Don’t Waste Any of Your Seconds

The slow misty fog caused a sparkling halo to surround the street lamps. Each shimmered with scattered rainbow. All I could see was wet with gentle rain that caused everything in view to capture light and glow with color. Only one car passed mine and no wonder, it was 4:55am. The length of my drive to the gym was less than ten minutes, but with heightened awareness I have cultivated, what once would have been hours worth of memories were catalogued in just those few minutes.

I passed a dry cleaner’s sign that with a few bulbs out spelled an unintentional word. Lights were on inside the donut shop and I assumed the bakers were busy in back making sweets for the day’s morning rush.

Stopped at a traffic light a policeman in a cruiser was beside me. He seemed lost in thought staring straight ahead. Maybe he had gone through a difficult and traumatic night. Or maybe he was daydreaming about getting home to crawl into bed next to the one he loved.

Lit up almost like daylight was the big hospital on my left that covers a city block and keeps growing and growing. The wet pink marble glimmered in the spotlights it was being bathed in. Driving past my memory bought up the time when I spent several days in intensive care there.  Thankfulness was immediate that was behind me. The thought was followed by a moment of concern for those whose illness placed them there now and the concerned loved ones of those sick people. For the good health I have, gratitude filled me as I stopped at the last traffic signal before my destination.

Usually  the radio on or a CD playing when driving, but the evening before on the way home I had turned it all the way down to take a phone call. The silence was bordered by the sounds of my car, the rain falling on the windshield and my wipers moving the water side to side. I could hear the friction of my tires against the water on the street; a steady noise that was comforting in some odd way.

My hair was bent and twisted into a bed head style since I had done little before leaving home except dress and make coffee. Sipping on the travel mug as I drove the last quarter-mile the realization came that I had come a long way to not care what someone might think when they saw me with my hair sticking up. I was pleased with my self.

I chose to workout with a trainer very early three times per week because I knew at any other time I would not stay with it consistently. Pulling into the gym parking lot the last seconds of my drive were spent thinking in the silence while  the wet world outside went  by. I was struck by how good my life is. Not perfect; far from it. But good; really good!

Taking the time away from relationships for a few years to truly come to know ‘me’, by myself, enriched my life beyond anything I could have imagined ahead of time. There is a sense of great satisfaction today for having endured what I had to go through to get here. Before my insecurity caused me always need to ‘be with someone’. The loneliness I endured in the recent past to become accustomed to being alone was the single most difficult thing I have ever faced. Today I have a whole heart and a calm soul that is comfortable in this body. Without hesitation I embrace life and am grateful for all its possibilities.

You can be the most beautiful person in the world
and everybody sees light and rainbows when they look at you,
but if you yourself don’t know it, all of that doesn’t even matter.
Every second that you spend on doubting your worth,
every moment that you use to criticize yourself;
is a second of your life wasted,
is a moment of your life thrown away.
It’s not like you have forever,
so don’t waste any of your seconds,
don’t throw even one of your moments away.
C. Joybell C.

Feeling Good

A person I met by chance who has become a dear friend over the last couple of years writes a blog fairly regularly. Her raw honesty is refreshing and with regularity I find a jewel of thought that sticks with me. Here’s one from last week:

What leaves you feeling bad, do less of. What leaves you feeling good, do more of. This one suggestion is all I really need to find my destiny, form loving relationships, achieve optimal health, and have the best life story in the bingo parlor during my golden years. And it isn’t hard to remember. Yet many clever people, including me turn repeatedly to the very things that ruin our health and happiness: artery-clogging junk food, alcoholic lovers, soul-crushing jobs, negative relationships. I believe all human beings—even politicians—are born with the capacity for suffering and joy for a reason: so that we can navigate the world. I try pausing before any action I take and recall how that action made me feel in the past. If I think through how each action leaves me feeling, I’ll find myself more and more able to choose those that add up to my best life.

When I read P.’s words I was taken by how true and simple her thoughts are. You’d think something so abundantly factual would be something we all get. But few do.

Dr. Tiny Jaentsch wrote, Honestly, think about it. What makes you feel good? What makes you happy? Is it a new pair of shoes or a mountain of ice-cream or that guy/girl you met the other day? How does it feel inside? What I discovered about myself is I’m very good at hiding. Hiding behind work, behind studying for the thousandth certificate, behind being busy. I ran away from being close to myself. It’s ugly and uncomfortable. You discover yourself step by step. The discoveries you make may be painful. That will pass. You are only allowed to see what you can manage. You cannot speed through and be done with. You have to be patient and brave expecting the unknown.

