35. Engage

“Too often we underestimate the power of a touch, a smile, a kind word, a listening ear, an honest compliment, or the smallest act of caring, all of which have the potential to turn a life around.”   — Leo Buscaglia

We all have an innate desire to be loved or feel important from the time we are born all the way through the time we die.  I use the word important synonymously for the word love because when we are feeling important we feel meaningful and significant which plays an important role in the intense emotion of love.

I am prior military, and I specifically remember this period in my life with an abundance of love. The first time I put on my uniform with crisp starched creases and spit shinned boats I held my head up higher than I have ever held it before.  I felt a surge of goose bumps make their way from the top of my head to the tip of my toes. My eyes began to swell with fluid and I knew if I blinked tears would stream down my face and it would show weakness, so I stared off into space without blinking and thought about how my actions will afford people the opportunity for freedom.  After boot camp I flew home in my uniform and strangers approached me and shook my hand, thanking me for my service.  To this day my response is the same. I blush, smile and nonchalantly say you’re welcome. This small gesture by these strangers made me feel loved and important; they made me feel like my existence had boundless meaning.

During my time of service my day-to-day life seemed routine. I felt I was living my life just like others my age, in reality I was experiencing a whole different way of living.  As a veteran people frequently ask me what my job was in the Navy. I explain that my rate or job title was a Boatswain’s Mate, and one of the duties is to drive the ship. Immediately they become enamored that someone so petite could do such a job. I further go on to explain that I was a master helmsman and that while I may be petite I can drive a nuclear aircraft carrier better than Vin Diesel can race a car in Fast and Furious.  Being able to reminisce over this period in my life I am able to realize and put into perspective all the accomplishments achieved, giving me a surge of significance. Without the innate desire to feel important and loved I would have never been able to obtain life with such meaning.

Small conversations such as these can make people feel their worth. Through worth, love can be empowering providing a building block for growth through positive energy.

Affirmation: Today I will make a stranger or a loved one feel important. I will put a genuine smile on their face and make them feel the energy that radiates from love.

Call to Action:  Engage in a conversation with someone you see frequently but whom you have never spoken with. When asking someone how their day is really take the time and engage in the conversation, ask questions and make them feel like they are the only living soul that matters for that moment. Let a stranger know that you appreciate who they are and what they do. Make those around you feel important.

34. Support

“Sometimes even to live is an act of courage.” – Lucius Annaeus Seneca

Heads up CYLF family, today we are going to do some heavy lifting.

Right about the time I turned 15, for a number of reasons, I  began to obsess about suicide. It lasted for about 4-5 long dark months. Obviously I did not act on those thoughts, but they are near and dear to me today because I can relate to people that are suffering from those ideations.

The topic of suicide has entered my life the last three days which is odd because I do not dwell or discuss it often. Tuesday, during a meal with about 12 people, the epidemic of veterans committing suicide was discussed. Wednesday, I talked to a friend and we talked about the importance of support for people struggling with suicidal thoughts. Yesterday as I was driving home from a busy day this came on the radio.

In the 3 minute radio report Antoinette Tuff was able to talk to, and bond with a would be school shooter. She was able to make a real and personal connection through a quick conversation about suicide. About a minute into the report I started bawling as I was driving down the interstate.

It might have been because I was tired, hungry, or maybe all those memories of the 15 year-old me came rushing back. The two profound facts is that Mrs. Huff continued talking to this man even with a gun in his hand, and she told him she loved him. It was a true example of love for a complete stranger.

If you are struggling with this here is a link to find help. The organization is called To Write Love On Her Arms.

We can make a difference. Through connection, love, and understanding we are able to show each other life can be bigger than any material gift or possession.

Affirmation: Today I connect with my fellows through Love in order to understand them better. The collective, we will hold and raise each other up.

Call to Action: Make an effort to reach out to another human being. Call an old friend, buy a stranger a meal, or say thank you to a co-worker for something. We never know when our positivity and enthusiasm towards life will touch another’s soul. Please share how someone has touched your soul, or how you were able to make a difference for someone.

33. Willingness

“The amount of good luck coming your way depends on your willingness to act.” – Barbara Sher

Over the last week I have been in constant thought about the idea of willingness.  I had heard a story about how Socrates tested Plato’s willingness to seek knowledge by drowning him.  To only explain that it would not be until he was as willing to fight for knowledge in the way that he was fighting for breath could he continue to learn.  This example at first glance seems a harsh way to get a message across but it carries so much weight for me right now.

