No News is Good News

I’m traveling for work right now and one of the challenges of this for me is finding the discipline and motivation to exercise. But today I made it happen. When I got there, someone else was also working out and they had turned on Fox News to watch while on the elliptical.

This was the first time I’ve watched any “news” in I don’t know how long. That’s one of the huge benefits of not having TV (I do have Apple TV). The news was only on for literally five minutes. I know this because it was only on as long as my 5 minute warmup. All it took was five minutes for me to realize why everyone thinks there is so much division in the country. Every “story” was spun in such a way to highlight or create any kind of division possible. The news was basically this:

  • Trump said something I don’t like and now my feelings are hurt
  • Can you believe what that celebrity tweeted?
  • The world is ending because of ____________ (fill in the blank)

It was nutty. Do people really think this way? If so, no wonder so many people are scared and pessimistic. Someone who is very successful businessman and also a good ole country boy once told me something that I will always remember: “We just live out in the country and do our thing. We don’t have TV and watch the news, we make our own news.” This is from someone who took his passion and turned it into a multimillion dollar business. He’s got some wisdom to share.

I don’t watch the new or do much more than see whatever news pops up on my Instagram in-between cat pics. I’m very positive about the future and I don’t think it’s because of the whole ignorance is bliss thing. I think a big part of it is the fact that all this negative “news” isn’t being broadcast into my brain every day. If we’re being honest with ourselves, nearly all of the news stories out there play almost no role in our day to day lives. They’re completely irrelevant. Who cares that someone hurt LeBron’s feelings and Leonardo DiCaprio is mad at Trump? I know I don’t.

If you do pay attention to the news, try taking a break for a week. See what happens with your attitude. You might find that no news is good news. Make your own news. I bet it’s good.

Advertisements

What If You Were President?

What would you do if you were president of the USA?

It seems like everyone has their opinions and ideas. Lots of people talk and act like the president is going to save or ruin their lives. But guess what? No politician will fix your life. When was the last time a politician did something that legitimately impacted your everyday life in a positive way? In my short life time the only thing that I can think of is lower gas prices but even now they aren’t lower than they were when I first started to drive.

No one is going to swoop in and save you out of your circumstances. That’s not how life works. But… there is a way to improve and you play a big role in it.

Did you know that you are the president of your own life?  You can make things happen that benefit you and your family. You can keep your promises.

You can choose happiness. Yep! It’s a choice. Our Constitution doesn’t guarantee our right to happiness but rather guarantees our right to pursue it. We have to go out and catch it. The Amazon Prime guy isn’t going to show up on our doorsteps tomorrow with a box of real happiness (although many happy things do come in Amazon boxes).

Have you ever literally pursued something? I ran cross country in high school and did my best to pursue those ahead of me but I never caught very many of them. Pursuit is hard work. It’s easy to be cynical. Negative. Mean. Passive aggressive. Try choosing a positive happy attitude and you will see how much work it is. Truly happy people are strong, hard working people.

Also, your circumstances are COMPLETELY irrelevant. Does the name Viktor Frankl ring a bell? He is a world renowned psychiatrist who survived Auschwitz and various other Nazi death camps. Frankl lived through the most horrible torture in human history and this is what he writes in Man’s Search For Meaning:

Even though conditions such as lack of sleep, insufficient food and various mental stresses may suggest that the inmates were bound to react in certain ways, in the final analysis it becomes clear that the sort of person the prisoner became was the result of an inner decision, and not the result of camp influences alone. Fundamentally, therefore, any man can, even under such circumstances, decide what shall become of him – mentally and spiritually. He may retain his human dignity even in a concentration camp.  

And…

everything can be taken from a man but one thing: the last of human freedoms- to choose one’s attitude in any given set of circumstances, to choose one’s own way. 

So you’re upset about something the President-elect said or did and your going to be upset or scared. Or maybe someone said something mean to you because of the color of your skin and now you’re angry and ready to tear down “the system.” Maybe you’re sad because some people earn a lot more money than you and you feel like you should have some of it just because.

Are you kidding me? Seriously. Just stop. It’s time to grow up. Viktor Frankl lived through a Nazi death camp and has a better attitude. Probably the most horrible thing imaginable happened to this man and he realized that through all of it he still had a choice: he could choose to have a good attitude. I’m talking to myself just as much as you. The other day someone cut me off in traffic and I got mad but then I remembered what this man lived through and immediately felt completely stupid. And I was right to feel that way.

So it’s time for all of us to grow up and realize that we are the presidents of our own lives. We can choose happiness and hope for the future no matter what. It’s hard, but all good things are. It’s time to do what you have to do. Impeach that bad attitude and elect a good one. Take charge of your life. If you let someone else row your boat they will take it somewhere you don’t want to go.

 

How Big is Your Hope?

It seems to me like many people are dissatisfied with the way their life has turned out. They feel like the cards are stacked against them. They can’t win in life because the “system” is broken. If only they had the opportunities that other people had, they could totally feel successful. Entire segments of our society believe that they are victims simply because of their skin color, economic status, gender or whatever else.

I know this is true because I used to be one of these people. Sometimes, I still think this way. I would whine and complain and think “if only” so much that I began to sound like Uncle Rico from Napoleon Dynamite. My logic was: if only I had this (insert whatever i felt lacking at that moment) I could really be a success. I realize now that I felt like the would owed me something. I was an ethical, hard-working, intelligent person and i thought that because of this I deserved to feel successful and be successful. Looking back over that part of my life, I realize what i was lacking: hope. Deep down I felt like I could never amount to much. I felt doomed to borderline poverty (by USA standards) and mediocre success. I see now that I was limiting myself. No one was holding me back or oppressing me other than myself and my stupid thinking.

Have you ever felt like this? Do you fell like this now? Do you sometimes feel like the world owes you something? Do you feel oppressed by an enigmatic “system” or ‘’the Man?” This kind of world view and self-view might actually be what’s holding you back. What if you not actually a victim? Maybe you could think of yourself as a winner or a conqueror. But don’t take my word for it. I haven’t yet accomplished a ton in my life. Listen to what John Johnson has to say:

“ Men and women are limited by the place of their birth, not by the color of their skin, but by the size of their hope.”

A grandson of slaves, Johnson was an African/American and growing up in rural Arkansas and downtown Chicago in the 1920s, 30s, and 40s. He lived through the death of his father at age 6, the Great Depression, and the heights of racial violence and segregation. But this didn’t stop him because he had big hope and he worked hard. John did not look in the mirror and see a victim even though he had some legitimate claims to that title. Instead, he decided to overcome. His biggest business success (he had many) was Ebony Magazine. His big hope helped him become the first African/American on the Forbes 400 list. President Bill Clinton awarded him the Presidential Medal of Freedom. Google the man. His story is incredible.

I know for me, the next time a whiney “if only” comes out of my mouth I am going to think about Johnson.

Complaining about how you don’t have enough money? Didn’t stop John during the Great Depression and the years following.

Complaining about a “system” that is out to get you? Didn’t stop John during a time in history when there was an actual system in place to deter him.

Complaining about how because of your skin color you can’t get a fair shot? Didn’t stop John. Ever.

What would he think of your complaints? of mine? What would your ancestors think of your complaints and you opportunities? if your family has lived in the USA for any length of time, chances are that you have a family member who had to overcome immeasurable odds to ensure that you exist. Think about them. What would they think about what you are complaining about today?

I know what John Johnson would think. He would think (and be right) that you need a bigger hope. He would tell you to stop limiting yourself. So…

How big is your hope?