Categories
Featured Uncategorized

The Incomplete Guide To Courage

I’ve been on a mission for more than twenty years to discover the secret fast track to personal courage. I’ve been overwhelmed with small bits of success ever since. But I made a mistake.

My Mistake

I’ve been trying to collect, compile and collate a complete catalog of courage. (Alliteration Alarm!) This is a particularly annoying habit. Because the truth is, we don’t need to know everything there is to know. What we need to know is one fast fix to get us through the moment.

This is what has worked for me. I didn’t know everything when I started and still don’t. I don’t have the brainpower to know everything and, if I did, I don’t have the power to remember it all anyway. So, in the spirit of better late than never, I propose a strategy change.

A Better Solution

What I plan is a series of short, quick wins that have helped me through tight spots. My hope is that, together, we will cover the big picture as well.

Thing One

One of the first things I discovered is that courage doesn’t work the way I thought it did. Most of my impressions about courage came from books and movies.

I imagined great deeds of daring-do complete with a sweeping soundscore and special effects. I imagined I would have to jump from or swing on something. It would all lead up to a dramatic and carefully crafted climax where I would be called upon to summon my heretofore undiscovered courage and save the day, whatever that was.

I was certain a leap was somehow involved. Because I’d fallen off things and it hurt.

Ouch!

Imagine my surprise when I found that courage would have to be “summoned” in a lonely, quiet, boring waiting room. Or alone in my bed. Or over soggy breakfast cereal. I never imagined needing courage to make a phone call or submit a job application or fill out my tax return.

Tom Cruise never did such things. In fact, he never seemed to face a problem that couldn’t be solved with a fist or a bullet or a conveniently-placed anti-tank missile. Instead, real-life personal courage seems to always come down to this:

Courage Is A Decision

Specifically, courage is a decision to do the thing you need to do in spite of how you feel. That’s it.

There is no music or audience. There is no popcorn. There’s no climactic ending after which you can go home. There is no applause. But there is a secret.

The Secret

The secret is that it matters. Courage will change your entire life for the better. People are affected. God is watching. Your quiet decisions, and mine, change the world.

Do you hear music?

Categories
Featured

I Know, I Know

I haven’t been here lately. I’ve been thinking and planning and mulling a lot but until I got a few things straight in my mind it didn’t seem like a good idea to write about it. It seemed self-indulgent and wasteful of your time.

However, I’ve made some progress in the thinking department and I’ve made a few decisions. Here they are.

First, the book is on hold for the moment. Reasons? My eyes have made it difficult. It’s hard. It’s taking a long time. My head hurts. I have a faster way to get to the main points. Life is short. Pick any of the above.

Second, the faster way is a podcast. It’s something people who know me have encouraged. It doesn’t involve reading, detailed editing or even spelling correctly, a fact which warms my slightly dyslexic soul. But I tell stories like I eat and breathe. Seems a no-brainer.

The question is, which stories? What’s my topic?

So, I’ve begun the first steps, starting with a website: CourageMaking.com. There’s very little there at the moment but you’re welcome to take a look. The big idea is to get to the point and my main lessons about courage now and finish the book as I can.

So who’s it for?

Anyone with a big idea and big challenges, but I repeat myself. They come together. If you want to do anything good, you will need courage. If you want to be creative, courage. If you want to stand up for your principles or love someone or improve yourself, you will certainly need courage.

Love requires courage. Parenting is pretty much home base for courage. Relationships of any kind require courage, to be yourself, to put your heart on the line, to risk. These are the best and most wonderful parts of life and even they require courage.

Your working life requires it, whether you are starting a new job or starting a company. We spend huge amounts of time at work and few things affect our lives and welfare as much. This means more is on the line than a paycheck. To get anywhere requires lots of courage.

Your faith requires courage. In fact, in many ways the opposite of fear is not fearlessness, which is an impossibility, but faith. Jesus did not look at the disciples after He calmed the raging storm and say, “Oh ye of little courage.” Instead, he asked, “Where is your faith?”

