My life has been somewhat rather challenging, many obstacles that I never dreamt that I would ever encounter in life as a young man. I have quietly rebuilt my life no less than 4 times from the ground up. Choices of others have continually and directly impacted my life. While I am able to see clearly that these choices have created difficulties for me at times throughout my life and without the choices made by others I would never have faced the overwhelming challenges I have.
Hindsight creates a unique perspective. Without these challenges that I have endured I would not be the man I am today. I know this to be true. I also know that one key characteristic in my life that has defined who I have become and prevented utter destruction of my soul is that I have never allowed anyone and their choices the create a stumbling block of blame for where I am in life. Each time that I have stepped up after being beaten down I have risen stronger, higher and with more determination than ever to be the one controlling my life.
Never have I let anyone dictate what I would and would not accomplish. I have experienced decades of of attacks from others whom by their choices they meant to destroy my life and future. From an ex wife to employees committing fraud, Each time that I rose above the obstacles created I have experienced a renewed effort at times by others to tear me back down in an attempt to keep me there. There have been many who know of many of these struggles who have often commented that it would have destroyed them. I beg to differ, for what doesn’t destroy always makes us stronger. It is ALWAYS our choice in what we let destroy us. No one else can ever make that choice for us.
As each of us will certainly encounter severe struggles, disappointments, heartaches and roadblocks in our lives, some created by our own choices, others created from the choices of others, we alone make the choice of where we allow them to take us.
Many times the urge to blame others for our own misfortunes exist, sometimes rightfully and justly so. It is when we give into this urge and blame other people, government, religion, circumstances or other, for our current circumstances in life that we surrender our will to their desire for us. We abandon our own self each time we pass blame.
It is only through faith, determination and belief in oneself that someone is able to rebuild a life, a career and family when others choices are involved. For my choices to let certain people into my life in the first place added to my own heartache. Taking responsibility for my own choices, my own life and staying determined to not be kept down. Anyone can rise above any obstacle placed before them, it starts by faith and believing on yourself!
Many years ago I used to compare my life and the dreams that I had envisioned for myself against that of my twin brothers life. Our entire lives we were compared to one another by others, therefore as we grew older it seemed natural to compare where our lives were similar and where they were different. Our entire childhood had been spent sharing everything; our bedroom, our clothes, our friends, our birthdays; everything. I remember going to friends houses alone and the first question asked was always, Where’s Joe? Our identities as a children were completely intertwined with one another.
As we have gotten older and each had our children, the differences in our lives have been significant. I am deeply grateful for the success my brother has experienced with his family. While I am deeply grateful for his success happiness, over the years I have struggled as a result of these comparisons that have been made throughout our lives. With the choices of my ex and the impact it has taken on my dreams for my family and children, the challenges we have each faced have been extremely different. My brother has been able to be with his children everyday of their lives, I on the other hand have been shortchanged in this regard and get 6 days a month to be a dad. This comparison would always be brought up whenever I would run into anyone who knew the two of us, as the first question always asked is, how’s Joe? I would always be asked about his family and how they were doing while trying to avoid the subject for me.
I found over the years that comparing the family my brother had and the family I desired was destroying me. I would avoid family gatherings, unless of course I had my children with me. I built walls around me as protection against the blatant difference in our lives as we are still being compared by so many of those who know us. I closed off as I continually heard I’m so sorry about what your going through. I am so happy for your brother. Why couldn’t others be happy for me too?
Finally after many years of avoiding comparisons in life, I gained the wisdom and the strength to put things in their proper perspective. I discovered the personal strength, the wisdom and the character that I had been able to develop as a result of the challenges I had been faced with in my life. The growth within myself that I experienced could not have come in any other way. The man I am today is a direct result of the life I have been given and without these differences in our lives I could not have become what I needed to become. I could never have become what I have become without first facing the challenges I have been given my past. I am profoundly grateful for these differences in my life when I realize the strength I have developed within me.
While others may continue to compare my life with that of my dear twin, I no longer fall victim to that game. Our lives are richly blessed and forever intertwined. We will always be twins and with that there will always be comparisons.
It is easy for many of us to get caught up comparing our lives with that of others. We long to be like them or have what they have, for some reason or another. These comparisons may seem normal, however as we compare our lives with anyone else we will always lose. Our individuality is what makes each of us great and unique! When we waste our time comparing we lose the time that could be spent being one of a kind. We aren’t meant to all be the same. There is tremendous power in each of us and the differences within us.
Finding joy in our journey here on earth at times can seem daunting as life’s challenges and obstacles can create sometimes seemingly overwhelming sadness, sorrow and depression. Overcoming this cycle many of us find ourselves in at one point or another in this life is key to finding that lasting joy we all seek. It is upon learning, understanding, believing and then acting upon the belief, that we are in control of our own happiness and joy, that we can finally take control of our own lives. We can discover the true joy that exists and that we alone control. Perspective, gratitude and focus are some of the most powerful tools we have at our own personal disposal to change our own lives and find Joy in the journey. We alone control these tools, ones that can be used to change or destroy our lives. The choice is ours and ours alone, no one else can control that choice but ourselves.
