Wednesday, December 28, 2016

Peace on Earth?

"We need a more peaceful world, growing out of more peaceful families and neighborhoods and communities. To secure and cultivate such peace, we must love others, even our enemies as well as our friends."
--Howard W. Hunter

Where do we begin to create a more peaceful world? The task seems overwhelming, if even possible. With television and the internet military conflicts are in our homes daily. War has become normal. We find it difficult to imagine a war-free world. Where is there peace? 

So, we are looking for peace. Do we know what to look for? What does peace look like? If we look for something that we don't know how to recognize, will we see it if it is there?

Help me. Tell me in the comments below what you think peace will look like. Maybe together we can find it, or at least have a better idea of how to create it.

Sunday, December 25, 2016

Be the Gift the World Is Waiting For

Merry Christmas and Happy Hanuka. Spend some time today recalling what you did in the past year that helped make the world a better place. And consider what you might do in the coming weeks for a more beautiful and peaceful world.

Happy Holidays.

Wednesday, December 21, 2016

An Ancient Method for Creating World Peace From a Wisdom Master

This is taken from

Ancient Method for World Peace 

 Recreating Balance on Our Planet
Maticintin, Wisdom Master

The method is simple…

Instead of dwelling on desire & wishful thinking,

begin living for the good of the whole. 

Arise each morning with a prayer that says, 

"I live this day for the good of the whole."

Then…remember your vow throughout the day. 

Very subtle but profoundly uplifting changes will come to pass around you. 

You are a part of the whole,

so you will naturally reap the benefits

of living in this way,

and all of life and its life forms will benefit. 

Out of such UNITY with life

a better world will emerge. 

Maticintin, Wisdom Master

©2016, Maticintin

2120 University Ave
Berkeley CA 94703

Sunday, December 18, 2016

What If War Was Declared

and no one showed up? Would be the only way we could create real peace? But the likelihood of citizens rejecting the orders to go to war is pretty slim because they have been convinced war is necessary to protect their country. War has become patriotic.

But is refusal to fight the ONLY way to peace? What if instead we addressed the needs of those that are so discontented that they are willing to fight and die? What if we address unrealistic fears? What if we conversed non-violently to resolve differences, anger?

I admit, it is hard to imagine a world like that, a world where people reasoned together and worked together to meet everyone's needs. And without the faith in that possibility it is just so easy to throw up our hands and not even try to make our own neighborhoods and communities like that.

We should think about ending war anywhere in the world, of course. But without beginning where we are we cannot develop faith that peace is possible.

War does not bring security, as is often the reason for war. The war in Iraq and Afghanistan and beyond has been an utter failure to create security for the people in that area. Instead it has spread destruction and death to millions. Cities are destroyed and civilians slain by war. What has that war done to the security of the U.S.?

It has spawned terrorism and continues to fuel the fear and hatred that motivates acts of terrorism. The hateful rhetoric about America is used to recruit young fighters for terrorist organizations.

The Israeli invasion and bombing of Lebanon has not brought security to Israel. It has increased the number of its enemies in Hezbollah and Hamas, among Arabs in these groups. The struggle continues.

War is terrorism because it is a hundred times more deadly for innocent people that the attacks by terrorists, vicious as they are. The killing of innocents during a "war" by bombs dropped on areas where people live is considered accidental or collateral damage. The people are just as dead or injured or traumatized as those caused by terrorists on 9/11 or other attacks. And neither really solve the problems used as excuse for the violence.

While dropping bombs on places that women and children are gathered, where "suspected terrorists" are said to be, inevitably kill innocent people. If such an act will inevitably kill innocent people is that not as immoral as the attacks by terrorists? War, defined as the indiscriminate killing of large numbers of people, must be resisted.

It is necessary that the brutality of war be exposed in the media. We must not be protected from violence and dishonor in places like Turkey and Syria and Iraq and Afghanistan and . . . For when the general population understands that war's death and disgrace is so intense then the people of the U.S. will be able to listen to a message that the rest of world, sobered by the wars without end, can also understand that war itself is the enemy of the human race.

And we must remember that the power of the government is dependent on the obedience of the citizenry. When we withdraw our obedience, the government is helpless. If we refuse to partake of war, the planet may be saved.

What do you think?

Wednesday, December 14, 2016

About Those Indians

I often forget that most people don't know much about Native Americans, their culture, their values, their history. And even fewer people know what reservation life is like for many Native nations in the U.S. So what they see in the media has less meaning for those with so little background information.

 The Standing Rock Sioux Tribe has been actively opposing the permitting and construction of the Dakota Access Pipeline since the tribe first learned of the proposal in 2014. The tribe has voiced its strong opposition ot the company, the federal government, to Congress and to the state.

How many of you know that the Native Americans at the Standing Rock Reservation have been physically blocking the building of an oil pipeline through their land since April of this year? They are protecting the water source of their people and millions more from the possible, even probable, intrusion of oil from a pipeline leak. There are often such leaks occurring that the general public never hear of. Just a few days ago, about 150 miles from where thousands have protested for months that the Dakota Access pipeline could threaten the Sioux tribe’s water supply. A few days ago a pipeline in the western part of North Dakota has spilled more than 130,000 gallons of oil into a creek, This could easily happen under the Missouri River on reservation land.

The Native Americans have always been the protectors of the earth, Mother Earth. They know that all things are connected, that what we do to the earth ultimately effects everything else. They know that all things are related: Miatuye Oyasin. They live very close to Mother Earth and are her protectors. So when someone wants to do that which can harm her, they act to defend her.

Their "protest" at Standing Rock in N. Dakota has been supported by more and more people as the months have progressed. Thousands of people, including members of some 280 tribal nations, have gathered at the Sacred Stone Camp near Cannon Ball, N.D., to protest the Dakota Access Pipe Line (DAPL) that they refer to as the Black Snake. The Water Protectors, as they have been called, are armed with only prayer and their physical presence blocking the heavy machinery. In response the State has confronted them with military style police and private security personnel in riot gear, armed with guns, water canons, and tear gas.

Activists are protesting the project's potential destruction of sacred sites, as well as the potential contamination of the Missouri River from a pipeline leak. The Dallas-based Energy Transfer Partners plan to lay pipe underneath the river, their main water source. The Missouri River also traverses many other areas that draw water from it and it's tributaries.

The State of N. Dakota has colluded with the Energy Transfer Partners to do everything possible to disperse the protesters. They have closed the main road that gives access to the area in an effort to cut off resources. They have assaulted them with rubber bullets, tear gas, and water canons in freezing weather. They have attempted to physically remove individuals by arresting them by the hundreds and taking them to jail. They have intimidated them with attack dogs. Many people have been wounded and requiring medical treatment. Emergency services are blocked by the roadblocks, putting an even greater risk for those wounded by the police and security personnel.

