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…

 

A Birthday Benefit to Bless You…


13087680_10209327672770705_3701642277193729662_nWell, I completed another trip around the sun and came out relatively unscathed. Along the way, as always, I learned a few things about this game of life. I guess I shouldn’t say “game” as the outcomes can sometimes be disastrous. Maybe I’ll say “contest” because to win you have to compete and be serious about it. However, you can’t get too serious and really that’s what this blog is all about…

If I’ve learned anything this past year it’s that life is all about balance. Finding that balance is the sweet spot you’ve been pursuing. The balance I’m talking about isn’t an equality of events like equal time working and equal time playing. It’s more like seeking to get better while appreciating how far you have come. It’s control but not with too tight a grip. It’s following the rules, questioning the rules and sometimes not following the rules. It has ups and downs; times for striving and times for letting things be. It’s a sweet, delicate balance that you can and should figure out. Figure it out!

Whenever and wherever you are engaged in an activity that falls into the “too much” category, there will always be something behind it. Whether it be pleasurable or fear based, too much of anything always has something behind it that you may not be aware of, yet. Too much work with all of its promised financial reward takes a toll on things of far greater value. Too much fun, too much liquor, too many women (or men) all have a penalty and some pain. Defining what is too much is where the fun (and the contest) begins. It’s not complicated and you already know the answer, but maybe you’ve been avoiding it for some time now. Don’t avoid it!

I learned that if you’ll take the time to ask the questions, you’ll usually get the answer. Our job is never to know all the answers, but rather to take the time to ask the questions. Never fall for the catch-all, cop-out that life is a mystery or life is unfair. Life becomes very clear when you ask the right questions, to the right Source. Life is not so much unfair as unknown and again your job is learn, then know. How much time have you and I wasted wallowing around in the bog, perplexed and confused, killing ourselves trying to figure things out? And usually, if we’re honest, we didn’t find our solutions from endless worry, but generally a short time after we finally let it go. Let stuff go!

Relationships comprise a large, if not the largest, part of our existence. We spend so much effort determining how the other person should be and only a quarter of that time figuring out how we should be. If we’re single we search for the perfect mate yet dismiss our own imperfection. We look for and focus on flaws, shortcomings and differences, never considering that our differences are necessary, and that our flaws and shortcomings require another’s assistance. My insatiable desire for fun is mitigated by my wife’s sense of responsibility and her persistent accountability is offset by my pressure to break out of the norm. It’s balance that endures not the high peaks of total agreement and desire. It’s the friction that smooths the path, where two hearts learn to work together. As my good friend Mark Wallace once said, “Marriage isn’t two lives molding into one life, it’s two separate lives working together as one.”  You’re not supposed to be the other person and they’re not supposed to be you. Remember that and you’ll find the elixir to all of your relationships. Just do you!

I’ve learned how to be good and how not to be so “good.” Good is such a subjective term and is loaded with hidden requirements. It’s not being “bad” to eat chocolate cake, no matter how much you weigh. Nor is it good to exercise until your knees ache. It’s not bad to sleep in nor is it always good to get up early. It’s a balance. Trying to be good to please God is a plan destined to fail. How good can your good be? Does your being good exact such a toll on you that you end up hating yourself and other people? Do your requirements for being good exhaust you? Have you become so good that no-one can stand being around you? Remember when your Mom told you to be a good boy? Did it help you or did it teach you to be deceptive? You see, this whole being “good” thing is like cancer that eats away at you until you die. It’s far more productive to recognize that you’re not always good and just accept it for what it is. A diet doesn’t work because you always do it right, it works when you consistently get yourself back on track. Quit abusing yourself and get back on track!

Traveling around the sun for another year taught me many lessons. But, by far the greatest lesson is in learning to find the balance. Life is all about responsibility and having fun; discipline and letting loose; adhering to the rules and willfully breaking them. It centers on relationships that involve people very different from yourself. Life is a process, a journey and requires that you continue to grow despite the adverse conditions. It’s about figuring out how to love and accept yourself for your good and your bad, no matter how good or bad you are.

I’m looking forward to another rotation around the sun and learning to figure out this thing called ‘getting older…’

Just some good thoughts…

 

Is There Such a Thing as Too Much?


