5 Reasons Finding Inner Peace Is So Important To Your Success

Once upon a time, two people — my mom and dad — decided to have a baby. I had no choice in the matter, or at least that’s what I believed. For those philosophical and spiritual believers out there, I know that you are yelling at the screen right now. “God sent you here for a reason. You have a purpose for being here.” You are right and I believe that. I agree that my life on this planet matters to this world in ways both great and small. I guess the hardest part of life is not necessarily in being born, rather it is in trying to live.

There are so many pressures, messages, challenges, stressors, choices, and factors around us which make living a prosperous, happy, successful, and purposeful life a true journey. The journey is filled with ups and downs, peaks and valleys, highs and lows, and lots of tears and laughter. In the end, it all creates a beautiful story — a mosaic, a masterpiece. However, here is where the choice becomes our own. What colors are we going to paint our masterpiece with — vibrant shades of bright, colorful experiences and joys, or black and white shades of regret, fear, and deprivation?

I have found myself on a journey to answer this very question over the last few years of my life. While life has been quite good overall, I wonder what other colors I still have inside me to paint with. I spent time thinking about some reasons that might prevent me from shining as brightly as it can.

Finding and maintaining your inner peace is something you will have to put energy toward for the rest of your life. However, you will not be able to live this life successfully without it. Find your inner peace, then go paint your life masterpiece.

One thing is certain — the life journey of discoveries, successes, and personal empowerment requires possession and sustainability of a strong sense of inner peace. I’ve always believed that having a strong sense of confidence was the first step to truly pursuing insurmountable goals. From personal experience, I’ve found that finding a sense of inner peace is the best friend of confidence. These two co-conspirators — confidence and inner peace — will empower you to embrace life with fervor, direction, purpose, and perseverance.

Here are five reasons why finding inner peace is so important to your life’s journey:

1. Overcoming and embracing your past.

There are inevitably going to be some areas of your past that you wish you could travel back in time to change. Well, it’s NEVER going to happen. All the mistakes, happy times, losses, challenges, characteristics, and situations are what they are. We really only have two choices: be overcome with trying to change something we will never be able to or try to learn from the past and move forward. In this sense, we have to learn to accept the things we cannot change from our pasts. Inner peace will enable us to say, “I cannot change what has happened in my past, but I can control what might happen in my future.” The challenge is to allow your past to inform your present, but not to prevent yourself from being controlled by your past. Inner peace allows you to accept the positive (strength and courage) your past has developed within you while empowering you to release the guilt and anxiety associated with things that might have been different.

2. Accepting what you have right now.

This point builds off the importance of overcoming and embracing your past. Once you’ve accepted and come to peace with your past, you will likely complete an inventory of where you currently are bodily, emotionally, mentally, and spiritually. This part of the process takes courage, strength, and honesty because it can send you back to square one of questioning your past. Finding inner peace in this area will allow you to complete an honest inventory about where you are now without destroying your self-image in the process. Inner peace in this area allows you to say, “I may not have everything I want, but I have everything I need within me to create my life masterpiece.” We already have the strength and power within us to become powerful beings. However, it takes effort in order to discover and believe this about ourselves.

3. Embracing your uniqueness.

Being different can feel like the greatest blessing and the greatest curse at different times of life. We are all encouraged to be different and unique, but at the same time, the world is sending us messages that there are standards and norms which we should strive to emulate, match, and live by. It’s important to learn from others around us, but the true test is to become who we are meant to be (not a carbon copy of someone else). Embracing your differences may take a lifetime, but it’s necessary to truly live the fullest life that was created for YOU. Finding inner peace allows us to begin the process of embracing our differences and seeing them as a part of our personal story.

4. Facing challenges and opposition.

Everything takes work, life included. For the most part, life comes with some basic instructions, but not with the complete dummy proof guide. There will be challenges. Those challenges will rattle us. Stress is inevitable. People will sometimes grind your gears.  In the same breath, I can say that life is both easy and difficult. In the complexity of life, it will be imperative to find a place of peace that you can return to for reassurance, relaxation, stability, and recharging. When life feels overwhelming, you will need an anchor — a place of faith. Even when life is going well, you will still need a place of inner peace to sustain you. How do you find inner peace? How do you protect the peace within your life?

I would love to share my tips on how I am finding inner peace. Be sure to let me know if that’s something you would like me to share! Comment below or message me on Facebook or Twitter!

5. Discovering your purpose and setting goals.

Good fighters right relaxed. When I watch UFC on television with my lovely man, I am always roaring on about how this fighter or that fighter is not “intense” enough. He always has to remind me that being intense before a fight is not necessarily a good thing. They are supposed to fight focused, yet relaxed and in control. What a great life lesson! Life is the ultimate fight. In order to continually discover our purpose and achieve our goals, we will have to fight for it — mostly against our inner thoughts, fears, and our perceived personal limitations. Finding our purpose and pursuing it will require a strong foundation of inner peace. Pursuing our goals will also require a strong foundation of inner peace, confidence, acceptance, and strength.

Finding and maintaining your inner peace is something you will have to put energy toward for the rest of your life. However, you will not be able to live this life successfully without it. Find your inner peace, then go paint your life masterpiece.

Life Me: a mindset, a declaration, a movement.

