Don’t Struggle…Make good decisions…

December 27, 2022

I recently saved a quote by Will Smith that I saw somewhere, even though I disagree with it –

“In all honesty, everyone is struggling.  Some are better at hiding it than others.”  (Will Smith)

I really don’t believe that everyone is struggling; however, I do think this quote by Martha Beck is true –

“Life is full of tough decisions, and nothing makes them easy.” (Martha Beck)

What Will Smith might see as a struggle is more often than not just a decision point in life, a place where a decision must be made, maybe a tough decision. Many times those decisions involve a right or wrong choice from a moral point of view. Oft times they also involved a conflict between our own self-interest and the interests of others. Doing the “right thing” to help someone else might not seem sometimes to be in our own best interest. But it is the “right thing” to do.

I have posted here a few times in the past that I often include in my prayers the request that God “help me make good decisions” today. There doesn’t have to be a decision starting me in the face, it’s just a request that God help me make valid right and wrong evaluations when decisions come up during the day and hopefully do the right things.

So, there is no reason to struggle with or hide your decisions. If you pause and let God help remind you what is right and wrong in any situation or decision, you will make the right decision. I suppose that does make it a bit easier. Maybe Martha should have said, “Life is full of tough decisions and asking God for help with them makes it easier.”

Don’t struggle with the decisions that you have to make. Ask for and accept God’s help. He will help you see the right and wrong in any situation and doing the right thing is always the best thing and the easiest thing in the long run.

So, don’t struggle today and this week; instead let God help you make good decisions.

Are you prepared?

December 8, 2022

Today’s quote reminds us to think ahead…”It’s better to look ahead and prepare, than to look back and regret.”  (Jackie Joyner-Kersee)

That’s good advice and should be followed whenever possible; however, life doesn’t always give us much time to look ahead, much less to think ahead. Sometimes life just comes at us, and we have to make decisions on the fly. How can you be better prepared for those times, so that you make good decisions?

I’ve shared here a few times that I often will add to my prayers the sentence, “Help me make good decisions today.” If nothing else that helps put my mind in decision making mode with the added benefit of having touched base with the concept of God and, out of that, with an understanding of right and wrong. I am more prepared.

The strongest reaction to threatening or stressful situations that we have as humans is that of self-preservation. That’s what makes the actions of people like the man who rushed the shooter at the recent Club Q mass-shooting incident so unusual and heroic. Even he admits that he really didn’t have time to think about it. He attributed it to going into “combat mode” but it was really about doing what was right in that instant. Somewhere in his background there must have been some strong teaching or experience that imprinted upon him a strong sense of right and wrong; strong enough to overcome his self-preservation instinct and move him to action. He was prepared.

Another example that most have heard about shows the benefit of taking actions to be prepared. When he was interviewed later about his heroic landing of a disabled plane on the Hudson River, pilot Sully Sullivan told the interviewers that he had been preparing for that moment all of his piloting life. He actually when over various flight emergency scenarios in his mind and had a solution for them in mind when he took off. He was prepared.

Today’s headline is the real question that you need to ask yourself each day. You probably are not going to have to make life threatening or lifesaving decisions like the two examples above, but you will be faced with many decisions that will test your ability to choose between right and wrong. Are you ready to make decisions as needed throughout the day based upon a solid understanding of right and wrong? Upon what do you base that understanding? Are you prepared?

I’ve posed here in the past about those WWJD bracelets that were popular worldwide in the 90’s. One does not have to go on a nostalgia trips and find one of those bracelets to wear in order to be reminded to do the right thing – what Jesus might do in the situation. Just pausing each morning to ask God to help you make good decisions during the day will have the same effect. You will be reinforcing your internal right and wrong compass and you will be better prepared for the decisions that you will need to make. Are you prepared?

Ask God to help you make better decisions today.

You cannot ignore the truth…

August 24, 2022

In today’s post to his blog, Jack’s Winning Words, Pastor Freed used this very appropriate quote. With all of the political rhetoric that is swirling around about people being “woke”, this truth is sometimes overlooked –

“You can close your eyes to the things you don’t want to see, but you can’t close your heart to the things you don’t want to feel.”  (Johnny Depp)

The fact is that homophobia, bigotry, and racism exist in our society. Sexism and the glass ceiling exist in our society. Many things that we know in our hearts are wrong exist in our society and some have become systemic. You may try to close your eyes or look the other way when you see or encounter these things, but you cannot close your heart to the feeling deep down that they are wrong.

