10 Steps Toward Making the Most of Today

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10 Steps Toward Making the Most of Today

“Being spontaneous is being able to respond with confidence; calmly trusting that, whatever the outcome, you will have a positive if challenging experience that will lead to greater self-awareness and success.” Sylvia Clare, Trusting Your Intuition: Rediscover Your True Self to Achieve a Richer, More Rewarding Life

There are so many times throughout a year when we can seize a moment and make a fresh start. Although we may have a plan or a map of how to start or how to achieve our goals spontaneity makes those moments special and memorable.

Most of us think of the New Year as the greatest starting point. That is understandable and encouraging but what about moments like the start of a new week or a new month? What about the moment something happens, good or bad, and you feel changed? What about a birthday? I like these odd moments because they usually take place right smack dab in the middle of an on-going life and why not make those moments stand out as a huge shout out to the world that life started right here, right now?

My daughter’s birthday is coming up soon and what a great paradox to have her new year start when the world’s year ends. It got me to thinking about wanting to make the most of everyday and how time kinda slips by without awareness and celebration or spontaneity because we get so caught up in the details and sameness.

It’s easy to celebrate my daughter for many reasons but 2 reasons stand out for me. The first is because we are caught up in the holiday season of giving and happiness and the second is because she makes it so easy to celebrate her. I have a plan in mind for celebrating her birthday with her but the spontaneity of the details will be what make the memory last.

In the book The Art of Manliness, authors Brett and Kate McKay write that the first rule for making the most out of life is to leave yourself behind and dive into interests outside of yourself. “We only live, says philosopher Fichte, when we love.” Can you remember a time when you felt so filled and content because you volunteered or purposely put aside your own interests to take up the interests of someone you cared about? Birthdays allow you to do that and it is a great spring board into who else you can honor or celebrate or do for.

The second rule to making the most out of life is “to steer your life, not drift through it”. I took it upon myself to steer my daughter’s birthday activities, I didn’t leave her to drift through her special day without love and acknowledgement and celebration. It will be up to her to mine all the goodness and specialness of the day but the map will be provided. At the very least have a plan but be flexible for whatever comes along on the journey.

The third rule is to use your strength both physical and psychological. The authors quote Emerson, “Trust in your own deep and permanent convictions of self-reliance and God reliance.” I interpret this to mean that all that I believe in of myself and my abilities is also all that was given to me by God, the intuitions of who I am and how I manifest all that is within me. I know so much about the things my daughter likes and enjoys and I do all that is within my power to bring those joys to her. That “knowing” is like a warm blanket on a cold winter’s day for her and for me.

The fourth rule is to trust in myself. With all my heart I want to make this day special and filled with happy memories and love. Fate will play the part it plays but perspective and attitude will take it to a higher level. I trust my love for her and she trusts me. It’s a win-win.

The question is not so much how to make the most out of life but how to make the most out of each individual day. Breaking it down into bite size pieces might mean how to make the most out of this hour or this moment. It requires deep awareness and perhaps a huge dose of spontaneity but oh what a time it will be.

“Isn’t it nice to think that tomorrow is a new day with no mistakes in it yet?” L.M. Montgomery

How to make the most of today:

Find at least one moment in each day where you can break the rules. In breaking the rules you learn about your limits and you question everything. Progress can’t happen unless you get outside your comfort zone and see what you can see with no rules to blind you.

“There are three things in life…not worrying what they are, not caring what others may think they are, and enjoying the wonder of what they might be.” Tom Althouse

Don’t quit. You’ve heard these stories a thousand times; J.K. Rowling was rejected by every publisher she went to for a full year before someone took a chance on her Harry Potter stories, Michael Jordan was cut from his high school basketball team because he wasn’t what they needed. Can you imagine what would have happened if these people quit? What story is waiting to be told about you simply because you refused to quit?

“Most people quit because they look how far they have to go, not how far they have come.” Ziad K. Abdelnour

Slow down, you move too fast. Breathe in deeply, exhale slowly, repeat. If something catches your eye stop and watch for a while. Being in a hurry causes you to miss way too much of the life going on around you today. What would happen if you were 5 minutes late to the office from your lunch break? What impact could those 5 extra minutes mean to you or someone you run into?

