Friday, March 28, 2014

The True Meaning Of Success

The planet does not need more successful people.  The planet desperately needs more peacemakers, healers, restorers, storytellers and lovers of all kinds.”
-The Dalai Lama
I have been fortunate enough to see the Dalai Lama twice.  He was in Louisville last May.  It is difficult to believe it has almost been a year already.  Everyone wants to be successful but not everyone agrees on the definition of success.  The world measures success by the size of your paycheck, the power you wield, the title you have, the square footage of your office, and who dies with the most toys.  Most religions would measure success by how good you are and how much you love those around you.  I reject the world’s view and I mostly agree with success being measured by one’s goodness and love in action.  I would also add that part of success is being the best version of who you are.  We are all unique, we all have something to give, and we all have a part in the great drama of life.  Shakespeare said that “all the world’s a stage” and that we are all actors.  Success, however, is not acting.  Success is being real and true.  Being real and being true to who we are is a lifelong journey.  Our true selves are often buried deep within us.  The journey of life is to uncover who we really are and to be that person.  Imagine a world where most people were real and true.  It would be a world with more cooperation and less competition.  It would be a world with more love and less hate.  It would be a world with more peace and less war.  It is our obsession with power, prestige, and possessions that creates most of the disharmony in the world.  If you are not already being a peacemaker, healer, restorer, storyteller, or a person motivated by love, begin today.  Along the way you will find yourself and make the world a better place.        

Thursday, March 27, 2014

What Excites You?

Make a list of things that excite you.  What kind of person would you be if you could sustain this level of excitement more often?  What steps can you take to become more like that person.
I must admit that I am a person that doesn’t get excited easily.  I am cynical by nature, more reserved than I care to admit, and my true emotions rarely show.  As a leader one of my weaknesses is an inability to be a cheerleader type of person.  There are certainly people and things that give me joy.  My granddaughter and music come to mind.  However, I don’t think joy and excitement are the same thing.  I think what excites me is when I can be who I really am and do what I do best.  Occasionally this happens but not with a great deal of frequency.  Many people find it difficult to be who they are because they don’t know who they are.  I have a fairly good idea of my identity because I’ve had a long life so far to figure it out.  Many people also don’t know what they do best because they haven’t found their gift yet.  Excitement is a difficult emotion for me.  When I actually feel excitement it is almost uncomfortable.  I suppose the strongest emotion I feel is passion.  Passion, however, is a double edged sword.  On the positive side I can feel passion for something I truly believe in, on the negative side my passion is occasionally repressed anger that has found its way to the surface of my feelings.  Today I will try to meditate on things that excite me and ways that I can nurture this feeling within myself.  I want to live a life where my experiences, thoughts, and actions excite me.  Excitement, like joy, is a wonderful feeling.  I avoid all negative feelings and most of the time I am positive, although not excited.  What about you?    

Wednesday, March 26, 2014

Enjoy Your Life

Today is my birthday and I am 63 years old.  Many people hate to reveal how old they are.  I am proud of my age.  I have had a good life, I’ve been blessed in many ways, and I have witnessed many changes and improvements in life.  I came into being in the summer of 1950 and I was born on this day in 1951.  I grew up in idyllic times when life seemed much simpler than it does now.  I came of age in the 1960’s during a time when society went through many changes.  I got married in the early 70’s, raised two son’s in the 80’s and 90’s, became a grandfather in 2004, and now I get senior citizen discounts on most things.  Some people think it is a terrible thing to get older.  I have enjoyed it.  My life is calmer and slower.  I don’t sweat the small stuff and I’ve learned that most things are small stuff.  Each day I become more and more who I really am.  I’m too old for the games people play so I focus on simple living and being happy.  Even though my body is 63 years old, my mind and heart are much younger.  I still love to rock and roll.  I take some pride in the fact that after almost 40 years of marriage my wife still yells at me to turn my music down.  Much of the knowledge I have acquired has turned into wisdom.  My children are now adults and I am proud of the men they have become.  It makes me happy that they like to spend time with me and I don’t mind that they still make fun of me on occasion.  We will have a family dinner on Friday to celebrate my wife’s recent birthday as well as mine.  I better not get stuck with the bill.  Whatever age you are, enjoy your life.  In spite of the struggle, it is worth the effort.  Enjoy birthdays.  It beats the alternative.  Life is a journey and every stage has it’s joys and occasional sorrows.  Embrace your life’s journey.  Every day is a gift and a mystery.  Enjoy unraveling the mystery of your own life.  As far as my life right now, turning 63 feels pretty good.       

