As we enter the year 2020, in a world that seems to be moving exponentially faster with each decade, we struggle more than ever to be relevant, influential, valuable, respected, seen, loved—and stay alive long enough to make it through the finish line. We live in a vast, unlimited Universe, so why do we press ourselves into such small boxes?
Joseph Binning, author of YOU MATTER…Even If You Don’t Think So, knows from personal experience that too many don’t make it to the finish line. Too many are not given the words, the instruction, or the hand we need to make it through. Too many of us do not believe that we really matter. Understanding who we are and what to do with this life we’re living is the hardest thing we’ll ever do. We need more than words—more than knowledge. We need a way to quiet the voices in our heads that make us want to give in. We need a reason strong enough to get to the finish line without quitting. We need a truth powerful enough to lift us out of the darkness.
From a throw-away child to a successful, heart-felt, self-made man, Joseph Binning knows first-hand that our past is not who we are. In fact, who we think we are is rarely who we truly are. It is only through opening our eyes to a new way of seeing—by setting aside our limited thoughts—that we understand, “When I let go of who I am, I become what I might be.”
In his self-discovery guide, YOU MATTER, Joseph takes our hand and leads us through each page of a truth-telling map to find our path—the path within ourselves where we discover the answers. Who am I? Why am I here? Am I worthy of love? How do I create a lasting relationship, work, and meaning in my life? What do I do now, and how do I do it? Joseph teaches us how to discover who we really are—and who we’re not—and how to know, trust, and follow the path in front of us. Most importantly, Joseph leads us to find compassion—for ourselves first, and then for others—to support our renewal, step out of doubt, anxiety, and disbelief, and move toward the finish line in clarity, certainty, and creation.
Taking us beyond 2020 vision, Joseph teaches us to look back only for a moment, to see how far we’ve come, but doesn’t let us stay there or press ourselves back into the box. Revealing the truth that lies within us, YOU MATTER shines the light on our greatness, until we can shine our own light, loving us enough until the day we can love ourselves enough to make it through. Joseph Binning is the voice of 2020 who shouts to each and every one of us, “Don’t give up, because YOU MATTER!…Even If You Don’t Think So. Purposeful
Targeted Age Group:: 18-65
What Inspired You to Write Your Book?
I know that too many people don’t know that they matter. I know that I was placed here, in this life, to connect, to teach, to heal. To first heal myself, and then to give my time and resources, to provide fellow seekers a map for where to go—where to go within themselves. To help the curious with their inner self discovery, to find answers to their questions… Who am I? Why am I here? What is the meaning of my life? What do I do and how do I do it? To guide them to know, trust, and follow the path that’s put in front of them. To teach them compassion—for themselves first, and then for others. To support them in their renewal. To help them to know hope.
Introduction: How I Got Here
Life happens while you are making other plans.
—John Lennon, “Beautiful Boy”
I was born to two people who loved each other enough to deliver my brother and me into the world and create a family. Out of his sons, I was my father’s favorite. He and my mother discovered that they were not right for each other and chose separate paths. It is an awfully familiar story, and a reflection of the times. Some in my family have suggested that my father could not be a father, that he was not in the state of mind to be the best example for me. I will never know. He took the divorce extremely hard and could not see us after they separated. My last memories of him are watching him sit in his car crying outside of our house. Without my superhero father, I felt alone. I looked just like my father. That seemed to make it harder for my mom to look at me.
We moved every year. She struggled on a secretary’s salary to raise two boys alone in Los Angeles, California. Most landlords would not allow us to renew the lease, since most months we were late with rent. My brother and I never knew about that—her way of protecting us.
Being the unknown kid meant you were bullied—unless the other kids thought you were crazy; in which case they would leave you alone. I learned early to pick a fight with the biggest kid on the playground on the first day of school, even if I would get pulverized, which was the case a fair amount of the time. Back then it was not bullying. It was kids being kids.
I ran away from home a few times. I thought, If I can just find my dad, I can live with him, and then everything will be all right again. I had not yet been told that he was dead. The cause listed on his death certificate was suicide. Alcohol and sleeping pills were apparently somewhat common during that era, as was living in a state of unhappiness. I found out three years afterward, when I was getting ready to go into the ninth grade—again, my mother’s way of protecting us.
Although I was a decent student—passing my freshman year with a B+ average—I did not feel good enough. When I was fifteen, my mother filed an incorrigibility complaint against me and dropped me off at the local police station. From there, they sent me to juvenile hall, and I was sent to live at a boys’ home for troubled youth called the Pacific Lodge Boys’ Home.
Woodland Hills, California, an affluent town in the San Fernando Valley, was a strange place for a boys’ home. They allowed us to attend the local public high school for some sense of normal life. That worked in theory, but kids can be very cruel. I went to school with movie stars and the children of movie stars. We were referred to as the “Lodge Kids” by the public-school students and reminded daily that we were not “normal” kids. Friends were scarce, unless they were from the lodge. So most of us just hung out with each other, a circumstance that created a bond between us during a racially divisive time. If someone from school messed with a Lodge Kid—and someone usually did—we all came to his defense. We called ourselves a band of wayward brothers.
