Things Look Different Close Up

I prefer the window seat whenever I fly, because the view is spectacular!  Everything appears so peaceful.  Mountain ranges are picturesque.  Cities appear slow, calm and quite.  Everything seems to be in order.  From 30,000 feet above, things look pretty good.

View From a Distance

This peaceful view, however, hides the reality the conditions below.  Frigid winter temperatures, scorching summer heat, or a congested, noisy city aren’t really noticeable when viewed at in climate controlled comfort at 30,000 feet.

It’s not until we get up close to the environment that we realize things are markedly different thank they first appeared.

I think it’s like that with people as well.  From a distance, people often appear to be free of difficulty or challenges in their life.  Yet it’s not until we get close up and connect with someone that we realize they are facing challenges, concerns or difficulties that aren’t easily seen from a distance.

This thought reminds me that most people are likely struggling with, worried about, or concerned with something that’s not visible to us.  It also reminds me that I would do well to approach others with grace and, when appropriate, the willingness to be close up.

Without Even Knowing

On Friday June 2nd at about 9:45am Pacific Time, I completed the Rim to Rim hike in the Grand Canyon.  This is a hike I have wanted to do since first visiting the Grand Canyon back in 2013.  It was a fantastic experience that I will never forget.

Completion

One of the key motivators for doing this hike was a view of Plateau Point I saw from the South Rim during my visit in 2013.  Plateau Point is easily visible from the south rim of the canyon, just west of the El Tovar Lodge.

Plateau Point

What captivated me about this view was the small trail that lead out to the point.  From my vantage several thousand feet above I could see people walking along that trail toward the end of the point.  As I watched them, I wondered what type of view they must have and how great it must be to be down there walking that trail.  Their presence on the trail intrigued me and stirred a desire to find out for myself what that experience is like.

The people I saw on the tail had no idea that I was watching them and that their presence on the trail was motivating me to one day hike that trail as part of my Rim to Rim experience.  As I hiked the trail to the end of Plateau Point last week, I wondered if there were people on the South Rim watching me.  I’d like to think there was someone that saw me and thought, “That looks like something I’d like to do.  I’m going to make that happen!”

I think we can motivate others to do great things without even knowing it.  The people I saw on Plateau Point back in 2013 had no idea they were inspiring me to take action.  They were simply doing their thing out on the trail.

I like to think that maybe I’ve been able to do the same for others.

Keeping Our Word

“When you promise a kid something, you’d better do it. They take it seriously.”   ~Unknown

When I came across this quote recently, I was reminded of a nephew of ours.  Last year when my wife and I went to visit him and his family, he mentioned a specific hike that he’d like to do the next time we came to town.  I told him that next time we were in town, we would do the hike together.

We’ll be going to visit him this summer and I’m already planning on doing this hike with him.  It’s going to be a fun time!

It’s not just kids that notice when we don’t keep our word.  Adults notice too.

Making promises or committing to something is easy.  Following through on those promises requires more from us than mere words.  It requires not only action, but a mindset that our words have value and that when we commit to something we’ll follow through. To do so, or not, says something about our word and our character.

Let’s be aware of the promises we make.  If we make a promise, to a child or another adult, let’s commit to following through.  Otherwise, refrain from making promises we know we won’t keep.

Sharing What We Know

“Everybody is ignorant, only in different subjects.”   ~Will Rogers

Think of all the things you know, from your skills, to experience, to the knowledge you possess. If you were to write them all down, it would likely take multiple sheets of paper.

Now consider all the things you don’t know.  Whereas your list of things you knew would fill pages, the list of what you don’t know would fill multiple volumes.  I know my list would!

And that’s ok.

This quote reminds me that although I have many skills, talents, and knowledge I can offer the world, I am also dependent on others to do the same.

For instance, I know nothing about:

  • Indoor plumbing (except for how to use it!)
  • Electricity distribution
  • Growing fruits and vegetables on a large scale
  • Processing oil into gasoline
  • Building a refrigerator, oven, microwave, or other major appliance
  • Performing dentistry
  • Or a zillion other things!

However, fortunately for me, there are other people that know all about these topics, and who gladly offer their skills and talents in service to the rest of us.

For that, I’m grateful!

Choosing Responses

Last Saturday I got a phone call from a relative who was experiencing computer problems and they needed help.  Computers are not this person’s thing, so when something with their computer goes wrong, it’s a catastrophe for them.  This case was no exception.  They were frustrated, stressed out, worked up, and not handling it very well.

As I was helping them solve their computer issue, it would have been easy to let this person’s stress and negative energy cause me to become stressed out and irritable as well.  (In the past, that’s exactly what I would have done!)  But a negative response to a stressful situation is not a forgone conclusion, it’s a choice.

I think that’s good news!  If our negative response to a stressful situation is a choice, that means we can choose to respond positively instead.

Other people don’t make us behave poorly or bring out the worst in us.  The more accurate statement is that we chose to behave poorly around them.

While that comment stings a little, it also reminds me that other people don’t have control over how I respond to them, unless I hand control over to them.  Ultimately, we are each responsible for our responses, regardless of the influence of others.  And for that, I’m thankful.

The next time you feel yourself getting stressed out or worked up because of someone else’s negative influence, pause for a moment and remember that how you respond is your choice.  Then, choose how you ‘d like to respond.

More Similar Than Not

My wife and I spend a long weekend in New York City a couple of weeks ago.  It was our second time in the city and we got to see several sights we didn’t get to on our first visit, like Ellis Island, the 9/11 museum, and walking across the Brooklyn Bridge on a beautiful sunny day.  We had a great time!

One of my favorite things about being in New York City is hearing all the different languages being spoken and interacting with people from all over the world.  It again reminds me that regardless of where we’re from or our cultural background, we’re all more similar than we realize.

For example, we were outside Federal Hall Saturday morning the same time as a large group from China.  I was intrigued by this group as I noticed how they all wanted their picture taking under the large statue of George Washington.  I especially enjoyed watching all of the different poses they were making.  There was everything from the classic family vacation photo, to the “thumbs up” sign, as well as both arms stretched skyward, all the while, with faces displaying big genuine grins.

Federal Hall

We witnessed this type of scene being played out throughout the city with people from all over the globe.  Regardless of their culture or homeland, they looked like tourists having a good time.  In that respect, we all looked the same.

It was refreshing to see, in light of current global political climate.  There seems to be a lot of focus, and likely fear, on how we’re different from one another.  It was nice to see just how similar we are all as fellow human beings.

What You’re Allowing In

I recently re-read the book “Where Will You Be 5 Years From Today”.  It’s an encouraging book that makes you think of the trajectory you are setting for your life that will lead you to where you want to be in 5 years.  This is one of those books that should be required reading every couple of years.

As I read, I was reminded how much my attitude and outlook is impacted when I actively fill my mind with positive, though-provoking content.  My mind feels sharper, opportunities seem more abundant, and good ideas and positive thoughts are in no short supply.  I just feel better when I’m feeding my mind with good content.

The thoughts we have are a function of what we’ve already allowed into our mind.  Therefore, it seems reasonable that if we want to have good thoughts, we should be sure our minds are filled with good content.  Think of it like priming a pump or fertilizing the “soil of our mind” that produces our thoughts.

Good thoughts don’t happen by accident.  It’s the intentional behavior of not only allowing good content in, but also guarding our minds against the avalanche of negative content that is so pervasive.  While guarding our minds requires work on our end, it is work that will enrich our lives in the form of better thinking.

Guard your mind, for it will produce and abundant return of whatever you allow in.  Make sure that what you’re allowing in is what you’d like to get out later.