Inventory Your Social Contracts

We all have social contracts. Some of the terms of the contracts are discussed in a straightforward and deliberate manner, while other terms are assumed that agreement has been made with the other parties. Social contracts are the agreements that we make or believe that we make with others regarding how they will treat us and how we will treat them. Social contracts can be made in romantic relationships, friendships, family, work and in business deals. The more types of relationships that you share with the same party/ person, the more terms of expectation, thus greater likelihood of a breach of contract occurring and risking the overall agreement/ or contract.
What am I talking about? For example, In a work scenario, you may have a formal contract with your manager for you to work 40 weeks and for your manager to give you a positive performance evaluation if you perform A, B, and C work duties. What is not written is that you expect your manager to look out for your best interest if a promotional job becomes open outside of your area unbeknownst to you. If you believe that you have performed exceedingly well and your manager does not go above and beyond to help your career grow, you might be offended even though that is not written in the formal contract. It might be your understanding that it was in the social contract. Another example is if a woman is dating a man for two years. They both have discussed marriage very seriously. The woman takes a job in distant city without consulting the man first. He may believe that they were in a social contract to discuss such important details whereas she may not because they did not formally agree to do so. In a friendship, you might perceive someone to be a "friend" and look out for your best interest in a certain manner because you have known someone for several years. Whereas, the other person may not have the same social contract with you to honor the same levels of friendship that you would do so and expect in return. The list goes on, but the bottom line is that we all have relationships that could stand to have expectations clarified. Please do take a peek at the video and consider what social contracts that you currently have in your life that may or may not be clarified.


Five Steps to Holistic Renewal

There comes a time, for most of us, many times, when we look at our lives and realize that something is just not right or something needs to be realigned.  We realize that something is missing or we are doing too much of something that is taking too much of our time.  Ultimately, we realize that whatever is wrong, whatever is misaligned, needs to be evaluated and corrected in order for us to fulfill our greatest achievements and efforts in life for today and the subsequent future.  

I want to talk about five steps to obtaining holistic renewal in our lives. There are many elements of our lives that when they are misaligned, they negatively interfere with the other aspects of our lives. The five elements that I want to discuss today include our mind the mental area, our spiritual area and relationship with God, our physical area including what we intake and what we exert also known as diet and exercise, and our social area also known as our relationship with others. If any of these areas are messed up or off- balance it will affect other areas.

Let's talk about the first step. Our mental makeup is considered by most to be the ultimate navigation for everything that we do. I do know that it is a large influence on everything that we do. It is important that the intentions that we have in our minds are aligned with the actions that we take and the decisions that we make. It is important that our energy focus remains consistent with the goals that we have decided in our mind. If we do not take the time, effort, and energy to place intentions in our minds and make decisions regarding those intentions we will be very confused and live very passive, disoriented, unorganized, and possibly dysfunctional and low achieving lives. So the first step in holistic renewal is to review our intentional life goals. If we cannot identify our intentional life goals then that means that we need to develop such intentional goals for our lives, which may include placing intention toward where we are already giving our energy and efforts.  Our intentions should be aligned with how we spend our time and give our energy.

The second step for holistic renewal is to conduct a spiritual inventory of ourselves. We can do this by asking ourselves certain questions and exploring our responses. How is our relationship with God currently? When was the last time that we spoke with him? When was the last time that we listened to God? How often do we speak to God? How often do we listen to God? When was the last that we took the effort to thank God and show our gratitude for what He has given us? Other important questions include: how authentic are we living our lives? Does the way we spend time align with what we claim to be the important priorities in our lives? Do we do what we say is important to do? Do we refrain from doing what we say is important for us not to do? Are we honest with others regarding what is important to us? Regarding what we do? Does our character, our regular habits reflect what we believe that they should reflect? Do we have the right balance in our lives? Are we placing the right value on people and things in our lives, in the right order?

The third step is to take an inventory of our physical intake. That is referring to our diet, what we normally eat. Many people have different rules regarding what they choose to eat on a regular basis. Some people eat whatever and whenever their heart and emotions desire. Some people do not eat meat. Some people do not eat certain types of meat, for example beef or pork. Whatever physical intake/ diet you choose should align with the goals that you choose for your life. For example, if you need eat 500 more calories than your body needs, your goal should be to have a heavier physical package. If you choose to eat 500 fewer calories a day than your body physical makeup needs, then your goal should be to have a physical makeup that is malnourished and lacking full strength and energy. There are health risks when under eating and/or overeating. When we make a decision to do either one, we are saying that we accept the health risks associated with our respective choices.

There are many types of food to eat, including meat protein, non- meat proteins, vegetables, fruit, starches, refined carbohydrates, fiber, milk products and other types of foods. It is important to be aware of how these different types of foods affect our body. There are general benefits and cons to eating any of these and definitely cons to eating too much. Every person's body is different. Therefore, some of our bodies are more sensitive to some of these foods than others. Some of us may even be allergic to some of these foods. It is important to observe and study how your body reacts to these different foods so that you know the best way for you to eat and how much of them. What balance of foods gives you the most energy? What balance of foods gives you the body makeup that is healthy for you?

