Saturday, August 30

Hold on...just a little bit further...

Perseverance - to persist in a state, enterprise, or undertaking in spite of counterinfluences, opposition, or discouragement

Determination - the act of deciding definitely and firmly; also: the result of such an act of decision b: firm or fixed intention to achieve a desired end

The next Heroic Trait I want to talk about is perseverance. I’m going to combine perseverance with determination, as I think they are really related to the same concept.

What does it mean to persevere? I think everyone would agree that it would be to continue to the end in the face of any hardship or tragedy. Basically what Webster’s says. It’s definitely far easier to say than to do. Although, I don’t think that was always the case. I think that we now live in a time where the path of least resistance is not only preferred, but encouraged.

So why not take the easy roads? Why should we have to go out of our way to make life difficult and harder than it already is? I have heard many people ask these same questions. The only answer I have is that the easy path isn’t always the right path and in trying to take a shortcut, or avoid an immediate trial, you could end up in a much worse position and place further on down the road.

Perseverance is a matter of holding onto what you believe in, your core, regardless of how hard the journey becomes. And believe me; if you are holding onto your core, your journey WILL get difficult at times. You will be SO tempted to lay your core aside, just this once, to make things easier. You might tell a “small” lie to smooth something out. (BTW, there are NO small lies. A lie is a lie, no matter what.) You might be tempted to keep that extra $5 that the cashier gave to you. Hey it was their fault, right?

At this point, everything that makes a person Heroic should be screaming out for you to do the right thing. To gave the extra back, to hold firm to your principle of honesty and integrity. In short, to step away from the easy path.

Knowing that this is the path you are going to take, the more difficult path of the hero, you must be ready for some problems with people that you know right now. See, they are used to you right now, not the you that is growing and becoming. They may be used to the way that the world works right now and follow in its footsteps. By holding to your core and facing them on YOUR ground, you might lose some old friends and maybe even piss off those closest to you. But, HOLD ON!

“The people that mind, don’t matter and the people that matter don’t mind.”

I’m sure you’ve all heard that one before. In essence it’s true. But that doesn’t mean that you might not cause a little hurt when you make a big change. That is understandable. And those people that matter, will love you more, respect you more, and help you to continue becoming. That’s the great thing about the people that matter. They will love you no matter. :-)

This isn’t the easiest thing to do, persevere. But think about our favorite heroes from legend. They ALL had a long road of trials ahead of them. Think of Jason, Odysseus, Heracles, Frodo, etc. They all had a harsh road of trials for YEARS. Yet, in persevering, they held to their cores and when they came out the other side, there was SO much more waiting them.

Just remember, you are you and responsible to and for only you. Don’t sell yourself cheap and for goodness sake, don’t GIVE yourself away. Hold on tight and keep putting one foot in front of the other.

I will cheer you every step of the way…and be waiting for you on the other side. :-)

Thursday, August 28

My Sacrifice…

OK…this is the first of the Heroic Traits I want to discuss, or rather, get you thinking about. For most people the word sacrifice has a bad connotation to it. They associate it with something bad or having to give up something they like and enjoy. That’s one of the reasons a LOT of Catholics dread Lent. :-)

So, let’s go back to our FAVORITE reference and see what Mr. Webster has to say about sacrifice.

Sacrifice - destruction or surrender of something for the sake of something else; and also, something given up or lost

There isn’t a connotation at all in that definition. It’s also lacking something, at least from my point of view. So, let’s together, build a definition for sacrifice that might be this Heroic Trait a bit closer home.

Parts of the definition work. Sacrifice is definitely a surrender of something or a giving up of something. But that’s just so…BLAH! There’s no personality in this definition. That’s what it’s missing…character.

See…I believe that a sacrifice is something that is ultimately personal in nature. No one else has to know about it but you. And by it being a personal thing, then it becomes a self building action. So, in reality, sacrifice becomes a thing that, while it might be for someone else, it’s in reality, something for you.

