One thing that I think we can all agree we are growing weary of is what seems to be the growing rate of violent crime in our world today. As I write this there are reports from the great state of Maryland of a shooting at a newspaper office where 5 people were killed and others were injured. It seems every night you turn on the news, or every morning you pick up the newspaper you read about senseless violence where someone has lost their life. Is this a result of better technology in communicating these crimes? Is it the result of the internet making this a smaller world? Are we becoming less tolerant? Are we becoming desensitized to violence and death due to media and video games? I imagine the answer is probably a little of all the above.
With all of the consumption of negativity you can find yourself feeling quite down. With more people reading more stories of violence we could quickly find ourselves living in a world of people depressed and losing hope. It is my belief that this lack of hope and barrage of negative news can push people who are on the edge to slip into a world of violence.
What is the solution? Are we to bury our heads in the sand and pretend all of this is not happening? The answer is both yes and no. Certainly you need to be aware of your world and what is transpiring, but you do not need to be inundated with it. You must ask yourself if reading every article on every mass shooting will do anything to enhance your life? What it will do is drain your spirit. This is why this and many other sites advocate limiting or better yet eliminating consumption of nightly news. There are apps for weather, sports or anything else you may need to know.
Is there something that we can do that is proactive? The simplest thing we can do is also one of the most powerful and also one of the most difficult. Do not let the constant feeding of negativity get us down. Easier said than done, but it can happen. When I hear of stories of great tragedy in the news I always look for the helpers. A secret I learned from Mr. Rogers. Eventually and in some way tragedy has a way of bringing the best out of some people and bringing people together. If you can’t find a helper, or even if you can, focus on being one.
When I hear of violence or some other tragic news story I know there is even more importance in what I do. The world needs more of a balance of positive to the negative. This was the very reason I began what I do. When I hear of violence in the world I use it as a stark reminder I have far more work to do, and urgent motivation to reach more souls. Victims and their families and friends are not the only people who need encouragement. Those committing the crimes may feel there is no hope. If only they knew they were people who care, even if they are half a world away.
This is where you come in. My words can’t reach everyone. Especially Iceland and Greenland who seem to be two countries I just cannot reach. What we need to do is all work on becoming lights to the world. Whether it is meeting your neighbors as discussed in last week’s post, sharing this blog or just encouraging someone who needs it. Let us all remember it is only light that can remove the darkness.
Who the hell are you? Chances are you had to stop a second and think of the answer to that. What did you come up with? Was your identity attached to your occupation? Was it defined by your family life? Perhaps you chose your faith to define who you are. It is amazing how little focus we spend on who we are. Even less on who we desire to become. Here is a great secret, you have power over that. What do I mean by this? Let me share with you a simple exercise I learned that can help us become the type of person we desire to be. First ask yourself who you wish to be. Keep it simple. One word answers. Come up with three. Once you get started it can be easy to keep going, but pick the 3 most powerful ones for you. By most powerful I mean the ones you really wish to be defined by. Perhaps you wish to be a driven person, but all you seem to drive is other people crazy. write it down. Maybe you want to be energetic, but the only energy you use is the batteries in the remote? write it down. Maybe you would just like to be a happy joyous person, but life always seems to knock you down. write it down.
So now you have a list. In our example it would be driven, energetic and happy Here is all you do, much like the questions from yesterdays post, in fact you can have them on the same sheet of paper, read these three words three times a day. upon waking, before retiring and at least once a day. In addition, read them whenever you seem to be off track. Feeling to lazy to change a channel and find yourself feeling like spending the day on the sofa? Read your list. The boss have you so mad you are seeing red? read the list. It is like reminding yourself of who you are. Not who you want to be, but who you are. It may seem like you are lying to yourself, but deciding who you want to be is a new practice for most of us and our brain may need a gentle reminder.
