Find your way to peace in the present

September 21, 2019

In today’s post to his Jack’s Winning Words blog, Jack used this little saying that he saw on a Burger King crown –  “No one’s happy all the time…and that’s OK.” 

Jack must have seen that crown in May of this year, when Mental Health Month was celebrated in the United States. We see mental health advice or tips in many places, mostly in cheery little messages that are trying to chase the blues away. It is more realistic to say, as Burger King did, that we all have ups and downs and that it is OK to be down a little, so long as you don’t allow yourself to spiral all the way down into depression. In fact, poking a little fun at being down can often help relieve some of the tension that comes with being down.

A down feeling can result from many causes – a failure or defeat at work, the loss of a loved one, the end of a relationship and many other causes. In most cases the thing that you are down about was always out of your ability to control, but was all have a tendency to think that we could have done something different to effect the outcome and change history – we get down on ourselves.

That feeling of guilt stems from the thoughts that we could have done something different noticed something sooner or made a different choice or decision. Those thoughts can keep us awake at night going over and over the scenarios in our minds that will forever remained as options that we did not choose.

Sometimes our down mood is not about the past, but about the future – we play out option after option in our mind, fearing that the worst that we can imagine is going to happen. We spend restless nights in mental anguish fearing things that will never happen.

Chinese philosopher Lao Tzu had this bit of philosophical advice –

“If you are depressed you are living in the past.

If you are anxious you are living in the future.

If you are at peace you are living in the present.

Lao-Tzu  was a Chinese philosopher believed to have lived in the 6th Century BC and is credited with founding the philosophical system of Taoism, which stresses being in harmony with nature.

The best way that one can be at peace in the present is be at peace with God. Accept that God’s will has been done in the past and trust that it will be done in the future. Rather than lament what is past or fear what is in the future, marvel at what God is unfolding for you in the present.

Focus your attention on the wonderful people that he is causing to cross your path, so that you might experience them. Become more aware of, and thankful for, the wonders of nature that God has put all around you. Be thankful for the challenges that God is presenting to you to keep your life interesting. Make use of your time to learn and to increase your knowledge. Put 100% of your mental and physical effort into the moment at hand, rather than wasting either on things that are past or which may be in the future. 

Many find the Bible to be the best guide book for life and in the Bible we find these words –

“Peace I leave with you; my peace I give to you. Not as the world gives do I give to you. Let not your hearts be troubled, neither let them be afraid.” –  John 14:27

Find your way to peace in the present.

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You can’t deny it, so deal with it…

September 18, 2019

The first stage of grief is often defined as denial, the “I can’t believe that he/she is gone” or “I can’t believe that this happened” stage. That is also the first stage (maybe the precursor is a better description) of dealing with problems in life. Recently this quote appeared in the Jack’s Winning Words blog –

“When you confront a problem, you begin to solve it.”  (Rudy Giuliani)

Zig Zigler put it slightly differently – “ The first step in solving a problem is to recognize that it does exist.”

I’ve posted here a few times about problem solving (see Problem Solving 101) and there are lots of great posts and article on line about how to resolve a problem, once you have identified it. There are fewer things devoted to recognizing the problem in the first place.

Confronting the problem means acknowledging that it exists. For many it is that first step that is missing. They can’t see the problem, especially if it is them – how they are acting in or living their life.  Spousal abusers seldom see what they are doing as controlling or manipulative, much less as abusive. Addicts become too focused upon the next high to deal with their addiction. Sometimes it is hubris, as much as anything else that clouds the judgement of the problem; the arrogant and self-important people of the world see things that are considered wrong by others as rights or entitlements. For these people, who can’t see that they have a problem or that they are the problem, interventions by family or friends is often the only way to get them to confront the problem.

If denial is the first stage precursor to dealing with a problem, many times it is quickly replaced by excuses. The immediate response to any threat is fight or flight and excuses provide a little of both by providing a way  to deflect blame for the problem by claiming that it someone else’s fault or caused by someone else. The wife beater may blame the actions of his wife to justify the beating with the comment that “she deserved it”. It is also easy to shift the blame for ones actions on some nebulous entity, such as society or everybody.

Do you remember what your mom told when you used the excuse that “everybody is doing it” to justify something stupid that you did as a youth? That advice still applies to your adult life. You can’t ignore or deny a problem that you might have by citing that excuse. Maybe the “everybody” that you know and to whom you are referring to is a big part of your problem.  Recent Chevrolet commercials have used the tag line “Find new roads”; maybe you need to “Find new friends”.

