Category Archives: Food For Thought

Recapture That Sense Of Wonder

“The world will never starve for want of wonders; but only for want of wonder.” ~ G.K. Chesterton, Tremendous Trifles … 

This world, right before my eyes, deserves my wonder–for here is an awesome place in which to live. From the amazing ways in which our bodies work and the incredible fearsome beauty of a snowstorm, to the miraculous beauty of birth and the incredibly delicate intricacy of the tiniest flower or insect. This planet is teeming with so much wonder, beauty, and amazing things that hold the ability to instill a sense of wonder in each of us, to fill our hearts and souls with joy and elation. So how is it that we can somehow still manage to become dulled to such wonder, taking these things for granted and not seeing just how amazing they really are?

Unfortunately, wonder does not announce its presence in our lives. Often times we stare blankly straight at it, either unaware of it or ignoring it completely. Throughout my life, there are plenty of places that I have travelled in which I did not experience or feel any wonder. Much of this can be attributed to my choices to simply not consider the wonder that surrounded me in these new places–I often saw it, but ignored it because I had my own agenda and other plans. Many times our reactions are based on what we are doing at the moment–the snowstorm becomes bothersome because we have to shovel and drive in it, the insect is an unwelcome invader when noticed inside our home, and our hunger becomes a burden to appease the moment our stomach growls.

And as parents, mentors, teachers, and role models, it is important that we encourage and teach our youth to embrace the wonder in which they see and experience the world. Instead of teaching them to put aside that sense of wonder in order to appreciate their logic and abilities, to gather and process information, we should help them to discover and share the joy in the world around them. This involves sending them outdoors to play, or getting active both mentally and physically, instead of filling their time with movies and games–things that distract them from the wonder all around. A child staring at a screen is not going to notice the wonder a child playing outside will find–the child outdoors at least has the chance to explore, notice, feel, and see.

And perhaps this is how many of us have grown to lose our sense of wonder over time–by spending more of our time indoors, feeding ourselves with thoughtless information and entertainment, all the while growing further away from a state of awareness, mindfulness, and wonder. Of course, it is possible for us to recapture that sense of wonder… but it will require us to not only open our eyes and our hearts, but also to give up much of our time spent on those other things that cloud and inhibit our sense of wonder.

Take a minute today to be mindful of everything going on around you.

Questions to consider:

When did your sense of wonder begin to fade? How?

Can you see five things that are around you right now that can make you feel a sense of wonder if you think about what they are and how they came to be?

Why are children more open to allowing their sense of wonder to shine through?

For further thought:

“If I had influence with the good fairy who is supposed to preside over the christening of all children, I should ask that her gift to each child in the world be a sense of wonder so indestructible that it would last throughout life as an unfailing antidote against the boredom and disenchantment of later years, the sterile preoccupation with things that are artificial, the alienation from the sources of our strength.” ~ Rachel Carson, The Sense of Wonder

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Make Your Task Fun

“The one who does not get fun and enjoyment out of every day in which he lives, needs to reorganize his life. And the sooner the better, for pure enjoyment throughout life has more to do with one’s happiness and efficiency than almost any other single element.” ~ George Matthew Adams … 

Each day we are alive, we determine the reality that we experience by choosing the attitudes we embrace–fun and enjoyment in life is simply a presence of being or a state of mind that we embrace. Thus, if we are not getting fun and enjoyment out of life, it is through no fault but our own. And perhaps we are ok with this, for some of us are doing the best that we know how and are fine with what we are getting out of life. However, if at any time we come to find that we want to live happier and more fulfilling lives, we have the ability to make those necessary changes in our lives, in our attitudes, in our perceptions, and in our hearts.

