Two Companion States



…to be alive on another Monday…

…to have great health…

…to have a son I am proud of…

…to have the love of a beautiful woman in an honest “no secrets” relationship…

…to be completely in love with the woman who loves me…

…the wisdom and desire to make my love relationship really work, no matter what…

…to live in a home I enjoy very much…

…to make a home with the woman who has my heart…

…to have good friends…

…for the pretty bushes, trees, flowers and grass in the yard…

…for the light rain coming down today…

…for a new car ( to me) that I love to drive …

…to have a healthy curiosity and desire to learn, to know, to experience…

…to be where I am today knowing every heartache had a hand in shaping my path…

…to believe there is a God takes care of me even though I don’t understand God…

…to love living even on the most difficult of days…

…to laugh more than I ever have…

…to have a life filled with possibility…

…for all the people who take the time to read my ramblings…

…for a full pantry and fridge…

…for music that is almost always playing in the background…

…to be happy…

…and the greatest amount of hope for the future I have ever had!

Being consciously grateful is essential to a happy life. It keeps you positive and optimistic, which are two of the most important things you can be. Never forget that you get what you give, and being a positive person will bring more positive people, events and opportunities into your life. If you honestly think there is nothing to be thankful for in your life, you’re not trying hard enough. Marissa A. Ross

I am filled with happiness and gratitude; two companion states of being that almost ensure a good life. They are powerful weapons against depression, lack, uncertainty, difficulty, sadness and grief. Being happy and glad with gratitude unlocks the bounty of life.

Walk as if you are
kissing the Earth with your feet.
Thích Nhất Hạnh

A Two-Edge Sword


Hatred is like a long, dark shadow.
Not even the person it falls upon knows
where it comes from, in most cases.
It is like a two-edged sword.
When you cut the other person, you cut yourself.
The more violently you hack at the other person,
the more violently you hack at yourself. It can often be fatal.
But it is not easy to dispose of.
Please be careful… It is very dangerous.
Once it has taken root in your heart,
hatred is the most difficult thing in the world to shake off.
From The Wind-Up Bird Chronicle” by Haruki Murakami

Made Doing The Right Thing Look Cool

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shirley temple memorial statement copy


Shirley Temple Black died Monday and finding out today touched me more deeply than I would have imagined. She was grown and her child-star movies were old by the time I was born, but I came to know them well as TV movies. Every Shirley Temple movie was “G rated” and more wholesome than a typical Disney family movie.

She was called “American’s Little Darling” for a good reason; she deserved it and was adored by kids and adults alike. President Franklin Roosevelt one said “as long as our country has Shirley Temple, we will be all right”.

Except for some cause based television work, Shirley Temple Black left acting by adulthood and went on to distinguished life including many years as a U.S. Ambassador.

The world has lost a sweet soul and caring human being who made a difference. I will always be grateful for the positive contributions Shirley Temple made to my childhood. In her movies and how she lived she made doing the right thing look cool.

Watching a peaceful death of a human being
reminds us of a falling star; one of a million lights
in a vast sky that flares up for a brief moment
only to disappear into the endless night forever.
Elisabeth Kübler-Ross

“Three Good Things”

Once upon a time I believed achieving happiness was the purpose of my life.  Experience has since taught the pursuit of happiness actually leads to a good deal of unhappiness.  My vantage point of today tells me happiness is actually a consequence of a very different pursuit in life – the pursuit of the evolution of my ability to love myself and others.

In days past my pursuit of happiness has included many different, but unsuccessful approaches including:

1. The pursuit of momentary pleasure drove me for a long while during the time when I believed happiness was the same as pleasure.  It took empty experience over decades to teach me that sex is not happiness nor is sex love.

2. The pursuit of money, the control it gives and the things money can buy was a catalyst for achievement for much of my adult life.  I thought having then what I did not have as a child would fill in some missing parts within.  Once I had an over abundance I found I felt more hallow than even before.

3.  I realize now my pursuit of happiness included a burning need to be valued as a human being by others.  My childhood environment provided almost none of that reinforcement and instead I felt a need to impress others, to be admired and thought well of.  In that thinking my happiness was attached to what others thought as I attempted to get love, attention and admiration in an impossible way.

