helpgrowchange

Create something out of nothing

Are you an artist? Can you pick up a paint brush and whisk up a wonderful piece of work? Can you write up a song or story that will take our breath away? Don’t worry, neither can I. But you know what, you can create anything you want. It doesn’t matter how wonderful it is. It is something that you have taken out of your head and made it available for all to see.

What we tend to forget about ‘artists’, is that they live and breathe their art. Before the great works of art were created, they have practiced for years on end, moulding, sculpting, tweaking their skills to make them perfect. They worked endless hours making countless mistakes. Failed many times. Even now, they make mistakes and fail every time a new piece of work is created.

We are all naturally creative. Look around you. Who created your office workspace, who created your budget at home, who decides what paint colour to put on your child’s bedroom wall, who decides to lay out the lounge seating arrangement? It’s not all about a paintbrush or a song. It’s everything you do, every decision you make. You are injecting your own creativity, adding your own flair and imagination all the time.

Sure, it might not be the best, or look like something from a top designer. People might not buy it. But you know what? Who gives a crap? It’s yours. You created it. It came out of your fantastic mind. You created something out of nothing.

You took that thought, you acted on it, and you made it.

Creating your own stuff has a few side effects. Passion and Confidence. When you realise that you have actually created something, a sense of achievement can appear (at least for me, it does). The realisation that me – an average non-creative person – can create something from nothing. You feel inspired to do more, to test the limits of this new found creativity. You wake up each day excited to work on your project. Even once you’ve finished the project, you can’t wait to start on the next.

After a while you come to a further realisation that, actually, your creations are not actually that bad. You take the chance of sharing with a friend, and another, and another. Naturally, you become more confident as you practice. Confident to take on something bigger and better.

I pose a challenge to you.

I know for a fact that you enjoy doing something, everybody has something they have liked during their lifetime. Something that has piqued your interest. Explore that interest. Try something new. You might fail, you might discover that it’s not for you. The main point is that you tried. How do you know what your true creative outlet is until you actually try it? You might just be pleasantly surprised.

[Featured image: Jennifer Trovato]

Contemplating disappointment

It’s not often I let disappointment get to me. Its dampening of my will really does not mix well with my more positive outlook on life. But sometimes, just sometimes, disappointment squeezes through the cracks and I contemplate it for a while.

Like now. I am contemplating the validity of things and the inadequacy of human nature. How have we survived so long as a species with so little thought for anyone else but ourselves and our money.

I’m in the process of studying an online social psychology course with Coursera. One of the assignments within the course is a ‘Day of Compassion’ in which one has to go 24 hours showing compassion in their surroundings – whatever that might be.

I partook in the challenge, eager to make a positive difference within my reach. I volunteered to help raise funds for a burnt down school, I was more compassionate with the people around me, and I was happy with that. However, two of the bigger tasks I attempted ended in disappointment.

One was rebuffed due to corporate logistics, and the other was a person unable to take a phonecall from someone on the otherside of the world. Failure due to money and too much focus on the self. These two failings are pitfalls in our lives. There is way too much focus in our society around money, materialism, and self-preservation.

I am just as guilty of these weaknesses as the next person. It’s quite something when you discover the true emptiness of our surroundings for yourself, rather than reading about it in a book somewhere. It hits home a lot harder when you see it and live through it each day.

The more I think about these two major failings in our society, the more disappointed I get. The more disappointed I get, the more I want to change it. This is a major challenge, but one that you and I can rise up and defeat.

This was one of the main reasons I started this blog. So that I could document this journey of discovery. To inform myself, and you, about how we can find true meaning in the world around us. To find a way we can make effective change in our lives. It’s funny, how with me never having been much of a spiritual person, I am now saying that we have to change.

Thank you for reading my contemplation of disappointment. As I’ve typed this, disappointment has turned into resolve. It’s now time to change this world. Time to help each other grow out of mediocrity, discover ourselves, and be awesome.

Will you join me?

[Featured image: Aleksi Tappura]

In times of disaster, we stand strong

A few days ago, over half of my son’s school burnt down. Four of the seven classes are lost, one of them being my son’s. Also lost in the inferno was the school library containing 125 years worth of archives. In addition to this, the school was preparing for it’s 125th anniversary in November, and to be hit by something as devastating as this, is simply crushing.

