Passion

According to the philosophers, the second essential to happiness is simply finding something to do. Personal fulfillment and happiness involve discovering your true passions. Whether it is playing the guitar, writing, painting, running, photography, basketball, or making furniture it does not matter. The list of possibilities is endless. Moreover, it is not important how proficient you become in pursuing your passions. What is important is that you regularly engage in doing the things you love to do. I become very concerned with the person who has no constructive passions or puts everything they have into just one. Be diverse and “spread your wings”. Whether they are indoor or outdoor activities, understand where you feel most at home and happy within your own skin.
Most people I have encountered in my life don’t really understand themselves because they have never given themselves the chance to know their true self. That, in and of itself, can make it difficult to identify your true passions. So often you meet people who seem to have everything, yet they are still not happy. Conversely, you encounter people with very few material things who seem very happy. Constant exposure to some “norm” presented by conventional society and media has caused too many people to define themselves by those external influences. Invest the energy to understand who you really are, and allow your children to do the same.. You will learn what makes you one of a kind, unique, and special if you give yourself the time to know yourself.
I cannot over emphasize the importance of hobbies to your happiness. This second essential need to happiness also means that you have to manage your life to carve out and protect the time needed to pursue your passions. Absent conscious planning, the everyday responsibilities and tribulations of life will become all consuming. You hear it all the time from people everywhere, “I don’t have the time to do what I would really like to do. I have too many responsibilities and am too busy.” Well, you better make the time. Your quality of life and happiness depend on it! For most of us, it is not a matter of not having the time, but mismanagement of that time.
At times, I would be asked how I found the time to train for marathons and triathlons. Many times training twice a day while working is not an easy task, but many do it. The ride to work took 33 minutes by car and by high tech bicycle 49. That’s just 16 extra minutes getting into work and out each day. In just 32 extra minutes a day in the commute I could ride 36 miles. How many times do you sit and watch a show on television for 30 or 60 minutes and after it’s over realize it was a waste of your time? Don’t ask me what’s on TV tonight, as I have too many activities to contend with that I enjoy. Hopping out of bed an hour early to hit the pool on the route to work, so I could get in my 90 laps was important to me because I had a triathlon I was training for.
It’s amazing how much extra time you will have in your life to pursue your hobbies and passions once you shut-off your electronic devices. If you want to live your life and immerse yourself in what really excites you, turn off the television, phone, computer, tablet, and video games for a period of time each day. Dedicate that time to discovering and engaging in your life’s passions.
If you really want to find that zest for life and spend your short existence on this planet enjoying your time, base your goals and dreams around those you love and what you love to do. Find your niche, and you will feel that you were meant to be here; your life will have meaning.
So find your passions and build your dreams and life around them. Your greatest wish will be to find more time to indulge in these passions. Be someone who takes action and moves closer every day to fulfillment and happiness. Don’t get caught up in the fast paced “rat race” of society. Break away and discover how wonderful life can be once you discover your passions and incorporate them into your life.
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SOMEONE TO LOVE

As stated in the last blog entry, according to the great philosophers their are “3 Essential NEEDS to Happiness”. I mentioned how I stumbled upon them in my preparation for class one day while in my 30s and realized, unknowingly, I was living my life each day according to these NEEDS. I was once a very depressed young man and had some how found my way basing my thoughts and actions around these “3 Essential Needs…”.

