My New Book Living More Than OK

My New Book Living More Than OK
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Tuesday, March 23, 2010

The Importance of Choices in Our Lives

Recently I received an email comment on my posting Our Humanity Messiness and Choices. You can read the comment at that posting. The person rightly pointed out that some messes occur due to our being locked up by our holding onto false beliefs generated through culture, society, religion, family, and ect. The commentator then used the example that men often do not go for help with problems due to the false beliefs that they should be strong and figure it out by themselves. A false pride in self; which is only fear of breaking free from the belief controlling them. The email ended with victory in the power to choose to free oneself of the fears of false belief. So I wanted to look more at our power to choose.

We can face fewer false beliefs if we challenge them with critical thinking skills I mentioned in the post Living More Than OK By Using Critical Thinking Skills. I will discuss more on that topic as well in the future. Yet even using critical thinking is a choice we must make. I mentioned power along with choice. “The greatest power that a person possesses is the power to choose” J. Martin Kohe, (author and psychologist). We have amazing power for good possibilities and bad in our lives based on the choices we make. Hal Urban in his book Life’s Greatest Lessons says, “…we all have the potential to do more with our lives. Every human being is capable of making great strides in self development and major increases in achievements.” As I have mentioned before that is a driving force in my starting this blog --the desire to help people maximize their potential and possibilities in life.

Too many people fail to reach their potential because they feel they do not have control. They fail to see that each day is full of choices that affect our present and futures. Sure there are the flat tires that come in our lives. No one wakes up choosing to be stranded on the side of the road with a flat. Even then we make a choice to get out of the car to fix the flat or call Triple A to fix the flat for us. I am a firm believer in Chaos Theory. Happenstance happens. Yet when the stuff of life we cannot control come crushing in we still have a choice what to do in response. Even the response of allowing ourselves to be crushed by the circumstance is a choice. Been there, been crushed and don’t recommend remaining crushed for a length of time.

To maximize our living we need to see the positive choices we can make each day. Even to make lemonade out of the lemons that drop into our lives. One of my favorite Psychological theories, ( probably because I believe in the power of Choice), is Choice Theory by Dr. William Glasser. A central aspect of Choice Theory is the belief that we are internally, not externally motivated. While other theories suggest that outside events "cause" us to behave in certain predictable ways, Choice Theory teaches that outside events never "make" us to do anything. What drives our behavior are internally developed notions of what is most important and satisfying to us. … Another major concept in Choice Theory is the notion that we always have some choice about how to behave. This does not mean that we have unlimited choice or that outside information is irrelevant as we choose how to behave. It means that we have more control than some people might believe and that we are responsible for the choices we make. (from What is going on internally in us is more important than the externals that affect our life journey. We are responsible to make the best choices for our good and for those traveling on the journey with us.

I like Dr. Glasser’s thinking, as the quote states we do not ignore the external information. If I have a flat tire I don’t ignore it and keep driving. “ My the road sure seems to be bumpy!” Of course it is not the road it is the flat tire. If I ignore the external, the small problem of the flat tire turns into the big problem of a smashed rim and broken axle. That bigger problem was the result of my ignoring the small problem. So by understanding the power of our choices we can maximize our living and sidetrack many of our problems which are results of poor choices or choosing not to choose.
As you wake up each day understand that you, not others are in control of your choices. Make the choice to make choices that will be the best for your life journey and for those travelling with you. “It is the big choices we make that set our direction. It is the smallest choices we make that get us to the destination.” –Shad Helmstetter-


Do you take the time to use critical thinking in the choices you make?
How do you respond to the external flat tires in your life?
Are there some choices you need to make that may bring new possibilities to your life journey?

Sunday, March 14, 2010

Making Time for Self Improvement

If we wish to live more than an ok life, one important area in our time management we need to include is time for self improvement. Through self improvement and self renewal we can spiral upwards to living more than ok. Too often in our lives the stuff of life snuffs out opportunities to take the time in our schedule to improve ourselves.

