Keep them guessing…

July 26, 2022

Today’s quote is a good reminder to sometimes just stay silent and smile – “Always remember: Silence and smile are two very powerful tools.” (Paulo Coelho)

In today’s noisy and often acrimonious world there is way too little silence and too few smiles. Remaining silent in the face of loud complaints or expressions of opinion often gives the other person pause to consider what they just said? Did I not understand what they said or maybe do I not agree? And why am I smiling at them? They just don’t know.

Many times, people who are loudly proclaiming something are really looking for acceptance and reinforcement of their opinion. They do not find that in silence as a response to their rant and that is jarring to their confidence. And then, there is that smile. What does that mean? Am I smiling because I think they just said something that is completely stupid? Maybe I’m just smiling out of pity for someone who can be so far off the mark. They just don’t know.

So, keep Coelho’s advice in mind the next time that you are in a situation, perhaps one that is emotionally charged, that seems to dictate a response from you. Use the most powerful tools that you have – your silence and a smile. Keep them guessing.

There is another saying that applies, too. “Better to remain silent and be thought a fool than to speak and to remove all doubt.” That saying has been variously attributed to Mark Twain and Abraham Lincoln. Seldom these days do people jump to the conclusion that someone who remains silent is a fool. Rather they become concerned that they may have just made a fool of themselves. Keep them guessing.

Who are you becoming? Keep your hopes alive.

July 24, 2022

I saw this quote recently and just loved it, because it is such a great positive message of hope –

“I have hope in who I am becoming.”  (Charlotte Erikson)

Shortly after saving that quote, I got this graphic in a daily email that I get –

What a great message it carries, too.

I don’t think that you necessarily have to come to a cathartic event, such as entering the chrysalis state like the caterpillar does when it turns into a butterfly, in order to change and become the butterfly that you hope to be. The point is to consciously decide to make the commitment to the changes in your life that will alter the trajectory of it. Commit to turning into the new you.

Women may find the illusion to changing into a butterfly easier to accept than men, but the point is not one of changing one’s outer beauty so much as the inner you changing to become a better and more beautiful person inside – a person that others want to be around and an example for others to follow.

Maybe you can start each day with a little prayer such as,” God give me the strength and perseverance to become the person that I know that I can be.”  Just putting yourself in that frame of mind each morning will make each day better and get you one step closer to who you are becoming.

So, have hope in who you are becoming and welcome the change; not into a butterfly, but into the new and improved you. It’s a beautiful thing.

Do you have useful purpose in your life?

July 22, 2022

I saved these quotes over time, and they seem to go well together:

“The important thing is that men should have a purpose in life. It should be something useful, something good.”  (Dalai Lama)

“The purpose of life is to be useful to be honorable to be compassionate to have it make some difference that you have lived and lived well.”  (Ralph Waldo Emerson)

I suppose that most people don’t view their lives as being useless. After all they work and support themselves, and perhaps others. That would seem to be useful, but I think the Dalai Lama and Emerson both had something else in mind when they said that we need to be useful.

The purpose that both had in mind was to be doing things for others or to make life better for others. But why?

In Philippians 2:2-8 we read – “Do nothing from selfish ambition or conceit, but in humility regard others as better than yourselves. Let each of you look not to your own interests, but to the interests of others. Let the same mind be in you that was in Christ Jesus, who, though he was in the form of God, did not regard equality with God as something to be exploited, but emptied himself, taking the form of a slave, being born in human likeness. And being found in human form, he humbled himself and became obedient to the point of death—even death on a cross.” 

Another Bible interpretation of being useful is to bear the fruit of the vine.

In John 15 we read that Jesus said – “I am the true vine, and my Father is the vinedresser. Every branch in me that does not bear fruit he takes away, and every branch that does bear fruit he prunes, that it may bear more fruit. Already you are clean because of the word that I have spoken to you. Abide in me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit by itself, unless it abides in the vine, neither can you, unless you abide in me. I am the vine; you are the branches. Whoever abides in me and I in him, he it is that bears much fruit, for apart from me you can do nothing.”

What is the fruit of the vine?

The fruit of the vine and the fruit of the Spirit are the same and we are told –

“The fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, generosity, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control…” (Galatians 5:22-23)

So, in this sense, the purpose of our lives is to live in such a way that we share those attributes with our fellow man. By doing so we will make their lives better and fulfill the purpose that both the Dalai Lama and Emerson had in mind.

