"Intend" does not mean maybe and "Intention" does not mean you’re considering a course of action. If you truly want to change your life, or something in your life, you must live with intention.
What does that mean? If you say that you are living with intention you are saying that you have a purpose and a plan. When you tell someone that you intend to do something you are telling them that you have an objective. Having an objective implies that you are moving toward that objective. It means you’re not just talking about it because you are taking action to make it happen.
Sometimes we try to lie to ourselves when we see someone achieve something great. Whether they have written a bestselling novel, landed a wonderful job, sculpted a strong, attractive body or made a dream come true, we attempt to convince ourselves that they were able to do it because of some special advantage. They had money, time, an easy job, no kids, or they just got lucky. None of those things are true. They did it because they intended to do it.
I hear this frequently in my own life. There are those who assume I am slim because of my genetics or that I was able to write a book because I have some inborn natural skill for putting words on paper. Both assumptions could not be further from the truth. I am slim because I intend to eat well and exercise frequently. I write because I have the intention to write and I practice daily.
Here’s the bottom line. If you want change you have to move, take action, do something, intend! Take complete responsibility for your life. Don’t wait around for something to happen for you. Go out there and make something happen.
No more waiting. No more excuses. Do it.
Life is now, don’t wait.
You can live a life of greatness. You can realize your great dream.
How? You do this by:
Understand that the greatness is already inside of you. All you have to do is release it and you do that by utilizing the tools you have been given.
When you live your life this way, those who are around you will be influenced to greatness. It is the principle of "iron sharpens iron".
When you give your best, others will be influenced to give theirs. When you love with all your heart, others will be inspired to love with all of theirs. When you lift up others, you encourage others to do the same.
Come on, let's get to it. The time is now.
Even in death he spoke words of life to me. I had looked up to him my entire life and when the time came for me to watch him die, my love and admiration for him only deepened. Upon hearing from his doctor that there was nothing else that could be done, he simply nodded that he understood. The doctor had delivered the grave news with tear-filled eyes which betrayed the fact that my father had even had an impact on him. That's how it always had been with my dad. He was a man in every sense of the word; strong, capable, and protective of his family. Still, he had a gentle and compassionate heart that was ever willing to offer advice or words of encouragement to anyone.
Even after he was moved to a Hospice Unit the truth of the situation seemed to elude me. Just as he taught me to be, I remained strong for my family. One night, when my mother and sister had left the room, he called me to his side. I went to him, leaned in, ready to hear his words. He said, "When this happens your mother and sister will likely go to pieces. You'll need to be strong for them, make sure they make it through okay." I placed my hand on his head and said, "Don't worry dad. I promise I will see them through." I kept my promise, compartmentalizing my own emotions in order do so. It has been close to three years since he spoke those words to me and I have looked back in awe of that moment hundreds of times. Even in death, his death, his concern was for others. What a lesson that was and he would teach me even more in the coming days.
Though he was in considerable pain, he did not wish to be sedated into oblivion, a wish I ensured was followed. Family members visited with him, each wishing to have just one more moment with the man who had always been there for them. Even though many of the family members didn't really get along with each other, the one thing they all had in common was the influence this man, my dad, had been on their lives. What a testament to a life lived with love and compassion and another lesson made clear to me.
I was there at the moment he drew his very last breath. Staying true to the promise I had made to him, I remained strong for my mother, who said goodbye to her husband of fifty years, and for my sister who had just lost her father.
A few days later at the funeral home, on visitation night, I stood by my mother's side in front of the casket. I remember being in awe as people just kept streaming in to pay their respects. People were literally lined up out the door waiting for their turn to say goodbye. I watched as evidence of a lifetime spent truly caring for others manifested before my eyes. Even though I knew my dad so very well, I was amazed at how many lives he had impacted. Another lesson.
I'm often told that I am just like my father, a sentiment I doubt I deserve, but I am honored nonetheless. I am glad dad taught me strength and that I was able to fulfill my promise to stay strong through those last days. I have grieved, but in bits and pieces. A little here and a little there.
I write now, offering these bits and pieces as a way to say "Thanks dad, for showing me the power of love, compassion and the right word spoken at the right time."
During the days spent in Hospice, I typed into my iPhone the following words. Maybe they were the beginning of my own process of grieving, but held inside until the time came I could let my guard down. I release them now, letting them burn away as I type them, their ashes scattered to the winds. If I have a prayer at this moment it would be that my life and my words have an influence as powerful as my dad's.
At first, a Hospice Unit seems kind of nice. Larger rooms, nicer decor, better nurse-to-patient ratio....after a few days, however, the reality of the situation and the true purpose of such a place reveals itself.
No matter the well-placed art on the walls or the hardwood floors; In spite of the smiling faces of the staff, the free coffee , bagels and ice water.... This is a place of death. A temporary abode for the dying. There's no healing attempted here, for it's inhabitants are beyond that which medicine or treatment can provide.
