I’ve witnessed many times the kid who clearly gave a phenomenal effort during a hockey game, only to have their efforts overshadowed by the kid who scored the winning goal yet put forth a petty effort for the entire game. The kid who put forth the shitty effort got all the praise just because they got the result, despite their shitty effort.
How many times have we all put forth petty efforts into our homework because our parents wouldn’t let us do what we wanted to do until it was done? What does this teach us? Get the result regardless of your effort and you will be rewarded.
Now, what happens when we carry this conditioning into our adulthood? We attempt to cut corners, now believing that it’s the results that matter, not so much the efforts.
Why Even Try?
This leads many of us, including myself at one time, to ask “why bother even trying?”.
Since effort doesn’t get rewarded and is largely overlooked, why not find a way to cut corners, to cheat, to do things the easy way, to avoid the path that may require effort.
Not Trying vs The Path Of Least Resistance
I do feel the need to distinguish the difference between not trying and searching for the path of least resistance.
Not trying is putting forth an effort that doesn’t go beyond going through the motions, that doesn’t go beyond cruise control, that doesn’t go beyond just showing up.
The path of least resistance can have different meanings to different people. To me, the path of least resistance is the path in which we have not created resistance. The resistance we create through fear, doubt, shame, lack of meaning, lack of love etc.
The path of least resistance doesn’t automatically encompass lack of effort, it encompasses the path where effort can be maximized.
The Effort Is The Journey
After many discussions with people, the journey tends to get overshadowed by the end game, the final result.
What is the fastest way to get there while putting in the least amount of effort?
The end result is reached and yet something still feels like it’s missing. There seems to be a lack of fulfillment. This is because
life is a journey, not an end game.
When you attempt to skip the journey and all its’ illustrious overcomings and resilience, you are skipping out on all that life has to offer. As long as you try and do this, you will never feel fulfillment when you reach your destination.
Results brought on without effort or challenge are unfulfilling.
There are reports on what these people do with their money to end up in such financial hardship, but what doesn’t get discussed much is the underlying reasons why these people can’t seem to keep the money they won.
I propose that the number one reason 70% of major lottery winners end up in a financial struggle is that they feel they didn’t earn it. They didn’t put in the blood, sweat and tears. They didn’t create the result through a journey of overcoming challenges and massively rewarding efforts.
They essentially got something for nothing.
This is what happens when the journey is overlooked or skipped altogether. The result becomes an unrewarding focal point that leads one to ask themselves why they still feel so empty inside.
The Result Of Inner World Matching Outer World
When we are on the receiving end of a result we feel we did not earn, we will squander away the result any way we can in order to have our outer world matching our inner world.
Since we feel we did not earn the result, we must eliminate the result or discredit the result through means such as self-sabotage.
If we do not feel fulfillment inside of us, we feel somewhat empty, something is missing. When we feel empty inside we will create a world outside of us that is also empty. Hence why 70% of major lottery winners run into financial hardship.
When we cheat, cut corners, lie, and look for the easy way out, we lack fulfillment and a sense of earning it. As long as we continue to do this we will feel unfulfilled and/or undeserving.
Embrace The Journey
Hopefully, I have you somewhat convinced by now that the journey is just as important, if not more important, than the result.
Embrace your challenges. Embrace your fears, Embrace your growth. Embrace your sense of fulfillment.
Life is the journey, not the result, embrace it or you will miss out on it.
Learn from all of your experiences, opportunities are everywhere.
One minute we’re deserving, the next minute we’re not, yet neither can be true because the infinite truth never changes, it’s our thoughts that are ever changing.
A recent trend of conversations has compelled me to write on the topic of “deserving”.
This word seems to get thrown around quite a bit when people attempt to:
Justify an otherwise knowingly poor decision.
I deserved that ice cream.
I deserved to spend that money I didn’t have.
To maintain their low self-worth by judging the greater worth of others.
They deserve better than me.
I deserve to be treated like shit.
To maintain a self-righteous, inflated ego and elevated self-worth by judging the lesser worth of others.
I deserve better than this/you.
You don’t deserve that.
I recently wrote about “YOLO” (You Only Live Once), a close cousin to “deserving”, and its’ similar repercussions. If you tend to use YOLO often you may want to read that after.
Where It All Begins
Surely, babies and toddlers don’t think they’re deserving or undeserving of anything in this world. If they did, we would hear some pretty remarkable comments:
I deserve real milk, not this fake milk.
