April 1 is also known as April Fool’s Day. It’s never been a holiday I’ve enjoyed, I’m not the type to play pranks on others or find any enjoyment when they’re played on me. It’s not that I don’t enjoy having fun, I just don’t enjoy any malicious types of humor. Yet there are people who even make careers out of playing pranks and doing things that aren’t really helpful or friendly. Jokes can be funny, sarcasm has a place, and there’s never too much laughter in the world. But I believe in helping, not hurting, and the scars that are caused by pranks can leave very lasting results.
The name of the day itself raises an interesting point if looked at another way. April Fool’s Day is a reminder that each and every one of us have been foolish at some point in time. Maybe we’ve made a silly mistake, maybe we’ve trusted without due diligence, maybe we’ve been swindled or conned, but it’s a reminder that we’re not perfect and shouldn’t judge others for being foolish either. It’s never fun to look back on those mistakes or failures or errors, nor do we want to look back on them again and again. In fact, they hold the most power over us when we don’t take action to not make them again. If you do something wrong once, that’s a mistake, but in repeating the mistake you venture into ‘fool’ territory.
Another April Fool’s Day has passed so you can breathe easier about the tricks being done hopefully for another year. If you were played a trick on this year, maybe it’s the motivation you needed to find a little fun in your life and not take things so seriously. Pranks are often played on those who forget that fun should be had in life and every moment doesn’t have to be serious or productive. It may also be a reminder that you need to get your life on track and take things more seriously if you’ve been the fool of late. And if you played some pranks I’d encourage you to reconsider next year because I know people who have been seriously hurt by what seemed to be a very simple prank, which makes you the fool, not them.
When was the last time you had a great idea? Maybe it wasn’t cure AIDS or world peace great but great in it’s own context. It could be something as simple as a great idea for dinner, or a bigger breakthrough idea for a client or at work. Great ideas don’t have to be complicated or multi-stepped, though sometimes they are, these little bursts of insight are your mind’s way of showing you that you’re smart and capable and brilliant. Sometimes they come immediately while other times your brain has to work through things for a bit before it can spit out greatness.
Why do I bring this up? Because as we get to the end of this month and consider what’s next I wanted to make sure we talked about mental health, including confidence. Our minds are amazing creations that keep us going, that grow if we feed them and are essential to living. Think about the term ‘brain dead’: without brain activity there’s nothing we can do without the help of modern medicine, but if we were to lose an arm or leg or are scarred in some other way, we could still function and even have an amazing life should we choose.
So what choices have you made thus far in your life? Have you chosen to believe that you are capable of having good ideas and that you’re an amazing and talented person or are you just focused on the voices of others who have told you you’re not good enough or that the ideas you’ve come up with are stupid? Now I’m not saying we all only have amazing ideas and none of your ideas were ever bad or silly, just that you are fully capable of having great, life-changing ideas that can not only rock your world but others’ as well. Some people choose to use their minds for bad things, and you may choose that as well, but I believe it’s better to use our minds for the good of ourselves and others, rather than for harm.
My encouragement today is that you believe great things about yourself and your future, because you are worth an amazing future that allows you to show off a little who you are and what you can do, is filled with great people who love you and you’re working on achieving your big dreams and goals by overcoming the challenges and obstacles you face and coming up with new great ideas every day.
By nature I’m not a humorous person. I don’t look for ways to make people laugh, watch lots of comedies on TV, pranks on YouTube, or funny movies. While I do see the point of laughter and enjoy the occasional lighter TV show, video or movie, I generally prefer the more serious, creative and curious side of life. If you enjoy more humorous things I fully support you and have no issue with that, it’s more than OK to like different things.
It’s unfortunate that much of our humor and jokes have to do with making fun of people. I can remember as a kid making fun of or picking on other kids, it’s something we all do on occasion. Some people even manage to make a good living out of it. Sometimes it is beneficial to take a lighter perspective on the challenges of life because life can get to be too much. But sometimes it goes too far.
I’ve never been a fan of April Fool’s Day. I think it ends up hurting people more often than not. Sure, there are some harmless jokes that can be shared, like Explore’s Dino Cam, but often they backfire on you or have longer lasting ramifications. I don’t see the point in spending a whole day tricking each other, no matter how valuable it is to lighten up in life. The world would benefit more from a day celebrating cute baby animal videos and doing acts of kindness.
Sometimes we use humor to hide our own pain or make ourselves feel better about our lives vs. those that others live. There’s no logical way that would make any kind of good impact on the world. So why do we keep doing it? The next time you think about playing a practical joke, making fun of someone or picking on someone, think again about how it feels when you’re on the receiving end.
On Wednesday on the family and business blog I talked about, among other things, not being lazy. I hear from so many people that they don’t know things or that something is too much work. A business owner was sharing with me the steps he had to go through to help a client and the thought I had was “yea, that’s your job!” It wasn’t like their client was asking for something unreasonable or that extra work was really required, it was just the normal work required to do his job.
But it got me thinking about how easy we really have it in today’s world. We can go online and find answers to just about anything. It’s just a matter of taking the initiative to do the research. We can get just about any products we want, it’s just a matter of finding it for sale on eBay, Amazon, Etsy or another site that reaches into the world. We can go anywhere it’s just a matter of finding a way or the money to do so.
