Archive | September 2016

Doing Something

Image courtesy of www.elimoody.com

Image courtesy of www.elimoody.com

Days come and days go, but our goals and our dreams are a constant. So are the steps that we have to take each day to reach those goals. This is where the hard part comes in, because as those days go by, some of them are going to be good and some of them are going to be terrible. Yet we still have to find a way to push through. Generally, this is where your Why power is going to kick in and you will be able to use that as a lever to get yourself out of the bad days and back on the path towards your goals. Sometimes, the Why power is going to feel very far away and the only thing that will work is our commitment to ourselves.

By this time, we should have laid out the minimum steps that we have to do in order to reach our goals, the things that need to be done. When we came up with those daily stepping stones, we made a commitment to ourselves that we would take those steps. The bad days are the reason that we made that commitment in the first place. It is easy to hold to that commitment when things are going well, or even when things are just so-so, but on the bad days when our Why feels very far away, that commitment is going to be the thorn in our paw that gets us to actually take the steps we promised ourselves that we would.

Take today for example. Today I woke up in a foul mood. I hadn’t gotten enough sleep the night before because of an argument with my wife. I started the day feeling worthless and like a failure. I was not supporting my wife the way that would make her happy, I’m not making enough money to keep the bill collectors at bay, and I go to work every day to talk on the phone (an activity I truly hate) to people that feel that my life should revolve around them. Frankly, I felt like lying down on the highway would be a more enjoyable day today and nothing was making a dent in that feeling. Yet here I am, writing about the steps that I took to still try and move forward. This is me stepping to that next stone and the only reason that I am doing it is because of the commitment to myself that I made to write one of these each day.

So on those days that your Why power isn’t there to push you and life feels like an utter waste of time, remember that commitment you made to yourself and let that be the lever that gets you to take the needed step, even if it is just a small step.

Values Can Create Joy

Last time I spoke on the topic of Core Values and how they play a part in my life. In that discussion I talked about how living my core values is what keeps me happy and that no amount of success in life will create happiness, if not living in tune with those values. I also spoke about how living in accordance with those values allows us to bypass a great deal or agonizing over decisions since we have a firm outline of what is in tune with my values. Today I wanted to share a method to learn what your core values are.

Step one is simple, go out and get a packet of note cards. When you get those home, sit down somewhere with the stack and a good pen or marker and start to think about your life. Think about the events in your life that you are happiest with and why you are happy about those events. Also, think about the events and things in your life that you are the unhappiest about. Dig deep on these events and the decisions that you made during those events. Why did you make those decisions? What was the motivation behind your actions and inactions in those situations? Find the core idea or value that drove those decisions, or in the case of the unhappy events, the idea or value you choose to ignore and write those ideas and values down. Keep it simple, a word or two at most on each card. Keep this up until you have a nice stack of ideas and values listed out, but no more than about 100.

Next up is the hard part. Take that stack of ideas and values and start sorting them into 3 stacks: important, very important, and most important. Go through your whole stack and get them sorted so that you have an idea of the ones that you hold closest to your heart. This isn’t the hard part because the task is complicated, this is hard because you have to look into your own heart and soul and be completely honest about what things are most important to you. I can tell you from experience that this is a painful process and you are going to find that the things most important to, you might not follow the ideals of the life or society that you live in every day. That alone will be a challenge that we need to face to become authentic in our living.

Finally, take that stack of “most important” and start to trim it down to the top 5 or 10 values that that define who you are and put any extras into the “very important” stack. Now you have your core values, those things that will define how you should live your life. Do what you will with that stack of cards to make sure that you keep them in mind every day. For xiaoyi and I, we did this in concerns to our lives together and we have engraved out value onto small mirrors that we hang on the wall where we will see them every day, where we will read them every day. This keeps those ideals fresh in our minds so that we can live them authentically and aware. The difference living our lives in accordance with our values has been nothing short of extraordinary.

