Reality Reflection: Whose Responsibility is it?

I think that at our heart most of us want to help others and make the world a better place. Sure, we look out for our own interests and we occasionally completely miss what’s going on around us (and cause issues for others), but I feel like if we were given a choice that was win-win, we’d agree to it more often than not. Then you’ve got some people who are people-pleasers. They’re people who go out of their way to try to make others happy, almost always without thought to their own happiness. Then you’ve got the helpers, they’re the people who try to help others even when/if they’re not willing to help themselves. It’s this last one that I got to thinking about today.

I think with our win-win hearts we can often give people the motivation or encouragement, and certainly provide them with the opportunity to step up to the plate and do something good/better for their lives. That’s one of the best ways that we can help each other. It goes in line with the ‘teach a man to fish’ quote. For those of us who have that heart it’s tough to see people who aren’t willing to take that hand and get the help they need.

While there’s not set time on how long you should try to help someone, at some point you may have to step back and just let the cards fall where they may. Your job is to be responsible for your life and the lives of anyone who is physically dependent on you (a child, elderly individual or individual with special needs). It’s not your job to be responsible for the whole world. It’s a tough and disheartening lesson to learn.

Even when you decide to take a step back (or another one), that doesn’t mean you have to give up hope, it just means that you’re not going to step up either when the other person won’t.  There’s nothing wrong with helping others, in fact it’s essential to all of us thriving in this world.  But you can’t force people to change or become someone or do something they’re ultimately not willing (or don’t care enough) to do.  Do you need to take a step back today?

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Let’s Make Decisions

One of the most important skills we can work on are our decision making skills. One of the worst things you can do is actively choose not to make a decision, because then the decision is taken out of your hands. Which is fine if you’re OK with any decision that follows, but in most cases we really have a preference on what happens and how things develop (or which way you don’t want things to go).

In the Lent devotionals I’ve been reading they’ve been sharing some different stories from the Bible of both Jesus and others making decisions. From Adam and Eve to the prodigal son, to Jesus walking on water, speaking to the woman at the well, to the days and hours leading up to His death on the cross, there are people who make decisions in every chapter. Sometimes those decisions are good, other times they’re clearly influenced by someone or something else, and sometimes you can see that they’re wishing they could pass the decision on to someone else (or had a larger number of options they could pick from).

When you start to work on your decision making skills and you actively make more decisions, yes, you’ll make some not so great decisions. Just like many other things, it takes practice to get good at making decisions, and you’ll never always get it right, although you’ll get more right than not. But using the knowledge and experience you have as well as letting common sense, instinct and your gut help guide you, with a little courage of course, you should be able to face most situations and decisions successfully.

I think the thing to remember is that over the years some people have screwed up on their decision making in some rather serious ways and yes, some people have died as a result, but the vast majority of people are able to recover from even some epically large poor decisions. You’re never out until you’re dead, so as long as you’re still here and breathing you’ve got the time to fix your mistakes and make better decisions.

When you’re making the decisions, you’re in control of your life, and that means that even when life seems to be going out of control or you’re limited as to how much control you have, those decisions are what give you back at least some of your power. What decisions will you make today?

Reality Reflection: A Question of Value

Each time I sit down to write a blog post and try to come up with a topic I have to ask myself if it’s something valuable to you. Sure I could write about tons of things, but would you really find value in the book I recently read, something my partner said or something I saw? Sometimes the answer is yes, and I share with you. Other times the answer is no and I have to keep thinking about what to write.

But blog posts aren’t the only place that we question value, it happens many days at work, or with our significant others, or with our kids or parents. Sometimes we do make mistakes and it makes us question what we’re good for, sometimes it feels like all we’re doing is busy work anyone could do and it makes us doubt that we have anything unique we bring to the table.

I think we sometimes forget that value can be added or created in many different ways, including ways that can’t be measured like we often want to. There isn’t always a tangible or numerical answer to the value that you’re creating. It can be frustrating to do the same thing several times because your boss loses stuff, hear the same argument from your significant other because they refuse to see things in another way, or have to take on the same stuff for your family each week without anyone else really being willing to contribute. But in all of those things and countless other ways, you are adding value to the world.

This week I encourage you to check in with yourself before you do something to make sure that you are adding value, or how you could better add value, or if something should be dropped from the commitments of your life. Yes there will always be things that seem pointless in your life, we can’t typically get rid of all of that stuff, but we can do a better job recognizing and celebrating the good work we do, as well as making better decisions about how best to spend our time and resources. How will you add value to the world this week?

Personal (Purim) Victories

Today the Jewish communities are celebrating Purim. Purim is an interesting spiritual celebration, because it’s one of the few that the story behind it crosses more than the usual spiritual lines (to all who read the Old Testament in the Bible). In case you forget, it’s the story of Esther, and how she becomes queen and is able to plead to the king to save her life and the life of her people (the Jews). If you haven’t read it [lately], I’d encourage you to check it out here.

Before you head off because you think this might be a spiritual post, no, I’m not actually planning to talk about Purim or the story of Esther. Because while it is a faith-based story, the story is one that many of us can identify with and is really a hero/heroine story that countless people read each day. One with true love, respect, victory, the defeat of a villain, and a happily ever after. It’s also a rags to riches story, and one that shows more bravery in a few short chapters than most of us will ever show in our entire lives.

