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Staying happy in an angry world

I have long since accepted that the world around me is largely angry.  Social media has illustrated this completely but daily living and just a dose of the news can make it painfully obvious without even really trying.

Make no mistake, however, I will not claim myself to be an observer only.  As an active empath and a man with a daily task to remain aware of his own character defects and ISMs, I am often painfully aware and fully conscious of my own tendency to find what is not “acceptable”  in something and experience a bit of displeasure, raising my anger levels as well.

What has become most important for my path is not about the anger, or what I find myself angry about, but more within my reactions to the triggers and stimuli.  The more I am aware that the outside world is going to push my many, many buttons, (anyone who doesn’t have at least a couple is numbed out or lying) the more I can use an active set of tools and solutions to arrest the urges and take the deep breathes necessary to make sure the outcome of these thoughts is not something I end up having to regret or, worse, requires an amends down the road.

One of my best tools is to let go of ego.  Invariably it does not matter if I am angered with something or someone.  Knowing that something does not agree with me does not afford me the right to do anything about it outwardly.  Sure, there is the right to an opinion.  Definitely there is room for good, healthy action towards positive result.  But the moment I begin to believe that I am “owed” anything or retribution or retaliation is a good idea is the moment I have slipped from solution and into the creation of a problem that will involve me directly (whereas the likelihood is it’s origin was not.)

There is a lot to be angry about in this world.   I have experienced plenty in my life that could (or has) set me in a dour and indignant direction.  Going there has never provided me with the happiness that I honestly feel should be (and is) my only true destination for the years that I have left on the planet.  I became tired of believing that my being right is more important than the happiness I know I am capable of achieving and experiencing.  I have struggled with and continue to learn the true nature of forgiveness and remembering that many (if not most) of my triggers are not about me at all (Thank you to The Four Agreements.)

But anger is real.  It persists.  It shows up when I am not expecting it.  Triggers are inevitable and not to be toyed with.  I need to recognize and continue to work on these and any new form of external or internal incitation.  Without my awareness and the continual maintenance of my spiritual world I run a very sincere risk of not living my best life.

It’s entirely possible I’ve experienced that in the past and did not enjoy it, therefore I think it wise to not repeat the mistakes of my past (to the best of my ability.)  The most important thing I can bring to this topic, however, is the reminder that I have in my arsenal the best solution for anger in all my situations:

Stop. Smile. Breathe.

It’s all about the perspective

What am I focusing on today?

How often do I find myself fighting fear or confronting demons disguising themselves as insurmountable problems and pessimistic scenarios.  My head can easily default to “why is this happening to me,” and “what’s wrong with me?”  It can be normal to feel that I deserve something and the world at large is somehow preventing me from attaining that goal or desire.  The best of us will likely always find ourselves feeling entitled to results forgetting all too quickly that life doesn’t always work in linear patterns to provide us with rewards for doing the right thing, working hard or being a nice person.  It most definitely won’t follow that pattern when we are only under the perception that these things are true.

With the right perspective, however, I am abel to see the world always provides me with wonderful things, even IF they don’t necessarily appear to be what I have asked for or what I believe I want.

Perspective, I am so often reminded, can be the difference between an enjoyable day or a case of victimization.  When I feel things are not as they should be I am really only fooling myself in that moment.  If things were not meant to be a certain way, they would not be the way they are.  Accepting and reacting differently to what you are working with can often be the difference in the way you feel.  The way you feel is likely going to result in a cyclical ‘pattern’ that comes out of your perception and creates and easier and possibly better environment moving forward. I want to believe that my world is as good as I choose it to be whether I am in situations that feel less desirable or whether they seem to be going exactly the way I would believe I want them to go.

Gratitude is perceptions best friend.  It is a key to the ability to recognize the positive in any situation.  Even if it feels there is nothing good in a moment, a day or a time period it is often vital to how I grow in the future.  It is a potential lesson in the making if I am willing to look at it as a soul who wants to learn and grow.  Things may not be what we feel we deserve but with a twist of perception we can understand that we are not only getting what we deserve but whatever is meant to be.  The positive thinker will realize even the toughest of lessons are going to pass (and often, if not always, with a chance to create better moments in our future.)

I had a sponsor who once taught me that God (or whatever you choose to call your higher power) has only three answers:  Yes, no or not now… but I have something better.  I am a firm believer that my gratitude for the world around me, what I have learned, been provided and experience on a daily basis, is the best possible focus for my perception.  When something happens that makes me uncomfortable, angry, upset or afraid it is in my best interest to shift my focus and look at the things that are working beautifully.  With the right perception I can not only remember what is good, but help myself to move out of what I have perceived to be bad.

