What I Learned Playing Golf…


I had the privilege this past weekend to host our annual golf challenge for the Utah brothers and sisters. The challenge was renamed the Steven B. Kelly Memorial Challenge to forever memorialize by brother in law, Big Steve, who is gone from us way too soon. Having finally gotten serious about learning the game, I had been taking some lessons and felt like I might actually escape the beginner phase and play some legitimate golf. Boy was I wrong! I was arguably almost the worst player out there. One brother suggested that I might want to get my money back from the golf pro! (smile) But, I learned something on that fateful day and it’s worth writing about here…

Golf is only as hard as you tell yourself it will be. You cannot take lessons and commit yourself to a game and at the same time verbalize repeatedly how much you suck; how unlikely it is that you will make the shot; how challenging the damn game is and on and on and on. What you think is what you say and what you say is exactly how it is going to play out. No sport, upon your early encounters, is easy and to assign yourself failure before you fail is to work against your own best interests. Golf, like any sport, has fundamentals you have to master. Once you have mastered the fundamentals, which never happens overnight, you will gain confidence in your abilities to do it right. But, dogging yourself for not having mastered them yet is foolish and serves only to ensure you will continue to lose. The reason you do so much better at the driving range is because you have not assigned the same importance to every shot and instead relax and swing the damn club! Life is very similar in that you are only going to learn when you decide to just swing the damn club!

The things you tell yourself have a huge impact on how things are going to play out. When you are learning something new, things will be difficult and feel uncomfortable. You are going to flub up and foul up and f*** up! That is how life works. You may have spent your whole life thinking something is true or reliable, that isn’t true at all. It’s not knowing how everything works that matters, but rather your ability to adjust, change and learn something new. The real measure of your success is not how well you do in the things you have mastered, but how willing you are to learn something new and master that as well. The best things in life aren’t the things you may have thought they were. There are principles and mindsets and behaviors that accompany the best life and those things are not at all what the world says they are. The world’s offerings are shiny toys that glisten and shine and promise, but fail to deliver. They are sparkling bundles of nothingness that leave you hungry, empty, unsatisfied. You have to persevere with right principles (the right swing) until you have mastered them, leading to unending joy and happiness.

In addition to the affliction you put upon yourself is the affliction you allow from others due to your over reliance on their opinions of you. Once you become concerned about what others may think about you, you quickly lose sight of what you think about yourself. You become a performer in someone else’s contest. The moment you look for your competitors, you lose the race. You don’t play for the crowd, you play for yourself. You are competing both for and against yourself. Once you have entertained the mistake, the mistake is about to occur. Your job, your responsibility, your necessity is to not play against yourself. You have to prove to you that you can do! Your challenge is not with others, it is with yourself. Your job is to win yourself. If others ridicule you or take shots at you or doubt you, you don’t endeavor to prove them wrong, you prove yourself right! You own your own failures and mistakes fully and completely. You allow yourself to not know yet while committing yourself to know eventually. It’s not where you are now, but where you end up. You seek for the mastery of yourself and whether the crowd approves or disapproves matters little. You have to answer to yourself!

You will find, if you are paying attention, that you are not fighting the world, you are fighting what it is you are thinking about yourself. The world cannot make you into anything without your consent. It’s the man staring back at you in the mirror whose opinion counts most. Do not allow circumstances or situations to define who you are what it is you are capable of in life. It’s not the crowds or your best friend or your husband or wife who decides who and what you are, it is you! Fight for you. Believe in you. Stand for you! You can do or be anything you want no matter what has gone on in the past. The only limitation is you…

Life, like golf, can be a very challenging game. You are going to hit some balls into the water. You are going to whiff on some of your drives and the ball will only travel about fifteen feet. You are going to sail some ten foot chip shots into the abyss. You are going to three putt and four putt and have a scorecard worthy of the garbage can. But, the real essence of life isn’t found in your failures, but rather in what it is you learn from your failures and where you go from there. Golf is only as hard as you think it is and you owe it to yourself to recognize your progress and determine in yourself to finally figure it out! Don’t be seduced into working against your own best interests. The enemy you are fighting against is you! Win the fight.

See you on the links…

Just some good thoughts…

Are You Getting Fat?


5094d6cced1e1fc4a99337a616fcbff0Remember when you were 18 and ate everything that passed your way and never gained an ounce? Yeah, me too, but those days are long gone. Like you maybe, I recognize that the struggle is real. So I started thinking, besides the cruelty of a snail’s pace metabolism, what else is different? In complete honesty I have to admit, I’m doing some things that contribute to the problem. I sit at a desk all day long (almost). I have the resources to eat whatever I choose to eat and it’s been said that I occasionally overindulge in the wine (smile). When it comes to eating and drinking and other enjoyable activities, my natural tendency is to let loose as I suspect many of you do as well. It’s so easy to just let go and seems so hard to control yourself. But control is where the good stuff lives and this blog has nothing to do with your physical body!

Your mind is equally capable of getting fat. And much like your body, the fat doesn’t show up from too many nutrients, but rather from too much junk. It comes from complacency and inactivity. It shows up in the form of uncontrolled thoughts and unchallenged ideas. It comes from letting go and just accepting whatever comes along. This may surprise you but your mind can get lazy. It was never designed to be that way. It was intended to be alive and vital, dynamic and energetic. It was pre-loaded to have a sincere love of learning; learning that never stops throughout a lifetime.

