Categories
Grow

What Is Wealth?

Wealth is subjective.

Each of us defines wealth in our own way.

For many, wealth is about financial independence. For others, wealth is about status symbols: Owning or possessing material goods that are desirable according to the norms of a particular social group.

Wealth can also be measured in personal relationships. Most people, regardless of socio-economic status consider themselves wealthy if they have a life that’s rich in friendship and connection.

For most of us, myself included, wealth begins with relationships, community and connection. But it also extends into the realm of financial independence.

Wealth is also relative.

What is wealthy in one context is poverty in another, and what is poverty in one social system can be classified as wealthy in comparison to others.

A poverty-level subsistence monthly income in the United States will vastly exceed the annual subsistence income needs in other places.

We all recognize this relativity, even if our financial and economic system makes arbitrary and artificial distinctions that do not reflect the reality of context.

Define & Create Your Future

I recently wrote a post called 10 Things We Should Be Teaching College Students. That post was inspired, in part, by the amazing opportunity we have today to embrace an entrepreneurial spirit and create and deliver products and services that provide value for others while generating income that leads to financial independence.

Earlier in my professional life, I took steps to pursue a life as an entrepreneur but we had many more constraints in those days. It's exciting to see the new opportunities available to nearly everyone today for nominal capital investment.

Today, it’s possible to set up a self-hosted WordPress site for less than $75 per year and, with creative ideas and motivation, build a business. The infrastructure costs that I faced in 1990 and 2000 have largely evaporated. Some businesses still require significant capital, but even those see lower and lower costs.

In 2000 I was writing about the future of the fabrication industry for Fabrication Equipment News. 3D printing was a glimmer on the horizon. Today, it’s a reality.

Entrepreneurship Enables Connection And Builds Communities

The wonderful thing about financial independence is that it enables connection. When we have time to spend with family and friends we can nurture each other, support each other, and build relationships that bring us true wealth.

When we are financially independent we can operate outside the command-and-control corporate structures where all the profits created by the efforts of labor flow upward and outward.

When we are financially independent we can chart our path and create the life we want, rather than selling our time for dollars. Yes, it requires work. But the reward is worth the effort.

Are You Ready To Get On The Path?

If you’re interested in improving relations, connecting with others, or learning more about the new opportunities for charting a course toward financial independence, I hope you’ll sign up for my newsletter. It’s about your path to health, wealth, wisdom and a happy life.

Starting in mid-December I’ll be sending out a weekly newsletter update that includes tips and ideas for building a business, as well as growing relationships online and off.

Leave your email below to subscribe. It’s free. I hope you'll join me on this journey.

 

Related Stories

 

Categories
Health Inspire

What Is Health?

Health is one the three pillars of a life well-lived.

Health is more than the absence of serious disease. Health goes beyond the physical capacity to perform certain activities. Although physical capacity is an important signifier of health, it is not enough

We are healthy when we are performing at our optimal physical, mental and emotional capability.

Health is about about wellness, well-being and the body’s ability to repair itself, to fight off germs and overcome or prevent cell mutations.

It breaks my heart to see so many people, young and old, battling chronic conditions that are largely the result of lifestyle and diet choices.

I’m not arguing that every health problem is the result of diet or lifestyle or environmental triggers. But the vast majority of sickness and chronic conditions are lifestyle and diet-related, exacerbated or hastened by the environmental toxins and chemicals that surround us.

Real Food

I’ve written elsewhere about my choice to give up fast food on August 1, 2003. And I’ve written elsewhere about how fortunate I was to grow up with parents who preferred to cook and eat real food at home. I’ve also been relatively active for most of my life, despite having a desk job for most of my life and a largely sedentary work environment, at least 9 months of each year.

The lessons I’ve learned from what might be called my healthy-lifestyle experiment is this: It is possible to arrive at mid-life without experiencing high blood pressure, diabetes, joint pain, chronic inflammation, high levels of bad cholesterol and similar conditions. I don’t have any of those problems and I am truly blessed in that regard. But I don’t attribute the absence of those conditions to mere chance or genetics.

I truly believe that my health today is the direct result of my diet, physical activity and commitment to get at least 7 or 8 hours of sleep each night. My diet is one that emphasizes real food with an emphasis on legumes, whole grains, fruits and vegetables, nuts, olive oil and reasonable quantities of good dairy products. Meats and poultry are the exception rather than the main dish.

