Monday, August 31, 2015


The fifth element, or habit, of mindfulness is Non-Striving.  Non-Striving is described as “the state of not doing anything, just simply accepting the things that are happening in the moment just as they are supposed to”.  This is a very tough challenge for many people in our American culture.  We pride ourselves on being busy, productive, driven, and goal oriented people.  In addition to this many of us are also control freaks who want to alter the outcomes of as much as possible to suit our own agendas and needs.  The idea of non-striving and allowing life to unfold as it sees fit is almost abhorrent to us.  We spend a great deal of energy holding on when the best move might be to simply let go.  Many of us are wound a little tight because of the tension within ourselves that is caused by our driven, competitive, and controlling natures.  Keep in mind, however, that Non-Striving is not the same as being lazy or not caring.  I think Non-Striving is like white water rafting.  You don’t necessarily allow yourself to be tossed to and fro by the rapids of life.  You learn to be one with the running water.  Some of the time you just flow with it.  Other times you use your paddle to make the occasional course change to avoid crashing into a rock.  If you fight the river or attempt to change the course of the river you will eventually crash and sink your boat.  Those with skill learn to flow with the river and tap into its energy.      

Saturday, August 29, 2015


The 4th element, or habit, of mindfulness is trust.  In this scenario trust is defined as “having trust in yourself, your intuition, and your abilities”.  So far we have talked about non-judging, being patience, and having a beginner’s mind.  When we are in the moment and present to our reality, not only do we have to be non-judging, patient, and childlike in our curiosity and openness, we also have to trust that the moment is as perfect as it can be.  Keep in mind that trusting that the moment is as perfect as it can be does not mean that the moment is perfect.  Rarely in our life is the moment perfect.  Many of our moments are imperfect and during those times we often must rely on ourselves, our intuition, and our abilities to deal with life’s challenges.  By having trust we believe in ourselves and our capacity to meet life’s challenges.  This is also a reminder that mindfulness is not living in oblivion and mindless bliss.  Mindfulness is being present to reality.  Certainly there are those blissful moments when all is well and life is beautiful.  However, there are also those moments where life is painful and challenging.  While we all want to experience the joy filled moments, we must be present to our more painful realities as well.  As someone once told me, “if you want to experience life’s rainbows, you must also be willing to experience a few storms”.      

Thursday, August 27, 2015

Beginner's Mind

The third element, or habit, of the mindfulness attitude is “Beginner’s Mind”.  What is beginner’s mind?  It is “having the willingness to observe the world as if it were your first time doing so.  This creates an openness that is essential to being mindful”.
Most adults have a difficult time having a “Beginner’s Mind”.  As we get older our minds become so filled, mostly with junk, that being open enough to have the curiosity of a child is very challenging.  When it comes to “Beginner’s Mind”, my greatest teacher is my granddaughter.  I spend time with her most weekends and during this time she teachers me to see life like an eleven year old.  People with “Beginner’s Mind” tend to see life, not only with curiosity, but with simplicity.  When one sees life directly, and with the simplicity of a curious child, one is usually very present to the reality of the moment.  Life is not usually seen as complicated to a child.  It just is.  I remember once asking my granddaughter if she was happy.  At first she seemed confused by the question.  She looked at me as though she was wondering why I would ask such a silly question.  Her eyes said, “Paw Paw, isn’t being happy the normal way of being”?  Only someone with a “Beginner’s Mind” would think being happy is the normal way to be.  My granddaughter’s mind is open and fresh and her vision is pure.  She is full of curiosity and can be present to the moment in a way I can only hope to be.  Unfortunately she will likely grow up to be like the rest of us and she will lose this now effortless ability to be present.  At some point she will have to work to regain it just like her Paw Paw is doing now.   


