Category: Passion

31 Jan 2017

The Key to Lifelong Happiness

What motivates us?  I’ve studied human dynamics for several years and have narrowed it down to one simple answer, which is fear.  We’re all motivated by fear at varying levels.  Fear, or more importantly, our reaction to fear motivates our most basic and primal decisions.

I’ve decided that our perception of our fears that are both real and the ones we create in our imaginations and our reactions to those fears are what drives our internal happiness.  It’s hard to be happy and fearful at the same time.

When I was growing up, my mother always told me, “98% of what you fear never happens and there is nothing you could do about the 2% that occurs, so stop worrying about it.”  I don’t know if it was because I was so young and naive, but I took what my mom said to heart, and never became much of a worrier and simply chose not to lead a fearful life, and as result, I’m truly happy.

I once read a study conducted with people that were on their death beds.  The study focused on what they regretted most as they reflected on their lives.  Most regretted that they didn’t allow themselves to be happy.  They realized that happiness was a choice and that they should’ve chose to be happier more.  I believe we can choose to be happy by not being fearful about all the things that could go wrong.  What do I mean by this?

I remember in 1999, living in Colorado Springs, and reading and hearing about the potential affects Y2K would have on the computer systems and that many were predicting mass chaos as our computer network would implode.  Apparently, our computers were not equipped to change the calendar date to 2000.  People were in a panic.  Folks stocked up on canned goods, water, gas, and other supplies to ride out the pending doom that would hit our civilized world.  For me, I simply didn’t care and went about my life and remained happy and content that my world would still be intact on January 1st, 2000.  None of the doom and gloom that so many predicted in Y2K ever happened, it proved to be fear based nonsense.  Life went on, like it always had and society trucked along, as it had for centuries.

Don’t get me wrong, I lock my doors at night and ensure my home and family are secure.  I recognize there is evil in the world and there are some people that desire to do my family and my country harm.  I recognize that there are forces that desire to disrupt my world and I take the necessary precautions, I just don’t dwell on them or fear them.

Fear dominates our news and social media.  Family dinners are focused on the bad news of the world and the underlying fear that accompanies it.  I encourage you to not allow fear to steal your joy.  Former President Barrack Obama was not the antichrist and Donald Trump is not going to destroy the world as we know it.  We are a resilient and strong people with boundless energy, ingenuity, and hope that got us to the moon and back and we will continue to thrive and endure.

The issue is not will you encounter fear; the point is how will you react to it?  How are you reacting to it now?  You can’t control what you see on the news or read online, but you can certainly control what you do in your own world that you touch and influence every single day.

Approach life with the optimism that the sun will come up tomorrow and you control how you fill your days and what you allow into your mind and heart.  Yes, your taxes may go up, maybe the price of gas will rise, and maybe it will cost more to buy a gallon of milk, so what?  I can’t control that, and neither can you.  I vote for the people that I hope will make good decisions on my behalf, but I don’t wring my hands worrying about every decision made outside of my control.  Instead, I love my family, appreciate my life, and serve my Lord and do the best I can to add value to the world I touch and I let the rest play out and I make necessary adjustments as life comes my way.

I choose to be happy because I choose not to lead a fearful life.  How about you?  Are you allowing fear to control you?  Why?

27 Dec 2016

How Do You Prepare For 2017?

I woke up from an afternoon nap and strolled to the kitchen to grab a soda.  It’s a daily ritual I have, to kick-off the second half of my day.  My body craves the caffeine infused carbonated drink to get me going so I may have the energy and focus to accomplish a full load of tasks and work waiting for me down in my office.  I open the refrigerator and stare at the bright can of soda waiting for me to consume it.  I sense the saliva forming in my mouth in anticipation of the sugary liquid hitting my taste buds.  I feel a headache brewing within my skull, demanding that I satisfy it with a jolt of caffeine.  It’s in this moment that I realize it’s time to give up soda.

We get caught up in acquiring things.  We collect pictures, artifacts, friends, but mostly we collect habits.  We fill our lives with them.  We numb our brains with entertainment “shows” that we must consume, so we stream them over our favorite mobile device and sacrifice time better spent elsewhere.  We hang on to bad relationships and form horrible eating habits.  Our lives become overflowing with garbage that we allow to penetrate our souls.

I’m no different.  I just finished a two-month binge watch of the entire six seasons of Game of Thrones.  I drink coffee in the morning and a soda in the afternoon.  I enjoy eating at Wendy’s and love my pizza.  I make unhealthy choices and allow them to creep into my daily routine, but it’s moments like I had a few weeks ago that I recognize it and become faced with a decision.  What’s more important to me?  Comfort or long term health.

We take our health for granted, but it eventually catches up to us and always wins, when we continue to make poor choices.  If not managed, our health will decline.  When asked, most folks list health as one of their top three priorities in life, yet we continue to make unhealthy decisions.

