Blog Post # 141 – Eyes on the Horizon

What is our vision for ourselves?

Where do we want to be 3 months from now? 12 months? 3 years?

Are we content with just piddling along without a plan?

More specifically, how do we find a balance between living contentedly in the moment AND working towards a better future?

I often wonder about this balance.

When I spend too much time thinking about the future and designing grand plans, I feel ungrateful for not living in the moment.

Conversely, when I am focused on being happy in this moment, I wonder if I should be doing more to plan a better future for our family.

Ahhh …. the joy of conscious living.

But the two need not be mutually exclusive.

For the micro-decisions that we make in the moment undoubtedly impact our future.

Example: if we eat poorly every day, we gain weight and it impacts our future health.

If we save a little more money each day, our bank account will be a that much higher down the road.

The trick then is to be content with what we have now, but to continually strive to make minor tweaks to our present self to work towards our better future self.

No conflict.

Just conscious of where we are in the moment and where we would like to be in the future.

Keeping our eyes on the horizon without chastising ourselves for not reaching it just yet.

Blog Post # 140 – Circumstances Beyond Our Control

Sometimes things don’t go our way.

People let us down.

Our picnic gets rained out.

A thunderstorm knocks out our electricity.

These things are going to happen.

We can fight it or accept it.

Our reaction won’t change reality, but it can change our emotional state.

If we walk through the world with an understanding that success is fleeting and that every moment we have is a gift, we will react to adversity much differently than if we walk around with a victim mentality.

It is so very easy to get upset when things don’t go our way.

Woe is me. Poor little me. This is SO unfair.

We don’t have to be all Pollyanna-ish, always looking on the bright side of things.

But rather, to understand that there is an ebb and flow to our days. Sometimes things go well and sometimes they don’t.

To be ready and accepting of either outcome.

Otherwise, we give away our power. We transfer our happiness to other people or to circumstances beyond our control.

Instead of trying to control our outcomes, let us instead try to maintain some control over our reactions instead.

That way we will be ready for anything.

Blog Post # 139 – What Do We Say?

We say we are grateful, but are we really grateful?

Do we even understand how incredibly lucky we are?

To have what we have.

To be alive.

To share connections with the people around us.

We say we are tolerant, but are we truly tolerant?

Do we accept others as they truly are, without concern regarding how we wish they would change?

To know them and love them no matter what.

To gently encourage instead of dictating different behavior.

To be with others without any agenda.

We say we love ourselves, but do we place conditions on that self love?

Do we know in our core that our mistakes do not define us?

To be comfortable in our own skin?

To reflect upon our wonderful, unique qualities.

To accept ourselves as we are today, not opine for an uber-version of ourselves tomorrow.

What do we say? And what do we do?

To the extent that we can get those two realities to converge, we find our true selves.

Blog Post # 138 – A False Assurance

We sometimes think that we do not need a plan because we already know what to do.

We do not need a regimen because we know that we should exercise.

We do not need to plan our meals because we know that we should eat healthy.

But here’s the thing:

A precise and focused, written plan puts us in a stronger position to succeed.

Nebulous, fuzzy goals generate nebulous, fuzzy results.

I once set a goal to create 90 YouTube videos in 90 days.

Every day, I checked a box on a desk calendar to demonstrate that I had completed my YouTube video for that day.

My job then was to keep checking the box and marking out each day.

At the end of 90 days, I had completed my goal.

For years, I had said that I needed to take up running and exercise more.

My enemy – although I did not know it – was that I believed that because I knew that I should run more, I would automatically run more.

Simply knowing what we need to do is not the same as doing what we need to do.

Our rationalization muscles are strong – we lean back and tell ourselves that we already know what we need to do in order to accomplish our goal.

But this is a false assurance.

An empty self-deception.

Action is what we need … and maybe to be a little less sure about what we need to know.

Blog Post # 137 – Who Knows You?

Who knows you?

I mean really knows you.

Who is the one person who can call you out when you have gone off track?

I mean can tell you by a look, a sigh or a few words that you are actually full of crap.

It is certainly fine to try and hold ourselves accountable by reflecting on our goals and assessing where we are versus where we want to be.

But having that ally, that confidant, that person who knows us better than we know ourselves is invaluable if we are trying to better ourselves.

You might be able to fool yourself some of the time, but you have to have someone who can see you as you really are and offer honest, constructive feedback on you and your life.

Be grateful for this person.

Thank this person.

Try to help this person as much as they help you.

When I find myself stuck or making the same mistakes more than once, it really helps to have someone to bounce my kooky thoughts off of.

Helps me get those thoughts out of my head.

Lets me refocus and recalibrate.

To move on.

I often find that the more I share of my struggles, the less power that they have over me.

The less damage that I can do.

For today, I plan on thanking my confidant. And sharing a little more.

Blog Post # 136 – Power Down

We don’t have to be always on.

Always performing a task, always pushing ahead.

Here’s to slowing down, enjoying the view and taking some time to reflect and observe.

Go, go, go can result in lots of things getting done.

But there is certainly something to be said for relaxing.

