Don’t Stop Believing

How does one effectively cope with stressful times in life? Sometimes, life throws you one challenge after another in rapid-fire succession. On occasion, the undesirable stressors are caused by events which are completely out of your control. Of course, there are those moments when, through your own mistakes, you are forced to deal with the painful consequences of your poor decisions. Whatever the circumstances, stress is spelled the same. It feels the same. It effects are the same. It is undeniable that a constant barrage of negative stress is detrimental to your health. Loss of sleep, increased anxiety, loneliness, severe feelings of depression, unusual bouts with anger, and deep despair are a few ways it can rear its ugly head.  These and other nasty symptoms need to be combated as quickly as possible before you spiral into a complete physical, mental, and emotional breakdown. “Every struggle in life will either make you bitter or better.”–Dave Willis  Everyone will be tried and tested. No one will survive without a few scars. But, you may be wondering, “How do I survive at all?”

I want to tell you about a good friend. His name is Ron. I first met Ron over three years ago. I still recall our very first conversation. He appeared down on himself and a bit lost. I commenced training him in my gym shortly after that initial meeting. What I have witnessed throughout these several years of working with Ron is nothing short of remarkable. He could be a poster-child for unwanted stress. I think he’d prefer the term spokesperson. Nevertheless, I have been so impressed with Ron’s ability to deal with an ever-changing landscape in his life. What are some of the most stressful experiences in life? All of the experts’ lists are pretty much identical: break-ups in relationships, job changes, getting fired, moving, and problems with one’s immediate family. Yes, Ron has gone through several job changes. He worked in an extremely high-stress environment. At one point, his position was “eliminated” due to “restructuring of his department”. That’s the gentle way of saying he was fired. But, Ron is resilient, and Ron has an extremely diverse set of skills. He was troubled, but not afraid of his future. When Ron’s occupation required him to start traveling each week, he did not freak out. He just worked out! Ron and I used to meet Monday through Friday. He could have abandoned his commitment to himself because he was tired and overwhelmed. Instead, Ron asked if he could train with me each weekend. So, we adjusted our schedule.

I remember when Ron called me to say his girlfriend had broken off their relationship. That phone call came while he was on his way to my gym. He wasn’t going to lay around and feel sorry for himself. Ron knew that training would help him through this episode of his life. Indeed, it did. Yes, he has dealt with the stress of moving, not once, but several times. Though annoyed and exhausted at the same time, he never missed an exercise session with me. All the while, Ron demonstrated a determination that is second to none. Though he is one of the most intelligent people I’ve ever met, he has been very teachable. Ron always asks questions. He’s always been open to trying whatever varied exercise routine I’d throw at him. Ron loves to tweak his D.I.E.T. and experiment with food.  I suppose it helps that he graduated from Culinary school years ago. Although that in itself doesn’t guarantee any personal success regarding overall health and wellness, it surely has provided a great foundation. Throughout his ordeals of the past three years, Ron has not ditched his commitment to eating healthy. Ron loves meeting new people and exploring new adventures. He speaks three languages, but guess what. He is learning another. Ron is always moving forward with hope for a better tomorrow. He is an entrepreneur. He started up a couple small businesses. His mind never dwells too long on the past because he’s always looking to create something. Ron is a musician, an IT specialist, a voice-over artist, a web-page designer, a comedian–in short, he’s amazing! His resume reads like a novel with suspenseful twists and turns. He graduated from Michigan State University and also has a degree from the University of Southern California. He is a well-traveled man. He has spent time in the Dominican Republic on a missions trip. He loved it so much he’s returned many times.

So, what can you learn from my dear friend? Never give in to doubt! We are all going to face disappointments. Never give up! Life can and will be cruel to us sometimes. Don’t stop believing!  Well, he’s at it again! Ron is taking his talents to Houston, Texas. More potential stress on the horizon, but I’m not worried about him. He’s developed an ideal coping mechanism for stress: keep breathing, keep living, keep loving, keep serving, keep busy, keep exercising, and keep eating healthy. Hasta la vista, Ron, mi amigo. I am going to miss torturing you with my workouts and all of our stimulating and fun conversations.

