Finally, the Right Move…

chess-make-the-right-move-708x317Sometimes I think we search all over the world and back looking for that one key or principle that once discovered will change our lives forever. It’s a weird quirk of human nature to assume that the thing we need most is always somewhere over “there.” So I ask, what if what you need the most is close at hand? And, what if it isn’t gaining something but instead giving something up? Hmmm?

Everything God has made has life in it. The life is already in it. But, if you tamper with the life in it, it stops growing and in some cases even dies. If you take an animal out of its natural environment it will begin to struggle. If the animal does something it isn’t designed to do it will suffer as a result. All living and growing things have a specific design and when they function within their original design they thrive. An absence of thriving doesn’t necessarily mean something should be added. Often thriving resumes when something is taken away.

Have you ever found yourself struggling with some repetitive issue or chronic situation? All of us have weaknesses right? We have those categories of life where we struggle consistently. Or maybe we are good at controlling ourselves until it gets to that “one thing” and we always give in to that one thing. And we know, if we are being honest with ourselves that the one thing isn’t good for us and after we do it, we seldom feel good about ourselves. Yet onward we march rationalizing and making excuses because we only have one life and we only live once and the like… You can generally spot that one thing because you have been doing it for years and for years it has been “doing you!” You know in your heart that, that one thing is holding you back, yet to this point you haven’t bolstered enough courage to see it for what it is or worse consider finally taking it on. But take it on you must and take it on, you can!

I know that your mind automatically went to alcohol or casual sex or smoking (or maybe you thought that’s where I went – smile). But vices, as useful as they seem, aren’t generally the cause, but rather a symptom. They are indicators of some unresolved situation, some great fear or some previously un-dealt-with emotional state. You started using “it” most likely in an attempt to deal with a painful situation you felt you couldn’t handle. Now many years later you still persist in avoiding the issue and filling your life with anything else you could find that took your mind away from the pain.

So here is a sage piece of advice. Let it go! Let that thing go once and for all. Don’t put it on hold or temporarily suspend it. LET IT GO! The hurt you felt when your husband left you in 1982 ~ let it go. The anger you felt towards your Dad for treating you so poorly ~ let it go. The accident you had; the thing you lost; the mistake you made; let them all go. In other words give up that tired, worn out story that is the first thing that pops into your mind when you meet someone new. It’s not your life, it “was” your life and your job is to decide to move on. Stop giving it space. Stop worshipping it! Stop bowing down to it and let it go. You see, your core issue; the root cause is your pain and the wound cannot heal when you keep ripping off the scar again and again. Living things are designed to heal themselves when they are wounded, but all of our heartfelt attempts at healing ourselves only delay the process. Let go and let God.

Once you finally become willing to “feel” the pain and see it for what it is, it will no longer have mastery over your life. When you decide to take something on you are completely willing to observe whatever there is to observe; the good, the bad and the really ugly! Hey it may even be hideous but it is what it is already and doing ten shots of whiskey every night won’t ever change it. There is always a reason you drink too much; eat too much; escape into drug induced states; or obsess over sex or money or your appearance or the future. Find out the reason. Find out the real cause. Be willing to see what was formerly unthinkable or too painful to even contemplate. Ask God to show it to you. God always comes through for you and He is smart enough to do it in a way you can digest comfortably without jumping off a cliff.

Sometimes your miraculous solution; your master-key; your golden orb answer comes simply by your decision to finally let something go. And anything that controls you or has mastery over you, is something you need to let go. You may not want to, but you need to. Your natural environment, your original design is to thrive! Enjoyment and happiness and excitement for life aren’t supposed to be occasional, they’re supposed to be the norm. They only stop being the norm when we allow something else to come in and exert itself over us and control us.

And how can you tell if you’ve made the right decision? You will know immediately by how you feel inside. The moment you decide to “just say no” to whatever would control you is the moment you begin to break free and experience the life you were specifically designed to experience… Try it out for yourself. You’ll be feeling so blessed because you finally made the right move… I guarantee it!




