I can change me

One day, a man was walking down the street and saw a woman standing in front a brick building. She had her hands pressed against the bricks and was pushing with all of her might. She had beads of sweat dripping down her face.

“Excuse me, are you OK? May I ask what you are doing?” the man inquired.

“I don’t want this building here. I want it over there. It’s blocking the view from my apartment.”

The man wasn’t sure how to respond, so he wished her luck and continued on his way.

This woman sound a bit crazy right?

But consider this: she’s not crazy for wanting something different or for feeling disappointed about her crappy view. But she’s wasting her time and energy with her attempted “solution”.

Whenever I focus my energy on trying to change something that is NOT in my control, I am acting like that woman. (Ugh…that’s a hard pill to swallow.)

And, in fact, whenever I focus my energy on obsessively wishing something will change when that something is NOT in my control, I am acting like that woman.

The next day, the man is walking down the same street and sees the same woman in front of the same brick building. Only this time, she’s not standing and pushing against it, she is sitting cross-legged on the ground just staring at it.

“Ma’am, is everything OK? What are you doing?”, he asks again.

“I am just wishing this building wasn’t here. I don’t like it here. I want it over there. It’s blocking the view from my apartment.”

She wants something different – that’s fair. She feels disappointed – also fair. BUT, the longer she focuses her emotional energy on something that she can’t change, the more frustrated she will feel.

No amount of wanting or moping or complaining about the building is going to make it move. (But those things can sure be fun!)

I can’t change other people. I can’t change many situations and circumstances.

But I can change me.

God grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, the courage to change the things I can, and the wisdom to know the difference.

 

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We’ll see

I blame the invention of the microwave.
I can have a baked potato on my plate 56 minutes faster than my grandmother could.
So, is it really my fault that I’ve become impatient and short-sighted in life? I hardly think so.

When I am upset now…like today…in this moment, I don’t remember that yesterday was a good day as was the day before that and the day before that. When I face a problem today, I don’t recall the many times I have made it through similar challenges in the past.

Most days my default mood is a combination of happy/content (thank God for that!). But when I go through a period of discouragement or frustration, the current circumstance can swallow up my focus and shift my outlook. It’s like the theme song playing in the background of my life switches from “What a Wonderful World” to “Bridge Over Troubled Water”.

My hard day or hard week can start to feel like my hard life.

I. Lose. Perspective.

A few years ago I heard this simple but helpful fable…
A farmer and his son had a beloved stallion who helped the family earn a living.
One day, the horse ran away and their neighbours exclaimed, “Your horse ran away, what terrible luck!”
The farmer replied, “Maybe so, maybe not. We’ll see.”

A few days later, the horse returned home, leading a few wild mares back to the farm as well.  The neighbours shouted out, “Your horse has returned, and brought several horses home with him. What great luck!”
The farmer replied, “Maybe so, maybe not. We’ll see.”

Later that week, the farmer’s son was trying to break one of the mares and she threw him to the ground, breaking his leg.
The neighbours cried, “Your son broke his leg, what terrible luck!”
The farmer replied, “Maybe so, maybe not. We’ll see.”

A few weeks later, a group of thugs marched through town, recruiting all the able-bodied boys for their gang. They did not take the farmer’s son, still recovering from his injury.
The neighbours shouted, “Your boy is spared, what tremendous luck!”
The farmer replied, “Maybe so, maybe not. We’ll see.”

No event, circumstance or season of life can truly be judged as entirely good or bad, lucky or unlucky, fortunate or unfortunate. Only time will tell the whole story.

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Subtraction

Michelangelo said, “Inside every block of marble is the perfect statue; my job is to take away what is not that.”

This quote gives me pause. It shifts my perspective.

Maybe because I have over-filled my schedule at times in my life. I have added without subtracting — said yes more than no. I have wondered what ELSE I should be doing (in addition to what I am already doing) to get me where I want to go. And many of the “additions” have not been things that move me closer to my goals.

This quote reminds me that it’s important to decide what not to do. Because adding can distract me from what’s important. Adding can create more noise and busyness.

And time spent adding is time not spent carving.

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3:59.4

Everything is impossible until it’s possible.

Until May 6, 1954 running a mile in under four minutes was considered impossible. Runners had chased the goal seriously since at least 1886 but the elusive 4-minutes had always beaten them. It became commonly accepted that it was physically impossible.

But one windy day in England – May 6, 1954 – Roger Bannister did in fact break the “4-minute mile barrier”.  His time? 3:59.4.