“To enjoy just being somewhere, rather than rushing from somewhere, to somewhere. Inhaling deep lungfuls of air, instead of my usual shallow breaths. I take a moment to just stop and look around me. And smile to myself.” “For the first time in a long time, I can, quite literally, smell the coffee.” Alexandra Potter, The Two Lives of Miss Charlotte Merryweather

Make just one decision. Let today be the day that all of your fact gathering comes together so that you can finally make a move on the things that have been holding you back. Practice making a small decision today so that when it comes time for the big decisions your life will ask you to make you will have confidence that you know how to show up and make it count.

“Someone once said anyone can be great under rosy circumstances, but the true test of character is measured by how well a person makes decisions during difficult times.” Jack Gantos, Hole in My Life

“To thine own self be true” encourages Mr. Shakespeare. What would happen if you didn’t behave the way everyone expected you to? What would happen if you were just the authentic, raw, genuine you all day long, everywhere you went? What would be unleashed because you allowed your true self to shine on?

“Don’t bend; don’t water it down; don’t try to make it logical; don’t edit your own soul according to the fashion. Rather, follow your most intense obsessions mercilessly.” Franz Kafka

“Whether you think you can or you think you can’t, you are right”. –Henry Ford. What truth are you believing that simply isn’t true in reality? This goes beyond quitting. This speaks to the barriers you have built to protect yourself from failure. FAIL!!! Go ahead I dare you. You’ll never know what you can do or think or be until you do it. Give it all you’ve got. What a story you will have at the end of the day and what momentum you’ll build for the next day.

Get creative. I don’t buy into the thought that some people are creative and others are not. Can you think for yourself? Can you imagine, dream, hope, or wish? Then you are creative. You may not be able to paint like Picasso but you can paint if you want to. Be uniquely you and let your freak flag fly. The world needs exactly you today so go, be, do and stamp today as only you know how.

“There is a vitality, a life force, an energy, a quickening that is translated through you into action, and because there is only one of you in all time, this expression is unique. And if you block it, it will never exist through any other medium and will be lost.” Martha Graham

Collect gratitude. Challenge yourself that at the end of today you will find, discover and rejoice in at least 10 things to be grateful for, good and bad. Each day has its own uniqueness. Aside from life itself what made today stand out in such a way that you were grateful for having been given the gift that only today could bring?

“Cultivate the habit of being grateful for everything that comes to you, and to give thanks continuously. And because all things have contributed to your advancement, you should include all things in your gratitude.” Ralph Waldo Emerson

If you build it they will come. What are you working on that needs that little extra push today? Are you building self-worth? Are you building a family? Are you building spiritual strength? Are you building your brain and/or physical muscle? Whatever you are building you are also building inspiration for someone else. People love to be inspired. Who inspires you and how are you building that within you? Who is watching and hoping for you to succeed?

“Silly girl, it’s not what the universe gives us that matters. It’s what we give the universe.” Lauren Myracle (Let It Snow)

Anything worth having is worth working hard for. Are you a parent? Are you building a business? Are you training for the Olympics? Are you a writer? Are you a singer? Are you a scientist? What is it you are reaching for that just seems so hard to attain? WORK IT!! Passion, genuineness, compassion, confidence, sweat, tears, and pain. How sweet the victory when you have finally climbed that mountain. What is life about if not to push ourselves to achieve our dreams? What is your dream and how badly do you want it? Today is the day to take the next step toward what you want.

“No one ever drowned in sweat.” United States Marine Corps

Call to Action

What can you do right now to make the most of this moment?

Where can you begin to open opportunities for spontaneity into your days/life?

How can you make the most of your day(s)?

 

 

 

 

 

10 Times Gratitude Annihilates Entitlement

 

 

entitlement

“The brick walls are there for a reason. The brick walls are not there to keep us out. The brick walls are there to give us a chance to show how badly we want something. Because the brick walls are there to stop the people who don’t want it badly enough. They’re there to stop the other people.” Randy Pausch, The Last Lecture

What is up with entitlement? Why do so many children and teenagers feel entitled to stuff like trophies of accomplishment in sports without much effort put into it or a student allowed to not do homework because the parent complained and said it was too much? Why do kids and adults feel deserving of good grades and accolades if they didn’t sweat through the hard part of a study session or project? Why do teenagers feel that doing something for someone has to be a chore or a high school graduation requirement in order for it to get done at all?

Let’s take a deeper look.

