OPEN THE DOOR!

I have always heard the saying, “If life closes the door, open a window.” Which made sense to me. Sometimes the way we think things should work, are just not the way they do work. On occasion, we need to look for alternative ways in which to approach a situation. Never have I stopped and thought about the aspect of the actual act of a door closing. Of course, in these sayings this is actually a metaphor. Still, it holds true whether in a metaphor or in reality. If you knew inside a room was a million dollars just waiting for you, no strings attached, and suddenly the door closed in front of you what would you do? Would you say, “Oh well, that would have been nice.” and walk away? Would you start to look for that ‘window’ or another way in? In most cases, when faced with that situation in reality, the first thing most of us would do is reach out and try the door handle. If it didn’t open perhaps we would investigate why. Even if we found the door to be locked, we may try forcing it open or picking the lock.

Why is it then, when faced with this metaphorical situation in life we seldom try to open the door? Is it due to a lack of passion? Perhaps our why is not strong enough? It is said Walt Disney was turned down by 300 banks before his loan to open Disneyland was approved. That is a lot of doors that were shut on him. In some cases, past experience has taught us we cannot open the door. Maybe that was true then, but think of how much we learn each and every day. With additional skills and experience we very well could open doors that in the past remained closed to us.

Another thing to consider is perhaps we are approaching opening the door in the wrong way. Has this ever happened to you? You see a store with its lights on and the open sign on. You walk up and pull on the door, it’s locked. You look inside and see people wandering about. You pull even harder thinking the door may be stuck. No such luck. You step back to review the hours of operation on the door and find they indeed should be open. Ready to yank on the door with all of your might, you must step aside for another shopper. This person walks right through the door…by pushing it. Sadly, I must confess this has happened to me on a few occasions. Doors in life are much like this. We can pull with all of our might and never get in. If we change our approach and push with even the slightest effort, in we go.

Think of doors that have closed in your own life. Have you tried to open them? Have you changed your approach? Before we give up or start looking for a window, perhaps we should give that door a pull, and a push as well. You know, just in case.

FOR EVERY LEVEL, THERE’S ANOTHER DEVIL

I recall a few years ago having a discussion with my friend Travis. At the time we both wondered why it seemed that people who are trying to good end up with some of the worst things happening to them. It is a question that millions have pondered since the beginning of time. Why do bad things happen to good people? While pondering this I was struck with a line of inspiration, as if I was receiving an answer to that very question. It is that very answer I am excited to bring to all of you. This single answer, which Travis and I discussed at length, has changed my life and helped me survive what has been a very rough year. I hope by hearing the answer I was given, it may do the same for you and the ones you share it with. Here is what came to me after years of asking this question –

The devil doesn’t bother with you unless you are a threat

Now I am not telling you what to believe, mere how the answer was conveyed to me. Feel free to call it negative source energy, the universe whatever allows you to digest the point here. For years I looked around and saw some of the hardest working people I know faced with economic challenges. I have seen some of the most enlightened and compassionate people I know faced with illness, sickness, death of loved ones, job loss and every other imaginable obstacle you can think of. To be honest, it frustrated me. Ok,, it actually did more than that, it pissed me off. How unfair was it that all of these people who were trying to make the world a better place by either helping others, or just being a great person themselves face such tough times? Meanwhile, those who seemed not even to value the life they were given, not to mention others seemed to catch breaks? Reading that you can catch a glimpse as to the spirited conversation my friend and I were having.

Let us get back to the answer to this question. Think of politics. The parties usually argue and put down only those they feel stand a chance at costing them the election. Sports teams put the most effort into developing a plan to beat the teams that will prevent them from winning a championship. The same is true when you are trying to make the world a better, more positive and rewarding place, whether that is by directly helping others, or leading by working to be a positive example yourself. Let us think of what the world would be like if we had more kind, compassionate and enlightened leaders in the world. There are certain people who would not be very happy with that.

Sometimes it has to do with profit, sometimes it has to do with jealousy. When people succeed in anything be it financial or even inner peace and joy, it shines a light on the fact others have not succeeded in that same field. Instead of asking or working to find a solution as to how they did it and use their success for inspiration, a lot of people find it easier to tear them down as it somehow helps them feel better about their own position. Sound a bit harsh? Check out the tabloids in the grocery store. Do they ever tell you the story about the soon to be world-famous author who went out and partied and ended up wearing his girlfriends glittery top? No, his life may be no better, or even worse than yours. Achieve any kind of success and people start looking for you to fail.

