Monday, April 29, 2013

What Would Jesus Do?

A year or so ago I decided I wanted to finally read the Bible. I’m not religious. In fact, for most of my life I’ve been atheist or agnostic. But here’s how I’ve decided to explain myself to those who are super religious: I believe in living by the word of God and the teachings of Jesus, I just don’t necessarily believe in them.

Oh boy… this post has gotten controversial!

I just wanted to straighten that out to begin with, because this post might actually sound like I AM religious. Going through my thoughts and beliefs on all that would have to be a separate post (or even a blog), so I’m going to skip that for now.

I wanted to read the Bible for several reasons. It is a very important piece of literature. It is a very important work of philosophy. It would benefit me to read it such that I know what I’m talking about when I get into conversations and debates about it. Plus I’m just intrigued and curious. I’m pointing that out now because I have not actually finished reading it, so I don’t know what all is in there and what to quote. It’s just a disclaimer.

So here’s what I’ve been thinking, and if you are religious, stay with me for a second. We could all be Jesus. We could all live our lives from a place of pure love and compassion. We just choose not to. Jesus, whether a great man, the Son of God, or a myth, was pure Love. We all have that inside of us, it is just covered up. We all have a choice every single day to choose Fear or Love. We can choose to judge or we can choose to accept. Jesus was on a mission to change the world, and he did.

What if I wanted to change the world? What would the world look like if I did? That is such a POWERFUL question. I can’t even answer that. I know that I want to serve and spread love, much like Jesus did. I want to change people’s perceptions and open their eyes. You can’t force it, though. You can only do it through love and acceptance. You can’t pick up someone’s life and say, “Here, let me fix this for you. This is how you do it correctly.” That takes their power away from them. That isn’t love - that is a quest for power and for praise. All you can do is guide, make suggestions, pose questions and lead by example.

I’m still dumbfounded by that question: If I could change the world, what would it look like when it was finished? I realize the intensity of that question. There would be consequences for living a life of pure love, and I don’t know what they would be. I would imagine everything we know and do on a daily basis would be different, but how so? Human beings would still have all their humanly emotions. How would that be handled if the culture was one of compassion and love? Is it even possible to not judge or pressure people in any way? So many questions. So many fascinating questions to ponder.

I’m starting to think that 25 is the magic age. Wasn’t Jesus around 25 when he really started sharing his teachings? And I’ve heard sayings about how guys start finally maturing when they get to be 27. And I’m sure there is a counterpart for women, maybe a couple years earlier (aka 25). I think this is the age where you start seeing that the world you were living in was so tainted by your mind. Maybe you can do it earlier, I don’t know. I’m just going with what I know. I was already so smart, aware and sharp when it came to perceiving things about the world and people, but as my journey in life hit 25, I really cranked it up that last notch to intense clarity. Or who knows, maybe this clarity just keeps getting better and better forever. I wish I knew all of this when I was much younger, but I’m not sure I’d believe it or be able to handle it.

If you could change the world for the better, what would you do? Are you living a life of pure love and compassion? Why not? What is so important that is keeping you from living a pure and loving life?

I feel so calm. I had a crazy fun but crazy hectic weekend, and I just pulled an eleven hour day at work, and will probably repeat it tomorrow to prepare for a deadline, but I feel so calm and at peace. I’m not stressed out in the least. I feel very limited amounts of judgment and fear. I feel very much in control of my human emotions, and I feel such a deep connection to my inner soul. I can now recite affirmations to myself and have them stick.

I recently tried to express my feelings to someone and was worried about their response. I told myself, “Stand behind your words.” I meant what I said, and I’d tried to word things as benevolently as possible. Normally I would feel worried, paranoid and shameful if the person came back and was angry or sad. I would take it personally, like I’d done something horrible. No. Stand behind your words. People will perceive things however they want. I can then take it from there. I did not say anything wrong. I did not mean any harm. I have nothing to feel bad about. If there are misunderstandings, I can come to it with love and compassion. It will be okay. I don’t need to beat myself up for standing up for myself. I felt so empowered as I recited my affirmation: “Stand behind your words.”

Spread Love, not only to others, but also to yourself.

Saturday, April 27, 2013

Walk Towards Your Fears

What I’ve learned in all the books I’ve read is that if you feel fear about something, generally you need to walk towards it. I’m not talking about physical danger. I’m not talking about irresponsible choices. I’m talking about fears that are limiting beliefs. I’m talking about the fear to go up and talk to someone; fear to go to a party where you don’t know anyone; fear to speak up in a meeting; fear to chase after your dream; fear to do something because you aren’t “enough” in some way.

I’ve had a couple encounters with that lately where I had to remind myself to walk towards my fears.