Today the fact rings true within that true happiness is not the result of DOING, but of a way of BEING. Rather than being a result of the momentary pleasures or money or even other people, it is the result of my intention to evolve daily as a loving human being.

As a further aid in my positive evolution I am cultivating a new habit.  Each morning I focus on what I am grateful for and ask myself “what three good things happened yesterday”.  This practice comes directly from the book “Flourish” by Martin Seligman whose work I admire and has found a great help to me personally.

Anytime I focus on what I am thankful for and get away from what I wish were different, my life experience improves.  And the more I do that, the greater and more lasting the improvement is. “What three good things” is a simple method of redirecting attention towards positive thoughts and away from negative thinking. It works wonders for me.

We human beings evolved spending much more time thinking about negative experiences and possibilities than positive ones. That’s what kept us safe in the wild and from becoming some animal’s lunch.  Starting when we lived in caves the instinct was strong to spend a lot of time thinking about what could go wrong and how to avoid it.  Once upon a time there was an evolutionary advantage to this dominant way of thinking, but for modern humans this negative bias is a source of a lot of anxiety, depression, and general lack of wellbeing.  Luckily, by re-directing my thoughts intentionally towards positive events, I have found I can do a lot to correct this negative bias.

Dr. Deborah Barnett, Ph.D. writes the “3 Good Things” exercise, also known as the “3 Blessings” exercise, is a great Positive Psychology technique that has been well-tested. It has been shown to increase well-being and decrease depression and anxiety. Martin Seligman, Ph.D., conducted a study using this exercise. The results were that 94% of very depressed people became less depressed and 92% became happier in 15 days. Furthermore, the results lasted for at least 6 months.

“The good things” is simple to do.  Each morning soon after I first get up I pick out 3 things that went well the previous day (many prefer to do this in the evening at the end of the day).  In just a few words I write down three events or experiences that went well and why they went well or what felt good about the experiences. I’ve learned what I choose does not have to be spectacular or dramatic.  Something as simple as being grateful for the sweet strawberries at dinner, appreciating a cool, misty morning or a call from a good friend the night before are good examples of simple, but meaningful reasons for me to be grateful.

Growing my awareness of gratitude has been a profound life-changer.  Always I felt I was thankful, but looking back now I realize before I spent 90% or more of my time focused on what needed to be improved, what needed to change, what I needed to be wary of, what had gone wrong or what might go wrong.  While I can’t say the percentage has reversed to be vastly all gratitude, there is balance now.  My life today contains at least as much thankfulness and well-being as it does worry and anxiety.   I am grateful for my gratitude!

If you don’t get everything you want,
think of the things you don’t get that you don’t want
Oscar Wilde

Free download of “3 good things” log page show in image at top.  No strings attached.

Originally Posted here on October 27, 2011



Knowledge, Wisdom, and Insight

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Knowledge is really about facts and ideas that we acquire through study, research, investigation, observation, or experience.

Wisdom is the ability to discern and judge which aspects of that knowledge are true, right, lasting, and applicable to your life. It’s the ability to apply that knowledge to the greater scheme of life. It’s also deeper; knowing the meaning or reason; about knowing why something is, and what it means to your life.

Insight is the deepest level of knowing and the most meaningful to your life. Insight is a deeper and clearer perception of life, of knowledge, of wisdom. It’s grasping the underlying nature of knowledge, and the essence of wisdom. Insight is a truer understanding of your life and the bigger picture of how things intertwine.

In a nutshell: If knowledge is information, wisdom is the understanding and application of that knowledge and insight is the awareness of the underlying essence of a truth. Sadly we can gain a lifetime of knowledge, yet never see the wisdom in it. We can be wise, but still miss the deeper meaning.

Knowledge is knowing how to manage your money, budgeting, spending, saving.
Wisdom is understanding how money impacts the quality of your life and your future.
Insight is realizing that money is simply a tool to be used, that it has no inherent meaning beyond its usefulness.

Knowledge is learning how to paint and using that skill to cultivate a livelihood.
Wisdom is expressing your passion through painting and understanding that art is a form of communication that touches the lives of others.
Insight is perceiving that all things can be art and that creating your art contributes to the understanding and the expression of the essence of the world around you.

Knowledge is knowing which things, practices, people, and pleasures make you happy.
Wisdom is knowing that while those things may bring you pleasure, happiness is not derived from things or situations or people. It’s understanding that happiness comes from within, and that it’s a temporary state of mind.

