I closed my eyes for my meditation practice but his time, instead of breath work and centering myself, I tried something different.
I went back to a memory of myself as a teenager and I pulled out a vision of a room in my house during that time of my life. It was an addition we added to the house. There was a couch up against the wall I used to sit on often. I honed in on that spot.
Then, it got a bit weird.
I sat with him. Well, him being me. Although a much younger version.
My current self sitting across from my teenage self.
That young, nieve, scared, confused young man looking back at me.
And we talked.
I told him being scared means you care. It means you believe in what you are doing but haven’t mustered up the courage to act.
I told him that the bridge you have to cross to gain courage is a leap of faith. It’s where confidence builds and strength comes from.
I told him that even at my age, you won’t have all the answers and in fact, many more questions.
We talked about a lot of things.
He even questioned me.
It was sobering.
It made me realize I still have work to do.
Self-reflection is one of the most generous actions we can take for ourselves. We turn inward to learn where we’ve come from and it helps us build the foundation for a better tomorrow.
You may not go deep into your past and talk to your younger self but sitting for a few minutes each day with your eyes closed will help you grow to appreciate the moment.
Give yourself that time to reflect as it’ll compound into something unimaginable.
We uncover neat experiences.
We discover new opportunities
We are wowed by new people.
Unfortunately, one of the more difficult things in life is to accept that these don’t always last.
That although we might create great memories, these moments pass by.
That shouldn’t make us sad. It should give us hope.
Hope that more will be around the next bend.
Hope that we will continue to recognize these as they present themselves.
Hope that as we grow so will the value of the experiences, opportunities, and people we encounter.
We could be sad that the moments are ending or we could be grateful that we had them at all.
We choose our path. What happens on it is sometimes out of our control.
All we can do is embrace the moments that come our way because we never know how long we have them.
We’ve all had more “failed” relationships than we can count.
Friendships are no longer intact.
Business partnerships split.
Divorce and Break-ups.
It’s happened throughout our lives and emotionally those take a toll on us.
But, there is a silver lining to all of it.
If we are willing we can gain a positive perspective and take away gifts.
Although those relationships have soured, the gifts that have come out of them might make a world of difference in our future.
We are more thoughtful about what we want and don’t settle for mediocrity any longer.
We are more decisive about our actions and don’t waiver.
We are more grateful for the opportunities that arose out of the ashes.
I’ve had many gifts that have come out of relationships that haven’t worked out.
Most of life’s pain comes from how we thought it should be or that it didn’t work out as planned.
But what if it actually did?
Sometimes we can be the worst judge of a situation when we are in the moment but when we step back away from it, as time goes on, we begin to realize it was a moment that changed us for the better.
We become grateful for the uncomfortable and painful moments because they are actually what we needed to grow.
It’s all a shift in mindset. It’s not easy. Of course, it’s not easy.
But our mindset controls everything. We have a positive mindset when things are going our way, so why can’t we take that same perspective when they aren’t?
I know why. Because it battles every part of our being that was instilled as a child. We have to be upset, get emotional, or feel depressed when anything goes against what we thought should happen. We witnessed this countless times in our life. It has been programmed. It’s on autopilot now.
But that’s not how it has to be.
We have one life. One very complex weird ever-changing life where we happened to get into this body. We are conscious beings and one of the downsides of that can be that we feel deep emotions, attachments, memories, or aspirations. It can work in our favor or not. We choose.
We can remember the past and project into the future.
But all that matters is now. All that matters is how we handle the situation we are in now. The future will take care of itself when we get there.
So, for now, instead of losing our shit in one situation or another it might be helpful to remember that we’ve been wrong a lot about bad moments. Out of that despair came a new opportunity, a new relationship, and new learning. All positives are on the backside of a bad situation.
It happens to us countless times but our old way of thinking forgets. It only remembers that bad moment’s equal depression and struggle. It rarely remembers that there is hope and opportunity from all of it.
That’s the mindset we need to take into it.
Is it going to be hard? You bet.
Is it going to be painful? You’re damn right.
Is it going to test us? Fuck yea.
But our positive perspective will dig us out of it much faster and with newfound hope for tomorrow.
It’s not about being easy, life isn’t easy.
It’s about being hard, and managing our way to a better spot.
What can be seen as a negative can also be seen as a positive?
“Ugh, the elevator is broken, now I have to climb six flights of stairs” can be flipped around just as easily to “Hey, the elevator is broken, I’ll at least get a little workout in as I climb these six flights of stairs.”
The way we perceive our situation and the world around us influences how we think. If we want to complain, there are many things to complain about. If we want to be grateful, there are the same amount of opportunities for that as well.
How many times would we sit idle in class when the teacher asked if there were any questions only because we didn’t want to be the one who looked like we didn’t understand?
