DOES LIFE EVER GET TO BE TOO MUCH?

POSITIVE QUOTES have a way of being easy to digest and feel good about, but hard to practice and act on in real life.  Nonetheless, you can find wisdom in them and if applied can be used to transform your life.

I’m supposed to love what happens to me at all times?

What Nietzsche is trying to get across is the idea that there’s only one variable you’re able to control in your life — even though it often feels like you can’t — your attitude.

I hate to break it to you, but you aren’t special. You’re not the only one of us who has bad days, deals with tough situations or has to endure the collision that human relationships can become.

Not only is your situation common among people living today, but as humans, we’ve been dealing with the same issues since the beginning of human history.

People who lived thousands of years ago were cheated on by their spouses, had money problems, wanted to ascend in life, and felt stuck, lost or frustrated.

The awfulness of life is an inescapable truth that ties together people from all walks of life.

The remedy for what ails us all is the same, too. As best you can learn to find the gems of wisdom buried beneath the trials of life.

Easier said than done though, right?

Ego is the Enemy

Whenever we frame our problems as things being done to us, we fall prey to the trap our ego has set for us.

Your ego tells you your life is supposed to be better than it is right now.

It tells you your spouse was wrong and that they should apologize.

It tells you your boss is a jerk and the world is conspiring to keep your salary and your sanity as low as possible.

Your ego doesn’t want you to love what happens to you because when you learn to love what happens to you it’s harder to rationalize your situation.

See, there’s always something you can glean from every situation.

In the book, Man’s Search for Meaning by Viktor Frankl, he discusses how he was able to find meaning during a set of circumstances to trying for most to even live through; being in a concentration camp.

If he was able to find meaning in a situation like that, surely we can learn to love the things that happen to us as they likely pale in comparison.

I get it. It’s not easy to do at the moment. When you’re sad, pissed, holding a grudge, frustrated, vengeful, prideful, or any mix of the destructive emotions that tend to come with the everyday grind, it’s hard at your situation and accept that it could be playing a positive role in your life.

But your life can be a teacher, even if you don’t want to learn the lessons it gives you in the moment. Even pain can be a signal to act.

It all depends on the way you see what happens to you.

The Most Powerful Tool We Can Use to Deal With Problems

Each time you face a problem you go through the same familiar cycle of feelings and behaviors.

You don’t want to accept what’s happening. You run through the alternative scenarios of what could’ve or should’ve happened.

At this point, you’re so deep in the woods you can’t see the entire forest. It’s often at this low point where you have the most power. On the other hand, it can also be the final nail in the coffin — leaving your attitude cemented in a bedrock of disappointment.

How to some people rise above circumstances ranging from frustrating to dismal?

I can’t speak to their exact thoughts, but I’m guessing they use the two-punch combination I employ when I’m at my lowest.

First, accept what’s happening fully. You can’t rewrite what has already happened. One of the hardest things to do is start where you are. If you’re able to ground yourself in the present moment, however, you can move to the next step in the process.

After you’ve accepted your situation, you can seek to change your perception of it. In Frankl’s case, he had no escape from his situation, but he chose to perceive his situation using the lens of deeper meaning he could find in it, instead of focusing on the tragic nature of it.

What are you going through right now?

Can you change the way you’re perceiving the situation?

Try shifting your perception “something is being done to me” to “I can do something about this.”

The Question that Opens Doors of Opportunity in Your Life

The only mistakes that do true harm are the ones you fail to learn from and repeat again, which will happen from time to time.

If, however, you’re able to reflect long enough to answer this question, you might be able to move forward with an improved perspective.

The question is, what can I learn from this?

Let’s say your employer fires you — a truly down moment in your life. What can you learn from that experience?

Maybe you’ll learn the position didn’t suit you. It didn’t align with your strengths, which made your termination inevitable.

Maybe it was a blessing you got fired because now you can spend time figuring out where your talents lie instead of wasting years of your life doing something you weren’t supposed to do in the first place.

Or let’s say you’ve been in a particularly nasty fight with your significant other.

Maybe you’ll learn to express your feelings before you reach a boiling point.

Maybe you’ll learn to keep your eyes open, be present, and pay attention to your relationship, else something you failed to notice will blindside you.

I know these are only words. In the moment, it will be difficult to think about what you can learn from a situation when you’re seeing red, feel down, and trapped in a prison of circumstance.

That’s the point, though. Love isn’t easy.

Especially when it comes to loving your situation. When it comes to your life, “til death to us part” is a vow you can’t break.

The Power We All Have Inside Us

Learning to love your life starts with learning to love yourself.

How do you love yourself? By displaying character in life’s hardest moments.