If you would like me to share my personal journey to finding inner peace, leave a comment below, or find me on Facebook or Twitter!

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Success: Perfection or Productivity?

Have you ever wondered how someone with more responsibilities or demands is able to achieve more of their goals than you do? No, they are not perfect, alien, or some breed of human meets robot. Simply, they are probably just more highly productive and efficient than you. 

Now, if only we could be as perfect as they are then our lives would be better and we would be happy, right? That’s hard to say. So, let’s talk about this.

According to Merriam-Webster and Oxford dictionaries, perfection is defined as

  • “having no mistakes or flaws”
  • “completely correct or accurate”
  • “having all the qualities you want in that kind of person, situation, etc.”
  • “having all the required or desirable elements, qualities, or characteristics; as good as it is possible to be”
  • “free from any flaw or defect in condition or quality; faultless”

Is perfection really attainable? And what exactly does perfection look like for me? These questions are complicated in the basic sense that we may all inevitably have different definitions of perfection. To further complicate the matter, shouldn’t we be looking at what “perfect” is for us based on our goals, dreams, values, and convictions, and not at what perfection looks like in other people? Well, this is exactly what make this all an on-going challenge.

Ultimately, we are all striving for some form of perfection. Although we logically know that (1) no one person is perfect and that (2) perfection is fleeting and hard to maintain, we still have this idea of perfection planted somewhere in our heads. The idea alone is not the problem. Rather, the problem lies in what happens to us emotionally when we recognize that we are not presently perfect and may never achieve perfection.

I really don’t know who sold us this dream of perfection because it definitely wasn’t the Disney films we watched as a child.  Even those characters experienced some kind of problems along the way! The movie endings were always perfect for them, but never what they envisioned when they started out. In life, we make these long lists that embody the full vision and wish lists of perfection. They assume the idea that if we can find or discover everything on our lists then life will be complete, happy, or whole. For most of us, happiness is connected to being as close to perfection as possible. However, success is rarely perfect and the road to success is not perfection either.

For the sake of discussion, let’s just hypothetically consider that we have achieved perfection. Yay! Pat yourself on the back! Well, not for too long because as we grow, change, and learn, our personal definition of perfection will change. It is like a never ending race that can become overwhelming, stressful, discouraging, depressing, and anxiety-producing.

However, there is hope!

Recently, I have been contemplating what my emotional and mental idea of perfection looks like. There’s going to be a lot going on in my life and I will not be already to plan for or guarantee perfection.

In the past I would get down on myself when I would make long goal and to-do list only to not get everything done. Thankfully, my Life Me mindset kicked in and I now have a great list of life hacks, edits, and simple changes which have enabled me to get more of the things done that I want and need to get done! Yet, it is still not perfection. However, before these hacks I would really feel emotionally defeated at the fact that I was not accomplishing everything, everyday, in every month as I wanted to for reasons both within and outside of my control (Let me know if you’d like me to share those tips. Just leave a comment below or message me on Facebook or Twitter). 

For the moment, I’m focusing on how to be as highly productive and efficient with my days as possible as opposed to having a “perfect” day. For me, productivity and efficiency is my new idea of perfection—a slight adjustment that has made the world of mental and emotional difference for me.

Through some time of planning and reflection, I figured it out! My mindset needed a shift if I planned on climbing the mountain of success effectively. So for the moment, I’m focusing on how to be as highly productive and efficient with my days as possible as opposed to having a “perfect” day.

For me, productivity and efficiency is my new idea of perfection—a slight adjustment that has made the world of mental and emotional difference. It has re-framed how I feel about my days, the intention in which I attack each day, and how I focus on things throughout my day. It has resulted in me actually accomplishing more in each new day than I thought I could. I now ask myself…

  1. What will productivity look like today?
  2. What do I need to get accomplished?
  3. What can I do/change to be more productive?

The goals haven’t changed; however, the approach has. If you adopt this mindset just know that there will be things that cannot be controlled completely through a pre-planned list and vision for the day. There are constantly things, such as work, family, friends, life, people, biological factors (sleep, health, nutrition), and weather, that either add to our daily “productivity list” or interfere with our ability to completely focus on the things we have set as priorities. But, that’s OK. If and when these matters arise, we can quickly recalculate how to handle them by determining when and how handling them would be the most efficiently and effective way possible. Some matters can wait, sometimes you can give yourself permission to say no, and other times, you might need to shift something to quickly handle life’s interruption.

Accepting that everyday will never be perfect is the first step to being more productive and happy. If I am being highly productive, using my time effectively, and placing optimal focus on the steps that bring me closer to my goals, then I am having the perfect day. That makes me extremely happy!

Some are still holding out hope that a magical unicorn will fall from the sky and reveal the secret to perpetual perfection. Until that happens, we can all strive to be as close as we can to achieving highly productive days. Before you know it each day will add up and you will look up to see that you’ve almost accomplished your goal(s)!

Questions to ask yourself:

  1. Am I being productive?
  2. Am I doing things that bring me closer to my goals or am I doing things that pull me away from my goal?
  3. Am I focused on the things that I should be focused on?
  4. Am I wasting time on things that are not necessary?
  5. Am I spending too much time on things or people that will not increase my chances of achieving the vision of life I want to live?

