Can I come out and play?

May 9, 2014

“You are only young once, but you can stay immature indefinitely.” ― Ogden Nash

It is funny how you meet some people who, though grown up in the sense of age, have somehow never matured; they’ve never really grown up. Sometimes this manifests itself in childish behavior in social situations and sometimes it is much more subtle, with the inability to make mature decisions.

Let’s be honest, many aspects of “growing up” are not much fun, certainly not as much fun as the immature pleasures that one could have as a child.  Accepting responsibilities is probably the biggie. As a youth, one can get away with immature behavior and it is written off by on-lookers as just expected childish behavior; however, the same behavior as an adult may be considered boorish or at least inappropriate. Some may find it cute or innocent, as was the case in the 1988 Movie “Big” with Tom Hanks; but most would just write off someone acting immature as silly or worse.

Because boys and girls appear to mature at vastly different rates the result is girls looking for boys who have grown up a bit (become men); until much later in life when a mature woman may prefer a younger (sometimes much younger) man. Girls may put up with the Peter Pan syndrome in boys, watching them skate boarding or hacky sacking well into high school or beyond, but eventually they want to see the kind of understanding and real commitment that only maturity can bring.

We all were young once and hopefully we can all find a way to get in touch with that inner child who is still in there and just bursting to get out and play again. I’ve written before about not completely letting go of all of the child in us all, but it is also important to be in control and to know when to let that inner child out to play. That is one of the signs of maturity. I think another is knowing that it’s not bad to let the child out every now and then. Life can get pretty boring if you have to stay in mature mode all of the time. In fact, we’ve managed to turn most of our “fun” activities into mature competitive environments. That’s not fun, that’s just more of the same stuff that we do all week.

So, it’s Friday; think of something that you can do with your inner child this weekend. Have a little fun.

pillow fight


Those aren’t scars; that’s wisdom building up…

May 7, 2014

I think I got today’s little saying from the blog Jack’s Winning Words; but, even if I didn’t, it sounds like something that Jack would use.

“Wisdom comes from experience. Experience is often a result of lack of wisdom.”
― Terry Pratchett

That’s so true. We build our wisdom from experiences and from taking the time to understand those experiences. Those who don’t take that second step are doomed to keep repeating the same mistakes over and over, instead of learning from them.

One can’t avoid having experiences; they just happen. As we are growing up and have experiences, especially those in which we make mistakes, we often hear the phrase – “You should have known better.” How helpful is that? Obviously we didn’t know better. A better phrase to offer to someone who has just made a mistake would be “what did you learn from that?”

Do you take some time at the end of the day to reflect on the good the bad and the ugly things of the day? Do youthnk about it
relish the good things that happened; turning them over in your mind and getting another smile out of them? What do you do with the bad and the ugly? Do you try to understand them and the way you reacted to them and perhaps think about a better way to have reacted, so that you’ll be prepared for those situations better next time? If you do, you are building your wisdom. If not, what do you expect to happen the next time? Will you still be flummoxed by the situation? Will you get angry again or be embarrassed again or just not know how to act – again? Why? Did you learn nothing from the experience?

If you’ve had an experience; turn that first into knowledge by thinking more about it and then into wisdom by figuring out how to use your new knowledge in the future, should that ever happen again. Remember too that the definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting a different outcome each time. It’s better to be wise than to be thought to be insane.

Sometimes the things that we learn from involve pain, either real, physical pain or emotional pain, but eventually the wounds that our experiences open will scar over and heal (thus my title for today’s post) and we add what we have learned to our storehouse of wisdom. A surprising amount of our wisdom comes from what we learned out of our failures or the mistakes that we make in life; however, it is also important to add the things that we learn from successes, especially successes in relationships. What makes that significant other person in knowledge inyour life happy? What things that you do make them smile or laugh or give you a hug. If you know that, why wouldn’t you do those things more often?

I’m sure that many of us have some level of wisdom about what happens when we forget a birthday or anniversary or other important occasion for the one with whom we share life’s journey. Hopefully we also have good knowledge about what we should do on those occasions. We also have some level of recognition of our personal shortcomings, especially in terms of remembering things and occasions. So, in our new-found wisdom, we should take steps to make sure that no special occasion goes un-noticed and unrecognized. Write them down, put them in your calendar, and don’t forget again this year. None of us needs a new layer of wisdom scar tissue on those old wounds.