“When jarred, unavoidably, by circumstance revert at once to yourself and don’t lose the rhythm more than you can help. You’ll have a better grasp of harmony if you keep going back to it.” — Marcus Aurelius

The roman emperor wasn’t telling us to “shake things off” the second they occur, but rather to fall back on your character and realize you have the power to be good even when life isn’t good to you.

If people mistreat you, you can find peace in being the bigger person.

If life throws you a curveball, you can rest in the knowledge that you don’t have to allow it to change your character.

Some of the world’s most inspiring people faced challenges greater than you and I will ever face. What inspires us most is the character they displayed during those circumstances.

Martin Luther King never let hatred turn his heart into stone when he had every right to have a hardened heart.

Frankl should have become a cynic, but instead developed a core of meaning most of us will never have.

If these great people can keep their values intact during the most trying times, surely we can remain positive people with integrity during our own trials.

Still, everything I’ve mentioned so far pales in comparison to the main reason you should love your life regardless of what happens to you.

THIS 4TH OF JULY… FIND INDEPENDENCE FOR YOURSELF!

This brings us to a logical question: What can you take out of your present situation to make life more of what you want it to be? Believe it or not, there are even little things you can change to make your world more of what you want it to be. Too often we settle for things as they are, assuming that is how they have to be. They don’t. You have the God-given ability to “cut things out” : negative people, bad places, unhealthy activities and habits, and whatever it takes in order to improve your current Life’s Story.Just as when I’m editing the written word, it’s not easy to cut things out, but it can be accomplished.

This is what we need to do in real life too … edit. When you’re writing your life, you can’t have everything in the story or it gets cluttered and chaotic. What’s important to you? Not what’s important to the people around you, but to you! Give your own story strength of character and integrity of personal choices. You can’t control what others do, but you can control your own actions to the stimulus!

The past may be gone and the future might be uncertain, but we have the power to choose our ” now.”  FINALLY, INDEPENDENCE FOR ALL!

PEOPLE OF SUBSTANCE

When I think about where I have been in life and where I still have to go, I get nervous. Have I done enough? It is not exactly clear to me when I realized that my life here on Earth had an actual purpose, but it became clear to me that it does. The path that I have been following for many years, even if I didn’t recognize it, is to make the world a softer, kinder, and gentler place. A person of substance is what I try to be.  I repeat… try.

It is apparent to others how much I “love” people. I really do. It is one of my many Blessings that I have been given during my life and one beyond compare. How is it possible that one whom had minimal affection/love as a child grows up to be caring and compassionate? Perhaps, it was acquired over time, but what I know clearly is that people react to kindness and caring. Is it possible that this fact is so often overlooked?

Then one day, I got it! Most important to others is that we be a man or woman of substance. What exactly is that? Paraphrasing the definition:

“A person of substance is someone who strives to live a life that means something and who chooses to participate rather than be a spectator in life in order to be part of the solution as opposed to the problem.”

But what would make us actively participate and try to seek new roads? Initially, we need to find a cause outside of our own being. For some, that’s uncomfortable. While it is natural and accepted that we humans are self-absorbed and often self-centered… a cause that benefits just one person and would hardly make a dent on the significance scale. That’s according to some people; I disagree. No cause is too small. Doing something for the greater good means to pursue causes that:

  • Make the world a better place
  • Increase the quality of life for others
  • Right a wrong
  • Prevent the end of something good
  • Initiate something good

Participation

Active participation requires courage and people of substance must have it! While the frail soul is safe from failure, they will never taste victory either. So, people of substance take risks. They try and they fail, but they never grow weary of trying. U.S President Teddy Roosevelt said:

     “The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood; who strives valiantly; who errs, who comes short again and again, because there is no effort without error and shortcoming; but who does actually strive to do the deeds; who knows great enthusiasm, the great devotions; who spends himself in a worthy cause; who at the best knows in the end the triumph of high achievement, and who at the worst, if he fails, at least fails while daring greatly, so that his place shall never be with those cold and timid souls who neither know victory nor defeat.

People of substance take responsibility for their actions successful or not. They wholeheartedly put themselves at the center of the action and fully accept whatever the consequences that the action may bring.

Solutions

People of substance know that there is no middle/neutral position on anything. They identify with the belief that, “If you are not part of the solution, then you are part of the problem.” Similar to wants outnumbering means, problems outnumber solutions and real problem solvers in life are few and far between.

Good problem solving between competing interests typically requires a person of integrity with complete objectivity and solid values. The solution seeking person of substance will have had significant experience in both the good and the bad.

