Category Archives: A VALUED LIFE

THE PASSIONATE LIFE

We must reflect upon our most compelling reasons to live with great passion! The more passionate we feel about our life, the more compelled we will be to act in accordance with our Purpose. Thus, our Purpose becomes synonymous with our passion. In fact, what other Purpose should we have than one that totally absorbs, involves and enthralls us? If we have any inkling of what truly motivates us, then that very motivation must, by definition, be inspiring and stimulating. There is really no other way to live. If our Purpose, our Vision, our Values and our Mission are not extremely motivating to us, then of what value are they?

Life is not meant to be mundane, ordinary nor boring. In order for it to be significant and meaningful, it must be relished and deeply savored. We cannot live on the sidelines unsure of our strongest convictions and desires. We have to believe so strongly in our Purpose that we literally live it in everything we do, from our life at home, to our work and to our community. When our Purpose is activated with passion, we will discover infinite opportunities to enjoy an intensely exciting life. Let’s think back to those moments when our Purpose seemed as if it was on-fire, when we had that burning desire to do something and nothing could get in our way. Did we not feel profoundly immersed in our own happiness? Were we not sensing the greatest joy ever in being alive?

The human brain has infinite capacity for this self-induced passion. It is a pinkish-gray, almond shaped organ weighing approximately 3-4 pounds. It consists of 100 billion neurons each capable of firing at a rate of about 80 times per second. There will never be any computer capable of producing the range of feelings, emotions and thought processes that we already possess – resting quietly between our ears. Within our brain’s structure are myriad receptors for opiates such as heroin, morphine and even marijuana. The incredible thing is that we already produce these chemicals (known as endorphins) naturally within our own bodies. We already know about the runner’s high or feats of strength from mothers lifting automobiles off of their children. These intense emotions are actually produced through our own will.

Imagine what life would be like if we could call forth these naturally passionate feelings whenever we wanted to? The fact is that self-induced euphoria is within our capacity to achieve whenever we desire these feelings. Ordinary people accomplish this every day of their lives by tuning into their own passionate attitudes toward life. They know how to achieve the fire-in-the-belly feelings by becoming fully engaged in their Purpose, their Values and their Mission in life. They literally become lost in their pursuit of what is most important to them. Nothing stands in their way as their passion fuels their brain with euphoric chemicals and intense nerve impulses. Their energy level soars, their actions are powerfully self-directed, and their passion for achievement is unstoppable!

Our passion is most always evident in our life’s work. As the late George Burns reminded us, I would rather be a failure doing something I love than be a success doing something I hate.  At some point, we have all felt this passion to succeed and accomplish something with our life. When we passionately pursue a career or a task that is vital to us, we are certain that our Purpose is at the root of our feelings and our actions. For in knowing our Purpose, we know exactly what it is that we will do with our lives. It is not difficult to observe those people who are passionately pursuing what they love. These people seem to possess a certain vitality and an ability to accomplish extraordinary achievements.

Imagine for a moment we are so excited about going to work that we actually arise from bed at 5:00 AM while a blinding snowstorm rages outside; we are humming the tune from Rocky while making a pot of coffee; then pound our chest and let go at the top of our lungs, I love my life! Not something we do every morning? Sound a little strange? While rare, there are people who actually think and act like this. They believe that anything is possible with the right attitude and the right effort.

And these people are not just motivational speakers. They are everyday people who are in touch with themselves and their Purpose. They make life happen because they have chosen to be self-directors of their own destiny. They have realized their highest sense of Self by developing a positive self-image and are continually in pursuit of happiness in everything they do. They are at the peak of the hierarchy of their human needs, continuously striving to reach Abraham Maslow’s concept of self-actualization.

As we challenge ourselves to discover and then act upon our highest needs, the more likely we are to also realize our own true Self. With Purpose we can loudly proclaim, I love my life! as we begin each day. Let’s suppose for a moment that we really do love our job, our family, our financial situation, our health, and our future. Suppose also that we love breathing, smelling, seeing, hearing, feeling and learning. Let’s assume that we think we are important, worthwhile and valuable to ourselves and to the world in which we live. We are self-confident and proud of our accomplishments. We believe that we are unstoppable in our quest. We know ourselves, what we want and expect to get what we want . . .and we believe that tomorrow will be an even better day.

Does this sound like a script for a Walt Disney, happy-ending movie? Perhaps, but this scenario is not as unrealistic as it may first appear. We actually can create that script for ourselves. It is purely a matter of holding self-beliefs and creating a powerful self-image based on a strong sense of Purpose. If, as we have repeatedly stated, Purpose is the meaning that we give to our life, then whatever meaning we choose will be the meaning that we live by.

If we choose our life to have little meaning, then that is exactly what we will receive. If we command a greater meaning for our lives, that belief will also make it so. William Shakespeare said, There is nothing good or bad, but thinking makes it so. Virtually every aspect of our lives can be controlled through our thought processes. Our attitude is paramount. We can become the person we wish through adopting a passionate attitude of great expectations.

YOUR ENCORE YEARS

 

TWO MORE DOGSIt’s Time to Rethink Retirement!

I was amused by a lady entering retirement who described the rest of her life as being on her next to last dog. In her mind, her life expectancy was measured by the time two more dogs would come into her life and then die.  I suppose she was thinking she had another 24 – 30 years left, still a long time to spend taking care of her next two dogs . . . but unfortunately, she had no other plans for making her encore years as fulfilling as possible.

Many baby boomers regard their “second adult life” with similar resignation.  Their best hope for this life stage is that things will automatically work out  –  maybe have time left to own a couple of dogs, play some golf and possibly volunteer at something meaningful.  However, after the day finally arrives their new reality soon becomes a much different experience.

