I was listening to a speaker who specializes in resiliency training. She told us resilience is the ability to bounce back.
Among the factors that enter into this are goals, intentions, mindset, mental and physical energy. A good reminder to take care of ourselves in all these areas came from her statement, “You are your number one asset.” The part of her presentation I found most interesting had to do with the practice of exercising our minds. I learned that when we do something differently we are creating new neural pathways. This is the equivalent of a gym workout for our brains.
Now, here comes the exciting news. When we exercise our brains we actually burn more calories. An example of this was that walking backwards burns ten times as many calories as walking forwards!
In other words, when I try something new, it’s good for me physically and mentally.
I think of all the times I chose to remain in my safe little comfort zone rather than stretching out of it to try new things. Little did I know how much was at stake. Not only was it more difficult to bounce back from the setbacks in life, I was robbing both my brain and my body of stimulation they needed to keep me healthy.
The next time I’m tempted to play it safe, I think I’ll walk backwards, create some new neural pathways and rethink that decision!
“People who soar are those who refuse to sit back, sigh and wish things would change. They neither complain of their lot nor passively dream of some distant ship coming in. Rather, they visualize in their minds that they are not quitters; they will not allow life’s circumstances to push them down and hold them under.” Charles Swindoll
The door to the pool changing room opened and a woman entered, holding the hand of a whimpering child. Mom was telling her young child that sometimes we all have to do things we don’t want to do. For good measure, she added, “Even adults.”
It didn’t take long to discover why the child wasn’t happy about attending swimming lessons. Mom said, “I know your last teacher wasn’t very nice, but you might have one this time you really like. You can’t judge this experience by what the last one was like.”
Wise words indeed! I know this is something I have been guilty of. When an experience is unpleasant, the last thing I want to do is repeat it. What I fail to remember is circumstances change which means the result may not be the same as in a previous encounter.
If I don’t want to let my past dictate my future, I need to have the courage to try again. There is nothing I can do about the past. What I do today will determine my future. It’s up to me to decide which one I’m going to focus on.
“Yesterday is not ours to recover, but tomorrow is ours to win or lose.” – Lyndon B. Johnson
“When one door closes, another opens; but we often look so long and so regretfully upon the closed door that we do not see the one which has opened for us.” – Alexander Graham Bell
Tentatively I stepped on the scales, hoping to see a lower number. After all, I’d cut out sugar, reduced my portion sizes and been drinking more water so the weight should be dropping off. It had been three whole days of this new regime and I figured the results should be starting to show.
Instead, there was no change. How could that be? Had I resisted the sugary treats for nothing?
It may sound ridiculous that I expected results in just a few short days, but that was my mindset. Since this new eating plan wasn’t giving me the desired results, maybe it wasn’t worth the effort. I could say, “Oh well, I tried” and go back to my old ways.
Something inside of me said I may have been expecting too much, so I didn’t quit. Over the next few weeks, the number on the scales would go down slightly one day and then be up again the next. I was disappointed until I thought about my clothing that wasn’t fitting quite as snugly as it had previously. Come to think of it, I’d had more energy and better focus lately, too.
This was a big lesson in perseverance. The benefit of doing what I knew was right even though it was challenging was not lost on me. I was proud of myself for not quitting when I failed to see instant rewards.
I may not have achieved the results I was looking for, but I did get what I needed. If I can use this as my inspiration to keep moving toward my goals and not let setbacks stop me, I’ll be able to reach much more than I thought possible.
Great works are performed not by strength, but perseverance. Samuel Johnson
After a stretch of frigid cold and mounting snow, the temperature soared to above freezing. The clear blue sky and bright sunshine lured my husband and me out for a walk.
We headed to the environmental reserve a few blocks away. The paved pathway had been cleared of snow which made the walk less challenging than I’d feared. The air was crisp and clear and we were happy to be outside rather than cooped up in the house.
As we rounded a bend, a large section of the path was covered with drifting snow. This was the result of high winds during the night. The same Chinook winds that blew in the warmer temperature were responsible for obscuring the path.
Carefully I picked my way across the mounds of white. There were areas that stayed firm beneath my feet and others that gave way, causing me to sink. Nothing in the appearance of the drifts let me know which case I’d be facing.
As I navigate my way through life, I am not always sure if the path I’m walking is safe. My firm footing may suddenly give way, causing me to slip. There are other times when what looks uncertain may actually be the best route.
How do I determine which way to go? I have learned that my judgment is not always accurate. By trusting the Lord and asking him to direct me, I can have confidence my steps will be secure.
“Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and do not rely on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make your paths smooth.” Proverbs 3:5-6 GWT
Although I couldn’t see anyone, the voices from a nearby changing room could be heard clearly.
It sounded like a mother and child. Mom was engaging her child in cheerful conversation. “Can you count? How old will you be on your birthday?” A happy little voice answered, “Three!”
Moments later the mom said, “Do you need some help?” The answer that quickly followed was, “No, I got dis.”
I chuckled as I thought of young children asserting their independence by wanting to do everything by themselves. Even though they need help, they struggle through on their own. It takes patience to stand by and watch when we know we could make things so much easier for them.
I know that I am still guilty of this type of behaviour. Even when assistance is readily available, I don’t ask for it. Isn’t asking for help a sign of weakness? Actually, it’s more a sign of strength. It takes self-confidence to admit I could use help. In many cases, refusing help denies someone of the pleasure they would receive from assisting me.