The popular notion of living an intentional life is the antidote to a chubby mind. Intentional means on purpose. An on purpose life is a life lived by decision rather than reaction. The world is entirely circumstance controlled. People decide they’re having a good day by a few positive events and a bad day is born from a couple of negative ones. A problem at work morphs into a potential lost job and a snow prediction for the morning commute spells disaster. Sunny days equal happiness and gloomy Mondays are the worst thing ever. A pain in your side signals cancer even though you forgot you moved furniture yesterday. This is no great surprise because we have been trained to think that way. Negativity is all around us. The news is negative. Facebook is negative. The people you interact with are negative. And sadly, negativity is considered the norm. If you are positive you are called naive. You just don’t get it. But, I submit that no matter how much negativity you experience, it’s not the way of truth. It’s a grand deception on a monumental scale. It gets to you when you give in to it, like a bacon double cheeseburger at midnight. Intentional living chooses to “just say no” to negativity.

How many people do you know who have lost that spark in their eye? How long has it been since you felt alive and that life was worth living? I’m not talking about choosing life over death, I’m talking about overflowing and abundant life. Yet, we acquiesce and think that’s just how life is… We traded in our value for something cheap. We’ve been riding the bike with the crooked handle bars for so long that we think they’re straight. We fail to see that we adjusted to the wrong instead of fighting for the right. Even more spurious is the lack of thought employed in our choices, most evident during an election season. The media propaganda makes our choices and social media directs our minds. We believe the last thing we read and accept as true whatever someone shouts the loudest. You know why? Because our minds have fallen into decay from fast food logic and pre-processed understanding. We don’t think anymore because we got fat!

So, how can you shed the pounds from your organ of mental perception? The simple answer is to learn again to think. The more arduous answer is to practice living in the moment and controlling yourself. Recognize what is going on in your head. What emotions are you experiencing? Which emotions do you no longer acknowledge? Have you worked around that broken door handle for so long that you fail to see it is broken? What aint right? Where have you settled for less than you deserve? Which illness or sickness are you living with because a doctor said you have to when God has no limitation on what He can heal? What words have you stopped voicing in your relationship that you used to speak without hesitation? What? This is your one life, my friends, and you owe yourself the custom package!

Sometimes you fail to see what you need to see because you are living in the darkness. Turn on the light. Find out what God (who actually invented life) says. Unearth that dust-covered Bible and discover something you can depend on. If you don’t know what to read, ask God for some help. That person will show up faster than a Jimmy John’s sandwich! Get your mind back. Get your vitality back. Get your life back!

Being fat only lasts as long as you let it last. And again, I aint talking about your body. Embrace your chubbiness and love yourself, but most of all take care of your heart, for from it proceeds all the issues of your life! (hcG for the soul!)

Just some good thoughts…

 

 

Why Aren’t Your Tomatoes Growing?


tomato-tips-380-1In the Spring I planted a garden. Last year’s garden sucked, so this year I took the time to make up the chemistry of the soil in detailed proportions. After proudly planting my tomatoes and telling them I loved them and so forth, I turned them over to God. (Well, sort of…) I planted them in full sunshine and faithfully watered them every day. After about 6 weeks of growing time, I noticed that my tomatoes were decidedly puny. Their leaves were yellowing like they needed more water, so I added more water. This went on for several more weeks with less and less results. So I did what everyone does that is at a loss for answers, I Googled that sh*t! (smile) Mr. Google gladly informed me that the most common reason for stunted growth in tomatoes is “too much” water. Imagine, water makes them grow, but you can get too much of it. Yet, this blog isn’t about moderation, it’s about roots; deep roots.

Apparently that guy on TV that talks about watering your lawn less, was right. The more you water something, the less the roots have to dig down. The more shallow the roots, the weaker the plant. The deeper the roots, the more robust the plant. So, I got to thinking, humans grow also, but only if they have well-developed roots. So the question that begs becomes, how deep are your roots in the things that are most important to you? Do you take the time to understand why things happen or do you simply grab for more of the things you think will make you happy?

This precious life we live is all about understanding. Not understanding how things really work is the cause of all of your difficulties. When you are challenged with some circumstance of life, do you quickly grab the next clichéd bottle of water or do you look for the well where the water never runs out? The truth is ever the truth and it shows itself in a million combinations. Error only offers a quick fix that doesn’t really fix at all, but serves simply to salve the wound in the moment. Men’s theories, men’s ideas, men’s philosophies always fall short because man is woefully unaware of all of the variables. Most of the time, the effect wasn’t produced by the cause you had in mind, but another cause of which you remain ignorant. Understanding is therefore, getting to the true cause.

In every field of life we devote ourselves faithfully to understand, especially in those things we deem most important. Except for one. We have failed to understand life and the One behind it. And, it’s no wonder because there are more false ideas about God than about anything else! (By design I might add…) It’s like my son said to me today, “If something feels bad and unpleasant, it probably is…” Things that are contradictory and inconsistent beg for further inspection. If someone teaches you that God is love, yet also tells you He sometimes, randomly kills the people you love, I would think that deserved some further inspection. But no, what do you do? You try to accept it by faith or explain it away as a mystery or something. Turn the sprinklers on, you just need more water.

