Evade the Vice Squad – 7 Tactical Maneuvers

The police use a vice squad to enforce laws concerning gambling, pornography, prostitution, and the illegal use of liquor and narcotics.  Thankfully there is no such legal enforcement of vice in the broader sense of the word.  The dictionary definition of vice is, “a moral fault or failing.”  Ouch, guilty as charged Your Honor.  The antonym of vice is virtue.  Can we get some leniency by displaying a little virtue – like maybe a lifetime of double secret probation?

More to come on this but first I’m curious, what was your saintball score last week?  No, I don’t expect you to tell me.  Mine was 77, a lousy “C” again.  47/50 points on the valuable use of time measure, but only 30/50 on behavior.  Of course I am playing the more advanced and slightly more objective version of the game, so that’s my excuse.  Rather than very subjectively tracking good and bad behavior, I am tracking my conduct in terms of vice and virtue (the V’s).

I use the seven deadly sins to represent the vices since they are widely recognized.  They each have a contrary virtue as well.  I like to list them in a good versus evil style since they are all constantly doing battle within each of us.

  1. Humility vs Pride
  2. Charity vs Greed
  3. Kindness vs Envy
  4. Patience vs Wrath
  5. Chastity vs Lust
  6. Temperance vs Gluttony
  7. Diligence vs Sloth

I track these daily.  You can too with the Flying V Tracker.  Yeah there’s a story behind that name for another time.  The worksheet contains brief definitions of each V.  Score one point for each time you think, say or do something that was caused by one of the V’s.  I usually start with noticing the good and bad behavior and then think about which V caused it.

When I first started tracking, my goal was simply to avoid the vices.  A defensive strategy designed to keep the vice squad off my trail.  While I had some victories, it became obvious that only through actively utilizing the virtues would I ever consistently win.  That is, score more virtue than vice points daily.  So I went on offense.  It works.  Focusing on virtue gives vice little time to rear its ugly head.  But it is also very easy to slip back into vice behaviors which seem to be the much easier route to take.

So there you have it, your plan to evade the vice squad.  Use the 7 virtues to defeat the 7 vices every time.  To make this fun I envision a battle of angels and demons taking place within me every day.  Yeah that may seem weird, but try it.  Give them names if you want.  Anything to keep yourself interested and engaged in fighting the good fight.

Try using the tracker for a week.  You will be amazed by what you learn about yourself, both the good and the room for improvement.  I’m rooting for your angels!  A song line just popped into my head; “But I can hear a heavenly band full of angels and they’re coming to set me free.”  Can you name the song and artist?  I’ll tell you next time.

By the way, I’m on the lookout for saintly behavior and images.  When I see it I’m going to use Instagram and Twitter to share with a hashtag of #besaintspirational.  I encourage you to do the same with your own accounts.  It would be nice to build a portfolio of saint inspiring photos and examples to help us all on our journey.

Be Saintspirational, Scott

 

 

 

 

Saintball Survival Strategies

The original working title was, “Winning Saintball Strategies.” However, upon further review my own personal results do not justify claiming any such expertise.  But I am surviving, battling off demons every day.  Not the nasty scary ones, just the one in the mirror.  But I do have nine months of experience, so I feel like a parent of the game.  How about I just tell you what I’ve learned.

I hope you have taken on the challenge of playing saintball this week.  If not, you are forbidden from reading this!  Well, nothing bad will happen to you.  But you may miss out on some valuable learning that happens when you begin playing with very little instruction.

I’ll start by revealing my score and learning from the first week I played.  It all began on December 5, 2016.  It was a rather blustery day, Pooh…oh bother and never mind.  I had developed the game, done some testing to validate the scoring system and was excited to give it a whirl in the real world.  Let the games begin.

I set my goal for valuable hours at 13 per day, 80 percent of my waking hours.  Seemed challenging yet achievable.  I set my phone alarm to ring every hour.  I stopped what I was doing briefly each time it alarmed and recorded the hour as valuable or wasted, and tallied my good and bad behavior points.  I kept track on a notecard.  Here’s how it went.

I had one of the most productive and well behaved Monday mornings I’ve ever had.  I did not have a case of the Mondays.  Why?  I was paying attention to how I spent my time, how I was behaving and was determined to score well.  I was just starting to write the sAint Me?! book and spend most of the day doing so.  There really isn’t much opportunity to score many behavior points, good or otherwise when you are not interacting with anyone.

