Read an Excerpt
By Scot D. Spooner
AuthorHouseCopyright © 2012 Scot D. Spooner
All right reserved.
Chapter OneTerminal Uniqueness
An illness that I suffered with for many years is one I refer to as terminal uniqueness. Please notice that I used the word with, not from. This is because it was an illness that I chose. I use the word terminal because this illness is nothing less than the equivalent of any stage four disease that can last for decades, or a lifetime.
What does terminal uniqueness sound like? What does terminal uniqueness look like?
Here are some examples of what it may sound like:
"You don't know what life is like for me."
"If you had to deal with my life, you would be this way too."
"That may work out great for you but not for me."
I'm too <fill in the blank> to be able to do that."
"You don't know what I have been through."
"I had a terrible childhood."
The list could go on for pages and pages, but I am sure you get the point.
Terminal uniqueness looks like any one of us, and it looked just like me for many years.
I have used every one of those lines at some point in my life, but I no longer allow myself to do so. It doesn't mean that I don't have those thoughts run through my mind. I have bad days just the same as you. The difference is that I choose not to speak them, empower them, or act on them.
Please know that I do not make light of any of the situations that you may have gone through in your life. Horrible experiences are real, and the pain is real. What I want to point out is that working through the pain and suffering is one thing, but to be defined by it is another. It is my hope that you will never be defined by the wrongs done to you but that you will be defined by the positive way you choose to live your life—here, now, in the present moment only.
The truth that I have come to find for myself is that I am not unique. For each and every situation I have lived through, many others have too. It became a personal obsession in my life to find those who had lived through these same "not so unique" experiences and uncover the secret to coming out on the other side stronger, and doing so with dignity. I added the phrase "doing so with dignity" because there is a big difference between getting through something by kicking, screaming, blaming, and yelling versus keeping calm, taking responsibility, and having faith. Getting through hard times and not owing anyone an apology once all is said and done is what I am speaking of.
It is in the seeking that I find the answers, yet that alone has afforded me nothing in the way of change. It takes knowledge followed by action and faith to "get to" where the others are currently, which is where I said that I wanted to be. Right? Right!
The other nugget of wisdom that comes with seeking out those who have suffered as I have is that I quickly find that many people have stories that make my story look like a walk in the park. This turns my complaints into gratitude and hope, both of which are priceless.
I am not unique (even though my mom still tells me I am), and you are not unique, which is yet another reason that this is "your life" written by me.
Seek the answers, face the facts, make a plan, and execute with the faith and hope necessary to succeed. Remember, your life is a fairy tale to many of the suffering people in this world.
Chapter TwoA Degree from Barnes and Noble
Some years ago, I began to do my best to seek out and surround myself with what I believed to be successful people. Each person had his or her own story and own level of success, so I played close attention to all of the details, in search of as many similarities as I could find.
The one common thread that could not be argued was that all were avid readers. That is the first part. The second and more important finding about their reading habits is that none of them read fiction materials, or if they did, it represented 2 to 5 percent of their libraries. Another similarity is that they watched very little television and definitely no reality shows. No judgment here—I'm just saying.
I made myself a promise that I too would read the authors who were placing lifetimes of knowledge into a couple hundred pages, and I would not just read them but would look at each as if it were a textbook for life. I was told this great analogy years ago, and I want to share it with you: If you come eat apple pie at my house and find that it is the best apple pie that you have ever had, you will ask me for the recipe, and I will give it to you. You could then easily go to the store, buy the ingredients, and cook the exact same pie. But if you added anything or took anything away, you would not end up with the best pie in the world, which you have the recipe for.
I bring this up to make a point about the importance of following directions. When I pick up a book to learn how to do something or I ask someone advice on how they achieved a certain task, I always have three options of what to execute after I gain the knowledge that the person or the book has provided:
1. I can take the recipe, which was successful, and execute the exact same plan.
2. I can use some of the person's plan mixed with some of my plan.
3. I can use none of the person's plan.
More often than not, the best way to achieve the task in question is to use the plan that has worked. This was a hard lesson for me to learn, but the older I get, the more I find that reinventing the wheel is not a great plan! After I go to a source for answers, it is in my best interest to at least start out with the blueprint that has already worked and make small adjustments as I go.