Life is not random, my friends. Every effect does have a cause and although you don’t yet understand it, doesn’t mean you can’t understand it if you really want to know! Just think about your life for a moment. Think about the earth and all of the things in it; the perfection, the symmetry, the beauty. Why does that forest or that beach cause you to feel tranquil? Why doesn’t the skyscraper do that for you? Why do you have nerve endings in your fingers and not in your hair? How can you see images in your mind? Well, it’s actually a chemical reaction! Okay, but a damn complicated one, don’t you think?

The reality behind this life is spirit. You can’t detect it by your five senses, but you can get to it by your heart. Every one of us have something in us that beckons us to understand; to find and love its Creator, until the old world talks us out of it. Every one of us recognize the truth, even if we can’t always explain it. It’s in the lyrics of a song, the words in a poem, a line in a movie and on it goes. But, when you’ve heard it, you know it even if you cannot express it in words. Truth is unchanging but it’s not always on the surface. You have to dig for it. You have to want it and expend the effort to get it. You have to sink your roots down in something substantial if you really want to grow. But, like a tomato, you can’t make yourself grow. You simply get the conditions right, sink your roots down deep and the One who causes the tomato to grow will cause you to grow as well.

People spend their whole lives giving themselves to everything and everyone and never get to the true cause. We get so busy, so preoccupied, so caught up in our present dilemmas, that we forget to seek out the cause. We get scurried away with false causes and things we cannot possibly effect. We wrestle with intangible concepts like making sure the earth has the resources we need to keep living, never imagining that the One who created the earth may have thought that through!

Instead of wasting away your life; your one precious life with endless and pointless activity, take some time and serious effort to understand. Ask God to teach you! Ask God to make it plain. Ask God to get someone on your path that can help it make sense for you. He invented eyelashes for goodness sakes, don’t you think He might have something for you? Oh He does and He wants you to get it, even more than you want to know it! And, He’s been looking for you for years!

Well, I did something crazy. I stopped watering those tomatoes and made ’em dig. I still loved them but they had to do their own work. They did their job and now we got ‘maters for days! Do you need tomatoes? I got more than I can handle…

Just some good thoughts…

The Elusive Moments of Clarity…


ClarityRecently my sister in-law suffered through the untimely death of her brother. He had an aggressive form of cancer and despite having lived longer than projected, he ultimately died. The whole experience, besides the unfathomable grief, produced in her moments of clarity she hadn’t really expected. It seems in situations when our own mortality is forced into our awareness, the most important things in life rush to the forefront of our minds. So, that got me thinking… Is the clarity we all desire, contingent upon dire circumstances? Do we have to face life threatening situations firsthand in order to finally see what is most important?

Clarity can be defined as those seemingly rare times in life when we finally “get it” or are able to see the things that formerly eluded us. Clarity seems to follow focus and nothing demands more focus than facing the possibility of actually dying or the death of someone you love. And amazingly, in the face of death we contemplate life. Suddenly the important things take on a huge significance. No one speaks of their beautiful home or their possessions, but instead consider the people in their lives and those significant relationships that mean the most. Near death experiences and the perils of war awaken the survivors to a world they previously took for granted.

This life; this precious life is alarmingly short. And despite the brevity of life, we all march on entranced in our routines virtually asleep to what matters most. We stop looking; really looking at our spouses and our children. We desensitize to our surroundings. The good we enjoy we grow accustomed to and even make time for complaint. We dream and yearn for the day when we finally have “such and such” and when we arrive, we pause then quickly begin our ascent to the next plateau.

It shouldn’t take the threat of losing it all to alert our souls to the perfection we have already. We move too fast. We think too fast. We expect results too fast. We want more and more and need less. We look for happiness in transient things while ignoring what endures. People endure. Relationships endure. Love endures. In those rare moments when I imagine my last days, my children gathered around me, I think what I might say to them. And for the life of me, all I want to communicate to them is how much I love them; how proud I am of them and who they have become and that i did my best to be my best for them.

Clarity isn’t elusive. Clarity is all around you. Clarity is found in the eyes of your child, the smile from your mother, the understanding glance from your best friend. Clarity is found in your relationships with other people and most profoundly with our God that made us. Clarity comes when we finally step out of the rat race of endless distraction and focus on the things that matter most. It is not reserved only for times of pending tragedy and the threat of death, but more for times of reflection at a speed that allows for it. The clarity we ardently seek is seeking us.

If we are honest, our perpetual striving for things that matter less, is based on fear; the fear of what we think we are supposed to be. We’ve bought into the story that says we must have the money, the stuff, the acclaim and lost track of the reason we do it all. We forgot that the excitement of the new car is lost if we don’t have someone to share it with. No one enjoys the vacation in the exotic place, alone. It’s people and our connection to them that makes this life worthwhile.

The maximized, glorious life is a life that makes time for what is most important. To say there isn’t enough time is to admit a loss of control. The rush, the busy-ness, the constraint isn’t from the demands of life but rather from the fictitious demand of what is not. It’s a distraction of unparalleled proportions. It’s a bait and switch game that purports activity equals productivity and urges getting things done over taking care of people; our people. It emphasizes appearance over people’s hearts and facades above humanity. It’s not clear it’s fuzzy and the finish line is out of view.