Now, this isn’t a onetime thing. Every year or so, take out those cards again and look through them. Add any ideals or values that you feel are missing and remove any that don’t resonate with you any longer. The truth of the matter is that your values are going to change over the course of time and the lives that we lead when we are young will not be the ones that we live when we get older, and they shouldn’t be. If you are here and reading this, it means that you have a desire to learn, and that learning is going to change you.  Also take a close look at that set of core values and see if they are constant for you going forward or if any of them have moved in importance to the “very important” pile and if any from the “very important” pile has moved into those core values. This will keep your values current with your life and your journey opening up your life to the joys we have found in ours.  

-Dominic

Loving by Choice

love-and-choice

Today is going to be a little different than many of my posts and is going to focus more on an emotional aptitude than the normal goal driven ideas. Part of becoming an authentic person and living to our values is the creation and maintenance of enduring and meaningful relationships. To that end there is a skill that we all need to learn so that we can actually understand those relationships and be effective in our ability to communicate within them. Many of you have probably heard of Love Languages, the methods that people give and receive love in ways that are meaningful to them and that they actually understand. Understanding those is the first step in creating deep and powerful relationships, but the next part of it is far more important.

For many, they learn the love language and attempt to communicate using the ones that mean the most to them. That rarely works out the way that we want it to and the learned take the process another step to try and correct that. They communicate their love language with those close to them and attempt to learn the love language from those they care about. They hope that this will let them communicate effectively and deeply, yet it commonly still falls short of the mark. Next we move to the realization that we have a different language for expressing love and one for receiving love and those can be drastically different. We may communicate how we receive love without communicating how we give it, so that relationships end up feeling one sided.

The skills we need to develop take all of these parts and take it one step farther than usually. It employs the use of deep empathy when dealing with those we love even after we have learned the languages they use to give and receive love. We need to step outside, out own perception of the world, our own operating system, so that we can see the other person in a different light. Just like we have used our perception filters to change how we view the world, we need to practice that is viewing the actions of those closest to us. It may feel like enough to realize that your partner’s way of giving love is through words of affirmation on a cognitive level, but if your way of receiving love is not the same, frequently we won’t really feel that gift from them. This is where we need to step out of our own perceptions and view the acts from our partner’s viewpoint. This will allow us to internalize the methods that they are giving love and feel it rather than just know it cognitively.

When we take that step and can really feel it when they express their love to us, we can improve the depth of the relationship and become more aware and attuned to our partners and loves ones. This is something that will improve every level of relationship in our lives and take another step towards that profound and fulfilling life we are moving towards.

My wife’s primary love language to receive is acts of service.  But it cannot be any act, there are particular ones that tell her I really love her when I do them.  It has taken years to learn which acts get that message sent and since I am a gift giver most often to show my love, there was a lot of trial and error on both our parts as we learned how to give and receive love from the other as they chose to share it.  

How do you show love both to your partners and as appreciation for others in your live such as friends, family and coworkers?  Do they hear it in the ways you express it?  IF not how can you change so that they can hear your appreciation?  

What We have been up To

I have hinted at it more than a couple times over the past months as I wrote about the journey that xiaoyi and I have been on and today I am going to explain what it is and how it has changed our lives. I am speaking about the business venture that catapulted us into our own self-development and growth as we strive to reach the goals that we set out for ourselves. That business a great travel club and we are both representatives for the business. In short, Network Marketing and our travel club was the catalyst that drove both of us to improve ourselves and to dream for a bigger and better future than we have ever thought we could have.
The club is a mix between a Costco like program for travel and a piggy back for saving for that travel. Essentially we pay a monthly deposit to the company and in exchange, we get access to hundreds of discounted travel options, from a couple day stay in another state to a couple weeks overseas. The packaged vacations are nothing short of amazing with so much to offer that it is staggering that they are being offered at the low price they are. That is step one, discounted travel programs.

Then the deposits, is that the monthly dues, we pay become points at a 1:1 ratio. We can use those points on those vacation packages at a 1 point to $1.00 discount on the package. In essence, we have this membership for free as every dollar we spend on our monthly dues translates into a dollar less we pay on our vacations. This has been an incredible boon in our ability to save for the vacations that we want to take and every since the two of us toured China 6 years ago, travel has been an integral love in our lives. It is an all-around win for us.