Remember, success comes one deliberate step at a time and one productive day at a time.

And remember, productive days include time to manage stress and take care of your health — a healthy body and mind increases productivity!

Discussion: Talk to me! 😁

What are some ways you stay focused on your goals? What are some tips and tricks you use to stay productive? How do you protect your productivity? Please share below or come chat with me on Facebook and Twitter!

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Photo Credit: _dChris

 

 

Why Focusing In Life is So Hard

You want to know why it’s so hard to focus on your own life and ride your own wavelength of zen? Well, I re-discovered the answer today. Wait for it… Wait for it…

It’s because everyone around you is so DARN LOUD!

The Setting

I wrote this post yesterday during a fit of frustration on the plane to a hopefully calming vacation in Las Vegas while attempting to read My Age of Anxiety by Scott Stossel amidst the cackles and clangor of inebriated passengers as they become new found airline besties.

The Story (and Lesson):

Listen, I’m all for freedom of friendliness, libation, and acquaintance; but by golly, do they have to be so LOUD? Then again this is a country built on freedom of speech, so who am I to tell the new found besties to sacrifice their hyperactive happiness for my peace and serenity. I mentally rummaged through all the fine print I read inside the safety manual. There was a lot of reassuring information about oxygen masks, life vests, safety devices, and “in the event of an emergency” situations, but nothing about being courteous to your neighbors. But wait, isn’t this an emergency? Am I not being forced to sacrifice my page-turning enjoyment to listen to the loudest passengers that have ever flown on a plane, ever? Doesn’t that warrant some kind of rescuing?

With no way to politely ask these chatty birds to pipe down, I decided to make something of this experience and share the lessons this noise has forced me to tackle. What else am I supposed to do? Do you want me to risk a confrontation, get booted off the plane, and possibly get arrested because I had to defend myself against one of these tipsy passengers when they try to punch my lights out? No! I am saying no to violence and that’s my final answer, for now. Instead, I will take a deep breath and patiently hoped for some desperately annoyed passenger to do what I don’t have the gumption to do — ask them to shut up! Oops, I mean to “please, if you would be so kind, might you quiet down a bit?”

As I become more and more frustrated by each screech and shout, the feeling inside reminds me of moments in my life when I’ve felt trapped, frustrated, limited, and a victim of other people inserting noise into my rather happy place. Those were times when I found it most difficult to focus on my journey. Right now, I would do anything to be able to go into my own head and turn up the selective attention dial to “I can’t hear you” mode but nothing is a match for the voices of Godzilla. The more I think about ways I can tune these various conversations out is the more anxious and tense I am becoming. Under other circumstances I would have reveled in the opportunity to eavesdrop on the fascinating conversations around me. Honestly, they are discussing interesting interpretations of life. The two new buddies behind me are shifting in and out of intellectual conversations about love, relationships, passion, religion, happiness, spirituality, God, and new places to experience once we reached our destination. Our other friends across the isle are adding to the noise with topics including food, TV shows, etc. The problem isn’t them per se — well maybe it is because there is no need to shout at the top of your lungs if someone is sitting right next to you– but it is more the fact that I am not in the mood to listen to their stories at this volume at this moment. I want to read my book during this flight and then reflect on life.

Though quite terrifying– if you really think too hard about it– there’s something quite calming and spiritual about flying. The views, the perspective, and the fact that my life is in the hands of complete strangers surrounded by complete strangers for hours while thousands of feet above the ground is both unsettling and kind of magical. That is until turbulence hits and I am reminded that death could be imminent. Oddly, I am sure that fewer planes have crashed from turbulence than during take off or landing, but I could be wrong. Anyone know? Well, just as a wrote this paragraph I can report that I am entering the first phase of a full on panic attack, so let’s change the subject back to the chatterboxes behind me.

As I said before, in my mind this plane ride included a specific plan for my time– me, God, reflection, and a book, not writing a blog post about my frustration with the noise. I’m sure I would have found “the best method for tuning out deafening voices” in the book about anxiety but I was only able to get to page 32 before the voices of Godzilla destroyed my focus. Still annoyed but determined, I am deciding to start talking to myself — in a healthy way. “You’re stronger than this. Don’t let them distract you. You had a goal in mind, so stick to it!” Typically I would be completely oblivious to the loud mouths around me as they are drowned out by my music or a movie. However, I forgot my headphones this time! Thankfully my other-better-equal half is always thinking ahead and he brought an extra pair. Nonetheless, I didn’t planned on plugging my ears with noise-cancelling headphones; I planned on having an intellectually stimulating experience with my books. As you can surmise by now, their volume has reached the decibel that would interrupt even the most focused person’s brain frequencies! So, I am taking the headphones, but it is still not working.

I am asking myself over and over, “Why is it so hard to just focus? Why can’t you just push through? Is it really that hard to tune them out or are you just being petty?” Feeling defeated, I am reminded of the times in my life when I felt overwhelmed by the noise around me — times I’ve been focused on something in my life and then every voice begins playing in my head (again, not in the DSM-5 diagnosis kind of way). They are the times in which all the negative, positive, confused, logical, irrational, intellectual, and analytical voices/thoughts tell me how to be confident, worried, certain, and fearless all in the same frequency. Ay dios mios! As my mind is shifting to those moments when I’ve asked the same question –“Why is it so hard to just focus?” — I am beginning to recognize a parallel between my focus, life, and the challenge of tuning out noise. I am not sure I really want to confront it, but here goes. Simply realized, the more voices and noise in my head– including my own at times– is the more difficult it is for me to focus on my own life and my own journey.

