11 July 2017      

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Love Yourself
Leo Buscaglia

Negative Thinking Never Helps
Jeff Keller

Decisions, Decisions
tom walsh

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The finest test of character is seen in the amount and power of gratitude we have.

Milo H. Gates

Happiness sneaks in through a door you didn't know you left open.

John Barrymore

Integrity without knowledge is weak and useless, and knowledge without integrity is dangerous and dreadful.

Samuel Johnson

  
Love Yourself (an excerpt)
Leo Buscaglia

To love others you must love yourself.  You can only give to others what you have yourself.  This is especially true of love.  You cannot give what you have not learned and experienced.  Since love is not a thing, it is not lost when given.  You can offer your love completely to hundreds of people and still retain the same love you had originally.  It is like knowledge.  Wise people can teach all they know and when they're through they'll still know all that they have taught.  But first they must have the knowledge.  It would better be said that people "share" love, as they "share" knowledge but they can only share what they possess.

Loving oneself does not imply an ego-centered reality like the old witch in Snow White who reveled in the process of gazing into her mirror and asking, "Mirror, mirror on the wall, who is the fairest one of all."  Loving oneself does mean a genuine interest, caring, concern and respect for oneself.  To care about oneself is basic to love.  People love themselves when they see themselves with accuracy, genuinely appreciate what they see, but are especially excited and challenged with the prospect of what they can become.

Each person is unique.  Nature abhors sameness.  Each flower in the field is different, each blade of grass.  Have you ever seen two roses alike, even among the same variety?  No two faces are exactly alike, even in identical twins.  Our fingerprints are so singularly ours that we can be positively identified by them.

But people are strange creatures.  Diversity frightens us.  Instead of accepting the challenge, the joy, the wonder of variation, we are usually frightened of it.  We either move away from or endeavor to twist uniqueness into sameness.  Only then do we feel secure.

Each child born is an unmarked creation, a new combination of wonder.  In general, our human anatomy is similar to others, but on a subtle level even how our anatomy functions will vary with each individual.  Our personality development seems to have common elements which affect it; heredity, environment, chance.  But there is surely an additional element, not yet scientifically identifiable, which can be called the "X" factor of personality, that special combination of forces which act upon the individual so that we will react, respond, perceive as ourselves, alone.  The child is exceptional but most learning which he or she will receive from birth will not afford him or her the freedom to discover and develop this uniqueness. . . .

To love oneself is to struggle to rediscover and maintain your uniqueness.  It is understanding and appreciating the idea that you will be the only you to ever live upon this earth, that when you die so will all of your fantastic possibilities.  It is the realization that even you are not totally aware of the wonders which lie dormant within yourself.  Herbert Otto says only about 5 percent of our human potential is realized in our lifetime.  Margaret Mead has hypothesized that 4 percent is discovered.  What of the other 95 percent?

Loving yourself involves the discovery of the true wonder of you; not only the present you, but the many possibilities of you.  It involves the continual realization that you are unique, like no other person in the world, that life is, or should be, the discovery, the development and the sharing of this uniqueness.  The process is not always easy, for one is bound to find those who will feel threatened by a changing, growing you.  But it will always be exciting, always be fresh and like all things new and changing, never be dull.  The trip into oneself is the grandest, most enjoyable and longest lasting.  The fare is cheap; it merely involves continual experiencing, evaluating, educating, trying out of new behavior.  Only you can be the final judge in determining what is right for you. . . .

Loving yourself also involves the knowledge that only you can be you.  If you try to be like anyone else, you may come very close, but you will always be second best.  But, you are the best you.  It is the easiest, most practical, most rewarding thing to be.  Then it makes sense that you can only be to others what you are to yourself.

If you know, accept, and appreciate yourself and your uniqueness, you will permit others to do so.  If you value and appreciate the discovery of yourself, you will encourage others to engage in self-discovery.  If you recognize your need to be free to discover who you are, you will allow others their freedom to do so, also.  When you realize you are the best you, you will accept the fact that others are the best they.  But it follows that it all starts with you.  To the extent to which you know yourself, and we are all more alike than different, you can know others.  When you love yourself, you will love others.  And to the depth and extent to which you can love yourself, only to that depth and extent will you be able to love others.

   

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Negative Thinking Never Helps
Jeff Keller

I've never had someone come up to me and say, "I'm always negative and it's working out great for me. I can't wait to get up in the morning!" And yet, positive thinking still has its skeptics.

Some people tell me that positive thinking doesn't work or that it's "unrealistic," especially in today's turbulent world.