Why be half empty when your life can be full?

Are you the type of person who typically views the proverbial glass of water in front of you as being half-full? Do you frequently wonder why the cards in the deck of life have apparently dealt you a bad hand? Do you suppose that because of a family history chart littered with a pattern of health issues you are predestined to a troublesome and unfulfilling life? I wish to speak to those who slow themselves down by carrying around a heavy load of pessimism. Pessimism is like unto a cancer. Initially, it might be almost undetectable. Nevertheless, silently it grows inside of you. If not discovered and treated quickly, it will utterly destroy all of those happy, hopeful, and optimistic cells in your body. “Your perspective can either be your prison or your passport. Your perspective will either become the thing that confines you to the way things are, or releases you into the way things can be!”–Steven Furtick

To you negative, self-defeating, highly self-critical, cancer stricken patients of pessimism I declare that “There are no hopeless situations. There are only people who think hopelessly.”–Windred Newman I immediately challenge you to plant a positive thought in your head. It, too, can grow as you feed it. It’s really not as difficult as you think. “No one ever injured their eyesight by looking on the bright side!”–unknown The effect can often manifest itself instantaneously. An optimistic person is easy to pick out of a crowd. So, don’t think wearing those cool shades will serve as a clever disguise. I’ll recognize the change in you. “Optimism is the faith that leads to achievement. Nothing can be done without hope and confidence.”–Helen Keller With daily nourishment in the form of definitive, personal affirmations, that tiny seed of optimism will bloom. Your mental outlook can be transformed. You may soon become a glass half-full personality. The word optimism is, of course, originally derived from a Latin source optimum, meaning “best”. Cultivating an attitude of happiness and a spirit of optimism is the best approach to life. “Don’t be gloomy. Do not dwell on unkind things. Stop seeking out the storms and more fully enjoy the sunlight. Even if you are not happy, put a smile on your face. Accentuate the positive. Look a little deeper for the good. Go forward in life with a twinkle in your eyes and a smile on your face, with great and strong purpose in your heart. Love life!”–Gordon B. Hinckley

As a pessimist, you made a conscious decision to have a bad attitude. Difficult circumstances not withstanding, it was a choice! We all have struggles and trials. The optimist chooses to maintain a positive outlook in spite of those challenges or obstacles. An optimist is blessed with greater opportunities by giving greater effort. A pessimist misses precious opportunities that are offered for he or she doesn’t even see them. An optimist always gives his best effort and trusts that somehow, someway, someday things will all work out. A pessimist is more inclined to give a half-hearted effort due to a complete lack of faith in the future. Both can be highly contagious. Misery does love company, after all. But, wouldn’t you want to be the reason that someone else chooses hope over despair, abundantly living over woefully existing, that passport to peace and prosperity over the personal prison of pity? I think that you do. “We need not feel that we must forever be what we presently are.”–Marvin J.Ashton

Hard as things seem today, they will be better in the next day if you choose a positive attitude this day with your whole heart. This is good news, isn’t it? The message is that you can triumph over that “stacked” deck of cards you’ve been focused on so intensely. The message is to be not afraid of what others, even others in your own family have experienced. You can overcome a real or perceived predisposition for failure. You are not here to fail! Speak this truth to yourself every single day! Consider that “The enemy doesn’t attack apathetic people. He doesn’t have to because you’re sabotaging yourself.”–Steven Furtick  I leave you with words that have brought me great comfort. I share with you one more message which years ago enabled me to make the transformation from a pessimist to an eternal optimist. It is found in the 16th chapter and 33rd verse of the book of John in the New Testament. The Lord said, “These things I have spoken unto you, that in me ye might have peace. In the world ye shall have tribulation: but be of good cheer; I have overcome the world.”

What more could I possibly add?

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