Don’t let the Bible quotes comparing what your actions to those of Christ intimidate you. The intent is that you learn from the life of Christ and try to emulate it as best you can by being conscious of the fruits of the Spirit and practicing them in your day-today life. Each day you can look at that list from Galatians and turn each item on that list into an action statement for your life that day, i.e. “I will show kindness to others” or “I will be patient with others” or maybe “I will exercise self-control when dealing with others.”

If you consciously do those things each day, you will be doing useful things by making the lives of others better. You will have purpose in your life and your life will be better, too.

Live well. Have purpose.

Leave your shadow behind…

July 21, 2022

In yesterday’s post to his Blog, Jack’s Winning Words, Pastor Freed used this old German proverb – “Come on, jump over your shadow.” Pastor Freed explained in his post how it was used originally to challenge someone to take risks.

Our shadows might be seen as a metaphor for our fears or maybe our reputation; so, leaving it behind allows us to try new things. The thing about shadows is that we seldom think of them, they are just there, following us around, much like the fears and prejudices that follow us around and limit our experiences. I can imagine how someone could see their shadow as being something that holds them back. We do not try new things because we are afraid of unintended consequences. We do not meet new people because they are different from us, and we allow our fears or prejudices to hold us back. Come on, jump over your shadow.

Our “shadow” might also be used to refer to our reputation, or at least what we think is our reputation – the shadow of our self-perception. This is the perception that others have or us or maybe that we have of ourselves. Perhaps we see ourselves as introverted and shy, so we avoid doing things that many others do because, “we just don’t do things like that” – we are afraid to even try. Yet something in us is shouting the old German proverb – Come on, jump over your shadow.

Maybe we are conscientious that we avoid certain people, not because of who they are but what they are – a different color, a different look, a different way of speaking, something “different” from us. That is the shadow of our unfounded fears and prejudices following us around. Every time that shadow yells “Don’t talk to them”, another voice in the back of your mind that longs to know more about them is saying, “Come on, jump over your shadow.”

At work we may not be happy with our job or position in the company, but we hesitate to talk to our managers about getting ahead or doing something different and potentially more rewarding. Maybe it is a fear of being fired or maybe just a lack of confidence in our on ability to perform a different job. Yet we hear that nagging little voice saying, “Come on, jump over your shadow.”

Whatever our reason for holding ourselves back in life and in relationships, we need to find the courage to heed the old German proverb. Perhaps we can find the courage that we need in ISAIAH 41:8-10 –

“So do not fear, for I am with you; do not be dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you and help you; I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.”

Maybe you can refocus away from fear and upon the positives of your faith:

 “For God gave us a spirit not of fear but of power and love and self-control.” (2 TIMOTHY 1:7)

Whatever your motivation, summon up your faith and assert your self-control. There are wonderful people and great opportunities just beyond the shadows of fear and prejudice that are holding you back. “Come on, jump over your shadow”

Change you and change the world…

July 15, 2022

In today’s post to his blog, Jack’s Winning Words, Pastor Freed used this quote – “We’re told that ‘You can’t change the world.’, but the world is changing every day.  The only question is…Who’s changing it?  You or someone else?”  (J. Michael Straczynski)

That quote almost immediately brought to mind the quote, “Be the change that you want to see in the world.” That quote is often mistakenly attributed to Mahatma Gandhi; but, according to Quote Investigator, what Gandhi actually said was:

“We but mirror the world. All the tendencies present in the outer world are to be found in the world of our body. If we could change ourselves, the tendencies in the world would also change. As a man changes his own nature, so does the attitude of the world change towards him.”

Gandhi passed away in 1948, and Quote Investigator went on to report that the first sources of the abbreviated quote appeared many years later in 1974 within a self-help book chapter written by educator Arleen Lorrance. It was called the Love Project and stated:

One way to start a preventative program is to be the change you want to see happen.”

Quote Investigator wne on to state that it took a couple of years more — until 1987 — when a Santa Fe, New Mexico Newspaper article about a self-help group organized by Mary Lou Cook was quoted as saying that the inspiration to form such a group came from a statement by Gandhi: “You must be the change you want to see in the world.”

The attribution of that quote to Gandhi has stuck ever since, even though he never said it in that way.