Some noises are louder than others — fear, other people’s opinions, opposing viewpoints, societal and family expectations, cultural norms, and internal self-talk. At times, it can just be too loud, too confusing, too opposing, too headache producing, and too tiring to combat. Although annoyed at my clangorous neighbors, I am happy that I had the chance to look myself in the mirror and confront factors that at times make it hard for me to focus. Although a critical exercise, confronting these factors one time on a plane is not going make me a master at tuning out the loudest noises in my life. It is going to require mental maturity and mental martial arts!

Today, I am reminded that I have a lot more work to do. It would be great to block out the noise by creating a magical force-field around my head, but I’m sure that would not prevent me from concocting some ridiculous thinking within my own head.

Today, I have learned two things:

  1. I now understand why people invest in quality noise-cancelling headphones,
  2. no matter how noise cancelling the headphones, it’s much harder to cancel out the noise that exist — or you allow to exist — inside your own head, and
  3. be ready to listen and adapt when life speaks.

The good news is that this lesson has made me more of a noise-cancelling ninja and our neighbors alcohol consumption has finally caught up to them! The four amigos are quietly resting. Maybe now I can get back to focusing on my book or at least enjoying the remaining moments of this amazing view in peace and quiet.

Comment below or chat with me!

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The Plan: My 2016 Resolutions

I am back! Or am I? The last two+ months have been oddly hectic– peppered with great highs, positive personal realizations, wonderful whirlwinds, and twisted tests of my personal stamina. I am pleased to report that — for the most part — I am conquering the tests of life. I am very proud of the growth I see in my responses to life’s ups and downs.

While there have been many wonderful memories this year, there are definitely a few areas I have neglected in the midst of grinding away at work– this blog, fitness and exercise, consistent sleep, social gatherings, building my other dreams, and reading. Honestly, these areas have been inconsistent in my life quite into 2014 too.

Well enough is enough, this post is about developing the plan that will hopefully help to rearrange my priorities so that I might find deeper fulfillment in my one life to live. After my admissions of guilt, you will find my plan and goals for 2016.

Today is about “I” statements. It is time to look in the mirror and figure out what role the person in the mirror [me] has played in my happiness and progress in life. The hopeful outcome is for me [and my reflection/inner self] to (1) figure out how to accept the contribution(s) I have made to where my life is (both the good and not-so-good) and (2) to figure out how to move forward toward living the fullest life possible. Usually I am not one for making yearly resolutions. However, this year I am not only going to make them, but I am also going to make them public so YOU can be my accountable partner. This mean it’s your fault if I don’t succeed, right?

 It is time to look in the mirror and figure out what role the person in the mirror plays in your happiness and progress in life.

Lofty would describe the plans I have in my head. I dream… I plan… I start… Some things I finish and for others I don’t even come close to the finish line. Although I know better, I still fall into the mental trap(s) that cause me to be paralyzed with inaction, to finger point, and to poorly prioritize. As I get older it seems more things require my time. Or, maybe it is more like I am not filtering and prioritizing efficiently. Life happens, work happens, feelings happen, I happen, the cat happens, and even the dog happens. At times, everything seems to happen besides what I personally would like to focus on in the moment.

Surrendering

Overall, I have had such a blessed life and a blessed year. Yet, there are a few areas that I would like to either better or to create. The first step on the road to recovery is admission (surrender), right? Well, here goes: This year, I had the problem of drinking subconscious excuse juice mixed with rationalization. Acceptance = My life is the way it is — good or bad — because (1) I allow it to be this way or (2) I create/d the circumstances that produce/d this life.

In life we blame other people and things for the outcome of our lives. Scapegoating and projecting our issues onto other people and things is the easier thing to do. We can’t chose the cards we are dealt, but we can chose (1) whether we want to continue to play the game and (2) what we want do with each card. I alone have the power to be happy or miserable about my cards.

Using a past post as inspiration, I am surrendering to the following:

  • I surrender my weaknesses and concerns over to God.
  • I surrender to the fact that God has given me the cards I have right now and will/can bring the necessary cards into my lives when the time is right. For now, I must learn to utilize the cards I have in my hands.
  • I accept that change will only happen when I get sick and tired of hearing my own excuses and rationalizations.
  • I surrender the defense mechanisms that cause me to anxiously avoid the idea that I played a part in those less than desirable areas of my life.
  • I surrender being upset about the things I cannot control.

Mental Adjustments

It is necessary to consider the honest reasons that we didn’t accomplish some of our 2015 personal goals. Here are some things I have learned during my reflection about progress, growth, and feeling lost in a whirlwind of deadlines and work/life expectations:

  • Change will happen when I get sick of hearing my own excuses.
  • Change will happen when I realize I’ve been talking about it for so long, yet have no real results to show for it.
  • Growth will happen when I am willing to slow down, readjust, and go at my own life pace.
  • Growth will happen when I don’t get frustrated when I don’t see immediate results.

