I was searching for inspiration this morning when I ran across this John Wooden quote – “Things Work Out Best For Those Who Make The Best Of How Things Work Out.”
I love how the words flow in that quote and the underlying psychological advice. None of us can really control the things that happen to us in life, but we can control how we react to those things. Accepting that reality is the first step to making the best of what happens to us in life.
Instead of sinking into despair at life’s setbacks, no matter how bad, one must continue to search for the best path forward from where one find’s oneself. It is the ability to accept setbacks in life as a learning experiences and to adjust your approach to resolving the problem at hand that, so that you can make progress, that separates the winners in life from those admit defeat and never achieve their goals.
Making the best of how things work out doesn’t mean accepting where you have temporarily ended up as your ”station in life”. That is a defeatist attitude.
A setback may have involved taking the wrong path entirely towards that goal or it could have just been a poor execution of the correct approach to a solution. It is important to stop and consider that and make your adjustments based on what you can now see when wrong. The worst thing that you can do is to continue to do the same wrong thing over and over and expect a different outcome.
Too often we focus too much attention on what happened yesterday. It is like trying to drive your car in a race by looking only in the rear view mirror. You will see the disasters that have already happened but no the one looming just ahead.
It makes little sense to pray that nothing bad ever happens to you; rather it makes good sense to pray for the patience, wisdom and perseverance to deal with whatever happens and to make good decisions.
So, perhaps you can include in your prayers the request that God help you accept what has already happened and better prepare you for what is ahead. There is a term for that in the bible – be at peace. May you be at peace with what has already happened, so that you may be better prepared for what lies ahead.
In today’s post to his blog, Jack’s Winning Words, Pastor Freed used this Native American blessing – “May every sunrise bring you hope. May every sunset bring you peace.”
Freed went on to comment upon how the Native American view of the Great Spirit in nature that was all around them in nature influenced their lives. He lamented the lack of such recognition of God in our lives in modern times.
Perhaps the bridge between the hopes that we have at the beginning of a day and the peace one seeks at the end of each day rests on how one conducts oneself during the day. Maybe a little prayer at the beginning would help – “Dear God, please be with me today as I pursue my hopes and help me conduct myself in such a way that I will be without regrets and find peace at the end of this day”.
Things that you’ve done or those things that you left undone drive regrets. Both of those are conscious choices and not just happenstance. So, at each decision point during the day, stop and ask yourself, “Will I regret doing (or not doing) this at the end of the day?” Often just taking that little pause to think will help you make better decisions and be at peace with yourself at the end of the day.
Each day is a journey. Each has its own hopes and goals. Some days you may find that you quickly achieve your hopes and goals. On other days frustrating obstacles may pop up that prevent achieving anything towards your goals and hopes. Sometimes achieving peace at the end of one of those frustrating days is very hard. That is when you must be able to let the frustrations go, put them behind yourself and renew your hopes for a better day tomorrow. Just remind yourself that it is not how far you get each day, but rather how you conducted yourself that day.
Here is another bit of Native American wisdom that I recently saw –
“When you were born, you cried and the world rejoiced. Live your life so that when you die, the world cries and you rejoice.” – Cherokee
In today’s post to his blog, Jack’s Winning Words, Pastor Freed used this quote that is attributed to Benjamin Franklin – “Those who in quarrels interpose, must often wipe a bloody nose.”
Franklin was probably referring to those who stick their nose in where it doesn’t belong, or to those who jump into arguments seeking to be peacemakers. It often happens that the anger that was being vented between the arguing parties becomes refocused onto the peacemaker. We sometimes see on the nightly news that some would-be peacemaker in a street argument ends up being shot or injured by one of the parties to the argument.
While being a peacemaker is sometimes dangerous or difficult, it is a role to which we have been called. “Blessed are the peacemakers, for they will be called children of God.” (Matthew 5:9)
Perhaps suffering the occasional bloody nose is the price that one must pay to be a peacemaker. Peacemakers are the “first responders” in life’s brouhaha’s . Defusing a disagreement that could get out of hand requires that one jump in, separate the parties and stop the progression of the situation. Once the escalation of emotions is halted; the peacemaker can determine a course of action by listening to the two sides. Often it is a misunderstanding of what has been said or the words that were used. Sometimes just helping one or both parties understand what it is that they are disagreeing upon is enough to calm things down. Sometimes not.
In some cases, the best that the peacemaker can achieve is détente, a pause that one hopes will lead to a more permanent understanding. Even that may be looked at as a win, since the situation was calmed to the point where it didn’t boil over into physical conflict. Perhaps the bloody nose that the peacemaker might have suffered that provided the outlet for the anger that was driving the situation.
