Blog Post # 286 – Empty Chair(s) at the Holiday Table

Holidays can bring joy.

But they can also be very hard.

Today, I’m thinking about friends who lost loved ones this year.

Friends who lost a father or mother.

A friend whose five-year-old and three-year-old nephews were murdered by their father.

Real loss. Tragic loss. Extreme grief.

For those of us lucky enough to not have suffered such sadness this year, we must celebrate this life.

To be 100% present in these moments of celebration.

To be in connection with those we love.

No matter who they voted for.

Life is precious, short.

This holiday season gives us the chance to spend time with our families.

Those of us lucky to have our families whole.

To those with empty chairs at the dinner table, we want you to know that you are loved.

You are special.

You are strong.

For today, let us reach out to someone who is hurting this day.

And connect.

Blog Post # 285 – When Lightning Strikes

Sometimes lightning does strike.

The bad guy wins.

A tragedy unfolds.

Life shifts in a single moment.

What do we do … then?

How do we react … then?

What is our response … then?

Option A would be to dive into a deep despair and worry about all the other horrible things that could happen.

Option B would be to ignore what just happened and try to bury it far away from us to the extent that we can.

The best option, perhaps, would be to acknowledge the event, think about it, reflect on it and try to work through it.

But to not let it control us.

Not define us.

Not own us.

The truth is our reality changes from moment to moment.

Time marches on and all of that.

We have to be ready for anything.

We keep toiling, striving and improving.

Because we never know what is waiting for us around the bend.

A lightning strike is neither inherently nor 100% bad.

We can learn from any situation.

And focused on the things that we ourselves actually have control over.

First and foremost, our response to the bad news.

And then we fight.

Blog Post # 284 – Revealing Our Vulnerabilities

Some folks keep things close to the vest.

 

Reluctant to reveal.

 

The approach is certainly understandable.

 

Not taking away from that mindset at all.

 

For me, being open about where I am at and what I am struggling with has really helped.

 

This blog is basically me transcribing the ideas that bounce around in my head.

 

Some of them resonate with some people.

 

Some of them don’t.

 

But I enjoy writing about what I’m thinking about, what I’m feeling and what is bothering me.

 

Writing about my fears regarding the President-elect has certainly been cathartic.

 

We have friends, family or lovers in our lives with whom we can discuss anything at all.

 

It is so important to maintain this outlet.

 

When we are struggling, we may isolate.

 

This hyper-connected world can actually be quite lonely.

 

And when we are alone, the silly ideas get louder in our brain.

 

Talking about our vulnerability, being open to it, exploring it and examining it helps us to make sense of what is going on.

 

It is a tricky time to be alive.  

 

Things seem upside down.

 

For today, let us take a few minutes to check in with our vulnerabilities.  

 

And see where that takes us.

Blog Post # 283 – Well, Duh

Sometimes, we think too much.

So as to excuse our choices.

Maybe we are fat because we eat too much and exercise too little.

Maybe we are depressed because we drink too much alcohol, a depressant.

Maybe we perform poorly at school or at work because we don’t work hard enough.

Well, duh.

Sometimes, the easiest answer is the correct one.

Not to say we should omit nuance and clarification from our playbook.

Rather, sometimes our weight is just math (calories in, calories out), our mental state is based on our consumption and our performance is a natural result of our effort.

Maybe we should think less.

Keep it simple.

And focus on the things that we can control.

The choices that we actually have.

And latch on to the things that will set us free.

Blog Post # 282 – Upon Reflection

How often do we review our day?

 

Examine the things that happened to us and the things that we did.

 

Check in on our accomplishments, both big and small.

 

The hurts that we may have caused another.

 

Do we carve out time at the end of the day to reflect on whether we spent our time wisely?

 

Too often, it seems, that we go through our day on autopilot.

 

Bouncing from task to task.

 

Event to event.

 

We may get a lot done, but our activities are mindless.

 

Or, perhaps, to put it another way – that we could be more mindful as we go through our day.

 

And then use 10 minutes at the end of the day to reflect.

 

Time well spent.

 

A bit of reflection at the end of the day may help us think new thoughts.

 

Make new observations about ourselves.

 

And then help us to craft a different day tomorrow.

 

For today, let us be mindful as we glide through our day.

 

And for tonight, let us set aside 5 or 10 minutes to reflect on everything that happened.

 

We can then calibrate our tomorrow as well.

