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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What does it mean to be a Strong Man!!

When you think about that phrase, it’s a bit of an oxymoron, because a strong man doesn’t necessarily mean a guy with muscleA Strong Mans who has great physical strength. I read several articles last week that started me thinking about masculinity, and as I grow older, what does it mean to be a strong man. You can find the full article by Bryan Reeves on “Women are not defective Men” to get more insight about what my general theme is. As I go deeper into my 30’s with each passing day, I find that many of the things which peeked my interest when I was younger are no longer enough. Having an intellectual connection is more fascinating, and far more intriguing. I’ve talked regularly in-dept about a book I read earlier in the year “The Four Agreements” by Don Miguel Ruiz. I read an article on The Daily Love yesterday that got me thinking again, for an agreement to be effective, everyone involved has to follow it. As I get older I’m beginning to see that there are many wrong beliefs about what a Man should be, and they lead to statements like:

  • Good men are strong and powerful.
  • Real men don’t cry or show emotions.
  • The Man is supposed to be the provider.
  • The Man is supposed to be a hero, to come in on his white horse to save the damsel in distress.

To many Men money, power, prestige, family (wife and children) are a measure of your man hood. While those things are important, they don’t give the full picture, and what about communication, love, honesty, vulnerability. Why are those things not on the list?

As I was thinking about those things, and as I read Bryan’s article, it was clear that there is so much that men are not taught. To be a functioning and healthy adult (I use the word healthy, because there are many other ways) you need to learn certain things. Going back to what I said about agreements, if we’re not taught these things, and we believe the wrong beliefs that we are taught, then we’re doomed to repeat the same bad choices. As a man there are so many pressures that plague us, and yet in many cases, there are more incentives to perpetuate the wrong beliefs.

So how do you get on the right track. It starts with acknowledging some truths:

  • We’re all human, and that means that we’re capable of emotions, yes even us hard exterior men. Suppressing our emotions in effect is invalidating the gifts we were created with.
  • We must learn that people are different, and that thinking differently or having different values are not right nor wrong. We see the world differently, and that’s ok, it makes us unique not broken.
  • On a level we’re all broken, we all have flaws, it was built into our DNA. While having flaws isn’t an excuse, it’s good to remember that when dealing with others. Sometimes against our best efforts we make mistakes, give others opportunities to correct their mistakes. After-all we’d like the same treatment if the roles were reversed.
  • Learn to embrace our emotions, we were born with 6 senses, if they’re telling us something, we should probably listen. It’s like seeing a wild animal coming towards us with teeth gnashing, and saying “hey you must want to lick me!” By allowing ourselves to feel, we deal with the issue in the moment. Suppressing doesn’t make the emotion go away, it only bottles it up, and it WILL come back, and perhaps at a most inopportune time.
  • Learn to embrace our male and female selves. Men are confident and have a rugged bravado, women are gentler, kind, and caring. Each was made differently, but they were made to combine to produce pure LOVE. By embracing each other’s best qualities, we are able to achieve a more perfect harmony.

To be a well functioning adult male, I must do away with the old mole. I’m not Ryan Gosling, but he’s not be either. So I’ll stop tryingAverage Man to be what I’m not. It’s ok to be me, as I get older I become wiser, well that’s my hope anyway. I must learn to embrace my Male energy, and learn to be in harmony with the mesmerizing and fascinating yet mysterious female energy. I don’t understand it, but perhaps that’s the point. Men are conquerors, and when we do we move on. Perhaps our women are supposed to be a mystery, it keeps us longing and coming back for more as we learn and explore her mysterious deity.

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.

You have to Work Hard first, then you can hope for Success!

