Positive Energy (A Sequel)

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Are you an energy enhancer or are you an energy drainer? (I first wrote about this in my 3/17/13 blog.  Since then, I have continued to wrestle with the concept.) Are people happy to see you coming or do they go out of their way to avoid you?  The answers to those questions might reside in the critical question: what do you bring to the party?

I can clearly remember the first time I started to wrestle with the questions of energy enhancement.

I had just encountered a friend at the grocery store. It started as a classic encounter: ‘hi, how you doing’ ‘fine’, ‘how are you?’ ‘life sucks’ and a litany of grey sky perspective poured forth.  It felt like I was encountering Eeyore from Winnie-the Pooh.  The only difference, this Eeyore was in front of me and his personal gloom was on steroids.  I came away from that encounter with a new commitment.  From then on, I committed to seek out and engage energy enhancers.  To this day, given a choice, I will always choose to be with those whose energy is contagious.

That raises the important question: what ingredients do all energy enhancers have in common?

I believe that there are three critical ingredients that a person must have if they are going to be an energy enhancer.

One: energy enhancers are comfortable in their own skin.  They like themselves and they are be committed to being themselves.  Liking yourself is not a narcissistic type of self absorption.  It is a healthy self love/appreciation that develops out of true humility. This is a humility that is based upon who we are and it is girded with an understanding of who we are not.  Therefore, it is an understanding that we are made in the image of God and we are very unique and special in His eyes.  Understanding and appreciating that we are God’s unique creation will, hopefully, fuel our commitment to be 100% authentic.  What you see is what you get.  That sort of authentic humility is profoundly contagious and very empowering.

Second: energy enhancers are excited about their own personal mission and vision.  People that have spent time wrestling with the big question of meaning and purpose, have (quite often) been drawn to the process of discovering why God has put them on the face of the earth and why they have been given the gifts that they have.  This discovery of personal mission & gifting, provides a reason to get out of bed and it provides energy to focus the hours in the day.   Focused, passionate intensity is the empowering gift that comes with knowing the reason for our being, why we are here and where we are going.

Third: energy enhancers choose to live in the present moment.  The drain that comes from yesterday’s memories or the anticipation of tomorrow’s opportunities/challenges distracts us from being all here, right now.  When we can be totally present to the present moment, then we can feel and appreciate all that is happening and we can engage with passion and intensity.  Life is designed to be a contact sport that is lived most vibrantly in contact with the present moment.

Today’s question: are you an energy enhancer or an energy drainer?  Are people excited to see you coming?  What do you bring to the party? Are you bringing it, right now, with an attitude of joy & thankfulness!

May our lives, this day, be a hallelujah from head to toe!

 

 

The Best Day Ever!!

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The alarm penetrated the dark, calling me to the kitchen and the switch on the coffee pot.  As the coffee pot began to perk, I started to focus in on the day  ahead.  I knew it was going to be a good day….even though the sun was far from illuminating the world.  Yet, as I focused in on the thought that today was going to be a good day, I began to wonder….how did I know that today was going to be a good day?  I started to wonder, to question….what was going to keep this good day from being a great day?  More importantly, how could I ensure that this was going to be a great day?

As I reflected upon the journey from good day to great day, I quickly realized that a number of times I had thought a day was going to be great and it left me disappointed.  In a similar sort of way…..there have been many days when I thought it was going to be an average day and it turned into a spectacular day.  My desire is to have more and more average days morph into outrageously great days.  I want those days to blur into the category of being the best day ever (BDE).  And that raises the critical question…..what is my role in making today the best day ever??

Maybe the journey to (BDE) has more to do with what is going on inside of me than what is going on outside of me.   A quick evaluation of my recent history with (BDE) would indicate that this is true.  It seems that the very nature of my expectation that this will be the BDE sets me up to be disappointed.  That is the nature of expectations.  Expectations set me up to be disappointed because “this” does not compare with what I expected.  And even if this day, this event, or this moment did meet my expectations, I might take it for granted because it is nothing more than what I expected.  The very process of taking that which ‘might be’ the BDE for granted allows that day to be a ho-hum.  Because, after all, it is just what I expected.

