Monthly Archives: August 2016

Real Strength

“Overstraining is the enemy of accomplishment. Calm strength that arises from a deep and inexhaustible source is what brings success.” ~ Rabindranath Tagore … 

This really comes down to our lack of knowledge of what constitutes true strength in life. All too often we see people “overstraining” themselves–wasting effort, time, and energy trying to do something or control someone or something–because they feel that strength is defined by how much effort is exerted. But strength is not a measure of force or control, nor is it a measure of how well we can absorb the hurt from others; strength is our ability to hold on to our internal peace, serenity, joy, compassion, mercy, and love in the midst of difficulties and failures, uncertainty and discord.

When we are able to handle difficult situations in authentic ways–remaining completely ourselves and not worrying about what others think or say about us–we forego overstraining and overexerting ourselves in harmful and unproductive ways. No longer do we need to raise our voice, curse, or threaten others, for we know that real strength is seeing the situation for what it is and determining a healthy and appropriate response.

Being strong does not mean we must show or prove our strength–one of the strongest individuals I have ever known did so silently, even when she was going through terminal illness. My grandmother was confident, compassionate, strong and selfless–never talking about how strong she was, simply being strong. She was courageous in the face of uncertainty and pain, never complaining of her lot in life, blaming God or others, or asking for something easier.

We each can achieve success in our lives by following Rabindranath’s message of nourishing the calm strength deep within. Without it, we may do some things well but success is often fleeting or just out of reach, and we cannot expect it to repeat itself. Yet with it–our inner strength–we have the ability to achieve great and lasting successes.

Take a moment to discover some of your lesser known inner strengths.

Questions to consider:

What is the difference between inner strength and superficial strength? Whom do you know who has each kind?

Why does inner strength seem to be more rare than superficial strength?

Why do people who depend on superficial strength tend to overstrain so often?

For further thought:

“You will succeed best when you put the restless, anxious side of affairs out of mind, and allow the restful side to live in your thoughts.” ~ Margaret Stowe

Leave a comment

Filed under Commentary, Food For Thought, Living, Opinion

Keep High Expectations

“It’s a funny thing about life; if you refuse to accept anything but the best, you very often get it.” – William Somerset Maugham … 

Some people are willing to accept nearly anything from anybody. They allow others to use them, abuse them, and treat them poorly… basically, to walk all over them. When they look for work, they accept whatever comes along instead of finding something they enjoy doing or something that fits well with their skills and abilities. And when life treats them unfairly, they accept it as the norm. These individuals seldom get “the best” from life.

Of course, this is not a healthy or satisfying way to go through life. It squanders all the opportunities and blessings that life has to offer us–deep relationships to be formed, fulfilling experiences to be enjoyed and shared, abundant wisdom and knowledge to be cultivated, positive growth and change to be realized, and even the many simple material things that are available to enjoy in life. In truth, the more we expect from life… the more it tends to give back.

I know that the more I expect from my children, the better effort they put forth. By not accepting mediocrity and demanding that others live up to their true potential, we see better results that go on to benefit all of society, and serve as a beacon of courage and hope for others to let their best shine through as well. This applies to each of my relationships as well as all of the expectations I hold for myself.

It is important to note that William is not telling us to buy the most expensive things in life–things that will offer no real benefits to our inner selves. In the same sense, he is also not going to tell us that we should settle for less either–things of poor quality that will break, wear out, go to waste, or make us feel subpar. After all, much of what comes to us in life is a reflection of what we feel we deserve, be that the ways that other people treat us, the clothes that we can afford, or the homes that we live in. And if we truly feel that we deserve a nice home, one that we feel is worth our time and effort, then chances are that we will find one.

We will not always get the best in life–that is simply an unrealistic view. But when we expect great things, those things eventually begin to happen. And the more we do so, the more often and greater the results. The key is learning how to expect the best and beginning to believe that we actually do deserve it. And as amazing children of God, as exceptional human beings who are doing our best in all we do, we most certainly do deserve it.

Keep high expectations of yourself and others.

Questions to consider:

What do you expect out of life? Does what you get match your expectations?

How can we teach ourselves to expect better things in life? Does everything have to be the best for us to be happy?

