The Habits that Kill Us

LeapingHabit keeps us exactly where we are and imagination frees us. But for all of our adult lives, we form more and more habits and routines and close our imaginations to the endless possibilities of our existence.

Habits simplify our lives and allow us to travel through this world unconsciously. So we take the same route to work everyday, we watch the same movies, and wear the same clothes. But those are meaningless, harmless habits. There are far more dangerous habits.

The most talked about habit that kills people is smoking. But in reality, the habits that confine us to a self-imposed prison, when we could have achieved so much more, kill us much more effectively—they are the habits that kill us inside, while we remain alive.

Negative beliefs are the habits that imprison us. Perpetuating beliefs that we are not capable of something because that is what we have been taught and have come to know.

As a young man, I had social anxiety disorder and the thoughts of meeting new people or making a speech filled me with terror. And I allowed that terror to imprison me for years. Then I met the greatest boss I ever had and he would never listen to my protests that I couldn’t do something. He would simply say, “Yes, you can.”

And it’s because he wouldn’t accept my excuses that I found myself making a speech to 900 people in the banqueting hall of the Marriott Marquis Hotel in New York. I couldn’t sleep for days before and I couldn’t eat. But as I listened to the applause at the end of my thirty-minute speech, I experienced the greatest high of my professional life.

Yes, you can.

Innocence unbounds our imaginations. That’s why we should protect the innocence of children for as long as we can. But as we grow into adults, so we are steadily stripped of our innocence and our imaginations begin to form limits. As we satisfy ourselves with the comfort of routine, we expertly develop the habits of our beliefs.

And as the years go by, we allow those habits to kill us.

We all need someone in our lives who tells us that we can rather than we cannot. Someone to remind us that we are repeating the negative behaviors of our past. Someone to believe in the possibilities of our imaginations.

Even if that person is you.

The Boy Who Lived With Ghosts

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I live in a haunted family, in a haunted house, on a haunted street. One day I will live in a place where there are no ghosts but right now they’re everywhere. Some people don’t believe in ghosts but that’s alright. Those people have orange nightlights glowing in their bedrooms after dark, reflecting little moons and stars on the ceiling, and cups of hot chocolate to make them sleepy before their blankets are tucked in cozily around them by their mums. I don’t think my mum believes in ghosts. If she did, she would not turn out all the lights when she puts me to bed at night.

I am almost five years old and I was born in our front bedroom with my twin sister Emily. It was on the Twelfth Night. That’s the night when the Three Wise Men visited the baby Jesus with their gifts. It was also my sister Margueretta’s fourth birthday. So we are three gifts for the baby Jesus. If I am a gift, I would like to be a lamb. Animals don’t go to Heaven but I am sure there is a lamb up there. I think there is also a donkey.

Margueretta hates me because I was born on her birthday and now she has to share it with me and Emily, so she locks me in the cellar in the dark. And there’s something scary down there in the corner that goes drip, drip, drip. If I die down there I will go to sit at God’s feet because Dad says God suffers all the little children to come unto him. And Jesus loves dead children the most because they will never grow up to become sinners.

God wears brown sandals and no socks but Jesus doesn’t wear anything on his feet and he washes God’s feet for him because there is a lot of sand in Heaven and it gets between God’s toes. Dad says Heaven is a warm place and you are never hungry in Heaven because you can have as much bread and jam as you want to eat. So you shouldn’t cry if a little boy dies, having been killed by his big sister who locks him in the cellar in the dark.

Nana says we will all go back to God one day so long as we are not sinners. Because if we are sinners, we will go to live with the Devil and we will scream and burn as we catch fire in a lake for all Eternity, which is a very long time. And Nana knows what a long time means because she is very old, which is also why she has hair that comes down to her knees. She ties it in braids on top of her head but I mustn’t see my Nana’s hair when it is down or that will mean I have been in her bedroom and a little boy should never go into his Nana’s bedroom or she will hit him on the back of his head with her hairbrush.

A True Story of Childhood Haunting – Available on Amazon in paperback and Kindle

I’m Living with a Fool

Droopy DogThere is a fool inside my head, but I have repeatedly denied knowing him. He knows everything about me—my hopes and dreams and my deepest fears and anxieties. But he never listens to me.

