Playing with TNT: guys or girls night out

I’ve always been of the opinion that guys or girls nights can cause major problems, as can work conferences. Mixing isolation away from the wife or husband, along with alcohol, along with maybe a hotel room and plausible deniability as to your whereabouts can lead to poor decision making. Even if you yourself really love your wife, or your wife you, sometimes the flattery of that hot guy or girl, along with the liquid retard-maker that alcohol is, can lead to a one-time poor decision that can crater something that is 15 or 25 years in the bank. I’ve seen it happen. Movies like Cedar Rapids are more reality than fiction, though obviously most people at conferences behave themselves. It’s what made me uncomfortable with some of my wife’s past jobs, where work conferences and late night marketing events were common. I’ve posted about it here and here if you feel like reading more on that topic.

Anyways, readers know I love my wife, and we have a very solid marriage and sex life. Even still, I’m not immune to biology and like a man am wired to appreciate feminine beauty and youth, as well as the dopamine drip that can come along with it. So let me tell a story to illustrate how even good men and women can get tempted.

Over the weekend I went out for an event with two friends that we had free tickets for. Afterwards, we went out to the local pubs since, as married men with busy family lives, we don’t often get a night out to just have fun. Sad but true. It wasn’t a planned Guy’s Night Out, but after our event it turned into one, hitting the local towny bars. Despite living two years in my town, I hadn’t been to two out of the three bars we went to that evening.

One of guys we went out with is in sales and can make friends with anyone and is on the extreme end of the extrovert scale. He’s a good lucking guy, and dresses like a conservative dad. The other friend is a little quieter in social situations until he gets warmed up – quiet confidence, and is a little thicker. He came from work (owns his own business), so was dressed conservatively. Me – I look about 10 years younger than my age, and dress very casual. That night I was wearing t-shirt with a red hoody, jeans, Adidas Gazelles (a shoe style that I’ve worn for 25 years – love ‘em), scruffed up hair. Not really trying, just wear what I wear. Like my own situation, both have good looking wives, and are committed to their marriages and kids.

So after finishing watching some college football at Bar#1, we headed to Bar#2. Loud, thumping music with a “DJ” playing music from 80’s to today. Social friend starts talking with a couple of young women probably mid-20’s at the adjacent table – one a very cute blond, one a decent looking brunette with a big nose. They looked sort of like this:

Like this, but with a small mole above her lip -sorta like Cindy Crawford

Like this, but with a small mole above her lip -sorta like Cindy Crawford

Sort of like this, but with shorter hair

Sort of like this, but with shorter hair

So we start talking with these women who are 15 years younger than us. I apparently hit it off pretty solid with the blond, who is closest to me, while Mr. Social is making friends with the brunette. Very early on in the convo blondie notices I’m not wearing a wedding ring (as I’ve noted elsewhere, I haven’t worn a ring for a few years [Holly wears hers though]. My reason was initially due to finger dermatitis that irritated my fingers when wearing a ring, but since cleared up, my fat fingers don’t fit the ring I had sized 30 lbs ago. This situation actually supports the fact that I need to get it resized). She makes a statement to the fact that she was surprised I wasn’t already “taken,” notes my lack of ring, and asks if I’m married. I state that I am but don’t wear my ring, and Mr. Social says we were just talking about this topic and were giving me shit over the fact. Doesn’t seem to impact the cute blond’s apparent interest in me as she’s very chatty, and even I can tell she’s into me. Now, due to my life circumstances I don’t deal with this type of thing that often, and my ego swells. The girl is very hot. Even us married guys get reduced to 16 year old horny boys who are thinking “pretty girl likes me; I could totally hit that if I wasn’t married,” especially after a few beverages.

