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11 April 2012 · 4:32 am

Do The Necessary

“Start by doing what’s necessary; then do what’s possible; and suddenly you are doing the impossible.” ~ St. Francis of Assisi …

When I look at the tasks that lay before me, it is quite easy to see them as one big, insurmountable obstacle, but that is usually not the case. Many times the tasks can be broken down into smaller subsets of the whole. And when we are able to see these tasks in such a way, it becomes much simpler to approach them in a very manageable way. Perhaps we do what is necessary first, as that is the most crucial. Then work on the rest as time and ability permits. Within very little time, what seemed like an impossibility has now become a conquered task, a successful endeavor.

Life is a lot easier when we are able to complete a few tasks at a time, when we are content with doing a number of small things quite well, that help us to get that much closer to accomplishing the bigger picture. Take weight loss for example–no one can lose 52 pounds in a single day. But any one of us could lose 52 pounds by losing 1 pound a week for a year.

When we task ourselves with the impossible, or burden ourselves with too much, we cause a lot of misery and stress and set ourselves up for failure. On the other hand, by doing the small things that we can do over time, we set ourselves up for success, and the things that previously appeared impossible, will soon just be objects in your rear view mirror.

Complete what is necessary of you today.

Questions to consider:

What are your priorities today? What is required of you today?

What happens to us when we get hurried and overwhelmed with a task?

Is it better to do a few small things well, or one large task not as well?

For further thought:

“Do each day all that can be done that day. You don’t need to overwork–or to rush blindly into your work, trying to do the greatest possible number of things in the shortest possible amount of time. Don’t try to do tomorrow’s–or next week’s–work today. It’s not so much the number of the things you do but the quality, the efficiency of each separate action that counts… you need only to succeed in the small tasks of each day. This makes a successful day. With enough of these, you have a successful week, month, year–and lifetime.” ~ Earl Nightingale

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God Loves Each Of Us

“God loves each of us as if there were only one of us.” ~ Saint Augustine …

It does not matter where our beliefs in life reside, God loves us all, and He loves us all unconditionally, equally, and uniquely. This is such a wonderful and profound truth to discover, for it validates our worth as a spiritual being, as well as our value to humanity.

Just look at how much we value our own life. Since we have but one, it is priceless and should be cherished. God’s love for us is the same–He sees us as one-and-only-one life, and cherishes us the same. The fact that He has created us makes apparent His love for us. And even during times when we feel unlovable, or find it difficult to acknowledge that someone else could love us, He still loves us.

I like to think of God as my Father… and being a father myself, I know that my love for my children is almost limitless. And yet God’s love is greater. I know that no matter what I do, God will still love me, for I am just as much a part of this wonderful creation as anyone else. But more importantly, the more I become convinced of His boundless love for me, the less likely I am to do things that would push Him away.

We are loved, and we are called to act out of love–to spread love throughout the world as best we can. This includes loving my neighbors and loving myself. It means forgiving those who have hurt me and asking forgiveness of those I have hurt. It is giving selflessly of myself and sharing with those in need. It is showing compassion for others and respecting all life–for everyone is worthy of my love. Who am I to withhold my love from those whom God loves unconditionally?

God created you because He wants you to be. Let yourself become aware of this love today.

Questions to consider:

Do you feel loveable? Do you believe that God loves you?

Do you think that His love is conditional?

Do you allow yourself the freedom to be just who you are all the time?

For further thought:

“We are children, perhaps, at the very moment when we know that it is as children that God loves us–not because we have deserved his love and not in spite of our undeserving; not because we try and not because we recognize the futility of our trying; but simply because he has chosen to love us. We are children because he is our father; and all of our efforts, fruitful and fruitless, to do good, to speak truth, to understand, are the efforts of children who, for all their precocity, are children still in that before we loved him, he loved us, as children, through Jesus Christ our lord.” ~ Frederick Buechner, The Magnificent Defeat

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Embrace Positive Attitude

“Our lives are not determined by what happens to us but how we react to what happens, not by what life brings us but the attitude we bring to life.” ~ Wade Boggs …

There is no getting around it–life is going to happen. And the majority of things that happen in our lives are outside of our control, which leaves us with our reactions to what happens to us. These reactions are what shape and define our lives–how we grow or fail to grow, our perception of life, our happiness or discontent.

