21 to Nothing…


453127445I’m not sure how this kind of thing happens or what’s behind those sudden decisions we make in life, though I have some strong suspicions, but for whatever reason you suddenly find yourself consumed with the idea of putting yourself to the test in some capacity for some important reason. This is exactly what happened to me. I was about to return from a conference where I happily ate, drank and was merry. As the conference closing drew near, I finalized the idea that when I got home I was going to put myself on a drastic calorie reduced diet. My reasoning basically consisted of the idea that I had allowed myself to get fat and was getting to the point where I could barely tolerate that guy in the mirror. I knew this diet was the only plan that had worked for me in the past, so I put the naysayers behind me and began the 21 day quest. Naturally, my reduced calorie diet included an abstinence from alcohol for the next 21 days as well. I’m not the kind of guy that needs a drink to function, but I cannot recall the last time I hadn’t even had a glass of wine for 3 weeks. So the test and the learning commenced…

Much to my surprise, my first lesson made clear to me how important it is to make decisions, specifically the stronger your decision, the easier it is going to be to carry out your plan. When, by God, you decide how it is going to be, then, by God that is exactly how it is! Day after day I lost a pound as promised; did not cause my body to think I was starving; had vegetables and protein daily; did not suffer the litany of other ailments I would surely undergo from losing weight too quickly. My only pair of jeans that still fit soon took on the baggy look. I found a whole wardrobe of suits and shirts that magically worked again. Shoot, I could even wear a t-shirt to the gym without the all too familiar belly bulge! Victory!

Uber discipline in place for calorie reduction, my most pleasant surprise came by shaking up my familiar routines involving alcohol. Not having a glass of wine during the week was relatively simple, but not having any wine on the weekend days, that’s a whole other story! You may not realize this but Friday nights were made for wine. Choosing no wine on wine night is quite a slap in a habit’s face! Abstain I did, as I had already decided, and I was left with myself facing myself. You know what I found? Years of unresolved childhood issues and hurts left unattended? Painful realizations of what my life really consisted of? Ummm, no! What I found was that absent the anesthetic, I was damn productive. Suddenly I had a lot of shit to do! After I did it, I assumed my usual veg position on the couch minus the fatty chips and a glass of wine. When in doubt, do thinking… I think you’ll enjoy it.

My next realization and perhaps best lesson learned involved how I felt about myself. I’m not trying to tell you that abstinence is best or that you should live without many of the things that you enjoy. What I am telling you is that controlling yourself feels damn fantastic! Control yourself! Learn to say no! Resist! Take charge of the organism. Your desires, your wants, your enjoyments, your habits aren’t in control, you are! And when that day comes, for whatever reason, prompted by whatever logic, do it, feel it, overcome it. Controlling your own self is like crack cocaine to your self-esteem. You become the “effin” champion! It’s the most unusual, yet most profound thing in the world. Controlling yourself, not just for a rough 21 day test, but throughout your life, clearly is the best thing to do. I mean, if a small piece of cheese makes a mouse return to the same spot, the feelings you get from controlling yourself, alone, are worth any hardship you might face. It’s like God is telling you, “See, control isn’t bad, it’s everything good!” Try it…

At the risk of sounding preachy or, God forbid, religious, your brain really doesn’t need the substance to be okay. Your unaltered mental state can actually be very sweet and even more resilient than you have given it credit to be. The trick is to avoid rapid medication over just allowing yourself to be with yourself as yourself. Some jokes aren’t that funny. Some experiences are hysterical. In short, you start to figure out things that need to be done and things you want to get done. Have I sworn off wine forever? Of course not! But, I did put myself to the test and not only won, but more importantly learned some valuable things about myself.

My seemingly insignificant little experiment taught me so many things, the greatest of which is that control is not something to be feared, but rather something to be embraced and honored. Cliche’ aside, life is too damn short to be under anything’s control! Prove it to yourself!

Now, what’s next? What should you do? Well, if you don’t mind, find that thing that you cannot live without; find that part of life you’ve convinced yourself you have to have and go without it. Cut it off for a minute. Give it up. Just say no! It can be as simple as Dunkin Donuts coffee or as serious as a drug addiction. Point is – you don’t need anything outside of yourself to be happy and you can discipline yourself to give up almost anything (except what you need to live). But, don’t do it because I said so, do it when you also experience that urge; that calling; that determination to put yourself to the test and win.