I’ve never been a purist about diet, with the exception of my commitment to no fast food for the past 10 years and my lifelong avoidance of most manufactured “candy favors” or those things like Swizzles and gummy bears (which I’ve never tasted). I see nothing wrong with eating a quality dessert or home-baked goodies, if I feel like it.

The point is that it’s not necessary to become a rabbit, a vegan or a paleo-something to have a health diet. All that’s required is a commitment to eating a varied diet comprised of real foods, minimally processed.

Physical Activity

Similarly, physical activity doesn’t require running marathons. It doesn’t even require running. But aerobic exercise is important. Walking at a fast pace for at least 30 minutes each day will suffice for heart health. More aerobic exercise is probably needed for weight management, at least for some people, but the right food in the right quantities combined with reasonable walking each day will eventually get you to a healthy weight.

Stretching is also important, whether it’s slow stretching in your living room or yoga in a group.

And weight training can be a big help, especially for women over 30. We start to lose physical strength if we don’t do some resistance or weight training.

Sleep

Sleep is the third element of good health. Sleep might be the key to health. Actually, sleep probably is the most important of the three pillars of health.

Without adequate sleep, quantity and quality, we have a much harder time controlling our appetites. When we’re tired we’re more likely reach for a sugary, fatty snack. Lots of research supports this. I’m writing this in a place without good internet access, so I can’t provide links to the research immediately, but I’ll come back to this topic and share that research later.

It’s also a lot harder to muster the willpower to go for a walk or a run or other workout when we’re tired. And, in my experience, I can handle stress a lot better when I’m well-rested. If I have a poor night’s sleep or don’t get enough sleep due to travel schedule or something similar, I find that little annoyances will be more annoying and bigger stressors will bother me much more.

Over the coming months I hope to inspire you to join me on the path to health, wealth and wisdom by providing a guide to achieving optimum health. I’ll be sharing my own experiences, as well as the advice of health and wellness experts who can provide evidence-based insights about the importance of food choices, physical activity and sleep in overall well-being and disease prevention.

Subscribe to My Free Newsletter

For tips and more:

If you want to stay “in the loop,” I hope you’ll sign up for my newsletter.

Starting in mid-December I’ll be sending out a weekly compilation of my blog posts, along with bonus information related to health, food, nutrition and lifestyle. It’s all designed to help you along your path to health, wealth, wisdom and happiness.

All you have to do is submit your email below, then check your mailbox to confirm your subscription.

Happy Thanksgiving!

 

Categories
Inspire

Do You See The Unexpected?

Today's post was going to be about health. But I'm postponing that for a day to share a story I heard this afternoon.

It started like this: “What important historical event happened on this day 150 years ago?”

I was in a meeting with about 40 college professors. No one could answer correctly.

A: The  event was the Battle of Missionary Ridge, a seemingly-minor, yet pivotal battle in the Civil War. The Union victory in that battle paved the way for Sherman to march on to Atlanta. Our speaker pointed out that had the Union been unsuccessful in capturing Atlanta, Lincoln probably would not have won re-election. And that would have changed the outcome of the Civil War.

The point Steven E. wanted to make wasn't really about Civil War history, but rather our tendency to allow cultural norms to obscure our perception or cognizance of important events.

As it happens, Steven E. grew up on Orchard Knob, the site of a small hill where Union troops surprised Confederates and dug in to make victory possible . Yet Steven said he learned nothing about the Battle of Missionary Ridge until he visited a memorial to Ulysses S. Grant in New York City while in grad school.

His point was that the cultural norms identified with the Confederate viewpoint, so the local history did not honor the pivotal Union victory. The importance of the sight was obscured, except to those who were interested in Civil War history.

So Steven encouraged us, as faculty, to keep in mind that we all wear blinders and can fail to notice the seemingly obvious, because we are focused on what we deem important.

As I listened to Steven recount this story, I was struck by how relevant it is to where I want to take this blog as we journey together along the path to health, wealth and wisdom.

Wisdom comes from experience (you'll hear me say this often), but it's not just about experience.

