One needn’t be blissfully ignorant

August 21, 2020

In today’s installment of the comic strip Pearls Before Swine the character Pig, when asked why he is so happy, replies, “I have chosen to become woefully uninformed.”

It is tempting to be like Pig and ignore the news that swirls all around us like a California wildfire. Yet one does not have to become uninformed or blissfully ignorant in order to be happy. In fact, I suspect that becoming woefully uninformed might leave one in an anxious state of concern about the unknown, sort of like a camper sitting around the fire listening to the sounds all around in the darkness and wondering about what (or who) is making them. Ignorance is not a state of comfort or bliss.

It is also not possible for one to know what is going on around them and yet not react to those things in any way. One must not be oblivious, but rather be mindful of those things and chose to react in a calm and reasoned way. The calm part of that response is important, because it allows and facilitates the reasoned response part. People who react to events in panic seldom make wise decisions and usually end up making things worse for themselves ands others.

But, how does one make calm, rational decisions?

I have opined here before about the need to make wise decisions and the usefulness of asking God for help in that process. I think I recommended adding a line to your prayers asking God to “help me make good decisions today”. Perhaps I should have added the phrase “help me to remain calm and” to the front end of that little prayer. Being calm equates to being at peace with yourself and your relationship to God. I know that I have related here the little phrase that local pastor Doug McMunn from the Milford United Methodist Church uses all the time – “be at peace”.  Jesus used the phrase “Peace be with you” (John 20:19) when he met with his disciples after his resurrection. Earlier in John 14:27 He said, “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.”

Perhaps then, we should pray to first experience the peace that our belief in Jesus gives us and then tackle the issues that we face, untroubled and unafraid. One need not be blissfully ignorant about what is going on in the world, but one can be blissfully confident about their ability to get through the troubles and tests with God’s help. So, when you see and hear the news or face a problem in your life, stop to reconnect with God and be at peace, then you will be prepared to deal with those things.

Being at peace before taking action also negates the kneejerk reaction of taking revenge or getting even for something that make have just happen to you – perhaps a social slight or hurtful remark by someone. Being at peace with God and yourself allows you to instead focus your concern on the reason for that action or remark- the pain or misunderstanding that motivated it from the other person. It allows you to reply in concerned love not in hate.  

So, start your day by being at peace with God and yourself through prayer. You do not have to become blissfully uninformed to be happy, but you do need to “be at peace”.

Don’t get on your own nerves…

April 30, 2015

“You know you’re really stressed when you start getting on your own nerves.”  From a recent post to the Jack’s Winning Words blog.

Sometimes I’ll do something stupid (more times than I care to admit) and then beat myself up about it. I suspect that we all do that from time to time; however, that’s really not a case of getting on my own nerves. I’m not sure that I’ve been stressed enough on get on my own mad at himself

I think today’s little saying has to do with people who talk to themselves a lot, but may not enjoy the conversations. Maybe it involves long conversations about self-doubt or perhaps just fears. Maybe the dialogues involve trying to talk yourself into or out of something that you are considering doing. I can see how that can become annoying after a while; especially of you let it go into the mode of beating yourself up about it.

It seems to me that stress builds or a situation becomes stressful, when you have no idea what to do about the situation or what to do next. Not knowing what will come next or what to do next fill you with anxiety, which can easily morph into stress. Then you may make the situation worse by getting down on yourself for not knowing what to do – not having a plan. Some situations do not lend themselves to easy or straightforward solutions. Some things are not easy to map out, understand and see a way towards a solution; however, shifting gears into solution finding mode is one of the best ways out of that stress and helps keep you from getting on your own nerves.

So, my advice is to shift into problem-solving mode. I’ve written here about that before – see

By switching gears from reaction mode into the action mode of problem solving you immediately regain a sense of control, if not control over the situation, at lease control over yourself and your reaction to the situation. You can then focus upon going through all of the steps to finding a solution.

girls huggingMany times you may be in situations where you can’t figure things out by yourself and the advice of others would be helpful. I wrote about that, too –

Sometimes you will hit stressful situations for which there is no solution. In those cases the best answer is not to continue the frustrating dialogue with yourself; but, rather to let go, admit that you will not resolve the situation by continued worry about it and seeking the peace that comes with turning to God for help. I wrote about that in –
So, don’t let things and stress go so long that you end up getting on your own nerves – take action, or ask a friend for helpsmiling man or find refuge in your faith  all of those dialogues will make for much more positive and helpful conversations that just getting on your own nerves.