This is why, when you meet a positive person understand they may have had to overcome some of the greatest struggles you have ever heard of. It is easy to be cynical or negative. It takes no courage, no persistence, no faith. Remember the title of this post, for every level, there is another devil As we make our way through life working to grow and better ourselves we will be faced with an ever increasingly difficult ‘devil’. It is there to test our resolve, to help us grow our resolve. It would be easy to just throw in the towel and resort to being negative. That is the easy way out, and that is what some are just waiting for you to do. The more you wish to do, the more you are going to have to face. It may seem like a sign to give up, but it is actually a sign that you are getting ever closer to your goal. DO NOT GIVE UP

DON’T WAIT, CELEBRATE TODAY!!

In past posts we have discussed the importance of not waiting to be happy until. In today’s post, I would like to add a caveat to that, do not wait to celebrate yourself until.

We all have people we know who are chasing worthwhile goals, or really working hard on improving themselves. These are both very noble pursuits. Ironically, these people can be the hardest on themselves, refusing to give themselves any acknowledgement or reward until the have completed the goal or reached their desired improvement.

This can actually be contrary to helping you achieve what you are attempting to do. By denying yourself reward until the very end, or being hard on yourself if you slip up can leave you feeling like a failure.

Examples? Your trying to lose 30 pounds and you eat better for a week and then you slip and enjoy a ‘taco tuesday’. Sure giving yourself a little pain will serve well to get you back on track, but beating yourself up can leave you feeling like you will never succeed. On the contrary even a verbal acknowledgement of the great week of eating could help instill pride and keep you motivated. Sure, you are not down to your goal weight, but you took steps toward a healthy lifestyle, that’s good work!

What about success goals? Maybe you want to write a book to help people live a more positive and rewarding life. You write the book, but then run into problem after problem promoting it. It is important to remind ourselves of our why. Knowing if you help a few people you could start a ripple effect and maybe change more lives than you thought.

These examples are purely hypothetical, but show how delaying recognition of our own accomplishments, even if they fall short of our end goal, can make us feel like a failure and dampen our enthusiasm going forward.

Take time to notice what you have done. Look how much further you are than a year ago, or last week, or maybe even yesterday. When you do mess up? Sure, give yourself a little bit of pain, but then use that feeling to propel you to avoid that pain in the future. Let it strengthen your resolve.

WHAT WE CAN LEARN FROM THE FARM

My grandfather was a farmer. I used to pass farms on the way to work when i was a postmaster. There is a great skill I have learned from the farming life even though I myself struggle to keep houseplants alive. That skill is patience.

Here is what farming has taught me. When a farmer plants a seed in the ground and waters it he does not come back the next day expecting a crop. In fact, he will go out every day to continue to water and fertilize that seed with little or no result to show for it. When the plant pokes through the ground he also does not expect to harvest right then and there. He nurtures that plant. He protects it from being attacked by outside forces such as insects and fungus. He continues to water and work with the plant as it grows.  Finally when harvest time comes he knows just the right way to harvest the plant for Maximum return. Even after the harvest is over the farmer realizes that one year will not sustain him and his family and begins to think about the following years planting. He begins to prepare the soil for the winter and store crops to last during those cold months.

What does all this have to do with anything other than farming? A lot of us when working on a goal whether that be losing weight, or starting a business have a tendency to give up way to soon. We, in essence, put the seed in the ground and come back the next day looking to harvest. Some of us even look at the ground after a few days and think “when I see a plant I’ll go back to watering”. Meaning if we do not see any results on our goal we stop putting forth the effort. Much like in the farming example, if we stop ‘watering’ our goals they will never grow.

There is also the temptation to want to harvest to soon. Just like the farmer who finally sees a plant begin to sprout after weeks of waiting and working, as we see our goals begin to manifest we may be tempted to want to stop working and look at what we can get from all that effort we have put forth. Of course if we do this again, the plant will not bear all the fruit it can and we will not receive all of the benefits we could. By knowing that we still have to nurture our success and build it up as it continues to grow we will resist the temptation to harvest too soon.

When time to harvest the fruits of our goals we will do so in the manor that allows us to get the most out of them. Just like the farmer harvesting enough that it will allow the plant to continue to grow as long as it can. Also like the farmer we should begin to think about the future. Storing the rewards from our harvest and beginning to ‘prepare the soil’ for next years crop. In other words, know that one success will not last a lifetime. It is progress that creates a sense of happiness and fulfillment in each of us. Let us look forward to our next great adventure and our next crop we must plant.

So when it seems as if you have been working towards a goal and you have not seen any results, think of that famer watering that seed for weeks without seeing any result. We never know what is happening ‘underneath the ground’. When we start to see our goals begin to manifest let us resist the temptation to stop working. Just as if the farmer stopped watering the plant once it broke the soil it would still die. Let us also harvest smart, knowing we must sustain ourselves for when the hard times or the ‘winter’ of our lives comes.

So enjoy this lesson from the farm. Maybe even plant a garden this spring and let it serve as a reminder of all these valuable lessons.