Finding Love

“Nobody loves me!”

How many times have you heard someone say that? How many times have you felt that way in your own life? The feeling of not being loved weighs deeply on the mind. It brings on feelings of moroseness, frustration, and depression. Everybody wants to be loved. And when you don’t feel it, the emptiness within grows and eats away at your very being.

The truth is that most people are loved. Maybe they haven’t found that special someone to spend the rest of their lives with yet, but they are still loved by others in their network. The problem is they don’t recognize it. They do not feel as if they are loved. And the words, “nobody loves me,” is usually expressed to those they trust, to those that do love them.

And in the off chance that nobody really loves them, they must ask themselves why. Why does nobody love them? Hopefully, the answer to that question leads to more questions. Hopefully, it leads back to the one asking it. With a little digging we can find out the reason. We can get to the root of the problem and find ways to correct them.

If you would be loved, love.

Hecato of Rhodes

This is maxim that stretches back through the ages. If you want to be loved, you must be willing to love first. We must go beyond the selfish mindset of “nobody loves me.” We must first learn to love and freely give our time and devotion to that pursuit. If we want to receive, me must give.

Standing on the Shoulders of Giants

We have grown up with tales of giants. Cultures around the world claim they once existed. And even today, tales of hidden giants and their remains surface in the media. Did they exist? Are they still out there?

I have never seen a giant, nor have I seen firsthand their skeletons. I have seen structures that look like they may have been built by giants, but who can say for sure? And though literature throughout the ages have covered their existence, I have never read anything written by an actual giant.

If I have seen a little further it is by standing on the shoulders of giants.

Sir Isaac Newton

Newton gives credit to the giants whose shoulders he stood upon. Who were they? Was it Goliath, Loki, or the big man living at the top of the beanstalk? No. Newton’s giants were of ordinary stature but of extraordinary talent. His list of giants included Aristotle, Descartes, Galileo, and Kepler. In time, Newton himself became a giant upon whose shoulders others stood upon. And if I want to see farther, whose shoulders will I stand on? Of course, I have my own giants that I look to, individuals who have lived exemplary lives leaving behind works and words that have survived the ages. By studying them, I can stand on their shoulders and see a little farther. Who knows, there may even come a day when others may be able to stand upon my shoulders to increase their vision. I don’t want to let them down or cause them to not see  as far as they can.

To stand upon the shoulders of the greats who have come before us is a privilege that can only come through a lifetime of learning and personal growth. It is available to all who wish to see a little farther.

Examining Epictetus #33: Trials, Character Development, and the Way

Trials

It doesn’t matter what it is. When I see my son struggle in any endeavor, I feel bad for him. I wish he didn’t have to go through the ordeal. I wish it was easier for him.

Don’t wish it were easier, wish you were better. Don’t wish for less problems, wish for more skills. Don’t wish for less challenge, wish for more wisdom.

Jim Rohn

This wish for him is a very tiny wish, and it only lasts for a few seconds. Reality quickly sets in, and my moment of weakness is gone. As a father, it is not my job to remove his obstacles. Instead, it is my job to make sure he goes through them and to help him navigate them to the best of his abilities. I hate it when he loses, but the losing is necessary. Better to lose now and learn from the experience than to learn it hard way later in life. It is preferable to lose a game or fail a test now than to do so when the stakes are higher. Learning the lessons from his trials puts him on a path to winning (consistently) in the future.

The trials we go through expose our weaknesses. They show us where we need to improve. They create the path to strengths we never knew possible.

Character Development

One of the greatest joys in life is accomplishing a difficult goal. Thoreau said, “What you get by achieving your goals is not as important as what you become by achieving your goals .” Our destination is important. Even more important is who we become along the way. This journey is critical to the development of our character.

This is the ultimate game. It is one that is dear to our hearts. Cheating or cutting corners in our personal endeavors diminishes our returns. Short-sighted and shallow goals will do us no good. We cannot play small in a game void of consequences. Doing so provides no benefits.

