Attraction

95. THE GIFT OF GIVING

frogs

My home is full of crap. I’m no hoarder, that’s for sure, but I do have a lot of stuff. Collections begun in my youth are now gathering dust and taking up room. I have a box of coins including an 1800’s penny that’s (for some weird reason) twice as thick as our normal ones, an Edgar Rice Burroughs library of over four-hundred books that spans several first editions along with a host of publishers and all kinds of release dates, a decent A&W root-beer collection that contains cream soda mugs, wall tiles, signs, and giveaways, and I own a really good vinyl selection of both Queen and Neil Diamond. Other things include over 500 movies, a lot of tools including some I’ve never even pulled the trigger on, and way too many clothes. None of these items bring me peace of mind, pleasure, or urge me to go home faster at the end of the day.

So, what can I either create or attract that WILL enhance feelings of  happiness and security? For years I was fixated on changing my state of mind from the outside in, which explains why the bottle had so much appeal; I could easily alter my emotional structure and ignore reality, at least temporarily. I empathize with others in this elusive quest. A mind free from worry and pain has great allure. Anything that does this is, even superficially, will tempt most. Unfortunately the absence of what we don’t want does not invite or manufacture what we do want. This was a serious flaw in my logic I failed to notice. When I began to equate who I was by manipulating the environment, I began to change both my possessions and, artificially, my mental state. It seemed reasonable at the time; my thoughts will turn into reality and paint the picture of my life as I fantasized it to be. This reverse path quickly led nowhere. It fed upon itself and produced a lot of regret. I was attempting to alter my reactions (a VERY important observation) from the outside in. Forcing false feelings, it seems, is not a goal or an answer. As a matter of fact it began to breed a deep shame for not letting my true self emerge. I fed the ego and starved the spirit.

As life has progressed I’ve found the answer to knowing how to live lies in what I enjoy looking back on, here is where my soul has revealed itself. I feel my greatest possessions, the ones that have contentment, love, self-respect, peace of mind, and honesty attached to them are nothing more than events. What I place value on is memories. Even when I was a boy this dynamic was quite common, so obviously this approach is not necessarily reserved for those with experience and age. Wonderful memories are not only priceless, the best ones inspire new moments of similar content. The beauty of my past can be recycled into inspiration for the moment. The question then becomes, “What can I do that will become a good memory for tomorrow?”

Some of my common thread actions and observations  have been-

  • Focus on how I can serve others.
  • Focus on now.
  • Seemingly small things to me can often be huge things for others.
  • Giving produces the most rewards; as long as nothing is expected in return.
  • Listen instead of talk. (I still need a LOT of work on this one….)
  • Sometimes the best advice is silence.
  • Don’t hold back on kindness.
  • When I do what others want, I can experience their joy.
  • Actions have infinite value over things.

When I find myself doing these correctly (most of the time I don’t, just like so many others) it becomes a dual reward. The instant is wonderful because I’m absorbing it in real-time and I can recall and enjoy it when I want because a detailed and focused record is being manufactured and filed.

These days, when I want to give a gift, I try my best to attach a memory with it. Let’s face it, unless it’s something you’ve really been striving for, simply receiving an object isn’t really all that exciting. They say actions speak louder than words, I say actions speak louder than things. As a matter of fact I would venture to say that actions have the loudest and most reverberating voice of all. I LOVE looking back to those pivotal events in my life; a trip, a kiss, an act of kindness, the first time I really saw her, a good laugh, and a last encounter all spring to mind rather quickly. There’s a powerful anchor of trust, Love, and loyalty attached to the proper actions. If you want these things in life, try giving away your best actions and see what happens.

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With Love and Compassion, Daniel Andrew Lockwood

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91. MY DEPRESSION

depression

I’m not in a position to give professional advice to those in the grip of depression. I’m not a doctor nor am I a counselor. That being said, what I can do is share the details of my journey beyond desolation. Perhaps shedding some light on where I was compared to where I am will help, perhaps not. In any case I certainly know what it feels like to be immobilized and lost.

Thoughts of doom and suicide dominated my life for a long time, years in fact. I had love, no spark, no peace, and no purpose. Surviving was my only motivation, and even that began to deteriorate. Chasing pleasure quickly became a substitute for manufacturing happiness. This mental prison I’d built started in the mid eighties and finally began to erode in the mid nineties. Going over a decade without hope, self-respect, or direction sounds like an impossible journey, one destined to end in disaster, yet here I am.

They say the further you fall, the higher you rise. Considering just how high I’ve risen in the past twenty years, my low must have been exceptionally deep, especially since even now I continue progressing with great strides. So, what exactly was the moment I started to ascend? When did my life finally stop spiraling towards oblivion?  There were three major shifts in my life that allowed the floodgates of redemption to swing wide open.

