Friday, May 27, 2011

Choices, Wise and Other Wise

By Julie Rahm

My husband entertains me with his “one-liners”. He has a “one-liner” comeback for everything. The “one-liners” are short, summarize the situation and ultimately instruct. They were a part of his leadership repertoire when he was in the Marine Corps. He still continues to administer doses of wisdom one line at a time. One of his favorite pearls is, “Life is about choices, so choose wisely”. This one-liner gets the most use in our house. It is only seven words. But, behind the seven words is a whole philosophy for life.

The largest tenant of this philosophy is responsibility. People are responsible for their choices. We are where we are in life because of our choices. This can be an unpopular notion. Often, poor choices are rationalized by volunteering to become a victim. Plights are often couched as some else’s fault. For instance, our daughter’s excuse for poor grades was, “My teacher doesn’t like me”. When, in fact, there wasn’t enough effort to earn good grades. Effort applied to endeavors is a choice. Another gem told to me was, “I got a DUI because of entrapment”. No, DUI arrests are a result of choosing to drive above the legal blood alcohol content limit. End of story. Violations of the law are choices. Lawbreakers have decided how, where, when and who. Only the why is left up to their rationalization.

Often, we are faced with a choice between easy and best. The best choices require personal discipline and a long term perspective. Don’t trade away tomorrows. Easier choices can be detrimental in the long term. Avoid regret by asking, “How does this decision contribute to my values and goals?”

The “choose wisely” part of the philosophy also reveals, with any choice, there may be a large dose of unintended outcomes. This week our daughter is attending a baby shower for her unmarried friend who is seventeen years old. This pregnancy was a choice not an accident. They know what causes babies now. So, choose wisely knowing that some choices are irreversible. It is easier to learn life lessons when young and the tests are easy. When a life test is failed, the repeat tests get harder and harder.

There are no mistakes in life. It’s true. There are only unintended outcomes driven by choices. An important key to happiness is the ability to learn and work through those unintended outcomes. Use my metaphorical level to ensure choices are made with the right emotional balance. The flashlight sheds light on the situation and helps develop your awareness. The pliers can remove negative thoughts and confusion so you make clear decisions with confidence. And finally, the measuring tape can measure your progress toward successful decision making. And….remember, life is about choices so choose wisely!

Get your free 52-week online guided journal by joining the Mindset Mechanic Community at Listen to the Mindset Mechanic, Saturdays at 5PM on FM107.1 WTKF.

Saturday, May 14, 2011

The State Unfairness

By Julie Rahm
In the American culture, tremendous effort is expended to make everything fair and even. Fairness is a construct of most thoughtfully engineered man made systems. There are rules for sporting events to make the competition fair. Instant Replay has invaded sports to make sure officiating is fair and errorless. Promotion systems in the workplace are constructed to be as fair as possible. Even warfare has the Geneva Convention to make armed conflict as fair as possible. However, fairness is a man made concept not a natural one. Our lives operate in the natural world and they unfold in a natural system. And, in nature, things are not “fair”. Nature has no regard for fairness. Sometimes even the fastest animal gets eaten at the watering hole. The wildebeest and lions don’t have arguments about fairness.

When dealt an injustice, our daughters will complain, “That’s not fair”. And, without fail, my husband responds, “Life is not fair. The fair come once a year to Raleigh.” He knows there is no fairness guarantee on the back of anyone’s birth certificate.

Injustices are placed in our path as opportunities to learn and overcome. Obstacles in our lives create resistance and without resistance, there would be no character development. Obstacles provide the opportunity to develop your character and become the person you were born to be.

Brianna Carp was a recent guest on my radio show. Her book, The Girl’s Guide to Homelessness, is fast becoming a bestseller. She was “unfairly” laid off from her well paying job in Orange County, California. Homeless, Brianna ended up living in a trailer, without hook-ups, in a Wal-Mart parking lot. Now, she is financially recovered and “back on her feet”. Her story is a remarkable example of the emotional resilience required to overcome “unfairness”. She didn’t stay focused on her plight. She took an inventory of her assets, made and executed a plan, and continued to look forward.

As another example, Norris, a lumber buyer for a hardware franchise, made big money for his company in his rookie year. Profit he created was the basis of his annual bonus. He delighted in imagining how he would spend the money he earned. However, the company called his success “rookie luck” and did not pay the bonus he was owed. A competing franchise heard the news and hired him. He created big profits for that company and quickly became a vice president. Norris’ set back was a set up for his continued success.

If you’ve received a dose of unfairness, perform an assessment of your situation. Use my floral tools metaphorically to restore your emotional resilience. Keep your emotional level balanced and use the pliers to pluck out any negative thoughts. Hammer a plan together and use the measuring tape to assess your forward progress!

Get your free 52-week online guided journal by joining the Mindset Mechanic Community at Listen to the Mindset Mechanic, Saturdays at 5PM on FM107.1 WTKF.

Saturday, May 7, 2011

The “Shoulda” Virus

By Julie Rahm

The Black Plague is estimated to have killed over 100 million people during the middle 1300s. The awful epidemic is believed to have reduced the world population by an astounding 30-percent. And, more recently, the Spanish Flu pandemic in 1918 killed another estimated 100 million people. Throughout history diseases have come and gone causing devastating effects. Lately, I have noticed a less deadly, yet debilitating disease. It is a disease of the mind. The symptoms are subtle and characterized by regret. This regret is caused by the dreaded “Shoulda” virus.

People are often unaware they are inflected with the “Shouldas”. Their symptoms surface during routine conversations. As a recent example, one of my friends said he “shoulda” stayed in the Navy. If he had stayed in the Navy, he would be retired and living a more leisurely life. This retrospective regret is extremely unhealthy. In fact, we don’t know how his life would have unfolded if he stayed in the Navy. He certainly would not have the wonderful family he has now. You see, contrary to popular belief, life happens perfectly. Challenges simply mean we are still alive. The challenges placed before us provide the opportunity to learn our intended life lessons. Our challenges provide resistance. We must do the work in order to overcome this resistance and build our character. And, in the process we develop into the persons God intended us to be.

Unfortunately, the “Shoulda” virus infects our minds and inadvertently focuses our attention backwards preventing us from moving forward in our lives. If you continue to have the same negative life experiences, you have not learned your intended lessons. One of my girlfriends continues to date bachelors who are not good partners. She continues to have negative experiences because she hasn’t yet learned her lessons. Until she does the work, learns and develops her character, she will not have good relationships. The “shouldas” keep her focused backwards and mired in what “should” be instead what she needs to do now. She often states, “I should have a loving husband”. But, her character flaws are still firmly entrenched in her personality. Her potential worthy suitors flee the scene. She doesn’t move forward. An important key to happiness is the ability to learn and work through lessons of life. Avoid the “Shouldas”. Those parasitic “Shoulas” will drag you down and disrupt your focus. To get restarted in the right direction use my metaphorical tools. Use the flashlight to examine what is going on in your life. Find that “Shoulda” virus and pluck it out with the pliers. Then hammer in a new framework for learning the lesson at hand and moving forward in your life. Measure your success with the measuring tape and be surprised at your progress!

Visit Julie and get your copy of Military Kids Speak during her book signing on Friday, May 13 from 5PM – 8PM at Mitchell Hardware during the Art Walk in New Bern.
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