Always Time To Be Kind

kindness“It has always seemed strange to me… the things we admire in men, kindness and generosity, openness, honesty, understanding and feeling, are the concomitants of failure in our system. And those traits we detest, sharpness, greed, acquisitiveness, meanness, egotism and self-interest, are the traits of success. And while men admire the quality of the first they love the produce of the second.”  John Steinbeck

“Ask yourself: Have you been kind today? Make kindness your daily modus operandi and change your world.”    Annie Lennox

I am truly amazed at how easily anyone, be it friend, acquaintance, family member or shop keeper, carelessly lashes out with their words. I am sincerely implying, that I find it extremely sad that we so readily step on another. It is as if we have lost our moral compass, and our compassion. I don’t know about other people, but when someone does this to me, I find it difficult and challenging to concentrate. I would compare it to having the wind knocked out of you.

It always comes unexpectedly, and most of the time without a good reason. It appears at times, when someone is attempting to “put you in your place.” That is hurtful and questionable. It makes you wonder why they have that need to push you to the point of breaking your spirit, and your heart. Many people say just develop a thicker skin, or stop looking at the world with rose colored glasses. I prefer the truth but like to observe it and digest it gradually.

That is problematic. To openly admit that basically the world is full of spiteful people, is loathsome. I want to have faith in others.I believe that we all deep down care about each other and  openly share our love. If I admit kindness is fruitless, then I might as well curl up and shut out the world. I would lose my faith and belief even in myself. I know I can’t do that. On those days I am left holding the bag of thorns, I try to remember a compassionate act the other person extended towards me. I would rather believe in their love for me, by recalling their considerate deed, than dwell on their recent maltreatment. I close the  door on the nastiness, and open my heart to  the kindness.

It is probable, that many people are not aware of their abrupt style of delivering a message. At times, we have to accept the manner of the conveyance. Annoying situations are definitely a part of life and inescapable. Unless we learn to let go of attacks, great or small, our sensitivity will be constantly crushed. Perhaps by recalling the burdens all people juggle, we will fortify our minds and hearts, when an onslaught  begins. We vie for attention, want to be the better friend, despise being out of a loop, hate to be out of step, like being the center of attention, and above all else want to be appreciated, respected and loved.

If this means choosing sides, we do it many times, even at the cost of damaging  another. If it means losing a friend, we accept the damages and move on. We constantly review our next option or plan. If we are in a hurry, and a clerk wastes our time, we may verbally become aggressive without remorse. It may even leave us laughing about the incident hours or days later. It is open season on anyone who we come into contact with.

I seriously wonder when we began to be so outspoken and inconsiderate towards others. We don’t hold back, and sometimes we are not very nice. The next day finds us without regret. Meanness is overcoming tolerance. Honesty is being used as the reason for our destruction of others. Unless we wake up and confront the viciousness of our words and actions, we will continue to maltreat others because we can.

It is not power that allows us to do this, but the awareness of the helplessness of another individual. Cruelty can be used as a cover for truthfulness. I ponder if we just don’t have the time to be nice. It takes time to explain a problem to someone. It takes time to allow another person to attend to a store situation. It takes time to speak kindly in explaination, than to retort offensively. It takes time and effort to gain a person’s  understanding and trust of a situation.

The time given is immeasurable because it saves a lot of grief, loss of sleep  and loss of concentration. Kindness is cheap. It is available at every moment, if we open our heats. It brings countless benefits  to others, and promotes positive connections. They say you can’t slow down time. I think we can add time, by calmly facing problems, and solving them quickly. By doing so we are not as apt to run ram-shod over another. The extra time it took to do things in a kindly manner, will save us time by alleviating denials, refute accusations and ongoing disputes. Those of us not interested in forgiveness, may break the bridge we might one day have to cross.

People take drugs sometimes to feel good. Kindness works better than  a drug. If one applies it  daily, they will find happiness. Of course there are always those who will test your resolve and patience. Your mood will change for the better, if you treat others as you would want to be treated.

“It’s not our job to play judge and jury, to determine who is worthy of our kindness and who is not. We just need to be kind, unconditionally and without ulterior motive, even – or rather, especially – when we’d prefer not to be.”    Josh Radnor

Goodness is about character – integrity, honesty, kindness, generosity, moral courage, and the like. More than anything else, it is about how we treat other people.    Dennis Prager

Kindness Never Fails

kW0BbXpfPk_1400535921244“Life has taught me that it is not for our faults that we are disliked and even hated, but for our qualities.”     Bernard Berenson

It is a quote worth digesting. There is more truth to these words than we would like to believe. Whenever one tries to act with humility and thought, it makes others question the motives. It also fosters a conscience, which produces an uncomfortable feeling. It’s time to recognize our own uniqueness. If we are in the presence of a kind person, it shouldn’t demean us, but instead it should encourage us. Each of us has the capacity to educate another. We can’t always be in top form. Those times when we need help, let us lean on another. Likewise when the other person needs help, it is our turn to do the inspiring. We are not in any competition. We don’t ever have to  be in a contest. It really is okay to support each other, be happy for another person’s achievement, and exhibit empathy for another person’s sorrows. As they say, we’re all in the soup together.

At times, mothers-in-law (MILs) and daughters-in-law (DILs) need each other. If they remember they have more in common, it will allow them to recognize a similar spirit. Every one of us wakes up with less sleep than we wanted, more aches and pains and burdens, that are almost beyond carrying. All this may warrant little attention from family. It is those moments we need strength. If it is not in us at that time, then the strength of another is required.

If we met a stranger on the street, who poured out their heart to us about their loads, and pressures, we would sympathize and come to the person’s aid. Many people offer volunteer work. Nobody counts the ways we can accommodate, those within our comunity. Somehow when it comes to people we know, who are close in proximity, we forget to offer support. By attempting to  overcome our jealousy, or competitiveness, we gain a closer picture of the burdens of others. Look hard and find something good in your MIL or DIL. Focus on that only. Skip dwelling on what you don’t like.