Wisdom comes when we combine experience with the willingness to see what we might not otherwise see. When we see with our hearts, as well as our eyes. When we see with our intuition, not just the stated facts. But we can't simply rely on intuition, either, because our intuitions are usually clouded by cultural norms and expectations.

[Tweet “Wisdom comes when we learn from unexpected experiences:”]

We must remember that we humans tend to see what we want to see. And so we must make a conscious effort to take off our blinders and see the world, the unexpected opportunities and the potential that surrounds us.

If we only see what we expect to see, we lose the blessing of surprise, of serendipity, of the unexpected.

As I finished typing the first section of this post and began to shift to the lessons to learn from this story, I thought of this psychological experiment in selective attention:

Watch the video and leave a comment telling me the number of times the players wearing white pass the basketball:

Categories
Discover Inspire

Are You A Cat In Gloves?

Curiosity.

It all started with earthworms. ‘Erms, I called them.

Or maybe it was a bunny rabbit.

My mother insists that I cannot remember the rabbit. She says I was much too young, not even a year old. I can see the rabbit, in my mind’s eye. Who knows if this a real memory or just my imagination?

It  might've been olives.

My mother says I loved them, even as a toddler. I can’t ever remember a time when I didn’t love olives.

Earthworms, olives and a rabbit. Seemingly disparate, yet revealing a common thread.

I distinctly remember sitting on the edge of a pier grabbing a handful of night crawlers—fishing worms—from a bucket. My great aunt and uncle, Maedru and Tab, were fishing and watching me while my young parents waterskied on Wilson Lake on the Tennessee River. I was curious.

Curiosity.

It’s the core of who I am, my defining character trait.

Curiosity is why I can’t stop learning, why I’m never bored.

In a world where the powers-that-be insist that we play by institutionalized rules and conform to a pre-defined, “normalized” structure, curiosity can be a detriment.

A tiny bit of curiosity is tolerated—they say it shows interest and commitment. But stray across a narrow boundary into a paradigm where silos are ignored and chasms traversed and the curious label will brand you with a mark akin to Hester Pryne’s scarlet letter A.

That’s because curiosity leads to exploration and discovery and makes it possible to connect dots that the less curious are unable or unwilling to see.

Curiosity feeds creativity.

Creative solutions disrupt the status quo.

Those in power like the status quo because in the status quo they wield the power.

Disruption of the status quo means uncertainty and change. And, at least potentially, a change in the power structure. Power brokers allow the reshuffling of deck chairs on the Titanic because it “looks like” creative problem-solving but they always try to squelch real creative solutions. We see this scenario play out repeatedly through faux corporate reengineering, government finance negotiations and academic curriculum revision initiatives.

The demand to normalize and conform to the status quo makes those who are inherently curious and creative problem solvers feel somewhat like Harry Potter confronting the death-eaters.

Curiosity killed the cat.

That’s because the cat was disturbing the status quo.

Think about the context in which that phrase is most often used. It’s when kids are asking too many questions. It has nothing to do with actual cats. It’s a metaphorical statement.

[Tweet “Curiosity killed the cat because the cat was disturbing the status quo.”]

When I was working on my first Ignite Birmingham talk a few years ago I ran across what has become my favorite Ben Franklin aphorism:

A cat in gloves catches no mice.

Meaning:

A cat in gloves is not curious.

A cat in gloves is not brave.

In January of this year, as I continued to reflect on my first 50 years and where I wanted to go in second half of my life, I spent time digging into finding my why. See Simon Sinek if you don't know what I'm talking about.

Everything kept coming back to a sense of wonder, exploration, discovery, driven by my intense curiosity.

I became a lawyer because the Enlightenment and Renaissance-era thinkers that I admired had usually studied law and it seemed to offer a financially-comfortable pathway where I could explore ideas while helping others.

I studied journalism and became a writer because it was a practical opportunity to learn something new through every interview and story.

I became a college professor because I needed to explore, discover and feed my curiosity. I wanted to inspire students and others to become curious and seize the opportunities available to us today.

I became a beekeeper because nature amazes me, inspires me, teaches me.

I teach because I want to inspire others to ask the questions that require answers beyond the superficial explanations and justifications given to keep them/us trapped on a hamster wheel in a false reality feasting on fistfuls of blue pills.

