Regrets

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One of the unfortunate aspects of life is the feeling of regret.  Maybe unfortunate is the wrong term to use, but it is the first term that comes to mind.  The whole idea of regret is that one is sad or disappointed in either an action or a missed opportunity.

However, in the idea of balance and perspective, what is regret if not an absolute learning tool?  Yeah sure, it sucked that you were not able to go to the Taylor Swift concert that your daughter was begging you to take her too because you had to work late that day.  Yeah sure, it sucked that you were checking your phone in while driving and ended up swerving lanes, getting noticed by a cop, and getting a hefty ticket for it.  Yeah sure, it sucked that you decided to not ask for his/her number.

The examples above show the variety of breadth and depth of regret.  What they all have in common, however, is that they all show different levels of control and opportunity.

Let’s take the easy one first….getting his/her number.  Man, what a missed opportunity, right?  Well, maybe or maybe not.  The point is that to dwell on what could have been doesn’t actually solve anything.  Next time you have an opportunity for a number, might as well take it.  Doesn’t mean you have to use it, right?  Learning Achieved!

How about the checking phone while driving?  Sure, regretful.  However, in the grand scheme of things, getting out of that situation with just a ticket is a godsend.  We all know that scenario could have played out in a much more traumatic way.  Next time, put the phone down, ensure no trauma from a simple regretful action.  Learning Achieved!

Finally, the hard one.  Missing a concert.  What isn’t said in this example are the auxiliary details.  Was a promise made to the daughter?  Was the “working late” at work an emergency and unknown scenario?  Too many scenarios to choose from, right?  Well…maybe.  The devil’s in the details, so the point is to examine each detail and determine if a better choice could have been made.  It does not good to be regretful for things out of your control.  But you can make small incremental changes for the better.  Plus, there will always be more concerts to go to.

Examining how you are living your life is paramount to the success of living a happy life.  I’m not saying it’s easy to make changes.  We all know that it is not.  But the first step to making changes is to realize that regretting the decisions you have made does not actually propel you forward.   Learning from regretful decisions or moments is forward progress.  And any amount, large or small, of forward progress is the right kind of progress to make.

Examine.

Power of Self Image

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You have probably seen the trailers of “I Feel Pretty”. It looks pretty funny. Though I have not seen it myself, I think it is safe to assume it goes to extremes about the power of self-image.

However, it does pose the thought of how influential our self image is. Sure there are usually external factors at work when we create and mold our self image, but they only have power if we choose to believe it.

I would like to pause and state, for the record, that you cannot will yourself a new external image. If you are 80 lbs. or 800 lbs., but love yourself, you should probably still ensure that you are living as healthy as possible.

What I am talking about is strictly vanity. If you don’t like the way you look, then make sure you double check yourself on the “why.” If you do like the way you look, but feel the pressure to change clarify the “why” again.

Too many times in today’s culture, especially in America, we are driven by what others think. We become untrue to ourselves. It’s okay to not like something about yourself, but it’s not okay for someone to make you feel that way.

If you want a change, make it. Self esteem and self image are very important to happiness. Happiness is very important to overall health. Don’t let others dictate what it is that will make you happy.

You are in control. You have the power to make that change. Love yourself.

Examine.

A Good Cry

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I was having a conversation the other day and it eventually led to the subject of crying.  The question was posed, “Why do we hold in tears and the effort of crying?  Sometimes you just need a good cry.”  It got me thinking.  Why DO we not cry?

Sometimes it might be due to not wanting to show weakness/fear/whatever in front of someone.  Sometimes it’s an embarrassment factor that stops you from letting the tears flow.  And then sometimes it’s the fear that if you start crying, you may never stop.

I know that I have felt all three of these at different points in my life.  But, if I am honest with myself, I am probably leaning toward the third reason above.

I remember at one point, my dad telling me that if “you’re going to cry, you can just go to your room.”  In hindsight, and in previous conversations with my parents, I’m sure in that moment I was being a pill of a child and was probably crying to either get attention or get what I wanted.  My dad wasn’t condemning me to a lifetime of room-crying.  Nonetheless, that particular statement stuck with me and it was always my default reaction to tears. Go to my room or another private place.

Even to this day, if I feel that I am going to have tears, I will find a private place, a restroom, my car, whatever.  This is probably a normal thing, hiding while crying, right?  But in those moments, I do have that nagging fear that if I let the emotions turn on too far, there may be no stopping it.