Day one complete.  Earned 72 of 100 saint points and a grade of “C.”  Very disappointing initially, but upon reflection I knew it was a better score than what I would have earned in most past days, and no one said it was going to be easy to become a saint.  Plus, it was the highest score ever recorded by anyone…someone call the Guinness Book of World Records!  See my scorecard if you must. Scott’s First Saintball Score

I won’t bore you with the details of the rest of that week.  Let’s just say that my enthusiasm waned as the week went on, and my results reflected that fact.  Final score, 60 points and an “E for effort” average for the week.  Sure glad to have made up that E letter grade or it would have been an “F” for fire.  I told one of my many friends named Jim about the scoring system and he said, “I assume the F stands for Fire?” and it has even since,  thanks Jimbo!

So here were my early observations and learning’s that may benefit you as well:

  • You waste more time than you think you do;
  • The lower you set your goal for valuable hours, the higher you will score. It is probably best to start with a goal that is a small stretch if you want to feel better about yourself in the beginning.  You can increase the goal over time.  Better to aim low in the beginning than to give up.  You will probably still be more productive than you had been.
  • Having your alarm go off every hour is really annoying. I had stopped by Wednesday.  I just did my tracking whenever I thought about it.  Then I realized that I was much more aware of my actions and accurate with scoring when I did the hourly thing.  I went back to it and changed the alarm to be something that made me smile when it went off.
  • It is difficult, maybe impossible to score big positive behavior points without planning to do good deeds. And you must interact with other people, after all, others are who you do good deeds for.  Start by simply smiling and greeting everyone.
  • Being around other people also has the potential to drastically escalate your negative behavior points. I have no advice for this…well how about, be patient?!
  • The terms “valuable use of time” and “good-bad behavior” are very subjective. Yes they are!  We’ll solve that next week.

So what’s next?  Finish your week of tracking.  Compute your score and grade for the week.  Ask yourself three questions about your results:

  1. What are you happy about? I bet you were an even more productive and better person than usual.  Feel good about that…celebrate!
  2. What are your opportunities for improvement? Don’t beat yourself up too badly, list a couple and move on.
  3. What will you do differently next week? Review your improvement opportunities, choose one to focus on and set a goal.  Write it down.  “I, Scott Froyen will only watch one hour of television per day next week.”  Especially since the U.S. Open tennis tournament starts the following week and the TV will be on all day long.   Hey, it only happens once a year:-)

Next week is do the right things in the right way week.  Let’s get specific.  Thank you for reading.  Be a saintspiration to everyone you encounter over the weekend and enjoy!

The Formula to Solve All Problems

RT x RW x G = S.  Do the Right Things (use your time wisely and productively to carry out your unique mission for the benefit of others), in the Right Way (live virtuously) and through God’s Grace become a Saint (and live eternally in heaven as an added bonus).  This is the Saint Builder Formula.

Simple, all problems solved.  The perfect world.  Heaven on earth.  Take a moment to think about what your daily life would look like if everyone was determined to be their best self, to serve others and to behave virtuously at all times.  Can you even image?  Nope!  Let the doubt and debate begin…

Some will argue that the G is all that is needed.  Others that the G doesn’t exist but that the S, defined as becoming your best self is still a worthy goal for this life.  Either or neither may be true.  The fact is, none of us knows for sure.  I do think we have common agreement that we should all strive to use our time and talent to make the world a better place.  Let’s focus on that.

Most of us are in a continual search for our purpose in life.  We may not think about it that way, but consider the questions you ask yourself frequently.  The basics like, “why am I doing what I’m doing, am I making a difference, should I be doing something else, is it Friday yet, did I close the garage door?”  You get the picture.  Or maybe you just find many ways to distract yourself from asking those questions and potentially facing an unpleasant reality.  So you just, what’s the latest saying, keep calm and carry on?  Yeah, it’s all good.

We all know that our purpose is not to simply exist, to survive.  It just can’t be.  We all have an internal drive to achieve.  We want to thrive.  We instinctively know that we have a purpose.  Without purpose what does any of it matter?  We all want to matter, right?!

Recall from the last blog post that striving to be a saint (or your best self) requires at least three steps; (1) knowing your unique mission in life, (2) using the majority of your time working to fulfill that mission and (3) living virtuously.  Are you playing saintball?  It will help you understand how you are doing on steps 2 and 3.  Of course step 2 truly requires that you know your mission, so we better discover what that is.  Mission is what makes us matter.

If you already know your mission, congratulations!  For the rest of you let’s do a quick mission discovery exercise.  Let’s look for your mission at the intersection of your natural talents and your interests.  Things you are good at and things you enjoy doing. Get is piece of paper.  Draw a line vertically down the middle.  Label the left side “Talents/Strengths” and the right side “Interests.”  Two-minute drill time, one minute on each side, no timeouts.  Use your stream of consciousness, no need to think about it much.  Write everything that comes to you.  No judgement, just write.  Go!

