5 April  2016      

Hello, and welcome to our first issue of April!  This is the month when spring
comes out in full force here in the northern part of the planet, so those of you
who are experiencing spring's amazing changes, please enjoy!  For those of you
moving deeper into autumn, please enjoy that--and those who are in always-
temperate climates, please make this an April to remember!

 The Secret of Effortless Happiness
Guy Finley

 Make Today Count
Orville Kelly

Strategies for Learning to Let Go
tom walsh

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Inspiration and motivation are exactly like nutrition.  You have to keep on taking it daily, in healthy doses.  Otherwise depletion, fatigue, depression and lack of ambition and achievement will very soon manifest themselves.

Jan S. Marais

Never react emotionally to criticism to the extent of allowing it to affect sound judgment.  Analyze yourself to determine whether it is justified.  If it is, correct yourself.  Otherwise, go on about your business.

Norman Vincent Peale

Every person is a damn fool for at least five minutes every day; wisdom consists in not exceeding the limit.

Elbert Hubbard

  
The Secret of Effortless Happiness
Guy Finley
(Excerpted from The Secret of Letting Go)

Have you ever noticed just how unhappy you can get over the fact you are not happy? Unexamined, this behavior seems to make sense. But a closer look at it will reveal that being unhappy over being unhappy is like throwing gasoline on a fire to put it out. You get lots of fire and smoke -- even a strange excitement -- but in the end all you are left with is ashes. This is why you must understand this next amazing fact.

You can make yourself miserable but you can't make yourself happy.

This shouldn't be too much of a surprise as we begin to learn that we have been unconscious conspirators in our own unhappy lives. Even if it wasn't being pointed out, most of us can admit that at times we do make ourselves miserable.  But there is nothing good about feeling bad.  There is never a justification for tolerating self-misery because what is self-induced can be self-reduced and ultimately eliminated if you are willing to understand the underlying causes. This is why we must look at why it is impossible to make ourselves happy if we ever want to come upon authentic happiness.

Outside of drugs and alcohol, which are obviously not the way to happiness, whenever you want to make yourself happy, you must put forth an effort of some kind. Effort implies the application of force in a specific direction. We can see that this is good and necessary in following preconceived plans for construction projects, business concerns or cooking, for example.

You can also make an effort to imagine or visualize new shapes and ideas to help in the creative process. But when it comes to being happy, any effort is the wrong one. Let's see if this is true. If it is, then we are on the verge of an even higher discovery:  Real happiness is effortless. Let's find out more about this new possibility.

As we described, where there is an effort, there is, whether known or not, always a plan. All plans by definition are to build something; in this instance your plans are to build happiness. With this preconceived plan, this picture of happiness firmly fixed in your mind, you meet each of life's events looking for your picture instead of experiencing what life has brought to you. This painful and stress-producing process of comparison goes on unknowingly and it ruins everything it touches.  Life becomes a series of disappointments instead of a series of happy adventures. Please ponder this next point. You could never be unhappy with anything you found in this life if you didn't already have it fixed in your mind what you were looking for.

Hopefully, we can learn from this that our ideas about happiness are more often than not the very root of our unhappiness. The point here is that happiness cannot be made. It is not the result of anything.  Happiness comes to those who understand that you can't seek it any more than you seek the air you breathe. It is a part of life to be found within living. The excitement of anticipation is not happiness, any more than smelling freshly-baked bread nourishes a hungry body. All pursuit of happiness is based upon the false assumption that happiness can be possessed. It cannot. Happiness is the natural expression of a stress-free life, just as sunlight naturally warms the earth after dark clouds disappear.
   
   

Guy Finley is Founder and
Director of the Life of
Learning Foundation, devoted
to helping people realize their
True Relationship with Life.
Guy is the author of over
30 books and audio albums
that have sold over a million
copies in 15 languages
worldwide, and is on the
faculty of the Omega Institute,
the nation's largest and
most trusted holistic
education provider.

   

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Make Today Count
Orville Kelly

Note:  This is just part of an article written by Orville Kelly, explaining how he founded the "Make Today Count" organization after he was diagnosed with terminal cancer.

