Category Archives: Opinion

Discover A Sincere Appreciation For The Blessings In Your Life

“The unthankful heart… discovers no mercies; but let the thankful heart sweep through the day and, as the magnet finds the iron, so it will find, in every hour, some heavenly blessings!” ~ Henry Ward Beecher …

Henry is right on here–gratitude is perhaps the strongest magnet available to us for finding heavenly blessings in our lives. Our lives are filled with abundant graces and mercies, but if we are not keeping an awareness of our blessings, much less making the effort to attract them to ourselves, we will discover but a very few of them.

This is the law of attraction: what we give out, we attract more of. When we give of our love and compassion, we attract more love and compassion back into our lives. And when we give of our talents and our time, others give back to us of their talents and time. Likewise, when we embody gratitude in our lives, we attract more blessings our way–blessings that increase our thankfulness.

Life tends to mirror what we give to it–being a good person attracts good people and things into our lives. But we must embrace a sincere appreciation for the blessings we have, sort of like opening the windows of our house so that the fresh air and sunshine can come in. If we can do this, we will find more of the things we value deeply–more heavenly blessings–that we ever imagined possible.

Discover a sincere appreciation for the blessings in your life.

Questions to consider:

Why might we take things for granted?

How can gratitude and appreciation be like a magnet in your life?

What are some of the things you attract to your life through your attitudes and perspectives?

For further thought:

“How wonderful it would be if we could help our children and grandchildren to learn thanksgiving at an early age. Thanksgiving opens the doors. It changes a child’s personality. A child is resentful, negative–or thankful. Thankful children want to give, they radiate happiness, they draw people.” ~ John Templeton

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Adopt A New, Positive Daily Routine

“You will never change your life until you change something you do daily. The secret of your success is found in your daily routine.” ~ John C. Maxwell …

I know quite a few individuals who, for some unknown reason, believe that they can be successful in life without putting forth any effort. But because success is not something that any one of us is entitled to in life, these individuals are often met with disappointment. Success is something we must earn–it is something we create by making small changes in our daily routines.

Consistent effort is an essential ingredient to success; without it, we fall short. That is because success requires that we are actively doing the little things–day in and day out–that serve to cultivate personal growth, build up the world around us, and bring us closer to it. Examples of such could be putting forth the effort to complete our daily demands, or listening to others and showing genuine concern for their needs and wants. It could also mean including others in our discussions and accepting them for who they are, or incorporating a 30-minute walk or cutting an unhealthy snack from our daily routines.

The key is changing something that we do each day that will bring us closer to success. It may not guarantee us fame, power, or wealth, but those things are not really elements of success, are they. Success is reaching our goals and becoming the person we are meant to be. And with every positive change we make, we replace failures with positive gains–each of which will help bring us that much closer to reaching success in the areas of our lives we are working on.

Adopt a new, positive daily routine.

Questions to consider:

Are there truly any real shortcuts to success?

Why do we generally place so little importance on our daily routines?

What are some small positive changes you can make in your life? How might you go applying these?

For further thought:

“Success is not built on success. It is built on failure. It is built on frustration. Sometimes it is built on catastrophe.” ~ Sumner Redstone

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Accept That Others Have Their Own Equally Valid Truth And Knowledge In Their Lives

“Whoever undertakes to set himself up as a judge of Truth and Knowledge is shipwrecked by the laughter of the gods.” ~ Albert Einstein …

Who am I to judge? I have read in countless places that the measure in which I judge others, will be the measure used to judge me, and the more I experience in life, the more sense this makes to me. I have my beliefs–things I deem Truth and Knowledge–shaken and disproved time and time again. And worst of all, the things I have judged others for–lack of patience, anger, parenting style, movies and TV shows viewed, music listened to, and on and on–I, too, have found myself at fault.

I am sure you know of someone who feels that they are the experts in “Truth and Knowledge.” Perhaps they shout from the pulpits, or the offices and classrooms, or even from on the couch with a beer in hand. In their mind, they know what is right and wrong, and are willing to point out the shortcomings of others, all the while ignoring their own. But as Albert points out, eventually their own arrogance will be the cause of their mockery, for they deem to place themselves on pedestals instead of at the helm of their ships.

