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For nearly five years I’ve been stuck in the customer service industry.  And for almost three years I’ve been with an employer that seems content with keeping me underemployed.  By underemployed I mean not putting me in a position where I can utilize my work experience and educational background.  Don’t get me wrong I am grateful to have a job especially in this horrible economy; but I feel so empty.  The bad thing about being with my current employer are the GOOD things about the position that create a false sense of comfort. 

What are those good things? The job itself is very easy.  There is enormous flexibility in scheduling including nearly 21 vacation days per year (which is huge for an entry level position) and the ability to swap shifts and schedules in order to take time off without using vacation.  Overtime is offered regularly.  And there is a good work atmosphere where I can freely and regularly interact with co-workers. 

I’m sure many of you reading this are asking yourselves: what’s his problem?  The problem is not only should a person with an advanced degree be making considerably more money, but promotions are unfortunately based on discrimination and nepotism.  Lastly, and most importantly is my desire to be out in the community positively impacting the lives of others by being face-to-face with people rather than confined to a cubicle.  These things are two important to overlook especially when one is trying to plan for a financially stable future. Unfortunately, compared to other industry leaders my pay is far below average.  Even more disturbing is that for nearly three years management has been content to let me, someone with a post-graduate degree and nearly fifteen years of work experience in everything from politics, academia, social work, etc., languish in an entry level position.  These things are not viable trade offs for the few small aforementioned perks. 

I’ve decided that in 2014 it is time to free myself from the grips of a tyrannical employer that is content with letting someone of my talents, skill level and ability languish while they employ cronyism.  I’ve asked God for some serious help in this matter as I’ve run out of ideas to change my situation. What do you think? 

Follow me on Twitter @POS_STIMULI5

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Relationships can be difficult but more importantly they take an enormous amount of effort and work to make them successful. Each relationship whether they be personal or professional relies on a few key elements that are critical to their health, longevity, and success.

Communication, I believe, is the most critical element of any relationship. A lack of effective communication can lead to the downfall of any relationship whatever it be personal or professional. Furthermore, it’s not only important to maintain communication but to have POSITIVE communication. People who routinely talk past or at one another will more than likely never have a fruitful relationship. Likewise, it is also important to learn to agree to disagree. Disagreement is a fact of life and understanding that we all have different opinions and views on a variety of topics is important to maintaining a healthy relationship.

Although I believe communication to be the most important aspect of any relationship it is not the only element necessary to preserve healthy and successful relationships. In my next blog post I will discuss the element of trust in relationships.

For much of my life I was under the impression that only money could make me happy.  I was wrong.  Do I wish I had more money? Of course. I could pay my bills, get work done on my car, and take care of my family.  Some extra cash would also provide some small sense of security.  I used to spend time thinking about all the neat things I could’ve had with more money. 
But when I look at my life I look at all the great people I’ve met and the great friendships I’ve formed.  There was a point in my life when I did have money and I remember how it corrupted me. I was arrogant, conceited, heartless, and deceitful.  I cared for no one or nothing and as a result God took it all away from me; the job, money, house, and cars.  I remember being angry at God and blaming him because I lost everything when in reality it was my fault. 

I honestly believe God stripped me of money to teach me obedience and humility.  And the truth is that I  absolutely deserved it because I was out of control.  When I think back on my life at that time I realized I missed an excellent opportunity to show God my appreciation and gratitude for blessing me.  I realize now that true happiness is found in obedience to God and if he ever blesses me again financially I will make sure I do not repeat the mistakes of the past.

Follow me on Twitter @POS_STIMULI5

The world is difficult and life’s day-to-day obstacles can make things harder.  Nowhere is this more evident than in our relationships with others.  I’ve often observed that poor communication often dissolves relationships.  Effective communication not only means communicating in a way that allows for the expression of divergent points of view but also how we react as individuals to things others say.  Body language is a critical aspect of communication because it lets us know if the person we are communicating with is listening attentively or is disinterested and vice versa.  Body language doesn’t have to be seen because it can be sensed.  In this world where much of our communication is done electronically it is often times easy to gauge responses from individuals by their silence.  I’ve realized that slow responses or silence can be attributed to what was said. 

Smartphones have taken the human aspect out of communication and as a result the basic etiquette of effective communication has been lost amidst text messages, instant messaging, video chats, and e-mail.  It is easier simply to tune someone out than it is to sit face-to-face and listen to others even when we disagree with them.  Although I utilize that very same technology I also make it a point to get out, put away the smartphone and speak with others face to face.  I truly believe that the depersonalization of human communication is ruining relationships.  Although technology is wonderful it cannot replace the warmth and satisfaction of the human spirit.

Most people are content to go through life experiencing as little difficulty as possible.  This is wishful thinking.  We have probably all at one point in time or another wished we had more money and leisure time and fewer financial, emotional, and relationship problems.  I’ve wished the same.  But challenge is what makes life rewarding.  By “challenge” I mean the willingness and desire to try new things. 

