You Have It, But Do You Use It?

Today one of the topics I’m reflecting on is the topic of goodness.  We’ve got a long way to go before we’d be considered “good,” yet there is much goodness in the world.  Pablo Casals said:

“Each person has inside a basic decency and goodness. If he listens to it and acts on it, he is giving a great deal of what it is the world needs most. It is not complicated but it takes courage. It takes courage for a person to listen to his own goodness and act on it.”

As with many things this is where goodness starts: with each of us.  We have so many abilities, capabilities and choices in our lives.  We truly don’t have to remain where we are or who we are.  We’ve all got the ability to create a better today and a better tomorrow.  But, as Casals points out, we have to listen to and act on it, or it’s pointless.  You can have all the dreams, desires and hopes in the world, be given the best education, read thousands of books, but without doing anything with all of them what good are they?  The people who we are impressed with are those who have had big dreams and done something about it.

Goodness, like anything else in the world only happens when we take courageous action to fulfill it and bring alive in the world.  I don’t know about you but I believe the world needs more people doing the right thing, doing random acts of kindness, making things right and making a difference wherever they can.  As I’ve said countless times before and will say again, it starts with each of us.  We may not be able to change the entire world by ourselves, but without each of us doing our part the world will never get anywhere close to the world we dream of.

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Hope and New Beginnings

We’re just days away from the year, some of us have already packed in this year and are eagerly trying to urge the days to move quicker and get out of 2018. I’ve got a couple more blog posts in store between all my blogs before the end of the year with some reflection, anticipation and hopefully words of wisdom before we get there.

In Philippians 2:4 it says: “Let each of you look not to your own interests, but to the interests of others.” In 2018 (and 2019) I don’t think it’s possible or right to not consider yourself and your own importance, but I don’t think that it’s right to only focus on yourself and never on how your life impacts or could impact others. Everyone, from the biggest leaders to youngest children should consider the impact they can have on the world, and on the feelings, hearts and minds of others.

Today I read an article about the Queen’s annual Christmas message, she spoke about the Biblical Christmas story: “I believe his message of peace on earth and goodwill to all is never out of date. It can be heeded by everyone; it’s needed as much as ever.” and about how to navigate this world of uncertainty, change and differences of opinion: “Even with the most deeply held differences, treating the other person with respect and as a fellow human being is always a good first step towards greater understanding…”

We could try and conquer world hunger in 2019, and honestly I think solving world hunger would be fairly simple to do if a few people would put their minds to it and more people stepped up to the plate to follow through on their directive. As impressive as it would be to do that, there’s something that I think is more important and as as big or bigger of an impact, and that’s doing our best to be at peace with and have respect towards each other.

It’s easy to make a snap judgment about someone, but it takes a little more care, compassion and heart to stop for all of a moment and really see them and really listen to them. It’s my hope that 2019 is a year of beginnings of respect and goodwill to all mankind.

Choosing What You See

As I shared on Monday, this month we’ll be talking about joy. With the topic we’ll obviously be spending a lot of time on joyful topics, but since joy, and it’s cousin happiness, are topics that challenge us, we’ll spend some time talking about some of the aspects of joy and happiness that we struggle with. Today we’re going to start off by dealing with the “what’s wrong with the world?!” statement you hear from people when they see something bad on the news or read about it in the paper. Let’s face it: there are plenty of things that are wrong with the world. If I felt the need to be depressed I’d list a bunch for you, but I don’t. I don’t like feeling depressed or facing the problems of the world even if I know they are there. Ignoring them won’t make them go away, and until everyone realizes how their actions impact others and choose to only help and not hurt, we’re stuck with them.

Joy and bad/evil are very opposite topics because you don’t usually find bad things where there is joy. But what if the reason that we don’t seem to have joy or happiness in our lives is because we’re too focused on the bad? It’s like when you’re thinking about purchasing a new car or just purchased a new car, you see that car everywhere you drive. There aren’t more of that car on the road all of a sudden, what has changed is you. You’re seeing different things, choosing to see different things, and focused on that car.

So what’s to say that if you choose to see the good rather than the bad things wouldn’t change? If instead of thinking the world was a bad place you thought the world could have potential, that there’s hope for a better tomorrow? Is it possible for one person’s choice to see the good and not the bad have an impact on the world around them? I believe so. Because one less person watching the news for the bad in the world is one more person choosing to see the world for the good in it. What will you choose to see this week?

“Man is fond of counting his troubles, but he does not count his joys. If he counted them up as he ought to, he would see that every lot has enough happiness provided for it.”  Fyodor Dostoevsky

The Return on Thanksgiving

I’m a believer in Karma (reaping/sowing, cause/effect, reincarnation, the Rule of Three, payback, etc.). Call it what you want but I believe that there are repercussions, reactions and responses to our actions whether they are good or bad. I believe that if you are nasty to someone you’ll suffer similarly in the future or something else will be the kickback/payback for your cruelty. If you are someone who steps up to the plate whenever a need arises I believe that your needs will be met as well. It’s not always black and white but I believe that for every action there is (at least) an equal and opposite reaction.

I know that most of us are looking for an edge in life and being happy or successful, and I believe that Karma and being thankful are two things that can work for your advantage if you’ll work with them. The foundation of this edge however has to be your understanding of how it works. It’s really quite simple: when you do good, good things will come to you, and when you do bad things, bad things will come to you. Again, it may not be immediate, but then again it may be so immediate that it smacks you upside the head without warning.

