Am I Still Learning?

I remember back when I knew everything. It actually wasn’t all that long ago…

I didn’t need to listen to anyone because I had all the answers. When I asked you a question I already knew the answer, I just wanted to see if you would lie to me.

I had a closed mind and there was nothing anyone could tell me that would, or could, change my mind.

Because I was right and I knew everything.

It turned out, much to my surprise, that I in fact did NOT have all the answers. That there actually were people out there who knew more than me. This realization made me feel like a fool.

I was worthless and stupid. The most worthless and the most stupid person on the planet. Of all time, living or dead. There was no one worse than me.

My ego had me thinking I was all or nothing. Never in the middle.

I was at the end of my journey. I had stopped learning. I had hit my bottom.

The good thing about hitting bottom is, there’s nowhere to go but up. Or die. I was so convinced I was so worthless that I couldn’t even possibly get suicide right so I chose to go up.

I chose life.

I chose to listen rather than speak.

I chose to open my mind.

I chose to learn all I could about how to improve my life.

And then I took action.

Every day I choose to expand my mind and explore views other than my own. I choose to be a worker among workers and a friend among friends rather than let my ego dictate that I should be at the top of the heap. Because I know that will just end up with me feeling like I’m at the bottom. Under the heap.

I choose learning over fear of the unknown. I accept and adapt to situations rather than force my will.

I choose joy and happiness over fear and anger. I choose gratitude over resentment.

What will I learn tomorrow?

~Thanks for reading
LC

Anger and Resentments… Gratitude

We’ve all been there..

So I just wrote the greatest masterpiece of my life. (not really) I’ve probably never written anything that great before and I probably never will again!  (sure I will) This is the one that will be considered the new standard in literary greatness! (yeah right)

Wait, what just happened… where did it go? What did I do? It was just here.. PLEASE tell me I saved it.. WHAT? I didn’t? I always do! NOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO!!!

It’s gone.. I got in the zone and didn’t save as I went.. How could this happen.. I spent almost an hour on this! I can’t do this again. I’M SO *%&#$@ MAD NOW!!!

First I was angry that all my work disappeared.

Second I got mad at myself for not saving my work. I even almost cried.

I was angry and resentful at my computer. Then at myself again. I called myself stupid and a lot of other names that I won’t repeat here.

In the past this would’ve ruined my whole day. Maybe even my whole week, but ever since I’ve been practicing gratitude, mindfulness, and deep breathing, and a spiritual program of recovery, I now have the tools to be able to let it go and learn from the experience.

I remembered something a dear friend of mine told me one time when I was going on and on feeling bad about myself and calling myself names. She said to me, “I’d appreciate it if you wouldn’t talk to my friend like that.” Her friend was me! I understood what she was saying and every time I start getting in that self deprecating mode I remember what she said to me.

Then I paused and thought about what had just happened and what I could learn from it.

Then I was grateful that I had that learning opportunity, one that will never need to be repeated.

I will sleep well tonight and not go to bed angry or hating myself. I am human. I made a mistake. No one died and the world didn’t end.

By practicing appreciation and gratitude for what I do have my mood quickly changed and I have re-centered myself.

It takes a lot of work but it gets easier with time and practice.

 

~Thanks for reading
LC

Humility, Why is it Important For a Healthful Life?

The Cambridge English Dictionary defines humility as the feeling or attitude that you have no special importance that makes you better than others; lack of pride.

When we can recognize other people’s value as well as our own while keeping our heads up, and we can achieve a practical recognition of our weaknesses as well as our strengths, we have achieved sincere humility.

AA has taught me a lot about humility in that I, in fact, had absolutely none when I thought I did. I have learned that humility is the opposite of self-righteousness, ego, pride, and self-esteem. While I feel it’s important to have a little bit of these qualities, humility helps keep them from getting out of control and helps to keep me “right-sized”.

Having some humility has helped me a lot in being able to go with the flow of life, rather than constantly trying to battle to get things to go my way. It makes no difference in the grande scheme of things whether or not my way is right or not. This was a very tough pill for me to swallow, but I was finally able to do it.

Humility keeps me human.

Humility has given me more freedom to enjoy life on life’s terms. Not mine. This in turn opens me up to be able to be more helpful to others, which in turn helps make my life better.

Humility has given me the ability to forgive myself for not being perfect and to be comfortable in my own skin. I’m also more forgiving of others which has helped heal and strengthen my relationships with other people. We are all here on this earth together. I’ve found that it’s much easier to get along with people in spite of our differences than it is to try to change other people to suit me.

