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Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Life Quotes ~ Week Five

Life quotes, and what they mean to me...
"They cannot take away our self-respect if we do not give it to them."
Mahatma Gandhi
I really like this quote because it reminds me of one of  the most basic truths of life: Everything begins, ends, and emanates outward from the self.  When we truly love and respect ourselves, that transfers to how we see -- and treat -- other people. (The need to look down upon or criticize others often comes from a need to elevate one's self...a compulsion born of insecurity.  And the need to unduly elevate other people -- often at the expense of one's self -- usually comes from the same place...a feeling of inferiority.)  Yet true kindness and true appreciation come from self-respect, from knowing we are neither above nor below any other being. After all, in order to "love thy neighbor as thyself" one must first love thyself!

And once we obtain that oh-so-simple-yet-profound foundation of self-love -- self respect -- we now have something that is not easily taken away.  We can succeed or fail; encounter others of greater or lesser ability; navigate through a world where some will love us, some will hate us, and some will fail to see us altogether--yet, we will continue to exist exactly as we are, unchanged by the fickle opinions of the masses: Their praise does not make us any greater.  Their condemnation does not render us any lesser.  Rather, we choose who and what we are in every moment, and we remain so independent of what others choose to be, do, or say.  Like our lives, our choices are our own.

To that end, I've always contended that there is a reason we are born alone -- and die alone -- and such a profoundly personal -- and eternal -- connection to Spirit remains indelibly OURS, alone, to foster, nurture, and discover as we go through this journey of life. No one can give us that sense of SELF; it has to come from within. It is not based on how we look or what we have or what we've achieved relative to others, but on who we are, what we do, and all we strive to become, relative to ourselves.  

And once we really get that...once we really respect that...then we indeed possess the one thing this life can never take away -- the one thing from which everything else will evolve.   

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Life Quotes ~ Week Four

Life Quotes...and what they mean to me.

Better to remain silent and be thought a fool than to speak out and remove all doubt.Abraham Lincoln

Okay, now this is just funny.  :-)

But I think the underlying wisdom is this: Sometimes it's wiser to listen than to speak.  Sometimes more can be gained by observing than jumping in.  Sometimes we need to just sit back and learn...rather than try to teach what we clearly don't know. Granted, I'm all for speaking one's mind; standing on principal; and being bold in our mistakes (it's far better to try and fall short than to be so gripped by fear that we don't try anything. Mistakes are how we learn, and being fallible is the one common denominator in the human experience: No one is perfect). Furthermore, I'm not one to put too much emphasis on making decisions based upon what "other people" may or may not think; after all, unless we're true to ourselves, everything we give to others is counterfeit, anyway.  


It is the wise soul who can admit when he or she just doesn't know something. There is a form of confidence...and silence.  Not to mention a grand opportunity to learn. 

So, if I'm taking this quote at face value, then being silent -- when we just don't know -- is a form of standing on principal, not caring what others think...not needing to open our mouths and pretend.  It doesn't make us less than someone else  to be ignorant about something; that only means we haven't yet been taught.  And it doesn't make us stupid to say, "honestly, I just don't know."  That only means we haven't yet been shown.  But to be fully aware that we're out of our depth; to know without question that whatever is being said may as well be Greek; and then to precede, just the same, to boldly shout our lack of understanding from the tallest mountain top...

Well now, that's just funny.  ;-)

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Life Quotes ~ Week Three

Life Quotes...and what they mean to me.

If you change the way you look at things, the things you look at change. Wayne Dyer

To me, this means that attitude, expectation, and perspective greatly color outcome (not unlike the topic of the previous week's quote).  Sometimes, we are hard pressed to change a set of circumstances in our lives; for whatever reason, there is simply something placed in our paths we would rather not deal with.  When that happens, the only option we have is to change the way we look at things: decide to see the good (however small),  choose to envision a positive outcome (however  unlikely)...insist upon taking a positive approach.

Directives like this one are so simple, yet acting on them is SO hard!  Our brains tend to behave like "horses to a barn" -- automatically heading toward the negative, naturally wanting to reinforce what we see, know,  and feel  as reality.  I saw someone being cruel on the news; I know from experience that this situation is occurring more and more often; I feel like there are fewer and fewer kind people in the world.

But wait!  What if the news had chosen to show one of the numerous acts of kindness or goodness that occurred in your city today?  Would that change your perspective?  And if so, then what reality is the true reality?  Perhaps you chose to look at that cruel act on the news as a growing epidemic instead of reminding yourself that the vast majority of people will never behave that badly. Instead of thinking about all the small courtesies you've witnessed in the last few hours (the clerk at the store smiled; the gentleman in front of you held the door; the lady at the stop sign let you go first...etc).  And because you chose to look at this negative news report  as an epidemic, your mind set out to reinforce that perspective by offering examples from all over the place  -- the past, the national news, a story you heard in kindergarten!  And now that you've looked at things from the worst possible angle, your mind has provided a handful of examples proving that you knowthis to be true, you end up feeling helpless and discouraged.  And all these things further reinforce a negative view of "reality." 

