Wednesday, February 24, 2010
The art of living does not consist in preserving and clinging
to a particular mood of happiness, but in allowing happiness
to change its form. . . happiness, like a child,
must be allowed to grow up.-Charles L. Morgan
Monday, February 15, 2010
A mature person is one who does not think only in absolutes, who is able
to be objective even when deeply stirred emotionally, who has learned
that there is both good and bad in all people and in all things, and who
walks humbly and deals charitably with the circumstances of life,
knowing that in this world no one is all knowing
and therefore all of us need both love and charity.-Eleanor Roosevelt
Wednesday, February 10, 2010
We all have within us a deep sense of what we need, and what
is right and true for us. To access this we need to pay attention
to our feelings and our intuition. We need to learn to listen
deeply to ourselves and to trust what we hear. And we need to
risk acting on what we feel to be true. Even if we
make mistakes, we must do this in order to learn and grow.-Shakti Gawain
Monday, February 08, 2010
Living Life Fully
Perhaps the clearest and deepest meaning of brotherhood is
the ability to imagine yourself in the other person's position,
and then treat that person as if you were him or her. This
form of brotherhood takes a lot of imagination, a great
deal of sympathy, and a tremendous amount of understanding.-Obert C. Tanner
Have you ever walked a mile in someone else's shoes? Have you tried to see life from someone else's perspective, tried to feel what that person feels and think what that person thinks? If we could do so, I think that we'd find that rudeness, selfishness, arrogance, and other traits that tend to affect others so negatively result more from fears than from anything else, and that these people's negative behavior is a self-defense mechanism that they've adopted because nobody's taught them yet about self-acceptance and self-love.
If children shows signs of being afraid, such as crying and hiding, we do our best to comfort them. We hug them, and we try to calm them down. We give them our sympathy and our love.
When an adult shows signs of fear, though, in the form of rudeness or obnoxiousness, we respond by trying to put that person in his or her place. We have little sympathy, and we often feel hurt or diminished by that person's actions or words.
Have you ever seen someone act in a way that was hurtful, and then found out later that something drastic, such as the death of a loved one, had just happened to that person? Once we have an explanation for the behavior, it's not just acceptable, but understandable.
Obert is asking us to look for that explanation for everyone. Imagine being that person, having his job, working with her co-workers, dealing with children who are getting in trouble, trying to recover from a childhood with an abusive parent, still hurt by that painful divorce, still feeling diminished from being laid off from work. This is how we can truly prove our desire to help others--by understanding even those who don't even seem to need our understanding.
Questions to ponder:
1. Can you think of someone with whom you're at odds who may
need your understanding? What would that understanding do for you?
2. Can you imagine yourself living through someone else's situation for a day? For a week? What would that time be like for you?
3. Has anyone ever tried to understand what it's like to be in your shoes?
Why is it so rare for people to do this?
For further thought:
We will recognize that each person needs to nourish and be nourished
by many persons. . . . It is right, even necessary, to make yourselves available to one another in new loving, caring, and fulfilling ways --
without the spectres of old guilts.-Quaker newsletter
Sunday, February 07, 2010
Living Life Fully
You cannot hope to build a better world without improving
the individuals. To that end each of us must work for
his or her own improvement, and at the same time
share a general responsibility for all humanity, our particular
duty being aid to those whom we think we can be most useful.-Marie Curie
I have to improve myself. I don't say that because I think I'm flawed or unworthy, but because that's what life's all about. Life is about growth and development, not stagnation. It's about being more next year than I am this year because I've been open to learning from the many lessons that come my way each day.
This growth is not just for my benefit. In fact, it's less for my benefit than it is for the benefit of those whom I touch with my life every day. I'm a good teacher now, but have you ever had one of those teachers who's been doing everything exactly the same way for the last twenty years? These teachers don't learn new methods or materials--they've found a comfort level that they like, and they've stayed there, stagnating just like water that stands in one place for too long. Water is meant to flow and to mix constantly with new water, not to stand on its own without new influence. But these teachers do just that, and what do we learn from them? In my experience, not much.
Of course, we're obligated to improve ourselves only if we want to make this world a better place. If we don't care about that, then we can spend our lives being entertained passively, learning nothing new at all. But then we're not fulfilling our responsibility of contributing to the world.
Watch the movie Tuesdays with Morrie when you get the chance. Morrie knew that he was dying, but he also knew that he still had the chance to teach other people, to touch their lives in a positive way. And the people who knew him came away richer, and we just know that the people in their lives in turn were enriched by their new growth. We can change the world, one small act at a time.
I think the only thing I would change about Marie Curie's passage above would be to say that that we have an "opportunity" to help, rather than a duty, because as we enrich others, we also enrich ourselves and our own lives. It's all in how we look at it.
Questions to ponder:
1. What can you do today to make the world a better place,
even if it's on the smallest level possible?
2. How can you improve yourself today? Tomorrow? This year?
3. How many people are affected by your actions each day, on any level?
Is the effect that you have on them positive and helpful?
For further thought:
Each person takes care that his neighbor shall not
cheat him or her. But a day comes when we begin to care
that we do not cheat our neighbors. Then all goes well.
We have changed our market-cart into a chariot of the sun.-Ralph Waldo Emerson
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