Paying Attention To Ourselves

I’ve had a couple of instances recently where I should have paid attention to what I was saying to myself.  Here’s an example …

I love to pick blueberries when they’re in season in Oregon, which they are now.  Oregon blueberries are so flavorful and far superior to anything I can get in the store.  My favorite blueberry variety is Legacy, and since they were ready to pick I headed out to my favorite blueberry farm.

When I showed up and told the farm owner that I was there to pick some Legacies, he showed me on the map where they’d be.  He also let me know that I’d have to work for them because his crew had recently picked in that area.  That sounded good to me, so I headed out toward my destination.

Once I got where I thought I was supposed to be, I eagerly started picking.  After a couple of minutes I thought to myself, “There seem to be a lot of berries on these bushes for being recently picked.”  After a few more minutes of picking I thought, “These Legacies seem to be smaller than the ones I’ve picked before.”   Undeterred by these two thoughts, I kept picking until my bucket was full.

When I went to pay for the berries I picked, the owner looked down at my bucked with a perplexed look on his face and said, “You know these are Jerseys and not Legacies, right?”

Arrrrgh!!  It seems I got the instructions where to pick mixed up and picked on the wrong row.  While the Jerseys were still delicious, they were not the Legacies I was looking forward to.

What’s interesting is that I seemed to be trying to tell myself that I was in the wrong place, yet I was not listening to myself.  Looking back, I should have responded to my thoughts with one or both of the following:

  • “Yeah, these are too small to be Legacies.”
  • “Yeah, there are way too many berries on these bushes to have already been picked.”

Instead, I just ignored my own warnings.  Fortunately, the stakes were pretty low, so no real harm was done.  Still, I didn’t get the result was after because I didn’t pay attention to my own prompting.

Has this ever happened to you?  Have you ever ignored your own prompting when oy shouldn’t have?  If so, let’s make an effort to begin paying attention to the promptings and warnings we’re communicating to ourselves.  We just might know what we’re talking about.

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Being Bold

“Fortune Favors the Bold”

I really love this saying! To me it implies that good things are just waiting for those who decide to go after them.

The easiest thing to do is to sit around and wait for something to happen. While this requires minimal effort from us, it also yields minimal results.  Think about it, how often did something great happen to you as a result of simply sitting around and doing nothing?  I can’t think of anything significant in my life that was a direct result of my own inactivity.  Any worthwhile achievement has required a degree of boldness to start, and progress, down the path to where I wanted to go.

I also see fortune as far more than just money. To me, fortune can include things like:

  • Rich and varied life experiences
  • Solid relationships
  • Worthwhile achievements
  • Great opportunities
  • A fulfilling life

There is so much good fortune out there just waiting for us to be bold enough to begin moving toward it. The boldest thing we can do is take the first step toward the fortune we seek, followed by the next step, and the next step, and the step after that.  Because fortunes are attained one bold step at a time.

Now go live boldly today!

Making Decisions

“When I’ve heard all I need to make a decision, I don’t take a vote.  I make a decision.”

~Ronald Reagan

In every decision making process there comes a time when enough information has been collected, enough opinions have been gathered, and enough discussions have taken place.  This is the point when it’s time to make a decision.

Yet so often we want to gather more information or simply wait before actually deciding.  Sure, we can give ourselves plenty of good reasons why we don’t make a decision, but I think all those reasons likely boil down to fear.  Maybe it’s fear of failing, of making the wrong choice, or of looking foolish in front of others. Whatever the motivation, fear can cripple our ability to make decisions.

One thought that always helps me make a decision in the face of fear, is that if I make the wrong decision, I can always change course.

The large majority of the decisions we face aren’t life and death.  As we’re making decisions to live our best lives, we can always, and should always, make course corrections in the wake of our previous decisions.

Instead of being fearful about decisions, let’s remember that we should:

  • Make decisions when we have what we need to do so
  • Assess how we’re doing
  • Decide what changes we need to make
  • Repeat this process throughout our lives

Let’s not squander the blessings we have in our freedom to make decisions.  Nor should we relinquish that freedom by allowing someone else to make our decisions for us.  Instead, when we have all we need to make a decision, let’s do so with the confidence that we can always adjust as needed.

The Future

The future is that time when you’ll wish you’d done what you aren’t doing now.”  ~Unknown

We have more control over our future thank we realize. Your future is not some predetermined existence that will turn out the way it is “supposed to” based on destiny, fate or change.  It is pliable, waiting to be shaped by what you do today.

Here are some steps to help you achieve the future you want:

 First, know what you want your life to look like.  Although this seems simple, I think many people don’t spend any time thinking about what kind of life they want to live, but instead settle for whatever happens to turn up. Knowing what kind of life we want to live is crucial because it’s hard to get to the future we want if we don’t even know what that looks like.