Now look for matches between your talents and interests.  Among other things I listed planning, organizing, setting and achieving goals, and problem solving as talents.  Relevant interests included coaching and writing.  The intersection became helping people develop and carry out plans to strive to become their best selves.

Here is my suggestion for you.  Do the above exercise.  If your mission becomes clear, great.  If not, don’t worry about it.  You will have random thoughts about this throughout the week.  Write them down immediately and review them over the weekend.  Eventually your mission will magically appear.  The subconscious mind, and/or the Holy Spirit are amazing at providing direction when you are ready to receive and act upon it.  Be patient.  The sAint Me?! book contains more ways to discover your mission if patience runs low…but you lose saint points…patience is a virtue you know.

In the meantime, just keep doing what you are doing with a goal of continuous improvement.  I once heard it said that it is easier to act your way into a new way of thinking, than think your way into a new way of acting.  So act.  Act naturally.  Use your natural talents to do things you enjoy.  Productive things that benefit others.  Use your time wisely and productively.  Live virtuously.  Play saintball to track your results and progress.  Live yourself into your true mission over time.

One last thing, I’m guessing that many of you already know what your mission is, but something is stopping you from pursuing it.  Probably fear.  Fear of how you will make a living.  Of what others will think.  Of your ability to do it well.  Of how you can successfully transition to it from what you are doing now.  Of what it will take to succeed.  Fear not!  Have faith that it will work out.  It will.  Believe you can do it.  You can.  We all can.  It’s just a choice.

Let’s all choose to strive to become the saints we are meant to be.  Let’s solve all the world’s problems, one person at a time, starting with ourselves.  Live the formula, RT x RW x G = S.  Keep asking yourself, will I be a saint or an ain’t?  Godspeed!

Be Saintspirational – 3 Simple Steps

What is this made-up word, saintspirational?  Bet you figured out it is the combination of the words, saint and inspirational.  It refers to someone who is striving for sainthood in a way that is inspiring to others.  So what does it take to be one of those people?  Here’s what I think.

First a note of clarification.  I do not capitalize the word “saint” unless referring to an officially canonized Saint.  My purpose is to help us all in striving to become little “s” saints, the everyday variety.  If by some miracle (you need at least one, usually two) you achieve big “S” Saint status that’s just an added bonus.

Based on what I’ve learned and believe, striving to be a saint requires at least three things; (1) knowing your unique mission in life, (2) using the majority of your time working to fulfill that mission and (3) living virtuously.  3 simple steps.  I didn’t say easy.  Each has a high degree of difficulty, but are all worthy of our attention and sustained effort.  Hard to disagree, but easy to ignore.  I hope you don’t.

Where’s the inspirational part come in?  Have you ever been around someone who is already living the 3-step plan?  Are they not inspirational to you?  They are always happy.  They are always doing something important.  They have seemingly unlimited energy.  They make you want to be a better person.  You want to hang around them.  You want to be like them.

How are you doing in your journey toward becoming the saint you are meant to be?  Are you living the 3 steps?  How do you know?  Want to find out?  This part will be both simple and easy.  Especially if you like to play games.

For the moment, let’s downplay the first step, knowing your mission.  It may be the most difficult step in life so I’ll address it in a future post.  For now let’s assume that whatever you are currently doing to be a productive member of society is your mission.  That might be school, work, raising a family or any combination thereof.  Whatever you spend the bulk of your time doing.

With that in mind let’s find out how saintly you are currently.  The game is saintball  It rhymes with paintball on purpose.  We will be in a constant battle with demons to stay on the path toward sainthood, mainly our own, so the name seems appropriate.

To play you will need a scorecard and the rules.  You can get both here.  Start with the beginner version.  I recommend you look at this over the weekend and start the game on Monday.  Play for a week.  You will be amazed how quickly you become saintlier.  You may also be amazed at all the un-saintly things you do currently.  Or maybe that is just me.

The scoring system gives you saint points and a letter grade every day.  If you are accustom to earning straight “A’s,” prepare yourself.  Striving to become a saint is no easy pursuit, and neither is the grading system.  I find this game to be a great daily reality check.  It provides you a keen awareness of your current behavior.  This awareness will drive rapid improvement, of course assuming you need any.

I do hope you will give saintball a try.  The tracking may be a little annoying in the beginning, but the immediate benefit will be worth the small effort.  Trust me on that.  Why would I lie, I’d lose three saint points and I need all the points I can get.

Next week I’ll give you some tips and lessons learned from the 9 months I’ve been playing.  I will confess to only averaging a “C” so far.  I have steadily improved and set a goal to average a “B” over the balance of this year.  I am counting on your help to  provide ideas for scoring well and staying the course.  I think we can all accelerate our personal improvement by learning from each other.