They will have “met with triumph and disaster and have treated those just the same” as the IF poem, by Rudyard Kipling, so accurately says. No doubt they will have lived an experience rich, full, and varied life. Choosing to experience life outside of our comfort zone in order to gain life experiences that can be used in solving problems would appear to be another action that would lead to becoming a person of substance. Sometimes, it is hard.

Becoming

It appears to me that becoming anything involves a series of decisions followed by necessary actions. Becoming a person of substance is no different. It starts for all of us the same:

Two roads diverged in a wood, and I—

I took the one less travelled by,

And that has made all the difference. (Robert Frost)

We each make hundreds of decisions each day. We choose between frivolous and important, between what’s best for us and what’s right, between short and long term betterment, between politeness and wholeheartedness, between apathy and commitment, between self-centered and the greater good, between avoiding and accepting responsibility, between risk avoidance and risk management, between a life of leisure and a life of challenge, between timidity and courage, and between deceit and integrity.

I believe the person of substance chooses the less travelled… second option at each and every divergence.   It is indeed the harder road, but one well worth it.

for you ms brown… thanks for coming to our school a few weeks ago

  Over the past years, I have visited so many high schools.

I am candid with them about my own (his)story and they respond in kind.   As I am “still” a high school English teacher in my heart… I encourage them to do some sort of follow-up writing and mail it to me.

They do this both by email and sometimes, snail mail (as you’ll be able to assume why)… they don’t want any proof at home.

I have answered each and every girl and boy over the years. I know I preach about involvement with Child Abuse endlessly and everyone getting involved.  I do not regret it.  Read why…

Lost Innocence

This young girl kept from sight
crying into the middle of the night
she fears that others will sense the shame
but was this girl really to blame?
this little girl who was full of belief
could not from him seem to find relief
she feels so dirty with her clothes which are torn
when she is being flung on the bedroom floor
this broken child lost her innocence at a very young age
through a trusted man’s deliberate drunken rage
her little broken heart was full of pain
through the rest of her life it would stain
people would see the bruises that lay upon her face
she wanted and longed for her special place
while he was looking around
this little girl couldn’t make a sound
she couldn’t have her own bed
he would be there touching her instead
taking her clothes off he would touch
this haunted her little heart so much
she just wanted him to understand
but instead she got the back of his hand
night after night she endured this pain
never to be happy ever again
this little angel from above
could not find the slightest inch of love
this mountain of unnoticed fear
went on year after year
while she was crying silent tears
he was tucking into some beers
why would no one come to her aid
day after day her happiness would fade
this went on for so, so long
and no one thought that this was wrong
this little girl that no one could save
she longed for her peaceful grave

LOVING YOUR LIFE

Positive Life Quotes have a way of being easy to digest and tend to make one feel good about themselves, but so often they are hard to practice and act upon in real life.  But, you can find some of the most powerful wisdom in these quotes and if applied to your own life there  can be real transformation

Here’s one I find particularly hard to follow, but useful.

“The two most important days in your life are the day you are born and the day you find out why.” — Mark Twain”   I have been working on this thought for years.  I  sometimes “think” I know why I’m here on Earth, but then change my mind.  I’m a work in progress.

We all have bad days and deal with tough situations: at home, on the job… or just have  to endure the collision that human relationships can often become.

Not only are our situations common among people living today, but as humans, we’ve been dealing with the same issues since the beginning of human history!  Think on that; it’s powerful.  People who lived thousands of years ago were cheated on by their “significant other,” (for lack of any other title),  had “money” (asset)  problems, wanted to ascend in life, and often felt stuck, lost, or frustrated in a current situation.  Hmmm.

The Difficulties of LIFE is an inescapable truth.  It is, and what always has been, what ties together people from all countries, creeds, and socio-economic groups. The remedy for what ails us all… is the same, too.  As best you can, we must learn to find the gems of wisdom buried beneath the trials of life.

Easier said than done though, right?

Ego is the Enemy

Whenever we frame our problems as things being done to us, we fall prey to the trap our ego has set for us.  Your ego tells you your life is supposed to be better than it is right now.  It tells you your spouse was wrong and that they should apologize.  It tells you your boss is a jerk and the world is conspiring to keep your salary and your sanity as low as possible.

Your ego doesn’t want you to love what happens to you because when you learn to love what happens to you it’s harder to rationalize your situation.  See, there’s always something you can learn from every situation.

 It’s not easy to do at the moment. When you’re sad, mad, holding a grudge, frustrated, vengeful, prideful, or any mix of the destructive emotions that tend to come with the everyday grind, it’s hard to realize that they could be playing a positive role in our life.