Blog Post # 281 – The Wrong Wall

What if our ladder is leaning against the wrong wall?

Maybe we are putting way too much effort into something that is either unnecessary or is a goal that does not move us forward.

We need to distinguish between effort and effectiveness.

The difference between working very hard and working very hard towards the right goal.

Stephen Covey likened this to someone climbing a ladder that was leaning upon the wrong wall.

Effective, and fast, implementation of the right idea or ideas is what we are after.

To cut down on unnecessary effort.

Distraction.

So that we may focus on the things that will truly move us forward.

For today, let us question what we are doing.

Ask ourselves – why am I doing this?

Listening for our own answer. Then asking, perhaps multiple times thereafter, why?

Until we are crystal clear that our ladder is leaning upon the correct wall.

Blog Post # 280 – The Greatest Freedom

“The greatest freedom is to be free from blaming others.” – Dan Sullivan.

So easy to blame everyone else for our woes.

Our problems must be caused by our spouse, our kids or our parents.

We may take responsibility for some things, but not everything.

We think that we know that someone else screwed us.

That our lack of happiness is not our fault.

That our poor physique is not our fault.

That our country’s woes are not our fault.

So we blame others.

We do this on the personal scale, as well as the national level.

But when we surrender responsibility for our happiness to others, we lose a lot.

Instead, we should admit that we have no one to blame but ourselves.

To break free from the trap of refusing to take responsibility.

People may harm us, may threaten us, may stymie us.

But we should refrain from blaming them.

Think of our greatest heroes – Lincoln, King, Mandela.

If they had blamed others for all of the world’s woes, they would never have achieved greatness.

Blame is a trap.

For today, let us strive to step out of that trap.

And remember to blame no one other than the one in the mirror.

Blog Post # 279 – Precursors to Change

What comes before real change?

The circumstances which must occur before we make meaningful change.

The pain caused by the way that we have been acting.

The emotional rollercoaster caused by our choices.

Waking up angry at ourselves for the things that we have done.

Awareness.

Awareness of how we have been going along must come before change.

An awakening. A slight shift.

Another precursor to change is the promise of something different.

Something better.

Doing things in a healthier, more productive way.

If we don’t have a goal for how things could be and if that goal is not massive enough, we may not find the drive to bring about that goal.

Small goals yield small results.

So if we want to bring about real change, the two major precursors are awareness of how we have been behaving, as well as the consequences of that behavior.

Then we need a vision of how things could be different.

Changed.

For the better.

Blog Post # 278 – If A White Man Does It

If a white man robs a bank, it is because he needs money to send his girls to a private high school.

If a black man robs a bank, it is because all black men are thugs and criminals.

If a white man blows up a federal building, it is because he is a fringe, disenfranchised loner.

If a Muslim man blows up a building, it is because all Muslims are terrorists.

If a white man grabs women by their vaginas, he gets elected President.

If a Mexican man assaults a woman, all Mexicans are rapists.

For some reason, the media never scapegoats white men when white men behave badly or commit crimes.

The acts of one white man never, ever represent white men as a whole.

The media search for existential excuses as to why a white man did the bad thing that he did.

But when a perpetrator is a person of color, thoughtful analysis goes out the window and the incident feeds into a repeated narrative about “those types of people.”

We need to be aware of this.

We need to filter our news with this lens.

We need to stop attributing the acts of an individual to a group as a whole.

We don’t do it to white men.

We shouldn’t do it to any class of people.

Blog Post # 277 – The Grand Delusion

We tell ourselves that we want to work real hard now so that we can travel the world in our retirement.

So we put off any fun travel for now.

We tell ourselves that we are going on the world’s best diet in January.

So we eat too much and decide not to exercise for now.

We tell ourselves that we will save lots of money later on down the line.

So we spend way too much each day.

Our grand visions for the future may cause us to neglect our present circumstances.

Nobody ever lost 40 pounds in a single day.

People lose weight because they change their habits.

Aligning their present reality with their future goals.

Doing the little things today to get us on the right path.

Maybe the grand illusions for the future are part of the problem.

Do we justify doing whatever we want now because we think that later we will do the right things?

The things that put us on the path to success?

Dreaming about an idyllic future scenario does us a deep disservice.

Instead of daydreaming about what might come some today, for today, let us focus on the here and now.

What we are doing right. What we are doing that is not so right.

And thereby bring about that ideal future by working through what we need to do today.