Strong Body, Beautiful Body

Some say the body is a temple. Yet like the body, not all temples are the same.  Some are carved out of abandoned shopping centers, while others are magnificent structures designed to glorify the Deity it represents.

All temples began the same way. A dream and a vision, the clearing of ground, and then the work to build the structure. Once completed, it became a place of worship and spirituality.

It is a shame for a man to grow old without seeing the beauty and strength of which his body is capable.

Socrates

At forty-seven years of age, I still look in the mirror and imagine what my body can become. I can’t control my height, facial structure, or any of the odd features I was born with. Instead, I can only try to control the things within my power. I can make what I can control beautiful and strong. My temple holds my heart and my spirit. Therefore, I work to make it a worthy structure fit for a child of God. While on the earth, this body is the only I have, and I treat it with the reverence it deserves.

How is your temple coming along? It would be a shame to grow old and never be able to see the beauty and strength it is capable of achieving.


Feature photo by Jade Stephens on Unsplash.

Ambition and Perseverance

We are at Point A. This point is different for all of us. It could be horrible or just okay. But whatever it is, it is not Point B. Point B is where we really want to be. This is the green grass on the other side of the hill. And like our Point As, all our Point Bs are different.

To be successful in this life, we need a Point B. If we are going to get where we want to go, we must have an aim.  We need a coordinate to plug into our GPS. A map is good. It will show us the way to get where we want to go. However, a GPS is an upgrade that can give us a quicker route, keep us updated of traffic conditions, and let us know of any obstacles to avoid.  A GPS is real-time feedback.

A book will get you down the road, but can it compare to a good mentor?

If you are new to fitness and wanting to get in shape, imagine how much time a personal trainer can save you.

Ambition is the path to success. Persistence is the vehicle you arrive in.

Bill Bradley

Ambition is the path. It points to our intended destination. And persistence is a vehicle, albeit an incomplete one. Persistence is an unrelenting pursuit  from A to B. On a map, it would be as the crow flies. Instead of taking the road up the mountain with all the switchbacks and additional length, it is going straight up and through the cliffs, streams, and forest.

Persistence is when someone comes up with a possible solution to a task or problem and then stubbornly sticks to that process, regardless of whether it’s flawed or inefficient.

Rich Diviney, The Attributes: 25 Hidden Drivers of Optimal Performance

According to Diviney, persistence is one third of the more desirable attribute of perseverance. What are the other two?

Tenacity also means formulating a solution to a problem, but then constantly assessing its effectiveness.

Fortitude is the mental or emotional strength, or both, that allows a person to persevere.

Rich Diviney, The Attributes: 25 Hidden Drivers of Optimal Performance

Persistence is good, but it is not enough to get to where we want to go. We need tenacity when persistence won’t work. We need fortitude because life is a battle, and we must be able to endure the strains it puts upon us. To get to where we want to go, we need ambition and perseverance.


Feature photo by Tamas Tuzes-Katai on Unsplash

Just Say No

No. When I say it to my son, he gets upset. He doesn’t like it because his request is something he wants at the time. But what kind of parent would I be if I said yes every time?

People don’t like hearing the word no. They believe their request is reasonable. What they are asking is to their benefit. To tell them no is inconvenient for them.

It’s only by saying no that you can concentrate on the things that are really important. -Steve Jobs

Steve Jobs

If I am always saying yes, then I find an inability to get my own work done. It is difficult because I want to be nice. I want to be helpful. But doing so keeps me away from my goals, goals which are designed to benefit me and my family. I must learn to say no.

Maybe not for everything. Certainly not if I have nothing else going on.

Over the last few weeks, I have realized just how far behind I am. I had too many irons in the fire and was not making any progress on any of them. Would this have happened if I said no more often?

“No, I cannot watch your dogs, so you can have a spa day.”

“No, I can’t go to the winery for an afternoon of drinking and socializing.”

No. It is not that hard to say. I just need to get better at saying it.


Feature photo by Andy T on Unsplash

Today Is What Matters Most

What if there was a 70% chance you were going to die sometime at the end of the day? How would you go about your day? Would you approach it any differently?

Obviously, with a 70% chance, you couldn’t just throw it all in the wind, burn all your bridges, and go out with a bang. After all, there is still a 30% chance you would get to see the next day. But if you were given those odds, would you:

  • Spend a little more time the things that matter,
  • Hold your loved ones a little closer, or
  • Reflect a little more on the beautiful?

Each morning we are born again. What we do today is what matters most.