Insight is knowing that happiness is not the purpose of life, that it’s not the marker of the quality of life—it’s merely one of the many fleeting states of mind in the spectrum of full emotions. Those emotions don’t make up our lives; they are merely experiences.

Knowledge, wisdom and insight all are valuable and all have a place in our lives. The difficulty lies in the fact that many of us are unclear as to their differences, often perceiving the terms and their application to be interchangeable. Being clear and consciously aware of how our minds are engaged may be important to getting the most out of all three. While acquiring and applying information is valuable in and of itself, we also need to distill and judge that information, and ultimately find the deeper meaning and relevance to the whole of our lives. Perhaps the truest form of knowing is in acquiring all three, and understanding how they each enhance the quality and experience of life. Taken from an article by Royale Scuderi,

Ever read something that was stunning in its clarity? Did every word seem like it was written for you? Did the message alter your way of seeing things? For the better? The words above did just that. The writer is Royale Scuderi who specializes in cultivating human potential for happiness, health and fulfillment. I am grateful to have come in contact with her thoughts. They truly widened my perspective and sharpened it at the same time.

I am strong, because I’ve been weak.
I am beautiful, because I know my flaws.
I am a lover, because I’ve been a fighter.
I am fearless, because I’ve been afraid.
I am wise, because I’ve been foolish.
And I can laugh, because I’ve known sadness.

Just Me, All Along


I am Me.

In all the world, there is no one else exactly like me.

Everything that comes out of me is authentically mine,
because I alone chose it.

I own everything about me: my body, my feelings,
my mouth, my voice, all my actions,
whether they be to others or myself.

I own my fantasies, my dreams, my hopes, my fears.

I own my triumphs and successes, all my failures and mistakes.

Because I own all of me, I can become intimately acquainted with me.

By so doing, I can love me and be friendly with all my parts.

I know there are aspects about myself that puzzle me,
and other aspects that I do not know,
but as long as I am friendly and loving to myself,
I can courageously and hopefully look for solutions
to the puzzles and ways to find out more about me.

However I look and sound, whatever I say and do,
and whatever I think and feel at a given moment in time
is authentically me.

If later some parts of how I looked, sounded, thought, and felt
turn out to be unfitting, I can discard that which is unfitting,
keep the rest, and invent something new for that which I discarded.

I can see, hear, feel, think, say, and do. I have the tools to survive,
to be close to others, to be productive, and to make sense
and order out of the world of people and things outside of me.

I own me, and therefore, I can engineer me.

I am me, and I am Okay.
Psychologist Virginia Satir

It was a huge step forward when I began taking responsibility for myself without pointing to external factors of why I am the way I am or do what I do. No matter how much influence someone or something has over me, the majority of every choice is mine. In realizing no factor on this earth has influence over me unless I allow it was the beginning of freedom.

How ironic it is now to realize it was my own excuses and reasons I needed to be freed from. When external justifications no longer answered the “whys” of my thoughts and behavior, only one explanation remained; “ME”. I will be always grateful for the insight that connected my past, present and future; that allowed me to finally feel whole.

I’ve figured out now that it was never them
that made me feel that way.
It was just me, all along.
Maggie Stiefvater

Slow Down… Stop… See…


Everything has beauty,  but not everyone sees it.

Beauty can be found everywhere. In a plant, a smile or quite differently.. in someone’s tears. Yet we tend to look away from it, for most of the time it does not represent our current state of mind. Beauty is not something which you can lay your hands on, so for our mostly materialistically orientated minds it is easier to dismiss than to investigate beauty. It is something intangible to our mind, yet it is very tangible to our heart and being. If we allow ourselves to look beyond our mind, we can see that there is so much more to explore. It is like eternity is knocking at the door, but you are always refusing to open the door. And yet we always know when we are touched by beauty. Funny to notice that everyone has this feeling and thus everyone knows what is meant by beauty.

But it takes courage to open yourself up to beauty completely, because it means you have to be vulnerable. You need to open yourself completely; there can be no defense mechanism left in place – only a true and open state of mind and body will allow you to open yourself to beauty. It is like meditating. No longer paying attention to your thoughts the way you normally do – you respond or react to them in any of infinite ways – you begin to feel the person behind the thoughts. You can now see yourself behind your thoughts and emotion and make the conscious realization that you are not your thoughts. You are aware of the thoughts, so this means you can not be your thoughts.