I deserve to wear brand name clothing, not this stuff from Wal-mart.
I deserve more toys.
I deserve to watch more T.V
I deserve a better stroller
I deserve better diapers
This is not an inherent genetic trait that gets passed down from generation to generation. We are not born with the conundrum of whether we are deserving or not.
It isn’t until you have learned from somewhere (parents, kids at school, teachers, sports) that you are either deserving or undeserving. This is done through a social conditioning that most of us fail to see, ever.
How Expectations In Sports Can Teach This
I used to think I deserved certain things in life. Having grown up playing competitive hockey, it strengthened my conditioning that to deserve a reward you must first meet certain criteria or expectation. If these criteria were not met you were not rewarded. This can be seen in the interpersonal relationships between coaches and players, parents and players, and the team and the scoreboard.
Many times, if a kid plays well according to others (parents and coaches), they are typically treated as they deserve to be there by the coaches, and their own parents. On the flip side, if a kid does not play well, many times they are treated like they don’t deserve to be there by the coaches and their own parents alike.
For example, the team may have won an important championship game yet the kid who didn’t play well can easily feel ostracized and undeserving to participate in the celebrations due to not being treated the same way as they would by their coaches and/or parents if they had played well.
What it boils down to is this, if they play well, they feel deserving enough to be part of the team and when they don’t play well they don’t feel deserving enough to be part of the team. I’m sure anyone who has played sports can relate to this.
How Expectations In Parenting Can Teach This
The expectation and reward system is also a common ploy parents use to get their children to meet their personal expectations of them.
If you do your homework I will let you watch T.V.
If you get straight A’s on your report card I will buy you a gift of your choosing.
If you eat all the food on your plate I will let you have dessert.
If you clean your room I will let you go out with your friends.
In other words, if you meet my expectation I will reward you because you “deserve” it…if…if…if
What this also teaches kids is that they are undeserving when they don’t meet certain expectations.
Not to say that this system is right or wrong, I am merely pointing out its’ faults and the repercussions that can follow. Often these repercussions are carried forward to most people’s grave’s as they had no clue this reward system existed in the many ways that didn’t serve them.
Does Your Deservingness Serve You?
There are definitely healthy ways to use this reward/expectation system to your advantage, unfortunately, many people don’t appear to know that. What I mean by to your advantage is using the system in a way that serves you, whether that be serving your physical, mental, or spiritual health.
This is how many use their deservingness to not serve themselves:
Sitting on the couch with a bucket of ice cream in their lap because they think they “deserve” it after the day you have had, this clearly doesn’t serve their physical health.
Going on a shopping spree and slapping the whole bill on their credit card because they “deserve” what they bought, this clearly does not serve their mental or spiritual health.
You realize you have done a disservice to your mental and spiritual health when you realize you spent money you don’t currently have and the material things you bought don’t make you feel any more worthy. It was just a good idea at the time that was built on a faulty premise.
One question to always ask yourself before you go off the deep end is this: “Is what I am about to do going to serve my physical, mental, and spiritual health?”.
Do You Or I Deserve Better? Nope
This is the contrast that gets vastly overlooked. I mean really, it took me 32 years to see it so don’t feel bad if you didn’t.
The contrast is this:
In order to be deserving, we must first judge our previous self, or others, as undeserving in comparison.
To be deserving of something means that prior to whatever expectations were or were not met, you are not deserving of what comes next. This teaches us to live our lives undeserving of many things, that is until we meet the expectation that claims we are now deserving.
Our default now becomes “undeserving”. This is what leads many people, possibly even you, to indulge in things that really do not serve you and yet you continue to do so despite that knowledge.
You Deserve To Be Happy And Sad
Life is designed to be lived in polarities. None of us deserve one over the other as we were given the innate ability to feel happy or sad at any given time.
This is part of the divine design that we call life, and since we were not creative enough to design it, we surely are not going to be creative enough to manipulate it.
And that treat you’re eating surely isn’t creative enough either.
You Can’t Deserve What You Already Are
You are happiness
You are sadness
You are worth it
You are love
It’s not up to you, you are them all whether you think you deserve it or not.
The sun is in the sky whether we deserve it or not, whether we can see it or not.
Neither Deserving Nor Undeserving
Now, this is where things get interesting.