Life under control is awesome people… Try it for yourself!

Just some good thoughts…

 

 

 

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Book Excerpt, “Sure I Speak in Tongues” (Doesn’t Everybody?) Chapter Eight – The Fruit of the Spirit


Chapter Eight

The Fruit of the Spirit

For years and years people have spoken of the fruit of the spirit as if it actually referred to the fruit of good works. There’s certainly nothing wrong with good works, in fact the reason you have the spirit from God is so that you can perform good works. Or, I might say perform the best works! I believe the confusion comes from another verse of scripture that uses this same phrase. The verse says:

(For the fruit of the Spirit is in all goodness and righteousness and truth;) Ephesians 5:9

As it’s stated here it certainly would lead you to believe that the fruit of the spirit comes from goodness, righteousness and truth. However, the word for “spirit” in the text is actually the word for light. It’s the fruit of the light we are talking about here. This is simple to research for yourself or by even looking at other versions of the Bible. But here in the book of Galatians, the fruit of the spirit refers to the end result of cultivating your spirit. In order for anything to produce fruit it must first be cultivated. If you decide to plant yourself an apple tree, there are some steps you have to perform before you can actually enjoy the fruit. First you have to plant your tree in good ground. You have to prepare the ground and you can’t just plant the thing anywhere! After you’ve planted it, you have to care for it on a consistent basis, day after day. If you neglect it for a period of time, it may still produce some fruit, but the process will be hindered. However, if you diligently care for your tree, providing the best nutrients and water, eventually it is going to produce some fruit. And, you already know that the fruit doesn’t just show up overnight. That would be very nice, but it just doesn’t work that way. You have to continue with your care of the tree until the fruit appears. Even then, there’s a maturing that takes place before the fruit tree really kicks into high gear producing more fruit than you can handle. At that point, you have to find some friends and neighbors with which to share your bountiful crop. Pretty soon you become known in the neighborhood for your abundant apple crop!

The holy spirit living inside you follows the same process, with one exception. No matter how much you neglect your gift, it is never going to die off. It will just continue to be dormant until you start to provide it with the required care. God’s seed in you, like any fruit yielding tree, has contained within it all that you will ever need to produce the fruit. Therefore, your job is to cultivate your seed. You cultivate fruit by utilizing the manifestations of holy spirit, namely speaking in tongues. Speaking in tongues, day by day, builds up your spirit and at a certain point begins to produce fruit in your life. However, the fruit produced isn’t limited to apples or pears. The fruit of the spirit is everything you have ever yearned for in your life. It represents the most important things for a human being, necessary to thrive and to flourish! And, it can all be yours by making the decision to manifest the gift inside you. How incredibly simple and misunderstood this is in our world. By confusing the fruit of the spirit with the fruit of good works, people think they must somehow become good enough before God will bless them with these fantastic realities. God does not bless you because of how good you are. God blesses you when you decide to believe Him. When you finally get around to believing Him, you begin to do exactly what He tells you to do and you stop doing everything the world is always telling you to do. It is impossible for you to ever earn God’s blessings in your life! How good could you ever become? I have spent some time traversing that slippery slope, and trust me when I tell you, it is a painful, losing endeavor! You are not going to arrive at some place of ‘nirvana’ whereby you always do what you are supposed to do. You have the nature of sin in your blood. No matter how disciplined, how faithful, how sincere you are in your personal efforts to earn God’s goodness, you will never, ever, ever arrive at that place. Instead, like most of the “earn your blessings” folks, your end result will be nothing but condemnation and pain, coupled with critical judgment of yourself first and then other people. Your heart will become hard and calloused because the backstory to that behavior isn’t God convicting you of sin, but rather the adversary’s accusation being permitted to hold a place in your life. While you are feeling so religious and righteous, you will be completely off track from God and His love for you.  That influence controlling your life, and if you are honest, making you feel miserable, isn’t from God.

The things of God are always freely given to you when you believe, end of story! If you have ever felt the sting of condemnation and guilt, then you know it is not a motivator for your good. It is the exact opposite. It just beats you down and takes away your confidence (believing) in God. What you need from God is His forgiveness and guaranteed assurance that He has made you who you are and that by your own self you can do nothing! Understanding that finally liberates you from sin, which is the point of the whole book of Romans.[1] You are now, because of what God has done for you, free to love; free to give; free to serve. You are completely, completely, completely set free by God because of the accomplishments of His son for your life. Your response? Speak in tongues abundantly which is described as “giving thanks well!”[2]

As you speak in tongues faithfully, day by day, as God’s liberated person, you are cultivating the fruit of the spirit into your life. When the fruit shows up is God’s business. Your business is to faithfully cultivate the fruit. So, what is the fruit of the spirit?

