Reminder That We Need Each Other

I had a good laugh with the pastor of my church a couple weeks ago when a few of us were working on something in a Microsoft Excel spreadsheet.  As he was navigating the spreadsheet on his laptop, a couple of us were telling him what buttons to press to make something happen.  As we were all laughing at the process, he stated, “They didn’t teach us how to do this stuff in seminary.” 

His comment reminded me how we need the skills and talents of others.  There’s no way any one of us can know everything.  I don’t know anyone who can do all of the following:

  • Use a spreadsheet
  • Perform dentistry
  • Make gasoline
  • Build a cell phone tower
  • Build a cell phone
  • Fly a passenger aircraft
  • Perform surgery
  • Build a car
  • Make steel
  • Grow vegetable on a commercial scale
  • Operate a railroad
  • Build or operate a hydro-electric power plant
  • Professionally counsel someone through personal difficulties
  • Run a city sewer system
  • Build a skyscraper
  • Compose music
  • Play a musical instrument
  • And on and on and on…

I’m fortunate that we can rely on others to help where our knowledge falls short.  Often times, we don’t even think about all the people that we’ll never meet that are behind some of the technology, infrastructure, and entertainment we use every day.  However, we daily benefit from their contributions.

What I’m also grateful for is that we can contribute our skills and talents to improve the lives of others too!  To me it seems like the best way that we can say, “Thank you” to those whose efforts benefit us, is to give our effort to improve the lives of others. 

Reintegrating Old Habits

There are 2 things I especially enjoy about the month of January.  I love the fact that January means that Spring is only a couple of months away!  January is also a great time to look back on your life and take stock of how you’ve been doing, and to also look ahead and make adjustments.  I love that process!  This year especially, because I’ve identified a few old habits that I’d like to make a more-regular part of my life in 2022 and in the years ahead.

First, I’d like to get back into the habit of consuming personal development material.  Lately, I’ve been reading a lot of books and listening to podcasts about biographies and historic events, which have been very interesting and enjoyable.  However, this month I started listening to personal development podcasts and reading books on the same topic.  I have been reminded what a boost this kind of content is to my attitude and outlook.  This is something I want more of.

I’ve also started exploring options for regional travel.  I live in the Pacific Northwest and there are all sorts of cool places to get out and see and explore.  A lot of our travel over the past few years (not counting COVID years) has been out of the region.  While we still want to do plenty of other travel, we’re also focusing on seeing what’s to us in the PNW.   I’m finding there’s plenty of adventure out there just waiting for us to discover it.

Finally, I’ve started journaling again.  This is one habit that I’ve had a hard time sticking to long term.  I seem to have seasons where I’m journaling more, but I’d really like to make this a regular daily habit.  The reason is because I’m just better personally when I’m journaling regularly.  My thinking feels clearer, I feel more observant and engaged in life, and I like the ability to go review what I’ve read in years past.  It chronicles my own personal growth journey.

What habits to you have (or have had) that you’d like to make a more regular part of your life?  Give it some thought, and when you come up with something, put systems in place to ensure the behavior does, indeed, become a habit.  Your future self is rooting for you!       

Now’s A Good Time

“Look around, at how lucky we are to be alive right now!”  ~Hamilton

If I could choose to live during any time in history, I’d choose now.  Yes, there are a lot of things that are crazy and concerning right now, but I’m amazed at the technology that’s currently available to us.  

Just this week my wife and I were discussing a topic we needed to make a decsion on that neither one of is knew much about.  After about 30 minutes of online research, we were able to gather accurate information that helped us focus our thinking and make a decision.  How great is it that we can be completely clueless one minute, and after a few mintes of due dilligenc, we can be informed to the point of being able to make an informed decision? 

And it’s not just internet research I’m grateful for.  In addtion, my list includes things from music platforms like Spotify (gone are the days of creating a mix tape on cassettes!), to being able to work from home, or any other location with a broadband connection, to opportunites to connect with people all over the world. 

I am amazed and grateful.  We are indeed lucky to be alive right now.

A Different Look At Resolutions

Are you thinking of making a New Year’s resolution?  Are you also thinking that whatever resolution you make, will likely be forgotten before the first month of the new year is over?  If so, perhaps consider this; instead of a lofty goal to achieve, consider what kind of person you’d like to become over the next 12 months.

The reason I like this approach so much is because over the next 12 months (and for the rest of our lives, actually!) we’re going to become something.  Why not choose what type of person we want to become, and take small daily steps toward becoming that person? 

For example, if we want to be a someone that lives a healthy lifestyle, we can daily ask ourselves if what we eat or our level of activity is consistent with the healthy person we decided we want to become.  Our answers will confirm that we’re on track or that we might need a course correction. 

We’re fortunate, that even though there are plenty of things that are out of our control, we still have the ability to chose what we become.  And that change comes through small steps made daily, over the scope of months, years, and decades.  As mentioned earlier, we’ll become something.  Let’s be intentional with what that “something” is.

I’m Glad I Noticed

I’ve been playing the electric bass guitar on the worship team at my church for about 3 years.  One of the many things I enjoy about being on the worship team is the view I get from being on stage.  It’s fun to look out and see the people in the audience and even the others on stage.  And sometimes, I’m fortunate to see things other people don’t.

For example, last week during the service, we had a young family come up and read some Scripture as part of the fourth Sunday of Advent.  The family consisted of mom, dad, and two young boys, who had to be about 4 and 7.  They stood in front of me and to the right, not more than about 10 feet away.

Mom and dad each read a section of scripture before handing the microphone to the 7-year-old, who began reading his lines in a nervous young voice.  As I was watching from behind, I noticed the dad place his hand on his oldest son’s shoulder in a gesture of support.  As the boy began to read, the dad moved his hand and began gently scratching the boys back, to provide comfort and reassure him that he was doing just fine.  It was a beautiful picture of a father being present.  I’m grateful that I had a front row seat to this event… and I’m glad I noticed.