We grew up together, me and the fool inside my head. We were there in the blackness of the cellar, where my sister locked me as a small boy. We were both there when my dad said he was just going out for a drink and never came back. And we were together when we were cold and hungry in the dark of the night.

The fool inside my head judges people and holds onto regrets. He harbors thoughts of revenge and retribution. He lives in the past.

He is a fool and I’m not.

I am looking for the positive things I have learned from all the bad things that have happened to me. I am forgiving everyone and I’m moving on. I am building a terrific future that is based on what I have learned and how I can be a better person.

From abandonment, I found the loyalty of friends and the commitment to my family. From the hunger of poverty I found a burning ambition to succeed. From insanity, I found the comfort and joy of living in the perfect moment.

That’s why I deny knowing the fool inside my head.

Maybe there’s a fool inside your head, sapping your energy with negative thoughts, destroying your hopes and dreams with the belief that they will only end in failure.

There is no weakness in forgiving. There is no gain in retribution. There is no future when you live in the past.

Not all of the people from my past will be with me in the future. The one I am sure I am going to leave behind is the fool inside my head.

We may learn from the past but the greatest future is made in the positive beliefs of the present.

I Have Decided to be Someone Else

RenewalI love it when people say you should just be yourself. Personally, I think that limits your options.

I don’t know about you, but my “self” was developed a long time ago and I’m not sure if that person is who I want to be today. For instance, from my childhood, I inherited my deepest fears, my hopes and dreams; from my youth, I found first love, ambition, ridicule and disappointment; and from adulthood I discovered reality, deception and betrayal. All of these experiences, and more, have created who I am—anxious, conformist and unfulfilled.

I have therefore decided to be someone else.

But there is a catch: I want to break up with myself but I’m not sure if I have the courage to move on. It’s ironic how our deepest fears live with us forever but life kills our hopes and dreams.

The person I have given the most advice to in my life is myself. Clearly, it is now time that I start listening. So I am going to take it a step at a time. Firstly, I’m going to visualize the person I want to be. I admit that being two inches taller may be unachievable at this stage in my life but most other things are up for grabs. I am going to imagine every detail of what it would be like to be my ideal self. Then I am going to do something different every single day that takes me to where I want to be.

That’s it.

So if you don’t recognize me soon or think that I have really changed, then I’m on my way. And if you take my advice and do the same thing, then we can all be strangers together in our new world.

There may be no time like the present; but there can be no more exciting place to live in than a better future.

I’m Living in a Box

Window BoxesIt’s no fun living in a box, but we all do.

We imprison ourselves in the box that people think we should be in, eventually believing that it is where we belong. And the box has labels on it: mother, sister, executive, homemaker. Other labels are far more destructive: loser, failure, stupid, boring. And when we try to be something that is not labeled on the box, people remind us of where we belong.

When it says on the box that you don’t make decisions, someone else runs your life. When it says on the box that you are not creative, no one listens to your ideas. When it says on the box that you are a failure, no one expects you to succeed at something new.

Others doubt what it is that we are trying to become because it’s not on the label. So, we begin to doubt ourselves—perhaps before we even start to do something new. People enjoy reminding us what the label says, “Why are you doing that? It’s not who you are.”

As we go through life, we shut the lid down tighter, we make the box smaller, we often reduce things to a single label­—and that’s where we stay until the end. Every aspect of who we are sits within the box. But outside, there is a world of ambition, hope and joy.

When I tell people that I have written a book, some people smirk. I can see from the look in their eyes that they are thinking, “You are not a writer. That’s not who you are. No one will read it.”

And for the longest time, I listened to my inner critic and that internal voice was fueled by those smirks. But if I didn’t write that book, I knew that the label on the box would read, “Wasted Life.”

So I started writing and I silenced my inner critic. I posted my writing here and on Facebook and I waited. When people first started to “Like” my Facebook page and my blog and comment on my writing, I was frankly amazed. They didn’t know what the label said on the box I was in. I was encouraged to continue and more and more people found my page and told me to keep writing.

Today, I received my 100,000th Like on my Facebook page—more Likes than many best-selling authors. And on July 1st, my book will be published.

I’m changing the label on the box. Forever.

Don’t let someone tell you what or who you are. Don’t accept that you live in a box. And don’t let others keep you in there. Make a start. Do something today that’s not on the label.

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