9 January 2018      

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Create a Larger Vision for Your Life
Cheryl Richardson

I Am in Love
Thich Nhat Hanh

Control or Acceptance?
tom walsh

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Our greatest glory is not in never failing,
but in rising up every time we fail.

Ralph Waldo Emerson

Giving encouragement to others is a most welcome gift, for the results of it are lifted spirits, increased self-worth, and a hopeful future.

Florence Littauer

Poor people are not those who
are without a cent, but those
who are without a dream.

Harry Kemp


Create a Larger Vision for Your Life
Cheryl Richardson

Leading a life of meaning and purpose ultimately creates the desire and ability to make a larger contribution.  If there's one thing I've learned over the last ten years, it's that nothing can top the deeply satisfying experience of using your unique gifts to improve the world in some meaningful way.  Whether it's helping to end world hunger, raising a child to be an adult with a strong sense of integrity and character, or treating everyone you meet with dignity and grace, the role you play in making the world a better place is significant.

Now more than ever, most of us realize that we are each a part of a global community.  Each one of us has a responsibility to stay conscious of this global connection so that we may honor the dignity of all human beings. . . .

Ten years ago my first coach asked me a question that motivated me to think beyond my individual goals toward how I might create a larger vision for my life.  He said, "Cheryl, as you consider your values and the work you'd like to do in the world, what do you want for people?"  My response was immediate, "I want people to know they have a choice about how they live their lives."

Upon hearing this answer, he challenged me to be more specific.  "What do people need in order to know that they have choices?" he asked.  "Well," I replied, "They need to feel empowered.  I want people to feel empowered to make choices that will allow them to live the lives they most want to live."

Once I knew what I wanted for others, and what others needed in order to make choices in their lives, I was ready to look at how I might be of service.  What could I provide that would help people to feel empowered enough to make changes that would help people to feel empowered enough to make changes that would improve the quality of their lives?  This part was easy.  I had always been a big believer in providing simple, practical tools that helped people to make manageable changes with joy and ease.  With this in mind, I created a vision statement that continues to guide my work today.

"I want people to have the practical tools and resources they need to lead high quality, authentic lives."

When you create a larger vision for your life you consciously make a decision to think beyond yourself.  You become less concerned with individual gain and more concerned with how others will benefit from your actions.  This does not mean that you become selfless or that your needs no longer matter.  On the contrary, it's imperative that you take good care of yourself so that your giving comes from a pure place--a healthy place without attachment to what you'll get in return.  This is when service becomes a sacred experience.

When you make a choice to be of service to others, you gain the courage and sense of determination that will fuel your efforts.  With a solid vision in place, you also become less concerned with your individual fear or self-doubt and more committed to taking the actions that will support your larger vision. . . .

To create a larger vision for yourself, you need to identify how you would most want to improve the quality of life for others.  If you could give the people of the world a gift, what would you give them?  If you could heal the world of some malady, what would you heal?  If you could contribute to others in your community, what would that contribution be?  What do you want for others?

more on serving others


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I Am in Love
Thich Nhat Hanh

Every morning in winter when I wake up, I put on some warm clothes and go out to take a walk around the Upper Hamlet.  It is usually still dark outside, and I walk gently, in touch with the nature all around me, the sky, the moon, and the stars.  One time, after walking, I came back to my hut and wrote this sentence:  "I am in love with Mother Earth."  I was as excited as a young man who had fallen in love.  My heart was beating with excitement.  It is true--as soon as I even just think about going outside to walk on the Earth and enjoy nature, her beauties and wonders, my heart is already filled with joy.  The Earth gives me so much.  I am so in love with her.  It's a wonderful love--there is no betrayal.  We entrust our heart to the Earth, and she entrusts herself to us, with her whole being.

Mother Earth is real.  She is a living reality that you can touch, taste, smell, hear, and see.  She has given us life.  And when we die, we'll go back to her, and she'll bring us life time and time again.  There are people who have lost hope, who are tired of life on Earth, and who pray to be reborn elsewhere, in a heaven where there is no suffering.  And yet they're not even sure whether such a place really exists.  Astronomers have been able to look at many distant galaxies using powerful telescopes, but they haven't found anything as beautiful as this planet Earth.  Where else would you want to go when Mother Earth is so beautiful, and always ready to embrace you and welcome you home?