There are two ways that one can participate in this with us. The first is as a customer and is just what I described above. The second is as a representative.  For little extra a month on our membership, we have the ability to sign up other customers and representatives, every one of which earns us real life income. And we get all the perks of being members as well. This opportunity has done more for us than I can relate, but I will give it a try.

First of all, it gave us a dream that we could strive for together. It gave us something that we could see ourselves doing and doing well and doing as a team. That has brought us closer together than we have been since we exchanged our vows on that trip to China I mentioned. It has given us a shared goal to strive for, something that has enhanced our lives in profound ways.

Second, it gave us training. Not just training in how to expand the business and make it a success, but rather training in self-growth and self-improvement as well. This training has seen us step outside the old, comfortable habits that had locked us into the life we were leading and opened the door to the life that we wanted to lead. It gave us the tools to become the people that we always wanted to be, and traveling that road is an amazing and intoxicating feeling.

Third, it has set us on the path to have time and financial freedom. It has laid out a road for us that lead to never having to wake up at 6am again to get to an 8-5 job again. It has opened our eyes to a life that isn’t predicated on the next paycheck and if the bills are paid. Instead, it has given us the freedom to earn what we want and on the time frame we choose. That is something that had eluded us up to this point in our lives.

Finally, it let us travel. Since we joined up, we have gone on multiple vacations that we had not been going on previously. It has allowed us to indulge in the love that we have to visit new places and learn new things about the world around us. This has enriched our lives to no end and shows no sign of stopping. We get to live the life that we wanted to live all those years ago and never have the opportunity to do so because we were locked into a culture and ideal that prevented it.

Our lives have changed so much in the past year that I can’t even recognize the person I was even that short time ago. The problems and frustrations of that life have changed and even vanished in the face of the life and dreams that this venture has given us. It has set us on our path to growth and freedom!

If travel is something that you love as well then shoot us an email at xioayi@WiththeDrakes.com and we can chat about our club some. It has been a stepping stone in our journey to our goals and our own self-growth and it could be just the thing you need to push you along that path as well!

-Dominic

Making holiday connections this fall

We are coming up on the time of year, where it is common for people to reconnect with friends and family and share the stories about their lives.  We seek that connection with each other year round but something about the holidays really seems to increase our willingness to be open and vulnerable to each other emotionally and to really open ourselves up to connection and sometimes even pain.  If you are like me, you don’t want to hurt those who are opening up to you, friends and family alike. So what steps can each of us take to help prevent ourselves from hurting those trying to connect with us?

I am talking about emotional connections here, not just working calendar magic so that we can see someone for a few minutes.  It can take only a few minutes to create or acknowledge a connection with someone, so I don’t worry if I can only meet for a quick cup of coffee with one person between visits with others this season.  I make the most of even 5 minutes by following these tips:

  1.       Listen to their story or what they have to say.  If you only have five minutes with each other or if it is Uncle Ted talking about his most recent deep sea fishing trip over dinner, really take the time to listen to what they are saying.
  2.       Try to identify what they are feeling while they are sharing the story with you.  Are they happy, sad, wishful, lonely?
  3.       Empathize with that emotion. It is never cheesy or rude to say, “Gee Uncle Ted, it must have been really disappointing to see that one get away!” or “Wow Sis, that sounds really rough.” By recognizing the emotions in the story that is being shared with you, you are seeing beyond just the words to the person who has lived that story.
  4.      Don’t worry if you get the wrong emotion the first time you try this.  If Uncle Ted wasn’t disappointed or it wasn’t rough for your Sis, they will let you know and seldom in a confrontational kind of way.  When they state the correction, KEEP Listening and empathize again, now with the correct emotion which they just gave you.

!!!!!!!WARNING!!!!!!!

Don’t use the phrase “At Least…” ever when trying to empathize with someone.  Let me say that again, NEVER, EVER use the phrase “At Least…” when trying to connect with someone.

