What I Would Tell My Younger Self

I recently turned 44 years old. Age has a way of bringing wisdom with it. Here are 5 things I would tell my younger self if I could go back in time:

1) Relationships are the most important thing in life. Your relationship with God and friends/family trump money every time.

2) Money is a tool that can be used to bless your family and help others. Earn a lot of it, own it, but don’t let it own you.

3) An attitude of gratitude is the best way to start every day.

4) A great marriage begins with looking for ways to serve and show love to your spouse, not always looking for ways to serve yourself.

5) Giving of yourself (your time, words, resources and talents) is one of the greatest joys in life.

You were created to do great things. Go be awesome this week.

The Secret Sauce For Happiness

sunrise

We all want more of it.  It seems to be one of those things you just can’t get enough of.

Happiness.

For some of us, our life soundtrack would be, “I Still Haven’t Found What I’m Looking For” by U2.

As leaders, we tend to always be pursuing the next big thing.  It’s the way we’re wired.

The problem is, we tend to be so focused on the future that we don’t take enough time to enjoy the present.

We often may be preoccupied with what is not going well instead of celebrating what IS going well.

So what’s the answer?

Gratitude.

Be present in the moment without losing your dream for the future.

Gratitude changes perspective.

It’s difficult to be unhappy when you are reflecting on something you are grateful for.

What has God blessed you with?  Sometimes we take for granted the small things that are the most significant.

A blue sky.  Your favorite food.  Time with family.  Another day to be alive.

One practice I’ve started is to begin my day with gratefulness.

As soon as I wake up, I put on a t-shirt, shorts, sneakers and walk out the door.

I typically will go for a brisk, one mile walk around my neighborhood.  This not only gets my body moving for the day, but it also gives me an opportunity to begin my day with prayer.   I call it my “prayer walk”.

I always begin my walk with thanking God for things I’m grateful for.   It’s a wonderful way to start my day off on the right foot.

People that regularly reflect on what they are grateful for are shown to be happier people.

Conduct an experiment.  Try beginning each day by reflecting on three things you are grateful for.  See if you don’t start experiencing more happiness in your life.

Happy leaders create better organizations.  And better organizations can change the world.

So keep going for your dreams of the future.  But don’t forget to take time to be grateful for what you have in front of you.  It not only benefits you, but also those around you.

What is one thing you are grateful for today? 

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Are You Living Your Dream Life?

We all want to get the most out of life.  Sadly, not many of us do.

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Bronnie Ware is a nurse who spent years as a nurse caring for patients in the last 12 weeks of their life.  She noticed a common pattern that emerged among her patients and decided to put her observations into a book called, “The Top Five Regrets of the Dying.”

Here are the top 5: 

1) I wish I’d had the courage to live a life true to myself, not the life others expected of me.

They regretted not following more of their passions and dreams.

2) I wish I hadn’t worked so hard. 

They regretted missing valuable time with their kids, family and friends.

3) I wish I’d had the courage to express my feelings.

They regretted internalizing their feelings at missed out on resolving conflict.

4) I wish I had stayed in touch with my friends.

They regretted letting relationships lapse.

5) I wish that I had let myself be happier. 

They regretted missing out on some of the simple joys of life and experiencing life to the full.

The good news is that you and I have a choice today how we can change our lives for the better.  Change that will help us avoid some of these regrets and live life to the full.

Question of the day:  Which one of these five things do you need to get back on track with?  Go for it!  Your life is a gift from God.  How you live it is your gift to Him and the world.  

 

 

12 Life Lessons I’ve Learned in 43 Years

I turned 43 today.

I feel a bit like Forrest Gump sitting on a bench, reflecting on what I’ve learned in my life.  (Cue music and feather floating in the air.)

Sit down
I wish I learned these things earlier, but I guess this is all part of the journey.

Here are 12 Life Lessons I’ve Learned in 43 Years.

1) Giving is better than receiving. Serving others brings great joy.

2) You can’t change other people, but you can change yourself.

3) Life is better when you focus on your strengths instead of your weaknesses.

