Friendship Demands Truth

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These past few days, my wife and I had been making plans to meet up with some friends we haven’t seen  for quite sometime now. Trips are already booked. We are (I mean, my wife is) finalizing the plans once we get to the place of one of our friends whom we are visiting and we’ll be staying with during said trip. Purpose of the visit: to catch some time together and rekindle the fires of friendship that had gone cold over the years of limited communications. How time has swiftly passed us all, leaving us missing each other and the memories of the times we’ve shared together. 

There are friendships that serve as wallflowers and there are those that remain true no matter what. This post is dedicated to one of the basic truths about friendship. Forget about the sweet, soft and cheesy ones for a while, let’s take it to the core and talk about the  bones — the hard stuff that holds friendship stand steadfast and strong — Truth.

What does it mean to be a friend — to be kind to another human being? We are taught in this culture that being kind means not making another person feel bad. We are conditioned to believe that it is virtuous to hide our strengths to save another from experiencing their weaknesses, to deny our blessings so that another avoids feeling their sorrows. Is this kindness? Is this friendship — to put away our truth so as to save another from experiencing their own truth — which might be sad? If this is true friendship, it is of an odd sort — true friendship that does not include the truth. Hiding the truth may keep a relationship going smoothly, but going smoothly is a paltry goal for such a precious and profound entity as friendship. When we choose smooth sailing over truth, we underestimate the weight that friendship can hold; we dishonor the very substance from which friendship is made. Are we so afraid of suffering as to be willing to sacrifice even friendship in order to avoid it?

To be a true friend is not to pretend that we don’t have different experiences in life, don’t receive different blessings and challenges. It is not to pretend that life is fair. A friendship that creates a shared experience at the lowest common denominator is not a friendship, but rather some kind of hiding place from life. We don’t need more hiding places. What we need are more foxhole buddies, true friends who can keep us company in the truth, and in the hard parts, where life isn’t okay or fair.

In truth, we do not need more ways to skirt the sorrows that are part of life, more strategies for keeping the waters smooth. What we need are friends who can accompany us through the bumpy and different truths of life. True friendship is about meeting in the place of truth, and loving and supporting each other there. Anything else is just a paler shade of polite.

I guess that’s where our (my wife and I) relationships with our friends was grounded and has grown over the years.

What are your thoughts about friendship?

Photo credits: quoteslife101.net

Make Fear your friend and ally

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Even the wisest people regularly make decisions that seem rational — but aren’t.

While we often think of ourselves as rational creatures, the bigger a dilemma is or the more important a dream is, the more our choices become clouded by fear.

Have you ever turned down an exciting opportunity and played it safe instead? Have you ever made a decision out of anger and ended up hurting someone you love? Have you ever gotten so stressed that you went into survival mode and started obsessing over tiny things instead of focusing on the bigger picture? Or have you had times where you became addicted to achievement and approval?

I have. And pretty much everyone I know has done so, too. There are many faces of fear and each shows up as a limitation — as a defect that distorts our decisions, sabotages our leadership, and holds us back from the things we most want in life.

However, we usually don’t notice this. Like an iceberg, 90 percent of our fears remain out of sight, stored away in our unconscious mind. But that doesn’t mean they’re gone. Like trying to look through a layer of brown cooking grease that has been spread across a piece of glass, our hidden insecurities distort our vision and color our choices.

Instead of proclaiming themselves as such, our fears most commonly show up as innocent sounding statements that sound so reasonable — yet aren’t.

Looking deep within and in retrospect. I often caught myself on various occasions saying or thinking about the following words:

“I’m upset because…”
“I need…”
“I should…”
“I shouldn’t…”
“You shouldn’t…”
“You must…”
“I’m stressed because…”
“I can’t…”
“Yeah, I’d like to, but…”
“If I could just stop procrastinating, I would…”

Do you ever find yourself saying any of the said lines too?

If so, welcome to the human race. While each of these statements can be rational, I strongly believe that they’re almost always a sign that your choices aren’t clean, and that your decisions are being distorted by your unconscious fears.

For example, I often find myself saying things like, “I’m upset because I don’t have more money.” “I should be working harder.” “Yeah, I’d like to go on a long beach vacation with the family, but I just don’t have the time.”

And of course, “Honey, you don’t understand, I need to buy more gadgets!”

While these statements may sound reasonable, we truly need to recognize when they’re really just symptoms of our hidden fears.

While this may sound disturbing, it’s actually great news because the voice of fear can become one of your greatest allies — once you learn how to listen to it in a more effective way.

Of course, the contention of the matter always boils down to this: how to make fear an ally? 

I believe the answer would be, that is to always open your heart to meet fear fully. Just as good health requires a lifestyle of attention to diet and exercise, being at ease with fear requires an ongoing willingness to meet it directly. If you are receptive to whatever arises, as it is, you will find it does not matter if fear is present or not. Life is so rich. Every experience that arises is a friend, a gift, an invitation to break down your inner boundaries. Allow everything in always, and you will discover the peace beyond peace.

