The most valuable lessons of our lives…

Excerpt from: my book series

[This line is actually from the prologue of my book, which is now online here.]

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Hardships are not only not the end of us, they are often responsible for what become the most valuable lessons of our lives. No matter what the challenge may be, always remember that not only will it pass, there always exists within it an opportunity to become better, wiser, and stronger because of it.

Discoveries from difficulties

Whenever life challenges you, remind yourself that there is a lesson to be learned from the experience and that it will likely not become evident until after the experience is over.

We rarely learn what a difficult experience is truly teaching us as it happens, but reminding ourselves that there is value in it can make it easier to bear.

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Overcoming overwhelmed

Excerpt from: my book series

Whenever you feel overwhelmed and doubt your strength, resolve, or ability to survive a hardship or overcome a challenge in life, take a moment to remember how many challenges you’ve already faced on your journey and how far you’ve come.

Remember that stress is caused by trying to have power over things that are beyond your control.

Focus on what you can do, not on what you can’t do.

And breathe.

Every obstacle we encounter and learn from helps provide us with the knowledge & strength necessary to handle whatever comes next.

In the same way we don’t build muscles if we don’t use them, we don’t develop the strength to overcome obstacles in our comfort zone.

As such, encountering and working through problems is an essential part of life.

It’s not that we should wish to eliminate all challenges from our lives, but instead focus on developing the strength, discipline, and attitude necessary to effectively deal with each & every one that we encounter.

“We either make ourselves miserable or we make ourselves strong. The amount of work is the same.” — Carlos Castaneda

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"I can’t do that."

“I can’t do that.”

“I can’t even draw a stick figure.”
“I can’t even stand on a skateboard.”
“I can’t play a tune.”
“I can’t type that fast.”
“I can’t…”

Really? Well I have some questions for you:

  • How often have you really tried?
  • How much have you educated yourself about that particular thing you “can’t” do?
  • How much training did you get?
  • How much practice have you put in?
  • Did you make doing whatever it is a priority in your life or were you just expecting to miraculously wake up one day with this new ability?

Because, while it is true some people are more naturally talented at some things than others, most people who are good enough at something for you to notice how good they are at that thing have put in countless hours practicing that thing.

So is it really any surprise that you’re not as good at something as someone who has trained themselves to do something is?

Be very wary of the limitations you place on yourself. Repeatedly telling yourself that you can’t do something, will eventually make it true, simply because you convince yourself to never try.

Whether you think you can or whether you think you can’t, you’re right.” — Henry Ford

And let’s be frank, perhaps with countless hours of training, you still won’t be as good at something as you want to be — we all have our own areas of difficulty (as well as excellence) — but you will certainly be better than you were when you started. And you will likely have learned something valuable in the process.

You rarely get better at anything without experience. And that also means countless failures.

So don’t say you can’t do it if you haven’t made repeated attempts and failed.

Don’t say you can’t do it if you’ve barely ever even tried.

As a wise person once said, success is 99% failure.

You’ll never do great things unless you make the effort and try.

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If it doesn't challenge you, it doesn't change you.

I just wanted to quickly express some thoughts I have regarding some of the occasionally more challenging content I write, such as: “If you have the power to change…” or “A tough pill to swallow.”

I don’t expect everyone to completely agree with — or be able to easily accept — my point of view on every post I share.

In fact, I hope this is not the case. I hope some of the more serious stuff I post makes people cringe or think hard or question themselves or what they believe.

That’s the point. And it doesn’t mean we can’t be friends.

If I constantly post things that everything thinks, “yeah, I agree”, then that’s not a terribly effective strategy at getting people to think, stretch, or grow. It’s simply telling people things they already know or want to hear.

Anyone can do that (and lots of people do). Some best-selling self-help authors make a habit of that.

Do you want to make friends? Grow a following? Get people to like you? It’s easy, just tell people exactly what they want to hear, boost their egos, or provide superficial solutions.

That’s ONE way.

The OTHER way is to challenge people and earn their respect.

While people may not always agree with you, they will be confident in knowing that you believe what you speak and that you’re not just saying it to 1) meet a content deadline or 2) tell people what they want to hear.

The things I share? They come from personal experiences and what I’ve learned from them. Some of my thoughts are more developed than others and if you’ve been following my blog for any length of time, you will notice that many continue to evolve.

While some of the posts I share may be seen as simple common sense or ancient “truths”, I’m not writing content to meet a schedule or fill a void. And I’m not reading things and simply regurgating what I read in order to sound qualified — or to be confident that I’m not saying something that someone far more educated or informed than I am will disagree with.