We assumed if nobody else raised their hands then we were the only incompetent ones.
Our conditioning at the time blinded our thinking.
Don’t show weakness.
Stand your ground.
Don’t let them see you sweat.
These phrases were ever-present in our adolescent years and they brought anxiety and fear into our decisions.
Better say nothing at all than be the laughing stock for the day.
We all now realize that was a fallacy.
Vulnerability is not a weakness.
Emotions are not a weakness.
Asking for help is not a weakness.
They tend to be the opposite. Having the courage to show up this way means that we have gotten comfortable with who we are as a person and the scrutiny and judgment don’t affect us as much, if at all, anymore.
That’s a sweet spot to be in. That is when courage builds into confidence.
That’s when we get to the point where we raise our hands from the back of the class. Not only because we are curious about the answer but because we know many others are as well.
If you’ve come across this blog then chances are with all the hardships in life yours isn’t that bad.
Chances are you have access to high-speed internet or 5G.
Chances are your phone was made sometime in the last handful of years and would be considered “smart”.
Chances are you have warm clothes on if there is a hint of a crisp morning outside.
Chances are when you arrive at work today it’ll be in the car you drove in or just a short few steps away from where you rolled out of bed.
Chances are, if you have kids, when you drop them off at school you are almost certain without worry you’ll pick them up safe and sound in the afternoon.
There is a good chance that your life (and mine) is a heck of a lot easier and more comfortable than a large majority of the world’s population. Probably 99% of it.
Yet, with that comfort also comes a barrier.
A barrier to let things go, seemingly meaningless things, that have almost zero effect on our lives.
A barrier to be patient and wait our turn instead of getting frustrated and causing a scene.
A barrier to thinking about how lucky we are to be in this position in the first place and cherish the hand we were dealt.
A barrier to enduring discomfort. Something the majority of the world has to live with every day.
We are fortunate for the opportunities we have and it’s important from time to time to call those out, head-on, in order to help us lead lives worth meaning and purpose instead of complaining and finger-pointing.
There are greater tragedies in life and many of them we are grateful to never have to think about.
We will continue to be pressed with tough situations, unsolicited advice, less than favorable reviews, and chatter from the people in the stands.
We must always remember that if we are willing to take the risk of being ourselves and putting it out into the world then this will be part of the process. We have to weather the cloud of negativity and judgment that can often hang over us.
As Teddy Roosevelt said. “…if he fails, at least fails while daring greatly, so that his place shall never be with those cold and timid souls who neither know victory nor defeat.” (Read the full Main in the Arena speech here)
In a way, we need that storm to come. It proves to us the importance of our mission and nothing will stop us. It gives us the chance to believe in a better tomorrow and gives us hope. It lets us know that not everyone is willing to make the sacrifice and our mission is worthy.
Be brave. Be bold. Believe in the good we can put out in the world.
In the end, there will be people looking out the window and cursing the storm and others who are out there splashing in the puddles.
We have to ask ourselves, “Which person do we want to become?”
It’s been 3 years since my wife and I got divorced. Funny how that much time has passed. Funny to think what we could’ve changed to make it work.
A lot of things for sure.
But, then again, it was probably the right decision. We were both unhappy.
Why stay in something that you are “lukewarm” about, at best?
But that’s what we do as humans. We sort of just settle in for what feels comfortable. We do whatever we can to hold the walls up around us in order to eliminate the abrupt pain of it all caving in at once.
We fail to recognize that having the walls cave in can allow us to rebuild a stronger foundation from the ground up. We can create a more solid structure that is long-lasting.
It doesn’t mean we have to run from every bad situation but it could mean that we have to take a hard look inward on why this is happening in the first place.
What have we done to get here? What have we done to cause this situation? What has been out of our control? How can we change for the better?
Change is really hard. I remember the time between getting “separated” and then actually leaving the house we built together. Those 5 weeks transitioning to leave the house and officially, by legal standards, become separated were brutal.
I cried a lot.
I was heartbroken.
I was depressed.
I was sad.
But then, I wasn’t.
Sure, I can be sad that we weren’t madly in love like many years prior. I can be sad that our son has to be a part of a co-parenting situation. I can be sad that the happy moments we had together would be clouded by this decision we made.
But that’s all a matter of perspective. I had the choice to be happy or sad.
So I chose to be happy.
Everything ends at some point. That’s the rub of life. It all eventually ends. Our situation ended just a bit more abruptly than originally planned. Our story just took a different direction down the wandering path.
But, I’m happy I had those moments with her. I was madly in love, and I know she was, too.
I’m happy my son gets to spend time with each of us individually and grow a stronger bond. He gets to grow up going through some shit. That’s only going to make him more resilient.
