09 July 2018

Use your. . . .

True imagination is not fanciful daydreaming; it is fire from heaven.-Ernest Holmes

Many of us would finish the title with the word "imagination."  After all, that's what we were encouraged to do, over and over, while we were young.  Some of us even know people who encouraged us to do this while we were a bit older.  Somewhere along the line, though, we stop saying this to people; instead, we encourage them to use their knowledge, to use what they've learned from other people.  Sadly enough, this change even occurs in our supposedly "creative" fields such as movie-making and music--the movies that we see and the songs that we hear usually are simply copies of successful movies and songs made by other people, following strict formulas to "guarantee" success.

I don't want my imagination to die.  I want to use it until the day I die.  When I see something that looks marvelous, I want to be able to imagine marvelous things going on there.  When I see a place that looks spooky, I want to think spooky thoughts.  When I'm faced with a particular problem, I want to be able to come up with four or five possible solutions, and not just go with the very first thing that comes to mind.  The very first thing may even solve the problem, but will it do so creatively?  And is there more to solving the problem than just addressing the surface?  I can give money to a charity to help hunger, but is that money just paying for today's dinner?  What about tomorrow's dinner, and the next day's?  Are we addressing the poverty, or just the lack of meals?  The only way to address the deeper issues is to use the imagination that we've been given to see those issues and come up with unique solutions that haven't been tried yet--because what's been tried obviously hasn't worked well if the problem's still there.

I get criticized fairly often for using my imagination, for suggesting unique things to do.  The criticism is usually pretty subtle, as in "Well, that's just not how it's done."  And my response is usually, "Well, what's being done isn't working, so why not look at imaginative solutions?"  People get trapped in their ways of thinking just as they get trapped in quicksand if they happen to step in it, and it's not pretty.  Use your imagination today--try to think of three or four ways of doing something that you've always done the same way, and feel how nice it feels to use your brain in a unique and special way, rather than following the rules and paradigms that may have been around for years, but that aren't making things any better--they just provide the same old way of dealing with issues that come up.  Our world needs new ways of doing things, and you have those, right inside your mind.

 quotes and passages on imagination

03 July 2018


I must admit that I personally measure success in terms of the
contributions an individual makes to her or his fellow human beings.
-Margaret Mead
I can't imagine a person becoming a success who doesn't give
this game of life everything he or she has got.

-Walter Cronkite

I've included two quotations today because of all that I've read about success, these are the two things that come up over and over again:  serving others and giving all of our effort.

How can we call ourselves successful if we completely ignore the needs of others?  Many of us are taught that life is a battle and that the successful people are those who come out on top, leaving the "losers" behind.  This definition of success, though, includes a complete disregard for our fellow human beings, and while we may end up with more money or a position of supposed power, the truth is that when we harm other people, we harm ourselves, too.  It's like making it through a dangerous jungle, but then having to live with a debilitating disease that we caught while we were in there.  Yes, we made it through, but our quality of life forever after is very low.  When we serve others while striving to become successful, we set ourselves up for a very gratifying life in which we can see the results of our efforts both in our own life and also in the lives of others.

Nothing worthwhile ever comes from a halfhearted effort.  If we're going to do something, be it work, a school assignment, a task for a friend, getting in shape, losing weight--whatever it may be, the effort will be more successful and more gratifying if we give it all that we've got as opposed to giving it just a bit of effort.  Successful people give their tasks all their effort, realizing that the outcome of their efforts depends fully upon what they put into it.  If you build a house and cut corners, the house will start having problems from the beginning.  If you try to raise a child with mostly neglect, guess what?  Try to fix a car or paint a room sometime while you're also on the phone, and when you're only going to give an hour to the job, no matter what.  If we want to be truly successful, then we'll give all that we can to our tasks for the time that we're working on them, and we'll find success in our efforts.

To these two things, I would also add that we need to define success for ourselves rather than buying into other people's definitions of success.  A person can be a great singer and not be a star, coming out with a new album every year and giving concerts constantly.  Listen to Harry Chapin's "Mr. Tanner" sometime for a good example of a man who lost his love for music because he didn't live up to someone else's definition of "success."  And when he lost his love for music, he also lost a lot of happiness in his life.

Do you want to be successful?  You can be, and it's not all that hard if you go about it in the right ways.  When you make sure that what you do is helping others (even indirectly), and when you give all that you have to what you're doing, you can definitely be successful--whether other people recognize it or not.  Remember, your definition of success is up to you, so make sure that it's realistic and attainable, and something that will give you personal gratification.