Most days are accompanied by sounds of sobbing from one room or another, as another patient dies and their families grieve. One listens, waits, and wonders when their turn will be.
Don't misunderstand, much good is done here as some suffering is made easier, through administration of various nerve-numbing medications, and certainly family members are counseled by chaplains or nurses and prepare for the death of the one they love.
Days pass with little or no sleep, you become so absorbed in the situation that you forget to eat. Fatigue finds its way into your body, and eventually your mind. After a while you begin to wish for it to end, and immediately chastise yourself harshly for the only way it can end is for the one you love to die.
I look around the room and I see the faces of my family drawn tight by sadness, fatigue and stress. Some dozing, others with tears running down their cheeks, and some just stare blankly.
One becomes torn as they wish for the suffering to end, and yet not willing to let go.
Through all of this I wonder. I wonder about death and why some times it is unexpected and swift, while at other times it is painfully and agonizingly slow. Is one way to be favored over the other? Is one less or more painful to endure?
These things I ponder even while I sleep, or attempt to anyway. In this moment I lean toward the swift and unexpected path. Like the removing of a band-aid. All at once, with one swift and violent motion. Done. Over. Quick.
Painful? Yes, but having been endured for much less time.
I have spent the last twelve years studying life, achievement and success. Tony Robbins has said that he began his journey by reading hundreds of “self-help” books and I guess I began in this way also, but I would also add that mine has been a journey of the heart. It has been as much a time of self-discovery as it has been learning better ways to think. Along the way I have read and studied multiple religious paths, attended many churches, seminars, conferences, rituals and gatherings. I have spent countless hours reading and have filled dozens of notebooks with notes.
I have been on top of the mountain and I have hit rock bottom more times than I can count. There have been times I have had plenty of money and times when my only food was peanut butter and cheezits- every meal of the day, every day of the week. My mindset for the first few years on this path was that only extreme hard work, discipline and perseverance would bring success. I pushed myself very hard and I experienced a roller-coaster of ups and downs for several years as I chased “success’. Of course, at that time my definition of success was making a whole lot of money. These days my definition is quite different and so is my mindset.
I am still learning and I often feel as though I am but an infant when it comes to my understanding of life and this universe. However, my understanding is far greater than it was twelve years ago. I used to think that in order to be successful in life I had to get and maintain control of everything in my life. I don’t have to tell you the pain and frustration that brought into my life! In reality, we do not, have never and will never be in control of everything. In fact the entire universe is beautifully “out of control”! That being said, please understand this: Your life is yours to create, and create it you have. Some will argue that this is a load of crap, and that’s okay, but this is what I have learned is true for me. I won’t try to convince you otherwise, nor tell you what to think. I only point you in a certain direction and allow you to see what you will.
Anything and everything you want your life to be can become your reality, but please hear this one very important fact: Every external change will, and must always be, preceded by an internal change. The hard work and discipline I mentioned earlier? Well, those things still apply, but direct them inward and apply your focus there, for that is where it all begins. Look intently into your heart. Find out what it yearns for; what it really wants.
What you want matters. I am not speaking of only material things you wish to own, a different job, relationship and certainly not money. All of these things are superficial and are only clues to the real truth of what lies deeper within you. What I am talking about is what you want from your life. What do you want it to mean and why do you want to live? You have to put in the work and dig down to what drives you. Why do you do what you do each day? How do you want your life to be? This is hard work, I know because I am doing it too, but it is this work that will peel away the façade and expose the truth beneath; the truth of who and what you are; the truth of what your heart and spirit long for.
What you want matters:
..because a want is a desire. Desire is a deep longing born of what sets your heart ablaze with passion. The desires of your heart lead to thoughts and the thoughts you continually keep in your mind are what shape and create your world.
..because to want something, to yearn for something so deeply, is a heart thing. It is the voice of your spirit as opposed to just your intellect. This voice is who you really are and not the picture of yourself which you’ve constructed.
..because the desires of your heart, though often ignored or overshadowed by “rational thought”, are what solve the “mystery” of your life’s purpose.
..because it is the passion for the wants of your heart that will sustain you through the dark valleys. Mere logical thought will abandon you in the dark times, and there will be dark times. Achieving anything worthwhile takes effort, discipline and persistence. If you set out to attain a goal that isn’t a true desire of your heart, a passion that drives you no matter what, then you won’t stick to it.
..because true joy and happiness are the result of listening to, and acting on, your heart’s desires.
..because to actually experience living each moment of your life, and not just in anticipation of what you hope will come in the future, you must experience the fulfilling of what your heart really yearns for.
..because your wants will not only impact your life, but the lives of others also.
..because your wants will empower you to push past fear. You will be empowered to happily leave your comfort zone, and all advancements will always take place outside of the familiar.
Please never underestimate the desires of your heart and what your contribution can mean to the world. Maybe what you set out to do influences only one hundred people. Is that a bad thing? Absolutely not! Think what happens if each of those one hundred people influences another one hundred. Do you see how far and wide your influence is multiplied? Indeed, this is how the world can be changed. In fact, it has been changed many, many times in just this way!