Photo source: quotefancy.com

 

Life is as you SEE it.

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The way you see your life shapes your life.

How you define life determines your destiny. Your perspective will influence how you invest your time, spend your money, use your talents, and value your relationships.

Being a youth leader back in my college years and occasionally, these not so previous years of sharing God’s word to other people, I always do get the chance to ask this question: “How do you see your life?” Asking that, you will discover that there are as many different answers to that question as there are people. I’ve been told life is a circus, a minefield, a roller coaster, a puzzle, a symphony, a journey, and a dance. People have said, “Life is a carousel: Sometimes you’re up, sometimes you’re down, and sometimes you just go round and round” or “life is a ten-speed bicycle with gears we never use” or, as I’ve also written in one of my posts here, “life is a game of cards: You have to play the hand you’re dealt.”

If I asked how you pictured life, what image would come to your mind? That image, if you will, is your life metaphor. It’s the view of life that you hold, consciously or unconsciously, in your mind. It’s your description of how life works and what you expect from it. People often express their life metaphor through clothes, jewelry, cars, hairstyles, bumper stickers, even tattoos.

Our unspoken life metaphor influences our life more than we realize. It determines our expectations, our values, our relationships, our goals, and our priorities. For instance, if you think that life is a party, your primary value in life will be having fun. If you see life as a race, you will value speed and will probably be in a hurry much of the time. If you view life as a marathon, you will value endurance. If you see life as a battle or a game, winning will be very important to you.

What is your view of life? If you got the time to reply, I’d be happy to read it in the comments below 🙂

As for me, life, basically and fundamentally, is as I see it, and I’ve dedicated large portions of this blog expressing my views about life (and living). Doors are open if you’d like a tour 😉

Photo credit: quotes4sharing.com

“I’m Busy”: said and heard it enough already?

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I’m not sure if this is a recent trend, but it certainly seems to be a growing one. Lately whenever I ask someone: “How are you?” the answer is a resounding, exasperated: “Busy!”

There is a glorification in the word busy – as if it is a badge of honor, something to be proud of. Does being busy mean that we’re important? Does it mean that we are in-demand? On the contrary, it usually means that we are overwhelmed, stressed out, and agitated.

Thomas Edison said: “Being busy does not always mean real work. The object of all work is production or accomplishment and to either of these ends there must be forethought, system, planning, intelligence, and honest purpose, as well as perspiration. Seeming to do is not doing.”

Busy connotes that we have not just a lot to do, but too much to do. While “busy bees” are focused on one task, making honey, busy humans are generally more scattered, trying to keep up while typically falling behind. When we’re busy we tend to have our attention divided in an effort to multitask and get things done.

For a moment, let’s put all that “busy” aside and consider how being busy affects our relationships. Since our first relationship is with ourselves, how does this “busy” label feel? Anything that follows the words “I am” defines us. Do you think a busy person is more valued or valuable? Is a busy person more worthwhile or worthy? Why do you choose to define yourself as busy? We need to deeply understand that we are not what we do. Being busy doesn’t justify your existence on this earth. Being busy is really a distraction that takes us away from understanding who we are. When we know who we are, so we don’t have to be busy, we can be fully present. We don’t feel busy, and we don’t feel stressed. Instead we feel present, calm, and self-controlled rather than externally controlled by the many tasks and activities we have taken on.

Being busy affects our relationship with those around us. When we say: “I’m busy” the person we are talking with most likely will take this as: “I’m too busy for you. I have no time for you. My thoughts are elsewhere.” With that response, it’s easy to see how anyone would feel that the “to do” list has been given priority over the relationship. Those two words come off as dismissive – and even rude. “Busy” is a 4-letter word in more ways than one.

The truth is, we all have lots to do. Saying you’re busy doesn’t make you special. But being busy is really a state of mind. We don’t need to let all the stuff we have to do define us. We have a choice where we put our attention. We have a choice in how we prioritize things. We have a choice in how we spend our time and how much effort we put into anything we do.

So before we get into “busy mode” let’s consider where we are putting our attention. Are we too busy for our family and friends? I don’t think so. It’s not too difficult to take a pause for something, or someone, that is important to us. When we are asked how we are, that’s a cue to focus on what is right in front of us — that person, that relationship, that moment. Instead of saying “I’m busy” — replace that thought with “I’m present.”

When we say “I’m present” it sounds more like: “I’m here for you, you are important to me, and you have my undivided attention.” Now isn’t that better? When it comes down to it, we don’t remember all the things that occupied our time and seemed to be so pressing. But we do remember the people we love, and the moments we spent being fully present with them. And they remember that about us, too. That’s special, that’s what life is really about.