If we can realize this on any level, it will bring considerable change to your life, because you are conscious of a bigger part of you. …we as human beings are by our very nature very vulnerable which allows us to be very curious, sensitive and conscious when it comes to using our senses in the best way. Beauty can guide us along the way to a better understanding of our true selves. Since beauty is an essential building block for life, it holds deeper meaning to what it means to be a human being. Animals can not feel or respond to beauty the way we do, for they are not aware of the concept of beauty – they only embody it. As a human you have the possibility to touch and feel the beauty in your own being. When you start learning new things at first it will seem overwhelming and unbearable to cope with, but eventually you will pick up with the pace and learn to integrate this new way of being into your daily life.

With beauty come various other features of being, such as compassion and love. Each aspect has something to offer, every aspect contains a valuable lesson on how to be more authentic and learn to live life in the simplest of ways yet discovering a way of being beyond our wildest imagination. It is there waiting for us, if we can just let go of our old way of living, in which we are controlled by our past and are never really capable of living in the present moment. Beauty can only be found in the present moment, for it needs us to be active as aware observers. It wants to play with us and enjoy life in the simple way of doing. From “What is Beauty?” by Peter Navis

Living in a society that reveres man-made beauty, even fakes, can make it difficult to see natural splendor. Most of the time we’re near blind about the present where all things real exist. We’re just so darn busy running away from one thing and racing toward another; rarely centered in the ‘now’. While I am no exception, willful intention has helped me, at least at times, to see bits of true beauty around me. Sometimes it is so obvious that anyone looking could observe it. At others, it is far more subtle and at a deeper level that magnificence shows itself. “The real story is inside a book on its pages and not to be found on its cover.’

Beauty is a feeling, not an image. When I look, it is not so much what I see that moves me but instead what emotions the sight awakens. Being able to look past first impressions and initial glances with increasing frequency has added much to my life to be grateful for. All I have to do is slow down… stop… see.

People often say that
“beauty is in the eye of the beholder,”
and I say that the most liberating thing
about beauty is realizing that you
are the beholder. This empowers us
to find beauty in places where
others have not dared to look
including inside ourselves.
Slama Hayek

Make Some Difference


Like most people there have been times when I have wondered why I am here and what difference my life makes. While dreams of doing something that could positively change the life of many people all at once are largely gone, I have instead become content to know here and there for one or two people at a time I have made a difference. Each occasion has meaning to a very few, but combined together the small gifts of myself amount to something fairly substantial.

Once upon a time, there was a wise man who used to go to the ocean to do his writing. He had a habit of walking on the beach before he began his work.

One day, as he was walking along the shore, he looked down the beach and saw a human figure moving like a dancer. He smiled to himself at the thought of someone who would dance to the day, and so, he walked faster to catch up.

As he got closer, he noticed that the figure was that of a young man, and that what he was doing was not dancing at all. The young man was reaching down to the shore, picking up small objects, and throwing them into the ocean.

He came closer still and called out “Good morning! May I ask what it is that you are doing?”

The young man paused, looked up, and replied “Throwing starfish into the ocean.”

“I must ask, then, why are you throwing starfish into the ocean?” asked the somewhat startled wise man.

To this, the young man replied, “The sun is up and the tide is going out. If I don’t throw them in, they’ll die.”

Upon hearing this, the wise man commented, “But, young man, do you not realize that there are miles and miles of beach and there are starfish all along every mile? You can’t possibly make a difference!”

At this, the young man bent down, picked up yet another starfish, and threw it into the ocean. As it met the water, he said, “It made a difference for that one.” Loren Eiseley

No monuments will be created in my honor. No books will be written about my life. No movies will feature the path I have walked. To hoards of people I will always be nameless, faceless and unknown. But to a handful who took the time to truly know me I hope your existence is better for allowing me to be a part of your life.

My life is better for the people who have helped me learn, grow and heal. Though they be unknown to most, I am deeply grateful for those who cared enough to stop and help while others passed by hardly noticing me, if at all.

