10 November  2015      

Hello, and thank you for being here!  We hope that this issue finds you
having a wonderful week so far, and that you're able to find something
here that's relevant to your life and helpful to you!

from Destiny in the Balance
Earl Nightingale

 Different Points of View (an excerpt)
Salle Merrill Redfield

Strategies for Taking Action
tom walsh

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Keep your thoughts right, for as you think, so you are.  Therefore, think only those things that will make the world better, and you unashamed.

Henry H. Buckley

Happy marriages begin when we marry the ones we love, and they blossom when we love the ones we marry.

Tom Mullen

Treat the other person's faith gently; it is all he or she has to believe with.  Others' minds were created for their own thoughts, not yours or mine.

Henry S. Haskins

In any moment of decision the best thing you can do is the right thing, the next best thing is the wrong thing, and the worst thing you can do is nothing.

Theodore Roosevelt

  

from Destiny in the Balance
Earl Nightingale

A person's world can be compared to a plot of ground.  It exists; it's there.  It has inherent within itself an astonishing potential, and it's prepared to react to a person's every action.  In fact, it must.

Whatever your job happens to be, think of it for a moment as this plot of ground.  In the beginning, there's nothing there but earth.  If a person sits and watches it, nothing will happen to it.  If a few seeds are tossed onto it, the rain and the soil's natural fertility will combine to reward that person with a few results for limited efforts.  Action; reaction.  It all depends upon just what is wanted from this plot of earth.  It's what is wanted that must first be decided.

Let's say what is wanted is a beautiful lawn, bordered by flower gardens, with a big tree, under the shade of which the person can sit one day and admire the work.  So the areas for the gardens are marked off; the soil is cultivated, smoothed, and cleared of stones and trash; the lawn, flowers, and trees are planted.  From this point on, anyone observing this plot of land can evaluate in a second the amount of service, the contribution, this person is giving to the project.  How can you tell?  You can tell by seeing what the land is giving back to the person.

We are given the plot, and that's all we should be given.  Planting the plot is only the first step.  How we tend it determines its degree of greatness and success.

There's a story about a preacher who was driving by a beautiful farm.  The fields were beautifully cultivated and abundant with well-cared-for crops.  The fences, house and barn were clean, neat and freshly painted.  A row of fine trees led from the road to the house, where there were shaded lawns and flower beds.  It was a beautiful sight to behold.  When the farmer who was working in the field got to the end of a row near the road, the preacher stopped his car and hailed him.  The preacher said, "God has blessed you with a beautiful farm."

The farmer stopped and thought a moment.  Then he replied, "Yes, He has, and I'm grateful.  But you should have seen this place when He had it all to Himself."

The farmer understood that he had been blessed with a fine farm; but he was also aware that it was his own love and labor that had brought it to its present state.

Each of us is given a plot to work--"a lifetime and the work we have chosen."  Like the farmer, we can be grateful if we have the vision, imagination and intelligence to build well and successfully upon the seemingly unimpressive land of our beginnings.  Or we can let it fall into a haphazard condition, with no real continuity or purpose behind it--with unpainted, ramshackle buildings, surrounded by weeds and debris.  In both cases, the land is the same; it's what we do with it that makes the difference.  The potential for a miracle is there, if only we're wise enough to see it and to realize that our fulfillment as persons depends upon our reaction to what we've been given.

To come up with ways to improve your service, read books on your specialty; read what others have found to work well for them.  But at the same time, think of original and creative ways to increase your service--ways that are unique with you and the way you are.

Going at it strong for a week or a month and then falling back into old habits is just like working for a week or a month on that plot of ground and then abandoning it.  Before long, it will be no better than before.

Each morning, and during the day, ask yourself this question:  "How can I increase my service today, knowing that my rewards in life must be in exact proportion to my service?"  Do this every day, and you will have started to form one of life's most valuable habits.

