Remember; but, you can’t live in the past…

March 31, 2017

From a recent post on the Jack’s Winning Words blog – “Some days I wish I could go back in life, not to change anything, but to feel a few things twice.”  (Unknown).  Jack went on to say – “Thank God today for a mind that allows us to feel some things…twice.”  😉  Jack

In an earlier post, Jack had quoted Charlie Brown from a Peanuts cartoon that he remembered – “There are moments in life when you miss someone so much that you just want to pick them from your dreams and hug them for real.” 

 Often when someone is gone you hear people say (and I have said this to others myself) that, “They will live forever in your memories of them”.

 Quite often I’ll stumble upon a picture that I’ve used in a post here of someone who is now gone. Often those may have been people that I had no relationship with, but just remember seeing on television sometime in my past. Many are people who were long forgotten TV or boredmovie stars whose brief term of fame and glory happened well before most people living today were even born. Every day I’m reminded by pictures in my house of the key people who were in my life and who have passed away – parents and relatives. It is easy to pause and let a fond memory flood into my mind and that’s a good thing, but not something that I dwell on for too long. I take to heart a quote by Ken Kesey – “Loved. You can’t use it in the past tense. Death does not stop that love at all.” That is certainly true of those we have loved and continue to love who were a part of our lives.

Some have more trouble that others letting go of the past and that can negatively impact their lives in the present.  Jan Glidewell put it this way – “‎You can clutch the past so tightly to your chest that it leaves your arms too full to embrace the present.” Many people who lose their life partner end up in that state, still clinging so tightly to their memories of a life together with that loved-one that they now cannot live a full life in the present. Others cherish the memories of their departed partner and go on to fulfilling lives, sometimes with new partners.

I like the very descriptive way that Jason Versey describes the state that one can get into when dog chasing tailthey cannot let go of the past – “Chasing your tale? Sometimes we relive past accomplishments, failures and or past relationships to the point of exhaustion. When we do this, I liken it to a dog chasing its tail, just spinning round and round and going nowhere fast. Constantly chasing our own tales has the same effect on us. It leaves us in a state of dizzying immobility. When we wrap our arms so firmly around our past we leave little room to embrace our present future and that, my friends, is a sad tale to tell.”

 So, we must let go of the past and get on with life. We may fondly (or maybe regretfully) revisit the past from time to time, but we cannot let it push aside the present or dictate the future.  In the words of Michelle Cruz-Rosado – “Letting yesterday affect today will only destroy the excitement of tomorrow.”

Sad or angry or regretful memories of events of our past can be especially debilitating, if you let them consume you. It is better to head the advice of Mandy Hale – “To get over the past, you first have to accept that the past is over. No matter how many times you revisit it, analyze it, regret it, or sweat it…it’s over. It can hurt you no more.” It’s not the past that crying-4hurts you, it’s the constant reliving of things that you cannot change and the tendency that we have as humans to beat ourselves up over those events or the decisions that we made at the time. It’s over! Learn from those mistakes and then let them go.

So, maybe the best way to deal with the past is to separate your memories into those that are fond and involve people or events that you love or that cause you to be happy when recalled; and, keep those that cause sadness or conjure up memories that are painful in a separate place, one that you seldom, if ever, have reason to visit.  You often hear the phrase “I’m going to my happy place”; well, maybe that is the place where you store all of those happy placehappy memories of people that you still love and who loved you and those events that brought you joy.

You can’t change the past, but you can control how and what you choose to remember about it. Choose to go to your happy place when you are revisiting your past. Have a great weekend and, if you must revisit the past, at least go to that happy place that is full of happy memories.

Advertisements

Do your best and don’t dwell on what you can’t do…

March 29, 2017

I recently saw this tidbit of advice posted in a meeting room to define the rules for meetings in that room – “Don’t let the perfection be the enemy of the good.”

I thought about how often it is true that the pursuit of perfection gets in the way of doing just the good. Mercedes uses the slogan, “The best or nothing” and their rival Lexus uses “The pursuit of perfection.” Somehow, it makes more sense to me to constantly being in pursuit of perfection than to constantly do nothing if one cannot do it perfectly. That, after all is what perfection-1hard work and practice is all about – the constant pursuit of doing better, with the goal of perfection. What a sad world it would be, indeed, if we all just quit and did nothing, if we couldn’t be perfect at whatever we were attempting.

In our religious beliefs, perfection is a heady target to tackle. We have the example of Jesus to point to and many people wear little bracelets with WWJD on them, which stands for “What Would Jesus Do?” I find that to be somewhat presumptuous for anyone to think that they can somehow channel Jesus into their daily decisions or actions. Hopefully WWJDthey can learn from His actions and the stories that He used to teach His disciples and instead think of the question, “What would Jesus have wanted me to do?”

