20 September  2016      

Hello, and welcome to the newest day--and newest week--of our lives!
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 The Surrendered Life (an excerpt)
Marianne Williamson

I Don't Believe in Defeat
Norman Vincent Peale

Strategies for Re-Focusing Your Thoughts
tom walsh

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The longer you live the more you realize that
forgiveness, consideration, and kindness
are three of the great secrets of life.


The best index to people's character is (a) how they treat people who can't do him or her any good, and (b) how they treat people who can't fight back.

Abigail Van Buren

Sometimes things which at the moment may be perceived as obstacles--and actually be obstacles, difficulties, or drawbacks--can in the long run result in some good end which would not have occurred if it had not been for the obstacle.

Steve Allen

Before you begin a thing, remind yourself that difficulties and delays quite impossible to foresee are ahead. . . .  You can only see one thing clearly and that is your goal.  Form a mental vision of that and cling to it through thick and thin.

Kathleen Norris

The Surrendered Life (an excerpt)
Marianne Williamson

To relax, to feel the love in your heart and keep to that as your focus in every situation--that's the meaning of spiritual surrender.  It changes us.  We become deeper, more attractive people.

In Zen Buddhism, there's a concept called "zen mind," or "beginner's mind."  They say that the mind should be like an empty rice bowl.  If it's already full, then the universe can't fill it.  If it's empty, it has room to receive.  This means that when we think we have things already figured out, we're not teachable.  Genuine insight can't dawn on a mind that's not open to receive it.  Surrender is a process of emptying the mind.

In the Christic tradition, this is the meaning of "becoming as a little child."  Little children don't think they know what things mean.  In fact, they know they don't know.  They ask someone older and wiser to explain things to them.  We're like children who don't know, but think we do.

The wise person doesn't pretend to know what it's impossible to know.  "I don't know" can be an empowering statement.  When we go into a situation not knowing, there is something inside us which does.  With our conscious mind, we step back in order that a higher power within us can step forward and lead the way.

We need less posturing and more genuine charisma.  Charisma was originally a religious term, meaning "of the spirit," or "inspired."  It's about letting God's light shine through us.

It's about a sparkle in people that money can't buy.  It's an invisible energy with visible effects.  To let go, to just love, is not to fade into the wallpaper.  Quite the contrary, it's when we truly become bright.  We're letting our own light shine.

We are meant to be this way.  We are meant to shine.  Look at small children.  They're all so unique before they start trying to be, because they demonstrate the power of genuine humility.  This is also the explanation of "beginner's luck."  When we go into a situation not knowing the rules, we don't pretend to know how to figure anything out, and we don't know yet what there is to be afraid of.  This releases the mind to create from its own higher power.  Situations shift gear and lights go on simply because our minds have opened up to receive love.  We have gotten out of our own way.

Love is a win-mode, a successful and attractive vibration.  We think that success is difficult, and so, for us it is.  Success in life doesn't have to involve negative tension.  We don't have to be struggling all the time.  If you think about it, "taking the bull by the horns" would be a very dangerous thing to do.  In fact, ambitious tension actually limits our ability to succeed because it keeps us in a state of contraction, emotionally and physically.  It seems to give us energy but doesn't really, like the white sugar of mental health; there's a short high, followed by a crash.  The cultivation of mental rest, or surrender, is like eating healthy food.  It doesn't give us an immediate rush, but over time it provides a lot more energy.

This doesn't require sitting in a lotus position all day.  We still get excited, but more gently.  Many people associate a spiritual life with a grade B movie, but God doesn't get rid of all the drama in our lives.  He just gets rid of the cheap drama.  There is no higher drama than true personal growth.  Nothing could be more genuinely dramatic than boys becoming real men and girls becoming real women.

Something amazing happens when we surrender and just love.  We melt into another world, a realm of power already within us.  The world changes when we change.  The world softens when we soften.  The world loves us when we choose to love the world.

Surrender means the decision to stop fighting the world, and to start loving it instead.  It is a gentle liberation from pain.  But liberation isn't about breaking out of anything; it's a gentle melting into who we really are.  We let down our armor, and discover the strength of our selves.  A Course in Miracles tells us that although we think that without the ego, all would be chaos, the opposite is true.  Without the ego, all would be love.

We are simply asked to shift focus and to take on a more gentle perception.  That's all God needs.  Just one sincere surrendered moment, when love matters more than anything, and we know that nothing else really matters at all.  What he gives us in return for our openness to him, is an outpouring of his power from deep within us.  We are given his power to share with the world, to heal all wounds, to awaken all hearts.

In A Return to Love, Marianne Williamson's bestselling spiritual guide, Williamson shares her reflections on A Course in Miracles and her insights on the application of love in the search for inner peace.  Williamson reveals how we each can become a miracle worker by accepting God and by the expression of love in our daily lives.  Whether our psychic pain is in the area of relationships, career, or health, she shows us how love is a potent force, the key to inner peace, and how by practicing love we can make our own lives more fulfilling while creating a more peaceful and loving world for our children.