At this point, I find that most people still prefer the blue pill because they believe the status quo offers security and comfort. But I’m optimistic enough to believe that I can lead at least a few others out of the matrix, onto a path to a happy life where we get to discover a new world and a new way, [be]inspired, grow and shine. No pills required.

Are You Curious?

Have you started to wonder if perhaps you are in a matrix designed to numb you into acceptance of your “lot” in life?

Have you let structures, routines, and chores overpower the curiosity you had as a child?

Have you realized something is awry and are looking for change?

Will you join me on the path?

 

Categories
Grow

Don’t Be Brave

When I signed up for Chris Brogan’s Brave New Year course one year ago my primary intent was to learn something about how online courses work.

I had an idea for a course and I figured I’d better take a few courses first, to experience the different ways an online course could be structured. Chris’s Brave course was priced reasonably and seemed to offer content that I’d enjoy.

In hindsight, I think it was something more than happenstance that Chris sent out an email promoting the course the same week as my birthday. Since my birthday is in late November, I always use the Thanksgiving holidays as a time to reflect on the past year, my dreams, where I want to go and where I am on the path. 2012 marked a particularly significant birthday for me.

So I purchased Brave New Year on November 26 and the first module landed in my inbox the morning of my birthday.

And that video from Chris Brogan launched me on a journey that has opened my eyes and expanded my vision for the future beyond anything I’d imagined since I was 25.

I wasn’t really looking for bravery, at least not as it’s typically defined. I’ve always been brave in the face of adversity.

But bravery is about more than steadfastness in the face adversity. As Chris says:

The opposite of bravery is not fear; the opposite of bravery is surrender.

Chris Brogan

Bravery is also about living with your whole-heart. We associate bravery with courage and courage is all about heart. The French word courage is derived from the Latin cor, or heart.

I'd already turned the corner but a few years ago I might have been on the verge of surrendering. And the course turned out to be just what needed to kick-start my visioning for another phase of my life.

As I worked through my birthday and December reflections, aided with the questions raised in Chris's Brave course, I started to realize I'd stopped dreaming big. I was dreaming safe. I was dreaming small. I wasn't really dreaming, I was just following directions for a pre-defined path.

I wasn't following my heart.

Deep down, I already knew this. But the times in my past when I’d ventured forth in pursuit of something bigger, I’d stalled either due to my own missteps, procrastination, (perceived?) lack of resources, or maybe just being ahead of the curve.

What I discovered when I worked through that first hour-long Brave video was a renewed enthusiasm for vision, for a specific vision I’d had since childhood. I could sense how I would weave the colorful threads of past experience into a coat I would wear into a new stage of my life.

As I continued into December 2012 and early January 2013, the vision began to coalesce into something more tangible and I took a few more steps on the path.

This week marks the 52nd week since I began the Brave journey with Chris Brogan.

And my first week as an official Instigator.

The most astonishing thing is that I've come to realize over the past year that everything in my life has happened exactly as it needed to happen to prepare me for what comes next.

In Greek mythology, the Moirai–the three fates–control destiny, subject only to the overriding veto-power of Zeus.

In the same way that Dickens offers us the ghost of Christmas past, present and yet to be, the fates sing of things that were, are and will be.

I don't believe we are resigned to live as puppets in a destiny controlled by some external, all-powerful force.

We spin our threads and weave them into own tapestry by the choices we make, the actions we take.

But I also believe that we are inspired and designed to achieve something greater than our individual selfish desires.

When I was 17, I didn't get something I wanted. What I got was so much better. And in that process I was introduced to the symbol of the distaff. What does that matter, you ask?

The irony is, as I that I began writing this post and doing a bit of Wikipedia fact-checking to verify my memories of Greek and Roman mythology, I discovered a thread of connection.

I discovered the distaff is the symbol of weavers in all ancient mythologies and cultures, as well as the three Moira, the fates.

Is it a coincidence that my grandfather owned a cotton ginning company?

In any event, I make the connections because I'm writing my story.

To quote Chris Brogan again:

You are the author of what's coming next.

Another way to put it: You are the one who weaves the tapestry of your life.

[Tweet “”You are the author of what's coming next” says @ChrisBrogan “]

We need to be brave if we're going to weave an original tapestry.

