I read a report saying “people with strong friendships survive 7.5 years longer than those with weak or few social ties” 7.5 years??!! You have my attention.
I always took my friends for granted and didn’t realize that they could actually extend my life. At the same point, having bad friends could lessen my life? I figured if I can get an additional 7.5 years of life I better dig in and find out if I am on the right track.
First thing I did was a quick scan of my social media to get a feel for where I stood with current friends.
1. Old Friends
I noticed I had a big group of friends from growing up. These friends have many great memories and as I just returned from my 30 year school reunion, I was excited to say these friends are solid. We can go years without talking but within minutes can be caught up on life and laughing and cracking jokes like we just graduated. It was also interesting to see how these friends had matured and while I could sense some uneasiness at first, once they saw we weren’t there to judge each other but just being happy to be in each other’s presence and that special bond of growing up together, this type of friendship could easily increase one’s life.
2. Friends From Work
This group is diverse. Mainly, because we were just thrown together. But, there was a different atmosphere here. This group had positive and negative vibes. It seems there was a greater type of competition with these friends. It felt like the bonds were stronger because the stress was probably higher with some but the interesting thing is that with any job, one day it can be over and you never have a reason to get together with these people again. It can be sad with some friends, but on the other side it can be the most liberating day ever knowing you will never have to see some people ever again. I would have to be very careful with friends made at work. There would definitely have to be put in different groups and sub-groups.
3. Friends From Family
You would think these friends that you are related to should be the strongest bonds possible. But, you actually have to deal with these people on a fairly semi-annual (if not more) times a year. Again you don’t really get to choose these people as friends but have to learn how to deal with them. Some can be the strongest bonds on earth while others can be the most toxic friendship ever formed. I could easily see this wiping ten or more years off your life but if properly treated could extend your life. My advice is to remember this is a lifetime friendship so use extreme caution and always bring your “A” game with the family. You may have to set boundaries in these friendships but always remember that you will never have a stronger friendship than from family.
4. New Friends
This is a potpourri category, because these types of friends come from all over the place. New neighborhood, church, sports, clubs, politics, significant other, basically life. These friends can pop up any time any where and you have to decide how to handle each set. I would encourage taking the time and really understand how this set of friends is affecting your life. This is where you are going to have to decide which friends add to your life and which friends take away. Be mindful that most of these friends you are going to have to deal with on a regular basis and it is important that you are protecting you and preserving as much of your life as possible.
That is just a small list but what we have established is it is important to have good solid friends. The question is, what if I am lacking in the friend department? Where do I find these so called true friends? I am convinced that finding true friends is really just using the law of attraction. Simply put, the law of attraction is the ability to attract into our lives whatever we are focusing on. Does that make sense? It says whatever, that is a very broad topic. If I want a true best friend(s), then that needs to be my focus. I truly believe that the best way to FOCUS on finding a true friend is developing those characteristics that you want in a best friend.
This might sound complex but if you will develop those things you want in your friend in yourself then you will attract that type of person into your life. You can’t be a horrible person and expect to attract an honorable friend. If you aren’t honest in your life then the law of attraction is going to bring liars and cheaters into your life.
In short, you need to make a list (yes, write it down on paper) of the qualities that you want in a friend. Then take the list and put it into practice. If you want a friend who is dependable then you need to be there at 4 am to help out someone in need. If you want a friend that is a good listener, you can’t be the one who dominates the conversation. I know they don’t teach this in school but you have to BE the type of friend you want to have in your life.
I know it might all sound difficult but then again, is it worth 7.5 extra years of life. I’m betting it is worth the investment. Hopefully, if you just want a friend that sends out an email and actually responds, give me a shot at firstname.lastname@example.org I’ll be the one holding the 7.5 years or bust sign.
It all began back in 1990, when for lack of a better word, I became a scrapper.