                                                                                                                SOMEONE TO LOVE
Most people in prison today weren’t nurtured as children. This was not their fault, but one of circumstances. We have too many children being brought into this world that were unwanted and unplanned. With all our knowledge of birth control, there is no excuse for a child born into a world without the love of their parents. If you don’t want children in your life, don’t have any. I respect people who don’t have children because they don’t want them.
As a public educator for thirty-five (35) years, I saw thousands of kids, who weren’t suppose to be here and I witnessed the hardship they lived with every day. A child growing up without love will become sad and/or mad. It’s easy to keep them quiet and controlled when they’re little. Just give them a stuffed animal and have them curl up on the couch and watch some movie. Today, it seems many parents just buy an electronic device to babysit them while Mom and Dad do their own thing.
If the foundation of love is not developed in the early years, that child will come “tumbling down” once the hormones “kick in”. I’ve heard so many parents say, “I don’t know what happened. She was such a sweet child.” That sweet child’s emotions all “blew apart” in the teen years. Mix in a little alcohol and an assortment of other selected narcotics with the hormones and you now have a raving rebellious teenager.
Having 12 different classes of adolescents each semester. I would discuss values early on. The kids would understand that a value is personal and something that is important to you. I would ask them to share their top ten values with me on paper. I would explain their personal values would not be shared. I could quickly learn a great deal from the personalities I would work with in my classes. Listed in the top 3 was usually family and sometimes friends. If this was not listed, it told me something important about that child. Universally, love is a basic need to happiness.
Edgar Allan Poe is an excellent example demonstrating the NEED for love. It seems most people know he was a great writer, “the Father of Horror”. The thing I have discovered is most don’t know why and know little of his life. Please take the time to research his life to begin to understand how important love is to your happiness. “The Father of Horror” had a horrific life.
I will begin his life and let you look at the rest. He was born in Boston and named Edgar Poe. His father disappeared when he was just 2 and his mother died when Edgar was 3. He was separated from his 2 siblings and eventually taken in by the Allan family in Virginia, thus his middle name. Mrs. Allan could not biologically conceive and desperately wanted a child. Mr. Allan took in the orphan child to appease his wife, never legally adopted him as his own, and eventually disowned him. Mrs. Allan died.
In Poe’s short life of just forty (40) years, it seems every time he got close to a woman as a mother figure or companion they either died or left him. He never experienced true love. He became extremely depressed, drank, used opiates, and his deep depression took him to the “dark side”. The insanity came from a mixture of all of the above mentioned. His genius was recognized during his short stay as a student at our military academy, West Point. Sometimes I think it must be comforting to be dumb, as the whole world could be collapsing around you and you’re unaware living in your own simple world. Poe being of supreme intelligence and sensitive could recognize the stress and pain of being unloved. He attempted suicide more than once and slowly killed himself like many today that suffer from being unloved with an assortment of drugs. He wrote some of the most amazingly “sick” horror stories especially toward the end of his life when he was certifiably insane. Thank you, Edgar.
Love doesn’t always have to come from another human being. I have trained my dog, Otis, as a therapy dog. This dog craves love, as he was the only pup in the litter and his Mother was sold when he was just a month old. Here was little Otis abandoned and alone. When we took him in he was troubled. He would suckle on my hand all the time, sleep against the wall (he was in a child’s plastic swimming pool and slept against the side of the pool for comfort), and he would nip us. This I found out was from the breeder attempting to socialize him with other litters. Being foreign to the litter, Otis would be aggressively attacked. To this day, Otis still likes to sleep against something, especially you. He occasionally will attack other dogs when he feels threatened. This obviously goes back to when he was bullied. My son, who has his graduate degree in psychology and works with foster care children told me one day early on that I had “damaged goods” and he’s right. Otis makes an exceptional therapy dog, as he craves the love he never had in his formative months (never take a puppy from its Mom before 8 weeks). Children love him and he craves their attention. I have seen as many as 14 kids patting and hugging him at one time.
I have taken him to lock-up facilities for “at risk” delinquents. These kids can’t even say the word love. “Guys what’s a stronger word for like?” There is no response, but with Otis they begin to open up. Animals have been used with prisoners for a long time to teach empathy, compassion, and love.
Otis and I walk in the woods each and every morning. I have my boots, snowshoes, muck boots, umbrella, etc. We walk in nature undisturbed for over an hour together. It’s our favorite time of day. We hike in the White Mountains in winter, go on canoe trips, and swim out to my raft on the lake together. He’s my buddy. Otis loves me and I love him. He waits for me at the door for my return in the evening and can’t understand why we aren’t playing standing there with a ball in his mouth. It’s time to go out in the yard and have a good time together again.
We all NEED love. When you find it cherish it and never take it for granted. We are a social being and NEED this thing called love to be truly happy. I hope you have found yours and respect it and understand how fragile it can be.IMG_1108.JPG

Happiness

In my late 30’s, my teaching involved conveying the importance of self-esteem to teens. One day when making preparations for class, I came across some of the readings by philosophers over centuries of time on happiness. I read about the “3 Essential Needs to Happiness” and realized by trial and error I had some how based my own life around these concepts. It was just something I had fallen into on my journey through life. I was living according to these “3 Essentials…” unknowingly. It seemed that whenever I drifted my focus away from WORKING and basing my life around these ideas I was less content and would make the swing back to this focus to find my happiness.

