All of us have seen the love of money change a person. Whether you’re a Wall Street honcho or the beneficiary of a life insurance policy or will, the results remain the same… money changes people. It helps us acquire what we want, but when we value money, more than our family, friends, dignity, and spirituality, we become enslaved by it. Instead of letting it serves us for our purposes, money can becomes the motivation for our actions. Many see this as evil, per se.
Greed cultivates an overwhelming desire for more wealth and materialism which leads down a dark path of being unsatisfied and unhappy. It can be intentional (i.e. the character Gordon Gekko) but more often it exists in subtle, disguised forms. Greed is insidious by nature because it is generally transferred by environmental teachings, which are tremendously powerful. Culture, peers, media, and family dynamics are where most environmental teaching occurs.
A subtle form of greed that afflicts families is a lack of communication and sense of entitlement. Withholding information, on the surface, seems like an effective way to prevent younger generations from being plagued wealth’s negative effects. But it can quickly emerge as a way to not relinquishing power or identity, resulting in a refusal to share information.
You see, the true danger of greed is that one becomes so obsessed with the object of his or her desire that it becomes the only thing that is important. Someone possessed by greed develops tunnel vision and in that tunnel, they can see only their own selfish desire.
Greedy people walk all over the rights and needs of others and to them it is no big thing. They, along with their needs, are the only things that count. A greedy husband or wife makes a miserable marriage. A greedy politician makes a miserable life for his or her constituents. A greedy boss makes miserable employees. I could go on, but I know you get the point.
Ultimately, greed is a sign of emptiness. If you find yourself grasping after things in life, worried that you won't get what you want, what you need, or what you deserve, you have put your trust in the wrong place. Greed will use you up without giving anything in return because it’s an unscrupulous desire for wealth and power. It does not have a heart or concern for the damage it causes. Greed is infectious and alienates the individual from family, friends and their moral center. It is a selfish act that benefits only the greedy individual temporarily.
Remember, "whatever we sow, we shall reap." Why not focus your life on positive seeds that will reap love. Material things will come and go. A good reputation will allow you to sleep well at night. Meditate on these words and live a happy, good life without the negative effects of greed.
Overcoming greed requires a lot of effort and discipline. It isn't easy, but it can be done. It's all a matter of taming your ego. An important reminder for all of us watching greed play out in the media: Where there’s greed, there’s danger.
There are times in my life where I found myself paralyzed by doubt. It was sudden, tragic, and to me, devastating. I’ve sat alone wondering if God took a much needed vacation at the exact moment my life imploded around me. We’ve all been there. We set the goals, make the plans, and one person’s action or a life event turns everything upside down. And after the initial shock wears off we’re left wondering "now what'?
In the past, I use to question the person or the circumstance, and try to change the outcome. I foolishly believed my desire alone could make things remain the way I wanted them to be. Now, I understand everything happens for a reason and I’ll be okay no matter what, but that doesn’t mean I can handle every punch life throws at me.
I had to teach myself to get motivated to begin again. After every misstep, trial, heartbreak, and difficulty I had to graciously press forward when I’d rather sit and drown my sorrows in ice cream and old movies. It was hard. That’s right, I’m not going to lie and tell you that you’ll dust yourself off and tactfully smile through the next step. Starting over feels like you’re a new recruit at a hellish, military boot camp, the only difference is the only person pushing you forward is you.
If you’re lucky, you’ll have someone you trust to help your progress towards your next steps. If not, you’ll need to make the rough decision to move on alone because you care about getting to the next level, changing raw pain into victory, and growing from the adversity. So how do you get motivated to propel yourself towards the direction you need to go? Well this is what works for me:
1. Tell yourself the truth.
If you made a mistake own up to it and transform the energy of
frustration and disappointment into the energy of motivation. Listening to your heart and get in tune with your inner self. Are you really excited about the things you are doing or do you sense a hesitation that you can’t quite explain?
2. Set specific goals. Setting goals directs your behavior by focusing your attention, allowing you to measure your progress, and take steps to meet your objectives. Setting realistic and attainable goals are also more motivating than setting vague ones.
3. You give yourself incentives. If you want to write a few chapters of your novel in a week or get out of debt, then make the payoff worth it. Pampering work for me but if you like to treat yourself to a new pair of shoes or the latest electronic gadget, then by all means do so. (Unless your goal is to watch your spending habits. LOL)
4. Accept what can’t be changed. When bad things happen in our lives, we try to fix them or change them. But sometimes we can’t. If you can make yourself accept the things you cannot change – you will become a much happier person. Acceptance allows us to start finding a way to cope much faster. Save yourself from wasting hours in a bad mood by just getting on with life.
3. Get rid of negative people. I don’t like saying this but negative people tend to harp on the bad things and ignore the positive stuff. They also have a tendency to exaggerate issues they’re facing, making their predicament seem a lot worse than it actually is. The outcomes are extremely draining and can affect you for the rest of the day. In the past, I spent a lot of time with negative people, trying to help them with their issues. It drained a lot of my energy and was often futile, which led me to rethink my methods. Ever since then, I worked on cultivating positivity by hanging out with positive friends and business partners which is more rewarding.
I hope you have a blessed week and decide to tackle your problems head on.
NOTE: On Monday, July 26, 2012, Stephen R. Covey, author of "The Seven Habits of Highly Effective People," died unexpectedly. The world is saddened by his passing, but blessed by his 79 years of life. In the video below he speaks about his latest work to help others solve their problems.
I love my big brother Wayne but you wouldn’t have known it when we attended DeSoto County High School together back in the eighties. He was a 6’5, good-looking basketball player determined to maintain his persona as a cool upperclassman when I strolled in as a naïve freshman persevering to make a name for myself.
