How Do You Decide?

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Choices, choices and more choices surrounded by decisions, decisions, and more decisions amidst a complicated landscape of relationships. My mind is overwhelmed as my time is limited yet the thought of sharing and giving remains an innate part of my overall being. Thus, the desire to connect in some type of way (apparently I’m feeling some type of way) is continually vying for my attention and demanding I take action. All actions will result in reactions.

Therefore, how do I decide?

Relationships are a mutha; let alone our relationships with our kids, parents, siblings, friends, etc. Yet, our makeup as human beings relies heavily on our ability to create relationships and sustain them. When you think about it – it is a very selfish act. The intended result is to satisfy the bubbling need to connect which is within all of us. Of course, you are free to live a nomadic or reclusive life and rid yourself of any true human connection.

Most of us don’t want to be reclusive – or alone. Therefore, we find ways in which we connect through church, extracurricular activities, and other social functions. Upon connecting we develop and nurture a relationship with another individual hoping for great things to come. And ultimately we sustain a long lasting relationship in which we can look back over time and proudly reflect on the journey it took to achieve that pinnacle. I imagine a Gandhi like figure sitting atop the mountain overlooking a serene and beautiful valley while mind, body, and spirit are one with God.

But before I become so Gandhi-like, I still need to decide, make a choice; take action as it relates to engaging in a meaningful relationship.

So here’s where I become creative and design a process (I know, it’s so “business” talk).

  1. Be deliberate in my actions and desires. This method is very Neanderthal-like; I knock you on the head with my club, throw you over my shoulder, and wander off into the sunset heading for my cave. A bit outdated (and quite illegal) but the intended result is achieved.
  2. I sit back and wait for a line to form as women anticipate meeting me… (crickets, crickets) Yeah, this has a very low probability for success but nonetheless, it’s an option.
  3. I can always let the chips fall as they may. There is absolutely no control in this method and I leave it all to the “universe” to guide me. What happens if the universe says “No RELATIONSHIP for you!?” (In my Nazi Soup Kitchen voice.)
  4. I can devise a very scientific approach to understanding the landscape of choices and then act on those choices very methodically. Oh, wait, eHarmony and Match.com have the patent on this method.
  5. Pray my way into a relationship. Somehow, I see this as very similar to #3 above, but this “universe” is a true serving God. However, other complications can be debated with this method (religious beliefs, science, etc.)

Finally, as I sit back and think about these methods to become engaged in a relationship the fog clears from my head and I listen to the voice directing me – be still my child. I come to the realization that I can’t force the magic of a relationship but I should anticipate its ability to be present when I least expect it. During this time my focus becomes inward as I rid myself of the skeletons and complexities I’ve created to become a renewed man. This I can live with.

Go well and with love good peeps.

The Struggles within Our Black Boxes

Recently a friend of mine relayed to others about the black box we all possess – our brains. And the fact that this black box does not see the day of light, does not smell or hear sounds, and is reliant on the rest of our bodies to maintain our entire being – it controls all we do. The brain receives information from all of our senses and helps to interpret the cold and cruel world around us. So what happens when our minds cannot function properly because it is mired in confusion, depression, and sadness? It can drive us to tragedy.

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Who knows what’s going on inside our black box – no one, unless we are willing to share what is occurring. We all know of the struggles that might occur and we continue to turn a blind eye for those in need. Children might cry out in pain and we are quick to dismiss their feelings by saying “toughen up.” We make excuses about bad decisions and expect others to absorb these decisions without hesitation – this creates a backlog of pent-up aggression or depression.

Our minds are so powerful yet so vulnerable. An idle mind is the Devil’s playground as believed by those within the Christian faith.

And maybe it is.

And maybe an active mind is also the Devil’s playground – instilling terrible thoughts that lead us to a path of destruction. The inputs of broken marriages, promises, dreams, etc., contribute to the challenges we all face. And some individuals are better equipped to deal with these challenges compared to others.

“So why does that matter to me” you might ask?

It should matter – as a member of this planet.

It should matter as a human being. We should all take some responsibility to help assist others in need. We should work to recognize the subtle signals people in need might be telegraphing. We should act on these impulses to ensure others are afforded the same care and guidance we can possibly provide.

We should care for one another. Period.

I for one strive to do better, be better, act better, and provide better. Not because it gives me a first place in line at the pearly gates of Heaven but because it is the right thing to do.

I challenge all of you to do that which is right. I challenge you to live a life caring for one another. And I challenge each of you to reach out to others in need. In the long run it can only make this planet a better place to live and you never know who you might help.

Go well and with love good peeps.

National Institute of Mental Health 

Happiness is From Within

Yes it is – at least the starting point is from within.

We all hear this phrase. We all know this phrase. Presumably we all believe this statement. But the real challenge is creating that fire to ignite happiness so that it fills your soul and begins to burn brightly from within. Once it is burning it emanates on your outside for the entire world to see.

Then you don’t fret about hearing the phrase – happiness is from within – because you have obtained it.

There is no greater feeling than to be on top of the world. You will be looking down on your fellow human beings as you float among the clouds or stars. You look at them from your floating station wishing they could float with you. You breathe the clean air, you feel the warm sun, with a fresh gentle breeze whisking against your face as you glide through the pillows that were once clouds.

I remember this feeling from various moments in my life.