Several months after returning home after the hike from Georgia to Maine on the “Trail”, I realized I missed all those kids I taught for so many years, especially the “lost” troubled ones. Maybe, this is because once upon a time I was one of them.

I offered to do a program for DYS (Department of Youth Services), a lock-up facility for young criminals, in the city I worked in for 29 years. I figured I had a beautiful digital slide show of my adventure and a story to tell. It wasn’t so much the 2176 mile journey through 14 states, but the journey of my troubled youth and my transition to a life of happiness and fulfillment. I wanted these kids to see where the happiness came from and understand that happiness isn’t tangible or something that happens because of circumstances. Winning that lottery ticket is not the secret to happiness. Believe me when I say true fulfillment and happiness can only be achieved through HARD WORK. Don’t be afraid to struggle, get discouraged, fall on your face in the mud, confront what you conceive as failure, because without all this you will NEVER truly understand and reach HAPPINESS and a life of FULFILLMENT.

It seems most people I know chase wealth and money. The majority of people think that success and happiness is getting that well paying job, big house, the car, a certain wardrobe, jewelry, etc. Seventy percent (70%) of our money is spent on items. We are over indulging consumers. We buy THINGS thinking this will make us happy. Corporations spend billions of dollars on advertising and marketing their products for a reason and most buy into it. Chasing and working for these THINGS will NEVER bring happiness according to the teachings from the greatest thinkers that have walked this earth through the centuries of time.

After speaking with many kids at different lock-up facilities and alternative high schools, I started conducted presentations to adults. Everywhere I went it became apparent that no one seemed to understand the “3 Essential Needs to Happiness” and the wisdom passed down to us.

It became very clear to me why so many are having a difficult time. Our children, especially, are having a hard time coping with life. We are now in a national epidemic of depression/suicide and opiate addiction. This has to be one of the saddest eras of my lifetime. Our young people are suffering and are in BIG trouble! There is a way out, if they just listen to the lessons of the past and accept the gifts given to us.

I have read, and watched documentaries about the worst year in American History. It was the year I finally pulled out of high school at 19. The year was 1968. We are now in the 50th Anniversary of this horrific year. It ripped the “guts” right out of this country. All the drugs came in because of these times and our racial problems escalated. We have NEVER recovered and many of our difficulties today are related to what happen during these 12 months. It doesn’t seem to be taught and discussed in our schools, so if you are not aware of the happenings please do some research. This will give you a better understanding why we are now in the mess we’re in and how we as a nation can move forward.

My biggest dream and challenge in life now is to assist people, especially our young people, find that path to happiness and fulfillment, as I stumbled upon. I developed a website, “traildreams.com”, and published my book, “Trail Dreams”, with the help of a wonderful daughter. She does amazing work as a graphic designer and realized my passion to reach out to others in these troubled times. She is there constantly to assist and help me with my mission of hope.

Happiness is simple, but in this fast paced, technologically advanced society many are struggling to find peace and happiness. The rest of my life will be dedicated to assist and clarify this simple concept, especially for our youth. Too many are hurting and I will do all I can to help. Happiness is not some tangible entity. It is found in all of us. Next time I will begin writing about these “3 Essential Needs…”

 

 

The Reasoning Behind The NATIONAL EPIDEMIC of Depression/Suicide & Opiate Addiction… the missing link

I started telling people or I should say I would tell anyone, who would take the time to listen that our children were headed for a horrific future. I remember mentioning we would see depression/suicide rates and heavy drug use like never before. I didn’t say heroin, as drugs go through cycles. Heroin’s heavy use and popularity on the streets will eventually diminish and be replaced by some other garbage. I have been watching the drugs come and go for the past 1/2 century. My predictions and warnings to people began 20 years ago in the late 1990s. People were telling me I was crazy, a downer. “Don’t you have anything good to say about our kids. You’re so negative! Why would you ever say something so horrible about our children?!”

I’ve never been someone who argues. Arguing many times leads to something negative like hurt feelings or violence. Heck, I use to be the “Violence Prevention Educator” in the Brockton Public Schools. I always found it sad to think that it was necessary to teach anti-violence in our schools. I guess, this was a strong indicator that our society was very “sick”. An anti-gang program was piloted in my classroom over a 1/4 century ago back in 1991. Watching the news over the last 30 years demonstrates to me that we aren’t getting any better. We just keep getting “sicker”.

