The Brighter Side

Like many people, I tend to be disappointed pretty easily, and that tendency comes with the extraordinary capacity to trust anyone without condition. The higher the trust, the bigger the fall! Being disappointed in someone I gave my trust to, without them proving me that they were worth it, was a very common event in my life, making me feel worthless.

Until I realized something…

Ever heard of the phrase “it’s not you, it’s me” in movies when a character can’t find a better excuse to dump their date? In fact, it’s not just a movie line in cases like mine.
I realized that some people just can’t help themselves, they constantly disappoint whether they want it or not. It’s not me, it’s them!
But on the other hand, I also realized that if I let them disappoint me constantly, it’s not them, it’s me.

Today’s quote: “Rigid beliefs make disappointments seem unbearable, whereas realistic beliefs help us to accept disappointment and go on from there.” Eileen Kennedy-Moore, The Unwritten Rules of Friendship

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It’s the most uncomfortable thing on earth (besides walking with high heels). It’s awkward, it’s unpredictable, it’s scary. It’s like jumping from a ten-story building with no safety net. Like falling and knowing that everybody’s watching and no-one is going to pick you up if you don’t. Like going to a place you want to avoid but will eventually have to go to anyway.

But what I’ve learned is it’s okay to feel overwhelmed and it’s okay to feel powerless about feeling overwhelmed. It’s okay to be scared. It will not always feel that way. Things are going to look up once we start embracing the fact that we can’t change the past, but we sure can embrace the future with the capacity to make our own choices.

Today’s quote:
‘We have not passed that subtle line between childhood and adulthood until…we have stopped saying “It got lost” , and say “I lost it” Sydney J. Harris

A few weeks ago, our coaching teacher told us a story of Robin Hood and asked us to rank the characters of the story from most honorable to least honorable. We did it, and we realized each one of us had different results for different reasons, and we stuck to those results, even though other people disagreed with them. The teacher even explained to us that one of her students, after taking the test, couldn’t sleep at night and ended up breaking up with his girlfriend. Why? Because it was all about core values.

We all have core values. They are part of our identity in such a way, that they shape what we think and what we do. The thing is, most people don’t even realize that they are acting according to their own values, either positive or  negative.
Sadly, we are sometimes influenced by values we don’t even want our lives to promote and we are frustrated, ashamed and mad at ourselves.

This is the moment when we need to sit down with a pen and paper and think:
– What kind of behavior or attitude do we hate?
– What qualities do we admire the most?
– In what situations are we most hurt?
– What kind of decisions make us proud of ourselves?
– What makes us happy?
– What makes us angry?
All these questions can be followed by “and why?” The answers we find give us a few hints about what our core values are. Now, it is important to know what they are, but it is even more important to be intentional about them.

Living according to your core values takes discipline. It doesn’t just happen automatically. Once you’ve identified them, you need to establish how you are going to promote them.

For instance, let’s say one of your core values is respect. How do you want people to respect you in your everyday life? And also, how do you want to show respect to the people around you? It may be a short list of actions that you’ll enrich in time. You can use your everyday life experience to write this list, and it can give you ideas to improve your own behavior toward others.

Here’s an example:
Core value #1: RESPECT

Question #1 : Do I respect people? How?

Question # 2 : How do I want people to respect me?
– Knock on my door when they come into my room
– Don’t interrupt me when I speak
– Say “please” or “thank you”
– Give me back what they borrowed from me in a good state, etc.

Question # 3 : How do I want to respect people?
– Ask for permission when I want something from them
– Apologize when I accidentally push them
– Don’t force anything on them
– Don’t smoke if I’m asked not to, etc.

And you can make the same list with all of your core values.

Besides, communication is a key to the establishment of your core values: you need to let people know what they are because they define the terms and conditions of your relationships, what you want, and how you want it. And it gives them the opportunity to share what their own core values are. This can teach you how to appreciate each other more and better, while enabling you to build healthier relationships.

Question: What are your core values and why?

