Have you ever had an experience that literally stops your life–causes you to step back–take a breath and do a complete evaluation/restructure of everything in your world? I’ve recently had one of these experiences. The kind that cause you to think about your mortality–look at your life–and adjust everything you might have been ok with putting up with prior.

Take employment for instance. I heard a quote the other day, “working without a purpose is stress—-working with a purpose is passion”. Profound isn’t it? When you stop and think about it, that makes sense. I’ve been happy in my career and then there have been times I have been miserable. When I had purpose and believed in what I was doing—-working with great people in getting to our goals—-it was passion. While working with less than miserable people whose only purpose was to bring toxicity and negativity to everyone—-it was stressful. When I left the stressful situations, did that mean I could not hold a job? Absolutely not. Did it define me as unsuccessful? Not at all. Success is defined by whomever is speaking about it. Very much like “normal”. I am the most “normal” person I know! Aren’t you?

Personal Lives can be even more complicated. With the invent of social media, everyone now have a cost effective way to brag about everything in their life. For some people, they just make up a form of their life in order to achieve envy. In years past, Adults set an example by not bragging. It was a classless sign of insecurity to brag about anything. Now, when you sign on to social media everything is out for everyone to see. Pictures from meals to pets to family and friends. Pictures of wonderful couples smiling–when you know they are cheating on each other. Pictures of parents with children seemingly happy –when you’ve heard the children speaking sadly about how they dislike the incompetences of their parents. Posts about trips and vacations –when you know the couple struggle to pay their bills. Phantom success stories published for what purpose? Personal lives are out for everyone to see. Or at least what people want everyone to think they see. It was once said a person could look at Facebook for a few minutes and become depressed about their life because of illusions created by people more miserable than the person looking. Is that the society we have become?

We continue in relationships with people who do not return our feelings–people who we are disposable to–those that can not give a genuine hug that warms the heart to let us know we are loved–people who blame us for everything anyone has done to them in their past– who will never truly commit their lives to us because they are afraid to be loved–yet we stay and fight for the “us” because we love someone with all of our heart –all while they fight to destroy it–while we dream of building a life together–they look for people to justify the reasons they concocted not to–we surround with positive –they surround with negative.

We keep hold of blood ties with family who are toxic–we listen to their manipulative “advice”–advice not given to help us but rather to destroy anything positive and happy in our lives–we justify it by telling ourselves we can not be manipulated all while we are just that–we push away positive people always there for us because of past idiocracies –all for what? To achieve stress?

Then one day—-mortality hits us like a cement truck falling out of the sky.

If we were to look at life as two categories–passion and stress– positive or negative–optimism or pessimism–judgmental or accepting– term it however you would like. Without clouding anything with blood ties–opinions of others –social media –or anything toxic. Put the people, actions and “stuff” which are positive in the passion category. Conversely, put everything toxic and negative whether you are related to them or not–into stress. Now eliminate or ostracize everything in the stress column. How different would your life look?

What if you migrated towards the positive in your life with no excuses? Took chances instead of succumbing to fear–stopped listening to the negative influences and looked at the positive. Isn’t it interesting what happens when we evaluate life this way?

In life we can ask ourselves — are we hypocrites? Or do our actions match the words we speak.

Recently, I was listening to someone complaining of aging and wishing they were younger again. I felt pity for them. Aging is a privilege — not a punishment. There are many people who do not get the privilege of seeing many different ages. Your best age is where you are right now. Make it impactful. Make it count for those who did not get the privilege! Embrace each year with excitement! Do not bury your nose in your work so as to hide from your heart–live life! No one ever thought on their death bed about how they could have made more money–or how they could have posted one more brag item on social media! Many have regretted following their heart–or hurting those that loved them–who were the most loyal to them.

When the truck of mortality fell out of the sky and threw me to the ground—-little did I realize my evaluation of life began. Colors became more vibrant–fragrances became sweeter–taste became bolder. I wanted to squeeze every ounce of life out of every minute. Tomorrow is not guaranteed–the realization of that gave me strength and fear at the same time. So much so, it was difficult to keep my feet on the ground. I suddenly wanted to be closer to those that love me and further away from those that did not.

My challenge to each of you is to diminish the toxic, negative things in your life. Embrace the positive–the passionate side of life. Life is so much brighter when passion supersedes stress!

Hold your head high and don’t let anyone or anything tear you down!

Remember the goal—-Passion over stress!