I am in shock at the moment. Still unable to process just how much has been lost. The amount of information lost in the blaze. How many projects have been destroyed. How much personality and culture taken away. Not to add computers, resources, books, all of it gone.

But, out of the ashes, before the sun rises in the morning, the human spirit of compassion began with offerings to help in any way. People want to give anything they have in order to get this little school up and running again. Ready to tackle another day and make a difference in our children’s lives. As the day wore on, I grew more deeply appreciative of the community I live in.

I love how, deep down, we humans band together in rough times. When disaster strikes, our tribal instincts kick in and we pool together to defeat what ever tragedy has occurred. We rise from the ashes to build something even better than before. We let go of our subtle differences, our minor grievances, and do what is necessary for the greater good.

This event was a fire at a little school in a little community on the far side of the earth. If something as small as this makes such a big difference in the lives of the people affected, I am emboldened by the thought of how communities have stood together in much larger events – such as the Christchurch Earthquake of 2011, or the Japan Earthquake and tsunami of 2012, and 9/11.

We might think the human race is getting worse by the minute with our overindulgence, our greed, our selfishness. But it’s at times like this that it all disappears. All that selfishness dissolves into selflessness. It amazes me and brings great joy when I see people banding together for the greater good. How we can simply find ways in order to help those in need. How we can let go of our own insecurity to reach inside ourselves and rebuild something that was lost.

This is the first time I’ve personally been affected by something like this, and it has hit me out the park. I like to help people, but this event is making me want to go that extra step and do whatever I can – dive into the rubble and help clear it away, donate money to help rebuild, or even help organise some sort of fundraising. Anything I could do to help, I want to do it.

It’s not only me. It’s the dance studio owner offering to entertain the out-of-school children this week for free. It’s the rubble removal company removing the leftovers for free. It’s the musician attempting to organise a variety concert to raise money. It’s human compassion, and I want to give more of it.

[Featured image: Terry Presley]

Embrace the new chapters in your story

This month, my eldest son started ‘big school’. He turned the grand old age of five, and started a new chapter in his story by starting primary school. In the weeks leading up to him taking his first step in school, he didn’t display nervousness or sadness, but rather excitement. He would badger my wife and I about when it would be happening.

Every time we drove past the school, he would state that he was going to be going to that big school. There is a lesson we can all learn from the way in which he approached making the big change to ‘big school’.

Embrace change. Embrace it fully with no looking back.

When change is upon us, we should not resist it. Change brings new experiences, new challenges, new opportunities. It leads us down new paths that we may not have considered previously. While I agree that not all change is good, there is always something new to learn. Be aware, always learn – always want to learn.

It’s easy enough for me to tell you to ‘embrace change’ or ‘always learn’. I don’t know you, or your circumstances. What I do know, though, is that change is inevitable. You have two choices when change comes knocking on your door;

  1. Resist change. Fight it. Be angry. Complain, and bemoan how things used to be.
  2. Embrace change. Lean into it. Learn. Take up the challenge to get what you can out of the situation.

When we resist change, we create tension, stress, and negative emotions. When negativity runs through us, our minds are closed to learning and enjoyment. We tend to complain and reminisce about how things were. We protect any shred of what used to be.

Negativity is the road block to achieving anything new.

If my son had resisted his first day of school, he would have been crying, having tantrums, or clung to my wife or I until the last second we had to leave. Even then, there would have been more tears and drama. There would have been much wasted time with himself and the teacher in order to calm him down. Wasted time in order to actually get him to the state in which he would be receptive to reading or learning.

Instead, on the morning of his first day, he couldn’t get his school bag ready quick enough. He couldn’t wait to hang his bag on the hook outside his class. He showed us where he was sitting and the playground he would be playing at during break time. When the school bell rang signalling the start of the day, he went straight to the mat, said goodbye, and was immediately listening to the teacher. Ready and waiting to learn.

Starting school is a massive change in his short life, yet he has taken it on with arms wide open. With that openness, so too is his mind open to new information. He is going to soak up any new learnings like a sponge – because he has made himself ready for it.

