Get the right base to begin with…

February 9, 2018

The Jack’s Winning Words blog this morning had this little quote – “Just when I think I’ve learned the way to live, life changes.”  (Hugh Prather)

Jack went on to write about lifelong learning to keep up with changing times, which is certainly important. Life goes on and changes occur all around us all of the time. Just when we think we’ve got some technology or social media platform figured out, something new comes along that supplants what we just learned and we’re off on the learning process again.

Much of our “learning” about new things that challenge us is focused upon understanding what it is that is new or different and what new demands those differences are causing. We are always trying to figure out the answer to the question, right-and-wrong“What do you want from me? What decisions do I need to make and what should I base those decisions upon?” Sometimes those decisions have no moral content; but, sometimes they do and that is where having the right moral base is important. It is that base, or moral compass, that allows you to make decisions about right or wrong in life. You know what is wrong. Don’t go there.

If you have a base rooted in faith in God and the teachings of Jesus, you will find that no matter how life changes you are ready to make the right decisions. You will know how to reading-biblelive. You can find that base and helpful tips on how to live in the Bible. Certainly, the Bible makes no mention of Facebook and how you should react to a hurtful post there; but, it does clearly give instructions on how to deal with hate, scorn, or other things that might be aimed at you, no matter what the media. That hurtful Facebook post or that casual critical comment is trying to draw you into a bad place. Don’t go there.

Most of our decisions about things that happen during the day are really trying to answer the questions, “How should I react to that? What should I say or do?” Many people that we may see behaving badly around us don’t have a good moral compassman mad at himself to consult before acting or reacting. They may lash out or lash back at some perceived insult, rather than finding it in their hearts to forgive. Their lives are full of open sores at which they constantly pick and make worse. Don’t go there.

Rather than reacting quickly and perhaps badly to situations and changes in life; stop and reflect on the situation at hand in light of the moral base for your life. Perhaps that perceived slight or off-hand remark about you was really a cry for help from someone being kind 1who desperately needs a friend right now. Maybe it was a wake-up call to you to try harder to understand what is troubling them and find a way to help. It in no way really hurts you, unless you let it. Don’t go there.

Rather, look to the Bible for guidance and find this – . “Let all bitterness and wrath and anger and clamor and slander be put away from you, along with all malice. Be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, as God in Christ forgave you.” – Ephesians 4:31-32

Get the right base and you will find that no matter how life changes or what it throws at woman-prayingyou, you are prepared to learn how to cope with anything because you are standing on the solid base of your faith. “Who is it that overcomes the world? Only the one who believes that Jesus is the Son of God.” – John 5:5

Go there, instead.

Be a beautiful human being today…

January 26, 2018

“True beauty is about who you are as a human being, your principles, your moral compass.”  (Ellen DeGeneres) – as seen in a recent post to the Jack’s Winning Words blog.

You may have heard someone described as being a beautiful person and you could tell from the context that it had nothing to do with his or her physical appearance. Beauty is a perception and the way that people act towards each other may be perceived as eitherhandshake being ugly or beautiful. Which impression will you leave with the people that you encounter today?

Looking at Ellen’s quote in inverse order; if one has a strong moral compass based in faith in God and a good set of principles that build off that moral base, then it should not be all that hard to be perceived as a beautiful human being because of how you treat others.

One of the most basic principles that our faith teaches us it to treat others, as we would want to be treated. Very few of us probably sees someone else and thinks, “I hope that they snub me, because I’m going to ignore them.” Recognizing and acknowledging others is one of the most basic tenants of our social structure. We all want to be recognized and, hopefully, we enjoy recognizing others. There is a beauty and a joy in the exchange of recognition when you meet someone that you know.  There is also anticipation of futurecompliment joy when meeting someone new.

I’ve written here in the past that one of the key things that governs how you view the world and other is becoming comfortable with yourself. Love who and what you are first and then you can love others. In Jack’s post he went on to quote further from Ellen DeGeneres – “You’re unique.  You’re not supposed to be like everyone else.  Promise to be kind to people, to brush your teeth every day and to floss.”  I’m sure the last two pieces of advice were just Ellen’s way of being funny. The first part of that quote is really about getting comfortable with yourself and the fact that you are unique. It is that uniqueness that makes meeting you interesting. It gives you something to share. It is the beauty thing that is within you.

woman-prayingSo be a beautiful human being today. Greet and interact with others. Share the experiences and outlook on life that make you unique and beautiful. You don’t need to look in the mirror before you go out into the world; just check your moral compass with a little prayer and ask God to give you the courage to let your unique  beauty shine through to others.

