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3 minutes | May 6, 2020
Are You A Human Doing Or A Human Being?
“Are we human doings or human beings?” This is a question raised by author, lecturer and spiritual guru, Dr. Deepak Chopra. From the minute we open our eyes each day, we’re on the go—things to do, people to see, places to go. Listening to the news as we shave, putting on make-up while driving to work, eating lunch at a staff meeting, talking on our cell phone at the little league game. Being busy validates our existence. Multi- tasking seems to be the modern-day philosophy. We can’t wait to finish one thing so we can start the next. One day runs into the next, one week runs into another. Before you know it another year has passed. Where does the time go? Don’t get me wrong. I’m in favor of achievement and living life to its fullest potential. But there is more to living than being busy. By becoming aware of your natural state of being, as described in meditation, you can bring that experience into your everyday activities. It is in the being—not just the doing—that you can reveal your true self that hides beneath the doing. You can experience your genius self, your loving self, your appreciating self, your wonderful self who doesn’t always have to take himself so seriously. You may even stop identifying yourself by what you earn, where you live, what you do, and what you have. Part of this “being” idea is to stay in touch with who you are while “doing.” This conscious awareness of who you really are can lend another dimension to everything you do. Instead of being swallowed up by the stresses of life, your sense of being can bring a calming perspective. Instead of feeling overwhelmed, your sense of being can help you maintain balance. Even your enjoyable experiences, such as watching a spectacular sunset or working in the garden can be enhanced. As a human “being,” you can see yourself not as a mundane “do-er” in life but as a pure child of God, here to experience the wonderful connection to our Source.
4 minutes | Apr 29, 2020
It's A Long Life
“It’s a long life.” There are two basic ways of looking at that statement. One, life seems likes it’s getting longer and longer. Technology, nutrition and medical science continue to advance, pushing the average life span further out. It seems like a tough road to make it all the way. Or two, we have plenty of time to embark on as many journeys as it takes to live the life of our dreams. We have many chances to start over, new opportunities to reset our goals and more possibilities to change our legacy. You may believe that you had a lousy childhood. As you become a parent you have the chance to be the parent you thought you should have had. Maybe you feel bad about the way you raised your kids. Now that your children are grown, you can make up for lost time by offering loving support in their choices as adults and when they become parents. Grandparenting is another chance to love unconditionally. Another opportunity to start over is after the kids are grown and out of the house. You can reconnect with your spouse with a new sense of appreciation. If you feel that life is passing you by, then it probably is! You can fret about lost opportunities, chastising yourself for living a life of little consequence. You could live each day going through the motions in a joyless fashion, thinking up excuses for why your life has turned out the way it has, or you can listen to the wake-up call! Jump on board “the passing life” and start living it! Make choices that move you into the direction of a more fulfilling life. You don’t need to wait for a milestone event such as a birth, a marriage, or even a death, to get you thinking about your legacy. Start thinking about it now! Someone once said, “The definition of old age is when regrets take the place of dreams!” Let’s say you’ve reached a ripe old age, now what? Challenges may arise as you lose the ability to do the things you used to do when you were young. It takes a lot of humility to age gracefully. Don’t fall into the trap of getting discouraged and disheartened by the aging process. The true opportunity of “the golden years” is that it can be a time of enlightenment, appreciation and graceful being. As you reach this stage in life, develop some new strategies for maintaining a positive outlook. The same principles of happiness exist in old age more vigorous days. Live by the “golden rule” and don’t take yourself so seriously. True growth comes in seeking out opportunities to brighten up the lives of others even as your own light fades. Rise above the challenges of aging by deflecting your conversations away from complaints. Wisdom lies more in listening to and supporting those around you than any words you might say. Shine the light on others as you age and you will see the joy of living a long life.
4 minutes | Apr 22, 2020
Are We Really Creatures of Habit?