Holding on to grudges and hate was slowly killing me. I see that now. Gratitude, forgiveness, appreciation, compassion, and acceptance serve me much better than excuses, blame, being mean spirited, holding a grudge, or being right just to be right ever did.

And I owe it all to humility.

 

~Thanks for reading – LC

Living Life on Life’s Terms – My New Reality

  1. I’m not an athlete anymore.
  2. I don’t have the picture perfect body of a model.
  3. I make mistakes every day.
  4. I don’t always eat right.
  5. Sometimes I talk too much.
  6. Sometimes I don’t talk enough.
  7. I’m not really smart.
  8. I’m not always comfortable with other people.

But… And…

  1. I’m active every day and exercise when I can.
  2. I’ve learned to accept my body.
  3. I learn from my mistakes.
  4. I eat healthy, but indulge myself from time to time.
  5. I compliment people and lift them up.
  6. If I don’t have anything nice to say, I keep my mouth shut.
  7. I’m always learning.
  8. I’m comfortable in my own skin.

 

No one can keep me down but me.

When I’m helpful and of service to other people, my life gets better.

When I stop fighting everything and everyone, and practice acceptance and gratitude, my life gets better.

When I give up control, I get set free.

I don’t have to be the best of the best to have a place in the world. I don’t have to be on top of the heap.

I don’t have to let life get me down, especially over things I can’t control. I don’t have to be at the bottom of the heap.

I can live my life, and be a worker among workers, and a friend among friends, right here in the middle of the heap.

The world goes on without me. It doesn’t need my negative input. I get an amazing sense of comfort and freedom in that realization.

My life has gotten better.

 

~Thanks for reading – LC

Bad Luck is a by-product of Bad Habits

Bad habits are hard to break and good habits are hard to form. At least this has been my experience…

Sometimes I get so busy and so overwhelmed I forget to do certain things that help get me set up for success in any given day.

My number one problem is starting out the day with a bad attitude, but if I do certain things when I wake up to set my attitude right for the day, my day goes so much better, even when things don’t go my way, or as planned.

*A great attitude becomes a great day, which becomes a great year, which becomes a great life.

Not sure where that quote came from but I read it daily as part of my morning routine to help set my mind right for the upcoming unknown.

Back when I was drinking heavily and hating everything and everyone around me, I had a lot of bad luck.

Because I didn’t write things down in my calendar, I would miss appointments for things that would help me.

Because I constantly fought the flow of life instead of going with it, I would become increasingly, and visually, frustrated and people didn’t want to be around me.

Because I wasn’t interested in anyone but myself I didn’t have anyone to go to when things got really bad. The only place I had to go was into my own head (which I discovered later is a very dangerous place for me to be).

Things would never go my way and life got really hard.  I lost jobs. I lost friends. I lost my will to live. I was never helpful to anyone else because I was obsessed with myself. I would run out of gas and have to walk because I wouldn’t get gas when I could. It was hard to get a job because I had a bad reputation. I would eat unhealthy food that made me feel like crap.

And none of this was ever MY fault…

I knew I had to make a change or I would be miserable until I died and I didn’t want that.

I started researching ways to improve my life and how to change bad habits. Just about everything I read said to quit drinking so I did. I also read a lot about having an attitude of gratitude and began writing 6-10 things every day that I’m grateful for. This practice has helped me immeasurably. I can be grateful for my job now even when I have a bad day there. And bad days get fewer and farther between.

Here’s what I do daily to get my head screwed on right:

  1. Practice gratitude:  I make a quick list of things I’m grateful for. I try to always include a few things that I sometimes take for granted that I don’t always think about every day. For example a reliable vehicle and power, water, and gas. I also include people, like my husband who puts up with my crap, real friends, and great co-workers who push me to be better.
  2. Plan my Day:   I sit down with my calendar and go over places I need to be at what time, and tasks that need to be done. Then I figure out what order to do everything in. This includes making time to do something that puts me closer to my long-term goals, to improve myself just a little bit every day.
  3. I ask my higher power for help:  I ask for help to keep my thoughts away from self-pity and self seeking motives. I ask for insight about any problems that may arise. I ask to remember to pause if I get upset instead of reacting immediately. I ask for guidance on how I can be helpful to to others and how I can pack as much as possible into the stream of life. I ask to be helped to be kind and loving to everyone I come in contact with.
  4. End of Day:  I review my day to see what went well and what didn’t. I take a moment to enjoy the good parts, and I think about solutions to the bad parts. If I owe an apology I do it as soon as possible. I ask for my fear to be removed and for help being better the next day.

 

The mind is a powerful thing. It can make or break a person. People consumed with negativity always have a bad day, no matter how well it’s going.

