Well into my late twenties, I still considered myself to be a young adult, just a couple years out of college. But as my late twenties turned into my mid-thirties, I never fully recognized the transition from young adult to adult.
With my 40th birthday coming up later this year, I have recently started catching glances of myself in the mirror and asking, “When did I become this guy?” Since I started shaving my head when I was 26 and only weigh about fifteen pounds more than I did when I graduated high school, the changes are in the details. From the gray hairs popping up in my mustache, beard, and chest hair, to the little wrinkles on my forehead and around my eyes, there is no denying that I’m not as young I used to be. But it isn’t just my physical appearance that is changing.
In my younger days, back when I was full of piss and vinegar, I was always eager to engage in an argument and prove I was right. A younger me cared deeply about where I stood on the societal ladder of success and regularly concerned myself with the opinions of others. Recently though, these concerns and desires seem to have diminished with each passing year. While I still have strongly held beliefs, I’ve come to accept that I’m not the only one. Nowadays, if someone is convinced of a negative idea that I completely disagree with, I either find a way to peacefully live with our disagreement and respond with a nonchalant “oh, yeah?” or I remove myself from the interaction and proceed on with my life.
I no longer need for everyone to agree with me. For starters, I’ve made enough mistakes and poor decisions to understand that I could be completely wrong in my beliefs. Just because they work for me doesn’t mean they will work for everyone. Beyond that, I have come to accept that we each get to choose our own views and live with their consequences. So, rather than being intolerant of someone else’s chosen stance, I rest easy knowing we each reap what we sow. Out of the overflow of the heart, the mouth speaks.
Kitchen Dance Parties
Bonnie and I often joke about how delusional other folks must think we are. On a daily basis, we celebrate greatly all of the extraordinary joys and blessings in our lives. From our amazing children and our wonderful marriage, to our beautiful home and our lifestyle full of activities, we are regularly overjoyed with ourselves. Just last week, Bonnie coined the term “Supremely Happy” to describe her sentiment of our family’s life. To this extent, our family adopted the rally cry of Michigan football coach Jim Harbaugh:
“Who’s got it better than us?!”
From an outside perspective, I highly doubt that our life looks all that great. We drive around in a minivan full of kids from our middle-class suburban home to the children’s museum, gymnastics, ballet, and grandma’s house. We take road trips to national parks for vacations, and we are regulars at the frozen yogurt shop next to Target. While all the important people in the world are too busy to show up to a friend’s event, we’re always available, even on short notice or at the last minute. Bonnie is a stay-at-home mom and I teach at a technical college. And in the same way that nobody would want to trade places with us, we have absolutely no desire to trade places with anyone else either.
This life didn’t just happen to us or fall into our lap. It isn’t an accident or a burden. Our lifestyle is 100% tailor made, by us and for us. We wake up every Monday morning exhausted, dehydrated, and sunburnt by design. While there was a ridiculous amount of luck and divine appointment that has made it all possible, we consciously chose this life. One prayer, one decision, and one breath at a time, we have worked tirelessly for this life. Along the way, there have been countless opportunities to change directions in exchange for a bigger salary and more prestige, but for every “yes,” there has been a thousand “no’s” so we could stay this course.
Our lifestyle probably seems pretty lame to most people and that is fine by us. When we’re in the middle of a kitchen dance party courtesy of Stevie Wonder or The Beatles, we aren’t worried about what the proverbial Joneses think. We’re too busy laughing and trying out new spin moves. The same goes for the folks who either disagree with us or don’t show up to dance. While everyone is always invited and welcome, the reason we’re so enamored with life is because we’re fully focused on the wonderful people who are present.
We refuse to be concerned when somebody who doesn’t know us, doesn’t like us, and doesn’t care about us, also doesn’t agree with us.
So, it is with this book.
Each of these chapters began as a thoughtful conversation with a friend, student, or mentor. These conversations then became long running themes between Bonnie and I, and eventually, they became the mantras we live by.
Though I lack both the youth and beauty most sought after and envied in the American culture, what I do possess is a plethora of powerful insights from my amazing family and friends, along with enough experience to know the difference between a counterfeit smile and inner joy.
That said, I didn’t write this book for the critics, haters, or armchair quarterbacks. On the contrary, I decided to share my mistakes, bad beats, and lessons learned in order to empower positive life change that results in authentic relationships, meaningful productivity, and genuine happiness for everyone who shows up to dance.
Posifocus Mantra #20
Do you ever get upset when others don’t agree with you? Is their perspective actually affecting you (i.e. are they in a position of power)? What would happen if you stopped arguing with them and instead agreed to disagree?
Focus on the areas where you agree with others. If someone is convinced of an idea that you cannot tolerate, remove yourself from the situation/relationship. Live your best life and allow others to live theirs.
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