In order for a day to really be the best it has to stand out, it has to be unique.  That uniqueness happens most often when I allow myself to be surprised by the present moment.  The surprise and the appreciation of the present moment is that which contributes most consistently to the creation of the Best Day Ever.  Therefore, do I see, in the current moment, the ingredients for the best day ever.  Do I see the sunrise? Do I smell the freshly brewed coffee? Do I feel the warm breeze on my cheek? Do I sense the encouragement in a friendly smile? Is the meal in front of me a disappointment or a delightful source of energy? The night of sleep & rest that was just experienced, is it a gift of replenishment or something I do not even notice? Do I realize that the very awareness of the littlest of things is that which contributes most significantly to my being surprised by joy and enveloped by the best day ever.

Being a student of the art of appreciation is that which contributes most consistently to my experiencing the Best Day Ever.  Therefore, it is critical that I take nothing for granted and in everything I say thank you.  The real question for all of us, this day….are we going to be aware of the smallest of things? Are we going to take nothing for granted? Are we going to appreciate all that we have been given that our joy might be full?

I am convinced that being aware and thankful are the critical ingredients for TODAY being the best day ever!!!

RE-joice

Joy or Happiness

  It was a classic evening meal.  It was a great evening meal.  The boys were home and we were sitting around the table talking about all sorts of topics.  Into this mil eau came the topic of joy.  I asked them….what is the difference between happiness and joy?  We bantered this around a bit and I got up and went to my study to grab Webster’s Dictionary.  By the time I came back to the dinning room table with my tome in hand, they had their phones out and were doing their own research.  The difference between the generations reared its head, once again…….but the conversation continued.

The boys were making a case for the idea that happiness is an attitude or mind set that transcends the situation.  They were of the opinion that some people are just happy and they bring that attitude, that buoyancy into any and all situations.   I was making the same sort of case for the concept of Joy.

I was and am, of the belief that joy is a concept that transcends ones life situation.  If joy truly transcends one’s situation then how does that happen? I would like to suggest that the basis of our Joy is to be found in our relationship with the God of the universe.  Paul in his letter to the Philippians says this: “Rejoice in the Lord always. I will say it again: Rejoice!”  It is important to note that Paul is writing these words from a prison cell.  Therefore, it is safe to say that his situation does not dictate the source of his joy.  Yet, Paul encourages us to rejoice. The key to this joy is our ability to return to our joy.  And what is the source of this Joy?  It has to be wrapped up in our understanding of who God is and how it is that he made us.  

Let me review a few of my key beliefs.  These fuel my joy, a joy that transcends my situation. 

Key one: I am made in the image of God.

Key two: I am called into a relationship with God because He loves me.

Key three: when I respond to that call to relationship, God’s spirit starts to live within me.

Key four: filled with His loving spirit, I become His ambassador to a hurting world.

Key five: I am of infinite worth because of who He is & what He has done in me & what He want to do through me  

My joy comes from the incredible fact that the Lord of the Universe loves me, desires me, seeks me, empowers me and rejoices in & through me.  That is the source of my joy! 

That joy cannot be taken from me because it is not about me.  It is about Him and His love! If happiness is situational…..then it depends on what is happening.  Joy is transcendent and transformational It is about a relationship that is unconditional!

 As we move into this new year, I would like to encourage you to reflect upon the source of your Joy. What is the source of your joy?  Is it situational? Is it transformational?  

May we rejoice and give thanks as we celebrate all we have been given! as we celebrate a new year!  

Old Friends

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I first met Joe and Harry while I was in graduate school in the late 1970s.  At the time, I did not appreciate who they were or the depth of their insights.  Now, thirty-five years later, I am starting to appreciate the significance of their thinking.

Joe Luft and Harry Ingham developed an information processing tool that is known as the Johari Window.  It is a way of understanding what we know about ourselves and also, what we do not know.

The concept is that each person has four quadrants. Quadrant one is that part of a person that is known to others and it is known by the individual. This is known as the open arena.  This is the information that one puts on a resume or posts to Facebook.

Quadrant two consists of that information that is known by others but is not known by the individual. This is often referred to as a persons blind spot.