The same goes for your marriage. I have never viewed two similar marriages. How or why couples work out their own dynamics, is important to them only. A wife who criticizes her husband for not doing the chores, she perceives other husbands are doing, is in for a downfall. She would have to take into consideration, all of the chores her husband is responsible for, and weigh them against all of the jobs another husband is accountable to do. It isn’t easy to compare. Maybe we forgot to count the numerous minutes, a husband spends reading to his children at night.

Husbands can’t compare what one wife does, in relation to another person’s spouse. One woman may cook, especially if she likes to cook. More wives do take-out dinners, because they hold down jobs. Maybe the wife entertains her in-laws for dinner. How does anyone begin or end in their assessments of culpability and fairness. The solution is, if it works for us and things run smoothly, then go with it.

I think fairness in these matters must be overridden by comprehension. Knowing what our spouse is engaged in matters. If they are caring for a sick child, preparing meals, setting up lunches, and seeing kids off on the school bus, then maybe we should go and pick up the food, and vacuum the house.

I would not attempt to divide up tasks. To gain meaning of the senselessness of doing this, is my goal. By working on the details of some set tasks, we might be able to appreciate all of the responsibilities each spouse performs. I believe most of the time we worry, when we listen to others state their job division.  Why this thinking is so prevalent is amazing.

It kind of follows society’s attitude, regarding the problem of being taken advantage of. Surprisingly, we bring it into the marriage, and child care arena. Nobody wants to be taken advantage of. It is sad that our trust in each other is waning. Is it not possible to commiserate with our spouses, in regard to our burdens, when we are concerned with our own load? By attempting to fairly divide the work, it allows  cooperation to reign.. Our alternative is to fight about doing only our share of the work. We have lost empathy for our spouse, when we argue over who is doing more or less work.

There are those times when it is unfairly divided. However, acknowledge the reasons which may be legitimate. Possibly it will be a short -term occurrence. Restrictions  placed on each other, is devoid of love. Nasty retorts and criticisms is lacking understanding. Anger and harsh words results in a barren relationship. That is not what we want to bestow on our spouse, in-laws, friends or kids.

I find it hurtful to quarrel with someone I love over fairness. That is not to say I have never been guilty of unfairness. I am simply trying to be, more aware of my need to chill. At times, I pitch in wherever the need arises. Behaving decently should happen naturally, when their is love between the parties. We can all recognize the plight of someone who is perhaps on overdrive. Likewise the spouse with the lighter load, should recognize the need for gratitude. Just because we are married does not mean it alleviates the necessity of appreciation. We all like to receive thanks as well as compliments. Thankfulness towards in-laws, is also appreciated. There is no contract stating we must be a doormat.

When there is little gratitude dispensed, throughout all areas of our lives, there is little love, empathy, and understanding. I wonder sometimes if that might be the reason for the many divorces, and the breakdowns of the family,  and relationships in general. This of course leads to the corroding of society. When we trust those we love, it is like saying, “I know we share in our love, and therefore care about each other. So, it goes without saying we won’t want to deliberately hurt each other.” We can have downtime without repercussion, or judgmental words. If we are stressed, we can refrain from transferring the anxiety to a loved one, and instead request some help.

“Is there one word which may serve as a rule of practice for all one’s life? The Master said is not Reciprocity such a word? What you do not want done to yourself, do not do to others.” Confucius

Life’s Expectations

respectI have no right, by anything I do or say, to demean a human being in his own eyes. What matters is not what I think of him; it is what he thinks of himself. To undermine a man’s self-respect is a sin.

Antoine de Saint-Exupery

I think a lot of people have lost respect for the individual, you know, the individual, the person who doesn’t conform. Erykah Badu

How we view the world can influence our actions every day. When we are in the womb we have the same temperature for the most part, and we eat whenever and however much we want. We always hang out with our mothers and feel continuous love.  After we are born things change. We are still with mom a good deal of time, but dinner may not always be on cue. Staying warm is a tough problem, especially if we were born in the winter time. We cry when we need attention, food, warmth or anything else. We usually receive care within a small wait time.

As we mature we realize there are others in the universe needing attention, and we must wait our turn. It isn’t an extended waiting, but when you are used to immediate action, it can appear to be long. The teenage years allow us more attention, as we bend and stretch the rules. Parents allow us more time to heal our pain and tribulations.

After graduation, parents slow down and we must pick up speed, if we want to move forward. Suddenly there is nobody jumping to please us except ourselves. We want for a lot of things and begin to find it difficult to attain anything.  We have entered the world of responsibility. We are surprised when we apply for jobs and get refused. Our opinions of ourselves are high, as are our expectations. It is discouraging to suffer defeat. At first we are confused. We thought it would be so much easier than it is. How and why did this happen, we question. Our parents supported us for many years, and convinced us we were not only perfect, but invincible. We never considered another person to be as worthy as we are.

It is difficult to step back, and make room for others. We do not remember learning anything about waiting our turn, or conceding to another, or considering other people’s hopes and dreams and feelings. Actually we did not consider anyone. Now we observe a world,  full of needy people like ourselves, and it isn’t a pretty site. How did we not see this before now? How will we be able to cope with this new occurrence? Sometimes we resort back to babyhood, and become more demanding, and we ignore the wants and needs of others. It only matters that we are happy, and we get our just rewards.

Comprehending setbacks is impossible. We ruthlessly plan our actions, and our motives are not always honorable. We have discovered that in order to get ahead, we must be close to cruelty, and take no prisoners. Our actions are strong, assertive and straightforward. They begin to pay off for us. We get the jobs, earn the pay raises and move forward with our plans. We are never afraid to speak up. We may avoid arguments, but we know who to stand beside if there is a battle or  war. We are not going down. We see the whole picture now, and if we are to have our requirements met, we accept ruthless behavior.

