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When failure is our best gift

All endings are also beginnings. We just don’t know it at the time.

– Mitch Albom, The Five People You Meet In Heaven

I remember the morning I went to Kirimara High School (Kenya) to check for the results of  my Kenya Advanced Certificate of Education (KACE). I was excited as I took a public bus to the school, I was very sure that I had passed the exam. I had worked very hard and was very hopeful that I was joining University of Nairobi to undertake a Bachelor of Economics. As the first born of 9 siblings and 6 half sisters and brothers there was always lots at stake, and my  mother was always clear – work hard and succeed. Those two elements were always interrelated. You work hard, give it your 100%, and you will succeed. All my life, that formula worked. I studied, got good grades, did well on the Kenya Certificate of Education, got into a Provincial High School.  I did everything “right” anytime  I wanted something and I assumed that I will always get what I wanted with ease. 

I still remember the months of hysteria leading up to the  Kenya Advanced Certificate of Education (KACE). Like all of my classmates, I did all the homework assignments, made flash cards, and studied. The thought that I can spend two years of my life and fall short by failing the Kenya Advanced Certificate of Education (KACE) never occurred to me. My stomach sank as I read the result. The message sank in – you failed. You are a failure. How would I explain to my mother that her oldest son is a failure? I would be rendering meaningless everything she fought for, everything she sacrificed in a single stroke – by failing the Kenya Advanced Certificate of Education (KACE).

So, that was my life. I went from being a bright star student to a failure. It took away my da bragging right to be able to announce to her friends that her son was going to university. I hid from people for a month and when I showed up people from my village gossiped about me, those who came to visit our home were sarcastic. I went into a deep depression.I thought that my was done, I thought of running away to Nairobi because I had so much shame. Many of my friends who never attended school were very happy that I was finally joining them, to be a farmer. I felt that I had failed and I had no future. Then I got a job interview with a Swahili Christian Magazine as an Associate Editor. They gave the job on the spot. This was the miracle I had been waiting for, I felt blessed and my vison was renewed. I could dream again. I accepted the job, and the job paved my paths to go to Daystar University, and later I found a way to Canada for Graduate studies.

While it looked like failure had a grip in me, God had better plans for me. I am very thankful that faluire had final say in my life. I want to tell others that it’s never an option to give up especially when it’s about reaching your dreams. If you want to become an engineer, go for it. There’s a saying, “Some people succeed because they are destined, but most because they are determined.”

Our failures can become some of our best teachers if we pay attention to and learn from them. They can give us the courage to confront our own and others’ imperfections and to accept failure as inevitable in today’s complex work organizations. Most successful people acknowledge they’ve learned more from their failures than their successes. J.K. Rowling, author of the Harry Potter book series, said in a Harvard commencement address, “It is impossible to live without failing at something, unless you live so cautiously that you might as well not have lived at all.” Ms. Rowling knows about failure: She was a single, unemployed mother who received 12 rejections before a publisher accepted her first Harry Potter book.

Some people fear failure so much that they never put themselves in situations in which they could fail. But this sets a low ceiling on their prospects for professional success. Fear of failure is one of the strongest forces keeping people below their potential. In the bestseller The 4-Hour Workweek: Escape 9-5, Live Anywhere, and Join the New Rich, author Timothy Ferriss advises readers to ask themselves what would happen if they chased their dreams and fell flat on their faces. He suggests the recovery time would be far shorter than we think.Wise professionals recognize that if you don’t take risks, you lose out on opportunities. 

Steve Jobs is a particularly strong example of using grit to thrive despite professional failure. He and his business partner started Apple in a garage when Jobs was only 20 years old. By the time Jobs was 30 years old, Apple had grown into a multi-billion-dollar company–and Jobs found himself kicked to the curb when his creative vision diverged from the rest of the board. 

In his 2005 Stanford Commencement Address, he recalled how adrift he felt:

“What had been the focus of my entire adult life was gone, and it was devastating…I was a very public failure, and I even thought about running away from the valley. But something slowly began to dawn on me–I still loved what I did.”

How can we rethink failure?

The longer I live, the more I realize the impact failure has on my life. I have to believe that failure in itself does not define me, but it has molded me into the person I am today. Failure to me is the greatest lesson of all and is formed from every mistake, loss, and defeat. Hardships and struggles are when growth happens the most. We all make mistakes, but it’s how we come back from these mistakes that truly matters. Each time we are faced with a problem, we have a decision; we can stay stuck on it, be negative, and not allow ourselves to heal, or we can pick ourselves up, dust ourselves off, and rebuild from the ground up with a positive attitude.

Here below are some lessons that I find helpful to share with others regarding how to approach failure, these lessons are just guidelines on how to appreciate failure and make the best of it.

# 1.Failure deprives away the inessentials

Failure, as much as it hurts, is an important part of life. In fact, failure is necessary.In her commencement speech, Rowling said, “[When I failed] I stopped pretending to myself that I was anything other than what I was, and began to direct all my energy into finishing the only work that mattered to me. Had I really succeeded at anything else, I might never have found the determination to succeed in the one arena I believed I truly belonged. And so rock bottom became the solid foundation on which I rebuilt my life.” 

Failure for me has been my greatest teacher; it’s nature’s chisel that chips away at all the excess, stripping down egos as it molds and shapes us through divine intentions. Without failure, we’d be less capable of compassion, empathy, kindness, and great achievement; we would be less likely to reach for the moon and the stars.

# 2. Resilience in the face of failure

Resilience is our ability to cope with unexpected circumstances, and can be thought of as emotional awareness. If we are resilient, we are then able to cope better with life’s ups and downs. Building resilience is something that we can all aim to be better at and the benefits for us will be profound and long-lasting.

Unfortunately, we can’t build resilience on success alone. It takes failure for us to build our inner strength and work out how to deal with failure. A life of unbroken success doesn’t test us; if we are untested, then we are unprepared for what might come. Failing in life helps to build resilience. The more we fail, the more resilient we become. In order to achieve great success, we must know resilience. Because, if we think that we’re going to succeed on the first try, or even the first few tries, then we’re sure to set ourselves up for a far more painful failure.

Failure makes success possible, but not because of the eventual possibility for lucrative exits. Rather, failure opens the dialogue to show that we don’t have to be perfect; in fact, we can’t be. We need to speak honestly and openly — to let ourselves be known, so that failure and mistakes are put in their proper context.

# 3. Failure builds you up.

Failure can tear you down. It can make you feel horrible about yourself and about life. It can also build you up in ways you never thought possible if you let it.

Failure allows you the opportunity to acknowledge and take responsibility for your mistakes. Take responsibility for the part you played in your failure. Stare your monetary losses in the face without cringing. Acknowledge what happened and why you failed.

Failure makes us more emphathetic. Those who try and fail understand something about human nature that others who do not share that experience seem to lack. It can teach us to be empathetic toward other people who have not been successful.

#4. Failure drives us to change

Without failure, where would we be today? The exceptions are those failures that become steppingstones to later success. Such is the case with Thomas Edison, whose most memorable invention was the light bulb, which purportedly took him 1,000 tries before he developed a successful prototype. “How did it feel to fail 1,000 times?” a reporter asked. “I didn’t fail 1,000 times,” Edison responded. “The light bulb was an invention with 1,000 steps.”

Unlike Edison, many of us avoid the prospect of failure. In fact, we’re so focused on not failing that we don’t aim for success, settling instead for a life of mediocrity. When we do make missteps, we gloss over them, selectively editing out the miscalculations or mistakes in our life’s résumé. “Failure is not an option,” NASA flight controller Jerry C. Bostick reportedly stated during the mission to bring the damaged Apollo 13 back to Earth, and that phrase has been etched into the collective memory ever since. To many in our success-driven society, failure isn’t just considered a non-option—it’s deemed a deficiency, says Kathryn Schulz, author of Being Wrong: Adventures in the Margin of Error. “Of all the things we are wrong about, this idea of error might well top the list,” Schulz says. “It is our meta-mistake: We are wrong about what it means to be wrong. Far from being a sign of intellectual inferiority, the capacity to err is crucial to human cognition.”

Winston Churchill once stated, “Success is based on going from failure to failure without losing eagerness.” Failure is the most wonderful teacher if we are willing to learn from it. Success does not come easy. Everyone must face one hurdle after another. It’s the only way to reach success. The reason being is that success must be maintained. If you think that once you have the success you crave and it’s time to relax, you are sadly mistaken.

