Category Archives: Food For Thought

Choose Your Battles Wisely–Do Not Waste Time “Wrestling With Any Pigs”

“I learned long ago never to wrestle with a pig. You get dirty, and besides, the pig likes it.” ~ Cyrus Ching … 

There are some individuals, who when I try to point out something hurtful that they have done to get them to see how damaging their actions are, they try to turn it into an argument. They love to fight and are typically outright mean to anyone around them. The idea of bickering with these people, as Cyrus appropriately puts it, is like wrestling with a pig–they enjoy fighting and do not want to keep things civil… they want it to get dirty. <!–more–>

In my experience, those who are willing to hurt others are usually not interested in knowing what kind of harm they have done. They typically would prefer to continue feeling the self-righteousness that allowed them to act in inconsiderate and harmful ways in the first place. In addition, they rarely employ logic in an argument as logic tends to keep things clean. This means that nearly any interaction we begin with these individuals typically becomes a conflict. They try to fluster us, get under our nerves. Perhaps we will hear them say “So?” when we point out how much hurt or damage they have caused. Just like wrestling with a pig, we can waste enormous amounts of energy trying to reason with such people, and still never reach any sort of satisfactory conclusion. And as we try to reason with them, they watch and enjoy all the stress and discomfort we are experiencing because of their unwillingness to respond to logic.

Some individuals, no matter how much we try, simply love irritating others. There really is no point in trying to work with them–expending any amount of energy to accomplish something that, really, cannot be accomplished. Playing their games is simply a waste of our time and energy–we give up our peace only to add enjoyment and pleasure to the life of someone who truly does not deserve our time of day.

Do not give the pigs the enjoyment of watching you get dirty as well out of frustration and annoyance. Let the pigs be pigs, and choose battles that are more logical. And if, perhaps, you need a pig to do something, you can find someone who knows how to make pigs do things; we do not necessarily have to do everything ourselves.

Choose your battles wisely–do not waste time “wrestling with any pigs.”

Questions to consider:

What makes us tend to take on tasks that are not easily accomplished, especially where other people are concerned?

Why do we tend to continue to wrestle with pigs, even when we have seen that it does not really work?

What are some options that we could take instead of wrestling with pigs? Who could help us out with the pig?

For further thought:

“A more peaceful way to live is to decide consciously which battles are worth fighting and which are better left alone. Is it really important that you confront someone simply because he or she has made a minor mistake? Does a small scratch on your car really warrant a suit in small claims court? These and thousands of other small things are what many people spend their lives fighting about. If you don’t want to “sweat the small stuff,” it’s critical that you choose your battles wisely.” ~ Richard Carlson

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Pearls Of Wisdom

“Everything that irritates us about others can lead us to an understanding of ourselves.” ~ Carl Jung … 

It is quite surprising–or perhaps disturbing–how much understanding I can gather about myself from the things that irritate me about others. The reality of my strong emotions and reactions to the things that others do and say, or the ways in which they act, are largely rooted in the fact that I do and say very similar things, and act in similar ways, and am bothered by that. The truth, however, is that I would much rather admonish and scold others than to deal with those issues in my own life. <!–more–> 

I was recently talking with an individual who would not let me get in more than a word or two. Of course, I was a bit aggravated by his rudeness, and quickly left the discourse upset and annoyed. However, not even a few hours later, I found myself doing much the same when I was speaking with my wife. There I was, going into much greater detail than was necessary, cutting her off, and hardly leaving her much time to speak. Luckily, since I was reflecting upon this at the time, I was able to stop myself from doing it further, for the time being.

The things that irritate us hold perhaps the greatest potential to help reveal things about ourselves that are bothering us. All that it takes is a healthy attitude and perspective, and the irritations we experience can become tools for positive growth and development–offering us helpful insight that can reduce the amount of irritation and negativity we experience and enrich our lives. Perhaps this is where the term “pearls of wisdom” originated.

Be aware of the ways in which you might be irratating those around you.

Questions to consider:

Why is it so easy to be judgmental of others when they do things that irritate us, but not of ourselves when we do things that irritate others?

