Category Archives: Living

Learning

“The more that you read, the more things you will know. The more that you learn, the more places you’ll go.” ~ Dr. Seuss …

Knowledge is power; and the more of it we can gain, the better we will become at the tasks and projects we undertake. If I want to be an interior decorator, I only have to open a book on the topic to begin gaining invaluable knowledge. Perhaps finding a mentor is an option as well. However, the simple truth remains the same: knowledge will take me further in life.

And the knowledge we gain does not have to be of great financial cost or value–a mother and housewife, for example, knows invaluable information about how to stop a baby from crying, that came at little to no cost to her other than time. Still, some of us may view the knowledge we have amassed as not that important when compared to the knowledge others possess… and this is understandable given that most of the individuals we see sharing their knowledge are quite popular and are usually making a lot of money. From the creator of that awesome new gadget you see in an infomercial, to the sports analysts and commentators we see on TV; the knowledge they share definitely seems to be more important when based upon financial value it brings in.

But we should not get consumed in trying to chase financial value in our knowledge. We are all unique individuals, and have different needs and desires, skills and talents. And people need your advice everyday–there are many things that you know that others are not aware of each day. And there are things you have discovered that have made your more efficient and productive, that others have not yet.

Learning is a powerful catalyst in our lives if we use it. Celebrate it, embrace it, love it, and share it with others. The easiest and most effective way to increase your potential is to learn.

Spend some time learning about something today.

Questions to consider:

Do you value your learning? What are some of your most valuable lessons, and how can they help others?

Think of a great role model in your life. How has that person’s learning affected their life?

Why do we tend to feel that our learning is not as valuable as the learning that others have done?

For further thought:

“Place yourself among those who carry on their lives with passion, and true learning will take place, no matter how humble or exalted the setting. But no matter what path you follow, do not be ashamed of your learning. In some corner of your life, you know more about something than anyone else on earth. The true measure of your education is not what you know, but how you share what you know with others.” ~ Kent Nerburn

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Stand Up Against All Evils

“The world is a dangerous place to live, not because of the people who are evil, but because of the people who don’t do anything about it.” ~ Albert Einstein … 

It is apparent to most of us that this world is a beautiful place. Yet in spite of all its beauty, and all the good it holds, evil still exists. And though many of us want to put it out of sight and out of mind, the battle between good and evil rages on every day of our lives. As Albert puts it so bluntly, when we let evil prevail, we make the world a dangerous place to live in.

Ignorance is one of the main reasons many of us choose to do nothing. All too often we choose to ignore the unpleasant things in life, instead of confronting them. But if we choose to remain oblivious and uninformed instead of seeking to understand what is happening in the world around us, we forfeit the fight to the evils of the world. It is up to each of us to actively try to make an impact for the good.

When awful things happen as a result of the evils of this world, we must take the time to understand how they came about–why they occurred, what is fueling them–and hopefully discover how they can be avoided in the future. If I simply say that Kermit Gosnell is evil, and just leave it at that, I fail to fight the harm caused by his actions, to prevent the evils he brought into this world from repeating themselves.

Evil exists in this world. And if we take the time to find the causes of evil, instead of labelling it and moving on or turning a blind eye, we can begin to fight evil. We can learn, grow, and make a positive difference in the war between good and evil.

Stand up against all evils today.

Questions to consider:

How can creating an environment conducive to evil affect you and those around you?

Can you think of any evils you have chose to overlook lately? How could acting upon them have made a positive impact?

Can we grow in wisdom if we turn our back on things such as evil acts?

For further thought:

“There is no evil in the universe which is not the result of ignorance, and which would not, if we were ready and willing to learn its lesson, lead us to a higher wisdom, and then vanish away.” ~ James Allen

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Overcome Your Fear

“Bran thought about it. “Can a man still be brave if he’s afraid?”

“That is the only time a man can be brave,” his father told him.” ~ George R.R. Martin … 

We usually look negatively at fear, as it is often times interpreted as a sign of weakness and associated with failure. For instance, how many times have you heard someone call another person a “fraidy-cat” as a way to negatively describe his or her fear to act in a specific way? This is a perfect example of why many of us do not embrace our fears. Yet as George points out, we cannot be brave unless we are afraid, for that is the very definition of bravery–the human condition to confront pain and fear.