Writing this requires courage. It means I’m staring into a truly HUGE monitor for my eyes. It means I’ve taken time to rest and take clearer aim. And, more importantly, it means I’ve made a commitment to start again. It means I’ve challenged myself to see if I’m up to the task.

I suppose, one way or another, we will see.

And soon . . .

P.S. In the name of getting moving and not straining my eyes, you may have to do without pretty pictures for a bit. I feel progress is urgent and Photoshop is a trip into the quicksand of procrastination and perfectionism. I’ll get back to it after I’ve gotten these cats in a herd. Hi-Yo, Muffin!

Categories
Blog Change Featured

How To Be An Idiot In 2019

(Subtitle: I Wish This Were Fiction)

Harder Every Day

It used to be easy to be an idiot. Just follow your feelings, don’t read books and stay away from positive role models. You watch a little TV, play a few video games and boom, you’re an idiot. 

Today’s problem is that so much of our fun is connected to the internet, and that’s how they get you. You can be surfing along watching YouTube videos about other idiots when, before you know it, you’ve clicked on something.

I know, It’s hard to talk about. But we’ve all been there.

Free This!

They promise you some cool thing for free, the comfort zone for idiots, and then it appears on screen – the dreaded email box. Some deep instinct gives you a feeling of foreboding. Your ear twitches. You snort and paw the ground a few times.

But then you click it. Because that’s never stopped you before.

The next thing you know, you’re subscribed. People are grateful. You’re important to them. They can’t wait to give you more valuable information. You’ve found your place in life. 

So, you click a few more buttons.

Congratulations!

You’re on an email list. You have a channel. There’s a profile to complete. You need a headshot. You have a survey to fill out. So much responsibility!

But still, it was free stuff. So, they’re your friend, right?

The problem with your new friend is that he has friends. And suddenly there’s a house party in your inbox.

Some stranger is offering more free stuff. There’s music playing. Someone’s dancing on the coffee table. Your neighbors are threatening to call the cops.

Seems safe enough.

So, you join LinkedIn to make your mom proud. Now, you have a business profile. And you start a free blog. And podcasting looks cool. And there’s that YouTube channel that’s just sitting there.

So, you take a course . . . 

And that’s how they do it.

But don’t worry. It’s not too late. There’s nothing here that can’t be undone. You can still get back to those carefree days of being a clueless idiot. 

For a free step-by-step guide, just join my email list at: youcanbeanidiot.com

Trust me. I’m an expert. 

Categories
Featured

The State of the Sight

Some of you have been asking. I’ve been quiet because I was banned from Facebook . . . by my wife! Pain medication and social media do not mix. You can thank her later.

For those who don’t know, I’ve had back-to-back retina surgeries on my right eye. Here’s how I’m doing.

This surgery hurt and kept hurting. Reading, and writing, my two favorite things, made it worse. I had to stay away from TV, too. So, I’ve spent much of my time napping or listening to endless podcasts.

The pain is much better now. I’m using only over-the-counter drugs now. My mind is clear and buzzing with ideas from podcast direct infusions. I have plans!

But the other side-effect of two surgeries in a row is that I have the stamina of a gnat. This will get better. I was able to teach my audio class three days last week and collapsed in between.

I can keep my right eye open, now. It will be a blurry mess for weeks but it looks straighter than before. The last surgery left me with a twisted picture I dubbed Picasso Vision. It was comically disturbing.

I can see large, fuzzy shapes and navigate the familiar space of the house with my right eye but I can’t read and my eyes still don’t match. Time will improve all these things.

I will need at least one more eye operation and new glasses before we find out how good it will get. Until then I’m having to depend on corrective attitude, rather than corrective lenses.

The mental game, however, is awesome. People have told me I seem to have a good attitude but that’s an understatement. Having a forced time off and a new set of problems has made me focus in a way that’s invigorating. I just can’t share it yet.

Writing has been slow and probably will be for a few more weeks. I’m having fun playing around with voice to text apps. I’ve even considered starting a podcast. Hmm.

Of all the lessons I’ve relearned and reinforced, the most useful has been the airline safety speech rule: put on your own oxygen mask first before you help anyone else.

