2023 October 31 The scariest thing in life

Oct 31, 2023

This is Jim Cranston from 7EveryMinute and 7EveryMinute.com, the podcast and website about reimagining your life. Thanks for joining me today to talk about the scary things in life. If you like what you hear today, please leave a like, tell your friends, send me a message.


Tonight, there's a big All Saints Day Eve at Spanish Mass tonight. I'm not especially fond of the modern day Halloween, but Day of the Dead, as they do it in Mexico, is really very inspiring. It's all about celebrating the lives of those that came before you. It's a very interesting holiday. It's not at all what the parties are about. There is a huge display celebrating Mexican Week at the Rockefeller Center in New York City going on now.


[There is a slide show and video shared in the video at 1:15 to 5:20]


It's a very interesting culture, and if you've ever been there and seen it in person, you will realize it's an extremely colorful and energetic culture. In Guanajuato (where I go) is one of the places they make a huge deal of Día de los Muertos. They literally decorate the streets. They make big drawings on the streets, remembering the people that came before them or things that are important to the culture. That's more what I think of when I think of Halloween.


In celebration of Halloween and All Saints Day, we'll talk about scary things today. I'm going to talk about one of the most scary things that could happen in life - basically not living life to the fullest when we have the chance. I was at a 40th ordination anniversary for two priests this past weekend. It was a lot of fun. I met a lot of people I haven't seen in a long time. It was fascinating, seeing many people that I hadn't seen in many years, and seeing how some had changed. 


I remember a book I started to read by Dr. Phil.  He had a story about going to a high school reunion, and a person he knew ran up to him. Phil, how's it going? I see you're famous, that's great. They'd talked, and he'd say, Remember that football game we had? His answer was interesting. He said, Actually no, I don't. It's been 40 years, and I've had a lot more things to focus on in those 40 years! That really sums up my thoughts,  Some of the people who I meet every day are still living the good old days, while others couldn't wait to tell you about all the new things they're living in their life now.


It was really very interesting how they had different ways they viewed life and their place in it. Not shockingly, the people who are all excited and telling you stuff seem to be happier and more satisfied with life in general.


To be clear, not everyone is having a fabulous time, but they're making the best use of what they have, and that made an important difference in their lives. Remember last week we talked about the need for satisfaction and purpose. That tends to lead to enjoyment, which typically brings happiness.


It's a really important path. Happiness isn't something you get. Happiness results from enjoyment, and enjoyment typically results from satisfaction in what you do, fulfilling a purpose in life. It's important to note that happiness is not really the goal. It's the result of doing enjoyable things that bring satisfaction and purpose to your life. That's what brings you happiness. It's often how people confuse pleasure and happiness. There are many uncertainties in the world today, but there's nothing new about that. What strikes me as different, though, is that many people are focused on pleasure, not happiness. 


Pleasure doesn't bring happiness. It's fleeting. If you started doing something that was pleasurable yesterday, today it's okay, and tomorrow it's a little boring. When you have something every day, it's predictable. The pleasure goes away and it doesn't bring happiness anymore. But enjoyment resulting from satisfaction and purpose, that never gets old because what you're fulfilling is always changing and improving.


But enjoyment based happiness is different in another important way as well. The focus is typically different. It tends to point outwards, not inwards. If your purpose is to help children graduate high school or help your own grandkids be prepared for work, the actions to accomplish those tasks may have to change as the world changes. But the goal does not change, so your satisfaction doesn't change, and your purpose is always fulfilled. That brings your enjoyment. 


What's the scary part in all of this?  It's supposed to be Halloween after all. Every day I meet people who essentially stop living life at some point - for a variety of reasons. There are many reasons, but essentially only one result. They've isolated themselves from life, and so they cannot truly enjoy what life has to give. Think of it as going to a performance, a nice big live performance. If you go to a live event, you have everything all about the show all around you. The smells, the people, the noises, the emotions.


Maybe some things are annoying, but some things are really neat. Maybe a lot of things that you came to see you saw, maybe you missed some, but you saw a bunch of things you didn't expect. Now think about going to a movie you've seen of a live performance. They can zoom in, get interesting sound bites, and see things that you couldn't see at the live event. But it's not really the same.  You don't smell the smells. You don't hear all the sounds. You don't see all the little distractions that give you all the nuances in life.


That's what sets apart a really good movie from an average movie. I've seen some interesting technique talks on this. In a really interesting movie, they have a dialogue, but then you notice that, behind the person, there is something that sets the tone for the dialogue. A good movie has all those little things so it really draws you into that scene, makes you part of the movie, and that's what happens in real life. It's very hard to get that watching something from a distance. 


Another problem is that you only see what the director thinks is important. When you're actually at the event, you can look at what draws your interest, but when you look at what somebody else has decided is important, you may not connect with it nearly as much.


That's the difference between not really experiencing life and really experiencing it firsthand. The scariest part is to never really get involved with life, because it's disappointed you or it seems too complex. There are a lot of reasons, but if you walk away from it, life becomes very hollow. It becomes something that you look at rather than be a part of. You only look at it through the evening news or the social media. You're letting someone else dictate what parts of life you see, and they have a different agenda than you do. 


That's the really scary part. Even if they are honest, chances are they'll look at life differently than you. You'll miss many things that would bring you joy, that you could enjoy, just because you're you. That the biggest risk of not really embracing life.