Remember, this is happening here in the United States. And are you aware that Native Americans are natural citizens and supposedly protected by the Constitution? The land they are on was given to them in treaties that are nearly two hundred years old, treaties that have been broken by the Federal Government, letting corporations destroy the earth, destroy their sacred places, take the resources from the earth.

And now the people of Standing Rock have stood up to protect the water source for millions of people, native and non-native people. They do it for all of us, because what damages the earth eventually damages us all. They are resisters with courage and determination. They vow to stay through the bitter plains winter in the face of daily assault by armed police in riot gear. And they daily train all people staying in the camps in nonviolent resistance. They train daily so that they are acting peacefully, even in the face of those who come against them who are not peaceful.

The media has portrayed the Indians as rioter, even though there is ample evidence to the contrary. The Morton County Sheriff Kyle Kirchmeier has ordered his men to do atrocious acts of intimidation. Protesters have been arrested under false pretenses, taken to jail, strip searched elderly and young women, held them without the benefit of hearings. This is not some "heathen" country off somewhere across the globe. This is the U. S. A., home of the brave and the no longer free.

Learn more about what is happening at Standing Rock, support the water defenders, contact your legislators and tell them to respect the treaties and the American citizens on that land. Don't just be a bystander whose silence give permission for this to continue. Yes, the Corps of Engineers have been ordered to refuse permission for the pipeline. AND the Energy Transfer Partners have publicly stated that they will ignore that an continue working on the pipeline. And President Elect Trump has stated that he is in favor of the pipeline. So the likelihood of the order to the Corps of Engineers being continued is small.

Where will you stand when that happens? When the government refuses to protect the most marginalized population it is no longer the government that we have fought and died for over the years. It becomes too much like those foreign oligarchies we hear about on the news .

So what will you do about those Indians? They are us.

“Still, someday, I hope we look back to Standing Rock as the place where we came to our senses. Where new coalitions formed. Where we became powerful together as we realized that we have to preserve land, water, the precious democracy that is our pride, the freedoms that make up our joy. Louise Erdrich 
How to Stop a Black Snake:

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Sunday, December 11, 2016

Where Is the Government's Power?

It is easy to get overwhelmed, intimidated by the perceived power of our government. They can spend our country"s wealth however it wishes. It can sen our military personnel anywhere in the world. It can threaten deportation and indefinite detention of 20 million immigrant Americans who do not yet have green cards and have no constitutional rights. It can deploy troops to the US Mexican border. It can round up Muslim men from certain countries. It can secretly listen in on our conversations. It can open our email. It can examine our bank transactions. And it can try to intimidate us into silence.

It can control information when the mass media timidly collaborates. However, this control is not absolute. There are always those courageous enough to provide truth to the public. And it is this that will keep Americans engaged. 

"There is a basic weakness in governments, however massive their armies, however vast their wealth, however they control images and information, because their power depends on the obedience of citizens, of soldiers, of civil servants, of journalists and writers  and teachers and artists. When the citizens begin to suspect they have been deceived and withdraw their support, government loses its legitimacy and its power."*

Right now we are learning about the role of the media in the election of Donald Trump as president of the United States. We are learning about the totally false claims made during the campaign and since. It is what citizens will decide to do with those truths that will determine the true outcome of the election. 

"Change in public consciousness starts with low-level discontent, at first vague, with no connection being made between the discontent and the policies of the government. And then the dots begin to connect, indignation increases, and people begin to speak out, organize, and act"*

I see building discontent in the USA. Some groups are beginning to connect the dots and are increasingly indignant. More people are becoming politically active, organizing, and acting. My hope is that we can avoid a violent revolution, that we can act responsibly, peacefully, and thoughtfully.

"Truth has a power of its own. Art has a power of its own. That age-old lesson -- that everything we do matters -- is the meaning of the people's struggle here in the United States and everywhere. A power can inspire a movement. A pamphlet can spark a revolution. Civil disobedience can arouse people and provoke us to think. When we organize with one another, when we get involved, when we stand up and speak out together, we can create a power no government can suppress."*

We must return to the values that made us the great nation that we are: respect for human life, freedom, and justice. It is up to us. All of us. What will you do?

*A Power Governments Cannot Suppress. by Howard Zinn, published in 2007 [and more true now than ever.]

Wednesday, December 7, 2016

Backlash From the Campaign Trail

Everyone acknowledges that the recent presidential campaign was the nastiest in recent history. Lots of antagonistic and hateful rhetoric bombarded us via all kinds of media. Hate was spewed at many different groups of people. America is till reeling.

The Southern Law Center reports a dramatic rise in incidents of violence and threats of violence against blacks, immigrants, Jews, LGBTQ, and other minority groups. They note 892 hate groups in the United States. They even have a map that locates those groups [] They report significant rise in school harrassment and bullying related to the hate speech during the campaign and since.

This is all very troubling. And if all we know comes from the media and the internet, we can easily believe that the whole nation has become a hate-filled society.

But if we look closely there is a growing backlash of LOVE rising in the country. The nation's awareness has been raised at how much hurtful words and behaviors are filling our television, social media, newspapers, etc. And good people are feeling empowered. They are getting involved in what is happening in their communities and in Washington.

More people are stepping out of their comfort zone to be helpful, to stand up for anyone being intimidated, to share good news, to bring hope. On FaceBook there is more and more examples of goodness, of acts of kindness, of good news. The group Pantsuit Nation and the Safety Pin project are examples.

And look at the number of people who have shown up at Standing Rock to support the Native American people protecting the water and demanding justice. More people are volunteering to work on projects to help immigrants and to protect Muslim mosques and black churches. People are protesting the KKK demonstrations in greater numbers. Sexual assaults are being spotlighted and victims are getting heard. And women are organizing to march on Washington in January.

Mosques are holding open house programs to educate non Muslims about Islam. I attended one in our city last week and the number of people who attended was overwhelming. The Imam stated that they had rented one hundred chairs thinking that would be more than enough. Twice that many people showed up. They were all respectful and asked good, thoughtful questions. I gave me hope that there can be healing and peace among people of all different backgrounds.

So, while the campaign was very difficult and had some very negative consequences. There is also a growing backlash of love. Let's keep it going. Share some examples you see of people coming together in peace, people caring for those who have been maligned in the campaign, and of emotional healing and growth. Share ideas for acts of kindness.

Sunday, December 4, 2016

Who Do You Hate?

I've been examining my own issues during these challenging times. Do I hate? Are there people I hate? What is hate, really?

The word is defined as "an intense or passionate dislike for (someone)." Well, I admit I have an intense dislike for people who are dangerously hateful. Does that mean I hate? I always thought to hate someone meant you dislike them so much that you wish them harm. I don't wish anyone harm. Does that mean I don't hate? Kind of tangled, isn't it? I think I fear those kinds of people, but do I hate them?

