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Giving Up.

Our Everests - giving up.

Our Everests – giving up.

Life is beautiful.

Life is fun. Life is still not totally comprehensible to any human being since the beginning of time.I have learned a lot from life in my first forty years so far. Some through other peoples’ experiences, most through my own.

We could exalt the many achievements of man-kind over the centuries – the many scientific discoveries, the search for other life in outer space, the journeys to un-chartered territories. And history shows that we have. It is normal for societies and civilizations document the achievements of man-kind and have done so since the beginning of time.

These all take time and planning and lots of effort and pain. Real pain.

I think it is beautiful but I also think that all these external representations of achievement pales in comparison to the achievement of continuous internal growth as a complete human being – emotionally, physically, intellectually and most importantly spiritually.

In my life so far, I have experienced a lot of pain. We all have. Pain in all forms – pain in the heart, pain in the body, pain in the soul. We have all experienced real pain in various degrees. Reminds us that life is beautiful but is also difficult. I believe that this is one of life’s greatest truths, that life is difficult.

The thing is that once we accept that this is truly a great truth, only then can we all transcend it, to rise above it, to another consciousness level. Once we truly understand and accept this truth, the fact that life is difficult no longer matters.

How beautiful is that? It doesn’t matter! But to get to that point, one needs to feel real pain to fully accept.

I have learned that most people, however, do not see this truth. Most people do not understand and accept that life is difficult. A lot of people moan more or less, to varying degrees of the enormity of their problems, their burdens as if life should be easy. They complain that their difficulties are unique to them, their families, their tribe, their nation.

They are disillusioned.

Like I said earlier, life is beautiful, yes. But, life is also difficult. Matter, of fact, I would go as far as giving one definition of life as – a continuous progression of problems and conflicts. Just like I define what a weights workout as – “a continuous progression of fifteen to forty five seconds focused moments.”

So, in essence, to get better at life, to become a better student of life, to get the most out of your one life – you need to become a better manager of problems, become better at conflict resolution.

But the most difficult part of our journey through life is simply – Giving up!

The arrival of my two children have increased my awareness of this most difficult task we all have, of giving up. Let me elaborate. ….

You see, just like most of you, I like winning. All my life, my desire to win had served me in good stead, for I have won many things. In my chosen sport for example, my desire to win has taken me all the way to being top five in the world natural bodybuilding for two consecutive years.

I play a lot of games with my two children. My children made me aware of the most difficult thing, the most difficult, the most painful thing I have ever and will ever experience. They taught me that the most painful experience we will have in our lives is in giving up, in letting go! Nothing else compares to this pain.

You see I have learned that my desire to win, my desire to win at all costs needs to be second to my desire to win at parenting, my desire to be a better parent. I have learned to ‘let go’ of my desire to win at the games I play with my children. I have taught myself to give up my desire to win at games. It has served me very well in my youth, but it does not serve me now. It is not relevant anymore.

However, my desire to become a better parent allows me to experience the pain of giving up.

I think this is an important part of being the best parent you can be. To allow yourself to learn to ‘give up’. I have accepted that this part of me is gone now. It died. It had to die. I killed it! I killed it with my greater desire to win at parenting, to become the best parent I can be as I journey through life.

My desire to win, to not give up had worked in my earlier phases of life but was not relevant now. As a parent, I recognized that it got in my way, it got in the way of my relationship with my children. So, it was a no-brainer, it had to go.

The times have changed. To move with them I had to give it up. I do not miss it. I thought I would but I don’t.

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I think this is one of the most difficult, the most painful tasks every one of us have to teach ourselves to do – to let go, to ‘kill’, to give up certain behaviours, certain beliefs, certain habits, certain desires. My children reminded and taught me that my greatest challenge in life is to give up part of myself, part of me.

But this reminder to give up applies to all areas of life as we negotiate the challenges and curve-balls life throws at us. I have seen it every day as part of what I do – seeing people give up habits that are not aligned with where they want to be. It takes a lot of courage to give up just one habit, let alone a belief or value that was appropriate as a child but no longer serves you.

It is not easy, matter of fact I would go as far as saying that giving up something that has been a part of you and that has contributed to the person that you are and have become is one of the most challenging and most difficult hurdles every human being faces.

Ask yourself, what are some things in your life right now in all areas that do not serve you as it once did (say, when you were under ten or in your teens or in your twenties etcetera) then give up one. Only one.

Give up the one thing that you consider the most difficult to give up.