Clarity is there for us every single day. Clarity doesn’t elude us, we elude it. We miss it a lifetime from being swept away on a current; a rushing river of activities that steal our time; our focus, our life. Clarity comes from focus; focus on what is most sweet and enduring. Our life comes into focus in direct proportion to our willingness to adjust the lens. We adjust the lens on a subject we choose and not on a subject chosen for us.

Thank God for those moments when life suddenly comes into focus and the false; the illusory fades away. Thank God for the glimpses of light that clear the path ahead and captivate our attention in order to make the necessary change. Thank God for the privilege to see and at last understand. Thank God!

Just some good thoughts…

Living Your Reflection…


reflection_28Here’s some food for thought… The life you are presently living is a direct reflection of your most dominant and habitual thinking. Read that again! Up to this point you may not have made this connection. Most folks don’t. Instead people think that life is happening to them and they are simply reacting to whatever life does next. People that live in a perpetual struggle falsely conclude that circumstances are working against them and probably even long for the time when the struggle will end. But, they remain unaware that their habitual thought forms the basis of their expectations and as such they are living in a world of their own making.

Habits are, in themselves, useful. On the positive side they free your mind of the unnecessary thought required to complete mundane tasks. However, habits also have a dark side. Negative patterns of thought, rehearsed over and over again lead to negative expectations, which manifest themselves in negative circumstances. And, to make matters worse, the habits become invisible to you because of their habituation. And, once darkness has become invisible to you, it is allowed to perpetuate within you to bring about those struggles you’ve been trying so hard to avoid.

I’m sure you’ve heard people complain to God about why life is so hard and why there is so much struggling going on. And, let’s be honest, there is some heavy-duty struggling happening. But, what you may not know is that God has given you control over those struggles once you know how to go about turning things around. God hasn’t left us without a remedy and surely doesn’t condone pain and hardship. But, until you finally learn that your life is “your” life and that you can exercise control, things will go on as they’ve always gone on since the beginning of time.

Just so you don’t think this is “crazy” talk, let me ask you some questions. At this very moment in time, what do think about life? Do think it is a struggle? Do you think it is hard and random and filled with the unexpected? Do you think that is always hard for you to get money and that it always will be? Do you think that disease just happens and that you are powerless against it? Your honest answer to those questions is the life you are presently living. Your expectation; your belief is precisely what you are experiencing and will continue to experience as long as you keep thinking the way you are thinking. Life won’t turn around for you and your ship won’t come in. It cannot because it is a direct reflection of your inmost thoughts. Change your thoughts; change your expectations; change your beliefs and your life will change.

In order to right the ship, you have to become keenly aware of what was formerly invisible; namely your thoughts. You have to start recognizing your negative thought habit patterns. You have to see where you have become your own worst enemy. You must clearly discern that negative chatter, ever providing reasons why you cannot succeed; why you cannot get ahead; why you cannot win. And once you finally hear it, you have to start forcefully challenging those false assumptions. Those assumptions are not “just life” but instead are lies you have been worn down into accepting. There’s no shame in being led astray because the whole world has been led astray, on purpose, by the evil that lies deep behind it, hidden. The real shame comes when you see a glimpse of the light and refuse to heed the lesson.

Have you ever noticed how people set goals for themselves? They set goals with tiny incremental increases as if one can only progress with baby steps. They don’t realize that the larger the goal; the larger the expectations, the larger the result. It is like that with your thoughts. Once you have begun to see and challenge a series of thoughts, your responsibility is to change your thoughts and expectations to something you actually want. It takes the exact same amount of effort to think something good as it takes to think something bad. But make no mistake, you are choosing by what you “choose” to think and hold onto.

I should add, because I know what you’re thinking, that sometimes you “find” yourselves in a challenging situation that you didn’t necessarily bring upon yourself. Sometimes people are under attack; in bad environments and feel that they are being tested. Well, they are being tested but never by God. The test is in how you respond to the challenge. Will you accept what it “seems” like or will you remain stedfast in your beliefs and overcome? You would be surprised how quickly things turn around when you make your mind up! But, if you succumb to what “appears” to be real, you end up down the same blind alleys you traveled before.

As living, breathing, thinking human beings, we always have a say in how things are going to turn out. Always! The key lies in refusing to accept the information that comes to your mind via your five senses, and trusting instead what God says is true! Obviously you can ridicule this notion and demand that what it seems like, is true, but with that you can resign yourself to your usual, perpetual struggle.

Your life, my life is a reflection of those things we think about the most. Change your thoughts and your life will change. It isn’t about being naively positive, it’s about choosing what you will and will not accept in your life. You have more control than you ever thought. God would have it no other way! Really!

