Daily Thoughts


May 12, 2017

Accept the Challenge
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Photo by Sebastien Gabriel, Unsplash

 

“Challenges are gifts that force us to search for a new center of gravity. Don’t fight them. Just find a different way to stand.” –Oprah Winfrey

 

I don’t know about you, but I love a challenge. There’s something incredibly energizing about the possibility of tackling the unknown, applying my strengths, overcoming my weaknesses and acquiring skills.

It wasn’t always this way for me. I recall a time in my 20s when everything was dark. I was in a low place emotionally, mentally and at times, physically. I sought and received professional counseling to help lift me from my unhappy state, to find meaning, make better decisions and find the joy in everyday life.

None of this happened overnight. It took work, determination and hope. What I learned was that I’m capable of much more than I believe, that just because there’s an obstacle or roadblock doesn’t make it a negative. Perhaps most important was that I learned to trust myself, to embrace life with all its challenges, and to view challenge as both positive and life-affirming.

Today, I welcome what’s new. Yes, sometimes the unknown is scary, confusing and uncertain. That’s life. It beats the alternative. When life is over, you have no second chances to do it right. All you have is here and now. It’s up to each of us to make the most of each moment, to regard challenges as yet another step on the learning path of life, and to be ready, willing and able to accept the challenge presented.

It could be that starting over, deciding on an innovative approach, enlisting the help of others, doing a thorough self-search and analysis of strengths and weaknesses, examining motives and declaring that you’re up for the task is what it takes. Whatever way works best for you, employ that.

Remember, the first step is to accept the challenge. Then, keep going.

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Daily Thoughts


April 8, 2017

Home Is Your Safe Place
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Photo by Arno Smit/Unsplash

“The ache for home lives in all of us, the safe place where we can go as we are and not be questioned.” – Maya Angelou

 

What makes home your safe place? Is it a feeling of comfort that nothing can destroy? Is it knowing that this is the place where you can be yourself at all times without fear of criticism or envy? Could the fact that nothing has changed there for most of your life be a factor? Do your emotional ties to home be the overriding consideration?

In reality, home is all these things and more. It’s also true that home needs to be a safe place in order to really be a home. Otherwise, it’s just a house, an abode, resting place or an in-between stop.

When you come home you feel like you can shed the troubles and pressures of the day. Whatever happened on the commute, that worrisome project you couldn’t finish on time, the string of complaint calls you took – all that can fade away as you walk through the door to your sanctuary, your home. No one can invade your safe space. This is your carefully nurtured and maintained castle where you can live as you please.

At least, that’s what home should be. For many, however, home is much different. Instead of embracing it as their safe place and doing everything possible to nourish and protect it, they allow daily stresses and worries to follow them across the threshold. Now, instead of feeling free to go as they are and not be questioned, they feel the weight of those troubles on their shoulders, questioning themselves in the process and never feeling the healing balm of their sacred, safe space.

Make home your safe place as it truly deserves to be. Lay aside the daily grind and welcome the opportunity to return to this familiar and embracing place. It’s safe here. It’s where you belong. No matter where you travel or how far away you are, home always beckons. It’s the safe place you know you can always come back to, to refresh, replenish, revitalize and renew.

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Daily Thoughts


April 4, 2017

Lighten Up!
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Photo by Meiying Ng/Unsplash

“It is easy to be heavy; hard to be light.” – G. K. Chesterton

 

When things go wrong, it’s understandable to feel bad. Not everything will go smoothly, especially the first time out or when you’re undertaking a difficult, time-consuming project. After a few disappointments or setbacks, however, it’s also easy for seriousness and negativity to weigh heavily on your mind and color both your outlook and your actions.

This heaviness isn’t the same thing as objectivity. It’s also not seeing things the way that are and trying to determine the best way to deal with them. While more of an emotional pull, heaviness can wreak havoc on the quality of your life. Furthermore, it can become a habit.

The opposite of heaviness is lightness. The reference here is to lightness of spirit, to not taking things too seriously and not taking yourself so serious. But while it’s easy to be heavy, being light may take some practice. It’s not always second nature.

How can you teach yourself to be light? One technique I’ve always found effective is to think about how this situation will look and feel 10 years from now or even one year from today. Will it still be as important and detrimental to my personal or professional well-being as it seems right now? Will I be able to remember it at all or will it, like so many other fleeting concerns simply vanish?

Another part of this technique is to try to recall what I obsessed over last year at this time. What kept me up at night, caused me endless worry and doubt over my own abilities and self-worth? Chances are, I won’t be able to recall anything specific. If I can, I likely can also remember what I did to overcome it.

Lightening up probably had a lot to do with it.

Not only do everyday bothers and concerns seem a little less onerous when you have a good laugh, you’re also better able to figure out some potentially workable solutions. At the very least, you feel better. And that leads to a lightening of spirit, more clear-headedness, increased optimism and more enjoyment of life.

The stand-by choices for how to lighten up include:

  • Watching a comedy
  • Sharing or listening to a good joke
  • Spending time with loved ones and friends doing things you enjoy
  • Eliminating non-essential tasks so you free up some time for yourself
  • Prioritizing tasks so that your time is well-spent and you feel good about the things you do accomplish
  • Asking for help when you need it
  • Recognizing that you don’t need to be perfect; you just need to do the best you can
  • Counting your blessings and being grateful for the opportunities you have today

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Daily Thoughts


March 26, 2017

A Good Way to Wake Up
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Photo by Morre Christophe/Unsplash

“When you get up in the morning, let your first thoughts be directed towards God.” – Amma

 

You go to sleep at night and wake up in the morning, repeating this ritual every single day. Sometimes, when you retire for the evening your mind is filled with a whirlwind of conflicting thoughts, distractions and problems and all you want is to escape for a few hours of restful sleep so that you can awake the next morning somewhat refreshed and ready to tackle the day anew. Sometimes it isn’t that difficult and everything’s gone smoothly and you lay your head down feeling at peace.

Waking up is another time of potential turmoil – dread at what’s to happen today, fear over not making the right decisions, confusion about what to do when and where and much more. There is, however, a better way to greet the new day: Take a few moments and think about your Higher Power. If you aren’t religious, think about your spirit. If you are religious, say a prayer or immerse your first conscious moments in thoughts of the God as you know Him.

What benefit can this provide? For those who are proponents of meditation or mindfulness, thinking of your Higher Power is one way to do that. Finding peace, a respite from strife, distractions, fear, confusion, doubt and other compelling and nagging emotions is possible during this brief period of quiet before getting up and addressing the day.

Indeed, among the many ways you could arise from the bed, taking the time to think about God must rank among the most proactive. You set the stage for the day with a blessing. You fill your mind with positive thoughts. You create a peaceful and proactive ritual in which to begin your day. These are all benefits that can add value to your life – especially when you know you’ve got a mountain of problems to face or need strength and guidance to make the right decisions.

What keeps many people from doing this is a mistaken belief that there’s only a certain way to think about God. There isn’t. However, you envision your Higher Power, just talk in your own words. It doesn’t have to be a formal prayer at all. The simple act of directing your thoughts to God is sufficient. Allow this to take over for a brief period – and then get up and go about your day.

You’ll be the better for it and will feel more settled and able to tackle what comes. While you may not have all the answers, you will be better able to navigate, knowing that you’ve got a power and presence behind you that’s above and beyond all human travail.

 

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Daily Thoughts


March 13, 2017

Dealing With Pressure
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Photo by Guy Bowden/Unsplash

The only pressure I’m under is the pressure I’ve put on myself.” – Mark Messier

 

You know the feeling right away when pressure builds up. Your chest feels tight and you can’t breathe. Your thoughts and your heart may be racing. You get a knot in the pit of your stomach. You may even feel a headache or migraine coming on. Not only that but you also start clipping your words, speaking in escalating tones to get your point across or vent your frustration, or becoming inordinately quiet because you can’t find the right words to say or don’t want to say anything. Everyone experiences pressure. And everyone can benefit from more effective ways to deal with it.

What most people don’t realize is that they heap an enormous amount of pressure on themselves. Others aren’t responsible for this burdensome load – we are. If we didn’t pile it on repeatedly we’d probably feel less constricted, miserable and unfulfilled. It’s just that we have such high expectations for ourselves or constantly put ourselves in situations where we’re bound to get in over our heads – and feel the pressure to succeed despite knowing we can’t.

Why not reduce some of that burden? Take a few items off the to-do list and concentrate on doing those that have some reasonable likelihood of getting done with a focused effort? That way, at least something productive will result that you can feel good about. It’s also true that several small tasks completed will add up to a feeling of accomplishment just as much as putting the finishing touches on a large and/or complicated or complex task, project, undertaking, effort or pursuit.

Sometimes, though, we need a little self-prodding to overcome procrastination and get down to business. In this respect, a small amount of self-induced pressure is a good thing – if we do something about it and don’t allow the pressure to carry over day after day without tending to the job we need to do.

How do you know when pressure is just enough and not too much? Pressure is OK when it doesn’t cause you to lose sleep, get sick to your stomach, to lash out at others, to try to cope with self-destructive behavior like drinking too much, gambling, doing drugs or some other addictive-leaning activity. If you recognize that you are the one applying the pressure and know that it’s for a limited-duration, short-term task or project, it might be just fine.

Where you don’t want to land is in a state of perpetual pressure. That’s highly detrimental to your overall physical, emotional and psychological well-being. When pressure builds up, take some time to release some of it. Go for a walk outside. Have coffee with a friend. Take in a movie or read a good book. Get some extra sleep. Indulge in a massage. Engage in vigorous physical exercise. These are all healthy ways to release unwanted pressure and to feel reinvigorated and refreshed afterward.

 

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Daily Thoughts


March 5, 2017

Give Yourself the Power to Be
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Photo by Anders Jilden/Unsplash

“We can only be what we give ourselves the power to be.” – Native American proverb

 

What’s limiting you today? Is it some preconceived notion that you don’t deserve to succeed, a fear that you’re not good enough or smart enough to accomplish a goal? If you stop short of pursuing a dream, you’re giving in to fear. The fact that you have the power to give yourself permission to go after what you want – despite any and all obstacles – should help eradicate the fear. Why, then, is it so difficult to grant such permission?

Maybe it’s because we remember the sting of loss, the pain we felt when we came up short in a previous attempt. Maybe we were never praised as a child for our creativity, persistence, unique ability to find solutions to problems, or other attributes most often associated with success. Deprived of the encouragement that nourishes self-confidence and boosts self-esteem, is it any wonder that we feel destined to trudge through life in the slow lane?

It doesn’t have to be this way. You can reassert your self-power and claim your rightful place at the receiving end of accomplishments. Start by assessing your strengths. What you do well is an excellent beginning point. Suppose, for example, that you’re an excellent conversationalist, able to persuade others. This is a highly-prized ability that you can use to your advantage. In this instance, start by giving yourself a pep talk. List all the reasons why you should succeed and highlight the times that you did. See? You do have what it takes after all. So, whatever is currently holding you back can be overcome. You just need to take it one day and one step at a time.

If the problem is that you have no goals, now is the time to start thinking about what you want your life to be, what you’d like to accomplish during your time on earth. Allow yourself the freedom to dream big. No self-censoring. Nothing should be off limits. With everything possible in this goal creation exercise, creativity will naturally take over. You may start with a simple goal that then leads to an offshoot interest. Doing research into a particular goal on your list can bring to light other avenues you can pursue.

The idea is to generate enthusiasm and drive motivation to go after whatever it is you want to be. You alone possess the power to do this. Others can encourage your drive, but it’s you that has to take the action. You can indeed be what you give yourself the power to be.

 

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Daily Thoughts


February 20, 2017

Celebrate Life's Little Things and Moments
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Photo by Vashistha Jogi/Unsplash

“The little things? The little moments? They aren’t little.” – Jon Kabat Zinn

 

Far too many times we fail to notice the little things in life. We tend to only be on the lookout for something major, of huge importance, mistakenly believing that only those moments count.

That’s a bit shortsighted, but we can correct it.

The truth is that there’s no such thing as a “little” little thing or moment. Every moment is precious and can never be repeated. This is the essence of mindfulness, of living in and being supremely aware of the present. Consider that life is a gift, one that we only have for a comparatively short period. As such, no moment should be squandered, either by wallowing in painful memories or agonizing over future developments or sitting idly by and doing nothing today.

As human beings, we need to act. It’s not quite like the shark that must keep moving or die – not literally, anyway – but we do need to act to fulfill our full potential and realize the happiness we seek in life. Make that realize our happiness, for happiness isn’t a way of life, but life itself.

Think about waking up with your favorite pet, a dog or cat, jumping up on the bed, licking, pawing, purring, and trying to urge you to pay attention. This is an invitation to get up and celebrate life, to live life to the fullest in the here and now. Your pet doesn’t care what day it is or how much money you make, only that you show your affection and be there for him. It may seem like a little thing, not consequential in the scheme of daily living, but it is a moment to celebrate. And, as with other little moments, it may be gone one day and all you’ll have is the memory of it.

Celebrating the little things is easy enough to do. It doesn’t require an expenditure of money or take a lot of time. A simple acknowledgement of the little thing, the little moment is enough. This serves to bring your mind back to the present and allows you the opportunity to give thanks for this precious gift.

If daily distractions and critical assignments or conflicting duties take you off center and propel you into a tailspin, take a deep breath. Close your eyes, even if briefly, and acknowledge the gift of life. Remember that every single moment you are alive is precious. These little moments are big things, after all. Be thankful for every one of them.

 

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Daily Thoughts


January 29, 2017

What's Your Potential?
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Photo by Jordan Whitfield/Unsplash

“Life is like a ten-speed bicycle. Most of us have gears we never use.”—Charles M. Schulz

 

Let’s be clear about something that most of us do quite regularly: We aren’t living up to our potential. It isn’t that we don’t want to, for the most part, but that we subconsciously shortchange ourselves by somehow sabotaging our chances to go beyond what feels comfortable and secure. The good news is that there’s something we can do about this.

But it involves hard work.

Tapping into potential is one way to get started using more of what we’re capable of than we have been accessing. This means we should let go of preconceived notions of what we can and cannot do. It means opening the doors of the mind to entertain the possibility of branching out, discovering what we’re made of and what we can learn to do.

And we all can learn to do so much more than our current skill set seems to dictate. The key is to believe that we can do more and then put together a plan on how to achieve that knowledge and skill.

Another key point to keep in mind is that no should never be the go-to response.

When someone asks if you want to tackle a difficult project, perhaps one that is a bit out of your immediate experience, instead of replying that you can’t take this on, offer to help to the best of your ability. The fact that you have some skills is likely one reason you were asked in the first place. Perhaps that person values your creativity, judgment, passion and determination to see tasks through despite all hurdles encountered along the way. This is a testament to abilities others believe you possess – even if you don’t think you have them.

Be like a child and engage your sense of wonder when staring at the unknown. Look at life as a series of unending opportunities for advancing knowledge and gaining valuable experience.

Yes, there will be bumps in the road and not every path will be clearly visible. That adds to the excitement.

Adopt a spirit of adventure and let those gears start flying. You’ll discover there’s a lot more to you than you’ve ever given yourself credit for. Not only that, but life will be so much more exciting. What’s your potential? While there may be a lot you don’t know about yourself and your abilities, one thing is certain: Now is the best time to start finding out.

 

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Daily Thoughts


January 28, 2017

Take Chances, Make Mistakes
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Photo by Dana Critchlow/Unsplash

“Take chances, make mistakes. That’s how you grow. Pain nourishes your courage. You have to fail in order to practice being brave.” – Mary Tyler Moore

 

For millions of viewers, the Mary Tyler Moore show was one TV sitcom not to be missed. I confess to being one of them. The actress embodied zest, love of life, courage and intelligence. She was someone to welcome into the living room, whether one was dealing with cranky kids, an unsatisfying job, lousy finances or a bout with the flu.

I also think that she provided inspiration to countless girls and young women, demonstrating what courage and determination look like in real life.

When we hear someone say it’s OK to take chances, to take reasonable risks, and to go forth without fear of making mistakes, it’s easy to pass this off as the buzzwords of the day. Yet, there’s a great deal of wisdom in the advice.

For one thing, if you never take a chance, you’ll never have the opportunity to grow. You don’t learn if you don’t make a mistake. That’s the other part of growth that many people miss.

Granted, no one likes to feel pain. In fact, we go out of our way to avoid it. We use alcohol, drugs, gambling, casual sexual encounters, eating more than we should, spending too much instead of saving, all sorts of compensatory (and sometimes addictive) behavior. Pain, however, has a useful purpose. It forces us to reckon with what matters. When it’s distilled to its essence, pain can promote growth.

We learn, for example, that allowing ourselves to be a doormat for someone we care about to trample is not beneficial to our well-being. While it may take heartache and break-up to make this painful realization, we’ve learned a profound lesson in the process. Taking tentative first steps toward independence, standing up for ourselves and venturing out to make a better life takes courage. That courage often stems from pain. It’s the resolve to do something better, to make the tough choices, that spurs us forward.

This isn’t to say we should suffer in silence, or wallow in suffering. Neither of those is good or will produce any lasting good effect. Do, however, note the root of the pain and sadness, so you can do something proactive to get past it, deal with it, go on living your life.

If you flub a presentation at work, resolve to be better prepared next time. Envision the satisfaction you’ll feel when you see the smiles of approval and hear the congratulatory remarks on a job well done. That’s both feeling and learning from the mistake and the pain, turning them into more satisfactory results on your next attempt.

If you go for broke on a big idea and it falls flat, acknowledge the mistake and analyze what and where you went wrong. This careful analysis will bear profitable fruit on your next project, task or endeavor. There are lessons to be learned. You need to learn them.

Bottom line: don’t be afraid to make a mistake. In fact, welcome the opportunity that comes from learning from it. The only way to grow is to keep moving forward, after, of course, benefiting from the lessons your mistakes taught you.

 

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Daily Thoughts


January 27, 2017

Find Your Something Special
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Photo by Jazmin Quaynor/Unsplash

“Everybody’s capable of something rather special – whatever it may be.” – Vanessa Redgrave

 

We like to think we’re unique – and we are. No one else has quite the same combination as we do, although they may come close. Even identical twins are unique, possessing slightly different characteristics, albeit ones that others may struggle to discern. Knowing that we are unique, however, doesn’t prevent us from feeling ordinary, especially when it comes to our talents and abilities. We want to be special, but we’re afraid we’re not.

The truth is that talents often wait to be discovered. It may take years to figure out that we’re excellent at navigating trails in the wilderness, have an aptitude for math, are proficient at interior design, possess the gift of always being a good conversationalist or any of a thousand other things.

Some abilities we even take for granted, like being able to recall names or phone numbers, memorizing material for school or work, having excellent vision, great stamina, an insatiable curiosity, being able to sing effortlessly.

Other talents and abilities we must work to develop, once we identify those that we want to master or nurture. Impatience is not our friend when it comes to building upon the interest or desire to learn this or that skill, amass a wealth of knowledge about a subject, or make good decisions based upon solid preparation.

So how do we find that something special that we’re good at, love to do and can’t wait to be involved in? As with most things that are worthwhile, take the time to do it right. Start slow by investigating what’s of interest, what stimulates and excites, what you’re eager to discuss and what you really want to share with others. Begin with small steps, not rushing in and trying to build the pyramid without first laying down the base. When difficulties ensue, or it seems too complicated or hard to figure out, instead of giving up, take a breather. Allow yourself time to mull it over. You’ll be surprised what your subconscious can do. Then go back to the activity with renewed vigor.

When will you know what your something special is? There’s no doubt that you will know immediately. Your something special is that which seems effortless and natural, fills you with joy, and causes others to notice and comment on and sing your praises to others. Most of all, your something special makes it feel good to be alive.

 

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Daily Thoughts


January 26, 2017

Can Others Take Your Joy?
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Photo by Seth Willingham/Unsplash

“Never let anyone steal your joy. Life is too precious to waste on negative people.” – Nishan Panwar

 

I recently heard from a LinkedIn contact, Chris Pugh, Rocket Mortgage expert, about an issue that some may find familiar.

Chris writes: “I have one from pers[onal] exp. Is it wise to invest finding joy in another person or within yourself? When people leave, they can take your joy with them? Now you are lost....... You can never leave yourself behind.”

I think this is a great topic. My belief is that you invest joy in yourself. No one can take it with them when they leave. When you live in joy, finding appreciation in the little things in life, in your accomplishments, pursuing your dreams, making full use of your talents and abilities, you grow your self-confidence, boost your self-esteem and realize that you are whole and complete as you are. This is joy and vibrancy in living.

But what do you do when you’ve already invested heavily in finding joy with someone other than yourself and they leave? Are you destined to remain bereft, lost, depressed, without purpose forever? What can you do to alleviate these powerful emotions and get back in resonance with yourself?

First, find someone you can talk honestly with about your feelings. This may be a loved one, a close friend, a spiritual advisor, or a counselor or therapist. If you are seriously depressed after the joy source of your life leaves, professional counseling may be the wisest initial choice. What you’ll learn rather quickly is that you are not alone in these types of feelings. Being lost, without direction, lacking the desire or ability to smile and be present in the moment is a painful experience that many have dealt with.

Second, be grateful for all the things that you have: your health, a home, a job or career you find satisfying, good friends, money in the bank. Besides being things most people would consider the mark of success, they’re also hallmarks of a joyful and productive life. While you may be in the throes of some emotional pain and loss now, expressing your gratitude for the good things you have in life will help center you and firm up your foundation.

Third, start making plans. What do you most enjoy doing? Make a plan that includes that activity. Do you have a desire to travel? Start mapping out destinations and gathering information on the area. Is there a skill, hobby or recreational activity you want to learn?

Fourth, get out there. Sticking by the fireside won’t do anything to lift your mood. You need to be with people, even though that may be the last thing you want to do. When you’re with others, you’re less likely to be consumed with sadness and negative thoughts. Put yourself in a position to interact with others and this will help you somewhat fill the void. As for overall healing, only time will do that.

 

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Daily Thoughts


January 14, 2017

Turn Failure into Success
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Photo by Guillaume de Germain/Unsplash

“The season of failure is the best time for sowing the seeds of success.” – Yogananda

 

For many, failure is a four-letter word. It’s so disagreeable that no one wants to think about it, let alone experience it. Yet it is also true that everyone fails from time to time. Put another way, each of us goes through experiences that don’t always turn out the way we’d anticipated. No wonder failure gets such a bad rap.

Since failure is so common, what can we learn from it? Successful people have always known that within failure lies the opportunity to learn valuable lessons. Some even attribute their loftiest goal achievements to the simple fact that they’d failed on numerous occasions. Rather than regard failure as something despicable and to be avoided at all costs, they came to appreciate the humbling experience that failure provides. That, and they also found the nuggets of wisdom inherent in each failure.

In other words, they could turn failure into success.

This ability isn’t limited only to the rare few, however, even though it may seem difficult at first. The key is to be disciplined enough to automatically look for the lessons that failure provides, for they are always there.

Indeed, the best time to work through priorities and rearrange them according to what is truly worthwhile comes at the lowest point of experience. It is then that values crystallize and the insignificant and unimportant become apparent. Turning failure into success is an art, but one that can be learned with practice, determination and a hopeful attitude.

Although the season of failure may be painful to endure, if you recognize it as an opportunity and put a plan in place to figure out your next move, you can turn failure into success – time after time.

 

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Daily Thoughts


January 13, 2017

Create Abundance in Your Life
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Photo by Jared Erondu/Unsplash

“Doing what you love is the cornerstone of abundance in your life.” – Wayne Dyer

 

It’s been raining a lot in California lately. To me, this is a sign of abundance, of life and growth and possibilities. Frankly, the only time the hills are green – along with the grass – is during the winter rainy season. The problem has been that the state has been in a perpetual drought for the past few years. So, you can see why we welcome the appearance of rain.

This is my way of dovetailing to the topic of today’s Daily Thoughts: abundance in life.

Nature is abundance, no matter what form it takes. Storms, heat, snowfall, earthquakes, fires – these are all signs of a majestic force that’s both incredible, sometimes destructive, and always something to reckon with.

Abundance in life, for us humans, however, is something we very much control. There’s no need to rely on others to provide it, for what seems abundant to them may not be to our liking.

And I’m not talking about having scads of cash in the bank or a lot of material possessions. Not thousands of contacts in LinkedIn or friends on Facebook or followers on Twitter or other social media, either.

If you love what you do and do what you love, you’ll always experience abundance. Despite failure and setbacks, disappointments, trial-and-error approaches, when you pursue what you love, you’re going to feel fulfilled, motivated, inspired and determined.

There isn’t a challenge you aren’t up to, no opportunity that you aren’t willing to entertain, no project or task or endeavor you won’t see through. In fact, it’s because you love what you do and do what you love that you’re more receptive to change. You even embrace it, recognizing that with change comes growth. With growth comes an increase in self-esteem and self-confidence, a sense of fulfillment and purpose, a joy in life and living.

Celebrating abundance is a way of acknowledging all that is good and healthy. It’s a way to be grateful for what we have and make use of our innate talents and abilities – even those we’ve not yet discovered.

Want to create abundance in your life? Find something that fills you with joy, an activity, pursuit, career or volunteer effort that you are eager to do. Go for it with gusto and full attention. Be in the moment. Feel yourself fill with abundance.

Every day is a new opportunity to create abundance in your life.

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Daily Thoughts


January 12, 2017

What Keeps Life Interesting
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Photo by Kai Oberhӓuser/Unsplash

“What keeps life interesting is the constant creativity of the soul.” – Deepak Chopra

 

I like to keep things interesting. That means I look for ways to alter everyday chores and tasks to add a little spice and variety. It’s not that I won’t do them without it, but I’m more engaged and motivated when there’s something a little different to look forward to.

For example, I write Daily Thoughts for my website. Sometimes I’m all fired up before I sit at the computer, have a title and content in mind and dash off the entry quickly. Other times, however, I’ll go through my emails, read various journals, catch up on the news, go for a walk, work in the garden or do other household chores, go shopping, and so on. I’m not dawdling, though, I’m working through ideas in my mind.

Creativity comes to us from within. We can nurture it by various activities, including daydreaming, doodling and brainstorming. Some of my best ideas occur to me just before I go to sleep. Others emanate from dreams. For example, I may be dreaming and a sentence or idea or topic keeps recurring. It might be something a character says in my dream, or several people repeat it. When I awake, I remember this thread of conversation. If I get up in the middle of the night, I write down bits and pieces of what I recall, so that I’ll remember it when I’m fully awake.

Since the soul sparks creativity, I’m an avid believer in allowing it full rein. I never censor what ideas I receive. They’re all filtered through my consciousness to distill themselves into action.

That’s another reason I highly recommend getting consistent good sleep. For me, that’s at least 8 hours per night. Not only does sleep restore the body, it also provides a fertile environment from which creativity springs.

Life is so much more interesting when you embrace the creativity from your soul. It is for me, anyway.