I’m sure you’ve heard the expression, “You are a creature of habit.” Maybe you’ve said it yourself. Another common phrase is, “That’s the way I’ve always done it!” What makes us do the things we do? Why do we react to situations the way we do? Sometimes we use the excuses listed above. Sometimes we try to pin our reactions on our heredity or on our environment—that age old paradigm. My contention is that all these ideas are merely excuses that we use to defend our mediocrity and shortcomings. Certainly, we have a genetic make-up. We were brought up with certain value systems. It seems that these value systems make us think we can’t change. It is our tendency to react to situations the way we have reacted in the past. Let me suggest to you that there is another way to look at this. We experience a circumstance (a stimulus) and we react to that circumstance either in thought or deed (a response). Our life is a series of stimuli and responses. Often there is no thought at all given to the situation. There is no gap between the stimulus and the response. Something happens and we react. Often we react the way we always have because we are creatures of habit. We give absolutely no thought whatsoever to our response. We just react. As with so many things in our life, there is another way of doing things, another way to look at things. We can, if we intend to do so, notice the stimulus as it happens. As we notice the stimulus happening, a small gap occurs. That gap allows a space for us to react differently from the way we always have reacted. That small gap gives us a chance to consider our choices in dealing with the stimulus. We can consider how we want to react to that circumstance. Our response can now come from a place of heightened consciousness, not experienced when we simply react as creatures of habit. We may still offer the same response we have in the past, but now we realize that it is a conscious choice rather than an uncontrolled act. As we deal with the feelings that result from our chosen response, we have the opportunity to notice how we feel. We then have another choice to make. Am I happy with the way I responded? Or could I have handled the situation better and felt better about myself? That consciousness is an awareness of what is happening as it happens. Some would say it is living in the moment. This consciousness gives us the opportunity to choose a response. Developing this consciousness requires the intention to do so. It does require practice. That practice involves the effort to notice ourselves as we respond to stimulus after stimulus throughout our day. You can choose peace in your responses. You can choose to be kind. You can choose to be compassionate. The point is: you get to choose. You are a creature of habit either because you want to be or because you don’t know any better. Now you know better!
3 minutes | Apr 15, 2020
What Is Compassion?
Have a little compassion. We’ve all heard that expression. But what does it really mean? When I ask that question at my presentations, I get answers that you would expect—empathy, feelings for others, kindness and understanding. Though these answers are all correct, let me tell you what compassion means to me. One evening when I was giving a talk in my local library, I was telling a story about a woman on my block who would never acknowledge me when our paths crossed. I would always give a friendly wave hello as I passed her during my walks or if she came by my house as I was doing yard work. Each time she would look away or put her head down, averting her eyes from my direction. I couldn’t understand why in the world this woman always ignored my friendly hellos. After all, I was being friendly. “What is the matter with her?” I asked, sounding somewhat annoyed. And then a woman in the second row raised her hand and quietly offered, “Maybe she is shy.” It was at that moment that I got a lesson in the real meaning of compassion! Here I was, giving a talk on happiness and exhibiting a total lack of compassion. Sure I was being friendly to my neighbor, but I also was holding an expectation in that friendliness. That evening, I learned that compassion is allowing others to be who they want to be. Compassion is not expecting or demanding that others be who we want them to be. Compassion is not judging the actions of others according to our standards and values. Compassion is cutting others some slack instead of criticizing them. Compassion is not a feeling of superiority. It is the realization and acknowledgement of the dignity that each one of us possesses as a human being. It is a basic understanding that every one of us is doing his best to figure things out. We are all on our own path through life. Compassion is the conscious decision to send out love to all those who cross our path. What a load off the shoulders! We don’t have to be the judgment police! We don’t have to get upset when people do things differently than the way we would like them to. It is extremely liberating to allow others to be who they want to be. When we are compassionate to others, we bring simple happiness to ourselves.