Accepting and embracing new challenges not only adds variety to life but provides an overwhelming sense of satisfaction when the goal is accomplished.  For instance, I have always been an athletic person and a gym rat but I was never really able to bench press anymore than my own weight.  I challenged myself to a goal of being able to bench press ten repetitions of 225 lbs in two months.  I began by starting light and perfecting the proper technique so as to avoid injury and maximize each rep.  I also made sure to schedule my weightlifting to include enough repetition with the proper and necessary amount of rest.  Within two months I not only achieved my goal I surpassed it by two repetitions. 

This may not sound like a big deal but for me it was because I was able to identify a challenge and conquer it.  We all have challenges we would like to overcome but to conquer those challenges we must not run from them but run towards them.  We must put our faith and trust in God and in ourselves and craft a plan that will allow us to overcome challenges and reach our true potential.

I’ve learned that life is too short to waste time focusing on things I can’t control.  For years I’ve spent more time worrying about what someone has and what I don’t have rather than worrying about building on the things I DO have.

This type of thinking is not only negative but it creates tunnel vision allowing a person only to see how he or she fits into his/her own perception of the world.  In other words, if we spend less time focusing on others and more time building upon the positive aspects of our lives we could enjoy a higher quality of life and possibly realize our true potential.

Positivity is a frame of mind in much the same way negativity is; therefore it is important that one reinforces positive thoughts with positive behaviors.  Positive thoughts mean nothing unless they are buttressed by positive actions.  I am by no means a philosopher or thought guru but what I am is a person who has experienced enough negativity in my life to know how to avoid it.

I use a combination of mental and physical stimulation to help relax and refresh both my mind and body.  Often times I merge both mind and body exercise and the results are refreshing.  It’s important that in this high stress world we remove ourselves from the day-to-day grind by focusing on the positive things we can do to improve our lives.

It has been my experience that negative thinking can ruin any relationship be it marriage, friendship, working relationship, etc.  We live in a society that overwhelms us with useless information a large portion of which involves images and sound bytes of people in conflict.  Whether it be nations at war; partisan politics; or so-called reality television we live in a culture that not only feeds on but embraces the destruction of relationships.

As a society we have become so conditioned to conflict that we crave it.  Cage fighting and YouTube clips of brawls and beat downs are in high demand along with so-called reality television shows showing women denigrating one another.  Such sensory destruction is the topic of social media chatter and water cooler conversations.  God has been completely removed from the picture and replaced with conflict.  Then as a society we wonder why divorce has become the norm and the family structure has all but dissolved into nothing.

It is my belief that a person who remains in a continuous state of conflict is blind to all the positive things life has to offer.  Furthermore, an entire society in perpetual conflict is apt to repeat the mistakes of past societies.  For all the great things America is it’s faults are equally as distressing because conflict has become embedded in its DNA.  Consequentially conflict is a filter down characteristic and it has filtered down from the highest rungs of our society into the minds of our children.  Thus, conflict leads to violence and as a people we not only crave but we demand violence.

All of this stems from conflict and conflict stems from negativity.  Simply put, there is too much negativity in our day-to-day relationships with one another.  By simply starting to erase the negativity in our day-to-day relationships with one another we can possibly the larger conflicts inherent in our society.  But it has to start with positivity and it has to start with our willingness to sit down and talk out our problems rather than fighting or shooting each other or blasting each other over social media or sending warships into other nations.  Until we demonstrate that we have the willingness to have constructive and meaningful dialogue with one another our society and our world will continue to erode.

Life is about trial and error.  Many of us go through life and learn from our mistakes while others repeat them over and over again.  I have often found that the one mistake I make repeatedly is that I allow doubt and negativity cloud the potential for success.  I have discovered that whenever I make a plan, stay focused on the plan, and think positive I am successful.  Negativity rarely breeds success and often breeds contempt, anger and eventually hatred.  Conversely positivity breeds confidence (not arrogance) which in turn leads to success.

The concept of success means different things to different people.  For some people success means material wealth or financial stability.  For others success means getting a promotion or getting married.  The point is success is a concept that is a direct construct of psychology and character: state of mind and character determine what an individual views as success. For instance, a drug dealer who lives in the cutthroat world of narcotics trafficking may define success differently from a recovering cancer patient. Success means many different things to different people. Who you are as an individual defines your perception of success.

One misconception is that success equals happiness. Nothing could be further from the truth. Many Americans idolize Hollywood and celebrities and their lifestyles. Many Americans also think that success gained through fame and fortune equals happiness but the evidence proves otherwise. If success equaled happiness then why did Whitney Houston, Chris Farley, Jim Belushi, Amy Winehouse, Tom Sizemore and others search for happiness or relief in drugs and alcohol? Surely their vast riches and fame should have been enough. The problem is that they placed the world rather than God at the center of their lives.

Using celebrities is a great example because Americans are fascinated with Hollywood and celebrity lifestyles. The problem is that drug and alcohol abuse and debauchery are prerequisites for success in Hollywood. Thus, success does not automatically guarantee happiness and often does not bring one spiritual peace. The question about whether success equals happiness is a subjective one and is only determined by the individual and how he or she defines success and happiness. These concepts have different meanings to different people. But no matter what the meaning developing and maintaining a positive outlook ultimately determines how successful one is.