Quadrant three consists of that which is known by the individual but it is not known by others.  This is the hidden area of a persons life.  Normally, this is the area that we hope nobody will come to know.  Discovery in this arena often leads to a sense of shame and it is fueled by a fear. This is the fear that says: “if you knew me, you would not like me”.

Quadrant four consists of information that is unknown.  This information is not known by the individual nor is it known by others.  Because it is unknown, it represents an arena of great adventure as one sets out to discover that which they do not know about themselves. The greatest sadness is to think that there is nothing to discover.  This sort of thinking usually develops when an individual sees themselves as quite simple or they see themselves as all knowing.  Neither of these positions facilitate learning. Both are based on a false understanding of who we are. Neither arrogance or ignorance, when left unexamined, facilitate growth.

Once we start to understand these four quadrants, then we need to explore what it means to grow within these four quadrants.  I would suggest that the starting point for this growth rests within quadrant four.  The quadrant that is unknown to self and to others, is the quadrant that is known only by God.  It is within the context of a relationship with God, the one who made me, calls me, empowers me and loves me that I have the possibility to really start to discover the totality of who I am.  Here I have the possibility of starting to see and understand myself through the lens of the one who created me.  I start to know and be known in new and empowering ways.  This knowing combats that which is unknown in quadrant four.

An encounter with the Divine in quadrant four is transformational and empowering.  It allows me to enter into community and into relationship with humility and confidence. Open, honest, and loving relationship becomes the context for growth in quadrants two and three.  I know that in the context of relationship I can allow you to see what I have kept hidden because I know that my identity transcends our relationship.  I know that I can allow you to speak truth into my life because, no matter what you might have to say, that which eliminates my blind spots is that which allows me to grow.

Therefore, this day, as you and I reflect on the four quadrants of life…….the question becomes, will we enter into the adventure of quadrant four?  Will we risk encountering the One who made us in ways that will allow us to know and be known?  Out of the intimacy of that knowing will we have the courage to look at our blind spots and reveal that which is hidden?

This might represent the ultimate adventure.  Live life……choose adventure!!

Presence

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Two friends, both on a different coast, sitting in hospital rooms, waiting for a loved one to recover.  The chances of complete recovery are very slim.  Life, as they have known it, has changed forever.  What are they left with?  What greets them this morning?

They are greeted, this day….with a new day.  This new day is full of questions, it is full of waiting, it is full of uncertainty.  Will she live?  Do I need to find long term nursing care, hospice care?  What will our days look like? What will my days look like?  Is this the reason we have been together all these years?  Will our resources last?

God, where are you in the middle of this?  God, why have you been so silent?  God, do you care?  What are you wanting me to learn from this?  The questions rage inside, erupting into tears of frustration and groans of desolation.

In all of this there are messages from Scripture that seem to rattle around in my head and cause me to wonder.  “I will never leave you or forsake you.”  “Ask whatever you will and it will be given to you.” “Rejoice in the Lord, again I say rejoice.”  ” Have no anxiety about anything but in everything let your request be made known to God.”  “Ask and you will receive and your joy will be complete.”  “Never will I leave you.  Never will I forsake you.”

This morning, in the silence, there is life in review.  I admit that I do not understand very much. But I do understand that You, the Creator, have blessed me with life! You have called me, You have empowered me, You have loved me and You have allowed me to love others.  Out of the middle of my current chaos, I am aware of the incredible gifts that You have allowed me to experience.  You have allowed the life & love of others to speak to me of Your love.

Now Lord, as You call me to love this person…..help me to love her unconditionally.  Help me to understand that I am called to be Your presence, in her life. Lord, help my friends, as they sit in that hospital room, to know Your love and to understand that they are the conduit of that love.  Lord help all of us to be Your agents of Your unconditional, reconciling, healing love….this day.  Therefore, knowing that You are doing something in and through us…….may we rejoice and be glad.  You have blessed us to be a blessing!

Fear…The Immobilizer

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Most of my life I have had a great affection for the local gym. Yet, today, as I go to the cross fit gym I find myself quite fearful.  I am fearful that I might not have what it takes to complete the WOD, workout of the day. I am fearful that someone might discover how weak I really am….that I might discover how weak I really am.  Maybe, I should just stay home.