Pre-Plan:

If you are interested in joining me, comment below, comment on Facebook, or send me an email in the “Ask Me” section

  1. Examine Reasons for Failure — In doing some more research about why people don’t accomplish goals and resolutions, some of the common factors were procrastination, disorganization, and fear. I am partly guilty of two of the latter reasons, maybe even three. Here are some of my additional my reasons:
    • I could have used my time more efficiently.
    • I did not prioritize healthy lifestyles choices.
    • I thought about worse case scenarios too much.
    • I allowed fear to dominate my thinking at times.
    • I was paralyzed by frustration at times.
    • I worried too much about what people might think about me or my decisions.
    • I kept to myself too much and became consumed with work and my own life.
  2. Health Check — Before we make this next push toward new goals, make sure that you are physically healthy. Any overdue doctor’s appointments? Book those appointments.
  3. Practice — Start practicing saying “no.” Sometimes it is just as important to say “no” as it is to say “yes” because sticking to goals takes sacrifice and discipline. We will have to prioritize our goals and schedule, so it is inevitable that will have to say “no” to things that take us away from our focus(es).
  4. Commit — Prepare to commit. That means saying “yes” despite fear, challenges, and pain. “Feel the fear and do it anyway.”
  5. Anticipate Challenges — Feeling tired is natural which means it happens to everyone. Sometimes the only way to push through doing something when we are tired will be to do it anyway. I know, it sucks…
  6. Get Rid of Guilt — Never regret putting your health, goals, or plans first especially if those plans are what’s best for you.
  7. Let It Go — We can no longer focus on the past as justification for why we cannot accomplish more.
  8. Plan — Create a plan and make check-in time tables.
  9. Partner Up — Find accountability measures if necessary.
  10. Forgive yourself for the mistakes you have made.

The Plan: 2016 Goals 

Step 1: State the plan — Write it out, don’t just keep it in your head. Make it public to add more incentive!

Here is my plan:

  1. Pray/Mediate More
  2. Read More
  3. Be More Fearless
  4. Be More Organized
  5. Travel More
  6. Maintain and Cultivate More Quality Relationships
  7. Write More
  8. Give More
  9. Regain Past Levels of Physical Fitness
  10. Dream Bigger

Step 2: Create accountability measures — Using people, timers, calendar remainders, etc. Make sure you have a plan to remember your goals! Trust me, life will get hectic and you will lose track of time. So far, I have a fitness fanatic friend texting me every week to ask me about my fitness progress. For the other goals, I am going to use you, the readers, as my accountability. Feel free to ask me how I am doing from time to time and I will give you an honest answer. In addition, I will be writing a monthly post check-in updating you on my progress!

For YOU: Tell me your goals/plan and I will check in with you to make sure you are staying on track! Let’s help each other! If there are multiple people with the same plan/goal, we will help support each other via The Life Me Blog’s Facebook page.

Conclusion

Though it looks like nothing more than a simple list, the plan is far from complex. It requires patience, passion, discipline, time management, consistency and stamina. I accept that there will be no one to blame in December 2016 if I haven’t accomplished these goals. That is why this year is about “I” statements. How am I taking control of the moments in my life? How I am taking control of my success and growth? I don’t know about you but I am ready to crush these goals!

What are you going to choose to take control of this year? What’s your 2016 plan? Please share below, even if only to put your plan out in the universe so the accountability gods can come and find you when you fall of the wagon.

Let’s do this!

Comment below or chat with me!

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Logic vs. Emotion

I swear, our logic and our feelings are like two siblings that like to constantly fight and bicker with one another. I remember fighting one of my older brothers when I was a little girl. He would pick on me or make a smart comment, I would cry, and then sometimes we would fight. I would try to rub his face deep into the carpet, but ultimately his strength and age would always overpower me! Darn you brother.

One time he pissed me off so much that I swore. “F*%&$ you!,” I boldly proclaimed! My emotions clearly overruled the logic — that I would get in huge trouble — and I said it again: “F*%&$ you!” This time, however, no brawl ensued. He simply said, “Oh, so you want to swear now?” Calmly, he walked out of the room in what I thought was defeat and I proudly proceeded to watch my afternoon cartoons. Next thing I know the phone rang for me, twice. First it was my mother calling from work and then it was the pastor’s wife! That little sneak left the room to call them… not to cry as I initially thought!  Let’s just say I got in BIG trouble when my mother got home, cried many tears that night, and the next Sunday had to go up and ask Jesus to come into my heart for the 5th time in my young life!

The annoying feeling of bickering with a sibling is what the tension between logic and emotion feels like — to me at least. Life happens, questions arise, doubt raises its ugly little head, and we have to determine which we are going to rely on to move forward — logic or emotions.

Hurdles are an excellent example of logic versus emotions. I remember having to do the hurdles during track and field tryouts in high school. It was interesting to say the least. You are running full speed ahead, see the hurdle right in front of you, and need to make a decision to jump over it. An experienced hurdler knows that proper execution relies very little on emotion but rather on three factors: (1) accurately counting the steps in between hurdles, (2) powering over the hurdle through the use of speed and momentum, and (3) proper running form in between and over hurdles.

