24 June 2017


Sometimes I feel that we're living in a world with much less compassion than in years gone by. We've become divided and separated more and more, and we see people on the "other side" as the "enemy," people who aren't deserving of our love and compassion. We devise ways to defeat them, as if life were some sort of game in which the winners get a prize at the end of it. But the truth is that there is no prize at the end of life--we may move on to something else, but we certainly aren't going to be given a medal or huge amounts of cash for having treated our fellow human beings as competitors rather than as fellow human beings. There's much suffering in the world, and most of it is avoidable or fixable--but unfortunately we get so caught up in our own little worlds and our own wants and needs that we don't have time to get to know other people and the conditions in which they find themselves. And that's necessary for compassion--it's impossible to feel compassion unless we know that someone else is suffering. It's important that we look beyond our own fences or walls or whatever other boundaries we think are separating us from others in order to find out just what we can do to help the other human beings who are sharing this planet with us.

Compassion is the ultimate and most meaningful embodiment of emotional maturity.  It is through compassion that a person achieves the highest peak and the deepest reach in his or her search for self-fulfillment.        -Arthur Jersild

 More quotes and passages on compassion

18 June 2017

Common Sense

We seem to be living in a world in which people have rejected their own common sense in order to believe things that other people tell them. Unfortunately, those things often come from advertisers and scammers, and they often do their best to make our lives miserable because they're trying their best to make us discontent--with our lives and with ourselves. Common sense is our best defense against what they do, and it really is quite a shame that most of us don't do all that we can to strengthen our common sense by learning all that we can about life and living. A person who uses common sense as a guide to life is generally a contented and happy person, for he or she isn't trying to make life something that it isn't. I'm not a person with tons of money, so common sense tells me to buy an affordable vehicle, not one that has payments that are going to consistently cause me great deals of stress. I want to accomplish twenty things this week, but common sense tells me that four or five will make for a very good week, so it would be better to step back, look at the situation, and decide which things should be dealt with first--and how to deal with them. My wife and I walked by some fairly new houses yesterday that seem to be falling apart--it looks like the builders used shoddy materials in order to maximize profit, when common sense would have told them "you get what you pay for." Let your common sense have a voice, please! We need much more common sense in this world of ours!

Believe nothing, no matter where you read it, or who said it, no matter if I have said it, unless it agrees with your own reason and your own common sense.

the Buddha

 Quotes and passages on common sense

16 June 2017


It's hard to admit that most of the adversity in my life, most of my "failures" and problems, have been caused by my own beliefs. I've always believed that I'm not as good as other people, that others have much more going for them, that I don't deserve certain positive things, that I'm unlovable, that I have to work harder than others in order to succeed. These are beliefs that were instilled in me, though, not beliefs that are intrinsic parts of who I am. I was taught these beliefs by parents, peers, teachers, etc.--and I believed that I should pay attention to their lessons. My life has changed dramatically for the positive since I've recognized these beliefs for exactly what they are: wrong and harmful. They still hang on, to a certain extent, but for the most part they're not longer a defining force in my life--who I am is much different than I who I used to think I was. For that matter, who I was was much different than who I believed I was--and that was one thing that led to many, many problems.

One of the hardest expressions of self-assertiveness is challenging your limiting beliefs.

Nathaniel Branden

15 June 2017


It's a difficult path to take, that of simplicity--what an ironic twist that's become!  We live in a society that constantly urges us to complicate our lives by buying more and more things, by owning more stuff, by tying in everything that we do to our phones or our computers. You need this app for that activity! You have to have this phone if you're going to be successful! Simplicity these days requires an awareness of just how complicated we've made our own lives, and just how much stress is involved in that complexity. I like a simple meal--I don't need to make complicated dinners all the time. For my wife and me, one of our favorite activities is a walk after dinner, and we don't need to see anything new or different while we walk--we just enjoy our time together. I'm constantly tempted to take on another job or start another project or volunteer with a different group--and I constantly have to remind myself that if I do so, I'm not going to be able to live simply any more. Sometimes it's worth the sacrifice for a short amount of time, but usually I go with the decision that will allow me to still lead a rather uncomplicated existence. Fewer possessions, fewer commitments, fewer new gadgets that must be maintained and watched and worried about--this can help to keep life simple.

If one's life is simple, contentment has to come.  Simplicity is extremely
important for happiness.  Having few desires, feeling satisfied
with what you have, is very vital:  satisfaction with just enough food,
clothing, and shelter to protect yourself from the elements.

the Dalai Lama

14 June 2017


I grew up almost needing some sort of background sound in my life--usually music, which I had to play almost always.  I don't know why I needed it, and it really doesn't matter--it may be interesting to find out, but it really doesn't matter.  These days, I allow much more silence in my life, time when there are no sounds going on that bother me or distract me.  I've found that the silence truly has a strong power, an ability to calm me and to sooth me, as long as I allow it to do so.  I still love music and I still listen to it a lot, but I also look for quiet times when my spirit and my mind can be at peace without sounds that fill space and that add stress--even positive stress--to my life.  In silence I can focus, I can let my mind quiet itself, and I can feel a part of the things all around me.

Silence has a regenerative power of its own.  It is always sacred.  It always returns you home.       -Barbara De Angelis

Give yourself some quiet time today, even if it's only five minutes.  Let the silence nurture you.  It isn't always easy, because we so often feel the need to fill silence with sound, but it definitely is an important habit to nurture.  Work on it!

13 May 2017

Back in June

Vacation--it's really nice to have one now and then. And since I'm going to be on vacation for the next couple of weeks, and then out of the country for some language refresher work (important since I teach languages!), I think it's time to set aside this blog until I get back. So I'll start up again in mid-June, when I'm back and I have a bit more time. I haven't posted nearly as much recently because of a huge work load, but come June I'll have more time to put into new posts. So I wish you well until then, and I refer you to the very large number of posts in the archives for the next four or five weeks. Take care!

09 May 2017

Time Away

Sometimes, no matter how much you want to do something, it's important to put it aside for a while and focus on other things that are more pressing, more immediate.  At the end of semesters, for example, it's important for me to focus on my classes and my students, because we're coming to the end of our time together and I need to make sure that we accomplish all that we need to get done and that the grades are fair and accurate. Something like this blog, which I really enjoy doing but which isn't nearly as pressing as my classes, must get put on a back burner while I focus on the things that are truly pressing.

Life does that to us, and it's up to us to make the decisions that will allow us to do something really well rather than spreading ourselves too thin to do any one particular thing extremely well. We like to claim that we're "good at multitasking," though, and that we're able to juggle a lot of things at once and do them all successfully. I know from experience, though, that when I do that, the quality of all the things suffers--I may like to think that I've done everything just as well as I normally would, but I know that's not the case at all. In order to be able to do other things, I've cut corners on something else. In order to spend the time necessary to write blog entries, I would spend less time on class preparation, grading, or meeting with students. It's just the way life is--we have a limited amount of time available to us, and we need to make decisions that allow us to use it well.

There are certain jobs, of course, that don't necessarily have to be done extremely well. Painting a wall in a storage room usually doesn't require the time or care that the wall in the living room demands. But I know that my students take priority over other things, partly because teaching students is how I make my living and partly because students who have taken my class have trusted me to teach them what they need to know in their futures.

It does feel good to get back to things like this when semesters end, but it's important that when the time comes to decide on my priorities, I choose the things that are the most important for more people, and that I be able to put aside for a time those things that are not nearly as pressing, and that can afford to be left alone for a while. After all, the choices we make determine our success or failure in whatever we do, and I want to try to do my best in the areas that need my time and energy more than others.

But of course, I am glad to be able to return!