If you want to be brave, you must have courage. You must have heart. You must have love. Because courage comes from love. And as I say in thesis one of my Happy Life Manifesto: It all starts with love.

 

Over the next few days I'll be sharing some of what I've been working on for the past year, some of what I envision. To be quite honest, some of the details are still a bit nebulous and are unfolding day-by-day.

I'm the author of my story, the weaver of my tapestry, but I don't yet know the ending.

Lesson: Don't seek to be brave if you want to dream to small.

What about you? How's your heart?

What story are you weaving out of the threads of your life? Leave a comment below and lets start a conversation.

And if you're interested in the Brave New Year course you can sign up here. (affiliate link). Chris is offering a 55% discount through December 2, 2013. Use the code OWNIT (case sensitive). Here's where I explain affiliate links, if you aren't familiar with this concept.

 

Categories
Grow

Musings At The End Of A Tough Day

Every challenge is an opportunity for growth. Today was a challenging day.

Yesterday was a great day. Life in balance, I suppose.

Even knowing that I only need to endure for a season (or two), doesn't make the challenge any more pleasant. I will focus on the good.

I am grateful to have a cat stretched across the arm of my sofa as I type.

I am grateful that one year ago my parents agreed to allow a large, stray yellow Lab to stick around.

We named him Shine.  My birthday present. He is just like Bama.

I am grateful for a medium-sized red haired tornado survivor and scamp dog, Penny. She's such a sweet little rat.

I miss Penny and Shine right now. They've been at the farm for several months, because I haven't had the time to care for them this fall. Selling my time for dollars. For a season.

I am grateful for my honeybees and all they've shown me this year. And the land where I can provide shelter and sustenance for them.

I am grateful that I chose to apply for The Instigator Experience and was accepted and chose myself to attend. My birthday present to myself this year.

I'm about to instigate something big. Get ready. I am grateful for the future I'm about to create.

I am grateful for the pumpkin pie I made last night from pumpkin I grew myself. And the delicious, healthy organic milk from Working Cows Dairy, where cows get to be cows, not industrial output devices.

I am grateful for a little black cat I rescued and named Friend.

I am grateful for Dali, another rescued cat—he's the best cat ever. And Nicholas, the dog that came on Christmas Eve.

I am grateful to have had a grandmother who instilled in me a deep love for nature and animals. She would have celebrated her 100th birthday this week, but she left us in 2003. I am grateful for my other grandmother–probably the wisest person I've ever known. She died in 1982 at the age of 60, taken by the scourge of cancer.

I am grateful for wonderful neighbors and a little house that I love.

I am grateful for my family.

I am grateful for a vision and the gifts to make that vision a reality.

I am grateful for the opportunity to be the change I want to see.

Will you join me?

 

Categories
Grow Inspire

Happy Life Manifesto: 19-30

Last week I introduced what I'm calling The Path to a Happy Life when I published the first draft of an introduction to the Happy Life Manifesto.

Then, two days ago, I published Theses 1 – 19.

Today, I give you Theses 19 – 30. I'm repeating Thesis 19, just to establish continuity.

19. Security is an illusion.

20.  Faith destroys fear.

21. Action is evidence of faith.

22. Action = effort.

23. You can only control the quality and quantity of your effort.

24. You cannot control how your efforts are received.

25. You cannot control anyone else.

26. You do not control the results.

27. Action requires energy.

28. Energy depends on health.

29. Health has physical and spiritual elements.

30. The quality of the food you eat directly shapes your health.

I'll be commenting more on these later.

Writing yesterday's post: Transcend & Transform on top of a super-busy week at work just knocked the wind out of me. But I'm committed to publishing a new, useful post every day this month. So I hope you find today's excerpt from the Happy Life Manifesto to be somewhat useful, even in skeleton form.

I'd love to hear from you. Do you identify with one of these tenets?  Why or why not?

 

Categories
Grow

Life Is Not A Spectator Sport

I used to be a hard-core college football fan. I would spend hours each week, reading detailed analyses of games, forecasts, recruiting. And then I spent the better part of one day each week watching games, sometimes in person, sometimes on TV.

I also enjoyed watching other sports. Winter snow skiing. Tennis. Figure Skating. Baseball. Sometimes I watched pro football—mainly the Packers, Patriots or Buffalo, if they were playing in the snow.

