It’s Relative

It’s Relative 

A friend and I were chatting recently and he asked me ‘How are you doing?’ I gave him the standard answer and said “I’m fine.”

Later that day I thought about my reply. Was I really fine? In the scheme of things I am phenomenal! I have everything that I could possibly want and more! I have my health. I haven’t spent the night in a hospital since I was born. Even if I’m short on cash I can make a withdrawal from my investment account. I have to turn down food. 

My situation is relative however. Although I haven’t been a patient in a hospital, I am homebound for all intents and purposes. 

I am not wealthy, but compared to the majority of people on this rock that we call home, I am rich. 

While too many of my neighbors on this planet are begging for food, I have more than enough. 

Your situation is relative. There will always be someone who is better off or worse than you. 

Be thankful for what you have.

The Law of Lift: Falling With Style

As I reflect on my life, I think about where I was and where I am both physically and mentally. A few decades ago I was on top of the world! I was suffering from CC or Closet Cockiness and didn’t know it! I have always been confident. A person with the CC condition rarely brags to others about their behavior. 

The question: When does confidence morph into cockiness?

In my case it was shortly after I was diagnosed with Multiple Sclerosis. At the time I was an Instructor at Houston Community College, the owner of EnVision Communication Concepts and a dancer who had enviable moves on the dancefloor. These skills deteriorated in slow motion. It was as though you were watching a train wreck in slow motion with the audio turned off. As much as I hate to admit, I went into a mild depression commiserating my life losses and the opportunity that had vanished *poof* like that. I went through a period of time when “Used to” was my friend. Finally, one day my mother told me that “Used to” was dead and I needed to get over it and move on. 

So, on that day I decided to take my mom’s advice and move on. I began to use the Law of Lift. When there is enough thrust, you have an aerodynamic vessel, and the weather is favorable you can overcome the Law of Gravity. 

Most people never overcome the Law of Gravity and as a result never become airborne. 

As a result of my condition, my sense of balance is “broken”. I can’t stand up without something supporting me. I am in a never ending battle with gravity. Mentally, I am “falling with style” in the words of Buzz Lightyear from Toy Story. 

I challenge you to overcome the Law of Gravity and use the seldom exercised Law of Lift. 

The Purple Pill

I had a conversation with my youngest son the other day and he said something that intrigued me. We were talking about his frustrations with his job and how I keep my spirits up all the time. 

I will share something with you that is part of my life philosophy. When I was diagnosed with Multiple Sclerosis in 2010 I made an agreement with myself to NEVER COMPLAIN about anything.

Now I was never a whiner beforehand, but now I had a justification for my behavior. My son said that if I could put my outlook on life in pill form I would be a very wealthy man. I smiled and thought about his comments after we finished our phone call.

In life the vast majority of people think that there are only two options. A binary choice. What most people don’t realize is that there’s a third option. I’ll call it the Purple Pill Option as a take off from the movie “The Matrix” starring Keanu Reeves and Lawrence Fishburne.

Here’s an example of the Purple Pill Option in practice. Let’s say that you’re on a trip and you have made reservations at a nice hotel in advance. You arrive late that night and discover the hotel gave your room away.

Option 1: You could fly off the handle and make a scene; or

Option 2: You could leave sulking and cursing your misfortune.

Option 3: You can accept the fact that your room has been rented to someone else and negotiate with hotel management. The key to using this strategy is to be very kind to the person you are speaking to and realize that they may be having a bad day.

You may think to yourself that this approach sounds good in theory, but it’s not realistic. To counter that argument I say who defines your reality?

Allow me to introduce myself

Based on unofficial reports and public opinion I am that guy.

What guy is that you might ask? I am that guy who is living my life with a chronic disease who refuses to let it hold me back.

I am that guy who is involved in several programs that require optimism and patience. I am that guy because having a positive attitude doesn’t cost me more than having a sucky attitude. I chose the Purple Pill rather than the blue or red pill. I choose the third option because I have choice.

I am the “glass half full guy”. My son posits that if I could package my optimism in a pill I would be rich.

Do you have a choice? If you’re reading this post you probably do. What is your choice?

