It’s Not Always About You

I woke up this morning with a thought. I honestly can’t even remember what it was any more. But it was important to me at the time. Then I heard a little voice in my head say, ”It’s not always about you” and that literally stopped me in my tracks. And that voice was right. It’s not always about me. Or you.

What Does That Really Mean?

As humans, we naturally spend a lot of time thinking about ourselves. What are our needs? Our wants? Who do we want to be with? What do we want for lunch? Why is something hurting today? All of that is a normal part of life, and in many ways crucial to our survival.

But many of us forget that, at the end of the day, we are just a speck in a huge world full of billions of people, animals, plants and other living things. And we all have an impact on one another: trees help us breathe, pets bring us joy, and humans love and support one another. When too many individuals become hyperfocused on themselves, they begin neglecting other members of this vast ecosystem that we are all intended to support.

Real-Life Examples

Let’s say you want to get together with an old friend and it’s just not working out. You’re getting frustrated. Why? Because “you” can’t get together with your friend.

But did you ever stop to think that maybe your friend has a legitimate reason for blowing you off (e.g., a health matter, family matter etc.) that you just weren’t aware of? In this case, it isn’t about “you” at all? Because after all, it’s not always about you.

Now let’s use that same scenario but this time you do get together with this friend. The entire conversation seems to be about his life and very little about what has been going on in your world. And you’re feeling kind of ignored and unimportant.

But again, did you ever stop to think that maybe your friend was at a tipping point and just needed someone to vent to? Once again, it isn’t about you at all.

When We Realize That “It’s Not Always About You”

Now, you may be sinking in your chair right about now; sitting there thinking about all the times that you were focused on yourself and how you felt.

But look at this as a growth opportunity; a chance for you to make the world a better place by focusing less on yourself and more on the people around you. Maybe it’s time for you to say “I’m sorry” for those recent moments in which you’ve focused on yourself when maybe you should have been thinking about other people.

I believe, from time to time, we are selected to do things for the purpose of helping others. We just happen to be the right person, at the right time, to perform a necessary task, like listening to our friend who really needed to talk. And yet often we have no idea of the who or why we are performing this task.

This is the beauty of life. We perform certain actions without fully having a grasp on the unintended consequences of these actions. We make the world a better place without even realizing it.

And to do this is so incredibly simple. All we have to do is realize: “It isn’t always about you.”

How to mentally prepare for cancer battle


How do you mentally prepare yourself for something like a cancer battle?

When you are facing cancer, the biggest battle you face might actually not be physical. Yes, don’t let me discount the immense physical battle that you are facing day in and day out to get your physical body back to a healthy state. That is a HUGE battle. However, sometimes it’s not a battle we, personally, have full power over. All the while, there’s a battle happening in our minds and in our souls, and if we don’t pay attention, we could lose this battle very easily. 

The Mind is Powerful

Our minds are powerful and they have the power to help us in more ways that we realize. That’s why meditation and prayer is so important, especially as you prepare for your cancer battle. You need to be at your strongest, and that starts with your mindset!

A study by the American Cancer Society shared that “In our observational study, we found people who found feelings of transcendence or meaningfulness or peace reported feeling the least physical problems.” This isn’t just nice feelings that are getting us by, but trends found in medical studies showing that meditation and prayer can have a profound effect!

So, how do we mentally prepare to fight cancer with strength?

I can’t guarantee that I’ve got this all figured out and I can’t guarantee it will ALL work for EVERYONE, but I do know that these are helpful things that may help some of us. And, for those of us reading who don’t have cancer, but are still walking through hard times, you might find some help in these as well. 

  1.  Be realistic. Be true to yourself, knowing that you are walking into a battle. Think through some of the realities, knowing that some days will be harder than others. It won’t be all rainbows and sunshine. While it’s good to be optimistic, it’s also good to have a realistic foundation, knowing that while you can have hope and be positive, it won’t always be easy. 
  2. Cling to hope. There is always hope and if you can cling to that concept, it will do you a world of good. Look for hope in the world around you. Even if it’s just in the simplest of flowers peeking out after a long winter. 
  3. Focus on your purpose. We all have a purpose in life and a “why” behind what we do in it. The journey to get to that purpose may look different from what we imagined, but encourage yourself to look beyond the circumstances and instead focus on what the bigger purpose and bigger picture might be. 
  4. Pray and Meditate. Start and end your day in silent moments where you can focus your mind. You can block out the distractions from the day and the voices that may have spoken hard things to you. Focus yourself back on what you know to be true.
  5. Surround yourself with encouraging people. Who is on your team? Are they lifting you up? Or, are they filling you with worry and doubt? Be smart about what voices you are choosing to listen to. 
  6. Take a digital hiatus. Friends, social media may NOT be the right place to be when you’re going through tough times. In seasons of a fight, you may not want to focus on what others are doing. It might be a good time to simply change some of your surfing habits on social media. 

