A Light in a Life of Gloom

Eric Moreno

Photo Credit: Eric Moreno via CC Flickr

It seems to me, generally speaking, that people are becoming increasingly more uneasy, drab, and miserable. Negativity, pessimism, and a general malaise pervade today’s society. Wars, rumors of wars, terrorism, harmful and destructive banter, violence, riots, race bating, etc., have basically resulted in air of melancholy throughout the land. Its negative influence is apparent just about wherever you go in today’s world.

So, what you do? Is there anything that we can do to improve this situation…Maybe in our own small way? It has been said, that for every one negative thing that a person says to another individual, that person should then say seven positive things to offset that negative word.

Our words are powerful weapons that we can use to uplift others, build up their confidence, self-worth, and overall sense of well-being and self-reliance. There are many, many things that we can do to accomplish this goal…share a few kind words to someone, giving others compliments, a courteous acknowledgement, a word of encouragement…the list goes on and on. Today’s story is a beautiful example of the kind of encouragement that warms the heart of another individual, but it also demonstrates the sad illustration of regret.

Two men, both seriously ill, occupied the same hospital room. One man was allowed to sit up in his bed for an hour each afternoon to help drain the fluid from his lungs. His bed was next to the room’s only window.

The other man had to spend all his time flat on his back. The men talked for hours on end. They spoke of their wives and families, their homes, their jobs, their involvement in the military service, where they had been on vacation. And every afternoon when the man in the bed by the window could sit up, he would pass the time by describing to his room-mate all the things he could see outside the window.

The man in the other bed began to live for those one-hour periods where his world would be broadened and enlivened by all the activity and color of the world outside. The window overlooked a park with a lovely lake. Ducks and swans played on the water while children sailed their model boats. Young lovers walked arm in arm amidst flowers of every color of the rainbow. Grand old trees graced the landscape, and a fine view of the city skyline could be seen in the distance.

As the man by the window described all this in exquisite detail, the man on the other side of the room would close his eyes and imagine the picturesque scene. One warm afternoon the man by the window described a parade passing by. Although the other man couldn’t hear the band – he could see it in his mind’s eye as the gentleman by the window portrayed it with descriptive words.

Then unexpectedly, a sinister thought entered his mind. Why should the other man alone experience all the pleasures of seeing everything while he himself never got to see anything? It didn’t seem fair. At first thought the man felt ashamed. But as the days passed and he missed seeing more sights, his envy eroded into resentment and soon turned him sour. He began to brood and he found himself unable to sleep. He should be by that window – that thought, and only that thought now controlled his life.

Late one night as he lay staring at the ceiling, the man by the window began to cough. He was choking on the fluid in his lungs. The other man watched in the dimly lit room as the struggling man by the window groped for the button to call for help. Listening from across the room he never moved, never pushed his own button which would have brought the nurse running in. In less than five minutes the coughing and choking stopped, along with that the sound of breathing. Now there was only silence-deathly silence.

The following morning the day nurse arrived to bring water for their baths. When she found the lifeless body of the man by the window, she was saddened and called the hospital attendants to take it away. As soon as it seemed appropriate, the other man asked if he could be moved next to the window. The nurse was happy to make the switch, and after making sure he was comfortable, she left him alone. Slowly, painfully, he propped himself up on one elbow to take his first look at the world outside. Finally, he would have the joy of seeing it all himself. He strained to slowly turn to look out the window beside the bed. It faced a blank wall.

The man asked the nurse what could have compelled his deceased roommate who had described such wonderful things outside this window. The nurse responded that the man was blind and could not even see the wall. She said, “Perhaps he just wanted to encourage you.”

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Which person will you be?

How bright is your light?

The choice is yours!

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Story Source: truthbook.com

Great Life Lessons to Live By

Dennis Yang

Photo Credit: Dennis Yang via CC Flickr

There are many times throughout our everyday lives that we get caught up in the ”hustle and bustle” of life and forget “the little things”…the things that should be the most important things to live by.

Whether we are experiencing tough situations in life or are enjoying good times, quite often, these little principles, are the nuggets of truth that will help make our lives a little bit happier and more enjoyable.