Most of those things are driven by fear. Fear of the unknown or unusual. Fear of people who don’t look or act like me. Fear of things that I don’t understand. That fear provokes our fight or flight reaction. Many politicians, who are in the news almost daily, feed on that fear to garner support for themselves.

Some people when faced with the truth become angry and fight. Many just try to run away from or ignore the things or people that they encounter or the wrongs that they witness happening. But there is always that pesky feeling in their hearts that this is wrong. It is the acknowledgement of that feeling and perhaps taking some action to deal with that acknowledgement that really constitutes being “woke”.

There are certainly those on the “woke” side of things who propose solutions that also cause fear – “defund the police” comes to mind. They took the need to resolve the systemic problems within many police departments to the extreme and proposed dissolving the police departments and starting over with law enforcement. That is not a practical solution either and just feeds the fears of the people who are still in denial.

What can you do? First, don’t just close your eyes and try to pretend that the issues don’t exist. Trust that feeling in your heart that there is a wrong going on and resolve to take action to correct it. At a personal level that means not participating in the wrong. Trying hard not to be a bigot or a racist or a homophobe. Doing what is right, yourself, instead of looking the other way.

 At a higher level one can join the various groups or movements that are working to make peaceful corrections in our society. Those are not groups out rioting in the streets or walking about brandishing firearms. They are working for changes to the laws or to policies that support discrimination within businesses or government. Find a group like that and join their efforts.

Doing those things will change the feelings that you get from your heart. Doing the right things never makes your heart feel bad. You cannot ignore the truth. Your heart knows.

Do good, feel good…

February 21, 2017

“When I do good, I feel good.  When I do bad, I feel bad.  That’s my religion.”  (A. Lincoln) – from the Jacks Winning Words blog. Jack’s remarks included the fact thatLincoln Lincoln was not a very religious man, but a good man who did know the Bible quite well and made his life an example of trying to do good. I would hope that all of us live to some extent by the same philosophy. At the very least that philosophy is based upon knowing the difference between right and wrong, good and bad.

Sometimes I wonder, as I’m watching the news each night about all of the bad things that people do, how they grew up not being able to tell the difference between right and wrong right-and-wrongor even worse, knowing the difference and making the choices that they do to take the bad path. Do they feel bad when they do that or are they just numb to those feelings? Maybe for some, doing bad things makes them feel good, or so they think. I can’t even imagine how robbing or shooting someone could make one feel good. I feel the same about people who show prejudices and hatred against others, no matter how different they may be. How can that make them really feel good?

Every now and then, I’ll say something stupid and flip, maybe about something that my wife has done or said and she’ll call me on it. Shen will say, “Did that make you feel better, jerkto point out my mistake?” I suppose feeling small in those moments is equivalent to feeling bad. I sure now that it doesn’t feel good. I’ve been known to comment out loud, in
fit of road rage, about something that someone else may have done while we were out driving somewhere. She calls me on that, too; sometimes without saying anything at all. I realize that I’ve done another bad thing and that makes me feel bad.

I think it’s important that we admit it to ourselves, and perhaps to those around us, when we’ve done bad (or stupid or insensitive) things; and, where possible, to make up for them. It’s the right thing to do; and, while it is not my religion, it is part of my religion, a teaching from my religion and the thing I am called upon to do by my religion. The words of James 4:17 sum it pretty succinctly – “So whoever knows the right thing to do and fails to do it, for him it is sin.”

helping-2For Abraham Lincoln and for most of us, just knowing the difference between right and wrong and between good and bad is no enough, we must choose to do what is right and good in order to feel good about ourselves and about life in general. So get out there this week and do good. It’ll make you feel good, too.

Do the right thing…

October 15, 2016

Two recent posts on the Jack’s Winning Words blog struck me as belonging together –

“Knowing what’s right doesn’t mean much unless you do what’s right.”  (FDR)


“The difficulty in life is the choice.”  (George Moore)

right-and-wrongMost of us know the difference between right and wrong and we know that the choice is up to us. For most the choice to do the right thing is obvious; but, for some the other choice is just too tempting or too easy. For some, the shortcut seems to be the route that they always take. An when that fails. Those same people have another tendency – to try to blame their failures on others or on society, when the right thing to do would be to accept responsibility.