And for those of us who come upon the day or time period where you don’t feel that gratitude is possible, I would suggest you stop and remember how much there is out there beyond the negatives in social media and the news that spell warmth, love, “success” and all manner of positive in your life.

It’s there.  The right focus and perception will make it more obvious.  To find it you only need to:

Stop. Smile. Breathe.


My life as a novel

My life has been filled with endless storylines, characters, twists, turns, ups & downs.  I have often likened the various stages to chapters in a novel, and today I am writing to talk to the need and desire to turn a page and begin a new one.

As a writer I have learned the keys and hints for when to change a chapter.  For one it should always be dictated by the story.  It could be a in a place where your “story” requires a shift or it could be a place where the action is at a peak, in order to convince a reader to keep reading (and not put that book down.) Where I sit in my life today necessitates a bit of both of these scenarios.  I honestly feel the shift is overdue, bringing with it a boost of energy and challenge, but it is important to note that I am busier than I have ever been and the “action” in where my life currently sits is most definitely peaking.

Change doesn’t tend to scare me the way it does others.  I embrace it and will often seek it out.  It is, however, important to note that I am aware some changes are not asked for and can be a bit disruptive.  The change that I am looking for in my world right now does not mean that I am unhappy or ungrateful for where I am or the opportunities I have been given in the world of career, but they do mean that I am ready and very, very willing to accept new challenges and feel a bit of the spark I have known in other phases and chapters in my life.

I am fighting complacency and a storm of dissatisfaction around me.  Make no mistake: I am in charge of my life and environment and I do not and will not blame those in my midst for anything that may or may not be working for me.  What I do know is I am working 11 and 12 hour days and reminding myself endlessly that I am, wherever I may be,  there to be of service.  What I feel, lately, is that I have reached a peak with what I am and can be where I currently exist and need to advance in some way or another whether it is within the confines of the current situation or outside in another environment.  I have held on for a good long time in this chapter feeling there was every reason to believe the changes that would come with the sort of work I do were inevitable.  I am learning that it doesn’t appear to be on anyone’s map and it is only going to be my own fault if I do not make some decisions and changes on my own to turn the page without waiting for it to be someone else’s idea.

There is always fear in big change.  I feel the risk of rocking a boat and disrupting some things I don’t necessarily want to change within the change.  But I also believe dramatically in myself and the God of my understanding.  This combination has provided me with the trust in my capability, my talents, my strengths and my future.  I am what I am through a ton of education and experience and to believe for even a moment that I am not capable of more through challenge, growth and the adventure of taking a leap would be to sell myself (and future chapters) short.

In a nutshell this is about believing in myself, taking actions and staying out of the results.

It is also important to remind myself that I am only human.  It is, without fail, easier to plot, plan, wish and hope for a change than it is to actually start to work through it.  Were I to see my page turn and the chapter shift as I have spoken to here today, it would be a lot more frightening in reality than it is in theory.  Fortunately I have enough practice in both the planning and shifting… and faith and trust to know that whatever the outcome it is meant to be. If the changes I seek happen or if they do not I am better for the participation in my own life, the actions taken and the reminder for me what I am worth.

Whatever the outcome I am looking for an exciting novel, a page-turner and maybe even a movie-deal down the road.


I’ve got my finger on the triggers

No, ladies and gentlemen, I am not talking about firearms.

A trigger is something that sets off a memory tape or flashback transporting the person back to an event of her/his original trauma.  For me it is also a floodgate into thinking alcoholically (read: my ISM takes flight) based on resentments or fears that have not been fully worked out.)

Triggers are very personal; different things trigger different people. The receiver may begin to avoid situations and stimuli that she/he thinks triggered the flashback. They will react to this flashback/trigger with an emotional intensity similar to that at the time of the trauma. A person’s triggers are usually activated through one or more of the five senses: sight, sound, touch, smell and taste.

But all triggers are not about trauma.  For me they can also represent fears and defense mechanisms that strongly suggest I lose my handle on some of the character defects I may have worked on, but need  to understand there may never be a solid or complete solution for throughout my lifetime.

Today I thought I would get honest about a trigger of my own that I had been unable to understand completely until it was revealed to me this weekend.  My work is an all-intensive and very much a problem into solution environment.  I often find myself at odds (or overwhelmed) with the barrage of negatives that we are introduced to and the greatest percentage of the time I relish the role and ability to seize them and calmly stop, smile and breathe in order to better situate ourselves into solution mode.

But there is a “force” within my work world that has been triggering me for several years now.  I am now able to pinpoint the time where it began to be a deterrent for the full time gratitude I have for the job and the endless opportunities for growth that it has given me. It is slightly difficult for me to understand how I did not connect the dots that would have given me the means to resolve my dis-ease sooner, but I must accept the present and move forward without holding myself back asking questions that are no longer relevant.