I recently came across the following article, written by Barry Davenport,“Life Lessons That Have Endured the Test of Time.” via http://liveboldandbloom.com, about these life lessons that I thought would be a good thing to share. So, without further ado, here is today’s encouraging and motivational article.


You know the old saying, “Youth is wasted on the young?”

I think about that on occasion — how I wish I’d had the self-awareness, confidence, and joy I have now when I was in my twenties and thirties.

So much of life is wasted on worry, regret, pain, and heartache. Of course some of this is inevitable and necessary. But I spent too many of my younger days sweating over things I didn’t need to sweat about.

I simply didn’t know better. Or if I did, it just hadn’t sunk in yet.

I suppose “life lessons” are called that for a reason. You need to experience life in order to learn the lessons. And the more life you experience, the more lessons you accumulate. However, some extremely valuable lessons came from other people. Some I learned from reading great thinkers like Eckhart Tolle and Byron Katie. Others were passed on from friends and family.

Although some lessons must be learned through experience, you don’t have to wait until midlife to become aware of what’s truly meaningful and worthwhile. You simply need the curiosity and desire for self-awareness and personal growth. Once you learn the lessons, you can apply them in your life at any age and see the benefits to your happiness and well-being.

Here are 50 important life lessons that have stood the test of time:

Life is now

We keeping waiting for that amazing thing to happen in the future that will be the key to our happiness. But this is it. Right now. Life continues to be a series of right nows. So learn to love right now, and you’ll have an amazing life.

Fear is an illusion (mostly)

Most of the things we fear never happen. Or if they do happen, they are rarely as bad as we fear they will be. For most of us, fear is the worst thing that will happen to us. Reality isn’t as painful.

Relationships rule

At the end of the day, what matters most are the people in our lives. Put them first every single day. Before work. Before the computer. Before your hobbies. Treat them like they are everything to you. Because they are.

Debt isn’t worth it

Nothing is more draining and humiliating than being in debt. Spend below your means. Save money. Live free.

Your kids aren’t you

You re the vessel to bring your children into the world and their caretakers until they can care for themselves. You can teach them, love them, and support them, but you can’t change them. They are unique individuals who must live their own lives. Let them.

Things gather dust

Time and money spent accumulating material things will one day irritate you. You must clean, maintain, and move stuff. The less stuff you have, the freer you are. Purchase mindfully.

Fun is underrated

How much of your day is fun? Really fun? Life is short. We should enjoy it. Don’t make things serious that don’t have to be. Create more fun in your life. Don’t worry about what other people think of your fun. Just enjoy it.

Failure is good

We try so hard to avoid failure, but failure is the real evidence that we’ve tried. If you avoid failure, you avoid taking action. Expect and accept that failure is part of the experience. Learn from it and move on.

Friendships need care

One of the top five regrets of the dying is that they let their friendships fade away. Friendships need time and attention. Nurture them like a prized garden. The payoff is so worth it.

Experiences first

The pleasure and positive memories afforded by great experiences far outweigh material things. If you’re trying to decide between the new sofa or the family trip, take the trip every time.

Anger isn’t worth it

The feel-good release of anger lasts a few minutes. The repercussions last far longer. Regret, stress, and unhappiness are the byproducts of angry outbursts. Learn healthier ways to communicate your feelings, and when anger arises, step away until it dissipates.

Kindness matters

Small expressions of kindness have an enormous positive impact on other people. It doesn’t take much to be kind. Practice it every day, in every situation, until it’s your natural way of being.

Age is a number

When you’re twenty you think fifty is old. When you’re fifty, you feel thirty. Our chronological age doesn’t have to define us. Don’t allow a number to hold you back or prevent you from being the person you are inside.

Vulnerability heals

Being real, open, and vulnerable invites people in and allows them to relate to you on a much deeper and more intimate level. Vulnerability, practiced with safe and loving people, can heal emotional pain and strengthen relationships.

Posturing builds walls

Creating a persona to impress or shield yourself from pain diminishes intimacy and authenticity. People generally see through this, and it pushes them away.

Exercise is power

Exercise should be a daily priority for everyone. It makes you physically, mentally, and emotionally stronger. It improves your health and your outlook. It is the panacea for just about everything.

