Live in the moment…

July 19, 2019

A recent post to the Jack’s Winning Words blog had this advice from Will Rogers – “Don’t let yesterday take up too much of today.” That’s good advice and I suspect that Will would agree that you should also not let tomorrow take up too much of today either.

Having memories or yesterday isn’t bad, nor is making plans for tomorrow; however, dwelling for too long on either is usually just a waste of time.

Our minds are wonderful things that allow us to recall moments from the past orinsight fantasize about the future. Both can be pleasurable retreats from the reality of the moment or they can be the source of pain or fears and concerns that can temporarily paralyzing.

Some people who have suffered a loss or a set-back in life get stuck reliving that event, perhaps second guessing themselves and what they did at the time or maybe just being unable to accept things and let go of the relationship or job or loved one.

In the case of the future, many people find themselves unable to settle on a course of action or cannot stop themselves from considering and exploring all possible alternatives. They literally “What if” their time away.  

depression 5Living in the moment is an exercise in focus and self-control. It is the inability to focus on the present that opens the door for the mind to wander into the past or begin exploring the future. There are all sorts of helpful Web sites, on-line articles, videos and other ways to get information about living in the moment. Just Google “Live in the moment” to see a list that is pages long.

I’ve also posted here a few times about not living in the past – see “Don’t fixate on the mirror…” and I’ve occasionally written about not spending all of your time daydreaming about the future – see my 2017 post on “The future starts now…”

So, how does one focus upon the now, rather than the past or the future?

I recently met with a Developmental Optometrist. I had no idea that such professionals even existed or that there is a need for them. What she does is work with patients, mostly children, who have vision problems that impede their ability to learn. She explained that the most common issue for many young children is the inability to properly focus their boy imaginingeyes on the books of other items in front of them. Since most are too young to have a very rich vocabulary, the issue is exacerbated by their inability to explain the problem that they are having. Her practice involves working with the children to determine the nature of their problems and to provide them with exercises to help them focus their eyes on the objects that they need to see in order to learn.

A take-away from that visit is that we may all need to develop exercises that help us focus on the things that are right in front of us. In the context of this post that means developing exercises (or habits) that bring us back from dwelling on the past or dreaming about the future and return us to living in the moment. For some it man prayingcan be as simple as keeping a calendar and taking a quick look at it every morning to reset your mind on the things that you’ve committed to do today. For many the creation of a daily To-Do list is a morning ritual. For some starting each day with a prayer allows them not only to refocus upon the day, but also to start it off in the right frame of mind and with the confidence that they are not alone in whatever the day has in store.

While I have used the terms exercise and habit as if they were interchangeable, the fact is that one precedes the other. Exercises are ritualized or repetitious sets of steps that one consciously goes through, while habits are sets of steps that one unconsciously performs because the body and mind have been trained by repetition.

Maybe you need to develop some exercises to help you focus and live in the present. Maybe taking the time for that daily morning prayer is a good exercise for you. Whatever works for you, just keep repeating it until it becomes a good habit. There is much less angst and much more satisfaction when you live in the moment.

So, join me in the now and live in this moment.

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You can change the outcome…

July 18, 2019

From a recent post to the Jack’s Winning Words blog comes this insight –

“The greatest discovery of my generation is that human beings can alter their lives by altering their attitudes of mind.”  (Lee Iacoccoa)

I grew up in the era with some of the early proponents of changing one’s attitude. Norman Vincent Peele wrote his famous book ‘The Power of Positive Thinking” in 1952. Bishop Fulton J. Sheen, was on TV espousing a positive attitude through faith. Of course, there was Dale Carnegie and who could leave Zig Ziggler off such a list. More recently, lives have been influenced by the works of Eckhart Tolle, Thomas Anthony Harris, Tony Robbins and a host of self-help gurus. What all of these people have in common is the notion that you can change your life by changing your attitude.