Yesterday I began some thoughts on “The 7 Habits of Highly Mindful People”.  We continue this theme today.
The second element or habit of the mindful person is patience.  Patience is “cultivating the understanding that things must develop in their own time”.  Patience is a trait that usually comes easy for me.  Of course, what I call patience is sometimes seem by others as me being non-assertive.  Admittedly, one of my coping strategies in life is simply waiting things out.  Despite how I am sometimes seen by others, and acknowledging that I do sometimes act in dysfunctional ways, patience is a gift that I believe I have been given to me as part of my personality.  We live in an impatient world where everyone seems to be in a hurry and many people want everything yesterday.  I remember a joke from my days in project management.  It was said that it takes one woman nine months to give birth to a baby.  You cannot give birth to a baby in one month by using nine women.  In other words, “things must develop in their own time”.  Certainly there are situations in life that require a sense of urgency.  Things sometimes happen that require us to kick it up a notch.  However, not everything in life can be done quickly nor should they be.  You can open a can of soup and pop it in the micro wave for a quick and usually unsatisfying lunch.  You can also slow cook a variety of ingredients in your crock pot and have a culinary delight for dinner.  You can pressure cook your life or let it unfold naturally.  As I have said before, in a world of pressure cookers, I am a crock pot.  In the end, patience gains all things.  Move quickly when life demands it but if you are running and pushing all the time, it will catch up to you and you will regret it.     

Wednesday, August 26, 2015


I discovered something called the “7 Elements of the Mindfulness Attitude”.  I think it could also be called “The 7 Habits of Highly Mindful People”.
The first element, or habit, is “Non-Judging”.
Taking the role of an impartial observer to whatever your current experience is.  This means not making a positive or negative evaluation of what is happening, just simply observing it.
It is so difficult to not judge.  I once heard someone say “Don’t believe anything you hear and only half of what you see”.  In other words, almost nothing is what it seems.  Most of our opinions are based on perceptions and perceptions are often seen as truth in the eye of the perceiver.  How does one be truly objective and non-partial?  How can we remove the filters from our own eyes?  I haven’t achieved this yet.  Certainly the times I have become aware of my own misjudgments have been learning experiences for me.  I would also say the times I have been misjudged have also been learning experiences.  In my own journey of self-awareness I have become a little better at stepping outside of myself and observing my own behavior.  Even when I do this it is still difficult to not judge myself.  I am a very feeling type person with strong emotions.  It is difficult for me to remove my feelings from most situations.  Sometimes it helps to say to myself, “You’re having an emotional response.  What is really happening now”?  My experience is that it is not easy to be impartial and it is very challenging to simply observe what is going on around me.  I guess the only real progress I have made is being more aware of my own emotions and how they can sometimes misrepresent reality.    

Non-Dualistic Thinking

Most people see things as either/or.  Things or people are seen as good or bad, right or wrong, black or white, liberal or conservative, successful or unsuccessful, attractive or unattractive, and on and on.  People tend to walk around and consciously or unconsciously make judgments.  We all do this.  This type of thinking is called dualistic thinking.  Imagine a day where you don’t do this.  Imagine a day where you don’t see life as either/or but rather both/and.  This type of thinking is called non-dualistic thinking.  It is non-judgmental.  I also like to think of it as walking the middle path.  When one walks the middle path, and ceases to judge everything as good or bad, you experience a oneness with life rather than a separation from parts of it.  There’s a common phrase that simplifies this.  I’m sure you’ve heard people say “It is what it is”.  It’s a phrase I tend to overuse but I like it.  I admit that it is sometimes challenging for me to make a decision because I can usually see both sides of an issue.  Because of my desire to walk the middle path and to be a non-dualistic thinker, I try to find an answer in the middle of conflicting opinions.  This seems to be a lost art in modern day politics.  No one seems willing to compromise and meet in the middle.  Always seeing everything as either/or, and never being willing to compromise and meet in the middle, gets us nothing but gridlock and standoffs.  When everyone is holding their ground you can never move ahead.         

Saturday, August 22, 2015

What? Me Worry?

“Worrying is like praying for what you don’t want”.
I seldom worry.  My life experience has been that most things work out as they should so why waste energy worrying?  My lack of worrying doesn’t mean I don’t have concerns.  I just see most concerns and obstacles as an inconvenience and not a crisis.  I have also learned that most worries are in our head and not based on reality.   As Mark Twain once said, “I have been through many terrible things in my life.  Some of which actually happened”.  My experience of people is that many of them worry ceaselessly.  I wonder why some seem to worry more than others.  My observation is that women tend to worry more than men.  Maybe I don’t worry because my spouse worries twenty four hours a day.  According to one personality type theory that I have found to be very true, all the basic personality types fall into one of three subtypes, i.e., gut types, heart types, and head types.  I am a gut type.  I tend to react to life quickly and from my gut.  Typically I over-react.  Of course, I prefer to think of this as being passionate.  Later, I think myself into being reasonable.  Heart types are always wondering how they appear to others and what others think.  They often base their actions on how others will react.  The third group is head types.  This type of person lives “in their head”.  Head type personalities are fear based personalities.  When you think about this you realize that fear is in the head.  Most of what we fear in our heads never actually happens in reality.  The largest percentage of the general population falls into this category.  This is why it appears that so many people are “worry warts”.  