What do you expect of yourself? The best?

For further thought:

“Nurture your mind with great thoughts, for you will never go any higher than you think.” – Benjamin Disraeli

Leave a comment

Filed under Commentary, Food For Thought, Living, Opinion


“Don’t send me flowers when I die–give them to me now so we can appreciate their beauty together!” – C. Leslie Charles … 

Have you ever considered how much time and effort we spend on funerals–ceremonies that exist to show our deference for people who are already dead, and who cannot know or appreciate that we are honoring them? What is that all about? I am of course aware that much of what we do during funerals is to bring comfort to the survivors, but the bottom line is that it is the life of the person who has died that brings us together.

Personally, I do not want or need a funeral. I will be dead after all, so I will not be able to enjoy it. I would prefer to do what Morrie Schwartz did when he was dying from ALS–have a funeral before he died so that he could actually hear the kind and loving things that people had to say about him. I would prefer that people spend money on flowers for me while I am still here to be amazed by their graceful beauty and fragrance. And I do not want anyone to shed tears–I will be moving on to something new and different, a much happier place without the evils of this world, and I would much rather people celebrate with me than mourn because of me.

Of course, it is important for those left behind to grieve–it is a natural human emotion to do so. But the grief does not have to be tied to things like buying flowers too late or wishing that we had told the deceased certain things whilst they were still alive.

Is there anyone in my life who could use some flowers today? Do I know someone who could use some kind words of affection, someone who has affected me in positive ways, but whom I have not yet told? Instead of giving things like this posthumously, I can actually share those flowers or words with them now, and both of us will be richer for the experience.

Gift flowers to someone you care about or let them know how much they mean to you.

Questions to consider:

Why do we so often wait until someone is dead before we speak aloud the thoughts we have of them?

What would it feel like to share some flowers with a person who’s special to you, for no real reason other than he or she is special to you?

How would you feel if someone told you how special you are to them without having waited until you die to do so?

For further thought:

Though they are lovely, their scent heavenly,
splendid in all their bouquet;
Don’t bring me flowers after I’m gone –
show me you love me today.

What good will they do caressing a stone,
though pretty, their meaning I’ll miss;
Express to me now you’re thankful I’m here,
give me a hug or a kiss.

My age has crept up have wrinkles aplenty,
my good years behind me, at best;
but wisdom and spirit I’m happy to share,
indulge now – before I’m at rest.

Lori Williams

Leave a comment

Filed under Commentary, Food For Thought, Living, Opinion

Find And Pursue Something You Love Doing

“If my doctor told me I only had six months to live, I wouldn’t brood. I’d type a little faster.” – Isaac Asimov … 

Along the same lines as yesterday’s theme, making the most of the time we have available to us should be perhaps the key focus of our day each morning we wake. The truth of the matter is that one day, we are going to leave this planet, and no amount of agonizing over this truth will change that fact. We can, however, enjoy every minute of every day–the good, the bad… all of it; for the journey that we call life is experienced however we choose.

Isaac realized his own mortality and knew the importance of his time here on Earth. He also knew that writing was what he enjoyed and was his particular way of contributing to the world. And so we was aware that some of the best contributions he could make during his last six months of life were through the words he composed and shared with others. We, too, experience that feeling that there is “more” to life at some point along our journey. Perhaps we feel that we should be performing some other line of work or giving back and serving the community more. Maybe we hear the call to travel more and to share in the lives of others. The fact is, that until we have found things in life that we truly love, and have found ways to incorporate them into our lives, we will be discontent–for our souls will not be doing what they yearn to be doing.

Each day, I work towards creating a better version of myself than yesterday–passing on some of the wisdom I have gathered to those who walk this Earth with me, raising my children with the love of a father, listening to those who need someone to talk to, and comforting others who are alone and afraid. And if I were to find out that I had six months to live, well, there is no place I would rather be than right there with those who already value my presence. I therefore find the majority of my life fulfilling–in a very genuine way. I may fill my weekends with more fun activities, my evenings with more books and family time, and my silence with more prayers; yet for the most part, I am content with where I am going in life and I am prepared for whatever it may bring me.