The trouble is we realize at some point, that we can’t distinguish where and when our manner and ethics should be acceptable behavior. We begin to find ourselves treating everyone in the same way, at any given moment. Even our parents take some hits in the form of abrupt criticism, confrontations, and lack of compromise. We alleviate any guilt by our awareness that brutal truth is better than sugar coated lies. We admonish ourselves for our lack of time to sugar coat the facts. Others must learn to deal with truth, and with our new attitude.

When another retaliates back at us in similar fashion we are aghast. How dare they treat us that way we think. It enrages us and we fiercely fight back. In the aftermath the wounds leave scars and nothing is the same. We mentally chide their persistence in continuing the altercation. It could have ended sooner and smoother. What were they trying to accomplish. In all of this we never think about what we were attempting to accomplish. Nothing will ever be the same including ourselves.

We can still hold our head high. Others treat us with respect and step out of our way. Some even fear to disagree with us about anything. That’s okay, we are respected. Our home environment is a bit  strained because our spouse and kids challenge our authority. We  are good managers and we keep our family, in their place. After all, we have always wanted what is best for the family. We must help our neighbor with some project this  weekend. They helped us so we have no choice.  We hope it rains.

As we glance in the mirror we pass by, we notice the seriousness of the person’s face. We hardly recognize it as our own. The lines droop down a bit and there is no  recognition of a smile. We think  about smiling, but it feels unnatural. It feels goofy so  we stop trying. We will just avoid mirrors. Days and years pass and we wonder who we have become. We hardly know ourselves anymore. Our spouse treads lightly when we are around, and the kids who have all grown and moved on hardly share much with us. We observe them engage with their own spouse, and we wonder what it is about. We  do have their respect we consider. At that moment in time we question what respect is.

Respect does not have to be separated from love. As a matter of fact when we love someone, it is so  easy to respect them. On a distant day we discover we have confused the definition of respect. By doing so we lost love. We were never respected even by our kids. We were feared. As a young man or woman, people didn’t challenge us, or disagree with us, because they feared us. Our family refrained from sharing much, because they feared us. They stayed out of our way, not out of respect but fear. Our family continued to  come to our aid out of love not respect.

We never understood that. The friends we chose were conditional friends. They did things for us, provided we returned the favor. How sweet it would be to have friends or family, who did things for us without conditions. Having no tally sheet would be real love . After living our lives in total disregard of others, we have learned the truth at last. You can’t demand respect. If you demand respect, you gain adherence to your will, out of fear not love.

When you earn respect from love you have captured a treasure. You wield the  same power. Fear only wins, until another is feared more than you are. Love takes time, effort and patience. Once earned, the respect is unending. We even have to earn our kids respect. It doesn’t come from simply being mom or dad. It is never too late to change. It is only sorrowful, if one doesn’t try. Once we acknowledge our lack of empathy towards other living creatures, we are surely on the path to genuine respect, which partners with love. All that’s required is time and effort and most importantly love.

Nothing is more despicable than respect based on fear.    Albert Camus

When I approach a child, he inspires in me two sentiments; tenderness for what he is, and respect for what he may become.    Louis Pasteur

Respect is one of the greatest expressions of love.    Miguel Angel Ruiz


Knowing The Facts

knowing the facts“This is my simple religion. There is no need for temples; No need for complicated philosophy. Our own brain; our own heart is our temple.” Dalai Lama

“Be  kind whenever possible. It is always possible.” Dalai Lama

How easy it is for us to judge a person’s tribulations. We all have opinions and sometimes we state our opinions, even when we are not asked. Other times we voice our thoughts to others, regarding matters that we simply don’t have all the facts. I know whenever I hear anything immediately my mind begins calculating what the truth is. I am more aware as I get older how detrimental this can be, if I don’t consider everyone’s version of the truth. If I don’t know everything about the situation, my ability to assess is hindered.

Most of the time in life events that are challenging, it is hard for any of us to cope with the gravity of a situation. We might listen, but deep down we question and review and sometimes have differing conclusions. Sometimes a person in need, who is dealing with a tremendously difficult circumstance, requires support in the form of a listening ear. They don’t want judgments or agreements or even suggestions. They may need  someone to say, tomorrow will be better so hang in there, and keep your hope alive.

So many of us believe we should offer advice, or delve into the truth, and sway the person away from what the problem is. Knowing whether the person is searching for support, or advice is relevant. We all carry our loads, and we have all been burnt, by being honest and opened, with people we trusted with our hearts. When another person is upset, to ease their minds we might offer our shoulder, heart and caring words. That will do more than attempting to return something to its’ original form. That is not easy to accomplish.

Sometimes we don’t have sympathy for another, because we believe their problem is not what we consider worth all of the fuss. If it bothers another, to the extent of interfering with their everyday performance, then it is worth our attention to offer aid. Assessing the pain is impossible. We must trust they are in need, and offer as much assistance that we can give. The measurement of pain has to include the build up of the small things, that have compounded an already stressed out person. Seeing it from this perspective, allows us to comprehend how little of the facts we have acknowledged.

Sometimes marriages are struggling, kids are bending the patience of their parents, grandparents are demanding, and jobs are stressful. Any one of these troubles might cause pain, but combined they can cause a crises. People don’t always mention marital problems, or kid problems. People define themselves by their jobs, and are devastated when problems arise. They likely keep the issues private, even from their wives or husbands. When a person approaches us with a painful situation, we can support with our hearts. Don’t look to measure the pain or fault. Lend some help without critical assessment.

