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Be More. Do More. Live More. Take What Is Yours.

It should be you

We had been talking for nearly 15 minutes when I realized that he couldn’t read. I wanted to cry.  I wanted to wrap my arms around him and pat his back and say “We’ll take care of this, don’t you worry.”

Instead, I asked him if he knew how to read.  “You don’t have to tell me if you don’t want to,” I said.  The more we talked, the more he revealed about the profound shame he felt about his illiteracy. And he didn’t want to listen when I assured him that it wasn’t shameful. That it could be remedied.

He just shook his head and said, “It’s too hard.”

And my heart just about broke. But I saw something in his response that repeats itself endlessly:

We do not do enough to honor ourselves

We bend over backwards for approval and pats on the head from our bosses, spouses, siblings, parents, coaches, friends, and teachers. We strive with hideous effort to say “look at me look at me! I’m here! I exist and that’s a good thing!”

Often, we have no sense of identity beyond what we are worth to another person. That is not the mindset of a confident, healthy  individual. That is the mindset of a weaker person expecting to be dominated by another. Perhaps even thinking that that is what they deserve.

No!

Then

Honor your body. Fill it with good things. It is your birthright to be better. It is your obligation to be more. Give yourself the gift you deserve: progress.

Honor your mind. Fill it with good things. Make it useful. Keep it sharp. The ability to formulate coherent sentences is vanishing rapidly. I see it every day. It is indicative of the inability to formulate coherent thoughts.

I have some news: if you depend on those who can still think, if you let your mind and all of its analytical capabilities dwindle…then someone else is going to be making your decisions and reasoning on behalf of those who no longer can.

No.

Quit trying to take care of everyone but yourself. Step up and take what is yours: health and happiness and peace of mind. Don’t blame others, but don’t blame yourself to the point where you’ve received such a self-inflicted bludgeoning that you are paralyzed with shame.

You have a purpose, and just because someone doesn’t believe that doesn’t make it less true. Your purpose is to make progress, in any and all ways possible.

Honor yourself by honoring your body, biology, and mind. Be more. Do more. Live more. Stop looking around for solutions. Look in the mirror. Look at your body, look yourself in the eyes, and figure out just what you are going to accomplish today.

Then, tomorrow, repeat and improve. Endless, predictable, exquisite progress.

Why would you have it any other way?

One day you’ll be dead. That is a fact. From now until then, every day should be filled with joy, progress, and a hell of a lot of laughter.

Some of us will spend many of the precious days left to us wallowing in pits we never should have dug in the first place.

Some of us will say, “It’s too hard.”

No…no it isn’t.

Josh

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  • Jaky Astik February 11, 2010, 12:29 am

    Yes, of course. I totally agree with you 🙂

    • Josh Hanagarne February 11, 2010, 1:16 pm

      Totally? Totally? Come on Jaky, you can disagree a little bit:)

  • Fiona February 11, 2010, 2:49 am

    About a hundred years ago when I was at ‘varsity, I had a book called The Secret of Staying in Love (John Powell). Its focus was on the absolute necessity of humans to be able to love themselves. If you can’t “love” yourself or a least be at peace with yourself, you sure cant love someone else fully and completely.
    Your post reminded me of this book, so I have hauled it out to re-read – thanks!

    • Josh Hanagarne February 11, 2010, 1:16 pm

      Fiona, I’ll take a look. Thanks for the recommend, lunatic cyclist.

  • Mick Morris February 11, 2010, 6:41 am

    Kudos to you Sir…..compassion and wisdom…

  • Heather February 11, 2010, 7:47 am

    Dude. . . . you so totally rock. . . . this is another one that I will be passing around to people.

    Now–about this individual with the reading difficulty–are you working with him or did he just up and bail right there? What are the chances he’ll come back and ask for help? I hope you’re not in that one alone, because even though literacy really is best in the one-on-one, sometimes it’s better if there are 2 or 3 others in there helping out too.

    Thanks Josh!

    • Josh Hanagarne February 11, 2010, 1:15 pm

      We have dedicated adult literacy centers. If I see him again, I’ll try and get him interested.

  • Joe DeGiorgio February 11, 2010, 7:48 am

    Great post, Josh. It’s all about the confidence and the belief we can get it done, no matter what our “it” is.

    Very inspirational.

    • Josh Hanagarne February 11, 2010, 1:14 pm

      Well said. Speaking of “it,” mine is shifting all over this week. (not an innuendo)

  • Julianne Fuchs-Musgrave February 11, 2010, 7:59 am

    What a lovely Valentine! Thank you

    • Josh Hanagarne February 11, 2010, 1:14 pm

      It was all for you, Julianne. Hopefully nobody else read it:)

  • Srinivas Rao February 11, 2010, 10:21 am

    Wow. Thanks for sharing that Josh. It’s amazing how many of us let the opinions and mindset of others dictate our direction in life. Yet when we are willing to take what is ours, it adds some real excitement and possibility to our lives.

