Hindsight is 20/20, and so is HOPE!!!

Hindsight

 

Unless you’ve been living under a rock, I’m sure you’ve heard the old saying “Hindsight is 20/20” I think the same thing can be said about hope. Over the past week I’ve been hearing the same message about hope, but what is it? Why should we be hopeful? According to dictionary.com. Hope is: to look forward to with desire and reasonable confidencethe feeling that  what is  wanted can be had or that events will turn out for the best. It takes confidence to be hopeful, confidence in yourself and your path. For me life is about balance, between past, present, and future. Between good and evil, positive and negative. Sometimes life is also about the grey areas, it’s not just Black and White. I was reading a post and came across a bible verse that I wanted to share.

As Jesus was walking along, he saw a man who had been blind from birth.  “Rabbi,” his John 9disciples asked him, “why was this man born blind? Was it because of his own sins or his parents’ sins?” “It was not because of his sins or his parents’ sins,”  Jesus answered.  “This happened so the power of God could be seen in him. John 9: 1-3

 

Before I get more into talking about being hopeful, I thought it was good to get a little context. Sometimes our understanding is clouded by wrong beliefs. As we see from the example above, Jesus’s disciples thought the blind man was suffering because he did something wrong. As Jesus pointed out, suffering can also be a great opportunity for Love, grace, and miracles. I understand that all may not agree with the example I used, because not everyone agrees with my religious views, however please bear with me for a bit longer. Religious convictions can be some of the strongest, but even with religion we can still have wrong beliefs, and I believe that this example is one that demonstrates that point. But what does this have to do with hope? Just as Jesus’s disciples saw suffering as the result of some type of wrong doing, I believe it’s the same lie many of us tell ourselves. Life is full of good and bad, ups and downs, it can be a bit of a roller coaster. Although things happen to us, it’s not always a result of bad behavior, we’re not being somehow cosmically punished for our past mistakes.

Last week I read a post from thedailylove.com that reminded me that life is also full of nuances. In her post Donna Gates asks Are you Positive or Negative? At first I was a bit taken back by her post, because she suggested that we shouldn’t use those labels. After reading further I realized that she was on to something, sometimes we limit ourselves, and holding on to labels can do that. As I mentioned above life is sometimes nuanced, bad things may happen, and it’s not always a direct result of something we’ve done. In many cases, bad things can lead to victories, triumphs, and life changing revelations. The end of a romantic relationship, could lead to us finding ourselves, and then finding someone that’s better suited for us; but first we have to release ourselves from the old way of thinking.

The other important aspect of Hope is the past. If you’ve been in a similar or worse situation, it gives you confidence. From your past experiences you gain the strength to overcome other situations in the future. As I was jogging last week, I recalled a time in my life when I wasn’t sure what would happen next. Was I going to find meaningful work, will I ever find love, will I have enough money to pay my bills? As those thoughts slowly resurfaced, I realized that although I hadn’t found that “Great Job” financially I’m much better off now, and as for love, I’m learning to love myself. There are many things I consider myself to be; a positive person, an optimist, are among those labels. I also recognize though that there are many other nuances, I’m learning not to let my EGO mislead me. To not get a false sense of confidence, to recognize that my happy moments are giving me strength for the unhappy ones. By seeing where I’ve come from, it gives me strength to endure the day ahead. While I can say that I don’t suffer from depression, I do have my moments when I feel doubt and gloom come over me. In those moments though I’m able to reflect on where I’ve been, and with the help of those who love and care for me, and my faith of course, I’m able to pick my head up again. What I’m not saying is that I live with my head in the clouds, I don’t think that Life is always about lollipops and rainbows, but that it’s nuanced; and recognizing that saves me from inner turmoil.

Tools and practices to be more hopeful:

  • Life is not just black and white, sometimes it’s about the grey areas also. Recognizing where your beliefs are centered is the first step.
  • Your past experiences give you confidence for the future. Experience builds confidence, when facing a difficult situation, ask yourself what other similar situations have you faced before? Chances are you’re here now because you’ve survived past experiences.
  • Having a positive outlook doesn’t mean that you think things are always going to work out. Sometimes some challenges aren’t meant to be overcome, they are there to show us our limits.
  • Going through a bad experience doesn’t mean you’re being punished for something. Although there are consequences to our actions, that rule doesn’t apply to EVERYTHING. Sometimes some experiences are an opportunity for Love, Grace, Mercy, and Life Lessons. Learning to recognize the difference is an important aspect of having hope.

Hope

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Master of YOUR Universe!!