So, if it’s something that is ultimately GOOD for you, why is it so hard and why do we not like even talking about it?

I think that part of the reason is that sacrifice involves a choice to deny yourself pleasure. Sacrifice involves the giving of a part of yourself, for the betterment of another, or yourself. You know…that’s actually a definition that I’m starting to like.

It’s easy to see why sacrifice is so hard. We ALL want what we want and once we get it, we will fight tooth and nail to keep it. Even if that something is bad for us. We’re funny that way. :-) So the process of giving up something that we like and want means going counter to our internal Ego and desires. In my life, I’ve found that my greatest enemy a lot of the times is my own EGO. See, I think that as we better ourselves and move farther along the Heroic Path, our Ego has to change and there are even parts of it that HAVE to be lost. And changing your Ego is truly one of the hardest things you will EVER do.

So, why don’t we talk about sacrifice? Oh, I’m sure you’re thinking…I have heard my parents telling me how much they sacrificed for me for years!! :-) But that’s not what I’m talking about. We don’t ever talk about what sacrificing for others and ourselves REALLY does. We all hear about the NEED to sacrifice, but very rarely do we hear about the REASON to sacrifice. So, let me give that a try here…

The reason that we should sacrifice is simply to make ourselves better. Sometimes, it’s just succeeding at the trial to build your self confidence and prove to yourself that you CAN do it. Oftentimes, it’s a great way to accomplish and see significant changes in your life. It’s a process of letting go that will result in more benefits than you might expect.

I’m sure by now you can see why this is a Heroic Trait and can probably think of the story characters that best exemplify this trait. Now the challenge comes in making this trait a part of your own life. And how do you do that, you are asking? Simple.

Start out small and let it grow. Start out with your family and close friends and ask them to help keep you on track. I’m not telling you to do something monumental the first go out. That will only frustrate you and make adopting the idea of sacrifice that much harder.

I can hear some of you out there wondering if you REALLY need this trait. :-) Of course not. You don’t NEED any of the traits. You can stumble through life like the majority of people. But if you want to be a person of Heroic quality…then this trait is a must. That’s just the way it is. Read through some of the great old legends and try to tell me I’m wrong.

So, give it up…let it go…and discover what you can REALLY have.

See you on the other side.

Wednesday, August 27

Building the Heroic in You

OK…first off, let me tell you right here at the start…today’s post is going to be an intro post. I’m launching a small series about becoming heroic in YOUR life. I can’t think of a better way to spend your time than in becoming a hero. For you, your family, your kids, your friends, your friends’ kids…everyone that you touch, in other way or another will benefit by you becoming heroic.

So…go grab your cape (mine is a black with dark purple tiger stripes on it) and let’s figure out how to be HEROIC!!!! :-)

I found a listing of the Heroic Traits and I’ll put them below. However…I will do some personal editing as we go, because I don’t exactly agree with the entire list. :-)

Sacrifice Sacrifice is the forfeiture of something highly valued for the sake of one considered to have a greater value or claim.
Determination Determination is a fixed intention or resolution; a firmness of purpose or resolve.
Loyalty Loyalty is the feeling of allegiance or the act of binding oneself to a course of action.
Courage Courage is that firmness of spirit and swell of soul which meets danger without fear.
Dedication Dedication is a selfless devotion; complete and whole hearted fidelity or the act of binding oneself to a course of action.
Intrepidity Intrepidity is firm, unshaken courage.
Valor Valor is courage exhibited in war, and cannot be applied to single combats.
Selfless Selfless is the quality of unselfish concern for the welfare of others and acting with less concern for yourself.
Conviction Conviction is a fixed or strong belief; a necessity of the mind or an unshakable belief.
Focused Focused is the ability to direct one's energy toward a particular point or purpose; to concentrate one's energy.
Gallantry Gallantry is adventurous courage, which courts danger with a high and cheerful spirit.
Perseverance Perseverance is a persistent determination.
Fortitude Fortitude has often been styled "passive courage," and consists in the habit of encountering danger and enduring pain with a steadfast and unbroken spirit.
Bravery Bravery is daring and impetuous courage, like that of one who has the reward continually in view, and displays his courage in daring acts.