Really quickly let me share an example of how this phrase is commonly used.  We tend to use it a lot when we think we are trying to empathize with someone but it never seems to quite come across that way.

Let’s say Michelle is one of those always bubbly, upbeat people, but she is feeling down at the moment because she isn’t going to be able to go home for the December holidays this year, even though she was able to see her entire family for Thanksgiving.  It can be very tempting to say, “I’m sorry you can’t go home for the holidays but at least you got to see them last month.”

First of all, Michelle knows she saw them last month and she is still feeling down.  By telling her at least in this case, we are implying that she shouldn’t be down or feel as bummed as she does because there was something good before, in this case seeing her family at Thanksgiving.

Heck, all of us who feel bummed now have felt happy before, sometimes as recently as 1 minute ago.  That doesn’t lessen what we feel now. Instead being told “at least..” can leave each of us feeling invalidated and not connected with each other.  If I am feeling down, it is much better for me to hear “wow that is a downer.” than anything trying to tell me I don’t have it very bad.

The second reason at least doesn’t help with connections is because it now creates a competition and not the friendly kind.  The many times I have heard “at least…” are commonly in reference to “at least you have it better than so and so” or “at least you have it better than me”.

A friend of mine, Wayne ended up having an operation which removed much of his lower leg.  He was devastated when this happened.  He had been very mobile, self-sufficient and always on the go up until that point and even just the time it would take to recover from the operation was a huge blow to him. Shortly after this surgery, he was spending time with one of his old army buddies and they tried to cheer him up by pointing out “at least it wasn’t your whole leg.” What his well-meaning but clueless friend didn’t understand was that for Wayne, it was just as bad to lose his foot as it would have been to lose his entire leg from the hip down.  He stopped hanging out with that friend entirely when a month later Wayne did have to have more of the leg removed and this time it was above the knee.  When I asked him why, he told me about his friend’s response to his emotional pain of the first surgery and told me “I just don’t need to hear that, “at least I didn’t die.””  Wayne went on to joke, “Heck maybe if I do see him and he says that I will die in a few weeks.  After all, it’s now my whole leg.”

When we use the phrase “at least” to try and connect with someone it’s common that instead of being cheered up, our friends and family feel worse.   After all, who isn’t cheered up by thinking of people who have it way worse than we do? I know after seeing starving children in a magazine I want to just jump up and down with joy because my life is better than theirs, don’t you?  Oh wait, no I don’t feel better.  In fact, I often feel much worse than I did before I thought of those other terrible things and I bet you do too.

What does help me feel better is having someone acknowledge that right now, I am not doing great emotionally and having that person just be with me and listen!

If you have watched the movie Inside Out, you have seen a little about the power and strength that can come from feeling sad and you might have learned that feeling sad is needed.  If you remember when BingBong (the imaginary childhood friend who cries candy) was feeling sad and Sadness just sat down with him and let him cry, he felt much better but when Joy was trying to remind him of better things, he kept getting sadder and less happy?  When we use “at least” statements on our friends and family this season, we are decreasing their ability to be happy because, like Joy in the movie ,we are trying to force our desired feelings on everyone around us. Instead, try simply acknowledging what emotions are there and listening to your friends’ stories.  Maybe even share a few of your own.  By being with our friends and family and connecting without “at leasts” we can all have happier and better holiday seasons this year.

-xiaoyi

Life’s too Short to Have Bad Days! What are You Doing to Make Today Fantastic?

I am learning to communicate without “at leasts” so that I can connect better with everyone I know.  

 

Building your team by teaching them to fish

Answers are a Pitfall

Image courtesy of: www.chelsey.co.nz

Image courtesy of: www.chelsey.co.nz

As we grow in our life we are bombarded by the need to find answers, for the ability to answer the questions in our lives. By the age of three we have already learned to ask, “Why?” about everything.  Yet getting answers isn’t always helpful especially when it comes to our relationships and helping those around us. By being there to give someone close to us the answers, we are depriving them of a growth experience and beginning to make them reliant on us. This is a direct detriment to us, as well as them, become more and more reliant on us, we have to spend more and more time being there to answer their questions. We create a dependency in them and an obligation in ourselves that will eventually break down and will never promote the growth of either party.