Today my gratitude is for being reminded what leaves you feeling bad, do less of. What leaves you feeling good, do more of. Thanks P., I needed that.

If you don’t feel it, flee from it.
Go where you are celebrated,
not merely tolerated.
Paul F. Davis

Five Good Things

The article below was exactly what I needed for the start of this Friday.  I hope it serves you well too!

Are you frustrated with your life, feeling stressed, and find many things just aren’t working? Would you like to find a way to make your life work better? If so, then read on because there is a simple adjustment you can make in your life to help things immediately begin to work better and feel better.

Start focusing on your happiness instead of the absence of it.

Now let me guess … this sounds too simplistic to you, doesn’t it? You’re probably wondering how focusing on your happiness is going to help fix things so they work better, right?

Yet the truth is, that’s exactly the fix that can have the most immediate impact on your life. Consider the following five ways in which by you focusing your thought and attention on what makes you happy — and making a point of looking for and acknowledging those things each day — you will begin to notice things working better in your life.

  1. You’ll be more attractive to others. As you place your focus and attention on what’s right and what’s working in your life, you immediately start to feel a little bit better. Because you feel better, you begin to behave and carry yourself differently. And that shift in how you carry yourself makes you much more attractive to others which means you’re going to start receiving more invitations, more opportunities and more things that are working well for you.
  2. Your relationships will work better. Because you are carrying yourself differently, you begin to come across as friendlier and you’ll find that you’re better able to listen because you’re not so preoccupied with what isn’t working. That’s going to result in healthier, deeper, more successful relationships with your family, you co-workers and your friends.
  3. Your job or business performance will improve. Your shift in focus carries benefits over to your overall work performance. You will find yourself thinking more clearly, more alert, and making better decisions.
  4. Your health will improve. Because you are feeling happier as you place your attention on what is working, a whole set of physiological changes start to occur. Your blood pressure lowers. Your blood flow improves. Your immune system starts working better. These all have a positive impact on the state of your health.
  5. You will start to have more flow. By law of attraction, you attract more of what you focus upon. Since you have repositioned your focus and attention on your happiness rather than your unhappiness, guess what happens? You get more of the things that are working better. And now you’ve got a positive spiral that you’ve started that is going to deliver more flow and positive momentum into your life going forward. And so begins a positive cycle of being inflow where things start to come more easily and frequently. Warren Wojnowski

“Every day is a good day.  Some are just better than others”.  For years now that has been my standard answer to the greeting question from others of “how are you doing?”.  And guess what: it has made a huge different.  I am grateful for the goodness a shift in perspective has brought!

Stress is nothing more
than a socially acceptable form
of mental illness.
Richard Carlson

Accomplishment Is Empowering

Over the last two years intentionally my wake up time has become earlier. I decided to take the most rested part of each day and keep it for myself. That has allowed me to write, workout, meditate and do other things I never seemed to be able to get to as consistently as I wanted. Going to bed a couple of hours of hours before what was my habit and getting up two hours earlier took some getting used to. The first six weeks it was very difficult and temporarily I gave up several times.

Conventional wisdom bantered about says it takes about a month to break a habit or instill a new one. Research indicates it takes longer. According to research about three years ago by Phillippa Lally and colleagues from the United Kingdom Cancer Research Health Behavior Research Centre it takes an average 66 days to form a new habit. Below Phillippa explains the key factors in creating and breaking habits and how we can help set up for ourselves new patterns of behavior.

What exactly takes 66 days?
In our study, we looked at how long it took people to reach a limit of self-reported automaticity for performing an initially new behavior (that is, performing an action automatically), and the average time (among those for whom our model was a good fit) was 66 days.

How do you define a habit?
Habits are behaviors which are performed automatically because they have been performed frequently in the past. This repetition creates a mental association between the situation (cue) and action (behavior) which means that when the cue is encountered the behavior is performed automatically. Automaticity has a number of components, one of which is lack of thought.

What are the key factors in breaking or gaining habits?
To create a habit you need to repeat the behavior in the same situation. It is important that something about the setting where you perform the behavior is consistent so that it can cue the behavior. If you choose a context cue, for example after lunch, we don’t think that it matters if you eat lunch at different times in the day. It is difficult to break any habit even when you are motivated to do so. If you are ambivalent about breaking it then you will be less likely to succeed.

What happens if we miss an opportunity to perform an action that will help us build a habit?
In our study we showed that missing one opportunity did not significantly impact the habit formation process, but people who were very inconsistent in performing the behavior did not succeed in making habits. We don’t have any evidence to suggest that men and women or young and old people acquire habits differently.