I take this moment to pause any “worriers” out there….I am not depressed or have thoughts of never ending sadness.  Each time I have ever cried, I assure you, I have stopped.  🙂

The point is, that in that moment, you may just never know.  I have talked with people who suffer from migraines and it’s similar.  Even though they get migraines and they KNOW that they will eventually go away, there’s that “in-the-moment” fear that it won’t.  That this pressure will never subside and that the rest of their life will be pain and misery.

Can this translate to other parts of life and society?  I’m sure it can.  The key is to make sure you do that gut-check with reality and what is KNOWN.  Not what is unknown.  Emotions can be fleeting or they can linger.  If you find that you cannot see through the fog or the light, please seek help.  There are trained professionals who can and will be happy to help out.

I like to preach a “mind over matter” mentality, but I’m also a realist.  In the end, you have to decide what is best.  You have to decide when you are at your limit and when you need to ask for help.  Self help for as long as you can, then call on your village.  If you don’t have a village, go find one.

Sometimes you just need a good long cry.  Trust me, it won’t last forever.  Also, you can find sympathy if you ask for it.  We aren’t alone, let’s work together to make sure that no one feels like they won’t stop crying if they start.

Examine.

Big Heart

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I may lose a lot of you in this next line, but that’s a chance I am willing to take. So, I watched the new “Andre the Giant” documentary that HBO created. It was awesome!

Andre was one of my idols growing up. I mean what can I say?  He was a GIANT! The documentary did a nice job of speaking toward Andre the man and also to the mythology around what type of persona he was in the professional wrestling world.

Hands down, everyone who knew him says he was a very generous human being. Very nice and gentle, despite his size. In an interview Andre stated that he just wanted to make people happy. That’s why he travelled the world 300 days a year, being the greatest sideshow act in the pre-TV sports entertainment world.

He also stated that he was never able to be normal. Being as big as he was in the 70’s and 80’s, he could not go anywhere without immediately being recognized and/or ridiculed for his size. What a lonely life that must have been. However, despite that, he went on giving people an opportunity to live in that fantasy world where Giants exist.

I realized, after watching the documentary and thinking about his scenario, that Andre was a great example of what joy you can bring into your own life simply by bringing joy into others’ lives. That is what made him the most happy, was seeing his spectators ooh and awe at the feats he would perform.

So, if you have made it this far into the article about a long dead “Rassler”, then take that point away with you. The art of making others happy has an amazing effect in your own perspective and self-image. Happiness is the most contagious “disease” out there, so go spread it!

Examine.

No Left Turn

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A strange thing happens when you’re in a hurry.  You end up making compromises.  For example, I drive my kids to daycare and school each morning before I go into work.  When I get to the school, there are signs along the driveway carefully ensuring you navigate to your destination without causing undue traffic.  One sign is a “No Left Turn” even though you see that you can turn left to drop kids off at the secondary school.  The reason for this is the school would rather you drive forward another 50 feet to the roundabout, come back and turn RIGHT into the secondary school entrance.

Makes sense, right?  Well…it does unless you are running late, then that left turn looks SO tempting.

I know this….because almost every day as I am leaving the school grounds, I get stopped at that same exact spot when a secondary parent has turned left before the lane was clear, thus blocking my exit. 🙁

Now, I get it.  I’ve been late more times than I would like to count.  I have made the same type of decisions that ultimately impact others while not actually gaining any real benefit.  I THINK there will be a benefit.  However, when it is all said and done, I have not gained anything, but I have negatively impacted others.  As I was negatively impacted in the above scenario.

Ironically, I have multiple situations during this same drive that create the same cause/effect scenario.  When I drop my son off, he likes me walking him into school.  So, instead of pulling up to the curb and dropping him off, I go to the side parking lot, park, walk him in, then walk back, get in my car and go on my way.

Funny thing.  By the time I leave, there is a line of parents waiting to drop their kids off at the curb.  Important note:  the line to the curb is a LEFT turn….in order for me to exit, it’s a RIGHT turn.  Now, take your DOL handbooks out…who has right a way?  Yep…the right hand turner, me.  🙂  Who ends up waiting for someone who is turning left to let me through, me. 🙂

Again, it’s not costing them anything to let me pass, they won’t lose their place in line.  They won’t even be delayed, because they can move up the line after I pass and still have 30-40 feet to go before they can actually drop their kid off.  But they PERCEIVE that they will benefit from turning and not letting me in, when instead they are only delaying my departure.

What’s the point?  Am I just ranting?  Well….maybe.  HA!  Just kidding.  Honestly, I don’t even mind.  It’s not a huge drain on my time frame.  I’m either already running late and a few more minutes won’t cause me harm, or I’m on-time and still have the freeway to delay me.  Either way, I’m going to be late!