CaptureAdmittedly, I have never been a fan of restrictions or anything that puts people under bondage.  I guess you could say I’m a liberal if liberal means “stop trying to live everyone else’s life and just do you!”  You know how annoying it is when you run into those people who insist on telling you how much is too much based on some standard they ascribe to, yet remain wholly unaware of what your personal decisions are based upon.   And usually, if they’re honest, they are just judging you for some enjoyment they feel they can’t enjoy but really would like to enjoy.  I remember when I was the Battery Commander in the Utah Army National Guard, one of the Sergeants once told me that my approach to life would “get me” one day!  Well, I’m still waiting…

So, with my aversion to religion and religious practices aside (religion being defined as man-made restrictions on enjoyment, seldom bible based or taken out of context etc), I began to ponder the question, “is there such a thing as too much?”  I mean if you really enjoy something, shouldn’t you do it as much as you can?  And how could doing something you really enjoy cause you hurt or difficulty?

It seems the answer is yes and no.  God says (not that dude on Facebook) that we are to do all things in moderation.  Well, moderation like discipline tends to illicit a negative reaction from most folks.   Again maybe that feeling comes not so much from the principles that the words convey but rather more of how people have used those words to beat us down!  So with that little caveat included, why moderation?  Why try to temper and control when “it feels like” less control is better?

Hmmm… This is where it gets interesting.  In order to understand, let’s consider the alcoholic.  At first the budding alcoholic has a drink because he enjoys it; maybe it masks some pain; maybe it softens hard feelings.  Soon, however, a few drinks no longer does the trick.  A few drinks turns into a lot of drinks which turns into a multitude of drinks.  And now, what once seemed to serve as a suitable medication now becomes an addiction which is never satisfied.  Okay maybe that example was too dramatic for you.  Let’s apply it to having fun.  Perhaps no-one loves fun more than I do.  In college, Eddie called me a “hedonistic bastard!”  (Yeah, Eddie swears…)  Yet can there be too much fun?  Again, yes and no.  If your pursuit of fun overrides your desire to work, you will soon find yourself no longer having fun.  Seems like the promise of having fun on the weekend maybe serves as a motivation to keep working during the week.  So what if you are retired?  Again, doing nothing isn’t fun for anyone, so there is such a thing as remaining productive even though you have retired from work.  Warning!!!  If you find yourself no longer productive it won’t be long before your time off work will morph into a misery that has no end point!   How about food?  No-one loves the taste of food more than me (see Eddie’s explanation earlier).  My Pops will tell you, I’m a great guy to cook for because I can appreciate some good tastes.  But, if I indulge my tastes without constraint, I soon find my food love turns into some anger over that fat guy staring back at me from the mirror.

Obvious results from over-indulgence aside, there’s something else to think about…  Us humanoids crave unique and exciting experiences.   A trip to Hawaii (or paradise rightly called) is a wonderful experience.  Yet, if we decide to move there it maybe loses some of its splendor.  Oh it’s still beautiful, but it is no longer unique!  Going to the club with friends and having drinks is great fun.  But going every night soon turns into monotony and before you know it you are forcing yourself to have the same fun you had when you didn’t do it so often.   Drug users quickly learn that it takes more and more of the drug to achieve the same effect.  (Yeah, you’re right, God probably wasn’t applying – all things in moderation – to drug use 🙂 )  But, I trust you get the point, right?

I often think that moderation refers not so much to quantity as it does to frequency.  When you get the nagging thought about not doing such and such so much, it probably follows frequency more so than occasional over-indulgent use (just preserving Thanksgiving folks!).  Have you ever found yourself in a setting that you wish would never end?  You know what I mean.  You’re just having the perfect time with perfect friends.  We have all been there, right?  But consider, that perfect time was for you at that perfect time, to be enjoyed in that perfect moment.  What made it a “perfect moment” was its uniqueness for you and your life.  If it happened every day it would soon lose its perfection.  Life is like that…  A lot of day to day requirements always leading up to the potential for “perfect moments.”  So savor the perfect moments, but not too much!

So, is there such a thing as too much?  Absolutely!  Moderation helps you to appreciate the beauty that this life is.  The absence of moderation, while promising you good times, will soon begin to afflict you and before you know it, will own you.  Anticipation is often just as pleasant as the actual event.

You have one precious life to live, my friends.  God desires the best of everything for you.   But (sorry there is a but), He is also smart enough to recognize that there is such a thing as too much (love excluded for sure).  So live it up; pursue your dreams; follow your heart, but every now and then put the brakes on and make sure that what you are desiring isn’t desiring you (to take you over)!

Just some good thoughts (in moderation 🙂 )…