30 January 2018      

Welcome to the end of January!  We're going to do our best
to make sure that we end this month well--we have two days
to add to the world in positive ways in January, and we're going
to try to make those days count by giving lots of encouragement,
help, and compliments.  Perhaps you could join us in the effort. . . .

Retrain Your Mind
Cheryl Richardson

What Do You Want?
Jack Canfield

What We're No Longer Learning
tom walsh

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You had better live your best and act your best and think your best today; for today is the sure preparation for tomorrow and all the other tomorrows that follow.

Harriet Martineau

Those who smile rather than rage
are always the stronger.

Japanese Proverb

Compassion is not religious business, it is human business; it is not luxury, it is essential for our own peace and mental stability; it is essential for human survival.

the Dalai Lama

The mediocre teacher tells. The good teacher
explains. The superior teacher demonstrates.
The great teacher inspires.

William Arthur Ward


Retrain Your Mind
Cheryl Richardson

I remember hearing years ago a story about Mark Victor Hansen, one of the creators of the Chicken Soup for the Soul series.  Mark would write down one of his goals in detail on two index cards and keep one in his wallet and one on his bathroom mirror to help him focus on his goals.  When getting ready to start the day, or when removing money from his wallet, he would visualize himself as having already achieved his goal as soon as he spotted the card.  When I heard about his technique I decided to use it in a different way.

I bought a pack of little red heart stickers an placed them at various spots in my home--on the refrigerator door, by the kitchen sink, on the bathroom mirror, or anywhere else that would cause me to see them on a regular basis.  Each time I came in contact with a heart I stopped to check in with my thoughts to be sure that they were supporting my emotional well-being.  This constructive method, albeit simple, helped to train my mind to follow my heart's direction.

My friend Charles Poliquin, a strength coach who trains professional athletes, has a similar approach.  When he helps clients get into winning shape he has them imagine their body at its optimum fitness level.  When there, he then has them create an affirmation to support this vision.  Once his clients have developed a firm vision of their success, Charles instructs them to purchase a package of at least five hundred toothpicks.  The clients then use these toothpicks by shifting them one at a time from one pocket to another while repeating their affirmation an visualizing their fitness goal.

When a client has gone through one whole package, he has them repeat the process one more time.  Charles has learned from experience that it takes one thousand reps to set the vision firmly in the client's mind.

Retraining your mind ensures that you use your power wisely.  To determine the quality of your thoughts you need only pay attention to your emotions.  Your feelings always follow your thought patterns.  For example, I've learned to stop and ask myself the following question the moment I feel a sense of disharmony:

Does this way of thinking serve me?

If my way of thinking does not support my emotional health, I immediately shift my thoughts to something that does.  For example, I might focus on a specific word like "balance" or "love," or I might use a phrase like "move on" or "all is well."  Rather than trying to figure out why I'm not feeling well, I simply focus my energy on raising my thoughts to a level of health an well-being that serves me.  Long ago I learned an important lesson about dealing with negativity from a meditation teacher.  She used the following analogy:  "Imagine your mind as a beautiful antique cup.  When this cup is filled with negative thoughts, trying to remove them will waste precious energy an only give them more power.  Instead, put your energy into filling the cup with positive thoughts so that the negativity just spills out."  So when I'm feeling frustrated, down, or filled with self-doubt, I have three or four favorite books that I turn to when I want a dose of inspiration or power-inducing thoughts!

Decide on a daily practice that you'll use to retrain your mind.  Purchase a package of stickers or toothpicks to get you started.  As simple as this exercise may sound, those who do it can attest to how effective it is.  Keep a couple of your favorite books nearby, too.  The goal is to take charge of your mind!

More on positive thinking


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What Do You Want?
Jack Canfield

People who have achieved their goals knew what they wanted in the first place.  They decided what to go after, and they went after it.  One of the most compelling reasons why people do not get what they want is that they never decided what they wanted!  They never defined the desires of their hearts in complete detail.

Why donít you know what you want?  Why isnít it spelled out in detail in your mind?   Most likely, it is because you have lost touch with the desires of your heart.  You were probably taught that you couldnít have whatever you wanted.  You were probably taught that it was more important to do what made other people happy.  Seeking your happiness was considered selfish, so you learned not to define your happiness.  Now, you find yourself completely unaware of what your preferences are, how you really want to live your life, and what your goals are for your life.

Take back your life!  Start honoring your preferences, no matter how small they seem.  Even if you donít know what you prefer, pretend you do, and make a decision. Youíll be more keenly aware of whether that decision made you happy or not and you will learn your preferences!