The point is that perception will beat reality.  I’m sure that while reading this, you’ve probably recalled these scenarios….both being the delayer or the delayed.  But, let’s be honest, how many times have you been the delayer and actually realized that there was nothing gained by delaying others?  Probably none.  I know I hadn’t realized it…until I did, and decided to write this post about it.

It’s all perspective, right?  And what better time to try and gain it than when you are sitting in traffic or waiting in line.  Try to put yourself in the other side, the other mindset, and that might might make things easier to digest.  Yes, running late is not a great feeling, but is it worth making others run late as well?  Maybe by working on NOT being the delayer, you will end up not being the delayed.

Examine.

 

A Motherly Perspective

A Motherly Perspective

A friend of mine, Molly, posted the following on Facebook:

I’m in the bathroom sans kids so here comes another moment of enlightenment since that’s the only place I seem to have clarity: The older I get and the more things I put my body through (traveling, mountain climbing, marathoning) the more I am amazed at what these bodies are capable of. But it has been the 2 pregnancies and the endless caring of my children that has afforded me a new found grace and awe of this temple I reside in. And it is the unconditional love and support of my partner and husband that allows me to add to it confidence. My wobbly bits are multiplying like rabbits, but the 3 most important people love me more with each passing day and that makes me so proud of the journey that has gotten me even closer to a love of myself and a reason to smile when I catch a glimpse of the newest gray hair or saggy spot – I am truly, wholly loved by them, so I want in on it, too! I wouldn’t be me without any of them and without any of them I wouldn’t be this better version of me!”

With this quote, she fully expresses (whether she meant to or not) the best parts of what this site tries to preach.  It’s not what you necessarily believe about yourself or what other’s believe about you.  However, with the right combination of the two, gold can be found.

It’s about surrounding yourself with love and giving it in return.  It’s about recognizing that you aren’t alone, that you have support, if you know where to look.  With that support, the possibilities are endless.

The people who you choose to surround yourself with play an important part of who you are and it is important to ‘want in on it, too!’

I want to thank Molly for sharing the above quote and hope that any and all mother’s out there can relate and remember what amazing people they are.  To all of you, a Happy Mother’s Day!

Examine.

Sights and Targets

Sights and Targets

Bruce Lee once said:

“Don’t fear failure.  Not failure, but low aim, is the crime.  In great attempts it is glorious even to fail.”

I love this quote because it sums up the way goals and priorities should be set.  I’ll further promote the idea by saying that it’s not the failure that matters, but what you do with that failure.  Learning from the mistakes, recovering and moving on is the only way to succeed.

We don’t live in a black-and-white world.  It’s not all or nothing.  It’s not just success or failure.  Every failure has the opportunity to be a partial success if you let it.

This post may be short, but sweet.  There’s not much too it, because it’s simple.  Set high goals and succeed.  If you don’t succeed…well, try try again.

Examine.

The Key to the Future

The Key to the Future

The notable quote is that “Those who fail to learn from history are doomed to repeat it.” That’s what we remember it, but the true quote is “Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it.” For the sake of this post, I like the second a bit better.

Let me tell you a story.  A few years back, I went back to school and got my master’s degree.  My intent was to educate myself and work my way into a management position.  A couple of years later, I got that chance and became a manager for a company that I had worked for previously.  Since I had no real management experience, I knew it was a very fortunate circumstance and put all of my effort into making it work.

Fast forward to a couple of months ago.  I was recently laid off from that position.  It was heart breaking.  I’m not going to sit here and make excuses.  I will admit that I failed.  I failed my employees.  I failed my boss.

It was hard, but what it did was force me to reflect on the time I had there and determine what my next steps would be.  I ended up being hired within a couple of weeks, and again with today’s economy I am grateful for this fortune.

In my reflection, I came up with a couple of revelations:

  • I wasn’t up to the expectations of my previous employer, thus I failed.
  • I do give my all to the success of myself.
  • I have confidence in my skills and abilities.

Even though it was heartbreaking to lose my job, I took heart in the 2nd and 3rd revelation and this allowed me to pursue a job search and interview with complete confidence.  I ended up getting an offer that was higher than the job posted (both in position and salary) and I attribute that to being sure of myself when presenting why I would be an asset to the organization.

Now I sit in a position, that isn’t management, but is of seniority and look to the future.  It is bright because I can look back at my recent failure, see what I did wrong and not repeat the process.