If you read this at all like I did, you will notice that there are a few traits that are basically repeated and can be combined into one. Courage jumps to mind right now. But don’t worry; I’ll take care of everything you will need.

But first, I need you to do something…right now. I’m hoping that by now, you can see some of the value of cultivating the Heroic Traits in your life. Or, if not that, then you can at least see the positive impacts that the Traits can have on someone or just life in general. My faith is in you that we are there on the same page on this. So, right now, I want you to promise yourself (working on trusting yourself here) and me and anyone else you want to help you be accountable for this, that you will, for the next 15 days (two weeks) take some time each and every day to SPECIFICALLY work on building the Heroic Traits in yourself and your life. No half way commitments here, I won’t accept that. As Yoda says, “Do…or do not. There is no try.”

It’s OK if you don’t want to, or can’t, make this commitment. I will think nothing less of you. Honest.

If you do make the commitment, feel free to email me anytime to let me know how you’re doing, or to ask questions, or share a story or two. Whatever. I will be the first to admit that I’m no professional here. You’re not paying me for what I think. So, I guess you can determine the value of what I say, based on how much you spend for it, if you want.  This is just something that is important to me and my life.

I hope you’ll join me in breaking out of your comfort zone and your shell and start developing the Heroic in you.

Tomorrow…Sacrifice. :-)

Same Bat-Time!
Same Bat-Channel!

Tuesday, August 26

Responsible Pain

OK…since I just spent the entire morning at the dentist office, I’m going to talk about something now near and dear to my heart. Pain. :-)

It has been said and studied many times that there are really only two stimuli for human beings. Those two are pain and pleasure. Or maybe more correctly, pain and not-pain.

That’s it; those are the two reasons why you and I do anything in life. Either we are making a decision that will cause us pain or we are making a decision that will not cause us pain. So, the next time someone asks you…”why’d you do that?” You can simply smile and respond, “Cuz I don’t like pain, so I’m avoiding it.”

No? You don’t think that would work? Well, if you really strip down to the barest of truths in every excuse, justification, or reason that we give, that’s all it really boils down to.

OK…so what can we, as logical, self-improving, thoughtful individuals do with this information?

Well, there is actually a lot that we can do if we apply the right ideas and thoughts. So, then…what ARE the right ideas and thoughts?

Let’s first understand something about choice. Choice is something that everyone takes for granted. Every single day we make about a billion choices. From when we wake up to what we wear to when we go to bed. All these choices impact us in some way. Sometimes in large ways; sometimes in small ways, but we are ALWAYS impacted. Every choice we make enables new choices and erases other choices.

For example…I’m NOT a crack addict. (I know…you’re ALL happy to hear that). So, since I didn’t make that particular choice, there are some choices that are open and available to me, like job, health, clean criminal record, etc. And others that are not, addiction, body degeneration, arrest record, etc.

But the important thing here is that I operate under the SAME stimulus as a crack addict. We bother are trying to live life avoiding as much pain as possible. Granted, my decisions and the addict’s decisions are going to be vastly different, but that is a result of previous choices made. And Life…and everything that goes on in it…is all about choices.

Now, another thing to keep in mind is that my levels of pain are probably quite different in some areas than yours. This is also a result of my previous choices and yours too. This, unfortunately, makes a complete understanding of another’s pain, sometimes, a bit difficult. While I can understand the SITUATION and logically know why you might be feeling pain, there are times when you just can’t grasp every feeling or nuance. And that’s OK.

So, let’s circle ‘round back to the original point. Pain. And let’s review. :-) Our choices carry consequences, each and every one of them, both good and bad. We, as humans, are geared to make choices in response to one of two stimuli, pain or pleasure. Regardless of the magnitude of the consequences of the choices made, they will still bring about either pain or pleasure.