Since the same process we choose to reinforce the negative can also reinforce the positive, why not make a conscious effort to change the way we look at things -- and see what happens. At the very least, this gives us a starting point, a variable we can control in those situations that may temporarily feel out of control, and a positive  reason to embrace hope.  From there...the sky may very well be the limit.

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

Life Quotes ~ Week Two

Life Quotes...and what they mean to me.

"Obstacles are things a person sees when he takes his eyes off his goal.” E. Joseph Cossman

The way I see it, perception is 99% of reality (or is it 89%, 97.6%, or 99.9%?).  Okay, so I didn't look up the stat, but the point is the same: What we perceive (see, believe, interpret) is far more real than any concrete set of facts. Perhaps that's why different individuals experience -- and react to -- the same set of circumstances in completely different ways. We really do see the glass as half empty or half-full, the milk as sweet or spoiled, the outcome of drinking as destined to quench our thirst...or sure to give us heartburn. 

And rarely do our expectations disappoint.

Knowing this to be true, there are two ways to approach any given situation: to fix our eyes on what we want...imagine it, claim it, anticipate it...or to allow our attention to be diverted in response to every distraction, fear, or limitation we encounter.  Not only do these two different choices create very different outcomes, but they also affect the journey -- how much we enjoy or hate where we're going along the way.  If we could keep our eyes on the prize, so to speak (never forget what it is we really want), the challenges of getting there wouldn't be so overwhelming.  If we could dismiss those negative or fear-filled comments made by a neighbor, friend, or acquaintance (how one "man" chooses to expand or limit himself has nothing to do with the freedom of choice allotted another); if, better yet, we could learn to stop soliciting unwanted advice (no one else can possibly know the depth or your dreams, the uniqueness of your soul, or the priority any one thing might have in your overall life); and if, while we're at it, we could practice turning away from all of the negative  information, statistics, and examples laid out before us -- just waiting to demonstrate what we can't achieve (YES! I am actually talking about turning off that news broadcast, throwing out that magazine article, changing that depressing subject before it takes root) -- then a lot of those impossible dreams would begin to seem possible.

Might even become possible...

Of course, I understand that this is easier said than done, but why not try.  Why not carry around a note card reminding ourselves to keep our eyes on our goals, to switch our thinking from what we don't want to what we do want?  Why not constantly force ourselves to keep our thoughts on our dreams?

After all, if obstacles are what we see when we take our eyes off our goal, and if what we see or perceive issome really large percent of reality, then maybe we can influence our own reality simply by choosing where to fix our eyes.


And hey,  if we still fall a little short of our goals now and then, well at least we had a great time doing it!  But my guess is, we will probably succeed a whole heck of a lot more than we fail...

(And a heck-of-a-lot...that's gotta' be up there around at least 92.8%!)

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

Life Quotes ~ week one

Life Quotes...and what they mean to me.

For everything you have missed, you have gained something else, and for everything you gain, you lose something else.Ralph Waldo Emerson

I love this quote because it reminds me of the natural cycles of life: winter giving way to spring, spring giving way to summer, and summer giving way to fall.  In order to move onto the next challenge, obstacle, lesson --opportunity -- in our lives, we have to be willing to move away from the past. If we want a new pair of shoes, at some point, we have to take off the ones we're wearing.

As human beings, we are naturally nostalgic about where we've been; thus, why we immortalize precious moments with photographs, glorify historical figures, sometimes to the point of leaving out their not-so-good aspects (yes, he was a great leader but he also neglected his children and cheated on his wife), and continue to tell bigger-than-life stories about back in the day.... 

This is as it should be: unless and until we get stuck in the past at the cost of the present.  Or future.  Unless we believe our best days are behind us.  Until we yearn for where we've been more than we dream of where we're going.

To that end, children seem to strike a perfect balance.  They live in the moment; feel the full extent of every emotion; play as hard as they can play; yet dream of the next birthday (they'll be older and taller!), count the days until the next holiday (they'll throw a grand party!), and imagine the next grade in school (they'll walk the halls with the big kids!). To choose for one thing is, by default, to choose against another, and to move toward a new thing is often to move away from something else.  But that is precisely how life is meant to be: There are so many flavors to taste, places to visit, people to meet.  Sure, there will be those things that become staples, those things we embrace throughout our entire lives, but when the time comes to gain a new perspective, to make a new friend, to walk away from something embark upon a new beginning, we can only hope to do so with the grace and wonder of children.  To accept the profound truth spoken by Ralph Waldo Emerson...and then to proceed...

Boldly.  Without regret.  Dreaming of the infinite possibilities.

{All quotes taken from}