But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control; against such things there is no law. Galatians 5:22-23

Another way to say this is, what is the result of faithfully manifesting the gift? You get to enjoy your fruit! It is important to recognize that these fruit are an end result. They are not something you work hard to do; they are something that God blesses you with for acting on what He said to act on! This is a crucially important distinction! These fruit are a blessing from God to be enjoyed, not requirements for your behavior. For example, if you experiencing the love of God as a part of the fruit of the spirit, you will naturally share that indescribable love with other people. It will be there for you as a cultivated fruit. It is not a behavior you must strive to earn; it is a fruit you get to enjoy. Are you beginning to see how awesome this really is? This is your access point to the sweetest things in life. Your only requirement, if you want to use that word, is to enjoy and share your abundance of fruit. The peace of God that passes all human understanding, can be yours as a cultivated fruit. In that sublime experience of God’s peace, you will find that you really don’t need anything else in life to make you happy. You will be totally and completely at rest on the inside. How many people have even experienced this once in their lives? Well, here it is and it is yours for the taking. Speak in tongues much in your private prayer life!

You may have noticed that there are nine fruit of the spirit listed in Galatians. They are listed in the singular. In other words, the nine aspects are all part of one fruit, like a cluster of grapes. The fruit, like the nine manifestations, are placed where they are for a specific purpose. Also, like the manifestations, they are packaged in three groups of three. Within the three clusters, they follow a distinct pattern. The pattern is 1.) activates, 2.) encourages, 3.) guards. The first in the pattern activates you. It is a starting point which motivates you (internally) to act. The experience of love, for example, motivates you to take action. All loving is giving.[3] In that wonderful love, you will have a burning zeal to do things for other people. No-one will have to motivate you to do it. You will already ardently want to do it!

The next in the pattern encourages you. In a sense it inspires you to continue in something. When you feel encouraged, you persist in your endeavor because of your encouragement. The experience of joy, for example, provides you the encouragement you need to see something through no matter how hard it may be to do. Jesus, for the joy that was set before him, endured the cross, despising the shame and is now set down at the right hand of the throne of God (triumphant)![4] Joy is something that occurs on the inside. There are many things that may make us happy, like pleasant circumstances, but joy transcends all outside conditions and is something that takes place within us. The result of walking in the light, remaining in fellowship with God, produces fullness of joy.[5] We are encouraged to continue in the light because of how wonderful the experience of joy is to our souls.

The third in the pattern, that which completes the cycle, is that which guards you or guards the results. John 10:10 states that the thief (the enemy) comes not but for to steal and to kill and to destroy.[6] Your adversary has no other function other than his three-fold ministry mentioned here. Once you have gotten born again, he can no longer destroy you as you have received the gift of eternal life. However, he can still destroy the rewards you may have received had you chosen to walk by the spirit in your life.  In similar fashion, he cannot ultimately kill you as you will get up one day when the Lord returns, even if your life ended prematurely by one of his devices. Thus his primary mission against the believer will always be to steal something from you. He steals away your happiness. He steals your energy and your enthusiasm for life. He steals God’s blessings from you by getting you caught up into wrong doctrines and wrong beliefs. He steals your confidence in God which in turn defeats your believing; with your believing being the only way to overcome his attacks and manifest the more than abundant life. And, the adversary is very good at stealing! In order to receive the things of God, it is necessary for you to guard the results. You have to guard against his devices which seek to talk you out of the truth before you get the results. Thus, peace is an example of a guarding fruit. In the Bible, the peace of God is that which informs you if you are on track. When you feel peaceful about a decision, you can be assured your decision is right on. However, if you feel troubled about something, the agitation you are experiencing serves as an indicator that something is amiss; something needs to be changed or dealt with properly. In this way peace serves as the umpire of your heart. If peace rules (umpires) you are safe! If peace doesn’t rule (umpire) you are out![7] Often you may feel anxiety (fear) about something. God tells you not to be anxious about anything.[8] The agitating feeling of being anxious simply informs your mind, not that you must prepare for something dreadful, but rather that you need to do something with your thoughts. You need to change your thoughts about the situation. You’ll know that you have been successful when your peace returns. This is how the peace of God guards your heart. When at peace you can rest assured that your believing is right on with God’s Word and that you can continue looking forward to a good result. However, if you persist in your anxiety and your fear, the end result is always loss in some capacity. The loss you suffer, which is the adversary stealing from you, came about because you did not successfully guard the result you were after. Thus peace functions as a fruit that guards your results. The nine fruit of the spirit, in their respective groups of three, all follow this pattern.

