Thursday, June 27, 2013

Can You Ask For Help If You Need It?

How wonderful it is that nobody need wait a single moment before starting to improve the world.  ~AnneFrank

I really hate asking for help. I’ve always been one to figure things out on my own, charge through the glut and muck to come to an understanding. For the most part, that’s the way I learn. Sometimes, I’ll have to go over something a hundred times (like Algebra) before it sinks into my math-averse brain. Applying myself and employing my own brain cells to solve a problem or figure out a process gives me a sense of personal accomplishment that makes me feel capable. However, there are times when it is most advantageous and prudent to ask for help, to request a helping hand to get you through a difficult situation. There’s no shame in that. Sometimes, pride or stubbornness get in the way and just makes things really messy.

There have been times where I didn’t ask for help, initially, and wound up totally stuck. Case in point: One time when I was 17 I was working on my old beat up jalopy of a car. It was an ancient Monte Carlo, a rusted out, oil burning, hideous mess of a car, but it was mine. I tried to install brake pads on the back. And if any of you ever attempted to change old style drum brakes, you know the mess you can get into pretty quick if you don’t know what you’re doing. Anyway, I tried for about two hours to figure it out. Frustration mounted until I felt like my head would explode. I broke down, asked my dad to help, and within ten minutes, the brakes were together and working perfectly.

Now that I’m older, I understand the value of asking questions, and seeking out help when the time calls for it. I still don’t like it, but I’ve put aside my stubbornness and pride. I realized that learning doesn’t have to come just from my own experiences. Learning from others’ experience and life knowledge is an excellent way to increase your own capabilities and understandings. The self-improvement we all need and yearn for (even if we won’t admit it) starts with expanding our minds and opening ourselves up to new possibilities. Anne Frank was right; you don’t have to wait a single moment to make things better, starting with you. No one lives life completely alone, so no one should ever try to learn everything completely alone either.  

Someone out there has experienced something similar to your situation, whatever it is. With seven billion people on the planet, I’m confident in saying that. It is not a waste of time to employ others’ knowledge and experience to make your own a more positive one; it will be an investment. That investment will pay dividends. Ultimately the difference will be a better life. And a better life is what we all should strive for.

Go ahead, ask for help. Trust me, it won’t hurt and you might just learn something.

Thanks for reading. Questions and comments are welcome. 

Friday, June 21, 2013

Thanks for 25,000!

Yesterday, my blog went over 25,000 page views. I just wanted to take a minute out and say Thank You to all of the readers who took the time out of their day to read my blog. Your support is much appreciated.

Thank you for reading.

Thursday, June 20, 2013

What Does it Mean to Get Ahead?

“The jealous are troublesome to others, but a torment to themselves” – William Penn

Life is about quality experiences and honorable achievements you work towards.

Life is not about getting ahead of everyone else. Life is not about accumulating every attention-getting trinket in existence. Life is not about comparing yourself to others as if they are the official measuring stick of accomplishment. Granted, I’m being completely subjective here. I know to others life might very well be solely about acquisition of power, wealth, fame, stuff; who knows. I’m sure having ultimate power might be cool, for a while; being able to buy whatever my heart desires would fulfill my wants, for a while; having people adore me and fawn all over me might be gratifying and feed my ego, for a while. 

But I’ve observed that a lot of times people compare their status with others (usually ones ahead of them) and feel as if they are not as successful or accomplished as they should be; then they lose sight of what they have in favor of what they might be able to attain. So they persist in their drive to acquire more and more, never really appreciating what they have now. This ladies and gentlemen is what is called the rat race.

My suggestion is to never start running that race, because once you do, you immediately lose. Striving to be successful is an admirable goal; one I agree with and continually work for. However, I’ve learned to follow an ideal of what my future successful self looks like, but only compare myself to where I have been and what I have achieved in the past. You see an ideal is just that; an ideal, it is not real and most of the time it’s not attainable in a realistic sense. Think of how you structure your future self’s image. Is it perfect? Maybe not but it’s probably idealistically constructed, meaning ‘if things were perfect’ played a small part in its creation, even if you weren’t consciously aware of it. So striving toward that ideal gives you focus and a goal, which is good. Comparing yourself to the past and what actually was keeps you grounded, examining real world facts.

It is unfortunately very easy to fall into the trap of thinking things like “Everyone has so much more than me,” “I’m never going to have as much as that guy,” or “I’m never going to make it.” That’s jealously talking there. In the grand spectrum of success, there will always be those ahead, and behind you. This is a fact. Worrying so much about what other people have accomplished and comparing yourself only to those that are more successful will ultimately lead to you feeling like a failure. Now it’s okay to model your actions after successful people (they’re a success for a reason); any other comparisons on success is just shortchanging yourself.

