Winning Through Gratitude

This is a mashup of a book I read along with some of the sage advice gleaned from corporate leaders, internet leaders and fitness coaches, but leaders who succeeded through understanding human nature. I hope it serves you today.

INGREDIENT ONE: hatred is wasted energy
A friend of mine from years back would always be so chipper, letting the ups and downs of business roll off his back and it seemed he was always increasing his business, while having this crazy abundance of time to spend with his family. As he was a small business owner / entrepreneur - and one with 4 preschool kids no less, this ability was unheard of to me. So much so, that I couldn't help but be intrigued but it and had to ask him about it and he said, "I learned years back that hatred is wasted energy. While my competitors are in fear-consciousness, imagining scenarios that invite them into envy, I'm too busy enjoying what I do. I pity them if they have time to compare themselves back and forth, wasting precious energy on judging. I just focus on thrilling my customers, putting any stress on God's shoulders, and loving everyone I encounter."

He did not just say it, I saw him living it. I can attest that the result was a freedom and ease to his business. He worked in a focused way and had time for the truly important. Although in his late 20's this one principle had given him wisdom and a level of peace beyond his years.

INGREDIENT TWO: enlightenment
Fast forward to the book "Winning through Enlightenment" which expanded my perspective on things. It taught me the real meaning of integrity, of responsibility and accountability. And in contrast how twisted most everyone's sense of these concepts is today, de-evolving them into blame games, into us versus them tribal consciousness. The book called all that unenlightened and showed how it is self-sabotaging, but realizing the true advantage integrity, responsibility and accountability gives you, winning becomes easy, and nearly inevitable.

It also taught me some about love. How coming from any king of context of neediness undermines love as need is counter to love, because love is all about giving. So any time I come to a relationship (close relationships, relationships with strangers, etc.) NEEDING that other person to respond in any given way eclipses your ability to give and receive love. If you're not consciously choosing from a union of heart and mind; you're probably just reacting.

INGREDIENT THREE: actively applying your stores of energy
Years later, I was flown to LA to shoot a large, multi-day wedding there – the first of many weddings on the West coast. I was trying LA's rail system and exploring where it let to. I was 20 lbs overweight at the time and encountered this radiant man, so it sparked a conversation with that stranger. Turns out, although he looked fairly "corporate" in dress and manner, he was a full-time personal trainer. He said "you've got an abundance of stored energy there (referring to my own bodyfat). Ever thought of putting all that energy to better use?"

And he said a few other things, but this is what stuck with me - a transformed way to look at fat, not as "bad" in our culture, but as what it actually was: stored ENERGY. And the realization I could choose to apply that energy, my own energy as a storehouse of vitality (as opposed to non-vitality like how were taught to believe it to be these day) to apply to purposeful goals.

Just as my body was trying to store up energy on my behalf, so I would have it for key periods in the future where I might need it, so to all that I used to think was "negative" was actually there to serve me, meaning to be USEFUL to me as a resource to forward my goals. My body is not my enemy and fat is not my enemy - when I let it be what it was trying to be all along, something intended to serve my life. Today, I extrapolate that to many circumstances in life that could potentially threaten me or burden me, are really there to forward success in the largest sense.

INGREDIENT FOUR: the trap of comparison
Now, let's expand that with a teaching I heard by Tony Evans. He's not unique to communicate this, but that happened to be where I first heard it explicitly pinpointed this way. And the teaching is this: the comparison game is a game you can only lose. Remember that War Games movie? And the lesson of the movie was the only way to win the game was not to play? Like that. To enter into comparison can only have 1 of 2 bad outcomes:
1. you feel better than the person to which you compare yourself - leading to the pitfall of false pride.
2. you feel worse/below than the person/thing to which you compare yourself - leading to the pitfall of false shame.

He's right. Both feeling BETTER or feeling WORSE than something outside you is completely dis-empowering. Instead be imitators of God. And what did God do? Instead of using our every failure to judge and condemn us, he initiated Grace. His proactive love chose to GIVE. It gave us an opportunity to reconnect to Him as the foundation of our life - after all talk about a fountainhead of life-energy! God himself does not sit around looking for opportunities to blame and condemn when we don't meet His standards. Instead he looks for opportunities to BLESS. Every command from God is reflective of the gracious heart of God and intended to bless US. Now religious people in their own unenlightened, wounded conditions can all have their own issues giving and receiving - aka participating in -- the very grace of God and may have terribly misrepresented the actual heart of God. But don't get tripped up by another imperfect or distorted reflection of God; instead go straight to the source of the Person of God. If you're on track; you will find the reality is a throne of terrifying power and amazing grace. Terrifying to those who are so arrogant as to be judgmental towards other humans, and amazing grace to those who know they need help and are willing to receive it.