Friday, August 21, 2015

If You Can't Love Everyone, At Least Don't Hurt Anyone

If you can’t love everyone, at least don’t hurt them.
-The Dalai Lama
I am often aware of the struggles going on in other people’s personal lives.  Occasionally there are struggles within my own life.  Sometimes our struggles are just the challenges of daily life.  Other times they are significant and may even be life and death scenarios.  I think we often forget about the troubles of other people.  We rub shoulders day after day.  Many times we are judgmental towards those around us.  Other times we may walk around like we are the only people in the world with a problem or a difficult life.  Today I would like to remind everyone that all of us have crosses to bear.  All of us have challenges, disappointments, losses, and broken hearts.  What’s the point of saying this?  Well, the point is to remind everyone here to cut everyone else some slack.  Be patient and understanding with one another.  Most of us are doing the best we can.  Be kind.  Be compassionate.  Be forgiving.  Tolerate one another’s weaknesses.  Yes, I know I am ripping off some of this from St. Paul.  Do whatever you can to make another person’s life a little easier.  God knows the world doesn’t give most people a break.  Remove the stones from one another’s paths and definitely don’t add more.  Lighten up, chill out, and put things into proper perspective.  Get over your ego.  Don’t get hung up in the BS of life.  Focus on what is truly important.  What is important?  I don’t want to sound like a Hallmark card but after 64+ years of living I think it boils down to love and caring for those in your life.  This doesn’t just mean family or friends.  It means the people you work with too.  I have never regretted caring too much.  However, let me add one caveat.  I don’t mean allowing other people use you as a doormat.  Sometimes caring can mean practicing tough love.  Most parents have this experience sooner or later.  I’m talking about the kind of caring that anyone can practice with anyone else whether you know them or not.  Life is tough and is often a struggle.  Do good whenever you can.  Be kind.  Treat other people the way you want to be treated.  Over tip the tired waitress at the Waffle House.  If you’re strong be grateful and help the weak.  If you’re weak, do the best you can.  If you’re gifted be grateful and help those less gifted.  If you’re not gifted, do the best you can.  Whoever you are, just be nice. 

Thursday, August 20, 2015

A Spirituality Of Subtraction

I have occasionally mentioned something called the “Spirituality of Subtraction”.  I first learned of this through the teaching of Father Richard Rohr.  This is an idea that is difficult for the young.  It should be.  When one is young it is a time to build up and to accumulate.  You acquire an education.  You begin a career and perhaps start a family.  You buy a house and fill it with stuff.  Youth is a time of building and gathering.  This is the point of the first half of life.  More often than not, when we are doing all this building and gathering, we are also creating the illusion of who we think we are.  This illusion is what some people call the “false self”.  The second half of life is very different.  One begins to tear down and let go.  Sometimes, despite whatever education you have acquired, you may feel like you don’t know anything at all, but, hopefully, your knowledge has turned into wisdom.   When you were young and thought that you were smart and knew everything, that was an illusion of your false self.  The career that you spent your entire life acquiring may be slipping away.  You may be losing interest in it or it may be losing interest in you.  If you’re lucky you have some good relationships with people you love and who love you in return.  As you are growing older your children are growing up.  They leave your nest and continue their own journey of life.  The changes you are going through will also happen to them eventually.  At some point you will realize that you no longer need that four bedroom home and the mini-van in the driveway.  Your priorities change.  When you begin to de-construct and let go, many of your illusions are exposed and your “true self” begins to emerge.  Most of you who are young will read this and think “What is he talking about”?  Those of you past 50 probably understand me.  None of this is good or bad.  It is a natural process that we will all participate in with different degrees of satisfaction and pain.  

