How to overcome your fear of pain

Life isn’t about avoiding pain. It’s about knowing what’s worth living for despite the pain.

To find that purpose that makes the pain irrelevant or less relevant is key to really living.

Many of us get carried along in our lives without really knowing what we want in life. And, when that’s the case, we take the path of least resistance. We’ll choose comfort. We’ll coast.

But, when you live purposefully or have a goal, you approach life differently, better.

You won’t see pain as something to avoid, no. It becomes an obstacle that you must overcome to get to your goal. Pain becomes a challenge, not a deterrent. You see, good goals eclipse the pain.

So take the time to clarify what you want in life. If you do, you’ll be able to go through anything to achieve your purpose.

You won’t just be alive. You’ll really live.


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A secret to winning

We all want to win in our relationships, investments, love. But winning is often counterintuitive. And we can sum it up like this.

To win, you must be willing to lose.

You see, in relationships, we want to be right or argue our point or make people see our way, our hurts, our pain, our truths. But if you’ve been around the block and have some experience, you know that doesn’t work. In fact, it only poisons relationships. Making people see what you see isn’t a way to create intimacy. To go deeper with people, you have to lose that need to be known first and, instead, try to understand others before being understood, empathize with them, feel their pain. When you do that, you will likely deepen your relationships. Of course, you want to find people where this “losing” is mutual. They are willing to “lose” for you and you for them. But sometimes, it takes someone to initiate it. And if you do, you will not find yourself without friends and loved ones.

Who doesn’t want more money? Of course, we all do. I’m just keeping it real here. But, what we aren’t real about is how to win in this area. In investing, winning is also about losing. Maybe you’ve lost money trying to invest, and you don’t want to touch the stock market. But I think there’s a reason for that. It’s the fact that you’re trying too hard to win. I know that sounds confusing. But let me explain. When I lost money in the market, often it happened because I was too afraid to lose money: anytime my stock or investment started losing money, I would sell. Then that investment would recover and appreciate, and I would feel terrible because I felt like I was missing out. So then I would buy back into that stock when the price was higher. Then it would go down again, and I would sell again because I was losing money. And that cycle kept happening. In short, I would try so hard to win that, at any moment when I was losing, I would try to save myself by getting out of the market out of fear of losing more money. Maybe you can relate. After reading books and reflecting on my countless mistakes, I realized that I needed to just buy and hold. But to do that, I had to get my head right. I had to be willing to lose my money, all of it if necessary, if I had a high conviction about a company. That’s when I started making money. To make money, you have to be willing to lose it.

Love is complex. And I don’t want to say that to make romantic relationships work, you just have to lose, because that’s not necessarily true. But it does help. I’ve seen it in my marriage. When I’m willing to die to myself for my wife, our relationship goes better. And, when I say “die to myself,” what I mean is that I’m willing to set my agenda, preferences, desires, etc. aside and let hers be higher, more important. That’s losing. And if you do that, you will win. Your love will grow. Now, I don’t mean for you to get abused. No, marriage or romantic relationship is a two-way street. So you need to tell the other person to treat you better if they are treating you like crap. But often, to engender love, love will feel like a one-way street. And you might be the roadkill sometimes. But your relationship will likely flourish.

And, in general, too many of us care too much. We live like we have something to lose. We strive to upgrade our cars, houses, jobs. And we are terrified of getting them taken away from us. But what we don’t see is that this race robs us of joy. When we care so much about our stuff and titles and money, keeping up with the Jones, we just end up living poorer lives. We lose.

It’s when we stop caring so much that we begin to live more richly. When we stop trying to make another buck, sacrificing time with loved ones, and start making sure they feel loved, we are richer. I mean, have you ever seen someone who seems to live so effortlessly, who doesn’t seem to have a care in the world? I don’t mean that they are careless. They just are not that burdened. They may not be the wealthiest person, but they have something money can’t buy. They are free. I’m not saying we should all become homeless people. But we all burden ourselves with things that just don’t matter that much. If that’s you, stop worrying about winning. In fact, be more willing to lose.

