Liking It Is Not Living It

We all do it. Most of us multiple times a day. Some say we’re addicted. We probably are. I’m talking about Face Book. Look around the mall, coffee shop, heck even the side walks are jammed with people face planted into their smart phones, engaged in social media. Okay, so I’m not even going to delve into the statistical data and multifaceted arguments about all the physiological erosion taking place. I have a more specific concern.

It’s that Face Book like button I’m worried about. I know, we all wish we had an unlike button many times too, but we don’t. That’s beside the point. Here’s the thing – we troll through our news feeds liking and sharing these cute pictures with these fancy quotes and sayings embedded in them all day long. But are we really paying attention to the words. Many of the ones I post and re-post garner that ever popular comment; Amen, frequently. I know what it means. You really liked it. It struck a nerve with you. It stirred your heart a little. Good. But here’s the thing; Liking it does not mean you’re living it. See, information is not transformation. When you like something someone else posted or quoted, do you ever stop and consider why you liked it? Did it really stir you? What is it that made you say “amen”?

While I often try to offer original thoughts and ideas, I mostly consider myself a curator. I am a collector of thoughts, and ideas, and quotes – verses, proverbs, saying, and such. And I love sifting through them and sharing the ones that mean something to me – or, ones I think will mean something to the followers on my page. But here’s the key; If it moves you, move into it. Inspired action is the only path to authentic, productive change. Otherwise we’re just members of the Amen choir. If something moves you enough to hit the like button and/or re-post it, then also consider why it was so significant.

As an example, I recently posted a photo with this quote by Pablo Picasso, “The meaning of life is to find your gift. The purpose of life is to give it away.” I liked it because I believe it’s true. And because I believe it’s true, I’ve spent a lot of quiet time seeking to understand my purpose. I’ve allowed the idea to transform my life.

If you like that quote, consider why? If it stirs you, don’t ignore it.
Does that make sense?

Unless we are actively pursuing the substance of those thoughts, and verses, and saying, and quotes, and ideas, then all we are really doing is collecting information. If these pieces of revelation don’t inspire us to alter our life in some fashion, we are just wasting our time and our Amens. If you like it, live it. Find a way to incorporate those notions into your journey. Consider rethinking the like it button as your live it button. When you click it, believe you are saying, “I am going to take this idea in to consideration and find a way to incorporate action into my life.” How would your life be different if you lived the likes?

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The Hallway Of Decision

We’ve all heard the statement, “when one door closes, another door opens.” I think one of life’s greatest tragedies is that moment when that door behind us has closed, and we stand at the thresh hold of a new door, afraid to go through. I call that the hallway of decision. Have you ever been there? That new door represents opportunity, possibilities, and advancement; but also the basis for uncertainty, and self doubt, and insecurity. There is this tendency to think we’re safe in that hallway. We can even get comfortable there. We can camp out there for as long as our bank account, or our support system, or the social environment will allow. But it’s a false sense of security. What we think is safe is actually a trap. What was meant to be a bridge becomes an obstacle.

Life is fluid, organic, and unpredictable. When our foundation is altered, we are thrust into the hallway of decision bound for another door. That is how life works. But it’s up to us to progress on through. We are here to be a part of the bigger picture, not live our lives perpetually at the threshold of decision.

Walt Whitman once wrote;
“What good amid these, O me, O life?
Answer.
That you are here—that life exists, and identity;
That the powerful play goes on, and you may contribute a verse.”

Closing and opening doors are part of life’s journey; part of the process of existence. When we allow fear or some other self imposed emotion to keep us stalled in those hallways, we, by default, have taken ourselves out of life. Sure, we move about. But rarely do we stray from the supposed comfort of our little hallway. The “powerful play” of life does go on, with or without us. It is inevitable. We cannot stop the progress of time no more than we can suspend the nature of aging.

Nineteenth century philosopher Rosa Luxemburg wrote, “Those who do not move, do not notice their chains.” Ponder that for a moment. Those who do not move, do not notice their chains. Are there hallways in your life that have been dormant for so long that you don’t even recognize the chains that keep you there?