I once fell into that trap. I’d look at all the successful authors out there and lament that they succeeded where I still failed. I saw their body of published works and compared that to my unpublished writing. And I was miserable. What I failed to look at was just how much more I wrote in the last two years compared to the eight years preceding them. In the last two years I’ve written a weekly blog entry almost every week, I’ve written a Novel, and two short stories. The previous eight years I wrote only a fraction of that. So in comparison to myself the last two years have been a resounding success. And I gained fulfillment from those valuable and rewarding writing experiences. Sure I’m not published yet, but I’m light years ahead of where I was. The key there is me, not those published authors. My being jealous of them served no purpose except to make me feel like crap. So I changed my perspective. And guess what? I changed my life, yet again.  

You can do it too. I dare you. 

Thanks for reading. Questions and Comments are welcome. 

Thursday, June 13, 2013

What Legacy to Leave

No legacy is so rich as honesty. (All’s Well that Ends Well -- Act iii, Sc. 5) William Shakespeare

Have you ever thought about life after your own? I’m not talking about anything supernatural, heaven, or the afterlife. I’m talking about the impression you leave behind after you are gone. It’s an unavoidable truth that one day each of us will draw our last breath and part from this world. In a way it makes all that we do and all that we say that much more poignant and precious, because we only get one chance. Think for a moment of what life would be like without you. All of society will roll on just as it has before you, only now, if you’ve done it right, you’ll have left a mark that is immutable and distinctly you. I think leaving a legacy of good behind is vital.

For argument’s sake let’s say we all have 100 years of earthly life given to us. What will you do with that time? Each life is different and unique and the choices we make mold and shape that life and us into the individuals we all are. Some of those choices are good, some bad. What we do with those lives is entirely up to us. There are those who are self-centered and egotistical, searching only for things that make themselves happy. There are those who strive for altruism and look out for others, doing whatever they can to better the lives of those around them. Many of us fall somewhere in between, which is to say we try to live good lives and occasionally put ourselves first in the pecking order of life. Now that’s not a bad thing because if you can’t take care of yourself you can’t take care of anyone else; it’s the balance between selfishness and givingness that’s the key. We can’t all get everything we’ve ever wanted, that’s just unrealistic and if you devote your life to acquisition, whether it be for fame, fortune or power, you may very well achieve those goals, but when it’s all over, what do you leave behind?

I’m going to go out on a limb here and say what you leave behind should be a positive thing. Although, it might be hard to say exactly what counts as valuable in a subjective sense; one person might say a fortune left to heirs is positive, another might say the example of a good life is better. Even others might say the propagation of their religion or ideology is paramount. So what is positive, and what counts as a lasting legacy of good?

My belief is that if you continue to learn and improve on the person you were yesterday, avoid making the same mistakes, keep an open mind, learn from other people the best you can, and never give up to apathy and despair, your life will continue to improve. Striving to an ideal is great so long as you only compare yourself to what you have achieved, not what you think you should be. We all know no one is perfect, but continual self-improvement is an example everyone that knows you can take with them and emulate, as well as pass on to others. 

Over the course of a lifetime, you can make a difference. If you continually fail, try another approach, seek advice, model yourself after those who have succeeded and keep going. If you only have 100 years to make a life worth knowing about, each moment is precious, but they are also opportunities to reassert yourself and move forward. It won’t be easy, but it will be worth it. Think of it this way, if your life was a book, would anyone want to read about it? I for one want to leave behind a best seller. What about you?

Thanks for reading. Questions and Comments are welcome. 

Thursday, June 6, 2013

Knock Knock!

A wise man will make more opportunities than he finds.  ~Francis Bacon

How often do you create opportunities for success in your life? You might have heard the old saying “Opportunity only knocks once,” or “When opportunity knocks, answer it”. They’re cute little sayings aren’t they? But do you notice something about the way they are structured? I’ll give you a minute to reread them….

Did you see it? Well, if you saw what I saw you’ll recognize that both of those sayings are rather passive in regards to you and what you should do. Think about it. Opportunity knocks, meaning it will come to you. Really? I’ve always had this sort of ridiculous notion that opportunity was like a cloud of positive energy that would one day float by my apartment door and lightly rap upon my door knocker. All I had to do was wait. Now I realize that’s an incredible waste of time.

If we think about what Francis Bacon says about opportunity, we should all be out hunting that misty cloud of energy trying to wring out all the opportunity we can get. And that’s exactly what you should be doing. Getting out there and making things happen is what life should be about. There’s a reason why couch potatoes aren’t wildly successful, except knowing what’s on TV; they aren’t doing anything. You can’t seize the day if you’ve already seized the couch.

Just a few days ago, I once again submitted some of my writings to a publisher. In fact, I submitted another short story and several poems. No one is going to come knocking on my door begging me to submit my stories to their magazine. So I’ve got to make those publishing opportunities happen myself. And I’m going to have to continue to foster those opportunities if I want to be successful. You might not be an aspiring author, but I’m sure there’s something positive you’d love to be doing right now; some dream you always wanted to come true…

The question is, what are you doing to make that dream come true?

Thanks for reading. Questions and comments are welcome.

Understanding Pandemics

By Doug Clark Head Writer -  The Inspiration Engine With all that is going on with Covid 19, I thought it would be a good idea to help ...