When do you know if you’ve made the right choice?
I’ll wait while you think about it.
(Patiently waiting and whistling a random tune).
If you said, after you make it, then Congratulaions! We have a winner.
You see, there is no right choice.
There is only an outcome that either does or does not align with what you would like to happen.
The interesting thing about choices is that you’re making them all day long. It’s just that some choices are more important than others, and the irony is that you can’t not make a choice.
One way to navigate the constant stream of choices is to not give them all equal weight. Perhaps you can find a way to automate some of the choices you have, or plan for them in advance.
You can also choose to let some situations just unfold without too much mental investment. This way you can save your mental energy for the bigger, more important choices.
When it comes to important choices you will never have all the information you need so eventually there will come a time when you’ll have to choose to act or not.
Ultimately you have to come to terms with that fact that you and everyone else are making the right choices based on information and perspectives at hand.
You see, you’ll never know if you’ve made the right choice because as of now there is no parallel universe in which you can re-run the identical scenario to see how your other choice would have played out.
Coming to terms with the fact that you made the right choice can be difficult, but then that’s a choice too.
Should the toilet paper hang over or under?
Do you brush your teeth before or after breakfast?
Is it better to shower in the morning or evening?
Is there a correct answer to any of these questions?
In the grand scheme of life these are trivial questions that lend themselves to individual preferences. But still people will debate that there’s a correct way to do any of the activities mentioned above.
How much of your energy is spent fighting for your preferences?
Is your identity tied your to your preferences?
Do you feel weak if you don’t stand strong with your preferences?
What if for one day you let go of your preferences?
Not compromise, because compromise carries its own baggage, but just let go.
If this sounds ridiculous or even a little scary that’s even better.
Go ahead and give it a try.
Remember, ultimately preferences are exactly what they say they are. It’s how you prefer a thing to be, not how it should be.
How many beautiful words do you have in your vocabulary?
Words that you can use on a regular basis to make someone smile, laugh and feel loved.
What are doing with these words?
Are you saving them for a special occasion?
You do know that if you use kind, warm, uplifting words that you won’t run out?
Then what are you saving them for?
There’s someone you know that needs to hear something nice today.
There’s a person that’s close to you that is questioning their life.
There’s a person close to you that’s had a hard day.
There’s a person that needs to know that they’re loved.
Tell them today.
You’ve been gifted with the ability to change people’s lives with words. You have a choice to make.
Are you going to use words to tear people down or lift them up?
Use all your beautiful words whenever you can. It might feel strange at first and people you’re close to might be taken back by your new found niceness but deep down, through their suspicion, they’ll appreciate your kindness.
And if you’re struggling with which words to use then here’s a suggestion.
What words would you like to hear someone say to you?
What would it look like if during your next conversation you gave the person your undivided attention?
What would it feel like if you focused on every word they said?
Do you think you’re capable of doing so?
The reality is that you can never give 100% of your attention to anything because your brain is wired for survival, so it’s constantly surveying your surroundings.
But what if, even for just a few minutes, you gave them as much attention as you could?
As Stephen Covey said in his 7 Habits book “communication is the most important skill in life.” And the first step to great communication is “first seek to understand.” However, understanding is almost impossible to do if you’re not paying attention.
So give it a try today.
In your interactions and conversations pay attention and see what happens.
Who knows? The person you’re speaking with might give you their undivided attention too.
What’s the difference between shade and shadow?
You might seek shade on a sunny day and perhaps avoid shadows on a dark night.
Both are caused by the obstruction of light.
What about in your life?
Do you avoid the shadows?
Do the temporary dark moments cause you anxiety and fear?
When you look at an object or painting it’s the shadows that give it perspective. It’s the shadows that provide the depth and richness that is often admired. The same applies to your life too.
It’s difficult to accept or embrace hardship but without it life would be flat, you would be missing the dimension of depth.
Remember, for a shadow to exist there has to be a source of light and the light can come in a variety of forms. The most powerful light will come from inside you. It will be your perspective of how you view the shadows.
Is now a good time to go for a walk?
Is now a good time to make ‘the’ call?
Is now a good time to tell them you love them?
Is now a good time to start that new project?
Is now a good time to commit to being healthy?
Is now a good time to say no?
Is now a good time to write that book, letter or memoir?
Is now a good time for…?
You won’t find now on a calendar or clock but it’s probably the most important time in your life.
Now happens in a blink of an eye.
A decision in the now doesn’t have to be huge. It can be as simple as one small action or writing something down, whatever it takes to capture your now so you can act on it as soon as possible.
What’s on your now list?
What can you do right now after reading this? Take a minute to write it down.
Now can be the difference between yes I did and wish I had.
Is it a coincidence that now spelled backwards is won?
Or maybe it’s when you learn to master your now, you’ve won.
Have you ever shared an unbiased opinion?
Do you believe that you can ever really be impartial?
It’s easy and at times reassuring to think that you can in effect share an opinion or thought that is void of bias, but probably impossible.
You see, every opinion you share is colored by your experiences, and even if you try to prevent your experience from influencing your judgement, it’s already too late.
The ultimate bias lies in self-preservation.
