise, if it doesn’t align with our hearts, at best provides some money, but no satisfaction. We chase the American dream, but it’s not our dream. Our dreams offer not only a blessed future, but the opportunity to live out our full expression. We don’t chase money, we pursue our passion and then the money will follow. Every great person became great doing what they already loved, not what they decided to love to earn success.

Those things that resonate with you and cause a sparkle in your heart, are the things you must follow after. Your task isn’t to become famous or of world renown. Instead, your life work is to follow after the things that make you shine. Seek after the things that make you happy, for in those things your dreams are built! Your task isn’t difficult or vague. You’ve already touched on them and caught glimpses of them as you passed by. They’ve called out to you and in your heart you understood. Honor those feelings and inspect them further. It doesn’t matter if people think they matter. What matters is what they mean to you. Chase them! Track them down! See where they lead you! You become great first by being pretty good, then good, then very good, until finally you arrive at excellent. It’s in excellence your impact is felt. Don’t dog yourself in trying to figure out what is your thing, for your thing already exists in you. What makes your heart beat a little faster? What thing, when you do it, makes time stand still. What work isn’t work at all when you do it? That’s what you have to offer and offer it you must!

Your hopes, your dreams for the future aren’t lost as they live on still in your heart. Your age doesn’t matter. Your position in life doesn’t matter. Your past successes do not matter. What matters is if you will have the courage to pursue them. Deep down you already know what you love. Do what you love. Give what you love. Honor and exalt what you love. Don’t suppress what’s most important to you! Don’t hide it under a bushel. Start small and move from there. Don’t try to plan forever, just plan today. Move on what blesses you today. Start! Start! Start today!

In God’s infinite wisdom and love, He devised a way whereby men and women could help and give to others doing what they themselves loved doing the most! God, who knows you better than you know yourself, put those dreams in your heart because He knows your heart and in pursuing them, you will find joy unspeakable! Don’t make this harder on yourself or add human complication. Choose what you love and chase it, try it, work it, give it, do it! Do you boo! Indeed do you!

As long as you are still drawing breath it’s not too late for your dreams. Live your days in service to others doing the things which you and only you can do the best! Look to help other people and pick them up. Offer them warmth in a cold world. Give them shelter when they are exposed. Give them happiness when they are sad and healing when they are broken. Give them all you have to give, your best things, your gift… And give it to them now…

Just some good thoughts…

Genuine Self-Help…


Sri-Lanka-OrchidThe term “self-help” has fallen out of favor in recent years. I guess the notion that you were reading a book because you needed some assistance, made you into a weak person, ever in need of help. So, they changed the name to “self-development” which is actually the exact same thing, but whatever works to sell books, I suppose. And boy, do they ever sell books! So, I mused… Why would a person read a self-help book? I think, if you are honest, you are reading it because you perceive that something needs to change in your life. Or, you might feel that something is wrong with you and that you are in need of repair. In either case, I’m not sure why that would be considered shameful, as all of us need fixing up at times! But, here’s the crucial question. Does self-help really help? Do the avid self-help readers really change for the better? And, if the people who invest their hearts into the literature don’t change, why is that?

I recall a time in my life when I was an avid reader of self-help literature. I mean, I read everything there was to read. As soon as I finished one, I went and got another. Looking back, it was a time in my life when things had sort of gone south on me. Through wrong teachings, harsh associations and mega doses of fear, I had morphed into someone who I hated. I just couldn’t stand myself. How in the hell did fun-loving, carefree Tony turn into “that guy?” I had become hard and callous and critical and worst of all, religious! I needed help and sought comfort from the self-help literature. And wow, did it ever comfort me! But, after quite some time, I noticed a pattern. While I was reading the literature I felt awesome, but it quickly faded and necessitated purchasing a new book. And you wonder why the self-help business is booming?! In most cases there was nothing wrong with the information. The books were loaded with principles and valid suggestions, but knowledge alone doesn’t get the job done! In order to transform your life, you need wisdom otherwise known as “knowledge applied!”

My wife and I have a dear friend named La Detra, whom we greatly admire. She is very successful and lives a dream life. When she has an idea, she pursues it to the full. Yes she is very intelligent and yes she went to Harvard. She is a critical thinker in the highest sense of the word. She is always in pursuit of the knowledge. But, what separates her from the pack is her determination to “do!” When she wants to make something happen, she analyzes the necessary conditions and then takes action to make it a reality. The reason so many equally intelligent people don’t realize their goals is their failure to actually launch! They think and study and read and think and study and never actually apply! Nothing happens, nothing changes, nothing ever gets better until you turn your knowledge into action. Self-development literature is loaded with time-tested principles that will always work in your life. But somewhere along the line you have to change from an avid reader to an avid “do-er!”

Our life dreams, our goals, our heartfelt desires are only realized when we decide to turn our thought into action. I know, I know, it seems so intimidating, so impossible, so huge! But, I submit that it’s only so arduous because it has not yet left your imagination! Have you ever woke up in the morning afraid of something, only to discover it loses its grip on you once you finally decide to get up? Action cures fear and inaction strengthens fear! As long as you remain in research mode you may feel better but you won’t experience real change! Genuine change comes about only when you begin to act. The path to your desired outcome only reveals itself when you finally get out of your mind and on the path! Take a step. Make a move. Begin!!!

