Monthly Archives: November 2016

Marks Of Success

“Success means we go to sleep at night knowing that our talents and abilities were used in a way that served others.” ~ Marianne Williamson, A Return to Love … 

Do I feel successful at night when I lay down to sleep? I sense that the answer to this is yes, however, I still feel that I could do more, that I could do better. There are times when I find myself wondering if I am using my talents and abilities to their highest possible effect and in ways that best serve others and their needs. I even question if the things I do really matter–if my contributions to the world are at all important. I have very little money to help others when they are experiencing hard times, I find myself too busy some days to be there for those who may need me, and at times I even get too busy satisfying my own wants and desires that I fail to ask myself, “What are the needs of others?”

However, I really should be realistic with myself and of the expectations I hold, for success does not have to be something I can quantify or that others can see. In addition, I need to keep in mind that we each have certain talents and abilities in life that are stronger than others, and it would seem to me a good measure to think that using them to serve others is the most important element of success. After all, I have an extremely limited influence in this world, and so it would be very unrealistic of me to measure my success by any other terms.

If I go by Marianne’s definition of success, there are many days in which I have not succeeded–days in which I have fallen short of my potential for serving others. Yet I should not allow this to make me feel like my talents are not worth sharing. Instead, I have the ability to use this knowledge to aspire to succeed in a new way that benefits both myself and everyone around me. There are plenty of people in my life who have talents and abilities that are certainly needed by those who do not possess those talents. Some people are good at helping others work through issues and problems… some are not. Some can build, others cannot. The world needs all of our unique talents and abilities, and if we allow ourselves to serve others, then we will find success each night when we go to sleep.

Living life to the fullest involves finding ways to serve others and to leave our own unique marks of success in their lives. These marks can be small, and they can be modest, for they are always part of a much greater whole and their marks go on to affect others as well. And once we do discover ways in which we can serve others with our talents and abilities, we will begin to see our lives through different eyes at the end of the day–eyes with much greater gratitude and clarity.

Take some time today to serve another with your unique talents and abilities.

Questions to consider:

What are your three strongest abilities? Who might benefit from you sharing them?

Why do so many of us think that we have to serve many people for our service to be worthwhile?

From where do we get the idea that service must be far-reaching to be worthwhile? Is that an accurate assessment?

For further thought:

“It is not the style of clothes one wears, neither the kind of automobile one drives, nor the amount of money one has in the bank, that counts. These mean nothing. It is simply service that measures success.” ~ George Washington Carver

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Nature Speaks

“Rivers and rocks and trees have always been talking to us, but we’ve forgotten how to listen.” ~ Michael Roads, Talking With Nature … 

It is true that nature speaks to us if we choose to listen to it. I can often feel and smell the thunderstorm gathering in the distance, and I can hear the rustling of the trees from the wind as the storm front moves in. Rivers can tell us years of history, of cutting courses through the terrain and the slow and constant wearing of rocks. Still, I often forget how true Michael’s message is in my life, and when I forget, I am not nearly as aware of the beauty surrounding me, or of the calming properties of the things nature has given to me. Therefore, it is at these periods in my life, more than ever, that I need to allow myself some time for clarity.

One thing I have always loved to do since my childhood is to stand outside in the rain–to allow the cool water to soak my clothes and wash over me. When I allow myself this experience, I feel alive–as if I have come much closer to eternity–which leaves me with a deeper sense of peace and acceptance in life. And we can all experience this… and it does not have to be a thunderstorm–perhaps a simple walk out in nature will suffice. Just taking some time alone allows us the opportunity to increase our awareness of the messages that nature is speaking to us–to develop and strengthen our connection with nature and be receptive to our surroundings and their messages.

It seems that the further humanity travels onward down its path, the more we find ourselves becoming distanced from nature. Cities grow larger, people become busier, and the communication gets lost. The messages are still there–rocks, trees, and rivers still speak to us–but how well do we listen? Are we receptive to the messages nature speaks to us or are we preoccupied with things, activities, and places that break our connection with nature? For many of us in our busy lives, time with nature tends to become more of a luxury than a necessity.

Do you hear the birds when you are outside? Do you feel and smell the rain during thunderstorms? Do you see the beautiful colors present outside on a nice summer walk through nature? I believe our connection with this earth is important, and we should attempt to keep it just as much a part of our lives as we are of its life.

Spend 30 minutes outside listening to nature speak.

Questions to consider:

Why do most people lose their contact with the elements of nature? What effects can this loss have?

