May, 2012


31
May 12

Watch out for the cliff

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Me again.  Welcome back.

In the last blog I talked about having a life that is happy and fulfilled.  Toward the end of the blog I asked this question…

What really does constitute happiness and fulfillment, and how does one attain it?

It was then that I threw out the possibility that I may spend some time talking about this lofty topic.

I am probably stepping off the edge of a cliff but I think I will step out on the topic and see where we land or what we hit.  Hopefully it will prove valuable.

Believe me when I say that I have no illusions that I can bring any new insight to a topic that has been the central question of everyone’s existence.  Not at all.

The reality is, I will have no new insight… but don’t stop reading.

Just because I will have nothing new to add to this looming question of life doesn’t mean you won’t get anything out of this blog.

Here’s why.  It’s not because I am gifted… it is because you may be ready to hear and receive.

I may by chance have the privilege to lay an important stepping-stone of insight or stimulus on your journey to happiness and fulfillment.

Or, something I say may not extend your path but it stirs a thought that helps remove an obstacle in your path, something that has hindered progress.

Once again it is not that I am particularly insightful or bright… it is because you are ready to take it in.

Just so you know, my attempt to talk about this topic of happiness and fulfillment will not be a linear line of logic.

I will throw out things as I think of them and build on them accordingly.

So grab my hand and let’s step off this cliff together.  Look out beloooooooooooooow.

THE BIG QUESTION

What constitutes happiness and fulfillment and how does one attain it?

The first thing that pops into my mind regarding happiness and fulfillment is – PURPOSE.

I ran across two quotes about purpose and happiness that I found pretty interesting.  I would like for you to choose which one you think is most true.

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The purpose of our lives is to be happy.
– Dalai Lama
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True happiness… is not attained through self-gratification, but through fidelity to a worthy purpose.
– Helen Keller
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So which is it?  Is the purpose of our lives to be happy or does happiness come from purpose?

Nothing against the Dalai Lama but I think he has this one wrong.

Happiness is a “what” while purpose is one of the “whys”.

So if you believe, as I do, that Helen Keller is more on target then this begs the next question, what is the purpose I build my life around?

Humm… good question.  We’ll tackle that on Monday.

See you then.

Ciao.


29
May 12

Pressure’s Building

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Good to see you again.

Thanks for popping in to visit.  Hopefully I will say something worthwhile that makes your visit worth the stop.

Oh great… I just put all kinds of pressure on myself to say something that has substance and meaning.

I don’t know about you but sometimes when I feel pressure to perform my brain seems to squeeze tight and I can’t seem to force anything out.

Yes, I know, my last sentence doesn’t conjure up a pretty sight in my mind either.  Sorry about that.

But seriously, I can’t and won’t take any ownership of what you get or don’t get out of what I write.

If I am selling you a promise then I have a massive obligation to perform.  Some people make a lot of money selling promises.

How many of you have heard speakers or writers who say things like…

  • This will change your life
  • Five steps to success

If a statement is made like this then the person has made a commitment.  They better perform.

I promise no life change nor do I guarantee success.

But I can promise candidness, consistency and honesty.   I promise not to judge nor demand action. I will encourage action or for you to consider different thoughts, but never demand.

More and more I believe that we need people around us that encourage and push us.

My desire is to present morsels of thought that invite a taste.  Hopefully the taste of something new or different triggers a craving for more.

I will never give hollow promises.

The advertising world is fascinating to me.  The intent is to increase the sales of a product but usually they are selling something else.

Have you noticed how happy the people always are?

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The impression is that by driving a certain car, drinking a specific drink, watching a brand of TV, or going to the newest hangout you too can be happy and worry free just like the people in the picture.

Advertisements can easily become an emotional trap of disillusionment.

Maybe I’m the weird one but the happiness and fulfillment I experience in life takes work.

It’s simple… but not easy.

I’m not sure where I’m going with all of this but maybe it is something I need to flesh out a little more over the next few blog entries..

Humm… what really does constitute happiness and fulfillment, and how does one attain it?

The first question that pops into my mind is what in the world makes me think that I have something to say about happiness and fulfillment.

I will think a little more about whether I expound on being happy and fulfilled.

But regardless of what I end up writing about I do know this:  I will not take ownership of other people’s needs and expectations.

If you get something out of reading my blog – WONDERFUL.

