Get Back in the Game…


There was a time when you were incredibly enthusiastic about life. You had your dreams for the future and felt that your possibilities were absolutely endless. You woke each day excited about your future and what you might contribute to the world. Maybe your enthusiasm continues to this day. But for many, sadly, this is no longer the case. Many folks have resigned themselves to the sidelines, not dead yet, but not in the play. What happens to us that so artfully talks us out of our dreams? Who convinces us to give up on the things we so desperately want for our lives? How can we, no matter our years, get back in the game? 

Everything you ever wanted in your life, you can have, if you can believe for it. Life and circumstance aren’t responsible for the limitation. God isn’t behind it, no matter how many Facebook memes claim otherwise. It isn’t your background, your education or your upbringing. It’s you, my friend. The limitation, if there is one, is you. It sounds simplistic, but it’s true. In the final analysis, at the core, at the very root is you and what you believe in your heart. The reason you don’t get the things you want is because you don’t believe you can have them. Your friend, who is ten years younger than you and makes three times more than you, does so because he believes he can. He isn’t highly favored or lucky, nor was he born with a silver spoon in his mouth. In his heart he believed he could and in so believing did. You can achieve the dreams you have for your life, many of which God put in your heart, if you can believe you can. But, believing is a process and sometimes that process takes time. The devil cannot stymie your dreams or take them from you, absent your cooperation. You cooperate by adhering to and believing all the evidence to the contrary. In short, you get talked out of it. Achieving your dreams will never appear to be easy, but will come with obstacles and challenges you must surmount. Neither the obstacles, nor the challenges can stop you from receiving, unless you give up on what it is you want. You are not in the game because you gave up on yourself.

In the game of life, no one puts you on the sideline except yourself. The coach didn’t bench you. God didn’t bench you. You benched you! You gave up. You surrendered. You decided along the way that you were not worth (or worthy) of the things you want. Oh you weren’t functioning in a vacuum.  Your ideas, your beliefs, your expectations were influenced. That influence, call it what you may, succeeded in getting you to believe and accept something that isn’t true. It chipped away at you, day by day, week by week, year by year, until it convinced you to settle for something far less than God’s best. Maybe it spent considerable time outlining how your previous bad behavior disqualified you from receiving something good from God today. Perhaps it persuaded you that your efforts were futile and that you didn’t make any impact worth pursuing. Possibly it just distracted you and got you caught up in activities that wasted your time and didn’t lead to anything. Whatever happened, however it happened, if you are sitting on the sidelines and not in the game, it happened. There’s no point in lamenting how it happened to you. The solution is simply to get back in the game!

You get back in the game by remembering again the things that are most important to you. What is it or was it that made your heart race? What do you well that is easy for you to do that could benefit others in some capacity, that you foolishly stopped pursuing? Where and in what is your impact obvious? Start there… Maybe those things aren’t clear enough for you yet. Instead, what parts of life do you no longer participate in? Life, if left unchecked and unguarded, has a funny way of reducing things down to the bare minimums. Over the years, a thousand interests turn into a hundred interests, then to ten interests, ending in no interests. Who took away your interests? What gave you a reason to give up on your interests and convinced you that you had seen and done it all? Who stole away your uniqueness and individuality? What persuaded you into believing that you had nothing left to offer; are now too old, or that it is too late for you? It’s bad enough that we all have to die one day, but worse that we can die before we are actually dead. 

Your life, my life, is frightfully short. Frightfully short! You owe it to yourself and to God to live your life to the fullest. Get outside your own head. Quit stewing and brewing over whatever has gone on thus far and check yourself back into the game. Challenge those age old assumptions you have been making about yourself and your situation. Challenge those limitations that say you can’t. Get up off the ground, dust yourself off and check back into the game! The same way you unknowingly checked out, the same way you can check yourself back in again. Try something new. Make a new friend. Pick up a new hobby. It’s not really about your age or your energy level. It’s about not giving up on yourself and believing to see where your life still has the capacity to make a lasting impact on someone else. Every single day of your precious life holds the promise of something wonderful. But, it’s not going to knock on your door and find you. You have to find it, though it was never really hidden from you to begin with. Have you been living on the sidelines hoping, wishing something would change so that you could live again? That something is you and it always was you. Get back in the game! We all need you…

Just some good thoughts…

Ummm, How’s Your Energy Lately?


When you boil it all down (pun intended), life is all about energy. Life functions or does not function based on energy. Everything gives off something. Some things in life serve to increase your energy, while other things tend to deplete that energy. You can feel energized and excited about life or you can feel tired, bored and distinctly lacking in energy! So the question is, how’s your energy lately?

It is often said that children have endless energy. They flick about from place to place, happy as a lark, purely in the moment. They don’t waste their energy in pointless worry, but rather focus their energy on the things that give them joy. They seldom feel badly about themselves and if they do, they seek to resolve it immediately. They don’t give a second thought to whether or not their needs will be met as they wholeheartedly trust their parents. And if they do find themselves with unmet needs, they continue to expect those needs to be met regardless. In short, they are wonderful, little positivity machines spreading good feelings to weary adults. Many a tired parent has been uplifted by their children.

