Category Archives: Living

Endeavour To Treat Everyone Equally

“I am not a teacher: only a fellow-traveler of whom you asked the way. I pointed ahead — ahead of myself as well as of you.” ~ George Bernard Shaw …

It is easy to get caught limiting ourselves and our abilities by defining our roles at certain points in our lives. As a child, for instance, although my parents taught me many things, I had always assumed that they were the teachers and I was merely a learning child. Yet now, as a parent with children myself, I realize that parents, too, are learning a great deal from their children, and that we all are teachers and learners at every stage in our lives. This makes us all fellow-travelers in life. One is no greater than the other is; rather, in fellowship, we are each travelling our own paths toward the same destination.

As we live our lives each day, we each must decide how we fulfill the roles of teacher and learner with those around us. This means being aware of the ways in which we teach others–through love and compassion… or through criticism, ridicule, judgment, anger, harsh words, and violence. Trying to force our lessons on others, instead of helping them to realize the lesson itself, is generally ineffective, and usually ensures they will not be learned, nor accepted, and therefore are never passed on to benefit our fellow-travelers in life.

Be open to both teaching and learning in life. We are all learners, so we must have compassion and understanding for those who are still learning what we may already know. And we all have lessons to teach and things to share that will never be accepted if we do not teach them with respect, compassion, and genuine concern. The way in which we treat others around us each day, will define our ability to be effective, or ineffective, teachers and learners in life.

Treat everyone as your equal.

Questions to consider:

Why might we often label ourselves and slip into pre-defined roles throughout our lives? Does this benefit us at all?

Why do we generally prefer to treat others as learners? Does this make our teaching any easier or more effective?

What can we teach to others today? What can we learn? How can we do so in a way that recognizes the value and worth of their unique journey in life?

For further thought:

“Learning is finding out what you already know. Doing is demonstrating that you know it. Teaching is reminding others that they know it just as well as you do. We are all learners, doers, and teachers.” ~ Richard Bach

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Be Bold And Confident In Your Action

“Never allow the fear of striking out keep you from playing the game.” ~ Babe Ruth …

Fear can be a powerful deterrent. How often have we talked ourselves out of something before we even began? Maybe we told ourselves that it would take too much time or was an impossible task. Or perhaps we allowed ourselves to feel discouraged and defeated by the responsibilities that come along with success. But the truth is, our time here on Earth will pass along no matter what we choose to do… and if it is going to pass us by, we might as well make it do so on our terms.

When we let fear keep us from “playing the game,” we deny ourselves our potential, and we waste valuable time in our lives that we can never get back. Whether it is procrastination, avoidance, or a careless and shallow way of living our lives, each time we put off action now, we lose opportunities to learn, grow, overcome, and find success in all aspects of our lives.

Time will continue onward, there is nothing you can do about that. But you can give yourself the chance to realize accomplishments, find fulfillment, and live your life with purpose. This is the only way in which you can guarantee you will not look back at your life with regret for lost time and remorse for wasted potential.

Be bold and confident in your actions.

Questions to consider:

What are some things you have put off because of the fear of failure?

Have you ever experienced regret from not started something you wanted to? How might you have started it?

Would you rather pass your time playing the game you love, or backing away from it?

For further thought:

“Do not let the fear of the time it will take to accomplish something stand in the way of your doing it. The time will pass anyway; we might just as well put that passing time to the best possible use.” ~ Earl Nightingale

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Take Some Time To Reflect Upon The Progress You Are Making In Your Life

“When nothing seems to help, I go and look at a stonecutter hammering away at a rock perhaps a hundred times without as much as a crack showing in it. Yet at the hundred and first blow it will split in two, and I know it was not that blow that did it–but all that had gone before.” ~ Jacob Riis …

How often do we find ourselves impatiently looking for results? So many times, we allow ourselves to become frustrated or afraid of failure simply because we do not see immediate and quantifiable results for our efforts. When we do this, however, we are placing unrealistic expectations on people, situations, and things in life, effectively missing the big picture–that by simply trying we are always making further progress towards achieving our goals.

Whenever we begin a new task, or strike out on a new journey in life, we really have no idea what the end result will look like. Just like when a sculptor chips off the first piece of stone or marble, there is no visual evidence of any real progress towards a finished product. And even after a hundred or a thousand more chips with the hammer and chisel, we most likely will still not see anything close to a finished product. But with patience and perseverance, the sculptor will eventually end up with a beautiful work of art.