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I Don't Believe in Defeat
Norman Vincent Peale

There is no difficulty you cannot overcome.  A wise and philosophical man once said to me, when asked how he overcame his difficulties, "How do I get through a trouble?  Well, first I try to go around it, and if I can't go around it, I try to get under it, and if I can't get under it, I try to go over it, and if I can't get over it, I just plow right through it."  Then he added, "God and I plow right through it."

An effective method for making your mind positive in character is to eliminate certain expressions of thought and speech which we may call the "little negatives."  These negatives clutter up the average person's conversation, and while each one is seemingly unimportant in itself, the total effect is to condition the mind negatively.  When this thought of "little negatives" first occurred to me, I began to analyze my own conversational habits and was shocked by what I found.  I was making such statements as, "I'm afraid I'll be late," or "I wonder if I'll have a flat tire," or "I don't think I can do that."

These are "little negatives" to be sure, and a big thought is of course more powerful than a little one.  But it must never be forgotten that "mighty oaks from little acorns grow," and if many "little negatives" clutter up your conversation, they are bound to seep into your mind.  It is surprising how they accumulate in force, and before you know it, they will grow into "big negatives."  So I determined to root those "little negatives" out of my conversation.  I found that the best way to eliminate them was deliberately to say a positive word about everything.  When you keep asserting that things are going to work out well, good results do occur.

On a roadside billboard I saw an advertisement of a certain brand of motor oil.  The slogan read, "A clean engine always delivers power."  So will a mind free of negatives.  Therefore flush out your thoughts, give yourself a clean mental engine, remembering that a clean mind, even as a clean engine, always delivers power.

So to overcome your obstacles and live the "I don't believe in defeat" philosophy, cultivate a positive-idea pattern.  What we do with obstacles is directly determined by our mental attitude.  Most of our obstacles are mental in character.

"Ah," you may object, "mine are not mental, mine are real."

Perhaps so, but your attitude toward them is mental.  What you think about your obstacles largely determines what you do about them.  Form the mental attitude that you cannot remove an obstacle and you will not remove it.  But when your mind becomes convinced that you can do something about difficulties, astonishing results will begin to happen.  All of a sudden you discover that you have the power you would never acknowledge.

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I shall open my eyes and ears. Once every day I shall simply stare
at a tree, a flower, a cloud, or a person.  I shall not then be
concerned at all to ask what they are but simply be glad that they
are.  I shall joyfully allow them their "divine, magical, and
ecstatic" existence.

Clyde S. Kilby



Strategies for Re-Focusing Your Thoughts

Last week I wrote the line "
I may need to read a special book or poem that helps me to re-focus my mind and my thoughts so that I can approach the day in a more positive way," and as soon as I wrote it I wanted to explore the idea more deeply.  The idea of re-focusing has always been very important to me, for I very often find myself thinking things that really aren't justified--negative thoughts about myself or others, thoughts that tend to bring me down.  And the more I think such thoughts, the stronger they become; and the stronger they become, the more I focus on them and the more they bring me down.

I always like to have positive material surrounding me wherever I am.  I like to be able to access positive quotations and stories and poems and songs whenever I find myself focusing on something negative, for these are just the types of thoughts that remind me of the good things in life and help me to start focusing on those good things rather than on the negative things that my mind has picked up.  In fact, this is the main reason for which I started this website to begin with--I wanted to provide a resource with just such thoughts for anyone who might be facing the same problem--thinking negative thoughts and needing to re-focus their minds on legitimately positive ideas and ideals.


Drag your thoughts away from your troubles--by
the ear, by the heels, or any other way you can
manage it.  It's the healthiest thing a body can do.

Mark Twain

When I'm able to re-focus my thoughts, my feelings follow suit--not immediately, usually, but quickly enough.  It's really quite remarkable just how closely tied our thoughts are to our emotions and feelings--when one gets negative, the others seem to follow suit very quickly.  And that makes sense, for they're the main parts of who we are as non-physical human beings, aren't they?  We can see all of the physical parts of our bodies, of course, but our minds and our emotions aren't visible to us, even thought they're such dominant aspects of who we are.

When we acknowledge this tie-in between our thoughts and our feelings and emotions (I refer to them separately because I feel sure that they're separate aspects of ourselves), then we can start to recognize the patterns of cause and effect that they follow.  In my experience, it's usually my thoughts that determine my feelings and emotions, though I definitely experience times when the opposite is true.  I know, though, that the vast majority of the time the thoughts are the cause, and that's important to know because it makes me realize that if I change those thoughts, the associated feelings also can and will change, except in extraordinary circumstances.

If I'm feeling lonely, for example, that loneliness can make me feel very negative.  It's easy to dwell on the fact that no one is with me, and to start to wish that I had some company, that someone would care enough to be with me, that I didn't have to spend time alone.  I can start thinking of reasons that others aren't with me right now--because they're not interested in being with me, because they don't like being with me, whatever.  My mind can go to all sorts of places that make little sense, and I can't always control where it goes.

