Friday, September 12

Where the rubber meets the road…

What are you doing with your time here? Are you making it count or are you just putting it in?

I won’t lie to you, making your time count is a tough thing sometimes. It seems that it’s SO much easier to simply let the time pass than to make something useful of it. Most people seem to be content today to stick with their routines. A quick breakfast, run out the door to get to work on time, put in the required eight hours at the job, cruise home for dinner some TV and then off to bed. Only to get up the next morning and do it all over again.

“Working for the weekends” is a mantra that most people seem to live by. Why? What do we do with the weekends? If you don’t have any real responsibilities, you might take some time to relax, or catch up on the house work and chores that you can’t do during the week. Maybe a night out with some friends or even a movie. If you’ve got family or other responsibilities then you time is even more occupied.

Sometimes it seems that no matter how we handle it, we end up in a repeating routine that merely allows us to exist. Sure, we might be lucky enough to take a vacation every now and then. Create some different memories, get some new stories to tell at work, and pick up a souvenir or two.

Is that all there is to this life then?

I want to say no. Even as I look at the daily schedule that I follow and see so little variation in it. Sure, there are things that NEED to be done to survive. You have to work. You have to care for your kids. You have to eat and sleep. The question is…are you locked into a routine that does nothing for you as a person?

We always hear people saying “Get in the Game!” Let me tell you something…You ARE in the game. If you’re not playing…then you’re losing! Life isn’t something that you get to be neutral in. No one is Switzerland. There are no sidelines. If you think that you’re just going to wait and see what happens…you’re on the wrong side.

If you’re in a situation right now, where you are just waiting to see if something is going to happen, you need to stop right now. Take an objective look at your situation and figure out what YOU can do to make the situation something you can accept. There are ALWAYS options that you can choose. No one is ever stuck where they are.

Even if you happen to be in jail right now, provided that you’re not there for life, you have options. Granted, you have LOTS fewer options than someone not in jail, but you have options nonetheless.

How long has it been since you took the time to learn something new? Something that’s NOT related to work.
How long has it been since you took the time to work on yourself and change something you find negative into a positive?

I know that we all have the hope that things will just fall into place and we’ll wake up one day with everything perfect. That would be great, don’t get me wrong. But…IT AIN’T GONNA HAPPEN! In order for anything to change and be different from what it is right now, it takes work. Sometimes its VERY, VERY hard work. It will also rarely happen overnight. Change in all its forms takes time. Trying to rush change is like trying to stop a speeding train…you CAN get in its way, but it just might be messy.

So, take a look around at your life and see if there might be things you can change about it. Change is a good thing. It keeps our spirits refreshed and awake in a world that would have them dulled and dead.

Besides, you never know what might be down that other path. It just might be the adventure of your life.

See you in the great wide unknown! :-)

You must be the change you want to see in the world. - Mahatma Gandhi

Thursday, September 11

What’s in YOUR wallet??


Sound like a familiar theme song? Of course it does. We’ve all chased the dollar at some point in our lives. You might even be chasing it right now. Now…relax. I’m not going to tell you that you’re a terrible, awful person if you’re chasing the dollars. I’ve got something else in mind to tell you.

It involves where you put your happiness. And where you SHOULD put your happiness.

We’ve all heard the sayings about money…It’s the root of all evil…It can’t buy happiness or love…It’s the Devil’s tool. Whatever. I want to challenge all that. So, let’s start out with a bit of humor…

"While money can't buy happiness, it certainly lets you choose your own form of misery." - Groucho Marx

We all seem to subscribe to the belief that somewhere there exists something that when we get it we will find, at long last, true happiness. For some people that might be a magic amount of dollars, for some it’s the hottie down the street, for others it’s a yacht or a car or SOMETHING.

You see, we’ve become grooved to think that SOMETHING is going to MAKE us happy. We’ve given up our personal right and ability to happiness and we’ve placed the burden of our happiness on something or someone else.

Yes…I said the BURDEN of our happiness. Why did I put it that way? Because if you are not responsible for your own happiness, then it IS a burden for someone else to carry. Want to know something else that I will state as a FACT?