Even so, Gandhi’s thought that we control the change in the world by controlling our reactions to those change puts us back in control of the change that is going on in the world. Change happens every day all over the world and you see or experience only a tiny bit of it. The key to the impact that you will have on the changes that are occurring is your conscious effort to react to them. One can benignly accept the changes that are occurring or one can choose to do something about them – either in a positive and reinforcing way for changes that we agree with, or with a negative and resistive effort to fight against those changes with which we disagree.

So, how you “be the change that you want to see in the world” is that you react to those changes by making changes of your own to your own life. You become an activist, rather than standing passively by and watching the changes occur. Maybe you take up a sign and join a march for or against something. Maybe you volunteer to work for the election of someone. Maybe you donate to a cause to join a fund-raising effort for that cause. The point is that you react to those changes and by reacting you cause change in yourself and in the world.

So, it turns out that you are the change that you were hoping to see in the world. Start with you. Change your attitude to the things happening in the world around you and you will see the world differently because you changed. Additionally, the world will see you differently.

Change you and change the world.

What will you make of your day?

July 11, 2022

In a recent post to the Jack’s Winning Words blog, Pastor Freed used this quote – “Today is a great day to have a great day!”  (Tag seen on a tea bag)

I’m sure that someone said that before it ended up on a tea bag, but the author was lost in history.

The quote points out that every day can be a great day if you start out in the right frame of mind. One can get into that right frame of mind by first pausing in the morning to thank God for giving you another day.

“A grateful heart is a beginning of greatness. It is an expression of humility. It is a foundation for the development of such virtues as prayer, faith, courage, contentment, happiness, love, and well-being.” (James E. Faust)

Have a great day.

Without spending too much time, one can look ahead at the day and get some organization in mind – what are the important things that you could focus some time on and maybe in what order; what things need to be set aside for later, so that they don’t waste your time today; what things just need to be discarded.

“The price of greatness is responsibility.” (Winston Churchill)

Have a great day.

Some of the things that you may wish to devote some time on today are long-term in nature, so you need to be happy just getting one more step in the process done today and not become frustrated with not getting to the finish line today. Yoi can get some things done today and, as you accomplish each one, take time to celebrate those small victories. Great things are often made up of many small, good things.

“Greatness comes by doing a few small and smart things each and every day. Comes from taking little steps, consistently. Comes from a making a few small chips against everything in your professional and personal life that is ordinary, so that a day eventually arrives when all that’s left is The Extraordinary.” (Robin S. Sharma)

Have a great day.

Maybe today is one that you have been thinking about (perhaps dreading) for some time; maybe a day when you have to do something that you would rather not have to do. Steel yourself before you start by visualizing the outcome that you desire to happen and then make that outcome happen. Things never go as badly as our imaginations conjure up and often go better than we had hoped.

“Just do what must be done. This may not be happiness, but it is greatness.” (George Bernard Shaw)

Have a great day.

Whatever your day has in store, never forget that you are in charge of you and how you act and react during the day. You do not have to let the event of the day control you.

“As human beings, our greatness lies not so much in being able to remake the world – that is the myth of the atomic age – as in being able to remake ourselves.” (Mahatma Gandhi)

Today is a great day to have a great day!

Listen for Hope’s song…

July 8, 2022

Pastor Freed recently used this quote in his blog, Jack’s Winning Words – “Hope is the thing with feathers that perches in the soul and sings the tune without the words and never stops at all.”  (Emily Dickenson)

Sometimes it can be very hard to hear Hope’s little song amidst the calliope of news about hateful acts of deceit or violence that we are overwhelmed with each day; but it is still there. One must consciously pause and search the soul for its presence. Sometimes, we call that pause prayer.

Why take time for prayer each day?

“Our physical, emotional, and spiritual health requires rest. We need to take a break. We need to nurture ourselves. To take a time out to refuel, rejuvenate, and revive ourselves.”

― Dana Arcuri

“Prayer is perpetual rejuvenate force.”

― Lailah Gifty Akita

Prayer gives one the chance to hear Hope’s song. If you listen very carefully to Hope’s little song you may also realize that Hope is singing a duet with Faith, the other little feathered thing that resides in the soul. Hope and Faith always sing together in prayer.

There was a 1960’s song written by John Lennon and Yoko Ono titled, “Give Peace a Chance”. Perhaps in this day and age we need a new song titled, ”Give Hope a Chance”.

So, if your world gets too noisy and overwhelming, take time to rejuvenate by finding a quiet little place (literally or figuratively) to pray and listen for the little song of hope and faith that is there in the back of your mind.

Give Hope a chance.