I have learned that my home, my country, is the whole planet Earth.  I do not limit my love to a tiny piece of land in Asia, Vietnam.  I have experienced a lot of transformation and healing thanks to this insight.  If your love is still too small, you have to enlarge your heart.  Your love has to embrace the whole planet Earth.

Real change will only happen when we fall in love with our planet.  Only love can show us how to live in harmony with nature and each other and save us from suffering the devastating effects of climate change.  When we recognize the virtues and talents of the Earth, we feel connected to her, and love is born.  We want to be connected.  That is the meaning of love:  to be at one.  When you love someone, you want to take care of them as you would take care of yourself.  When we love the Earth like this, it's a reciprocated love.  We'll do anything for the benefit of the Earth, and the Earth will do anything for our well-being.

more on Earth


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Life has no other discipline to impose, if we would but realize it,
than to accept life unquestioningly.  Everything we shut our eyes
to, everything we run away from, everything we deny, denigrate,
or despise, serves to defeat us in the end.  What seems nasty,
painful, evil, can become a source of beauty, joy, and strength, if
faced with an open mind.  Every moment is a golden one for those
who have the vision to recognize it as such.

Henry Miller



Control or Acceptance?

Here's an interesting question to ask yourself:  are you here on this planet to control others and try to make them into the people you think they should be, or are you here to accept others exactly as they are and possibly learn important lessons from them?

This is an especially important question for parents, who spend tons of time trying to modify the behavior of their children so that their kids won't "embarrass" them in public, so that they'll follow social conventions and not cause too many problems.

But are our attempts to control the behavior and the perspectives of our children about helping our children to become better people and unique individuals, or are they about making our own lives a bit easier?

Are you going to learn important lessons about life and living from someone who's doing everything the ways that other people want them to?  Or could it be possible that you can learn important lessons from someone who not only is different from you, but who also believes things that completely contradict your own beliefs, who does things that you believe are completely wrong, who says things that offend you or make you uncomfortable?


Be not angry that you cannot make others as you wish them
to be, since you cannot make yourself as you wish to be.

Thomas Kempis

I knew a parent once who made that statement that "any child of mine who doesn't believe in God is dead to me."  He made the statement when one of his kids was feeling very strong doubts about religion and the existence of God.  His statement was an attempt at control--"if my love means anything to you," he implied, "you'll continue to believe in God.  I can control you through my threats."  What he didn't understand was that we can't control things like other people's beliefs, and so his statement turned out to be little more than a harsh push out of his life for his child, and it resulted in years of separation and animosity.

We are not here to control other human beings.  We're here to accept them, exactly as they are.  That's what love is all about--I love you, so I accept you just as you are.  Yet we still see many people attempting to control others--especially their children--and continue to say that they're trying to get them to do things their way because they love them.

Of course, there are certain things that make sense to have some control over.  Young people tend to be impulsive, and very often they regret their impulsiveness later, so there are certain ways we can help them to avoid that regret.  I wouldn't let a 14-year-old get a tattoo, for example, not because I don't think that he or she should have one, but because that's something that easily can wait until they've had plenty of time to think about it, and it's a decision that's best made with a few more years under one's belt.  It's also important to set controls on things like the amount of time a child can spend in front of a screen each day, as that child still hasn't learned the benefit of learning from the world and actually spending time with other people.  Bedtimes, too, are important, as many young people don't understand the importance of sufficient rest for their health--mental, physical, and emotional.

Probably the wisest words that were ever uttered to me.  Came from
a therapist.  I was sitting in her office, crying my eyes out. . . and she
said, "So let me get this straight.  You base your personal
happiness on things entirely out of your control."

Laura Munson

But we cross important lines of control when we tell our offspring that they're going to be a lawyer or a doctor, or else.  If our teenage daughter tells us that she wants to be an artist and all we can say in response is that artists don't make enough money, then we're trying to get that child to reject a passion that she feels because we don't think it will be good for her future.  What would be the difference between that sort of response and a response that says, "Okay--that sounds wonderful!  We'll help you out in whatever ways we can"?  Are we trying to discourage her because we're afraid that we'll end up having to help too much, or because we think she'll be unhappy in her chosen field?  Discouragement is an insidious form of control because it's often dishonest--"That's a bad idea because" is often code for "I want you to do something else because."

It can be very difficult to accept another person, and to accept the fact that he or she has very different thoughts and opinions from us.  They may support a different political party; they may have a different perspective on things like sex, morality, ethics, or values; they may speak differently, using more vulgarity or a higher register of language; they may treat other people differently, be poor tippers, or take things for granted that we appreciate dearly.  But that's who they are, isn't it?  Is it our job to accept them as they are, or to change them into what we think they should be?