Financial issues, caregiving for a parent, health limitations or a feeling of insignificance often takes center stage,  quickly crowding out what had been expected.  Also, changing social circles and the absence of daily routines from a work career soon leaves many retirees bored, frustrated and/or feeling that life has lost its purpose.

As a “retiree” myself, I can certainly relate to the realities of going from a fully engaged work life to one requiring me to transform to new ways of thinking and living.  Once the honeymoon period of no routines or responsibilities wore off, I quickly found myself searching for new retirement options.  Fortunately, I did discover my renewed purpose and I’m now living the dream that I didn’t think was possible.

In fact, the word “retirement”  should no longer belong in our vocabulary. And instead of our lives going “to the dogs,” let’s look forward to the most exciting, purposeful and rewarding years still to come.

 

STUCK IN A RUT?

Feeling uninspired . . . stuck in a rut . . . that your life seems to be going nowhere?

If that resonates with you, chances are  a.) You don’t really know what you want, or b.) It’s not important enough for you to do anything about it.

Let’s tackle the first point: You must know what you really want.  If you don’t have a clue, then you are saying you don’t value anything. However, few of us would admit to that.  If you value your life at all then there must be a few things that are very important to you. Values are your highest needs for self-fulfillment – your hopes, aspirations and expectations. Take some time to think about them and make a list. If you become emotional about them, then you are on the right track.

On the second point: Decide if it’s important enough to take action.  What you most value or aspire to will never happen unless you take the initiative to make it happen. This is such common sense it’s amazing how many of us don’t recognize this. Life owes us nothing. We have to take ownership of it or it will turn out no better than what we put into it.  it’s really your choice: either live it to the fullest or waste it away.

So why is it so easy to get sidetracked to doing what is most important? Why do we so often find ourselves stuck in the ditch with no way to get back out of it?  There are many reasons but here are some key ones to reflect upon and consider changing in your life:

  1. YOU DON’T HAVE A PLAN:  Once you decide what is most important and where you want to go, you need a roadmap to follow. Living in the present is good, but only after deciding what you want your “future-presents” to look and feel like. Create a path to follow and stay on it.
  2. YOU’RE STILL WAITING FOR TOMORROW:  Again, there is no time like the present. This is when things happen. Procrastination kills the spirit and derails motivation. If you say you will do something when the timing is right then you will never do it. There are always excuses but the bottom line is they will never get resolved to your satisfaction. If you wait for the perfect timing, then you will always be waiting – never doing.
  3. YOU LIKE BEING IN THE COMFORT ZONE: Taking action means change. And if you don’t like change then you will never move forward. You might feel that what you are giving up is a loss, but that is where you have growth and positive self-renewal. It may seem difficult at first to give up your comfort zone but once you move forward you will not miss what you left behind.
  4. YOU DON’T BELIEVE IN YOURSELF:  This is self-sabotage at the extreme. If you don’t believe that you have the right or the worthiness to design and live your own life, then someone else will do it for you. In fact, if you don’t believe in yourself no one else will either. Negative self-talk is a self-fulfilling prophecy. Having no confidence leads to failure, but a positive self-belief will lead to success. Whatever you say to yourself creates that reality. You are free to choose either so choose wisely.
  5. YOU HAVE THE WRONG INFLUENCES: Look around and see who is impacting or affecting your life.  Are you hanging out with the wrong people? Are they pulling you down or draining your life energy?  If your circle of friends has low expectations, you will subconsciously adopt their attitudes and beliefs. You must find better role models or consider a mentor that you respect. Most successful persons will state that modeling themselves after someone they really admired made all the difference in their own life achievements.
  6. YOU MISTAKE “BUSYNESS” FOR PRODUCTIVITY:  The proverbial treadmill requires effort but goes nowhere. In today’s fast-paced world, we deceive ourselves by working longer and harder but often find it leads to more stress and little else. When we only respond to our daily urgencies, we seldom find we did what was most important. Ask yourself if you’re just going in circles or are you spending quality time supporting what you most value. This is also the key to life balance – move away from meaningless activities and move toward those that are more rewarding.
  7. YOU’RE NOT RESPECTING YOURSELF:  Are you spending countless hours in front of a TV or at a computer monitor surfing the web or playing video games?  Are you ignoring sleep, exercise and healthy eating habits? Are you mindlessly going through the same daily routines without any regard to improving yourself? If so, you are disrespecting your talents, your mind and your potential. At some point, you will look in the mirror and not even recognize who you are. Decide now if you want to reach old age and regret the missed opportunities you could have made for yourself.
  8. YOU HAVE NO PASSION:  At some point, you must ask yourself what you are passionate about.  And once you discover your passion, you will know your purpose. Dig deep to discover what stirs your soul. Life is not meant to be lived on the sidelines so acknowledge what really lights your fire and begin to live it.  While you may have buried your passions deep inside you, they are still there. You are free to bring them forth again.   

Make today a new beginning. You don’t need to remain in the rut or feel resentful about how your life is going.  It’s all about the attitude you adopt and your willingness to make changes. Your only obstacle is your own mind. Think differently and you will begin to change your life.