Now, understand that you have taken one giant step towards continuous internal growth as a complete human being. An exercise that does not get external recognition, does not get any awards, a decision that does not get recorded in world history.

It is just one step but it is a step that has immense significance to the quality of your one life.

You will move forward. You will grow emotionally and spiritually. You will unburden yourself. You will achieve better balance in yourself, in your life. Balance after all is something which you, me and every human being alive is searching for.

This one step will help you in your search. All the very best in your decisions in your search for your truth.

 

Until next time,

Being a parent teaches you about giving up.

Being a parent teaches you about giving up.

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The greatest expression of self-respect.

Say no. Vv.

Say no.
Vv.

The first twenty years of my life was a little more difficult than the second twenty years of my life and it was partly because of one little thing, one little ‘mosquito’.

That little mosquito I am referring to is the inability to say ‘no’. Sometimes, when left to grow, that little “mozzie” (Australian lingo for mosquito) can become huge problems like dengue fever or even the deadly malaria which has been responsible for more deaths than all the deaths caused by wars since the beginning of the world.

The ability to know when to and actually say ‘no’ is, I believe, the greatest expression of self-respect.

It reminds me of what a great wise eighty five year old friend of mine said to me before he died about four years ago, that –

“elephants don’t bite, mosquitoes do.”  Or in other words – Little things matter. So true, indeed.

What about you? Think about your life to this point. Did you suffer from this too? If you still do, you’re not alone because I believe that a large proportion of humans in the world still cannot get this “mosquito problem” under control.

For me, in those first twenty years of my life, not being able to say no sometimes felt akin to a dog chasing its tail, never getting anywhere and not knowing where the start and end of everything was. I strived to please everybody and their requests and was constantly disappointed.

It was hard – very hard. Until one day, I came to the realisation that you cannot please everyone and not everyone will agree with you and that is ok. Increased awareness is one very important step and then taking appropriate and sufficient action, finally leading you to adapting you or your environment or a combination of both.

I had a simple but significant change in philosophy. or the way I saw life and how life operates.

I realised that you don’t owe anything to anyone in life except one thing: love. And, contrary to what some believe, sometimes the most loving thing you can do is to say no to someone else’s request or simply saying no to an internal request – a want you need to immediately gratify. Self-control from or delayed satisfaction for oneself with regards to wants, is the greatest expression of self-respect you can give yourself.

An indication that you genuinely love the person who see looking back at you when you look at yourself in the mirror – you!

It is quite interesting but that is one of the most underrated traits in this world – simply, the power and strength to say ‘no’.

Saying 'no' to the maxim "No pain, no gain" could be one of the best things you can do for your joints and longevity in the gym. Choose your exercise and exercise execution wisely. More is not necessarily better. Vv.

Saying ‘no’ to the maxim “No pain, no gain” could be one of the best things you can do for your joints and longevity in the gym.
Choose your exercise and exercise execution wisely.
More is not necessarily better.
Vv.

The power to say no is empowering. The power to say no is so great, I have literally seen it make the impossible – possible in the lives of many people I have helped. The power to say no allows individuals to create their own miracles, to release the champion that rests dormant within them.

I have witnessed it, it is amazing – the power to say no is a miracle waiting to happen! You don’t have to climb Mount Everest to feel on top of the world. No, the feeling you get when you say no is even better, more profound, because each and every uttering of no, builds your ability climb all the internal mountain climbs you face in your life.

Mountains you will get to the top of. If I remember correctly I think it was Sir Edmund Hillary, the first man to climb Mount Everest that put it:

“It is not the mountain we conquer, but ourselves.”

This is something that I request from and re-enforce with everyone that I have helped over the years. The ability to summon courage to start saying ‘no’ again within their re-engineering programs. I encourage each of them to say no to some of the excesses of life that they may have been used to experiencing to that point in their lives. I encourage them to say no to excuses.

I know it seems counter-intuitive to deprive yourself of what you desire to get what you ultimately desire but it is vitally important to achieving goals you place a high priority on. Even a little no with conviction is far better than a lame, weak ‘yes’. It takes a lot of courage to say no.

“Saying no to help you, help yourself, get what you care about, to get what you want!” is what I say to my students.

Saying no to self-limiting beliefs, thought patterns, words, actions, habits and character traits that are not aligned with their ultimate goal of how they ‘imagine themselves to be’ in the mirror. This is where the real struggles of real people in everyday living rests. This is where true grit is required. This is where you climb the many mountains towards success.