Buddha

This morning I am born again. I may still hear the echo of yesterday, but I can no longer change the sound. It is buried in the past. Tomorrow has not yet arrived. As a matter of fact, tomorrow may never come at all. With yesterday gone and tomorrow not guaranteed, all I have is today. All I have is this moment right now. I can affect this. I can do all the things I should have done yesterday. I can do all the things I hoped to leave for tomorrow. I can do this now as if my next breath were to be my last.


Feature photo by Priscilla Du Preez on Unsplash

Act in Accordance with Thinking

Consider these words from Alan Watts: A person who thinks all the time has nothing to think about except thoughts, so he loses touch with reality and lives in a world of illusions.

I’m a thinker. Not one of those ground-breaking scientists or a philosophical savant, but I do like to think. Maybe, a little too much. Maybe, even so much that I often have little to show for it.

I believed this was a good thing. Aren’t we supposed to use our heads, to be more thoughtful? The thinking part is easy. It requires little effort. Unfortunately, that’s where it goes wrong. If you want more than thoughts and live in the world of reality, then you must do something with all that thinking.

“By the sweat of your brow you will eat your food until you return to the ground…”

Genesis 3:19

The hard part is work. that requires effort. It requires movement and action. Often, manual labor is looked upon as base and work fit for only the unintelligent unable to use their heads. If asked, many would rather work in an office than on a factory floor. They would rather use a keyboard than a wrench.

Working in a factory, I have done jobs that have required minimal brain power. If you repeat a process enough times, it will soon become second nature. I loved this type of work because it was a form of escapism. My brain could wander free without having to concentrate on the task at hand. Maybe, it was because the thinking was the easy part. I could disconnect from the hard labor. But even so, there was still a disconnect. Something was still missing.

To think is easy. To act is hard. But the hardest thing in the world is to act in accordance with your thinking.

Johann Wolfgang von Goethe

To act in accordance with your thinking is something only a few can do. Imagine the possibilities if we could all do this.

Feature photo by Magnet.me on Unsplash

Contemplating Seneca #2: Perfected through Trials

The Cleaning Process

I watched as the blacksmith brought the blade to the grinder. He turned on the motor and touched the metal to the belt. A shower of sparks flew to the ground. As the smith worked, the metal in his hand began to shine. The imperfections on the surface slowly disappeared. What was once a raw chunk of steel transformed into a beautiful blade void of flaws.

Of course, this is not called the cleaning process, but that is what it reminded of. With heat and friction, the impurities were removed.

A gem cannot be polished without friction, nor a man perfected without trials. -Seneca

Gems mined from the earth do not look like the ones seen in the jewelry stores. They must be cut and then polished. If the impurities are not removed, then they won’t attain their higher value.

When we come into this earth, we are but uncut gems. To attain our highest value, we too must be refined. This can only happen through heat and friction. It can only happen through trials and testing. The beautiful phoenix only rises from the ashes. Like the phoenix, we too must rise from the challenges presented to us in this life.

For many of us, we live in a world full of abundance. We have more food, comfort, and security than the generations that went before us. Yet somehow, we have become weaker and more susceptible to disease. Our abundance has created more imperfections. And when the real trials come, the same trials man has faced since the beginning of time, how will we be able to overcome them? Will we be able to rise from the ashes?

We do not know what obstacles we will face in the future, but we can start preparing now. We can begin the cleaning process in our lives. We can search out our impurities and remove them. Today, I challenge you to consider your weaknesses. What are the things you don’t like to do because they make you feel uncomfortable? Is there something you can do today to help you overcome these issues? If you can create your own trials, you will be bettered prepared to face the real thing when the time comes. Friction and fire to create the shine and remove the impurities. Trials to bring you closer to perfection.


Feature photo by C D-X on Unsplash

What You Do

This is a continuation of the post: I Don’t Know It. If you haven’t read it yet, I invite you to do so.

From my earliest years, I have been on the hunt for wisdom. King Solomon said wisdom is calling us, and all we must do is heed the call (Proverbs 8). I took this literally. I also made the Book of Proverbs a staple in my daily reading. Initially, I believed there were two major keys to acquiring wisdom. First, you must collect as much knowledge as possible. Then, you must do your best to understand it. For most of my life, this was my modus operandi. Yet, something was lacking.

I thought the world would benefit from my vast stores of wisdom. I thought the masses would flock to me for guidance. Okay, maybe that is a bit of an exaggeration. However, I did believe I would be more valuable to the world if I wasn’t a complete fool. All I had was the wisdom found in books. A good thing no doubt, but wisdom is more than book smarts. It is more than theory. If I genuinely want to be wise, I must learn the practical application of wisdom. I must get out of the perpetual classroom that I am living in and get into the experimental aspects.