We occasionally see one of those feels good stories on the TV news about people finding a wallet or an envelope or bag with money in it and returning it to the rightful owner, even if they could really use the money themselves. There was recently such a story on the Detroit area news. Those people had a choice; and maybe it was a difficult one; but they did the right thing. What would you do if you found that envelope with $1,000 worth of bearer bonds in it?

We have hundreds of choices to make each day that involve right and wrong. Some may deviil-and-angelseem more difficult to us than others, but we know, in the back of our minds, what the right choice is. Perhaps it is there, in the back of our minds, while listening to those little voices (which cartoonists always draw as the devil and an angel), that we make or decisions. Make sure that you listen to the right voice. God may be whispering to you, even while the devil is shouting, but you know what the right thing is to do.

Have a great weekend Listen for God’s whisper and make good choices. Do the right thing!

Speed when needed: but, think when required….

November 9, 2015

“NOW is the time.  The universe likes SPEED.  Don’t delay, second-guess or doubt.  When the opportunity is there…ACT!”  (Joe Vitale) – from the Jack’s Winning Words blog.

I remember that there was a “Speed Kills” ad campaign some time back that had to do with behavior on the highways and speeding drivers. I also recall the advice that manufacturing Quality Control people give about speed exposing waste in manufacturing processes. As I get older time seems to pass more quickly and we certainly live in a time and a world where everything is expected “right now.”

man rushingWe are all faced with split-second decisions from time to time, sometimes in some form of an emergency. We read or hear all the time about “heroes” who didn’t stop to think about the situation that they found themselves in; but, rather, rushed in to help in an emergency – maybe rushing into save someone from a burning building or pulling them from a burning car.

For most of us life does not present those types of heroic quick decisions; however, we are faced all day long with split-second decisions about how to act or react to things going on around us. Do we join in the bullying that others are engaged in against a classmate or do we jump in to stop it? Do we react in kind to a harsh or hurtful remark or stop to consider a more measured and positive response? Do we turn towards someone who needs help and ask how we can do somethingthinking woman
or do we turn away and hope that they just go away? Those are all quick decisions that we make every day.

Taking the advice in Vitale’s quote doesn’t mean that we act instantaneously, without thought; but rather that we not
dither and end up in “coulda.woulda, shoulda” mode later. A guilty conscious is, as often as not, one that is lamenting something left undone; some decision not made; some opportunity that has passed us by. So, in that context, Vitale’s advice is sound – ACT NOW! Make a decision.

I think that a good part of being decisive in life is having a good moral basis for your life to begin with. A strong and ever-present sense of right and wrong gives you the ability to make quicker decisions. Certainly the quick “right or wrong” test of any decision is one that should be made, along with the “dangerous or safe” analysis of the situation. Just right wrong scaleusing those four criteria gives you a head start on a quick decision. If it’s right and safe that’s pretty much a no-brainer – go for it. Things that might be right but dangerous might require a bit more thought and things that are
wrong and dangerous should just be avoided. Things that are wrong but safe can sometimes be confusing; but one should always ask why I would do something that I know is wrong just because I don’t think it’s dangerous – it’s still wrong.

So go ahead and speed through life making decisions quickly as you go; however, before you go out each day check your moral compass to make sure that it is pointing you in the right direction. Keep your personal “right/wrong scale” in the forefront of your decision- making and you’ll be able to speed through the day. That will allow you to ACT Now; without acting up.

Have a great and speedy week ahead!

Doing the right thing is never wrong…

February 13, 2015

There’s a song with lyrics that say, “If loving you is wrong, I don’t want to be right.” That’s a touching claim to make, especially around Valentine’s Day; however, another saying that I saw in a recent post from the Jack’s Winning Words blog contained this piece of advice:

“Never do a wrong thing to make a friend…or to keep one.”  (R.E. Lee)

That is particularly hard advice to live by for many confused and anxious young people, especially in their tween and teen years. It is also hard for many even after getting kids at schoolthrough the years of raging libido and crippling insecurity that sometimes define those tween and teen years. Even, so-called “grown-ups” often suffer from enough insecurity to do things that they realize later were out of character at best and just plain stupid at worst, all in the name of trying to “fit in” and make new friends.

