Please don’t kill yourself. Life is precious. You are important to me. I cannot begin to understand the pain that you must be going through. But maybe I could or someone else could. Maybe there are better days ahead for you. Maybe this pain is only temporary.
How can I help? What can I do? Do you need a shoulder for crying or an ear for listening? I have two of each. If you go through with this without saying anything, I’ll wonder about the things that I could have done. Please let me be a friend to you for years to come.
This letter is written to no one in particular. It is a blanket statement of my desire to help those that I care about. I would never want a friend to pass thinking they were alone. You’re not alone unless you choose to be.
In an age of rounded corners and medals for everyone, it seems as though we are aiming to make this a “No Problems World”. If no one gets hurt and no one gets disappointed then we have no problems. This approach seems to be creating an even bigger problem. Young people who cannot cope with problems and expect that there should be none.
A problem-free life is a fantasy that could never exist. So if we cannot eliminate problems, we should individually aim to have better problems. The only way to get a better class of problem is to solve the ones that you already have. That may be challenging but it is the only way to develop the muscle needed for that next class of problem.
A challenge, isn’t that what a problem truly is anyway? People hate problems but they love a challenge. Taking on challenges and finding both failure and success along the way is called living.
For many years now, I’ve not been a fan of the NBA. Ever since Larry Bird retired, most of the teams seem to be completely reliant on the individual talent rather than the collective. The one evidence I see of team recognition is the alley-oop. Two players that recognize an opportunity at the same time and one sets the other up. The play requires three things: favorable circumstances, recognition of opportunity and decisive action.
In our own lives, success requires similar ingredients. However there usually aren’t seven foot tall defenders in our way. Most of the time, we are the only ones playing defense against ourselves. The world doesn’t stand in our way for many of the things that we want. The key is that we need to set ourselves up or enlist teammates to help set us up.
Take stock of the goals that you have and set up systems to make yourself successful. If your goal is to get in shape, put alarms on your phone and lay out your workout clothes the night before. Be sure not to overwhelm yourself by doing too much at once. Add a new aspect to your life no more than every two weeks. Drastic changes tend to create a recipe for failure because as soon as we drop one ball, we tend to let the others fall. Habits become automatic if we practice them enough. The habit of going to the gym can be built with the very simple action of showing up and doing simple things for 30 minutes. Once the habit of going to the gym is ingrained, adding more to the workouts is much easier.
Set yourself up for success, not failure. You’re only human. So keep it simple to start and then get more complex. Find or create favorable circumstances, recognize your opportunity and take decisive action. Even you won’t be able to stop yourself!
Is it worth the time?
Is it worth the effort?
Is it worth the embarrassment?
Is it worth risking failure?
Is it worth the cost?
Is it worth the possible laughter?
These and a hundred other questions can swirl around our heads when we are about to do anything. There is an underlying calculation of value to the experience versus some other consequence. The experiences and the consequences are variables in this equation but there is a constant that needs considering, you.
No matter what it is that you are considering, YOU ARE WORTH IT. So the only thing that truly needs to be considered is whatever it is, is it worth it to you? If so, then do it regardless of the variable consequences.
Most people remember the date, July 4th 1776. It marked the day that the United States declared its independence from Great Britain. A lesser known date is June 15th 1775 when George Washington was appointed Commander in Chief of the Continental Army. It was at this time that George Washington signed his contract containing the “Statue Equation”. If the quest for independence was successful, Washington was promised at least one statue in each major city, the eventual capital to be named for him and a monument within that future capital. Since the colonial leadership had their eyes on expansion, he also negotiated an option for a future state to be named for him. Hopefully at this point, you’ve recognized the ridiculousness of the prior three sentences. They are completely untrue.
While I’m sure that Washington and others had some selfish reasons for fighting the Revolutionary War, I doubt that statues and monuments were among them. The ideals of freedom and self determination were most likely more relevant than the fame that would come from victory. It is a relatively simple equation that in the past we revered those who acted with a higher purpose than themselves. Today people are revered simply because they are willing to make a spectacle of themselves in the media.
I do not believe that people are inherently foolish but there is a “shell game” that has been played on us or we’ve played on ourselves. Fame used to be a byproduct of being exceptional at something. The desired result was being exceptional in a particular area, now the desired result is being famous. Getting on TV or one million likes on Facebook or Youtube. When do we stop fooling ourselves that this is what life is truly about?
The key component to being a human being is acting in the interest of a cause bigger than yourself. Acting in the interest of making yourself bigger than other seems to only make people smaller.
This past weekend, the family and I took a trip down to Philadelphia to meet up with my best friend and his family. It was a great opportunity to catch up and for our kids to spend some time together. I’m also training for a ten mile race in a few weeks and needed to do a six mile run. Luckily our hotel was almost exactly three miles from the “Rocky Steps”, one of my favorite running destinations. It was a perfect scenario for me to enjoy myself and get in work that needed to be done.
The problem arose at 6:30 am on Saturday morning. I woke up ready to run and realized that I had forgotten my running pants and shorts at home. I had two choices: go back to bed or wear my Iron Man pajama pants on the six mile run. I chose the latter. They were warm enough and have pockets to carry my iPhone. The only negative was my appearance.
Far too often our appearance to others dictates our behaviors. I am not saying that appearances do not matter at all. However there is a calculation that needs to be done to decide when it should matter. In this situation, my long term goal of the ten mile run was far more important than the short term appearance. Did I feel foolish? Not for one second! I knew what I was doing and why I was doing it. The opinions of strangers that passed by did not matter because they are judging me on only one metric. I must judge myself on many others.
Defining ourselves completely by the opinions of others is a losing game. The odds of pleasing others 100% of the time are so minuscule that is bound to lead to disappointment. Define yourself in your own terms and decide when the opinions of others matter or not.
This morning on my way to the gym, I was delayed for about two minutes. Along my route, I was stopped because a person was backing out of their driveway or at least trying to. This person had decided that the ten minutes that it would take to shovel their driveway was too much time to invest. So they tried hit the gas and muscle their way through the eight or more inches of snow in their driveway. I had to stop because although it looked hopeless, if they broke through as I was passing their problem could become my problem.
It’s not an uncommon story. In fact it is one that I have lived out myself many times. We become too lazy or indifferent to do things as we know they should be done. Then we spend longer trying to fix the mess that we’ve made from short cut. Are the shortcuts ever really worth it?
At this point, depending on your gender, the title caught your attention for very different reasons. However if you are reading, then that only serves to back up my point. Your life and anyone else’s life is dominated by T&A. Probably not the T&A that you have in mind at the moment but rather Thoughts and Actions.
Our thoughts are the pictures and words inside of our heads that cause emotion. They are the citizens of our first world. The world that we create for ourselves. Some of us are effective architects who take great care in the thoughts that are created in our minds. Other allow any garbage that is brought in through the senses to penetrate and take root. Our thoughts are the first half of the equation that creates our life.
The other is our actions. Those things that we do in the physical world. Our actions are the reality that we share with others. Hopefully our actions are based in some part on thought. Often they are a representation of what we did yesterday and the day before. Regardless the actions that we take are the life that we lead.
The combination of your T&A are the sum total of who you are as a person. Are you proud of your T&A? Do they need some changes? The only way to change yourself is to change your thoughts, your actions or both. Spend some time paying attention to your T&A.