Tuesday, March 25, 2014

Be Sure To Wear The Right Shoes

During our lifetime we walk down many different roads.  We start in one place and end up in another place.  When one road ends, another one begins.  As Tom Hanks declared in the movie Forrest Gump, “I’ve worn lots of shoes”.  In all of the journeys down all of the roads we have traveled in our lives we’ve all worn lots of shoes.  I have an old pair of sneakers with tie dyed shoe strings that are completely worn out but I have kept them because they have taken me to many rock and roll concerts in my life.  The shoes, and the journeys on which I wore them, have many memories for me.  I hope my wife doesn’t pitch them when I am not looking.  Often when we are walking down one of life’s roads we have no idea where it will end or where it will intersect another road.  We don’t always know where we are and it is only by looking in our rear view mirror that we know where we’ve been.  If we know where we are going we have a better idea about what kind of shoes to wear.  I once visited France.  Our hosts took a group of us on a bus trip to a local shrine in a forest.  After we all got off the bus, the bus left us.  Most of us didn’t realize that part of the experience was to hike back to where we began.  The hike back was through the forest.  It was beautiful but there were hills to climb, creeks to cross, and occasional mud.  Some of the ladies and a few of the men were not prepared for such a hike.  I wasn’t wearing my rock and roll shoes but I did have on some shoes appropriate for a hike in the forest.  As you walk down the roads of your life, including the occasional side trip through a forest, be sure you have on the right kind of shoes.    

Saturday, March 22, 2014

A Spirituality Of Remembering

I believe part of the spiritual journey is trying to remember everything we have forgotten.  We are born perfect but begin to lose our true nature as we “mature”.  In a manner of speaking the spiritual journey is a return to the self.  As we grow older we feel like we learn new things.  I don’t think it is a learning so much as it is a remembering.  As we remember who and what we are, we re-discover our true self, the self that is often hidden by our personalities.  As I have shared before, our different personalities are nothing more than defense mechanisms we have unconsciously created as our way to deal with the world around us and also as a way to get love, i.e., if I am perfect people will love me more.  Since we have not all had the same experience of life, we do not all have the same personality.  I know my own personality well.  It has been studied and tested by me on a number of occasions.  I am programmed by my life’s experience to act a certain way.  Many of us even try to look a certain way.  I was asked once if I had a beard so I look “wiser”.  Seriously, the challenge of the spiritual journey, and the return to the self, often pushes us to act the opposite of the way we want to act or think we should act.  On some levels we are all frauds and imposters.  We maintain our illusions of ourselves because we are afraid of who we might really be.  If we are born perfect, a return to our true self cannot be scary.  The real fear should be living an illusion.  People sometimes ask me, “How can I have inner peace”?  Inner peace is not the result of having no conflict or challenges in your life.  Inner peace comes from being who you are, accepting who you are, and being OK with who you are.  If you are doing these things you are on your way to being your true self and experiencing inner peace.  Now if I can just remember to do this….      

