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By Glenn Baja

Are you getting your act together? Do you find yourself struggling? Would you be interested in hearing seven ways to thrive?

Struggling sucks. Sometimes I struggle with writing. At times I’d rather be cleaning grubby pubic-infested restrooms at a crowded ballpark during the bottom of the eighth-inning than this. I swear it would be easier.

Have you ever worked at something for so long and then gone back to reread it and thought it was nothing but crap? That’s what writing can be like. It’s too cerebral or too heartfelt; too wordy or doesn’t have enough value; too negative or too positive; too… blah, blah, blah.

It can mess up your head.

All I really want to do at this point in life is to help people like and love themselves. It’s a tall order and one I’ve had plenty of personal challenges with. Low self-esteem and self-worth runs epidemic in our society. If I could help others with the internal “beat-yourself-up” downward spiral that gets so out of control I’d feel like I really helped. I could be sort of like the “ghostbusters” of low self-esteem. Yeah… I like that. I just need to get busy creating my weapon of low-self-worth annihilation and zap it out of people.

I could of used it on myself last night. I found myself in one of those crappy down-and-out “impatient with myself” moods. Next thing I know I’m feeling like shit. Should I continue trying to burrow my way through it or call it quits?

I went to bed.

Who Are We?

Reinventing myself has been one of the most trying task I’ve ever undertaken. Going from a mentally cushy job to one that requires discipline, planning, strategy, and focus has been incredibly challenging. At times it feels like I’m trying to make this tomato into a banana.

But is the tomato I believe I am truly who I am, or am I product of what I’ve been led and programmed to believe? You know what I mean? What if I’m truly the banana I’ve wished to be all along but didn’t know it? One that’s been led astray and has lost it’s sense and purpose of who it genuinely is.

I wonder if most all of us haven’t been led astray from who we truly are. So, if we’re all fruit living on this lovely planet called Earth, and we’ve all been programmed to believe we’re something different than who and what we think we are, what steps could we take to get ourselves back in touch with our true selves?

Stillness. I believe our answers lie within listening to the stillness of our lives… the stillness of our minds, our bodies, and the stillness of nature.

I was raised in a large metropolitan area where stillness wasn’t easily found. It certainly wasn’t apparent in the traffic congested streets, the endless miles of concrete and buildings, nor in the schools I attended where administrators agenda’s had clear precedence. Nowhere along the way did any teacher or school system take time to guide me towards that which I was naturally inclined. No… they had a curriculum and lessons that MUST be taught to everyone, and if you didn’t learn it, you’d fail.

And to fail was to feel like shit. Kids would look at you and laugh. You’d be called nasty names like stupid, loser, and idiot and be so embarrassed you couldn’t even look up at the person berating you.

Not unless you punched the jerk in the nose and took joy in watching it bleed…

But those words would settle, find a home, and make you feel like a piece of inadequate crap for a long time. For some, the rest of their lives. So many people today still haven’t raised their hurt eyes from the ground and looked up, still feeling the hurt and pain of inadequacy and not being “enough.” Being the last one chosen when picking sides in sports, not surviving the first round of the spelling bee, being told by the art teacher you’re a lousy artist, or being ridiculed at recess for misjudging the fly ball that was hit over your head.

The list goes on and on…

What We Can Do

The real shame is that this crap has ingrained itself in most of us in one way or another.  And, unless we’ve been able to dig our way out of this quagmire of self-defeating beliefs we’ve buried ourselves in, we’ll likely take it to our graves.

This is such a travesty to our lives and selves! Here we are, creatures, creators, and gods within our own right, believing we are inadequate, faulty, incomplete and deficient. As a result we’ve become vulnerable and susceptible to control and manipulation by others. And boy-oh-boy has that ever been taken advantage of!

We’ve, for the most part, become economic slaves of the ultra-wealthy. Those who control the money, the corporations, the politicians, the school systems, the armies, our food sources and our officials. And we’ve become followers and pursuers of the ego, where our drive for money, recognition, power, and control has become controlling agents and addictions in our lives. The drama, disharmony, discord, discontentment, and strife we see in the world today is a result of these beliefs and focus.