Analysis Paralysis Dialysis For Your Brain…

rubiks_cube_by_alexandrelandry-d4p8s17Adults are fantastic problem solvers. In fact, if you want to appeal to adult learners (ala Dale Carnegie training) you have to give them a problem and allow them to solve it themselves. In short, we are ‘problem solving’ machines. But, with our keen ability to analyze comes our problematic ability to over-analyze, solve problems that aren’t problems yet or simply drive ourselves completely batty along the way. It’s like that damn Rubik’s cube!  The best I could ever do was maybe get one row all the same color. Not that I didn’t invest enough time, but rather the time I invested wasn’t productive because there was a pattern or a logic to the solution that I wasn’t aware of, yet… Often in life, the questions that paralyze us are the ones we attribute either to the wrong “cause,” or represent the wrong “time” to deal with it. So today I’m offering you some dialysis for your brain. Yes, you need this!

If you looked inside your brain during extended periods of churning over some event or situation, you would find a skinny hamster running fast on his wheel; working hard, getting nowhere. It’s not his lack of effort that is defeating him. It’s the reality that his chosen method of problem solving cannot possibly end with a good result because his starting premise is faulty. The wheel he is on doesn’t lead anywhere; never did; never will. But, he doesn’t know that it leads to nowhere so he persists hoping to breakthrough to a new area based on past analysis. If he knew in advance that the wheel led to nowhere he wouldn’t bother traveling on it, but doggone it, it sure seems to be leading somewhere! And oh my Lord, he can’t just let it go, he has to solve the problem so he can relax. You do realize that the hamster is you, right?

Enter scenario number two:  Usually triggered by something, you start to imagine some dreadful possibility in the future. Maybe you read something on WebMD. The more you think about it (hamster wheel, hamster wheel) the more real it becomes. “Oh my gosh! I have been feeling warm and my leg has been aching — I’m dyingggggggggg!” Now you hop back on to your hamster wheel and start cranking out a solution. Faster, faster; more analysis, more analysis – whatever will I do now that I know I’m dying? In effect, you’re not only spinning on a hamster wheel, you are spinning on a hamster wheel of the future; a future you haven’t arrived at yet.

Before we get to the dialysis for your brain, I’d like to clue you in on something you may not ever have imagined. All of that churning and spinning and exhaustion (yes, it is exhausting) is nothing more than a grand distraction from the life you are living now. How many days, weeks, months or years have you spent on that topic, always with the same futile lack of result? The problem isn’t solved or else you wouldn’t keep working your exercise wheel! The only real result is your life being wasted away on something. Enter misery, frustration and depression! If you could remove all of the shrouds you would see it for what it is; a grand illusion designed to steal your precious life away from you. The source of it has just three motives; to steal, to kill and to destroy! Numbers two and three haven’t happened yet, but number one is in full operation.

So how can we introduce some new blood into your system? By offering new problem solving techniques or better research tools? Nope! By suggesting that you work harder (run faster) get more sleep, take medications or drink wine? Again nope! Instead I’m offering Plan C… let it go! (Disney movie soundtrack playing in the background…) Let go and let God! Stop being so smart; so logical; so intellectual. Humbly admit to God that you do not know the answer; that you are sorry for being such a wise guy and that you need for Him to get you to the real cause and show you the real solution. This option presupposes that you are now done with your wearisome trek and ready for an influx of new life. Then, once you have done this from your heart, do not allow yourself to take it back again. Oh you are going to feel heavily tempted to get back on the hamster wheel because if you could just_____, or maybe find _____, surely you would see the solution! But do yourself a favor and remember that this issue you have been struggling with for the past ten years hasn’t gone away despite your incredible analytical mind. Remember the old adage, “You can’t solve a problem with the same mind that created it.” ~ Albert Einstein.  Thus, it’s clearly time to get on dialysis!

Once you finally let that “thing” go you are going to feel something wonderful. It’s called peace. Peace of mind is God’s way of showing you that you are on the right track. Formula: Agitated = off track, peace = on track. Get on track. And, in that peaceful state you are going to start seeing things you haven’t seen before. You will begin to recognize destructive thinking and its effect on you. Often you will find that your solution wasn’t even remotely connected to all of your analysis. Isn’t God grand?

Hamster wheels are for hamsters, not humans. Analysis is good to a certain point, but perplexity indicates something else may be involved which is a cue for you to get “Something Else” involved. Your life, my life is very short by comparison. Live out your days with alacrity of mind; in the present; in peace. Live your life in peace!