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Daily Thoughts


January 11, 2017

Happiness Comes From Actions
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Photo by Danka & Peter/Unsplash

“Happiness is not something ready-made. It comes from your own actions.” – Dalai Lama

 

Are you looking for happiness? It’s not something you’ll find by striving. True happiness is always the result of action, more specifically, your own actions.

Take the example of a young girl who feels lonely and is consequently miserable. By avoiding interactions with others, she’s perpetuating a pattern of behavior guaranteed to continue her feelings of isolation, loneliness and unhappiness. It’s only by having the courage to try to meet others, engage in conversation and make a connection that she can change the situation. It’s her actions that will allow her to experience happiness.

Suppose you’re not happy with your career. Failing to investigate other choices will mean you’re stuck where you are. Even if you can’t, for whatever reason, leave your present employment, you can act within the company to see if there are opportunities in another department or group. You can also volunteer to help in certain projects you have an interest in or that might expose you to people of influence who could recognize your talents and pave the way for an in-house job move.

Maybe you’re not unhappy, but not happy either. This middle-of-the-road state of emotion can be changed. Again, it requires you to act. Get out of the rut you’re in and do something different. Take up a hobby. Involve yourself in leisure, recreational or educational pursuits. Travel. Do some DIY projects. The key is change, precipitated by action you take.

What prevents many of us from acting to feel happy is a fear of failure, of perhaps making things worse instead of better. This is a choice each of us makes. Doing nothing is a deal-breaker. There’s no happiness at the end of that choice.

If you desire happiness, you must act. If your actions do not result in happiness, there’s always something else you can do. Happiness comes from actions, not thoughts about being happy.

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Daily Thoughts


January 10, 2017

Dealing With an Uneasy Conscience
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Photo by Eutah Mizushima/Unsplash

“An uneasy conscience is a hair in the mouth.” – Mark Twain

 

What an apt correlation. If you feel a hair in your mouth, you try (often unsuccessfully) to find it and eliminate it right away. It’s a pesky, sometimes loathsome experience as you wonder whose hair it is or what animal it came from. The idea of germs may come into play or a distasteful personal encounter – or even a mildly to very exciting one, for that matter. Still, a hair in the mouth isn’t something most of us relish, lending truth to the comparison with an uneasy conscience.

What about those nagging thoughts, that inner voice that harps and clamors to be heard?

We’ve all done things we’re not particularly proud of. Some of our past actions, let’s face it, have been downright mean, callous, selfish and ill-conceived. It’s no wonder they come back to plague us – like that hair in the mouth.

Dealing with an uneasy conscience demands honesty and a willingness to face the truth, however unpleasant. Without addressing what’s bothering us, what lies beneath the surface, we’re giving it power to hold us back. Who wants or needs that? No, we’re looking for a workable way forward, a remedy that allows us to effectively deal with that nasty item we can’t seem to stop thinking about. We desperately want to be rid of it and will do what’s necessary to be successful at it.

Or will we?

If we’re so affected by the negativity the thoughts promote, we might instead seek to numb that inner voice by indulging in some mind-bending or altering actions like drinking too much, spending considerable sums at the mall, partying so long and hard that we can’t get up for work in the morning, or other self-destructive behaviors. The trouble with escaping like this is that it never solves anything. The same problems, issues and uneasy conscience is going to be there when we sober up, wake up or decide it’s time to face reality.

Best to deal with this uneasy conscience head on. Acknowledge the thought and any action associated with it. Vow to move forward and take appropriate steps to right your life. You’ll be the better for it – and find a workable way to get past such nagging thoughts in the future.

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Daily Thoughts


January 9, 2017

Do You Have Character?
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Photo by Josh Adamski/Unsplash

“Character is the ability to carry out a good resolution long after the excitement of the moment has passed.” – Cavett Robert

 

Character is one of the most prized attributes, the others being courage, compassion, wisdom, humility, and love, among others. But what is character? How do you know if you have it?

Furthermore, is there good character and bad character, or just character?

We’ve often heard about a man or a woman of “good character” and, indeed, haven’t we been told many times that this is what we should strive for?

Maybe the definition of character is more nuanced than this.

To me, character means living up to your word. It’s saying what you mean and doing what you say. That’s also integrity, which I believe is a strong component of character.

Character is also sticking with your decision – even when it’s unpopular, proves difficult, may end in failure, or costs you a lot. You don’t do something because it’s expedient or for personal gain if you have character. You just do it.

I guess that’s where the comment about pushing for the “good resolution long after the excitement of the moment has passed” comes in.

I can agree with that.

If we’re being honest, most of us have gotten caught up in the moment and promised to do things we ultimately fail to fulfill. Swept up in the heady emotion, we overcommit. Better to keep quiet and not boast about something we’ll never do.

But, then, we’re only human. It’s natural to want to do good things, to be respected and admired, to make a difference in the world.

Men and women of character go about their deeds without a lot of fanfare. They don’t seek recognition for their works. It isn’t necessary to puff themselves up to feel good about themselves.

Not that we all don’t need a boost to our self-esteem now and then. Surely, even those with character want that. They just get it from within, because of cumulative good works.

Perhaps the desire to have character helps develop it. If so, those of us who feel we’re lacking in the trait have some hope of getting there.

The way I see it, there’s always today to get busy working on self-improvement. Yet the concentration shouldn’t be internal. It must be external. While this sounds paradoxical, the truth is that it’s what we do that raises or lowers our levels of self-esteem, self-confidence and, yes, character.

And it’s what we do when there’s absolute silence and no one else around to applaud our efforts.

It also feels good to stand up for what we believe in, no matter what.

To sum up my feelings on character, everyone has it. They may have to discover it, definitely need to nurture it, and regard it as a precious part of being human.

 

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Daily Thoughts


January 8, 2017

Make Your Mind Strong
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Photo by Redd Angelo/Unsplash

“Develop the ability to stand back as a witness to your thoughts. This will make your mind strong.” – Amma

 

I love games that stimulate the mind. Does this make my mind strong? I also like puzzles for the same reason. After reading Amma’s quote, I began to think that perhaps there are other ways to exercise mental muscles.

But standing back to witness my own thoughts? That seems a bit difficult, if not out-of-body.

Truthfully, it isn’t that tough, but it does take some practice. Try doing this to see if it works for you.

  • Find a quiet place where you won’t be disturbed. Be sure to leave electronic devices elsewhere so you’re not tempted to attend to incoming messages, texts, calls and the urge to surf or post updates to social media.

 

  • Give yourself enough time for self-reflection. At least a half hour should be sufficient.

 

  • Sit or lie comfortably. Keep your eyes open or closed, whichever feels more natural.

 

  • Allow your thoughts to come and go at will. Do not try to censor them in any way. This isn’t about eliminating thoughts but working on detaching a part of yourself to watch them without being in them.

 

  • Acknowledge what you’re thinking. For example, if you’re worried about missing a deadline at work, feel that emotion, identify it as anxiety and accept that it is there. You might feel a jumble of thoughts, each competing for attention. See if you can separate them and give them a name: jealousy about something your partner did or you think he or she did, irritation that you made a mistake, the pile of bills you need to pay, wondering how you can settle squabbles with the kids so that they learn how to get along better with each other.

 

  • Imagine you’re standing beside yourself, watching these thoughts. This sounds tricky, but you can do it. Use a mirror if that helps, all the time thinking your thoughts.

How does this exercise make your mind strong? It might be a fine-tuning of sorts. I’m not sure. But I do know that I feel mentally stronger after I spend some time doing it.

I figure that if I can do something this simple to help strengthen my mind, I’m all for it.

After all, who doesn’t want to be sharp mentally if they can?

 

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Daily Thoughts


January 7, 2017

Do You Love Problems?
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Photo by Joshua Earle/Unsplash

“The mind unconsciously loves problems because they give you an identity of sorts.” – Eckhart Tolle

 

When I was a kid, I was curious, but not a problem-solver. Solutions to problems seemed strangely behind my grasp of comprehension. Still, I did poke about, trying this and that, eventually stumbling upon some workable fix.

Now that I’m an adult, I like problems. I like trying to figure out solutions. Not intractable problems like world peace, changing someone else’s political opinions or anything deeply embedded and/or originating from disease. Just regular problems: how to get the best Internet service provider, what substitutes work best for oil in a cake mix, how to fit flowers in various size vases. You know, relatively simple stuff.

I can’t say my identity is governed by my problem-solving. Rather, I believe I’m creative at devising solutions.

Don’t get me wrong, I don’t spend all day working on problems. That would be exhausting. But I don’t shy away from a problem if I encounter it.

I also don’t regard problems as negatives. Indeed, by viewing them as opportunities to learn, I find that my creativity goes into high gear to figure out a workaround. The time spent solving problems is never wasted. I’ve gained valuable knowledge and added to my skillset.

Not that I’ll be advertising myself as a problem-solver. Wait, didn’t I just do that?

No, the purpose of today’s Daily Thoughts is to point out that we each have the ability to summon, create, adopt or adapt solutions to everyday problems. Some of the techniques we employ can even be used to tackle more difficult challenges and issues.

On the other hand, there are some people who are instinctively good at problem-solving. They may be the same ones who love puzzles, for the same principle applies: finding how certain pieces fit together without forcing, being able to see the bigger picture amidst a jumble of pieces.

My brother was one of those, bless his heart. Of course, he was also an engineer, so there’s that. His job was to figure out machines and fix them and he was the best in his company at doing that. They flew him all over the world because of his reputation as a problem-solver.

There’s room for those who like to solve problems and those who’d rather have someone else do the fixing. And, no, your identity doesn’t have to be tied up no matter which way you lean.

Unless you like the moniker of problem-solver. If so, good for you. Me, I’ll stick to attempting my casual workarounds and call the experts when something is beyond my talents.

Speaking of which, I need a new modem because my Internet speeds aren’t what my service provider advertises – and what I’m paying for.

Some problems just demand someone else solve them.

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Daily Thoughts


January 6, 2017

Change is the Nature of Life
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Photo by Ryan McGuire/Gratisography

“How strange that the nature of life is change, yet the nature of human beings is to resist change.” – Elizabeth Lesser

 

It’s not for nothing that we should pay attention to the importance of change in our everyday lives. While we should know that nothing ever stays the same, that change is not only inevitable but also desirable, it’s often difficult to see the good hidden within the change. Instead, we tend to regard change as something negative, something to be avoided without even investigating, and something better forgotten than examined.

Yet life itself is filled with change. Look at nature. It’s constantly in a state of flux. From morning to evening, night to day, week in and week out, one month to the next, from winter to spring to summer to autumn, nature offers a nonstop medley of change. Sometimes the change is welcome, as in the arrival of spring and the first glimpse of budding trees and flowers. Sometimes the change is unexpected, such as a torrential downpour or a hurricane developing off the coast that threatens life and property. Other times the changes of nature can be merely inconvenient, requiring a longer commute time or the need to take an alternate route. Isn’t this a metaphor for the changes we experience ourselves?

Acceptance of change is the first step to take in learning how to not only recognize it, but also regard it as something other than a negative. If it takes work to achieve goals, that is also a reflection of changes that are both accepted and welcomed. No one ever attains a worthwhile goal without going through some amount of effort and change. This is one way to look at change as a normal part of life, something to see as an ally and part of our nature, not something alien that should be avoided.

When the instinct to turn away from change occurs, take a moment to look beyond the temporary blip in whatever you’re doing to see where this may take you. Make it a point to see change as normal and necessary for growth and it won’t seem so frightening and off-putting.

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Daily Thoughts


January 5, 2017

The Secret of Concentration
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Photo by Austin Neill/Unsplash

“The secret of concentration is the secret of self-discovery. You reach inside yourself to discover your personal resources and what it takes to match them to the challenge.” – Arnold Palmer

 

When it’s time to make a difficult decision, or figure out a solution to a problem or challenge, you need to be able to concentrate.

When a situation calls for brainstorming, creative collaboration, a deep dive of analysis, concentration is a must.

Sometimes that’s tough to do.

There’s too much noise, multiple distractions, competing ideas, little time and pressure to finish.

No wonder so many efforts fail.

Instead of viewing concentration as an elusive goal, however, look at it as an inner ability that’s always available. The key, then, isn’t where concentration comes from but how to make use of it.

I like the concept of self-discovery being at the core of concentration. When I’m faced with either a problem or an opportunity, I like to focus on the five W’s: who, what, why, when and where. While this applies to writing, it also works in tackling anything worthwhile.

The answers aren’t out there somewhere. They’re inside me. I know I’m responsible for my actions, have been able to create innovative solutions to problems before, have risen to the challenge and embarked on new pursuits, gone head-to-head on challenges, and have the self-confidence I need to sustain and motivate me.

To me, logic and creativity work together in finding solutions, figuring out the answers and devising approaches to implement. I ask myself what skills I have, remind myself of my strengths, make a list of what I need and who I can engage in the project or task, define a schedule, craft a plan and set to work.

Singling out one project or task or challenge at a time to work on is also integral to its ultimate completion or success.

It’s also true that the process of self-discovery enriches life’s experience. It makes life more joyous, satisfying and purposeful.

Think of that the next time you have something that merits your concentration. What is there for you to discover? Allow yourself to be intrigued by the possibilities, and venture forward.

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Daily Thoughts


January 4, 2017

Why You Love Someone
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Photo by Alejandra Quiroz/Unsplash

“You don’t love someone for their looks or their clothes, or their fancy car, but because they sing a song only you can hear.” – Oscar Wilde

 

Most of us have experienced love. For some, it’s perhaps platonic at this stage, while others have known deep and enduring love. There are, of course, many kinds of love and, according to the song, “Love makes the world go ‘round.”

Why is that, I wonder? What is it about love or, specifically, why do you love someone? When I came across the quote by Oscar Wilde, it all seemed to come together.

Two people in love – and I’m speaking of romantic love here – are in synch. They communicate in a language that’s both verbal and non-verbal and what they’re saying may only make sense to each other. Ergo, “they sing a song only you can hear.”

What a fabulous way to describe why you love someone. You’re privy to a private concert, a song and melody that’s meant for you alone. Others, of course, may witness and hear the interaction, but it doesn’t have the same resonance.

It isn’t meant to.

Love is many things. Indeed, at its best, love can be all-encompassing, uplifting, generous and selfless. There’s also the dark side of love, but that’s more controlling and selfish than anything else. When darkness intrudes on love, it morphs the emotion into a life-robbing state, rather than life-affirming.

Back to why you love someone, let’s stick with the sweet and heartfelt song that only you hear. Savor the thought. Remind yourself how much this applies to your situation, to your own special love.

Now, make it a point to express your love for that person in some meaningful way today.

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Daily Thoughts


January 3, 2017

Stop Making Problems
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Photo by Dominik Martin/Unsplash

“You make problem, you have problem.” – Jon Kabbat Zinn

 

When it comes to problems, we all have them.

Many problems, however, are self-imposed.

Startling thought? It’s meant to be.

If you want to narrow the list of problems you have, start with a firm decision to stop making problems in the first place.

Already, the objections start, beginning with the problems that others create that have a direct effect on you. Surely, you didn’t create them. So, how can you stop those problems?

Nice try, but that’s a weasel-out excuse that won’t work.

While you don’t have control over the problems others create, you very much have control over your response, action or inaction. In other words, it’s what you do that counts, not what the problem is that you face.

It’s the same with problems that you manufacture.

Indeed, it’s all in how you regard the situation. If you think it’s a problem, it’s going to be a problem. If you view it in a more positive light, the problem is no longer a problem, but an opportunity or challenge. Same situation, different outlook. That change in perception alters everything.

Let’s look at a few problems we tend to create for ourselves and how we can stop them being problems.

Problem: No Time

How many of us complain that we don’t have enough time? There is a constant of 24 hours in every day, so we all have the same amount of time. The issue isn’t that we lack time, but that we choose to use it inefficiently.

One solution to the self-imposed problem of no time is to get better organized. When we create a schedule, prioritize tasks, reach out for help, allocate resources, devise a plan, there’s air in the problem that causes it to dissipate. Instead of a negative, we’ve created a positive.

Problem: No Money

Another nearly universal problem is that we don’t have enough money. Whether it’s a self-imposed and arbitrary sum we have in our heads that we believe is necessary to being financially stable or that we never seem to have enough money to pay the bills, the fact that we hold this thought as a problem perpetuates it. There’s no way out until the picture changes.

A deep analysis of exactly where we spend our money is the first step to changing the problem into something more manageable. No, you can’t mint money, but you can stop wasting it on expensive lattes when a home-brew is cheaper, doesn’t require you to drive somewhere to get it, and saves time in the process. Using creativity to add accessories (a new belt, scarf, piece of jewelry) to an existing wardrobe will solve the problem of no money to buy an entirely new one.

Scaling back immediate self-gratification and concentrating on living in the present, being fully aware and involved in the here and now will not only take the onus off the belief that money is scarce, it will also enrich daily living.

Problem: No Friends

A problem that involves a change of attitude is the belief that we have no friends. Sometimes, this is because we go out of our way to avoid meeting new people, believing that we have nothing to offer, that we’re not good enough, don’t converse easily, aren’t as educated, don’t dress the same way, come from different backgrounds and a litany of other reasons we tell ourselves.

The only way out of the box of having no friends we’ve put ourselves in is to go out and begin to interact with others. Work on some casual conversation openers to get things going. Take a course, if necessary, to practice conversational skills. Find a hobby or recreational pursuit you enjoy where you’ll encounter others who have similar interests. There’s bound to be small talk that, over time, can lead to a friendship, even if it’s only while engaged in the hobby or recreational pursuit. It’s a start, something you can build on.

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Daily Thoughts


January 2, 2017

Be My Friend
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Photo by Gerrit Vermeulen/Unsplash

“Don’t walk behind me; I may not lead. Don’t walk in front of me; I may not follow. Just walk beside me and be my friend.” – Albert Camus

 

I never thought about friendship this way, but it does make a lot of sense. A friend is someone you want beside you, always there to support and encourage, to share experiences, to laugh and cry and argue and learn together. What a simple, yet profound concept.

Too many times, however, we call someone a friend who is anything but. They may be mere acquaintances, someone we met in a line at the grocery store, at a club, a neighbor’s house, in school, at work or elsewhere. While it’s good to be friendly, there’s more to friendship than smiling and casual conversation.

A true friend won’t desert you when you’re in need. If you have heartache, your friend will listen and offer soothing words of support and encouragement. It’s not your friend’s duty to provide answers, although he or she may make suggestions. Just being there for you is what friends do.

Some friends date back to childhood. Others may be those you recently met. Sharing common experiences, background, interests, hobbies, neighborhood, commute, religion, political affiliations and so much more – that’s where friends originate.

But it’s more than where you meet them that counts. After all, you meet people everywhere. The development of a friendship also takes time. You learn to trust each other, enjoy being together, know you can say what’s on your mind, listen to each other and are willing to go out of your way to help in times of need.

When it comes to being a friend, it doesn’t matter if you have a handful, dozens or just one. What matters is that you do have someone to just walk beside you and be your friend.

In recognition of the value of friendship, I encourage you to contact friends you may not have communicated with in sometime. Say hello. Ask how they’re doing. Remember old times. The simple gesture of reconnecting will not only help you both feel a bit of nostalgia, it also reminds you that true friends last. This type of friendship isn’t severed by time or distance. It never goes out of style.

“Just walk beside me and be my friend.” These are great words to live by.

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Daily Thoughts


January 1, 2017

We Are Enough
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Photo by Meiying Ng/Unsplash

“Our whole spiritual transformation brings us to the point where we realize that in our own being, we are enough.” -- Ram Dass

 

On this first day of a new year, let’s bring it all in focus. Zero in on what’s true and at the center of our core. We don’t need material things or fame or an accumulation of wealth to realize our deepest potential. In fact, we already have everything we need.

We are enough.

This doesn’t mean we shirk responsibility, put off following dreams, act in selfish ways or become so lazy that nothing matters. It means simply that we have a richness of spirit that, should we care to tap into, can allow us to experience a richness of life that has no equal.

And this spiritual transformation is available to each of us. It’s not just for religious leaders, the devout, nor for the poor or rich or in-between. Everyone can avail themselves of this pure fount of being that lies within.

Even during mounting disappointment, one failure after another, unimaginable pain, heartache and sorrow, we are enough. We can endure, see beyond the present, feel solace and budding hope where others may see none. We have all the resources, though we may not immediately recognize this. We have the courage, tenacity, inner strength and hope that is so integral to the indomitable human spirit.

We are enough.

Whether blessed with celebrity, a string of accomplishments, a well-off lifestyle, countless friends and a huge family, or we travel solo, pursuing a difficult challenge we deem worthwhile, struggle in search of our meaning and purpose in life – we are enough.

The days, weeks and months ahead are sure to bring myriad opportunities, a few missteps and failures, some disappointment and pain. They’re also likely to afford extraordinary opportunities to learn and grow, to share what we have with others, to be generous of heart and spirit, setting a fine example while broadening our own horizon.

Through it all, we are enough.

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December 31, 2016

The Eve of Tomorrow
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Photo by Jonatan Pie/Unsplash

“Twenty years from now, you will be more disappointed by the things you didn’t do than by the things you did do. So, throw off the bowlines. Sail away from the safe harbor and catch the trade winds in your sails. Explore. Dream. Discover.” – Mark Twain

 

It’s New Year’s Eve, a time of celebration and remembrance, of looking forward with an acknowledgement of the past, of bittersweet memories and hope for the future. When the ball drops in New York’s Times Square, countless millions around the world will wait with baited breath to count down 2016 and usher in 2017.

This is truly the eve of tomorrow.

Time to let go of resentment, put an end to strife, hit the pause button and savor the transition from old to new. It’s fitting that this time only occurs once each year. The holiday is a solid spot on the calendar to remind us of the swift passage of time, accentuating the awesome power of the moment, the need to be present, to act fearlessly and with profoundly good intentions.

For many, this past year has been filled with ups and downs, some experiencing more downs than ups, some just the opposite. Whatever your experience, note that there are things you did you regret, opportunities you allowed to slip away, words you said you wish you could take back. There are also moments where you felt blessed, embarked upon a journey, took a chance and reaped the rewards.

Summed up, this was life, all of it, the good and the bad.

Standing on the threshold of a new year, take this time to fully commit to a new beginning. Make a plan, put together the resources, pencil it on your calendar and get to work.

“Explore. Dream. Discover.” Better words were never spoken.

Wherever you go this evening, safe travels.

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December 30, 2016

The Art of Listening
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Photo by Cole Hutson/Unsplash

“When you really listen to another person from their point of view, and reflect back to them that understanding, it’s like giving them emotional oxygen.” – Stephen Covey

 

Quick, think back to the most recent conversation you had with another person. How often did you interrupt, eager to get your point across, anxious to get on with it, or just thoughtlessly chiming in with a comment?

Most of us are guilty of failing to listen to a certain extent. Usually it’s not intentional, but the results are the same: We’re not really listening at all.

That can not only deflate the other person, it can also stymie effective interaction. Whether you’re involved in an argument or discussion, when you cut off someone’s words, you’re rebuffing them, essentially saying their words are unimportant or, worse, that your words are better.

For me, many times my interruptions are because I know I want to say something and I’m afraid I’ll forget it while the conversation on the other end goes off in a different direction. I don’t mean to be rude, yet that’s exactly how it comes across.

To remedy this bad habit, I’ve taken to jotting down a quick note to remind myself what I felt was so important to say. That gives me space to stay in the moment and actively listen instead of preparing my comments and waiting to deliver them.

It doesn’t always work, despite my best intentions.

I admired Stephen Covey for the simplicity of his recommendations. They’re not only important for being effective in business, they’re important for living a satisfying and productive life.

Still, it’s hard to clamp down on the tendency to blurt out a comment during my friend or spouse or associate’s conversation. If it’s an urgent matter, however, I have started to say, “Excuse me, can I interrupt you for just a second?” That better be a real emergency, though, as you can only use this wild card rarely.

Listening is an art, one that I’ve come to appreciate more the older I get. And, if having years of my own kids not paying an ounce of attention to what I said taught me anything, it’s that repetition is the only way to get crucial items across when others fail to listen.

But there’s not listening and there’s deliberately ignoring. That’s another thing altogether.

For now, take a breath before letting your words rip when someone else is speaking to you. There’ll be time to say what you want when that person stops speaking, indicates with a pause that they’re looking for your reaction, input or inviting you to respond.

I know. Not so easy to always do.

But make an effort anyway. Mastering the art of listening takes practice. And it’s worth it.

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December 29, 2016

Losing a Friend
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Photo by Land Song/Unsplash

“Life is what you celebrate. All of it. Even its end.” – Joanne Harris

 

It’s always sad when someone we know and care about dies. Whether that person is a dear friend or an admired celebrity or public figure matters little. The key takeaway is that we mourn the loss.

Shouldn’t we also celebrate the life?

None of us is going to be here forever. That is a fact. Sometimes we want to ignore and avoid it, yet the fact of our mortality doesn’t change. It’s what we do with our life that matters. Each day, every moment and second.

To think of all the time we’ve spent being bitter or angry, jealous or insensitive, cruel and indifferent is enough to make anyone ashamed. What a waste. Instead, wouldn’t it be better to acknowledge negative emotions and then move on to doing something proactive, generous and genuine?

Every year at the holidays we hear about the death of some famous people. Most recently, the untimely deaths of George Michael and Carrie Fisher and then the heartbreaking passing of Carrie’s mother, Debbie Reynolds has caused some sadness. It’s not just the immediate families, but everyone who followed them.

Their lives, however, are an inspiration. We can learn so much from them. Indeed, we are the better for their example, their legacy, their indomitable spirit and joy of living.

Losing a friend hurts. It always does. Yet the sting of sadness can be mitigated by celebrating the time we had with that friend.

This is how we must endeavor to live our own lives. Celebrate all of it, the pain and sadness and the joy and success. Right up until the end and our last breath.

That is why we’re here.

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Daily Thoughts


December 28, 2016

Thoughts on Success, Failures
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Photo by Sweet Ice Cream Photography

“Celebrate every success, but don’t forget to enjoy those scars of failures.” – Debasish Mridha

 

Toward the end of the year, it’s natural to tally what’s been done well and what didn’t quite make it. Call it the year-end inventory of sorts.

This isn’t always what you expect. It generally is, however, quite an eye opener.

If it seems like your failures sometimes outweigh your successes, all is not lost. There’s still reason to celebrate the other side of accomplishment, if only for the valuable lessons they teach.

Granted, we’d all much rather have a string of successes to point to with pride than acknowledge where we flubbed on a project, missed an important deadline, lost a contract, failed a grade, suffered a relationship breakup or other significant losses and mistakes.

But success can lead to an inflated sense of self-worth, causing us to be a little more selfish and less present in the world, caught up in our own importance. So, a few disappointments and failures along the way, while painful, can serve us well in the long run.

