Being Peaceful within the storm.

I am a big fan of simple. There is all too much complexity for the sake of it in life and I for one have diligently worked to eliminate as much complexity from my day as I can.

From dieting, workout routines and self-help books/podcasts to business books and money management there are a billion directions you can go. How many of these promise to be the “one thing you need!” or the “top tens ways to kick-ass everyday!” (in one form or another).

Don’t get me wrong, most of these all contain quality material and is based on knowledge and experience, I’m all for different avenues we all resonate with different approaches.

If though you have a problem and are looking for one book, one podcast, one person to fix your issue(s) you likely won’t find it. More often than not, the issue(s) your trying to fix isn’t actually the root cause of the problem.

Most of us don’t actually know what we want, even when we REALLY, REALLY WANT IT!

With all the noise in our lives it’s hard to remember what’s truly important. Honestly, it’s not a whole lot, but it is everything. Family, loved ones, adding value to those around you, being a good example for your children and neighbors, what impact you will leave once your gone, these things matter. The house, the car, the money, the status, the ego… none of this matters at the end of the day.

I have been on a mission for the past decade to find peace in my life. For the hundreds of books I’ve ready, the thousands of hours of listening I’ve done I’ve come to one simple conclusion.

God is what matters. Finding God and creating an active relationship with God has been the most powerful and impactful thing I’ve ever done. This coming from somebody who dropped out of confirmation class as a teenager and not currently involved in any organized religion.

If you have struggled to find peace in yourself, if you have found “success” in life but still have a hole growing within you, here’s the good news. You don’t need to ready a library worth of books to figure it out and apply a hundred different practices within your day.

Simply turn to God, in your own time and way. There is no one-size-fits all spiritualism or religion. How I communicate with God is my own, and I have learned how to do this in a way which works in my life and fuels me when this little world of ours goes sideways.

When I am faced with challenges I don’t know how to cope with, I used to strategize, plan and stress myself out over the ways to overcome it. These days, I take a step back and thank God for the opportunity to practice my faith, and the challenge resolves itself.

Simple. Powerful. Peaceful.

This isn’t to say my life is perfect and everything is great all the time. As a father, a husband, a business owner and athlete I can assure you I have my share of challenges and “WTF” events. It’s my approach to get things back on track which has changed, and life is better for it.

If this resonates in some way and you’re not sure where to start or why it resonates, let me know. God is always there, especially in those moments we feel most alone. Shift your perspective and you’ll find him if you haven’t yet.

Hold that thought.

I was reminded of a very powerful (yet easy to forget) concept recently, which reminded me about the efficiency of the universe we live in. In all aspects of life I’ve found common “rules” or “laws” if you will, and over the years I’ve learned many of these concepts I’ve experienced are quite literally universal laws which govern the world we experience.

All are powerful. All are also very simple in nature. Our daily lives are often cluttered and overcomplicated. Think about how many advertisements you see and hear on a daily basis, whether or not you watch TV, listen to the radio or visit a local store. Advertisements to get us to take this medicine, (it’s crazy how a pharmaceutical company would even need to advertise… this is for another day!) prompts of services for cell phones, internet, how many car ads can we get into the mix, or even the lawyers and realtors faces posted at the bus stop. Every day we are being suggestively told we NEED something we don’t have. Western culture has created a “keep up with the Joneses'” mindset throughout the majority of our culture. Pull up any social media platform these days and it’s all about who’s got the most followers, people now being the commodity over a product for the first time.

This type of overt direct messaging, along with the subliminal messaging underlying the advertising industry of “you need X to be happy” can take a deeper root within us if we pay too close attention. Even if the immediate products and services aren’t interesting to us, we are still hearing “we need X” subconsciously. Being inundated with a certain message or messages creates a thought pattern which can manifest itself directly, or very often indirectly.

Going back to the beginning, here is the reminder I came across which resonated with me once again, as it always does with me.

Watch your thoughts, for they become words.

Watch your words, for they become actions.

Watch your actions, for they become habit.

Watch your habits, for they become your character.

Watch your character, for it becomes your destiny.

For most of us, the above isn’t actually new information, yet it’s very easy to forget how quickly a thought can grow to become so much more. Seeing an advertisement isn’t a big deal. However when you are exposed to the same message repeatedly it can very easily establish a foothold in our subconscious mind, from which it can grow rapidly if left un-checked

Luckily, the solution is just as simple as the construct above. For only $99 down I’ll give you everything you need to figure it out! If you pay me, then you’ll be able to find happiness!

Just kidding.

Except about the simple solution part, that part is very true. One way I like to “check” myself is to ask myself why I do or think something. Understanding our why in life is another topic altogether, and the larger concept of this smaller, bite size version. We can break down segments and ask very specific why questions, and the cumulative responses gives us a better idea of what is going on in our subconscious.