“Oh Great today is going to be crap! Why can’t I have a great day today? There’s no way I’m going to be able to accomplish any of these things!”

Have you ever started your day off telling yourself these things? I caught myself thinking negatively about the upcoming day today. Not entirely sure why I was thinking this way, besides I had just gotten out of bed, the day hadn’t even had an opportunity to go either good or bad. Although I hadn’t even started my day, I was already thinking negatively. Not to worry I gave myself a mental kick in the rear, and ran as far away from that train of thought as possible. I thought it was interesting though, although I hadn’t even embarked on my day, I was already telling myself that it was somehow going to not go well.

Hope

I have hope because what’s the alternative to hope? Despair? If you have despair, you might as well put your head in the oven. – Studs Terkel.

I don’t think of myself as one of those people who sees the world through negative lenses, but somehow I was allowing myself to start the day on an unhealthy journey. The world is full of many things we can’t control, but I do have some control over my attitude and how I approach my day.

Based on my brief moment of insanity, here’s what I came away with:

  • Approach each day ready for the possibilities, by starting with a positive attitude, it will dictate how you approach things. An attitude of excitement and confidence, rather than feeling defeated and hopeless.
  • Be content with what I do have. Although having goals is a good thing, I also want to spend time in the present. Enjoy and appreciate the things I do have. I’m grateful that I have health, and freedom to practice any religion or way of life I choose. I have a job and there are endless possibilities that they can lead me to. Sure this is not where I’d like to end up, but if I’m not paying attention to my footsteps, how will I know where I’m going.
  • Take time to relax and enjoy. Even if it’s something as simple as my lunch, or observing people than come into my work, people watching can be a lot of fun.
  • Remember that I have control over my attitude, no one else can dictate how I feel about certain things. By recognizing that I have control, I will not give that up to someone else.

You can be the Master of your own Universe, don’t let other people dictate how your day will go. Well at least don’t give them the control to do it!

Master of the Universe

Is it a Good idea to push the Easy Button!!

Easy Button

 

I’ve been on a particular theme for the past few weeks now, and it seems it’s not time to let go of it just quite yet. It’s the notion that I have to be willing to put in the work to reap the benefits. Not surprising the sermon from church added a few more layers to my flow of thoughts.

Have you ever been in a challenge that was so tough you didn’t think you could get through it on your own, and you finally asked “God please help get me through this!” But to your dismay the problem still persisted, and in some cases it got worse before it was finally over? It left you feeling drained and completely exhausted, do you find yourself asking how come you still had to go through the problem. So a few questions for you to consider, because for me I think it’s a matter of perspective. When faced with challenges, do you believe that they are there to cause you to fail? Do you believe that sometimes you face challenges because it’s building you up for something greater to come? When you asked for help to get through the problem, did you actually want to get THROUGH it or AROUND it.

Dictionary.com defines through as: in at one end, side, or surface and out at the other; from one to the other of; over the surface of, by way of, or within the limits or medium of.

For a Biblical perspective, we read in Isaiah 43:2

When you pass through the waters, I will be with you; and through the rivers, they shall not overwhelm you;  when you walk through fire you shall not be burned, and the flame shall not consume you. – ESV

Sometimes if we’re not clear of our intentions it’s easy to have a misunderstanding. From the 2 references alone above, we see that getting through a challenge means that the challenge will persist, but you will survive. In contrast going around something means that we avoid it completely. When we ask to get through a challenge, do we actually mean we’d like to get around it? I know that with myself included what I’d like to do is get around the challenge, but also gain all the benefits as if I had endured it. Do you find that you sometimes adopt this philosophy too?

For me with every new challenge I face, it’s my belief that it’s preparing me for something, or perhaps there’s a lesson to be learnt, we just have to be open to it. In the past week I feel that I’ve increased my overall satisfaction and happiness with my life because I changed my perspective.

  1. I’ve stopped looking for the Perfect … I’m learning to embrace what’s actually in-front of me. If it’s something I don’t like, then move on to something else. Don’t get too hung up on what I don’t have.
  2. Understand that if I desire something specific, that I will have to work to get it.
  3. Remember that sometimes things don’t happen in my timing. Take for example the universe, I know there is debate about how long it took to create it depending on who you talk to; but it took time to make everything we see. Sometimes things may not come when I expect them to.
  4. Everything happens in due time. You don’t learn how to ride a bike the very first time you get on. It takes time patience and practice. If I want to become an expert, I can’t expect to do so without putting in a lot of time and devotion.
  5. Recognizing that I will always have support and guidance, I just have to be willing to accept it. No matter the obstacle, I have faith that if I’m to overcome it, I will have the help I need. Sometimes some challenges aren’t meant to be conquered, they are supposed to humble us.  