SHIFT NUMBER ONE……

The first began with letting go of a belief I had drilled into my skull since I was a small boy. It’s one many are programmed with, and have wrongly reinforced through our peers and mentors. This belief was that somewhere buried inside me I had the tools and desire to fix who I was all by myself. Most people call this elusive, superhuman skill ……willpower.

What garbage.

In my playbook, if I want to become a better person, then I must step past my ego. This maneuver is called “Letting go”. Letting go involves zero willpower. It DID require me to take an action once previously thought of as demeaning and painful. I had to open my arms and mind to criticism. Keep in mind there are two very specific types of criticism, one is a form of abuse, and the other is pure Love, and there’s a big difference.  Most will criticize with the intent of cloning themselves; that is they want you to be more like them. Those who do it with Love in their hearts will only be interested in you becoming a better person. Trust me; you’ll know the difference with this definition in mind.

Some equate letting go with giving up; nothing could be further from the truth. Here is the equation. Giving up is the equivalent of steering your boat to the most remote point of the ocean, lowering your sails, and dumping all your provisions overboard. Not a good scenario. Letting go, on the other hand, is akin to deciding you’re lost on the water, pulling into a port, and asking someone else who is obviously skilled and wise to pilot you and your ship to somewhere you’ve never even heard of. This requires a massive step out of one’s own feeling of self-control.

If I’m to embrace my full potential I must allow those to lead me who are already somewhere I want to be. Keep in mind the boat is still mine, I’m ultimately in charge, but for the moment I’ve decided to allow forces that align with faith to guide me. I’m relaxed and am open to outside direction. If this is the case, then what I was attempting before was fighting against the tides. I was closed to suggestion and focused on using only my own energy to guide me. Here lies the difference between being problem aligned rather than solution oriented. It never feels good going forward, it’s a vulnerable and uncertain maneuver, but this choice always reaps massive rewards. So, this action illustrates the first step I took towards serenity.

SHIFT NUMBER TWO……

This second step is a bit more personal so you may not have any common ground with what I’m going to share. In any case, this exercise defiantly helped me, and to this day it still continues to do so. In a nutshell I was told by a professional in the field of mental health that depression is basically rooted in unexpressed anger.

Unexpressed anger?

Yes, unexpressed anger. This does not, however, mean un-generated anger. It means I’d felt hostility, bitterness, angst, and rage but they were never fully expressed in a mentally healthy manner. My mind had reactions to events I’d kept muted or even completely bottled up. In my experience (and all too often in my observations of others, especially men) ALL emotions we hold back on eventually find their way to the surface both unexpectedly and mutated.  The road to mental health is paved with the stones of proper expression and use of emotion. Depression, in my case, was created from the inability to let out and deal with those events I found undesirable.

One may ask, why anger? Couldn’t other emotions poorly expressed and downright withheld be the cause of depression? Yes, but consider this; if Love is not revealed when it’s deeply and desperately felt, would this not eventually cause anger towards oneself? How about sadness, celebration, shame, or satisfaction? The truth is, at least for me, holding back on any emotion no matter the source, will eventually cause the feeling to go from regret to anger.

It helps me tremendously to ask “what am I mad about?” rather than “what’s depressing me?”  In other entries of this blog I write about the quality of our questions equaling the quality of our answers and thus in doing so improve the quality of life. This question is a terrific example.

SHIFT NUMBER THREE……

Nothing transforms my emotional state like movement, just plain old moving around can initiate massive changes in my outlook and attitudes. The good news, nothing has to be all that focused on what I feel needs “fixing”.  Examples may include doing the laundry, going for a walk, cooking, and especially……cleaning. I have a feeling that last one, cleaning, has psychological benefits that can have other, subconscious healing effects. It should be clarified I’m not going to the point of becoming a germophobe. Simple elimination of junk and clutter in the course of reorganizing my environment has always reverberated to other tasks and neglected responsibilities. If this is true, then surely the opposite is just as obvious.  When I’ve been depressed, and have decided to do nothing but sit, sleep, and remain as motionless as possible, it waters the seeds of my hopelessness. To be very clear here I’m NOT talking about meditation, that’s a completely different (spiritual) dynamic designed to center and focus myself. I guess the more I concentrate on anything outside of me, removing my focus from my perceived “problems,” the further I get away from the fear-based voice of my ego, which seems to be the very root of every problem I’ve ever faced.