Again I encourage you to try this for 30 days. If you pair it with the questions from yesterdays post your life is on the fast track to positive change. In a month you will not even recognize the person staring back at you in the mirror! Please stop back and share your results
I heard an interesting story about a philosophy Pat Riley the NBA coach and front office person shared about winning. The same thought can be applied to the even more challenging game of life. He discussed the difference between and excellent game, and game excellence. Which one are you striving for? In order to answer that question I guess we should begin by defining those two terms. Let’s tackle an excellent game. An excellent game means you train for a particular game and give it your all for that one game. Rivalry games come to mind in this example. How does this pertain to life? Think of a first date? You spend so much energy picking out the perfect place to go, or the perfect outfit. You make sure you have your best jokes at the ready, breath fresh and every possible emergency covered. What happens if you happen to have the good fortune of dating that person several years later? “What do you want to do? Order a pizza and stay home and watch television?” How about a job interview or first day on the job? You try to do your best on every little detail. Pay close attention to how you present yourself, the words and things you say at the office. A couple of years down the road? “Damn I don’t want to go to work, one more time with the snooze button” This happens to each and every one of us. Once we accomplish that goal such as having the affections of that attractive person we have been chasing, or finally getting that dream job. Once we have them we kind of let ourselves go. Not always intentionally. Perhaps we take things for granted. The funny thing is if you ask yourself honestly do you still deserve your partner as much as you did during that time you were trying to convince them that you were the one? Are you still the employee for of promise and hard work that company hired that day? If you are, congratulations to be sure! Chances are you mind find yourself lacking in a few areas. We all do. So what is game excellence and how does it differ? an excellent game focuses on massive action to accomplish a certain end and having a great game, which has its place. Game excellence is the constant daily focus on the small details daily to improve the player. How does this relate to life? At home, are you constantly listening to your partner to gather new information and compare it with what you already know about them in an effort to find new ways to make them happy and strengthen the relationship? At work, are you constantly looking for ways you can do your job better and save the company time and money? For my sports fan followers I compare that to watching film. Looking for ways to increase your value as a player or in real world terms as a person. So this weekend ask yourself “Am I shooting to have an excellent game, or to have game excellence? Am I looking to have a great night or to become a great person?” I certainly learned a lot from that interview I hope you did too.
Every Friday I try to leave you all with something to ponder. This came to me ironically while pulling out of my parking space leaving our fine state fair. I was backing up and looking in the rear view mirror. The I shifted into drive, but before I could start to pull away some people were yelling right outside my window and took my attention away for a second. When I saw that it was nothing serious I went back to focusing on leaving my parking space. Forgetting I had already put it in drive, I looked in the rear view mirror and took my foot off the accelerator. Imagine my surprise when the car began to move forward! I immediately applied the brake and thought “That could have been bad” Mind you all this took a second, but as I did pull out of my parking thought I was struck with what a powerful metaphor this is for life. Can you imagine trying to drive forward to work, while only looking in your rear view mirror? First it would take forever and second you would be extremely lucky if you arrived at all. Now what does this have to do with living an amazing life? What struck me, which was luckily not another car, was how many of us do this on a daily basis over and over again? I am not saying the road is filled with crazy drivers, although some days that is debatable. What I am saying is this, how many of us are striving toward a new future while focused on the past? It just doesn’t work. How many times have we heard friends, or even ourselves say “The last person I dated was dishonest so I am going to have a hard time trusting in my new relationship” You are staring in the rear view mirror focusing on your past hurts until BAM! your current relationship crashes due to your ‘trust issues’. How many future ideas and adventures have you passed on because you were focused on past failures? I’m not saying we shouldn’t learn from our past and adjust for the future or even just look back to admire where we were and how far we have come. Just like in driving where you are supposed to ‘glance in the rear view mirror every eight seconds’ I suggest that is what you do with life. You’ll have a lot better results when focused on what is around you and what is coming at you. Remember you can never drive into the future looking into the review mirror. Oh, and as a side note, please use your turn signal.
One of the many perks that occurs as you embark down the path of a positive life is this, you start to find inspiration everywhere. For example, I received a kindle for my birthday last year. It has saved me tons of room in my already over-crowded personal library. One of the other fabulous things it comes with is some games to play when you just feel like relaxing. Solitaire has always been one of my favorites. I used to play with my Grandmother when she was alive. We would spend a solid afternoon just relaxing and playing cards. It was a good time to discuss whatever was on our mind and I am forever thankful for those memories. So the portable electronic version is quite handy. No need for a lot of space or a deck of cards. It keeps the mind sharp and provides entertainment as you wait at the doctor, dentist or other such fun places. Ok, that is all well and good, but what does this have to do with inspiration? Great question. The other day I had noticed a few lessons I can take from the game and apply them to life. First the hand you are dealt. Sometimes you begin with a hand that looks like you are doomed before you begin. Such can be the case in life as well. We are born in the wrong economy, or on the ‘wrong side of the tracks’. Many people use these as justifications. What they really are is excuses. Much like in the game of solitaire, a few right moves and we can turn things around completely. I have started a game thinking there is no way I’ll win this hand, but sure enough I just keep playing and I come out a winner. So when looking at a situation that seems impossible I think of that card game and remember sometimes the worst deal can lead to the best game.
