28 October 2015

From "Eyes Wide Open"

I sometimes ask myself if on a given day or at a given moment I'm contributing to the positive energy of the world, or if I'm contributing to the negative energy.  Are my words or actions causing someone else to be angry and defensive and frustrated, or are my words and actions helping someone to feel more calm and at peace?  Of course, any time I make this judgment I'm just taking a guess, but I'm pretty sure that I can come close to the right answer if I follow some simple rules for my own behavior, rules that will help me to make things better for others, rather than adding to their challenges.  They're a pretty simple set of don't's and do's, and here they are:

Don't criticize and find fault; do encourage and find the positive.  This way, I won't be creating negative feelings in others, and I may be adding to their self-confidence.

Don't let fear determine my actions; do act from my heart doing what I know is right.  This way, I'll be living a more authentic life and facing risks that will make me stronger by dealing with them head-on.

Don't be quick to judge; do try to find out more about a particular person, story, or incident.  This way, my actions and attitudes will come from a place of knowing, not of reacting, and I'll be much more fair in dealing with everyone; my fairness can't help but help any situation in which it's called into play.

Don't focus on what may happen in the future; do focus on what's happening now and what I can do about it.  We have only the present moment, and I know from experience that my actions now based on possible future problems are often wastes of my time, for those problems tend not to materialize, as they're figments of my imagination, creations of my fear.

Don't hold on to anger and resentment; do work hard to let go of these things and focus more on the positive.  This way, my interior life will be more relaxed and more balanced, and I won't eat myself up from the inside out for things that are completely beyond my control.  I know plenty of people who refuse to let go of things, and they make themselves miserable while the people around them just shake their heads and say "What a shame."

Don't take the easy way out by doing things that I know aren't right.  I may need money, but stealing it is wrong.  I may have made a mistake, but hiding it will only make matters worse later.  Do try to do what's right and best at all times.  This way, I'm giving myself a chance to have more positive things in my future, rather than setting myself up for having to pay for my mistakes.

Don't try to build myself up by breaking or keeping other people down.  Do try to build up others at all times.  This way, I'm helping to develop strong, courageous people all around me.

Don't give up as soon as things look tough or bleak, and don't give in to discouragement.  Do persevere when I believe that it's important to see something through to its end.  When I do this, I'm not doing something that will make me feel weak or useless later, and I am doing something that will benefit me in the long run.

Don't try to do everything myself.  Do ask for and accept help when it makes sense to do so.  If I do this, I'll help myself by learning from those who help me, and I'll help others by letting them help me--I know it's helping them because of how good I feel when I'm able to help someone else.

I'm very sure that there are more ways that I can brighten my world by avoiding certain actions and following through on others.  What I find most important, though, is simply to be aware that there are certain things that I shouldn't be doing if I wanted to live a happy and fulfilling life; and I can make my day and my world a bit brighter by doing the "opposite" of those things.  And every little bit of light that we can bring into this world will be helpful to everyone in the long run.


26 October 2015


If I could give a gift to everyone, it would have to be discernment.  I'd give that gift so that people could be able to see whether things are good for them or bad for them before they actually do them.  This gift would allow people to realize that some of the things they want in life are actually harmful, and it would allow them to see just how positive it would be to do some of the things that they don't really want to do.

Of course, with discernment would also have to come the strength to make the appropriate decision.  That dessert looks good, but I'm going to pass on it because I've already eaten enough.  I have the chance to have an affair, but I'm not going to do it because of the inevitable harm that it will cause.  This person is offering me an interesting business chance, but it doesn't seem quite right, so I'm not going to involve myself in it.

If we all could develop this pair of talents--discernment and decision-making--we could turn our lives into something completely different.  We could free up time to pursue the positive things that we do and develop our skills and talents and passions, instead of dealing with the fallout that has come from our poor decisions.  We wouldn't be spending so much time trying to repair relationships and situations that we've harmed, so we could spend that time doing things that we love.

Discernment isn't taught very well at all in our society--in fact, it's actively discouraged by the people who are paying for advertising to try to get us to pay them for their goods or services.  But it is something that we can learn and develop on our own, and if we do so, we can fill our lives with many more positive experiences, while avoiding much of the negative garbage that we so often cause ourselves.  It's worth looking into--how well do you discern between choices?  And what could you do to improve that skill?

23 October 2015

Dealing with My Beliefs

Everything that happens to you is a reflection of what you believe about yourself.  We cannot outperform our level of self-esteem.  We cannot draw to ourselves more than we think we are worth.    -Iyanla Vanzant

I'm working on my beliefs.  I've been going through life with a set of limiting beliefs ever since childhood--I inherited them from my parents, and I haven't been able to fully change them yet.  I've always believed that good things are for other people, that prosperity is something that won't happen to me, that someone else is going to get that job or that promotion.  And sometimes, because I believe these things, they actually come to pass.  Not always, but often.  So it's up to me to change my beliefs if I really want my life to change.

