Tiny little bright green buds are peeking their heads out on the bare branches of the giant trees around me, trying to find out if it’s safe to come out for an early spring — mild temperatures are signaling the beginning of spring here in Texas. The old screen door makes a creaky sound amplified by rusty springs, the door slams behind me, and I’m finally back on the long porch that goes the distance of this old Texas farmhouse. Sadly, my neighbor moved and took his cattle, but the view is pretty terrific just the same. 

Spring in the Air

Growing up in the Midwest with cold, snowy winters, spring was always a welcome sight. Spring fever would have us out without coats on a sunny day, even though it was still 30 degrees. We simply could not wait for the arrival of spring. And, like the feeling of a first love, spring is about seeing things through fresh eyes and having something new to look forward to. And about the time we get used to it, we’re looking forward to summer, then fall, and even winter. We’re a fickle bunch, we humans.

When we lived in Florida, we could still get a sense of the seasons because some months were hotter or cooler or rainier, but for the most part we missed the seasons, and would often try to visit other places where we could experience them more deeply.

Seasons of Life

I’m amazed at the perfection of life as it compares to seasons, though we really never know if we’re going to be one of the trees that turns red early or one that stays more colorful while the other trees are bare. Each season is a blessing, and, like the seasons of nature, we need to look forward to and embrace each season of our lives, because each brings new experiences worth embracing. And just like the mud in spring thaw or early swarms of summer mosquitoes, there are parts of a season that may not be to our liking, but challenges always come with the good.

I once met a doctor at a cocktail party who specializes in severe, life-altering diseases. I’ve never forgotten what he told me. “The minute I tell a patient of their cancer, I can pretty much tell if they have a chance of survival by how they react. Though no one ever welcomes the news, if they are challenged and tell themselves they intend to beat it, they have a chance. But the ones who absorb it and look at it as if life is over — they rarely survive.” He told me people who changed their attitude after a few days of processing the bad news usually made it through.

How Do YOU See You?

From time to time someone will ask me for advice about life or business or success, and I always start the discussion with the critical importance of what we place in our minds. Science even supports it. How we see ourselves impacts how our life turns out. If we blame others, if things are always someone else’s fault, things never seem to go as well. If, however, we accept responsibility for how things go, and we align our attitude to our desires, they’ll go much better.

How you see yourself matters most. Experts tell me you need to actually see yourself in the exact role you want to be in. Instead of “I’m gonna” it should be “I am.” After a lifetime of daydreaming, the things I dreamed came true. The things I was a little unsure about did not.

Labels and Boxes

Our society hands us labels and boxes. Earlier today I read a story where the headline said “Elderly Woman” …  and when I read the story, the woman was 50. Clearly the story was written by someone very young. I for one look back on 50 and remember how young I was. And I don’t look at myself as old. In fact, I scold friends who use those terms because I believe they trigger something in your head to make your life start to wind down.

My dad, who turned 94 on Inauguration Day, sometimes scolds me for mentioning his age because to him, age is not relevant. I can remember that when he turned 70, I thought he was old, and silly for starting a new business when everyone else was retired. But alas, when I called him for his birthday, he was talking about yet another business he was going to work on for the next 20-plus years. And, mark my words, he will do it. By the way, he started something new about 10 years ago, works 15-hour days, and it’s thriving. 

Good Genes?

You may say he is lucky to have good genes, but I guess that doesn’t explain other family members with the same or similar genes who checked out early. Maybe luck plays a role, but I suspect it’s the brain that makes that luck happen. A friend told us at 55 that he was preparing for death and winding down because he was getting old. My prediction that he would be dead in five years came true. 

I’ve mentioned this before, but my acquaintance John Kluge, who was at one time the richest man in the world, told me he did not really start making his success till he was over 70. “My friends all gave up and retired. I kept pitching and became a billionaire.”

A Year to Live

Clearly there are circumstances beyond our control. There can be bad luck, but how you play the cards you are dealt matters. My friend Glen tells me his wife was given a year to live and he was determined to help her beat that, so he quit his job, became a student of healing, and she is alive and healthy 16 years later. He refused to accept the status quo. He refused to accept what they were told. He sought and found alternatives.

You can be young and in spring and tell yourself you’re too old to do something, or you can be in winter and tell yourself you’ve got decades left. And, if you manage your thinking, accentuate the positives and eliminate the negatives, you can make it happen.

Remember, whatever you think … you’re right.

Where is your head?

What lies are you buying that don’t have to be true?

What are you telling yourself is about to happen?

What are you telling yourself that will happen?

If we were taught how to push out the negatives, focus on the positives, and see ourselves in the places we want to be, our world would be a different place.

You and I can’t change the minds of others, we can only change our own minds. And perhaps, when others see what’s possible, they too will change. 

It starts with you.

Eric Rhoads

PS: Next week is a big one! We are conducting the world’s largest art conference, called Watercolor Live. Join us, it’s a lot of fun. We have over 38 countries attending and at this point almost 1,700 people. We even have a Beginner’s Day. Check it out at WatercolorLive.com. (Price increase is tonight at midnight. You can save $300.)