I believe there is an idea, a further notion within our beings, that this life isn't meant to be lived alone, independently, for one's self. However, we seem to be living in an interesting time in history where we are told to look after one's self before anyone else. Sidenote: in CPR training courses, if someone in need of help is still in immediate danger, you are not to help them until you know it is safe because, if you do run to their aid and get hurt in the process, then there will be two people in need of help instead of one. This of course is a rare occurrence for most of us. So my question is, what happens when the notion of looking after one's self first spills over into everyday situations?
I would not be able to count the number of times I have heard someone say to either me or someone else, "You need to do what's best for you, not anyone else."
Now, I understand this statement may be coming from a good place, and can in some cases even be helpful. However, is it true? Is it the way in which we should conduct ourselves on a daily basis?
I am told that we need to follow MY dreams, that I need to do what is best for ME, I need to look after MYSELF. But, if you think about it, none of us are alone, none of us are an island... our stories always include others. MY dreams, that which is best for ME and even looking after MYSELF doesn’t truly happen unless I have people WITH me.
At the Academy Awards, you don't hear speeches from Leonardo DiCaprio or Anne Hathaway that talk about how amazing they are and how they can't believe they won all by themselves, without anyone's help. At the Grammy's, you don't hear Taylor Swift or Katy Perry thank themselves for all the hard work they put in and how they are glad they didn't have any help to reach the status they have obtained and how the only reason they received this prestigious honor is because they only looked out for themselves and made it with no one's help. No. The speeches are filled with (begrudgingly annoying sometimes) an excessive amount of thanks to producers and directors, family and friends, managers and special assistants, co-stars and inspirations and on and on.
Without people surrounding us, pushing us in the direction we want to go, encouraging us to shoot for the stars, helping us gain connections and auditions, people who believe in us, we would not get anywhere. Connections and auditions don't have to be in the music or film industry. They could simply mean a reference for a job opening in a field someone really wants to work in. It does not have to mean it leads to fame and fortune, it just has to mean it leads in a direction that an individual wants to go.
All for one.
Because, theoretically, everyone around us is FOR us, we must be FOR everyone else.
Let's take this down to everyday life rather than dreams and aspirations...
If a co-worker needs time off because they want to see their family, you should step and help them instead of thinking, "Well, that is my only day off and I want to spend it how I want."
If a friend needs a ride to the airport, you should accept rather than thinking, "Well, they won't give me money for gas and it's way out of my way, so I'm not going to do it."
If a stranger comes up to you asking to jump their car, you should help rather than pretending you don't have jumper cables.
One for all.
There are too many times in my life that I have witnessed anyone from a good friend to a stranger, make excuses or think about themselves instead of extending a helping hand to others. In many cases, it is something they have done before many times in the past but the next time, they just don't want to because they aren't going to get anything out of it.
Too often we always want something for ourselves…
If I cover that shift, they better cover mine this weekend...
If I drive them to the airport, they better pay me for gas....
If I jump their car, I hope I at least get 10$ out of it...
Why is that our default thought process nowadays? That we better get something out of everything we do, and if we aren't somehow compensated for our time, money, or effort, then we will pass or never do it again.
Let’s change this mentality. It may be idealistic. It certainly won't be instantaneous. It definitely won't be easy. But, as most great minds have said, we must be the change we wish to see in the world. In order to change something, we must actively do it; not just hope and pray for change to come. The only way it will happen is for ONE to start living for ALL... and over time, the ALL will start living for ONE.
At the end of last week, I posted about the WHYs in our lives, the reasons behind what we choose to give our time to and if those relationships should be continued or should be revised.
Alongside the reasons WHY we do certain things, there lies the reasons why we do not do certain things: the WHY NOTs.
What are WHY NOTs? And what do they look like for you? I define WHY NOTs like this: they are the relationships we would like to enter into or spend more time doing.
Why do I not spend more time with this person or that group of people...?
Why do I not take more time to read...?
Why do I not draw, write, paint, create more often...?
Why do I not exercise more often...?
I believe there are two umbrella answers to these questions of WHY NOT:
"I don't have the time to give to ____________."
"I will do that tomorrow/next week/some day."
