This is a compilation of thoughts and quotes that I have found or written recently, as well as many that I've collected throughout the years. Most thoughts are posted randomly, as I feel inspired. A listing of quotes can be found alphabetically (check the 2008 and 2009 archives listing), or by source.

Feel free to suggest additions!


“For as he thinketh in his heart, so is he.” – Proverbs 23:7

Friday, December 6, 2013

Life Is A Choice. It Is Your life: The Top 5 Regrets People Make On Their Deathbed

Nurse reveals the top 5 regrets people make on their deathbed

Bronnie Ware says; for many years I worked in palliative care. My patients were those who had gone home to die. Some incredibly special times were shared. I was with them for the last three to twelve weeks of their lives. People grow a lot when they are faced with their own mortality.
I learnt never to underestimate someone’s capacity for growth. Some changes were phenomenal. Each experienced a variety of emotions, as expected, denial, fear, anger, remorse, more denial and eventually acceptance. Every single patient found their peace before they departed though, every one of them.
When questioned about any regrets they had or anything they would do differently, common themes surfaced again and again. Here are the most common five:
1. I wish I’d had the courage to live a life true to myself, not the life others expected of me.
This was the most common regret of all. When people realize that their life is almost over and look back clearly on it, it is easy to see how many dreams have gone unfulfilled. Most people had not honored even a half of their dreams and had to die knowing that it was due to choices they had made, or not made.
It is very important to try and honor at least some of your dreams along the way. From the moment that you lose your health, it is too late. Health brings a freedom very few realize, until they no longer have it.
2. I wish I didn’t work so hard.
This came from every male patient that I nursed. They missed their children’s youth and their partner’s companionship. Women also spoke of this regret. But as most were from an older generation, many of the female patients had not been breadwinners. All of the men I nursed deeply regretted spending so much of their lives on the treadmill of a work existence.
By simplifying your lifestyle and making conscious choices along the way, it is possible to not need the income that you think you do. And by creating more space in your life, you become happier and more open to new opportunities, ones more suited to your new lifestyle.
3. I wish I’d had the courage to express my feelings.
Many people suppressed their feelings in order to keep peace with others. As a result, they settled for a mediocre existence and never became who they were truly capable of becoming. Many developed illnesses relating to the bitterness and resentment they carried as a result.
We cannot control the reactions of others. However, although people may initially react when you change the way you are by speaking honestly, in the end it raises the relationship to a whole new and healthier level. Either that or it releases the unhealthy relationship from your life. Either way, you win.
4. I wish I had stayed in touch with my friends.
Often they would not truly realize the full benefits of old friends until their dying weeks and it was not always possible to track them down. Many had become so caught up in their own lives that they had let golden friendships slip by over the years. There were many deep regrets about not giving friendships the time and effort that they deserved. Everyone misses their friends when they are dying.
It is common for anyone in a busy lifestyle to let friendships slip. But when you are faced with your approaching death, the physical details of life fall away. People do want to get their financial affairs in order if possible. But it is not money or status that holds the true importance for them. They want to get things in order more for the benefit of those they love. Usually though, they are too ill and weary to ever manage this task. It is all comes down to love and relationships in the end. That is all that remains in the final weeks, love and relationships.
5. I wish that I had let myself be happier.
This is a surprisingly common one. Many did not realise until the end that happiness is a choice. They had stayed stuck in old patterns and habits. The so-called ‘comfort’ of familiarity overflowed into their emotions, as well as their physical lives. Fear of change had them pretending to others, and to their selves, that they were content. When deep within, they longed to laugh properly and have silliness in their life again. When you are on your deathbed, what  others think of you is a long way from your mind. How wonderful to be able to let go and smile again, long before you are dying.
Life is a choice. It is YOUR life. Choose consciously, choose wisely, choose honestly. Choose happiness.
Source: This article originated from blog of author Bronnie Ware.
Based on this article, Bronnie has released a full-length book. It is a memoir of her own life and how it was transformed based on the regrets of the dying people she cared for. The book is available from her website, and major online bookstores and is called ‘The Top Five Regrets of the Dying – A Life Transformed by the Dearly Departing’.

See Also:
The Top 37 Things Dying People Say They Regret

Thursday, November 14, 2013

PROP US UP ON THE LEANING SIDE

Every time I am asked to pray, I think of the old fellow who always prayed, "Lord, prop us up on our leaning side." After hearing him pray that prayer many times, someone asked him why he prayed that prayer so fervently.

He answered, "Well sir, you see, it’s like this . . . I got an old barn out back. It’s been there a long time. It’s withstood a lot of weather, it’s gone through a lot of storms, and it’s stood for many years. It’s still standing. But one day I noticed it was leaning to one side a bit. So I went and got some pine poles and propped it up on its leaning side so it wouldn’t fall.

Then I got to thinking about how much I was like that old barn. I’ve been around a long time. I’ve withstood a lot of life’s storms, and I’ve withstood a lot of bad weather in life, I’ve withstood a lot of hard times, and I’m still standing, too. But I find myself leaning to one side from time to time, so I like to ask the Lord to prop me up on my leaning side.

I figure a lot of us get to leaning at times. Sometimes we get to leaning toward anger, leaning toward bitterness, leaning toward hatred, leaning toward cussing, leaning toward a lot of things that we shouldn’t. So we need to pray, "Lord, prop us up on our leaning side, so we will stand straight and tall again to glorify Thee.”

We need Thee, Lord, to give us the strength to stand whenever we get out of balance. In those times, “Lord, prop us up on our leaning side.”

Fear thou not; for I am with thee: be not dismayed; for I am thy God: I will strengthen thee; yea, I will help thee; yea, I will uphold thee with the right hand of my righteousness. (Isaiah 41:10)

Author Unknown

Thursday, November 7, 2013

Believe in Yourself!