Thursday, March 20, 2014

Living My Life

This is not a hermitage, it is a house. ("Who was that hermitage I seen you with last night?") What I wear is pants. What I do is live. How I pray is breathe. Who said Zen? Wash out your mouth if you said Zen. If you see a meditation going by, shoot it. Who said "Love?" Love is in the movies. The spiritual life is something that people worry about when they are so busy with something else they think they ought to be spiritual. Spiritual life is guilt. Up here in the woods is seen the New Testament: that is to say, the wind comes through the trees and you breathe it.  
-Thomas Merton from his essay Day of a Stranger.
This is a quote from one of my favorite Thomas Merton essays.  For those that do not know, Thomas Merton was a monk, priest, and prolific spiritual writer.  He is also the biggest reason I started writing my own thoughts.  Merton lived at the Abbey of Gethsemani which is the same monastery where I lived as a young man although we were not there at the same time.  He spent the last few years of his life as a hermit living in the woods near the monastery.  I have spent a couple of weekends in this hermitage and they were profound experiences for me.  I think the basic message here, and one I need to hear on a regular basis, is to stop trying so hard to be spiritual, deep, and profound.  Wear your pants, live your life, feel the wind, and don’t forget to breathe.  All of life is spiritual so you don’t have to do spiritual things to make life sacred.  Life is sacred and spiritual all by itself.  Of course, spiritual practices and beliefs are fine too and they can enhance your experience of life.  I have read that one should not have to search for meaning in life.  The meaning in life should be obvious.  I must admit that it is not always obvious to me.  More often than not life can seem like a series of random events that have no particular meaning.  I sometimes feel I am simply going through the motions of living.  Perhaps I can’t see the forest for the trees.  Today I will try to breathe, relax, and not obsess over things.  Maybe, without realizing it, I will simply live my life.

Wednesday, March 19, 2014

Do Good For The Joy Of Doing Good

In whatever you so, don’t expect to get anything back, don’t expect recognition for your efforts, don’t expect your genius to be discovered or your love to be understood.  Do it for the joy of doing it, or otherwise it is just another ego trip.
Most of us are good people who try to do good things and who generally care about others.  We give our best and do what we can and much of it goes unnoticed or seems unappreciated.  Sooner or later we realize that we must do what we do simply because it gives us joy or because it is the right thing to do even if we never get any credit, recognition, or appreciation.  Ego is a big thing in our lives.  The desire to be loved and appreciated is equally huge.  Hopefully, we do feel loved and appreciated most of the time whether it be from family, co-workers, friends, or strangers.  Follow your bliss and all that gives you joy.  As St. Augustine once said, way back in the 5th century, “Love and do what you will”.  Do good works and even if there is no immediate gratification, I believe your goodness will come back to you.  History is full of famous people who changed the world.  Today’s news is often full of celebrities who long for anonymity.  Many labor day after day with little recognition.  Some plant trees under whose shade they will never sit.  What’s the point?  I think we should all strive to do what is good and right even if no one else knows we are doing it.  I think many of us will be remembered more from our eventual absence than by our current presence.  We all want attention.  We all want to be noticed.  We all want to be appreciated.  However, you may not get any of these things so don’t depend on them for your happiness.  How you act in secret, when there is no spotlight, says more about your character than most public acts.    

My Personal Life

On the weekend I received an email from a friend asking me why I don’t put my guard down and write more about my personal life and struggles.  I do write about my personal life and more than once I have written that I find life difficult a great deal of the time.  Usually I only share the best parts of my personal life.  No one wants to hear about my wife and I having a disagreement.  Overall I feel like I’ve had a successful life although I often feel I’ve had little personal success.  This year I will be married 40 years.  In this time I have raised two children successfully.  I feel blessed that I’ve had a long employment.  Next year I will be with my employer for 30 years.  Success in life, however, does not always give you an equal measure of happiness.  People seem to like me because I am sensitive and a deep thinker.  These traits are not always as good for me as they might be for others.  I have often struggled in life because I expect too much from it.  I am a dreamer, an idealist, and a romantic.  I don’t write about every bad day that I experience.  I have always strived to make my daily thoughts positive and optimistic.  Rather than share all of my personal failures and struggles, I attempt to help others find the meaning and beauty in their lives.  People write to me and tell me they love my attitude or perspective on life.  It is my goal to be happy, to see the beauty in life, and to practice kindness and compassion to all.  I don’t always reach these goals.  Sometimes I am unhappy and feel overwhelmed with the demands of life.  Occasionally people make me crazy and I just want to be alone.  I want to be engaged with life but often I am disengaged and withdrawn.  The good thing, however, is that I never give up trying to be the kind of person that I want to be.  Some days this comes easily and other days it is difficult.  All of us struggle one way or another.   