If you do, you’ll become a real winner.


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A secret to writing even when you don’t feel worthy

One of the hardest things about writing is saying something worth sitting down to write.

I know. I’m feeling it right now, as I’m trying to write this.

And that’s the thing about writing; it’s often based on our feelings. When we write, we can feel not only that our work isn’t worthy enough, but that, somehow, we are unworthy. That’s what makes writing so hard.

In writing, it’s less about what is being written than it is about the writer. You. Me. Us.

But, if you remember anything from this post, remember this. You are good enough to write.

Sure, you’re going to write crap. A lot of what you create will be garbage. Yes, most of it won’t get read, or it will get ignored. And all of that will feel horrible.

I know. I’ve been there. I still get there. I was there today.

But that doesn’t mean all of your writings are bad. You’re just in process. You’re growing. And that is painful.

I find that I must repeatedly give myself the permission to write, even if it’s poor, unread, ignored material (especially in those times). We as writers so easily stop ourselves because we have this imaginary person inside of us, criticizing us, telling us that we have no business sitting here writing.

But they are wrong. You do belong here. You do have something to say. You must write.

You must because you feel it in your heart. You have a desire within you. And, if you do, you must keep at it. Don’t stop. Keep writing.

You see, writing isn’t about whether your writing is worthy or not. Every writer, even Stephen King to Shakespeare, wrote words that flopped. So, no, it’s not about how worthy your writing is. It’s about what you do.

And if you write, you, my dear reader, are a writer.

And, over time, you will improve. You will find readers. You will write words that will resonate with the world, people, whom you never thought you would reach, will begin reading your words and find them worthy of reading.

I don’t know if it will get any easier to write as you proceed, but I do know this.

You’ll be a writer no matter how you feel.


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Silence: hearing the sounds of the soul

Silence. It’s one of the best things for us. Even so, for many, it’s scary.

So we surround ourselves with noise, TV going in the background or music streaming, podcasts playing, zoom meetings zooming. These days we have more noises than ever before. There are videos, shows, audiobooks, and on and on chattering in our ears all of the time. And that’s not mentioning the real people you may have on the phone or in the room with you. We live in a noisy world. It’s loud.

And that’s not the real issue. It’s this: the fact that we don’t allow for silence in our lives.

You see, silence lets us hear what’s important. It cuts through the noise. Without it, we can’t hear what we really need to hear: our inner voices. I’m not talking about the voices of a mentally ill person. No, these are the ones that make us better. They show us the way. They tell us who we are, who we can become.

Silence is about giving yourself the ability to hear your inner voice speak. In the quiet, we can hear the negative voices and correct them. We can understand what our conscience is actually saying to us. We can hear our souls sing. And, for those of you who believe in Jesus, like me, it’s in the silence where you often hear God.

I’m not saying you need to become a monk. You don’t need to go on a silent retreat where you have thirty-six hours of straight silence, without talking, walking in the woods barefoot in a robe. That would be nice but unnecessary.

What I’m saying is that you need to have some quietude programmed into your life. Whether it’s an hour or two once a week or some minutes a day, you should have some regularity where you seek and find quiet so that you can commune with those quieter voices that need to be heard.

And I’m not saying that this will solve all of your problems. It won’t. But it will make your life better. It will make you more self-aware. It will help you grow as a human.

It will help you hear the signal through the noise.


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Time is more than money

Time isn’t money. It’s more than that.

Yes, I know that some people like lawyers and consultants bill hourly. But just because an industry works like that doesn’t mean we should live life the same way. We shouldn’t.

“Time is money” is a phrase that is pervasive in our American culture. Not everyone says it, but, nonetheless, too many of us feel it. It’s the pressure to do more so we can get richer, make an extra buck, and become more valuable. But it doesn’t work.

You see, as soon as we make time the same as money, it kills our health, relationships—life. Putting earning money as the end all be all and tying each minute you spend into a monetary value in all of life is not living. In fact, it’s dying.