I have no choice but to take care of myself. (Sigh)

Energy is the prime issue. Healing takes energy. Thinking takes energy. That means I’ve learned some great things about focus, time management, energy creation, creativity, and communicating ideas. It’s going to change things for me.

Prayer is the peace. Mission is the drive. Time is the spur. Vision is the direction. God is the source. Under these circumstances, change is as unavoidable as it is desirable. Awesomeness ahead.

Stay tuned. This should be good.

Until then, thank you for your prayers. What power. I’m seriously grateful.

Blessings to you,
Dennis Ritchie

•••

Photo by Philip Brown on Unsplash

Categories
Brain Fun Featured Perspective Uncategorized

7 Reasons Your Year Was 10X Better Than You Thought

It’s Confession Time

Let me be up front; I didn’t reach my goals for this year. Yes, I had some big goals. Yes, I had some big setbacks that would make excellent excuses. But, here’s the thing: I don’t need excuses.

I have something better: perspective. And a little bit of science. 

Maybe you are like me and your year doesn’t look so good in retrospect. Maybe you have a friend like mine who, over the past year, started a second business, wrote a book and climbed Mt Everest with Facebook pictures to prove it.

Seriously! Kind of takes the shine off my third place bowling trophy.

I’m kidding. I didn’t even do that. My signal achievement of the year seems to be that I didn’t lose any more hair. Because I didn’t have any. Apparently, my sense of humor didn’t improve either. 

Before this devolves any further, let’s get to this list. Because, I obviously need it.

7 Reasons Your Year Was 10X Better Than You Thought:

1. Your brain is 10X more focused on the negative than the positive

Recent brain science suggests our mind is wired for survival. That means it is far more sensitive to negative things it perceives as dangerous. Ten times more sensitive!

Which is good. Safety first.

But when that negative searchlight gets turned back on ourselves then all perspective is lost. Around this time of year, your brain starts beating you up for things you imagined you might do. The positive wishful thinking you did last year gets converted into a weaponized list of extreme failures!

Not so good!

But, knowing this, you can refocus on the good bits. It might take a minute to adjust because your brain has been set to kill all year long. That means you’ve probably forgotten your good days. And the bad days probably weren’t so bad.

Negative phaser beam power – Off. Now that we can see the good stuff . . .

2. If you can read this, you made it!

Seriously, there were no guarantees. Science also reveals that people who think about the possibility of death are happier with life. Funny, huh?

Historically, most people are dead. You’re not. Congratulations! Which brings us to our next point.

3. It could have been worse

Don’t believe Facebook, even if my friend Mark the Mountain Man actually exists. Somebody had a worse year than you did. Maybe they were on Twitter. 

While you’re at it, don’t compare your life to TV. Or movies. Or video games. Or YouTube. Or pop stars. It’s all made up and the points don’t matter. Plus makeup, lighting, and editing.

They all really look like me. I tell myself.

It’s not about wishing something bad on someone else. You can’t actually do that. It’s about keeping perspective, being grateful for what you have and realizing that perfection isn’t possible. And understanding that . . .

4. Life is in the little things

These giant goals we set for ourselves obscure what life is really about. People won’t remember you for your awards. They will remember the things you said. The things you did. The loads you helped carry.

Life happens in the small moments. That’s the place to make life count. Don’t dismiss them as insignificant.

5. Your big dreams led to progress

Instead of focusing on the superhero goals you missed, think of the things you never would have accomplished without those crazy goals.

Attempting big goals forces you out of your comfort zone into the unknown. You created habits and discipline to deal with your fears. You were an explorer on a great adventure.

Striving for goals is better than reaching them.

6. You learned a lot

Okay, it was mostly from making embarrassing mistakes but still, lessons learned. In the coming year, you won’t make those same mistakes.

You’ll make different mistakes.

Again, with the humor. I’m trying, okay? One of these days I’ll make it to funny. Until then, here’s number . . .

7. There Was A Lot Of Love

Possibly more than your negative brain imagined. Spend some time counting up the people you love. And those who love you.

