Make life worthwhile and smile…

April 29, 2017

From a recent post to Jack’s Winning Words come this little bit of advice – “I know I’m not perfect, but I can smile.”  (Dido)  A follow up to this quote might be…”I know that life’s not perfect, but I can smile.”  Charlie Chaplin wrote the song, Smile, which begins: “Smile though your heart is aching” and ends with “You’ll find that life is still worthwhile if you’ll just smile.”

Most of us don’t realize it, but our normal, “at rest” continence is not a smile; in fact, it can look downright uninviting and even angry. If you don’t believe that just let your faceJohn Boehner relax as it normally would be if you weren’t trying to put a look on it and then look in the mirror or have someone take you picture. You may be unpleasantly surprised that your “at rest” face looks so unfriendly. I always thought that Representative and House Speaker John Boehner looked angry all the time; although, if you Goggle him you’ll see many pictures of him smiling. His “at rest” face was not a smile. How about yours?

Sometimes we smile when we think of something good or pleasant that happened in our lives. It’s also possible that putting a smile on your face will cause you to recall a pleasant moment that caused you to smile originally. Try it.  “Sometimes your joy is the source of your smile, but sometimes your smile can be the source of your joy” – Thich Nhat Hanh

smirkA smirk is not a smile and may be on our faces for all of the wrong reasons; yet even a smirk can look better on your face than a frown.

Sometimes we smile at inappropriate times, because something that others are taking seriously at the time hit us as funny and brings a smile. That’s when we may hear the phrase, “Wipe that smile off your face.”

If you need more inspiration to put a smile on your face, here are some great quotes that I found about the impact of your smile on others –

“A smile is the light in your window that tells others that there is a caring, sharing person inside.” –  Denis Waitley

“Every time you smile at someone, it is an action of love, a gift to that person, a beautiful thing” – Mother Thersasmiling-sun

“Today, give a stranger one of your smiles. It might be the only sunshine he sees all day.” –  P.S.

And as for yourself, consider this quote –

“Before you put on a frown, make absolutely sure there are no smiles available.” – Jim Begg

And finally –

smiling dog“A smile is happiness you’ll find right under your nose.” – Tom Wilson

So have a happy and smiley day; you’ll make your life and the lives of others better for making the effort to smile.

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What’s in your book of wisdom?

April 27, 2017

From a recent post to the Jack’s Winning Words blog comes today’s inspiration – “Honesty is the first chapter in the book of wisdom.”  (Thomas Jefferson)

Women reading book 2We all amass a book of wisdom over our lives, however, the books of wisdom for different people don’t have the same chapters nor do they read the same.  I can’t think of a better first chapter for our book of wisdom than that suggested by Jefferson. The honesty that he was referring to must include being honest with yourself first and then you can be honest with all others in your life.

Wisdom is defined as

 – the quality of having experience, knowledge, and good judgment; the quality of being wise.

synonyms: sagacity, intelligence, sense, common sense, shrewdness, astuteness, smartness, judiciousness, judgment, prudence, circumspection

 -the soundness of an action or decision with regard to the application of experience, knowledge, and good judgment.

 – the body of knowledge and principles that develops within a specified society or period.

 So, it is possible to accumulate experiences and knowledge in our lives and still not bedishonest person honest with either ourselves or others. I’m not sure of the wisdom of that course of action. Those who are not honest with themselves and others often weave webs of intrigue and lies that eventually they become caught up in themselves. Being honest and transparent in the things that your do and the decisions that you make means that you don’t have to try to remember all of the lies and deceptions that you may have engaged in with others.

Honesty with yourself is the cornerstone of self-awareness and character. One doesn’t have to be “down” on oneself to be honest, it is just important that you accept yourself as you are and use that starting point to move forward. Not everyone can be one of the this-is-me“beautiful people”; however, everyone can be a beautiful person and that starts with them accepting themselves and not trying to be something that they aren’t. You will often hear someone referred to as being “genuine” and that is undoubtedly an honest person. Such a person may admire another person, but they don’t try to be that other person, because they are comfortable with who they are.

Today’s inspirational challenge is to stop and take an honest look at yourself. Do you like what you see? Are you comfortable with what you see? Are there, maybe, some things that you might change to become even happier with who you are and where you are smiling womangoing in life? What’s holding you back from making those changes? Be honest with yourself and it will be easier for you to be honest with those around you. What a wise thing to do. You’ve added a new chapter to your book of wisdom.