If nothing else, they’re the kind of scars we know are there, ones that point to a chapter in our life where we were at a difficult crossroad and had to make a choice. If we made the wrong one, the scar tells us where we went awry. If we made a partial one, there are still remnants of the scar to remind us to be more diligent next time.

But let’s also give success its due. It’s human nature to want to succeed. In fact, if not for human tenacity, courage and determination, we’d never have evolved as a species. We succeeded in learning how to use fire, to create tools, to graduate from seeds and berries to eating animal meat, fishing for food and shelter, creating verbal and written language.

Many mistakes and failures occurred in the process.

Mankind is still evolving, making mistakes, self-correcting, learning from what failed and going on to be ever more successful.

Keep these points in mind about success and failures:

  • Whether you win or lose, there’s a lesson in the experience. Learn it and your life will be more productive and satisfying.

 

  • Nothing is ever so bad that it can’t get better – unless you’re dead, in which case it’s all over until the hereafter.

 

  • Instead of thinking you know it all, be open to the possibility that there might be another approach that works, perhaps even a better one.

 

  • When someone makes a mistake, don’t rub their nose in it. That serves no useful purpose. Point out the lesson, encourage them to keep at it and be supportive no matter what.

 

  • Just as you shouldn’t criticize others for the errors they make, it’s not helpful to berate yourself for your mistakes. Take a pause and determine what the lesson is in this failure. It will help you improve your performance next time.

 

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Daily Thoughts


December 27, 2016

Time To Wake Up
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Photo by Azrul Aziz/Unsplash

“In the garden of gentle sanity, may you be bombarded by coconuts of wakefulness.” – Chogyam Trungpa

 

I’ve been asleep for far too long.

Not that I don’t enjoy sleep, for I love curling into my pillows and drifting off to dreams.

I’m referring here to the lightning bolt realization that living in the present is all there is. That’s wakefulness and it’s something to be prized and cultivated.

The trick is, how do you do that?

As I’ve come to learn, it’s not terribly difficult. It just requires a willingness to rearrange how you approach doing things with a focus that’s aligned to the here and now instead of lingering looks at yesterday or longing looks ahead.

Being awake has lots of intrinsic benefits. Here are just a few that come to mind:

  • You really get to taste food. No more unconscious eating. When you’re in the present, you can savor the flavor, almost feel the goodness of what you’re eating as it nourishes your body. Even if you don’t find yourself thinking along these lines, the food just tastes wonderful. Nothing wrong with that.

 

  • Your lover’s touch borders on the ecstatic. No need to go into too much detail about this one. Instead of thinking about what you’re going to cook for dinner or wondering when you’ll get a reply to your last text, indulge in the pure sensation of passion that you only get by being present. Who wouldn’t want to wake up to this?

 

  • You see what’s in front of you. Too many times we drive without seeing the scenery. It’s like background noise that is a low rumble but doesn’t really register. With eyes wide open and taking in all that’s around, the beauty and richness of the world is simply amazing. You’d never come close to this appreciation without being in the moment.

 

  • The sense of smell heightens awareness. Whether enticing, intriguing, beckoning, warning or frightful, smell has a profound place in wakefulness. Smell alerts you to something wrong just as it signals something delightful. Think how bland food tastes when you can’t smell because of a head cold and you get the idea. The acrid aroma of smoke might well save lives. With a slant toward the more positive, life just feels better when you appreciate the power of sense of smell.

 

  • Sounds enrich your experience. What would life be like without sound? Cup your ears and see how different everyday activities feel. There’s a depth that only occurs when you can hear as well as see, touch, taste and smell.

It’s appropriate to talk about wakefulness with a reference to the five senses. To truly live life with vibrancy and purposefulness, celebrate these gifts and use them to absorb the very best of every day.

Time to wake up.

 

 

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Daily Thoughts


December 26, 2016

Be Who You Are
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Photo by Joshua Earle/Unsplash

“Though I am grateful for the blessings of wealth, it hasn’t changed who I am. My feet are still on the ground. I’m just wearing better shoes.” – Oprah Winfrey

 

I love this quote about being in touch with who you are, having your feet firmly planted on the ground no matter how much money you may have. It is rare, however, to find someone who’s incredibly wealthy have such humility and generous world view.

Frankly, most of us might be suspicious of such a statement coming from someone with scads of wealth. But let’s put that aside for a moment to peek at the wisdom behind Oprah’s words and, more to the point, how we can apply them to everyday life.

That’s the rest of us, for those who want to be precise.

Millions of people have difficulty making ends meet, working hard for their money and sometimes living paycheck to paycheck. They don’t have the luxury of better shoes, having to put off getting new ones to put food on the table for the family. Still, many of these same people are humble, genuine and optimistic.

A growing number of the populace may find themselves in a somewhat better financial situation. With the improving economy, the hope for more jobs and a brighter future, it isn’t how much money that’s currently in the bank that motivates and inspires them, but how they will be better off tomorrow. They are both grateful and accepting of their situation as it is, with the knowledge that their efforts can make a profound difference in how it changes over time.

The profoundly wealthy, celebrities, entrepreneurs, business moguls and those who’ve inherited their fortunes may have a tougher time of it when it comes to being who they are. After all, much of their self-identity may be tied up in those fat bank accounts. Maybe, but not always. Apart from the few, there are many examples of extraordinarily wealthy individuals who both know and appreciate what they have but their fortune doesn’t stop them from being considerate, generous and genuine.

Here’s the crux of the concept of being who you are: You must be true to yourself and your values and beliefs. Instead of trying to impress others or accumulate more to feel better about yourself, you must act in accordance with what is right and good. You don’t need piles of money to be able to do that, just a good self-awareness and willingness to see what needs to be done in the world and the courage and motivation to step forth and do it.

Granted, some might be acting as who they are and they’re selfish, rude, angry and in pain. But the root of that isn’t who they really are. It’s clouded by disappointment, poor upbringing, perhaps a disadvantaged or privileged background, tragedy or misfortune or other factors.

Still, the recommendation to be who you are holds. Life isn’t something you get to do over. Once it’s over, it’s over. This is all the time you have. Isn’t it better to live your life being true to yourself than acting a charade?

For all my faults, and I have many, I much prefer to keep my feet on the ground and my eyes wide open as well as my heart. For the record, I do have a few good shoes that I maintain as best I can. But my most comfortable ones have seen much better days.

 

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December 25, 2016

The Real Spirit of Christmas
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Photo by Rodion Kutsaev/Unsplash

“Christmas is not a time nor a season but a state of mind. To cherish peace and goodwill, to be plenteous in mercy, is to have the real spirit of Christmas.” – Calvin Coolidge

 

If you’re taking a break from unwrapping all the Christmas presents, preparing for a big holiday feast with family and friends, or just kicking back for some much-needed rest and relaxation today, take a moment to reflect on the real spirit of Christmas.

Hint: It’s not how many gifts you got.

Bigger hint: It’s free and always with you.

It’s easy to lose sight of what Christmas spirit is at its core when everywhere you go you’re confronted with endless advertisements for products and services, toys, gifts, jewelry, lifestyle experiences, you name it, all purporting to make your life better, simpler, more enjoyable, productive, profitable and balanced.

What used to be confined to a few weeks or at best a month before Christmas now starts as early as mid-September. It makes me laugh to think of marketers lining up ad campaigns that early. By the time the actual holiday rolls around, most consumers are fairly fed up with all the reminders. But that’s the free market and enterprise at work.

Still, it’s not at all reflective of the real spirit of Christmas.

Whether you’re surrounded by family and friends today or celebrating Christmas by yourself, keep in mind that peace and goodwill are at the heart of genuine Christmas spirit. Wishing for a better tomorrow by promising to display more generosity, mercy and forgiveness today is a good start toward embracing what Christmas means.

While we’re not all going to nail it the first time, we do get better with practice. Fortunately, Christmastime returns once each year to give us another opportunity to hone our skills and look forward with hope to the days and months ahead.

Peace and blessings today, everyone. Merry Christmas.

 

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December 24, 2016

Lift Others Up
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Photo by Annie Spratt/Unsplash

“There is no better exercise for the heart than reaching down and lifting people up.” – John Holmes

 

What better time to do something good for another than on Christmas Eve? A gesture, however small, may mean the difference between someone feeling forgotten and left behind and acknowledged for the human being they are. It’s more than simple charity. Indeed, it’s basic kindness.

Maybe you don’t normally go out of your way to lend a hand. It may not be in your nature or you might feel uncomfortable doing so. But there are many ways in which to help lift others up, not the least of which is engaging in conversation with someone who has no one to talk with on a regular basis.

Perhaps you have a neighbor or friend who’s a shut-in, recuperating from an illness, surgery or accident and is feeling blue. Make a call, pay a visit, spend some time with that person. That’s a quick and easy way to bolster their spirits, to make them feel a little less alone.

Sometimes the mere act of listening is enough to lift a person up. Other times, it may require a bit of cajoling or persuasion to, for example, encourage a friend to get out of the empty house and accompany you to a diner or coffee shop for a meal or hot beverage. If you’re having a holiday get-together with guests outside the family, consider inviting your lonely friend or neighbor as well.

One example I can recall about lifting others up is something my mother told me when I was a child. Stay tuned for this, because the ending is a shocker.

Years ago, in Grand Rapids, Michigan, there was an old woman that everyone called the bag lady. She walked the streets all day carrying her bags, filled with various items she collected during her travels. Rain or shine, sun, sleet or snow, the bag lady made her way throughout the neighborhood. She smiled and said hello to everyone she met and they did the same. She was never harassed in her home territory – and she did have a home, albeit of extremely modest means. On the occasions when she ventured past her immediate and familiar streets, she did encounter aggression, once landing in the hospital.

The bag lady had mental problems, along with numerous physical ailments. Although she loved her two children very much, she wasn’t able to properly care for them, so social services removed them from the home and found them a family. I don’t recall what happened to her husband, but he was never in the picture.

As for the bag lady’s home environment after the kids were gone, it was piled from floor to ceiling and wall to wall with stacks of newspapers, magazines, other items too precious to part with. Today, such a person is called a hoarder. In my mind, these items were all the bag lady had.

No one came to visit, except my mother. While the bag lady was a fixture of the neighborhood, she wasn’t invited to dinner. Again, except for my mother, who took her out for a hot meal, bought her some new clothes and necessities, stocked the ancient refrigerator with food.

The kicker here is that the old woman was my mother’s older sister, a fiercely independent woman who insisted on living life on her own terms. She wouldn’t go to a home, wasn’t incapacitated to the point of being committed, never harmed anyone and somehow could stay in her house. I never knew how that happened. Maybe my mother paid the mortgage. Maybe it was already paid off. I do know another aunt and uncle lived next door and occasionally looked in on her.

Sometimes lifting others up requires extraordinary courage. It may mean going out of your way, as in the case of my mother who lived across the state and had a husband and kids of her own to care for in addition to working full-time.

But it’s also sometimes as easy as taking the time to smile, say a few kind words, put some change in the Salvation Army bucket, donate canned goods and staples to the local food bank or give online at reputable charities.

There’s still time to lift others up. If not today, tomorrow. Any day is a good day to do something to help.

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December 23, 2016

Love Each Stage of Life
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Photo by Lotte Meijer/Unsplash

“Each time of life has its own kind of love.” – Leo Tolstoy

 

What’s it like growing old? Is it possible to feel love at each stage of life, no matter what? While we might not think about this very often, if at all, it’s worth pondering. After all, life is meant for living. That means finding ways to express and receive love.

I firmly believe that we have an infinite capacity for love and that we experience its benefits over the decades, just in different ways. How I arrived at this conclusion only became apparent as I traversed several decades and had the opportunity to reflect on my life and the people I’ve known and loved, beginning with my family.

I never knew my grandparents on my father’s side. They died long before I was born, as did my maternal grandfather. I did briefly interact with my mother’s mother before she died, but don’t have many memories of her either. My aunts were already getting on in years when I was a child and I recall fondly holiday, weekend and impromptu visits with them.

The family get-togethers were always warm, if sometimes boisterous with different generations having their say, getting their points across, imparting wisdom and sharing affection. I saw early on how love is shared between two people married for decades, and how a never-married aunt embraced life and cared for others with love.

In my immediate family, I witnessed the love between my mother and father, and their love for me and my brother. Although separated in age by 13 years, the love my parents had for each other was genuine, strong and inspiring. I wouldn’t say what I saw was passionate, more like deep and abiding. But I was a kid, so my observations were understandably limited.

Later in life, long after my father died and my mother remarried, my stepfather and my mother shared a different kind of love. To me, it was no less admirable or inspiring. They took care of each other in good times and bad, lifted each other’s spirits, laughed a lot, enjoyed their travels and outings with friends. Each day was a blessing, a time to be grateful, a time to love and share.

As for me, I can honestly say my willingness and ability to love has grown over the years. Sure, I’ve experienced disappointment and heartache. Most of us have. I’ve also been privileged to know firsthand the exhilaration and power of deeply felt and enduring love.

Over time, may each of you come to appreciate and love each stage of life. Treasure moments, share them with others, be willing to absorb and reflect love every day, always.

 

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December 22, 2016

Change Is Life
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Photo by Annie Spratt/Unsplash

“Life is a series of natural and spontaneous changes. Don’t resist them; that only creates sorrow. Let reality be reality.” – Lao Tzu

 

Do you fight against change? Most of us have at one point or another. It could be that we feel ill-prepared to deal with what’s happening, or it reminds us of our past failures. Maybe we like the status quo and want to hang onto it. Maybe we’re lazy, preferring to go along with the least amount of effort.

That’s no way to live, at least, no way to live a robust and rewarding life.

Granted, to do nothing or to put up resistance to change might seem the easier route. After all, it’s not putting yourself out there and being vulnerable.

It’s also not exposing yourself to opportunities and taking reasonable risks to achieve greater rewards.

Who’d want to live in a bubble, forever walled off from the world. In such an eternally protected state, there’s no chaos or changing seasons, no emotional highs and lows, no extremes of any kind. How boring.

On the other hand, the real world is messy and constantly changing. Indeed, life itself is change. Thus, change is life.

Get used to it.

Rather, embrace it.

Instead of being endlessly creative in ways to avoid change, look for ways to capitalize on it. Sure, some change is distasteful, nasty, tough to endure, but the other side of this is pleasant, rewarding and enriching.

You can get through all kinds of change with equanimity. Be the actor who decides how to act, not the victim forever chained by outside change. Victims are sad and powerless. You don’t want to live life that way.

Change is life. And thankfully so. This creates vistas of possibilities just waiting for us to reach out and make the most out of them.

* * *

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Daily Thoughts


December 21, 2016

Let's Be Free
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Photo by Austin Schmid/Unsplash

“Fear is the memory of pain. Addiction is the memory of pleasure. Freedom is beyond both.” – Deepak Chopra

 

I don’t spend a lot of time thinking about fear. I learned long ago that your thoughts can propel you to behave in ways not conducive to a happy, purposeful life. For example, if you think negatively, you act negatively and the results are likely to be negative. The opposite is also true. Therefore, I choose to think uplifting thoughts so that I may behave accordingly and achieve optimum results.

Likewise, any concentration that’s top-weighted toward action that takes me off the path of purposefulness, goodness and worthwhile goals – however pleasurable it may seem at the time – is a kind of addiction. That’s not something I want to dwell on. Any tendencies I notice toward this type of lopsidedness I work to quickly dispel.

I much prefer to live in a harmonious state. Some call it freedom. Others refer to it as bliss. Whatever name applies, the principle is the same: balance.

If you want to be free, you must choose freedom. This means, among other things, that you’re not shackled by memories of pain or thwarted from your goals by a fixation on past pleasures (getting high and staying up all night to look up at the stars with a romantic interest, winning the big jackpot, eating all the sweets you want and so on).

There is a fine line between knowing what happened and choosing how to act now. Keep in mind that the present is all we have. The future depends on present behavior, not what occurred in the past. Neither fear nor pleasure once experienced can dictate what we do now – unless we permit it.

Such a decision often requires courage, a willingness to go out on a limb and hope for a better outcome than we could accomplish before.

But we can do it. We can choose freedom.

So, let’s do it.

Let’s be free.

 

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Daily Thoughts


December 20, 2016

Give a Little
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Photo by Annie Spratt/Unsplash

The heart that gives, gathers.” – Tao Te Ching

 

A beloved mentor of mine (one of my screenwriting professors at UCLA Film School) taught me something about giving recently. He started Every Little Bit Project (check it out on Facebook at every little bit facebook) to help the local homeless community. Donations provide sustenance bags (filled with items such as socks, snacks, toothpaste/toothbrush, wet wipes, etc.) and the people helped are immensely grateful.

The idea for the project was simple: Do something good for those in need. This is an idea whose time has come. Just look around. There are thousands of homeless individuals in your own community in desperate need of assistance.

Most of us have donated some change or a couple of dollars to charities outside of malls and markets. Contributing anonymously to the Salvation Army and other recognized charities is one way to help. So is donating online, writing a check or gathering clean, usable and useful items to charitable organizations.

I like Every Little Bit Project because it is more involving and got some traction on social media. Likely, other projects may spring up around the country with the same goal.

Giving a little isn’t painful. It’s therapeutic in the sense that you know your efforts are going for good. It’s also a boost to your overall appreciation of life. After all, with just some change of circumstance, each of us might be in a similar situation of homelessness, with no resources, no food or shelter, no hope for the future. Wouldn’t you want someone to be generous in this way toward you? I know I would.

Think of all that we have. There’s more than enough to go around. Surely, we can spare a few dollars to do something good and right. It doesn’t matter if you receive a tax write-off or not. What does matter is that you want to help – and follow through on the intention by giving.

I’d also like to add that the benefits of giving accrue to both the recipient of the gift and the giver. While I may not find out-of-fashion (but still very useful) clothing appealing, others might be very appreciative to receive these items. Makeup, shampoo, conditioner and toothpaste samples serve a similar purpose.

Giving can and should occur year-round, but it’s during the end of the year holidays when it seems to be the most needed.

Give a little. You’ll gather a lot in the process.

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Daily Thoughts


December 19, 2016

Kindness Is Always in Style
Photo by Jake Thacker/Unsplash

Photo by Jake Thacker/Unsplash

“Kind words can be short and easy to speak but their echoes are truly endless.” – Mother Teresa

 

In our quest to get everything done, to take the quickest route to the mall, find the shortest line at checkout, snap up a desired item at auction before the bids close, hurry through a project to rush off to be with friends, consider how such hustle and bustle may find its way into what we say and do. It might lead us to be critical, abrupt, thoughtless and selfish.

While pride in accomplishments is desirable, so too is the generosity of spirit that we display by being kind. Indeed, kindness never is out of fashion. It does, however, seem in short supply lately.

Not everywhere, of course, and not universally. There are still kind acts performed by millions of people every day. The man who holds a door for a woman entering the coffee shop and allows her to go ahead of him in line is being kind. The barista who takes the time to offer a greeting even to a stranger is demonstrating kindness. The group of customers clustered at the sugar and flavorings station stepping aside with a smile to let you in to finish up your beverage is being kind.

None of this cost a penny. It’s just people being kind.

The coffee shop example is appropriate because it’s a place many of us frequent. You never know when you walk through the door whether you’ll be waiting five minutes or 25 to get your order. People come in dressed in all sorts of garb, from business suits to athletic wear to formal attire. Some have had a rough day, while others are just passing time. A few seek the proximity of other people to help lift their mood. Others take a meeting, busy themselves with work or school projects or just want to spend some time where it’s warm and cozy.

What a neat place to demonstrate kindness.

But there are a million ways to show that you’re kind. Words are quick and easy – and can make a world of difference to someone in desperate need of genuine sentiment.

Granted, sometimes you just don’t feel much kindness, let alone want to show it. That’s precisely the time when your kind words and actions can have the most impact. It’s not just the recipient that benefits. You do too. Every kind word and act fills your reservoir of goodness, generosity of spirit and adds to your overall well-being.

Even if you don’t realize it.

Since being kind costs you nothing except the intention and follow-through of doing it, why not make it a point to pay it forward with a little kindness today?

 

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Daily Thoughts


December 18, 2016

Slow Down
Photo by Teddy Kelley/Unsplash

Photo by Teddy Kelley/Unsplash

“Slow down and everything you are chasing will come around and catch you.” – John DePaola

 

At this hectic time of year, the idea of slowing down seems counter-productive. In fact, however, slowing down now is probably the best advice to take. There’s no question we all have much to do and little time to get it done. Factor in last-minute work demands, additional obligations imposed on us, tending to something important we forgot, and finding ways to stretch the already overcommitted schedule and it’s one giant snowball barreling downhill.

No wonder we’re feeling stressed.

Personally, I’ve always loved snowballs: making them, throwing them, gently nudging one downhill so it grew into a massive snow-packed feat of nature. On the other hand, being the recipient of the thrown snowball – especially the icy ones my brother liked to hurl my way – or being bowled over by the snowball-gathering-size-and-momentum wasn’t pleasant.

Life’s hectic pace can seem like getting smacked with a big snowball.

Backing away from snowballs for a minute, how can slowing down help us achieve whatever it is we’re so desperate to achieve? Maybe a kinder way to put it is how can we get what we want when we consciously slow our pace?

Since I do have some thoughts on the matter, I’ll gladly share them here.

  • If the goal is worthwhile, it’s worth taking the time to do it right. This means putting aside time to carefully review the plan before diving into action. Good preparation is more likely to yield a positive outcome than haphazard or knee-jerk effort.

 

  • Most goals require a step-by-step process, so don’t be in a hurry. If you skip some steps, the result may be less than optimal. Taking your time and paying attention to the process will allow you to maximize success.

 

  • Any wire stretched too tight will snap. Piling too much on your to-do list won’t get you anywhere. Not only will you ratchet up your stress level, you’ll also be frazzled, make poor decisions, increase your anxiety and probably sleep fitfully. Lighten the load. Put some space between tasks.

 

  • Be sure to pause to have fun. A natural breather is when you stop the frantic pace and do something you enjoy. This doesn’t have to be anything major. A simple walk outdoors can work wonders. So, can reading a book, gardening, having coffee with friends, going shopping or whatever. The task, project or endeavor you’re so hot to finish will still be there after your break. The added benefit is that you’ll likely find new insights, be more motivated and complete the last few steps with ease because of slowing down for a short time.

 

  • Ask for help. It’s perfectly OK to ask others for assistance when needed. You’d do the same for them, right? If so, feel free to request their help now. If not, resolve (and tell them this) that you’ll reciprocate. Building in this lifeline helps you to slow down and simultaneously concentrate on the task at hand. You’re not worried about all the other things you don’t have time to do and can freely tend to what you’re doing now. And the result will likely be more advantageous as well.

 

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Daily Thoughts


December 17, 2016

Choose Your Attitude
Photo by Arto Marttinen/Unsplash

Photo by Arto Marttinen/Unsplash

“The remarkable thing is, we have a choice everyday regarding the attitude we will embrace for that day.” – Charles R. Swindoll

 

Getting up each day may seem like a habit, a boring or glorious way to start the next 18 or so hours of wakefulness. But what we do every day is so much more than that. Indeed, how we prepare ourselves for the day shapes our experiences.

That preparation involves choice.

You might not think about it, but you make the choice as soon as you get up how you’ll embrace the day. It’s all in the attitude you decide to adopt.

That’s right. You choose your attitude. It doesn’t choose you.

Suppose you know you’ve got a big problem you know you must deal with? Or you’re still recuperating from an illness, surgery or accident? What if you’re still dealing with one of the numerous stages of grief? How can choosing your attitude help you in these troubling circumstances?

The truth is that we all must navigate difficult times, pick ourselves up and take on challenges. We can allow ourselves to feel defeated before we begin, or make the decision to proceed with hope and give whatever the task, project or situation we must grapple with our best efforts.

This holds true as well for expectations, desires, much-anticipated plans. If we can’t wait to get out of bed because today is the day we’re getting married, receiving a promotion, going to a party, taking our kids on a holiday, or some other scheduled event we’re looking forward to, choosing the appropriate mindset helps set the stage for all that’s to come. Even if things don’t turn out as expected, a hopeful, positive attitude will help in overcoming obstacles and coping with disappointments.

A confident attitude ensures that you know you’ll be able to draw upon internal resources when you need them. Such an outlook also mentally prepares you to eagerly take on more difficult challenges, almost as a way to step up your progress. When you adopt and project confidence, this highly positive attitude is proactive. Others notice as well, and can be affected by it.

I don’t know about you, but I love the concept of self-choice. In my youth, it wasn’t always so. I was bothered by things I felt were out of my control and felt that there was nothing I could do about it. For example, my father died when I was 13. I was devastated for a long time, even believed I had something to do with his death. I didn’t. He died nearly instantly from a massive coronary occlusion (a heart attack). Still, the guilt and sadness persisted for far too long, robbing me of joy of living.

Granted, going through the stages of grief is tough. I’m sure I’m not alone in realizing that. Yet I did eventually learn how to cherish the happy times my dad and I shared rather than focus on how miserable I felt when he was gone. I knew instinctively that he’d want me to live a good life, to follow my dreams and be an excited, curious adventurer. That inspired me so much that it’s how I choose to live today.

Keep in mind that when you choose your attitude, this doesn’t mean you won’t face problems, make mistakes, feel disappointment or pain. What it does mean is that you summon the attitude you want to help you navigate everything and anything today brings – the good and the bad. And your choice helps determine how all that unfolds.

  • Attitude makes the difference between feeling a sense of accomplishment despite setbacks or succumbing to feelings of anger, self-pity, worthlessness and despair.

 

  • Attitude makes success more satisfying.

 

  • Attitude projects your beliefs and values like a beacon for others to see, perhaps challenge you on, perhaps to admire and emulate.

 

  • Attitude helps generate and maintain momentum.

 

  • Attitude fuels curiosity and stimulates creativity.

 

  • Attitude serves you well your entire life.

 

  • And you choose your attitude.

 

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Daily Thoughts


December 16, 2016

How to Get Unstuck
Photo by Kalen Emsley/Unsplash

Photo by Kalen Emsley/Unsplash

“Being aware of the bondage is enough to free you from its clutches.” – Amma

 

Feeling tied up in knots? Stuck in a pattern of dysfunctional behavior? Trapped in negativity? Everyone experiences misfortune, mistakes and disappointments, but when bad things pile up and it feels impossible to break free, that’s when it’s decision-making time. If you want to get unstuck, you must first acknowledge you are stuck.

You also must want to break free.

Talking about casting off ties that bind is often easier said than done. I know. I’ve wrestled with feeling trapped myself. I know it’s not the simplest or quickest endeavor to gain freedom.

The knowledge that it is possible to get unstuck may be enough to inspire you. Maybe you have friends who did it and you can talk with them about the approaches they took to get their lives back into balance. Maybe you think you need to suffer through it a while longer, or are struggling to learn the lessons inherent in your time in captivity (your personal experiences of being stuck).

Whatever your initial reaction to your ability to get unstuck, here are some suggestions on how to do just that.