Just some good reflections…

 

The Absence of Complexity…


10565034_10152182433042175_6989850727931467430_nThe trouble with man’s relationship with God and his unattained happiness is the complexity of his belief system. There’s the do-good crowd that believes they can earn God’s favor by a series of righteous acts. Then, there’s the religious crowd that seeks to wear God out with rituals. There’s the “hodgepodgers” who try to work things out with an eclectic blend of a variety of beliefs. There’s an increasing number of “we’ve got our own book” groups. There’s the pity seekers who feel that if they suffer enough maybe God will throw them a bone and the ‘do what you want’ fellas because the Universe always answers… There’s the energy seekers, the sun worshippers, the nature worshippers, the prosperity worshippers, the Christian Scientists and the witches.  Mash that all together with the world’s countless theories for success and pretty soon you figure it’s too damn exhausting to find happiness, let alone find God. But…what if it’s not that complex? What if it’s so simple we’ve been missing it for a lifetime? What if it’s all right there waiting for us, if only we could see it? What if, huh?

The irony is that the older we get, the more confused we become. We’ve gotten so smart, you know? We’ve been reading the instructions for so long we have forgotten how to live. Have you ever taken the time to observe how a child lives? Children in all their simplicity know how to live life, that is until the world talks them out of it. Their little minds and hearts are wide open to learning. They are information absorbing machines. They live 100% in the moment. For them there is no future and no past. They forget their mistakes within seconds of making them. Each moment is a new moment and each moment offers the promise of delight. They expect their every need to be met and become quite indignant when their needs aren’t met. They have complete trust that they will be taken care of at all times. Complete trust! In their purity they remind us how to live. Have you ever thought back to how simple life was when you were a child? So what happened to you and to me? We got too dang smart, that’s what. Instead of growing up and transferring that simple mindset to our adult lives with God, we chose instead to figure out a system. We already know the stupid system isn’t working but we’re adults by God and we can figure it out. And in our desperation, we started listening to every idea under the sun. Somebody done got us fooled folks; somebody!

Life with God is incredibly simple. If we believe, we receive. But, that a mighty big “if!” The reason we don’t believe is because we’ve added a multitude of complicated layers to our relationship with God. It can’t be that simple, we exclaim. When someone comes along and tells us it’s that simple, we don’t believe them. If we are honest we hardly believe anything anymore. We’re entangled in a giant spaghetti bowl of theories and uninformed beliefs. “Someone said once…” and “I heard you have to…” and “What I’ve always done is…” All of it guesswork, all of it complicated, all of it pointless. In order to get closer to that life we have always imagined, we have to get back to the heart of a child.

I remember when I got my first Mac computer. I stumbled around for weeks trying to figure out how to do things. Then someone finally clued me in. They said, think simple; what’s the simple way it “should” work? Then lo and behold, they were right. I was so schooled in the Microsoft world that I had a hard time learning the easy way. Life with God is like that. We have been so schooled in religious beliefs and illogical ideas that we can’t see the forest for the trees. As a great man once said, “We’ve got too much complicated theology and not enough simple believing. We make God too hard!”

If we are ever going to see the true, breathtaking beauty of God and His magnificent provision for us, we’ve got to get back to simplicity. We’ve got to be willing to see things from another viewpoint. We have to view the world with fresh eyes; eyes that don’t already see, but are willing to see. Maybe what you have been looking for, for the past five years has been sitting there right by you, all along. Maybe the big break you have been waiting on for the last twenty years, is waiting for you to finally decide it’s going to happen, so it can actually happen. Maybe you are only one thought away from everything you ever wanted. Maybe. (You are already arguing with me, aren’t you?) Stop analyzing probabilities. Stop trying to figure out how it’s all going to work and just believe, like a child would do. Stop evaluating your behaviors. Stop beating yourself with guilt and condemnation. Stop rationalizing and applying your grown person logic and get back to what is simple. Expect it; believe it; see it.

God loves you and I more than we could ever imagine. God is the greatest provider that ever was and ever will be. God wants you to get your needs met infinitely more than you want it for yourself. He wants to teach you. He wants to show you. He wants you to know! He’s not hiding anything from you, ever. If something is hidden, it’s hidden because of the complexity you have bought into as an adult.

Throw that world of complexity to the side and get back to that guy or gal you once were…You knew all of this stuff at one time, really!

Imagine the exciting adventure that awaits you, when once again you become willing to see. Imagine…

Just some clear, simple thoughts…

The Tyranny of the Self-Made Life…


Self-Made-Man1There I was writing down my goals again and realizing that I have been writing the same crap for years! Same goals, same never-ending list of steps required to reach my goals. I’m going to stop doing this and start doing that, and ease up on this and cut back on that…Requirements, discipline, blah, blah, blah. Of course there is nothing wrong with writing down your goals and even better writing down steps to achieve those goals, but man, what a drag! What a freaking hard way to live. Never satisfied, never enjoying the moments called now. Perpetual work (mental work) towards some future day when… Add to that the mental consternation that goes with figuring out all of the complexities of life with your own little brain and you have a formula for misery. Can you even fathom how many variables life contains and the insanity of trying to control those variables? How many things need to line up with a multitude of other things for you to get what you want most out of life? And further, do you really, honestly think that your little plan, devised by your little mind could, by will power and determination, get a handle on all of the factors that must come together for you to be successful? Really?

