Good luck today…

August 8, 2017

This little saying from the Dalia Lama is a wonderful way to see life – “Remember that not getting what you want is sometimes a wonderful stroke of luck.”

The landfills of America and the garage sales in your neighborhood are filled with things that someone “wanted” and just had to have. We sometimes even pray for the things that we want, when we should be thanking God for providing the things that we need.

Wanting things, desiring things and obsessing over getting things is both a waste of our time and ultimately fruitless. As soon as we obtain whatever it is that we have been chasing goalchasing, some other shiny thing catches our attention and off we go again. Most people will probably admit that getting the thing of our desires was not as satisfactory as they thought that it might be. In fact, quite often, they will say that the pursuit was the real satisfying part. But, is the pursuit of material things that we don’t really care about once that are obtained really a good use of our time?

Perhaps the stroke of luck that the Dalia Lama was talking about comes along with the realization that the object of that desire was not all that important in the grand scheme of things. That allows you to move on to thinking about what is important in life. I’ve posted here in the past about the importance of interpersonal relationships and making others feel good (see https://normsmilfordblog.com/2017/07/24/be-unforgettable-today-in-a-good-way/)

Why do you think doing things to help others or make them feel better also makes you Gods work our handsfeel better? We have a little saying in the ELCA church that is used in many churches – “God’s work, our hands.” The real significance of that saying is that, by doing those things that need to be done in your community to help others, you bring yourself closer to God by becoming the hands through which He achieves his miraculous work. This world that we live in is the job site and God is the site manager, doling out the jobs that need to be done and helping direct their accomplishment. You can’t find a better boss to work for and the benefits are great, both now and later.

So, the next time that you don’t get something that you’ve been wishing for, take the time to thank God and ask Him what it is he has in mind for you to do. Not only will it help put that disappointment out of your mind; but, it will give your life new purpose and probably result in an experience that will end up as a fond memory rather than a garage sale item. Good luck today!


Listen and help, listen and learn…

August 5, 2017

Two quotes from recent posts to the Jack’s Winning Words blog seem to fit together nicely to illustrate the benefits of being a good listener.

“All people want is someone to listen.”  (Hugh Elliott)

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“A good listener is not only popular everywhere, but after a while he gets to know something.”  (Wilson Mizner)

It seems like there are nightly stories on the news shows about people complaining that no one in their local government is listening to them or at least ignoring what they have to say. Much of the psychiatric and psychological practices in modern medicine aredebaters based upon careful listening. It would seem that many of the problems in politics today could be attributed to the two main sides not taking time to listen to the other. In our daily lives we encounter many opportunities to listen to others; but, how many of us really put the effort into listening, rather than getting ready for the next things that we want to say?

We often greet others with trite little sayings for which we don’t really expect much of an answer, and certainly not a full conversation. Saying “Hi. How are you?” is not really an invitation for the other party to go into an in-depth medical report. However, seeing someone you know who has been through something in their life that was disruptive and saying something like “How have you been since you go out of the hospital?” is an handshakeinvitation to a conversation and an expression of concern and care about that person. That conversation will deserve a good listener and there will be therapeutic value in the attention that you pay to the other party. They may rally need to share with someone who is willing to listen.

The other potential benefit of being a good listener is that you learn things and it builds you knowledge base. Good listening is a constant process of hearing, evaluating, sorting and storing or discarding the information that you hear. Listening is not considered to be as strong of a learning experience as seeing and perhaps that is because so few people really listen well. It takes commitment and concentration to listen well. That means that you suspend for the moment your thoughts about what you want to say next and focus on that is being said by the other party. For most of us that is a hard thing to do.

In poker the players watch the others in the game intently looking for what are called “tells”, which are visual clues that manifest themselves in the other players’ facial expression or body language to give away whether they have a good or maybe are just bluffing. In conversations there are “tells” that indicate whether the other person isarrogant really listening to you or just thinking about their next opportunity to speak. You can see their lack of eye contact or the expression on their face. It’s that look of, “Oh God, I really didn’t want to hear about your problems; I’ve got problems of my own.” Good listeners will be paying close attention to your words and may interject some words of encouragement or understanding as you speak. Good listeners may also ask questions about the topic that you were expounding upon, because they are processing the information and want to learn more about it.

listenAre you a good listener? Do you commit to listen when engaging others in conversation or do you just do join the conversation so that you can interject your point of view without real regard for their position? That is the unfortunate situation in the political environment in our county today. The Bible has this to say about those who do not listen, but only want to talk. “A fool takes no pleasure in understanding, but only in expressing his opinion.” – Proverbs 18:2.