  • Analyze your situation. The goal here is to pinpoint what it is in your life that contributes to your feeling of being stuck. Once you narrow the list to a few key areas, you’ll be better able to work on removing the roadblocks and breaking free.

 

  • Figure out what’s missing. What do you need in the way of resources, whether financial, acquisition of information or data, emotional support, more time, flexibility of schedules, elimination of some overlapping responsibilities, or something else? By zeroing in on what you need, you can take steps to get it, or find a workaround that allows you to move ahead toward goals and get out from being stuck where you are.

 

  • Decide that you can. A big part of the ability to throw off what’s holding you back is the conscious decision that you can do this. It might begin by you telling yourself this, almost like a daily mantra you repeat until it starts to take hold. You must believe that you’re capable to be willing to put in the effort required to break free. When you decide that you can, you’re taking the first step to bringing this heartfelt desire into reality.

 

  • Put together a plan and a timetable. You can’t begin a journey without some sort of roadmap. In the same way, if you hope to be successful getting out of the trap you find yourself in (whatever form that self-imprisonment takes), you need a plan and a schedule. The plan includes short- and long-term milestones or stages to complete. The schedule is an estimation of how long it will take to achieve the individual stages as well as the overall goal.

 

  • Be flexible. Consider the fact that you’ll encounter additional information, gain new insights, valuable contacts and discover other potential opportunities to explore. To keep your options open and provide maximum self-fulfillment and sense of purpose, resolve to be flexible. This means you’re willing to adjust your plans, timetable and even goals to accommodate changing wants and needs. When you’re not so rigidly adhering to a fixed plan, you also gain a greater sense of self-empowerment, which in turn, tends to break down the barriers that have held you back.

 

  • Spend time each day doing what you love. There’s nothing more powerful to help decimate a feeling of being trapped than involving yourself in some activity or project you enjoy. When you spend time daily doing what you love, the rest of your day that you use working toward goals and taking care of everyday responsibilities seems less difficult, burdensome or out of reach. Something as simple as taking an early evening walk to watch the sunset can produce an incredible sense of well-being.

 

  • Realize this is a process. You didn’t get stuck overnight and it will take some time to break free. Accept this fact and be willing to go through the process.

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Daily Thoughts


December 15, 2016

Heartfelt Efforts Can Change You
Photo by Land Song/Unsplash

Photo by Land Song/Unsplash

“By prizing heartfulness above faultlessness, we may reap more from our effort because we’re more likely to be changed by it.” – Sharon Salzberg

 

If no one is perfect, there should be no point in blaming ourselves for our faults. Learn from them, sure, but don’t engage in self-criticism because of mistakes. Heartfulness, on the other hand, offers potential benefits beyond the realization of the moment. When acting in a heartfelt manner, you’re coming from a place of pureness, genuine emotion and intention.

Looking deeper, heartfulness is rooted in positivity and goodness, while faultlessness emerges from a desire to erase all negativity, striving to achieve the unattainable – perfection.

If you want to be changed by something, it’s more likely to happen because of your heartfelt efforts rather than being proud of committing zero errors.

Here are two examples that demonstrate the difference between a heartfelt effort and one that is driven by a need for faultlessness. Both involve a project at work.

  • Example 1: Mary is working on an assignment when her co-worker gets an urgent call from their mutual boss demanding project results. The co-worker, John, is far behind and can’t possibly produce the report without help. Mary offers to assist John out of the goodness of her heart and without any expectation of reciprocity. After they complete the project and John delivers it to their boss, Mary feels changed by her effort. It felt good to help, even though she now had to work a little later to finish her own assignments. Demonstrating heartfulness, Mary learns a valuable lesson: helping others makes you feel good.

 

  • Example 2: Mary sees that her co-worker John is struggling to finish a project that the boss is demanding immediately. Proud that she’s always on top of her deadlines, Mary ignores John’s frustrations and avoids his attempts to get her attention. Mary doesn’t want to be dragged down by John’s procrastination, believing it’s an innate fault of his, not hers. Mary may think she’s faultless, but she’s not. And her perfectionist pride cloaks her ability to gain anything from this experience.

Doesn’t acting out of the fullness of your heart make you a sap, ripe for being taken advantage of? On the contrary, heartfulness has nothing to do with being unrealistic or allowing others to prey on your willingness to lend a hand. It’s easier to see how someone who can’t bear faults is the sap. He or she misses the opportunity to benefit from selflessness and generosity, the kind that results from stepping outside yourself and your immediate concerns and offering assistance, a kind word, spending time with someone who needs a friend, listening to another’s troubles and offering encouragement and support.

Think about the most important experiences in your life, ones that changed you greatly. These are the moments indelibly etched in your mind, a constant reminder of what is and can be. Examine them closely and you’ll likely find that the best changes resulted from heartfelt efforts.

 

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Daily Thoughts


December 14, 2016

Light Heals
Photo by Blake Richard Verdoorn/Unsplash

Photo by Blake Richard Verdoorn/Unsplash

“The wound is the place where light enters you.” – Rumi

 

I love this quote. It makes me think of a supernatural power zapping the healing balm of light into a diseased, injured or dying body and instantly revives it. My mind also conjures images of struggling plants bent over nearly to the ground, starved for light, and how they spring to life when the sun’s radiance reaches them (along with adequate water, of course).

Think too of lasers. They’re a form of light that heals wounds. Specifically, laser stands for “light amplification by stimulated emission of radiation,” according to the FDA. Contemplate a laser focused on a cataract, destroying tumors, remove wrinkles and sunspots, diseased tissues and treat bleeding blood vessels. Lasers, in fact, have many diagnostic, cosmetic, therapeutic and preventive applications.

To me, lasers are light.

I know them well (the cataract surgery, a bout with skin cancer, possibly a few other medical procedures where I was unaware lasers were the chosen technique, but benefitted greatly from their use).

Broadening the concept of light healing, imagine how light exposure helps lift depression. People with seasonal affective disorder (SAD), a type of major depression, can get better with bright light therapy treatment.

Taking walks outside in the sunlight also is therapeutic to lighten mood. Granted, this is in combination with the exercise from walking, getting more oxygen into the lungs, taking a break from stressful routines and being with friends. But light is still a core component of the healing effect.

When you feel emotionally and spiritually damaged, praying to a Higher Power can fill you with the light of love, the kind of light that can dispel what can’t be seen and make whole what feels fragmented and lost. Talk about the healing power of light.

With Christmas holidays approaching, what a wonderful time to think about the extraordinary power of light. The twinkling holiday lights are but a reminder that we’re drawn to and derive healthy benefits from exposure to the right kind of light at just the most appropriate time.

 

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Daily Thoughts


December 13, 2016

You're Not Perfect -- Hooray!
Photo by Arkady Lifshits/Unsplash

Photo by Arkady Lifshits/Unsplash

 

“Understanding the difference between healthy striving and perfectionism is critical to laying down the shield and picking up your life. Research shows that perfectionism hampers success. In fact, it’s often the path to depression, anxiety, addiction, and life paralysis.” -- Brené Brown

 

It’s a fact that almost everyone wants to get ahead. I know I do. Rather, let me amend that statement. I used to want that more than anything. Now I prefer to live a life of abundance: of spirit, joy, surrounded by loving family and friends, healthy, content and curious, willing to go out of my way to help others, to rejoice in the goodness of others.

Trying too hard to be perfect never gets you anywhere. I learned that a long time ago. Granted, you make mistakes. Everyone does. Some of mine have been colossal blunders, while others were the result of being too hasty or careless or skipping some steps in pursuit of a goal. After beating myself up about it, I finally figured out that such hyper self-criticism was a waste of time. It made more sense to determine the lesson from the failure, if for no other reason than to not repeat it again. But perfectionism, trying to be perfect? That’s an impossibility and a losing strategy.

On the other hand, striving to do better is an effective approach. With a worthwhile goal providing motivation, healthy striving can lead to a richer and more fulfilling life.

Suppose you’re not very good at math and want to become more proficient. Or you want to train yourself to be better at differentiating differences and spotting changes, as in identifying what’s different in a field of changing icons and images in a brain teaser game online. With diligent practice and the belief that you can improve your skill, you do indeed get better. That’s not trying to be perfect, but striving to improve. The former is a hopeless pursuit, the latter laudable and likely to succeed.

In an average day, most of us experience a few disappointments, make the wrong turn, put the wrong ingredient in a recipe, rush through a quiz and make a few mistakes, something that we consider a failure, blunder, mistake or wrong move. With the mindset that demands perfectionism, we’re likely to continue to spiral down, never quite making the mark and sinking deeper into a less hopeful state.

On the other hand, by taking mistakes, disappointments and failures in stride and striving to do better, we’re bolstering our resilience, maintaining good balance and promoting a healthy way of living.

Having witnessed a few friends and acquaintances who’ve succumbed to the false siren song of perfectionism – and coming close myself on one or two situations – I know that the preferred and much more effective and satisfying way to live is to engage in healthy pursuit of achievable goals.

If you tend to believe the same way I do, you’re not perfect – hooray! Neither am I, thankfully. Life is so much more enjoyable this way.

 

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Daily Thoughts


December 12, 2016

You Always Have Value
Photo by Ben White/Unsplash

Photo by Ben White/Unsplash

"You are always a valuable, worthwhile human being – not because anybody says so, not because you’re successful, not because you make a lot of money – but because you decide to believe it and for no other reason.” – Wayne Dyer

 

Plumbing the depths to find self-worth only to come up empty? The truth is that we’ve all been there at one point in our lives when things looked bleakest and hope seemed to have disappeared. At such times, not only did we feel hopeless and helpless, but worthless as well. Finding any value in what we did was also incredibly hard.

What we didn’t realize then – and may have a tough time believing now – is that we always have value. The key is to tell ourselves so over and over until it sinks in and we begin to believe it.

Think about what it means to have value and worth. These are not attributes someone else bestows upon us, at least not any human. One can argue that God gives us value and worth and that without these, we’d be animals. That may be the subject of a philosophical discussion, but there’s likely some merit in the concept. For now, however, the focus is more on how our internal beliefs help shape and motivate our actions and determine the extent to which we live a life of joy and purposefulness.

Making tons of money may sound good, like a panacea to solve all problems, but it rarely happens and almost never works. Just as you can’t buy happiness, having a stack of cash won’t ensure that you feel any better about yourself than when you were an average, hard-working individual.

Being a household name or the CEO of a thriving company similarly doesn’t catapult you into the category of high self-esteem, self-worth and value. It’s important to remember that value has nothing to do with dollars and cents, with titles or material possessions, or celebrity or stature in the community.

If you’re coming from a place of self-doubt, the realization that you always have value may take some time to bubble up. It is there, your value and self-worth. It just needs patience on your part to discover and nurture it.

How can you do that? Here are some suggestions:

  • Strike the word worthless from your vocabulary. Replace it with worthwhile.

 

  • Strive to see the positive in everything you do, from the seemingly trivial to the most important decisions you make. This means looking at each potential action and weighing the possible outcomes, both positive and negative, and choosing the course that offers the most hopeful result.

 

  • Savor the goodness of life, for it is all around you. How you view life helps shape how you live it. You can do good things, emanating from the goodness of your spirit, or bad things, in an impulsive, punishing, lashing-out way. Goodness is more powerful than evil. You can do more to bring about goodness in the world and, in so doing, elevate your own sense of value and worth.

 

  • Remember that each human being makes his or her own way in the world. And life is also short, so the time we have in it is precious, deserving of our best actions. How do you want to live your life so that it means more to you and helps you feel like you’ve contributed something worthwhile?

 

  • Always pursue self-improvement, making small advances toward overcoming perceived or real shortcomings, working to eliminate a tendency to be hypercritical of your efforts, giving yourself permission to make mistakes and learn from them. It’s from experience that wisdom comes – along with an increased sense of value and worth.

 

  • All you need to begin to believe you have value and worth is the decision to do so.

 

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Daily Thoughts


December 11, 2016

Get Over It
Photo by Averie Woodard/Unsplash

Photo by Averie Woodard/Unsplash

“Winning and losing are both very temporary things. Having done one or the other, you move on. Gloating over a victory or sulking over a loss is a good way to stand still.” – Chuck Knox

 

I don’t like being stuck. When something goes wrong – meaning, I’ve made a mistake – it’s a personal setback, to be sure. I don’t like it, but I’m not going to dwell on it any longer than necessary.

Similarly, once I’ve attained a goal I’ve worked hard for, I’m naturally going to indulge myself for a bit and feel good about what I accomplished. The tougher the goal, the more satisfying it feels to be on the other side of all the hard work. Still, I’m not going to sit still for too long congratulating myself. Besides being selfish, it doesn’t do much to motivate me. It also tends to tick off those around me.

Frankly, no one wants to be in the presence of a gloater or a sulker. While this applies universally, it’s also true that each of us has been there at one time or another. We’ve each stewed just a little too long in our misery or bragged more than appropriate about our wins.

Just get over it. It’s time to move on.

Something I’ve found effective is having a list handy of next projects I want to tackle. Of course, the list must contain things that are necessary as well as ones that are aspirational. A good mix is always recommended for upcoming projects. This serves to motivate, excite, remind and compel. Everyone needs some of each to get over whatever might contribute to being stuck in the moment and move on.

Easy enough to say, right? How do you get over yourself and move on after a glorious victory or an unexpected (or expected) loss or mistake? Here are some tips that may help:

  • Check your list. That’s right, keeping a list you can refer to gives you direction, something to do to get past your funk or over your self-congratulatory state. Pick something, anything, and get busy. When you’re active, you’re less likely to continue gloating or sulking.

 

  • Involve yourself in drudge work. This may sound counter-intuitive. After all, how can doing something boring or distasteful help you get over it? Pulling weeds in the garden is therapeutic, for example, and it also allows your mind to think beyond wins and losses. Fixing a plugged toilet may not be high on your list of aspirations, but it needs fixing, and if you can do it, you’ll be putting your skills and your energies to work and not ruminating over whatever you were stuck on.

 

  • Exercise. There’s nothing like the exhilaration after a hard workout to erase any residual feelings of gloating or sulking. Besides being good for your physical health, exercise is an excellent healer and stimulator for mental health. It isn’t necessary to have an expensive gym membership to exercise. Walking outdoors qualifies, as does swimming, biking, any number of activities that require physical effort.

 

  • Engage in problem-solving. Surely there’s some problem that requires a solution. Put your creative abilities to work and figure out some solutions that may prove workable. When you’re actively thinking how to fix a problem, you’re not stuck. You’re being proactive, resourceful and creative.

 

  • Help others. Your neighbor could possibly use your assistance cleaning out the gutters or shoveling snow from the driveway. Lend a hand to a co-worker who’s behind on a project that the team desperately needs completed. See what you can do to ease the burden of a family member overwhelmed with chores. When you’re helping others, there’s work to be done and little time to stew or chortle over other things.

 

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Daily Thoughts


December 10, 2016

Daring Starts Within
Photo by Patrick Chin/Death to Stock Photo

Photo by Patrick Chin/Death to Stock Photo

“A sheltered life can be a daring life as well. For all serious daring starts from within.” – Eudora Welty

 

Just because you’re not instantly famous or celebrated for your actions doesn’t mean you aren’t capable of daring. And daring here means challenging yourself to think and do things you’ve never attempted, thought impossible, too challenging or out of character.

Daring that has any hope of success begins in one place: within. If it’s something someone else tackles, that’s his or her daring at work, not yours. The impetus – indeed, the fierce motivation – must come from deep inside. It’s not an accident, but deliberate.

Suppose you want to become better at balancing the home budget, but never did well at mathematics. You might even joke about being mathematically challenged in a self-deprecating way. Secretly, however, you desire to hone your skill, to become more adept and capable in this important area.

Besides making you more efficient at managing home finances, adding to your ability to effectively budget will increase your self-esteem. Who knows what you might take on next?

It all begins with daring. And that starts inside.

What about Welty’s adjective of “serious” for daring? To me, anything you dare to do is serious. Whether it’s something that others consider major or minor is not as important as how you regard the challenge. In other words, if it means something to you, it’s serious enough.

Perhaps serious in this sense has more to do with intent. When you’re serious about something, you tend to follow through on it, whatever the effort and time it takes. If you give up prematurely, it could be argued that you weren’t serious about it, or not serious enough to persevere in the face of obstacles.

Personally, I like the idea that even a sheltered life can accommodate, even foster, daring. What challenges you or I might take on that no one else knows about or needs to know is rather thrilling. The benefits of self-advancement and self-achievement cannot be understated, no matter where they occur.

Dare to write a novel, pen a screenplay, author a blog, contribute anonymously to a worthwhile charity or cause, lend your support to family members who are in desperate need of encouragement. Take up scuba diving, trek a glacier, camp in the wilderness. Go back to school to learn physics or take up photography, woodworking, culinary arts. Challenge yourself to tackle what matters most in your life, whatever that is.

Daring starts within. And each of us is more than capable of tapping into that vast reservoir to realize the richness and fullness of life.

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Daily Thoughts


December 9, 2016

Just Relax
Photo by Jay Castor/Unsplash

Photo by Jay Castor/Unsplash

“Once you learn the art of relaxation, everything happens spontaneously and effortlessly.” – Amma

 

During hectic times, including the holidays and crunch time at work, home or school, it’s tough to remember that relaxation isn’t a luxury, but a necessity. If you want to maintain somewhat of an even keel, putting balance in your life requires taking some time to relax.

Who doesn’t want to relax, though. Isn’t this something near and dear to our hearts?

Actually, no.

Some of us have a difficult time slowing the treadmill, or getting off it temporarily. There’s just so much to do and so little time to get it all done. No wonder we’re frazzled, anxious, worried and vulnerable all at the same time.

Getting started on relaxation begins with the recognition and acceptance that this is something healthy and worthwhile. It isn’t stealing time from responsibilities, or abdicating them, or even telling yourself they’re not important. Far from it, in fact. By taking the time to relax you’re making yourself better able to deal with what needs to be done after you’ve caught your breath.

Besides, if you keep going at a breakneck pace, like the clock that’s wound too tight, you’re going to break or stop working. That’s never good, so putting some space and time at your personal disposal is an excellent strategy.

What you do for relaxation is also purely up to you. Find a hobby you’re interested in or haven’t taken the time to pursue lately and get involved. Grab a bottle of water and a warm coat and take a walk outside to clear your head and release the buildup of frustration and stress. A side benefit is that the exercise is good for your heart and body.

Carve out a 15-minute chunk of time and meditate. Or call a friend, go for coffee with a co-worker, read a book, take a nap. Whatever helps you settle into a comfortable breathing pattern, eases your mind and allows your thoughts to clear qualifies as relaxation.

Think how much easier it is to figure out a solution to a problem when you’re not jammed up. With a clear head, your brain can sort and assemble potential work-arounds with ease. There’s less emotion tied up to confuse things and it’s also easier to communicate.

The result of taking the time to relax is often a seamless outpouring that’s at once effortless and spontaneous.

Just relax.

 

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Daily Thoughts


December 8, 2016

Rekindle Your Light
Photo by Sam Schooler/Unsplash

Photo by Sam Schooler/Unsplash

“At times our own light goes out and is rekindled by a spark from another person. Each of us has cause to think with deep gratitude of those who have lighted the flame within us.” – Albert Schweitzer

 

This time of the year, everything feels dark and empty for some people. It may be due to the recent death of a loved one or that the holidays cause the pain of loss to resurface with a vengeance. Your personal light can be extinguished also because of overwork, stress, illness, lack of companionship, even a bout with sadness that won’t go away or a melancholy you can’t put your finger on.

Losing the joy of life is never pleasant, but it doesn’t have to be permanent. Fortunately, we can have our light rekindled, often by the love, support and encouragement from others.

This spark, so generously shared, can do wonders to allow light to spontaneously return. Instead of darkness and emptiness, there’s a feeling of hope that begins to emerge, however hesitating and small at first.

Having experienced the ache of loss on more than one occasion, I know full well how painful such darkness feels. In the depths of my sadness, I thought that nothing would ever feel good again, that the pain I felt would last forever. How I got through those agonizing weeks of grief is much like the healing path that so many others have gone through. It took time, being willing to go through the stages of grief, forcing myself to be with others, to attend to routines, to put one foot in front of the other and keep going.

As an adult and a parent, I know that life isn’t always wonderful and carefree. Challenges never end. Neither do situations where hopeful outcomes appear slim. Yet I’m encouraged by the constancy of goodness offered freely by others, even those with no stake or apparent gain for so doing.

I’m ever grateful for the love and warmth of those individuals. I hope I’ve been able to repay them, if not personally, by passing along my own spark to someone in need of having their light rekindled.

It is with the knowledge that life is precious and short that I wish to extend to each of you my heartfelt gratitude for being there for me. I hope to be there for you as well and that’s why I create Daily Thoughts and blog entries. In the New Year, I intend to expand my offerings, to reach more of you, to listen, learn and be amazed at your willingness to share your own experiences.

Together, let’s work to rekindle our light so that none of us remains in darkness any longer than necessary.

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Daily Thoughts


December 7, 2016

Go With the Moment
Photo by Leo Rivas-Micoud/Unsplash

Photo by Leo Rivas-Micoud/Unsplash

“Just be unattached as a child at play.” – Gangaji

 

How would it be to let go of all your concerns and fully participate in the moment? Feel the joy of playtime, the rush of doing something wonderfully fun, discovering something new, pushing yourself to explore unknown territory?

Children instinctively know how to do this. As adults, while we may have forgotten how, we can rekindle the ability to shake off troubles and concentrate fully on the present.

In short, we can relearn how to go with the moment.

Naturally, there are times when such spontaneity isn’t appropriate, as when the boss is clamoring for a report and you’re nowhere near finished, or you’ve just received bad news that demands immediate action. You can’t be unattached at such times.

Still, you can be in the moment, dedicated, zeroed in on what matters, adhering to a constancy of effort and making sure to accommodate deadlines.

But, back to having fun, being unattached as a child at play and going with the moment, here are a few suggestions on recapturing the wonder that children naturally express.

  • Turn off the self-censor button. That’s right, stop telling yourself no or that you can’t do something. This includes the notion that it’s not adult-like or you don’t have time for this or it’s just too silly. Instead, be open to the experience.

 

  • Give yourself permission to feel whatever you feel in the moment. This might be joy or delight or curiosity. It could entail a bit of trepidation or uncertainty, even a bit of fear. If it’s within the realm of possibility and doesn’t put you at an inordinate amount of risk, let your emotions play out. They may lead you to take action your self-censoring self previously prohibited. Who knows what you might learn?

 

  • Acknowledge that it’s OK to play, to have fun, to take a break from chores and responsibilities, to do something just because you enjoy it and want to nurture that part of yourself.

 

  • Know when it’s time to stop. Like a kid playing in the park with friends and the sunset signals time to go home, even if you’re having the time of your life, it’s important to know and abide by limits. There is a time for play and a time to tend to other things. By paying attention to both, the joy you feel in the moment is in no way minimized. Indeed, it’s all the sweeter. You may not remember the hours you toiled on a report, but you do remember how much fun you had working in the garden, celebrating a memorable milestone with a loved one, laughing with your friends, reading your favorite book.

 

  • When you’re in the zone, just go with it. You know the feeling. It’s energizing, motivating and inspiring, the knowledge that you can do almost anything. The possibilities that reveal themselves when you go with the moment are unlike anything you could have predetermined. That’s another benefit to learning how to go with the moment.

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Daily Thoughts


December 6, 2016

Wake Up to Insight
Photo by Simon Schmitt/Unsplash

Photo by Simon Schmitt/Unsplash

“The very first sign of waking up is the insight that we are not doomed to retrace our steps forever.” – Mingyur Rinpoche

 

To me, mornings are special. There’s something incredibly magical about waking up and being open to whatever I do today. I can forge a new path, leave mistakes behind, armed with valuable lessons and encouraged by those who care about me and vice-versa.

There are also interests to pursue, wrongs to right, places to explore, people to engage in conversation and so much more.

It hasn’t always been this way, however.

I used to dread getting up, worried about unfinished business, an argument left unresolved, harsh words that couldn’t be taken back, a colossal blunder that set back plans, you name it.

That line of thinking that you’re forever doomed to repeat your mistakes? That was me then.

Fortunately, with some good counsel and unflagging support and encouragement, I began to see that there isn’t anything already written about what I can and will do. This is entirely up to me. So, I’ve made mistakes, everyone has. The only thing irredeemable about making mistakes is not learning from them.

Lists help keep me on track with where I want to spend my energy and time, as well as provide direction, serve as constant reminders of my goals and inspire me to continue in the face of challenges and obstacles.

What is this change of mind and heart? It may be insight. That’s as good a concept as anything to explain why I now love mornings and the promise they bring. I’m a glass half-full now, instead of the glass half-empty.

This doesn’t mean I don’t experience delays and I don’t immediately reach all my goals. But that doesn’t stop me. In fact, when something happens to derail my progress, I tend to view it as a necessary pause to reflect, examine, and search for what life is putting in front of me to look at. There’s an opportunity here, and it’s up to me to figure it out.

I can’t think of anything more inspiring than to wake up to insight. Thankfully, I get to do this every day. You can, too.

 

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Daily Thoughts


December 5, 2016

The Power of Wonder
Photo by Babak Fakhamzadeh/Unsplash

Photo by Babak Fakhamzadeh/Unsplash

“The world will never starve for want of wonders; but only for want of wonder.” – G. K. Chesterton

 

As a noun, the Oxford dictionary defines wonder as “a feeling of surprise, mingled with admiration, caused by something beautiful, unexpected, unfamiliar, or inexplicable.” As a verb, wonder means “desire or be curious to know everything,” and “feel admiration and amazement; marvel.” The feeling of wonder and the act of wondering, then, are quite marvelous, indeed.

Wonders, on the other hand, are everywhere. Whether ancient or modern, newly developed, discovered or produced, wonders exist to be wondered at, to inspire, imitate, compel and spur action. They’re meant to be shared, revered, preserved and protected.

For this to happen, however, requires a sense of wonder for the wonders.

I wonder how many of us ever think about that.

Curiosity about the unknown, the tantalizing, the just-out-of-reach motivates some of us to go beyond what we’re comfortable with. We want to experience something new, to test our limits and broaden our capabilities. Most of all, we’re enjoying an innate part of our human nature that allows us to explore, discover and become enriched by that which previously remained unknown.

It’s a wonder we don’t wonder more about such things.

As for me, I regularly engage in wonder. For example, I wonder what I can do if I put my mind to a task that others say is beyond me, or that I’ve never done before, or that I just found out about and it intrigues me. My past attempts at difficult projects and challenges haven’t always been successful, but that never stopped me then and it won’t now.

I wonder why that is.

Fortunately, mankind is blessed with an insatiable curiosity and an undampened desire to discover and explore. Despite uncertainties, risks and potential danger, the allure of the unexpected, the unfamiliar and the inexplicable, as well as the beautiful, is undeniable.

Thank goodness for that. As a species, without the ability to experience a sense of wonder at all the wonders in the world, known and unknown, we’d have perished long ago.

