Category Archives: People

The World Is A Mirror

“The world is a looking-glass, and gives back to every man the reflection of his own face. Frown at it, and it will in turn look sourly upon you; laugh at it and with it, and it is a jolly kind companion; and so let all young persons take their choice.” ~ William Makepeace Thackeray … 

For the majority of us, having the power to create our own lives and determine our own happiness and success is cherished dearly. For some, this could seem a little overwhelming, perhaps because it implies our responsibility for the way things are going in our lives. Regardless of how we feel, though, it all comes down to our “choice.”

The world is a mirror… and as the saying goes, “you get what you give.” If I contribute negatively to life through my own thoughts and actions, then things are most likely to end up going wrong. But if I contribute positively to life, good things will flow my way. And the more I put this principle into practice, the more I am convinced of the truth within it.

Prosperity, peace, happiness, joy, contentment–the world is yours if you but choose to let it be. But it is something that takes time, and we must not expect immediate results. If we can consistently add to the positive in the world, our lives will in time begin to change to reflect the goodness and happiness we project–they will turn into a reflection of an attitude that focuses on beauty, empowerment, and love.

Imagine seeing yourself from the outside throughout the day.

Questions to consider:

In what ways is life a mirror to you?

What kind of power is exists in your own thoughts? Does this power have a tendency to create the life you live?

Does it make sense to think that “life” really can discriminate and put some of us down and give some of us great gifts, or is it truly objective?

For further thought:

“Life is a magic vase filled to the brim, so made that you cannot dip from it nor draw from it; but it overflows into the hand that drops treasures into it. Drop in malice and it overflows hate; drop in charity and it overflows love.” ~ John Ruskin

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To Live And Let Live!

“The beginning of love is to let those we love be perfectly themselves, and not to twist them to fit our own image. Otherwise we love only the reflection of ourselves we find in them.” ~ Thomas Merton, No Man is an Island … 

It scares me to imagine the vain conceit apparent in the phrase, “we love only the reflection of ourselves.” Instead of building up love, the consequences of such thoughts only serve to isolate us and tear apart our love piece by piece. It is a shame that so many relationships exist in which one individual is constantly trying to control the other. “Lose some weight,” “Do not talk like that,” “Do not cut your hair,” “Do not wear this,” “Why do you always,”. . . the list of do this, and do not do that goes endlessly on.

As unique persons, we are each called to love one another exactly as we are–to live and let live–for we each were created in the image of our God… a perfect Being who is love. In truth, love does not try to control others or change them into the image we wish them to be. True love is encouraging someone else to live up to their unique potential, to embrace their likes and respect their dislikes, to allow them wear the clothes they feel comfortable in, and to live their lives as they chose rather than how we see fit for them. Love is not having a trophy partner or a submissive partner… love is being with another human being who is “perfectly himself or herself.”

So why do we so often try to nurture the reflection of ourselves that we see? Why do we try to convince our loved ones to do things in the ways that we would do them? Why do we get angry, upset, and frustrated when they do something on their own that we very clearly know we would never do? Why do we feel so proud and happy when they follow our advice and approach something in exactly the way that we would?

In our relationships–and definitely in our marriages–we must remember what love truly is. We read in 1 Corinthians 13:4-8: “Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It is not rude, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, and it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres. Love never fails.”

When we stop trying to control others, they feel more loved and respected, which allows them to begin to shine in their own unique ways. Still, of equal importance, when we let go of our need to control others, we discover that we now have the ability to redirect all the energy that we had been using to control them, towards making our own lives more satisfying and fulfilling. We are inconstant beings, but that does not mean we cannot allow others to be themselves.

If you find yourself telling someone not to do or be something today, stop, and try to allow them to be themselves (as long as it is not harmful to themselves or others).

Questions to consider:

What kinds of role models teach us that controlling another persons thoughts or actions is an appropriate way to approach a relationship?

How can we know that we are not letting someone else be themselves? How can we know that someone else is not letting us be ourselves?

What does it mean to you to let someone else be “perfectly themselves”?