THE HIGHER LIFE – 25 PRINCIPLES

Live Higher 11x14 jpgLife mastery is not difficult once we believe in its possibility and also desire to achieve it. Following are my top 25 principles for living a higher life and I hope you find them to be a helpful guide:

  1. Worry Less – Laugh More

  2. Sit Less – Move More

  3. Analyze Less – Feel More

  4. Text Less – Talk More

  5. Work Less – Volunteer More

  6. Complicate Less – Simplify More

  7. Rest Less – Sleep More

  8. Conceal Less – Discover More

  9. Discriminate Less – Understand More

  10. Complain Less – Appreciate More

  11. Consume Less – Give More

  12. Waste Less – Save More

  13. Think Less – Act More

  14. Abuse Less – Support More

  15. Eat Less – Taste More

  16. Critique Less – Love More

  17. Follow Less – Lead More

  18. Amuse Less – Learn More

  19. Blame Less – Value More

  20. Control Less – Flow More

  21. Doubt Less -Trust More

  22. Hesitate Less – Risk More

  23. Watch Less – Read More

  24. Resist Less – Accept More

  25. Plead Less – Pray More

DISCOVERING YOUR PASSION

Expressions-7 copyWhat are you passionate about?  Have you found it?  If not, quit thinking about it.  In fact, don’t even try to understand it.  Discovering your passion will not be revealed by logical analysis; it is only found through your heart – that moment when you feel totally lost in your own joy. Your passion becomes evident when you are most in tune with yourself,  when your heart pings with excitement and your inner voice is telling you it is okay to feel this way.

If you haven’t experienced this lately, you’re probably not listening to who you really are.  You are blocking your emotions by responding to outside influences or voices telling you how you should feel.  If you are forsaking your own opportunity for joy, you are conforming to these external expectations and not those that you created for yourself. Over time, you can literally forget what really makes you happy and what you are most passionate about.

So if you can’t remember when you last connected with your passion, it’s time to do some serious soul searching.  Life is meant to be lived passionately, not with a boring sameness day after day.  You should seek every opportunity to make your heart sing with the excitement of life itself. You only need to reflect upon and then recreate those moments when you were euphoric about something you did, felt, experienced or were engaged in.

You may need to return to your childhood to recall those moments. Or you can possibly remember a more recent situation where you felt totally absorbed in your own joy –  a hobby, book, movie, song or even a stimulating conversation.  It may have been something difficult where you felt the challenge of achievement. Perhaps it was assisting someone else that needed your help. It could be something that required your physical energy, creative spirit or even your quiet reflection observing a sunset.

If you listen to your heart, you will know what has stirred your passions in the past. And it’s your right to bring them back into your life again . . . whenever you choose and as often as you desire.  This is what a real life is all about.  Allow yourself  the freedom to enjoy it to the fullest.

 

 

 

WHAT FUTURE IS CALLING YOU?

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERATake a moment and survey your horizon. What is it telling you?  Is your future full of hope and promise or is it foreboding and worrisome?  Are you feeling optimistic about the rest of your life or does it look like a minefield of obstacles still facing you?

The fact is that your perception of the future will  most likely determine the outcome.  Having hope will project happiness . But if you approach it hopelessly you will find  happiness difficult to come by.  Dr. Richard P. Johnson refers to this as “the self-fulfilling prophecy principal.” If you have high expectations you will begin organizing and preparing yourself to make good things happen.  Conversely, if you dread what lies ahead you will not take any actions to change your future,  thus assuring the negative outcomes to follow.

Either set of self-beliefs will likely govern the results.  What you expect to happen probably will.  So spend some time thinking about the future and decide if it is calling you to be optimistic or pessimistic.  You have the freedom to choose between the two viewpoints.  You should choose wisely.

 

 

 

SEEK SATISFACTION BEFORE HAPPINESS

Life happiness is not the same as life satisfaction. While happiness is a desirable emotion it is temporal and fleeting, much like a light bulb that can be turned on and off as often as one chooses..

Life satisfaction, however, is a constant state of belief. Once the conditions for it are understood and accepted, life satisfaction (unlike happiness) is not dependent on one’s changing moods or circumstances. It would then follow that life satisfaction is a more worthy pursuit, that once achieved it would support more opportunities for life happiness.

So how does one bring this to the forefront of our set of self-beliefs? Life satisfaction is a conscious choice and emerges once we adopt the following attitudes and perceptions:

  • Accepting who we are rather than what others expect us to be.
  • Recognizing that life is good regardless of its difficulties and obstacles.
  • Acceptance of change as the natural order of our evolving life.
  • Maintaining faith in ourselves and the divine order of life.
  • Connecting with our authentic and genuine self.
  • Being aware of our unique and inherent purpose.
  • Being attentive and responsive to our core values.
  • Awakening to life’s grace and the beauty that surrounds us.
  • Manifesting our life meaning by sharing our talents and gifts with others.
  • Being confident that our life has great significance which we alone direct and control.
  • Living mindfully “in the now” rather than lamenting the past or worrying about the future.

Again, life happiness cannot exist without first having a broader feeling of life satisfaction.  By focusing on these conditions for life satisfaction while maintaining a positive outlook, we can then create infinite opportunities for life happiness. In other words, focus on life satisfaction first . . .  happiness will then follow.

 

 

 

 

 

EMBRACE YOUR VITALITY

According to Dr. Richard Johnson, the founder of Retirement Options, there are ten descriptors of retirees who live life with vitality:

1. Has a high self-regard: They seem to think favorable about themselves even in the face of trial and tribulation. They harbor an internal sense of “all rightness” at their core that appears undisturbed by outside pressures. Certainly they can become upset and irritable at times, but they regain composure rather quickly and emerge without damage to their self.

2. Value their physical health: They monitor their body and are aware of its needs. They are kind to their body in the sense that they don’t overtax it, they give it proper rest, grooming, exercise, medical attention, etc. They have realistic expectations about what is appropriate for them at their stage of life.