  1. Love – activates you to do something.
  2. Joy – encourages you to persist in something.
  3. Peace – guards the results that you are after.
  1. Longsuffering (patience) – activates you to do something.
  2. Gentleness (kindness) – encourages you to persist in something.
  3. Goodness (being upright in heart) – guards the results you are after.
  1. Faith (believing) – activates you to do something.
  2. Meekness – encourages you to persist in something.
  3. Temperance (self-control) guards the results you are after.

Pretty fantastic, wouldn’t you say? These fruit are all available to you as you cultivate the gift by speaking in tongues much in your private prayer life. You have the opportunity to have these treasures by one simple act of believing on your part. You don’t have to work hard to finally feel God’s love, you simply receive it as a result. You have no requirement to roughly discipline yourself to gain self-control, you receive it easily as a fruit. You don’t have to pray for more patience to help people, you can just use the ability after receiving your fruit. Can you see how revolutionary this is for you? By believing God and faithfully persisting in speaking in tongues, these fantastic qualities just show up in your life. Oh the depth of the wisdom of God! He already knows how hard you’re trying and He made a better, far easier way for you to receive.

The fruit of the spirit have been referred to as the mark of quality in your life. If you want to measure your progress as a believing believer, all you have to do is tally up how many of these blessings you are enjoying in your life. This certainly isn’t a competition with other believers, but rather a gauge for you to determine if you are doing it right. I think you would have to agree that if you were experiencing even one aspect of the fruit listed in Galatians, it would be well worth the price of admission! My prayer is that someday you will finally recognize that the source of all goodness and blessing in your life is God and that God is good only, at all times and in every situation! Once this reality finally dawns on you, I know that you will have, once and for all, let go of all of your own good works and decided rather to freely accept all that God has freely given to you. Speak in tongues like a house-a-fire! You’ll thank me (and God mostly) when your fruit appears and then it is yours to enjoy fully!

[1] Romans 6:22

[2] 1st Corinthians 14:17

[3] John 3:16

[4] Hebrews 12:2

[5] 1st John 1:4-7

[6] John 10:10

[7] Colossians 3:15

[8] Philippians 4:6

Sure I Speak in Tongues, Doesn’t Everybody?


speaking-tongues-700pxWhat I’m about to share with you may sound like the weirdest thing on earth. Speaking in tongues is so, so misunderstood. (Try Googling it) In fact, the world has done a bang up job of convincing people that it is freaky and a thing you should avoid at all costs. But, in reality it is just the greatest thing ever with the ability to completely and totally transform your life. Let me explain…

When believers were first born again on the day of Pentecost, they believed and received holy spirit on the inside. The spirit came with 9 evidences or operations contained within it. One of those 9 fantastic abilities is called speaking in tongues. Immediately after receiving the gift of holy spirit, the newly born again believers spoke in tongues. Basically, speaking in tongues is the God-given ability to speak in a language you don’t understand. It’s purpose is to give you a lever in prayer that totally bypasses your understanding. Many, many of your issues and problems in life come from not knowing what to pray for or said another way, what is the spiritual cause of your problem. Speaking in tongues was designed to cover those needs by the ability to pray perfectly, absent any selfishness or senses reasonings. Now, if I lost you already, I’m happy to explain in much greater detail in another setting, if you really want to know. But, going forward I want to address those believers who know how to speak in tongues and tell them why they should be motivated to speak in tongues abundantly, day and night, forever! 😉