I am ecstatic.

You receiving something from my meandering means that you were open, receptive.  It was you, not me, that made the difference.

Well, check back in on Thursday.  I am as curious as you to see where I go from here.


24
May 12

Great Expectations

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Hi, thanks for hanging out with me today.

The other day I had a friend share with me something memorable that happened to him when he was around the age of twelve.

My friend was going to town via the city bus.  As this twelve year old got on the bus he noticed that the only seat available was next to a person that was obviously homeless.

With some trepidation he sat down next to the fellow and did what everyone else does with someone or something they feel uncomfortable around – ignore them.

I’m not totally sure why we tend to ignore unpleasant people or situations.  I think that somehow by ignoring them (or the situation) we hope that they will somehow disappear.

But as my friend sat there, after awhile the homeless fellow he was sitting next to struck up a conversation.  The conversation was pleasant so they began to chit chat.

There was nothing memorable about the conversation until they were nearing the end of the ride.

The homeless fellow quietly turned to this twelve year old and said,

“There are two types of people in the world.  There are people like you and me… and then there’s the rest of the dumb shits.”

When my friend hit the finale of the story he reared back and let out a big belly laugh.  It was so funny because it was the last thing he expected sitting next to the homeless man on the bus.

Unexpected events like this are one of those wonderful life memories that make living fun.

Life can be an amazing adventure… if.  If you are willing to look for the unexpected.

I heard a phrase one time that has really causes me pause.  It constantly reminds me to look at life in a much more open manner.

The phrase is – Approach life with expectancy not expectations.

This is a much more profound statement than one would initially think.

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Expectancy is the atmosphere for miracles.
-  Edwin Louis Cole
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Human nature’s default is to automatically set expectations.  We set expectations about whether we will enjoy or dislike an event we are invited to.  We have expectations about how we will be treated in a given situation.

You’re probably saying that it’s normal so what’s the big deal.

Having set expectations can be a miserable trap if you are not careful.

This may sound weird to say but expectations are a double-edged sword.  Generally expectations either disappoint you or limit you.

Many of the problems we have in life or in relationships are a result of violated expectations.

We were expecting one thing and another happens.  This dynamic rears its ugly head even in the simplest of situations.

Something as simple as on your way home you’re expecting a relaxing evening at home to just decompress.  All the while your spouse is at home expecting some relief with the kids from a crazy day.  Violated expectations.

That’s the disappointing side of expectations.  But the other edge of the sword is that expectations can easily limit our lives.

First of all, don’t confuse goals with expectations.  Goals are measures of progress or milestones to shoot for.

Expectations fix our mind on a particular end.  The problem is that if not careful our hearts and eyes are so locked on what we expect that we miss the joys around or the marvelous things beyond.

Expectancy is totally different.

It is looking at life or a situation with openness and anticipation.  It’s amazing the joys you will find if you are open arms with expectancy and not locked up by your fixed expectations.

My friend experienced a funny life-long memory because he was just open.

See you Monday.


22
May 12

Huh? What time is it?

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Believe it or not it is 4:41 a.m. and I am sitting here trying to type this blog entry.

Although I am a morning person and tend to do my best thinking earlier in the day, even for me this is a bit much.

Why you ask am I up so early?

First I was awake (I don’t usually have any trouble sleeping but this morning I lay in bed looking at the ceiling) and secondly it’s the only time to write yesterdays blog entry.

Just so you know, I am not the obsessive compulsive type.  I can blow things off with the best of you.  Seriously.

But sometimes in life you there are things within that command a bigger “yes” than the desire to say “no”.

I don’t fully know why, but this blog is one of those things in my life.

I am embarrassed to say this but writing this blog twice a week has been the most consistently disciplined thing I have ever done for this long of period.

Here’s the most amazing thing to me… really amazing.

As I mentioned, writing this blog is probably the most consistently disciplined thing I’ve ever done and… and I don’t even know for sure if anyone is reading it or getting anything out of it.

I know there are a couple of family members who pop in and out occasionally and a friend or two will remember to visit occasionally.

I have virtually nothing that validates my writing this blog.

My next statement will be very unusual for me.

I’m quite impressed with myself.  I am pretty good at being hard on myself and not good at patting myself on my back.

It is easy for me (like most people) to do the things that get you a lot of compliments and validate your efforts.

