Category Archives: Struggle

Dealing with the Same Old Problems

The measure of success is not whether you have a tough problem to deal with, but whether it is the same problem you had last year. – John Foster Dulles

I think this is also a good measure of personal growth. Since dealing with problems is a component of life, we shouldn’t shy away from problems and their associated solutions. These are the things that make life interesting; that infuse our minds with creativity and vigor; that allow us to step beyond who we are now and move towards something even more fulfilling.

But, if it is the same problem you had last year or the year before, then maybe you are not growing as much as your potential. Dealing with the same old problems should be your indicator that something needs to change. Maybe you have some negative and habitual thought patterns. Maybe you have a belief that is not flexible enough. Maybe you have simply refused to look at the root causes of the problem you have been regularly confronted with.

Regardless of the problem, there is always a solution. The discovery of that solution has to do with your attitude. A negative or optimistic attitude will slow or block your access to the solution, while an optimistic outlook will drag you to multiple solutions.

Dealing with the same old problems requires you to change something in order for the problem to either be resolved or replaced by a new or improved problem. It’s as simple as that. Monitor your growth by being conscious of your problems, but not so much that you forget to apply the solution.

Michael

Opportunity is Within

Opportunity often comes disguised in the form of misfortune, or temporary defeat. – Napoleon Hill

The golden opportunity you are seeking is in yourself. It is not in your environment; it is not in luck or chance, or the help of others; it is in yourself alone. – Orison Swett Marden

Opportunity can’t be found hidden under a stone or waiting around the next corner. It’s not in the next job or new relationship. Opportunity exists in one place and one place only. That place is ourselves.

It may be a strange thought to some because we are led to believe that opportunity is something we pursue external to ourselves. Or that an opportunity is an event that happens to some and not to others. Others believe that luck is the magic ingredient.

But, the search for opportunity is no harder than finding yourself. We determine the opportunities that flow our way by our attitudes, beliefs, perspectives and overall outlook of life. Those personal attributes can indicate how open you are to see opportunities that exist in your world right now. Negative attitudes, poor self image or beliefs and constrained perspectives will have the same effect as putting blinders on.

An increased positive outlook, optimistic attitudes and beliefs of sound self-worth all contribute to the potential for unlimited opportunities. It’s simple. When we feel good, we see further. We notice more. We pick up on clues that would remain unseen if we were grumpy or out of sorts all the time.

Remember, all the opportunities we desire are within us. We only have to open our eyes.

Michael

Everyday and Moment is a Miracle

There are only two ways to live your life. One is as though nothing is a miracle. The other is as though everything is a miracle. – Albert Einstein

If you can view the moments of your life as small and consequential miracles, your life will take on a different flavor all together. The world will seem like a less frightening and more peaceful place. As you recognize the little miracles, your hope and attitude will climb to new heights.

Levels of optimism will fill the moments between the small miracles. You will be cultivating the belief that all things are not only possible but achievable. Each breath we take is a small miracle in itself. That breath gives you another moment to decide where you want your life to go and how to get there.

Each breath gives you the option to choose what your attitude will be; positive or negative. Each second of your life enables you to move closer to what you desire or further away. Our power to choose our destiny lies in those brief moments sandwiched between the miracle of each breath.

It’s an amazing gift and we should take advantage of it. By acknowledging and embracing these small miracles we forever change the color and fabric of our lives. That is our most important task and what makes the journey of life so rich and rewarding.

Michael

Happy Moments

A happy life is just a string of happy moments. But most people don’t allow the happy moment, because they’re so busy trying to get a happy life. – Abraham-Hicks

I think this quote will be my new philosophy of living, though I’ve been practicing this for quite some time now. I strive for the happy moment, the small things that make me smile, the quick laughs that give me a few seconds of happiness. When I add those moments up I find that my day has been mostly happy. When I add those days up, I find that my weeks and months are happy. Before you know, I’m leading a happy life.

It’s those moments that are important. If I’m feeling negative emotions, I try to quickly understand why, make a correction and move on. Why should I waste my time holding on to things that make me feel bad? I try to quickly deal with them. That’s an important distinction. I don’t repress negative feelings. I strive to understand them and then find ways to move past them. Repression of negative feelings does not lead to happy moments or a happy life. Bottled up emotions always stay with you and then come out when the pressure becomes too much.

