Isn’t it funny how some of the best inspiration can come from the most peculiar places. You could be in the drive through or waiting in line at the market and all of a sudden that award winning “ah-ha” moment hits you like a 17′ U-Haul truck. You pick your self up off the ground and check the seat of your pants making sure they weren’t soiled in the act of this spontaneous moment of genius. When Inspiration hits, it hits hard and its a beautiful thing.
As human beings we love meaningful conversation! This is a truth I think we can all agree upon. I, personally, strive to surround myself with a peer group that will indulge this sweet tooth, and when this occurs I light up like a Christmas tree! One of my favorite topics to discuss is, the way we perceive the world and the occurrences that we come upon each and every day. Life is full of ups and downs, but its how we choose to respond thats the key to our happiness and fulfillment.
Im known for being an extremely positive individual. Its who I am, and I’ve often told people I can find the gift in just about any situation that is presented. With this being said, I must explain that I don’t just ignore the negatives that we all encounter through this journey we know as life. To dismiss these encounters is to only experience a portion of life, because it is only when we embrace negativity and adversity and overcome it that we can move forward towards our goals, dreams and ultimately the best-version-of-ourselves. The keyword however is embrace, not empower or dwell upon.
“Dwelling on the negative simply contributes to its power” ~Shirley MacLaine
This has been a reoccurring subject lately, specifically in two very powerful conversations with two very good friends of mine. The first was with a friend and client of mine Kris Mathis (KrisMathis.com) an outstanding speaker and author out of my hometown of Grand Rapids Michigan. The other was with my pastor, mentor and dear friend Trent Booth (LifeWalk Church). This topic of conversation is a common occurrence throughout my circle of friends and influence, but what I found to be interesting was the subject of the book “The Secret” by Rhonda Byrne that was brought up in both conversations. If your unfamiliar with the book its discusses the idea of the “Law of Attraction”, being if you think about anything hard enough and picture it happening it will happen to you.
Before I dive into the thoughts of my recent discussions, realize I do believe this book brings up some valid points, however I also feel it is one sided. And although I don’t entirely agree with all the view points stated throughout the book I do believe in the idea of your thoughts largely impacting your life, and the idea of choosing what you think about wisely, which I’ve discussed in recent blog posts.
Going back to my conversations this last week, the topic that was brought up was the idea of adversity and negativity and how we react to it. This is one of the issues we had with the book, is the fact that its focused on nothing but the positive, and if we just think positive thoughts we can have anything we want as if we found some genii to grant our every wish. The positives are great, and you should absolutely put emphasis on them, but as I stated above, to dismiss any negativity or adversity would be ignorance. Any goal or dream worth having is going to have adversity along the way. The bigger the goal, the bigger the obstacle! To just sit in front of such adversity and pretend it doesn’t exist would never get you towards your goal. And this is one of the main reasons why people fail to hit their dreams, is because of resources like “The Secret” sugar coating the truth and not allowing people to realize that there are going to be obstacles along the way. In fact we are shaped with this sort of thought process from the time we were young kids. Its true you can be anything you want to be, but what we leave out is that it takes perseverance to accomplish their dreams. Its as if we feel we will scare kids out of their dreams, so rather than empowering them with the tools they need to encounter these hurtles we provide the “yellow brick road” version.
“Adversity tests us from time to time and it is inevitable that this testing continues during life” ~Walter Annenberg
I agree that we should focus on the positives, but thats not to say we refuse to shine light on the negatives as well. We need resources that will send the message that adversity will show up at different levels along our journey. And even more important than that is when it does show up that we don’t try to ignore it or sweep it under the rug, but instead we embrace it with open arms, knowing that its all part of the process. The reality is we need the adversity, it makes the dream worth having. It molds us into the persons we need to be to accomplish the goals we set out to hit. It allows us to stand at the finish line and look back knowing it wasn’t easy, and thats what made it worth it.