The professor stood before his class of 30 senior molecular biology students, about to pass out the final exam. 'I have been privileged to be your instructor this semester, and I know how hard you have all worked to prepare for this test. I also know most of you are off to medical school or grad school next fall,' he said to them.

'I am well aware of how much pressure you are under to keep your GPAs up, and because I know you are all capable of understanding this material, I am prepared to offer an automatic 'B' to anyone who would prefer not to take the final.'


The relief was audible as a number of students jumped up to thank the professor and departed from class. The professor looked at the handful of students who remained, and offered again, 'Any other takers? This is your last opportunity.' One more student decided to go. 


Seven students remained. The professor closed the door and took attendance. Then he handed out the final exam. There were two sentences typed on the paper:
'Congratulations, you have just received an 'A' in this class. Keep believing in yourself.'

I never had a professor who gave a test like that. It may seem like the easy way out of grading a bunch of exams, but it's a test that any teacher in any discipline could and should give. Students who don't have confidence in what they've learned are 'B' students at best.


The same is true for students of real life. The 'A' students are those who believe in what they're doing because they've learned from both successes and failures. They've absorbed life's lessons, whether from formal education or the school of hard knocks, and become better people.


Those are the people who you look for when you're hiring or promoting, and the ones you keep if you're downsizing. Your organization needs their brand of thinking.


Psychologists say that by the age of two, 50 percent of what we ever believe about ourselves has been formed; by age six, 60 percent, and at eight years, 80 percent. Wouldn't you love to have the energy and optimism of a little kid? There is nothing you couldn't do or learn or be.
But you're a big kid now, and you realize you have some limits. Don't let the biggest limit be yourself. Take your cue from Sir Edmund Hillary, the first person to reach the summit of Mount Everest: 'It's not the mountain we conquer, but ourselves.'


Believing in yourself comes from knowing what you are really capable of doing. When it's your turn to step up to the plate, realise that you won't hit a homerun every time. Baseball superstar Mickey Mantle struck out more than 1,700 times, but it didn't stop him from excelling at baseball. He believed in himself, and he knew his fans believed in him.


Surround yourself with positive people - they know the importance of confidence and will help you keep focused on what you can do instead of what you can't. Who you surround yourself with is who you become.


Never stop learning! Don't limit yourself only to work-related classes, either. Learn everything about every subject that you can. When you know what you're talking about, it shows.


Be very careful not to confuse confidence with a big ego. If you want people to believe in you, you also have to believe in them. Understand well that those around you also have much to contribute, and they deserve your support. Without faith in yourself and others, success is impossible.


At the end of a particularly frustrating practice one-day, a football coach dismissed his players by yelling, 'Now all you idiots, go take a shower!' All but one player headed toward the locker room. The coach glared at him and asked why he was still there.


'You told all the idiots to go, Sir,' the player replied, 'and there sure seems to be a lot of them. But I am not an idiot.'


Confident? You bet. And smart enough to coach that team some day.


Moral: Believe in yourself, even when no one else does.



from Ankur Bhandari

Sunday, October 6, 2013

The Choices We Make, from Music and the Spoken Word

Not long ago, a family decided to spend a hot summer afternoon floating down a river on inner tubes. A river guide gave them clear instructions to make their trip enjoyable and safe. In particular, he warned them about a stretch of river where a bridge produced a strong undercurrent. he instructed them to get out of the river at that point and carry their tubes to the next launching area.  All went well, until one adult family member decided to ignore the river guide’s warning. The detour seemed like an unnecessary limitation. Besides, he had floated the river before, and he knew what he was doing.

It was a mistake. The violent undercurrent flipped his tube over and plunged him into the water. Luckily, his life jacket kept him afloat, and all he lost were some of his belongings. It could have been much more tragic. He quickly realized how much better off he would have been to avoid the danger zone all together.

Life, like an unpredictable river, is fraught with danger zones—some of them obvious, but many of them unseen. Are we sometimes content to follow the current of popular culture or popular opinion, wherever it might take us? Often the best course is to heed the advice of those who have foreseen the dangers, those who are wiser and better informed, even when it is inconvenient or unpopular.

The counsel to avoid these dangers may at first seem like an unnecessary and unwanted restriction. Sooner or later, however, we realize that such counsel does not restrict our freedom; it protects 
it.  Although we can choose to rationalize, reject, or ignore good counsel and divine commandment, the choices we make—though they may seem small and unimportant at the time—have lasting consequences.

To make it safely home, it is not enough to simply “go with the flow.” The safe course is rarely the path of least resistance; rather, it requires deliberate choices, willingness to learn, and humble recognition that we don’t know everything. Truly, these choices determine our safety, our happiness, and our destiny.

- from "Music and the Spoken Word", by Lloyd Newell, October 6, 2013

Friday, August 16, 2013

The Purpose of Life: Recalculating

The purpose of life is to learn and grow and become better. Surely, heaven will be filled not with those who never made mistakes but with those who recognized they were straying and made corrections to get back on course. And we have opportunities to do that throughout life.

Think how much better life could be if this were our attitude—to learn from setbacks and mistakes rather than being defined or paralyzed by them. Anyone who has ever been lost or confused knows how absolutely vital it is to occasionally reassess the direction of our lives.

One writer compares the matter-of-fact tone of a GPS, a satellite-based navigation system, to the ideal attitude toward accepting course corrections in life. “Here’s what I really love about the GPS,” she says. “When you miss the turn, it doesn’t fall apart. It just calmly says, ‘Recalculating,’ and tells you how to fix your mistake.” And then she laments: “I wish I could be as gentle and objective about my life mistakes as the GPS is about my driving ones. How marvelous it would be to be able to see things objectively and say to myself, ‘Well, you missed that turn, but we can still get you there.’”