Here are some of the many nagging questions that I used to carry around in my head:
Is there more to life than this?
When will things change for the better?
Isn't there an easier way?
Can dreams come true for a person like me?
Why am I walking around so angry?
Why am I so scared?
How come I am in turmoil with so many people?
How come I am never satisfied?
How come that idiot is rich and I'm not?
As will be the modus operandi with all of the lists that follow, it could go on for page after page and each of us would be asking different questions. The problem is that none of these questions are answered in common textbooks. The required information can be thoroughly researched only by finding those people who have answered these questions for themselves. In my first attempt, I did the next best common-sense thing: I went to the book store and started building my research library.
I love to share knowledge with people, so after I would read a great book, I would give it away in hopes that the recipient too could gain some insight from the material. The lesson that I learned from this behavior is twofold: if a book I buy is worth finishing, it is worth keeping as a research book; and second, we are able to receive a message only when we are ready, and when that time comes, we take action.
You see, it takes effort to get in your car, spend your money, and obtain a book that someone recommends, and this effort is the first step to gaining the knowledge held within those pages. My giving books away did very little for those I gave them to, for they had to put no effort into gaining the knowledge, which usually meant that it was simply a kind gesture to them and a trip back to the bookstore for me, plus more money from my wallet spent on the same book for the second and third time. So I have made it a rule to only suggest books, not give them away. I do make exceptions in extenuating circumstances, but they are rare.
My thirst for knowledge in answering all of the questions that I pondered had begun, and it continues to this very day. It is my intention to never quench the thirst for knowledge that is rooted deeply in my soul.
Your questions may be exactly the same as mine, or they may be totally different, and that is OK because between all the bookstores and the Internet, you will find the answers you seek once you decide to do the legwork.
I could go on and on about all of the books that I have read, but that would not be the most efficient use of either of our time. I will be referencing many of them as I continue to write; as I said before, this was all someone else's material before it was mine.
I encourage you to write your list of questions and become devoted to the effort required to read the books or have the conversations that will give you the education that few choose to attain. Go ahead. I dare you!
Chapter ThreeUnlearning Years of False Truths
Before you read the next sentence, please humor me and close your eyes, clear your head, and become open-minded.
What if at least 95 percent of what you have been taught all of your life is wrong?
I don't mean wrong in the sense that you will automatically think of. I use the word not in a judgmental sense but in the sense that it could all be wrong for you personally, wrong for this day and age, and wrong for this exact moment in your present circumstances.
This is something I had to face and deal with in order to begin growing into the person I wanted to be instead of the person I was told I was supposed to be.
This is an extremely hard pill to swallow for most of us, but once you really look at it from an objective point of view, you can tap into the truth. And as cliché as it may sound, it will set you free.
The thing about wrong is that it is such a relative term. During Prohibition, people could be sentenced to prison for doing what many of us do on a regular basis. What is legal in Amsterdam will get you thrown in jail in many other countries. What was legally justified by the Rules Of Engagement in combat, would get men put on death row in the peace time. The point is that wrong is a very relative and subjective term.
So what do I mean when I say that everything we have ever learned could be wrong? Very simply put, if I have not sought my own truth about a certain person, place, organization, institution, presidential candidate, country, ethnicity, period of history, who or what God is, and the like, then it is a fact that I am operating and relying on what others tell and teach me. I am seeing the world through their eyes. It is my experience that the bulk of our population lacks the wherewithal to seek individual truth. We want to be told how to feel, how to think, who to vote for, why things are bad, and who is to blame, and when we choose to behave like this, we place the burden of responsibility on "them" when, chances are, we don't know much about "them." By the way, this mind-set enables this class of person to easily and comfortably assume the victim role, which is rocket fuel for the terminal uniqueness I spoke of and suffered with.