Horace Mann wrote:  "If any person seeks for greatness, let that person forget greatness and ask for truth, and that person will find both."

You can banish all the confusion and complications, nagging worries, and vague, half-formed fears by returning to the great truths, the great laws, the great verities on which all success, all accomplishment--on which the whole world--is built.
  
  

A pioneer in the human potential movement offers principles to put one's life on track. Nightingale is the co-founder of the world's largest personal growth audio publisher and a veteran broadcaster, but his deeper gifts are the personal values he articulates in this recording. Inspiring people to get ahead of the world's also-rans without denigrating them, he promotes an invigorating sense of self-responsibility--a need to get one's own house in order, find one's passion and gifts, and not settle for the herd's idea of the good life.

   

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Different Points of View
an excerpt
Salle Merrill Redfield

Even though we tend to assume we are much like everyone else in our culture, each of us has his or her own beliefs and assumptions about the nature of life.  These assumptions are formed through years of experience, beginning in childhood and continuing throughout our entire lives.  Each experience adds to our unique value system and point of view.  For instance, a person who grew up with a loving, stable family would view the world differently than a person who spent his childhood in and out of foster homes.  Similarly, a person who has undergone years of stress created by a chronic disease will have a different appreciation for life than a person who has never been ill.

Our differences can sometimes be startling when they show up.  Have you ever had the experience of talking with someone, assuming you are being understood, when suddenly you realize the other person has no idea of what you just said?  Or the person becomes upset for seemingly no reason?  Chances are, something you said didn't make sense within this person's experience.  Or perhaps your words came across as a put-down and created a defensive reaction.

There is a good probability that the breakdown in communication happened because the other person assigned a different meaning than you intended to a word or phrase you used.  This is more common than many of us think.

To clarify this point, think about an ordinary word like "wealth."  It can conjure up a thousand connotations.  To one person "wealth" may mean being able to pay bills on time and having enough money left over to take the family to dinner and a movie once a month.  To someone else "wealth" will mean owning three homes and a private jet.  And to yet another person "wealth" may mean having a healthy family and loving friends.  Our unique definitions are all very subjective, sensitive, and sometimes unconscious. . . .

We may hear a statement or request from another person and think, "This person is stupid or wrong."  What's actually happening is that the other person is sharing his or her beliefs, based on his or her experiences.  If we disagree with what seems perfectly logical to that person, we will shut down communication immediately.

If we find ourselves becoming defensive, it helps to ask the other person to define what he or she meant by their statement.  We may realize we misinterpreted their meaning altogether.  And if we are the ones who say something that is misunderstood, it helps to make statements like "Perhaps I wasn't very clear with my point" or "Let me say that another way."  This will disarm the other person and give them the opportunity to explain what they thought was said.

Also make sure that you are being understood by asking, "Do you know what I mean?" or "Did that make sense?"  When you are trying to convey an important point, you may find it helpful to have your listener repeat what you said.  This way you can determine what he or she actually heard.

Check body language.  By noticing a look on someone's face or maybe a tilt of a head, you will be able to tell if you were understood or if your statements were unclear.
 
 

In the spirit of her best-selling The Joy of Meditating, Salle Merrill Redfield offers seven wise meditations to teach you how to live in joy.  These meditations take you gently down differing paths to the same end:  inner peace.

   

   

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Ours is a world of nuclear giants and ethical infants.  We know more
about war than we know about peace, more about killing than we
know about living.  We have grasped the mystery of the atom
and rejected the Sermon on the Mount.

Omar Nelson Bradley

   

 

Strategies for Taking Action

I know many people who seem to be sleepwalking through life.  They establish routines and then they get set in those routines, rarely if ever stepping out of them to try to do something new or different until they're forced to do so, either by circumstances of by a sense of desperation or frustration.  They may know that something needs to change, but the idea of taking action is almost foreign to them, or their fear keeps them from doing so.  Much of my life has been this way--heck, it still is in some areas.  I don't take action all the time, even when there's a voice inside of me telling me to do so.