How might we re-establish our contact? What kinds of benefits would this effort bestow upon us?

What possible messages could rocks, trees, and rivers have for us?

For further thought:

“If only we knew, boss, what the stones and rain and flowers say. Maybe they call–call us–and we don’t hear them. When will people’s ears open, boss? When shall we have our eyes open to see? When shall we open our arms to embrace everything–stones, rain, flowers, and people? What do you think about that, boss? And what do your books have to say about that?” ~ Nikos Kazantzakis, Zorba the Greek

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A Testament To Possibility

“If we did all the things we are capable of doing, we would literally astound ourselves.” ~ Thomas Alva Edison … 

Holding the record of 1093 patents for inventions in his lifetime, Thomas was quite an astounding man. He invented the phonograph, improved upon the light bulb making it practical for home use, made many advancements in electricity, patented work in motion picture recording, and so much more. I would think that he knows just what he is talking about when it comes to astounding oneself; and so the question I should ask myself is, “How can I do all the things I am capable of?”

Since we each are each unique and completely different people, we have no way of knowing what anyone else is capable of… we can really only understand what ourselves are capable of. So right of the bat, we should rule out giving advice to others on what they are not capable of, as well as taking advice from others on what we are not capable of accomplishing. As a kid, I had the blessing of great parents who not only supported me, but also reinforced my confidence in what I can and cannot do. From firsthand knowledge, I can therefore say that the second thing we can do is to be supportive and encouraging towards the youth of our society, especially our own children. They are on a path of discovery, and we should impart our wisdom carefully by allowing them to pursue their ambitions with confidence and clarity.

How else can I do all the things that I am capable of, after all, there simply is not enough time to develop all the possible talents I have let alone the potential ones? However, in recognizing this truth, I can certainly concentrate on spending more time doing the things I love and find fulfilling. This will allow me to focus my attention on my abilities that interest me and will provide the greatest potential for me. As long as I do not allow the restrictions and limitations voiced to me by others to affect me, I am well on the path to becoming everything I am capable of becoming.

We have such awesome potential to do all sorts of amazing things if we just allow ourselves the time to learn them well. And if we remember this, well then life can never be boring, pointless, and tedious–for there is always the potential for something better in our future. If we dedicated ourselves to it, we could learn a new career, and in that career, we could accomplish new and great things.

Edison’s life was a testament to possibility and the power of our potential. And when reading these words, and knowing that they have come from such an remarkable man as him, it is easy for me to understand that I am reading some very special concepts about life and living. Do some new things–enjoy them and get good at them–and I guarantee you that you will astound yourself each day of your life.

Spend some time today doing something that helps develop a talent of yours.

Questions to consider:

Why do we start to believe other people when they speak to us of limitation?

What kinds of things might you truly enjoy doing that you do not do currently? Do you have some potential time to devote to them? Are you willing to try them?

How might you go about developing the ability to take on new things and to trust your ability to do them?

For further thought:

“I have a very firm belief that the life of no man can be explained in terms of his experiences, of what has happened to him, because in spite of all the poetry, all the philosophy to the contrary, we are not really masters of our fate. We don’t really direct our lives unaided and unobstructed. Our being is subject to all the chances of life. There are so many things we are capable of, what we could be or do. The potentialities are so great that we never, any of us, are more than one-fourth fulfilled.” ~ Katherine Anne Porter, Conversations

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Give Thanks For Life Itself

“Life is a gift. It’s a complitment just being born: to feel, breathe, think, play, dance, sing, work, and make love, for this particular lifetime. Today give thanks for life. For life itself! For simply being born!” ~ Daphne Rose Kingma, 365 Days of Love … 

Since I have already been blessed with the gift of life, it is something that I sometimes take for granted. Yet by the mere fact of my being alive and conscious right now, how can I not rejoice in “simply being born?” Life gives me the opportunity to live in this world full of amazing people, sights, sounds, creatures, and things to do, and I have every reason to be thankful for this blessing I have been given. Sure life has its ups and downs, and at times it is filled with troubles and difficulties that seem insurmountable, but in this truth lies the answer.

It is true we were not all born into ideal situations, and some of us have experienced tremendous hurdles along our ways through life. Still, we are alive today, and as Daphne points out, this as a reason to rejoice. Our life, in an instance, can be over. And when we reflect on this truth, we should be thankful for all we have–for our amazing body, for the opportunity to live, breathe, exercise, observe, and simply be alive, for good health and for the talents and abilities we possess. It is true that I may have to face difficulties, sadness, loss, and adversity today, however, I still have the ability to feel real gratitude for this day, and this resilience can help me to get through the difficult and challenging times.