Monday, March 17, 2014

An Old Dog Can Learn New Tricks

Never have I enjoyed youth so thoroughly as I have in my old age.
-Writer George Santayana
I know some people must think I am obsessed with aging.  I can’t deny that I do think about aging since I am further down the road of life than many of you.  However, the reason so many of the quotes I use reference aging is that all of them are written by people who are older.  I am getting them from a collection of quotes titled Age Doesn’t Matter Unless You’re A Cheese.  If I am obsessed with anything I hope it is trying to live my life awake, in the moment, and with intention and meaning.  I want a quality life that is lived well.  I do not mean a life with many possessions.  I mean a life with purpose, integrity, and which makes a difference.  I am trying to avoid going through my life asleep, on total auto-pilot, and just getting by with no goals or meaning.  All of these desires are partially met by trying to combine the wisdom of age with a youthful sense of wonder.  Sometimes with age one gets comfortable with things the way they are.  I can’t deny that I like the comfortable and the familiar.  However, I also like new things especially when I overcome any fear or hesitancy I might have embracing them.  Once I embrace something new I often love it.  One example of this is my Kindle.  I am a great lover of books.  All of my life I have loved books and reading.  I have packed and unpacked some books multiple times as I have moved over the years.  I have bought hundreds of books and given away just as many.  I love everything about books.  I was resistant to electronic books until my wife gave me a Kindle for a Christmas present.  I must admit I love it.  Admittedly it is more than just a new way to read books.  I have a variety of apps, music, and books at my disposal.  Unlike an iPod I can’t “burn” real books to my Kindle, the way I can “burn” CD’s to my iPod but any new books I purchase will never have to be packed in crates.  An old dog can be taught new tricks and even in old age one can embrace and enjoy new ideas and youthful inventions.                 

Friday, March 14, 2014

Retirement Training

I took a day off from work yesterday.  The primary reason was that I went to a rock concert on Wednesday night and it was almost 12:30 AM before I went to bed.  Rock and roll and late nights are tough on an aging hippie.  For those who are interested I saw Bob Weir who is an original member of the Grateful Dead.  It was a good show.  Pictured above are some of my friends who attended with me.  A day off from work is also a continuation of my ongoing retirement training.  I got out of bed at my usual time and took my wife to work as I always do.  On a normal day I drive to my office after I drop her off at her workplace since our offices are only a few blocks apart.  Yesterday, however, I just hopped back on the interstate and went home.  On a workday my neighborhood is a very quiet place.  It wasn’t too long after returning home that I fell asleep on my couch.  In the afternoon I visited my 84 year old mother who is in the hospital.  We are expecting a full recovery but she is having a difficult time getting over a case of pneumonia.  My son went with me.  He is a priest and had on his clerical clothes.  As we walked into my mom’s room I assured her that just because I brought a priest with me didn’t mean she was dying.  After a nice visit we left and my son headed back to his parish.  My next stop on my retirement training tour was the pharmacy.  This is already a regular part of my life.  Soon afterwards I received a call from my wife telling me that last night was our granddaughter's Science Fair and we needed to go.  When the time arrived I picked up my wife and drove to Chloe’s school.  We took her to Dairy Queen for dinner where I ate some ice cream that should never touch my lips.  After the science fair was over, and we returned Chloe to her Dad, we headed home and both of us took a nap.  Retirement training is hard work.  I had to go back to work today to get some rest.