I thought these thoughts and asked myself the same questions and, in all honesty, had to admit that my complicated plans with all of their required tasks, while offering the promise of securing “that life” were in reality complex wish lists that did little more than satisfy my intellect that I had devised “the plan” to get where I wanted to go. The tasks, unpleasant. The disciplines, undesirable. The probability of me carrying them out, zero. So, how do people reach their goals? How do some folks attain the unattainable? The so-called fortunate ones who seem to be living the life, what did they do so differently?

I think it’s safe to say they worked hard. That goes without saying. It’s obvious they were clear about what they desired. But, I’m willing to wager a lot of money that on the way to arriving, they were enjoying the journey. No-one does anything well that they don’t enjoy doing. Yes it’s work, but work you love isn’t really work (and if you have managed to touch on that you know what I mean). But work for work’s sake is drudgery and even more so when it doesn’t get you where you want to go. Oh try as you may, discipline your discipline, but in the end you’ll see (hopefully) that the path “you” chose for the fulfillment of your dreams isn’t the path to get to your dreams.

In the most simple terms, the first step to attaining your dream life is believe you can attain your dream life. I will say that again! The first step to attaining your dream life is to believe that you can. Until you get that step down, you are destined to work harder and get less. Your efforts, your energy to do, must be backed by the passion to do and without the first step, you can never get to the second step. Decision always, always, always precedes desire (passion). That solid, sold out, convicted decision produces the energy to do in exact proportion to the decision. A “hope so” decision; a wishy-washy decision; a maybe-maybe not decision can only produce a meager, so-so, half-hearted passion that neither has the energy or the will to accomplish anything. For real!

Doing first things first by whole-hearted decision gets God involved in your life. God, who happens to be aware of every variable, can work with decision. And, by His very nature, cannot work with indecision. Your lack of decision almost guarantees a lack of result and I don’t care how hard you work or how hard you try! It’s not your sincerity that gets the job done. Many sincere people have taken their dream to their grave. It’s your belief that gets the job done and without your cooperation, God Himself can do nothing! Conversely, making the strong decision to accomplish something leads to the strong passion (energy) required to do something which leads to the necessary details and finally to the required result!

How much time have you spent pursuing hopes and wishes? How much effort have you wasted on idle dreams that you don’t believe will really happen nor truly expect to obtain? My advice? Be like me. Recognize that you are tired of your lists and your requirements and your plans. Accept that what you are doing isn’t working and thinking that something magical will happen later is only a fantasy. Instead, take the time to decide exactly, precisely, clearly and emphatically what it is you want to accomplish; what legacy you wish to give to the world. And once you finally get that clear, act with the passion that accompanies your decision. It will be there. It must! And, along the way, give your poor, tired mind a break and cease trying to figure it all out. How you get there matters none, but rather “that” you get there. Let God do His job by “you” making a decision and then just enjoy the day that is today! Enjoy this day and give it all you’ve got. I mean really, if you truly believe that God is getting you where you want to go, you don’t have to spend another moment agonizing on how it is going to happen! You just live and move and expect and see…

Trying to figure out how to live a “self-made” life is a tyranny that will wear you out! You aren’t big enough for that fight. Trust me. But you certainly are big enough to make a decision and let God figure it out. Then, life becomes what it supposed to be – a joyful journey of discovery that ends in victory!

Just some good, clear, free thoughts…

The Happiness Myth…


Summer-happiness-photoHappiness is admittedly something we all desperately want in our lives, right?! There’s the “Happiness Advantage,” “The Happiness Hypothesis,” “The Happiness Project” and countless other books on the topic. Happiness is perhaps one of the most contemplated subjects in the world today. And although there are many wonderful books that offer the elusive promise of enduring happiness, there’s one thing I know for sure. Happiness is a dish best served…

I don’t know if this has ever happened to you, but I found myself going through a “bit of a rough patch” as my British ancestors are wont to say. As a self-proclaimed promoter of happiness, I felt embarrassed to find myself a teacher who no longer believed in his own message. So, I analyzed my life piece by piece looking for an answer. I tried blaming others and their apparent lack of support for me. I made the usual excuses, “I’m so busy.” “I need to get organized.” “I need to finish unfinished business” etc. etc. etc. Maybe I needed to start saying ‘no’ to other people’s requests. And, the more I searched for the cause the more lost I became. I thought I needed to be more selfish and devote more time to myself and what I wanted. Maybe it was not enough sleep or a bad diet or maybe it was my thinking and not paying attention to what I was thinking about. I knew better than to blame God, so I thought maybe I wasn’t devoting enough time to God or praying enough or studying. I searched myself from here to breakfast and the more I searched the more unhappy I became. I became critical of myself and judged myself harshly, rehearsing my shortcomings and my faults. Maybe I just needed to get better at… Or work harder to… Or exercise more discipline to… And, in the end, more of that pervasive misery.

Then something interesting happened. I received a call from a gentleman explaining that the Dale Carnegie franchise had returned to Utah and he wondered if I wanted to be a facilitator again. I vividly remembered how much I loved doing Carnegie classes, but I felt a hesitation in my heart. I couldn’t explain it, but I felt like I didn’t want to do it anymore. Yet I couldn’t shake the memory of how much joy I felt doing the classes. So against my own feelings, I reluctantly agreed. Fast forward a month or so and I found myself sitting in an immersion class (accelerated), learning or relearning the principles again. At first I was challenged and agitated because I knew I would be forced out of my comfort zone (that place I dwell in day by day where nothing happens!). But, I persisted and then it happened! As I made the long commute home, I recognized something that had been missing for a long time. Joy. Indescribable, all-encompassing joy!