Why? Because it is often a whole lot easier not to do the simple things, the simple things – the little mozzies – like saying no! Just like many other mozzies in life, the little things that are important to do are also easy not to do, so a lot of people don’t do them for whatever reasons or fears.

Saying no empowers you to successfully climb the internal obstacles, the internal self-created mountains and get to the ‘other side’. This is not a genetic trait, nor one of talent. This is just sheer grit!

To overcome temptation, to say no to habits that you have indulged in for a big chunk of your life is a true sign of self-respect. Saying no allows you to use your 86,400 seconds in a day more productively and manage your energy better.

Like I said, I believe, the ‘no’ answer is perhaps the greatest expression of self-respect and ultimate representation of human dignity there is.  Your attitude is key to your destiny in life as it determines the actions you take (good or bad) . Ultimately, this all flows from you philosophy once again. What is the opposite of self-respect? Well, choosing to live a life of insignificance.

So, be brave and summon the courage that rests within you and proudly announce to the world ‘no!’ No to things, people and activities that do not help align you towards you being your best. No to things, people and activities that bring you down rather than elevate you. No to the naysayers.

If there is one very important habit that you can do for yourself is this little habit of saying no again. Don’t be afraid. Just do it! Remember, knowing what to do isn’t the same as doing it.

Say NO. Release the champion within you!

Start loving yourself a little more each time you say no. Don’t just live your life, consider living your life with the greatest expression of self-respect and say no.

To be alive and live is a gift so, consider living your life with the highest expression of human dignity there is and say no, when appropriate and relevant. Being able to say no without regret also allows you to say yes with confidence. Yes, what you do matters, but I think what you think and say to yourself matters too – I believe, even more so.

Think about it: what I have been speaking about comes full circle – what you think determines the source of attitudes, which is your philosophy.

As the great thinker Aristotle said –

 “Where we are free to act,

We are also free to refrain from acting,

And where we are able to say No,

We are also able to say yes.”

All the very best to you in your life choices. Remember, if you want to change what’s happening in your life, change your philosophy or how you see things. It is not some huge task but simply comes down to – you guessed it – small (mozzie) steps.

Little steps, compounded over time, do make a difference. this is real magic. That the little things you do every single day – the little things that don’t look dramatic, that don’t even look like they matter – DO MATTER!

Little things (like saying no) matters.

Dream. Decide. Do.

 

Until next time,

Side triceps pose. Contest: Australian Natural Bodybuilding Titles. Placing: 2nd. Saying "no" has allowed me to choose exercises wisely and understand that quality training is more important than quantity when it comes to getting quality results.

Side triceps pose.
Contest: Australian Natural Bodybuilding Titles.
Placing: 2nd.
Saying “no” has allowed me to choose actions which in turn became habits that allowed me to build one of the best natural physiques in the world.

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A life of significance.

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If you are a regular reader of my messages, you will notice that I think a lot about life and I am constantly asking a lot of questions from life. I admit, I am a student of life.

My years of interacting with thousands of people in gyms, including seven years when I owned my own gym, I have learned a lot about life from other people’s experiences(OPE’s) and stories.

A question I have always asked is what does it mean to live your life, in particular – to live a life of significance? I feel that this is one of the most important aspects of a life well lived. What do you think? I think if I remember correctly, it was the writer Henry Thoreau that said something to the effect that he was afraid of coming to the end of life and finding that he had NOT LIVED.

I think Henry meant, coming to the end of your life and realising that you have not lived a life of significance. That was a genuine fear of his. Now, I am tempted to say that I am not genuinely afraid about anything – but that is not true. One of my main fears is insignificance. I am afraid, to put it simply, of living a life that does not matter. I admit I am afraid of leaving the world exactly as I entered and found it, no different for my having been here.

To not live a life of significance.

What about you? Is this one of your fears? Have you had a chance to think about this question in your journey through life so far?

From my observations of life so far, I have noticed that a lot of people think that “having lived” means experiencing a lot of adventures or a lot of fun and experiences or indeed – acquiring a lot of money. I think otherwise. I think these peoples’ perception of what it means to ‘have lived’ is slightly distorted and are missing the true significance of what it entails in my eyes.

Help people get what they want using your unique strengths and blessings. Vv.

Help people get what they want using your unique strengths and blessings.
Vv.

