Moving forward

Have you ever had this sensation when riding a train (or bus, for that matter)? You’re sitting in your seat on the train, looking out the window at another train that’s next to you. Both trains are standing still. Suddenly, you sense movement. You feel yourself moving backward. But in reality, you’re not. Your train continues to stand still. The reason you feel yourself moving backward is because the train next to you, the one you see out the window, has started to move forward. Yet it feels for all the world like you are moving, and the way you feel like you’re moving is backward.

Actually, in relation to the other train, you are moving backward. Motion, after all, is a relative thing. When you’re jetting along in an aircraft at 30,000 feet, you and the passenger next to you, along with your iPad and your cup of ginger ale, are zipping along at more than 500 miles per hour relative to the ground. However, those things in your immediate vicinity (the iPad, the other passenger, etc.) are moving right along with you, so they don’t seem to be moving at all.

The nature of a train is to move. That’s what it’s for. Yes, it has to stop to pick up and drop off passengers. However, its job is to be in motion. Life is the same way. By its very nature, life is always in motion. By its very definition, in fact. The way you can tell if something is alive, whether plant or animal, is to look for signs of movement and change. If it’s not moving or not growing, it’s not alive.

There are two fundamental choices in life. You can either move forward or you can move backward. Standing still and just staying where you are is not really an option. If you attempt to do that, you get left behind and you do in fact end up moving backward.

That doesn’t mean you must go along with every crazy “new and improved” thing that every person and organization does. What it does mean is that you must find a way to make positive progress on your own terms. Life is inherently dynamic and to full experience the best life has to offer, you must be dynamic too. If you attempt to just stay where you are, you’ll look out the window and feel yourself moving backward.

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If you feel like quitting

If you feel like quitting, that’s great. It means you’re intensely involved. Go ahead and feel like quitting. Just don’t actually do it. Instead, experience the power in that feeling. That’s your power. With it you can do amazing things. What a waste it would be to walk away from it.

Imagine feeling like quitting, and then not quitting. That’s what success feels like. You know that because you’ve done it before. You’ve felt it before. When you feel like quitting, and then you don’t, and then you break through and get the job done, and get it done very well, that is truly a great feeling. And when you feel like quitting, you’re almost there. There’s just one more step to go.

And what if you actually do quit? Then you feel freedom for a minute or two. After that, you feel regret forever.

Don’t fight the feeling when you feel like quitting. It will most assuredly fight back even stronger, turning your own strength against you. So here’s an idea. Choose to direct all that strength in your favor. Turn the tables on your feeling of feeling like quitting. Graciously welcome that feeling and then with a gleeful mischievousness, use its considerable power to get yourself going, stronger than ever. Get the last laugh. Get the value. Get the accomplishment. Get the fulfillment.

Feel like quitting, and then keep going. Truly meaningful success is right around the next corner.

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Five techniques for getting past resentment

What has your resentment done for you lately? What positive thing has it ever done for you? Probably absolutely nothing. The sooner you can let it go, the sooner you can move on to more productive and fulfilling things. Here are five methods for doing that.

1. Realize the folly of your resentment. It’s wasting your time. It’s using your energy. It’s casting a negative light on your relationships. It’s bringing unneeded negativity to your life and your world. And in return, it is not bringing you anything of value. Why would you want to hold on to it? There’s really not a good reason.

2. Challenge your resentment. Is it even true? Are you absolutely positive that the assumptions supporting your resentment are even still true in this moment? Can you prove it? And even if you can prove that your resentment is based on truth, so what? What does being right about it really get you? It’s certainly not worth all the negativity that your resentment brings into your life.

3. Experience it fully. Okay, go ahead and get it out of your system. Immerse yourself in the resentment. Feel it in all its glory. Once you’ve had your fill (and it shouldn’t take too long if you’re really feeling it intensely), then you can know that you’ve already gotten everything you could have possibly expected from it, and you can easily let it go.

4. Find a way to be truly thankful for whatever it is you resent. That may sound strange, but think about it. Let’s say you resent that some company you do business with is giving you lousy customer service or charging prices that are too high. How could you possibly be thankful for that? Look at it as a great opportunity to find an alternative—either buying from someone else or using some alternative product or service or doing without it completely. Your resentment brings to the surface the incongruities that exist between what you expect and what you are experiencing. That’s very valuable knowledge to have and to act upon.

5. Put whatever you resent into perspective. Compare it to the overall abundance in your life and see how truly trivial it is. Visualize it in your mind as a physical object, and then visualize it getting smaller and smaller as you move far beyond it. Then see it simply disappear completely. Realize how truly easy it is to let go of your resentment, and with that realization, just go ahead and really do let go.