As I begin to move into my fifth decade of life, ideas like this start to bear more weight. But here’s the hope in all this. You and I hold the keys to the locks that bind those chains. C. S. Lewis wrote, “It may be hard for an egg to turn into a bird: it would be a jolly sight harder for it to learn to fly while remaining an egg. We are like eggs at present. And you cannot go on indefinitely being just an ordinary, decent egg. We must be hatched, or go bad.” Life is the hatching process. The next door might just the one where you get to fly. You’re great verse may be just a door step away. But you’ll never know unless you take a chance and move through it. To take a risk is to risk failure. But to avoid risk is to guarantee failure. Will you take a chance, and take the risk? To stay put offers but one eventual outcome; regret.

Why Wait Til The End?

This world is full of economic, political, social, and global uncertainty. Seems everyone is striving for something, or struggling through something, of laboring to control something. But in the end, does any of it matter? And if not, what does?

Consider this. Bronnie Ware was a palliative care nurse. In her book, The Top Five Regrets of the Dying – A Life Transformed by the Dearly Departing, she wrote, “My patients were those who had gone home to die. I was with them for the last three to twelve weeks of their lives. People grow a lot when they are faced with their own mortality. Each experienced a variety of emotions, as expected, denial, fear, anger, remorse, more denial and eventually acceptance. Every single patient found their peace before they departed though, every one of them.”

Bronnie had the opportunity to ask many of them about any regrets they had or anything they would do differently. “Common themes surfaced again and again,” she said.

Here are the most common five:

1. I wish I’d had the courage to live a life true to myself, not the life others expected of me. (This was the most common regret of all.) “Most people had not honored even a half of their dreams and had to die knowing that it was due to choices they had made, or not made.”

2. I wish I didn’t work so hard. (This came from every male patient that she nursed.) “All of the men I nursed deeply regretted spending so much of their lives on the treadmill of a work existence.”

3. I wish I’d had the courage to express my feelings. “Many people suppressed their feelings … and many developed illnesses relating to the bitterness and resentment they carried as a result.”

4. I wish I had stayed in touch with my friends. “Many had become so caught up in their own lives that they had let golden friendships slip by over the years. There were many deep regrets about not giving friendships the time and effort that they deserved.”

5. I wish that I had let myself be happier. (This was a surprisingly common one.) “Many did not realize until the end that happiness is a choice. They had stayed stuck in old patterns and habits. The so-called ‘comfort’ of familiarity overflowed into their emotions, as well as their physical lives. Fear of change had them pretending to others, and to their selves, that they were content. When deep within, they longed to laugh properly and have silliness in their life again.”

Take some time today to ponder this list. Are there some things on here that hit home? They did for me too. Don’t wait til the end to deal with them. We only get one chance at this lifetime. Contrary to popular belief, this life is not about bigger, better, faster. It’s about who you become during the journey. Be true to yourself, don’t work so hard, express your feelings, enjoy friendships, and as often as possible, choose happiness.

Personal Philosophy For Living

A personal philosophy for living is essential to living a great life. Numb is not a philosophy. Getting by isn’t either. It’s not about what you have – but what you do with what you have. If you don’t have a personal philosophy, you should. Here are eleven thoughts to get you started.

1) Read something (positive) 20 minutes a day. Exercise your brain. It builds character and enriches your soul.

2) Write (journal or blog) for 20 minutes a day. It’s the one thing in life that you are guaranteed to be perfect at. There no rules. Just write. Get your ideas about life out of your brain and onto paper. The healing attributes of journaling are amazing.

3) Exercise at least 20 minutes a day. Move! Do something. Walk. Stretch. Do sit-ups. Getting the blood moving improves overall health and brain function. And it improves your attitude too.

4) Make healthy food choices. It’s not that hard. Minimize starch, sugar, and salt. All three in excess are the cause for most of our health related issues.

5) Keep an attitude of gratitude. There is always, always something to be thankful for. Look around. Your life ain’t that bad. And when you figure that out, share the love.

6) Eliminate the negative mental garbage. Turn off the news channels, and turn off the radio talk shows. Negativity sells. Don’t believe it? Count the number of commercials.

7) Do what you love, or love what you do. If you don’t love it, change your attitude or change your job. Stress leads to illness and bad coping habits. If eight hours of your day are filled with stress, you can bet the other 16 will be negatively effected as well.

8) Find a creative outlet for expression. Paint, write, draw, build, carve, sew. Don’t have time? Make the time. It’s a great stress reliever.

9) Make plenty time for family and faith. Nothing is more important. At the end of life, those will be the only things left to comfort you.

