Eye see it

Life lesson:  You go where your eyes go.

It was a hot day, miserable in fact. The road was radiating heat like a red hot engine overheating on a summer’s day. I was that guy outside on a jog soaking up the heat like someone who has lost their mind. I swear I saw buzzards circling! Next thing I noticed my eyes were gazing down, looking at my feet, counting the cracks in the sidewalk. What followed is illustrative, my posture began to slump, my steps became harder and my breath got shorter. In short, my running got harder because my eyes changed what they were fixed on. I became aware of this and changed my focus for just a moment. I lifted my eyes towards a fixed point in the distance and my entire posture, gaze, and breath changed for the better. The only thing in my circumstances that changed was my focus.

You go where your eyes go.

Want to change your life?

Change your focus.

Step 1: Take a moment at each meal of the day to simply think about what you have been focusing on.

Step 2: If your focus is misdirected, willfully change it.

Step 3: If distraction is common then place a visual reminder such as a photo, or a word, heck get a tattoo!

 

Root Deep Living

I LOVE “likes”!

I was glaring at my screen eyes wide open scanning for the red notification that I have received a new “like”. I saw the beautiful red number that indicated that yet another human or computer somewhere out in the universe saw my work as worthy enough to attribute the click of the “like” button. See what I just did there? I prescribed significance and meaning to getting “likes” on my social network. Know what happened in my brain when I saw this red notification? My brain lit up like a Christmas tree in the rewards center. A shot of dopamine (the neurotransmitter responsible for pleasure), pulsated through my system causing my brain to smile BIG.

I just explained the anatomy of addiction!

At the very core of my functioning, I was rewarding myself by searching for “likes”. And just think, I haven’t even watched the popular Netflix documentary about this very thing. I am admitting my vulnerability to being addicted to the “like” button. How about you? Do you find yourself surfing searching for the newest response to your post? Are you hungry for the next comment on your selfie or blog post or video? We are people who are searching for the next HIT of dopamine whether it comes in tiny doses the size of an M&M or in huge doses such as personal praise or rewards. We are becoming mice in B.F. Skinner’s test labs where he created the theory of Behaviorism, this theory is rooted in the belief that we have NO FREE WILL and are only a product of rewards either positive or negative. Are we ok with being reduced to a series of rewards that influence our next actions? Are YOU ok with this?

What is my counselor’s take on all of this?

I believe that earlier and earlier we are introducing electronic devices to children where their reward center of the brain lights up much more frequently than it is designed to. With our young brains lighting up so frequently it begins to develop shallow root systems. The trees grow tall but the roots grow shallow. What does this mean? It means that as soon as something hard comes into the life of the young person they fall over because their brain can’t handle the stress.

What about you and me?

Our roots are getting more shallow as well. When the root system in our adult brains gets shallow, the smallest stress can topple us over like a live oak in wet weather with a gust of wind. Don’t believe me? Look no further than the year 2020 when Coronvirus hit our nation and world. One of the biggest results of Covid has been a massive toppling over of our trees. The absolute highest intellectual minds in science and medicine have been toppled over which has trickled down to the general public. Guess what our response was? BUY MORE TOILET PAPER!!!!!! Seems to me we have toppled our trees.

So what and now what?

We have a problem. More than ever we need to take the time to be aware of what we are doing to our brains and begin to make the choices (you have free will) to choose to deepen our roots.

Here are some root deepening exercises we can all begin to practice to deepen the roots of our brain.

  1. Put your device down and take a 15-minute walk. Notice the beauty around you, the rustling of the wind through the trees, the sound of the birds as they sing. Feel the warmth of the sun on your skin.
  2. Put your device down and choose to be very interested in someone else. Dale Carnegie is famous for teaching us How to Win Friends and Influence People. One of the key point’s Carnegie made is to be very interested in other people. Get them talking. It’s amazing how much more people will like you if you become very interested in them.
  3. Close your eyes and imagine God. The leading Neuropsychologists and scientists have found that when people are hooked up to brain imaging machines where we can see the activity of the brain in real-time, it shows that our brains light up like a Christmas tree when we simply think of God. I don’t know what your faith lies in, but may I invite you to imagine the God of the Bible?
  4. Smile often. Smiling releases happy chemicals through your body. Go ahead and try it! Try frowning, it takes more muscles to frown than to smile.
  5. Live with your palms up. It has been said it is impossible to be angry with someone if your palms are up. Try to be angry with your palms open facing upward. Now ball up your fists. See the difference?

In conclusion:

We have the opportunity to be deeply rooted as we lead the next generation towards their future. Unlike Skinner, I believe we have absolute choices, God doesn’t make us mice rather we are complex intricate humans made in the likeness of a creator God who loves us and designed us for JOY! If you will take these ideas and put them into practice you will produce fruit that will impact the next generations to come.

Let’s go deepen our roots!

How’s your swing?

