16 May 2017      

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When We're Happiest
Earl Nightingale

Choose Life
Jerry White

Looking for the Courage
tom walsh

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Where there is great love there are always miracles.  Miracles rest not so much upon faces or voice or healing power coming to us from afar off, but in our own perceptions being finer.

Willa Cather

Immature love says, "I love you because you love me."  Mature love says, "I love you whether you love me or not."


Gentleness is a divine trait:  nothing is
so strong as gentleness and nothing
so gentle as real strength.

Ralph Sockman

When We're Happiest
Earl Nightingale

Quite often we hear people say, "I'm unhappy," as though happiness were the object, or purpose, of life.  It isn't, nor can it be.  Happiness is an effect, a by-product, a symptom of something else.  Therefore, seeking happiness directly must always result in failure.

Happiness comes only to those who have done something to cause it. It can be meeting the so-called "right person."  Falling in love brings a euphoric, giddy kind of happiness which, if the love is real and lasting, can settle down into a kind of permanent state of happiness.  There will be ups and downs, of course, so-called good days and moments and bad days and bad moments, but if the relationship is sound and satisfying, having the right person can bring a kind of joy for many, many years.

Happiness generally comes most often to productive and creative people when they have found and are engaged in work in which they can lose themselves.  When the work has been completed, they must then, after a while, find more.

For the author, it can be a book or a story; for the painter, a subject, an idea. And it's the same with architects, engineers and all the rest of us.

We are usually happiest when we are unaware of our happiness.  We'll be busily engaged in something that demands our full attention and best talents and suddenly discover, during a pause in the work, that several hours have passed in which we've been completely unaware of the passage of time and our surroundings.  And, if we think about it, we'll realize that we were living close to the peak during that time and that we were in a very high order of happiness.

Happiness comes when we are doing something for others, too.  On Christmas morning, our joy or our happiness can be at a very high level, not because of our anticipation of what we might receive but, rather, in anticipation of watching our loved ones open our gifts to them.  In fact, if we're not careful, we can fail to register sufficient excitement and joy upon opening the gifts we receive from others.  We must remember that they are happiest at that time and to give them top billing, to stretch their happiness to its full length.

Sometimes we're so anxious for them to open something we've given, we'll tend to pass over the things they've given us.  Have to watch that, especially where the children are concerned.  They've spent days, perhaps weeks, thinking of the moment when we'll finally open the present on which they've lavished so much thought and love and care.

So if we remember that we are happiest when we are doing things for others, when we are busiest, and after we have accomplished something worthwhile, we need never be unhappy again, at least not for long.  We need only find a project on which to work, or put in a good hard day doing those things that need to be done, or find a way to do something for others.  Then happiness, like a butterfly, will come and land on our sleeve.

Happiness is not the purpose of life. It is a by-product of keeping busy, of losing ourselves in our work and of doing things for others. Knowing that, we need never be unhappy again.


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Choose Life
Jerry White

Pain is a wake-up call.  It sends out warnings loud and clear.  David is one who was given a second chance at life.  He used to be a clown with the Ringling Brothers, Barnum and Bailey Circus, but now makes a living as a business consultant and change management coach living in New Hampshire.  He recounts a stark turning point in 1998 when intense pain concentrated his mind on what matters most:  life and purpose.

"At the age of forty-two, on the first day of vacation in Lima, Peru, I collapsed with chest pains in the National Museum.  One moment I am laughing about erotic pottery with my wife and planning my next day's hike to Macchu Picchu, and the next thing I am scared beyond belief grabbing my chest and sitting in a pool of my own vomit.  I am medivaced to the United States, where I'm told I am an immediate candidate for quintuple bypass surgery.  Seven major blockages, two at 90 percent.  I was a day away from dead.

"Before surgery, I wandered a bit in life.  There were lots of good times, but also a litany of comatose behaviors that often got me in trouble. . . my life was frequently complicated.

"It's been nine years, and I am still working to integrate what was to what is.  I am still working to understand the "bypass" of my own life.  A few years ago I returned to Peru and climbed Macchu Picchu.  I went back to divinity school. . .

"Heart surgery has given me this:  the understanding that life is short, it can pass in a blink.  And our dreams don't care if we are happy; our dreams only care that they are lived."

David tells me his goal is simple--to stay awake.  That's a nice way to think about how to Choose Life.  Stay tuned to what is happening around you and inside you.  Mindfulness and consciousness are disciplines, much like getting out of bed in the morning to face the day.