When I re-focus, though, there are several directions I can take.  First of all, if I read something about the positive effects of solitude--one of the most important elements of our lives--I can start to see my current situation as very positive.  The fact that no one's around means that I can do some things that are important to me, such as reflection, meditation, or exercise.  I can also take my mind off of the solitude completely, and choose to read a good novel or watch a good movie that will be uplifting and positive.  My choice there would be to take advantage of the time available to me to do something I may not have time for later.  I can also take advantage of the situation to address one of my greatest fears--I can reach out to someone else and ask them to get together.  This has been one of my greatest fears my entire life long, something that I'm not able to do without feeling a great deal of nervousness and stress.

The quality of your life depends upon the quality of your thoughts. . .
take care that you entertain no notions unsuitable
to virtue and reasonable nature.

Marcus Aurelius

If I'm angry at someone, I tend to focus on just those behaviors or incidents that have made me angry, and my thoughts come up with information from the past that support my anger.  Someone might have said something extremely hurtful to me, and as long as I stay focused on that incident, it's only going to get worse in my mind.  In these situations, it's nice to force myself to remember something positive about the person--a good time that I've spent with him or her, or something he or she has done that was kind and considerate.  Very often I find that the positive things so far outweigh the negative that it's simply ridiculous for me to keep hanging on to the negative thoughts--for then I'm the problem, not the incident or the other person.

I also find that work or studying is a good alternative to negative thoughts about someone else or even to feelings of depression or sadness or loneliness.  When I'm able to immerse myself in a subject, be it a novel or something from work or a paper that I have to write, the act of focusing on something productive keeps my mind from coming up with new things to feel bad about.  I don't want to work every waking hour, of course, but sometimes it's nice to be able to use something that's important in a different context to help me out in another situation.

Nothing erases unpleasant thoughts more effectively
than conscious concentration on pleasant ones.

Hans Selye

It's easy for us to think that thoughts just "happen," but the truth is that we do choose them often, or we choose to allow them to stick around and make us feel worse.  Sometimes, sadly, we even revel in negative thoughts because we want to feel a sense of righteous indignation--it makes us feel somehow good to feel so bad, because it's someone else's fault.  And we like blaming other people sometimes.  And because we choose so many of our thoughts and choose to keep them active, we also have the option of choosing to banish them by re-focusing our thoughts on things that are much more positive and uplifting.

It does take effort, and it even takes practice.  It isn't something that's super-simple.  But it is possible for all of us.  If we've grown up in environments in which people hung on to negative thoughts all the time, it will be more difficult for us and it will take more work--but it's still possible.  And if we do make the effort and find the ways that work for us, we'll find that our lives become much more pleasant day after day.

More on thoughts.


One of the most important elements
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There is one thing we
can do, and the happiest
people are those who do
it to the limit of their
ability.  We can be completely
present.  We can be all here.
We can give all our attention
to the opportunity before us.

Mark van Doren

If we think of this existence of the individual as a larger or smaller room, it appears evident that most people learn to know only a corner of their room, a place by the window, a strip of floor on which they walk up and down.  Thus they have a certain security.  And yet that dangerous insecurity is so much more human which drives the prisoners in Poe's stories to feel out the shapes of their horrible dungeons and not be strangers to the unspeakable terror of their abode.

We, however, are not prisoners.  No traps or snares are set about us, and there is nothing which should intimidate or worry us.  We are set down in life as in the element to which we best correspond, and over and above this we have through thousands of years of accommodation become so like this life, that when we hold still we are, through a happy mimicry, scarcely to be distinguished from all that surrounds us.

We have no reason to mistrust our world, for it is not against us.  Has it terrors, they are our terrors; has it abysses, those abysses belong to us; are dangers at hand, we must try to love them.  And if only we arrange our life according to that principle which counsels us that we must always hold to the difficult, then that which now still seems to us the most alien will become what we most trust and find most faithful.

How should we be able to forget those ancient myths that are at the beginning of all peoples, the myths about dragons that at the last moment turn into princesses; perhaps all the dragons of our lives are princesses who are only waiting to see us once beautiful and brave.  Perhaps everything terrible is in its deepest being something helpless that wants help from us.

So you must not be frightened, Dear Mr. Kappus, if a sadness rises up before you larger than any you have ever seen; if a restiveness, like light and cloud-shadows, passes over your hands and over all you do.  You must think that something is happening with you, that life has not forgotten you, that it holds you in its hand; it will not let you fall.

Rainer Maria Rilke
from Letters to a Young Poet

Face your deficiencies and acknowledge them; but do not let them master you.
Let them teach you patience, sweetness, insight.  When we do the best we can,
we never know what miracle is wrought in our life, or in the life of another.

Helen Keller


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