It was easy to see all this coming by the late ’90s. I would simply answer, “If you lived my personal life and you lived my professional life it’s easy to see what’s coming for our children. It looks like a charging out of control locomotive coming down on us with the whistle blowing and lights flashing. I hope I’m wrong. I pray I’m wrong.” Unfortunately, here we are.

During my 35 year career in public education, I worked in rural, suburban, and urban settings. With 3 teaching certifications and a graduate degree I had the opportunity to be a classroom teacher in elementary schools, classroom teacher in junior high schools (now referred to as middle schools), and also taught at the high school level. I coached track at both the junior high and senior high level, was a director at a resident camp in NH, worked at day camps, and was involved with children in other capacities.

Withdrawal became my crutch as a child to deal with turmoil and trauma. I did not withdraw to my room but went deeper and deeper into the woods. It was my escape, my refuge. Experiencing nature in solitude was my sanctuary and my way to cope.

In the 1980s the “perfect storm” was created in our society. Certain people and our government officials thought it was cruel and unusual punishment to lock certain people up. Technology was advancing at an accelerated rate and we began tracking people with ankle bracelets and registering them with computers so we could monitor their activity. We started opening up the doors of our institutions and eventually closed many of them. It certainly didn’t take a genius to figure how this might effect our innocent little children. Kids have NO RIGHTS and NO VOTE. Quite frankly our kids were “sold out” by our government officials. Horrific events began in short order for our young people.

I remember in our little town of Kingston when a 12 year old girl was missing for days and eventually found savagely murdered. The murderer was a former psychiatric patient now living next door. That horrible incident happened some 30 years ago and every time I turn on the news there seems to be another poor innocent child becoming another victim. The ’80s brought all kinds of psychologically unbalanced individuals living amongst us.Our children started being watched and hovered over by their parents and other caregivers. Being outside and in nature was becoming absent from our children’s lives. The government was responsible for our children losing their FREEDOM. After school programs, summer camps, day camps, organized sports programs, “play dates” and all this organized control of our kids began. They were removed from the natural world and the backwoods became off limits it seemed almost overnight. All its solace, its wonders and mysteries gone from their lives. There was no longer a connection with “Mother Earth”. Gone!

My first marathon was run in 1978 and by the early ’80s I was running 3 marathons a year. Most of my training was off road through paths in the woods and dirt roads. People ask me all the time, if I’m still running after all these years. “How are your knees?” My knees are fine, but I can’t run anymore at my age. I jog now. Anyone with a brain should realize you weren’t made to run on pavement or concrete. It just made sense to me that it would be better physically and for my knees to run on soft ground, plus psychologically it’s very therapeutic and more natural to run through the woods chasing rabbits than contending with drunks on the road.

No longer did I see children in the woods playing imaginary creative games, climbing trees, building forts, catching frogs, fishing, skating on the frozen ponds or swimming in summer. It was sad to witness all this joy vanishing from our children’s lives. I was totally alone now running in the woods “free as a bird” while our wonderful, frightened, untrusting children were trapped behind 4 walls. I haven’t seen a kid alone in the woods now for decades. The last time I saw a child climb a tree must be at least 30 years ago. People seemed to fear the “Boogie Man” out there. The thing is I haven’t found him yet after all these years searching. I’m in the woods every day walking or jogging with my dog, Otis, who can sniff out anything. We keep looking behind those big old white pines and in caves, but no luck. I hiked from Georgia to Maine in 2008 and now am sectioning back to Georgia and not once have I even seen a glimpse of this character. There doesn’t seem to be anything out in those woods to fear, no bigfoot, wolves, or lions. In fact, I think being in the “middle of no where” may possibly be safer than any street corner in America!

At the same time this was happening technology was marching into our homes. The first video games appeared on our kids TV screens in the ’80s. Remember “Pac-Man”, “The Mario Brothers” and the rest? It was the beginning of the “storm” and the beginning of major problems for our young people. The physical problems were easy to see a decade later. Obesity and Type 2 Diabetes, a foreign disease just a generation ago came upon us. Now 1/3 of our children are obese and Type 2 Diabetes is now the fastest growing disease in America.

What about the mental and emotional damage being done to our children living this life style? After 20 years of talking to myself about what was coming, it seems a lot of people are beginning to listen and telling me I make a lot of sense…We need to help our children “unplug!!!