100 Things

November 28, 2009

About eight months after becoming a quadriplegic, I was enduring a particularly difficult time.  I’d been blessed, and up to that time hadn’t really gone through and depression of any kind.  But, now it seemed as though things were beginning t mount.   I was more frustrated, depressed and discouraged and down than I had ever been since the accident.

I had been taught often about of the power of gratitude in the home I grew up in, and felt that if I had any chance to find a way out of the darkness my feelings had brought with them, it would be in large part because of some increase in my own gratitude.

In an effort to find a way to feel blessed, I pulled out a piece of notebook paper from my backpack and numbered it to 100.  I felt like 100 would be a lot, but nothing that couldn’t be easily handled in 15-20 minutes.

I was right—about the first 25.  They were simple and easy.  They were the big ones—stuff like family and friends, where I lived and what I had.

The second 25 took a little more thought.  The third 25 really made me think.  And, at 16, in order to finish the last 25, I wrote down anything I could see.  I was thankful for stuff like light bulbs, pencils, and the tacks that held up the posters in my room.

In fact, Number 99 on my list was the fact that I could pick my nose. (For more about that read here.)

It took the entire afternoon and most of the evening, but, when I was finished, I had my list.  Just having it in my hands made me more grateful; and by being more grateful, I began to feel the beginnings of a more positive attitude.

Through the next weeks and months, every time I felt down or depressed, frustrated or fraught with negativity, I pulled out my list—and each time I read my list, I started concentrating on what I did have and quit worrying about what I didn’t.  This new tool helped me to see the best and forget the worst.

This Thanksgiving I have been thinking about that original list more than usual.  So, in the spirit of the season and in honor of the original list, I spent some time yesterday creating a new list.

The thing that surprised me the most, was that my heart was as lifted as much this time as it was when I created the original list on that lined notebook paper all those years ago.

Here it is then.  I share it with you hoping that maybe seeing mine will inspire you to make a list of your own.  If you will, I promise a spirit filled with gladness and hope and a excellent tool in the fight to stay positive.

Remember what I’ve said before, “There’s not enough room in the human heart for depression and gratitude at the same time.”

Jh-

Jason Hall’s 100 Things To Be Thankful For

  1. My Faith
  2. Kolette
  3. Coleman
  4. Mom
  5. Dad
  6. Kendra
  7. Clinton
  8. Brandon
  9. Nathan
  10. Mom Coleman
  11. Dad Coleman
  12. Brothers & Sisters In-Law
  13. Grandparents
  14. Nieces
  15. Nephews
  16. Living in the United States
  17. Chance To Have Freedom of Religion
  18. Power Wheelchairs
  19. Accessible Vans
  20. Opportunity to get the best Healthcare
  21. Powerful Friends
  22. My Car
  23. Our Home
  24. Heat
  25. Air Conditioning
  26. Clothing
  27. Computers
  28. iPhone (and the return of the bar phone)
  29. Voice Recognition Software
  30. National Ability Center
  31. Disabled Skiing
  32. Bi-Skii’s
  33. Sight
  34. Hearing
  35. Sense of Smell
  36. Full Use of My Mental Faculties
  37. Growing up in Boise
  38. The Chance to live in The Eastern US
  39. Interfecal Pumps
  40. Graduating with my High School Class
  41. Attending BYU
  42. Working as BYUSA President—and all the people I worked with
  43. IVF
  44. I CSI
  45. TESI
  46. Rock Band
  47. The Million Dollar Round Table
  48. Mutual Of New York (and the people there)
  49. Garrett Burger, Large Gems, and a Cherry Scotch and Soda
  50. The Bible
  51. The Book of Mormon
  52. My Testimony
  53. My Eternal Marriage
  54. Pistachio Dessert
  55. My Eagle Scout
  56. The Scouting Program
  57. The Chance To Serve
  58. Football
  59. Words Written in my Journal by my Mom When I Was a Kid
  60. Baby Ruth Bars
  61. Broadway Musicals
  62. Cougars, Cowboys, Jazz, Celtics, Yankees, Real Salt Lake
  63. My Letterman Jacket
  64. The Ten Lepers by Jack Christensen
  65. Electricity
  66. Television
  67. Ability to Move My Arms
  68. Atonement
  69. Repentance
  70. Fasting
  71. Prayer
  72. Plan of Salvation
  73. Miracles
  74. My Boys in New Canaan
  75. The YM in Syracuse
  76. Optimism
  77. The Ability to Speak Publically
  78. Disability Insurance
  79. Workmans Comp
  80. The Inspiration to Go to Work on 21 November 1997
  81. Great Nurses
  82. Great Neighbors
  83. My Cousin David
  84. Love of Singing (and how it literally saved my life)
  85. Family History
  86. Great Music
  87. Uplifting Music
  88. Movies
  89. Showers/Shower Chair
  90. Forgiveness
  91. Repentance
  92. Having Kolette at My Side.
  93. Good Parking
  94. Straws
  95. Ramps
  96. Elevators
  97. Family Dinners
  98. Goals
  99. The Fact That I Can Pick My Nose
  100. Lists of Gratitude

Hey Coach!

November 18, 2009

This past week I had the chance to attend a fund raiser for The Christmas Box House, a great charity started by Richard Paul Evans—the New York Times Bestselling author of 16 titles including his first “The Christmas Box.”

