That’s life…

November 11, 2022

This quote was at the top of an email that I got this morning which was probably advertising something. I like it because it takes an active view of making life better, rather than a passive view.

One could spend (waste) a lot of time in the passive mode of hoping and dreaming about how life could be, but those who actually achieve those dreams are the ones that take action to make their dream happen. It is through the doing that we turn “I wish I was” into “I am.”

So instead of spending more time this morning hoping and wishing for a better life, maybe take a few moments to ask for God’s help doing the things that you need to do to become that better person. A simple prayer like, “God help me make better decisions today and help me become a better person” can set the stage for the successes that you desire.  

At the end of the day, if you can look back and feel good about the decisions that you made and the way that you comported yourself you will feel a sense of accomplishment that surpasses the achievement of greater wealth or power. You may also notice that the things that make you feel the best about yourself were things that you did to make someone else’s life better – a kind gesture or effort to help someone else, to complement them, or otherwise engage them.

Life is not lived in the vacuum of self, which is the lonely realm of hoping and dreaming; life is lived within the context of society in which “we” is more important than “me”. We are told in the Bible –

“Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit. Rather, in humility value others above yourselves, not looking to your own interests but each of you to the interests of the others.”  (Philippians 2:3-4)

It is not enough to wish that the other person has a better day or to hope that someone would open that door for them; it is up to you to do thigs to make the day better for them and in so doing to have a better day and become a better person yourself.

That’s life.

Don’t dwell…Do something…

September 5, 2020

One of the quotes that I saved from the Jack’s Winning Words blog some time back seemed appropriate to comment on this morning –

“Don’t dwell on went wrong.  Instead, focus on what to do next.”  (Denis Waitley)

The word dwell caught my attention. As I often do when wondering about a word, I Googles it and one of the results that came back was this…

5 Ways to Stop Dwelling on Negative Thoughts

  • Go Shopping in Your Mind. One distraction trick is to visualize yourself in the grocery store.
  • Keep Positive Company. If you can’t get troublesome feelings out of your mind, it may have something to do with your social circle.
  • Physically Throw Them Away. (I guess one could write them down on a piece of paper and then throw that paper in the trash)
  • Have a Cup of Tea.
  • Reframe Your Situation. (One example of reframing is redefining a problem as a challenge. Such a redefinition activates a different way of being. Problem has a heavy quality to it, while the notion of a challenge is enlivening.)

I think I get most of the advice, except maybe the cup of tea. Perhaps that advice was posted by someone in England. In America that might have read “Have a glass of wine”.

Most of the advice is really how to force (or trick) yourself to stop thinking about whatever it is, which would then allow you to refocus on the “what’s next” part. In that part of the quote, where the word “do” is the important word. The thinking involved in dwelling on a failure or a disappointment actually does nothing to resolve the situation in which you find yourself. It is in the doing that you are able to move ahead with life.

Sometimes you may start doing something to resolve the situation and realize that you are going in the wrong direction; but, at least you started doing instead of just dwelling on it and you can change direction and keep going. Your mind will be focused on the proposed solution or the new direction and not on the past.

The year 2020 will go down as one that gave us plenty of opportunities to dwell on failures or disappointments. With all of the things that have been canceled or delayed, it is easy to dwell in a stupor of disappointment and disgust. Blaming government leaders for what they did or didn’t do is a wasteful pastime of little real help – it is just dwelling upon the past. We must focus upon what to do next. A part of that is doing the things that are advised by our health-care professionals to contain the spread of the virus while we await a vaccine. Every time you put on your mask, think of it as “doing “ your part to help contain the virus.

A big and more positive thing to do about 2020 is to plan the rescheduling of the things that have been delayed. One must continue to believe that there will be a future and that events that have been delayed will take place in that future. Perhaps the song Tomorrow from the movie Annie would help. There will be a tomorrow.

Rather than dwell in the dumps about things that didn’t go as you had hoped they would in 2020, spend your time planning and doing things about making 2021 a great year. It will be remembered as the year that we all unmasked and got on with life.

Don’t dwell, do something.

What will you DO today?

