Learn from and enjoy the detours in your life…

October 19, 2016

From a recent post to my favorite blog, Jack’s Winning Words“Sometimes the shortest path between two points is serpentine.”  (Christopher Penfey)

Jack went on to write about how sometimes the shortest (easiest) path in life isn’t the best or most interesting path to take. In the world of exercise and fitness it is well known that weight-liftingresistance is the key to building muscle (to increased strength and growth). In life, too, the twisting path or detours offer the type of resistance that allows us to get stronger and grow as human beings. We learn little from the straight and easy paths in life.

It is difficult for most people to appreciate a detour in their life when they encounter one. maze with help signIndeed it is the unexpected nature of those detours that prevent us from planning ahead for them. We can, however, be better prepared mentally for dealing with them. Perhaps it will take us a few moments of reflection to calm down and accept that life has taken yet another turn and that we must do something other than panic about it. In many cases the bend that life may have just taken you around can be very enjoyable. Some of the best times in my life were not the result of planning, but rather just happenstance – another detour that life took me on. I’m sure that all of us can recall some unplanned, but enjoyable event or place that we visited. Those were some of life’s little detours.

The key it seems to me is to be able to take life as it comes at you and deal with
it in as positive a manner as you can. Not every day will be a happy day. Not everything happy in rainthat you try will result in success. The secret is figuring out how to use this resistance that life throws at you to grow and get stronger and the key to that is keeping a positive attitude about life. You can start on that by taking to heart this little saying by Joel Osten –

“Nothing happens to you, it happens for you.”

Perhaps your life has been full of detours; things that seemed to throw you off the course that you had planned for your life. Things happen for you to learn from. Things happen for you to enjoy. Things happen, so deal with them. Perhaps the best line in Jack’s post is one that he himself penned –

roller coaster“I’ve come to realize that the detours can be the best part of the journey.” ( Jack Freed)
So, learn to accept things as they come at you. Learn to enjoy and learn from life’s detours. Life is not a straight-line race to get to the end. The more serpentine it is the more time that you have to enjoy it. Enjoy the journey.

Don’t worry, be grateful…

February 1, 2015

“My life isn’t perfect, but I am grateful.”  (Unknown) – from a recent post on the Jack’s Winning Words blog.

One can take this as it is and do a riff on how we should be grateful just to be alive, and I am, by the way. However; one could mentally substitute the word “and” in place of the word “but” and launch off on a whole different take on things, which of course is what I’m going to do.

As I get older the original meaning of this little saying becomes more important to me. Each new day is a gift of more time here with friends and family and the other things (not necessarily possessions) that I have had the time to grow to appreciate.  The extra time alsothinking woman is more enjoyable because I have come to realize that what makes like so interesting and precious is the fact that it’s not perfect and that dealing with those imperfections requires attention, creativity and problem solving skills. Out of the need to deal with the imperfections of life come adventure, excitement, and passion.

Almost everything that happens to us in life somehow involves another human being – someone who did something or didn’t do something that caused a problem or elicits a reaction.  Of course there are calamities (imperfections on a large scale) that are caused not by people, but rather by nature – storms and floods and earthquakes and such. And sometimes the things that we count on in life just break or stop working and that can be an annoying imperfection in life.

However, the real gut-wrenching imperfections tend to involve relationships with other people. Dealing with natural calamities or the happenstance of the stuff around us not arguingworking as it should is at least more straightforward – it is what it is and we have to deal with it. The imperfections that are caused by strained or failed relationships are a bit harder to deal with, mainly because we must have played some role in whatever caused the riff, either through something that we did or didn’t do in our relationship with that other person. There is no way that we can duck the responsibility for having some role in this imperfection, unlike being able to say, “Oh well what are you going to do?” as we can with a major storm or an appliance that has stopped working.