Living Your Way Into A New Way Of Thinking

One of my former teachers once said, “We don’t think ourselves into a new way of living, we live ourselves into a new way of thinking”.  The great teacher, Buddha, said, “Believe what you experience”.  It’s been my experience of life that we often start with an answer and then we build a question.  We want things a certain way so then we try to manipulate reality to match our desires.  Such manipulation may get us what we want but the side effects can be damaging.  Rarely do we just let life unfold.  The fact that it’s done that for millions of years doesn’t seem to deter us in our desire to be in control.  Most of us try to live according to whatever belief systems we have chosen to embrace.  How would life be different if we believed according to what we have experienced?  This is a door that can swing both ways.  If you’ve never experienced love, it’s difficult to believe in it.  On the other hand, if all you’ve known is abuse and hatred, the idea of love can give you hope and lift you by your bootstraps to break the cycle of despair.  As always, for me it’s about balance.  We need something to believe it.  However, if we’ve never had the experience to support and strength our beliefs, they will eventually fall by the wayside.  Belief must be balanced with the experience of what we believe.      

Wednesday, August 19, 2015


“To hear complaints is wearisome alike to the wretched and the happy”.
-Samuel Johnson
I really try not to complain although I sometimes do.  My basic approach to life is one of gratitude because I know I have been blessed in many ways.  When I do complain it is usually because I think something is stupid, a waste of time, or has no value that is apparent to me.  When I do complain I sometimes become obsessed with whatever I am complaining about.  I know that it sometimes starts to annoy other people and most of the time wears me out too.  It’s so much better to be happy and content.  Everything in life doesn’t have to be perfect in order to be happy.  However, to be happy one needs to spend some time counting your blessings.  Too often we focus on what’s missing in life and we don’t spend enough time acknowledging the good in our life.  When I avoid the negative it is relatively easy for me to be happy.  Generally, it doesn’t take much to make me happy and I am usually content with whatever is available.  Although I sometimes think I am a complex person, my basic needs are rather simple.  I like nice things I don’t think of myself as a materialistic person.  Happiness is found direct proportion to our gratitude.  When we are happy and content with life we don’t usually complain and the less I complain the less I exhaust myself and others.    

Sunday, August 16, 2015

Zen Things

Zen Things
  1. Do one thing at a time.
  2. Do it slowly and deliberately.
  3. Do it completely.
  4. Do less.
  5. Put space between things.
  6. Develop rituals.
  7. Designate time for certain things.
  8. Devote time to sitting.
  9. Smile and serve others.
  10. Make cleaning and cooking become meditation.
  11. Think about what is necessary.
  12. Live simply.
  I did not write or create this list but I wanted to share it with others.  

Thursday, August 13, 2015

Servant Leadership

The Merton Institute for Contemplative Living once studied the idea of leadership in the writings of Thomas Merton.  While Merton did not specifically address the issue of leadership, his writings prompted the following questions:
  • How is the inner life of a leader integral to leadership style?
  • How are core personality traits reflected in the way a person leads?
The Institute identified the following six key characteristics of a leader.
  1. Compassion
  2. Courage
  3. Humility
  4. Relational
  5. Clarity of Vision/Intuition
  6. Openness to Change
In my opinion, these characteristics support what many refer to as “Servant Leadership”.  True leadership is a life of service.  In our society, especially in politics, leaders more often than not seek their own self-interests and the promotion of their personal values rather than serve the needs of the people they represent.  In history, the greatest leaders have been servants not dictators.  Leaders should be compassionate, they should be courageous, they should be humble, they should be people oriented, they should be visionary, they should intuitively know what is the right thing to do, and they should be open to the change that supports what is right.   

Wednesday, August 12, 2015

It Is What It Is

Here are some good quotes that I would like to share with you.
“Somebody’s boring me.  I think it’s me”.
-Dylan Thomas
“The problem is not that there are problems.  The problem is expecting otherwise and thinking that having problems is a problem”.
-Unknown but sent to me by a fellow thinker.
I’m not going to pretend that I don’t think I have some good qualities.  If you could separate the world into good guys and bad guys, I know I am one of the good guys.  I think I am at an age and a time in my life when I am starting to experience some self-actualization.  In other words, I have a sense of self, what I am worth, and why I am here.  Having said this, sometimes I drive myself crazy.  I tend to be a thinker who spends a lot of time in philosophical discourse with myself while trying to develop a personal theology and understanding of the meaning of life…well, at least my life.  Sometimes I wear myself out doing this and, as Dylan Thomas suggests, I bore myself with myself.  Sometimes I wish I could just relax, chill out, and not feel the need to understand the universe. 
As far as the second quote goes, why are we always surprised when life is problematic?  Who told us that all of life is a walk in the park on a beautiful spring morning?  OK, sometimes life is a walk in the park on a beautiful spring morning.  However, it is also at times a walk under overcast skies in the pouring rain.  This is where most of us fall into the dualistic thinking where we assume a sunny day is better than a rainy day.  Both are simply weather.  Some people think problems are stumbling blocks while others see problems as challenges.  Try not to see anything as a problem.  It’s an over-used phrase but life, and what happens in life, “is what it is”.  There are changes in the weather and there are seasons in life.  However, it’s all life.      

