Good old days?

When we look at past pictures of ourselves, we may feel disappointed if it seems that we used to be better looking, more fit, or generally superior to today. But at the time those pictures were taken, we probably didn’t consider ourselves to be our most stellar incarnation.

You are likely a better, smarter, and more experienced version today than you were previously. Remember that today is one of the “good old days” we’ll look back on.

[I wrote a song about this called “Good Times Are Now”.]

Success and its most critical first step

Success is extremely personal. Each of us has ideas on what it looks like. The simplest definition is: getting, doing, or becoming what you hoped for. The most critical step then is to define that in a way that’s most meaningful to you.

As obvious as that sounds, it’s common for people to claim that their goal is to “lose weight”, when in reality they want to add muscle, or lose fat, or look great naked. If that’s what success means to you, own it.

I have an extraordinary before and after picture of a woman who went on an intense fitness and nutrition regimen. The change is hard to believe. Even harder to process is the fact that her weight is the same in both pictures. If success meant losing weight, she failed. But in fact, she had a personal goal to “look great in a bikini.”

What would happen if…

What would happen if you called a colleague and asked how you could help with what they’re working on? Or reached out to one person per day that you love and admire and told them so? Or let someone who’s struggling know that you’re in their corner?

Selfishly, you’ll be sparking your own joy. Unselfishly, you’re making the world a slightly better place.

The people and the problem

To be open-minded means to be curious and open to what might be true, especially when you’re exposed to ideas that don’t resonate with how you see the world. One wish that I have for humanity is that we learn better to respectfully disagree.

The only way to do that is to be able to honestly separate the people from the problems. YOU are not your thoughts or opinions, and the same holds true for everyone you’re in dialogue with.

Decision paralysis and the donkey

A donkey that’s hungry and thirsty stands at equal distance from hay a few feet to its left, and water to its right. Not being able to decide whether to eat or drink first, the donkey dies of hunger and thirst.

Death by indecision is an extreme analogy. But a reminder that you can have both when you see the bigger picture and plan properly. So many of us are fortunate enough to live in a world of “and” not “or”. Think it through but then commit to taking action. Don’t be an ass.

Happiness and your calendar

We don’t think of methodically managing our calendars as adding to our fulfilment. Isn’t it interesting though how we are quick to add necessary but obligatory things like doctor’s appointments and business meetings?

When we consider the few activities and people that bring us the most fulfillment, it’s a wonder that these don’t take up more space on our schedules.  Obligatory appointments are necessary.  But not scheduling time for deep work, creative time, relaxing time, connection with those close to us…just leaves these things up to fate.

If you think deeply about this, what we’re really saying is that it’s important to schedule all the things we must do, and then hope that there’s time left to do the things we love.

The importance of forgiveness

Some people have a hard time forgiving or letting go because doing so feels like letting the offender off the hook. But the reward for getting past your ego’s objection to forgiveness is emotional freedom.

Carrying a grudge is like carrying around poison and waiting to throw it. Carrying it doesn’t punish the guilty, and it doesn’t do you any good either.

Practicing what you preach

Ancient stoic practices help you walk the talk about things people tend to say, but perhaps not live up to:
 
– “I don’t care what people think” – Wear odd clothing in public that draws negative attention and reflect on how trivial it is to worry about what others think
– “I don’t do nice things to take credit” – Anonymously buy lunch for a stranger or the person behind you in line
– “Material things aren’t important” – Assign days where you don’t make purchases, overeat, wear nice clothes, or live in abundance, all the while asking yourself “is this the condition I so feared?”

“Practice” implies making it a habit.  We are what we do, not what we say we are.

High quality questions to help you get unstuck

  • What would be ideal? (I find this to be MUCH more informative than “what do you want?” or “what would make you happy?”)
  • What one thing can I let go of such that my level of stress will be significantly reduced? 
  • Can I convert this thought or belief from shame/fear to hope/compassion? 

What I learned about codependence

There are multiple books (and psychologists) that specialize in helping people with codependence. I’m hoping that my brief definition and summary of my personal lessons are of help to many others.

Briefly: to be codependent is to have an over-inflated sense of responsibility for others’ feelings. It’s the desire to meet others’ needs at the expense of your own.

As challenging as it is to embody these principles, here are a few things to internalize:
– When there’s a choice to honor your needs or others’ needs, choose your own.
– Putting yourself first is not selfish. It’s a radical act of self-love.
– You are not the antidote for how anyone else feels.