Thursday, February 27, 2014

The best day of your life

The best day of your life

Tim Connor

Too often we get stuck in the negatives in life and fail to remember those special days, events or weeks and even years that bring a smile to our face and a warm glow to our heart.

Yes, life can be filled with disappointment, adversity and troubles and more for some of us than others, but in the end we always have special times, if we will take time to remember them, which make all of the trouble worthwhile.

Was it the birth of a child?  A promotion?  A special vacation? Or something else that makes you feel a sense of calm, joy or peace?

As I look back over the years there are many special times in my life.

Turning my life over to Christ
The birth of my daughter.
My first standing ovation.
Wonderful letters of testimony from some of my favorite clients.
My first international speaking engagement.
The day I met the true love of my life.

I could go on but this isn’t about me but you.

Have you taken some time recently to focus and remember those special moments, days or events that will always have a special place in your mind?  If not, why not?

Do you have journals, scrapbooks or some other device or process for recording these special times?  Again, if not, why not?

I know that current technology has replaced the idea of a journal or scrap book but let me 
ask you, have you ever had a device crash or lost all of its memory never to be recaptured.   
I have.  I have lost entire books that were ready for publication due to a hard drive crash.  Again, I know - there are backups and clouds where we can store our memories.  But, consider – sitting on the couch or around the dinner table flipping pages with handwritten notes on the pages that make you laugh or just smile.

I have watched people flip through their I Pad screens looking at photos but for me there is more to memories than just the picture on a screen.

I was recently sharing my High School Reunion Yearbook with a friend and she loved all of the notes written on many of the pages.

What makes a day, a moment or an event memorable or special?  Is it the event itself or some of the memories connected with the event?

Was it the photo or conversation you had about it?  Was it the memory alone or the other related memories that it triggered?

So, what defines a best day in your life?

We all have certain things or people in our life that when we think about them make us smile, laugh or just feel good to be alive. I’m not talking here about these, but those really special events or people that make us jump for joy, real joy.  Is it the feeling they bring us or how they make us feel about ourselves or could it be both?

I recall looking into the eyes of my newborn daughter thinking my life would never be the same from that point on. Yes, the years have passed but that memory is alive and well and is recalled every time I see her even though it has been years and yes years since that event.

For me – a best day in my life is something that makes me glad I am alive – period.  So, if this is the case can’t we really have best days every day?  Consider it.
How can we have more "best" days during our life?

Here are a few things to consider.

Feel joy every minute just because you are alive.
Feel gratitude for what you have rather than focusing on what is missing.
Remember that there is always someone who is worse off in some way than you.
Know in your heart that you are loved, respected and that the best is desired for you by God.
Say thank you every day and sometimes every minute for all of the blessings life is giving you or has given you.
Learn to see the good in everything rather than the negative.

Need more? Ask me to send you my recommended reading list by some of the world’s greatest minds and writers.

“And in the end it’s not the years in your life that count.
It’s the life in your years.”
Abe Lincoln

Wednesday, February 26, 2014

Are You Missing Something In Your Life

Are you missing something in your life?

Tim Connor

What you pay attention to every minute of each day determines the quality of your life. Whether it is words, the actions of others, the simple things, the negatives or the positives - they influence your beliefs, attitudes, decisions and behavior.

Last month I read a great book by, Mario Puig called Reinventing Yourself. (By the way I urge you to read it.) He covers a wide variety of mental issues that impact performance, health, attitudes and ultimate behavior.  I won’t cover them all (impossible in this article) but I would like to share two of his key points regarding attention and awareness and their influence on our lives. (FYI - he is a well respected neurosurgeon and author at the Harvard Medical School.)

Attention – Have you ever considered how much happens during your typical day that you just don’t notice or pay attention to? Whether it’s the simple things like – a smile from a stranger to a near miss auto incident because you are so focused on your daily tasks, worries or personal needs or agendas.  Or, it could even be major issues like signals that your mind or body are sending you that are trying to tell you to pay attention as these can be valuable observations that can prevent serious future consequences.