We must be willing to play big if we want the lucrative rewards that comes from both the process and accomplishment.

The Way

How do we go big and win? We put it all on the line. Look at the winners around us. Championship teams don’t hoist the trophy by luck. Gold medalists  don’t get to the podium by happenstance. They make their goals, and then they fully immerse themselves in the quest. They make it their top priority.

This is the way. We must make it the most important thing in our lives. We can either make our journey into a reality, or we can keep it as a wish.

Give yourself fully to your endeavors. Decide to construct your character through excellent actions and determine to pay the price of a worthy goal. The trials you encounter will introduce you to your strengths.

Epictetus

Give 100%. Develop your character like it is your birth right. Find your strengths.

Proverbs 18:15 The Heart and the Ear

Aristotle said, “Educating the mind without educating the heart is no education at all.”  Can you really learn anything if your heart is not in it? Your mind can want it, but it is your heart that provides the motion. To be properly educated, get your heart into it.

“When you talk,” said the Dalai Lama, “you are repeating something you already know. But if you listen, you may learn something new.” If you want to learn something new, you must listen.

The heart of the prudent acquires knowledge, and the ear of the wise seeks knowledge.

Proverbs 18:15

A Step of Faith

What is faith? Is it not believing in someone or something even if you can’t see it? I don’t think about the air I breathe. I never consider if it has the right mixture of gases. Breathing is a natural function, and I have faith that my body will be able to use the air it takes in.

Blind faith is different and often dangerous. Whether it is an over-confidence in one’s abilities or a disconnect from the reality of one’s circumstances, blind faith can be disastrous. Eating an unknown mushroom can result in negative consequences up to and including death. Walking in complete darkness can have similar results. if you are going to have faith, blind faith is not the one you want to have.

Faith is taking the first step even when you don’t see the whole staircase.

Martin Luther King, Jr.

I love these words from Dr. King. I see the staircase in front of me. I know that what I want is at the top even if I don’t completely understand the full value of what is up there. My only choices are to stay in place or take the first step. The consequences of not moving are more dangerous than the action of taking the step. Action begets action. One step leads to another. I have faith that my legs and heart will get me to the top. This is faith. It is not blind faith, but faith in the process of doing what I was put one this earth to do. It begins with the action. Therefore, I must go.

Confidence for the Win

Merriam-Webster

Belief in one’s own abilities. How do you get this belief? Hone your abilities. Practice. The speaker that lacks confidence is lacking in practice and experience. The singer that didn’t memorize the words to the song will lack the confidence to perform on the stage.

Why is my son not a better wrestler? It is not because of physical ability. It is because he lacks confidence. How so? He is a novice. He only knows a few techniques and has yet to master them. His teammates and opponents have more years of experience. They have a larger arsenal of techniques and moves at their disposal. They have spent more time practicing. But as Alec gets more time on the mat, as he grows in experience and continues to practice, his confidence will improve. He will become a better wrestler.

If you don’t have confidence, you’ll always find a way not to win.

Carl Lewis

Winning and winning consistently is a product of confidence. It is a product of a belief in your abilities. That belief comes through practice, which in time will lead to mastery.

Contemplating Seneca #25 On Written Goals

Our plans miscarry because they have no aim. When you don’t know what harbor you’re aiming for, no wind is the right wind.

Seneca

Whether it is at the beginning of the year, at the end, or somewhere in between, the act of creating goals is one of the great separators between the high-performers and the rest of the field. It doesn’t matter your age or station in life. If you want to get ahead, it starts with goals. Obviously, that is not enough. It is only a starting point. Keep in mind these words from Sir Francis Drake: There must be a beginning to any great matter – But the continuing unto to the end, until it be thoroughly finished, yields the true glory.

So, you have yourself a goal to get better at something that is holding you back. Accomplishing this goal will understandably change your life. What should be the first step?

