I recently read “Unbroken” by Laura Hillenbrand. I couldn’t put it down. It tells the true-life story of Louis “Louie” Zamperini, a former Olympic track star who survived a plane crash in the Pacific theatre, spent 47 days drifting on a raft, and then survived more than two and a half years as a prisoner of war in three brutal Japanese prisoner-of-war camps. The story is pretty harrowing, yet through all the torture and torment Louie remained “unbroken”. His positivity, resilience, and fortitude to survive were nothing short of inspiring. And it got me thinking…
“What will it take for me to remain unbroken in 2017?”
Because one thing we know – the waves and the storms and the challenges are coming. While a new year brings a fresh start and a new hope, the unfortunate reality is that in 2017 politicians will continue to lie, wars will continue to wage, economies will continue to rise and fall, and #fees may or may not fall! And if we are going to allow ourselves to be cast up and down – like Zamperini’s little life raft on the Pacific Ocean – by the waves of external circumstances, then we are in for a rough ride. Yet if we, like Louie, can rise above these challenges and remain steadfast, hopeful – then we will begin to touch greatness. Because great people do great things not in easy times, but in tough times.
So here are three ideas I gleaned from Louie’s story that can inspire us to live well in 2017, whatever comes our way:
1. Be Present
The ancient prophet Isaiah says, “Do not dwell on the past”, and the Rabbi Jesus encourages us not to “worry about tomorrow, because each day has enough trouble of it’s own”. Which is interesting… because if we shouldn’t dwell on the past and we shouldn’t worry about the future, what does that leave us with?
The reality is today is all we really have. And the best gift we can give to tomorrow is to give all we have to today. So be present. Be present in your business meeting. Be present with your kids when you get home. Be present with your spouse.
Put your cell phone down and engage with the people who are sitting in front of you. The science is clear; people who spend more time on Facebook suffer higher rates of depression than people who spend less time on Facebook. Nothing wrong with social media, but too much screen time is definitely a problem. If you’re at dinner with friends, and you’re texting someone who isn’t there – that’s a problem. If you wake up and check your phone before you say good morning to the person lying next to you – that’s a problem. Make no mistake this can be an addiction. And like all addictions, it’s robbing us. It’s robbing us of those little serendipitous moments of connection and awareness that, in the end, are the very things that make relationships great. So be present.
2. Be patient
We live in a world of instant gratification. Want something? Buy it online. Immediately. Want to watch a movie or a series? Well then what are you waiting for? Hey, you can even binge watch the whole series now! Want to go on a date? – just swipe right. As Simon Sinek says, “Everything we want we can have instantaneously, except strength of relationships, fulfilment, joy and job satisfaction. Because these things are slow meandering, uncomfortable, messy processes.”
So be patient in 2017. The things that really matter most, like love, trust, joy, self-confidence, a healthy marriage, and a great career – all take time.
3. Be powerful
“There is nothing enlightened about shrinking so that other people won’t feel insecure around you. We are all meant to shine, as children do. We were born to make manifest the glory of God that is within us. It’s not just in some of us; it’s in everyone. And as we let our own light shine, we unconsciously give other people permission to do the same. As we are liberated from our own fear, our presence automatically liberates others.” – Marianne Williamson
Don’t sell yourself, or God, short. There is a power within you you have yet to fully realise. A divine light that wants to shine in the darkness. So let it shine!
For my full Sunday sermon on the subject, watch the video below…