Archives For Personal Development

Why don’t I give more?

March 16, 2018

I’ve never been great about making time for service. At least that’s the story I’ve always told myself. I say this because I rarely make time to volunteer. My excuse is “I’m too busy.” I am definitely busy, but is that really why I don’t?

Or is it that I’m just not motivated? Or is the reason something even deeper? Like some kind of deeply etched pattern of feeling the need to take care of myself before I take care of others?

Many people who become parents will tell you how it helped them become less selfish—it’s the first time they’ve had to really learn how to put someone else’s needs first. My take? Meh, I’m still the same selfish asshole.

Oh it helps a little, but all it really does is widen the circle of self-centeredness a little to include another being. It’s a great thing, but for me it’s incremental and not a big move to true selflessness.

I’ve carried this story about giving with me for some time. Then three very insignificant small moments happened.

#1 I was walking into a building and held the door for a stranger, and afterward I smiled. But I noticed that smile came from somewhere deeper inside and radiated out of me.

#2 I was walking behind somebody and noticed a glove on the ground, and picked it up and asked them if they had dropped it (which they had). They thanked me, and I felt this little rush of joy.

#3 I was walking out and a person behind me told me my backpack was unzipped. I thanked them genuinely, and felt this little rush of joy.

My life is peppered with all sorts of these kinds of moments. Small acts of kindness. Seemingly insignificant acts of giving and heartfelt receiving. It’s not that I haven’t noticed these in the past. What was different was I noticed a subtlety… these tiny interactions were accompanied by a genuine joy that welled up from within.

That little rush of joy came and went so quickly that I see how it would normally get lost in the shuffle and go unnoticed in the typical state of being—the one characterized by rushing around in a hurry, lost in thought. Maybe because I’ve been meditating so much lately I was more attuned to catch it, and to see how the positive feeling came from a completely different place.

Giving feels really good. We all know this. Even in the backpack moment where I was the recipient of kindness, what made me feel so good was seeing how the man’s helpfulness made him smile and feel good.

To give is to love, and to love is the essence of being fully human.

So why don’t I give more?

Help one person at a time. And always start with the person nearest you. – Mother Teresa

When I started this blog, I needed an outlet. On a surface level it was a place for some creative expression. But on a deeper level, I was writing to myself, appealing to myself… Live a truer life! Live a life you fully love! Don’t leave room for regrets!

I have no idea where the name “Authentic and Bold” came from, it just crept into my subconscious one day and I gave it no additional thought. But it’s clear now that something deep inside was clamoring for me to live a life with much more of those two qualities. Even after letting this site go dormant a number of times, growing weeds while my attention has been pulled by other things, each time I return I find those words resonate just as much today as they did that first day.

And I see the same desire for those qualities in so many people around me… perhaps even you.

I can tell you that you and I were once one hundred percent authentic. I know this from my little guy. It’s one of the gifts of raising a child. You get to see this awesome little person who is so utterly who they are. He’s almost six, and he’s still got me beat in authenticity (by a centillion times infinity!). For example he loves numbers so much, and he’ll excitedly tell his friends about gigantic numbers or cool “math tricks.” And kids who otherwise might have no interest seem to think it’s cool and entertain his suggestions for no other reason than the sheer passion he exudes.

Turns out authenticity and passion are magnetic.

But the other side of this gift of raising a child is witnessing how and why our authenticity fades. I see the earliest signs of the inevitable decline of that pure authenticity… little twinges of self-consciousness, moments of trying a different personality trait on for size, the stuff we spend much of our lives building up layer by layer to fit in and gain approval or acceptance from our friends, teachers, parents, you name it.

Until one day, if you’re lucky, you realize there’s a freer way to live. Being your natural self. And so begins the journey to true authenticity.

Except you’ve built up so many damn layers it turns out it’s not so easy to shed them. Sometimes it feels so difficult and unnatural to just be your effortless, natural self.

Meditation can help. It’s the most direct path to increasing freedom that I know. Come to think of it, I should really meditate more.

But so can just plain being bold. Because inauthenticity is usually just a case of good old-fashioned fear. Strangely enough, we seem to think that if we are utterly ourselves, completely unrehearsed, spontaneous and open to whatever happens and to whatever other people think about us no matter the consequences, something really bad might happen.

I mean come on, I can’t be totally honest. I can’t let people at work know that about me. I can’t let my friends see that side of me. I mean think of what would happen… they might ___________, or _____ might happen, or they might _________, or they even might ___________.

Something bad might happen I tell you!

But will it?

Or is it possible we might just be missing the very secret of _________?

A Deficit of Renewal

January 21, 2017

Everywhere I look, in my life and in others’ lives, I see a renewal deficit. It’s the only thing I can think of to call it. 

We work jobs we don’t enjoy, and it depletes us. Or we are overworked at jobs we do enjoy, which depletes us just the same. We maintain relationships out of a sense of responsibility. We put urgent day-to-day tasks and responsibilities ahead of the important. We run around scratching the nervous itch of our endless Productivity Complexes. We neglect ourselves.

And then we find ourselves depleted. We’ve taken so much out of our metaphorical banks that we’re in a deficit. 

When we do have time for renewal, we often fail to make good choices. Many times we know we’re doing that, but still do it out of habit. I just did that this morning, with the voice in my head pointing it out to me the whole time, yet I didn’t stop myself. Other times we might not even realize, but are duped by faux-renewal opportunities, like pulling out our phones and plugging into a world that feels like it will be a quick fix but just depletes us further. 

All of this attention to other responsibilities, to other people, to the gods of productivity and achievement, and to the demons of faux-renewal leaves us depleted. Nothing good comes from being depleted. 

It often seems like a painful irony… all of this living our lives for other people and for responsibilities outside of ourselves, all of this go go go do do do, all of this giving of ourselves to things outside of ourselves, and we end up in a depleted state which frankly only makes us more selfish. After all, we have very little left to give when we’re in a deficit. 

Everything in life that has achieved a state of balance has done so through adequate renewal. If the scale tips too far in one direction, something must be added to tip it in the other direction. When energy is depleted, it is recharged. It’s a natural law.

Pay attention to that sense of balance in yourself. Notice what truly renews you and make time for it. Nourish your body, your mind, your spirit. Make the difficult choices to pay yourself first with plenty of renewal. It may seem to some other people like it is selfishness. But they just don’t get it, or don’t get it yet. It may even feel to you as though you’re being selfish by doing this. In time that feeling will fade and this will just feel like wise action, or good health, or plain old common sense.

We all have a far greater capacity to give, to be present, to handle what comes at us with poise and grace than we do when we’ve run ourselves down with too much productivity, unselfishness, achievement, and so forth. There aren’t any true medals for that anyway. Does anyone on their death bed care about those kinds of medals when they look back over their lives? Maybe some, but usually not the people I most admire.

The bottom line is that you’re a far better person when you’re renewed. And everyone and everything benefits, not just you. You know this already. So make the choice. And I’ll do my best to join you.