The important thing to remember with your WHY NOTs: it is not about having the time, but making the time. Actively using the time you already have and giving it to the relationships you desire. And giving the time to one thing requires either 1) taking your spare time and using it more efficiently or 2) taking time away from something else.
Utilizing spare time comes down to will. I curse myself, for knowing full well I have the time but not using it efficiently. Instead, I watch TV or play video games or waste it endlessly browsing social media for no good reason. Whether you want to admit it or not, we all have spare time, and it can be used differently than what we currently use it for.
Instead of watching TV for an hour at night, maybe you read that book you've wanted to read.
Instead of watching endless YouTube videos in the morning, maybe you can use that time to exercise.
Instead of coming up with an excuse to stay home, maybe you call that friend you would like to see more often and go out for breakfast or lunch.
I found myself asking, "Why do I not write more often? It is something of a passion of mine and I enjoy doing it. So WHY NOT write?" Despite what I thought was a busy schedule, I decided to do something about it. I carved out an hour a morning to dedicate to writing. I write three pages, nothing but my steam of consciousness. Whatever comes to my mind, I put on the page. This can be, "Well, I slept in this morning" to "I scaled the mountain until I reached its peak. Looking down on the small town of Breckenridge from the snow-packed oasis in the sky, I let out a deep breath and hopped off the edge, my snowboard edge carving into and propelling me down the icy mountain face." Just the act of putting pen to paper is writing, and these three pages were much more than what I had been writing which was zero pages.
Other times, in order to make time for one thing, you must take time away from something else.
You could move around your work schedule in order to attend MTL. In order to reconnect with an old friend, you might have to take away from spending time at home with your significant other or your family.
Over three years, I have consistently made the trip over to Keystone on Wednesday nights to spend time with a group of people fighting dragons and scouring dungeons--yes, playing Dungeons and Dragons. This year, with a schedule shift for a job change, I found myself not attending these sessions anymore because I would find myself so exhausted on Wednesdays from substitute teaching all day and coaching basketball after school. After two months, I found myself asking, "I enjoyed those nights. WHY NOT go more often? WHY do I substitute teach on Wednesdays and leave myself drained to not attend or enjoy Dungeons and Dragons?" I missed this connection with this group of people and the time spent together laughing and role-playing around the game table. So, I stopped substitute teaching on Wednesdays to create the time and space to once again attend these sessions and have that interaction with those people. Those personal connections are important to me and I needed to make my schedule work to continue those relationships.
In my example above, I found myself taking time out of the WHYs of my life (teaching and basketball) and giving them to a WHY NOT (Dungeons and Dragons). You may find that the reason you aren't doing something you want to do is because you are currently doing something you don't want to do. In going through this process of asking yourself WHY and WHY NOT, you may find the clarity and the courage to take time away from something in order to make time for something else.
In these two experiences, I found myself living a surface life where there was no passion but always a tomorrow. And I wanted to live more within my passions like there is no tomorrow.
More to Life has become a meeting place for people, a community of people who want and see there is more to life and how to tap into that MORE.
Every human--their person, their being-- contains depths to their self that may, across the timeline of an entire life, go undiscovered or ignored. We like to think we know ourselves better than anyone else. Sometimes, though, we may tell ourselves a story about who we aren't, or maybe of who we want to be but have not arrived there yet. But who you aren't, isn't intresting and in order to get to a place of who you want to be, you must accept and see yourself for who you are now. There is something about geting down to the nitty-gritty within ourselves that may uncover undesirable truths of who we are.
More to Life, for me, is a place to where I go to find encouragement and inspiration to open up myself and dive deep within. As much as engaging in community and connecting with one another is entirely important, it is just as important to connect with our own interiors. With so many social outlets and faces we can put on for certain people or groups, one way to get reacquainted with yourself is to ask the WHY.
Keep in mind, relationships don't always refer to people. Everything we choose to participate in--jobs, hobbies, or other commitments--requires time and energy and effort to be a part of. In other words, we enter into relationships with and through those things. I have found, very recently in fact, stepping back and looking at these aspects of my life and asking myself WHY gives me insight to who I am now.
Why do I do this...?
Is it for money...?
Is it for status...?
Is it for the love or the passion...?
Is it because of an outside pressure...? Because everyone/no one else is doing it...?