The fourth step of holistic renewal is taking inventory of our physical exertion. How often do we exercise? Some people need to exercise three times a week. Some people need to exercise five times a week. Some people need to exercise for an hour a day. Some people need to exercise for 30 minutes a day. It is important to exercise and sweat. It helps to build physical strength, energy and endurance; it helps to clean out toxins from our bodies. It also helps us to maintain healthy emotional balance by increasing endorphins that give us positive energy and feelings.

The fifth step to holistic renewal is to review our relationships. What relationships do we currently have in our lives? What are our relationships at home, work environment, church, extended family, friends, and civic organizations? When we think of the people and organizations, with which we have relationships, how do they make us feel? Do they help us to achieve our intentional goals? How important are our relationships to us? Do we contribute and give our best in our relationships? Do we receive appropriately in those relationships? We should be able to rank the importance of our relationships among the individuals and organizations of our lives. When we look at our relationships, we should be able to identify how they can be improved. Is there something that we should do to contribute more? Should we request more from our relationships? We should make the best effort to make our high priority relationships the best.

In completing our five steps of holistic renewal, we must make sure our mental and spiritual goals are aligned. We should review all elements of our lives and make sure that they align with our mental and spiritual goals. We must ensure that our focus and intent is aligned with what we believe that we should be doing. This renewal process is not a once in a lifetime exercise. This renewal process should be reviewed with some regularity. It should definitely be reviewed when you know that your life is not achieving what you believe that it should be achieving. We must make a continuous effort to be in tune with ourselves.

Plan A v. Plan B

Many of us discuss obtaining a career instead of having just a job. Not just any career, but our dream career or calling, shall I say, is what we want.  This drive for living out a vision has become increasingly more prevalent in today society and those who live within it.

Maslow’s Hierarchy for decades has been a very nice theory, something nice to try in practice at best.  Aspirations to climb from survival to living one’s ultimate vision was not a focus of the common people, the masses.  Should we have expected it to be, given that it followed a time of intense poverty, the Great Depression and a period where people were being massively slaughtered for no reason?  To live was probably aspiration enough for many.  Unfortunately, our environment, society has a great influence and in that time, limitation on how we think, what we want, what we seek.

Today people actually want to climb up the Maslow hierarchy. Survival is not enough. More people are returning to an old practice of meditation, seeking what God has for their lives. The obvious earthly picture and day to day mandate is no longer enough.  

The only question for many of us is how do we do it? How do we go from survival (eating, sleeping, clothing and shelter) to self- actualization (realizing our purpose, creating, contributing to society, not only finding meaning, but making meaning in life)?  And how patient should we be in that journey from survival to self– actualization?  I cannot say definitively that the answer is the same for everyone. However, the optimistic side of me wants to believe that there is a formula, a formula to follow in order to get to where we want to be in life.

In popular New Age thinking, you will hear a snippet from the Bible or something like it that says: Write a vision and make it plain. Many choose to believe today, if we simply say what we want and focus on it wholeheartedly, it shall come to pass. I definitely believe that increased hope is power in itself.    However, I believe that my true peace and joy will only come from that thing or those things and experiences that are authored by God. God’s voice in it, I know is the required ingredient for any long term success and/ or peace for me.

Many will say that it is foolish to have a plan B when you already have a plan A. Will Smith has made such a statement. Steve Harvey has made such a statement. These are very “successful” individuals. Which makes me ponder in highly polarized directions, how valid is what they say?  On one hand, I want to strongly agree with what they say because they have been and are “successful.” On the other hand, it could be easy for them to say such things because they are financially successful. Does it make a difference if we are the only ones dependent on ourselves of if others are as well? When we have children looking at us with mouths to feed and educational costs to pay, a beautiful dream that encompasses a trip to Oz with no yellow brick road is much harder to sell and ditching plan B seems like nothing beyond fantasy.  Could the proper approach be not black and white, but gray? Can we have such comfort in ambiguity?  I believe that we must rejoice and celebrate whatever we have, whether it is a plan C, D, or B. However, if God has given us plan A, we must ALWAYS walk toward that plan and keep sight of it. As long as he tells us that it is real, we must never stop asking God for that yellow brick road. We must never stop looking for that yellow brick road. Even when it seems very far and the destination is not completely known it is important for us to start walking as soon as we see and / or discover the first slither of that yellow brick road. It may be an inch. It may be a mile. It may be a day. It may be a week. It may be a year. It may be several years. However, we should never give up on a dream that God has given us. If He has given it to us He will also provide the directions. We must be flexible in how we receive the directions. We cannot require God to give us all of the directions at once or in our timing. It may be on step of the directions at a time. He may give us one step in the direction and then not give us the other for a very long time. If there's any time in life to have patience, it is to have patience with God. He is the owner of all time. He can give more or he can take away. So as I write this, I inspire myself to keep moving to plan A as I celebrate my plan B. I hope that you are inspired to keep or start moving to plan A while you celebrate your plan B. Bless you and your endeavors.