I hate behaviors. Do I then hate people who behave in ways I hate? My religion taught me to hate the sin but love the sinner. And I do that. I worked as a Sex Offender Therapist. I never hated my clients, in spite of the fact that they did terrible things to others, did things I hate.

I wonder if we don't confuse anger with hate. We get very angry and think that we hate the one we are angry with. But anger and hate are the same. I can get angry with someone I love. In fact, the more we care about someone the greater the chance for intense anger when they hurt us. Anger is a secondary emotion. It results from pain or fear. We feel angry when we are hurt - emotionally or physically. Thus, the cursing when someone hits their thumb with the hammer! It is fleeting, though, in that case. We feel angry when someone hurts us emotionally, resulting in name calling when you are insulted or betrayed. This, too, CAN be fleeting, if we don't hang onto the anger as a defense.

And we tend to be angry at what we fear. Not always, of course, but it does happen. And this kind of anger often looks like or becomes hate. Consider the fear of losing what you value when change occurs. For instance, the fear of immigrants taking jobs or getting violent, fear of that which we don't understand. It all gets very tangled, indeed.

So, how much of "hate speak" is really "fear speak"? The dictionary defines hate speech as "speech that attacks, threatens, or insults a person or group on the basis of national origin, ethnicity, color, religion, gender, gender identity, sexual orientation, or disability." We've heard a lot of it lately. And when I think about it, it is often based on lack of knowledge about the person or group or on a fear planted by someone else that folks buy into. Like the anti-Muslim hate speech that tries to paint all people of that faith with the terrorist brush. 

We seem to refuse to acknowledge that the majority of terrorist attacks in the U.S. over the years have been by people who identify themselves as Christian. When violence is done in the name of religion in our country the perpetrators are churched folk. Consider the KKK, the neo-Nazi, and anti-gay activists. Then there are the people who shoot doctors who perform abortions and those who burn black churches.  And how much of that behavior is based on misplaced fear? 

Are you as tangled as I am about hate these days? What are your thoughts? Are you able to identify who you hate? I don't even want to hate. But do I?



Wednesday, November 30, 2016

Month's End

Month's End is the end of a calendar month, when accounts need to be drawn up. Reports are due on where a company is in regard to progress, gains, or losses. It is a time to balance the books, reconcile discrepancies.

Month-end accounting procedures are done to ensure that mistakes are caught and corrected and to provide an accurate picture of a business's finances. So why not identify our mistakes in our personal lives? When we know what worked and what didn't be can better chart a course for our lives in the following months.

What if we each took some time at the end of the month to look at where we, personally, stand? We could look at the progress, gains, or losses toward or personal goals, interpersonal relationships, financial responsibility, compassionate actions, spiritual growth. And what better time to do that than at the end of THIS month?

The past month has been rather turbulent. So much happening that impacts our emotions and our beliefs. Our values have been brought to question. Fear and anger have cropped up nearly everywhere. Grief and celebration, some of each for many of us.

Some in our nation and our communities are acting out in hate while others are countering that with acts of love and compassion. Where have you been in the midst of that this month? What are your regrets? What are you pleased that you did? What worked to make someone's life a bit better? What did it cost you? Do you feel it was worth it?

What did you learn this month - about your friends, family, yourself?  What surprised you? What confirmed what you already believed?

Have you acted on your values? Have you found any new ways to live those values?

What have you gained this month - beyond the pounds from holiday eating!? Do you feel stronger, more connected, more confident? Or have you lost some of that? If you have losses, what can you do to regain what you've lost?

When you look at your checkbook does it reflect what you most value? Where does most of your money go? Is this a reflection of how you want to invest in life?

How much time this month did you spend with the people you care about the most? And how was that time spent? Do you have "screen free" time with them? Do you exchange your thoughts and feelings. Were you a quality listener this month?

How did you take care of yourself this month? Healthy eating? Adequate exercise? Time to yourself? Positive self-talk? How have you fed your Spirit? What would you like to do better next month?

So pat yourself on the back for the positives and resolve to address the negatives. You are a worthwhile person. You deserve good things. Never give up on yourself!

Please leave comments about your process.

Sunday, November 27, 2016

'Tis the Season!

Yep. It is that time of year when nearly everyone is thinking about giving gifts. Holiday gift-giving keeps the economy going. Americans spend huge amounts of money on holiday gifts, decorations, and celebrations.

What all goes into gifting? Obviously, our money goes into gifting. But what else? What feelings do you have for those that you gift? Some of those we give to are loved ones, close friends, people you truly care about. You know about what they like, what they may want, what they need. And you strive to find something nice that they will appreciate.

I know that we have been shopping for family already and thinking about what each person is interested in and/or wants. The better we know them the easier it is to find "just the right gift" for them. For me that is the fun of gift shopping.

There are some folks who ask for a list of what you want, I suppose it is to make it easier for them to shop. But it becomes all too easy to just buy whatever is on the list and not really take the time to think about it. And I wonder if it is really as much fun for the recipient of the gift to know ahead of time what they will be getting. Anyway, we spend a lot of time AND money figuring out what to give.

This year, why not give something that really comes from you? By that I mean give something that is part of you, like time, companionship, assistance, conversation, fun. What might you give that says to them that you are giving something of yourself?

  • You might be good at needlework, woodwork, or some other craft and spend time making a gift for them. 
  • Maybe you love to cook or bake and could give them something they like to eat. 
  • Maybe you could make a gift certificate that promises to help them do some task they could use help with. 
  • Maybe instead of tickets to some entertainment you could TAKE them and spend time having fun with them. 
  • Maybe you could invite them for an evening with you and your family at your home or on an outing - skating, bowling, etc. 
  • Maybe you could put together photos in an album for them to share and remember special times.
  • You might take the time to write a personal letter, by hand, that says what you like, appreciate, and/or respect about the person. 
While you still might choose to buy a gift, I encourage you to also consider the gift of YOU. Building connections is so important in this day and age when everything is fast paced and impersonal. While keeping in touch on-line may feel like connection, it is a pretty tenuous connection. Let's go beyond the surface this year and take some time to build relationships.

Even those folks we gift that we don't know well - people we work with, people who work for us, the mail carrier/paper carrier, teachers, etc. - can have a "special" gift when you put a note in a card that says you appreciate what they do. Go beyond the usual little gift by adding your thanks, hand written thoughtfully. Take a moment to think of all the people you come in contact with on a somewhat regular basis and what you appreciate about them. Then put it in a note to let them know. Little things can mean a lot.

What are some other ways we can "give ourselves away"? Please share your ideas in the comments.

Wednesday, November 23, 2016

Thanks for Giving!

