Finding Fulfillment Where I Am

There have been many times in my life where I don’t seem to have any desires.  I’ve often mistaken this contentment for laziness or lack of direction.  We live in a society where we’re made to feel like we should always have goals to work toward.  If we’re not getting a promotion at work or trying to get to the next financial level then we’re made to feel bad about ourselves.

I do enjoy having a goal to work toward, but I have been asking myself lately, “what if I’ve already found what I’m looking for and don’t realize it?”  Alan Watts asked the question, “What is it that you want?”  When I ask myself this question, I have to honestly say, “I don’t know.”  Watts’ answer to this is that either I already have it or I don’t know myself.  This really resonates with me.

Four years ago I came to a realization that I don’t know anything.  I started to think, at 14 I thought I knew everything, then at 24 I thought I knew everything, but now, at 34 I don’t know anything.  I haven’t got the world or myself figured out.  At 38 I realize that I probably never will have that figured out.  So Alan Watts was right, I don’t know myself.  He went on to say that you can never really know yourself.

The funny thing is, I think both of his answer apply to me.  I think I already have what I want.  I have a wife who I love more than I ever imagined I could, three beautiful girls who I love, who make me happy and who I am incredibly proud of.  I have a home that I really like.  I couldn’t be happier with my career path.

I may not have things figured out but I seem to have what I want out of life.  So why struggle to obtain what I already have?

Be well. Be Positive.

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What’s Wrong In Self-Help and Law of Attraction

I have been thinking a lot about self-help and most notably the infamous “Law of Attraction”.  As a firm believer of the concept of creating your reality, I think the Law of Attraction has been sold to us as snake out.  And before you start telling me how I’m wrong, let me explain.

I know people who have money under the glass of glass top tables.  They tell me that having the money there will create a mindset in them to attract more money.  This may not be entirely untrue, however, when someone stares at money all day hoping that it’ll just start flowing in, then we have a problem.  I’ve watched videos where there is an overweight, middle-aged man in a cheap suit telling a group of friends that they need to put together a vision board and think about money 24 hours a day.  Nothing against middle-aged guys in cheap suits, I’m 38 and don’t even own a suit but clearly these guys with folding chairs set up in their garage with a cheap chalk board aren’t really manifesting abundance at an alarming rate.

Alan Watts used to propose the question to college students, “What would you like to do if money were no object?”  This would be an incredible question by itself but Watts goes one step deeper by asking “How would you really enjoy spending your life?”  Ok, mind blown until panic sets in.  There are people who actually do what they enjoy doing and don’t worry about the money.  Many end up making the money later.  Ok, so stay with me a moment while I talk about myself.

In 2002 I moved to Florida to study Film and Video production.  I had some of my best friends in life laugh at me and say “What do you think you’re going to do with that education?”.  I wasn’t completely sure.  I knew I loved writing and creating things but I also just like pushing buttons and using expensive equipment.  There’s also a part of me who likes being part of something that millions of people see and enjoy on a daily basis…. entertainment.  I moved, worked very hard in school and started working in television after graduation.  I couldn’t be happier with my choice.  I don’t make a large amount of money doing it.  I sometimes have to borrow money from my parents for things but eventually they get paid back.  I recently decided against pursuing a promotion that would take me in a direction that doesn’t suit me.  After telling my boss that I had decided against taking this position I felt liberated.

I know so many people who feel stuck in their jobs.  I say to them, “but you make so much money!”  They still aren’t happy.  They feel as if they aren’t doing what they love.  I have other friends who are doing what they love and do make plenty of money.  I’m not poor, don’t get me wrong.  The most important thing, however, is that I’m happy.  I spend quality time with my family and they are happy.  Why do I need anything else besides happiness?

So the problem seems to be that many self-help and Law of Attraction teachers are selling you on the idea of material object that cannot make you happy instead of selling you on the idea of happiness first. I will say, however, that most of them do teach gratitude for what you already have.  This is a power mindset which can lead to happiness.

So, if you are not happy with your situation in life, stop pursuing money.  Start pursuing happiness.

Be well. Be positive.

PS – Here is a link to a video where Alan Watts talks about this.