But our LIFE can be a teacher, even if you don’t want to learn the lessons it gives you in the moment. Even pain can be a signal.  It all depends on the way you see what happens to you.

The Most Powerful Tool We Can Use to Deal With Problems

Each time you face a problem you go through the same familiar cycle of feelings and behaviors.  You don’t want to accept what’s happening. You run through the alternative scenarios of what could’ve or should’ve happened.

How do some people rise above circumstances ranging from frustrating to dismal? Here’s what I see.  First, accept what’s happening  fully. You can’t rewrite what has already happened.  BUT, If you ground yourself in the present moment, then you can move to the next step in the process.

What are you going through right now?   Can you change the way you’re perceiving the situation?  Try shifting your thoughts to something is being done to me  to … I can do something positive about this.  Cool!

Opportunities in LIFE

The only mistakes that do real harm are the ones  where we  fail to learn from them and then repeat again.  It happens.

Instead:  What can I learn from this?

Let’s say your employer fires you — a truly down moment in your life. What can you learn from that experience?

Maybe you’ll learn the position didn’t suit you. It didn’t align with your strengths, which made your termination inevitable.  Maybe it was a blessing you got fired because now you can spend time figuring out where your talents lie instead of wasting years of your life doing something you weren’t supposed to do in the first place.

Or let’s say you’ve been in a particularly nasty fight with your significant other.  Maybe you’ll learn to express your feelings before you reach a boiling point.  Maybe you’ll learn to keep your eyes open, be present, and pay attention to your relationship.

I know these are only words.  That’s the point.  LIFE isn’t easy!

The Power Inside 

Learning to love your life starts with… learning to love yourself.  How do you love yourself? By displaying character in life’s most difficult moments.

If people mistreat you, you can find peace in being the bigger person.  If life throws you a curveball, you can rest in the knowledge that you don’t have to allow it to change your character.

Some of the world’s most inspiring people faced challenges greater than you and I will ever face. What inspires me most is the character they displayed during those circumstances.  If these great people can keep their values intact during the most trying of times, surely we can remain positive people with integrity during our own trials/challenges.

LOVE YOUR LIFE, just as it has been given; grow and learn with each new challenge and test.  It is ours.

LIKE THIS IDEA? IT’S YOURS!

IMPACT THE WORLD… MAKE A DIFFERENCE!
   Look around you and you’ll see three kinds of people. There are those who hate their life and work, and complain bitterly, those who just tolerate their life and work and see it as their “lot in life,” and finally, those who love their life and work, and relish it. That’s because it’s their “life’s-work.”  The third category is a small subset of all professionals world-wide, but this group stands out because these are often the people who change the world for the better. They never stop trying to improve the lives of others… no matter how small the change.
   In my work as a writer, I’ve had the opportunity to connect with people who’ve made a true and measurable impact in the world. Each and every time I have met and written about them, it has been an honor. However, among this group of what I shall call “influencers” there are also many everyday people who have found a special niche in which they’ve contributed at the highest level. It’s critical to note that people who’ve made a real difference aren’t all privileged, advantaged or “special” by any stretch. Many come from disadvantaged families, crushing circumstances, and initially limited capabilities, but have found ways to pick themselves up and rise above their circumstances (and often their genes) to transform their own lives and those around them. I have become aware that there are often similar key behaviors that set them apart from others. They dedicate themselves to what gives their own life meaning and purpose.
   Many people don’t believe in meaning and purpose as something to pursue in their own life. While others believe in a life purpose, but won’t take the risk to identify or honor it. Those with positive influence feel otherwise. They have found that there is a purpose to their life and that purpose usually involves some aspect of turning their “gifts” into a message or using what they’ve learned (often the hard way) as a means of being of service to others. People with a sense of purpose are driven, focused, committed, and light up a room. They are unable to be deterred or distracted from what they believe is the reason they’re on this planet at this particular time. This sense of meaning and purpose gives them inexhaustible drive and offers guideposts to follow along the path. They commit to continually bettering themselves.
  People who impact the world for the better know that they are not perfect. They understand how their knowledge isn’t “complete.” There are always going to be gaps, biases, limitations, and prejudices. But… they keep at it anyway; they are inexhaustible!
People who positively shape the world come from a “beginner’s mind” and a loving, compassionate heart — with an openness to see, learn, and experience new things on the way to being a better “servant” to others. They engage with people in open and honest ways.
Those with huge positive influence understand the power of relationships, connection, and engaging with the world openly. They’re not afraid to get “out there” connecting with others, sharing their knowledge and talents, offering their authentic and often contrary viewpoints and opinions. They know that positive, supportive, and authentic relationships are the necessary building blocks to anything and everything they want to achieve. They invest time and energy not in what is “wrong,” but rather in what “can be.”
The people I’ve interviewed who’ve made a positive impact on Society, don’t settle for conformity. When they see something that agitates and disturbs them, they strive to know more, get to the root of the issue, research and understand the contributing factors, and arrive at new solutions. They observe gaps and mistakes in common thinking and behavior and trust themselves in their belief that it’s time to push the boundaries of what’s accepted. They want to affect change because they believe change will bring a better way to live. They spread what they know.
We’ve all met “experts” who keep their knowledge secret, close to the vest. They’re afraid to let it out for fear someone will steal it or make money on their ideas. This is the opposite of the positive influencer’s mindset. Those who make a true positive difference can’t help but share and teach what they’ve learned. They don’t see their knowledge as just some commodity to sell… they see it as information that has to be shared with the world for its betterment. They live the universal principle: “The more you give, the more you get.” They use their power and influence well.
Sadly, it’s a common occurrence in the world… and Politics of late… to witness power and influence being wielded as a weapon. It hurts and destroys. Positive influencers use their power well and wisely. Those who impact the world for the better are careful and wise with their words, actions, and behaviors. They operate with open heart and care deeply about their leadership, communication, and the influence they have on others. They take it seriously, as a special honor and responsibility not to be flaunted or misused. They understand their special role, and accept it with grace, compassion, and care.
Here’s to all of us changing the world for the better. No task is too small.