I don’t hang out with negative people anymore. They brought me down. I keep them at arm’s length now. My serenity depends on it. I’ve seen a positive person have a worse day than a negative person and end their day in a much better place. Those are the people I want to be around these days.

I don’t play the victim. I look for a solution.

I don’t look for sympathy. I help someone else out instead.

I try to be the listener, not the talker.

I try to be the giver, not the taker.

I know the rewards will come soon enough. If I can achieve peace within myself, I will never have a bad day.

I try not to put things off. Why put off til tomorrow what I can do today? I try to stay ahead of the game. I enjoy my down time so much more when I’m not worried about what I have to do later.

I’m not the person who complains and tries to make everyone as miserable as I am. I’m the one who lifts morale.

I don’t believe in luck anymore. I believe everything happens for a reason. I don’t  have to know what the reason is either. I just know that when I do these certain things, my days go better and my life improves a little bit more every day.

I do this, and good things happen to me.

 

“You can’t fully commit to your personal growth if you’re still committed to your bullshit.”  ~ Neghar Fonooni

~Thanks for reading – LC

Sunrises and Sunsets

I like sunrises better. They’re quieter.

A chance to meditate and plan the upcoming day.

A chance to reflect on the day before.

A chance to be grateful to see another day begin.

I like to ride my bike to the lake in the dark and see the sunrise. I like the mist and the morning dew. There’s little to no traffic. The loud assholes haven’t hit the roads yet.

Peaceful.

Serene.

The feeling that it’s a brand new day and you can mold it as you please.

Sunsets are cool too, but they’re not as quiet or comforting. There’s still traffic moving too fast, assholes blowing their horns like their time is more important than anyone else’s…

Not by the lake though.

There’s more foot traffic than at dawn, but still pretty peaceful.

A chance to reflect on the day.

What good did I do today?

What good shall I do tomorrow?

Sunsets are a time to unwind and begin to relax.

I like sunrises and sunsets. Especially at the lake.

I think I’ll ride there tomorrow for the sunrise.

Willingness

Lack of willingness held me back for so long I really don’t know how I made it this far. I always had to have my way in order to be happy, and I didn’t know how to live life on life’s terms. I had to live life on my terms. I didn’t know there was any other way. I wasted so much of my life trying to manipulate people and situations to suit my own agenda. I was constantly struggling and fighting against the flow instead of working with it.

I just wasn’t willing to do the right thing. I wasn’t willing to be helpful to others. I wasn’t willing to do what it would’ve taken to make my life better because I thought it would be easier to try and change everyone and everything else.

I was dead wrong.

After becoming so sick and tired of being frustrated and angry all the time, somehow I finally managed to find the willingness to begin to transform my sick and selfish mind. I became willing to live in joy, to love and be loved. I became willing to let people in and to let people help me. I didn’t fight anymore. I became willing to take suggestions. I became willing to take into account other people’s points of view.

I became willing to do the work it was going to take to turn my life around. It hasn’t been easy, but it’s been well worth it. And even though it hasn’t been easy, it’s been a whole lot easier than trying to fight and manipulate and argue my way through.

Before I could change my mindset, I had to become willing to change. I had to be willing to be honest with myself and others.

I had to become willing to do things I didn’t really want to do, but that I knew would good in the long run. I had to be willing to stop taking the easy way out to have things become easier in the long run.

I had to experience a lot of pain to get to the point of becoming willing. I caused a lot of pain too, and now I am willing to make amends for it.

I don’t know where I’d be right now if I hadn’t found the willingness to change, but I know it would be in a much darker, worse place than I am right now.

 

~Thanks for reading – LC

 

 

Appreciate What You Have

My life isn’t perfect by any stretch of the imagination, but I’ve learned to appreciate what I do have. When feelings of anger, hurt, frustration, discontent, or just general bad-will start to set in, I practice gratitude.

I also start out my day with a preemptive strike against bad thoughts by making a list of what I’m grateful for. I try not to take anything I have for granted; not even seemingly small things like my morning coffee, or electricity and gas for my home.

I appreciate that the sun rises every morning.

I appreciate that I can breathe.

I appreciate that I continue to wake up every morning.

I appreciate my friends and family.

The more I practice appreciation in what I have, as opposed to disappointment, anger, or jealousy towards what I don’t have, the easier my day goes and the less worry I have.

I’ve discovered life really is too short to sweat the small stuff and waste time being angry at things I have no control over. I’ve learned to accept rather than expect. And my peace of mind directly reflects my level of acceptance.

