8 August 2017      

Our newest week is upon us, and we find ourselves in the midst of it,
doing the best that we can to do things well and to take care of ourselves
and the people we love.  We hope that you're able to make a significant
contribution to the world today, no matter how small it may seem to be!

Being Together
Joan Duncan Oliver

Think of What You Have
Richard Carlson

Kindness
tom walsh

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Good people are good because they've come to wisdom through failure.  We get very little wisdom from success, you know.

William Saroyan

Many persons have a wrong idea of what constitutes true happiness.  It is not attained through self-gratification but through fidelity to a worthy purpose.

Helen Keller

Resolve to be tender with the young, compassionate with the aged, sympathetic with the striving, and tolerant with the weak and the wrong.  Sometime in life you will have been all of these.

Lloyd Shearer

  
Being Together
How to Live in Harmony with Everything
Joan Duncan Oliver

Science and spirit agree:  we exist in a web of interrelationship.  Humanity is but one strand in the vast network of animals, plants, mountains, oceans, and air comprising our earthly home.  Our well-being depends on courtesy to one another, our survival on global care.  Karma turns on respect.

Common courtesy seems to have vanished.  Take cellphones--nobody can talk on them without disturbing everyone around them.  Surely this lack of consideration is bad karma.

It's hard to put a karmic price on technology, but if we could, cellphone use would run high.  Bad phone manners aren't a crime, but they brutalize quality of life.  What to do about that is another matter.  We don't seem to realize how far our voices carry or how oblivious we are when we take calls while driving or walking down the street.  One thing you can do is be mindful of your own cellphone use.  If we were all as careful as we'd like others to be, a more responsive ethic would emerge.  In the meantime, use any creative means you can think of to bring cellphone users to their senses--humor, surprise.  And don't underestimate the power of group pressure.  On a bus recently a phone user was being so obtrusive that another passenger finally yelled at him to pipe down.  The entire bus broke out in applause, and the man slunk off at the next stop.  

We also need to lobby for more cellphone-free areas and promote those that already exist, such as airplanes and "quiet cars" on trains.  As Christine Rosen of the Ethics and Public Policy Center has suggested, "We need to approach our personal technologies with a greater awareness of how the pursuit of personal convenience can contribute to collective ills."

Cellphone misuse is only one example of what seems to be a widespread lack of awareness.  In the city where I live, parents use baby strollers like battering rams to shove their way through crowds.  And their kids?  They run amok in stores, in restaurants, on public transportation.  But if you say anything to the parents, they accuse you of being anti-child.

Counterattack is a common ploy we all use to divert attention from our own behavior.  But before you take parents to task, remember that most of them regard any criticism of their children's behavior as a personal insult, as well as an assault on them and their parenting skills.  Use diplomacy in such situations.  Children are easily distracted, so sometimes all it takes to quiet them is to redirect their attention.  Parents are less likely to take offense if your intervention is matter-of-fact and non-judgmental.

Easier said than done.  Manners are a lost art nowadays.  Sometimes it's hard to have a civil exchange.  We demand respect from one another and get mad if we don't get it.  What's the answer?

Put simply, we have to realize that, friend or enemy, we're all connected and that civility is our only shot at not destroying one another.  The upside to the current manners crisis is that a new field is emerging--etiquette counseling--and etiquette courses are even cropping up in colleges.  Clients for this new brand of coaching include everyone from upwardly mobile executives to children whose parents lack the patience--or know-how--to pass along basic social skills.

Every culture has rules for proper behavior.  What's de rigueur might vary from one place to another, but prominent on every list is courtesy.  Mystic and author Andrew Harvey notes that the Sufi code of conduct, adab, rests on what one scholar described as a "profound courtesy of the heart that arises from a deep relationship with the divine and expresses itself in refined behavior of all kinds with other beings."  A person with adab shows "tenderness toward all creation," Harvey adds.

That sounds like a recipe for good karma.  But doesn't "tenderness for all creation" have a limit?  Would it mean, for instance, that I couldn't bring sand home from the beach for my son's aquarium because doing so would diminish the environment?

If everyone who went to the beach brought home a bucket of sand, the beaches of the world might indeed be diminished.  But the oceans are continually grinding up shells and stones to create new sand.  Earth replenished herself as long as we don't interfere too much.  The problem, of course, is that we've already interfered way too much, defiling the natural world and exhausting its resources, collectively accumulating very bad karma as a result.

What's the solution?  We can't stop consuming altogether.