Honestly this last suggestion has been extremely easy for me to observe in the lives of others. Those who are depressed usually seem to do very little physically. Likewise I’ve never met a depressed person who was one to get out of bed and exercise first thing in the morning. I’m sure this is a generalization, and like I said at the beginning, I’m no doctor. All I want to do here is share what has worked so far in my life. Take it as you will. I truly hope no one ever visits those places I’ve been, but if you have I’m here to tell you I found a way out.

I would like to acknowledge the help of a Facebook friend who helped me iron out and make a few suggestions that help clarify what I’m attempting to share here in this entry. She is a professional in the field of mental health and my gratitude is eternal, thank you Alma!

May the breadcrumbs of my life nourish those who are lost.

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With Love and Compassion,  Daniel Andrew Lockwood

71. WHAT DO WOMEN WANT?

 ellie and carl

Don’t worry……..what men want will be the subject of my next entry.

I bet I know what you’re thinking; the men’s entry is going to be a LOT shorter than this one. We’ll see. In any event, what I’m going to share should be somewhat entertaining. I just turned fifty and there’s no doubt some of this knowledge would have been of use when I was much younger. I’m not trying to come off as some great guru that knows about the ultimate secrets keeping men and women from understanding each other better. Lord knows I need a lot more information before that tag could be used, but what I do know is for the most part fairly accurate and rather useful.

So, men, listen up. You think you know what a woman wants in a man; money, power, and looks, right? Wrong. Here’s where we stumble massively. We’re used to seeing “normal” looking guys with gorgeous ladies and think “What the heck? What is it that attracts these beauty queens to those whom we judge ordinary? Well, they know and practice those traits that are truly magnetic, either instinctively or consciously.  Look to all the male sex symbols of Hollywood, the stratospheric examples of today and those that live on through pop culture and legend. Look for the common behaviors and it becomes easy to see why they are the men who have never, and will never fade away. Here are the five biggest patterns.

OBSERVATION # 1.  What attracts a woman?

  1. There’s no cologne like confidence. This is the single most powerful source of attraction on the planet and I’m not just talking men and women, I mean men with everyone and women with everyone. Men, however screw it up the most and feel cockiness is a synonym for this elusive elixir. Far from it. Cockiness is the best repellent one can project. Here’s the difference in a nutshell. Confidence wants to prove itself through action, cockiness wants to convince others through dialogue. Women (and everyone else) are attracted to doers, not to those who brag.
  2. Nothing grabs attention like a powerful command of language. You think Sean Connery, Johnny Depp, Yul Brenner, Cary Grant, and George Clooney are at the top strictly because of their looks? Hardly. Yes, they’re handsome, but let’s face it, that’s what Hollywood is mostly full of anyway; beautiful people. What makes the standouts standout? Listen to them talk and you’ll hear a distinctive pattern of intelligence and ease. They do not stumble through vocal expression, they rejoice in it taking careful steps to speak with the proper speed, tonality, and emotion. Two of the best are Liam Neeson and Anthony Hopkins, perhaps not the most attractive of men, but ask any woman who has watched them and you might be surprised at what they think.
  3. Posture. I still see men my age walking like they are in middle school two years past puberty. Slouching, mouth hanging open, dragging their feet, and spitting every 18.4 feet. Yuck. Yup, these guys are not the stuff of female fantasy. Have some self-worth to how you move and people will project an image of someone who believes in himself. Walk with purpose but not with arrogance. Think “James Bond” and you’ll have it made.
  4. Kindness/Selflessness. This does not portray weakness and anyone who would argue otherwise is probably quite lonely and unhappy. Putting others first is truly rare and therefore extremely noticeable when it takes place. Those who work toward the interests of everyone else eventually command the most respect and admiration. This cannot be faked and those that try come across as shallow and dishonest. How can a woman not be attracted to a man who has her best interests at heart?
  5. Hygiene. It’s been said one cannot judge a book by its cover; I disagree with this. How we treat ourselves sends a powerful message to those we come in contact with; and cleanliness is the best first message we can offer to those we wish to attract. Whether you like it or not it’s difficult to sell to self-respect and reliability when it’s wrapped in neglect. Nothing fancy needed here.  Clean fingernails, combed hair, brushed teeth, fresh clothing, etc. Keep in mind that hygiene extends to our environment as well. Being clean and somewhat organized can be quite seductive.

So, nothing above has to do with looks, money, or power. Looks, money, and power only become desirable when they are preceded by the proper attitudes and habits. They are the enhancements of structure; and those structures built with the greatest of care automatically attract quality upgrades.

OBSERVATION #2. The power of surprise.