Not only does the idea that “time is money” stress us out, but it also isolates us from others and makes us into human doings instead of human beings. It kills us from the inside out.

Instead, we should see time as a resource that we get to choose how to use, and making money is only one of many options. We need to see our time differently, not only with a monetary lens; rather, we must view it through one that is multifaceted and rich.

Time isn’t just money; it’s family, friends, rest, fun, games, hobbies—life.

And if you have time, no matter what your net worth, you are, in my book, one of the richest persons alive.

So don’t just spend your time wisely.

Enjoy it.


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One of the Most Powerful Things You Can Do

Words are powerful, but this has even more power: Listening.

When you take the time to turn your ear, pay attention, and ask good questions to others, you build bridges, change history, and move mountains. You are connecting.

That will reverberate across time and space. You are making others feel loved by your act of quietude, which harmonizes with the chorus of the universe.

To listen to someone seems passive, but it’s one of the most active things you can do.

You’re catching that person’s mind, heart, and soul, like a seashell catches the ocean’s sound. And that act will echo throughout eternity with the sweet sounds of serenity and roaring adoration.

Compassion is eternal.

Listening to others creates the music of life, where relationships dance, marriages harmonize, and the arias of forgiveness bring tears to our eyes; children will find it easier to laugh and play, communities band together, and the melody of goodness rings in the air.

If you listen, you will have understanding, healthy connections, and wisdom.

But more importantly, life will swell into an overpowering crescendo that sings forth love.

True happiness can’t be bought

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The best things in life don’t come with a receipt.

But all of our lives we’ve been told—no, sold—that if we buy this or that thing we will be sexy, better, satisfied, happy. But it’s not true. We’ve been duped.

I remember going into stores and buying this or that article of clothing for my wardrobe, adding another sweater, button-down shirt, jeans, knowing full well that I would only be adding to piles of clothes that I already had and barely touched. But that didn’t matter.

What did matter was that I felt good after I bought it, for a bit. There was a buzz, a shot of happiness. But after a day or two, the buzzing ceased. I was just me again, with another shirt in my closet.

Then I stopped buying because I realized this.

Consumerism is a lie.

The truth is nothing you buy can fulfill you, make you whole, or delight you like the greater things in life.

Instead of purchasing things you don’t need, spend time practicing healthy habits, connecting with loved ones, doing meaningful work, learning, living relationally and spiritually rich lives.

Hug a loved one. Kiss your child. Laugh with a friend. Do missionary work. Read. Pray. Worship. Love.

No one lying on their deathbed regrets spending time with their family or living a life serving a mission greater than themselves or playing tag with their kid or seeking spiritual fulfillment.

Those moments can’t be purchased, but they are invaluable.

And anyone can have them.

It’s your choice.

Dealing with the fear of Coronavirus

You’re thinking about it; I’m thinking about it. Let’s talk about it. What is it?

Coronavirus. 

A couple of nights ago, I was sitting in this ramen shop waiting for my friend, when I heard it: Coughing. Two women seated next to me coughed with this dry wheezing kind of cough. Maybe you would have been fine with it. I wasn’t. I cringed. And I tried to scoot away, hoping they wouldn’t point their mouths in my direction and didn’t notice my slow methodical scooches. It was silly but real. 

The friend I was waiting for showed up. We caught up and the conversation floated to the topic du jour. As we slurped on noodles and broth, he reminded me that he was going to Hawaii this week for vacation (I know, hard life). His plan was to meet his in-laws, who live in Australia, to enjoy a couple of weeks in paradise together, basking under the warm pacific sun with leis around their necks, sipping on umbrella drinks while his kids played on the silky beach, surrounded by guys twirling torches, dancing. Ok, so some of that was exaggerated, but not by much. But now, COVID19 is causing his in-laws to second-guess going. 

I asked him if he was worried about traveling, adding that I would be worried. “Oh, we’ll just wash our hands,” he said straight-faced. He noted that there hadn’t been any confirmed cases there, and he goes by the data, not fear. 

