LEARN TO SUCK AT SOME THINGS

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Why on earth would learning to suck at some things be a good idea? Why would we feature it on a website about living an amazing life? Two very good questions. We will tackle them both in the brief paragraphs that follow.

In the picture above you see my current work area at a local Starbucks. The folder of paperwork you see to the right of my computer is my upcoming book. I had received it back from my esteemed editor Johnny L, who brought back with him from Mexico where he lives. On this draft he made several corrections in red. Most of them are grammar and syntax issues. I purposely shot this picture from far away so you can’t readily see how much red is on the paper.

When I wrote my first book, A Happy Life for Busy People, it came back with more red than black. I am happy to announce that the copy for this book did not receive the same treatment. My accomplishment is not my improvement in writing, however slight. The improvement I am most proud of is my receptivity to the corrections. Being an author is almost like giving birth to a child. I am sure many art forms are similar. I recall bringing songs to bands I was in, the feeling was the same. You worked quite hard to give birth to this special project. (The gestation period for my last book was five years) It is really a part of you. Then here comes your editor, fellow bandmates, art critics, jealous haters or a million other people telling you what you did wrong.

Those of you who are parents, imagine how it feels to hear there is something wrong with the child you created. How do you feel? Judged? Defensive? Angry? These are all natural and understandable feelings. The hard truth in all of this is that there is not only at least a little truth in the criticisms, but an opportunity to learn and grow. In trying to correct the errors in my first book after several days of looking at spelling and grammar errors I was tempted to say “F%$k it! Maybe I shouldn’t be an author if I have this many errors.”

In reflection, that was both an immature and limiting reaction. Although I can understand why I, and anyone else in a similar situation, can feel that way, it really does not serve us. First of all, by looking at ways in which what we created can be improved will undoubtedly bring a more quality product to life with our name attached to it. Secondly, the feelings of being judged, anger or defensive do not serve us emotionally and can even damage us physically. What is amazing about that? Nothing.

I have learned to understand every round of editing, every criticism only helps me become stronger and deliver a better version of me and my products to the world. I have now been a writer for nearly 10 years in some form or fashion. This is only professionally and does not take into consideration the stories my third grade teacher thought were amazing and kept for herself. This experience could leave me an entitled or aloof attitude when it comes to criticism. Instead, the more I grow as both a writer and a person in general I enjoy hearing ways I can improve. On occasion this may take some time, just ask Margie, but eventually I have learned to make every situation in life one to grow from.

When your life seems to have more red than black, be that literal or figurative, just remember it is a change to improve what you do and come back stronger. Yes, it may sting at first, but use that feeling to your advantage. A special shout out to Johnny L for having the patience to realize my fingers often move faster than my brain and to Margie who works with me as I learn and grow through life.

NEVER STOP


Here is something that takes strength to do, but can transform your life! Not being a bad person because of bad people. This is again a reminder that is is crucial that we be selective with who we surround ourselves with. It is a lot easier to not have to guard against the effect of bad people when there are no bad people around. Of course inevitably we will come across that one individual that may be so unhappy with themselves and their own life that they wish to spread that feeling to others.

You know the type, you hold the door for them to be kind and helpful and they take it as an insult that they can’t do it themselves. I have actually witnessed someone at a coffee shop screaming at the employee because they thought their coffee was 3 degrees to hot. I am not sure if they carried a thermometer in their pocket or had some super power that allowed their tongue to take accurate temperature readings to 3 degrees, but either way is that worth treating someone so harshly? I think not. I am just generally happy there is coffee that someone else made for me.
The sad part is when you hear the employee utter something about how terrible working with the public is. It is true there are a lot of sunshine-challenged people in this world, but let us not let them hold more weight than the amazing people we meet everyday. In the case of holding the door, I have been tempted to let the door shut on my ungrateful worldly neighbor at times. What would this accomplish? Adding another unpleasant person to the world is not what is needed in that situation.
I know it can be difficult to maintain a smile when it seems the world is doing its best to wipe it off your face. I do my best to remember if I respond in kind to their unpleasant treatment of me, or worse allow it to bring down my positivity, than I am letting their negativity win. That will not only prove them right in their negative thinking, thus reinforcing it, but also bring down our emotional well-being as well. Considering a negative emotional state can lead to a suppressed immune system as well as heart and digestive issues is this really worth while? Let us be a ray of light to their darkness. Never let anyone take that away from you.