The most basic problem with doing the wrong things to make a friend or to try to keep one is that your change of character is always just temporary and the burden of living the lie that you have created is not one that can be borne for long. The eventual revelation and correction of whatever that wrong was does not only take way any temporary advantage that you may have thought that you had gained, but also damages forever your credibility with that “friend.” They will realize that they can’t trust you to be honest about yourself or about them.

What is so hard about just saying “No, I can’t do that or won’t do that” in the face of the temptation to do the wrong things? Is it a lack of understanding of what is right or listeningwrong; or is it a fear of being rejected because you do understand that difference and chose not to do the wrong thing? How can that be bad? More important, perhaps; why do you want to be friends with someone who is urging you to do the wrong thing? What will that friendship be based upon? How can you grow that relationship when you can start off on such questionable grounds? Which direction will that friendship go from such a beginning – further down the path of wrong?

I don’t think that there is any valid argument that can be made that you are going into such a friendship in order to save that other person by compromising yourself and your values first. If you cannot get a positive reaction to someone accepting you for who you are and what you believe is right and wrong, then turn and walk away. That is not a relationship worth having.  I have only read some of the reviews of the book and the movie (disappointing according to most); but I suspect that at the core of the story of 50 Shades of Grey is a choice that was made by the young lady, perhaps out of naive curiosity as some reviewers have written, that was out of character for her. She friends at schoolabandoned her values for the thrill the unknown and the friendship (some may say the mentor-ship) of Mr. Grey. In the end, was that the right thing to do?

Sometimes we are faced with what can be even harder for us – doing the right thing in the face of a challenge or request from someone who is already our friend or loved one for all of the right reasons (or so we thought).  I have bailed friends out of jail or picked them up from hospitals when they had done something stupid; but I have also refused to hide someone who was on the run after doing something stupid. I tried to talk them into turning themselves in or to seek professional counseling help to avoid any more stupidity – I was not always successful at that. I lost some friends that way and I’m OK wioth that. I felt bad at the time, mainly for them; however, I felt good about not compromising myself or my values long after the incidents were over. Let’s face it, friends come and go, but you have to live with yourself forever and that’s a long time to be someone that you no smiling manlonger like. The old saying “to thine own self be true“, comes to mind.

So, as we head into another weekend, resolve to stay true to your values and not to do anything stupid or wrong just to try to impress someone so that they will be your friend. In fact, if you really want to be a valuable friend to them, make the effort to talk them out of doing those stupid or wrong things, too. Think of it this way: would the next lemming in line go ahead and jump off the cliff if his friend right behind grabbed him and suggested that they go get a Starbucks instead. They could have a lively discussion about what might be at the bottom of the cliff instead.

Have a great weekend and be a good friend…

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.

Feed the right wolf…

February 23, 2014

The Detroit Free Press today had an article by Josh Linkner titled “Feed the Right Wolf”. It was a fairly typical self-help article based upon an old Cherokee legend.

I Googled  the referenced legend and got the wording (as did Linkner, I imagine). The legend goes…

One evening an old Cherokee told his grandson about a battle that goes on inside all people.

He said, “My son, the battle is between two ‘wolves’ inside us all.

“One is Evil. It is anger, envy, jealousy, sorrow, regret, greed, arrogance, self-pity, guilt, resentment, inferiority, lies, false pride, superiority, and ego.”

“The other is Good. It is joy, peace, love, hope, serenity, humility, kindness, benevolence, empathy, generosity, truth, compassion and faith.”

The grandson thought about it for a minute and then asked his grandfather, “Which wolf wins?”

The old Cherokee simply replied, “The one you feed.”

wolf eatingI like that story. It reinforces much of what I write about here. When I Googled it I noticed that there is a web site which I thought might also be an inspirational site. It is, sort of. It’s a porn addition self-help site. The site is devoted to trying to help those with sex or pornography additive behavior, I guess. I didn’t delve into it too deeply; but, it is the site from which I took the words of the story. I looked down the first page of Google results and 5 out of 7 entries are about porn and sex addition. Apparently, someone’s been feeding the wrong wolves.