Simple Ways To Spread Happiness

Happiness isn’t something you should keep to yourself.  Happiness should be shared.  In fact, most of the time happiness comes from shared experiences. Happiness doesn’t have to come from big extravagant experiences like concerts or vacations, it can come from very small and simple experiences.  The great thing about spreading happiness, even randomly or anonymously is that you share in that happiness.  It comes back to you as well.  Let’s take a look at some of my favorite ways to spread and receive happiness.

Anonymous Texting

Most people have their phone numbers posted on their Facebook profiles.  I’ve found that a lot of people don’t know my number, I’m just not a big phone guy.  So once in a while I’ll look through my phone book, which pulls numbers from Facebook, and text someone and tell them how awesome they are.  I usually get a response like “who is this?” or they’ll politely say “I’m sorry, I don’t have your number saved.”  I’ll respond and say like “just a random admirer spreading joy!”  Often times, as a result, people will post something on Facebook about the kind person who randomly texted them and told them how awesome they are.  In turn, others will reply stating that they took think they’re awesome or how cool it is that someone took the time to do that.  The happiness keeps spreading.  Even if you’re not anonymous, a quick text telling your friends how much you appreciate them is a great way to spread joy.

Some of my favorite texts are “You are an amazing person!” or “You really inspired me today.”  A text to a friend could say “I was just thinking about you, I hope you’re having a great day.”  Keep it simple.

Random Notes

Leaving a random note in public where it’ll be found is a great way to spread happiness.  I remember years ago helping a friend distribute 20 Christmas cards with $20 bills in each one.  One of the cards had $50 and I delivered it to his favorite waitress at a local restaurant for him.  That was an amazing experience that made me feel happy and blessed from for weeks.

You don’t have to go to those extremes.  Most people don’t have that much money to just hand out.  You don’t even have to hand out money.  Writing a little note that says “You really are special” or “This stranger thinks you’re awesome” is a great way to spread joy.  Just leave the note somewhere in public where it will be found.  I like to leave notes for people at work.  We have an area where there are mailboxes for every employee in the company.  Some of the staff that supports my department could easily feel unappreciated, overworked and most likely under paid.  A quick note thanking them for everything they do for us is a great way to put a smile on someone’s face.  I work with a girl who is one of the kindest, sweetest people you will ever meet.  Once in a while, a guy I work with will leave a note or a trinket on her desk just to make her day that much better.  He likes to be her secret admirer because, after all, she bakes us cookies and is always so kind.

Give Away Freebies

I have a Starbucks gold card.  Every 12th beverage I buy I earn a free beverage.  The thing is, all of my drinks are free anyway.  I use Bing search to earn points to buy Starbucks coffee.  I order small black coffee so it’s inexpensive and I try to only buy when I can earn bonus stars. Every drink is free to me so that free drink I get is one I can pass along.  Going inside and telling the Batista that you’d like to use your free drink on the next person who comes through the drive through is a great way to share that happiness with someone.  Not only are you making their day but you can stand inside and watch them without being noticed.

Passing along coupons for free items while standing in line for something is another great way to spread happiness.  People are always happy to not have to spend money on something they thought they would have to spend money on.

Giving To The Homeless

I like to keep money on me just for giving.  I used to give a dollar or some change to homeless people and they would thank me.  When I started giving $5 to homeless people it was amazing to see their eyes light up.  Most homeless people expect a dollar.  They appreciate it, I’m sure, but it’s normal and nothing shocking to see another dollar handed to them.  I like to hit people in their heart and make them feel something.  The opportunity to give doesn’t present itself very often so I try to just keep some money on hand for such an occasion.   It just makes people feel like someone cares about them.  I usually say something like “I’m really sorry, this is all I have.”  Trust me, I wish I could give them enough to get their lives back on track.  A lot of homeless people will try to strike up a small conversation with you when you hand them enough to buy a meal.  They look like they feel human again.  To me, this is the real gift.

Happiness can be spread in so many unique and creative ways.  My wife spreads happiness like it’s an art.  I’m always so impressed to see how she always makes people feel good about themselves.  She does things that most people don’t even notice and I consider myself lucky to be able to witness it all.

This year has been a struggle to find sanity.  Probably the biggest factor for my happiness right now is the fact that I helped others find happiness.  Happiness spreads and that joy that you give other people comes back to you in ways you may not realize.  I just got a Halloween card in the mail from someone.  I’ve never received a Halloween card in my life.  But I have a friend who I value and I’ve told her many times this year how much I value her.  Let those in your life know how much you care about them.

