I attended a graduation exercise of my granddaughter this past Sunday. My heart felt a little bit of a tug—a feeling of dread at the fact that she is so rapidly growing up and away. She is no longer that helpless little baby girl that I once held in my arms while making silly faces and noises.
What seemed a little crazy about the feeling I was having—that feeling of dread—had to do with the fact that this graduation was not from college or high school. It wasn’t even from middle school or primary school. It was from preschool. She’s five years old.
And yet, as silly as it sounds, I got the sense that all those other events were mere moments away. This moment felt a little bit like it was the “beginning of the end.”
Though I may have felt a little bit of that when my boys were small I don’t recall it. And, in fact I remember wanting them to hurry up and get big enough to play catch with me in the yard and on teams at school. But now that I’ve watched that come and go so very quickly, I have a better appreciation for the rapidity with which that passes.
So, though I always want my loved ones to be moving onward and upward, it will probably always be with mixed emotions that I watch them reach their milestones. Of course, in reality, I wouldn’t have it any other way. There are no good alternatives–nothing even close.
With that in mind, I know I need to enjoy each moment with the special people in my life, just for the moment itself. I must savor each precious second because, they are so very fleeting.
This is the day that the Lord has made; let us rejoice and be glad in it. Ps 118:24
One doesn’t’ have to look far to find reasons to be discouraged. Each of us could list a dozen or more reasons to feel down. Between illnesses, deaths, financial struggles, relationship problems, wars, crime, politics, drugs, vehicle breakdowns, problems at work and the like there sure is a lot of bad news out there.
These “downers” don’t have to get us down, however. With proactive prevention strategies we can avoid the pit and stay on a positive course. Here are some things I do to stay in an upbeat frame of mind. Using these, I seldom get discouraged. They will work for you as well.
With all the technical gadgets available for playing music today the sky is the limit. Whether I listen to my smartphone, mp3 player or youtube I can always find my favorites.
In fact, Youtube has available just about every song that was ever recorded. It’s amazing. Whether it’s Celine Dion and Anrea Bocelli singing The Prayer (http://bit.ly/13hDBis), or Jackie Evancho singing “O Holy Night” (http://bit.ly/VRT9UI), or Carrie Underwood singing “How Great Thou Art.” (http://bit.ly/11eqfoz), my spirit can always be lifted up.
My heart tingles every time I listen to these songs. If you haven’t heard these specific versions of these songs by these specific artists, you are missing out. Go there now and be inspired.
These are stories about underdogs overcoming huge obstacles. Two that I’ve listened to dozens of times on Youtube are Susan Boyle (http://bit.ly/TKdZaX) and Jonathan & Charlotte (http://bit.ly/Wsuw0f). It’s almost impossible for me to only watch them only one time in a sitting. They restore my hope.
With my subscription to audible.com I can download the books onto my smartphone or mp3 player and listen to them as I workout or travel. I’ve just finished listening to an excellent book by David Allen called “Getting Things Done.” It is about getting organized.
This was my sixth time to listen to it in the past two years. Each time, it inspires me to take proactive steps to become more efficient and effective. I always come back inspired.
If you don’t want to pay for a service, you can download sermons or talks from the internet. I sometimes listen to podcasts from Rick Atchley at “The Hills” church (http://bit.ly/VOvEww). These presentations are also available in video format at that site. There are thousands of other podcasts available from other speakers that can be accessed with a little internet searching. There is something for every taste and need.
I also have a Bible application on my smart phone which will let me read or listen to the Bible as I travel or workout. It has several pre-programmed options for me to choose from—like a daily schedule to get the Bible read in a year. It is a free application which can be downloaded from www.youversion.com. It works on a smartphone, computer or tablet. It’s a great resource for hearing God’s word on a regular basis.
These deepen my knowledge and broaden my thinking. As a writer I subscribe to Jeff Goins (http://bit.ly/TKh2Qp) and Michael Hyatt (http://bit.ly/XLBHr3) as well as about ten or more other sites covering anything from leadership to inspiration to technology development. These provide me with a lot of reading material that keep me focused, growing and inspired. An inspired and focused mind seldom gets discouraged.
There are dozens more posted on my bulletin board along with pictures of my grandkids and others. These pictures are important reminders of what matters to me and why I should work toward making this world a better place–to make a difference.
Life is so full of obstacles that can bring us down. But it is also full of things that can inspire and encourage us in spite of the obstacles. The good thing about it is that we get to choose where we place our focus. I choose to focus on positive, uplifting, inspiring things that keep me going strong. As I’ve said before, “My being discouraged does not do anything about making the world a better place.”
Perhaps you have some additional ways to overcome discouragement. Please share those ideas for the benefit of us all by commenting below. May God bless you as you make a difference in the lives you cross today! Dennis
Philippians 4:8 (NIV)
8 Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable–if anything is excellent or praiseworthy–think about such things.
I’ve experienced somewhat of an epiphany over the past few months. Several events and a few light-bulb moments have contributed to it. I must say, it’s been liberating. My acute awareness of this epiphany came into focus this morning because of a request I received from a friend. That request was to put together a short paragraph about my New Year’s wish for our readers.
Of course I wish the very best for our readers. I wish the very best for the entire world. But in wishing, I feel much like the moderator on a singing competition who says to the two finalists “Good luck to both of you,” when he knows he’s about to send one packing. That wish, though probably genuine in a one-inch-deep sort of way, is probably worth exactly what it cost—one shallow breath and two seconds of time.