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The journey you are going through is worth it, don’t give up yet.

“You are diabetic,” my doctor told me, reaching over to show me the lab results for the blood work done a few weeks before. I looked at him.

“We have tried exercise and dieting but it didn’t work,” he looked at me again, then sat to his chair. I waited and waited for the longest three minutes, “what does this mean?”  I could not wait any longer.

“It means we will put you on meds,” the verdict was strong and the reality sounded very harsh. I looked at him, “can we try exercise again?”

“My friend, your blood sugar levels are 17 , that means if we don’t anything right now it is just of time before you start to lose use of essential organs,” he said without hesitation. I was worried and I knew if I didn’t follow his advise I would have worse medical needs. I had seen my mum go to a diabetic induced coma, I had seen her develop diabetic ulcers, I had seen others in the health care system lose their limbs, I feared I was next.

“I tell you what, “ the doctor continued to talk, “we will try one more time.”  He ordered a Glucometer and asked that I check my blood sugars every for 3 weeks. That evening I went home discouraged. I put the Glucometer  to a corner, I felt labeled as diabetic, sick and judged for death. I hated the Glucometer and looking at it reminded me that my journey to die is coming closer.

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Then I read a post from a fcb friend who was encouraging others to join them on exercise challenge. The friend challenged others to set goal to lose at least 100 calories per day. I reluctantly agreed to join. I had tried to exercise before but it did not work, I feared agreeing to it would mean agreeing to fail. But because I had a verdict to either choose to be labeled as diabetic or do something about, I chose to do something.

I started with 100 calories on treadmill, then increased it to 200 calories. I am now at 300 calories. I have also started to be careful with what I eat. I have learned that I was not born to eat, I have to eat in moderation. I have lost 30 pounds in 3 weeks. I have come to enjoy exercising, it is no longer a drag but something for joy. I feel more energetic after exercise.

I can’t wait to see my doctor to thank him for giving me a second chance and I am always thankful to the fcb friend who has been a great motivator for me to keep on going. You are probably at a time in your life where you feel disappointments and fear of failure overwhelmingly coming towards you. I am sure you probably feel like giving up or running away, that is the easiest way for any hard situation. I felt like that too when the doctor told me I was diabetic, that night I could not sleep, I just imagined losing my limbs and I felt depressed. I also felt like I had lost the battle and I wanted to wait for whatever was going to happen to just happen.

Right now my story has changed for better and I cannot wait to see it evolve to even be a great and transforming story, I am more hopeful. This is my message for you too, whatever your situation it might be your story is not done yet. You still hold your pen to rewrite your story, you have the power to change the conversation.

And if there’s nothing left for you to hold on. Hold on to this, the journey you are going through is tough one, nothing to compare with and no one can completely understand your situation except you. It’s a battlefield. One you may or may not have signed up for. But the journey you are going through is worth it, don’t give up yet. Because somewhere, someday, you will use this journey to touch the life of someone. You may not know it, but God does. You may not be appreciated but you may unknowingly save a life.

Life comes around in a full circle. With every breaking, comes a new chance for healing and with every pain comes hope, where you feel defeated help is on the way and where you feel betrayed there’s that one person set up for you to give you a hand. And with every story, comes a testimony. So hold on, because the reason why life chose you was because it knew that you are going to be strong enough to fight the battle, do not let it go yet….you were born for great things.

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Death doesn’t have the final word

When I am afraid, I put my trust in you. In God, whose word I praise— in God I trust and am not afraid. What can mere mortals do to me? — Psalm 56:3-4 (NIV)

As I walk in my journey of life, I get to ask myself the question whether I am prepared to die and how well I want to face my death. I do not fear dying but I   if I had a   choice for when to die I would choose to have it wait until I over 70. I have a reason for my case: I am the first born from a  large African family and I would like to help them with some of their needs, and I believe that I would like to go back to Kenya to continue with the work of an orphanage that I founded in 1994. I pray daily that God would give me many more years and that He would protect my family from any danger.

Over the years, I have seen death touch many people close to me. At the age of 5, I lost my grandfather, it hurt me to know that I   had to grow up without a grandpa. Then in 1988 I lost my baby sister.  In  1994,  I lost a   very close friend, who had been very dear to  me. Her death left me numb and angry, I  still feel  that I did not get enough time to grief her illness.  In the same year another woman from my village, who had mental illness and I had been her caregiver suddenly died.

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With all these losses, I have learn that though it is my desire to live longer I know that the reality of life is that death is an inevitable part of life and it is as real as life itself, it can occur any time without a warning. With these in mind I prepare myself everyday to meet it. I do not long for it   to come but I feel at peace with it when it comes. My beliefs on how to face death are attributed to my Christian and African traditions. As an African, death is a separation and not annihilation; the dead person is suddenly cut off from the human society and yet the corporate group clings to him. This is shown through the elaborate funeral rites, as well as other methods of keeping in contact with the departed”. The relatives of the dead believe that even though the soul of their dead relative has gone up to the sky or near to God, it remains also near to them and can be approached through prayers, libations, and offerings. And as a Christian death is a beautiful and eternal union with God, it is my final home in Heaven where time is no more. This perspective help me to live every day as though it is the last day of   my life, and to see death as an only separation of the soul and the body, from each other but not a total loss of life.

Perhaps, the most difficulty thing for a young person of my age to do is to write a will. This in it explains that I have not done one yet. If I had wealth and if I   knew that I am dying I   would write one. Writing a will is very important because many of the things that need to be done have already been handled at a much less stressful time. Having a living allows my family to make decisions based upon my wishes. Having an up-to-date will ensures that my possessions will be given to those whom I wish. If I have already discussed with my loved ones–prior to becoming ill–where I wish to be buried, then the difficult decision is made with thought and reflection and before I am confronted with its reality. I   my accounts and Life Insurance policy joined with my wife so that if death took either of us there would be no extra stress trying to sort out who would own the estate. I believe it is wise to make sure the papers–life insurance, savings accounts, etc.–are in order and easily located, which will make it much easier for those whose responsibility it is to take care of these matters.

If my   death was   questionable like in the case where a doctor misdiagnosed   I would   like to have an autopsy but if it were a natural death I would   choose not to. In the case of how I want my body to be disposed I would like to be buried in my village in Kenya. The issue of cremation is very foreign for Africans, we believe in seeing the body before burial. The traditional African burial ceremony is an important preparation for the body’s journey after death. We believe that burying a body   give the spirit of   the deceased   rest and peace. Destroying the body could destroy the human spirit. We bury our dead several feet underground and that is where they should remain. It is taboo for an African to be cremated. We believe in physical and spiritual lives and, if we cremate, resurrection of the dead will be affected. Donating organs is another controversial issue among the Africans. We do not donate organs because we be buried our people whole because   we believe that in resurrection they will have their bodies back. Knowing the difficulty to get organ donors I would be willing to donate all internal organs

Funerals in Kenya are seen as a celebration of person’s life. It is my wish would be to be buried in Kenya, it is honored, and I would like to request my community in Kenya to provide traditional and Christian music and dance on my funeral. Unlike the somber atmosphere I experienced at funerals here in the Canada, the funerals in Kenya are colorful, celebration occasions. It is not at all unusual for there to be as many as three groups performing simultaneously at an at a funeral. In case my family cannot transport my body I would like to request my African community in Winnipeg to celebrate my life with music and dance.

If buried in Kenya, my village elders would for the wake keeping and would decide the proper time and place for the various events of a funeral. Members of my family and other members of the community may chose to commission performances on the days leading up to the night of the wake keeping and day of burial. People may also choose to commission a performance as long as a year or two after the actual day of burial. The reason for the tradition is that someone who may not have been able to attend the funeral will want to honor the person somehow when they are able to travel home. I would like stories about to be told by the elders at funerals and in this way history will be passed on by word of mouth. I   would like a big feast in my funeral as my tradition   belief in celebration of life.

I feel so much gratitude for they have given me so many gifts of loving wisdom and intimate moments of deep understanding. They have especially given me comfort and ease about my own life’s sojourn. I have had the honor to sit with in their last days and moments.  Attending to, with individuals who are living with a terminal illness, supporting and consoling their families, are truly a privilege and a blessing for all who are involved in the gentle care of the living/dying experience. As many more individuals choose to die at home in the comfort of their own familiar surroundings, we as family, friends and caregivers have a special opportunity to share intimate moments with our loved one, opening our hearts to our sacred journey. It is a powerful experience to witness a dying person drop all the surface “stuff” and get to the heart of each moment. Meeting another, deep in our hearts and ourselves is the most powerful journey we can take together. We are called to give our gifts, letting the healing in, letting this be our human quest.