I am thankful for my new schedule and its benefits. I’m consistent at writing (have written this blog now daily for over 520 days in a row). From working out several days a week I’ve lost 12 pounds and about an inch and a half around my waist. The sense of personal pride and accomplishment is empowering.

We would accomplish many more things
if we did not think of them as impossible.
Vince Lombardi

A Common Search for the Good and the Beautiful

I have limited personal proof that what is below is in practice what makes for a good marriage. But the words feel perfectly true and seem to speak clearly of how it could be, should be.

Happiness in marriage is not something that just happens.
A good marriage must be created.
In the art of marriage the little things are the big things…
It is never being too old to hold hands.
It is remembering to say “I love you” at least once a day.
It is never going to sleep angry.
It is at no time taking the other for granted;
the courtship should not end with the honeymoon,
it should continue through all the years.
It is having a mutual sense of values and common objectives.
It is standing together facing the world.
It is forming a circle of love that gathers in the whole family.
It is doing things for each other, not in the attitude
of duty or sacrifice, but in the spirit of joy.
It is speaking words of appreciation
and demonstrating gratitude in thoughtful ways.
It is not looking for perfection in each other.
It is cultivating flexibility, patience,
understanding and a sense of humor.
It is having the capacity to forgive and forget.
It is giving each other an atmosphere in which each can grow.
It is finding room for the things of the spirit.
It is a common search for the good and the beautiful.
It is establishing a relationship in which the independence is equal,
dependence is mutual and the obligation is reciprocal.
It is not only marrying the right partner, it is being the right partner.
It is discovering what marriage can be, at its best.
“The Art of Marriage” by Wilferd A. Peterson originally published in 1962

The majority of my married years were spent wishing I wasn’t someone’s husband. It’s ironic that now being single for five years I sometimes wish that was not my status. Was I a good husband? Sort of, kinda, sometimes and ‘not’ with regularity. It’s a lesson that loneliness and lost love have taught well. Gratitude is strong within for that hard learned knowing.

The trouble is not that I am single
and likely to stay single,
but that I am lonely
and likely to stay lonely.
Charlotte Bronte

Do You Trust You?

Lack of self-trust can be the precursor of distrusting others. In an increasingly complex world, our ability to judge real or not real, scam or opportunity, credible or not credible, trust or no trust, is a twenty-first century necessity.  And it begins with self-trust.  Do you trust you?

Can you trust your motives, intentions, impulses, and judgment? Do you lie to yourself? Do you break promises you make to yourself? Can you count on you to deliver what you say you will? Are you in an authentic relationship with yourself? Do you trust your own judgment and the risks you take when giving trust?

Researchers have found that sharing physical traits with others creates a “perceived attitudinal similarity.” We expect people who are like us (e.g. gender, race, hair color, etc.) to be like us. So, if you break your word, you think that others will, too. If you over-promise and under-deliver, that’s what you’ll expect from others. But if you’re trustworthy, you tend to assume others are, too.

Yet, while we may see each other as alike, we’re very different. That’s why building trusting relationships at work requires self-trust.

Self-trust involves trusting your own intentions, motives and integrity. Self-trust includes reliance on self and confidence in self-actions. But it goes deeper. Self-trust is “the ability to trust oneself to trust wisely and authentically,” according to authors Robert Solomon and Fernando Flores. Self-trust is grounded in self-awareness, well-intentioned and consistent behavior, and commitments honored and fulfilled. You’re unlikely to be viewed by others as trustworthy, if you don’t view yourself that way. And you’re unlikely to view yourself that way, if you’re not that way.

Self-trust is a skill that fuels accountability. Self-trust grows when there is alignment between what you say and what you do, often referred to as behavioral integrity. Behavioral integrity is how you demonstrate your trustworthiness to yourself and to others. How’s yours? No alignment – no credibility. No credibility – no self-trust. No self-trust – no accountability. Self-trust is the basic tenet of accountability. When we hold ourselves accountable for our actions, decisions, choices, words, and behaviors we build self-trust. Building self-trust requires a mirror. It means there’s an self-initiated, account-giving relationship between who you say you are and who you are.

Self-trust is core to the most important relationship – the one with self. A practice of authentic self-trust offers a way to explore your possibilities, gifts, and passions. Self-trust grows the inner path. It aids the discovery of your life’s potential. As author Jack R. Gibb put it, “Trust creates the flow and gentles the mind-body-spirit. When I trust myself I am able to enter fully into the process of discovering and creating who I am. When I trust my own inner process I am able to become what I am meant to become. From an article in Psychology Today by Nan S. Russell

I am grateful to be able to say “yes, I trust myself”.  It took a long time but with pride I know it’s true.