3. Have a high sense of personal worth: They see themselves as valuable; they recognize their accomplishments as successes, and can easily understand how useful their work is to the overall project. They enjoy a high sense of utility; they believe that what they are doing is worthwhile.

4. Have faith in themselves: They understand at deep levels that they are capable, resourceful, and enduring. They enjoy an appropriate sense of personal confidence, which is seldom, if ever, overstated. They seem to possess an aura of stability and security.

5. Expect success: They have a hard time believing in failure. What other people might call failure, they seem to recognize as just another learning experience. They expect good things to happen right from the outset of a project or task.

6. Enjoy productive and supportive relationships: Perhaps because of their internal confidence, they enjoy people. They don’t fear that they will be unfairly criticized, and if someone does become upset with them, they can handle the situation with appropriate social skill.

7. Take optimal care of their body: They like the feeling of knowing that they are doing what is necessary to keep the marvelous machine of their body in top running condition. They feed it correctly, get proper rest, maintain a regular exercise program, and perform other health maintenance and promotion activities, which allow them to perform maximally.

8. Engage in stress reduction techniques: Whether it’s regular exercise, mindfulness meditation, progressive muscle relaxation, a power nap, prayer, soothing music, appropriate “self-talk,” or any of a number of other stress reduction techniques; they know several and use them regularly.

9. Take good care of all their gifts: They know their gifts and talents as an individual, and maintain an active interest in the development and growth of their talents. They seem to appreciate what they have been given and are not particularly envious of the talents and gifts of others.

10. Make continuous adjustments to their attitudes and behaviors: They seem to know innately that their attitudes are the bedrock of their personality and that they need to keep on top of which ones need modification and in what ways these modifications can be made. Attitudes can become antiques, useful yesterday, but quite out of function today. Sometimes we neglect to trade-in our antique attitudes for newer, more functional models.

 

 

 

TO WHERE SHOULD I RETIRE?

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Knowing when to retire is a challenge in itself, but deciding where you want to live in your encore years can be equally perplexing.  One option is to stay right where you are (known as “aging in place”), but keep in mind your present home could become a financial burden in the distant future. Also, your current accommodations may need some structural changes if mobility ever becomes an issue.

Relocation always seems like an attractive option but this too will require some deep analysis. Are you wanting to be near your grandchildren, aging parents or your own children?  Or do you simply want to run away to the mountains, to warm beaches or even to an urban center with lots of cultural and entertainment choices. For some, a second home could prove to be a good interim choice allowing more time to check out the area before making the final leap.

Obviously, one size does not fit all – both financially and emotionally. It is imperative, however, that you and your spouse are on the same page and that you also have some discussions with friends and family before making any major decisions. Even the location and quality of medical services needs to be factored into the relocation equation.

Knowledge is king if you are seriously planning a move in retirement.  Fortunately, abundant information can be found on the websites of US News and World Report, Forbes, AARP, Kiplinger and Money Magazine.  They all provide reports covering  topics as diverse as:  Bargain Places to Live, Best Places for Military Vets, Best Towns for Wine Lovers, Places with the Youngest & Oldest Populations, Terrific Towns for Second Careers,  Sunniest Places to Retire, Most Affordable Mountain Towns, etc.  Again, doing your homework beforehand will make a huge difference in choosing the place that ideally matches your real needs and desires.

If you become stuck on this issue, please contact me to explore your options in more detail. As a retirement specialist, I have a plethora of information and data resources for you to consider.  My probing questions and helpful exercises will be very beneficial, giving you the clarity you need before making this important decision.

 

 

 

HAVING NO REGRETS

I think most of us can recall FDR’s famous quote “The only thing we have to fear is fear itself.” But his less well known quote is “The only limit to our realization of tomorrow will be our doubts of today.”

This resonates with me because coaching new retirees always involves hearing about their “doubts of today.” And sadly, these fears and uncertainties will often lead to their “regrets of tomorrow.” If, however,  they could overcome their present doubts they would likely find their future lives to be much more fulfilled.

Most of us would agree that at the end of our life we’d like to go back and re-do a few things that could have been changed – maybe spend less time at the office to make more time for ourselves and our families, taken our studies more seriously, made better career choices, etc.

And while these are important considerations, these are not the main reflections of those at the end of their lives. According to palliative expert Bonnie Ware, the top five regrets of the dying are:

1. I wish I’d lived a life true to myself,  not the life others expected of me.

2. I wish I didn’t work so hard.

3. I wish I’d had the courage to express my feelings.

4. I wish I’d stayed in touch with my friends.

5. I wish I had let myself be happier.

And I’d like to add that Nadine Stair on her 84th birthday said, “I wish I had waded in more mud puddles”.

Living with no regrets places the responsibility upon us, not just to decide what we want out of life but to then go and live it. Since we have a finite timetable for life, why not decide today what risks we are willing to take and then begin the process of taking them. Why not reframe our current fears and self-doubts into a more positive and optimistic outlook for the future.

So will we answer this question for ourselves, or will we let others answer it for us? Will we act out of fear or out of courage? If we decide to go for it, what will It be? What do we want the rest of our life to look and feel like?

Now would be a good time to answer these questions.  The choice is ours . . . to be able to look back one day at our life without any regrets at all!

THE NEW RETIREMENT

CertifiedRetirementCoach_Logo72DPI - GIFAccording to Dr. Richard Johnson, the leading authority on retirement options, “the “new retirement” is not an ending, it’s a new beginning, the start of a new life of vastly expanded proportions.”

Unfortunately, a large number of the 10,000 baby boomers turning 65 each day still view retirement as the end of their personal growth.  They may then find their remaining years drifting into boredom, low self-esteem, limited social interactions, and a feeling of lost purpose.

