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Welcome to Austin Ejaife Inspirational. Thanks for visiting and keep coming back to read my blog posts.

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11 April 2012 · 4:32 am

Forest Of Simple Joys

“We all have a tendency to obscure the forest of simple joys with the trees of problems.” ~ Christiane Collange … 

There are days in which I fail to recognize the many “simple joys” in life because my focus is instead placed upon the few challenges that I am currently faced with. And even though I may have several things to be thankful for that are right there in front of me, I get so caught up with the challenges at hand that I cannot see them. This tendency is exactly what Christiane is talking about: we often seem to spend far too much time focusing on the things that are going wrong in our lives, and not the things that are going right.

In thinking back over the periods of my life in which joy seemed obscure and hard to find, I can always recognize a constant: these where times in my life in which appreciation and gratitude were nearly non-existent. This, of course, helped to keep me in a state of depression, blame, selfishness, and unhappiness; instead of trying to focus or pay attention to the “forest of simple joys” in my life, I kept my mind attached to the depression.

The truth is that it takes effort on our part to keep our eyes on the blessings. Especially when our lives take a turn for the worst–when we experience hardships, difficulties, loss… even simply the unexpected–for during such periods in our lives, it is difficult for us to keep a balanced focus on both the problems and our blessings. However, it is in these very moments that we most need to be reminded of our many blessings and of the potential for improvements in our situations–we can always keep sight of the forest of simple joys.

Do not let the difficulties of life get you down. Of course, we all have problems–many are hard to bear and should never be dismissed. Yet all too often, we tend to place all our focus on the problems, and not the joys–as my father once said, “The squeaky wheel gets the oil.” But if we keep in mind the many simple joys in our lives while we deal with our problems, we will also keep a sense of balance and bring about an abundance of joy to our lives.

Take a moment to be thankful for the many blessings you have right now.

Questions to consider:

What kinds of problems do you have that keep you from seeing the blessings in your life?

What would life be like if we were never to lose sight of our forests of blessings?

Why is it so easy for us to keep our focus on problems?

For further thought:

“What we so see depends mainly on what we look for. When we turn our eyes to the sky, it is in most cases merely to see whether it is likely to rain. In the same field the farmer will notice the crop, geologists the fossils, botanists the flowers, artists the colouring, sportsmen the cover for game. Though we may all look at the same things, it does not at all follow that we should see them.” ~ Sir John Lubbock, The Beauties of Nature and the Wonders of the World We Live In

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Believe You Can

“Within you, whoever you may be, regardless of how big a failure you may think yourself to be, is the ability and the power to do whatever you need to do to be happy and successful. Within you right now is the power to do things you never dreamed possible. This power becomes available to you just as soon as you can change your beliefs.” ~ Maxwell Maltz, Psycho-Cybernetics … 

Here, we are told, that some of the things we believe to be true right now, are wrong. And although none of us like to hear that we are wrong, in this instance, it is a good thing. In truth, not a single one of us is a failure any more than we allow ourselves to be–or more appropriately, believe ourselves to be. As Maxwell reminds us, the phrase, “I believe,” can be very powerful–it can build us up, or hold us down. And since our beliefs form the core of our integrity, and no one wants to change them without good cause, it is very easy for us to get held down by them. Yet when we allow ourselves to be open to the idea of discovering within ourselves the “power to do things we never dreamed possible,” we can begin to see this change.

When my beliefs can keep me from having an open mind, can keep me from learning the truth about certain things, or can keep me from listening carefully to people who just may have very important messages to share with me, they are dangerous. For example, as a young boy I always wanted to fly a plane. But because others had told me I will never be able to because I am colorblind, I believed that I would never be able to fly, and I never pursued it.

The problem with beliefs is that they are so rarely authentically ours. We borrow them from others, for the most part, and we react to most things based on what other people believe. In addition, we assign limitations to ourselves based on beliefs that we have learned from others about ourselves–we have this talent but not that one; we are good at this, but not at that; we deserve these, but not those.

