I’m so excited about the holidays and Christmas, especially being with my immediate and extended family. It probably doesn’t hurt that it’s 66 degrees and sunny today which is extremely unusual for Tennessee.
Let me tell you where today’s title comes from, 1st Grade Career Day. When I did my year-long doctoral internship while getting my PhD in psychology, part of my internship was in Metro Nashville Public Schools. One of my specialties in my PhD was psychometrics which is doing all sorts of testing, interpreting of tests and then doing counseling with kids, their parents and others regarding the outcome of those tests and problems they are going through which the tests could indicate a possible solution. During that internship I probably worked in 15-20 different schools in the Nashville area from preschool all the way up through high school. Especially when I worked with kindergartens and elementary school I was able to observe and even take part in a number of career days. Those were always lots of fun. I don’t think I was ever a part of one of those where I didn’t feel like I had some insights into my own life from what happened on that career day. It got to be kind of a game with me. After about six or eight of those, they became predictable to me.
What was predictable was what six year olds value; what is important to them and what is not important to them for the most part. I’m not saying this is absolute. Some of it depends on the way they’re raised. I guess I’m talking about the average six year old if there is such a thing. You could have some millionaire come in there who most of us adults would wish we could be. He has four houses and all these cars. He can do anything he wants to do. He can go on these incredible vacations and stuff like that. But to six year olds that guy was totally boring. They didn’t care anything about that.
In Nashville we had country music stars come in. That was sort of cool to them. It wasn’t cool to them (at least at that time years ago) because they made lots of money and lived in a big house. They liked the music! The star would come in with their guitar and maybe even a back-up person or two and they would sing a couple of songs or maybe even make up a song for the six year olds and get them singing along or clapping. I remember one person gave them tambourines to shake while they sang. It was loads of fun. That’s what was cool to the six year olds. It wasn’t all the money they made or the fame.
They thought pilots were really cool because they could fly this great big airplane. One of the most popular speakers I observed on career day was a guy who worked construction. He didn’t own the company; he just worked construction. Most of us would think we’ve got a lot better job than that guy. Maybe you do as far as the money you made, but the kids thought it was super cool that he actually built things. He would walk out on that scaffold and talk to them about how scary it could be. He talked about how you make concrete and how the concrete makes the basketball court in their backyard. They loved firemen. The firemen would come in their fireman suit and talk about how you put out fires and things like that. They liked doctors and nurses who would bring in the stethoscopes and listen to their heart beat. They didn’t care that the doctor made lots of money. That isn’t why they liked them. They thought it was cool that they helped people. If you get sick in this way this is what we would do to help you.
I take notes all the time. I’ve done it for years. My family laughs and rolls their eyes about it. All the times going back 25 years in our family when I would say, “Hang on a minute I’ll be right back. I’ve got to write something down or I’m going to lose it.” That’s where a lot of these spiritual laws of nature came from and some of the other ideas of things we’ve done at The Healing Codes. I was always taking notes on this career day.
To me it came down to a very few things that six year olds valued. I think this is very important for us to take a look at. I think what they value is kind of what comes natural for all of us. In the course of growing up and changing and having money issues become a big pressure to us and all the sexuality that starts to play a part of our lives in adolescence and then the competition for achievement we change. Maybe, just possibly we kind of lose our basic values that we’re born with and that we’re meant to carry throughout our life. I’m not talking about wanting to eat bags of candy every day. I’m talking about the things we value in life.
Before I go there I want to go to two other places.
There was a basketball coach who lived a number years ago named Jim Valvano. He coached at North Carolina State University. He won the national championship one year. He was diagnosed with very serious cancer and died at a very early age. Before he died he and ESPN set up the Valvano Foundation for cancer research. On the anniversary of his death every year they replay the speech he gave many years ago when he was deathly ill about what he though was really important in life and what wasn’t. He talked about some of these same things. He said guys, I don’t have much time. I don’t have time to waste. Then he started talking about what was really important to him. There were three things. It really impressed me. I watched that whole speech again this year as they replayed it again.
Here’s what he said. “I try to do all three of these things every day: Laugh a little bit. Find something funny, something humorous that lights up your smile and your face. Cry a little bit. Talk about, read something or just go in your mind and heart to a place that touches you every day, even for just a few minutes. Learn something that you didn’t know. If I can do those three things every day…” – the laughing and crying involved relationships with people. He talked a lot about that being really important in life. He said, “If I can laugh, if I can cry and learn something new every day it’s been a really great day.”
I think he’s right. On the other hand, where do we tend to focus as adults who are trying to get ahead, trying to accumulate wealth or preserve our wealth or figure out a way to get some wealth? I think we get caught in three different patches of quicksand in our life. It’s the actions and behavior category or The Healing Codes. Unhealthy desire of the five senses. This includes sexual things. It includes food and drink. It includes laying around on the couch instead of working. It includes 4-6 hours a night of television instead of spending time with your children or people you care about or going on a walk or reading a good book or all of the above. I think as we grow older and pain and pleasure hits, we look for unhealthy desires of the five senses. We have unhealthy desires for stuff, usually stuff that money can buy; houses, cars, clothes, toys, bigger and better this or that, the latest gadget. We also have unhealthy prideful desires where we try to manipulate what other people think of us and how they think of us and how they see us. Whether it’s really true or not, whether we’re really like that inside our hearts or not, I want people to think good things about me, say good things about me. A lot of people I know do to envy them.