We all need to recalculate from time to time. It might be a change of plans or goals, an adjustment in our expectations and outlook, a fine-tuning of our attitude and character. In all these course corrections and recalculations, let us be patient and gentle and a little objective with ourselves. 

Remember, we are here to learn and grow and become better—and that takes time. Once we come to see mistakes as building blocks for a better life rather than stumbling blocks that keep us down, we truly begin to understand the purpose of life.

Smile

Most of us would agree with the lyrics of the well-known song, “When you’re smiling, the whole world smiles with you.” But did you know that smiling may also be good for your health? Researchers are finding that smiling slows down the heart rate, reduces stress, and can make you feel happier. In fact, some research suggests that the smile doesn’t even have to be genuine—even a forced smile can have a positive effect on your well-being. When you smile, you just feel better.
Of course, on long, hard days it can be difficult to summon a smile or muster a grin. But that may be when a smile is needed the most.
One dark, snowy winter day, a young man was walking across a deserted university campus on his way to an early-morning class. It was hard to find anything to smile about that cold and windy morning. And then he heard someone singing—loudly! As he got a little closer, he recognized his roommate walking toward him, singing at the top of his lungs, “Oh, what a beautiful morning! Oh, what a beautiful day!” It’s practically impossible to sing those words without a smile. It can’t be done.
Now, some may say that this young man was silly or deluded, but those who knew him well understood who he really was—optimistic, upbeat, always on the lookout for the positive.4
You can’t always do much to change your circumstances, but you can always smile. Smiling is an outward expression of a full and abundant heart.
So smile. Smile because you are alive. Smile because you live in a glorious world. Smile because there are good people around you who could use a smile. Smile because there’s always the promise and hope that life will get better. Having the courage and disposition to greet others and yourself with a smile may be just enough to turn the day around.

Life: Capture the Moment, Be In It!

How do you capture a moment?  Do you record a mental picture in your mind or do you record it digitally like these concert fans?
     
Moment in Time

At nearly every concert or event you can as many phones recording pictures or videos of moment as you can see eyes watching it. It's great to have the technology to capture our moments in real time. However, sometimes we are so busy digitally capturing an event for later that we forget to emotionally and viscerally capture it in the moment. We lose the present moment by trying to preserve it for the future.

Photos and images are wonderful, but they can never replace actually being there. Live moments can never be relived.  This reminds me of my motto I share with my family, "Life - be in it!"

by Julie Davis-Colan

Tuesday, August 13, 2013

Success vs. Significance: The Tale of Two Eddies

         "Try not to become a man of success, but rather try to become a man of value.” 
          – Albert Einstein

The Tale of Two Eddies

Al “Scarface” Capone was the king of organized crime in Chicago in the 1920s, and his lieutenant was a lawyer people called “Easy Eddie”.  Eddie helped Al run his affairs – bootleg liquor, gambling, prostitution, murder – and hide them from the authorities.  Eddie was very good at his job, which was basically keeping Scarface out of jail.

Capone paid him well for his services.  Eddie had a big house, servants, a fine car.  He lived well as an industrial baron, and he didn't lose sleep over what was going on around him.  Life was for the successful.

But Easy Eddie did have one soft spot – his beloved son.  Eddie lavished him with clothes, a car, a good education, the best of everything money could buy.  But there was one other thing Easy Eddie wanted his son to have, something Easy Eddie himself did not have: a good name.
Son one day  Easy Eddie made a difficult and dangerous decision,  In 1930 he asked a reporter friend to put him in touch with the Internal Revenue Service.  He would reveal how Capone made his money and dodged taxes.  He became what a top government investigator later said was “one of the best undercover men I have ever known.”
Capone was tried and found guilty of tax evasion and sentenced to 11 years in prison.  A few years later, Easy Eddie was shot to death in his car by killers unknown.
The Navy’s first Medal of Honor aviator of World War II was another Eddie, a superb fighter pilot whose many friends called him “Butch”.  In the Southwest Pacific in early 1942, the Japanese launched a bomber attack on his aircraft carrier, the USS Lexington.  Butch and his wingman were the only flyers aloft close enough to intercept the enemy formation, and the wingman’s guns were jammed.  Butch dived at the bombers again and again, weaving in and out of formation with all six 50-caliber guns blazing, shooting down five of the nine enemy planes and so disrupting the attack that none of the bombs fell on target.  Butch’s bravery and skill were credited with saving the ship, and he became a national hero.
By late 1943, because of the success of the U.S. navy’s flight tactics, the Japanese bombers had changed their operations and were attacking after dark.  To counter this new tactic, Butch and his squadron were developing the Navy’s first night operations.  Airborne radar and navigation equipment were primitive in 1943, nowhere near as capable as the modern gear that makes night operations routine.  In this risky environment, the Navy’s first Medal of Honor aviator was shot down.  Neither he nor his plane was ever found.
In 1945 the U.S. Navy named a new destroyer after him: the USS O’Hare (DD-889).  The city of Chicago went a step further.  To honor their hometown hero, in 1949 its citizens named their new airport after him: O’Hare International.
In the end, “Easy Eddie” O’Hare, Al Capone’s top lawyer, had found a way to transform his life from one of success – tainted though it was by the crimes he abetted – to a life of significance.  He gave the world a principled son, Edward “Butch” O’Hare, who redeemed the family name.
           “The key to realizing a dream is to focus, not on success but significance – and then even the small steps and little victories along your path will take on greater meaning."                                        Oprah Winfrey

Saturday, August 10, 2013

Sometimes Quitting is Good: Excerpts from "Winners Always Quit"

The following are excerpts from the book "Winners Always Quit: Seven Pretty Good Habits You Can Swap for Really Great Results" by Lee J. Colan and David Cottrell

Sometimes Quitting is Good.