It is nearly Thanksgiving. And we have SO much to be thankful for. What are YOU must thankful for?

Even the poorest of our community has more than most people in he world. There are too many places where there is no clean water to drink. To have any water at all, someone must walk miles to carry it home after walking miles to get it. And you can't carry enough to bathe in. (Even in America, if you are homeless or live on some of the American Indian Reservations, you may not have access to clean water.)

So when you next bathe or shower, be thankful. When you have clean dishes, be thankful. When you have clean clothes be thankful. When you have water to brush your teeth or shave, be thankful. For water is a precious resource. This Thanksgiving why not give something to support clean water for those who have none. Or support those that protect the precious resource from pollution. Give something - time, money, etc. - in gratitude for what you have.

Everyone reading this probably has access to adequate food. It may not always be what we want, but it is enough for us to live without the threat of starvation. Vast populations of people are grateful for one meager meal a day. There are children and elderly people dying of starvation around the world. And when you sit down to Thanksgiving Dinner, think of them. Consider supporting a program that provides nutrition to the most needy. Give something - time, money, etc. - in gratitude for what you have.

Imagine not being able to feed your child or your elderly parent. It is mind-boggling to know that in a world that produces enough food to feed everyone, not everyone is getting fed. In our country alone we throw away enough food to feed another country. This Thanksgiving, resolve to waste less and give more.

And you have a roof over your head. It may not be YOUR roof, but you sleep under a roof at night. Around the world there are people who have lost their homes to war, earthquake, flood, tornado, fire, or poverty. When you go to bed tonight, pray for those who have no roof, no safe place to sleep. And consider what you are willing to do to help solve the problem. From addressing homelessness in your community to supporting efforts in foreign lands, there are many ways you can help. Give something - time, money, etc. - in gratitude for what you have. This Thanksgiving - resolve to help provide shelter for those who need it.

Your gratitude list goes on and on. This time of year we are more aware than at other times of all our blessings. Take time to list them and give thanks for them. And consider how you might do more to share your blessings with others who may be less fortunate than you.

What are you most thankful for?

Sunday, November 20, 2016

Be Happy No Matter What

So, be happy! When you feel happy,you worry less about what you don't have and have more freedom to do and be what feels right to you. When you feel happy you are less insecure, more centered in who you are. So do it. Be happy!

Being happy gives a certain kind of energy that you can use to change not only your life but also the world. When you are happy you are likely to be more helpful and empathetic toward others. You have the energy to DO things, to accomplish more, to pursue Truth.

To be happy is a skill or habit you can develop:

  • Be more playful, more spontaneous. Disappear into the lighter and more fun experience. Let go of self-consciousness. Laugh with friends, throw a Frisbee, cook something great, play with a pet, play with a small child. Really live the experience. 
  • Cultivate gratitude. Make a list of five different things you are grateful for, once each week. Write thank you notes to important people in your life. Tell them what it is about them that you are most grateful for. Practice saying "thank you" more often. Tell the people you come in contact with in a day what you appreciate about them.
  • Exercise more. Yes, I know. You wonder what that has to do with happiness. But it is shown in many scientific studies that people who exercise twenty minutes a day are less likely to be depressed. Take a walk. Play sports. Do something that keeps you moving for twenty minutes - it doesn't have to be hard or fast, just keep moving.
  • Connect with people you like and love, of course. But also personal acts of kindness toward those outside your regular circle helps you feel good about yourself and give good energy into the world. Vary your kindnesses to include novel experiences that keep things light and happy.
  • Meditate. Meditations helps you to detach from negative judgments that cross your mind. It helps you act more from your center. There are a variety of meditation styles. Find what fits for you.
Remember a while back I talked about finding pieces of happiness throughout the day? Noticing the sky's glorious colors can be a piece of happiness. Look for all the little and big things that bring happiness to your awareness. Consider creating a happiness bank. Deposit pieces of happiness in it and review those deposits at the end of the day. Maybe you want to write those down and put them in a jar. Maybe you want to keep a happiness log. Whatever works for you to keep you looking at happiness in your life.

When you are focused on feeling happy you will be amazed at how much better life is for you and the people around you. Share your happiness. Send out happiness pieces into the world and make everyone's day a bit brighter.

And when you are focused on noticing those happiness pieces, you can be happy no matter what.

[I am Grateful for the book How to Be Alive by Colin Beavan for many of the ideas in these posts about being happy.]

Wednesday, November 16, 2016

So, What DO You Want?

What have you decided about your attributes/goals for YOUR life? Which of those listed are highest priority for you? [You can always look at previous posts to refresh your memory.] Are you investing proportionally in those that are your highest priority? If not, that may be what keeps you from being truly happy and truly authentic.

After looking inward you can begin now to chase after what you REALLY want and follow what is true for YOU. When you are doing this you cannot help but help others somehow.,

Way too many people are terrible unhappy with their jobs. The stay in them for the financial reward of a paycheck and health insurance. But they take no pleasure in the jobs and the rewards give them little pleasure either. They feel stuck and become resentful. They would rather do stuff that feels authentic than because of the reward.

One way to address this dissatisfaction, if you see no way to change jobs, is to look for ways to do the job that relate to the attributes/goals that are your highest priorities. Let's look at them again:

  • Affiliation: to have satisfying relationships with family and friends
  • Community feeling: to improve the world through activism or generosity
  • Conformity: to fit in with other people
  • Financial success: to be wealthy and materially successful
  • Hedonism: to experience much sensual pleasure
  • Image: to look attractive in terms of body and clothing
  • Physical health: to feel healthy and free of illness
  • Popularity: to be famous, well-known, and admired
  • Safety: to ensure bodily integrity and safety
  • Self-acceptance: to feel competent and authentic
  • Spirituality: to search for spiritual or religious understanding 

  • Take some time to consider how you might invest in your higher priority attributes/goals in your job. Be creative. Think outside the box. Talk to someone you trust to brainstorm things you can change about your job - how you do it - that is more authentically you. 

    And, of course, consider changing jobs. This might mean going for some training or education that prepares you for something new. Or it might mean exploring what tasks you do in this job that would transfer to another kind of work. Or it might mean developing better life-skills/people-skills that help you advance in your job to another level or location.

    You may be in a situation where there is no way to leave your job because of financial or health reasons. So you might need to set a long-term goal about how long you need to continue before you can leave it. And while you are  getting to that time limited goal you can change your perspective about your goal in order to get through it intact. 

