Being Influenced

The TV blared the news of the previous weekend events as I sat in the doctor’s office waiting room on Monday.  It was a continuous recount of the violence that occurred in Charlottesville.  After a while, I began to feel a weight from this stream of negativity.  So I looked away from the TV, put in my earplugs and read a book.

I like to be informed of current events, but I don’t need to see image after image of intentional acts of hatred.  Too much exposure to this type of negative press eventually begins to influence our thinking and how we view the world around us.  At least it can for me.  That is not how I want to be influenced.

Based on my own experience, I know there are a lot of good people doing good things in the world.  I come in contact with them every week, if not every day.  It’s these types of activities and people that I want to focus my attention on and to be influenced by.

And fortunately, they’re in large supply.  We need only look for them.

Signaling

What does each of these items have in common?

  • A car’s blinker
  • A rattling rattlesnake (I experienced this just last month!)
  • Outstretched arms and a smile

They are all signals that communicate something to those in the area.  A car’s blinker signals the driver is about to make a turn.  A buzzing rattlesnake signals that it feels threatened and wants you to move away.    Open arms and a smile almost always signals that you’re about to get a hug!

Every day we encounter and respond to multiple signals, quite often without even being aware of them.  In fact, I think that we’re often not aware of what signals we’re actually sending to others.

Consider the following:

If we… We are likely signaling…
Have our headphones or earbuds in… We aren’t interested in interacting with others or don’t want to be disturbed.

 

Are focused on our smartphone when we’re in the presence of others… There’s something more important, or more interesting, than what we’re involved in right now.

 

Look someone in the eye and ask questions when talking with them… We are interested in them and what they’re talking about.

 

Say “Hi” to someone we know when we see them… We noticed them and that they are important enough to us to say “Hello”.

 

Smile… We are friendly and approachable.

 

Think about what you’re regularly signaling to those around you.  Do those signals accurately reflect the message you want to send or the person you want to be?

Let’s work at being aware of the signals were sending those around us and, where applicable, consider signaling something more positive.

Experiences Versus Things

Last week my wife and I took our nephew to Crater Lake.  During the school year he did a report on Crater Lake (complete with a presentation in front of the class) so it was fun to be there when he first laid his eyes on the subject of his study.  We all had a great time seeing the lake, taking a tour around the rim, and visiting the lodge and visitor center.  It was a very enjoyable shared experience that we will all remember for many years to come.

I love shared experiences where good lasting memories are made.  Not only does the experience make my life more rich and interesting, sharing the memories with the people who were also there is a great way to not only relive the experience, but to build connections and deepen relationships with those involved.

Isn’t that what life is about:  sharing experiences, creating memories, and building relationships with others?

Keep your eyes open for opportunities to have positive shared experiences with those closest to you and then take advantage of those opportunities.  By doing so you’ll be building relationships as well as memories.

Said No One

“I wish I had spent more time on my smart phone.”   ~no one on their deathbed…EVER!

Every day I observe people who spend significant time on their smart phones while ignoring those around them, even when those around them are family or friends.  That always makes we  wonder, “What on your smart phone is so exciting that it causes you to willingly ignore those right in front of you?”

The thought of our last days on earth tend to bring into focus what’s really important to us.  Usually, what we say is most important are those closest to us.  It is often these people that we would like to spend our last days on Earth with.   I say, “Why wait until our last days?  Why don’t we put down our devices and start connecting with those people NOW, before it’s too late.”

This may cause you to miss a few social media posts or spend less time playing your favorite game on your smart phone, but isn’t that worth it?

Hopefully, it is.

Investing

Investingto put (money) to use, by purchase or expenditure, in something offering potential profitable returns, as interest, income, or appreciation in value.

We invest money today, like in real estate, a 401k, or an IRA, to potentially have more of it in the future.  And that’s good.  Investing is one way of preparing for tomorrow, even if tomorrow is years or decades away.  But, have you ever considered investing in yourself to ensure a bright future?

