Wednesday, November 30, 2016

Do You Have A "Glaring Story Problem"?

“Indiana Jones plays no role in the outcome of the story. If he weren’t in the film, it would turn out exactly the same… If he weren’t in the movie, the Nazis would still have found the Ark, taken it to the island, opened it up, and all died, just like they did.”

~Amy Farrah Fowler (Big Bang Theory)

I'm a big Indiana Jones fan, and I'm also a huge Big Bang Theory fan.  I think one of the funniest episodes is the one where Amy Farrah Fowler ruins Indiana Jones for Sheldon by pointing out what she described as "a glaring story problem."  Indiana Jones didn't really do anything in Raiders of the Lost Ark.  If Indiana Jones hadn't been in the movie at all, nothing would have changed--the movie would have ended exactly the same way.  It's a crushing realization to Sheldon and his friends.

Now a lot of Indiana Jones fans didn't find that humorous, but I did.  I've come to realize since, there's a lot of people like that in the real world. Sometimes you have to take a step back and really look at what you're doing.  Are you actually contributing anything, or are you just busy all the time?  Are the things you're doing having the desired outcome, or in the end are you just wasting your time and energy needlessly and never getting any closer to your goal?  Like Indiana Jones, we often spend an awful lot of time reacting without thinking.  We go through life chasing after the things we want without a clear plan, and as a result we wind up spending all of our time reacting to the obstacles we find in our way.  And like Indiana Jones, if we do manage to catch up to our goal eventually, we find out it wasn't what we thought it was going to be at all, and that big pay-off we thought we were going to get in the end remains just out of reach.

There's probably no better habit you can get into than making a list of goals, then creating a plan to achieve them, and sitting down periodically to review how it's going and make modifications to the plan as needed.  That's something I've usually been very consistent about, but as this year comes to a close, I realize I've had one of my least productive years in a decade.  There was no book this year.  I did some writing, but nothing memorable or groundbreaking.  I realized I was Indiana Jones.  I spent an exhausting and busy year chasing around in a dozen different directions and accomplished very little in the end.  Because there was no plan, I spent a year reacting instead of acting.

So it's back to the drawing board for me.  So remember.  It's difficult to find a destination without a map, and it's impossible to reach a goal without a plan.

~Todd E. Creason

Monday, November 21, 2016

Remembering What's Important This Thanksgiving

I've been working on my book about happiness.  I keep coming back to two things that are so key to happiness--in fact, true happiness isn't possible without an abundance of both. 

The first is gratitude.  That's really what this Thursday is about--Thanksgiving is about being grateful for what we've been given.  We spend an inordinate amount around this time of years focused on what we want (if you don't believe me, go shopping this Black Friday), and we often overlook just how much we already have. 

Every time you receive something, take a moment to be thankful for it, whether it's a free cup of coffee at the donut shop, or the fact, you got all the way to work without hitting a single red light (like I did this morning).  When you begin to appreciate what you have, you begin to realize just how abundant your life really is already.  And when you're grateful and content with what you've been given, you've taken a huge step towards being happy in life.

The second key to happiness is being able to forgive--to let things go.  I've written on this topic many, many times because it is so key to being happy.  We just got through a contentious election cycle--people said harsh things, people got unfollowed and unfriended on social media.  Even after the election, many people are still angry over it and looking for an argument.  The holidays as a result are likely to contentious at times between those who voted one way versus those that voted another. 

Let it go.  Move on.  Life is short, and it's too short to carry the weight of that grudge around with you everywhere you go.  And as I've said before, forgiveness doesn't require reciprocation, and it doesn't require an apology.  You simply be the bigger person and you forgive what was said and done.  It doesn't matter whether they forgive you or not.  It's very simple.  You just say to yourself, "I'm not going to be upset about what this person has done anymore.  I'm forgiving him/her."  You're not just doing it for them, you're doing it for yourself as well.  You're liberating yourself from angry feelings.

When you learn how to let go of that emotional baggage, you'll free yourself from a lot of upset.  You'll be free from the past.  You won't have to keep reliving every wrong thing anybody has ever done to you over and over again.  And you'll be a much happier person as a result because this is the way God wants us to live--to forgive each other and to love one another. 

Thanksgiving is a time to be grateful.  It's also a time we all come together in one place, so it may prove to be an excellent time to mend a few broken fences.

Happy Thanksgiving!

~Todd E. Creason

Tuesday, November 8, 2016

The 2016 Election Demonstrates The Decline Of The American Intellect

"If everyone is thinking alike, then somebody isn't thinking."

~George S. Patton

It doesn't matter what side of the political aisle you're on, you have to be sad on this election day.  We have two bad candidates and it's our own fault.  We've made running for office in our country such an ordeal that no decent person would want to do it.  So we get what we get.  We wind up voting for somebody we don't like because the other candidate we like even less.  We settle, and the country suffers.

The other stunning thing about this information age we're living in is just how much of that information we consume is completely wrong.  In an age when we can look up any fact and verify any claim often with video tape . . . we don't bother.  We've become lazy and complacent when it comes to what we call facts.  We believe everything the media tells us if it supports our views.  We repeat political talking points we've been fed without bothering to check if they're accurate.  We don't do our own research.  As Henry Ford once said, "Thinking is the hardest work there is, which is probably why so few engage in it."

So no matter who wins the election today, it will be difficult for those who supported the winner to honestly celebrate a victory.  The winner of the 2016 election, no matter who that is, is far beneath what the American people deserve, and what we desperately need in a leader.  And as the polls show, we all know that.  It's sad we've gotten to this point, but we have nobody to blame but ourselves.

~Todd E. Creason

Tuesday, October 25, 2016

For The Love Of The Chicago Cubs

I'll be taking a short break until the conclusion of the 2016 World Series.  In the meantime . . . please enjoy this video!

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