Tuesday, August 11, 2015

Finding Yourself

In the last analysis, the individual person is responsible for living his or her life and for ‘finding themselves’.  If they persist in shifting their responsibility to someone else, they fail to find out the meaning of their own existence.
-Thomas Merton
Living your own life is not as easy as it sounds and finding yourself can be like looking for buried treasure.  It involves walking down quite a few false trails, digging a lot of holes, and moving tons of dirt.  I have been walking, digging, and moving quite a bit of dirt for a very long time now and I’m a little weary.  However, this is a task that only I can do for myself.  I cannot outsource it.  No one else can walk my path, dig my holes, or move my dirt.  For as long as there’s been people, individuals have wondered “what is life and what does it mean”?  Last year I  watched a television show Cosmos.  It is the story of the universe from a scientific point of view.  I can’t decide if I am  blown away by the magnificence of the galaxies, the star systems, the complexity of outer space and beyond, or if I now feel totally insignificant in the great scheme of life.  When the world as we know it has taken billions of years to form, does it really matter if I came to work today?  In cosmic time am I just a miniscule, sub-atomic particle in the continued evolution of all that life is?  Do I really matter?  On a similar vein, a few months ago a friend shared his thoughts that within a few generations most of us will be completely forgotten, even by our descendants.  We are all star dust and to dust we shall return.  What do we do in our current configuration?  How do we find ourselves and the meaning of our current existence?  Let me quickly admit that I don’t really know or I would have already done it.  I don’t know if my life matters or not.  What I do know is that I am a consciousness aware of itself.  As a living being with a consciousness, I am motivated to move and grow and expand myself.  My senses take in data and react appropriately or at least as programmed.  Like a machine that evolves into artificial intelligence, I evolve into whatever I become.  Along the way I rub shoulders with other beings, I form relationships, I experience happiness, and, if lucky, I feel loved and worthwhile to everyone and everything around me.  I become one with my world.  No one else can do any of this for me although they may walk a similar path and be going in the same direction.  Ultimately we are all on our own although life may give us companions on the journey.        

Monday, August 10, 2015

When You've Lost Your Zest For Living

“Acedia” is a monastic term that describes a kind of boredom with your life.  We all have things we dread, procrastinate about, or simply do not want to do.  Acedia is more than that.  It is the sense that everything is a chore, everything is exhausting, everything is meaningless.  Whenever I feel like this, and it seems to happen more and more frequently, I have that “I’m over it” feeling.  As my wife often says, “I’m tired and I’m tired of it”.  I know I am feeling this way when I have a sense of fatigue that goes far beyond a lack of sleep.  It is a mental, psychological, and spiritual weariness.  I think everyone, except for the most extremely positive and optimistic people, sometimes feel like this.  So what does one do about it?   The first step is to simply recognize it.  The second step is to remind yourself that your feelings are like the weather, always changing, and that your feelings are often a poor representation of reality.  I also find it helpful to change my routines as much as I can.  I know I am a creature of habit and routine.  Sometimes I take comfort in that.  However, I also know that my routines can sometimes create a rut that brings on these feelings of acedia.  Sometimes we all need a break from our lives and responsibilities.  Sometimes we need a “me” day.  Sometimes we need a good nap or perhaps a night out with friends.  We all need someone or something to periodically give us a boost or sense of renewal.  We all sometimes need to re-charge our batteries so that life does not overwhelm us or totally drain us of all zest for living.  