Whenever we attempt to find truth we discover it hidden among a myriad of smoldering complications. Blame, embarrassment, shame, anger, doubt and fear are just a few reasons people hide real feelings. We appear helpless and weak which are not valued qualities. The numerous obstacles we all face can be overwhelming. We need each other. We want comfort and peace. We find it at times in the comfort of a friend or stranger. It takes a little time and effort and trust. The benefits can’t be measured or counted.

We can refrain from judgments and observe a needy person. Uplifting another on the same journey is powerful. It gives us more strength and happiness. To think that we have made a fellow human being’s life a bit easier, is an awesome feeling. It sends out ripples in all directions. It is easy to forget about our own struggles, when we have helped another. Somehow our own burdens lighten. Appraising another, fosters distrust and fear. Empathy fosters trust and hope.

“It is very important to generate a good attitude, a good heart, as much as possible. From this, happiness in both the short term and the long term for both yourself and others will come.”  Dalai Lama

“All major religious traditions carry basically the same message, that is love, compassion and forgiveness the important thing is they should be part of our daily lives.”  Dalai Lama


Actions That Avoid Conflict

actions that avoid conflict“What you dislike in another take care to correct in yourself.” Thomas Spratt

 “Our greatest glory consists not in never falling, but in rising every time we fall.” Oliver Goldsmith

Insecurity breeds contempt for any kind of boastful comment. Every time a person shares the most recent event in her young or older child’s life, does not mean he or she is boastful. Size is not better. Learning is not intelligence. Athletic ability is not valor or prowess. Beauty never denotes inner quality. Why then do we fret? We cannot be insecure in our own hearts.

Pitting siblings or grandchildren against each other creates animosity and tension. Stop self-doubt. Each of us holds the potential for greatness. Maybe if we respond with a simple reply of acknowledgement to the parent, we will avoid confrontation regarding who is the superior person. We avoid making a memory we’d rather forget.

Our insecurity and competition, keeps us at arms length, away from each other. We cover up, hide, and embellish whatever happens, in order to compete against a perceived enemy. If we all partake in this game, none of us will win. We’ll all go home defeated. Why are we really competing, or why is it necessary to prove we have a good life, or good kids. If another person doesn’t care, and we don’t care how intelligent or athletic somebody else is, then why are we constantly attempting to make assessments.

How is it we never learned to reflect on what we enjoy and  what gives us happiness. I love it when a child comes running into my arms to kiss  me, and blesses me with the largest smile. I love it when someone is kind for no reason, and expects nothing in return. I love it when I pour out my heart to another, and they say, “your okay, you just have to see it in another way.” I find that I love people, and I admire their kindness. They innocently pour out empathy, without any  expectations.

When I observe this action in children, it renders me speechless. I admire the athlete who never gives up the fight, right to the end of the game. I admire the student, who works for hours studying, to gain the degree, and work at a job they desire. I admire the young graduate, who works hard to make a living, whle offering his time to others. I admire those who have little, yet give so much time and energy to others. I admire the rich, who share their resources, and business finesse, to help the unfortunate. I admire the willing helper who at any time, jumps  to the aid of another, regardless of danger. I admire anyone who notices a need, and makes it their duty to respond.

Kids who share, offer support, and even compliment another, are admirable. Many adults find it impossible to give compliments. I sometimes think this can go back to childhood. When parents hold up the goals they want their kids to achieve, it can leave the kids frustrated, and unfulfilled. Usually one or more of the kids will never accomplish such a goal, because they never accepted it as their own. I guess we can’t set up competitions. Someone may notice the athletic prowess of a child, at a soccer game. If another adult chides in, “You should see this other kid play ball”, they have diminished the original compliment. Why is it we all get caught in measurement.

If we searched, we might always find someone who can do better or worse. It isn’t necessary to compare. All of the rivalry is the reason adults are in constant fear, doubt and worry, about any group situation. They need to hear about the new car, job etc. This in itself, should not bother us, but it does because it goes back to the contending. The real issue is if we are happy. What makes us happy? There is no fretting, if life is offering things that make you happy. I often think of the person with three or four homes, that have ten to fifteen rooms. How do they even enter all of the rooms within the month? How many  boats, or homes, or material things can anyone own? is their a certain number, that promotes happiness? The interesting fact is, we can be as happy as we choose to be. Honest  truth! Words and talk are just that. The person with the big fancy car may hate their life or worry about vying with those in his or her money bracket.

I think if people stopped comparing, we might find more camaraderie. Our first question may not be how long or big was the baby, but are mom and baby doing well. We wouldn’t worry how soon they walked or talked, but rather that they were learning how to get along with others. How we got off track, is mystifying. We are like hamsters on a wheel. We can’t stop or get off without help. Time to help ourselves. Everyone’s child is special and perfect. They are so unique. You can see it when you observe them long enough. Their expressions are different, as are their smiles, movements, walk, talk, climbing ability and more. That is what defines them and makes them so precious. It is insulting to compare them with any other child, because that would be impossible.

I think whatever kids God  entrusted to you, he believed that you would be the best parents for such a child. If you believe you have a difficult child, be thankful for the trust God placed in you, to nurture and raise that child. Each child comes with their own set of inner and outer qualities. It is up to us to steer them. Nobody mentioned comparing. We are all in this together. Let’s not make it harder than it already is. Time to see each other as supporters. We are and can be.  We just need to erase the idea of competition. We can still compete without the destruction of others. When the victor becomes a tormentor, he is no longer a winner. Look always at the size of a person’s heart. Measure their love if you need to measure anything.

Viewing each other in a more vulnerable way, just might help us to accept each other. Appreciate each person’s effort to live their own life. While at your gathering, look for and enjoy the good of the moment. Even if you are the recipient of boastfulness, smile and mention how proud they must be of their kids. Then mention how much you love, and feel the same way about your own family.

