By Joeel A. Rivera, M.Ed.
As I dealt with having one of the most challenging and transformational years of my life, due to a physical illness, I received a question from a family member that had not talked to me in a few weeks. They asked me, “are you 100% yet?” The question truly made me reflect, since I was not fully where I wanted to be.
It made me ask myself, “would I ever be 100%?”
The reality is that I am not the same person that I was before the experience, and I will never be that person. We all will face situations in our life that will shake our foundation and shift our life. This can be the death of a loved one, a divorce, a financial crisis, or a health issue. When we have those things happen we are changed, whether we want it or not; however, it is up to us to choose what meaning we will get from the experience.
Everyone loves a feel good story of someone overcoming, but what most people don’t think about is that overcoming is a choice—one that isn’t always easy to make when times are hard. It is up to us to stand up and say,
“I will not be broken. I will learn and grow from this experience.”
So what about 100%?
I realized that I will never be 100%, and this is a good thing, not a bad thing. This does not mean that I will constantly have challenges or suffering or that I am not in full gratitude, loving my journey, or at peace with my path. What is means is that I will always decide to keep growing and developing. I will have experiences in which I will feel fear as I step into the unknown. I will experience confusion as I question my belief systems and expose myself to other worldviews. In the midst of life’s perpetual dance of change, I will not lose the true me—I will continue to reveal it. When I am open to life’s unknowns, I will expand my ability feel compassion and love I will grow in gratitude for the growth I can experience. The question in itself seems simple enough, but it had a profound shift in my belief system. I realized I don’t ever want to be 100%—I don’t ever want to stop expanding.
It is the questions that you ask yourself that determine your life experience.
For example, in an interview, Elon Musk, one of my favorite entrepreneurs, was asked how he is able to create at a world-changing scale when others have tried and have failed. They asked, “how do you come up with the answers?” He responded by saying,
“The hardest part is coming up with the right questions; once you come up with the questions, the answers just seem to appear as if they were waiting for you.”
Here is a person that is changing the way we see energy, our ability to have electrical cars that are better than combustion engine vehicles, our ability to go to space at a fraction of the price, among other life-changing projects. In fact, he has taken on every major player in fields that people thought were untouchable, and yet he says what sets him apart is the questions that he asks himself.
What questions do you ask yourself?
For example, how do you start your morning? What do you expose yourself to, what do you tell yourself, and what questions do you ask? The first 30 minutes of waking up are critical in helping shape your new day and new life because it is when the unconscious mind is the most open to receiving suggestions. A great way to start your morning is to ask yourself questions that instruct your mind what you would like it to look for and notice throughout your day. You see, if you start your day thinking, “it’s Monday and I hate Mondays,” then your mind will go looking for things that you will dislike during the day, in order to prove you right. If, instead, you ask yourself , “I wonder what is possible today that I did not know was possible?” your mind will be on the lookout for new, exciting or inspiring possibilities to unfold.
Your mind is the garden and every day you have the opportunity to plant new seeds, take out the weeds, and/or water the plants you have.
Every morning when I get up I ask myself:
- In what way will I connect to my family today that will deepen our relationships?
- What experience will I have today that will show me a possibility that I did not see before?
- In what way will I create transformation in my life today?
- What will I feel most grateful for at the end of the day?
I wake myself up with these questions every day—and doing so has transformed my experience through my illness. Rather than seeing limitation, I see life and ask what is possible. What I have found in my life, and from the people that I have worked with, is that such a simple change can transform your experience of life because asking the right questions helps you stop focusing on what is not and instead focus on what can be.
If you can see what is possible in your minds eye, with time you will see it in your physical eyes.
Chose not to be 100%, but rather to continue to grow—to live a life that will excite you every day. Be gentle and patient with your growth, and have faith that your questions will lead you along the journey. You are a gift to this world. What are you going to do to share your gift?
Joeel A Rivera, M.Ed., is a visionary, entrepreneur, and motivational speaker. From an early age, Joeel faced adversity, including immigrating to the United States, failing his freshman year of college, losing his brother, and being in a nearly fatal car accident. These experiences inspired him to return to college, where he earned a Master’s Degree in Education and is currently completing his dissertation for his Ph.D. in Psychology, with an emphasis on happiness. Joeel opened a non-profit teen center in honor of his brother and developed curriculums for the Juvenile Justice System. In almost a decade, Joeel has reached over ten thousand people as an educator, entrepreneur, speaker, and consultant. Visit www.joeelandnatalie.com.