Thoughts Corresponding with Desire

Call it the Law of Attraction, the manifestation of desire, or simply faith. When it is set firmly in the mind, when the thoughts all but consume one’s soul, then it is only a matter of time before it becomes reality.

Our destiny changes with our thoughts; we shall become what we wish to become, do what we wish to do, when our habitual thoughts correspond with our desires.

Orison Swett Marden

I have no doubt this is true, but it has not always worked for me. Does it make it less true? Of course not. Then what went wrong? I failed to stay true to the course. Instead of one singular purpose fixed continuously in my mind, I deviated. I floated from one to the other and then to many more. I became a hobbyist dabbling in a multitude rather than an expert in the one. What good is faith in an undisciplined mind?

Now is the time to go back to the plan. I don’t need to rewrite it; I just need to execute it. I was not designed to be a multi-tasker, so I must stop pretending to be one. One focus, one task firmly and habitually set in my mind. That is enough to set the wheels in motion to becoming that which I desire.


Feature photo by Danica Tanjutco on Unsplash

Poor Trade-Offs

The man was tired. All day long, he had been working in his father’s fields. It was no easy chore, but as the oldest son, one day those fields would be his. The labor he performed on that day was well worth the reward he would have in the future.

When he got home, his brother, who had not been working in the fields, was in the kitchen making dinner. It was a stew prepared with lentils and fresh meat. The aroma from the stew and the fresh-baked bread was enough to drive the older son crazy. He asked his brother for some. The brother said yes on one condition: trade your birthright for the dinner. The older brother pleaded with him. He said if he didn’t eat soon, he was going to die. The younger sibling didn’t budge. Finally, the deal was made. For Jacob’s stew, Esau filled his belly and gave away his inheritance (Genesis 25:29-34).

For one morsel of food, he sold his birthright. -Hebrews 12:16

How many remember this story? Who could be so desperate to do such a thing? Esau’s father, Isaac, was probably one of the wealthiest in the area. Esau could have gone somewhere else to get food. He could have waited a little longer and made his own supper. But instead of holding out for the greater reward of his inheritance, he traded it away for the immediate gratification of filling his belly.

What a fool! And yet, how many times in my life have I done the same thing? How many times have I traded a better future for something insignificant? I call Esau a fool. I read the story as a kid. I knew what it was about. I did the same thing. Not once, but too many times to count. Who is the fool now?

True happiness…is not attained through self-gratification, but fidelity to a worthy purpose.

Helen Keller

Loyalty to a purpose. It is rather simple. The journey is not all interstate and smooth sailing. There are dirt roads and treacherous paths. The stops along the way are not designed to help us reach our destination. Instead, they are strategically placed to get us to stop, to stay. As enticing as they seem, would it not be better to keep on going?

Feature art: Esau Sold Jacob his Birthright and the Mess of Pottage by Matthias Stom

Destiny Found in Consistency

I am a big believer in destiny. I have faith that if I really go after something, then I can attain it. It is not a matter of if but a matter of when.

Take writing for example. There are some works that my soul has called me to write, yet they haven’t been completed. I believe they will get done in the future when the time is right (if I am fortunate enough to get to the future). Some may call this a fantasy, that I am living in a fairy tale. And if I was so remiss as to say, “I will get around to it someday,” then those naysayers would be correct. But what they don’t see is what I do daily. These stories are continuously in my mind. And every day, I work toward that end doing the research and honing my writing skills.

A consistent man believes in destiny, a capricious man in chance.

Benjamin Disraeli

There is a chance that these stories will never get written. I could die, become ill, or face some other tragedy. Those are all real possibilities. But writing what my soul has called me to write is no random toss of the dice. Maybe I will get lucky, and they become best sellers inspiring the masses. I hope it does, but that is not my motivation. I write because my soul tells me to write. This, I do every day. If I didn’t, I would not be listening to my heart. In the end, I will have accumulated quite a massive body of work. This I believe is destiny, but it can only be achieved through consistency.


Feature photo by Yannick Pulver on Unsplash

The Supreme Master of Art

We are each given a canvas at birth. The way we spend our days, each individual action, and every decision, is a brush stroke. The opportunities are before us. We can create masterpieces of beauty or brutish scenes of vulgarity. We can actively splash bright and vivid colors into our works or sit back and allow the muted grays and browns of the dullest nature to seep in.  Whether conscious or unconscious, we choose what to paint. We are the masters of our canvases, and the ones responsible for their completion.