In clearly analytical terms, I expect the coming year and in fact the next several years to be very difficult. I’m convinced that, for the most part, our country is heading in the wrong direction. We are in a downward spiral and in a hole that would be very difficult to get out of if we were doing the right things to correct the situation. But we are not doing the right things—not even close. In fact we are doing the opposite, which just keeps making the hole deeper.
So what do I say to our readers? Do I wish them the best and go on my merry way, knowing they are about to get run over by a steam-roller? I don’t think so.
For most of my life the current state of our world would have really frustrated me—maybe even depressed me. But, because of this epiphany, I don’t feel frustrated and I don’t feel depressed. In fact my current expectation is that this coming year will be the best year of my life—not because of the way things are, but in spite of them. And this expectation is not based upon a suspension of reality, but upon the adoption of a better—more relevant—reality. It is based upon the following five decisions I’ve made:
Because of these five choices, I have no doubt that 2013 will be my best year ever. There is no other possible outcome. And so for you my readers, I wish for you as well, the best year of your life. I wish for you to be empowered to be all that God has for you to be—to make a positive difference in the lives you touch. May God’s blessings be upon us all.
Unless you’ve been on a different planet for the past few days, you’ve heard a great deal about the tragic shootings in Connecticut. These shootings have caused the death of so many innocent children, just babies really, and those who were caring for them. Of course these are only the tip of the iceberg when it comes to the number of tragedies our world experiences daily. It’s just that things like this school shooting are so sensational we here more about it. There have been so many lives altered forever by this and other unfortunate situations.
These events are graphically stark reminders about just how badly this world is messed up. It is so broken. During times like these, because of the heavy weight it places on our hearts, it is easy to get discouraged, and even depressed as we take in all the negative information that’s coming out. So, how do we cope with it all? Just how are we supposed to be joyful in times like these? It’s a good question. Here are three strategies I recommend to help you deal with life during less than stellar times.
This broken world will always be trying to bring us down. It is up to each of us, individually, to make the good choices that will lead us to a better, more effective place. Only in this way will we be able to bring strength, peace and comfort to those who are hurting the most.
I would love to hear from you about what other suggestions you may have for coping during these difficult times. Please comment below. Den
“Frustration is the result of expectation.” I’ve had that saying posted on my bulletin board for about twenty years now–because it’s true. I didn’t know my youngest son, now 33, had been absorbing it all those years until he told me that “It’s true,” and that he had been trying to convince a friend of the fact—multiple times.
Another individual, a friend of mine, didn’t much like the saying. He thought it was a little too pessimistic. When he was sitting across the desk from me, I quickly grabbed a post-it note and scrawled “Expect Nothing!” on the surface and posted it where my friend could easily see it. He wasn’t expecting that—sooo. . . I guess he’s making progress? Kudos to him.
Though at first it appears to be a negative approach, I believe it is, in reality, a realistic approach. And being realistic is a good thing, right? Self delusion is the bad thing. Plus, if you expect nothing, you will not be disappointed, frustrated, let down or any of those depressing things. You could live a happy life.
Someone might say, “Sorry,” to which you could say, “Don’t worry about it. I wasn’t expecting anything anyway.” It releases you from the burden of expectation.
Some say that people rise to the level of expectation–that they are more likely to accomplish a lot if you expect a lot. There is some truth to that, I imagine. But I also know that you are sure setting yourself up for disappointment and frustration if you do it that way. So maybe the best course is to project high expectations on someone, externally, while internally having little or no expectations. Then you win both ways.
What do you think? Let me know with a comment below. Seriously!
Thanks in advance! (though I don’t really expect you to comment. If I did and you didn’t, then you know what I would be.) Comment below!
Life’s daily struggles can overwhelm us if we aren’t prepared to take them on. But it doesn’t have to be that way. We can be bigger than the things that overwhelm us. I’ve tried to use four keys of understanding to keep my life moving forward in difficult times.
I consider my problems in comparison to those being experienced by others in the world. For example, at this very moment, all over the world, children are spending their days toiling away in nasty, varmint-infested landfills, searching for anything which can be recycled (including scraps of food and drink). You can watch videos (http://nextstarfish.com/?p=8315) where people gather around garbage trucks in the same way that American shoppers gather around sales bins on “Black Friday,” hoping to find that special treasure. When I think about the causes of my frustrations, they pale in comparison to what others face.
We, as human beings, can withstand immeasurably much greater difficulties than we can even imagine. As I see and read about what the Jews went through during the holocaust, it is mind boggling. If they could endure that, I can endure my struggles.
M. Scott Peck’s book, The Road Less Traveled, begins by saying “Life is difficult.” In the book he makes the point that, if we expect our life to be easy, we are kidding ourselves. We will be easily frustrated. But if we expect life to be hard, obstacles lose their power over us, because we knew they were going to be hard. We were ready. We have the power to work through difficult times without frustration. I want us to use that power whenever it’s needed.
If I have a project or goal in mind–something I truly want to accomplish–it naturally energizes me. Before I know it I may find myself eagerly working on it at 5:00 in the morning. I may be working on it again until late in the night. Projects energize us and help us break through barriers. A clear sense of purpose makes us unstoppable.
I’ve recently come to a proactive decision that I’m just going to work through whatever comes my way. I know that God has a purpose for me and whatever comes my way will help prepare me for what he has in mind. May God bless you as your take on the day.
Copyright 2012, Dennis Ensor, all rights reserved.
To acquire knowledge one must study. To acquire wisdom one must observe. Marilyn Vos Savant