“If you think you are going to hit a home run with every pitch you are mistaken.”

I was discouraged this morning, the writing tank was empty yet there were plenty of ideas. I had time to write yet the process was not producing fruit. Some of my frustration could be found in the quote above namely that at times I am my own worst enemy when seeking to accomplish something. Ideas are like pitches and I keep swinging for a home run. As I type this my mindset is to simply make contact with the ball and see where it goes. There is much more freedom in the realistic expectation.

I wonder how many of us are hung up with unrealistic expectations in our lives?

I think back to one of my favorite movies, Christmas Vacation, where Clark Griswald suffers from unrealistic expectations at Christmas time. He got so wound up with his expectations that he kicked over into a mode where he grabbed a chainsaw and began thrashing away at his problems…..a CHAINSAW! I’m ashamed to admit that I am a chainsaw wielder at times as well. Man, I can get so wound up that I go to a thrashing mode and anything that gets in my way gets hacked and whacked with my chainsaw.

The next time you feel the crazed manic mood come over you, check your expectations about what is going on.

Are you striking out because you are swinging for a home run? Are your expectations in line with a daily life lived with curveballs, knucklers, and fast pitches? Do yourself a favor, read the pitch, and adjust your swing accordingly. What does this look like practically? For me, I simply identified that the pitch coming my way came in the form of ideas to write about. I expected to write the next best blog that would go viral and change the world! My swing didn’t match the pitch because the pitch coming at me were base hit balls. My job is to swing and make contact. This blog entry is the result of slowing down my swing to match the pitch.

How’s your swing?

Own your cup

It was a blissful morning right around 8:30 with a cool breeze, cerulean blue skies, and a whisp of whimsy floating in the air. The sound flowing through my car audio was the sound of the Bible being read aloud. Life was filling my reservoirs. The reading was followed by a passionate prayer to take on the day. I stepped out of the car and gave a long well-deserved stretch with arms to the sky with a smile inside like a full glass of water ready to quench the thirst of the day. I stepped towards my mission, to encourage 80 workers at a workplace. I was working as a chaplain caregiver to workplaces where I would walk through and offer a word of encouragement and offer care for those who needed it. I strutted up the stairs and threw open the workplace door to find the first recipient of my full cup. I extended my hand with an enthusiastic greeting that invited the person to share. They shared, and shared, and shared, and complained, and rambled, and dumped, and drained. At the end of about 10 minutes, my full overflowing cup was now depleted halfway. I still had 79 people to go and my cup was half drained. With the endurance of a runner, I quickly gathered my stamina and shook off the depletion of the first of 79 miles of running. I grabbed a quick breath of air and walked to my next person to encourage. This person was full of joy and fulfillment. Like an artesian spring, my cup began to overflow with words of energy, encouragement, life, and hope.

Can you relate to my story? Ever walk into work full from the weekend only to be met by a notice on your desk that says, “SEE ME” from your boss? How about the phone ringing first thing with news that your wife has a flat tire and YOU are the only one who can change it? You check the balance of the bank account only to notice that there are purchases from a state you don’t live in for things you didn’t buy! What happens to all of us is usually a state of inner freak out followed by choice words then quickened action to put out the fire or squash the problem or better yet face the music. We can show up as full as an overeating bullfrog yet can be drained within a matter of minutes!

We all have an invisible cup inside. Our cup is either full, empty, or somewhere in between. It is extremely important for you to know you have a cup and for you to know what level your cup is at. The level of your cup determines your ability to function at a high level with optimal efficiency and vision or at a low level with an inability to see yourself or your situation. To be clear, your cup determines your ability to see the world around you accurately and to see yourself in this world. It is a big deal to be able to see accurately. Imagine you are a pilot flying a plane full of people yet have zero visibility. Zero visibility is super scary! Here’s the point, you are that pilot and you are leading your family, or you are leading yourself, maybe you are in charge of a business or a group of people. Zero visibility is not only scary it can lead to bad results quickly. Being able to see accurately is vital to life and living yet with an empty cup your vision leaves making you dependant upon air traffic control (if you are lucky) or dependant upon your instincts to fly with zero vision.

The opposite effect is just as powerful, a full cup gives you crystal clear vision with an ability to see super clear. Have you ever been at 10,000 feet on a clear day? This is life with a full cup. You can see for miles and miles. With a full cup, you can’t miss! Your instincts are sharp, your vision is good, stamina is high and relationships are easy! Why would we ever settle for a drained cup? The problem is most of us are drained and don’t even know it.

Here’s what I want you to do. First, I want you to identify the fact that you and I have this invisible cup inside. Understand that this cup is paramount to your ability to see and to function at a high level. Second, I want you to be able to identify what level your cup is at. If your level is high you are functioning at an optimal level, if it is low you are probably struggling with problems you can’t even make out clearly. Third, I want you to practice owning your cup and ensuring that it is full. Take responsibility for your own well being, make choices to ensure your cup is at the highest level possible. Fourth, I want you to make it your goal to identify the level of those around you, at work, home, at the dinner table. If your kids are acting up I guarantee their cup is empty. If an employee is not performing at an optimal level, find out what is draining their cup.