You lose the desire to discover all that the world has to offer, and that isolation tends to make you jaded as a justification for the isolation itself. There are many really good reasons to be wary of life: difficult home life, trauma of any sort, external influences.


Obviously, life is not a perfect situation all the time. But many people will look at the same circumstances and take very different actions. We've talked about how we can react to a situation, but acting differently takes another step further.  We can think about a situation differently, but then we can also act differently when a situation happens.


Part of it has to do with practice. If you take little tiny chances, you will learn to succeed in little tiny steps, and you'll be willing to take bigger risks. I'm not talking about needless risks or foolish behavior. Rather, it's just pushing yourself to perform at a higher level and to engage more with life, both more often and more deeply.


I've known a few people who have traveled extensively as children, and their worldview is entirely different than other people who grew up in one area. It's fascinating. One common characteristic between them is that they're more willing to try something new that'll expand their horizon, their experiences.


It could be as simple as trying a new food or trying to learn a local dance, or something larger like trying to understand a culture's history. They tend to be curious about all aspects of life. They're actually curious about the real performance, not the live broadcast, but the real event. They're actually there. They're actually participating in life in every way. When you meet them years later, they not only have the memory, but the actual experience of being there. They have an energy that you don't get from viewing life remotely. It's scary to think about how many people now think that remotely viewing life is the same as living life. I know it's often difficult, but I would encourage you to really get out and try and experience the world first hand. Use common sense, of course.


If you're in this area, go to the Rockefeller Center. Even though it is still somewhat overproduced, you'll see a lot of people there who are very genuine. They'll be talking about their ancestors. They'll be remembering them and talking. You'll  smell the food that's being made. You actually get the Mexican culture.


If you don't want to do Mexico, go pick another culture with a major event. Go there and really experience it. Don't do anything foolish. Recognize that life has its challenges, and one way to avoid them is to discover them. You can't discover life by trying to live it behind a computer screen.


I've seen so many YouTube videos that are just someone in a camper, traveling around some country, often just the US, and they have tons of followers. Why? Because they're actually living real life. The goods are really good, sometimes there are bad things, but they're getting experience in overcoming challenges. They're also living life consistent with their purpose, which is to travel, meet people, discover situations. But wait, remember? Satisfaction and purpose. Satisfaction and purpose tend to lead to enjoyment, which leads to happiness. 


The real reason people often follow them is because they're genuinely happy. You want to be like that. We often forget that the reason they are happy is because they're doing what they want to do. They're out in life really doing it. That's the difficult part to take. By living life in person and not virtually, you give yourself the best way to attain true and lasting happiness.


The best travel shows aren't half as good as a bad trip to a place you really wanted to visit. You'll get back and say, I can't believe it. The hotel didn't have a room, and it took us two hours to check in, and when you're all done, you had a great time. Tons of things happened, you met a bunch of nice people at the hotel that helped you get everything straightened out. You have great stories. You had a fantastic time. Even a bad trip is better than a good day at work! 


Life isn't always perfect, but coupled with what we've learned about managing our attitudes in previous episodes, life can be consistently pretty darn good. That was a big long talk tonight. Thanks for sticking around. Remember that we only have one life, and it's up to us to live it in a way that brings us the most meaning to ourselves and to our purpose, because just cruising through life, mindlessly following some crowd or politically correct agenda to either side, will never be as satisfying as discovering life firsthand and truly experiencing it. Doing anything less is about the scariest thing I can think of. That's as close as I'll come to Halloween.


That's it for the evening. I hope for you to live life firsthand. There'll be problems, but there'll also be great times, and it'll be with you forever. Your homework (always optional) is to think: Do you tend to take little risks and put yourself out there in life, or stay quietly back and out of sight? Did you ever want to do something different and be adventurous? Be honest with yourself. It's only you who knows your answers. 


My mother's name was Katherine, but she always wished people called her Kathy. When I asked her why she didn't just introduce herself that way to new people, she said it just didn't seem right. Her mother would be disappointed. What's interesting is that she was telling me this story when she was in her 90s. She spent 90 years wanting to do something, but let somebody else's opinion keep her from doing it.


Don't do that. If you have something you really want to do, be honest with yourself. Think about how you can make this change. Extra points if you think of one small thing to try. Some new food, say hello in a different language, rent a camper instead of a cabin next time you go on vacation. It'll be even better if you try doing it for real Then write down how it felt. Don't forget to celebrate the wins, even the little ones. Celebration is super important. We talk about this a lot. It's super important so your brain really learns that success and doing things that you're committed to doing really make you happy. 


That's it for the evening. Thank you so much. As always, UKR7.com has a list of links where you can support Ukraine. The World Central Kitchen is there also at WCK.org. I would encourage you to get involved with some group, an individual, just anyone you meet in the street, just say hello.


Remember, one of the best ways to care for yourself is to care for others because it takes your focus from inside of you out to the world. That really opens up your world a lot. So if you can and you're able, please one of the donation sites, even if you just something local, even if it's just being pleasant to somebody, anything you can do to make the world just a teeny bit better. 


As always, thank you for stopping by. If you found something interesting or useful, please pass it along and please hit that like button. If not, please drop me a comment as to what you'd like to hear. Have a great week. Remember to life the life that you dreamed of, because that's the path to true contentment. Love and encouragement to everyone. See you next week on 7EveryMinute and 7EveryMinute.com. Thank you.


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