Doors are portals to new challenges. But what lies on the other side is the unknown that scares us. Will we open to something positive or negative? Doors are a funny thing. They offer protection, and keep out the bad people from our little worlds. We feel safer behind a locked door, and there is something peaceful about closing out the outside world. This is especially true after a difficult day, or series of days, where we can feel the satisfaction of closing the door on the day and starting over tomorrow.

Doors can also prevent us from seeing the world. We close out the bad things and also close out the good. Doors are solid. That is their safety inducing quality. But, in their solidness they also prevent the good things from coming through too.

Door control who or what enters our world. If we do not want to answer an unknown knock and see what lies on the other side we do not have to. Or we can. The choice to see what is on the other side of that hunk of wood or metal is in our power, and usually dependent on our mood, feeling, self speak, or desires.

When we open that door we meet the most interesting characters. These characters make us laugh, cry, and sometimes deconstruct our lives. Other times, what faces us on the other side of the door is painful. The potential for pain makes us hedge by limiting or calculating the number of times we feel comfortable opening the door.

We pick and choose when we want to open the door, deploying such vetting methods as spy holes, blinds, and doors in front of doors. These mechanisms allow us to more wisely expend the energy in opening and closing doors. As we age we discover that knowing which doors to keep closed is just as important as knowing which to open.

Opportunity

A doorway is a portal, allowing us the chance to enter or exit any world we please. Sometimes we forget this potent quality about doors. A door is nothing more than a man made object that we can use as a tool to expand or contract our existence.

What we often do, though; is allow this barrier, which separates one world from another, to control us. We hide behind its safety. This is alright. Sometimes we need this. When we hide behind our doors, avoiding the knocking of opportunity on the other side, we let our pattern of comfort control our decisions.

Eventually the knocks cease, and we’re left behind that door wondering why nothing new is happening in our lives. We are stuck in a rut, bored, or maybe even depressed. We do not see that the opportunities we pushed away don’t mind being pushed away. Instead, they leave. They don’t try to convince us to let them in. If we are not ready they heed our apprehension

The good news is that at any point we can open the door and walk through. You can create your own opportunity, and that is even better than waiting for action to take you. Many wait for forces to act upon then, forgetting that they too possess the power to act. So, will you open your door today and act?

how to be happy

In any given month tens of thousands of people hop on the web, visit google.com, and ask “how to be happy.” Digging a little deeper I unlocked some related search phrases that also ranked high in terms of monthly hits. “How to be happy with what you have,” and “how much money to be happy” topped the charts.

I just have to wonder, why are we so unhappy? We live in one of the wealthiest countries in the world, during one of the most prosperous times in history, and yet, we cannot figure out how to be happy. Why are we searching the web for answers on how to be happy? How do we find happiness?

Although the question has not changed over the years, many argue that the complex webs of modern society have changed the method of finding happiness. I disagree. What the complexities of our world have done is make happiness more difficult to find by creating more opportunities for us to aggrandize the quest for happiness, not by making the process of achieving happiness different from our predecessors.

Put simply, finding happiness today is more difficult because we are addicted to chasing happiness and afraid to just be happy.

Chasing is Purpose

Our work lives have changed how we look at challenges and define our purpose. In order for businesses to become efficient, lean, and profitable we turned every job possible in to a process.

Process work relies on following quantified, data focused processes to drive work decisions. Purpose work focuses on using a person’s greater purpose and desire to serve a larger good through the work one does.

We went to college, and hoped to follow our passion, our purpose work. What we found was that the work we studied in school is no longer the work that exists in the world. Work requires we follow a blueprint that has been proven to make money, not a purpose that seeks to do good.

The loan officer no longer takes in to account the character of the person whom the loan is for, just the credentials required and laid out for him on paper by a large, corporate entity located thousands of miles away. The doctor must now keep in mind insurance company premiums when diagnosing and treating. In many respects, our work has been turned faceless, disconnected, mindless, and boring through statistics, business objectives, and data.

What would you do with happiness if you found it? Have you ever wondered that?

Given enough time, process work defeats purpose work, and work that once connected people to an intrinsic good now connects them to something that “pays the bills” or “lets them afford the things that actually make them happy” because of depersonalization.

But, humans are industrious, and what we lost in work we made up for in other areas of life. We like challenges because they give us purpose, and the greatest challenge is the quest for happiness.

So, happiness has become an unnamed ideal. We do not know how to get there. We do not even know where there is. We just know that we want happiness, and that everyone tells us we deserve such an ideal.

