January 30, 2012

Avoiding the Hamster’s Life

“Until you adjust your focus, your perspective and related outcomes will never change.” 

When younger, I used to get quite a kick out of the hamster in the cage—not that I had one.  One moment the hamster would be simply chilling around in his cage, taking the occasional drink from his water bottle.  And the next, he would be on his wheel with all levels of energy.  When the hamster would get going on that wheel, there was a lot of action and effort; that wheel would fly and the cage would even sometime buzz with the force.  Even though he wasn’t really going anywhere, it certainly looked like he was trying his best to believe he was.

Have you ever had that moment in your life where you simply felt like you were spinning your wheels? Have you ever had that feeling that you were putting in a huge effort only to find yourself in the same spot?  Life can feel a little like that of a hamster – stuck in your cage and no way to spin your way out.

The difference between the hamster’s cage and your cage is that the hamster’s cage is real.  Your cage is merely a box that you have created for yourself to move around in and feel safe.  While you think you are maneuvering outside your box, you are seemingly going nowhere because you haven’t left the box.  You simply jump on your treadmill and make believe you are going somewhere.  The problem is you haven’t really designed or embraced the notion of where “there” is.  As a result you are merely spinning in the cage trying to figure out how to safely get outside of it.

When I look at how far I have come in the last year, I am ecstatic.  I have not accomplished everything that I have started working toward; but, the changes I am experiencing have been incredible.  The mission started with the 100 Pedals commitment — the related bike rides and lessons, finding a way to be strong for Brandon when he is present and, even stronger for myself when he is not.  That focus, the lessons, the experiences, the sharing, and the inspiration I have received from that effort has truly transformed my life.  While I continue to move forward toward the life I desire for myself and living in full commitment to my passion, I can confidently and comfortably say I have left the cage.  All my frustrations, challenges, pains, disappointments, and issues have not gone away; but, they are manageable by the fact that I have moved my life, my focus, and my energies from outside the limitations of the box that I have lived in for so many years.

The challenge of moving outside the box is the clarifying commitment to focus on and change what I am doing, thinking, experiencing and feeling.  Because I had something – 100 Pedals – to zero in on and maintain focus, I was able to treat the same old, everyday challenges from a new, different and committed perspective.  Those things that would derail, hurt, or destroy me still do; however, I am able to focus on what was most important – my commitment to ride, celebrate and grow – and respond to those same old issues from the powerful perspective of a new mindset.

Responding to the recurring issues with a new mindset created a different way to experience and deal with them.  By removing myself from the cage I was able to remove my problems from the cage.  In the freedom and empowerment of new and unique space, my resolve and viewpoint were different.  Hence, the outcome was different and much more satisfying.

Life on a treadmill represents a lot of energy and very little progress.  The hamster works very hard to go nowhere.  Discover your passion and focus on your commitment to live there.  Then, get off your treadmill, get outside your cage or comfort zone and embrace the experience and opportunity associated with your newfound focus and energy.  You will be amazed at where your mind and your energy can take you.

About Dave Cooke

Dave Cooke is a dad on a mission. His mission is to help parents get control of their lives over the powerful, destructive influences of a child's addiction. As the father of a son in a ten year heroin battle, Dave knows all to well the challenges parents and families face. He also knows there is a way to find peace in the chaos. It is his mission to help parents discover their path to a healthier, balanced life even if a child's active addiction is still part of their daily journey.