Halfway across the world from David, Jacinta is a Mozambican woman I met through my work.  Her husband was disabled from an injury during the civil war, trying to help a fellow soldier.  They live in extreme poverty and her husband often has trouble finding work.  But Jacinta sees their life as good, filled with love and laughter.

"I am here living.  We are missing a lot of things, yes, but we can live like that. . . He is able to do some things at least for a week, and he laughs here with us at home. . . I even tell him stories I hear in church so he doesn't feel too bad.

"I will never send my husband away, as many have told me to do because of our poverty, because I believe one cannot buy love in the market.  You cannot buy love with furniture or money.  What belongs to love is love, and whatever this poverty is in our house, we are living according to our means with our three children here at home."

I like that thought:  What belongs to love is love.  You may be surrounded by poverty and want, but you can still expand your home tent hospitably to let in love, light, and laughter.  Some days we go looking for them, and they seem to be hiding.  We have to believe they will return.  In this way, choosing life requires a seed of faith.  The point of believing is to create options for the future.  We hope by making this or that choice that we will open the door to bigger and better options ahead. . . .

The ability to Choose Life is a frame of mind, a decision that may be encouraged by faith or spirituality, but is certainly not dependent on a particular religious belief.  What I have found is that the most resilient survivors I  meet around the world agree that we are more than our bodies.  Our circumstances and DNA don't fully define us.  Spirituality can play a very important role in recovery, across all faiths, religions, and cultures.


The loss of a loved
one, a painful disease,
or a serious physical
injury--we all must,
at one point, face
moments that divide
our lives into "before"
and "after."  How do
we muscle our way
through tough times
and emerge stronger,
wiser--even grateful
for our struggle?


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Nature always takes her time.  Great oaks don't become
great overnight.  They also lose a lot of leaves, branches
and bark in the process of becoming great.

Andrew Matthews

Looking for the Courage

It can be pretty discouraging looking for courage in today's world--there isn't a lot of it being shown in our daily lives.  And there certainly isn't a lot of it on display in the limelight, among the people that we've chosen to put on pedestals and look up to, the politicians and the actors and the musicians and athletes--in short, the people who make a lot of money in our society.  These are the people we see the most of, because in our culture these are the people who are most in the news.

This is a mistake, though.  These are not the bravest people or the most important people or the most admirable people.  These are simply people who other people feel that they can make money from.  Why does a singer get a contract?  Not because of talent, but because a producer or executive feels that the singer will sell a lot of copies of songs, which will mean more money for the company.  The singer may indeed be talented, but there are plenty of extremely talented people who never will get the contracts that others get, mostly because the producers don't feel that they're marketable enough.

So what does this have to do with courage?  It has to do with the myth that everyone in the public eye has worked terribly hard to get where they are.  The fact is, though, that people with ability are actively recruited by the people who want to profit off of them.  That means that they haven't had to show a lot of courage--just a lot of persistence more than anything else.  But because we think they had to be courageous and face rejection and dig deeper when things started going bad, we think that they should be quite courageous people.  And some of them are, of course.

Courage is a special kind of knowledge:  the knowledge
of how to fear what ought to be feared and how
not to fear what ought not to be feared.

David Ben-Gurion

But the fact is that the most courageous people that you know are probably those whom you don't even recognize as being courageous.  They're the people who have endured childhoods full of abuse and manipulation, but who still have a positive outlook on life and who still do their best to defy odds.  They're the people who have been hurt, but who are still willing to risk being hurt even more when they see someone who needs their help.  They're the people who are facing tremendous difficulties, whether they be illness, depression, addictions, or even a lack of support from others, but who are still plugging away and doing what they feel called to do.

It's unfortunate that so often in our society, people who end up needing help from others are seen as weak or unable to take care of themselves.  Often, these are the most courageous people we know, and part of the reason that we're able to recognize their courage is precisely because they're able to ask for help.  We weren't put on this world to suffer through everything on our own, isolated without help.  We were put on this world to cooperate with others, to learn from them, to receive their help when we need it.  If society tells us it's wrong to seek help for certain things, then it definitely takes courage to seek that help and go against what we've been taught.

Courage is never to let your actions
be influenced by your fears.