Spent some time recently with some friends who have a nice, gentle way about them.

Helped me see that taking our time has its own benefits too.

Not every issue is earth-shattering, not every goal must be achieved by 5 p.m.

The tasks, the to-do’s, the check boxes – all have an important place in effective living.

That being said, when we burn through life in this fashion, it is easy to miss out.

To not see the wildflower, the baby deer nor the shooting star.

For today, let us share a little downtime – we may have to schedule it – but let’s turn down the volume, take deep breaths and understand in our heart of hearts that the things that need doing will get done and that it is okay for us to take our time.

To take those breaths.

To reflect on the gifts that we have been given.

To power down.

Blog Post # 135 – Instruments of Peace

Can we love each other?

Can we move through this world and see our similarities and not our differences?

To love each other despite our differences.

To, dare we dream, even love our differences.

Only love can conquer hate.

Empathy for our fellows is one of the things that makes us human.

To care for an elderly neighbor, to visit the sick, to forgive.

In a time of such immense negativity and hateful rhetoric, what can we do ourselves to change the conversation?

Can we spread peace where there is discord?

Can we speak more softly, listen more carefully and talk a whole lot less?

It is so very easy to be ruled by emotion – to send off an angry tweet – to be self-righteous about everything.

The discipline necessary to rein in our emotions and actually listen is slowly slipping away from the public discourse.

So many people view themselves as victims, persecuted by the other.

Some of this is warranted, much of it is not.

We cannot control the national narrative. But we can control the things we say, the thoughts we share.

For today, let us strive to love each other, to be instruments of peace and to walk with our fellows to a place of understanding.

Blog Post # 134 – An Apt Comparison

Conducting comparisons can cause consternation.

Comparing ourselves to others can be productive or destructive.

Perhaps we look at another and use what we see to be really too hard on ourselves.

I am fatter than _____.

I am slower than _____.

We are doing a terrible job raising our kids as compared to ______.

The basic analysis is that we aren’t good enough when compared to someone else.

This can lead to shaming, negativity and an inability to act.

Comparisons can be useful as long as we are not mean about them.

This is the other way that comparisons can harm – when we compare ourselves to others to make us feel superior to the person being compared.

Such an approach also gives us little incentive to do anything differently.

We can get a bit self-righteous and judgmental.

But there’s no rule that comparing ourselves to another has to be so harsh.

We can think about ourselves and others in an entirely different way.

What if instead of thinking of how we are lacking, we think about how we could improve?

We use our analysis not as a stick to beat ourselves up, but instead a simple measuring stick that suggests how we may improve.

For today, let’s be comfortable in our own skin. If we find ourselves making a comparison, just sit with it and think about it without going off to extremes like telling ourselves we are lacking or telling ourselves we are superior.

To just be and to be content with that, while looking for possible things to improve.

That is all we have to do.

 

Blog Post # 133 – This Ain’t Hard

This life we lead. It ain’t hard.

We ain’t running from wooly mammoths.

We ain’t building a railroad across the Rocky Mountains.

We ain’t living in a hut with no running water.

Rather, we have it pretty good.

Amazingly good, I would say.

We don’t have to kill animals to eat meat.

We don’t have to pluck cotton to make clothes with.

We don’t have to wait for news to come by pony express, passenger pigeon or teletype.

Rather, we live in the most technologically advanced time in Earth’s history.

We can have whatever we want if we work hard enough.

We can’t forget this.

We can’t feel sorry for ourselves.

We can’t squander the immense opportunities that we have to live an amazing life and to make real change in the world.

Actually, we can do all of these things. Too many do, too often.

For today, let us relish all of life in 2016’s gifts. To be immensely grateful for what we do have, not all of the things that we don’t.

Blog Post # 132 – Who We Already Are

Who are we?

Why are we here?

Is this all there is?

Steven Pressfield wrote in his manifesto, The War of Art, “[o]ur job in this life is not to shape ourselves into some ideal we imagine we ought to be, but to find out who we already are and become it.”

Way too often, we have an erroneous idea of this perfect person that we are supposed to be.

We devise this impossibly successful, flawless uber-self that we will never become.

Then we beat ourselves up for not attaining said perfect self.

We keep fighting, keep struggling, keep reaching for something that is 100% unattainable.

Lots of motion, lots of activity in the quest for a clean, flawless self.

A lot of energy, but not a lot of satisfaction.

Pressfield urges us to try another way.

And this alternative approach to life is so important for us to at least consider.

This invitation may represent a sea change in how we go about our days, weeks and lives.

To spend our energy not in trying to obtain perfection, but rather to get to know ourselves in a gentle, productive way without having to move, change or be different.

To find out who we already are – what an invitation!

So much gentler, such an amazing way to think about our purpose in life.

Sounds simple, but certainly not easy.

For if/when we ever do find that out, we then have to “become” it.

To move towards it – steadily, purposefully, deliberately.

This may be why I find myself such a fan of incremental growth.

Baby steps vs. grand declarations.

Back to work.

Tell yourself that we said hello.

And we can’t wait to see the person that you already are.