Have a great day of honesty.


Sometimes achieving your dream turns out to be disappointing…

April 25, 2017

From a recent post on the Jack’s Winning Words blog comes today’s thought –

“It hurts to find out that what you wanted doesn’t match what you dreamed it would be.”  (Randy Milholland)

That quote sort of goes along with the old saying, “Be careful what you wish for, you just might get it.” The origins of that saying are somewhat obscure but may have come from a Spanish proverb.

We often romanticize things in our dreams, seeing only the beauty that we hope is thereman daydreaming and none of the warts that may go along with it. That is often the case when we dream about things, owning things or doing things. Somehow we have this belief that we would be happy, if only we owned that thing that we don’t now have. It could be a car, a house, a boat, whatever; we’re just sure that it and owning it is the key to our happiness. Then we finally get it and guess what; it’s just a thing. Owning it may make us feel happy for a few moments, but then something else out in the distance that we don’t own catches our attention and acquiring that new thing becomes our obsession.

The same issues arise when dreaming about people, or maybe about Mr. or MS. Right. Our fantasies are encouraged and fed by the world of advertising and the entertainment industry, both of which tend to show us only images of beautiful people with apparently perfect lives. Of course the drug store tabloids have headlines that scream out that all is not as it seems in those perfect lives and Hollywood divorces certainly seem to outnumber the success stories of married famous couples. So, it would seem that being married to Brad Pitt or Angelina Jolie isn’t all that we might have imagined it would be.

mother with childHow do we avoid the disappointment of reality not matching our dreams? One could just say stop dreaming; but that is not realistic either.  Perhaps rather than stopping dreaming about some ideal person we’d like to or about things that we wish to possess, we could start appreciating what we already have in life and the people that we already know. Maybe the next step it to see a path to achieving our dream that is comprised of small steps in the general direction of that dream, maybe we could buy a newer car, with some of the features that we’ve been dreaming about; rather than buying that ultimate dream car. Maybe going out with Mr. OK is a step in the direction of finding Mr. Wonderful, and at least you have someone real to talk to and not just another lonely night with a dream. Life is full of compromises and you might even find that Mr. or Ms. OK turn out to be better than you had thought. You might even find love. Dr. Seuss even had an interesting observation about that – “You know you’re in love when you can’t fall asleep because reality is finally better than your dreams.”

So, go ahead and dream; but, dream with your eyes open to the reality of life. Making the most of your life by appreciating those people and things that surround you on a daily basis is much better than moping about those things and people in your dreams that you don’t have. If you find that your commitment to achieving your dreams is strong enoughgoal and persistent enough to pursue as a goal in life, then start turning your dreams into plans and start working away at them. Your dream has now turned into your vision of where you want to go in life and what you want to achieve and you are now on a journey to turn those dreams into your reality.  Mark Victor Hansen put it this way – “You control your future, your destiny. What you think about comes about. By recording your dreams and goals on paper, you set in motion the process of becoming the person you most want to be. Put your future in good hands – your own.”

Let’s hope that you are not disappointed when you get there.


Make a decision today to change your tomorrow…

April 20, 2017

Two recent quotes from the Jack’s Winning Words blog make sense to use together –

“None of us can change our yesterdays, but all of us can change our tomorrows.”  (Colin Powell)

And

“You’re always one decision away from a totally different life.”  (Unknown)

Did you ever stop and think about how things change in your life? We all get used to doing things the same way each day, it becomes our daily pattern and we become comfortable with those patterns because they don’t require new decisions from us; we can just continue doing what we’ve always done and there’s a sense of comfort to be found in that. Staying in your daily routines/patterns can also become restrictive. One doesn’t stretch at all and learn new things or meet new people if one does the same things in the same ways each day.

I recently posted about improvising and putting a little jazz in your life. That is a decision to take your life in a different direction. It definitely will impact and change your tomorrows. Maybe you start with a few small decisions like taking a different way to work or finally saying hello to the co-worker that you’ve been meaning to meet. Maybe smell-the-rosesyou decide to finally accept that invitation for coffee or a date with the person who has been trying for so long to ask you out or maybe you finally decide to ask out that person whom you have been secretly wanted to go out with. Maybe you just decide to take some time out of your hectic and busy schedule for some “you” time – time in which you aren’t trying to “accomplish” anything other than to have some time for yourself. That may be what you need right now.