10) Be present. Live each day from start to finish as if it were your first and your last. Regretting backwards and projecting forwards robs you of the present moment. And that’s where life really exists.

11) Never be happy with status quo. Your life is a gift given to you, and a gift to be offered back to those around you. Be an inspiration. Be a role model. Be a mentor. Be authentic.

Try that for 30 days and see how things change!

Your Coach, Greg Tutwiler

The Unfolding Life

We so often struggle trying to coming to terms with who we are, and what we are to do while we are here on earth. When Jesus tells the disciples the greatest command is to “love your God, and to love your neighbor – as yourself,” we often overlook the as yourself part. If you haven’t learned to embrace your own journey and the fact that you are always changing, it’s mighty hard to love yourself. More often than not we are at war with ourselves; trying to hang onto some flag we’ve planted on some hill somewhere. Call it a career, a retirement plan, a vacation home, or just maintaining an image you think everyone expects you to portray. It’s a battle that generally isn’t worth fighting.

Ever wonder what would happen if we just laid down our sword and quit trying so hard to be something we were never meant to be? I mean, maybe there is another flow to life that feels more like a lazy stream than a raging river. Life is going to change anyway. And you are going to change anyway. Age has a funny way of doing that to us. Bill Thrall, author of the book The Cure, writes, “Nothing you believe and depend upon is more magnificently freeing than this single truth; you are no longer who you were, even on your worst say.” Isn’t that reassuring?

Each day has a whole new set of opportunities to embrace life and to learn to love yourself. When you do, that is when authentic life begins to flow forth and you no longer are attached to the fruit of life. You no longer seek blessings – you just seek to know the author of the blessings and life as it unfolds.

21 Day Challenge, Day 15

Change requires risk. It will likely require you to step into unknowns, and it will challenge your perceived sense of safety. Helen Keller wrote, “Security is mostly a superstition. It does not exist in nature, nor do the children of men as a whole experience it. Avoiding danger is no safer in the long run than outright exposure. Life is either a daring adventure, or nothing.”

We think we’ve settled into a place of comfort and security, all the while our inner being is longing for more, better, different … our heart and soul cry out for more of life, and our mind keeps telling us don’t do that; you can’t, think about what could happen

But here’s the reality – everywhere in history, it’s the people who chose to risk that are the ones who really succeeded at life. And it doesn’t have to be about fame and fortune. Your longing might be to serve a third world country as a missionary. That requires risk. But the rewards, albeit spiritual and emotional, are tremendous.

We were created for life. We were created with a purpose. We were made to count. But I’ve learned in life that we always have a choice. In today’s world we can take the easy road; settle into an existence that doesn’t require much from us and coast through without much discomfort. We have been taught that there is a life that doesn’t require much risk. And sadly, many choose that life. But you are different. You can feel the pull of a greater life available. The key is; are you willing to risk what it takes to have that life?

“And the day came when the risk to remain tight in a bud was more painful than the risk it took to blossom.” ~ Anais Nin

Freedom From Condition

Robert Frost wrote, “Two roads diverged in a yellow wood … I took the one less traveled by, and that has made all the difference.”

The Dalai Lama said enlightenment is “freedom from conditioned existence.” I believe our mission here on earth is to find that freedom from conditioned existence; to find the narrow road to life; that road less traveled; and take it. “Carpe’ Dieum,” the poet Hermes wrote. Seize the day. Studies suggest that 75%+ of the population aren’t living the life they desire, or believe they should be. Even if they don’t know what that life looks like, they know the one they’re living is not cutting it.

The journey of life is many things. But it’s supposed to be exciting, and fulfilling, and full of adventure. I know it’s tough too. I know people have hardships and handicaps. And I know the God I serve is bigger than all of that. Jesus said, “behold, the kingdom of God is within you.” (Luke 17:21 KJV) And that is where we all have to wrestle with this idea that there is more to life than this. And it’s available to us now if we choose to pursue it.

It is my hope that through the Holy Spirit, the right message will penetrate through the words found here – that the content offered here will encourage you, will inspire you, will maybe even awaken and enlighten you. God is stirring hearts today in a new way. When we look above the fog that’s over this world we live in, there is an amazing life waiting for us. And as we rise up into our authentic selves, God is going to use you and me to do great things in this world and in the lives of others.