“The hardest thing for any young couple to learn is that other parents have perfect children also.” Herbert Prochnow

“All kids are gifted, some just open their packages earlier than others.” Michael Carr

“If you want to change the world, measure a person by the size of their heart, not the size of their flippers.”  Naval Adm. William H. McRaven

Finding Contentment

contentment“Most of one’s life is one prolonged effort to prevent oneself thinking.”            Aldous Huxley

“It is very important to generate a good attitude, a good heart, as much as possible. From this, happiness in both the short term and the long term for both yourself and others will come.”  Dalai Lamaa

“How is it possible to be solidly aware of where you are going, and what you are doing one day, and the next day shake your head in dismay. Just when you reason you have arrived at the answers, you are sent backwards in remorse. It keeps one on their toes, because you never know when the hit is coming, and from where it will come.”    Anonymous

I began reflecting on contentment. It leaves us befuddled, because we all just want a little satisfaction, security and trust that the world is okay, and  so are we. As we all are aware, the world is anything but okay, and we live in fear about almost everything in our lives. As soon as a  baby is born, we worry about college, never mind if we can afford the diapers and baby food. Our lives are spent in worry and discontent. It is no wonder most of us suffer, or will suffer with stress related health issues or illness.

All everyone requires is some serenity in their lives. It just cannot be found. I worried and feared and finally concluded, I couldn’t live my life fully, in worry and fear. It got old, unhealthy, boring and unpleasant. That is when I began to ruminate over what I was doing. My days were passing, and I  was hardly in them. I was too busy having anxiety attacks about something. If I wasn’t concerned with a relationship, it was my job performance, the amount of money I had in the bank, how many kids I wanted versus how many we could afford, and doubt about whether  my kids had enough activities or too many. I questioned if I had to attend all of those showers, weddings and birthday parties. I fretted about painting the house of fixing the yard. My social attention to inviting friends for dinner, was a concern worth mentioning.

I don’t want my kids lacking, so I get them involved. Those phone calls must be completed, or my friends will be upset with me. Everyone in my neighborhood has their yard picked up, so I’d better get to it soon. My basement is getting cluttered, because I keep throwing things in it that I don’t have a place for yet if ever. I must keep the old paint in case I need to touch up the room. My parents and in-laws expect to see us this weekend. I begin ruminating again on an answer for my problems. The list in my head continues to scribe on and on until I feel a headache coming on. I am ready to pounce at the next human person who speaks.

My life was almost getting to be impossible to live. I thought of a remote  island and what it would be like if I sailed to it and left the world behind. I don’t mean I don’t care about or love my family and friends and even my life, but I can’t seem to keep up with it. I am drowning in my thoughts, never mind my duties. On the island it would be like starting over. Nothing on my plate to think about or do. What a refreshing feeling. Of course I would never make the trade, even if I could. The chaos  made me mull over how well I had complicated my life.

Our lives don’t get mixed up because of marriage or kids nor family and friends. Our existence turns upside down when we perpetrate on irrelevant issues. Suddenly a new thought inspires me. I’ll think about some changes. As I deliberate I conclude my life is okay. I am happy. I am quiet and peaceful and content. I have so much to be thankful for. I am humbled and ashamed of myself for considering I had a grueling life. It was only my approach.

I don’t have to get my house painted this year if my schedule is too busy. I can even consider it in the Fall or very early spring. I am dumping useless items, and sending some worthy items to a thrift store. My kids don’t have to have three or four  activities to attend. If they do I can always have them skip one now and again, if we have something planned. I can call my friends and pencil them in for coffee and dessert, or even meet at an inexpensive restaurant. I will get to see them and enjoy their company, without the need to clean my house and prepare a meal.

Weighing what is important in my life, will alleviate the lesser responsibilities. Considering what I want is helpful. I love my spouse, kids, and family. I like my small bit of space, my smaller yard, bird feeders, books, and home prepared meals. The smell of baking bread is awesome and homemade applesauce delicious. I don’t have big desires to order food all of the time, nor attend to restaurant meals. I like walks and bike rides. Simply put I enjoy my life. It is okay if others don’t consider it glamorous. It suits me so I need to stop attempting to have my life look like the next persons’ life. I’m content and that is what counts.

If I don’t get to all of the phone calls today, perhaps I will tomorrow. If not tomorrow, eventually it will happen. A true friend will be glad to hear from me whenever I call. I have found serenity in my life. I don’t demand of others, and now I don’t demand of myself. I work with what I have, and I not only love my life, but I am contented  with my life. So much of what I was considering was unimportant and unnecessary. I see the truth and the simplicity. It is hard to imagine the simplicity of any life when we get so caught up in a million complications.

Once we can focus on the reality of our being, we begin living in the moment. We can’t control what happens in our lives. We can make the best choices when they are required. Our lives will unfold beautifully through our active participation, rather than our inactive stress and worry. Even dandelions are a beautiful yellow splash of bright colors on a dreary rainy day.

“Happiness is the art of making  a bouquet of those flowers within reach.” Anonymous

“When you are discontent you always want more, more more. Your desire can never be satisfied. But when you practice contentment, you can say to yourself, Oh yes, I already have everything that I really need.” Dalai Lama

A Purposeful Life

worthy life“Our civilization lacks humane feeling. We are humans who are insufficiently humane! We must realize that and seek to find a new spirit. We have lost the sight of this ideal because we are solely occupied with thoughts of men instead of remembering the thoughts of the spirit. By having a reverence for life, we enter into a spiritual relation with the world, by practicing reverence for life we become good, deep, and alive.”       Albert Schweitzer

Every one of us needs to feel necessary, desired and worthy. Perhaps this is why we get moody, or depressed at times. So many days pass with feelings of worthlessness. Our existence is in question. How are we benefiting the world, family, friends or even one person. On those moody days we may have no answers.

