“Thank you for life, and all the little ups and downs that make it worth living.” – Travis Barker
I am grateful for this life. A life filled with adventure, love, learning, and interacting with others. I am grateful for the problems, challenges, sorrows, and mistakes. I am grateful for the teachers and mentors I have benefited from. I am grateful for everything this life has provided to me. Without the challenges, life would be boring.
Think about your life for a moment. How can you be happy without the ability to be sad? How can you be healthy without the ability to be sick? How can you be bored without the ability to be engaged?
We live in a world that is composed of opposites and paradoxes. These opposites are necessary for our existence. Without the valleys there would be no mountains. Without heat there would not be cold. Without problems there would be no solutions.
I am grateful for change. Without change life would be static. There would be no growth, no learning, no experiences worth our while. The changes that come in our lives make life interesting. They keep us on our toes. They spurn learning, particularly when life tosses us an unpleasant surprise.
Think about the last time you were sick. When you get better you cherish the health that returns. Think about the last time you lost a loved one. When you find a new partner, pet, or friend you cherish that relationship more because you have felt loneliness, emptiness, and sorrow.
Think about when you learned the most. It is likely a time of stress, peril, and uncertainty. Without the opposites that are ever-present in our lives, we would have nothing to compare the good times with. They would all just be. This would cause problems because our minds could not grasp good or bad, up or down, light or dark. We need change. We need the opposites. We need the ups and downs of life.
Each year around this time, I contemplate my life. I look at past mistakes. I look at past victories. I look at my experiences. Some of these experiences have been unpleasant. Some of these experiences have been wonderful. Some of these experiences have been horrible. Some of these experiences have been healing. With each experience we go through we come out of them stronger, wiser, and more loving.
Why is the world set up this way? Why are we here? We are here to learn how to give love and receive love. We are here to become stronger spiritually. We are here to contribute to one another and participate in life. Your life is about learning, teaching, communicating, and contributing. Right now, you are the strongest and best you have ever been.
I invite you to do the same thing I am doing. Contemplate your life. Find those time periods where you had great success. Find the times your life was turned inside out. Look for patterns. You’ll be amazed when you see how each problem or challenge you faced made you stronger and put you in a situation that was better than the situation you were in previously.
Once you have completed this exercise, write down the things you have learned. Write down the things you have done. Write down the things you would like to do. Then get around to doing them. Live a life of meaning, purpose, and achievement. What else do you have to do?
I hope you are having a great time this year. I hope you have some goals you are committed to. I hope you are laying the plans for a great 2019. I wish all of you well on your journey this year.
Until next time…
“As long as you keep going, you’ll keep getting better. And as you get better, you gain more confidence. That alone is success.” – Tamara Taylor
All of us start out in different places. This is what makes us human. You may a great artist; I may be a great speaker. The key is to recognize where you are starting from, set your sights on getting beyond your current talents to improve them.
Some advocate that we concentrate on our strengths and forget our weaknesses. I’m old school. Why should I fix what isn’t broken? Why should I neglect the parts of my make up that are not as strong as the others? I know what my weaknesses are, and I want to bring them up a bit, so they are no longer weaknesses.
Deciding is the key. Decide what you want. Decide what you want to work on. Decide on where you want to go and be. Then, formulate a plan, break it down into easy steps, and start working on each step daily. You’ll get where you want to go in no time.
Here’s what I’ve done this week:
Jim Stoppani’s Shortcut to Size – (www.bodybuilding.com) – I’ve done this workout before and returning to it because it is just a good all-around weight routine. It’s 8 weeks in length, a 4-day split with 3 rest/cardio days mixed in.
Armor, Steakley – Recommended by an Army Buddy. A terrific book so far.
The Shariyat Ki Sugmad, Paul Twitchell – This is my bible. I finished it and will re-read again. This book is a permanent fixture on my reading list.
De-mystifying Mindfulness Course – Coursera – I’ve completed all the coursework so far and waiting until Nov 4, 2018, for the course to continue. One drawback of Coursera is the scheduling. Udemy allows you to buy the whole course, complete the whole course on your schedule and provide a certificate at the end.
Ozark – Netflix – Season 2!
House of Cards – Netflix – Final Season. This was ok, but they ran out of gas. There were a lot of loose ends in the series and well, that’s all I got. I’d stick with the first few seasons and bail after that. Kevin Spacey made the show. After his trouble in the media and the law, the show would not survive.