Let’s look at this a little deeper. If someone in our lives comes to us with a question and expects us to give them the answer, they are abdicating their responsibility for that problem to us. It is now our responsibility to solve the problem for them and if the problem doesn’t get solves, it is on our heads that it will fall. This might be an acceptable situation when there are only a couple people that rely on us for answers, but as the number grows and as we build our teams and companies,  we are turned from looking towards the future and walking that path into the agent of stagnation as we spend all our time putting out other peoples’ fires.

What can we do to avoid this pitfall, to not turn ourselves into a guru on top of the mountain that is trapped on the mountain top? The answer is simple; we need to train ourselves and those close to us to develop their own answers to problems. We need to turn into problem solvers and teach others to become problem solvers rather than just drones that bring us problems. The way to do this is simple, but not easy. We have to get the person coming to us with a problem to think on their own, we need to ask them questions on how they would solve the problem and the why behind their answers. This trains them to think and problem solve on their own and we begin to develop that ability in them. We can offer suggestions and our own thoughts, but we can’t give them an answer to the problem. We have to force them through guidance, to act on their own answers to the problem so that they not only learn to develop their own answers but also learn to implement and trust their answers.

Once we have trained those around us to collaborate on problems and become problem solvers on their own, we create a team that can tackle the really big problems together rather than a crowd that looks to us for the answers to their everyday questions. We have turned the people around us, and ourselves, into leaders instead of followers, developed the ability to learn, grow and strive rather than placing the responsibility for life into someone else’s life.

Today is the day to ask questions instead of giving answers. Force those around you to think and to overcome the problems they face by engaging them is conversation and pulling their thoughts and opinions on the problem out. Help teach them to lead by helping them trust in their own ability instead of just handing out answers like candy.

 

Sunday Story Time – A Grim Night in the Forest part 4

An enormous shadow moved through the dark trees on the far side of a clearing a mile or more from the site of the forester’s death. Hardly a leaf was disturbed as it slowly stalked through the forest.

“You have got to be joking.” Grimm hissed, keeping his voice low so that the thing would not notice the two humans lying under some underbrush. “Let me get this straight, you want me to wonder out there and get that things attention, that beast that happens to be as large as a house, and then when it comes to tear my head off I am supposed to entertain it for a little bit while you line a shot up?”

“That is essentially the plan, yes. Why?” Lady Wessex replied, her eyes large and round is fascination as she watched the shape across the clearing.

“You are insane lady.” Grimm quietly rebuked.

“Not so. You are uniquely suited to performing this task with a higher then normal likely hood that you will come out alive.”

“Wonderful, so you are pitting my aberration against a god of the forest then?”

“Don’t be silly, there are no gods in the world. I am pitting your aberration against a large predatory animal, nothing more.”

“Let me guess, if I don’t do this you are going to keep dragging me through this forest and farther away from the nice fire we had going until you come up with another plan aren’t you?”

“You are the one that chose to come along, now shut up and be useful.” Mrs. Wessex snapped, a hint of nervousness in her voice.

Shrugging, Grimm stealthily moved away from where Lady Wessex was hiding, the long rifle primed and ready. Once he had moved a good hundred feet or so away, he stood up and strode into the clearing, making no pretense to hide his movement. In fact, a faint whistled tune drifted on the slight breeze back to Lady Wessex.

The shadow stopped and turned towards that lone man standing in the clearing nearby. A howl of bestial rage shook the trees of the forest as the creature bounded our of the covering foliage and into the moon light. Pitch black fur with streaks of silver in it covered the a towering frame packed with muscle and power. The creature resembled a wolf except that is was at least ten feet tall at the shoulder and the jaws that snapped were filled with wickedly sharp curved teeth. The eyes of the beast sent a chill down Grimm’s spine. They were brilliant, glowing green and shed a sickly light on the clearing as the beast looked around. A sense of eternal hatred, malice and sorrow filled Grimm as those shining eyes finally bore down on him.

