The magic is within you!

magic5You know, I think too many of us fall into the trap of thinking that something wonderful must happen before we really can expect to feel inspired. In other words, we wait for the magic to happen to us. . .rather than making the magic happen. This diva has been guilty herself of waiting for an opportunity to come her way, instead of going forth and seeking it. And yet, most of us have heard the quotation from the Bible, “Seek and ye shall find.” Indeed, this principle is at the root of most motivational programs and books. So, why do we sit waiting for good things to come our way? Could it be that it’s easier to accept the idea that the opportunities and “lucky breaks” didn’t find us as opposed to admitting that we tried and failed? Michael Jordan, the world-renowned basketball player and promoter of the philosophy that it’s more important to try than to succeed, has some interesting thoughts on failure. During the height of Jordan’s career, he was asked by a school publishing outfit whether or not it would be all right to post pictures of him in classrooms to inspire thousands of school children to pursue their dreams as he had pursued his. Jordan agreed, but only if his message could be about failure, rather than success. “I’ve failed over and over and over again in my life,” he declared, “and that is why I succeed.”

Now, if someone like Michael Jordan is able to acknowledge failure as a valuable and essential part of the success process, why are we so afraid to fail?? Well, I think it’s because society tends to regard failure as something that none of us should admit to. We’re supposed to disguise our failures at all costs. And this type of misguided programming is why we are so afraid to really take the risks that are necessary to turn the life we’re living right now into the life of our richest dreams and deepest desires. For example, there are men and women who marry whoever comes along because it’s easier than holding out for that man or woman who would make their lives truly complete. After all, a bird in the hand is better than ten in the tree, such people tell themselves. And, indeed, it is important not to throw away a relationship that is important to us simply to pursue a whimsical fantasy. However, I think that once we begin to “settle” for second best, we will never stand a chance of getting first best. Do you really think that any athlete goes to the Olympics saying, “I want to win a silver medal”? No, of course they don’t. Because they know that only in striving for that gold medal are they going to be able to give their all to the competition. Look, it isn’t always about the results of your efforts. It’s about how hard you try. There are many days in which this diva wonders how she’ll ever be able to write a blog post that is as inspired as the one she wrote a day or two before. But, you know what? When you write from the heart as I do, it isn’t as important whether or not I express my thoughts as eloquently as I would like to as it is whether or not I reach you with my words.  When I read back over some of my old posts, there are all sorts of ways in which I feel they could be improved. However, at the time I wrote them, I was making my very best effort.

Well, life is a lot like that, you see. Sure, you may have made some unwise choices yesterday or last week, but, at the time, you probably weren’t aware of the fact that you were using poor judgment. And, in order to keep having the kind of faith you need to have in yourself, it’s crucial that you not dwell on all the errors you’ve made. How can you possibly find magic in your life if all you’re focusing on is your mistakes? You must let go of the gray clouds of the past and embrace the rainbow of the present. Otherwise, you’re like someone who only notices the weather when there’s a thunderstorm. Magic can be found in things that are seemingly insignificant, too. For example, there can be magic in the smile of a child or in the song of a bird. You don’t have to wait for a major event to take place to feel grateful and joyful about life. In fact, the more things you find to feel joyful about, the more likely it is that wonderful things will begin to take place in your life. Haven’t you ever noticed that on days when you seem to see the world through rose-colored glasses people seem to treat you more thoughtfully and you seem to have a more established sense of self-worth? Do you think this is merely a coincidence? Or, could it be that something about the positive energy you are feeling is felt by those whom you come into contact with?

I don’t know how many of you are familiar with the life and work of the remarkable artist, Frida Kahlo, but, when I saw the 2002 film focusing on her life, it struck me that she would never have been the painter she became if it hadn’t been for the suffering she endured and the obstacles she had to overcome.  The reason she came to embrace life so wholeheartedly was because she knew what it was like to live for months bed-ridden and in excruciating pain. She understood that if you respond to the trials that come into your life with courage and strength, you can actually become a more powerful individual because of that which you have overcome. When I look at Frida Kahlo’s art, her use of color is one of the first things that attracts me. It is incredible that a woman who could so easily have chosen to live her life in shades of black and white responded to the agony of living with such exuberance and enthusiasm. Truly, Frida Kahlo is a testimony to the triumph and vibrancy of the human spirit. So many of us tend to get caught up in petty annoyances and concerns. We make mountains out of molehills, to use a trite expression that is nevertheless relevant to this diva’s train of thought. We concern ourselves with whether or not our favorite film is out on video yet or whether one of our best friends is giving us enough attention. Yet, if we really stop to think about it, how important are these things? What if you found out tomorrow that you only had six months to live? Would it change the way you saw your life? Which of the things that are annoying you now would seem important? I don’t know about you, but very few of the issues I worry about on a daily basis would seem essential if I knew my life would be ending in a matter of months. It wouldn’t matter to me whether or not everyone approved of everything I did because I would be devoted to being completely true to myself. To borrow a famous quote from comedian and actor Bill Cosby,” I don’t know the key to success, but the key to failure is trying to please everybody.” The question I would like to pose to you is this: should the way you’re living right now be so different than the way you would live if you knew you only had a certain amount of time left on this earth? And, if you answer is “yes,” then why should it be so different? None of us know how many more days we’ll actually be alive. This being said, shouldn’t we start finding the magic in our lives right now? Shouldn’t we stop letting ourselves be sidetracked by other peoples’ opinions of us? Shouldn’t we cease to let the criticism and discouragement of those around us cloud our personal vision?