It is important that we confront and overcome our fears in life. Fear of failure, after all, is one of the most common fears we will all face. And if we cannot overcome that fear, we will never experience the failure that builds us up, teaches us how to fail better, and ultimately leads us to success.

Recognize your fears. Embrace them and begin to understand them. And when you have done this much… challenge them and conquer them bravely. There are forces much stronger than fear, and they exist within you. Build them up and put them to good use.

Overcome a fear of yours today.

Questions to consider:

Where does fear come from?

Can fear truly exist without our permission?

What are some ways you can strengthen your courage to overcome fear?

For further thought:

“Never worry alone. When anxiety grabs my mind, it is self-perpetuating. Worrisome thoughts reproduce faster than rabbits, so one of the most powerful ways to stop the spiral of worry is simply to disclose my worry to a friend. The simple act of reassurance from another human being becomes a tool of the Spirit to cast out fear–because peace and fear are both contagious.” ~ John Ortberg Jr.

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Make Your Day Beautiful

“Your mind is the canvas upon which you are the artist. What will you paint on your canvas today? Will you draw a stick figure or create a masterpiece…?” ~ James A. Murphy … 

Each day of our lives, we are contributing towards the person we will someday become. And if I were to imagine my day today as a blank canvas, and I had the opportunity to paint it to be however I would like to remember this day as, what would my canvas turn out to be? Would I put effort and heart into it, knowing that by doing so I will have captured as much of the color and beauty of my day that I possibly could?

What do I contribute towards my day? How about towards the days of those around me? James offers a good reminder to me that the brush strokes and colors I use upon my canvas are my choice. The resulting artwork is therefore a good representation of me, the artist. And if I want the brush strokes to mean something to me, and something to the people I touch in life, I must put time and effort into my work.

Fill your time on this Earth with beauty and character–for the canvas you see tomorrow will be filled with the contributions you make today.

Make your day a beautiful day.

Questions to consider:

What does your canvas from yesterday look like?

What are you contributing to your masterpiece today?

What are some ways in which you can help someone else create a masterpiece on their canvas today?

For further thought:

We are, not metaphorically but in very truth, a Divine work of art, something that God is making, and therefore something with which He will not be satisfied until it has a certain character. Here again we come up against what I have called the “intolerable compliment.” Over a sketch made idly to amuse a child, an artist may not take much trouble: he may be content to let it go even though it is not exactly as he meant it to be. But over the great picture of his life–the work which he loves, though in a different fashion, as intensely as a man loves a woman or a mother a child–he will take endless trouble–and would doubtless, thereby give endless trouble to the picture if it were sentient. One can imagine a sentient picture, after being rubbed and scraped and re-commenced for the tenth time, wishing that it were only a thumb-nail sketch whose making was over in a minute. In the same way, it is natural for us to wish that God had designed for us a less glorious and less arduous destiny; but then we are wishing not for more love but for less. ~ C.S. Lewis, The Problem of Pain

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Knowing Yourself

“You have to start knowing yourself so well that you begin to know other people. A piece of us is in every person we can ever meet.” ~ John D. MacDonald … 

What a beautiful concept! That we can find a piece of ourselves in everyone we could ever meet. We are all similar beings, experiencing many of the same things as one another in life; and as John mentions, if I am able to start knowing myself well, I will begin to know others well too.

I have come to understand that the more I know about myself, the more I recognize the commonalities I share with others. My joys and happiness, my pain and sorrows, my likes and dislikes… others share very similar feelings in life. And when I am able to recognize these bonds I share, I am able to show empathy towards others–I am able to help them through the tough times by carrying some of the load, and I am able to be by their side to share in the joys they experience.

By gaining a deeper knowledge of ourselves, we improve our abilities to help others in life. Many of the obstacles we face in life will be faced by others. And thus, through our own self-discovery, we are better able to share ourselves with others, and vice versa.

What are my talents? What are my strengths? Do I spend time learning more about what I enjoy and what I do well? Do I strengthen my skills? Do I take time to care for myself? Do I burn myself out?

Take a moment to find out more about yourself today.

Questions to consider:

In what ways can you begin to “start knowing yourself well?”

Is it possible for us to live life fully without knowing ourselves?

What are some situations in which knowing yourself better would benefit you?