If we were to find out that our time here on Earth was to be more limited than we had previously thought or hoped… what would we do? Would we become depressed and feel sorry for ourselves, or would we simply accept the fact that our lives are going to end, and what matters most is that it is lived to the fullest in each and every moment in which we possibly can, until the last breath escapes through our lips?

Find and pursue something that you love doing.

Questions to consider:

Why do so many people feel that it is important to cram a lot of living into their last few months if they find out they are going to die?

What kinds of things do you truly love to do? How do those things contribute to others?

What do you think you would do if you found out you had six more months to live? What do you think those choices tell you about yourself?

For further thought:

“St. Francis of Assisi was hoeing his garden when someone asked what he would do if he were suddenly to learn that he would die before sunset that very day. “I would finish hoeing my garden,” he replied.” ~ Louis Fischer

Leave a comment

Filed under Commentary, Food For Thought, Living, Opinion

Living Or Existing?

“The value of life lies not in the length of days, but in the use we make of them; one may live long yet live very little.” ~ Michel de Montaigne … 

It seems to me that society has become infatuated with living forever–or at least living extended lives. With the launch of Calico, even companies such as Google have jumped in to searching for ways to increase life expectancy and perhaps discover immortality. Yet when I see others trying to escape or avoid death, I immediately begin to wonder as to the reasons why. Is it fear or despair? Is it unhappiness or discontent? Do such individuals truly feel that living life completely, even for just a day, is perhaps not fulfilling enough? <!–more–> 

When I became a father, I started to think more about family and raising children–about where my life was going and about where I wanted it to be. I began to question how and where I was seeking purpose and fulfillment in my life; to ask myself, “Am I truly living my life… or simply existing?” The answers I found led me to make changes in those places of my life that were perhaps selfish or not exactly life giving. In addition, I came to the realization that the purpose of life is much greater than simply surviving the time I am alive… it is about happiness and contentment, accomplishment and legacy, compassion, love, and kindness, service and sacrifice, giving and receiving, growing and sharing. And when I think of the individuals I know who have the highest amount of discontent in their lives, they are the ones who have not made–or are not making–the decisions to do the things in their lives that they truly love–things that they deeply enjoy and that give them a strong feeling of accomplishment and purpose.

There is a song by Tim McGraw in which he sings about a man that says, “Someday I hope you get the chance to live like you were dying.” And although it ironic that one would consider “living” to be the process of “dying,” when we are faced with our own mortality, we often begin to live our lives more fully, more deeply, and with much more purpose and zeal, and that is the difference between living and simply existing.

Life is not all about accomplishment–many of my best days have yielded little to nothing at all. They have, however, helped me to rest and recuperate, to contemplate and meditate, to wonder and marvel, to experience gratitude and appreciation, to add new layers of paint to the multi-colored canvas of my life. Life is truly about using our days effectively. It is about making a living and carrying out the necessary duties of the day. It is about caring for those we are responsible for ensuring that they have everything they need to live their day to the fullest. It is about giving our all and performing to the best of our abilities–knowing that in doing so, we are making valuable contributions to the lives of others. As it has been said before, “One day your life will flash before your eyes. Make sure it’s worth watching.”

Invest in yourself by making full use of the day that lies before you.

Questions to consider:

What, to you, is the difference between “living” and “existing”?

How does it become so easy for us to start to coast through life without expecting ourselves to make decisions that will cause us to make more of each of the days that we live?

What does it mean to you to “live long yet live very little”?

For further thought:

“I have never given very deep thought to a philosophy of life, though I have a few ideas that I think are useful to me. One is that you do whatever comes your way as well as you can, and another is that you think as little as possible about yourself and as much as possible about other people and about things that are interesting. The third is that you get more joy out of giving joy to others and should put a good deal of thought into the happiness that you are able to give.” ~ Eleanor Roosevelt

Leave a comment

Filed under News

Be The Overcomer

“You learn more from ten days of agony than from ten years of content.” ~ Sally Jessy Raphael … 