Thursday, March 13, 2014

Contemplative Moments

Contemplation is part of the human experience that is overlooked by many as they rush through life.  We all need to have moments in our lives where we can breathe and bask in the wonder of life.  This is not complicated or so esoteric that it is beyond the average person.  Admittedly I grew up with the idea that the contemplative experience was rare and few received the gift.  I have since learned that we all have the capacity for contemplation.  It can be as simple as taking a few minutes to gaze at a full moon  or a beautiful sunset.  It can be a moment of silence in a busy day or a weekend on a retreat.  To be contemplative the only basic requirements are to be awake and aware.  Spring will be here soon.  I can hear it in the mornings when I walk out of my home and I hear birds singing.  Soon I will see daffodils blooming along the interstate highway.  The brown and gray of winter will turn into the bright colors of new life bursting forth all around us.  A big part of being contemplative is having a sense of wonder.  When you can no longer be impressed, when you have lost your sense of awe, when nothing makes you go “wow”!, it is time to re-evaluate your life.  Wonder, awe, gratitude, and being “wowed” from time to time should be a regular part of your life.  There is much in life that is ugly.  There is much to make us cynical and pessimistic.  Contemplation is the antidote for these things.  It is the quiet moments of life that give us what we need to deal with all the other moments that may test us or make us crazy.  Many of us do not have the luxury of going on an extended retreat, or even having a weekend to ourselves, but we all have moments in our day when we can take a few minutes for the pause that refreshes.  I encourage all of you to be on lookout for such moments and to take advantage of them.  If you do I believe you will begin to experience a sense of calm in your life that you may not have now.  Let me share some words taken from Psalm 46 that may help you to find this calm.
Be still and know that I am God.
Be still and know that I am.
Be still and know.
Be still.

Tuesday, March 11, 2014

You Must Leave The Cave

We are all on a journey.  I know this sounds like a cliché but it is true nevertheless.  Often in our lives we feel like we are standing still but we are not.  Journeys and life involve movement.  If we are not moving ourselves, life will move us.  Movement is part of life and there are no journeys that allow us to stand still.  The journey of life is hopefully a long journey with lots of interesting side trips.  Our movement through life may not always be pleasant but if we are lucky it is interesting.  All journeys give us experience and many journeys fill us with wisdom.  The first time we go down a path we may be lost and not know our way.  With each additional trip the path becomes more familiar and we may work the path multiple time just because we enjoy it.  Other paths may be treacherous and if we survive them we make every effort to never go down that path again.  Some paths are rocky or slippery and we must be careful with every step.  Other paths are like a super highway where we can turn on the cruise control and enjoy the scenery.  We often end up on many paths where we have no idea where they will end.  Occasionally they are dead ends but sometimes they take us to the places of our dreams.  I once saw a movie with my granddaughter called “The Croods”.  It was story of a prehistoric family who dwell in a cave.  The father is always reminding the children of his cardinal rule.  The rule is “Never leave the cave”.  Of course, he has a daughter who wants to leave the cave more than anything.  Circumstances finally force the entire family to leave the cave and by doing so, they discover a world full of wonder.  This can also happen to you so get out of your cave and begin your journey.

Monday, March 10, 2014

It Always Smelled Like Bacon

It is another Monday and once again we are back in the dark.  Thank you Daylight Savings Time.  The time change begs for an answer to the question “Does anybody really know what time it is”?  My weekend was full.  In the early morning hours of Saturday, while it was still dark, my granddaughter was dropped off at my home by her Dad on his way to work.  Usually she wakes me up and wants me to immediately get out of bed and go downstairs.  This Saturday was different.  After saying good morning she jumped in my bed and was quickly asleep.  Someone apparently stayed up too late the night before.  Eventually my wife and I got up and went downstairs where I began making breakfast.  Bacon is mandatory when Chloe visits.  Usually the aroma awakens her and she makes her way down the stairs into the kitchen.  I cooked all the bacon and still no Chloe.  I finally had to go upstairs and wake her.  Later on Saturday afternoon we went to the movies and saw “Mr. Peabody and Sherman” in 3D.  Every year when I watch the Oscars the only category where I have seen all the movies is the animated children’s films.  Yes, I have seen “Frozen” and "The Lego Movie.  I love being a grandparent.  Whenever Chloe is around I remember my own childhood and the times I spent the night at my Grandmother’s house.  Whatever kind of person she really was, I thought she was awesome.  Staying at her house was always an adventure.  Since I was part of a large family, it was the only time I got all the attention.  Someday Chloe will think back to all the visits she’s made to my house and she’ll say, “Whenever I went to Meemo and Paw Paw’s house it always smelled like bacon”.   