I propose a question to you: What if you are neither deserving or undeserving?
Where does that leave you?
You cannot have one without the other. To think you’re deserving means that you’re contrasting your previous self, or others, as undeserving and vice versa. This constitutes a MASSIVE judgment on your part, and a judgment that I would argue does not serve you.
Who Are We To Judge Anyways?
We think we earned the promotion that was given to another colleague of ours who we think doesn’t deserve the promotion.
Just because we think this, does not make it the universal truth, it only makes it true for us.
It’s only true for us because we believe our thoughts about this person being less deserving than us. Because we deem them as less than deserving, we will now treat them like they’re beneath us, like they don’t deserve it.
What if neither of us was deserving or undeserving? It is likely that if we saw the both of us as equals, without judgment, we would have the capacity to actually be happy for them instead of criticizing them.
We’ve all done it, and most still do. We put in a hard day’s work and decide we deserve a little treat. So we decide to hit our favourite fast food joint, bring out the ice cream or chips, maybe even have a couple more glasses of wine than normal.
All because we think we deserve it.
Why didn’t we deserve it before the end of a hard day’s work?
Why were we not worthy enough to treat ourselves?
Because we didn’t think we deserved it.
If we’d just stop judging ourselves so harshly we wouldn’t ever feel the need to treat ourselves with shit that doesn’t serve us. We would recognize our innate worth and treat ourselves with infinite love oppose to false senses of pleasure.
We would stop craving the need to deserve something because we would recognize we were never undeserving in the first place and neither was anybody else.
Being Deserving vs Being Innately Worthy
My next proposal is this: What if every single human being’s birthright is that they are worthy?
What if just for being born, which is a miracle in itself, we are all worthy of this miracle of our birth and therefore we are all worthy of the magnificence life has to offer.
You know how I know we’re all equally as worthy? We were born.
Worthy of love. Worthy of attention. Worthy of money. Worthy of hugs. Worthy of a promotion. Worthy of our dream mate. Worthy to have the whole world at our fingertips.
We are all innately worthy. If you are looking for proof of this then look no further than your own aliveness. You were worthy enough to have been given the greatest gift of all, this gift is called LIFE.
Lastly, It’s All In Your Head
Beyond all the jibberish I wrote up to this point, whether you think you’re deserving or undeserving, you just think that.
Beneath all of our thoughts is the infinite truth, we all came into this world as equal beings, and that never changes, only our thoughts do.
Learn from all of your experiences, opportunities are everywhere.
I write this with a heavy heart. Merely thinking about what my first words would be to someone who has cancer takes my breath and words away. Which is OK, as long as I keep breathing because I don’t think it’s the words that matter so much.
Even though I can say I have first-hand experience with wondering what to say to someone with cancer, being that my wife has cancer, this does not mean that my advice is neither right nor wrong. It is simply my perspective.
Words Were Never Enough
For the first several years of our relationship, I kept looking for the right words, the perfect words to say to my wife that would ease her pain and suffering. Words that would bring her more ups and fewer downs.
What I neglected to realize after years of looking for that magic phrase is that words in and of themselves hold no power. It is the one who speaks that holds all of the power.
The words of some of the greatest leaders in history only held power because of who was speaking them. The power to be an enormously influential presence came as a result of their actions and who they showed up to be. Without their actions and presence, their words would hold about as much power as you or me.
Once I started to see this, I knew it was time to focus on who I am showing up as opposed to what I was going to say.
Be More Than Words
Now, I could be way off the mark here as I have never had cancer, I have only shared my life with someone who does. Based on my experience and feedback from my wife, one of the last things someone with cancer wants is to be surrounded by pity and fear.
Your ability to be present, while safely holding space full of love, understanding, and compassion will provide them infinitely more of what you want to give them than words ever could.
if we really want to be more than words, we must be love and not fear.
This is why it is so important to face your own fears surrounding cancer. If fear is dominating you then it is also dominating your love. Your presence will radiate fear and they will sense it.
What Would Mother Theresa Do?
Imagine, during one of the most painful memories you have ever experienced, that Mother Theresa approached you, with no words and no fear. She was radiating infinite love, compassion, and understanding as she walked toward you. You could just feel this infinite energy of love swarming all around you.
When she got to you, she draped her arms around you. She held you as if you were the only other person on this earth other than her.