So, how does that make life more interesting and why should you be grateful for those imperfections? It’s because it forces us to get outside ourselves, to acknowledge that we live in a society and not a cave by ourselves. Our world involves more than just meeting our own needs and our needs involve more than just staying alive. We are by nature social animals and like many other animals we seek others with which to share our lives. We don’t call our social connections or “pack”, but the concept is similar. Our inter dependencies with otherscaring in our “pack” are usually focused on more than just hunting and eating and more to do with feelings of self-worth and belonging.

Out of our need for social interaction come the imperfections in life that we must deal with and which keep life interesting. There is inevitable friction in every social “pack” – someone doesn’t like me, someone didn’t invite me to their party, I forgot to send a card to someone, someone is talking about me behind my back and on and on it goes. Sometimes just keeping all of the issues that are involved can be a mental exercise involving more work that solving the Sunday cross word puzzle I the paper. Then figuring out how to deal with these things, and what to say to whom; whether to try to help resolve these differences or just avoid getting in the middle of it is a decision process all of its own. It can keep you on your toes; but it sure isn’t boring and we should be grateful for that.

It is not really surprising when you think about it that “reality” shows have become so popular on TV. Reality is what we are used to living with and some of these shows do a fair job of mirroring the interesting things that we all know go on in real life. They are certainly easier to relate to than many of the drama or comedy shows.  (as entertaining as they may be).  What we supposedly see are real people gong about solving the real, everyday girls huggingproblems that we all might face; albeit many of the situations and people chosen may represent the extremes in life.

Many times in life and we get to the end of a crisis or situation we will say something like, “I’m glad that is over.”  Few of us realize at the time that we might also be glad that whatever it was happened. We survived, we figured it out, we solved the puzzle and because of that we are stronger, wiser and better off. Life is full of imperfections small and large and dealing with them and learning from those experiences is what makes it worth living. And for that I’m grateful.

Put your burdens down…

March 6, 2014

“Everyone has his burden; what counts is how you carry it.”  (Hugh McLeod) as seen on my favorite daily blog – Jack’s Winning Words.

Obviously, McLeod wasn’t talking about the size and weight of your backpack or your briefcase, if you’re an adult. His reference is to the mental and emotional loads that most of us haul around – a few pounds of remorse, along with several pounds of regret, maybe some fear, uncertainty and doubt to add a little to the load, and of course gobs of self-doubt and self-depreciation. All of this may be carried, along with sadness, anger, and maybe some jealousy and hate for good measure. Maybe your burden of bad decisions that you’ve made (or perhaps that one whopper of bad judgment that you’ll never get away from), which you now drag along behind like a long tail. Maybe you are weighed down by the coulda, woudlda, shoulda’s in your life. No matter what the makeup these are our burdens in life.

The point is that we all accumulate these things as we journey through life. It is impossible to live without making mistakes that we might later regret. It’s OK to have those burdens according to McLeod; if you know how to carry them. That is probably the point in that little saying upon which I disagree with McLeod. I would  re-state his saying to be, “Everyone has his burdens; what counts is your ability to put them down.”

I would argue that finding a way to keep a stiff upper lip and carrying your burdens through life while playing the role of the good dobby, is both wrong and damaging. It is wrong to hold things in, to keep them to yourself, to let them fester and have control over your life. It is damaging to yourself to let your burdens grow until they beat you down or cause you to vent your anger on others as a release.

To my way of thinking it is much better to find a way to put those burdens down. If they are feelings of disappointment, jealousy or hate, they are likely aimed at someone else and you need to confront that and get it behind you. Most times that means confronting the person at whom the feelings are aimed and talking things out. At least bring that burden to closure, put it down. Get it (and maybe them) behind you and get on with life.

If your burden is directed inward in feelings of inadequacy or self-loathing, seek help from those around you who care about you and love you – family, friends, your pastor, your teachers – they are there if you just reach out. They will probably just tell you what you already know – that they love you for who you are.  It’s just good to hear that from others some times. And if you really can’t think of anyone for that role, remember that there is One who loves you no matter what. Ask Him for help. He will not turn you down.