In physics it can be shown that, in order to change the direction of an object that is in motion, some sort of force must be applied to that object – a force in a different direction than the object is traveling. The same is true of the trajectory of your life. It will decisionscontinue down the path it is on, unless some force is applied that causes it to change direction. That “force” can be some external event or it can be an internal change of attitude, which causes you to react differently and take a new direction. One could sit around and hope that something happens to change things in your life or one can take the first steps of changing your attitude towards life.

Perhaps the greatest “force” that can change the direction of your life is the force of a belief in God and in God’s impact on your life. Nothing will change your attitude aboutwoman-praying life more than accepting God’s role in your life and learning how to see and do what God has in mind for you. You may not understand the “why” of it all and maybe you cannot yet be able see the “how” it will all play out; but, if you accept the will of God in your life, as in “not my will, but Thy will be done”, the outcome in your life will definitely change.

The outcomes that we desire or dream about are basically expectations or hopes. We try to visualize or “see” the desired state at the end of an effort. Many people set goals for themselves based upon an outcome that involves acquiring and owning some new thing – a car, a house, a boat, something. They may envision themselves being happy once they have acquired that thing. Few find any real happiness in even the best outcome of suchgoal goals. They find that having the items does not bring happiness, only a temporary sense of achievement of that goal; then it is on to the next goal.

Perhaps the biggest change that one can make to change the trajectory of their life is to alter their perception of the desired outcome. Since there is an inevitable end to life on earth, the question becomes, “What is the outcome that I want at that point?” People of faith have an answer for that question; and, having found that Pinterest Wayne Dyer graphicanswer, their lives are altered and their goals change. They find satisfaction and a sense of accomplishment in service to others as they progress towards that ultimate goal.

Think about what you hear about people who are remembered, once they are gone. Do you hear people reciting a list of things that they were able to accumulate? More likely, if they are mentioned in a good context,  you hear what a good person they were, how kind or generous they were to others. You remember that love that they shared and how they made you feel good. You hear phrases like, “He (she) was always doing things for others, giving of their time and helping whenever they could.” Often you will also hear, “She (He) was a good Christian.” What you are hearing is that they changed the course of their lives by believing in God and the teachings of Christ and thus they changed the outcomegods-hands-2 for themselves and others around them.

You can change the course of your life and the outcome by believing in God. There is still time. Alter your life. Let God into it and experience the change in your life. You’re going to like the outcome.


Life is never boring if you keep the wonder in it…

July 14, 2019

Do you ever hear someone say that they are bored and wonder why? Maybe it’s because they’ve stopped wondering. Wondering is a great way to stay mentally occupied. You can wonder why. You can wonder how or who. You can wonder if. There are lots of ways to let your mind wander and wonder and all of them give your mind something to do.smirk

These days when we wonder bot things or people, we most often Google the topic about which we ae wondering. If you do that you will see that Goggle returns page after page of responses, including a link to the web site Woderopolis.org – yes there is a wondering web site. It’s helpful to have such a site bookmarked, in case you can’t think of anything to wonder about, you can just go there and share in the wondering of other people – sort of wondering voyeurism, I guess.

boredWondering is often connected with wandering, which, I guess, is natural, since the mind often also wanders when it wonders. That brings to mind that old saying “All who wander are not lost”. Neither are those who wonder. Yet some do not spend much time wondering, because they mistakenly think that they already know. Their minds are made up; which is sometimes called beliefs and sometimes called prejudices. I found a great quote that covers that – “I would rather have a mind opened by wonder than one closed by belief.” (Gerry Spence)

Socrates knew the importance of wondering about things. He said –  “Wonder is the Socratesbeginning of wisdom.” Eventually the tendency to wonder will always bring you full circle back to wondering about yourself. It may take some time, as Saint Augustine said – “Men go abroad to wonder at the heights of mountains, at the huge waves of the sea, at the long courses of the rivers, at the vast compass of the ocean, at the circular motions of the stars, and they pass by themselves without wondering.”

gods-hands-2When you do get back to considering the questions of why and how and for what purpose about yourself, it doesn’t take too long before you wander into wondering about God. There’s a web site for that too – Closer to truth – Wondering about God. You really don’t need Google or a web site to tell you about God. If you take the time in prayer to ask Him, he will reveal Himself to you and you will see the wonder.

chimpanzeeOne can get caught up in wandering in wonder and never get anything done.  Craig D. Lounsbrough put it well when he said – “I wonder what life would have been like if I would have taken all that time I spent wondering what life would have been like, and instead used that time to make it what I wanted it to be like.”

