Happy Monday! Attack today with enthusiasm, laughter, thousands of smiles and cheerfulness. Have a great week!
Have you thought much about The American Dream? You have probably heard a hundred definitions all of which use the words equality, opportunity and liberty. Wikipedia has a very good definition that I may quote later.
And I say later because I want to get back to the action part of this day. The part that says to go out and do something. As Americans, we are taught from an early age that in addition to being endowed with our own personal sovereignty and being born in the land of opportunity, that there is nothing we cannot do. Its a country where a couple of geeks in their garage can tinker around with electronics and create Apple. Another awkward kid from relatively humble beginnings can grow up to create Microsoft. And there are thousands and thousands of stories like this.
So what has made us so special? Of the 7 billion odd people on this planet, are American’s the only ones who can do this? Obviously not. However I would say that the way that we are raised, with the attitude that nothing can get in our way and we have the right and the privilege to to do whatever we want (so long as it does not get in the way of everyone else’s right to do the same). Growing up in a world where our daily life reflects this can do attitude gives Americans a leg up. We are already 2 to 3 steps up the ladder to success vs people who have not had that felling as part of their lives.
I began with this description of America mainly because America is The Land of Opportunity. How else to a measly 330 million individuals command more wealth and drive more innovations and success than the other 7.3 Billion in the world?
I do not think it comes from anything genetic that we are born with. Unless what you are morn with is simply the fact that you are here.
The success we see is in an attitude that simply has not been bred in the same way around the world. Our society is born and bred with the idea that WE ARE EXCEPTIONAL. We are endowed by our creator with unalienable rights – those of life liberty and pursuit of happiness. (its not a very big secret BTW – and one that the other 7.3 Billion might want to know that they are too – they just have to tell all the people “above them” that that is the case.
So given that we know it, many of us go out and just do it. And the success of our nation is the result.
How many times are you out and about, living your life, when an idea hit you? You imagine the perfect shoe or shirt that will absolutely change the world. It is so amazing that it will improve every aspect of your life and the lives of everyone you know. AND once you create it, you will become fabulously rich and famous overnight! Then you step off the curb into a puddle of water, your foot is soaks and you forget all about it.
The How about the idea is often a mystery. But there are ways that you can amp up your chances of making it happen. Its all about getting yourself into the right mindset. I found a cool article about creating ideas. If you are interested, read it here:
I cannot vouch for its effectiveness, but it was entertaining to read.
But then you need to create the mindset to make bring your idea to life. And this is not necessarily something that you learn. It is something that you feel. It is a fire lit inside of you.
Back in the 1920’s, Napoleon Hill penned an omnibus report called The Law of Success in 16 Lessons. It was the culmination of years of research and interviews with some of the most successful people of his times. It was read by some of the greats and then summarily ignored.
He then summarized his findings in a shorter, tighter version called Think an Grow Rich. In this book, he discusses little know concepts at the time, The Law of Attraction being one. Its basic definition is embodied in his statement:
He then goes on to describe part of the way of ensuring success is by creating a Burning Desire for your ideas. It is this burning desire that pushes an individual into action after action after action.
So back to the project of the day. How do you bring your most incredible idea into reality? This is something we should all do. It is our right. It is our privilege.
Last year about this time, I had an idea. I wanted to create a blog about gardening. I came up with the idea and immediately went to Namecheap, bought a domain and set up the blog. From idea to reality was less than an hour and at a cost of about $14. Astrogardens came to life.
Within 24 hours, I wrote the first 2-3 posts and began planning my garden. I bought seeds on Amazon. I made diagrams of how my gardens would look in my yard. I made plans about what I would be growing and where.
Now the weather did not cooperate so well, and I did not get my first seeds in the ground until April. But the idea was set in motion.
Action is required to put ideas in motion. Take action today.
Most of us have heard the biblical parable about the Good Samaritan. A Man is beaten by the side of the road. He is passed by an not helped by rich people and religious people who should offer and hand. And then is offered help by the Samaritan. One who would not be expected to help offers a hand to one it need. Saying it is not the category of person, but what might be in their heart that determines their actions.
