1 December  2015      

December is here, and it's time for the first issue of the month of our e-zine!
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Take good care of yourself this month, and please make it a month to remember!

 Important Places
Robert Fulghum

 Looking through Love's Eyes
Zig Ziglar

Strategies for Developing a Positive Attitude
tom walsh

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Let no one who loves be called unhappy.  Even love unreturned has its rainbow.

J.M. Barrie

Spring, summer, and fall fill us with hope; winter alone reminds us of the human condition.

Mignon McLaughlin

The tree which moves some to tears of joy is in the eyes of others only a green thing which stands in their way.

William Blake

We teach children how to measure and how to weigh.  We fail to teach them how to revere, how to sense wonder and awe.

Harold Kushner

  

Important Places
Robert Fulghum

Hair grows at the rate of about half an inch a month.  I don't know where he got his facts, but Mr. Washington came up with that one when we were comparing barbers.  That means that about eight feet of hair had been cut off my head and face in the last sixteen years by my barber.

I hadn't thought much about it until I called to make my usual appointment and found that my barber had left to go into building maintenance.  What?  How could he do this?  My barber.  It felt like a death in the family.  There was so much more to our relationship than sartorial statistics.

We started out as categories to each other:  "barber" and "customer."  Then we became "redneck ignorant barber" and "pinko egghead minister."  Once a month we reviewed the world and our lives and explored our positions.  We sparred over civil rights and Vietnam and lots of elections.  We became mirrors, confidants, confessors, therapists, and companions in an odd sort of way.  We went through being thirty years old and then forty.  We discussed and argued and joked, but always with a certain thoughtful deference.  After all, I was his customer.  And he was standing there with his razor in his hand.

I found out that his dad was a country policeman, that he grew up poor in a tiny town and had prejudices about Indians.  He found out that I had the same small-town roots and grew up with prejudices about Blacks.  Our kids were the same ages, and we suffered through the same stages of parenthood together.  We shared wife stories and children stories and car troubles and lawn problems.  I found out he gave his day off to giving free haircuts to old men in nursing homes.  He found out a few good things about me, too, I suppose.

I never saw him outside the barber shop, never met his wife or children, never sat in his home or ate a meal with him.  Yet he became a terribly important fixture in my life.  Perhaps a lot more important than if we had been next-door neighbors.  The quality of our relationship was partly created by a peculiar distance.  There's a real sense of loss in his leaving.  I feel like not having my hair cut anymore, though eight feet of hair may seem strange.

Without realizing it, we fill important places in each other's lives.  It's that way with a minister and congregation.  Or with the guy at the corner grocery, the mechanic at the local garage, the family doctor, teachers, neighbors, co-workers.  Good people, who are always "there," who can be relied upon in small, important ways.  People who teach us, bless us, encourage us, support us, uplift us in the dailiness of life.  We never tell them.  I don't know why, but we don't.

And, of course, we fill that role ourselves.  There are those who depend on us, watch us, learn from us, take from us.  And we never know.  Don't sell yourself short.  You may never have proof of your importance, but you are more important than you think.

It reminds me of an old Sufi story of a good man who was granted one wish by God.  The man said he would like to go about doing good without knowing about it.  God granted his wish.  And then God decided that it was such a good idea, he would grant that wish to all human beings.  And so it has been to this day.
    

Here Fulghum engages us with musings on life, death, love, pain, joy, sorrow, and the best chicken-fried steak in the continental U.S.A. The little seed in the Styrofoam cup offers a reminder about our own mortality and the delicate nature of life . . . a spider who catches (and loses) a full-grown woman in its web one fine morning teaches us about surviving catastrophe . . . the love story of Jean-Francois Pilatre and his hot air balloon reminds us to be brave and unafraid to “fly” . . . life lessons hidden in the laundry pile . . . magical qualities found in a box of crayons . . . hide-and-seek vs. sardines—and how these games relate to the nature of God. All I Really Need to Know I Learned in Kindergarten is brimming with the very stuff of life and the significance found in the smallest details.