When you burden someone or something with the responsibility of your happiness…it will fail and you won’t ever get the happiness that you deserve.

No amount of money will make you happy. It’ll make some things in life easy, but it won’t make your life happy. No boat, or car, or beautiful girl or guy, will EVER be able to make you happy.

Why not? I hear you asking…me too at one time. :-)

Simply because it is only so much STUFF. And stuff never lasts. The money gets spent, the things loss their shine, and people can only try for so long. There is only one thing that will ever be able to make you happy in life. That’s YOU. You have the choice of happiness. Sadly, most people don’t make the choice to be happy. I think that most people don’t even realize that it IS a choice. Most people might not even know what real happiness even is.

We spend a significant portion of our lives searching, on the outside, for happiness. And as a result, just like Groucho says, we spend our lives in a form of misery. Always reaching for the next THING to make us happy. Tasting only brief moments that we try to hold on to, instead of living each and every day with that feeling.

Wanna know a secret? You CAN have that lifelong happiness. Even right now, wherever you happen to be on the path. You see, happiness comes down to a choice. You can choose to look around you, at your life and the world and everything in it, and see everything as bad or depressing or difficult…OR…you can look around you and see the wonderful things that come into your life every day. You can see the hard times for what they really are…a chance to become more.

You lose a job…you can be depressed and scared and worried…OR…you can decide that it’s time to move on, you’ve learned what you needed from this job and now can find another.

You lose a relationship…you can be depressed and sad and bitter and hurt…OR…you can see what went wrong and become more than you were in that relationship.

Are you starting to get the idea? Everything in life can be taken as good or bad. That’s the idea with THINGS! Money isn’t evil. Obsessing about money and pursuing it to the exclusion of everything else in life…IS. The boat or car or other things won’t bring happiness. It doesn’t mean you can’t have them or want them…as long as they fit into their proper place in your life and don’t become what your life is about. And the hottie down the street? Will probably stop and talk to you…when your life is FULL of all the happiness YOU can cram into it.

There’s always a choice. Let’s start a movement together and call it…”Choose Happiness!”

And the house with all the people and loud music…that’s my place. Come on in. We’re all happy here! ;-)

Wednesday, September 10

It keeps going and going and going…

I want someone to tell me why it’s SO easy to quit! Our world seems to accept…and sometimes…even encourage us to quit. We hear people all the time. “Life’s not fair!” or “The deck is stacked against me.” or “No one loves me.” And it’s a prevailing attitude in the world today! I’m sorry…but…WTF!!!

This is something that is shocking and amazing to me. That we have become a people more obsessed with the negative and darker side of things. I, myself, don’t ever watch the news on TV anymore. I usually try to avoid the newspapers too. Why? Because the only stories that get covered are the tragedies, the murders, the rapes, the injustice, etc. When was the last time you saw an uplifting and really positive story on the news? OK…outside of the Phelps-fish winning 8 gold medals…I’m talking the normal, regular, every day news.

You know I’m right. Good, uplifting, heartwarming news just does not sell. We have become a people that are obsessed with the bad. We want to see it every day. It’s what we spend our hard earned cash on. It’s almost like we are a people of junkies, that have built up a tolerance for the level that we were at and now we need more and more to get back to the feeling we had before.

The spirit of our world has become a caustic and dark thing. We are SO quick to anger, judgment, violence, condemnation, etc. There is almost no tolerance for one another anymore. I will say it again…WTF!!!

We have become a people filled with bitterness and jealousy. We want what someone else has and we don’t want to have to struggle for it. That is the most popular dream. Winning the lottery. The lottery brings in billions of dollars a year. With the odds of winning ranging from 1 in 18 to 120 million, you don’t have much of a shot at all. The proverbial snowball’s chance in hell seems about appropriate. And yet…in 2007 over 1/3 of Americans believed that winning the lottery was the ONLY way to become financially secure. HUH??!!

When did we become so lethargic as a people? We are all amazed by the Phelps-fish and what he accomplished. Want to know his secret? He busted his ass every single day and NEVER quit. He held it in his heart that he was going to be an Olympic swimmer and wear that gold around his neck…and he DID!

