Want Happiness? Get Discipline.

When I think about happiness in areas of love, career, relationships, finances, health, and just life in general, I find that discipline is an essential factor to finding and maintaining that “happy place” we so desperately strive for. If I am honest with myself, the times in my life when I have been the most “happy” have been the times when I have felt productive, organized, goal-oriented, and disciplined with my time and resources. You know those times when you have a goal in mind – and you know the necessary steps to achieve it – but the steps require significant focus, sacrifice, and discipline? Yeah, that’s exactly what I am saying. It seems that it is very easy to dream and set goals, but it takes a disciplined person to achieve them.

From a young age, we teach our children that hard work pays off, and the truth is it usually does. But, hard work is not always the golden ticket to success because one can work hard but not work “disciplined.” Sometimes we end up working so hard, because we were not as disciplined as we should have been to begin with. Or, maybe that’s just me.

I have found that success in any area takes unwavering discipline in ones thoughts, behaviors, associations, beliefs, and emotions. It is not always an easy task but it is a key to success. So, if you are lacking happiness or struggling to find success in a particular area, check your level of discipline in your thoughts, behavior, associations with other people, belief system, and/or your emotions. I know that if I am honest with myself, I can use a little more discipline, or maybe even a lot more.

A Guide to Becoming Whole: An Essential Part of Success and Successful Relationships

And we wonder why our lives feel like a glass filled with holes in which happiness and people dissolve faster than we can really enjoy them? It is much easier to feel incomplete, empty, and lonely in this world than to believe that within ourselves lies the capacity to be whole. Two is supposed to be better than one, so how can we hope that half of us and half of another person will ever equal a dynamic duo. Ultimately, we either believe that as human beings we are born whole, but become pierced and broken over time, or we believe that we are born as weak, broken, empty persons expected to find fullness throughout our lifetime.

Regardless of personal philosophies, at one or more times in our life, circumstance, experience, fear or poor self-image causes most of us to succumb to the feeling of inadequacy. It sucks because we are told that the foundation of successful relationships (of any kind) is built by bricks of individuality and completeness. After loss, hurt, and disappointment, we are admonished that healing is essential to regain our wholeness. But how? How can we fill voids that we often are not aware we even have? Moreover, if we knew how to fill these voids, we would not have them to begin with. They are unique as the pieces of a puzzle, certain to make everyone’s journey to discovering and understanding how to become whole a very individual one. Ultimately, no one can make you whole because no one understands your complete picture like you and God.

So, after spending countless hours of my early years assuming that I was incomplete without particular people, relationships, and other “things,” and after many failed Google searches, internal conversations, broken-hearted moments, failures, and struggles with self-image, somewhere along the way, I started to become whole, or maybe I just started to believe in my already existent wholeness. Let this guide save you time and emotions. Friends, it is time to pick up the pieces, fill in the gaps, and become whole.

1. Acknowledge the areas in which you feel incomplete and inadequate. This may take some digging or honesty with yourself, but it is an important step. As in the 12 steps of Alcoholics Anonymous, “admission is the first step to recover.” You may not be an alcoholic, but most people sure are addicted to the negativity that keeps them feeling less than whole. According to Leonard Noel, “acceptance does not mean that we agree with what is happening or that we believe it must continue… Acceptance means that we are able to gaze into the face of the present and say, ’You are in front of me, and I acknowledge you are here.'”

2. Uncover the experiences that started creating “voids” in your life. Once you acknowledge the areas in which you feel there are a voids, you also need to start the process of understanding how they got there so that you can forgive whomever needs to be forgiven, and then forgive yourself. In reality, no one has that much control over you to permanently create a void in your life, unless you allow it. You just might need to take back that piece of yourself that you gave away. 

3. Identify the behaviors and negative coping you have used to deal with and cover up the voids or hurts. Often, we do not even notice that we are not whole or that we are broken because we are so good at telling ourselves that we are okay. Sometimes it is by examining our behaviors that we see that we are overcompensating for the incompleteness that we feel.

4. Consider your self-image. In order to become whole, or accept the fact that we are whole beings separate from others, we must believe that we are capable of and strong enough to be whole. Of course we all have imperfections, and might always have them, but imperfections do not always equal inadequacy. Think positive, be positive, and then have a positive self-image.

5. Accept your uniqueness. Most times we do not feel whole because we feel inadequate in some way. It is critical to accept and find peace in the fact that we are different and were created to be different. We typically strive to be different, but spend more time comparing ourselves to others than working on being unique. If we always look to complete ourselves with what other people are, we will never be whole. Someone else’s uniqueness was never meant for you.

6. Understand your reasons for wanting that relationship. I am inserting this here because being whole is important for having good relationships with other people, especially relationships with “significant others” or spouses. However, many people chase relationships instead of wholeness all because Jerry Maguire said “you complete me.” No. They should make you better, not make you.