Genuine truth and knowledge is obtained when we come to the realization that our own knowledge is limited, and that truth is a matter perspective. And when we are able to accept others for who they are, without passing judgment over them, that is when we best serve ourselves.

Accept that others have their own equally valid truth and knowledge in their lives.

Questions to consider:

What sort of things do you judge in others?

Why is it so tempting to feel that we are in a position to judge others?

What would life be like if we were all less judgmental towards each other?

For further thought:

“If we judge others, it is because we are judging something in ourselves of which we are unaware.” ~ John A. Sandford

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Tend To Your Thoughts So That They Might Add Deeper Purpose To Your Life

“Every thought is a seed. If you plant crab apples, do not count on harvesting Golden Delicious.” ~ Bill Meyer …

When farmers and gardeners plant seeds in the beginning of the season, they know exactly what will grow from those seeds. Not only that, but they know exactly how to plant them (how far apart and in what order), when to plant them, the spacing between them and the design of planting for best nutrient supply, sunlight, and watering. They truly know and understand everything it takes to produce the greatest amount of their desired crops when harvest time comes around.

As Bill points out, the process of planting seeds for an expected harvest is really quite similar to our thoughts and the outcomes we experience in life. If we wish to plant the seeds of living our lives to the fullest, we do so by focusing on healthy and positive aspects of life and on our possibility and potential to create good in this world. Of course, we need to nourish and maintain these seeds, and provide a healthy environment for them to grow and develop, which includes providing supporting water and nutrients. Most importantly, we must tend to our crops, providing them constant maintenance, care, and upkeep… which includes removing the weeds as they start to appear.

As the farmers of our minds, we reap what we sow. What you are planting in your life today? Are your thoughts the seeds that will bring you closer to the harvest you are expecting?

Tend to your thoughts so that they might add deeper purpose to your life.

Questions to consider:

If you were to gather the resulting produce of your thoughts over the last several months, what would the harvest look like?

What would you need to plant in your life today to grow something more positive? What are some ways you could do so?

Think of some individuals who plant and harvest positive thoughts in their lives. How are they able to do so? How could you begin to adopt some of their practices in your life?

For further thought:

“If you realized just how powerful your thoughts are, you would never think a negative thought.” ~ Peace Pilgrim

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Discover An Authentic Gratitude For The Things You Have

“We tend to forget that happiness does not come as a result of getting something we do not have, but rather of recognizing and appreciating what we do have.” ~ Frederick Keonig …

So much of society tends to feed our focus on want and desire. There are countless endorsements being pushed by celebrities, artists, professional athletes, and those we look up to telling us how we need to buy or upgrade to the latest versions and the newest fads. TV, radio, internet, phones–everywhere we turn there seems to be commercials and advertisements that arouse unhappiness within us. And all of this noise being spewed our way simply takes away our peace within.

Wanting things, and having gratitude for the things we already have, are two polar opposites. On one end, we find ourselves incomplete and unsatisfied in life; on the other end, we find ourselves feeling whole, and enjoying a life filled with happiness. That is because we will never find value for the things in our lives unless we are truly able to appreciate them.

In addition, when we focus on our lack instead of our abundance, we essentially invite unhappiness into our minds, for lack leaves us feeling deficient, meager, drained, depressed, powerless, broken, and inadequate.

The trick to finding happiness in the things we have, and still allowing ourselves to want in a healthy manner, lies in keeping a focused equilibrium in our lives. One way to do so is to simplify our lives. There will always be new gadgets, faster cars, more exciting inventions that clutter our minds and our lives, but if we are able to remain focused on our abundance–with gratitude and appreciation–we will never find ourselves lacking in life.

Discover an authentic gratitude for the things you have.

Questions to consider:

Why is it so easy to focus on things that we lack?

What things bring you lasting happiness?