So what happened to me? What took place that moved me so suddenly from misery to happiness in just under 8 hours? Well, while learning and practicing the principles in that unmistakable Dale Carnegie way, I finally took the focus off myself and on to other people. I practiced showing sincere appreciation and listening and seeing things from another’s point of view. I became more interested in helping my fellow-man than I was in helping myself. It was no longer about me…

One of the great paradoxes of life is that the more you seek the fulfillment of your own needs, the less they are fulfilled and the more you seek to take care of others, the more your own needs are met. The Bible states it this way. The more you lose yourself for others, the more you find your real self. And conversely, the more you seek to find yourself, the more lost you become. Crazy I know, but oh so true!

Despite the multitude of claims circling around the globe today, focus on yourself and only yourself can only result in misery. It has to; it must! Focus on yourself as the great starting point for all endeavors almost guarantees a negative outcome because all you’ll end up with is yourself; full of flaws and mistakes and weaknesses. Focus on yourself as an attempt to make yourself happy defies the laws of life. You want, you desire, you seek, but when done exclusively for yourself, subtracts life, instead of adding to it. Conversely, when you seek the good of others (giving) the laws of life cooperate by returning back to you (receiving). It really is more blessed to give than to receive. Read this little poem that I think says it best:

The Man in the Glass

When you get what you want in your struggle for self                                                                                                                   And the world makes you king for a day,

Just go to the mirror and look at yourself,
And see what that man has to say.

For it isn’t your father or mother or wife,
Who judgment upon you must pass;
The fellow whose verdict counts most in your life Is the one staring back from the glass.

He’s the fellow to please, never mind all the rest. For he’s with you clear up to the end,
And you’ve passed the most dangerous, difficult test If the man in the glass is your friend.

You may be like Jack Horner and “chisel” a plum, And think you’re a wonderful guy,
But the man in the glass says you’re only a bum If you can’t look him straight in the eye.

You may fool the whole world down the pathway of years. And get pats on the back as you pass,
But your final reward will be the heartaches and tears
If you’ve cheated the man in the glass.

Dale Wimbrow (c) 1934

And the only way not to cheat the man in the glass is by living your life in service to others.

So, if you my friend, find yourself searching for the elusive happiness and finding misery instead, don’t work any harder to find a way to give happiness to yourself, but instead find a way to give that happiness to others. And in so doing you will find what every truly happy person has found, you have to give in order to receive. Happiness is a dish best served…

Just some good thoughts…

The Santa Clause Effect… (Trying to Earn What Cannot Be Earned)


santa-claus-arrested-black-friday-walmartAs a kid, I remember joyfully anticipating Christmas Day! Somehow this dude named Santa Clause traveled the world  in a single night depositing presents under people’s Christmas trees. He must have been all-knowing because almost everything you asked for was right there waiting for you. This Santa fellow was pretty awesome. But, he had a dark side. You had to be “good” in order to get his blessings. If you were naughty you might just get a lump of coal. (I know, pretty random bad gift, right?) Some of his commandments were: 1.) No pouting 2.) No crying 3.) Do not be naughty 4.) And the all encompassing, you better watch out! Why you ask? Because he knows if you are sleeping and he knows if you’re awake. He knows if you’ve been bad or good, so be good for goodness sake. Add to that, he keeps a detailed list of what you do and even checks it twice before deciding to give you things! And the final clincher? We teach this to our children.

I’m sure you noticed there are some strikingly obvious comparisons between Santa Clause and God. In fact, many people believe God functions the exact same way. He’s up there somewhere watching every move you make. And, He’s not only watching and judging, He’s also keeping track on a list. If your good doesn’t outweigh your bad, He is not going to bless you and might even curse you with something awful and black! So, my friends, you better watch out!

Have you ever noticed how people pray? They say things like, “Oh Lord let me get this new job.” Or, “God, let me win this lottery.” The not so subtle implication being that God is somehow stopping good things from happening in your life, presumably because you have been very naughty. And because He is all-knowing you figure you better behave properly if anything good is going to happen in your life. The evil behind this pervasive concept is two-fold. First, what exactly is good and second what are the degrees of bad? Some folks say it is a sin to drink alcohol. Others say there are hierarchies of sin including “little white lies” all the way to murder or something. How can you know? Well, you don’t know and if you’re honest you simply conclude that you’re not very good. I mean after all, didn’t you just watch Cinemax (Sex-a-max) last night?

In the words of a famous man, “I can assure you, God doesn’t bless you because of how good or bad you are, but rather because of your believing.” Read that again! In order to receive anything from God you have to believe. You must be fully persuaded that God can do it AND will do it for you! Now back to Santa. If you have bought into the notion that God will only bless you because you are the very nebulous “good,” then chances are you aren’t expecting Him to bless you. Actually, you are so convinced of your “badness” that you now have to pray for God to “NOT” do something or worse, allow something you want to happen. This concept could not be further from the truth!

