“The most fulfilling bet you will ever make is on yourself” – Jason B Flores
Especially now, there are a lot of bumps in the road of life and outside factors that can pull us down. We try to fend them off, but a part of being human is that they occasionally get to us. There were days in my brain AVM recovery journey where I had felt that no matter what I did, there was no progress being made and at times just accepted defeat. I distinctly remember thinking, well if I let that defeat consume me, then who else is going to fight? I clearly knew the answer was no one but my own self, but I actually had to REALLY take that in and understand the meaning of unlimited possibilities within me and each one of us!
One of the most fulfilling things that I have learned to incorporate into my life after my brain AVM rupture was practicing gratitude. Having my AVM rupture while I was adventuring in Iceland was quite unexpected, but yet so beautiful and I wouldn’t have imagined being surrounded with anyone other than the incredible Landspitali Medical team! I have so much gratitude for them saving my life that there was no question in my mind that it was a must for me to go full circle. So that I did; I was rushed through the hospital ER barely conscious on a stretcher in the early morning of 12/12/16; so on 12/12/17 I had flown back to Iceland and limped through those doors of that very hospital on my two feet on a mission. That mission was to express gratitude by hugging and shaking the hands of those that helped save my life. I had brought bags of Starbucks coffee, as I vaguely recall the doctors always having a cup of coffee on their morning rounds and a signed picture frame of the team of doctors next to me in my hospital bed. As I ventured through the hospital, faces of the medical team looked familiar and all I could say was thank you a million times.
Amongst all the cheerfulness, Dr. Aron, who had performed my emergency craniotomy, had entered the room, having just come out of surgery. I turned to him and said, “Hello Dr. Aron, you may not remember me, but you had saved my life from a ruptured AVM exactly one year ago today. You are the reason why I am alive today and I felt that I needed to come back to see you in person to tell you that and how I will be forever grateful.” The uncontrollable tears just started streaming down my face of pure joy and gratitude. I’ll never forget his response which is something I will keep with me for life. He said, “I do remember you and thank you for the gifts and making a special trip all the way back here to visit us. You know, I rarely get to see my patients after they have been released from my care, and you just reminded me exactly why I do what I do as a neurosurgeon and why it is worth it, so for that I thank you.” I accepted his kindness with open arms and reassured him that they will forever be part of my life as I vowed to share my story day in and day out to positively influence others.
One of the best things I have learned is to be just 1% better than the day before. This theory is also outlined in the book Atomic Habits by James Clear where he explains that if you do this daily you will cumulatively be 37 times better after one year. So this helped me understand that betting on yourself is not an overnight ordeal. It is the rewiring and consistent reinforcement to change habits and create new practices that further uplift. I completely relate to this and created the analogy in my mind just as athletes are able to. Can I wake up and instantly decide to be the best golfer in the world? Absolutely! But making that a reality is days, weeks, months, years of practicing, failure, and ambition. So why not start now on the key areas that matter most in my life? This is where I realized the importance of turning inwards and putting in that work on myself and NOT looking externally for the fulfillment.
In that same breath, turning inwards was such a scary and difficult thing to do. I remember how all I wanted to do was hide and run away from everything and everyone. After understanding the impact of my brain AVM on my life, I had lost my own self confidence and worth. I distinctly remember walking into a restaurant and absolutely just falling flat on my face. I was cut up, bleeding, with people all around staring; then some people who are nothing but angels rushed over and helped me back on my feet. I felt gratitude and mortified at the same time. The inner battle I had in my head following that was absolutely brutal, where I was just putting myself down left and right for hours and in some cases days. Ironically, after quite a few times of doing this to myself, I awoke to the notion of understanding that it was actually ALL in my control.
I created this feeling. I am the one who has the power to change. I am the only one that could do something about it. There was no pointing the finger at anyone or anything else but my own self! This was the moment where everything clicked for me and I had received clarity, that for me was all about the lens I chose to view life through. For any given situation I could choose to view something horrible or find the beauty in it. A wonderful, recent example was when I was trying to open a bottle of wine with the use of one hand-ish. This at one point had been a very simple task, but now poses quite a challenge especially with my non-dominant left hand. So I kept working at it and found if I use my arm as leverage and hold the bottle in between my legs I could accomplish it. It may not be pretty, but I just bet on myself to find a way to make it happen in one way shape or form. With that I found accomplishing something even in a different variation is all that matters!
Here are some “bet on yourself” tactics that I have learned to incorporate into my life:
Own it; Own YOU!
You have the power within and can do something about it because no one else will do it for you! The time is always NOW!
Don’t forget to live in the present
I am naturally a planner and big on setting many future goals. By the same token, I have come to find that balance is key as the importance of living in the moment right here, right now is so important!
Settling is not an option
We all deserve to be happy and live our best lives! If settling is not an option, then you are constantly evolving which opens the possibility for you to be the best version of yourself.
Creating daily routines and practices
I started to do daily meditation and gratitude practices that have truly brought forth the simple things in life that I had taken for granted. Something as simple as even just being able to take a deep breath or watch squirrels at play helps ground me and put things into perspective that life is beautiful!
Being the most comfortable at being uncomfortable
Sometimes we fall into only what we just find comfort in because it is familiar. Going to the same neighborhood grocery store or the same vacation spot year after year. For myself, I challenged myself to view it as the inverse – for something that is unknown to me, just always embrace it and take it as a learning experience!
Radiate LOVE every freaking day.
I am love. YOU are love. WE are love. Together we are ONE. I look to continue to embody love, compassion and fully let go of any fear. The energy of love is bar none one of the most magical vibes!
The notion of letting things fall into place has been a struggle for me. I also recognize that there is no need to force anything and just let life unfold as it is intended to. Everything happens for a reason and it is beautiful! I turn to the Higher Power and continue to trust the universe.
Continuous growth – 1% a day
Whether it is just moving your arm or leg an inch more than you did before or taking a cooking course, The point is you always strive to be better. It doesn’t have to be drastic, but we can all be better at something. Along the way if you help someone also grow then that’s all that matters.
Mindset is crucial
The mind is the key to making the impossible possible! Truly nothing is out of reach and sometimes the hardest thing to do is get out of our own way.
Paying it forward
I win, you win. So choosing to continue to help and support you and those around me brings next level happiness. I have your back! Please let me know how I can help uplift you! Let’s do this thing called life together!!! We are better together! Creating the win-win moments to uplift each other is a feeling that is unmet by anything else!
Positive, not the negative Outlook
For me, I figured out that it was more than the physical deficiencies, there was something greater – mental health. It’s ironic that it is often the last to be thought of, but is actually the source of everything; it makes or breaks you, allows you to succeed or fail. You could be the strongest, most talented, intellectual person in the world, but if your outlook, confidence, determination, poise isn’t all together then it can all collapse and suddenly doesn’t matter. Keep that head up, you got this!
These were my “aha” moments that I shared with you in hopes that you also find your own! So here I am today, four years post my brain AVM continuing to bet on myself, pay it forward, and share my journey with all of you in hopes that I can make an impact, even if only in one other life. Every morning I wake up, I give gratitude and read the quote on my wall “Today is your day.” Each day is ours for the taking and is our day to bet on ourselves to know that anything is possible in every aspect! I see you. I am with you. Together we rise and bet on each other as we all rise as ONE. Please do reach out and let me know how I can help! Sending much love and good vibes for an abundant year ahead!
Click the photo to learn more about Jason Flores.