We’ve made quitting SO easy anymore. Over 50% of marriages now end in divorce. WHOA! You go ahead and tell me that quitting isn’t easy. Even relationships are shareware, try-before-you-buy, with all the appropriate escape clauses in place.

Let me tell you something…if you want to succeed in this world, if you want to achieve your dreams, if you want to live life as a Hero…QUITTING IS NOT AN OPTION!

It’s just that simple. There is only one way to quit in life and it’s a terminal choice. And there’re no do-overs. So what are we to do to get past this “Gonna Quit” syndrome?

First thing, is to understand that YOU are responsible for YOUR life. That’s it. No one else to blame for how your life is going or been. And you do NOT have the ability to live someone else’s life for them. As soon as you understand that your life is your own; then you have the choice and have made all the choices to get you where you are and lead you to where you are going. Choices all have consequences. You have to accept the responsibility of every choice that you make. Good or bad the results of your actions are yours. This is the only way to live a Heroic Life.

Second, and this one is VERY important…YOU have to believe in yourself! There is no success unless you believe that you can do it. Even if you fail in something you try, you learn what mistakes you made, pick yourself back up and try again, or go a different path. The point is…YOU keep moving forward because YOU believe you can.

It all comes down to a personal decision…Are you going to let the world run you over and keep you flat or are you going to stand up, take what’s yours, and fly free? It’s hard work and a battle, but I hope to see you doing the Rocky pose some day. :-)

To me, flying free is doing what I want to do, even if it's different from what everybody expects me to do. I'm flying free when I win the battle between me and the people who thought I should go down this road and I find my own road.
Crystal Waters

Tuesday, September 9

Cowboy Up!

To live is to choose. But to choose well, you must know who you are and what you stand for, where you want to go and why you want to get there.
Kofi Annan

We’ve all heard it. Hell, we’ve all probably said it at some time or another. “Cowboy Up!” or maybe “Man Up!” they are basically the same thing. So, why do we feel the need to expressly ask someone to “Cowboy Up!”?

First, let’s break it down and agree on what it means to “Cowboy Up!” we will have to come up with this one completely on our own. Damn Webster won’t have ANYTHING on this one. :-) I would submit that “Cowboy Up!” is just a great way to tell someone to stand up for what they believe in, to “put up or shut up”, to do the right thing regardless of what may happen. We have this image of the cowboy as the ultimate manly man. He does the right thing and kicks ass and then rides off into the sunset.

Now, I grew up in Montana and I have ALWAYS known that that particular image wasn’t exactly dead on. But it gives us a common reference. A cowboy will stand solid for what he believes in and no one will ever convince him otherwise or beat him down. He’s never afraid to put in a backbreaking days work. He is everything that most men and women today are not.

We live in a time where the right thing is often set aside for the easy thing. Where the less risky and safer choice is made instead of the right choice. We have given away the solid foundational basis for making the right choices. And we’ve done so, not with a great battle that we lost but rather, with a smile on our faces.

We can watch on our TV shows and movies all the people that readily capitulate and bumble along making only the easy choices. Sometimes, I think that it’s become the fad of the day for the movies to glorify the inept that never stand for their beliefs. The only heroes that make the stand are those in the action flicks that are blowing up the bad guys. And those movies, while inspiring for the moment, tend to fall apart when you come back to reality.

It may not always be easy, convenient, or politically correct to stand for truth and right, but it is the right thing to do. Always.
M. Russell Ballard

So what do we do, we seekers of better ways? How can we start to live in accordance with the “Cowboy Way”?

The first thing you need to know is exactly WHAT you believe in and WHERE you stand. Can you say firmly, what it is that you believe in? “I believe I’ll have another beer!” Nononononono! That’s not what I’m talking about. Do you know your heart well enough to be able to decide in any situation what YOU will stand for, regardless of what anyone else is saying? If you don’t, then you’ve got some work to do first.

When you do know what you believe in, then you have to get to the point where you can stand up for it, even in the face of someone screaming at you because of it. That’s really a difficult thing for most people. No one likes confrontation. It’s hard to deal with someone that is loudly vocal about an opposing belief. What you need to be able to remember is that just because someone is loudly vocal about an opposing belief, it doesn’t make you wrong, or a bad person for disagreeing with them.