 

EMPOWER: to give official authority or legal power to, to promote the self-actualization or influence of (Merriam Webster’s Dictionary)

A few years ago, when I was in Bible school, I created a human video. This was a first for me, and though I had already played several different parts in human videos created by others, I had never really learned the process of making one from scratch myself. I asked the student overseer if I could show her my work, and off to Starbucks we went. She liked the idea, and invited me to show it to my classamates to make sure that they would agree with the project. She usually supervised the arts classes, but unfortunately (or so I thought), she came, said she had to go, and left me with the class. Now I am so glad she did. But then, I was sweating out of fear. I was paralyzed by the questions I was asking myself  “what if they don’t listen to me and go all bored when I tell them about the human video?”, “what if they laugh because they think it’s ridiculous?”, “what if they refuse to do it?”. Then I stopped the question monologue going on in my head, and started to realize that the student overseer had given me her trust to do it right. So I gathered my strength and taught the human video to my classmates. And I will tell you a bit about what the human video became later.

What the student overseer did was truly great for several reasons:
1. She took the time to listen to me so I would feel comfortable enough to openly talk about my project
2. She trusted my ability to produce something good so I would gain confidence
3. She welcomed my ideas with grace so I would upgrade them
4. She let me do what she usually did herself so I would feel empowered

And I needed it to succeed. Everyone needs it. Even babies need it. When they have to take their first steps, they need their parents to trust that they are going to succeed in walking…which implies they will probably fall a few times or even get hurt. But if they’re not allowed to trip and fall,  they will never walk. Of course, they need to be surrounded and encouraged in the process, especially when they fall.

It works the same way for us as adults. There is always room for error. There is always a risk in trusting somebody. But people need to be trusted enough to make their own mistakes. Otherwise, they never grow. Empowering someone is giving them the trust they need to do something by themselves. Sometimes we have a tendency to do things a certain way so we expect others to do it the same way, but each one of us is unique, and therefore, so is the outcome. All they need is grace. Whether they do right or wrong. Grace. Pure and simple.

By empowering someone, you give them the authority and the ability to be free from their fears and limitations. You teach maturity. You love them enough to let them learn their own lessons. You lead them until they are ready to lead others.

It’s all about trust.

So the human video was taught to my classmates. They really liked the idea. We performed it during a youth gathering and many people in the audience cried. We performed it in several churches and the same thing happened. Part of it was even broadcast on national television for Easter. I taught it to another class in Bible school, and the students cried during rehearsals. I even found out someday that the human video was performed all across Europe, producing the same result on foreigners’ hearts.

That’s what empowerment does!

Question: What does EMPOWER mean to you? 

INSPIRE :
– to influence, move, or guide by divine or supernatural inspiration
– to exert an animating, enlivening, or exalting influence on
– to spur on : impel, motivate
– to affect
(Merriam Webster’s Dictionary)

I have often heard that there were natural-born leaders who had a supernatural gift to inspire the crowd on the one hand, and natural-born followers who obeyed on the other hand. At first, I was totally okay with this: for the sake of order, there has to be leaders and people who listen to them. But then I realized that this perspective only provides us with excuses to not fully grasp our responsibilities. In fact, we all have people around us who need our input and inspiration: our friends, our co-workers, our family.  We are all natural-born inspirers and we all inspire something, whether we want it or not. Our actions, our behaviors, our decisions, our thoughts, our words and even our physical attitudes affect others and influence their reactions. We are all leaders in our own world.

As we are capable of the best or the worst, so we can inspire the best or the worst in others: appeal or disgust, admiration or disappointment, pride or shame, love or hate. It is often said that our actions speak louder than our words. I’d also say that the gap between our actions and our words sometimes screams inconsistency, and that’s when we lose the right to be followed and listened to. Of course, our purpose in being coherent about our actions and words should not be to be followed or listened to, but above all, to be at peace with ourselves and with others. It all begins with your decision to put your actions and your words on the same page.


Inspiration is far removed from manipulation.
Leading should never be for the sake of controlling others.Inspiration creates a voluntary and positive movement on the one who receives it.
Inspiring means nurturing dreams and aspirations through beautiful values, and giving creative ideas to achieve these dreams and aspirations.

So find inspiration, and go inspire someone else!

Question: What does INSPIRE mean to you?

