30 June 2017


It's really quite a shame when we feel so much fear of people who look different than us, who do things differently than we do, who speak in languages that are different from ours. It's a shame when we allow prejudices to dim our view of humanity, to make us dislike others simply because they have some differences from us. When we fear and dislike others, we lose. We lose opportunities to learn to see the world in different ways, to learn of varying perspectives, to understand how others feel and thus grow in compassion and love and acceptance. Our world is a very diverse place, and it does us no good at all to imagine that the only important views are the ones we grew up with, that the most acceptable people are the ones who share our skin color or our cultural norms and history. Our world needs people of all types to work together to try to forge solutions to our problems together, learning from each other as we go that there are different ways of seeing and doing things, and allowing people who are completely different from us in many ways to shape the ways that we see the world.

Let us be among the first to accept all of the people that God created as complete equals in all ways, and let us learn from each other. No fear, no prejudice, no anger, no hatred--just love, acceptance, and compassion.

Peace is not unity in similarity but unity in diversity,
in the comparison and conciliation of differences.

Mikhail Gorbachev

28 June 2017

Happiness is in the little things

Sometimes I get a bit frustrated when I see people try to create happiness in their lives by spending tons of money on big, beautiful, elaborate things. They have houses full of amazing pictures and furniture and appliances, and big new cars in the garage, yet they still feel dissatisfied, they still feel that what they have isn't enough. And that feeling comes, of course, because they still don't feel happy. They've tried to find their happiness in things, but that's not where happiness resides. Happiness is found in us, in our ability to be satisfied with what's there for us, and not be dissatisfied by what's not there. Happiness isn't comparative, it's individual. I won't be happier if I have a nicer lawn than my neighbors, but I can find happiness in tending to the lawn with love and care and attention. Happiness is in the ways that we approach life, not in the ways that we control life or manipulate our environments or try to control circumstances or people. I want to be happy with a good book and a healthy meal that was easy to cook and that tastes great and some good music playing. The nap in the afternoon is much nicer to me than many other things ever will be. I can't look for happiness in the big things or the things that I think will impress others, but I can find it in those little things that are with me every day.

Buried deep in the maze of commonplace, the pearl of
true happiness lies.  And those who rejoice in little things,
find the pathway that leads to the prize.

Lucy M. Thompson

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!