Life is meant to be enjoyed–we are essentially here to learn, to grow, and to have fun in responsible ways. Why, then, do so many of us cease enjoying the experience of being human? Maybe it is partly because we receive missed messages in life about acting our age and having fun, or we feel we have no time available in our lives to have fun or experience enjoyment. Or perhaps we have come to associate fun with the spending of money, and we have a hard time parting with it or find ourselves short on expendable income. Regardless of the cause, it is important for us to recognize that fun and enjoyment do not have to be the kind of fun you have driving a go-cart or playing volleyball on the beach on a sunny day. Believe it or not, we can have fun at work–we merely have to make the choice to be in that state of mind. And since work is often very stressful, we should make time to rest and relax to relieve that stress. On the other hand, sometimes things are not fun and we continue to force them upon ourselves or put ourselves in those situations. In this case, we should simply make the choice not to do so.

Personally, I have found that there are two ways to get more fun out of life: look at what I am doing through different eyes, or change what I am doing. Nearly anything can be fun if we approach it from a perspective that allows it to be so. The intense workouts of my freshmen year of high school football, and getting smashed by the much larger seniors, was not much fun at all. In fact, there were times when I felt like just giving up… and during those times, I had to make an attitude adjustment. I reminded myself that there were plenty of people around me who were doing the exact same things that I was doing, and they were having fun at it, so there was no reason at all that I could not have fun as well.

When we have fun with our work, our work turns out better. When we have fun helping our children with their homework, we both benefit from a stronger relationship. Changing our attitudes to “how can I make this fun?” can bring about a profound change in our lives.

Find a task today that you normally do not find fun, and attempt to have fun completing it.

Questions to consider:

During which projects or jobs do you have no fun? Why not? Is there a way to possibly make them fun?

Why is fun so important in our lives?

Why are kids able to have much more fun than we are, even though we have many more freedoms and opportunities than they do?

For further thought:

“While ideas such as discipline and focus are undeniably important, so is the idea of having fun. With a small amount of effort, we can extract all the fun and joy out of most parts of our lives–our relationships, our work, even our leisure time. We can put so many restrictions and should’s on everything we do that our very lives become dull, overly ponderous, and routine. Before long, we find ourselves living up to a set of rules–and we’re not certain where the rules came from or whose they are. Let yourself go. Have a little fun with life. Or, have a lot of fun with life. If you’ve spent years being extremely disciplined, reliable, and somber, maybe part of achieving balance is having a decade of fun.” ~ Melody Beattie, More Language of Letting Go

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Journey Into Yourself

“Healing in its fullest sense requires looking into our heart and expanding our awareness of who we are.” ~ Mitchell L. Gaynor, Healing Essence … 

Who am I? Do I take the time to ask myself questions and listen to the answers from within? For many of us, self-knowledge is frightening, and therefore, healing can be frightening. This is one of the main reasons we tend to enjoy entertainment in our lives–because it allows us to pass time without having to reflect on who or what we are, what we want, and what we believe. Movies, sports, video games, Facebook… they all have one major thing in common–they allow us to not have to reflect so we do not have to look inside our hearts… our souls… our very being.

One reason for which others are frightened by the thought of “expanding our awareness of who we are,” is that they are afraid that as they learn more about themselves, they will lose much of what they now find comfortable. For me, as I have grown in my life, I have given up a number of things that I had previously treated as a necessity, that, in reality, were more of a distraction. I even know quite a few individuals who are unwilling to give up any unnecessary comforts they have in their lives right now–over-consumption of alcohol, using others for personal gains or satisfaction, and gambling into debt are a few of the things that easily come to mind.

If my heart or spirit has been broken, the only way that I can heal is to get in touch with how I really feel inside. Similar to healing a broken bone, we need to know where the pain is located, what caused the break, and what shape the bone is in right now. If I have done something that has hurt me deeply, like causing another person pain or doing something that violates my moral principles, then I need to look inside and find the source of my discomfort, and then deal with it on its terms, not necessarily those that are the easiest for me to handle.