Life is messy and complicated, the future isn’t guaranteed, but what is guaranteed is that there will be challenges. We live in a world of opposites, having a positive attitude doesn’t mean you won’t have a negative attitude from time to time. Similarly once you find happiness, it doesn’t means that you can’t be in despair or pain anymore. Remembering that helps you to get in the right frame of mind, to know that things will always get better. As someone who writes, I see so many stories of others who have chosen to not let bad things effect them. I read a story last night about a young woman named Sara, here’s The Story of Sara Fry. Sara has transcended her illness and is literally living life to the fullest, if anone has the right to complain, it’s Sara. Yet she is choosing to not let an illness stop her from Living, we should all take a page from Sara’s life.

If I could be granted one wish in life, perhaps it should be to have courage like Sara Fry.

 

 

I’m Ready to go ALL IN!!

All In

The last post I wrote really had me thinking about my past. Not to worry I’m not in a regret mode, but I feel this immense sense of clarity and I thought I’d share it. In case you didn’t ready my last post, here’s an excerpt from a article written by Mike Rowe:

 “A Fan Asks Mike Rowe For Life Advice…”

Stop looking for the “right” career, and start looking for a job. Any job. Forget about what you like. Focus on what’s available. Mike RoweGet yourself hired. Show up early. Stay late. Volunteer for the scut work. Become indispensable. You can always quit later, and be no worse off than you are today. But don’t waste another year looking for a career that doesn’t exist. And most of all, stop worrying about your happiness. Happiness does not come from a job. It comes from knowing what you truly value, and behaving in a way that’s consistent with those beliefs.
Many people today resent the suggestion that they’re in charge of the way the feel. But trust me, Parker. Those people are mistaken. That was a big lesson from Dirty Jobs, and I learned it several hundred times before it stuck. What you do, who you’re with, and how you feel about the world around you, is completely up to you. Good luck – Mike Rowe

As I mentioned earlier, this has been on my mind for the past few days. Today even though I had a long day, and I was outside basically roasting in the sun. By the time I left work I was super excited and happy, and I had no idea why. I think I’m in the beginning stages of letting go. Letting go of the notion that I must search for the “perfect job” or “perfect relationship”. What I’m doing isn’t bad, many people would be happy with the jobs I have. I was finally starting to listen to what Mike said, to stop wasting time looking for the perfect job, and to work hard at what I already have. I’ve always known that intrinsic motivation is the best factor to job satisfaction. I should know, I conducted my own original research for my Undergraduate degree. Complete with interviews, I went the qualitative research method, I didn’t opt for surveys, it didn’t tell me enough about peoples motivation. Anyway I’ve done the research, so by now I should know how to motivate myself, but yet I struggled for years. The good news is that I’m at a stage where I’m doing things differently.

Aside from my career, I’ve also been thinking about relationship, that’s actually what I wanted to study, but my Academic Advisor din’t sign off on that one. As with my job I’m starting to let go of the notion of finding the “perfect” relationship, while I’m not talking about settling for who ever comes along first. What I’m talking about is being willing to put in the work with someone who’s willing to work on a relationship. The bad part is that I’m now realizing that my ex was quite willing to do that. It’s a bit sad that I didn’t realize it at the time. I’m not going to beat myself up about that anymore, I’ve learnt so much during the past year. I’m more in touch with others around me, and I’m letting go of many of by wrong beliefs I held on to, and I’m not sure if I would have accomplished that with my previous path. While it hurts, I also feel that the growth that has come from that experience is really valuable.

What the future holds, only time will tell. What I do know is that I’m willing to go ALL IN now. I’m Jumping inwilling to put in the work to get the kind of future I want. Settling isn’t in my DNA, I’m too much of a perfectionist for that, but I am willing to make several concessions. Life is a constant ebb and flow, sure there are things out there that are perfect, but that’s not everyday life. Even the most beautiful flower dies, and is reborn again. I have to be willing to let go, and in letting go I can open myself up to all that life has to offer.

How about you, how can letting go and jumping ALL IN change your life? Are you still struggling to find that “perfect …” What’s keeping you from getting it? Perhaps it’s time to change your perspective!! Have a blessed day, and I hope my Positive Vibes can emanate throughout the universe and find you where you live. I feel that I have plenty to go around today.

He is Risen!