How do I react to the situations in my life? Am I negative or positive? Do I nag at others and put them down, or try to encourage them and build them up? Do I complain and look for pity from others, or do I embrace an attitude of acceptance and positive action on my part? Do I hold things against others to make them feel guilty, or do I try my best to forgive them?

As a parent, it is duly important that I keep careful watch over my attitudes and reactions in life, for my children are always watching and learning from my examples–adopting many of my beliefs and customs, my ways of acting, speaking, and treating others. In all likelihood, my children will probably become a lot like I am someday, and I want that to be a reassuring thing… not something that keeps me awake at night.

So who am I becoming? Is this person conducive to a life filled with happiness and love? Do my attitudes and reactions better serve me in living my life to the fullest?

Embrace a positive attitude today.

Questions to consider:

How do you usually react to unforeseen circumstances? Is that how you want to react?

From whom do we learn how to react?

How can our reactions help us to become aware of how much we have or have not grown?

For further thought:

“Over the years I have come to believe that life is full of unchosen circumstances, that being human has to do with the evolution of our individual consciousness and with it, responsibilities for choice. Pain and joy both come with life. I believe that how we respond to what happens to us and around us shapes who we become and has to do with the psyche or the soul’s growth.” ~ Jean Shinoda Bolen

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Be Happy

“What is this life if, full of care, we have no time to stand and stare.” ~ W.H. Davies …

What a miraculous world we live in. Each moment we are alive is filled with so much beauty and wonder–all we have to do is choose to see it, to let ourselves become painfully aware of just how blessed we truly are. The cold glass of water on a hot summer day; the hot bath or shower after a hard day’s work; the help and compassion of someone who cares; the comforting embrace of someone you love. When we slow down and allow ourselves the opportunity to truly experience the life we are living, the ordinary becomes rather extraordinary.

The following is a famous Washington Post experiment revealing just how much beauty we may miss in our rush through life.

On a chilly Friday morning in January–in the middle of rush hour at a D.C. metro station–world renowned violinist Joshua Bell participated in a staged experiment to see how hurried commuters would respond to encountering exquisite classical music played on an 18th century violin, by (unbeknownst to them) one of the finest classical musicians in the world. Would beauty transcend?

During the 43 minutes that Bell performed (in street clothes and a ball cap), 1,097 people passed by his location. While a few individuals eventually paused to listen more closely for a few moments, not once did Bell draw a crowd. A former child prodigy who filled concert halls in the week leading up to the experiment and whose performance time can command as much as $1,000 a minute, Bell counted a total of $32.17 in his violin case at the end of his performance! Each passerby on that Friday morning was presented with a choice: to stop and listen, or to hurry on past to their morning destination. Which would you choose?

Take a moment to become aware of the life you are living.

Questions to consider:

Why might people be willing to ignore a musician playing something quite beautiful?

How often do you stop to enjoy everyday things in your life?

What are some ways you could increase your awareness with the many different aspects of your life?

For further thought:

“Be happy for this moment. This moment is your life.” ~ Omar Khayyam

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“Nothing is so strong as gentleness; nothing is so gentle as real strength.” ~ Saint Francis de Sales …

People usually associate power with the ability to exert your will and control upon something, as if the most important attribute for success is brute force. This misperception is incorrect, however, and often leads to friction and strife, wasted energy and potential, and resentment and lack of cooperation that generally will not produce the desired results.

It does not take a hammer to wear away at stones. Tiny drops of water, that are held together through a weak cohesive bond, are able accomplish some of the most remarkable feats, such as the creation of the “Grand Canyon” and “The Old Man of Hoy.” Some of the most powerful drills in the world use high-pressure water to cut through materials that even metal is unable to cut through. Water–the same stuff we swim through and bathe in–can pierce granite and go straight through a foot of cast iron. And we can see similar effects from wind in the Navajo sandstone rocks of Arizona, or between our dealings with one another.

It takes much effort and force to bend people and things to our will, and the results of such effort generally are not very positive. However, with gentleness, we can encourage and cultivate the strength in others to join with ours and greatly increase the chances of a positive outcome. With persistence and dedication, gentleness can accomplish what brute force cannot. “The waters wear the stones; the floods thereof wash away the dust of the earth.” Job 14:19

Apply gentleness when dealing with others today.

Questions to consider:

How often do you apply gentleness in your life?