7. Understand that people’s behaviors are not always your fault. Most of our feelings of inadequacy come as a results of what other people have said and done to us. They do or say something. We blame ourselves. They support and echo the blame. We try to change ourselves to “fix it.” Then, they find something else or become a prick about another thing. Maybe sometimes it is your fault, but in other cases, they are the sole issue and source of the problem. Do not internalize and degrade yourself for something that is not even your issue. Some people have major issues and their behaviors originate out of those screwed up issues.

8. Don’t let society make you feel incomplete. Now this is a hard one. The images and norms that bombard us make it difficult to not feel empty or inadequate. I don’t know about you, but some of what the Joneses, celebrities, and other people have is quite attractive. But, we must be careful not to judge ourselves against another man’s standard which will likely change in the next five years. In many ways, society is warped. Trying not to internalize every thought and image it shoves in your face will be essential to feeling whole. Have or have not, maybe physiological voids at times, but you are still a whole soul.

9. Maintain your wholeness. Arriving at a place where you feel whole does not mean you will feel that way forever. It is important to maintain a positive self-image and constantly keep your mind polished. Things that go untouched accumulate debris. Such will become your feeling of being whole if you do not maintain it. Be willing and committed to investing in YOU.

10. Protect your wholeness. Inevitably, there will be times when you will lose people that were intricately woven into your life. In many ways, they might have been crucial in helping you maintain the feeling of being whole. It is in those times that you have to try your hardest to accept the loss, find some piece of closure, or heal. Be careful not to fall into the trap of quickly “replacing” them because subconsciously you feel lost and incomplete with them. This might be hard. In other situations, protecting your wholeness will be less about who you lost and more about who you choice to add or allow in your life.

Hopefully, you found something in this post that has helped you become more whole as a person. Now that you are whole, go out and help someone else get there, but be patient and remember that it did not happen for you overnight.

11 Questions to Help Clear Your Vision

Sometimes our vision can become cloudy without us even realizing it. Most days I wear contact lenses, but over the weekend I wanted to give my eyes a rest, so I threw my eyeglasses on. After about five hours of moving around my house, I noticed some dust particles starting to stick to the lenses on my glasses. Honestly, the only reason I noticed the specks was because the glasses almost fell off my nose as I bent over to set up my television for my Breaking Bad marathon. The dust wasn’t really bothering me, but I knew cleaning them was the right thing to do, so cleaning it was.

After mounting them back onto my nose with certain clearer vision, it dawned on me how important it must be to deliberately clear our vision in life as well. I started to wonder how clouded our vision must becomes over time from experience, people, emotional debris, and secondhand mental pollution. Vision = what we desire, what we believe, what we accept, and what we seek to reproduce. For the most part, what we believe, think, and desire are partially results of what we see, with hearing being the other culprit sense. The real danger lies in the fact that we might not be aware of how clouded our personal vision has become. Certainly it was not until I cleaned my glasses and noticed the marked difference in clarity that I became more aware of my blurred sight.

As we move forward in life and this year, do not forget to take the time to periodically clear your vision, whether daily, weekly, or monthly. One general way to evaluate clarity is by checking your life. Most times, our thoughts and intentions are reflected through our lives, through the people we choose to surround ourselves with, and by our overall productivity. Vision may not be completely adjusted overnight, but checking, evaluating, and realigning it (if necessary) usually does not hurt.

Questions to Help Clear Your Vision:

1. Are your relationships healthy?

2. Are you happy with how you spend most of your time?

3. Who are you listening to?

4. In what ways are you allowing society and those around you to influence your actions and life?

5. On an average day, are you thinking more positive thoughts than negative ones?

6. Do you know what you believe and are you confident in what you believe?

7. Are you as confident in yourself as you should be?

8. Do you have an idea of your next steps in life, whether small or large?

9. What is holding you back or weigh you down?

10. Are you healed from past negative experiences?

11. Are you happy?

Time: Quality over Quantity

“Don’t say you don’t have enough time. You have exactly the same number of hours per day that were given to Helen Keller, Pasteur, Michaelangelo, Mother Teresa, Leonardo da Vinci, Thomas Jefferson, and Albert Einstein.” (H. Jackson Brown Jr.)

