Changing the World

We’ve all had thoughts or dreams of changing the world.  Perhaps we see ourselves giving this life-changing speech.  Perhaps we imagine ourselves negotiating peace treaties between hostile nations or writing books where we explain life lessons in ways people never thought.  It can feel like people are waiting to hear the right thing and if we could just figure out what, we’d be the one to make that difference.

The truth is that we can dream of making big changes all we want, but it all starts in our day-to-day life.  If I want to make this world we live in a better place, I need to start with that small fraction of the world that’s part of my day-to-day life.

It doesn’t have to be complicated: friendly smile to people I meet throughout the day, quality time with my spouse and children, uttering words of consolation or encouragement to someone in need, giving a meal to homeless person, etc.  The possibilities are endless.

In the grand scheme of things, it can seem insignificant.  However, if everyone tried to brighten the day of those they meet in their day-to-day life, this world could almost become a true paradise.  If we start living this Gospel charity in our own lives, our example can inspire others to do the same.  A simple act of kindness can go a long way.

Imagine how many mental health issues would disappear if we learned to treat others with their God-given dignity.

Be a light to your world today!

photo credit: <a href=”http://www.flickr.com/photos/15216811@N06/5004381056″>Trent as seen from Sardagna – IMG_7884</a> via <a href=”http://photopin.com”>photopin</a&gt; <a href=”https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0/”>(license)</a&gt;

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Removing Road Blocks

In some previous posts, I’ve addressed the topics of dreaming big and fighting for our dreams.  Recently, I’ve become aware that my pursuit of dreams was hindered by roadblocks.  I have goals, but it seems doubtful that I’ll make it.  Perhaps the reason is that I won’t reach them if nothing changes.

Whether your own goals are to achieve financial or professional success, or to recover from depression or other mental health difficulty, or whatever they may be, you are likely hindered by a road block.  These road blocks, unfortunately, are usually not so evident.  They can seem harmless: the types of books you read, to company you surround yourself with, a comfortable under-stimulating lifestyle, etc.

My recommendation is to start by making small, concrete changes that will give you a nudge towards your goal.  If you want to achieve your goals, seek advice or read literature by those who’ve achieved similar goals before you.  If you feel there’s a part of your daily routine that doesn’t help you grow personally or draw closer to your goal, then perhaps a small change is in order.

You don’t have to revamp your life, just be open to change.  If the change is uncomfortable, keep in mind that it’s helping you move forward.  If you feel like you’re losing something, keep in mind that something greater is coming your way.

Be a light to your world today!

License: <a href=”https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.0/”>(license)</a&gt;

Facing Your Fears

Fear is an incredibly powerful elementary emotion.  When we’re afraid of something or someone, it’s because we feel threatened and vulnerable.  It’s a strong survival instinct, but sometimes it’s difficult to understand why it’s triggered in the first place.

The key to identifying fear is avoidance.  If I’m avoiding something (person, place, phone call, task, etc.), I’m running away from something that I fear.  Avoidance is the smoke of the fire of fear.

Recently, I realized that I was fearful of giving too much of myself in certain areas of my life because I was afraid of heading into another burnout.  This burnout happened almost 9 years ago.  After all this time, I felt the need to be calculative in how much I was doing for others and worried so much about over-exerting myself.  Sadly, this took a toll on my energy and motivation levels, and in my ability to enjoy life.  During these last 9 years, I’ve been faced with many challenges that threatened to demand too much of me, so the fear was sadly reinforced for a good number of those years.

To my surprise, I found myself having more drive and more energy after making the effort to give myself more generously.  I realized that avoiding was far more exhausting than facing my fears.  Of course, I’m in no way saying that we should disregard our fears.  Some of these are healthy and necessary for our survival.  Rather, whenever we notice ourselves avoiding something or someone that doesn’t threaten our well-being, we need to ask ourselves why we do so and what it says about us.

Hope this reflection helps you challenge your irrational fears.

Be a light to your world!