I have been triggered regularly by this “force” and when that happens my ISM kicks into full gear.  But the recognition of the trigger and its source have only provided me with the option to change how I feel, how I react and what it is that I have to change within myself to feel better and be happy in the moments that this trigger have otherwise stalled.

Make no mistake, triggers are not always something we can solve or stop.  I am unable to guarantee I am not going to be kicked into the place of fear (which then produces grandiosity, needs for control and the sense I am “not being heard,” all of which are my character defects and can only be changed through awareness and actions by me and my behavior.) My best defense to the triggers is the understanding that they are triggers.  Because I have finally made this identification I am hopeful I will be able to remind myself I am creating the problem through my reactions and can, with work, faith and patience, solve it with some time.

This is just touching the surface of the psychological world of triggers.  But each chip off the block is a win for me.  Any awareness is a win.  I am always working hard to live out of judgment and in happiness.  It is only my head that will ever stop me from being successful.  Life is short, I am grateful for the opportunities to grow and change while I have it.

Stop. Smile. Breathe.

Why gratitude saves my life

Nobody said life would be a cake walk, but fortunately I keep learning my reactions to it will make it easier and easier all the time.

It is not a new revelation to announce here that I am an over-thinker.  I have a tendency of taking the fears that pop into my head and providing them a warm comfortable home.  I can often turn a decision into a drawn out affair of tedious proportions.  It isn’t fun and it is never necessary, but it has been and probably will always be a default in the way I think.  It is a bit of how I tick, built with the “ism” and far too much logic and “intelligence” for my own good.

What, you may ask, is this “ism” I am always referring to?  I have heard it described as “I sabotage myself” or “incredibly short memory,” but the bottom line (for me) is it is the way I am wired.  I don’t tend to think like other people (other than those with their own “ism.”)  My thought process will constantly need to be tweaked and tuned up in order to work its way up to what would be considered “normal” out there in the real world.  I simply don’t think the same way as others, but knowing is is half the battle, the other half being the way I maintain and eradicate this “ism” on a daily (and sometimes hourly or moment-by-moment) basis.  I do this, by the way, to feel better, not to achieve what could be considered “normalcy.”

One of my chosen weapons for my understanding of happiness is my gratitude.  For many years I have both struggled and learned to change my life completely, to understand and recognize the problem.  In this time I have built the means to understand and combat my “ism” with contrary action and a healthy dose of closely looking at the many things that I have been given, whether through hard work or good fortune.  Living in a problem without seeking its solution is a dead end and does not provide anything but the cyclical negatives, anger and wasted time. To live humbly in gratitude is the paradox of my “ism” and each and every time I am able to remember that I slay the foe and gain a happiness that has always been elusive in a fear-driven thought process.

What is most important about accepting gratitude as a tool with results is in seeing it work.  When I write a list down for myself, for my sponsor, or for a group that writes them on a semi-daily basis, I immediately see the manifestation.  Even on the mornings that might conjure up the act of rolling eyes when trying to imagine gratitude I see the shift in my personal outlook simply by forcing myself to think towards the positive rather than sitting blindly (or sometimes willingly) in the negative.  Negatives can be addictive and comfortable for some, but for me they always cause some form of remorse and are not conducive to any form of enjoyment in the moment.  One thing I have become completely aware of is that the moment is all I have got.

In the end it has become obvious to me that the act of gratitude changes my state of mind, thinking and being.  In doing so it is, on a daily basis, saving my life.  There is nothing more important that working through whatever my “ism” presents itself to be and the most immediate tool in my arsenal is always going to be the contrary thinking of gratitude.

By the way:  today I am grateful that I can share my thoughts and have the means by which to do so.

Stop.  Smile.  Breathe.

The change conundrum

I used to say: I will always get the things I want, unfortunately I never get them when I want them.

This sort of statement is usually followed by trite notions like “be careful what you wish for” because believing I want something today is merely a stilted perception of what I tend to believe will make things better.  Most of the time I don’t really require that ‘better,’ but the ISM I live with is forever trying to correct, mend, upgrade, fix or add something to my life.

Living in the present is preferable but never easy.  For people like me, who live with variations of anxiety and shame (always combatted with the solution of program, but never fully gone) the default of reaching out mentally or physically for something to “fix” whatever I am feeling is hard to shake.