"Look around you," they say. "How can you be so positive?"  Well, let me ask you this:  can the world be lifted out of negativity by adding MORE negativity?

The truth is, there are certain things that negative thinking will do for you.  It will make you sick.  It will make you very unpleasant to be around.  And, it will significantly limit what you can achieve.

Let's take a closer look at why negative thinking doesn't serve us.  For starters, we all operate under the Law of Dominant Thought.  Simply stated, we're always moving in the direction of our dominant thoughts.

Most of us have heard about the "self-fulfilling prophecy"--that we get what we expect in life.  Expect negative results and, sure enough, you'll produce negative results.

As I'm sure you've found, negative thinking also causes you to feel more stress and to have less energy.  Scientific studies have demonstrated that negativity weakens your immune system.  How many times have you gotten sick during a stressful period in your life?

If you're still not convinced about the effects of being negative, take out a sheet of paper and write down your list of all the benefits you're getting from negative thinking.  I think your list is going to be very short, if you come up with anything at all.

Let me make an important distinction here.  It's quite natural for a person to feel sad in response to a tragedy or the death of a loved one.  There's a period of loss and grieving that differs for each individual, and we don't expect a grief stricken person to be positive in the short run.

However, even a person in that situation will not be served by holding onto their negative thoughts indefinitely.  (By the way, if you've suffered some trauma or have had a difficult time releasing negative thinking, by all means get counseling.  That's not a sign of weakness.  It's a constructive step to help you move forward in your life.)

Doing What Comes Naturally

From everything I've observed, babies are naturally positive.  They're usually smiling and seem to be enjoying life.  I haven't met any negative, frowning babies.  That's why I don't buy the argument that negative thinking is just natural.

Those who think negatively do so out of habit.  They have conditioned themselves to think that way. In Western societies in particular, we've developed the tendency to focus on minor irritations, even though these annoyances are only a tiny part of our overall lives.  We tend to focus on the 5% of our lives that are going "wrong"... instead of the 95% going well.

We'll sigh and tell everyone about the traffic jam or flat tire on the way to work.  Yet, we'll never comment about the miracle of our existence--the billions of cells in our body that somehow allow our brain to function, our heart to pump blood or our eyes to see.

We don't appreciate that we have enough food to eat or that we have a roof over our heads, while there are millions of people who don't have these gifts.  It's no wonder that so many people think negatively.

The newspaper is filled with negative news.  Television and radio reports dwell on tragedies and crimes.  How often do you read or hear about people helping each other or doing something positive?  Hardly ever.  If you do nothing to counteract this bombardment of negativity, you're going to think negatively.

At any time, however, you could take control of this situation.  You could stop watching and listening to all of the negative news and read something positive instead.  You could limit your contact with "toxic" people and make sure your life is filled with positive inputs.

If you did that, your "natural" inclination would switch and you'd begin to think positively.

Quick Mental Exercises

I'll show you that you have much more control over your thinking than you might believe.  Try this experiment.  Right now, think about your favorite movie.  You might even get a picture in your mind of your favorite scene in that movie.

Now, let's think about your favorite meal.  What is it?  A fresh salad ... a juicy steak ... grilled salmon?  Whatever it is, just think about it.  Now that your mouth is watering, let's move on.  Think about being out in a snowstorm, with two feet of snow on the ground.  Can you see the snow and feel the cold on your toes?

In each case, you were able to control what you thought about.  You could shift your thinking in an instant.  It has been said that positive thinking is harmful because optimistic people ignore things that can go wrong or are easily duped and taken advantage of.

In other words, if you expect the sun to be shining all the time, you're just naive and are sure to be disappointed.  But positive thinking doesn't mean that you ignore reality or refuse to consider the obstacles that might arise.  On the contrary, the positive person expects a positive outcome but prepares for overcoming obstacles.

For example, if a positive person is planning an outdoor wedding, he or she won't use the power of positive thinking to make sure it doesn't rain on the big day.  Rather, a positive person is prepared with contingency plans, focusing on things that she can directly control, such as having a tent available in case it does rain.

By this point, I hope that you're receptive to the idea that negative thinking won't help us.  So, the question is: how can we change our thinking to become more positive?  The answer, simply stated, is that you must change what goes into your mind every day.

Start by eliminating as many of the negative inputs as possible. While you can listen to the news for a few minutes to catch the important headlines, there is no need to hear reports of the same murders and bombings over and over each day. At the same time, replace the negative inputs with positive stimuli.

Read positive materials on a daily basis. Listen to positive audio tapes or CDs, or to music that inspires or relaxes you.