I’ve learned that it’s unhealthy to fill our lives with junk, whether it’s too much TV, social media browsing, or poor eating habits.  The answer is clear, eliminate.  A healthy life is a simple life, and a simple life starts with eliminating the excess junk we’ve allowed to collect in our lives.  I’m not suggesting a purge, but start somewhere small, like eliminating soda from your diet.  Why is this important?  I eliminated soda, because I felt like I “had” to consume it.  My body needed it to function properly.  I became dependent on it, which was a red flag and an indicator that I needed to get rid of it.

As you begin to think about 2017 and how to get started, why not begin with your health?  If you got everything you wanted this year, but declined in health at the end of it, would you be satisfied?  Who cares if you’re doing well at work, but have high blood pressure, are stressed out, and generally unhappy with your life.  Identify something that’s become a habit for you and ask yourself a fundamental question, “Is this good or bad for my health?” or “How does this help me?” and if you cannot find a good answer, then maybe it’s time to eliminate it.

Just start with one thing for now and stick with it, no matter what!  Eliminate that one thing that is holding you back to better health and you will find that it will strengthen your resolve and will lead to stronger discipline that will allow you to tackle bigger issues down the road.

Eliminating soda was just a small part of my life, but a big decision that’s empowered me.  It’s given me hope that I can tackle bigger things that will strengthen my body, sharpen my mind, and protect my soul.  Soda has not touched my lips in over three weeks and I feel fantastic!  How about you?  What’s the one thing that you could eliminate going into 2017?  I’m excited for your future, now go eliminate something!

20 Dec 2016

What Does Christmas Mean, Really?

Christmas is a beautiful holiday.  I love everything about this time of year.  It’s a time of giving, reflection, love, family, and rest.  Most of all, it’s a time of hope.

Can you imagine life before Jesus?  I don’t think we ponder this question enough as Christians.  We take a lot for granted in our lives, but none more than the gift of the living Christ.  I would not characterize myself as overly spiritual, in fact, spirituality tends to bother me.  I believe Christians should spread the good news through actions more than words.  Live like Jesus and the message will resonate in this world.  But what does it truly mean to “live like Jesus?”

Life before Jesus was harsh and full of judgement.  Rules and tradition dominated the land.  God wiped out entire civilizations and the entire world when he flooded the earth as He pushed the reset button.  Then he sent Jesus, flesh and blood, to live among us, the ultimate reset button.

The world demands sacrifice.  Sacrifice is a part of life.  Everything has a cost and it must be paid daily.  Before Jesus, sacrificing innocent life through animals was the atonement for sin.  We cannot escape sin for it lives within us.  We are flawed by nature and must atone for the wrong we bring into the world through our actions.

Before Jesus, there was a clear pecking order in the world.  The world was deeply divided into “haves” and “have nots”.  If you were born a pauper, you stayed a pauper, and so did your children.  You remained with your people and dared not to intermingle with others that were not your kind.  You were stuck in your own little world that remained intolerant and small.

But then Jesus was born and He changed everything.  For thirty-three years, Jesus walked among us and preached a new gospel that continues to last thousands of years later.  He embraced everyone and taught us to do the same.  He broke the rules and encouraged us not to cling to our traditions, but to break them with love and compassion for one another.  He healed the sick and loved the sinners.  He elevated the weak and rebuked the intolerant.  He brought hope into the world, where there was none.

Jesus’s primary lesson came through his death, when he freely gave his life for us, the final sacrifice of innocent life so that we would never have to do it again.  Never would we have to bother with atonement filled with rules and regulations.  Jesus died for us, but then rose again, modeling what it truly means to be “born again” through the blood of Jesus.  Jesus was born so that we could have hope and now we celebrate that hope every year at Christmas.

When you give a gift to a loved one, it symbolizes the gift Jesus gave us, wrapped with His flesh and blood, and filled with hope and a clear path that leads to eternity with our Father in Heaven.  Every year Christmas reignites hope around the world as Christians gather to celebrate the birth of Jesus and remind ourselves the purpose of life itself.  Jesus was born to teach us the way to God and to sacrifice himself for us, the ultimate and most precious Christmas gift.

What does it mean to be a Christian and what does it mean to live like Jesus?  It’s simple, spread hope wherever you go.  Tip your waitress more than 20% next time.  Smile at a stranger and give them a nod as you allow them in front of you in line.  Love someone that the world has rejected.  Pay for a stranger’s meal.  Most of all, forgive someone that has wronged you and mend the relationship.

Enjoy your family this Christmas, reflect on your life, and celebrate and honor the birth of Jesus.  Ask yourself this fundamental question this holiday season, how am I spreading hope into this world and those around me?  Are you living like Jesus?

13 Dec 2016

What Is Your Passion?

My friend, Tim, recently shared a story of love and passion.  He recounted the memory when he decided to marry his girlfriend, Jen.  Just three months into the relationship, he knew immediately that she was the one and he could not imagine a future without her by his side.