Entitlement is defined as the condition of having a right to have, do or get something; the feeling or belief that you deserve to be given something. The only right that human beings have is the right to stay alive. How they do that is up to them.

Here is a small but powerful example:

My youngest has just graduated from high school. To hear him talk about his entire school career you would think he was imprisoned for the first 18 years of his life for a crime he didn’t commit and has finally made parole. He is taking time off from school and academics and is going to try his hand at working for a while. He feels he deserves to have money but not necessarily because he earned it. He just thinks that because he needs money for something he should just be given the money.

Here it comes…..ready? He refuses to look for a job or take any job that pays minimum wage.

Wait, what? “You come from a middle class, hard-working family with not one ounce of a sense of entitlement ever shown to you. You grew up with the philosophy that anything you want badly enough is worth working hard for.” How can it be that he feels it beneath him to work for minimum wage when he has absolutely no expenses weighing him down ( that could be entitlement, I’ll have to really think about that one), no working world experiences to offer any employer and not even a decent enough education to see him through? And let me just say, he is not alone. He has a graduating class full of peers that feel the exact same way.

Where did this come from?

So, ok, I can almost kinda, sorta sense a reason for such a statement (and I’m not really reaching too deep to find this). It costs a whole lot more to be a teenager these days than it did when it was my turn. I know, my parents said the same thing but truly, our cost of living is not slightly left of center it is on another planet.

Just look at how much 2 movie tickets cost now, forget the fact that we have IMAX. For $20 my husband and I not only saw a movie but we put gas in the car that same night and went for ice cream or a burger and fries at the diner. Not so much now. And there is the new reality of a depressed economy that is just about shutting out the teenagers from getting any kind of start-up job because so many late twenties through eighties adults need the jobs to pay the real bills so I suppose you could argue the point of how is he supposed to get money if he can’t even get a job. But that’s where I draw my sympathetic line in the sand. Just like we all had to work for the money to joy ride and live it up so does he. Although life costs a crazy amount to live and breathe now there are also waaaayyyy more income options than when I was a teenager.

“Sometimes I just want to paint the words “It’s my fault” across my forehead to save people the time of being pissed off at me.” Christina Westover

This is what I do best. I blame myself for all the failings of my children. Somehow, some way, I must have showed him that it’s okay to skip a step in his evolution but I can’t for the life of me figure out how I did that. Okay, is it possible it wasn’t entirely my fault? He didn’t grow up strictly under my roof. He was influenced by the outside world; TV, music lyrics, peers, and oh yeah, those trophies awarded to all the team members just for showing up regardless of if they played or how they played. Silly, that something seemingly so trivial and touted as “fair” could wreak such havoc on the growing and developing psyche.

What was there to strive for anyway, everyone was getting a trophy and going to hear their name announced. He’d get his 15 seconds of fame for every team he played on and for every year he played. Oh but wait, when he got to high school not everyone got a trophy, suddenly not everyone got in the spot light unless they did something news worthy (good or bad). Oh man, now he had to actually work hard for something. As the reality started settling in he withdrew instead of standing tall and decided, sadly, nothing was worth that much effort. No matter how often we all rallied and tried to show him all the gifts he was blessed with he turned away. He turned away from family, away from his core of peers and coaches and teachers, away from himself. Academics were too hard to work through so he did as little as possible. He actually chose the school of hard knocks and manifested the two things he felt entitled not to put up with, minimum wage and a hard life. When this truly becomes his past I hope he remembers it as a lesson learned toward inner strength, not regret.

All I can do and have been doing is pray for him and hope that not only by me remaining an example but that one day he will understand that all the power he ever needed has been inside of him all along.

How can he and kids like him begin to turn things around?

“Those who have the ability to be grateful are the ones who have the ability to achieve greatness.” Steve Maraboli, Life, the Truth, and Being Free

What does gratitude feel like? It feels good. Good feels gratifying. Good feels like giving and grace.

Gratitude doesn’t feel like entitlement (a sense that everything should be coming to you without effort on your part). Gratitude doesn’t feel like anger or responsibility or indifference. Gratitude doesn’t feel deserving and it kicks butt to just about every negative that exists.