How do you imagine your life would be if you were able to focus primarily on what you have, with an appreciation for those things and people in your life?

For further thought:

“Let not your mind run on what you lack as much as on what you have already. Of the things you have, select the best and then reflect how eagerly they would have been sought if you did not have them.” ~ Marcus Aurelius Antoninus

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Forgive Those Who You Hold A Grudge Against In Your Heart

“People have to forgive. We do not have to like them, we do not have to be friends with them, we do not have to send them hearts in text messages, but we have to forgive them, to overlook, to forget. Because if we do not we are tying rocks to our feet, too much for our wings to carry!” ~ C. JoyBell C. …

Forgiveness is essential to the freedom of our souls. When we are able to extend forgiveness to others–even those who may seem undeserving of our forgiveness or love–we remove the “rocks that are tied to our feet,” rocks that keep us from soaring like eagles. For you see, anger and hatred are much too heavy stones for us to carry, stones that will eventually bury us.

I know a few individuals who are hell bent on holding grudges with those who have wronged them, saying that there is no way they will ever forgive them. Not only are these individuals bogged down with a maddening anger, hatred, and vengeance, but they also have limited their ability to experience this world in the fullness that they were meant to experience it. They lack the ability to love completely because they have denied themselves the chance to find the goodness in life even in the midst of suffering and pain.

What exactly are the costs of anger and hatred in your life? At what expense do you retain the grudges you hold within your heart? Jesus of Nazareth was a role model of forgiveness, offering it to those who betrayed him, condemned him, mocked him, beat him, and hung him from a cross, even in his hour of death. Such an ability to forgive holds with it powerful graces and mercy–the same graces and mercy afforded us by our Father. Let go of your anger and hatred… unburden your heart so that you may soar.

Forgive those who you hold a grudge against in your heart.

Questions to consider:

What rocks have you tied to your feet in your life? Are they still weighing upon your heart?

Why do we sometimes prefer to hold on to anger rather than practice forgiveness? What are the costs of doing so?

How can we strive to ensure that our forgiveness is sincere?

For further thought:

“Forgiveness is not about forgetting. It is about letting go of another person’s throat… You may have to declare your forgiveness a hundred times the first day and the second day, but the third day will be less and each day after, until one day you will realize that you have forgiven completely. And then one day you will pray for his wholeness.” ~ William Paul Young, The Shack

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Be Mindful Not To Condemn Others Through Your Words Or Your Actions

“I do not play the condemnation game, not because I do not love the spirit of competition, but simply because unconditional love has none.” ~ Curtis Tyrone Jones …

Although condemnation is not a game… it often seems that many individuals enjoy participating in it as if it were. Which really begs the question: “Why is it so easy to stand in judgment and condemnation of others when we make so many mistakes ourselves?”

We are called to show forgiveness and unconditional love towards each other as Christians, and as brothers and sisters. And condemning others not only brings us further from our calling, it is also a waste of time and energy that would be much better spent improving our lives–becoming more loving and compassionate individuals. The truth is that we simply cannot see into the heart of another person, and therefore we cannot truly understand the feelings, sufferings, and struggles that have brought that person to make the choices that they have made. We are therefore in no position to pass any sort of judgment towards them, much less condemnation.

Unconditional love has no competition. It looks with empathy, compassion, and forgiveness towards the actions of others, instead of hurting them. After all, we each make our own mistakes; and once we allow others to make theirs on their own terms, without condemning them, we will find a calm peace within that can only come from unconditional love.

Be mindful not to condemn others through your words or your actions.

Questions to consider:

What are some ways in which we learn to condemn others and their actions?

Why is it often difficult for us to separate people from their actions?

How much of another’s life can we truly know? How much of it do we assume to know?

For further thought:

“Whether one is Hindu or a Muslim or a Christian, how you live your life is proof that you are or not fully his. We cannot condemn or judge or pass words that will hurt people. We do not know in what way God is appearing to that soul and what God is drawing that soul to; therefore, who are we to condemn anybody?” ~ Mother Teresa

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