The girls were meeting some friends at Bar#4, a few places down, so the five us us head out to Bar#3 next door, somewhere we were planning on going anyway. We’re enjoying the company, and I’m enjoying the attention. We do some shots, but my guys and me know that more drinking, and more bar time, is a bad idea and head out. The girls head to the next bar before we left, and I could tell blondie was disappointed we (me?) weren’t going there too, asking if we’d change our mind. Not a chance.

So that was our night. A few more (bad) decisions, a few more drinks, and bam — you find yourself thinking with the wrong head despite your best intentions. Again, I’ve seen it happen. You need to take efforts to protect yourself from yourself. My friends are morally solid and are a good support network. Even if I had wanted to start going down the wrong path, they wouldn’t have let me, nor me them. They say you are the average of the five people you hang around the most, these are two on that list. I’ve found myself in situations like this before (even if you don’t seek them out, sometimes they just happen), and have always done the right thing, but it doesn’t mean I’m not weak. I’m a man, and even at our best we are weak. Staying away from drinking in these situations is a good start. Staying with moral friends and not isolating yourself is another key aspect. If you keep these three rules in mind, you’ll end up doing the right thing (at least most of the time):

  1. Don’t drink too much
  2. Don’t let yourself get isolated with members of the opposite sex (especially those you find attractive or who find you attractive) when out in social situations where drinking is involved
  3. Surround yourself with people of similar moral gumption – going out with your recently divorced friend with a history of infidelity is the opposite of who you want for your wingman or woman. When you or they start to make bad decisions, reeling in the party going off the tracks is part of helping a friend.

Bottom line, it is flattering to have a sexy person be into you, and you can create a whole fantasy life on this single event. Better to keep it a fantasy, stop drinking, leave the situation, and later show your wife how hot you still are for her, than to keep drinking and make your fantasy into your worst nightmare.

Coming up for air

When I brought the rental car back after a six day work trip, the odometer read 1621 miles. It’s been a long week, but I’m actually in a better mood than I have been in awhile. I’m wrapping up some loose ends, taking care of business, and extracting myself from a toxic work situation with diplomacy and tact. And I’m taking a day off to recharge and recover. Weekend plans include getting a new suit for a job interview next week, rehab on some soft tissue that’s misbehaving, working out with a good friend, pumpkin patch and corn maze, kids soccer games, apple picking, wine making (pineapple this time), camping in the living room (complete with tent), and a scheduled hangout with a good friend that is long overdue. Good times all around.

My wife and kids are happy I’m finally home, and sometimes it really is “absence makes the heart grow fonder.” No one will accuse me of having my priorities out of whack. I was talking with one of my work mates on the drive back about marriages that fall apart or drift apart due to work. We know of several high work achievers that let their work-family balance get pretty far out of line, with the end goal in their world being very different than mine. My world is a world of “enough.” Enough financial stability, enough things, enough stability. Working longer hours to have more of those things usually results in having less. You’re constantly chasing something that cannot be achieved, instead of enjoying what you already have.

work life balance ball

My wife puts more emphasis on salary than me, as she sees that as a reflection on her value as a person or employee. Research has shown that once you meet a salary that allows you to have the basic necessities (house, food, clothing for example) and enough to support supplemental endeavors (like some sort of vacation, entertainment, and “toys”), having MORE does not equate to more happiness. Maybe you could go on “nicer” vacations, or have more toys, or a more expensive car, but in the grand scheme of things a $120,000 a year income isn’t that different than $75,000 – both can be Enough if you don’t overextend yourself.

In the past, I’ve occasionally changed jobs by choice to make less money when the future opportunity or fit or position was better than the one I had. And that has ALWAYS been the right decision. As I settled into those situations, I was promoted quickly and my earnings became higher than the position I left. But even if that hadn’t been the case, it still would have been right for me simply for the increase in skills, keeping things fresh in motivation, or other benefits Position B offered over Position A. As Holly and I discussed the salary range of the upcoming position I’m interviewing for, in her mind, it isn’t worth me leaving my current job (that has become stagnant, and I’m afraid of being pigeon-holed in) for a new one unless I’m making more money. I disagree on that point, recognizing that we have Enough right now, we would have Enough whether I make $10,000 less or $10,000 more, and also recognizing happiness or worth cannot be defined by money alone.