The truth is that we are all hurting in our own ways. But healing does not necessarily come from a prescription or a trip to the doctor’s office–much of our healing comes from looking inside and recognizing the stress, the negative feelings and attitudes, the sorrow, the shame, the pain, and the hopelessness that we keep locked up inside ourselves and that continues to gnaw away at us from the inside, causing much of our physical pain and discomfort. We need to heal our spirit by knowing our spirit, and then our bodies will follow suit.

Make time today to reflect upon who you are inside. For deeper reflection, do so while looking at yourself in the mirror.

Questions to consider:

If entertainment keeps us from knowing ourselves by keeping us distracted, then how is it helping us?

What kinds of pain and sorrow are still inside of you, things with which you have not yet dealt clearly?

From where have we gotten the idea that healing has to come from outside, from a doctor or nurse or spiritual leader, instead of from ourselves?

For further thought:

“Healing is the journey. The destination is yourself. The full recognition of all the different aspects of yourself–our joy, your sorrow, your pain, your pleasure–all lead you to the source of who you are. Only by having intimate contact with this source can you experience the fullness of your life. Only by fearlessly looking within can you embrace the landscape of your life and open yourself completely to all the love and compassion that lives inside you.” ~ Philip M. Berk, Letting the Light In

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Your Worth Is Beyond Measure

“A true measure of your worth includes all the benefits others have gained from your success.” ~ Cullen Hightower … 

A few weeks ago, I had the pleasure of meeting a wonderful saleswoman whose extremely personable and authentic self was easily apparent to me. To be completely honest, I felt there was something wonderful about her when I first spoke on the phone, and this was confirmed when I found out that she had travelled hundreds of miles and had earlier scheduled hours of her day to visit an older gentleman who was dealing with cancer that had returned from remission. She was aware he was looking for financial answers that she most likely did not have and could not address; still, instead of writing him off, she decided to visit with him and share a measure of her time with him.

Frankly, I bring this up to highlight the fact that success is not always measured in monetary amounts. Most of us would have looked at this as a no sale, and a waste of time and energy, yet was this really the case? Was she not successful in being considerate, compassionate, giving, and so much more? I am confident I know what this older gentleman would say if I asked him.

Unfortunately, there are many false measures of worth–how much money we have in the bank, the model of the vehicle we drive, the square footage of our home, the number of friends we have online, what order we are picked to a team in sports. And when we let such false measure be the basis of our worth, then it becomes easy for us to become disheartened, to stop trying and to give up. But our worth is beyond measure, for we were each created perfectly, by a loving God.

In truth, even success can be an unfulfilling victory–we can succeed greatly, yet still feel lonely, confused, frustrated, and discontent. Typically, this happens because we do not have a truly accurate measure of our success. In addition, it is often easy for us to get lost in the hustle and bustle of life, of trying just to stay afloat. That is why it is important for us to find time to sit down and ask ourselves just how we are contributing to the lives of others, and exactly what are the gaining from our presence here on Earth. If the benefits are positive, then we are doing well. Of course, the benefits do not necessarily have to be direct either–the parent who raises their child to be a teacher or mentor who helps others to reach their potential also has benefited those individuals. And I know for a fact that I have gained benefit from thousands of people in the world each day–from those who grew the food I ate today, to those who helped get it to me–people whom I may never meet or know, but who nonetheless have contributed greatly to my life.

When we can approach each day with a focus on how our lives are contribute positively to those around us, we enable ourselves to see what we are giving to the world as opposed to what we are taking from the world. For perhaps the greatest determining factor of our true worth, is what we give to those with whom we share this planet.

Find an unlikely way to succeed, that might benefit those around you, and then attempt to do so.

Questions to consider:

What have you done today–even on a very small scale–that has contributed to the life of someone else in a positive way?

Why is it important to measure our worth based on what we have contributed to others?

From where do we get our ideas of how worth is measured? Are the measures that you grew up thinking were accurate really accurate?

