Saturday, June 28, 2014

Growing Your Life: The importance of being your own "Life Artist"

Rich Note: Lots of people now talk and write about this and I'm very glad to see it. It all bears repeating throughout our lives.

Pablo Picasso made hundreds of works of art and yet most of us might only remember the names of 4 or 5.

An artist works on expressing emotion in each work of art. The emotion is important enough to them, that they sit down and spend the time to express it.

Not every work of art, even from a famous artist, is a masterpiece. Or even something we individuals can necessarily enjoy, understand, or personally value.

And yet it was of importance to the artist.

They took the time and made the effort, to make something out of nothing but their own thoughts, feelings, and materials.

This same vital, personal growth process is often left behind by many of us in daily life.

And yet it's one that we need to adopt and use every day.

Why bother doing this?

This process enriches us and all those we touch. And I would argue, it enriches humanity at large.

Because this same process the artist uses to deal with their own internal concerns, connections, issues, problems, is the same one we need to express ourselves too.

For each of us as individuals, this is an effort to make our internal world into something that can be understood, or at least accepted in a different way, and then set aside to move on to the next challenge.

If we do this with our emotional concerns then we too are as free as the professional artist to move on to the next issue or challenge.

You did it as a kid. Maybe you forgot about it. Maybe you gave it up along the way.

At the very least, we are slowly chipping away at a bigger issue even if we can't necessarily overcome a chronic challenge. We can make it less influential in our lives.

How do we do this? Here is some good news.

We are already doing it!

We do this with every statement we make. We do it with every interaction we have with others. we do it with every word we craft on a page and with every relationship we maintain.

We can choose to make these efforts at bettering ourselves, and those around us, and the opportunities are constantly available.

You have a virtually never ending supply of opportunities.

The biggest effort might be for us to recognize them. And then act on your artistic impulse to express your self, via your needs, your concerns, your beliefs. Your own art.

You are the artist and your art is your life. Knowing that truth and treating daily life from that position, will help you grow yourself and your individual life to the maximum possible.

The time to start is now.

If you are reading this, you are already on your way forward. And I am happy for you!

- Rich

Let me know what you think.

Tuesday, June 17, 2014

Fixing Your Relationship: Are You Lonely Together?

Some years ago, my wife and I were leaving a restaurant with another couple who had long been our good friends. We'd had a somewhat-enjoyable evening together, because we hadn't seen them for some time.

But it was clear that they were having tense moments with one another.

They occasionally glared at each other with stern expressions. Then, they would look around the room as if searching for something or someone else.

We knew they had been locked in a period of friction recently. But, apparently they were on their best behavior with us.

After dinner, as we walked toward our cars, we overheard them behind us as they continued to bicker. Suddenly they turned to face each other as the husband said, "Hell, I've been lonely!" And the wife replied loudly, "I've been lonely too!"

Our friends were lonely and angry at the same time. Separated by emotional distance even as they stood face-to-face. And they did not resolve their differences. They were soon divorced.

It's bewildering to watch such a slow motion tragedy occur. You can hear them say what they want. You might have a good idea about what they need to do to fix it.

But somehow they don't reach the point where they can calmly connect and agree about what to do.

So they get more angry and frustrated and the damage to one another continues until one or both look for the relief of admitting defeat.

Every relationship needs someone who sees what is happening, stops themselves from participating in the chaos, and says, "let's talk about how to make this better."

Don't wait for your partner to do this. Do it yourself. Be the hero for your relationship.

When you change the dynamic from one of, "I'm right and you're wrong" to "what can I do to give you what you need" you've made the conflict fixable.

You've also decreased the anger, increased structure for the process, and instilled hope that you can make it better. All by choosing to stop the cycle.

Take some deep breathes. Step back two paces. See the big picture. Talk to a friend who relaxes you. Make better choices that focus on solutions rather than problems.

You can do this. And if you need more help, email me. Live well now.

- Rich

Friday, June 6, 2014

Fixing Your Life: Passivity is always the wrong choice

Every man has a finite amount of courage.
- T.E. Lawrence

Passivity is doing nothing. It a decision that puts you at the mercy of random circumstances and unscrupulous others.

It is often in the form of waiting for something we can't identify. Hoping that somehow things will get better.

Maybe we don't know what to do next. Maybe we know but don't want to do it. So we wait. It might seem like all we can do.

You still have a choice.

Never wait for things to "get better" or people to give you what you want. Waiting for a vague and uncertain outcome is one of the most potentially damaging things you can do to yourself.

Passivity is about waiting and drifting rather than making choices and going in your chosen direction.

Waiting will drain your motivation and hope and can eventually lead to hopelessness and depression.

The opposite, to take action, is to actively make decisions that get you closer to what you want for yourself.

Consider passivity a bad habit of thinking that needs to be broken.

Passivity or Patience?

The bad habit of passivity takes you out of the drivers seat. But the truth is that you have to keep your hands on the wheel if you are driving your life in the direction you want.

When might waiting be okay? When it fits into a plan we have that leads us in the right direction of our hopes. Fitting into our plan makes waiting an act of patience rather than passivity.

Patience is a timed effort to wait for a situation to align with your plan. It's long been said that timing is everything. I've seen that to be true. Not every effort can be made at anytime and be effective.

Like a trapeze artist, we often have to choose when we leap for the handhold that allows us to move forward. That is patience.

What is best to do?

Take action. DO something. Take that next step to get moving. No matter how small that next step might be.

When in doubt, do something for your physical and emotional health. Keep it simple and easy like taking a walk. Or talking to a friend. Or anything you like that makes you feel you are making healthy choices.

And grow from there.

Be with friends who boost you with encouragement and acceptance. They want to help you.

The new habit to form is choosing to be healthy by taking action. Become the active decision-maker in your own life.

You are no longer waiting. You are making decisions, and responding to what comes next after every action. This is a self-directed and well-lived life.

Part of the challenge is to be okay with this process. Simply being patient and carrying out the effort is a form of activity.

Take your feelings of frustration or anger or sadness and use them as fuel for your next effort. That effort should move you closer to what you want and away from uncertainty.

Don't panic if things don't go precisely according to the plan. As long as they are generally aligned with the plan, that might be well enough.

We have to get back to the efforts that make us feel in control to the extent possible. That always means we have to take action.

DO make a simple plan and carry it out. You'll feel better for taking action. Email me if you have a problem setting it up.

Live well. Today.