Grudges cause pain

Holding on to a grudge is like injecting poison into your body every day. Forgive and let go. There’s no other way.

Passion upgrades life

When you find that thing you love to do with all your heart, every day feels like a gift. If you haven’t found your passion, make it your mission to find it. The joy it brings spills over into all aspects of your life.

Travel expands you

Travel makes you are more interesting, insightful, and accepting person. It expands you, enlightens you, and teaches you about the variety of people, lifestyles, and cultures. It is a pursuit well worth saving for.

You aren’t always right

We think we have the answers, know what’s right and wrong, good and bad, best for ourselves and other people. But we aren’t always right. There’s always more than one version. There are many perspectives that are valid. Keep yourself open to that truth.

It will pass

Whatever is causing you worry or pain right now won’t cause you worry and pain forever. Time heals. Things change. It will pass.

You define meaning

A meaningful life is what you define it to be. If you neglect to define meaning, you won’t experience it. Decide what makes life worth living for you, and then design your life around that.

Risk expands you

To make positive change in your life, you often must take risk. You must tolerate some level of uncertainty. Taking thoughtful, calculated risk strengthens your change muscle and helps you grow.

Change is good

Life is change. We shouldn’t resist it. Remaining stagnant is in opposition to the natural order of life. Flow with change. Embrace it and regard it as an adventure.

Thoughts aren’t real

Every moment of the day, we have random thoughts floating through our brains. Many of the thoughts are negative and limiting. You don’t have to believe them. They aren’t the truth or the whole truth. Thoughts can become our reality, but only if we let them.

You can’t control others

We want people to think and behave as we do. We want them to accommodate us and live the way we think they should live. We want to change them. But with awareness, we realize we can’t and shouldn’t try to control others. Instead, embrace differences and honor the uniqueness of the people in your life.

Your body is a temple

We all have something, or many somethings, we hate about our bodies. But your body houses your very essence. Treat your body with respect and care for the efficient and wondrous way it takes care of you.

Touch heals

Physical touch is healing and intimate. It bonds us to other people and relieves stress and anxiety. It has a myriad of health benefits such as lowering heart rate and improving the immune system. Mindful, loving touch with those you love is a gift that should be shared.

You can handle it

Whatever you think you can’t handle, you actually can. You have more strength, more resilience, and more inner wisdom than you give yourself credit for. You’ll get through it and survive.

Gratitude multiplies happiness

Consciously focusing on all you have rather than thinking about what you don’t have is afar better use of brain power. Gratitude fosters positive feelings and well-being.

Intuition counts

Your judgement is important, but your intuition super charges your judgement. Intuition is data from your subconscious mind, based on your past experiences and patterns in life. It can arise spontaneously when you are called on to make a decision or need information.

Please yourself first

Pleasing others for approval and acceptance might feel good in the short term, but eventually you will lose yourself and feel resentful. Please yourself first and give to others based on conscious choice, not the desire for approval.

Self-honesty is freedom

When you are in denial about something, you are blinding  yourself to the truth. And even if the truth is temporarily painful, it will ultimately set you free. Be radically honest with yourself so you can live authentically.

Perfection is boring

Perfection is unattainable, and the pursuit of it makes us boring. It is our differences, our foibles, and our imperfections that connect us to humanity and make us real.

Serving creates meaning

If you want meaning in your life, start with serving others. Find a way to make a difference, even a small difference, and your life will feel purposeful.

Little things matter

It’s not the big wins, the great accomplishments, or the status in life that really count. It’s the accumulation of little things — the quiet moments in nature, special time with our kids, seeing the smile on our spouse’s face when we walk in the door. Pay attention to these things.

Learn forever

There is so much to learn and explore in our very short lifetimes. Take advantage of learning every single day. Challenge yourself to acquire a new skill, read something different, take a class. Learning keeps our minds engaged and sharp, even into old age.

Aging happens

Our bodies age. It is a truth we can’t avoid. You can manage aging by doing the best with what you’ve got. But beyond that, do your best to let it go. Enjoying life is the best antidote to getting older.