So if this isn’t a spiritual post, what is it? It’s a reminder to myself and you that anything can happen to anyone. Anyone can get lucky. Anyone can totally transform their life from the bottom to a much better life. Anyone can find the courage to do the right thing. Anyone can make the world a better place. Anyone can be a leader. Anyone can work to create a happy ending.

If the future is that bright, why are people struggling? Some struggle because they don’t find the courage to try. Some refuse the help others are offering. Some get paralyzed by all the options and can’t pick one. Some don’t believe in themselves. Some don’t get out there and look for answers or do the work to get there.

What about you? How does your future look and what are you doing to make it better?

Reality Reflection: Celebrating Each Other

I’m not a competitive person, I like when everyone wins, or at least many people win. But I know that’s not how life works, and sometimes someone has to be on top. Such is the case for award shows, someone has to be named the top artist/person or category winner. From a music awards perspective, as you may know there are almost too many artists to count out there who share decent music, and many of that list also share great music. So I find it a bit more than frustrating when one artist’s name comes up frequently in one award ceremony [list]. I mean I can appreciate the fact that someone is doing an excellent job at something, or they’re really hot right now, but what about all the other people who are doing great things? Why can’t their work be celebrated as well?

What if we were to make it a rule that you can’t win more than one thing at an award ceremony? That no one group or artist or person or organization is able to sweep a category or even the show. It would certainly make the ceremony more interesting and I might be even a little interested to watch, it would also be more interesting for the people who attend, and more people would see their work celebrated and honored.

Few people make it to the national or world stage of any kind, most of us are just living out our lives trying to make a difference in whatever way we can, to share our talents with the world whether it’s a small audience of 10 or larger audience of hundreds or thousands. But I believe everyone should be celebrated, because everyone can contribute in one way or another. What better way to combat the hate and anger in the world than by recognizing the good other people are doing? Who will you celebrate today?

Time to Save Time

This week we’re a little more sensitive about the topic of time because Daylight Savings time happened on Sunday, which means we lost an hour. I enjoy the extended daylight we’ve got now but as for everything else, I’m not a fan. It’s just confusing and extra work and even though we don’t have to as much work as we used to because most of our devices update themselves, it doesn’t mean our bodies are able to make the adjustment as easily.

Whether or not you care about the time change or if we’ll ever be able to get rid of it or not, time is a topic that’s often on our minds. So today I thought I’d share a few tips on managing your time and making the most of the time you do have.

Schedules: I love freedom as much as the next person, and as important as it is to be flexible, having a schedule can really help keep you on track and help you get stuff done. This is especially true when it comes to social media and email checking. For email, it’s rare that whatever message comes through is important enough to need to be dealt with immediately, more likely it’s something that can wait until your next scheduled check in. As far as social media, it’s impossible to keep up with everything that is shared or going on even if you were on social all day every day, there’s just too much happening, so it doesn’t make sense to push yourself into over checking.

Learn to say no: I get it, we don’t really like the guilt trip we sometimes get when we say no to someone or something, and sometimes we feel that we can’t say no. But when you don’t say no it may mean that you don’t really respect yourself and your time, you don’t really understand how long things take (or care), you don’t always commit to giving your best effort to each activity or person, or you feel you have to be in charge of everything. Saying no means you respect your time, other’s time, and are committed to giving your best to yourself and your family.

Purge: I like my stuff and my information as much as the next person, but there’s something satisfying about being able to get rid of something you don’t need or use anymore or doesn’t work. The same holds true for the emails we’re subscribed to and all other subscriptions we have (audio, music, TV, movies, boxes etc.). There’s no reason to pay for something or get updates about something if you’re really not using it and aren’t going to be in the future, and if you need it in the future you can always resubscribe.

Time is one of the most limited resources we each have, I encourage you to treat your time with respect and make the decisions that will help you get the most out of it.

Reality Reflection: Courage

Yesterday was International Women’s Day. You may have seen stories featuring women, the Google doodle celebrated women, you probably saw posts on social media and read emails celebrating and honoring women as well. I wasn’t sure I was going to write a post about International Women’s Day, or even what I would write about until I got an unrelated email today that really spoke to me. The topic of the email was on one of those simple-but-complicated topics: courage.

If I’m honest I think it takes courage for anyone to really live in this day and age. As much as many parts of the world have really started to embrace the many differences each of us have, there are still people who have very narrow opinions and beliefs of the world and the people in it and how we’re supposed to live. Unfortunately many of those people seem to be very vocal about what’s right and wrong in their opinion and make the world dangerous for people to live in. As a result it takes courage to reach for and try to live with the freedom that is a right and desire that we all have. Living with freedom isn’t about not having rules, they help us keep order and give us some guidance on sharing space together, just about learning to accept, change and adapt as our world changes.

Back to the topic of courage, it’s about making life about more than us vs. them, it’s about learning to make life as win-win-win as possible, it’s about learning who you are, it’s about making decisions to do right in the world, it’s about being confident in the difference you can make in the world. It’s also about having some measure of faith in the others that we share the world with, that there are enough of us trying to do the right thing that we will outpace and outlive those who live to hurt others.

The good news is there’s no rule about when you’re allowed to choose courage, when you have to change, or what courage looks like to you. Courage is about being brave enough to face the world as you are, ask for help when you need it, and accept others as they are-a work in progress (just like you). Today I would encourage you to live with courage, treat others with courage, make decisions with courage, celebrate the women you know who have lived with courage, and celebrate the women whose courage have helped us get to where we are now. Who are the courageous women you’re celebrating?