As much as I admire my friend’s stance, I don’t agree with it. To be clear, I agree with data and find his courage stirring. But I would be more cautious.

But I will admit that my caution looks more like fear. It’s probably because it is.

And I hate the fear I’m feeling, the I-think-anyone-who-has-a-dry-cough-has-a-deadly-virus kind of fear. It’s an overarching dread I feel like there’s a zombie apocalypse coming and I can’t do anything to stop it. It’s awful. 

Maybe you’re feeling it, too. 

When I feel that way, I pray; I also, like my friend, wash my hands twenty times a day and make my wife and kids do the same. But when I’m not lathering up, I ask God to help me fear less. I pray for the people in China, Italy, South Korea, Iran, the world, my friend who’s traveling and all the other people I love. And I ask for protection, wisdom, and help. It helps. 

Watching a video of a World Health Organization doctor also helped. He reported on his findings from a trip to China he was just on, sharing that the Chinese government was able to curb the spread of the virus with success. Knowing this isn’t the zombie apocalypse also eases my fears. 

No one knows where this global story is going. Trying is futile. And I’m not saying I have all of the answers. I don’t. I’m just a guy writing this blog post in his underwear with huge headphones on.

But I do urge you to be cautious and take this seriously, without giving into your baser fears. I think the distinction is whether or not we are being reactionary and deeply emotional.

Fear makes the world the enemy and bases decisions on worst case scenarios. I’m not saying you shouldn’t draw out worst case scenarios. I am saying that you should not make decisions off of them, since very rarely do they happen. That’s a fear-based mindset.

Whereas caution is more mindful. It takes into account the potential dangers, even the worst, but it doesn’t overreact. It makes measured choices and plans. It protects without making everyone the enemy. It’s vigilant without being violent.

Believe me; I’m not pointing any fingers or judging anyone who’s living in fear because this guy (me) has been doing a lot of worst-case-scenario-ing these days.

This is serious. And I know that I’ve sprinkled humor in this post. But I did that to give you a little delight on a sour subject. Humor is also a coping mechanism for me. 

Laughter is medicine. 

I’d love to know how all of you are thinking about this and hear from you. Please reach out. 

In the meantime, I pray that this finds you well, safe, and healthy. 

You can choose

You have the power to choose.

Choose to love. Serve others. Adore yourself. Love the unlovable.

Choose to play. Like a child, enjoy your this moment, all of the moments, see the world with wonder, glee, delight. Playfully move through the world.

Choose to dance. Allow the music on the radio, in your mind, to move you, your body, your soul, feeling the rhythm flow through you.

Choose to live. A life without regret and unburdened by fear is what we all want. In each instance of your life, decide on living honorably, greatly, beautifully.

Today, I hope you choose well.

This mindset helps you live better

Life isn’t about perfection; it’s a practice.

Perfectionism makes you feel stuck, scared to fail— stay imperfect.

And you probably hate that. You want to change, but don’t know how to do it.

Well, stop trying to be perfect and start practicing.

What is practice?

It’s doing something regularly to continue to grow and learn.

That can be in fitness, work, creating, family, speech, play. But, for me, all of life is a practice.

Every day, I’m trying to learn how to develop in all areas of my life. I want to know what I could be doing better.

You can, too.

Getting better is one of the main purposes of life.

And at the core of practice is just that: improvement.

I can always be a better husband, father, business partner, businessman, entrepreneur, writer, thinker, person.

If I always tried to be perfect even in one of those areas, I would get so discouraged that I would want to quit.

And therein lies the problem, you see. Perfection doesn’t motivate. It forces us to see what we can’t reach.

But with practice, it’s incremental. It’s day-to-day.

By making small daily improvements that are almost imperceptable at the moment you’ll be transformed after months and years.

You see, it’s not about being perfect, it’s about progressing.

Perfection accentuates the fact that you aren’t perfect. But practice focuses on the act and improving.

So don’t worry about being perfect. That’s a waste of time, life.

Live in practice.

And live better.