Something else that encourages me in my life is the good news of the Gospel which talks about resurrection story — the story of new life breaking through the midst of deep despair — is never finished. The ending is left unwritten because we must do our part. In this story, I am encouraged that we cannot let violence in this world and fear, and even death to silence us! Each spring, as seeds push from the ground, as new life comes from what was dead, we hear the challenging story again and must decide if we will let the violence, death and fear silence us and therefore bury us, or if we will rise again to raise our voices and our actions. Resurrection, not violence, it is not death and of course it is not fear, must have the last word.

Things to Remember When Fear is Holding You Back

DpaDV2rXcAAVqcPThere are three main fears that can hold you back ~ fear of failure, self doubt and fear of the future. These fears will seem like real insurmountable obstacles. Most of the time they are not. Rise above and you will see them for what they are. Choose courage (Joshua 1:9).

 

 

You might experience some or all of these symptoms if you have a fear of failure:

  • A reluctance to try new things or get involved in challenging projects.
  • Self-sabotage– for example, procrastination, excessive anxiety, or a failure to follow through with goals.
  • Low self-esteem or self-confidence – commonly using negative statements such as “I’ll never be good enough to get that promotion,” or “I’m not smart enough to get on that team.”
  • Perfectionism- A willingness to try only those things that you know you’ll finish perfectly and successfully.

How To Overcome A Fear Of Failure 

Different things will work for different people, so try and find what works best for you.

1. Reframe Failure

One of the best things you can do is to try and reframe your way of thinking about failure. Instead of seeing failure as a negative thing, try to look at it as a positive.

Failure can actually be a learning experience for you!

Try to remember that most people don’t succeed straight away, there will be mistakes and failures along the way.

These experiences can help you to learn and improve until you do succeed.

Being able to change your view on failure could really help you to not be so scared of experiencing it and instead, helping you to find the positive and learn from your mistakes.

2. Focus on the positive.

Bring an attitude of positivity to how you view yourself and the world around you.Focus on the things in life that are good. Don’t fill your head with junk. Stay away from the constant stream of negativity that’s so prevalent in this world. How you view life seeps into your head and creates fears and what if’s. You have control of what you take in and how you react. Look, if you spend all your time focused on your troubles or your weaknesses, you’re never going to become great. Keeping your eye on what’s wrong with your life, yourself, your spouse or your business is a good way to end up broke and alone. You’ve got to focus on what’s right with yourself and the world.

3. Ask Yourself Questions

Asking yourself questions can be a great way to become more aware of how you are feeling and why you feel that way. If you make a mistake, and you start to doubt yourself, take a minute to stop and ask yourself some questions.

These could be questions such as:

  • ‘What can I learn from this mistake?’
  • ‘What is the positive in this situation’
  • ‘How am I feeling, and if it’s negative, how can I change it?’

This will make you dive deeper into how you are feeling, and work on improving things you need to improve on.

This can really help you when you are facing failures as you are changing your negative mindset and hopefully learning more about yourself too.

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4. Focus on the future.

We all make mistakes. I know I do. My life is full of them. But the difference between someone who is dragged down by their mistakes and someone who overcomes them is their ability to focus on the future. Let go of what happened yesterday or last year or 10 years ago. Forgive that person who wronged you so you can be free. It’s not about who’s right or wrong. It’s about freeing yourself from the baggage so you can move forward. You have the opportunity today to create new successes using the lessons you learned from those mistakes.

Your turn…

I’d love to hear from you.  How has fear put your excitement (or happiness) on pause?  What has it stopped you from doing?  What have you done in the past to break this cycle of fear?  Please leave a comment below and share your thoughts and insights.

 

 

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Controlling Anger — Before It Controls You

Controlling Anger — Before It Controls You

 “I took a deep breath and listened to the old brag of my heart: I am, I am, I am.”

— Sylvia Plath, The Bell Jar

 

Inside Out is a funny, witty, and clever movie portraying the role of human emotions in a very touching sensible story. The story is about a life of a girl who is facing a significant transition in her life. The core emotions of human beings are Joy, Sadness, Anger, Fear, and Disgust. These emotions are learned emotions; these emotions exhibit themselves in one’s life based on one’s experiences and learning in relationships.  Anger is one of the five emotions controlling Riley Andersen’s mind. He lives in her brain and works with the other emotions.

When Joy and Sadness literally get lost in Riley’s mind, he and the others have to keep Riley’s head on straight until they get home. Next to Joy, he may be the most abrasive to Sadness. Anger is introduced when Mr. Andersen tells a young Riley that she can’t have dessert if she doesn’t eat her broccoli. He is enraged but calms down when Riley’s dad says that the broccoli is an airplane. When Riley and her family move to San Francisco, Anger, along with the other emotions, is disappointed when he sees their new home and creates some negative memories. He lightens up when Joy starts coming up with ideas on how to decorate the place but is infuriated when they find out that the moving van with all of their belongings hasn’t arrived yet

Of all negative feelings people can experience, anger is probably the most common everywhere. We live and see a society of millions of angry people, we see it on television, parents experience it with their two year old, with people shooting innocent people for not reason, with teenagers, I know of many siblings who have held anger for years because of an ill treatment done to them by a member of their family. Anger is demonstrated in every corner we turn, we see it on our streets through the graffiti drawn on city buildings and businesses, we hear on the radio through the music sang, we see it on riots, on demonstrations and wars in Syria, in places where hurricanes and other natural disasters have hit.

What anger management professionals tell us is that anger has a personal dimension, it can be the fire that burn inside us and when provoked it cab lead to more damage, it is a flicker of fire that can destroy an entire with one strike. We all get angry, about things that are unfair or when things don’t go the way we expect, but here I want to engage us in a discourse to talk about that explosive anger that overwhelms every bodily vein.  Where your mind seems unable to focus, where nothing exists except the pressure waiting to explode.  This is the anger that all of have experienced at one time or another.  It’s a hard feeling.

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I remember having this episodic anger one Sunday afternoon when I was about 14 years old or so, back in Kenya. I was fixing our family bicycle, which was the one mode we had for the extended family of sixteen children, and I needed a screwdriver to complete a task. I asked my younger brother Isaac to get it for me. He refused  or was slow to get it for me, as the older brother in my family it is expected that when you send a younger child they should do what you ask them to do without any question. I was very angry with my brother for refusing or delaying to follow my orders, in great anger I took a log and threw it at him. He ducked it and ran away. Whenever I get flashbacks of that incident I feel bad for my immaturity at the time, I would have injured or even worse I would have killed my brother just for refusing or delaying  to follow my orders. In that moment I was allowing my outburst emotions to control my destiny, to control my thought process for no reason. I have since changed and I now act better in similar situation.

I have learnt that anger is an extremely powerful emotion and if you feed on it frequently others will avoid you like the plague. On the other hand, if you keep it bottled up inside and you become a pressure cooker that will inevitably blow its top leading to actions that you will later regret. Here, I would like share some examples where anger went out of control:On July 5, 2000, a hockey scrimmage took place at the Burbank Ice Arena in Reading, Massachusetts. It was a scrimmage for 10-12 year old boys. Michael Costin’s three sons were playing on one team and Thomas Junta’s son was on the opposing team. It was a scrimmage, it didn’t even count, but the events that transpired radically changed two families. The two men got into a scuffle during the game because of a disagreement they had over the roughness of play by the boys. Following the scrimmage Mr. Junta and Mr. Costin got into it again and Mr. Costin was beaten to death. Today, Thomas Junta is sitting in prison while Michael Costin’s sons are left without a daddy. As we can see from this case, violence comes from anger and must be defused in a healthy manner. Otherwise, coupled with daily stress and occasional relational problem, a sense of rage would plant deep inside one’s emotion and could explode anytime.

The question is not what if it explodes, but rather, when it explodes. For this reason, we are seeing more and more senseless murder-suicide cases recently. There is almost never a day gone by without hearing on the news of murder-suicide. It seems to be a thing to do to solve problems. I believe this is a reflection of people who are under extreme frustration and stress without having hope in sight.

