Be the best “you” that you can be…

June 27, 2022

As you start a new week, take a moment to reflect on these words of wisdom from Judy Garland – “Always be a first-rate version of yourself, instead of a second-rate version of somebody else.”

Young people often go through a phase of identity crisis in which they try to emulate someone else, usually someone famous, in the mistaken hope that they will somehow have the life that they see that person living. They may dress like that person or change their physical appearance to more closely resemble that person. The result is just a second-rate version of the person that they are trying to imitate, and the results are always disappointing.

It is certainly Ok to draw inspiration from one’s heroes and perhaps to try to “be like them” in displaying certain characteristics, like honesty or humility or empathy. The key is to internalize those characteristics and then make them your own by putting your spin on them and not trying to do exactly what that other person would do.

In the late 1990’w there was a world-wide phenomenon of WWJD bracelets which stood for What Would Jesus Do. A youth group leader at Calvary Reformed Church in Holland, Michigan, named Janie Tinklenberg, began a grassroots movement to help the teenagers in her group remember the phrase; it spread worldwide in the 1990s among Christian youth, who wore bracelets bearing the initials WWJD.

For some the challenge of thinking about what Jesus might do in any situation was overwhelming because they thought of it too literally and quickly became discouraged when they couldn’t live up to that standard. Others who understood the challenge better used the inspiration of WWJD to stop and consider what the “right thing to do” in any situation might be. They focused upon being a first-rate version of themselves, rather than lamenting that could never be more than a second-rate version of Jesus.

As you face the week ahead, do so with the resolve to be the best “you” that you can be. You don’t need to wear a WWJD bracelet to remind yourself to stop and think about what the right thing to do is in any situation. Put yourself in the right frame of mind by pausing before you head out the door and ask God with a little prayer, “Help me make good decisions today.” That way you will spend the day being the best “you” that you can be and not waste time being a second-rate version of someone else. You may find that there are other people trying to be more like you.

Imagine that.

Three little words that may change your life – Give yourself permission…

November 28, 2014

I’m kind of a work-aholic (I suppose there really is no way to be kind of a work-aholic) and my wife often tells me to “give yourself permission” to stop or take a break. As I thought about those three little words, I realized not only what good advice she was giving me, but just how important it can be to empower yourself.

Certainly, giving yourself permission to take a break is a good thing and can save you from becoming stressed out or overworked. There are many other things that you need to give yourself permission for that may also be life changing or life enhancing.

chasing goal You need to give yourself permission to fail every now and then. Not every endeavor will result in a win or getting done what you set out to accomplish. Sometimes you just have to tell yourself that it’s OK to fail, as long as you tried your best and you can learn something from the failure. It’s OK to be wrong every now and then, too. For many people that is a hard permission to grant themselves (or to admit to themselves). “Perfection is an illusion. Allow yourself room to make mistakes and permission to be happy regardless of outcome.”  ― Dawn Gluskin

Many people await someone else’s permission to take a chance or try something new, when they could easily just give themselves permission. For some, even allowing a relationship to progress to the point of making a real commitment is something that they have a problem giving themselves permission to do. For some the issue may be be the permission to feel your emotions. “I gave myself permission to feel and experience all of my emotions. In order to do that, I had to stop being afraid to feel. In order to do that, I taught myself to believe that no matter what I felt or what happened when I felt it, I would be okay.” – Iyanla Vanzant

Have you given yourself permission to feel and experience your emotions, or do you stifle them while you seek someone remorsefulelse to give you permission? Let me string together two quotes – “Don’t look for society to give you permission to be yourself.” ― Steve Maraboli and “When you are open to others, you give permission to those around you to be open to you.” ― Bryant McGill. So, give yourself permission to be you and to be open about yourself and your feelings. Others will open up to you.

We often hear about some organization or cause being empowering for the people involved; but, that is waiting for some outside group or event to give you permission, to empower you. Rather, have the confidence in yourself to give yourself the permissions that you think you need. Empower yourself. “Give yourself permission to get the most out of your life.” – Sandra Lee

What things are you waiting for permission to do in your life? Where do you think that permission is going to come from? cheering upYou can’t call your mom and ask for permission to fall in love. You have to give yourself that permission. Only you can grant yourself permission to stop grieving over a loss and move on with life. And, only you can give yourself permission to change your own life. “Dream and give yourself permission to envision a You that you can choose to be.” – Joy Page

Just be yourself…

November 9, 2014

As a rule I don’t listen to much music anymore. I have lots of it from my past interest in it and I have an iPhone and an iPad and iWhatever’s that I might need to download and listen; but I have other things that are more interesting to do and which take up my time. Listening is unavoidable at the gym that I visit every morning, since music is constantly on in the background. On Zumba days at the gym and on days when there is a group exercise class going on the music is an integral part of the sessions, providing the past-paced beat for the classes.