But it doesn’t always seem that is the case. We are often our own worst enemies. We feel we have been given an infinite amount of time to complete our work. We push it off onto another day and choose leisure and recreation instead. Rather than tending to the garden of our lives, we allow the weeds to grow and choke out that which was once beautiful. However, we are still the masters of our works and our assignments due upon death, whether we feel we have completed them or not. Here, we must control the things that are in our control.

And yet sometimes, we encounter the things that are not in our control. We can allow these outside influences to halt the progress of our paintings, but that should not be the case. Each obstacle adds a new layer of complexity, and how we deal with it is the texture we add to the canvas. We can’t control the obstacles in our path, but we can control how we respond to them and how we can navigate them.

Only in man’s imagination does every truth find an effective and undeniable existence. Imagination, not invention, is the supreme Master of Art, as of life.

Joseph Conrad

Imagination. This is the supreme Master of Art. Albert Einstein said, “Logic will get you from A to B. Imagination will take you everywhere.” If we can dream it, we can achieve it. And if we can achieve it, then we truly become the artists we were meant to be.


Feature photo by Rifqi Ali Ridho on Unsplash

Examining Epictetus #29: Working on Yourself Daily

The only way to achieve real growth and progress is to work on yourself daily. It is often boring. It is slow and steady work. There will be no monumental gains from day to day. Rather, the growth is incremental.

Look for opportunities in each day. What can you subtract from your life? What can you add in its place that will take you to the next level? Analyze. Adjust. Reflect. Refine. Make your habits serve you. Become the master of your own destiny through constant and relentless work. Do this daily, and you will be surprised at what you become.

Progress is not achieved by luck or accident, but by working on yourself daily. -Epictetus

Feature photo by Gaelle Marcel on Unsplash

Happiness and Flow

There are some days where flow seems impossible. A sporadic mind, a cell phone designed to distract and interrupt, and countless other trivialities spring up. Those days are difficult. Items need to get checked off the list, but the boxes remain blank. It is easy to get frustrated when this happens. It is easy to blame the universe and those within it for destroying your chances of productivity. Such an unhappy state!

But then, there are the other days. There are days when you are gifted with a laser-like focus. You are in the zone, and you got the flow. You don’t need the coffee and its stimulating effects because what you got within is more than enough. Those days are the best. Pure bliss!

Happiness is a good flow of life.

Zeno

If you want to be happy, you must find the flow. Whatever that flow is, doesn’t matter. It is your flow. All you must do is get on and enjoy the ride.

This state is available to all of us. You can find it in a day, or it might take you a lifetime. Such is the quest for happiness. You define it, then you pursue it, and hopefully, finally, you find it. You will meet it on your own terms when you are ready.


Feature photo by Peter Conlan on Unsplash

I Am

I listened to a guided meditation this morning and one of the key things I heard was the sentence, “I am.” It is short and simple with no attachments to it. It is a state of being in the present. No “I will be” or “I was,” only “I am.”

Too often I have been in the past or in the future. Too often, the question has been, “What have I done?” or “What will I do?” I have allowed these questions and those thoughts to take over and consume my mind. Regarding the future and my own arrogance concerning it, I have boasted of the things I am going to do. But no man can see the future, least of all me. Who am I to divine the things to come? Unable to change the past or control the future, I can only influence the present.

Rather than say, “What am I going to do in the future,” I should ask myself, “What can I do right now?” I can create a body of work that my future self will be both content with and better off because of. But this is only possible if I remain in the present, only in the “I am.”


Photo by David Brooke Martin on Unsplash

Beware the Stories

The stories you read. Do they nourish your mind? Are they only entertainment, something to help pass the time?

Back up in my Army days, I picked up the book Gone with the Wind by Margaret Mitchell. I knew little about the book at the time, except that it was a classic. I decided to read it. About halfway through the book something strange started to happen. The novel started influencing my dreams. I found myself conversing with the characters and trying to cope with the not-so-pleasant times. It might not have been the first time I dreamt about a book I was reading, but it was the most vivid time.

The stories you tell. What about the stories you tell whether it is to yourself or to others? Are they helpful, or are they a hindrance? If you lie to yourself enough times, soon you will believe it. If you encourage a capable person, leading them to believe they can do a task, they too in time will believe they can do it.

Beware the stories you read or tell; subtly, at night, beneath the waters of consciousness, they are altering your world.

Ben Okri

One of my favorite computer programming terms is GIGO (garbage in, garbage out). If you put in bad coding, you are going to get a program that does not work the way you intend it. The amazing thing about GIGO is that it works in so many other aspects of our lives. Eat a bunch of garbage and what happens? Either that garbage will come out or it will influence you in a way you never intended. Garbage work results in low quality products and a business model that will not last exceptionally long. And what you read and the stories you tell, if they are garbage, will imprint themselves into your very being and eventually find ways to come out. Garbage in, garbage out.

