1 March  2016      

Welcome to today, and thank you for dropping by.  Another week and month have
slipped into the past, and we keep on keeping on, all of us doing our best to do
the best we can, for ourselves and for the other people in our lives.  We hope
that you're able to do a lot of good in this new week of yours!

 Does This Choice Empower Me. . .
Debbie Ford

 Spirit to Spirit:  Greeting the Spirit
David Thomas

Strategies for Developing Realistic Beliefs
tom walsh

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To think is easy.  To act is difficult.
To act as one thinks is the most difficult.


Johann Wolfgang von Goethe

Every adult needs a child to teach;
it's the way adults learn.

Frank A. Clark

Those who are lifting the world upward
and onward are those who
encourage more than criticize.

Elizabeth Harrison

When we plant a seed, we don't
keep digging up the soil
to see if it's growing.

Susan Santucci

  

Does This Choice Empower Me
or Does It Disempower Me?

Debbie Ford

What does it mean to be empowered?  To empower means to give or add power, to propel.  When you're empowered you feel strong, alive, and clear, with a vibrant energy that runs through your body.  When you make choices that empower you, you are thrust into the present moment.  You experience a deep inner knowing that you are exactly what you need to be.  When you feel empowered, you have access to higher levels of consciousness.  Because you are choosing to move forward in a powerful way, your mind is quiet and void of its usual negative chatter.  People who are empowered stand up for themselves and invite others to do the same.  They are in a state of being where pure love--love of life, love of self, and love of others--abounds.  They provide hope to those who shrink in the presence of everyday life.  People who feel empowered are natural leaders who inspire those around them.  This Right Question--"Does this choice empower me or does it disempower me?"--will give you the ability to access the state of empowerment any time you want it.

Sitting on my desk is a sign that reads, ARE YOU OVER YOUR SKIS?  I keep it there as a reminder of what empowerment feels like.  Being empowered means feeling the exhilaration of moving effortlessly down a mountain.  It is a state of being in balance with the laws of nature, where you are giving all that you have--not holding on, not looking back, but staying keenly focused on where you want to go.  

For those of you who aren't skiers, one thing you quickly learn when you start skiing is that if your weight is not over your skis you will be thrown off balance.  New skiers typically try to lean back--into the hill--thinking that this is where they will find safety.  But if you try to go down the mountain leaning into the hill you are actually much more likely to take a spill and land on your rear.

To stay on your feet and have a smooth ride you must go against your natural instincts to hold on.  In the forward position you will actually find solid ground--a safe, fluid movement that will allow you to flow down the hill with great ease and joy.  This is exactly what empowerment feels like.  When you are moving full speed in the direction of your desires, taking action, letting go, and being in perfect alignment with the universe, you are empowering yourself and your life.

Asking this Right Question will quickly move you out of the past and into the present moment, because you can actually feel the experience of empowerment inside your body.  You know that your choices empower you when they leave you feeling strong and secure inside.  You know you have made a disempowering choice when you feel insecure, inadequate, and resigned. . . .

You are either empowering or disempowering yourself in your daily behaviors.  Before you start to eat something, you can ask yourself, "Will eating this food empower me or disempower me?"  Of course, you need to make sure you have your goals and dreams firmly in your awareness as you do this.  Buying a new outfit may seem like an empowering choice in the moment, but if your goal is to save money you would need to ask yourself, "Given my commitment to save money, would buying this outfit empower me?"  Or if your goal is to have a more loving, supporting relationship with your spouse and he or she has asked you to curb your spending habits, you would want to ask yourself, "Given my commitment to having a better relationship with my spouse, would buying this outfit empower me or disempower me?"  You can ask yourself this question if you are thinking about not telling a friend what you're upset about or missing your son's school picnic.  If you find yourself tempted to run just one more errand on your way home, knowing that doing so will make you late for dinner, you can ask, "Is this an empowering choice?"

This question challenges you once again to make your actions conscious.  Before making any choice, ask yourself this Right Question and look deeply within for the answer.  You will often find that just by checking in with yourself and asking, "Does this choice leave me feeling weak or strong?" you will be able to see whether the action you are about to take will empower you or disempower you.  At every moment we are making choices that empower us or we are making choices that do just the opposite.  Empowerment is free; it costs nothing.  It's a choice that only you can make.
   

