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Pondering The Power of Encouragement

I wasn’t sure he was going to make it. He was an elderly man attempting to complete today’s 5k race. His face and body were drained by the course, further impacted by the high heat and oppressive humidity. Many who had gathered on the side of the course began to shout words of encouragement as he fought his way to the finish line. He managed to share a little smile as he made the final turn on his way finishing the race.

There is a real sense of community surrounding organized road racing. Hundreds of people, from kids to grandparents, with hours of training mostly in solitude come together and turn 3.1 miles into more of a celebration of the common bond they all share. One defining characteristic of this community is it’s support and encouragement of each other.

At the finish line of most races it is quite common for many of the early finishers to circle back and line the course to cheer on those who’ve yet to cross the finish line. Shout-outs of  ”you can do this!” or “you’re almost there!” are directed towards those still running from those on the sidelines. Most of these people don’t know each other but it really doesn’t matter. They share that common bond as members of the same community.

I’m a big fan of encouragement. It’s something we all need yet it’s so often something we never receive. A kind word or a friendly reminder of your belief in another person can have immeasurable benefits for the recipient. Unlike a race where you can see the physical exhaustion on the face of a fatigued runner, many people go through life fighting their own silent internal battles. They may be masters of disguising their pain but just because it isn’t seen doesn’t mean it doesn’t exist.

We all share the common bond as members of the community know as humanity. Within this community is a great need for the expression of support and encouragement of each other.

And for ourselves as well.

Look around your world today. Can you find the opportunities where you can offer a couple of words of encouragement to a family member, a friend, a co-worker or a complete stranger?

Or perhaps even yourself?

It’s a great day to be you!


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July 16, 2016   No Comments

The Forgotten Freedom?

Independence Day. A day most of the nation unplugs and celebrates the freedoms which serve as the backbone of America.

Life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.

But when do you ever stop to celebrate your own greatest personal freedom?

As humans, regardless of birthplace or nationality, we all possess the freedom to choose our thoughts. Holocaust survivor Viktor Frankl described this as the “last of the human freedoms – to choose one’s attitude in any given set of circumstances.”

Standing where you are, you have some life-shaping decisions to make. You get to decide if the weight of your current situation will keep you stuck where you are or if you will summon your innate strength and move forward anyway. You get to decide if the opinions of others are more important than the opinions you have for yourself. You get to decide if you will allow yourself to fully evolve into who you were created to become or if you will continue to play small and die well before you ever stop living.

Life is fraught with challenges, and while at times we can’t avoid them we certainly enjoy the freedom to decide how we will respond to them.

Choose wisely.

The quality of your life depends on it.

It’s a great day to be you!


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July 3, 2016   1 Comment

Prince, Green Beans, and the Breeding Ground of Misery

“Comparison is an act of violence against the self.” – Iyanla Vanzant

In the wake of Prince’s passing the radio was filled with his music. While I was listening to an online radio station, the host was mentioning how great Prince was as a composer, musician, and a performance artist. As the host continued he felt the need to introduce one additional element into the conversation…

Comparison.

Perhaps it was the combination of the host’s love for Prince and the still-fresh news of his death, but the conversation went from how great Prince was to a conversation about how much greater Prince was as compared to others. Actually, it wasn’t a conversation. It felt more like a sermon…the host speaking with Biblical certainty as he told the world how much greater of a guitarist Prince was compared to Eric Clapton. “Anyone can play the blues…it’s easy!” declared the DJ.

I was rather surprised and disappointed as to where he was going with this. Why can’t we just celebrate the contributions of what each artist has shared with the world without the need to rank one over another? I wondered if this DJ’s view of the world would prevent him from enjoying a Clapton song simply because he believed Prince was better?

Our culture has a thing for ranking just about everything. At the end of every year we are exposed to the top songs and movies of the past 12 months. Local newspapers publish lists of their area’s best restaurants as voted on by it’s readers. I do my own fair share of comparing things, from shopping for which brand of green beans to buy to making far more important decisions in my life. But there’s one area of life where comparison can prove to be quite destructive…

Comparing myself to others.

IT’S YOUR DECISION I’m not schooled on whether comparing ourselves to others is a universal characteristic of humanity. All I do know is it really fucks things up. You can take stock of all the good things you have in your life but those same things may suddenly not be as good when you decide to start comparing where you are in life to others. Someone is always wealthier, taller, thinner, stronger, faster, cooler, more accomplished, more talented, smarter, living in a bigger house, and taking better vacations. And we all know people who are at least one of those. In any moment, though, we get to decide if we will find joy in who we are and in what we have or if we will beat ourselves down because we, in our own distorted opinion of our own self worth, don’t believe we are good enough.

Comparison is the breeding ground of envy, and when you’re busy wishing you were living someone else’s life you’ll never be happy living the only life you’ll ever have.

It’s a life-altering decision when your focus is on celebrating you as you already are.

After all, as Prince famously wrote, “Nothing Compares 2 U”.

It’s a great day to be you!


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April 30, 2016   No Comments