Reality Reflection: Living Today

With this new year it seems that some people have started the year being called on to the next stage of their journey. No, you don’t really want to work through a death during the holiday season, so in some ways it’s better that it’s after the holiday season, but there’s never a “good” time to lose someone. There’s also never a good time for your life to end, everyone has more living to do, more memories to make, and more they could do to make the world a better place. But as myself and others have experienced this past week, everyone has to face that transition at some point in time or another.

This week I read a quote that fit in with how this week has gone very well. Jose Ortega y Gasset said: “We cannot put off living until we are ready.” I don’t know if we’re ever truly ready for the challenges that life throws our way. Sometimes we feel more confident about facing them based on what we’ve done in the past or the teamwork we’ve got in place to support us or our current availability, but challenges almost always throw us for a loop and we’re forced to decide if we’re going to face them or give up or in.

I think the answer to how ready we are and should be goes back to two well known statements: ‘carpe diem’ (seize the day) and ‘life is meant to be lived’. Yes, some people become more famous after death than during their lives, but everything they become famous for they did during the time they were alive. The other day on the blogs I shared about another different way to look at the new year (instead of setting typical resolutions), and that would be to be more committed, and promise to do more, be more and live more.

Maybe this year is the year that you’ll finally step up and into the person you were made to be, committed to thriving and being there for the people who matter most in your life, including yourself.

Reality Reflection: Past, Present and Future

I was watching one of my favorite Christmas Carol renditions today and got to thinking abotu the different spirits that Scrooge meets. The first ghost, the Ghost of Christmas Past, made an impact on Scrooge, bringing up both good and bad memories of the past, but seeing the past and facing it doesn’t always transform a person as much as it gives us lessons to learn from or a foundation to build on.

Meeting the Ghost of Christmas Present, Scrooge learned what it was like to celebrate life, whether it’s a life of financial riches or a life of richness in family, and live in the moment. The meeting ends with Scrooge asking the ghost not to leave because he learned so much from this ghost. I think Charles Dickens could have finished the story at this point because Scrooge did learn a lesson and saw that there’s more to life than the way he was living. It’s a lesson many of us could learn, appreciating life and those in it instead of being so focused on what could go wrong or what our future might look like.

Yes, it’s important to have an eye to the future and make sure that the way you’re living today won’t have a seriously negative impact on the future of the world or on others, and that you’re prepared for some of the challenges life will likely send your way like old age or health challenges. After all, as Scrooge learned, the future can be pretty grim. The only way to change that is to live your life now with thought to past, present and future. It all comes back to how you’re living now.

This holiday season I would encourage you to take time to stop and enjoy. Enjoy the life you have, the people in it, the gifts you are given, and the memories you are making. Be thankful for getting this far in life and getting through your past as you have. Have a positive attitude about what the future will bring and the legacy that you will leave, but don’t let the future have too large of an influence on your life now that you can’t enjoy it or make a difference as the moment calls. What are you celebrating and appreciating today?

Tell Your Own Story

I was reading an article about the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge, the heir to the British royal throne and his wife, and their tour through Pakistan this week. The article talked about how the whole world is watching their story unfold, that we’re watching their autobiography be written with each word he/they say(s), thing he/they do(es) and place he/they goes. Many people don’t have a story written until they’re much older because they aren’t famous or important throughout their whole lives, but in the case of the Duke especially, we’ve always known that his future is important and bears watching.

One of the things that caught my attention in the article was how they saw and placed importance on the story that the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge (and other royal family members) are creating through how they live. The Queen for example has done a great job of writing a story that portrays her as a strong leader who loves life and is extremely proud of her country and people. Just like them, we too have a say in the choices we make in our lives, but we aren’t usually as carefully conscious of how the way we live will impact the story we’re hoping to write.

Halloween is coming up in just about two weeks, and it’s a chance for many of us to tell a story about our dreams and someone we wish we could be or dream about being or have a fantasy about. For some of us it’s a chance for a little fun, but for others of us we’re serious about the person we’re dressing up to be, it’s who we wish we could be and part of a story we wish we were writing.

Life does hold responsibilities we each have to face, but more than ever people are proving that you don’t have to be something you hate or do what your parents wanted you to do just to meet those responsibilities. We each have the ability to choose how we conduct ourselves even when dealing with people and things we don’t really enjoy or are burdened by. Much of our story is told through what we say and how we conduct ourselves, especially when it’s difficult, and that’s definitely something we have control over especially when we don’t have control over other things like how other people act.

What story are you telling through your words and actions?  Is it time to write a new chapter in your story, or maybe even a whole new book?

Reality Reflection: Intended Destinations

I subscribe to lots of inspirational sites and get lots of articles, quotes and Bible verses on a daily basis (not to mention watch cute puppy videos), I think it’s important for us to get outside perspectives and encouragement, especially with life as challenging as it can be some days. Recently I saw a quote that really spoke to me:

“I may not have gone where I intended to go, but I think I have ended up where I intended to be.” Douglas Adams

I find this quote so interesting because it speaks the truth about so many of our life paths. Sometimes we’re really wrong about how to get from point A to point B (which is actually point F or G), and sometimes the path we take doesn’t bring us anywhere close to our intended destination. It can be really frustrating sometimes to walk the path of life, but I believe that our lives take the turns they take for a reason (sometimes because we screwed up), and with each new step on the path of life we take there’s an opportunity for us to learn something or do something or get closer to being the best person we can be.