For further thought:

“We bless the life around us far more than we realize. Many simple, ordinary things that we do can affect those around us in profound ways: the unexpected phone call, the brief touch, the willingness to listen generously, the warm smile or wink of recognition.” ~ Rachel Naomi Remen, My Grandfather’s Blessings

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For Success, Do Not Give Up!

“Some succeed because they are destined to; most succeed because they are determined to.” ~ Anatole France … 

As much as we may like to explain away other people’s success with words like “privileged” or “gifted,” the fact is that most of the truly successful people in the world reach their success because they work very hard and they keep after it, even after other people would have given up. There are people in this world who succeed and get ahead because of their families, their connections, their heritage, or their inheritance, and that is fine for them. Still most of us fall into the category of those who must achieve success through hard work and determination.

Often times, whether we succeed or not depends solely upon the attitudes we espouse. For example, there are times in my life in which I have given up and faced failure; because I did not have the determination to succeed, the success I desired never happened. But there have also been times in which I have been successful, times in which my willingness to push forward has paid off. And it is apparent to me that my success during such times was a result of my persevering even when it did not seem like I had a chance to succeed, achieving things that I had not thought possible.

Success is something we each can achieve… we simply have to decide what we consider success to be, and once we have done this, it is up to us to work towards that success–to make sure that we are determined to succeed and follow that determination as far as we can. But we cannot rely on anyone else, or expect to become successful with a minimal amount of work. I know from experience what it feels like not to be successful, likewise I know also know the satisfaction and accomplishment that comes from success through perseverence. And of course remember to be open to all forms of success and be honest with yourself in your demands–your determination will determine the rest.

Take a moment to reflect upon how your address has affected the level of success you have experienced in your life.

Questions to consider:

How many successful people do you know who have reached success by working hard and sticking to what they were doing?

Why is it so easy for us to think that other people are somehow undeserving of their success, no matter how hard they have worked at it?

How do you define success? How much work will have to be done to reach that level of success?

For further thought:

“The line between failure and success is so fine that we are often on the line and do not know it. How many a person has thrown up his or her hands at a time when a little more effort, a little more patience, would have achieved success. A little more persistence, a little more effort, and what seemed hopeless failure may turn to glorious success.” ~ Elbert Hubbard, Selected Writings of Elbert Hubbard

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Look For The Good In All Situation

“Though we travel the world over to find the beautiful, we must carry it with us or we find it not.” ~ Ralph Waldo Emerson, Essays and Lectures … 

In his essay “Self-Reliance”, Emerson wrote, “travelling is a fool’s paradise.” He said that we could dream of travelling to Naples, or Rome, and think to ourselves that we will be intoxicated with beauty, but after packing our bags and going there, come to realize that we are there with our same selves—that “our giant goes with us wherever we go. ” And if that self always looks for beauty elsewhere, then we will fail to find it wherever we go, for beauty truly is in the eye of the beholder. Thus, to find the beautiful, we must first be aware of the beauty around us, so that we can then see it, experience it, and carry it in our hearts. Carrying beauty within us is having the ability to see, to appreciate, and to love beauty both when it is in front of us as well as when it is not.

Every moment of the day there is an infinite amount of beauty that surrounds us, but we must choose to see it. And as we begin to grow more aware of this beauty–the beauty in the ordinary–things that we previously found unpleasant or ugly, slowly cease to exist; out of the drab nothingness… beauty will take root. And when we hear others talking about how awful something or somewhere is, we will find ourselves looking past their illusions and misperceptions, imagining such things with much more beauty in mind, as if in all their glory, and we will feel sorry for their inability to notice the beauty–both realized and potential.

Our world is amazing. And if we wish to see and appreciate all the wondrous beauty, we have to train ourselves to recognize the beauty in things that surround us as we travel the world over. And if we find things in our world becoming ordinary, drab, unpleasant, or ugly, then perhaps we should take some time to reflect on where that ugliness is coming from: it is not in the things, but in the ways in which we see those things; it comes from inside of us, not from the thing itself. The good news is that is something that we can learn to change.

