Category Archives: Owning your decisions

We choose hundreds of times each day; some choices are pretty routine while other decisions make a pretty big difference. The truth is that on the things that really matter, we have the power and the responsibility to choose our path. After, we grow as we stand up and work through the consequences of what we have chosen. If we can choose to enjoy the journey, then we may have just found the real secret to making decisions.

Every good story has a bit of drama to it. Are we adding some to our own stories unnecessarily?

The other day while vacuuming (who knew it could be such a great time to think and reflect and solve problems?), I was thinking about the TV show we had watched the night before. I know, people who are smart and intelligent and movers and shakers don’t have time for TV. But in our little box that makes up our world, sometimes TV in the evening is about all that can be managed – and so we do it together.
I was struck by how unrealistic the whole story line was. It seemed to me that the characters were specifically making choices that added drama to their situations, rather than solving the problems.
Well, duh, it’s TV.
Of course that is what they would do. Who is going to tune in week after week to watch the same thing happen over and over again and people being happy with each other? Even “Leave it to Beaver” had the difficulties that somehow always found a solution by the end of the half hour.
Certainly, our problems very, very rarely can be resolved and put to rest in the same time that a sitcom can do it.
We should be so lucky.

 

But, the converse is also true.

Does there need to be a drama or catastrophe happening as soon as the current one is over?

I think all of us would quickly answer “We’d love life to be that way, if only it could. It seems that there really is a pile up of wrecks waiting to be dealt with.”

I wonder how many of those wrecks could have been avoided if we had just been paying a little closer attention to our driving, so to speak? But just like we can’t live without our cell phones while getting from point A to point B, we can’t seem to focus on the here and now to make the there and then a little more under control.

Maybe the reason this struck me hard while vacuuming is that it hits way too close to home. I spent the greater part of my life anticipating, worrying about, and experiencing the emotion of all the potential problems that could arise.

And I usually did it long before they arose, if they ever did.

I experienced them again and again and again.

It almost felt like I would be out of control if things were under control. (Yes, we can all agree that I’m nuts.)

But, I would think that I’m not the only one out there who is a little guilty of drama production in our lives.

Anybody? Anybody at all?

With all the changes in our life, I’ve had some time to think about this very thing. I don’t think the solution is rocket science; however, we may wish it were so there would be a better excuse for not doing it more often.

We’ve talked before about being securely insecure and we’ll certainly talk about it again. Insecurity is the root of many problems.I think that there is a little insecurity that helps to push the drama forward in our lives.

Think about it: if there is drama going on, then certainly that is the focus. Everyone is looking in that direction.

And not at me.

Or if they are looking at me, they are seeing me heroically handling a horrible situation.

Win win.

But just like the driver who can’t put down the cell phone, eventually there is going to be a bad wreck where people are hurt, or even killed.

It may be pretty boring to have a story or TV show that doesn’t really have a problem to solve. That’s okay. If we can remember that it is just a story and is to entertain (or in great cases, teach a lesson), then we can also remember that our actual stories don’t need to follow suit.

The past decade has brought forth an onslaught of “reality TV”. It’s cheap to produce and for some insane reason it gets incredible ratings. Apparently we love to watch each other be horrible to other people.

Really?

Can you imagine actually living a life like what we see on “reality TV” shows? Would you be shocked to find that there is nothing real about it? The whole thing is scripted? Kind of like letting out the secret that WWE is, wait for it, fake. I know, I know, it’s hard to believe, but there it is.

The “reality TV” shows are just as fake.

Our life may not have a finished script where we know where we are headed or how it turns out, but we do have power and control over writing the next few pages at a time.

Being an HR graduate and manager, I learned that problems foreseen and proactively handled required a miniscule fraction of energy and time when compared to those problems that exploded. By being present in our present, we can resolve things while they are little and avoid many of the big things that seem to plague us.

Kind of funny when you think about it. We may in fact be handling them within the half hour of a sitcom. Who knew that “Leave it to Beaver” really could be real?

I think the point would be that I’ve learned that life can be, and should be, much closer to the old 1950s sitcoms than to the current “reality TV” shows.

Leave the drama to entertain us.

It’s actually pretty good to “tune in” week after week to just actually live the same thing happen over and over again, especially when it consists of people being happy with each other.