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“If one gives an answer before he hears, it is his folly and shame.” – Proverbs 18:13

Don’t be the fool who dos not listen, but chimes in with his/her answer before the question is complete. Take the time to listen. The speaker will appreciate it and you may even learn something. Have a great weekend.


Keep God as the one constant in your life…

August 4, 2017

The only thing constant about life is that there are no constants…everything changes – that’s vaguely what the ancient philosopher Heraclitus was alluding to when he said that “life is flux”.

 

Every now and then I stop and think about how things, little things, change in my life from day to day or week to week. For a while I was going to gym and working out every day. Then it became three times a week and now it is maybe 2-3 times a week. It’s not that I consciously decided to stop going all the time, but life changed and I got too busy to women looking at watchgo every day and then too busy to go 3 times a week and now I really have to make a special effort to go twice a week.

 

The same thing happened to my blogging. For a while I was posting to this blog every day, then maybe 3-4 times a week, then maybe 1-2 times a week and now maybe 1-2 ties every two weeks. I didn’t stop loving to do blog posts, but I ran out to time because I let other things take precedence over spending that hour to write a post.

 

There are many other examples that I could expound upon and many examples in your life that might come to your mind. Life changes and our daily routines change with it, sometimes causing things that we used to like to do to fall by the wayside. Our faith and churchthe practice of it in our daily lives can become victims of life’s changes and distractions, if we don’t make a special effort to recognize God as the central constant in our lives.  For most that means taking time out once a week to attend church.

 

I’ve posted here a couple of times (perhaps the posts might be considered to have been rants) about the hegemony of sports, especially youth sports, on the practice of religion in America. We certainly didn’t see that change coming.  Whole families are taken away from church because of soccer or female soccer playerbaseball or other sports (hockey in the winter) that are now played or practiced on Sunday mornings. One could hope that somehow the families involved took time later in the day to home school their children on the importance of God and religion in their lives, but I suspect that is more of a dream than a real hope.

 

So why make God the one constant in our lives? I would ask in reply to that question; what else do we have, if not God, to serve as an anchor, a constant, in our lives?  God is the only thing that we can imagine or point to that never changes. Our beliefs may waiver and our minds may wander from time to time; but, every time that we turn back to God, He is the same. He never leaves us and He never stops loving us, even as we wander away, distracted by other demands in our lives.me

 

It is worthwhile to take a moment each day and at least acknowledge that fact, that God is the one constant, in our lives. Just reaching out to God as the touchstone in our lives on a daily basis will serve to keep us grounded in values that will also serve us well in meeting life’s challenges. I have shared here before the very simple, yet immensely powerful little prayer that I use to reach out to God – “Not my will, but thy will be done.” That simple little sentence incorporates belief, acceptance, surrender, and hope all in one phrase and is a great start to any day. Try it yourself. It will help you keep God as the one constant in your life and you will begin each day unburdened by the concerns and fears that you just handed off to God.


You’ve got a job to do…being you.

August 1, 2017

I love this little quote from a recent post on the Jack’s Winning Word blog – Dr Seuss said, “There’s no one alive who’s Youer than You.” 

 

That’s true and it’s important to realize each day that you have a job to do that day just being you. Why is that important? Just think of the consequences of there not being a you. The 1946 Christmas movie “It’s a Wonderful Life” explored that theme and showed the main character how important his life was in the lives of those around him. We don’t all have an angel to show us the importance of our life in the lives of others, but just think about it for a while and you’ll realize how different things might be in the lives of others around us if we weren’t here.

 

The same is true of all of us and you need to start each day by appreciating the fact that this-is-meyou have a job to do just being the best you that you can be, because it has an impact on those around you. If you can be happy and upbeat, you will help those around you have a better attitude, too. It’s also important that you not waste time trying to be someone else or what you think someone else wants you to be. Let them be them and you be you; it’s what you have to do.

 

So start each day by looking in the mirror and saying, “I’m going to be the best me that I can be today. After all there’s no one me-er than me.” And, should I encounter you, I’llsmiling woman say “How do you do” and appreciate that there’s no one Youer than you.

 

Have a great week.