For the men that don’t get this one, here is where the seed of anything romantic lies. All women love surprises, but not all surprises are appropriate. No unannounced parties where she hasn’t gotten ready to look her best are allowed. Driving to the jewelry store to pick up something already purchased when she thinks you are going to lunch is allowed. Surprises must be kind, soft, helpful, and loving in nature. Packages in the mail with her name on them, cleaning the house when she is away, a handwritten letter, flowers delivered to her work; these are the gestures that prove to the one you love that she is on your mind.  Even when she might suspect the event, she still wants the surprise, and here’s why. When she says “You don’t need to get anything for my birthday” she is placing more value on your ability to understand and anticipate what she desires over her urge to simply request it. Here’s the kicker. When a man says “I don’t want to do anything for my birthday” the woman interprets is as “Ah! I must surprise him!” This is why we seem to have so many truly unwanted events, actions, and gifts. Don’t feel bad guys, they come from the heart.

OBSERVATION #3. The number one thing women want us to give them.

Ah, the age old question, what do women want from men? (This is different from the first observation; what do women want in a man, what do women want from a man?) It is jewelry, security, or sex? Perhaps it’s the ability to open jars, fix the car, or reach something on the top shelf? How superficial can you get? They want the same thing we want from someone we are going to spend the majority of our time with.  Number one, at the top of the list in bold easy to read letters – they want us to be their best friend. And they should be. Anything less is undesirable for both sides. Think about this for a minute. Our best friends we grew up with (I’m most likely talking other guys here) we are probably still friends with, right? Yet did we not have disagreements and sometimes even knockdown drag-out fights with these same people? Of course, but in the end we remained friends. It’s a powerful force, one difficult to break or walk away from. Friendship, real friendship, is the purest form of love because in the end it’s unconditional. Bumps in the road do not keep us from moving forward. Casual acquaintances move on after a time, and that’s fine, but best friends see beyond hardship and disagreements. When we see elderly couples walking in the park, holding hands and smiling, isn’t there a sense that there’s something more than love between them? To me they almost seem like  the same person. This is what women want.

There it is, I wish I knew more but for the moment it will do. Don’t worry, the men’s section is next. It promises to be a lot funnier and I’m sure it will surprise a lot of you.

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With Love and Compassion, Daniel Andrew Lockwood

70. LEADERSHIP

Sexton and Compass Wallp TLG

The amount of success in life depends on how much those around you (including yourself) are willing to take responsibility minus those around you (including yourself) who would rather blame.

Leaders take charge while the rest sit around and point fingers. I’m here to tell you there is nothing wrong with the world “out there;” at least in the United States. Proof of this lies in the rock solid fact that there are still thousands of success stories being born daily. They are the ones who ignore the critics, they are the ones whom everyone wants to be like, and they are the ones that seem to be blessed. All anyone needs to fulfill their dreams is willingness, determination, and humility. Willingness means giving up some things so that others may find room; no more chocolate anyone? Determination means idleness must be transformed into action; off goes the TV, on goes the lawnmower. Humility means asking others for help; off goes your way, on goes their way.

The first time I moved into a role of authority where my job was concerned, I was both excited and scared. I was excited to see if my ideas would work, scared to be the source of failure if they didn’t. My initial duties included scheduling, ordering supplies, organizing priorities, physical labor, and interviewing and hiring people as well as firing them. All went fairly well until I had to fire someone.  I did so with as much dignity and honesty as I could. When they left, angry and rejected, I went into the bathroom and puked my guts out. Freedom [to be a leader] does not guarantee the future holds joyous feelings or endless abundance, but it does guarantee the chance to become less of a slave to the ideas and influence of others; all one has to do is keep a moral focus on the goal while moving into a position of further reliability.

Some think the power to take control of our lives is being influenced by outsiders bent on destroying our ability to express and shape our dreams. Our freedoms are NOT being taken away. Freedom to do what we want is being eroded by those who want things done for them. Don’t believe me? Just listen in on almost any conversation and you’ll hear nothing but complaining about how someone else should be making our lives safer, better, and more comfortable. Most conversations are about what someone else can or should do for us. Personally I am just happy and fine with making mistakes on my own, taking action on my own, taking credit on my own, accepting punishment on my own, and receiving reward on my own. The less people are willing to take charge of their own lives, the more others will.

Now………complaining, for what it’s worth, has a very important place. Without it, nothing would get better. Leaders (those who take action) will complain, listen to complaints, and then generate solutions. Followers (those who are in reaction mode) will complain, listen to complaints, and then make excuses. Any of this sounding familiar? Here’s a prime example of a nationwide “complaint” that gets tossed around without solution. “Religion needs to stay out of government affairs. Any form of worship or reference to God must be absent from all public places that might offend others. Separation of church and state is in the constitution!”

