What do you see?

July 29, 2019

In today’s Jack’s Winning Words blog this quote is used – “I shut my eyes in order to see.”  (Paul Gauguin).

Jack went on to write about imagination and seeing “in the mind’s eye”. He even referenced John Lennon and his song Imagine, which he wrote as he imagined world peace for a world that seems to be constantly at war.

Athlete’s, especially those at the highest levels of their sport often use “visualization”, Tiger Woodswhich is a form of imagining to “see” the play or shot that they are about to try, in order to practice and perfect it in their minds. Note that imagination starts with the same root as image – the visualization of something.

man daydreamingMany of us likely spend some time imagining what we might do with the money as we buy our Lottery tickets. It is amazing how generous we can be in our minds with imaginary money. I wonder how many would carry through on that imagined generosity if they actually won. I wonder what I would do?

For many, a time of prayer is also a time when we close our eyes, so that we can “see”. What we are looking for is our imagined image of God. With the exception of those who saw Jesus when He was on earth, no one has actually seen God; so we all try to imaginepraying what He will look like.

There is a tendency for people to use the phrase “the face of God”, but that is limiting your imagination to your own human frame of reference. Why do we limit ourselves to imagining that God looks like us? How egotistical is that?

There is a cute commercial running right now about Chees-zits crackers in which one character tries to quiet a big wheel of cheese by putting his hand over what would be the location of a mouth on a human face. The wheel of cheese exclaims, “You think I have a mouth. I’m a wheel of cheese.” Perhaps God is saying to us, “You think I look like you? I’m God!” Let your imagination soar. Get outside the limits of your human existence and “see” God.

woman-prayingSo, close your eyes and look for God. Perhaps it is in closing our eyes and shutting off the key way that we see and perceive the real world around us that we allow our minds to imagine the God that is not of this world, but of the world to come. Let your imagination take you there. Perhaps along the way your imagination will encounter “the peace that passes all understanding” – Philippians 4:7.

Close your eyes and pray. What do you see? Can you see God?

Advertisements

OK, it’s a new year; so, now what?

January 1, 2016

“A good beginning makes a good end” – old English proverb

The New Year’s Eve parties are over and we have launched into 2016 (maybe lurched into it for some who partied a bit too hardy). So; now what? Does the start of each new year really mark a whole new beginning for most people; a chance to start over or to change women dreamingtheir lives through the resolutions that that make? Well, maybe it could provide that new beginning; but only if you really want to change.

Every new day is the first day of the rest of your life; so that hackneyed old saying certainly applies. New Year ’s Day will only be different from any other day to the extent that you commit to make it different. If nothing else, New Year’s Day gives many of us a day off to reflect on where we are and where we’d like to go from here. We can spend the day in a hang-over stupor, watching football games and munching on party leftovers or we could spend some time on a serious self-examination of our current state and our goals in life; and give some thought to what we need to do to reach those goals.

I’ve never espoused beating oneself up or wallowing in despair about the past. It is what it was; but the past does not have to dictate your future. One technique that I’ve written about here before is the one used by many successful people in various walks of life and by athletes in particular – visualization. Spend some time visualizing the future that you want, but don’t dwell on that far-out goal for too long or it turns into just a dream. visualizationInstead, start backtracking from that goal and try to “see” the steps that are necessary to get to that goal. Those steps become your intermediate goals; the little things that when all are completed will result in you achieving your goal in life.

Breaking down complex tasks into smaller, more manageable steps is another trick of successful people. It allows them to manage their time and efforts in ways that keep them moving towards their goals. Being able to see and then achieve small steps in the lengthy journey to your ultimate goal also allows you stops along the way to celebrate and rejuvenate. There will be no marching bands and parades to celebrate those little victories. Most times a quiet little fist pump by yourself or a smile on your face may be the only indication that you’ve meet an intermediate goal.

Some have found that having someone act as an accountability partner helps. I wrote about that in this blog a few days ago. Many people find that sharing their goals with explainingsomeone, announcing their plans to them and then asking them to hold you accountable for achieving those plans helps keep them on track. One cannot let one’s self off the hook as easily when you have to report back to an accountability partner why you did not do what you said you were going to do. The other benefit is that it gives you someone to celebrate those small victories with once you have completed a step in the process.