You must learn to love yourself before you can truly love others. Be content with what you are and who you are and find happiness in spending time alone with yourself. Talk to yourself (out loud if that works for you) and talk the things out that are burdening you. You’ll be amazed how much it helps sometimes to just verbalize those gnawing issues that have become your burdens. Sometimes they sound kind of silly, once you put them into words.  See which one you can put down with having to confront anyone else because they are really all about you. Put those down first.

So, maybe you have that real whopper of a burden that you’re carrying; something really bad that maybe got you into more trouble than being grounded for a week. Maybe you even got suspended from school or perhaps even arrested. It was bad and you know that now. It was wrong and you know that now, too; and you won’t do that again. The real burden that you are carrying is probably more about worrying about how people might react if they find out about that incident in your life and how they will judge you because of it. How do you put that down?

I’ll bet that half of the successful motivational speakers in America are out there entertaining audiences and inspiring them with stories of their big mistakes – how they used to do drugs or rob and stole when they were younger. Many of them relate the consequences that they had to pay for their burdens – prison time for many. But, there they are, in front of the audience telling their story and getting applause for it. They turned it around to a positive life lesson that they want to share with others and which others are happy that they’ve shared. That’s how they put that burden down.

So, rather than let your personal whopper continue to be a burden, stand up and tell your story. Admit that you were wrong and talk about how that changed your life and made you a better person. Do it in small groups or in front of an audience. I think you’ll find that approach to be an extremely liberating thing to do, since you’ll no longer be consumed by the fear of someone finding out and forming an opinion about you based on what they hear. Tell them what you want them to hear and help them form their opinion of you based upon who you’ve become because of that experience. Put that burden down.

And don’t worry about not being cool. The people who think you’re not cool for standing up and talking about what you did wrong and what is right are not the people that you really want to be around anyway. Many of them may end up as motivational speakers, if they get out of prison. It’s the people who listen and take your story to heart that you want around you; the people who then share their stories with you and give you a hug because you inspired them to put their burden down, too.

So take stock today of the burdens that you’ve been carrying and get started on the mental and emotional housecleaning necessary to put them down. Life is a lot more fun without all of that excess baggage. Don’t carry them around; put your burdens down.

Don’t be dissapointed…

July 15, 2013

“There are two disappointments in life.  One is not getting what you want.  The other is getting it.”  (Oscar Wilde) from my favorite source, the Jack’s Winning Words blog.

I was drawn to this quote that Jack used recently by the amazingly simple complexity of it. We are as human beings always striving for something. At the most basic and primitive level that is the struggle to survive; however, few of us are at that level or even give that much thought. Most of us have aspirations – things that we want or want to achieve in life. The things on that list constantly change or evolve, depending somewhat on our stage in life and whether or not we have learned anything from the journey to that stage.  I think that the way that one can avoid being disappointed by getting what you want is to want the right things.

One of the things that my personal life journey has taught me is that the material things on my list have proven to be for the most part disappointing or less fulfilling once achieved than I had at one time imagined.  Things or possessions have less and less meaning to me as I enter the autumn of my life. Make no mistake, there are things that I have that make life much easier – a home, cars , clothing, etc. But I note that having the biggest and best McMansion or the flashiest car or many other things that I once considered worthwhile to strive for now mean much less to me than having friends and family close by and being able to do things with and for others.

familyRelationships are seldom mentioned on people’s “bucket list”, but perhaps they should be at the top of the list. Having lots of things without anyone to share them with makes them meaningless. Holding great wealth tightly against one’s breast is not as satisfying as hugging a grandchild who just got his first hit in Little League baseball.

So, I’ve finally realized and started focusing upon the things in life that have real meaning – the people around me – family and friends. If you make what you want to be meaningful and loving relationships with loved ones, I can’t see how you can be disappointed by getting what you want. You’ll end feeling like the richest person in the room.

So take a look at your list of things that you want. If you got everything on the list today, do you think you’d be happy or disappointed? Maybe it’s time to re-write your list.