    I was in a job situation once that I came to hate. It was not going to take me where I wanted to go in my career and I was feeling really stuck. Every morning that I had to go to work I was depressed and angry. It was affecting my health, both physical and mental. So I figured out how much money I would have to have saved in order to just quit and look for another job. I figured three months of my income would do it. So I started saving as much money as possible until I reached that goal. It made going in to work so much easier, because my goal was to earn enough in that job to be able to quit! It worked for me! While the job wasn't any better, my attitude definitely was. And that make the days go better. Thankfully, I was offered a better job in the organization that would lead to my career goals and didn't have to actually quit one job and go job hunting. I'd learned a valuable life-lesson about using my personal power to control my attitude and make my life easier.

    You may also make your life better by pursuing your priority life goals outside your job. Your job is just one part of your life. It doesn't have to be the most important part, however. It may just be what you do in order to pay your bills. You can get fulfillment in many ways by becoming involved in community activities, in developing relationships, by improving your health and wellness, by developing spiritually, or by making the world a better place.

    By now can you see how making yourself happy you can make the world a better place? From the world that is immediately around you to the world that stretched out beyond you, everything you do affects the world. When you are living authentically, your effect is to make everything better.

    Be happy! But you are the only one who can make that happen.

    Sunday, November 13, 2016

    Are You Getting What You Want?

    In my last post I suggested that you explore who you are to clarify what you want. I listed eleven attributes that may be part of who you are. Then you can explore your life to see if you are investing in what you want based on who YOU want you to be.

    After exploring those attributes or life goals did you discover how much you invest in the real you? Are you doing the things that give you greater satisfaction based on your own values rather than someone else's idea of who you should be and what you should be doing? How did they match up?

    To be happier with your life you must be investing in those things that are most important to YOU. There are myriad ways of doing that.

    If you want to have satisfying relationships you can invest more time and attention in those relationships that are most important to you. Schedule quality time with them. Be a good listener when you converse. Show up when you say you will and follow through with promises and commitments. Share your weaknesses as well as your strengths. Be real with them.

    To fit in with other people you'll need to find commonalities with them. It won't make you happy to be fake with others. You must be real with them. So exploring your commonalities can make that happen. Learn better people-skills. Are you lacking in social skills? You can learn! If it is important to you to fit in in order for you to be happy you will want to learn how to do that and remain real.

    To improve the world you may want to develop stronger community feeling through activism or generosity. Even we introverts can do this! :-) There are many opportunities for activism for the causes you believe in. And generosity includes giving of your time and compassion. If you need ideas of ways to participate in making the world better, just check back through some of my previous posts on the subject.

    Financial success has different meanings to different people. Wealth is a relative term, even when looking at material and monetary possessions. Decide what for YOU is enough to satisfy this goal and learn ways to achieve it. Do you need more education or training to get the jobs you need to reach this goal? Are you in a field of work that will give you what you want to satisfy this goal? How important is this goal compared to your other goals? Invest in it accordingly.

    Sensual pleasure has a role in every life. How important is it in yours? You alone can decide that. And there are all kinds of sensual pleasure, from simply experiencing the sights and fragrances of a spring day to erotic pleasures. All of our senses are capable of giving us pleasure (or pain). Many people find that experiencing all of their senses non-erotically can satisfy as much or more than the sexual pleasures, if that is more fitting for them. If you are not in a caring sexual relationship you can experience your other senses in pleasurable ways that fit in with your other values.

    To look attractive in terms of body and clothing can be very important to you. Only you can decide just how important that is. This isn't easy to determine when there are so many voices telling us how we should look or are defining attractiveness for us. Get comfortable in your body and maintain good hygiene to explore this attribute. When you decide how you want to look, do what needs to be done for that to happen.

    It is always important to feel healthy and free of illness. But we don't all seem to live our lives to make that happen. So just how important is that to you? What value do you give to this attribute? How much do you want to invest in your health? Are you giving your body good nutrition and adequate exercise? Are you avoiding illnesses that are contagious by getting your vaccines?  Are your practicing good hygiene? Is your behavior reflecting the value you place on this attribute? If not, what do you want to change? Then find a way to do it.

    Want to be famous, well-known, admired? Nothing wrong with that, no matter what anyone else may tell you. There are all kinds of ways to be famous and admired. Find ways that coincide with your other values to be happy with your popularity. Fame is pretty hollow if you are well-known for something that isn't the real you. So find ways to be known and admired for you other important attributes. This can work for creating a better world!

    How important is it to you to be safe, to ensure bodily integrity? Are you comfortable with physical risk? Are you able to know when you are safe and when you aren't? We are currently in a fear culture in our country. How much of it is real? How much of it is personal to you? What are the real dangers and how do you choose to deal with them? Everything from natural disasters to dangerous criminals can create devastation. How real is the risk to you and how do you want to deal with them?  You have lots of choices. You can live in constant anxiety or you can completely ignore all warnings. Or you can choose something in between the extremes. How important is it to YOU to be safe?

    Do you like who you are? Self-acceptance is the attribute of feeling competent and authentic. Obviously one can't be competent at everything. But everyone is competent with something. The issue, I suppose, is if you feel competent at what is most important to you. Knowing what you value goes a long way in helping you develop feelings of competence. So decide what you want to feel competent about and develop that competence. Like the old question "How do you get to Carnegie Hall?" The answer is: practice, practice, practice. Get education or training if need be. Develop your self-esteem to be authentically the person YOU want to be.

    The final attribute on the list is spirituality. This is the search for spiritual or religious understanding. Spirituality is not limited to religion.

    Spirituality is a broad concept with room for many perspectives. In general, it includes a sense of connection to something bigger than ourselves, and it typically involves a search for meaning in life. As such, it is a universal human experience—something that touches us all. People may describe a spiritual experience as sacred or transcendent or simply a deep sense of aliveness and interconnectedness.*

    *[from the University of Minnesota website:]

    What spirituality means to you is also something only YOU can decide. It may or may not be connected with a religious institution. It is often how people determine their purpose in life. The website noted above offers some insight into how you might define YOUR spirituality.

    Are you wondering how all of this can make a better, happier world? It begins by making a better, happier you. When you are living a satisfying life you then have what you need to begin making the world better, happier. 

    Stay tuned for more on how to do that! And share this post with your friends by email and social media by clicking on one of the "share" links at the bottom left of this page. As always, I encourage you to share your comments below

    Wednesday, November 9, 2016

    What Do You Want?

    Really. What do you really want that having it will make you happy?

    Every day we are being told by way of advertisements what we SHOULD want. And, of course, there are people in our lives who also tell us what we should want, a better education, a better job, a bigger house, etc. Television and movies project images of people they think we should be like, what we should want. We are inundated by messages about what we should want.

    But how many of us know what we really want? So few of us take time away from all the distractions to contemplate who we are and what we want.