Here's another technique: monitor your everyday language.  When you find yourself beginning to complain or talk negatively, switch immediately to something positive. Say something like, "I really have so much to be grateful for" and start listing some of those things.

Condition yourself to focus on constructive solutions to challenges, rather than harping on problems or fretting about things outside of your control. Make a commitment for the next 30 days. Think about what you want instead of what you don't want.

Think about what you're grateful for rather than what you believe is missing in your life. Saturate your mind with the positive. After 30 days, you can then decide whether to keep focusing on the positive or to revert to your negative thinking pattern. I think I know which one you'll choose!

* * * * *

Jeff Keller is the President of Attitude is Everything, Inc. For more than 15 years, Jeff has delivered presentations on attitude and motivation to businesses, groups and trade associations throughout the United States and abroad. Jeff is also the author of the highly acclaimed book, Attitude is Everything. For more information, go to attitudeiseverything.com

   

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Life holds no promises as to what will come your way.
You must search for your own ideals and work toward reaching them.
Life makes no guarantees as to what you’ll have.
It just gives you time to make choices and to take chances
and to discover whatever secrets that might come your way.
If you are willing to take the opportunities you are given
and utilize the abilities you have, you will constantly fill your life
with special moments and unforgettable times.

Dena Dilaconi

   

 

Decisions, Decisions

Over and over again, I hear and read about people who are afraid that they're not leading authentic lives, that they're not making the most of the opportunities that they have, or that they're simply not happy with who they are or the lives they're living.  While these may not be completely new issues for members of humanity, it seems that they're more likely to be expressed these days as more and more people are willing to share their doubts and fears with others.

One of the problems that I constantly run into, though, when people express such dissatisfaction is that even though they wish that things would change in their lives, they're not willing to make decisions--and follow through on them--that will actually bring about change for them.

  

More than anything else, I believe it's our decisions, not
the conditions of our lives, that determine our destiny.

Anthony Robbins

  
To use a simple example, I hear students constantly complain about their grades, but then in the same conversation start talking about all the time that they spend texting friends, browsing Facebook, or playing video games.  Every time they make a decision to do one of these things, they're also making a decision not to study, or not to do homework, and guess what?  Because they're basically making a decision not to work on their learning, that extra learning doesn't take place, and their grades don't go up.

We see the results of poor decisions all the time in our lives.  The person who's late to work constantly because he or she decides not to go to bed until one or two in the morning.  The person who's married to someone they don't love because they made a decision based on the fear that someone more fitting wouldn't come along.  The people who have weak relationships with their children because they constantly decide that getting a bit more work done is the most important thing they can do right now--all of these people are making decisions that are hurting their true selves, that are damaging important relationships and their views of themselves, yet all continue to make the same decisions over and over again.  And they continue to hurt themselves.

And most of them don't see the relationship between their decisions and the ways that they feel, or the weaknesses in their job performance or their relationships.  It's a pretty simple cause-and-effect relationship, but they don't seem to want to acknowledge it.
  

Few people know this, but any decision is acceptable when you can't decide.
The trick is to make the decision right because you made it.  In other words,
when you are torn between two roads, pick one and then make the one you
picked right.  In the grand scheme of things, it doesn't matter.  If you can't
see down the road enough to know which decision to make, then no one can
fault you for making a decision.  Of course, in a pinch, you could always flip a coin.

Joe Vitale
Life's Missing Instruction Manual

  
I think that part of the reason that we're somewhat afraid to acknowledge our own negative contributions to our lives through our poor decisions is that once we do so, we're basically telling ourselves that another decision is necessary, and this decision may be more difficult to follow through on.  For this decision may not be as simple, and it may require more courage on our part, and it may require more work to carry out.

Many of the decisions that we make don't have much effect on our lives.  Deciding to have a donut and coffee isn't a big deal.  But if we start deciding to have two donuts and coffee every morning and we start to see a corresponding weight gain, then isn't it time to re-evaluate that decision?  Personally, I could live on donuts, but I usually decide to avoid them because in the past I have weighed quite a lot more than I do now, and it wasn't a feeling that I wanted to continue having.  I also knew that if I continued to gain weight, I was dooming myself to some pretty serious health problems later in life.

The decision to stay at a certain weight, though, is one that I constantly have to continue to re-make, one that requires me time and again to forego foods that I'd really like to eat, and that requires me to go outside and run or bike or walk when I'd much rather sit on a comfortable couch in a warm room and read a good book.  But I know that in the long run, developing the habit of staying in shape through a constant series of decisions to do things that will keep me in shape (and allow me to avoid getting out of shape) is the best thing that I can do for myself.
   

