Do You Care?

Today I’ve got a challenging question to ask you that I’ve been asking myself: do you really care? Do you really care about what’s going on in the world, in the lives of friends and family, in your relationship with your partner, with your kids, or in your community? If you answered yes, does your life really reflect that you care? Just about everyone makes the appropriate noises or says the appropriate things when they have to, but do they really mean it? Do you really mean it?

One of the simplest ways to check if you really care is by taking a look at your finances. How are you spending your money each month? What charities or organizations do you donate your money or other resources (like your knowledge) to? If you’re spending your money on clothing from name brands who don’t have any type of cultural give-back/investment program and not giving to any charities or organizations I would have to say you don’t really care about any of the causes you say you care about.

The other way to check is how you’re spending your time. What posts are you sharing on social media? What conversations are you having over drinks with friends and at the dinner table with your family? If you’re religious what are you praying about or meditating over? Are you donating your time to support organizations and charities? Are you watching only pop-culture programs on the TV or are you watching some more educational ones as well? Are you subscribed to and reading educational or personal growth emails and blog posts/podcasts or are you only signed up for the latest sales?

I’m not asking you to care about every cause or person in the world. All I’m asking is if you’ve got anything in your life that you really care about, some way of leaving a legacy on this planet after you die, a way of making the world better for this generation or the next, and if you’re including things in your daily life that really matter to you. Yes, there are some things that are part of our lives that we may not enjoy or feel great about, but there should be something in each and every day that does matter to us and we enjoy. What are you looking forward to today?

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Reality Reflection: Everything to Everyone

I’m a fan of saying no to people, you know why? Because you don’t have to be everything to everyone. Not only is is about being honest to who you are and not putting yourself in positions that you’re completely unqualified for or incapable of doing, but because every time you take on something that you’re only slightly capable of (or not at all), you take away an opportunity from someone else who is qualified. If we really want this world to be all it can be, I think we have to be willing to share a little of the control with others, have to be willing to let them do their thing, and not get in the way when they take charge.

Yes, there are time when you’ll go a little outside your preferred box to help a friend or to try something new, and that’s a good thing. We should be trying new things to keep our minds engaged and learning. But we have our safe zones for a reason. The good news is that my safe zone isn’t the same zone as yours. You’ve got talents I don’t have and don’t have any inclination for developing. I believe there are plenty of opportunities for us within the things that interest and drive us that we should never have to take work, resources or life away from someone else.

But that does mean that we all have to step up in that which we are gifted in, and a whole lot less slacking, hiding or letting someone else’s sub-par job suffice. You need to take responsibility for what you can do in this world with your unique talents. Be proud of who you are and what you can do. That doesn’t mean you have to start a business or blog, it may just mean finding a company to work with and bring your unique talents to (one that fits better than your current one), or donating your time on weekends or vacations.

This week I encourage you to give others the chance to do what they do best, and choose to do what you do best. Who knows, you may not cure cancer today, but you certainly may bring a smile to someone’s face or relief to their life in some other way.

A Meaningful Life

The one thing that most people want in life is to know that their life is meaningful.  No one wants to reach the end of their life and feel like they’ve wasted all their opportunities.  I think this lines up really well with our topic of the month, fun, because we tend to enjoy life more when we’re feeling useful, helpful, and needed.  Doing good brings a strong feeling of pride to us and makes us feel (almost) invincible, or at least like our favorite superhero.  Living a meaningful life can also be really humbling because you’re having a possibly significant impact on someone’s life, an impact that can change them and their future in amazing ways, maybe giving them the opportunity to do really big things, things that you personally could never do.

Living a meaningful life can only happen if you’re willing to take action in your life.  It’s very difficult for most of us to live a meaningful life from our couches.  There are a few people who do, but most of us have to get out into the world in some way to make an impact, or at the very least interact with other people.

I think that living a meaningful life has to start with believing in yourself and that you have a gift (or several) you can share with the world.  None of us are perfect, but we’re not required to be perfect, know everything or be good at everything in order to live a life of meaning or make a difference in the world.  You don’t have to be the best baker to design websites.  You don’t have to know anything about phones to paint.  You don’t have to like animals to be a doctor.  The list, and comparisons, are endless.  Someone else is good at each of those things, but they don’t have to be good at others in order to fulfill a purpose, help someone else or feel fulfilled by life.  In fact, if you try to do everything I don’t think you’ll find much happiness or meaning in your life.