Most of our actions are built in behaviors, instilled by natural inclination and the weight of experience. Patterned behavior helps us function.  Not having to plan our every move, every second of every day, is an enormous time saver.

But there are exceptions.  We all have behaviors that are detrimental.  Many are trivial, like turning on the TV even when we know there's nothing on worth watching.  Others are dangerous, like smoking or speeding.

Our natural tendency is to avoid change unless it's absolutely necessary.  Just keep doing the same thing and everything will work out.  Change is like rain; we all know it's good for us, but we don't like to get wet.

Patient: It hurts when I do this.
Doctor: Then quit doing that.

Quitting is required for success when, in order to do the right thing, you have to quit doing the wrong thing.

Things change!  We have to constantly reconsider whether we're adding value to our lives or just clutter. If something is draining our energy, can we do without it?  Does a crammed schedule help us achieve our goals?  Maybe it's time to quit doing some things and instead do other things that help us go where we want to go.

Priorities shift!  Our personal and professional situations demand that we make changes. Sometimes on a moment's notice a budget gets cut, a former pet project is put on the back burner, a spouse gets transferred.

Timing is everything!  There's a time to persevere and a time to quit. What are you doing now?  What do you need to be doing now?  What do you need to quit doing now in order to be doing what you need to be doing now?

Quit Taking a Ride . . . and Take the Wheel

        "Be the change you want to see in the world." - Mahatma Gandhi

On any of life's journeys, we have to make a choice before we begin the trip.  Our options are these: we can be a passenger, or we can be the driver.  It's our choice.

It's not what happens to us but how we choose to respond to what happens that determines our next move. If you choose to be a driver, you avoid potholes and stray ice chests in the road.  You decide when to stop and refuel.  You may choose to take a detour.  You make all the decisions that affect the safety of your passengers and your success in reaching the goal.

When problems arise, what's your first reaction?  Do you think like a cop, identifying culprits and assigning blame?  Do you vent your anger on  anyone within your yelling radius?  Do you submerge yourself in regret, thinking, If only?  Or do you immediately get creative and think, How can we make this right?

The more you focus on the positive side of life, the more you will attract these things.  The truth is that being lucky doesn't have much to do with luck at all.  In other words, luck is 90 percent preparation and 10 percent opportunity.

Quit Getting Comfortable . . . and Explore the Edge

We are all averse to change to some degree.  If we changed, we might realize some benefit, but typically we weigh the chance of improvement against our comfort with the old ways and find it wanting.

In order to grow in wisdom and spirit, we need to challenge our assumptions now and then.

The comfort zone is where most of life is played.  Consider a football field: 90 percent of the game is played between the 20-yard lines.  That's why they call anything outside that area the "red zone" - it's where the difference in the game is made.  It's okay to feel good and play well inside the comfort zone before you explore the edge and go for the score.

But like the football team that's trapped between the 20-yard lines, we cannot win in the comfort zone. Because the risk is small, so is the reward.  Learning and growth occur when we are uncomfortable.  Think of the defining moments of learning and growth in your life.  Were you hanging out in your comfort zone? No, you were hanging over the edge.

Success naturally makes us comfortable.  How many times have we watched teams take a lead, lose their momentum, then lose the game because instead of playing to win they begin playing not to lose?  They get ahead, then they get nervous about protecting their lead, so they pull back and start playing more cautiously, losing the intensity that earned them the lead.  Before long, their lead evaporates.

        "We cannot become what we need to be by remaining what we are." - Max DePree

We must let go to grow!

Let's Get Uncomfortable.

Recognize that discomfort is not lethal; it can be a sign of growth, a signal that changes are happening, changes that can benefit you in the long run.

Keep your eye on the teams that have a better game.  Learn from them.

Challenge yourself.  Your goals should force changes, require tough decisions, and inspire bold actions.

Change will come; it is inevitable.  We waste energy when we resist change, and in the end we waste the opportunity to control what happens.  Will this change be on our terms?  Will we be ready for it?  Will the inevitable change mean growth and improvement, or only discomfort and danger?

Quit Analyzing... and Follow your Intuition

        "All the problems of the world could be solved easily if men were only willing to think." - Thomas J. Watson, Sr.

        "Think. Then do." - IBM slogan

Think of intuition as a shortcut to higher productivity.  Applying the 80/20 Principle to our thinking can help us make smarter, faster, more intuitive decisions.  Example: 80% of problems are generated by 20% of causes.

Quit Managing Your Time...and Manage Your Attention

        "Only one thing has to change for us to know happiness in our lives: where we focus attention." - Greg Anderson

Sportscaster Charlie Jones interviewed the rowers in the 1996 Atlanta Olympic Games and asked them what they would do in case of rain, strong winds, or breaking an oar.  The response was always the same: "That's outside my boat."  Jones realized that these Olympic athletes had a remarkable focus.  He wrote, "They were interested only in what they could control - and that was what was going on inside their boat."

The Yellow Car Phenomenon:  Let's say, you see a bright yellow car driving by.  You think to yourself, hmm, I don't see one of those very often.  Later that same day, you see two more bright yellow cars.  The next day, you see three more.  Has there been a sudden invasion of bright yellow cars?  No, they've been there all along.  The difference is you've suddenly become aware of them; you have a heightened awareness of yellow cars.

It's the power of personal attention.

Instead of paying attention to every single piece of information in our stimulus-rich world, if we really look for those things we want in our life, that's exactly what we will find.  Need proof?  Just count how many yellow cars you notice today.  Now - how many did you see yesterday?

The Eisenhower Method for setting priorities: Don't be fooled into thinking that whatever seems urgent is worth taking your mind off your most important goal. Eisenhower's mantra was "What's important is seldom urgent, and what's urgent is seldom important."



