The Anxious Man

Dearest Readers,

Yesterday I heard a man tell a story and I’m going to re-tell it for you because it is powerful testament to what Marianne Williamson calls “the miracle”. The miracle is the Shift in Perception.

One day a man left his office feeling very heavy. The weight of the world was on his shoulders. He was a newspaperman and stories of oil spills and murders and mayhem crowded his mind and held his thoughts hostage.

As he walked along the street he could feel his anxiety increasing. All around him was pain and despair. He clenched his fists and tightened his jaw against the air around him, which felt oppressive and thick.

He saw ahead of him on the sidewalk an old lady. She was tiny and frail and she used a walker. “How sad,” the man thought. “How terrible. A lonely, old woman who has no one. She can barely walk. Her bones look as though they might break at any moment. How tragic.” He sighed heavily with the sadness he felt for this woman’s situation.

As the old lady approached him she looked up at the man, raising her head high from between her stooped shoulders. The man expected to see a hollow, empty face. Instead, she was smiling.

“Isn’t it a beautiful day?” she said to him, beaming radiance and great warmth from deep within her fragile frame.

“Y-yes,” the man replied, barely able to speak.

The old lady continued on and the man stood watching her slowly push her walker down the sidewalk. It seemed as though a light had suddenly been turned on outside. Everything was brighter.

The man looked around. The sun was shining. He had not noticed this before. It was a beautiful day after all.

Inspiring Message of the Day: When I look around me what do I see? Do I see the darkness or the light? The Light is everywhere, all around us, all the time. Today I will look for it no matter how I am feeling.

No Bull (Durham)

Dearest Readers,

“When a defining moment comes along, you define the moment, or the moment defines you.”

Who said that? Abe Lincoln? Barack Obama? Susan B. Anthony?

No, it was Kevin Costner, movie star.

I came across this quote while I was preparing to do a speech for Toastmasters and I like it. The meaning is rich and it speaks to the choice that we all have to see the glass half empty or the glass half full.

For example, Costner may be a multiple-Academy-Award-winning filmmaker but he’ll forever be remembered as the guy who made Waterworld. Does anyone remember that film as being anything other than a major bomb?

But how would the Man Who Dances with Wolves remember it? Kevin himself, if we are to believe that he truly walks his talk, would probably choose to define the moment rather than have it define him.

He might tell us that Waterworld made more than $242 million worldwide (and it “only” cost $175 million to make). He’d definitely tell us that it was nominated for multiple awards including an Oscar (okay, it was Best Sound but still…). By focusing on the positive, he would then be defining the moment rather than have it define him.

During the speech I gave I shared a few stories from my past that I consider to be defining moments. Not because they were particularly glorious but because the circumstances surrounding each of them could easily have defined me, if I had let them. Instead, in each scenario, I made a decision to turn the circumstances around. I chose to see the positive.

This kind of decision-making is being presented to all of us every day in myriad ways. It takes great courage to continue to define our moments rather than have them define us, to say “I did this” rather than “this happened to me.” Shifting our perception isn’t easy. We’re twisting the brain, so to speak. But by doing so we’re participating in our lives rather than passively going along for the ride.

Just like Kevin Costner, Hollywood success story.

Inspiring Message of the Day: How can I take a more active role in defining the big and small moments of my life? How can I see things in a more positive light? Today, rather than feeling like my moments are defining me, I will choose to define my moments by looking at the positive outcome rather than the negative.