During the period when I was severely depressed, I was being treated efficiently and with kindness and sympathy by the physicians who had pronounced the death sentence.  Ministers discussed life after death.  But no one seemed to mention living for today!

I'll have to admit that though I may be helping others through Make Today Count, I am also helping myself.  I have stopped measuring time in months and years.  Seconds are the framework in which I operate.  The trace of a smile on my wife's face, the laughter of my children, a flash of sunlight.  They are of the moment, and of a lifetime.

Of course my wife and I dreamed of growing old together, but we have learned that life is fragile and unpredictable for everyone.  Of course I didn't want to have cancer, but I didn't have any choice.  So I say to myself, "What do I have to lose by trying to be happy?"

Some people have achieved immortality through their art or through acts of heroism or nobility.  Since I am neither especially talented nor heroic, facing death has been especially difficult.  The fear and uncertainty that confronted me when I learned I had terminal cancer were worse than the idea of death itself.  Looking back to those first days of shock, I know now that my family and I grieved about a death that had not yet occurred.  But by discussing death and being open about cancer and its problems, I have found myself more concerned with life than with death.

In other words, until we realize that death is a part of life, I don't think we can truly enjoy life.  Because I feel that way, when a man recently said to me, "We have something in common; we are both dying of cancer," I was able to reply, "No, we have in common the fact that we are both still alive."

The other day a little girl at school remarked to my nine-year-old daughter, "I saw your daddy on TV and he is dying of cancer, isn't he?"

"Yes," my daughter replied, "but he's not dead yet!"

Not by a long shot.  Today is where I am and today I am alive.  I am not especially concerned about yesterday or tomorrow.  I am concerned about today . . . right now!  I am trying to make time count.

Looking back, I find it difficult to believe that I am the same person who blamed God for my cancer and who doubted his existence.  Perhaps, in my case, death made me aware of life.

One night when I found it difficult to sleep, I wrote a prayer.  It goes like this:

Our Heavenly Father. . .
Give me the strength to face each night
Before the dawn.
Give me the courage to watch my children at play,
And my wife at my side,
Without a trace of sorrow in my smile;
Let me count each passing moment,
As I once marked the fleeting days and nights,
And give me hope for each tomorrow.
Let my dreams be dreams of the future.
But when life on earth is over,
Let there be no sadness,
But only joy, for the golden days I've had.
Amen

^ ^ ^ ^

The late Orville Kelly was one of the co-founders of "Make Today Count," a support group/organization developed to support people with terminal illnesses.

Kelly wrote this poem for his wife, Wanda:

Spring, and the land lies fresh green
Beneath a yellow sun
We walked the land together, you and I
And never knew what the future days would bring:
Will you often think of me,
When flowers burst forth each year?
When the earth begins to grow again?
Some say death is so final,
But my love for you can never die,
Just as the sun once warmed our hearts,
Let this love touch you some night,
When I am gone,
And loneliness comes-
Before the dawn begins to scatter
Your dreams away.

Summer, and I never knew a bird
Could sing so sweet and clear,
Until they told me I must leave you
For a while.

I never knew the sky could be so deep a blue,
Until I knew I could not grow old with you
But better to be loved by you,
Than to have lived a million summers,
And never known your love.
Together, let us you and I
Remember the days and nights,
For eternity.

Fall, and the earth begins to die,
And leaves turn golden-brown upon the trees.
Remember me, too, in autumn, for I will walk with you,
As of old, along a city sidewalk at evening-time,
Though I cannot hold you by the hand.

Winter, and perhaps someday there may be
Another fireplace, another room,
With crackling fire and fragrant smoke,
And turning, suddenly, we will be together,
And I will hear your laughter and touch your face,
And hold you close to me again.

But, until then, if loneliness should seek you out,
Some winter night, when snow is falling down,
Remember, though death has come to me,
Love will never go away.
   

   

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There is a silence that matches our best possibilities
when we have learned to listen to others.  We can master
the art of being quiet in order to be able to hear clearly
what others are saying. . . . We need to cut off the garbled
static of our own preoccupations to give to people
who want our quiet attention.

