6 June 2017      

Hi again!  It's our first Tuesday of June, and we hope that you're
in good spirits for the last couple of weeks of spring!  Summer is
on its way, so let's be ready for it when it gets here!

Brake for Spontaneity
Cheryl Richardson

The Formula for Failure and Success
Jim Rohn

Who's Happy?
tom walsh

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By our errors we see deeper into life.

Ralph Iron

Never fear shadows.  They simply mean there's
a light shining nearby.

Ruth E. Renkel

History must repeat itself because we
pay such little attention to it the first time.

Blackie Sherrod

Brake for Spontaneity
Cheryl Richardson

Do you ever feel that life is just one long routine day after another?  You wake up, take a shower, brush your teeth, get dressed, head off to work, and blah, blah, blah, blah, blah.  Well, if one more day of the "same ol' stuff" makes you feel cranky, it might be time for a spontaneity break.

Now I know that the idea of scheduling a spontaneity break sounds like a contradiction in terms, but when you consider how our society lives and thrives by the clock, it makes sense.  Too often we fall into the trap of believing that life will become easier and more meaningful when we get really good at living and acting efficiently.  But schedules, clocks, and well-planned time can squash our creative spirit--the part of us that thrives on spontaneous, open-ended time.

I love open-ended time.  In other words, I love to have an afternoon or day to myself to do whatever I want, without needing to be anywhere or do anything at any given time.  As a matter of fact, I can become pretty tough to live with when my calendar gets too full of scheduled appointments (just ask my husband).

When I have open-ended time, I often stop, close  my eyes, and check in with myself to determine what feels right in the moment.

Sometimes when I check in, I get a goofy answer like, "Clean out the refrigerator" (pretty weird, I know).  At other times I may want to take a nap, go for a jog, visit a bookstore, or just sit and relax.

As creative beings, we all need periods of time to live spontaneously without commitments or distractions.  By creating the space to live in the moment, we strengthen the connection to our inner wisdom and give ourselves a much-needed rest from the routine of day-to-day living.  So, if the idea of brushing your teeth or getting dressed feel like an overwhelming task, it might be time for a spontaneity break!

Take Action Challenge:

Schedule a spontaneity break this week.  Take an afternoon or evening and give yourself the gift of time free from appointments or obligations.  Do whatever comes to mind in the moment.  During this time stop, check in with your Wise Self, and ask, "What do I really want to do right now?"  However goofy or simple the answer might be, trust your gut and act! 

What do you need to change to make your life work better and make you happier?  Cheryl Richardson, author of the popular Take Time for Your Life, shows you how to make your life over, one week at a time, using her philosophy of "extreme self-care." The result: you'll reevaluate your life and connect to what matters most to you, improving the quality of your life.


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The Formula for Failure and Success (excerpt)
Jim Rohn

Failure is not a single, cataclysmic event.  We do not fail overnight.  Failure is the inevitable result of an accumulation of poor thinking and poor choices.  To put it more simply, failure is nothing more than a few errors in judgment repeated every day.

Now why would someone make an error in judgment and then be so foolish as to repeat it every day?  The answer is because he or she does not think that it matters.

On their own, our daily acts do not seem that important.  A minor oversight, a poor decision, or a wasted hour generally doesn't result in an instant and measurable impact.  More often than not, we escape from any immediate consequences of our deeds.

If we have not bothered to read a single book in the past ninety days, this lack of discipline does not seem to have any immediate impact on our lives.  And since nothing drastic happened to us after the first ninety days, we repeat this error in judgment for another ninety days, and on and on it goes.  Why?  Because it doesn't seem to matter.  And herein lies the great danger.  Far worse than not reading the books is not even realizing that it matters!

Those who eat too many of the wrong foods are contributing to a future health problem, but the joy of the moment overshadows the consequence of the future.  It does not seem to matter.  Those who smoke too much or drink too much go on making these poor choices year after year after year... because it doesn't seem to matter.  But the pain and regret of these errors in judgment have only been delayed for a future time.  Consequences are seldom instant; instead, they accumulate until the inevitable day of reckoning finally arrives and the price must be paid for our poor choices - choices that didn't seem to matter.