I was working a 40-hour week making $6.15 an hour. Not bad at that point of my life, but what if I took a graveyard job on the weekends for $5.05 over 36 hours? My math figured that would come out to $10.00 an hour for a 40-hour week, squeezed into 76 hours.
That was fat city!
Luckily, that only lasted for three months. But, during that 3-month stint, I realized that there is only so much time during the week.
I became obsessed with making every hour count.
I am not sure where I developed this attitude but as each day passed I began to think that in order to provide for me and my family, I was going to have to get serious about life, get out there and get my two cents wherever I could and more importantly, however I could.
It was pretty sad.
All my life I was taught to look out for the little guy and to help those that are less fortunate. But, something went off inside of me and I developed the attitude that no one is going to take care of me, so if I don’t want to end up homeless, I need to get after it and take care of business and not worry about anybody else but me.
Over the next three decades I have had many opportunities to work two jobs at the same time. That was until I hit the jackpot…
THE OIL FIELD!
Work as much as you want at only one job! It was a no-brainer.
Over the past 5 years, I have easily worked about 13 years of my life away.
Don’t do the math, you gotta trust me on this one.
My mentality was, “Don’t let the work dry up, so I can keep putting in the hours”. As employees quit or were fired, I was always there to remind them not to let the door hit them on the way out. I figured there is only so much work and the fewer employees meant more work for me.
About 4 years ago, the story of the apricot tree was told to me.
“If you know anything about apricot trees, they produce a lot of fruit. Not just a handful but bushels of fruit. I approached the apricot tree thinking there were only two apricots at the top of the tree. I could only imagine I was going to have to fight off others, climb that tree, snagged those apricots, and escape without having to share any of them.
It was a pretty sad life but I didn’t know any better.
Then it happened, I was taught the law of abundance. I found out the apricot tree actually produces so much fruit that in order to get the apricots to grow larger and juicier, it is important to prune the fruit early in the season. When the harvest season begins there is still an abundance of fruit. You just have to go get it.”
Well, this changed my life. I realized just like the apricot tree and its fruit, there is just not a small pittance of money to go around for everyone. You don’t have to be cutthroat and eliminate all the competition.
There is an abundance.
You can actually take your time, format your plan, and then go to work. There is plenty to go around. We could end this blog right now and walk away with this knowledge and have everyone happy, right?! Well, not so fast, because here is the piece de resistance…
As I shared this new found knowledge with friends and family, my mother-in-law, Donna Martinson went a step further.
For my birthday, she painted and gave me what I refer to as My Life Masterpiece. It was an apricot tree with an abundance of apricots on all the branches. I still remember when I opened this present and the emotions I felt. Here was a lesson I had learned, which had clearly changed the way I think about everything, and I now had the perfect reminder for me, to look to everyday and keep this life lesson fresh and new.
Now, as many of you know I live in a man camp in the oil fields of North Dakota. You wouldn’t believe the expressions I received when I unpacked and put the picture of the apricot tree in our living room. Little did they know, that it is my key to being productive out here in this oil paradise. I know there is an abundance, not only of money, but of friends, memories, and just plain old good times.
It is very, very easy to get depressed in life. But, if we take time to step back, take a deep breath, show gratitude for everything we have, and realize that in this life there exists plenty for the taking and the sharing. Once we change our mindset and see the possibilities that are placed in front of us, we can tackle each day with vigor and smile and think to ourselves…
There is more tomorrow.
What a great opening statement from an even better movie, The Princess Bride.
Many of us think forgiveness is how we say sorry for messing up. We think it is required of us to let other people “off the hook”. But, what if forgiveness is actually a super power? I mean I don’t see Stan Lee creating any hulk type, master of the universe, super hero with the indestructible power of forgiveness! Yet, in my little world I discovered something quite amazing about the power of forgiveness.
