I’ll admit it. I am a flawed human being. But I’m trying my best. It feels like I always have. Of course, I’m guessing most people would SAY that. But until I had two sons that were diagnosed with autism, and I knew they really needed the “best” me I could be, I didn’t truly understand the effort I was capable of and to what depths I was willing to go, to give them what they deserved. And I could have never imagined that in doing so, I would find so much joy and growth (and a deeper kind of happiness) in this world. Let me explain:
In 2004 our family experienced a life-changing and life re-defining event. My wife and I were told our #3 son was autistic. It was hard, I was initially devastated. At the time, there seemed to be nothing worse that you could tell me than, “Your son has a mental disability.” Why him? It was unfair, it was… a lifetime (forever) diagnosis; and there seemed to be no cure. And it got worse once I started researching autism. My dreams for him were dying.
So I decided to do what all good Dad’s would do. I decided to “FIX” his autism.
I read everything and tried everything I could find but by the time we learned our #4 son was autistic (that’s right – 2 sons affected by autism) a few years later, I had become sure of a few things. First, I had come to realize that neither son needed to be fixed. Second, I needed to stop trying to fix them and it was more important that I help them thrive in their circumstance – and the only way to do that was to FIX MYSELF.
What my boys needed was for me to be at my best for THEM. I needed to know how to better manage myself so that I could be in an optimum state for THEM. I must be at my best to serve them properly. They deserved my best. I needed tools, techniques and training that would allow me and my family to THRIVE in my situation – no matter WHAT happened moving forward – so that I could give them what they deserved; the very best father I could be.
So, I started a journey of discovery. Little did I know how flawed I really was.
Making the Past an Asset
What I learned (real early) was that there were things in my past that were limiting me. There were events that had shaped my way of thinking – and created beliefs – that were preventing me from moving forward in a productive manner. There were dramatic and sometimes even traumatic events that had created thought processes and conditions that were limiting. These events were making it almost impossible for me to move forward in the most fruitful way. I… was holding ME… back from my potential – from becoming what THEY needed.
This required me to “get real” with myself and dig deep in to my psyche and first, face sometimes very unproductive, limiting memories and beliefs; and second, reshape how I saw them and thought about them so that I could use them as a “launching point” for a more productive life moving forward.
Thankfully, I had – at one point – heard someone say, “It’s not what happens to us, but our reaction to what happens to us that defines us.” I decided I must redefine my past. I couldn’t change what had happened but I could change what those events meant to me.
I tested many different tricks, techniques, principles and processes – some that worked for me and some that didn’t – and gave my efforts a name. I called it, “Making My Past an Asset.” As I learned to stop leaning on my past as an excuse and start making my past an asset, I freed myself from guilt, shame and blame and started to learn to take control of my emotions and use them in more productive and industrious ways. No longer did I say, “Well, that’s just the way I am” and let my past experiences rule me in a harmful way.
The better I got, the more I felt as if I had been “launched out of a cannon” and became open to a new, better, ME. I was freed from LIMITING, bad, past experiences and was now PROPELLED by those experiences.
THAT… “Making the Past an Asset” leads me towards more happiness.
Thrive IN Chaos
Next I had to learn how to manage myself in a way that was the most productive and effective – especially when things got tough. It’s real easy to TALK about what you’ll do when times get tough, but when the crap hits the fan, or you’re faced with serious trials, or you have to deal with “the hard stuff” it’s easy to fall back in to bad unproductive habits.
I searched out and found more tools and techniques and methods that “triggered” me in to more productive states. Even at times when it seemed the world was falling down around me, I became able to manage myself well and sometimes even properly value the experience WHILE it was happening. People noticed. My wife noticed, my typical kids noticed. AND, mostly for me, I noticed I was able to handle myself in a way that was most productive for my kids affected by autism.
The louder or more uncontrollable or more angry or – even abusive or physical – they became, the calmer, cooler and more collected I became. They didn’t need me to get angry, or physical, or embarrassed or upset when they were having meltdowns, they needed me to step up and handle them in the most fruitful way possible. At these times they needed a kind, patient, loving father to help them recover. I was becoming what they needed; the best I could be when they needed me the most.
No. The difficulties have not stopped. There are still really hard things and times in my life. But NOW, I am able to manage myself… and trials in a way that are the most useful for everyone. Including my family and especially my two sons affected by autism.
THAT… “Thriving In Chaos” leads me towards more happiness.
Creating a Compelling Future
Finally, I needed to be able to look forward to the future. I realized my sons’ diagnosis was possibly a lifetime diagnosis. There was no guarantee they would improve or be capable of anything. I knew that meant I may experience a lifetime of service to them and it may – at times – be difficult. I needed to know that there was something to look forward to. Again, I was able to research and learn principles, tools and techniques that gave me hope and a desire to look forward to their and my futures.
Whether they ever meet their full potential – or even if they regress, I needed to find a way to look forward to learning, and working and growing to make sure they have every opportunity to experience as much life as they can. I cannot be motivated by their progress; I must not even be motivated by their effort – or their lack of effort. I had to learn to be motivated because I love them, just the way they are.
As I was able to create a thought process that allowed me to look forward to the future with optimism and hope I became so much happier than I could have ever imagined.
That… “Creating a Compelling Future” leads me towards more happiness.
Now that I have internalized the “3 Secrets” I WANT so badly to show others how to “Thrive In Chaos” so they can experience the kind of happiness I and my family experience every day – yep, even on the hard days. For that reason, I have created the following curriculum:
The “Thrive In Chaos” Presentation is broken into the three distinct sections.
- Making Your Past an Asset
- Thrive In Chaos
- Creating a Compelling Future
First, others learn how anyone can “Make Their Past an Asset.” No matter what has happened to them – even the most traumatic of events… especially the most traumatic of events – have the capability to catapult lives forward. Others will learn how to reframe their past so that it becomes a source of motivation and fuel to improve their lives.
When it’s all done, others will KNOW that every event in their lives happened for a reason, and that reason can – and should – serve them and others.
Next, others learn how to “Thrive In Chaos.” The more difficult the situation becomes, the better equipped THEY become to handle difficulties – in real time. Can you imagine how powerful this can be? Not only will others understand how they can “trigger” themselves in to more productive states, but they’ll also – I know it sounds unbelievable – but they’ll also learn to enjoy and properly value difficult situations and better manage trials and tribulations AS THEY HAPPEN.
Finally, others will learn how to “Create a Compelling Future.” Anyone can deal with difficulties for one day, or one week, or maybe even one year. But when things SEEM never ending, even the strongest can become discouraged. In this section of the program others will learn how to look forward to their futures with hope and excitement. All of us need something to look forward to, and when you can look towards an exciting future, the present is always more fun.
When you can find the Joy and the Happiness in the seemingly most difficult things in life. How FREE are you?