Learn from life and be wise my friends.


Don’t worry, be hopeful…

May 6, 2014

From one of my favorite sources of daily inspiration – Jack’s Winning Words – comes this little gem – “I’m not going to tell you to worry less.  I’m going to tell you to hope more.”  (Cora from Downtown Abbey)

In 1988 Bobby McFerrin released the song Don’t worry, be happy.  He might have taken a slightly different approach if he’d written “Don’t worry, be hopeful” instead.

I have written about hope before. If you remember the post about the four candles, when the other three candles flicker out, first peace, then love and then faith; there is only the candle of hope left burning and it is with that candle that the other three are relit.

We tend to allow things both good and bad play out in our minds. Unfortunately the worries of day to day life oft rule the day and our minds have little else to do but imagine all of the worst case scenarios. If we can refocus upon hope then we give our minds something else to do, something much more positive.

women dreamingInspirational speakers and success coaches call those positive mental exercises visualization. If we can visualize it, they tell us; then, we can take actions to achieve our visions. So, from hope springs visualization and with actions to realize our visualization, success surely follows. At least that’s the plan and I’m stickin’ to it.

The key is to take some action to realize the positive visualization that you have achieved out of your hopes. There is a drug ad on TV that has the lines, “A body at rest tends to stay at rest and a body in motion tends to stay in motion.” If you never take any actions to realize your hopes you will not achieve them; however, if you take action you will at least be a body in motion and headed somewhere. Many times almost anywhere else is better than where you were; so, get your body in motion and pursue your hopes and dreams.

Don’t worry, be hopeful.


Live life in the front row…

May 5, 2014

My Moto: Life is a roller coaster and I want to sit in the front row! – The Bubbly Speckle (ne – Evelyne Wyss

It’s Monday and we all need a little something to get us going and to kick off another week. I like this little saying (motto) from Evelyne Wyss. Evelyne liked one of my earlier posts and when I went to check out who she was this was posted as her motto on her WordPress blog. You can click on her blog page name above – the Bubbly Speckle – to go there and learn more about her.

If you watch TV for very long you’ll probably see commercials that feature roller coasters, usually withbusinessman on roller coaster some kid and her dad in the front row – she’s having a ball and he thinks he’s about to die and is holding on for dear life. I’m not sure when or exactly why that happens, but somewhere along the way as we transition from kids to adults, many of us lose the ability to have fun with abandon, without fear. I suspect that we become more aware of the risks and spend more time thinking of all of the bad potential outcomes and that spoils it for us.

Then, sometime later in life you begin letting go of those fears again and returning to childlike enjoyment of life. I’m not there yet, but I’m headed in that direction. Fortunately, I have a life mate who never was as caution as me and she has never stopped trying to get me to stop worrying and loosen up. It’s starting to work; although not as fast as she would like, I’m sure.

turtleSo, what about you? Do you still like to be in the front row, or do you try to avoid the roller coaster altogether? Have you become frozen by Fear, Uncertainly and Doubts (FUD) or do you dive in and take on whatever comes your way – hands up and screaming all the way. Does life thrill you or scare you? How do you handle the ups and downs? If life turns you upside-down from time to time, do you think, “what a hoot” or “I’m going to be sick”?

Just think for a minute how dull and boring the roller coaster ride would be if there were no hills, no loop-the-loops or no twists and turns. It would be like a long slow ride on a set of smooth train tracks across the prairies of America. Boring!

There are lots of bits of advice based upon the “life is a roller coaster” analogy. Just Google that, to see a few pages of quotes and advice about life as a roller coaster. The thing is, this ride called life is one roller coasterthat you are already on and it’s a long one; so, you might as well have fun.

So here we are on a Monday. Let’s all join Evelyne and get in the front row, hands up, screaming our fool heads off and enjoy the ride!

 

 

 


Start your journey to success…

May 3, 2014

“Don’t let life discourage you; everyone who got where he is had to begin where he was.”  (Richard L. Evans) from Jack’s Winning Words.

I also like another quote that may serve as a starting point for today –“Where ever you go, there you are”- Jon Kabat-Zinn.