Sometimes, the routine is simply too comfortable.  Taking action on something would rip me from the comfort of the routine, and I simply don't want to risk losing the comfort.  Comfort, though, rarely leads to growth (though a strong argument could be made that comfort can allow one to read much more, which can be a source of growth, depending on the reading material).  Comfort very often leads to stagnation, both intellectually and emotionally.

Other times, the risk is too high.  It may be the risk of losing the comfort, but the risk may be even deeper--what will happen if I lose everything I have?  What will happen if I can no longer take care of my family?  Any course of action that we take will have inherent risks.  One of the most important things we can do before we take action is realistically assess the risk involved.  I think there are at least three levels of risk:  Not risky enough to keep me from doing it; Risky, but the results of the risk wouldn't be the end of the world; and Too risky to bother.  Would I put all of my money into one money-making scheme that may or may not pan out?  Absolutely not.  Could I put most of my money into a plan that truly does fill a need in my community and therefore has a decent chance for success?  Much more likely.

One day, I'll address some strategies for assessing and taking risks.

   

Having the world's best idea will do you no good unless
you act on it.  People who want milk shouldn't sit on
a stool in the middle of a field in hopes that
a cow will back up to them.

Curtis Grant

   
If I want to take action on something, usually I'll first do a quick risk assessment.  This can be completely informal and it doesn't have to involve a detailed study.  Can I join this particular group activity, or will it conflict with other things that I do (like work)?  Will taking action end up taking much more time than it initially appears?  Many people who have volunteered for a one-hour a week activity have ended up spending much more time than it initially appears.  And if it will take more time, do I have that time to spare?  If I do, and I'm willing to spend that time on this activity, then there's no problem at all.

Secondly, I need to know just what I'm taking action on.  Perhaps there's a political cause that I feel is very important--should I take action trying to solve a problem or trying to recall a politician?  Is the group I'm planning on acting with in line with my own political ideals, or are they more reactionary or aggressive than I prefer to be?  If I'm planning to start my own business, I need to know exactly what my first step is--do I need to develop a prototype, devise a business plan, apply for a license?  If my first action won't work because I missed another action beforehand, then I may face enough frustration that I'll give up, and then all my action will have been useless.

Perhaps I want to confront someone who has said something rude about me.  I know from experience that if I don't think about the situation first, if I don't consider what I'm going to say and how I'm going to react to the other person's comments, things very easily can turn out poorly.  The other person is likely to become defensive and more hurtful words may come out--if I haven't considered what I'm going to say and how I'm going to react, many of those hurtful words may be mine.  While I might have thought that the action of confronting this person was going to have positive results, it will have become a harmful action rather than a helpful one.
    

Success often comes to those who dare and act;
it seldom goes to the timid who are afraid of the consequences.

Jawaharlal Nehru

    
It is important to be the person who takes the action, but it's also important to be prepared to take the action.  We can't spend so much time getting prepared that we freeze ourselves into inaction, of course, and we can't wait too long while we figure out what we want to do.  One of the biggest obstacles to action is too much preparation, which usually is just a way of putting something off because we're afraid to actually do it.

Not everyone is going to take action in the same ways.  There are people who jump right into the pool, and there are those who gradually submerge themselves.  If a child is drowning in the pool, though, the person who usually takes his or her time is going to have to change strategies if their action is going to have the desired outcome.  So we have to balance the realities of what the situation calls for and what kind of people we are.  If I'm a jumper, then I may sabotage my chances of success if I want to get my new business started too quickly--I'm probably going to have to slow down and make sure that each stage is taken care of well before I move to the next stage.

