Category Archives: Commentary

Learn to trust your feelings and intuitions a little more.

“You closed your eyes. That was the difference. Sometimes you cannot believe what you see, you have to believe what you feel. And if you are ever going to have other people trust you, you must feel that you can trust them too–even when you are in the dark. Even when you are falling.” ~ Morrie Schwartz …

Perhaps you have participated in one of the activities known as “trust falls.” In these exercises, an individual must stand with their back facing towards someone else, and fall backwards without preparing to brace himself or herself for the fall–essentially placing all their trust in the person who is catching them. Life is a lot like this; we cannot always believe what we see, but we can believe what we feel.

As rational beings, we are often quick to see our feelings as inferior to our logic and our rational thoughts, disregarding them as just feelings. Yet this is a huge mistake, for our feelings comprise one of the most important elements of who we are as human beings–they are completely unique and have much to teach us about ourselves and how we fit into the world around us, as well as the ability to add value, purpose, and meaning to our lives.

And when it comes to our feelings that we do listen to, we tend to give the instinctual ones more value, as if they are more valid. But what about our feelings of joy or pleasure? Surely, they are an indication that something is very valuable to us. Or what about our feelings of apprehension or unease? Perhaps they can tell us whether something is good or bad for us.

Most of us have experienced being approached by a deceptive or fake individual who was trying to make it seem as if he or she really was interested in us as a person. Perhaps a salesperson who was telling you everything they thought you wanted to hear in order to secure you as a buyer. Or an individual who pretends to care about things that are important to you, only to say differently behind your back. In cases like these, our feelings can offer us a better understanding of the motivations behind an individual’s words and actions, and possibly protect us from putting ourselves in a place where we can be hurt or taken advantage of.

Our feelings are as much a part of who we are as our logical and rational thoughts. And if we can come to read and understand the feelings that we experience, they can provide for us a necessary balance in our lives–a balance that will make it much easier for us to live our lives to the fullest each day.

Learn to trust your feelings and intuitions a little more.

Questions to consider:

Why might someone discount their feelings and pay more attention to their logical thoughts?

What happens to us when we pay less attention to our feelings?

What value can our feelings bring to our lives?

For further thought:

“By going along with feelings, you unify your emotional, mental and bodily states. When you try to fight or deny them, you divorce yourself from the reality of your being.” ~ Jane Roberts

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Work towards turning a dream of yours into reality

There are some people who live in a dream world, and there are some who face reality; and then there are those who turn one into the other.” ~ Douglas Everett …

I, for one, do not want to live in a society that mocks the dreamers–a society that tells us that our dreams cannot become our realities or that their version of reality has to be our version as well. We are marvelous and unique beings, created by a loving God for a purpose that is quite perfectly our own. Who is to say that our dreams have to be like theirs, or anyone else’s in this world for that matter? Just because someone else dreams of amassing new things, more power, greater wealth, or more fame, does not mean we, too, share the same passion. Perhaps we just want to travel the world more, or dream of a simpler life with less stress and more peace.

There is more to what Douglas is saying, though, than simply realizing that we are in charge of choosing our own dreams in life. We must also realize that within us, we possess the ability to turn those dreams into our reality, if we but dare to take the necessary steps to make them come true. What did you dream of as a child? Have you realized any of those dreams? What do you dream of today? How do you feel when you are focused on those dreams? As children, we often allowed ourselves to dream with the idea that any one of those dreams could come true. But as we grow older, we often times buy into what other people consider reality, and our dreams get pushed aside, packed away, and perhaps even forgotten.

Do you see your dreams as potential realities in life? They definitely can be… for they are just as much a part of us as our thoughts, hopes, and beliefs, and they deserve to be afforded the same amount of effort and respect as everything else that we do.

Work towards turning a dream of yours into reality.

Questions to consider:

Why do we often put our dreams on hold?

How can we go about turning our dreams into our realities?

What differences do you see between dreams and reality?

For further thought:

“Dreams pass into the reality of action. From the actions stems the dream again; and this interdependence produces the highest form of living.” ~ Anais Nin

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Filed under Commentary, Food For Thought, Kidnapping and Terrorism, Living, People

Be your authentic self.

“Let the world know you as you are, not as you think you should be, because sooner or later, if you are posing, you will forget the pose, and then where are you?” ~ Fanny Brice …

Have you ever found yourself displaying to the world a version of yourself that did not quite match up to the one you really are inside? Perhaps you remember being told by a parent to smile and say thank you for a gift you received even if you did not like it? Or maybe you were asked by your employer to always be cheerful and smile to the customers. Not the easiest task, eh, especially if you are feeling awful inside.

Many of us base our actions on what others think we should be or do. Perhaps we dress a specific way because we want to be thought of as cool or trendy, or we hide our true feelings and beliefs because we are afraid we may be made fun of. But when we pose for the world, we are not being sincere or honest with anyone, including our self. In a way, we are creating a second personality that is not genuine or authentic–one that slowly begins to inhibit our growth and potential and leave us confused about our identity and the true nature of our purpose on Earth.