I liked this blog post from a CEO who resigned due to life imbalance, choosing family and fulfilling work over the big paycheck. Resigning, he wrote:

I recognize that by writing this I may be disqualifying myself from some future CEO role. Will that cost me tens of millions of dollars someday? Maybe. Life is about choices. Right now, I choose to spend more time with my family and am confident that I can continue to have an meaningful and rewarding work life while doing so. At first, it seemed like a hard choice, but the more I have sat with the choice the more certain I am that it is the right choice.

I know that things always work out in my life. To me, it’s not an IF statement, but a fundamental truth. Holly feels the same way. We are convinced of this fact, and it becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy. We have ups and downs. Anxiety and stress. But mostly we have Love, Happiness, and Abundance. As I come up for air after a brief period of insanity, I know things are always moving in the right direction, even if we don’t know how or why. And despite the fact that stressful times often kill motivation for pursuit of dreams and implementation of creative ideas, we (I) need to continue to fight for those things one small step at a time. Because one week of not eating well or exercising or [insert life goal or dream here] may not be a big deal, but one week often becomes one month, which spirals. And before you know it, you haven’t played guitar or painted or written anything in 2 years. Do those small things that keep you moving in the right direction, even if you don’t really feel like it, and enjoy the process, celebrating the small victories along the way. Happy Friday!

small victories

high five

How to deal with a sleeper creeper?

I haven’t been posting much content recently, just been too busy. I’m in the middle of a stretch of meetings in four different states  on four consecutive work days. Some posts I want to get to, but just need some time. Writing this one in a hotel tonight.

Anyways, in my personal family/kid/wife life, we are dealing with a sleeper creeper. Seven year old Loudboy will get up to go to the bathroom at night, usually between 2 and 4 AM, and then creep into our marital bed. I’m pretty sure I’ve mentioned this before, and sure you all gave me good advice, but it is still a minor marital disagreement in the philosophy.

family_bed

Loudboy has always been a bad sleeper, even since he was a baby. For whatever reason, he is anxious going to bed or falling asleep, wakes up, and wants to be comforted. He was a bed wetter until maybe a year ago, so that may have contributed some. And now he wakes up to go to the bathroom, which is good. An old thunderstorm white-noise CD I had helps him go to sleep now, and if I wake up while he’s sneaking in, I tuck him back in and he usually is fine. But if I don’t wake up, there he is in the morning, like Groundhog Day.

Now Holly and I disagree on the parenting approach. I think we need to take a harder stance on the creeper, to the point of locking the door (since talking to him about not coming in doesn’t seem to work). Nights I have locked the door, he knocks, I put him back to bed, and then the next night(s) he is anxious about the whole situation. He’s a more sensitive and high-strung kid than his sister. She will come in about once every 3 months with a nightmare, which I am ok with. Kid being a kid.

So we are/were somewhat hippyish parents. Did the whole cosleeping thing with the kids for most of their first year while they were infants for breastfeeding purposes. My wife (especially) and I are big on snuggling with the kids, and want them to have a loving environment to grow up in. We also both recognize these snuggly, small kid moments are fleeting, so value them a lot. But it’s a fine line to walk, and every night of a sleeper creeper is too much for me. Holly said she used to do the same thing when she was a kid, and I never did this (with parents that didn’t show that much affection), so our perspectives are very different. I don’t think either of us is wrong, and family beds are apparently pretty common in other cultures.

We still get sexy times, so this situation isn’t impacting that, just sometimes better sleep (Loudboy moves a lot in his sleep). This study found kids who sneak into bed are less likely to be fat, so at least we have that going for us. Which is nice. Personally, I think it’s just a phase, but one I don’t want lasting for too long.

