Warning this is an end of year personal post and has very little to do with technology so if you are looking for a technology post feel free to skip it. Two things have been rattling around in my head of late and I wanted to share them as an end of year post. These two things have proven to improve my life many times over.
Perception determines reality
I do not wish to diminish the real life challenges you each face. I have lived long enough to understand that each of us faces monstrous mountains throughout our lives. Some of us face challenges with family, friends, relationships, actions of others, health and many other things that are real.
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When we faces these mountains our outlook truly can change the outcomes. I learned this in a simple way many years ago. I was a young missionary serving a dedicated two years spreading the gospel. I was 22 years old and in Michigan 2,000 miles away from any family. I had been a missionary for over 14 months well experienced in constant negative response we received from our work. I was assigned to train a new missionary and it was Christmas time. It’s a particularly hard time to be away from the family and virtually cut off (we were only allowed to communicate via mail once a week). We had a particularity hard area full of rich people (they are generally not receptive to our message). There were many days it poured freezing rain or snow while we traveled by bike. It was cold and dark. A week before Christmas we discussed getting a Christmas tree and determine that our monthly food budget of $115 dollars could not afford a tree. So we pressed on with the long days work (9 am – 8 pm knocking on doors every day six days a week). My new missionary friend always had great attitude nothing phased him. We joked and talked every day while we seemed to be doing nothing. One night I was preparing for bed and came out into the front room to discover my companion coloring boxes green. When I asked him what he was doing he simply stated making a Christmas tree. Later that night he stacked the boxes of various sized on top of each other to roughly resemble a tree. He then took a red marker and drew balls on the tree. Satisfied with the results he went to bed. He and I spent three months together knocking on doors for 11 hours a day and didn’t get the opportunity to teach a single lesson. By all results we had an epic fail. Looking back 16 years later I can clearly say I learned one of lives most important lessons: it is not the results that count it is how you face them. I have had many failures in my life since then but I have been able to remember the lessons he taught me: make the best of what you have and don’t let any external event get you down. You might have to make a Christmas tree out of boxes or lower your expectations considering getting out of bed the crowning achievement of the day but your perception determines your reality no external event.
By small and simple things great things are brought to pass
When I was young I was convinced that I needed to locate some great event to prove nobility. It was in a single moment these great things happen. It is simply not true. While people are noble and at times do great things I suggest this is just an extension of the many small things they have done for many years. A friend once called it healthy life habits practiced regularly. I have learned that I do my best work in small burst practiced regularly. Simple things like choosing to go to bed on time makes me a better father the next day.. when practiced for a lifetime consistently makes a better father for life. Choosing to allocate time to service makes me less selfish for a day practiced each day makes me a less selfish person. Other examples may include: reading a book to improve myself, spending one on one time with my children, driving a little slower and letting people merge, choosing to do the dishes, reading religious words, turning off my phone etc.. I am convinced that by doing all these small simple things consistently I will find I have become a great and noble man at the end of my life.