The other day I was invited out after work with some colleagues. That’s generally not something I love to do. If I really know someone, I can get into deep conversations with them, but even then I fear running out of things to say. With people I’m just meeting, where an initial interest was found, there is obviously a ton to talk about – you know nothing about them, so you can jump from one thing to the next. But people that you somewhat know but don’t know all that well – that one is tricky. For me, at least. At least, it used to be.

But that was the old me!

Remember, I’ve been working on this. With the celebrity’s assistant a few weeks ago, I practiced this. Being present. Focusing on serving them and being loving and supportive. Giving love. Instead of focusing on the mechanics of the conversation and what to say next, just be fully present and interested in the other person.

So I realized that my fear was an old fear. I was telling myself the story that “I’m bad in social settings,” and yet I’d been working on it, so really I had no idea if I was anymore. And even if I still was, I needed to keep practicing so I can get rid of that limiting belief and fear!

So I went. It was great! I had a good time and I didn’t feel awkward at all. There was enough going on that even when I didn’t really have anything to say, I wasn’t staring at a wall twiddling my thumbs. The whole thing was very enjoyable. I’m SO glad I didn’t listen to myself and tell myself that it wasn’t something I wanted to do. I’m SO glad I walked towards that fear such that I could work on conquering it.

I have another example! At work, we had a big meeting with the customers. Some of them have heard me talk a lot about my portion of the project, but some haven’t, because they are involved in another portion of the project. The meeting was on the portion I’m not intimately involved in, so my place in that meeting was really just to listen and take notes. At one point, I saw a big opening for me to speak. To clarify the discussion for everyone. It was one of those times where I felt like saying something is unnecessary. Or that it would even make me appear slow. I just wanted to summarize, because I felt like everyone was on the verge of being on the same page, and if I said what I wanted to say, it would either solidify it or expose where the confusion was. There was a big, long pause, which gave me time to convince myself to say it. The customer agreed with me. My team acknowledged me and continued forward. I still wasn’t sure what to make of my decision to speak right then. I actually started to think that my comment was pointless, maybe even made me look bad or slow. I let it go – I wasn’t too worried about it – but I did almost determine that my speaking didn’t necessarily help anything.

Then later on in the meeting, one of the customer’s looked to me. He wanted my input. Me, specifically. The only person not speaking in this meeting. He said that he wanted me to explain it, because he felt I was on the same wavelength with him. What!? Me? How would he have thought that? He’s rarely ever heard me speak!

I’m ASSUMING it was from that comment I’d made earlier. I could be wrong, but unless it was from my body language or something, that’s really the only thing it could have been. Here I was thinking that my comment was dumb and unnecessary, when really I had proven to this man that I could see the big picture and summarize complex things in a concise way. I hadn’t even given myself credit for that! And yet I’d apparently already made a huge impression on this person! How awesome is that!?

Walk towards your fears!! That fear is only one perspective, and it is NOT truth! YOU have control over it. YOU don’t know how others are going to perceive you. Something you word amazingly could be taken wrong; something you thought you misspoke on could be perceived as genius. You never know! Stop second-guessing yourself! Speak up, ask questions, summarize what you are hearing from those around you. If you are silent, no one knows what you are thinking. Body language can be misinterpreted. And you know what? The more you speak up, the bigger the sample; the bigger the sample, the more times you can misspeak without it mattering, because you’ll have said something genius 3 times more than you said something dumb.

I am of course coming from the perspective of someone who is generally quiet and reserved. This is not applicable for most extroverts, I would think. I don’t know. Take your own meaning away from it. I know it drives me nuts when I read something that is giving advice that is the opposite of what I need to hear. Like when I read, “Be picky! Have standards!” I’m thinking, shut up! That’s my problem! My standards are too high! Not what I need to hear!

We are all coming from very different perspectives. It’s like we are all trying to find that balance at the center of a sphere, but you may be coming from the upper right of the sphere, and I am coming from the bottom left of the sphere, so while you need to hear, “Move to the left!!” If I were to hear that, it would push me further away from center. You know what I mean? That’s been my problem all my life. The main advice that is given to people – I’m already there. And I kept getting pushed more and more and more into that corner. But THAT wasn’t the advice I needed. I needed the opposite advice. Not to throw myself over to the opposite extreme, but to just make my way to the center.

Where is the center for you? Is it up and to the right? Is it down and to the left? The same advice does not work for everyone. People need to hear different things in order to find their own way to balance and tranquility.

Whatever it is, you can be sure you’ll have to walk towards an army of fears to get there. But don’t be afraid. When you’re standing right at those fears, they look dangerous and intimidating. But once you pass to the other side, you realize they were just holograms. They can’t hurt you!

Friday, April 26, 2013

Ask and You Shall Receive

Okay, this is getting creepy now. In a good way.

I know that I’ve made great progress in my journey. I know that I’ve made some big changes. But somehow I felt like the changes were still not noticeable, or at least not really significant.