I realized that the only way to live freely was to make sure that every ounce of my life was grounded in a belief or point of view that I had created or agreed with through my own research. Then and only then could I take responsibility for my present circumstances and, in doing so, effect positive change in my life.
Chapter FourThinking for Yourself
Parts of this concept were covered in the previous chapter, but its importance is so huge that I wanted to spend some more time explaining how deciding to live this way continues to improve my quality of life.
The next time you have the opportunity to spend some time with a toddler, please pay close attention to the actions they take and the manner in which they conduct their lives. You will quickly see several things:
They need only the basic necessities of life to be content.
They never ask permission before trying something new.
They are in a state of shock when someone gets between them and a new desire or adventure.
They laugh with such enthusiasm that they infect all in their presence with true joy.
As always, the list could continue, but the takeaway for me is very simple: children have minds of their own, and they think for themselves. So how, when, and where does this freedom begin to erode into rigid boundaries that are held together with the fears of our parents, teachers, or society? When do we put on the yoke of fear and chains of mediocrity?
It's simple: we put those things on when we are told to by certain people who are major influences in our lives. These people are nothing short of our "gods." Their intentions are always best—according to them and from their perspectives—but what if they are only passing on a set of chains that were placed on them many years ago by their gods, who were also doing the best they could during that time, under those conditions, and in accordance with their perspectives? What if the best that they could do for us was not enough, or not what we need right now?
We so readily assign others' perceptions or opinions to the many thoughts and decisions in our lives—especially the big ones—and we choose to think for ourselves on the "little things." This takes the burden of responsibility off of our backs and places it on the shoulders of those who seek to "help us" or manipulate us. If they turn out to be wrong, then we can blame them; if they turn out to be right, we can take credit for the success as long as they don't find out we are frauds. To many, this is a recipe for life that they believe to be the acceptable. I say it is the mire that keeps them from becoming the people they are capable of being.
Another one of fear's many faces that keeps us from thinking for ourselves is the state of being needy. When I feel I need someone or something in order to live, I am very likely to never speak my mind (think for myself) for fear of losing what I am certain that I need. This state of needing creates a vicious cycle of fear, guilt, anger, shame, and hopelessness, all for my desire to hold onto something that, I am sure, if lost would be devastating. For example: If I lost my job, my wife, or any other person place or thing, my life would suck. I can tell you that lived life this way for many years, and it is a recipe for turmoil and sickness, both mental and physical.
When I live my life believing that my world will end without any certain person place or thing, I am destined to live in a constant state of panic and fear. For me, this panic and fear led to physical sickness. I suffered for many years with Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS), chronic fatigue, fibromyalgia, sleep disorder and several other ailments due to this fear and panic. I had to learn to think for myself, and come to believe that although it would be great to have some of what I desired in life, I had to become willing to loose all of it, and in coming to grips with this reality I could then begin to think for myself, and in doing so, free myself from the bondage of false fears.
Desire anything you want in this world, but never be in need of it, for if you do, you will surely go without, and going without, you will live a lifetime of disappointment and resentment.
Chapter FiveStanding Tall All Alone
It is common for folks to say that they have high moral standards and that they will always make the right decisions in life. How many times have we all sworn that we would not listen to the masses and what they have to say about what we should think or how we should act?
How many times in my life have I wished that I had the courage to "do the right thing"? Thousands! How many times did I feel my gut churning as I made poor decisions based on what "they" said? Thousands!
Why is it that the old adage "Hard right over the easy wrong" was so true in my life?
Simply put, I was not comfortable standing tall all alone. Please notice that I inserted the word tall, not leaving just alone. The implications of the word tall are huge. This implies that we not only choose to go against the grain or do the right thing and make the hard choice but that we do this with confidence and zero regret. It is easy to do the right thing and then mope, talking about how boring it made things, how the world should reward us for our grand deeds, or how much fun everyone else is having.
Excerpted from "Your Life" by Scot D. Spooner Copyright © 2012 by Scot D. Spooner. Excerpted by permission of AuthorHouse. All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
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