As I find ways to enjoy the moments in my life no matter what I’m doing, I’ve discovered that it becomes easier and easier. My attitude stays in a good place. I can easily make a mundane activity something that is more fun. I’ve noticed that I don’t complain as much. I’ve noticed that I’m almost always optimistic.

Initially it takes a very active approach to manage happiness in the moments and seconds of your life, but after awhile it becomes second nature and much easier. Don’t wait on the big things to come; better relationship, better job, vacation or etc. Focus your attention on the moments and the rest of your life takes care of itself.

Michael

Every Day is Important

There is no such thing in anyone’s life as an unimportant day. – Alexander Woollcott

Every day gives us the opportunity to manage our attitude, adjust our perspective and evaluate the effect of the thoughts we are thinking. These activities can dramatically change our direction and help to increase our minute by minute level of happiness.

If we look at each day as an opportunity to make small changes in our behaviors and thought patterns we can slowly but consciously re-direct our lives towards something more desirable. It’s like exercise. A little bit of exercise every day or regularly will significantly increase your overall physical health over time. Our behaviors, thoughts and beliefs are no different.

As we work to decrease our reactions to life and increase our ability to direct our lives, then we are truly on the road to a more fulfilled and happier life. The work is not monumental. It’s really only a little bit of effort every day. The big changes come from regularly and consciously working on changing old habit patterns of thought.

Remember that going from pessimism to optimism drastically increases our world of possibilities. Being pessimistic is like sticking your head in sand. You can’t see very far or very clearly while an optimistic viewpoint is like traveling in a plane high above the ground. You can see everything at once.

In summary, work a little bit each day to improve your thoughts and beliefs. Focus on the small changes and before you know it, you’ll be in a better, more desirable place.

Michael

My Excellent Guitar Teacher

The mediocre teacher tells. The good teacher explains. The superior teacher demonstrates. The great teacher inspires. – William Arthur Ward

I have an excellent guitar teacher. I’ve been working with him for 3 or 4 months now. My goal was to learn some music theory and some techniques for playing lead guitar. I had learned a lot but I wasn’t satisfied with my progress on playing lead. It was coming slow and I didn’t seem to be making much progress.

So, two lessons ago, I brought up my frustrations to my guitar teacher. I looked him right in the eye and asked if I was really cut out to play lead since it seemed to be coming very slowly for me. I asked him if I should just focus on being an excellent rhythm guitarist. He looked right back at me, paused for a moment and said “No.”

He said what I needed was to learn a lead from some songs that I enjoy. We would then attack the lead playing combined with music theory from that perspective. I said okay. Let’s give it a try. I had to pick a song I wanted to learn the lead on. So, I choose one (Wish You Were Here – Pink Floyd) and in the next 25 minutes, he taught me the lead for that song. I was astounded at how fast I picked it up. We also analyzed the song to look at the theory underlying the melody.

Within one session, my guitar teacher was able to completely turn my attitude around. It was brilliant. With the next lesson I learned another song I’ve always wanted to learn (From the Beginning – Emerson, Lake and Palmer). I am now feeling much better about my progress. That changed perspective is propelling me forward faster now.

I’m glad I’ve found this teacher. He is a rare breed.

Michael

We Are Responsible

Through the balance and the chaos, we alone are responsible for our own happiness and success—or lack of it. It’s up to us to design a life that works. – Cynthia Good

The simple thought that we alone are responsible for own happiness and success is a powerful statement. It’s one that many people ignore or believe to be untrue. I, on the other hand, have found this thought to be one of the most freedom inducing beliefs of my life.

It’s so easy to blame others or to give away our power of choice. When things are not going good in our lives, it can be difficult to take responsibility. It can be depressing to think we might be at fault for our own problems.

For me, it feels better to know I’m in control. I like the idea that I can make my life what I want; happy or not happy. I relish in the belief that I can change at any moment the direction my life is going. I don’t have to settle for something I don’t want or desire. It’s the ultimate freedom.

Only we know what’s best for our lives. Only we know what we truly like and dislike. Only we know what will make us feel fulfilled. Only we can control our attitude and reactions to events around us.

Only we can choose to be happy.