So, while wondering is good; actually doing is even better.  I wonder what things I can actually get done today? Maybe I’ll meet you. I wonder where you live. I wonder what you do? I wonder about you. But the mind wanders. It’s another wonderful day.

 


Don’t fixate on the mirror…find your new roads

July 13, 2019

A quote from a recent post to the Jack’s Winning Words blog started me thinking about how it applies to life. The quote was from WWII General George C. Marshall, the father ofGeorge MArshall the Marshall Plan that resulted in the rebuilding of Europe. “When a thing is done, it’s done.  Don’t look back.  Look forward to your next objective.”  (George C. Marshall)

When you are driving in a car, you cannot move forward (at least not very far or fast) by continually looking in the mirror to see where you’ve been. You must look forward to see where you are going. In life, some people seem to fixate on the mirror, spending their time looking back, perhaps in regret for things done or left undone. We sometimes refer to them as “living in the past”. But, the truth is that one cannot live in the past. The past is done and it cannot be undone, no matter how much we may wish that things could be different.

goalPerhaps the issue for some is that they don’t have a “next objective” to look forward to and to work towards. I have noticed that when I awaken in the morning on a day that I have nothing planned, I manage to get very little done, and the day just drags along. However, if I have things that I knew ahead that I wanted to get done that day, I awaken with a sense of purpose to accomplish those objectives – I can’t wait to get started. The ends of those two types of days are also very different, too – one with relief that the day is finally over and the other ending with a sense of accomplishment and satisfaction.

I’ve also noticed that people who can’t seem to let go of the past, who are fixated on the mirror are less happy with life. That might include those who cannot put the loss of a job aside and go on with life; or those who cannot find a way to put the loss of a loved one depression 5into a place of good memories and move on. Perhaps it includes those who cannot put a snub or social slight into its proper place of un-importance; or perhaps those who cannot see beyond preconceived prejudices from their past. For whatever reason these people have fixated on the mirror of the past.

So, the take-away from Marshall’s quote is to put down that mirror. What’s done is done. Accept it and move on. Find a new objective and focus upon that. Find that new job, maybe one that involves something that you really love to do. Recognize and deal with the preconceived notions about people that you’ve been carrying around like baggage and see if life doesn’t get a little more interesting when you allow different points of view this-is-meinto your thinking. Look for new relationships than might lead to finding a new significant other – not to replace the lost loved one, but to crate new memories in addition to those fond memories from the past that you can glance at in the mirror from time-to-time

Life continues to move forward, whether you are looking in the mirror or looking ahead. Life is just a whole lot more satisfying when you are pursuing new objectives, rather than trying to live in the past. The current Chevrolet commercial tag line is “Find new roads”; maybe that’s what Marshall meant.VR2 Don’t spend your time looking in the mirror; find the new roads of your life and look ahead to your next objective.

The mirror in your car does help when going in reverse, but life doesn’t have a reverse gear. Look past your mirror and see what’s ahead fort you. Find your new roads.

 


How are you carrying your loads?

July 10, 2019

A saying attributed to Lou Holtz is this morning’s inspiration –

“It’s not the load that breaks you down, it’s the way you carry it.”  (Lou Holtz)

It is easy to think immediately about physical loads and the advice that we may have picked up over time about how to lift and carry things. I’ve been amazed from time to time how a couple of appliance delivery guys, or maybe moving company guys, can use a simple set of straps to lift and carry heavy appliances or other items. They know how to carry those loads by using that strap.