The clearing erupted into frantic motion as the beast sprang at Grimm, saliva dripping from its distended jaws. With the speed of much battle experience, Grimm dove to the side rolling and coming to his feet. The beast was just as fast as it landed and skidded in the snow, its claws digging furrows in the soil and sending the covering of snow up in a shower of white. Again it sprang at Grimm, its jaws snapping and its front paws sweeping out to the sides to hem the hunter in.

Seeing the beast’s tactic, Grimm threw himself forward on his stomach and let the slick snow take him under the pouncing creature. Landing and spinning the beast eyed Grimm with a base cunning. Instead of leaping at the nimble opponent, the beast moved forward slowly, its head near the ground and watching as Grimm moved first this way and then that to try and find a path away from the stalking beast. When at last the creature was within striking distance of Grimm, it lunged forwards hoping to take Grimm in its jaws. With a bestial howl of his own, Grimm jumped as high into the air as he could and propelled himself forward, managing to land in the thick fur of the creatures back and grabbing up large handfuls of fur to keep himself there.

A snarl of rage tore out of the creatures mouth and it tried to snap at Grimm over its own shoulder. The first snap almost dislodged the scrambling hunter before he had gotten himself well seated behind the beast’s head and sparks flew as the creature’s tooth slid down Grimm’s leg tearing his pants but finding no purchase on his metal infused skin. With a grunt of pain, Grimm wrapped his legs around the giant wolf’s neck and dug his hands into its fur as well as he could.

With predictable ire, the wolf began to jump, dance and dart around in an effort to dislodge the clinging opponent.

“Though this may look like fun, I assure you that it is less than entertaining.” Grimm yelled as the beast continued to jump and caper around the clearing, twisting and turning in its efforts to dislodge the offending party.

A sound like a pressure tank breaching filled the clearing and was quickly followed by the sound of a massive detonation. The force of the blast flung Grimm through the air to crash his way down through the branches of a tree near the edge of the clearing. Pain erupted in his body as he hit the ground, muscles and bones bruised from the swift stop at the end of his flight. Shaking himself, Grimm pushed his way to his feet and looked around trying to find the clearing. Smoke filled the empty area between the trees and scorch marks could be seen prominently on the trunks of the trees near to Grimm. In the clearing stood the monstrous wolf, a gaping hole where the thing’s chest should have been. It stood there in the clearing, its head raised to the full moon and the light in its eyes dimming slowly. From the looks of things, Grimm thought it strange that there was no sound in the clearing at all, not the howling of the great beast, or even the soft shuffle of leaves in the slight wind. Shrugging in confusion, Grimm started moving into the clearing. As he walked towards the creature it slumped to its knees, the sapping of its strength pulling its head towards the charred grass at its feet. The glowing light from its eyes pulsed erratically now as Grimm stood in front of it and watched as its life faded away. The silence of the scene felt eerie to Grimm, but also oddly appropriate as the magnificent creature finally fell on its side and the last of its hot breath escaped into the world.

Grimm stood over the dead creature and felt a melancholy that shocked him. Something so proud and primordial had been taken down with a single shot from a man made monstrosity. The thought was startling to the callous hunter, but not half as startling as the hand on his shoulder.

Spinning and crouching at the same time, Grimm’s hand went to the dagger he carried at his back before he realized that it was Lady Wessex, the augmented rifle casually resting on her shoulder. A smile of triumph and something akin to ecstasy filled her face as she took in her kill. Her lips began to move in the actions of forming words, but Grimm still heard nothing except a high pitched whine that had just started. Tapping his hand against his head, Grimm realized that the concussion of the blast had knocked his senses from his head and that was the reason he hadn’t heard the creature howling to the moon. Pointing at his ears, he informed Mrs. Wessex that he couldn’t hear anything and instead stood at the head of the Wolfe, its life blood mingling with the moisture of the snow in the muddy ground.

