What do you see?

July 29, 2019

In today’s Jack’s Winning Words blog this quote is used – “I shut my eyes in order to see.”  (Paul Gauguin).

Jack went on to write about imagination and seeing “in the mind’s eye”. He even referenced John Lennon and his song Imagine, which he wrote as he imagined world peace for a world that seems to be constantly at war.

Athlete’s, especially those at the highest levels of their sport often use “visualization”, Tiger Woodswhich is a form of imagining to “see” the play or shot that they are about to try, in order to practice and perfect it in their minds. Note that imagination starts with the same root as image – the visualization of something.

man daydreamingMany of us likely spend some time imagining what we might do with the money as we buy our Lottery tickets. It is amazing how generous we can be in our minds with imaginary money. I wonder how many would carry through on that imagined generosity if they actually won. I wonder what I would do?

For many, a time of prayer is also a time when we close our eyes, so that we can “see”. What we are looking for is our imagined image of God. With the exception of those who saw Jesus when He was on earth, no one has actually seen God; so we all try to imaginepraying what He will look like.

There is a tendency for people to use the phrase “the face of God”, but that is limiting your imagination to your own human frame of reference. Why do we limit ourselves to imagining that God looks like us? How egotistical is that?

There is a cute commercial running right now about Chees-zits crackers in which one character tries to quiet a big wheel of cheese by putting his hand over what would be the location of a mouth on a human face. The wheel of cheese exclaims, “You think I have a mouth. I’m a wheel of cheese.” Perhaps God is saying to us, “You think I look like you? I’m God!” Let your imagination soar. Get outside the limits of your human existence and “see” God.

woman-prayingSo, close your eyes and look for God. Perhaps it is in closing our eyes and shutting off the key way that we see and perceive the real world around us that we allow our minds to imagine the God that is not of this world, but of the world to come. Let your imagination take you there. Perhaps along the way your imagination will encounter “the peace that passes all understanding” – Philippians 4:7.

Close your eyes and pray. What do you see? Can you see God?


Same old, same old…

July 22, 2019

Do you ever feel like you’re in a rut… that each day is just like the last – same old, same old? Are your routines and habits starting to feel like prisons that keep you from experiencing new things – same old, same old? Maybe it’s preconceived notions or even prejudices that keep you from meeting new and different people – same old, same old. Maybe you are locked into an unsatisfying job, or personal relationship and don’t see any way out – same old, same old.

worried1At the root of all of those scenarios may be the same cause – lack of self-confidence. Perhaps the reason that the walls of the rut that you feel you are in are so dauntingly tall is that you lack the confidence in yourself to overcome those obstacles and experience new things. Confidence can be a fleeting thing and it came be influenced by others. Vince Lombardi said – “Confidence is contagious.  So is lack of confidence.”

Perhaps you caught your lack of confidence by being around others who were not confident in themselves – siblings or friends.  Maybe you were told as a child that you would never amount to anything or that you looked funny and you believe it because itbully.png was coming from a parent or other adult. Maybe you were bullied and never overcame that fear. It could be that you were not encouraged to try again when you failed at something as a child. Whatever the reason, if you now find yourself stuck in a rut and you really want to find a way out and take a different path in life; maybe it’s time to find your confidence.

The foundation upon which confidence is built is self-love. I’ve posted here a few times about loving yourself before you can love others (see Look within first). The same thoughts that I posted about being able to love others by first loving yourself apply to this-is-mebuilding self-confidence. You can’t be confident in yourself if you don’t like yourself. When I was in Corporate life I took a transactional relationships  course called  “I’m OK, You’re OK” which was based upon the work of Anthony Thomas Harris in his book of the same name. The course taught one how to analyze any social interaction from the perspective on understand where you are coming from and where the other person is coming from. One precept of the course was identifying and accepting yourself and your starting point of view. I would add that you not only need to accept who you are, but also love who you are.

The key to accepting and loving yourself is first to accept the love of God. If you believegods-hands-2 that God loves your and accepts you as you are, nothing else matters. God’s love for you provides the foundation upon which you can base your love for yourself and your confidence in yourself. After all, we read in Romans 8:31 – “If God is with us, who can be against us?” How confidence building is that?

In 1945, Gen. Robert Lee Scott Jr. wrote a book that was later made into a movie titled – God Is My Co-Pilot.  Maybe that is a good way to build confidence in yourself, knowing that God right there with you. Make God your co-pilot and you’ll never lack for confidence. Does that means that we will win or succeed every time? No; but, it does mean that God will give us the self-confidence and strength to persevere and keep trying. It does mean that God still loves us, even if we fail.

woman-prayingTo close the circle on this post; you can get out of the same old, same old ruts that you may find yourself in; but first, you must find your self-confidence. A good place to look for that is in prayer. You may find that like the Lion and the Scarecrow and the Tin Man in the Wizard of OZ, you had it in you all the while; you just needed God’s love to let it out.

Have a self-confident day! Who can be against you?


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.


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.