There was the day when I became a father. I had a son. I was on top of the world. Prayerfully I thought my legacy would live on and take this world by storm. This was a moment in time forever frozen in memory.

Then the day I became a father for the second time – but now I had a princess – a cute, wonderful, joyous baby girl. We would give her a name that accentuated who she was before we ever met her. Her name would have meaning just as my son’s; her name stands for “beautiful work of art.”

Or I would conjure up memories of my childhood when I ran the neighborhood with my childhood best friend. We would have innocent fun but careful not to bring out the wrath of our parents.

And there were my high school days with my BFF. He and I would talk for hours about life, all of life’s mysteries, and where we fit into the big picture while we lay on our backs looking up at the silvery stars.

These are those moments when I distinctly remember floating in air. I had achieved happiness. I wanted to bottle these moments and the emotions that came with them so I might retain them for future needs. Hide them in a safe haven awaiting their use for myself or others in need.

Therefore, my effort to regain my inner smile must then start from memories. If I can remember these times while facing storms I begin to have a sense of overcoming anything.

  • I can picture the faces of my children’s smiles as they run toward me when it is my turn to pick them up.
  • I almost feel my children’s little arms around me as they hug me tight before bedtime.
  • Periodically I will grab my phone and dial a friend – sometimes randomly – just to hear their voice on the other end.
  • Other moments I open up a book or read a blog [like this one] about a great story, one that connects with me at the right moment.

And then I share my thoughts with others hoping that I touch another soul searching for their own bit of happiness. And in the world in which I live we are all searching for it. And searching for it is not bad at all as long as you know the recipe on how to ignite the fire.

Go well and with love good peeps.

Do You Still Give Pause to 9-11?

A day that will remain embedded in our minds until we die. A day when you remember exactly what you were doing, who you were with, and how you felt as life changed forever. Those of us old enough to remember what it meant to never have been attacked on American soil prior to 9-11 can distinctly remember how our minds changed after the attack. We remember how we understood that life would never be the same and that we should not take our safety for granted.

Thus, on this day I always give pause – 13 years later. And even when I don’t want to acknowledge the day because of the horrible act bestowed upon us I can’t help but recognize the frozen moment of time in my heart and mind.

Therefore I do give pause – and thanks – and I appreciate that our nation came together under the circumstances.

As for me, I was in Aruba on vacation and it was starting out to be a lovely day. I was there with my fiance and another couple. We had just walked into the room as we saw in real time the second plane. It was surreal. Sadness and anger fell upon us as we knew we would be at war.

What followed afterwards was how the Americans in Aruba came together to provide support for one another. We were from different parts of the country, some with family members directly impacted and some not. But we came together. And that feeling alone was worth a 1000 memories. To be one.

Take a moment and pause if you will for the lives lost since that day. Take a moment and reflect on what we gave up that day in pursuit of peace. Take a moment and give thanks for every day that we can remember and are able to still live our lives. Take a moment and recognize how we are one as a community – a community of humans.

Go well and with love good peeps.

I No Longer Value Your Opinion

I’m sure we have all been there at some point in our lives. We all have had to deal with a person in whom we once thought highly of and later they mean nothing to us. A friend, a coworker, an ex, your parents, or maybe even your own children have fallen into this category. And something happened along the way and your mind began a slow transformation in where you no longer valued their opinion. I get it.

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A number of thought factors help influence this paradigm shift:

  1. Our minds might become clouded with animosity and resentment. We always hear the phrase “do not let resentment settle into your heart” but it is easier stated than practiced. Hatred and resentment do not go well with living a healthy life.
  2. Stupidity as a measure. It really bothers me, especially in discussing politics and religion where people are unable to have decent conversations about tough subjects. These subjects are very emotional and pull at the heartstrings of who we are, thus, making it difficult to see any other side of an argument. The word that comes to mind is closed-minded. Therefore, we are quickly apt to label folks as stupid. And trust me, I believe as you believe there are some stupid people in this world.
  3. Indifference is that kick-in-the-ass word that really hurts. It says, “I don’t give two-shits about you enough to even think about your well-being let alone your opinion.” It is the idea that the person you project this feeling upon is less than human and does not deserve to be valued, whatsoever. Kind of like an amoeba – you don’t recognize it is there.
  4. Hurt, pain, unforgiving all lead into this scary hole in which we feel less and less inclined to be thoughtful of another human being. If you hurt me, cause me pain, I might find myself in a situation where I am unable to forgive you. If this occurs you no longer have any value to me in my life.
  5. Distrust – too many times people might find themselves on the verge of being distrusted by others. You can lose your job because of your inability to follow through; your marriage might crumble because of broken promises or infidelity; or you may have no substance in your words therefore creating an empty shell of a human being. Whatever the case might be these things lead to broken trust and open the door to devaluing any words that might come out of your mouth (or the mouth of the person you distrust).

Is there nothing we can do about these things? To the contrary we have the power, truly, to overcome anything!

I’m not saying we can change stupid people or we can continue to trust untrustworthy people, I am only admitting the fact that we can look at how we view these individuals through our own lens. It is in the power of our minds to shift our thinking. It is a practice we should all employ. It is helpful in the long run to try to think about individuals we put into these categories in a different way. It won’t be the easiest task to accomplish but it will make sense in the end. And who knows, it might even encourage a positive transformation in others.

Go well and with love good peeps.