We used to go camping throughout the state of California. We would go out once a month with a camping group through the Elks Lodge to locations all over Southern California. And from there, we had Mountains, Deserts, Beaches and Amusement parks to choose from. We would ride motor cycles, hike, swim, shoot guns. You name it.
As the Elks group, we would see other camping groups traveling around. The most curious to me were the Good Sams. The point of this organization was always lost on me until someone clued me in. I always through that they were just competition.
But their value as fellow campers who have pledged to stop when they see someone pulled over at the side of the road. And going out so often, we faced some of these challenges. There were a couple tire blowouts we dealt with. And then there was the time we jack knifed the trailer on the way up to Yosemite. Luckily the car and trailer were still driveable, and we were on our way to vacation. But the help we received on the road each time was never forgotten. And on occasion, when we were able, we paid it back.
Charitable work is a funny thing in our society. You often wonder what drives people to do charity work.
For me, it is obvious. I grew up going to a church who had its hands in many many charities. There was the Bishop’s Fund for World Relief – who did a soup drive every year. Members would donate soup items and receive a box themselves to make some of this charity soup. As I recall, the memory of that soup will always remind me of what we were doing and why (I thought it sucked, but my parents raved about it). We also sponsored weekly dinners as well as a food pantry that we were always donating to.
Then there were the annual trips down to the veteran’s hospital to deliver Christmas gifts. I always went along and remember vividly when I was sixteen and my dad gave me the keys to the truck to drive the load into the veterans hospital in downtown LA. There were the magic shows and events our club would sponsor for kids with Downs syndrome.
I grew up around it as part of the things we do to make the world a better place.
This is a difficult question for many people. Because often, even acknowledging a fear is as good as setting it off. We often bury our fears around and behind so many barriers so as not to ever have to face them.
In reading the article that began this journey, the Conquering Your Fears task seemed more like another “Just Do It!” kind of thing. They picture rock climbers suspended in the air in hammocks – for fear of certain death should they roll our of bed on the “Wrong Side.” What better way to illustrate things that that are fears to conquer then looking at something that makes me cringe and my stomach tie up in knots.
An example that we see blowing up the internet over the past few years is extreme Selfies. These are pictures of people in dangerous (usually super high and impossible) locations, taken with selfie sticks from a high angle.
To me they seemed like the next generation of planking photos (people taking pictures posed prone and stiff as a board). These were often in weird or ironic locations like in front of a sign or at the entrance to a building. I think that a few of them were taken in places like the edge of a building or on the cliff in front of the Grand Canyon.
After seeing so many of them, business owners and many others started banning the practice of plank pictures. I tended to think it was because they were so embarrassing.
But any search on the word “Extreme Selfies” will get you a plethora of gut wrenching pictures.
The idea of facing your fears has become a theme in many reality TV shows. Consider Survivor – where contestants are placed on an island and forced to brave the elements and challenging tasks to become the sole survivor. Each season there is at least one contestant that has joined just to say that they have faced their fears.
Another show, Fear Factor, gets directly to our point. What scary things might you face in order to win money. And then you can watch the people have to eat disgusting things, handle snakes and bugs, perform tasks at heights or at fast speeds. Call the winners the ones with the least fears or the most nerve or just lucky.
We watch these shows for so many reasons. Maybe we want to see them fail. That way you can say you aren’t so bad, since someone else was more scared than you might be. Or you can cheer the winners for conquering those fears.
While I admit to enjoying these contests, I also remember that its just a show. Should someone actually be in danger of falling 200 feet face first and dying, that would be something. For any horror fans, you might want to pick up the book The Running Man. It was made into a terrible movie with Arnold Schwarzenegger. It almost perfectly predicted where Reality TV could go in a dystopian future. Where people agree to try to win life changing amounts of money. But the cost mught be that they cut off their hand, are permanently maimed or something horrible like that. Reality TV today does not go that far. But depending much people’s value of life falls, who knows where we might end up.
When I first though about this, I thought of my own irrational fears. Snakes for one. Hate them. Or tight enclosed places. NO NO NO!
But I think even worse than any of these are the real life horrors. There are those of us who lost people close to them at an early age. My Dad dies when I was 25. Many of my own fears surround the loss of people close to me suddenly now. I worry about my health and that I do not fall into the traps that killed him.