Do you ever get frustrated when you do not see the results of the things that you try to accomplish? Where does that frustration come from?

What are some ways you can let go of the desire to control the outcomes in your life?

For further thought:

“In the confrontation between the stream and the rock, the stream always wins–not through strength but by perseverance.” ~ H. Jackson Brown

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An Optimist

“Aerodynamically, the bumble bee shouldn’t be able to fly, but the bumble bee doesn’t know it so it goes on flying anyway.” ~ Mary Kay Ash …

How often do we hold ourselves back from becoming all that we could be–all that we were intended to be? How often do our attitudes and disbeliefs fuel the very fires of negativity in our lives that are clouding our ability to see the opportunity that sits right before us with thick, black smoke? Our perspectives, attitudes, and ways of thinking determine so much of our experiences of life–the more positive we are, the more positive our lives become; the more negative we are, the more our inadequacies move to the center of our focus and the more miserable our lives begin to grow.

Often times, we are the only obstacle that stands in the way of realizing our fulfillment and our potential. We convince ourselves that there is something that we cannot do or will never be able to accomplish, or we embrace the mistaken conclusions and the ideals of others as our own beliefs and accept them as truths. I am aware of such a time in my own life, a time in which I convinced myself that surely I was unlovable as a result of the heartache I felt of opening up and being rejected by an individual. This caused me to question my own self-worth, leaving me feeling confused and in a perpetual state of despair that caused me to isolate myself on an island of negativity.

Some of the most beneficial changes I have made in life have been changes in the ways that I think. And although it is something I have to continually work at, the more I am able to reject negative thoughts and focus on the all of the positive potential I can create in the world around me, the more strength I find available to me–a strength, that much like the bumble bee, allows me to accomplish the impossible and keeps me from falling into negativity.

The healing powers of positive thoughts have been well documented by medical professionals and psychologists throughout our history. Ailments are lessened, recovery time is shortened, and chronic or debilitating illnesses are mastered through absolute will, determination, and resolve. Positive thinking really does change the actual makeup of our brains in a very physical way; the science is called neuroplasticity–which essentially means our thoughts can change the structure and function of our brains. It has been shown that the more we practice positive thinking, the more it causes our brain to strengthen and rewire areas of the brain that stimulate positive feelings.

Each day we are able to focus on the positive, we increase our ability to feel happiness and to live our lives much more fully. And the more we are able to focus on the positive in life, the more able we are to overcome the obstacles and difficulties we face in life.

Focus on what you CAN do today… which is virtually anything.

Questions to consider:

How can we stay focused on our potential in life?

How do negative thoughts become so predominant in our lives?

What are some potential benefits of seeing the world through positive thinking?

For further thought:

“An optimist is someone who goes after Moby Dick in a rowboat and takes the tartar sauce with him.” ~ Zig Ziglar

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Put Forth Your Best Effort In All You Do

“I can accept failure, everyone fails at something. But I can’t accept not trying.” ~ Michael Jordan …

My failures are not something that I need be ashamed of. As Michael points out… we all “fail at something.” What matters is that we took a chance, that we tried our best. Not giving it my best effort… now that is something I would feel ashamed of.

Even though there are many things in life that we can predict with a high degree of accuracy, there are plenty more that we will be wrong about. Every year, thousands of things fail–startup ventures close shop, athletes are cut from teams because they are not quite good enough, relationships end, banks foreclose on houses, sales on products fail to cover costs. Failure is a potential outcome for us. And if we learn to accept that as ok, we can move past the failure to growth. Additionally, we can begin to plan for the possibility of failure, so that we are not caught off-guard or left in a bad situation.

As an athlete, Michael knows quite intimately that life is not about winning–it is about trying and learning from the effort. Many people win medals in the Olympic Games, but many more go home without gold, silver, or bronze. But their goals have brought them to the possibility of at least competing in the Olympic Games, putting them among the very elite athletes in the world at their respective sport.

Doing our best is what truly matters in life–win or lose.

Put forth your best effort in all you do today.

Questions to consider:

Think of a risk you recently took in which you failed. What did you lose? What did you gain? Was it worth it?

What are some things you might fail at? Does the possibility keep you from trying?

How do most people react when someone fails at something they have tried?

For further thought:

“When everything seems to be going against you, remember that the airplane takes off against the wind, not with it.” ~ Henry Ford

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