160+ Quotes from How to Be Here by Rob Bell - Part Two

You start with your 1, and then you suspend judgement on what you’re doing, because you don’t know what you have when you start.

No one does.

When you are constantly judging what you’re doing you aren’t here. You aren’t present. You are standing outside of your life, looking in, observing.
- Rob Bell, How To Be Here, p. 102

The first number is always 1.
You don’t know what you have when you start, and so you suspend judgement on whatever it is you’re doing while you’re doing it.
- Rob Bell, How To Be Here, p. 103

If you are working on something, about to deliver it, moments from opening the doors, an hour from everybody arriving, a week from the release date, two minutes from getting the results back, and you have butterflies in your stomach, be grateful.

You are in a wonderful place.
Nerves are God’s gift to you, reminding you that your life is not passing you by.
- Rob Bell, How To Be Here, p. 106
 

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We work hard to outline and plan and design and estimate and organize whatever it is we’ve set out to do, all the while keeping in mind that when we start, we don’t actually know what we have on our hands. 
- Rob Bell, How To Be Here, p. 107-108


When we’re young and we want something, we do whatever it takes.

When you’re in the store and you see something you want, you ask your dad over and over and over. You drive him crazy until he gets it for you or gives you one of those definitive no’s that keep you quiet.

When it rains and you’re stuck inside, you build a fort using every single blanket and cushion in the house.

When it’s a summer night and you’re outside with the kids from the neighbourhood, you find a can or a flashlight and you invent a game.
- Rob Bell, How To Be Here, p. 110


You make things,
you find what you need,
you hunt down the supplies,
you do this instinctively.
You figure out what the 1 is and then you don’t rest until you’ve got it.

Somewhere along the way in becoming adults, it’s easy to lose this potent mix of exploration and determination. We settle. We decide this is as good as it gets. We comfort ourselves with, It could be worse.
- Rob Bell, How To Be Here, p. 110
 

Sometimes you do things and you get results and that effort leads to more effort which leads to more results and away you go, success building on success. And then other times you try something new and it ends up in a crate in your garage because no one is interested.
- Rob Bell, How To Be Here, p. 117

There are always two risks. There’s the risk of trying something new, and there’s the risk of not trying it.
- Rob Bell, How To Be Here, p. 118

You may write the book and no one else is interested. 
You may decided not to write the book and then find yourself wondering, What if I had made that book…?
Either way there’s risk. And sometimes stepping out and trying something new is actually the less risky thing to do.

The question is,
What are the two risks here?
and then,
Which path is actually less risky?
- Rob Bell, How To Be Here, p. 118-119
 

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When you are bored,
restless,
longing for something more,
unfulfilled,
feeling like you’ve settled,
haunted by the sense of being trapped in your own life,
these are the deep waters of your soul speaking to you, telling you something is wrong, something is missing, something needs to change.

It’s written in Proverbs that it takes insight to draw out those deep waters in your heart.
- Rob Bell, How To Be Here, p. 122

Sometimes we don’t take the risk because of something that happened in the past. We tried something and it below up in our face and so whenever there’s a new opportunity all we can think about is what happened back then.

Is this you? Are you dying where you are right now but unable to take a leap forward because it seems too risky?

If you stay there, you may continue to feel like you’re dying- 
now that is risky.


- Rob Bell, How To Be Here, p. 123

Risk sometimes leads to failure, and failure is overrated.

Your business went bankrupt, but when you talk about it years later you realize how much you learned from the experience, how much it humbled you, how much it realigned your priorities, how much it made you a better person.

It was bad, but it also produced an extraordinary amount of good in your life.
- Rob Bell, How To Be Here, p. 125
 

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Failure is simply another opportunity to learn.
Another opportunity to explore, to grow, to find out who you are.

You try this.
You try that.
Some things go great.
Others crash and burn.
When you do crash and burn, ask yourself lots of questions about whatever it is that happened:
What can you learn here?
How will you see things differently moving forward?

Why did I do that?
leads to,
What have I learned?
leads to,
How will I do it differently in the future?

What you would have called a failure becomes another opportunity for increased clarity about who you are and what you’re doing here.
- Rob Bell, How To Be Here, p. 128

We love to believe that we are sophisticated, refined people with good taste and a calm, reasoned view of the world. But we’re also very simple: We want a little risk in our lives because it keeps things interesting. It wakes us up, it gives us a sense that we’re alive and breathing and doing something with our lives.
- Rob Bell, How To Be Here, p. 130

When you’re starting out, or when you’re staring over, you do whatever work you can. You take whatever opportunities you are given. You do it with a smile. You give it everything you have. You take notes, you ask questions. And when you get the chance to interact with someone who is doing what you would love to do someday, you lean in and you listen intently.