The need and desire to be or at least appear to be correct, right or smart is the ultimate flaw on opinions.
If you really want to express an unbiased opinion then it’s important to know and acknowledge that you do indeed have biases. And perhaps even more important, when you’re seeking advice or the opinion of others, realize that they too have biases.
The next time you’re swayed of being influenced by the opinions of others keep in mind that they’re based on their experiences not yours. And if you’re ever asked for your unbiased opinion then be honest and say that you’ll be happy to share your opinion but it will not unbiased.
Do you remember the last time you were in a smoke filled room or restaurant only to leave with your clothes smelling like the room you were in?
The lingering effect of the odor is called residual impact.
Even though you’re no longer in the environment and you couldn’t see what caused the odor you’re still affected by the experience.
Luckily for you the odor in your clothes can be quickly removed by a good cleaning.
But what about your mind?
How many different ‘smoke filled rooms’ do you take your mind through on a regular basis?
What environments do you expose it to and how much residual odor are you unknowingly experiencing.
What emotions are being triggered by what you read, see and watch?
Because it’s not readily apparent it’s very easy to deny the fact that your mind and ultimately your emotional state are affected by what you expose it to. And if you really think about it then you know that all media is designed to change your emotional state otherwise it wouldn’t exist.
Now the choice is yours.
Which smoke filled rooms do you want your mind to end up smelling like?
Consider this. You can’t walk through a sewage plant expecting to walk out smelling like roses.
Happy New Year to all of you that are celebrating the first day of the new year according to the Gregorian calendar.
Happy Monday to those of you that enjoy celebrating days because you appreciate the pleasure of seeing them.
And for those of you crazy ones that love to celebrate everything, well good for you, and keep on doing it.
The act of human celebration has been traced back to the earliest of times. Celebrations of events were and still are a core activity that brings people together to appreciate life events. In some cultures death is also heavily celebrated.
So, whether you choose to celebrate the New Year or the new day is your choice and so is how you choose to celebrate. But please do celebrate, even if it’s just for a moment and in your own way. Your brain will appreciate the celebration and will work to give you more reasons to celebrate.
Are you scrambling for last minute gift ideas?
If so, then I’ve got some great ones for you.
Now you might be thinking, ‘I don’t read your blog for gift ideas.’
But stick with me on this.
Alright, are you ready?
Here’s my list of ideas, and no, they’re not in any particular order.
- A hand written card, note or letter to a friend or loved expressing how much they mean to you.
- Patience. Make a commitment to being more patient with yourself and those around you.
- Forgiveness. This one can be difficult but well worth the effort. Forgive those that you think have wronged you and then, the most important, learn to forgive yourself.
- Time. Give someone a few minutes of your undivided attention.
- Appreciation. Take a moment to appreciate the people and possessions that you have in your life.
- Act of kindness. Commit to a day of acts of kindness.
This is probably not the kind of last minute gift ideas that are popular but the items on this list are both priceless and free, and they’re all within your reach.
Now you have a choice.
You can choose to do all, one or none.
Did you know the earth was once flat?
Ask anyone that lived a couple of thousand years ago and they would assure you that the world was indeed flat.
In fact they were so convinced that they wouldn’t dare to sail to far from their shores in fear of falling off the edge of earth.
What is your version of the world is flat?
What facts are you convinced are the truth today?
What do you believe so strongly that it’s preventing you from moving forward?
What have you heard or learned that’s made you think, ‘that’s not for me?
Knowing what they mistakenly thought was the facts have prevented many from taking action because they were defeated by their knowledge.
Defeated by perceptions of the facts, or what they were taught about the facts of their time.
Don’t let this be you.
Question the facts.
Dare to explore and go beyond what you’ve heard are the facts in the moment.
What was the last agreement you signed?
Do you remember what it said?
I’m sure at its core it said you would uphold your end of the agreement as long as the other party upheld theirs.
Although you might not look at it the same way, you also enter agreement when you respond to someone that is personally attacking you or saying things about you that you disagree with.
Your agreement with them is that when they say something to provoke you, you will respond. You will respond to defend yourself against what they are saying as if the words they’re using are really about you.
There’s no denying that words can be painful, but only if you let them. And where are they really causing the pain, to your ego?
Not allowing yourself to get caught up in the constant battle of offensive and defensive word wars is hard especially if you’re easily offended. But remember that you are making a choice to participate.
Remember the ‘sticks and stones will break my bones but words will never hurt me’ from your childhood. It’s difficult but true.
This week cancel some of your agreements to participate when provoked and see if the disagreement disappears.
Who, do you THINK you are?
I’ll give you moment to think about your answer.
In fact I’ll help you.
Think of three words you would use to describe yourself. And yes, for you over achievers you can have more than three words.
Did you think of three, or did you just keep scrolling?
Put your scrolling thumb or mouse hand away for just a moment.
This is really important.
Go ahead, I’ll wait.
Say the words out loud.
I am __________, __________, and __________.
Did it feel awkward saying it out loud?
Do you believe what you said?
Now imagine a friend or loved one is standing facing of you. They have their hands on your shoulders and you are looking in to their eyes.
Say the words to them.