After the event, He took some time to give me some great advice on my upcoming book, and it reminded me of a lesson I learned in my early days of little league football.

Throughout my entire Little League career, I was known as the kid who asked a question about nearly everything.  I wanted to make sure I understood every aspect of everything I was a part of—and everything I wasn’t a part of.

This was something the coaches were able to deal with, because they could always send me out onto the field.

Then, amidst my third year, I had an injury to my leg, and was sidelined.  I knew that I was still part of the team and therefore, continued to show up to practice.  But, unable to do anything but fill up the equipment bag, I stood by my coaches from the beginning of practice to its end.

With nowhere for me to go, my coaches were stuck and had to listen to me ask questions like, “Hey Coach, why do you have the safety line up there,” or, “Hey Coach, why don’t you fake the handoff then,” or, “Hey Coach, why do you only have three down linemen on that play,” and the like, all through practice.

Finally, unable to take another minute of my mini inquisition, my coach pulled the whole team in close and yelled out so everyone was clear, “If Hall asks one more question, EVERYBODY RUNS!”

My teammates looked at me to make sure I understood that none of them wanted extra laps, and practice continued.

Coach’s plan worked.  My questions stopped and the Coach got the silence he was looking for.  But, in the midst of his moratorium, I learned something I hadn’t considered myself.  If I took a minute and thought things out for myself, I could figure out many of the answers I was looking for.

It was easier to ask the coach, for he always had the answer and it didn’t require any work on my part.  After a few days of no questions, the coach allowed my inquiries as long as I had tried to figure the answer out for myself first.

Twenty-five plus years later, I’ve found the same principle applies.  I have questions and doubts and I often look around for a person, article or book to spoon-feed me the answer.  Those resources often play the role of helpmate, but I also find that if I just take the time to think things through, and trust in myself, I can find the right answer all on my own.

Trust yourself, trust your gut, you know more than you think.  Believe in you.  You have more to offer than you give yourself credit.  Use your resources wisely, but go with what you think is right and quit asking the proverbial, “Hey Coach!”

Jh-


Get The “Hack” Outta Life

November 4, 2009

Hack

If you’ve never checked out Lifehacker.com, you really should.  It’s built on the idea that you can “hack” or find “work arounds” to eliminate much of the regular mundane stuff that bogs us down and eats up our time and money.  With that idea in mind, the site is filled with all kinds of great info on easier ways to get around the regular things everyone has to deal with every day.  The last time I checked the site, they had ideas for everything from a cheaper way to build a first aid kit for your car, to a way to keep your visits to the coffee shop to a minimum, to a easier way to build a theater system in your home.

It’s flat out chocked full with a whole horde of ideas on how to find little shortcuts and “hacks” to make life easier.  I love the site, and use it on a regular basis.

In a similar vein, I see people trying to teach others that they can “hack” their way through the difficult parts of their lives.  They promulgate products and offer up programs promising to have found a “work around” that’ll work for them.  It comes assured as a way to delete difficulty—and then when it doesn’t work, it’s because they didn’t work hard enough or they quit too soon.

I see it all the time. Someone comes around with an easy answer, the promise is too much to pass up, and someone takes the bait. Then, after months and months of time and money, when it’s obvious the snake oil isn’t going to take hold, the answer comes that the sufferer simply didn’t want it bad enough.

The fact is, life is hard—and some things just can’t be fixed, no matter how bad we want them to. Life is filled with adversity and frustration that can’t be “worked around.” Although there is little question that there are ideas to help buoy us up in times of trouble and discord, the majority of the hard stuff simply has to be worked through.

There’s no quick fix, no pill, no “hack” or “cheat” that can change the harsh realities of life.  For the most part the only prescription or program that will have any effect is a healthy dose of, “Pull up your bootstraps.”  “Suck it up,” isn’t real popular, and definitely not PC, but reality is that most times it’s the only answer that really makes any difference.

We all know suffering, but what we also know is that there’s no easy out, no quick fix, no magic spell that can make it ”all better.” But in the end that’s a beautiful thing, because when the balance sheet is finally made right, it’s the hard things that we’ll be most grateful for.

They are the times where we learn the most about who we are and what we’re made of.  They are the times when we get the chance to grow. It’s the struggle that stretches us; it’s the banging against the rocks that will keep us tough.

Only by being “knocked down,” do we find out if we’ve got the strength to get up off the.

There will be some that will read this and say…”So, what then?  Is there nothing to do?  Is there nothing that can be done?”

The answer is, “Of Course not.” There are so many things that we can do to lessen suffering—We just have to accept that most times we can’t have it taken away, and that we can’t take it away for others.  In fact, we shouldn’t.  For, the real irony is that it’s our own opportunity to endure adversity that gives us the ability to find out what we’re really made of.

Adversity will come (I promise you that), and it’ll be a real humdinger.  But, when it comes, embrace it and accept it.  Don’t waste your time trying to “hack” your way out of it.  Just get after the business of enduring it well and watch the lessons you learn. I’m not saying it’ll be fun—no one ever promised you a rose garden—but, if you keep on keepin’ on, it’ll shape you in ways you never dreamed.

Jh-


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