October 6, 2017

“I have been impressed with the urgency of doing. Knowing is not enough; we must apply. Being willing is not enough; we must do.” —Leonardo da Vinci

We start each day with some sort of list of good and kind and helpful things that we know coulda woulda shouldawe should do and which we could do; but, then we think of other things and those initial thoughts become things that we would do if we weren’t already so busy. At the end of the day we may pause to reflect on our coulda, woulda, shoulda list of things left undone. We knew and maybe we thought ourselves to be willing, but we didn’t DO.

We are all presented with hundreds of opportunities/challenges each day to either do something or ignore something. In most cases, we know “know” what needs to be done or what should be done; however, as Leonardo said, knowing doesn’t always lead to doing the right thing. Many times it isn’t that we are unwilling to do the right thing; rather, it is that we choose to give something else or someone else our time and attention. We know, but we don’t do.

sewrving soupPerhaps it was calling or visiting someone that you know in alone or could use your visit to make their day. Maybe it was taking time to volunteer at a shelter or soup kitchen or with organizations like Meals on Wheels. Maybe it was stopping to talk to someone at work whom you know is going through some difficult times. Maybe it was just taking time to spend with your spouse or children. We know we should do those things, but we don’t. Maybe we are even willing to do those things, but we let other activities consume our time.

Perhaps the secret to implementing Leonardo’s advice is to spend those quiet moments at the beginning of the day with a prayer that asks for God’s help in setting your man prayingpriorities and committing your time. I find the simple prayer “Not my will but thy will be done” and the request “Help me make good decisions today” to be a good way to start my day. The first part is an ego release that relieves me from having to try to solve every problem on my own and the second part makes me stop and think about that the right things to do are in any decisions that I’m faced with making during the day. Leonardo would probably want me to add, “and let me act (DO) on those decisions.” You can come up with your own prayer, but be sure to ask for help doing and not just thinking about things

What will you DO today?

Do you care enough to actually do?

March 21, 2017

“You can lift the weight of caring by doing” – from a recent State Farm TV ad.

The TV ad that State Farm has been running lately is really heart tugging, which is what it was designed to be. It shows an average Joe is several settings with people and animals in obvious need around him. You can see that he sees their need and feels bad about it, but he doesn’t do anything in the ad. Watching the ad, the viewer can see the growing weight in his heart of caring but not doing. Point taken that it is not enough just to be aware of and care about the plight of others and of animals; you must also do something. Do you care enough to actually do?

We all carry the weight of caring. It is not possible to pass the man on the corner holding man with cardboard signup his ratty cardboard sign that asks for help for him and his family without caring; yet few stop to offer help. We may feel good about holding the door open for someone else somewhere, but too few make the effort to open the door to an animal shelter cage and rescue a lonely dog or cat. It feels good to drop a dollar into a donation bucket outside the local superstore; but only a few actually go to the homeless shelter to volunteer to serve food or offer services. Do you care enough to actually do?

At the end of the day, we may pray and thank God for all that he has given us; but do we think back on all of the opportunities that he gave us to serve others that we chose to ignore. We may even say “there but for the Grace of God go I”; but hold back on saying praying“God, please give me the courage to go there and help”. It’s easy to hurry past the needy or ignore those in pain or despair by looking the other way; after all we’re busy people with lives of our own to lead and mouths to feed. Someone else will provide for those people you may think; or, you can adopt the saying that the University of Michigan basketball team has been using in the NCAA Tournament – “Why no us?” Do you care enough to actually do?

The keys to actually doing something other than just caring are focus and prioritizing. You can solve all of the problems of the world nor meet the needs of everyone that you might encounter in life; however, you can focus on one or a few needs and prioritize them in your life. That may mean finding one person sitting alone in a care home and befriending them. depression4It may mean volunteering for Meals on Wheels and delivering meals and conversations to a few elderly shut-ins. It may mean adopting a pet or volunteering to work at a n animal shelter on weekends. It could mean volunteering to work on a house for Habitat for Humanity or bringing food to your church and then delivering food baskets to the needy at Easter. Maybe it’s befriending that lonely kid at school that nobody seems to like and who seems so down all the time. You know lots of things that need to be done and which you could do; but, do you care enough to actually do?