This funny (and clean) song describes my life, including the mix-breed dog part:

Motivation

Spend 6 minutes and watch this. There are no overnight successes, so make today better than yesterday and build on all those past yesterdays.  You can change your world, one small step at a time.

Sorry to say, your problems aren’t really that big

I was walking Dum-Dum the dog tonight where the stars sparkled like diamonds. I had just received an e-mail at 9 pm (very late for our business) from a client (that I pretty-much hate) that covertly accused me of not making an outside vendor do, what an outside vendor said he was going to do – something out of my control. A bullshit (covert, and passive aggressive) accusation all around. Up to this point, I was having a great overall day, fun night with the kids, reading positive books, and in a very positive mood. That was briefly shattered, and why I really try not to check work e-mails at home.

So while I actually reflected on life, while Dum-Dum was pooping, I thought to myself (like I oftentimes do), “Why the Fuck do you Care what fuck-head thinks? You have a great life!” So true. As I pondered the 300 billion stars in our galaxygalaxy1 (1) (even picking out a few constellations tonight, like the Big Dipper and Orion [so amateur]) I thought about how even the biggest problems in our own life, are so insignificant in the grand scheme of things, or the Universe.

Not to rain on those who are in a rough spot, but your Divorce pain will pass, and new beginnings are out there. Your job loss is likely super taxing and sucks immensely, but you will persevere in some way you didn’t think. Death is part of life – it’s very painful, but it will galvanize some other means within you. Not having the best week? Suck it up and try to stay positive.

If you look at the big picture (and I hope you do, at least from time to time – it doesn’t need to be God [though it very well could be], but something outside of you and a bigger aspect of society), you’ll see that A) your own problems will pass B) your own problems are not that significant in the Bigger Picture and C) As Bob Marley said, “everything little thing, gonna be all right.”

bobmarleydontworryaboutathing

So as I see with friends and co-workers, how do the problems stop?

First, stop denying there is a problem. Being honest that your own drama brings about the crap in your life. It’s hard to say it’s your fault, but most of the times it is. Not other people. You.

Second. Once you admit you have an issue, start to develop small goals to deal with it. With my coaching clients, they may not consciously recognize the bigger issue, but despite that, they start setting and accomplishing small goals to improve the big picture so they can face their fears one day with their sea-legs underneath them. Until your problem is out there, you can’t make improvement though. Surrender to your weakness and be redeemed.

Third, fight and motivate yourself to make your goals happen. The perseverance and grit you show will instrumentally increase both your sense of accomplishment and your happiness. You can’t really taste and feel the glory of what a successful effort is if you haven’t slogged to Mordor to obtain it. Hard work is a large part of self fulfillment.

I will always have problems, and so will you. Mental reframing can help you see them in a different way, and hopefully let you find some shred of good in the situation. Like maybe your problem makes you a stronger person, or teaches you to handle conflict. In the grand scheme though, if you take a step back, you’re problem is probably not that big. I’m sure it’s big to you, but if you mentioned it to 10 random people, would they see it in the same magnitude you do? Probably not.

Stay strong my friends, and let your problems go. This too shall pass.

This dog has let go of all his problems - meditation helps

This dog has let go of all his problems – meditation helps


Minivan is a four letter word

If you want to throw chum in the water and watch the tension rise in my house, just say the word “minivan.” For a variety of reasons, it has become a hot topic in our house, with my wife and I on opposing teams.

minivan

We live in suburbia, where minivans are commonplace. Our most frequented neighbors both have one, and I’m not sure if it’s the brainwashing that happens when you see others having something, but Holly has been insistent that a minivan is in our future. I am insistent it is not. We have two kids (no plans for more), and accordingly our sedan and small SUV fit our needs probably 98% of the time. Our vehicles strategy is to pay them off as fast as possible, and drive them into the ground – which usually means between 150,000-200,000 miles before safety or reliability are compromised. By that rationale, we both have vehicles with long life ahead, with her 2007 the next one to be replaced but my estimation is that it easily has 3 years of good miles left.

