I had no idea what I was going to write about this month until I watched the tragedy unfold in Pittsburgh. I’m sure each of the victims of the shooting didn’t wake up thinking this was their last day on earth . . . but for eleven people, it was (some Holocaust survivors).
This is so obvious, but I’ll say it anyway. Many of us think we have all the time in the world to do this, fix that, or go there. Who knows what tomorrow will bring? By all means, plan for tomorrow, but live for today.
Attached is something I created for myself. It’s a balance sheet to make sure we pay attention to what we have right now. Sure, there’s the things we want, but there is also the things we already have that are often overlooked. Hopefully this will help you (and me) stay focused on what we have now.
Daily Balance Sheet
Real Fears This Year
In the past, people were afraid of speaking in public, spiders (and snakes), clowns, and death. I’m serious. Today, the top fear (according to a USA Today poll) is the corruption of government officials, followed by terrorist attacks.
The difference between the two lists are the things we feared most in “the good old days” were largely preventable–or within our control–don’t like clowns (and I’m with ya here) then avoid going to places where they are.
How do we avoid being a victim of a terrorist attack? Largely, we can’t, but the likelihood of it happening is slim. Government corruption? Again, not much WE can do, other than vote. So worrying about these two things doesn’t do any good.
A couple of things that made the lists from past and present include: Not having enough money for the future, identity theft, and becoming ill. Maybe we can’t completely avoid these terrible things, but there are steps we can take to make them less likely.
I guess what I am saying is, we should worry less, live more, and take control of the things we can control. In the 1950s, some families built underground bunkers in case of a nuclear attack. That took a lot of time and money and in the end, it wasn’t needed.
Living in the Here and Now
Some of you may know the story of how I came to write a book about Sunshine Blake—she knew she was dying and asked me to tell her incredible life story—which I did in the form of a novel. What you may not know—and what I would like to share is—how much our meetings meant and changed my life.
Sunshine was the eternal optimist. She believed that no matter you wanted, the universe wanted you to have it, and would provide for you if you went for it. She also lived without worry because she felt that no matter what happened to you (short of killing you) was supposed to happen, and would make you stronger and better because of it.
Even though I watched her whittle away from week to week due to her illness, she never complained, never asked for anything, and never let me feel bad for her. Instead, she uplifted me each time we met (Wednesdays at her favorite bistro). I learned so much from our time together, but one thing stands out as the most valuable lesson.
Sunshine taught me to not blame anyone else (or anything else) for whatever wasn’t working in my life. Instead, she said to go out there and do something about it. Trust that things will work out, but do the work–control the things you can control. Blaming others for our failures is easy. Owning it, and fixing it is harder, but doable.
My sons and I were getting a quick bite to eat and the total came to $18.03. I said to the cashier, “I have no sense, but I do have three cents in my car.” He replied, “I trust you,” and handed me two bucks back. Right away I went and got the pennies from my car—proving he could trust me.
This made me realize something, when you give people a good reputation to live up to, often times they will rise to the occasion. “I think it’s great you do your best to be on time,” you may say to the person who is chronically late. Sure enough, this person leaves a little earlier and arrives on time.
It’s the same thing with stating the positive outcome you desire instead of telling someone what you don’t want them to do. As a coach, I often tell my pitchers, “Throw strikes,” instead of, “Don’t walk this hitter.” It works . . . usually. You can do it to yourself, too. Years ago I said to myself, “I always remember my dreams.” Sure enough, I do.
As baseball coaches we sometimes sell kids short . . . literally. Sure, most kids aren’t going to make it to the big leagues–and those who will are likely to be the tallest ones. Yet, there are (and have been) plenty of players under six-feet tall.
Jose Altuve is 5’-6” “tall” and weighs 165 pounds, making him the smallest player in the big leagues. He is also the best hitter in baseball over the past six years, being chosen as an All Star and winning the World Series and Most Valuable Player Award in 2017.
When I was young ballplayer I was a Freddie Patek fan. Patek was an All Star shortstop with the Royals who led the league in several offensive and defensive categories. Freddie Patek was 5’-4” tall, but he played much bigger.
Patek once said, “I’d rather be the shortest player in the in the majors than the tallest player in the minors.”
It’s not just being small ion stature and bucking the odds, it’s being seen as less-than-others in some way and overcoming.
Just when you’re feeling good about yourself you’ll hop on Facebook or Instragram and see someone standing next to their fancy new car, looking fabulous in their fashionable new clothes, or celebrating their amazing new job.
It’s natural (and honest) to feel envious or inadequate, to want all that (and more) for yourself. It’s human nature. However, if we don’t look at other people’s postings, maybe we won’t feel those twangs of envy. Just sayin’.
When we compare ourselves to others (and social media has brought this to the forefront) there are always going to be people who (seemingly) have more than we do. If you’re happy with who you are and what you have, enjoy it. Celebrate it. Appreciate it. Accept it.
The only other way to see it is to be happy for those who have “made it” or have it made. Or, use it to fuel your fire to lose weight, start a business, work harder, do more, and get your butt in gear. Turn envy into empathy and feelings of inadequacy into energy–and engage more in your own life.
The Second Half of the Year Starts Now
If the first half of this year was all you hoped it would be, keep it going in the second half (which starts this month). If January to June was nothing like you hoped it would be, start over with a new approach for the second half.
Good or bad, what each camp has in common is a hope that the (immediate) future will be better. I have one foot in each camp–the year started strong and didn’t slow down until June. I believe good things are right around the corner–I have to believe that.
The minute we start to go to the dark side (doom and gloom) we’re done. If I believed a book wouldn’t sell, nobody is booking speakers, or I’ll never be skinny again, I would just quit trying. However, hope fuels the fire that propels us (me) forward.
I’m going to work extra hard this summer to set things up for a successful fall and winter. I’m optimistic, but also realistic. For me, things don’t just happen, I have to make them happen. How about you? Are you hopeful or are you skeptical? Are you proactive or reactive? Do you believe things will be better?