Really?…..I don’t think so.

Here is the first amendment to the constitution. I dare you to read it……in fact I dare you to read all of them. The wording is clear and simple. No “lawyer” talk at all. Wherefore’s and hereto’s are thankfully absent in the interest of a clearer understanding of our basic rights.

Article [I] (Amendment 1 – Freedom of expression and religion)

Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.

Real short, real simple. Here is the solution to the problem. As far as religion goes this is what it means; government shall not interfere with religion. That’s it. IT DOES NOT MEAN THAT RELIGION MAY NOT INFLUENCE GOVERNMENT, OR BE PART OF IT, OR BE EXPRESSED BY IT! The so-called “other way around” is perfectly allowed. Wow! Do people not even know their rights? Now to be honest, I don’t want religion influencing my government too much, I think that’s a bad idea……but that’s my opinion, and my opinion is not part of the constitution, so I’m out of luck in that department.

See? Quick solution to an ongoing complaint, and if you want to share being a leader instead of a follower then express this observation with others so they may take action. I’ve said this before and I mean it more than ever now. It’s like we are living inside a giant Jerry Springer show. Let’s put down, humiliate, belittle, degrade, and judge as many people as possible so WE don’t have to do anything to look good. It’s like standing on a pile of crap and proclaiming we’re king of the turds. Forget what others are doing, it doesn’t matter in the long run anyway. When we are a willing audience to unacceptable behavior, we give it reason to expand. Do something, anything to make the world a better place, even if it’s just for yourself. Be a leader, be a prime example of what can happen. I do, and that’s not a self-centered statement. It’s an expression of how much I love myself, and like I’ve said before, I can’t give away what I don’t own. I LOVE you. Paying forward this gift increases the value of what you keep. And THAT really is true leadership.

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With Love and Compassion, Daniel Andrew Lockwood

66. SEEKING DREAMS

sunrise-over-st.-mary-lake-glacier-national-park-montana_1024x768_25386 (1)

 

 

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With Love and Compassion, Daniel Andrew Lockwood

63. FIRE AND WATER

fire and water

For a long time now my main mission in life has been to prove that it’s easy, fun, and magical. The few “guidelines” we need to follow that make this existence worth every moment is almost laughable. This doesn’t mean there won’t be times of frustration and grief. All of us have the occasional fire that needs extinguished. We encounter unexpected emergencies, situations, and setbacks that can be easily labeled as unwanted, annoying, and painful. Me too. Happens all the time. I wish it didn’t, but there is a part of the equation I always have control over, and that’s how I choose to react.

Water puts out fire. If you disagree with this, you can stop reading now, it won’t do any good to go further. When the fires of life rear up and block our progress, the watery equivalent is necessary to clear the path so we may resume our journey. I’m sure this makes sense. More fire will obviously increase and lengthen the conflict, yet this is the preferred method of dealing with problems as most encounter them. Don’t believe me? Let’s see if any of these illustrations sound familiar.

  • A man hears a friend has died. He decides to get drunk.
  • A person is suspected of stealing at the office. Angered, they go home and spend the night thinking of ways to get back at their accuser.
  • A supervisor at work is tired of never being listened to. As a result he has a meeting and demands even louder that his orders must be remembered and followed.
  • A group that opposes war goes on a march to voice opinions against the enemy.
  • A preacher spends his life pointing out what is wrong with the world and why people will suffer if they do not change.
  • A woman complains they are unloved and never going to find the right person
  • A person spends most of their time blaming. They wait for others  to realize their mistakes.

These are no doubt stereotypical situations, but the futility of their approach is obvious. All are cases of fighting fire with fire. Let’s turn around the same ideas and see how they look if symbolic water is used to confront these circumstances.

  • A man hears a friend has died. He goes home and starts writing about him. It becomes the eulogy to his funeral.
  • A person is accused of stealing at the office. Intrigued, they wonder if they can help find the real culprit.  They spend the night formulating a strategy to help in the investigation.
  • A supervisor at work is tired of never being listened to. He realizes that HE cannot listen while he is talking. He calls a meeting and asks of his employees what they want of him.
  • A group that supports peace goes on a march and voices opinions why their way of life is productive and desirable.
  • A preacher spends his life pointing out what is right and good in the world and why people will be happier if they align with these examples.
  • An unloved woman becomes full of praise and love for others so she will attract someone who is likewise.
  • A person spends most of their time taking responsibility. They realize they hold the power to change their life.