Eugene Kennedy

   

 

Strategies for Learning to Let Go

I've always had a very hard time letting go of almost anything.  If I faced the possibility of losing something, be it a possession, a friend, or anything else, it would cause me a lot of anxiety and I would do whatever I could to hold on to it--a series of attempts that pretty much always failed.  I could never hold on to something that I wasn't meant to hold on to, no matter how hard I tried.  In fact, ironically enough it seemed that the harder I tried, the less likely I was to be successful in holding on to something.

This principle makes perfect sense to me now.  After quite a few years on this planet, I see now that the energy we expend trying to make the world what we think it should be is not just wasted energy, but often also energy that pushes things away from us when we try to keep them close to us.  It's one of life's more subtle ironies.  We think that we've failed in succeeding to hold onto something, but actually we've succeeded in pushing it away.

This is true if we're trying to hold on to friendships, beliefs, possessions, or even situations.  This is why so many people have so many problems with endings--after high school is over, many aren't able to let go of the feelings of camaraderie and friendship they had there, and they sometimes try to hold onto those feelings by focusing on their high school years for a long, long time, even continuing with behaviors that were appropriate in high school, but that are completely inappropriate for someone who is older.  Some people after a divorce try to hold on to the relationship by continuing behaviors or adopting new behaviors to try to "win back" their ex-spouse, instead of letting go of the person and the relationship and moving on with life.

   

There are things that we never want to let go
of, people we never want to leave behind.
But keep in mind that letting go isnít the end
of the world; itís the beginning of a new life.

unattributed

   
So just how do we learn to let go?  It does take work--mostly mental and emotional work, but sometimes even physical work.  The first step is, of course, to identify those things that we're holding on to that may not be good for us.  Now, some of these things may not necessarily be bad for us, but they may not necessarily be good for us, either.  For example, that set of china that's sitting in the cupboard and that we almost never use isn't necessarily bad, but it certainly isn't doing us any good, either.  And it can't be compared to the relationship we have with a person who constantly puts us down and treats us badly--something that is definitely negative for us.

Just as we should do all we can to let go of the destructive relationship, we can also do what we can to let go of the set of china in the name of simplicity-- simplifying our lives is an extremely important element of being happy, and without the ability to let go, simplicity is an elusive goal.

But perhaps the china is something too big to start with.  I sometimes go to books as a starting point--which books do I have that I don't read, and probably will not read in the next year or three?  If I can find five or ten of them, it may be worth it to make a trip to a charity thrift store to make a donation.  And I can do this with clothes, cd's, shoes, movies--whatever I am holding onto for whatever reason, but that may be worth my while to let go of.

The most important thing to do next, though, is to be patient.  Sometimes when I give things away or sell them, I feel a sense of regret.  Sometimes I feel a sense of relief.  But the most important thing is to not put too much importance on the immediate feeling--rather, wait five or ten days to see how you're doing with those things out of your life.  The chances are great that after some time you're not even going to notice their absence anymore.  Those things simply are no longer a part of your life.  And the fact that you've been able to let go of something means that your life is just that much simpler now, and your quality of life hasn't suffered at all from the loss of a few unimportant possessions.
    

Let go.  Why do you cling to pain?  There is nothing
you can do about the wrongs of yesterday.  It is
not yours to judge.  Why hold on to the very thing
which keeps you from hope and love?

Leo Buscaglia

    
It may also be important for you to have something to tell yourself, either verbally or in writing, as you do make the conscious effort to let go of something limiting in your life to reinforce the need to do so.  "I let go of these objects so that they may find a different home that may be better for them;" or, "I release this relationship in order to eliminate the difficulties and stress that it causes in my life," for example.  Doing this can provide you with a conscious sense of closure that can make it much easier for you to move on from whatever you've let go of.

Letting go is definitely a skill or a talent that requires you to see the bigger picture of life.  Our attachment to something is the small picture.  We need it because it gives us some sort of momentary, fleeting satisfaction.  But very, very often, letting go of something leads to an even greater satisfaction, a satisfaction that we can't even begin to imagine if we stay focused on the small picture.