Commit to this new belief:  You deserve to have everything exactly the way you want it.  Make it a priority to begin to know your wants and desires.  Start simple by making a list of things you want to do and things you want to have.  Keep writing until you find some of your core values, such as wanting to have loving relationships, to make a difference in your world or to be financially secure.

Think of what you love to do with your time.  Write down several things that you love to do, and then make a list of all the ways you can think of to be making a living doing those things.  Create a detailed description of the vision you have for your ideal life.  Donít limit yourself.  Dream as big as you possibly can from your perspective right now.

In detail, what is going on in the financial area of your life?  How much money do you make?  How much do you have in savings and investments?  What about your real estate?  What kind of house or houses do you own?  Create detailed visions of all the major areas of your life, your ideal career, your recreation time, your ideal body and physical health, your relationships with family and friends, your spiritual life, and the community in which you live.  Create and write down your ideal vision for each area and review it on a daily basis.

All you have to do at this point is clarify your vision to yourself.  Donít worry about how it will happen right now.  Once you have a clear picture of what you want going through your mind, the steps and opportunities to get it will appear.  When you have completed your ideal vision of your life, share it with a supportive friend.  Donít let anyone talk you out of it!  More than likely, they want the same thing for themselves but believe itís impossible.  Deciding what you want is the first step to getting what you want.  Donít put off creating your vision!

* * * * *

Reprinted with permission from the Jim Rohn Weekly Newsletter.

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To love solitude and to seek it does not mean constantly traveling
from one geographical possibility to another.  A person becomes a
solitary at the moment when, no matter what may be one's external
surroundings, one is suddenly aware of one's own inalienable solitude
and sees that he or she will never be anything but solitary.  From that
moment, solitude is not potential--it is actual.

Thomas Merton



What We're No Longer Learning

As I observe the people around me and see the things that they're doing and not doing, I can't help but notice that the lives of the children that I see have changed significantly since the days when I was a child.  I don't see kids going outdoors as much anymore, and I don't see them learning to do things like cooking and fixing things that are broken in the house.  I don't see them having the chance to build a dam outside that will stop the rainwater that's flowing down the gutter, and I don't see them making their own kites or other toys that could help them to learn some very important things about life.

My childhood was far from an ideal one, yet there were many aspects of it that were extremely positive and that have helped me greatly in later years.  For one thing, I was usually on my own when I was young, so I had tons and tons of learning to do.  I explored and I found things and I got into some awkward situations that took some thought and creativity to get out of.  I learned how to build forts, in the process learning what kinds of materials work well and which kinds don't, which kinds of locations are good and which aren't.  I learned how to get in and out of trouble by myself, and those lessons have gone a long way towards keeping me out of trouble in later years--I learned that all of my decisions have results.


Play is often talked about as if it were a relief from
serious learning.  But for children, play is serious
learning.  Play is really the work of childhood.

Fred Rogers

The most important thing to me, though, was that I was out in the world, interacting with the world and its people, learning from the mud and the dirt and the trees and the people in shops and on street corners.  I learned from experience more than any other source, even though I was pretty good in school.  And my experiences were incredibly varied and rich in content, and they taught me lasting lessons that I still remember decades later.

When I look around myself at the world today, though, and I think about the young people who have been students in my classes over the years, I notice that most of them really don't have a broad set of experiences that will benefit them in the future.  The learning that they do tends to come from two main sources--school and screens, be they television, video game, phone, or computer screens.  And the lessons they learn, therefore, are almost never first-hand lessons that are based on their own experiences; rather, they're learning second-hand lessons that are being passed on--often ineffectively--by others who have written the scripts or games that the young people are exposed to.

We should come home from adventures,
and perils, and discoveries every day
with new experience and character.

Henry David Thoreau

When young people have a question now, independent research is out of the question for most of them--why would they pick up a book and find something out if they can just type a question into a search engine?  Why would they try to make their own boat out of cast-off materials if they can play a video game?  Why would they learn about their own limits of tolerance of cold and heat when the rooms that their TV sets are in are always at a comfortable 70 degrees?

The hard part for me is watching these young people be sabotaged in their lives by the very people who say that they want the best for their children.  Parents think that they're doing the best thing by making sure that their kids have new phones and computers and gaming systems, but what they're really doing is keeping the kids from learning through experience--mostly because these kids spend so much time in front of screens that they don't have time to have their own experiences.