Most of the limits in our lives are self-defined because our beliefs are determining those limits. And if we recognize that our beliefs are like the weather–constantly subject to change–we will find that we can empower ourselves in such a way that we will open up worlds of possibilities that we failed to see before. Where will you set your limits today?

Truly believe in your abilities, talents, and potential.

Questions to consider:

What are some of your core beliefs that keep you limited?

How might we go about changing some of our most limiting beliefs?

If you could accomplish anything in the world you wanted to, what kinds of beliefs would you have to have?

For further thought:

“Listen to your beliefs, think about how you learned them, and realize that they are not genetic, nor are they the “only way.” You are free to acquire new perspectives, to absorb new ideas, and to question everything you were taught to believe. As your mind opens to exploration and change, you’ll feel a new lightness and more joy.” ~ Charlotte Davis Kasl, Many Roads, One Journey

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Standing In The Way Of Your Own Sunshine

“Most of the shadows of this life are caused by our standing in our own sunshine.” ~ Ralph Waldo Emerson … 

I really love this quote by Emerson. Here, he simply implies that we often times are our own worst enemy when it comes to happiness, prosperity, and all the positive things in life. We choose how react to our experiences in life, and we choose the attitudes we present to others and ourselves.

Who of us has not cast a shadow on our own life by standing in our own sunshine at some point in life? We routinely create and cast shadows over our own abilities. Perhaps the words of a parent crippled your ability to feel confident in yourself, or perhaps the criticism after a game made you feel out of place. Doing things like allowing ourselves to feel depressed or defeated only serves to block out the radiant glow and sparkle of our beings. Why do we not allow ourselves to be enough, even when we know we are enough?

It is very important that we are aware of how our own choices and decisions affect our lives. Spending a little time in reflection can allow us a chance to do just that. It can also help us to focus on our potential and encourage us to keep a healthy attitude.

If there were one simple–yet powerful–thing we can do for ourselves and for the world, it would be not to stand in our own light. We each have the ability to be a positive model of possibility and potential to ourselves and to those around us–to be the sun that brightens our day, and not the shadow that keeps the light out of our life.

Take a moment to equip yourself with a positive attitude today, and then let the sunshine of potential and possibilities shine through you.

Questions to consider:

Why might we tend to stand in our own sunshine?

What kinds of wonderful possibilities do you have, based on your gifts and talents? Do you exercise those gifts and talents?

How might you step out of the way of your own sunshine to allow it to shine fully and freely?

For further thought:

“Consult not your fears but your hopes and your dreams. Think not about your frustrations, but about your unfulfilled potential. Concern yourself not with what you tried and failed in, but with what it is still possible for you to do.” ~ Pope John Paul XXIII

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Be The Change

“You must be the change you want to see in the world.” ~ Mohandas Gandhi … 

We cannot expect the world to change if we do not… it starts with you and me. If I want to see more kindness and compassion in the world, then I must start by being kind and compassionate to others. If I want to see more economic opportunities for those of us with fewer means, then I need to help create and provide that opportunity as well as encourage their best efforts. If I wish to see less violence and hatred in the world then I need to stop supporting violent movies and films and I need to learn to control my own anger. This is how we can be that change in the world.

Gandhi is challenging us to action–many of us want something, but few of us take action to bring that something about. At times, this can be discouraging, though, for often times we may not see the direct results of what we do or who we are. However, if we work on developing our self-confidence and making positive decisions, we can effectively be that change we seek.

Every action we do to bring about the change we want to see in the world is of equal importance. For example, I avoid retailers that use negative advertising and contribute financially to unethical causes. And although I will most likely never know if my small act of avoidance will have any effect on the retailer, that is ok. I feel that the important part is not the effect my actions may have on others; rather, the most important thing is the effect my actions have on me, and Ghandi knew this. When I follow my principles and live my life aligned with those principals, I am doing something positive that cannot help but have a positive effect on my life, my self-image, and the ways that I affect other people in my life. If I am the change I want to see, then I can legitimately claim the need for that change.