Everything we have in this life we have because of God’s grace. Grace is unearned divine favor. You cannot earn something that cannot be earned. Read that again! Now, think of it this way. If you have children, I’m sure you do your best to make them happy. You not only supply everything they need, but you actually go out of your way to do things that make them happy. Yet, how do they measure up on YOUR naughty list? Pretty dang naughty, aren’t they? They disobey; break your expensive stuff; injure themselves; get in trouble at school; mess up the house etc., etc. And despite it all, you still want them to be happy… And you are a parent that sometimes pouts, cries and other things on the forbidden Santa list of commandments. Can you see how foolish that idea is?

God is not an ongoing list of moral requirements. You can be plenty moral with or without God. You can be so damn tightly wound that you squeak when you walk. And mid squeak you’re still begging God to “not let” something happen! Nah man, you gotta get that insanity out of your mind. God never wanted you to live that way. Even the Old Testament laws, all 86 million of them, weren’t designed to make people good. They were designed to provide a written standard of “good” someone could fulfill later in order for God to end that crazy logic once and for all. (I would say read that again, again but I’m over my limit!)

The truth is that God won’t withhold anything good from you…ever. Quit measuring your sins and remembering your mistakes and cataloguing your misdeeds. God knows all about you and still loves you! You can receive every blessing God intended for your life if you’ll just get rid of that Santa Clause logic. Don’t ask the preacher… Read it in God’s Word.

You better watch out, you better not cry… Ah shut up Santa! My God reigns supreme!

 

Fathers and Sons… Raising Well Adjusted Boys!


Father and sonYou would think that by being a man it would be inherent that you would know how to raise a son. You would think… But, all you really have to go on is how you were raised, right or wrong. So this is a story; a story about raising that boy you always wanted to have. The Mommy part? Well, that’s another story.

Most men it seems want to raise the next NFL star or the next NBA legend. No matter the sport, us daddies want that little fella to be a “man’s man.” We want to go to his games; grunt, scratch and watch boxing with him;  teach him how us men are supposed to act. But, mostly we want him to be well-adjusted and fulfill the roles that he will be called upon to fulfill; being a provider, a protector, a leader and so forth. But, this is where the misinformation conundrum begins!

Somebody, somewhere imbedded into men’s heads that you make your boy tough by ridiculing him. For example, you see your son playing with a doll and God forbid he play with dolls, right? LOL So instead of recognizing that there is nothing wrong with a boy playing with a doll, you make a grand production and say things like, “What are you a girl? Put that damn doll down you sissy!” Okay, now stop and analyze that for a minute. You, the Poppa, are so afraid your son will grow up feminine that you choose to ridicule him in the “hopes” that he will somehow internalize your twisted message; discard it and choose to be macho instead! Crazy, ya think? Crazy, I know!

You Dads need to recognize that what your son needs most from you is your approval. His developing confidence about himself and his relation to the world comes directly from the things you say to him. Directly! Assuming you want him to be confident in himself, you need to carefully watch over the things you say to him. Ridicule only leads to a lack of self-confidence that will manifest itself in a nervous, afraid son behaving in all the ways you hate. That’s for real folks!

Your real job as the daddy is to mold that boy into the best he can possibly be and you do that by words of encouragement; a multitude of words of encouragement. I once read that we should offer ten positive encouragements and compliments for every one word of criticism.  And, while I’m on a rant, criticism never made anyone better. Often critical and hurtful words come following frustration and anger. Don’t allow that to happen. Take a breath; count to ten, do something before you lodge those awful words into his heart.

Practically, maybe you want your son to be good at sports (because you weren’t and would like to live vicariously through him) – haha… So the first time he gets out there and plays catch with you, you notice he sucks. Well, of course he sucks because everyone sucks the first time they do something. So you have an important decision to make. Will you allow him to suck at first while you load him with encouragement or will you get angry because he throws like (God forbid) a girl? Have you ever thrown a ball with your non-dominant hand? Exactly! If you stick with it you will quickly see that he gets it in direct proportion to your level of encouragement. The better you say he is, the better he becomes! Voila!

Young boys, like all human beings have hearts and feelings and emotions. To say that a boy shouldn’t cry is ludicrous. Again, is it really the crying you are reacting to or your own terrible fear that your son is going to become feminine? Babies cry; young boys cry; adult men cry! Sure you don’t want him bursting into tears every time something goes wrong, but there’s a better way to send your message. My son Josh tells his son, “You’re okay bro, dry your eyes or walk it off!” No ridicule needed!

Those little boys idolize their fathers and whether you notice it or not are constantly watching and analyzing how you react to things. You want them to exhibit calmness? You exhibit calmness. You want them to be fair? You show fairness. You want them to watch boxing? You watch boxing…LOL

When my boys were coming up my golden rule (and by God I stuck to it) was that I would never call them any name that diminished their value or made them feel inferior, weak etc. Oh sure I pointed out dum dum behaviors, but never called them names directly as people! Never! And today, those boys are the boys you wish you had! Trust me on that one!

I think some of the toughest guys on earth play in the NFL. Have you ever noticed how many of them hug and kiss their fathers? A man’s man is made from love – and no other way!

Do you want to see a grown man cry? Ask him to speak about his father! Yes, it’s that serious…

Just some good man thoughts…