Along with spending about eight years in my early youth as a Catholic altar boy, assisting priests in church masses and bible readings, I’ve spent countless hours of listening to hundreds of stories through OPE’s, and am also a keen observer of life. I believe, this common modern-day definition of living has nothing to do with ‘having lived.’ The usual things people seek to guarantee importance in their lives – typically money, fame, power – just don’t last.

Money, fame and power don’t work very well and yet, generation after generation are still blinded and brainwashed to believe that they are the answer. History is littered with countless examples that it is a lie, short-term  and inauthentic.

These false drivers – money, fame and power all come to an end. Often, during the person’s own life, and certainly thereafter.

“So, how do you live a life of significance?” you may be thinking.

Instead of the individual’s endless pursuit of more money, fame and power, I believe living a life of significance comes with filling your life with things that last forever.

“And what are these things that last forever?” you may now be asking.

Well, these things that last forever are essentially VALUES. Yep, values! And what is the greatest value of all? Love! Put simply, you need to fill your life with love and lots of it! Love casts out all fears.

What is love? At this stage in your life, you would highly likely have some idea of what it is. Well, one definition is that it is an emotional attachment to the good things of life. So, fall in love with traits such as honesty, integrity, justice, goodwill, forgiveness, truth, grace and yes – success.

I think ultimately, you continue to live in hope in the joyous expectancy of the best, and invariably the best will come to you. Through God’s blessing.

It follows that to live a life of significance, you need to fill your life as much as possible with these values, attitudes and actions. So, start with trying to make someone else’s life a little better, using the God-given talents and strengths you have been given. This is a great start to significant living, as you have done something that lasts forever – in that person’s (his or her) heart.

Something that is eternal. A gift from you.

That impact you had on that individual or individuals is eternal because people are the only part of this world that will last forever …

Brad seeked; Brad asked the right questions; Brad knocked on the doors of opportunity towards the person he imagined himself to be. With my guidance

Brad seeked; Brad asked the right questions; Brad knocked on the doors of opportunity towards the person he imagined himself to be.
With my guidance

As we are constantly reminded daily by media, today’s modern world is filled with many threats – many imagined, some real – threats to our sense of security and safety. Today, more than ever before, you need to be in the right relationship with God. This is the ultimate security, the only true safety as he is the beginning and the end – God, as you know is the perfect giver of love.

If you are a Christian you will believe that God was there before the beginning and he has no end. He has known our fears and sufferings.

Life plays no favourites. God is life, and this life-principle is flowing through you at this moment, as you read and think upon these words. Believe that through him, you will be set free…. to live a life of significance.

Before I go, remember that you owe nothing to anyone in this world except love. In it’s simplest form, love is basically wishing for everyone what you wish for yourself – health, happiness and success (in that order) and all the blessings of life.

This is my wish for you, your family and your friends.

All the best in your choice of how to live your one life.

 

Until next time,

B&W3284

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The Grace of Seeds.

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I have been blessed with two very beautiful, healthy children. It is truly one of life’s blessings in my eyes – the Grace of Seeds.

However, in interactions with men of all ages in gyms for over two decades now, for some men, the responsibilities of fatherhood are simply more than they bargained for. It could be due to many things.

It seems, it is not only the intrusion of a newborn child’s demands; not just the scary anticipation of financial burdens (some men tend to view it this way) – from cot to college.

Maybe, it is the realization that the ‘honey-moon’ period has finally come to an end. Things will never be the same as they imagined it to be. This can be a stark reality indeed for some men.

In addition to this, some men probably have an increased fear of the onset of family life as this would entail responsibilities of parenthood. This would ultimately mean, the feast of love with his wife will grow stale. That the wine of their love will lose its bouquet.

That their love life will fizzle out.

But this is where interpretation of what married love means to Real Men differs.

Often when a man is insecure about himself, afraid of his personal characteristics and strengths as a husband and lover, he is unable to find a reliable and relevant version of the truth about love within a marriage.

And that it is this version of truth of married love:

The love between a married couple has a special ingredient that allows for the inclusion of the love of others.

But, it seems that there are many examples all around us in today’s modern living that tell us that countless couples disagree with this position or interpretation of what married love is.

The expectation gap between ‘what is’ and ‘what they imagined’ is just too big. I have met quite a few couples over the years who choose to not have children. Very sad indeed.

I will argue one point regarding this and one point only and it is this: if the Bible makes it clear that God our Creator, made us in his image and likeness, then I believe that he (God) intended and hoped that we would be ‘fruitful and increase in number”.