Mental health professionals tell us when someone insults us or does something unkind to us, an internal formation of emotions is created in our consciousness. If you don’t know how to undo the internal knot of destructive and anger emotions and transform it to something positive, the knot of destructive and anger emotions  will stay there for a long time. And the next time someone says something or does something to you of the same nature, that internal formation of emotions will grow stronger. As we add knots or blocks of pain, anger in us, our internal formation of emotions start to have the power to push us, to dictate our behaviour, to want to be released or explode.

After a while, it becomes very difficult for us to transform it to something positive, to undo the knots, and we cannot ease the constriction of this crystallized internal formation of emotions. It imprisons us, there is a poignant story about two Buddhist monks who encounter each other many years after being released from prison where they had been tortured. The first one asks, “Have you forgiven our captors?” The second one replies, “I will never forgive them! Never!” The first says, “Well, I guess they still have you in prison, don’t they?” This story vividly illustrates the tyranny of anger.

Every one of us has had episode of anger in our lives, we sometime feel a sense of threat, real or imagined, usually arises out of a perception of oppression, humiliation, injustice, physical danger or just a lack of control over our environment and circumstances. Guilt can also trigger anger. For example, if we know or feel that we’ve violated the law (biblical, moral, or civic), we may live under a cloud that God or the police who is about to get us. That lack of control over our circumstances can make us angry.

Of course, this territory of human psychology is not a recent discovery. People have always struggled with these issues. Rage exploded into murder in the very first family. So it may be useful to step out of 21st century thinking and literature and seek the more classic wisdom of the Bible on anger. For some of us those emotions no longer imprison us but for some we still have business that we need to take care of. With the practice of meditation, seeking help from others or mental health professionals or engaging yourself in intentional mindful reflection, we can undo these knots and experience transformation, healing and new insights into starting a new journey of hope. Anger is our built-in alarm system alerting us that something is wrong, out of harmony, off balance. Some event has clashed with our expectations, our beliefs or our spirit. We can gain vital information about ourselves and what we believe about the world when we look honestly at our anger. But when we react unconsciously, repress our anger or get caught up in it, it becomes counterproductive and negatively affects our health and relationships.

According to Brandt, when you’re able to tap into your anger — or any emotions — you’re able to examine the message, before you figure out how to respond. Feeling your feelings may not be easy. It may not come naturally to you — especially depending on your earlier experiences. However, you can learn to feel your emotions in safe and healthy ways and to process them in safe and healthy ways. Mindfulness is a great practice that everyone should focus on. When I became aware of the positive and negative emotions, it helped me get into touch with my inner most strengths and insecurities. When I recognized my strengths, I was able to grow those and build confidence. When I recognized my insecurities, I was able to self-soothe and face them head on to sort them out in a healthy way.

I have begun to be able to identify situations that induce anxiety, fear, stress, anger, etc. As soon as I feel any of those emotions coming along, I ask myself “what is causing this and what can I do to put this feeling at ease?” It can happen in a split second, so it is important to begin identifying trigger points and begin self-soothing right away. It is just as important to identify situations that bring joy. I know how hard it can be to take a situation for granted and not luxuriate in that moment. Getting into the practice of taking a moment to breathe in the air, listen to the sounds around you, taste the entirety of your food or drink will ensure that you are living in the moment. There is nothing more important than having gratitude for the things that you are doing in the NOW. In The Power of Now, Eckhart Tolle writes, “Accept — then act. Whatever the present moment contains, accept it as if you had chosen it. Always work with it, not against it.” And sometimes you are right to be angry because you are experiencing a true wrong. Then the problem is not the fact of getting angry, but how you express that anger. It’s not right for someone to tailgate you, recklessly and aggressively endangering you and your family. It’s not right when your spouse is indifferent or inconsiderate. It’s not right if your boss treats you unfairly or your child refuses to obey. It’s not right when you are abused or attacked. Anger has been given to us by God as the way to say, “That’s not right and that matters.” In our broken world, you will have many good reasons to be angry. But, because we are part of the broken world, we express our anger at true wrongs in the wrong way. We blow up. We get irritated. We gossip. We complain. We hold a grudge. We shut people out. We get even. We become embittered, cynical, hostile. Something really wrong happened … and we become really wrong in reaction.

By acknowledging our feelings and simply observing our thoughts, we are better able to make a conscious choice of how best to respond to life’s occasional frustrations. Remember that we were all born to be free; it’s a gift from God. We’re not to be free from responsibility, but free to be led by God’s Spirit. Any time our freedom is taken away or given away, we experience anger. Are we willing to go through whatever it takes to be free, or do you want to stay in the mess you’re in for the rest of your life? If you and I want to be free, just start doing what God wants you to do, one step at a time, and you’ll eventually walk out of your anger mess.

Brandt writes in her book Mindful Anger: A Pathway to Emotional Freedom writes, “Recognizing our true feelings makes it possible for us to change behaviours and situations that do not support us — leading to a more honest, satisfying life,” according to Brandt. Andrea Brandt grew up with anger. As she writes in her new book, we first learn anger at home. In her case it was from her parents, and primarily her mother. Her journey into healing began with a meltdown as a client in a group therapy session with her then-husband, followed by withdrawal and tears. She is an expert in anger from firsthand experience, but then we all have firsthand experience. What is different with Brandt is how she chose to handle it.

Brandt’s experience of overcoming her own histories of anger suppression does not follow this “slow and steady realization” model. One day in a group therapy session with her husband, she recounts, the anger she had kept deeply hidden all her life suddenly burst out of her in a screaming, purse-swinging fit of aggression, directed at another group member. The outburst, so uncharacteristic of this quiet, repressed woman, shocked everyone, including her, and ultimately led to a divorce. However the immediate effects of this fit of anger were the most personally telling and significant for Brandt’s evolution as a psychotherapist: she reports that days of sobbing, as she released the decades of hurt, were followed by a profound sense of freedom and lightness–a euphoria of post-expression liberation.

A clinical psychologist, Brandt came to realize that anger is our friend. It is there to try to protect us. The difficulty is when we act blindly and use the self-talk that we learned as a child. We act as soon as the emotion rises without really taking the time to listen to it and get to know it.

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Everything is possible. The impossible just takes longer.