Whether you deserved it or not.

This is the big one for me. It matters so much more than goals and plans. Efficiency doesn’t come into play here, or talent, or intelligence. The people who love you aren’t keeping score. Love pretty much evens the playing field.

Maybe you helped someone in their moment of need. Maybe someone helped you. That happened a lot to me this year.

If you were loved this year then it was a good year. And you are blessed.

If you don’t feel loved, then take a good, deep breath. Contemplate the process that began 93,000,000 miles away as sunlight and ended in just the right amount of oxygen for you to take that breath.

Someone loved you.

I could preach a sermon here. Christmas songs still ring in our ears. Forgiveness covers resolutions, too. Hope inspires tomorrow.

May your coming year be spent in the peace that comes from God’s love, filled with His Spirit of unending life.

There you have it! 7 reasons your year was 10X better than it appears in the rearview mirror. But the first reason added 10X to the other 6, so we can’t stop there . . .

# 8 – A Bonus! This means the year ahead will be 10X better than you imagine it can be.

So, stop beating yourself up about what you didn’t do and what you have to do. Celebrate a year of life! Dedicate yourself to making the most of the coming one. Then you have a shot at actually having a . . . 

Happy New Year!

P.S. – Feel free to share your major accomplishments, goals, lessons or year-end reflections below. If we have done anything helpful in your life this year, we would cherish the encouragement if you’d like to share. Blessings!

Categories
Courage Fear Featured

The 7 Best Things About Fear

We are fascinated by fear. We mix heavy doses into our entertainment, our conversation, our plans, and even our dreams. Usually, we make fear out to be the villain in our story but that’s not totally fair.

There is another side to fear, a better, more noble side. In celebration of that, here are the 7 best things I can think of about fear:

#1 – Fear has your best interests at heart

Fear is trying to keep you safe. And let’s face it, you need to survive. Given some of the crazy things you attempt, fear has its job cut out for it.

Fear is making you think and prepare. It wants you to look before you leap. Because there might be some stairs or a bridge nearby and then you would look silly.

#2 – Fear is good at its job

Fear doesn’t claim to be the end all, be all. Courage is not its job. It just does one thing. Fear makes no apologies for this. Someone has to look out for you. So, watch out for that coffee table!

#3 – Fear is only half the story

That means the best part of your story is beyond fear. Fear just wants to make sure you get there in one piece. So, don’t look to fear as a counselor. Don’t dwell on fear. Don’t let fear stop you. Fear is the legal disclaimer at the front of your story that keeps you from getting sued.

#4 – Fear means you’re doing something right

Fear of the unknown means you’ve reached the edge of your comfort zone. It means you’re learning something, testing your limits, growing. You are being proactive instead of waiting passively. It means you’re risking failure in order to attempt something better. And that is the path to success.

#5 – Fear is temporary

Fear goes away once you start doing something. Because your brain can’t do something and focus on fear at the same time. When you look away, it goes away.

#6 – Fear is just a feeling

Fear is not a fact or an obstacle or a limitation. Fear is just a warning alarm going off in your subconscious based on your experiences in the past. But you are creating new experiences that will change how you think. Fear is a caution sign, not a stop sign or a direction sign.

#7 – Fear leads you to faith

God fears nothing. When Jesus calmed the storm, he did not say to his disciples, “Oh ye of little courage.” He said, “Do you have no faith?” When scary things happen, they make us realize our limitations and cause us to seek a higher power.

Fear gives us the motivation to reach back to our most comforting, courage-inspiring relationship – God. The more we hang around the One With No Fear, the less fear we have.

What do you think?

These are my 7 favorite things about fear. If you have some more, please share them in the comments below. We’d all love to hear them.

Now, let’s go out there and face the day with courage. Woo hoo!


The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom,
and the knowledge of the Holy One is understanding.
Proverbs 9:10

Categories
Blog Courage Featured

42 Times You Are NOT Waiting On God

But they that wait upon the Lord shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings as eagles; they shall run, and not be weary; and they shall walk, and not faint. ~ Isaiah 40:31

This scripture is often quoted to teach us patience and to show the dangers of “getting ahead of God.” But, as it turns out, the King James translation is misleading. The Hebrew word is actually better translated as Hope or Trust.