The power of wonder, it seems, is good for all of us.

 

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Daily Thoughts


December 4, 2016

Attitude = Success or Failure
Photo by Patrick Chin/Death to Stock Photo

Photo by Patrick Chin/Death to Stock Photo

“Any fact facing us is not as important as our attitude toward it, for that determines our success or failure. The way you think about a fact may defeat you before you do anything about it. You are overcome by the fact because you think you are.” – Norman Vincent Peale

 

Why is it so often recommended to have a good attitude? Seems like such a simple suggestion, right? What sounds so easy isn’t always so easily accomplished. For one thing, there’s all the baggage everyone carries, all the reasons why something can’t be done, has never been done, couldn’t possibly be done or even shouldn’t be done.

As Dr. Peale so wisely counseled, such a defeatist attitude literally ensures failure. Anyone who believes they’re not capable of something will take the actions that will make that belief a reality.

Attitude, then, determines success or failure in most situations. This isn’t just a feel-good statement but a proclamation of fact.

What about situations that are out of your control? For example, building a house and it’s destroyed by a flood, tornado, fire, earthquake or other natural disaster? Surely attitude didn’t determine that outcome.

True, a person’s attitude won’t protect against unforeseen forces of nature. But attitude has everything to do with how the individual handles the disaster, what they’re willing and believe themselves capable of doing in the aftermath. Human nature is, after all, resilient, resourceful, determined and pragmatic, along with creative, hopeful and generous. Attitude makes the difference here.

Suppose you’ve never been much good at following through. Thus, your results or accomplishments to date are slim or dismal. If you find that your tally is more failure than success, maybe adopting a change of attitude is a step in the right direction. You don’t really have anything to lose and everything to gain.

Start by replacing can’t with can, no with yes, impossible to possible. Research before you leap to action. Enlist help instead of going it alone. Persist despite obstacles. Learn the lessons from mistakes and failures so that you’re more knowledgeable going forward. Believe that you can and you will start to succeed.

As for which accomplishments count as successes, that’s easy: they all do. Every single action you take that results in a favorable outcome, however minor the victory, is still a positive result. If you don’t achieve the exact outcome you envisioned but made progress toward the goal, that’s a success. If you failed but learned an important lesson, there’s a measure of success there.

Keep in mind that life offers endless opportunities to get it right, to achieve goals and realize dreams. Attitude is a crucial component in how you feel once you get there. Success or failure? It’s all about attitude.

 

 

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Daily Thoughts


December 3, 2016

What's Your Goal Timeline?
Photo by Glen Carrie/Unsplash

Photo by Glen Carrie/Unsplash

“You must take action now that will move you towards your goals. Develop a sense of urgency in your life.” – H. Jackson Browne, Jr.

 

Having a list of goals that you do nothing about is not going to get you anywhere. Goals require two things: a plan and action. One could argue that there’s a third requirement of analysis after achievement or failure, but that’s another discussion. Part of the plan for any goal must include a timeline. Too many people neglect to consider timing when thinking about their goals, thus, they often don’t get started to begin with.

If someone were to ask you today what you want to do with your life, what would you answer? Would you refer to your list of goals and rattle them off like so many laudable achievements you hope to attain? Could it be that your list consists of goals you only include because you think others approve of them, not ones you have any intention of pursuing?

Suppose you say you want to get your degree. That’s a terrific goal, one that anyone should be proud of. The next question you might receive, however, is asking what you’re doing about it. If you have no response, or must make up one, it’s likely you haven’t done anything to further your goal. In fact, it may not be in your timeline at all.

It’s easy to be intimidated by creating timelines. After all, committing something to paper or voicing it aloud tends to give it permanence. Maybe you feel you can’t decide later you don’t want that goal and this is what causes hesitation to commit to a timeline. If this is the case, keep in mind that goals and timelines and plans must remain fluid to take advantage of opportunities that arise, of new information that becomes available, as well as changing priorities and interests.

This is your life, after all. You are the one who will take the action to achieve your goals or make the conscious decision to let them remain unpursued. If there are goals you firmly desire, you must act to see them to completion. That action must begin now.

Spurring yourself to act means creating a sense of urgency, acknowledging that time slips away fast and goals unpursued will forever remain unachieved. What you want for tomorrow demands attention and action today, if only taking the time to put in some effort to make headway. Using the degree example, this might mean registering for school, taking a class, doing the homework and scoring well on tests. It’s but one class in a string of required coursework, yet it’s an important contribution to the goal.

Whatever your goal, figure out your timeline. Then, put fire to your feet and get busy.

 

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Daily Thoughts


December 2, 2016

Mistakes Are Useful
Photo by Tim Marshall/Unsplash

Photo by Tim Marshall/Unsplash

 

“A life spent making mistakes is not only more honorable but more useful than a life spent doing nothing.” – George Bernard Shaw

 

That sinking feeling that you’ve just made a mistake is something familiar to most of us. In fact, you know almost immediately when a choice you’ve made turns out not the way you expected. Instead of an “Ah-ha!” moment, it’s an “Uh-oh” that you feel.

Not to worry. Humans make mistakes for a reason. Mistakes teach us valuable lessons – if we’re open to receiving them and making use of the knowledge they impart.

If you never want to make a mistake, curl up in a ball on the couch and do nothing. You won’t go anywhere or experience anything other than boredom, but you’ll be able to prevent many mistakes. There is one underlying fallacy in the doing nothing approach, however, and that is that it’s a mistake. The question is, do you learn anything from it?

Granted, it feels awful to make mistakes. No one likes them. But do you know anyone who’s never made a mistake? Maybe it only appears that they haven’t because they’ve incorporated the lesson and didn’t repeat the error.

How mistakes happen is also sometimes perplexing. It could be something you missed, a step you skirted because you were in a hurry and tried to cut corners. You might have proceeded without sufficient data or failed to consider important research. Perhaps you took on too much and were not able to complete a project or task, and it failed. Maybe you were in over your head and your pride kept you from asking for help.

In each case, there’s a lesson to be learned. In each case, the mistake proves your humanity. Mistakes are useful, besides being honorable.

Instead of fearing them, accept the opportunity to gain insight and knowledge. While you might make several mistakes in pursuit of a single goal, when you achieve that goal it will be worth the effort.

 

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Daily Thoughts


December 1, 2016

An Infinity of Choices
Photo by Paul Itkin/Unsplash

Photo by Paul Itkin/Unsplash

“You and I are essentially infinite choice-makers. In every moment of our existence, we are in that field of all possibilities where we have access to an infinity of choices.” – Deepak Chopra

 

When we hear someone say, or use the statement ourselves, that we don’t have a choice, that’s skirting the truth. We do have choices. In fact, there is at all times an infinite array of choices from which to select.

Why, then, does the habit persist to deny our freedom of choice?

In retrospect, many of the choices I’ve made in my own life – and, I suspect, others can identify the same in their own choices – have come after first making the categorical statement that I didn’t have a choice. Most of those choices may not have been the best. Perhaps I selected them because they offered a quicker solution or an easier option.

We do what we do for our own selfish reasons much of the time. It takes a certain maturity to be able to make well-informed and responsible choices that take the well-being of others into consideration as well as our own.

Still, staring at an infinity of choices can be a bit unsettling. After all, how in the world are you ever to figure out which is the right one?

The only way to make choices is through careful examination of the pros and cons, the potential consequences or ramifications of a course of action compared with another.

Sometimes you make the right choice, sometimes you don’t. There’s always next time or the potential to revise your choice, to correct a mistake or alter your decision to incorporate new information and consideration.

Having been on the wrong end of several decisions I’ve made, I can honestly say that it is a learning experience that never ends. Even when I’m happy with my choices, I know there might be better ones. Thus, I remain open to them, with the knowledge that I’m free to make new choices.

I’m also responsible for my choices – all of them. There’s no escaping the ramifications of my decisions. Similarly, I can take pride in knowing that I’ve made a few good ones.

Intent means a lot when it comes to making choices. I like the fact that there’s an endless

s stream of choices I can select from, rather than feeling limited in my options. Sometimes I need to research what’s available to make an informed choice. Sometimes I go with my gut. Other times I rely on the counsel of trusted friends, loved ones, mentors or others.

In the end, though, I’m the one who makes the choice. I’m thankful I have so many to choose from.

I encourage each of you to approach making choices with a spirit of hope and a profound gratitude that you have an infinity of choices from which to choose.

 

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Daily Thoughts


November 30, 2016

Be Victorious
Photo by Joshua Earle/Unsplash

Photo by Joshua Earle/Unsplash

“Something very beautiful happens to people when their world has fallen apart: a humility, a nobility, a higher intelligence emerges just at the point their knees hit the floor.” – Marianne Williamson

 

Has your world ever fallen apart? When a tragedy strikes, your mind goes blank. You feel like the ground slips away and you’re flailing, unable to grab hold of anything secure. I know. I’ve been there.

It doesn’t have to be a horrific accident or receiving a diagnosis of cancer to feel like you’re adrift. You might lose your job, get demoted, your house could burn down, the bills pile up and you can’t pay them and feed your family. You’ve done something terrible and your friends won’t talk to you. Maybe you’re just at the end of your emotional strength and feel hopeless, devastated and lost.

Again, I’ve been there.

In fact, most of us can probably relate to one or more instances where we’ve felt like everything we knew and counted on seemed gone.

It’s at times such as this that we summon the vestige of courage that resides within. We realize with such clarity as to be blinding that we still have much to be thankful for. We’re still alive and able to make choices that will affect our future. We may have made mistakes, suffered enormously, failed bitterly, but we are not down and out.

Prayer, I’ve found, does wonders to restore a sense of peace, if not hope. It isn’t that the situation immediately changes, for it rarely does so that quickly. But prayer isn’t about magically erasing everything that’s happened. It’s about accepting what is, asking for guidance and finding the strength to continue despite all obstacles and challenges.

When life is distilled to the most basic needs: food, shelter, water, air, sleep, safety and security, things get very clear in a hurry. You tend to what matters most, and that means taking care of yourself and your loved ones. Extraneous items and luxuries don’t make the cut, not for now, anyway.

All the self-delusions fall away as well, replaced by a simplicity of thinking that both motivates and encourages. Be, exist, help others, find joy in living.

This is the essence, to be victorious, even in the most demanding and challenging of circumstances. While you cannot always change what happens, you are very much in charge of how you decide to respond. You make the choices. You are at the helm. It’s your life. Be victorious.

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Daily Thoughts


November 29, 2016

Take Every Experience
Photo by Lili Popper/Unsplash

Photo by Lili Popper/Unsplash

“It is important to expect nothing, to take every experience, including the negative ones, as merely steps on the path, and to proceed.” – Ram Dass

 

If you want to fully realize life, you must embrace all kinds of experiences. The good and the bad, the normal and out-of-the-ordinary, the expected and unexpected. Filtering out all that might prove distasteful, disappointing, time-consuming, sad or painful or any of a hundred different negatives is not only a mind-boggling effort, it’s also fruitless. Things will happen, regardless. And trying to ignore or avoid them won’t make you any happier or more fulfilled.

Expecting nothing, on the other hand, and being open to any and all experiences, will enrich your life, deepen your knowledge, add to your skills and ability to make good decisions.

The path is unknown for a reason. Life is mysterious, sometimes deliciously enticing and other times seemingly deliberately misleading. We venture down a path thinking it will lead to a specified outcome, yet are surprised when it reveals something completely different. We may have a plan and feel bound to rigidly adhere to it, despite opportunities that now present themselves, and thereby miss the deep and enriching experience altogether. But a willingness to step along the mysterious and unknown path, even with reservations and a little anxiety, will serve to add zest and variety to life.

The knowledge that you can stop at any point should also be comforting. There’s no need to put yourself in harm’s way. Indeed, making use of good judgment to avert danger and take a less perilous path is a sign of maturity. Just take a different path and be open to what you encounter along the way.

Consider that some paths you’ve been down have turned out quite unlike anything you’ve ever experienced. These become memorable for their differences, especially the exposure to something new, to meeting new people and involving yourself in an activity you’ve never done before or possibly even thought about doing. You might conclude that you don’t like the experience or just the opposite, but you benefit from going through it.

It might not seem like it at the time, but in retrospect, it will.

Allow yourself to contemplate the path ahead and give yourself permission and a well-placed self-nudge to proceed.

All experiences are worthwhile when you learn something from them. It’s called living life to the fullest.

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Daily Thoughts


November 28, 2016

Frustrated By Technology?
Photo by Tim Gouw/Unsplash

Photo by Tim Gouw/Unsplash

“For a list of all the ways technology has failed to improve the quality of life, please press three.” – Alice Kahn

 

I don’t know about you, but I’m going to do almost all my holiday shopping online. I’ve done a lot of it already, but since there are some good deals today on Cyber Monday, I’ll just have to get back into it. Technology sometimes fails to deliver, and that’s certainly annoying, diminishing my quality of life at least temporarily.

I’m sure I’m not alone in being frustrated by technology. Frozen screens, long load times, shopping carts that don’t go anywhere and you must start over. And this is just a start of the long list of aggravations online technology delivers daily.

Since I’m on the Internet most of the day, every day, I opted for a superfast connection speed of 300 Megabytes per second (Mbps). I figure it’s worth it to me to save time and get things done quicker. I also have multiple windows open at once, use several browsers simultaneously, take advantage of the cloud for storage and downloads and lots more technological advances unheard of a few years ago.

It’s still frustrating to deal with technological glitches.

And that applies to all types of technology, not merely computers and the Internet.

Take the automated systems you encounter when you call almost any company. The chance that you’ll wind up in a dead zone or get disconnected or wind up in some far-flung area of the company with absolutely no link to what you’re calling about is so commonplace it’s laughable. Hang up and try again? Wait in a queue for an hour and a half? Finally reach someone who can’t handle your problem or issue?

Tell me about it.

Still, we’re a lot better off than we were in early 1995, around the time the Internet started to grow. Remember those byzantine computers, the agonizingly slow dial-up connections? I was working halfway across the country and commuting home on weekends to the coast and depended on the Internet for a lifeline to family, university classes, business associates and friends, and so much more. Thinking back, I remember how I lost my assignments in the dead zone of cyberspace and spent hours trying to upload them repeatedly.

Overall, however, I’d have to say that technology has benefitted my quality of life to the extent that it saves me time and energy. I don’t have to physically travel to multiple grocery stores to know which one has the best deal on ketchup or hot dogs or nonfat milk. I can easily compare prices of sneakers and makeup and get free shipping. I’ve even bought electronics, computers and major appliances online. Score big for what technology can do.

On the other hand, right now I’ve been dealing with some inexplicable snafu with my computer that the level 2 techs at Microsoft seem at a loss to explain or fix. I can’t get Edge or my Outlook, but I can access sites through Firefox and Chrome. Good thing there are alternatives. It could be worse. I could have a total hard drive failure or fatal error involving downtime of several days.

Overall, though, I’d have to say we’re better off with much of today’s technology than without it. If you’re frustrated with all the latest tech gadgets and gizmos, maybe taking a tech-free holiday is a perfect solution. At least for a short while.

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Daily Thoughts


November 27, 2016

Love More, Be Happy
Photo by Greg Rakozy/Unsplash

Photo by Greg Rakozy/Unsplash

“When all your desires are distilled, you will cast two votes: to love more, and be happy.” – Hafiz

 

Nearing the end of the year is a time for celebration and reflection, for giving thanks for the gifts we’ve been given and acknowledging the blessings bestowed upon us. It’s also a time that when we’re awash in memories, some sweet and loving, others bittersweet, a few melancholy and painful.

We also look forward to the year ahead, to changes we want to make and to doing things a bit differently. Learning from our mistakes should be a priority, so that we don’t repeat what we did wrong or didn’t turn out as expected or desired.

Speaking of desires, we have many. We want to be fulfilled, to love and be happy, to be financially sound, to have a comfortable home environment, to enjoy the company of our friends, to realize our hopes and dreams, among others. But if we were pressed to narrow our list of desires down to the most essential, we’d likely single out love and happiness.

Without love, life is barren and unfulfilled. It’s also impossible to be happy in the absence of love, so happiness must go together with love.

When you love, and are happy, all other things are possible.

So, as we approach the end of this year, make it a point to do all you can to demonstrate your love – for family, friends, co-workers, neighbors, mankind. Find the kernel of happiness that exists in each passing day and treasure the moment.

Life is precious and short. Maximize what it offers. Reach out, extend yourself, go beyond your comfort zone to show your genuineness, empathy and humanity.

Love more, and be happy.

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Daily Thoughts


November 26, 2016

Let's Hear It For Love
Photo by Mayur Gala/Unsplash

Photo by Mayur Gala/Unsplash

“Love all, trust a few, do wrong to none.” – Shakespeare

 

When it comes to words of wisdom, words to live by, Shakespeare’s advice about loving others holds a lot of merit. Considering that love encompasses different forms, from familial to friendship-based to romantic and unconditional love, it’s possible to see that love is a very powerful and broad-based emotion.

Love is also inclusive, encompassing, forgiving and welcoming.

But it’s not always so easy to do.

When we have a problem with a co-worker, a disagreement with a neighbor, an argument with a loved one, family member or friend, get delayed by traffic, wake up feeling out of sorts or experience any number of complaints, disappointments, failures or setbacks, love isn’t the first emotion we feel.

It may not even be the second, or occur at all.

Still, it’s worth remembering that everyone has a bad day and most of what we encounter isn’t personally directed at us. It may be, however, but that doesn’t mean the other person doesn’t have some feelings of love, responsibility, empathy or friendship for us. The situation generally isn’t beyond remedy, given understanding and time.

What about instances of unforgivable actions, when irreparable harm has been done? How can love help here? That discussion is best left to philosophers, but what may help is a self-love that doesn’t allow a person to be mired in anger and a desire for vengeance. Forgiveness goes a long way toward restoring balance. Keep in mind that when you forgive, it’s more for you than the other person. By forgiving even what feels unforgivable, you’re able to move on.

Loving all doesn’t mean you wear your heart on your sleeve or tell your deepest secrets to anyone. Keep your trust to a few who can be trusted. And make it a point to do no wrong or deliberately bring harm to anyone.

Love is expansive, life-affirming, vibrant and fulfilling. Let’s hear it for love.

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Daily Thoughts


November 25, 2016

Own Your Mistakes
Photo by Ryan McGuire/Gratisography

Photo by Ryan McGuire/Gratisography

“Do not confuse decision-making with destiny. Own your mistakes. It’s OK; we all make them. Learn from them so they can empower you.” – Steve Maraboli

 

Rushing around on Black Friday? Trying to snag just the right deal, snap up the item your child dreams about or your loved one will shriek in joy to receive? Maybe you’re smart enough to shop virtually, even ahead of Cyber Monday. Maybe you feel like Grinch and studiously avoid the traffic jams and insane behavior of shoppers. Maybe you simply want peace and quiet today, if possible.

What does shopping behavior and consumer attitude have to do with owning your mistakes? The reality is that everyone makes mistakes. There’s no single day to point to that epitomizes such behavior, although the day after Thanksgiving makes the news for specific instances of rude, hostile and dangerous behavior on the part of some.

Is it a mistake to push and shove, to claim to have a coupon or emailed offer when you don’t, to bad-mouth the person in line in front of you, to talk loudly on your cell phone without any regard to those around you?

Maybe not a mistake in the classic sense of something that results in negative consequences, but quite likely a mistake in judgement and decision-making. You are the one who must live with what you’ve said and done, even if you rationalize your behavior as somehow appropriate for the times. It isn’t. There’s never an excuse for such ill-considerate behavior. To my mind, that’s always a mistake and one each of us needs to reckon with.

Certainly, there are plenty of other mistakes that take their toll as well. Advising a co-worker or neighbor or family member or friend to do something you wouldn’t do personally, or give bad advice off the top of your head without thinking it through are examples of mistakes. These can cause some damage to the relationship, if not permanently, at least temporarily.

Mistakes don’t have to be intentional. Many, in fact, are not. They’re still mistakes. You still need to own them. And you still should learn the lessons from them so that you’re smarter the next time and think before you speak or act.

It all comes down to deciding how you want to conduct your life. Do you want to enrich your experiences with honest, compassionate, generous human interaction or connive, cheat and lie your way to gain? Granted, mistakes can occur despite the best intentions, but they’re easier to own than those resulting from selfish motivation. Still, the power of forgiveness – especially self-forgiveness – when you own and learn from the most awful mistakes may bring about an extraordinary change: a better you.

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Daily Thoughts


November 24, 2016

Be Grateful Today
Photo by Marc Andre/Picography

Photo by Marc Andre/Picography

“Acknowledging the good that you already have in your life is the foundation for all abundance.” – Eckhart Tolle

 

As we sit around the Thanksgiving table today, surrounded by loved ones and family members, or eat alone in a diner amid other solitary travelers, for this one time, give thanks for everything good that we already have.

While there is much still to do, many things to change and goals to pursue, today is a time for reflection and gratitude. It’s the opportunity to hit the pause button, to slow the ever-forward momentum to take a deep breath and muse about the good in our lives.

There’s optimism for the year ahead, the economy shows signs of rebound, a message of healing is beginning to permeate and old rivals are coming together in a spirit of cooperation.

Reflecting on our personal gifts, of course, is what really matters at Thanksgiving. After all, it’s only our closest that we surround ourselves with on this special holiday, if we have the luxury of doing so and are not separated by time and geography or unreconciled rifts.

In this spirit, I offer the following as my own heartfelt message of gratitude:

  • I’m thankful for my health and that of my loved ones and family members.

 

  • Thanks to the Lord for the gift of creativity and the boundless enthusiasm that motivates me to share what I can with others through my words so that they may be inspired, heal, feel peace and fulfillment.

 

  • Since I know I’ll be eating a delicious and much-too-fattening Thanksgiving meal, I’m not only grateful for this bounty but also reminded that my donation to help feed those in need will bring some joy to others as well.

 

  • The opportunity to listen to what others have to say, to engage in casual conversation, to call loved ones at far-flung parts of the country or opposite ends of the state, makes this day like no other. Just because it’s expected does nothing to lessen the significance and value of genuine communication.

 

  • This day also serves as a reminder that we’re all in this together. We are one world comprised of people with many different viewpoints, but we’re all part of humanity. We can and must set aside our pettiness and hostilities and begin to work together to ensure a deep and lasting peace. To the extent that this is an ongoing process, we must always seek to find the common ground, to bridge the divide and bring harmony to the world.

Happy Thanksgiving, everyone.

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Daily Thoughts


November 23, 2016

Safe Travels
Photo by Grant Porter/Unsplash

Photo by Grant Porter/Unsplash

“To my mind, the greatest reward and luxury of travel is to be able to experience everyday things as if for the first time, to be in a position in which almost nothing is so familiar it is taken for granted.” – Bill Bryson

 

Almost 49 million Americans are expected to travel at least 50 miles from home this Thanksgiving holiday, the highest number of travelers since 2007. No doubt there will be traffic and weather delays to contend with, along with road closures, rude and impatient drivers, intoxicated and/or drugged drivers, squabbling children and impromptu pit stops. Any one of these could be a prelude to tragedy, of lives permanently altered because of an accident.

Why do we put ourselves in potential harm’s way? Why travel at all if the risks are so great and everywhere?

We journey to experience life, to be with those we love and care about, to see something new, to share the joy of the holiday, to taste life while we can.

When we can see the new in the everyday and familiar, we are twice blessed.

So, when the hours lengthen and there’s still miles to go before arriving at the intended destination, keep in mind that getting there safe is the highest priority. Instead of cursing the traffic and speeding when there’s an opening, enjoy the company of your companions. Have a meaningful conversation without arguments. Talk about what the Thanksgiving holiday means apart from commercialism, Black Friday sales, sports and anything other than genuine human interaction.

If traveling alone, use the time for self-reflection, counting your blessings, being grateful for what you have. Look forward to sharing your love and good wishes with others upon your arrival.

Thanksgiving comes but once a year, and it is a wonderful opportunity to put aside differences and join in joy and peace and love.

Safe travels, everyone, wherever you’re bound and however you plan to get there.

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Daily Thoughts


November 22, 2016

Dear Old Friends
Photo by Phil Coffman/Unsplash

Photo by Phil Coffman/Unsplash

“Remember that the most valuable antiques are dear old friends.” – H. Jackson Brown, Jr.

 

This is both a salutation and a description of something incredibly valuable: old friends. The longer a friendship lasts, the more value it accrues. Friendships must never be taken lightly. They are to be cherished and protected, nurtured and sustained. When there’s a rift, as there sometimes is, it must be mended so as not to damage the bond.

It’s hard to think of people as antiques, though. But this is not demeaning or pejorative. Antiques gain in value over time. To be an authentic antique, an item must be at least 100 years old, says Merriam-Webster. Preserving culture from an earlier period is considered extremely valuable, as reflected in the prices people will pay for such rare and collectible items.

Why not apply the same principle to friends and friendships?

Not that it’s necessary to have centenarians as friends, although that would be wonderful. I have a stepfather I consider a dear old friend and he’s 99 years old, so he nearly qualifies as an antique in that sense. He likes to joke that he still has all his marbles. He also has a delightful sense of humor, despite finding it more difficult to get around these days.

Thinking back on dear old friends who’ve remained close over the years, it’s a little disconcerting to realize how quickly time passes. It seems like yesterday when we spent time studying, going to outdoor concerts, sledding in the park, making holiday cookies and shopping. What a great reminder to reach out with a quick phone call or handwritten note just to say hello.

True friends don’t require material gifts. It’s enough to stay in touch, wish glad tidings and good health and hope for the coming year. In this spirit, let’s all appreciate the value of dear old friends and make it a point to communicate our best wishes this holiday season.

 

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Daily Thoughts


November 21, 2016

How to Effect Change
Photo by Olia Gozha/Unsplash

Photo by Olia Gozha/Unsplash

“If you change the way you look at things, the things you look at change.” – Wayne Dyer

 

When something’s not right and you want it to change, there are several ways to go about it. Taking the initiative and acting may be the best and most efficient approach, but you might not have all the facts or what you do know may be distorted by perception or long-held belief. It’s quite possible that your viewpoint is skewed, thus leading to erroneous conclusions and poor judgment.

Considering that there are always going to be situations and instances where change is desirable, as well as times when only you can do something about what needs changing, perhaps changing the way you look at things is a good idea.

Granted, this isn’t easy to do, especially if you grew up in an atmosphere of rigid compliance, no testing authority, constrained to certain boundaries. Questioning the status quo may feel like anathema, an impossible task. But you can begin to assert your independence by thinking outside the box you were put in when growing up.

Suppose you were always called stupid and told you’d never amount to anything. That kind of cruelty on the part of parents, siblings or others is enough to stunt anyone’s growth. Finding your own path was likely difficult because you believed the criticism was right. Difficult, but not impossible.

Maybe you’ve attempted changing things and failed repeatedly. This also tends to put a damper on your motivation to seek further change. Again, difficult, but not impossible.

