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I Want Desert First!

Over the weekend, my grandson reminded me of how we can sometimes get our lives so out of kilter until we just seem overwhelmed by it all. He’s a great kid. I love him to death. Sometimes he just doesn’t want to eat his dinner, though. What do we do? Like good baby-sitting grandparents, we bribed him with an ice cream sandwich if he would eat all his dinner! Bad thing to do. Now the three year-old wants desert first! 800px-IceCreamSandwich

It’s great being a grandparent. Now I can give sugary stuff to my grand kids and be the hero, give them back to their mom and dad when they’re all wired up, and go home laughing at what I know they will face. Fun stuff! As a side note, he did eat his dinner. But he also ate his ice cream sandwich.

So the point of the story – too many of us “grown ups” scream and throw tantrums (maybe not out loud, but at least internally) to get ice cream first. We satisfy the little kid inside us instead of doing the adult, mature thing with just a little self-discipline and put of the desert until we’ve finished the healthy stuff. We let our lives get out of balance instead of focusing appropriately on nurturing the four dimensions of life allow us to balance life and bring us ultimate fulfillment and joy – physical, family, spiritual, emotional, and social dimensions.

Often our problem lies not just in lacking the self-discipline, but in setting goals for ourselves and understanding the dimensions operate to help us meet them in the first place. When we know the goals we desire, we can set a plan in place to reach those goals. We can use the dimensions of life to map out the plan so as to balance our life in a way that brings fulfillment and joy. We can see how all of the parts fit together as a whole to make us who we were created to be.

If you want to learn more about the dimensions of life and how they can make a difference in helping you meet your life goals, contact me.

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Spiritual Dimension Is the Core of Who We Are

The spiritual dimension of life reflects who we are deep inside. When we ignore the development of our spiritual dimension, we risk floating the latest fad, poll, and survey on the street and never stand for anything. We never understand our purpose in life and float aimlessly, unfulfilled, and probably very unhappy with who we are and what we accomplish. The spiritual dimension presents us with our moral compass, our values, a sense of purpose greater than ourselves. It gives us hope and helps us realize there is always something we can do in the face of adversity.

Spiritual Dimension and purposepurpose of life, spiritual dimension

One of the more interesting things about each of us resides in the genetic code that makes us unique. Although we are similar in so many ways, no two of us are exactly alike. If you think about the combinations and permutations of genes that exist in us, you begin to realize it’s the virtually impossible odds of two people being alike. If that is true, and forensic science bases itself on that fact, consider the likelihood that two people have the exact combination of skills, talents, intelligence, experience, and so forth. Again, the odds are virtually impossible. If for no other reason, the physiological differences between us make us respond to environmental factors with slight differences.

If we are all different, then we all fit different roles and responsibilities better. As a Christian the spiritual dimension is where I think we find purpose in life. I believe we were created with a purpose in mind. When we figure out what that purpose is and pursue that purpose we will feel fulfilled in life. We will be happy in our chosen profession and know that we are doing what we were made to do. For those not of the Christian faith, the same argument still holds. If you know what your skills, talents, experience, desires are, not necessarily what makes the most money, using those attributes to the fullest brings exceptional satisfaction and fulfillment in life. Most often fulfillment comes from using those talents for the good of others because we are relational people.

How do you find your purpose?

So if finding your purpose is so important? Just how do you go about doing it?

There are some simple steps.

  • take an inventory of your skills and talents
  • ask yourself how you help people
  • list the resources you have available to help others
  • think about who you help

Put these lists where you can stare at them for a few days. Let some close friends, your spouse, and family members pick them apart, add to them, and change them around. Add a list of who help you help others. These will be your weaknesses, things you either don’t do well, or don’t like to do. Don’t limit your lists to your job site, make sure you think holistically. What do you do for your neighbors, your family, your church?

Figure out who you are and what excites you. You’ll probably see in the list of how you help and who you help a clear purpose for your life. You’ll see what really makes you happy in doing things for others. It may be in your current job, or it may be that your current job provides the means by which you’re able to do what you love. This simple exercise can work some wonders for you if you’ve never tried it before.

The spiritual dimension of life is all about finding your purpose and direction. If you’d like more information or more help in discovering your purpose in life, give me a call or email me. You can find out more about the packages available by clicking below.

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richard@ageesconsulting.com

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Resilience and the Five Dimensions of Life

mooreIt’s been interesting listening to the news media marvel at the resilience of the Okies in Moore, Oklahoma in the wake of the devastation that hit the small town. Crises have a way of bringing us to back to reality and forcing us to deal with priorities in a way nothing else does. If you put the news interviews in the context of the five dimensions of life my posts have described, you begin to see how these dimensions manifest themselves in a balance that provides resilience in the face of adversity and despite devastating circumstances gives an individual the power to take charge of life and move on.