This changes everything. I wish I’d realized it sooner. After more than sixty years of life, I often find that while I thought I was waiting on God, He was actually waiting on me.

The word “wait” is used in the Old Testament 94 times but Jesus said it only once when he told the disciples in Acts to wait for the Holy Spirit, who is now with us.

The word “immediately” is used only 8 times in the entire Old Testament but it is used 34 times in the Gospels alone and 11 times in the book of Acts.

If you look at the complete thought of the passage in Isaiah, the whole thing turns around. Listen in the NIV version.

Why do you complain, Jacob?
Why do you say, Israel,
“My way is hidden from the Lord;
my cause is disregarded by my God”?
Do you not know?
Have you not heard?
The Lord is the everlasting God,
the Creator of the ends of the earth.
He will not grow tired or weary,
and his understanding no one can fathom.
He gives strength to the weary
and increases the power of the weak.
Even youths grow tired and weary,
and young men stumble and fall;
but those who HOPE in the Lord
will renew their strength.
They will soar on wings like eagles;
they will run and not grow weary,
they will walk and not be faint.

This doesn’t sound like waiting at all. It sounds like standing back up after you get knocked down. It sounds like, “Never quit!”

Considering how hard it is to motivate yourself to do anything, considering how many distractions are placed directly in our path, considering how many people are energetically trying to interrupt us to buy their thing or promote their ideas, here are:

42 Times You Are NOT Waiting On God

  1. When you have clear instructions and a mission.
  2. When you wait for someone else to do it.
  3. When you wait to be perfect.
  4. When you wait until you know enough.
  5. When you wait for someone more talented.
  6. When you wait for an expert.
  7. When you wait out of ignorance.
  8. When you wait out of cowardice.
  9. When you wait out of political correctness.
  10. When you wait until you feel like it.
  11. When you wait for the perfect time.
  12. When you wait until you have more money.
  13. When you wait without praying.
  14. When you wait without preparing.
  15. When you wait because you allow yourself to be distracted.
  16. When you wait because you’ve never done it before.
  17. When you wait because that’s not the way it’s done.
  18. When you wait until the problem is gone.
  19. When you wait outside the school until the gunfire stops.
  20. When you wait to speak against evil.
  21. When you wait to speak the truth.
  22. When you wait to share salvation.
  23. When you wait because you are too young.
  24. When you wait because you are too old.
  25. When you wait because it’s someone else’s job.
  26. When you wait because you don’t want to get involved.
  27. When you wait until help arrives.
  28. When you wait until tomorrow to do the good you could do today.
  29. When you wait to encourage.
  30. When you wait to love.
  31. When you wait to apologize.
  32. When you wait for someone’s permission.
  33. When you wait to do what you know you should do.
  34. When you wait to live up to your potential.
  35. When you wait to try.
  36. When you wait until it gets easier.
  37. When you wait until conditions are right.
  38. When you wait until someone else tries it first.
  39. When you wait out of habit.
  40. When you wait because there’s plenty of time.
  41. When you wait because it’s all you’ve ever known.
  42. When you wait until it is too late.

So . . . What am I waiting for? I’m running out of reasons.

Categories
Blog Featured

Love Is a Can of Paint

True Love Is A Verb

Love is something you do. We all know this. But it’s easier to make it about feelings. Because feelings don’t require me to paint the kitchen.

This weekend, because of a strange mix of schedules and latex allergies, I ended up taping and stripping and sanding and patching and climbing ladders and painting. I know experts say there are better ways of managing these things. But none of these experts was willing to come by my house this weekend and help me paint.

It was within my skill set. The opportunity was at hand to fix a problem. So, I did it.

DO Unto Others

The Golden Rule doesn’t say “Feel unto others as you would have them feel unto you.” It doesn’t mention “likes” or emojis. Gift cards apparently don’t play into it either.  Words are no substitute. Flowers don’t say it best. Songs and poems don’t count.