So my lovely wife, by bringing up the minivan topic, irks me in two main ways. First, most of the time, we don’t need a minivan. On occasion, when we do need space for an extra kid, or adult, things get a little tight. And camping is especially full, but those events are fairly infrequent. Second, as a frugal dude, buying a clown car, especially one that is on the pricier end (when we have two paid off cars), really chaps my ass. I’ve offered to let her drive my newish car, and I’d take  hers, but it doesn’t sound like that’s an option for her. So we’re at a stalemate, and this is not something that will be resolved anytime soon.

cheetah-minivan_o_2554501

The fact that minivans are not “cool” doesn’t bother me really. They are functional and for that, it makes sense. Especially if you have a large family. She did show me that a new version of the microbus may be coming back, which isn’t as bad as a normal minivan. But still, why?! Why Holly, why?!

VW microbusvw-walker

 

Any other people struggle with the minivan dilemma, especially with just two or one kid?

Pitching to the Universe

I was listening to one of Mike Dooley‘s books on a recent work trip, and I thought he put something I’ve been thinking in an interesting way that made sense. Hopefully you all realize by now that my outlook on life is a positive one. I think you can gain a lot of insight and knowledge mining the depths of the Manosphere especially if you’re struggling in a relationship gone sour and are looking for answers. But when you progress to a certain point in your life and relationships, the negativity gets to be a lot of dark noise, like watching the news on any given day. Prone to hyperbole and tending to focus on the bad instead of the good, it usually is good to just let it pass by without giving it undue attention to your individual situation – again, once you have the big elephants addressed and understand a few of the basic premises. I can tell others like Bold and Determined are trying to rise above the fray as well and focus more on life improvements. While I’ll mix it up from time to time, and throw some chum in the water, mostly I’m about positivity and improvement.

So, like an NFL team who is constantly trying to get better and churning over the players at the bottom of the roster, that’s what I believe most of us are trying to do with weak areas of our life. Maybe it’s mostly good, but you have that one or two things that you know aren’t where you’d like them to be yet. What’s really been interesting, is as I talk with other men about issues is how many are looking to find their passion or mission in life. I have heard the phrase “I still don’t know what I want to be when I grow up” several times over the last few months from dudes around 40. To some degree, I have struggled with that as well.

Which brings me to the phrase I heard on that audiobook: ” Pitching to the Universe.” If you are trying to improve in your life, or find a partner, or find your passion and don’t know what it is, most of the time simply doing ANYTHING is the right answer. We aren’t sitting at home plate with our single At Bat in life, swinging for the home run. If that was the case, if you missed that one chance or opportunity, you would be SOL (shit out of luck). Most of us will never hit that home run. We won’t knock it out of the park. Instead, think of ourselves as the Pitcher of Opportunity, and simply the Universe as the hitter. By doing lots of little things (throwing a lot of pitches), you’ll likely see a lot of singles. Singles still drive in runs and pretty soon you’ve got a nice scoreboard to look at.

Not everything is going to work as you’re trying new things. Maybe that diet isn’t right for you. But by trying that diet you learn about Paleo or CrossFit, which does work to make you look and feel better. Or maybe that workout class ended up providing less than ideal results, or you decided it was too expensive. But by doing it you made a new friend that leads to another opportunity. Or maybe your first attempt at your side hustle doesn’t work, but by doing so your life takes a new direction and you find more passion and happiness. By continuing to throw pitches, you’re creating more opportunities to present themselves. And maybe one day, the need to churn the parts that cause you pain diminish and you’re passion can come out to play. The funny thing is, if you were to step back and look at your life right now, and compare it to say, 5 or 10 years ago, you will say “Holy shit! I really have made it! I may still strive for more, but man, I have an AWESOME life!” Appreciation. Gratitude. Don’t forget those things too.