Use your mind’s eye to find your happy place…

October 10, 2014

“The best and most beautiful things in the world cannot be seen, or even touched.  They must be felt within the heart.”  (Helen Keller) – from the Jack’s Winning Words blog.

Isn’t the imagery that we have created around parts of our bodies and how we “use” them in our everyday lives interesting? We say that we see things “in our mind’s eye.” We may make decisions based upon a feeling in our gut or perhaps in our heart. We may love people with all our heart.  We feel things with our heart. We try to “get our head around” things. We can be “touched” by others without physical contact.  We may say that the death of a loved one can make the heart ache; and, thinking of difficult things is sometimes said to make your head hurt.

We tend to use those to describe feelings that are deep and most of the time very emotional and we need a place brain mapto locate them within our physical existence, so we choose body parts.  I suppose that we are lucky that someone in antiquity choose the heart as the symbol for love and not our brains; otherwise, we might be delivering box of candy shaped like the brain. Of course modern science has been able to locate and map out the portions of our brains that are really involved in all of the emotions that we have and so far none of the maps have pointed to the heart or revealed a real eye in the brain.

But, let’s let go of science and accept things as we feel them. Helen Keller couldn’t see or hear, but she somehow came to understand the concept of beauty and could see them in her mind’s eye and feel them in her heart.  Even if you have normal eyesight there are things that you cannot see that you may have some feel for in your mind’s eye. Hypnotists sometimes help people find their “happy place”, somewhere that either they have been to in the past or a totally imaginary place that they can conjure up in their mind. With your eyes closed you can “see it” and feel the happiness that being there brings. Do you have a happy place that you go to when you need to? Usually they are quiet, comfortable and safe feeling places; many times they may even be places from your childhood memories. They cannot be touched or seen but they are felt in your heart and thus seen in your mind’s eye.

If you have never really tried to conjure up your “happy place”, I encourage you to do so. Having a refuge like that, which you can visit whenever you need to, can be a life changer (sometimes a life saver). Some people get Butterfliesto their happy place through a form of meditation; others may use prayer to get there. How you get there is less important that the fact that you can get there and that being there makes you feel better, more at peace and more able to cope. It’s not really so much about escaping whatever caused you to need to go there; it’s more about regaining control over the emotions of the situation, calming down, and getting back within yourself. While you are there, if you look around; you will likely also find the strength and the courage to persevere, once you have to return to your conscious life.

There also tend to be a lot of faith and hope to be found in your happy place. That gets back to getting back in control of your emotions. You can once again have hope, maybe based upon faith or maybe just based upon taking a calmer look at the situation.  Even if the situation is beyond hope, there is still faith; for it is faith that allows you to step off into the abyss that you can see knowing that you will not fall due to the power that you cannot see. It is so much easier to take the step of faith if you are already in your happy place and at peace.  women dreaming

So, get off by yourself this weekend; maybe with a little soft music in the background and a nice glass of wine, perhaps sitting in front of a crackling fireplace, and find your personal happy place. Go there. See it in your mind. Remember it and how to get there; then use it whenever life starts to overwhelm you or when emotions overtake you. It’s a beautiful place that you will feel in your heart.

Have a great weekend! I’ll see you next week. I’m off to my happy place for the weekend.

Three little words that will change your life…Let it be (12 of ?)

April 2, 2014

Sometimes the simplest little things can have big impact on our lives. In this series of posts I examine very short sentences (each just three words long) that can make a difference in your life. If you have a three word sentence that changed your life somehow, share it with me and I will share it with the world.

The Beatles song Let It Be is considered by many to be the best song ever written. Paul McCartney wrote it and Beatles recorded it in 1969, although it did not come out until after the Abbey Road album on the 1970 album Let be Album. McCartney has consistently claimed that he wrote the song with his mother Mary McCartney in mind. She had died when Paul was 14 and he had fond memories of her that come through in the song. Most thought that Mother Mary was a biblical reference to the Virgin Mary and McCartney has said that he’s OK with that. To listen to the song click here and to read the lyrics click here.