Investing in yourself can take many forms and will vary widely from person to person, based on each individual’s idea of what a “bright future” looks like.  For example, investing in yourself may mean:

  • Buying healthy nutritious food
  • Attending classes or conferences to help you grow personally or professionally
  • Regularly buying books in areas of interest
  • Spending time to read those books
  • Regularly setting aside time to exercise and be physically active
  • Spending time with family and friends who lift you up

As this small list shows, our money is not our only resource we can invest in ourselves.  Our time is an equally valuable resource that can yield tremendous returns, if we invest it wisely.

Much like financial investing, I think investing in ourselves is best done early and consistently.  Imagine how many books you can read, and in return how much knowledge or ideas you can gain.  Investing just 15 minutes a day adds up to 91.25 hours of reading in 1 year!  Also consider what it would look like if you invested $20, $50, $100 or more a month into your personal development.  That’s a significant amount!

Now imagine that you’re investing your time and money in yourself like this for several years in a row.  Better yet, imagine that investing in yourself like this is a habitual part of every year of your life.  With habits like that, the thought of each year becomes more exciting and full of more promise and opportunities than the year before!

If you’re not already doing so, consider taking some of your time and money each month and intentionally investing it in yourself.  It’s a great way to ensure that we don’t just get older with each passing year, but that we become better versions of ourselves as well.

Grateful for the Experience

Early last Sunday morning I was driving home from a weekend fly fishing trip in Central Oregon.  The temperature was a pleasant 70 degrees (Fahrenheit) under a cloudless, sunny blue sky.  It is mornings like this that make me feel especially blessed to be alive.

Since my wife was out of town, I decided to take my time getting home and enjoy being out in such a beautiful part of the state on a morning like this.  It was great!  I stopped at to look at a scenic landmark, walked through the town of Sisters Oregon, and read the Bible along the banks of the awe-inspiring Metolius River.  I felt recharged, inspired, and invigorated.

MetoliusAs I realized it was time to start making my way home, I was a little saddened that my wonderful morning was about over.  I didn’t want it to end.

Have you ever felt like that?  You’re having such a great time that the thought of it coming to an end is rather sad.  That’s how I felt this particular morning.

However, my wonderful morning reminded me of the following quote:  “Don’t be sad it’s over; be grateful you had the experience.”

Sure, it can be sad when something you enjoy comes to an end, like:

  • A fun time away from the regular routine.
  • A visit from a friend or relative.
  • The end of a rewarding job or career.
  • The loss of a beloved pet.
  • A child leaving home.
  • An enjoyable vacation/holiday.

But consider how blessed you were to have had the opportunity to create the memories those things produced.

The next time you’re feeling sad at the end of an enjoyable experience, make the mental shift from sadness to gratitude.  Be grateful for memories you just made, while eagerly looking forward to the new ones yet to come.

Perspective

A few weeks ago my wife and I were delayed while driving home over the Oregon Cascades on Highway 22.  There was an accident a few miles ahead of us that shut down traffic in both directions for 3 hours.   We certainly hadn’t anticipated that.

I can remember a time in my past when a delay like this, or even one much shorter, would have caused me great frustration and irritation.  Fortunately, I don’t get irritated over things like this anymore.  What has helped me most in this area is making sure I take a moment and actually put things in the proper perspective.

Yes, we were delayed for 3 hours, but we were also very fortunate that we weren’t involved in the accident ahead of us.  I’m sure the people who were involved would much rather have only been delayed versus having their car damaged, being injured, or experiencing loss of life.  With that perspective in mind, it made it really hard for me to get upset and start complaining, especially when I’m sitting in the beautiful Oregon Cascades with my wife, knowing we’ll be on our way soon.  In light of that, I really had nothing to complain about.

I think that when we lack the proper perspective, we often let little things frustrate us unnecessarily.

The next time you find yourself getting frustrated, pause for a moment and make sure you have the proper perspective on the situation.  If you don’t, then change your perspective.  It’s a great way to not only alleviate unnecessary stress and frustration.  It’s also a great reminder of what we have to be grateful for.