Arthur Koestler

I'll be honest--most of my life, I've been pretty cowardly in many ways.  It's not a cowardice that defines who I am, but a cowardice that I learned would keep me "safe."  After all, isn't that what causes most of our cowardice--fear?  I've often done things that can be called courageous, but far more often I've done things that wouldn't be called that name by any stretch of the imagination.  And that's okay.  Life is about learning and growing, and I'm learning how to be more courageous every day.  I'm learning that my fears rarely serve me well, and often harm me when I listen to what they tell me, and the more I learn this lesson, the more often I'm able to show courage in more situations.

I've seen great courage in the high school student who's having a hard time dealing with certain things, but who persists anyway.  I've seen great courage in the person who deals with pain from a medical issue every day, yet who goes on with his or her life without complaining.  I've seen great courage in the person who's battling depression, yet who forges on without giving up.  I've seen amazing courage in mothers who have children who challenge them beyond measure, yet who still live each day with love and compassion.  I've seen courage in the politician who goes against the flow because he or she truly wants to do what's right for their constituents rather than following the path of least resistance and doing what's easiest.

And I've seen great cowardice in people who are claiming to be courageous, but who are merely spouting words that mean nothing while they give in to their fears of ridicule or lack of security; or to their desires for power and their greed.  Few people do the courageous thing out of a sense of self-preservation or self-aggrandizement.  It just doesn't work that way.

The hallmark of courage in our age of conformity is the capacity to stand
on one's own convictions--not obstinately or defiantly (these are gestures
of defensiveness, not courage) nor as a gesture of retaliation,
but simply because these are what one believes.

Rollo May

Rainer Maria Rilke once said, "Perhaps all the dragons of our lives are princesses, who are only waiting to see us once beautiful and brave."  You, too, can be brave.  You can show courage by not giving in to your fears and standing up for what you know to be right.  It isn't easy, of course--if it were easy, there would be no need for courage.  But starting to show courage at any level is a wonderful way to start making your life more than it ever has been, for showing courage is an important way to work towards becoming the people we were meant to be.  It's only by being courageous and expressing our true thoughts and beliefs that we can help those thoughts to grow and expand.  If I refuse to do something because I'm afraid of what others will think, then I'm trapped into continuing to be just the way I am.

If, on the other hand, I do something even though I'm afraid of the possible consequences, then the simple act of doing that something can help me to grow into a better and stronger person, as I take an important risk and learn to deal with the consequences of that risk.

Without courage, we never actually learn how to deal with those consequences, do we?  Which means that we always stay just the way we are.

More on courage.


One of the most important elements of living life fully is awareness-- awareness of our surroundings, of other people and their motives and fears and desires, of the things that affect us most in our lives, both positively and negatively. In the twelve years of livinglifefully.com's existence, this essay series has been a mainstay of the weekly e-zine--a series that has explored not just the things that exist and that happen around us, but also our reactions to those things. The first five years of the column are now available exclusively on Kindle.



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There are as many nights as days, and the one is just as long as the other in the year's course.  Even a happy life cannot be without a measure of darkness, and the word "happiness" would lose its meaning if it were not balanced by sadness.  It is far better to take things as they come along with patience and equanimity.

Carl Gustav Jung


Alice Cary

True worth is in being, not seeming--
In doing, each day that goes by,
Some little good--not in dreaming
Of great things to do by and by.
For whatever we say in our blindness,
And spite of the fancies of youth,
There's nothing so kingly as kindness,
And nothing so royal as truth.

We get back our mete as we measure--
We cannot do wrong and feel right,
Nor can we give pain and gain pleasure,
For justice avenges each slight.
The air for the wing of the sparrow,
The bush for the robin and wren,
But always the path that is narrow
And straight, for the children of men.

'Tis not in the pages of story
The heart of its ills to beguile,
Though he who makes courtship to glory
Gives all that he hath for her smile.
For when from her heights he has won her,
Alas!  It is only to prove
That nothing's so sacred as honor,
And nothing so loyal as love!

We cannot make bargains for blisses,
Nor catch them like fishes in nets;
And sometimes the thing our life misses
Helps more than the thing which it gets.
For good lieth not in pursuing,
Nor gaining of great nor of small,
But just in the doing, and doing
As we would be done by, is all.

Through envy, through malice, through hating,
Against the world, early and late,
No jot of our courage abating--
Our part is to work and to wait.
And slight is the sting of his trouble
Whose winnings are less than his worth;
For he who is honest and noble,
Whatever his fortunes or birth.



I hope that my achievements in life shall be these -- that I will have fought for
what was right and fair, that I will have risked for that which mattered, and that I
will have given help to those who were in need that I will have left the
earth a better place for what I've done and who I've been.

C. Hoppe


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