The realities of the life we live today are a result of the choices we made yesterday, three months ago and three years ago. But we don't wind up $50,000 dollars in debt because of one extravagant purchase. Nor do we put on 30 unwanted pounds as a result of a couple of decadent meals. We are where we are because of repeated unconscious choices made day after day. Ford cuts right through our denial with the 10 questions that immediately reveal the true motivations behind our thoughts and actions. But more than that, by rigorously and honestly asking and answering these 10 vital questions, we regain control and have the power necessary to create the life we always wanted.

   

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Spirit to Spirit
David Thomas

Greeting the Spirit

I once read a passage that spoke of "greeting the spirit within" someone else, a concept that at the time was fascinating to me, but which has become pretty normal for me these days (though still quite fascinating!).  The author was talking about looking at other people not as just human beings, but also as the spirits that are "inhabiting" (for lack of a better word) the human bodies that we're seeing.

Think about that for a moment.  Yes, you're seeing the blonde woman who's about five feet six and who's wearing the green top and black pants, and that's all that we tend to think is standing in front of us.  If she's attractive to us, we may treat her a bit better than we would someone who looks unpleasant to us; if she's rude to us we may judge her and think negative things about her.  Most of our reactions to different situations and actions are pretty much programmed into us, and they're mostly based on what we see and hear and feel.

But what about that which we can't see?  What about the spirit behind this woman, the eternal element that is a part of her?  Can we acknowledge that she does have an eternal spirit, and treat her thusly?  If I acknowledge her spirit and even greet it, I not limiting myself to greeting the person who speaks in a certain way and acts in certain ways--I'm expanding my own consciousness and awareness to include her spirit in my field of vision.  And while I may not be able to see the actual spirit itself (does it glow?  does it have a shape?), I can see the person I'm regarding as much, much more than my sense allow me to see, hear, feel, or smell.

And so what? you may ask, and that's a very good question.  I do have an answer for you.  The reality is that when we can expand our awareness to include another person's true being, that spirit that is in that person, we also expand our own lives and make them something much fuller and richer.  It's as if we've been living our lives in one room for years, and suddenly we find that there's a door in the wall and we discover five other rooms that we can now make a part of our lives.  Because we've expanded our knowledge of what lies behind the door in the wall, our lives now are filled with more potential and more possibility.  Nothing has changed--the rooms always were there--except our perception and our knowledge, but our world is now different.

That man standing in line before you at the supermarket?  He's a spirit, and he has taken form in this particular body and he's living out a life along with us on this particular planet.  And that little girl with him is also a spirit, just starting out on this human experience that we're all having.  When you smile at him or her, are you touching the spirit, or just the person?  Are we relating to just the perceived identity that each person has, or is there a deeper connection that many of us are afraid of having?

Which is a question that leads to another one that's fascinating to consider:  why are so many of us afraid of making deeper connections with other people, if we are truly eternal spirits?  Fear shouldn't be a part of who we are, and the fact that so many of us are afraid would be a good argument against the entire idea that we are spirits, don't you think?  It just doesn't make sense that eternal spirits could be afraid of other spirits.

My own idea is that one of the most important lessons we have to deal with as human beings is that of coming to grip with our fears and not allowing them to control us any longer.  As humans, we have fears--they're a part of who we are, and one of the limitations put upon us once we take human form.  If we recognize our spirituality, though, then we have a very good chance to deal with those fears in very positive ways.  And if we are able to greet the spirit in other people, we'll be looking at them much more deeply than we would be otherwise, and we'll have taken a very important step towards acknowledging and celebrating our own spirituality.
   