The Cherokee legend follows the lines of every classical good vs evil in men story. From Wikipedia I found this information on that age old story –

The conflict between good and evil is one of the precepts of the Zoroastrian faith, first enshrined by Zarathustra over 3000 years ago. It is also one of the most common conventional themes in literature, and is sometimes considered to be a universal part of the human condition.[1] There are several variations on this conflict, one being the battle between individuals or ideologies, with one side Good, the other Evil. Another variation is the inner struggle in characters (and by extension, humans in reality) between good and evil.

There are lots of live links in that little paragraph, if you want to explore that further. Reading that seems to cast some doubt on the validity of the “old Cherokee legend.” Is it just coincidence that the old man in the Cherokee legend came up with this good vs. evil allegory, or has someone who was aware of the historical precept created the Cherokee legend? I guess it doesn’t really matter. The Cherokee legend story is a good device for illustrating the point.

Obviously our more modern religious movements have picked up on the same theme of the conflict in men of good vs. evil. There is even an explanation in the Christian Faith about why God allows that to happen – the whole “free will” argument. I don’t know enough about other religions to comment on them, but I’m pretty sure that somewhere in all of them the concepts of good vs evil in men’s lives is covered and some rationale for why men are allowed to do evil is covered somehow. All religions have what the Ronald Regan team coined as “plausible deniability” for the evil acts of man.

So, no matter your religious beliefs, we can agree upon the raging conflict in us all about whether to do good or evil at every turn. Do you do the so-called “right thing” or do you feed the other wolf and take the easy way out or the shortcut or cop a lie? Feed the right wolf.

I find it humorous (I have a weird sense of humor sometimes) that, as a modern society, we have developed our own variation on the two wolves’ story. You’ve all seen ads in print or on TV with the two little characters sitting on the shoulders of the person trying to make a decision. One is depicts as a little red devil (horns and tails and all) of evil and the other is usually robed in white and may have wings, but is surely the angel of good. That somehow meets our modern need to simplify everything down to the level of a cartoon. So, now, instead of the two wolves battling it out to get fed in us, we have two little characters sitting on our shoulders whispering in our ears. It’s not which wolf gets fed; now, it’s which little character do we listen to. The effect is the still the same. Feed the right wolf.

The real point of the story in the legend, and in a great many stories from various religions, is that we have the power within us to choose which wolf we feed and which character we listen to as we make life decisions. The images from the legends and the modern TV commercials are there just to help us stop and think before we decide or act. They also force one more question to be answered – do we know the difference between the two?  Feed the right wolf.

It turns out that evil does not always show itself clearly for what it is (that is part of its evil).wolf in sheeps clothing The wolf occasionally hides in sheep’s clothing to fool us. Evil can take on many forms. Evil does not always show us its horns and tail and is not always an easy to spot red color. Sometimes evil can be a seductive siren calling us to the racks of destruction. Sometimes evil can be found in a crowd all angrily going the wrong way. Sometimes evil is even more insidious and is something that we just have to forget to do or decide not to do. Feed the right wolf.

One thing that evil cannot do is to hide from the glare of the light of truth. Evil likes to lurk in the darkness and lure us to join it there. Shining the light of truth on evil makes the darkness drop away and exposes the ugly thing that was hiding there. Evil is based upon lies about others or lies told to us; it is about lies that cannot stand up to the truth. Feed the right Wolf.

deceptive wolfThere is no truth that you can find to justify saying bad things about another person or hating another person because of something that they said or did that you don’t agree with. There is no truth to be found in your decision to by-pass the needy or poor because evil tells you that you are too busy. There is no truth to looking the other way when you see something wrong or someone wronged, because evil tells you not to get involved. Evil hates the truth ad will try to keep you from seeing it. Feed the right wolf.

So, it all boils down to the decision that the old Cherokee was trying to get the young boy to understand in the legend. You have choices in life. Those choices will always involve two wolves vying for your attention – good and evil. The choices that you make will determine the course of your life and to a great extent the course of your life (your ability at any point in time to discern the difference between right and wrong) will determine which wolf gets fed. Oh; and did I mention – Feed the right wolf!