Is it because of pressure to not let someone down...?
There is no right or wrong answer to any of these questions...and these are only a few questions that I tend to ask myself when looking into the reasons I chose to enter into a relationship with/through something. But to know your why and to be blatantly honest with yourself is crucial. Recently, I have questioned some of the things in my life, some things that I used to enjoy but don't seem to anymore. Why did I enjoy them? Why does it seem I don't anymore? The interests and people you engage can either fill you up with joy and significance or tap you out of emotional and sometimes physical stamina. I realized the things in my life I have dedicated a lot of my time and effort and mental capacity are really things that don't fill me up anymore. In fact, they tap me out, so much so that it bleeds into other aspects of my life; things that I want to do, some I need to do, either go undone or the experience of them suffer tremendously.
When I intentionally consider my life, it has been fairly stagnant for the last couple years now. Same jobs and same experiences, just another calendar year in the books and I was comfortable with it and it never seemed to bother me. But as time goes on, times change, and we change. We are constantly BECOMING someone new every day. As we become and change, it's possible that our relationships should change too. I've now realized some of the things that I have a relationship with are no longer helping me. I'm doing them just out of commitment and for my livelihood.
So I asked myself WHY and some of the answers to my WHY were not easy to admit. When we ask ourselves WHY, we have to be ready for the difficult truth of some good reasons and not-so-good reasons as well...an inner voice of truth that we sometimes ignore in order to portray a more neatly packaged story.
It's important to know your good, bad and ugly WHYs. THey will certainly change and evolve over time--maybe next week, or next year, or years down the road. Knowing the full scope of your WHYs and embracing them will help you discover your true self, and know your depths, and live more connected to who it is you truly are.
I was talking with a friend recently about jobs and life... pretty normal stuff, or so at least I think. The conversation took all sorts of tangents, as conversations with me tend to do. : ) We connected on lots of levels and it was a really good time.
I did walk away with one main idea rolling around in my head and heart- lots of people don't really know what they are passionate about... lots of us don't really know what we even truly care about.
We certainly live and breathe in a privileged time even being able to ask questions about our passions... nevertheless, they are real questions that the majority of us are feeling more and more.
I've done some talks about prioritizing and simplifying. I've talked about chasing after your passions and what makes you feel alive. Now I am considering some talks about helping all of us discover those passions so that we can place them at the top of our priorities list. I hope that makes sense and gets you excited for some upcoming MTL gatherings.
My encouragement for you today is simply this- DO NOT LOSE HEART. You are not the only person trying to figure this sort of stuff out. Regardless of your age or stage, we all need to be intentional with how it is we live this gift of life. I believe that questions are a good thing that begin us down a path toward change and full life. Sometimes that path means embracing necessary endings... which are never easy. So again, DO NOT LOSE HEART! Rather, be open and honest about where it is you find yourself and the questions that linger... and let's dive into the difficult work of mystery and discovery to find that there really is MORE TO LIFE. : )
When looking at the year ahead, I get excited at the possibility and potential to live a better story… as long as I don’t get distracted. : )
SO many times I set out to be a better version of myself and lose sight of what that better version truly looks like. And before long, I am back to the same patterns and the same behaviors and no real growth seems to take place.
Can anyone relate?
So here’s what I am doing this year…
First, I’m taking inventory. Thinking back to 2017, I am literally writing down the people, the jobs, the hobbies, the events… I am writing down everything to which I gave myself… my head, my heart, my energy. Then, looking forward to 2018, I’m writing down any new things that I want to give myself to that didn’t make the list in 2017. By the end, I should have a pretty accurate list of all the stuff that could potentially fill my life based on the way I prioritize my time and energy.