Friday, March 07, 2014

All Things Must Pass

All Things Must Pass.
-A song and album by George Harrison
Back in 1970, George Harrison, one of the Beatles, released a major album called “All Things Must Pass” after years of being overshadowed by his Beatle band mates, John Lennon and Paul McCartney.  It is a very spiritual album influenced by Hinduism, George’s religion of choice.  The most famous song on the album was “My Sweet Lord”.  It has been my experience in life that all things truly do pass.  In the time I have been on this planet many people, places, and things have passed through and from my life.  The idea that all things pass is bittersweet.  Although many bad things pass, good things are also transitory.  Life is always in flux even though it’s movement is not always discernible in the moments of our lives.  We often feel like nothing ever changes and then we wake up and ten years has passed.  It is a comfort to know that the storms of our lives won’t last forever but the impermanence of life should also remind us to enjoy life when it is sweet.  Life is like the weather.  Some days are stormy and overcast.  Other days are sunny with blue skies and cool breezes.  Sometimes the weather slows us down and other days it energizes us.  We must also remember that we, too, will pass.  As we go through our lives we need to ask ourselves what impact are we having on the world around us.  Are we doing good and positive things with our lives that makes us a sunny day for others or are we a storm that others hope will quickly pass?   

Thursday, March 06, 2014

When Is It Time To Move On?

If you’re the smartest person in your group, your group is too small. Find people who will challenge you to stretch to the next level and become everything you can be.
In my working career I have attended many meetings.  Sometimes in these meetings I thought I was either the smartest person in the room or the dumbest.  There have been other groups and situations that I was involved in where I eventually felt the need to leave.  In some cases I felt like I no longer fit in or the group no longer met my needs.  There have also been situations where I just felt that I had no more to give.  Most of us like our comfort zones and to be honest I hate when people tell me I need to get out of my comfort zone.  Yeah, I know that if you are not being challenged you are probably not growing but I prefer to live and grow on my own schedule and not based on other people’s expectations, desires, and timetables.  Life is always pushing you into new territory whether you like it or not.  There is a saying that goes “when the fruit is ripe it will fall to the ground”.  Another saying that I like is “when the student is ready, the teacher will appear”.  I think I am self-aware enough to know when the fruit of my own life is ripe or when I am ready for a new teacher.  One must always look for signs…and warnings…that it is time to move on.  Good self- awareness also alerts us to our own stagnations and this also prompts us to move on.  Life tends to unfold at its own pace and in ways that are appropriate for us as individuals.  I see my whole life as a journey.  There have been milestones and accomplishments and times where I just stayed put for a while.  Marriage and family life have given me an outer stability in my life but internally I have always been on the move and in search of my ultimate destiny.  I believe my greatest successes are still in front of me. 