I had lunch with a friend I hadn’t seen in a while last week. We were both commiserating a little about our lack of feeling purpose or engagement in our current professional roles. But when I started telling him about this blog, and the book, and about my next “Big Thing” I have planned. In simply talking about some of my passions, I felt my spirit and energy rise and I instantly felt better. In doing my passions, I always feel great – both in the moment and afterward. I have a ways to go, but passion is seen more and more in my life.

I know I’m on the right path to finding my own purpose in this life. Starting this blog was one pitch I threw. Reading Athol Kay’s book was one pitch I threw. Reading a variety of books and engaging with some of you are pitches. Taking a  boxing class was a pitch, as was rolling BJJ with a friend. Doing the Citizen’s Police Academy was a pitch. Even paying that extra $100-200 a month on my mortgage could be a pitch. A lot of singles, with questionable short-term purpose besides just doing something. The Red Pill in it’s entirety was probably a triple that drove in some runs. But all of these seemingly random pitches don’t really appear to be amounting to any one thing on the surface with any regularity, but taken together, they are galvanizing my life and opening up different thoughts in my head. That’s in addition to leading to new experiences and relationships which is a reward itself.

I’m not exactly sure yet how it will play out, but I do have a rough map in my head, and if it goes in a different direction, I’m sure it will turn out well too. For you too, you may question why you are signing up for a salsa class, or learning about photography on a whim, but you can’t see the future, and more than likely, these small, seemingly random, activities will be stepping stones to something more. So keep throwing pitches. Apathy and inactivity is the opposite of this approach, so do ANYTHING to keep moving. Happy Friday.

Friday Note - the Universe

Girls in Nerd (Hipster) Glasses – Please Stop

Occasionally I do a fashion post, so I’ll introduce it a little. I appreciate men’s fashion and try to look somewhat stylish while going out. Anyway, I talked about Mom Jorts here, and a general Men’s Style post here. I’m not the fashion police or anything, but think many men could take a little more effort in appearance. And while I don’t understand women’s fashion, most of it I think are fine. I thought the giant sunglasses thing that started a while back was interesting, but I’ve come around on that. One thing I will not come around on is the large hipster black rimmed glasses on men or women.

I was at lunch last week and saw two girls and a guy in basically identical outfits: tight pants, some kind of button down, and large black rimmed hipster glasses. Most girls who try and pull the look off fail so bad, and look like this:

nerdieor like this

Hipster-Glasseshipster glasses

Women will be as attractive as they are, but please, lose the hipster glasses. Both these women below (one is Kate Upton) would look better without them (and Kate’s glasses really aren’t that bad, but are borderline large). Why you’d want to take attention away from nice facial features and get people to focus on an ugly accessory is beyond me. Maybe someone can explain it to me.

kate-upton nerd

would look better without glasses, or smaller ones at least

would look better without glasses, or smaller ones at least

They are fucking awful ladies and gents. You are going to look back on photos of yourself and wince, like I did on my photo-grey glasses and tight-rolled jeans from the late 80’s. Glasses themselves are fine if properly sized and fashionable, some actually look good. Or consider contact lenses, since either of those options will make you look so much better to anyone who doesn’t ride a Fixy and drink PBR because it is ironic. Sexy librarians can still get away with it, but most women (more than likely, short-haired women carrying about 40 extra lbs, mostly early 20’s is where I see these specks) look like ass. Not her (below). She’d look good in a barrel with suspenders, so stop fooling yourself that you look like this with your big black rims:hot librarian

Not that you care what the Average Married Dad says, but I think I have the pulse of the people, and men in general here. But your glasses, while funny in some sad way, doesn’t make you unique. Wearing hipster glasses is conforming, and conforming is for the weak. Make your own style, who am I to say anything, but I will anyway. Large hipster glasses are ugly.