Lyricists are some of our best poets. Do you remember songs that made you cry or that made you happy? Maybe it is the “our song” of your first romance or the song that summed up the pain and emptiness of your first breakup. Do you remember the songs at your wedding? Songs can have and do have great impact on peoples lives. I still recall many of the songs that I found to be particularly meaningful at the time and several were by the Beatles.

While the advice in today’s three little words did make up the tag line of that famous Beatles song; that is not why heeding them can change your life. I’ve already written about being at peace and the wonderful benefits of that (see post 4 in this series). Sometimes you have to heed today’s advice before you can get to a state of peace, you have to Let It Be.

It is easier said than done to let some things be. Sometimes there is anger involved, so letting it be involves stopping and cooling down. Sometimes there is sadness involved and that may require that you cry it out before you can let it be. Sometimes it is disappointment or a let down and one must stop admit that the world did not just come to an end and you can let it be and get on with life. Sometimes it may actually be a happy occasion that you really don’t want to every end, but you must let it be and move it on to become a happy memory. Whatever it is or was, it has passed when you Let It Be.

Not all problems or issue in life have a solution, something that you can do to change things or make it right. There are things in life that must be dealt with, and I offered some advice on those in post # 8 in this series. Other things that you encounter or that happen to you are best handled by just finding the best way to cope and moving on – Let It Be.

We have also discussed in this series your role to be there for others (see the last  post).  If  the trouble is not about you but you are an observer of someone who is struggling with an issue, a loss or an intractable problem that has them down in the dumps, maybe you can be the one to whisper to them  the words of wisdom – Let It Be.

If you do that for someone else you may well find that there are now two people who are now ready to Be At Peace, because the first step to getting to a state of peace is often to Let It Be.

So, have a great day and if things occur that upset you…well you know what! Go play the song again. It will make you feel better.


Three little words that can change your life – Be at peace (4 of ?)

March 24, 2014

Sometimes the simplest little things can have big impact on our lives. In this series of posts I examine very short sentences (each just three words long) that can make a difference in your life. If you have a three word sentence that changed your life somehow, share it with me and I will share it with the world.

I’ve gotten to know Pastor Doug McMunn, the Pastor of the Milford United Methodist Church here in Milford through our involvement in the Huron Valley Chamber of Commerce (HVCC). I’m not a member of his church, but he and I are both members of the HVCC and he attends quite a few of our HVCC events, especially the coffee clubs on Friday mornings. Doug is just one of those people that it’s a pleasure to know. He is a very good listener and you get the impression when you are with him that he really cares about what it is you are saying, too.

I feature the events of his church on my web site – – in the Upcoming Events calendar. In order to do that I’ve asked him to have the church staff send me emails with event information and, if possible, to also send a PDF file of any flyer or poster that they’ve created for the event. I recall one coffee club in particular at which I was sort of railing away at Doug that his staff had not sent me anything to post about an event that I saw a poster for in a store window downtown. As I ranted on to Doug about needing that information to post, he quietly said, “Be at peace, Norm. I’ll get you that information.”

Be at peace. What a powerful little message. I’ve since thought about how does one get to be at peace? We all get into agitated states about things in our daily lives, some of them major things that are important; but, many of them minor little things of no great importance other than in our minds at the moment. We need to be at peace. But, how?

I suspect that the first step is just to STOP. Stop whatever rant or tizzy you are in at the time. Stop and pause to fearthink.  Is this really that important or am I just flustered and flopping around for an answer or a way out of whatever I’ve gotten myself into. Many times, if you can stop and step back (figuratively) and look in the mirror at that person with the flushed face and raised voice who seems to be so upset you may start to laugh. What was that all about? Be at peace.

Sometimes it is not anger but grief that has overcome us – the loss of a loved one or the grief that comes along with guilt when we have done something wrong. In those times it may be impossible to find peace without the help of someone else to tell you that it’s OK to let it out and then let it go. If you are in Milford, there’s no one that I know of who could help you more with that than Pastor McMunn. Be at peace.