The answer to that question is likely to be something less than perfection and would focus around doing the right things, the good things, the things that you might hope someone else would do for you in the same situation. That is why it should be enough to stand on the line and serve food to the hungry who can make it into the shelter; rather than to do sewrving soupnoting because you cannot solve world hunger. It is enough to tutor one student to improve their reading skill and not sit and do nothing because you cannot solve the education problems of America. The solution (the pursuit of that perfect world) starts with the first person that you serve food to that day or the person that your tutor. There is no failure in the fact that millions of others may have gone hungry or cannot read. You did your best that day and did not give up and do nothing.

The real trouble with seeking perfection is that is so easy to let yourself slip into the role of loser when it is not achieved. Rosalynn Carter put it well – “You must accept that you might fail; then, if you do your best and still don’t win, at least you can be satisfied that you’ve tried. If you don’t accept failure as a possibility, you don’t set high goals, you don’t branch out, you don’t try – you don’t take the risk.” Failures are just a part of the process of getting being kind 1to success. Even Warren Buffet, whom many believe to be the best investor ever, has had his share of failures.

So maybe the secret is to just focus upon doing your best at whatever task you have set out to accomplish and not worry about perfection. Don Miguel Ruis put it this way – “Under any circumstance, simply do your best, and you will avoid self-judgment, self-abuse and regret.” At the end of the day the question that you should be asking yourself is not, “Did I achieve perfection?”; but, rather, “Did I do my best?” If you can honestly answer yourself that you put the best effort that you could into the tasks, you will sleep well.

special olympicsThe Special Olympics uses the motto – “Let me win, but if I cannot win, let me be brave in the attempt.” In the end, one should reward oneself for being brave in the attempt and doing your best at what you are trying to do and not get down if you did not win. If you have given your best and honest effort to the task, you have already won. In that private little victory you can be at peace with yourself.

Have a great day and give your best effort at whatever you decide to do.


Did we merit God’s gift to us?

March 24, 2017

From a recent post on the Jack’s Winning Words blog, Jack shared this message that he had received from a follower of his blog – “Did you see NYT article regarding what the Pope said about giving to panhandlers?  He wants us to look them in the face, share a kind word and…not judge them or decide if they “merit” our help.”  (BB in Illinois

How often we all rush to judgement about whether someone or some cause merits our act of kindness or giving. It is all too easy to have the thought “get a job” escape our minds and come out of our mouths as we walk past the man begging on the corner. Or perhaps aarrogant flash of disdain overcomes us as we watch the story of a young black mother with her three children burned out of their home on the nightly news. Maybe we pull back the hand of friendship from the person whom we are told is a member of the LGBTIQ community. Those people, we may think don’t merit our help or friendship or pity. After all they brought this on themselves, right?

Imagine if God had looked down on mankind and the messes that they make for themselves and decided that we didn’t merit sending his only son to die for us and for the forgiveness of our sins. We certainly brought all of our sins upon ourselves and it would seem didn’t merit the love that He showed when he sent Jesus to live among us. How did we merit that?

The answer is found not in our merit for that gift; but, in in God’s love for us that is so strong that it needs see no merit in us in order to save us. All He needs to see is acceptance Mark Twainof His love and acknowledgement of Him in our lives. Do we merit God’s love? Of course not. What could we possibly do to merit His love? The path to God is not marked by accomplishments and it is not earned by good works. Mark Twain put it this way – “Heaven goes by favor. If it went by merit, you would stay out and your dog would go in.”

Perhaps, then, we should spend less time judging the merit of others to receive our help and just go with God’s plan and guidance for us in John 13:34 – “A new jesus-as-lightcommand I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another.” There was no mention of or need for merit in that guidance. If we do that, maybe the next line in that scripture by John will also come true – “By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another.”

Have a great, judgement free day and weekend. Show everyone who you are by loving one another.


The elixir of laughter…

March 23, 2017

I decided to use two quotes that both came from the Jack’s Winning Words blog, although they were posted some time apart.

“I love people who can make me laugh when I don’t even want to smile.”  (Unknown)

“A good laugh is sunshine in the house.”  (William Makepeace Thackery)

I believe that laughter really is one of life’s miracle drugs – an elixir that work wonders insmiling-sun almost any circumstances. Victor Hugo said – “Laughter is the sun that drives winter from the human face.”

These days we need laughter more than ever, and mot the nervous chuckles that may come from hearing what the latest stupid batch of Tweets that came, based upon “alternative facts”.

Real laughter involves the temporary setting aside of our fears or our grief, the momentary loss of our anger or resentment and the letting go of our reserve and inhibitions. It is a surrender to happiness and a release of joy (perhaps that is the sunshine in the house that Thackery spoke about).

laughingI’m sure that there are scientific explanations about the endorphins that are released in the body by laughter; but those fail to take into account the release of the icy grip of hate, anger, remorse, fear or sadness from our hearts during those moments of laughter.