Be well.  Be positive.

How To Create Anxiety Out Of Thin Air

As I start to separate myself from the things that caused me stress and anxiety, I start to notice the ways in which I would create my problems out of thin air.  Yes, I would make them magically appear!  I see a lot of my friends doing the same thing.  Please don’t feel like I feel as if I’m better than anyone because I’m not.  I love my friends and know that each and every one of them is a good person.  Why else would I be friends with them?  But even the best, most positive people I know, including myself, seem to create these problems of anxiety in our lives.

Earlier this week, one of my most happy and positive friends was saying in a very uncharacteristic way that she’d wished she had it in her to say something snotty to the woman that she held a door for who didn’t say thank you to her.  Now, this is a friend who has helped some of my friends and family members financially when they were falling on hard times and it made her happier than you’ve ever seen anyone.  She loves to give and loves to help out.  Maybe she was just having a bad day but that negative thought it the type of thing that always caused me anxiety.  The feeling that someone owes me something.  If you choose to do something nice for someone, stay positive no matter what their reaction is.  It will bless you in ways you never realized.  If they can’t be thankful that you gave, then be thankful that you had the opportunity to give.  Many times it’ll dawn on people later what you did for them.  That kind of thing comes back to you in the form of karma.  Relax, accept the blessing as it is and enjoy the experience.

Sometimes there are reason that people fall in to these traps.  I have a friend who runs a charity that gives families school supplies, Thanksgiving dinners and Christmas presents. She’s donated to my charitable efforts as well.  It takes an extraordinary person to start and then maintain such a business when she, herself, has trouble making ends meet.  Last week I saw her complaining about someone she had donated to.  It was very passive aggressive, it was on social media and she knew that person would be reading.  This person had accepted a donation from her and then taken pictures of herself shopping at a high end clothing store.  It struck me as very uncharacteristic of my friend to complain in this manner.

I’ve seen this a lot lately.  Someone will help someone else out and then claim ownership of that person and criticize everything they do.  I was hurt by this post because I have worked to help this charity and I feel giving should be something you do joyfully.  The next day, my friend posted something on social media that may have explained her actions.  Her mom was in the hospital for the third time in two weeks, her son was in the hospital having his tonsils out and her husband was having some medical problems.  She was clearly in a bad place but compounded her stress by letting someone else’s actions affect her.

This is how I used to create anxiety when I had no other reason to be anxious. I’m in no way calling my friends out.  We all have bad days, even the most positive of people.  Their experiences have taught me lessons that I can now take with me.  Observe your friends and see what’s bothering them.  How do you relate to this?  How can their experienced, combined with your’s help you become a better person?

Be well. Be positive.

Lightening My Mental Load Online

My computer was in for service again and that’s why I haven’t posted in a while.  Over the past couple of years I’ve had a lot of bad luck with computers.  Hopefully, with the replacement of pretty much everything inside of this one, my troubles are behind me.

I’ve been trying to evaluate what causes me stress and anxiety.  A lot of it is things that shouldn’t bother me, things that most people do on a daily basis like talking on the phone or grocery shopping.  One thing that I get a little too emotionally involved in is politics.  For me, politics is a lot like college football for other people.  I wave my little flag and cheer for my favorite players.  For some, however, it’s a great source of anger.

This past year, and even going back to the last presidential election, I’ve lost a few friends who took many of the things I said personally.  If I supported a conservative who wasn’t in favor of, say, minimum wage increases, then they “can’t even begin to understand” why I would support him.  Even if I tried to explain it was related to something else.

My friends are very important to me.  Maybe I hang on to them too hard.  I get very sad when I find that a close friend is avoiding me.  Whether it be in person or on Facebook, it really affects me.  I’ve had friends for 20 years who suddenly unfriend me on Facebook and wont speak to me in real life because of some politician.  I decided it wasn’t worth it anymore.

It wasn’t an easy task but I have gotten rid of all politics on social media (Facebook, Twitter, Google plus…).  I’ve also unsubscribed to all politics related emails.  I went a step further.  Facebook has a neat feature where, if your friend posts something, instead of hiding all of their posts, you can hide things from where they linked it from.  I’ve hid all the major cable news sources from my Facebook feed so when my friends post links from these sites, I wont see it.