Marriages change

The person you married will change over time. You will change over time. Hopefully you will change in the same direction or come to love the changes in the other person. Don’t let these changes take you by surprise.

Worry is worthless

Worry is useful only if it leads directly to a solution. But the very nature of worry implies that it doesn’t. You worry about “what if’s” that aren’t real, and the worry itself creates stress and physical symptoms that cause real reason for angst. Learn how to manage your worry thoughts.

Heal your wounds

Don’t allow pain from your past (or present) to linger and cause you suffering. Don’t stuff it down or pretend it doesn’t matter when it does. Seek support from a professional trained to help you heal and renew your emotional health.

Simple is better

A life full of complications, obligations, and an overwhelming schedule make life more difficult and stressful. A simpler life in all regards gives you more space for joy and engagement.

Do the work

If you want something in life, you must do the work to get it. There are rarely shortcuts. But truthfully the work is what affords the most sense of accomplishment.

It’s never too late

This is an excuse for not trying. Great things can be accomplished at any age.

Action beats angst

Action is the cure for worry, procrastination, indecision, anxiety, and frustration. Stop thinking and do something, and you will create momentum that leads to something valuable or at the least heals your turmoil.

Creation beats reaction

Be proactive in your life, designing exactly what you want rather than reacting to what life throws at you. Creation empowers you and expands your opportunities.

Release attachments

Don’t become too attached to outcomes or beliefs. Remain open to all possibilities and ideas. You will be surprised how much more there is to life when you don’t cling to your life experience.

Your words matter

The words you speak have power. Consider your words carefully. Use them for good rather than harm. Once they are out, you can’t take them back.

Make every day count

If you live to age ninety, how many days do you have left? It is a finite number, and one day you will reach the last one. Be conscious of the value of every single day.

Love is the answer

Love is why we are here. It is the force for good in this sometimes random and harsh world. Share it freely. Express is daily.

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Story Credit: Barry Davenport via http://liveboldandbloom.com

The Acre of Diamonds

Zach Dischner

Photo Credit: Zach Dischner via CC Flickr

The following story was told by Dr. Russell H. Conwell to raise millions of dollars to help fund the formation of Temple University in Philadelphia. He used the story to fire the imagination of his listeners during more than 6,000 fund-raising lectures. The story gives us a tremendous illustration of a way that a person can find true happiness in their own “Acres of Happiness.”

Many, many years ago, a young American was traveling down the Tigris and Euphrates rivers in the Middle East and was accompanied by an old Arab guide that he had hired in Bagdad.

During the trip, the guide told him a story about an ancient Persian Ali Hafed. Hafed owned a very large farm, orchards, grain fields, gardens, and money coming in from loans that he made. He was a wealthy and contented man.

One day Hafed was visited by an ancient Buddhist priest who told him how the earth was created and, particularly, about the most valuable thing in the world – diamonds!

Said the priest, “A diamond is a congealed drop of sunlight.” The priest told Hafed that, if he had one diamond the size of his thumb, he could purchase the entire county, and if he had a mine of diamonds he could place his children upon thrones through the influence of his great wealth.”

This set Hafed’s mind ablaze with a lust for such great wealth. So he sold his farm, left his family in charge of a neighbor, and began a search for diamonds in places the priest had said might contain them. Hafed spent all of his money on his lifelong, unsuccessful search and died, far from home, a penniless, suffering, disappointed old man.

The man who purchased Hafed’s farm one day led his camel into the garden to drink and as the camel put its nose into the shallow water of the garden brook, Hafed’s successor noticed a curious flash of light emanating from a black stone in the stream. He pulled out the black stone and placed it on the mantel of his fireplace in his home, and forgot about it.

A few days later the same Buddhist priest who had taught Hafed about the diamonds came to meet the new owner and saw the black stone. “That is a diamond!” he shouted. When his host said that it was just a pebble he had picked up in the garden, the priest replied, “I tell you, I know a diamond when I see it. I know without a shadow of a doubt, that the stone is a diamond.”

It turns out that the farm became the famed diamond mine of Golconda, the richest diamond mine in all of history. The Kohinoor diamond and the crown jewels of England and Russia came from that mine.