Resilience and the five dimensions

The five dimensions – physical, family, spiritual, emotional, social – clearly play a part in the resilience of the individuals interviewed in the tornadoes that touched the lives of the Moore, Oklahoma disaster. The physical dimension from a health and security perspective. Those most fit weathered the storm best. And from a security perspective, schools and individuals knew what to do. For the most part, the residents took the right action in the face of a devastating storm and only 24 lives were lost in what could have been the most horrific loss the nation faced from a tornado. Physical endurance and a sense of security builds resilience.

life domainsFamilies’ first thoughts were for other family members and parents, grandparents, extended family members headed to the places they knew their loved ones might have been to rescue them. They took each other in, search debris fields for pictures, mementos, and other salvageable items and just to know each was safe. Thoughts were focused on life and safety. Material things disappeared from their vocabulary after the storm. No one talked much about the loss of property or things, they talked about life. Everything else could be replaced. Family builds resilience.

We saw many talk about prayer during the storm. Reaching deep into themselves and outward for a higher power as they realized there was nothing they could do to help themselves in the face of nature’s wrath. And when the storm was over, churches became the central receiving and distribution centers for shelter and aid. Why? Because as a community, the church stood as a symbol of aid and assistance before the tornado helping people in small ways. It was a place of faith in good times and bad before the tornado struck. It was a natural place to turn in disaster because it was a familiar place to many of the citizen before the disaster. This is the “Bible Belt” of the nation. Faith builds resilience.

We observed the emotional dimension as people showed raw emotion in the aftermath. Sorrow from the loss of friends and loved ones. Joy in finding loved ones alive. Relief, resolve, thanksgiving, awe, discouragement, anxiety, anger, denial, grief. We saw the gamut of emotions. We saw them expressed openly by the citizens of Moore. We saw loved ones and friends accepting their emotions without question recognizing that it’s okay to feel and express emotion in times of crisis. Through it all, the one emotion that kept coming back time and again was joy. Loved ones found alive and okay. Everything gone, but still alive. Joy despite the circumstances. Priorities reordered because of the events of the day. Proper ordering of priorities and proper expression of emotion builds resilience.

The social dimension came alive. Close friends gave solace and helped in tangible ways. Friends and acquaintances opened homes and gave unsparingly to aid victims. Tribes poured out generously because of kindred spirits recognizing the pain each victim felt and in some ways empathizing with their loss and need. People helping people. A strong social network builds resilience.

These five dimensions work together to make us strong. They help us face the crises that come our way. Pull any of the five out and we weaken in our resolve to face the circumstance we are in. Can we make it without any of them? Maybe, but not as well. The combination of the five and their interaction and integration make the news interviews in Moore not so surprising. It is a community in the middle of the nation’s “Bible Belt.” They have a strong spiritual culture. The faith of the individual and the community shapes the other dimensions of life and brings into perspective what is truly important in life. It’s not the things that surround us. It’s the lives we live and the people around us. Everything else can be rebuilt or replaced. Only the people and our relationships with them really count. Faith builds resilience.

Need help with understanding or balancing the five dimensions of your life? Contact me for a free session.

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Storms of Life

moore, storms of lifeThe devastation in Moore, OK that happened in just minutes reminds us of our vulnerability and how precious life is. The storm prompted me to write this blog about the storms of life that come to each of us. No one is exempt. We all face events in life that tend to try to rip us apart. They feel like a tornado tearing through our lives. The way we respond to them and the way we work through them in large part reflect the roots we have nurtured in the five dimensions our lives – physical, family, spiritual, emotional, and social.

How the five dimensions help in the storms of life

We’ll start with the physical dimension. It’s long been shown that the better physical shape we are in, the better we are able to handle the stress that comes our way. Being physically fit doesn’t mean being a jock, but it does mean eating right, getting enough sleep, and staying active. Doing these things makes a huge difference in how you feel and how you handle the stresses and storms of life as they come along. Just taking a short walk to clear you head in the middle of a crisis can make the difference between being overwhelmed in the circumstances and allowing yourself to see the priorities clearly to make wiser decisions.life domains

The family dimension might be the cause of the storm or might help you lessen the storms of life. The help from family depends on your relationships with the family. When you have health family relationships, the strength that comes from family helps weather the storms of life in remarkable ways. When relationships are poor, they can add to the fierceness of the storm.