    • Josh Hanagarne February 11, 2010, 1:13 pm

      I think I’m able to practice what I preach here about 60% of the time. I still think it’s true, and as long as I can see progress, I’m going to keep thinking so.

  • Chris February 11, 2010, 12:21 pm

    i’m tryin’, josh. i’m tryin’.

    • Josh Hanagarne February 11, 2010, 12:58 pm

      Me too, buddy. Whatever I write, I’m telling myself first, anyone else second.

  • Justin Matthews February 11, 2010, 12:42 pm

    You have adressed one of my biggest problems, that is taking care of me. Thanks for the wake up call.
    an aside, do you have adult literacy classes through the library? I have always been interested in teaching people to read if informally.
    Justin

    • Josh Hanagarne February 11, 2010, 1:12 pm

      I’m not sure about the classes, because there are dedicated adult literacy centers here, so we’d be duplicating some effort. But it’s worth doing, if you’re really interested, see what you can do!

  • Julie Feilen February 11, 2010, 12:56 pm

    You rock, Josh. Right in my face. I’ve finally learned some of this the last couple of years, but it only took me 40 to get there. It’s all good, it’s all right, but we the progress is the key to life.

    Thanks for sharing your gifts…

  • Jared February 11, 2010, 1:11 pm

    Amen. Feelings about myself should come from myself…. at least that’s my goal.

  • Heather February 11, 2010, 1:43 pm

    Hey Josh – You have a Sunshine Award back at my blog; Congratulations!

    Also, this bit really hit home; thank you.

    “One day you’ll be dead. That is a fact. From now until then, every day should be filled with joy, progress, and a hell of a lot of laughter.”

  • Boris Bachmann February 11, 2010, 2:20 pm

    That would be very rewarding work – good stuff!

  • Felix February 12, 2010, 3:44 am

    Hi Josh – Really great post! Nice job on looking at the why, not the how… that is, writing about WHY people aren’t doing what they could, versus HOW… “Where there’s a will, there’s a way” – if people wanted to and knew they could, they would. 99% of people need WHY help, not HOW help.

    I’m a Life Coach, and here’s a tip that may help next time you encounter someone with an unresourceful belief system. Try phrases starting with “A person can…” for example, “A person can learn to read.” When you talk to someone directly (“You can learn to read”), their negative self-belief can block a valid comment. When you talk about “a person”, these beliefs may not come into play, and the beautiful thing is that the way our unconscious mind absorbs this comment, they’ll still apply it to themselves.

    I get the feeling you are a very caring person from your articles, so I thought I’d share something which will hopefully come in useful in your Kindness Toolkit. Happy to expand on this if you like. 🙂

    Cheers,
    Felix

  • Michele | aka Raw Juice Girl February 12, 2010, 6:45 pm

    Wow, Josh, this is just phenomenal. I am guilty of thinking “it’s too hard” myself. The majority of the time, I try anyway, but there are times… Well, there are times I have given up.

    This post really resonated with me. Bless you for sharing this message so passionately and beautifully!!

    And you are so right: no, it isn’t!!! 😀

    *smiles*
    Michele

  • Jay February 13, 2010, 1:07 am

    Thank you.

    I’ve been reading your blog for two or three months now, and I’m so amazed that someone can build an empire (I mean, it’s getting there) on compassion.

    Because of this post, I think my tomorrow will be better than expected.

    Best to you.

    • Josh Hanagarne February 13, 2010, 9:02 am

      Jay, I agree, but why is it surprising? I think you’re right, but I’ve been surprised as well, and I”m not sure why…it’s exactly what is needed.

      • Jay February 14, 2010, 1:08 pm

        It’s not the compassion that’s surprising. Ever seen Before Sunset? Julie Delpy’s character: “The people that are the most giving, hardworking and capable of making this world better, usually don’t have the ego and ambition to be a leader.” Compassion and ambition mostly only meet in passing, but you seem to balance both. That’s what’s amazing.

  • Roman February 14, 2010, 12:17 am

    Knew it long ago , and have been preaching it to people for a while. Love it!!!!
    Only somtimes I forget about it , and post like this one reminds me of why should I get up and do something.
    Thnx.

  • McTofu February 14, 2010, 1:53 pm

    Hey Josh, just happened upon your website and love this post. I get a few small anxiety attacks when thinking about how people will perceive what I have to say on my blog as being ‘unqualified’ or ‘not an expert in the field’ but then I think, well screw that for a bunch of monkeys, my experience is relevant and if it is mine, then I AM qualified! Your post is most timely in helping me realise that I can do, say and blog things that people will connect with with, if it comes from a place of integrity, honesty and passion for what I believe in. Thanks for the post, really enjoyed reading it!

    • Josh Hanagarne February 14, 2010, 2:15 pm

      Remember pal, at the end of the day, there are more important things than blogs. It’s just pixels on a screen.

  • McTofu February 14, 2010, 2:21 pm

    Yup, absolutely spot on. I just need to remind myself of that every so often!