Untangling the Spider’s Web

“Behind every beautiful thing, there’s some kind of pain.”

Bob Dylan

“Face your life, its pain, its pleasure, leave no path untaken.”

Neil Gaiman, The Graveyard Book

Pain has a strong tendency to inflict more pain. The more pain you experience, the more pain you want to release from yourself. Sometimes that means lashing out to your co-workers and sometimes that means picking a meaningless fight with your significant other.

You can see this in families, each passing on unique generational pain to the next. “The apple doesn’t fall far from the tree”. You can see this in relationships. We can easily cast blame, criticism, and frustrations on others around us, usually because we are tired and scared and disappointed in ourselves. Likely the worst victim is pain and self-loathing we inflict on ourselves. We can internalize painful moments we experience and hold it in, ricocheting like bullet fragments within our psyche.

The problem is, even if there is clearly someone we can point the finger too, blame and dwelling on mistakes and what’s wrong don’t heal the pain. Rather, dwelling on past mistakes or unfortunate circumstances only roots us in deeper into loss and regret.

But if we take our lives into our own hands through responsibility and ownership over what’s in our control, we can find a way forward that breaks the cycle and untangles the web of pain we (and others) weave.

Pain can sometimes make us better. Not all pain, but some. The hardest experience in my life has defined who I am more than anything else. I am who I am because of the pain I’ve experienced and the path’s pain has lead me on. It didn’t always start positive — I didn’t enjoy the pain when it happened. But with the right open perspective and surrounding myself with knowledgeable people and books, I found the good in the difficult. There’s beauty in that, in a somewhat sideways half-glance sort of way.

We all feel moments of disappointment, anxious, sad, regretful, bitter, fearful, uncertain, broken-hearted, lonely, hopeless, melancholy and meek at some point. The key to living well is to not let those tiny moments become you.

We all feel moments of disappointment, anxious, sad, regretful, bitter, fearful, uncertain, broken hearted, lonely, hopeless, melancholy and meek at some point. The key to living well is to not let those tiny moments become you.

STAY BOLD, Keep Pursuing,
— Josh Waggoner | Daily Blog #773


Join the Renaissance:

IG@Renaissance.Life

If you enjoyed this blog post, consider becoming a patron.

SubscribeRenaissance Life on Apple Podcast | Renaissance Life on Spotify

Thinking thoughts about thinking

“If you run into an *sshole in the morning, you ran into an *sshole. If you run into *ssholes all day, you’re the *sshole.”

Raylan Givens, Justified

‘Bad things happen for a reason’

Says the hopeful person going through a rough time.

‘Good things happen to those who work for it’ —

Says the fortunate person who got a lucky break.

‘Says the fortunate person who got a lucky break’

Says the guy envious of the other person’s lucky break.


These people are like us, experiencing life and attaching ourselves to the picture, fortune and misfortune, negative and optimism. ‘It’s neither good nor bad, but thinking makes it so.’

Our mindset is ultimately the only thing we have true control over. (And there are some who unfortunately don’t even have that.)

It’s the first move. The second being our action and decision we make around our thoughts and what we let into our minds.

If I were Dr. Seuss, I’d say something like:

You are what you’re thinking thunk.

Sometimes, our current reality can get in the way of our minds, and our minds can limit our reality. Of course, our opinions matter. Our ideas matter. Our beliefs matter. Our values matter. But if you feel stuck, or less than who you want to be, then perhaps it’s time to rewrite your thoughts and ideas about things, so you can create a slightly better version of yourself and find joy when you experience the ups and downs in life.

STAY BOLD, Keep Pursuing,
— Josh Waggoner | Daily Blog #759


Join the Renaissance:

IG@Renaissance.Life

If you enjoyed this blog post, consider becoming a patron.

SubscribeRenaissance Life on Apple Podcast | Renaissance Life on Spotify

Because Reasons

“Never underestimate the power of anyone’s story… anyone’s life.”

Abby Johnson

“If you want a happy ending, that depends, of course, on where you stop your story.”

Orson Welles

Two opposing thoughts to events in our lives:

“How could I be so unlucky? Why is this happening to me?”

“How could I be so lucky? I have so many opportunities coming my way it’s crazy. Why is this happening to me?”

Whether you are going through good times, bad, or a little of both, there’s one thing to consider:

Perhaps it is all happening for a reason.