4 minutes | Apr 8, 2020
You Live in a Mansion
Have you ever been in a mansion? Maybe it was one of the fabulous Newport, Rhode Island mansions. Or perhaps it was a stately southern plantation. You might have gone on a local house tour to view a beautiful home. Did you feel the excitement as you approached the front door with the prospect of exploring the entire home, experiencing the drama of each room that you visited? You passed through the imposing front door and gasped as you took in the large entrance foyer. You admired everything: the chandelier, the crown moldings, the wall coverings, the finish on the floors, and the grandfather clock . . . everything! The foyer was indeed impressive, but would you have been satisfied totally, just seeing the first room? Would you have been ready to say to your friend who was visiting the mansion with you, “You go ahead and tour the rest of the rooms; I’m going to stay here. This is enough for me!” I hardly think so! Seeing the foyer would be just enough to whet your appetite for more. Most likely, you would have great anticipation to see the other rooms: the front parlor, the back parlor, the dining room, the library, the kitchen, the butler’s pantry and the winding staircase to visit the bedrooms upstairs. What excitement as you step into each room, beautifully decorated, each with its own charm, its own character, its own story to tell. How satisfying it is, upon finishing the tour, to discuss your favorite parts with your friend and to appreciate the mansion all over again. You see, your life is like a mansion. Each of us has the potential to live a life of complete joy and fulfillment. The problem is that we spend most, if not all, of our lives living in the foyer. It is a life of experiencing the same things over and over again—a life of little growth or fulfillment. I challenge you to explore the other rooms in your mansion. One room may contain food for the cultivation of your mind through inspiring books. A second room might be the experience of unconditional love, perhaps for your family, loving without asking anything in return. A third might be giving 100% at work instead of just sliding by, doing as little as possible. A fourth might be developing the habit of only saying good things about others, whether they are present or not. A fifth might be expanding your spiritual side through daily meditation. A sixth might be developing your talents, through music, athletics, art or whatever they may be. A seventh might be doing some volunteer work for the good of your fellow man—giving of yourself in service so that someone else’s life could be better. Take a look at yourself. Are you living your life in the foyer of your mansion? It might seem easy and feel comfortable to just stay in the foyer, but why not try opening up some doors and peeking in? Your mansion may contain even more incredible rooms that I have failed to mention. My promise to you is that once you start to venture into the other rooms of your own personal mansion, your life will forever be changed for the better!
3 minutes | Apr 1, 2020
When The Student is Ready The Teacher Will Appear
You can’t catch a baseball until you can keep your mitt on your hand. You can’t hit a ball until you can hold the bat. You can’t go to third base until you’ve touched second base. There is a certain readiness that is required for us to learn certain things. This is especially true of our adult development. Psychologist Carl Jung taught that there are four stages of adulthood: the Athlete, the Warrior, the Statesman and the Spiritual Person. In the first stage, our physical prowess determines our worth; i.e. our athletic ability, our good looks. In the Warrior stage we realize that to make it in the business world we must have more than good looks. Here we realize the need to develop other skills, which will help us succeed. The Statesman is one who has achieved a certain status and decides to give back to his community in some form or another. Finally the Spiritual person realizes that there is more to life than what we can experience through our senses. He cultivates his divine side and in so doing lives a fuller more joyful life. We are all on a path to somewhere. Each of us is going and growing at our own speed. As we advance through Jung’s four stages of adulthood, certainly we will receive assistance from various sources along the way. I’m sure that as you look over your life there have been people (teachers) who have aided your growth and development. The Buddhist saying, “When the student is ready the teacher will appear,” comes into play as we become more conscious of that path on which we travel. It could be a person you just met or a seminar you attended or even a book you are reading. Sometimes when you least expect it, you will realize that you have experienced something new; something exciting that has changed you. You experience an instant awakening. Something that confounded you previously now becomes clear. You shake your head and say, “Wow!” These incredible turns in consciousness come at just the right moment. It happens because you are now ready to experience it. As you move along your path of life, be aware that everything you experience gets you ready for the next teacher to appear. Each opportunity for growth prepares you to more deeply appreciate what comes next. You not only begin to recognize teachers but seek them out for guidance. Though some unfortunately, never get to this point of understanding, many are happily realizing that they always have support. By grasping the notion of being in the right place at the right time, your journey becomes easier, more direct and extraordinarily rewarding.
4 minutes | Mar 25, 2020
Why Do You Need Teachers?
