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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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 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?


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.


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.


What will you see when you look at the mirror?

July 8, 2019

“God is like a mirror.  The mirror never changes, but everybody who looks at it sees something different.”  (Harold Kushner)  From a post to the Jack’s Winning Words blog.

Rabbi Kushner’s quote immediately brings to mind the question that is today’s headline. If looking to God shows a reflection of who you are, perhaps that is why so many turn away from Him. They just don’t like what they see in the mirror. Perhaps they see thearrogant things that they could have done differently; or, things that maybe should have done but did not. Maybe they see the ugliness of their prejudices or the hurt that their hate for others causes. Maybe the distorted face of cynicism stares back at them and they don’t like it. For many it may just be the look of guilt for having been away from God for so long.

Perhaps the mirror analogy is telling us that we see our own ego in the mirror and that mirror imagewe need to look beyond that reflection to find God in the mirror. Whatever one initially sees in God’s mirror; if you look beyond the ego that is reflected there and find God, the shame and guilt and remorse will all melt away as God forgives your sins and welcomes you back into the fold. Continue to look and ask for forgiveness and you will be rewarded with God’s peace.

Many are so wrapped up in themselves, in their own wants and needs that they do not take the time to look beyond the surface reflection in God’s mirror. They see only the things that they want to see and ignore all else. They may glance at God from time to time and see the things that they need for God to forgive; but, their reaction is one of “I’ll get back to you on that.” Many never do get back to God until it is too late.

So, take some time in prayer to look into God’s mirror and see what He sees. Ask for His man prayingforgiveness for the things you have done wrong or the things left undone that you should have done. Don’t start the day and the week with leftover baggage from the past. Unburden yourself and start anew by taking your problems to God. Look in the mirror and smile. You’ve seen the face of God there and he was smiling back at you.

What will you see when you look in the mirror – look deeply and find God there.