Throughout my short lifetime, I have had the opportunity to go through a few profound events that if I had to bet on it, I would say they would stay engrained into my memory forever. The interesting thing is, often when we describe the biggest events in our lives that taught us the most, they typically are represented by our largest failures. The times when everything hit the fan, all at once, and we look back at these times in our present moment and see the lessons that were learned. I have been piecing my book together, and as I sat down to write the chapter introduction to one of these great events, I was overwhelmed with a flurry of emotions. I was taken back to a time of great uncertainty, of longing, and a feeling of ultimate numbness. This was not an easy time for me, and I have more than once described the feeling experienced when things came crashing down as something snapping inside of me. Almost like a rubber band. Being stretched so thin…being taken to your own limits…having pure faith guide you because you believe with everything in your heart that things are going to be okay, and then…snap. Things were not okay.

There are some emotions within us that we neglect to accept because we believe that they are bad or wrong. We all do this actually, whether it is fear, hate, sadness, the list really goes on. And I think what ends up happening is that we all bottle these emotions up and keep them deep down where other people cannot see them. I am sure many of the men out there have heard that this is how we deal with our emotions…and keep them there until they explode. I would say that this is pretty accurate, but I think women are just as guilty of this, just in a different way. I understand completely that women talk about their problems and everything more than men, however, I still believe that there are things deep down within each of us that we will not divulge to anyone. Call it the right to privacy…call it fear…call it whatever you want. I truly do believe, at least for me, that it isn’t about attaching a name to it which describes it perfectly. I think that we don’t know what to do with these emotions. Are they healthy? Are they dangerous? Will they destroy people’s thoughts about me? I think these questions really have a lot to do with what we do with our emotions. I think the biggest challenge is really admitting to yourself that you are feeling this way or that way, and then taking that emotion for what it is.

We are all born with the capability to experience the flux of emotions and thoughts that come through our heads constantly throughout the day. We believe that these experiences are real and that is where we get into a lot of trouble. I know what it is like to be run by the emotional roller coaster that sometimes never ends. When you are on it, it seems like track continues to appear in front of you no matter how hard you try to get off. The problem occurs is when we try so hard to get better, or try to make ourselves happy. I wish it was that simple. I am sure a lot of people do. When we try these things, it just ends up making us worse. We feel…inauthentic. You are truly the happiest when you are living in the present moment. When you are sitting on top of a mountain, looking out across the valley, and just…breathing.

I have failed miserably at a lot of things in my life so far. Friendships, goals, relationships, promises, the list really goes on. But if there was one thing that has helped me the most throughout this process, and don’t get me wrong it is a process, is that it isn’t about the failure itself that is so important, it is about whether or not you learn from these mistakes. I can name off the top of my head 5 major life lessons I have learned through miserably failing at things. But from these things, I have built parts of me up that I didn’t have before. Patience, responsibility, hard work, the list continues to grow.  That is what this project is all about really. Failing, learning. Succeeding, learning. I think it is equally as important to be learning from other people’s successes and failures too. It cuts way down on your learning curve.

When you fail, sometimes you get a second chance. Sometimes you are lucky and have the chance to make things right. We have all had instances in our lives where we absolutely blew it with someone who we cared about. If you haven’t had this experience, then you are not human.  Can you make this better? Often of times yes. I would say that 10% of the time things are really so bad that you can’t mend things. By the way I am not talking about extreme acts etc…so don’t try to catch me on that. Everything takes a lot of sweat and often of times some tears too. But if you want it bad enough, if you want to make things right bad enough, then you will. But trust me, this is a path that takes a lot of time. And even if things seem ok…you are still going to have to do some work.

Do not break promises to yourself. When you break promises to yourself, you can’t hide from them. Not saying that you should hide from others when you have broken promises to them, but more often than not the accountability factor is not as strong with the other person than it is with yourself. You cannot escape your mind. You might be able to ignore it for a while, but all in all, you have to answer to the things that you have done in time. Personal judgement…I guess you could call it that.

As I sit here in this rocking chair staring out onto the lake, I come back to the title of this post. Everything matters. You will hear a lot that “nothing matters” because of the size of the universe etc blah blah blah. It came over me today thinking, that it is quite the opposite. Your energy, your thoughts, your abilities and your actions all matter. They make an impact on everyone around you, and very importantly, they make an impact on yourself. I have been going through some extensive soul-searching so to speak over the past few days and find that whatever transgressions, whatever failures, are really nothing to be shy about, but rather those opportunities to be recognized. There are no problems, there are only situations. I had a coach who used to always come out to the mound and say “okay so the situation is.” There was never an oh my god moment…just a situation. Our lives are full of these situations, none are set in stone. Everything can change…in fact, isn’t that the only constant there is in life? Change?

Look at your life, just as I am looking at mine right now sitting on this deck…and don’t ask yourself what you want to be…ask yourself who you want to be. I can tell you that I want to be a man of great discipline, of great principle and an inspiration to those around him. Create your path. The path that you have made…not someone else…you. When you create a plan for yourself, and stick to it, there is no better feeling in the world when you have accomplished what you set out to do. You can do nothing and be like everyone else…or you can accept that what you want will take every ounce of courage, discipline, and personal power that you might have. It may burn you down, it may feel like your crumbling, but that’s a good sign. That’s all the dead wood from your old life burning off. That’s all the rust shaking from your body. You are turning yourself into something…something great. It takes a while to get cold clay moving…but once you have it warm, you can mold yourself into anything you want.

Evan Sanders
The Better Man Project