I was also recently reminded that we’re human beings, not human doings. Yes, typically to become our best self there has to be actions taken, but as much as it’s about what we do with our lives, it’s more about the person we become through our life journey. Who are you being each day? Are you being someone you’re proud of or someone who is denying the help they need or someone who hurts others?

At the end of the day most of us want to be happy, fulfilled and loved. Some days we barely feel like we manage any of those, let alone all 3, but with a little more care, a little more focused effort, a little more teamwork, a little more wisdom, and a little more patience, I believe we all can end up not only where we need to be but also where we are very happy to be. What is your life path teaching you at this time?

Reality Reflection: Judgments and Honesty

I’m a big fan of what I thought to be a growing trend of people who are doing business and living honestly, and with the best interests of everyone at heart.  But, the truth is that there are quite a few who aren’t on the bandwagon yet.

Bill Hybels said, “What’s further saddening to me is the growing trend, specifically in the United States culture, to throw stones first and ask questions later.”

Why should you throw stones first?  Actually, why throw stones at all?  When you throw a stone you are most likely to break something.  Maybe you break a window, maybe it’s a finger, or maybe it’s a broken heart.

In this world of preferences, options, opportunities, varieties, differences, variations, and changes, the likelihood that you jumped to an incorrect conclusion before you threw that stone is a very high one.

I would much rather ask questions and get to know you, than jump to a judgment that is completely off base.  Is it easy to not jump to conclusions? No, we’re a jumpy society.  It takes a lot of work to suspend your judgment of someone or something.

My question for you today is what good does throwing stones do?  Does it actually feel good to sling nasty things at your “competition”? Do you feel good seeing the pissed or crushed look on someone when you immediately sweep them under the rug without giving them the time to explain or clarify?

So before you leave your house this week, make sure you’ve got your keys, wallet, computer, cell phone and any other necessarys, and leave your snap judgments behind your locked and closed door.

Reality Reflection: Why me?

In thinking about Mother’s Day tomorrow, the topics of self worth and self confidence came up.  Some days we’re really confident in who we are and what we can do, but other days it seems like we can do nothing right and nothing is going our way and there doesn’t seem to be a victory or end in sight.  Are we struggling because we have doubts or are we struggling because we’re not open to the good stuff?

When we do seem to be making progress we wonder why it’s so easy. We wonder at the good things that come our way, as well as the bad things. Why is it hard for us to accept the good as well as the bad?  Why don’t we trust in, appreciate or accept the good stuff when it comes our way?

Yes, we’ve been burned by offers that promise the moon and don’t even leave the ground. We’ve been hurt by people we trust. But when it’s not life or death that we’re being offered, but a simple kindness, why do we still struggle to accept or refuse?

Unfortunately, a lot of it has to do with how we’ve been treated and how we view ourselves. Self esteem issues are rampant in our society, even those of us who have no reason whatsoever to have issues do. It’s unfortunately like walking past a smoker: you can catch it without even trying. Maybe you haven’t done anything to be worthy of the kindness of another, maybe God just chooses to bestow it on you.

This week instead of just dismissing the good stuff that comes your way, or ignoring it and pretending it didn’t approach you, I encourage you to open your arms to it and be thankful for it. When you focus on the good stuff, it’s been shown that more good stuff comes your way. What good things will fill your life when you open up to them?

Reality Reflection: Your Best Self

Every day different things get thrown at us. We have to work on navigating complex and often frustrating situations, deal with unexpected problems or challenges, make snap decisions on potential opportunities that come our way, work with interpersonal challenges, and try to fit everything into the limited time we have each day like cleaning the house, taking out the garbage and doing the laundry. But one of the biggest choices we have to make each day is who we’re going to be. I suggest that each day you choose to be the best version of yourself.

Why? Because choosing to be your best will give you a leg up in life. Being your best means that you’ll make decisions that will help you, you’ll feel more confident as you face life’s challenges and opportunities, and life will look a whole lot brighter and better. It will also help you have better and healthier relationships and interactions with others, which will help you and it will make other people like you more. No, I’m not suggesting that the goal in life is to make other people like you or to be a pushover, but rather that life is a whole lot more pleasant and easier if people like you than if you’re constantly fighting with them, being inconsiderate, or putting them down.

Does it take courage to be the best version of yourself? Sometimes, yes. Other times it takes determination and conviction when it would be so much easier to take the low road when you’re having a bad day.  But choosing to be your best self means believing in yourself, believing that you’re a capable, caring and qualified human who may not be perfect but certainly does their best to live their life in a way that they are proud of.  I don’t know about you but I’d much rather get to the end of the day knowing I did my best rather than get there and feel like a failure.  Will you join me in choosing to be your best today?