However, if you do back down and let them run over you with what THEY believe instead of standing up for what YOU believe, then you’ve given in to that easy choice idea. It’s easier to back down and not have any confrontation over it. BUT…you will teach them, and yourself, that you WILL back down when push comes to shove.

I KNOW this is a hard thing to do…but the next time someone is offering an opinion that is different from one that you hold, stand firm and, politely and gently, offer YOUR opinion. Everyone is entitled to their own beliefs. Even if they are not the same as your own.

Start small and build on it. Soon, you will teach yourself that you CAN stand firm and other will see that and respect you for it.

I KNOW that you can do it. That’s what I believe. :-)

Stand straight, walk proud, have a little faith.
Garth Brooks

Monday, September 8

I’m just here for the cookies…

I think that one of the most often asked…and rarely answered…questions for EVERYONE is: “Why am I here? What is my purpose?” We, as human beings, feel a need to know what purpose we have. We organize everything in our lives by the purpose that they serve for us or to us. It’s what seems to give our lives order and a sense of control. However, while we can classify most everything in our lives, from things to people, we are usually at a loss as to a classification for ourselves.

It’s the driving reason for the self-help and improvement industry. We spend billions of dollars every year trying to find someone that will be able to give us the answer to our question. The problem is…we are looking in the wrong place for that particular answer.

No one in this world will EVER be able to tell you what you’re purpose is here in this life.

I think it’s kind of funny, really. We have everything that we need to answer this question right inside ourselves. But it seems that we want someone from the outside to tell us what to do. It’s like we don’t trust ourselves or our heart and we HAVE to have someone give us our direction.

We then, take the question of our life and try to place responsibility for the answer in someone else’s hands. This is ALWAYS a path to failure and frustration. Why? Simply because they are not you.

No one, be it friend, spouse, family, pastor, boss, or anyone, can tell you why you exist. They may be able to give you great ideas and maybe even some good things for you to spend your life doing, but it won’t be the complete answer to your question.

You are a unique individual that has had unique experiences and events in your life. You interpret these experiences differently than anyone else. All of this has molded you into a person that no one else can ever be. We keep talking about seeing things from someone else’s point of view and “putting yourself in their shoes”. While this is a great thing to do, in general, you have to keep in mind that you can NEVER completely accomplish this feat. It’s not a bad thing, just the plain truth, because you haven’t gone through and interpreted life as another person.

Things that you might just shrug off might devastate another person. Because their life is unique and you haven’t lived it.

So, where do we look to answer the question?

You need to look to yourself. If you take the time to KNOW yourself and your heart and soul, then you will gain an understanding of what you’ve been created for. You will discover the talents that you’ve been blessed with and the passions that reside in your heart. I think that most people will find; if they take the time, that what they are doing might not be what they are the most passionate about or what they are talented in. This is what contributes to a feeling of being lost in life. It is a state of being in conflict between your heart and how you live your life.

The answer, my friends, isn’t blowing in the wind. :-) It’s blowing in your heart. We seem to have become conditioned to distrust our hearts and to rely on the world to tell us what to do. I think it’s time to take back our right (yes, I said RIGHT) to listen to our hearts. Our right to live from our hearts. To have a life that is in line with the passions we have inside and a life that utilizes our God given talents to their fullest.

It won’t happen overnight and it won’t be without a struggle. This world LOVES to keep us in its line and to tell us what we can and can’t do with our life. So, the first thing you need to do, is to take that long look into your heart and figure out what it is that is inside it. Then, you need to find a way to start living FROM your heart. I’m NOT saying that you abandon your current life right now. But, by making small steps, you can begin to change your life into what your HEART tells you it should be. When you start to make that change, to start listening to your heart, you will find that, even in the midst of hardships, you can find a peace and happiness that is unavailable to most people. You will be living a life with and for and of your heart. You will find your reason for existing. You will have your purpose. And no one can ever take that away.

The door is open. I can show you the way. But it’s up to you to walk it. See you on the road. :-)