So if you’re in need of a little boost or advantage today in your life the place to start is with Karma and being thankful. It may not be the easiest place for you, but it’s one that not only is good for you, but good for others as well. I’ve read countless stories and talked with countless people about how a kind action totally changed their life. You, too may have stories you could share of the difference that someone made in your life because they were kind.

So the closer we get to Thanksgiving, Hanukkah and Christmas I encourage you to get caught up in the spirit, and challenge you to stay in the spirit all year long. Be thankful, spread goodness and accept the blessings that come your way.

“The unthankful heart… discovers no mercies; but let the thankful heart sweep through the day and, as the magnet finds the iron, so it will find, in every hour, some heavenly blessings!” Henry Ward Beecher

Trapped by Lies or Freed by Truth?

One of the things that annoys me most is when people feel they can’t make mistakes.  Let’s get this straight for once and all: no one is perfect.  Everyone makes mistakes at some point in time or another.  The issue is that we can’t accept that it’s OK to make mistakes and for others to make mistakes.  The fact that Christians are expected to be perfect is absolute garbage.  There are no perfect Christians, not in church or out.  The sooner we accept that we’re surrounded by people who make mistakes and have room for improvement the better off we will be.

But because we haven’t all accepted that it’s OK to not be perfect, some people feel it is necessary to lie or omit the truth so that they appear as if they have it all together.  This usually does more harm than any intended good, and is one of the main reasons Christians have been given the often truthful ‘hypocrite’ label.  Yes, there is value in not showing up for life in the dirty sweats that show how you really feel about things right now, and showing courage and being willing to push forward through your struggles.  The value disappears when you put on that front to create the illusion that there are no issues beyond what you may see.

Asking for help doesn’t make you weak, it makes you strong!  Lies don’t help you move forward in life or get closer to God, they hurt you! When you present a lie to the world or omit important details you damage your relationships, diminish your professionalism, decrease your chances for success and do the opposite of what God wants you to do.

It’s not always easy to tell the truth and be honest, I get that.  It’s not easy to tell others that you screwed up, that you need help or that you’re struggling.  But the sooner we start taking those steps, the sooner we will feel better about our lives, have healthier relationships and accomplish our goals.

“And you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.”  John 8:32

Together We Have More

“The good we secure for ourselves is precarious and uncertain until it is secured for all of us and incorporated into our common life.” Jane Addams

Jane Addams brings up a good point, one I’ve seen proof of over and over: together we all have more than we do separately.  We’re designed down in our genes to be together, work together, live together and succeed together. Yet many of us don’t see the point in helping others and are only concerned about our personal future.  Let’s think about it from a very simple perspective: if we didn’t have schools for our kids we would have to homeschool them.  You might be OK with that, but others definitely say there’s no way they would ever want to be without a school that they can send their kids to.  Personally I believe that there’s a lot of improvement needed in our schools, but until more people are willing to call for and make changes happen nothing will change for the better.

Another example would be in the fact that I can only snack on organic celery (as opposed to regular celery).  No matter how good organic celery may be for me, unless there are other people who want organic celery at the same stores I shop in, the stores won’t carry it.

But all this goes back to the age old marketing lesson that if you really like something or something really matters to you you’ll tell all your friends and get them involved in it too.  You can’t go too far online before you run into a charity or non-profit looking for some assistance or just a “share.” No matter how helpful or amazing that charity is, it won’t get anywhere without more than a few of us stepping up to support them.

The reason we have schools, organic celery and charities changing the course of people’s lives for the better is because we’ve accepted them and incorporated them into our lives.  These aren’t things that only benefit one person, but rather benefit whole communities and groups of people.  What have you done lately for others?

Confidence in Patience

“Yet I am confident I will see the Lord’s goodness while I am here in the land of the living. Wait patiently for the Lord. Be brave and courageous.  Yes, wait patiently for the Lord.”

These verses present a concept some of us aren’t very good with: delayed gratification.  Yes, we like our stuff NOW.  But as a business owner and coach I know that if we all went viral all at once we’d miss out on lots of stuff that only happen when things are built strongly over time.  Not to say that it’s not good to get stuff or be successful quickly, but that there is value in having to work and/or wait for the good stuff.

One of the harder things to wait for is for the miracles we pray for: for the answers to financial burdens, health troubles or relationship challenges.  When we feel like we’re between the rock and hard place and God tells us to wait it’s not something we look forward to hearing, let alone want to hear.  Which is one of the things that our quick culture has really encouraged.  While hundreds of years ago they knew that things took time, today we’re expecting instant internet-type results.

As the verses point out, it’s really important for us to be confident in knowing we’re on the right path, the path God wants us on and the path that, while it may take some work, is really a good learning experience for us.  I’ve been through more things than some but not as many as others in my relatively short life.  And one thing I learn over and over is that each and every moment in life is a learning moment.  We can be blessed by more moments than we suspect if only we were open to the blessings.  I don’t know about you, but I want more blessings!!

This week I encourage you to be confident.  Not just the fake-it-til-you-make-it confidence, but confidence in knowing that God made an amazing person (you) and that you are more capable and powerful than you ever knew or believed.  I believe in you!