Why don’t we pay closer attention to the signals that life is sending us?  Is it our need for control, ego, pride, arrogance or just total ignorance or some combination of these? Yes.
Life continuously sends us messages about all of life.  How we are being received by others, what we need to learn, what really matters in life and how to live with increased success, happiness and contentment. But, if we fail to notice and honor many of these signals we are setting ourselves up for future negative consequences as one of life’s goals is to help us achieve and find inner peace and a sense of personal value.

Normally people only pay attention to life’s events or happenings when they are in crisis mode or the situation resonates with them due to their current worries, challenges or fears.

Ever made a bad decision?  Ever made what you realized later was a mistake?  Ever wished you could change something about your past?  Come on – we have all done these but – could we have avoided some of the pain and struggle associated with them by paying better attention to the signals life was giving us?  Yes.  Maybe we would have still decided or acted the way we did, but at least we would have done it with a greater degree of knowledge about what we could be bringing into our life.

Attention is not that difficult to maintain.  All that is involved is that we let go of our concern and worry about the future and attachment to the past. You might think this is difficult to do and yes it can be for many people but, if we can learn to just stay tuned in to what is happening now - around us and within us you would be amazed at how you can alter your present and future for the better.

Awareness – There are two types of awareness – what I refer to as casual awareness and focused awareness.  Casual awareness is when something has caught your attention, but it for whatever reason does not seem to be of concern to you either as something you need to learn or something that could be a threat to you; emotionally, physically or mentally.  It crosses your mind; you notice it, but dismiss it for whatever reason.  On the other hand there is focused awareness and this is where the real value of this life approach can help you either in the present or the future.

Focused awareness can be a tremendous learning tool to improve some aspect of your life and circumstances.  Let me give you a quick example.

You are reading a self help book and a sentence grabs your attention.  Here’s one I caught last night. “Don’t let other people’s baggage become your destiny.”  As I considered this simple sentence I began to think about all of the times in my life when I turned over my behavior to other people, even total strangers.  I stopped reading and spent more time thinking about this phrase and my past, present and future.  Every time I let other people’s behavior contribute to or even determine my behavior I experienced more stress.  I thought about numerous examples.

My point is that this phrase caught my attention and I made a conscious choice to give it my full awareness.  As a result this became an epiphany moment for me when I would make a serious change in my life.  Ever had one of those moments?  If not it may because you are not moving from attention to focused awareness.  Just imagine what you could be missing in your life.

“And in the end it’s not the years in your life that count.
It’s the life in your years.”
Abe Lincoln

Saturday, February 22, 2014

The Blame Game

The blame game
Tim Connor

Ever blamed someone for something? Every blamed an organization or circumstance for something?  If you haven’t you may want to consider a therapy group or some serious self-introspection.

Blame - to consider somebody to be responsible for something wrong or unfortunate that has happened.  My definition – failing to take responsibility for results or outcomes that you feel you don’t deserve or want.

Where does blame originate and why do people blame? Well, it’s complicated, but let me see if I can simplify it.

Where does blame originate?

Sooner or later we all fall victim to blame whether something insignificant or something major, but the source is always the same – insecurity, a need for control, low self-esteem or just out of touch with life’s reality.

Blame is a mindset and the source of all mindsets is the beliefs and values that a person has developed during life.  Many of our beliefs started very early in life while others developed over the years as we tested our beliefs against current situations, circumstances or the people who crossed our life path.

These influences, regardless of their source, have caused us to develop approaches to life that reinforce our beliefs so that we can feel comfortable with our actions or behaviors regardless of their current or future impact on our success, happiness of contentment. No one likes inner conflict.  We want to resolve our internal mental challenges quickly and hopefully successfully, but often when we attempt to accomplish these we fail to realize or accept the simple fact that we are responsible for many of our life circumstances.

It is unfortunate however, that when we fail to take responsibility for our own actions, behavior and decisions we often fail to learn the necessary lessons that are important to grasp and prevent us from repeat similar occurrences in the future.

Early in life I tried using blame as a strategy, but thankfully I learned to no longer use this approach before this mindset was entrenched in my beliefs and therefore was able to start looking in the mirror rather than pointing my finger.

As I have said in many previous articles, our beliefs are responsible for all of our reactions to life and therefore the majority of our circumstances.  If you find yourself in a blame mode ask yourself a simple question – what do you hope to gain by this behavior?  Your answer will tell you a great deal about the why, when and how you use blame as a response to disappointment, challenges, problems and even failure.

