Ours is not the task of fixing the entire world all at once, but of stretching out to mend the part of the world that is within our reach. – Clarissa P. Estes, PhD
The last time I looked at my 401k statement my heart sank and perspiration started to bead on my forehead. In the spirit of looking at the glass as half-full, I reminded myself I was about 20 years from retirement and market corrections would happen that would help my 401k rebound and get my investments back into positive territory.
At the about the same time my statement arrived, I also received an email from my friend and fellow blogger Jonathan Nasman of Illuminated Mind asking me to participate in a series he was running entitled What’s Right With Your Life?
This is certainly a time we could be cynical. The economy in the United States, and the entire world for that matter, is just plain crappy. American citizens are facing a change in leadership during a time of doubt. Many believe our country is not strong enough to make it through these challenging times. I disagree.
Rather than launching into a persistent mode of trying to fix everything or solve the problems that can seemingly flood our lives at times, sometimes it’s just as important to take a step back and assess what’s right with our lives. When we do, we are better able to separate fear from fact and panic from sensibility.
There are real problems my family needs to solve. We have an adjustable-rate mortgage coming due, a large amount of student loan debt is hanging over our heads and our house needs some major repairs. And at the same time, there are many things going right in our life right, too.
- My wife, Mary Beth, passed her L.C.S.W licensing exam on her first attempt last week. After she completes about 1500 more supervision hours, she will be a Licensed Clinical Social Worker. This work is Mary Beth’s passion. She has hit her stride and found her mark with how she wants to make a difference in the lives of others.
- Our oldest son, Brandon, who graduated from college last May, has landed a really great job with an internet start-up company, Not only is he financially independent, he is also learning how to create a business from the ground up. These life and business skills are giving Brandon an important and valuable head start.
- Caitlin has settled into her second year of college and is hitting her grades out of the park – including Biology. Andrew will be participating in a high-profile baseball prospect camp in Arizona in a couple of weeks and Emily is having a real blast participating on her fourth-grade cheerleading squad.
- As for me, my new blog, this blog, is going better than I expected. The BridgeMaker has received more visitors during its first month than any month my previous blog ever received. Change can be difficult. My sense was I needed to change the content and direction of my blog. Based on the comments and reactions I’m receiving, I think I was right.
Learning to realize the best things in your life
Stepping back to notice what’s going right in your life is a choice and it takes practice. Consider these two ways to cut through the noise of the problems to see the great things happening in your life right now.
Acknowledge your power. Except in certain and unfortunate circumstances, you do have the power to look at your life, and ultimately live your life, any way you choose. No one does anything to you or nothing happens to you without your permission. This may seem harsh, but it is a reality.
For the most part, you are responsible for the quality of your relationships or the debt you have accumulated. Just as you made a series of choices which has put you in some uncomfortable situations, you are also empowered to make another set of choices that can take you to greater prosperity and happiness.
Realize there’s some hero in you. Too often we don’t take sufficient credit for all we do. We may think it’s an obligation, an expectation, to care for our families, to help with the homework, or to see what’s right with our lives.
But all of these things are indeed heroic because you made the life of the person you touched a little better. Don’t be mistaken, there is great value in doing so. Any one can just show up in life; but a hero contributes to life.
Heroism can be measured by how you take care of yourself, too. Making the decision, the choice, to step outside of your comfort zone and into the fear of the unknown is particularly heroic.
No one may be watching and no one may ever notice, but you will know if you took that leap of faith to pursue a dream or to change a part of you that you knew needed to be changed.
Heroism can also be measured in teaspoons.
- There has to be some hero in you when the alarm clock starts your day and you don’t stop until you return home and set the alarm for the next day.
- There has to be some hero in you when you trade security for risk and set forth on a new path that will take you to where you have always wanted to go which will enable you to be who you have always wanted to be.
- There has to be some hero in you when you defend and protect the defenseless and use your voice to help them use theirs.
- There has to be some hero in you when you live by your wedding vows; when you love, honor and protect and will never do any thing that would violate that trust.
- There has to be some hero in you when you look over the fence and know your grass is greener.
Don’t understate your own significance. Your very presence can be just the lift, the encouragement; someone else needs to get through the day.
This may sound trite, but there has to be some hero in you when you become aware of your own importance; acknowledge what’s right in your life and use it to achieve ordinary results that have extraordinary implications.
Lending a helping hand
While my sinking 401k balance and looming student loan payments is a cause of concern, there are many people with a far more serious concern right now – where to find their next meal?
The recent collapse of the stock market has resulted in charitable donations going down. There is an urgent need to fill the shelves of food panties so those in need may continue to eat.
My family has contributed to Harvesters Community Food Network. You may also find barrels outside of the grocery stores in your community where you can drop-off nonperishable food items.
Sometimes the best things in life happen when we hear the call to serve and then answer.