YOU ARE SPEAKING A DIFFERENT LANGUAGE


This blog post was inspired by two people. First Gary Chapman, author of The 5 Love Languages. If you haven’t read this book yet I highly suggest you add it to your list of books to explore. The second person is my mother who also has not read this book and reminded me that a lot of other people haven’t as well.

Let me give you the summary of this book. Keep in mind this is the very abridged version and there is so much more amazing information to be had by reading this book. The premise of this book is that everyone expresses and receives love in one of 5 ways. This may seem confusing if you have never considered the concept before. It should be crystal clear if you ever done your best to do something loving for that special person in your life only to have them seem to be mildly affected at best, or totally unaware of what you were doing at worst.

Perhaps you have heard “I was trying to show I love you.” and thought to yourself, hopefully not out loud, “Yeah, never would have got that.” It can seem as if you and your partner are speaking two entirely different languages. In some respect you are. Hopefully, it is not shocking for you to learn men and women are different. It should also be noted every person depending on their upbringing and life experiences are different. Certain things mean more to one individual than another. All of this information should be common sense. Why is it so far fetched to think that when it comes to expressing and receiving love we can be equally as different?

In his book, Gary Chapman states that there are 5 basic ways in which people both express and receive love. They are – receiving gifts, quality time, words of affirmation, acts of service(devotion) and physical touch. Most people tend to be a mix of these to some degree, but one of them usually takes priority. For example, you may like it when your husband gives you a hug, but you really feel loved if he would help you with the dishes. You may feel loved if your wife brings you home a small gift, but it would mean a lot more if she would take the time to sit down and tell you why she loves you and what it is that you do that makes her feel loved. Maybe your examples are exactly the opposite. The point is everyone is different and that is perfectly wonderful. Complicated, but wonderful just the same.

Why take the time to learn your partners love language? The reason should be obvious, but it case you missed it we will cover it again. When you express love to your partner you want to do it in the most intense and concise manner possible. You also want your partner to feel as loved as possible. There can be very few things as frustrating as trying to be loving to your partner and they don’t feel the love you are doing your best to convey or at least not to the extent you feel your efforts warrant. It is not either person’s fault, you are both just speaking entirely different love languages.

As if this wasn’t complicated enough there is one more caveat to the equation. Nobody said love was easy, just worth it. Everyone not only receives love in a different way, they also express it in a different way as well. To make matters even more tricky, those ways may be entirely different as well. Funny thing is, we may not even realize what language we speak. Luckily, there is a quick and fun quiz you and your partner can take in the back of this book to help discover what your love languages are.

Once you learn what your partner’s love language is you can not only make them feel more loved than they have felt in a long time, but you can do so with less effort and less frustration on your behalf. If that sounds like a win/win it is because it is. As a side bonus, this works with friends, relatives and anyone else in your life, not just your partner. Knowing what makes your boss feel loved and appreciated could really help you out as well. Want to make your mother-in-law or father-in-law feel special and loved during the holidays? Learn their love languages.

There are several ways to accomplish this. Of course you could buy those you love in your life the book The 5 Love Languages. This can be pricey and in the case of your boss may be a little awkward. There are, however, other ways. First, the obvious is pay attention to what lights people up. Does a heartfelt thank you note cause their eyes to beam? Maybe picking up a small something that reminds you of them next time you are out will make them feel very special? Experiment. You will have fun as you learn and you will make people feel good while doing it. Lastly, you could buy yourself the book, learn your love languages and be better able to express what is important to you to the ones you love. Once again, they learn and you can feel more loved, win/win. You can also try working some of the questions in the quiz in your conversation with them and learn that way.

Regardless of what route you choose to go, learning your partners and your own love languages will make life more enjoyable and easier for everyone. I strongly suggest checking out The 5 Love Languages by Gary Chapman. Draw your own conclusions. I would love to hear what you take away from this amazing book.