How might we go about finding out just what we do that irritates others?

Why might we dislike in others some of the very same traits that we share with them?

For further thought:

“Therefore what you notice and what irritates you in others can teach you important things about yourself, things you may not be aware of. In a way, people can be like a mirror for you, a mirror that can help you to learn more about yourself, what you fear and how you may be fooling yourself.” ~ Henrik Edberg

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Learn To Work Around All The “Thorns Of Life”

“We win half the battle when we make up our minds to take the world as we find it, including the thorns.” ~ Orison Swett Marden … 

The thorns of this world are a necessary and important part of life. Just as roses are not roses without them, if we removed the thorns of life, many of the necessary things in this world would simply cease to be. Sure, they are not always pleasant–they often cause us pain, suffering, grief, and misery–but the lessons they teach us about caution, avoidance, perseverance, and growth are essential to our becoming. <!–more–> 

To lead fulfilling and satisfying lives, we need the struggles, the battles, and the occasional prick from the thorns of life. We all begin life not knowing who we are or what we want to be. And as we search for purpose and meaning, we either come to find ourselves through our journey–obstacles and all,–or we begin to find ourselves dissatisfied that life is not exactly as we expected it to be. But that dissatisfaction is our own doing; it comes from wanting or expecting the world to be free of thorns, yet seeing that it is not.

As compassionate individuals, we often wish to help remove the thorns from the lives of others. Especially as parents, we try to ensure that the lives of our children are safe, shielded, and risk-free so that they do not get hurt or ever have to face pain in their journey through life. But it is important to remember the significance of experiencing the thorns of life, or these children might grow up not knowing how to deal with adversity, not understanding why the world is not making itself safe for them, blaming God and others for the pains, sufferings, failures, and losses in their lives.

The thorns of life strengthen us, they help us to grow, and they condition us for service–they are a necessity of life. For it is really only through experiencing and dealing with adversity in our lives, that we are able to help others to do the same. And those of us who are able to deal with the setbacks and difficulties of life–without losing our composures or giving up–are master gardeners of our lives, for they have learned to work around all the thorns, and have cultivated a garden filled with beautiful flowers.

Deal with what life has to give on its own terms instead of trying to impose your own upon life.

Questions to consider:

Can you imagine what a thorn-free world would be like?

Why do so many people think that thorns are a bad thing, and that life would be better without them?

Marden’s statement “when we make up our minds to take the world as we find it” implies an active approach to decision-making. Have you made this particular decision in your life? Can we realistically expect to take the world in any other way?

For further thought:

“It had done me good to be somewhat parched by the heat and drenched by the rain of life ~ Henry Wadsworth Longfellow

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Manage Your Anger!

“The best remedy for a short temper is a long walk.” ~ Jacqueline Schiff … 

I have generally been able to manage my anger for the most part, although, there were periods in my childhood in which it was more difficult–stages in which I was in unfamiliar territory or when I felt that the best thing to do was to let others know how I felt. You see, in the past I used to believe that expressing my anger as soon as possible was a good thing—that letting it out right away was just being honest and allowed me not to have to carry anything with me. But as I grew older, I began to recognize that the anger I was letting out was being absorbed and carried by those around me–others got defensive, they became angry themselves and began to express it in their own ways. <!–more–>

The anger we put out into the world goes on to perpetuate more anger, and more energies that are negative, all around us. Even worse, it indiscriminately disrupts and pollutes the waters of our souls. Much of this can be solved, however, by finding healthy ways to deal with our anger, such as waiting to express it until we have had some time to cool down and to process it ourselves in our minds and in our hearts. Often times, as we wait on our anger, we find that it actually diminishes–that as time goes by, the heat from our emotions begins to evaporate, and we are simply left with the actual problem. At this point, we can have a chat with the individuals who made us angry and we can work on resolving the issues in healthy and productive ways.

When we are able to separate ourselves from the situations that are creating enmity, resentment, and hatred in our lives, we often find ourselves looking at things from all angles–including seeing things from the perspectives of those who have angered us. Often times, this will leave us feeling more interested in resolution than in being angry, as seeing things from all angles helps us to better understand the actions of others, as well as provide us with greater clarity of the situation as a whole.