Quit Showing Interest... and Commit

        "The quality of a person's life is in direct proportion to his commitment to excellence, regardless of his chosen field of endeavor." - Vince Lombardi

        "When I look back on all these worries, I remember the story of the old man who said on his deathbed that he had had a lot of trouble in his life, most of which never happened." - Winston Churchill

We typically worry five times as much about things that will never happen as about things that actually do occur.

        "God grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, the courage to change the things I can, and the wisdom to know the difference." - Reinhold Niebuhr's "Serenity Prayer"

Choosing the language of commitment creates accountability for getting best from yourself and others. Written goals build accountability to yourself and others.

Quit Moving...and Be Still

Did you ever drive a car at night in a thick fog?  If you have, you know that you can see farther down the road if you use your low beams, because your high beams just reflect off the fog and blind you.  But if you use your low beams instead - get away from the problem and let your creative intuition do its work - often the answer emerges and the path to the goal becomes clearer to you.

The way to find the answers is to stop moving for a while and let things settle down.  Be still.  Relax. Be quiet.  Look around.  Listen.

To get into your chillax zone, you don't actually have to go on vacation or head for the spa.  All you've got to do is change the scenery in your mind.

It may seem counterintuitive to put aside your work in order to accomplish something great, but great ideas often come when you're relaxed and out of your work routine.

Winners - whether in business, at home, or in the community - generally spend at least 50 percent of their time listening rather than talking.

Quit Striving for Success . . . and Seek Significance

There's a sweet spot that you sometimes hit that makes everything seem easier.  Want to know an easy way to find your sweet spot?  Answer the following two questions, and think about how your answers intersect:
1. What am I absolutely passionate about?
2. Which tasks are easy and natural for me?

So- quitters always win?
Yes!

All right, maybe quitters don't always win. After all perseverance is also a key to winning.  You've got to keep working until the job is finished.  But the key point is that perseverance counts only if you're doing the right thing.  If you're doing the wrong thing, and you keep on doing the wrong thing, you'll never win.

So you do have to quit.

You don't have to be great to get started, but you do have to get started to be great.

______

See also:
I Quit!

Tuesday, June 18, 2013

Excerpts from "Don't Sweat The Small Stuff" by Richard Carlson, Part 3

This is the final follow-up to excerpts Parts 1 and 2 (see links below) from Richard Carlson's great little book "Don't Sweat the Small Stuff".

Turn your melodrama into a mellow-drama.  I've found that simply reminding myself that life doesn't have to be a soap opera is a powerful method of calming down.

The stubbornness it takes to keep our heart and mind closed to everything other than our own point of view creates a great deal of inner stress.

Be present in what you are doing.

When you feel yourself getting angry, take a long, deep inhalation, and as you do, say the number one to yourself.  Then, relax your entire body as you breathe out.  Repeat the process with the number two, all the way through at least ten.

Practice being and living in the eye of the storm.

Inflexibility creates enormous amount of inner stress and is often irritating and insensitive to other people.

The question to ask yourself is, What's really important?

Clearly, to become a more peaceful person, you must prioritize being flexible over rigidity most of the time (obviously, there will be exceptions).

Happiness can't be found when we are yearning for new desires. 

Rather than wishing you were able to take a vacation to Hawaii, think of how much fun you have had close to home.  Each time you notice yourself falling into the "I wish life were different" trap, back off and start over.  Take a breath and remember all that you have to be grateful for.  When you focus not on what you want, but on what you have, you end up getting more of what you want anyway.  Start thinking more about what you have than what you want.

Practice ignoring negative thoughts.  [Rather than analyzing your thoughts], learning to take your negative thoughts less eriously, is infinitely more effective in terms of learning to be more peaceful. 

That's all it is, a thought!  It can't hurt you without your consent.  You can give the thought significance in your mind, and you'll convince yourself that you should indeed be unhappy.  Or, you can recognize that your mind is about to create a mental snowball, and you can choose to dismiss the thought.

In a more peaceful state of mind, your wisdom and common sense will tell you what to do.

The truth is, there's no better time to be happy than right now.  If not now, when?  Your life will always be filled with challenges.  It's best to admit this to yourself and to decide to be happy anyway.

"For a long time it had seemed to me that life was about to bein - real life.  But there was always some obstacle in the way, somehing to be got through first, some unfinished business, time  still to be served, a debt to be paid.  Then life would begin.  At last it dawned on me that these obstacles were my life." - Alfred D'Souza

There is no way to happiness.  Happiness is the way.

If you are in the habit of being uptight whenever life isn't quite right, repeatedly reacting to criticism by defending yourself, insisting on being right, allowing your thinking to snowball in response to adversity, or acting like life is an emergency, then, unfortunately, your life will be a reflection of this type of practice.  You will be frustrated because, in a sense, you have practiced being frustrated.

You can choose to bring forth in yourself qualities of compassion, patience, kindness, humility, and peace, through what you practice.  If you remember that what you practice you will become, you may begin choosing different types of practice.

"All of humanity's problems stem from man's inability to sit quietly in a room alone." - Pascal

I am certain that a quiet mind is the foundation of inner peace.

The trick to becoming an effective meditator is to be gentle on yourself and to be consistent.  Don't be discouraged.  A few minutes each day will reap tremendous benefits, over time.

Take up yoga.  Although yoga is physical in nature, its benefits are both physical and emotional.  On the physical side, yoga strengthens the muscles and the spine, creating flexibility and ease of motion.  On the emotional side, yoga is a tremendous stress reducer.  It balances the mind-body-spirit connection, giving you a feeling of ease and peace.