The act of writing down your goals has stunning benefits. Check out these words from Keith Ferrazzi in his book Never Eat Alone and Other Secrets to Success, One Relationship at a Time:

As my dad used to say, no one becomes an astronaut by accident. Luck has little to do with achievement, as a study cited in Success magazine makes clear. In the study, researchers asked Yale’s class of 1953 a number of questions. Three had to do with goals:

-Have you set goals?

-Have you written them down?

-Do you have a plan to accomplish them?

It turned out that only 3 percent of the Yale class had written down their goals, with a plan of action to achieve them. Thirteen percent had goals but had not written them down. Fully 84 percent had no specific goals at all, other than to “enjoy themselves.” In 1973, when the same class was resurveyed, the differences between the goal setters and everyone else were stunning. The 13 percent who had goals that were not in writing were earning, on average, twice as much as the 84 percent of students who had no goals at all. But most surprising of all, the 3 percent who had written their goals down were earning, on average, ten times as much as the other 97 percent of graduates combined!

Writing down your goals could put you in the top 3%. That is an elite level. Being in the top 3% in any sport would almost guarantee an induction into a Hall of Fame. In any business sector, a top 3 percenter goes together with being a top earner. Imagine being at the top of the list of authors, entrepreneurs, or leaders. How about being a top 3% father or mother? Natural talent will only get a person so far. The rest is a combination of smart work and hard work. if we want our plans to bear fruit, we must have an aiming point.

Time to get smart,

Or rather it is time to develop some S.M.A.R.T. goals.

SMART Goals: Definitions and Examples

On a piece of paper, write down what you want your goal to be. Then define it using the S.M.A.R.T. method. When you are done, hang it up or put it somewhere that will serve as a daily reminder. Congratulations! You now have a higher probability of achieving your goal. Your chances of success have just increased exponentially.

To do more for the world than the world does for you—that is success.

Henry Ford

Personal goals are fantastic for getting you from point A to point B. However, personal goals only serve the individual making the goal. Altruistic goals on the other hand, benefit not only the goal creator but others. If we are truly interested in finding success, we must consider goals that do more for others than ourselves.

My Dirty Doorstep

There is one that I love like a brother. However, he is almost the exact opposite in personality, communication, and demeanor. As much as I love him, there are times I don’t want to be around him. It is simply too stressful.

Whenever this person does something, I am quick to complain to the others in our mutual circle. My complaining may start off with the latest perceived infraction, but inevitably it will extend to all the previous faults that still bother me today.

Don’t complain about the snow on your neighbor’s roof, when your own doorstep is unclean.

Confucius

I am far from perfect. I am stubborn, arrogant, and often sarcastic at the wrong moments. I can be petty, selfish, and unempathetic. For all my good qualities, the bad ones are just as prevalent and probably more noticeable to my friends and family. These are areas that need some serious work but are also ones that I do not like having pointed out to me by others.

All day long I can complain about the snow on my neighbor’s roof. Yes, that roof is a problem, but it is not my problem. I cannot control my neighbor’s actions, their roof, or the weather that brought the snow. The only thing I can control are my actions and my attitude. Marcus Aurelius said I should be tolerant with others and strict with myself. If I was doing what I was supposed to be doing, such as cleaning the mess on my doorstep, I would have no time to complain about the snow on my neighbor’s roof. I would have no time to complain about my friend’s problems.

If thy brother wrongs thee, remember not so much his wrong-doing, but more than ever that he is thy brother.

Epictetus

Patience is what I need when I am around my friend. His issues and the way he deals with them are his own best practice. And if it works for him, then I need to be less critical. I am not going to change this person, but I can love him for all the good qualities that makes him my friend. And if it rubs me the wrong way, then that is my problem. It is a problem with my perception and attitude, a problem that I need to correct.