Demonstrate integrity and certainty by being the change you seek today.

Questions to consider:

What kinds of change would you like to see in the world? Is your life a reflection of how the world would be after the change comes about?

What does it mean to you to “be” the change you want to see?

Why is it so often difficult to stick to our principals?

For further thought:

“Change and growth take place when a person has risked himself or herself and dares to become involved with experimenting with his or her own life.” ~ Herbert Otto, Director of the Human Potentialities Institute

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We Control Our Attitudes

“Youth is happy because it has the ability to see beauty. Anyone who keeps the ability to see beauty never grows old.” ~ Franz Kafka … 

“To never grow old…” it is a goal of mine that really is quite simple to accomplish. After all, age is defined more in our attitudes than in our bodies–for even though our bodies grow older physically, we can still remain young in our passion for life. We can find opportunity and take smart risks, and participate in those activities we enjoy and find invigorating. I am therefore a bit baffled that so many adults choose to be old when they have the option to be young at heart instead–to age gracefully and still enjoy life with an appreciation for all the exceptional qualities inherent to it.

There is a friend of mine, who is in his early 30’s, that makes me feel old when I am around him. He is consistently living his life in the past–talking about how great things used to be and how bad things are now. In addition, he often turns down my invitations to go biking, jogging, and sometimes even just to hang out, instead complaining about being too old to do things like that anymore, or too sore. His discontent is evident and at times a bit toxic. I have another friend in his upper 40’s who is the exact opposite. He is extremely active, playing hockey 3-4 times a week. He will jump at the opportunity to enjoy life and will point out the little things that make life beautiful. I feel younger just being around him–as if he radiates energy and life. I am sure he has problems, difficulties, and pains, yet he seldom complains about his lot in life.

I bring up this comparison simply to show you that I believe we control how old we are. We control our attitudes, and for this reason, we have the ability to improve how we see life. We can see it through the eyes of a young heart or through the eyes of an old body, and it would seem much more desirable to me to age gracefully and still see the beauty in this world than to be the old person who has let the world get to them.

Notice the beauty around you today and share it with those you encounter.

Questions to consider:

What traits do you want to hold onto as you age? Why?

What is more important–the number of years that we have lived, or the way we look at the world each day of our lives?

How might we work at keeping our ability to see beauty? What does it mean to you to see beauty?

For further thought:

“The whole of life is a journey toward youthful old age, toward self-contemplation, love, gaiety, and, in a fundamental sense, the most gratifying time of our lives. . . . “Old age” should be a harvest time when the riches of life are reaped and enjoyed, while it continues to be a special period for self-development and expansion.” ~ Ashley Montague

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See Better With Your Heart

“It is only with the heart that one can see rightly; what is essential is invisible to the eye.” ~ Antoine de Saint-Exupery, Le Petit Prince … 

We generally think of using our eyes when it comes to perception and observation. After all, they constantly absorb ridiculous amounts of data in real-time when we have them open. The human eyes are capable of seeing an astounding detail of 576 megapixels, 30 times greater than HDTV, and each “picture” our eye sees is about 1.61 gigabytes of RAW data. In comparison, it would take a current high-end laptop about 2 minutes to save just one of those pictures and do any kind of data processing on it like pattern recognition or color and motion detection. With all this data bombarding our brains, we must remember that we often have other senses that are under-utilized when it comes to observation and searching for truth.

I was friends with a blind person several years back who made a difference in my perceptions in life. I used to rely solely on my eyes for sight in life, only trusting what I saw–my belief was in seeing. However, one day, my friend was talking to me about food that he found delicious and I found gross. During our discussion, I came to the realization that I dislike some foods merely by their appearance, and not their taste, touch, or smell. I was restricting my perceptions to sight, and not allowing my other senses a chance to observe. This principle exists in all aspects of our lives–that rude and obnoxious man could be a sorrowful and hurting man.