Imagine a young boy filled with kindness, love, and compassion–a boy who loves life with a tremendous passion. But as this child grows up, he begins to act differently around everyone, developing a zeal for pleasing his boss and climbing the corporate ladder at the expense of what his heart once knew. One day when he looks in the mirror, he comes to realize that he no longer recognizes the person looking back. The boy who was once sure of himself, has come to forget who he truly is, and that is a great tragedy.

Never forget who you are. You are not your father or your mother. You are not your brother or sister. You are not the person that others want you to be. You are who you are–a truly authentic and unique person.

Be your authentic self.

Questions to consider:

Do you ever tend to pose for others? In which situations? Why might you come to let the pose define who you are?

How do you define your authentic self? What qualities does this true self love?

How often do you let this person shine through?

For further thought:

“It is finally when you let go of what people expect you to be and people’s perceptions of you that you’re able to be the version of yourself that you’re supposed to be–like in God’s eyes. It doesn’t matter if you’re half crazy, or eccentric, or whatever it is–that you have to be true to who you were born to be.” ~ Gwyneth Paltrow

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Pass on kindness to those you encounter.

“The point is not to pay back kindness but to pass it on.” ~ Julia Alvarez …

It was impressed upon me as a child, that if someone showed me kindness, it is imperative that I repay that kindness back. And for much of my younger years, I never did really give others the opportunity to simply give to me, and receive only thanks and gratitude in return. Nor did I truly understand the value and the awesome power of passing on a kindness that was done to me.

Allowing others to give without being burdened by our recompense is an important part of both our divinity and our humanity. When we try to always pay back kindness, we constantly leave others feeling like they are in debt. I know from my own mindset, that when I perform a kind act, I do so without the intention of having it paid back. It therefore seems a bit unfair for me to assume that I must repay others who show me kindness. Such a perspective, in a way, cheapens their kindness by assigning a self-serving motive to it, which is not really fair; to some extent, it takes away part of the joy and the value of their gift.

More importantly, when we pass the kindness of an individual on to another, we allow the ripples in the pond to continue onward–positively affecting more people, changing hearts, minds, and lives in a way that might otherwise never have occurred. It is a beautiful feeling to think of the chain reaction of a simple kindness I do for one person. If my simple act can motivate others to pass it on, then it becomes much more–it becomes a spark that can start a flame that can spread into the lives and hearts of many more people.

Kindness is about making a small contribution to the positive side of life, with no expectation of return. This kindness allows us all the opportunity and ability, to affect the world in its entirety, in a positive way, every day of our life.

Pass on kindness to those you encounter.

Questions to consider:

What motivates you to perform kind acts?

Why might we think that paying others back for a kindness is important?

Is a kind act, truly a kind act, if it is done with the expectation of repayment?

For further thought:

Have you had a kindness shown?
Pass it on;
‘Twas not given for thee alone,
Pass it on;
Let it travel down the years,
Let it wipe another’s tears,
Till in Heaven the deed appears–
Pass it on.

~ Henry K. Burton, Pass It On

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Reflect on all the potential available to you throughout the day.

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

How much of our lives have been spent focusing on our fears and frustrations, guided more by our theories of our limitations rather than our potential? As a boy, I can recall watching Joe Montana lead the 49ers to victory with his game-winning touchdown passes and inspirational comebacks, and thinking to myself, “I want to be just like him.” I spent a lot of time practicing football with my brothers, passing, catching, and throwing the ball through tires and the spacers on our swing set. But I also remember many failures over the years, interceptions, dropped snaps, sacks–failures to live up to my own expectations of myself. Frustrated at my lack of success, there were times I felt like giving up. But I knew that if I wished to realize my full potential, if I ever wanted to achieve my dreams, I would have to conquer my fears and let go of my misguided beliefs. Eventually, I realized this firsthand at the culmination of my senior year in high school football, when we made it to the State Football Championship game. Had I given up on my dreams, I would never have realized that I truly had the potential.

Fear is the ultimate inhibiter. If we focus on our fears, those fears will become our reality. If we worry that a relationship will never last, we will spend our time in fear, and it will consume our lives–redirecting our focus and making it much more difficult for the relationship to thrive.

We should never fear failure. Our failures are learning experiences that enable us to grow into something better. Moreover, we should not allow them to determine how we act in new situations, because each situation is unique in its own right. By realizing this, we can gradually focus our potential to make our hopes and dreams come true. And in looking at the possibilities in our lives rather than at the limitations, we find ways of accomplishing things rather than imagining what may go wrong, thus increase our chances of success.

Our focus allows things to happen. It is the energy that we create, the energy of possibility and potential–and that energy is positive energy that helps us to bring about the things we want and need– to make things happen that we wish to have happen. Believe it can happen and act as such, and it definitely can.

Reflect on all the potential available to you throughout the day.

Questions to consider:

What are some fears you keep focused on? Why might they maintain your focus?

Why is it easier to focus on our fears rather than our possibilities?