Sometimes, the action called for is very simple.  If you want milk, you go to the cow.  If a friend or a person we know looks like they're having troubles, the best action we can take may be going up to them and saying hello.  As we walk by the pieces of a broken bottle, the action that's called for may be to stop and pick up those pieces so they don't hurt anyone.  And an action may be simple but difficult--if someone is offending me with their language, do I say something?  That can be very hard.  Or do I leave, which is also a way to make a strong statement about the language?  That's often easier, but is it as effective?  And am I prepared for a possible confrontation if the person using the offensive language may start to insult me personally for daring to say anything about their language?  Knowing what I'm ready for and what I'm not ready for can help me to make the decision about which action to take.
   

We don’t always know whose lives we touched and made better for
having cared, because actions can sometimes have unseen ramifications.
What’s important is that you do care and you do act.

Charlotte Lunsford

   
No matter how we look at it, taking action when we want to accomplish or change something is usually our only alternative.  Knowing what we're going to do before we attempt us allows us to be prepared for the action and its results.  Some actions don't need much planning, while others need a good deal of preparation if the action is going to have the desired results.  We can improve our chances of being successful when we take action by keeping in mind a few important principles, and we greatly increase the chances of failure if we don't at least consider what we're going to do and how we're going to do it.  It's great to talk about how important action is in life, but it's even more important to prepare ourselves for an action.

   
More on action.

   

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We flourish under the benefits of encouragement, praise, approval, and acceptance.  If we live with encouragement--especially our own--we learn to be confident.  If we live with self-praise, we learn to appreciate what's around us.  If we coexist with self-approval, we're more likely to give ourselves--and others-- a little slack.

Leslie Levine

  
There are ways that this culture can lull you to sleep if you aren't careful and don't occasionally stop just to look around.  The irony is that it's a sleepwalking induced and kindled by the notion that life is meant to be perpetual motion, as if life fully lived implies relentless activity.

"What are you doing?"

"Nothing."

"Nothing?  How do you get away with that?"

Yesterday our birdfeeders were visited by three Cedar Waxwings.  My wife and I sat watching through the glass doors that lead out onto our deck.  Waxwings were a first for us.  And they are surreal in their elegance.  They are a crested bird, greyish brown with a canary yellow belly.  Zorro-like, they wear a black mask and chin.  Each looks like a fine porcelain figurine, delicate and without blemish.  While we watched, a nuthatch shuttled from feeder to tree trunk, one sunflower seed per trip, each time wedging the seed into a crevice of the bark where he would, from my way of seeing, stand upside down while pecking away at the shell.  The late spring evening sun hung as if suspended off the western horizon, while the air remained still.

Sometime during this pageant, it occurred to me that this is it. This, as in this elusive essence we call life.  I tried to remember the Henry David Thoreau quote about going into the woods to drink from the very marrow of life, but I couldn't quite come up with it and realized that it didn't really matter anyway.  I doubt if the Cedar Waxwings would have been impressed.  If you are lucky, you grab hold of these  moments when they come, for they are parcels of life undistilled.  And you save the analysis for later on down the road.  You could, I suppose, stop and take a picture if you wanted to take the time to find your camera.  Or you can chuckle at your need to confine the moment, push it aside, and curl up on the couch to watch the birds, listen to their song, and feel the gooseflesh reminding you that your heart is still intact.

Terry Hershey
Soul Gardening
   
  

They that give good advice, build with one hand; they that give good
counsel and example, build with both; but they that give good admonition
and bad example, build with one hand and pull down with the other.

Francis Bacon

    

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A new way of reading has been here for a while now.  And while we still love our books, if you're like many people, you get tired of lugging around the books that sometimes weigh more than anything else we carry.  Imagine carrying hundreds of books--novels, self-help, history, travel, you name it--and reading them comfortably on a no-glare screen, setting things like text size to your own preferences.  It's a great experience, and it's available to us now for less than the cost of ten books.  And there are plenty of free books to download, especially timeless classics--you can easily get enough free books to pay for the Kindle.  Give yourself the gift of wonderful literature that you can easily bring with you, wherever you go!

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