Ready, set, go: 1-2-3-4-5 OVER…1-2-3 OVER…1-2-3 OVER…1-2-3 OVER… The hurdles race requires the runner to focus on their steps and technique rather than on trying to anticipate jumping over the hurdle. I am sure that with more training I would have become a very good hurdler. However, during the first auditions in practice I stutter-stepped before each hurdle and jumped over it each one with flailed arms and wild legs. Let’s just say that the hurdles never became by main event; I was better at sticking to sprinting without the hurdles being there to slow me down.

Sometimes my logic dominates my emotions, and in other cases my emotions overrule my logic. In general, I cannot say one way is better than the other without considering the situation. In some cases, logic should overrule emotions and in other instances we should be more emotional. The key to life is knowing which one should dominate in any given situation and then being able to listen to the appropriate one.

Logic versus emotions may play out in the following ways:

  • Sometimes you may have to trust your experience and logic, and in other times you may have to let your experience go and step out on the limb.
  • Other times, you may have to overcome your initial emotional responses and rely on systematic logic.
  • In other cases, you may have to completely throw away logic and pray that your gut emotional response is worth trusting.
  • From time to time, you might have to rely on both logic and emotions in order to navigate a situation.
  • And in certain cases, trusting any ounce of either logic or emotions will seem impossible — in which case I personally rely on the spiritual.

Logic and emotions like to fight and bicker within us. Unlike my fights with my brother, it is not always clear which side will win. I always lost, but in real life logic and emotions don’t always win or lose. Thankfully, as I got older the fighting with my brother decreased and we became siblings that have each others’ back when necessary. This is how we need to train our emotions/logic to interact– more like partners in crime than like warring children. A great partnership between both logic and emotions can make us unstoppable even in the face of the tallest hurdles.

Logic versus emotions will never be a black and white dilemma. One thing is for sure: Whether the situation requires more logic or more emotion, it is important to not slow down as we approach the hurdles of life. Momentum, momentum, momentum! Trusting our ability to generate enough power to make it over the hurdle(s) is just as important as trusting that we will be able to decide whether to use our emotions or our logic in any given situation. In reality, we need a little of both: enough logic to conclude that our experience and technique, if well executed, with not fail us and enough emotion to feel and use the power we possess to overcome any hurdle that lies ahead of us.

Photo Credit: G. Jereczek

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Fine Print

Sometimes one thing holding us back from doing what we want and need to do is the fact that we spend so much time getting back up from falls that could have been prevented if we paid more attention to details.

Chasing a dream can feel wonderful and turn out very wonderful having few detrimental hiccups along the way. When this happens, consider yourself blessed. I enjoy focusing on the big picture while I chase my goals; it keeps me optimistic, hopeful, and focused on charging forward. While this is a good practice, I have learned that God gave us two eyes and two ears for a reason — to figuratively keep one on the big picture and one on the details and fine print OR to enable us to focus more efficiently on one at a time.

I really dislike when the fine print and details — that I didn’t pay close enough attention to — throws me a curve ball that I wasn’t expecting. In most cases I could have been prepared for it, but I missed it because I was focusing on the wrong thing at the wrong time. It is important to discern when it is time to focus on the big picture and when it is time to focus on the details. Paying attention to the fine print and details takes time and patience, so it is no surprise that we usually want to rush through things. However, within the fine print typically lies the keys to avoiding unnecessary pitfalls. In a way, paying attention to both the big picture and the details is like running straight ahead while making sure to check the ground beneath you for rocky surfaces and ditches!

Personally, I like looking at both the big picture and the details. However, I have found that I am less motivated to pay attention to the details when I become fatigued mentally, emotionally, or physically. When life hits, I allow certain things to slip through the cracks. It is kind of pitifully funny to think about it because sometimes I see the matter walking toward the crack and I tell myself “it will not fall through that crack because I have sealed it enough to prevent it from fitting through there!” Then boom, through the cracks it goes! In other cases, I don’t even see the matter moving toward the crack because I am too distracted or tired to take the time to inspect the area for cracks.

Over the past months I have learned that fine print and details come in many different forms; yet, in most cases they are to be paid close attention to. From my experiences, these are the types of fine prints and details to pay more attention to — both literally and figuratively:

Written and explicit: There are certain things that are spelled out quite thoroughly and clearly. Whether we choose to pay attention to those details is another story. From contracts, directions, warranties, and signs to health, relationships, work, money, or business, there are rules and guidelines that are to be followed and adhered to. It is not hard in this case to understand that failure to comply usually results in a clearly stated reaction or result. Typically, when I let something fall through the cracks in this area I feel that I deserve little sympathy. I should have read or paid attention to the details, right? Thankful I have learned this lesson before, but every now and then it comes back to bite me in the hind parts!

Is there obvious and accessible information in your life that you are simply not taking the time to pay attention to?

Written and implicit: I think this combination confuses me the most! This is the area in which the fine print and details exist within a gray area that is only implemented when and if the people that created them feel like utilizing them. A small scale example would be store return policies: the enforcement depends on the store and the sales associate. On a larger scale, there are other areas in our lives when people have the option of deciding whether they want to uphold the rules of the fine print or whether they want to let things slide and/or override them. I love it when someone overrides something or pays less attention to the fine print on my behalf; but, I also get annoyed when I know they have made exceptions for other people, yet chose to say “no” in my case. The truth of the matter is that it is usually my fault for being in a situation in which I have to rely on someone overlooking/overriding the fine prints. The only person to be upset with in that situation is me. For the most part, erring of the side of caution and paying attention to our own details puts us less at the mercy of other people’s discretion. And if those people are not fond of you for any reason, you are screwed (which is a whole other story)!