The gym has been a means to an end. It was a path that would lead to a ….starting position on the football team, a wrestling scholarship, a mountain summit or a first ascent of a frozen waterfall.  Ultimately, it made a great contribution as to how it is that I defined myself as a man.

Those experiences, along with a bunch of others, start to raise the question…..how do I define myself as  man?  Big picture, how do I define myself as a person?

I would suggest that I am uniquely defined by my relationships and my experiences.  It is in the context of relationships that a mirror is held in front of my face and I get to see who I am and what I am all about.  In a similar sort of way, my experiences help me to see myself and who it is that I am and who it is that I am becoming.

The interesting aspect of all of this…..often, I do not like what the reflections are telling me.  My reflection often tells me I am inadequate, selfish, unlovable….not ok.  At those points I have often find myself running around and propping up my sagging image.  I am hoping to discover that I am truly ok.  Yet, all I really discover is that image management takes a lot of work.

If I take my sagging ego into the gym, I can…in theory, give it a boost. I can prop it up.  But ultimately it will be an ego boost that is based upon comparison and it will be short lived.

My hope is that you will not discover that I am weak, short, bald, fat and not ok.  Ultimately, it becomes easier to avoid the gym so that I might maintain the facade that is fueled by fantasy.

So what is the relationship, what is the experience that allows me to go into the gym?  The experience and the relationship are wrapped around the fact that I am loved unconditionally by the God who made me.

Therefore, I go into the gym not to impress anyone.  I am not working on my image and I am not trying to improve my reflection in your eyes or my eyes.  I am trying to be a good steward of the gifts that I have been given.

I find my growth paradigm in Luke 2:52.  Jesus grew in wisdom & stature and favor with God and man.  So, today, I jump on my bicycle and ride to the gym to be a good steward of this thing called life.  I have come to know that I am called to be vibrantly alive so that I might reflect His love & His grace.

What is your growth paradigm?  Are you growing?  Is your life becoming the hallelujah it is designed to be?

I Do!

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An outdoor celebration of love and commitment was unfolding before my very eyes.  The groom and the wedding party had already worked their way to the front of the outdoor amphitheater.  Now the bride, in all of her radiant beauty, was walking with her proud father to the front of the assembled guests.  Something wonderful and magical was about to happen.  Two were in the process of becoming one.  Lord willing, a union was forming that would last a life time.  A union that would bring great joy to all.

At the end of this marriage ceremony the bride and the groom signed a marriage certificate/license….a contract? This was also signed by the best man & the maid of honor.  I too signed the certificate. This marriage contract is recognized by the state of Colorado.  It certifies that this marital union is  official.

This certificate is a  legal document.  Therefore, it implies conditionality:  I will love you as long as you love me.  But once you stop loving me than I do not need to continue to love you.  It implies the essence of quid pro quo.

The marriage certificate invites us to weigh and measure what the other person is doing compared to what we are doing.  It measures behavior….it does not measure the heart.  It does not transform the heart.

God does not talk about marriage in terms of contract. He talks about it in terms of covenant.  The marriage covenant is about loving unconditionally.  Yet, unconditional love is outside our natural ability.  So why talk about it?  God’s design is that the bride and the groom are each uniquely and profoundly connected to Him.  That unique, profound and individual connection allows them to love one another in selfless and heroic ways.  It allows them to embody servant leadership.  God is in the business of transforming the heart so that we can love the other, unconditionally.

Ephesians talks about loving our spouse as Christ loved the church.  How did Christ love the church?  He gave everything He had that the church might flourish.  That sort of love is only possible as one is connected to the source of infinite love….God, himself.

My covenant commitment is about loving God and allowing Him to love me.  Out of that relationship I am called and I am empowered to love my beautiful bride, no matter what.  Ultimately, she is called into that same empowering relationship. She is called to love me unconditionally.  Yet, if she does not do that,  I am still called & empowered to love her unconditionally.  That is the adventure!

The couple that is signing their marriage contract today is embarking on an adventure.  They are beginning the journey of loving in extravagant, unconditional ways. This journey is possible because they are extravagantly loved.