Why fight against what we don’t want when cheering for what we do want will have a more creative outcome? Remember, focusing on the eradication of what we wish to eliminate does nothing to build a vision of what will replace it. Those people who move forward with determination and resolve are also the ones who continue to ignore their critics. They know it’s a waste of time to defend against attitudes and situations that are beyond their control; here lies the need for the serenity prayer. Do not, however, misinterpret this action as opening up yourself to attack. The easiest way to define the best objective is to use action to attract what is desired, and reserve reaction to dissuade what threatens growth. It really comes down to not using anything negative as a tool of progress. Don’t fight for what you want, work for it.  Don’t label your situation as problematic, label it as opportunistic. Don’t dread the unknown, be excited by it. There are no mistakes, just learning experiences, and these examples aren’t clichéd, they are tried-and-true.

When I let the fires “out there” ignite my own, it’s usually fueled by an overabundance of impatience and selfishness. “My way and fast” usually leads to some sort of catastrophe. At the very least it’s rude and thoughtless. The first set of situations listed above are self-centered, while the second set is based in humility, and that’s really all it’s about. How may I serve? How can  I contribute to the dreams of others? Let me offer my assistance. Let me help. It’s kind of weird, but I have more interest and gain more satisfaction in helping others to achieve their dreams rather than work exclusively on my own. Imagine if everyone did this? What a paradise would come to existence. I am water. Show me the fires of destruction and I will rain upon them.

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With Love and Compassion, Daniel Andrew Lockwood

60. THE GREATEST GIFTS

Gifts

Who doesn’t love the thought of a present? Who doesn’t remember the weeks leading up to our birthdays, Christmases, and of course other occasions when we, as children, looked for hours at those seductive and brightly wrapped packages that set our minds into fantasy land? I remember dreaming of books and art supplies, and indeed I got those things, but I don’t recall ever making a list or even pushing my desires on my relatives and parents. What I DO remember about those times was the magic of how the acts of giving and receiving could stir the imagination and bring out the best in everyone. As I got older, and we moved away from the ceremonies of the seasons, I lost some connection to the humanity and emotion that represented the true meaning of gratitude. I began to miss the presents themselves rather than the celebrations that surrounded their arrival. I began to equate the absence of things with a certain lack, and this shift of misunderstanding how the cosmos always offers more than we can take, and asks less than we can offer, almost destroyed me.

All the “stuff” I longed for as a child and teenager I eventually went after in a bigger way as an adult, and every bit of it has been crap. Most items have been broken, left behind, and forgotten. Don’t get me wrong, I still enjoy my toys and conveniences, but as far as true abundance goes, they represent nothing. Their value is superficial and fleeting. What I search for now are those elusive inner qualities that are priceless. I want those attitudes and beliefs that kings and sultans could never hope to buy. I seek what must be earned; and so far the hunt for treasure has been extremely rewarding.

One of the first gifts I’ve made use of, and continue to exercise, is ANTICIPATION. This might sound funny, but quite often the journey leading up to the event (whatever it is I’ve planned and worked for) can be very enjoyable and fulfilling. Having goals and working towards a vision is what keeps my world from becoming dull and repetitive. I swear I have just as much fun planning our vacations as I do taking them. Whenever I draw or paint it’s often the process I seek more than the product. This blog is the perfect example of my conviction. I would never continue with it if the ONLY goal was the eventual publication of my book. I actually like the trip; it’s fun, productive, and surprising. I’ve also gained an inner satisfaction that’s  intangible. I can’t point to it, put it on the shelf, or show it off. It exists, it’s real, and it’s completely immaterial.

The second gift I’ve nurtured is APPRECIATION; and you might be surprised what I’ve come to appreciate. I of course express this emotion to those people, things, and events that have raised my quality of living, but I also express this for those people, things, and events that have threatened my sanity, health, and even existence. The most valuable thing I own is my recovery. It’s been the most horrific road I’ve ever walked, but in doing so I’ve gained the power of perspective. I was lost in an ocean of misery with no thought of rescue, yet here I sit in spite of the odds. I’ve stated this before and I repeat it now, “I would not give up one moment of suffering for the promise of eternal bliss.” Why? Because I would rather know what can be overcome, than foresee what I might face. I don’t invite uncomfortable or unwanted situations just so I can gain strength and insight, but I don’t avoid them either. I feel that appreciation exercised properly equals both patience and wisdom; two things that only practice can gain.

The third gift is the joy of GIVING. Here I speak mostly of actions; little of items. When I do it expecting some sort of repayment or recognition, I lose the benefit of my intent, and almost always I end up disappointed; and yes, I still do this on a regular basis. However, when my mind is in line with the correct philosophy, I invite surprising and magnified fortunes. I give credit where credit is due. I often give beyond what is expected of me. I give prayer to everyone. I give praise to my opponents and acknowledgement when they impress me.  I give the benefit of doubt to those who are ridiculed and judged, especially if they are unable to defend themselves. I give to myself as well; permission to change my mind, occasionally a nap, sometimes solitude, and always dreams, laughter, comfort, and love.

