Month: August 2013

20. APPROACHING LIFE POLITELY

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When I was in second grade our teacher, Mrs. Larson, spent an entire day on manners. It made a great impression on me. I learned to open doors not just for girls, but anyone. I learned to say “Mr.” and “Miss or Mrs.” to those I approached (especially strangers) as a way of acknowledging someone with dignity. I learned to show a graceful respect for everyone no matter their appearance or age.  I’ve often wondered how far and to whom her influence has carried itself. Forty years later the ripples in my pond are still there.

I learned very quickly how important politeness is. Some think of it as an attempt at being self-centered or above reproach using such words as snotty, conceited, pretentious, or arrogant to describe this attitude.  I do indeed see how it  might be played as leverage to try and rise above others.  This is not the proper definition nor execution of what I’ve come to understand. Courtesy is the act of putting even the smallest needs for others first; always. This is easily understood when its opposite is realized. Those we know who are the most rude and cocky constantly put themselves first in every situation. They are unkind and impolite. Their self-perceived priorities take precedence. They are extremely unreliable in every situation because when the need for help arises, it’s given only when it benefits them as well.

Putting the needs of others first isn’t just the entire picture. I suppose one could do this outwardly while hiding feelings resentment and jealousy. I’m ashamed to admit that I’ve done this, especially in traffic, but I’m also happy to announce that these incidents are becoming exceedingly rare. Being polite isn’t about how I want others to see me, it’s about how I want to see myself. If someone else benefits from something I’ve done, it’s a side-effect, not the goal. I used to become frustrated when my attempts at being civilized weren’t being returned. Someone would yell at me until I finally sunk to their level and yelled back. Not anymore. Don’t get me wrong there are plenty of times where I will step up and be a MAN, raising my voice appropriately when the situation calls for it, but I will never be a jerk or insulting.

Do not think that politeness is equal with weakness. It’s not an invitation  to those seeking to take advantage of a peaceful situation. Upon the contrary, keeping a calm and patient exterior (as well as interior) lets nothing unwanted influence you.  Remember, frustration always commits suicide. It cannot survive without a captive audience so it self-destructs. As soon as its given attention it has a reason to re-assert itself which is why the followers of a great many historical blowhards are just as annoying as their leaders.

At the very least ask yourself these questions. Why not be kind? Why not be patient? Why not be empathetic? Why not be generous? Besides, who really does want to become rude, impatient, indifferent, and selfish anyway?

With Love and Compassion, Daniel Andrew Lockwood

19. WHAT I REFUSE TO BELIEVE

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Some time ago I posted an entry designed to better introduce myself called “WHAT I BELIEVE”.  It was only half of where I stand; this completes the circle. There are common convictions many endorse that I refuse to. They hinder advancement and are useless. I choose to embrace only those philosophies which lead me away from chaos and destruction.  My goal is to live a life of peaceful constructiveness. This is NOT a path of religious sentiment nor is it the result of following a singular teaching; it’s a journey of being faithful to my spirit. I trust in guidance from an inner place. I’m not referring to that loud obnoxious voice, the one wanting nothing but pleasures of the body, known as the ego. No, I speak of an almost silent whisper coming from the deep chambers of my soul. There is where I listen, getting what I need without asking for direction. This connection has served me well and I look forward to seeing where it will eventually take me.

I refuse to blame

I refuse to believe there is never a choice.

I refuse to believe in luck.

I refuse to believe the world is getting worse.

I refuse to believe I am a victim.

I refuse to believe in seduction.

I refuse to believe the past equals the future.

I refuse to believe that there’s somewhere where God is not.

I refuse to believe that there are those beyond hope.

I refuse to believe in ugliness.

I refuse to believe I am separate from God.

I refuse to believe in impossibilities.

I refuse to believe good guys finish last.

I refuse to believe in death.

I refuse to believe first impressions.

I refuse to believe that I can’t make a difference.

I refuse to believe  negativity.

I refuse to believe I’m given more than I can handle.

I refuse to believe I cannot change.

I refuse to believe in fear.

I refuse to believe in imperfection.

I refuse to believe violence is an answer.

I refuse to fight against anything. (I will fight for something though)

I refuse to be offended.

I refuse to be late.

I refuse to stop being just a bit juvenile sometimes.

I refuse to let a day go by without trying to make someone laugh.

I refuse to be an example of what not to do.

I refuse to sell myself short.

I refuse to complain.

I refuse to do something I know I’ll regret.

I refuse to leave this world wondering what I could have done better.

I refuse to not check for toilet paper before I sit down.

I refuse to try to impress people.

I refuse to let other people’s opinions change my opinion about me.

I refuse to ever stop growing.

I refuse to ignore my feelings.

I refuse to think I’m always right.

I refuse to hate.

I refuse to ignore a cry for help.

I refuse to be unkind.

I refuse to be lazy.

I know what I don’t want because at some point I used to practice these, and they almost destroyed me. As time goes on I’m sure I’ll purge more beliefs and habits. Humble pie tastes terrible but it sure does a good job of cleaning me out.

Please follow my blog. Comment and share as you wish.

With Love and Compassion, Daniel Andrew Lockwood

18. BEING TOUGH

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When I was young I got into a lot of fights. I don’t recall ever starting a single one. They were all  reactionary. It always took a lot of shoving before I finally shoved back. I never threw the first punch; didn’t really have the guts for it. This isn’t to say I wasn’t an instigator of sorts. I was self-centered, loud, opinionated, and downright strange. My attitude and behavior rubbed many the wrong direction. I never felt as if I were being a jerk nor was I conscious of how disruptive I could be; it’s just that my manners didn’t always put others first, something I eventually learned, thank God.