By the time we get a little older we forget the lessons of our childhood. Instead of focusing on the good in life, we get all caught up in everything that isn’t right. We churn and burn in our thoughts, painfully considering all that could go wrong. We dismiss childrens’ delightful attitudes as naivety and assume instead ‘grown-folks’ thinking. We worry our needs won’t be met and we worry when things are going well. We cleave to all perceived wrongs done to us and remain vigilant for any new ones. We live in the past and in the future, rarely stopping in the present to have a look around. We not only feel bad about ourselves for wrongs done, we refuse to give those things a time limit. Some people are giving all their energy away to some relatively brief, bad event that happened over thirty years ago. And we wonder why we feel so tired. We wonder why we drag about like corpses with barely enough energy to fight for our own existence.

People aren’t worn out today because of how much they have to do. They’re worn out because of what they have been doing with their minds. They are giving away their finite energy to things they cannot affect. They are focused on the wrong stuff. They are distracted, confused and bewildered. People are so accustomed to worrying that they think not worrying is irresponsible. They distress over possible, though not likely, unreasonable, terrible outcomes. And they do it habitually, perpetually, day after day and night after night. And in so doing, they squander away their precious energy. All they have to show for it is a life not truly lived. Instead of courageously reaching forward, trying new things, endeavoring and taking risks, they settle into a worn-out mediocrity, full of fear and uneasiness.

Since all people have an energy they produce, you can be greatly affected by the people you are around. Some people add life to your soul and although you cannot put it into words, you know you are the better because of them. Others serve simply to drain away your life force. They bring distress and unrest and aren’t fulfilled until you are brought down to their level. Add to that an environment steeped in negatives, fears and predictions of doom, you are left defeated and without hope for the future. You become a victim trapped in a world that offers you nothing good, lasting or worthy of your pursuit. In that mental turmoil you find yourself unhappy and depressed, your depression being a lowering of your vitality and energy. Again it is no wonder the whole place lives on antidepressants or wine or anything that promises an escape, if only temporary.

God is the source of all energy. He is the force behind all life. His love, His goodness, His light is the energy you need to live a life that is abundant, yes more than abundant! It is always there available for you if you want it. It has no downside, no bad exchange, no cause for distress. He offers you life and energy and enthusiasm, not in exchange for something but in spite of everything. In order to access His life, you have to do something different. You have to take charge of that mind of yours and bring it under control. He will never overstep your freedom of will, no matter what the preacher may have told you! You have to do it yourself (with His help of course). You have to stop giving your energy to negatives. You have to put an end to the futile worrying. You must learn to stop considering and discussing and reasoning with your fears. Fear brings life to a standstill. You already know that no-one gets out of fear by continuing to embrace the fear. Instead fear is resolved by depriving it of your precious energy! It fades away only when you deny it your power, your energy, your life. In order for fear, which is always a lie, to live it needs life from someone as it has no life in itself. All it has is illusion, tempting away unknowing humans into its lair.

Once you learn to obey God in your thinking, or at least start trying to do it, you will find new energy to pursue your endeavors. You will find enthusiasm (en-theos) and energy and love. You will find that life takes on meaning again. The blurry will become clear and you will have the clarity you need to make moves successfully. Oh you may get sucked in again from time to time, but know this – deciding what you will and will not think about and refusing the darkness will lead ever to the life you really want! Is your energy at an all time low, my friends? Start controlling your thoughts and see if God will not energize you afresh!

Just some good thoughts…

When the Thrill of Living is Gone…


If you’ve walked around on terra-firma long enough you know that life isn’t always a thrill ride packed with exciting adventures and challenge. In fact, it seems the older you become, the more routine and mundane it can get. Life by its very definition would seem to belie that notion. So, why does life end for some people long before they are dead?

It seems the simplest, most profound example is found in our children. Sure, you could make the argument that children live on the left side of life with so many experiences still ahead of them. But, I don’t think that answers the question to our total satisfaction. To simplify the math and lessen the boggle, if life had 100 possible experiences and children only occupied 10 of those experiences, then life would have 90 experiences left for the child which would presumably run short at some point. But, life’s expression is unlimited and humans don’t live long enough to exhaust its supply. So, there must be another answer…

Let’s assume because of the vastness of the creation and the endless variable combinations for happiness, the real issue lies not in the experience of life but in the experience of the end-user. Or better maybe, the thrill of life isn’t found in the experience, it’s found in the expectation and mindset of the experiencer! Children in stark contrast to adults are completely wide open to learning new things. Their expectation for life is fully alive and thriving. Instead of wrongly concluding they can already see, they are still looking for something. They instinctively know there is more to learn, more to see, more to experience. Their joy is found in their expectation. They are blessed because of their humble hearts! Their excitement is discovered in what they don’t know. They are all of us minus the life experience and wrong teaching. They aren’t a young version of us, they are a pure version of us…

Children have another distinct advantage over us, not by intention, but by virtue of how they live. Children, the budding prototypes, live only in the moment. Taking them back in time to review some wrong done takes effort. They are eager to move on from there and once you are satisfied, move on again. They don’t carry wrongs around like some weighted anchor, allowing them to color and experience their present. Instead they choose to live now and experience now. That is natural. That is human design. Rehearsing wrongs done; reviewing all that isn’t good with life now; dwelling on everything that isn’t how it “should” be or how you “want” it to be is a sickness that people have learned. It’s a sickness because none of those aspects, though very common, aid in getting you to the life you might enjoy. They serve only to color your experience and help you conclude, “the thrill of living is gone.”