From our first days of life through our early twenties, our personal development is monitored very closely. All the way through our final years in high school, we are guided and graded by our parents, family members, teachers, coaches, ministers, doctors and whoever else is there to see us through childhood. As we become young adults and mandatory education has been completed, we are faced with significant choices: going to college, getting a job, or joining the military. Now life becomes a bit more serious and success is placed directly on our own shoulders. From this point, we begin to make our own choices, which are not always easy or triumphant. Some flunk out of college. Some are asked to leave the military. Some get fired from jobs. While there are many who move toward positive life paths, there are those who find that continued growth and personal development grinds to a halt. Now faced with life head on they begin to falter. Some figure they have all the answers. Others leave tremendous potential unfulfilled. As adults, we are always running into forks in the road. One leads toward growth and development, the other leads to more of the same. For many of us, more of the same is the easier, more comfortable path to take. We choose more of the same because we tell ourselves, “That’s who I am. That’s how I’ve always done it!” The road to progress sometimes feels lonely and frightening. The fear of where the road may take us can be paralyzing.Unfortunately, by avoiding the risks, we sometimes never get to experience the rewards that await us. The key to navigating the road to self-growth is to seek out teachers who can show us the way. Often it seems that certain people are self-made achievers. But if you speak to successful people, most will tell you that they had some help along the way —people who motivated them. Teachers in adulthood are like teachers in childhood. They challenge us. They encourage us. They correct us. They open doors to innovative ideas within us. They inspire us to be and do more. Where do we find such teachers in the adult world? It could be where we found them before—in school (college, trade school), at home or at church. But often, we find them in unexpected places.A teacher might be your boss or co-worker, a friend, your spouse, or children or even your grandchildren. We find teachers in the media—TV, radio, movies, tapes, CDs and books. Teachers even show up through strangers or people we meet who may only briefly cross our paths. Ultimately, everyone who comes into your life does so to teach you a lesson. For us to grow as adults we must begin with the desire or intention to do so. We must say to ourselves, “I don’t want to be the same person next year that I am today, I want to be a better person.” We must seek out fresh ways of thinking since new ideas are the lifeblood of personal growth. As you pursue your dreams, and open yourself to the guidance available to you, the appropriate teachers will show up who can aid in your discovery of life-changing ideas!
2 minutes | Mar 18, 2020
From Point A to Point B
It is not easy to make wholesale changes in our lives. Crash diets rarely work long term. We take off weight quickly by drastically changing our food intake in some way. It works great for a while, but eventually we fall off the wagon and gain back the weight we lost and then some. The best way to long-term weight control is to alter our diet in small bites: Gaining control of what we eat in a gradual way so we don’t feel deprived and resent the process. The same is true for all life-altering changes as well. When it comes to changing our thinking so we can live in “simple happiness,” the same principle applies. Our goal everyday can be to go from Point A (where we currently are) to Point B (a small improvement over Point A). Maybe your goal for the day is to be more appreciative of the good things that are happening in your life rather than taking them for granted. Take notice of your thoughts as you consciously give thanks for your ability to see, hear or speak. This small step and its associated good feelings, may motivate you to be more appreciative that day. Maybe the next day your goal is to be compassionate towards others. That thought will help you focus on being kind to those you meet. Notice the good feelings that accompany your effort to be compassionate. Each evening as you spend some quiet time reflecting, you can do a quick mental review of the day’s efforts. You can then set a small performance goal in your mind for the next day. It is in the daily awareness of making small positive steps that strong, permanent changes occur. It is in noticing also the good feelings that accompany these small steps that motivates us to do more. Your conscious progress towards happiness becomes a daily focus in your life. Having gone from Point A to Point B today may even give you the feeling of excitement over what may be in store for you as you wake up tomorrow to begin a new Point A in hopes of reaching another Point B.