For me the idea of change is as much of a drug as the drugs and alcohol I have moved out of my life for the past 23+ years.  My ISM tells me change is going to make things better.  Change is going to provide happiness.  Change is going to fix the problem.  The trouble with this philosophy is in how the change is designed by the same head that isn’t accepting the status quo (which undoubtedly was at one time a change I was looking to make.) When change does arrive (and we know it always does) it doesn’t always feel like something we had “asked” for and then suddenly it is an imposition and perpetuates the cycle for creating the need for the changes we would prefer.

Perhaps the answer is and always will be acceptance.  I am where I am for a reason.  I do what I do for a purpose.  If I am in a job for many years and I desire “change” I should ask myself what it is about the job that I am looking to leave?  Is it the people?  The work?  The hours?  Let’s be clear:  the “problem” (or trigger if that feels better) is always ME.  If change is required or would even feel better there is never any reason the change cannot be made internally first and, giving that the world almost always provides us with the freedom to choose, change can be created by a decision externally as well.

It’s usually fear that puts a halt to that.

A good friend posted a quote today:  “The difference between who you are and who you want to be is what you do.”  It sounds so simple and although I have succeeded in changing who I am for many years through what I do, it still doesn’t seem to stop the moments of daydreaming about the OTHER things I would like to pull into my world.

So perhaps the real answer for change is to be aware.  Know that change is constant.  Know that you can create and provide change in your world and environment.  Know that looking for change as a goal should be a positive but accepting the status quo, which was probably once a goal, is probably going to require a change in your own behavior.

I love change, I fear change, I accept change…. I embrace change, but I don’t have to always understand change.  It just is.

Enjoy your changes today AND love your status quo.

Stop. Smile. Breathe.








The mystery of time

Time is on my side, right?

I often think about time and numbers.  Both of these weigh in to my daily life heavily and I am forever asking myself why and just how much?  For instance:  today I am living in my 57th year on the planet in my 18th year at a job, my 21st year living in the same home, a 35th year in Los Angeles after 4 in Phoenix and 18 in New York, my 4th year in a committed (and beautiful) relationship….. and… and… well I could go on but the point has been illustrated.

What does this mystery of time mean?  What does it require of me?  Am I “on track” for the path I believe myself to be on?  I would suggest that if one were to trust or believe there is a path then the only answer to the last question would be “yes.” Logic would suggest that if I were to stray from a given path it actually IS part of that path.  I suppose it is a matter of suggesting who’s path we are setting ourselves out to “follow.”  If I were on my God’s path (fear not, I do not speak of a religious God, but the one of my understanding) I will continually wonder what that path is all about.  If I am on MY suggested path I am creating plans that will undoubtedly only be overridden by life and the very same God that I spoke to a moment ago.

John Lennon was quoted to say: “Life is what happens to you while you are busy making other plans.”

So I move forward with action, faith, hope and creativity.  I want to participate on the path, to influence it as a co-author.  It does not make sense to sit and wait for life to happen to me.  I would imagine that the thoughts and activities I have and undertake are all a piece of what the plan is all about.  My time spent on this planet up until now has been filled with adventure, joy, sadness, mistakes and lessons.  I would have it no other way as each piece of these time-filled qualities and events has shaped me further into a person that is open-minded, loving and grateful for the chances, opportunities and all of the time and numbers that lie ahead of me.

Change is necessary.  When I live in the mindset that I need to change habits, situations, people, moods, beliefs or any aspect upon this path I am dealing with my own fears and inability to accept that with which I am in and around.  If I need to change something, this is not a bad thing, but if this need for change is effecting the moment negatively it stands to reason that I can embrace where I am at the same time as recognizing the positives about adjusting myself for the moments that are coming.

When I find myself in places where I don’t recognize gratitude over perceived negatives and I am holding on to elements that are regularly made far worse than need be because of the attitude I am projecting outwards (and often inwards as well,)  I am not using time effectively.  What I tend to forget or ignore when I am not in happiness is the choices I have made to get there and the choices that I have to remove myself.  Time offers all manner of chances to change our life and influence our path.  Some of the choices are fearful and it’s a shame if that is all I will recognize.  Living in “what if” isn’t solving any perceived problem.

What does all this have to do with the mystery of time?  Everything.  I change with each moment, I grow, I shift, I morph, I become better, worse and then better again.  I could evolve into the best that it is possible for me to be on this path with the passage of time, or time could present me with challenges and forks that instigate the choices that takes me back to the primal areas that I have inhabited in earlier parts of my life.

I have very little or no idea what time has done or will do.  They only thing I have the potential capability to be able to fully understand will be the mystery of this moment.  Once I start to make peace with it, I may find the easier softer way to continue down my path, accepting the natural and chosen changes with grace and the happiness that I deserve.  This is not always easy, but with the awareness it is possible.

Stop. Smile. Breathe.


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