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Escape the comfort of your doubts

How is it that your doubts can so effectively hold you back, and prevent you from fulfilling your best possibilities? It is because they provide a comfortable place for you to hide from those possibilities. Even though you desire to achieve, you know that the achievement will have a price, in effort, commitment and sacrifice. You also know that when you venture out to seek success, there is also the very real possibility of failure. So you conjure up some doubts that quickly turn into excuses, providing you with a way to stay comfortably where you are.

There are only a few ways out. One of them is pain. Eventually, what was once a comfortable retreat becomes a prison. If you continue to deny and avoid the opportunities to move forward, you will eventually find the situation so intolerable that you’ll do whatever is necessary to get yourself out of it. Unfortunately, by the time that happens you will have lost many of your best options.

Another way out is fear. Your doubts are already based, at least in part, on fear—fear of success, fear of failure, fear of looking foolish, fear of appearing overly ambitious, and fear of the unknown. By embracing even more fearful fears, you can move beyond the original doubts. This is done by considering and focusing on all the bad things that could happen if you stay where you are. Once the fear of doing nothing is greater than the fear of taking action, you’ll be able to get yourself to take action. The problem is, when you’re constantly focused on what you don’t want, you’ll naturally tend to create those very things in your life. So although fear will get you moving, it will probably not take you where you wish to go.

The best way out of your comfort zone is with positive desire. Though it certainly requires some initiative on your part, the reward is well worth the effort. Within you is a vision of life at its very best. Within you is the desire to matter, the desire to truly make a difference, a desire to feel the sweet satisfaction of fulfilling your unique purpose. Reach in and touch that desire. Reach in and explore your dreams. Imagine, not only with your mind but also with your feelings, the experience of bringing those dreams to life. Remind yourself that it is completely reasonable and natural and good to envision the absolute best life for yourself, whatever your situation right now may be. Make your dreams so big that they completely overwhelm your doubts. Make your dreams so compelling and so continually present in your awareness that you cannot help but step up and step forward, day after day.

Escape the comfort of your doubts with life itself. Allow yourself to richly envision the best that life can be, and then really, truly live that life with everything you have. You may not always be comfortable, but then comfort is overrated. You may not always be comfortable, but you will make life great.

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The annoying hum

A few weeks ago, our 15-year-old pool pump and filter finally gave up the ghost. And to tell you the truth, I was relieved. The old equipment was loud, a 2-hour chore to clean every few weeks, and we had to run it 24 hours a day because when it was shut off for more than a few minutes, the pump would not prime on its own. Even though it was a major expense, the new state-of-the art energy-efficient pump and filter quickly got the pool water cleaner than it had ever been, and automatically shuts off at night, so we’re saving lots of electricity. It’s a snap to clean. And, it is wonderfully quiet. As I write this, I’m sitting outside, about 30 feet away from it and I absolutely cannot hear it running.

But a couple of days after it was installed, the pump suddenly got much, much louder. Actually, it wasn’t really louder when I was standing next to it. What happened was that it started sending an annoying, low-pitched hum throughout about half the house and most of the outside area around the pool. That, of course, was extremely disappointing. I could not figure out what had happened. The very knowledgeable and experienced guy who installed it told me it might get a little louder if the skimmer basket and trap basket became full of debris, so I cleaned both out completely. That seemed to help a little, but not really that much. The hum persisted and I was quite dismayed.

I tried gently nudging the equipment in the hopes that maybe I could stop the noise. I decided that perhaps the dry ground (we’re in the midst of a bad drought) might be transmitting the vibration of the pump to the house’s foundation, so I watered the grass real well around the equipment pad. That did not help at all.

I had been out to look at the equipment dozens of times, always focusing on the problem. In fact, the solution was extremely simple, and had been right in front of my eyes all along. But because I was so heavily invested in the problem itself, that annoying hum, I failed to look at the overall picture. Then, after a few days, I did finally step back to see what was happening.

It turns out there was a backwash pipe installed on the system, and that backwash pipe was resting against the downspout of the house’s gutter. The pipe was transferring the pump’s vibration to the hollow, metal gutter. That gutter was acting as a 25-foot-long acoustic amplifier, carrying the vibration up to the roof and all the way across the back of the house. The moment I pulled the backwash pipe away from the gutter, the annoying hum was completely gone.

I suddenly understood how blinded I had been to the obvious solution because I had been so annoyed and focused on the problem itself. The moment I backed away from the problem, and looked at the entire situation, it only took a few seconds to correct. Albert Einstein said, “You can never solve a problem on the level on which it was created,” and never before have I had the truth of that quote so vividly demonstrated to me.