This applies to all aspects of life. When I wish to work on losing weight, or gaining strength, I know that a single workout will yield next to nothing in terms of visible results–generally, all I get is sweat with sore muscles. But with persistence, I can increase my speed, my stamina, and my strength… and as each week passes by, I might find that my weight has steadily decreased pound for pound. And programming is much the same–starting off with a single sentence, adding a few commands, variables, and keywords. At first it is nearly impossible to make out one project from another. And sometimes, even after a month I am still unable to test my program–to see anything in action and know if it will even work after all of the time and labor I have put into it. Yet in time, line after line, I slowly see it progressing towards my desired end result.

If you are not seeing the results you expect or desire, do not let yourself feel disappointment or disillusionment. For as long as you are actively working towards a goal, you are making progress. It really is that simple. You are doing the best you can, and even if you cannot see it, rest assured that good things are happening.

Take some time to reflect upon the progress you are making in your life.

Questions to consider:

Why do we feel it is so important for us to see progress in things that we do?

How do you feel when you do not see any visible results for your efforts? Why?

How often do you take the time to imagine the end result? How close might you be to breakthroughs in your life without even knowing it?

For further thought:

“As long as you are actively pursuing your dream with a practical plan, you are still achieving, even if it feels as though you are going nowhere fast. It has been my experience that at the very moment I feel like giving up, I am only one step from a breakthrough. Hang on long enough and circumstances will change, too. Trust in yourself, your dream and spirit.” ~ Sarah Ban Breathnach

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Take A Step Beyond The Preconceived Limits Of Yesterday

“Everyone has inside of him a piece of good news. The good news is that you do not know how great you can be! How much you can love! What you can accomplish! And what your potential is!” ~ Anne Frank …

Most of us tend to focus on our lack in life, on things that we do not have or things that belittle us. We let fear cloud our judgment, we wish for things to be some other way, we listen primarily to the voices in our head that yell out bad news. But here, Anne tells us that in the midst of all the bad news, even in the darkest hours of our life, we have available to us good news–that we have available to us hope, possibility, and potential, and that we control our future and steer the course of our ship.

Hope and faith is important in life… they give us something to trust in. The key word is something, for without hope and faith, we are hopeless and we are lost with nothingness. But this nothingness is a lie; it is not true and it keeps us from being great–from accomplishing our potential and living a purposeful and fulfilling life.

This is such an empowering realization–we do not have to dwell on the failures or hide from our fears–we are already nearly beyond them. All we must do is choose to begin again upon our journey towards our dreams.

Your successes and failures in the past are done and gone. Do not let them hold you back from who you are meant to become. Instead, focus your thoughts on the things you can do right now that truly matter.

Take a step beyond the preconceived limits of yesterday.

Questions to consider:

What do you tend to focus on in life? Do you see the “good news” within you?

Where do our fears gain their power? Do they ever serve to help us?

What is your potential? How are you realizing it in your life?

For further thought:

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

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Show Courtesy And Graciousness Towards Everyone

“If a man be gracious and courteous to strangers, it shows he is a citizen of the world, and that his heart is no island cut off from other lands, but a continent that joins to them.” ~ Francis Bacon …

No man is an island. And although some like to think that they are, that does nothing to remove the effect their actions have on us all–for good or for bad. We are all interconnected in the tapestry of life, and each step we take, each action we choose, each word we speak, and all that we send forth, changes the world around us. Therefore, for the benefit of all humankind, we are to strive to be gracious and courteous towards all those in life, family, loved ones, strangers… and even those we dislike.

The way we treat others in life is a good indication of the type of person we are inside–it is not just a sign of good upbringing, but also a confirmation that we realize the importance of others in our life, and that we recognize that they, too, need and deserve love, happiness, and joy simply because they exist.

By recognizing that we are all in communion with one another on our journeys through life, we build up the positive and healthy bonds of our souls as well as enable ourselves to add to the beauty of this world for the benefit of all. This is made possible through our graciousness and courtesy, which reminds others and ourselves to honor, respect, and appreciate all that we each have that is wholesome and good to offer to the world. After all, our hearts are all connected to one another, and this brotherhood is something of true beauty.

Show courtesy and graciousness towards everyone.

