Day 57

“On even the darkest days the birds still sing and the flowers still bloom.”

So, if the world keeps carrying on, why is it that we think the world is out to get us? Do we really think we understand the laws of nature better than the reality around us?

  • Some days are hard.
  • Some days are rough.
  • Some days you just can’t seem to win.

That’s life. Nature is optimized to ensure the best possible solutions for everyone, not just you. That means while you’re day may be terrible—the world is just fine.

A flat tire, a speeding ticket, the flu, and a pink slip are all just events in your life. These events are insignificant to nature in the grand scheme of the cosmos, but to you they seem all-important.

You must unlearn this self-centered approach to life. It’s disadvantageous to your wellbeing because it encourages you to bemoan hardship rather than shrug it off.

“Life sucks. Then you die. Get over it.” —L. Trumble

I’m not quite as harsh in my own words, but Trumble is right. Life is hard. Don’t complain about your experiences—overcome them, because before you know it, life will be over. Make choices that encourage your growth, development and success now. We never know when when our time will be up.

Day 56

“Persistence can make anything possible.”

One of the remarkable truths about human existence is that with patience, determination and persistence you can make anything a reality.

I came across a worn tree dragged down under the weight of an encroaching vine while walking in a secluded wood. Upon closer inspection, I recognized the plant as a wild grapevine and wondered at its resilience to both survive and actually fruit in the wild.

More impressive still was the recognition that I could learn from this plant’s voracity for life, expansion and growth. Despite the many obstacles it has faced—drought, foraging animals and a shaded canopy, the vine continued to thrive and would soon overwhelm this mighty tree.

That’s what I wanted to learn from nature.

  • How can we be resilient in the face of obstacles beyond our control?

The answer was clear—never stop growing. Day by day—add new growth. Expand your influence and beliefs until you overwhelm the obstacles which stood in your way by conquering them like the vine.

  • Learn something new.
  • Work an extra shift.
  • Exercise to improve your health.
  • Meditate to strengthen your mind.

Day 55

“To be extraordinary, you have to be willing to constantly challenge your perception of the world.”

Do you see the world only through your own eyes or with the perspective of something larger? Be careful. Our moral compass is often swayed by the fear of personal sacrifice.

To put it in another way, we dislike what causes us discomfort, inconvenience or money. Even if the end result would benefit a thousand of our neighbors, we often find such positions unacceptable. We will fight against such changes because our focus is on one person—ourself—and unfortunately that means those around us stop mattering.

Here is the challenge for you. Take all of your deeply held beliefs—politics, economics, religion, ethics, morals and personal values and disavow them.

Perform a thought experiment if you cannot bring yourself to verbally disclose a change of heart. Declare to your friends and family that your mind has changed. That you see things differently, and though nothing appears black and white to you anymore, that you now see too much gray in other people’s opinions.

Explain this other point of view. You don’t have to internally agree with the opposition but you do have to surrender your own beliefs. What you are doing is using your gift of reason and logic to empathize, sympathize and share the many reasons why someone else’s point of view is just as valid as yours.

Just as you cannot learn to swim if your arms never let go of the raft, you must let go of your personal beliefs in order to learn to swim the human ocean of rationalization and bias.

Day 54

“There really is no shortcut to success. It’s takes constant work and repetition to build the skills necessary to earn the life you desire.”

It is only with hard work that greatness can be achieved. Too often we look at those around us and envy their possessions, fortune and fame. The truth is that we’re being unfair if we do so.

What we desire is the fruit of other’s personal or familial labor. We seem to forget to recognize that particular key to success. Success—in whatever form it takes for you—can only be achieved with labor.

  • We can dream of having the fortunes of others all day long.
  • We can want to win the lottery to make everything right.
  • We can envision the great deeds and generous donations we would make to all the charities we adore.

When we do those things, we missed the point. We spent all our energy dreaming but never planning. We will spend all our time imagining how we would spend uncollected fortunes, but we will never plan a way to make that fortune.

For some reason, too many of us just hope that the our lottery ticket will win or that a windfall will come our way. I find that discouraging.

Desire, if not used to motivate you to accomplish what you want, is more often a detriment to your success than an aid.

Day 53

“I find the most rewarding paths to take in life are the ones hidden from sight and hard to find.”

Despite how others may judge you, remember your life is yours alone. You have a responsibility to find both joy and purpose.

If you’re doing no harm, then there’s no need to spend your precious time with thoughts of doubt or guilt. Search for love, kindness and understanding in your life, and others will find it that much harder to hold their own opinions against you.

We live in a world of choice. We can all choose to live together and respect the lives, decisions and beliefs of others.

I’ve heard it said the purpose of life is to find joy and happiness. But what happens when do you find a moment of delight?

  • A birthday cake and a surprise party cannot last forever.

So, I heard the reply—the purpose of life is to live joyfully.

  • Be mindful of each moment, and take the hardships and blessings you find with equal lovingkindness.

Joy is a manifestation of purposeful living. We can choose to live with joy, to find it around us, and to create it in every moment until all we can see are the hidden blessings that surround us.

Day 52

“Even in harsh circumstances you can thrive.”

There is wonderful display of vibrant bromeliads at the Dallas Arboretum that quite poignantly capture this idea. Despite being kept on a rock wall, the plants thrive with the tender care of their keepers.

This is an appropriate metaphor for your own success. You can thrive in any circumstances if you mindfully care to your own affairs.

  • There will be tragedies.
  • There will be hardships.
  • There will be injustices.

You can, however, choose to persevere and be resilient in the face of such difficulties. You have to recognize your personal responsibility to be the keeper of your own success. You must inspire, nurture and care for yourself. There’s no guarantee anyone else will.

Day 51

“Contemplate that, as long as you are too focused on your self-importance and too caught up in thinking about how you are good or bad, you will experience suffering. Obsessing about getting what you want and avoiding what you don’t want does not result in happiness.”—The Lojong text

I often worry about this ever-changing digital world we now live in so obsessively at times. We check for Facebook status updates, Tweets, Instagram stories, Snaps and news feeds just browsing for something to click “like” on or to complain about.

We seem to practice escapism rather than practicing mindfulness by enjoying—living in—each moment. We seem strangely more motivated to snap the perfect photo to share online which strangers than to experience these passing moments of our lives. I think therein lies the crux of the problem.

Living in a moment is about the experience —the people, foods, plants, animals and objects around you. You share this experience and then it passes. You must experience it in order to appreciate it.

Snapping photos can quickly become somehow different. It can easily no longer be about the experience but about you.

  • If we’re so focused on capturing every moment are we ever enjoying any moment?
  • Are we taking and sharing photos as a way to enhance our understanding of an experience or are we really just collecting “likes,” comments and the thrill of showing off what we have?
  • Have photos become a status symbol—a way to show off wealth, health and accomplishments?