Nope. I have to do something.

But, being a veteran rule-inspector, I noticed that there’s nothing in the Golden Rule that says I can’t make it as enjoyable as possible. Right?

Elmer Bernstein

This is where things take a bit of a strange turn. I’ve recently discovered that writing with movie soundtracks stirs up my creative energy. Lyrics take me off course. After going through John Williams and Hans Zimmer, I discovered the man who inspired these contemporary masters – Elmer Bernstein.

Also known as John Wayne’s favorite composer.

Now you get the picture. Imagine me heroically wielding my paint roller to the sound of sweeping western soundtracks at theater volume. (Yes, I had the house to myself. No complaints from the neighbors – yet.)

Yes, it was still exhausting. Yes, things still went wrong. But it’s done. And I slept really well last night. Thanks, maestro.

Priorities

The problem with doing things instead of feeling them or thinking them is that I can only do one thing at a time. That means I had to spend my writing day with a paintbrush in my hand.

This is not an excuse. This was a decision.

Life, in the final result, will not be about what we thought or felt. It will be measured by what we did.

We can talk about love and write about love and use heart emojis and explain our intentions. But these things are easy to fake. Jesus taught that we know trees by the fruit they produce. In the same way, we know people by the things they do.

Actions don’t lie.

Paint On The Wall

The good thing about actually doing something is that the results are real. This morning I woke up with paint on the wall. It will be there tomorrow and the day after.

So many things in life are up for debate long after the fact. Did I write a good sentence? Is this song finished? Did I make the right decision? Could I have been more kind? Should I have kept my mouth shut? (Well, okay. Some things are obvious.)

But a good deed done remains done. Today’s paint was yesterday’s decision.

Now, what will I do with today?

 

 

Photo by Yoann Siloine on Unsplash

 

Categories
Blog Courage Featured

Courage for the Gap

“The chief cause of failure and unhappiness is trading what you want most for what you want right now.”- Zig Ziglar

We live in the gap between good actions and good results.

If good results came immediately and in direct proportion to the pain of our efforts, it would be easier to see the connection. Instead, the delay gives us time to doubt.

Now, I don’t imagine that, without this gap, I would somehow get everything right. The only place that happens is in my imagination. And even my best intentions fall far short of actual action. At least making mistakes teaches us things.

But the delay between my best efforts and my best results does give me time to cause some trouble.

Causing Trouble

Instead of holding the course, I get distracted. I get bored. I get anxious. I get impatient. And I have plenty of help doing it.

The latest shiny thing comes along promising to make my life effortless. It could be a tool, a toy or a strategy. It promises no waiting, no patience required. You could feel good now. Just buy this or try that and your problems are solved.

But they aren’t. Because nothing bridges the gap. Life requires me to wait it out. God requires it.

Why the Gap?

The reason is because the best things in life are in the gap. In the space between good actions and good results, our strength is forged. Persistence is developed. Courage gets its exercise. Goals appear like stepping stones to the future.

Hope trains to lift us higher. Character finds its feet and stands.  Grit moves forward. Faith stretches and begins to run.

Love

Love lives in the gap. Love sees what has been and what could be. What must be. Love sees the best parts of us and encourages them. Love stands beside and whispers, “You can make it.”

Love weaves beautiful dreams of things to come. Love has the vision and strength to build a future worth having. Even if it is a future we might not reach for ourselves.

Forgiveness

But the best part of the gap between our actions and our results is the time it allows for forgiveness. For if our good results came immediately after our best actions, our debts would also be due.

If judgment came immediately for our worst actions, there would be no time for repentance. No place for mercy. No home for grace. No space for redemption. We would have no hope for the future. No growth.

We would get exactly what we have earned – justice.

We Need The Gap

We are built for it. We are born problem solvers and believers. We cannot control our circumstances or guarantee our outcome. But in the gap in between, we have control over how we respond. It is our opportunity to change ourselves for the better. And maybe even change the world a little.