   

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Looking through Love's Eyes
Zig Ziglar

Goethe made a rather profound statement when he said, "If I treat you as you are, you will remain as you are.  If I treat you as if you were what you could be, that is what you will become."  Those words of long ago express in a unique way what love is about.  As I reread them for the umpteenth time, I think of the love in a family and the way we see each other.  Looking at your mate as alive, well, and alert rather than nosy, or seeing him or her as exercising good judgment and thrift instead of being shallow and stingy, will have a profound impact on your relationship.  If you think of your mate as being expressive instead of talkative, and if you consider him or her sensitive and caring rather than touchy, your respect and admiration for your mate will grow, and you will develop a deeper love, appreciation, and understanding of him or her.

When you take that approach, you will have mastered one of the great lessons of life--namely, that when you love someone, you do not react to the symptoms of behavior, but you respond to the need that your mate might have.  In this process you will learn that love will always give you the benefit of the doubt.  Over a period of time you will realize that you do that not because you want to do what is right, but because you have become that kind of person.

The underlying message behind all of this is that you can change, and in the process you will have a substantial influence on the life of the other person.  Each of you will win, and as a couple, you will win.  That's the way to beat the daily grind.

If He Can, You Can

Kacey McCallister lives in Keizer, a suburb of Salen, Oregon.  He plays basketball, and in baseball he has been catcher and covered positions at first base and in the outfield.  His play was so spectacular that a Little League team in North Carolina dedicated its season to him, and disabled Boy Scouts in Georgia were inspired by him.  People all over America have been inspired by Kacey, who lost both legs at the hip when he was run over by a truck a few years ago.

He does all of those things by propelling himself with his arms.  He has a tremendous attitude and a determination to live as any other youngster wants to live, and the nation is applauding him.  CNN sent a crew to the family's home to do a story on him.  Kacey said he was more motivated than ever:  "I want to show them that I really can do all this stuff."

In today's world when too many people complain about everything, here's a role model who is determined to make the most of life.  Where do his drive, commitment, and enthusiasm for life come from?  I suspect his mother and father are much of the source of his inspiration.  Instead of spoiling him by catering to his whims and allowing him to feel sorry for himself, they've made the wise choice of encouraging him to believe in himself and letting him do everything he can do, while still being available to help when it is required.  That's love in action, and the results are spectacular.
    

The daily grind can be exhausting--both physically and mentally. Motivational speaker Zig Ziglar offers this devotional as an antidote to "jump start" your day. You can face each weekday morning with a power-packed message and end the day with encouraging words that will promote restful sleep. Full of motivation and inspiration, Staying Up, Up, Up in a Down, Down World is a combination of inspiring vignettes, humorous anecdotes, well-chosen quotes, and relevant Scriptures. Don't allow yourself to be dragged down by day-to-day trials; instead, allow the positive words of Ziglar to lift you up each day.

   

   

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Be aware of wonder.  Live a balanced life-- learn some
and think some and draw and paint and sing and dance
and play and work every day some.

Robert Fulghum

   

 

Strategies for Developing a Positive Attitude

So much of our lives is determined by the attitudes that we bring to life.  Most of the results of our actions come about because of the attitudes that drive those actions, yet this is an aspect of life that many people seem to want to refuse to acknowledge.  If I go to a job interview with the attitude that the interview doesn't matter because I probably won't get the job, guess what?  If I go to the interview with the attitude that I'm very good at what I do and I would do great in this job, then guess what?  My chances of landing the job greatly increase.

But here's the rub:  If five people are interviewing for the job and three of them are much more qualified for it, then my chances of being hired are slim, no matter what attitude I bring.  This is simply a fact of life.  And if I'm not hired, then I'll probably never know whether or not a positive attitude helped me out or not--and it's very easy to just say, "Forget it--the positive attitude didn't help me a bit."

Then we tend to undervalue the positive attitude, simply because it hasn't worked for us in one situation.  But there are plenty of other situations in which a positive attitude more than likely won't have a desired effect:  if you want to date someone who really doesn't care for you "in that way," your positive attitude probably won't convince that person to date you.  It could very well, though, cause the person to like and admire you, opening the door to a different--and possibly even just as fulfilling--type of relationship.

   

Could we change our attitude, we should not only see
life differently, but life itself would come to be different.
Life would undergo a change of appearance because
we ourselves had undergone a change in attitude.