Just some good thoughts…


Wandering in the Darkness…

walking-in-the-light-e1384177504840I remember being an artillery officer assigned to Fort Sill, Oklahoma. During an operation one night, we were operating in almost zero light conditions. We had flashlights, but they had to have red or green lenses on them so that the imaginary enemy there would not be able to detect us. I decided to walk around our position and check it out, as you might expect from any good 1st Lieutenant.  As I walked around, pretending to appear like I knew what I was doing, I suddenly found myself airborn heading towards the ground at a high rate of speed. Apparently I had walked off a small bridge covering a (thankfully) dry gully. It was about a four foot drop, but in the darkness it felt like an unexpected, unplanned free fall. It was embarrassing for sure, but was also too dark for anyone else to see me fall (though they probably heard me grunt!). I learned that night, as anyone who has had to work in darkness knows, that life is very difficult without the light.

When it’s dark we have to slow everything down to a snail’s pace. We cannot be accurate or clear and find ourselves groping around to complete the simplest tasks. And perhaps worst of all, everything is suddenly scary. That shadowy creature that just scurried by is now a source of dread. The noise behind the bushes is probably a grizzly bear that somehow found my driveway in suburban Woods Cross. And that tickle on my face is surely a tarantula that seeks to take my life. Which one of us hasn’t imagined the evil that lurks under our bed or the foul ghoul waiting in the closet? Yet the click of one solitary light switch solves a multitude of imagined problems. Once my wife saw a guy in the hallway of our house smoking a cigarette, apparently planning the right moment to kill her (I was away playing Army in the woods). She clicked on the light to find it was only the red glow of the smoke detector light (haha). Thank God for light switches!

I’m thinking we are all pretty clear on the virtue of adding artificial light to dark situations, right? But there is another type of darkness that is far worse than the absence of physical light. It’s the darkness we experience in our hearts.

“For even though they knew God, they did not honor Him as God or give thanks, but they became futile in their speculations, and their foolish heart was darkened.” Romans 1:21

Fear and error and wrong thinking causes our hearts to become dull and obscured. Think of the alcoholic for a moment. What started as a recreational activity became, imperceptibly by the user, a driving force slowly but surely stealing life away from its victims. Darkness indulged produces more and more darkness or if you will, less and less light by which to to see. That’s what is wrong with the world today; error, promoted as truth, leads a multitude of good hearted folks off the bridge and into the gully. It’s not done you on purpose of course, because you can’t see what you can’t see!

Have you ever had an awakening or suddenly found yourself illuminated on some subject? There are things that have been right in front of your face for years and years and you missed them, then all of a sudden you think, “What the hell have I been thinking that for? That’s not true at all!” That’s illumination; that’s the light. People can’t make needful changes in their lives because they cannot see the error hidden in the darkness. Ralph Waldo Emerson said it this way (though it is the same way):

“Punishment is a fruit that unsuspected ripens within the flower of the pleasure which concealed it. Cause and effect, means and ends, seed and fruit, cannot be severed; for the effect already blooms in the cause, the end preexists in the means, the fruit in the seed.”

In reality, darkness is simply the absence of light. Error is darkness, truth is light. So before we get too heavy into our infamous New Year’s resolutions this year, why not make the light a starting point? Otherwise your solution for your problem may not solve your problem because the source of your problem isn’t what you thought at all! Haha Darkness, you see it? (pun intended)

Obviously by now you are literally begging to find out where to get this light! 😉 Well, God is light and in Him there is no darkness at all. Remember that when the world fills your mind with crazy ideas about what God does to people! (Church is no guarantee for truth) Thus, God is the best place and really the only place to start. Otherwise you will just find yourself spitting in the wind; struggling to find but continuing to wander. God hasn’t made this thing hard for us. He just needs a little curiosity on your part; a little desire to learn; a little humility… Try it out this week. Ask God to show you something that has formerly perplexed you and then pay attention. That’s not scary, darkness is scary!

Of all the things that have worked together to save me from myself over the years, the number one thing has always been the light of God’s Word. And like you perhaps, I’ve done more than my share of walking in the darkness, but when I came back (and I always come back) that Light has always been there to show me the problem and even better how to really fix it up. It works every time, how can it not because…the effect already blooms in the cause, the end preexists in the means, the fruit in the seed, and light has no darkness in it at all.

Let’s spend 2014 walking in the light, experiencing all the goodness that God has for us in our lives.  Anybody got a flashlight?

Just some good light thoughts…

So, You’re Not So Happy, My Friend?

