DON’T HIDE

Growing up, many of us did things we thought were silly just to fit in. We wanted to be part of that certain peer group. Looking back some of these things may seem kind of foolish. One thing that we may have done as well is hide aspects of ourselves we thought people might not like. Perhaps we worried about not seeming ‘cool’ enough. We liked a movie we thought everyone might make fun of us for. Maybe there were even certain friends we didn’t speak to because they didn’t fit that cool group we were looking to be a part of.

I did a lot of stupid things while I was growing up. I think we could all claim that statement to some degree. One thing I was proud of is that I never let anyone decide who I should speak to or be friends with. Even at an early age I realized that all of us have value in different ways. To my everlasting joy this has brought more to my life to most anything else I can think of. The gift of relationships I had formed back then and since have brought me countless blessings.

One thing I did do, and continued to do through adulthood is keep some of who I am to myself. We may worry that revealing too much will leave us vulnerable and open to criticism. It is something I suppose we begin in our teens and carry with through adulthood. We don’t want those at the office thinking we are some kind of weirdo. As we grow older it seems more difficult to make new and deep friendships. I am not 100% certain as to why that might be, I suppose there are several reasons that factor in. So we hide little bits of ourselves in hopes we may not offend too many. We also do want the added drama that comes with showing our true nature. There are times when this is prudent. If you know someone has passionate and opposing views on politics or religion for example, it may be wise to avoid broaching those subjects.

If, however, we really want to develop deep and lasting friendships we should be our complete and full versions of ourselves. As long as we are not hurting others, we should let our light shine as bright as it can. This does two very important things. First, it lets people know who you really are. You may find people who share the same interests that you have you may have considered weird. Like to go ghost hunting? Do you enjoy visiting classic diners? Perhaps you have an interest in bird watching? (these are all true of me btw) The more you put this information out there, the more people will know and you will find yourself crossing paths with those who have similar interests. Even friends who might not share your exact interests, may have a different friend who does and introduce you. Attending events that center around these interests can introduce you to a whole new group of friends. This is something that seems to be difficult as we grow older. Will there be a few who still may give you a hard time or even belittle you for your interests? I am not going to lie, the answer is ‘yes’. There are simply those who haven’t grown up yet. It could be that they are doing so because they are afraid of revealing who they truly are. It could also be that they are just jerks when it comes to that. Which is information that is good to know as well.

The second, and perhaps more powerful thing that being your authentic self does is provide freedom. It can give those around you the freedom and courage to be their authentic self. Margie does this for me to this day. I can still be slightly guarded, and with her free spirit and silly humor can give me the courage to open up a little more.

What I think living life as the truest version of yourself does the best is give you personal freedom. It allows you to live life with a passion and inner joy that those who hide who they are will never fully experience. It also helps you grow and blossom to become even more of what you were born to be. If there is one thing this world needs it is people living the life they love.

In a personal example, I used to keep my self-improvement studies and interests to myself. I figured “who would be interested in this anyway?” I thought it may be to ‘new age’ for some people. I was right, but to a much smaller degree than I anticipated. This is true for almost any interest. What was interesting was that I began to include a circle of new and wonderful people from around the world who share this passion. I have been able to offer them some insight and they have done the same for me! The more of myself I let show, the more free I feel and the deeper the sense of inner peace I experience.

It takes bravery and courage to show the world who you are. The payoff is a group of friends that you can truly connect with and who when they like you, will be liking the complete and true version of who you are. It also helps you bring the most to the world in the time you are here. What is the most beautiful thing is that is provides a sense of inner peace and freedom knowing you can be loved for who you truly are. Be yourself my friends! There is no greater gift you could give yourself or the world.

YOUR 3RD STEP TO HAPPINESS

Welcome to day 3 of our happiness journey! As a quick reminder we are starting from the bottom of staircase and climbing our way to a happier and more amazing life. A quick review of day 2. Watch less, do more was our guide. As we discussed, watching can have a great deal of benefits but nothing compares to being out in the arena taking action!

Now let us get to today, day 3! This day may be one of the hardest days for a lot of people. Judge less, accept more. It can be hard for many of us to accept those who live their lives in a different manner than we feel is right. The one fact we must keep in the front of our mind is that it is their life to live. We may disagree with how they are spending their days, but it is their time they are spending. Often, some of our most passionate beliefs such as spiritual, sexual and political can be the hardest to accept someone that is different than us. One of my main goals as a writer is to help the world be more unified and accepting.

One fact that people often confuse is they feel one way can only exist in humanity. I have friends who have different sexual preferences than I do. Never, have I felt that either one of us would have to change how we are in order to be friends. Never have I thought less of them because they do. I have friends of many different spiritual beliefs. I feel their differences often show me ways to enhance and deepen my own beliefs. Politics…I seldom see the benefit to judging or trying to change anyone in this arena. As long as there exists love, I feel any other difference can be overcome. Which leads me to conclude that to limit our judgement, we do not need to work on increasing our acceptance, but on increasing our love.