    Is that edge of anxiety you are experiencing a sign of dissatisfaction in your life? What area of your life are you least satisfied with? What is it lacking for you? No, not by someone else's standards. From your own inner senses, where is the most dissatisfaction? Is it from trying to live up to someone else's idea of what you SHOULD have or be? Is it from your bosses idea of who you must be to be successful in your job? Is it from not having all the things you see others have? What is missing that makes you feel good about you?

    Where is the real you today? And what are your aspirations? Here are eleven aspirations or goals for many people as put forward in Colin Beavan's How to be Alive.

    • Affiliation: to have satisfying relationships with family and friends
    • Community feeling: to improve the world through activism or generosity
    • Conformity: to fit in with other people
    • Financial success: to be wealthy and materially successful
    • Hedonism: to experience much sensual pleasure
    • Image: to look attractive in terms of body and clothing
    • Physical health: to feel healthy and free of illness
    • Popularity: to be famous, well-known, and admired
    • Safety: to ensure bodily integrity and safety
    • Self-acceptance: to feel competent and authentic
    • Spirituality: to search for spiritual or religious understanding
    Take some time in the next day or two to decide how much of these are YOUR goals, how much would you like to invest in achieving them. Beavan's suggest using a clock face with twelve hours marked on it and you indicating how many of those hours you would want to invest in each of these goals. Try it.

    And share what you learn in the comments below.

    Sunday, November 6, 2016

    Happy You, Happy World

    Those who know me won't be surprised that when exploring an idea I turn to books. So, I'm reading How to Be Alive: a guide to the kind of happiness that helps the world, by Colin Beavan. (Beavan is the author of No Impact Man , the story of how he divested himself of attachments and lived off the grid for a year.)

    I am impressed  with much of his book and wanted to share some of it. For instance,

    Your life + all your relationships added together
    All your relationships added together + Your relationship to the world
    Therefore, your ife + Your relationship to the world 
    which means
    a. What you do in your life affects the world
    b. What happens in the world affects your life
    c. You are important to the world and the world is important to you

    This reflects my beliefs about how we are instruments that create the tomorrows for everyone. We seldom really acknowledge that we are responsible for our lives to that extent. But we do create our tomorrow by the seeds we plant today. Even at the minute choices of the day we create the atmosphere of the immediate future. Think about it.

    Did you know that you cause 600 square feet of Arctic Ice to melt each year? Check it out:

    And then there is something as small as our choice of breakfast. Who really thinks about all that is involved in providing our food - egg, meat, bread, butter, coffee/tea/milk? Yet our very consumption of these creates a relationship, of sorts, with all those who produce them and the ecological effects of producing them.

    Are the eggs cage free or produced on chicken farms with chickens given no more than the space of their bodies in the crowded buildings they are kept in. How is the chicken waste they produce disposed of? Do you know? Care?

    What do we really know about the conditions of the animals that are raised to feed us? What chemicals are sprayed on the wheat that ends up as flour for our bread? Are the coffee and tea from fair trade growers? Do they have pesticides on them? And what are the consequences to the earth from all of this?

    Yes, even our breakfast changes the world. And the important thing is that recognize our personal power to choose.

    What do you recognize as parts of your day that impact others?

    Check out Colin Beavan's book at

    Wednesday, November 2, 2016

    Make the World a Happy Place!

    In spite of all the negative influences in the world we can still be happy. What makes you happy makes your world happier. So be HAPPY!

    When your life is fulfilling you are happy. And doing for others can be fulfilling. So in making yourself happy you are ultimately making others happy and making the world a happier place!

    Try it. Doesn't it feel really good when you have helped someone who needed help? That good feeling will spread as you continue to be doing positive things for others.

    So, today make yourself happy by making someone else happy!

    Sunday, October 30, 2016

    Are You Happy?

    That's not a question I ask myself often. I wonder what happiness means to you. I don't know that it is a simple all or nothing thing, at least not for me. So I thought I'd explore it a bit. What is Happiness?

    For me it is made up of little pieces of happiness that are present even when I don't consciously identify them. Life is a mosaic. Some of the pieces are unhappy but most are not. Most are little bits of positive everyday experiences. I can choose to focus on a bit of negativity (unhappiness) or a bit of positivity (happiness).

    That's not to say I should ignore the negative. It gives me information about what needs changed. And if I ignore it I probably won't do anything about it. And if it is negative to me it probably is negative to others. So if I can change it I can then change the experience for others. Yep, I'm back to changing the world again.

    You should know that I'm passionate about changing the world for the better. So it doesn't help to ignore the negative. It also doesn't help to ignore the positives, which we often do. How much better our lives are when we acknowledge all the small positives we experience. We enhance our happiness by noticing the pleasure of small things - a drink of water when we are thirsty, the song of a bird outside our window, the breeze on our face when we are hot, the taste of our favorite food.

    Accumulating awareness of those small things can keep our happiness charged and our perspective positive.

    What small things do you experience as positive? Would you share them in the comments?

    Some of my happy moments? Sewing machine needled threaded at first try; big sewing project completed; cat laying in my lap. Now, what are some of yours from your day?

    Wednesday, October 26, 2016

    This Is How It Begins.

    An act of kindness creates a ripple that carries out into the world beyond us. Make waves!

    What you do today creates your tomorrow.

    Color a better world.

    What will you do to create your tomorrow. Need inspiration?

    Let's get going!

    What did you choose to do today to make the world - and your day - better?

    Sunday, October 23, 2016

    I'm Recruiting for a Revolution

    "Nothing can stop an idea whose time has come" 
    Johann Wolfgang Von Goethe

    Are you in?

    The time has come for us to rise up and make kindness the new normal. We've been witnessing one of the most unkind political campaigns in modern history. And we have watched how violence and division have spread throughout our country and the world. It is time for a change.

    I've written in past posts about changing the world. Well, we can. And it isn't as hard as you might think. Anytime you change your behavior it changes the world that is immediately around you. What you do today creates your tomorrow.

    When we sew seeds of kindness it changes things, often changes people. Kindness is contagious.  And it is also provides invaluable teaching for the children who witness it. So you can change the world around you simply by your kindness.

    By keeping our hearts and minds open to the possibility of kindness we "come into our power, our personal power - the power of a kind heart with the courage to act on it's beliefs." (Margot Silk Forrest,  a short course in kindness,)

    Have you ever considered how someone's world might change as a result of your kind action? Have you ever had one of those days when nothing seemed to go right? Your world seemed really challenging and your frustrations was driving you to anger? Then someone went out of their way to do something really kind and your whole perspective changed. The world no longer seemed so threatening. It was changed by that kind action. And, you became more kind yourself.

    Even the smallest kind act sends out ripples of kindness. When enough of us are living kindness we can create a tsunami of kindness that washes away hate and heals the divisiveness. Really.