Another fabulous feature of the electronic version is at the very bottom of the screen it has a little ‘help’ button. Sometimes I can’t seem to find a move and I think I have lost the game. I push the little help button and it shows me one little move I may have missed. Suddenly one move leads to two, two moves lead to three and so on. Before you know it I have won the game. Ok, I can only imagine what your thinking. Unlike the staples commercials or this game, life does not have an ‘easy’ or ‘help’ button. On the contrary, it does. These help buttons are called friends, co-workers, books. Sometimes it even comes in the form of just taking a break or step back and examining our path so far.
So remember, when you think you have been dealt a losing hand or the game has been lost. Keep playing. Push the help button if you need to. You never know when you will come out a winner.
The very last lesson I learned from this one simple game? Even if you do find yourself a ‘loser’ in one particular game, you can always deal a new hand and start over. There is always the next game. May all your games be victories today!
We left off last week discussing looking at all we have to be grateful for verses all that is wrong. We discussed how to do it with other people. We discussed how to do it with things and situations in our life. Now we are going to discuss one of the most important ways to apply this principle, with ourselves. I was hanging out with a very beautiful friend of mine the other night and out of the blue she says “I am so unattractive right now”. I set down my cup of coffee to try to figure out where this random statement came from. “Why?” was pretty much all I could muster. She went on to explain that she thinks nobody would find her attractive because in the last year she has gained 30 pounds. Now I would have never guessed that to be the case, but taking her at her word I asked her several questions. Do you like your make-up? How is your fashion sense? Do you always shower and try to look nice? With the exception of an occasional roll of the eyes she had to say yes to all of them. Just because we have one flaw does not make us a flawed person. We all have strengths, we all have weaknesses. What seems odd to me is as a culture we seem to address these issues backwards. Focusing all of our energy on our faults as we see them can only lead us to feeling inferior and depressed. Now I am not saying if you do have an issue to work on that you should ignore it, not at all. Work on it, but do not focus on it. We should do our best to focus on our strengths to use the natural skills we have to bring the maximum amount of greatness to the world. As we do we stand the best chance of helping others and our confidence will soar. Knowing how well we can do things will put us in a far better frame to address the concerns we have with the other aspects of our lives. Then when we look in the mirror and see those faults, just as we did with others we will understand it is the situation, not the person we are unhappy with.
Quite often the hardest thing about starting any project is knowing where to start and those all to important first steps. In fact, one of my biggest stumbling blocks that I am always working to overcome is getting to far ahead of myself and becoming overwhelmed. So where to begin if you find your life to be in a rather dark place? What if you have never made an effort to consciously live a more positive life? Even if you are just looking for a simple basic step to add to everything you already are trying. Remember different things work for different people. Try as many as you can. This next one comes from a very close source…my mother. As we were discussing ways to be more positive she came up with what I think is an easy and straight forward method to help nurture and develop a positive outlook and bring more joy into your life. The complex tools needed for this task? A pocket-size notebook and a pen. The time required for this project? A few seconds every day for about a week. Here is the game plan. Pick a day, any day, be it Monday, or Sunday or Friday. The day only matters as a start and end point. Now the night before you are going to start make sure you have a pen and paper handy. Put it on a table beside your bed, so you see it first thing in the morning. Now upon waking that day grab your pen and paper and put it in your pocket. Throughout the day whenever something good happens to you write it down. It doesn’t have to be an exact description, just enough to remember what it was. “Traffic good on way to work” would do. This is just for your own viewing so as long as you understand it is all that matters. Repeat this throughout the day as you notice anything positive occurring for you no matter how small or silly it may seem at the time. “Heard a joke and it made me laugh” “Coffee tasted really good” If you forget something at the moment or don’t have time that second, write it when you do. There are no rules and the only one seeing this is you. Now before you retire for the evening, review your list. Try and remember the moments and how you felt. This does two things. One, it will probably do wonders for your dreams that evening. Also, it helps us put life in perspective and shift our attention to the positive. So what happens if you only have one or two things that first day? Nothing. That is beautiful. You stopped to appreciate two beautiful moments in your life. Repeat this for about a week. Note what happens. By focusing on the positive things in life, it helps reduce stress and increase joy. Without getting too much into how the law of attraction works, I would say it would be a safe bet that your list will be longer on day 2, then on day one and longer on day 7 then on day 5. Now you will excuse me I need to go buy a pocket-sized notebook