Posts Tagged: freedom


3
Sep 12

A different look at shoes

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The blog today may seem a bit morbid… but it is not.  Not at all.

A friend of mine has only a few weeks to live and is in Hospice care.

When the topic of death surfaces most people avoid it because it’s unpleasant.  We have a natural self protection instinct that keeps our minds from going in that direction.

Somehow we believe that if we don’t think about death it might delay the inevitable.  Fanciful thinking.

Although my friend is facing death we had an extraordinary talk about life.

It is life that I wish to talk about.  There were several things that struck me about life during our conversation.  It is these insights I would like to share.

Our view of life is from the context of life.  Life is all we know.

We look forward and charge the hill of life.  We identify our goals and mission and advance forward the best we can.

A person who is dying views life from the perspective of death.

Unless a person has had a serious encounter with death we cannot fully understand life.  We the living may think we understand… but we don’t.

But I did get a taste of it while visiting my friend.

Relationships and conversations with people who are nearing death are on a different level.

Our time talking together was simple and unguarded.  We laughed, swapped stories, talked about life and death, and ordinary things from an extraordinary perspective.

This is the kind of communication that I believe God intended originally in the Garden of Eden.

Simple, unguarded, open, powerful.

What struck me too was the beauty of the details we the living miss.

As we visited my friend talked about the things that bring him joy.  Interestingly, the things that brought the most joy from a death perspective of life were things he never thought of while going through life.

I asked him to give me an example.  He said the animals on the bottom of kid’s shoes.

Huh?  Animals on the bottom of kid’s shoes?  Please repeat that.

As he shared the details I knew exactly what he was talking about.

When his oldest adult daughter was about two he would transport her everywhere on his shoulders.

She would run to him, jump in his arms and then with the father’s strength that two year olds only know he would throw her on to his shoulders.

After she was safely on his shoulders he remembers grabbing one of her feet hanging next to his chest and lifting it up and look on the bottom to see which animal she was wearing for the day.

This is something he never really thought of at the time.  But this is a view of life from a death perspective.

The joy of life is the small stuff.

His mind did not race back to the career advancements, the deal made or the new car he drove.  Joy was found in a little girl’s shoe.

As we go through life we easily get caught up in career, bills, decision… life stuff.  At times things become so looming that it is overwhelming.

Added to the cacophony of life stuff there seems to be a constant unseen weight.  These are things beyond our control that adds to the already weighty pressures of life.

We worry about the economy, the state of the world and safety for our children.

All I know is that as my friend drifts closer to death, the things that we see as big issues of life have become unimportant.

It is the details of life that are bringing joy… tiny, seemingly insignificant details.  Details that he had not thought of for years.

Although death does take the body it need not kill our spirit or rob our joy.

We may not have much choice over the former but we have full control over the latter.

One of the greatest blessings I have learned in my life is that out of the ugliest of situations there are wonderful joys to be discovered.

Joy comes in the strangest forms.  Even the bottom of a little girl’s shoe.

See you Thursday.


14
Aug 12

Who are you?

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I’m really glad you popped in to visit but… who are you?

If we just met and you thought I was serious with the question you would probably give me your name and basic data.  This would give me some data but no real information.

Who are you?  Probably the more probing question is, what is your identity?

There are things that identify you like the color of your hair, height, etc.

But… what is your identity?

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An un-named song is like an un-named child, it has no identity.
- Robyn Hitchcock
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This is a harder question for some of you than you may think.

Our identity is who we are as a person, not data about us.

There are different levels of identity.  Much of it is wrapped up in things such as our family, culture, likes and dislikes, and an assorted other tidbits of stuff.

But there are deeper, more profound things that are part of our identity that impacts daily how we live out our lives.

Toward the end of the last blog I started raising questions about our identity when I suggested that many people’s identity is tied to something very negative in their life.

Seriously… ask this question – What is my identity?  What is my deeper identity?

What comes to mind?  Does it tend to be something negative or positive?

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I don’t need to worry about identity theft because no one wants to be me.
- Jay London
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I was talking to a guy friend that was sexually molested as a child.  As he got older he started acting out in sexually unhealthy ways.

Somehow, over time, he started to believe that unhealthy sexual behavior defined who he was.

He started living his life around the thing that he felt defined him as a person – his identity.

It’s sad but true that many live their life defined by negative experiences.  Some of these experiences were not of their own choosing and other negative experiences they brought on themselves.

Many of you are probably saying that things like sexual abuse are not part of your life or a part of your identity.