Even worse, consider life threatening diseases. I remember when I was in 2nd grade, a girl a few years older than I was contracted Cancer. It was leukemia. I knew about her through a friend on my street who knew her. But I saw it more first hand as her sister was in my class. As she fought the disease, we would see her at school. And then we wouldn’t. We heard word when she passed, and no one was prepared for how to handle it.
This was the 70’s. Cancer wasn’t mainstream news, though it was obviously all over the place. We did not have councilors or safe spaces. I remember that was a fear I held onto for years. The fear of getting cancer. Or of someone I knew getting cancer.
Add this real life experience to people who experience trauma, death of a parent, death of a family member, loss of a pet.
I often wonder at slasher movies. Not only is the death happening through the movie. But think of the aftermath that they do not show. Consider how often cop dramas show the main characters shooting guns and killing people. Then how often do you see those characters curled up in a ball in the corner of a closet dealing with the trauma.
So whether it is facing extreme fears, or the horrors of daily life, what we are talking about is how you face these fears and how you deal with them.
The point of this challenge is to actively confront extreme conditions. Look them in the face without batting an eye. Or maybe you do bat an eye and then figure out how to get past it. What are the things going through your mind. Are they stopping you and holding you back? Or are they saving you from doing something that could get you killed?
I think about how often I stood in the brink of Stoneman Bridge in Yosemite, deciding whether or not to jump off. It was only a short drop – maybe 20-25 feet. The water deep enough – though maybe only 50 degrees if we were lucky. Done it a bunch of times. But standing there, the old fears return. You face them, and then take the step.
Are you an adrenaline junkie? Does the idea of sky diving or hang gliding get your blood pumping? Some are and some aren’t.
I for one have always liked extreme entertainment. Roller Coasters, surfing, Bike Racing (Mountain and Road), Bridge jumping.
At amusement parks I would always go for the fast rides. Take me to the top and drop me off. Spin around in circles til you vomit (I never have, but you get the point).
That being said, I rarely consider any of it dangerous. Dangerous was hanging over the edge of Half Dome in Yosemite to get a picture of the valley down below. I would put that in the category of not so safe. Climbing up the cables to get up to the top. Also not so safe.
As I recall, by the time I got up there, there was no part of adrenaline junkie in me. Climbing the cables was more about getting to the top of that mountain. It was 12 miles of hiking pretty much straight up. I would call it white knuckle fear mixed with exhaustion. Hanging over the edge was more of a “Now I am here, I will be damned if I can’t prove it.”
But between Motorcycle riding, dune buggying, surfing, boogie boarding, sailing, water skiing, snorkeling, river rafting, snow tubing, I was lucky to have had the opportunity to do many things growing up.
But much of the idea of this day is to not pine away on the internet or in books thinking and dreaming about doing things. Life is about living. Just doing it.
When I went away to college in San Diego, I chose to take sailing as an elective for my first year. Why not. They had boats and I could get credit to spend one afternoon per week out on the bay. Starting with sabots, we moved to small racers, to J’s and Catamarans.
One afternoon we were surprised to take out a 12-man boat. They put me at captain due to my cat win the week before. Unfortunately the 12 pound hangover from the night before did not have me in the best shape to do a whole lot. But after about 10 minutes I got the hang of it. But if I hadn’t been pushed, I may never have tried.
Having a friend or two to do it with can help. But it is the adventurous spirit inside that keeps spurring you to try new things.
Consider former President George H. W. Bush on his 90th birthday jumping tandem out of an airplane. You might say, why would you do that at age 90? Why not? Just Do It!
As far as Kite Surfing, I tried sail boarding once. I wasn’t very good and had to paddle back to the dock. Its not for everyone.
A number of years ago, one of our President’s made it part of their platform to promote the idea of Mentorship. a quick internet search on “Presidential Platforms Mentoring” should have yielded what I was looking for. But it did not. Which means there was probably something good about the program and they did not want anyone finding out that someone Google did not like (ie someone names Bush) had brought it to the forefront of our consciousness. So much for mind control I found it anyways. It was part of W. Bush’s 2004 platform.
I remember it pretty well because at the time, i was a member of a service organization and we received an official looking document from the Government outlining all sorts of ways that we could sponsor “mentorship” within our communities. And no matter how creepy it was that The Gov was trying to structure how our charity work was done, they did have some very good ideas.