The fourth gift is ACCEPTANCE. My definition of acceptance is simple. Everything is always exactly as is should be. Another way to look at it is, “nothing happens that isn’t supposed to.” IF something were to happen that shouldn’t, we would have to accept that there’s more than one point of origin to the cosmos. This is of course a completely illogical statement.  When I actively believe this, my inclination to judge is eliminated. I still need a LOT of practice with this one. All too often I try to impose how I think the world should be when God (or the universe as a whole, if you prefer a more scientific picture) is doing just fine without my input. Do I still want to change the world? You better believe it, because even though pain and suffering exists as God allows it to, so does God allow my desire and efforts to end it as well. There’s a dichotomy for you.

The fifth gift is CREATIVENESS. I have been blessed with an active mind and active hands. This means the tools necessary to take whatever I can imagine and make it into reality is no further away than planning and execution. I have a list of the projects and adventures I will continue to move forward on. It grows daily and my future promises to be greater and more expressive than where I’ve been and what I’ve done. Creativeness to me, is the power of God; it is the power of manifestation. God thinks a thing and then it happens, and so do we. The tendency of life is the reconstruction of the world around us to reflect how we feel and think. The more I do it, the more I find my purpose. All visionaries have been nothing more than dreamers who took action, and everyone who has ever moved this planet has followed the same path.

The last gift I’ll talk about is FORGIVENESS. Here is the seed of love. With proper tending it’s growth will produce complete peace and harmony in life, for surely resentment will cause nothing but distress and chaos. There was a time when I refused to forgive. I held grudges towards others and shame for myself, and suffered because of my refusal to let go of the past. Please read this entry on my blog-  https://danielandrewlockwood.com/2014/03/07/44-change-your-life-lose-your-luggage/ It explains in further detail what can and must be done to eliminate the self-constructed shackles of life.

Here again are my six gifts in summary-

  1. Anticipate……….tomorrow
  2. Appreciate………the moment and the past
  3. Give………………without want
  4. Accept…………..all is perfect
  5. Create…………..anything you want
  6. Forgive…………..and Love

I welcome you to share what gifts you have discovered in your life. Perhaps together we can find new ways to increase our abundance.

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With Love and Compassion, Daniel Andrew Lockwood

 

 

 

 

 

52. BUILDING CONFIDENCE

henry-david-thoreau-dreams-quotes-if-one-advances-confidently-in-the

There was a time, not so long ago, when believing in myself was nothing more than knowing I could drink a fifth of vodka and then eat a whole extra-large pizza in one sitting. My skills were as dull as a marshmallow and my drive was limited to wherever the closest liquor store was.  I placed no value on my existence, nor did anyone else. It was as if I were incarcerated, doomed to watch the world pass me by through the bars of my little window. To be honest, I was jealous of those who seemed to flow through their days with focus, determination, and purpose. Their attitude was one of self-respect, fortitude, and dedication;  while mine was one of lack, self-destruction, and selfishness. I wanted more than anything to possess what seemed unreachable. Through practice, patience, and effort I was able to nail down the following definition of success and fulfillment.

I believe above all other (material) pursuits, beyond money, power, and fame there sits at the top of the mountain, confidence.  Once possessed nothing else is needed. This elusive quality is the elixir of manifestation. It moves in grace, planning its strategy while embracing the moment, knowing what it wants without ignoring the audience. It does not seek to improve its image by boasting or advertising.  It is quiet, calm, and aware. It does not complain, nor does it ridicule. It gives credit and takes little. When this behavior is attempted by those who don’t understand how it must be carefully developed, it comes across as cockiness, and this of course, is the way of oblivion.

Here is the equation- Cockiness wants admiration for its “abilities” without being asked to provide actions or a history to back them up. Its modus operandi is recognition and approval. It prefers the sales pitch over the product. Confidence, on the other hand,  wants to take action, thereby allowing it a chance to build a list of achievements. It needs no recognition from others and cares not for trophies. It prefers the product over the sales pitch.  Cockiness lives in a state of reactiveness, it plays the antagonist. Confidence is about moving through life proactively and it plays the ally. Cockiness is quick to point out what needs fixed and is easily insulted, which means it’s reactions are mostly of a mistrusting, defensive nature. Confidence is quick to complement and willing to help, which means it’s actions are mostly trusting and cooperative.