Perhaps the decision that you will make today that changes your life is to get back to church and to re-establish your relationship with God. Many wander away from organized religion as they grow into adulthood and get caught up in the demands of day-to-day life. It is easy to push religion and church down your priority list, maybe afterchurch soccer or hockey practice or below going shopping; until it falls off the bottom of the list and is no longer a part of your life. You can rationalize it by saying, “I still believe in God, but I just don’t like churches and going to church.” You may even think that you’ll maintain your relationship with God through personal prayer time; but, that, too, falls by the wayside. Just like going to the gym is the only real way to have the discipline to do a good workout, going to church each Sunday is the best way to add time (and discipline) for your religion into your busy schedule. It is a habit that you need to keep in your life.

You might be thinking, why should I make any changes in my life; I’m happy with where I am and what’s going on in my life. I go to church each week and even read my bible on occasion. That’s great that you’ve achieved a state of contentment in the routines of your life and have religion as a part of that routine; but, I would challenge you with the question, “Are you achieving your potential in life?” Each of us has a God given potential to not only be happy with our own lives, but to help make the lives of others better, too. Maybe that’s the next level in life that you can strive to get to. If you can say to yourself, I’m happy with who I am and with what I have and with my life in general; then perhaps it is time to consider what you could be doing to help those around you, who are not as fortunate as you, get to that same place. Why?

Consider this – “What good is it, my brothers and sisters, if someone claims to havehelper faith but has no deeds? Can such faith save them? Suppose a brother or a sister is without clothes and daily food. If one of you says to them, “Go in peace; keep warm and well fed,” but does nothing about their physical needs, what good is it? In the same way, faith by itself, if it is not accompanied by action, is dead.” – James 2:14-17

So, maybe the decision that you make today that will change your life is one of devoting some part of your life to the service of others. It doesn’t have to be your full-time job; but, it should be a commitment that you make with what time and resources that you have available. Maybe it starts with weekends at a shelter serving soup or perhaps making visits to shut-ins in your community. Maybe you join a community group in a food drive or volunteer to help with a charity event. There is always need in every community for those willingseerving othersto devote some time and effort to help others.

Don’t get hung up on what you haven’t done with your life in the past. Remember Colin Powell’s opening quote and focus upon changing your tomorrow. You are just one decision away from changing your life for the better. No matter how good your life may seem, there will always be something missing until you fill that void with God and start serving Him and serving others. Only then will you be able to experience the peace that passes all understanding. Have a great day and think about making that decision that will change your life.


Against the wind…

April 18, 2017

From a recent post to the Jack’s Winning Words blog come this inspirational message – “When everything seems to be going against you, remember that the airplane takes off against the wind, not with it.”  (Henry Ford) Jack also mentioned the Bob Seger hit “Against The Wind”, which he commented was inspired by Segar’s days as a cross country runner and running into the wind.

Going against the wind, into the face of adversity, can be something that lifts us like the airplane, to new heights. There are lots of inspirational sayings about how dealing with adversity makes us stronger or better people. It’s easy in the midst of a crisis to lose sight of all of those sayings and advice about the thought that what doesn’t kill us make us stronger.

depression3Perhaps the best thing to think about in moments of crisis, when you are struggling into the wind, is that you are not alone. Most real crises in life leave us feeling alone, like it is us against the world or maybe that no one else in the world can know and understand what you are going through and how you feel about it. Yet we are not alone. God is there with us through everything, waiting patiently for us to acknowledge Him and turn to Him for help. Why would he wait for us to ask? He gave us free will and he is waiting for us to acknowledge that we cannot help ourselves in this situation and to finally say, “Not my will, but thy will be done.”

No matter how steep of a dive you are in, spiraling down into the abyss of despair and depression; if you hand God the wheel and let Him take control of your life, he will pull you back out of that pit. You are acknowledging to God that, “I cannot save myself; but Ireading-bible believe that you can save me.” The two main thoughts there are letting go of your ego and the struggle to find the solution by yourself and putting your trust and belief in the power of God. You may still be buffeted by the winds that you are facing and there may still be pain; but, you will also feel the power of God to take whatever the winds may throw your way and use it to lift you up.

