It’s a living; but, is it a life?

March 2, 2017

“Work won’t hug you when you’re old.”  (Bob Dotson)  – from the Jack’s Winning Words blog. Jack went on to write – Dotson tells of a man whose work caused him to be away from home for extended periods of time.  While gone, he’d plan “Daddy Days” with his daughter when he got home.  Those were special!  We need to be alert so that in our making a living, we don’t neglect to make a life.

I’ve written here a few times before about the danger of getting so wrapped up in one’s family grroupcareer and the need to make more and more money, that one forgets the important things in life – why and for who they are supposedly doing it. All too often it is the parting embrace of the father-daughter dance at her wedding that a father realizes his little girl has grown up and that he missed most of it, because he was so hard at work. Perhaps it is when his son drives away with his bride that the father stops to reflect on years of missed ball games and lost opportunities for father-son bonding.

Whether we admit it or not, a large part of the cause for one’s devotion to a career, is not the drive to earn money for the family, it is the need to feed an ego that hungers for recognition and adoration.  It is the need for external indications of success in life that one may not be able to find or identify from their day-to-day family life. Only later in life do father-daughter dancepeople who fall into that trap find out that the most important roles that they ever had in life were husband and father. At least Dorson recognized that enough to plan Daddy Days when he was home.

Many over-achievers find even more ways to attain self-gratification when not working by engaging in sports or other competitive leisure-time pursuits.  They don’t see being a successful parent and being engaged in their children’s lives to be as a satisfying “win” as being club champion at the country club. I was interested to read recently that Christopher Ilitich, the new CEO of the Ilitch Enterprises pizza and entertainment empire, is also a coach on his son’s baseball team. It appears that he is living a more balanced and rewarding life.

Sometimes trying to achieve that balance can feel a little like the guy with one foot on the dock and one foot in an untied boat. The dock (your family and home life) is, and should beone-foot-on-the-dock the foundation upon which your life is based. The boat will almost certainly try to float away and take you from that foundation. It is tempting sometimes to just jump into the boat and see where it takes you and you may not even look back at the dock until it is out of sight. It takes a stronger person to keep a foot on/in both and not let the boat drift away with you in it. If you really think about it; everything that you really want and cherish is on the dock and not in the boat; so, never give up your foothold there.

So much of the wisdom of life that is shared by older people is couched in terms like “don’t do what I did” that is make one wonder why it took so long for them to realize their mistakes. Perhaps the answer is found in Ecclesiastes 2:2626 – To the person who pleases him, God gives wisdom, knowledge and happiness, but to the sinner he gives the task of gathering and storing up wealth to hand it over to the one who pleases God. This too is meaningless, a chasing after the wind. Perhaps, instead of chasing the wind, if one man prayingfinds God first, He will give you the wisdom to see the important things in life and show you the right path to take.

I have a feeling that if you center your life around God the rest of the things will take care of themselves and you will have more fulfilling relationships with your wife and children. They will be there to give you those hugs throughout life and not just when you are old. As you count your “treasures” at the end of life, those accumulated hugs will be of much greater value than all of the salary and bonuses that you’ve ever earned.  Make all of the days that you can Daddy Days and Husband Days with those who love you.

Have a great rest of the week. There’s a Daddy Weekend coming up.

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What do you want?

September 29, 2015

“Everything you want is on the other side of fear!” – Jack Canfield

Jack Canfield is an author and motivational speaker on the topics of personal and business development and success. Among Canfields book is the well know “Chicken Soup for the Soul” and “The Success Principles”. Like most motivational writers and speakers, Canfield focuses mainly upon helping people overcome the obstacles to success and getting the things that they want in life.

turtleMost of the advice from motivational speakers might double as half-time speeches from sports coaches. They tend to focus upon techniques like visualizing, planning, prioritizing, perseverance and being accountable, which are all good things. The fear that Canfield speaks of is usually self-inflicted and grows out of uncertainty or doubt. We tend to fear the unknown and the uncertain outcome. We have doubts about our own abilities or worth that hold us back. Motivational speakers like Canfield promote seemingly simple and logical approaches to overcoming those fears and doubts.

The message of these speakers is aimed at helping people achieve things in life, like getting ahead at work, or to get what they want in life, which is normally defined in material terms – the bigger house, the better car, the exotic vacation, and the best schools for their children. In sports it is always about winning the championship, whatever that is. It is about defining a goal in terms of achieving or acquiring.

There is a whole different cadre of speakers who focus more on what might be called the spiritual side of life. These girls huggingspeakers focus upon maintaining a balance in life between the work life and the goals and rewards of that and the interpersonal side of life – your relationships with those with whom you share your life. Sometimes, especially when one is younger, this side of things takes a back seat to the focus on accomplishments and material achievements. This focus on things other than the material often stays buried in our priorities until we have reached many of the goals that were driving us and realize that we have still not achieved the happiness that we thought would come with them. We may then start paying attention to the messages of the speakers who urge us to take time for ourselves and to spend quality time with those we love.

Sometimes, after we have achieved some level of balance in our lives, we also re-discover a faith that was also suppressed by our focus upon success and accumulating possessions. As we slow down a bit and start really thinking about the lives that we are living and what is really important to us, we may find that reconnecting to the message of faith is something that we want, maybe even something that we need. We may discovery that there is a hole in our lives, a need that no amount of things can fill and a role that none of our loved ones can play. When you come to that point in your life, I would offer a single line answer that is similar to Canfield’s. For, if as Canfield has advised; praying“Everything you want is on the other side of fear”, I would advise that-

“Everything you need is on the other side of prayer.”


Get back to the sweet innocence of life…

June 19, 2014

“There is some kind of a sweet innocence in being human- in not having to be just happy or just sad- in the nature of being able to be both broken and whole, at the same time.”  ― C. JoyBell C.

That was the quote on a recent post from Jack Freed on his Jacks Winning Words blog. I scalesfound it to be an interesting quote to give some thought to. It is perhaps when we lose that “sweet innocence” and allow one side of our nature to take over (usually the sad side) that we become really broken and depressed.  It is important to keep that balance between the happy and the sad in life and maybe even important to keep trying to tilt it towards the happy side.

There are many things in life that can try to break you – the loss of a job, a divorce, a death or maybe watching a loved one fade away in the grip of Alzheimer’s disease. It would be really easy to allow those things to drag you into a more or less permanent state of sadness. Recognizing that fact and fighting it by finding the other things in life that makes you happy is critical. Sometimes it is hard to summon up those things – a favorite place, a favorite vacation memory, other man daydreamingloved ones who are still there, maybe a favorite pet – but they are still there and they may need to have some time in your thoughts to balance your life out a bit.

Sometimes just turning to prayer can take you to a better place for a while and may help trigger other, more pleasant thoughts than those of the crisis at hand. It can also relieve the burden, if you can get to the place where you allow God to take over by saying to yourself or out loud – “Not my will but thy will be done.”

To some that may seem like a cop-out, but to most that is the only way to get to the state of mind where you can let go of things that you cannot control. In the world of fine dining sherbet is often served between courses to “cleanse the pallet” between courses and get ready for the next course. Perhaps prayer can be thought of as a way to cleanse the pallet of your mind and get it ready for what is next.

Yes, you will probably still have to deal with the things going on around you that caused your sadness, but you can now do so with the burden lightened because you now admit that it is not all up to you and that you are doing all that you can, with the rest up to a child fishin gin puddlehigher power. Perhaps you will also be able to allow some of happiness back into your life and get back into that balanced state of sweet innocence. You can be whole again. So, take a moment and allow yourself to have some happy thoughts.