Let’s jump into the DeLorean and head back to the year 2007, when my very loving, highly educated wife presented me with 20 pencils. Now it wasn’t my birthday or Christmas, not even close to Labor Day, but here were 20 pencils wrapped with a red string and my life was totally rocked. Which is even more amazing because I don’t use pencils at all. I am a blue ink black ink type of guy. So, why would my wife gift me 20 pencils for no particular reason?
Hop back in the DeLorean and this time we are headed to 1977. Disco is king, Grease and Star Wars are actually playing at the movie theater, and your star blogger is in Mr. Higgin’s 2nd grade classroom. This afternoon Mr. Higgins is reading Sawdust in His Shoes and I am about to change my life for the better.
I had just bet Lucy 20 pencils. For what? I can’t remember for the life of me, but I know this…I won the bet and I was about to be the richest kid in the 2nd grade. I arrive at school the next day after a night of endless dreaming ready to pick up my pencils and to my surprise, she didn’t have my pencils! I was shocked. How could you make a bet and then not follow through with the payout?
The next few days I continued to remind her of the lost bet and I was still waiting for my pencils. Days turned into weeks, then months, then all of a sudden, school is out for the summer. I lost a lot of sleep that summer thinking of those pencils. Soon, school and the third grade were approaching and I just knew I would collect my reward then. Well, as things happened school began and I tried to find which class Lucy was in. After checking all the rosters, I came to a terrible conclusion and developed what I can only suspect today as being my first ulcer. Lucy had moved over the summer!! Noooooooo! A smart person would have realized that this dream is over. Not me, I knew some day some how I would get those pencils.
Let’s head back to the future in 2007, my wife, Tracy found out this was a long lasting trial that I had put myself through. But, instead of saying I was being silly, selfish, or stupid (all true) she went out and spent $7.29 and in one full swoop, put me out of my misery. Think about it, I have been carrying this weight of not receiving these pencils for 30 years for $7.29.
That, my friends, is a very poor investment.
More importantly, back to The Princess Bride and like my good friend Inigo Montoya, who had been in the revenge business so long, he didn’t know what to do? I had reached that same point in my life. Again back to the future, future, we arrive in late November 2017 and I learn the true technique of this super power called forgiveness. I was driving back to the oil fields in North Dakota and since I had a spare seat in the Dodge Durango, I invited Lucy to ride shot gun for a part of the ride. Now, this wasn’t the physical Lucy, but in my mind I visualized her sitting next to me and had a great conversation.
I apologized for being such a brat in 2nd grade and realized I had carried this grudge on for far too long. Lucy laughed and we joked about Mr Higgins reading Sawdust in His Shoes and whenever one of us weren’t listening, he would plug our names in the book as characters to get our attention. It was a great conversation and I asked for her forgiveness and she accepted and also asked for my forgiveness for causing this huge controversy.
Lucy then disappeared, and I was left with a slight smile, as I again thought of all the grief I had caused myself on this journey called life. I then had an amazing vision. If you go back in time and remember those 5 pound Velcro weights you would wear around your ankles to increase your strength and stamina. I thought to myself, what if every grudge, every negative thought, every offensive online post could be redeemed as a five pound weight attached to our body? How many of us would be so bogged down that we literally couldn’t get off the couch?
In a very real sense, we carry these “issues” around with us in our lives. We are actually bogging our lives down with a literal weight that is, for lack of a better word, destroying our lives. Think about that feeling we all had as we would take those ankle weights off at the end of the day. We felt like we could fly.
I STRONGLY encourage you to make a list of all those people that you feel have wronged you in some way. Take time to have that very real “imaginary” conversation. Ask for forgiveness and release that weight that is bogging your life down. Get out of the revenge business and start your new life spreading the love and helping others release this unnecessary weight on their own lives.
Oh no!!! I feel a strong case of mediocrity coming on.