We can do the same in order to make the best of change. Instead of closing up, fighting, and making our lives difficult, we must receive change with enough openness to learn as quickly as possible. Quickly enough to adjust to the new circumstances. Quickly enough to understand the new circumstances in order to instigate new change if the situation is worse than before.

It was an extremely proud moment for us, seeing him sit on the mat attentively waiting for his new teacher. This is the beginning of an epic journey for him. There is so much for him to learn, explore, and decide on a path of his own. I can’t wait to see how he adapts to these new challenges.

[Featured image: Coley Christine Catalano]

Better yourself by being average

You want to get from here to there. You want to be better than you are now. You’ve read many Internet articles, maybe even bought a book or two, but you just can’t seem to break the cycle you’re in. Just can’t quite climb up the ladder to reach the next level you’ve set for yourself.

It could be the people you’re hanging out with. Whether it be at home, at the pool, or at the office. You’re only as good as the people around you.

“You are the average of the five people you spend the most time with.” – Jim Rohn

When I first read this quote, I ditched it for a load of hogwash. Surely, one could be better than the people around them? How hard could it be? It turns out that it is much harder than originally thought.

When I started HelpGrowChange, my immediate friends were supportive, but because they’re not into this sort of thing, I couldn’t bounce ideas or gain true feedback about it. I can relate with them about sports, work, anything else other than the blog.

It was around that time that I realised what that quote meant. I needed to find other people to help me grow in that space. People I could identify with, where I could relate my experiences, learn something new, and exchange information about blogging, creating, and motivation.

But I didn’t want to lose my mates. And a plan entered my head – why should I limit myself to only one group of people. I thought deeply about where I wanted to be, and who I needed to associate with in order to get there. I now surround myself with people I feel will help me grow. Help me be better in many regards.

I still hang out with my mates for drinks, sports, and the odd poker game. I hang out with my other mates to chat about motivation, while others still help me grow in leadership.

Each area offers a different perspective and world view. I can relate coaching football teams to leading teams at the office. I see the similarities between different people and cultures. I admire the intricate history of each different person I hang out with. The courage they have shown in the hardships they have been through. How they have triumphed over their own demons to get to where they are today – so much more than I have had to endure.

By having multiple groups of five, I can be the average of all of them. I firmly believe this approach is helping me relate to many different aspects in my life as well as the people I hang out with.

Helping me grow. Helping me change. Helping me be better.

So, are you the average of the five people you hang out with? How can you better yourself to climb to your next level?

[Featured image: Davide Gabino]

Continue the struggle, you’re doing well

Bills. Sickness. Stress. Day in, day out. Why do we carry on? What is the point of doing the same thing day after day after day. We have all felt this way at some point (and for those of you that haven’t – you will, don’t worry). Some days it is hard to carry on through the doldrums. Those times when you’ve tried your best, and life just hits you back down. Disasters strike, plumbing bursts, or even as simple as public transport prices go up.

We may get angry and frustrated, but there is a reason to carry on.

We work our asses off to make ends meet, stay healthy, maintain a house. All this effort and energy put in to no avail. We stay within the rules, we pay our dues, we ‘do the right thing’, and yet it is so frustrating to see other people around us take shortcuts, get away with it, and trot along to their wonderland with not a care in the world.

I think this way sometimes – probably too much. It makes me frustrated when people cheat and still win. It pisses me off when they steal and profit off of it. But after a while I become content. And here is why.

When I lay in bed at night and review my day, I know I have done good. I’ve gone about my day and my life as best I can. I’ve helped other people, my wife, my children. I’ve deepened relationships. I’ve shown respect. I’ve shown leadership. I’ve made a positive difference in someone’s day. I’ve stayed true to my values and morals.

My life has gotten richer, deeper, and more meaningful without the need to steal, cheat, or lie.

I may not have gained a load of money, got a major discount on a product, or even have the kids stop fighting for a day. But I got an overload of experience. I got to experience time with my boys. Time to teach them right from wrong. I was healthy enough to walk outside and breathe in the fresh air after the rain. I made a difference.

And there is still tomorrow.

Tomorrow brings further opportunities. More time to spend with the people we love. More discoveries. More everything.

Tomorrow will allow us to improve, to be better, to gain more meaning in life than the shortcut taker, the cheater, and the thief. They will need to deal with their own conscience when their time comes.

[Featured image: RayBay]

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