Happy New Year Everyone! As we close the book on 2020 and begin to write a new story for 2021, I wanted to share a song and artist that has been very inspirational to me. Paul Weller has been a true artist for 5 decades now. He follows his own muse without regard to fame […]
“Our greatest weakness lies in giving up. The most certain way to succeed is always to try just one more time.” “Opportunity is missed by most people because it is dressed in overalls and looks like work.” “Many of life’s failures are people who did not realize how close they were to success when they […]
A fascinating aspect of our human existence is that despite what happens to us, in most cases life simply goes on. The world stops for no one regardless of the challenge or tragedy they are confronting. Of course, we all know how the journey ultimately ends but until that point we are forced to be resilient and navigate whatever twists and turns come our way. No matter how far you climb the ladder of life there will always be some things beyond your capacity to control. Sometimes all we can do is accept our circumstances and react in the best way we can.
I have always been a fan of Dr. Gordon Livingston and his four books: Too Soon Old, Too Late Smart; And Don’t Forget to Dance; How To Love; and The Thing You Think You Cannot Do. I highly recommend all of them. I often refer to each of these books for inspiration and guidance. Today, I thought I would share some excerpts from his first book to help launch the week on a positive and thoughtful note:
Sadly, my dad passed away this past weekend. He was 84 and lived a full life. Many times he commented to me that he couldn’t believe he lived this long. When he was a child, he told me, living to 65 seemed like a reasonable expectation. I am glad he beat his own expectations and gave us many more years to be with him. Dad came from a generation where you lived up to your responsibilities. He didn’t complain about it and believed that one of the most important things you could do was to teach your children was to become independent adults. He didn’t coddle us, but also did judge us too harshly. He was always there if needed.
I was talking to my son the other day about his schoolwork and some frustrations he was having. He is a good kid and is in all honors classes. I have noticed though, as the years go on, that school which was once relatively easy and fun for him has become much more of a chore. While not commenting on the varying degrees of teacher quality we have encountered along the way (which is troubling), I believe he is going through something we all go through in life. Rarely is our individual curve always upward sloping and everything comes easy for us. Sure, some people are seemingly blessed in certain aspects of life, but for the most part we all hit periods of frustration, disappointment, and/or low motivation. When you have a passion or care about something it is much easier to marshal the energy required to work through the rough patches. When it is something you have to do rather than want to do, it isn’t always so easy.
During the conversation with my son, we discussed four things that help you get through these difficult periods: Ability, Humility, Effort and Attitude:
Ralph Waldo Emerson is one of my favorite writers. It is hard to box him into any one style because he does it all so flawlessly. While he is sometimes not an easy read, the effort is always worth it. There are nuggets of wisdom embedded throughout his work and the more you read him, the more thoughtful insight you come away with. He has a way of making sense out of life that is hard to match by anyone else. Personally, I recommend everyone keep a copy of his complete essays and reference the individual topics based on their current life situation.
The following quotes are just a very small snippet of his wisdom:
“To laugh often and much; to win the respect of intelligent people and the affection of children…to leave the world a better place…to know even one life has breathed easier because you have lived. This is to have succeeded.”
“The ancestor of every action is a thought.”
“Thought is action in rehearsal.”
“Life consists in what a man is thinking of all day.”
“There are no days in life so memorable as those which vibrated to some stroke of the imagination.”
“Self-trust is the first secret of success.”
“No one can cheat you out of ultimate success but yourself.”
“He who is not everyday conquering some fear has not learned the secret of life.”
“Life is a succession of lessons, which must be lived to be understood.”
“Bad times have a scientific value. These are occasions a good learner would not miss.”
“No change of circumstances can repair a defect of character.”
“The invariable mark of wisdom is to see the miraculous in the common.”
“Often a certain abdication of prudence and foresight is an element of success.”
“Some pursue happiness – others create it.”
“Life is a progress, and not a station.”
“Nothing can bring you happiness but yourself.”
“For everything you have missed, you have gained something else, and for everything you gain, you lose something else.”
“Don’t be too timid and squeamish about your actions. All life is an experiment. The more experiments you make the better.”
“All life is an experiment.”
“Whatever course you decide upon, there is always someone to tell you that you are wrong. There are always difficulties arising which tempt you to believe that your critics are right. To map out a course of action and follow it to an end requires courage.”