 Quotations and passages on success

28 June 2018


Our best friend and our worst enemies are our thoughts.
A thought can do us more good than a doctor or a banker
or a faithful friend.  It can also do us more harm than a brick.
-Frank Crane

Boy, do I wish I could internalize this message more strongly and stop having all these negative, stressful thoughts!  I am much better at thinking in positive ways than I used to be, but this is a trait that I've had since childhood, and while I do my best to banish it from my life, it still hangs on, often keeping me in a very stressful state when there's really no reason to be stressing at all.

As I grow older, I do understand more the importance of thinking in positive, uplifting ways, especially having witnessed in my life so often the terrible ways that I feel when I'm thinking negatively.  It used to be that one negative incident, one setback, would get me to thinking of just how terrible life is, just how little hope there was for me to lead a happy and productive life, etc., etc., etc.

And this would go on for days sometimes, depending on the severity of the problem.

Nowadays, though, I realize that setbacks are just setbacks, and even more important, I realize that there's something positive to learn from every setback or problem that hits us in life.  I also realize that the way I react to setbacks is A) up to me, and B) one of the biggest determiners of how I feel about life and myself over the next few hours or days.  My thoughts can harm me, if I let them, but they also can lift me up and help me to transcend difficult moments and situations.

If you think you're a loser, you're going to act like one.  If you think that you're a kind, caring, compassionate human being who sometimes runs into setbacks, then guess what?  If you think that you're an unlikable person, then you're going to give other people very few reasons to like you.  If you think, though, that there's no reason at all not to like you, then others will respond to the confidence that your thoughts inspire.  Not everyone will like you, of course--there are people out there who dislike just about everyone for some reason or another, but that's okay.  You don't like everyone either, do you?

Take control of your thoughts and banish the negative ones when they show up.  Banish them by putting on a song that you love to dance to.  Banish them by reading a page or two of something positive that you love to read, or by watching a movie that lifts you up out of negative thoughts.  But keep on working on it, because this is a trait that hangs on, and that takes a lot of effort to work through.  I know, because I'm still working at it after decades of effort!

thoughts and quotes on positive thinking

24 June 2018


 Quotes and passages on today

You wake up in the morning, and lo! your purse is magically filled
with twenty-four hours of the unmanufactured tissue of the
universe of your life.  It is yours.  It is the most precious of
possessions.  No one can take it from you.  It is unstealable.
And no one receives either more or less than you receive.
Arnold Bennett

I have today--it's already here, and I'm alive and awake, so it's important that I celebrate the simple fact that I have today!

I don't need to make this the most special day of my life.  I don't need to do anything super special to make the day amazing.  There are so many things in my life that I love doing, many of which don't cost a cent, that I can string together to make today an amazing day in my life.  I can sit and read a good book for an hour or two; I can go for a walk and breathe the fresh air; I can make a cup of coffee and drink it slowly and quietly in some relaxed place--or in a nice cafe where I'm surrounded by people that I can watch and whose company I enjoy.

I can do a couple of the odd jobs that I've been meaning to do; I can cook a very nice lunch or dinner that doesn't have to be extravagant to be really good; I can call someone I love on the phone and talk for a while; I can watch an uplifting or exciting movie.

What I do with this day is completely up to me, of course.  If I have to work, then how I approach the tasks that I do is also up to me--I can approach them as challenges and try to do my best at all of them, or I can see them as drudgery and give them the bare minimum of my effort, thus ensuring that I won't find a lot of enjoyment in my work today.  And while at work, I can share my smile with my co-workers and colleagues, and I can encourage others with positive comments rather than criticize or even ignore them.

My today is just that:  my today.  Some unpleasantness may creep in here and there, but it's up to me how I deal with that--I don't have to let unpleasantness ruin my day, because I can just deal with it and move on.

You have your today, too.  I sincerely hope that you're able to make the very most of it, and that you're able to see it as the wonderful treasure that it truly is!


20 June 2018

A magical world

 Quotations and passages on magic

Disbelief in magic can force
a poor soul into believing in
government and business.
-Tom Robbins

It is a magical world, isn't it?  Unfortunately, many of us have lost our ability to see that magic, to enjoy it, to appreciate it.  We spend so much time looking for explanations that we often aren't able to experience the magic of the world--the shine of the rainbow, the smile of a child, the thrill that runs through us when we hear a hawk call or a baby laugh.

Our world is full of magic, yet we feel the need to explain it away, to pretend that it isn't magic because there's a scientific explanation behind it.  I usually don't care about the scientific explanations, though, because that's just so much information.  I know how rainbows come to be, but my knowledge of the process really means nothing when one is shining in the sky--it's an awe-inspiring sight, and if I acknowledge that awe and allow it to wash over me as it should, then the rainbow is an incredible experience.