Don't worry--I'm not blindly believing everything I read from self-help gurus.  I don't think that there's any magic potion or wand that's going to change my whole life immediately.  My new belief--the belief that my beliefs are holding me back--comes from observation and thought, experience and reflection.  I've noticed that people who believe certain things tend to think in certain ways that make those beliefs come true.  If someone believes that he or she doesn't deserve to have a loving, caring, considerate spouse, then guess what?  That person is going to tend to feel suspicious when he or she meets a loving, caring, and considerate person, and isn't going to feel comfortable with the relationship; very often, that person will sabotage the relationship--even subconsciously--in order to perpetuate the belief.  And then, when that person meets someone else who isn't kind and caring, they'll gravitate towards that person because he or she "fits" the belief, and is someone who's more in line with what they feel they "deserve."

People who believe that they're not good enough for certain jobs often sabotage themselves at interviews by saying things that kill their chances to be hired.  Later, they'll say things like "I have no idea why I said that."

I don't want to be like that.  Not anymore.  So I'm going to work on my beliefs.  I am worthy.  I am caring and loving.  I am deserving of good things.  Hell, I'm even a beautiful person.

I'm going to be realistic and not expect immediate and drastic changes.  But I'm also going to be realistic and expect changes.  Most of those changes will come from me, but many of them will come from the ways that other people treat me as I internalize my beliefs, and begin to act based on my new beliefs.  But eventually, I'll be like a new person, one who trusts in life and living and God, and one who lives my life in positive and caring ways.  And one who believes that he is worthwhile, and who expects to be treated as such.

17 October 2015

The Strength of Discouragement

There are those people in the world who seem to think that things like discouragement are possible to banish from our lives, that it's somehow possible to go through life never feeling down, never feeling any negative feelings at all.  With all due respect to them, I'm sure that there are people on this planet whose brains never take them to a place at which they're discouraged, who do always feel positive.  But those people are quite rare, and their ability to think positively a gift that truly is remarkable.

The rest of us, though, face feelings like discouragement rather regularly.  And those feelings are strong.  It's incredibly difficult to save money for months in order to do something important, only to have the car break down, with the repair bill wiping out the savings.  It's very hard to search for a long time for work, only to be rejected time and time again.  There are so many situations in which discouragement is a factor that it's sometimes amazing that we don't feel it more than we do.

When it comes, it's incredibly strong.  Discouragement is so strong that it can cause other feelings to emerge, such as sadness, frustration, hopelessness, even depression.  It would be silly for us to deny the strength of discouragement, but it would also be very positive for us to think about what we can do when the feelings shows up in our lives.

When I get discouraged, the most important thing that I can do is to try to get a positive sense of perspective on the situation.  Something may be going wrong over and over again, but there are still many things going right--my discouragement often is a result of focusing only on the one or two things going wrong, while ignoring those things that are going right.  Of course I'm going to feel discouragement if I focus only on what's going wrong--that's the only thing I could feel.  So when I get discouraged, I try to remind myself that the area of discouragement is only one area of my life, and there are others that also deserve my attention.

Another thing that helps me work through discouragement is remembering lessons that I've learned from others.  The simple saying, "This, too, shall pass," is one of the most important sayings that I've ever heard, and it has helped me through many a difficult moment--because I truly believe it.  Months or weeks from now, the discouragement that I'm feeling today will be naught but a memory.  One of the reasons that I love quotations is because they give me lessons that are important to me.  When I'm discouraged, I can read short lessons about hope, perseverance, action, perspective, courage, and even discouragement, and realize that others have gone through situations much more trying than mine, and have come out fine.

If I'm discouraged about money, I need to find some sort of action that I can take to deal with money issues.  Perhaps for a certain time I'll lose my free time in order to work--as long as it's not permanent, it doesn't bother me at all to give up something in order to deal with other issues.  There are times when compromise is very important, and if it means that I need to take an extra job to deal with the discouragement, then I'll do so.  If I'm discouraged about relationships, then I need to re-evaluate my relationships and decide which ones are healthy, which are unhealthy, and which are neither, and give up those that are unhealthy while either strengthening or giving up those that are neither.  If I'm discouraged about my job, perhaps it's time to look for another one, or to look for another line of work entirely.

Discouragement is strong, and it's often difficult to deal with.  But it's not the end of the world, unless we allow it to be so.  When discouragement strikes you, strike back at it.  Don't wallow in it.

Develop success from failures.  Discouragement and failure
are two of the surest stepping stones to success.

07 October 2015

Limitations or Possibilities?

Sometimes it's kind of sad to see just how early our young people learn to focus on limitations rather than possibilities.  We had a discussion in class (college freshmen) recently, and one of the students brought up a very interesting and realistic possibility--only to have several other students immediately shoot down her idea with a long list of limitations.  "It would be nice, but other people would ruin it"; "That would never work in our society because. . ."; "That can't be done because. . . ."  And when I asked them why they responded immediately with limitations, they said that one has to be aware of limitations in order to be able to overcome them.