The desire to solve situations from a state of anger is the easily one of the most common routes traveled, especially for men. From playgrounds to the world stage we are witness to its evidence on a daily basis. There are other ways with similar properties, laziness, ignorance, apathy, victimization, and so on. These paths are so worn that very little grows here. Do not take this metaphor lightly. Truly, when  we embrace the easy routes, nothing will manifest towards challenging us to be better. We think it’s tough to put up a fight, stand our ground, and defend what we believe in. Upon the contrary actually. The REAL way to personify toughness  is to walk away from a fight, change our minds, and  defend those we don’t agree with. To be tough, really tough, we must do those things that are actually tough to do.

When I began the journey out of my fog, my mentor asked me what I wanted to accomplish from the challenges that lay ahead. I stated my goal was to prove to him just how tough I could be. He said that was my ego talking; it wasn’t. I knew that a truly better life was something not very many choose to pursue. The way was never clearly marked, but the promise of capturing something few could claim to own was all the invitation I needed. What I speak of is a life lived in constant conscious improvement. I refer the triad of existence – mind, body, and spirit. Feed these three the proper nutrients and they will both grow and serve. Personally my list is rather clear. Every day I seek to become a little more healthy, informed, kind, productive, empathetic, honest, etc. Please notice the qualities I have sought to expand are my interior ones. I focus NO energy at all on such things as a bigger car, increased power, more money, or a better reputation. These pursuits are, believe it or not, the easier way. They may seem difficult at first, but when compared to strengthening the point of origin, they’re child’s play. I have nothing against a better exterior, but in order for it to be fulfilling, at least to me, it must be the result of living from the inside out.

I dare you to go forth and become the toughest person you’ve ever met. Drop the need to be right. Be in a constant state of politeness. Look the homeless in the eye and smile while you think a kind thought. Be willing to give without expecting or asking for compensation. Learn a new language. Defend the absent. Ask for help. Learn how to play an instrument. Read Shakespeare. Show your emotions. Throw or give away all the stuff you don’t use anymore. Stop complaining and start praising. Do these things sound tough to do? Damn right; some of them for some, all of them for others. Obviously the list could continue with a plethora of examples.

There are a few ways to determine your toughest route, so try these suggestions.

  •  Make a list of your fears.

      Decide to, one at a time, eradicate irrational fears. They serve nothing and take up too much room in an already crowded life. Not wanting to enter a dark alley in a bad part of town is a rational fear. That little spider on the countertop poses a zero threat, really. This is an irrational fear.

  •  Recognize that we see ourselves in others.

     This is literally the fastest way to pinpoint what needs improving. Don’t believe me? Try leaving for work with plenty of time and see if the traffic is even slightly annoying. When you are late those who are also late will get in your way. When you’re early you won’t care who’s late (or thoughtless) around you.

  •  Pick a mentor.

      All of us admire someone. Most of us know at least one person no wind could move. They are at peace in any situation. They probably have a good deal of abundance in their lives that reflect upon both themselves and their environment. There are of course others in the public eye that can be looked to with the same definition. Remarkably, many of these people choose to share and teach how they remain in an unwavering attitude concerning their commitments to a better way of living. Mimic their behavior and you will reproduce similar results for yourself.

  •  Slow down somewhat and choose a noble course of action.

     When we give a little more time to allow ourselves a choice of actions (rather than the habitual or instinctive ones) we open a window to view alternative courses. I feel we almost always blindly choose the easiest (or perhaps most commonly used) method for approaching  how we “take offence” or “present defense.” For instance when someone insults you, try saying that you were just about to remark on the nice shirt they were wearing. Nothing like water to put out a fire.

  •  Embrace the idea of sacrifice.

   There is no reward without the intent of sacrifice. When time is needed to accomplish what must be done, some leisure activities are usually forfeit. When money is needed to seed an idea, frivolous spending must come to a stop. When weight is to be lost, chocolate must stay in the candy isle. Most people are reluctant to give up pleasure and replace it with what they think might be pain, but it’s all relative anyway. The idea of sacrifice can easily be equated with taking chances. This attitude can keep us in a falsely labeled “safe zone”. How many chances have you taken that improved your life? How many chances have you not taken that ended in regret? The opposite is true of course for both sides, but let’s be honest, taking chances is always far and away the more positive route. Ask yourself these questions, and you’ll see why it’s vital to occasionally step away from where you’ve convinced yourself your comfortable.

  • Stop looking backwards while walking forward.

     Take your focus off what might repeat itself from and place your attention on the future. This is how to envision and motivate real change. When we choose to see only what’s behind us, constantly fearing the past is doomed to repeat itself, any kind of  progress is going to be labeled as luck, or even worse, we’re going to feel unworthy of reward. Walking one way and looking another may gain a tiny bit of road, but in the end it will eventually cause a major accident. A life lived reactivity is the way of cowardice. It’s filled with excuses like “what if?” and “how come?” An active life defines true courage. Excuses do not exist here; trust, and determination do. This does not mean we should move forward without at least a rear-view mirror. Reminders of where we don’t want to be can put a little more speed in our progress, just don’t stop looking ahead.

So…..are you tough or easy? Me? I have both characteristics just like most, but the proof that I’m a lot tougher than I used to be presents itself as unexpected abundance, something I’m confidant will never stop expanding.

Please follow my blog. Comment and share as you wish.

With Love and Compassion, Daniel Andrew Lockwood