You don’t have to wait until the end of your life to appreciate living a life of meaning either, you can enjoy it and feel fulfilled by it today.  Many people also say that they find great pleasure, and fun!, by doing what they’re good at and making a difference in the world.  Rather than trying to fight against the direction your life is pulling you in because you’re scared or feel stuck or don’t feel like you’re ready to make the jump, I would encourage you to work on at the very least dipping your toes into those things that you know make you feel more fulfilled and make your life more meaningful this week.  Try at least one thing out that you’ve been wanting to do or get a little more creative about how you can incorporate those things into your current activities.  What brings meaning to your life?

Making the New Year Matter

What’s important to you? Is it that you meet your responsibilities, hang out and have fun, see the world, have lots of friends, your job or business, your pet(s), your kids, your health?  There’s no wrong answer really, unless it’s your passion for overeating or other really bad habits.  Everyone should find things in their own lives that matter to them and they would feel less fulfilled if they were without.

What matters to you doesn’t have to matter as much to me.  We don’t have to have the same interests or ways that we spend our time.  That’s one of the reasons why the world is great, the diversity of the people of the world makes it great.  But just because you like different things than I do, it doesn’t mean that some of the same things shouldn’t be important to both of us like family, contributing to the world and supporting ourselves.

As we get into this new year I encourage you to take time to think about what’s really important to you and if the way you’re spending your days  really backs that up.  Are you really spending your time and money on the things that matter to you?  Are you making choices that support the things and people that matter to you? Are you really aware of what goes on in your life or are you just trying to make it through the day?  If you’re ready to do more than just live day to day, I encourage you to start lining up your habits and life with the things that really matter to you.

Reality Reflection: Winners and Losers

Tuesday this week in the US was election day.  When people woke up on Wednesday morning some were quite surprised with how it turned out and who won.  People were surprised for many reasons including the facts that winner has been someone who has said a lot of controversial things throughout the race and that the winner is not a traditional politician.  As with every race there has to be a winner and a loser, sometimes the underdog wins, sometimes the bad guy wins, and sometimes the winner is the one everyone thought was a shoe-in.  I’m not going to technically reflect on the result today. What I want to talk about is what we can learn from the result of the election, and there are tons of lessons regardless of which side of the very divisive fence you are on.

First and foremost I believe this is a wake-up call. If you listened to the news or lived in the US for the months and years leading up to the election you’re familiar with the unrest that is being experienced  most often as shown with shootings and between the police and minorities.  There have been countless calls for change and change has been slow moving, if it has really even happened. The reality is though that you can’t expect change to happen if you aren’t willing to do anything to change. Sometimes those changes are relatively easy like switching breads because your favorite company went out of business.  Others are much more difficult like learning how to walk again after spinal surgery or after you lost a leg.  The type of change that people have been calling for isn’t the bread type of change, it’s the learning to walk again type of change.  And as the well-known definition of insanity says: insanity is doing the same thing over and over and expecting a different result.  (While that may work for flipping coins it doesn’t work in the situation of human life and tragedy.)

So this very real wake-up call, that the divisive non-politician would be elected, means that people are really sick of how things have been run for a very long time and are finally willing and able to step up and say so.  Maybe what we had wasn’t so bad and we were getting along OK with it, but I believe that we can do better as a people and as a country. Maybe what we need most is someone with a big set of brass balls to step up and make some changes. No one makes all good changes, but the hope is always that the majority of changes that are considered are given careful thought given to how other people will be affected by the intended result before changes are made, and that decisions aren’t made based on superficial qualities like money, skin color or sex.

The second lesson here is that there’s always a chance you’ll lose or fail.  We don’t like losing or failing especially on such a grand scale or in front of so many people, but sometimes it happens.  When the loss or failure happens it is important to take a step back and see why the loss or failure happened.  Maybe you weren’t the right person for the job, maybe you don’t have all the qualities that are needed, maybe you didn’t bring enough confidence to the table, maybe you were trying so hard to make yourself look good and fit the mold that you missed that the mold was no longer a mold, maybe you didn’t throw enough money in the ring, maybe you didn’t give it enough hours, maybe you didn’t try something new, maybe you secretly needed to fail so you could finally have a day off, maybe you needed to lose because there’s something bigger and better for you to work on, and maybe the reason you lost or failed isn’t apparent today but will be revealed years from now.