My wife and I often say, during times of travail, that we’ll look back on the event someday and laugh. Sometimes that even helps while the event is still taking place or fresh in our minds. It’s usually not hard to find something to laugh at when we do look back, either how we got ourselves into that situation or how we reacted to it. There is almost always humor to be found in human stupidity or humans’ reaction to the absurdity that occurs in everyday life. It is, after all, the stuff of which TV’s reality shows are made.

Milton Berle once said, “Laughter is an instant vacation.” So allow yourself the release of laughter and take a vacation from the worries of your life.

Have a wonderful and laughter-filled day.

 


Do you care enough to actually do?

March 21, 2017

“You can lift the weight of caring by doing” – from a recent State Farm TV ad.

The TV ad that State Farm has been running lately is really heart tugging, which is what it was designed to be. It shows an average Joe is several settings with people and animals in obvious need around him. You can see that he sees their need and feels bad about it, but he doesn’t do anything in the ad. Watching the ad, the viewer can see the growing weight in his heart of caring but not doing. Point taken that it is not enough just to be aware of and care about the plight of others and of animals; you must also do something. Do you care enough to actually do?

We all carry the weight of caring. It is not possible to pass the man on the corner holding man with cardboard signup his ratty cardboard sign that asks for help for him and his family without caring; yet few stop to offer help. We may feel good about holding the door open for someone else somewhere, but too few make the effort to open the door to an animal shelter cage and rescue a lonely dog or cat. It feels good to drop a dollar into a donation bucket outside the local superstore; but only a few actually go to the homeless shelter to volunteer to serve food or offer services. Do you care enough to actually do?

At the end of the day, we may pray and thank God for all that he has given us; but do we think back on all of the opportunities that he gave us to serve others that we chose to ignore. We may even say “there but for the Grace of God go I”; but hold back on saying praying“God, please give me the courage to go there and help”. It’s easy to hurry past the needy or ignore those in pain or despair by looking the other way; after all we’re busy people with lives of our own to lead and mouths to feed. Someone else will provide for those people you may think; or, you can adopt the saying that the University of Michigan basketball team has been using in the NCAA Tournament – “Why no us?” Do you care enough to actually do?

The keys to actually doing something other than just caring are focus and prioritizing. You can solve all of the problems of the world nor meet the needs of everyone that you might encounter in life; however, you can focus on one or a few needs and prioritize them in your life. That may mean finding one person sitting alone in a care home and befriending them. depression4It may mean volunteering for Meals on Wheels and delivering meals and conversations to a few elderly shut-ins. It may mean adopting a pet or volunteering to work at a n animal shelter on weekends. It could mean volunteering to work on a house for Habitat for Humanity or bringing food to your church and then delivering food baskets to the needy at Easter. Maybe it’s befriending that lonely kid at school that nobody seems to like and who seems so down all the time. You know lots of things that need to be done and which you could do; but, do you care enough to actually do?

The point of the TV commercial and of this post is not to send you off on your day with a big guilt trip; but rather to start you thinking about what you can do to turn the care that you have in your heart for other into actions. Many people wait until they are older and helperperhaps retired before they get into volunteer work. It’s great that they eventually did do something about their caring, but it is not necessary to wait. Earlier in life most of us think that we are too busy with work and family to take the time to do work for others, but that is just rationalization. Make your volunteering a part of family life. Take the family with you to do that work. Let your children see and participate in the work that you choose to do in service to others. It is a great life lesson for them and it shows them that you really do care enough to actually do?

Have a great and caring day doing for others!


The destination is worth the journey…

March 17, 2017

Recently the Jack’s Winning Words blog featured this quote from Sam Worthington – “It’s just a journey I’m on, discovering what my connection to and relationship with God is.”  

For those who may not know who Sam Worthington is (and I admit that I was among that group before I looked this up), here is a snippet from WikipediA about him.

Sam_WorthingtonSamuel Henry John “Sam” Worthington[1] (born 2 August 1976) is an Australian actor. He played the main character role of Alex Mason in the Call of Duty: Black Ops series. He portrayed the protagonist Jake Sully in the 2009 film Avatar; Marcus Wright in Terminator Salvation; and Perseus in Clash of the Titans and its sequel, Wrath of the Titans; before transitioning to more dramatic roles, in Everest (2015) and Hacksaw Ridge (2016).

To read the whole WikipediA entry on Sam click here.

It always causes somewhat of a stir when someone famous, especially one of our modern media stars, even mentions their faith, hints that they may believe in God, or goes do far as to say that they may be a Christian. Yet, the journey that Sam admits to being on is one on which many of us are fellow travelers. Some search all their lives without realizing that the God that they were seeking was standing right there with them the whole time. Some get confused and become disillusioned by the rules and requirements that many organized religious groups have created for their own purposes. Some of them are never able to look past the trappings of the church to find God in their lives. Fortunately, most who start the journey eventually find the peace and understanding of having God in their lives; although for too many it is not until the final moments of their lives.