While there are so many other things you can do to mentally arm yourself for the cancer battle, my hope is that you’ve found at least a few things you can do to help you today. Whether you are fighting cancer yourself, or are a friend to a warrior today, may we all focus on the mental battle that goes alongside the physical battle of cancer! 

The Simplicity of Saying “I’m Sorry”

When I was writing the last blog post… It is what it is or is it, I started thinking about another saying or phrase that I’m not sure I totally buy into. That would be the title of one of Elton John’s classics from the 1970’s: “Sorry seems to be the hardest word.” In fact, I would venture to say that saying “I’m sorry” should be one of the simplest and easiest actions you can – and should – take.

What Elton John Gets Wrong … The “When” of Saying I’m Sorry

In listening to the song (and in particular, the lyrics) multiple times, I noticed that one stanza caught my attention and it goes…

It’s sad, so sad
Why can’t we talk it over?
Oh, it seems to me
That sorry seems to be the hardest word

Is it possible that Elton John (and songwriter Bernie Taupin) made a common human error in writing these lyrics? Namely, they didn’t lead with the apology.

Following the train of thought in the song, the lyrics say, “Why can’t we talk it over?” Then they go on to note that,sorry seems to be the hardest word.”

To me, the reason why we (or Elton) can’t talk it over is because we/Elton didn’t lead with “I’m sorry,” and then suggest “let’s talk it over.”

Sometimes it’s the order that matters.

The Simplicity of Saying I’m Sorry

Let’s put the song lyrics into a real-life situation. When I’m upset with someone, the last thing I want to do (at least initially) is to talk to them about it. So, ”why can’t we talk it over is not even in the cards in the beginning.

However, if that person gets in touch with me and simply says, “Hey bro, I’m sorry for whatever…” no reason or excuse is needed or wanted at that point. As a matter of fact, I think the less that is said the better, at least in my case.

In short, an apology doesn’t have to be long and drawn out. It doesn’t need to involve explanations about what happened or trying to make it up to someone. All it takes is a little self awareness, honesty and a few simple words: “I’m sorry.”

Why It’s So Important to Apologize

Anger, conflict etc. in your life creates internal turmoil and stresses the body. It’s as if you are walking around with a weighted vest on and that’s not healthy for the mind or body. That’s not good for either the person who made the mistake, or the person who was hurt by it.

When you have situations in your life where you did somebody wrong, find it in yourself to apologize. If this allows you to reset a relationship, great. And if the response to your outreach is negative, you will have peace of mind knowing that you did the right thing, and then move on and don’t look back.

How often in life can two simple words have so much impact?

It Is What It Is … But Is It Really?

I was thinking about a phrase that I first heard my Aunt Madeline say 20+ years ago…It is what it is. Within the last five years, this phrase has become fairly commonplace in both work and social settings. But is believing it potentially harmful and disabling? Let’s examine.

So What Does It Really Mean?

When I hear “It is what it is,” my mind immediately goes to the famous quote by Albert Einstein: “The definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results.”  

Sometimes, I also think about the famous Will Rogers quote: “If you find yourself in a hole, quit digging.”

There’s a theme here, and I’m not sure it’s a good one… It’s one of dejection and acceptance. That type of mentality doesn’t empower you to improve yourself or your life. It makes you feel like a victim.

Real Life Examples

Let’s say you are frustrated because you just can’t lose that extra weight you’ve been carrying around. Should you just give up and say, “It is what it is (i.e. there’s really nothing I can do about it)? Or is the answer to seek professional help to create a personalized plan to lose the desired weight?

How about your perceived dead-end job? Are you locked into this profession for the rest of your life because it is what it is? Or is there a possibility that your professional skill-sets and passion may be better suited for a different employer or career choice?

Then there is the “Ground Hog Day” of your love life. You know, where you experience the same less than desirable outcomes in your relationships over and over and over again. Are you destined for a life-time of unfulfilling relationships because it just is what it is? Or could it possibly be a question of changing your parameters to achieve a different end result?

The answers to these examples (at least to me) are obvious:  If you are unhappy with your weight, develop a nutrition program and exercise. If you are unhappy with your career, find a job that better suits your strengths and passions. And if you are unhappy with your relationship prospects, then raise the bar for yourself and your “target market.”

So, Is “It Is What It Is?” Harmful?

Here’s my perspective … It doesn’t matter whether it’s a health, professional or personal matter. I truly believe that you have the power to influence — if not control — the outcome of these scenarios.

I don’t buy into the helplessness of it is what it is.

If you’re unhappy with a certain aspects of your life, then there is no better time than the present to start making the desired change.

In these cases, I venture to say … it is what you make it.