For further thought:

“Knowing others is intelligence; knowing yourself is true wisdom. Mastering others is strength; mastering yourself is true power.” ~ Lao-tzu

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Happy Attitude

“I love those who can smile in trouble, who can gather strength from distress, and grow brave by reflection.” ~ Leonardo da Vinci … 

Things can go wrong in life. In fact, I can be certain that my life will always involve a small amount of trouble and distress. The question I must ask myself then is this: “do I still keep my happiness when times like these come?” And if not, then why?

Many years back, I had some vehicle problems on my way to a hockey game. While I was on the interstate, I noticed that the SUV was starting to rumble loudly, and deduced that either the road is in terrible condition and causing the vibrations, or I probably had a tire going flat. It was evident, of course, that he road was not in terrible shape, so I pulled over to assess the car. As I got out and looked at the back tire, I saw it was collapsing down, and at this point looked to be barely holding the rims off the road. “Just great,” I thought to myself. “Now there is no way I will make it in time to play.”

It was a nice day–not too hot with a soft breeze. However, my attitude grew quite sour. And as I spent the next couple hours changing my tire, and missing my game entirely, I was only thinking about how unfortunate I was to have this occur to me today.

The point of this story is twofold. First, I choose my attitude in life each moment of every day. I could have choose to be happy and at least enjoy and make the most of the time I have on this Earth, even though changing a tire was not the most enjoyable thing. But I did not. Secondly, who am I to look so negatively at the outcomes of life if they do not go my way? Who knows exactly what the grander scheme of life is? Perhaps what is unfolding before my very eyes is precisely what I need. Maybe I would have ended up in an accident had I not had a flat tire. Maybe I would have got hurt playing hockey and ended up in the ER. Who really knows? In the end, I missed one hockey game and had to cover the cost of replacing a tire–by no means was it the end of the world.

Our experience in life is determined by our attitudes… not by the things that life brings our way.

Keep a smile at least, and a happy attitude throughout the day.

Questions to consider:

Is there always just one way of looking at something that happens to us?

How can we learn to see things that happen to us in different ways?

Why does trouble and distress so often affect the way we act and the way we see the world?

For further thought:

“If you are distressed by anything external, the pain is not due to the thing itself, but to your estimate of it; and this you have the power to revoke at any moment.” ~ Marcus Aurelius

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Maintain Positive Attitude Always

“Everything in the world we want to do or get done, we must do with and through people. Every dollar we will ever earn must come from people. The person we love, and with whom we want to spend the rest of our life, is a human being with whom we must interact. Our children are individuals, each different from any other person who ever lived. And what affects them most is our attitude–the loving kindness they see and feel whenever we are around them. If you’ll begin to develop and maintain an attitude that says yes to life and the world, you’ll be astonished at the changes you’ll see.” ~ Earl Nightingale … 

The interconnectedness of this world, and every person in it, is unceasingly evident in the countless interactions between each of us. Whether that is through financial transactions, our relationships with those we love, or our attitudes–which as Earl points out, affect others the most. To me, it is especially evident through the interactions I have with my children. When I project anger and stress, or when I fail to bring calmness and peace into a volatile situation, the negative effects that my attitude has on my children is easily apparent.

My attitude is my choice. Sure, I will have days where I am tired, sick, or perhaps sore. However, that does not have to affect the person that I am inside. Unfortunately, we often let our attitudes mirror our feelings. Perhaps this is a way for us to ask others for help, or for positive support in improving our attitudes. Yet most of the time, this attitude tends to have the opposite effect, and pushes others away from us.

You are not a victim of life. You have the power to choose who you are. Take up an attitude of “loving kindness” and see how it affects those around you. Earl is right, “you will be astonished at the changes you see.”

Choose a positive attitude today, and do not let anything bad that happens change it.

Questions to consider:

Think of the people you know who have the best attitudes. How consistent are they with those attitudes?

Do truly positive people allow their attitudes to change based on outward circumstances or happenings?

Can you think of a time when your day was ruined by something someone else did? Did your day have to end up that way?

For further thought:

“There is so much about my fate that I cannot control, but other things do fall under the jurisdiction. I can decide how I spend my time, whom I interact with, whom I share my body and life and money and energy with. I can select what I can read and eat and study. I can choose how I’m going to regard unfortunate circumstances in my life-whether I will see them as curses or opportunities. I can choose my words and the tone of voice in which I speak to others. And most of all, I can choose my thoughts.” ~ Elizabeth Gilbert

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