How is His extravagant love transforming your heart and changing your journey this day?

Amp The Joy!

Dick

Motorcycle Maintenance

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Every once in a while I have an opportunity to speak to a group of men.  The topic that I love to talk about is the meaning and purpose of life.  Often I will start those talks by asking how many people have read Pirsig’s Zen and The Art of Motorcycle Maintenance.  I love the blank stares that seem to accompany the apparent randomness of such a question.  I proceed to tell them that the book has much to teach us and it is worth the time and energy.

Pirsig raises the question of knowledge….how do we know what we know?  Philosophers call this question epistemology.  Some might answer that question by saying that someone told them the answer. Or some might say that they just know.  Here they are referencing that body of knowledge called experience.  Or, quite often it will be a combination of being told and experiencing the lesson, that allows them to reach their conclusions and their depth of knowing.

Pirsig would suggest that all of life is a series of chatauquahs.  These ‘class room’ experiences that life seems to give us are the window of all knowing.  To the extent that our experience lines up with the cognitive (head) knowledge we are acquiring….then we know, without a doubt.

What is most interesting about  the classroom called life is that most any person can become my professor.  That concept starts to change my encounters.  When I see you as a professor, than it is critical that I investigate what it is that I need to learn from you.  You are the teacher, I am the student and everything starts to change.  I try to see the world through your eyes and I try to understand how you reach your conclusions, make your decisions and find meaning and purpose in your day.  Implicitly, I am honoring and respecting my teacher. You, my teacher, will be valued.

Scripture encourages us to serve one another and to honor one another (Romans 12:10).  Often, I am not sure how to do that.  But when I start to see you as the teacher and I am the student, than my role is to learn from you….then I start to have a practical idea as to how I might love, serve, honor and respect you.  You become the Mr. Miyagi (Karate Kid2) in my world and both of our worlds are enriched.

Today, who are your mentors?  Who are you learning from?….are you seriously asking the questions that allow the university of life to mold you into the person God has designed you to be?

Discover the teachers! Embrace the University of life.  Amp the joy!

D

Rewire the Day

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As a young boy I would wake early and snuggle into my blanket and wait for the day to begin.  The day always began with my mother coming into my room and singing: “This is the day, this is the day that the Lord has made, we will rejoice and be glad in it.”  My response was always the same…..I would burrow deeper into my covers.

Now, many years later, I am totally convinced there are better ways to start the day.  Launch into the new day the night before.  The new day needs to begin as I am shutting down the day that I have just finished.  This way I can rejoice in the day I have been given and I can prayerfully get ready for what is beginning.

Ten months ago I was reading about creation in the book of Genesis.  At the end of each creative event, we are told: “There was evening and there was morning-the ___ day.”  As I started to look at this wording I came to understand that, a long time ago,  a day started in the evening and went until the evening of the next day.  In some ways this was not new…..I always finish a day in the evening.  But what was very new was the concept of starting the day in the evening.  This idea has  changed my routines and impacted the way I think.

The greatest change might be the way I bring closure to my day.  I now end my day in review & prayer.  I look back over the events of the day.  As I do this I am looking for places where I encountered God and His spirit at work.  I look for places where I was able to contribute, to serve, to encourage and uniquely care.  I want to be in a position to learn, to grow, to say thank you and to say I am sorry.  The daily review is something that I do in my journal. This written record feels and sounds like a prayer.

At the end of the daily review, I bring the new day into focus.  I look at all that is on my plate for the new day. I think about the appointments and the activities that will define my day and I make notes about what I need to do.  Then I close my notebook & prayerfully reflect on the opportunities ahead.   I have come to realize that just getting everything out of my head and down on paper (David Allen: Getting Things Done) helps me move into the most  significant event of the new day: sleep.

I have repositioned sleep into the first hours of the new day. Therefore I treat it with greater respect.  I start to make sleep a priority because I understand the rest of the day will reflect the success of this energy enhancing event.

So, I encourage you to rewire your day.  Start and finish your day at different place.   Allow your energy to be enhanced and your joy to be amped!

Embrace Life!  D