It comes back to respect, to a basic regard for one another and for everything--animal, vegetable, and mineral--on the planet.  When we truly grasp our interdependence, we find it hard to ignore the fate of a seagull or a stone or a Dinka tribesman.
   
   

Karma has become a buzzword for fate—a glib way to explain away everyday calamities, disappointments, and triumphs. But, in fact, karma—which means “action” in Sanskrit—involves free will and conscious choice. It’s a fundamental concept in Eastern thought, with an underlying principle similar to the law of cause and effect: everything we say and do has consequences.
Good Karma shows us how to take responsibility for our words and deeds, to listen to what our conscience is telling us, and to behave in ways that won’t undermine our prospects for happiness. 

   

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Think of What You Have (an excerpt)
Richard Carlson

In over a dozen years as a stress consultant, one of the most pervasive and destructive mental tendencies I've seen is that of focusing on what we want instead of what we have.  It doesn't seem to make any difference how much we have; we just keep expanding our list of desires, which guarantees we will remain dissatisfied.  The mind-set that says "I'll be happy when this desire is fulfilled" is the same mind-set that will repeat itself once that desire is met.

A friend of ours closed escrow on his new home on a Sunday.  The very next time we saw him he was talking about his next house that was going to be even bigger!  He isn't alone.  Most of us do the very same thing.  We want this or that.  If we don't get what we want we keep thinking about all that we don't have--and we remain dissatisfied.  If we do get what we want, we simply re-create the same thinking in our new circumstances.  So, despite getting what we want, we still remain unhappy.  Happiness can't be found when we are yearning for new desires.

Luckily, there is a way to be happy.  It involves changing the emphasis of our thinking from what we want to what we have.  Rather than wishing your spouse were different, try thinking about her wonderful qualities.  Instead of complaining about your salary, be grateful that you have a job.  Rather than wishing you were able to take a vacation to Hawaii, think of how much fun you have had close to home.  The list of possibilities is endless!

Each time you notice yourself falling into the "I wish life were different" trap, back off and start over.  Take a breath and remember all that you have to be grateful for.  When you focus not on what you want, but on what you have, you end up getting more of what you want anyway.  If you focus on the good qualities of your spouse, she'll be more loving.  If you are grateful for your job rather than complaining about it, you'll do a better job, be more productive, and probably end up getting a raise anyway.  If you focus on ways to enjoy yourself around home rather than than waiting to enjoy yourself in Hawaii, you'll end up having more fun.  If you ever do get to Hawaii, you'll be in the habit of enjoying yourself.  And, if by some chance you don't, you'll have a great life anyway.

Make a note to yourself to start thinking more about what you have than what you want.  If you do, your life will start appearing much better than before.  For perhaps the first time in your life, you'll know what it means to feel satisfied.
   

Don't Sweat the Small Stuff. . . and It's All Small Stuff is a book that tells you how to keep from letting the little things in life drive you crazy. In thoughtful and insightful language, author Richard Carlson reveals ways to calm down in the midst of your incredibly hurried, stress-filled life. You can learn to put things into perspective by making the small daily changes Dr. Carlson suggests, including advice such as "Choose your battles wisely"; "Remind yourself that when you die, your 'in' box won't be empty"; and "Make peace with imperfection."

   

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Cease trying to work everything out with your minds.  It will get
you nowhere.  Live by intuition and inspiration and let your
whole life be Revelation.

Eileen Caddy

   

 
Kindness

There are few things that can make us feel better about ourselves than kindness.  Obviously, then, kindness is an extremely important element of living our lives fully and completely, for our kindness can contribute greatly to the quality of the lives of others, as well as to the quality of our own lives.  Most people do desire to be kind, I believe, but find it far too easy to neglect kindness because it's so often "inconvenient" to show kindness to our fellow human beings and everything else on this planet.  Often, we don't think of the kind act until the opportunity to show it has passed, such as when we see someone with their arms full of packages finally open that door, and realize that it would have been very easy for us to open that door for that person.

For my part, I find that I neglect kindness far too often.  My mind gets caught up with my responsibilities and obligations, and I end up not taking advantage of some very straightforward opportunities to show kindness to others.  Sometimes it's easier to give a stock answer than it is to give a kind answer, and sometimes I just don't look hard enough to realize that a certain person really could use some kindness from any source--and here I am, perfectly capable of showing just what they need.

The truth is, of course, that all of us can use kindness in our lives, probably much more than we actually receive it.  But since we grow used to getting by without it, we tell ourselves that it isn't really necessary, and that we can get by fine without it.  Yes, we definitely can survive without people showing us kindness, but are our lives as rich as they could be without the kindness of others?  And if our lives would be enriched by the kindness of others, what effects would our kindness have on the lives of other people in our lives?
   