What are some limitations you have in your life? How many of those are self-created?

For further thought:

“To be ambitious for wealth, and yet always expecting to be poor, to be always doubting your ability to get what you long for, is like trying to reach east by traveling west…. No matter how hard you work for success, if your thought is saturated with the fear of failure, it will kill your efforts, neutralize your endeavors, and make success impossible.” ~ Charles Baudouin

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Remove Any Of The Misguided Limitations You Emulate From The Role Models In Your Life

~A role model in life is a great thing to have; one who provides us with direction and inspiration. However, we will forever be restricted by that person’s limitations if we live within their boundaries. Be influenced, but set your own standards and develop your own principals, if you are ever to live beyond someone else’s dreams.” ~ Jason Shahan …

Role models can be a great source of positive influence in our lives if we work to emulate the good traits and behaviors of them. They can set an example for us of what works well, and what does not work well, so that we can more easily reach the goals that we set for ourselves. They can also provide us inspiration where we otherwise may not have found any. But having a role model should never equate to adopting a set of limitations to our hopes and dreams. We each are unique individuals with our own special talents, and our own set of boundaries in our life; and it is important that we keep a distinction between our life, and the life of those we admire.

Because of their fame and success, professional athletes tend to be popular role models for many children, and that can be a very good thing. However, if an athlete is addicted to alcohol or drugs, derogatory, abusive, or immoral, we should not want to embrace those same conditions in our own life. And a parent may be a great role model for morality and character development by their children; but if he or she is not able to get out of debt, then that child certainly does not want to adopt that same limitation in their own life.

People are who they are, and it is important to recognize that we should not want to be someone else–we should want to be what we have the potential to be. As Jason puts it, “Be influenced, but set your own standards.”

As we encounter our own restrictions and impediments, it is important to we do not adopt the limitations of our role models, or we may never be able change into the person we are capable of being, or we may even fail to overcome them at all and become stuck in a rut. When we look objectively enough, however, we can avoid those things, addressing our own limitations on our own terms.

Remove any of the misguided limitations you emulate from the role models in your life.

Questions to consider:

What are some of the boundaries and limitations you are setting yourself up for?

What are some of the limitations your role models put in their lives?

Why do we tend to adopt the limitations of others? What kind of safety might we find in doing so?

For further thought:

“You’ve got to be careful whom you pattern yourself after because you’re likely to become just like them.” ~ Rich Mayo

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Carpe diem. Sieze the day!

“Make every day count. Appreciate every moment and take from those moments everything that you possibly can, for you may never be able to experience it again. . . . Create your own life and then go out and live it with absolutely no regrets.” ~ Walter Payton, Never Die Easy …

There are a number of periods in my life, where I can recall thinking to myself, “Boy does time fly by.” I remember being in grade school thinking it was just yesterday I was playing in the fields and riding bikes around town with my friends with no thought of school. Then I was in high school thinking back to the days when I never had to worry about working to make money. Next, I was in college reminiscing playing organized sports–throwing game winning touchdown passes and shooting last second basketball shots. Then marriage, landed property, children… before I knew it I was celebrating my oldest daughter’s 5th birthday party and realizing that she too is starting upon a journey I have been on–that of growing up.

Time passes at its own speed regardless of our concerns. There are times I would like to slow down and enjoy the moment; they continue by at the same pace as the moments I wish to finish quickly. And often times I get so extremely busy and lose focus of the time passing me by, that I find myself looking back with a bit of sorrow and regret as I realize that I have failed to fully appreciate the time that was given to me. But that kind of appreciation takes work and effort. It is not something that tends to happen normally–we often have to be reminded of those things for which we should have appreciation. So trying to appreciate every moment can be a difficult task, but not impossible. As long as we take the effort seriously, and make the effort consistently, we can teach ourselves to live our lives with higher levels of appreciation.

We only get one shot at this moment in our lives, one chance to make this day count. Each moment is an opportunity to love, to appreciate, to give, to take, to dream, to learn, to relax–simply to be. Appreciate these moments, for one day someone we are close to will pass away, and we may wish we had appreciated their presence enough to spend even more time with them, to have shared more kindness and love with them. Or a close friend will move away, and we may feel that we have lost an opportunity to show more gratitude, create more memories, and spend additional time with this wonderful person. Summer will pass and we will wish that we had taken more time to appreciate the warm weather. The only way to avoid regret in the future is to act in authentic ways today–to get as much as we can out of each day, and to give as much as we can to each day.

Carpe diem. Sieze the day!

Questions to consider:

Do you appreciate every moment of every day? What makes it difficult to do so?

How fast does time go by in your life? Have you missed moments for appreciation?

How can we learn to appreciate more the things and more moments in our lives?

For further thought:

“You’ll seldom experience regret for anything that you’ve done. It is what you haven’t done that will torment you. The message, therefore, is clear. Do it! Develop an appreciation for the present moment. Seize every second of your life and savor it. Value your present moments. Using them up in any self-defeating ways means you’ve lost them forever.” ~ Wayne Dyer

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