Once you hear God say to you, “I’ve got this”, you can let go of those things from your past that have been causing you pain and start to look forward to a brighter future. Life can once again become a journey of endless discovery and new joys and not the dead-end path of despair that you were traveling. You will also find it much easier to use the little sports phrase, “little help here” when appealing to God for guidance and help with future adversities. It becomes easier and easier to turn to Him when you have woman-prayingexperienced His hand in your life in past crises; and the good news is that the result is always the same – He lifts you up whenever you are running against the wind.

So, no matter what the current crisis is in your life; take a moment to stop and invite God back into your life and embrace the help that He can give you. The problems that you have may be bigger than anything that you can deal with, but noting is too big for God to handle, if you let Him take control. If you have to run against the wind, at least take along God as your running mate. It’s amazing how the wind parts in front of you when He is running interference for you.

Have a great rest of the week and don’t fear the winds that may be swirling around you. God will use them to lift you up.


Improvise and put a little jazz in your life

April 13, 2017

From a recent post to the Jack’s Wining Words blog come today’s inspirational saying – “Life is a lot like jazz.  It’s best when you improvise.”  (George Gershwin)

Improvising is basically doing something that is out of the ordinary or the expected. Jazz musicians may have no idea where they are going or where they’ll end up when they take off on an improvise riff, but it often ends up being something great sounding. Life jazz-1can be like that if you are willing to head off into a new adventure, not sure where you’re going or where you’ll end up but just improvising as you go. Put a little jazz in your life.

The same thing that makes Jazz work can work in our lives. The brains of the Jazz musician have enough understanding of music principles and progressions to keep the musician from getting off into the weeds of just sounding like random notes. When improvising in life we need to trust what some call our instincts and others would call our common sense. We don’t usually do things that are really stupid just to try something new; however, too often we let misplaced and unwarranted fears hold us back from trying new things or meeting new people. Change up your life and try to improvise from time to time. Put a little jazz in your life.

Improvising is trying something new. Ralph Waldo Emerson put it well when he said – “Unless you try to do something beyond what you have already mastered, you will never grow.” Yet many people sit and wait for something to happen in their life that will somehow magically change it. Germany Kent said, “Happiness is achieved when you stop waiting for your life to begin and start making the most of the moment you are new-way-forwardin.” Making the most of that moment is trying something new, putting a little jazz in your life.

For some people the way to try something new is to go somewhere new, to travel. Alex Day put it this way – “If real, regular, normal, boring life, (when you’re at home every day, seeing the same people, doing the same things) is like sitting at home on the floor surrounded by toys… traveling feels to me like going to Toys R Us with your toy box and getting to trade stuff in and buy new things and explore whole new ideas.” I don’t think you really trade in your old toys (or memories) but rather add to your memory toy box. Put a little jazz in your life.

Trying something new or even going someplace new will always involve some risk and that’s a good thing. Rita Wilson said – “Be fearless in trying new things, whether they are physical, mental, or emotional, since being afraid can challenge you to go to the next level.” And Roger von Oech aid this about risk – “Everyone has a ‘risk muscle.’ You keep it in shape by trying new things. If you don’t, it atrophies. Make a point of using it at least once a day.” So, take a risk, improvise and put a little Jazz in your life.

You can certainly find new things to do in life without looking like an episode of Jackass from TV. Just think of things that others have told you that you can’t do or maybe you convicted yourself that you couldn’t do and then go do it. Pablo Picasso out it this way – “I’m always doing things I can’t do. That’s how I get to do them.” Don’t end up life with a bad case of the coulda, wouda shoulda’s. Like the Nike ad says – Just do it. Improvise and put a little Jazz in your life.

mime in boxLife without some improvising and trying new things can begin to feel like the world that the mime is trying to portray when he mimes being in a glass box – there are walls everywhere that prevent you from going beyond some self-imposed limits. You can see through the walls and some things look appealing, but you hold back, afraid to try something out of the ordinary for you.  There is comfort in the familiar, in staying within the box; but a feeling of confinement, too. Break out of your self-imposed box and put a little jazz in your life.