Sure, Mother Theresa is a very wise woman, and she may whisper some words of wisdom in your ear. Ultimately, it is not the words that matter, anyone can say them, it is that they came from an infinite well of love.
It is her, as a human being, as a symbol of love, that brings you comfort, not the words.
See Them In Person
Nothing compares to human to human contact. It allows you to share space together, suspended by time and bound by love. You cannot achieve this through even the best technology in the world. Whether it be Facebook Live, FaceTime, or even a holographic figure of each other, none of them compare.
It doesn’t matter how close you are to them. It could be a work colleague that you have only spoken to once. If they aren’t well enough to make it into work and are at home resting, find out where they live and surprise them with your presence.
If you want to give them the gift of love, put yourself in front of them, give them a hug.
What If I Can’t See Them In Person?
Again, I strongly recommend you do find a way to see them in person, especially if this is someone close to you. Make sure you have exhausted every single option before you consider this. I understand that certain circumstances may not allow a face to face presence, and in this case, you need to find another way to show them your love beyond words.
The best gift we can give to someone with cancer is love, and lots of it
Ideas to show your love:
Make something for them (food, art, woodwork, be creative)
Send them a gift of an experience (a play, sporting event, date night, something they’ve always wanted to do but never did)
Donate to a charity in their name
Plant a tree in their name
Write a song or poem, maybe even send a video of you reciting
Put your thinking cap on, make your gift of love thoughtful and memorable
The more complicated we make life, the more chaotic and ambiguous it seems. This ambiguous chaos leads to our inevitable unhappiness and stress. Life never was meant to be complicated. Once we actually see through all of our made up bullshit, life is actually quite pleasant and simple.
Musings On Life’s Simplicity
When you don’t know who to be, be yourself
When you think you don’t have time, time is all you have
When you’re in a circumstance you chose, remember who chose it
When you’re thirsty, drink water
When you’re hungry, eat
When you’re tired, sleep
When you feel sad, cry
When you feel happy, smile
When you feel grateful, give thanks
When you feel any emotion, let it be felt
When you’re stressed, see that it is thought created
When you think something is a problem, you just think that
When you don’t want to, say no
When you do want to, say yes
When you really really want something, go for it
When an opportunity is presented, take it
When you’re in debt, earn more and/or spend less
When you’re indecisive, make a decision
When you feel resentful, forgive
When you want to feel love, love yourself
When you have an injury, let it heal
When you feel lost, go on a journey to find yourself
When you say you can’t, you won’t
When you say you can, you will
When you think you have to do something, you have a choice
When something needs to be said, say it
When you think you’ve wronged someone, apologize
When you say you don’t know, you won’t
When you say you will know, you will
When you’re curious, explore
When you’re a know it all, you don’t
When your mind is open, new ideas are allowed in
When your mind is closed, they aren’t
When someone’s speaking, listen
When someone says thanks, say you’re welcome
When you hate your job, learn to love it or find another one
When you think it’s personal, it’s never about you
When you think it’s about you, everyone is about themselves
When you need help, ask for it
When you think you have to be right, you don’t
When you think you don’t know who you are, you’re not your thoughts
When you say you will do something, do it
When it’s your responsibility, own it
When you think life’s complicated, it is
When you see that life’s not complicated, it isn’t
Learn from all of your experiences, opportunities are everywhere.
To me, these 5 lessons that I learned through my journey of being a caregiver convey the profound simplicity of life.
1. There Are More Important Things
Being a caregiver to my wife, who has Leukemia, has influenced me to rethink what is really important in life. I used to think things like money, status, keeping mediocre relationships, pleasing others, getting out of debt, and petty complaints about things I couldn’t control were all of high importance in life, among other things.
When faced with a real risk of losing the one you love so dearly, all of those things fall to the wayside. Suddenly, all those things that you used to base all of your life decisions around aren’t all that important anymore. I can tell you this much, in the grand scheme of things, they aren’t worth ruffling your feathers over.
At the end of the day, all we ever want to feel in our lives are unconditional love, joy, and fulfillment. I was looking in the wrong direction my entire life up until I had this shift in perspective. I then realized I already had the recipe for unconditional love, joy, and fulfillment within me the entire time. It’s just like when you are looking everywhere for your sunglasses only to find out that you have been wearing them on top of your head the entire time.