So, if you choose to give life and love whether by birth or adoption, you become more of what God meant by ‘in God’s image’. This is our real slice of the ‘essence of life’, our closest chance to share – if only to a small degree – the highest attributes of God the Father himself.

This is as close to “God-like” as any person could become.

To not do so and take another path, to not offer love to our own children, the seeds that will bloom in the future. Well, personally, I cannot fathom this decision.

This is to miss one of the true meanings of what life is about. To go down this path deprives you of a taste of eternity, that is ….

The Grace of Seeds.

It is a sacrament of everlasting life.

Nourish those seeds with all the love you can muster as they will be your future – our future.

They will be the World’s Future.

And, thank God every single day for blessing you with the grace of seeds!

For posterity.

 

Until next time,

Me and my children. Children gives you a hint of eternity. A true blessing to be graced with seeds. Vv.

Me and my children.
Children gives you a hint of eternity.
A true blessing – the grace of seeds.
Vv.

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Mr Vulnerable.

My son and I. One of my responsibilities as a man and dad is to make my son aware that being vulnerable is ok. vv

My son and I.
One of my responsibilities as a man and dad is to make my son aware that being vulnerable is ok.
Vv.

Father’s Day came and went only last weekend. I had a great day with my wife and my two children. I received two beautifully hand-made cards from each of my children and loads of hugs and kisses. Oh, and some of my favourite chocolates. It was lovely.

I trust all the dads reading this and dads all around the world had a wonderful time with the people they love the most too.

The special calendar day (just like Mother’s Day) got me thinking about being a man but especially in today’s world. Not all men are fathers and not all men are dads but all men are men. So, I got thinking about being a man. Yep, let’s attempt to re-evaluate the question, “What is a real man?”

The thing is that most of us would have been raised with a definition of what society (modern-day societies) defines it as. This definition is dare I say, unrealistic and quite a burden for the modern male to wear. So much so that I believe the modern day man is finding it quite difficult to be a man.

Now, we could look in many places for possible definitions of what a real man is and justifiably so. Some men look for these in sports stars, movie stars, politicians and so forth. I believe it is important for the modern male (whether you’re a dad or not) to truly understand what it is to be a man. A real man.

 

Olivia and Zachary enjoying their time with Ruby. Being a role model for my children is one of the most important responsibilities I will ever have in my life. For the rest of my life. Just like it is for every other dad out there.

Olivia and Zachary enjoying their time with Ruby.
Being a role model for my children is one of the most important responsibilities I will ever have in my life.
For the rest of my life.
Just like it is for every other dad out there.

I thought that one place many people wouldn’t be brave enough to seek an answer is the bible (unless you’re a Christian). We don’t have to look any further than the disciple – John. John, I believe displayed 6 characteristics of what it means to be a real man. In no particular order they were: sincerity, simplicity, conviction, courage, vision and vulnerability.

There you have it! Six Key traits of a real man.

From my experience with people in predominantly male-dominant gyms over the last 23 years, I have found that one thing that men struggle with is accepting that being vulnerable is ok. It seems that the modern man is told since birth that being vulnerable is a no-no, that it is a sign of weakness. Today’s ‘macho’ man of western society must not show vulnerability, he never admits a mistake.

What a load of you know what! Generation after generation of men still believe in this cr#p. Very unrealistic burden for men to carry partially dictated by societal definition of a modern man.

I recall reading research done in America a little while back that stated that five of the most difficult statements for today’s modern man to make are:

  1. I don’t know
  2. I was wrong
  3. I need help
  4. I’m afraid
  5. I’m sorry

This certainly supports what I have deduced from my observations of the last two decades. It seems that modern day men have a problem with admitting vulnerability. That for some reason, if they do their masculinity is brought in to question.

For you Christians reading this – wasn’t this a test for the disciple John which he passed with flying colours?

I think John’s vulnerability was so great beyond belief in his extreme demonstration of humility when he said in reference to Jesus “He must become greater; I must become less”. You cannot get much better than that with someone being so humble.

A trait that is truly missing in the world today.

So, don’t be afraid to be vulnerable, to be authentic to no one else but you first. It is good for the soul and makes you a real man. A humble man is not afraid to admit it. A humble man is not afraid to admit he is or was wrong.

There is a real man in all men reading this and all the men in the world. However, to reach deep down inside and get him, you need to become more aware of who you are now and take actions (sufficient and appropriate) to change certain habits that may not be aligned with the definitions of a real man I have given.