However, there is an equally large number of baby boomers who sense this is the best time to live their dream, to make new self-directed choices to grow, prosper and make significant contributions to society.  In essence, they will choose to finally live their purpose.

Which group you will fall in depends on your attitude, your pre-retirement preparations and your perceptions of future opportunities. Your retirement success is within your own control but it will take some deep introspections and self-awareness training.

A certified retirement coach can provide you the detailed assessment of the factors that will shape your retirement satisfaction.  This coach will help you discover your options for life fulfillment in your encore years.  Since your “second adult life” could last 30-40 years, working with a certified retirement coach today would be time well spent.

Contact me today to learn more . . .

 

DESIGN YOUR OWN LIFE

Time Out jpg

Most of us avoid the task of life planning because we feel that it is  not in our control, that our environment has more control over us than we have over it. Or we feel that it may involve risks, risks that could lead to disappointment or failure. Or we’d rather not ask the tough questions because we don’t welcome a forced analysis of our lives.

No doubt, this is a difficult process. But unfortunately, if we don’t plan to live our own life, then somebody else or our external environment will do it for us. We should ask ourselves if our life is something we want to give up so easily. We must revere the sanctity of our life and vigorously protect the right to plan our future as we choose.

Life is not a dress rehearsal. It will go on, with or without us. We do have the choice to make it as meaningful and as purposeful as we choose it to be. Planning our lives and then living our lives according to that plan should not be an option. We really have no other choice if we want to realize the life that we deserve and expect.  Let’s take some time to make that happen.

 

CREATING A NEW REALITY

Expressions-11All of life transformation and self-renewal is embodied in the process of relieving the tension between the reality we have now and the reality we aspire to. For instance, if we are overweight, we feel the tension between our current self-image and a projected self-image. If we are not happy in our job or career, our anxiety tells us that something needs to be done about it. If we are feeling tired and physically unfit, we sense the need to exercise, sleep more and improve our diet.

In virtually every aspect of our lives, there is a perceived gap between where we are and where we want to be. This gap is a void we must fill to make life more significant and meaningful. If we let the gap widen, we feel more tension and frustration. By not attempting to close the gap, we are passively allowing life to happen to us. But by taking action to bridge the realities of what we have versus what we want, we are taking charge and making life happen.

This process of closing the gap brings our behavior in alignment with our purpose and our values. By knowing what we are here for and what is most important to us we gain clarity of our current reality. We can see exactly what is missing, what expectations are not being met, and we will become compelled to take action and redraft our future reality. We can then literally make our life what we want it to be!

ATTAINING INNER PEACE

Hugging the CoastOur objective should not be to eliminate all unhappiness but rather to balance it with increased opportunity for joy. Buddha may have reminded us, A hundred loves, a hundred losses. No loves, no losses, but are we prepared to abandon the potential for love because we fear the potential for loss?

Would there be any value in giving up our rights to search for a single sliver of happiness because we must first dig through a mountain of sadness to locate it? For that matter, would we not search for truth because it is hidden among deceit? Or would we not seek honor because we feel that it is surrounded by contempt? Or not seek courage because it is covered with cowardice? Or not seek morality because it is shrouded within an immoral society?

Happiness is ours to discover despite the deterrents that stand in our way; it is our human right to be elated despite a world that flagrantly flaunts its despairing side. Our purpose, therefore, is to strive toward a sense of internal peace within ourselves.

This does not mean that we will live in perfect contentment but rather we will be contented with ourselves. The difference is that the former implies an unrealistic, stress free state of consciousness while the latter implies that we are in conscious control of our state of gratification.

We will feel it is possible to rise above the vagaries of unhappiness that may surround us. We will resist the feeling of being dragged into a maelstrom of discontentment because we will see ourselves as the calm center of the storm. And our joy will abound through our sense of calm purpose being recognized and lived through our daily actions.  Inner peace then becomes our right and our choice.

KEEP IT SIMPLE

No Cares jpgFor some baffling reason, we have gotten caught up in an insatiable need for more stuff – from clothes, cars, houses, electronic gadgets, toys, furniture and fixtures to new hairdos, pedicures and tummy tucks. We want to possess everything imaginable and never seem to be content anymore with the basics. According to comedian George Carlin, we even need to own stuff to put our stuff into. We like to take our stuff with us wherever we go, and when we get there we have to buy more stuff so we can take it home to be with other stuff!

Our fascination with stuff, however, is not the problem. It is the lifestyle that we must pursue to acquire, maintain and manage our stuff.  All of this stuff is the antithesis to a sane, balanced and purposeful life. While we tend to believe that our happiness emanates from our possessions it is, in fact, these same possessions that become the bane and curse to a joyful and meaningful life. According to Elaine St. James, Wise men and women in every major culture throughout history have found that the secret to happiness is not in getting more but in wanting less. Only when we make it our purpose to not make stuff the measure of our contentment, will we truly understand how simply beautiful (and beautifully simple) life can be lived.

A HIGHER PERSPECTIVE

Orange Sunset jpg

We often don’t appreciate the quality and value of our lives because our vision is too limited or even blocked.  To see our real possibilities we must see it from a new viewpoint, much like Robin Williams offered his students in the movie, The Dead Poets Society. When he asked all of the students to get up and stand on their desks, they came to realize that their previous views had changed, that everything looked different from their higher perspective. In order for us to transform to lives of greater significance, we must change our point of view, to see our lives from a different and higher perspective.