~Thanks for reading – LC

Higher Power – What it Means to Me

I’m not exactly what anyone would consider religious. I always thought I’d burst into flames if I ever went back into a church after childhood. As soon as my mom stopped forcing me to go, I was gone and never looked back. I don’t like the idea of any particular religion, and I definitely don’t want it forced on me.

I found it extremely hard to believe that any one religion has it “right” and that any any particular one “knows” anything for sure. So most of my adult life I shunned them all. I needed tangible proof and never got it, so I took the more scientific route over the spiritual one.

That got me drunk. For over 20 years.

Even though I didn’t believe in any particular religion’s idea of God, I always felt there was some kind of something out there that was a power greater than me. I just didn’t know what it was or how it worked. I still don’t know how it works, I just know that it does and it exists.

I know that if I ask my Higher Power for guidance or help, I will get it. It won’t always be obvious, it might come as intuition, or a stroke of luck, or a coincidence. But the more I practice getting in touch with my Higher Power, the better I get at understanding how it is helping me.

It won’t ever produce something tangible. That’s not how it works. I can’t ask it for a new car and **poof** a new car appears. It might not always be clear, but my Higher Power is always with me, working behind the scenes. It’s got my back and it helps guide me through life, as long as I remember to keep an open mind.

Every morning I ask my Higher Power for help through the day. I ask it to help keep me away from selfish thoughts and dishonesty. I ask it to help show me what the next step should be if problems arise. I take comfort in the fact that I know my Higher Power will never give me more than I can handle, even if it doesn’t seem so at the time. I ask it to help me remember to pause when I feel agitated, doubtful, or discontented, and to share with me the right thought or action to take.

I turn my will over to my Higher Power every day and tell myself I am no longer running the show. There was huge burden lifted off my shoulders when I finally turned my self-will over to the care of this power greater than me. My stress level has gone way down and I have more of a feeling of inner peace than I used to. I still get angry, but the feeling doesn’t last nearly as ling as it used to.

I also ask for my fear to be removed and my attention directed to what my Higher Power would have me be – helpful to other people. I ask it to help me be kind and loving to everyone. I’m not always kind and loving to everyone, but I keep practicing and my Higher Power helps me remember to try.

I was so stressed out and negative for close to two decades. I knew I had to make some major changes because the way I was living wasn’t working and I just couldn’t stand feeling that bad for one more second. I started by practicing gratitude every day. Every day I make a list of at least six things I’m grateful for, sometimes more. It helps me get my mindset right for the day.

I think everyone has their own Higher Power that is always with them, whether they choose to accept it or not. Good Orderly Direction. That’s how I think of God and my Higher Power. This power greater than me helps guide me through life with Good Orderly Direction, if I ask. I’m learning the difference between spirituality and religion. I practice contacting my Higher Power every day.

~Thanks for reading – LC

 

Benefits of Practicing Gratitude

My life got really unbearable. I couldn’t even leave the house without giving myself a pep talk every morning. My drinking was out of control and I was unbelievably depressed, sometimes for weeks at a time. I kept all this to myself. The person I conveyed to the world was not who I was on the inside. I was stuck in this vicious cycle of self-pity, self-defeating thoughts, and self-loathing behavior. I didn’t see the point in going on and wanted to die. And I wanted to be buried upside down so the whole world could kiss my ass.

I needed to shift my focus away from my own head. Being stuck in my own head is a very dangerous place for me to be. I needed a new way of thinking, an attitude adjustment…

I started practicing gratitude every morning. It’s the first thing I do (after making coffee, of course..). I write a list of a minimum of six things I’m grateful for.

Sometimes they’re the little things like coffee, or the sunrise.

Sometimes they’re things I take for granted at times like indoor plumbing, power, and reliable vehicles.

Sometimes they’re the most important things in my life like my wonderful husband who has stuck with me through thick and thin, or other people whom I love very much.

Starting out my day by writing down what I’m grateful for has made my life so much better, and it works almost instantly, almost every time. Because when you’re focused on things you’re grateful for, you can’t have feelings of resentment.

Also, when I’m making my list of intentions for the day, I leave out the “but”. Like, I don’t say, “I love so and so but…”

Including a “but” implies I don’t actually love so and so, which I do. So I just leave it out.

My disposition and my life improved immensely once I started practicing gratitude.

For more information on the subject check out Sonja Lyubomirsky’s “How to Practice Gratitude”.

You can do it. A little appreciation goes a long way. If you improve your life just a little bit each day, you will be amazed at the compounding effect of improvement, and at what comes back to you!

Invest in yourself, and be persistent!

~Thanks for reading – LC