We, the Sculptors

Candi Sambisari

In 2003, I saw my first Hindu temple in Indonesia. From the horizon, I couldn’t see anything. But standing at the edge of the complex, I could look down and see the whole structure. It looked like the builders created it from top to bottom, excavating and carving the solid stone beneath their feet. I was amazed at the beauty and complexity. I was amazed at the genius of the designer.

I have always loved looking at the old marble statues of antiquity. I can’t imagine the foresight and skill it took for Michelangelo to create his David from a solid block of marble that he chiseled away until he completed the image from his mind. The temple at Sambisari was no different only on a much larger scale.

Sculpture by Escultor Victor Hugo Yañez Piña

Many of us have seen the above image. Personally, I find it to be one of the most powerful impressions of what is possible. From the beginning, we see a misshapen lump of mass. Yet in the mind’s eye of the man inside is a vision of what could be. it is a vision so clear and so vivid to him. Tirelessly, he carves away the parts of him that is neither desired nor needed. This he will do until he can achieve the image he desires.

This has been my own personal vision for myself. In the beginning of my fitness journey, I was holding onto a large amount of undesirable mass. However, in my mind, I had a vision of something entirely different. Therefore, I began to shape and chisel away. I am not where I want to be yet, but I am working on it. Someday, I will finish this sculpture.

We are all sculptors and painters, and our material is our own flesh and blood and bones.

Henry David Thoreau

We have all heard that our body is a temple. To build that temple, we must imagine what the final product will look like. Once we have a vision, we can make the plans and then do the work. It is up to us to decide how spectacular and beautiful we want it to be. We are the sculptors.

Another Night with the Frogs

2010. For the first time in over 14 years, I was jobless. The first month of unemployment, I was okay only a little worried. I had a good resumé and thought I was highly employable. As the days, then months, went by I became more worried. Relationships, especially my marriage, were strained. Depression set in and even the desire to go out and look for a job went away. By the end of year, I watched the days fade away as I sat doing nothing. I kept telling myself that tomorrow would be a better day. I would be more proactive and do what needed to be done.

When tomorrow came, I did as the day before and the days before that. Nothing. But oh, there was always another tomorrow, another chance to do better.

Then Pharoah summoned Moses and Aaron and said, “Pray to the Lord your God to remove the frogs from me and my people, and I will let the people go to sacrifice to the Lord.

Moses answered Pharoah, “Please designate for me the time when I am to pray for you and your servants and your people, to get rid of the frogs from you and your houses. They will be left only in the Nile.

“Tomorrow,” he said. Then Moses replied, “It will be as you said, so that you may know that there is none like the Lord, our God.”

Exodus 8:4-6

I listened to this passage from Exodus on The Bible in a Year Podcast with Father Mike Schmitz. After the reading, Fr. Mike pointed out one key word: tomorrow. Pharoah was suffering. The frogs were everywhere. When Moses asked Pharoah when he wanted the frogs gone, Pharoah said tomorrow. Why not immediately? Why suffer another day with the frogs? Why spend another night with frogs crawling around in your bed? And like Pharoah, why do we continue with our suffering another day if we could remove it today?

January 2022. I wanted to begin the year just as I left off in 2021. Study hard, finish the gym I am building, and continue the home improvements. Instead, I got Covid. For about two weeks, I laid around doing nothing. Just sitting outside in the sun or taking a walk to the mailbox wore me out. There is so much I needed to get done, but I had no ability to do it. As much as I hated to say it, I was praying for a better tomorrow. Oh Lord, not this again!

As the illness faded and clarity was coming back to my mind, a glimmer of hope began to surface. I was reminded of the importance of time. Never again did I want to tell myself I could do something tomorrow if it was possible to do it today. What matters is today; tomorrow is not guaranteed.

Have you ever been there? When it comes to fitness, nutrition, alcohol, or starting a new venture? Did you ever choose to continue suffering today in the hopes of alleviating it tomorrow? Why spend another night with the frogs when you could make it all go away today?