Now that’s a beautiful thing.

Go with the flow or stand apart…

August 9, 2016

“The thing about chameleoning your way through life is that it gets to where nothing is real.”  (John Green), as seen on a recent post at the Jack’s Winning Words blog. A day later Jack posted this quote – “Blessed are the flexible, for they shall not be bent out of shape.”  (Unvirtuous Abbey).

Do you know people who seem to have no opinions of their own or any firm moral ground to stand upon? How about the opposite types, those who refuse to change their opinions even in the face of overwhelming evidence that they are wrong?

I’m not sure that “chameleoning” is a real word, but we probably all know what that chameleonmeans, or at least have something or someone come to mind when the term is used. Chameleons have the amazing ability to change their skin coloring as they need to in order to blend in with their surroundings. For them it is a defense mechanism. Perhaps that is also true for those who we know who seem to change with each situation that they encounter. They have what might be called situational ethics and go with the crowd in any situation in hopes of blending in.

Of course there are also those who are contrarians in every situation. Whatever the crowd is in favor of, they are against. Sometimes this is also a defense mechanism, since it allows stubbornthat person to remain alienated and apart from the crowd. They often have deep insecurities that feed on the rejection and loneliness that their action precipitates. Their real fear may be of being accepted and being expected to act like one of the crowd that they are avoiding. Their defense becomes a self-fulfilling prophesy, since they are rejected and left alone.

Taken to the extreme, neither of those approaches to life is very satisfactory over time. The person who is a total Chameleon will find that they have developed no basis for independent thoughts and actions when the crowd is no longer around. They may have no moral compass to guide them through life and may not have developed any real interests or passions of their own. They are unable to be “real”, because they may no longer know what “real” is for them. These might be the people from whom the day is devoted to “living” on social media platforms, who post what they had for breakfast, as if anyone really cares.

The total contrarian, on the other hand, will find that it is virtually impossible to live a fulfilling life totally apart from the rest of society and that interdependence with others is Gotha key to establishing our own identity and finding true happiness. Interestingly even those who pursue the contrarian “Goth” lifestyle trend to congregate with others of that lifestyle, those creating a “crowd” of their own that they then try to fit in with. Eventually they come to realize that serving others is much more rewarding than being self-serving. Those who don’t come to that realization become what we call “hermits” and live apart from society.

The second little quote is not referring back to being Chameleon-like; but rather to not becoming so ridged in our beliefs that we become stuffy or obstructionists. I belong to several organizations in which the phrase “that’s the way it has always been done” comes up a lot. There is certainly a place for understanding the history of how we got to wherever decisionswe are at any point in time; however, to become inflexible about the future direction based solely on the past is wrong. Things change, new options that didn’t exist in the past open up and we hopefully learn from the mistakes of the past and consider new approaches to things. We remain flexible and don’t get bent out of shape by suggestions for change.

So, guard against the extremes of becoming a Chameleon and having no real identity or beliefs of your own or a contrarian and being against everything; however, remain flexible and open-minded enough to consider opinions and options that you may not have encountered before. The key to being flexible without going to the extremes is to have a central touchstone of moral values from which you can examine the options in front of you and upon which you can base your decisions. For most that moralWWJD compass is based upon common sense that is rooted in religious beliefs and values. If you can start with a strong sense of right and wrong in your life, based upon the teachings in the Bible, the rest of the decisions that you have to make are much easier.

As you start each day, get real. Start by setting your moral compass, thinking about who you are and the direction that you are intending to go that day; but remain flexible as the day progresses and open to new ideas, new people and new directions. As long as you have a strong sense of your own identity and your moral compass to guide you the journey will continue to be amazing and satisfying. Have a great week ahead!


Trying to be cool isn’t cool…

June 4, 2015

As I’ve gotten older I’ve become a lot more aware and a little bit more comfortable with the fact that I will never be “cool” in the old sense of that word. I’m neither a fashion setter nor even trendy and I’ve gotten comfortable with that too. smiling manWhile I associate with quite a few younger people in my day-today life, I also realize that they have completely different tastes and, even if I wanted to, trying to “hang with them” isn’t really going to make me cool either.