One area in which I struggle with is watching others live a life that is far less than I know they are capable of. I see people act and speak in ways that often bring chaos and unhappiness into their lives. All I see is the beautiful person inside that has so much to offer the world. It can be tempting to relieve some of this frustration by offering to help them by sharing things I have learned that allowed me to turn my own life around. I must remember that this path is not for everyone and that some people are more content to live their lives in the manner in which they do. As an odd twist of fate, I found that loving and accepting those people can help them even more than the words and ideas I can share. Like I said, it is something I am working on.

If you feel comfortable sharing some of your struggles in turning judgement into acceptance in your own life, I think we all would love to hear them. Sometimes that might give others the strength and inspiration to do the same.

HOW TO ALL GET ALONG…

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This has always been one if my favorite bumper stickers. Recently the tragic events in Orlando have sparked some interesting debates. I have heard people speak out against the LGBT community,  I have heard certain people speak out against the Muslim community. There have been arguments on both side of the gun issue. There have been both praises and criticism of law enforcement and government. I even heard a republican broadcast mention the shooter was a registered democrat.

Whenever tragedy strikes people want to look for something to blame. It gives them comfort and a false sense that they can correct the ‘problem’ once they assign blame to what they think the problem may be. It is this kind of thinking that is the problem. Your sexual orientation does not make you kill people. Your ideology does not make you kill people. Certainly what political party you vote for does not make you more or less likely to commit violent acts. Yes, it would be easy (and very naïve) to say all members of this religion are bad, or if you vote in this political party you are to blame for all of the worlds ills. When I hear statements such as this it makes me think the person making them is not very well educated.

So what does cause people to harm others? To be filled with such hate that they resort to violence? It is the inability to coexist with others who are different from them. There are over 7 billion people on this planet and if we cannot get along with others who may do things that we would not every day will be a long day. I am not saying you have to be in agreement with everyone that would be ridiculous and very boring actually. Still, being able to afford others the right to believe the way they do even if we do not agree with it is a sign of a mature and cultured individual. I am not gay, but I have quite a few friends who are. To expect them to be straight because I am makes no more sense then if they were to ask me to be gay because they are. I am not Muslim so I do not celebrate Ramadan, but I certainly wouldn’t want to prevent my friends who do from doing so.

Ok, so what then is the answer to all of this senseless violence? I believe it is compassion and knowledge. For years I have encouraged people to explore other cultures and beliefs. If you do not agree with someone or something, get to know more about it. You may still not believe the same thing, but it will help you appreciate why they believe as they do. There have been several times when people I know who “hate” this group of people meet one of my friends who happen to fit into that group of people and tell me how nice they are. After they find out they belong to a group that the person believes is no good they end of feeling a little confused, silly and sometimes angry. I have even seen this with members of my own family. It is through this positive exposure that minds are slowly changed and beliefs questioned.

So what can we do? What is our part of the solution? First, learn all you can about the people you meet. Look for the good in them. Second, whatever you are, be a good one. If you are gay, be the nicest, most helpful gay person you can be. If you are a republican, be the most caring and compassionate republican you can. That is the only way you can truly change someone’s beliefs is through experience and education. Share all the positive aspects of who you are. If someone voices a strong dislike for it, try reaching them through education and compassion. If they persist in their hate all you can do is be shining example of how wrong they are and the only way to do that is by being an amazing human being.

Lastly, share this post. Let us educate everyone and let us all do our part to get along with those we may disagree with the most.

WHAT THE HELL IS WRONG WITH YOU?

Recently I was out on the town with a person very close to me and what to me seemed out of nowhere asked me a question in a rather spirited manner. “What the hell is wrong with you?” Catching me a bit of guard, I didn’t quite know what to say. Which, for anyone who knows me is a miracle itself. Although I contemplated beginning to list every short coming I thought I had I guessed they were seeking an answer to a more specific question. After requesting a little clarity I discovered what was bothering them about me that day. This was her reply “we have been to the different places today and you have went out of your way to be overly nice to everyone we have encountered. What the hell is wrong with you? Don’t you ever just do your business?” Funny thing is this was the second time this issue has been brought to my attention. It’s true in this busy world people often do not have time for any conversation that is not completely necessary. So why bother being friendly? Great question. Being friendly in the course of interacting brings a host of benefits to both parties. First of all the obvious answer is you make the person you are being nice to feel good. That is pretty straight forward. You also create a foundation for future relations. How is that possible. If you take a few extra minutes to show kindness to a stranger that person is far more likely to remember you. In any future interactions you have with that person they are likely to be far more pleasurable than if you have just conducted your business. You also build a relationship with that person which you never know when that may come in handy. We are all so interdependent it only makes sense to be in good graces with as many different people and as many people as you can. Plus, in any situation you make someone smile, you leave feeling better. Good ahead and be nice for selfish reasons! So if you find yourself not even extending a simple decent courtesy to people you encounter not to mention trying to spread joy wherever you go I must ask you a question, What the hell is wrong with you??