I believe we all have needs, wants and definitely a purpose. Sometimes we are looking in the wrong places and just not seeing it. Purpose has to do with long term objectives, and we observe short term goals. That is why some of us miss our own merit. Not to rehash what was said many times, nor discuss the same issues, but because of our requirement of instant gratification, we can’t focus on the future. This in itself makes it difficult to grasp our significance.

The young child who has been taught to love and share, influences every other child he or she comes into contact with. More communication has transpired in those fleeting playground moments, than we may ever realize. Kind words and actions go forward, but we don’t usually get to see that. If we were the parent who taught such empathetic skills, then we deserve a pat on the back. the ripple effect is massive.

The teenage boy who has been taught to respect women, and refuses to take advantage of an inebriated friend, but actually helps this person get safely home, is a blessing to society. We may never hear of such an act, because likely the young man will  never talk about it. We have done well. The young woman who gets involved in town causes, and volunteers her time and effort, has been well instructed. Where did her knowledge of helping others come from?

All the goodness and kind acts we observe in our kids, is really a pat on the back to parents who are instructing  in positive ways. As parents we just don’t believe we should bask in any of this attention. Yet when kids err, parents are often left holding the bag of wrongdoings. The wonderful things we accomplish with our kids, are making our lives worthwhile, to the point  of a celebration. Again one needs to view the ripple effect of our good deeds.

Any adult person who comes to the aid of another, at any given time, has brought huge meaning to their lives. Sometimes simply taking the time to speak with a neighbor, or sending out a friendly hello regularly, is uplifting. We can’t fathom the depth of our kindnesses. I know this is why so many of us don’t appreciate ourselves. So many people would not even recognize themselves, if their whole lives and good deeds were written down, and spread across a billboard. They might ask who is that person?

If we could open our eyes to the wonderful things we do every single day,  we would be shocked at how far the ripples of those kind acts extended. The reach can be so much further than we know. I am not saying we need to get slapped on the back for every kindness, but reviewing our day once in awhile, may give us an acceptance of our value. How can we be depressed if we serve such a vital function. All the little things add up.

Husbands and wives fight with each other, yet when they are sick or having a bad time, they support each other. Maybe we just expect this but actually, it is awesome of us to be the one they can lean on. Our kids need our attention when they are young, and we may have faith in our purposeful life. As kids mature, we may feel less certain about our place and worth. The truth is, kids like to have their parents involved, and interested in their well-being, forever. Who doesn’t like to feel special and important in someone’s eyes.

When our kids can complain to us about something, they receive our time and attention. We may believe they are “shooting the breeze” but possibly they are in need of a trusting person to divulge their heart’s content. Having faith in our own meaning in life is paramount. The time someone’s faith is low, and they are discouraged in their goals, is a crucial time for them. Our inspirational words and comforting expressions, may be all they need to continue forward. They may not call you up and say, “Well you cheered me up and now I am going back to finish college even if I am older.” Yet you have set them on a course that may influence so many other people just because you took the time to listen and respond with a kind heart . You gave them some needed faith in themselves. Look what you accomplished but will likely never know.

Some of us mean so much to others, that without us simply being around them, would hurt their lives. They need us in their corner, even if it is simply moral support. Without us they may not be able to fulfill the goals they set for themselves. We are not searching in the right places for our true worth. On any given day we can accomplish as many laudable objectives as we choose.

I remember the day I waited in a long line for ice cream. The person in front of me was angry and yelled at the waitress for the long wait. The waitress snubbed the man, quickly dumped the ice cream on the cone, and almost spilled it which further annoyed the customer. She slammed her window shut as he banged the counter upon leaving. I was up next and smiled sheepishly at the waitress. She appeared to relax, half smiled back and apologized for my long wait. I explained I wasn’t in any big hurry, and received a big smile. She returned with the largest cone, filled with ice cream. I smiled this time, and wished her a very happy day.

I can’t say how her day went but I know her mood changed, and that made me happy. I was apprehensive about her disposition when I approached, but upon our congenial interaction, she settled down. It wasn’t her fault for the long line. I realize this was minor, but then again was it? Without the release of some tension, might she have gone home and fought with the family? Was she dealing with major issues at home, and could this have put her over the edge enough to choose some harmful decisions? No one knows.

What I do know, is every day we have a choice, to fill our lives with meaning. Any time you help another human being, you have added a purpose for your life, as well as their life. It is those simple times that can make all the difference, of either breaking the camel’s  back or lifting some of the burden off of that camel. All one needs is to have faith in themselves and the rest is easy.

I don’t believe in keeping track of kind deeds. When we care we don’t keep a tally. My philosophy is if I can do something for someone I do it, no strings attached. Whenever I am the recipient of a kind deed, I consider myself fortunate, but I don’t ever feel that I must reciprocate. It is easier for us to get along with friends, because we never expect them to do anything. We are pleased when they do something for us. With family we expect so much, and we are disappointed when it doesn’t happen. Time to appreciate any small nice service done for us. Time to think about doing something kind even for strangers, without expecting a return. This will please all of us tremendously, and disappoint nobody. The ripples spread as far and as deep as the ocean. Now that is a purposeful life.

“The greatest tragedy in America is not the great waste of natural resources- though this is tragic; the biggest tragedy is the waste of human resources because the average person goes to his grave with his music still in him.” Oliver Wendell Holmes

“As soon as man does not take his existence for granted, but beholds
it as something unfathomably mysterious, thought begins.” Albert

A Happy State Of Mind

happy thoughts“Watch your THOUGHTS, they become WORDS. Watch your WORDS, they become ACTIONS. Watch your ACTIONS, they become HABITS. Watch your HABITS, they become CHARACTER. Watch your CHARACTER, it becomes your DESTINY.” Fran Outlaw

Has anyone ever felt like they were floundering? useless? defeated? My thoughts exactly. I started wondering why we get to that point. We worry about what we do, because people might misinterpret it. We worry about what we say, because it might not express what we meant to say. We worry about what everyone else said, and did, because we reflect on the meaning, behind their words and actions.