So we find that comparison is also wasted energy. Your ACTUAL competition is only yourself. Those who fight to beat out others live miserable, whiny and bitter. They have to as they set their lives up IN REACTION tho so many things outside their control. Those who live to outperform yesterday's level of living, enjoy the success and blessing that comes from humble, God-appreciating and self-growth approach to each day.

INGREDIENT FIVE: the trap of offense
Both my training in existentialism and the book "The Bait of Satan" by John Bevere opened my eyes to how any kind of offended state totally shuts us down. We can no longer hear the other person. We can no longer be proactive. We are a mindless, survival reaction of self-protection. And self protection is great! But getting STUCK in a self-protective mode when it does not serve us, is not just infantile, it is a doorway to lots of evil. You see, the moment anyone goes into an offended state, not only does their internal world go into spasm mode, like a torn muscle clamping down and just trying to hold onto anything for dear life, but we justify meanness, hatred, bigotry, and all kinds of attacks on the "threat" we imagine is "offending us."

Both sets of training pointed to consciously realizing when we're in the grip of offense and consciously relinquishing it. Through finding greater strength through transparency, through vulnerability, through humility - the very thing an offended person is incapable of doing.

Offended mode:
• hurt
• threatened
• lash out
• feel victimized
• strong need to change someone else
• feeling oh so serious and right about my position on things

Loving mode:
• opportunity seeking
• look for ways to enlighten others
• look for ways to serve, to give
• secure that you are taken care of by a God who is so much bigger than any threat and whose powerful love intends only good for your life as only a secure person (trusting in receiving) can AFFORD to give out to others

To let anyone, a person, a word, an event trigger offense in you is to clap down and put the brakes on your own life. It is an evil trap. John articulates how the devil engineers things to trip us up into offended mindsets so that we go into hate/attack mode instead of loving/giving mode. Thus making the exact wrong thing to do appear like the right thing to do in that deceived state. For you who wish to avail yourself of more understanding of this process, there's a video covering some of it:

So it comes back to this: Hatred is wasted energy. Offense is wasted energy. Comparison is wasted energy. Resentment is wasted energy. Trying to judge another human for their "wrongness" is wasted energy. Living in self-righteous indignation is wasted energy. Domination and control strategies resist love and are wasted energy. Do you want to live entrapped or enlivened?

Today, I can choose: to live small in us-vs-them mode, to live in a giving mode, a sharing everything good I come across mode. And this context of choosing to give I've found to be the supremely powerful one.

If you're at all intrigued by that "supremely powerful" statement, there's a whole book by Leanne Payne that unpacks it called 'Real Presence', where her way of speaking about this dynamic kind of life is "the realized and integrated personality." One she describes as free from what others think of me, free from fears, free from old meanings connected to notions of failure and so forth. It's an in-depth analysis -- which is so refreshing in our hasty and superficial times, but one you may find to be freeing and revitalizing :-)

I am a storehouse of energy: biochemical energy, emotional energy, mental energy and spiritual energy. How will I use it today? Not knowing how many "today's" I have left, I choose to use it by living joyfully on purpose. So I appropriate the lessons of "winning through enlightenment" in winning through GRATITUDE. Gratitude freely receives and freely gives. Only gratitude is truly ALIVE.

What do you call anything, a biological cell for example, that is not properly giving or receiving? You call it either nearly dead or you pronounce it dead. It is not interacting with its surroundings, its life, in a healthy way. At the interpersonal level (and I believe the quality of our interpersonal relationships has a lot to do with the practical quality of our lives), if you are not giving and receiving contribution, you're hardly living.

But how can any one "really" do that? To be so darn "grateful" all the time, when it seems so easy and weirdly attractive to be merely grumpy or reactive? Why have a grateful attitude when you can simply go with the flow to be easily-offended in a hyper politically correct heard? Part of the answer is in realizing that everything that comes my way only serves me. I don't want you to think life is about "me." I don't mean to promote any more narcissism as we're already experiencing an abundance of that in today's culture.