What would you do with happiness if you found it? Have you ever wondered that? We’d get used to happiness and in that normalcy we would again become unhappy. We are afraid of normal- of houses, marriage, kids, and anything our parents have. Chasing allows us to constantly seek the end goal without ever reaching it. The thinking is that if we never achieve the lofty aim of happiness then we can never discover unhappiness. After all, if you have not achieved the goal how can you lose it?

So, we chase and chase, meditating, and doing breathing exercises, putting ourselves on a vegan diet, and reading self help books about living a good life. We have an addiction to searching for happiness, and a fear of being happy.

How to be Happy in Modern Society

Our relationship with happiness is a classic example of believing the journey is the destination. By continually finding new ways to chase happiness we are happy. What that chase really gets you, though; is a dependency on finding new ways to squeeze an ounce more of happiness out of your current situation. The hope is that the process of wringing joy morsels out of life will bring happiness.

In reality, being happy is like going to the bathroom. You walk up to the toilet and just do it.

But, we can never be happy if we continue to look for the things that define happiness. This mentality presumes we lack something and are searching for that which we lack. How can you expect to be happy if you believe you do not possess the ability to be happy in the first place?

In reality, being happy is like going to the bathroom. You walk up to the toilet and just do it. Strategizing, thinking about, and planning your use of the restroom does not relieve your bladder. To get the result you must take the action. This is where that lovely phrase “s$*t or get off the pot” came from. Happiness is the same way. You must just be happy, in order to be happy.

You cannot talk about, brainstorm, and white board the components that need to be in place for you to be happy. If you wait for your life to be perfect before allowing yourself happiness then you will wait forever. Life is never perfect, and happiness is about finding joy despite life’s setbacks. All those caveats you hold as prerequisites to happiness ultimately prevent you from succeeding in your aim.

Just be happy. When you do this something amazing happens. You become happy, and you realize that all the hacks, tricks, tactics, and shortcuts to being happy are just roadblocks from the simple truth that all you need to find happiness is the right mindset. Barriers to joy will always exist, but what can always persist across changing circumstance is mindset.

Stop focusing on the things you cannot control, and start owning the things you can. One of those things you can control is happiness. So stop holding it in, and go to the bathroom already.

how to find motivation

Sometimes wondering where to begin is worse than beginning. It’s like staring at a blank page, but a little bit different. When you look at a blank page you know the next step. Creation must occur to fill that white space with something. But, what about those other situations where you know an action must occur, but are unsure what that action is?

I’ve felt the weight of starting on many occasions. The task makes you so exhausted you want to shrug, look away, and distract yourself, maybe in a bit of t.v., maybe by eating some food, or maybe by just going to bed. But, if the problem is a good one, a challenge worth pursuing, your tension with taking action will return. Good objectives have a way of reminding you that they exist, at least for a bit. If you ignore them long enough, like any one else, they will just disappear from your life and you will never know what you missed out on. 

On the other side, if you confront the hard task of starting you will find yourself facing a unique form of desperation. On the surface, you will be driven to believe that too many possibilities exist, but deep down, on a level that you fear even admitting to yourself, what stops you from acting is the thought that you cannot pull this off. This thought leaves you standing motionless, yearning to act, but bewildered in to paralysis by the self-knowledge that you are not 100% confident you can do this.

Failure to Motivate

We cannot decide how to start because we worry we are not good enough to start. Who am I to dream? Who am I to dare?

Who are you not to?

So many people succumb to the gnawing thoughts of doubt, and listen to the voice inside their head that tells them to “pass on this opportunity.” They cannot motivate themselves to act. That voice, that inner monologue, comes from a place of ancient history where taking chances meant enduring great pain and possible death. While death is often not imminent in most of the things you will take a chance at starting, the feeling of putting everything on the line is no less frightening.

In starting you must confront one very large question – “What if I fail?” You must find the stomach to be okay with failure, as failure is nothing more than an action that did not turn out the way you expected it would. Facing failure, however; takes a heaping amount of courage at the beginning. Our culture does not like failure. We hate it. Just as much as old age, and, when you get right down to it, old age is just another form of failure, of the body as you age.