So if gratitude can annihilate entitlement how does someone go about cultivating, practicing and making gratitude a key player in their life? According to Dr. Robert Emmons and his awesome book, THANKS!, he outlines his top 10 practices toward leading a life of gratitude (pg. 189). I’d like to share my take with you on what he outlines:

  1. Keep a gratitude journal. This can be in any form you can create. You can journal in words, in cut out pictures or photographs or drawings that help you remember what you saw that sparked gratitude. This can be written in a formal bound book or you can create your own kind of personal journal book. Dr. Emmons says, “What is most important is to establish the daily habit of paying attention to gratitude-inspiring events.” My daughter loves to take pictures with her camera phone. She chronicles the best moments of each month and saves the pictures by the month. When she looks back she is able to see all the best of her life moments that she is grateful for having experienced. How awesome is that?!
  2. Remember the bad stuff. In looking at our story earlier we can see how a person with a negative perspective about their past would want to forget what happened but by remembering the bad and practicing gratitude the negative story can be mined for grateful experiences that propel good feelings going forward. Should we experience bad feelings or circumstances again it will help us to remember what we don’t want to go through and seek ways to make this bad experience not as lousy as before.
  3. Look inside yourself. Dr. Emmons suggests asking yourself 3 questions to help keep you grounded in gratitude seeking keeping in mind that this kind of inner searching helps us to always be aware that we are part of our gratitude and the gratitude we can affect in others. In other words, we are part of the solution to our own problem:

What have I learned from________________________________.

What have I given to ____________________________________.

What troubles and difficulty have I caused___________________.

       4.  Prayers of gratitude. This might be uncomfortable for some people but as someone who ends every day with prayers of gratitude I can attest that not only does it help make a bad day better upon reflection but it helps set up a better day to come. I often find myself in tears while speaking of the things I am grateful for, not realizing just how much it affected me to have gone through whatever experience the day brought. Your soul has needs just like your physical body and that spirit needs the intimacy of prayer and accountability. If you find it hard to pray or hard to find what to be grateful for you might like to just pray for the ability to recognize what to be grateful for. No rules, your heart and your words are all that matter.

         5. Sense it. Take notice of each of your senses. Think about each one as you contemplate your gratitude for each one Dr. Emmons says, “Through our senses, we gain an appreciation of what it means to be human, of what an incredible miracle it is to be alive.” If your senses are not enough incentive please visit the website of Nick Vujicic. You will instantly learn exactly all that you have to be thankful and grateful for.

        6. Display it. All around you are reminders of what you are grateful for if you take the time to notice. Why not bring it home to you every day. Here Dr. Emmons remarks that “We cannot be thankful for something of which we are unaware. Therefore, we need to remind ourselves and to become aware.”

       7. Swear to it. Make a vow either to the universe, G-d or a treasured friend or partner that you will consciously include gratitude in your life every day. Dr. Emmons says, “A vow, when made before others, constitutes a public pronouncement of an intention. Breaking a vow thereby becomes a profound moral failure.” Keep it simple. For example: I vow to express gratitude to someone who has been influential in my life.

      8. Say just what you mean. How you say something or describe something is a mirror to how you see and interpret your life and your surroundings. Using the right language and emotion can take a day that was just all right all the way up to a day that was so blessed.

    9. Ape it. According to Dr. Emmons, “when people mimicked the facial expressions associated with happiness, they felt happier. Going through the motions can trigger the emotion.” Even if you force the smile or the happier attitude one feeds the other.

   10. Get creative. In my twisted mind I truly believe that life is backwards. Things that we think should be a result of something often times are just the opposite. In that light get creative in what you are grateful for. The guy that cut you off on the highway for example. Why ever would you be grateful for that? Well, you aren’t feeling as high strung as he is and that is to be grateful for. How about you didn’t get hurt by his knucklehead move. You are fine and the car is fine and if the kids are with you the kids are fine. Think about what you might not look at as something to be thankful for and find the silver lining. It’s deep and it’s so amazing to see something you couldn’t see before by practicing gratitude. And as always remember to pay it forward.

And just in case gratitude didn’t quite do it for you there is always humility.

Call to Action

In what ways can you bring gratitude into your life more?

Where have you noticed a sense of deserving or entitlement in your day to day?

When was the last time you were brought to your knees through feeling grateful and humble?

 

If you would like to explore more about personal growth, building and strengthening your success characteristics, or discovering what more you have inside of you please call for a free discovery session in my Art of YOU coaching program.  Not ready yet? Please visit my website at www.journeyoncoaching.com or email to: lisa@journeyoncoaching.com.