Maybe not, but there are many of you, who when asked, see yourself (your identity, definition) by some other negative thing…

  • I’m a failure
  • Not good enough
  • Not valuable
  • Not talented enough
  • Insert your own negative moniker

The point is, regardless of how you feel, or no matter what you’ve done or what you’ve been told… this is NOT your identity.

You are not trapped by this self-imposed straightjacket of identity.

The first step of shedding this straightjacket is allowing the truth that I am speaking to seep through the cracks of your heart and head.

In times like this you cannot trust how you feel.  Your feelings will always default to the identity you have of yourself.

We will try to make more sense of this as we hike up this mountain.

Ciao… see you Thursday.


10
Aug 12

Good Bad Decisions and Bad Bad Decisions

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Yes, the picture is disturbing.   And yes, I agree with what it says.

I also find myself asking the question, “Why did she have to make it so LARGE?”

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Consider every mistake you do make as an asset.
- Paul J. Meyer
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Hummmmm… I don’t think so.  Not in this case.

Thankfully most of our bad decisions don’t involve being permanently inked for public display.

But my guess is that you have done something and immediately wondered… what the hell was I thinking!!!?

I guess we all have.

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Experience is that marvelous thing that enables you to recognize a mistake when you make it again.
- Franklin P. Jones
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The natural follow-up question is, do you have a tendency to repeat the idiocy?

Most of us could probably say yes to this also.  Wow… the ignorance of youth.

But let’s be real for a moment.  There are mistakes, and there are MISTAKES.

Failure and mistakes are a part of living that provides learning and context to life.

These are life experiences that bring dimension and perspective.  We really are better off by the mistake made.  These mistakes shape us.

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The greatest mistake you can make in life is continually fearing that you’ll make one.
- Elbert Hubbard
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But unfortunately there are mistakes that trap us.  Instead of being a positive the negative mistake becomes our identity.

There is no question that we make mistakes and there are consequences for our decision.  But having consequences does not mean that the mistake becomes who we are and the trajectory of our lives is permanently altered.

The kind of mistake that traps us must be put in its place.

Whatever you have done, no matter how bad, it is NOT your identity.  You do not have to live under the shadow of the failure.

I hope and pray that over the next couple of days you have a keener sense of how you see your identity.

I think we will unpack that a bit more.

Ciao… See you Monday.


6
Aug 12

Giving up freedom sets you free

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I wasn’t planning on expanding on the last blog entry but I was reminded of a powerful and important truth that relates to what I had written.

In the last entry I talked about the counter intuitive notion that proper restriction or resistance allows us to soar.  Without restriction we would never reach our designed potential.

If the last sentence made no sense then I recommend that you check out the last blog entry.

The paradoxical truth that I want to talk about is that true ultimate freedom requires giving up freedom.

Now before you get the yips, this is not a political or military policy statement.  There may be some application but it is definitely not the point of this entry.

Nor is this an entry about the Spiritual or religious implications, which there are many.

I ran across something I wrote over two years ago that illustrates what I am talking about.  I would like to share a few paragraphs (italics).

I have music in me… lots of music.  There are times when I sit at a piano, placed my fingers on the keys, closed my eyes and believed the music inside would explode into melody.

But the wellspring of music within remains trapped… frustrated by its inability to find release and purpose.  There was no avenue for escape because I had not provided a path of freedom.

When younger I could have taken piano lessons.  I could have given up the freedom to do the things I wanted to do and channeled that time into a forced discipline of training my mind and fingers.  But my freedom in the moment was more important for me than ultimate freedom later.

It is said that you can tell who the professionals are because they make it look so easy.  All you have to do is look at the picture of Gabby Douglas.

I marvel at the ability of some dancers or athletes.  The freedom they have to release their body in different ways is literally amazing.  This level of freedom only comes through forced discipline.  It is the relinquishing of the freedom of the moment for the freedom of the ultimate.

Take a look at this quick video.  It illustrates the amazing beauty, ease, and elegance of a body that is free.

YouTube Preview Image

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Freedom… that’s what this life journey is all about.

It is through giving up immediate freedom you gain ultimate freedom.  This is true in virtually every aspect of life.

We relinquish our freedom to spend money on something we want now for more financial freedom later.

Humm… freedom… what treasures are trapped in you that are fighting to be released.

Don’t get discouraged.  Keep at it.

I ran across a great quote that encourages me.  William Stafford, (1914-1993) was a prolific and highly respected American poet.  When asked by a reporter how he began his career as a poet he said,

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“I just kept on doing what everyone starts out doing. The real question is, why did other people stop?”