Good things are being said about me throughout the office. Multiple people have given me very positive feedback. I’m being noticed now. It’s a big deal.

Not only that, but it feels like unexpected opportunities are being thrown my way! The office knows I’m artistic as well as a skilled engineer, so I’m being suggested for some graphics tasks that could actually help my team get a foot in the door for some even bigger opportunities. So that’s a double opportunity right there!

Plus, of course, this blog. I feel like I’m seeing some opportunities to get my words out there in the world, as well.

That’s not even taking into account my huge strides on communication, conflict resolution, etc.

Believe me when I say that all you have to do is ASK, and you shall receive. If you are can be open and make a pure and honest decision to follow your heart and purpose, big changes will happen in your life. Big ones. It may feel like you’ve only made small changes, but no. It’s a big deal. It shines through in everything you do. When you are coming from a place of love, the world falls all over itself to help you (I feel like I may have stolen that line from Marianne Williamson or Gabrielle Bernstein or something).

We’ve grown up to think that that’s silly. But it’s not. It’s really not. I’ve seen it in others, but it is so much more powerful when you see it in your own life.

Again, you’ve seen my thought process. You’ve seen it change. You’ve seen what I’ve been working through. I no longer take things personally at work. I now know how to separate out all the bits and pieces when I get upset about something, separate out what was said or done and what I perceived, and then address whatever needs to be addressed and just deal with the rest and realize it can’t hurt me and just let it pass. I’ve worked on accepting others and judging less. I’ve also worked on speaking with authority and learning how to communicate better with my team. I’ve become infinitely less defensive. I’ve reigned in my feelings of guilt. I’ve become more present and more giving in conversations, which has helped my ability to socialize, both inside and outside work.

Those are just a few big ones. I can also now witness a Victoria’s Secret commercial without becoming violently depressed and angry. That really doesn’t sound like much, but it really is. That’s the sort of thing that greatly improves my quality of life.

I’m nowhere near perfect. I mean, I am ;) but I’m not. And honestly that is so exciting.

Here’s a NEW fear I have: Now I see that whole “fear of success” thing. I didn’t know what that felt like at all until probably today. I think that’s what it is, at least. I’ve always done what was expected of me, and now to have opportunities to do what I love thrown my way… with expectations on THAT… it just feels weird. Now in a bad way, really. It’s just different. Now I don’t want to disappoint MYSELF, as opposed to disappointing anyone else. Quite a different feeling. A new feeling. But I like it.

Do you believe that the Uni-verse will support you if you follow your heart? If you don’t believe it, would you be willing to entertain the idea? You’d be so surprised…

Thursday, April 25, 2013

Be A Positive Influence

Lead by example. Really, that’s a concept I grew up with. I lived my life as well as I did in order to be a good role model for my future kids. Well, also in order to respect myself and look myself in the mirror. And probably a little bit of trying to impress my parents. But a huge reason that I still have to this day is to lead others by example. To show everyone how they should be handling things. To show everyone what I think the best choices are.

Would you listen to a hypocrite? No, probably not. Sometimes people can shed light on situations if they’ve been through it, but for the most part, at least for me, if you don’t live that way yourself, you’ve lost all credibility. I think most kids feel that way, as well. Kids learn mostly by imitation, anyway. So for kids, and for adults, practicing what you preach is generally a good idea if you want anyone to listen to you.

So here’s my point. When you start making positive changes in your life, that’s going to influence others. Maybe in a small way, and maybe in a big way. I am so happy to see one of my friends start to make his own realizations and start to unravel and analyze his own beliefs and behaviors. I feel extremely proud when he tells me that seeing my changes has rubbed off on him and has helped push him in that direction for his own life. His changes are not the same as mine, and honestly his are more religious than mine are. But it doesn’t matter. He is on his own journey, and I can already tell how much happier he is, and I know that will only continue to get better and better. He knocked on that door, and now that door is being opened for him. All he had to do was consider that there may be another way to look at things.

As Gandhi says, “You must be the change you want to see in the world.”

I think people sometimes think of doing a “good deed” as a box to check off on their to-do list. Really, what you need to do is just go through your day with the desire to be of service. When you see an opportunity to be of service, do it. Hold the door open for the person behind you. Let the mother juggling babies and bottles go ahead of you in line. You can’t plan those things. The point isn’t for you to feel good about helping someone. The point is to HELP SOMEONE. And don’t get down on yourself if you didn’t help someone one day. There is no expiration date on love and kindness. You can still use it now. You can still use it tomorrow. It isn’t a task, a chore or a responsibility you have to take care of and check off of your list. Don’t stress about it. Don’t put pressure on yourself. Just help out when you see an opportunity.

How can you help others and be a positive influence today?