Chin Up

As this new year begins, we are given the opportunity for a fresh start and a better year.  Perhaps 2014 was a good year for you, or perhaps it was laden with challenges.  Either way, 2015 is a brand new year.  If last year was great, remember what made it great and carry on.  If it sucked, then learn from it and move on.  This is the time for a fresh start.  Accept that there are things you can’t change and let them go.  Focus your energy on what you have control over.  Just as it takes thousands a footsteps to conquer a mountain, so too it takes many constructive steps to overcome life’s challenges.  Resolve today to hold your head high.  Work hard and work smart, and 2015 will be a better year for you!

Be a light to your world today!

Speak Up!

Recently, I was discussing with a client the importance of speaking up.  It is not uncommon for many of us to bite our tongue instead of speaking our mind, for fear of hurting feelings or some other reason.  It’s much easier to express positive emotions, but do I allow myself to speak up when I’m feeling scared, angry, or sad?  I’ll be the first to admit that I’ve become accustomed to keeping all of those bottled up inside (a habit that I am working hard at changing).  Part of that has to do with my past of being bullied.  Victims of bullying are often intimidated into keeping silent of the abuse, which prevents their fear, anger, and sadness from getting out.  This, I’d say, is the root cause of my bottling up.  For others, those feelings may be perceived as negative and evil due to their culture or upbringing.  We each have our own reasons for not speaking up.

Though the desire not to hurt someone comes from a good heart, it’s important not to let it blind us to the fact that the painful truth sometimes needs to be heard.  Whether it’s to report a bully’s abuse at work or at school, or to tell your partner/spouse how you feel about something that was said, or whatever else you may be struggling with saying, your dilemma may stem from emotions getting in the way of doing the right thing.  Keep in mind that you have a right to make yourself heard.  Your loved ones need to know how their words and actions are affecting you.  The bully needs to be held accountable for his abuse… he has no right to belittle you or make you suffer.

Anger is an emotion telling us that we feel like we suffered injustice.  Sadness tells us that we lost something dear to us.  Fear tells us that we are being threatened.  These emotions are not negative.  They’re telling us something.  Next time you feel any of these, acknowledge them and speak up!

Be a light to your world today!

Echo Bullying

Imagine yourself in a large room with a few other people.  You look around at the wide space and the high ceiling and someone lets out a “hoo!”.  Every second or so, those same words resound back at you.  Bullying has similar effects.  People will direct hurtful comments or behaviours at you, and then you walk away and think nothing more of it or you may repress the memory of it.  Truth be told, if you don’t get any reconciliation or some kind of closure from it, especially if it was more than a single incident, the memory of it can come to haunt you long after the abuse itself ended… by your own hands.  That’s what I call echo bullying.

If you want to know if this applies to you, take notice of how you treat yourself.  Do you treat yourself with compassion or with disdain?  If you tend to be overly critical and hard on yourself, you’re likely repeating the destructive messages that were directed at you, though perhaps not in the same words.  If you always put everyone’s needs before your own, then there may be an underlying feeling that your well-being is not as important as others (here I’m talking about being a doormat for others, rather than being selfless and generous).  This exercise is what lead me to the realization of what kind of impact my past of being bullied had on me.  Since then, I’ve made changes in my behaviour towards myself and others.  As a result, I’ve found new energy and a new appreciation for life that was taken from me while under the bullies’ abuse.

Fight for Your Dreams

In my last two posts, I wrote about changing the world and working smart.  In my life and faith journeys, I have learned another very important life lesson: fight for your dreams.  I found it easy to settle for what’s comfortable and readily accessible, but that doesn’t fulfill your dreams.  Dreams are beautiful and ambitious, sometimes an unrealistic fantasy.  Out of all our dreams that are realistic, how many of these have we attained?  How many of these are we still fighting for?  How many have we given up on?  I spent many days asking God why I could never finally settle with a stable job and a comfortable income.  It seems like every time I got comfortable, something would pull the rug from under my feet.  I honestly lost count of how many times this happened since I left the seminary 10 years ago.  Truth is, I understand today that those moments of comfort were but a rest area on the highway to God’s plan for me.  Looking back, I see that every setback lead to something better, helped me to learn to trust Him more deeply.  Through all of this, I understood that if I am to fulfill my life’s purpose, I can’t settle for comfort or a mediocre life.  These will hold me back.  I have to fight.  I have to push the boundaries.  I have to get out of my comfort zone and brave unchartered territory.

Be a light to those around you today!