I mean think about it… why invest so much time (or even getting up so early) to do something that seems to have no value to anyone?

Why?

Because sometimes we are called to do things in our lives that seem to make no sense.  I believe that.

Writing this blog may not help or be important to anyone else… but it is something I am to do.

Maybe it is just for me and my own growth.  If so… fine.

I think everyone in their life at some point in time is called – called to do, go or be.  It could be all in the same.

As I said, I have no idea if this blog is helpful or meaningful to anyone.  Or, if anyone will be any better by having read my ramblings.

But I do know this.  I am better for it.

You see, responding to a call isn’t always going to change the world but it will invariably change you.

See you Thursday.

Ciao.


18
May 12

Gene Pool Jackpot!

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Howdy.

Wow… it seems like I have fallen off the face of the earth the past few days.  I have been slammed and wasn’t able to write and post this blog until today.

Most of you could care less, but I ended the last blog by saying that I would post the next entry on Tursday (if you wonder why I spelled Thursday this way you will need to read the last blog entry).

Not having it posted when I said I would really bugs me.  Maybe it shouldn’t, but it does.

Oh well, enough of looking backward.  On with the topic at hand.

In the last blog entry I referred to a quote by the golfer Johnny Miller.

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It’s not what you accomplish in life that’s important but what you’ve overcome.

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The quote really struck me for some reason and I thought I would dig into it a little more.

The sad thing is, our society’s default to measuring success is typically by what you accomplish.  And usually accomplishment is measured in terms of money, power, position and prestige.

Here’s the problem with this definition of success.

If you won the gene pool jackpot and were born into the Bill Gates family… guess what?  By the definition above you are already a success before you are ever born.

No effort – just luck.

So what is the real definition of success?

I don’t want to sound snarky but… It depends.

It depends on the answer to a second question.  The follow-up question is, who’s asking?  Seriously.

Success to you may not be success to me.

I had a friend of mine use the football phrase “advancing the ball” as a metaphor for success.  He felt that his success was determined by how far he advanced the ball past where his father handed it off to him.

He came from humble beginnings and had succeeded in becoming fairly affluent and influential.  Although there were people with lots more money and position he was pretty successful because he advanced the ball quite a ways.

Of course, his measure for his son’s success is how much further he can advance the ball.

I think it’s an interesting theory but not sustainable.

Another interesting measure of success I ran across was in a film I saw in sociology class in High School.

It was a true story about a tribe on a South Pacific island.  The tradition was that when a man found a girl to marry a dowry had to be given to the girl’s father.

Typically it was in the form of cows.

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Side Note: Yes girls… they were traded for cows.  Get over it.

If you are offended it’s because you have a different definition of success.  Stick with the story before you go postal on me.

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On the island, the point of pride and success for women was the number of cows their suitor would pay for the privilege to marry them.

Typically, one or two cows were given for an average woman and three cows if you were exceptional.

The story in the film was about a shy girl who was average in appearance.  The father was expecting to get one, at best two cows for his daughter.

The dialog between the suitor and father was typically a negotiation.  Like any negotiation the father wants to get the most cows he can for his daughter and the suitor wanting to get a bargain.

But this story was a true love story.

The suitor in the story was the most eligible bachelor in the tribe.  He was the stud all the girls wanted.  The father was amazed he even considered wanting his average daughter.

When the suitor approached the father he did not wait for the father to ask for two cows.  The suitor immediately said, “I love your daughter and I will give you five cows.”

Five cows for a bride… a tribe first.  The girl was known throughout her life as the five cow bride.

Yep, success comes in all forms.

How do you define success?

See you Monday.


15
May 12

Foil on the head and a pocket protector

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Hi there… good to have you visit.

I don’t know about you but my life feels like a movie sometimes.  I’m not talking about a life that’s like an action movie or romantic comedy but the storyline of the quirky person who has some strange gift.

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Side Note: Yes, I’m sure that you can rattle off all kinds of titles of famous movies involving quirky gifted people.

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For me it’s more like the kind of movie where a young kid would see math formulas magically come together in his head and then just naturally blurt out the answer.  Or a movie where someone has a strange gifting that is manifested in their lives in strange ways.

Yep… I’m the quirky weird guy that wears a pocket protector, pants that are too high, plaid shirts, glasses and foil on his head.

Just kidding, just kidding.  I don’t have a pocket protector.