Katherine Mansfield

   
Basically, then, while a positive attitude doesn't guarantee any particular results, it most definitely can guarantee that you will have a more positive experience in whatever you do.  A positive attitude will also improve your odds of accomplishing what you want, and it will make you feel better about yourself and what you do.

When someone has a positive attitude, other people tend to enjoy being around them more.  Others tend to trust them more, and they tend to want to seek out their company more.

So how do we keep a positive attitude?  It's simply a question of perspective, mostly, as well as decisions that we make.  First of all, it's very important that we look for the good and the positive in each situation.  The old saying about each cloud having a silver lining is more true when we decide to look for that lining.  And if we're going to look for the good in a situation, then we need to accept the situation for exactly what it is.  Have you lost your job?  Yes, that's negative, but is there an opportunity for you to move on to something better, something that you enjoy more, or that's more rewarding?  We choose how we see things.

Also, we need to make a habit of spreading positive energy if we want to maintain a positive attitude.  Positive energy builds on itself, but it has to start somewhere.  Encouraging others, complimenting others, pointing out good things, telling things that you like instead of criticizing--all of these things can help to create and maintain strong positive energy, and thus a positive attitude.
    

Our attitude is something
we can control.  We can establish our attitude each morning
when we start our day--in fact, we do just that, whether or
not we realize it.  And the people in our family--all the people
in our world--will reflect back to us the attitude we present to
them.  It is, then, our attitude toward life that determines
life's attitude toward us.  Cause and effect.  Everything we say
or do will cause a corresponding effect.  If we're cheerful, glad
to be experiencing this miracle of life, others will reflect that
good cheer back to us.  We are the kind of people
others enjoy being around.


Earl Nightingale

    
As Earl says above, starting our day in positive ways can be one of the most important methods we can employ to improve our attitudes.  Personally, I start each day working on this website and focusing on the positive thoughts and ideas that are here, as well as finding more to put on here.  Starting each day that way has helped me greatly to improve my attitude and keep it more positive, and keeping it positive helps me to feel better about all I do, and react more positively to things that come up.

Maintaining a positive attitude also helps to attract more positive people to you.  Like attracts like.  If you have a negative attitude all the time, you're going to attract people to you who also have negative attitudes, and logic tells you that if you're around people with negative attitudes, developing a positive attitude will be incredibly difficult.  So one of the more important elements of developing a positive attitude is to let go of the toxic people in your life, the people who bring you down and make you feel bad about yourself and your life.  Find other people who are positive and encouraging, and make them a part of your life.
   

Your mental attitude is something you can control outright and you must
use self-discipline until you create a Positive Mental Attitude--your
mental attitude attracts to you everything that makes you what you are.

Napoleon Hill

   
Being positive will help you to improve your life.  You won't always see the results, and you definitely won't see the results immediately--you must be patient and persistent with your positive perspective on life.  You will start to feel the results in your heart and spirit, though, as you allow yourself to let go of negative attitudes, criticism, anger, and other negative traits in order to make room for encouragement, compliments, patience, and many other positive attributes.

   
More on attitude.

   

One of the most important elements
of living life fully is awareness-- awareness of our surroundings, of other people and their motives and fears and desires, of the things that affect us most in our lives, both positively and negatively. In the twelve years of livinglifefully.com's existence, this essay series has been a mainstay of the weekly e-zine--a series that has explored not just the things that exist and that happen around us, but also our reactions to those things. The first five years of the column are now available exclusively on Kindle.

   

  

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When you have worn out
your shoes, the strength of
the shoe leather has passed
into the fiber of your body.
I measure your health by
the number of shoes and hats
and clothes you have worn out.

Ralph Waldo Emerson

  
Fear of failure

So much of life involves risk
and the possibility of failure.
If you are not afraid of failure,
you will take many more risks
in your life.
The more risks you take,
the more alive you will feel.
You are afraid of failure
because you fear rejection.
The moment you give up seeking
acceptance from others,
your fear of rejection will disappear.
And with it, the fear of failure.

Leonard Jacobson
   
  

It is essential that our love be liberating, not possessive.  We must at all
times give those we love the freedom to be themselves.  Love affirms the other
as other.  It does not possess and manipulate another as mine. . . . To love is
to liberate.  Love and friendship must empower those we love to become
their best selves, according to their own lights and visions.

John Powell

    

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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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