Jesus is Risen

 I was planning to spend the day perhaps at the beach, going out and being out and about. Unfortunately I’ve had a long few days and I’m tired. While others are out enjoying Easter I’m recovering from my long week. All’s not lost, because as I sit here I started thinking about Easter, and the message I heard in Church yesterday. While I generally don’t lift entire parts from the Church message, I’ll make an exception this time, the academic in me is screaming plagiarism.

As I was thinking about the Easter holiday, I wonder how many people are celebrating it as the resurrection of Christ? Why is it now about Eggs, and Bunnies? The answer to those questions takes me to a place where I wanted to examine the Historical references of Fed-ex truckJesus and his life. There is a central point here, while there’s large disagreement among historians, they all seem to agree on a few facts. They agree that Jesus of Nazareth was real, and he was crucified. Where they depart is the resurrection, and that’s a central part of the Christian faith. Without the resurrection, we’re not redeemed, and our sins aren’t forgiven. If Jesus didn’t die for our sins, and wasn’t resurrected the third day, then our faith is a lie. It’s interesting though, historians don’t disagree that his body can’t be found, they disagree that he was resurrected. That’s interesting to me, it reminds me of that old saying, “seeing is believing.” If I told you there was a hidden sign in the Fed-Ex symbol, would you believe me. Have you ever seen the arrow on the Fed-Ex truck? Belief is one of those amazing things, once you see it and believe it’s there, it’s hard to un-see it. That’s how I feel about my faith, I’ve seen God in my life and I believe he’s there, and now it’s hard to un-see him. For those who don’t believe there is a God, it’s mostly because they don’t see him. In the case of the sign on the Fed-ex truck not because you don’t see it means it’s not real, trust me it’s there and it’s obvious to me, but not because you don’t see it means it’s not real.

So why was the message from church so profound? For a reference read Luke 24: 13-34, it’s the story of Jesus on the road to Emmaus with a few of his disciples. This story took place the day after his resurrection. Just like the example of the Fed-ex truck, his disciples who should have obviously known him, didn’t recognize him. As my Pastor Steve summarized, there could be a few reasons for this:

  1. Heading the Wrong Direction (verse 13): When you’re focused on sin and the carnal desires of our human nature, it’s hard to see God in everyday situations. Sometimes even when he’s right in front of us, if sin is our central focus in life, it’s hard to see God.
  2. Consumed with our Lives (verse 17): Sometimes life is busy, with work, family, bills, kids sports practices etc. Life gets too busy and God becomes secondary. Life is complicated and we inadvertently forget to put God first.
  3. Personal Agenda for God (verse 21): Do you pray for God’s will in your life, or do you go to him with a list of demands praying “Ok God make this happen.” Are our lives modeled after God’s plan for us, or is it OUR plan for what God should do in our lives?

This story is a great example of perhaps why it’s impossible for everyone to see God. There’s historical evidence for his life, Science and medicine has thought us more about the conditions surrounding his death. While there is still skepticism about whether he actually died, if you examine the evidence for yourself, common sense tells you it’s impossible to survive such torture. What you’re lift with is the truth, and some people see that and refuse to believe.

The tongue of the wise makes knowledge appealing, but the mouth of a fool belches out foolishness. Only a fool despises a parent’s  discipline; whoever learns from correction is wise – Proverbs 15:2;5

Another way of seeing that passage is to think of it this way:

  • A wise person hears the truth and adjusts their behavior: Presented with the historical and biblical evidence for Jesus, they choose to believe that he’s real, and they adjust their behavior. They stop living a life of sin, they live a life that is according to the bible, and they’re intrinsically motivated to do it. They choose to live a life that’s not filled with sinful desires. Additionally I find it interesting that there are secular laws also pointing that some of the sinful acts noted in the bible, are harmful to human coexistence.
  • A foolish person hears the truth and adjust the truth to their behavior: When presented with the same evidence, dismisses it, not because they don’t believe it, but because it doesn’t support the life they already follow. Take for example living a life of partying and drinking, drugs, sex and all other desires. Some may hear that the bible strongly prohibits that kind of lifestyle, so they choose not to believe, why because they’ll have to stop that life. It’s interesting take any celebrity that has embraced the life of partying, sex, drugs and the likes. Even society thinks they’re on the wrong road.

So as you spend this Easter Holiday, are you celebrating it by hunting for Easter Eggs, or are you embracing that Jesus is real. Are you believing that he died on the cross for our sins, and that he was resurrected! Since historians don’t disagree that Jesus lived and suffered, then WHY would anyone endure this torture. As a side note think about the beating he received, and what it would be like to be crucified, it’s a brutal scene. Sorry hope I didn’t ruin our Easter meal.

Seeing is believing