But strangely enough I do feel out of the ordinary sometimes, or weird may be a better descriptor.  My weirdness is definitely not mathematical but more philosophical in nature.

Instead of a formula mysteriously coming together in my head when presented with a math problem, it is words or ideas swirling around taking shape when I hear a thought provoking statement or an insightful quote.

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Side Note: Frankly, this may not be all that special.  It is probably something that is fairly common.

Although it may not be all that special it still fascinates me.

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It happens pretty frequently but there seems to be no rhyme or reason to when it occurs.

I may have heard a concept a hundred times.  But all of a sudden something fairly mundane can explode and set my head into motion.

When it happens, it’s like a movie in my head.  Ideas start popping and examples seem to flow.

All in all it’s pretty cool.  But the problem is… what do I do with it?  What purpose does it serve?  Seriously.

When I wrote this last sentence I was reminded of a kid I worked with once.

In my first real job out of college I worked in for the State of Texas with kids that were mentally and physically challenged.

There was one kid who had a lot of issues.  He was legally blind and mentally challenged.  He barely operated at a functioning level.

Although he barely functioned, I would put him in the Idiot savant category because he had an amazing gift.  You could give him any date in history and he could tell you what day of the week it fell.

I would blurt out a date – June 5th, 1952 and he would mumble in hardly legible words… tursday.  Yes, I know Thursday is misspelled but I wrote it the way he said it.

I thought it was fascinating… but the problem is, what can you do with a quirky gift like this.

So I ask myself the same question about my quirkiness.

You may be wondering what set me off on this topic.  It’s fresh because it just happened again.  I was watching an interview with the golfer Johnny Miller and he was talking about his life.  Then he made the following quote.

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What you accomplish in life is not the greatest measure of success but what you’ve overcome.

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For whatever reason this simple quote triggered all the connecters in my head to spark.

I’m sure most of you are wondering what was the big deal about the quote.  Good question.  I have no idea but it set thoughts in motion.

Maybe this quote is something I will unpack a bit more in the next blog.

But my question for you is what triggers your head?  If something does set your mind a blazin, why that thing?

Think about it and let’s talk about it tursday.


11
May 12

Huh? Where am I?

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As you know, we have been talking about this life journey thing since the beginning of the blog over two years ago.

I have touted the adventure, blessings, and joy of being willing to step out of our comfortable world of the known into the unknown.

Yep, it’s great but in the spirit of full disclosure I have to admit there are some potential pitfalls (“Oh great, now he tells me.”)

Now this may sound stupid but when you step into the unknown… guess what?  You don’t know where you are.

First of all, to calm any of your fears, not knowing where you are is not a bad thing.  Not at all.  In fact it’s normal.

Remember, this journey we have been talking about is a journey of exploration.  When you explore one does NOT know the destination.  You’re just looking around to see what you can find.

You can only explore in areas that you don’t know.

Now there is an important life insight to all of this.

Important life insight!!!

Not knowing where you are does not mean that you are lost. Huh?

There is actually a very big difference.  Seriously?  Seriously.  Weird I know but true none-the-less.

The key differentiator between the two is “destination”.  If you have a destination defined then the journey you are on is in reality a trip.

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I am not referring to trip from a hippie definition.  Sometimes a trip is just a… trip.

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Here’s the bad news.  If you are looking for a destination and you don’t know where you are, then you are lost.

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LOST!  As in being stranded on a Pacific Island with all kinds of weird happenings?  Uuuh… not that kind of lost.  Just lost.

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I ran across this video that is really clever.  It talks about the whole topic of losing things… even ourselves.  Then we are “lost”.

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YouTube Preview Image

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All of this begs some important questions to ponder.

Are you exploring or on a trip?

Are you wandering or are you lost?

Good questions.

I hope I made you think today.

Later… see you Monday.


7
May 12

The BIG Push or Pull

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When I started the blog over two years ago it was because something was stirring inside.  There was something that longed to see the light of day and a voice that needed to be heard.

I really don’t know if I have succeeded but I can say I like where I am today much better than where I was three years ago before I ventured beyond the wall.

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Side Note: You may be wondering about the wall I am referring to.  When I started the blog I referred to being comfortable behind the garden wall and wondering if there was something beyond.

I recommend that you go back to the first couple of blogs and check them out.  All you have to do is go to the archives column on the right, click on January 2010 and scroll down to the first blog and go from there.