Our thoughts make us agonize. I decided it was time to control my thoughts. I’m not perfect. I venture to say, none of us is without fault. We need to stop putting so much pressure on each other. I’m going to accept that what you said or did was meant in the best of intentions, even if it came out all wrong and caused me pain. I’ll accept that you had a bad day, week, month or year. I’ll accept that you were dealing with family or health issues. I’ll accept that you haven’t yet learned to let the small stuff float away. I hope after all of this, we will always be good friends or good family members. I also expect you will give me the same courtesy.

Blame  never goes anywhere, never fosters anything good and never results in progress at any level. All we need to do is take a look at any work situation. As soon as a boss is searching for the scapegoat, we all clam up, hide our work or review it for errors. We look around as we hope someone else will take the punishment. As was said before we need our jobs, work to the best of our ability at any given time, and refuse to  take the blame for things that have multiple reasons for ending in disasters.

Blame makes the problem go away in a sense. Aha we found the source so now everything will be okay. Blame makes us feel good,  when it is discovered elsewhere. We breathe a sigh of relief, listen to the instructions which will make everything better, and move on to the next day. We work as we have always done, with really no changes. Fault simply makes humans feel like something got accomplished, when really nothing was altered.

We have to recognize the real problems, work seriously on changing them, in order to make differences in the outcome. finding a person to blame doesn’t help and succeeds  in making everyone nervous. No one is at ease. Without reason we might be the next person to come under the microscope. We are anxious most of the time, at work, and rightly so. What I understand now is all the apprehension in the world, is not going to measure my supposed guilt or innocence, if my number is up to be the next guilty party. I decided the nervousness was in vain. When or if it becomes our turn, it happens and the anxiety is not stopping it, depleting it or increasing one’s outcome. Simply put, the fretting was a waste of good time.

I reasoned it was time to let go of the discomfort and deal with unexpected problems when they arise. We can all sit back and think about the unfathomable ways things can go wrong in our lives. That is pointless. It is so much more calming to think about ways things can move in a  positive direction, and it makes us feel happier. I wonder if the happier attitude, promotes a shield around us, preventing negativity from crowding our lives.

I venture to admit that the same is true in any of our relationships. Sometimes we believe we found a problem with a relationship, and we have faith that if  we fix that one item, everything will flow perfectly. Again we want to place blame. We don’t want to take any ourselves. If we can find the scapegoat and insist they take the guilt, it alleviates us from searching for the real issues.

There is a pattern to our lives. Avoid fault, which allows us to avoid thought and reflection. In any relationship, we can accept less effort from another, when we can accept every moment and day as a different time, full of various emotions and dilemmas. We give each other slack and allow for mistakes. Life is easier because it allows us to maintain goals. We don’t toss our objectives due to a minor detail, that dumps full blown blame on top of us. The trouble disappears when we know we have more freedom.

At work with all of our pending burdens at home, we might miss something. It should be okay to admit this, fix it, and move on. Same goes for relationships of any kind. Bad moods cause more arguments and misunderstandings. We need to stop worrying about disasters following us all the time. Really think positive. Fill your mind with happy thoughts because the worries and fears can’t survive in such a positive atmosphere.

“Don’t walk in front of me, I may not follow. Don’t walk behind me, I may not lead. Walk beside me and be my friend.” Albert Camus

Successfully Prioritizing Life

7c52AzG56r_1400685894023“Happiness is like a butterfly. The more you chase it, the more it will elude you. But if you turn your attention to other things, it comes and softly sits on your shoulder.” Nathaniel Hawthorne

“If you haven’t time for a tug at your pants leg, your schedule is too busy.” Robert Brault

Recently I had a lot of time to think and reflect. I realized that the saying, “stop to smell the roses”, is undoubtedly true. When we are forced to stop for a moment, our greatest reflections come to the forefront of our minds. They remind us to review what it is we are doing with our lives. Do we spend it being jealous or envious of others? Do we spend it attempting to get even for the wrongs another did to us? Do we spend it making money or fame? Are we anxious or doubtful of others?

None of these things makes us happy. Revenge will leave us empty and disgusted with ourselves. Fame and fortune will find us friends who will leave us as quickly as they came. Doubt and anxiety wear us down and sap our strength. Happiness is inner serenity, and comes from the contentment of our own lives. We really need to dwell on the positive things in our lives. To do this we must slow down and “Smell the coffee, or the flowers.” It might just change our focus towards something that is more worthwhile or inspiring.

As some people profess, if you are handed lemons make lemon juice. Attempt to pick a bouquet of flowers within your vicinity. See those around you as innocent. View any comments or actions as unintentional. It brings peace of mind and allows the potentially guilty party to possibly reflect on their comments or actions and regret and have a change of heart. Either way our mind and body are at peace.

Doubt hurts. I knew one mother-in-law and daughter-in-law who  were having trouble communicating. Exasperated one day, the mother-in-law said to me how frustrating it was to discuss anything with her daughter-in-law. She mentioned the many times she asked her daughter-in-law to lunch, but was always put off with a negative reply and excuse. She felt disliked by her daughter-in-law, and began avoiding her.

Anxiety keeps us guessing and on edge. I happened to run across that particular daughter-in-law one day, and I asked how her mother-in-law was faring. She immediately and sheepishly replied, that she hadn’t seen much of her lately. Because she appeared to be saddened rather than happy or angry, I pursued to question her why that was so. She stated how she enjoyed her mother-in-law’s company but that her own mother resented any time she spent with the woman. This caused her to feel guilty every time she was with her mother-in-law. I gently encouraged her to maintain a relationship with her mother-in-law. It was healthy and in no way diminished her relationship with her own mother. I told her how wonderful were the moments I spent with my own daughters-in-law. Her face sort of lit up and she resolved to think about what I had said. I’m not sure how it all worked out, but I am sure of how we manage to influence others in negative rather than positive ways.