Whatever the situation, it is better to act, to interpose as Franklin put it; than to sit by and do nothing, even if there is an element of danger involved in acting. Why? Because you know, it is right to do so.
So whoever knows the right thing to do and fails to do it, for him it is sin. (James 4:17 )
And, what if you don’t act? Maybe Franklin would have put it this way –
Those who sit by and do not act, most often regret it after the fact.
Do the right thing! Be a peacemaker. Your nose will heal and you will be better for having acted.
In today’s post to his Jack’s Winning Words blog, Jack Freed used this quote from John F. Kennedy – “When written in Chinese the word ‘crisis’ is composed of two characters—one represents danger and the other represents opportunity.”
We will all face a few crises in our lives or at least situations that we feel are crises. How we react to them perhaps depends upon which of the Chinese characters we see. Do you see only the danger in a crisis or can you see the opportunity. We see and hear on the news almost daily about “heroes” who spring into action to rescue someone who is experiencing a crisis moment – perhaps involving an accident or fire or some other calamity. I’m sure that those heroes see the danger involved, but they choose to take the opportunity to help.
More important for most of us is how we, ourselves, with handle the crises that life throws our way. Those who see only the dangers involved may seek relief by hiding or withdrawing into their own protective shells. It is all too easy to let fear take hold and paralyze us from taking any actions. Maybe we don’t step in when we see bullying taking place or perhaps we cross the street to avoid the person with whom we have a disagreement. Maybe we refused to believe that a mistake that we have made has ended a relationship. In the realm of “fight or flight” reactions, those are all flight responses to crises.
The response that sees opportunity in the crisis is not necessarily a “fight “response so much as it is a “take action” response. These people see the opportunity in the situation – the opportunity to do something in response. People who see opportunity in crises immediately go in to problem solving mode, whether it’s jumping into action and quickly figuring out a rescue plan at an accident or conflagration, or assessing what needs to be said or done to defuse and calm a personal conflict. It’s not so much that they don’t see the danger in the situation (after all the burning car right in front of them is hard to miss), it’s just that the opportunity to help, to do something , overrides their fear of personal danger. They NEED to act – to seize the opportunity.
For most of us, life is quite a bit less dramatic than encountering accidents with people trapped in burning cars or, maybe, having to react in an active shooter incident. Our “crises” are usually the result of interpersonal conflicts or misunderstandings and certainly the “danger” involved is usually not immediately life threatening. For some, however, the anxiety or depression that can result from these crises is life threatening in a very real way. Setbacks or dissapointments may become crises because of their inability to deal with the events that occur in their lives. Those “crises” may represent an opportunity for you to jump in to save the life of your friend or loved one; but, that’s a topic for a future post.
Who knew that crises could be so neatly categorized? Go read the article and see if there are any other categories that you might add.
No matter what the crisis the key thing is how you deal with it. I’ve posted here a few times on problem solving, so I won’t repeat all of the at advice. Just search problem solving to see the posts. What this post is focused upon is the recognition that one is in a crisis situation and the considered decision to deal with it rationally. It is not unusual for crises to occur at a fast pace and perhaps in a confusing environment. That makes it all the more important to be able to step back for an instance, recognize that you are dealing with a situation that requires that you take some action and then formulate a quick action plan. Just that moment of clarity is often enough to snap you out of panic and into problem solving mode. In that moment, you have regained control, not of the situation, but of yourself.
Some people actually think ahead about what they might do in a crisis situation. Airline pilot Chesley Sullenberger said in his post crisis interviews that he had been thinking hew entire career about what to do if the plane that he was piloting suffered a catastrophic failure of both engines. He certainly didn’t think that he would ever have to put those plans into action until the day that he had to land his crippled plane in the Hudson river. I have also posted here in the past about not overthinking (called worrying) about all possible outcomes for some future event, especially those involving personal confrontations. There is a big difference between doing some planning and just plain worrying about things.
So, how will you handle future crises? It is OK to recognize the danger in the situation. That keeps one from becoming foolhardy. Rather, try to keep calm and focus upon the opportunity that is also there. There ae good, bad and ugly possible outcomes in all situations and you can find he good outcome if you just look for it. If you are a person of faith, take heart in this passage from Philippians 4:6-7 – “Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.”
Imagine how much better you could handle the crises in your life if you approached each one with the Peace of God in your heart and mind.