“A man is insensible to the relish of prosperity until he has tasted adversity” ~Rosalind Russell
Live Life :: Love Life
So I admit I’ve been slacking severely in my blogging lately. I could try and blame it on being busy in other areas of my life, and that “I just haven’t had the time to write”. But the truth of the matter is I’ve been lazy… not much more I can say than that. Its as my pastor often says “You have time for what you make time for”. This is very true in all areas of our life, think about how often we try and sell our friends, family, colleagues and even ourselves at times, that we are to busy to do this or that. Many times we push tasks or events to the side that are an integral part of our life, tasks that if done would help us feel more fulfilled and lead us to the Best-version-of-ourselves, but instead we fill this time with useless wastes of time and “filth” like Facebook and tv.
So I caught my self today, doing something that I know most of us have been guilty of in the past. I was out on the beach chillaxin, as us beach boys like to say, but instead of enjoying the spectacular beauty around me, I was on my blackberry feeding my unfortunate Facebook addiction. When I finally pried my attention away from my screen of useless status updates, I looked to the sky and seen an amazingly surreal like picture of a perfectly molded cloud highlighted by the suns rays, who still energetic despite their 93 million mile journey they’ve just sustained (Thats 150 million kilometers for those outside the states), were shining through the particles in the sky causing visible rays of golden light as if God him self was playing a game of hide and seek behind this Cumulous mass. It was at this moment that I realized that, had I kept meaninglessly feeding my attention into my phone I would have missed this absolutely stunning event that was occurring whether I was present at the moment or not. Moments later the clouds moved along down the shoreline, testing other beach goers attentions Im sure, and I was left to sit on the beach and ponder this idea of how more often then not we remove ourselves from the present whether intentionally or unintentionally.
“Present-moment living, getting in touch with your now, is at the heart of effective living. When you think about it, there really is no other moment you can live. Now is all there is, and the future is just another present moment to live when it arrives.” ~Wayne Dyer
Think about how often we remove ourselves from the present moment. How often are you in a conversation with someone and your mind begins to drift into thoughts of what would, could or should. How many times have you heard someone say “Im sorry I didn’t catch that, could you say it again”. Or even worse how many times have you seen someone in the middle of a conversation pull out their phone to check a text that just came in? Maybe you’ve done this in the past, I know I have unfortunately. One of the new commons in Restaurants is to see a table of unengaged teens all having their own mini conversations on their Droids, Iphones and blackberries. The only conversation that happens between them is the brief exclamations of what one of their friends just tweeted or posted on Facebook. Other times it may be that you were completely disengaged from the entire day. Have you ever sat down for the evening and tried to recollect the days happenings and came to a blank, as if the day had hardly existed at all.
We far to often disconnect ourselves from the present, in order to either chase after an idea that something technology wise is in desperate need of our energy and attention, or it could be that we’ve spent the day worrying about something in the past, or dreading something in the future. Its strange actually, they have done numerous studies to prove that our emotional state of mind and stress levels of when we are worrying about or dreading something that has happened or may happen, is the same as when the situation actually happens. So that means that each time we are thinking about that situation, emotionally we are either reliving it, or living it over and over before it has even happened. Now obviously this isn’t to say that you should go through life without a plan, or to never think about what has or will happen. My point is to be present with life around you and don’t let your mind draw you away from the beauty of life, whether it be the scenery or even the conversations and people around you.
“Yesterday is history, tomorrow is a mystery, today is God’s gift, that’s why we call it the present” ~Joan Rivers
Life is much more fulfilling when living in the present. Like the sound Ben Stein’s famous monotoned role call from the movie Ferris Bueller’s Day Off… Are you living in the present, or is life calling out your name?
Live Life :: Love Life
I admit it!! I forget to listen to my own advice at times. Sometimes we get so caught up in our personal circumstances that we forget that we may already have the answers/solutions were looking for. In my opinion, I feel that if we were to remove ourselves from most of the biggest struggles we have in life and look at them from a distance we would realize that the situation itself isn’t too overwhelming at all. Chances are we are just giving too much energy to the wrong side of the situation, or it could be that we shouldn’t be giving the situation energy at all. I have found that one of the best ways to pry our attention away from the struggles in our mind and life is to switch our focus and energy over to a state of gratitude! Its very difficult to focus on anything negative when your mind is overwhelmed with grateful thoughts!