So where do we go from here? How do we thrive from here on out? How do we get back to our roots of love, caring, and helping ourselves and others? How do we empower ourselves, redirect our focus, and begin the process of healing and changing our lives, our communities, our nation, and eventually the world? Here’s seven ways:

  1. Meditate: Take time to feel and connect with the peace that resides beyond the relentless thoughts of the mind. Let yourself mellow-out at least once per day. Aim for 5-10 minutes when you first wake up. Find that quiet place to relax and consciously focus on your breathing. Repeat the word re-lease with the re- being the inhale through the nose and the lease (approximately twice as long time-wise as the inhale), being the exhale through the mouth. Let the busy thoughts of the mind come and go. Refocus on the breathing pattern whenever sidetracked.  Be patient and give yourself time. It’s well worth it. If you can’t seem to do it then get outside and find a quiet place for yourself.
  2. Get ego out of the way: Let go of that which isn’t truly important to success in life. Having the coolest car, a remarkable house, the gorgeous arm candy, lots of money in the bank, or the adoration and recognition of others isn’t important if we’re not really happy. Striving to have a nest-egg to pass on to our children may be a huge disservice if we’re subsidizing lost, shallow, egotistical souls who never have the opportunity to learn who they are or discover what’s important for themselves in life. Our greatest contributions and personal growth occurs by rising up and overcoming the challenges life throws our way. Work towards getting ego out of your life and quit passing your ego beliefs on to others.
  3. Listen to and follow your heart/intuition: Pay attention and start heeding your feelings. What is being conveyed to you from the silence within? We’ve all had experiences with our intuition and feelings speaking to us, usually with very positive results. Think of these as a glimpse into the God force that resides within. They are the leaders, the crusaders, the pioneers of your soul and, if followed, will lead you to your greatness that lies within.
  4. Find a partner and people who love, accept, and support you for who you are: This is one of the most empowering things you can do for yourself. If you’re lucky enough to of found a partner that shares your values, loves you for who you are, and is easy to be with, you’re one blessed person. If you have people whom you can openly and honestly communicate with, understands, and cares about you, you’ll be one of the happiest persons in the world. How do you find relationships like these? By being the type of person you’d need to be to attract people like this into your life. Think about that. What if you’re already in a long-term relationship that sucks and you feel you can’t get out of? Get help. If you don’t you’ll regret it like hell down the road. Make yourself happy regardless of the casualties involved. Most likely it will be the best thing for both of you.
  5. Live your life in the service of others: Set out to help others get what they need, want or desire. Make this your primary drive and purpose in life and the benefits will follow. Most importantly, the peace and fulfillment that helping others brings to you will make you feel like a million bucks. So what is it that you’d like to help others with? For many, it’s teaching what you’ve most struggled with in your own life. What’s your strengths, challenges, and the wisdom you’ve learned that you could help others with? You’re an expert in your own unique and special way and people out there are in great need of your words and perspective.
  6. Find your voice: You have a voice. Learn to speak up and use it. Believe in yourself, your strengths, and your wisdom. Become the person you wish to be. Stop compromising and keeping yourself small. It doesn’t serve you or anyone else. Find your courage and roar like a lion. And give yourself the freedom to screw up, fall down, pull yourself back up, and try it again. This is your road to growth and self discovery. Take the risk to be yourself.
  7. Have fun: Get out and let your hair down. Don’t buy into the idea that your old and the only way from here is down and out. It’s bullshit. But it’s true if you believe it to be and act that way. Stop trying to be what you’re not. Be the way you want without worrying what Tom, Dick, and Harry may think. That goes for Susie, Doris, and Mary too. Same thing applies to your spouse, family, and parents. Stop giving a damn what others may think and start living your life! Kick up your heels out on the dance floor, travel somewhere you’ve always wanted to, and bring healthy movement and exercise into your life. Be a kid again, play, and let those creative juices flow! Stop living your life in the image of what your parents and grandparents were like at your age. That’s the old retirement of the past. Wake up to the new!

Your path to successfully thriving lies in your hands. You will not find it outside of yourself, in the drama of life that pervades you, or through someone or something else. At the moment it may lie temporarily dormant, but it’s still very much alive, just waiting to be summoned, awakened, and placed into action regardless of your age!

Awake yourself to who you are, be it a banana, tomato, apple, or whatever. Spend the rest of your life growing, feeding, watering, and loving that person within. Sooner or later, with patience and perseverance, you will thrive in a manner that brings true joy and satisfaction to you in every imaginable way!

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