Sunday, January 24, 2016

Put down that smartphone and LIVE in the moment!

I will be the first to admit that too often my iPhone takes my focus away from what is actually happening around me. Yes, I’m great at using my camera phone but as my wife would say why don’t you look up and see the incredible sunset instead of texting or checking the latest status update on FB or LinkedIn. What happened to actually engaging someone in a real conversation? I know that the attention span of most is unfortunately just a few minutes because of our high tech hyperactivity.

I’m fortunate to be around a lot of seniors that don’t have cell phones and yearn for just an ear to listen, a smile and a warm handshake. So why do we, myself included, have to be so busy and too quick to have our iPhones attached to our hands and can’t just disconnect from social media and our business to actually enjoy a real conversation? What’s the big deal about the latest celeb hype or the playoffs in the NFL? Does my life really depend upon the outcome of the Superbowl?

What happened to investing in real friendships where the focus isn’t on a smart phone but the other person’s expressions? This hit home the other day when my wife in tears expressed how she loved our New Year’s Eve celebration that was just being at home by ourselves without any distractions. I know that for most type A’s, this is who I am, that it is so difficult to be still and let go believing that the world can go on without me. I had this incredible sense of enjoyment last night when I sat on our backyard patio looking at the palm trees we had just planted.

I did the Rock and Roll ½ Marathon last weekend and what stood out was how a large group of people, over 25K, were able to walk, jog and run without having their smartphones attached to their ears. Instead the focus was on a significant cause, raising funds to fight cancer and remember a loved one who had battled cancer. This has become a yearly practice for me, as I purposely want to remember my mom and her battle with cancer over the last decade.

I can’t fathom my mom’s response to me if during her last few months I had sat with her on the couch with my iPhone stuck to my face. I can hear my mom saying to me that if I really wanted to be with her I would put down that ‘damn’ cell phone and give her my full attention ‘eye ball to eye ball’.

Time to live in the moment instead of trying to get the perfect picture to remember something that I really didn’t see because I was too busy trying to capture the moment.  Thanks mom for helping me see that old school is really old!

Saturday, January 16, 2016

What defines your life? Karma or Grace? Listen to Bono explain.

If you were to step back for a few and be totally honest I think you will agree that most people live their lives according to Karma. I think most regardless of age or background believe that people ultimately deserve what they get. If you are a nice person then clearly nice things will come your way of if you are that sinister bad type of person than a ‘crappy’ life awaits you.

The difficulty with this mentality is that too often bad people win and good people lose.  It shocks me at times how some of my friends live in the revenge get even mindset where the second you push them the wrong way they are ready to go after you.  I know that patience and forgiveness can only go so far with this type of mindset when someone will give you a few chances to do it right before they totally write you off.

Over the last week there has been a bus strike in Phoenix that has caused my wife and I to be taxi service to a large group of students and adults. We don’t mind doing this for a short period of time. The challenge was that a couple of times something happened, miscommunication, where we went to pick someone up and they had already gotten a ride or their phone was off and there was no way for us to know they were ready to get picked up. This scenario could have caused long term heartache if there wasn’t a grace-centered approach to life on all ends!

I’m so appreciative of Bono from U2 to help delineate the difference between grace and karma and what defines his life and so much hope defines your life!

Bono’s take on grace: “It’s a mind-blowing concept that the God who created the Universe might be looking for company, a real relationship with people, but the thing that keeps me on my knees is the difference between Grace and Karma…
You see, at the centre of all religions is the idea of Karma. You know, what you put out comes back to you; an eye for an eye, a tooth for a tooth, or in physics – in physical laws – every action is met by an equal or opposite one.  Its clear to me that Karma is at the very heart of the universe.  I’m absolutely sure of it.

And yet, along comes this idea called Grace to upend all that “As you reap, so will you sow” stuff.  Grace defies reason and logic. Love interrupts, if you like, the consequences of your actions, which in my case is very good news indeed, because I’ve done a lot of stupid stuff.

That’s between me and God. But I’d be in big trouble if Karma was going to finally be my judge. I’d be in deep shit. It doesn’t excuse my mistakes, but I’m holding out for Grace. I’m holding out that Jesus took my sins onto the Cross because I know who I am, and I hope I don’t have to depend on my own religiosity.

 So what defines your life?

Wednesday, January 6, 2016

Important Life Lessons!

I was shocked and impressed when one of my teens posted on FB the following learn how to pic that stated; learn how to have fun without alcohol, talk without cell phones, dream without drugs, smile without selfies and love without conditions. What was more interesting the same day was listening to a 35 year old friend talk about the difficulty with his generation’s inability to enjoy life without alcohol, social media, smartphones, being selfish and learning to live for others. I got a good laugh because I could be this guy’s dad and totally agreed about the selfish nature not just of his gen but mine also.

I know that with the college football big game and Super Bowl around the corner the major beer companies would die if everyone would discover that you could actually enjoy a game without getting sloshed! Yet, the challenge for many is that we don’t know how to live without entertaining ourselves with alcohol, drugs, social media and have lost the ability to dream about a better life that has less to do with your income than how your life impacts the lives of others.

So how does someone learn to live life in the truest fashion without all of these various crutches or aids? I can’t fathom what would happen in my life if I were forced to stop texting or e-mailing and had to actually talk to someone face to face? Regardless of someone’s age, social status or life interest we all share the common need to be noticed, loved and appreciated. Yet too often the celeb, sport’s figure or big time CEO type leaves the impression on the normal person that something must be missing in our lives because we aren’t like them.

I recently finished listening to a TED talk; I confess this wasn’t as good as being there in person.  The person who was featured, Susan Cain, shared her life story about the struggle of feeling left out of the world of extroverts because she would rather read a book and be alone than in a crowd of loud mouths. I will always remember the first night in my college dorm when I choose not to go out with a few HS friends who got totally smashed. There was this loud banging at my dorm room door at one am with a good friend who was too inebriated to put his key in his door. Looking back my friend laughed at my sleeping attire when in reality I was the one that got the chuckle out of the effects of over consumption of beer that night.

Ms. Cain’s story on this TED talk helped highlight our need as a society to continue to push the one size fits all mindset, especially when it comes to the perception that real leadership can only happen if you are the loud mouth pushy type of person. Her story highlighted the fact that it’s possible to make it to the top without being the pushy loud mouth, drinker type, self absorbed type and instead show that it’s possible to care for someone, who is different from you without attempting to make them be like you.

So what would actually happened if for a day or two all of us decided to put down the beer can, smart phone and choose not to post on FB, Twitter or Instagram? Is it possible to go for a day without doing a selfie? I can’t fathom the impact that the upcoming generation would have on my generation if they actually made the effort to visit a parent, grandparent or friend instead of texting! I know that one of the common complaints of my better half is not taking the time to communicate in a face-to-face fashion.

What has been hilarious is watching one of my teens that is living with us all of a sudden put down his iPhone 6s Plus and look at my invertebrate Salt Water Tank. All of a sudden he’s entered into a totally different world. I get this text from him about the fact that the sea anemone was moving or that one of the fish appeared to be missing. It’s fascinating to watch him be absorbed in the world of the sea below us.

So I believe it is possible to learn how to live without all of the high tech gadgets for at least a few minutes and discover the beauty of a smile without alcohol and being stimulated by a great conversation as someone loves you just for who you are instead of trying to make you conform to their image. J