I was born in Kinangop Plateau in Kenya. Kinangop Plateau is a region in Kenya that lies between the Kenyan Rift Valley to the west and the Aberdare Range to the east. It takes its name from Kinangop Mountain, which rises in the Aberdares to the east. Growing up poor in Kinangop Plateu meant that I did not travel to see other parts of Kenya, my family could not afford traveling, and there was no reason to travel anywhere else.
We were farmers, we could easily get food from the farm without ever leaving our sheltered environments. And besides, friends and family told us that beyond our plateaus lived giants who swallowed people alive, we were scared of ever traveling there. Then as we grew up older the stories changed, we were told that beyond our plateaus were mean people who were hostile to us. As I listened to these change from one generation I became curious to travel on my own, get to see what lay beyond my plateau.
Then in Four One (or Grade 8) I joined Boys Scout. That year, my Boys Scout Club was going on hike Mount Kinangop, which is a mountain in the southern Aberdare Range about 100 miles (160 km) north of Nairobi, Kenya. For those new to Kenya, Aberdares Range is within the Aberdare National Park, Central Kenya. It is a string of forests, beautifully woven around the windward side of Mount Kenya, its rivers and streams have clear waters gushing down the ravines and valleys to make a spectacular drop at the Thompson Falls in Nyahururu.
The hike was going to take one day. I signed up for it. I could not wait to climb it so that I could see down the Rift Valley and other scenic places below Kinangop Plateau. We started the hike at 0600 AM. As we started there was a dense fog on the mountain which obscured the mountain trails. We knew it was going to clear off as soon as the sun was up. Along the way, we crossed many mountain streams, beautiful plants and flowers like fern trees, bromileads, impatient and hibiscus flowers. We heard many different types of birds, insects and frogs. And as we climbed higher and higher, we felt the physical strain of the climb. Yet we kept on climbing.They say that the wolf on the top of the hill is never as hungry as the wolf climbing the hill.The wolf has made it. He doesn’t have the same drive as the other wolves, but that is because he has what they desperately want. Climbing up for 13 and 14 Olds was not easy, but we had to stay true to ourselves, we kept on going, we knew it was worth it in the end.
Rift-valley
We could now see the summit peaking in our sights, we pushed through physical pain, mental exhaustion and pushed ourselves to new physical and emotional heights- to achieve an exhilaration unlike any you’ve thus experienced! I was just thankful to have a moment of calm and a view of the sunrise to start the day. It really felt special to watch the sun. As we got closer to the summit it started to feel cold. The altitude made our brain hurt a little. The oxygen was so thin that we could barely get enough air to breathe, let alone support this much physical exertion. But we just wanted to wait for the best part, to see the Great Rift Valley from a spectacular vantage point and it will be entirely, unequivocally worth it.
At around 1200 we arrived at Mt. Kinangop Summit. Mt. Kinangop is the Second highest Peak in the Aberdare Range with an elevation of 3,906 m. Located in the Aberdare National Park on the Southern Aberdare Range.At the Summit, the views all round was incredible, pure heartwarming, with Mt Kenya clearly visible in the distance. The Table Mountain on the Aberdare could be seen to the north, the Elephant Hill to the south, and numerous other mounds and valleys, some shrouded in wispy clouds. In that moment of pure joy, I got to see what lay beyond my village; the beautiful Great Rift Valley, some parts of Nairobi, Lake Naivasha all lay there before me. I have no words to explicitly explain that moment, but was all heavenly.
There is no substitute for being there and FEELING it.Looking out over the lush green tree tops, past the towns, you see it all. At the summit you feel the refreshing cool mist of the clouds on the wind cooling you off from your hike up the mountain. It is a real reward for your hard work! With that view I felt hope beyond description, I saw hope that one day I will leave my village to go out there to see those other villages, the city of Nairobi and learn about their people. I saw hope that my vision was not restrained to the fables and stories about giants who live in mountains beyond. I felt a surge of hope, future. I felt a sense of ‘bigness outside myself’, a sense of the majesty of the world around us, and of just how small we are, in comparison to the big picture ahead and around us.I saw my life branching out before me like the fern trees.
From the tip of every branch, there before me was my future beckoning.. I saw myself going places for studies and I believed it. That day has given birth to today. Thirty years now I am living in Canada, thirty years now I live hopeful in Canada. Thirty years now I bring hope to others. I bring to all of you fighting battles alone. To all of you going against the grain, battling the naysayers I stay strong! Keep going, keep believing! is walk is hard. But the hardest walks lead to the greatest destinations. The toughest climbs always lead to the best view. It WILL be worth it in the end.And if you show what you are made of, the RIGHT people will show up in your life. You have qualities only few can admire, because most don’t possess. You have strength only few can understand, because most have never experienced.
I learned to enjoy having high hopes about things that might happen.
The 13th century philosopher and theologian St Thomas Aquinas said that faith has to do with things that are not seen, while hope has to do with things that are not at hand. If hope is more active than optimism, faith is more active still. Faith is deeply committed.Faith, at its core, is deep-rooted in the expectation of good things to come. It goes beyond hope. While much of hope lives in the mind, faith is steeped in the heart and the spirit. It can’t be explained away by reason or logic, or be understood through a single dimension.
I am an optimist, who believe that something good will happen to me. May be my faith in God has something to do with my optimism. Part of being optimistic is keeping one’s head pointed toward the sun, one’s feet moving forward. There have been many dark moments when my faith in humanity was tested, but I would not and could not give myself up to despair. I still believed that after the storm there will be a rainbow and calmness. I always wait for my rainbow. While life can be hard at the best of times, faith is the knowledge, deep down inside, that things will get better. It is that power and energy in us that speak in the future we hope to achieve.It is very much like my vision to go to places beyond my village. It’s taking the next step when you can’t see the entire staircase. Simply put, life would fail to have reason if we didn’t have faith.Faith is the power of our convictions and expectations. Like the wind, we can’t see faith, but we can feel it, and we can see its effects on our lives. And, just as the direction and speed of the wind determines the weather, the nature of our faith shapes our destiny.
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Taming monsters in your life: Your Journey to The End of The Rainbow

It was 8 PM. I was riding Toronto Subway from Spandina to Lansdowne. As reminisced through all that had taken place during the day, I started to notice some hand unusual hand movements of the woman sited across from me.

“Don’t be like your dad, ” she shouted at her three year old son, who was trying to free her grip, wanting to walk in the train.

“Men are monsters,” she shouted, at this time everyone in the train cargo was looking at her.

“Andrew, you are a monster.”

“No, ” her son freed himself, “you are a monster.” In no time the train was in Dufferin, which was her stop. She left quickly holding her son and shouting at him. As she left the cabin and as the doors closed I wondered why she has so much bitterness, I wondered why she repeatedly called men “monsters”. Could she had a divorce or separation. I empathized with her situation, whatever it was that she was going through it must have been a tough situation.

That night, as I thought through this incident, and wondered what could be that that made that woman to be so angry at men, I remembered how it is to be in the path of a monster. It was a time my father and I  encountered with monster, a very hungry lion in the bushes of Kenya.

It was on a Saturday morning and the shimmering rays of of the sun hit ground with promises and peace. We had come to this part of Kenya to see our piece of  land. We had camped for the night at an old school.

“This are hyena’s footsteps, ” my father told me as we started to walk into the bush where our land was supposed to be located, he lifted his hands towards Mount Kenya and asked the Creator to protect us.I had seen him say this kind of prayer a few times in my life, all those times were times when he and us were going through some difficulties; so I knew he too feared for what might happen.

As we walked further into the bushes we saw deers, giraffes, and herds of Zebras. All was calm but not for me, I feared a lot; I wondered why we had come here. I knew my dad had the best intentions to show me a piece of land that he had purchased but I could not reconcile why it had to be in wildlife environment. Without asking many questions I just followed him. For over an hour we went around the bushes, we could not spot the piece of land, then my dad remembered, “let us go that way,” he pointed,, we started to walk. After a hundred or so meters we saw a clearing and a water pond. As we walked towards the water pond we saw zebras, deer and antelopes have their mid-morning water drink, then my father stopped.

“Let us go that way, ” he changed direction, ” it should be somewhere near here.”

We walked a little further the direction he was walking, again he pointed.

“Our land is here, ” he stopped, thanked Creator again facing Mount Kenya.

We started to plant some trees that we had brought with us, then we started to hear roaring, loud roaring. We both knew it was a lion roaring, but thought it was either chasing a giraffe or just roaring to declare its territory, we continued with planting trees. But the roaring started to grow louder and louder, we could now hear it coming towards us.

“Let us ran, ” dad told me.

The more we ran the more we could hear its roaring getting louder, “I can stay behind to die….you are young you need to escape the danger, ” dad told me. As we ran through the bushes we met with a Saburu herder, he had a herd of cows crossing through the grassland. We raced around him, and past him. Then stopped to catch breath, at this time the roar was less, we continued to ran, until we could hear the sound anymore.

My  escape from the lion encounter help me appreciate every opportunity I have been given to live, I see that I was given to see today for a reason.

 

My story has something to do with the story about the woman probably encountering a situation where she feels like encountering monster or monsters in her life, what we have in common is that monsters are real; they can be inform of persons, a challenge, an emotional experience….whatever it is it can make our lives overwhelmed and in some situations very, very painful and for some, they may feel feelings of numbness, apathy, depression, fear, loss of hope and death may seem as the most logic way to slay the monster.

But what I learnt that day when I encountered with the lion, and any day I have felt like another monster is out to kill me is that there is still a door of escape waiting to be opened.

In those moments when monsters are facing you, please remember:

  • Acknowledge that failure is part of the process.Failure is a natural part of growth. When you struggle to make a project work the way you envisioned it, it is a sign that you are stretching yourself. If you were able to achieve every goal you set for yourself with little difficulty, that’s an indicator that you’re playing it safe, and not pushing yourself. Seth Godin, 18-time best-selling author notes, “the person who fails the most wins.” It’s not because failing is glamorous. It’s because each time something doesn’t work, you learn. Each failure will bring you closer to solving the problem you’re tackling. You gain insight into what resources are needed, what approaches work better than others, and in what areas of your plan are most vulnerable. As a result of this learning, you can tweak your plan of action, for better results the next time. James Dyson went through 5,127 failed prototypes of his vacuum cleaner over fifteen years before he got to the one that worked.  It was prototype number 5,128 that launched his billion dollar technology company.
  • Embrace who you are and all your humanness. Self-doubt plagues us because we desperately want to be somebody we’re not.  I often want to be perfectly disciplined, for example, and when I’m not I come down hard on myself.  The key, I’ve found, is to remind myself that although not perfect, the person I am is pretty darn great.  I just need to embrace the reality that I’m not always as disciplined as I’d like to be.  And I also need to remember that I have had many successes in my life.  (Just like YOU.)
  • Let your emotions run their course. Breathe, stretch, curse, scream, cry, laugh, sing, meditate, exercise to release endorphins, read a book, punch your pillow, vent to a loved one, etc. Do whatever it is that you need to do in order to clear your mind. Take a deep breath and let out all emotions related to the setback. Refrain from bottling up your emotions. Trust me, I’ve been there one too many times and it has never resulted in anything good. I promise you’ll come out of this feeling a lot better.