It makes you wonder, doesn’t it? What difficult and annoying problems are you living with and complaining about, that have simple, elegant solutions that are right there, out in the open, to see?

Even though the problem whines (literally, in this case) for attention, it’s important to step back from it and to look at the whole situation. That’s when the positive possibilities will suddenly make themselves apparent.

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Don’t try… allow

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Let go of the negativity

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Fear or purpose

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The one and only you

The most effective way to compete is to ignore the competition. The greatest advantage comes to those who do not seek advantage. When you’re always focused on what the other guy is doing, it takes you away from the best of what you can be doing. When you’re fighting to gain an advantage, you’re ignoring the ultimate advantage that you already possess, which is your own unique perspective.

Do you realize how very much you are worth? You have thoughts, ideas, perceptions, skills, interests, relationships and experiences that combine in a way not duplicated anywhere else. Diamond gemstones are extremely valuable precisely because there are so few of them. You, on the other hand, are immensely more valuable because there is only one of you in the whole universe. When compared to you, there more than enough high-grade diamonds available to trigger a clearance sale.

So does it make sense for you to always be comparing yourself to others, judging your life by standards that are completely outside of you?

Consider an original painting by a talented artist. That original will sell for much, much more than even the best reproduction. Why? Because it’s the one and only original of that image. Do you really want to create value? Then don’t make a copy of what someone else has done. Make an original.

Yes, you can. How? By refusing to discount your ideas. By letting your true desires come to the surface. Challenge every one of them, by all means. But don’t disrespect them. They come from a unique and original perspective. They come from the essence of the one and only you.

No, it’s not being narcissistic to value and explore and express your own perspective. Narcissistic is going around thinking you’re better than everybody else. And if there’s one thing even more pathetic than thinking you’re worse than everyone else, it’s thinking you’re better than everyone.

The point here is, comparisons in whatever direction are futile and unproductive. Forget about comparing, and start fulfilling those possibilities that are your precious treasure. Don’t obsess over mere diamonds and other trinkets when you have something that’s incomparably more precious. You have life, from a viewpoint that’s never before been experienced, that grows more rich and interesting every day.

Don’t settle for merely gaining advantage over others. For when you have that, you really have nothing that will bring you true fulfillment. Instead, take it to a vastly higher level. Be you. Be that one and only, original expression of life and existence and thought and awareness who loves it all and lives it fully.

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Cloudy wine

Cloudy wineIt is an incredible evening. I’m sitting out by the pool in February and the temperature at 9:30 pm is 66 degrees. Perfect. A little while ago I grilled some sirloin steaks and we enjoyed a delightful dinner. Now I’m outside, writing.

A couple of weeks ago we visited a small winery in the Texas Hill County and purchased a bottle of Pinot Grigio at the steeply discounted price of $4.75. They were offering it at a discount because something had gone wrong during the winemaking process and the wine was cloudy. There was nothing at all wrong with the quality of the wine itself. It just didn’t look quite right. Because it was cloudy they could not sell it through the normal retail channels, so they were offering it to winery visitors at a deep discount. I bought one bottle. I wish now that I had bought a whole case.

Tonight, I am drinking a few glasses from that bottle. It is amazing. It is, without a doubt, the very best Pinot Grigio I have ever tasted. Yes, it is cloudy in appearance. Yet when I raise the glass to my lips and drink, that absolutely does not matter. It tastes so fresh and vibrant and wonderful that I could care less what it looks like. And actually, it doesn’t really look that bad. No, it’s not crystal clear like you would expect a white wine to be. But the more I look at it in the glass, the more appealing it appears, cloudiness and all.

We tend to think that perfection is something to be desired. But in fact, there are a lot of things that are not perfect that are nonetheless perfectly wonderful and incredibly delightful. This wine I’m drinking has a flaw in its appearance, but I absolutely don’t care because it tastes so great.

There was a very impressive and enthusiastic young lady at the winery who gave us a detailed explanation of why the wine had turned cloudy. I must say can I can’t remember all the details of what she said (we visited several other wineries that day). But I’m thankful she convinced me to buy that bottle.

We often demand perfection, but is that what we really want? It just may be that in some cases, perfection is overrated. I’m thrilled to be enjoying a magnificent bottle of wine tonight that, by any objective definition, is far short of perfect. And yet, it is perfectly wonderful. In fact, I’m beginning to think that its flaws are what make it so good.

Perfection is an admirable goal. However, even if you don’t hit it, you can have something truly marvelous. Do all you can to be your best. Even if it is not perfect, it can bring real enjoyment and magnificent blessings to life. Cheers!

 

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