I think I’ll stick with the boring for every day.

Continue reading Every good story has a bit of drama to it. Are we adding some to our own stories unnecessarily?

Do we want the consequences of what we want?

It seems that we’ve morphed into a society that makes quick, knee-jerk reactions to situations. Probably a direct result of the instant technology supply and demand.

The cloud and airwaves and twittersphere are loaded with immediate reactions to whatever is going on. Kind of like when we used to see those tests given to people where they are told to just say the first thing that comes to their mind when they hear a word or see a picture.

Trouble is, I’m not sure my first reaction is my true reaction. My mind works a little more methodically and it takes me a few tries to get around the whole picture. Try to interpret the ramifications of different directions. Understand what B may follow A.

But once our initial, quick, knee-jerk reaction is out there, it’s out there – forever.

And no one will ever let you forget it. Or retract it. Or change it.

Even on those rare instances when someone simply comes forward and says “Man, that was a stupid thing to say, I’m not sure where it came from, but as I’ve had time to think about it, that is not what I feel or believe at all”, we attack and attack and attack (if it is a slow news cycle) and charge forward demanding changes. Punishments. Consequences.

We have become pretty good at choosing and forcing the consequences for other’s actions.

We have also become pretty good at wanting to choose the consequences for our own actions.

With all of our time-saving devices and a standard of living unimagined for the majority of the history of the world (I recently heard that if you have a garage, you are in the upper 2% on the planet – not to mention the cars that fill those garages and overflow to the driveway), we live as if we have no time at all.

We are running faster and faster and faster.

Work just a little longer today than yesterday. Give up your weekend to get the project done. Miss your children’s recital to make the deadline.

There is just not enough time.

Not enough time to get things done.

Not enough time to get enough rest.

Not enough time to take care of ourselves.

Not enough time to think.

Not enough time to think?

Wow. Now that’s a problem.

What happens when we take time to think?

We may actually see out farther than the next 20 seconds that it took to type 140 characters and hit send.
We may actually stop and ask “Do I really think that?”

Here’s a good one: We may actually stop and see how our action may impact others.

Over the course of a lifetime, people generally reap what they sow. What they put out there for the most part comes back to them. Call it scripture, call it Karma. But people who are kind generally are surrounded by kindness. People who are nasty to be around, in the end, find themselves alone with all the other nasty people.

Do we want the consequences of what we want?

The truth is that we cannot choose our consequences. We can choose our choices, our actions, our words.
But we can’t choose the consequences that follow.

No matter how badly we may want to.

Choosing to engage in sexual intimacy on a date certainly has the possible consequence of a pregnancy.

Choosing to practice dishonesty at work runs the chance of being caught and fired, and in some cases criminal proceedings.

Choosing to spew hate-filled, angry words at nameless, faceless groups of people will change not only the recipient but also the deliverer.

Damage done is damage done.

We can’t go back and wave our magic wand and change things after the fact. No matter how badly we want to.

After the fact, the time for choosing is over. It is time for facing, accepting, and working through what we have chosen.

Because the time to choose was before we turned the lights off, not after we turned them back on.

So, maybe we slow down just a little. We get a little more rest so our thought processes are clear. We take an extra 10 minutes in the morning to just be quiet, and breathe, and think.

I know when I invite Someone else into my thought process that things are clearer. I see more potential consequences before they happen. I have time to try to find a better way.

A way that will have the consequences that I really do want.

Gratefully, the day usually goes differently than it might have gone. I am constantly amazed that I don’t get what I deserve, but that things always turn out better than they would have, had I done things my initial, knee-jerk responding way.

Thank heaven for that moment to stop and think – and see.

I really do want the consequences of the things I want.

What do you really need to heal?

The last few days have been screamers – you know, when on the outside I am pretty tired and it is hard to keep moving, but on the inside there is a constant scream. I can literally feel the lava boiling up and wanting to explode out. I just want out of my skin. I just want some quiet on the inside.

flames

Thank heavens for OCD that makes me think 5, 6, and 7 times before putting my head through the wall – that hole would be so ugly and I’m not sure that I could repair it to be as good as new. The battle inside may rage, but the exterior stays obedient and behaved.

I have several things I work through to help me keep the explosion from erupting on anyone else or causing any damage.