Perspective and how we view ourselves, others around us, the circumstances we find ourselves in and the world around is critical to the level of happiness and joy we can attain in this life. By shifting our perspective towards a more positive outlook and looking at things from a broader view of the world we can eliminate much of our self doubt we encounter along the way. We will discover as we look through different lenses that the most difficult of life’s events can be overcome and that these moments can make us stronger. We will gain wisdom, understanding and clarity as we widen our view with which we see things. It’s all a matter of perspective.
Gratitude provides us the opportunity in our lives to see the blessings we are given each day. As we identify and write down the things we are grateful for our hearts and minds will be opened to seeing the positive in our lives. It may be as simple as a shirt on our backs, a dry place to sleep, to our children and families. Sincere gratitude for what we have in our lives and the blessings we are given, opens our hearts to recognizing that happiness does not come from no problems in our lives, it comes from our abilities to handle the problems we are given. Epicurus said it best “Do not spoil what you have by desiring what you have not; remember that what you now have was once among the things you only hoped for.” Be grateful in all things.
Focus is a fundamental key to finding joy in our lives, The law of attraction is immensely powerful, we attract into our lives that which we focus upon. Finding a clear perspective in everything allows us to master this law of attraction and bring these things into our lives we all desire, for “man is that he might have joy.” The things that we focus upon in life are the things we attract in our life. If we spend our time and effort focusing upon the negative things that happen to us, our circumstances, or what we deem “unfair” we will attract more the those negative situations into our lives. An individual who is sick and spends their time focused on the sickness, always seems to get more sick. Individuals who focus on others, and service to others, are always surrounded by great friends while those that focus inward and their loneliness, find themselves more lonely. A positive focus in life will bring about positive effects in our lives. We master that where we spend our time and energy (focus).
Our lives are meant to be filled with happiness, joy and love. We alone control our success or failure in these areas. We are the captain of our own ship, the choices we make with our perspectives, gratitude and focus will determine the level of success in life we find.
“At the end of the day, let there be no excuses, no explanations, no regrets.” Steve Maraboli
We have all heard the mantra “No Pain, No Gain”. We see this in the local gym and is referred to most often in terms of exercise and physical fitness. This too applies to personal growth.
I have often stated that I would never change anything in my life because the struggles I have personally experienced have made me the man that I am today. I look back over my challenges and I can see clearly the growth in personal strength, an increase in my compassion, understanding and wisdom that could never have been developed within me without the struggles of life. Just as in the gym, with pain comes gain. The greater the pain, the greater the opportunity for gain.
Our lives are filled with wonder, opportunities and joys. Many times these treasures are overshadowed by the heartache, grief and sorrow that also come with life. I have many family and friends whom have experienced much greater trials and obstacles than my own. As I have watched the different methods that each of them have employed in overcoming said obstacles I am struck by the differences in personal outcome depending upon the method chosen to handle the trials.
There are several differing ways that people handle trials. One is to blame others, including God. Another is to accept that trials are a part of this life and try with grace and dignity to overcome them.
Life is not fair! There are no limits to challenges that some will face.
My experience with those that play the blame game in their trials in life actually create more obstacles and hurt in life. As we blame others, we build the walls that keep out the very help that we can receive from others that will aide us in overcoming. Blaming creates hate and poison within us that actually cause us further harm, it weakens us physically, mentally and spiritually thus creating for ourselves additional challenges and trials in life. This includes the blame game that many play of blaming themselves. Blaming others or ourselves actually creates PAIN, where there can be NO GAIN.
When we choose to accept the trials that are before us, no matter the difficulty or the journey with the effort to understand and use them for personal growth and development we allow others into our lives whom can help us and oftentimes teach us through their own experiences in ways to handle trials with dignity. Trials in life are meant to help us gain something that we could otherwise not achieve. Some of the greatest leaders that have ever lived have experienced tremendous personal loss and burdens in their lives. Great leaders have always used that heartache to grow and then share that growth and wisdom they have learned in ways that lift and help others they encounter.
I have had opportunities in life where I have been able to experience the pain that deep personal heartache can bring. I have spent times on both sides of this equation. It is through the deepest of despair that I led myself into while blaming others for choices that affected me that I was taught this lesson. When I began to embrace my heartache with the knowledge that I was going through this and I could come out a bitter individual or a wiser one, I chose the latter. It wasn’t easy to change my outlook. I am deeply grateful that I did.
Tremendous growth comes from tremendous pain when allowed to work within us. When against our challenges, and we play the blame game we create more pain and postpone the gain or growth that will occur within us. Our perseverance and acceptance will help us through our struggles in the healthiest manner possible, which will more fully open our eyes to the wonder, opportunities and joy of life that exist for each of us thus enabling each of us to grow and become what we are destined to become.