Maybe this is exactly where you need to be, so that you can learn to become a better version of yourself that you are capable of being. Maybe this is what needed to happen so that you can use your story and your hard (or expectational) life lessons to create an impact in the lives of others who needed help.

STAY BOLD, Keep Pursuing,
— Josh Waggoner | Daily Blog #753


Join the Renaissance:

IG@Renaissance.Life

If you enjoyed this blog post, consider becoming a patron.

SubscribeRenaissance Life on Apple Podcast | Renaissance Life on Spotify

Knowing too much

“We think too much and feel too little.”

Charlie Chaplin

Excessive knowledge can be a problem if it keeps us from acting on intuitive decisions. Knowledge is a balance. Just like how we can die from not enough water and too much water, we can just as easily know too much about things (work, life, circumstances etc) than knowing too little. (Although it’s easier to die from lack of water than too much.)

Not enough knowledge keeps us where we are because of ignorance, too much knowledge keeps us where we are because of fear, uncertainty and anxieties over whether or not we are making the right call.

When we are feeling stuck, it’s good to pause and go with what our guts are telling us to do and just let ourselves go for it, despite the doubt. Another approach is pretend as if you were giving advice to a close friend on what to do. In my experience, I’ve found it’s better to follow your intuition and possibly be wrong than to do nothing (or do what someone inexperienced is telling you) and be mentally second (let’s be honest third) guessing yourself.

STAY BOLD, Keep Pursuing,
— Josh Waggoner | Daily Blog #751


Join the Renaissance:

IG@Renaissance.Life

If you enjoyed this blog post, consider becoming a patron.

SubscribeRenaissance Life on Apple Podcast | Renaissance Life on Spotify

Coloring book

Like a coloring book, life gives us an outline. Our circumstances and decisions build the outline of what our life looks like. We don’t choose where we are born. We don’t choose our family. We don’t choose our culture.

But it’s our perspectives, emotions and thoughts that determine the colors of what our drawing looks like. We choose what we say. We choose what we do with what we’ve got.

Anger and entitlement paints it red.
Bitterness and pain can paint it black.
Humility and learning to let things go, blue and yellow.

A poorly drawn outline can become beautiful with thoughtful colors. (Happy trees.)

Sometimes red is part of our story. Sometimes red leads us to blue. I don’t think it matters whether we want to color outside the lines or inside instead. What we need to look out for is when our drawing is all one color and out of balance.

STAY BOLD, Keep Pursuing,
— Josh Waggoner | Daily Blog #744


Join the Renaissance:

IG@Renaissance.Life

If you enjoyed this blog post, consider becoming a patron.

SubscribeRenaissance Life on Apple Podcast | Renaissance Life on Spotify

Creativity is the Medicine for the Soul

“Odd how the creative power at once brings the whole universe to order.”

Virginia Woolf

“Grief can be the garden of compassion. If you keep your heart open through everything, your pain can become your greatest ally in your life’s search for love and wisdom.”

Rumi

Why do we create? To express ourselves, sure. To be somebody. To highlight something important to the world. And yet, creativity goes much deeper than that.

The act of creating doesn’t just work outwardly, it’s also an act that works within us.

Creativity is an outlet of inner work and outer work. By expressing ourselves through our art, we learn and nurture our own selves.

There are moments in our lives where everything feels like a struggle. Moment where we feel stuck in the same old same old we find ourselves in again. Broken bones, childhood trauma’s, disappointment, broken hearts, loneliness, pain, injury, fear, uncertainty, apathy, burnout, brokenness, bitterness, anger… Sometimes life can be overwhelming. Creating is a great way to work through our thoughts and emotions. Because

Creativity is the Medicine for the Soul.

Why else would some of the greatest songs, books, films, poems, dances, and works of art come from sadness and pain. It’s a form of self-therapy* that releases pent-up energy. Creating something — whatever it is for you — is like a pressure valve release on our minds, bodies and souls. The more we create, the more capable we become. Creativity comes from happy places too. Happy moments need creative expressions just as much as the difficult moments do.

Whatever you are feeling, whatever you are going though. Creating something is an excellent tool in the toolkit.

STAY BOLD, Keep Pursuing,
— Josh Waggoner | Daily Blog #740

*that being said, always talk to a professional first if you need it.


Join the Renaissance:

IG@Renaissance.Life

If you enjoyed this blog post, consider becoming a patron.