Questions to consider:

Why do we sometimes see ourselves as an island? What happens to us when we conceal ourselves in such a way?

What does it mean to you to be “a citizen of the world?” What are you adding to the world around you?

How does it make you feel when others show you graciousness and courtesy?

For further thought:

“No man is an island, entire of itself; every man is a piece of the continent, a part of the main; if a clod be washed away by the sea, Europe is the less, as well as if a promontory were, as well as if a manor of thy friend’s or of thine own were; any man’s death diminishes me, because I am involved in mankind, and therefore never send to know for whom the bell tolls; it tolls for thee.” ~ John Donne, No Man Is An Island (Meditation XVII)

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Practice Listening More In Your Conversations And Discussions Withith Others

“The moment you feel like you need to prove yourself, is the moment you need to be silent and walk away.” ~ Rachel Wolchin …

Often times, it is very difficult for us to hold our tongues–whether it be from pride, arrogance, vanity, envy, jealousy, anger, revenge, or anything of the sort. But as Rachel mentions here, the moment we feel that we need to prove ourselves, the moment we begin to lose our cool or develop any negative feelings or thoughts of one-upsmanship, is actually the moment we need to hold back our tongue. I would actually take this a step further and additionally challenge myself to not leave someone in the middle of a conversation, as that is unkind and rude; instead, I would try my best to finish the converstaion by kindly listening to what they have to say, acknowledging that I heard it, and politely moving on.

At times, we are all faced with arguments and discussions that begin to escalate. And when they do, we are often tempted to say things that are not exactly noble–perhaps we want to make someone look bad or feel bad, or wish to show someone up and expose his or her ignorance and hypocrisy, or maybe we want to impress others with our knowledge, skills, and insight. But if we are honest with ourselves, none of these reasons have any noble or positive motives behind them, and none of them are better than the alternative of simply remaining silent and walking away. It is better simply to leave things unsaid in such situations, for although saying negative things may offer us temporary pleasure, it will eventually give way to feelings of regret and remorse.

Healthy relationships are built upon mutual respect and understanding of one another. And when we say things out of anger or spite to others, we only serve to remove the mutual respect and understanding between us. Remember that it is sometimes better to be kind than to be right… and that a patient heart that listens is always in great need.

He who guards his mouth and his tongue, guards his soul from troubles. (Proverbs 21:23)

Practice listening more in your conversations and discussions with others.

Questions to consider:

When can not saying anything prove to be most helpful?

Why is it so tempting for us to say something to others to prove ourselves?

Why is it more difficult to refrain from saying the wrong thing than it is to say the right thing?

For further thought:

“Remember not only to say the right thing in the right place, but far more difficult still, to leave unsaid the wrong thing at the tempting moment.” ~ Benjamin Franklin

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Develop A Greater Acceptance Of The Transitory Nature Of Life

“You do not suffer because things are impermanent. You suffer because things are impermanent and you think they are permanent.” ~ Thich Nhat Hanh …

Apart from the immaterial aspects of our lives–the emotional, spiritual, and intellectual–there is very little that will last forever. Those trendy or comfortable pair of shoes you bought are now in the trash; your favorite music player no longer works because the charger prong was bent. From the cars we drive, to the phones we carry, to the clothes we wear… none of these things can be possessed forever. Even many of the friendships and relationships that we enjoy today may someday come to an end.

So how is it that these completely objective facts of life have such a traumatic effect on us? How can it be that we experience so much pain, misery, and grief as a result of the natural flow of life? The answer lies in our presumption that things in life can be permanent–that we can exert some control to prevent things from changing, or that we can simply will things to last forever. But we cannot; and when attempt to do so, we have only fooled ourselves into believing that we could hold on to something that is now gone.

Loss is a natural part of life, and so is grief and mourning. But we only serve to magnify the pain, and prolong the misery when we allow ourselves to believe that a loss will never occur. Nothing temporal can ever exist in permanence… not even our time here on Earth.

Develop a greater acceptance of the transitory nature of life.

Questions to consider:

Why might we see things as in our lives for good? How realistic is such a view of life?

What are some of the things you have lost recently? Why do we tend to become attached to such things?

What things have you noticed that illustrate that fact that all things eventually come to and end?

For further thought:

“Do not let your happiness depend on something you may lose.” ~ C.S. Lewis

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