A few minutes passed before Grimm was sure that he would be able to hear again. When he was, he turned to the still beaming girl at his side.

“Took you long enough to get that shot off.” He growled.

“Sorry about that, when I saw the actuality of the creature, I was shocked, honestly unsure it could be killed. It wasn’t until you called that I came back to my sense. A momentary lapse, it won’t happen again.” She replied, contrition only barely smudging the pride and joy that filled her voice, husky from her emotions.

“Spirit, beast or god, everything in this world can be killed, remember that next time you hesitate.” Grimm replied before turning his back on the carcass and heading back towards where he hoped the camp was.

 

Dealing with Defeat

image courtesy of: www.fillthefunnel.com

image courtesy of: www.fillthefunnel.com

As much as we might want to refute it, defeat and failure are a part of life. There is nobody out in the world that doesn’t experience these things on a rather constant basis. The thing that sets one person apart from another is not if they get back up from getting knocked down, we all do eventually,  but instead how often and how quickly they get back up. The simple fact is that we will get knocked down time and time again, in our lives, and will have a choice as we pick ourselves up. Some people out there will choose to abandon the struggle and stop striving to grow and reach for their dreams. Since those people aren’t here learning to reach their goals, we don’t need to spend time on them. Rather, the rest of us are going to get back up and continue to strive. So the difference is going to come in how we go about continuing to grow and learn.

The real measure of our success in reaching our goals is going to be in the measure of how quickly we are able to get back to our feet and dive back into the fray. Those that get up quickly and get back into quickly are those that are going to achieve their goals quickly and continue to move on in their lives and on their journeys.  Those that take substantial time to get back into it are going to lose momentum and struggle to get back into the rhythm of things. As such, it is going to take more time and more effort to get to the same point. They will still get there, but it is going to require a much deeper investment than those that are able to get right back into it. The good part about this is that we can train ourselves to get back into the fray as soon as possible.

This is just another tool that we can develop with effort and mindfulness. Next time we get knocked down, we don’t need to dwell on if we are going to get back into it, we already know that answer is yes. Instead we should look at where we are and the hurdles that are in the way of us getting back into sooner rather than later. What is going on in our hearts and our heads that is keeping us from diving back in as soon as our feet hit the ground? These are the questions that are going to allow us to work on reducing the time it takes us to get back into the journey, to get back into growth and joy of our lives. This reflection will help us to reduce the time we spend on the ground after we get knocked down and as a result will reduce the amount of effort it takes us to get back to where we were on our journey.

This past weekend, xiaoyi and I went camping together and just as we were about to set up, it rained.  Now while we waited for the rain to stop we could have mopped and fussed about how miserable it was to sit in the cramped car and how lousy the timing was for the rain and such.  We probably could have carried that misery with us through the entire storm and through the set up afterwords.  After all according to our plan, we would have been set up by now and eating.  Instead, we got back up.  We started talking about some of the fun things we were hoping to do this trip and how excited we were about it.  We found ways to laugh at the storm and turned it into a big joke about how we must have needed a break after the long drive.  And sure enough, when the rain did let up, we were laughing as we set up camp.  

Next time that world drives you to the ground, don’t worry about if you will get back up and keep going, but rather take it as an opportunity to learn how to get back on your path faster and with more vigor than you might have otherwise. We will get to our goals, now we are developing ways to deal with the pitfalls and delays in a more effective and empowering manner.

Happiness, What does it Mean?

image courtesy of: huffingtonpost.com

image courtesy of: huffingtonpost.com

What is Happiness?

We talk a lot about our goals and where we are going so that we can lead a fulfilling life, a happy life. This is the ideal that helps drive our self-growth and our own self-awareness, but what is this concept of happiness. What does happiness mean in our lives? This is something that will be different for every person that we talk to, but it is a vital thing to understand as we create our goals and start to move down our path.

For many, they will start by seeing happiness as those things that they do not have. They will want more stuff to fulfill them. This is common as we live in a very materialistic world and are taught from a young age that “things” make us happy. This can be a very hollow form of happiness that only last as long as we are infatuated with the things that we have acquired. By nature, it leads to wanting more or newer things, or maybe better things just to find that same hollowness soon after.  Only after much work can we determine what it actually is that makes us happy.