Having an attitude of gratitude allows us a healthy perspective from which we can live a more positive life and better experience much of the endless things for which we have to be thankful for in life. In addition, when we can recognize and appreciate the gifts we have, we can weigh them accurately against the problems and difficulties we face, which allows us to see them as the small hills that they truly are, instead of imagining them as insurmountable mountains.

Always carry gratitude in your heart, not just for everything you have, but also for simply here today. Gratitude is the source of all the good we experience in life; it is the beginning of life itself.

Take a moment to truly feel gratitude for simply being born, and then reflect with gratitude upon the opportunity to be alive today.

Questions to consider:

What are some of the barriers that keep you from being thankful just for being alive? How might you work through those barriers?

What other blessings are you able to enjoy just because you are here on this planet in human form?

How can feeling and expressing gratitude help you in this life?

For further thought:

“When you arise in the morning, give thanks for the morning light, for your life and strength. Give thanks for your food and the joy of living. If you see no reason for giving thanks, the fault lies in yourself.” ~ Tecumseh, Chief of the Shawnee nation, (1768-1813)

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Keep Trying

“You may be disappointed if you fail, but you are doomed if you don’t try.” ~ Beverly Sills … 

As much as successful as I am, I have experienced a lot of failures in my life. As a boy, I lost sparring matches at taekwondo tournaments and went home empty handed. My senior year of high school football, we were down by 20 points at halftime and rallied back to within 4 points only to fall short and lose. And a few years back I started a business that simply ended up costing too much time and money in overhead to keep going. I have made many mistakes, and faced failure time and time again, but I realized long ago that failure is ok, for within it, I have made the effort to succeed, and I have learned much about myself and how I might increase my chances for success in the future. Failure has become a normal and acceptable step in growth for me.

For some of us, a major determining factor in avoiding risk is not to look silly in the eyes of others, as if we need their approval. Another factor is the fear of losing that which we already feel comfortable with. And although both are unfortunate losses, what is worse is avoiding risk only to disappoint ourselves. If we see it through, in the end, others will respect and admire us for our attitude and determination. One of the more interesting things I have discovered is that the times when I thought I have really disappointed others, they actually have been more impressed with the fact that I took a risk and made a strong effort than they are disappointed that things did not turn out the way I thought they should.

Sometimes we are looking at life in the wrong way. Sure, we may fail, but we will also find success in our failures if we allow ourselves to. And perhaps we may even disappoint, but others will be understanding of us and admire our resolve. And when we keep this in mind, we are often much more likely to take risks, for we are certain that we will not disappoint ourselves and those around us. Another thing that can help us is to remember that the world is full of people who have succeeded. They, too, have been faced with risk and the same potential for failure as we are faced with, yet they chose the risk because it also held the potential for success. It is this optimistic view that allows us to find the positive in our failures, to learn lessons from our mistakes, and present ourselves with the unlimited potential for growth.

If we never try–challenge ourselves, embark on new journeys, and experience new things–we may never know the outcome, or where our path may lead us. And realizing that things can and do happen, and accepting this as a normal step in growth, frees us up to take more chances, to stretch our limits, to take on more challenges and expand our comfort zone.

Challenge yourself today to attempt something in which you find potential failure.

Questions to consider:

What are some of the factors that keep you from trying things that are difficult or risky?

How do the people who truly matter usually react when you make a mistake or do not accomplish something you have set out to do?

What kinds of things have you not tried recently? What kinds of things might you try in the future?

For further thought:

“Yes, risk-taking is inherently failure-prone. Otherwise, it would be called sure-thing-taking.” ~ Tim McMahon, punk rock vocalist

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Messages In Problems

“Problems are messages. When there are problems in your life, the universe may be trying to get your attention. It’s saying, “Hey, there’s something you need to be aware of, something that needs to be changed over here!” ~ Shakti Gawain, The Shakti Gawain Essentials … 

Problems are a normal occurrence in my life. And although I do not ask for problems, or try to create them, they tend to show up whether I like it or not. Much of this can be blamed on my choices and actions. One small mistake will leave me with many repercussions that I must deal with down the road; and these negative consequences tend to stick around far longer than we would often like.