Perhaps the third stage as a precursor to solving problems in your life is the feeling of isolation or loneliness that overcome you. It is a very lonely feeling when you have that “aha” moment and realize that you have a problem and that problem is within you. All of a sudden, everyone else seems to drop away and you are standing there by yourself with your problem. Or are you? That is the time when your faith can provide you with the support and strength to carry on. You are not alone. You are never alone. God is always there with you and ready to help. You just need to ask.

If you can get to that stage, where you ask God for help with your problem, you have broken through the stages of denial and blame and started to deal with the problem. That is huge!  It is likely that the problem is not resolved just because you have taken that first step, but you are on your way in a new direction (the right direction).  You have taken ownership and sought help. It may be that you need the help of others – therapists or councilors – but you already have God at your side, so that part is easier.

When you reach this stage, you should feel good about yourself, maybe for the first time in a long time. You may still find the next few steps in the problem solving process to be difficult, but they are rewarding as well. The problem is no longer in control of you. Now you are in control of the process to resolve it. Congratulations.

Start your day by asking for God’s help with whatever problems you have (or have been denying). Your day will go much better.


And for all the times in between?

September 13, 2019

In today’s post to the Jack’s Winning Words blog, Jack got philosophical with this quote from Wolfgang Goethe – “Enjoy when you can, and endure when you must.” 

However, what about all of the times between the joys and the not so enjoyable things, which must be endured, i.e. your normal day-to-day life? The philosophy embodied by the British saying, “Keep Calm and Carry On” seems most applicable to those times and actually serves the highs and lows of life very well, too. For a Christian that British saying might be translated into Pray and Persist.

We often pray when we are under the duress of a problem or loss and we pray to thank God on the occasions when we have something to celebrate. But what of the time in between? We find guidance in the Bible –  Rejoice in hope, be patient in tribulation, be constant in prayer. (Romans 12:12)  

Prayer has a calming side effect, because it serves to offload from the practitioner the sole responsibility for resolving the issues that you are facing, whether they be things that must be endured or just common, everyday occurrences. Once you bring God into the picture through prayer, you no longer bear the weight of resolving those things by yourself.  Rejoice always, pray without ceasing, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you. (1 Thessalonians 5:16-18)

Since, before starting out on each day, one cannot predict the occurrences or tribulations that might happen; perhaps a short prayer for God to give you the calm and wisdom to make good decisions is a good way to begin each day. At least it puts you in the right frame of mind to face the day, with God on your side.

So, thank God for the things that you enjoy, ask for God’s help with the things that you must endure and pray for Him to guide you and be with you in all of the time in between. Pray without ceasing and have a great day!


Don’t let the uda’s get you…

September 11, 2019

Some people always seem to let the uda’s take over their lives …the propensity to keeping saying I coulda or woulda or shoulda, when they don’t do something. They should heed the advice of the quote in today’s Jack’s Winning Words blog – “The six W’s…Work Will Win When Wishing Won’t!”  (Todd Blackledge)

The law of Inertia in physics states that a body at rest stays at rest unless some external force is applied to it.  Usually what is holding it in place is friction or maybe just gravity, so the force applied must be great enough to overcome whatever is holding it in place. In the frictionless environment of outer space, even a very small force applied to an object will cause it to move.

We face many cases of mental or emotional inertia in our daily lives. We are most often held in place by fears, prejudices or simply ignorance. We avoid someone who does look like us and thus never meet one of the most interesting people we may ever encounter. We don’t go to certain places or attend certain events because we are afraid of some imagined outcome and our lives are less rich for the loss of exposure to those experiences. We don’t try new things because, well, we just don’t try new things… we go with what we know. We let the uda’s take over our lives.

So, how can we apply the advice of today’s quote to this situation? The key is found in the first word – we must work at it, so that we don’t end up wishing that we had done (or sometimes not done) something. For many the best way to work at overcoming their personal inertia and spring into action is through prayer.  Long before Nike adopted it as a slogan, the bible had this to say about prayer –

Just do it – quietly and unobtrusively. That is the way your God, who conceived you in love, working behind the scenes, helps you out… The focus will shift from you to God, and you will begin to sense his grace. – Matthew 5:4-6

Pray for the courage to try. Pray for an open mind to accept others as they are. Pray for patience and persistence in difficult pursuits. Pray for the willingness to accept temporary setbacks and learn from them. Pray, most of all, to be the person that God wants you to be this day.