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Before we go on I need to press in on a very important point.

You will get more out of the adventure of stepping into the unknown if you know the primary motivation for the decision to step forward.

The motivation or impetus for taking a bold step into the dark is basically one of two things.  Either you are being drawn to something (a PULL) or you are getting away from (a PUSH).

There may be elements of both but primarily it is one or the other.

For me it was definitely the PULL.   There were things about my life that I wanted to improve but basically I was very, very happy with where I was.  My life was amazingly good.

But I knew in the depths of my being… there was more.

The “more” was not a childish desire to grab things that are shiny and sweet to the taste, but a deeper (I believe divine) knowledge that I am living below where we all are created to be.

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We long for more but dare not believe that more is possible.

-  Penelope Stokes

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For you the motivation may be totally different.  You may be in a situation where things are pretty crappy where you are and you have decided – ENOUGH!!!

You may not hear a call, feel a pull or believe there is something more.  That’s ok.

Take it from me as someone who has decided to cast off from the shore and launch into the deep… it’s kinda scary but oh my – I wouldn’t change a minute of if.

Whether you are in the PUSH or PULL group there is one thing that is the same for both.  Open your heart and head and listen.

Some people decide to take this step and recklessly jump into the first thing that comes along.  The natural tendency is to latch on to anything when you’re in the dark.

If you are open and listening you will sense and know if the things you encounter are good or not so good.  The struggle to determine the good or the bad are part of the growing process.

Be comforted in the fact that bold steps like this are God things.  Now don’t worry, I’m not get all preachy on you.  But it is important to know that growth and a better life are divine.

As I wrap up this blog entry today I have a couple of more thoughts that I hope will help you to join me on this amazing journey beyond where you are.

These two thoughts helped motivate me to start and continues to stir me now when I get discouraged.

The first motivator is a statement.

  • I don’t want to wake up five years from now and be where I am today.

The second motivator is a question.

  • What would you attempt if you knew you wouldn’t fail?

I hope these help as you make some decisions.  How cool!

Join me Thursday  as I continue my journey.

Ciao.


4
May 12

Hold on to your hat!

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In the last blog I mentioned that life can be an amazing adventure.  Well, this week has been proof of that… WHEW!!!!!

I started a new chapter in my life.  Things in my life jumped from a comfortable safe cruising speed of 55 mph on a well-marked spacious Interstate highway to about 120 mph on a curvy mountain road in one day.

Wow, what a wild ride.

I’m going so fast I can barely keep my hat on.  Maybe I am carrying this “life’s an adventure” thing a bit too far.

But not really.

What happened is that I actually took my own advice.  I was presented with different options… and I took the bolder.

This came from a quote that I used in the last blog entry.

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When you cannot make up your mind which of two evenly balanced courses of action you should take – choose the bolder.
-  Sir William Slim
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Frankly, jumping into a car speeding on curvy roads is quite scary.  I am not talking about doing something foolhardy but the bolder choice does involve a higher degree of risk.

I don’t know about you but I don’t want to fail or look bad.

But the “want” for a well-lived life was greater than the fear of failing.

To put it another way, the desire to stay in a secure successful place was seduced by the Siren’s song of the “what can be”.

As I said earlier, I want to live a life of adventure but not of being foolhardy.

I believe most people fall on the end of life’s continuum where it’s easy to get in a safe rut and go through life.

These are people like me who need to step out and live life fuller… and the rewards are absolutely amazing.

On the other hand there are another group of people on the other end of the continuum.

These are the people who are adrenalin junkies for new things.  They jump from one thing to another trying the latest, greatest and most dangerous.

If not careful these folks never set down roots, working through the hard issues and reaping the blessings, stability and joy this provides.

It probably sounds like I am talking out of both sides of my mouth… there are rewards to stepping out into adventures and there are rewards to a stable life.

Yes… that’s exactly what I’m saying.  There are blessings on both ends.

It’s just that we tend to gravitate to one end or the other.  Because this is where it feels the most natural and comfortable.

To experience the fullest life has to offer we must move ourselves toward the other direction.  But to do so is hard work, very hard work.

Yep, I took a big step this week.  It has been stressful but stretching.

I can’t wait to see where this new path takes me.

So I tighten my chinstrap to keep my hat from flying off.

See you Monday.