This quote has cost me hours of silent questioning, and sometimes doubt, over the course of my life. I cannot tell you how many times I have heard of time as an equalizing factor among people. Hypocritically, I have also preached the essence of this quote to others during many of my inspirational convulsions. Most times, I was simply restating what I had been told and aspired to do while subconsciously wishing that practice makes perfect, or in this case “words have power,” might transform my words into ways. At the end of some days I am left asking myself…

  1. Why didn’t I accomplish more?
  2. What is wrong with me?
  3. I did many things, but did I accomplish enough?

From the Nelson Mandela’s and Einstein’s to the Steve Jobs’ and Jefferson’s, most of the people to which we compare our 24 hours of time are those that have in some ways had great impact on the world or those that we deem to be more productive, successful, or more well-known than ourselves.  Some days the greatest impact that I feel like I have is changing my clothes, exercising, laughing, having a solid work performance, and on a great day, maybe inspiring a person or leaving a footprint in someone’s life. And after a day, I then, in the back of my mind, compare my daily feat to that of others both dead and alive and question whether my time was really spent doing anything that really matters, because then again, I didn’t change the world like everyone in the quote. Why are passing days not more like the Michaelangelo’s of the world? Better yet, am I even supposed to be like the Michaelangelo’s and Mandela’s? In reality, the only question I probably should be asking myself is if I am using time to the best of my ability to produce the greatest version of myself. Maybe my hard work is changing the world in different yet just as meaningful and memorable ways as that of the “great ones.” But, of course I am human so the societal pressure to be a superhero or die forgotten overtakes my over-analytic mind.

On the pendulum of emotions, feeling like Mother Theresa one day and an ant the next, I think I’ve discovered something about this quote on time that might grant me some mental peace and freedom from comparison to the “heroes” of the world. It is impossible to do all things in one day, even if you never sleep. It is true that everyone has the same 24 hours in a day, however, everyone does not have the same life, purpose, skills, resources, attitudes, health or goals. Since these factors prevail, it is therefore impossible and foolish to continue to toss this concept of time around as a reason that everyone in the world should and can achieve what looks like the same greatness.

But seriously, how are “they” able in one day to exercise, cook, clean, study, read, respond to all emails, stay informed, plan, work, pray, take care of family, talk to friends, start and finish a new project, maintain and build intimate relationships, change the world, and make a list for how to do it all over again before I have even finished half of that! The truth is that most of them do not complete all of that in one day. They prioritize, organize, take small steps, take huge steps, fail some days, and succeed in others more than we care to notice. We tend to look at the picture without acknowledging the pieces of that picture. It is most likely because we are human and do not enjoy the process of success, but I digress.

I think will try to stop condemning myself for not producing a masterpiece at the end of a every day and start spending more time examining if my time was spent purposefully and productively for my given goals, dreams, and life’s work. Instead of expecting to do the same amount as others, I think it better to analyze if I spent my time as meaningfully. In this case, meaning is sometimes found in quality over quantity. After weighing your personal differences and goals, make sure each day is filled with things that will productively allow you to die having few regrets. And when looking at the moguls, heroes, and highly successful, examine how they find ways to complete tasks more efficiently and steal (or borrow) that idea/practice and then consistently give the same dedication and discipline as they did/do. That my friend is a good use of time.

GPS: Shut Up and Fly

On a street stands a girl from a big city, with great dreams, huge wings, and a warped sense of what it means to fly. She stands at the bottom of a tall building enthusiastically determined to reach the top and roam throughout the skies as if there’s a world to discover in limited time. She reaches the top of the building, breeze gently calming the fears of what might happen if she falls off the edge.

Confidently ready to soar, backpack filled and wings outstretched, she begins approaching the edge. Suddenly, yards before her feet are supposed to leave the ground, she abruptly stops. “Where am I going? What if I am not supposed to go there? What if I make a wrong turn along the way and end up someplace I was never supposed to be?” After minutes of what seems like forever, she hesitantly sits down in one of the chairs left over from what seemed like a roof-top party. She refuses to go back down to the street-level, and is too overwhelmed, confused, and nervous to fly, so she decides to stay on the roof until she has a well-thought-out plan and route.

Well-intentioned, the girl spent more time in that chair than she originally anticipated and worried if her decisions were going to lead her in the right direction. If you put a bullhorn to her head, you would hear her thoughts resounding like a tape stuck on repeat.

After time had passed and the girl had questioned herself, life, and her journey to the point where even her questions started asking for a rest, she heard a voice say “shut up and fly.” It was the GPS system someone or something had placed on the back of her right wing.

“Listen, in this life, you are supposed to fly,” says the GPS. “And yes, you may make a few flippin’ wrong turns along the way, but you know what? There are multiple routes to the same destination. “If you would just listen carefully enough, you will hear me say “recalculating route. Even if you “go it alone” and get lost, just turn me on and we can start flying from the dreaded land of the lost. Granted, it may take you longer, but you WILL arrive at your destination. So, that being said, can we go now? I mean my gosh, SHUT UP and FLY!”

Still shaken from the unexpected voice and her body’s fight-or-flight still in high gear, she stepped back, ran toward the edge, and took off like a bird that had been caged for far too long.