I feel fortunate to have made it this far in life. Not everyone gets to have this much time. As we age it becomes more obvious that time is finite. I wish you well on your own journey and that the time you have left is well spent.
I’m very concerned about the artificial reality we are creating for kids today. Everyone gets a medal or award. Disappointment and/or adversity is to be avoided at all costs. We are also teaching our children that they are the center of the family universe and everything revolves around them: their needs, wants, etc. If we let them to think everything they do is exceptional, then ultimately nothing they do will be. We allow them to continually isolate themselves socially and retreat into the comfort of impersonal technological communication without the wisdom of understanding the dynamics of human and social interaction. We worship their youth but then push them to grow up quickly and act more mature than they actually are (or should be). It’s almost as if a whole generation of parents is trying to make up for perceived deficiencies from their own childhood. We are forgetting how to be parents, coaches and teachers and instead striving to become friends, cheerleaders and positive psychologists.
Whether we like it or not, “all things must pass.” Everything has a beginning and an end. As far as we know, nothing besides space is infinite. Youth, careers, relationships, roles, responsibilities, health, and ultimately life itself, all transition and ultimately conclude at some point.
Bottom line is that we all have assets and liabilities as individuals. There is a school of thought that given this we should focus just on what we are good at (leveraging the assets) and minimize everything else. I believe this mindset has the danger of being short-sighted and self-limiting. Too much of anything is never a good thing. The only way we evolve is through learning and experience. Personal growth happens with time as we stretch our perspectives and challenge individual conceits and preconceptions. If we narrowly focus our growth opportunities, we aren’t fully living. Weaknesses also exist and must be dealt with, not just circumvented or fortified with self protective behaviors. Adversity and challenge are a regular part of life and require some level of personal vulnerability if they are to be successfully navigated
Very few of us ever attain, what would be termed, sustained and lasting success. Instead, we bounce up and down (sometimes sideways) in search of the seemingly elusive goals of career success and personal happiness. In my experience, these two objectives are not mutually exclusive, but intertwined and critical to an individual’s sense of self worth and meaningfulness.
Is the current situation salvageable and if so what would it take? How much would you grow and learn personally and how much stronger would your bonds be in life if you were able to persevere and work it out? There are few worse emotions in life than remorse and regret. Chasing rainbows is a fool’s errand, but successfully navigating the emotional roller coaster of life is a real and self affirming activity.
There will be instances in any person’s life where they will run smack into their fears. It could be in either significant or insignificant matters, but in all cases the fear will be real to the person experiencing it. Overcoming fear takes courage and being courageous always build character.
Some people seem to handle just about anything life throws at them while others get beaten down by the smallest challenge. Why is this? Each and every day we get to make a choice. We get to decide what we focus on and our attitude about it. You can choose to focus on what is right with your life and use this as a launching pad to handle any ensuing difficulty OR you can obsess over what is not working and see a struggle around every corner.
What defines a life is how we deal with the unexpected. Adversity and challenge will rise up and confront us all, sometimes when we LEAST expect it. We will feel that we did everything right and still things didn’t work out. What then? Bad things do happen to good people.
Choosing to seek and have fun is a conscious choice. Rarely does it just happen. We all have moments of spontaneous joy we can remember, but this is the exception not the rule. I encourage you to make having fun a filter in your daily, weekly and monthly activities.
Everyone needs positive role models in their life and this experience shouldn’t end with childhood. As we go through our lives we will often stumble across unchartered territory. There will be times when there are no easy answers or doing the right thing won’t be as easy as it sounds. It is during moments like this we need to have something or someone to fall back on.
Not only does journaling provide you with an opportunity for daily reflection, it also serves as an outlet for your feelings about what is taking place in your life at any given time. Instead of keeping things “bottled up” inside, you now have a vehicle for emotional release (which is always the preferred alternative).
The goal of any society should be to secure the future of the next generation by providing them with the skills, talents and attitudes necessary for both survival and success. It is a certainty that every generation will have to deal with some level of uncertainty and challenge as they assume responsibility for their own destiny (and that of others).
In life most people quit before they reach the summit. They find themselves on the brink of achieving everything they’ve worked for but give up because they just don’t have the personal resolve to see it through. Achieving any significant level of success is usually hard work and often tests your physical and emotional capacities.