LIVE IN THE NOW

Purpose Image 4Future time is really no more valuable to our happiness and success than is our Past time, since Future time exists only in our minds, hopes and dreams. Like Past time, Future time is not even occurring in our lives; these times are either coming or they’ve already went, but they’re not happening right now which is where our lives are – Right Now! Kay Lyons said it best, Yesterday is a canceled check; Tomorrow is only a promissory note; today is the only cash you have – so spend it wisely.  This means that there is only one time that is relevant to our happiness and fulfillment of a meaningful life – The Present!

BELIEVE IN YOURSELF

Purpose Image 1We need to trust and believe in ourselves. As our actions are dictated by our thoughts, we must diligently and relentlessly pursue a positive, can-do attitude. If we find ourselves accepting anything less, we are holding nobody back but ourselves. To sustain positive self-beliefs, we should only use affirmative, action statements in describing ourselves: I AM ENERGETIC! I AM POWERFUL! I AM A GENIUS! I AM SUCCESSFUL! I AM UNSTOPPABLE!  We should never let negative verbiage enter our self-vocabulary when we can just as easily use more assertive words to define who we are. It is a waste of time for us to not believe in ourselves. If we are not going for more in life, then we will always be going for less. For us to get what we want from life, we must first want it; then we must go for it. In fact, we should never say that we want something and not go for it.

AN ALARMING PREDICTION

Our world society is heading down a very dangerous path at an alarming speed. As a collective people, we are rapidly losing the essence of collective Purpose. If each of us live without Purpose, we all live without Purpose, suffering the consequences together.  Perhaps we are approaching the end of human history. If we are indeed a post-industrial, cyber-techno society where crass commercialism and personal gratification exceed our desire to love, share and live with greater Purpose, then we will receive what we have asked for: the finalization of our right to exist as a human race. This is a harsh indictment of ourselves and an unpleasant proposition to consider but the evidence of this possibility surrounds us.

We are now living in a world dominated by greed, instant gratification, and weak cultural values. We are losing our ability to live with moral consciousness and belief in our Purpose and our Higher Self. We work ourselves to exhaustion, then have little more to show for our efforts than mounting debts and consumer products that are obsolete the next year. We educate our children; then lament their inability to reason, much less read. We have removed the front porches on our homes where we used to converse, moving inside to play with our electronic toys.

We are destroying our environment for profit and then complain that our fish have died, our beaches are gone and our parks are overcrowded. We embrace technology like a religion, then lose our jobs to the same machines that we created. We advance our scientific knowledge of ourselves while watching our inner cities decay. We sit mindlessly in front of true confession reality shows rather than read books or create art. We use video games to babysit our children, then complain that they won’t communicate with us. We spend more money on prisons than universities; then wonder why our crime rates escalate.

We have become a people of paradoxes, a people without Purpose. It is indisputable that our problems have not been solved through advances in technology, science, medicine or government. We still pursue inner peace and happiness, pursuits that still evade us despite our progress in human engineering. Nothing has really changed with all the changes made to our Selves and the world in which we live.

The reason is simple: We have forgotten how to love, give, share, or live for higher causes than ourselves. We simply do not have a Purpose that extends beyond our own needs for comfort and personal satisfaction. We are not willing to give up ourselves for something that is infinitely more important than our gratification for the moment. Our children are becoming our greatest victims, and the world they inherit may not be the world we intended or wished for them. We are wasting our Purpose and our cultural values for our expedient desires of today. We are running out of time.  But we have still time to change this.

LISTEN ONLY TO YOURSELF

Realizing our true potential involves self-knowledge, self-acceptance and self-guidance. As we gain greater awareness of ourselves and take positive, purposeful action we begin to validate our potential. This validation of our potential creates a success-reality for us that in turn will carry us toward higher achievements. The key is to convince our Selves of this possibility. Our failure to do this is usually because we are not convinced enough. We simply don’t believe that we can do it! Essentially, we fail to produce positive results due to the self-sabotage taking place in our sub-conscious minds. There are powerful mind-triggers that hold us back just as their equally powerful mind-triggers that tell us to go for it! We listen to our negative sub-consciousness because of imbedded commands that have been programmed into us, i.e. little voices that we have heard for many years from parents, teachers, spouses, bosses and even our best friends. We don’t receive nearly as much positive reinforcement from others as we get reasons why it can’t be done: We are told that we need more experience! We have never done it before! We don’t have enough education! We can’t afford it! We have to take care of this or that problem first! We should be content with who we are! We need to take care of other responsibilities! For some bizarre reason, people just don’t like to encourage us to succeed. But the far greater problem is that we tend to listen to them. And believe them!  If we listen only to our Self  we will eventually begin to believe what we are hearing.

HAPPINESS IS SIMPLE

There is rarely any need for us to concentrate on matters that take us off the various pathways to happiness. But invariably, we do stray! The principal reason is from the clutter that we accumulate in our minds from our complicated, covetous lifestyles. The effects of the material world that we live in are anaesthetizing to our real Purpose and pursuit of happiness. Matthew 16:26 warns us of the fate of losing our chief Purpose in living: For what has a man profited, if he shall gain the whole world, and lose his own soul?

The point is that we are literally losing our way in the world with our mindless attention to insignificant matters and materialism. For enduring happiness, we must let go of all of the extraneous pursuits of life that conflict with what is really important to us. If we could only learn to live with an austere attention to what is significant and abandon all that is the antithesis to a quality life, we could rediscover our sense of Purpose and our true sense of happiness. The indispensable key for each of us is to keep life focused and simple. As a collective society we have thus far failed to realize this, but we still maintain our individual right to do so . . . to march to a different drummer.

SEEING YOUR PURPOSE

Purpose Image 3

  • If we see hunger, our Purpose must be to find one family to feed.

  • If we see hatred, our Purpose must be to offer kindness. 