Failure's most dangerous attribute is its subtlety.  In the short term those little errors don't seem to make any difference.  We do not seem to be failing. In fact, sometimes these accumulated errors in judgment occur throughout a period of great joy and prosperity in our lives.  Since nothing terrible happens to us, since there are no instant consequences to capture our attention, we simply drift from one day to the next, repeating the errors, thinking the wrong thoughts, listening to the wrong voices and making the wrong choices.  The sky did not fall in on us yesterday; therefore the act was probably harmless.  Since it seemed to have no measurable consequence, it is probably safe to repeat.

But we must become better educated than that!

If at the end of the day when we made our first error in judgment the sky had fallen in on us, we undoubtedly would have taken immediate steps to ensure that the act would never be repeated again.  Like the child who places his hand on a hot burner despite his parents' warnings, we would have had an instantaneous experience accompanying our error in judgment.

Unfortunately, failure does not shout out its warnings as our parents once did.  This is why it is imperative to refine our philosophy in order to be able to make better choices. With a powerful, personal philosophy guiding our every step, we become more aware of our errors in judgment and more aware that each error really does matter.

Now here is the great news.  Just like the formula for failure, the formula for success is easy to follow:  It's a few simple disciplines practiced every day.

Now here is an interesting question worth pondering:  How can we change the errors in the formula for failure into the disciplines required in the formula for success?  The answer is by making the future an important part of our current philosophy.

Both success and failure involve future consequences, namely the inevitable rewards or unavoidable regrets resulting from past activities.  If this is true, why don't more people take time to ponder the future?  The answer is simple:  They are so caught up in the current moment that it doesn't seem to matter.  The problems and the rewards of today are so absorbing to some human beings that they never pause long enough to think about tomorrow.

But what if we did develop a new discipline to take just a few minutes every day to look a little further down the road?  We would then be able to foresee the impending consequences of our current conduct.  Armed with that valuable information, we would be able to take the necessary action to change our errors into new success-oriented disciplines.  In other words, by disciplining ourselves to see the future in advance, we would be able to change our thinking, amend our errors and develop new habits to replace the old.

One of the exciting things about the formula for success - a few simple disciplines practiced every day - is that the results are almost immediate.  As we voluntarily change daily errors into daily disciplines, we experience positive results in a very short period of time.  When we change our diet, our health improves noticeably in just a few weeks.  When we start exercising, we feel a new vitality almost immediately.  When we begin reading, we experience a growing awareness and a new level of self-confidence.  Whatever new discipline we begin to practice daily will produce exciting results that will drive us to become even better at developing new disciplines.

The real magic of new disciplines is that they will cause us to amend our thinking.  If we were to start today to read the books, keep a journal, attend the classes, listen more and observe more, then today would be the first day of a new life leading to a better future.  If we were to start today to try harder, and in every way make a conscious and consistent effort to change subtle and deadly errors into constructive and rewarding disciplines, we would never again settle for a life of existence – not once we have tasted the fruits of a life of substance!

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Hope is not the conviction that something will turn out well
but the certainty that something makes sense, regardless of how it turns out.

Vaclav Havel


Who's Happy?

I'm in Spain again, spending a couple of weeks studying the language because I'm teaching it now, almost full-time, something that I never expected to be doing.  But if I am going to be teaching it and getting paid to do so, I'm going to do everything I can to get better at the language so that my students will have a teacher who knows what he's talking about.  It seems only fair to me.

So it's not a vacation, per se.  It's kind of one because I don't have any obligations other than going to classes and going on hikes with the school, as well as meeting my own demands of writing and studying and reading and listening a lot.  In situations like this I try to push myself because I know that if I don't, I could leave this place where I am without having improved a bit over where I was when I got here, and that would be a huge waste, wouldn't it?  A waste of time, of energy, of money, of effort, of resources. . . and I don't want to be wasting these things.

In any case, I'm in Spain, in a picturesque little town ten kilometers from the coast, nestled in the mountains of Asturias and Cantabria.  If you were to come here, you might look around and fall in love with the place, and think of just how happy you would be to live in a place that's this beautiful and this relaxing.  You'd think how nice it would be to get up every morning and be able to go to one of the bars to get a café con leche, and you'd look around at everyone you see and think of just how good they have it to live in a place like this.

Your happiness or misery depends on your state of mind
and not upon your external conditions or circumstances.