Love all, trust a few.

Genuinely Open To Accept It

We must accept finite disappointment,
but never lose infinite hope.
Martin Luther King, Jr.

We all make plans, have dreams, and set goals. Will our plans materialize or end in complete failure? The only thing certain about life is uncertainty. So, our frail attempts may end in glorious victory or frustrating defeat. Such is the nature of life. We are destined to engage in a series of celebrations interspersed with a series of disappointments. Because of this, it is important to learn how to deal with disappointment. Martin Luther King, Jr. suggests one way of coping; mainly, by accepting it. After all, disappointment occurs in just one moment of time. And hope, or the understanding that future successes will follow, lightens its burden.

The word disappointment is made up of DIS and APPOINTMENT. DIS means separate, apart, or asunder. So, disappointment describes a feeling of dissatisfaction or anguish, which is experienced when we are torn apart from our expected appointment with fate. Yet, we don’t have to experience pain when things don’t go our way. The negativity surrounding disappointment exists not in the real world, but only in our mind. It is not the event, but our interpretation of it that causes pain.

Every time I take a walk with a friend named Will he always finds coins in the street and on the sidewalk. Mainly pennies, but sometimes nickels, dimes, and quarters. Hundreds of people walk by unaware of the change beneath their feet. So why is it that (he), who could use the extra money, always seems to find it? There’s no mysterious force at work here. Just common sense. Will finds the money because he’s looking for it! This is just a simple illustration of an important principle of life, which is WE FIND WHAT WE LOOK FOR. When things don’t go as I had hoped they would, is that bad? It is if I look for something bad. If I am slammed on the head by disappointment, is that good? Yes, it is, if I look for something good. We find what we look for.

You will not enjoy or win at cards if all you do is complain about the hand you’re dealt. Expect nothing more from life than what it offers and you will never be let down. Welcome the opportunities it provides by making the most of the cards you’re dealt. Also, don’t forget to feed your mind with positive thoughts by reading good books. Then make those thoughts your own by reflecting on them. When you understand them, you will fill your mind with light. Apply what you learn by practicing it.

Abandon childish demands and foolish expectations. Are you looking for the perfect mate? If you are, you’re sure to be disappointed. For only God is perfect. We mortals are imperfect. If you can accept that, you can eliminate much unnecessary misery from your life.
From “Dealing With Disappointment” by Chuck Gallozzi

My gratitude this morning is for stumbling across Mr. Gallozzi’s article I saved a good while back. It is a perfect kick-start for Monday. Amazing how what I need comes to me when I am genuinely open to accept it.

Acceptance of one’s life has nothing to do with resignation;
it does not mean running away from the struggle.
On the contrary, it means accepting it as it comes,
with all the handicaps of heredity, of suffering,
of psychological complexes and injustices.
Paul Tournier

That Wish Was Never Granted

Don’t fall in love. Rise with it.
Amit Abraham

It’s a terrible feeling when you first fall in love. Your mind gets completely taken over, you can’t function properly anymore. The world turns into a dream place, nothing seems real. you forget your keys, no one seems to be talking English and even if they are you don’t care as you can’t hear what they’re saying anyway, and it doesn’t matter since you’re not really there.

Things you cared about before don’t seem to matter anymore and things you didn’t think you cared about suddenly do. I must become a brilliant cook, I don’t want to waste time seeing my friends when I could be with him (her), I feel no sympathy for all those people in India killed by an earthquake last night; what is the matter with me? It’s a kind of hell, but you feel like you’re in heaven.

Even your body goes out of control; you can’t eat; you don’t sleep properly: your legs turn to jelly as you’re not sure where the floor is anymore. You have butterflies permanently, not only in your tummy but all over your body – your hands, your shoulders, your chest, your eyes; everything’s just a jangling mess of nerve endings tingling with fire. It makes you feel so alive and yet its like being suffocated. You don’t seem to be able to see or hear anything real anymore. Its like people are speaking to you through treacle.

And so you stay in your cozy place with him (her), the place that only you two understand. Occasionally you’re forced to come up for air by your biggest enemy, “Real Life”, so you do the minimum then head back down under your love blanket for more, knowing it’s uncomfortable but compulsory.