There are, of course, some ugly things in this world–such as violence, abuse, hatred, injustice, selfishness, and pride–and we should see such things as they are. Nevertheless, if we really want to get in touch with the beauty in the world, then we need to recognize that it depends upon us to see it. Thus, we should not spend so much time looking in other places for something that we already have inside us.

Look for beauty in some of the ordinary, everyday things that surround you.

Questions to consider:

How do people lose the idea that they bring beauty with them–or leave it behind when they see beautiful things?

What is the inherent limitation in believing that beauty is in the objects that we see, as opposed to being in the ways that we see those things?

Have you ever thought something was beautiful, only to have someone else say it was ugly? What was the difference in perspective? Likewise, have you ever seen something as ugly that someone else thought was beautiful?

For further thought:

“The fact that we can’t see the beauty in something doesn’t suggest that it’s not there. Rather, it suggests that we are not looking carefully enough or with a broad enough perspective to see it.” ~ Richard Carlson, Don’t Sweat the Small Stuff and It’s All Small Stuff

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“Needs” Vs “Wants” Of Life

“The person is the richest whose pleasures are the cheapest.” ~ Henry David Thoreau, The Writings of Henry David Thoreau … 

Perhaps you have heard the phrase “the more you make, the more you spend” at some point during the course of your life. When we do not have our priorities straight, we often get caught up in the “buy new things” craze. And although this may offer us a momentary happiness, this does not increase our happiness, enjoyment, and pleasure, nor can it ever bring about true and lasting joy in our lives. On the contrary, the less you need to enjoy yourself and seek true pleasure in life, the closer enjoyment and pleasure become, for we do not have to be millionaires to experience the riches of life; even the poorest among us can find great pleasure in the little things that are free or cost hardly anything and thus are vast and easy to attain and enjoy.

Yet not all of us are fortunate enough to stumble upon this truth in our journeys through life, or when we do, we wish we were able to have done so much sooner. Still, we all have the ability to be rich right now–by simply decreasing our wants and increasing our awareness and appreciation of all the riches that lie before us. The beauty of it is that when we let go of our wants and our supposed needs, and start to see just how satisfying the things that are already available to us are, we begin to see that we already possess great wealth, we begin to realize that we do not need to go on a four-thousand dollar luxury vacation to an exotic resort every year to experience the pleasures of life, for there are truly amazing and enjoyable places close to home that we have not seen or experienced yet–lakes to swim in, rivers to canoe or fish in, woods to walk or jog in, meadows to ride bikes or horses through. And expensive restaurants may have great food and a special atmosphere, but so does a home filled with love and laughter.

The older I grow, the easier it is to find riches in the simplistic areas of my life. Experience is teaching me that the things that others wish for me to desire–marketers, advertisers, companies, and others who wish to profit off me–will not make me happier or allow me to enjoy life any more. In fact, the more I chase things that I want the less happy I become. And now that I realize just how much beauty and wonder surround me each day, just opening my eyes, and ears, and nose to all the wonder and beauty each day gives me a great deal of enjoyment. Now, a nice walk or jog in the park can lift my spirits more than a busy evening downtown; and a good pot of beef stew with my loved ones is more satisfying than a five-course gourmet meal.

Some of us make decisions in life that guarantee us to a life without billions of money. But that does not mean that we will not have a life full of riches. Money will not always be there for us. And knowing this allows us to see the importance of how wealthy we already are with that which we already have.

Do not buy anything that you do not need as you go about the day.

Questions to consider:

From where do we get the tendency to equate wealth with money? Is this an accurate perception?

What kinds of wonderful pleasures are there around you right now that do not cost anything at all, from talking to a good friend to seeing a beautiful sunrise or sunset?

How many people with lots of money really are not very rich at all? Why?

For further thought:

“Who is wise? Those who learn from every person. Who is mighty? Those who can master their own passions. Who is rich? Those who rejoice in their portion.” ~ The Talmud

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