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  • Let it go.You can choose to let it go and move on. The reality is that life is filled with peaks and valleys and we don’t know when we will experience the good times versus the bad times. Disappointments and setbacks are part of life and it really isn’t personal. It is important to get to acceptance fairly quickly because having negative thoughts about your experience will consume you. For me, it took many years of practice to just let things go. I would replay the negative thoughts over and over in my head often questioning each action I took. It was unhealthy and never solved anything. I learned falling into the negative thought spiral made it more challenging to move on from the situation. Now when I experience set backs, I know I have a choice to either take it personal or accept the experience, learn from it and move on.
  •  Remind yourself that everything in life is temporary.Your big breakthrough will come when you recognize that all your inadequacies, all your limitations, and all your failings, losses and setbacks, are only temporary.  And once they pass in the real world, they’re prolonged existence is simply an artificial reality you cling to with your thoughts.
  • Know that nothing is too hard for God.When faced with an enormous obstacle, it’s easy to fall into the error of believing that the obstacle may be bigger than God. Yet we know that’s not true in our hearts; however, our actions of unbelief and doubt reveal otherwise. We must stand firm in the faith that God is who He says He is—the Alpha and the Omega, the beginning and the end. Nothing is too difficult for our God to help us overcome.
  • t’s not true in our hearts; however, our actions of unbelief and doubt reveal otherwise. We must stand firm in the faith that God is who He says He is—the Alpha and the Omega, the beginning and the end. Nothing is too difficult for our God to help us overcome.
  • Find gratitude in the present moment.This always sounds at bit cliché – promoting gratitude as a universal solution – but the reason it’s always mentioned is because it works. Even after a loved one passes, the actual present reality of our lives without this loved one isn’t unbearable unless we compare it to the impossible fantasy of them still being alive.  The reality is, we still have our own lives and our health and passions to explore… we still have other wonderful family members and friends who love us… and that’s just the start of things to be grateful for.  Now, this reality isn’t always full of happiness – sometimes it has unpleasantness – but you can embrace that too, instead of wishing it matched up with a stressful fantasy.

Your turn…

What helps you persevere and bounce back from life’s setbacks?  How do you motivate yourself through difficult situations on a daily basis?  Leave a comment below and share your thoughts and insights?

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Go Shark Mentality, keep going forward.

Sharks by nature are loners, huge fish, have thousands of teeth. What we don’t often hear about is their intelligence, their thoughtful strategies in catching prey, and their patience in doing so; along with their highly developed senses allow it to detect prey from miles away.

One of the most important shark facts is that they have to keep moving forward to stay alive. Sharks must swim constantly in order to keep oxygen-rich water flowing over their gills, but others are able to pass water through their respiratory system by a pumping motion of their pharynx. This allows them to rest on the sea floor and still breathe. However, sharks do have to swim to avoid sinking to the bottom of the water column. The ability to move up and down freely in the water column is, in fact, one of the extraordinary adaptations of sharks.Think about that. Think about how important it is to keep moving forward. For a shark it literally means life or death.
And, I can’t think of better advice for a new or veteran, old or young runner, triathlete, cyclist, crossfitter, or any athlete. Hell, anyone for that matter. Go Shark Mentality. Keep going forward.
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For you and me, it might not mean the difference between living or dying. But it might make the difference of our dream or goal living or dying. Whatever that dream is…to start a couch to 5k plan, run a marathon, or finish an Ironman. It’s a mentality that you have to adopt and it can be the difference between being a better swimmer, a faster runner, or getting stronger in order to make that final push to the finish line.
For sharks, it’s about life or death. It should almost feel that same way for us. That we need to keep learning, keep improving, keep persevering. To keep moving forward to stay alive. To feel alive. Go backward and it’s over.
Let’s never lose sight of our goals. Like a shark uses all of its sense to locate food, let’s focus everything on achieving them. We have to be able to taste the success. Like blood in the water. We have to be able to taste our next training session. Our next PR. Our next sale. Our next success. No matter how small it may be.

Every day is composed of constant movement. No stopping is ever allowed. It is like people fear their movement is equivalent to their life. There are cars roaring at all hours of the day, even in the dead of night. The sound simply never stops, never falters. If one decides that they wish to stop and breathe for a minute, they are immediately deemed a failure and are cast out from society. They say that it is the survival of the fittest, even among a crowd of sharks.

There is an old saying, ‘If you always do what you’ve always done, you’ll always get what you’ve always got’. And by all standard it’s true.If you aren’t proactive you will stagnate. And if you do that the crocodiles will eat you up.You have to keep paddling, keep moving forward in the water. Sharks have to keep moving forwards all their life to keep water passing through or over their gills. They never stop.
And don’t pay attention to Debbie Downers, hanging on and trying to suck the life out of you. Let’s keep moving forward. It doesn’t have to be at top speed. We can move slow. Evaluating. Learning. Progressing. Even the proper sleep and recovery is movement in the right direction.
Age? Age doesn’t matter. No excuses! No matter how old you are. Don’t let yourself get stuck. Don’t let yourself stop. And never under any circumstances go backwards. There are so many opportunities. There are so many tools. There’s access to information. There’s access to experts that have done it before. You just have to keep moving forward while you can, because you never know.
Be a shark. Keep moving forward. Because if you don’t there will be plenty of others, including my humble self willing to do so.
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Choose Your Battles Wisely

Most of us have been advised at one time or another to choose our battles.  We know it’s good advice, yet rarely stop and think about the criteria for passing up one battle and choosing to engage in another.

This famous saying is often not attributed to its rightful author, Sun Tzu.  As a brilliant Chinese military strategist, Sun Tzu was a highly respected general of the vast ancient Chinese army.

He is known not only for his incredible ability to understand warfare and thereby gain an unprecedented level of victory on the battlefield, but also for his impact on Chinese history and culture that is evident even now. He was no less a legend in his own time than he is today.

Sun Tzu is widely accepted as the author of The Art of War, a book of military strategy renowned for it timeless influence on warfare throughout history, even though it was written during the 4th or 3rd Centuries BC.

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For you and I in today’s worlds, choosing our battles  wisely means to be selective of the problems, arguments, and confrontations that you get involved in. Instead of fighting every problem, you save your time only for the things that matter. This means fighting the most important battles and letting go of the rest.

It is important to keep in mind that retreating from an individual battle does not mean that you are surrendering or declaring defeat in the war. A battle is no more than that – one battle. To continue with the battlefield/war analogy, a battle is simply one skirmish; your ultimate objective is to win the war. Many a pawn has to be sacrificed in a chess match in order to capture your opponent’s king, which is ultimately all that matters in the overall scheme of things.

What are some of the reasons for choosing only the important battles?

  1. Not everything is important. Some things simply don’t matter in the long run. If you think about what matters 5, 10, even 20 years from now, it’s apparent that many of the things we worry about are small, and we should instead focus on the big important things.
  2. Accept what you can’t control. Trying to change something that you cannot control will lead to a lot of frustration and unhappiness. And you will never stop fighting those battles unless you can first accept the way things are. Namely, accept other people for who they are. Trying to change them will lead to a lot of wasted time and unhappiness.
  3. Do a cost-benefit analysis. In the investment world, cost-benefit analysis is a systematic approach to estimate the strengths and weaknesses of a business investment, so that you can determine if this investment is sound.When facing an impending battle, doing a cost-benefit analysis helps you decide if the battle is worth fighting. Ask yourself:
    1. Do the costs outweigh the benefits? If the answer is “yes,” it’s generally better to let go and move on.
    2. What are the odds of success? If the odds of success are very low, then it may be better to just move on as well.
  4. You’re Not Perfect, Accept It, Never beat yourself up for making mistakes.This is life. It’s unpredictable. It makes no sense. Shit happens.When you try to be perfect, you’re always at war with yourself. You’re never at peace. Nothing is good enough.You will never get to enjoy life for what it is. Even though it makes no sense; there’s still enough beauty in life.You just have to take off your tunnel vision goggles and see it.