Don’t stop.

Thanks for hanging in there with me.

See you Thursday.


3
Aug 12

Bound and high in the sky or Loose and down to the ground?

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I don’t know about you, but I like having my way.  I don’t think I’m that unusual.

Humans are funny like that.  We want what we want when we want it.

We don’t like anything to get between us and where we what to go or have anything hinder us from getting what we want to have.  We don’t want resistance or restriction.

Most people just get irritated because it’s not a big deal.  We don’t tend get to pushy or become too nasty when something stands in our way.

But we can get very angry or nasty!

There are two factors that kick us in the pushy or nasty category.  The two factors that elevate our antagonism or frustration are the level of one’s desire for something plus the level of restriction we feel keeping us from it.

Regardless of the level of restriction, I’m just saying that we would prefer having life without it.

But is having no resistance or restriction what we really want or need?

I think not.

Having resistance is one of the greatest hidden gifts we can receive in life.

Think about it.  Where would your life be today if you never faced any resistance?

What kind of a person would you be?

Resistance is a good thing.  It enhances vs. detracts.  The right restriction or resistance strengthens us as-well-as channels energy to have greatest impact.

For example, the kite would never soar without resistance of the string.

The string allows the kite to catch the air that lifts.  The tether that seemingly restricts is the very thing that allows the kite to fulfill its purpose.

Without something holding the kite back it would never reach its full potential.  It would just drift back to the ground never to fly.

Another example is the balloon.  The helium in the balloon needs the restriction of the rubber to keep its qualities to lift intact.

Reaching the heights would never have been accomplished without the restriction.

It’s so easy to be upset or disgruntled by things that seem to hold us back.  The proper amount of resistance is the very thing that makes us better and creates the success.

When faced with things that seem to hold us back we have one of two choices.  We either channel our energy fighting it, or we channel our energy to align ourselves with the resistance to get the most out of it.

Now I can hear a lot of you yelling at the computer screen with all kinds of examples of where restriction can be a bad thing.

Yes, it’s true.  Too much restriction can be just as bad as too little resistance.

But our natural default is to resist anything that we feel hinders us.  There is much more positive that comes from resistance than negative.

Ciao… see you Monday.


26
Apr 12

My Choice to Choose!

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It’s good to see that you came back to visit.

I promise there are no lengthy videos today.  The video in the last blog entry was really good with some great information but a little too long and a bit on the academic side… but worth it none-the-less.

If you read the last blog we talked about the incalculable multiplication of choices we face in everyday life and the chaos this creates.

Side Note: I am still in the quandary as to why we need over a hundred and seventy choices of salad dressing.

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This proliferation of choices raises one of the most important questions we need to ask ourselves.

IMPORTANT QUESTION

How do we shift our focus from the multitude of different choices that clutter our lives to the few choices that make a difference in our life?

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In other words… we have to make a choice about our choices.

Frankly, it’s easy to become intoxicated by the options we have and ignore the larger questions that bring stability and saneness to a chaotic life.

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“We think we want the freedom to choose – rather than make the choices that bring freedom”

- Joyce Meyer

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If not careful we can get caught in the blizzard of choices and become snow blind to other options.

Pretty soon we feel like life is happening to us and we are caught in a current that drags us along with or without our permission.

We find ourselves constantly (there’s that constant thing again) having to react to the decisions we face as we slowly loose sight of what we wanted our life to be.

Here’s the amazing reality.  We are not doomed to be the plaything of life or circumstances.

Believe it or not we can make the choice to stop the insanity of our lives brought on by the choices we have in life.  Weird huh?

Let’s be real world for a moment.  We cannot always choose our circumstances or the things that happen to us but we can choose our response.

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Between stimulus and response there is a space. In that space is our power to choose our response. In our response lies our growth and our freedom.
- Viktor E. Frankl
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Please hear loud and clear, there is freedom of choice that brings true freedom.  I am not talking about the choice of a shelf full of different coffees but the choice to change the trajectory of your life.

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Ever more people today have the means to live, but no meaning to live for.
- Viktor E. Frankl
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I don’t know what your life is like or the struggles you are having with all the choices you face.

I have no idea if you live a life that is so cluttered that you can’t see any light; or whether you are at the other end of the continuum where you have disengaged from life.

Some of you need to make some hard decisions to stop and others need to make the hard decision to start.

I am at the point in the blog that I need to stop… so I am.

Ciao.  See you Monday.


23
Apr 12

Humm… which one should I pick?

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Hi… thanks for making the choice to check out my blog today.

