How to Turn Off Auto Pilot and Live Intentionally

brigade-20489_1280When you’re driving down the road and you hear a siren, what do you do? Pull over and stop immediately? Can you honestly say that pulling over is always the most “helpful thing to do?”

What if the vehicle with the siren is coming at you as opposed to behind you? How does pulling over help? You could make an argument that it would be helpful if the emergency is on your side of the street. If the emergency vehicle needed to take an immediate right turn onto a street that your vehicle would impede, staying clear of a potential right turns makes sense.  Perhaps pulling over would provide more space for the emergency vehicle to pull around other vehicles in it’s path.  But, for most, it doesn’t matter, we hear the noise and pull over.

If the path is clear and there are no perpendicular side streets on your side, continuing forward at the same speed seems to be the most helpful action.  Keeping the flow of traffic going could prevent congestion farther down the road and prevent delays. But, we hear the noise and just pull over.

What if the emergency vehicle is behind you? It makes the most sense to pull over and make room for the vehicle to pass, right?  What if you are crossing an intersection? Pulling over could be disastrous! Especially if the vehicle is taking a right turn. Yet, I’ve seen it happen several times.  Some folks hear a siren and immediately pull over and stop no matter where they are.  Without thinking about the best option, they simply react as if they are on auto-pilot.  They just hear the noise and pull over.

What’s my point? Most of us perform several activities everyday, without intention. Some of those activities are harming ourselves and others.  We’ve stopped thinking!light-bulb-503881_1280Do you know why you do what you do? Have you thought about when and how you brush your teeth? What about how you get to work, what time you get up, what you eat and how you view the world?  What about your perspectives on exercise, political views and how you treat people? Where did your views come from? Your parents? Your friends? The media? Are you thinking or have you just accepted what has been handed to you? This is important! It determines the way you live your life!

I love what my friend Dan Miller says, “If it ain’t broke, break it.” 

I have developed the habit of intentionally examining my beliefs, values and actions regularly. What I have discovered has been good and ugly. Much of how I see the world has come from people and places who’s lives I have no interest in living!

Here are some example’s of destructive thinking I’ve adopted based on no intentional discovery of my own:

“Rich people are actually miserable.”

“A pension/long term security is more important than doing work you love.”

“The more you can do by yourself, the more powerful you are.”

“Accepting people who’s lifestyles you don’t agree with, compromises my values.”

“Vaccines cause autism.”

“You can only be a “real” Christian if you’re a republican.”

“People who don’t eat meat are weak.”

“Talent is something you’re born with, if you don’t have it, find something to do that pays the bills.”

These are just a few examples of thinking that I’ve had to break.  These ways of thinking didn’t feel broken when I believed them. I’ve had to take an honest in depth look.  I’m sure I have many more that I haven’t yet uncovered but the growth that I’ve experienced so far, inspires me to dig deeper. The more I spend time with people who’s lives seem rich and purposeful, the more my own limited thinking is exposed.

What in your life have you inherited or accepted while on auto-pilot? Are you pulling over immediately without truly knowing what is most helpful for you and others?

Here’s an example: You might tell yourself that you hate exercise but you know you want to lose a few pounds.  When you think of losing weight, you think of torture.  Your limiting belief could be that you hate exercise.  Maybe you just hate your understanding of exercise. Is there a way you can make it more fun? Is there a way you can make it better for you?  Maybe you could start riding your bike to work? Maybe you take a skateboard? Before you say, “I’m not the type of person who does that.” Turn off your autopilot and think about things differently.

Action Steps:

Reengage your mind and heart in your daily activities.

Ask Yourself This: Am I doing this activity because it’s what I’ve always done or because it’s the best for me and others around me?

Learn: When you realize a destructive way of thinking or behaving, identify 2 people who seem to have it right and ask them how they do it. Read books and find resources that can help you develop this area of your life.  Dream, be creative, think outside the box!

Apply: Take what you learned and give it a shot. If it doesn’t work well, try again until it gets better or try something new.  You only get one shot at life, be intentional about making the most of it!

If you feel stuck and want to talk through how you can live a better life, give me a call on my cellphone. I’d be honored to listen! (716) 713-2957.


Is Anyone Listening?!!! Social Media is Making us Crazy!

black-white-675004_1280Bluetooth technology was developed in the mid 90’s.  In the late 90’s and early 2,000’s, it became more and more common to see people walking the streets and driving their cars while talking to themselves.  After an awkward period of assuming “those people” were crazy, we’ve now trained ourselves to look for a small blinking device attached to their heads. “Oh, I guess I shouldn’t call the local nuthouse, they’re on the phone.”  I still think people who wear Bluetooth earpieces in public are crazy but that’s a separate issue.

We’re Talking To Ourselves Again

It’s just as bad, but there’s no one to set us straight, because it’s happening behind the comfort of our computers and smart-phones. If you haven’t already guessed it, I’m talking about SM. No, not sadomasochism, although the definition fits. “The giving or receiving of pleasure from acts involving the receipt or infliction of pain or humiliation.” For some, this is a perfect description of Social Media.

A good conversation starts when one person has the attention of another person. Social media has turned this model upside down.  Millions of people post on social media everyday without first getting the attention of those listening.  We are wandering around talking to ourselves again and it’s become the norm.  It’s as if we don’t really care if someone is listening or not, we just keep talking. Time to call the nuthouse again?london-692137_1280

What This Looks Like In Real Life?

Imagine you’re at a big party.  As people arrive, they are already talking about everything from their dogs sleeping habits and political scandals to the latest Iphone app.  They aren’t necessarily talking to anyone, just talking.  As time passes, people in the room begin to listen to the chatter that is most interesting to them personally. If they really like it, they yell it out to everyone else in the room.  The folks who don’t have anyone listening to them are forced to stand in the back of the room where no one can see them or hear them. They’re allowed to talk, only if their commenting on one of the popular conversations. Everyone receives a score.  You get one point for every person who repeats what you’re saying to the room. The higher your score, the louder your voice is. The people with the most points get to stand on the stage where everyone can see and hear them. The fewer people listening to you, the farther away from the stage you have to stand.  The room is loud with voices but only a few messages are really being heard.  Sound crazy? It sounds frustrating to me.  Where is the joy and richness of relationship and good conversation?

It’s no surprise so many Americans feel unheard. The whole world is talking but very few are truly listening. We simply need to spend more time face to face with each other, intentionally listening.

For more about how to have great conversation check out this Podcast from Michael Hyatt: Click Here

Know What Listening Is NOT: 

Listening is not finishing someone’s sentences.

It’s not a multi-tasking friendly activity.

It’s not giving advice or solutions.

It’s not saying, “I know exactly how you feel,” and following up with a story from your life.

When is the last time you really listened without talking about yourself?  Chances are that the people closest to you feel unheard. Don’t pretend you are well connected because you are a part of multiple Facebook groups, you have over 1,000 twitter followers or your inbox is full.  Step out of the crazy world of texts, tweets, likes and follows.  Human’s are starving for connection and deep connection only happens when a person feels truly heard.

The Challenge: Choose one person in your life this week to listen to for 10 straight minutes.  Don’t give advice, don’t tell a story about yourself to support what they’re saying, put down your phone, stop what you’re doing and do nothing but ask questions that help them talk more about themselves. You might be amazed at what happens.