Lou_HoltzI suspect that the load that Holtz was referring to had more to do with the loads of obligations or stress or guilt or remorse or sadness that we all pick up in life over time. For many, the “life” loads that occur are not carried well and they end up breaking down under the load. Some point to the inability to deal with (to carry) these loads as the root cause of depression and suicide.

The key to the ability of the moving guy to lift and carry heavy or bulky boxes or items is that strap that they use to gain leverage and the right grip on the load. It is also important to know when a load should be shared with a partner. In dealing with our life loads, our strap is our faith and the partner that we need is God. The life loads that I mentioned above are very real and can be very heavy – the loss of a abusived wifeloved one, the end to a relationship, the loss of a job come to mind. However, the loads can also include the regret at having made a thoughtless remark about someone or the guilt that comes after passing by the person in need of help.

To extend the moving person analogy a bit further, it is also important eventually to put the load down. Using your faith as the strap that allows you to lift and bear the load. Asking God for help when you need it allows you r bear even heavier loads. But, it is also important to find a way and a place to put the load down. Accepting that the person is woman-prayinggone or that the relationship is over or that the job went away or that you did do what you now regret is a first step. Turning that acceptance into a memory that finds its place in your knowledge bank is the next step. Using that knowledge to go on with life is the final step. Dwelling in a pit of disbelief or remorse or regret is a sure formula for depression. It happened. It’s over. You need to move on. Grab your strap of faith and move that event to its proper place in your memories and then PUT IT DOWN.

Prayer is a good way to pause and think about the loads that you might be carrying and how you are dealing with them. Maybe, in addition to asking for help with today’s decisions, you can ask God to help you find the right place to put down some of the loads that you’ve been carrying around for a while. Maybe it’s time to put down the load of sadness from the loss of a loved one and find that place in your heart where fond memories of them will live forever and bring a smile to your face, rather than a frown.depression 5 Maybe you can refocus all of the energy that you have been putting into regret over the loss of that old job into doing better at your new job. Maybe you can turn the remorse of having made that insensitive remark to a fellow worker into motivation for being a better person towards others.

Now that you’ve figured out how to carry and put down your loads, make better use of the strap of your faith to pick up and share the loads of others who could use your help. Help them lift the loads of poverty or infirmity or loss by being there for them, on the other end of the strap. You may be surprised that your own loads start to feel lighter or gods-hands-2that you just put them down without thinking about it.  That is the hand of God and he is on both ends of the strap that is lifting you up. Let God carry your load; you’ve things to do helping others with their loads. Don’t worry. It won’t break you down. You know how to carry those loads – God is on the other end of your strap.


What are you doing about it?

July 9, 2019

I keep a file of quotes on hand as inspiration for writing posts. Most come from posts to the Jack’s Winning Words blog, but some I just stumble across while searching on the Internet. Sometimes, as is the case today, two or more quotes just seem to be destined to be used together.

From a recent post to Jack’s Winning Words comes this thought –

“It is curious that physical courage should be so common in the world and moral Mark Twaincourage so rare.”  (Mark Twain)

As I was adding that quote to my collection, another quote from Lou Holtz that I had found myself caught my eye and just seemed to fit with the Twain quote.

“When all is said and done, more is said than done.”  (Lou Holtz)

Moral indignation seems to be in good supply these days, while moral actions continue to lag behind. We see moral injustices documented every night on the news shows, many times based upon racism or prejudices against those who are “different”. Perhaps we have become “morally brain dead” to the events that we witness or are shown on the newscasts, or perhaps we think it is enough to sit in front of the TV and be indignant. But, what are we doing about it? Do we get out and protest the moral wrong? Do we contribute to the cause that is fighting that wrong? Or, do we sit in our easy chairs and go, “tsk, tsk, that is so wrong”?

andrew-robles-295224In many countries of the world, people take to the streets, protesting, erecting barricades and burning tires to demonstrate against the moral wrongs that they perceive their governments are committing. In America we saw that in the Occupy Wall Street movement protesting income inequity a few years ago and the Women’s March on Washington. We still see it in the Black Lives Matter protests that occur all too frequently after a questionable police shooting. Most recently, we have seen news reports of protests at the border detention centers over the deplorable conditions inside.