You see, the problem with adulthood isn’t your age, it’s all the stupid, wrong stuff you started toting around to no benefit. You learned some cool stuff also and then wrongly concluded that you knew all stuff. You formed a skeleton sketch of learning then attempted to hang every new concept somewhere on that skeleton. You thought you already knew and in knowing closed yourself off to life; real life! Now no-one can tell you anything. All of your cause and effects have already been caused and effected. You cannot find an answer to your suffering because you already know why you are suffering, but you also somehow know it cannot be remedied. You are smart and by God, you know stuff! And in your knowing, you know that an unfulfilled life or an unhappy life is to be expected and you should just be happy that you woke up today! So I ask, is being awake as opposed to being asleep enough or do you need someone or something to really wake you up?

Have you ever had someone die that you love or suffered some other catastrophic event that sort of snapped you back into reality? Did the negative event truly bring you back around or did the negative event cause you to reconsider or even rethink what you thought you already knew? I think it is the latter… But, I also think we don’t need tragedy or negativity to wake us up. It seems we need to find that humility and coach-ability we had when we didn’t know so much. Perhaps we need to view life through a different lens. One that isn’t so quick to conclude and categorize and judge. Maybe, just maybe all the things we think we know so well, we really don’t understand at all. Perhaps we are doing something in our own hearts that sours and tires our own experience? Maybe we have grown so accustomed to the boredom; to the lack of vitality that we consider it to be normal. Possibly someone has sold us all a lie…

So, how can you get your thrill back? You have to check back in with life. You’ve got to drop like a hot rock your endless presumptions and assumptions, predictions and analysis. You’ve got to come clean with life and quit pretending you know when you don’t know. You must return to asking questions; lots and lots of questions. Inquire about things you previously thought you knew about. Break out of your routines that no longer serve you. Break out of anything that no longer works for you. And above all else, like a child, return to your unchastened, unrestricted honesty. Get honest about how things are and how you feel and quit pretending because everyone else is pretending! Refuse to assume it is just the way life is as life by definition is everything but that!

Finally, come back to life’s Author and Creator, who can make known to you the path of life, in whom’s presence there is fullness of joy and at whose right hand there are pleasures forever more… That, my friends, is a thrilling, exciting and adventuresome life!

Just some good thoughts…

 

 

Check Back In…


image001Many people living today aren’t quite living anymore. They’re sort of half in and half out. You can see it in their eyes, the revelation of their souls. Something has happened to damage their heart, not fatally, but enough to dim their glow and diminish their passion for being. They only half participate with life and have long since settled for the mundane over the excitement of fulfillment and satisfaction. Sadly, they have checked out of life and need badly to check back in.

Assuming you aren’t so far gone as to conclude that “life’s a bitch and then you die,” what the hell has happened to people to reduce their fiery flame into a flicker? What catastrophic event or events took place to so harden and numb people’s hearts to the point of accepting mere existence? People are lost and without hope in a world created for their greatest fulfillment and blessing. No-one began their life this way, so something must have become involved along the way that worked to steal life and to reduce life and to suffocate life and worst of all to convince people that it was normal. What happened?

Every living person has a heart beating inside forcing life-giving blood into every part of the body. Likewise, every person living has a figurative heart, deep inside their mind, from which their life proceeds. As such, the heart of your mind, like your physical heart must be cared for properly if you are going to survive. But, unlike the physical heart, the heart of your mind was intended for much, much more than mere survival. Your heart was made to experience love and joy and wonder. Your heart was planned to be the fountain from which your life flowed forth. All that you could ever hope to be and to experience would begin in your heart, eventually manifesting outwardly into your life. Your heart by design is very tender and sensitive to feeling (like it’s Creator) with the capacity to respond to even the slightest sensation and with that react immediately to any attacks or assaults on itself with great displeasure and a determination to get back to its highest, purest most peaceful self. Thus God commanded man to guard his heart above everything that could be guarded in his life. When you find yourself but only half living, half experiencing, filling your days with pointless activities and routines to pass the time, it is safe to say that you have somewhere failed to guard your heart, a practice of which all men are guilty, with the degree of misery corresponding directly, thought for thought with the associated failure to guard your heart.