For his last two years of high school, I was a constant reminder of our family bond —at school and at home. My brother was a varsity athlete, great singer and break-dancer. Not to be out done, I joined the cheerleading squad, sang in talent shows, became
vice president of Future Authors of America, and work on the yearbook staff. From what I can remember about that part of my youth, I was constantly encouraged to cheer for my brother at games or take his photo around campus. And for him, having a little sister known by all of his teachers, coaches, and friends was one of his worst teenage nightmares.
Sometimes I wonder how the two of us survived the teenage angst being two years apart in age. I guess when he was accepted to Bethune-Cookman University and I went on to graduate from Gainesville High School our relationship finally got the space it needed.
Today, we’ve moved far from childhood to full blown adulthood. We’ve dealt with the demands of our careers, raising children, and
managing responsibilities. Life has changed us in ways we never knew it could, and our relationship has matured because of it.
Now before you ask. No one ever sat us down and explained that our childhood views of each other would have to change. But somewhere along the way I decided I couldn’t go the rest of my life seeing him as a 'know-it-all, Mama’s boy' just like he decided to stop viewing me as an 'annoying, meddling kid sister'. When I look back on the changes in our relationship it makes complete sense. It’s funny how people consciously work to improve our friendships and romantic relationships but take our siblings—people whom we didn't choose to be around—for granted.
Some people can be VERY aggressive with their brothers and sisters, more so than with anyone else in their lives, but often simple awareness of this tendency can strengthen sibling ties. I guess it took my adult years to really learn that it takes only one person to improve a relationship. I heard that bit of wisdom all the time as a teenager but now I totally get it. If I'm argumentative every time I see you, you will get defensive every single time. But if I stop being belligerent, you can't get mad at me. :-)
You can also improve your relationship by changing your expectations of how your siblings should act with you. You might love talking every day for an hour or two but your sibling may prefer to talk for two hours once or twice a month because of their schedule and responsibilities. Put yourself in their shoes.
The following behaviors seems to work well for me and my big brother over the years, I hope they will work for you:
* Be more affectionate with your siblings, and try to treat them as politely as you treat your friends. Spiteful acts based on past jealousies is a big NO NO.
* (This one is hard but worth it.) Shed any idealized notions you have about how close you should be with your siblings. There aren’t any hard rules for family closeness, you’re not starring in a sitcom here. Do what feels comfortable for the both of you. Don’t let your parents, other siblings, or spouses’ dictate what your bond should look like. If both of you feel you have a normal healthy relationship then you probably do.
* Be aware of any knee-jerk reactions to your siblings and tweak your behavior to allow your family to see you in a different role. If you don’t want to be everyone’s caregiver then say ‘Sorry I can’t’ more often.” Change your reactions and don’t complain about people that are just being themselves.
* Instead of stubbornly sticking to your own memories, try to learn how your sibling experienced your shared past. Let’s face it a family Christmas experienced by a fourteen year old is a lot different than one experienced by a ten year old, even if they are happening at the exact same time.
We have to see each other in a multidimensional way. Don’t wait for the holidays to roll around to develop a mature view of your siblings. If you can love your friends during the different stages of their life, you can do the same for family.
***This blog post is lovingly dedicated to my daughters. As you walk closer and closer to full adulthood, remember to give each other room to mature and redefine your relationship many times over.***
And if you get a chance to read this big brother. I love you more with each passing day.
For many people, the month of July is a time to celebrate personal freedom. You’ll hear many liberation stories about personal journeys toward emotional freedom and healthier living. It can be quite surprising to learn someone close to you has made a radical change to their regime, relationships or habits but change is necessary for growth.
Sometimes the change is a pruning time, where the person cuts away the things that are dead or contaminated. Sometimes the change is a healing time, where the things are restored to their optimum, glorious state. It doesn’t matter what type of change is taking place in the people around you or within yourself, it’s happening now because it’s time for a change.
Whether we are the agents of the change or a change is being forced upon us, there’s a certain about of fear that we must deal with before we can embrace a new reality. And like my grandfather use to say, “It’s easy to go through 'the difficult', than around it.” Facing fears matures us and gives us wisdom.
Remember the first time you cared for a crying baby? You felt inadequate as you tried to figure out what the little one needed. Nothing you did seemed to work. He or she was on the verge of making themselves sick with separation anxiety and give you a pounding stress headache in the interim.
But somewhere along the way you figured out talking calmly and walking them around a lot made the crying spells become intermittent. Then a bottle feeding or a diaper change given with patience, caring hands made the baby realize you were capable of meeting some of his or her needs. Soon less wailing was heard and before you realize it, you were playing with the baby and smiles were on both of your faces. You’re over the fear of caring for an infant alone and now have the skills to face that challenge again.
Walking through the fear of the unknown is how change happens. You can give your fear a fancy label like ‘introverted ’, ‘hesitant’, ‘incompetent’,‘amateur’ or ‘inexperienced’ but it’s still fear. Point blank. Period. Change cannot happen as
long as you hold onto your history with a white-knuckled grip and not embrace
the dream of your future.
All around you are people that have blaze the trail you want to walk. You don’t
have to reinvent the wheel, the roadmaps are there. Make the change that has
been nagging at you for weeks, months, or even years. You are on the verge of your breakthrough and you won’t be a peace until you take action.
Now is the time to put yourself back on the priority list. You take care of many people because you are a compassionate, responsible person but you must take the time to reevaluate your needs and make the changes necessary for your growth and health. There’s a certain amount of freedom you feel when you can be your authentic self; when the person you are when you’re alone is the exact same person you show to the world. Enjoy your life, it’s too short to have it ruled by what others may think, do, or say.
And congratulate anyone that makes a personal change that grants them freedom to smile bigger than they have in a long, long time.
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