There is no directive of human behavior that requires you to steadfastly accept your circumstance. You have the power to effect change for yourself above all else. What is necessary, however, is the willingness to put aside old beliefs and negativity and look at the world around you with open eyes and an unbiased heart.

Is there a wrong you seek to right? Can you find the avenue to follow to achieve greater success? Is it possible to mend your ways, repair your reputation, begin to love again, heal damaged relationships, find a way to balance work and home, explore your true potential?

You bet there is.

If you are willing to cast aside the barriers and suspend judgment so that you can take in the reality that is now, you may be surprised that what you thought was so is false. What is available to you, what you can change, will not only astound but also invigorate you.

 

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Daily Thoughts


November 20, 2016

Be Understanding and Forgiving
Photo by Lukas Budimaier/Unsplash

Photo by Lukas Budimaier/Unsplash

“Any fool can criticize, condemn and complain, but it takes character and self-control to be understanding and forgiving.”— Dale Carnegie

 

This is the time of year when little things get to us. The traffic is intolerable, the kids’ mess grows higher with each passing day, the boss doesn’t appreciate our efforts, our co-workers are rude and skate their responsibilities, leaving us with more work, and on and on. We’d like nothing more than to yell our displeasure, utter some harsh words of criticism, say how unfair it all is.

Hold on. We’re made of stronger stuff than that. Most of the time, what irritates us isn’t that serious. Isn’t it true that there’s a tendency to magnify the importance, even blowing it out of proportion? Often, that’s because we don’t set boundaries for ourselves and take on more responsibility than we can reasonably handle. When we run into roadblocks, instead of blaming ourselves, we’d like to blame someone else. When we don’t, there’s a good reason for that.

We have character and self-control. This allows us to exercise understanding and to be able to forgive.

No one said it was easy, however. Understanding and forgiveness tends to take time to develop.

This is also called maturity.

Some people grow into it, while others never do.

They’re not all fools, of course, just incapable of striking that balance between willing to listen and understand all sides of issues and forgive what can be forgiven.

It also doesn’t make them bad people, just unenlightened, perhaps.

Still, during this holiday season, taking the time to hold that harsh comment, lay on the horn, issue stern warnings to recalcitrant children or some other unkind action in response to delays, disappointments, irritations and problems is likely a better way to spend the time.

So, when a holiday dinner guest is loud and self-centered, takes more helpings than considered polite, smile and say something nice to everyone present. This is, after all, a time to be grateful and loving, to share and rejoice in the opportunity to be with the ones we love and care about – even if they’re not on top of their game.

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November 19, 2016

Love Them Forever
Photo by Paul Itkin/Unsplash

Photo by Paul Itkin/Unsplash

“If the people we love are stolen from us, the way to have them live on is to never stop loving them.” – James O’Barr

 

With the holidays upon us, along with party planning, gift buying, meal preparation and such on top of regular responsibilities, there’s little time left for personal reflection. But when all the noise and activity cease, those quiet moments may prompt intense feelings of loss for those who are no longer with us. Indeed, the holidays are often a time of great sadness because we so miss our loved ones.

They will, however, always live on with one simple, yet extraordinarily powerful act on our part. If we continue to love them, to keep them in our daily thoughts and prayers, to mention their names, relate stories and recall the good times we had as well as the bad, they will live on.

This isn’t always easy to do. Sometimes the pain is so fresh that it hurts too much, or so we think. The bitter sting of loss, of profound grief, is at first a wave, then a rush, then gradually tapering to a dull ache that never seems to leave. Reflecting on the life of the loved one who’s gone will help ameliorate that sorrow, help heal the pain and keep the memory alive.

At the Thanksgiving table this coming week, why not join hands in prayer, solidarity or recognition of all the blessings we have. Include in our thoughts and words those who aren’t physically at the table but remain firmly in our hearts. Acknowledge them, thank them for what they’ve given us, and pledge to love them forever.

Keep in mind that love is never permanently extinguished. Unlike breath, or life itself, love endures across time and space. It may be bruised or buried, but it is always there.

If you believe in the hereafter, the love you hold in your heart for those who’ve gone before you will be reciprocated. Across time, beyond this dimension – nothing is impossible. Even if you think that life on earth is all there is, holding love for your deceased loved ones and friends will fill you with solace and peace. There is no downside when you love them forever.

So, love them forever. Especially now.

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Daily Thoughts


November 18, 2016

Don't Miss Your Opportunities
Photo by Chris Becker/Unsplash

Photo by Chris Becker/Unsplash

“The way in which people miss their opportunities is melancholy.” – Elizabeth von Arnim

 

It’s a sad and terrible thing to be engulfed in melancholy. Fortunately, for most of us, such a devastating emotional state is rare and temporary. Anyone who remains lost in sadness for an extended period should seek professional help. Everyone else must find effective ways to overcome melancholy and get on with their lives. This is most important for any number of reasons, not the least of which is that when you’re mired in melancholy, you’ll miss opportunities.

Don’t miss your opportunities because you’ve given in and allowed melancholy to rule you. That’s not only a mistake, but it’s a recipe for continuing emotional pain and a loss of your life’s potential.

I’ve endured some stretches of melancholy and I can say with certainty that it’s no picnic. Finding a reason to go on was never to the point of hopelessness, but I did take advantage of counseling in my early adult years to learn better coping skills. All these years later, they still help me get over the rough patches when everything seems to go wrong and goals remain elusively far away.

Here are a few tips on banishing melancholy that may prove effective:

  • Have a goal for the day. If the hours seem to stretch out endlessly, it helps to have a goal to tend to. Call it forced diligence or busywork or whatever else, but when you know you need to do something – and there are consequences for not doing it – this zeroes in your concentration on getting it done. There’s less time to dwell on sad thoughts.

 

  • Acknowledge you feel sad. There’s no point denying your emotions. Put a name to it so you can move on. This self-acknowledgement of melancholy robs it of its power over you and provides a pathway forward.

 

  • Just keep going. You’re bound to hit a wall and want to quit. Sometimes that feels like crawling under the covers and blanking out the world. Now is when you must call on your strength and determination. Keep doing what you have on your agenda, giving it your best effort. This will pay off in a sense of accomplishment, always a good thing when you’re working to leave melancholy behind and get on with your life.

 

  • Keep your eyes and mind open. Opportunities require that you recognize them when they appear and believe yourself capable of taking advantage of them. If you have a closed mind, you’ll never see them. Don’t miss your opportunities because you’re blinded to them. Look, see and envision what you can do. Then, go from there.

 

  • Ask for help if you need it. There’s never any harm to asking for help when things become overwhelming. It may not be that you need professional counseling, however. You might just need a friendly interaction or talking with a trusted friend. Be with others when you’re working on overcoming sadness.

 

  • Recognize that this feeling isn’t forever. Sadness will dissipate over time. And you must be patient. By recognizing that this feeling won’t persist indefinitely, you’ll be more motivated to press forward.

* * *

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Daily Thoughts


November 17, 2016

What Is Normal?
Photo by Ishan @seefromthesky/Unsplash

Photo by Ishan @seefromthesky/Unsplash

“The possibility of stepping into a higher plane is quite real for everyone. It requires no force or effort or sacrifice. It involves little more than changing our ideas about what is normal.” – Deepak Chopra

 

What we think of as normal is a construct of ideas. Normal one day may seem abnormal another time. What seems impossible can be viewed at possible. What never occurred to us may suddenly appear in our thoughts, tantalizingly accessible and real.

Most equate normal with being average, a statistical calculation. In a higher plane, however, there is no need for measurement. Indeed, nothing is average. In addition, there are no limits or boundaries to what is possible in a higher plane of consciousness.

No training is required. No physically or mentally grueling tests or regimens need be followed. It doesn’t demand a mentor or participation in a group. There is no cost or penalty to pay. No mind-altering drugs or any other substance must be taken to get there.

The beauty of being able to step into a higher plane is in its simplicity and its accessibility. Anyone and everyone can do this.

The best way to start is to let go of preconceptions of what is normal. Instead of ascribing metrics and characteristics and boundaries and limitations to what is possible and what is real – and therefore normal – expand thought to the point that normal is not constrained. Normal evolves, as it should.

By way of illustration, think of the world before the advent of the Internet. Knowledge came from studying books, physical documents, going to lectures and absorbing facts and theory and then applying the principles in exercises so that the lessons stuck. Once the Internet was born, all that changed. It took some time to become widespread, but today there is no place in the world where access to information cannot be achieved with a proper Internet connection.

In fact, millions of students use computers and the Internet in schools. Some schools rely on the Internet exclusively, having done away with books.

What was once normal, using books, going to the library, etc., is now not the norm. The expansiveness and inclusivity of the Internet is now considered normal.

It works the same way with ideas, determining what is possible and what may one day become real. Begin by changing ideas of what is normal. That’s all it takes to step into a higher plane.

* * *

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Daily Thoughts


November 16, 2016

Nobody's Perfect
Photo by Jason Long/Unsplash

Photo by Jason Long/Unsplash

“Imperfection is not our personal problem – it is a natural part of existing.” -- Tara Brach

 

Why is it that we feel we must be perfect to be happy and live a fulfilling and productive life? The fact is that nobody’s perfect. We are full of imperfections. That’s what makes us human. Since we have the power of intelligence, we’re able to think and reason and choose. We learn from our mistakes. That’s not instinct, it’s part of our makeup.

Imperfection, however, persists as something that must be eradicated. It’s not acceptable to have a nose that’s just too long or wide or some other facial or bodily feature that isn’t deemed ideal by society. Society is composed of people just like us, none of whom are perfect. Not even the so-called models of perfection possess perfection.

Given that nobody’s perfect, how can we embrace the fact that our imperfections make us who we are? Consider them a gift, perhaps?

That may be a stretch for the person who’s so tall that they can’t fit through a doorway without stooping nearly in half, or someone with different colored eyes or some other physical feature they don’t like about themselves. Imperfections aren’t just physical, however, but also emotional. We make bad choices because we haven’t thought things through, are in a hurry, find ourselves distracted or allow our emotions to get the better of us.

What is it about imperfection that we can point to as positive?

  • Imperfection makes us unique. No two people are alike.
  • Imperfection gives us opportunity to make changes.
  • Imperfection allows us to forgive our mistakes and learn from the experiences.
  • Imperfection proves that we are human.
  • Imperfection is universal.
  • Imperfection is not a personal problem we must solve. It’s part of who we are.

The next time that someone points out one of our imperfections, smile and rejoice that we have them. If not, and we could all somehow be perfect, life would be boring, indeed.

Similarly, when we notice imperfection in others, instead of being quick to criticize and make negative comments, reflect on the fact that such diversity adds to human existence. After all, we’re all in this together, imperfections and all.

* * *

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Daily Thoughts


November 15, 2016

Get Free of Resentment
Photo by Ryan McGuire/Gratisography

Photo by Ryan McGuire/Gratisography

“When you hold resentment toward another, you are bound to that person or condition by an emotional link that is stronger than steel. Forgiveness is the only way to dissolve that link and get free.” – Catherine Ponder

 

How many of us hold a grudge, refusing to let go of the resentment we feel toward another for some real or perceived slight or wrong? When we cannot let such negative emotional weight go, it continues to drag us down, sapping our energy, depleting our enthusiasm and putting a damper on our happiness and well-being.

It doesn’t have to be so.

We can get free of resentment with the simple, yet extraordinarily powerful act of forgiveness.

Maybe we believe that some things are unforgiveable. If so, we risk remaining stuck in a box of resentment and anger that will only do us more harm. The longer we’re mired in such hatred and negativity, the more negative we’ll become. There is no good end to clutching fast to resentment.

So, why not try something new and decide to forgive?

What can it hurt? After all, resenting another hasn’t done much for us so far, right?

Perhaps a more pressing question is how to go about forgiving. How do we overcome our rigid stance against such a concept? For one thing, it must be heartfelt. We must want to forgive, even if it comes hard and we’re not altogether sure it’s genuine.

To forgive, start by telling yourself that you intend to forgive another, to let bygones be bygones, to proceed from here with a positive outlook and harboring no resentment. This self-telling mantra serves to reinforce your intention.

Forgiving another doesn’t mean you’re now going to be best friends. It means you’re now able to let go of the baggage of resentment that’s plagued you for so long. You’re also not condoning acts of dishonesty, physical or emotional harm that another has done to you – or that you yourself have done to others. What you are doing is exercising the power of forgiveness.

And that forgiveness will dissolve the link that’s bound you to that person in resentment, allowing you to finally get free.

This also works in forgiving yourself. The only way forward is with open eyes and open heart, and that means self-forgiveness for all your self-resentment as well.

* * *

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Daily Thoughts


November 14, 2016

Every Goal Needs a Plan
Photo by Kalen Emsley/Unsplash

Photo by Kalen Emsley/Unsplash

“Plan your work for today and every day, then work your plan.” – Margaret Thatcher

 

The age-old rule for success is to have a goal and a plan and work the plan. While some might dismiss the concept as outdated, the basic tenets still hold true. If you want to succeed, you need to not only know what you’re working for, you also need to have a firm idea how to approach it, and then be willing to work the plan.

Let’s be clear: Every goal needs a plan.

No winging it, hoping for a good outcome. Without a plan, there’s too much opportunity for distraction, going off-course and winding up with a much less satisfactory result.

Plans, of course, come in all sorts of variations. There are tiered plans, those with stages of completion that must be met before proceeding, some that are research-oriented and preliminary outlines, emotionally-driven plans and adaptations of other approaches. In fact, there are probably as many kinds of plans as goals. The fact that it’s your goal makes the plan you decide upon unique.

Adopting the mindset that a plan helps increase the likelihood of success may make the idea more palatable, especially to those who summarily reject structure as alien to creativity. It’s anything but. When there’s a plan in place, that frees up creativity because there’s no need to concentrate on trying to determine what comes next. It’s all there in the plan.

Just as plans are necessary for every goal, flexibility in carrying out the plan is also mandatory. Suppose a great suggestion someone makes could improve the chances of success. Would you automatically dismiss the idea because it doesn’t quite fit the plan that’s already in place?

To see how ridiculous this might be, think of a man driving to a destination using a route he’d planned to take. The road abruptly ends due to a road closure. He cannot continue along this road and must be flexible enough to adjust his planned route to take into consideration the unexpected obstacle. If he drives around the road barriers, he risks putting himself and possibly others in danger. With an alternate route in mind, however, he can still arrive at his destination, albeit a little later, but much safer.

Many goals don’t carry life-and-death risks, but they do inherently have risks. The plan could fail, someone could stop it at any time, circumstances could change to make the plan unworkable, unacceptable, undesirable. That’s why it’s always smart to have options, approaches to take if the original plan runs into issues.

No matter what, a plan – any plan – demands action. You must be willing to put in the work required to succeed. Create the goal, then the plan, then work the plan.

 

* * *

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Daily Thoughts


November 13, 2016

Get Past Frustration
Photo by Elle Zhu/Unsplash

Photo by Elle Zhu/Unsplash

"To conquer frustration, one must remain intensely focused on the outcome, not the obstacles.” – T. F. Hodge

 

After dealing with an unresponsive computer, an inexplicable series of errors, a customer service agent who, while trying to be helpful, was nonetheless unable to help, I’ve just experienced a cascade of frustration. It’s left me, well, frustrated.

The situation still isn’t resolved, although I have my end goal clearly in sight. I know what I need to do next. All through the 2+hours I spent trying to make a simple online purchase and redeem some rewards, I kept telling myself I would navigate my way through the labyrinth.

In other words, even though I felt like I was getting nowhere, I kept my calm and my resolve, and found a pathway to the outcome I both expect and deserve.

It hasn’t been easy.

Nor, I suspect, are the many frustrating situations many of us face today. This got me thinking of tips to help get past frustration. Here they are, in no order:

  • Don’t take it personally. What frustrates us is usually the result of some glitch, error, misunderstanding, or something that’s missing. It isn’t directed at us personally. So, don’t take it as a personal attack.

 

  • Take notes. You might need them later. Also, gather all necessary paperwork, order numbers, confirmation emails and offers (especially if they have an offer number).

 

  • Be thorough, but don’t spend too much time on it. If you waste an entire day trying to resolve something that requires a supervisor who won’t be in until tomorrow, you’ll just add to your frustration. Better to put your notes in order and tackle the issue tomorrow.

 

  • Stick to your principles. Whether the frustration is because of a transaction or order, a disagreement or argument with your spouse, co-worker, kids, friends or someone else, if it involves interaction with another human being, you must stand up for what you believe. This doesn’t mean escalation into shouting or name calling or threats, just that you hold fast to your principles, beliefs and values.

 

  • Be willing to compromise. Sometimes, there isn’t a clear resolution. You might need to consider a compromise. Ask what the other party (the department store, the utility or credit card company, the online vendor, for example) is willing to do. Keep in mind that something is better than nothing.

 

  • When you’ve done everything, let it go. Instead of revisiting the frustrating situation over and over in your head, once you’ve done everything you can now to resolve it, let it go. You’ll need a clear head to take it up again another time – or let it go completely, if that’s what you need to get past it.

* * *

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Daily Thoughts


November 12, 2016

Make the Connection
Photo by Redd Angelo/Unsplash

Photo by Redd Angelo/Unsplash

 

“Meditate. Breathe consciously. Listen. Pay attention. Treasure every moment. Make the connection.” – Oprah Winfrey

 

How many connections do you have? Not contacts, connections. There is a profound difference, although it’s one that many today don’t recognize.

Connection requires conscious effort. It is intention followed by action. To connect with another means extending yourself, seeking to bridge a divide or forge a relationship with some meaning, and making yourself vulnerable.

It is, however, also tough to put yourself out there like this. After all, your face-to-face interaction could be broadly rejected. No one likes rejection. It always stings.

Still, there can be no meaningful connection without some risk. If risk is acceptable in pursuing a tangible goal, such as landing a promotion, competing for top salesman of the month, negotiating a lucrative contract or renegotiating terms of a deal, it should be acceptable in the all-important arena of lasting relationships.

Why make the effort if you’re only going to be involved with someone intermittently or a single time? Think about what impression you make whenever you first meet someone. You never know the length and depth of the relationship you make have. The man or woman you court today to gain favor or make your point may become your boss or neighbor or your child’s teacher. Besides, if you want to instill the behavior of genuinely seeking to make the connection, you need to practice.

There’s no better practice than in casual interaction. Some might say that this is the heart of human kindness, to be open and genuine when nothing hangs in the balance.

Reformatting how you approach another demands a plan. You need to think about what you’re going to say before you say it. Take a breath and consider this carefully. Practice active listening, paying attention to what the other person says without queuing up your response or trying to get your points across.

Life is made up of small moments. Each one is memorable and will never come again. Treasure them. Make the connection.

* * *

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Daily Thoughts


November 11, 2016

Take Reasonable Chances to Grow
Photo by Mike Petrucci/Unsplash

Photo by Mike Petrucci/Unsplash

“Take chances. Make mistakes. That’s how you grow. Pain nourishes your courage. You have to fail in order to practice being brave.” – Mary Tyler Moore

 

On Veteran’s Day, along with honoring our country’s veterans, it’s only appropriate that we pause to reflect on the value of taking chances. While soldiers don’t have the luxury of being able to take reasonable chances, we do. Still, taking a chance holds an element of risk and sometimes that risk is more than we think we can handle.

Failure could be an outcome. But that’s not why we take chances. We take them to find the best part of ourselves. We accept the risks and marshal our strengths and abilities to find our way to the other side. Success may be our result, or pain, mistakes and failure. But we always can learn from what went wrong, to determine steps we could have taken but didn’t, and to gain knowledge that will prove invaluable the next time.

No, it doesn’t feel or look pretty to fail. Bravery often comes with pain. So does success. It’s what we’re willing to extract from our inner core that matters. We do possess strength that we’re unaware of, talents we’ve yet to utilize, and an immense capacity to learn and grow.

Don’t expect growth to be automatic. It must be earned through hard work, grit and determination, a willingness to persevere despite setbacks and opposition.

If soldiers in battle can endure hardship, skirt the steps of despair and still march forward, isn’t it within probability that we can afford to take chances, make mistakes, gain strength from our pain, find our own source of bravery and grow?

This is what makes America great. The people, their courage and willingness to march forward, to learn and prosper and grow.

Thanks, again, to all veterans out there today. We live in peace today because of you. God bless.

 

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Daily Thoughts


November 10, 2016

The Power of a Wish
Photo by Thomas Shellberg/Unsplash

Photo by Thomas Shellberg/Unsplash

“The wish within a human being is the most powerful energy that exists.” – Swami Rudrananda

 

Are wants and wishes the same thing? How do you know when a wish signals something more, a goal that’s worth pursuing? Intriguing questions, right? After all, who doesn’t have a basketful of wishes? Maybe it’s time to figure out what drives wishes and how much power they have.

For myself, I may wish to write something meaningful each day. This summons creativity, engages me in the moment, spurs productivity and encourages persistence. Writing well demands diligence in addition to creativity. It necessitates practice, revision and polishing to shine.

The reason I mention writing is that this is what I do every day. It would be too easy to become complacent, to fall into a routine that results in mediocre output. But I awake each day with an inspiration, a thought I want to express that may provide a window to the reader, provoke a feeling, motivate action, generate communication. I didn’t get into this line of work to be silent, to keep my thoughts to myself. If nothing else, I want at least to share them with others who’ve expressed interest in what I say.

I’m only mirroring the goodness, wisdom and hope that already exists in the world. And there is much of this, despite calamities, fluctuations in the stock market, whatever happens at work, problems at home, traffic logjams and more.

As for whether writing – or whatever my heartfelt wish is – is different from a want, that’s easy. I want a latte. That’s not a wish. It’s quickly resolved by making one or going to my favorite coffee shop. I want to be warm, so I put on a sweater or turn up the heat. On the other hand, I may want world peace, but if it’s not also a wish that I’m willing to do something about, it remains a want.

A want requires little imagination or planning, but a wish demands both.

Others may quibble with my distinction between a want and a wish, but at the core what matters is the power of a wish.

If you feel something powerfully enough and are willing to act to bring it to fruition, that stimulates energy that’s unparalleled and unbounded. Wishes, to me, are like the bright energy of a star, always beckoning, mysterious and indelible. Unlike a star, however, wishes are attainable. They just require action.

* * *

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Daily Thoughts


November 9, 2016

Opportunity Awaits
Photo by Tyssul Patel/Unsplash

Photo by Tyssul Patel/Unsplash

“Every single American will have the opportunity to realize his or her fullest potential. The forgotten men and women of our country will be forgotten no longer.” – Donald J. Trump

 

It’s about time this country gets up and starts moving forward. Each of us, whatever our political beliefs, wants and deserves something better for ourselves, our families, our neighborhoods and our country. We want our voices heard and our actions to matter. We want to make a difference. We want to pursue opportunities, work hard and reap the rewards of our success.

Opportunity is here. It comes in the form of hope and a belief that we can do, not that we’re unable to do. Where there is a challenge, we will rise to meet it. Where there is doubt, we’ll search for answers and solutions, working together to overcome our differences and achieve great things.

From small families to large, discussions about where we’re headed in this country have energized, motivated and inspired us to the point where we’re not only ready, we’re eager to embrace the opportunity that awaits us.

This isn’t about the past. It’s all about right now and what we can do, individually and together, to realize our full potential. Dreams once dashed can be rekindled. The impossible can be reimagined to become possible.

Getting started is easy.

  • Make a list of goals, then put together plans.
  • Enlist support from loved ones and family members.
  • Include others who may be key to the success of the goal.
  • Line up resources.
  • Do your research.
  • Then, get to work.

The only way to achieve what you want is to put forth the effort and time required. There aren’t any shortcuts, even when opportunity awaits.

 

* * *

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Daily Thoughts


November 8, 2016

Become More, Give Back

Photo by Emanuel Maceda/Unsplash

Photo by Emanuel Maceda/Unsplash

 

“Life is a gift, and it offers us the privilege, opportunity and responsibility to give something back by becoming more.” – Tony Robbins

 

Today is Election Day, a perfect time to reflect on what we have as well as what we have to offer. No matter who wins the presidential office, we all have a responsibility to use our talents and strengths to become the best we can be. In so doing, we also have the opportunity and, indeed, the privilege, to give back.

This doesn’t necessarily mean money. Anyone can toss out a few dollars and make themselves feel better. Merely giving money may soothe a troubled conscience and it is a good step, a laudable effort. Just not enough. Unless – and this is important – it’s genuinely meant to give back and help another.

There are countless ways to give back. But they’re all rooted in the concept of becoming more.

Like a water glass that fills to overflowing, when you become more, you exceed known boundaries and limitations. In fact, those all but disappear. You have more than you need to sustain yourself, even to live comfortably. So, giving back will never hurt you, only enrich your sense of humanity, self-esteem and fulfillment.

After all, there was a time when you needed someone else’s encouragement, support and guidance, right? Given freely and without expectation or demand for reciprocity, such a gift made a great deal of difference in your life. While it may not have solved all your troubles and problems, it did illuminate a path, shine light on the darkness and give you hope.

Perhaps the giving back by becoming more has its greatest effect when hope is the constant. Whatever you can do to expand in this area will pay dividends beyond belief. It’s not just for others and it’s not just for you. Everyone benefits.

* * *

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Daily Thoughts


November 7, 2016

Dealing with Distraction?

Photo by Milada Vigerova/Unsplash

Photo by Milada Vigerova/Unsplash

 

“If you have a hundred thoughts, you will have a hundred helpers in your meditation.” -- Mingyur Rinpoche

 

It’s Monday (or any day) and you’re hit with seemingly endless distractions. You no sooner start one task than you’re interrupted and have to jump into something else. Before long, this nonstop pattern of incompletion starts to weigh on you. All the while, however, your mind is racing with a hundred thoughts.

No wonder you feel like you’re sliding down a slippery hill.

Here’s a slightly different way to regard those hundred thoughts. Think of them as helpers in your quest to achieve balance and serenity in your life.

How can it be, you ask, and rightfully so? It takes a little imagination to view distracting thoughts as anything but, well, distractions. Since they’re going to come regardless how you paint them, why not take a leap and cast them in the form of helpers?

Let’s see how this might work with one scenario (although you can probably think of many without breaking a sweat).

You head into work on Monday morning knowing that there’s a top-priority project you must dive into as soon as you reach your desk. You’ve been thinking about it all the way into the office and likely most of the weekend as well. You tossed around a million different ways to either get out of the task or get it over with as soon as possible, then felt guilty or ashamed or beat yourself up for being a skater, irresponsible, or worse. This is the set-up you have to deal with. Your mind is already whirling with distraction, with a hundred thoughts.

While you might believe that all those thoughts were a waste of time, they served a useful purpose. Your mind was laying out multiple layers of emotional responses to a pressing issue that weighed on you. You needed to process each of these, even if you didn’t want to. As such, they helped you get where you are right now, having to deal with what’s most important.