Hard Work

I always seem to hear inspiring thoughts and quotes from many people around me. For some time now I’ve been getting this feeling that I could be doing more than what I am now. People around me keep telling me I shouldn’t discount what I’ve already accomplished, but still I feel I should have more. I wrote about this in a previous post, how the pressure from my family and background has left me feeling like I should have accomplished more in my life. You can find my previous post here: “Taking a Stand to find my Happiness. I was browsing Facebook yesterday and came across a post where Mike Rowe, the guy from Dirty Jobs and various Ford Trucks commercials, answered a few questions from a fan about finding the right career. The fan seemed to have a question most of us can identify with, how do you find the right career, take a look at the full response: “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

This last part of Mike’s comments really got me thinking, perhaps this is part of what I’m experiencing. Success seems like such a loaded term, but in today’s age of things being fast and instant, could the idea of “Delayed Gratification” be a lost life skill? I want to find success now, but do I have to put in the hard work too? Why can’t life just give me what I want? I’ve been here long enough, I deserve to get what I want! I want to put in as little work as possible and reap the max rewards, I’m entitled to that am I not? Ok so I’m being facetious about all those things, but it’s still a hint of truth behind it, I want to do as little work as possible but still expect or even feel entitled to get more than I’ve put into it.

Here are my takeaways after reading that article about how to find a perfect career:

  • Success isn’t’ about the perfect … landing in your lap. Sure there are stories out there about someone finding the perfect job after just a short search. But those stories are the exception not the rule. Success for most people comes after long years of hard work, so if you want to reap the benefits, you’ll have to endure the time it takes to plant the seed, watch it grow, nurture it, and then wait for it to bloom.
  • In life the reality is that anyone who has something good, has worked hard, very hard for it. Whether that’s a relationship, a job, or just life itself. An ex-girlfriend told me once “sometimes you don’t find the perfect person, but someone who’s willing to put in the work, to make it work.” Now what I’m not saying is that you stay in a situation that is completely wrong for you. Instead find something that works, something that with time and the right resources will eventually turn into what you’re looking for. Princes and Princesses only exist in Disney Movies, and for those select few who are Lucky, they’ll find the perfect match. Perhaps that’s why it’s called “Luck” not everyone has it. So don’t look for the perfect … instead find the one that has potential to turn into something that’s great. Ok now I hear what you’re saying, sorry it took so long to sink in.
  • Life is a mix of working with what you have, and putting in the work to get what you want. There are people that say “I’m a screw up, I’m not good enough…, I’ll never achieve …” That’s a lie they tell themselves so they can remain in that state. As humans it’s in our nature to constantly improve and work on both things and ourselves. If this wasn’t’ true, we would not have evolved, and there won’t be a new craze or device to do things bigger, better, faster. Self improvement is part of our DNA, so if there is something we’d like to improve about ourselves, we’ll have to put in the work to accomplish it.
  • It’s easy not to put in the work when faced with a challenge. So what if you face a new challenge, do something about it. Although success is relative, meaning that each person has a different definition of success. Successful people do have one thing in common, they worked hard, and with time and lots of hard work, they were able to accomplish their goal. So if I’m to be successful I’ll have to put in the work, that’s whether it’s my career or my relationships, I’ll have to work hard to get the kind of future I desire.
  • Despite what I learnt for this article, I still believe one thing though, sometimes some things aren’t meant to be accomplished. Sometimes challenges are meant to show us that we have limits, and they humble us. Although we’d like to keep people in our lives, some people are only here for a season. Sometimes some people and jobs aren’t right for our soul, they will only bring us heart-ache, and those are the ones we have to learn to let go of.

Although this doesn’t radically change my view of life, it has made me think about the way I approach certain things, especially a career. For some time now I’ve questioned whether I’ve actually put in the work, or am I just thinking that I’m entitled to certain things. I’m not completely convinced that I haven’t been guilty of just sitting back, and hoping that something will fall in my lap; feelings of entitlement have made me lazy.

What about you, how would putting in the work change the way you look at your life and relationships?

Would that radically change your life, or is it the slight course correction you were looking for?

Time to get my MOJO back!!!

motivation 2

 

It seems funny, but in an attempt to get motivated, I asked a friend if she can yell at me like a Drill Sergeant; I think she took me seriously too. I don’t talk about my Undergraduate Degree much, but I have a B.S. in Business Psychology. One of the things I’m most proud of with that degree, is that I got a chance to complete an Academic Paper. I interviewed participants, conducted my own original research, and stoped just short of the getting published part. It shouldn’t come as much of a surprise that my topic was on Motivation, specifically Workplace Motivation. I’ve written in previous posts that I feel like my life is in slow motion right now, I feel stuck and I’m not sure how to get out. I know that I’m moving in the right direction, but I feel like I’m getting passed my a snail right now. In my effort to get out and get some sunshine on this first day of spring, I thought about my research paper, since it’s on motivation, perhaps there’s something in there I can use.