The moral, of course,  is that, if Hafed had spent his time and energy exploring his own farm, he would have discovered riches beyond his wildest dreams. This story should teach us all, that if you wish you find greatness, and even wealth, you must first begin where you are…NOW! If you serve your community in a positive way, if you are an honest person, if you are a good provider for your family, whether you work in a shop, in a factory, or whatever your occupation may be, you can find happiness and recognition if you do it well. To find success in whatever endeavor that you choose, you must first look for your “acre of diamonds” right where you live.

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Source: “Wisdom Well Said”

Gestures of Kindness

Pixabay CC0 Public Domain

Photo Credit: Pixabay CC0 Public Domain

There are many kinds of people that we can find in today’s world: the pessimists and optimists, the solemn, the boisterous, the sad, the happy, the mean and nasty, the thoughtful and caring…the list goes on and on. There are also numerous ways that people convey the way they feel towards others by how they act, what they say, and how they behave towards others.

Think of  five different people that you may know…whether or not they are you friends or not does not matter. Think of how they act and/or what they say…OK…think of the way that you feel when they are around you. Do they make you happy or sad? Angry or joyful? Worthless or invaluable? Do they make you feel like a million bucks and on top of the world or like a loser that isn’t worth a dime? Our actions, more than our words, really can mean everything to people that we come in contact with everyday.

Let me tell you this quick little story: Every Sunday, my family and I go to church and every week, as I am walking to my seat, there is one elderly usher, who I will name Charlie, that I always look forward to see the most. I have known Charlie for many years now, but unfortunately, I have never really gotten to know him and I have only learned things about him by bits and pieces. I know that he lives alone with his beloved dog, lost his wife years ago, enjoys camping, and loves the Lord. Like I said, I really don’t know much about him…BUT…I do know this, he is a man with a gentle soul who always has kind words to say, a big smile, a caring spirit, and has always been a HUGE inspiration and source of reassurance to me…he is a quiet man of encouragement!

How many of you are a “Quiet Encouragement” to others? The great thing is this…you don’t have to do or say a lot of things to be a light and inspiration to others! So, make a goal every day and determine how many people you will try to encourage through simple gestures of kindness!

An Encouragement for Dealing With the Discouragements in Life.

Wikimedia

Photo Credit: National Institutes of Health via Wikimedia

I think that it is safe to say that most people like to help others. The gesture makes us feel good about ourselves and makes our lives a little brighter and happier. Conversely, there are instances in which it can seem like we do kind and caring things for people as well as try to “live the good life.” Have you ever noticed that? You try to do things the right way over and over again…yet some individuals that you may know (or don’t know) keep finding the one wrong thing that you may have done and focus on that.

Today’s story serves as an encouragement for you…to remind you to always keep your eyes on the positive things in life and not the mistakes that you may have made.

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One day a school teacher wrote the following math equations on the blackboard;

9×1=7

9×2=18

9×3=27

9×4=36

9×5=45

9×6=54

9×7=63

9×8=72

9×9=81

9×10=90

When he was done, he looked at the students who were all laughing at him, because the first equation was wrong. The teacher then said the following….”I wrote that first equation wrong on purpose because I wanted you to learn something important. This was for you to know how the world out there will treat you. You can see that I wrote the correct equations 9 times correctly but none of you congratulated me for it; you all laughed and criticized me because of the one wrong thing that I did. So this is the lesson…”

“The world will never appreciate the good you do a million times, but will criticize you for the one wrong thing that you do…don’t get discouraged.”

“ALWAYS RISE ABOVE THE LAUGHTER AND CRITICISM…STAY STRONG!.”

Time is Precious

vincent-albanese

Photo Credit: Vincent Albanese via CC Flickr

The speed and pace of today’s world is absolutely incredible. It seems as though time is flying by quicker and quicker, and we find ourselves with less time to do the things that we once did. The Technology Age, computers, the internet, social media, etc., has made it so that information can be found instantly and at the touch of a button.

Unfortunately, statistics also show us that people are under more stress, have less social skills, and are more out of shape, then ever before. How often do we desire to do something with our loved ones, family or friends…then “put it off”, and never get to do it?