Friday, August 07, 2015


I’ve read many books about meditation.  Over the years I have tried to spend time each day just being quiet and still.  Way back in the 70’s I studied Transcendental Meditation.  It was introduced into the United States by a Hindu monk named Maharishi Mahesh Yogi.  Later in the 80’s I learned a Christian version of meditation called “Centering Prayer”.  Both of these types of meditation are very similar in their technique.  They basically involve the use of a mantra or prayer word in coordination with your breath.  They don’t require total silence or isolation but it is important not to be disturbed while you are doing them.  Typically these types of meditation would be done for about 20 minutes twice a day.  The biggest obstacle to meditation is your own mind.  Most of us have over active minds.  We have what the Buddhists call “monkey minds”.  Imagine a tree full of monkeys.  They’re making all kinds of noise and chatter while jumping from limb to limb.  Our minds are often like a tree full of monkey’s.  No one can turn off their mind.  However, certain types of meditation, especially one’s that use a mantra or prayer word, can help us control our thoughts somewhat or at least learn to let them go.  These types of meditation also help us to feel a sense of calm in our bodies.  The mantra or prayer word acts like an anchor.  Our minds could be compared to a busy river where there is lots of activity on the surface.  When we let our thoughts run rampant, it’s like we are on the river.  When we sit still and use a mantra or prayer word, it acts like an anchor that brings us down to the bottom of the river where everything is calm.  When we realize that we are thinking and floating back to the top of the river, our mantra or prayer word can anchor us and bring us back to our inner stillness at the bottom of the river.  When you can live your life with this inner stillness, you are what some would call “a centered person”.      

Live In Each Season As It Passes

“Live in each season as it passes; breathe the air, drink the drink, taste the fruit, and resign yourself to the influences of each”.
-Henry David Thoreau
Recently I have been in a few conversations about people, how they act, their attitudes about life, and how so many of us see the same things so differently.  I quickly get worn out by negative and pessimistic people who always see the worst of everything.  Drama Kings and Queens often have the same effect on me.  These people are chronically unhappy and nothing ever seems to give them joy.  I am an optimist.  I see the glass as not only half full but often overflowing.  A pessimist once told me that an optimist is a person out of touch with reality.  If your reality is always negative, pessimistic, and full of drama, then I hope to always be out of touch with it.  I know that a lot of life is just trying to survive but that doesn’t mean it can’t be enjoyed.  The above quote by Thoreau is a very good definition of Zen.  Living in the season means being one with it.  Whatever the season, it is full of life.  Breathe in life.  Drink life.  Taste it’s fruits.  Let the goodness of life permeate your bones.  Life does change but that is not necessarily good or bad.  Life just is.  Our opinions of life are based on personal judgments which can be terribly skewed.  Thinking that life is always either good or bad is dualistic thinking.  Life is both good and bad.  The Zen way, the contemplative way, is to not judge it but to simply be present to it.  Often, joy happens when we least expect it. 
If you’ve never read Walden Pond by Henry David Thoreau, I highly recommend it.

Thursday, August 06, 2015

Karma & The Law Of Attraction

I believe in karma and something called the “Law of Attraction”.  What do these things mean?  You often hear people say “what goes around, comes around”.  This is the belief that you get what you deserve.  If you put positivity and goodness into the world, that’s what will come back to you.  If you’re a bad person who does bad things and you enjoy making others unhappy or you enjoy wreaking havoc in their lives, you’ll get yours in the end.  This is karma.  The “Law of Attraction” is the belief that what you think about is what happens to you.  If you are always negative and pessimistic, don’t be surprised if nothing ever seems to go your way and that bad things always seem to happen to you.  Negative and pessimistic people also seem to worry about everything all the time.  On the other hand, if you are positive and optimistic, you will find that things usually go your way.  Most of the time I am a positive and optimistic person.  Yes, I am an imperfect human being and sometimes I am tired and grumpy.  In spite of the occasional down day, most things in life go my way.  Although I am not a perfect person, and my life is not perfect, I am very blessed and I have been the recipient of much kindness and many good things in my life.  I try to be grateful for all of it, whether it be my granddaughter’s laughter and smile, my Zen moments where I am one with something bigger than myself, or maybe for something as simple as a really good sandwich.  Let me share a couple of really good quotes that re-enforce what I am saying.  Wayne Dyer, who wrote a book about the Tao, a book based on Chinese philosophy, says, “Change your thinking and change your life”.  Another of my favorite quotes is from Mark Twain who said, “I’ve lived through some really terrible things in my life, some of which actually happened”.  Put nothing but goodness and love into the world, think positively, and be optimistic and hopeful.  I truly believe that if you do these things, your life will change for the better.     