A recent post to the Jack’s Wining Words blog contained this Native American blessing – “May every sunrise bring you hope. May every sunset bring you peace.”
The simple and honest faith of Native Americans in what
they called The Great Spirit (God) is something to be admired and emulated. Their
faith was not perverted by religious practices or church dogma. They saw the
hand of The Great Spirit in nature and had a very direct, personal relationship
We all start the day with hopes. A quick way to make the
prospects of achieving your hopes today is to pause to ask for God’s help. Ask not
that God make your hopes come true; but rather, ask for the wisdom and strength
of character to make wise decisions during the day and the determination to carry
out your decisions.
If you seek God’s help at the beginning of the day, it
will be much easier at the end of the day to find peace. The key to that peace
is to focus upon all of the things that you did get done and not on the things that
remain for you to do. Thank God, for His help during the day and be satisfied that
you did all that you could today to realize your hopes. If you get into a
routine of asking God and thanking God each day for His help in fulfilling your
hopes, you may find that your hopes each morning align better with your ability
to achieve those hopes. That is part of the wisdom that you were seeking in
your morning prayer.
So, be happy and thankful that you made it to another
sunrise and pause to seek God’s help with your day. Then, at the end of the
day, pause to thank God for His help during the day and find the peace that you
need to get a good night’s sleep.
Tomorrow will be another day filled with hope.
Have a great week ahead and be thankful on Thanksgiving Day.
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
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
The Jack’s Winning Words blog today featured this saying – “We can have peace if we let go of wanting to change the past and wanting to control the future.” (Lester Levinson)
Out Pastor always says, “Go in peace, serve the Lord”, at the end of our church service. One of my favorite people, Pastor Doug McMunn of the Milford United Methodist Church often interjects, “Be at peace” into conversations. We also have been given a promise of a “peace that passes all understanding” when we join Jesus in Heaven.
So, what is this peace that is so important and how might we achieve it? I think today’s saying in Jack’s blog is the key – we must let go. The thing that we must let go of is our ego, the thing within us that drives us to try to understand and change the past and to control the future. Our inability to surrender to God’s will torments us and keeps us from achieving peace.
That constant need to understand and to control is our own ego inserting itself between us and God. I don’t think that there is anything particularly wrong with trying to understand and learn from something that happened in the past, but it is also necessary to let it go, to put it in the past and get on with life. Instead, we beat up ourselves for what we perceive were our mistakes or we blame others for their influence on the outcome of things. There is no peace to be found in playing the “coulda, woulda, shoudla” game over and over in our minds.
Even less peaceful is worrying about the future; fretting about what might happen and how we might be able to control things. Our minds are wonderful things, but left untethered they are as likely to come up with a nightmare, as they are to conjure up a pleasant dream. There is nothing wrong with having some contingency plans in place; however, dwelling on how to control every possible thing that could go wrong is both wasteful and fruitless and certainly not peaceful.
How can one break the grip of our ego’s and be more at peace? Instead of surrendering control of your life to your ego, you can surrender it to God and trust the direction that He is taking you. I’ve shared the little prayer that I use many time, but I truly believe that it is the key to achieving peace. I just stop myself, usually in the midst of what my ego is telling me is a crisis that I must somehow try to control, and quietly say to God, “Not my will but thy will be done.” I usually experience an immediate sense of peace and the crisis fades into the background noise of life. Try it. Maybe it will help you achieve peace, too.
So, as you go through the rest of the week, put your trust in God and, as Pastor McMunn would say…Be at peace.
Jack Freed use this quote in his blog – Jack’s Winning Words – recently – “Smile, things are going to work out. You may not see it now, but you’re being directed to a much greater happiness.” (ThisInspiresUs). Jack went on to write – Jesus said, “Let not your heart be troubled or afraid…I am with you.” That’s the greater happiness.
In today’s find it now, buy it now, do it now world, having the patience, the perseverance and faith to wait for that greater happiness goes against the grain. We have become an instant gratification society, while religion has remained a “hope for it, pray for it, wait for it” practice.
Perhaps the biggest obstacle to having the faith that the promised “greater happiness” will come is dealing with the fact that this state of greater happiness will come after we have left this earth. For many people, the thought that they have to die to be born again into the state of greater happiness is not something that can easily accept or internalize. People want that state of greater happiness now, here, while they can enjoy it within the
current physical world that they know. They cannot even conceive of the next life, the one promised to those who believe in and accept Jesus as their savior.