When you give, you also receive.  In fact, what you receive is directly proportional to what you give.  As you give more freely of yourself in your own unique ways, you will experience more feelings of peace than you ever thought possible.  Everyone wins, especially you.

Just as vigorous exercise releases endorphins in your brain that make you feel good physically, your acts of loving kindness release the emotional equivalent.

The amount of stress we feel has more to do with how we relate to our problems than it does with he problems themselves.

When we accept our problems as an inevitable part of life, when we look at them as potential teachers, it's as if a weight has been lifted off our shoulders.

Whatever problems you're dealing with, chances are they could be thought of in a softer way that includes a genuine desire to learn from them.

If we keep our cool and stay open to possibilities, we can be reasonably certain that, eventually, all will be well.

When you open to the totality of your being you no longer have to pretend that your life is perfect, or even hope that it will be.  Instead you can accept yourself as you are, right now.

When negative characteristics arise you can begin to recognize them as part of a bigger picture.

There will be many times when you lose it, when you revert to being uptight, frustrated, stressed, and reactive - get used to it. When you do, it's okay.  Life is a process - just one thing after another.  When you lose it, just start again.

In terms of personal happiness, you cannot be peaceful while at the same time blaming others.  Surely there are times when other people and/or circumstances contribute to our problems, but it is we who must rise to the occasion and take responsibility for our own happiness.

When you're unhappy, remind yourself that only you can make yourself happy.

Blaming makes you feel powerless over your own life because your happiness is contigent on the actions and behaviors of others, whiich you can't control.  When you stop blaming others, you will regain your sense of personal power.  You will see yourself as a choice maker.

A little less sleep and a little more time for you might be just what you need to combat your sense of fatigue.  The fulfillment you experience more than makes up for any sleep you miss out on.

You have to want to change, to become more easygoing.  You have to see that your own uptightness islargely of your own creation - composed of the way you have set up your life and the way you react to it.

One of the goals of spiritual life and one of the requirements of inner peace is to learn to love unconditionally.  Love has such transformational power.  Unconditional love brings forth peaceful feelings in both the giver and the receiver.

Practice not needing them to change or be different to receive your love.  Love them just the way they are.

True happiness comes not when we get rid of all our problems, but when we change our relationship to them, when we see our problems as a potential source of awakening, opportunities to practice patience, and to learn.  Perhaps the most basic principle of spiritual life is that our problems are the best places to practice keeping our hearts open.

"Grant that I may be given appropriate difficulties and suffereings on this journey so that my heart may be truly awakened and my practice of liberation and universal compassion may be truly fulfilled." - Tibetan prayer

If you spend less time running away from problems and trying to rid yourself of them - and more time accepting problems as an inevitable, natural, even important part of life - you will soon discover that life can be more of a dance and less of a battle.

If being peaceful and loving are among your primary goals, then why not redefine your most meaningful accomplishments as being those that support and measure qualities such as kindness and happiness?The true measure of our success comes not from what we do, but from who we are and how much love we have in our hearts.

Contrary to popular belief, negative feelings don't need to be studied and analyzed.  When you analyze your negative feelings, you'll usually end up with more of them to contend with.

Try to recognize that the reason you're feeling sad, angry, stressed, or whatever is that you are taking life too seriously - you are "sweating the small stuff".

Developing a more tranquil outlook on life requires that we know our own limits and that we take responsibility for our part in the process.

Our disappointment comes about in essentially two ways.  When we're experiencing pleasure we want it to last forever.  It never does.  Or, when we're experiencing pain, we want it to go away - now.  It ususally doesn't.  Unhappiness is the result of struggling against the natural flow of experience.

If you're experiencing some type of pain or displeasure, know that this too shall pass.

The starting point of foundation of a life filled with love is the desire and commitment to be a source of love.  Our attitude, choices, acts of kindness, and willingness to be the first to reach out will take us toward this goal.

As you put more emphasis on being a loving person, which is something you can control - and less emphasis on receiving love, which is something you can't control - you'll find that you have plenty of love in your life.  Soon you'll discover one of the greatest secrets in the world:  Love is its own reward.

Unhappiness is the feeling that accompanies negative thinking about your life. There is nothing to hold your negative feelings in place other than your own thinking.  Remind yourself that it's your thinking that is negative, not your life.

Learning to be satisfied doesn't mean you can't, don't or shouldn't ever want more than you have, only that your happiness isn't contingent on it.

An excellent measure of happiness is the differential between what you have and what you want.  You can spend your lifetime wanting more, always chasing happiness - or you can simply decide to consciously want less.

Be open to "what is".  The greater our surrender to the truth of the moment, the greater will be our peace of mind. When we have preconceived ideas about the way life should be, they interfere with our opportunity to enjoy or learn from the present moment.

We see in life what we want to see.  If you search for ugliness you'll find plenty of it.  If you look for the extraordinary in the ordinary, you can train yourself to see it.

We argue for our limitations, and they become our limitations.

Please don't forget the most basic strategy of all, Don't sweat the small stuff!

______

See also:

Part 2 - Excerpts from "Don't Sweat the Small Stuff".html

Part 1- Excerpts from "Don't Sweat the Small Stuff".html

Monday, June 3, 2013

Time Is A Gift

Near the end of his life, one father looked back on how he had spent his time on earth. An acclaimed, respected author of numerous scholarly works, he said, ‘I wish I had written one less book and taken my children fishing more often.’ Time passes quickly. Many parents say that it seems like yesterday that their children were born. Now those children are grown, perhaps with children of their own. ‘Where did the years go?’ they ask.

We cannot call back time that is past, we cannot stop time that now is, and we cannot experience the future in our present state. Time is a gift, a treasure not to be put aside for the future but to be used wisely in the present.