Of course, when we work on waiting on expressing our anger, we have to be certain that we are not needlessly hiding it away within ourselves with the intent of someday dealing with it. In such cases, we are not really remedying the anger, only prolonging it, sustaining it, and perhaps even strengthening it with more fuel, all which will be let out at a future time.

The next time you feel yourself being overcome with anger, go for a walk. Take a break and separate yourself from those negative emotions you feel by spending some time alone in silence and reflection. This is a wonderful way for us to separate ourselves from the immediacy of the situation–without ignoring it or packing it away–while allowing our tempers to calm down so that we do not say or do things that we may come to regret.

Find and employ healthy ways of dealing with your anger throughout the day.

Questions to consider:

Why is it easier to express or anger than it is to go for a walk?

What kinds of things might we see more clearly if we take the time to go for a long walk instead of expressing our anger immediately?

What positive purposes do short tempers serve? How do they help to improve our relationships?

For further thought:

“The greatest remedy for anger is delay.” ~ Seneca

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Age Gracefully!

“You can’t help getting older, but you don’t have to get old.” ~ George Burns …

Many of us are sensitive towards aging, especially those of us who have done so more than others. Often times we deny the facts of getting older–trying desperately to hold onto our youthful lifestyles. But life is going to happen no matter what we tell ourselves. And the choice of aging gracefully and having fun while we do, or trying to age without grace–with a perspective on life and living that is more destructive than constructive and seeks avoidance instead of acceptance and growth–is one that we each have the opportunity to make in our lives. <!–more–>

Perhaps you know some individuals who are older than you and still enjoying their lives in the fullest possible way. What are some of the things you notice about them? Personally, I have found them to be much happier in life, with a definite quality of assuredness and confidence. Often times, they have the ability to do as they please, and as a result, are much more present in the moment–living their lives to the fullest each day. They are the ones who make time to travel–to visit family and friends and spend time with their grandchildren. They are the ones who find time to help others in need. They are the ones who get involved in the community and find hobbies that keep them advancing, growing, and developing into something greater. On the other hand, maybe you know some individuals who spend their time being grumpy and annoyed with the world, who constantly complain about their health and the ways that other people treat them. They are the ones who feel sorry for themselves, or who spend their time being angry and having regrets about the things they did or did not do. Which kind of person do you want to be?

Growing old is not necessarily the end of anything; each journey in life leads to another. And just because we are getting older does not mean that we have to let go of anything–we can enjoy them now as older individuals with a more seasoned understanding of our lives and purpose. Acceptance is key. When we are fully aware that we are aging, we can keep our attitudes healthy and our enthusiasm and joy for life alive and well. Acceptance is the necessary element for allowing ourselves to grow older gracefully and have fun while we do.

Live life with a young heart and a soul afire.

Questions to consider:

To you, what is the difference between growing older and growing old?

Why do some people age gracefully without seeming to get old, while others grow old before their time?

What kinds of things can you do to help yourself grow older without growing old?

For further thought:

“Age does not depend upon years, but upon temperament and health. Some people are born old, and some never grow so.” ~ Tryon Edwards

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Perspective And Attitude

“A person of character finds a special attractiveness in difficulty since it is only by coming to grips with difficulty that we can realize our potentialities.” ~ Charles de Gaulle … 

We might find it a bit difficult to believe that someone would find difficulty attractive in any way, shape, or form. Yet here we are presented with another positive and healthy idea on perspective and attitude: that with the right amount of both of these in our lives we can face our difficulties with a bit of want, for they bring to us opportunities that we may only realize by facing our trials and hardships head-on and overcoming them. <!–more–> 

I really love to look at our lives as a puzzle; so much of our experience here really comes down to noticing how all things are pieces of it–part of the bigger picture–and without them, we are incomplete. Everything we face in life has something important to offer us and instill in us; everything has the power to change us in positive and necessary ways. We are full of potential–of chances and opportunities to grow into the people we were meant to be when we were created; and it is truly only through the challenges we are faced with that we find this growth.