One of the most important things of all when you're considering what to let go of, though, is whether something really does serve a valuable purpose in your life.  I often go through things "of my past" and get rid of them because I'm interested in staying present in the here and now and not getting stuck in the past.  However, there are some things that are very important reminders to me of people who have meant a lot to me, places that I definitely want to remember, or accomplishments that I'm very proud of.  I don't have my diplomas up on the wall, but I do keep them in a box in my closet.  Music has always been very important to me, and there are some albums that it simply wouldn't make sense to get rid of, because I know that eventually, I'd end up paying to get them again.  The same goes for movies and books--if I know I'll want to see or read them again, then why let go of them?
   

We believe that it is difficult to let go, but in truth, it is
much more difficult and painful to hold and protect.  Reflect
upon anything in your life that you grasp hold of--an opinion,
a historical resentment, an ambition, or an unfulfilled fantasy.
Sense the tightness, fear, and defensiveness that surrounds
the grasping.  It is a painful, anxious experience of unhappiness.
We do not let go in order to make ourselves impoverished or
bereft.  We let go in order to discover happiness and peace.


Christina Feldman

   
As Christina says here, "we let go in order to discover happiness and peace."  It's not a negative act, though it can feel rather frightening.  It's important, though, to identify and evaluate the things that you may need to let go of, and then to take a conscious and purposeful action towards letting that something go, either literally or figuratively.  You'll come up with your own strategies for doing so, and those strategies will serve you well, of course, but first of all you need to develop those strategies and make them a real part of your life, so that you can let go of other things that really shouldn't be a part of your life any longer because they're bringing or holding you down or back.

   
More on letting go.

   

One of the most important elements
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Overstraining is the enemy of
accomplishment.  Calm strength that
arises from a deep and inexhaustible
source is what brings success.

Rabindranath Tagore

  
The Keeper of the Spring

The late Peter Marshall was an eloquent speaker and for several years served as the chaplain of the US Senate. He used to love to tell the story of the Keeper of the Spring, a quiet forest dweller who lived high above an Austrian village along the eastern slope of the Alps.


The old gentleman had been hired many years earlier by a young town councilman to clear away the debris from the pools of water up in the mountain crevices that fed the lovely spring flowing through their town.  With faithful, silent regularity, he patrolled the hills, removed the leaves and branches, and wiped away the silt that would otherwise have choked and contaminated the fresh flow of water.  The village soon became a popular attraction for vacationers.  Graceful swans floated along the crystal clear spring,  the mill wheels of various businesses located near the water turned day and night, farmlands were naturally irrigated, and the view from restaurants was picturesque beyond description.

Years passed. One evening the town council met for its semi-annual meeting.  As they reviewed the budget, one man's eye caught the salary figure being paid to the obscure keeper of the spring.  Said the keeper of the purse, "Who is the old man?  Why do we keep him on year after year?  No one ever sees him.  For all we know, the strange ranger of the hills is doing us no good.  He isn't necessary any longer."  By an unanimous vote, they dispensed with the old man's services.

For several weeks, nothing changed.  By early autumn, the trees began to shed their leaves.  Small branches snapped of and fell into the pools, hindering the rushing flow of sparkling water.  One afternoon someone noticed a slight yellowish-brown tint in the spring.  A few days later, the water was much darker.

Within another week, a slimy film covered sections of the water along the banks, and a foul odor was soon detected.  The mill wheels moved more slowly, some finally ground to a halt.  Swans left, as did the tourists.  Clammy fingers of disease and sickness reached deeply into the village.

The embarrassed council called a special meeting.  Realizing their gross error in judgment, they rehired the old keeper of the spring, and within a few weeks, the veritable river of life began to clear up.  The wheels started to turn, and new life returned to the hamlet in the Alps.

Our lives and our relationships are much like this--so much of what keeps us going and advancing is hidden from our sight, working behind the scenes to keep our springs clear and fresh.  Just because we don't see the work that others do in our lives, that doesn't mean that their work isn't important and useful to us.  By the same token, just because our own work doesn't shine for the entire world to see, we shouldn't feel that what we do isn't useful and helpful.  That conversation you had with a co-worker may just help her marriage, or may help him to develop his relationship with one of his children.  And we may never know it. . . .

   
  

I feel very happy to see the sun come up every day.  I feel happy
to be around. . . . I like to take this day--any day--and go to town with it.

James Dickey

    

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