It needn’t take a lifetime to realize that trying to emulate someone else or compromising your own values to try to fit in with a different group of people is a waste of your time. You need to become comfortable with who you are and stay true to that, no matter who you choose to hang with from time to time. Steve Jobs put it well when he said,

“Your time is limited, so don’t waste it living someone else’s life. Don’t be trapped by dogma – which is living with the results of other people’s thinking. Don’t let the noise of others’ opinions drown out your own inner voice. And most important, have the courage to follow your heart and intuition.”

 The funny thing is that most of the people who are living the life that you are trying to emulate are following Steve’s advice. You may see them as leaders or just as cool people, but most of them just see themselves as normal people who are pursuing their dreams.

exclusionIt’s true that you will hit little cliques of people (usually younger and many times in school) who have all adopted some set of characteristics, like dressing a certain way or talking a certain way; however, they aren’t really cool. Quite the opposite; they are so insecure and unsure of themselves that they have sought refuge in their charade of being cool. The fact that they band together and often make a show of excluding others is actually proof of how insecure they are about themselves. They almost always quickly become caricatures of the cool people that they think they are portraying.

So, if being “one of them” isn’t cool, what is?  Maybe you should try “being the only one of me” instead. Like yourself first andConfidence isothers will like you, too. Be happy with who you are, with your unique talents and outlook on life. Create your own “style”. Wear what appeals to you, not necessarily what “everyone else” is wearing. Do the things that interest you and don’t worry about “what everyone else is doing.” Hang around a variety of people and try to learn from each person or group. Make decisions based upon your own moral compass, not based upon what everybody else is doing.

Finally, don’t try to be cool. Coolness comes from self-confidence not from being a follower. You might be surprised that others are attracted to you, just because you are content just being yourself.

Follow your heart. That’s cool. Have a great day.

Doing the right thing is never wrong…

October 1, 2014

“What’s right isn’t always popular.  What’s popular isn’t always right.”  (Howard Cosell). Jack featured that little saying by Howard Cosell a few weeks back on his Jack’s Winning Words blog.

I remember Howard Cosell. When I was younger, he was one of the major voices of sports. I think I first heard him interviewing Cassius Clay (Mohammed Ali) right after he won the heavyweight championship over Sonny Liston. Howard went on to have a long and always controversial career in sports broadcasting.  He wasn’t always popular.

This quote speaks directly to a major lesson that all parents try to teach their children. It’s usually within the context of judging right and wrong, but almost always also about understanding how to deal with peer pressure when making those decisions. Doing what is right is made all the more difficult if it is not what is popular; however, it is never the wrong thing to do. Eventually even teens understand that doing what is right will earn them a better reputation over the long run than going along to get along. Others will know that they can count on you to do the right thing and that builds trust. Having trust in someone is a major ingredient in any true relationship.

kids at schoolThere are so many choices (opportunities) presented to youth today that involve serious consequences if they make the wrong (sometimes the popular) decisions. The constant flow of new and different drugs that are readily available at the corner gas station is just one example. Experimenting with those drugs may seem to be popular, but that doesn’t make it right. No one ends up in the emergency room of the hospital for saying “no” to that temptation.

Later in life the temptations may become more subtle, but there is still a line there somewhere between right and wrong, no matter how popular something may be.  Discerning that line and staying on the right side of it may be a challenge, but it’s a challenge made easier if one starts with a strong sense of self and a good moral compass.

I’m a believer that one must first love themselves before they can love others. You must be comfortable and secure with who you are and not always striving to be like someone else.  Once you are satisfied with who and what you are; you can start to seek out others to share your life with. You will be popular with those people because you are giving of yourself and not just taking from them in an attempt to be like them. They will like you for who you are, not who you are trying to be.

Perhaps another little quote from Jack’s blog sums that up nicely –proud

“Be yourself.  Everyone else is taken.”  (Nicole Barutha)

So go out in the world today and be the best you that you can be. Do the right things. Do right by others and don’t worry about whether that is popular or not. The only one that you need to be popular with is you. Others may follow you along that path or you may follow others along the same path; soon you may even notice that you are now part of a crowd of happy people doing the right things. You’ve become popular without even trying.