What we see each day is not the most important aspect of our lives, for there is so much more that we can taste, smell, touch, and hear, and so much more that we can feel and experience from our hearts and spirits. Our bodies are beautiful and amazing instruments, but they are limited in how they let us experience our world. They do not tell us that another person needs comfort, nor do they feel the joy of an early-morning walk when the sun is rising. Our bodies cannot distinguish between concepts such as compassion, trust, love, peace, wonder, and acceptance. Not even our brains can do that, as wonderfully crafted as they are.

Our life is fashioned not by what we see with our eyes, but by what we feel with our hearts. So much of life I cannot see with my eyes, yet I know it in my heart. Thus, you choose poverty by feeling poor; you chose misfortune by not allowing your heart to feel fortunate; you choose happiness by allowing your heart to bathe in joy and elation. And although our eyes are amazing creations, the world that they present to us is at least half illusion–what we see is not always what is there. If you remember this, and let your heart do much of the seeing for you, you will discover a new look at life, right there in the midst of the one you have always thought you have known.

Try to see the world with your heart today–the troubled coworker, the sad child, the angry stranger.

Questions to consider:

Why are people so willing to believe that the world is just what their eyes tell them it is?

How might we go about “seeing” with our hearts? What would be the benefits of doing so?

Who are the people who have taught you the most? Thinking very honestly, have their teachings opened up your perspectives, or limited them?

For further thought:

“Inside yourself or outside, you never have to change what you see, only the way you see it.” ~ Thaddeus Golas

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Do Not Be Discouraged

“Sometimes things can go right only by first going very wrong.” ~ Edward Tenner, Why Things Bite Back … 

It is easy to become discouraged when things go wrong, and this is especially true when those things that are going wrong are happening to us personally. Fortunately, when we are at our low points in life, there is plenty of room for things to go right. Even in my own life, I have seen and experienced bad things; and yet despite this truth, I always discovered good things that still existed in the midst of it all, and even more that could have come about as a result of those bad things. And by honing my ability to see these things–this optimistic view of adversity in life–I have been able to find much more potential good in bad situations than I ever thought possible.

During the hot summer months, one of my favorite things to do is to take my daughters to the swimming pool. And at the pool, I often find that the pavement, after allowing the sun to beat down it all day, tends to scorch my feet in a very painful way. Generally, when this occurs, I try to find some cool water to get my feet wet. The cool water on my skin is such an amazing feeling in contrast to the hot pavement. Yet this wonderful feeling would not be possible without first feeling the scorching burn from the pavement.

It is in the pain, that we realize pleasure; in the rejection, that we realize acceptance; in the loss, that we realize the importance of presence. I find there is much more clarity in life when I allow myself to experience adversity and hardship in a real way, and then use it to contrast the good in my life. That is not to diminish the importance or the effects of what has gone wrong. We can experience things that go wrong without going through the feelings associated with those things happening in our lives. A breakup is difficult, and it will hurt us and bring us down. Losing a job is tremendously difficult on many levels. However, this is where we can have hope, where faith can play an important role in our lives. Just because the night looks dark, does not mean we have to cower in the darkness. We can allow ourselves hope that the light will return, and work to make sure we have done something before the morning light.

Life is a journey filled with many highs and lows. And at some point, we will all face similar situations in which we must deal with adversity and hardships, and find ourselves impoverished by our losses. Yet somehow, a thing going wrong often acts as motivation for us to change and to work towards improving. And it is from that growth, and a strong faith in life, that we are able to hold onto the hope that things can and will get better someday.

Take a moment to reassure yourself of any doubts you are currently facing. Tell yourself, that this too, shall pass.

Questions to consider:

What kinds of things have you seen go right only after they have gone very wrong?

Why is it important to keep our eyes open for the silver linings in every cloud that comes into our lives?

Think of people you have known who have faced great adversity. What kinds of attitudes have the people had? Which people were able to make more positive strides after having had things go wrong?

For further thought:

“In the hour of adversity, be not without hope; for crystal rain falls from black clouds.” ~ Nizami Ganjavi

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