Back to the question at hand; what will you do to make the New Year different from last year? IF your goals remain the same as last year what differences in your approach to achieving them can you take? What did you learn in the past year about yourself and about the process necessary to get to your goals? Can you “see” the steps necessary to achieve those goals? Where are you in the process? What are the next steps? What do you need to do tomorrow, next week or next month to make steady progress towards thoseto do list goals? Do you have the needed prerequisites   – education or training/skills or tools – to be able to achieve those goals. If not; should acquiring those prerequisites be an intermediate goal?

Break it all down and then be honest with yourself about where you are today and what the next few steps need to be. Some may find it helpful to actually chart out what they see as the steps needed to achieve their goals. Drawing things out in sequence and on a timeline may help you see the holes in your current plans and perhaps help you set a more realistic timetable for yourself. Using that technique may also help you identify the prerequisites that you need to plan into the process, which will further impact the timeline. If you break it down into small and achievable steps it makes it easier to set short-term goals for yourself and to see the progress that you are making.

reaching goalSo, here we go into 2016. What have you got planned for this week and next that are steps along the way towards your goals? As you achieve those intermediate steps, don’t forget to take time to congratulate yourself on your progress. Also take time every month to review your plan to see, based upon your new experience, if you need to add some things to your drawing. That’s not a setback. That’s experience turning into wisdom and a wiser you is much more likely to achieve those goals.

Have a great journey towards your goals in 2016 and congratulations on taking the first steps today.


Take the first step…

June 23, 2015

“You can’t ever take the next step until you take the first.”  (Deacon Jones). Of course, I saw that first on the Jack’s Winning Words blog and it’s an important piece of advice. Many people spend their lives dreaming about something or hoping to someday accomplish some specific thing, but they never take that first step. Others try to skip over taking the first step, hoping that they can jump into something in the middle somewhere – life doesn’t work like that either.
turtleMany things can keep us from talking the first step, but most of the time it’s usually fears. Fear, Uncertainty and Doubt or FUD, as we called it in the business world that I was once a part of, was actually a strategic weapon that many companies used to gain advantage or to overcome a disadvantage. In life FUD often has the effect of stopping us from taking those critical first steps towards some goal. Fear of rejection prevents us from asking the girl of our dreams out. Fear of failure stops us from trying a new way of doing something; a way that may well have been the best path to success. Uncertainty makes us hesitate just long enough for the moment that we had been waiting for to pass. Doubts about our looks or our clothes or our abilities or whatever keep us from even trying. Don’t let FUD rule your life. Take the first step.

Another saying that seems to go along with today’s quote was also recently on Jack’s blog – “Giving up is the only sure way to fail.” ― Gena Showalter

I suppose that never taking the first step is a way to sort of “pre-fail” instead of a way to prevail. Some people have theafraid ability to rationalize that avoiding that first step is a good thing, because then they could never fail at whatever it is that they are avoiding. Many of these do nothing people go through life telling themselves that they coulda done it if they wanted to and that they woulda done it had it not been for something that was out of their control. Later in life those same people lament that they shoulda done it when they had the chance. Don’t be a coulda, woulda, shoulda person. Take the first step.

Sometimes that first step can seem very scary; however, as I’ve written here before, I suspect that most of the things that we are afraid of as we step off are things that exist only in our imaginations. The human mind is an amazing fiction writer and, given its head (pun intended) to come up with the worst possible scenarios, it will work overtime to conjure up Lions and Tigers and Bears – oh, my! The good news is that our minds are also a great visualization machines that can show you the path to success. Most great athletes visualizationpractice visualizing their shots or their games. They see themselves being successful. They see the winning putt going in or the three-point shot to win the game hitting nothing but net. Successful business people also use visualization to imagine the perfect presentation or the customer saying yes and signing the contract. You can also use visualization to look ahead and see success in your life. But, before it can make a difference; you must take the first step.

So think about the things that are still on your “to-do” list for life (your bucket-list, if you will); the things that you really wanted or hoped to do someday; the goals that have been floating around in the back of your mind for some time. What’s stopping you? What are you afraid of? Many of the obstacles that you see ahead are real and not imagined; so, you’ll need to visualize yourself overcoming those hurdles. Practice in your mind ten times; a hundred times; as many times as it takes to “see” yourself being successful. Explore the various alternatives and pick the best path to that success for you. Be prepared to deal with setbacks and to capitalize on successes, but most important – take the first step.