You may find that the days go a lot better for you when you start them out in the right frame of mind by taking that time to pray before you set out for whatever is ahead. You will sense His grace throughout the day and that grace will take away the friction that preventing movement in your life.

So take the advice of Matthew or maybe of Nike and Just Do It! The laws of physics also state that a body in motion stays in motion. Overcome your personal inertia by starting your day with a little prayer to get you moving. Don’t let the uda’s get you.


Are you in good hands?

September 9, 2019

Today’s headline is the tag line from the Allstate Insurance commercial. If nothing else, it begs the questions of who or what controls your fate. Some people profess a belief in Karma –

kar·ma

noun

(in Hinduism and Buddhism) the sum of a person’s actions in this and previous states of existence, viewed as deciding their fate in future existences.

Others see their future actions as being somehow predetermined by destiny or fate. Some have the hubris to believe that they, alone, will determine their own future.

A Christian knows that his/her future is in good hands, because they have entrusted it to God. Whether they use these exact words or not when they pause to pray before the start of the day, they are secure in the thought – “Not my will, but thy will be done.” They can focus not upon railing against the event of the day; but, rather, figuring out how to act or react to what God has put on their plate.  They are also comforted by the thought that God has promised not to give them things that they cannot handle and to always be there with them.

As you start a new week, how will you answer the question, “Are you in good hands?” IF you already know the answer, then you are in the best hands.


What meals do you remember?

September 4, 2019

In today’s entry to the Jack’s Winning Words blog, Jack writes about his childhood memories of meals at home and used this quote – “As a child our family’s menu consisted of two choices: take it or leave it.”  (Buddy Hackett)

Of course, Jack’s post brought back a flood of memories from my own childhood and the meals that we used to get back then. On today’s restaurant menus, what passed for a salad in our house would be called a Wedge Salad; although when my mom was served it back then, itlettuce wedge only came with a spoonful of mayonnaise as a dressing. Chopping a wedge out of a head of lettuce was a quick and easy way to have a salad. Most of the time the salad might have consisted of orange Jell-O with shredded carrot in it or perhaps the always-popular canned mixed fruit (one always hoped to get the cherry slices).

Jack mentioned liver and onions and that was big at our house, too; although as a child I hated it. My dad was a hunter and during rabbit and bird seasons, there was sometimes game on the table – mostly rabbit. It was always a joke that whoever got a piece of bird shot in their portion won the prize for the night. If we had chicken, it was always a whole bird and there was always a “wishbone” to be pulled. My sister and I would each take an end and pull until it broke. Iwishbone have discovered later in life that there are two different interpretations of who wins when the wishbone breaks. At our house, it was the short piece that the rules declared was the winner and the loser could hang their piece on a doorknob. In other houses it was apparently the longer piece that won.

Vegetables that were served with meals were most often canned – corn, peas, green beans, mixed peas and carrots, black-eyed peas, butter beans and the ever popular creamed corn. During the summer, we might actually have some fresh vegetables, especially snap beans or butter beans, and corm on the cob was a favorite. Occasionally, mom might cook up some greens (collard greens or spinach with bacon grease) as a nod to her southern heritage.

Desserts were rare, with Jell-O cubes again being a favored go-to for mom or occasionally ice cream – it seemed almost always to be Neapolitan. Of course there was the occasional pie or cake (angel food or pineapple upside down cake seemed to be the favorites at our watermelonhouse. In the summer months, a watermelon often served as dessert and we had fun spitting seeds to see who could launch them the furthest. The fall usually meant pumpkin pies and the occasional mincemeat pie or a shoofly pie (my dad was Pennsylvania Dutch, so that was a favorite of his). If all else failed, mom would just shift the canned fruit salad from the salad course to the dessert course.

What meals do you remember from your childhood? Do you remember when TV dinners were introduced and became a big thing? Have you ever eaten a TV dinner?How about fish sticks ( the go-to for fish for myTV dinners mom)?  Can you remember back before pizzas were available everywhere? What was your favorite “take out” family meal back then? Do you recall what it was like for the whole family to gather for dinner and not have a TV going or everyone looking at their phones?

Many of us have fond memories or maybe just vivid memories of childhood meals – loved or hated. What meals do you remember from your childhood?  As a matter of fact, how many of you even remember Buddy Hackett? Thanks Jack, for bringing back fond childhood memories.