While looking for a photo for an entirely different blog post I came across this picture. I found it captivating. You see a man standing on some high ground surveying the distant horizon. Between him and the far point at which he gazes there exists several rock formations, hills, valleys and it could be clouds or waves rather hard to tell.
I began to see a parallel between this picture and life in general. If we are to undertake a long journey as this man seems like he may be about to commence, it serves us well to get up to some high ground and survey the land. We are able to take in the obstacles and plot a course that would seem the most sensible. It is true once we begin our journey we can discover challenges that may cause us to alter our course that we could not discern from afar but overall we stand a much better chance of getting where we are going that if we were to set off blindly.
The modern version of this would be planning a road trip. First you would pick your destination and then look at a map to discover what roads would get you there in the quickest or most scenic way depending on your purpose. You may even consider heavy traffic, construction and any other obstacle you may face to plot your course better. Much like the above example, once you start driving you may encounter some detour you were not expecting and have to adjust your course but you would still be far better off than if you just started the engine and began to drive.
What if you are not planning a trip or adventure in the near future? This information holds true for any journey, not just those of a physical and geographical nature. If your journey be an emotional, business or even spiritual one, it would help to first seek some high ground and look at the big picture. Having a compelling vision of our final destination will make our journey easier. We can plan for the quickest or most scenic route depending on our intentions. Much like the examples above we may encounter a challenge we did not expect and have to adjust our course. We may even be forced to take a step back and gaze at the horizon several times on our journey.
Getting our bearings in life is something we must do often. Sometimes as we near the horizon we find there is more beyond. There are even occasions as we near our destination we discover it is not where we really wish to go and we must plot an entirely new course. Whatever journey we are on it is important we begin with a vision and a destination in mind. It will make our journey easer and our life more enjoyable. Check your bearings as often as you need.
“Where there is no vision, the people perish” – Proverbs 29:18
When I look at this picture one word comes to mind – FAITH. The essence of faith to me is a kind of positive perseverance. It is not for the weak and takes a great deal of strength. How, in the middle of the storm, can we have faith the sun will shine once again? The answer is surprisingly simple, because it always does. The seasons of life, much like the seasons of weather always repeat themselves.
When we are experiencing a winter period in our lives it can be hard to hold tight knowing eventually spring will come. In the depths of winter it can seem that spring may never arrive. As I write this the temperature is well below the freezing mark and there is plenty of snow. As a person with Seasonal Affective Disorder this can seem like a very dark time indeed. I have been on this wonderful planet long enough to know that eventually the temperature will rise and the snow will melt. Birds will return to sing once again and the trees will regain their leaves. Feeling this in your heart and knowing it emotionally can be a difficult thing to do.
This very same scenario is the same when it comes to dark and cold periods of our lives. It may seem things will never turn around and it will be winter forever. Of course we may very well know in our heads that is not so, but if we do not feel it in our hearts it can lead us to feeling overwhelmed and depressed.
So, how to beat these feelings, keep our faith and remain positive while waiting for things to turn around? That is the million-dollar question. There are many different things we can do to help ourselves in this arena. I have learned many of them while doing my best to deal with my S.A.D., but they work for increasing the strength of your faith as well. I suggest doing as many of these as you can. It never hurts to have another option when it comes to increasing your faith.
Surround yourself with pictures of both things that inspire you (for example I have plenty of tropical pictures everywhere during the winter) as well as pictures of your accomplishments. Knowing you overcame challenges in the past can be just the boost you need to do it in the present.
I also recommend creating a ‘Happy Playlist’ on your MP3 or even on your cell phone. When you start to feel your faith slip and you begin to wonder if the darkness will ever end, a push of the button can begin to change your state and turn things around. Also keep a great selection of inspirational material at hand. This can range from the Bible, to your favorite joke book. You can have your favorite movie that inspires you or a book of inspirational poetry. Perhaps a picture with an inspirational saying on it. Don’t have one? Take some time to shop for one. Can’t afford it? Perhaps creating one of your own could be the answer.
Speaking of creating, my last suggestion is a vision board. This is simply a board of any nature filled with pictures of both your goals you are working towards, and accomplishments you have achieved. The more you can put yourself into it, the better. Get it that dream car and go for a test drive. Photoshop yourself onto that perfect beach or in the perfect house.
Try all of these and more! If you have any other tools you use to keep a positive attitude while waiting for the dark times in life to pass please share them with us.
We have all heard the story a million times. An ordinary person rises from the ashes to become a hero, saving the day. It happens almost daily in sports. We’ve seen it in the movies. We have read about it in classic literature. How are these people different from us and what secret weapon do they use? First the good news, these people are fundamentally no different from you and I. I say fundamentally because is essence we are all the same, human. Now it is understood that some people have certain obstacles and some people have certain advantages. That was discussed in an earlier post. For the most part however, we basically all start out the same. Ok, so if we are all the same how come some people rise so above the crowd and some just trudge through life on a daily basis? Here is the secret. The heroes among us have two traits that the ‘average’ person does not have, vision and faith. Now I want you to take a moment and a really think about those two words. We will approach them separately in the days to come, but for now just think about them. Vision, we must know where we are going and the end result we are aiming for. This can be amended as we grow as individuals, but we must have an aiming point to begin. persistance, as Earl Nightengale once said, is just another word for faith. If we didn’t have faith we wouldn’t persist. It is the absolute knowing you are going to arrive where you set your mind to be. So what about all those times you have set a goal, tried and failed miserably? Truth is the only true failure is giving up. If you have faith and suddenly you are confronted with what appears to be a let down, you will know it is either a lesson to be learned or an opportunity to grow stronger. The best way to describe this would be the stories of two people I consider heroes.
First, my friend Shannon started an online group of people she wished to share her journey towards a healthier lifestyle with. At first it seemed only she and a few select others would have anything to offer to the group. Although a bit dismayed, Shannon’s passion and commitment to share what she learned persevered. Slowly, but surely people began to comment, ask questions and share their experiences. Personally I have received meal ideas, work out tips and even a few new friends through this group. In fact, as of the creation of this post I cannot go a day without interacting with someone from that group. Shannon’s vision in sharing a healthy lifestyle and all its rewards and challenges with her friends has changed the lives of countless people for the better and made her a hero.
Next there is my friend Cari. She had faced some serious personal challenges. Some of which would cause a lesser person to give up on living a rewarding life. Not this lady. Cari developed a vision of using her struggles to help people going through the same thing. This sounds easy enough, but how many of us really act on it? Cari, with the help of her church, formed a class to mentor people. They announced it, she prepared lessons, and…nobody came. She found herself a little dismayed, but her faith as to the job put on her by her creator made her dust herself off and try again. She began simply talking to people, some of them began approaching her asking for advice. She is currently developing new and amazing ways to inspire and assist people all while still healing her own life. That, my friends, is a hero.
So develop your vision. I don’t care if you are 12 or 112! Decide now what it is you would like to do with your life and begin to develop the passion and faith to make a difference. Truth is, we all have a super hero inside of us. Especially you.