You arrive at your desk and go through your morning ritual – even more important on Mondays – and you haven’t even gotten your computer booted up when another hot project lands on your desk. Which one will take priority? You have a quick decision to make, people to alert, resources to tap, assignments to prioritize or delegate, and no time to waste. Yet another hundred thoughts assail you. Your stomach roils, your blood pressure increases and you feel a sinking sense of failure. These multiple thoughts are priming you to act, even though you may not recognize them that way.

Instead of fighting the hundred thoughts, take a few moments to embrace them, for they are here to help you. Acknowledge their presence and give them permission to leave. This opens space for you to focus on the task at hand and gives you the ability to deal with all the other distractions that will head your way today.

* * *

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Daily Thoughts


November 6, 2016

Wise Men and Fools

Photo by Aaron Burden/Unsplash

Photo by Aaron Burden/Unsplash

 

“A fool sees not the same tree that a wise man sees.” – William Blake

 

This isn’t a trick question. When you look at the tree pictured here, what you see depends on whether you’re rooted in the present or off somewhere else. While a wise man can be introspective, thinking about solving problems or ruminating on some pressing issue, when he looks at the tree, he sees more than just the tree.

A fool, on the other hand, may casually glance at the tree and pay it no mind. It has no meaning for him (or her) beyond the fact that it’s there.

But the tree is a metaphor for life. This isn’t about the tree at all.

Can a fool become a wise man? This might be like the camel trying to thread the needle, but anything is possible. More to the point is the fact that everyone thinks and acts foolishly now and then. It doesn’t make us fools, but it does show a lack of judgement and inability to wisely choose.

Wisdom is cumulative. It also takes time to acquire. Hard work is involved, for wisdom doesn’t come easily. Foolishness, however, is quick. That blurted out comment, the hasty memo, a flaming text – those are the signs of impetuousness, ill temper, and, yes, a fool. A wise man would see the peril in such actions, see beyond the temporary situation to calculate the consequences for rash behavior.

A fool cares not what happens, merely acts in accordance with emotion, immediate self-gratification or complete ignorance.

There seem to be many fools in the world today, as evidenced by not-very-well-though-out words and actions.

We could all take a lesson from the wise man. Look and see what’s before you, but also think beyond to gauge how your actions may positively or negatively affect others, your workplace, home environment, neighbors, friends and society.

With all the problems the world faces today, we need more wise men and women working to help overcome them. We don’t need fools at all costs.

 

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Daily Thoughts


November 5, 2016

You Can Afford to Be Kind

Photo by Ian Schneider/Unsplash

Photo by Ian Schneider/Unsplash

 

“Kindness is within our power, even when fondness is not.” – Samuel Johnson

 

With all the nastiness and name calling going on these days leading up to the Presidential election, it might be wise to remember our manners. Choosing words carefully is always a good strategy. It’s possible to make a point without being unkind.

And it’s not necessary to like the person to be kind – in word and in deed.

Sometimes we forget this.

Listening to and reading all the uncharitable things in the news lately makes it seem like we often forget this.

Public discourse used to be civilized, kind, in other words. Granted, there were the outliers, those who deliberately sought to stir up emotions with visceral statements. But the majority behaved politely, civilly and with kindness.

That didn’t mean they were friends with their opponents or with people who shared different values. Just that they comported themselves with mutual respect and dignity. Let’s call that being kind.

It doesn’t matter if the situation where discussion occurs and there are differences in point of view is at work, school, in the supermarket, at home, over the back fence with the neighbor, or on the phone, social media, blogs and other forums on the Internet. You can afford to be kind. In fact, you owe it to yourself as a decent human being to do so. It doesn’t cost you a cent.

You don’t have to like another person to be kind.

Remember that and maybe act accordingly.

Such behavior might just inspire the recipient to do likewise.

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November 4, 2016

Be Your Better Self

Photo by David Marcu/Unsplash

Photo by David Marcu/Unsplash

 

“Be yourself, but always your better self.” – Karl G. Maeser

 

Striving to be better, to achieve more, feel a sense of accomplishment and purpose often seem to be equated with the future. We want a better job, to make more money, to have more friends, to live in a nicer house, to drive a fancy car, wear expensive clothes, have lots of things of value. But things don’t make you happy. In the constant pursuit of something better, maybe the focus is wrong. Maybe the real secret to having contentment and fulfillment is to be your better self.

It’s also true that we, as a society and as individuals, paint ourselves with a different brush when we want to get something from someone else. Whether that’s a person, a company, institution or other entity, it’s not who we are. Rather, it’s not who we should want to be.

While we may be presenting ourselves in a better light, it’s not us being ourselves. Not being our better selves, to be more specific.

What if you don’t like who you think you are? How can you change that to be your better self? Does it take a long time? Do you have to get a new set of friends, distance yourself from everyone who knew the cranky, work-obsessed, selfish person you’ve been for so long?

The answer may surprise you.

It isn’t necessary to divorce yourself from everything and everyone you know. The change you seek begins within. Others will eventually notice, some with surprise and delight, a few perhaps with envy, incredulity, even disappointment. After all, birds of a feather flock together. If your friends, co-workers, family, neighbors and others were all just as self-centered as you, or had other negative behavior traits not indicative of their better selves, they might resent that you’ve changed.

You can’t get a different family, but you can make some new friends. Just as a recovering alcoholic must make some profound changes in who he or she hangs around with to ensure a likelihood of continued sobriety, when you are working on such enormous changes, you may need to consider the influence of those around you.

On the other hand, the changes they see in you after you’ve begun to not only be yourself, but be comfortable being your better self, they might follow suit. Positivity does tend to be contagious.

 

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Daily Thoughts


November 3, 2016

Move the World Forward

Photo by Jérémie Crémer/Unsplash

Photo by Jérémie Crémer/Unsplash

 

“The important work of moving the world forward does not wait to be done by perfect men.” – Mary Ann Evans

 

If you want to make a difference in the world, act. If you wait until you think you’ve got everything perfectly arranged or think that you’ll someday find the perfect time, the world will pass you by. And you will not have made a dent.

The fact is that no one is perfect. No matter how hard they try to insist on perfectionism, such a state will always elude them.

But you don’t need to be perfect to move the world forward. You do, however, need to act.

While you’ll undoubtedly make some mistakes, if your intentions are good and you learn from what doesn’t work, you’ll have made progress. If you enlist allies and help others pursue their goals at the same time as you work on your own, together you’ll help make the world a better place.

Righting wrongs, taking a long shot to try something new, being persistent and dogged in your search for a solution to an important issue or problem, creating a product or service that benefits society – these are all areas you can enter without the need to be perfect.

Again, you’re not perfect. Neither am I. Neither has any person who ever lived, apart from Jesus Christ. And even He admitted to being a man, subject to emotion and the imperfections of humanity.

That we are imperfect makes us even more determined to do something of value and meaning in this world. While we can strive and search and wonder, the most valuable thing we can do is the very best we can at whatever we attempt.

Moving the world forward begins with a simple and single act. Taken together, these acts by individuals can make a profound difference. Positivity, hope, good intentions and actions trounce negativity, despair, bad intentions and inaction every time.

Don’t wait to be perfect. Act today and do your part to move the world forward.

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November 2, 2016

Fall Now, Recommit

Photo by Todd Quackenbush/Unsplash

Photo by Todd Quackenbush/Unsplash

 

“If we fall, we don’t need self-recrimination or blame or anger – we need a reawakening of our intention and a willingness to recommit, to be whole-hearted once again.” – Sharon Salzberg

 

Failure is a miserable experience, no doubt about it. But everyone fails now and then. It isn’t that you fail, but what you do afterwards that counts. You can fall and engage in endless beating yourself up over it, get angry, blame others or yourself, or you can get on with your life by reaffirming your beliefs, values and intention to continue. You do want to be joyous and fulfilled, right? If you fall now, you must recommit.

Maybe that’s easier said than done. Speaking for myself, I’ve found it difficult at times to generate the enthusiasm necessary to pick myself up after failure. And the setback didn’t always have to be something major for me to feel in a funk. Sometimes, just the accumulation of little mistakes was enough to precipitate a decidedly unpleasant period of indecision and stagnancy.

Fortunately, such a state didn’t last. Whether by good fortune, an innate sense of urgency, the encouragement of loved ones, family members, friends, co-workers and bosses, I could realize that action forward was more important to my well-being than sitting around stewing about what happened.

For one thing, I’ve always believed that you never get anywhere by doing nothing. No goal is ever achieved without effort, no prize obtained or successful completion of a tough project without overcoming obstacles and hurdles, successfully navigating distractions, pressure and conflicting agendas, even internal emotional turmoil.

So, you just failed. Now, what? Here, from my personal experience, are some tips that may help you get back on track:

  • Figure out what matters, then recommit to them.
  • List your priorities.
  • Construct action plans to achieve your goals.
  • Call on your strengths.
  • Remind yourself that you can do it.
  • Forgive yourself for whatever happened.
  • Enlist the support of others.
  • Find something joyful to do.
  • Take good self-care.
  • Rejoice in the little things.

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Daily Thoughts


November 1, 2016

Make the Most of What Comes

Photo by Ryan McGuire/Gratisography

Photo by Ryan McGuire/Gratisography

 

“Expect the best. Prepare for the worst. Capitalize on what comes.” – Zig Ziglar

 

While it’s true that you never know what the day will bring, or who you’ll meet and have an opportunity to interact with, that’s part of the beauty of life. It’s also true that you’ll encounter many upsets and disappointments throughout your life, along with instances of accomplishment, realization of dreams, happiness, love and joy. The best you can do is to make the most of what comes.

Consider adopting an outlook and attitude that expects the best. This is like reaching for the stars on the chance you might succeed. It isn’t completely unrealistic, but it does require a stretch. Even if you don’t succeed, you’ve got a destination in mind. And the journey is always worth it for the lessons you learn.

A positive attitude should be balanced with preparation for what could go wrong. There will always be things that don’t go as planned, situations that arise that confound and stymie, thwarting progress and putting a damper on enthusiasm. With careful preparation, you’re armed with alternatives, approaches you can take so you’re not left clueless.

It’s what comes along in the interim that offers the most intriguing possibilities. Amid seeming failure appears a glimpse of potential. After being awash in disappointment, a ray of hope beckons. Also, when you’re making good progress toward current goals, you may encounter someone or something that looks promising. The secret of fulfillment is knowing when and how to take advantage of what comes along, those opportunities that are fleeting and may never repeat themselves.

In other words, greet each day with hope and self-confidence, have a plan and alternatives just in case things do go awry, and keep your eyes open for what may be new and offers potential. Beyond just being able to recognize opportunity, be ready and willing to make the most of what comes your way.

 

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Daily Thoughts


October 31, 2016

Get Your Dark On - It's Halloween

Photo by Freestocks.org

Photo by Freestocks.org

 

“We see light, not dark. But it is in the dark that we feel goblins and ghosts.” – Rex Brandt

 

I don’t know about you, but I’ve always loved Halloween. Then, too, I’ve always loved horror movies, ghost stories, tales of witches and goblins. I’m a huge fan of The Walking Dead and Fear the Walking Dead, probably for the same reason. Halloween is the one day of the year, however, when it’s OK to get your dark on. When it’s Halloween, you can dress up in costume and make weird sounds like a ghoul or be a fairy princess, your choice.

Why does Halloween hold such attraction? Could it be we like to exaggerate fear, confront it head-on with a bold aggressiveness, to take charge of a powerful emotion that allows us some respite from the real-life problems we’re unable to deal with?

Maybe it’s just that Halloween is fun, an excuse to have a good time.

Halloween, for me, has always been about family. When I was a kid, my mother helped me figure out a costume (she always made mine, since money was tight) and my dad always walked with me trick-or-treating. They both got a kick out of seeing how excited I was in my makeup and costume.

After I had kids of my own, it was a similar experience, although I had to stay at home giving out candy while the kids went out with a trusted neighbor or older responsible kid to beg for candy (my kids, not the older kid).

Would it be a ghoul this year or a clown? Nope, they never wanted to be a clown. Sometimes my son wanted to dress up as a rock star, pirate, cowboy or Jason (from Halloween movie fame), or a vampire, werewolf, or mad scientist. My daughter, on the other hand, was into the frilly stuff, ballerina, princess, and the like. Such great fun.

Back then we didn’t worry about such scary things as razor blades in apples and tainted candy. That came years later and put a damper on the day. We did, however, worry that the kids would come home safely, not hit by a car as they traipsed through the dimly lit neighborhood streets in their costume garb.

So, on this one day, let’s forget about our troubles and be giddy about having a good time. Get your dark on – it’s Halloween.

 

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Daily Thoughts


October 30, 2016

Grow into Your Vocation

Photo by Hoach Le Dinh/Unsplash

Photo by Hoach Le Dinh/Unsplash

 

“A vocation isn’t something you find, it’s something you grow – and grow into.” – Roman Krznaric

 

When you were a kid, did you know what you wanted to be when you grew up? Parents ask their children this question all the time, as do well-meaning relatives and parents of the kids’ friends. But no child has a clue as to their life’s vocation at such a young age. They do, however, grow into it over time.

As do we all.

The fact is that you can search for a vocation and not find it, with the result that the experience of constant experimentation, weighing and balancing and never feeling satisfied with the choices you’ve made can make you disheartened and resigned.

On the other hand, when you live life to the fullest, being present in the moment, never taking anything for granted and filled with determination to do the best you can with your abilities, you will discover what sparks your interest, kindles excitement and motivates you to learn all you can.

Suppose, for example, you have a keen interest in figuring out what makes things tick. You may find that engineering is a field you’d do well in. You could also grow into being an inventor, like Thomas Edison or Steve Jobs. There are other possibilities, each making use of creativity, ingenuity, a relentless drive to learn and apply. This includes the vocations of physicists, research scientists, chemists, astronomists, business CEOs, mathematicians and more.

When you start out in a certain field, it may or may not become a vocation you will remain with. If it provides fulfillment and increases your self-esteem, it may be a vocation you can grow and grow into.

It may also lead to another vocation that’s more compelling.

How do you reconcile the fact that you don’t know what your vocation will be, yet eventually figure it out by growing and growing into it? Here are some quick tips:

  • Keep an open mind.
  • Be curious.
  • Encourage your creative side.
  • Learn from your mistakes.
  • Take the long view and see things in perspective.
  • Find the positive in everything, especially negative outcomes.
  • Never give up.
  • Network with those whom you admire, more so with people in vocations you find a good fit with your abilities and talents.
  • Make the most of your life, today and every day.

All these tips will help you grow your vocation and then grow into it.

 

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Daily Thoughts


October 29, 2016

Love Trumps Anger

Photo by Alberto Restifo/Unsplash

Photo by Alberto Restifo/Unsplash

 

“A moment of anger can destroy a lifetime of work, whereas a moment of love can break barriers that took a lifetime to build.” – Leon Brown

 

Trying to rein in your emotions when you’re upset is like trying to herd cats spilling out of a basket. You can go after one, yet lose another in the process. But when the emotion you’re dealing with is anger, it’s wise to take a step back and pause before acting on the powerful negative urge.

It doesn’t matter what the incident is that precipitates the anger. What does matter is what you do about the feeling. If you allow yourself to be swept up in angry emotion, your actions won’t be logical or likely effective in producing any meaningful good change. Just the opposite, in fact. You can undo all the good you’ve done, lose others’ trust and respect, and hate yourself for the results.

On the other hand, when you tap into that positive essence in your being that’s called love, you can help anger to diminish. Instead of seething, try the soothing balm of love. Note that this doesn’t mean putting yourself in harm’s way or being a punching bag for someone else’s aggressions, just that you recognize that everyone is human and makes mistakes. If you can give someone the benefit of the doubt before launching into an angry tirade or impulsive action, you’re not only the better person, you’re the better for it.

Another aspect where love trumps anger is breaking down barriers. Groups with opposing views, or individuals within such a group, may be more approachable with an act of kindness rather than provocation. With the latter, you’re inviting retaliation, which may be swift and lasting. With the former, you may cause others to reconsider their words and actions, perhaps creating a bridge upon which you can meet.

Mending longstanding rifts in families is similarly accomplished through love, not anger. Decades later, who even remembers the sparks that fanned the anger that destroyed family bonds? Why let what happened so long ago continue to eat away at you? Get up the courage to forgive all involved – yourself included – and begin the rebuilding process.

Love can not only help you find the way, it may be the only effective and lasting approach.

 

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October 28, 2016

Hustle to Succeed

Photo by Saksham Gangwar/Unsplash

Photo by Saksham Gangwar/Unsplash

 

“Things may come to those who wait, but only the things left by those who hustle.” – Abraham Lincoln

 

When the 16th President of the United States used the verb “hustle” to indicate industriousness, ambition and productivity, it was in fashion. Not so much today when the word has connotations of dishonesty, deception, conniving and manipulation. Yet, the underlying intent of Lincoln’s words ring as true today as then.

You must hustle to succeed.

No sitting back waiting for the next person to take up the slack and do your work. If you allow that to happen, either by laziness or deliberate intention, he or she will reap the rewards, not you.

There is no achievement without diligent effort, putting all your energy into pursuit of the goal.

While some individuals may profit from chance, the gains are not personally earned. They’re hollow, not indicative of merit, only luck.

And, as everyone knows, luck is fickle. As easily as it sometimes seems to arrive, it departs with haste.

In addition, if you wait for success to find you, you’ll be waiting a long time indeed. Will the boss recognize you and promote you for doing nothing on a major assignment? Will the person you most admire seek you out and applaud your non-efforts? Will you be pleased with your lack of accomplishments at the end of your life – or anytime?

In my view, a miserable way of living is to exist off the crumbs or leave-behinds of those who’ve been successful. A prime example of this is the trust-fund individual who coasts through life living off an inheritance. He or she did nothing to earn it. That doesn’t mean everyone who has a trust fund is incapable of industry, of doing good, of using the inheritance in pursuit of worthwhile goals. But it does seem curious that there are many individuals with inherited wealth that do nothing productive with their fortunes.

But for those of us who endeavor to get out there and do our very best, the realization of our dreams may very well be in sight.

You must hustle to succeed.  Just be sure your efforts – and your intentions – are honorable, respectful and generous.

There isn’t any better way to get ahead.

 

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October 27, 2016

Effort and Intent

Photo by Drew Hays/Unsplash

Photo by Drew Hays/Unsplash

 

“Outcome is not in your control. What’s in your control is your effort and your intentions.” – Amit Sood

 

What’s on your agenda today? Have you made a list, prioritized it, factored in which resources and how much time you need to get it done? Have you lined up help, cleared your schedule, minimized distractions and prepared yourself mentally to get to work? Are you determined to put in whatever effort is required to be successful in your endeavors? What are your overall intentions regarding your foremost priorities?

Maybe you don’t ask yourself these questions daily. Maybe you should. What happens in life may not always be in your control, but what you absolutely have control of is the amount of effort you exert and what you intend to do.

These are not the only ingredients of success, or of a successful outcome, and they don’t guarantee it, either. But you’ll never achieve anything you deem worthwhile without a sufficient measure of each.

So, while you may not be assured of receiving a bonus for your work, or win a contest based on skill or creativity, or find the love of your life and it’s reciprocated, or navigate a narrow opening during a rock climbing ascent in Utah, you can put forth passionate and diligent effort with the full intention of achieving your goal.

Granted, there are many distractions seeking to pull you away from your work at hand. Sometimes you need to take a break, just to maintain overall balance and perspective. That’s not wasted time, but a wise use of time. If you don’t dally and use the break as an excuse not to resume your work, you’ll be OK. Learning how to weave short breaks into a busy schedule is part of your overall effort and intent.

Perhaps you think you’ve already got this figured out. That’s terrific. Still, you can benefit from remembering that finding fulfillment is often more rewarding than other outward signs of success. You can be fully satisfied with however things turn out if you give it all your effort and intent.

 

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October 26, 2016

Laugh It Up

Photo by Priscilla Westra/Unsplash

Photo by Priscilla Westra/Unsplash

 

“A day without laughter is a day wasted.” – Charlie Chaplin

 

I want to laugh today. You should too. In fact, laughter is probably the quickest and easiest way to defeat stress and make you feel good at the same time.

It’s also free. Who can’t get behind that?

Don’t get me wrong. I don’t jump out of bed in the morning giggling. That would be funny, though, come to think of it. Not only that, but my better half might seriously wonder if I’m right in the head.

I do, however, find the humor in many things that happen throughout the day, from a one-liner I hear on TV or read while researching on the Internet, even a throwaway comment my spouse makes while we’re working on some project in the garden or while making a meal.

It helps to have an innate sense of humor. But it isn’t necessary to learn how to laugh.

I like comedies for this very reason. The humor is built-in and I don’t have to try too hard to get it. Sometimes I go for slapstick, like Charlie Chaplin films. Of course, those don’t show very often anymore, although you can find them on Netflix. Modern slapstick comedians include Jim Carrey, Bill Murray, Rodney Dangerfield, Steve Martin, Peter Sellers, Bernadette Peters and more.

There are also joke-of-the-day sites and newsletters you can sign up for on the Internet. Again, these are free. Some may not seem that funny, but if they make you smile and get outside your troubles for a minute, that’s a reasonable payout for minimal effort. Besides, it gets you in the habit of looking for a bit of humor daily. And that’s a good habit to cultivate.

When things are looking dark, when the day gets to be too much, when I’m looking for a way to blow off steam, nothing beats my ability to laugh it up. I don’t want to waste my day with negative thoughts or pushing a 12-ton boulder uphill on a slippery slope. I’d much rather find the lighter side of things and find reason to smile, if not laugh.

What are you waiting for? Today is a good day to get your laugh on. Go ahead. Give yourself permission to laugh it up. It feels good and it’s good for you.

Did I mention laughter is free?

 

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October 25, 2016

To Be Great, You Need Opposition

Grass Dance-Photo by Ryan McGuire/Gratisography

Grass Dance-Photo by Ryan McGuire/Gratisography

 

“Greatness is not measured by what a man or woman accomplishes, but by the opposition he or she has to overcome to reach his goals.” – Dorothy Height

 

Most people don’t like to think of obstacles as motivating factors to success. Yet, time after time we’ve seen that truly successful people (as opposed to those merely claiming success) often say that they’ve achieved their goals, in part, because of the opposition they had to overcome.

Quick translation: to be great, you need opposition.

Maybe this sounds too catchy to be true. Maybe you don’t like the idea of struggling to get past obstacles and hurdles. But how much do you want to achieve your goals, whatever they are? If you truly desire to be successful, you not only must overcome opposition to your efforts, but you should also welcome the opportunity to do so.

It’s not unusual to feel overwhelmed in the face of opposition, though. The fact that something feels and looks like it’s impossible is enough to cause anyone temporary doubt. Summon your courage, marshal your resources, draw upon your innate creativity and problem-solving ability and move forward with action.

Then, there’s also the concept of greatness, which most of us don’t apply to ourselves. For the purposes of discussion, substitute the word successful for greatness. Now it makes more sense. Now you can relate, right? Everyone wants to be successful at something in life.

Once you do achieve your goals, you can go back in your mind and replace successful with greatness and congratulate yourself on your efforts. You deserve the accolade.

Just don’t bask too long in the glow of accomplishment. There’s lots more work to be done and worthwhile goals that need your attention and action.

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October 24, 2016

Forgiveness Changes the Present

Photo by Kai Dorner/Unsplash

Photo by Kai Dorner/Unsplash

 

“Forgiveness is the experience of peacefulness in the present moment. Forgiveness does not change the past, but it changes the present.” – Frederic Luskin

 

If there’s a cloud in your day, maybe you’re holding onto resentment over some past deed or words that have hurt you. An accumulation of slights, perceived or real, along with the type of self-sabotage that often accompanies them can make you regard the day with cynicism, distrust and lack of enthusiasm. Forgiveness can change all that.

While it may seem incredibly difficult to entertain the concept of forgiveness, when you consider the benefits of forgiving yourself, it’s no contest. You could, of course, hold onto your resentment, maintaining a hard shell over your heart and locking yourself off from discovery, joy and purpose in life. But why on earth would you do such self-harm?

When you forgive, here’s what happens:

  • That load of resentment, angry thoughts, disappointment and self-hatred begins to lighten.

 

  • While the past cannot be changed, the present very much changes when you allow yourself to forgive.

 

  • No longer shouldering an overpowering load, you’re free to embrace the present moment, to pursue dreams, work on goals, and enjoy life.

 

  • Without the dark cloud hanging over you, possibilities and opportunities suddenly reveal themselves. Where before you were consumed with negative thoughts, you’re now able to recognize what’s real and possible.

 

  • Letting go of the past and allowing yourself to forgive opens you up to the realization that life can be whatever you choose. Considering this, you can choose happiness, peace and fulfillment. Forgiveness makes space for this.

Give Yourself the Power of Self-Forgiveness

Forgiveness starts with you forgiving yourself. Make it all-inclusive. Instead of picking and choosing what you’ll forgive yourself for, wipe all your past misdeeds, bad thoughts and words clean in one fell swoop. While this doesn’t absolve you from taking responsibility for them, it does remove the guilt and shame and negativity that’s kept you from living your best in the present.

Own your errors, but refuse to let them sully your opportunity now to make better choices.

You can resolve to do better, starting by letting go of the past and giving yourself the incredibly healing power of self-forgiveness.

 

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Daily Thoughts


October 23, 2016

When Struggle Is Good

iStock

iStock

 

“When everything seems to be going against you, remember that the airplane takes off against the wind, not with it.” – Henry Ford

 

Getting your hands dirty isn’t the only sign that you’re wrestling with something difficult or that you’re experiencing a struggle. This also happens when you’ve given what you think is all you’ve got and you still wind up less than successful. It’s at times like these when you’re tempted to give up. Don’t. That’s when you really find out when struggle is good.

Struggle helps define your character, shape your integrity, show your values.

Struggle even helps you find the best of yourself. That’s because when you’re at your lowest point, when you’re undergoing the worst of all possible scenarios, you find out what you’re made of. You discover your true self.

Without an obstacle, where would we find motivation?

If not for challenges, how could we convince ourselves to go beyond our limits and try something new?

If all of life was the same, wouldn’t it be boring?

This is not to imply that we should always want to struggle. Just that when struggle happens, it has implications of good. It’s what we do and how we regard the struggle that makes the difference.

After all, if you want to get off the ground, sometimes you have to go against your instinct and fly straight into the wind.

Another way you know when struggle is good is when you finally are successful. You can look back at your earnest efforts and realize that you did achieve your goal. Despite all the hurdles, no matter how long or difficult the task, you came out a winner.

A good struggle also serves as a reminder the next time you run into a roadblock, tough issue or impossible situation. You’ve been there before and learned the lessons from your experience.

 

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October 22, 2016

How Generous Are You?