I have been thinking a lot lately about happiness and why it seems to be so dang elusive to folks.  It appears that most of us are seeking after it and many of us don’t experience it nearly as often as we would like.  So, one of the most important questions in our lives becomes, “why is that?”  Why are there so many people in the world living unhappy lives?  No-one wants unhappiness.  All of us have only one life to live (yolo, yolo).  And at the not so tender age of fifty-one, this life is awfully doggone short!

I believe that happiness is a natural state of mind as you would expect from a God of love who invented the idea of people.  So there must be some stuff that comes up and hinders happiness, right?  If you really give it some thought, happiness is the absence of things that make us unhappy.  Children are happy.  Their unhappiness lasts about 30 seconds and then they get right back to being happy.  Maybe we should explore how children manage to stay happy in order to learn how we can do the same.

Perhaps first we should dispel an adult myth.  Adults have somehow been led to believe that children are happy because  they don’t have responsibility.  But, whoever proved that responsibility makes us unhappy?  No-one-ever!  Our responsibilities don’t take away happiness, our attitude towards our responsibilities take away happiness.  Worry and fear bring happy feelings to an abrupt end.  Have you ever been feeling good about yourself and good about life, then encounter some fearful thought that causes you to start stressing?  Your happy, happy is replaced by some negative potentiality that probably won’t happen, but it doesn’t matter because the damage is already done…unhappy.  Children don’t roll that way.  If they feel afraid they tell you about it immediately; expect you to fix it and get right back to being happy trusting you got it covered.  Hmmm?  Maybe that’s how we are supposed to function.  So you ask, who am I supposed to tell?  Well, His name is God and He owns the rights to the human prototype!  Fear doesn’t come from God and left unchecked it will eat away at your life and subsequent happiness like a cancer.  You really need God in order to be truly happy.  Once you get to know Him a little, you can then tell Him immediately when something scares you; expect Him to fix it (or protect you) and get back to being happy trusting that He’s got you covered!   You can’t say that it is hard to do because five year-olds do it all the time…

Another lesson we can learn from children is that they live 100% in the moment.  Tomorrow is tomorrow and yesterday (or lasterday as my grandson says) is meaningless.  Most of us (I’m sad to say myself included) spend way too much time rehashing our negative past (the past being just now, wait just now, wait just now…) and worrying over the future.  We have trouble enjoying ourselves today because we aren’t yet living in the day.  We are distracted.  We can’t even have a conversation without letting our minds drift off to something that we need to do later on.   Kids barely keep track of what time it is.  You have to pry them away from their fun to even get them to eat something.  They forget how mad you were at them yesterday because they don’t keep track of yesterday.  And if they do happen to do something bad, you know what they do?  They carry it around with them for 6 months?  Haha you know better than that!  They seek out your forgiveness as quickly as possible so they can get right back to being happy.  Hmmm…  How about you?  What are you carrying around with you?  Let it go.  Tell God you are sorry (ummm my bad, Pops!) and get back to being happy.  Otherwise that weight will suck the happiness right out of you for a lifetime.

Maybe one last thing, huh?  Children pursue happiness.  They are looking for it.  If they like something you know it and if they don’t like something, you know it.  If you put some food in Tristan’s mouth (my almost two-year old grandson) and he doesn’t like it, it comes right back out.  He doesn’t hide his tastes or aversions (RWE).  Kids don’t participate in things they don’t like to do and soon bore from the same old things.   Hmmm…  How many things do we do over and over and over that we don’t like to do?  I don’t mean work necessarily, I mean work that we hate.  How long do we dutifully remain in bad scenarios that bring us pain not pleasure?  How often do we pretend to like things we don’t like?  And how many of us are bored with our lives, yet continue to do the same old things over an over?  Change jobs; change houses; change your routine; change how you think.  You can do it.  You have to do it!  Happiness knows no age boundaries…

So, you’re not so happy, my friend?  Why not take a lesson from the young people?  Oh sure they are going to have to learn some lessons like you did, but somehow you made it right?  People often accuse me of not acting my age.  I take that as a compliment!  Happiness is not a result of naivety, it’s a result of learning to think properly.  Handle your responsibilities but do it with the mind of a young person.  After all, our bodies might get old, but our minds don’t, that is of course, unless we allow them to!  Get rid of fear (all of it) with God’s help.  Live in the moment.  And for goodness sakes, do the things you like to do and avoid the things you hate!  You will find that, that elusive happiness you have been pursuing is actually pursuing you!

Life is short; be happy!