Mentorship was a way that they were trying to right the wrongs done by the break up of the family unit by divorce etc, the decline in religious attendance throughout the country, and a Hands-Off approach in the school system towards teaching morality.
I grew up in a decent sized family. There were 4 of us kids – for me one older brother and two younger sisters. On my father’s side, the families were larger – with 5, 7 and 4 kids to each of them. We were for the most part the youngest of them. The youngest of my cousins was 3 months younger than me. All the rest were older than I was.
But that was nothing compared to some of the families on my street growing up. We had Mormon Families – one with a dozen kids total. I believe that on the street I grew up on, there were about 58 kids within about 5 years of my age. If you counted the kids a block away, either way, that number increased to at least 100.
In addition to little league and the local Y, the library, we had a couple cub scout troups and church groups that kids were involved in. Kids on our block would also get together for games of Hide and Seek or street football. Being California, we could do it pretty much year round because the weather was right. But we had each other. It was America.
We ask now what education is all about. And if we cede the responsibility to our Government schools, to TV, to You Tube to effectively mold our children . . . we will all be in trouble.
What we, as individuals can and should do is to take an interest in the children in our lives. We all can take an active role in molding and teaching our children about what it means to be a person, in a community, in society. No one learns this kind of stuff from a book. We learn it from interacting with one another.
Life is short. We need to focus on those we love. Thus the idea of doing something with our younger brothers and sisters. As a faher of 9 children, it warms my heart to see the kids playing together. Especially when the older kids are playing with and teaching the younger kids. It is usually games – even video games when they are played together. This year, we intentionally bought games as gifts and played them over the holidays.
So advice for the day or the week is to plan to make time for the children in our lives. Help make them into good human beings. Teach them love and togetherness. Teach them anything you can. But spend time with them.
I guess that they say that you should travel when you are young. And looking at my life so far, much of my travel was done while I was younger – in my 20’s and 30’s for the most part. And I can say that I have seen some Amazing things!
As a kid, we traveled all over Southern California – as well as a couple trips up north. California is blessed with some of the most beautiful and amazing sights. We went to Yosemite every year. It wasn’t until the last trip I took (about 1990 or so) that I made the hike to the top of Half Dome.
Once we visited Sequoia as well. One trip we drove up North, through the Redwoods over Golden Gate Bridge, wine country, The Winchester house. It wasn’t in that order, but the trip was really cool. We camped at the beaches and out in the desert. Yucca Valley and Death Valley were both frequent haunts. Before I was transferred back east, I also spent a day over in Catalina. Up to then, I had thought I had seen all California had to offer. Was I mistaken.
Also as a teenager, I traveled to England for a month – studying at Cambridge. I visited London, Bath, Bristol and Stonehenge. We stopped at Churches all over the Eastern part of England.
Disneyland, Magic Mountain, Knotts Berry Farm, Universal Studios (California and Orlando). Hershey Park. Amusement parks can be fun, but never what i would consider a “destination” for a trip.
More often for work, I have been all over the US – California, Texas, Florida. New England, Vegas, Canada. Illinois. I like to think that i am pretty well traveled throughout the US. I did a Facebook survey of all the states I have visited. I think the number was 30. Not too bad. Add the UK, Mexico and Canada, and I feel that I have been to a lot of places. and fulfilled the quest of taking a trip.
Often the idea of taking a trip can be impulsive. I know that we decided on trips to Vegas after a night of drinking. Come to think of it, Catalina was about the same. These can be adventures. No plans, just a destination.
But also you can spend hours planning your trips. With my family now, planning the trip and getting there are a lot of the fun of the whole thing. On the East coast there is so much to see. We did many of the Virginia Battlefield tours from the Civil War. We have seen Revolutionary war sites in Philadelphia and New England.
While I have been a lot of places, my life is pretty much stationary now. Life choices have made it that way. We like to get away once a year – usually to the shore. The point of this exercise was to get moving and start planning. Not to just sit around – on the internet – dreaming about places to go and living life vicariously through others.
But that vicarious life can work in a number of ways. the Law of Attraction says that you become what you think about. So thinking about exotic locations and sharing in the experiences of others is a way to start the juices going.