I’m happy with all those moments of happiness, laughter, and fun we had together. We had some great times. But I’m also happy for the less-than-desirable moments, too. Because, as I reflect, it’s made me grow as a person and be a better version of myself. Unfortunately, sometimes we have to go through hard times to figure that stuff out.
Life is never easy but if I’ve learned anything it’s that negativity and pessimism almost get you nowhere. I’m sure someone can tell me there is some utility to it but not much that I’ve seen.
If we can take every situation, no matter how dire, and work our way to see the sunshine and rainbows then we have a much better chance of finding the happiness inside ourselves and using that as fuel to power us forward.
It’s hard to get there when we think the world is always giving us a bad hand to play.
Once we accept that we may not have played the hand correctly then it can make it much easier to respect the outcome and move on.
It doesn’t mean we forget about the past as those moments and experiences helped define who we are, good or bad. But it gives us the opportunity to use those moments and learn from them.
We have the opportunity to start anew. Not from square one but from much farther ahead because of the wealth of knowledge we’ve gained through all of it.
Be open to change. Be receptive to it. Embrace it.
Life is random and unexpected. Things happen that can be extremely magical at times and can make us more fulfilled than we ever expected.
But we can’t take those moments for granted.
We have to be grateful for the entire path of uncertainty that led us to this point. We have to drop the ego.
If we believe we are the sole contributor to this “success” then we become shortsighted with how much luck was involved. We, therefore, miss out on the golden opportunity to gain perspective that we are incredibly lucky to even be in this position in the first place.
Being in the right place at the right time. Other decisions in the past led us down this path (a breakup, getting laid off, etc). Swiping in the right direction.
Most of it is luck.
The timing is lucky.
Serendipity plays a big part in our journey.
By using gratitude as a tool to open up opportunities, we start building a great foundation to base decisions on knowing that inevitably a “roll of the dice” will come into play.
If it’s in our favor, we can be thankful for the opportunity. If it’s not, we can recognize that not everything will go our way and there will be many times we can’t control the outcome.
We must stay positive for the future and await the next spin of the wheel.
We become disappointed when others are not as excited about our accomplishments as we are. We didn’t get enough likes or shares or engagement. We can let it get to our heads and change our mood, even in the midst of the accomplishment that might have been really important for us.
But, we have to remember, when others accomplish something, how often are we to compliment them, hit the simple “like” button as we are scrolling, leave a comment, etc? If we aren’t doing this often then why should we expect others to?
Getting really good at not needing the outside praise can do wonders for our psyche and it starts from a place of perspective.
The perspective we should have is that most of us are worrying about ourselves and the small bubble we live in. Other people are not intentionally avoiding us or our achievement. They just don’t necessarily care because it doesn’t benefit them directly or they are head down working on the things that are leading them toward a better life.
That’s okay. We have to be okay with this.
As long as we are living our ethos, our purpose, and putting good energy out into the world then that is all that should matter.
Because, remember, as we are focusing on that, we may be missing the opportunity to acknowledge someone else’s accomplishment. And that’s okay. We can’t be everywhere. Nor should we expect that from anyone else.
Their birth. Their first crawl. Their first walk. Their first day of school. Their first tooth that they lost.
The moments become memories in a blink of an eye. It happens so fast we don’t really understand what is going on when it’s happening. We take it for granted thinking it’ll always be this way.
In the back of our minds, we know it doesn’t last.
But that isn’t just for our kids growing up.
That’s for the trip we want to take but are “waiting until retirement” to go on it.
That’s for the girl we want to ask out but are too embarrassed because her friends are around.
That’s for the business we want to start but are scared of what our friends might think.
We don’t know when we are going to get this moment again, if ever. We think that life is so long and that we have it so planned out. If we are being real with ourselves, we know we don’t have the slightest idea what tomorrow will bring.
Why isn’t today good enough to try something? Why can’t today be that day we take a chance on ourselves and see what we have inside? Why can’t today be the day we decide to live just for today and forget about tomorrow?
Because eventually today will be gone, and so will tomorrow, and then the next day.
And if we don’t stop and think about what’s happening, we might just miss it going by.
We hear slogans like “Taste the feeling”, “That’s what I like”, “They’re Gr-r-reat” and hundreds of other slogans in marketing ads across the world.
But, we can all agree, none of these products as well as a host of others are very healthy. So while their slogans may be clever and get us thinking and feeling a certain way, the results paint a vastly different picture. What we get by consuming these products is far different than the message we receive.
We have to keep this in mind as we build new relationships. In early encounters, people may talk a certain way and present a picture of themselves that differs from what our intuition is telling us. Dig deeper and look at the actions versus the words coming out of their mouth.
How are they treating us and others? Does their story add up or are there holes? Are they playing games?
We all try to make a memorable first impression but some people can be deceptive in their approach. Be sure to look behind the curtain and not always take the words someone is saying as fact. They may be hiding something.
