Choose hope, not fear

Pitch Black and his minions are closing in. The dark antagonist demands of the assembled troop of children, “Don’t you believe in the Bogey Man?” One of the boys lifts his chin and proclaims, “I believe in you, but I’m not afraid of you.”

Furious, Pitch charges at the kids, but when they stand their ground, they turn his black dust to magical golden sand. The Guardians and the children watch in wonder as the sparkling sand spreads hope all around them.

This children’s movie Rise of the Guardians reminded me of the importance of facing our fears with courage. We believe in the “bogey men” of adulthood — unemployment, cancer, loneliness, pain — but we don’t have to live in fear of them.

Fear can immobilize us. We can’t persevere if we are frozen. Like the children in Guardians, our hope and our joy have to be more potent than our fears. Then we will be transformed.

Courage to take a big step

We recognize that we are flawed, that we are carrying some extra baggage. Residual issues — the way we view ourselves, the way we view others, doubts, fears, insecurities — are spilling over into other parts of our life. Faced with this reality, we seek some help.

We turn to a therapist, a friend, a self-help book, pastor or journal, and we share our frustration and our pain. Then we expect all the problems to melt away. We are brave enough to take a first step but not sure we want to go further.

No doubt, changing things in our life is hard. But so is staying the same. We have to choose to move from the struggle we know and into the possibility of a new way. We have to rely on faith that aspects of our life will improve. We have to have the courage to keep up the work needed to get better.

Treating the future like it matters

How much time do we take in the morning agonizing over what we are going to wear? How many days have you spent obsessing about what to say to someone who intimidates you? We tend to waste a lot of time and energy worrying and fretting over relatively minor issues.

By contrast, we rush into very important decisions without much thought at all. Think of the flings, the jobs we’ve accepted or turned down, or the harsh words that have slipped out of our mouths.

Life beyond a certain age requires some planning. Plans enable us to keep focused on what is important. In making decisions, we then ask ourselves whether the choice we’re about to make will further our goals or detract from them. We can then make conscious, informed decisions. Our decisions today determine our future tomorrow. When we make sound decisions, we take control of our future.

When we fall in love

We are created with an innate need for love and attachment as well as capacity to love. These are integral to what makes us human. But who we fall in love with is as much a matter of our own belief system as it is romantic chemistry and timing.

Beginning in childhood, we develop a schema about the type of person we are looking for. Perspectives, attitudes and experiences all inform our schema. We create our own expectations for love. We fall for someone who meets our expectations for a love match.

The idea that we don’t choose love is not entirely true, then. Examining and challenging our love schema can open new possibilities and lead to a more fulfilling match. Let chemistry handle the rest.

Newer than new

Habits can hold us back.

When faced with a problem or a person, do we listen, ask questions and gather information, or do we jump to conclusions and respond by rote?

Remaining openminded means that we are open to new possibilities and new choices as well as creative solutions. We learn to appreciate other people and their perspectives.

Newer than new, we perceive untold possibilities in each new day.

Exuberant

Exuberant

My son is still discovering how the world works. Each new revelation is a miracle for him. As he tests boundaries and conducts experiments, he is programming his brain.

It is my responsibility and that of our family and community to provide him with the opportunity and support he needs to learn and grow. Properly nourished, his potential is immense.