Photo by Madi Robson/Unsplash

Photo by Madi Robson/Unsplash

 

“The heart that gives, gathers.” – Tao Te Ching

 

A recent online survey I took began with a question about what I’d do if given 10 free lottery tickets. I could keep them all or give some portion of them to the next survey recipient. I chose to give five. Then it was on to the survey, which had nothing at all to do with lottery tickets or chance. It was, however, a survey that sought to determine generosity.

I was a bit astounded at that, thinking back to my line of reasoning about why I chose to give away half of my tickets. I figured that someone else could possibly benefit from them, while I’d still have a chance with my remaining five.

How generous are you? Would you be willing to part with any or all of your lottery tickets in a similar situation? What about how generous you are to others in real life? Do you stand aside to let others go ahead of you in a line at the grocery store if they only have one or a few items and your cart is filled? Do you let someone take cuts at the bathroom if they ask? Do you give money to charities with a proven record of actually helping those intended?

Generosity can occur in many ways, large and small. Some would argue that there is no level of generosity that is too small, just as there is no ceiling on how generous you can be. It is a choice each individual makes.

Sometimes how generous you are depends on your mood, how great things have gone that day (or how badly things have unraveled). You might be more inclined to be generous first thing in the morning or right after lunch. For others, the desire to be generous may come at home after dinner when you’re tending to email and get an appeal from one of the charities you donate to.

What does being generous do for you? It’s not selfish to consider this question. Many scholars, philosophers and ethicists have studied the issue. The 2014 Science of Generosity Initiative at Notre Dame found a causal relationship between generosity and happiness. They also found that in order to produce benefits for the giver, generosity has to be regularly practiced.

It isn’t the amount (of money, time, things), but the intention and the consistency.

So, whether it’s donating blood, dropping off food or clothing or other items, contributing to disaster relief or Habitat for Humanity or another worthy cause, helping a neighbor in need, even listening to a friend’s woes when you have other pressing needs, giving on a regular basis will pay handsome dividends.

What if you start to give but your heart isn’t really in it? Can you learn to be generous? Here, the Notre Dame researchers say there’s a “fake-it-til-you-make-it” aspect of generosity. You might start off dubious about being generous and find that it wasn’t that bad after all, so you might be inclined to do it again.

Being generous does make you feel good, especially if you are generous with your immediate family. Just be sure to expand your circle of generosity to include those outside the nuclear family.

Back to those 10 lottery tickets. How many would you give to the next person?

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October 21, 2016

Everything Is Possible

Photo by William Bout/Unsplash

Photo by William Bout/Unsplash

 

“It is better to believe than to disbelieve; in so doing you bring everything to the realm of possibility.” – Albert Einstein

 

Faced with a perplexing problem, stymied by yet again another failure, find yourself up against a wall of opposition to your ideas? If you fall into the trap of disbelief, you’ll initially waffle and ultimately give up on your goals, intentions and dreams. On the other hand, if you believe that you can succeed, you make the idea more than just a whimsical concept. You’re laying the groundwork for possibility.

If following this line of logic makes you dizzy, fear not. There’s solid reasoning behind it. Consider that many inventors pursued their ideas countless times before enjoying success. They didn’t give up on their vision. They believed that they could find the answer, work out the details, overcome all the obstacles in their path – and they did.

This doesn’t come without effort, disappointment, missteps and failures. It doesn’t mean success is guaranteed, just that everything is possible.

It does also require a substantial commitment, an earnest desire to achieve a goal and the willingness to endure all the twists and turns along the way. It means having the courage to stand up to the naysayers and hold fast to your belief.

Wouldn’t you rather believe you can succeed than tell yourself that you don’t have a chance? As far as motivation goes, no one ever felt a fire of enthusiasm when they were so self-critical and doubtful that they never entertained even the faintest glimmer of possibility. Believers, on the other hand, are true to their vision, despite all adversity and challenge.

And the victory, the ultimate success, is all the sweeter when you believe everything is possible.

Just be willing to act on your belief. Turning dreams into reality requires nothing less.

 

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October 20, 2016

Stay Calm, Serene, in Command

Photo by Sabine Schulte/Unsplash

Photo by Sabine Schulte/Unsplash

 

“Remain calm, serene, always in command of yourself. You will then find out how easy it is to get along.” – Yogananda

 

It can be difficult to get along if others are demanding, in-your-face intimidating, overly emotional, or expecting immediate answers or results. But it can be just as tough when you feel unprepared, ill at ease, know you’ve made a mistake or have too much on your mind to deal with right now.

Difficult, but not impossible.

The key is to stay calm, serene and in command.

That’s easy to say and another thing altogether to put into action, right? How can you be calm when your guts are raw from a painful breakup, you’ve just been told you’re being let go due to downsizing or some other corporate euphemism for getting rid of additional headcount, you’re consumed with anxiety over an upcoming presentation or some other physically and emotionally taxing situation you find yourself in?

How can you remain serene when it feels fake?

How can you be in command when the world feels like it’s falling apart around you?

Tough questions, indeed. Maybe these thoughts will help.

  • Take a few deep breaths before any encounter, verbal exchange, responding to important emails or posting social media updates. If you are feeling angry or sad or upset in any way, this will help to calm you by bringing oxygen to your brain.

 

  • Remember that adopting a serene demeanor is something that you can train yourself to do. It isn’t that you’ve changed the situation, but you’ve changed your attitude.

 

  • The more you practice being calm and serene, the easier it becomes to have control of yourself. You will have the self-confidence that you won’t overreact, will modulate your tone and carefully choose your words and actions.

 

  • Be true to your values and beliefs. This will greatly assist you in personal interactions. Act in ways that you want others to interact with you. Be kind and generous. Give others the benefit of the doubt until proven otherwise, and then be forgiving.

 

  • Keep in mind that just as you may feel awkward or unsure trying to get along with others, they may very well feel the same way. Putting yourself in someone else’s position may help you not only understand that everyone has difficulty getting along at some point but also make it easier to strike that necessary balance of calmness, serenity and being in control of yourself.

 

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October 19, 2016

Don't Be Afraid to Accept Challenges

Photo by Samsommer/Unsplash

Photo by Samsommer/Unsplash

 

“Challenges are what make life interesting and overcoming them is what makes life meaningful.” – Joshua J. Marine

 

If you want an interesting life, filled with opportunities and excitement, embrace challenges. If you want the same thing day in and day out, shy away from anything challenging. Given the two choices, which would you choose?

Challenges provide an outlet for you to express your creativity, figuring out solutions to tough problems, allowing you to use your persuasive ability to convince others to act, encourage you to summon the strengths you have in order to address seemingly intractable issues, and so much more.

It’s also true that you won’t succeed at every challenge. That doesn’t make pursuing them any less worthwhile. As long as you learn from the experience, you’ve gained value. And this value cannot be measured in financial terms. After all, what is the value of experience? If it were to be assigned a monetary value, it would have to be astronomical.

Perhaps you think that taking the safe route is a better way to live. OK, that’s fine if you want a mediocre life. Without ever pushing yourself to surpass current skills, to discover new, albeit, different ways of doing things, where’s the joy in that?

Challenges do present risks along with opportunities. There’s no sure success, ever. But living in the status quo, a self-imposed sameness and unwillingness to venture anywhere unknown will surely stunt your growth.

On the other hand, you don’t need to be afraid to accept challenges. In fact, you can step into challenging situations gradually. Don’t be afraid. Be bold. The greatest fear you have is fear itself. Once you meet it and face it head on, it generally turns out to be less formidable than you thought.

Often it’s a fear of failure that holds us back from accepting challenges. Here is fear again working its insidious fingers into our minds and telling us we cannot possibly succeed.

Yet you can succeed.

First, though, you have to overcome your fear of accepting challenges. Once you embrace the fact that challenges will make your life an elaborate tapestry of exquisite details, they won’t seem as frightening or off-limits.

 

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October 18, 2016

Moments That Take Your Breath Away

Photo by Joshua Earle/Unsplash

Photo by Joshua Earle/Unsplash

 

“Life is not measured by the number of breaths we take, but by the moments that take our breath away.” – Maya Angelou

 

Indulge me for a minute. Think about a time when you experienced so much beauty or love or awe that it took your breath away. For me, I can recall many such moments:

  • The first sight of the Grand Canyon at sunrise
  • The absolutely heartbreaking first glimpse at my newborn child
  • The smile of love that was instantly reciprocated with my one-and-only
  • My first ride in an airplane
  • Rocketing on a roller-coaster ride with my dad
  • Feeling the exhilaration of riding a two-wheel bike for the first time
  • Winning a writing contest when I was 16
  • Receiving the Sloan Fellowship in Screenwriting

While this trip down memory lane is highly personal, it’s meant to showcase that breathtaking moments are the highlights of our life. They come in rather unexpected ways and at the most inexplicable times.

Some make us laugh in giddy abandon. Others make us cry. Some we remember like it was yesterday, while others hang at the edges of our mind just waiting to be recollected.

At the end of my life, I don’t want any regrets. That’s why I live each day to the best of my ability. Granted, some days aren’t the pinnacle of my best. I’m prone to being too wrapped up in what I’m doing to keep track of time, often neglect my own well-being in pursuit of a current goal, tend to be more solitary than I should. But I do make a solid attempt to right my direction, to get out of my own thoughts and spend time with others doing what matters.

If there’s a lesson that I’ve learned more times than I can count, it’s that life is precious and short. In order to live it wisely and well, to be fulfilled and happy and eager to greet each day, it’s necessary to accept and embrace all that life has to offer. This means the good and the bad. The good we can rejoice in, while the bad calls upon us to right the wrongs and do better.

Look for what takes your breath away today. It’s there, waiting for you to discover it.

 

 

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Daily Thoughts


October 17, 2016

No Excuses Allowed

Photo by Yinan Chen/Picography

Photo by Yinan Chen/Picography

“If you really want to do something, you’ll find a way. If you don’t you’ll find an excuse.” – Jim Rohn

 

Have you heard the one about the dog ate my homework? This is a classic excuse by a kid who doesn’t want to take responsibility for his or her obligation to perform schoolwork as required. It also applies to adults who prefer finding an excuse to taking care of business. The problem with excuses is that they’re lies, self-lies and outright lies. Wouldn’t it be great if we could say and enforce this point: No excuses allowed?

Shirking responsibility and being lazy aren’t just the habits of a minority. The sad truth is that we’re all guilty of making an excuse for what we don’t want to do at one time or another. It’s easy to say and we often get a pass. In other words, our bad behavior is seemingly rewarded.

Is it really?

I’m a firm believer in karma, which essentially means that what goes around comes around. And I think this holds true whether you believe in any organized religion or not. It’s simply basic human decency.

Mean what you say and say what you mean. Furthermore, if you know you have an obligation, responsibility or duty to do something, own it. Do it. Don’t look for excuses to buy time or foist your job on someone else. And don’t blame someone else when the failure is your own fault.

Unfortunately, too many people failed to receive proper parental guidance when they were growing up. Perhaps the parents were overwhelmed or never learned themselves about values and doing the right thing. Listening to crowd mentality, especially when you’re too lazy to form your own intelligent opinion, isn’t conducive to truth-telling and owning your responsibilities.

Granted, you’ll be tempted at times to blurt out an excuse. If you’re tired, overworked, sick, had a bad day, are looking forward to kicking off your shoes and watching sports on TV, surfing the Internet, posting on social media or whatever, you’re perhaps vulnerable to whip out a somewhat-believable excuse for why you can’t do something you should, even if you promised to do so.

Don’t get sucked into temptation. The quicker you tend to what you need to do, the sooner you’ll be on your way to doing what you’d rather do. No excuses allowed. Just tend to business first. Relax later. You’ll be the better person for it. And so will the rest of society.

 

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Daily Thoughts


October 16, 2016

Happiness is a Healthy Habit You Choose

Photo by Ryan McGuire/Gratisography

Photo by Ryan McGuire/Gratisography

“Being miserable is a habit. Being happy is a habit. The choice is yours.” – Tom Hopkins

 

We all know about habits. We’re very much creatures of them. What we do every day tends to evolve into a habit, whether by design or circumstance. While we don’t often think about making choices when it comes to the habits we have, in reality we do make the choice.

For example, there are good habits and bad ones that we choose, like being happy and being miserable.

Sometimes, we think what we habitually do is good, when it’s anything but. What we often forget, however, especially when we suddenly realize that we’re miserable, is that we are the ones making that choice. No one else is responsible.

Think about making a choice to be miserable or unhappy. Would you really want that for yourself? What about helping your child grow into a healthy adult? Would you teach your child to do things that would result in their being miserable, disappointed, sad or defeated? Of course not, so why choose that habit for yourself?

When you make a choice to be happy, it’s not a selfish undertaking. It’s actually doing something incredibly proactive for your overall well-being. When you’re optimistic and upbeat in your attitude, challenges in life don’t tend to overwhelm you. It’s not that you’re going to work any less hard to accomplish your objectives, just that you won’t be stopped in your tracks and quit at the first obstacle you encounter.

How to Make It Easier to Choose Healthy Habits

If you accept that you are solely responsible for the habits you choose to do, how do you make it easier to choose healthy habits? Here are some tips:

  • When you face a decision, think about the different choices you have. Which ones are healthier, more positive, likely to result in a favorable outcome, have a spillover influence on others, or produce feelings of happiness, contentment, peace of mind, gratitude and self-confidence? Among the choices are some that are healthier for you. Select one or more of them.

 

  • If you’ve been accustomed to living with bad habits you’ve cultivated, make a conscious decision to gradually move away from them and into ones that are more conducive to living a happier, healthier life. They’re readily available. You just have to search for them and work them into your life.

 

  • Be objective when considering habits. Think of them as long-term investments that you’re looking for a good return on. As such, doing healthy habits such as regular exercise, cutting out excess sugar and calories, aiming for a solid 8 hours of sleep each night will produce more benefits than their negative alternatives.

 

  • Forgive yourself for little slips. There’s no doubt that you’ll fall back into unhealthy habits from time to time. Instead of beating yourself up about it, resolve to shift back into healthier habits right away. You’ll feel better for doing so and will likely have learned a valuable lesson in the process.

 

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Daily Thoughts


October 15, 2016

Success Begins With a Dream

Photo by Aneta Ivanova/Unsplash

Photo by Aneta Ivanova/Unsplash

If you can dream it, you can do it.” – Walt Disney

 

Dreams are incredibly powerful. They can inspire, motivate, generate enthusiasm, resolve problems, identify solutions and provide a pathway to follow. Dreams aren’t just what you do while you’re sleeping or staring off into space, deeply engrossed in some future vision. They’re the instrument and foundation for successful accomplishment.

In order to do anything, you need a plan. You have to be able to see yourself successful before you can be victorious. Merely plodding along without dedication or attention to detail won’t get you there. Neither will sloughing off and leaving the task for another day or, worse, for someone else. Success will forever elude you if you adopt those tactics.

On the other hand, having a dream about success and paying attention to the sign posts called out in it can greatly assist your efforts.

A dream of success:

  • Shows you what is possible.
  • Gives you at least one (and usually several) pathways to achieve a goal.
  • Helps restore your spirit and nourish your soul.
  • Reinforces your intentions and clarifies ambiguity.
  • Builds self-confidence and a can-do attitude.
  • Is always available to boost resolve and motivate action.
  • Taps into your creative ability and strings together ideas, concepts and scenarios your conscious mind may not be able to envision.
  • Serves as a beacon when you encounter obstacles and hurdles, reminding you what is important and why you’re doing this.
  • Identifies areas with the potential for further discovery.
  • Enriches your life, showing you there’s more yet that you can do.

It doesn’t matter what the goal is. If you can dream it, you can flesh it out in waking life and figure out a way to achieve it.

Why not give credence to your dreams of success? If you truly desire to be successful in anything you deem worthwhile and meaningful, allow yourself to become steeped in what your dreams have to offer.

Then take action.

Success begins with a dream. Always.

 

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October 14, 2016

Dealing With Defeat

Photo by Noah Silliman/Unsplash

Photo by Noah Silliman/Unsplash

“I never thought of losing, but now that it’s happened the only thing is to do it right. That’s my obligation to all the people who believe in me. We all have to take defeats in life.” – Muhammad Ali

 

Losing stings. Worse than that, the sting can stick around for far too long. Still, there are lessons to be learned from defeat, even though they may be painful at first. Once you recognize that defeat and losing are not any indication that there’s something wrong with you, it’s easier to pick up and move along, the wiser for the experience.

One thing that’s universal is making mistakes. No one ever gets life perfect. No matter how educated you are or how many times you’ve done something, how young or old, sick or healthy, rich or poor – or any other characteristic or demographic, you’re going to suffer defeat at some point.

The important thing to remember is that you can come back from defeat. That’s primary to keep in mind. There are other points to remember, including:

  • Make it a point to learn something from your mistake, error, misstep, failure or miscalculation. There is a lesson there to be learned. It’s up to you to figure it out.

 

  • Instead of blaming yourself, look for how you can do better the next time. This is called continuous improvement and it goes along with learning from your mistakes.

 

  • Ask for help if you need it. There’s no shame in this. Actually, it shows that you recognize your limitations and are smart enough to request assistance.

 

  • For every failure, there’s a success waiting to happen. It may take a while – even longer than you think – but with persistence and hard work, you’ll succeed.

 

  • Don’t take defeat personally. It happens to everyone, without exception. You are more alike in this than you know. Mankind is subject to falling down in defeat and climbing back up to succeed.

 

  • Remember, too, that others may be depending on you to succeed. If you suffer a failure, resolve to pick yourself back up and get back at it. The only way up is to get up and keep moving forward.

 

  • Another point worth keeping front and center is that the measure of a man isn’t how much he succeeds in life, but how he lives it. If you always strive to learn from your mistakes, to not accept failure as final, and to adopt and maintain a hopeful, positive attitude and outlook while helping others to the extent you can, you will live a productive and fulfilling life.

 

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October 13, 2016

Work Hard to Achieve

Photo by Julien Lavallée/Unsplash

Photo by Julien Lavallée/Unsplash

“Spectacular achievement is always preceded by unspectacular preparation.” – Robert H. Schuller

 

One truism about achievement is that it requires work. Often this is tough-going, long-in-duration, hard-fought work. No wonder it’s so easy to get discouraged. In a world of instant gratification, the notion that you have to put in a great deal of effort to come out a success isn’t too appealing.

But it’s necessary.

Some might say, “No pain, no gain.”

Not that you need to physically suffer in order to reap the rewards from your work. But, in a sense, you can consider preparation and persistence a type of pain.

Why Bother with Preparation?

While it might seem easier and quicker to just move ahead on a project or task or dive into trying to resolve a problem or issue (such as disciplining an employee or scolding your teenager for breaking curfew), such hastiness without regard to all the facts might result in an unsatisfactory outcome.

The reason it’s called preparation is that a successful and/or desirable resolution or result requires taking certain logical and well-planned steps. You don’t just run out in front of a train to stop it. That just precipitates disaster. Careful reasoning and a prudent approach are required.

It’s the same principle with anything you hope to achieve. Whether you’re eager to obtain your master’s degree so it can make your career prospects brighter or trying to lose 15 pounds so you can fit into a particular ensemble for a big event, preparation is everything.

Keep the Goal in Mind

Prep work, no doubt about it, is frequently tedious and boring. There are many other things you’d rather do. Yet, tending to the little steps along the way to achieving your goal can actually serve to bolster your resolve to keep at it. This is especially true when you run into an obstacle, an unexpected hurdle that threatens the outcome you’re working so hard to attain.

When you keep the goal in mind, it’s a lot less onerous to keep slogging through the drudge work. Every step you take forward – even though this sometimes results in a step or two backward – means you’re making progress. By learning from your mistakes (those backward steps), you’re gaining invaluable knowledge that helps you get closer to your goal. It may not seem like it at the time, but it does.

Savor the Win, Remember the Work that Preceded It

When you do achieve your spectacular success, it’s important to take some time to savor it. Victory and achievement are incredibly self-motivating. You deserve to bask in the accomplishment. Not too long, of course, because there are other goals and work to get to, but do celebrate the win.

Recall, too, all the hard work, that preceded the win. Why do this? You’ll undoubtedly face tougher obstacles in your drive to achieve yet another goal. The knowledge and skill you’ve gained from this most recent success will serve as a springboard to advancing your progress.

At the very least, you know what works. At the most, you’ll have the self-confidence, drive and enthusiasm to tackle any and all problems that stand in the way of achieving your goals.

 

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Daily Thoughts


October 12, 2016

Vitality is...Starting Over

Photo by Justin Young/Unsplash

Photo by Justin Young/Unsplash

 

“Vitality shows not only in the ability to persist but the ability to start over.” – F. Scott Fitzgerald

 

If you fail at something, what do you do? Chances are that you start over. This may not always be easy or come naturally, but you know from past experience that it generally results in solid learning.

You learn, for example, what didn’t work.

But you also learn what did work and what you can use again.

In order to be successful at any endeavor, you need to persist, to be diligent and bold and not give up.

It also means tapping into your ability to start over when things don’t go right, fall apart, aren’t the outcome you expected or anticipated, or fail to serve the purpose for which they were intended.

Too often, people become discouraged when they run into difficulty. The easier route is to give up, to rationalize that it wasn’t meant to be or the task was too tough, they didn’t have sufficient help or resources. Those are just excuses. No one ever got very far in life by spouting a continual litany of excuses.

They also don’t live a very full life by failing to re-engage, to start over.

In fact, you show your vitality by virtue of how persistent you are and how willing you are to pick up the pieces and begin again.

To start over, remind yourself that you’ve been successful before in overcoming challenges and that you have what it takes. Expect to encounter more obstacles in pursuit of your goal or outcome. Know that the going may get rough before it smooths out.

Feel the energy of excitement as you close in on a solution or see the end of the task coming close. Marshal your courage to keep on in the face of opposition, temporary missteps, self-doubt and lack of time. With persistence and the unfailing determination to see things through you’ll bolster your self-confidence, renew your motivation and come out the other side a winner.

Vitality is starting over. And vitality is a prime ingredient in a vibrant and purposeful life.

 

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Daily Thoughts


October 11, 2016

Just Do One Thing at a Time

Photo by Vladimir Kudinov/Unsplash

Photo by Vladimir Kudinov/Unsplash

“It is those who concentrate on one thing at a time who advance in this world.” – Og Mandingo

 

Fans of multitasking won’t like this. Yet the fact, validated by scientific research, is that the human brain does its best work when focusing on one thing at a time. Dividing concentration results in a disjointed effort: nothing is accomplished 100 percent.

Granted, it’s not always easy to devote yourself to a single task. Life has other plans for you, tossing interruptions in your way, giving you a nudge to tend to something else simultaneously.

Yet you can hone in on the task at hand and seek to eliminate or reduce the number of distractions. It does take effort and patience. Frustration at not being able to successfully clear your mind totally is not uncommon.

What can you do to help your goal and fine-tune your concentration? Check out these tips:

  • Make a list of tasks. This simple step puts everything on paper that you have to do and some that you want to do, such as balancing the checkbook, finishing an urgent project at work, even attending your son’s soccer game. When you have a list to refer to, you know you’re not forgetting anything. It’s also easier to tend to the next recommendation.

 

  • Prioritize. Since you can’t do everything at once, or even two things well at once, allocate the tasks according to importance first, then according to time required, and finally to willingness/desire to do them. Why? There are some tasks that you can quickly complete – and do well – and this will help you feel like you’re making progress. Other tasks you know you want to get to for various reasons, not the least of which is you like them. By prioritizing what’s on your list, you’ll help yourself to concentrate more fully on whatever task you begin at the time.

 

  • Weed out unnecessary items. Another benefit of making a list of tasks is that it’s easier to see redundancy. Eliminate those that are too similar or combine elements of one or more into one task. Weed out anything that’s unnecessary. This cleaned-up list greatly aids your ability to concentrate on and just do one thing at a time.

 

  • Be sure to take breaks. You can’t work full-tilt all the time. You need a break now and then. Take a walk outside, talk with a friend, meditate, read a book or magazine for 20 minutes, whatever gives you the opportunity to put some space between you and all the items on your to-do list for the day. Once you’re refreshed, you can return to your work with a renewed sense of focus and attention.

 

  • Celebrate success. Sometimes it’s hard to feel like you’re accomplishing what’s needed. It may be that certain projects or tasks take multiple steps, require long preparation or weeks of work before any substantial gains are realized. When you do complete a task on your list, especially one that you deem highly important, take a minute to celebrate success. Congratulate yourself for your ability to focus, to do one thing at a time and do it well.

 

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Daily Thoughts


October 10, 2016

Why You Need Quiet Time

Photo by Tim Bogdanov/Unsplash

Photo by Tim Bogdanov/Unsplash

“We need quiet time to examine our lives openly and honestly – spending quiet time alone gives your mind an opportunity to renew itself and create order.” – Susan L. Taylor

 

Let’s face it. There’s a lot of noise and distraction in the world. Sometimes, the din is so loud and the interruptions so many and varied that it’s tough to tend to what’s necessary and right. The yearning for peace and quiet, however, has more significance than just taking a well-deserved break. It’s an important and integral part of growth, renewal and joy of living.

But making the time to find comfort in solitude and silence is often seen as an unaffordable luxury. After all, if you’re off being quiet and reflecting, you’re not accomplishing anything, right?

Actually, wrong. You’re doing something much more profound and that is helping to establish a cadence and priority, finding that life-affirming spark of enthusiasm and coaxing it into a fire that motivates and inspires you to take action.

Why do you need quiet time? How do you prepare for it? What do you do to nurture it? How do you ensure there’s time in your schedule to accommodate your need for self-reflection? Here are some thoughts.

  • You need to rest to renew. It’s impossible to just keep going without ever stopping to rest. Even machines need downtime for repairs and maintenance. The human body is no different, with the exception that the mind often tries to influence continued action at the expense of physical, emotional and spiritual needs. You need quiet time, that uninterrupted silence that is so elusive and prized, in order to rest and renew.

 

  • Quiet time helps you discover what’s important. When you’re constantly doing things, you may tend to forget or ignore what’s really important. By involving yourself in too many activities, taking on too much or spending time on unnecessary and time-wasting projects and tasks, you’re losing sight of what matters most. You need quiet time to rediscover what you’ve neglected and to discover what’s important if you’ve never done so.

 

  • When it’s quiet, you can make order out of chaos. In the midst of a flurry of activity is no time to prioritize tasks. You’re too busy working on making progress. The time to examine your reasons for what you’re doing and to figure out some semblance of order that works for you is during times of quiet self-reflection.

 

  • There’s grace and spiritual renewal in quiet time. All the negatives attendant in everyday life can overshadow the good and positive that co-exist. You need quiet time to allow grace to suffuse you and your spirit to renew itself in those golden moments of quiet introspection.

 

  • Quiet time reinforces your sense of place in the universe. Since you are human and not a machine, you have the ability to put things into perspective. This is difficult when you’re crashing to meet a deadline or attempting to multitask. You need quiet time to do that. It’s at this time when you’re able to think about where you are in the universe, to discover your purpose and find meaning in what you are able to do in this lifetime.

 

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