29 November 2016      

Good day, and welcome to our last issue of our eleventh month!
Time continues to move on and carry us with it, and we hope that
you're able to use your time well, making yourself happy and fulfilled!

Creating and Living Your Ideal Legacy
Steve Brunkhorst

The True Measure of Greatness
Randall S. Weeks

Dealing with Difficult Times
tom walsh

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One without judgment is like a car without brakes, but one without enthusiasm is like a car without a motor.

Judith Lane

A humble person is generally well-liked and respected because he or she does not challenge others.  When the ego is not attacked, not put on guard, it has a hard time gathering strength to attack another.

Shantidasa

Nothing great is created suddenly, any more than a bunch of grapes or a fig.  If you tell me that you desire a fig, I answer you that there must be time.  Let the tree first blossom, then bear fruit, then ripen.

Epictetus

  
Creating and Living Your Ideal Legacy
Steve Brunkhorst

A legacy is more than a gift that lives on after you.  Certainly, a legacy is a contribution to humanity.  A legacy provides value to future generations.  However, if you are creating your ideal legacy, it will also make your heart bubble with passion and excitement today!

Louisa May Alcott wrote:  "When Emerson's library was burning at Concord, I went to him as he stood with the firelight on his strong, sweet face, and endeavored to express my sympathy for the loss of his most valued possessions, but he answered cheerily, 'Never mind, Louisa, see what a beautiful blaze they make! We will enjoy that now.' The lesson was one never forgotten and in the varied lessons that have come to me I have learned to look for something beautiful and bright."

Emerson left future generations with a philosophy of creativity, spiritual development, and individualism.  He saw value and quality in each moment of life.  His writings continue to share the message that people have the mental and spiritual capacities to achieve their dreams.  He lived a philosophy that continues to benefit humanity.

The building blocks of your legacy are the ideas and philosophies that you live and value.  Your contributions will provide something beautiful and bright to cherish during this lifetime.  They will increase your sense of aliveness and fill you with the energy of a unique purpose for which you were born.  They make up the quality of your life now.

How can you begin creating and living your ideal legacy today?

1. Decide What You Value the Most

Write down all the things that you value, and select at least five core values:  those things that provide the foundation for your actions, beliefs, and philosophies.  Examples of values are love, health, spirituality, family, career, adventure, peace, and community.

2. Draw a Time Line of Your Life

Draw a long line and mark it by years and months beginning with your birthday.  Extend it for decades after your life will have ended.  Include all the things you have done and things you want to do.  Include the benefits future generations will experience from your contributions.  Show how your life's work will actually continue after you.  Your timeline is a very eye opening exercise.  Spend adequate time with it and fill in as many details as possible.  Then return from time to time to update your timeline and add extra details.

3. Write a Purpose Statement

Notice the themes running through your timeline.  They can help to reveal your purpose if you are not already aware of it.  A purpose statement is a simple, private statement that guides your daily actions.  For example, you might write, "I help others to live happy and healthy lives" or "I create art that brings spiritual awareness."  Do not confuse a purpose statement with a mission statement, which is a more specific way you might fulfill your purpose.

4. Focus on Today

Your timeline presented a large picture.  What is your focus just for today?  Spend sufficient time focusing on your current steps as well as on the future.  How are your actions in each moment supporting your values and contributing to your purpose?  If you are on purpose, you will feel authentically happy and fulfilled.

5. Move Forward with Gratitude

Live your ideal legacy by taking positive steps each day toward your vision for a better world.  Savor the small treasures in your relationships with people.  Live with gratitude for each contribution you have received and created.  Give thanks even for the setbacks that ultimately reveal clearer paths forward.

Evangelist Billy Graham said, "The legacy we leave is not just in our possessions, but in the quality of our lives."  What legacy does the quality of your life reveal today?  Envision your ideal legacy.  See your role in creating a richer humanity.  The legacy you share and live today can create a better world for future generations.

* * * *

Copyright Steve Brunkhorst.

   

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The True Measure of Greatness
Randall S. Weeks

A young student once asked his old teacher, "Teacher, what is the true measure of greatness?"  The teacher looked far away into the mountains and gave the following reply:

Some measure greatness in height and weight, but great people are never so tall as when they stoop to talk to a child or bend their knees to help a hurting friend.

Some measure greatness in physical strength, but great people are never so strong as when they shoulder the burden of the downtrodden stranger.

Some measure greatness in terms of financial gain, but those who show generosity to their family and friends, they are the ones who are truly rich.

Some measure greatness in applause and accolades, but those who seek opportunity to serve in the quiet places of the world, theirs is the higher reward.

Some measure greatness in commitment to achieving in material ways, but those who spur others on to reach their goals is great indeed.

Great people have vision and do not keep the truth to themselves.

Great people have passion for life and are not ashamed to show it.

Great people expect the best from others and give the best of themselves.

Great people know how to work and how to play, how to laugh and how to cry, how to give and how to receive, how to love and how to be loved.
   

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It is not difficult to see how dependent simplicity is upon solitude.
Enslavement to the opinions of others is the source of a great deal
of duplicity in modern society.  How often we discover our action
to be prompted, not by the divine Center, but by what others
may say or think.  Sadly, we must confess that our experience
is all too frequently characterized by endless attempts
to justify what we do or fail to do.

Richard J. Foster

   

 

Dealing with Difficult Times

It's been a rough year--there's no way around that.  It's been a year full of conflict, war, violence, anger, prejudice, and fear--and due to the predominance of social media and the Internet in general, all of these negative elements of our society have been shared with us in much more intimate ways than ever before.  We've all seen much more of the conflict than we ever would have twenty or thirty years ago.  As we reach the end of this year, I have a sense of hope, but that hope is tempered with the realization that I'm pretty sure that things are going to get worse before they get better.