I like the metaphor in Stephen Covey’s 7 Habits of Highly Effective People. In his seventh habit he calls it Sharpen the Saw. He looks at Sharpening the Saw as our taking time to improve ourselves in four areas of our lives: Physical, Social, Mental, and Spiritual. The Saw metaphor reminds us that we are a useful tool in our daily living with our work and interaction with others. Also as I have mentioned in the past we each have a purpose. Saws are purposeful when cutting wood, cutting limbs off trees, or cutting plastic/metal pipes to the correct length.

When our life is dull as a saw, it loses it’s effectiveness to fulfill it’s purpose. We become overcome with boredom and feel purposeless. The dullness also allows our lives to become out of balance and controlled by the stuff of life. We become stuck on autopilot with too many things happening to us instead of taking control and responsibility ourselves to make life happen for our advantage. The dull saw life is living just ok, getting by and enduring the sense of despair. A saw is not meant to be dull and rusty instead to fulfill its purpose, needs to be shiny and sharp. For maximum living we need to be shiny and sharp. That is what sharpening the saw is about.

Looking at the four areas Covey speaks of the first is the Physical. I have touched on this before. Are you taking time in your week for physical fitness? Three to four times a week you should be in some type of physical activity. I mentioned as a heart patient I exercise daily. I regularly use the treadmill and elliptical machines for aerobic exercise. I have also mentioned that my wife and I do a Leslie Sansone Walk at Home workout several times a week. Of course find out what works for you, gyms, neighborhood jogging, other dvd exercise programs of your choice. The key is to make it a part of your life rituals.

The second area is the Social. I haven’t discussed relationships yet in my blog postings but I will go more in depth in the future. As the saying goes, “No man is an island”. We all interact with others on a daily basis. That is why emotional intelligence is important. Managing and controlling our emotions to better improve our interactions with family, friends and strangers. Do you make time to improve your relationship connections with the significant people in your lives? Taking time to keep family strong and close relationships strong can keep your saw sharp and effective in your other interactions you face in life.

The third area is Mental. From my previous posting on critical thinking, you know the mental aspect of our lives is very important to me. We cannot be effective if our mind is dull. It hampers our thinking and causes us to make poor choices which then brings about negative consequences in our daily living. You can improve this area by becoming a Bookhead like me. Reading expand and strengthens our mind. Read more on topics you enjoy and expand your reading to new topics. You may also want to take a class at a local university or community college to sharpen your mind.

Then the fourth area is the Spiritual. One can improve in this realm of our being by following their religious heritage. As I have mentioned mine is the Christian heritage. For those without a religious heritage, who may consider themselves agnostic or atheist the spiritual can still have a place in taking time for Mindfulness Meditation, or taking time alone to reflect in nature. Those who follow a religious path need to place into their time schedule a daily time for spiritual development based on their particular teachings. I try each day to find time for devotion and prayer.

In closing, how is your saw doing? To live the best life possible we need to take control of our time and place in our schedules time for Sharpening the Saw. As we improve physically, socially, mentally, and spiritually we will have more energy and be more alert for the other major areas in our busy schedule. If we don’t it will be like sawing a tree with a dull rusty blade. We won’t get the job done and we may even break.

Rate yourself in the four areas: Physical, Social, Mental, and Spiritual. Which area are your strongest in? Which area do you need the most growth in?

What physical activities are you involved in?

How are you working to improve your most significant relationships?

How are you improving your Mental side of your life? Are you reading a new book? Have you considered taking a Continuing Education course at a local College or an online course?

Do you take time each day to improve your spiritual life?

Monday, March 1, 2010

Our Humanity Messiness and Choices

In being open and accepting of our humanness we need to be aware that in our life journey we have a tendency to make messes in our lives. At times we are our own worst enemy towards living an abundant life which I term Living More Than OK. We fall into wrong behaviors or harmful thought patterns that affect our behaviors. Sometimes it is a negative reaction to chance events in our lives.