The last four blogs I have been digging into the three Universal constants that impact every aspect of life.

If you read the last blog entry you know that I promised to go deeper into the third constant – CHOICE.

There is so much to this topic that I will need to break it up into bite size pieces.  The first thing I need to do is just address the magnitude of the choices.  It’s mind boggling.

Whether we like it or not, choice is the center of everything we do.

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A human being is a deciding being.
- Viktor E. Frankl
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We are constantly choosing and making decisions.  Do you ever get tired of having to make choices?

The reality is you cannot get away from making a choice.

Think about it, not to make a choice… is a choice.  Scary huh?

And to make things worse the customer centric world we live in has exploded the options we have in virtually everything.

All you have to do is go to the supermarket and look at the number of choices you have in just the chocolate aisle alone.

This begs the all important question.  Is the explosion of choices a good thing?

The answer is simply answered – Yes and No!

Human nature likes to have a choice.

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When choosing between two evils, I always like to try the one I’ve never tried before.

- Mae West

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There is something in our American DNA that loves options – the more the better.  And we are repulsed by anything that seems to restrict or limit our choices.

I ran across an amazing video, The Paradox of Choice by psychologist Barry Schartz.  He says that in reality the increased number of choices has two paradoxical implications.

First, the number of choices we have paralyzes rather than liberates, and secondly there is decreased satisfaction.

I have attached the video for those of you who want to dig into the topic a bit more.  The video is a little long (20 minutes) but very, very interesting.

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YouTube Preview Image

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Interesting huh?

I don’t know if I agree with everything but he makes some terrific points.

All these choices have cluttered our lives rather than simplify.  I don’t know about you but I want my life to be as simple as possible.

This takes us to the next aspect of the topic of choice.  What drives our decisions?

I will tackle this on Thursday.

Ciao.


2
Apr 12

Cultivate or Assembly Line


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Yep… me again… it must be a Monday or Thursday.

Here I am pecking away on my trusty computer keyboard praying that something worthwhile will somehow wiggle its way out of the gray matter and eventually flow through my fingertips on to the keys.

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Dance fingers dance.

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I find that it’s pretty easy to get my fingers to dance; it’s getting them to say something meaningful that’s the challenge.

What’s really frustrating is that something meaningful and creative cannot be forced.

Isn’t that fairly reflective of life?

The things that seem the most rewarding, fulfilling and meaningful are things you cannot force.  One can only create the environment and remove the clutter allowing these wonderful things to become a reality.

In fact, trying to force something typically hinders the very thing you want.

I’m sorry if I get a bit too philosophical but… here goes.

First, I have found that most things in life tend to fall into one of two categories.  There are things that tend to be fluid (organic) and things that are more linear (mechanical).  Yes, these are interwoven and seemingly inseparable but distinct none-the-less.

Secondly, I find that we naturally tend to be better at understanding and managing one over the other.

And thirdly (and here’s the trap if not careful), we try to navigate or manage both categories to the direction of our strength.

Yes, it’s logical to gravitate toward the direction that we are naturally gifted.  But to be successful we must understand, learn and approach the fluid and non-fluid totally differently.

How do we approach these two aspects of life?  I don’t mean to overly simplify the complexity of these two categories but in broad terms our approach is this.  Dealing with things that are fluid we must think in terms of being effective, with linear things we must think in terms of  efficiency.

Efficient vs. Effective

This is a pretty good delineation of how to approach most things of life.

For example, you must be efficient with things and effective with people.

As I said earlier, things that are fluid tend to be more organic, living, and evolving.  Relationships are a perfect illustration.

To prove my point, let me ask you a question.

Have you ever tried to be efficient with a teenager?  How did that work for you?

When we try to force fluid things it gets really really messy.  Conversely, when we allow too much looseness and flexibility with a system, that too gets very very messy.

I think that this is worth digging into over the next couple of blogs.

Hopefully I can be effective in talking with you and motivate you to come back to visit.  I will provide some real world examples that I believe you will find helpful.

Also, I will toss in some fun stuff to not make it too dry or boring.

Or I could try to be efficient and just tell you that you need to read this and your time to read this is Thursday at 10:00.

Uhhh… I could feel some of you just cringe.

Hey, I hope you check in.  I would love to have you visit.

Ciao.


30
Jan 12

A Double Sided Coin

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Hi, good to see you again.

In the last blog entry I talked about small words.  I’m talking about really small simple words like A, The, If, In, etc.

I made the bold statement (which I still stick with) that these words are life changing, literally life changing.

