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500+ for 50 – day 35: call me crazy

So much of what we tend to accept as the truth in this life we receive from worldly perspectives.  But although we may be relentlessly influenced to accept the popular convictions of society, we do ultimately hold the power to choose what it is that we will accept as our own personal beliefs.  It can be intimidating however to go against common wisdom and distinguish one’s own self from the masses.  Society doesn’t tend to look favorably upon those who view life in a different way.  The critics of the world will certainly not pull any punches against a man who challenges their way of thinking.  Instead, they’ll make every effort to drive fear into his heart and create a sense of urgency within him to conform.  It can be very difficult to stand one’s ground.  But call me “crazy” if you will…I’m not moving.


Here is a list of ten of my most steadfast convictions guaranteed to reach well beyond society’s comfort zone:


1.  Pain is meant to be embraced…

Pain has such a negative connotation in our society.  So much so that often we spend our lives desperately making every attempt possible to avoid it.  Most people’s brains are wired to respond very unfavorably to any discomfort that they encounter.  But what if we retrained our minds to embrace pain?  What if we recognized that every time that pain arrives we are being signaled to confront a new opportunity to grow and excel?  Pain is a catalyst for transformation.  It is not the end, it’s the beginning.  Our greatest life’s purposes will be born out of pain.


2.  There is no shame in mental illness…

So many people live in fear of confronting their own personal demons because society has such a negative stigma associated with mental illness.  Every day individuals battling mental health related issues suffer silently due to the pressure they feel to be viewed as “normal”.  But whose definition of “normal” are we living by, anyway?  I would wager to say that the majority of Americans have battled some form of mental health related illness at one time or another.  And there is no shame in that.  It’s not as uncommon as the masses would like for you to believe.  There is no difference between a physical illness and a mental illness – both should be recognized with the same level of care and compassion.  It’s time to stop judging and start showing some empathy so that we can free the minds of those living in bondage.


3.  Work is not just a paycheck…

God had a bigger idea in mind when He spoke about “work” than your average 9 to 5.  Some people have followed their passions and as a result they are able to truly do what it is that they love for a living, and I think that’s wonderful.  But many others are stuck in a career that offers them little fulfillment other than the comfort that they receive every other Friday when they are able to cash their checks so that they can fund their accounts and pay their bills on time.  Real work extends beyond a paycheck.  Work involves a commitment to servicing the needs of others through the talents that God has provided you.  Work is about a calling.  And if you are able to address that calling in a 40 hour week, then that’s fantastic and I admire you.  But if your work extends beyond your commitment to your current employer, that’s okay, too.  Some of the best work to be done offers little or no compensation at all.


4.  There is nothing more valuable than the truth…

Most Americans spend their lives chasing money and materialistic desires.  Some become so obsessed with the accumulation of things that they lose sight of what’s really important.  If you distract yourself with enough creature comforts you might never gain an understanding of why it is that you are here and what the greater plan is for you in this life that you’ve been given.  And that’s a shame.  Because when your number is called, that’s all that you’ve got left.  The things, they matter not.  You can’t take them with you.  I personally would rather spend every day of my life endlessly seeking the truth than live my life blindly accepting whatever it is the world gives me on this earth as my definition of fulfillment.  Many poor men have died rich, and many wealthy men have died poor.


5.  Personal CAN and SHOULD coincide with professional…

Our unique personal values and commitments should translate well into our professional careers.  We’ve spent many years in America creating a distinction between these two areas of our lives.  But times are changing.  Honesty and vulnerability are sexy traits in today’s business world.  The leaders of tomorrow will remain true to who they are and in doing so they will attract the likes of others who will embrace the personal characteristics that they have to offer.  Features and benefits can only take you so far in today’s world.  YOU are your greatest asset.  People buy from people.  And I for one would like to have a firm understanding of what I’m getting before I move forward with my purchase…so tell me more about YOU.


6.  Experience isn’t simply measured in years of service or degrees amassed…

Obviously these types of qualifiers are more important in certain professions than they are in others, but a person’s ability to succeed in life generally extends well beyond their years on the job or their education.  Life experience is invaluable.  And you don’t gain life experience by simply keeping your nose planted in a book all of your life or by working in the same field for your entire career.  You gain life experience by taking risks and by, well…by living.  If you haven’t dared to step out of your comfort zone, then you haven’t truly lived.  And if you haven’t truly lived, then you haven’t learned to adapt and survive among the failures and adversities that you are bound to encounter when seeking true success.  Your experience in responding to life’s trials will pay you far more dividends than any other formal education or training that you receive.


7.  Miracles are everywhere…

People have grown pretty particular over the years about what they are willing to classify as a miracle in this life.  Most people associate miracles with acts of healing.  And those certainly fit the bill.  But miracles are everywhere, every day.  Look in the mirror and think about all that you see in that reflection gazing back at you.  YOU are an absolute miracle born to this world in miraculous fashion!  Everything is a miracle…the sun that rises in the sky each morning, the air that we breathe and the creatures big and small that grace the land in which we live.  It’s amazing.  When you choose to allow yourself to embrace the miracles around you, life becomes so much richer.


8.  Your greatest assets are your deepest flaws…

I firmly believe that we are all the product of a perfect Creator who does not make mistakes.  The “flaws” that we embody were put in our lives for a very real reason.  They serve to shape us into the individuals that we become in this life.  The magical thing about flaws is that because they cause us to struggle we as a result tend to grow more encouraged to seek a greater understanding of who we are as individuals.  And in seeking that understanding, we often turn to a higher power for support and guidance.  When we accept and embrace that position of vulnerability we open doors to new opportunities for growth and development that we would have never otherwise encountered.  Your flaws are not meant to hinder you, they are meant to liberate you.  They are indeed your greatest asset.


9.  Faith is the best remedy for any fear…

Fear is an area that I understand all too well.  For many years I’ve battled my own mental health related issues, the most devastating of which being my fairly severe anxiety disorder.  It was only a few years ago that I was agoraphobic, meaning that I was essentially afraid to leave my home.  Those were desperate, nightmarish circumstances to live under.  But I ultimately overcame the bondage of my mind and was able to return to a more sensible way of living.  And I did it all with faith.  It wasn’t easy at times, but in learning to let go and step forward with trust in God, I scaled every limiting wall that had confined me.  We live in a world where we desire a quick fix to every problem.  Sometimes that fix is a pill.  And for some, medication is essential.  But I can assure you that there is no stronger, longer lasting anecdote than faith for fear.  So I believe that it should be a part of any effective therapy in mental health.


10.  Impossible is NOTHING…

The only limits in this life are the ones that we determine there to be in our own minds.  We live in a world that is motivated by a history of statistics.  So if someone hasn’t already achieved the milestone that we desire, we deem it as impossible.  Well, it remains “impossible” of course until someone else makes an inspired effort to reach beyond what was previously achieved and in doing so attains a new mark and establishes a new pinnacle of success.  If you think about it, impossible is a pretty flexible term, isn’t it?  We should probably just dispose of it altogether.  Because impossible is NOTHING.  We are the product of a perfect Creation and nothing can contain the reach of our limitless God.  Don’t spend another minute wasting your time discouraging the pursuit of your dreams by involving yourself in what’s considered possible today.  There’s a good chance that tomorrow that standard will be different, perhaps even as a direct result of you.


May God Bless!

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