One of my favorite travel blogger’s is Ryan Biddulph, with his blog Blogging From Paradise. He has combined a few of his own passions (travel and blogging) as a platform to share his experiences and help as many people as he can reach. I have been reading his wisdom for years – and traveling around the world through his stories. He is in Oman now, and planning to be in Turkey next and then Thailand. All made possible my sharing his passions.
Another blogging/Travel blogger Tim Ferriss is another influencer I have followed for years. His book The 4 Hour Work Week was another inspiration. He shows how some simple but effective methods can help you “just do it” when you face a challenge that may seem impossible to overcome.
So the question is:
For me, it is less what I would like to experience, and more what I would like to experience with my wife and kids. The Take a Trip plan when you are in your youth changes as you grow older. Yes I would like to see exotic locations. But I also see things through different eyes now. I want to experience everything with my constant companion to see her experience them. I want to see my children learn new things and grow from the experiences.
So next, I would like beaches. Maybe the Caribbean islands. I could go for that!
I am always looking for inspiration for writing. And in this case, I have been neglecting by writing on this blog. I should not need reasons to do this.
It follows a reasoning I often offer to friends and clients called Reason Why. we often need to express a “reason why” when we want other people to do things.
Consider this. You say to a friend, “Let’s go out to lunch.” They may say sure. They may not. Instead, say “Let’s go to lunch at this cool little cafe over on main street I noticed. I am hungry and I wanted to try it.”
By offering some details and additional information, the idea sounds a little more enticing. You have painted a little bit of a picture and given a number of Reasons Why the person should agree.
I came across an article today that has inspired me to start a 24 day writing challenge. The article was a list of 24 things you should do while you are still young.
Now, I am not young in body, necessarily. But I am young at heart. When I talk to myself, I am still in my 20’s. I am revved up and ready to go. I want to go our bike riding or traveling or any number of other things. And, due to time or money or hassle, the idea goes no where. And then let’s not forget that my body isn’t always up for the task.
So if nothing else, I am inspired to review this list over the next few weeks. And ask you to join my journey.
The introduction to the article was:
Youth is a time of tremendous energy and spontaneous actions. It’s a period when time goes so slowly, and it seems that everything is still ahead and life will be eternal. We often tell ourselves, ’I’m still young. I still have time to travel, learn foreign languages, find someone special…’ But we often find that time passes more quickly than we think. So don’t waste your time dreaming about your life — live your dreams!
Scroll through your memories for some of the most amazing sunrises you have ever seen.
Off the top of my head, I remember driving up the central valley of California on our annual trip to Yosemite. We would leave super early in the morning and drive in the dark to avoid traffic in LA and over the Grapevine. Sometime between coming down out of the mountains and around Bakersfield, the sun would rise over the southern end of the Sierra Nevadas and flood the valley with sunlight.
This is a changing memory because it is mixed between a number of different trips up to Yosemite. Each had similarities and differences. They were all filled with the anticipation of our vacation in the mountains. Almost all of them included a stop at Denny’s for breakfast – usually in Bakersfield. One time we made it all the way to Fresno before breakfast. We would play auto bingo and listen to really bad tapes like Neil Diamond or John Denver.
I have no photos of this memory, but thanks to people on the internet, they can be found. And this picture is a pretty good representation of what I remember. Except is it looking South, and we were driving North (a small detail I can immediately see) . We would generally travel up 99 and this picture looks more like the 5. But you get the idea.
The sunrise outside our backdoor will look more like the picture at the top – tomorrow. Today we do not have snow, but we are looking forward to getting dumped on over the next few days.
I also remember a pretty breath-taking sunrise from a suspension bridge in Bristol, England. I was suffering from jetlag and decided to take an impromptu walk at about 5 in the morning. It was not raining. I had my camera, but did not take any pics.
For the youth excursion, where might you like to see a sunrise? Beach sunrises are always beautiful. This is something I would not have known back when I was a kid in California.
Now, if you want to spoil the list and read them all now, you can read them all by following the link below. I was even more inspired by the name of the blog. For a few years, I wrote another blog called BrighterSideNow. It is a pretty cool name.
Watch the sun rise in an unusual place