Some people are happy when they are supporting a cause, something that they can through their love and support behind. Maybe it is political or religious or maybe just a matter or supporting a community. Anyway it shows, these sorts of people need to tailor their goals so that they are in line with this form of happiness.

Others are only happy when they are all alone in the middle of nowhere. They feel a connection to the world around them and never want to return. These people need to understand that happiness and work to tailor their goals around that happiness or their goals will come and go and they will still find themselves unhappy.

For me, happiness is sharing some sort of adventure with those people close to me. This can be sharing a game or a movie, or hoping in a car and going for a road trip. It doesn’t really matter the form the adventure takes as long as I am getting to share it with those closest to me. This means that I have to tailor my goals to make sure that I can still experience this. It means creating tasks that I can do that don’t take time away from spending time with those closest to me. It also means finding the adventure in things I had not previously seen it in, like helping xiaoyi at a conference, as she follows her happiness. Which can be an adventure to be certain!!! Heck, I think there are even level ups involved in helping her some weekends!

No matter the heights we achieve or the goals that we accomplish, if those ideals were not created from a place where we understand what makes us happy, we will find that they feel hollow and worthless. Don’t find sadness at the completion of your goals; instead take the time to really think about what makes you happy. Then find a way to find that happiness in what you do now as you also look for opportunities to chase more happiness because the more you know what you are looking for and the happier you are the more chances to stay happy will find you.

 

Your Future doesn’t have to be the same as your Past

image courtesy of: mysouthlakenews.com

image courtesy of: mysouthlakenews.com

“If we do not learn from the past we are doomed to repeat it.”  A simple fact for many people’s life is that they believe their past defines their future, that what they have done and what they have learned up to this point in their lives limits them to the what they can do in the future. The reality is that the world we live in no longer operates that way. There was a time in the past where we had to follow a progression to learn something and employ it, but the reasons for that system have become outdated with the advent of the free information trade aka the internet. When it comes right down to it, at this point in our history, we can choose to learn anything we want to and employ those lessons in our lives. No longer are we tied down to doing what we know and what we have been trained to do, but rather we can take the leap and learn how to do what we want to do and learn it well. In this way, the past no longer defines our future and we are not doomed to repeat it.

The real task this matter is finding what we really want to do and finding a way to make that our lives. My own wife, xiaoyi, is an excellent example of this. She found that her passion was in teaching others, in sharing her knowledge and experience in the life that she lives. This sounds like something minor, but when you actually look at making a life in it, that little thing becomes a daunting mountain. How to present, where and when.  How to promote engagement while teaching, what ways to present and share work for her?  How can she find places to teach and share what she knows?   Yet, with the resources available, she has turned her ideal of a life into one that takes her all around the country on a constant basis to teach and the opportunities are constantly increasing. Was she trained to teach and to travel the country as a teacher and speaker? No, she was trained as folklorist and anthropologist. In that training, she learned something more important than every other thing, and that was how to learn. Methods for acquiring knowledge and implementing that into her life and she used that trait to learn and expand her teaching career. Now she uses the lessons she has learned in MLSP and other places to teach and share about her passions.  

I find myself in the same boat as her as well. I wasn’t trained on writing, creatively or sharing my learning and journey. I was trained to be an archaeologist, but at the same time that xiaoyi was learning to learn, so was I. I have turned that talent to writing, both this blog and the books and stories I write. I am even in the process of learning publishing so that I can expand on that passion of mine. This ability to learn is the cornerstone of making the future into something that we want it to be instead of feeling trapped by the past and the things that we have learned.

So my challenge to each of you for today is to go out there and learn something new. It doesn’t matter what that thing is, but make it something that you can use in your life. In addition, take note of how you learned it and how you can train yourself to learn and to learn in a more productive manner than you currently do. Train yourself to learn and nothing will be beyond your reach! Share waht you learned in the comment below!