GROWING SPIRITUALLY, CHANGING PHYSICALLY


This post comes courtesy of a conversation I had with a friend I had not seen in a long time. After exchanging the usual “Hello how are you?” I informed the gentleman he looked healthy and good. It was an honest assertation. There seemed to be more of a content look about him. It was his response that inspired this post.
“I’m good.” the young man replied. “I’m going through some stuff and when you change spiritually, you change physically.” That quote is what we are going to discuss today. If you look at the picture above it will give you a good analogy as to what spiritual growth is like. When a snake reaches a point of growth that its current skin can no longer contain, that skin is shed. For a while during this process the snake looks as if it is literally falling apart. As it is making its transition bits of skin will cling to its body until they are rubbed off revealing a shining ‘new’ snake. After sometime the snake’s skin becomes dull and the process is repeated. Another interesting fact I discovered while doing research for this post is that this process occurs six or seven times the first year and then can slow down to once a year or less.
This process is not much different than human spiritual development. When we are beginning to grow spiritually, or shed the skin of our old beliefs, we can appear as if we are coming undone. Often, there is a lack of sleep, a look of uncertainty and a general physical dishevelment. Until, at last, you achieve a look of inner peace and balance such as this man had. That is not to say everything is perfect in your life, but that you have come to peace with who you are and how that impacts your life. There are many who may not appreciate the look of the shiny new snake, especially those who have not grown to the same state you are at, or those who consider your growth a threat to themselves or your relationship with them. Sometimes it is necessary to leave them behind much like the skin the snake sheds.
Another interesting parallel was the rate of change. Much like the snakes who shed several times in the beginning of life and then do so at a reduced rate as their life progresses, we humans grow the same spiritually. As young children we absorb knowledge like a sponge. learning and taking in new ideas and beliefs at a rate that is surprising. As we grow older our learning is balanced with responsibilities and our attachment to our beliefs. Our willingness to change them slows. This is not always a bad thing, but that means our spiritual growth can take a lot longer, but it is also a lot more dramatic.
It would be great if all of us as adults could take a few weeks off of work, travel to India and meditate and study with the Dalai Lama, or whatever other spiritual adventure calls us. We could spend a few weeks shedding the skin of our outdated beliefs and emerge with a fresh and healthy new perspective. Instead, most of us have to balance spiritual growth with work, social and family obligations and a general lack of time to pursue them. This can lead us looking like we, and our lives, are totally falling apart as we feel that everything inside is beginning to fall in place.
Remember this snake analogy when you are either witnessing someone going through their spiritual rebirth, and especially when you are going through your own. As you develop new and empowering beliefs they may not fit into your current modalities. This can seem like your life is forever trying to put a round peg in a square hole. This is not only because you have changed, but because there may be things in your life that no longer serve who you are as a person. This is also life’s way of initially testing your commitment to your new beliefs. Hang in there as soon you will too reveal the shiny new more empowered you underneath the skin of the beliefs you have outgrown.

THE GREATS NEVER STOP DOING THIS

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If you would like to be considered truly great, never stop learning. This quote from Michelangelo at the youthful age of 87 proves just such a thing. It would have been understandable after all that he had created to rest on his accomplishments. Being truly great in any field takes a great deal of obsession. It becomes less of what you do and more a part of who you are. In this vein of thought I am close to being a great consumer of pizza, but I digress.
With the rapid pace of change in nearly every field, it would be foolish for anyone to think they know everything about…well…anything.

Buckminster Fuller created a scale known as the “Knowledge Doubling Curve” which as you might have guessed is how long it takes human knowledge to double. Here is what he discovered. Until 1900 the scope of human knowledge doubled every 100 years. Fast forward 45 years to the end of Word War II and knowledge doubled every 25 years or in a quarter of the time it took less than 50 years before. While that was impressive, here are the current numbers – as of 2013 knowledge doubled every 13 months! That is roughly 1/25th of the time it took in the 1950s. By the year 2020 it is estimated knowledge will double every 12…hours! In case your knowledge of math has not doubled recently, that is twice a day! By the time we wake up tomorrow the entire scope of human knowledge could be four times what is was when we went to sleep the night before!
If you are currently enrolled as a student, or trying to learn a new occupation this rate of change can sound scary. What it really represents is opportunity. With the internet people are sharing and connecting information faster and easier than ever. You could be reading this shortly after I wrote it and doing so halfway around the world. I live in a small town called West Allis in the United States, yet some of my most ardent followers come from India, Canada and various tropical islands I did not know existed, but are not on my travel list. With Artificial intelligence we are learning to predict and map human behavior in many different ways.
To some, this may sound intimidating and even a little ‘big brotherish’ but with knowledge comes responsibility. We can use this knowledge to serve and create or to enslave and destroy. That is why I encourage all of you reading this blog to learn as much as you can. Effort and knowledge are the two great equalizers. With today’s technology change is right around the corner and it is at the fingertips of every person with access to a local library.
Be like the great artist above. When your 87th birthday rolls around let us hear you proclaim, “I am still learning.”