The following poem, “Slow Dance,” written by David Weatherford, is an awesome reminder of the importance of spending our time wisely. Using our limited time here on Earth, to enjoy friendships, the beauty of the world, the joy of life, etc. It is my hope that the following words touch your heart and inspire you to understand the sweet importance of time and how we should use it.

“SLOW DANCE” by DAVID WEATHERFORD

Have you ever watched kids on a merry-go-round

Or listened to rain slapping on the ground?

Ever followed a butterfly’s erratic flight

Or gazed at the sun fading into the night?

You better slow down, don’t dance so fast,

Time is short, the music won’t last.

 

Do you run through each day on the fly?

When you ask, “How are you?” do you hear the reply?

When the day is done, do you lie in your bed

With the next hundred chores running through your head?

You better slow down, don’t dance so fast,

Time is short, the music won’t last.

 

Ever told your child, “We’ll do it tomorrow,”

And in your haste not seen his sorrow?

Ever lost touch, let a good friendship die,

’Cause you never had time to call and say hi?

You better slow down, don’t dance so fast,

Time is short, the music won’t last.

 

When you run so fast to get somewhere,

You miss half the fun of getting there.

When you worry and hurry through your day,

It’s like an unopened gift thrown away.

Life is not a race, so take it slower,

Hear the music before your song is over.

 

A Man and a Fork

5908895414_7e3b59ae4c_b

Photo Credit: Waferboard via CC Flickr

There was a young man who had been diagnosed with a terminal illness and had been given three months to live. So as he was getting his things ‘in order,’ he contacted his Priest and had him come to his house to discuss certain aspects of his final wishes.

 He told him which songs he wanted sung at the service,what scriptures he would like read, and what outfit he wanted to be buried in.

Everything was in order and the Priest was preparing to leave when the young man suddenly remembered something very important to him.

 

‘There’s one more thing,’ he said excitedly..

 

‘What’s that?’ came the Priest’s reply.

 

‘This is very important,’ the young man continued.

‘I want to be buried with a fork in my right hand.’

 

The Priest stood looking at the young man, not knowing quite what to say.

That surprises you, doesn’t it?’ the young man asked.

 

‘Well, to be honest, I’m puzzled by the request,’ said the Priest.

 

The young man explained. ‘My grandmother once told me this story, and from that time on I have always tried to pass along its message to those I love and those who are in need of encouragement.

In all my years of attending socials and dinners, I always remember that when the dishes of the main course were being cleared, someone would inevitably lean over and say,

‘Keep your fork.

 

‘ It was my favorite part because I knew that something better was coming …. like velvety chocolate cake or deep-dish apple pie.

 

Something wonderful, and with substance!’

 

So, I just want people to see me there in that casket with a fork in my hand and I want them to wonder ‘What’s with the fork?’

 

Then I want you to tell them:

‘Keep your fork … the best is yet to come.’

The Priest’s eyes welled up with tears of joy as he hugged the young man good-bye. He knew this would be one of  the last times he would see him before his death.

But he  also knew that the young man had a better grasp of heaven than he did. He had a better grasp of what heaven would be like than many people twice his age, with twice as much experience and knowledge.

 

He KNEW that something better was coming.

 

At the funeral people were walking by the young man’s casket and they saw the suit he was wearing and the fork placed in his right hand. Over and over, the Priest heard the question, ‘What’s with the fork?’ And over and over he smiled.

 

During his message, the Priest told the people of the conversation he had with the young man shortly before he died. He also told them about the fork and about what it symbolized to him.

 

He told the people how he could not stop thinking about the fork and told them that they probably would not be able to stop thinking about it either.

 

He was right. So the next time you reach down for your  fork let it remind you, ever so gently, that the best is yet to come.

 

Friends are a very rare jewel, indeed.

They make you smile and encourage you to succeed.

 

Cherish the time you have, and the memories you share. Being friends with someone is not an opportunity, but a sweet responsibility.

Send this to everyone you consider a FRIEND… and  I’ll bet this will be an Email they do remember, every time they pick up a fork!

And just remember … keep your fork!

The BEST is yet to come!