Tuesday, August 04, 2015

Crock Pot In A Pressure Cooker World

I said "Crock" pot, not "Crack" pot...

The older I get the more tolerant I think I am.  This is due in large part to an increased awareness of my own imperfections.  If one is honest about one’s personal weaknesses it is difficult to be judgmental and intolerant of others.  I believe that most people are like me in the sense that they’re doing the best they can.  Work is only one thing in most people’s lives.  People also have family concerns, personal issues, emotional struggles, worries about their health, and perhaps they also struggle on a spiritual and faith level.  On top of all this, there are the chores of everyday life that one must do to simply live.  At age sixty four I simply don’t have the energy that I used to have.  It is difficult to come to work every day like I am playing in the Super Bowl.  To be totally honest, I was never a driven or ambitious dynamo.  In a world of pressure cookers, I have always been more of a crock pot.  We all like to think we’re superstars but the reality is that most of us aren’t.  Most of us are ordinary.  Most of us are “salt of the earth” types who keep the world running even if we aren’t always recognized for our efforts.  Most of us labor in relative obscurity and do so most of our lives.  This does not mean that we are poor performers who have little value.  We’re not just bricks in the wall or part of a mindless herd.  Personally, I don’t need, or even want, to be in the spotlight.  I certainly don’t need to be number one.  I’m happy to be part of a team of people cooperating with one another to achieve a goal, whether it’s within my family at home or my family at work.  When I do this, I sleep well at night and I am at peace.  

Monday, August 03, 2015

Imagine A Mountain

Imagine a mountain.  Every day the mountain experiences some type of weather.  Some days are bright and sunny and beautiful.  Some days are cloudy and overcast.  Occasionally some days are stormy with heavy rain, thunder, and lightening.  Other days the mountain gets buried in snow.  Our moods and feelings are like the weather.  They come and go and change all the time, often on the same day.  People have a tendency to think their moods and feeling are who they are.  We are not our moods and feelings any more than a mountain is the weather it experiences.  The reality is that each of us is the mountain.  Sometimes I am in a bad mood and I can’t come up with a reason for feeling that way.  Some days I am just in a funk.  When I feel like that I try to remind myself about the weather and I try to just wait out my funk, much like I would wait out a storm.  Others days, again for no particular reason, I feel happy, life is beautiful, and I am walking on air.  On days like that I really try to just enjoy the moment and get lost in it.  I don’t wonder why I am happy or if I deserve to be.  I just thank the universe.  One of my favorite jazz bands is called “Weather Report”.  They picked that name because their music, like the weather, is always changing.  However you’re feeling today, just acknowledge it, and let it go.  If today’s a sunny day, enjoy the warmth on your soul.  If it’s a stormy day, just hunker down until it passes.  If it’s overcast, be patient.  The sun will shine again.  

Saturday, August 01, 2015

The Fear Of Not Measuring Up

Once a friend sent me some thoughts about something called the "fear of not measuring up".  In a competitive and obsessively driven society such as ours, we all suffer from this fear to some degree.  There are a million ways for it to manifest itself.  It's the fear that you aren't smart enough or aren't pretty enough or aren't successful enough.  It's the fear of not being able to "keep up with the Joneses", that you don't drive the right kind of car or don't live in the right neighborhood, that you didn't go to the right school or you're not a supermom and on and on and on.  It's the fear of being inadequate.  Let's be honest.  Some people are smarter, more successful, and better looking than the rest of us.  That's called "Life's Not Fair".  However, the rest of us are not doomed.  I think we all have unlimited potential if we have the drive and initiative to take advantage of the opportunities given us.  On the other hand I am someone who believes in the idea of contentment.  I always want to be the best possible version of myself but, quite frankly, sometimes I am just too tired.  I have more stuff than many people but much less than many others.  I can honestly say that I am very content with my standard of living.  I have everything I need to live comfortably and to be happy.  At this point in my life I think more about how I can do with less than with always wanting more.   I'm not a genius but I am far from stupid.  I am happy with who I am and I don't feel inferior to anyone.  I am not perfect but I know I am a good person.  I don't have to beat everyone else in order to feel like I am successful.  It really all boils down to these few questions.  Are you happy?  Is there love in your life?  Are there people and things you care about and other people who care about you?  Are your basic needs being met?  If yes, what more do you want?