     Something as small as taking the empty grocery cart you see parked in a parking slot at the store back to the cart corral or the store doesn't seem like much to you. But to the person who has to round up all those stray carts, one less does make a difference. And for the person who tries to park their car in a slot but can't because of the cart someone thoughtlessly left there it eliminates one more thing that frustrates them that day. Often carts are left in the handicapped parking area because those folks can't walk them back to the store. This, though, makes it hard for the next handicapped person to park close to the store entrance. Why not just grab one of those carts when you go into the store and eliminate that frustration for them?

    Don't think this would change the world? Consider how many kind acts might result because you are thinking more kindly, looking for opportunities to act kindly. The more kindness you act on the more likely you are to do other kind acts. Each time you take action to be kind it reinforces your kindness action and courage. So even if the other person is unaware of your kind act, you become more kind. And, like drops of water on the stone, your kindness changes your life and that of those around you.

    Consider the chain reaction of "paying it forward". Someone at Starbucks pays for the car behind them in the drive through and the people receiving that kindness are likely to pay for the one behind them. It is contagious. Spread it around.

    So, let's rise up and change the world. Look for kind actions that you can do. Take action and spread kindness to everyone. Imagine the result of this revolution!

    Let's change the world. Are you in?

    Wednesday, October 19, 2016

    Ten Ways to Be Kind

    Sometimes I think we should teach people-skills in the public schools as a way to create a population of peacemakers. And kindness would solve a lot of problems kids face every day. What if kindness was encouraged in the classroom. Bullies would be identified immediately and dealt with in an entirely different way. And if kids grow up with kindness as a most-wanted trait we'd have a very different world.

    Anyway, the rest of us can learn to be more kind and to pass that on. Here are ten ways to be kind:
    1.  Think small. Look for the little ways to be kind. They all count. Look for small things you can do, think, or say that are kind. This creates a wave of kindness moving out and beyond you. It is amazing sometimes the impact of a kind word where it is needed.
    2. Follow the Better-Than-Golden-Rule. Do unto others what they would have you do unto them. Do what they need rather than what we think they need. To be truly helpful you must do what they most need. You may think you know what they need, but is it really what they most need? You can only know if you ask. Giving someone food when they really most need gas money to look for work might be nice, but it isn't very helpful.
    3. Listen. Often what people need most is someone to actually listen. Just listen, without judgement or advice or problem-solving. In this "information age" we seldom get heard. Our feelings, or confusion, our distress get rushed past in the effort to fix the situation and move on. We need the validation of being heard. Hold your opinion until it is asked for. Just be fully present with that person - family, friend, or stranger - and you are being the most kind you can be.
    4. Accept the kindness of others. This can be hard for many of us. We avoid appearing vulnerable or needy. But it is a great kindness to accept help from others rather than brushing it off or rejecting it. Refusing someone's kindness stops the flow of kindness into the world. To keep it going we must be able to both give and receive kindness, to let it flow through us. Be kind and say "Thank You", with meaning.
    5. Talk about your hard stuff. This one can be risky. But kindness requires courage. So when it is appropriate, share your own dark times with others. Let them know that you have been through hard times and come out o.k. on the other side. This gives people validation that they are not alone and encourages them to make it through their hard time. One of the most powerful parts of recovery from abuse comes from hearing that others have been there and have become stronger for it. And talking about your own difficulties helps you validate your own journey, too. 
    6. Do it. When action is called for, act! While we may have insight, even empathy, if we don't act on it, kindness doesn't  happen. Action requires your choice, sense of self, and courage. Yes, sometimes kindness requires that we move out of our comfort zone to help someone in need. And that is when true kindness can happen. But we must act on it. Do the thing that needs to be done.
    7. Be There. Companionship is a gift than can be the most needed kindness. Sometimes what is most needed and appreciated it to have someone to share the moments, to be fully present without rushing, without judging, without intruding in any way. To simply be there for someone by sharing the moments, quietly making human contact without any demands for them to respond in any way at all. Sometimes just a touch to show you are with them is enough to show that you care and take the time to be with them.
    8. Encourage laughter. I'm not suggesting you make light of the person's situation. But laughter can be a great gift when it come after sharing personal contact. It can give them a break from their troubles, even for just a moment. It feels good. Kindness can make you laugh with surprise and joy. Laughter can make both the giver and receiver of kindness feel better about yourselves and the world. 
    9. Be encouraging. It is kindness to have faith in others when they don't have faith in themselves. You know how those inner voices can tell you that you can't do something, that you'll never reach your goals, etc. Other people experiences the same thing. And your completely confident encouraging words can counteract those inner voices and help someone keep working toward their goals when they are struggling. Your confidence in them is contagious.
    10. Be kind to yourself. This may be the hardest thing for you to do. But it is vital. Because if you can respect and care for your own needs, you can respect and care for the needs of others. If you only care for others you will eventually be unable to care for anyone. If you only give, you will eventually give out and begin to resent the needs of others as draining you and leaving yu feeling empty. Spend some time paying attention to your needs - physical, emotional, spiritual. Notice your daily needs for rest, regular nutrition, play, solitude,exercise, creativity. Consider what renews and replenishes you and if you are doing those things. Other than sleep, most don't require large amounts of time. They can be built into your day easily. And they can make it possible for you to continue being of service to others.
    If you do these things, and others you create yourself, you can help change the world. Kindness is contagious. And the forces of the universe that want to heal and create peace will help you. Join the revolution of kindness and peace.

    I'd really like to hear what ways you know to be kind. Please share in the comments to extend our list of Ways to Be Kind.

    *Much of this is taken from A Short Course in Kindness by Margot Silk Forrest. I recommend you read her book.

    Sunday, October 16, 2016

    Is Kindness in Short Supply?

    Stories of unkindness make headlines. get talked about, are the stuff of television and movies. They are everywhere - if you only look at the big pictures. But when we begin to look at small things, at the daily kindnesses of everyday people, we can see that it is more pervasive than we thought.

    From the many children who raise money with lemonade stands for charity to the many people that choose to grow their hair long enough to donate it to make wigs for cancer chemo patients, we seldom see those acts of kindness. For every small act of kindness there are many other people doing the same or similar things. But these seldom make the news and we tend to overlook them because of the big tragedies that crowd the headlines.

    We may see a story of a restaurant donating meals to the homeless, while at the same time there are countless times that other restaurants or individuals give a free meal to someone in need. Kindness is subtle. It's about love and care for another. The impact may seem small to most observers while the impact to those that are recipients of the kindness is great.

    If you are wanting to change the world, you must start with where you are, all the small and everyday opportunities for kindness. And we must share the stories of kindness so that others are encouraged to do the same. This can spread kindness across the world.People hear the story of kindness and feel better. Then they change the way they treat each others. Kindness is contagious.