Sometimes the things that has you agitated is something that you cannot control or stop yourself, perhaps a bad habit or trouble with alcohol, drugs or gambling. In those cases, I’ve suggested that you need to admit to yourself that you cannot do it alone and reach out and call for help. See my earlier post in this series – I need help. Get the help you need and be at peace.

Sometimes it’s just the frustrations of daily life that get to us and cause up to snap at a co-worker or a loved one. That is usually accompanied very quickly with feelings of remorse at having said something unkind or off-putting lifes stormsto someone that we did not mean to offend or alienate. The best solution for that is a quick apology. Be at peace.

Sometimes we are actually mad at ourselves or frustrated by failing at something that we are doing. We talk to ourselves; maybe even berating ourselves for our failures. We beat ourselves up over things that we think we did wrong, things said or left unsaid. If left unfettered this tendency towards self-deprivation may go too far and lead to depression – we end up not liking ourselves. Whoa! Be at peace.

If you are happy, you can give happiness. If you don’t love yourself and if you are unhappy with yourself, you can’t give anything else but that. – Gisele Bundchen

So, be at peace and love yourself; then, you can go out and find others to love, too.

You need to love yourself and be yourself one hundred percent before you can actually love someone else. – Christina Perri

In my church, we exchange the peace every week; members shake each other’s hands or hug and the exchange handshaketakes place – “Peace be with you” – sometimes the reply is “And also with you.” I think Pastor McMunn’s saying, “Be at peace” is really saying the same thing and would work equally well. So, as you start each day, start it off right by whispering to yourself – Be at peace. At least you’ll be starting from the right place.

Eleven Hints for Life – 10 of 11

March 19, 2014

10. The happiest of people don’t necessarily have the best of everything they just make the most of everything that comes along their way. – Unknown

Some of these hints are easier than others to find a positive message to take away. This one is easy to agree with but perhaps a little harder to put into practice. The world around us is so focused upon trying to define happiness in terms of the possessions that we have – how many and how good they are – that it is easy to get swept up in those thoughts.

The key in this little hint is to be found in the words “…they just make the most of everything…” Whether it is the things that they have or the things that come their way, the happiest of people not only accept what they have or get, but they find joy in having those things and do not waste time  being jealous or envious of things that they don’t have.

“Life is not always a matter of holding good cards, but sometimes, playing a poor hand well.” – Jack Londoncards

In the song The Gambler there is the line “every hands a winner and every hands a loser, it how you play the game.” Happy people take the cards that they are dealt and find joy in just being in the game. They don’t waste time and energy coveting what someone else has; instead they enjoy want they have to the fullest. Most of the time, you find these people to be the types that value family and relationships above all else, except their faith. They are happy because they don’t let the pursuit of possessions get in the way of what is really important.

And what of those who are not living according to todays’ hint? A saying from the blog Jack’s Winning Words sums it up fairly well –

“You’d be surprised at how many unhappy people there are.  They focus too much on their wants, not their needs.”  (Cayman Islander)

Somehow I have to believe that this Cayman Islander and many of the people who live the Caribbean island lifestyle actually do live by the words of today’s hint.

chasing brass ringSo, rather than spending time worrying and being unhappy about what you don’t have; spend time making the most out of what you do have and out of the relationships that you have with the people that you love who are sharing it with you. Happiness is not to be found in possessions, but rather in sharing love with other people and enjoying each other.

After all, could that new car that you’ve been focusing so much attention upon getting ever give you a hug and say, “I still love you”, at the end of a bad day?  Can that big flat screen TV that you covet so much ever hold your hand and tell you that everything will be alright when you’ve just been laid off? And try having a meaningful conversation with that new pair of shoes that you want so much or sitting on the porch swing with that new appliance that you’ve been wanting for so long. Now, re-imagine those same scenarios with the ones in your life that you love and you will start to understand that the real joy in life comes not from having things but from sharing your life with other people.porch swing

“It is not how much we have, but how much we enjoy, that makes happiness.” – Charles Spurgeon

Go back and re-read Hint # 3 and then find that someone in your life to sit on the porch swing with.