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-


I Can Do Anything For 80 Years

October 22, 2009

Hospital Traction 1st Acc._2

I have been taught the importance of being positive from the youngest days of my life.  I don’t remember a time when having a PMA (Positive Mental Attitude) wasn’t a regular part my parents instruction on the proper way to live a life.

Therefore, growing up, I tried to make a positive outlook a part of my life.  I tried to look at the glass half full, tried to see the best in those around me and tried to concentrate on the good and forget the bad.

Then at fifteen and a half, on the 13th of July 1986 my life changed in a second.

I went from a completely healthy young man in the best shape of my life to paralyzed from the chest down with only partial use of my arms and no use of my hands.

As difficult as that transition was, it was the first nights that were the most harrowing.  My lungs filled with mucus to the point where you could barely see any clear part of my lung on the x-ray.  My pulmonologist told me it was the worst case of pneumonia he had ever seen.

You didn’t have to have a medical degree to understand that my life was in the balance.  In those days, I had one wish.  It wasn’t to walk, it wasn’t to be accepted back at home, and it wasn’t to have a normal life-It was to live.

All I wanted was to wake up the next morning.

After a few days when I began to feel, not quite out of the woods, but on my way there, my dad came to the side of my bed and asked me if I felt like I could deal with life as a quadriplegic, I replied, “I can do anything for 80 years.” I was so grateful that I’d kept my life—everything seemed better.  Even paralysis seemed doable.

In the days since then, I’ve almost lost my life at least one other time.  And in those days, good or bad, I’ve tried to recall  that same feeling.  Whenever life gets difficult (as it often does) I try to remember that no matter how bad it gets, I still have my life.

Knowing that I am still breathing makes everything else challenging small in comparison.  It makes a real difference in my effort to live a happy life.  It is difficult to complain about the stumbling blocks when you find a way to remember that you are still around to stumble.

When things get hard, remember to love life.  Be grateful that you are still here.  Be glad that you have a chance to struggle and the negativity will be replaced with that Positive Mental Attitude I was taught so much about in my youth

Jh-


Just A Way To Travel Down The Road

December 16, 2008

freeway1

You pick anyone on any street anywhere in the world and you’ll find there are things that they want that they cannot yet acquire. Each of us has wants. Everyone of us has things we wish that we had that we don’t have now. It may be a bigger house, or a nicer car. It might be new clothes or the latest gadget. No matter how old we get each of us could put together a list for Santa. We usually don’t, but it’s not because there aren’t things that we don’t wish for. It’s because we know the total in Santa’s bank account.

There is absolutely nothing wrong with wanting things that we don’t have as long as we don’t allow those wants to get in the way of our happiness today. So often I hear people talk about the things that they want and how they are connected to their ability to be happy. They’ll say things like, “If I just had a bigger house, then I could be happy,” or, “If I just had a nicer car, then I could be happy.” Whether it’s a house or car, a higher income or vacation people seem to qualify their wants with the fact that receiving them would make them happy.

It’s always amazing to me. “Then… I could be happy,” they say. As if the only thing standing in the way between them and a happy life is the acquisition of a want.

Unfortunately, almost without exception when people do finally acquire the bigger house, nicer car, higher income, or vacation the only thing that follows is not happiness but additional wants. If the bigger house becomes theirs then they began to talk about how something else on their list will “then make them happy.”

The reality is that happiness doesn’t come with things. It’s not something you achieve at all. There are people in the world who spend their whole lives chasing those things that they believe will make them happy and end their lives never acquiring the joy they pursued all their days.

I remember when I learned this lesson myself. I was 16 years old and barely home from the hospital after my diving accident. I was working hard to find a way to live my life in a wheelchair. There were so many days when all I thought about was walking. I was sure that if I could walk again, then I could be happy.

As each new morning would come I found myself still paralyzed and in a wheelchair. It was more difficult to be happy always concentrating on this want. One day I made the decision that with all my heart I would hope to walk tomorrow. But as for today I would be happy in a wheelchair.

Twenty-three years later I still hope to walk tomorrow but today, I am happy. Had I not adopted this frame of mind I would have spent the past two decades wishing every day that I could walk–waiting for that day to come to finally be happy.

So too it is with everyone. There’s nothing wrong with wishing. There’s nothing wrong with wanting. The problem comes when those wishes and wants dictate our daily happiness.

Happiness is not so much a place we will ever reach as much as it is a way that we travel through our lives–a highway of experiences and moments. If we think about joy as an interstate for life’s journey we have to watch for the on ramps. Just like trying to get on our local freeway on ramps are the key.

The on ramps in our lives are those things that bring us happiness in the moment. A child’s smile may be an on-ramp. Remembering the kind deed from a friend may be an on-ramp. A little service may be an on-ramp. Each of us has different things that allow us to merge into the traffic of contentment and joy.

But, if we don’t watch for our “on ramps” will never find our way. Each of us must look around our lives and find those things that bring simple happiness and remind us to travel meaningfully through each day.

Joy comes in the journey and happiness is not a destination, it’s just a way to travel down the road.

Jh-

Remember that the DVD contest closes Tuesday, December 16 at 9 PM PST. If you’re interested in winning one of my autograph DVDs follow this link and go to my previous post and leave a comment.

Also, if you’re a blogger check out alphainventions.com to increase your traffic.


