Unexpected Benefits

My wife and I recently began eating a plant-based diet after watching the documentary “Eating You Alive”.  Our primary motivation for the change was the amazing health benefits.  However, this change in eating habits brought another unexpected benefit… delicious tasting new food!

Channing our diet required us to find new recipes and experiment with new spices and seasonings.  We’ve since had some wonderfully satisfying curry dishes, desserts, and stew.  When we decided to change our diet, I had no idea about all the culinary discovers we’d encounter along the way.

I’ll admit, deciding to try a plant–based diet was somewhat out of my comfort zone.  Yet, had we not made the decision to try it, we would have missed out on some new favorited dishes we’ve since discovered.  I’m glad we decided to give it a try.

The next time you have an opportunity to get out of your comfort zone to pursue something positive, go for it!  As you make the change, keep your eyes open for, and be expecting to see, some unexpected benefits.

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Jump On

When I was in early grade school my mom took several of us to the local fire department for a tour of the station.  Toward the end of the tour we were on the second for standing at the top of the fire pole.  (You know, the pole the fire fighters slide down when the alarm goes off.)  The person leading the tour was telling us about the pole when he turned to me and said, “You want to give it a try?”  In my young mind, the first floor seemed like a long way down, so I responded with, “Maybe next time.”

As I think back on that memory, some 40 years later, I wish I would have done it.  I wish I would have said, “You bet!” then jumped on the pole and slid down.  All those years ago, it was fear that kept me from a unique experience.  Now, I realize how fun that would have been and how much it would have enhanced the experience.

While I regret not sliding down the pole all those years ago, that experience continues to motivate the adult me not to pass up unique opportunities or to be needlessly fearful of new experiences.
When we’re presented with exciting new opportunities that are just outside our comfort zone, let’s begin the habit of saying, “You bet!” and jumping in.

Go Beyond Complaining

Complaining is easy and anyone can do it, but it really doesn’t accomplish much unless it’s coupled with constructive action.

Think about it, have you ever been frustrated by something and complained about it, only to find yourself frustrated by the same thing at a later date?  I have!  I’ve also noticed that the things I complain about only change for the better when I use my complaint to fuel action.  What an empowering realization that is!

Complaining, by itself does nothing to change a situation.  All it really does is cause one to feel like a helpless victim.  Complaining without action is really just us making the statement, “This sucks, and there’s nothing I can do about it.  Woe is me!”

I don’t know about you, but that’s not the mindset I want to go through life with.

Instead, our complaints should be the trigger that jump-starts our brains to begin thinking of what we can do to change the situation for the better.  Just think of how much control this gives us for the quality of life we live, as well as the impact we can have in our areas of influence.  Through our complaint-inspired actions, we can begin to change the world around us.

So what have you been complaining about… and what are you going to do about it?

Season the Experience

Last weekend was so much fun!  Here are the activities that made it so great:

  • My wife took me on a mystery date for the day on Friday. (A mystery date is where one of us plans a date and the other doesn’t know what we’re doing until we get there.)
  • Saturday we went with some friends to see Hamilton. And yes… it lived up to the hype!
  • On Sunday I played bass with our worship team at church for the first time and then had an awesome Sunday school class after church.

These events were fun, but what made them special were the people I experienced them with.  While all of the events would have still been fun had I done them by myself, they were made even sweeter by experiencing them with my wife, special family members, and good friends.

It was great to share the experiences and make memories with them.  Sharing experiences with others is like adding seasoning to food. It takes something good and makes it even better.

Think about some events or activities you will be doing or would like to do.  Then think about some people you could invite to join you to season the event.

Now make it happen!

You’re Not Perfect… but Jump In Anyhow

Have you ever had a skill you’re learning that you eagerly desire to put into practice, but you haven’t because you’re waiting until you get just a little bit better?

Yeah, me too!

I’ve been learning to play the electric bass for the past year, and I’m at a point where I’d be at least serviceable playing with a band. However, I keep thinking that I’ll be better prepared when I learn just a little more.  The problem is this will always be the case!  I’ll always be better prepared if I learn a little more.  If I follow that logic, I’d be constantly consumed with getting a little better and never take the next step and experience the joy of playing with other musicians.

I think our desire to keep learning more before we take the next step likely comes from a fear of failure. Perhaps that a topic for another blog.

Yes, we’ll always need to learn more in whatever we choose to pursue, but why not learn while we’re taking that next step? We don’t need to be perfect before we put our skills to use.  We can start with the skills we have and learn from the experience and mistakes we are certain to make.

Is there something you’re competent enough to begin doing with others that you’ve been putting off until you learn just a little more? I encourage you to jump in, knowing that you’re going to be less than perfect and make mistakes.  But also know that the experience, as well as the mistakes, will help you learn far more than you would if you held back.

It’s OK To Be Lazy

I’m going to go against conventional thinking and declare that it’s ok to be lazy. No, I’m not just talking about being lazy for an afternoon or a weekend, I’m talking about being lazy as a way of life.  We are not required to be productive or responsible. There’s no law that states we must set goals or seek to improve ourselves.  In fact, we can choose to be lazy and do as little as possible, and there’s nothing wrong with that.  It’s perfectly ok to be lazy!

However, if do we choose to be lazy, we must adjust our expectations accordingly.

Being lazy in our focus and efforts doesn’t lead us anywhere significant. Great accomplishments s aren’t achieved, goals aren’t realized, and fulfilling lives aren’t lived on the back of laziness.

This reality presents a problem only if we have high expectations for our life. Heck, even if our expectations in life are modest or average, they still require initiative, which is the complete opposite of laziness.  It is only when we do not have any expectations from life that laziness becomes a viable option.

Where we get into trouble is when our expectations are coupled with laziness. We can’t be both lazy and successful at the same time (unless our desire is to be successful at being lazy) because these two things don’t travel in the same circles.  Ambition and laziness don’t know each other, and achievement and laziness are total strangers!

When our ambitions collide with laziness, we have a decision to make: Do we lower our expectations or bid laziness adieu?

I vote that we choose the latter.

On the Calendar

“If you don’t put it on the calendar, it won’t happen.”  ~ People who know how to make things happen.

We all have things we’d like to do, learn, or experience. In fact, think of something you’d like to do, a place you really want to visit, or something you’d really like to learn.  Now answer this question:  Is it on your calendar?

The answer to that question will be the greatest indicator as to whether or not that desire will be achieved.

Now go check your calendar. Is it lacking some of the achievements and experiences you’d like to accomplish this year?  If so, make a commitment those items by putting them on your calendar.

The days on our calendar will come and go this year. When I get to the end of the year, I’ll be asking myself if I spent enough of those days perusing the goals and desires I had at the beginning of the year.  I’m expecting to answer with, “I sure did!”

I hope you are too!