But college football was my big time-sink.

By 1994, I knew that writing and media content creation is a big part of who I am. I was getting up at 4 or 5 a.m. to work on a screenplay and starting to explore freelance writing, while continuing to practice law. But it was slow-going. I wanted faster progress. I felt like time was getting away from me.

One Sunday afternoon, after spending the entire day reading every article in two newspapers dissecting the previous day's college football games and watching recap shows on ESPN, I had a lightbulb moment.

I was not living life. I was reading about someone else's.

And so I stopped, cold-turkey.

I've never read another sports news story since then. Nothing. Nada. Even though my beloved Crimson Tide has experienced the best of times and and the worst of times in the nearly 20 years since then, I've never read about a game, a crisis, or a championship. I've seen the headlines and magazine cover photos, but I've never read the stories.

Around that same time I also stopped reading People, US Weekly and similar magazines.

The less media I consumed, the more I could create. And read. And do.

I finished my screenplay and sold a few freelance stories. I started a novel.

I ran every day. Went out to dinner with friends. Traveled more. Attended plays, in person, not mediated by a screen.

When the internet became a pervasive source for news and frivolity (as opposed to the static web pages of the mid 90s), I was tempted occasionally by the celebrity gossip stories that would appear with a title, a photo and a teaser. But I've mostly never clicked. Maybe 20 times in 10 years.

During those years, I spent time in forums, interacting with people and making new friends. I taught myself HTML and learned to build websites and published the content I created. I had a good run as a freelance writer, for a while.

For 3 years I had a cool website with a two main sections: One devoted to the Go-Go's and one devoted to The Avengers and Diana Rigg. You can see it via the Internet archive: tsmmedia.com. Some of it was more curated and celebrity-focused than I would have liked, but I was creating, rather than consuming. I didn't call it a blog because that term was not as ubiquitous as today. But I updated it my site nearly every day with photos, quotes and news that I found or that friends shared with me. I used iMovie to create Quicktime videos which I posted on my website. This was before YouTube.

To economize in the mid-2000s, I went without cable TV for a year or so. That broke me from network sitcoms and dramas. When I got TV again, I just watched news, documentaries and stuff like Food Network.

Then I moved into a neighborhood where DirectTV wasn't an option and I couldn't get Comcast to show up for an appointment, so I just went without TV for another year. And I discovered that I was much less anxious about the state of the economy in than I had been when I was constantly watching cable news.

A few years ago, I moved again and returned to DirecTV. I discovered that I no longer cared much anymore about watching TV. I tried. Kept the service going for 2 years. But it mostly served as background noise.

I'd filled the years without TV by reading and writing and running and hiking and growing things and cooking.

And getting reacquainted with myself.

In the years without TV, my mental clarity started to return and I really honed in on where I wanted to go with my life. I found that mindless television, even in the background, was a way to escape from my life, not design and live it.

Before I gave up cable TV the second time, I'd already stopped watching televised sports. That happened as a result of the transition from college sports and college sports media as something reasonably related to athletics to an industry driven mainly by ratings hype and profit opportunities. Nothing wrong with quality and profit, but today televised college sports is more of a Disney World spectacle or reality TV sideshow. I love the game and the strategy.

I prefer reality, not reality TV.

[Tweet “Choose reality, not reality TV.”]

Just over a year ago, I canceled DirecTV again. I've never missed it. I'd barely watched any TV in the previous year. So-called “news” on cable TV had turned into reality-TV with a political spin.

In the past few years without regular cable TV, I've reignited my passion for writing. I've explored my life's vision and purpose and charted the common themes.

Media is one of those common themes and media has always been a huge part of my life, but as a creator and engager, not a consumer.

I still watch movies, documentaries, YouTube. But not passively. Not to escape or daydream.

 I consume with purpose: I watch to learn, to be inspired, to improve a skill, to laugh.

Jackie Robinson once said:

Life is not a spectator sport.

Are you in the game?

Or just watching?

I'd love to hear your thoughts. Leave me a comment below. Let's start a conversation about rising about a mere consumer culture into action and doing.

[Tweet “Life is not a spectator sport.”]

Categories
Grow

The Patience Discipline

Patience has never been my strong suit.