We control what we do with the time we have. Have courage. Do good. And in the gap do more good. Stand strong and have faith that the good result will come.

And for the rest, have the courage to ask for forgiveness.

Because Jesus stands in the gap having paid our toll. And on the other side, the God of goodness and grace will meet us, with blessings we cannot imagine.

Let us run with endurance the race that lies before us. – (Hebrew 12:1)

 

Photo by Omer Salom on Unsplash
Categories
Courage Featured Politics

The Genetic Code Behind The 4th of July

Psychologists have a name for it – internal locus of control. It’s the feeling of having control over your own life and it’s critical to people and to animals as well. It’s built into us at a genetic level.

Even my chocolate lab, Nessie, prefers to have it her way and make her own decisions. She does not like the fact that she’s currently wearing a “cone of health” to keep her from licking a scratch on her paw. And she’ll tell you about it.

This feeling of control can turn a difficult job into a meaningful choice. It is the fertile ground for self-motivation. It can connect small, seemingly inconsequential, tasks into a larger, more powerful purpose. It is key to satisfaction, happiness, and even longevity.

New York Times bestselling author Charles Duhig wrote this:

“Internal locus of control has been linked with academic success, higher self-motivation and social maturity, lower incidences of stress and depression and longer lifespan,” a team of psychologists write in the journal “Problems and Perspective in Management” in 2012. People with an internal locus of control have more friends, stay married longer, and report greater professional success and satisfaction.”*

It’s a learned skill

Usually, we learn this one very young. So young that by the time we’re adults we seem to just know it instinctively. But learned behavior can be unlearned.

As we grow older, schools, bosses, and authorities spend so much time trying to shape us to their will and use us for their purposes that we can easily believe it’s dangerous. We are told what to say by our peers and media. Our social need to belong is so powerful that we begin to give in.

At the same time that we know that you can’t please everybody, we are conditioned to try. It’s a process so slow that we can’t see it happening. As a result, we become less independent, less able to make our own decisions and significantly more fearful.

Carol Dweck, Stanford psychologist, helped conduct a study that indicates when we practice feeling in control, our internal locus of control is reawakened. We can slowly rebuild habits that give us back our feelings of autonomy. But if we are denied that self-control, watch out.

It’s a rebellion!

“A little rebellion now and then is a good thing . . .” – Thomas Jefferson

A number of studies in nursing homes in the 1990’s attempted to find out why some patients thrived there and some didn’t. It turned out that the survivors conducted continual small rebellions against the rigid structure that controlled every decision, right down to their menus.

It even got to the point that one group of residents in Little Rock ripped the furniture off the walls that had been attached for their “safety.” Then they traded furniture to the management’s dismay.

Another group in Santa Fe swapped unapproved food, like cake, during meals. As one man put it, he’d “rather eat a second-class meal that I have chosen.”*

The result is that these rebels walked twice as far, ate a third more, visited the gym more, took medications more regularly and even obeyed their doctor’s orders better. As a result, they lived longer, were happier and had better relationships. In general, those that seized control of their lives had better, longer lives than others.

Wired for self-determination

I don’t need to illustrate any further because I’m sure these stories resonate right to your bones. You know that a sense of autonomy and self-determination is better. We always have.

So, while scientists have gone so far as to call the need to make your own decisions about your life “a biological imperative,” Americans just call it freedom. And we know the benefits are beyond measure. And we will rebel against any group or institution or social construct or government that tries to force us to submit.

God is the only one worthy enough to command our submission. And any submission to each other is to be done by choice, for the purpose of service in gratitude for God’s rich blessings and unmerited grace.

So have a happy central-locus-of-control, self-determination, rebellion, autonomy day! May love and liberty be your steadfast guides. May grace and gratitude be your prayer.

 

 

*Smarter Faster Better, Chapter 1.
A round of applause to Charles Duhig for his great work.I liberally absconded with this data in the full knowledge
that you were not writing about the 4th of July. And yet you did. Thanks. You can buy it here. I have NO affiliate relationship;
I just like it.
Photo by Patrick Brinksma on Unsplash