But "serving me" I mean that life can be thought of as a feedback loop - some call it karma or other terms whereby both people and circumstances are there to teach me lessons - call me out where I'm off. So, by saying everything is there to "serve me", I mean to take everything as an opportunity - to change, to learn, to grow, to recommit if that's needed, etc. In this way instead of things THREATENING you, they SERVE you. They are transformed from dangerous into triggers for more gratitude. I'm no longer this wound twitching around in spasm reactions to anything that remotely resembles things I've learned to be afraid of; I'm a secure, spiritually grounded conscious identity looking for opportunity, looking to use things to my advantage because I know my advantage is full of contributing to others at every level. I'm building an eternal legacy after all :-)

Here, compliments and criticisms alike have zero affect on my identity, self-esteem as they are merely the noise going on inside other people's minds, with their tangled psychology and codependent consciousness. Their confined boxes called "needing to be right", "self-righteous judgement", "competition consciousness", "doing things in order to" mess and all the rest based in scarcity, based in offense, based in woundedness consciousness -- based in not basking in abundance.

Try it, it is a freeing, beautiful way to live. Live it and people will actually think you're being arrogant when you're not at all. You just have supreme confidence because you're not working IN ORDER TO WIN, but FROM a victory already won. That changes everything.

No, it does not magically change your outer circumstances. No, it is not a magic wand to change other people to suit your whims. Rather it changes you and the resources from which you draw to use every circumstance as a platform from which to give. And specifically in terms of photographic work, it's given me more photography to do that I could ever even get to! Allowing me to cherry pick only the jobs that I feel are from God and re-direct the rest to others as a blessing to them. Everything in my life really IS an opportunity, to be grateful for everything, use it responsibly, and GIVE away the rest in the field of abundance as a pure gift. Really everything is a gift. We can't cling to anything. We can only give it away in the end. So in light of this truth, shouldn't every moment be about giving? About loving?

Do I always "fully", "perfectly" live every moment from the truths below? Of course not, silly. I still have room to improve consistency. But for any reader to even have that mental thought, looking to dismiss someone if you suppose they have a whiff of imperfection, is the very losing, non-grateful trap that just missed the whole point - of this contribution and really of you very own life. Don't miss the point, friends.

When you get right down to it; what is that about? Its about justifying staying untransformed. You might "succeed" at resisting a threatening truth that would disrupt your previous identity or level of conscious. But that is the very definition of losing as life.

I realize why you do it. You're afraid. It is threatening to your current identity to admit you're little more than a pathetic, knee-jerk fear reaction is a thousand different variations of fear, woundedness and faking it. Nothing pisses people off like a truth, you know. You cover that shame/fear with a compensation of superiority. While that is designed as a proactive ego armor to help you feel better in the moment, you just put yourself into the comparison trap of dualistic superiority/inferiority leading to a scheming, survivalistic punishment/reward mindset - exactly how serpents and demons think.

You live tossed around by me-vs-them thoughts or "what will others think", like a bad surfer pummeled by waves - waves you think are larger than yourself, instead of me-AND-them perspective. I've lived there too. It just not a fun or vibrant place to live, in my opinion. Let truth have its disruptive effect and change you for the better.

Friends, our resources are unlimited, but our energy is limited. How you use every energy today is literally choosing your destiny. I can't tell you that I'm a good example to follow; only that I am enlightened - meaning consciously choosing instead of reacting or being triggered. I can't change how I've misused my own energy in the past - getting triggered and hooked by my own past fears - but I can benefit myself and everyone I encounter by not wasting energy and by always re-directing back to my larger purpose. That freedom and vitality is fully available to everyone - everyone who chooses to live proactively in the fullest sense of the word.

Want to live in such scandalous freedom? Here's another gem that goes into how to overflow with so much loving freedom that people less free will envy you unconsciously and will accuse you of breaking the law! "Beautiful Outlaw" book.

My today and my tomorrow is a grateful one as I've already won and have nothing to prove to anyone. My life is a multidimensional one, and I'm already living from my grateful today and my glorious tomorrow. Just remember, without giving, you're not really loving and that is a sad, unnecessary way to experience this precious, amazing life. To choose is a blessing. Choose. I wish you all the happiness I possess and more!


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