The important step then is to be flexible enough and ‘man-enough’ to adapt to the ‘man you imagine yourself to be’, ideally a man closer to the kind John was. It’s not easy, matter of fact it is darn hard work but the end result is a thing of beauty. And this is one of the things the world needs more of right now.

This, however, may clash with the current modern day definition of what it means to be a real man.

Me and my two children - Olivia and Zachary. I love them with all my heart.

Me and my two children – Olivia and Zachary. I love them with all my heart.

Be the real man you know you are. Be inspirational to you first, so that you can be inspirational to the young males that are searching for examples of what it means to be a Real Man. Don’t let them get lost to men of lesser character. So, all you dads out there or men playing a surrogate role, be the role model, be the Real Man that the legions of young boys  and future men of our society need to aspire to.

This is not a want. This is a need that our modern day society needs now more than ever. More Real Men to help provide a template to the youth of tomorrow, especially with so many possible definitions are being filtered in to their young minds. Give them a template, like that which the disciple John gave us to build on and stand the test of time.

If every man reading this and every man in this world took this responsibility seriously, what a beautiful world I can imagine for us all in two or three decades. When young men of today, modelling their characters off you – the modern day Real Man will be leaders of tomorrow.

It is a great hope of mine.

It’s not too late. Make the change because you know it is the right thing to do and you’re humble enough and courageous enough to do it.

Why?

Because you’re Mr Vulnerable. You’re the man! (and if you’re a woman and you’re reading this, get your man to read it too).

All the best in your journey towards being a Real Man. It lies within every man, so go ahead and bring Mr Vulnerable out and share him with the world.

It’s time ….

Until next time,

With the next generation of Valentine males - Zachary.

With the next generation of Valentine males – Zachary.

 

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An attitude of gratitude.

Two days before Australian Championships Placing: 2nd.

Two days before Australian Championships
Placing: 2nd.

Some wise person once said:

Its not your aptitude, but your attitude that determines your altitude in life.”

Pretty wise words, don’t you think? You probably don’t need to look very far – look at the immediate people in your circle of life to see examples of this aphorism.

Maybe even you.

Being grateful for all that we have is a way of thinking.

You probably have your own way of giving appreciation to whoever you speak to. Whichever way it is, the essence of it is communication and routine. Ideally, giving thanks should be done daily and not only when you’re in real trouble or at a special occasion, like a funeral for example.

It can be done at any time convenient for you.

Me – I try and say a prayer of thanks every time I eat a meal. That is a minimum of six times a day. You pray for the meal to be blessed, thank the good Lord (or whatever higher force you believe in) for your blessings and ask for continued blessings for you, your family and friends and the world at large.

My wife and I have always prayed together, before consuming our meals and we also try to say a prayer before sleeping at night. Our kids have come along and they also join us in prayer. They take turns in leading the prayers now that they are both older.

It’s a family habit. Part of our daily routines.

But I believe there is more to gratitude. It not only reminds us of not taking anything for granted. It humbles us. It puts a certain level of perspective on life.

It is essentially the choice of attitude of the person and their attitude to life. There is magic in being grateful. There is magic in having a thankful spirit.

This magic, I believe, is POWER.

Yes, power!

How is that, you may ask?

Well, I believe a thankful spirit has the power to overcome anger with love; it has the power to subordinate fear with courage; it replaces sadness with happiness and has the power to feel not jealousy but genuine joy at another’s success.

Having a thankful spirit and an attitude of gratitude has the power to inspire productivity and innovation over lack of creativity. Being grateful releases guilt with an heart of forgiveness.

An attitude of gratitude has the power to allow one to grow with an abundance of love
and self-sharing over greed and hatred.

It is a form of power, not as you know it but power none-the-less. An intangible one at times.

So, there you have it, some reasons why I believe that an attitude of gratitude is power.

Knowing that it is a form of power is not power. No, ‘knowing’ is potential power. Applying an attitude of gratitude on a daily basis, now that is power. The power rests in the choosing.

Check your attitude and work on your attitude of gratitude if you think you need to. You may just surprise yourself with how much more you get out of life, by giving more in to it, through choosing your best attitude, always.

Feel, really feel, that intangible power.

Start with a ‘reverse bucket list’ to put some structure to it. Some people do.

What is it? Well, a reverse bucket list is simply a list of things you have done, places you’ve visited and opportunities you have experienced in your life to date. How is this an exercise of gratitude you may be thinking?