No-one experiences success in life overnight. No flower starts off by blooming. Instead it is first planted, then struggles through the soil, continues growing until it is at last a beautiful orchid. So you too, my friend, must first plant that glorious picture of the “new you” in your mind, endure the struggle of change, and continue growing until you become, at last, what you always knew you could become! And incredibly, once you embark on your journey, you’ll discover that all of life is voting in favor of you. Your answers will reveal themselves like glittering gold in the murky riverbed. What once abruptly halted your progress will fade away like the morning mist. You will rise and fight and overcome and nothing shall, by any means, stop you. That is, if you can persuade that old obstinate mind of yours to take an actual step!

As you are thinking this through today, ask yourself this question… What idea, what dream, what goal have you actually applied yourself to with full effort and still failed? You know and I know, those things you call failure are actually “you not taking action” or “you stopped taking action!” As long as you are still alive, you still have a shot at achieving your dreams no matter how many times the fat lady has already sung!

What change do you so desperately need in your own life? What do you need to do to stop hating that guy or gal in the mirror? Take some time to get a clear picture in your mind of your “new” self, find the knowledge that appeals most to your heart and then take the action the knowledge suggested! You will be greatly challenged in the beginning because someone or something wants you to remain defeated. But, there’s an infinitely bigger Someone or Something that wants you to succeed! The life you’ve always wanted is there for you, my friends, but you have to get out of bed, dress up and show up!

Just some good thoughts…

PS If you need a great book (that you promise to apply), I highly recommend:

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Everything You Ever Wanted…


decision-analysisWhat if you found yourself sitting in your living room with God and He told you that you could have anything you ever wanted in your life. And then He casually offered, “What would you like?” Could you answer that question? What if the only restriction was that you could only choose one thing? Could you choose one, most important thing? Or would you quickly default to lots of money, the big house, fame and fortune?

It’s sort of mind-boggling to think that us humans with all of our complicated hopes and dreams find ourselves unable to answer such a simple question. And, not being able to answer that question may explain why you are living the way you are. If you deeply contemplate your own life and if you are honest, you already know the things that are most important to you. You know what you want, but thus far haven’t been able to see a way to bring it to pass. Why?

There’s a world-wide delusion going around about God. The delusion is that God chooses the good things in your life. And similar to that is the erroneous logic that God has already decided ahead of time what exactly you can and cannot have. It’s simply not true. The reality is that God already knows what good things you want as a “free-to-choose” human being and desperately wants to give it all to you. Second, God has not set a limitation on your life. You have (I have) by your failure to clearly answer that question and take the necessary action to make it a reality.

People spend an entire lifetime waiting for a sign or for their ship to finally come in, never realizing that their ship is their own thoughts and beliefs and that signs follow people who believe and not the other way around. There is no waiting required. If anything you’re waiting because you have not yet decided! Deep down you know, but hey that cannot be. How will it happen? Where do I start? You perhaps haven’t even considered that the how and the where aren’t the starting point. The starting point is your decision. Once you finally choose, you will have answered the question, “What would you like?” Once you answer, it then becomes the responsibility of the One who asked you the question, to supply what you need!

When I think about my own life, it’s rarely a question of what it is that I want. Instead it’s an insidious belief that everything must be perfect before “it” can happen. And, waiting for the perfect timing or perfect idea is just another form of waiting in disguise. The reality or perhaps my hypothesis is that you should decide, then start and then modify and adjust and adjust. Starting is everything as the saying goes. Waiting is nothing as you already know!

Any belief that you have, true and untrue, is a byproduct of a decision you have already made. If you believe that God does not love you or worse, even know you, it is a decision you have made based on some faulty thinking or negative circumstances you have already encountered. Yet it’s not true. But for you it is true because of your decision and that leads to more erroneous beliefs such as God not being in favor of you getting everything you ever wanted. Conversely, if you believe that God wants you to have everything you ever wanted, you will have no trouble making the decision that you can have those things and will wholeheartedly pursue them. People call that fanciful thinking, yet have no trouble deciding they aren’t worth the things they want. But can’t you see it? Both ways of thinking are choices and decisions, but only one side is actually supported by God’s Word! So you decide huh?

How sad it must be to end this journey one day with regrets about who you are and what you could have been. How heart wrenching must it be to die with your dreams still trapped within your heart. Why not decide right now, while you are still drawing breath to once and for all do “it”, by God (literally), with no looking back; no hesitating or doubting, balls to the wall until it finally comes to pass. Why not?

There’s no time limit on reaching your hopes and dreams, as long as you reach them. The real fun in life is always found in the journey, so just make sure you are traveling wisely. Even a small amount of faithful, dedicated time will one day add up to your grand finale. Just stop sitting there waiting for some mythical day when it all magically comes to pass. That great day only comes for those courageous souls who dared to act regardless of the naysayers or circumstances.

You CAN have everything you ever wanted in life if you will just muster up the courage to decide!

Just some good thoughts…