The “Don’t Talk About It, Be About it” Challenge

I’M BACK! It has been a little over a month since my last post. The absence started off with my need to focus on a major deadline, then there was a week or two of physical and emotional fatigue, and then there were a few days of decision-making! Nevertheless, I am back and here to stay for a while…

After I met my deadline, I felt a sense of accomplishment… and then I immediately started to get worked up about my next steps, how I am going to accomplish “this” and “that,” how “this” mistake might effect “that” and blah, blah, blah, on and on. Unfortunately, my work environment has been quite negative for the past year or so which has resulted in many conversations about whether people should stay or leave. Naturally, many of my close colleagues and friends, have constantly been asking me what my plans are and where I see myself in the next coming years. So, I found myself having conversations about my future, my dreams, and my concerns, doubts, and fears, at least once a day. I started to find that all these conversations were actually creating more confusion. But more importantly, I realized that if I laid out my plans TOO vividly to too many people, that (1) they may not be able to understand my goals, in which case I will find myself having to defend my decisions, (2) they will question me if I change my mind and decide on a new path later on, which means 5,000 conversations explaining why, how, and when all over again, and (3) that I was actually WASTING valuable time explaining what I was doing with MY life rather than spending valuable time doing something to actually meet my goal. An hour here, a half-hour there, talking about what I’m going to do and 5 minutes, 20 minutes, and an hour on actually moving toward it.

So, two weeks ago, after around the 50th person asked me what I’m doing about work and life, I told myself to shut up.

THE CHALLENGE: We often spend so much time talking about what we want to do and then making excuses when it doesn’t happen or when we get distracted from making it happen. Yes, it is important to articulate your goals and ambitions to a select group of people for accountability purposes, but sometimes you just need to shut up, stop talking about it, and do the darn thing. Well, at least I do.

So, I have challenged myself to not explain, describe, defend, or discuss (I am aware that many of those words mean the same thing, but I need to emphasis it for myself) my goals for at least THREE MONTHS, but instead spend that time putting in some serious work toward meeting those goals. You see, “Don’t Talk about It, Be about It” requires some “being about it!” You can’t just be quiet, sit and think, sacrifice time with family and friends just to accomplish nothing. So, if you would like to join me in this challenge of DOING IT versus SAYING IT, let me know so that we can encourage each other in our “silent” active efforts.

Who knows, I might just keep this challenge going until I actually accomplish my next goal, which is……… Ha, you thought I forgot.

Don’t believe me? Just watch.

To stay in touch, follow me on Twitter @MBelleTweets

Investing in YOU

So many people want to succeed. At this point, the word success has become synonymous with LIFE because everyone born into this world has the innate desire to “succeed.” It’s not the word that creates problems; it’s how we define it that creates a lifelong challenge as our personal vision of success changes with the seasons and transforms with time.

One of the essential factors of success is our willingness to invest time, money, and energy into ourselves. This may be easy for some people, yet a true sacrifice for others. Some people need to become more willing to spend money on their personal development. Some may need to sacrifice additional time away from pleasurable events and people in order to avail more time to focus on a goal. Then, there are others that need to sacrifice their comfort and pride to seek help in order to improve personal areas of weakness that hinder success and/or sacrifice time to learn how to improve those areas alone.

Why should someone else count you IN when you count yourself OUT? Would you gamble and bet on yourself? Would you invest in yourself? If not, why should anyone be willing to invest time, money, and resources when you haven’t started investing in YOU? People are not as willing to invest in companies or people if they fear they will lose their investment. Are YOU afraid to invest in yourself because you are fearful that in the end you will FAIL? If we are confident that we can achieve a goal, we should be willing to invest in ourselves to accomplish it.

Remember, your sacrifices are temporary. Your investment(s) will eventually pay off if you’re wisely and efficiently investing in yourself.

Traffic Signals for LIFE: 15 Rules

Pay attention to the traffic lights of LIFE. They will give you direction and guidance along this life journey.

RED

STOP letting fear cripple you.

STOP allowing people to plant seeds of doubt and negativity in your mind.

STOP refusing to forgive people that have hurt or disappointed you.

STOP looking for love in all the wrong places.

STOP getting hung up on what people think about you (positive or negative).

 YELLOW

SLOW DOWN when you start feeling your emotions spiraling out of control.

SLOW DOWN when you feel yourself beginning to act out of character.

SLOW DOWN when your body starts telling you it is overworked or stressed.

SLOW DOWN and take time to reflective on lessons life has already taught you.

SLOW DOWN and enjoy the moments of the PRESENT.

GREEN

GO exercise and try to take better care of your body.

GO spend every day more happier and productive than wasteful and angry/sad.

GO dream in the face of opposition.

GO explore new places and ideas.

GO forward when others are too scared or unwilling to join you.