Maybe it’s a matter of trust…

April 11, 2017

From a recent blog post to the Jack’s Winning Words blog comes this wonderful little play on words – “Nothing recedes like success.”  {Walter Winchell)

Jack went on to write – There’s a Latin phrase, similar to this quote, “Sic transit gloria mundi,” worldly glories are soon gone, or, what have you done for me lately?”

In our modern, me-oriented, short attention span and throw-away world; the phrase “what have you done for me lately” defines the credo that too many people live by in group-of-girls-looking-at-phonestheir day-to-day interactions with others and in their relationship with God. If God were to come to earth and stand next to these people, the first things that they would do is whip out their phone and try to take a selfie with God, so that they could post it on Facebook.

“It’s all about me” is another favorite catch-phrase. So, I guess it somewhat natural for the self-centered person ask God, “what have you done for me lately?” I might suggest that the better question to ask is “What have I done for God lately?” Perhaps you have had success in life. Did you thank God for that? Did you give a portion back to God, so that he could use it to help others? Did you even think of God, or were your thoughts on how good you are at what you do and how to achieve even more success? Did your hubris cause you to push God aside and even ask, “What have you done for me lately?”

Maybe the real issue is a matter of trust in God. Do you trust God in your life?  Corallie Buchanan put it this way in her book Watch Out! Godly Women on the Loose – “…You say to God, “I have never seen you provide for me.” God says to you, “You have never trusted Me.” I can hear the protests now from people claiming to be good church-going Christians; people of faith. Danny L. Deaubé put it this way – “One may have an abundance of faith in God, but do we trust Him when we don’t understand? What helping handsgood is faith without trust?” It is our natural tendency to want to (maybe to have to) understand what is going to happen that causes us to have doubts that God is with us and will protect us and guide us to do the right things. We just can’t bring ourselves to let our guard and move forward with total trust in God. We cannot take the risk.  “Risk taking is believing in yourself while trusting in God; knowing that He will open doors for you, even when you don’t see any.” ― Farshad Asl

If you saw the 1986 Eddie Murphy movie The Golden Child, you may recall the scene where Murphy’s character (the chosen one) is tested by having to follow a path in the dark cave while carrying a glass of water that he must not spill. When the path to the place where the Ajanti Dagger is located, it suddenly becomes a series of wavering towers over a seemingly bottomless pit. Then even the towers stop and Murphy’s character is told to take a leap of faith and trust and step off into the darkness. He steps off and discovers that there is some hidden force that allows him to complete the journey and recover the dagger. That was entertainment and the example setting was couched in Buddhist terms; but the concept of having that kind of faith in our God was a good message for us all. We need to the faith AND the TRUST to step off, even when we don’t see the next stepping stone in front of us.

“If you’re wrestling with some sort of decision, reflect for a moment and ask yourself, Am I being brave, or am I being safe? In the end, it depends on whether we think God can be trusted.”  ― Gary Haugen. Why aren’t we all braver in our day-to-day lives? Our tendency to be safe, to not take risks in life is a failure to trust that God will hand reaching for heavennever let you tackle something that you cannot accomplish, because with Him all things are possible. It may not happen right away and you may not recognize the hand of God in what transpires. Often you will feel like the door to the opportunity has been slammed shut and God has abandoned you; however, as William Branks put it – “When God closes a door He does not always open a window. Sometimes He wants you to sit in the quiet darkness while He transforms your fear into trust. How long that takes, is often up to you!”

Others may go through life without letting fears slow them down, but also not stopping to appreciate the help that God has provided them in their success. For these people life is just a joyous happenstance and maybe God was along for the ride because of their faith. I love the way that Albert Einstein characterized God’s presence in their lives – alone at sunset“Coincidence is God’s way of remaining anonymous.” So if you’ve made it through life with one happy coincidence after another, maybe you should take some time to reflect on that, too. Perhaps you just never have taken the time to characterize your great good fortune as the hand of God in your life.

There are two takeaways here –

“Trust in the Lord with all your heart; do not depend on your own understanding. Seek his will in all you do and he will show you which path to take.” – Proverbs 3:5-

And, once you have come to the place of trust in God;

“Don’t ask God to guide your steps if you’re not willing to move your feet.” – Unknown

Taking that next step is still up to you. Trust in God and move your feet.