Recently I came across a fellow believer on Facebook, who was in the process of identifying 150 reasons to speak in tongues from the Bible. The idea intrigued me because I had always been taught there were 10-12 reasons. No-one ever said they were the only benefits, but I assumed it was so. So, I started reading and researching the reasons. Wow, what a mind-blowing experience! I realized so lucidly that speaking in tongues was God’s gracious solution for so many of the things that plagued me or diminished my life.  Living on this earth, we all have a spiritual enemy working behind the scenes to thwart and retard our efforts. But, and it is a big but, he is a spiritual entity and as such hidden from our senses mind and ability to see him in action. Without God’s spirit and the ability to use the 9 manifestations, we would not stand a chance. (Enter the absolute misery that plagues the world!) Speaking in tongues, one of the 9 operations, is the only one we can operate whenever we want unlike for example, revelation, which God gives at His prerogative as the need requires. Now here is where it gets very interesting…

Speaking in tongues builds us up on the inside; that I already knew. But, I assumed it built up my spirit and ended there. Further, I was taught that my mind is built up by God’s Word, which is unequivocally true as well. However, there is a distinct carryover from spirit to my mind. Imagine, if my spirit was built up, since I cannot feel spirit, how would I ever know? But like all of the manifestations, it also works with my mind. The spiritual darkness that engulfs the world takes away our joy and happiness by assaulting us with negativity and drama. Speaking in tongues clears the path, so to speak and absent the hindrances, I feel freaking fantastic.

Here’s another example. Speaking in tongues gives rest to our soul. Have you ever felt weary and worn out? Speaking in tongues serves as a refresher to your soul. My spirit doesn’t need refreshing because it is perfect and never tired. However, my soul does need refreshing and rest. Speaking in tongues provides that for me. My soul is what makes me, me and it is not my spirit. My soul needs rest. Are you starting to see what I’m getting at?

Speaking in tongues quickens or makes alive my mortal body. How many times has your old body not been responding as you would like? How often is your body bothered by the things that are going wrong? Speaking in tongues brings life to your flesh and no amount of eating healthy or exercise, though necessary, can do more for you than God can. Do you hear what I’m saying?

Speaking in tongues offers you the opportunity to pray for things you need, that you have absolutely no clue that you need. God calls it our greatest weakness. So when you speak in tongues for yourself or for the people you love, God fills in the real needs by your decision to speak in tongues. It is trusting in God with all your heart and leaning not to your own understanding. That’s when all things work together for good, as the good book says.

The Bible says God has not given us the spirit of fear but (a spirit of) power and of love and a sound mind! The power doesn’t reside in your head, it resides in your spirit. Your spirit, built up and edified, comes alive with the power you need to overcome any crap the enemy is throwing at you! Any crap, anything, any problem, any… It also comes with love and a sound mind, experienced and evidenced in your heart. It’s like a love super-booster, pouring out from you like a river of pure sweetness. It’s a profound ability to understand spiritual things and finally, for once in your life, understand what the hell is really going on!

Like anything you actively cultivate, it has fruit attached. The fruit doesn’t show up right away, just like apples, but before you know it you starting seeing and experiencing the fruit. Guess what the Bible says the fruit are? Love, joy, peace, long-suffering, gentleness, goodness, meekness, temperance (self-control), believing. Believing is how you can get things from God and you have the ability to cultivate more of it as a fruit. You want more love? Speak in tongues much. You want the peace that passes understanding? Speak in tongues much. You want to be more meek or teachable? Speak in tongues much. You need more self-control? (And who doesn’t?) Speak in tongues much. Our lack of self-control, is often influenced by the dark side of seduction and when you speak in tongues much it builds you up and removes the sticky attachments. Suddenly you are finally able to get in control of yourself!

It is so, so big people! It is one of God’s perfect solutions for you and once you learn how, you can do it as often as you want. Inspired by my learning, I’ve been going to the limits with it, speaking in tongues much, all throughout the day, when I can. (It doesn’t replace my responsibilities like work – smile) So, I can testify, it is drastically changing my experience of life. In fact, I think I’m tasting some heavenly fruit. But hey, don’t trust me, try it out for yourself!

If you know how to do it, do it abundantly. If you don’t know how to do it, reach out and I will help you get there. It’s not freaky my friends, it’s part of God’s perfection…

Sure I speak in tongues, doesn’t everybody?

Just some good thoughts…

 

The Never Ending Diet Metaphor for Life…


btn-self-mastery-trainingI just gawked at one of those celebrity articles featuring how “hot” certain actors were back in the day and then ‘look at them now.’ As I peered curiously at visions of youth lost and it’s companion weight gain, I felt sort of sad. Not sad because I now face both of those intruders, but rather in light of our (1st world) societal expectations about how we ought to look. I suppose it’s a cruelty that comes with getting older as youth requires little to no discipline at all. But the more pervasive cruelty is found in how we begin to view ourselves. And because of the pressure we feel to “look” a certain way, we either partake in the endless diet or succumb to the weight making us less and less recognizable as the years roll by. This, my friends, is a metaphor for life.