In the end, Lou Holtz’s quote may be the most accurate – much more is said than done. Politicians rush to the scene of whatever moral crisis is unfolding hoping to get a photoLou_Holtz op and, perhaps, a quick quote of indignation on the nightly news. Then you don’t see them again. You don’t hear of them introducing legislation to right the injustice. Perhaps they hold hearings of some committee in Washington, which gives them another photo op and the chance to be on the news, again.

So the real question is, “What are you doing about it?” You won’t get a photo op and you are unlikely to be featured on the news. What can you do? There are three roles available in any situation like this – be a leader in organizing the response, be a follower/supporter of the response or be a bystander and largely ignore the response. young-woman-furiousBeing a leader don’t necessarily being on the front line of the physical protests that may be occurring. It can mean being the organizer of a local drive to collect toiletries or food or money to send to the people in need at the border holding stations. Perhaps it means organizing a neighborhood group to work with the local police on diversity training. Maybe it just means being more open to diversity yourself or more sensitive to racial issues in your community. In some cases it may mean joining in the political movement to replace the politicians who have not been doing anything about what they see with new people that have the moral courage to act instead of just lamenting the wrongs and smiling for the cameras.

Whatever role you take on is better than just being a bystander or just commenting on how indignant you are at the wrong. By leading or joining a group of like-minded people who are trying to right a moral wrong, you are reinforcing the character and principles that this country was founded upon. So, just do something – join a movement or protest, collect supplies to be used to fight the crisis, give money, give blood, give time – these all help and give you an answer to the question, ”What are you doing about it?”

Another quote by a great coach sums it up well – “Individual commitment to a group effort – that is what makes a team work, a company work, a society work, a civilization work.”  (Vince Lombardi)

Commit to do something.


What will you see when you look at the mirror?

July 8, 2019

“God is like a mirror.  The mirror never changes, but everybody who looks at it sees something different.”  (Harold Kushner)  From a post to the Jack’s Winning Words blog.

Rabbi Kushner’s quote immediately brings to mind the question that is today’s headline. If looking to God shows a reflection of who you are, perhaps that is why so many turn away from Him. They just don’t like what they see in the mirror. Perhaps they see thearrogant things that they could have done differently; or, things that maybe should have done but did not. Maybe they see the ugliness of their prejudices or the hurt that their hate for others causes. Maybe the distorted face of cynicism stares back at them and they don’t like it. For many it may just be the look of guilt for having been away from God for so long.

Perhaps the mirror analogy is telling us that we see our own ego in the mirror and that mirror imagewe need to look beyond that reflection to find God in the mirror. Whatever one initially sees in God’s mirror; if you look beyond the ego that is reflected there and find God, the shame and guilt and remorse will all melt away as God forgives your sins and welcomes you back into the fold. Continue to look and ask for forgiveness and you will be rewarded with God’s peace.

Many are so wrapped up in themselves, in their own wants and needs that they do not take the time to look beyond the surface reflection in God’s mirror. They see only the things that they want to see and ignore all else. They may glance at God from time to time and see the things that they need for God to forgive; but, their reaction is one of “I’ll get back to you on that.” Many never do get back to God until it is too late.

So, take some time in prayer to look into God’s mirror and see what He sees. Ask for His man prayingforgiveness for the things you have done wrong or the things left undone that you should have done. Don’t start the day and the week with leftover baggage from the past. Unburden yourself and start anew by taking your problems to God. Look in the mirror and smile. You’ve seen the face of God there and he was smiling back at you.

What will you see when you look in the mirror – look deeply and find God there.