I hope all of you are having a terrific week! See you tomorrow for Funny Friday!!
Until next time…
“One of the principles, or laws, of Divine Spirit is that there is always one more step. There is always one more heaven.” —Harold Klemp The Language of Soul
I believe in this quote. I think the universe would be boring if there was a place where no more improvement was possible. Think about that for a moment. I remember watching an episode of the Twilight Zone when I was a kid. This gangster was killed and went to “heaven”. As time passed, he started to become bored. Everything he did was perfect, he won at the gambling tables in heaven, he had all the good-looking girls, he had whatever he wanted. It finally dawned on him to ask the question: “This isn’t heaven is it?” and a man in a white suit, playing the part of the Devil, laughed insanely. The episode ended at that point. I think a heaven that existed, without any possibility of improving ourselves beyond what we achieve during our life, would be like this episode.
Improvement is gratifying. Improvement is motivating. Improvement shows us how we’ve grown through our own efforts. Without improvement, we stagnate. I don’t ever want to be in that position. I hope you don’t either.
Choose what you want to be good at. Set a goal. Set a date. Measure your progress. At some point, you’ll arrive. Then set another one.
Goals carry us forward and drive us to achieve things we didn’t think we could. This improvement also allows us to better support ourselves, help others, and build a skill. Achieving our goals is both challenging and rewarding. It is a self-perpetuating process, once you see even the smallest success. Whether you are in the gym, in your office, or at home, there is always one more thing we can improve for the better.
I hope all of you are having a terrific Saturday!
Until next time…
“The only true wisdom is in knowing you know nothing.” – Socrates
Knowledge is so fleeting, isn’t it?
We learn something, gain some knowledge, apply that knowledge and learn more. So much of what we learn, gain, and apply is unique to each of us. Our unique nature drives us to learn things that others are not interested in, but literally, drive us to learn more. The more we learn, gain, and apply, the more nuances we discover during the process that are specific to us.
I find that knowledge, along with any skill we develop, evolves. The better we get at something; the more opportunities arise that allow us to grow again. Learning then is evolutionary and continuous. Each time we learn something new or gain proficiency in something provides more opportunities. These opportunities are more like capabilities. The more capable we are, the more things we can do, the more things we must learn, and the upward spiral continues. Each time we elevate to a new level compels even further learning, further improvement, and even more discipline than we had before.
This plus factor is continuous. There is always something more to learn, something more to explore, something more to experience. There is a catch, however. If you fail to push your limits continually, you will stagnate and digress.
The best analogy for this is exercise. Your body is an incredible machine that will adapt to new environments. If you stress your cardiovascular system, central nervous system, lymphatic system, musculature, tendons, and bones, the body responds by making them stronger. The body by itself is very stupid. It doesn’t know that you are curling a 20lb dumbbell or a 40lb dumbbell. It only knows the stress that is placed on it is greater than its current capability to lift or move this weight. Subsequently, the body over adapts by repairing that muscle to meet the demands that were placed on it. The same follows for every system in your body.
Each of us is unique but the principle of the plus factor is active in all aspects of our lives. Take advantage of this factor by improving all aspects of your life. Push yourself to get better physically and mentally. Increase your social circles and your network. Pursue improvements in your spiritual life. Each time you reach a new level, you’ll be able to do more. Then push again.
This is what this quote means to me. Each time we learn something or achieve something, we are on new ground. That new ground requires us to learn the new rules that only exist at this plateau. Be the very best you can be and continue to raise the bar. Growth is healthier than decline.
Until next time…
“The more we do, the more we can do.” – William Hazlitt
This quote speaks to me about our ability to continually improve or continually deteriorate. There are some days where everything I do builds on previous successes. At other times, I feel less than motivated to do anything. Interestingly, it is easy to fall into a pattern pursuing improvement or deterioration.
Have you ever witnessed someone who is happy and motivated? Everything they do is out of joy. Everything they do adds to them. Conversely, we probably all know that one friend or acquaintance who is avoiding life. They drink too much, do drugs, engage in overindulgences of all kinds, never realizing how they are wasting away their own life.
Positive lives filled with continual improvement are driven by goals and achievement; negative lives are those that are whimsical, procrastinating, and lack focus. One life is increasing, while the other is decreasing. I think all of us have experienced a traumatic situation that has put us in a tailspin. We lose all motivation. We lose that spark within that encourages us to pursue higher achievement. We stop living.