So what’s the moral of this story? It starts with accepting that life takes work! Even with all the shortcuts and resources we have today there’s still work to be done. I’m OK with sharing about what we’re doing or the steps it took to achieve victory. It’s great to celebrate your hard work and the things you accomplish. But don’t expect me to celebrate when you’ve done what is expected or required of you unless it’s a huge step from what you’ve done in the past.
When we all do our jobs we’re given the opportunity to do more than just what’s expected of us (although that is a very big deal for some people). We’re then given the opportunity to wow others and make a bigger difference in the world. But it all starts with doing the job you’ve been given well. Are you doing your job?
The book of Proverbs has lots of great little bites of insight for us, it’s kind of like Twitter from the Bible days. One of those verses is Proverbs 4:23: “Above all, be careful what you think because your thoughts control your life.”
This is a topic that I think about often and have written about before. Why? Do you know how valuable your thoughts are? Your thoughts are your ability to think things through, your ability to process news, your ability to plan ahead, and your ability to your ability to make decisions on your own. For most people their stupid or poor decisions are not a result of having mental challenges, but laziness, lack of interest, lack of effort or lack of willingness to ask for help.
Sometimes things happen that make us lose control of our thoughts, and that’s to be expected, for example when you get stuck in a repetitive thought pattern thinking about the ways you screwed up that day or ways you could have done things different. When you end up in a situation like that it’s usually a good idea to get it out and either talk it through with yourself or a friend. Once you’ve really worked out your frustrations (not spending more time than 15 minutes on it), you have to make the decision that your thoughts are better used for other purposes and let it go. It may come back up in following days or weeks and if it does you can deal with it then. But otherwise there’s no point to dragging yourself around in circles when you could use the power of your thoughts and mind for much better purposes.
This week I encourage you to pay attention to what you’re thinking and how long you’re spending thinking about it. Are your thoughts serving you and helping you be your best version of you or helping you start this year off on the wrong foot?
Thanksgiving is less than 2 weeks away and (in case you can’t tell) I’m excited!! In past years (pre-diet changes) the next month and a half were always my favorites with all the cookies, pies and stuffing! While my excitement over food has changed a lot over the past few years it hasn’t dimmed my overall excitement for this time of year. With all the unpleasant things going on around the world it’s such a blessing to be able to celebrate despite or in-spite of those things and take time to remember all the good and blessings in our lives and in just being alive.
Today though we’re not going to talk about all the awesome things I love about this time of year but rather take a step back and be honest about the self-doubt that we experience during this time. There are tons of reasons for you to keep that checklist of ‘things people hate about me’ or ‘ways I don’t stack up’ or ‘ways I’ve let people down’ handy, family gatherings are known to bring out the worst in many of us, not to mention the embarrassing stories that always seem to get told every year. To be completely honest we don’t totally stack up against the standards or expectations that some people set for us partly because we’re not perfect and partly because we don’t have to live up to anyone’s expectations except our own (even though we often do try to). It can be scary to choose not live up to their expectations for us, especially if they don’t seem to love us as much because of it, but it’s a big relief to be able to be ourselves and not whomever they think we should be.
Psalm 139:17-18 says “How precious are your thoughts about me, O God. They cannot be numbered! I can’t even count them; they outnumber the grains of sand! And when I wake up, you are still with me!” When we face doubts about who we are, why we were born, or how valuable we are the first place we should turn to is God. These verses remind us that we’re here because He created us with a purpose. God has plans for our lives, and if He has plans for us we’re not worthless no matter what anyone says. Not only that, but that God thinks about us for reasons other than selfish or judgmental ones, and often enough that we wouldn’t be able to count them if we tried. That says to me that each of us is very special to God. So when your family is coming down on you for not being who they wanted you to be or for some unrealistic expectation, know that you’re not alone and that God likes you just as He created you.
One of the things we struggle with when it comes to health is other people’s definitions of health that we think have to apply to our lives. We think that we have to look like supermodels or fitness buffs. We think that we have to be taking all the top supplements or following the trendy diets. We think that beauty looks like whatever the magazines and social sites say is popular. The reality is that while we probably all could look like those people or follow the current most popular advice, most of us shouldn’t. We’re all created with similar bodies from a very basic appearance perspective, but that’s about where it ends because we all have different food requirements, physical capabilities and tastes which differentiate us from many other people. I don’t do well with a lot of meat, gluten or sugar in my diet, I prefer walks and the elliptical, and don’t really like flashy looks, but you may be the exact opposite.
And that’s more than OK.
The good news is that God says there’s a lot more to life than just how we look, and there’s a lot more to health than it too. No, we shouldn’t be sickly or trash our bodies or appearances, but healthy for each of us is different when it comes down to the details. Health is about looking and feeling good inside and out, in ways that we feel confident and honor the body, mind and life that God has given us.
Just because you don’t eat, look or dress like a superstar doesn’t mean that you’re not an amazing or healthy person. Make the right choices for your life in the food you eat, the daily exercise you get, the clothes you wear and what you feed your mind too.
“But the Lord said to Samuel, “Don’t judge by his appearance or height, for I have rejected him. The Lord doesn’t see things the way you see them. People judge by outward appearance, but the Lord looks at the heart.”” 1 Samuel 16:7