They may be selling us a brand that is quite different than the product we end up receiving.
Actions Speak Louder Than WordsBrian Ondrako2021-09-21T11:36:50-04:00
Some people see a wall color as green. Others see it as blue. The exact same wall on the exact same day standing in the exact same place.
We have only two choices.
We can argue that we are right and the other person is obviously wrong, flawed, and shouldn’t be trusted.
Or, we can agree that our perspectives are different. We may not be sure exactly how they came to that conclusion but either way we respect where they are coming from. Their vantage point may be different than ours because we come from different backgrounds, different experiences, and different belief systems.
It’s not that it’s wrong. It’s just an alternative viewpoint.
It’d be an interesting and curious world if we took the latter option more often.
Life ebbs and flows. Some days we are on the highest of highs and on others it’s the lowest of the lows.
Rarely, on the best days, are we ever thinking about despair or loneliness or how we are ever going to get out of this feeling. It’s only on the bad days
Rarely, on the best days, are we ever consumed by the passing watch hands and can’t wait for something to change and get us out of this nightmare. It’s only on the bad days.
Rarely, on the best days, are we ever comparing ourselves to others wishing we were smiling and laughing and being loved by everyone around us. It’s only on the bad days.
“Comparison is the thief of joy” as the great quote goes.
It’s always in comparison to others or to what we don’t have or to what is absent in our lives, that sucks the joy out of it. We all go through this and we know it’s not easy.
But, this too shall pass.
How quickly it passes can be directly related to our efforts in recognizing our triggers and our emotional state when those triggers come to fruition.
We can’t blame others. We have to take ownership and look in the mirror. We can fix this.
Is our worth tied up in others? Are we doing things that make us come alive? Have our decisions put us in stressful situations? How can we learn at this moment to make future moments more manageable?
These questions and others around it can help us focus on the problem areas of our life and address the parts that we need to improve. Generally, there is a “self” before them. We need to have more self-love, self-awareness, self-observation, self-control, etc.
Life can be hard a lot of the time but once we choose to make the effort to approach it in a way where we are in control instead of situations and people controlling us, we have a wonderful chance to lean into happiness more often.
There are a few definitions of the word but I’d lean toward what the masses would articulate as weird and that is by using another word; Different.
That’s what kids mean when they say something is weird. They mean they don’t understand it, it’s new, it’s unlike anything they’ve seen before. It’s different.
Kids generally tell it like it is. They speak their mind as the stream of consciousness flows. And that should inform us of something.
Weird isn’t bad, it’s just different.
We should consider our “weirdness” a gift we can share with the world and look upon it as a benefit.
Have you ever watched a Sci-Fi Movie or Show where everyone dresses the exact same and basically looks the same? Can we even imagine how boring and limiting that must be? We can’t express ourselves, we can’t find people who share our values or our interests, we can’t find our tribe to belong to. To me, that seems like a sad way to go about living.
When we truly discover ourselves, find self-love, and detach away from the outside noise we can start to find where we belong. We can do the things that make us feel good, bring us joy, and allow us to express ourselves. We can find belonging with people who accept us for who we are and what we bring to the table. It doesn’t mean someone has to always agree with us or won’t challenge us but it’s someone who is there to be supportive and generous with their time and effort in the relationship.
We should consider changing our perspective on what weird is and why it’s important. The problem we see with the world is that we want everyone to have our weirdness and think like us and if they don’t it must mean there is something wrong with them.
Deep down we really know that’s not true.
Deep down we know it’s an “us” issue and not a “them”.
Deep down we still have work to do.
They may not be the people you connect with or form a strong bond with but it doesn’t mean they shouldn’t have their own voice. Acceptance of others and gaining perspective on how others may think, feel, and act as the first big step to growth and being comfortable with who you are and knowing it’s okay if others aren’t exactly the same way.
I’m weird and I think being your own kind of weird is really cool.
There are a variety of things we need in order to get to a place of true happiness on a constant basis. Although a lot of the work comes from shedding our labels including self-limiting beliefs, the other side of the coin is about our purpose.
Purpose can be a lot of things but it is not a job, or a career, or a thing we have to do.
It’s a thing we are called to do. Something we feel a desire to pursue because of how it will help us discover deeper happiness and bring hope and a positive impact to others.
Purpose can only happen when you let your mind break free of the shackles of common thinking. Go to college, get a job, work in a said environment for said hours per week, collect the paycheck. It’s hard to develop and fulfill a purpose this way.
We need to be willing to expose ourselves to situations that make us shine and come alive. This can happen when we are willing to do the work of discovering who we are and what we truly want to spend our time doing.
This is only possible by trying new things, opening our minds to new thinking, or letting go of how we thought it was supposed to be.
We lead towards our purpose by changing the very thing that has always gotten us in the way of finding it; Ourselves.