Living life on earth with an evil despot ruling the kingdoms of the world, not in accordance with God’s will, but rather as a result of guile and treachery, things are going to happen to you that will directly assault your heart. Parents, in their own conundrums, will fail you and speak damage into your being. Friends and experiences and relationships and any or all interactions will take shots at that vital part of you and work to steal away your life force and reduce your life to a glass of wine, a television and a couch! And sadly today more than ever before in history, there’s an electronic world artfully attached to your soul seducing you with a thousand messages assailing who you are by comparison and who you ought to be. Add to that life’s catastrophes that shake your very core or violence or the abject pain of broken hearts (aptly named) and broken dreams. The result of which is an entire mass of people with dimness in their eyes with little to no energy left to fight back and to recover. Then enters the greatest cruelty of all named religion bent on, by guilt, unworthiness and shame, wiping out any remaining hope for the future replacing it with fear of a punishment later on. Indeed it is a sad state of affairs of which only God can repair.

On the way back to your true heart, I think you will find compensations you have added to your life such as numbing elements or busy activities or anything that seeks to take your mind and thoughts away from the moment you are in. Step one is to be in the moment and notice what you are thinking or what pain you are avoiding or maybe just how uncomfortable it is to risk being with your own thoughts undistracted for a time. In order to change what is in your heart, if you don’t like what you are experiencing or how you feel, you have to start changing your thoughts. You have to be present to recognize what you are thinking and then start challenging those thoughts. Just like working to lose the weight that affects your physical heart takes time, ridding yourself of wrong thoughts and wrong beliefs takes time and consistent, persistent effort.

Naturally, if you are going to recover from the “life sucks” syndrome, you are going to have to do some things you haven’t been doing. Some of which might include getting out of your shell and going back out there where the people and your life are and stop incubating in your unhappiness. (Broken hearts incubate inward while healthy hearts extend outward…) Don’t even think you have any hope at deliverance and escape if you aren’t willing to be supremely humble. You got got man! You got taken woman! You and your “I already know” thinking aren’t going to help you here. (This is why you need God’s help to recover!) You have to honestly humble yourself and be just as willing to unlearn as you have been to learn. You have to start questioning the “wheel” of things and dismiss the notion of acceptance for that which is less than the best. It is not just how life is and it’s certainly not God’s will for your life!

Check back in folks! I know why you checked out (been there and done that) but I also know it isn’t the best use of your one go round around the sun. You can get that glimmer back in your eyes. You can put your heart back into life fully rather than half guarded and calloused in anticipation of further pain. You can once again risk by giving love and being kind to people and sharing your tender heart. Waiting for you on the other side of your damaged and broken heart is life in all of its manifestations and variations, exciting, fulfilling and joyful just as God designed it to be…

Check back in, it’s so, so worth it.

Just some good thoughts…

 

Flashes of Light…


unnamedThere is no such thing as an ordinary life. Each one of us, uniquely made and different, have something to contribute to the world. We have the opportunity to offer what we alone do best and from whence we have no rival. In order to escape the mundane, the mediocrity, the humdrum that plagues the world, we have to find those flashes of light that lead us to our true purpose. And, while our purpose is inside of us, we need the light from the outside to guide our paths.

We all know that the sunshine does something positive to us. How many difficulties are immediately resolved in our minds just because the sun is shining? Gloomy days, also a part of life, remind us to seek the sunlight. Similarly, gloomy thoughts remind us to look for the light that warms and comforts us. Days, weeks and years spent in gloomy thoughts lead us unwillingly to the pain that is a life with no purpose, no point. Yet behind each dark cloud is the light that is always present, waiting for us to recognize it and embrace it. Our job is not to produce the light, but rather to seek it until we find it. The light that guides us is found in flashes of insight and understanding.

Those insights; the subtle beckoning of a change in direction or a suggested change in our thinking are all around us if we start paying attention. They show up in those moments of repose or when we admire the lifestyle of another person. It’s found in the gentle appeals to something better inside of us; some more sublime, sweet way to exist. The reason men and women fail to see the light is because they get trapped in some mindset, some hard, fast , habitual way of thinking that falsely presumes what life is and all that can be accomplished or enjoyed. The problem is that we but half live our days functioning by rote instead of seeking the new and profound in each day. Each day offers us the opportunity to live anew with fresh experiences and learning, but we’ve become so accustomed to our routines that we cannot discern it. And while the routines are necessary, they also serve to cut us off from a full life.

It seems many people as they age settle into certain patterns of existence. The days blur together because they are lived without inquisitive thought, without new learning, but instead with mindless repetition. Young people, still consumed with the idea of life, actively seek new experiences with a mind still bent on gaining a better view. Aging is not the issue, but rather the amount of time that has transpired to inculcate certain habits of thought. The light has not become less available, it’s just harder to see with a fixed mindset. The light becomes diminished with our insistence on thinking we already know, thus closing us off from all that we do not know. It’s not easy to break certain habits of thought, but break them we must if we wish to fulfill our experience of life.