The point of the TV commercial and of this post is not to send you off on your day with a big guilt trip; but rather to start you thinking about what you can do to turn the care that you have in your heart for other into actions. Many people wait until they are older and helperperhaps retired before they get into volunteer work. It’s great that they eventually did do something about their caring, but it is not necessary to wait. Earlier in life most of us think that we are too busy with work and family to take the time to do work for others, but that is just rationalization. Make your volunteering a part of family life. Take the family with you to do that work. Let your children see and participate in the work that you choose to do in service to others. It is a great life lesson for them and it shows them that you really do care enough to actually do?

Have a great and caring day doing for others!

I wish I had…

November 5, 2016

From a post on the Jack’s Winning Words blog so time ago…

“We are always optimists when it comes to time; we think there will be time to do things with other people.  And time to say things to them.”  (Fredrik Backman)

I wish I had…” That is one of the most often heard lines at funerals. I wish I had said I sad looking manlove you. I wish I had said good bye. I wish I had spent more time with him/her. At those moments; when it’s too late, you realize that you let other; less important things in your life get in the way of what is the most important thing in life – interpersonal relationships.

Most of the things that we spend our time on in life have to do with objects, earning to buy them, procuring them or using them; however those inanimate objects are not capable of giving or returning love. They do not have feelings that need to be understood, nor can they return a hug. They consume our time without giving back. They demand our attention, without feelings or caring. They dictate our schedule without considering the consequences. They steal our time, if you let them. I wish I had…

mother and childrenSomewhere in the deepest recesses of our minds most of us have warm, fond memories of being in our mothers arms as a child. Many of us have strong memories of the passion and love that we shared with a significant other. Some have vivid memories of the birth of children and watching them grow up. Yet those memories got somehow pushed back in our minds due to the seeming urgency of or day to day lives. We always thought that there would be more time with mom or dad; one more Thanksgiving or Christmas; one more birthday party; one more opportunity to say I love you. I wish I had…

When our children were growing up and we had to work to pay for more objects or to prove
more for their futures. We told ourselves that we were sacrificing our time with them so that we could provide for them. We always thought that there would be father-daughter danceone more ball game, one more dance recital, and one more graduation to go to; but, then they were grown and gone. I wish I had…

And when that significant other than you took as your partner for life was young and vibrant along with you; you always thought that there was nothing that the two of you couldn’t do together and nowhere that you wouldn’t get to go together. Yet you found yourself spending less time together, as the demands of a career took over. Somewhere along the way both of you have slowed a bit, aged a bit and things have changed a bit in your relationship. Passion slowly gave way to old coouplecompanionship and fervor to comfort. Time seemed to speed up, but you always thought there would be more; more time to say I love you and more time to prove it.  I wish I had…

Don’t let life’s distractions steal all of your time. Tell the people in your life that you love them and show them that love by spending more of your precious time with them. Seeing your son’s ball game or your daughter’s dance recital is more important than staying late at the office to work on that report. Finding time to visit mom and dad is more rewarding than washing and waxing that new car you worked so hard to get. Taking time for a hug and a kiss with your significant other and telling him/her than you love them, is more hugimportant than getting into work early. By the end of the day, those opportunities may be gone forever. Of all of the thoughts that you could have today; don’t let one of them be – I wish I had…

Do the important things today…things with the people that you love and who love you. In the final analysis, those things that you do will mean more to you than the things that you own. In the end, it is better to say, I’m glad I did; than it is to say I wish I had…

Change your future today…

September 2, 2015

“Nothing we do can change the past, but everything we do changes the future.”  ― Ashleigh Brilliant

It certainly does no good to wallow in the past, especially if you use that as an excuse to do nothing in the present. afraidBetter that you should start changing your future by doing things today. Start by doing a quick and honest assessment of where you are today (not how you got there). Consider what are the issues or challenges that you face today and what do you need to do about them? Break bigger challenges down into smaller pieces or steps that you can take, one at a time, prioritize those small steps and then step off – start doing.