4) Starting each day with gratitude leads to greater perspective and a happier life.

5) Words are powerful. They can be used to shape people’s futures, for better or for worse.

6) Money doesn’t buy happiness. (But it can be a blessing when you use it in the right ways.)

7) Everybody needs encouragement. People don’t care how much you know until they know how much you care.

8) Life can be hard at times. I can do all things through Christ who gives me strength.

9) Everybody is in the people business. Most of our success in life is built around how well we interact with others.

10) Life is not meant to be boring.  Have fun and create adventures.

11) A marriage of your dreams is possible.  Dating your spouse and learning their “love language” are keys to creating it.

12) God is faithful.

Bonus:  Chipotle is better than Moe’s.  (Moe’s fans, please refer to #2)

What has been the best advice you’ve ever received?  Would you share it in the comments below?  

Yes You Can

English heart surgeon Martyn Lloyd-Jones said, “Most unhappiness in life is due to the fact that you are listening to yourself rather than talking to yourself.”

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We all have tapes that play in our head.  Many times, those tapes are saying something negative.  “I can’t do that”.  “I’m not smart enough”.  “I would fail if I tried that”.

However those thoughts got there, I think many people have a tendency in general to gravitate first towards the “I can’t” mentality.

What if we could change that?  What if we started with “I can”?

I happen to be a Christian.  One of my life verses from the Bible is:  “I can do all things through Christ who gives me strength.” – Philippians 4:13

Attitude is everything.

Someone once said, “If you think you can, you can.  If you think you can’t, you can’t.”

In other words, if you start with an “I can’t” mentality, it will be 10x harder to accomplish something than if you start with an “I can” mentality.

A positive attitude will trump a negative attitude every time.

Here are 3 Ways to Have an “I Can” Attitude:

1)  Surround yourself with the right people.  Experts tells us we will be the average of the 5 people we associate with.  Your friends are a preview of your future.  Are you surrounding yourself with mostly negative people?  Seek to limit those relationships and surround yourself with positive people.  You will begin to notice a big difference in your attitude.

2)  Fill your mind with the right stuff.  Read books and listen to podcasts that are life giving. If your media diet consists of only watching the news, it’s probably time to change the channel.

3)  Remind yourself of the right things.  God has created you to be amazing and unique.  There is nobody else on the planet exactly like you.  You have gifts and talents and were created to do great things.  Remind yourself of past accomplishments.  Rediscover (or discover) what you can be the best in the world at and work on your strengths instead of focusing on your weaknesses.

Change your attitude.  Change your life.

Yes You Can.

What is one area you can have a more positive attitude in today?

3 Ways To Make a Good Marriage Great

When I was younger I worked as a life guard at a community pool.

Enamoured couple is played

One day, a disgruntled older man decided he would give me some advice.  He said, “Don’t ever get married.  You’ll be miserable.”

I remember telling him, “Just because you have a bad marriage doesn’t mean I have to have a bad marriage.” It was a sad thing to see someone so negative against marriage.  It doesn’t have to be that way, though.

With the divorce rate in America hovering around 50%, there is a good chance you know someone that has been affected by the devastation of it.

No one sets out on their honeymoon with the goal of getting a divorce, but sadly many people end up there.

For the 50% of couples that don’t end up divorced, there is a percentage of those that feel their marriage is  just not what they thought it would be.

But I believe a large percentage of that 50% have a good marriage, but feel it could be better.

Whether you are married and looking for ways to make your marriage better or you are currently single and desire be married; 

Here are 3 Ways To Make a Good Marriage Great.

1) Consider Your Spouse’s Interests.

My hunch is that when you were first dating you did lots of things that typically “weren’t your thing”.  It doesn’t mean that men need to flock to the mall with their wives every weekend or that women need to go out and buy a set of the latest Duck Dynasty camo.  It does mean that marriage isn’t all about us.

How can you create a connection with your spouse with the things he/she is interested in?  It may be as simple as a conversation asking them about their interest that shows you care.

My wife, Jacque has a love for helping orphans in Mexico.  She oversees a mission trip there with a group of about 100 people.  I know she cares about that deeply and I know it means a lot to her when I ask how things are going with the planning.