Three little words that can change your life…This isn’t right!

April 19, 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.

cop writting ticketThere was a story in the news this week about a Michigan policeman from the Novi Police Department who resigned and then blew the whistle on the practice (he alleges) of assigning ticket quotas to police officers as a way to raise money for the city. According to him this practice had been going on for some time and the fact that he had to do it had been gnawing away at him. Eventually it got to be too much and he quit, saying this isn’t right.

Many of us suffer through things that we know aren’t right, but we let them slide. Maybe it’s that obnoxious, overly friendly boss at work – the one who’s always touching you. Perhaps it’s being told that you have to put in an extra hour or two “off the clock” at work, if you want to keep your job. Or it could be that you are told not to rock the boat when you report an unwanted advance by a fellow student at college. Maybe you’ve had it up to here and it’s time to stop letting things slide and stand up and say this isn’t right.

I read an article recently about some brave young women who are taking on the administrations of some of America’s largest and most prominent colleges and universities over the issue of rape on campus and the lack of effective action by the school administrations. Their allegations about the prevalence of rape on campus and the lack of enforcement action by school administrations are appalling. Rape is something that no one can make a case for there being any ”right” side; however, the young women have made a very persuasive case that universities would rather sweep this problem under the carpet than deal with it. These women have found a very effective way through the use of some Federal laws to bring financial pressure onto the schools. They refused to back down in the face of stonewalling by the schools because they knew that this isn’t right.

Recently the church leaders in Detroit have been very vocal about trying to get the community clergymanbehind police efforts to reduce crime in the city, especially the crimes against each other in the neighborhoods. They are speaking out to encourage people to break through the prevailing street culture of distrust in the police and silence in the face of crime and too help the police identify the perpetrators of the violence and drug trafficking in the city. These are the very people who teach and preach every week about what is right and wrong and try to equip their flocks with the ability to tell the difference. Their call is for the citizens to ban together in strength against the gangs and thugs and shout this isn’t right.

There are many times during a day that we face personal decisions that involve deciding what’s the right or wrong thing to do. It can be as simple as deciding whether to discard the wrapping from your lunchtime hamburger by just rolling down the window a tossing it out of the car or wadding it up to take home or back to the office to dispose of properly.  Maybe it involves deciding what to say to a friend who has just ask for your help moving this weekend. Do you lie and say that you are already busy or tell them sure, you can help. If you lie, when do you stop yourself and say, this isn’t right.

moral compassThis discourse is based upon the premise that everyone has some moral compass and can tell right from wrong. I believe that we all have that ability at some point in or lives and that is usually while we are very young; but, some have wandered so far off the track of doing the right things that they can no longer make a valid decision. Some have become so good at rationalizing why they do the wrong things that they now equate their decisions to some sort of right or privilege.  They no longer see the other side of the question and have lost the ability to say to them self, this isn’t right.

For most of us; however, it may just be not stopping to think about something long enough or hard enough to let that moral compass kick in. Sometimes, we get so caught up in the rush of daily life that we don’t think before we speak. We end up regretting the words that we’ve spoken or some action that we’ve taken; but not until after the fact. That’s when the advice of Douglas Rushkoff  wopause buttonuld come in handy when he said –“When things begin accelerating wildly out of control, sometimes patience is the only answer. Press pause.” Wouldn’t it be great if life gave us a big pause button (or maybe a “do-over” button); but it doesn’t. We must supply our on pause button. When we do pause we must also be the judge of going ahead or making the call that this isn’t right.

The last thing that we must do is choose how to act upon that decision. Not everyone can just quit their job because something isn’t right; however, many people work within corporate environments that have policies and processes for reporting things that aren’t right. There are laws that govern boorish behavior in the workplace or which protect those who report malfeasance by fellow workers. In the long run you do more damage to yourself, to your own self-image (to your soul) by going along to get along than you would by taking a stand when you see or experience something wrong.  There is no guilt to be suppressed or shame to be dealt with if you stand up and say this isn’t right.

So, what will you do today when you have a decision to make about an action or some words to say to someone? Will you be more cognizant of the right and wrong choices? Will you pause and think about it before you act or will you have to come back to it at the end of the day and admit – that wasn’t right?

You still have time to make the right choices for today.