Sometimes when you take that first step it will be like the first time you jumped off the high dive at the swimming pool ashigh board a kid. It scared the crap out of you and you were sure that you were going to die or at least feel a lot of pain. But afterwards, when you popped up to the pool surface and realized that you did it and you didn’t hurt yourself, you couldn’t wait to get back up there and do it again. Most things in life that you are afraid of won’t really kill you, even if you fail initially; but, you’ll never feel that exhilaration of having done it and survived until you take the first step.

Look at it this way, yesterday was Monday and you took that first step. That didn’t kill you, so now you can go on to the next step. So, have a great week ahead the journey has just begun because yesterday you took the first step.


Never lose the ability to pretend…

December 27, 2013

From the Jack’s Winning Words blog comes this thought for today – “When there’s snow on the ground I like to pretend that I’m walking on clouds.”  (Ikkaku, Hosaka & Kawabata).

We use the word pretend when we are children and it is a fun thing to do. Sometimes children will use the phrase “play like”; but they are really pretending. It is the ability to pretend that allows a child to take a crude approximation of a human figure and create a super hero out of it, imagining all sorts of scenarios and outcomes to pretend battles.

boy imaginingPretending can be a great pastime and is probably actually good for us; no matter what age we happen to be. As adults we oft choose to use other words, liker daydreaming or imagining. Every time the Mega-Millions jackpot gets really huge people daydream about what they might do with the money if they won. Do you? I certainly have spent my share of time in thought about that topic. It’s fun and it’s a release from everyday life.

Retaining the ability to pretend is important for good mental health in adults. Now, that is not to say that people who have moved beyond pretending and who may be living in deep delusion are mentally healthy – quite the opposite.  But, the ability to drift off into a daydream or to sit quietly and explore an imaginary scenario or world in our minds can be a healthy release of day-to-day tensions.

I’ve written before about the need occasionally regress to one’s childhood pleasures, such as making a funny face in the mirror in the morning while shaving or perhaps engaging in a pillow fight with a loved one. As we get older, most of us get very good at controlling ourselves and bottling up our feelings and emotions. We do that because we are told that this is what adults must do; and, when we are children, we do so want to be accepted as adults.

As adults when we look around in social settings there is no one sticking out their tongue at someone else or making funny faces (at least no one who is sober), so we adopt the behavior of the crowd of other adults around us, because we want to fit in. In general and in public, that’s a good thing. It’s also a stifling thing, because to means we must constantly repress the child in all of us who just wants to come out and play once in a while.

We all need to find that inner child and let him/her out once in a while; whether it be making that funny face in girl imaginingthe mirror or finding other ways to get back in touch with that innocent level of joy and fun. I’ve known a few artists in my life and have noted that many of them still let that childish side come out in how they dress or act. They can pull that off, because everyone allows a bit more eccentricity in artists. I think that what we call eccentricity is really a little of their childish side expressing itself through their dress and that’s a wonderful thing. To be an artist is really to learn to capture and use your imagination through your art. If you listen to great sculptors they will often say that they could “see” the sculpture that they created even as they stood in front of a large, blank slab of granite. Painters, too, have the ability to see (imagine) what they are about to paint, even as they stare at a blank canvas.

Most of the widely acknowledged motivational speakers on the topics of self-improvement or success in life use the term “visualize”, which is just another way of saying pretend. They say you must visualize what you want to achieve – you must imagine it. They never use the term daydream, because that is too passive; but funny facemany use phrases like, “if you can visualize it; you can accomplish it.” Great athletes also often talk about visualizing what they want to accomplish. Sometimes they go over and over something in their minds, imagining what will happen and what they will do. Perhaps these are examples of what happens when the adult creeps back into a process that starts with the child in us all pretending; or, perhaps it is a case of the child finding a way to break out and have a little fun pretending in the adult. Let’s hope it is the latter. Now, please excuse me; I feel the need to run to the bathroom and make a funny face in the mirror.