Of course, there's nothing wrong with suggesting changes.  Some of my students do things and say things that are going to cause them difficulties later in life.  They may have a certain habit that's going to hurt them in interpersonal relationships, and I would be remiss in my duties if I were never to let them know of the possible negative effects of what they're doing.  But when I mention it to them, I'm careful to make sure that they know that I'm not trying to tell them what to say or how to say it--I'm simply letting them know that their current way of doing things may lead to negative results.  And then I let go--it's now their decision whether they want to make changes or not, and I'll still accept them for who they are no matter what they decide.

Most of us crave control.  We think we'd find lasting happiness
if only others would do what we want.  But wringing our hands
over their independence won't change anything.  On the contrary,
addressing our own behavior, our own thinking, our own attitudes
can encourage the very behavior we tried to demand all along.

Karen Casey

There are things that we can control in life.  We can control how many cookies we eat today, how much money we spend on hobbies or vacations or cars, whether we spend time reading or watching television.  But when other people are a part of our lives, it's important for us to keep in mind that they are unique individuals who are craving acceptance--unconditional acceptance.  Unfortunately, most of us accept others only conditionally.  "I'll accept you if. . ." has become the norm for most of us.  This is not a good thing, especially if we're craving acceptance ourselves--how do we feel when others treat us the same way, when they accept us only upon the condition that we change ourselves or act in ways that we don't normally act?

We can be extremely positive influences on other people, but we have to build a base upon which that influence will thrive.  If you accept me as I am, then when you tell me about something that I may want to change in my life, I'll know that you're trying to help me, not trying to control me.  If I feel, though, that your acceptance is conditional, then I'm simply going to think, "Here goes this person trying to tell me what to do again."  And your suggestion--or attempt to control--will be not only ineffective, but also probably destructive to our relationship.

Other people have so much to offer us if we only take them as they are and actually listen to what they have to teach us--whether we agree with them or not.  If you want positive influences in your life, keep in mind they're already there--you just have to choose to pay attention to them and remember that they are who they are, and that's okay.

More on control.

more on acceptance


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To be able to forgive, we must come down from the citadel of pride, from the stronghold of hate and anger, from the high place where all emotions that issue from one's sense of being wronged shout only for vengeance and retaliation.

John Hess

Once upon a time there was a king who ruled a small kingdom.  It wasn't great, and it wasn't really known for any of its resources or people.  But the king did have a diamond, a great perfect diamond that had been in his family for generations.  He kept it on display for all to see and appreciate.  People came from all over the country to admire it and gaze at it.

Then one day a soldier came to the king with the news that, although no one had touched the diamond, for it was guarded day and night, the diamond was cracked.  The king ran to see, and sure enough there was a crack right through the middle of the diamond.

Immediately he summoned all of the jewelers of the land and had them look at the diamond.  One after another they examined the diamond and gave the bad news to the king:  the diamond was useless; it was irredeemably flawed.  The king was crushed, so were the people.  Somehow they felt they had lost everything.

Then out of nowhere came an old man who claimed to be a jeweler.  He asked to see the diamond.  After examining it, he looked up and confidently told the king, "I can fix it.  In fact, I can make it better than it was before."  The king was shocked and a bit leery.  The old man said, "Give me the jewel, and in a week I'll bring it back fixed."  Now the king was not about to let the stone out of his sight, even if it was ruined, so he gave the old man a room, all the tools and food and drink he needed, and he waited.  It was a long week.

At the end of the week the old man appeared with the stone in his hand and gave it to the king.  The king couldn't believe his eyes.  It was magnificent.  The old man had fixed it, and he had made it better than it was before!  He had used the crack that ran through the middle of the stone as a stem and carved an intricate, full-blown rose, leaves, and thorns into the diamond.  It was exquisite.

The king was overjoyed and offered the old man half his kingdom.  He had taken something beautiful and perfect and improved upon it!  But the old man refused in front of everyone, saying, "I didn't do that at all.  What I did was take something flawed and cracked at its heart and turn it into something beautiful."

Megan McKenna


Sometimes it rains on the just.  I believe that.
Sometimes it rains on the unjust.  I believe that, too.
But I also believe that sometimes it just rains.
Neither God nor Justice nor belief has anything to do with it.





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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