I’ve experienced these dark periods of life. Divorce, bankruptcy, losing my way, and feeling that I am some sort of victim that life will never give anything to. Have you experienced this? It is a tough place to be and sometimes the hole we’ve dug for ourselves is so deep and dark, we don’t even remember what a good life is. What did I discover during these dark times?
I discovered that much of our misery is caused by focus on the self. When you focus only on your feelings, your comforts, your wants, the selfishness begins to isolate you. It creates an emptiness that has no end. When I began to realize this, I sought to look outward. I sought to give of myself to others. How could I make someone else’s day just a little better?
When you focus outward and serve others, even if it’s a smile or wave at a stranger, a light begins to show itself. Our suffering begins to taper as we focus more and more on others. I can’t explain this but do know it’s true. The more we focus on others, the less we think about ourselves. The more we give, the more we get back.
Imagine a world where there was a peak of achievement. Once that achievement was accomplished there is no “better”, no improvement, no more hills to climb. Can you imagine how boring that existence would be?
I believe that we will never be perfect but the road to perfection is infinite. There is always one more thing we can do, one more step to take, one more place to go. This plus factor is what makes being human a wonderful experience. We can always achieve more, learn more, listen more, love more, and so on. This is what this quote means to me. “The more we do, the more we can do.” What a great life this is.
Until next time…
My life has been one, long, on-going adventure. It started in the early 80s when I enlisted in the US Army and began a 20-year career. What I’ve discovered over the years, particularly when I reflect on my life, is that there are turning points. These turning points are those actions that cause a move from one place, one person, or one attitude for another. This change, in my experience, has always been better for myself and those around me at the time.
Once such turning point came in August of 2003. One morning, I awoke and complained to my wife at the time that it felt like I had dislocated my hip. She got up and immediately called a doctor and I was set up for a meeting on a Monday morning. When I went to the doctor, he mentioned that I had been in for numerous visits concerning my lower back. In light of this, he recommended that I get an MRI and have it analyzed by a neurologist.
A few weeks later I got the results. They felt it was a herniated disc. The doctor upon receiving the results felt it might be a little more and sent me on my way to a neurosurgeon, who, in his opinion, would have a better idea of what might be going on. I met with this neurosurgeon about a week or so after that.
When I met with the neurosurgeon, I was surprised by the small office. I figured a neurosurgeon had to make a lot of money and would have all kinds of staff running around, a large office with all kinds of books, and a large desk with all of his degrees on the wall behind him. This wasn’t the case. To my surprise, his office was small, because he was never in it. He was one of many doctors in this office complex who split their time between this small little office and an operating room in the nearby hospital.
When I settled into my chair, the doc showed me a model of a human spine. He showed me what discs were affected and what he proposed to do, to alleviate me from the pain I had been experiencing for over a month. He also had me take a look at the pictures of my MRI, showing me what a normal disc looked like, compared to the distorted pictures of my discs in the MRI pictures. Obviously, I agreed to surgery. I was in a lot of pain, and my discs, the two largest discs in my back, were ruptured, with fragments of them drifting about. The doc told me the key problem is the lower disc, which has been rubbing on the nerve bundle that runs down the left leg, called the Sciatic nerve.
After my surgery, the pain was gone, but I had lost some feeling in my left leg. This was caused by the nerve damage the disc had done to that nerve bundle. It rubbed a hole in this bundle of nerves and did damage to them that would take a long time to heal. In light of this surgery and the result, my Army career was over. I opted to retire and put in my retirement paperwork when I hit my 20 years in October of 2004.
This turn of events also motivated me to go to school to get a degree before I retired. I was laid up for some time and had plenty of time on my hands. I earned a Bachelor’s degree and Master’s degree before I left the Army and got a great job with a prestigious firm in Los Angeles. Because of this move, so many things have unfolded.
This turn of events motivated me to get a degree, motivated me to retire, and motivated me to work in a field that was highly lucrative, which is why today at the young age of 53 I was able to retire and truly pursue what I love—writing. There are many more of these turning points throughout the last 12 years since my Army retirement. Interestingly, when the decision was made to leave the Army and go to work in the civilian sector, a calmness overtook my life, like a recognition that I had done the right thing. Have you ever experienced a turning point like this? A point which resulted in a major change in your life where the situation you found yourself was monumentally better than the situation you were in previously? If so, comment here. I’d love to hear your story.
Until next time…