Just like the common cold (and I love when friends and family tell me they feel a cold coming on) most of the time they submit to it and accept that there is nothing they can do but endure, and if it gets really bad and torturous they will finally accept some medicine. On the other hand, there are those that are constantly on guard, taking their vitamin C, eating healthy, washing their hands continually, doing everything possible to avoid the cold. If they even get a hint of a slight cough and a sneeze, they have already upped the vitamins, taken multiple supplements, and doing everything possible to ward off that nasty cold.
Are we that different with mediocrity? The problem is we might be so accustomed to it that we don’t even know we have it. Sometimes, we have upped our game to a far superior level that when we fall into “mediocrity” we are getting better results than most people get when they are on their “A game”.
There lies the problem. We all have tendencies to be mediocre. Don’t get me wrong, there are days where I just want to lay around and do nothing. Be nothing for that matter. And least of all, actually be the slightest bit productive. But what happens when those days turn into weeks, then months, and yikes, even years?!
We have to know how to combat mediocrity and be on guard for it to enter and overtake our lives. It can appear very easily, but if we have a plan of attack lined up we can usually tackle mediocrity right away. Continually improving and of course becoming better today than we were yesterday.
5 steps for our attack plan.
READ- you have heard it over and over again but just like taking vitamin C you have to be a reader to succeed. This is key to stay out of mediocrity, you have to continually learn, improve, and be introduced to new concepts. I can’t stress this enough. In fact, just today a co-worker came up to me and felt the pages of the book I was reading and said “I haven’t seen one of these things in years!” I wanted to reply so badly that that is probably why I am making three times the income that you are, but because I read daily I know better than that.
Self Talk- this is just as important as washing your hands. You can literally beat yourself up and destroy all your dreams and goals if you don’t hold your thoughts in check. More importantly, you have to feed your mind with positive affirmations to break even with the negative self talk. I mean if you want to catch a cold, the best way is to head to kindergarten class and play with the kids and as you walk out just jam your fist in your mouth, you should have the new cold before you get to your car. Please don’t beat yourself up with negative self talk.
Get Up- the go getters of this world are not sleeping till the crack of noon. They are up and moving at 5 am or sooner. Why? They have things to do and people to see. Mediocrity does not like the mornings, they have been up all night partying, watching Netflix, and chowing down on some sweet sweet pizza and chicken wings. No need to ask, believe me I know.
Exercise- OK that is a deal breaker, we want to improve ourselves but exercise is so hard. Trust me on this one, we have become such a society of mediocre people that we have to invent exercise to make up for the easy life we live. I am sorry but unless you are working a 16 hour daily shift in the oil field (you know who I am talking about) you have to exercise. Do you think exercise is a friend of the mediocre person? Of course not! And I am sorry but don’t blame the teacher on this one, it is a simple fact.
Mastermind- this one is the most difficult but I promise you if you can find a group of 4–6 people with the same tenacity that you have that you can report to and keep each of you accountable this will keep your inner foundation strong.
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EMERGENCY PLAN: Mediocrity has set in and you have to decide, are you giving in or are you going to fight to be better than average…
Cold shower- it sucks but it wakes you up and can refocus you.
Vision board- you need a visual of why YOU need to be better than average. What are you fighting for? Why is it important to be better than mediocre? Find what you love, what you desire, and get it up on your wall so you can fortify your soul.
Forgiveness- look it can get the best of us, but don’t waste time and give into negative self talk. Sometimes life gets overwhelming! Don’t let it bog you down! Release it, regroup and move on. You've got this!
EMERGENCY GRAB BAG: You are knee deep in mediocrity and it has dragged on for days. You have to get out of this funk...
Meditate- I know it sounds crazy but try it for ten minutes a day to clear the noise, refocus and recommit.
Mentor or Coach- They are out there and they want to help you! Some come with a cost, but there are friends and strangers alike who want to help. You have to give them a chance.
Attack- This is it! Don’t let fear and all those emotions drag you back down to mediocrity. You can do this and you can win this fight. Get focused and see the final outcome. Don’t put off the things that need to be done today. Get your list together and keep your mental toughness at all times. You will win this battle.