EDIFY: BUILD, ESTABLISH
To instruct and improve especially in moral and religious knowledge :uplift; also : enlighten, inform (Merriam Webster’s Dictionary)

Making the best choices in life is often compared to the act of building a house. And it is an excellent parallel. Building a house takes a lot of determination to find the right place; the ability to negotiate wisely; long days of planning; discernment to pick the right collaborators; knowledge to choose the most appropriate material; patience while the house is being built; flexibility when things don’t turn out as expected; reactivity to make the best decisions quickly when necessary; humility to admit mistakes, and perseverance in the face of adversity.
Sounds a lot like life, doesn’t it?

Building is actually choosing, and every decision is like a stone we add to the building of our lives. Where we are now is the sum of our own choices and the choices other people made for us. Even though we are not responsible for the wrong choices others made for us, we are responsible for watching over our hearts. Every choice we make is based on our core values, what we hold dear. If you do not like where you are in life now, you might want to check your core values, because they are not only the result of where you are, but they are also a compass indicating where you are going. You are not the only person involved : your family, your friends, your co-workers, and beyond your own space and time, people you will probably never meet are, and will be impacted by the way you build here and now.

Edifying is elevating life to a whole new level. But sometimes, in order to go up, we need to touch the bottom. We need to shake off all of the habits and behaviors that took us to a place of dissatisfaction in order to embrace change. Someone once said that foolishness is repeating the same mistakes and expecting different results. If we want to build differently, we need to think and act differently.

To edify means building something solid enough that it lasts. Edifying your life takes time because it is meant to have lasting effects. And while you are edifying your own life, why not take time to edify others? It is a long-term investment that pays off with long-term benefits.

I once had a conversation with a friend about leaving a legacy, and we realized that, to many people, leaving a legacy means having children. I don’t think you need to have children to leave a legacy. I think you just need to build selflessly, with the future in mind. At the end of the day, no-one wants to lose everything on account of recklessness. Edify your life carefully and purposefully. And as you decide to go higher everyday, don’t forget to carry people with you.

Question: What does “Edify” mean to you?

ENCOURAGE : to inspire with courage, spirit, or hope; to spur on : stimulate (Merriam Webster’s Dictionary)

I started to learn intentional encouragement when I was in Bible school. We would have an assignment called “Barnabas”. Each month, we would anonymously encourage one of our classmates for one week. At first, we were not very comfortable with the idea of having to particularly take care of someone we barely knew. But during the course of the year, we got used to it, and we finally loved it. We loved the praise we received, but we also loved to discover our ability to make each other happy. My roommates and I would even have “Barnabas” nights to openly speak about each other’s qualities. This was no longer an assignment, but a habit. I keep excellent memories of these “Barnabas” nights. I  wrote the words my roommates told me and I have preciously kept them ever since.

Encouragement is beautiful.
When I was encouraged, I felt greater, I felt better about myself. I remember it taught me to understand how people actually saw me. And I learned to see myself with fresh eyes.

Encouraging someone is not about lying to them, it is not about flattering them or putting them on a pedestal and bringing ourselves down. It’s about loving them enough to let them know the beautiful truth about themselves.

Because there is an ugly truth, and we already know it. We’re very good at pointing to other people’s flaws and shortcomings. But ultimately, constant criticism reaches its own limitations and leads to frustration.

Fortunately there is a better way up : how about inspiring the people around us with courage, spirit and hope? How about stimulating them into being the best possible version of who they are?

Because people don’t read your mind, they can’t guess what you think about them, unless you tell them. Sometimes, they are not even aware of their qualities or their abilities, because they have been so blinded by the lies they were told and the pain they’ve experienced, that a positive word about themselves can totally turn things around.

Encouraging somebody doesn’t take more than a smile, a nice word, open arms or a heart ready to listen. It is any act that says “I am here, and I care for you because you are worth caring for”. It is so little but it produces so much. Encouragement is like a seed: when you sow a little bit of it, you reap satisfaction on both sides.

What I found out, as I started encouraging the people around me, is that the greater they felt about themselves, the greater I perceived them, and the better they felt, the better I felt about them. When I encourage someone, even though I’m not the one receiving the encouragement, I feel a sense of joy and fulfillment that nothing else gives me.
Encouragement is a contagious, powerful force and a strong catalyst for change. What if this change started with you?

Question : What does “Encourage” mean to you?

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