So, this morning I was going through my workout routine at the gym when a song came on in the background that caught my attention, mainly for its message. It is Joey McIntyre’s song “Stay the same.” The song resonated because that is topic that I have written about in the past, or at least I’ve written about being yourself and liking yourself ( see my three little words post on I like me or the post on “First believe in yourself”). In this song Joey sings about staying the same and not trying to change yourself; but, rather liking who you are.

look in mirorThe journey from childhood to adulthood sometimes takes a tortuous path through the badlands of self-doubt, self-denigration and sometimes self-destruction as developing youth struggle with finding their identity and being happy with what they find. We are surrounded by media images of perfection – the perfect face, the perfect hair and perfect bodies – so, it’s no wonder that many impressionable young minds come to the conclusion that they are not perfect and need to change something, maybe everything. They become enamored with the surface, with what they can see in the mirror, not what other “see” in them.

It is perhaps one of life’s greatest lessons to learn how to “see” beyond the superficial surface in people and find the true beauty of the person within. Equally important is learning how to be comfortable and confident with your own inner person and finding ways to let that part of you shine through. You can easily recognize people who have mastered that life lesson because of their smiles. Confident people often smile, not just because they are happy, but also because they are happy with themselves and they are unafraid of what others might think. It’s not that they don’t care what you think about them; it’s that what you think about them is not going to define them. They do not need your approval to be comfortable with who and what they are. They may seek your friendship; but, not because they need you to validate them.

Many struggle with establishing their own identity during those formative years. Some choose to run with a crowd full of people that they can emulate. The members of their crowd may dress alike, talk alike and act alike. Sometimes that is a at the gymbad thing, if the crowd becomes a bullying clique at school or elsewhere. Sometimes youth become fan-atics, following a particular performer or star in ways that can become obsessive. They may dress like their idol and change their appearance to look more like them, too. Fortunately most youth grow out of both of those options and eventually find their own identity. Somewhere in that transition is where they learn to like themselves, to accept what they look like, sound like and act like.

Both boys and girls (and many adults) may still go through a period of acting or disguising themselves to some extent while they are dating. They may take weight off, learn to make themselves up a bit more, dress a bit nicer, act a bit nicer, go to places that they would not normally frequent and perhaps do things that they would not normally do, all in search of the perfect mate. This is another phase in which just being yourself is actually the better strategy. Too many marriages later dissolve because the charade is dropped after marriage and one or both partners feel somehow cheated with what they are left with, especially if things progressed very fast and the opportunities weren’t taken to reveal the underlying people that were there all along. Marriage is a bond and commitment which should be made between two people who both “see” the other person for who they really are and love that person that they “see.”

accept me as I am So go listen to the song “Stay the same” and then get comfortable and confident with who and what you are. Learn to like yourself. Learn to love having time alone with just you. It will make it much easier to lile or love others.

Have a great week ahead!

Doing the right thing is never wrong…

October 1, 2014

“What’s right isn’t always popular.  What’s popular isn’t always right.”  (Howard Cosell). Jack featured that little saying by Howard Cosell a few weeks back on his Jack’s Winning Words blog.

I remember Howard Cosell. When I was younger, he was one of the major voices of sports. I think I first heard him interviewing Cassius Clay (Mohammed Ali) right after he won the heavyweight championship over Sonny Liston. Howard went on to have a long and always controversial career in sports broadcasting.  He wasn’t always popular.

This quote speaks directly to a major lesson that all parents try to teach their children. It’s usually within the context of judging right and wrong, but almost always also about understanding how to deal with peer pressure when making those decisions. Doing what is right is made all the more difficult if it is not what is popular; however, it is never the wrong thing to do. Eventually even teens understand that doing what is right will earn them a better reputation over the long run than going along to get along. Others will know that they can count on you to do the right thing and that builds trust. Having trust in someone is a major ingredient in any true relationship.

kids at schoolThere are so many choices (opportunities) presented to youth today that involve serious consequences if they make the wrong (sometimes the popular) decisions. The constant flow of new and different drugs that are readily available at the corner gas station is just one example. Experimenting with those drugs may seem to be popular, but that doesn’t make it right. No one ends up in the emergency room of the hospital for saying “no” to that temptation.

Later in life the temptations may become more subtle, but there is still a line there somewhere between right and wrong, no matter how popular something may be.  Discerning that line and staying on the right side of it may be a challenge, but it’s a challenge made easier if one starts with a strong sense of self and a good moral compass.

I’m a believer that one must first love themselves before they can love others. You must be comfortable and secure with who you are and not always striving to be like someone else.  Once you are satisfied with who and what you are; you can start to seek out others to share your life with. You will be popular with those people because you are giving of yourself and not just taking from them in an attempt to be like them. They will like you for who you are, not who you are trying to be.

Perhaps another little quote from Jack’s blog sums that up nicely –proud

“Be yourself.  Everyone else is taken.”  (Nicole Barutha)

So go out in the world today and be the best you that you can be. Do the right things. Do right by others and don’t worry about whether that is popular or not. The only one that you need to be popular with is you. Others may follow you along that path or you may follow others along the same path; soon you may even notice that you are now part of a crowd of happy people doing the right things. You’ve become popular without even trying.