You will find that, even if you don’t initially realize it, in the doing you forget to spend time thinking about what’s passed. You are busy making your future. And when you get done with each task, take George C.  Marshall’s advice –

“When a thing is done, it’s done.  Don’t look back.  Look forward to your next objective.” 

 The advice of both Brilliant and Marshall look to the future, rather than the past. Brilliant seems to be more the dreamer and Marshall the more pragmatic, but both are heading you in the same direction – your future.

That is another important thing to keep in mind and one that I’ve written about her in the past – there is always a future. Every event in life that I spent time dreading and overthinking came and went without the apocalyptic end that I had imagined. Yes, some of them were painful, either emotionally or physically, but they passed and I was still there; life goes on and I was still standing. You will be, too. You will also learn that the solution to life’s disappointments, pains and trials is not to be found in a bottle or a pill, but within you and through actions.

Bottom line – you have a future and what that future is will change, depending upon what you start making it be today.  Here’s another  thought to get you started –

“It’s amazing how a little tomorrow can make up for a whole lot of yesterday.”  ― John Guare

Finally, for those afraid of the future, there is help within your faith –  me

“Never be afraid to trust an unknown future to a known God.”  ― Corrie ten Boom

You can change your future today with a simple little prayer – “Not my will, but thy will be done.” Now that’s doing something about your future!

Get up and show up, or shut up…

June 24, 2015

“Many are called, but few get up.”  (Oliver Herford) That little saying that I first saw on the Jack’s Winning Words blog begs for a follow-on addition – and fewer yet show up.

volunteersI am involved with a few small volunteer groups at my church, with the Milford Historical Society and the Huron Valley Chamber of Commerce. Each of these groups depends greatly on the help of volunteers to run event and get things done. They all use some sort of call to action and have things like sign-up sheets and volunteer forms. They put out widespread calls for volunteers in emails, newsletters or from the pulpit. Each also suffers from the malaise indicated by our little quote of the day – many are called but few get up (or sign up). Even worse is the fact that of those who sign up only a portion actually show up to do the work that needs to be done.

It’s relatively easy to sign up for something and then blow it off later. Those people get the “PR benefit” of having your name out there on the list as a volunteer, but then don’t do the work. That’s a little disgusting to those who do show up time after time, which is what normally happens in these little organizations – the same core group ends up doing all of the work for the group. Almost as disgusting are those who show up but consider the task at hand to be socializing rather than actually working – you know the type who take a selfie to post on their Facebook page but never really lift a finger to help.

opinionatedWhat are even more disgusting sometimes are the critical comments that you hear later from people who didn’t volunteer or who volunteered but didn’t show up. These are people who stand back and go “tut, tut; I could have done better than that.” Well, why didn’t you? One just wants to say something to them like “put up or shut up”; but, of course, one doesn’t because that would not be polite. Some of those folks are people who were active in the group for a while and now just rest on the laurels of their bygone volunteer work. Their comments usually start with “Well, when we did that, we…”

I wrote here recently about reacting to the call for help from others and that is an example of the same thing. Many people may hear those calls, but few get up to help. Fewer yet actually show up to help. Perhaps that s because we have made it easier and socially acceptable to just give money, rather than dirty our hands with the work that needs to be done. It is so much easier to just write a check than to get up and show up at the homeless shelter to serve a meal to someone in need. It is safer to drop some money into a collection pot than to visit the inner city to help a person sleeping in a doorway. I must admit that I take that way out (or perhaps that way to feel OK about myself) rather than get up and show up where the work needs to be done.

caregiverOne doesn’t have to sign up for a huge project to save the world. There are many small local organizations in every community doing wonderful things to help and they need your help. Find the local groups like Zonta or the Red Cross or The Wounded Warrior group or your church and find out what they need help with right now. Fortunately there is always something that needs doing and they are always looking for volunteers. Then get up, sign up, and show up.

You may not get an award for your service (that seldom happens) or even much of a thank you from the people that you are helping; but, at the end of the day there’s a spot in your soul that will feel a little warmer and a sense of satisfaction that when you were called you got up and you showed up. If you aren’t going to do that, at least have the good sense to shut up.

Have a great rest of the week.