Wednesday, March 05, 2014

Kindness And Compassion

Some of my friends and co-workers are dealing with difficult situations in their lives.  I recently shared with someone that I see leadership as ministry.  I joke that the people who report to me are my flock and I am their pastor.  I listen to their problems and I help them when I can.  If they make a mistake I forgive them.  When necessary I strive to point them in a more positive direction.  Perhaps most importantly, I truly care about each of them.  Some people are more work than others but I try to give each person what they need.  I have never seen leadership as me being a policeman or a prison guard.  However, this reflection is not really about leadership.  It is about looking around at your co-workers and realizing that every single one of them is dealing with something in their lives.  Empathy happens to be my number one strength.  I generally understand how most people feel and I care about their feelings.  I am glad that I am empathetic person although it is sometimes exhausting.  Whether you are an empathetic person or not, I encourage you to be tolerant, patient, kind, and compassionate to those around you.  You see that guy that is always joking around?  His laughter may be hiding a great deal of sadness.  That girl that seems unfriendly may have some physical pain that she is masking.  The person who doesn’t join in team lunches may simply not have the money.  That moody person in the next aisle may have recently had their heart broken.  We all have something in our lives that causes us pain.  We all have a part of ourselves that we try to hide from others because we don’t want to show our fears, weaknesses, or insecurities.  No one has a perfect life.  Think about these things the next time you feel judgmental towards others.  For many people today is Ash Wednesday and the beginning of Lent.  It is a time of prayer, reflection, and penance.  Regardless of your personal religious beliefs, let today be the day you renew your caring and compassion for your fellow men and women.  It would be better to do this than to give up Diet Coke or chocolate for the next 40 days.  I have never regretted being kind or compassionate and I don’t think you will either.  Try it because sooner or later you will need to be on the receiving end of someone else’s caring and compassion.   

Tuesday, March 04, 2014

When Life Gives You A Gift

When life gives you a gift, take it.  Yesterday my alarm clock went off at 6:00 AM as it does every workday.  Knowing there was a winter storm warning that covered the overnight hours I immediately went downstairs to check my telephone for messages and texts.  My employer had a three hour weather delay so I didn’t need to be at work until 11:00 AM.  I danced up the stairs and jumped back in bed.  My wife and I went back to sleep and didn’t wake up until 9:00 AM.  Being able to go back to bed, while it is still dark, on a day you don’t expect it, is one of life’s small gifts.  Yes, I would have been even happier if work had been called off entirely, or I could have called in and taken a vacation day, but you don’t quibble too much when any type of unexpected gift comes your way.  I am way past the age when I learned that it’s the small things in life that give me the most happiness.  In our culture extra sleep is worth its weight in gold.  Life often gives us gifts but we don’t always notice them.  In my life I have learned to appreciate any good thing that comes my way.  It could be extra sleep or a green light when I am in a hurry or running late.  If you want to be happier in your life, learn to be grateful.  There are certainly enough daily trials that test most of us.  On a recent episode of “Downton Abbey”  Lady Grantham, also known as Granny, said “Life is little more than a series of problems to be solved”.  Yes, that is a little pessimistic but not totally untrue.  Life is challenging so when it gives you a gift, receive it with gratitude and go back to bed.     

Saturday, March 01, 2014

Your Strengths Are Your Weaknesses

Your strengths are your weaknesses.
-From a teaching on the Enneagram (
We have all taken tests that show our personalities, our preferences, our comfort zones, our strengths,  and our weaknesses.  It would seem logical that we would exploit our strengths and the best parts of who we are.  In general this is true.  However, too much of a good thing can be a bad thing.  I am a nice person but sometimes I am too nice.  There are times when I need to be less accommodating and to assert my own will by not always giving in to what other people want.  I am an analytical person but sometimes I over analyze things.  I am a perfectionist but sometimes this is taken to extreme and is little more than anal retention.  I am usually calm, laid back, and centered but sometimes I need to be more assertive and pro-active with a greater sense of urgency.  We need to look at our strengths to see how we may overuse them.  One thing that helps me is a daily thought I receive for my particular personality.  Some days this thought tells me I need to remember my strengths and to use them.  Other days the daily thought warns me about some of my dysfunctional tendencies and encourages me to do the opposite of what I usually do.  I believe all of us need to be more self-aware and to understand our behavior.  I know myself well enough to usually see when I am at my best, when I am at my worst, and when I am feeling stressed.  We all have patterns of behavior for better or worse that are closely tied to our personalities.  Most people believe their personalities are who they are.  This is not true.  Your personality is actually a defense mechanism that you created early in your life as a way to protect yourself from the world around you and to help you get what you thought you needed in life which is primarily love.  I am nice, accommodating, and calm most of the time because sometime in my childhood I received the message that I needed to be this way in order to be loved.  Each of you received your own message and much of who you are today and how you act is the result of those messages.