- Thomas S. Monson

See also:
Time Quotes.html

One Ship Sails East, a Journal for Positive Thinking

Yesterday while rummaging through some boxes in the basement I found this booklet that I created over 10 years ago.  Since I do not have an electronic copy of it otherwise, I have scanned and uploaded it here. 

This booklet "One Ship Sails East", starts with my favorite poem and mantra for life "One Ship Sails East", by Ella Wheeler Wilcox (although the author was unknown to me at the time I compiled this).  It is a compilation of some of my favorite positive thinking quotes, which can be considered a pre-cursor to this blog.

None of the pictures were taken by me, though I have either been to or have wished to be in a lot of these places.  All of the quotes herein can also be found on this blog, with many others, listed in categories by alphabetical order, on blog posts in my archives for 2008-2009.  The poem was also posted earlier on this blog at One Ship Sails East.html





























Monday, May 20, 2013

Desires Determine Progress - Excerpts from the conference talk "Desire" by Elder Dallin H. Oaks

Desires dictate our priorities, priorities shape our choices, and choices determine our actions. The desires we act on determine our changing, our achieving, and our becoming.

First I speak of some common desires. As mortal beings we have some basic physical needs. Desires to satisfy these needs compel our choices and determine our actions.  We sometimes override these desires with other desires that we consider more important.

Even the basic desire for sleep can be temporarily overridden by an even more important desire.

In the early months of the Korean War, a Richfield Utah National Guard field artillery battery was called into active service. This battery, commanded by Captain Ray Cox, consisted of about 40 Mormon men. After additional training and reinforcement by reservists from elsewhere, they were sent to Korea, where they experienced some of the fiercest combat of that war. In one battle they had to repel a direct assault by hundreds of enemy infantry, the kind of attack that overran and destroyed other field artillery batteries.

What does this have to do with overcoming the desire for sleep? During one critical night, when enemy infantry had poured through the front lines and into the rear areas occupied by the artillery, the captain had the field telephone lines wired into his tent and ordered his numerous perimeter guards to phone him personally each hour on the hour all night long. This kept the guards awake, but it also meant that Captain Cox had scores of interruptions to his sleep. “How could you do that?” I asked him. His answer shows the power of an overriding desire.

“I knew that if we ever got home, I would be meeting the parents of those boys on the streets in our small town, and I didn’t want to face any of them if their son didn’t make it home because of anything I failed to do as his commander.”

As a conclusion to that illustration, early in the morning following his nearly sleepless night, Captain Cox led his men in a counterattack on the enemy infantry. They took over 800 prisoners and suffered only two wounded. Cox was decorated for bravery, and his battery received a Presidential Unit Citation for its extraordinary heroism.

Readjusting our desires to give highest priority to the things of eternity is not easy. We are all tempted to desire that worldly quartet of property, prominence, pride, and power. We might desire these, but we should not fix them as our highest priorities.

How do we develop desires?

Few will have the kind of crisis that motivated Aron Ralston, but his experience provides a valuable lesson about developing desires. While Ralston was hiking in a remote canyon in southern Utah, an 800-pound rock shifted suddenly and trapped his right arm. For five lonely days he struggled to free himself.

When he was about to give up and accept death, he had a vision of a three-year-old boy running toward him and being scooped up with his left arm. Understanding this as a vision of his future son and an assurance that he could still live, Ralston summoned the courage and took drastic action to save his life before his strength ran out. He broke the two bones in his trapped right arm and then used the knife in his multitool to cut off that arm. He then summoned the strength to hike five miles for help.

What an example of the power of an overwhelming desire! When we have a vision of what we can become, our desire and our power to act increase enormously.

Most of us will never face such an extreme crisis, but all of us face potential traps that will prevent progress toward our eternal destiny. If our righteous desires are sufficiently intense, they will motivate us to cut and carve ourselves free from addictions and other sinful pressures and priorities that prevent our eternal progress.

We should remember that righteous desires cannot be superficial, impulsive, or temporary. They must be heartfelt, unwavering, and permanent.

“Therefore, what we insistently desire, over time, is what we will eventually become and what we will receive in eternity.” - Elder Neal A. Maxwell

Let us remember that desires dictate our priorities, priorities shape our choices, and choices determine our actions. In addition, it is our actions and our desires that cause us to become something, whether a true friend, a gifted teacher, or one who has qualified for eternal life.

See also:
Full text of Dallin H. Oaks talk "Desire", April 2011

Saturday, May 11, 2013

Change Your Thoughts - Change Your Life, Dr. Wayne W. Dyer: Excerpts

Here's just a few excerpts about living calmly and living virtuously, from Dr. Wayne Dyer's book that interprets the ancient text of the Tao Te Ching, by Lao-tzu:

26th Verse of the Tao:

The heavy is the root of the light.
The still is the master of unrest.

Realizing this,
the successfukl person is
poised and centered
in the midst of all activities;
although surrounded by opulence,
he is not swayed.

Why should the lord of the country
flit about like a fool?
If you let yourself be blown to and fro,
you lose touch with your root.
To be restless is to lose one's self-mastery.

Living Calmly:

You're being advised to maintain a sense of serenity regardless of what you may see taking place around you.  The ability to stay calm is always located within.  From this perspective, there's no need to assign responsibility to others for how you feel.

Circumstances don't determine your state of mind, for that power rests with you.  When you maintain a peaceful inner posture, even in the midst of chaos, you change your life.

Do you want to be in a state of confusion or to have a tranquil inner landscape?  It's up to you!

Assigning blame for your lack of calmness will never bring you to the state of being that you're striving to attain.  Self-mastery only blossoms when you practice being aware of, and responsible for, what you're feeling.

What could be better than the freedom of going through life without feeling that people and circumstances control you without your permission?