The true joy of living is not often found in hallmark events, but in the mechanics of every day life. The proposed destination is not the only part of the process. Learning to enjoy the journey is the paramount experience. The life that God has given us is infused with rich variety and opportunities for discovery and each day is pregnant with the possibility of new learning. For this reason, we have to unchain ourselves from our habitual behaviors. Get up at a different time. Choose a different route to work. Instead of arriving home from work to occupy the couch and the television for the evening, go for a walk in the park or meet friends on a weeknight instead.

One great hold back to a fulfilled life, offering your best “you” to the world is that tyrannical insistence on being whom everyone already thinks you are. People, in their attempts to classify and categorize us, assign us to some place in life usually described by a word or two. Instead of becoming more and more a rich cumulation of experiences, we allow ourselves to be assigned as, “the comedian” or the “drinker” or the “hard worker” when those aspects simply point to one portion of our existence. My wife exhorted me to stop posting pictures on Facebook of me drinking wine as over time I became defined as, “the wine guy” falsely assuming wine to be the point of my existence. And while I definitely have an affinity for fine wine, my greater affinity is for a passionate, experienced filled life.

At the end of the day, each of us have the privilege to be exactly whom we choose to be, not held in by the group’s assessment. The magnificent uniqueness of who you are is encouraged and fanned by your experiences of life. Be the person you desire to be spurred on by those flashes of insight and refuse to be locked into to some minimalist viewpoint of who you are. Choose to walk a path designed for you and for you alone. Break free from the stumbling herd and live the days of your existence exactly as you desire to live them. Listen to music that inspires you though no-one you know enjoys it. Make plans and goals too lofty for your present mindset and enjoy your incredible journey of becoming.

Your life is way too short to be anything less than exactly what you want. It is your one shot my friends, and the determining factor always was and always will be you.

Just some good thoughts…

 

 

 

 

Happy New Year and a Happy New Heart…


happy-new-year-2017-loveFor many, the entrance of a new year is a time for reflection, goal setting and plans for a better life. Those plans appear in the form of resolutions and decisions often aimed at repairing some aspect of one’s existence. Statistically, most aims center around the restoration of physical health including the ever-present irritant called weight loss and of course financial goals targeted at obtaining more money to open more possibilities for living. Both oft-repeated wishes are very necessary and encompass something obviously central to a happy life, otherwise they wouldn’t be part of almost everyone’s plans. And sadly, more often than not, those worthy aims are not actualized. Have you ever asked yourself why life seems to work this way? Why would you have the same goals year after year and never get to scratch them off your list? Indeed why…

Every one of us living today in the deepest center of our being have what is figuratively referred to as our heart. Our heart is made up of beliefs we have about ourselves and about our lives. We formed these beliefs over time by the thoughts we have thought and from our actual experiences in living. No-one is born with certain beliefs, nor is your heart some magical information center that already fully comprehends life’s mysteries. The heart knows what the heart knows because of what the heart has been taught. So, step one in finally getting somewhere is to dispel the utterly false notion that your heart is what it is already and cannot be changed for all those reasons mentioned above. Changing those beliefs in your heart is not only possible, but required to live that life you keep imagining. However, changing your inner heart is not some overnight affair. It requires time and patience and a faithful, very faithful effort to change your thinking from the lies, or if your prefer, the errors you have accepted as true, over to what is actually true. Could there be anything more sad than doggedly clinging to some wrong belief about yourself, leading to wrong results for yourself, because you are so damn determined that you already know for yourself?

As a man thinks in his heart, so is he. In other words, who you believe you are and what you believe you can get and where you think your life will go, is exactly who you are, what you get and where you end up. Your inner beliefs, your core beliefs, good or dreadfully bad determine your life; your life, not someone else’s life! You cannot, absolutely cannot, determine someone else’s life, no matter how much you may have loved them! So, with that, if the year 2016 sucked for you, it is no-one else’s fault but your own. Now, don’t get mad at me for saying that, unless getting mad helps you to maybe reconsider things. The system of believing and how your own personal believing from your heart determines your life isn’t something I made up. The designer of the system is God and because it’s from God it is perfect. It is your all-loving Heavenly Father’s solution for your every problem and heartache and your God-given control over your life. Don’t fight the system with your preconceived ideas, but instead learn the system and tap into the awesome power waiting for you to ‘get it!’ Ideas such as “Let’s see what 2017 has in store for me,” falsely assigns control over your life to someone or something else. The new year, God, or the devil himself do not decide what is in store for you, you do! You, my friend have the privilege to decide or to not decide and in not deciding fall prey to whatever comes along, which usually isn’t anything good. Not deciding, not learning how and what to believe, clutching to superstitious myths called luck or good fortune, lead only to writing out those same futile wishes year after year, with no changes, no results, no happiness. I should add that our sweet, benevolent Heavenly Father has many wonderful things in store for you, but cannot give them to you without your cooperation, no matter how many times you pray about it. But, if you can believe, something good will happen for you! But that is a mighty big IF!