  • If we see greed, our Purpose must be to counsel. 

  • If we see ignorance, our Purpose must be to teach. 

  • If we see pain, our Purpose must be to comfort. 

  • If we see pollution, our Purpose must be to cleanse.

  • If we see sadness, our Purpose must be to cheer.

  • If we see loss of hope, our Purpose must be to encourage.

  • If we see helplessness, our Purpose must be to support.

  • If we see chaos, our Purpose must be to calm.

  • If we see deceit, our Purpose must be to inform.

  • If we see war, our Purpose must be to make peace.

     

SHARE YOUR PURPOSE

Sharing Your Purpose JPGIt is important to understand that our Purpose, while uniquely ours, is not fully manifested until we find cause to share it with others. We cannot find true meaning in life without connecting ourselves with something larger and more pervasive than we are.  Existing in isolation of the larger world will only turn us inward, while our Purpose needs outward expression to find its fulfillment. It is said that no man is an island because no one of us can find lasting peace and happiness through any other channel than participation in the greater world in which we live.

Our Purpose can find expression along two major pathways: First, giving of ourselves to others; and second, having a cause to live for. Our greatest opportunity to feel totally alive and significant is to share ourselves to the larger community, to have something meaningful to believe in and stand for. We celebrate our Purpose by discovering the many ways in which our life can significantly impact and improve the lives of others.  We will not have to look far for these opportunities. Likewise, if we possess a deep commitment to a cause, a crusade or a conviction that we hold fundamental to our Purpose, we will possess the most exciting, rewarding reasons to exist while ensuring great meaning for our life going forward.

We do not have to live in a world characterized by empty values, unabated greed, hatred and unintelligent gratification at the expense of our collective well being. Not unless that is our Purpose, and we must believe that should not be our Purpose. Our Purpose should center upon our caring for the world that our children will inherit. We can find great Purpose in giving of ourselves with selfless love. Ralph Waldo Emerson wrote, Love is everything. It is the key to life, and its influences are those that move the world. If we cannot accept the world as it is becoming, we can make it our Purpose to change it.

Through giving of ourselves to others and to a cause that we deeply believe in, we will find our Purpose. There are infinite opportunities to make our lives more Purposeful as we extend ourselves out to the world community. All anyone needs to do is just look around . . .

WHY HAVE A PURPOSE

Purpose provides us hope and inspiration.

Purpose gives us an intended, clear direction.

Purpose offers us promise for the future.

Purpose teaches us our values and goals.

Purpose provides us a daily roadmap to follow.

Purpose puts passion into our life.

Purpose gives us control of our destiny.

Purpose is the total source of our spirituality.

Purpose sustains our commitment to achieve.

Purpose creates our self-confidence and self-esteem.

Purpose provides meaning and significance to our life.

Purpose is the basis for our happiness and joy.

Purpose focuses our efforts and gives us perseverance.

Purpose creates productivity by managing time for us.

Purpose provides us balance and harmony.

Purpose is the source of our strength and inner peace.

WHAT IS THE VALUE OF MY LIFE?

When we think about the value of our life, we should think about all of our Values, both quantitatively and qualitatively. If we have any Values at all (and few of us would admit that we don’t), then we can measure the meaningfulness of our life by our specific expression of these Values. It would be ludicrous for us to claim that our life has no value and also claim to have certain wants and aspirations. If we desire anything at all, then our life has value.

The problem with those who feel that life has no value is their failure to realize what is really important to them. When we focus on what we do have, cherish or expect in life, we will immediately begin to recognize the value these things bring to our life. If we wallow in self-pity about our meaningless life, we are actually saying that we are too blind or stubborn to see what is right in front of us.

Thus, our inability to see the value of our life is due to our incorrectly focusing on what we don’t have rather than focusing on what we do have. Assuredly, problems will occur in our life that distracts us from what is most important. Events like a serious illness, a broken relationship or financial troubles will tend to command our attention and focus our thoughts in the negative areas of our life. But while these events may require a definite measure of our attention, they certainly don’t mean that the rest of our life went down the drain with them.

We have no right to say that our life has no value simply because we are getting a divorce, losing our job or even getting a terminal illness. While something of value may have been painfully lost, we must still focus on those redeeming Values that we do have.  We must recognize the full perspective of a valuable life, not concentrating only on the negative at the expense of the positive. Regardless of our setbacks, our life has tremendous value . . . as long as we accept and stay focused on the Values that belong to us and still cherish.

TAKING CONTROL

How can we do it all? The burden of modern civilization is that we are bombarded with choices, over laden with expectations, confounded by change and stymied by time. Alvin Toffler’s Future Shock has arrived and given us Imminent Shock. We are now faced with a world that is coming at us with blinding speed. We will often find it difficult to keep the balance within ourselves when our external world seems so chaotic and perpetually out-of-balance. But therein rests the secret: Keeping the balance within ourselves while everything around us appears to be out of control.

By focusing within, we gain clarity of Purpose. As turbulent as the outside world appears on the surface, we have the capacity to internally remain calm and balanced. Our Purpose, assisted by our Values, become our gyroscope and steadies us even as our landscape is continually moving.  By remaining attentive to what is most important to us, we can sort through the clutter in our lives and focus only upon that which really matters.

Many things will compete for our attention, but only the key priorities that are congruent with our Purpose and our Values need to be our concern, i.e. only those things that are important need to be managed and controlled. By recognizing this, we can set our own pace. And we can then control ourselves rather than allowing our external world to be in control of us.