Are you often relying on other people to get you out of situations because you failed to pay attention to details?

Unwritten and implicit/explicit: There are instances in life when the rules are not written, but people in the know or with experience accept and follow them. These are the most challenging details to detect and keep up with — in my opinion. This area gets a little tricky when it comes to people, politics, institutions, and society. In general, these made-up rules will only be applicable depending on the emotions, moods, characteristics, classes, or even demographics of the people involved. These dynamics are harder to trace, but I have found that it is still important to pay attention in order to minimize being caught in the gray area. When in Rome, you may not do exactly as the Romans, but you might find it important to know the unspoken rules the Romans live by.

In other cases, sometimes things have been done a certain way for so long that they can appear to most people as actual law. You may know that it is not written anywhere, but in that context it doesn’t matter since everyone else believes it to be an unwritten rule. You might choose to shed light on their ignorance, but it will inevitably cost you energy and stress that you may or may not be willing to deal with at that time. For example, in certain professional settings male facial hair is frowned upon. It is not written but it is understood by the players in that arena. It is also polite to hold the door for the person entering behind you, but where is that written? Sadly, these rules and practices are not written but you will be judged by them.

What unwritten rules or behaviors do you need to pay more attention to?

Fortunately enough, things falling through the cracks may not ruin the end goal. However, in other times failing to pay attention to the fine print and details can be detrimental. It can cost you time, money, resources, energy, or even your life. In our personal matters, goals, relationships, jobs, and associations, we had better start paying more attention to the writing on the wall, the fine print, details, or whatever you want to call it.

We will make mistakes, but making mistakes that are the least damaging for us is the ultimate goal. When are you paying least attention to the fine print and details of life? — when you are tired, having fun, around certain people, etc. What areas do you need to go back and pay a little more attention to? Whatever you missed, take the time to pay attention to it now.

Photo Credit: Phil Roeder

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Worrying Less About What People Think About You

“Stop caring about what people think about you,” he said.

I replied, “it is easier said than done.”

It is not always easy to analyze the causes of our fears, but it is usually very necessary. In my personal fear analyses, I found that too many of my fears centered around what other people — friends, parents, coworkers, associates, strangers, haters — were going to think about me. I asked myself, “if they are not God, why the heck do I even care so much about what they think?” I didn’t always have the answer, but I knew something needed to change if I wanted to live a full life.

I have never been a person that completely bends over backwards to ensure that people love me, but as a normal human being I do have a certain preference for people liking rather than hating me. The truth is that fear, comparison, competition, doubt, and insecurity in some ways center around us caring about what other people think about us. In general, overcoming the concern about what others are thinking is a major factor and hurdle for and in our success.

Whether we care to admit it or not, other people’s standards and expectations sadly become a factor in our decision making. I believe that people who are more successful — and I would argue happier as well — have found a way to overcome the “what will people think”  syndrome. Sometimes we miss out on the greatest adventures, opportunities, people, and experiences because we are overly concerned with what people will think about us and our decisions. 

Although it is easier said than done, these are some of the conclusions that allow me to move beyond worrying about what people think of me:

Sometimes what you think they think is not even accurate. 

While working at a very prestigious university some time ago, I was doing a good job but still felt slightly inadequate compared to what I thought were the geniuses I worked with. There were a number of opportunities to take more risks — some I did and others I did not — but I kept wondering what others would think about me if I stepped out in front, failed at a task, or took things in a new direction. To make a long story short, I was worried about them thinking I wasn’t qualified enough but the entire time they were thinking (I later learned) that I was doing great work, was very capable, and had a lot of potential to go even further. If you have ever experienced a time when you were certain you knew what someone else was thinking but ending up being wrong, then you have evidence that sometimes our worries are not always accurate. We cannot read minds so it makes little sense to be preoccupied and hindered by thoughts we may never know for sure.

Unfortunately, things are not always that positive; sometimes people are thinking negatively about us. In those cases, I use the following to help me move past the fear…

People are going to talk about you even if you are perfect.

From work to friendship circles to acquaintance gatherings, I cannot count the number of times in which we were all talking about how we love or like a person, place, or thing only to have one Negative Nancy (an expression, not a real person) chime in to share how much they do not like them or it. When asked for reasons why he/she did not like that person, place, or thing, they had absolutely no evidence to support their feelings! I can discuss the many reasons I think this happens, but it will never change the fact that people will have something to say about everything and everyone! God bless celebrities because we have never met most of them, yet we judge them like we own them! From these many experiences, I concluded that human beings are too complicated for me to ever prevent people from having an opinion about my life. I have been in situations were I felt I did everything right and someone still had something to say about it.

Sometimes people’s negative opinions about you are really just reflections of issues they have within themselves.