5 minutes | Mar 11, 2020
Your Natural State of Mind
In order to make changes in your life you must start by looking at things differently. Your old views, your old ways of thinking, could be the reason that you are no as happy as you might be. Your old thought systems keep repeating the same way to deal with circumstances in the same manner time after time, the same way you always have. But how do you begin to change your perspective when you don't see it any other way?What if you explored the possibility that there might be another way to look at things? What if you could bring a perspective to situations that would not cause you to be upset, perspective to situations that would not cause you to be upset, saddened or disturbed? What if you could bring an outlook to a situation that would leave you feeling peaceful and confident? This other view sits quietly beside our thought systems, waiting for you to tap into it. It is known as our natural state of mind; a place where there is peace, solutions to problems, creativity and a general feeling of personal well-being!How do we get from our thought systems to our natural state of mind? The first step is that you have to want to be there. Some of us wouldn't trade our thought systems for anything. Some think there is only one way to look at things and that's their way! For those of us looking for a more peaceful, less stressful life, we can find it in our natural state of mind.We have all experienced our natural state of mind when we take a break from our thought systems. Suppose you have plans to pick your friend up for a day of shopping, but you can't find your keys. You look here, there, and everywhere! Frustrated, you call your friend and have to reschedule your shopping trip. You gradually calm down as you go on to another activity at home. After awhile, guess what happens - you remember where your keys are! You knew all along, but in your frustration, their whereabouts eluded you. When you stopped fretting, the answer appeared effortlessly. That's your natural state of mind at work. All the answers, solutions and inspirations are always available to us. Sometimes our thought systems get int eh way and keep them from surfacing to our consciousness.So you want to get to your natural state of mind. Now what? Next we have to practice the experience f being there. Here's one way to do it. Turn off the TV, the phone, and any other electronic devices that might distract you. Sit quietly in a comfortable chair and relax. Keep your focus on your breathing - you breathe in, you breathe out. Continue to breathe in and out quietly. A thought will come to mind. You recognize it as a thought and you let it pass out of your head, again focusing on your breathing. What is this exercise called? That's right, meditation!This practice of quieting your brain allows you to access the power of your natural state of mind. The more you experience your natural state of mind through meditation, the better equipped you will be to access that state when you want to The trick is to notice when your thought systems are causing you to feel bad. When you notice a bad feeling, instead of reacting in a way that can make the situation worse, you will be able to access your natural state of mind and deal with the situation from a different perspective. Moving to your natural state of mind gives you a chance to deal with the situation form a position of patience and compassion, which in turn will offer an outcome that will most likely be much more satisfying to you.There are many fine books you can read about meditation. In its essence, meditation is nothing more than quieting the mind and letting thoughts go from your head. You'll get better at it with daily practice. The more you practice the easier it will be to gain access to your natural state of mind.This ready access comes in handy also when you begin to feel stress. As you begin to feel the first signs of stress, take notice. It is in noticing the stress that helps you to slow down. In this slower state you understand that the thoughts causing the stress are just thoughts. Once you realize that they are just thoughts, you can more easily move into our natural state of mind, deal more peacefully with them and then let them go. Practicing being in your natural state of mind is a fun way to discover that "simple happiness" is only a thought away!
3 minutes | Mar 4, 2020
What is the nature of thought? Have you ever considered that? The answer is: “A thought is just a thought.” That’s it, nothing more, nothing less. Our thoughts do not necessarily have to become our reality. They become our reality when we focus on them or hang on to them until we make them our reality. If we could only hang on to the thoughts that empower us and let go of the ones that are disempowering to us, we’d all be a little happier. Did you ever wake up from a bad dream and much to your relief say to yourself, “Phew, it was just a dream!”? If we could only say to ourselves about our thoughts as they pop into our heads, “Phew, it was just a thought!” It sounds so simple. Let go of the thoughts that hurt us, hang on to the ones that serve us. In practice, it’s really not very easy. Why is it so difficult? It’s difficult because we are who we are—creatures of our life experience. We may have already lived twenty, thirty, forty, fifty, sixty years or more. Over the years, we’ve learned to look at the world in our own unique way. We don’t see the world as it truly is; we see the world as we are. We have developed our own way of processing and filtering everything that comes our way. Our thoughts systems have been formed by the people, experiences and situations that influence us along the way. You have your thought systems, and I have mine. We seem to defend our thought systems as though our lives depended on them. These thought systems, which over time become our belief systems, can feel good or they can feel bad. Your job, if you want “simple happiness,” is to notice when you are hanging on to disempowering thoughts. When you observe yourself feeling sad, hurt, or depressed, you can usually trace that feeling back to how you were thinking about things. Observing yourself is the first step; choosing a better feeling thought is the next. We are all creators of our own thoughts. Our emotions tell us whether our thoughts feel good or don’t feel good. In our natural state of mind, our thoughts flow freely and easily. When we are stuck in our ego, which is driven by outside influences, we activate thoughts that can ultimately be disempowering to us. We can dwell on the negative emotion that arises or we can use it as a signal to reach for a more empowering thought. When you understand that your thought systems work alongside your emotional body, you can take control of how you want to feel in any given situation. You begin to realize that recasting your thought systems is a major breakthrough in your search for “simple happiness.”