But get this…what happened once the feat was no longer impossible? Forty six days later, John Landy broke the record with a time of 3:57.9 and within the next three years, sixteen other runners had broken the 4-minute mile barrier.

As it turns out, the 4-minute mile barrier was not a physical one, but a psychological one.

Everything is impossible until it’s possible.

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Mental blueprints and giant erasers

“Do you think that’s air you’re breathing now?”
This is definitely one of my favourite lines from the movie The Matrix! How often do we make assumptions and impose unnecessary limitations on ourselves?

Now, as you’re reading this, I doubt that you are plugged into a VR simulation. But do you think about the fact that at any given time you are living in at least four different realms at once?

The physical world
The mental world
The emotional world
The spiritual world

And what most of us don’t realize is that the physical realm is just a “printout” of the other three.

Let’s suppose you have just written a letter on your laptop. You hit the print key and ta-da…the letter comes out of your printer. You look at your hard copy, and lo and behold you find a typo. So you take out your trusty eraser and rub out the typo. Then you hit the print button again.

What the heck? The new copy has the same typo. How can this be? You just erased it!

So this time you get a BIGGER eraser and you try even harder and longer. You even study a three hundred page manual called Effective Erasing. Now you’ve got all the tools and knowledge you need. You’re ready. You hit print and…there it is AGAIN!

“No way!” you cry out, stunned. “What’s going on here? Am I in the twilight zone?”

What’s going on here is that the real problem cannot be changed in the “printout”, the physical world; it can only be changed in the “program”, the mental, emotional, and spiritual worlds.

Our thoughts, attitudes, and beliefs are the blueprints of our results. Your “outer world” is simply a reflection of your “inner world”.

Beliefs & Thoughts → Feelings → Actions → Results.

If you aren’t happy with your results in life, ask yourself, “What was I thinking?”
(but not in the judgmental, smack your forehead kind of way)

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(I borrowed this story from Secrets of the Millionaire Mind by T. Harv Eker)

Some really great stuff

“I hate quotations. Tell me what you know,” said Ralph Waldo Emerson. (See what I did there?)

I must say that I disagree with Mr. Emerson. I love quotations. Some inspire me, some challenge me, and some help me find the right words when I just can’t seem to find them on my own. Funnily enough I have often quoted Ralph Waldo Emerson himself. And why wouldn’t I? He said some really great stuff (but likely never used the phrase “great stuff” in his speaking or writing…which is kinda my point).

But I digress.

I want to share one of my favourite quotes from the first deaf-blind person to earn a bachelor of arts degree, Helen Keller. Helen is quoted as saying, “So much has been given to me, I have no time to ponder that which has been denied.”

Talk about a glass half full philosophy! No sight. No hearing. And yet no time to ponder that which has been denied. Amazing.

When I slip into self-pity or jealousy, I often recite Helen Keller’s quote to help me reframe – to remind myself of all that I have to be thankful for (it’s a long list).

What if we borrowed Helen’s lens on life? What would the impact be?

What would happen if we focused our time & energy on the things that we
DO have rather than focusing on those things we DON’T? (Things: our relationships, skills, passions, talents, accomplishments, resources etc.)

As humans, we are quick to see what’s not working in our lives…what we still need to work on….how far we have to go.

What is already “working” in your life?

What do you have? What has been “given to you” that you can be thankful for?

I sincerely hope that you discover, rediscover or remind yourself of all that you have, and all that you are.

And that your mind is filled with so many of these things…you would have no time to ponder that which has been denied.

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Failure can feel good

I had an interesting thought on the drive home from the gym the other day.I realized that I had experienced both success and failure in the same workout.

It was testing week at the gym and we were measuring our progress in both strength and cardio conditioning. This particular day we tested our 1 rep max for bench press and for back squats.

We did bench press first and I happily lifted 5 lbs more than the last time we tested (a few months ago). Hitting a  new personal best is a great feeling.  And, normally, I would stop there. I would take my success and “quit while I’m ahead or end on a high note”. This would increase my odds of setting a new PR the next time around (or so I have told myself).

 But this time, with some encouragement from my workout partner, and a recent decision to  try to “fail more often” I decided to keep going.
I couldn’t make the next lift. Half way up my arms stopping moving. I failed.

But oddly enough, I felt really good about it. Glad I had broken out of my normal pattern.

Instead of quitting when I hit a personal best, I went for it.

Who knew that failure could actually feel good?

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