The Bible teaches us to “guard our hearts with all diligence, because out of it (our heart) come all the issues of our life (See, I told you I didn’t make this up). The way you guard your heart is by controlling what enters into your heart. What is in your heart? What are you thinking about and saying the most? Look no further than that. Out of the abundance of the heart, the mouth speaks. What has your mouth been speaking? What utterances are you making to the people around you and even more importantly to yourself? Nobody, or maybe almost nobody, knows yourself more than you do. Sure, you can say you’re going to be rich in 2017, but is that what you really think? Really? Not getting what you want isn’t life’s fault. Life may throw you some curves, or more accurately if we are going to speak in figures, death will throw you some curves, lay out some clever obstacles, manipulate your weaknesses, but can only defeat you when you accept and therefore believe something that isn’t true. Now, you may say, I do believe but nothing ever seems to happen. Well the simple answer is, no you didn’t believe or something would have happened! It’s not rocket science! If you “believed” there was $100,000 buried in the backyard, no-one could pry that shovel out of your hand! But, studying treasure maps, surveying the land and spending endless hours in consideration won’t lead to anything until you finally decide to dig! The first shovel motion into the ground is believing with a determination to keep digging until you find “it” with “it” being whatever it is you’re after! When you finally get around to believing from your heart, whatever it is you were after will always already be there. How? Because the System Designer knew beforehand that you would get around to believing and placed it there ahead of time. It’s not a miracle, it’s exquisite timing and extremely, breathtakingly, intelligent planning.

Don’t get swept away by the work harder, attempt more, discipline yourself more crowd. You’ve been there before haven’t you? Yet here you are writing the same stuff down year after year. Your real hard work; your very persistent effort; your true discipline is in controlling that unruly beast called your mind by thinking and eventually believing for the things you want to happen rather than fearfully believing for bad things not to happen. You ever played a sport and tried not to lose? Once you start taming that thinking machine which includes refusing to entertain those loony tunes, catastrophic, fear based potential outcomes, you can begin controlling the things that come out of your mouth. Say what you want and for the love of God, stop saying everything you don’t want! Stop complaining, whining and playing the victim. You are not a victim though you may have been victimized by your ignorance concerning the system. Say things with conviction, with passion, with balls out brazen belief! When they tell you to accept reality or to be realistic, sneak a peek at their New year’s resolutions and see if they also aren’t writing the same tired crap year after year.

My heart for you in 2017 is that you learn how to believe. You won’t be perfect at it, unless your name is Jesus, but you will prove to yourself the simple maxim, that your life always was and always will be a composite sketch of your ever evolving thoughts and beliefs. Don’t wait to see what life has in store for you. Walk into the damn storehouse and get all the stuff God already gave you! It doesn’t take brilliance to do so, it just takes a little bold believing from your heart.

Happy New Year and a Happy New Heart!

Just some good thoughts (beliefs)…

 

 

The Man You Used to Be…


red-sneakered-feet-walking-towards-phdRecently we had some old college friends over for a barbecue. Thank goodness I’m not as old as them! 😉 When I casually told one of them I was the clinical Director for my organization, he couldn’t believe that the guy he knew in college was the director of anything! I could see his point as my only objectives in life back then were to chase women, play basketball and find different methods to anesthetize myself! (smile) But, that was a lifetime ago… Afterwards, I couldn’t help but think how sad it would be to be the same person you were 35 years ago. None of us are the same person we were back then, nor should we be. This life is all about growth and finding out the obstacles that stunt our growth. So are you ready to find out some things that may have been stunting your growth?

By far, the number one culprit for impeding your progress in life, as Emerson aptly stated, is “carrying about that corpse of a memory.” What you did at any given point in time reflects how you thought at that point in time. It means nothing else. To assign your future course in life to a hodge-podge of foolish past decisions is the height of insanity. In fact, you are completely free to be today whomever it is you choose to be. Your past served only as the preparation ground to grow the person you are today. You needed your mistakes as much as you needed your successes. The difficulties you are experiencing right now are remnants of a course you have yet to complete. Figure it out so you can take the exam and move on.

Dwelling on the past, even yesterday, is a fool’s game. Learn whatever you can learn from it and immediately move forward. Spending your days incubating some failure serves only to guarantee future failure like a runner looking back in the race. The hotshot swimmer in the Olympics was so preoccupied with his opponent that he failed to even medal. Staying your mind on your past is being preoccupied with your opponent. No matter your inherent goodness or practiced virtue, you are going to fall prey to that spurious other power at times and for that you owe God nothing but a commitment to move ahead. How many good-hearted folks do you know who are locked into some past event, imprisoned in the decisions of yesterday? Let it go and move ahead!

Another impediment to future growth is the overuse and abuse of those squirrley little vices that promise you transport to another time and place. Do you remember the commercial where the 30-year-old is extolling the virtues of smoking marijuana when his acquiescence is suddenly interrupted by his mother’s voice in her home, in whice he still lives? Drugs and overindulgence in alcohol press a perpetual pause button on your life, stymying future growth while waiting for you to move out of that phase. Fun and games are all fun and games while your life is fun and games, but every man’s life has a day when he has to forgo fun and games for the work he must do. Indulge if you must, but find a way to balance your fun with the stuff you have to do! Go to work!