Photo source: https://www.inspiringwallpapers.net

 

Daily dose of “G”

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When I was younger, I believed one should feel grateful in order to give thanks. To do anything else seemed somehow dishonest or fake — a kind of “preposterously ridiculous” insincerity that one should reject. Considering the fact that we are in a universe that seemed to hurt for no reason and living in a world where children die of hunger every day, it just doesn’t make sense. When it comes to being grateful and thankful, it’s best to be emotionally authentic, right? Wrong. Building the best life does not require fealty to feelings in the name of authenticity, but rather rebelling against negative impulses and acting right even when we don’t feel like it. In a nutshell, acting grateful can actually make you grateful.

Being grateful is a choice. Some make the mistake of waiting to feel grateful rather than choosing to be grateful. Today, you are alive. You have the opportunity to enjoy your abundance, right your wrongs, cling to your hopes, rekindle your dreams or re-live your passions. You and me, we are alive and so be grateful we must and truly live.

The gift of life is the best gift we’re given every single day.

Grow by Detaching from your Past

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Most of us have heard that a key to happiness is detaching from our future. We know the dangers of getting too attached to things that aren’t certain…new jobs and new partners and rain-free vacations.

Detaching from the past, however, isn’t nearly as popular of a concept. And yet it might be even more important.

Think about it.

We are all brought up learning lessons and beliefs that are stated as absolute truths. And we assume everyone else believes them, too.

everyone believes that boys shouldn’t ever show fear….

everyone believes it’s important to go to a certain church on a certain day…

everyone feels that wearing designer clothes reflects success…

We learn these lessons from lots of people throughout our lives. Parents and teachers and friends definitively exclaim how things are in the beginning…then new colleagues and the media join in. And many of them mean well.

Before we know it we’ve got a whole bunch of beliefs about life…about the way things should be…that actually might not be true. At least not for us.

Sometimes, when we run up against a belief that no longer works for us, it turns into a terrible mind game. We feel like we’ve done something wrong. Like we’ve failed.

We don’t consider that the problem might be with the belief itself.

Need a few examples? Here are just a few beliefs each should be eyeing careful attention to:

  • Everyone should have kids
  • Taller is more attractive
  • You must vote a certain way
  • Failure means you just didn’t try hard enough
  • For the ladies, the thinner you are the better you are
  • And…true professionals work their butts off, 9 a.m.-5 p.m., every weekday.

Detachment from the past can be done in all kinds of circumstances. Even simple attitudes or judgments about something or someone are up for detachment grabs. We can choose to detach from them, to start fresh.

Of course, not everything is about detachment. There will be core values you have throughout your entire life. There will be hard lessons you want to hold on to. There will be a passionate belief in the soothing power of mint chip ice cream that will persevere from childhood to death.

But there will be other beliefs that will evolve and change over time. There may be some that, frankly, were never right for you in the first place.

The important thing is to recognize when a belief runs up against a different truth inside of you, to catch the mind game before it starts.

To understand that the truth of a lesson learned long ago (or not-so-long-ago) simply might not apply to you. Or, it might not apply to you anymore.

And then? Challenge the belief head-on. Consider where it came from. Consider whether you might want to detach from it.

Remind yourself that life choices are different for different people at different times in their lives. That other people’s beliefs might not always apply.

Go on, delve deeply on the beliefs you’ve acquired over time, and don’t be hesitant to challenge such beliefs. For your growth and well-being, nothing should hinder you, even the long-established and widely-accepted notions and conventions. At the end of the day, you’ll be smiling at the world for the freedom you’ve achieved!…I catch myself saying these words early this morning.

The tragedy of success.

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WHEN SUCCESS KILLS SUBSTANCE

No matter what goals or aspirations you might have, there is one thing certain: There is a price you must pay to get what you want in life. In fact, there is no sidestepping the fact that any type of success demands something from you. It’s simply the way life works. As it is often said: you will not gain something for nothing.

As you make progress along your journey towards your desired outcomes, your pursuits will demand that you make difficult choices about what you will do and about what you won’t do. The goals and objectives you have in mind will not magically manifest in your life. You will need to work hard and potentially make some drastic sacrifices along the way.

I must say that anything you want in your life is essentially unattainable. It’s unattainable if you do not give something up in order to get something back. Giving something up could come in the form of your time, energy, money, relationship or worst, your personal being. You might need to sacrifice one of these things, or maybe a combination of these things in order to get what you want. Considerably, one of the biggest and most profound sacrifices you might undoubtedly need to make along that journey is changing who you are — for whom your “goal” needs you to become. Inarguably, many become blinded by the deceiving notion that they need to transform themselves into “ferocious beasts” in order to scare, devour and topple any competition while being unaware that they are slowly sliding down to a point of losing grip on their substance — the core value defining their humanity.

Having said that, I have one challenge for all of us: Don’t let slip the things you have that are real and substantive in the pursuit of success, most importantly so, in the pursuit of the ephemeral, the prospective, or the offhandedly promised.

This is not to say you should not be willing to set it all aside and go after something bigger or something better. But make sure you do it intelligently, and be aware of what you’re giving up, or might be giving up, when you do so, so you can make the best and most informed decision about which path you must  chose to take.