Unfortunately, these powerful simple words have tended to get lost in the flurry of sophisticated, multi syllable, impress your cubicle neighbor, MENZA stumping, uppity societal terminology.

I illustrated my point by focusing on the word “If”.                      

“IF” – This simple, two letter, one syllable word holds the world of possibilities.

I mentioned that this little word either propels us forward or traps us.  It all depends on which adjoining word we use with “If”… What or Only.

“What” is a question that naturally begs for an answer and “Only” is a statement of singular purpose.

We are going to unpack “What if” today and then spend some time in the next blog entry on Thursday on “Only if”.

“WHAT IF…”

My, my, the world of possibilities this question poses. 

“What if” is future focused.  This simple question allows us to reach our hand from our current space into the future.

Sounds great… but it depends on what you are reaching for.  Like the picture above, there are two ways to look at this.

This “what if” question can go in one of two directions.  Both directions are future focused but one is positive, exciting, and life breathing, while the other can and will suck the very life out of the marrow in your bones.

It’s sad to say, but some people spend an inordinate amount of energy looking at the negative possibilities of “What if”.

In blogs in the past I have spent good bit of time on this topic so I won’t beat it to death.  But let’s just say, some people have allowed themselves to be trapped in the past by “Only  if” while others are trapped in emotional quicksand.

The negative “what if’s” slowly suffocate the opportunities of the positive “what if’s”.

We all know people who hang out in one of these camp sites. 

One camp worries about everything and paranoia is their companion.  The other camp knows the realities of the present and potential dangers of the future but focus on the “what can be”.

Wow… I believe that… the beauty of “what can be”.

There are possibilities that are out there for us beyond our wildest imagination.  If (there you go… the “If” word) you believe there is something good out there and believe it is for you.

I am not talking about feel good, pie in the sky, ten affirmations daily, formula’s for success.  But I am talking about our choice to choose the direction that breaths life and hope.

It would be nice if some questions were popping into your mind after reading this.

The types of questions you ask will tell you a lot about  yourself.  Are you asking questions like these?

  • What if… this guy is right? 
  • What if… I was to drop off some my old thinking that traps me? 
  • What if… I could (fill in the blank)?

These are “what if”  questions that propel you forward. 

On Thursday we will take a look at the other side of the coin.

See you then.


19
Jan 12

Don’t forget to remember to forget… Huh!?

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Yes, I know the title is a bit confusing.  But that’s not unusual is it?

We talked in the last blog about how the memory naturally fades.

The details of life seem to slowly fall off the edge of the mental plate, displaced by today’s details and events.  I thought the animated poem video called “Forgetfulness” in the last blog entry was pretty right on.

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Happiness is nothing more than good health and a bad memory.
- Albert Schweitzer

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There are some things in our lives that are branded in our memory.  These are the memories on the extreme fringes of the continuum of life… something of wonderful joy (e.g. birth of a child) or severe pain (a tragedy of some sort).

The details of the middle ground go first.  There is no emotional anchor to hold them in place.  But over time, even the details of those extreme moments begin to take their leave while the emotion of the moment holds strong.

But the real tricky part is this… if not careful we forget the things we need to remember and remember the things we need to forget.

Yes, there are some things we need to forget… but we choose to remember them.  The operative word is CHOOSE.

There are some memories that we have intentionally kept in tact.

We have all heard of selective memory, but there is also selective forgetting.

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Forgetfulness – a gift of God bestowed upon debtors in compensation for their destitution of conscience.
- Ambrose Bierce
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There are some things we hang on to that become an anchor keeping us from moving forward.

So the logical question is, why do we hang on to something that is keeping us down?

Believe it or not… there is a payoff for hanging on.  We don’t do anything without a payoff (a topic to explore in more detail at another time).

For example, some people think that by letting go it somehow lets the other person off the hook.  The payoff for hanging on in their mind is that it validates the severity of offense.

Dealing with these bad things is very simple… NOT easy… but simple.

First we have to be willing to honestly look to see if there is anything that you are hanging on to that is keeping you from going where you want and need to go.

Now we all have our baggage that hinders us.  But what I am talking about are the things we hang on to.

Forgetting and letting go is a choice.  It even talks about the need to forget the past in the Bible.

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“But one thing I do: Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead.”

Philippians 3:13

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.Side Note: As you can see I had a difficult time finding a picture of the Apostle Paul.  If you happen to run across a picture of him please pass it on.  It would be helpful for future quotes.

So, as the title says, don’t forget to remember to forget.

Ciao, see you Monday.