And then, once you think you’ve got him (her), the panic sets in. What if I blow it; say the wrong thing? What if he (she) meets someone better than me? Perhaps he (she) doesn’t feel the same; maybe this is all in my head and this is just a quick fling.  He (she) says he loves me; yes, well, we can all say words, can’t we? Perhaps he’s (she’s) just being polite.

Of course you do your best to keep all this to yourself, you don’t want him (her) to think you’re a neurotic nutcase, but now when he’s (she’s) away doing “Real Life”, it’s agony; your mind won’t leave you alone; it tortures you and examines your every moment spent together, pointing out how stupid you’ve been to allow yourself to get this carried away; how insane you are to imagine someone would feel like that about you. From “Birthday Girls” by Anabell Giles

Nothing I have experienced is as confusing and difficult, yet wonderfully inspiring as romantic love.  My maturity sinks to that of an inexperienced teenager when love is raining on me. I sweat, fumble and don’t know what to say, yet relish every uncomfortable moment.  My old heart is tattered and shows cracks where the broken parts have been put back together, but love is stronger than fear.  No matter how much I have at times wished to be unable to feel it any longer, I am deeply grateful that wish was never granted.  I am glad to know love.

Sweetheart, darling, dearest,
it was funny to think that these endearments,
which used to sound exceedingly sentimental in movies and books,
now held great importance, simple but true verbal affirmations
of how they felt for each other. They were words only the heart
could hear and understand, words that could impart
entire pentameter sonnets in their few, short syllables.
E. A. Bucchianeri

Five and Five

Remembering how good early childhood was brings fond memories. While there was much chaos and heartache to come, those were peaceful times that preceded. Birth to seven years old is recalled as a carefree and happy time. My mind and spirit were not yet crowded with remembrances of how difficult and painful life can be could be. Back as a small child most of my focus was on playing, eating and sleeping. What a life! I am grateful for the sweet and dear memories from when I “was little”.  Here’s five (sayings) and five (images) that I hope serve as meaningful memory joggers for you as I found them to be.

I want to be in fifth grade again. Now, that is a deep dark secret, almost as big as the other one. Fifth grade was easy — old enough to play outside without Mom, too young to go off the block. The perfect leash length. Laurie Halse Anderson

…when you’re a kid, everyone, all the world, encourages you to follow your dreams. But when you’re older, somehow they act offended if you even try. Ethan Hawke

I am convinced that most people do not grow up…We marry and dare to have children and call that growing up. I think what we do is mostly grow old. We carry accumulation of years in our bodies, and on our faces, but generally our real selves, the children inside, are innocent and shy as magnolias. Maya Angelou

Critics who treat ‘adult’ as a term of approval, instead of as a merely descriptive term, cannot be adult themselves. To be concerned about being grown up, to admire the grown up because it is grown up, to blush at the suspicion of being childish; these things are the marks of childhood and adolescence. And in childhood and adolescence they are, in moderation, healthy symptoms. Young things ought to want to grow. But to carry on into middle life or even into early manhood this concern about being adult is a mark of really arrested development. When I was ten, I read fairy tales in secret and would have been ashamed if I had been found doing so. Now that I am fifty I read them openly. When I became a man I put away childish things, including the fear of childishness and the desire to be very grown up. C.S. Lewis

I have found the best way to give advice to your children
is to find out what they want and then advise them to do it.
Harry S. Truman

Speak To Me Through Time

Seneca was a Roman statesman and philosopher during the reign of emperors that history holds as out of control and probably insane, like Caligula and Nero. I have wondered if the craziness he lived through and ultimately claimed his life, contributed to how wise Seneca was. Difficulty and pain has a way of being a good teacher and that seems evident in the thinking he left us, like this just below

True happiness is to enjoy the present,
without anxious dependence upon the future,
not to amuse ourselves with either hopes or fears
but to rest satisfied with what we have, which is sufficient,
for he that is so wants nothing.
The greatest blessings of mankind are within us and within our reach.
A wise man is content with his lot,
whatever it may be,
without wishing for what he has not.

Today is one of those days that simple and shortly expressed, but deep gratitude is what I needed to put here. The old philosophers such as Seneca (both the son who wrote what’s above or his father before him), Socrates, Epictetus, Plato, Aristotle, Epicurus and Confucius left wisdom behind I am still discovering and finding more truth within the longer I live. I give thanks for the great thinkers who speak to me through time and lend their wisdom now hundreds, even thousands years later.

Just an observation:
It is impossible to be both grateful and depressed.
Those with a grateful mindset tend to see the message in the mess.
And even though life may knock them down,
the grateful find reasons, if even small ones, to get up.
Steve Maraboli