If you are the assistant to the regional manager for distribution services, throw yourself into being the best possible assistant to the regional manager for distribution services you can be.

If you sell little plastic widgets, be kind and helpful to every single person who comes in to your little plastic widget store.

If you are asked to plug in the lights under the christmas trees, get down and start crawling.

The first things you have to do is throw yourself into whatever it is you’re doing.
- Rob Bell, How To Be Here, p. 134


A young man once walked up to me after a talk I’d given and asked me how he could do what I do. I asked him what that was. He said,

I want to talk to large crowds.
How do you talk to large crowds?
You first talk to whoever will listen.

When I was starting out I said “yes” to every single opportunity that came my way. I spoke at state fairs and jails and home groups and chapel services and outdoor festivals and backyards. I paid for my own gas to get there. I was heckled, I was criticized, people came to hear me just to tell me afterward how terrible I was. I’ve tripped and fallen off stages, numerous sound systems have literally blown up while I was talking. 
- Rob Bell, How To Be Here, p. 135


Throwing yourself into it begins with being grateful that you even have something to throw yourself into.
- Rob Bell, How To Be Here, p. 136
 

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I often meet people who have a very high view of their talents and abilities, convinced that they are destined for something more important than whatever it is they are currently doing.

They usually say things like,
I just know there’s something more important out there for me
or,
I’m too big for the role I’m currently in
or,
I’m better than this.

If you are destined for something more, that “more” will only happen because you throw yourself into whatever it is you’re doing. This will always involve humbling yourself and doing whatever is in front of you, like crawling around on a dirty floor under Christmas trees.
- Rob Bell, How To Be Here, p. 137-138

Sometimes we hold back from throwing ourselves into it because we think that the only work worth doing something completely original that’s never been done before.
- Rob Bell, How To Be Here, p. 139

I was doing a Q&A at an event in 2012 and a man raised his hand to ask a question, introducing himself by saying that he was just an insurance agent. As we’ve seen, that little word just is a problem.
- Rob Bell, How To Be Here, p. 139

Have you ever been in a car accident and had to call your insurance agent? When you’re standing by the side of the road staring at the smoldering wreck of what was formerly your primary mode of transportation, you don’t want just an insurance agent to answer the phone. You want someone to answer who has given himself to being the best insurance agent he can possibly be.
- Rob Bell, How To Be Here, p. 139


No one is just a mom, just a construction worker, just a salesperson, just a clerk - because you doing your work in your place at this time is highly original and desperately needed.

It may have been done or said by someone else. That’s a distinct possibility. It may have been done or said before.

But it hasn’t been done or said by you. It hasn’t come through your unique flesh and blood, through your life, through your experience and insight and perspective.
- Rob Bell, How To Be Here, p. 140


You don’t have to reinvent the wheel because you don’t have to invent anything.

Sometimes it’s as straightforward as identifying a need and then doing something about it in the most simple and efficient manner possible. That alone may be the most original thing imaginable.
- Rob Bell, How To Be Here, p. 141

Sometimes we don’t throw ourselves into it because we put ourselves out there in the past and discovered that snipers were crowding on every roof. We were shot down. Criticized. It blew up in our face. No one liked what we did. We believe we failed.
- Rob Bell, How To Be Here, p. 143
 

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When we don’t throw ourselves completely into it and we hold back our best efforts because of what happened in the past, we are letting the past decide the future.

Is there any way in which you are holding back because you were burned before?

Is there any way in which you need to let the past be the past so that the future can be something new?

Are there any critical voices that are running on repeat in your head, holding you back from giving it everything you’ve got?
- Rob Bell, How To Be Here, p. 144


We surrender the outcomes because we cannot control how people are going to respond to us and our work in the world.

They may love it,
or they may hate it,
or they may not react to it at all.

They may love us,
or they may hate us,
or they may not even notice us.
- Rob Bell, How To Be Here, p. 145


You cannot control how people are going to respond to you and your work in the world.

Surrendering the outcomes does not mean that we don’t care or we aren’t emotionally involved or we are indifferent to the results. We want to connect with people and move them and inspire them - and we want more kids to learn to read. Surrendering the outcomes is not surrendering goals or plans or dreams or numbers or results or ambition.

Surrendering the outcomes is making peace with our lack of control over how people respond to us and our work.

Surrendering the outcomes is coming to terms with the freedom people have to react to us and our work however they want.

Surrendering the outcomes is embracing the fact that there are no guarantees when it comes to results.
- Rob Bell, How To Be Here, p. 147

Have you ever heard someone on a stage or in the office or the classroom doing the work, but he’s simultaneously searching for someone to tell him how good, accomplished, skillful, or excellent he is? It’s as if he’s searching for applause in order to keep going you can sometimes see it in their eyes, this deeply unfulfilled sense that they are incomplete, that they need the strokes and affirmation of others to be content…

If you are looking for a particular response to bring you joy, that response may never come.
- Rob Bell, How To Be Here, p. 147
 

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No is not an option.