We are all somewhere in life, so there we are. Most of us have dreams or hopes of being somewhere man daydreamingelse, maybe to have a better job or just to make more money, maybe to be happily married, maybe to have children, maybe to have a bigger house or a better car. The things that we might be wishing for and dreaming about could probably be lumped into two broad categories – stuff and relationships.

Sometimes, when we spend time dreaming of things that we don’t have, of the place in life where we’d like to be; we get discouraged because our dreams seldom come with instructions on how to get there. Just dreaming about success or even visualizing it doesn’t accomplish anything. We need to stop and assess where we are currently (where we are beginning from). Once you have a good handle on where you are – what are your current skills, what is your current education level, what experience do you have that might help,  what resources and support (family, friends, etc.) do you have to begin with – you are almost ready tolist start planning how to achieve your dream.  Write all of those things down somewhere and keep that list handy. This is the “where I started from” list and you’ll have use for it later.

But, before you take that first step; sit down and have a heart-to-heart talk with yourself about your goals. Success in life does not come without dedication and hard work. Are you truly committed to do what is necessary to get where you want to be? Are you ready to take the training or get the education that is required, even if you have to take it just a little at a time? Are you ready to make short term sacrifices, to work longer hours, to miss out on some fun things today in order to get to the goal of tomorrow? Success in life is not about buying a ticket and waiting to see if you win the drawing. If you are committed, then step off on your journey.

Since this is a journey from where you were to where you want to be, having that list that you just made above will serve as a way to measure progress. Make a note of each training course that you take successfully or each educational course that you pass on your way to the certificate or degree that you need. That way you’ll at least be able to see the progress that you’ve made from where you were. So wherever you go, there you are; and, you can see where you came from – it’s sort of like marking your growth on the kitchen door frame when you were a kid; only now you are marking your growth as a person towards your goal . Be sure to reward yourself along the way as a way to keep motivated. Celebrate each success and record it.

angry accuserAnother important part of the quote that kicked all of this off is not to let anyone discourage you. Sometime we have supporters and sometimes we have those who would drag us back down with them; telling us that we’ll never amount to anything and perhaps ridiculing us for even trying. Those are not really your friends, so let them fall by the wayside as you make your way. You can do this. You know that you can do this. If they don’t want to be there cheering for you as you achieve your goals then don’t let them become roadblocks to your success. There are many bad things that you are leaving behind on your journey to success and they make be a part of that old baggage that gets left behind.

One of the interesting side benefits of taking such a goal-oriented journey of self-improvement is that your life will likely change for the better along the way. People around you – family, friends and co-workers – will likely take note of your attitude and determination and your increasing skills and education, not because you tout them, but because they will make a difference in how you conduct yourself. You will likely be more confident, a little more outgoing and a lot more interesting person to know.

You will also meet lots of new people along the way and many of them may become new friends. That’shandshake a good thing because they join and increase your support group. It’s not unusual that your current boss at work may take notice too and offer you advancement based upon your new skills or education and your new way of carrying yourself. Maybe you hadn’t thought of that as a step along your journey, but each step up the ladder helps and it gives you another small success to add to your list. Sometimes it will feel like baby steps and sometimes like giant leaps forward. The important thing is to keep moving forward to keep your eye on the goal. Everybody began where he was. You did too; but, you are no longer there. You have moved forward and there you are.  Congratulations!

 


A thousand reasons to smile

May 2, 2014

Back to Jack – I’ve decided to give the three little words theme a rest and get back to the source that has been a primary inspiration for many of my past posts – the blog Jack’s Winning Words, which I get every day. I’ll revisit the three little words theme from time to time.

“Jack” is Pastor John (Jack) Freed, the retired pastor of my church. Although Jack “retired” many years ago he never really retired from doing most of the things that you might imagine a pastor does, he just shifted to a more leisurely pace and into different venues, one of which is his daily blog.

Jack starts each day’s blog with a quote, usually an inspirational one and then comments upon that quote – usually no more than a paragraph. I’ve used Jack’s quotes for years as the inspirational fodder for my more lengthy posts.

I believe that the quote I chose today is from one of Jack’s past blog posts  – When life gives you a hundred reasons to cry, show life that you have a thousand reasons to smile.” – unknown.