   

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There's a difference between interest and commitment. When
you're interested in doing something, you do it only
when circumstance permit.  When you're committed
to something, you accept no excuses, only results.

unattributed

   

 

Strategies for Developing Realistic Beliefs

I almost used the word "positive" in the title instead of the word "realistic," but somehow that just didn't work.  I don't know that all of our beliefs can be positive in nature, for don't we have to develop beliefs about some of the horrible things that we see going on in our world?  Isn't it just as important to have beliefs about people who seem to do all they can to be evil?  We may believe that the shooter who just killed five people is hurting inside and needs love and sympathy, but that belief in and of itself won't do us any good when we try to deal with that shooter effectively.

Personally, I do believe that people who do things like that are hurting inside.  I believe that some of the angriest and harmful people on the planet are responding to their fears and the things that they've been missing in their lives, such as love and compassion and nurturing.  But I also believe that they've crossed a line with their actions that makes it impossible for us to treat them as hurting individuals and important for us to treat them as dangerous individuals.  That said, I also believe that we should develop systems that would allow us to treat them as dangerous in an effort to bring them back to simply hurting, and then we could deal with them in different ways.

But what is a belief?  We seem to have several different types of beliefs in our minds.  Is my belief that God exists the same as my belief that our political system is in serious trouble?  After all, one belief is based on an awful lot of evidence while the other comes down to a simple question of faith.  If I meet someone and I feel uncomfortable, is it my belief that the person is unpleasant, or is that merely an impression?

Do I believe that I'm lacking as a person and somehow unfit for certain things, or is that a feeling that I've nurtured from childhood?  Is it your belief that things will always go wrong in your life, or is that your fear that you're legitimizing by calling it a belief?

   

Be sure to choose what you believe and why you
believe it, because if you dont choose your beliefs,
you may be certain that some belief, and probably
not a very credible one, will choose you.

Robertson Davies

   
Here's my idea of what a belief truly is:  Despite seeing much evidence to the contrary, I firmly believe that all people are good at heart and at the core of their being, they long for love and hope and peace.  You see, the evidence that I see doesn't contradict that belief--rather, it points to other things that are going on that tend to make people act in ways that are different from who they are at heart.  The violent, rage-filled man who has been taught from an early age that he's worthless and who fears people because they can make him feel even worse is violent not at the core of his being, but because he has rejected that core because of his fear.  The woman who makes rude comments in order to cut down other people has power issues because of lessons that she's been taught her whole life long about the importance of establishing control and power over others by attempting to diminish them.  But do those lessons change who she is at the core of her being, or do they provide a surface identity that hides the vulnerability that she doesn't want to admit she has?

So then how do we develop our beliefs so that they're useful and helpful for us?  This is an especially important question to ask ourselves if our current beliefs are harming us--for example, if we believe that we're not good enough for certain things, or if we believe that we'll always have financial difficulties, guess what?  Those beliefs will do a great deal towards making themselves true, for we will act in ways that will perpetuate them.

In my case, the most important thing that I've done is take to heart the concept that all people are created equal in the eyes of God.  If I didn't truly believe this, then it would be very difficult for me to develop other beliefs that are helpful.  What sets us apart from each other generally isn't intelligence or ability, but decisions that we've made.

For example, I made the decision long ago to be a teacher.  Because of that decision, I set upon a course in life that wouldn't bring me lots of money and that would bring me no fame.  I'm fine with that.  But when I look at my bank account and compare it with someone else's account, there's always the possibility that this can cause me to believe that I'm somehow less successful or less worthy than that other person.  I'm not.  I simply have less money.  My belief that all of us are equal in the eyes of God is probably the most important element of my life in many, many ways.
    

The biggest addiction, and one we least often talk about,
is being addicted to beliefs.  We really get hooked into
thinking what we believe is true and right.

Martha Boesing

    
From that point, many of my beliefs have come from observing the world and trying to learn from it.  I've said some things in my life that have hurt other people, and from those experiences I've developed the belief that words truly can harm others--and that it's my responsibility not to harm others with my words.  Therefore, I'm very careful about what I say around others.  I grew up in a family in which the insult was considered a joke, and we live in a society in which our television "comedies" push the same idea--and I believe that such an approach is very harmful to our society.  These beliefs come directly from my personal observations of other people getting hurt.