SubscribeRenaissance Life on Apple Podcast | Renaissance Life on Spotify

The High-road of Pain

“Grief can be the garden of compassion. If you keep your heart open through everything, your pain can become your greatest ally in your life’s search for love and wisdom.”

Rumi

Pain is a two-sided story. Pain can close you off and make you focus only on yourself and your struggles. Or, pain can open you up to the pain we all experience and connect you through that shared experience.

Pain is a curse and a gift. It shows you that something is wrong and yet also motivates you to work towards something better.

It’s a sharp blade that allows us to cut to the essence of life. An injury for example. You don’t realize how important your back is until you can’t use it anymore. You don’t realize how much you need an arm or collar bone or knee until you break it.

Pain can either drive us to cope (with food, drinking, risk, etc) or drive us to live fully and deeply. (And unfortunately sometime we end up destroying ourselves to ultimately find ourselves.)

Suffering is an easy choice, but it’s not the only choice.

All this to say, you are not alone in your struggles. Everyone is going through something, we just don’t often see it or know how to handle it.

But if we first learn to look to helping others instead of only helping ourselves, and if we seek out connections of experience, we will inevitably also learn how to help ourselves as well.

STAY BOLD, Keep Pursuing,
— Josh Waggoner | Daily Blog #731


Join the Renaissance:

IG@Renaissance.Life

If you enjoyed this blog post, consider becoming a patron.

SubscribeRenaissance Life on Apple Podcast | Renaissance Life on Spotify

Iron Will

“I love those who can smile in trouble, who can gather strength from distress, and grow brave by reflection. ‘Tis the business of little minds to shrink, but they whose heart is firm, and whose conscience approves their conduct, will pursue their principles unto death.”

Leonardo da Vinci

Iron is a malleable metal. It’s not too soft to be directionless and not to ridged to be brittle. But it takes heat to form it into what you need.

I know, it is a very cheesy self-help things to write, but it’s true.

Nobody like to be knocked on their *ss, but everyone loves an underdog.

Resistance is a natural part of reaching for success. Whatever that success is for you, things are going to get in your way.

Bad luck, circumstances, setbacks and failure may not be our fault, or maybe they are, but it doesn’t matter. Either way, they are our responsibility. They are our opportunity to get stronger and more capable.

Difficult moments will try to break you, and they can if you let them turn you ridged and bitter. Anger and resentment held to long seeps into the bones and poisons our capacity to act if we aren’t careful.

However, difficult moments can’t hurt an iron will.

Let the past go. Forget the future for now. Focus on the here and now. Rest. Take a moment. Do what you need to do to reset. Then get up and find a way forward.

But don’t take my word for it. Instead, listen to the insights of all the strong willed people who said it cooler than me:

“Notice that the stiffest tree is most easily cracked, while the bamboo or willow survives by bending with the wind.”

Bruce Lee

“You gain strength, courage, and confidence by every experience in which you really stop to look fear in the face. You are able to say to yourself, ‘I lived through this horror. I can take the next thing that comes along.’”

Eleanor Roosevelt

“Strength does not come from physical capacity. It comes from an indomitable will.”

Mahatma Gandhi

“You have power over your mind – not outside events. Realize this, and you will find strength.”

Marcus Aurelius

STAY BOLD, Keep Pursuing,
— Josh Waggoner | Daily Blog #706


Join the Renaissance:

IG@Renaissance.Life

If you enjoyed this blog post, consider becoming a patron.

SubscribeRenaissance Life on Apple Podcast | Renaissance Life on Spotify

Roots

“Problems are not stop signs, they are guidelines.”

Robert H. Schuller

Problems feel very… mushy when you are confronted by them. ‘I need to fix my health’, ‘I need to earn more money’, ‘I’m not motivated enough’… 

Without proper consideration and clarity, our problem (and associated thoughts with those problems) can easily derail us by there intangible nature.

That’s why the first course of action when dealing with something is acknowledge that it exists. Once we do that, we can begin to get a grasp of what the problem is and where we can start hacking away at it.

We’ve got to get to the heart of the issue. Where does the problem start? Where are it’s roots? What’s feeding and watering it? 

Often problems arises from little things we neglect and slowly build into bigger things before we know it.

We can’t change the past, but we can hedge and do our part to protect our future. What are the little things you know you are neglecting that need attention right now? What are the little things you might be missing?

STAY BOLD, Keep Pursuing,
— Josh Waggoner | Daily Blog #694


Join the Renaissance:

IG@Renaissance.Life

If you enjoyed this blog post, consider becoming a patron.