WELCOMING CHANGE

Our personal growth is the process of transforming with change. As we receive Wake Up Calls at several points in our lives, we will see that our challenge will be to convert to new ways of thinking. Having a strong Purpose to propel us forward will smooth the bumps and ease the pain of the process.

So why do we dread these awakenings? Is it because we prefer our comfort zone, the life that conforms to our existing habits and allows us to take the path of least resistance? No doubt, it is difficult to let go of what we are comfortable with, but it is this process of letting go that allows us to experience and enjoy new parts of ourselves.

Without letting go, we remain in the rut. It is said that the only difference between a rut and a grave is the dimensions. And if we do not look above the edges of the rut, we will only see the walls of the grave that imprison us.

Therefore, managing change is the act of transforming by choice. This requires active decision making on our part, where we’re always seeking new solutions to our life. But if we welcome change the solutions will quickly follow.

OUR LIFE SPIRAL

Life Spiral

A strange paradox of life is that the more we attempt to perfect it, the more imperfect it seems to become. At first, this paradox would seem to imply that life is hopeless. But it is precisely this imperfection that makes it so interesting and promising. From birth to death, life is a continuum of change – an ongoing series of events, happenings, and transitions. We are born as a bundle of potentiality. We grow and learn. We face challenges and obstacles. We experience the good and the bad, hope and despair, happiness and sadness. We mature from these experiences and develop a much richer understanding of our Purpose in life.

Having a clear Purpose and faith in ourselves will help us navigate the twists and turns of life. Life is never going to move in a straight line. It will never be predictable at any point in time. It spirals continuously, from some place we have been to some place we are going. To keep pace with these constant transitions we must always be aware of our Purpose as we confront the challenges of change and self-renewal. We can manage the effect of life’s paradoxes by first recognizing and accepting their inevitability and then by making Purposeful choices to manage them. Since we have unlimited opportunities to do so we have an open invitation to make life more significant and worthwhile. The one thing we cannot do is stand still.

WHAT IS THE SIMPLE LIFE?

A simple life is where we are simply living! It is nothing more and nothing less. When we are in touch with just the simple process of living, relishing in the uncomplicated pleasures that are abundantly available to us, we will find the inner peace that we are seeking.

A simple life focuses on what we do have rather than being critical of what we don’t have. It finds less joy in material possessions and greater joy in natural wonders, hearty laughter, warm embraces, stimulating conversations and long walks in the woods. It values ideas over things, peaceful meditation over argumentative debates, reading over television, quiet solitude over pushy crowds and lasting trends over temporary fads.

The simple life favors giving more than receiving. It is to live humbly with pride, rather than ostentatiously without virtue. A simple life knows what is most important, content with the quiet conviction of lasting principals.

TOO MUCH STUFF

Chill OutOur fascination with stuff is not the problem. It is the lifestyle that we must pursue to acquire, maintain and manage our stuff.  All of this stuff is the antithesis to a sane, balanced and purposeful life. While we tend to believe that our happiness emanates from our possessions it is, in fact, these same possessions that become the bane and curse to a joyful and meaningful life.

According to Elaine St. James, Wise men and women in every major culture throughout history have found that the secret to happiness is not in getting more but in wanting less.

Only when we make it our Purpose to not make stuff the measure of our contentment, will we truly understand how simply beautiful (and beautifully simple) life can be lived.

Thinking and living simply is not a character flaw, a weakness of drive and ambition; rather, it is vigorous, inspiring, courageous and reflective of our conviction of Purpose. Life and happiness is not made from stuff; it is a state of mind, made from the interwoven fabric of purposeful attitudes and the belief that life, in itself and by itself, is sufficient and plentiful. Our most meaningful rewards in life will always be the simplest ones.

DESIDERATA

Expressions-12

The following quote from Max Ehrmann is probably the best self-help piece ever written. If we all lived our lives with the following words in mind, we would have no need for any other advice:

Go placidly amid the noise and the haste, and remember what peace there may be in silence. As far as possible, without surrender, be on good terms with all persons. Speak your truth quietly and clearly; and listen to others, even to the dull and ignorant; they too have their story. Avoid loud and aggressive persons; they are vexations to the spirit. If you compare yourself with others, you may become vain or bitter, for always there will be greater and lesser persons than yourself. Enjoy your achievements as well as your plans. Keep interested in your own career, however humble; it is a real possession in the changing fortunes of time. Exercise caution in your business affairs for the world is full of trickery. But let this not blind you to what virtue there is; many persons strive for high ideals, and everywhere life is full of heroism. Be yourself. Especially do not feign affection. Nor be cynical about love; for in the face of all aridity and disenchantment, it is as perennial as the grass. Take kindly the counsel of the years, gracefully surrendering the things of youth. Nurture strength of spirit to shield you in sudden misfortune. But do not distress yourself with dark imaginings. Many fears are born of fatigue and loneliness. Beyond a wholesome discipline, be gentle with yourself. You are a child of the universe no less than the trees and the stars; you have a right to be here. And whether or not it is clear to you, no doubt the universe is unfolding as it should. Therefore be at peace with God, whatever you conceive Him to be. And whatever your labors and aspirations, in the noisy confusion of life, keep peace in your soul. With all its sham, drudgery and broken dreams, it is still a beautiful world. Be cheerful. Strive to be happy.

Max Ehrmann

RUNNING ON EMPTY

Do you feel you are running through life like Forrest Gump? Simply running without knowing why you are running or to where you are running?  And running in a rat race that never seems to have a finish line?  Feeling like you are running on empty most of the day?

There is a simple reason for that: You are more preoccupied with doing life than living life. You are consumed with the Busyness of life rather than the Purpose of it. Maybe today would be a good time to stop focusing on Human Doing and instead focus on Human Being.