Looking at life with a Christian worldview I see the messes we create in life relate to the concept of the sin nature spoken of in the Bible. It is the observation that we fall short of perfection and many times fall far short. Two children fighting in school and a teacher stops them, how often will one student step up and say, “ to be honest, teacher I started the fight.” No instead without being taught they point at each other, “He started it!.” No one teaches us to lie it comes natural. These falling short moments often create messes in our lives that affect our life experience and many times those around us.. It is a struggle with our human nature that we fight with in our life. The Apostle Paul points out this inner struggle in his writings. “I do not understand what I do. For what I want to do I do not do, but what I hate I do. For I have the desire to do what is good, but I cannot carry it out. 19For what I do is not the good I want to do; no, the evil I do not want to do—this I keep on doing. (Romans 7:15,18&19). It is that battle of choosing to do right or wrong.

The battle between doing what is right verses creating a new mess in our lives relates to our personal choices. From a Christian standpoint the ultimate choice in the battle relates to a faith decision in what Christ has done for us in His Death And Resurrection. But the little battles daily relate to personal choices as well. As Dr Shad Helmstetter says , “ Who knows what you could accomplish in life if you made more of the right choices along the way?”

We recently took our daughter up to Corpus Christi to a Switchfoot concert. They have a song on their new CD Hello Hurricane that relates to the topic of Overcoming messes in our lives. Watch the video of them, and reflect over the lyrics below.

Mess of Me (Click to watch the video)

I am my own affliction, I am my own disease
There ain’t no drug that they could sell, Ah there ain´t no drugs to make me well
There ain´t no drug

There ain´t no drug, There ain´t no drug, It´s not enough, The sickness is myself

- Chorus -
I made a mess of me I wanna get back the rest of me
I made a mess of me I wanna spend the rest of my life alive
I made a mess of me I wanna the get back rest of me
I made a mess of me I wanna spend the rest of my life alive
The rest of my life alive!

We lock our souls in cages, We hide inside our shells
It´s hard to free the ones you love, Oh when you can´t forgive yourself
Yeah forgive yourself!

There ain´t no drug, There ain´t no drug, There ain´t no drug, The sickness is myself

- Chorus -
I made a mess of me I wanna get back the rest of me
I´ve made a mess of me I wanna spend the rest of my life alive
I´ve made a mess of me I wanna reverse this tragedy
I´ve made a mess of me I wanna spend the rest of my life alive
The rest of my life alive!

There ain´t no drug, There ain´t no drug, There ain´t no drug, No drug to make me well
There ain´t no drug, It´s not enough, I´m breaking up, The sickness is myself
The sickness is myself

- Chorus -
I made a mess of me I wanna get back the rest of me
I´ve made a mess of me I wanna spend the rest of my life alive
I´ve made a mess of me I wanna reverse this tragedy
I´ve made a mess of me I wanna spend the rest of my life alive
The rest of my life alive!!

When we choose to let our messes control our lives we lock ourselves up. When I allowed my life to spiral into depression after a difficult time in Chicago I did lock up a lot of my spare time in my apartment. It was often a struggle to get out and do the right thing of doing things I enjoyed like exploring the art museum, various neighborhood activities and seeing people at church. It was more depressingly comfortable to stay in the shell of the apartment. The desire in the back of my mind was to “get back the rest of me” and “spend the rest of my life alive”. That was the choice I eventually followed

During that difficult period, I took the time to reflect on how I wanted the rest of my life to go. Times of meditation on the Psalms and solitude of prayerful reflection on my life journey helped me make better Choices. “Listen to the quietest of whispers of your mind…They are telling you the choices that will help you the most.” - Shad Helmstetter. It is during times of quiet solitude where we can think through our lives and our future possibilities with deeper clarity. So if you are in the midst of a mess or tired of a messy life; place into your time schedule time to have quiet time to reflect on the whispers of your mind. Make a weekend get away to just reflect on what you want to make your live more alive. To reflect over the future of your life journey and look at new possibilities for yourself.

Is there a mess in your life that makes you feel caged in?
How can you get back to being the you -- you want to be?
What will help you make your life more alive?