The world cares very little what you or I know, but it does care a great deal about what you or I do. -Booker T. Washington

Booker T. Washington

Action. It always comes down to action. Or in the case of wisdom, it comes down to application. And this is where I went wrong for the longest time. We know knowledge does us no good if we don’t understand it. And what is the purpose of knowledge and understanding if we don’t know how to use it? We can have a theory about what is in the great unknown, but it is not the same thing as actually venturing into the unknown. We must get out of the classroom and get into the world.


Feature photo by Tim Wildsmith on Unsplash

Happiness, not Amusement

Maybe, the crowd was not prepared for all the blood and the gore? Sure, that is why they came to the arena in the first place, but this? The fighter was too efficient, too merciless. They had never seen anything like this before. Instead of a scared and bumbling idiot with a weapon, they saw a warrior. They saw the Roman general Maximus Decimus Meridius.

Of course, the movie Gladiator is fiction, but it gives a glimpse of the lengths people go to in their search for amusement.

Amusement is a diversion from the ordinary. It is a get-away from reality. The world spends around 2 trillion dollars a year in entertainment. It has become something we are constantly seeking. And if we are in a perpetual state of amusement, we don’t have to face reality. We don’t have to confront the hard things in life.

Escapism. That is what we are looking for. We want the release of dopamine derived from watching sports, movies, and social media. We want the excitement, and we will go to great lengths to get it. Even though we know it is fleeting, we will still look for it. And when the buzz is no longer sufficient, we will continue down the path even if it means we must find a harder drug.

Happiness is not found in amusement.

Aristotle

Unlike amusement, happiness doesn’t have to be fleeting. Instead, it can be a state of being. You can find happiness in the mundane. You can find it in doing a day’s labor. You don’t have to go to greater and greater extremes to find happiness. You can just be happy. It is in your mind. It is in your perception.


Photo by Ben White on Unsplash

Plan Before You Start

For years, this was me. Maybe, it was you too…

The alarm goes off and the motions began. Snooze. Snooze again. Get up. Get ready for work. Go. Work, then lunch. Work, then home. Dinner. Television. Sleep. Repeat.

Not counting school, this was about 70% of my life for over two decades. If you take a moment to think about it, then you would realize that it was not much of a life. And just imagine the conversation on Judgment Day:

“What did you do with the life I gave you,” God asked.

“Well,” I stammered, “I worked, I slept, and I watched TV.”

“You are My son. I made you in My image. I gave you life. And this was your gratitude? You took My gift and buried it in the ground like an unfaithful servant.”

Here I have no response and can only hang my head in shame.

“Let me show an image. This is you, the person I made, with all your potential and all your gifts. You could have been this person. This is the person you were supposed to be. I didn’t put you on earth only to work, sleep, and watch TV.”

Don’t begin the activities of the day until you know exactly what you plan to accomplish. Don’t start your day until you have it planned.

Jim Rohn

It is easy to get caught in the trap of the same routine. It is a cycle that left unchecked could continue through the decades. And in the end, you would little to show for it. How do you end this pattern and become who you were meant to be?

Start with a plan

It really is that simple. Oh yes, you must execute it, but it starts with a plan. And if you start every day with a plan, you give yourself direction. You give yourself meaning.

But what happens if you can’t complete your daily plan? Then add it to the next day. Eventually, you will complete it or get tired of writing down the same thing every day.

Each day is a fresh start. Plan. Execute. Win. Become the person you were intended you to be.


Feature photo by Brett Jordan on Unsplash

Life is a Chain

In a team setting, the analogy of a chain is often used. If the team is only as good as its weakest link, then it is your job to not be the weak link. In addition, you are also responsible for helping the weak links become stronger. This obviously helps the team.

A chain is no stronger than its weakest link, and life is after all a chain.

William James

This chain analogy is applicable to more than teams. It also holds true on the individual level. If your life is a chain, what are your weak links? In what areas do you have opportunity to become stronger?

Look at your social, professional, and personal life and identify areas that can be improved. If the enemy, both the real and imagined enemies, is looking to exploit your weaknesses, then you should be identifying these areas and securing your defenses.

I have identified several weaknesses in my own life. Some of these, I have known about for some time and have been actively trying to fortify them. Other areas, such as financial investments, are known weaknesses that I have been hesitant to address. Last week, this weakness made itself known when I realized my knowledge and understanding in this area was insufficient. Not wanting to be solely reliant on the advice of the “experts.” I decided to take a deep dive into this subject and become more knowledgeable. I may never become an expert, but at least I will have a better understanding of where to put my money.

What is my goal? Identify the weak links and strengthen them. Why? Because life is after all is a chain.


Feature photo by Eyasu Etsub on Unsplash