Thankfully, the opposite is true. Allow good things to come into your life, and in time, good things will be flowing from you. If you eat good food, your body will respond in a better way. If you produce quality work, others will notice and reward you for it. If you read the quality stuff, consume the right media, and tell the good stories, it will permeate your mind and your soul. Thomas Edison said, “Never go to bed without a request to your subconscious.” You could literally make that request right before you go to bed, but the reality is that you make that you make those requests throughout the day through the things you consume. This is how you engineer your tomorrow. Good stuff in today, good stuff out tomorrow.


Feature photo by Micheile Henderson on Unsplash

Develop Yourself for the Opportunities

Little League Football. It was easy. I was good. I started on both sides of the ball and played every down. The competition wasn’t that great. I didn’t have to try very hard to be successful.

Junior High School Football. I sat on the bench and watched the older kids played. I played a little on the Junior Varsity squad. I was not good and did not know why. Maybe it was an age thing.

High School Football. I saw more playing time as I got older. Well, at least if I could stay healthy. My first three seasons ended with mid-season-ending injuries. But my senior year, I finally stayed healthy and finished with all-conference honors. Despite that, I know I could have done better. I gave it everything I had from August to November. Outside of those four months, I concentrated on other things. I wasn’t dedicated to improving my fitness or my diet. Instead of exponential growth, I had normal growth on par with the average teenage boy.

Football turns out to be an excellent analogy for the first forty years of my life. There were hints of the spectacular sprinkled in with the mostly average. I did what I had to do to scrape by but never took the time and effort to develop beyond that. But after forty or so years on intermittent sleeping, I finally woke up and realized I had to do a better job. I had to slow down on the reading of fiction, had to watch less television, and most importantly had to waste less time. I had to start living like every day could be my last, because we do not know what the future will bring, and every day could really be our last. I had to get busy with life’s purpose and that meant, I had to start working on my own development.

Your level of success will seldom exceed your level of personal development, because success is something you attract by the person you become.

Jim Rohn

I cannot count how many opportunities have passed me by. Why did they go by? I wasn’t ready for them. I didn’t have the qualifications. Things I could have easily taken the time to do but never did. And for all the opportunities that I saw, how many did I never see because they were too far out of my realm of possibility?

But then when I woke up out of this mundane stupor of going through the motions of life, when I got busy with life’s purpose, I noticed a change. Opportunities started presenting themselves that I never even considered. Possibilities began to sprout that were never even a consideration before. All because I raised my level of self-development.

How can you raise your level of self-development? Do a little more each day to improve your body, mind, and soul. Rome wasn’t built in a day and neither was any of us. It might not be possible to turn the tide of our life in one day. But in one day, you could move the needle towards a little more progress. Start small. Steady, incremental change performed every day will become monumental over the years. The possibilities will be endless. Opportunities will come to you that you never imagined.


Feature photo by Ben Hershey on Unsplash

The Shortcut Is not the Way

When I was younger, I thought the shortcut was the way. In High School, I loved reading Muscle and Fitness. From the pages of those magazines, I was drawn to the one magic exercise for accelerated growth. I was intrigued by the miraculous supplement guaranteeing a 300% increase in fat loss. There was some real substance in those editions, but it was the fluff that captured my attention.

What I learned (eventually) was that taking the magic and the miraculous never worked for me. There was only one way to get stronger and leaner. I had the do the work. And the work was not a shortcut, it was an incremental daily improvement mixed with the right nutrition.

The lure of quick success was not limited only to the fitness magazines. I was also intrigued by the infomercials promising a way to get rich quick. They were most appealing when I was in between jobs or at a job I didn’t prefer. I am glad I never broke down and paid for the $1000 secrets that would guarantee me millions, but the temptation was there. But what if I missed out on the golden opportunities? I’m fine with that. If I were in my twenties with millions to burn, there is a good chance I would not have become the man I am today.

We must remember that it is a long process to get where we want to be in life. It is a journey that we may never finish. But we must not be in a hurry to get through it. It is a process that makes us better individuals. By rushing through it, we miss the opportunity to add depth, quality, and texture to our personal evolutions. C.S. Lewis said it wasn’t the load that breaks us down, it is the way we carry it. Likewise, it is not the destination that matters, but who we become along the way. No shortcuts to any place worth going. Those words from Beverly Sills hit the mark. Take the long way. You won’t regret it.