For those who need the help there is a GPS for this journey. It is called the Bible and it provides a great road map for those seeking a relationship with God. For those who prefer,jesus-as-light or really need, a guide for the journey, God provided that centuries ago when He sent His Son Jesus to live among men. In John 14:6, Jesus said, “I am the way, and the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.” So we all have our GPS and our guide to help use get to God. All that might be lacking is the will to make the journey.

I think taking a little time to think about what the alternatives are may help some decide that the destination is worth the journey. Deciding not to take the journey or trying to take an alternative path in life always leads to the same thing – a dead end. Literally, all other paths end in death and then nothing else. Only the path that leads you to Jesus and on to God has no dead end; in fact, only it has no end at all, because only that path promises eternal life.

It’s comforting to know also that you may begin that journey at any time in your life, or perhaps continue the journey you were on before you got sidetracked by life. Many may start out in life being taken to church and Sunday School, without really understanding teenswhy r what it was all about. If they stick with it long enough their intellect catches up with what the Sunday School teachers were try to tell them and they begin to understand and may even begin to believe. Somewhere around high school age that same intellect is joined by a growing ego and the first tastes of freedom and many wander off from their faith, convinced at the time that they know better than to believe what they are being told. For some that loss of faith is just an extension of the rebellion against all things that can set in at that age. Eventually self-control and intellect again gain the upper hand and the adult mind begins to look for the meaning of life and wondering about what comes next. Faith provides the only reasonable answer to those questions. All other answers still lead to dead-ends. And so, the journey is taken up again.

Where are you on your journey to understanding your connections to and rhelping handselationship with God? Are you still unsure and wandering about looking for signs from God; or, have you settled into a comfortable relationship that brings you peace and assurance that everything will be alright? Remember that, wherever you are on the journey, you can find directions in your Bible and you can turn to your guide, Jesus Christ, and ask for help. You will not be turned down and you will not get lost on the journey if you just do those things. If your journey hits a few bumps along the way, don’t get discouraged; just keep in mind what the final destination is – your place in heaven that Jesus has prepared for you – and keep on keeping on. The destination is worth the journey. Maybe I’ll see you along the way.


First of all be happy with yourself…

March 15, 2017

“Your value does not decrease based on someone’s inability to see your worth.”  (Unknown), as seen so time ago on the Jack’s Winning Words blog.

We have become too much of a “See me” and “Like me” society, always seeking the couple-looking-at-phonesopinions and approval of others to validate ourselves. The self-promotion of many social media sites supports that need to be seen and to receive approval from others. We’ve even become comfortable with asking people to “Like me” on Facebook or elsewhere. We keep score by how many “Likes” we get. Yet none of that really makes a difference if you do not like yourself or your life.

Happiness with one’s life and with one’s self starts with accepting who and what you are and finding some level of peace with you circumstances. That might be very hard for someone who is starving or cold or lonely; however, somewhere, deep within them there is the recognition that at least they are still alive and able to hope and strive for a better tomorrow. Most of us never get to that state where just being alive is all that we can be man prayingthankful for; but, many of us don’t take the time to really think about all that we have and have been given and thank God for what we have, much less thank Him for who we are. God made each of us unique, each with talents and abilities that please Him in some way. He sees our value, so who else really matters? You don’t have to pray to God “See me; Like me”; He already does.

If you can accept that God sees your worth as a human being, the next step is not to seek the approval of others; but, rather, to help others accept that same message and to become happy with who they are, too. You’ll be able to do that because those who develop a good sense of self-worth also develop self-confidence.  Jack Welch said this about self-confidence –

“Giving people Self-Confidence is by far the most important thing that I can do, because then they will ACT.”

God will give you the self-confidence to act, to share your story and to help others find caringself-worth through their belief in God. Instead of wandering through life asking others to “See me; Like me”, you will be able to seek out others to say, “I see you and I like you; you have worth to God”. All of this will happen when you have come to peace with who you are and see the value in your life as your ability to serve God by helping others.

Being at peace with yourself starts by resisting the tendency to measure yourself and your circumstances in life against others and what they have. You are not them and you may never have all of the things that they have. Even if you did have those things, do you really think that would make you happy? Rather, focus upon being the best you that you can be. I jesus-as-lightwrote about that in my post of February 16 – Be the best you that you in existence… and again just two days ago in Be the person that you would like to be. If you can stop worrying about what other think and start acting upon the mission that God has given you to spread the Good News, you will be much happier with your sense of self-worth. After all, one “Like” from God is worth more than thousands of “Likes” on Facebook.

Have a great, worthy and self-confident day! Like yourself first.