It’s not a struggle; it’s your purpose…

December 29, 2022

I got this quote in an email this morning –

The struggle, like life itself, should be joyful. (Miriam Miranda)

From the same email – Miriam Miranda has dedicated her life to protecting the culture and land of the Garífuna people in Honduras. Throughout her 30 years of on-the-ground activism, she has faced threats, attacks, and imprisonment; still, she fearlessly advocates for preservation. To her, the harshest opponents — big business, real estate, and tourism development, to name but a few — are no match for the power of a woman fighting for a bright, sustainable future, and a better social safety net for the younger generation. Her continued efforts are nothing if not optimistic — and even, as her words here suggest, a joyful struggle.

The word “struggle” has negative connotations which makes it hard for me at least to associate with the word joy. If one is poor and homeless life itself becomes a struggle. We see on the nightly news the immigrants at our southern border struggling just to survive, most after having struggled for months just to get here. Most of us, however, are not struggling just to survive. Our struggle (our purpose, if you will) is most often based on some personal decisions that we make to take actions to better ourselves or the lives of others (quite often our families).

Quite often on the nightly news we see stories of people, some quite young, who have embarked on a mission to help others. They may have made it their purpose to collect coats for the cold or food for the hungry or toys for needy children at Christmas. Some may be providing shelter for the homeless in their area or perhaps a safe haven for victims of domestic abuse. Those stories on the news might often cause you to stop and think about what you might do or maybe think about what you are not doing. It is easy to become overwhelmed by the thoughts of how big of a task doing something like what was covered in the story would be to take on. We “struggle” to think of a purpose or mission that we could tackle.

The truth is that we don’t need to embark on some “holy grail” quest or mission. If you have the time and/or resources to take on something like forming and operating a charitable non-profit, more power to you and good luck; however, few have that luxury. Instead, look about you for already established non-profits in your community and volunteer at one or more of them. There are food pantries and homeless shelters and many other very worthwhile organizations in almost every community – most hiding in plain sight. If you go to a church, find out the things that your church is doing to help in the community and join in the efforts. You will find a sense of mission, purpose, and joy from joining any of those efforts.

 If putting yourself out there in a volunteer community service role is not for you, maybe just taking on the task of being a better person will provide you with the challenge (purpose) that you need to find joy in life. Making a mindful decision to be a better person gives you something to shoot for each morning and something to evaluate and be joyfully proud of each night. Even if you find little to be happy about at the end of any day, that evaluation provides you with even more incentive to do better tomorrow.  Forgive yourself for today’s failures and resolve to do better tomorrow. If today’s failures were caused by the actions of someone else, forgive them and learn from the experience. You will get another chance to do better tomorrow, and you will be wiser then.

Seeing life or the issues that you face as a struggle is a negative way to look at things. If instead you accept the challenge of overcoming the setbacks or obstacles that may come your way as part of your mission and purpose in life, then you will be able to pause and celebrate (be joyful) when you have met those challenges. You will have fulfilled your purpose.

It’s not a struggle; it’s your purpose…

Don’t Struggle…Make good decisions…

December 27, 2022

I recently saved a quote by Will Smith that I saw somewhere, even though I disagree with it –

“In all honesty, everyone is struggling.  Some are better at hiding it than others.”  (Will Smith)

I really don’t believe that everyone is struggling; however, I do think this quote by Martha Beck is true –

“Life is full of tough decisions, and nothing makes them easy.” (Martha Beck)

What Will Smith might see as a struggle is more often than not just a decision point in life, a place where a decision must be made, maybe a tough decision. Many times those decisions involve a right or wrong choice from a moral point of view. Oft times they also involved a conflict between our own self-interest and the interests of others. Doing the “right thing” to help someone else might not seem sometimes to be in our own best interest. But it is the “right thing” to do.

I have posted here a few times in the past that I often include in my prayers the request that God “help me make good decisions” today. There doesn’t have to be a decision starting me in the face, it’s just a request that God help me make valid right and wrong evaluations when decisions come up during the day and hopefully do the right things.

So, there is no reason to struggle with or hide your decisions. If you pause and let God help remind you what is right and wrong in any situation or decision, you will make the right decision. I suppose that does make it a bit easier. Maybe Martha should have said, “Life is full of tough decisions and asking God for help with them makes it easier.”

Don’t struggle with the decisions that you have to make. Ask for and accept God’s help. He will help you see the right and wrong in any situation and doing the right thing is always the best thing and the easiest thing in the long run.

So, don’t struggle today and this week; instead let God help you make good decisions.

Feel the burn of success…

September 11, 2014

“Bite off more than you can chew, then chew it.  Plan more than you can do, then do it.”  (Joe Paterno). From a recent post to the Jack’s Winning Words blog.

I was glad to see Jack make this post of a quote by Joe Paterno because too many people have been avoiding anything to do with Joe Paterno since the child abuse scandal broke out about his long-time assistant coach. I don’t want to comment upon that here at all; but I do want to expand on the quote from Joe.

woman catching starThis quote is a nice follow-up to my last post, which was about stretching yourself to go for your dreams (read See it and be it). In most cases that may initially seem like you are biting off more than you can chew. I guess if it didn’t feel that way, it wouldn’t be called a “stretch” would it? And, in order to achieve it, you will need to plan more than it seems that your can do. Then to get there, you will need to do what you have planned. Somehow it all falls into place; doesn’t it?

So, what logically comes next? No, it’s not instant success and reward. There is no magic in the equation for success just lots of hard work. Another great football coach had his to say about that –

The only place success comes before work is in the dictionary. – Vince Lombardi

Great coaches, whether in sports, business or life in general, tend to boil things down to simple, straightforward little phrases that make a lot of sense and inspire action. These aren’t just the “lunks” in the gym telling you to “feel the at the gymburn”; these are the leaders who help you understand that felling that burn is the only way to get to the next level and beyond; the only way to achieve your goals.

The “burn” that comes from success is not just about exercise and your muscles; it’s about putting in that extra effort, going that extra mile, studying that extra hour; doing what others are not willing to do to achieve the goal that you have set for yourself. The “burn” that you will feel when you’ve done what was necessary to achieve success burns your soul and it is something that only you will be aware of and understand. Once you’ve experienced it; it can become addictive. It’s not just the feeling of success at having reached that new level; it’s the good feeling that you get during the process. It is realizing how alive and in control you feel as you go through what you must to get to that new level.

A well-respected phycologist named Abraham Maslow reflected on this in his 1943 paper “A Theory of Human Motivation”. Maslow postulated that once you get past all of the things that motivate people out of their need to survive and be loved and accepted they will eventually reach a state of mind that he called self-actualization, in which that are chasing goalfocused upon things which are self-gratifying. That is what the “burn” of reaching for your dream of success can become – a self-gratifying and self-motivating energy that you can feed upon.
So, as you commit yourself to achieving your dream and do what you must do to get there, “feel the burn” that comes with success. Feel good about putting in that extra effort. Feel good about taking that extra class. Feel good about staying to make those extra charts for your presentation. Feel good about being the last one out of the building, because you put in that extra effort. Feel the burn of success. Let it warm you a bit, but then move on to the next thing that you need to do to reach your goal.

Once you reach your goal; once you have climbed the mountain that was before you; you may discover that you look out reaching goalfrom that peak and see another mountain far off in the distance that is even higher and even more challenging.
Congratulations! You’ve just discovered your next goal. Take a moment to savor this victory; then take a deep breath, visualize yourself at the top of that new mountain and start to feel the exhilarating burn from your next challenge. Nothing in life will make you feel more alive than the pain of the next struggle for success.

Feel the burn of success!