I go to my daily list and attack the next item, or

I grab my IPod and let the music flow through me, or

I escape into the sunshine and walk and walk and walk, or

I allow myself to go into the bedroom, pull back the bedspread, and tell myself that “I’ll just lie down for a minute”, knowing that it will probably be several hours.

I’m not sure that these make a long-term difference, but in the short term they keep me from doing something that would cause others pain.

Probably like putting on a Band-Aid to keep the blood from flowing and causing a mess.

This morning while I was quickly switching back and forth between laughing maniacally and then shouting out and hitting my head and then shaking my head and telling myself to get under control, and back again, I had the thought: “Healing Greg. What do you need to heal?”

I wrote it down so I wouldn’t forget while working through my steps of control.

Now that things are a little calmer I can come back to my note and my question.

What does it really take to heal?

I need some more substantive activities that can go beyond the Band-Aid and be more like the Neosporin that makes the skin close up and stop bleeding.

Of course I know what they are for me.

Dropping to my knees and beginning to count, one by one, my incredible blessings.

Not just turning on the IPod, but finding specific music that lifts my spirit, my body, my soul.

Pouring out my emotions on the piano.

Opening up the scriptures, both ancient and contemporary, and reading a paragraph and then just stopping, letting it wash over me, through me.

Watching my wife bake some new experimental treat with complete calmness in her actions and peace in all her features.

Listening to Alex hum and whistle while she creates and figures out a new project in her den in the basement.
Reading what Nick does and doesn’t write from Peru, and knowing how deeply he is changing and growing.

Writing. Experiencing the clarity of thought and mind that used to be so much a part of my life, feeling the words and outlines come, and knowing that it is not originating from within me.

Looking outside myself and doing something that will make a difference in someone else’s day. You know, email and social media really are a huge blessing for someone like me who needs to stay away from people at times. I can still try to reach out from my zone of safety.

These things do more than just get me through the moment, they help me to calm the lava and slow the spinning frenzy. They may still cause a tear to be in the corner of my eye, but it is accompanied by a slight smile – if only one sided.

So, what do you need to heal?

You really deserve to know.

Each of you out there is fighting your own dragon and laying a weary head down on your pillow at night, not sure how you will get up tomorrow and do it again.

Yet you do.

Are you doing it via Band-Aid or Neosporin?

Something to think about.

May you honestly find real healing in your life. Healing that makes you stronger. Healing that makes you love a little deeper. Healing that brings you quiet peace amidst all the busyness.

 

Who gets to decide what is right and what is wrong?

It’s been the battle from the very beginning: good vs. evil, right vs. wrong.

In the garden of Eden, Satan only wanted to advance his purposes; God wanted to provide a path that would bring more joy and happiness than could be conceived.

And Adam and Eve were left to choose.

In the story of Cain and Abel, everyone knows that Cain chose evil and self-gratification while Abel simply wanted to do as he was commanded. The lesson from history would be that we are always better off doing what we are commanded by our loving Father in Heaven; harkening to Satan and his temptations will lead to loneliness and pain.

Fast forward the roughly 6000 years since then. The same battle is being waged.

But for some reason we can’t see it with the same clarity and simplicity.

I guess that many would say “it’s complicated.”

What complicated it?

Continue reading Who gets to decide what is right and what is wrong?

I can’t choose for you; you can’t choose for me. So who makes the choice?

Compared to world history, in the short 238 years that the United States has been the United States, we have changed dramatically. Other nations seemed to go on for centuries with relatively little differences. Of course, the industrial age and the unfathomable rate of technological discoveries have affected everyone in unanticipated ways.

I wonder what our founding fathers would tell us if they were able. Maybe the more important question is, would we even listen?

Probably not.

We have become in large part a society where we each belong to a subgroup that feels that we know exactly what is best, where the right line is to draw in the moral sand, and what should be seen as unacceptable.

And we know that it should be that way for everyone.

Those who don’t see things from our point of view or embrace our solutions are just too stupid to know anyway, so let’s go ahead and make the decisions for them. After all, we really do know what is best.

Our founding fathers may be surprised to read through all the laws that are on the books. It may be a good thing they are dead, as it would probably take more than a natural lifetime to even get to them all.

Close your eyes and imagine them sitting around a table.

“Why do they need all these laws?”