I believe today that I can effectively create just about anything I want out of life.  This belief comes from all of the changes that I have seen manifest over the last several years of putting change at the forefront of my life experience.  Without a doubt every avenue which I have taken the time to identify, the willingness to change it and the effort required I have gotten results and my life has gotten better,  As I write this now I can see several other areas where I feel change could be good.

If I honestly ask myself why I am in the same place I was when I recognized that a change would be desirable in certain areas the answer becomes very clear.  I simply have not become willing enough to work on them.  I may talk about them and start to believe the lie that I am doing all that is necessary to change them, but I am not.  If I really want a change in any area of my life I need to consider the lesson that Plato learned that day.  If I truely want my current situation to change I should focus on it with the willingness of a drowning man.  Only at that point can I say that I gave it everything I had.

Affirmation: In this moment I am willing to do the next right action.  (immediately followed by action)

Call To Action:  Years ago I would talk about wanting to get back in shape and I never did yet I would complain about my physical status and make excuses.  At some point the excuses got old and something needed to be changed.  I worked on one thing, being willing.  Willingness brought on a commitment that has not left me since.  What are you still waivering on?  Are you being honest about your effort?  Are you willing to do whatever it takes to get the result you want?  Please share your experiences with us.

Take Interest

“Show interest in all people, not just those from whom you want something. Making people feel important and good about themselves is just the right thing to do.”

Bo Bennett

 

I am in a relationship and my significant other has an 11 year-old child. I have been around him for a whole year now and just recently found out he plays the trumpet. He never brought his trumpet home from school.  Never practiced his trumpet. Never spoke of playing the trumpet and I thought maybe 11 year olds just don’t care about trumpets. Over the past week I have been asking questions about the trumpet. Various things like; what songs did you play last year? What time your band class is? How many trumpet players are there? Etc…

 

Last night, after he finished his homework, he pulled out the trumpet went outside and started to play. After a year of becoming a part of this family, this is the first time I heard a note. He warmed up with some scales, played a couple recognizable tunes, and as he played I recognized he really knows how to play that thing. He sounded pretty good. Not to mention he is an 11 year old who never practices or even talks about it, for that matter he is pretty amazing.

 

I realized in that moment how much my interest in someone else can change their experience.  I am constantly presented with a world that is dieing to express itself in all sorts of ways.  All to often I am stuck in my head only concerned about myself.  If I show interest in the stuff that matters to others, it seems that attention opens a whole new world of excitement and enthusiasm for life. I know when people take interest in me it feels amazing, so it seems only right to give that feeling back

Affirmation: As I take notice and interest in the world around me, the world around me seems to get more interesting.

 

Call to Action:  There are so many things around us that go unnoticed.  When I am in a place where I am not taking notice of the world around me the world around me seems to get very boring and all that I am left with are stories of how dull the world is.  Today i am going to look a little closer and find where my interest can be the interest that the world around me needs.  So share something of yourself and celebrate the gifts of those around you!  They have been waiting for you to notice!!!

 

31. Friendship

“Friendship… is not something you learn in school. But if you haven’t learned the meaning of friendship, you really haven’t learned anything.” – Muhammad Ali

I have had the opportunity and joy to create this blog with two of my best friends. It has truly taught me what great friends can create. Today, even with hundreds of miles separating us, we still are right by each other the whole way.

Two weeks ago I made a new friend, it was as if we were long-lost friends. I was at work and got a call from a man who needed a Bible, he was stuck in the hospital and I just happen to work at a church. When I got to the hospital with a Bible, newspaper, and Top Ramen it was revealed that the man on the phone was in the lock down psych ward. After I talked to the nurse she allowed me through the doors, and I had the chance to sit and talk to this man for about 15 – 20 minutes. I went back and hung out with him for the next 3 days until he was transferred to another hospital in a different city.

Tuesday I was able to meet up with him after he got back to the city I live in. While we were hanging out I was able to take him to fill a prescription. Yesterday, we met up again to spend some time together and he has found a place to live, a job as a cook, and is excited about his new-found life.

I never realized how important human interaction was until I walked through a locked door to meet a complete stranger. The sparkle in Mike’s eye when he saw that someone would take the time to bring him three simple supplies was a humbling experience, and an even deeper learning experience.

Affirmation: There are no strangers, just people who are best friends or deep and meaningful friends I have not met.

Call To Action: Today share a story about you and a long time friend that brings a smile to your face. Maybe there is an interesting story about how you met, or an exciting event that made an acquaintance into close friend.