Of all the opinions that matter in life, the most important one is the opinion you carry of yourself. Enter your circle of friends and family that work together in unison to define just exactly who you are and where you fit. And again, in the words of Emerson, you are loathe to disappoint them! If you were “always” the joker you must continue to be the joker. If you were ditsy and scatterbrained, that moniker must stay with you for life. People in their estimation of you allow no room for growth or change. Of necessity they cannot because of their compulsion to fit your present life into their past estimation of you. But, growth demands the change and your responsibility is nothing more than to allow your present life to speak for itself! The fact that you were “never” the smart one is only a limitation in their minds, not your own. My dad still thinks I’m not mechanical though I’ve repaired my fair share of broken stuff. Once I configured an OshKosh B’gosh buckle into a door latch, but now I’m just bragging!  The point is, your only limitation is within yourself. Answering to public opinion; to your friend’s judgments; to your family background is like blaming your unmowed grass on the sunshine and water. Mow your own grass and no defense is required!

People’s opinions are in reality a judgment on their own lives. If they are callous and unforgiving, you must be also. Their suspicions of you are a testimony to their own motives. No man can possibly know another’s motive and until that person has lived in your shoes they have no opinion that matters at all. We don’t fault the poor mother who steals so her children can eat, nor can we fault another man for his hidden poverty we cannot readily discern. Underneath it all, people are basically good and kind and seek a means to express their goodness though a thousand voices scream to the contrary! Be your own self doing your own stuff that you know you must do. The value of your choice is determined by you and you alone… Other people cannot stunt your growth unless you allow it. Refuse it and grow!

Your life has a specific design in a specific place at a specific time. Your job is not to find out what the world wants, but rather to find out who you are and what you can best offer to the world. If you can do that, your life will grow in unparalleled dimensions.

You are not the man or woman you used to be, thank God. Instead you are the sum total of all the lessons you have mastered thus far. I say, get your PhD…

Just some good thoughts…

Closed Doors and Fear of the Future…


door-closed-w-little-boy1There are so many people living today who aren’t really living anymore. Sure, they wake up in the morning just like we do. They shower, get dressed, eat breakfast and go to work. When you see them at work they look just like everyone else. They pause at lunchtime for a sandwich and nothing seems amiss. After work they make their commute home and once at home they change clothes, eat a little dinner and hit the couch for a night of mindless television. It’s just a typical day in the midst of a typical life. Nothing is particularly wrong but nothing is particularly right either. The fire on the inside still burns, but hasn’t been ablaze for years. The lights are on, someone is home, but there’s precious few reasons to open the door. Something went wrong, but not anything you could put your finger on. Slowly, imperceptibly something closed all of the doors and now it seems there’s no way out.

Here’s a thought. When was the last time you woke up excited for the day and what it might bring? Can you remember when you last had solid objectives; not vague, ill-defined goals, but a real plan for your future? How about when you last felt the energy of your convictions and looked forward to making a difference in the world? If those things have become strangers in your house, you’ve been stolen from and I bet you don’t even know it. No-one knows it because if they did they would be on the look-out. The trouble never just shows up one day, it happens over time; lots of time and finally reveals itself in lost hopes and broken dreams.

I’d be the first to promote living in the moment and not wasting time in the past or the future, but have you ever thought how both rob the life you live right now? Despite your lingering bad feelings, the past is already passed, but fear of the future stops your movement today. Fear pulls down the shades one window at a time until the whole house is dark. Once it gets dark enough, it starts locking all the doors. Your options narrow, your energy slows, your pace grinds to a standstill. Your interests dwindle, your motivation wanes, your desire fades. You wonder what’s the matter with you. You can’t pinpoint the cause because it happened long ago. All you know is that you don’t feel like doing anything but settling in for a long dull ride.

Fear is at the root and eliminating it is your only option. You have to figure out what you are so afraid of. It shows itself in a million disguises but it only has one purpose; to stop you and your life in its tracks. Life is fluid and full of movement and activity and change and growth! You can spy fear out when you become settled and stationary, static and the same, day after day after day. You’ve stopped progressing and instead of staying the same, you are digressing, albeit very slowly. The things you used to do when your future was free no longer make sense because your future is no longer free. It’s like traveling down the freeway of life and noticing way up in the distance that the road is closed. There’s just no point in driving then. Have you stopped driving?

So, I ask you again. What are you so afraid of? Is it that you won’t be successful? Is it not having enough money? Is it not making a difference in the world? Is it mediocrity? Is it some looming disease or sickness that will cut your life short? Is it being found out as a charlatan? Is it in not reaching your dreams? Is it too late for you? Is it the loss of a good job or maybe not getting a good job? Are you not smart enough, strong enough, liked enough? Are you too fat, too thin, not pretty enough? Are you too old, too young, too inexperienced? You see, all those stupid things are fear; fear talking you into to being something less than what you really are; less than you know you can be! And every one of those fears takes you away from the things you really want. At best they serve simply to stifle your movement, guaranteeing you won’t actually get anywhere. To get anything in life you have to move towards it. I’ll say it again! To get anything you want in life you have to move towards it! Fear has got you on the couch…

It’s time for you to start living again! It’s time for you to wake excited for the day because the day is filled with unlimited possibilities if you’re looking for them. It’s time to make real plans, extravagant plans to be someone incredible, not just successful. It’s time to stop making excuses and procrastinating and get out there and make something happen. It’s time to give the TV a break for a minute and make productive use of your time. It’s time to look your fear in the eye and do something about it! You didn’t start life with that fear and you don’t have to live with it now!