Like you, I am still on my journey, and that’s good because in the end you’ll see that the journey was your life.
The Words You Speak
Never underestimate the power of the words you speak into another person's life. Makes no difference if they're good words or bad, they carry with them the power to influence a life.
Growing up, I cannot remember a time that my father ever discouraged me from trying something I wanted to try. Each time his words to me were "You can do anything you set your mind to" and I cannot begin to tell you how many times he spoke them. The beautiful thing about that is he didn't just speak them to me or my sister.
He would offer those words of encouragement, and so many others, to pretty much anyone. In fact, he was known for his straightforward answers to questions people would ask and he never sought to hurt someone with what he shared. It was obvious that his goal was to help, uplift and encourage another human.
His words help shape me as a young man and had a significant influence on my own philosophy and outlook on life. My father is gone now, but his words and the power they had are still at work in me and many others. I have three daughters, now all grown up, and I can see the words I have spoken into their lives, the same words that were spoken into mine, at work in them.
The words you speak matter.
I don't care if you're speaking them to a family member, friend, coworker, employee, client or your employer, just know that they matter.
Today I was thinking of how much of what our life experience is like is due to how we look at things. It is very important to understand that the life-lens through which you view life will determine the quality and direction of your life. In case you’re wondering, your “life-lens” is the attitude or mindset you use to live your life. However it is you think each and every day becomes a habit. If your thoughts are typically upbeat, grateful and positive you will develop the habit of looking at nearly everything you encounter in life in this way. Conversely, if your thoughts are typically pessimistic, ungrateful and hopeless, you will develop this way of thinking as a habit.
Think of your attitude as a filter and life as water. If your filter is fresh and clean, the water you pass through it will be cleansed of debris and impurities. The water then becomes safe for you to drink and will help keep you healthy and alive. However, if your filter is filthy, the water you pass through it will become contaminated with that filth and will end up being worse than it was before it passed through your nasty filter. Drink this water and you’ll become sick or maybe even die. If you choose an attitude of gratitude, compassion, love and joy then whatever life brings to you will filter through that and be made better. Choose the opposite and whatever life brings you will filter through that and be made even worse.
Hopefully this analogy will serve to illustrate how vitally important it is to choose your thoughts wisely and focus on what gives life rather than what takes it away. Attitude is the foundation upon which you build your life.
It seems as though it has taken me a lifetime to get to the point where I can discard old “programming” that led me down the “you have to get a job, work hard for decades and hope you live long enough to enjoy life when and if you retire” path. I now understand that following the deep desires of my heart is what brings me love, happiness and joy now! Not only that, but those yearnings of my heart are what I bring to the world; the things that will enable my life to have an impact for good on those around me and will be the legacy I leave behind. Recently, I wrote a post entitled What You Want Matters which discusses how your deepest desires are clues to what it is you truly want out of life. When I began to grasp this concept and live out my understanding of it I discovered another very important thing. What I want matters, yes, but what I expect is what I get.
“If you think you can do a thing or think you can’t, you’re right”
~ Henry Ford
You see, what experience has taught me is that life isn’t something that “happens” to me, but rather it is responding to me. My heart can have all of these desires, the fulfillment of which will bring great joy, but if I have the expectation that I will never experience them then guess what happens. That’s right, I never will. Your expectations are a reflection of your beliefs and your beliefs will either limit you or liberate you. Repeat limiting expectations enough and they become a habit and before you know it you have created for yourself a mindset that will forever hold you down. Do you have a dream, a way of life you want to achieve? Have you gotten close to it, maybe even many times, only to fall short each and every freaking time? You’re left feeling depressed and wondering why life is working against you so fervently. I have lived this so many times it’s embarrassing, but now it’s different. Why? Because I now know that each day I have a choice and this choice has to be made every day. I choose to believe I can. I am convinced that the way of life my heart has whispered to me about for so long is not only possible but is already being built. It began the moment I chose to expect it.
"The thing always happens that you really believe in; and the belief in a thing makes it happen"
~Frank Lloyd Wright
What you expect matters:
…because your daily expectations will become a habit.
…because your habitual expectations form your mindset. Your mindset is the ruling state of your mind. The ruling state of your mind becomes a magnet and will attract and show you only those things that are in alignment with your expectations.
…because it will determine if your heart’s desires will ever see the light of day.
…because this is what will determine your level of peace, joy, love and happiness every day.
…because this will have a huge effect on your influence of other people. Expecting bad things or results will bring you down. If you’re down, depressed and unhappy then that’s what you’re bringing to the world.
"Men often become what they believe themselves to be. If I believe I cannot do something, it makes me incapable of doing it. But when I believe I can, then I acquire the ability to do it even if I didn't have it in the beginning
~ Mahatma Gandhi
What do you expect life will be like for you today? What life are you building for yourself with your mindset; your beliefs?
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