You see, when you write it down and then look over what you have written, you can reminisce and be grateful for what you have achieved and done in your life so far. You may even shock and surprise yourself with what you have achieved.

Keep adding to that list as the seconds of life tick by …reminding yourself how lucky you are to be breathing and living life.

When I take my first breath upon waking every morning, I say a quick prayer of thanks to my God, thanking him for being alive. That is the best gift, I believe, anyone alive has been granted.

My whole focus from that moment on is to see how it is that I can be of service to and help people get what they want out of life to the best of my ability.

Also, remember, its not just about adding years to your life, its also important to add life in to those years.

Ask yourself how are you going to best achieve that?

Hint: reflect and give thanks.

Until next time,

 

Paul V2 (1)

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adaptation, Beliefs, dreams

Shaken and stirred.

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I like James Bond movies.

I think I am not alone in this department. A lot of men probably love him (and most women, too). They probably love the idea of him, more than anything else.

He embodies the alter-ego of almost every man on earth. I think every man secretly harbors thoughts of playing out a James Bond fantasy act at one point in their life or another – the fast, slick car that turns heads. The constant jetting in and out of countries. The object of desire of women wherever he goes. And more …

But it’s a dream for most men. Not all, I must add.

A dream to live for.

My son – Zachary (we call him Zach or Zachie) has made me aware of many lessons in life so for. I was made aware of another ‘life lesson’ over the last two weeks. Well, he had been trying to teach me something but I stubbornly and blindly missed it for two weeks and it was only yesterday that it dawned on me.

You see my son has just turned three years old recently and I have noticed that he had been quite rebellious over the last two weeks. Well, that’s how I viewed it. That was my perception of the behavioural changes I had noticed. He wouldn’t respond when called, sometimes, even after being called multiple times. He would blatantly disobey any requests that his mum or me would make of him. He would regularly, cheekily do the exact opposite. He would test our patience with many daily situations and raise our tolerance level for disobedience.

He was and still is ‘testing the boundaries’. He was challenging our authority, questioning the norm. Fair enough!

Children begin at a very young age to take control of their lives. Many children I suspect, just like mine, learn how to control their parents’ lives as well, long before they know how to talk in complete sentences.

Whining receives attention. Crying receives consolation. Begging begets goodies. Tantrums create havoc. It is easy to incite mummy against daddy and sit back and watch the show. Just like on TV!

All relationships have a ‘power and control’ button and just like the tide of the sea, ever-so constant, the ‘ebb and flow’ represent the delicate balance of the ‘give and take’ of the relationship.

It is the life-blood of all good long-term relationships. Learning to be a better master at managing this skill is essential to any relationship.

Anyways, I have finally learned the life lesson he was trying to make me aware of and this is where James Bond comes in. You see, James Bond always states the way he likes his martini drink, saying “shaken, not stirred’. That’s the way he likes it.

Sufficient and appropriate for that particular type of drink but not the best option when it comes to life.

Zachary’s inquisitive and rebellious behaviour these last two weeks was one that not only shook but he also stirred it. Hard. With no fear. Without order. No systematic approach adopted here. Nope!

He questioned the status quo. He challenged the way we were doing things. Our current beliefs.

You see it got me thinking about life. This is a very important practise for everyone in life: To question over-riding theory and paradigm of the day. To question where you’re headed in your life. To reflect on the life you have lived so far, to learn whatever you can from the mistakes and failures you have experienced. But, it is the future and how you will live it that is of paramount importance.

Nope, it is your dream and idea of the future you would love to live  – now, this is what is of paramount importance.

You can only do this by firstly, questioning your philosophy in life, in particular, questioning your ‘belief systems’ that got you to this point in life. It is your belief systems – consisting in part of, your values and principles you adhere to in your daily life, it is this that is the compass that guides you. Your GPS as you chart your course through the sea of life.

As Captain of your ship.

That is exactly what my son Zachary was doing. He was questioning, through his actions and behaviour, the limitations of ‘the way we did things’ with regards to certain areas in our life (eating with his hands rather than use his utensils). He was questioning the relevance and the basis of certain beliefs we adhered to. His inquisitiveness and zest for life was stretching the boundaries we had placed on him. He was, in effect, challenging the ‘status quo’. Rocking the ship.

And its ok. It is vital. For him. For us as a family. Asking questions and thinking of alternative solutions is vital to our country. Our world. It is through this questioning attitude that new beliefs are spawned. New ideas created. Ideas, when implemented, results in innovation. Innovation that leads to better life – better education; better health; better communities; better relationships; better quality of life.