SubscribeRenaissance Life on Apple Podcast | Renaissance Life on Spotify

How to Help Someone (And Ultimately Help Yourself in the Process)

The first principle is that you must not fool yourself and you are the easiest person to fool.

Richard P. Feynman

There’s a funny, slightly insulting quote you’ve likely heard, from the author and dramatist George Bernard Shaw, that goes “He who can, does; he who cannot, teaches”. And perhaps, an even funnier follow-up quote by Woody Allen, saying “Those who can’t do, teach. And those who can’t teach, teach gym.”

Now that I’ve insulted every teacher and, specifically, gym teacher reading this, I’d like to discuss a somewhat related idea (that might be a bit more helpful to us than criticizing our doing and teaching abilities):

If you can’t help yourself, try helping others.

When we hear about other people’s problems, Why do we think they are so much easier to solve than our own?

Because we can usually see their — our friend, family member, coworker, boss, etc —problem with a clear mind and come up with linear ideas and strategies to solve it. Our problems are too close to us because we are the ones dealing with them (and at the same time trying not to have a panic attack and emotionally eating an entire cake). And it’s the same both ways. They might see your problems and think they are easy to solve, just like you think the same about theirs. In reality, most problems are messy and hard to deal with. But we make them harder by weighing them down with fear and blindly try to fix things without clarifying the problems first. Clarity is key.

Clarity is what we can give to others. And clarity is what we need for our own problems. We need to see all the visible cards on the table and think through (and gut feel) our way through the cards we don’t know about.

How do you help someone gain clarity about their problems? Have a conversation with them. And more importantly, listen to them. Be a sounding-board first; A helper second. Sometimes all we need is to hear ourselves speak aloud about our problem. Having a person in front of us who is giving us eye contact, nodding their heads every so often, and allowing us to talk is a great way to do that and really hear what we need to hear.

After, listening, giving actionable advice and ideas is another way we can help someone. I believe advice needs to come from a neutral place. The point of helping is not to tell them what you think is best for them. You need to think about the advice that is best for who they are and what their goals are. Remember, we’re not trying to make clones of ourselves. We’re trying to help others be the best version of themselves they can be. Not the best versions of us they can be.

Of course, sometimes people don’t know what they need. Use your best judgment. Some skills and piece of advice are universal. For example, building a better community and support group around you who all want you to succeed is always a great idea. (Or at least, I’ve never heard or read anyone giving the opposite advice — ‘don’t be friends with anyone. support groups will get you nowhere’ 😜)

However, there’s a caveat I would be remiss if I didn’t say: we first need to make sure that the person (or people) we are trying to help actually want our help. If we’re just telling them what to do and giving them a dozen ideas to try that they don’t want and didn’t ask for, the help isn’t going to work. And related, it’s always good if you can back up your advice with experience. If you haven’t taken your own advice, very few people are actually going to listen. Help works where it’s needed, not where it’s assumed to be needed.

By putting our energy towards helping others, we end up helping others and helping ourselves. Not only do we do a good thing by lifting someone up when their down and teaching them something valuable, we also begin to feel better about our own circumstances and problems because we are no longer are wasting so much energy into doubt, fear and worry about ourselves. By channeling our energy towards others, we’ve taken away energy that we would be giving to fearing our own issues.

Giving a helping hand doesn’t have to be just people we know too. We can also help others online or in our local community that we haven’t met. We could even put energy towards helping a group of people, like the homeless, or a type of need, like clean water.

In a roundabout way, helping others usually helps ourselves in the process. We gain motion through the act of helping others, and in the process gain the confidence and momentum we need to help ourselves.

How can you leverage your skills, connections and extra resources to help others?

STAY BOLD, Keep Pursuing,
— Josh Waggoner

Daily Blog #684

Join the Renaissance:

IG@Renaissance.Life

If you enjoyed this blog post, consider becoming a patron.

SubscribeRenaissance Life on Apple Podcast | Renaissance Life on Spotify

Related

“Help others and give something back. I guarantee you will discover that while public service improves the lives and the world around you, its greatest reward is the enrichment and new meaning it will bring your own life.”

Arnold Schwarzenegger

“It’s also selfish because it makes you feel good when you help others. I’ve been helped by acts of kindness from strangers. That’s why we’re here, after all, to help others.”

Carol Burnett