Convince them that this is who you really are.
Own your words.
The words you use to describe yourself in your own mind will dictate your actions and ultimately define who you are. You are the designer and the builder.
The world will never believe who you are until you do.
Have you ever written a love letter?
A letter that describes your true feelings about a partner, a child or a friend.
A letter that brings in to focus how much a person really means to you.
A letter that details the qualities about them that brings you alive.
A love letter is a powerful tool that can strengthen a relationship even if you never share it with the person it’s written for. In fact, you can hide the letter away and read it to yourself just to remind you how you feel about them.
If a letter is too difficult for you or not your cup of tea, then write a list. Make it as detailed as possible; use words to describe them how you would as if you were head over heels for them.
Remember, the people closest to you will test you the most. Children, friends, parents, partners will all at one time or another have you asking yourself- why?
Use this letter to remind you why.
And by the way.
Let’s hope they have a letter written about you too.
How much of your attention do you really give people, especially the ones you love?
Do you rush through your interactions?
Are you ever really present?
Being fully present can be an extremely powerful feeling, both for you and the person you’re speaking to. Especially in today’s highly distracted environment, where attention spans have dwindled to almost zero.
If you have the opportunity to engage with someone today then try to be fully present. Turn your entire body, from your eyes all the way down to your feet towards them. Relax and let them speak. Just absorb what they have to say. Let them finish and give them a moment before you speak.
At first, you might feel awkward doing this but stick with it. You’re only feeling awkward because your mind has become accustomed to moving on to the next thing.
Being present and paying attention helps you really feel what the person is saying rather than just hearing it. Being present can move you from just skimming across the surface of your relationships and take you to new depths.
What would you do if you knew no one would laugh at you?
Would you dare to be creative?
Would express more of who you are?
Would you share your crazy ideas?
What if you learned that those laughing at you were actually laughing because they wish they could be more like you?
That their laughter was masking their pain and deep down they wish they had the courage to do what you are doing.
The story you tell yourself about other people is just that, it’s a story. It’s your narrative, your interpretation of what you think they’re thinking.
This is not a call to abandon personal responsibility.
It’s a call to your soul.
It’s a request for you to turn up the volume just a little more on who you really are.
Don’t let your true nature be extinguished with the passing of time. The world is waiting to hear more from the real you. It’s waiting to laugh with you, not at you.
Have you found it yet?
Do you need help looking for it?
The last time I saw it, it was hiding behind that new thing.
But then, like it’s known to do, it moved to that other thing.
It seems to have a life of its own and rarely stays in one place, but it always goes back home. It returns to the one place it feels safe because is it knows that people won’t look for it there.
It really enjoys the chase.
It loves to wear disguises and covers its true identity. So people mistake it for something else and it gets called by countless names, such as new car, new house, new friends and so many more.
But you can call it by its real names, contentment, happiness and peacefulness.
And if you stop chasing it, you will find it.
You will find it in the one place it’s always been and loves to hide.
It’s inside you.
Just waiting for you recognize it and embrace it.
How much time do you spend living in the past?
Reminiscing fondly about great memories can be a wonderful experience that you can thoroughly enjoy, but beating yourself up about things you could have done differently causes you to re-live the pain in the present.
At times it might seem as though you’re the only one that has made mistakes and has regrets, but you’re not. Everyone has something in their past that they wish they could have done differently.
Learning from your past can be great tool if used properly, but all too often people use their past as weapon against themselves. And the great irony about memories from the past is that they are often a combination of what you remember, what really happened and the story you’ve created in your mind.
Rather than focusing on your past, focus on the present. Your past will always be part of who you are, but it doesn’t have to define who you are going to be.
Do you remember the kind of grades you made in school?
How much of who you are and what you do today is influenced by those grades?
If you walk the hallways of any school or college you can see the weight of getting good grades etched in to the faces of the students. Rarely are they told that the grades that they are working so hard for does not define their full potential but only their ability to perform in that moment.
Those that do well carry their A’s as a sense of pride to their homes and in to the future, whereas those with C’s and D’s shrink with shame hoping no one notices.
The modern day grading system was created in 1792 by William Farish, a tutor in England. He created it so that he could process more children through the classroom in a shorter amount of time. The grading system that he adopted originated in shoe factories to determine if the shoes made on assembly lines were ‘up to grade.’
So, essentially a system to grade inanimate objects was taken in the name of efficiency and implemented to grade children and determine their future.
If you’ve let the grades you received in school define your capabilities and it’s worked out well for you then fantastic, but if you’ve gone through life thinking that you don’t have certain abilities because you weren’t good in school then perhaps it’s time to reconsider. Remember, grades are only one tiny measure of the entire capabilities of any individual.
Simple as they may seem, these are powerful words and when said with conviction and sincerity can create change beyond your imagination.
Today I say to you – Thank you.
Thank you for your support, comments and ideas. They have given me the courage and motivation I needed to finally publish my book.
The book is titled For You, From Me and is a collection of blog posts that have resonated with individuals over these past two years.
So again I say to you, thank you because you changed my life and hopefully my gratitude will inspire you to say thank you to someone that changed your life too.