2) Apologize When Necessary.

The two words, “I’m sorry” tend to be some of the hardest to say when you are married.  No one likes to admit they are wrong.  If you have offended your spouse, be quick to apologize.  Easier said than done, but sincere apologies create relational equity.  It goes a long way and shows your spouse your relationship is more important than being right.

On a similar note, when your spouse apologizes be quick to forgive.  Unforgiveness and holding grudges create a wedge in your marriage.  It’s impossible to create a great marriage if a spouse is holding onto a grudge.  Drop the rock of unforgiveness and your relationship will move forward.

3) Be a Good Listener.

Listening shows value.  Genuine listening.  Waiting for your turn to talk is not listening.  Your spouse knows you care when you listen.

A word to the men.  We have a tendency to try to “fix things”.  Sometimes our wives need to just be heard and understood.  Ask them if there is anything we can do to help, but many times they will just want to be heard.

Also, a word to the women.  Men have shorter attention spans when it comes to listening.  Men want to serve by listening, but it can be difficult to stay with a long story.  It’s just the way many of us are wired.

If husbands and wives can understand their differences, communication in the relationship can flourish.

These are not the only ways to make a good marriage great, but they certainly are things every couple can put into practice and see results.  

A great marriage is possible.  One great decision at a time.

Which of these do you feel is the most important?

 

3 Tips to Create More Excitement in Your Marriage

create excitement in marriageWe’ve all seen it far too often.  Couples sitting across the table from each other in a restaurant, that might as well be a thousand miles apart.

30 minutes have gone by and not a word is spoken.

Maybe they are just having a bad night.  Or maybe they enjoy sitting in silence.

More often than not, I think it’s a classic case of a boring marriage.

No one ever begins a marriage with the goal of it being boring.  Yet sadly, many end up in that very spot.

How do you prevent a boring marriage or turn a marriage around that has lost it’s spark?

My wife, Jacque and I have been married for over 20 years and I can honestly say we have as much excitement in our marriage, if not more than we did when we first got married.

 Here are a few ways we keep things exciting.

1)  Have a regular date night.  We have had this practice for over 20 years.  Hands down, this regular habit has paid more dividends into our marriage than any other thing.  Even in the early days as newlyweds, when we had to take a calculator to the store just so we could figure out if we could afford the peanut butter AND the jelly, we kept a regular date night.  It was just a priority for us that we looked at as an investment.

We also have two children, Jordyn and Ryan.  We have always prioritized our relationship with each other over our relationship with our kids because we know one of the best gifts we can pass on to our children is a healthy and vibrant marriage.  It has the legacy potential to carry on for generations to come.

2)  Be intentional about fun.   I plan most of our dates.  I think it’s important for men to not only plan and lead well at work, but also plan and lead well at home.  I want to put as much effort, if not more into planning fun elements into our marriage as I do into planning projects at work.

Some of the fun things we have done are: competition date nights (where we pick one or more activities to compete against each other in), picnics for two at a romantic location and something as silly as a tickle fight.  (why should kids have all the fun?)

3)  Plan elements of surprise.  One of the ways to combat boredom in marriage is to keep things fresh.  Recently, I decided I was going to give Jacque some surprise gifts.  Instead of just handing over the gifts, I decided to have a little fun with it.  I got four pieces of copy paper and wrote, “Door #1, Door #2, Door #3 and Door #4” on them.  I then proceeded to tape one of those pieces of paper to four of our closet doors in our house.  Behind each door I placed one of the gifts.  Some of the gifts were as simple as a coupon for a back rub.  (This idea doesn’t have to cost you a ton of money.)  I had Jacque pick one door per day of her choice for four days, each time revealing what was behind the door.  It was a lot of fun for her and a lot of fun for me to surprise her.

My hope is that some of this content inspires you to create more excitement in your marriage or gives you some ideas for a future relationship if you are not yet married.

Keep leading well.  Especially in your marriage.

What are some ideas that have added excitement to your marriage?

(Feature image from Clipart.com)