Jealousy eats up our time. Friends and family put stipulations on us, that we must learn to ignore. They like to fill in most of our free time, or be included in every endeavor we undertake with another individual. The jealousy and  heightened threat of losing us, overwhelms their senses, and causes them to smother our friendship.

Duty is a killer of serenity. We are almost consumed with guilt, if we take a leisurely day to do nothing. The phone rings and we have to force our arm not to pick it up. The cell phone is even more difficult with its’ texting. The computer is off and we sit comfortably reflecting on our life. That is when we remember we were supposed to reply to a friend’s invitation, send our friend directions to someplace, shoot off an e-mail to a co-worker, and pick up the kids by two.

By cutting out the doubt, anxiety, jealousy, and shifting the duties to another for the day, I can let my mind wonder freely and fill me up with wonderful and exciting new thoughts. It is total free time without interruptions. When I am asked about a late response or phone call, I mention my pressing day off from the turmoil of life. In actuality these days end up adding more meaning to my life. I review where it is I am going, what I am doing, and how I am prioritizing my time. it allows me to put the important things first, like my spouse and kids. In the busy work days,  without a reflective day off, I might actually forget to prioritize my life. Now that would really be a disaster and regretful.

“In your hands you hold the seeds of failure or the potential for greatness. Your hands are capable but they must be used and for the right things to reap the rewards you are capable of attaining. The choice is yours.” Zig Ziglar

“Everything we possess that is not necessary for life or happiness becomes a burden and scarcely a day passes that we do not add to it.” Robert Brault

Ignore Cruel Criticism

cruelty“Little of the great cruelty shown by men can really be attributed to cruel instinct. Most of it comes from thoughtlessness or inherited habit.”     Albert Schweitzer

Cruelty like any other vice requires no motives outside of itself; It only requires opportunity.”      George Eliot

I find some people are too quick to critique others, yet they are the first to complain if anyone analyzes them. It is more hurtful than they will ever know, especially when they influence other people who have no idea what the truth actually is. It amazes me that we take a quick snapshot of a situation, and then profess to have the gospel. If that isn’t bad enough, we proceed  to share our truth about an occurrence with others.

Some things are private and better left unspoken. Those who choose to voice uncalled for opinions, are treading in a danger zone. I feel sorry for them because at a certain point in time, they may have to experience the same problem themselves, to comprehend the whole picture. That is sad when we cannot have empathy for other’s, without walking in their shoes.

Unfortunately some of us must walk in the shoes, in order to fully grasp the whole scene. It is so easy to make quick  assumptions. After all we believe  we deal with so much more than the  next person. Suffice it to say that many hide their feelings, problems and hurts. I wonder if people do this because they want to stay under the radar. There are so many people, who will jump in swiftly with  their critical remarks.

It is tough enough to deal with issues that are draining and difficult, without also putting up with disapproving glances and quick retorts. I’m sure we have all gone through those times, when it appears that nobody understands our dilemma. It is at those moments that we need sympathy, and it is difficult to find. Most of us ignore the judgments because we have more trying circumstances to handle.

I must admit the resentment rises when one recalls the far reaching negative denunciation about us, spread around town. It is like trying to catch the feathers you dumped out of a bag on a windy day, from a tall building. It is impossible. It leaves me with the notion of confronting such individuals to ask why. There is no pleasure in the degradation of another.

There is nothing good that comes out of insults and blame. Even if we believe our assessment of a situation is correct, we still may be completely wrong. Our analysis is tainted by what we want to find and choose to see. Maybe we are jealous of this person and want to drag them down a bit. Maybe we are disappointed with ourselves and want to drag another into our mire.

The truth is that we are making a tension filled situation worse. We are defeating another and ruining their reputation. We are also discouraging others from supporting these individuals. They perhaps need and deserve support. There is no good in quick censures that destroy reputations. If we don’t walk in their shoes we should attend to our own business. Truly I find more people devastated with such mixed up calculations.

My advice to those who are the recipients of this rude and uncalled for treatment, is to thoroughly ignore the back lashing tales and back stabbing remarks. You can’t stop someone who enjoys doing this. You can only move on yourself, because in the end, I have total belief that the truth unfolds and leaves cake on their face. Even if it doesn’t, we know the truth in our own hearts and that is all that matters. Getting through difficulties makes us stronger. It also makes us more tolerant when we see something and want to judge. We recall  that it might not be quite the way it appears, so we hopefully refrain from judgement. At least we might give someone the benefit of the doubt  until further notice.

To be misunderstood or blamed for things we are not guilty of is painful. We don’t walk in the criticizers shoes. Maybe they have a need to renew themselves, through attacks on others. At some point in time, I do hope they learn to think before they speak. Otherwise they may speak  words they will regret, at the expense of the suffering of others.

Gossip is rampant and it steadfastly keeps going around. It makes everyone unhappy. Instead of finding all the faults in another we should search for the goodness. We can always find faults but we can also always find good. If you find and profess another’s goodness, you are encouraging it  to  grow. That seems like a better alternative than encouraging negativity. For those who look for the negative in others, they might attempt to help the negative person become more positive. Spend  your energy on that goal  rather than on denouncing someone.

“There is nothing more dreadful than the habit of doubt. Doubt separates people. It is a poison that disintegrates friendships, and breaks up pleasant relations. It is a sword that kills.” Buddha

“While on a walk one day I  was  surprised to see a man hoeing his garden, while sitting in his chair. “What  laziness!”  I thought. But suddenly I saw, leaning against his chair, a pair of crutches. The man was at work despite his handicap. The lesson I learned about snap judgments that day  has stayed with me for years now: The crosses people bear are seldom in plain sight.”    Author Unknown