Papa Ramdas

But the guy behind the bar, the one who would serve you your café con leche, is having a really hard time making ends meet.  In the last few years the price of electricity has gone up dramatically, and many people are having a hard time meeting the costs.  In general, Spain is facing the same problem as much of the rest of the world--costs are going up, but wages aren't.  Young people can't afford a place of their own--generally, they either have to share a house or apartment with others or be married, with both partners working.

In small towns like this, you don't see too many young people.  They've moved away, most of them, to places where there are jobs available.  They go to the university after high school, and after they finish school they find a place to live where there's employment to be had.  And these days, due to the European Union, that often means moving to England (well, not for long) or Germany or another country that's in need of workers.  It's good that the young people have these opportunities, but it doesn't do much good for the towns such as this one.  The town is dying, for the most part, a long and slow process of attrition.

In a town like this that has very long histories involved with it, histories of families and eras and power and prestige, there's a certain sadness involved in the people who are living through the process of the disintegration of the area.  There's a sense of helplessness, a sense of impending doom that can't be staved off because none of the signs that are being seen are positive; none of them point to a positive future.

Happiness depends not on things around us, but on our attitude.

Alfred A. Montapert

But on the other hand, there are many happy people.  Even the people who are sad or who are hurting financially are doing their best to make the best of what they have, to enjoy the lives that they're living and to do their best to help other people in any way they can.  There are many who see the negative signs and who try to figure out how to make the best of the impending situations, determined to use the crap that's about to come as fertilizer for their flowers.  They still have friends over for dinner and they still celebrate the festivals, even if they now are for 100 people instead of 1,000.

When all is said and done, human beings go about living their lives and making the best of their situations no matter where they are and what they're doing.  Knowing this, it's important that we keep in mind that no matter where we are or what we're doing, we do have things good, even if there are some things that really do need to be changed or fixed.  And that no matter how good another situation may look, the truth may be that there are more challenges involved in being there than we can see.  Life wouldn't be perfect if we could just pick up and move there--it would just be life in a different place.

Men and women are rushing hither and thither in the blind search
for happiness, and cannot find it; nor ever will until they recognize
that happiness is already within them and round them, filling the
universe, and that they, in their selfish searching,
are shutting themselves out from it.

James Allen

Are you happy where you are, or are you pining to move somewhere else?  Sometimes that yearning is a very important feeling to follow; sometimes it's a desire simply to escape some unpleasant situation in your present; sometimes it's a desire to run away from responsibilities.  Only you can know for sure just what that feeling is telling you and just what to do about it.  Perhaps what you need isn't to move away for good, but to take an extended vacation, to change air for a time so that you'll gain a new sense of perspective on life and on your current home.  Perhaps it is a very real instinctual drive that's telling you that yes, you will be happier somewhere else, where people do act differently and they follow different ways of life.

Sometimes I think I could live in Germany just for the amazing bakeries. . . . But would that be a reason for moving to a completely different country?  It could be.

More on perspective.


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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It isn't true, by the way,
that nothing is as bad
as you think it's going to be.
Some things are exactly
as bad as you thought
they were going to be,
and some things are worse.

Peg Bracken

Lines Written in Early Spring
William Wordsworth

I heard a thousand blended notes,
While in a grove I sate reclined,
In that sweet mood when pleasant thoughts
Bring sad thoughts to the mind.

To her fair works did Nature link
The human soul that through me ran;
And much it grieved my heart to think
What man has made of man.

Through primrose tufts, in that green bower,
The periwinkle trailed its wreaths;
And 't is my faith that every flower
Enjoys the air it breathes.

The birds around me hopped and played,
Their thoughts I cannot measure:--
But the least motion which they made
It seemed a thrill of pleasure.

The budding twigs spread out their fan,
To catch the breezy air;
And I must think, do all I can,
That there was pleasure there.

If this belief from heaven be sent,
If such be Nature's holy plan,
Have I not reason to lament
What man has made of man?


When despair for the world grows in me and I wake in the night
at the least sound in fear of what my life and my children's lives may be,
I go and lie down where the wood drake rests in its beauty on the water,
and the great heron feeds.  I come into the peace of wild things who do not
tax their lives with forethought of grief.  I come into the presence of still water.
And I feel above me day-blind stars waiting for their light.  For a time
I rest in the grace of the world, and am free.

Wendell Berry


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