  5. Your beliefs aren’t necessarily someone else’s and that is alright. One of the first things that you can realize is that the beliefs that you have and the choices that you make aren’t necessarily going to be someone else’s first choice. The great thing about life is that everyone can have their own opinions. You wouldn’t want someone else forcing their beliefs and choices on you right? Yes so try not to do this to others. I have actually ruined many relationships that I have had trying to make others see my view too much.
  6. Life’s battles are endless but you don’t have to choose them all. With the tips above you can stop arguing as much and you can just be happy with the beliefs and the choices that you have made. You don’t have to prove yourself to anyone so you don’t have to worry anymore about trying. There are questions that you can ask yourself to see if the battle is worth arguing about or conversing about. Will it matter to your life if they agree with your or not? Will you change your mind if they don’t agree with you? The answer to both of these questions is probably no. If you can say no to these two questions then there is no need to make a big deal out of it.
  7. Go for win-win, not win-lose. Should you decide to pick the battle, work toward a win-win situation where both of you will emerge victorious.Some of you may be surprised by my suggestion. Why ‘win-win’ and not ‘win-lose’? Why help my opponent win? you may think. Even though I use “battle” as the analogy, I encourage you to think about your “opponent” as your ally, your friend. The reason is simple: When you have a mindset to squash others, you adopt a scarcity mindset that’s rooted in lack — where there must always be a winner and a loser, where there is a lack of opportunities for everyone.

Are You Choosing Your Battles wisely?

If you tend to face a lot of battles in life, use the tips above to separate the essential battles from the non-essential ones. Focus on the important battles and let go of the rest. This way, you focus your energy to win the big game of life.

In other words in all your battles, accept what you can’t control (the current situation with the car accident) so you can focus on what you can control (your future preparations for such a situation).

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Simple And Fun Ways To Fill An Emptiness In Your Life

If you are starving but can’t find food you will feel hungry. The feeling of emptiness is like emotional hunger where you become hungry for a something that you can’t get. For example the feeling of emptiness related to loneliness results from needing an intimate relation without being able to find it. Depression is another one of the strongest reasons that can make you feel empty and the combination of both depression and emptiness can be really annoying.

The opposite of the feelings of emptiness is when you feel full. This kind of feelings comes when you find that you achieved most of your goals or that at least you are moving in the right direction towards reaching them.

What causes feelings of emptiness? No one knows for sure, and there may be more than one cause. A common reason you might feel empty is self-alienation—feeling like a stranger to yourself. This sensation develops over time, usually as a result of pushing away unwanted emotions.

Our emotions are an important aspect of our experience of ourselves and our quality of life, yet most of us have some degree of trouble allowing ourselves to have certain feelings. Anger is one emotion that many people try not to experience, for example.

What happens to our feelings when we refuse to acknowledge them? They stick around in the shadows of our minds, gumming up the emotional works and, eventually, cutting us off from ourselves altogether.

The result? We feel empty. We have a pulse, but we’re not really alive.

Feeling empty can be so anti-climactic, so dull, so silent – a place devoid of even the smallest motion.  We are so (understandably) averse to feeling empty that we’ll do almost anything to fill ourselves up, even if we know it’s hurting us.  Avoiding the feeling of emptiness is part of the reason so many people overeat, for example.  “Comfort food” is not food that makes you feel energetic or lighter or cleansed, it’s food that makes you feel full.

We long to feel full, not empty.

What’s not said enough is that feeling empty at times is natural, normal, incredibly common and (dare I say) healthy.  Particularly during times of transitions, feeling a sense of emptiness is par for the course — a signal of opportunity and a clear space for something meaningful to enter into your life.

What is the solution?

Understand if/when you feel “empty” its not really “empty” and that there is something actually there. You must first face it, see it, & admit it. Use your vocabulary to try to describe what this “emptiness” feels like. Once you have a few words that describe it, ask yourself, “Why do I feel this way?” I guarantee that the cause will be from a lack of love in some area of your life. Once you find the area of lack ask yourself, “did I or someone else cause this lack?” It could have been someone else who caused it; it could have been yourself, or both (whether the offense was real or perceived the pain it caused is still real to you so treat it as so).

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We have now faced it so the next step is to apply forgiveness. If someone else caused the pain, forgive them. This doesn’t mean you now agree with or are now ok with what they did to you. Forgiving them is releasing the influence they have had in your life through this unforgiveness, bitterness, & resentment.

If you caused it receive forgiveness for yourself. Get rid of guilt, shame & condemnation & recognize your value once again. See that you are better than that & live like it. See your value & potential. Forgiveness brings freedom by releasing & erasing the hold that pain once had on you.

Like kids but don’t have any or yours are grown now?

Volunteering at a school during lunch breaks or going on field trips with schools might be an option. Most will require you to have some police security check but these are easy enough to obtain and you should have one anyway. If you are open to a little more commitment, go check out and see if a nearby daycare needs an art and craft person or an extra pair of hands for little day trips. Kids not your thing?

Do you like books?

When was the last time you visited your local library ? Reading? Learning about current and local events? Sitting in quiet open spaces and taking in new things? Libraries are a great source, still to this day, for workshops, reading, obviously, and meeting new people. Like minded people. Some libraries even have free classes, mostly for seniors, but you should check anyway. Don’t discount your library.

What’s your passion?

Painting? Photography? Music? What makes you come alive? Find it and do more of it. Leave the house if you have to and seek it out. Search your area for people who love the same thing or maybe even join, or start, a meet up group of like minded individuals. Perhaps there are already several in your area lost and looking, just like you. Most of these clubs are free to join as well. If equipment is needed, if you are just starting, most can be bought at ridiculously great prices at second stores. Fun doesn’t have to cost money.

Lastly, cultivate a lifestyle that releases life into yourself & others. For an example, If your “emptiness” is really depression due to failure & rejection begin to release hope, acceptance & victory. Your thoughts & words must become thoughts & words of hope, acceptance & victory. Your words will define your world. Speak encouraging & empowering words over yourself & others. Believe that you are worthy, valuable, full of potential & have much to give to others. Speak hope. Encourage others to believe that they are valuable, full of potential & to expect coming good.

In summary you:

Face it: admit the struggle, pain, and fault.

Erase it: give & receive forgiveness. &

Replace it: changing your thoughts & words to thoughts & words that release life.

Be filled with goodness instead of “emptiness”

 

 

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How to Deal With Embarrassment

Forgetting people’s names and unsightly sweat patches are among the most common faux pas that leave Britons blushing with embarrassment four times a day.

Tripping in public and getting food stuck between teeth are also humiliating moments that most try hard to avoid and one in seven say a relationship has ended because something embarrassing happened.

A study of 2,000 adults found that burping accidentally, stalling the car at traffic lights and having food on your face are among the top 50 most common moments that leave us red faced.

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Terrible teeth: Discovering food stuck in between teeth is a common humiliation

Embarrassment is the uncomfortable feeling you get when you’ve done something which you think will make you look bad.

Embarrassment is a self-conscious emotion felt by individuals after they commit a social transgression and that transgression is exposed to others in the  group. This is evolutionary advantageous for humans as social animals, because social standards and rules need to be constantly maintained for a social group to function efficiently. Embarrassment not only makes the individual feel negatively about violating the social norm, but it also initiates a series of action tendencies that facilitate repair of social damages caused by the transgression. For instance, you can be embarrassed when you start addressing someone and then realize you forgot their name. Or, when you are on a very busy train and accidentally touch a stranger in an inappropriate place. However, you do not necessarily have to do something bad or stupid to be embarrassed.

If you feel it far too often or find your experience of it disabling, that’s not because embarrassment is inherently bad; that’s likely because you have social anxiety, a deep fear of the perceptions of others and how they can harm you. Embarrassment on its own isn’t a massive problem, so don’t fear it: understand it.
In a word, she was embarrassed. While embarrassment might jangle your nerves, there are ways to muster up the mental and emotional strength to put it behind you and be better prepared for next time.