Another factor is the kind of hazy descriptions that we have of that next life – a house of many rooms, one of which will be ours or a peace that passes all understanding or looking upon the face of God. We have a hard time relating to that within the context of what we understand about this life. Some other religions have created extensive and elaborate descriptions of the afterlife, mostly using terms and examples from this life, so that the adherents can relate to it. It is so much easier to imagine Heaven as being just like this world only better.
Perhaps a big part of our challenge as Christians is to let go of any thoughts about this life and this world and just trust that the next life and the greater happiness that is promised to us there. We need to stop worrying about whether we’ll be reunited with our lost loved
ones in heaven or whether our past pets will be there with us. That’s all the stuff of this world. We should focus instead on the fact that we will be united with Jesus and God and the Holy Spirit and all of the Saints in a greater happiness that we can’t even imagine – fee of pain, free of cares, free of fears, free.
So, maybe we need to substitute much more believing, in place of all of the effort we make to try to understand the unimaginable. We can’t and don’t need to understand, we just need to believe and accept. Once we let go of the things of this life, we are ready for the things that come in the next. It is sort of like those cute ads for the web site LetGo.com; we have to let go of the things we don’t really need any more for this life and certainly not for the next. If I can let go of the baggage of this life and just believe; I’ll be better prepared to experience the promised greater happiness – maybe I’ll even experience a little of it here. What a wonderful thought that is to focus upon today.
“A peaceful heart finds joy in all of life’s simple pleasures.” (Franklin Cider Mill sign)
I tried to look up that quote, but it is unattributed anywhere that I found it as written. The closest that I found was by Clyde L. Pilkington, Jr – “A peaceful heart is a joyful heart in all of life’s circumstances.” Pilkington is a pastor, author and radio host.
I’ve written here before that local pastor Doug McMunn, of the Milford United Methodist Church, is one of my favorite people and often uses the phrase “Be at peace” when discussing topics that might otherwise boil over with passion or emotion. He is also the best listener that I’ve ever met.
The concept of being at peace with the world around you and with yourself is a tough one for many people to understand. How can one be at peace while living in a sometimes tumultuous world? I think the secret is to find peace within yourself and with your situation first. I’ve posted here a few times about being able to like/love yourself first, before you can even try to like/love others. Once you get to the point that you can honestly say to yourself, “I like me and I’m happy with where I am in my life, with what I have”; you will find yourself to be at peace and ready to share love or friendship with others.
Some are able to get to that state of self-acceptance and peace through meditation and some use the power of prayer. One way or another one must peel back the layers of concern and fear and anger and envy and self-destructive negativity that burden us in life and expose the very core of your being. You will not find there any of those bad things; just hope and love and trust and acceptance. If you can get back in touch with that innocent, inner child-like being that was once so blissfully happy playing with its own toes you may come to realize that everything that you have stripped away to get back to that state is basically meaningless. You can be at peace with yourself. Once you get to that state of having a peaceful heart, the rest of today’s quote takes over and you can begin to really enjoy life’s simple pleasures.
So, for this weekend, if only for a moment – be at peace.
A popular credit card ad asks, “What’s in your wallet?” Perhaps if you are seeking peace and happiness you should forget about looking in your wallet and look inside your heart instead.
“We can never obtain peace in the outer world until we make peace with ourselves.” – Dalai Lama XIV
“Do not look for happiness outside yourself. The awakened seek happiness inside.” – Peter Deunov
Those two quotes both point to the fact that the answers we seek that lead to a sense of well-being is inside of us. We must make peace with ourselves and then we will be able to find happiness.
I’ve posted here several times about the need to be happy and content with ourselves – to love ourselves so that we can love others. That involves accepting yourself as you are and not beating yourself up for things that are out of your control. And speaking of control, it also involves accepting that God is in control and not you. It springs out of that moment of relief when you finally let go and say, “Not my will, but thy will be done.” It is letting go of the need to fix blame, accepting things as they come and welcoming the help of God to deal with them.
We are about to have another Thanksgiving Day, which unfortunately has become the day before Black Friday for many. While it is nice to have a national day of thanksgiving, one should give thanks every day for the things that God has given us. Today’s post in the blog Jack’s Winning Words has this little Thanksgiving Prayer – “For food, when many walk in hunger, for faith when many walk in fear, for friends in a world where many walk alone…we give you thanks, AMEN.”
Perhaps, if you repeat that little prayer a few times you will start to drift inward to that place in your heart where peace and happiness reside. Linger there for a while and when you return find someone else to share your peace with and let them see your happiness. Maybe that will help them find out what’s in their heart, too.