I’ve had a lot of you tell me how much my last post, “Capture Your Vision” meant to you. Well, one of the clues to capturing your vision is to notice the things in your life that you have to be grateful for. In a way, gratitude is directly related to magic. How? Okay, think about when you were a child and Christmas morning came around. When you went downstairs and saw presents under the tree, didn’t you feel as if you were experiencing a moment of magic? And, when you opened your presents, even if you didn’t get the gifts you wanted, didn’t you feel grateful? Now perhaps some of you will tell me that you didn’t feel a large amount of gratitude because you rarely were given what you had asked for. But, in all likelihood, you can still relate to the feelings of intermingled gratitude and magic that you felt when Christmas morning arrived. And, if your family didn’t celebrate Christmas, think of another occasion that seemed magical to you when you were growing up. Perhaps, your birthday seemed like a magical time when you were a child because it was a day that was all about you. Well, the life you’re living right now is about you, too. The only difference is, now that you’re an adult, you fully understand that you’re not on this planet alone. So, you realize that even if you’re the focus of your life, the other people in it are very important, too. In fact, if you’ve been applying some of your diva’s philosophy to your day-to-day existence, you may have even come to see that you are dependent upon the special people in your life to make your dreams come true. The well-known motivational speaker, Zig Ziglar, believes that only when you help enough other people make their dreams a reality do you experience the life that you’ve always dreamed of. Now, when I was younger, I might not have fully understood Zig’s belief system. However, the more time that passes, the more aware I become of the fact that life really is more like a team sport than most of us realize. It may seem like you’re on the path to success for awhile when you focus exclusively on you, but, sooner or later, the road you’re walking down will turn into a dead end. For one thing, there’s only so much magic you’re going to find in your life when your primary focus is yourself. At some point, your feelings of self-confidence are going to be eclipsed by a sense of extreme loneliness. Although you may be experiencing plenty of success, the fact that you have nobody to share it with will eventually oppress your spirit. This is why you must both find the magic in your life and help others find the magic in their lives. Of course, you’ll never be able to instill a sense of gratitude in toxic people because they are never truly happy. Rather, they not only will prevent themselves from experiencing happiness but also they will do their best to steal your joy from you. In the most fundamental sense, toxic people are what I call “dream-stealers,” and, if you let them stay in your life, they’ll snatch your dreams from you. However, once you de-clutter your world and make sure that everyone whom you’re spending time with supports and encourages you and shares your vision, then you’ll be able to find those magical moments in your life that you might overlook otherwise.

One thing that is exceedingly difficult to cope with is when someone very close to you refuses to let you spread your wings and fly. I cannot begin to count the number of people who have crossed my path who have told me how impossible it seems to them to make their dreams come true when their spouse, parent, or boyfriend/girlfriend continues to challenge and criticize their opinions and/or attempts to sabotage their goals.  All I can advise is that you determine whether having this dream-stealer in your life is more important than making your dreams a reality. I know that walking away from someone who has had a pivotal role in your existence can seem almost impossible, but there are times when you’re not going to have another choice. Although I would never advise you to make a decision that you would always regret, the people who remain in your life must respect your determination to pursue your dreams with passion and a sense of purpose. There’s no way that you’ll ever be able to discover the magic if your world is clouded by fog. You must be able to see the beauty of the world through eyes that are full of wonder and joy. . .not blinded by the bitterness and cynicism that dream-stealers nourish themselves with. So, loose yourself and your life from the limitations that you and others have placed upon it, and start seeing every day as a fresh opportunity. . .as a chance to make magic happen in your world.

Until soon,

Your Success Diva

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This page and all written material at The Success Diva Pages is written by Alexis Wingate. All rights are reserved. (C) Copyright by Alexis Wingate. The Success Diva

But they mean well. . .don’t they?