About 8 or 9 years ago, I reached a point where I began to realize that my lack of patience was not a virtue. Furthermore, I'd begun to realize that I was approaching every situation based on my needs, my wants.

In other words, I had been making most everything all about me.

Around that time I was reading The Rule of St. Benedict and similar books, so maybe my realization was triggered by St. Benedict's philosophy and teachings.

Or it may have been due to a certain dog and cat that had recently come into my life. They had already changed my outlook in ways I'd never anticipated.

In any event, I distinctly remember standing in one of those endless lines at Walmart—not a store that I enjoy shopping but the town I lived in at the time had limited shopping choice and so a weekly trip to Walmart was a necessity.

It was taking forever. One of those times when you're in line with a check-writer and someone else who needs a sale override because some item didn't ring up at the anticipated price and then another someone else who held up the line because we had to wait on a friend to come back with one last item. Stuff like that. Those situations happened so often at this particular store that once I'd put my items up and left without my purchase, just on principle.

But this time, I suddenly realized that my impatience was saying a whole lot more about me than about the shortcomings of these others who were not performing according my wishes.

Something prompted me to ask a silent blessing on the person in front of me who was “inconveniencing” me.

And so I did.

And in that act of asking that this stranger receive a blessing, the whole situation changed. I changed.

Love is patient.

And so began my discipline of seeking a blessing for each person or situation that triggered impatience or annoyed me in some way.

This discipline brought me into the moment and forced an awareness and acceptance that my response was the issue, not the other person's “perceived” shortcoming.

Turns out it WAS all about me, but not in a good way.

At first, I was asking for a lot of blessings on other people. But my ability and willingness to extend patience increased rapidly. I found that I no longer felt annoyed at others when the situation wasn't working out according to my expectations.

I'm still not perfectly patient, and I abhor wasting valuable time. But now, even when I'm in a time-sink meeting I'll often stop and force myself to ask a blessing on the meeting perpetrator. And that's usually enough to allow me to turn my mental energy toward something useful or meditative, even as I sit in the meeting.

I've made immense progress and right effort is what it's all about. What's cool is that I've found that I'm rarely losing my patience with others. So now I try to remember to silently ask a blessing on some other person I encounter, at least once day.

We're all in this together.

And it starts with love.

[Tweet “We are all in this together. And we must start with love.”]

 

 

Categories
Inspire

Happy Life, Part 1

Earlier this year I began writing the Happy Life Manifesto. I intended to turn it into a Kindle book. Probably still will. But I feel like sharing a portion of it here, now.

So the rest of this post is from the original unedited, first draft of the intro to my manuscript for the Happy Life Manifesto, written in February 2013:

Happiness is a feeling of satisfaction, contentment and joy that comes from our WHOLE life, a life in which all the important pieces are integrated. If one piece of our life is out of balance for more than a brief period of time our life starts to disintegrate.

Imagine a pitcher of water. If the pitcher starts to crack, even a hairline crack leads to seepage.

Imagine a ball that's filled with water. If hairline crack or pinpoint puncture appears, the water will start to seep out. Eventually, the ball will collapse.

Imagine a balloon that's fully inflated. A tiny pinprick lets the air leak out.

That's disintegration.

We need to fill our lives, our pitchers, with certain things. These things are like links in a chain. But they are iterative and connected. They do not exist in chronological order. The absence of any one will ultimately lead to disintegration.

We need to do work that matters: Industry/Vocation/Calling

We need Community/Relationships/Family

We need a spiritiual connection, for me Christ.

We need health, which is built on three pillars:

Real Food

Movement (Exercise)

Rest

We need nature.

Recreation. Re-creation. Creation. See: nature.

Growth: No growth means atrophy. We much be challenged. If we stop learning, growing we will die.

Example: If our cells stop reproducing we will die physically.

Example: If our brains are no longer challenged, the cells shrivel and we lose mental faculties.

Example: If we don't work our physical body, our muscles atrophy and we die.

We are either growing or we are dying.

We need to be challenged. This is discovery + action.

Calling: Purpose

Connection: Spiritual & Relationships

Commitment: Community

Change: Growth

Discover. Inspire. Grow. Shine.

 

Are you with me? I hope so. I'd love to hear from you. Leave a comment below and share your notions of happiness and what makes a happy life.