A rule of thumb for a warrior is that he makes his decisions so carefully
that nothing that may happen as a result of them can surprise
him, much less drain his power.


Carlos Castaneda

    
Most of the time when I'm faced with an important decision, I try to weigh the difference between the long-term and the short-term effects of that decision.  In the short term, eating a whole package of cookies will be a truly enjoyable experience.  In the long term, though, doing such a thing would be very negative to my health, and it would cause me to have to do other things that I don't necessarily want to do to compensate for eating that many calories.  In the short term, deciding to go along with a friend and do something I don't want to do simply to avoid conflict will help me to avoid conflict, but in the long term, it may cause me quite a bit of inner turmoil as a reflect on why I did something that I wasn't comfortable doing just because someone else wanted me to do it.

Other decisions are much more drastic in our lives.  When I decided to move from teaching college to teaching high school a few years ago, I knew that that decision would be much more dramatic than deciding about donuts or cookies ever would be.  But after a lot of reflection on the ways that life seemed to be pushing me by opening some doors and closing others, and reflecting on what I really want to get out of teaching, I decided to make the change, no matter how unrealistic it seemed to some people.  It was a huge decision that has led to hundreds of other decisions, but one that at least I made without a focus on trying to maintain a false sense of security and comfort.  It has led to many uncomfortable and difficult moments, but it also has led to many rewarding and fulfilling moments--and it's a decision that I've never regretted making.  The contributions that I see myself making at the secondary level is much more meaningful than the contributions I was able to make on the college level.

Decision-making isn't always easy.  There are almost always more people involved, and more possible outcomes to our decisions than we can clearly see.  But the more aware we become of the fact that our lives are to a large part reflections of the decisions that we constantly make, the more effective we can become at making decisions that help us, and that don't hurt us.
   
Some practical decision-making principles.

1.  Make sure that you consider both the long-term and short-term effects of any decision.  That movie may be on tonight, but if it keeps you up late, will you be miserably tired tomorrow at work?

2.  Consider possible alternatives.  You can rent that same movie this weekend, and watch it without all the commercials.  You can play the video games after you've done your homework or cleaned the kitchen, and then both things will get done.

3.  Learn to look deeply and honestly at your own wants and needs.  If this person isn't providing fulfillment in the relationship, is it time to ask for more or end the relationship?  If my job leaves me feeling empty and wasted and doesn't allow me to thrive and advance, is it time to consider a new job?

4.  Consider where life may be trying to lead you.  If religion is a major part of your life, then consider where God may be trying to lead you.  What doors have been closing recently?  Which have been opening?  Why might that be?  Most of us have a hard time with the idea that life or God may be pushing us in certain directions--and especially with the idea that life or God may know better what's truly best for us, but trusting life is one of the most important concepts that we can learn.

5.  Once you've made a decision, stick to it long enough to see if it's going to work or not.  Too many people encounter immediate obstacles and back out of their decision, never finding out what lies beyond those obstacles.  But. . . .

6.  When it becomes clear that a decision truly was a wrong one, don't be afraid to make another decision to change your mind.  If that person who was so great while you were dating is now abusive or disinterested now that you're exclusive, then you made a decision based on inaccurate information presented by that person--now that you have the new information, make a new decision and get out of there!
    

   
More on decisions.

   

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The need to make wise choices encompasses every area of our lives.  Since we have time for only a limited amount of stuff, we need to choose wisely what stuff we're going to allow to take up that time.  Since we have only a limited amount of time to spend with friends or to engage in leisure activities, we need to choose our friends and our activities wisely.

Elaine St. James

  

There is an old story about a man who wrote to the department of agriculture in his state to find out how to cope with the crabgrass that was spoiling his lawn.  The department responded with a number of suggestions.  The man tried them all, but he could not completely eliminate the crabgrass.  Exasperated, he wrote the department again, noting that every method they had suggested had failed.  His yard was still riddled with crabgrass.  He got back a short reply:  "We suggest you learn to love it."
   This is the art of reframing, redefining something so that it is no longer as problematic.  It isn't the situation that is changed, of course; it is your perspective on the situation.

Robert H. and Jeanette C. Lauer

   

  

Don Juan assured me that in order to accomplish the feat of making myself
miserable I had to work in the most intense fashion, and that it was absurd.
I had now realized I could work just the same in making myself complete and strong.
"The trick is in what one emphasizes," he said.  "We either make ourselves miserable,
or we make ourselves strong.  The amount of work is the same."

Carlos Castaneda

    

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