“Most of these things are just common sense; you just do them because it is the right thing to do.”

“It seems like they have lost the ability to think for themselves.”

“Or it seems that the government has decided that it is a better thinker than the common man.”

“Generally it is the voice of the majority that keeps the logical common sense, not the few who are in power.”

“What kind of a mess have they gotten themselves into?”

“Is this what we worked so hard for?”

Of course, I could be wrong. They may be watching and doing a jig and saying that this is exactly what they had in mind when they drafted the constitution.

But I don’t think it is very likely.

I’ve thought a lot about it and it seems to boil down to some simple but disastrous pitfalls.

One would be that we’ve reversed the accountability direction on the responsibility to choose.

It seems that I want to choose for you. I know what is best and you just need to agree with me. I just don’t want to have to make a definite decision and choose for myself. No matter what, I want a way out if I don’t like how things go.

That sounds like a pretty tempting plan at first glance. I don’t have to really choose for myself because I can blame anything that doesn’t go my way on you and then make you pay for it through a lawsuit. Who knew that pain and suffering was really worth millions and millions of dollars? The best part is that I get to stand up and tell you how all of us must do things my way, and if you don’t see how this is the best way, then you really are stupid.

Sounds like a first grader’s dream.

Unfortunately, we don’t get to stay in first grade past the age of six. We are expected to learn and progress and grow and become an adult.

How are we doing? It seems that there are an awful lot of playground skirmishes and bullying going on among those who are 30, 40, 50, and so on.

The truth is that we have to understand just how important it is to choose. To choose for ourselves.

I am responsible for the choices I make. You are responsible for the choices you make.

Now, how do we somehow manage to live together, knowing that we have made different choices?

It is interesting to read and listen to debates and arguments over exactly this question. Each side has their “talking points” that seem to come up in each conversation; you can almost say out loud what they are going to say before they say it. It seems to be the same argument each time. I guess the way you tell if someone won was if they were the last to repeat their slogans or spoke more loudly over the other person.

Why is there no movement in the conversation toward a solution?

Is it because we refuse to listen?

I think so.

Is it also because we are trying to use reason and logic to somehow mathematically score more points and win the fight?

Yet some of the things that we are fighting the most about don’t seem to be based in logistics and figures. They are based in feelings and beliefs.

We are trying to change each other’s minds, while we are actually talking about matters of the heart.

The court suit being fought right now over the issue of same-sex marriage is a pretty good example. I’ve read the arguments and statistics on both sides. Each proponent has done a lot of research and has made it very academic, proving how their view is correct.

But for me it is very simple: I believe that God has told us through His prophets that marriage is the most amazing and wonderful gift and is to be between a man and a woman. I know that my marriage has brought me more joy and happiness and self-esteem and friendship and security and hope and on and on and on, than anything else I have done in my life. I don’t really need to go any further than that. I know in my heart and my soul that this is right.

There really isn’t a logical argument that is ever going to change what I know deep within.

Obviously there are good people who believe that same-sex marriage is right.

So, what do we do?

Well, I don’t think that we spew anger filled venom at each other in words and actions. I don’t think we treat each other like vermin and say that I won’t hire you or work with you or let you live near me. I don’t really think protesting or parading around and shoving one lifestyle in another’s face will help.

Popular or not, my view is not going to change. Not because I am stubborn or mad or vindictive. It’s because I am at peace with it. I see it as truth. Truth is truth.

There are many truths.

I also see as truth that extra marital affairs are wrong. I see as truth that creating a child out of wedlock is wrong. I see as truth that a date does NOT consist of sexual intercourse.

There was a time that the majority also saw these as truths. Yet society now fully accepts that each of the above is not only acceptable, it is understandable and just a part of being an adult.

How did we get growing up so wrong?

Perhaps now it is a little easier to see why I am so deeply concerned that, yet again, another huge chunk is being taken out of the moral granite that made our nation the world’s leader.

I think we have to be realistic and ask ourselves, what will be next? Because past experience tells us that we won’t stop here, just like we didn’t stop with extra marital affairs but moved on to having children out of wedlock and dating being a sexual free for all.

I have to choose for me. You have to choose for you.

And we all have to live together after the choices have been made. Hopefully we will make the choices now that will allow us all to keep choosing what matters most tomorrow.