OK, now that we NOW the fundamental reason that we do anything, let’s figure out how to use that to our advantage.

It all really comes down to this. Are the choices you are making in your life being made to avoid pain or to bring about pleasure?

We are response-able beings. That means that we are able to choose the response we give in any given situation. Sometimes it’s too fast for us to consciously choose. That’s why your core and foundation are so important. But the bigger issue right now is the choices you make each and every day, NOT to bring more pleasure into your life, but rather, to avoid pain. The more often you choose to avoid pain, the more likely you will be to put yourself into a situation where you are looking at pain again. Here’s a thought…avoid pain first! Make the choices that will keep you from facing pain before you ever get into a situation where you have to decide to avoid the existing pain.

My teeth are hurting again. And if I had made the right choices prior, I wouldn’t be in the small amount of pain that I am. :-)

See…it really does work. Go ahead…give it a try.

Monday, August 25

Where’s your Center?

It’s kind of like the question “What’s in your wallet?” It’s personal and has great impact on your life.

So, what do I mean…”Where’s your center?” What is a person’s center? And why does it matter where mine is?

We live in a world today where the faster you go, the better you are supposed to be. We reward the people that overload themselves with work, almost, regardless of the quality that they churn out. We are always building faster and faster things. 0-60 in 4 seconds?? That’s TOO damn slow! We run “time management” classes in order to teach us how to cram more into the few hours that we have. How to efficiently fill every single second of our time with CRAP!

Yup…I said it. It’s all CRAP! If it’s not a part of your core, or the things that are the most important based on your core, then…and pay attention here…IT IS ALL CRAP! It is manmade and it pulls you from your center.

I’m sure we ALL have been caught up in the overloading of life. Everyone seems to bitch and whine that there isn’t enough time to do everything. But…guess what? There really IS enough time. In fact, you do have all the time you ever need. It’s just a matter of HOW you choose to spend it.

And that’s ALWAYS the kicker.

See…we seem to LOVE to spend our precious time on all sorts of things. Things for other people, things to make more money, things to spend more money, and usually…very little on the things that are the MOST important.

So, here’s the thing. Do you take 15-30 minutes a day and spend them just on yourself? I’m not talking about the 15-30 minutes right before you go to bed! :-) Do you, honestly, take just that little bit of time, just for you? If I were a gambling man…oh wait…right. I’m betting that the answer is “no” you don’t take a small amount of time just for yourself.

So, that’s the first point to understand. YOU need some of your time just for YOU. Not time to take a bath…or read the newspaper…or to DO anything. You need time to just exist, as yourself. A time to find your center.

What happens when you are “off center”? C’mon…we all know what that’s like. Most of us LIVE that way.

So, I guess the better question is…what happens when you are centered? Can you answer that one for yourself?

It’s different for everyone, but there are common qualities to being centered.

• A feeling of peace
• Contentment with life as it is
• Feeling relaxed
• A great lessening of stress

Many of the Eastern philosophies teach methods of centering. They have long understood the benefits of having your life centered and at peace. Let’s look at some of the things they suggest doing to get centered:

• Meditation
• Yoga
• Deep breathing exercises
• Fasting – Not just of food either
• Prayer

All of these things focus you and force you to spend time with yourself. That’s probably the most important part of the centering process. You need to be able to spend time with yourself. If you can’t do that…then you can’t find your center. It’s a process of discovery and understanding, of yourself and your place in life. Too often we try to live outside of ourselves and we bury ourselves with other people’s agendas. Look around you, hell, look AT you. Are you living from your center? Is your life in balance?

Let’s start together and take the next 15-30 minutes to just “be”. Isolate yourself from the distractions of the world around you and turn your thoughts and eyes inside. Let everything slide away and let it all go. There is no need to hold on to it. Believe me…it’ll all be there when you come back to the world.

So…take my hand, let it all go, and let’s enjoy some peace for a few moments. Try it, you just might like it. :-)