This is the combined power of reflection and looking back.  I did not dwell on the past, but turned it to my advantage for a brighter future.  What I learned most was that I should do this, not only in times of crisis, but on a semi-regular basis to make sure I am still aligned.  Examination leads to enlightenment, enlightenment leads to success.

Examine.

You are…You Could Be!

You are...You Could Be!

Before I start, I must disclaim. I saw this quote on Facebook and it is from scripture.  I try to stay as neutral as possible, so don’t stop reading or be offended because I bring up a quote that originates in religion as this is not a religious post.

Here is the aforementioned quote:  “God loves you just the way you are, but He refuses to leave you that way.”

Now, to spin it to our topics, is change it to this:  “Love yourself the way you are, but refuse to never change.”

This is a ‘self’ centered post…that sounds wrong, but it’s right.  Everything about that above quote centers around your Self.  There are few constants in this world, but one of them is that EVERYTHING can be better.  It’s a simple 5 step process:

  1. Examine your self.
  2. Love what you see and accept who you are.
  3. Decide what would make you more happy.
  4. Determine why #3 would make you more happy.
  5. Put in a plan of action to change #3.

Let’s step back…this is not necessarily (but could be) a physical ‘see’ and ‘change’, but mainly a lifestyle/thought process change.

The strongest and most important step above is #4.  This is the hardest part, because any changes need to have a good reason.  Without reason, change is meaningless.  Meaningless changes are wastes of time and energy.  They usually result in steps back rather than steps forward.

Why is this important?  According to current studies (take those as you will), only 1 in 3 Americans consider themselves ‘Very Happy’.  That means the other two need to make changes in their lives to become ‘Very Happy.’  Are you one of the ‘1’ or one of the ‘2’?

Figure it out, take the steps and start moving toward becoming a ‘1’.

Examine.

A Dad’s Wish Fulfilled

A Dad's TaleA couple of weeks ago, the fair came to town.  This is a smaller version of the big fair that comes around in the Fall.  However, my wife and I have not missed either version for the past 7 years.  My son is now 3 years old and he has gone to each instance of this fair throughout his entire life.  Watching him take more and more of the Fair in each visit is a wonder in itself.  Every time we go, he experiences it more fully and enjoys more and more of it.

Last fall, his highlight was the farm animals and the petting zoo.  So, this year we thought it would be a quick trip and just hit some barns and get the required ‘fair food’ and go home happy.  Then we turned the corner and saw……the RIDES.  My son immediately wanted to check it out as my wife and I exchanged the ‘oh no, is he tall enough?’ look.

Well, we get up to the roller coaster and see the measure line.  From 6 feet away I could tell that he wasn’t tall enough, but man was he excited.  He kept asking if he could do the ‘rorer coaster‘.  So, I explained to him that he needed to be tall enough and showed him the black line that marked how tall he needed to be.  Looking up at me with his big brown eyes, he says ‘Dada, can we measure?’  Of course we can…so up we walk and….

HE WAS TALL ENOUGH.  What?!?!  There was no way he was tall enough until we got right up to the measure stick and sure enough, he was good to go.  So, after forking over a small fortune, I bought a series of ride tickets and off we went.

So, where’s the wish, you say?  Well, 14 years ago, I met my wife and we started dating and I bought tickets to an amusement park for us to go to when she dropped the closest thing to a deal breaker in our relationship on me….she didn’t like RIDES.  WHAT?!?!  How could we be compatible…how could this happen?  Well, it did and we persevered.  Obviously.

So, by and large, after 19 years of being a thrill seeker, I went into a roller coaster hibernation.  Now my son, wide-eyed and excited, was asking his daddy if we could ride the ‘rorer coaster‘.

So, here we go…we strap in…Mom’s armed on the sidelines with a camera (which didn’t do much good because he was ‘just’ tall enough and could not be seen behind his behemoth of a father) and AWAY WE GO!

When we go around the corner and up the track, he’s smiling and giggling…when we go down for the first time, he loses….his….MIND!  I’ve not seen the kid smile so broadly, it was like a whole new world had been opened up.

Watching him have so much fun, reminded me how much fun these rides could be.  Furthermore, he reminded me what FUN really is.  It’s different for everyone, but for me, in that moment, it was able to show him a new experience and remember all the fun I’ve had in those situations.

Before the ride was over, there were a few times when he would just look up at me and smile.  In that smile, I could see him ‘thanking’ me for showing him this amazing experience of the ‘rorer coaster‘.

Sometimes, it takes a moment like that to remember.  And remembering his a good way to examine your perspective.  For me, personally, it has been a trying few months.  And all of that melted away with my baby boy’s simple smile.

Examine.