Second, take a step(s) today that move you closer to the life you want to live.  This could be anything from, but not limited to:

  • Making healthier life choices
  • Building quality relationships with others
  • Making wise financial decisions
  • Learning new skills
  • Exploring new things in your areas of interest
  • Being serious about your faith, or actually discovering it

Finally, repeat steps 1 and 2 daily.  Always know what type of life you want to live and take some step, no matter how small, in that direction every day. A future worth living isn’t built in a moment, but over many days, weeks, months, and years of intentionally moving in the right direction.

 

Don’t take a passive approach to the future, hoping it will all just work out for the best. Decide how you want your future to look and take steps to make it happen.  If you do, the future, for you, will be a time when you’re grateful you did what you’re doing now.

 

 

A Journaling Tip

One thing I’m working on this year is to be more consistent in my journaling. This is important to me because journaling is a fun way to capture memories from significant, or even daily, events.  Journaling also creates great triggers that help me recall memories when I read an entry months or years later.

I’ve recently started adding a mind-mapping technique to my journaling to help capture more memories. Here’s how it works.

In the horizontal and vertical center of the page write down the event you want to remember. It might be something like “Vacation to Disneyland”, “Kids first day of school”, “Family Reunion”, First day on the new job”.  You get the idea.

Next, start writing down words and phrases about that event. Don’t write sentences, just write down the things that come to your mind when you think of the event.   Maybe it’s a place, people, an activity, a verb, and adjective… just write whatever comes to mind.

Write these words around the event you wrote in the middle of the page. I find it fun to write words at different angles and in different spots on the page.  As I run out of space, I start squeezing words in to blank spaces in between words I’ve already written.

Here’s an example of my entry for the mission trip I wrote about last week.

Journal

It would take a while to write a few sentences about every item on this page. However, in this format I can fill a page with several words about the trip that will instantly trigger my memory when I read them.

For this trip I also wrote some daily entries in sentence form for specific elements of the trip I wanted to capture in greater detail. This, coupled with the mind-mapping technique, provided a great way for me to thoroughly journal the important memories from this trip.

Give this journaling method a try and see if it works for you. You have nothing to lose and memories to gain.

Taking Advantage

Last week some folks from our church and I were on the Flathead Reservation in Pablo Montana. We were there on a work and witness trip.  We helped the church in Pablo with some painting projects and assisted with their Vacation Bible School for the children on the reservation.  It was a fun week!

While I was visiting with some of the locals, I learned about several great resources the tribe offers to its members, such as free dental, free healthcare, free college, and a cash payout when tribal members when they turn 18. I was amazed at all these great benefits and thought how fortunate tribal members are to have them, because it really sets them up for a potentially healthy and prosperous start in life; if they choose to take advantage of those resources.

However, during our week on the reservation, we saw more poverty, ill health, and dental issues than I have seen in any other community. It was such a paradox that a community with an abundance of resources would be suffering the effects that those resources would alleviate.  I was frustrated that more people weren’t taking advantage of them.

In light of that experience, I can’t help wonder how many of us aren’t taking advantage of the resources we have available to us. While we may not all have free dental, healthcare or a generous windfall, we are surrounded by numerous and equally valuable resources just waiting to be utilized.  Perhaps it’s a person we know with some knowledge we’d like to have, who would gladly share it with is if we only ask.  Maybe it’s a healthier diet that we only have to choose over the less-healthy one we’ve been selecting.  There are good resources all around us just waiting for us to avail ourselves to them.

Be on the lookout for the resources and opportunities that we’ve previously been overlooking, and decide to take advantage of them. Who knows; they could potentially change the trajectory of your life for the better.

A Story Worth Living

“The ambitions we have will become the stories we live.  If you want to know what a person’s story is about, just ask then what they want. If we don’t want anything, we are living boring stories […].”

~ Donald Miller – “A Million Miles in a Thousand Years”

 If your life is a story, would it be a story worth reading?  Here’s the bigger question:  do you want it to be?

We’re blessed that we get to choose what we want to pursue during our lifetime.  It seems a shame therefore, that we would reject this blessing by not having any ambitions, desires, or goals we’re chasing.

Sure, pursuing such things involves struggle and the ability to overcome obstacles, but isn’t that what makes a good story?  Wouldn’t overcoming obstacles in pursuit of something worthy also make for an interesting and fulfilling life?  I think so!

Be aware of your ambitions.  Know what they are and what you need to do to move toward them, and then, take those actions that will bring them about.  By doing so, you’ll be writing a story, and a life, worth living.