15 November 2016      

Good day, and welcome to today!
Wherever you are and whatever you may be doing,
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 Would You Take a Million Dollars
for What You Have?     Dale Carnegie

The Importance of the Present
Nathaniel Branden

The Bigger Picture
tom walsh

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If you do things well, do them better.
Be daring, be first, be different, be just.

Anita Roddick

When we cannot get what we love,
we must love what is within our reach.

French proverb

There is only one real sin and that is
to persuade oneself that second best
is anything but second best.

Doris Lessing


Would You Take a Million Dollars for What You Have?
Dale Carnegie

About ninety per cent of the things in our lives are right and about ten percent are wrong.  If we want to be happy,  all we have to do is to concentrate on the ninety per cent that are right and ignore the ten per cent that are wrong.  If we want to be worried and bitter and have stomach ulcers, all we have to do is concentrate on the ten per cent that are wrong and ignore the ninety per cent that are glorious.

The words "Think and Thank" are inscribed in many of the Cromwellian churches of England.  These words ought to be inscribed on our hearts, too.  "Think and Thank."  Think of all we have to be grateful for, and thank God for all our boons and bounties.

Jonathan Swift, author of Gulliver's Travels, was the most devastating pessimist in English literature.  He was so sorry that he had been born that he wore black and fasted on his birthdays; yet, in his despair, this supreme pessimist of English literature praised the great health-giving powers of cheerfulness and happiness.  "The best doctors in the world," he declared, "are Dr. Diet, Doctor Quiet, and Doctor Merryman."

You and I may have the services of "Doctor Merryman" free every hour of the day by keeping our attention fixed on all the incredible riches we possess--riches exceeding by far the fabled treasures of Ali Baba.

Would you sell both your eyes for a billion dollars?  What would you take for your two legs?  Your hands?  Your hearing?  Your children?  Your family?  Add up your assets, and you will find that you won't sell what you have for all the gold ever amassed by the Rockefellers, the Fords, and the Morgans combined.

But do we appreciate all this?  Ah, no.  As Schopenhauer said:  "We seldom think of what we have but always of what we lack."  Yes, the tendency to "seldom think of what we have but always of what we lack" is the greatest tragedy on earth.  It has probably caused more misery than all the wars and diseases in history.

It caused John Palmer to turn "from a regular guy into an old grouch," and almost wrecked his home.  I know because he told me so.

Mr. Palmer lives in Paterson, New Jersey.  "Shortly after I returned from the Army," he said, "I started in business for myself.  I worked hard day and night.  Things were going nicely.  Then trouble started.  I couldn't get parts and materials.  I was afraid I would have to give up my business.  I worried so much that I changed from a regular guy into an old grouch.  I became so sour and cross that--well, I didn't know it then; but I now realize that I came very near to losing my happy home.

"Then one day a young, disabled veteran who works for me said, 'Johnny, you ought to be ashamed of yourself.  You take on as if you were the only person in the world with troubles.  Suppose you do have to shut up shop for a while--so what?  You can start up again when things get normal.  You've got a lot to be thankful for.  Yet you are always growling.  Boy, how I wish I were in your shoes!  Look at me.  I've only got one arm, and half of my face is shot away, and yet I am not complaining:  If you don't stop your growling and grumbling, you will lose not only your business, but also your health, your home, and your friends!'

"Those remarks stopped me dead in my tracks.  They made me realize how well off I was.  I resolved then and there that I would change and be my old self again--and I did."

You and I ought to be ashamed of ourselves.  All the days of our years we have been living in a fairyland of beauty, but we have been too blind to see, too satiated to enjoy.

Dale Carnegieís motivational and practical teachings are as sound today as when they were first written. Bestsellers for more than 60 years, How to Win Friends reveals fundamental techniques for handling people, six ways to make others like you, tricks for becoming a better speaker, and how to be a leader. In How to Stop Worrying, Carnegie offers proven formulas for eliminating 50 percent of your business concerns immediately, suggestions for lessening financial fears, ideas for avoiding emotional upset, and much more. Itís the key to exchanging self-consciousness for self-confidence.


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The Importance of the Present
Nathaniel Branden

One aspect of nourishing the soul is the ability to stay focused on the present, to live in the present.  Many years ago, in the 1960s, I was writing a book called The Psychology of Self-Esteem.  I was a young man at the time, in my thirties, and one day I was sitting at my typewriter, impatient for the book to be finished, thinking that my life would really begin to unfold only when this book was finished.  Yet I intuitively knew that something was wrong with this line of thought.  So I asked myself what I thought I would be doing when the book was finished, and I immediately answered, "Planning the next book."  And when the next book was finished?  "Planning the book after that."  I saw that my life, first and foremost, was about writing:  that was and is my passion.  So, in the middle of writing The Psychology of Self-Esteem, I finally realized "This is it.  This is my life.  If I can't enjoy it now, every day, there is no reason to believe I'll be better able to enjoy it in the future, after the seventh, eighth, or ninth book."

That realization was a turning point for me.  The impulse to focus on the future can be quite strong.  It's natural to look ahead.  Yet I realized that the key to happiness lay in enjoying the process, not just the final result--because the greater part of my life was going to be spent at the level of process and not at the stage of contemplating the finished product.  So now I bless each day I can get up and go to my computer and sit down to write and know and love the fact that this is what my life is all about.

I believe that earning your living doing something you enjoy is one of the very best ways to nourish yourself.  But even if you are employed at something that is not your ideal work, it is important to find ways to take as much pleasure in it as possible.  Living in the present moment can make ordinary activities more interesting and joyful; you may be surprised, if you only look, at what you will find.  If you try to stay connected with why you are doing what you are doing, for example, then even the parts of your life that aren't especially interesting can become more meaningful.