Here are a few tips to use when you find yourself in embarrassing moment:

  • Ask yourself: “How important is it in the whole scheme of things?”   “What harm is done, who will suffer? What’s the worst thing that can come of this?”  “ Is it correctable?”  An objective common sense realistic answer will free you to move on.
  • I have had my share of embarrassing moments. I, like most people hate making mistakes. The high standards I have set for myself will never change, however I have adjusted my expectations of always being able to live up to them in some aspects of my life.
  • If you embarrass yourself, get a jump on it. Defuse the awkwardness by addressing it before someone else does. A self-deprecating joke is a sure tactic, but if you’re too flustered to be witty, default to an immediate “oops” or “sorry” statement (“Oops, that was embarrassing!” “Sorry about that — obviously not what I meant to do.”) Smile and move on.
  • If someone else embarrasses you, go to your moment place. It takes a lot of control, but don’t get defensive. The more neutral your reaction, the less power you give up — and the more obvious it will be that you don’t deserve to be treated that way.
  • Think from an outside perspective: Seeing the wider picture can help you to judge whether or not the wrongs you committed are ones which truly trap you into feeling embarrassed. Embarrassment is sometimes (not always) unnecessary, and you need not live your life as prisoner to it. To see whether this is true, try these tricks to open up your perspective on the issue.
  • It’s a common mistake: Seeing the wider story can often reveal that yours is a mistake made by many, and this can act as a great starting point for finding the courage to uncover your embarrassment or shame to others.
  • Who’s the judge: Looking at the issue from outside yourself can help you examine the standards by which you are judging your mistake. Every mistake is simply a failure to live up to a set of expectations you have for yourself, or that others have for you. It is important to discover who you believe you are disappointing, what the rules were that you broke, as well as what high standards you did not achieve.

 

What you and I need to remember is that everyone suffers from shame or embarrassment in their lives. When you keep in mind these feelings are universal, there is no longer any reason to hide.

 

 

 

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You are Not a mess,you Are a masterpiece

When the abstract paintings of Jackson Pollock were first introduced people said, that’s not art. It’s too weird, too chaotic. 

Everyone hated his work. No one would buy it. 

“What a mess,” they said. “My two year old could do that.” Then, one day art collector Peggy Guggenheim looked at a painting and said,

“Not a mess, people. You’re looking at a masterpiece.”

 In 2006 one of Pollock’s paintings sold for $ 140,000,000.

We are all like Pollock’s paintings , a pile of mess or a masterpieces to the people we meet with. Those who see us as mess hate us but those who see our mess as masterpieces are happy to be with us, they are willing to do anything to have us in their circles. 

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To be honest with you, everyone  is flawed. I find it sad when people are surprised or angry at celebrities when their famous celebrities make a mess, we forget that they too are human beings like us. 

We live in a society that perpetuates perfection. We see celebrities with their perfect lives and their perfect looks. We look at our neighbors and think that their job, house, or relationship is perfect. We strive for that perfection. We envy that perfection. Then we become upset when such perfection is out of reach.

Just to be honest with you, you and I are struggling with this realm of wanting to be perfect and yet we feel flawed up. It’s the truth for me and the truth for you – for all of us. Every one of us have these competing voices in our heads. The voice that says that “I am a masterpiece” and the one that says “I am a mess”, “I am a loser.” Sadly, the the voice that says “I am a messed up” is usually the loudest voice we hear. That “mess” voice has been trained and perfected over many years of self-doubt, criticism, mistakes, etc. Sometimes that voice was fed by someone we thought was a friend, a well-meaning but misinformed family member, teacher, sibling, you name it. At times, that voice gets so loud and so big that we can’t hear anything else. The “masterpiece” voice has been stifled and disjointed. But here’s the truth: God sees you and me as an absolute work of art. That is so hard for me to process. I can see all sorts of beautiful qualities in those around me, but I have the hardest time accepting it for myself. God is the one that speaks those powerful, loving words into your heart. He is the one that makes your amazing qualities visible to those around you so that they can see them too. 

Interestingly the Bible is full of people who felt “messed up” like we do. Adam and Eve felt that they  were not good enough as they were, they felt a miss and insecure when confronted by Satan;  Abraham, the forefather of faith, let other men walk off with his wife on two different occasions. (Genesis 12 and 20);Elijah himself ran for his safety after performing a miracle and hid in a brook to die, he felt messed up; Job, supposedly a contemporary of Abraham and the epitome of faith, suffered from the nagging of a faithless wife. (Job 2:9);Moses, the humblest man on the face of the earth (Numbers 12:13), had a very serious problem with his temper (Exodus 2, 32:19; Numbers 20:11); Solomon, the wisest man in the world, was arguably the world’s greatest sex addict with 1,000 sexual partners. (1 Kings 11). I can go on giving examples about heros in the Bible who messed up in their lives. This illustrates lives of people who felt messed up, lives of people like these tell us that our thoughts and words have the power to make or break our future stories. We have the power to either accept that future or measure it with what we believe we are. 

A few years back I listened to Watoto Choir, Watoto Choir for those who don’t know them are a Christian children choir from Uganda. They performed a titled “I am not forsaken”. The song told a story of kids who had suffered from lots of challenges yet they were hopeful of their future. As I sat there and watched these children sing  I was reminded in a very personal way that I too was not forgotten and that God knew my name.  He knew where I was, and He wanted me.  As a Kenyan who grew up in poverty I know that it took total conviction and change of heart to see and believe on being masterpieces. In their humble states it is easier to feel self pity and see their “messed up “ stories than to believe that their maker is transforming them to be masterpieces. How do you feel today? Do you feel “messed up” or do feel you are being transformed to be a masterpiece?

Embracing your flaws or feelings of being a “mess”, with your head high is not easy. I have listed some tips that are helpful to us all in this journey of growing towards becoming masterpieces:

#1 love yourself, your whole self

We often associate what is a mess in our lives with physical imperfections, but no matter type think you are, you cannot let it consume your soul.  Embracing that you are human, a flawed human, who is not and will never be perfect is the first step to truly loving yourself—your WHOLE self. Despite all of it, you are still beautiful, inside and out. Never forget that.

#2  self-awareness is very important

Being in tune with your emotions and physical being is key. Understanding the way that you are has an effect on others and becoming more aware helps you personally and professionally, as well as helps you identify how you can grow and improve.

#3 how you feel about yourself affects your relationships

Growing up in Kenya I learnt at vet early age that I had please others in order to get their attention or support. I made sure that my dad, teachers and others were happy with me. This very good for me because I seen as a very well behaved young man, and sometimes I got favoured. But on other hand it was not always s good for me because I had always please people, even when it meant it cost me more to do what they wanted. This changed after I had lived in Canada for a few years. My first job was a live-in caregiver in a group home. Soon after employment a few of my co-workers quit their jobs. That meant I was left alone to take care of four persons with disabilities. It was very tough juggling cooking, complete care for the ones on wheelchairs and cleaning. After a few months of doing this I could not do it anymore. I spoke with my manager requesting for additional support. At first my manager could not believe that I was brave to be asking for support. But I did not relent, I was tired. The agency offered me some respite support. 

Since that time I have learnt that You cannot fully love someone else until you love yourself. If you don’t love yourself, your relationships will suffer. Plus, those who are most comfortable with who they are tend to exhibit more confidence and have more productive relationships, instead of those spent as an uphill battle against your insecurities.

#4 Someone else may love your “mess”. 

You and I have people out there who appreciate us just as we are. These people have been set up by the Creator to be our anchors. Occasionally I meet with people who come to my life wanting to commit suicide. Some of the reasons why they want to do so is because they feel they have no one in their lives who care about them. As I journey with them through their pain they realize that they have so much to given and that their lives were meant for greatness. 

Like these friends  who come to our lives at their point of need, you and I deserve to be loved for our whole selves—including our flaws, and not despite them. Like I’ve mentioned, your flaws are what make you the person that you are and you wouldn’t be that person without them. Embrace who you are and surround yourself with people who embrace you, too.

#5 your insecurities will only hold you back

Your insecurities can stop you from reaching your full potential. You’ll never pursue your dreams if you’re constantly being held back by the “bad things” about yourself. In order to move forward, you have to accept your flaws. Of course you can do things to better them or change them, but you can’t do that until you embrace them.

#6 because focusing on what’s wrong means you miss what’s right

We are so distracted by what’s wrong that we forget to acknowledge what’s right. If you spend all of your time obsessing over the negatives, you’ll miss all the good stuff. Just because you are one thing doesn’t mean it overpowers all the good about you. That’s what matters.

Above all remember God created you as a masterpiece, that is the bottom line.