What is your purpose?

When you were born God blessed you with a gift. Nobody knew what it was, but you had one. We all have at least one and many people have several. When I teach Life Skills courses I use an exercise where the class lists activities that they like. Activities that they’re passionate about. Things that would do without pay.

What is that that activity for you? For me it is teaching. I have always shared my knowledge with others. I have a passion for learning and a library in my room to prove it. So, what is your purpose? What are you passionate about? Can others see your gift in your life? Can you see your gift? Make a list of the things that you enjoy. I bet your gift is hidden in the list.

Write It Down. Make It Plain.

Last week I wrote about bad habits. Well, this week I thought I would focus on the good ones. Specifically the good habit of writing things down.

For years I had a writing exercise called Future Truths.

This exercise involves writing things out in the present tense like they have already occurred. This is a very powerful tool and if you do it consistently over time those things will happen in your life.

Refer to Habakkuk 2:2-3 in the Christian Bible. It reads, “Write it down. Make it plain. Others will run to it.” I have taught a variety of communication skills over the years and by far the best tool is the power of the written word. If your goal is to get something done write it down.

Your uniqueness!

I’m gonna talk about you! Yeah, you!
In some places those would be fightin’ words. But today I want to talk about the uniqueness of you.
As you unclench your fists and realize that I don’t want to fight, you will begin to understand that I want you to know how special you are.
We already know that our fingerprints are the only ones like them on the planet.
What about the intangibles like personality and perspective? They make you unique. What about your attitude and your sense of humor. Yep, those too!

Breaking Bad Habits is Hard!

At it’s core, we all do things to satisfy a need. We eat because we’re hungry. We sleep because we’re tired.

What happens when the need is hijacked by the human need for gratification? Let’s chat for a moment about habits. Specifically the bad ones.

Throughout my late teens and early adulthood I never struggled with addictions to alcohol or tobacco primarily because they would have interfered with my ability to make money. At the time, this was my primary motivation to do anything that required effort.

The thing that I would do is buy (fill in the blank) to excess. Clothing, music and most recently books. Definitely First World problems! I would get in my car and drive across town to buy a shirt or CD because that store had it and I didn’t want to wait for it. In retrospect it was a wasteful habit.

As I said before, definitely First World! I look back on those times now and shake my head. So, let’s get back to the book thing for a moment. When I moved back to California from Texas I already had a 5 shelf bookcase that was full. I got to California and purchased another bookcase almost identical to the first one and quickly filled it up. I truly need a third bookcase and arguably a larger room!

I had a bad habit that was a borderline addiction! I was a book junkie. As with most addictions I tried to justify my purchases by saying that I needed the books to help me be a better writer. The problem is that I would read the first few pages of the book and retire it to my bookcase thinking to myself, “That’s a good one! I need to finish reading that!” While I write this I’m thinking to myself, “That’s probably what happened in my marriage!”

I digress, what I finally did out of desperation is put my credit and debit cards in a place that wasn’t accessible.

Can you feel my pain? What did you do to recover from your bad habits?

Who’s Your Hero?

For many of us our parents are our heroes. For others it may be older sibling. For me it was my maternal grandfather Randolph Irvin Smith. I remember the summers I spent at my grandparents home in Kinsale, Virginia as a child. They had a small farm or a huge garden depending on your perspective. All I know is my grandfather had a tractor and he let me drive it. I say to impress upon you the importance of having a hero. Someone who you look up to. Who is that person in your life?I have the same middle name as my grandfather and I have a collection of caps that I wear to pay homage to him. Who is your hero? 

Would they be proud of you?

Priority One: Win the Race!

As I watched the Olympics last week I witnessed something that was stunning!
The female Olympic athlete from the Netherlands was expected to win. She hung back until the last lap when she would make her move. Suddenly she was tripped and fell by one of the other runners. She immediately got up outran the rest of the athletes to win the race! It was as if she expected to win regardless of the circumstances.

The amazing thing was how quickly she got up and ran as if she had formulated a plan in her mind as she was falling.

What’s your plan? What will you do if things don’t go perfectly as you thought that they would?

Is your priority to win the race?