Engaging in the Ability to Observe Without Evaluating

One of the detriments of our distracted, byte-sized addictions to all of the opportunities for distractions that exist in our world today is that I believe we have lost the ability to sit still for even a few seconds. Especially to sit still and think, without being distracted. I confess I struggle greatly with this.

I am neither proud of this, nor am I content to allow it to continue at the ever-increasing rate that it has overtaken my life in the past several years. I am committed to creating more margin in my life to be able to sit quietly and think. Indian-born philosopher and writer Jiddu Krishnamurti said this: “The ability to observe without evaluating is the highest form of intelligence.” Whoa!

My handy dictionary app on my phone (my primary distraction) defines observe: To see, watch, perceive, or notice. To regard with attention, especially so as to see or learn something. Ok, let me see your hands, how many of you in the past week took time to perceive or notice something? How many in the last month regarded something with enough attention to learn something. Yeah, me either.

Let’s take it one step further. My dictionary app says this about evaluating: To determine or set the value or amount of. To judge or determine the significance, worth, or quality of. Now, this is convicting. Again, a show of hands for everyone who has not been conditioned by our world today to look at something quickly and not make a snap judgment.  Yeah, I didn’t think so. 

Here is the conundrum. Can we observe without evaluating? Of course, we can. But it takes patience, practice, and intentionality. Is there a place where you can go that makes this easier to do? Some room in your house, a coffee shop in town, or even just a favorite chair where you can sit and think with no distractions?

For me, there is no better place than outside in nature. I love being outdoors. Of course, a beautiful day doesn’t hurt, but even if the weather is less than perfect, I find that doing outside allows me to connect with myself and to connect with my Creator. It could be almost anywhere. I prefer the beach or a golf course but since I don’t get to do that every day, an early morning walk with my dog is a good substitute.

No matter where you do it, and how you do it, I believe we need to fight for our intelligence and create some margin to think, to ask ourselves questions, and to listen to the answers that come. I like to do this with God too. I have to admit, I don’t always get the answers I think I am looking for, but I rarely come away from such a session without feeling more relaxed, more clarity, and more purpose as I go through the rest of my day.

I’d love to hear from you. What practices work for you? What do you need to stop doing to create more margin to start thinking? What questions or comments do you have? I’d love you to share them below.

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It’s Hard to Envision Your Future when You’re Focused on Your Past

By now, I certainly hope you have figured out how much I love quotes and sayings. They sometimes may seem contrived or even pithy, but even if they are, we like them, memorize them, and most importantly, remember them. Therefore, I offer for your initial amusement, followed by a knowing acceptance, finished with a nod of gratitude the following: 

Yesterday is history and tomorrow is a mystery.

Before you accuse me of being Captain Obvious, allow me to expound slightly. Why do we (which most definitely includes I) spend so much time worrying, wishing, and wasting time thinking about the past? For that matter, ditto for the future. I have some ideas which I hope you will consider and then follow me in directing your focus where it belongs.

Abundance and Importance Versus a Scarcity Mindset and Urgent

As we settle into the new year, I want to encourage you this week to continue to keep at the forefront of your mind those ideas, dreams, and goals you started the year with. Many people who are not reading this article and are not focused on becoming the best versions of themselves have already long forgotten all of the things they said they were going to do this year.

This brings me to my first encouragement for you in this post. Ideas are just dreams until they’re written down. If you haven’t already, it’s never too late to start but wherever you fall here, get your dreams, visions, ideas, goals, and any and everything else you want to accomplish down on paper. Got it? Good.

Gaining Clarity from how we See the World

Famous American poet and philosopher, Henry David Thoreau famously said, “The question is not what you look at but what you see.” On some level, we were all horrified by the events that took place in our nation’s capital last week. Not surprisingly, it has stirred up even more division and vitriol than existed a week ago, which seemed palpable even on its own.

I have no interest or inclination to get into a political discussion. If you’re looking for that, you won’t have to look very hard. I have determined that I will focus my time on building solutions by offering grace and kindness rather than looking to become involved with the many opportunities available to engage with strangers and especially close friends in a moral online battle. My solution is straightforward; I try to ignore it.

It’s Hard to See Your Future When You’re Staring at Your Past

Happy New Year! As the year begins and we are all on 1,200 calorie diets, going to bed by 10:00 p.m. so that we can get up to exercise by 5:00, and reading three new books while focusing on how to break revenue and income records, let me welcome you back, perhaps abruptly, to reality. 

I certainly do not mean to throw cold water and by no means do I intend to do anything other than to encourage you to make 2021 a year you will look back on with gratitude twelve months from now. I am not a proponent of New Year’s resolutions, so my tongue in cheek poking fun is just that. But seriously, where will you be on January 5, 2022? That is entirely up to you.

Will 2020 Make You Better or Leave You Bitter?

Full disclosure, I am using the headline and my message in the year’s final post from Reverend Joy Gonzales of Highland Park Methodist Church in Dallas, where my wife and I attend church online every week. Joy’s message yesterday was too good and impacted me too significantly to not share it with my audience.

Many people I know, watch, and listen to cannot wait to turn the calendar this Friday and waive 2020 goodbye and greet 2021 hopefully. Indeed, a New Year always brings new hope, new ideas, and the promise that we can be and do better than we did last year. The truth of the matter is, however, that even though 2020 will soon be in the history books, its troubles aren’t going away any time soon.

Is Your Life a Good Reflection of God’s Reputation?

This week, as we prepare to celebrate Christmas I want to issue you both a challenge and goal to ponder. Warning and spoiler alert: It may make you a little uncomfortable. If it does, then I have accomplished my objective for this blog.

I do not wish to debate, nor try to convert you if you do not believe that Jesus is the Son of God. In my life, I know for a fact that He is. My objective is to use the lessons He taught and the love He showed with everyone with whom I have a chance to make an impact. Simply steed, I would rather show you that I am a Christian, rather than tell you I’m a Christian. 

One Step Beyond your Limiting Belief is Unlimited Clarity

As you have likely read or heard from me before, I get very reflective and even melancholy at the end of the year. I begin to evaluate my progress in the past year and considering where I had growth and where I need to focus my efforts more diligently next year. 

I can honestly say that in a year that no one could have fathomed, I am super proud of all of the things I have accomplished this year. Sure, there were goals that weren’t quite accomplished, ideas not followed up on, and dreams to still be pursued. I am basing my success this year on a metric I have never used before because I am quite sure until one year ago I had never heard of a limiting belief.

How to Make Days Count Rather than Counting Down Days

It’s hard to believe that in just over three weeks we will celebrate Christmas. Personally speaking, I have gotten to the age where I become very nostalgic around Christmas. My days of having to stay up all night to be Santa are long gone and (hopefully) I am still a good way’s off before I get to experience the magic of a grandchild on Christmas.

Therefore, I take this time of the year to remember Christmases gone by. Memories of family members who have graduated to Heaven, old traditions that have faded away with time, and having and taking the time to just drink in the wonder of the season. Call me sentimental.

Do You Have the Intrepidity to be Encouraging?

Last week as we celebrated Thanksgiving, I was so moved by a number of different messages I received both personally and electronically that were encouraging in nature. It makes me wish that we could celebrate my favorite Holiday every month. 

As most of the world now turns its attention towards Christmas, I want to encourage you to camp out on giving thanks at least for a few more days. Why should you or I wait for one time a year when we truly express our gratitude for our blessings and the people who help to create them?