One Hour

October 14, 2008

Hard times and bad days are a part of everyone’s life. No matter how dedicated we become to having a positive attitude, no matter how much effort we put in to looking at the good in our lives, life is filled with adversity and difficulty. The most positive, optimistic, cup half-full person in the world will have times when the experiences in their life becomes so overwhelming that they can barely put their heads in their hands.

As I travel around the world and have the opportunity to meet thousands of people in thousands of circumstances,  no matter where I go and no matter who I meet, invariably someone asks how I have dealt with the tremendous adversities that have been a part of my life.  the question is usually followed by a story of a substantial struggle or difficulty that has recently been either a part of their life, or the life of someone close to them.

When this question comes, and it does more than any other, I do my best to share some insight that might help them deal with the hardship that is become a part of their life experience. Depending on the adversity and the situation, I will try and find different pieces and parts of my experience to help. But, no matter the adversity or the situation, there is one piece of advice that I always share.

In the days and weeks after I broke my neck my life literally hung in the balance. Even on the good days the doctors were unsure if I was going to make it. One doctor remarked that in his over 20 years as a pulmonologist, I had the worst case of pneumonia he had ever seen. At 15 years of age this was a wake-up call to the fragility and uncertainty of life. At a young age I got the opportunity to gain just a little understanding about the incredible gift that living is.

This realization, as powerful as it was, could not stay the sadness, frustration, and anger that my adversities brought to my everyday.  But, what this understanding did do was help me realize that life was too short to be spent mired in depression. So, I made a decision.

I decided that when the difficulties were too much to bear, I could take one hour. I gave myself one hour to be down, depressed, frustrated and mad. During this hour I could kick, bite, cry, scratch, scream, throw things, sob, or sulk. I could sit in silence. I could talk of giving up, and I could think about how life was unfair.

But, when an hour was over, I had to make sure that the depression, the frustration, the anger, the sorrow, the weeping, the wailing, and the gnashing of teeth had to be over as well.

This little bit of inspiration saved me. It gave me the chance to get out all those feelings of sorrow and ineptitude all the while keeping me from getting caught in that never-ending spiral of depression and gloom. It took discipline to keep it to an hour especially on those really bad days. But, every time I remained dedicated to the ideal I found my life to be better and my prospects brighter.

Life is hard. Everyone knows that personally and intimately. We, all of humanity, deal with difficult, arduous adversities that push us to the very brink, and we need time to express the frustrations that come from our hardships. However, although it is true that life is hard, it is also true that life is short — too short to be spent concentrating on the repugnant and forgetting about the elegant.

At the end of the day. all the anger and frustration in the world won’t change our situation. All the depression and sorrow you can muster won’t chase the adversity from your life. Whether we are happy or sad, we will still have to find our way through the difficulties that are part of everyone’s life.

I know that happy or sad I will still be a quadriplegic. Happy or sad, I will still be unable to move my hands. Happy or sad. I will still be unable to walk, and happy or sad, I will still be in a wheelchair — so I might as well take an hour and enjoy the ride.

Jh-


“Take a Knee”

October 3, 2008

Some of the happiest memories of my youth come in some way or another from football.  It didn’t matter if I was watching it on television, playing it at recess, or throwing the ball around with my brother Clint, I loved the game. You can imagine then how excited I was when I finally was old enough to play competitively.

I ate it up, all of it. The “two a days” when you worked so hard you are sure you had nothing left to give, game day, the thrilling victories and the agonizing defeats. To this day, crisp autumn Saturday mornings that have just a tinge of winters bite in them bring a smile to my face and remind me of the sport I love so much.

As I remember those practices I recall that regardless of the team I played for, whenever a time came that the coach wanted to talk to the team, he would ask everyone to gather around him and, “Take a knee.”

“Taking a knee” meant many different things. Sometimes, it meant a little encouragement, sometimes more information. The coach might have some advice or instruction to share with the team, or maybe he wanted to make it clear that we weren’t doing things as well as we should be and changes needed to be made.  No matter what the coach had to say, “taking a knee” meant that it was time to take a break from  whatever we were doing and listen carefully.  For, when we did the work was easier and the games more fun.

On July 13, 1986  at about one in the afternoon, I broke my neck. Less than four hours later I was lying in an emergency room in Grand Junction, Colorado and had a doctor tell me something that I will never forget. He came next to my bed, looked me in the eye and said, “Jason, you’ve broken your neck and you will never walk again.”

Some may say that my worst fears were realized, but this little nugget of information was so far out in left field that I had never even considered it let alone feared it. There I was,15 years old trying to digest what he’d said. My game began to look pretty bleak.

Needing coaching then more than I ever had before, I followed my football training and “took a knee.” I went to my God, the best coach I have ever had, hoping for some encouragement or instruction. True to form, on my spiritual knees, I received everything I needed to make it through that harrowing day.

No matter the day, good or bad, easy or hard, things always go better when I “take a knee.” I believe the same is true for everyone. No matter what God you believe in, or how you choose to worship, our lives will be better when we take a break from whatever were doing and listen carefully.

So, when the winds blow and the waters rise, when the darkness comes and you yearn for the light, when the adversities of life conspire to chase hope from your heart, take a moment and “take a knee.” It won’t rid your life of difficulty, but it will make the work easier and the game of life more fun. I know that it has mine.

Jh-


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