Some people say, though, that people are just too thin-skinned, and they shouldn't get hurt just because someone's joking with them.  This is a belief that I choose never to adopt--a belief of how another person should act in certain circumstances.  I do not share a history with anyone, so it's impossible for me to know why they do what they do, or don't do what they don't do.  It's not for me to judge them based on my view of the world (also a belief, no?).

If we become close observers of the world, developing realistic beliefs becomes much, much easier.  When we see things more, we see them more clearly and we understand them more deeply.  Thus, beliefs are much more likely to be accurate reflections of our world.

But what about belief in God?  We can't observe God, but we can observe other people who believe in God and those who don't, and see if there are any differences.  One of the reasons that I do believe in God is the rich history of caring and compassionate human beings who have allowed their faith in God to shape their lives and turn them into kind, caring, compassionate people.  On the other hand, I choose not to believe in God the King, but in God the father.  I don't believe in God the punisher who kills my enemies for me, but in God the loving and compassionate presence in our lives who helps us to make our ways through things--not who does things for us when we beg him to do so through prayer.
   

We are incredibly heedless in the formation of our beliefs,
but find ourselves with an illicit passion for them when
anyone proposes to rob us of their companionship.
It is obviously not the ideas themselves that are dear
to us, but our self-esteem that is threatened.

James Harvey

   
Developing realistic beliefs, then, is a process of decision-making and awareness.  For the most part, if we want our beliefs to be realistic and helpful to us in our lives, we really must base our beliefs on evidence.  On the other hand, there are many beliefs that should be faith-based, and one of the most important things that we can do is make sure that we don't allow the beliefs that should be based on evidence to be based instead on faith.  If I believe that a person is trustworthy but I have seen significant evidence that says that he or she actually isn't, then I have a problem.  Likewise, if I refuse to believe something without evidence and that something demands faith, then there's a good chance that I'm not going to believe something that I really should believe.

If my beliefs are realistic and not cynical, there's a very good chance that they'll help me to live a full and happy life, for as my beliefs are, so is my life.  The beliefs that we live by help to shape the lives that we lead.  It's important that we be able to identify our beliefs and decide whether they're helping us or hurting us, and then to make the decisions necessary to change them for the better.

   
More on beliefs.

   

One of the most important elements
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It has been well said that no person ever sank under the burden of the day.  It is when tomorrow's burden is added to the burdens of today that the weight is more than a person can bear.  Never load yourselves so, my friends.  If you find yourself so loaded, at least remember this:  it is your own doing, not God's.  He begs you to leave the
future to Him, and mind the present.

George MacDonald

  

I Am
Ella Wheeler Wilcox

I know not whence I came,
   I know not whither I go;
But the fact stands clear that I am here
   In this world of pleasure and woe.
And out of the mist and murk
   Another truth shines plain--
It is my power each day and hour
   To add to its joy or its pain.

I know that the earth exists,
   It is none of my business why;
I cannot find out what its all about,
   I would but waste time to try.
My life is a brief, brief thing,
   I am here for a little space,
And while I stay I would like, if I may,
   To brighten and better the place.

The trouble, I think, with us all
   Is the lack of a high conceit.
If each man thought he was sent to this spot
   To make it a bit more sweet,
How soon we could gladden the world,
   How easily right all wrong,
If nobody shirked, and each one worked
   To help his fellows along!

Cease wondering why you came -
   Stop looking for faults and flaws;
Rise up to-day in your pride and say,
   I am part of the First Great Cause!
However full the world,
   There is room for an earnest man.
It had need of me, or I would not be--
   I am here to strengthen the plan.

Letting go doesn't mean we don't care.  Letting go doesn't mean we shut down.  Letting go means we stop trying to force outcomes and make people behave.  It means we give up resistance to the way things are, for the moment.  It means we stop trying to do the impossible--controlling that which we cannot--and instead, focus on what is possible--which usually means taking care of ourselves.  And we do this in gentleness, kindness, and love, as much as possible.

Melody Beattie

   
  

The young are looking for living models whom they
can imitate and who are capable of rousing their
enthusiasm and drawing them to a deeper kind of life.
More than anything else, the young need sure
guides to go with them on the paths
of liberation that God maps out for them.

Bakole wa Ilunga

    

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