Once you figure out how to get rid of your fear, you’ll see all of your doors opening again; swinging wide open with latent possibility!

Just some good thoughts…

You, the Unique, Wonderful You!


Bok-Festival-AzaleasI found myself gazing incredulously at God’s creation as the low light of an early spring evening glimmered softly upon the plant foliage, making the early blooms more vivid and more true. From innumerable shades of green contrasted against the deepest purples, richest reds and sparkling yellows, to the willow tree, bent over, chock full of the weight of a million, delicate white and pink blooms, all seemed to speak to my heart and encourage my soul. They adjured me to observe the Master’s hand, impregnated with a uniqueness carried out over a million iterations. And as I paused in quiet revelry, I understood. Everything that God has made is singularly, unique and in that unsurpassed majesty, is wonderful beyond comprehension. That, my dear friends, is the uniqueness that is you, the wonderful, unrivaled, unparalleled you!

You are a miracle of all miracles in that there is no-one just like you on the entire earth. Imagine for a moment the exquisite combination of genes, environment and upbringing that brought you into play. You couldn’t replicate it if you tried. There’s none that thinks like you; processes information like you or comes to the exact conclusions that you do. You are a one of kind model from a factory where all are of one kind. Your heart, your fears, your love, your tastes and your aversions combined have no match. You are on this earth to bring forth all that you truly are and you alone have been assigned your role. The world doesn’t need another Ghandi or Martin Luther or Mother Theresa, it needs you. They have already done their own work and for that the world is grateful. What remains only is the work that you must do.

You know, most people abhor their uniqueness in a futile quest to be just like everyone else. Their scarlet hair is an affront to them and instead of rejoicing in their rarity, they seek dyes and colors approved by the majority. A slightly lower ear, a cowlick, or a different color eye becomes a hinderance to happiness and fulfillment. And age exacerbates the process as millions cleave to the fleeting look of youth never once considering the mighty oak, scarred from the storms, battered, yet standing firm and proud in its place. People want to fit in and blend and follow plans someone else has made. They want to walk in paths well defined; fall in love as movie stars do; work for businesses whose owners are already rich; falling in line with all the rest, in perpetual pursuit of someone else’s life. And as they acquiesce and settle, they never once consider the place where they sit as master, living a life of their own making; offering all that they and they alone can bring.

Immediately dismiss the notion that all should be famous or adored or worshipped. Your prize isn’t fame or notoriety, nor does your contribution have to have altered the course of the world. Your gift is the gift of who you are and what you bring to the table that no-one else can offer. Your unique abilities not only bless the creation but they bring back to you joy unspeakable. And as you dare to stand as who you are, unashamed and adamant, you will find yourself immersed in situations and people and environments that need you the most. You never have to find them for they will always find you.

Thus it’s time to let the real you back out again. Be true to yourself. Love what you love and despise what you despise. Don’t hide your tastes or try to downplay your aversions. If you disagree, say so. If something touches your soul, don’t be shy. When others mock you for being true to yourself, their derision is a testimony to their own hidden self, still scared, laying low, clutching the bed covers. How could someone laugh or scorn you for being you. It would be more frightening if you were them!

You see, the systems of the world are pushing everyone on to the same course; a trail that leads nowhere and takes a lifetime to arrive. And the prize for having finished is hundreds of regrets in thousands of wasted days. Meanwhile that song; that dream; that ideal lays buried in your heart ever seeking expression but never having been given opportunity. And we wonder why people are so unfulfilled nowadays… True fulfillment can only come from the real you, expressing yourself in real ways, to a world submerged in illusion.

So, where do you begin? Begin by deciding today that you will never again utter a negative word about yourself. Choose to evaluate situations and circumstances and to eliminate endless self-evaluation. Don’t spend another moment in negative consideration of your own heart or motives or desires. Stop saying no to the things from which your heart says yes. Let your interest be your interest even if completely solitary in scope. Read books that speak to you and you alone. Be yourself unreservedly, immensely, unabashedly. And above it all, love yourself like you used to, without judgment and criticism and complaint. Love your flaws and your frailties and your foolishnesses. Love your quirks, your eclectic whims and even your absurdities. When is the last time you just loved yourself for who you are without apology? That is who you are after…

As the sun started to set and as the gentle, lowering light began to dissipate; as the foliage lost its radiance and the flower colors dimmed to shades of gray and black, and as the beckoning willow hid it’s tender blossoms for the night ahead, I couldn’t help but remember that our uniqueness is something that will never change and the world deserves to see it in the light of day…

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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