I think if we’re honest, we want to lose weight because we want to look good. We want to feel good. We want things to work like they used to work. In short, we want to be young again. But was the time of our youth really that fantastic? We were either awkward or nervous or shy. We were besieged with self-doubt. When we actually dared to give it thought, we wondered what we would do for a living and when we had to “settle down.” We lived for the day when we had it all and could do whatever we wanted. Sure we always looked good in a bathing suit, but inside it wasn’t all that swell .

Fast forward 30 years and many of those questions have all been answered for us. We may still be awkward, but we’re too tired to give a shit. We’re more sure than we ever were before. But, are we so sure? Do we know what we think we know or have we just succumbed to the game? Then, after our surrender we started getting fat; not only in our bathing suits but more importantly in our minds. We started just letting stuff go. We figured that if we couldn’t have it all like we dreamed in times past, the least we could do was eat some tasty foods, drink some wine and veg out on the couch. We now have the resources to gorge ourselves night and day and the damn, quick fix, unhealthy foods seem to taste the best!

In our youth we had a cosmic pass. We didn’t have responsibilities because we weren’t yet capable of responsibilities. Mom and Dad took care of that. Our job was just to communicate our needs and find the fun. Someone else took care of the hard parts. But, the grand design of things was that as we learned and grew we were supposed to transfer that responsibility on to God. The cycle was supposed to continue. God promised to meet our every need and we were supposed to find the fun. Sure we had work to do but it was no different from the requirement to mow the lawn. But, because we didn’t know that we took it all upon ourselves and life started to be a real drag. We just got so tired. And to add insult to injury we started gaining weight while simultaneously watching our bodies start to droop. Our selfies sucked because we always forgot to wake up our tired faces. (smile)

One day it dawned us that we look nothing like we used to look. The ever angular face from our younger years suddenly became rounded and our chin began to double itself. We grew bellies and man boobs. We peered into the mirror and saw deep wrinkles from years of scowling and frowning. But somewhere in there hiding is that kid, full of youthful beauty and plans and dreams and hope. We recognize that we’ve done it to ourselves. Our complacency and fatigue have led to a lack of control. We just let things go. And beyond that we failed to let go of the things we needed to let go of which explains that look on our faces.

Momentarily awakened, we get back on the endless diet. We decide to take charge of ourselves once again. We begin to think about what we are thinking about and reign ourselves in. And it feels good. Controlling ourselves feels damn good and the side benefit is that we start to lose weight. But, life marches on and we start to succumb to the same bad habits that put us there in the first place and so we either begin a new diet or get back on track with our existing diet. That frustrating yet simple, oft-repeated process, is a metaphor for life. We adults are supposed to control ourselves. Mom and Dad aren’t around to deny us the 4th cookie. In fact, they aren’t around to stop us from doing anything that brings us harm. We’re supposed to do it ourselves with God’s help.

So how can this age-old yo-yo process represent life? Those inner urgings; that persistent inkling that we’ve let something go; the dissatisfaction we feel inside is there because we haven’t yet learned the lesson. Life isn’t about looking good in a bikini, it’s about gaining mastery over our biggest opponent, ourselves! It’s not something we do for a short period of time to reach a destination. It’s someone we become from faithful effort to get up, show up and win. We’ve all surrendered and given in at times, sometimes for years… We’ve all succumbed to the lure of the quick fix and instant success. But neither of those ends of the spectrum represent real life. Real, satisfied, fulfilled life comes from gaining mastery over ourselves. Success is found in a million little choices adding up to a blessed life. Instead of being frustrated with ourselves and being critical of ourselves we need to uncover that happy kid inside and make the daily decision to better ourselves, be patient with ourselves and finally recover ourselves. Instead of dismissing our private thoughts as foolish or simple, we must listen to what they’re telling us and take the necessary action. Oh, how grand we feel when we finally take some action!