Our young people don't play enough any more--they don't spend time outdoors with their friends learning about the world they live in.  Sometimes it's because parents are so worried that their children won't get into the right schools that they insist that their kids spend time studying and practicing instruments or participating in organized sports, which are a highly stressful environment that resembles play only in the very basic elements of the sport.  Sometimes kids don't play because the parents are worried about them being kidnapped or murdered, so they don't even let them out of the house on their own.  Sometimes the parents just don't care, and they let their kids do whatever they want, even if that means plopping themselves down in front of a screen for hours on end.

Our young also don't read nearly enough any more.  After all, why would they read when there are so many movies to watch and video games to play, not to mention everything that's available on the Internet.  With so much time spent looking at screens of varying sizes, who has time to look at pieces of paper with ink on them?  And when they do read, very often they choose books that are simply commercial fluff, books that have no real story and nothing special to say, rather than books that will make them think and help them to learn.  A good book can spark the imagination and cause a young person to feel great compassion for the characters, and they can also teach about processes and the value of working towards goals and being patient enough to make it to the end of the story to find out what happens!

Trees and stones will teach you that which
you can never learn from masters.

Bernard of Clairvaux

If I'm an employer, I want people working for me who are able to think for themselves, and who are able to come up with creative solutions to any problems that we might meet.  I want that person who as a kid built his or her own rocket ship in the back yard, even if that rocket wasn't exactly a rousing success.  I want working for me the people who learned just how quickly a stream of water will break through a weak dam, and who were able to find other materials on their own that stopped the flow of water and created a tiny lake in the gutter.  I want that person who spent time on the front porch listening to Grandpa or Grandma's stories, and in doing so learned about patience and compassion and caring for and about other people.

Our screens really teach us nothing--they only pass on information.  But our young people haven't grown enough to know that for themselves yet--they need us to tell them the importance of thinking for themselves and growing greatly as a person.  I hope that somehow, we're able to help our young people to know the difference between knowing information and true learning about life, for if no one helps them to learn this very important lesson, their futures don't look nearly as bright as they could.

More on learning.



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If you're having difficulty coming up with new ideas, then slow down.  For me, slowing down has been a tremendous source of creativity.  It has allowed me to open up--to know that there's life under the earth and that I have to let it come through me in a new way.  Creativity exists in the present moment.  You can't find it anywhere else.

Natalie Goldberg

In a moment of deep inner silence, I heard a gentle voice whisper:  "Beloved, dare to make the break out of the lonely crowd.  There is a wonderful plan for your life.  A magnificent purpose resounds through your unfoldment.  Release and let go of your outdated and outworn self!  Dare to be reborn in the brilliance of the freedom of Spirit, filled and motivated with universal energy flowing direct from the heart of God."

Fascinated, I listened:  "Beloved, dare to lose old patterns of expression, old habits of weakness and death, old memories of destruction.  Dare to witness the activity of divine love expressing through you as perfect life as it restores, rejuvenates, and regenerates every cell of your being!  Live in the wholeness of spirit, and direct your light essence for the healing and uplifting of the world."

Wow!  I wondered, do I dare?  The voice continued:  "Beloved, go beyond your present understanding.  Exceed your now consciousness of Truth.  Be fully immersed in your divine blueprint through all good. . . on earth as it is in heaven.  You carry within the keys to the kingdom.  Use them to open all doors of joyous expression and to direct the wonder and effectiveness of the spiritual gifts you possess into your working knowledge."

In expectation, I remained silent, listening.

"Beloved, dedicate yourself to love.  Watch as love dissolves undesirable situations, unwanted circumstances, and all thoughts and feelings of negative nature.  Dare to be magnificent!  Dare to be a self-renewing temple of the living God!  Dare to be beauty, harmony, light, and music as I created you to be!  Remember, I have loved you with an everlasting love!"

Joy filled my heart as I asked:  "Who are you?  Who is saying this to me?"

And from infinity within came the answer, "I am!"

Cristina Carlino
The Rainbow Connection


Learn to get in touch with silence within yourself and know that
everything in this life has a purpose.  There are no mistakes and
no coincidences; all events are blessings given to us to learn from.

Elisabeth Kuebler-Ross




A new way of reading has been here for a while now.  And while we still love our books, if you're like many people, you get tired of lugging around the books that sometimes weigh more than anything else we carry.  Imagine carrying hundreds of books--novels, self-help, history, travel, you name it--and reading them comfortably on a no-glare screen, setting things like text size to your own preferences.  It's a great experience, and it's available to us now for less than the cost of ten books.  And there are plenty of free books to download, especially timeless classics--you can easily get enough free books to pay for the Kindle.  Give yourself the gift of wonderful literature that you can easily bring with you, wherever you go!

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