All the kindness which a person puts out into the world
works on the heart and thoughts of humankind.

Albert Schweitzer

   
We have the power to make this world a more positive place by putting out more positive thoughts and energy into the world, and kindness is one of the best means for doing so.  The kindnesses do not have to be huge--we can show great kindness by helping someone with a task, by allowing someone into the flow of traffic, by complimenting them on something that we know they're proud of, by telling them that we're glad we know them.  We don't have to pay off their student loans or their cars, and we don't have to lie to them to make them feel better about something.  But the positive that we put into the world does work on other people's thoughts and hearts, as Albert says, and if we choose not to contribute to that part of the world, we choose not to add to the positive part of the world.

But since kindness is free and it doesn't force us to make any obligations, why would we hesitate to show it?
    

Our conduct, the way we act, may be similar to a boomerang--
especially loving acts of kindness.  For kindness has a way of
returning to those who express it to others. . . . It is the truly brave,
the truly great, the truly unafraid who often exhibit the greatest
kindness in their activities.

John Marks Templeton

    
Many people have written about the reciprocal nature of kindness, too, the way that things that we put into the world tend to come back to us.  Some call it Karma, but no matter what you call it, don't you think it would be a good idea to be sending kindness into the world so that kindness will come back to you?  Now, there are those people who think that for every act of kindness they show, they should see an immediate and obvious return to them.  Those people lead frustrating lives, though, for they're really not going to see immediately the kindness that comes back to them.  I've done kind things and I haven't seen any sort of return on my act for weeks on end, but that's okay--I look at it as kind of a bank account, and even if the next six weeks are filled with negative things, I know for sure that eventually, the kindness and positive energy will make its way back to me, and the more I've put out there, the more will come back to me.

Heck, sometimes it takes years, but those years of problems are simply years of building character, and when the kindness does work back to you, it truly is beautiful to witness and experience.
   

A single act of kindness may have a long trajectory and touch
those we will never meet or see.  Something that we casually
offer may move through a web of connection far beyond ourselves
to have effects that we may have never imagined. And so each of
us may have left far more behind us than we may ever know.


Rachel Naomi Remen

   
When I was in driver's education classes, we were taught regularly that "courtesy is contagious," in an effort to turn us into courteous--and thus safe-- drivers.  Kindness, too, can be very contagious, and there usually is no way of knowing whether or not a kindness that we've shown has been passed on.  If I help you carry something to your car, you may be more inclined to leave a more generous tip when you stop for lunch.  That's okay, though--we don't need to know what someone else does after we show kindness.  We need to know only that we're capable of showing even more kindness.  One thing that we can be sure of is that if we don't show kindness, there's absolutely no chance for us to leave behind anything positive with others, and thus there's no chance of it being passed on.

One day, when we're closer to death than we are now, how many of us will look back on our lives and say, "I could have been kinder--I had so many opportunities to show kindness that I never took advantage of."  And won't that be a shame if we end up that way?

There really is only one way to allow kindness to have a positive effect on our lives, and to allow kindness to be a part of our efforts to live our lives fully.  And that way is, of course, to be kind.  To show kindness whenever and wherever we can, and not to care at all if people reciprocate in a like manner.  We have no control over their actions, only ours--and we can make sure that ours are kind.

   
More on kindness.

   

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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The world has a way of giving
what is demanded of it.  If you are
frightened and look for failure
and poverty, you will get them,
no matter how hard you may try
to succeed.  Lack of faith in
yourself, in what life will do
for you, cuts you off from the
good things of the world.
Expect victory
and you make victory.

Preston Bradley

  
Be a Positive Thinker
Pamela Owens Renfro

Remember. . . there is a deeper strength
and an amazing abundance of peace
available to you.
Draw from this well;
call on your faith to uphold you.
You will make it through this time
and find joy in life again.

Life continues around us,
even when our troubles seem to stop time.
There is good in life every day.
Take a few minutes to distract yourself
from your concerns--
long enough to draw strength from a tree
or to find pleasure in a bird's song.

Return a smile;
realize that life is a series of levels,
cycles of ups and downs--
some easy, some challenging.
Through it all, we learn;
we grow strong in faith;
we mature in understanding.
The difficult times are often
the best teachers, and there is
good to be found in all situations.
Reach for the good.
Be strong, and don't give up.
   

  

The worst thing in your life may contain seeds of the best.
When you can see crisis as an opportunity,
your life becomes not easier, but more satisfying.

Joe Kogel

    

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