From an elderly husband holding a door open for his wife, to a reassuring touch to a child from a loving parent, to a heart-felt slap on the back from a good friend, these types of touching scenes are happening all around us, and they often go unnoticed. 

I encourage you to keep your eyes open for these occurrences around you.  Not only will it make you feel good, but may it also encourage us to go and do likewise to those we care about. 

More Of

What do you want more of in your life?  Maybe it’s peace or joy.  Perhaps you’d like better health or more close relationships.  Whatever it is that you want more of, get a picture of what that looks like, because you’re going to need that picture for the next paragraph.

Do you have that picture of what more of whatever you decided you want in your life looks like?  Good!  Now, today, take the first step, no matter how small, that causes that picture to become more of a reality in your life.  Then tomorrow, take the next step, and likewise the day after that and beyond.

Without a change, we’ll continue getting more of the same, which can be good if you’re actively moving toward something you want.  If, however, there’s something more you want, you’re only a few small steps away from heading in that direction.

Don’t dely. 

A Belated Thank You

Have you ever found the solution to a problem you’ve faced in the pages of a “How To” book, or as the result of a Google search?  I have… many times!!  I’m so grateful that the people who provided the content I’ve used to solve problems took the time to actually make it available in a book or online format.  To them, I owe a long overdue “Thank you”.

It’s easy to take for granted all the content that is available to us to help navigate problems we face.  However, the content we consume did not show up by accident.  It’s all the result of people who have faced a problem, overcome it, and deciding to take the time to document what they’ve learned and make it available for others to use.

From other peoples’ experience, I’ve learned how to:

  • Fix minor car issues
  • Correct a shoulder injury
  • Use software more effectively
  • Write code for work
  • Improve my electric bass playing techniques
  • Cook new dishes
  • Improve my health
  • A zillion other things

So, I’d just like to take this week’s post to say, “Thank you” to all the people who share what they know with others.  I’m grateful for your contribution.

Small Steps Forward

One reason I think life is so interesting is that there is so much to learn and improve at.  From our skills in the workplace, to hobbies and interests, to character improvements, to relational skills and even spiritual growth, we have a neve-ending source of areas where we can improve.  And while I am energized by this thought, at times, I also find it rather frustrating. 

The source of this frustration, for me, comes when the improvement happens slower than I would like.  Yes, I know improvement takes time, but still, I often wish it came a little (or a lot!) quicker.

That’s why the following comment I read last week resonated so much with me.  It said,

“We change not in giant leaps, but one small step at a time.  Your have the rest of your life, so be patient with yourself.”

I love this statement because it reminds me that my real goal in life is continuous improvement versus being an unachievable form of perfect right now.  It also reminds me that progress adds up over time.  Therefore, if I’m a life-long learner, which I am, I’ve got a lifetime to get better.

That thought is a good antidote for alleviating my frustration at a perceived slow rate of progress.  All I really need to do is continue making small steps forward.

Choose How You Age

Most of the weakness and frailty we blame on aging is not due to getting older but to inactivity.”

~Dottie Billington

When I read the quote above earlier this week in Dottie’s book titled, “Life is an Attitude: How to Grow Forever Better”, it leapt off the page at me, because I’ve also heard complaints from people recently about the negative impacts of aging.  These complaints have come in the form of a frustrated resignation that this deterioration is an inevitable part of aging.  I disagree.

Every day we get to choose to either be sedentary or to carve out time in the day to move our bodies.  If we choose one day not to move about or exercise, that single day really won’t have an impact on us.  However, if we decide day after day not to move or exercise, the compounding of those days over month, years, and decades, will certainly have negative impacts on our physical ability as we age. 

Likewise, if we choose to exercise and move every day, the compounding effects of those decisions over months, years, and decades, will have a positive impact on our physical ability in the years to come.

By exercising our bodies (and our minds!) we’re telling ourselves that we need our bodies and minds to be in peak shape, because we plan on using them.  Here’s the cool think, when we train our minds and bodies to be ready for use… they respond!

What encourages me most to reject the assumption that we deteriorate as we get older, is that I’ve seen too much evidence to the contrary in the lives of folks that have been around a lot longer than I have.

I encourage you to reject the false assumption that aging is a downward spiral and that after a certain age, you’re washed.  That statement is only true if you choose to believe it.

So how have you decided that you’re going to age?

You’re Just The Right Person

I was talking with some folks this week that mentioned they occasionally have doubt whether they belong in the career position they’re currently in, which they both enjoy.  It’s interesting to me how often we doubt our own abilities.  Especially when we’re actually doing, and enjoy, the very thing we doubt we can do.  Seems kind of funny when you think about that way. 

Usually, it’s our own thoughts that cause us to doubt our abilities.  Thought like:

  • I’m not smart enough
  • I haven’t been doing this very long
  • I feel like an imposter
  • Other people could do a much better job than I can
  • And a zillion other self-defeating thoughts.

Here’s a bit of encouragement for all of us when we begin to doubt our abilities in what we’re doing. 

If:

  • You are currently doing it
  • You enjoy doing it
  • You are actively learning and applying yourself to get better…

Then you’re just the right person to be doing what you’re doing.

It’s as simple as that.  Sure, you need a basic level of competence.  However, there is nowhere that states we’re required to be the smartest person, or to have all the answers before we can hold a position or offer our skills to the world.  If you hold a position that you enjoy, and are learning and growing in it, then you belong there.

Now that that’s settled, ditch the doubt and move forward, offering your best to what you do.  The world needs what you have to offer.