 

Loaded with caffeine and fueled with the passion of young love, Tim jumped in his car and drove all night, just over 1,000 miles from Indiana to Colorado to meet with Jen’s father to ask for his permission to marry his daughter.

It was awesome to experience Tim tell the story, because I could hear the music in his voice and could see the twinkle in his eye as he remembered the feeling of gaining the approval of Jen’s father and starting the next chapter in his life.  He expressed the exhilaration he felt when he discovered the woman he would spend the rest of his life with on this earth.

I love Tim’s story, because it gives us a taste of the power of passion.  Nothing was going to come between Tim and his love, Jen.  Not a 2,000-mile roundtrip journey, the elements, or the weariness and long mind-numbing hours in the middle of nowhere along I-70 as he made his trek to Colorado.

I can imagine the emotions and thoughts running through Tim’s mind and heart as he drove 32 hours to Colorado and back.  I imagine Tim’s thoughts and soul were filled with joy and anticipation as he began his life with his soul-mate.  I wasn’t there with him on this journey, but I’m certain there was one thought that never entered his mind.  I guarantee he never experienced doubt.

A longtime friend called me to discuss his career and his future.  He shared his doubts about his chosen path and he wanted to get my thoughts.  “I can tell you one thing for certain, if you are experiencing doubt, then I know you’re not pursuing your true passion.”  I made that statement to my friend, because I know doubt and passion cannot coexist.

Logic has its place in our lives, but passion fuels our souls and elevates us to new heights.  Passion is what drives us to face fear and embark on paths that may seem impossible.  Without passion, there is no purpose, because passion is a necessary element in the foundation of our lives.

If you are living a life without passion, then you are living a life without purpose.  Purpose has three primary elements:  passion, faith, and personal skillsets or strengths.  All three must be present if we are to live a life of purpose, with passion being the fuel that keeps our dreams alive.

Life was not meant to be a grind, waiting for a set of conditions that allow us to retire and then hopefully enjoy whatever time we have left.  Life was meant to be an unbelievable experience, a gift that we unwrap everyday with anticipation, the same anticipation that Tim felt as he drove solo into the night towards the rest of his life.

If there is no passion in your life, or you’ve lost your passion that you once had in your life,  don’t be troubled, we all experience this.  Life is not easy and daily obstacles can overwhelm us, which is why we were meant to congregate and support one another.  This is the primary reason I write this blog on a weekly basis so that I may encourage others to keep going and to continue striving and reaching for what awaits around the corner on our journeys, even when it doesn’t make sense, because a life without a pursuit of something special and greater is no life at all.  We were meant to pursue our dreams.

What is your passion?  What inspires you to get up every morning?  Are you pursuing that fire deep within your heart and if not, what’s holding you back?

16 Aug 2016

There’s No Tragedy in Focus

I love the Olympics.  Every four years I’m thrilled to watch the world’s best athletes converge and compete at the highest level for the ultimate prize of being crowned Olympic champion and the right to be called “the best in the world.”

What fascinates me; however, is when an athlete falls short of winning a medal and misses the podium.  The announcers and fans sound disappointed and lament that a particular athlete spent his/her entire life preparing for that Olympic moment and will return home empty handed.  Their words and tone make it sound as if anything short of Olympic gold is utter failure, when that couldn’t be further from the truth.

I hear the word, “sacrifice”, a lot during the Olympics.  I heard one commentary about a particular gymnast and a laundry list of all the activities she missed while she trained to be the best in the world.  She missed school dances, ball games, and time with her friends.  I laughed at that statement, because I would say she didn’t miss anything, because she was pursuing something great and in that pursuit she discovered herself.  Life is about discovery and the path you take towards that discovery is less relevant than the discovery itself.

“Focus”, is a word we often hear connected with people of success and rightfully so, as focus is what it takes to be a success.  I recently discovered a fascinating statistic about people and their lives.  I learned that 90% of us will never do what we were born to do in life.  That is the true tragedy in life, not losing out on an Olympic medal after a lifetime of training and focus.  I would ask, who truly lost more?  Does the man that never takes a chance and settles on a life of mediocrity, and fails to discover his limitations or possibilities of his life lose more than the Olympian that places 4th in her event, giving it everything’s she got and learning what it takes to reach the pinnacle of her chosen discipline?  You chose.

Losing hurts, but failing to live within your purpose hurts a lot more.  I’ve seen the blank stares in people as they drone on with their lives, never fully living, and just experiencing life on the fringes.  Being focused on something you were meant to do, while turning away other opportunities is part of living and should never be viewed as tragic.

I’ve learned that being focused brings opportunity.  At this point in my life, I’m being forced to choose between “good” things and “great” things.  It feels good and also daunting.  I force myself to remain focused and remind myself what I was created to do.  I’m giving up things in my life so that I can remain aligned with what God created me to be in this world.  I’m not an Olympian, but I’m living my life on purpose and choose “focus” as my weapon of choice.  I choose to live on purpose.  How about you?