The philosopher Martin Buber wrote that there are YES and NO positions to life.

Is there any way in which you are saying No, and it’s cutting you off from the depths of your life, so it’s time to say YES?

Are there any small things that you have been skipping over, skimping on, sliding across the surface of - so it’s time to treat them like they're big things, throwing yourself into them?

You throw yourself into it,
and you surrender the outcome,
all at the same time.
- Rob Bell, How To Be Here, p. 148-149


Have you ever seen this - someone doing a job so well that it stands out?


- Rob Bell, How To Be Here, p. 151


Three and a half hours of commute every day?

Yes, she said, that’s how long it takes.
She told me that this particular branch of the rental car company is the busiest in the city and then she smiled and said,

This is where I start.
That’s a great line.
This is where I start.
- Rob Bell, How To Be Here, p. 152
 

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If your work feels beneath you, or monotonous and meaningless, try giving it everything you have like it’s the only thing you have.

The joy is in the work.

The satisfaction is found in knowing that you’re here, you’re alive, and you get to make something with your life.

You’re throwing yourself into it,
and you’re surrendering the outcome,
at the same time.
- Rob Bell, How To Be Here, p. 153

I tell you about my desk and what’s on it because when you’re creating your life, finding your 1, throwing yourself into it, facing your blinking line,

the details of your life are vital to your staying true to your path.
- Rob Bell, How To Be Here, p. 157

Where you sit,
the tools you use,
the physical environment you inhabit,
the rhythm of your day and week,
the rituals that remind you who you are and what
you’re doing here-
these details are important because

how you do anything is how you do everything.
- Rob Bell, How To Be Here, p. 158
 

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The details matter.

What you have hanging on the wall.
What’s on your desk.
The stuff you fill your life with.
- Rob Bell, How To Be Here, p. 159


There is a difference between details and clutter.

Clutter is the books on your shelf that you’re never going to read, the stacked-up papers that have been untouched for months, the endless flotsam and jetsam in your car, your closet, your garage, your kitchen, your bedroom, and your office.

Clutter is all those clothes that you haven’t worn in years filling all those shelves and drawers.

Clutter is all those possessions you’ve got piled in the garage just in case you might need them someday. Even though it’s been seven years since you first made those piles and haven’t looked in them since.

- Rob Bell, How To Be Here, p. 160


Details are those pictures that remind you why you do what you do.
Details are those books that are filled with underlining and notes. Or the books that you actually will read.
Details are those books that are filled with underlining and notes. Or the books that you actually will read.
Details are those few items of clothing that you actually do wear.
Details are those objects you use regularly that help you do better whatever it is you do.
Details are the tools of your craft.
Details remind you who you are, where you’ve been, and what your path is.

- Rob Bell, How To Be Here, p. 160

Our external environments mirror our internal lives.

If your desk is cluttered, don’t be surprised if you find it hard to focus.

If your closet and garage are piled with stuff you don’t use, don’t be shocked when you are easily distracted.

If things are lying around your living and working space that don’t serve a clear purpose, don’t be amazed that you aren’t very calm and centered.
- Rob Bell, How To Be Here, p. 161
 

What would happen if you emptied that room and over the next few months brought in only the things that you need? How much of what is in there would would you bring back in?

How much of that stuff that surrounds you every single day is actually vital to your path, and how much of it is in the way?
- Rob Bell, How To Be Here, p. 162

We are integrated beings, everything in our lives connecting with everything else. When we feel like life is passing us by, like we’re skimming the surface of our own experience, often the best place to start is with our own existence, often the best place to start is with our material possessions. Clean out the closets and bookshelves and garage, sor out what goes and what stays. Be ruthless. If you don’t use it, toss it.

It’s extraordinary how even small changes in your exterior environment can deeply shape your interior life. Clean, intentional physical space can dramatically affect how calm your mind and heart are.
- Rob Bell, How To Be Here, p. 162
 

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I turn my computer off knowing that I won’t turn it back on until Sunday at the earliest. No email, no work, no creating, no writing. The workweek is done.

I started this ritual because my days used to look all the same. Monday looked like Sunday which looked like Saturday which looked like Thursday. Around that time someone told me that animals in a zoo demonstrate adverse behaviour when they’re left on display for more than six days in a row.

What? I’d never heard that. There’s a six-day rhythm built into creation?
- Rob Bell, How To Be Here, p. 165

Have you ever felt like you’re just going through the motions?