    We need to know that good things happen in the world. Children especially need to hear the stories of kindness. That is how they learn to be kind. And they will then teach others to be kind. They are great imitators. They do what they see others do. Show them kindness.

    When have you experienced kindness? What have you observed that someone did that was truly kind? When have you be the recipient of a kind act? Please share your stories in the comments below.

    Wednesday, October 12, 2016

    So, Are You Selfish?

    I sometimes think I'm selfish when I don't do what someone wants me to or when I choose to stay home rather than attend a meeting. It's hard to say no sometimes. That's exactly how we become used up and cynical. "The world just tries to take, take, take." Then we are used up, resentful, and feel like our tank is empty. That's because it is!

    When you car is getting low on gas, you have to go get gas or it won't run at all. Then it becomes pretty useless. With an empty tank it can't do much of anything. It is the same with people. We have to take care of ourselves or we will be pretty useless, too.

    So saying "no" can be a survival skill we need in order to get ourselves to the filling station! Build in time for yourself to do things that nurture you. People have various ways of nurturing themselves. It may be simply taking a few minutes each day to be quiet and alone. Or it may be music that fills your soul. Or you may have a creative hobby that takes you out of the chaos for a little while.

    We also need to nourish our bodies, get adequate sleep, a balanced diet, and plenty of water. It's like your car. If you do regular maintenance, give it proper fuel, and upkeep it will serve you long and well. If you run it too fast for too long and don't take care of it, it is going to wear out more quickly.

    The trouble is that many of us take better care of our car than we do ourselves! Take a minute right now and check your indicators. How's your body doing?  How's your attitude? Are you feeling happy? Are you eating right and regularly? Are you getting enough rest? Are you doing good self-care? Having some leisure?

    I know, I know, you don't think you have time for leisure. But you don't need hours or days of it if you build it in on a regular basis. How about half and hour for a leisurely bath or walk in a park? How about just shutting your eyes and listening to some music? How about taking time to simply chat with a friend who always lightens your mood? These don't require a total lifestyle change.

    I like to sew and almost always have a project going. I seldom spend hours at it at a time. I do a little at a time. I also crochet, paint, and read. I know, you are thinking that's easy for me because I'm retired. And you are right. It is easier. But even when working and taking care of a family I managed to sew, crochet, and read a little at a time.

    I enjoy creating things. And I even can often combine this self-caring activity that I enjoy with helping others when I have a project that will benefit someone else - as long as I don't set an unreasonable deadline for getting it done. No pressure, just pleasure. Doing for others is sometimes a self-caring activity for me as I get such pleasure from helping. But it can become a drain if I give more time or energy than I have.

    Doing things that feel good which don't have negative side effects is important for our well-being. What good can we do if we are worn out and feeling resentful about all the demands we feel on our energy?

    Don't forget to explore how many of those demands are ones we make on ourselves. Are you trying to do too much? Give up on becoming Super Woman or Super Man and find good balance in your life.

    As well as doing things that feel good, self-care means NOT doing things that feel bad. For me it means limiting the amount of time I am around negative people, not going to violent movies, and staying away from places where people tend to become argumentative and loud. For you it may be different. You may want to stop activities that leave you feeling bad about yourself. You might look at your expectations of yourself and decide that you are being a bit unreasonable. Sometimes doing less can mean more time and energy for the things that really matter for you.

    And another way of caring for yourself is to change the way you talk to yourself. Monitor your self-talk to see if you are being negatively critical. Do you hear yourself saying things like "That was stupid" and other similar phrases? Do you tell yourself you look awful or that you never do anything right? Listen to what goes through your mind and ask yourself if you would talk to someone else like that or if you'd want them to say that to you? Be kind to yourself so you can be kind to others! Try promising yourself that you will never say to yourself anything you wouldn't say to another person. I suspect that is a tall order for many of us. But it is worth working on.

    So, are you selfish or are you taking care of yourself? Think about it. What did you do today to be kind to yourself and take care of you?

    Sunday, October 9, 2016

    Feeling Powerless? Be Kind

    Kindness and power are related. No, not the "power over" kind of power. The power that is exercised with kindness is the power within. Our inner power gives us our sense of being. Kindness shows us we have power "over ourselves and our choices, and over whether this world is a cruel or wondrous pace to live." (A Short Course in Kindness by Margot Silk Forrest.)

    Exercising the capacity for kindness strengthens our power to change our thoughts, our behavior, to reach out to someone we've wronged, and the power to treat ourselves more kindly. Personal power is all about choice. When we are aware of our choices and our ability to make different choices we are truly in charge of our lives.

    Viktor Frankl learned this truth in Auschwitz where he was imprisoned during WWII. In his book Man's Search for Meaning he wrote: "the last of human freedoms - to choose one's attitude in any given set of circumstances, to choose one's own way... Fundamentally . . . any man can . . .  decide what shall become of him - mentally and spiritually." [If you have never read this book, I recommend it. He tells the story of his imprisonment as an inmate who was beaten, starved, deprived of sleep, worked beyond endurance, humiliated, hated, and his friends massacred in the cruelty of concentration camp and how he survived as a whole person.]

    How often do we find ourselves feeling powerless over situations because we cannot change them. And our attitude toward those situations cause us great distress until we decide to change our attitude to become more positive. We are not asked to like the situation. We are charged with the responsibility to determine what to think, feel, and behave in the face of it. This is our personal power.

    To be kind to ourselves and to the world around us we are charged with the chance to live fully in every moment and to look at all that is with eyes of compassion. To do that we let fear and anger and resentment drop away and see ourselves and others as creatures with the same needs and desires, dream, and vulnerabilities.We have more in common that differences.

    And this isn't an instant conversion. It is a process of constantly exploring our thoughts, feelings, and beliefs, and choosing how to respond. It is an evolution. And it requires that we be truly kind to ourselves. Personally, I find this to be the hardest part.

    I look in the mirror and instantly see all that I consider to be wrong with how I look. I feel remorse for things I've said or done, or failed to say or do, and have difficulty forgiving myself for unkindnesses in the past.

    Why has kindness for ourselves turned into a bad rap? It is labeled self-indulgent, selfish, self-pitying. However, being kind to ourselves only means taking care of ourselves as we would take care of anyone we lived. Without self-care we don't have the energy to care about others. Self-care is the root of kindness to others. If all we do is give to others we are soon empty and eventually rather pathetic.

    After showering kindness onto others, take time to rest and take care of yourself. Otherwise you will burn out and not have any energy for others.You will end up angry and resentful and see only the bad in the world and in other people. Putting yourself first in your life is vital to your health. And it is better for others if you do. It is the reason the flight attendants instruct you to put your own oxygen mask on first so that you are better able to help others with theirs. Life is like that.

    How do you take care of yourself? What replenishes you? Do you struggle with feelings of guilt about taking care of yourself first?