“When you are grateful fear disappears and abundance appears” ~Anthony Robbins
Tonight… I am full of gratitude!!! Regardless of what ever circumstances you may be facing right now, realize you live a wonderful and blessed life!! Be sure to take time to bask in all you have to be grateful for.
Live Life :: Love Life
This year has had many exciting highlights thus far. One of these highlights would have to include my recent move, at the beginning of this year, from a small farm town in Michigan to a drastically different beach town just outside Virginia Beach, Virginia. It was a very exciting move for me, as I have always dreamt of enjoying beach life. In fact as I write this post, I sit in a hammock on the beach watching the sun set! I don’t take it for granted one bit, and am grateful everyday to be in this position.
This weekend my good friend and neighbor, Clinton, had some friends and family out from his home state of West Virginia. Great guys, who I now have the pleasure of calling friends. One of the things I noticed happen throughout this weekend though, was that his friends kept pointing out various ways in which they seen Clinton had changed since living back home not but six months ago. They pointed out things like how he uses “Dude” quit often, and never used to use it back home. We retaliated with the joking idea that when you live on the beach you have to use the terms “Dude” “Man” and “Bro”, and that its just part of beach life. They continued to point out how we didn’t like to be indoors, and spent the vast majority of the weekend outside being active on the beach, not that it was an issue but an observation none the less. Again we explained it comes with the territory.
These comments got me thinking about a message I used to deliver to my Sales Reps, when I was a District Manager with Vector Marketing and Cutco Cutlery, about how we are, as W. Clement Stone so excellently put it, “Products of our environment”. Now if you’ve read my previous posts, you know I talk a lot about the topic my favorite author Matthew Kelly calls becoming the Best-version-of-yourself. So the main questions to ask yourself here are, “What kind of Environment am I placing myself in?” and “Is this Environment moving me closer to my goals or my best self?”. Just as living on the beach has in ways altered the way my friends and I speak and spend our time, the environments we place ourselves in on a daily basis mold and shape the way we think and act.
“Man is a Child of his environment” ~Shinichi Suzuki
My previous post talked about the decisions we make in life and how we can control these decisions and use them to move us closer to our best selves. What kind of environment we choose to place ourselves in is quit possibly one of the most important decisions we can make in our journey. Our mood, attitude, productivity as well as a great deal of other variables are often directly related to our current environment. Its easier to make wise choices in life, or have a more positive attitude, when you’ve placed yourself in a proper environment that not only allows this type of behavior, but also promotes it. In fact, more times than not, a simple change in environment can catapult you towards your goals and visions, as well as give you a whole new attitude on a current problem, project, or even just life in general. At the same time an improper change in environment can drastically hinder your ability to achieve your objectives or obtain your goals.
“There are two ways of being creative. One can sing and dance. Or one can create an environment in which singers and dancers flourish.” ~Warren G. Bennis
Often times people assume, when discussing this subject, that their environment consists of just the place setting that they are in. Though this is a part of your environmental influence, theres so much more to it. Simply put, your environment is EVERYTHING that you subject yourself to! The place setting you put yourself in, the shows you watch on television, the music you listen to, the people you place around you, the books you read etc. Notice how each of these examples are worded, because the truth is you control these variables. You choose what you will watch on t.v., or if you even watch t.v. You choose which people you will give your time too, and which you will limit time with. Creating the proper environment for your success will eventually turn into a second nature habit, but like any other habit it must first be practiced consciously on a consistent basis. After being aware of your surroundings and responding with whatever change may be necessary you will begin to see the benefits that a proper surrounding will have on all areas of your life.
In future posts we will discuss environments in your life right now that may be effecting your attitude, creativity, productivity, as well as your energy and passion.
