The best five years? The next five years


A few years ago I was talking with someone close to me. He was lamenting the fact that he had spent what he saw as his “best five years” working for a guy who used him up and spit him out.

Without thinking I said, “Those weren’t your best five years. Your best five years are your next five years.” I’ve tried to remember that insightful moment since then.

Way too often we waste time thinking about what might have been. We wish we had done something different. Or we wish someone else had done something different.

The way it is is the way it is. We can’t change what happened or how we got here.

We can change how we approach the current situation, and that would make things better in the future. It will certainly make things better now.


Look for what you want

A few weeks ago, my wife and son were talking about license plates. For months my son has been playing a game of sorts, trying to find a license plate from every state in the union. He has a form with all the states on it. When we go on a trip, he gets it out, hoping to see a state that he hasn’t marked off the list.

Yahoo license?
Creative Commons License photo credit: codepo8

During the course of the conversation, my son mentioned to my wife that he had noticed a lot of license tags recently with an X, a Yor a Z on them. I didn’t think much about his observation until I was in a traffic jam on I-40 a day or two later.

While I was creeping along with hundreds of other cars, I started noticing license plates. You can guess what happened, right? Car after car had a tag with an X, a Y or a Z on it. At least half, and probably closer to three fourths had one of those letters.

Now, does that prove that half the cars on the road have a license plate with one of the last three letters of the alphabet on it? Of course not. Instead, what I think it shows it that you tend to more easily notice the things you’re looking for.

So, here’s a suggestion: start looking for the good in life. In every situation, try to find something positive. Focus on that, and you’ll find what you’re looking for.

Steve DeVane

Thoughts on thinking: Presenting the present

posted in: positive thoughts | 0

I’ve been thinking a lot lately about my thinking. Specifically, I’m trying to have more positive thoughts.

That’s why an ABC News feature on a German spiritual thinker caught my attention. Eckhart Tolle has sold millions of books and was the subject of a 10-part online series by Oprah Winfrey, according to the network.

Tolle teaches people how to “shut off the noise in their heads and be happy,” the article said.

In answer to a question from ABC’s Dan Harris, Tolle said it’s important to use our minds rather than letting our minds use us.

“Psychologists found that 98 or 99 percent of our thinking is repetitive. And also a lot of our thinking is very negative,” he said. “People tend to dwell more on negative things than on good things.”

Tolle said the mind becomes obsessed with the negative things, leading to judgments, guilt and anxiety.

Then Tolle said something that really got me thinking.

“Many people live habitually as if the present moment were either an obstacle that they need to overcome in order to get to the next moment, and imagine living your whole life like that, where always this moment is never quite right, not good enough because you need to get to the next one, that is continuous stress.”

It occurred to me that, while I don’t really think of the present moment as an obstacle, I often tend to either focus on the future or the past.

Don’t get me wrong. I think we ought to learn from our past and plan for our future, but fixating on either can get us off track.

So, I’ve decided to try to focus more on the here and now. I want to be present in the present.

Steve DeVane

What if … you took a positive view?

One of the coolest things I’ve learned recently is the art of turning a negative into a positive.

Sometimes this can be accomplished just by looking for the good in whatever situation you face. Often, however, you can turn a whole issue completely around just by changing the way you approach it.

One of the best examples of this I’ve seen I discovered through a blog by Joe Vitale. It’s called “What If Up.”

What If Up encourages you to turn “what if …” questions into an examination of positive possibilities. Often we ask such questions in a negative tone. Some dreaded circumstance usually follows the “what if.”

Instead, the What If Up movement promotes considering all the great things that might happen. It involves three steps: identify a challenge; notice how you’re mentally approaching it; then What If Up it.

What If Up even has its own online community called the What If Up Club with more than 160 members.

Next time you face a challenge, “what if up” it and turn it into a positive.

Steve DeVane