As you might have learned in a psychology course, sometimes people project their issues onto you. Sometimes people are thinking negatively about you simply because you remind them of what they are not or what they do not have. I remember when an old friend went on a rant about how I thought my boyfriend was the greatest guy on the planet. It was a very odd occurrence because I rarely talked about how deeply I was in love with him or ever mentioned much of any of the amazing things he did for me to her. She personally had a lot of issues going on in her life at the time, so I was quickly able to recognize that her comments stemmed from something else. Another instance came at work in which one woman tried to downplay the success of my work. She had a lot of social anxiety and insecurity (her own words) so I just assumed something about me reminded her of something she wasn’t happy about within herself. I have had my fair share of realizing that I don’t like someone simply because they have something I wish I did; so, I can speak with certainty when I say that you will never be able to control everyone liking, approving, or thinking positively about you. Sometimes the issues lie within the other person and out of your control.

The moral of the story: we should not allow our concern about what other people think of us to hinder us from taking opportunities, risks, or from striving for greater success. Since people are going to have an opinion no matter what you do, you would be crazy to wait around until everyone liked or agreed with you to make your move. It is probably impossible to completely stop caring about what people think of you, but you can work on getting to the point were the fear of opinions doesn’t prevent you from making a decision, taking a risk, or trying something new.

Photo Credit: Jenny Downing

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Shark Attack

Oh my goodness!

Does anyone know Mick Fanning’s blood type? Because his escape from that shark attack at the J-Bay Surf League Championship competition the other day was either pure miracle or he is certified half-human and half-beast! What a moment! Needless to say, for Mick’s sake, I am happy he survived; however, for the sake of everyone watching live, I am happy that we did not have to witness a tragedy.

After watching this near-death encounter, I started lecturing surfers everywhere… in my head of course. “If you know there are sharks in the ocean, why go out into the deep blue sea to dangle your little feet out there as bait? Is riding a wave really worth your life? Did the World Surf League even check to see if there were sharks in those waters? I would sue! This is exactly why I don’t go messing with sharks! If there is no boat to shield me from shark snack time gone wrong, then I am all set right here on the shore. Why play with danger? If you are silly enough to go out there, then you…”

Yes, for a split second I almost ignorantly suggested that someone deserved to get a limb chomped off because they were adventurous enough to live out a dream. Well, after doing my research I discovered that there is only a 1 in 4,000,000 chance of being killed by a shark. Mick was living his life and chasing his dream in the face of a low probability fear. Yet, there I was cowardly lecturing all surfers when I should have been asking myself about the low probability fears I have yet to conquer in my own life. At that point, I decided that I could probably learn a thing or two from Mr. Mick Fanning.

First off, Mick survived by only doing one thing correctly. The media headlines say, Mick Fanning “Battles Shark” and “Bravely Fights Off” attack. From the looks of it, Mick was terrified and did what any of us would do– scream, kick, and swim away for dear life! Overall, he did exactly what the surviving-a-shark-attack experts say NOT to do. He panicked. He turned his back to it. He tried to out swim it. The only thing that he did correctly was to hit the shark in an attempt to scare it away!  This is a great lesson because this means that (1) we don’t have to be perfect in order to win and (2) we don’t have to look perfect (or pretend to look perfect) while fighting the sharks of life. It is unrealistic to think that we will not break a sweat in the midst of a challenging battle. We are human and great human warriors sweat too. If you don’t believe me, then watch the movie 300.

Early on in life, I thought that defeating a challenge meant destroying it completely. If I was too weak to stand there, fight, and destroy it like David did Goliath, I would be disappointed with myself up for seeming weak. On the other hand, if I destroyed the challenge, but did it with a scary-cat panicked demeanor, I would also downplay the accomplishment. Mick teaches us that escaping and surviving doesn’t always need to be pretty and heroic; it just needs to be practical. In life there are sharks– plenty of them– and I am sure that (for the most part) in the end it doesn’t matter how we look when we are fighting them off. We just need to get the heck out of danger and keep living! Survival is not always pretty, perfect, and heroic; sometimes it is panicked and hectic, and that’s OK.

Secondly, thank God for adrenaline! Seriously. I don’t think that anyone would have anticipated this shark attack at the J-Bay Competition, but it happened unexpectedly anyway. When I think about life, I see similar situations happening to people all time. You are sitting there enjoying life, living a dream, accomplishing a goal, working hard to win, and then BOOM! A shark, or in our case, people and circumstances come to take a bite out of that body! Usually, this concept discourages me: I am on a mission to do good and then sharks try to destroy me! It is even more devastating when the human shark monsters attack you intentionally. What I admire most about Mick is that he fought back even though he was terrified! I can imagine that he saw his life flash right before his eyes. Ultimately, Mick decided that survival was more likely if he kept moving! Hitting the shark with force gave him enough time to get away– and that was all he needed. In the end it worked and he survived.

What is wrong with just “dodging the bullet?” What is wrong with simply escaping the shark attack? Surviving is just as courageous! At least you are alive to tell your story! Are there life-sharks seemingly appearing out of nowhere ready to eat you alive? Are you dealing with the unexpected and feel like it might be the end of you? Well, as in the case of Mick Fanning, KEEP MOVING; and if you are frightened, panicked, and everything in between, still keep moving! Remember, escaping and surviving doesn’t always need to be pretty and heroic, it just needs to be practical. You just might survive. Correction: You will survive!

Whatever you do, just don’t let the sharks take you under!

Photo Credit: CNN News courtesy of WSL

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