I believe those are the three areas of quicksand and you can get stuck for the rest of your life in any one of them. You can get stuck in unhealthy desires of the five senses with a myriad of addictions. You can get stuck in relation to way, way overvaluing stuff that money can buy, accumulating more and bigger and better stuff in your life. I know so many people that are stuck in relation to money. It has become god to them. The other patch of quicksand is unhealthy prideful desires. I become consumed not with being good necessarily or being kind necessarily, but with being perceived as good or kind. That will absolutely eat your lunch over time as far as your internal health and happiness goes. If you are one thing on the inside, one thing behind closed doors and another thing outside, it will rip you apart in a hundred different ways. You are living in disharmony with yourself.
What do we do about it? I think one thing that really helps is getting back to our six-year-old values. What is fun? What is courageous? What makes a difference in the lives of other people? What is kind and helpful? What is loving? What is peaceful? What is joyful? What am I called to do in my life? Let me get off the couch, quit worrying about what everybody thinks about me, quit worrying about buying more and more stuff, quit trying all these things in order to feel good for a while (drink, drugs, pornography, food, television, or _____ ) and go for a long walk in nature. Or maybe I can sit down with someone who is important to me and have an eye-to-eye, non-rushed, honest conversation. Just sit and talk for an entire hour. Don’t talk about more stuff, about desires of the five senses, not trying to get them to like me more, just have an open, honest, vulnerable, heart-to-heart, loving, kind conversation. Have no goal for its outcome. Don’t try to get anything, just have a loving conversation. Or go spend time with your child doing whatever they want to do. Play video games with them even if you don’t like to play. Instead of them playing video games four hours a day by themselves, maybe for an hour go play with them. Laugh. They’re almost certainly going to beat you at whatever it is so that will be even more fun for them.
I saw a movie not long ago where there was a grandfather about 75 years old having a conversation with his son. The grandfather said, “I’m late. I’ve got to go.” His adult son said, “Where do you have to go?” “I have a video game lesson with my grandchild.” He had the biggest smile on his face. I’m sure they had a fabulous time.
Do something meaningful that increases your relationships, your love, joy and peace. Base it on those six-year-old values of helping people, of doing something that makes a difference, of contributing, of having fun, of laughing, of crying, of learning something new, of becoming better and better instead of just staying stagnant in your life.
How do you do that? You know what I’m going to say. Go sit under your tree this week and take your pad of paper and if you need to, go back to The Healing Codes and look up unhealthy desires of the five senses. What do I have a problem with? Rate that problem 0-10. Unhealthy desires related to stuff that money can buy – where are my issues there? Rate those 0-10. Unhealthy prideful desires – write those down and rate them. Then get the Codes out and start healing those so that the ratings go down. Then you’re not obsessed with stuff anymore. You can get off those unhealthy desires of the five senses that are dominating your life. You can forget about what people think of you and just live and be authentically who you are. If they like me they like me. If they don’t, they don’t. I’m going to live in truth and love and let the chips fall where they may. I’m going to quit living this double life of being one thing externally and another thing internally.
Then decide to get up off the couch, cry a little, laugh a little and learn a little every day. I’m going to run everything I do through the filter of “Is it the loving thing to do in the next 30 minutes in my life?” If it is I’m going to have a ball doing it. I’m going to hold nothing back. If it’s not the loving thing to do for the next 30 minutes I’m going to find something I can do in love. That doesn’t mean everything you do has to be some great act of selflessness to help the poor or hungry. You can do almost anything that you’re going to do normally and do it in love rather than in anxiety and stress and pressure and fear about how the end result is going to come out.
By the way, I specifically picked this spiritual law of nature for the holidays. I think this is our last Cutting Edge until after the New Year. I don’t know of anything you could do this holiday period that would be more valuable long term than this. Go back to those original, hard-wired values that we all come into the world with. Those kindergartners and first graders have them. For the most part they don’t care about the money. I hope it’s not changed in the last 15-20 years. They just want to have fun, be nice, help people, do something that makes a difference, laugh, cry and learn a little bit every day.
That’s what I challenge you to do. This time you’ve got two weeks because of the holidays. I’d go sit under your tree, take those notes, start healing those issues with The Healing Codes. Then write down: Laugh, Cry, Love, Learn. Write down something under each of those you can start doing that will start to make your life absolutely come alive like a rose blooming. It will get you out of the quicksand. I think you may very well look back at this holiday period as a turning point in your life. It may not be the biggest turning point of your life, but one that is significant. That would be my hope and desire for you.
As I watched those career days over that year-long internship it really did have a profound impact on me. I decided I wanted to live my life based on what really matters, not all that adult junk, quicksand that we get ourselves into. I’ve not always done that real great. I’ve gotten into some of those quicksand places. But I’ve gotten out of them every time. That’s my hope and prayer for you this holiday period. That you get out of the quicksand and live your life vibrantly, fully in love, learning, laughing and crying.