Why do people blame?

Blaming is pointing their finger at others or just staying in denial when it comes to consequences. 

In a way we believe blame relieves us of the responsibility for our mistakes, failures, poor decisions and inappropriate behavior. This philosophy however tends to keep us stuck in the past and repeating the same mistakes over and over again and experiencing repeated pain, suffering, regret or even despair or discouragement.

So, what’s the answer?

It’s both easy and hard.  Start taking responsibility for everything in your life where you have control and have contributed to results or outcomes because of your attitudes, thoughts, values, beliefs and self-esteem.  There is no other way to grow past this life approach especially if you have people in your life who continue to enable you and your blame behavior.  Start surrounding yourself with people who hold you accountable, yes in a respectful way, but still not allowing you to reach out to find scapegoats, excuses and rationales that permit you remain trapped.

“Do not blame anybody for your mistakes or failures.”

Wednesday, February 19, 2014

Don't wait for some day

Don’t wait for some day
Tim Connor

Tomorrow I will….. I am hoping that…… When things change I will…… Some day when things are better I plan to….. When I win the lottery I will….. Blah, Blah, Blah. Tomorrow is not certain. No one knows what waits around the next corner. Yes, waiting can be an effective strategy if you take daily or even weekly steps or actions to help them become a reality but even if and when you take these actions there is no guarantee that they will create the outcomes or results you planned or hoped for.

Ever been disappointed?  Ever failed to reach a goal? Ever had something take longer to become a reality than you anticipated? Ever looked back on some aspect of your life and felt regret, remorse or disappointment that you didn’t do something different, better, sooner or not at all?  Come on – get real here.  We all do this sooner or later in our life – that’s the reality of uncertainty in life no matter how precise, confident, detailed and certain we are that things will happen.

Some day – when is some day?  Next week… next year… before you die… when someone else or something else improves or changes for the better… or possibly… never!
Disappointment is as much a part of life as every heartbeat you get. The only way to avoid it is to lock yourself in the closet for seventy years or never take a risk, try something new or different or just wait for – whenever.

Yes, we all want better, sooner or even now (a rather idiotic life approach in my opinion) but, nonetheless millions of people around the world spend far too much time waiting for someday.

Is there a better approach than waiting? Yes, no and maybe.

Yes – The answer to this one is simple – act, do something to routinely move closer to your dreams or goals, but beware of the impending uncertainty and reality that always waits in the wings to disrupt or derail your goals, plans or dreams.
Any mature individual who has experienced disappointment uses it to grow and learn.   

People who see themselves as victims always blame or point the finger at someone or something else for their failure or negative outcomes.

Get it – you can’t control the future and you can’t change the past – all we can do is do our best in the present with the resources, knowledge, experience and guidance from others to work towards our desired outcomes accepting with poise, courage and confidence what happens using it in some way to impact a better future. Any other life strategy is dysfunctional and stupid.  Life owes us nothing.  The world owes us nothing.  The government owes us nothing.  Our parents owe us nothing. Uncle Bill owes us nothing. 

What we have, do and accomplish in the end is entirely up to us.

Yes, you may have inherited a fortune.  Yes, you may have been handed an ideal life by your parents and yes you might be the luckiest person who ever lived but beware – sooner or later any of these benefits come with responsibility and ultimate consequences – some positive and some negative.

No – Again a simple answer. Waiting is senseless in most cases when it replaces action, the right behaviors and planning (again plans are only a roadmap they are not certain).
I’m not talking here about waiting in a line at a retail store or for the server to bring you your meal in a restaurant.  I am referring here to waiting for the larger things in life – the right life partner, the ideal job, business success, and your health to improve without proactive actions.

Maybe – This is a tough one as many people who wait ultimately get what they want but it often doesn’t look like they thought it would.  Many people wait and get exactly what they want.

What’s the difference?  Read the two above again and it should be clear. Waiting works when we don’t attach to predetermined outcomes/expectations and do what we can while we wait.

“Every man is his own ancestor, and every man his own heir.  He devises his own future and he inherits his own past.”
H.F. Hedge