When I'm walking through a forest or a park, I'm often surrounded by trees and plants that used to be minuscule seeds, and that are giving off oxygen as they breathe--the very thing that I need to sustain my life.  The person I'm talking to used to be a sperm and an egg, in two separate bodies, and her or his body is being controlled by electrical impulses that originate in the brain that allows for thought and logic and humor and so much more.

That house you live in?  If it's made of wood, it originated in a handful of seeds.  The water you drink that keeps you alive?  It consists of groupings of atoms that occur elsewhere, too, but that have somehow come together to become water.

That person likes you.  You like that other person.  Someone smiles at you and you feel good because of it.  We strike a match and we have flame.  There's so much magic in the world that the list would be far too long to write if I were to dedicate myself to it, so let's just accept the fact that the world is full of magic, keep our eyes open to see it and recognize it, and then appreciate it fully once we do know just what it is.

17 June 2018

Are we really separate from others?

 quotations and passages on oneness

No one is an island, entire of itself; everyone is a piece of Continent,
a part of the main; if a clod be washed away by the sea, Europe is
the less, as well as if a promontory were, as well as if a manor or thy
friends or of thine own were; any person's death diminishes me,
because I am involved in Humankind.   -
John Donne

We like to think of ourselves as islands, don't we?  We like to consider ourselves as unique, separate entities that really don't have any connection to our fellow human beings unless we decide to forge such a connection by talking to them, caring for them, being with them.  But we're way off base when we look at our realities this way, and we only have to look at the amazing amount of discord and stress and conflict in our world today to realize that we are causing this discord with our unfortunate tendency to consider ourselves as separate from everyone else.

We think it makes life easier for us if we maintain separation from others.  After all, we don't want to deal with everyone else's drama and problems and issues, and when someone starts getting annoying, it's easy to just cut off contact with that person.  But do we ever consider the possibility that so many people have issues and problems because of the ways that we separate ourselves from others?  Do we ever stop to think that perhaps acknowledging our oneness and our unity could be an important step towards healing many, many people of fear and anxiety that result from feelings of separation and isolation and aloneness?  Many or the current issues facing human beings are actually caused by our insistence on seeing ourselves as individuals rather than acknowledging our place as a part of the whole.

It's often difficult to focus on oneness and unity when so few others are doing so.  But it's not impossible.  We simply need to be willing to take a risk and love and care for others who may seem unlovable or unpleasant.  Loving them doesn't mean that we have to care for them as we care for a spouse or a child, but it does mean acknowledging their existence as human beings who are part of the same whole that we are--the human species, which is on this planet to live together and to share love, but which is actually living separately and refusing to share love with anyone other than their closest companions.

We are all part of one.  Why must we look at ourselves as separate when we are actually a whole, albeit a non-unified whole?

13 June 2018

The Best Policy?

We must make the world honest before we can honestly say to
our children that honesty is the best policy.

George Bernard Shaw

We live in a world in which people seem to have lost their desire to be honest.  Nowadays (and probably in the past, too), honesty is something that is practiced as long as it can benefit someone.  "I'll be honest if there's something to gain from it," seems to be the standard attitude towards the concept.  Advertisers will be honest as far as it serves them, but they'll leave out information that could be vital for me to make a good decision about whether to buy their goods or contract their services.  All in all, honesty seems to have become the black sheep of the family, the person that people deal with only if they absolutely have to, only when they might lose out on something if they don't.

Bit it's important that we don't lose our relationship with honesty.  It's one of the cornerstones of strong relationships, and when we practice it consistently, people know that they can depend on us, and that's something very valuable that we can give to others and to ourselves.  Honesty taken too far can be hurtful and damaging, of course, but we can recognize those situations ourselves and deal with them when they occur--for the most part, honesty definitely is important.

In our political and economic worlds of today, though, honesty has lost its luster.  The Internet is full of blatant lies that are designed only to harm others and to make someone feel better about his or her views.  And those lies are being spread constantly be people WHO KNOW THEY ARE LIES, but who feel that they validate their own beliefs and ideals.  But you and I don't have to do that.  You and I need to strengthen our relationship with the truth and learn about when the truth should be revealed, and when it shouldn't.  We shouldn't ever hide it for personal gain, but only to protect others--there are situations when complete honesty can be incredibly damaging.

We know who we are, and we know that we want to live our lives fully--and honesty is one of the most important aspects of the character that we must develop in order to do so.  Let honesty into your life--live it and love it and share it.  Let others know that you're someone who can be trusted, and they'll appreciate you for that.  Most of all, though, you'll be a bright light in a dark world, and one of the people responsible for keeping honesty alive during these dark times.

 quotations and passages on honesty