If you believe that a changing economic picture or tapestry of events taking place around you is responsible - and you then use these external factors to explain your inner state of mind - you've lost touch with your root. Why? Because you're allowing yourself to be "blown to and fro" by the shifting winds of circumstance.

The solution for a life of unrest is choosing stillness.

Vow to seek a calm inner response to the circumstances of your life.

In the midst of any unrest - be it an argument, a traffic jam, a monetary crisis, or anything at all - make the immediate decision that you will find the calm center of yourself.

Affirm the following often: I have the ability to stay poised and centered, regardless of what goes before me. Then vow to put this new way of being into practice the next time a situation of unrest crops up.

Living Virtuously:

The advice Lao-tsu gives on this topic in the 28th verse are contained in four distinct images:

1. "Be a valley under heaven" is number one.  Let the river of life flow through you.  As a valley beneath heaven, you're a fertile place of grace where everything is received and allowed.   Be ready to embrace and tend the seeds that blow your way.

Get down to the eye level of a small child. Looking up, see if "original qualities" are more visible.

Instead of striving to see yourself as superior to others, perhaps choose the self image of a valley.  From this grounded, fertile, and receptive position, be willing to hear and receive.  Listen intently when you're inclined to offer advice.

2. "Be the pattern of the world" is the second image that invites you to live virtuously.  See nature unspoiled by culture, as in the perfection of the uncarved block of wood.  So rather than insisting on changing or resisting, you're encouraged to row your boat, and your life, gently down the stream.

Dismiss ego, which you've created, and allow yourself to be in the world by changing how you look at the world.

3. "Act in accordance with eternal power" is the third image for living virtuously.  Just contemplate for a moment the idea of a fountain...it is always there, and endless geyser gushing forth the abundant life of virtue.

Picture yourself pouring forth, not from your ideas of self-importance and your need for external power over others, but from a ceaseless Source of good and virtue that's in harmony with your infinite nature.  Change the image of yourself to a being who's in accord with eternal power, and the virtuous life you want to see will be visible.

4. "Preserve your original qualities" is the fourth image of living virtuously.  Your original qualities are those that were you before there was a you!

The original qualities Lao-tzu speaks of are the love, kindness, and beauty that defined your essence before you were formed into a particle and then a human being.  In other words, living virtuously has nothing to do with obeying laws, being a good citizen, or fulfilling some externally inspired idea of who you're meant to become.

______

For more quotes by Lao-tsu, see:

Ancient Chinese Wisdom: Quotes by Lao-tsu

See also I Can See Clearly Now

Monday, April 29, 2013

You Can Buy Happiness, But Not With Money

An investment in gratitude pays valuable dividends, especially when times are tough.
By Jeffrey Rossman, PhD, Rodale.com

Many people today are struggling to make do with less. What's the secret to finding happiness when you're coping with loss? If we observe people who know how to be happy, we find that they make a point of being grateful for whatever they have. And it's not related to how much material wealth you may or may not possess. A growing body of research has demonstrated that grateful people are happier than their less-grateful counterparts, regardless of their income level.

THE DETAILS: Gratitude has also been found to be a powerful antidote to depression. Martin Seligman, PhD, a pioneer in the positive psychology movement, and colleagues at University of Pennsylvania delivered gratitude instructions to 50 severely depressed visitors to a self-help website. They recommended that individuals take time each day to write down three things that went well that day, and why they thought so. Fifteen days later, 94 percent of the 50 individuals reported feeling significantly less depressed. Their scores on a widely used depression inventory dropped by 50 percent -- equivalent to improvement seen with medication treatment or psychotherapy, although the latter interventions generally take longer to work. Individuals in a placebo-controlled group who wrote down three childhood memories each day did not experience an improvement in their depressive symptoms. More important, the effects for the group practicing gratitude lasted for a full 6 months. The researchers repeated the same study several months later with a different group of depressed Web users and obtained substantially the same results. Seligman's group also found that writing in a gratitude journal had a mood-boosting effect for depressed patients in a 12-week therapy group, as well as for patients in individual therapy.

WHAT IT MEANS: Cultivating gratitude is a powerful way to overcome adversity and depression. By choosing to focus on your blessings, rather than ruminating on your disappointments and deficits, you nourish positive feelings about yourself, your life, and others. As an ongoing attitude, gratitude will help you cultivate happiness throughout your life. It is no accident that the individuals in Seligman's study maintained their gains long after they completed the online intervention. Gratitude is habit-forming. The number of things you can be grateful for is infinite. As a happiness resource, gratitude is free and inexhaustible.

There are many ways you can weave gratitude into the fabric of your life:
•Keep a gratitude journal. At the end of each day, write down three things you experienced that you feel grateful for. They could be as varied as the buds appearing on the trees in your yard and appreciation for the kindness extended to you by a stranger. As you chronicle the things you feel grateful for, make a point of not repeating any of the prior entries in your journal.

•Write and deliver a gratitude letter to someone in your life whom you have not properly thanked for what they have given to you. You can deliver the letter in person or read it over the telephone. It's a powerful experience, for you as well as for the person you're thanking.

•Say grace before each meal to express your thanks for the food you are about to eat.

Use whatever language you're comfortable with, whether religious, spiritual, or just an informal expression of gratitude for the meal.

•Make a point of thanking anyone who serves you in any way -- the cashier at the checkout counter, your child for clearing the dinner table, the tech-support person who helped you fix your computer.

•Take gratitude breaks during the course of each day to simply appreciate the myriad blessings, large and small, that are present in your life.

Jeffrey Rossman, PhD, is a Rodale.com advisor and director of life management at Canyon Ranch in Lenox, MA. His column, "Mind-Body-Mood Advisor," appears weekly on Rodale.com.

See also:
Pharrell William's "Happy"
The Science of Happiness