Why do I get up and go to work everyday? To pay the bills or because I actually love what I do?

Why do I celebrate an occasion with food and/or beverage which is not beneficial for my bodies long term health?

Why did I get so upset when that dude cut me off on the highway? Did I really need to give him the finger?

Why is my wife always right?

What is it that I love so much about breathing fresh air in the morning, or seeing the sun rise?

These are just a few examples of questions, some deeper and much harder to answer. Noticing our behavior during certain instances and questioning the root of our emotions, thoughts and feelings is a great way to begin to understand what is happening below the surface. There are no right or wrong answers, and enjoying this life and some of the “vices” may be a part of the journey you enjoy. If you like having a drink (or ice-cream, or pick your poison) after work, you don’t have to beat yourself up for it. Asking the question doesn’t mean there will be a negative response.

One thing is clear to me through my experience. Thoughts are indeed things. More aptly put, feelings become reality. Our subconscious mind doesn’t deal in words or phrases, it deals in energy, in feeling. As you notice your actions and question the root, pay close attention to how you feel about the instance more than what words come to describe it. Do you feel good about what just happened, or not so much? The feeling is the true barometer of what we are experiencing.

On the previous blog I spoke about consistency, practice over perfection. Our thoughts during any given day are very much in this category of practice and consistency. If we are more often thinking and feeling things of a higher vibration (joy, love, inner peace), our external life will reflect this. If we are always in the lower energy thoughts (anger, jealously, self pity…) our life will just as accurately reflect this too.

The good news is we get to choose, and we become what we practice.

Life is simple. (That’s not to say it’s easy)

No matter how difficult or complex it may become, it can always be simplified down to reveal what’s underlaying what we’re experiencing.

Practice, not perfection

Many years ago I was talking to a neighbor of mine and I was lamenting how tight my clothes had become. We had moved to Texas and after several months of eating at the myriad excellent restaurants around town, my waistline was showing the effects.

My neighbor suggested I simply get some “fat pants”, it’s what she does when things get too tight. I wasn’t familiar with the “fat pants” or where to get a pair, or how they worked. “What are fat pants?” I asked. “Bigger pants” was the deadpan response. I realized I was at a choice point in my life, choose to accept the enlarging waist and get some fat pant to accommodate my sloth. Or, I could choose to eat better and get my health back on track, saving me the painful concept of the bigger pants.

I chose to lose weight and work myself into my normal clothes again thankfully. This process I have since learned is applicable to many areas of life. The process of working towards a goal, an objective, an idea, a dream.

I have learned during my weight loss journey, I have learned again during my professional career, my marriage, fatherhood, entrepreneurship. I have experienced the same context in different formats. Like watching a movie where the family is in danger and the husband/father comes in and saves the day against all odds. This movie has been made a thousand times. The actors change, and script and scenery change, but it’s really just the same movie over again. These movies span all genres just like the important aspects of achieving a goal.

Progress on the road is infinitely more important than being perfect along the journey. I recall going on the Atkins diet (basically keto, before keto was cool!) and I dove in on a Monday morning. From beer and restaurants to zero carbs from one day to the next. Wasn’t really a great plan I admit, and the first two weeks were a nightmare, the third only slightly better. I did however steal peanut butter once a day during these first few weeks, and a beer at night a few times. These “indiscretions” are what gave me the willpower to keep going and not give up on the entire diet.

As I got better at eating a very minimal amount of carbs it became easier and I was able to adapt and adjust voluntarily when I felt ready to. I eventually gave up peanut butter and beer as I had progressed to a point. I had lost a lot of weight, and now was willing to sacrifice further to attain my goal.

There are times in life when we can be laser focused on a goal, AND we can deviate a bit to allow ourselves room to continue instead of crash. Countless people I’ve encountered give a 110%, (rise and grind bro!) only to burn out before getting what they were after. In my experience, getting three quarters of the way isn’t the same as crossing the finish line. Perhaps this is what the old “tortoise and the hare” fable is all about.

If you are going on a diet, starting a new business, beginning a fitness regime or changing fitness styles, (or one of so many other journeys) give yourself some leeway to have fun along the way. Sacrifices will need to be made, it will be difficult, and this is ok, this is part of the accomplishment. There’s no reason though to make it so difficult you can’t complete it. If you take a day off, eat that donut(s) at the office, miss a day of training don’t beat yourself up. It’s all good, simply continue where you left off and enjoy the progress you’ve made thus far.

Practice and persistence (consistency) will always win. Enjoy the journey and your much more likely to reach your destination.