In my research leading up to my paper, the first question I looked to answer is what is motivation. In their research Eccles and Wigfield (Motivational Beliefs, Values, and Goals, 2002), described motivation this way: “The Latin root of the word “motivation” means “to move”; hence, in this basic sense the study of motivation is the study of action”. In other words, motivation is what drives us to action. So one of the first things I thought of was that in order to not feel stuck, I will have to be moving, to act, to not sit on the sidelines. In another article Sinha and Sinha (Personal Growth and Training and Development, 2009) thought that the best way to become motivated, is by proper training. They believed that learning and practicing effective strategies was a good way to find and maintain motivation. So motivation is not something static, it takes practice, and it requires continued effort to maintain. The first topics ALL pointed to one outcome, in order to be motivated, it will require ACTION.

So action and practice is the outward manifestation of motivation, but what’s the source. In their research Cameron and Pierce (Rewards and Intrinsic Motivation: Resolving the Controversy, 2002) believed that motivation originates from within. They believe that the most effective tool for motivation is it’s intrinsic value, meaning that the real effort comes from within you. Whether its a coincidence or not, it seems that no study on motivation doesn’t find a correlation with Maslow’s (1943) Hierarchy of Needs Theory. Nair (Organizational Behaviour, 2010) conducted a study involving large corporations, and found that there were several indicators to high motivation, and they were comprised of Maslow’s hierarchy of needs theory which are: psychological, safety, social, esteem and self-actualization. Nair’s research concluded that as we accomplish the lower needs on Maslow’s pyramid, we gain higher levels of satisfaction. For me I feel as though I’m still working on my safety and social needs; I’m still looking for job and financial security. Therefore until I’m able to accomplish those needs, I will continue to feel as though I’ve more to accomplish. For me I find that I’ve always had a pull to find meaning in my life, and to be able to feels as though I’ve somehow contributed to humanity, or at least those close to me. Seems that I’m seeking to accomplish my esteem and self-actualization needs. One thing this last researcher has shown me is that at the bottom of the pyramid, it takes a lot more of those needs to feel satisfied, than it does with the ones at the top. Thinking back to my time in the Marines, I’ve always felt as though I was doing something that made humanity, or at the lest my country better. Now that I’m out of the Military, I find myself wondering “what now? how do I maintain that feeling?”

Knowing where you want your life to go is a good first step, but how do you get there. Setting goals for themselves was one of theMotivation key factors for motivation described by my participants. A good way to set goals would be by using S.M.A.R.T (S-pecific, M-easurable, A-ttainable, R-ealistic, T-ime sensitive) goals. Sorry I don’t have a specific reference for that one, learnt it in one of my Communication classes. For example making $1 million in the next year when you only make $12/hr is not a good goal. In contrast saving $1200 in the next year, by putting away $100 each month, because you have $500 left over each month is a great goal to set. Additionally my research found that having a strong support system also was very instrumental to accomplishing goals. It’s key to surround yourself with people who will encourage rather than criticize you, and help you when you fall down. A strong support system lead to higher levels of satisfaction with my participants. It’s important to emphasize that a strong support system means people who are capable of helping you, it’s pointless and frustrating to have people around you that you lean on who can’t help you.

Ok so what does all this research mean? First of all, motivation is action oriented, to be motivated you must be moving towards something. It requires good proven strategies. There are some lower level needs that you must accomplish first, you need to have certain safety and physiological needs met before you feel satisfied about social or esteem needs. In order to get to the end, you should have specific goals set. Although I have my work cut out for me, I’m confident that I’ll make it. The next chapter of my life isn’t going to be easy, but I have some good strategies to follow. Now comes the hard part, getting off my butt and actually doing something, you know the ACTION  part. I’ve learnt a valuable lesson this year, and that is you will always have people around you who are capable of helping you, you simply need to ask for help. I can’t do this all on my own, it will require dedication, specific goals, and accountability.

What about you, what helps you when you feel in a rut? What strategies have you found to be effective? I’d like to hear about them.

P.S. Oh by the way if you’re thinking that my references weren’t formatted correctly, you can’t dock me points for that, I wanted to show that I didn’t pull info from space!!!