The Key to a Good Relationship ~ Communication…

The secret to any good relationship is being able to communicate successfully.  Have you ever been in a relationship with someone and felt like you were fighting all the time?  Well, fighting and arguing isn’t what kills a relationship!  What kills a relationship is when you decide to go into silent mode.  As long as you still feel it is worth the effort to say what you think, or disagree with what someone else thinks, your relationship maintains the potential for good.  But, if the relationship deteriorates to the point where “it just ain’t worth it” or you no longer care to say what bothers you, then the relationship is on the slippery slope downward and destined to end badly.

All of us want to have sweet, meaningful relationships with other people.  When our relationships are mostly sweet, life becomes a joy.  So, how can you have a “sweet” relationship with another person?  Well, you have to take the time to handle the issues that threaten it.  Let’s say you get home from work feeling pretty good and you are met with a bad mood from your partner.  You recognize that they are in a funky mood and now your good mood is being threatened.  Instead of getting mad or matching mood for mood, why not take the time to find out what is wrong with ’em?  That’s called having a conversation.  Now, lets say every time you come home in a good mood your partner is in a bad mood.  Well, that’s another conversation.  It bothers you, right?  So, why in the world would you spend your days with things bothering you when you can talk it over and get it straight?  If you do it well, you can do better than straight and get to sweet.

The problem with most people is that they do not take the time to get the “air” cleared.  And worse, they let stuff go day after day, quietly seething and thinking evil of the other person.  The best time to talk about things is as the things are happening.  Right now, in the moment, say what you are thinking.  Say what you like.  Say what you don’t like.  Say it, say it, say it!  You’re not looking for a fight, you are looking for the sweet.  If you delude yourself and say things like, “I don’t want the drama!” – you are setting yourself up for the big volcanic eruption.  How could it not turn out that way?  Have you ever heard people say, “I just need to get some things off my chest?”  The reason they have to get them off their chest is because they cannot remain “on their chest” for them to be okay.  If you bottle things up, hold things in, stop talking, and let things go that you shouldn’t let go – you are going to blow!  When you blow you are going to bring up 300 issues that you have been saving and you will bring them up in a way that is all out of proportion to the incident!  In short, you will sound like a crazy person; a stark, raving looney tunes person!   Chances are your anger is going to result in saying a whole bunch of things you really didn’t want to say.  Then, despite your heart-felt petitions towards the other person, your words are going to cut them like a knife.  Slice and dice – and there’s no coming back from that.

So what should you do instead?  Get into the habit of saying what you think.  Emerson said, “I ought to go upright and vital, and speak the rude truth in all ways….”  Get it?  Upright and vital means stand up and wake up!  But remember your goal is sweetness, not victory over the other person.  You can win an argument, but lose your relationship.  You can browbeat your partner, but find them getting the final say on the way out the door.  It kills me when people say awful, dreadful things and then justify it by saying, “I’m just being honest!”  That’s not honest.  Being honest doesn’t mean you have to say every silly thing that runs across your mind.  Just because you thought it, doesn’t make it valid.  Don’t let anger have its way.  Anger always follows another emotion anyway, so why not be “honest” and speak up when you were experiencing the other emotions (sadness, fear, frustration, guilt etc.).  It seems to all boil down to having some healthy self-respect.  In other words, respecting yourself enough to acknowledge that your feelings are just as important as other people’s feelings, not less important.  Your likes and dislikes are just as valid as someone else’s likes and dislikes.  Again I am reminded of Ralph Dubya (RWE) –

“I must be myself. I cannot break myself any longer for you, or you. If you can love me for what I am, we shall be happier. If you cannot, I will still seek to deserve that you should. I will not hide my tastes or aversions. I will so trust that what is deep is holy, that I will do strongly before the sun and moon whatever inly rejoices me, and the heart appoints.”

That my friends, is honest.  There is nothing wrong with “going with the flow” or being “yielding on insignificant matters.”  That’s how we all manage to get along.  But on those matters of the heart; those things  that are important to you – you gotta speak up!  People that really love you aren’t going to stop loving you because you spoke up about some issue.  If you can’t speak up about anything to them, you need to re-evaluate that relationship.  You may surprise yourself and find out something you didn’t know before.  You might even actually learn that you had it all wrong and that the other person wasn’t thinking what you thought at all… (haha)

At the end of the day, life goes by way too fast for drama and hurt feelings.  Your life is worth it!

Those are just some good thoughts…