Imagine yourself showing up on Monday morning with a full cup rather than an empty one. Better yet imagine showing up at the end of the day and being able to identify your spouse’s cup level or your kid’s cup level. Armed with this new ability you can win wherever you are whatever stage of life you are in. Don’t believe me? I challenge you to test this out. Answer these simple questions: How full is your cup right now? What can you do to fill your cup? How can you be a cup filler for others?

Go change the world by owning your cup!

 

F.O.M.O. (fear of missing out)

The more advanced we become the more necessary it is to keep it simple. Take social media. What an amazing advancement in communication and connecting. The problem is, we are now seeing an entire generation that are growing up with devices in their hands yet more unhappy than ever before. One of the new acronyms I just learned is called FOMO or fear of missing out. Defined, FOMO means, “The state of mental or emotional strain caused by the fear of missing out.” This is the feeling we get inside that everyone else is having a blast with their life while I’m home without a clue or a plan to enjoy it.

Hold the phone! Google this, I’m not making it up! We are growing more unhappy because of a fear of missing out on a life that is happening somewhere else except in my world. Screen activity fans the flames of this fear. Basically the more we live life behind a screen, smart phone, tablet, t.v. computer etc. game system, the more unhappy we become.

What is a reasonable strategy for battling F.O.M.O.? The solution is quite simple, balance. A 50/50 balance of screen time vs real-time is a good place to start.

  • Pay attention to what you are paying attention to.
  • How much time you are spending behind the screen?
  • Write down your daily time behind the screen.
  • If you believe you are spending too much time behind the screen, step away and carve out time away from it.
  • Do more things that make you forget to check your phone.

The screen is not the enemy, too much of the screen is.

Pardon the mess!

“End of Construction-Thank you for your Patience”

We are all under construction.

Construction is complete when we die.

Until then show some grace to others including yourself.

Construction is messy!

It is dangerous to believe you are the only one with a mess. 

We are ALL under construction.

When we believe we are all in process we treat others nicer. 

Application:

Next time you get angry or frustrated with someone else, remember they are under construction.

Kill the cul-de-sac 

Cul-de-sacs stunt growth.

To kill the cul-de-sac you have to go back to the beginning to start again.

Sometimes reverse is progress.

Cul-de-sacs frustrate the one driving and makes passengers car sick.

Cul-de-sacs exist so you will not stay there.

Choose to exit the cul-de-sac the way you came in and get back on the road of life.

Application:

Have you ever experienced the round and round experience of a cul-de-sac? I see this most often in workplaces where people are frustrated by the exact same problems everyday. Relationships are a breeding ground for cul-de-sacs as well. Share a time when you were caught in a cul-de-sac and explain how you got out.

Conspiracy Monster

“In the absence of information conspiracies abound.” -Brene’ Brown

There is a little monster inside of us called the conspiracy monster. This little creature lives between your ears and roars things that aren’t true. The effects of the conspiracy monster are far-reaching from the classroom to the boardroom and even the bedroom. The conspiracy monster feeds on bits of information with much room for interpretation. A wild conspiracy monster can ruin your life. 

The conspiracy monster feeds on social media. When we view a picture-perfect family it is easy to be overcome with a myriad of thoughts most of which are completely untrue. When we feed on these untrue thoughts they serve as food for conspiracies only fueling the monster that lives in each of us. The worse part is when we behave out of the conspiracy. We might act impulsively and spend money where we don’t need to because we feel the need to be more active like that perfect family, (chomp, chomp) the monster eats your checkbook. Or we begin to dislike our lives because they seem to be so boring (chomp, chomp) there goes your contentment.

How do we identify and defeat the conspiracy monster? First, you are halfway by believing the conspiracy monster exists. Second, you need to filter events that happen in your life through the truth filter. If you hear the monster chomping, press pause and ask one question, what is true about this event right now? The truth of an event frees you from the grip of the conspiracy monster. Better yet, the truth of an event frees you to behave out of that truth. When we behave out of truth we live with significance and contentment.

Application:

Have you been allowing the monster to eat you alive? What can you do to filter the conspiracies thrown your way?

Here are a few suggestions:

  1. View social media with the belief that what you are seeing isn’t THE TRUTH but a version of a person’s truth. Filter hard.
  2. When a person shares a victory in their life, pause, kill the monster, and genuinely celebrate with them.
  3. When information is scarce regarding a circumstance or life event, gather facts like a detective before permitting yourself to behave out of the limited intel.
  4. Fill your life with truth statements, factual truths that pertain to you. The Bible is a tremendous source of solid truth about who you are.
  5. Share these ideas with others.

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