Michael

The Best Years are Now

The best years of your life are the ones in which you decide your problems are your own. You do not blame them on your mother, the ecology, or the president. You realize that you control your own destiny. – Albert Ellis

I didn’t learn this lesson until I was in my middle years. Before that, I blamed just about anything I could that was not me; the government, the economy, my boss, my childhood and etc. The idea that my problems were my own was a foreign idea and one that did not sit well with my belief system at the time. Those thoughts left me with a sense of powerlessness about the course of my life. Even though I had many good times throughout my life then, there was always an undercurrent of “I’m not in control.”

Towards the late 1990’s, I begin to suspect that the world worked much differently than I had previously believed. I met people that seemed to be in complete control of their lives and didn’t care what was going on anywhere else in the world. They blamed no one else for their misfortunes or their successes. I started reading books that delved into these topics.

Little by little, my approach to my own life changed. I saw a dramatic difference in my thoughts, perspectives, attitude and beliefs. I did have to take a deep dive down into a quagmire for a complete transformation from the old me, but that is for a different story.

I felt like I was growing by leaps and bounds in a short period of time. When I looked back on my life, it appeared somewhat stagnant while my current life was like a kayak on a fast moving river. I liked the new sense of freedom that came about from believing that I was in control of my own destiny.

The point of my story is to convey the message that your thoughts are your own. Your attitudes can be changed and controlled. Your belief system can be adjusted. You hold the reigns for your own life. Not one thing or person one can take that from you unless you believe otherwise. As our thoughts, attitudes and perspectives change we see the world differently. We understand the power of every individual including ourselves. We now know that we can be and do anything. As some have said, the world is our oyster. Life can be fun and fulfilling. We just have to make the decision to go there.

Michael

Follow Your Passion

Many of us are afraid to follow our passions, to pursue what we want most because it means taking risks and even facing failure. But to pursue your passion with all your heart and soul is success in itself. The greatest failure is to have never really tried. – Robyn Allan

Do you follow your passions? If not, why? Are you fearful of the opinions of others? Do you feel like you can’t do whatever it is that you feel passionate about? Do you feel guilty? Do you place unreasonable expectations on yourself?

I think this is one of the great secrets of life. When we follow our passions, we feel alive. We feel fulfilled. We feel that life has meaning. We feel like we are getting things accomplished. We are happier.

I have many passions. Sometimes I wonder if I have too many. :-)  Frankly, I don’t think you can have too many. If you love to do something and it gives you great pleasure, then you should do it every chance you get. We all deserve to lead a happy life and do things that are both fun and meaningful in our lives. It’s a basic human right.

So, if you have been holding back from doing something that you feel passionate about, then get out there and do it. This isn’t about anyone but your. Don’t hold back. There are no good reasons to prevent yourself from enjoying life.

Be an example for others and follow your passions; follow your dreams. You don’t have to do them well or be the best. You just have to do them.

Michael

What You Know

If you do not ask yourself what it is you know, you will go on listening to others and change will not come because you will not hear your own truth. – Saint Bartholomew

We know more than we think. We understand more about ourselves than we may believe. The issue is that we don’t believe those facts or we haven’t taken the time for introspection that is needed. Knowing yourself is a critical key to change. Of course, if you don’t want to change or grow, then not knowing yourself would be more beneficial :-)

I think that most of the times, fear is the barrier to truly know ourselves. We are afraid of what we really think or know. That’s for the simple reason that it may very conflict with how we are currently acting, behaving or dealing with situations in our lives. It could affect how and where we work. It could affect the nature of our relationships. If you have been unconsciously hiding behind a facade you could very well not even realize why you don’t feel as good as you could about your life.

The more you understand your motivations, desires, internal beliefs, emotional state in various life situations and thought processes, the better you will be able to stay in a state of relative happiness. If you repress your own truth, push away negative thoughts without facing them and don’t listen to your own intuition, the less likely you will lead a fulfilling life.

This can be scary for a variety of reasons; fear of rejection, fear of being judged, fear of the unknown and etc. But, the benefits of getting in touch with your true self are astronomical. It may be hard to fathom this if you have been living a lie or have not really looked deep inside.

Say what you mean. Follow your dreams. Don’t feel guilty about your desires. Believe in your ability to adjust to life’s problems. Know and understand yourself in a variety of situations. Give yourself a break. Basically, chill out a bit.

Michael