The social dimension acts much like the family dimension. Close friends can aid you in many ways. They provide sound advice many times or just listen to let you work out the issues you already have answers for but need to verbalize in confidence. They provide safe havens when relationships are solid. This small network of intimate friends is important for all of us as we work through difficult times in life. They can serve as our life-preserver to keep us from drowning during those most difficult days.

The emotional dimension provides appropriate outlets for what we are feeling during those storms of life that come our way. It’s okay to express emotions. Too often we try to check our emotions at the door and never express what we feel until we become to identify our emotions anymore. Life is filled with emotion. It’s okay to experience them all. We can keep our emotions in control, but we need to experience our emotions and not deny they are there.

Finally, the storms of life often push us to rely on our spiritual dimension. Sometimes we find there the repository of belief, trust, character, resilience, hope, faith, that will see us to the end of the crisis we are experiencing. It is in this dimension we set priorities and understand what really holds importance for us. Like those described in the opening paragraph, homes, cars and things no longer hold much value and the people we love become the sole focus of our attention.

Find someone to help during your crisis

The last advice in facing the storms of life comes from the same news coverage in Moore. As I watched the home owners move back to the slabs and debris that once was their home, I watched neighbors helping neighbors. Instead of spending all their time on their own home, they left their site and went next door to help their neighbor. They were hurting. They needed help themselves. They were devastated by loss. But instead of dwelling on their storm, they went those around them that needed help and began pitching in to help others in need.

When we take our eyes off of our own problems and look around at those in similar conditions, we find we are not alone. We can do something to help someone else. We are not helpless and we can do something. As soon as we begin to act on behalf of someone else, we begin to pull our focus away from the storm and toward safer harbors. Does it mean things are better for us? Not necessarily, but understanding we are not along, we can endure whatever we are going through.


Social Dimension

I have a theory about the social dimension as to how you should operate your social network.

The importance of the social dimension

First let me discuss the importance of the social dimension. This dimension provides support, cultural norms, a sense of belonging for you. We all need others around us. As humans, we cannot survive long in isolation. All you need to do is look at the outcome of those in solitary confinement to see what happens to the psyche over time. We need people to talk to and interact with on a consistent basis because we are relational creatures.

It’s important that we have some close friends outside our family we can share information with in confidence to unload, to discuss issues, to bounce ideas off of who will be honest and forthright with us. Sometimes family will give us what they think we want to hear to keep peace in the family knowing we have to live together long-term. Friends understand we can remain friends despite what we say to each other (sometimes).

Circles of friends

At the same time, the social dimension needs various layers of friends. No all friends are created equal. Some you can tell almost anything. Some you can tell almost nothing. Because of the variety of friends we need in our lives and the different roles they play, I’ve divided them into four different categories for convenience in describing them; intimate friends, friend, acquaintances, and the tribe.

We all need 3-7 intimate friends, closer to the lower end of that spread. These friends will tell you when you have broccoli in your teeth. They will listen to you when you have trouble and rejoice with you when you when things are going well. These friends can keep secrets. You can confide in them with your deepest, darkest secrets and they will listen to you without condemnation. These intimate friends are often closer to you than family members.

The second set in your social network we will call friends. This group may consist of 25-50 people, again usually closer to the lower figure depending on your personality and business. You know these people well. You invite them to parties, go to restaurants with them, interact with several times a year. You know their spouses and kids. You may not know everything about them, but you’re familiar with them and you’re comfortable in their company. This group provides you business recommendations and you do the same for them.circle of friends, social dimension

The third set are acquaintances. This group numbers 100-250, again based on your personality and business. you send them Christmas cards. You recognize them and know most of them by name. You may or may not know their spouses and children, but probably know their business. These are not frequent referrals like the friends, but can occasionally dip into the referral category. Quality contact once or twice a year is all that’s necessary to keep these acquaintances around.

The last group we’ll call the tribe. They know you. You many recognize some faces and may even know some of their names. They follow you on Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn and other social media and you may reciprocate. Contact with the tribe is deliberate and meaningful, but very different from that of the rest of your network.

The way you handle each of these circles is unique. Each social group plays a unique role in the social dimension and is important to your social health. How you maintain each group and how you communicate with each group will wait for another post. For now we begin by understanding the need to focus on our social dimension as part of what makes our life balanced. Without a solid social network, we have little to support us in times of crisis, nor can we find fulfillment in helping those around us in need. The social dimension serves both purposes, to aid us and for us to give aid.

Don’t forget to spend some time focused on your social dimension. It may not need as much emphasis as other parts of your life right now, but it is important. Don’t let it get lost.