No. I’m living this stuff and have been working through all of it. Everything I write about comes from real-life experience.

The rejection posts, the power to change posts, the acts of kindness posts, the just getting through life posts. These come directly from things that I’ve lived through and learned and can back up — and not from a pile of books that I just assume the contents are true and the authors knew what they were talking about.

And when I do read, I question everything. But I already question everything anyway.

I question who I am. I question how I know what I know. And I even question what I don’t know.

Do not believe in anything simply because you have heard it. Do not believe in anything simply because it is spoken and rumored by many. Do not believe in anything simply because it is found written in your religious books. Do not believe in anything merely on the authority of your teachers and elders. Do not believe in traditions because they have been handed down for many generations. But after observation and analysis, when you find that anything agrees with reason and is conducive to the good and benefit of one and all, then accept it and live up to it.” — Buddha

And I think. And I try things. And explore within and without. And make mistakes. And I learn. And some of the mistakes I make should be common sense issues, but not for me. Which is also why I share what I learn, because what’s “common sense” for one person isn’t common sense for everyone.

And I will be the first to admit that besides making mistakes or occasionally saying something or doing something in a way I didn’t intend, there’s nothing I’ve done that I ever felt couldn’t have been done better. And regardless of how much I learn or how confident I feel, or how long I go without making mistakes, I will continue to think this.

And to me, this is a good thing. Because the moment you are certain that you know the one and only way is the moment you leave no room to learn that you’re wrong (even if you’re right).

So yeah, while many of the things I share will not be particularly challenging for most people most of the time (and that would get annoying if that were the case), these things I share can still be of value in helping people to reaffirm what they already believe or be reminded of things they already know, but haven’t been practicing.

But it really isn’t until I challenge people that I have the potential to make a significant difference. As a wise person once said, “If it doesn’t challenge you, it doesn’t change you.”

And while I don’t believe this to be 100% true — because I believe that you can also lead by example — getting people to face challenges is challenging, at best. People often resist challenges, resist change, and resist discomfort. But that is where growth occurs.

And I can say from experience, as someone who has deliberately faced challenges for over 1,289 days, it has been the most rewarding and most illuminating time of my life. And nearly everything I write about is a result of that.

I wouldn’t trade it for anything.

And I hope on some level, that what I share eventually influences some people in ways that enhance their lives specifically because I did make them think, or stretch, or grow.

And that’s why some of my posts may occasionally be more challenging than others.

“The sad thing is that, even though we know our lives aren’t working in certain areas, we are still afraid to change. We are locked into our comfort zone, no matter how self-destructive it may be. Yet, the only way to get out of our comfort zone and to be free of our problems and limitations is to get uncomfortable. We can only experience freedom in direct proportion to the amount of truth that we are willing to accept without running away.” — Robert Anthony

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Strength from discomfort

Excerpt from: my book series

A world that continually caters to making people more and more comfortable creates a world full of people who are less and less capable of coping with — and being open to — even the slightest discomfort or inconvenience.

We need to teach people to be able to deal with the challenges of life, not attempt to remove them all.

There will always be bullying. There will always be inclement weather. Flight delays. Long lines. Loud neighbors. Bumps in roads. Rule breakers…

Don’t give your child an unusual name, they’ll get made fun of? No. How about we provide children with the ability to effectively deal with name-calling and to not have their self esteem be under other people’s control. How about we teach critical thinking and real-world problem solving skills?

How about we teach people effective coping and communication skills and stop encouraging a world of people who simply want to make noise and complain?

I’m sorry, but not having enough whipped cream on your Mocha Frappuccino is not a real problem. Having to wait in line is not a real problem. Being bored is not a real problem.

If you’re on fire, yeah, that’s a real problem.

The above inconveniences are simply symptoms of a problem. And the problem is that we should all be able to easily and effectively deal with these things without them turning into some kind of negative “event” in our lives.

Don’t give people or minor inconveniences the power to ruin your day. As that will be a day of your life wasted.

We should work on being stronger — and helping others be stronger — and not on constantly trying to make life easier and more comfortable.

The real world doesn’t go away just because we dress it up to look like something else. All that does is alienate us from what’s real and lessens our ability to effectively deal with the inevitable challenges we all must face in life.

We acquire the strength we have overcome.” — Ralph Waldo Emerson

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"Strength from discomfort" by Zero Dean

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