Unfortunately, we will not be successful in every challenge and difficulty we are faced with in life… and that is ok. We do not need to win every battle to learn and grow from them. By the mere act of facing the challenges to the best of our abilities–with equanimity and balance, purpose and calmness–we become stronger, wiser, and better individuals.

And although, personally, I do not always handle the challenges that come my way, as best I know how, I do believe that I have discovered a deeper understanding of my potentials during those difficult and demanding times. Over the course of my life, there have been challenges that I have searched out–pursuing various goals. A part of me, I think, had known that in accepting and embracing these challenges, I would grow into the person I needed to become by rising through them, and that the character I developed would make later difficulties and challenges in my life seem much easier to deal with. So some of the things others see as difficulties, I see as much simpler challenges, having faced some extreme obstacles in my life already.

How do we view the difficulties we are faced with? Do we see them as terrible obstacles, and perhaps even as impossibilities, or do we understand them as wonderful opportunities that are necessary for the growth, understanding, and development of our character? Do we try to avoid the challenges in life because they are unpleasant or seem like an inconvenience? Who we become is dependent upon the choices we make each day–big or small, pleasant or unpleasant. And it is only through coming to accept the difficulties of life that we will be able to reach our full potential and become whole.

Find opportunity in the difficulties of the day.

Questions to consider:

What kinds of challenges do you tend to avoid? Why do you avoid them? Is it helpful to you not to face them?

How can we build our character by facing difficulty? How can we recognize when the difficulty is worth facing and when it is better to avoid it?

What does it mean to be a “person of character”? What kinds of things does a person of character seek out in life that may be different from the things that other people seek out?

For further thought:

“There may be difficulty at the moment, but I will not lose the Virtue that I possess. It is when the ice and snow are on them that we see the strength of the cypress and the pine. I am grateful for this trouble around me, because it gives me an opportunity to realize how fortunate I am.” ~ Chuang-tse

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The Sanctuary Within

“Within yourself is a stillness and a sanctuary to which you can retreat at any time and be yourself.” ~ Herman Hesse … 

Sanctuary is a wonderful word. It offers to us peace of body and mind–a place where we can find rest, a place where we can escape the stress and strife of this world, a place in which we can feel at ease, breathe deeply, and relax. The greatest part of Herman’s message is that we each have such a place within us. And whenever we need it–wherever we are, whatever we are doing–it is accessible to us. <!–more–> 

I am sure you can recall a time in which you were able to still your mind and enter into that quiet and protected place… that sanctuary within. Perhaps you even experienced an overwhelming peace enter into your body and spirit. That place, that peace, that comfort and serenity, is there for us to access whenever we need it, but it requires some effort on our part. We must be willing to turn our focus inward instead of towards the world around us. This means making the effort, setting aside some time, and quieting all the noise in our mind so that we can get in touch with ourselves and develop a deeper sense of self-love and self-respect.

The sanctuary we have within us is awaiting us with open doors and a fire burning warm. There are no requirements of sitting for hours in deep meditation; nor must we fast or practice any forms of self-deprivation. We need no prior knowledge or years of practice–all that it takes is a desire to go inside and visit that place of stillness within. Close your eyes and quiet your mind; find your safe haven from the stormy seas of this world. You will find it to be beautiful, relaxing, and well worth the effort.

Spend some time in contemplative peace and silence and take refuge within the sanctuary that is inside of you.

Questions to consider:

What does it mean to “be yourself”? How can the ability to do so be helpful to you in your life?

What does “sanctuary” mean to you? How can it be possible that there is a permanent place of sanctuary inside of ourselves?

Why does Herman use the words “stillness” and “sanctuary” as synonyms?

For further thought:

“Deep in the soul, below pain, below all the distraction of life, is a silence vast and grand–an infinite ocean of calm, which nothing can disturb; nature’s own exceeding peace, which “passes understanding.” That which we seek with passionate longing, here and there, upward and outward; we find at last within ourselves.” ~ C.M.C. quoted by R.M. Bucke

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