For further thought:

Let me not to the marriage of true minds
Admit impediments. Love is not love
Which alters when it alteration finds,
Or bends with the remover to remove:
O no; it is an ever-fixed mark,
That looks on tempests, and is never shaken;
It is the star to every wand’ring bark,
Whose worth’s unknown, although his height be taken.
Love’s not Time’s fool, though rosy lips and cheeks
Within his bending sickle’s compass come;
Love alters not with his brief hours and weeks,
But bears it out even to the edge of doom.
If this be error and upon me proved,
I never writ, nor no man ever loved.

William Shakespeare, Sonnet 116

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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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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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Prevention Is Better Than Cure

“Some people think that doctors and nurses can put scrambled eggs back into the shell.” ~ Dorothy Canfield Fisher … 

I have seen scrambled eggs… and I am well aware of the fact that they cannot go back into the shell. Not only are the no longer a liquid, but they have expanded, and their shell is broken. They have changed so much physically that it is no longer feasible to reverse the effects. We, too, often take our bodies for granted, and Dorothy’s analogy here is perhaps one of the best I have seen to date.

Many individuals mistake the ability of those in the medical profession. They feel that they even if they treat their bodies as if they were replaceable or repairable commodities, doctors and nurses will be able to bring them back to good health. But doctors and nurses cannot always do that… only we can. However, although we, ourselves, have the ability to reverse some of the negative effects on our health–weight loss, healthier eating, sufficient sleep habits, proper tending to and care of our emotional, spiritual, intellectual, and physical well-being, removal of bad or unhealthy habits, and things of the sort–there is a point where what we are doing to our bodies is much the same as scrambling an egg.

The point Dorothy is making here is that we should not scramble the egg in the first place. It is that it is always much easier to maintain something in a healthy state than it is to return it to a healthy state. We should make it a priority to take care of our bodies and maintain their integrity and health. We have an amazing gift available for us to use each day–to see, to feel, to move, to talk, to listen, to hug, to work, to play. And if we abuse it or take it for granted, it will deteriorate; its level of functionality will decline and diminish. I know these individuals… ones who tend to take their health for granted or not even think about it at all. To them, life is about doing what they want, when they want to do it–whether that be eating foods that are not at all healthy, committing acts that put them at great risk, or simply neglecting themselves and allow their bodies to fall into a state of disrepair. Then, when things get bad enough, they expect doctors and nurses to be able to perform miracles by instantly bringing them back to good health with a simple prescription or procedure.

Neglecting our bodies is often a sign that something else is going on in our hearts, minds, or souls–so be attentive and take care of all four quadrants of your being. After all, we cannot expect our spirits to sing if our bodies are feeling awful. And when it comes to your physical health, do not expect or rely on doctors and nurses to be able to reverse any damage that you may be doing to yourself. Take care of yourself; life is simply too short to waste it feeling awful. More importantly, your body is a great gift, given to you by a loving Creator; respect and appreciate this truth.

Ensure that you are providing the proper care for your body’s health and well-being: diet, sleep, and exercise.

Questions to consider:

In what ways do people tend to neglect or abuse their bodies? Why do they do these things?

Why do we tend to look at doctors and nurses as miracle workers who can do anything? Are they really at that level?

What kinds of things can you do today to maintain your health or start or continue the process of returning to a healthy state?

For further thought:

“Most illnesses do not, as is generally thought, come like a bolt out of the blue. The ground is prepared for years, through faulty diet, intemperance, overwork, and moral conflicts, slowly eroding the subject’s vitality. And when at last the illness suddenly shows itself, it would be a most superficial medicine which treated it without going back to its remote causes, to all that I call “personal problems.” ~ Paul Tournier

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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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If We Wait Until We Are Ready …

“If you were going to die soon and had only one phone call you could make, who would you call and what would you say? And why are you waiting?” ~Stephen Levine …

What a powerful way to look at life! If I could wake up each morning and ask myself this question, and then make it a priority to answer it to the best of my abilities, I am sure that I would not have any grudges or regrets. Nor would I have things left unsaid or undone in my life. This is the most authentic way to live our lives–telling others everything that needs to be said when we have the ability to do so. Continue reading

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