Only acceptable if you are Buddy Holly, and that ship has long since sailed.Buddy Holly

 

 

Being a dad: kids and LOVE!

I know I have lots of different types of readers, married, single, men, women, with kids, without kids, old kids, young kids. Sounds like a Dr. Seuss book. I appreciate all the interaction and differing perspectives. Anyway, this one is a “parenting is sometimes (or oftentimes) amazing” post.

[4:15 a.m. I am pouring coffee and about to get out the door for a long day of travel to a site in a different state. I hear a noise. Look into the hallway. There is Loudboy (7) in his pajamas, bleary eyed, just having gone to the bathroom] “Hi Daddy. I love you. I’ll see you tomorrow.” [walks back up the stairs and proceeds to go back into my bedroom to snuggle for a couple hours with mom]. :heartmelts:

We’re in the “wonder years” (what I call in my book the ages between 5 and 11) of child raising right now. And it. is. great! (mostly) We are so blessed to have two wonderful kids. Yeah, they fight and do the sibling thing, but mostly they are buddies and play legos, draw, make up games, and play together. They make their own lunches, do their homework when asked, read books at night before bed, do well in school, and try hard at sports and piano. We could not really ask for anything more. We truly are, “living the dream.” No wonder why Holly wanted to have a third child [that is truly another post. We're cool, but for those that follow along, we aren't having a third, except by immaculate conception and if so, with a paternity test]. Anyway…

For those like Mr. Money Mustache (and maybe you) who are at one kid by choice or not (and this was a much discussed post, as you can imagine), or if you can’t have kids or don’t want them, that’s cool. You’re likely to find money fulfillment earlier than those of us with more (and I have two friends that both have five kids – their life is very fascinating and their money management is as well, as we often talk about) and will still likely have a fulfilling life. But the dynamic with even two kids differs from the single, and seeing the love and dynamic with siblings is truly fascinating. We count our blessings so frequently, and the boy and girl we have are best friends in their own right (despite their differences). They have separate rooms but do frequent “sleepovers.” They have their own friends, but often prefer each other. If you have siblings, you know, you can be worst enemies (and driving your parents to Loony Town) one minute, and conspiring the next.

Loudboy and Birdsnest a few years ago feeding a chipmunk

Loudboy and Birdsnest a few years ago feeding a chipmunk

Chipmunk in question

Chipmunk in question

So we are in that spot in life. Baby time is long gone. Toddler times are distant memories, and good ones at that. Teenage-ville is still in the future. The kids need us and their freedom. They are figuring out their own identities, and still need attention from both parents. Snuggle time, movie night, and sincere “I LOVE you Dad!” with a GIANT bear hug are the norm. Wrestle time is frequent. “Dad can you play Legos/Video Games/Soccer/Dungeons and Dragons?” is common. Love is the theme, and we are the recipients.

Hopefully, if you’re in this window, things are somewhat similar. If you are struggling pre- or post-Wonder Years window, I sympathize. And I know that our own Teen Years are just a blink of an eye away. Which will be both wonderful and challenging in it’s own right. And remember, if you are married, how you behave toward each WILL impact (and set the table) for every relationship your kids may have. So LOVE that is overt, and friendship with your spouse, and a common direction as parents and a couple, lays strong groundwork for your kids and their future husband or wife. Don’t forget that. Hopefully, you can find that common ground to model behavior which will be emulated in a good manner for our next generation.

Coming back around to the post title. Being a dad is great. My brother, despite being divorced, finds his three kids his life purpose. It is immensely rewarding, despite its challenges. Like most, I work as a necessity, and may find some regret that I couldn’t have somehow found more time to be with my own kids during these years. But I do my best (and better than most. I’m not exactly a workaholic) and I’m working on it. And even if I continue on this route, and it will never be perfect, I know I still provide a strong role-model, as does my wife… for being a man, a woman, and a married couple. So much LOVE here. Hopefully you find the same. Peace.