I recall a period of my young adult years in which I made some wrong choices, and nearly every aspect of my life was affected negatively, in some way or another, as a result. In addition, I was not very good at listening to the messages these problems were conveying to me at this period in my life, and as more problems began to arise, I would do my best to ignore them. Of course, if I knew then what I know now, I would have saw the messages, and I am confident that I could have avoided many of those problems that occurred. But I did not know, and I did not purposely ignore these messages either, I was simply unaware of them altogether.

So how can we recognize the messages that problems are conveying to us, understand them, and then apply those lessons to our lives? The first thing we must do is confront the problems and come to accept that they truly do exist–seeing the problems… is seeing the message. And then once we see it, we can look at it and figure out its dynamics–where it came from, what it involves, how others contributed to it, and most importantly, how we contributed to it. Did we act out of negligence, ignorance, silliness, uncaring? What can we learn about others through their contributions to the problem–their involvement or lack of involvement in it? Are they a positive influence or a negative one in our life?

How well we are able to recognize the messages present in our lives is a direct reflection of our awareness, our busyness, and the distractions that make up our lives. And with a little effort, we can learn to consistently recognize these messages, learn from them, and then apply those lessons in our lives, which will allow our lives to be much more positive, as well as less problematic.

Take some time to find a few messages in a problem you are facing today.

Questions to consider:

What kinds of messages about yourself might you find in your current problems?

How might we learn how to recognize messages more effectively?

Why are so few of us able to look at problems as if they might be bringing us special knowledge that is important to us?

For further thought:

“Welcome problems, reach out for them, charge into them and convert them in your mind immediately to challenges. The negative way to look at a problem is to think of it as a problem. Search it out, isolate it as a problem, then in your mind convert it to a challenge, determine the steps that you will need to surmount it just as the pole-vaulter needs to first determine steps and then work at it. Only in this way do you develop the skill, the coordination, the mind, the muscle and the confidence to really get it done.” ~ Joe D. Batten and Leonard C. Hudson, Dare to Live Passionately

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Renew Your Application Of Life Daily

“Appreciation is like an insurance policy. It has to be renewed every now and then.” ~ Dave McIntyre … 

I am often surprised when I receive the bill for my vehicle insurance policies in the mail. Being that I receive them annually, I tend to forget about them until it comes time to pay them. However, since my insurance policies provide me with a level of confidence for the future, and whatever it may bring, it is important that I have them and stay up to date with them. Of course, there are times in my life in which I find myself too busy doing something else or distracted from the here and now. And when this happens, I generally find it difficult to focus on being appreciative. With my mind on other things such as work, money, chores, and other such requirements, I often fail to appreciate the things I currently have in my life–homes and family, food on the table, good health, water to shower and take a bath with, and so forth.

What Dave is hinting at here is that there are times in which our appreciation of life, and all we have, will in a sense expire–we will cease to feel an appreciation for them. And because we are ones who benefit most from our appreciation of things and relationships, this loss will most affect us. Therefore, although we do not technically have to renew our appreciation like an insurance policy, by doing so, we are then constantly reminded of the richness of life around us, of the gifts that are ours each new day of our lives. The help offered by a passing stranger, the kind words and advice of a friend, the many gifts we enjoy each day–they all mean so much more if we receive them in a spirit of appreciation and gratefulness.

So how can we can renew this insurance policy? The way I see it, all we must do is simply pay attention to those things we appreciate, noticing the little details that we so often miss when we are preoccupied and busy. In addition, we can remind ourselves just how special life, people, and things are, and how fortunate we are to be blessed by this specialness in our lives. After all, there are so many things that we are blessed with each day that many others do not have the opportunity to experience, or simply miss out on.

My life is filled with so many things that are important, valuable, and good. And by renewing my appreciation for these things, I am offered satisfaction for the past I have experienced, provided motivation in the present life I am living, and offered hope for the future.

Take a moment to renew your appreciation of life today–both in your relationships and in the good thing around you.

Questions to consider:

How do we reach a point at which we stop appreciating things?

How does appreciation make you feel as the one who appreciates? As the recipient of the appreciation?

What kinds of things can you do to renew your appreciation? Of which parts of your life do you need to renew it?

For further thought:

“Whatever our individual troubles and challenges may be, it’s important to pause every now and then to appreciate all that we have, on every level. We need to literally “count our blessings,” give thanks for them, allow ourselves to enjoy them, and relish the experience of prosperity we already have.” ~ Shakti Gawain, Creating True Prosperity

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