3 minutes | Feb 26, 2020
We Become What We Think About
Each of us has a powerful but untapped resource within us waiting to be discovered and utilized. We all have the potential of living a life with little or no stress—a life that is full of joy and fulfillment. This power lies in the ability to hang on to thoughts that empower us and let go of those thoughts that are disempowering to us. We become what we think about all day long. Much has been written about this fundamental building block for explaining why some people always seem happy and why others rarely are. Mary Kay Ash said, “If you think you can, or think you can’t, you’re right.” For the most part, we decide what is going to happen before it happens. If you say to yourself, “I’ll never be able to complete that 10k run,” guess what? More than likely you won’t even begin to train. If you say to yourself, “Gee, look at all those people my age who are actually finishing that 10k run,” you are more likely to give it a try. If you think you can, or think you can’t, you’re right! Start to notice your thoughts throughout your day. Most of us think the same thoughts day after day. Most of our thoughts focus on “what is.” It can be a real breakthrough just to be able to separate yourself from your thoughts. When you are able to step back and observe what thoughts you are hanging on to, you will start to understand why your life is the way it is. Let’s say you are thinking about your financial situation. You may be saying to yourself, “My parents always struggled to make ends meet.” “I didn’t have the educational opportunities that others had.” “I guess I’m lucky to have my job, but I am still not able to get ahead.” Your thoughts about “what is” in your life are going to get you more of “what is.” If you want things to change, you have to change something. Start by changing your thoughts. In his book, You’ll See It When You Believe It, Wayne Dyer asserts that we can manifest what we want in our lives as long as we believe we can. Take something in your life that you want to improve. Focus your thoughts on how you want things to be. As you focus on your desired result, notice how good you feel. Bring to mind your desired result and accompanying good feelings as often as you can during the day. Observe when the thought of the lack of your desired result enters your mind. Also notice the accompanying bad feelings. This is the exact moment to replace the thought of lack with the thought of fulfillment. Take charge! Make that thought of your desired result your dominant thought. Your life will start to move into the direction of your desires. Begin to fashion your own life. We become what we think about all day long.
4 minutes | Feb 19, 2020
Introduction to Simple Happiness
Opportunity KnocksThis book is not intended as a quick fix to change your life. It is meant for those who are looking for a little more out of life. To understand “simple happiness” is to realize that you have a choice in how you feel at any given time or in any situation. It is not a particular destination, but merely a state of awareness along your journey of life. You may already be on a quest for happiness. Or you may not. Perhaps you’ve never even given it a thought. No worries. You will still find something as you read that will lighten you up enough to recognize that you are in the driver’s seat. Simple Happiness offers 52 easy ways to help you remove some of the mystery and confusion from your everyday life. Contrary to what some might say, life does not have to be complicated and full of stress. Every day can be a new opportunity to experience joy. You can certainly read through chapter after chapter, but it is not necessary. Each one represents a particular thought or idea to consider. They can stand alone or you may find that some overlap in a similar concept. You might randomly read a chapter each day as a reminder to be in simple happiness. Or since there are 52 chapters, you might enjoy picking one per week for inspiration all year. As you read, you may find what I offer to be very basic, while others might find it quite profound. There are sections aimed to inspire you and others specifically meant to challenge you. Many offer practical steps or even spiritual solutions. No matter what, please be assured that everything I share in this book is meant for you! Simple Happiness was written from the heart with the intent to give you comfort and hope. Comfort that at no matter where you find yourself, it is just where you are supposed to be. All the experiences of your life have brought you to where you are now—in the right place at the right time. And it offers hope that no matter where that place is, it can always get better, much better. It represents comfort and hope that true happiness and joy are available to everyone—including you! It is my further intent that these pages inspire you to look at the same old things in a brand new way. However this book finds you, it brings me joy to know that it may open doors for you that you didn’t even know existed. I encourage you now to take the first step through a door of opportunity I like to call “Simple Happiness.” And as you do so, may you find what your heart desires.
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