The thing about failure is that there is failure on a micro level and failure on a macro level. Micro failures happen all the time. Those are the little things – the business you start that doesn’t work out, the relationship that collapses in on itself, the rift you create with a best friend. The macro is the guy living out in the woods searching for big foot. The macro failure is the giving up on life, cashing in your chips, calling your life over and retreating with resignation to whatever mindless pursuit and escape passes the time until you die. You can fail in the micro many times and still succeed in the macro if you understand that small failures don’t make your life a failure. What makes your life a failure is believing that a small failure, the micro, determines your life as being a failure or success.

How to Find Motivation

When you find the courage to start, what you learn is that the beginning of anything outside your comfort zone is a lot like putting together a jigsaw puzzle. That is the trouble with starting. After you open that box and dump the 500 pieces on the table, you start by finding all the corner and edge pieces, because those are easy. When you have the outside edge done you work your way inside, putting together the parts that make sense, and as you invest more time and energy in to the thing you start seeing the big picture. Many times you pick up the wrong piece, curse and believe without a doubt that a certain piece goes in a certain spot. But, you are wrong. You make many mistakes. Yet, you still complete the puzzle. What was once 500 individual pieces which you had no clue how to put together is now a completed image. You succeeded because you started with what you knew.

Starting anything new is like that. New represents something outside of your scope of understanding and normal patterns of behavior. You are not going to have all the answers. But, you don’t need them. Focus on what you know. Start there. Expand as you go, and eventually the whole picture will take shape.

Ultimately, those who fail to start just do not have the courage to try. They would rather keep a perfect record in life, devoid of any failure, than take a chance. The trouble with starting is that we never begin. That is the simple truth. So, what will you begin today?

the devil of resistance

There is a devil in our lives. He is smart too. You see, he does not rely on trickery or deception of any sort to derail you. All this devil does is use resistance, your natural desire to not do something that is hard, against you. He harnesses your weakness and sets that weakness in front of you all nice and tempting like. Resistance wants to stop you from doing anything ambitious. If you listen to resistance you are failing. But, overcoming resistance is not easy.

We have the best of intentions, but our plans get laid askew by the worst within us. If there is one thing I have noticed about life it is that you need to work infinitely harder to achieve something than to fail at something. Failing is the natural path, rising is the hard fought way. Further, giving even one concession to resistance means a backward slide that requires twice as long to recover from.

There is not a day that goes by where I don’t want to just stop. Every day I reach some point where I have to either give up or fight on. You think that with time this would become easier, that habits would strengthen my resolve and make overcoming resistance easy. But it never does. Resistance always shows itself in new and creative ways, but your response to resistance defines the sort of person you are.

Our negative responses to resistance manifest in many ways. Do you overload yourself with more work and say you’re “too busy” to continue doing that one thing that’s pressing against you? Maybe you’re “too tired” to talk about your relationship right now, “have a deadline” and can’t work on your own projects, or maybe “now just isn’t the right time.” Resistance feeds off of excuses and justifies failing.

But, I’ve got news for you. Each one of us fails at something every day, as a man, a role model, leader, spouse, or father. Life is not about failing, life is about failing quickly and finding a new way to succeed based off of your prior experiences. We do not need to get things right the first time. We can screw up and do better the next go around. What we can’t do is give up because life got a little hard.

We villainize or glorify failure so much that we look towards it as an obstacle that provides life changing information, or we think failure means we are a failure. This is resistance’s hold on us, and we either don’t act out of fear of failure, making up a bunch of sad excuses why such and such couldn’t be done, or we get so ok with failing because of the valuable life experiences learned that we never really give our all in what we do. We think things are a win win either way.

Overcoming Resistance

As someone who has been on both the winning and losing side of things, I can tell you beyond a doubt that winning is always better. So, how do you win every day? How do you overcome the easy path resistance lays out for you?

Resistance is self doubt, which is why no matter how great your habits and how hard you fight resistance it will always exist. Over time, resistance does fade, but it never disappears. Overcoming resistance is a daily battle.

Accept right now that life is a battle with resistance in many forms, and those that find a way to overcome the self doubt and contrived barriers to success win. So, what are you doing to overcome resistance? For me, I have noticed two things that have led me, when not used, to dark places, and, when used, to my brightest days: gratitude and desire/passion.

When I find ways to practice and explore these things daily I’m always strong enough to defeat any shape that devil of resistance takes. Maybe you have different tools. Whatever you do, don’t stop. Even when things are good, when your life builds momentum, when everything is going your way, don’t stop. I have also found that during these great highs of life, resistance is still in your shadow and waiting to find a chink in your armor. So find what keeps resistance out of your life and practice that daily. Put resistance in the corner, where it belongs, and never doubt that you gave life your all.