I don't say that as a pessimist, of course.  I say that as someone who has watched trends carefully throughout my lifetime and who has learned to recognize signs that change is coming--and whether that change is going to be positive or negative.  The election for us in the States, for example, was a horrible experience in divisiveness and anger and fear, but that was only step one in a process that is going to continue with more political turmoil than we've ever experienced in our government.  Anyone who thinks that things are going to go smoothly over the next few months simply hasn't studied history to see just how much conflict is going to occur--and what's going to happen when that conflict boils up and boils over, affecting not just our country, but all the other countries in the world with whom we have diplomatic and business ties.

Again, that's not a pessimistic outlook--it's simply an observation of the situation in which we find ourselves.  We will be isolated in the world, and this time, not by choice (we chose isolationism after World War I, for example).  Our president-elect has already made too many threats and too many promises that will have negative effects on too many people for us to be able to believe that things are going to go smoothly for the next few years.  Yes, he may fulfill those promises, but we have to remember that every action sparks some sort of reaction, and if our actions hurt others, we can expect the reactions to hurt us.

   

Sometimes great difficulties are permitted
only in order to strengthen the character.

Robert Benson

   
So why talk about something that seems so negative on a website that's supposed to be positive?  Because I believe strongly that it's important that we be aware of the possibility of upcoming adversity so that we can consider how we want to deal with it before it gets here.  If we do this, we can be much more effective when it does arrive, and we won't be caught by surprise.  Many people foresaw the real estate crash ten years ago, for example, and weren't nearly as strongly affected by it as those who had no idea that it was going to happen.  The people who got hurt the worse were those who were surprised by it.

We have to ask ourselves what adversity means to us, and how we're going to react to it.  What's going to happen when and if political differences grow so strong that we lose friends?  When our differences grow so strong that we can no longer find any common ground with others whom we love?  When our economic situation grows much more difficult because more money is going to the wealthy and less is going to the people who are working at lower-wage jobs?

How will we deal with that adversity when it gets here?  If we can think about it now, we should be able to work through it much more easily; if we pretend that it isn't going to happen, we're going to be caught off guard and thrown into a very difficult time.
    

The ultimate measure of a person is not where he or she
stands in moments of comfort and convenience, but where
he or she stands at times of challenge and controversy.

Martin Luther King, Jr.

    
My hope, of course, is that I'm wrong.  I hope that the difficult times don't hit us nearly as strongly as they're threatening to.  But I don't see any signs in our current political situation that indicate that our years ahead aren't going to be filled with strife and conflict.

And as a nation full of people who are much more likely to get their "knowledge" from television news and Facebook than from more trusted news outlets, we will not have the advantage of having a well-informed populace which is able to meet our problems with common sense and levity--our last election proved to us that a large number of our citizens are more interested in being angry than in being informed; more interested in feeling righteous indignation than in feeling satisfaction for having informed themselves clearly and fully about any given situation.  (And I won't even go into the state of a public education system that has created a populace of former students who have been taught only the most basic of critical thinking skills, and how that affects our country as a whole.)

This means, of course, that one of the most daunting tasks facing us is the task of educating our people so that we're able to choose what truly are the best options and to effect change when change is called for.  We need to help ourselves to see just what needs to be done to positively affect the people of our country without worrying about race or creed or ethnicity or skin color or sexual orientation.  We need to learn to differentiate between the things that truly are worth making laws about and things that really are personal issues that shouldn't be regulated by law.
   

We become wiser in adversity; prosperity destroys
our appreciation of the right.

Seneca

   
I truly believe that we have trying times ahead of us, mostly due to the deep divisions that we feel between ourselves and the people who disagree with us, especially politically and religiously.  We have tough times ahead of us because we seem to have forgotten what it means to cooperate with one another instead of competing with each other; what it means to compromise instead of trying to force others to do things exactly as we want them to.  We're going to have many people in power who will represent only a small portion of our populace, and we can expect them to push policies that will benefit a small minority rather than a great number of people.  And because of this dynamic, it looks like we're going to see more conflict instead of less; more frustration and feelings of disenfranchisement; more feelings of helplessness and fear of loss.

It will be up to us to encourage those who are losing hope, to help those who are suffering through hardship, to show love to those who are feeling disenfranchised and helpless.  We have hard times coming, and it's up to us to ride them out in positive, loving ways.

   
More on adversity.

   

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Only an open mind still has room for new knowledge.  What is outgrown and used up must be discarded to make room for what is yet to be learned.  And much of the best thinking is done alone--in deserts, on beaches, in bed, behind closed doors.  It is why we say we need to get away--to escape from clutter and busyness--to hear ourselves think.

Robert Fulghum

  
Over the years I've collected lists of survival traits.  When I give lectures I sometimes read one of my lists and ask people to guess what spiritual or self-help group teaches this particular set of maxims:

Tell the truth.

Do your best no matter how trivial the task.

Choose the difficult right over the easy wrong.

Look out for the group before you look out for yourself.

Don't whine or make excuses.

Judge others by their actions and not by their race or other characteristics.

Audiences make all kinds of interesting guesses about which self-help group produced such a wonderful list, but I've only had one person come up with the right answer.  "The United States Marines," a man called out one night.  He wasn't guessing; he was an ex-Marine, and he remembered what his instructors had taught him about survival behavior.


Bernie Siegel
   
  

We must alter our lives in order to alter our hearts,
for it is impossible to live one way and pray another.

William Law

    

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