Like you can’t distinguish one day from the next?
Like you’re a number, a cog in a wheel, a slave to a machine?
Like your worth and self-esteem are way too caught up in how many bricks you’re producing?
Like how you think about yourself is inseparable from what you do?
Like you're slave to your cell phone, your to-do list, your job?

- Rob Bell, How To Be Here, p. 166


All this motion is an endless stimulus for our bodies. Like a hit, or a drug. You see that you’ve just gotten a text and it send a little ripple of excitement through you.

It’s exciting to keep moving. If people are contacting you it means they're thinking about you, you’re needed, you have a role to play, you matter - all of that affects us spiritually. It may be good, but it’s also very seductive because it’s easy to become addicted to the pace, to the hit.

It feels good to be needed by people.

Have you ever checked your phone and found no new calls or texts or emails and you felt a bit let down?
- Rob Bell, How To Be Here, p. 168-169


But when you begin practicing Sabbath, a day during which you don’t have a set schedule and you don’t have to be anywhere, you find yourself relating to time in a different way.

Think about some of the most favourite moments in your life. At those times, you might have said, I lost track of time. Or you looked at your watch and wondered, Where did those hours go? Or you remarked, That day just flew by.

In those moments time fades because you are nowhere else but in the present. Time isn’t being used to produce anything, it isn’t being measured for what you can get out of it. Spending one day a week relating to time in a different way gradually influences how you think about and relate to time during the other days of the week.
- Rob Bell, How To Be Here, p. 170
 

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Sabbath forces you to listen to your life.

Sabbath is a day when you are fully present to your pain, your stress, your worry, your fear.

Sabbath is when you let whatever you’ve pushed down rise to the surface.

Sabbath is a day when things that are broken get fixed, when things within you that have torn are mended.
- Rob Bell, How To Be Here, p. 172

For example, lunch.

You sit down to eat with a friend and she puts her phone on the table between the two of you with the screen facing up. Without saying anything verbally, she has just communicated to you that even though she is here, with you at the lunch, about to order food, if that phone rings and that screen lights up, she will be with you, but not be with you. Here but not here. In that moment as she glances down at the screen she will be making a decision about whether to answer or not.

This extraordinary technology that makes it possible for us to connect with someone on the other side of the world also disconnects us from the person on the other side of the table.
- Rob Bell, How To Be Here, p. 173-174

To live with rhythm requires that you be intentional about what you’re doing and when you’re doing it.

If you’re with a person,
then be with him, be with her.

If you’re making phone calls,
then make phone calls.

If you’re playing with your kids,
then play with your kids.

If you’re having lunch and talking,
then be there. Put your cell phone away.
- Rob Bell, How To Be Here, p. 174
 

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Central to creating a life worth living is understanding that you have more power over your time than you realize.
- Rob Bell, How To Be Here, p. 176

You create the rhythm that helps you do the work that you’re here to do.
- Rob Bell, How To Be Here, p. 176

How you order your time, how you arrange the physical space you work in, what you wear, the tools you use, the food you eat and the times you eat it, the people you meet with at set times - all these details matter.

Think about your rituals and routines like a muscle that you are building, each repetition making that muscle stronger and more resilient.
- Rob Bell, How To Be Here, p. 176


And then you’ll notice that we eat breakfast on the Fine China.

Because this day is all we have.
We are celebrating.
This morning.
We have this morning.
That’s it.

There is power in the details,
power in this moment,
power in treating this meal as the sacred gift that it is.
- Rob Bell, How To Be Here, p. 180


Sound familiar? You’re standing there, physically present with your neighbor, but your mind is ping-ponging from one thought to another, noticing sounds and colors, processing random events from earlier in the day, connecting whatever your neighbor just said about the dust on her windows to the dust on your windows which reminds you that you need to take out the recycling when that thought is interrupted by remembering how you still haven’t responded to that text about plans for Friday night-

You’re there, but you’re also not there.
- Rob Bell, How To Be Here, p. 187
 

I learned that my life-
my average, ordinary, routine, everyday life-
has infinite depth and dimension and meaning and significance.

I learned that the present moment, with all its pressure and heartbreak and work and struggle and tension and questions and concerns, is way more interesting and compelling and mysterious and even enjoyable than I had ever imagined.
- Rob Bell, How To Be Here, p. 194

Whatever it is that you find yourself in the midst of on any given day - from laundry and meetings and traffic to going to class and answering emails and driving kids around - I want you to learn to live like you’re not missing a thing, like your eyes are wide open, fully awake to the miraculous nature of your own existence.
- Rob Bell, How To Be Here
 

Source: Bell, R. (2017). HOW TO BE HERE: a guide to creating a life worth living. San Francisco, CA: Harper One.