I close with a thought that I heard as part of one of the reactions to the election result: whether you agreed with the election result or not there’s nothing we can do about it now, it has been decided.  What we can do though is decide how we will live each and every day.  You still have control over the attitude you live with, the career you pursue, the people you’re in relationship with, what you do when you lose or fail, and how hard you work to accomplish your goals, dreams and purpose in life.  One leader can do a lot of good or a lot of harm, but they are only one person, just like you are only one person and I am only one person. We may not have the platform that the president has, but that doesn’t mean we can’t continue to do our part to make the world a better place, regardless of whatever hate or violence others around the world choose to try to throw around.  Don’t let a single loss or failure determine the rest of your life. Don’t stop working after a single victory.  Each day is a new opportunity to resolve to do your very best and make the very best impact on the world you can.

Celebrating the Saints

Today, November 1 is known as All Saints Day in some religious circles.  Technically, “saints” are all those who have attained heaven.  However, most people traditionally associate this day with remembering those officially declared as Saints (St. Patrick, St. Michael the Archangel, St. Francis of Assisi, St. Teresa of Avila, St. Therese of Lisieux etc.).  I think that this is an important day to recognize because the Spiritual Leaders, the people who are officially Sainted, are those who we should be looking to for guidance and wisdom about how to live our lives and grow our faith.

You may think that there isn’t a lot of point to talking about the same people all the time, whether we’re talking about Saints or people from the Bible like Abraham, David and Paul.  Or that because we spend so much time talking about them we don’t take the time to talk about the  things that the regular people are doing with their faith like you and me.  I get that, and I agree that we don’t take time to recognize the faith of the individual as we should, and sometimes feel that we’re so busy putting spiritual leaders on pedestals and figure that we could never measure up, which makes us forget that they’re human just like us.

But the simple fact is the faith of the world is built on people both large and small, people who have world-wide stages, and those who just share their faith with a few.  Yes, we’re all called to spread the word about God to the nations, but we’re not all called to do it in the same way.  We each do things differently and while we’re not all created to be a “Spiritual Leader,” we are all called to use the different gifts and talents God has given us to spread the word in our own way.

Everyone needs guidance, and the Spiritual Leaders like the Saints are there to give us the strength, courage and guidance to know how to handle situations.  Don’t be afraid to look to those who have more wisdom and experience, instead celebrate that they were given that gift, that responsibility, and take the opportunity to learn from them rather than rejecting them because they are too well known or you figure you’ve heard it all before.

Passion: Present and Future

As we finish out last month’s talk on health, I want to talk about something that is sometimes necessary: starting over.  I was thinking about finishing September and getting one step closer to the end of this year and the start of a new one and I was reminded that sometimes you have to keep trying things to see where you fit in throughout your life.  What worked for you as a younger person may not work for you as an adult at this stage of your life, and what works now may not work for you in a few years.

As I was thinking about this I heard more about the phenom that is Tim Tebow.  If you’re not familiar with him, he was a college football star. He won the Heisman Trophy as a sophomore and continued his record setting career through the rest of his college years.  He spent a few years playing Pro football, having a few very successful (some would say lucky) plays and games, but ultimately retired in 2012.  He went on to do some broadcasting, but decided it wasn’t the right fit for him and moved to pro baseball in 2016 to quite a few heckles and jeers, but managed to hit a home run on his first at bat.

What interests me about the transitions he’s done in his life is that he keeps trying.  He was a fantastic college football player, but as it sometimes happens he wasn’t built for pro football.  Many people after they finish their pro career go to broadcasting or some related sports non-activity, which he tried.  But for some just being near something isn’t enough, they have to be truly immersed in it, as seems to be true for Tebow.

I would say the message here is two-fold.  First, that you should never give up on your passions.  Second, that you may have to keep trying and reinventing to get to your best.  Don’t give up because past success isn’t working in the present, instead, pick yourself up and try something else.