Next, it’s time to reflect. I need to think about how much effort I put into everything… the level at which I engaged my head, heart and energy. Did I half-ass it? Did I B.A.M. it (did I offer only the “Bare-Ass-Minimum”)? Did I over-achieve? Once I’ve identified how I operated in 2017, I can reflect on how that all made me feel and appropriately ask the question, “What next?” Perhaps I want to kick up my intentionality a notch in certain areas because they really matter to me, and last year, my life’s actions and behaviors didn't reflect that. Maybe I have way too many things that I say “Yes” to and as a result, I end up B.A.M.ing more than I’d like… so I need to learn to say “No” to some things. I’ve found that I need to welcome more necessary endings so that I can begin to give more of myself to the things that really do matter to me. And then there’s also the chance that you might be the person who needs to take it down a notch in some areas. Perhaps you need to embrace the mantra, “it’s good enough.” My wife is a perfectionist and agrees that there are many categories that you can back off on because you are giving too much of yourself to them. It’s not just about identifying where you need to take it up a little. It’s also about discovering where you need to learn to accept the “good” work you’re doing and reserve going above and beyond for other areas.
Finally, highlight your top areas of change and transformation… and find a way to remind yourself about them. Zoom in on the specific areas that are different. Maybe they are new. Maybe they are significant changes. Maybe it’s simply the hardest area for you. You need to highlight those areas because they will most likely require more attention than others. Then you’ll need to remember them. Maybe you can share them with a friend or partner… someone you trust to help you stay the course... someone who can nudge you every now and then. Or maybe all you need to do is create some sort of list and keep it in your wallet or purse or put it on your phone. I have personally found that the things in my life that matter most to me don't have job descriptions. When I say I want to be a better dad to my boys, there is no clear outline handed to me that I can follow. We must create these pathways for ourselves. We need an idea, a picture, a vision of where we'd like to go so we can truly head in that direction... and then we need to be reminded of it.
Life can be pretty busy and full and distracting.
In the words of Ferris Bueller, “If you don’t stop and look around once in while, you could miss it.”
I encourage you to make the time to look back and to look forward.
Consider your life and what truly matters to you.
And be intentional to choose what to put your heart into this next year.
The New Year 2018 is your chance to decide what to B.A.M. and what not to B.A.M.
You’ve got this!
Last night I gave a talk titled “The Age of Anxiety” and it was SO GOOD! If you missed it, don’t worry… the recording will be rolling out by the middle of next week so be sure to look for the MTL Podcast on iTunes.
I wanted to mention two things from last night...
First, I mentioned that I am a huge fan of herbal supplements when it comes to anxiety. Afterwards, some people asked what I meant by what I said. Looking back, I can only imagine that everyone was wondering to what I was referring because of where I live... right? : ) So to be clear, this picture is what I take on a daily basis to help with my anxiety, and I feel it has really helped me. For more of my story, listen to The Age of Anxiety on iTunes.
Second, I can't stress enough using GOOD ingredients to cook up peace in your life. Finding healthy distractions as well as ways to care for yourself and reinforce the truth about who it is you are and to ground yourself in the present moment of reality. SO many times UNreality and irrational thinking can grab ahold of you. One of the GOOD ingredients I use is my past stories. I have them on hand and ready to go so I can remember all the times before when I made it through. Times when the worst case scenario did not happen even though I was so sure it would... AND times when it did happen, and I am still here. : )
Those stories give me strength...
they remind me that I am in the hands of God...
and that tomorrow will come.
Peace be with you today, this week and this month.
There's an ancient saying about charitable giving and acts of generosity that instructs us to give in such a way that our left hand doesn't know what our right hand is doing. In other words, "Shhhhhhhhhhhhhhh." Be quiet about your giving. Love quietly. : )
Can we support and come alongside of others when there is truly nothing in it for ourselves to gain... other than the GOOD vibes?
I recently read a top ten list of things we do nowadays that would seem totally absurd to people 50 years ago... like, calling someone and asking where they are (because they obviously would be at home, where their phone is, duh?)... or like, taking pictures of a meal (what a waste of film).
We live in a world of posting. Private things are more public, and the saying I mentioned above was about keeping some things quiet. So what if you don't even get a blog post, snap chat or picture from the gift you gave? What if it stays completely a secret?
I fully believe that there are times we should give and literally expect nothing in return. NOTHING.
I also believe that perspective seems pretty UNtrendy right now... and is MUCH needed.
So try to embrace being a little UNtrendy... give without any sort of recognition... resist taking a picture or posting anything... don't hijack GOODness for your own gain... and be known by your love for others without the hashtags, posts, tweets or pics.
Ready. Set . Go!
These posts offer further reflection on topics we tackle during MTL nights.