Then I got to thinking about Facebook’s algorithm.  Facebook doesn’t show you everything your friends post.  It tries to decide what you want to see.  In the past I would “like” or comment on news articles and it seemed my whole feel was nothing but links to stories about politics.  And there’s nothing positive that comes out of any of those stories.  On a side note, there’s a local TV station that posts everyday asking “What’s bugging you today?” but they never ask what good is happening.  I digress…

I started to seek out posts when my friends were simply talking about what they were doing or pictures that they had taken themselves.  I started to like or comment on them.  After about 6 hours of this, a lot more “text only” posts were popping up.  I would like and comment them as well and by day two I had gotten rid of all the negative news links!

I’ve also stopped commenting on anything news or politics related that my friends post.  I’ve stopped watching cable news on my lunch breaks at work and I’ve stopped following local news other than weather.  This has definitely lightened my mental load and I honestly don’t think I could have handled it.

It has been about two weeks now and I honestly feel like I’m starting to see more positive in the world.  Only time will tell how much more positive I’ll see it.

Be well.  Be positive.

Love In Abundance

Love.

Have you ever stopped to think about the terms “fell IN love” and “fell OUT of love”?  I’m starting to wonder if these terms describe real things.  Do we suddenly gain or lose love or was that love there all along?  Scientifically, we could describe the feeling of love as a chemical event in the brain.  But why does that happen?  There has to be some sort of spiritual force behind the whole thing.  Perhaps it comes from our spiritual side.

I don’t mean to be too new age or hippie sounding.  I just wonder if maybe we should rethink this whole concept of love as we understand it.  How much love do you have right now?  Is your love tank full?  Does it ever go empty or maybe it starts to run low like your gas tank in your car or your energy levels?

If I’m truthful with myself and start to look back in my life, I don’t think there has ever been a time when I’ve said “gee, I’m kind of at my love limit at the moment so I’ll have to love you tomorrow.”  Never!  As much as I love, I ALWAYS have room to love something else.  I can love every strand of hair on my head, every grain of sand on the beach (seriously, I do!), every beautiful bloom on every flower I pass in a given day, every tree with every leaf on it and STILL I have room to love everyone I see, hear about, think about, encounter….

There is no end to the amount of love that you have.  I don’t know where we put it all but start giving out love and you’ll only find that you have more to give.  You have an unlimited supply of love!

Be well.  Be positive.

When We Work Best Together

Over the weekend, Malaysian Airlines flight 370 disappeared over the ocean between Malaysia and Vietnam.  Since then, several countries have come together to search for clues as to where this plane may have gone.

Seeing this got me thinking.  In 2001 there was another tragedy in New York where thousands of people came together to find people who were buried in the aftermath.  The same is true of the Haitian earthquake in 2010 or the tsunami in Japan in 2011.  In fact, whether it is a national disaster or a car accident, people come together to help each other out.

This does not seem to be true when things are going well.  Why is this?  In fact, when things are going well for a person or city and there is someone like a homeless person in need, very few help.  When there is a hurricane, we all come together to get the neighborhood up and running again.

In many ways, however, we do help each other.  When I go to work, I am just one sprocket in the machine.  I work with my team to accomplish a goal.  There are also some unwritten rules in society like holding doors for each other.

The fact of all of this is that human life works best when we’re working together.  Human nature, however, seems to dictate that people be selfish and only think of themselves.

If you entered a restaurant and there was no host or wait staff, what would happen?  Many people wouldn’t get sat.  Others would just sit down.  But then you would have to order from the cook themselves.  My guess is that there would be a bottle neck at the kitchen, some people would be angry because they came in first but someone else got their seat.  Having a host to seat you and a waitress to take care of the food order makes the whole experience much better.

I’ve decided to live a life where I work with others.  Giving is a big part of that but there are many other areas.  How about letting cars in to my lane?  Keep the traffic flowing.  Hold the door for people and spread cheer.  I have to keep thinking of more ways but I’m sure I will find them.

By working with life and not against it, I plan on being happier and having less anxiety.

Be well.  Be positive.