KEEPING A DIARY… OF THANKS!

I found this exercise in a book on Zen living; it’s one of my favorites.  Just take a notebook and start writing down the things you’re grateful for.  Start with the obvious and work from there.  Easy, huh?

Be grateful for having food, water, and a roof above your head.  Simple, right?  If you woke up at 5 A.M. and can’t go back to sleep, be grateful for getting to see the sunrise.  If you’re facing a challenge, be grateful for the opportunity to learn from it.  I can’t help but learn something new all the time.  Sometimes the lesson is painful. but it is a lesson none the less.

You don’t have to write every day, but make sure you open your journal at least once a week.  It can be very easy to indulge in self-pity, blame, and anger, but appreciating what you have will help you stay positive.

Things Get Better

When you’re struggling,  grieving, or suffering from heartache… the pain can feel unbearable.  Even in everyday life, the weight of a little things can be heavy indeed.

But always remember the Proverb: “This too shall pass.”  Your negative feelings won’t last forever. I have learned from experience that there really is a light at the end of every tunnel.  It might not happen today or tomorrow, but you’ll feel better eventually.

When you understand and accept the tumultuous nature of life,  it’s a lot easier to stay calm and relaxed – even in the hardest of times.

Mental List of Awesomeness

Having healthy self-esteem keeps anxiety at bay, improves personal relationships, and encourages optimism.  If you don’t appreciate yourself enough – or are feeling down – try making a mental list of “awesome” stuff you’ve done recently.

Example: Went for a jog/ walk… instead of watching TV, helped a friend, made an excellent presentation at work. etc. etc.  Make a written list if you want and don’t be modest!

You’ll find that, as you go over your good/healthy actions (which also are A-W-E-S-O-M-E) and choices, you start to feel great about yourself.  It’s hard not to when you remind yourself how amazing you are!  Hey, if we’re not going to cheer ourselves on… then who?

What’s The Worst That Could Happen?

It’s easy to become worried over the little things: the human mind can blow things way, way out of proportion. I personally am guilty of that. To stop that from happening, always ask yourself: what’s the worst that could happen?

Chances are, “The worst” isn’t that bad.  You’ll still be fine if you don’t ace tomorrow’s presentation/ test.  You may get into an argument with your significant other, but usually there’s a meeting of the minds and things actually improve in the relationship. You get the idea.

Sure, it would be better if things went according to plan, but sometimes they don’t. When you’re no longer afraid of any outcome, you can focus on having fun and getting things done.  Don’t wind yourself up for no reason!

Reach Out and Help Someone

We live in a culture that encourages self-centeredness.  Even our buzzwords:  self-help, self-promotion, self-esteem – reflect our obsession with this. But if you want to feel great… then try “giving” to someone else!

Donate a few dollars to charity; it can change someone’s life.  Pick up trash on your walk at home or on the beach; it’s respect for Nature and fellow Man… and everyone wins. Call a long spoken to friend/ relative, if even for a few minutes, it will make his/her week. Buy food for a local Food Bank.  The list is lengthy.

Simple, simple things mean so much.

It takes very little to help someone out. When you make a big difference with just a few minutes – or dollars – you’ll always remember how important and amazing you are. And with an attitude like that, it’s hard to be anything but positive!