Time after time, I come across people who tell me that someone they know or  have known has told them that they are incapable of achieving one or more of their goals. If you want me to be 100% honest with you (and I know that’s what  you want, or you wouldn’t be at my blog), I have had people telling me what I can and cannot do for most of my life. It’s very easy, you see, to steal other peoples’ dreams from them, particularly when you have had to bury many of your own dreams throughout the years. I have begun to realize, as I have gotten older and more perceptive, that more often than not, it’s people who have experienced a string of disappointments in their own lives that will be the first to say to you, “You’re dreaming” or “You’re being unrealistic” or “Don’t you realize that that isn’t going to happen?” Unfortunately, they have become so deeply cynical because of their own experiences, that they are incapable of seeing success or happiness as being realistic or possible for you.  The #1 question you should ask yourself about every person who gives you negative advice is: “Is he/she  living a happy and fulfilling life?” I’m not talking about a life that appears to be successful on one more levels–what I am referring to is a life that has brought or is (preferably) still bringing them personal contentment. For example, if a friend tells you that you might as well give up on finding “true” love, take a look at your friend’s life. Has he/she had a series of painful relationships? Did they go through a nasty divorce? Are they with someone right not who is mistreating them in some way? If they are married or have been married, did they marry for love or was it something they were pressured into, whether by their family or society. . .or, did they marry for companionship, financial security, and/or because they wanted children? If the answer is “Yes” to any or all of these things, then smile politely when they give advice but don’t follow any of it.

If we were living in a world where everyone wanted what was best for everyone else, we could, of course, say, “Well, those people who told me this, they meant well.'” Considering that you cannot possibly be happy if you think everyone is against you, it is probably healthy to think that a lot of the less-than-helpful advice we get is not advice that has nefarious or malicious intentions behind it. At the same time, there are people who really don’t want to see you achieve things that they haven’t achieved themselves. And, let’s be realistic about this: is it not understandable that someone who is in a miserable marriage or relationship would feel at least a little bit envious of you if you have found the love of your life and have a possibility if spending the rest of your life with him/her?? If you are surrounded by people who write but haven’t ever managed to get anything of significance published, are they really supposed to be delighted on your behalf when you publish a best-selling and/or critically acclaimed novel or non-fiction book?? Although it’s nice to think that people want those whom they care about to succeed, it isn’t realistic. There’s no point in resenting them, either. Resentment, like anger and hate, is an emotion that is destructive to both you and those arround you, and destructive emotions have no place in the life of someone who wants to achieve success. What you must do, though, is alienate yourself from those people who don’t truly want you to succeed, whether it means spending less time around them (this isn’t always possible, depending on who the person is) or whether it’s simply distancing yourself from them on an emotional and psychological level. It isn’t always easy, but you really can train yourself to “tune out” criticism that isn’t constructive and advice that will not benefit you. Once again, it’s something you will most likely have to practice doing before it becomes a habit. If you have questions as to how you should deal with those who do not fully support you and your goals, I would suggest that you simply thank them politely for their input and continue on your path to success and happiness as if they had never shared their advice with you. In cases where you are in continuous contact with people who do not share your efforts to make your dreams come true, I would say that the best thing to do is to say to them, courteously yet firmly: “Look, I know your heart is the right place, but I’m really not interested in receiving any more of your advice. Although I’m sure you want to help, I’m in charge of my own life and I need to make my own choices in every area of my life.” There are times when these “well-meaning” friends, family members, and/or acquaintances will not respect the fact that you are taking ownership of your life. It may threaten them to see you in full control of yourself and your decisions. But ultimately, they will at least respect you for standing up for you. Nobody admires a wealking or a pushover or someone who lets other people run their lives. And I don’t know about you, but I would rather be respected and admired than to be everybody’s “darling.” I think Bill Cosby said something simple yet profound when asked what his “definition” of success is: “I don’t know what the secret of success is. . .but I do know that the secret of failure is trying to please everybody.” Yes, there will be people whom you displease because you don’t follow their advice and/or don’t let them steal your dreams from you. There will also be people who chose to disappear from your life because they are personally threatened by the choices you are making on your way to creating the life of your dreams. What you must keep in mind is that anyone who doesn’t support you on your path to success and happiness isn’t worth keeping around. I’m not talking about a spouse (although divorce is always an option, unless you oppose it for religious reasons), a child, a parent, or another close relative, although it’s usually possible to limit contact to a certain extent even in the closest relationships. However, if one of your best friends or your boyfriend or girlfriend isn’t willing to either walk down the path of success and happiness with you. . .or, at the very least, support you fully (not just through what they tell you, but through their actions, as well) as you walk down the path. . .well, you’ll be doing both them and yourself a favor if you part ways with them, and the sooner the  better.  Once you realize that your life is yours and once you commit yourself to creating the life you desire, you start to realize that you won’t be able to bring everybody you care about with you to your ultimate destination. A few people–or even many people–are going to be left behind. But it’s better to leave someone behind than to let that person drag you down the dead end road they’re walking down with them. Sure, it’s tough to have to let go of friendships and relationships that mean something to you. But if someone doesn’t support you in transforming the life you have now into the life of your dreams, they really weren’t on your side to begin with. It may be painful to accept that now, but you’ll be thankful that you did so in the long run. Trust me. I’m your Success Diva, after all, and if you can’t trust your Success Diva, who can you trust?

 

Until soon,

Your Success Diva