The Ability of Music

As I’m sitting down to write this week’s blog I’m listening to the “Les Miserables Live! The 2010 Cast Album”.  The music in this soundtrack has a wide gamut of emotional connections, from big powerful numbers that get your heart rate up to those that are soft and tender that will bring tears to your eyes.

Such is the power of music.

What a blessing to live in a world with music!  Music has the uncanny ability to:

  • Encourage
  • Soothe and calm us
  • Get us fired up
  • Focus our thinking (or make us think)
  • Distract us
  • Make us laugh
  • Make us cry
  • Create connections
  • Tell stories
  • Heal us
  • Set a mood
  • Trigger memories
  • Create memories…

… and that’s just the beginning of a very long list!

If you’re not already doing so, look for way to integrate music into your daily routine.  In addition, explore new types of music you may not normally listen to.  You may discover a whole new genre that you really resonate with.

And what a blessing that would be.

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Vantage Points

“Live your life each day as you would climb a mountain.  An occasional glance toward the summit keeps the goal in mind, but many beautiful scenes are to be observed from each new vantage point.  Climb slowly, steadily, enjoying each passing moment; and the view from the summit will serve as a fitting climax for the journey.”          ~Harold V. Melchert

It’s much easier for me to become focused on a result rather on a process.  Whether it’s reading a book, working on a project, learning to play the bass, or learning to use new software, my mind easily slips into thinking primarily about the completion of these things rather than enjoying the process of coming to the completion.  While it’s good to be focused on a goal or outcome, I think it’s also important to enjoy the process of getting there.

This year I started learning how to play the electric bass guitar.  I’ve been at it about 8 months now and I’m not very good.  However, I am MUCH better than I was at the beginning of the year!   It’s encouraging when I stop and think about what I know today that I didn’t know a few months or weeks ago.  Stopping to enjoy my progress makes me want to keep working to get better.

If I were only focused on the end goal of becoming a good bass player, without considering the significant progress I’ve made, I’d be rather frustrated right now.  And frankly, I’d likely give up.

If there’s something in your life you’re working to achieve or become, be sure you’re taking time and enjoy the vantage point from the progress you’ve make thus far.  It will encourage you to press ahead.

What a Bargain

My wife just got back from a business trip and showed me a book on nutrition that she had picked up while she was gone.  As I thumbed through the pages, noting the many sections I want to go read, I was reminded what a bargain books are.

A book represents access to the author’s knowledge, experience, ideas, and creativity that likely took them significant time and money to acquire.  Yet we can have access to their insights for just a few dollars and a few hours of our time.  Think about that; what took someone a lifetime to learn, we can benefit from for a fraction of the cost.  That’s a bargain!

Regardless of whether the format is audio, electronic or old-school paper pages, there isn’t a topic I can think of that books won’t help us do better.

What are you currently working to improve in your personal or professional life?  I’ll bet there’s a good book on the topic to help you go further in that area.  As such, we should see books not as purchases, but rather as investments we make in ourselves; investments that have the potential to offer positive disproportional returns.

What We Don’t Know

We think we know more than we actually do.  Consider the following scenarios:

Scenario What we think
Someone cuts us off in traffic. They are mean-spirited jerks and did that to us on purpose.
Someone is short or rude with us. They are also a jerk, just like the person who cut us off in traffic!  What a jerk.  What a rude jerk!
We reach out to someone via email, text, or phone call and they don’t respond. They must be mad at us.

The “What we think” column sounds rather petty as I write this, but I’ll admit that I’ve often made quick judgments in similar scenarios.   What I’ve discovered is that my quick judgments, like the ones above, are seldom, if ever, accurate.

What if, for example:

  • The person who cut us off in traffic didn’t see us when they were getting over and would have been mortified to know they had done that.
  • The person who was short with me just got a bad medical diagnoses about themselves or a loved one.
  • The person who didn’t respond to an email or text has been preoccupied with an urgent family emergency or has just been busy and hasn’t had the chance to respond, even though they have been thinking about us.

The next time we’re presented with a similar scenario, let’s consider something besides or initial negative judgement; perhaps a response with a little more grace and understanding.  Just like the type of response we’d like to receive.