I will leave you this week with one recommendation.  Eliminate the negatives in your life as quickly as possible.  I’m talking about those things that make you unhappy.  It may be a situation, person, people, social media, TV shows, the news, whatever.  You may not be able to remove them all, but do the best you can.  Start with something relatively easy.

Here’s what I did that helped significantly.  I gave up watching or reading any news.  I found it to be upsetting most of the time.  And I didn’t feel like I was learning anything of value to pursuing my mission anyway.  I turned it off for a month and seemingly missed nothing.  Bad stuff happened.  People blamed each other.  Nothing got solved.  Same old story.  It reminded me of the soap opera Melanie and I used to watch in college.  Once we started our careers I’ll bet we didn’t watch it for at least a year.  One vacation day we tuned in to find that we missed virtually nothing and were able to immediately get back into the story line like we’d never been away.  Seriously, try tuning out for a month and see how much your mood improves.

I’m thinking Tuesdays and Thursdays are good blog post days.  Next week, saintball tips and mission identification.  Or send me a note if you have a better idea.

Have a saintly weekend all!  Scott

Striving for Sainthood, an Option or Our Duty?

I’m going to do two things in this blog entry that I don’t plan to do often; quote the bible and discuss an actual canonized Saint.  This will rarely happen since I don’t know very many bible quotations, just the more famous ones, and canonized Saint examples are so extraordinary that attempting to emulate them can be discouraging.  But for now, let’s take a quick look at one interesting example.

Today is the feast day of St. Maximilian Kolbe.  He was arrested in Poland in 1941 and sent to the Auschwitz death camp.  Following a prisoner escape, ten men from his barracks were picked to suffer death by starvation as both a punishment and deterrent. Fr. Kolbe was not initially chosen, but volunteered to take the place of one of the men who begged for mercy due to family concerns.

The men suffered the pains of dehydration and starvation and after three weeks only four were left alive. It was on this day, August 14 in 1941 that Fr. Kolbe and three fellow prisoners were killed with injections of carbolic acid.  He was 47 years old.

He was beatified by Pope Paul VI in 1971 and canonized by his fellow Pole, Pope John Paul II in 1982.  The opening words of the papal decree introducing his beatification were, “Greater love than this no man hath, that a man lay down his life for his friends.” – John 15:13. He certainly lived that verse.

The reason I am so intrigued by this Saint, and chose to officially publish my book on this date is that he often wrote about our duty to become saints.  He didn’t believe it was an option.  In fact his own personal first rule of life was “I must become a saint, and a great saint.”  He even had a formula for his philosophy, W+w=S, which means, when there is unity between God’s will and our will there is sanctity (saintliness).  Of course the challenge is understanding what God’s will for each of us truly is.

Do you know what God’s will is for you?  If so, is your will in line with His?  If not, do your ever spend time trying to figure it out?  If you are not a “God person,” do you have a personal mission in life that guides what you do?  Tough questions!

Our Saint Builder Foundation overriding philosophy is that if we were all striving to become saints we would be able to solve all the world’s problems by working together.  And it all starts with knowing our individual reason for being.   Our mission.  And then carrying it out diligently.  I believe this is our duty.  But it is at our option.  Free will.  What will you do?

I plan to blog regularly going forward.  My goal is to help us all think about where we are at in life, where we want to go from here, and how we should go about getting from here to there.  It’s then up to each of us to take action based on the results of that thinking.  And praying helps too.  Think of it as TAP (think, act, pray)…as in “tap” your potential.

I welcome your thoughts as we go along.  You will notice that I use the words us and we often.  We are in this together.  I am no expert, but I am older and wiser than I once was…aren’t we all?!  I’ve been doing my research and working hard to at least improve myself.  Let’s figure this saint thing out together.  I look forward to the shared journey.

Tomorrow let’s start playing a game.

Yours in aspiring little “s” sainthood, Scott

I’m a Blogger?

Here’s the deal, I’ve never done this before.  But I’d never written a book either.  Let’s give this blogging thing a shot.

Notice that the topic of the book is sAint Me?!  The “A” is capitalized (as in Ain’t) on purpose.  I’m certainly no saint, but I’m trying.  This blog will focus on my journey.  Hopefully you can learn from it.  Especially the mistakes.  In fact, I’d like us to learn from each other.  I will give you my experience frequently to help start a discussion.  Together we can make a difference in the world.

Wow, that was exhausting…did I mention I don’t know how to type?  Just ask Jeni!  All for now.  Be back soon and thanks for your interest!