Sometimes I have to go to an event that doesn't especially interest me.  I've learned to tell myself, Make this experience as happy for yourself as you possibly can.  Once that becomes a conscious purpose, it's amazing how imaginative one can become.  Life becomes infinitely more interesting.

Nothing I am saying about the importance of living in the present denies the value of being concerned with the future.  We want to keep in mind our goals, what we're moving toward, and to see the progression and direction that underlie our activities.  We need to be able to plan for the future without sacrificing the present, and enjoy the present without making ourselves oblivious to the future.  Obviously, we cannot control every single aspect of our life.  We are not omnipotent.  But we do have an enormous degree of responsibility for the shape our life takes.  We have many options about how we will respond to events.  We are not passive spectators, but active contestants in the drama of our existence.  We need to take responsibility for the kind of life we create for ourselves.

How do we nurture the soul?  By revering our own life.  By treating it as supremely important.  By reaching for the best within ourselves.  By learning to love it all, not only the joys and the victories, but also the pain and the struggles.


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We are the same people as we were at three, six, ten
or twenty years old.  More noticeably so, perhaps, at
six or seven, because we were not pretending so much then.

Agatha Christie


The Bigger Picture

Sometimes things start to seem overwhelming to me.  Bills, work, students, responsibilities, criticisms from some, pressure from others.  Some days seem like an unending stream of tension and stress, and it's sometimes easy to allow that dynamic to wash over me and make me feel frustration, aggravation, and tension.  Those are the days that threaten to make me do things I normally wouldn't do, say things I normally wouldn't say, or neglect things that I normally wouldn't neglect.

But as I grow older I recognize more and more that I do have a choice as to how I react to all that goes on during such times.  Much of my choice is dependent upon how I see what's going on in my life.  If it's a time of stress, is that stress permanent?  Not usually.  If it's a time of frustration, is that frustration an indication of who I am as a person or what I do?  Generally not, for I go through many more times without frustration than with frustration.  When I look at the bigger picture of my life and the world in general, then I'm able to see that what's happening in the moment generally is a momentary thing, and not something that defines me or the life that I'm living.

Slow down and take the time to really see.  Take a moment to see
what is going on around you right now, right where you are.
You may be missing something wonderful.

J. Michael Thomas

We are on this planet a very short time.  The planet itself and the entire human race will outlive us by an incredible amount.  Somehow, though, we start to take things very, very seriously, as if the things that are going on in our lives are always of the utmost importance, always incredibly drastic in their scope and their effect.  I've been guilty of this perspective many, many times in my life, and it's always made me more miserable than I deserved to be.  I'd get caught up in the stress of a situation and my life would turn frantic and frustrated as I tried to make the stress go away, rather than keeping in mind that this, too, shall pass.

You do not have to sit outside in the dark.  If, however,
you want to look at the stars, you will find that darkness
is necessary.  But the stars neither require nor demand it.

Annie Dillard

One good example is at school.  Some days at school, the students seem to be off the wall--they're hyper and combative and talkative and very difficult to get focused.  I used to find such days to be difficult to get through, as I imagined that it was important that the students be under control at all times.  As time went on, though, I was able to get refocused myself and realize that one difficult day now and then really isn't much when we have 180 days in the school year.  When I spend that much time together with students, it becomes obvious that one day of unstructured class time now and then isn't going to be all that drastic.

When I was in the military, I had a job that covered a very small portion of a bigger picture.  Our work had to do with only a limited area, and we were supposed to focus on that small area and trust that others were taking care of the other areas.  In a way, that's what life is like, too.  When we can realize that our personal spheres of influence are, indeed, limited, then we can much more easily take a step backwards and ask ourselves just how drastic what we're going through really is.  If I have to deal with financial problems for a couple of years, that's not that much if I'm on this planet for more than fifty years.  The problems at work right now may be difficult to go through, but they are going to be resolved one way or another.

Inside yourself or outside, you never have to
change what you see, only the way you see it.

Thaddeus Golas

Having a bigger picture perspective does not mean that everything we do becomes easy, or that nothing is important.  After all, everything's important.  But sometimes we have to realize that what we're losing sleep over really isn't important enough in the long run to lose sleep over, and that things will turn out much better than we think they will.  If I have the basic needs of life fulfilled--food, shelter, clothing, friends--then I have what I need at the core of my being, and everything else is extra.  Only when I can see that fact, believe it, and live by this truth will I be able to lose much of the stress that I feel because I see only the immediate difficulties and not the bigger picture.

More on silence.


One of the most important elements
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If we could only give, just once, the
same amount of reflection to what we
want to get out of life that we give to
the question of what to do with two
weeks' vacation, we would be startled
at our false standards and the
aimless procession of our busy days.

Dorothy Canfield Fisher


Have you ever been with a child who feels different or challenged for one reason or another?  A loving and inspirational word or two can work wonders with a sensitive child.  A gentle touch, a smile, a compliment, a warm look that implies, "Hey, you're okay and you're loved" can make a huge difference.  And it works great with adults, too.
   So how do we learn to be compassionate?  The people who are best at being compassionate toward others have learned to be compassionate with themselves, first.  Someone who talks lovingly to himself or herself excels in speaking loving words to others, and the opposite is true.  If you verbally beat yourself up as a habit, you will tend to be negative toward other people, too.

Lucinda Bassett


I am willing to put myself through anything; temporary pain or discomfort
means nothing to me as long as I can see that the experience will take me
to a new level.  I am interested in the unknown, and the only path to the
unknown is through breaking barriers, an often painful process.

Diana Nyad


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