God is always ready and willing to help. He shows immeasurable patience to watch me struggle with my independence and not call out to him. He is able to do much more than I could ever hope or imagine on my own. When I truly understand this, I let go of my stubborn pride and call out to him.
His wisdom will guide me through any situation I may encounter. Knowing this, it would be foolish to say, “No thanks, I’ve got this!”
If any of you needs wisdom to know what you should do, you should ask God, and he will give it to you. God is generous to everyone and doesn’t find fault with them. (James 1:5 GWT)
The exercise class had just started when the instructor called out, “Don’t worry about what the person beside you is doing; this is YOUR workout.”
Immediately my mind went to times when I have judged my progress by how I felt others were doing. This holds for life as well as exercise. It doesn’t really matter if their example was positive or negative. The point is this is my life I’m living and not someone else’s. I am the only one responsible for my experience.
I was still thinking about this when I heard the words, “Reach forward. Life doesn’t just come to you; you have to reach for it.” This nugget of wisdom hit me hard. Too often I expect what I want to be within my grasp. Most of the time, this isn’t the case. I need to stretch myself and reach for my dreams and goals. They may seem far away but unless I reach for them I’ll never know how close I can come.
After one burst of intense activity, the instructor said, “Don’t hold your breath; you’ve got to breathe through this.” Wow, she did it again! Maybe I was listening in a different way but I was receiving some wise words to help me navigate life.
The phrase “Don’t hold your breath” is something said to indicate an event is not likely to happen. Some of the dreams I have for my life are so big that others may think they are not likely to happen. Other events are intimidating and have me holding breath, hoping to survive. No matter which case this may be for me, I need to remember to keep breathing. If I just take one step at a time I will keep moving toward where I’m supposed to be.
As the class came to an end I realized it wasn’t just my body that had a good workout. My mind will stay active for quite some time as I reflect on the words that exercised my mind as well.
“How much better to get wisdom than gold, to get insight rather than silver.” Proverbs 16:6 NIV
Recently I took an enjoyable stroll down memory lane. My husband and I were sorting through a box of old photographs. These were the kind of pictures where we didn’t know exactly what was captured on film until it was developed. Not like the digital ones today where we know exactly what we’re getting.
Some were better quality than others but all held precious memories. It was like having the lives of our children flash before our eyes. One minute they were babies, the next they were teenagers. Today they have children of their own. Stories and laughter abounded as we recalled events over the past few decades.
As I looked at the photos, I was struck as much by what was missing as what was there. When our children were little we spent countless hours with them. This is evidenced by the number of pictures from those years.
Just as we didn’t know how the pictures on the roll of film would develop, we also didn’t know how our lives would develop. There are chunks of time not accounted for in the photographic history of our family life. I like to think it was just the camera that was missing and not my presence in their lives. That may not always have been the case.
Time passes swiftly and looking at these pictures, I was reminded of the importance of quality time spent with our loved ones. My goal is to ensure the legacy I leave will be one of pleasant memories.
“Each day of our lives we make deposits in the memory banks of our children.” ~ Charles R. Swindoll
“Look at all the new houses,” I said to my husband. “Our city is growing so quickly it’s pushing its boundaries to the limit.”
Our conversation quickly moved in a direction other than the rapid expansion of our city. In our lives, we push boundaries on a regular basis.
I need to constantly push the boundaries of my comfort zone. New experiences can be intimidating. The more I force myself to stretch and try new things, the less uncomfortable they become. This type of expanding my boundaries is healthy.
There are other types of boundary pushing that are not so good. They fall into what is referred to as a grey area. Little white lies would fit into this category. They may seem harmless but I am pushing the boundaries of my conscience. Before long the grey area becomes commonplace and I no longer have a problem with it.
Gradually I push even further and one day realize I’ve moved from harmless to unacceptable. My thoughts and actions have become mired as if in quicksand. How do I get to a safe, healthy place again?
When I call out to Jesus, he reaches his hand to rescue me. He pulls me from the muck and mire and gives me a firm place to stand. By keeping my eyes on him rather than the distractions of the world I will ensure my boundaries are safe.
He lifted me out of the slimy pit, out of the mud and mire; he set my feet on a rock and gave me a firm place to stand. (Psalm 40:2 NIV)
My daughter was given a lovely candle in a glass jar. This wasn’t an ordinary candle but one with a secret inside.
A foil pouch was buried somewhere deep within the wax. There was hidden treasure that took patience to uncover. The candle itself had a pleasing aroma and was more than just the medium to hold the surprise. It was part of the gift.
When the candle burned down enough to see the foil pouch, the excitement mounted. It was still firmly embedded so still not quite ready to retrieve. Oh, the anticipation!
Eventually, the pouch was removed and opened. A beautiful ring was inside. It had been worth the wait.
When I was reflecting on this I thought of the hidden treasure inside each of us. There have been times I knew there must be more to life than what I’ve experienced. Like the new candle, I examine my life and wonder what else it might hold.
Buried deep inside are passions, abilities and many others gifts I wasn’t fully aware of. The hidden treasure only started to show itself when I allowed the love of Jesus to soften my heart. When I put my trust in Jesus the gifts he’s given me are free to emerge.
What Jesus has done in my life is wonderful but it can’t hold a candle to the treasure I’ve found in my relationship with him.
We now have this light shining in our hearts, but we ourselves are like fragile clay jars containing this great treasure. This makes it clear that our great power is from God, not from ourselves. (2 Corinthians 4:7 NLT)