Feel free to leave a comment below. I look forward to hearing your thoughts on the subject, as well as any personal stories in which you witnessed the power of your environment whether for the better or worse. Also be sure to subscribe to the blog in order to be one of the first to be alerted when a new post arrives. Thank you for sharing your time to look into this subject with me. Until the next post Enjoy the Journey!
Live Life :: Love Life
We do it hundreds of times through out the day… Often times without even giving it much thought. It has shaped and molded our lives into what they are right now. It is because of your decisions you have made in the past, that you are the person you are today. I’ll say that again, your past decisions are the reason you think and behave the way you do.
You often hear people debate this idea as they try and pass off the way they think and act to the situations they had come across in the past. The reality is its not the situations, but the way you chose to respond to the situation that made you the person you are today. Its as Anthony Robbins says:
“Its your decisions, and not your conditions, that determine your destiny”
Now if your anything like me this can, at first, be a hard pill to swallow. You mean to tell me I am who I am today because I decided to be this person? I mean of course I will take credit for my success’s, but that means I have to take credit for my “failures” as well. This is difficult for many people, as most are conditioned to find an outside force to place the blame of our loses and faults on. Its like when a child commonly resorts to the o’ so clever excuse of “He made me do it”. No little Johnny didn’t make him put sand in sarah’s hair. Even though Johnny may have come up with the plan, it was that child’s choice to follow through with it.
So, now that we have come to the sometimes startling realization that in order for us to change into the person we want to be, we have to take ownership of the person we are right now, our failures just as much as our success’s, where do we go from here? How can we control our decisions in order to work towards the person we want to be?
Well, first of all lets examine the question of “What does the best version of yourself look like?”. No this isn’t a question of whether your best self looks more like Brad Pitt or Daniel Craig, this simply means envisioning what it means to YOU to be the person you want to be. And yes physical fitness, and even appearance may be a part of that vision, but thats only a small part of what it means to know where you want to go. You must have a good idea of your purpose in life in order to know what directions and decisions you need to make in order to get there! My absolute favorite author Matthew Kelly writes a great deal about this subject. It wasn’t until reading his books that I learned to focus on the Best-version-of-myself, and since then I have enjoyed a more focused fulfilled life. Some fantastic books by him on this subject are The Rhythm of Life and The Dream Manager. Both focus on separate subjects to help you live a more focused and passionate life. You can find used copies for cheap on Barnes and Nobles Marketplace section of their site (Im all about buying recycled books!!).
So now that we have looked into what it means to be the person we want to be, base your decisions from here on out off of that vision. Create an emotional connection with the Best-version-of-yourself and refuse to accept anything less! Ask yourself constantly “Is this bringing me closer to the person I want to be”. Is this burger and coke getting me closer to my six pack abs? Is watching this t.v. show getting me closer to my financial freedom? Is staying out all night getting me closer to my ideal health? By relating your decisions back to the vision you created for your better self, you can create the habit of making better, wiser decisions. So it boils down to creating the vision of your best self and respecting yourself enough to settle for nothing less.
“Self-respect is the root of discipline: The sense of dignity grows with the ability to say no to oneself.” ~Abraham Joshua Heschel
So here we have laid out the basic ideas of better decision making in order to reach your best self. This is obviously a very complex subject, and really we have only scratched the surface. Again I strongly suggest reading Matthew Kelly’s books listed above to further your knowledge on moving towards your dreams and the person you were truly meant to be. I hope if anything this has inspired you to pay attention to your decision making process, and realize that with every decision you make you are sculpting your future. The question is “Is the future your sculpting on a daily basis the future you truly want?”
I’ll finish this post off with this, although making proper decisions can at times seem difficult, in the end it is always more rewarding. But at the same time make sure your rewarding yourself with other prizes along the way. Your journey to your best self should be an enjoyable one. Be sure you recognize your personal achievements for the strives you make towards this greater version of yourself.
Be sure to leave a comment below. I look forward to hearing your thoughts on this subject, as well as ways you have found to be helpful in controlling your decisions. We will probably dive further into this topic in future posts, but until then keep moving forward, and enjoy the journey!
Live Life :: Love Life