I’ve written in the past about the world’s greatest author – Anon. Today we have a quote by that quite prolific quotemiester – Unknown (Aka Unk.)

 

Life is always throwing stuff at us that makes some of us cry. A good cry can be a great way to get pastlady under cloud the initial emotional response to something bad; however, it can also be a gateway to despair and depression, so get it over with quickly and move on. In today’s quote the advice is to fight back by reinforcing in your own mind all of the reasons that you have to be happy, to be upbeat and positive.

Every time I’m complaining about something that I don’t have or about something that went wrong, my wife tells me to think about all that we do have – a nice home, a great family with wonderful grandchildren, two loving and loyal dogs and on and on. It’s true. I know that it’s true and before long I’ve usually forgotten what I was bitching about. I have a thousand reasons to smile, to be happy and to be content in life. I just don’t have time to spend worrying about stuff that I don’t have and probably don’t need. I have a garage full of that kind of stuff already.

What are your thousand reasons to smile? Have you taken stock of them lately and paused to think about them long enough to let that smile come to your face? Why not? Sometimes we seem to spend all of our time and energy worrying about things that maybe didn’t turn out like we would have liked; or, even worse, worrying about things that haven’t happened yet and may never happen – things that live mainly in our imaginations. Why instead don’t we celebrate the things that are right in our lives; puppyembrace the people and pets that we love and who love us back; be happy with the things that we do have instead of coveting the things that we wish we had; and bask in the things that we’ve already accomplished in life, instead of being dissatisfied with the things that we haven’t accomplished, yet. We have a thousand reasons to smile.

So, maybe print out that little saying and tape it to your mirror, so that you can start each day looking at it and remembering all of the reasons that you have to smile. What a great way to start off on the right foot for the day – with a smile on your face and a positive attitude towards the day. As they used to say on the Men’s Warehouse commercials – “You’re gonna like the way you look”, and so will those around you.


Three little words that may change your life… no, you won’t.

May 1, 2014

Sometimes the simplest little things can have big impact on our lives. In this series of posts I examine very short sentences (each just three words long) that can make a difference in your life. If you have a three word sentence that changed your life somehow, share it with me and I will share it with the world.

In the early to mid-80’s Nancy Reagan waged a campaign against drugs in teens with the slogan “Just say no.” Some ridiculed it as being an overly simplistic view of the world, but at the end of the day thatrejected was exactly the decision that each individual had to (and has to) make – to say no to the temptations or the peer pressure involved in that decision. Everyone knew what drugs could do to people and yet some still though that they could control the situation instead of the drugs controlling them. The smartest concluded that they would not let drugs even get the chance to gain control and they said no, you won’t.

In life there are many things that can happen or things that people can do or say that might get you down on them or on yourself. There are events that happen during a day that could ruin the day for you if you let them.  There are people who take great delight in trying to bum you out and drag you down into a funk. Those people aren’t happy if you’re happy; they want you to be miserable like them. If you know that these things are going to happen and that there are people like that trying to ruin your day, you have to stand up to them and for yourself and say no, you won’t.

There are also people who might want you to join them in doing something that you know is wrong, maybe something that they present to you as a thrill, like shop-lifting at a store or breaking into an empty church. Maybe they are co-workers who want you to join them in some scheme to cheat the company somehow or steal from it. Maybe they’re just a group of “friends” who want you to join in on the bullying of another or in making fun of someone else. In all of those cases you have to stand up and say for yourself – no, you won’t 

So, how do you turn saying no into a positive message and how do you take it further than that? First be proud that everything that I’ve used as examples were things that had no positive value. There was no upside to them, just downside; so you avoided the inevitable negative outcome by saying no. How you take it a step further is a bit harder, but there is a big upside to it – that’s when you add and you shouldn’t either just after you say no, you won’t.

There’s an anti- drunk driving ad slogan “friends don’t let friend drive drunk”; there probably should be one for this situation that says “friends don’t let friends do dumb stuff.”  If you can save not only stopping a friendyourself, but others (especially your friends)  from doing the wrong things why wouldn’t you try? You may get push back; you may even get ridicule; and, they may tell you to knock off the goody-two-shoes routine. Just tell them no, you won’t.