2. Look For The Silver Lining
When I made a decision to start dating my current wife over 9 years ago, she already had Leukemia. In fact, she had Leukemia for 9 years prior to us starting to date. To think that this brush with cancer and potential death could pose a potential opportunity would have been absurd to me at the time, and borderline cruel.
I mean really, how could being a caregiver to the love of your life possibly present an opportunity? At the time, this would have sounded like positive thinking hocus pocus crap. Now? Not so much.
Over the years, I have learned to embrace the experience. I made a decision to use it as a catalyst that would eventually wake me up to more of who and what I really am. We are all equipped with an infinite well of innate wisdom and an inner genius just waiting to be tapped in to.
There is a silver lining within every experience, even within the worst tragedy you can possibly imagine. Time is going to pass regardless of what you do with it, we may as well look for the silver lining and use it to our advantage.
3. Be More Than Words
For numerous years at the beginning of our relationship, I just kept looking for those perfect words that would take my wife’s pain away. Words that would ease the suffering and despair. Words that would get her to know how much I love her and how much I care. There are no such words.
It’s who I am, how I show up, and the presence I bring to the table that has the power to transform. No words will ever match the potential impact that can have. When I’m radiating infinite energy of unconditional love and understanding in her presence, it provides her with a feeling of safety, love, and security that words had always failed to provide.
The next time you don’t know what to say to someone, say nothing, be more than the words you could not find. It is not the words you say that translate the feeling you desire them to feel, it is who you show up as.
4. It’s Not Personal
As I’m driving home from work, I’m imagining coming home to my wife and being received with a big warm hug and a tender heart. Her loving smile shows how excited and happy she is to see me.
I walk in the door and pause for a second, waiting for my imagined dream to come true. Instead, there is dead silence, all is still. I hear some rustling in the kitchen so I take my shoes off to go and greet her. As I walk into the kitchen I receive a “hey” as she continues to do what she is doing.
“This is not what I had in mind”, I think to myself, “She is barely acknowledging my existence.” I retaliate by doing exactly as she is doing, my demeanour suddenly changes and I become her. I am now full of tension throughout my entire body while radiating negative energy. “What did I do to deserve this treatment?” I think to myself.
I am about to confront her regarding her attitude, which to me screams “I don’t care!” At this point, I’m thinking “alright, here we go again, this is not what I want to come home to nor is this what I deserve to come home to.”
With her back turned to me she muffles under her breath, “sorry if I’m not myself, my whole body is in pain and I have a terrible migraine.” Well…that sure changes things! I was just about to make this whole situation about me when it actually had nothing to do with me.
The more this happened, the more I realized that it was never about me, and it never is. It is always about the other person, they are either in physical or emotional pain. This pain is either caused by their biology and/or their thoughts. Neither of which am I the root cause of.
The next time someone says or does something that you are about to take personally, gently remind yourself that they are in pain. When you take it personally, you become them. When you don’t, you become a source of compassion that they so desperately need at the moment.
5. Blind to Gratitude
For the first several years of my wife and I being together, all I could focus on was what life would be like without her. What would it be like to go to bed at night and wake up each morning alone, without her. What it would be like to come home from work and she is not there to greet me. Because I put so much focus on a future that may actually never happen, I started treating her like she was already gone.
My wife said to me one day, “You’re treating me like I am already gone.” I thought about that statement for several seconds, I knew she was right. That was a tough pill to swallow for me because how she felt is the exact opposite of how I wanted her to feel.
Her statement hit home with me. It also influenced me to take a look at the rest of my life to see where I am also doing the exact same thing. My wife has been my greatest teacher for appreciating the small things in life and appreciating them NOW.
When we become so focused on what we don’t have, or on what we may end up losing in the future, we become blind to what we have right NOW. We will treat others as if they don’t even exist. We will treat your job like we have already lost it. We will treat ourselves with a lack of care for our future.
A great example of this that resonates with most people is when someone is about to eat something that is terrible for their health and attempt to justify it by saying, “Life is short.” In actuality, what they should really be saying is, “I’m making my life shorter.” The focus is on living a short life and now their decisions are in alignment with creating the future of living a shorter life by ingesting food that has been proven to cause disease.
Your decisions and actions will always be in alignment with your thoughts. Decide to be grateful for all that you are and all that you have right NOW and watch your decisions fall into alignment with what you’re grateful for. The best part? You will make better decisions RESISTANCE FREE.
Learn from all of your experiences, opportunities are everywhere.
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