Contentment, serenity, peace, gladness–these are all such wonderful aspects of life. Yet when we experience them, it is important that we keep the reality of life in perspective–we all have our darkest days… times when we feel that we are hanging on by a thread and cannot make it through what life has dealt us. And during such periods of our life, it is important to remain steadfast and focused, for these are the times in which we have the greatest ability for growth and change. When things are going poorly, or when unpleasant things are happening, it is important that we are able to recognize that the sun is still shining brightly, just beyond the clouds. And when the storms subside, we will have become a stronger individual because of what we have faced–the trials and difficulties will help us to become all the more useful to those who matter most in our lives.<!–more–>

This brings up an important aspect of overcoming difficulties in life–not being afraid to ask others for help. Many individuals have gone through hard times and similar experiences as we are faced with and have come out stronger and more resilient. Not only are these individuals wonderful sources for advice, but more often than not, they would be delighted to be able to help someone else through similar times by sharing some of their knowledge, wisdom, and insight.

Unfortunately, we cannot always rely on others to help us through the hardships of life. Sometimes, there simply are no words that can help us and we may need to help ourselves. Yet knowing the truth behind Sally’s words–both accepting it and believing it–can be an effective means to understanding and dealing with the difficulties of life. For therein lies the perspective that is necessary of us to unlock the true potential of such hardships–to help us grow and change into more stronger, kinder, more compassionate and caring individuals.

Reflect on how the hurt and pains you face in life might help you to become stronger.

Questions to consider:

If you are going through something difficult, do you value advice from someone who has been through the same thing over the advice of someone who has never experienced it?

What is the value of learning through adversity?

Just because we learn more from agony, does that mean we want to search out agonizing situations?

For further thought:

“You will not grow if you sit in a beautiful flower garden, but you will grow if you are sick, in pain, experience losses, and if you do not put your head in the sand, but take the pain and learn to accept it, not as a curse or punishment, but as a gift to you with a very, very specific purpose.” ~ Elisabeth Kubler-Ross

Leave a comment

Filed under Commentary, Food For Thought, Living, Opinion

Challenges Offer Opportunities For Growth

“Should you shield the canyons from the windstorms, you would never see the beauty of their carvings.” ~ Elisabeth Kubler-Ross … 

The sandstone canyons of the southwest United States are some of the beautiful results of the carvings of the wind. Standing before them, and peering out into the horizon, we see the majestic cliffs and columns rise gracefully into the sky, mute reminders of the power nature possesses of change over time. Through them, we are witness to the results of the wind beating down upon these rocks for years, weathering them, carving them, and shaping them into the magnificent spires that they are today. Of course, the wind is not solely responsible for the beauty of these canyons, but it is a huge contributor. <!–more–> 

Elisabeth is reminding us, in such a beautiful way, that just like these canyons, we are marvelous creations–miraculous and unique individuals who exhibit wonderful qualities for the entire world to see. And in much the same way as the windstorms have carved these canyons, the storms in our lives have helped to bring us to the point we are now. All the obstacles along our journey, all the tempests that threatened us and tossed us through the oceans of life, also helped to shape us, and to wear away some of the inessential parts of our becoming.

Of course, the storms are not always easy to face or to weather; sometimes we will be afraid and wish that we were completely protected from them. Yet this will never be the reality–we can never fully control the outcomes of any storms. We can, however, work our ways through them as best we know how, as the ways in which we face the adversity of life’s storms will have a lot to do with the beauty of the carvings that emerge in us. And as we face them, and deal with them on their terms as well as our own, we will change, grow, and continue to uncover and expose the higher parts of ourselves for all to see–the amazing beauty of the character and integrity that is so strong within.

Discover new ways in which the adversity and difficutly you face help you to grow.

Questions to consider:

Why are storms so frightening? If we knew that we would come through them unscathed, would they be so frightening?

What kinds of beauty have been exposed in you over the years? Patience, simplicity, strength, willingness to bend and compromise?

How can we help other people to work their way through the storms of life without trying to shield them completely from the winds that are so important?

For further thought:

“Even if I may be going through a challenging experience, I am grateful, for I know that good will come from it. Will I learn of inner strength that I didn’t know I had? Will I gain a renewed appreciation for my life and the people in it? I am grateful for my present circumstances, for I know they offer opportunities for growth.” ~ unattributed, The Daily Word

Leave a comment

Filed under Commentary, Food For Thought, Living, Opinion