None of us saw our parents regularly. They designed the daily schedule at the lodge around individual counseling and occasional family group counseling sessions, with the eventual goal of reuniting each boy with his family unit. The counseling sessions with my mother did not go well, on either end. I was shut down emotionally, and she was at her wits’ end. I knew in the back of my mind I would never return home, that I’d live at the lodge until I turned eighteen, alone, with no family, no tribe, and no one to belong to—a throwaway child no one wanted. One minute you belong to something—be it healthy or dysfunctional, it is your tribe, your family—and the next minute, it is taken away. You are suddenly, unexpectedly, bewilderingly alone. After losing my dad as a child, I felt alone. Now I truly was alone.
The multiple-dorm residential facility had several counselors who worked and slept there. One of my counselors, Kane, was also a social worker. Warm, laid-back, and always nice, Kane seemed to care about us as individuals, and it was genuine; he never judged us. I was horrible to him. Most of us were. We were a group of angry, hurt boys, deposited in a home for troubled youth and alone in the world. Out of the hundred or so kids at the home one Christmas, only two of us did not go home to be with family and friends for the holiday. It was not because we were delinquents. My friend Patrick and I didn’t have a home to go to, which meant that Kane, who was on shift that night, had to stay at the dorm with just the two of us instead of being home with his family for Christmas.
Unbeknownst to us, Kane had petitioned the powers that be to take Patrick and me off campus for Christmas. We did not know what we were getting into, but it was better than being at the lodge. Kane picked us up on Christmas Eve, and off we went on Kane’s Christmas present run, visiting various friends of his to exchange presents and Christmas wishes. Not once did any of them make us feel awkward for being there. The day ended at his mother’s house with homemade Christmas dinner with all the fixings. It was a proper family dinner with lots of food for hungry boys and lots of people; Patrick and I never felt left out or unwelcome. Kane and his mother even gave presents to us—no ugly sweaters or generic or cheap items, but genuine gifts they had put thought into selecting just for us. We felt included, part of the family. I had never known that kind of generosity. I did not understand it. I will never forget that day for as long as I live. When Kane brought us back the next day, I asked him why he was being so nice to me. He said, “My job, Joe, is to love you enough until the day comes when you can love yourself that much.”
I have never forgotten his words, though I did not know what they meant at the time. I was on course for a future of destructive thoughts and patterns and was easily influenced by others like me. It was easy to follow that path. Like attracts like. When those around you are just as dysfunctional as you are, you do not know how dysfunctional you are. It is your normal. You do not know what you do not know—until you know. By then, it is too late.
Two decades later, with a few marriages and a few stints in jail under my belt, I found myself in my forties, broke and alone, with no clue as to who I was, where I would go, or how I would get there. I had never seemed able to fit together all the pieces of the puzzle of a complete life—relationship, spirituality, personal esteem, and financial stability. At that point, I had a fantastic work ethic and a suitable career, but everything else was a mess.
At about that time, a girlfriend introduced me to someone who would become a very dear and long-lasting spiritual friend and trusted adviser, Uki MacIsaac. In one of our first conversations, she asked what my spiritual background was. I responded that I had been raised Catholic and had spent fifteen adult years in the Christian church, and that “heaven and hell pretty much summed it up.” I will never forget her response. She said, “How limiting. You have this vast Universe, yet you put it in a small box.”
That was the moment my spiritual journey began, and my life changed for the better—I have never looked back.
Shortly after that day I discovered Dr. Wayne Dyer’s book, Change Your Thoughts—Change your Life: Living the Wisdom of the Tao. In it, he introduced me to the teachings of Lao-tzu, the author of the Tao Te Ching. In his preface to the book, Dr. Dyer explains that Lao-tzu was a prophet who was also the keeper of the imperial archives in the ancient city of Luoyang, which due to much war was in a decaying state. Lao-tzu decided to leave and was met along his journey at the Hanku Pass by a gatekeeper named Yin His. Knowing of his reputation of being wise, Yin His begged Lao-tzu to record his teachings, which he did. This was the beginning of the second most-translated teachings in the world next to the Bible. Five thousand Chinese characters comprised eighty-one verses, all of which changed my life forever .
People ask me if I am a Buddhist. My answer is no, I am not, but I align myself and my life with many of the Buddhist teachings.
What resonates with me and rings true in my heart is the simple creed to “be happy.” Not be happy if. Not be happy when. Not be happy because. Just be happy. Choose to be happy with no external help. Make a decision, a conscious decision, to be happy in every situation. Period.
It is my belief that there is no “right way” when it comes to spirituality or religion. The Tao warns us that the need to be right is merely our ego taking charge. There is only a “right way” for you, the individual, because it is your journey. Only you can decide what is best for you when it comes to what you choose to believe or choose to not believe.
It is also my opinion that we can learn from all forms of faith, and I can honor you by honoring and respecting your right to choose how you believe. I simply ask you to do the same.
In this journey we are about to take together I will reference teachings of faith from many realms as I believe that if we try to understand, we will be understood.
Many blessings to you.
Now let’s get started, shall we?
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