The purpose of life is not to be happy.
It is to be useful, to be honorable, to be compassionate,
to have it make some difference that you have lived
and lived well.
Ralph Waldo Emerson

What You Stand For


Before you speak,
Let your words pass through THREE gates:
At the first gate, ask yourself, ‘Is it TRUE?’
At the second gate ask, ‘Is it NECESSARY?’
At the third gate ask, ‘Is it KIND?’
A Sufi saying

My self-analysis:

“Is it TRUE?” Generally, yes. I am not a liar but am guilty of enhancement from playing up some parts of the story and playing down others. I am not innocent of embellishment either. It’s not an easy thing to step back, see and then admit what one sees. My guilt is sometimes not telling the full truth, but selected parts instead. And admitting that to myself is a healthy thing to do for acceptance is half the battle.

“Is it NECESSARY?” Now I start to get into trouble. An honest self-appraisal tells me quickly I frequently talk too much and listen to little. In expressing myself, I am certain the quantity of words used can be excessive at times. Oh, to be as good of a listener as those who have been patient to listen to me!

“Is it KIND?” It is in my general consideration for others where I am most proud of myself for the three gates. The majority of the time I can answer with a resounding “”yes” that I go out of my way to be kind and thoughtful. It’s not always appreciated, but it is never wasted. I benefit from what I give and it matters little how others receive it.

With the school year ending about now, it begs what my grades for the “three gates” might be.
#1 – “Is it TRUE?” A solid “B” is earned I believe.
#2 – “Is it NECESSARY?” The best grade I can give is a “C”.
#3 – “Is it KIND?” I am pleased an overall “A-” would be accurate.

Not bad and all passing grades. However, I’m grateful my standards for myself are higher. The person who truly tries to do their best, always benefits from the effort. Today, if even in the humblest way, I will do better than yesterday.

How would you grade yourself?

There is nothing better…
than for you to be at your best,
for you to be at your own peace,
for you to be showing them in every way
who you are, and what you stand for.
Steve Maraboli

One Kinds Action Leads To Another


“Will there be anything else” she said to me as I sat the bottle of water on the counter of the airport store. I said “no” as I glanced at her name tag and saw “Asja”. I’m one of those people who has difficulty figuring out what letters and numbers on a vanity license plate are supposed to stand for. So I asked  “how do you pronounce your name?” having no idea the response to my question would be “Asia”. I responded “that’s a unique and pretty name. Does it have any particular meaning?” to which the young woman said “my mother is Asian and I’m the oldest daughter”.

The woman behind the counter at the airport store showed her appreciation I was interested and continued telling me about her two sisters’ names that were also clever and unique. What I will long remember was the joy in her eyes from being noticed as a person. Most often people in such service jobs are essentially unnoticed and treated at best like a utility and worst like they don’t have feelings.

Making full eye contact with people I momentarily interact with has become a cultivated habit. Looking fully into someone’s eyes as I say “thank you” has a positive effect. It enables me to hopefully put a little more good into the world knowing what I give comes back to me. If I have the chance to momentarily interact with a stranger in some meaningful little way I am pleased.

Everyone wants to matter to the world; to be noticed; to be seen as worthy and of value. Everyone matters. No one has a job that makes them less than, no matter how humble it may be.

Age has given me enough wisdom to realize I should not judge people by their clothes, appearance or what he or she does to make a living. I don’t know a stranger’s story and what they have gone through prior to arriving in my presence. I’m human and sometimes still fall into assessing a person too much, too quickly. Each time I catch myself doing that I become a little more committed to not doing it.

Some people I don’t know who I intentionally begin a short conversation with probably wonder what’s up with me. Most respond positively to my attention but some look baffled and don’t respond well. Am I some sort of Holy Roller, on happy drugs or delusional might be the sort of thing a few think. However, it has been my experience most appreciate being “noticed and seen”. I always hope each one remembers me positively. I always do them.

The more I embrace the world and people in it the more I like being alive. Whether it is flowers looking to have more vibrant color because I notice them or the smile on a person’s face who usually gets little attention, it all benefits me. I am grateful to realize that it is me that receives the greatest benefit…always. What is given comes back multiplied.

No kind action ever stops with itself.
One kind action leads to another.
Good example is followed.
A single act of kindness throws out roots in all directions,
and the roots spring up and make new trees.
The greatest work that kindness does to others
is that it makes them kind themselves.
Amelia Earhart