How many seek the self-assured life  but  settle  for its adversary?  I certainly have on many occasions, especially when I was a young man. It’s easy to understand the temptation of trying to impress others without having to provide evidence. Shortcuts have an appeal, but rarely do they yield reward. The “reward” in this case is the journey, nothing else. It’s like trying to convince someone you’re a bodybuilder without having the muscles to prove it. It sounds funny, but this type behavior is overwhelmingly common.

All I can share is what I know so far. Most of what I’ve picked up over the years comes from mimicking the patterns of those who already possess what I want. Here is a list of twelve bullet points that might help. It’s not professional, it’s just my opinion.

  • Don’t ask others to believe in you; believe in yourself.
  • Make a list of values and ethics that will force you expect more from yourself than others will ever expect from you.
  • Moving or thinking somewhat slower allows for more calculated actions and responses. It will appear to observers that there’s a dedicated mind  behind the process; which there is.
  • Be quick to admit fault. This removes the temptation to blame.
  • Be quick to admit defeat. This creates partners instead of rivals.
  • Be quick to offer praise, be hesitant to express dissatisfaction.
  • Shine a light on the past to sell the future. Nothing beats a track record.
  • Avoid anger, frustration, and resentment. Remember, “He who walks away from confrontation with the lowest blood pressure, wins.”
  • The only punishment allowed for “failure” is to keep going with a new strategy. Repeating old tactics isn’t permitted.
  • DO NOT hesitate to ask for both help and criticism from those who are better than you.
  • Say “Yes” and “No” a lot without embellishment. I.E.- Do you want to eat out tonight? No. Would you be willing to help me next Thursday? Yes.
  • Strive to become better than you were yesterday. The only person you are allowed to compete with is who you were.

Am I always confidant? No. I am, however, much more than practiced I used to be, and I expect this skill will increase with continued awareness. Not a day goes by where I don’t  “break” at least some of these rules and end up paying instantly for my ignorance. At least I am also confident that by action I’m quite capable of demonstrating what NOT to do.

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With Love and Compassion, Daniel Andrew Lockwood

47. NO LIMITS

reaching for the stars

“If we hold ourselves back by believing we have limitations, then we are destined to be ruled by those who believe they do not.”

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With Love and Compassion, Daniel Andrew Lockwood

45. CHANGE YOUR LIFE – LOSE YOUR LUGGAGE

“Lost Luggage”, a new Shirt.Woot t-shirt design by Matt Leyen.

“You have NO idea what I’ve been through.” I’ve heard this frequently from those who have walked a road of suffering and yes, it’s true, I don’t know; honestly it doesn’t matter. I’m not being harsh or cold, but we cannot move forward without letting go of the past, and I’d bet my life on it. If you really do want help, or know someone who does, the best thing is stop worrying about where you came from and start caring about where you are going. Don’t think that what once happened is doomed to repetition. Don’t talk about how others have let you down, or how you’ve let yourself down, and  don’t relive it, just leave it behind. No more sentences are allowed that begin with “it’s too bad…….” or “what if….” This is the ONLY way to progress. Excuses are the enemy. They are bred exclusively from what cannot be changed or affected. EVERYONE who has stepped from chaos into harmony has done this.

I’ve been taught that most people go through life with two dominating mindsets. They’re consumed by worrying about the future or regretting what has happened. Neither of these exercises are productive, and I ought to know, I was a master of the game. When I was focused on what I couldn’t modify or influence I had little to no time to savor the moment let alone act upon it. I spent most of my waking hours looking for ways to blame. Remember this – choosing to live a life of re-action over a life of pro-action is self-imposed slavery. I’m not talking about charging through the days aggressively, I’m talking about improving the functions of being awake, aware, and alert.

It is okay, however, to reminisce and plan. Neither of these attitudes are based in remorse or victimization. I choose to not live in days gone by, but that does not equal forgetting about what is inevitably going to harm me; old patterns and habits. I also choose not fantasize or dwell upon the “worst case scenario” but that doesn’t keep me from preparing for the possibility of bad things.

Self-respect (NOT arrogance) is the goal of all who are motivated to change their lives and their futures. Self-pity is the goal of those who want to justify blaming everybody else’s lives and their past. All the garbage we carry with us as our “business card” is  nothing more than one giant reason not to improve. All that luggage we drag through life is only needed for trips into the past. If there is nothing in our baggage we would wish on anyone else, then why keep it for ourselves?

These three similarly themed “mantras” will help keep a new life in focus.

          1. Change for the better equals abandoning our history.

          2. Where I was doesn’t matter, where I am, does.

          3. Blame is the battle-cry of self-destructiveness.

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With Love and Compassion, Daniel Andrew Lockwood