A Better attitude to life.

I guess, just like any child his age, it is their imagination that drives them. Belief systems have not been imprinted on their brains yet. Belief systems have a significant impact on an individual’s life and how he/she turns out in adult life and goes as far as where he/she ‘ends up’ in life.

It is your GPS for your life.

Your thought patterns (on self-image, on self-esteem, on self-worth etc), your daily deliberate practices (habits); your character (the ‘essence’ of who YOU are) and ultimately – your ship’s course (destiny/destination) in life is dictated by your GPS (your belief system/philosophy).

To change direction of your ship. To change course, you have to re-set your GPS. You have to re-set your belief system, especially, if it has negative consequences in your life. Beliefs that inflict ‘self-imposed’ limitations on your daily life. Beliefs that were imprinted in your brain when you may have been a child, without you having a choice in accepting it. Before you could choose. These beliefs may have been im-printed by people that had some influence over you in your child-hood – your parents, your grand-parents, uncles, aunties, friends and friends of families, teachers in Primary School, coaches. You name it.

It can be quite daunting to consider all the possibilities and probabilities of risk of each relationship and the impact each had on you and your belief systems. Yes, it can be. But, it still needs to be done if you intend to reach your potential in life and chart your ship in to un-chartered waters. To discover the Captain Cook in you. You need to question their relevance, just like Captain Cook questioned the prevailing belief that the earth was flat all those centuries ago.

The risk of you not doing anything about it is far, far greater to how you live the next phase of your life, especially, the new destination you will Captain your ship to. Your new course in life.

The life you hoped for. The life you imagined.

Its never too late to sit down and write down what your philosophy of life is. What are some of your beliefs? What influence does it have on your daily actions and decisions? Be warned though – you will ‘rock your boat’. This may be a period of genuine unhappiness as you discover many things about your engine of life ( your mind) that was hindering your course through life. You will effectively be doing what my son, Zachary was doing these last two weeks. What he reminded me about some of the important things of life:

  1. To ask questions.
  2. To question authority.
  3. To rock the boat.
  4. To challenge the ‘status quo’.
  5. To pick-apart belief systems.
  6. To ask ‘why not?’.
  7. To be able to choose beliefs that contribute to life – your life, not take away from it.

In life, we all need to periodically ensure that at various stages in life, in particular, as we enter and leave major phases of life, we need to review that our GPS – our beliefs at that point in life, be questioned. We need to question their relevance. Why? Because beliefs, whether you’re aware of it or not, generates what happens in your life. You need to stop continuing believing what does not serve you. What may have been relevant for survival as a toddler or as a teenager or when you were in your twenties, may not be relevant in your forties or post-retirement.

A wise man once told me that if you continue to think and act in the same way, you will continue to get the same result in life.

Change your thinking – change your life.

The foundation of this can be only be done through beliefs analysis. And we know how important a good foundation is to any building or construction work to keep it up and steady.

A relatively easy way of doing this is assessing the impact each belief has on you and your life, once you’ve listed your top ten down on paper. It takes a lot of courage just to do this. Don’t be scared.

We need to re-imprint new, relevant beliefs into our minds. We need to upload a new, improved GPS on to our brains. To help make us better Captains of our ships in the sea of life. As one of the greatest men that ever lived once said:

“The same thinking that has led you to where you are is not going to lead you to where you want to go.”Albert Einstein.

We need to become a child again. Imagine more, like Einstein encouraged. Imagine better but also imagine responsibly.

Reminds me of what my local parish priest told me and my wife once as I embarrassingly admitted to him one morning that I didn’t get the message of parable that was enacted by children on the alter during mass.

He simply said: “Son, it was about stirrers. The world needs more stirrers. Go ahead and stir!”.

I looked over at my beautiful wife, smiled and thanked the priest. My wife insists that I am the biggest stirrer she has ever known. True. But so is James Bond. Oh well, I’ll have to leave that one for another blog.

In the meantime, you need to ensure that at various legs of your charter and captaincy of life, that your consumption of the ‘fluid/drink of life’ is –

…. Shaken and stirred! Very un-like James Bond.

But, that’s perfectly alright. Some dreams are not realistic anyway. Accept it.

That’s life.

Bottoms up!

Thank you, Zachary.

Until next time,

p.s.. thank you too for reading this far … I hope you’ve got some value from this blog.

 

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