When I look at myself in the mirror, I see my furrowed brow, my thinning hair and that belly bulge. I see how much that guy has changed over the years. But, I also see, deeply carved in the sides of my eyes, etched lines that came from a hundred thousand smiles. I see eyes that have dimmed somewhat over time, but still carry all of the love, compassion and care that can only come from a lifetime of experiences. No-one is going to put me on a magazine cover anymore, but they will listen to what I have to say! Only time and experience can get you to that place, and this life exists for you to gain mastery in the journey.

Just some good thoughts…

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Good Life…


Good-LifeThere’s something out there that all humans are after. It’s something often talked about but rarely found. It’s the inner heart desire of every person that draws breath. It’s a goal, an experience, a journey and a destination. It is the pursuit of all pursuits, the good life!

If you’ve lived any amount of time, you know there are as many theories on the way to get there as there are people. One man’s good life is a nightmare for another. One woman’s unacceptable is another’s acceptable, and even more, a victory. For some it’s money. For others it’s family. For some it’s solitude and quiet space. For others it’s opportunities for learning. Truth is, you have the privilege to decide your good life yourself. But, there is one consistent thing that underlies all variations of the good life. It is  the most glorious and delicate balance in life. It’s called self-control…

If you’re like me, you tend to bristle up when that “control” word shows up. Nobody likes to be controlled. And, sometimes it’s tough to control yourself, especially when that controls involves the things you love. But, and you cannot find a larger but, self-control is truly the essence of life; the good life. Here’s the paradox, the more control you exercise, the more free you become. Now, before you get besieged with sadness, self control doesn’t mean refusing happiness or good feelings or good things.  Self control is more about enjoying your happiness and producing good feelings and maintaining your good things.

Have you ever had the experience of finally deciding to control some aspect of your life? If you were successful, i.e. lost the weight, stopped a behavior, brought some ‘out of control’ aspect under control, how did you feel when the job was done? Conversely, those areas that are out of control; those aspects of you that drive “you” nuts, the things you do over and over and over again and despise yourself when you do them, how do they leave you? You see, your feelings, though not 100% reliable, are trying to tell you something. They’re telling you that you need to get a grip on you! And, sadly, you know it’s true.

There is such a thing as too much of a good thing. Fun is always fun, but there is a ‘too much’ fun. Wine, the great mood enhancer, has an end point where it changes from a sparkle to a sedative. Tasty food is delightful but the Thanksgiving gorge is over the top. Discomfort is the tell-tale indicator. Bad feelings are the barometer. If you really think it through, there should be no down side to a good thing. But the downside sometimes applies not to the thing itself but the quantity of the thing.

In every realm of life, there’s an expectation of control. Control keeps you healthy. Control protects your finances. Control enhances your experiences. Control makes your highs higher and mitigates your lows. Your life depends upon your willingness to control it. I would surmise that whenever you observe someone who seems to be living the good life, behind that life is some element of control; decisions you maybe never see.

Life is always about staying in balance. Work is good unless you work too much or too little. If you work too much, you allow it to compensate for other areas it was never designed to cover. It becomes a consuming force and begs for remedy. If you work too little, the penalty is found in dissatisfaction and angst. Even a day at work where your focus is not on work but quitting time, makes for the longest day ever. If you’ve ever lost your job, you know that time off is not really time off when your responsibilities aren’t handled. But, how sweet is your vacation when the work preceded it?

Life requires both the things you have to do and the things you get to do. If all you have is things you have to do, you’ll live your life in misery. Likewise, if all you do is things you get to do, you’ll soon be found wanting. A lawn must be mowed before you can enjoy the patio. The bed must be made to make the night’s sleep that much nicer. Food is eaten on clean dishes. Work comes before play and play is made possible by work. The weekend comes at the end of the work week, not before it. The balance is the beauty of it all.

I think you may discover one day that the good life you were after was right there for you all along. But instead of being found in fame and riches, it is found in a thousand little choices; choices you make in defense of yourself. Choices that don’t always feel good, but always feel good if you know what I mean. The ability to sometimes say no, to yourself… The sublime, inherent ability to finally take command of yourself; your elusive self! That, my friends is the sure steadfast definition of the good life – getting and then staying in control of yourself…

You don’t know where to start, you say? Begin the next time you start to do something you really wish you wouldn’t do. Listen to the gentle urging inside you when there’s a decision to be made. Pay attention to that thought back there telling you something you have been trying to ignore. You already know where the control needs to be, you just need to make up your mind to do it. And when you do, notice how that feels and see if you cannot get a glimpse of the good life yourself…

Just some good thoughts…