3 Essential Happy Life Rules

I have immersed myself in so much learning the last four years. While most of it is noise, regardless of the lesson at hand, it resulted in a lot of self reflection. I’d take the lesson, examine it, see if it fit into my values or plugged a hole, and move on to the next. After hundreds of these types of exercises, I think having a fulfilling and happy life boil down to basically three basic lessons.

1) Thoughts become things.

If you are unhappy, you have two options:

A) Change your perspective

B) Change your circumstances

…that. is. it.

It doesn’t sound complicated, but there are obviously many nuances to these.

buddha

Let’s start with Thoughts Become Things. It really is as basic as it sounds: what you think about will become reality. Here are the nuances. Your conscious and subconscious are not always on the same page. Think of your conscious as the driver of an automobile.  Think of your subconscious as the navigation system. You may think you (your conscious) is in control, but if your navigation system tells you to go left, you go left. If it tells you to go right, you go right. You may disagree and go your own way from time to time, but more likely than not, you’ll follow your navigation system.

What we think programs our navigation system. It hears the main words. So if when you talk to yourself  (and we all do) and say “I don’t like the way I look” your subconscious hears “I .. like the way I look.” Instead we need to say to ourselves “I want to look fit and healthy.” Instead of dwelling on something you hate, state what you want. Instead of “I hate my job,” state “My dream job is just around the corner.”

Your brain is your most powerful organ. What your brain can envision, will drive you to reach that goal. Give it the food it needs to drive you towards your goals. Picture where you want to be, not where don’t want to be. This can be done in many ways. I am a fan of the Vision Board. You look and reflect on pictures of things you want, or where you want to be.  This starts to set this desire in your subconscious. You have to know where you want to go. Not where you’ve been (or are), or what you don’t like. That type of shit gives you no navigation points for the future.

If you want a place where your family can be happy, think about that. It may not come in the way you expect, but focus on the end goal, not the steps or the process. That will come on its own.

Change your Perspective – If you aren’t happy with a situation, one option is changing the way your mind views it. Mine away the good parts, and find happiness in what you can while discarding the crappy part. I’ve read books on monks imprisoned in Chinese camps who found peace and happiness there, despite the awful situation. You can throw in the towel and give up, or you can acknowledge the obstacles, say “this is somewhat overwhelming, but I’m going to stay positive and keep moving in the right direction.”

Let me illustrate how perspective can change things by hypothetical dudes Jim and John. They both work the same job but Jim hates it and John loves it. John is thankful to have a job in this economy. He knows it isn’t his long-term ideal, but he looks at the positive. He’s got an income, which is good. He has insurance. He has work flexibility. Life is good. Jim, on the other hand, looks at what he doesn’t have. He wants to make more money, since his wife nags him about why he needs to ask for a raise. He is looking at MegaFirmX down the street and they get better bennies, so feels slighted. And let’s bring in married life for a minute. Jim has sex with his wife once a week, same as John. Jim HATES that, since he’d rather be doing it 4x per week, and resents that fact. John however, thinks once a week is great. Sure, more would be even better, but he’s improved his and his wife’s sex life from once a month, so to him, he’s practically swimming in it and his marriage is way better. Perspective. You can work to change it too.

Change Your Circumstances – if you are more Jim than John, then stop living in the same situation and start doing something to change it. You are in debt and people are hounding you, yet you’re still buying new cars and going on vacations. Get your shit under control. Get a temporary extra job.

You hate your job, and want to pursue your life’s calling. Start getting the training or education you need, one day at a time, and one day, you could be doing it. Circumstances are not static, and if you aren’t happy, move – do anything, or life and happiness are likely to pass you by. Or at least stop bitching about it, the rest of us don’t want to hear about how your circumstances suck and is causing you grief.

Thoughts Become Things. Change Your Perspective. Change Your Circumstances. some brief thoughts on finding a way to get what you want, and to be more happy.

Mind-Tree