The effect of their limitations, though, would have been to squelch the idea immediately--there would have been no chance to try to make the idea work, for they would have come to the conclusion that "That will never work."

When I graduated from college, I bought a one-way ticket to Europe--I went to Spain.  People thought that I was crazy.  I had no money, no job, no possibilities that I knew of.  But I felt in my heart that I could make it work.  I ended up staying in Europe for three years, and I came back actually having a bit of money saved from my three years there.  If I had listened to the people who spoke only of the limitations of my plan, I never would have gone.  Instead, I spent two years in Spain and one year in Germany, and I learned two more languages in addition to Spanish.  It was all possible because I didn't spend time focused on the limitations and the "impossibilities"; rather, I got there and I started immediately doing everything I could to make things work.

Do we teach our young people to focus on the possibilities and potential available to them, or do we fill their minds with limits and reasons not to try things?  And if we fill their minds with limits, are we even giving them the slightest chance to succeed in things that they want to do?  Or are we shutting them down before they even start to make the effort to make things happen?

And what are we doing to ourselves if we focus only on limits?  Are we even giving ourselves the chance to succeed if all we consider are limitations and potential barriers?  Yes, it is important to look at barriers and adversity and figure out ways to deal with them--but we cannot let them be our major focus.  If we do, we give them far too much strength.

And if we give them too much strength--more than they really have--they will keep us from moving ahead and taking chances that now seem far too risky to us.

05 October 2015

A Few Thoughts on Community

The American city should be a collection of communities where every member has a right to belong.  It should be a place where every person feels safe on his or her streets and in the house of his or her  friends.  It should be a place where each individual's dignity and self-respect is strengthened by the respect and affection of his or her neighbors.  It should be a place where each of us can find the satisfaction and warmth which comes from being a member of the community of human beings.  This is what people sought at the dawn of civilization.  It is what we seek today.     -Lyndon B. Johnson

* * * * *

We are all citizens of one world, we are all of one blood.  To hate people because they were born in another country, because they speak a different language, or because they take a different view on this subject or that, is a great folly.  Desist, I implore you, for we are all equally human. . . . Let us have but one end in view:  the welfare of humanity.     -Johann Amos Comenius

* * * * *

We are responsible for one another.  Collectively so.  The world is a joint effort.  We might say it is like a giant puzzle, and each one of us is a very important and unique part of it.  Collectively, we can unite and bring about a powerful change in the world.  By working to raise our awareness to the highest possible level of spiritual understanding, we can begin to heal ourselves, then each other and the world.     -Betty Eadie

 Quotes and passages on community

01 October 2015

Some thoughts on happiness

I want to be happy; you want to be happy, too.  And all of the people that we see each day--guess what?  They want to be happy, also.  We can contribute to the positive side of their world by offering them a smile and some positive words, or we can contribute to the negative side of their world by criticizing and speaking in anger or hatred.  But those are merely contributions.

Their own happiness depends upon their own perspectives--about what they see to be true, what the accept and what they let go of, what they desire and what they have.  While my negative words may hurt them, their happiness shouldn't be affected by my words.  I should be able to stay happy no matter what someone else says or does.  My happiness is in my own hands and my own heart.

Here are a few passages that address the concept of happiness.  Perhaps they can light a light inside of you that will allow you to see your happiness and feel it completely!

If we want to know what happiness is we must seek it, not as if
it were a pot of gold at the end of the rainbow, but among
human beings who are living richly and fully the good life.
If you observe really happy people you will find them
building a boat, writing a symphony, educating their children,
growing double dahlias in their gardens, or looking for
dinosaur eggs in the Gobi desert. They will not be searching
for happiness as if it were a collar button that has rolled
under the radiator. They will not be striving for it as a goal
in itself. They will have become aware that they are happy
in the course of living life twenty-four crowded hours of the day.
To find happiness we must seek for it in a focus outside ourselves.

W. Beran Wolfe

* * * * *
We may think that happiness is a result of happy circumstances.
A more mature view of happiness is that it is a by-product of
sharing our good and serving others.  It is a sense of doing a
job well, honest communication with another, visiting someone
who may be ill, or sharing a sense of humor.  Happiness is a
spiritual principle that we can lay hold of and use, regardless
of outer conditions or circumstances.
It isn't necessary to wait for circumstances to bring happiness.
When we try to give it to others, it returns to us multiplied.  We
can make our own joy, and let it act upon circumstances!  One
of the great paradoxes of truth is that a happy heart draws to
itself what it needs for happiness.

John Marks Templeton

* * * * *
As long as our self-identification centers around what we call the real
world, no profound happiness is possible.  Happiness requires that we
give up a worldly orientation--not worldly things but a worldly
attachment to things.  We have to surrender all outcomes.  We have
to live here but appreciate the joke.
   In order to become happy, we must become bigger than the worldly
self. . . . Just as children play games in which they pretend to be adults,
and thus pave the way for adulthood, so you and I must pretend to be
angelic, noble, enlightened spirits just visiting here,
in order to actually become them.

Marianne Williamson

Please have a great day!