The good is often the enemy of the best; we can settle for mediocrity or strive for excellence

Settling for the good, or even the mediocre, has a definite ingrained appeal; indolence and procrastination are a part of the animalistic side of our human nature.  Choosing to do as little as possible gives us an easier life. But settling leads us to accepting mediocrity in relationships, careers, and all areas of our life. Fredrick Douglas said “As a general rule, where circumstances do most for men, there man ill do least for himself; and where man does least, he is least. His doing or not doing makes or unmakes him.”

Choosing to excel gives us a chance to enjoy the best life on the planet but also introduces potential pitfalls. We must exert a continuous effort, but not become a slave to struggle; we strive for the best, but try not to waste effort solving unimportant problems; we have to act, but avoid becoming a control fanatic—trying to make things happen our way, in our time and with the results we want. We grow to accept the inevitable mistakes, overcome adversity, and see disappointment as opportunity. We do not settle for mediocrity or complacency

Prayer: My supreme creator, parent and friend, guide me to realize that I only have this one life and have been given the power to choose how I will spend each day. Help me accept strenuous effort, challenges, and even adversity as opportunities to excel, as chances to become stronger, and as the opening to a better life. It is my will that your will be done.

 Take three relaxing breaths; ask your inner spirit to guide your meditation; reflect on the content, pausing for a few minutes in silence.

Make a “to be” list in addition to a “to do” list.

We get so caught up in living the rat race that we forget to actually live. We develop patterns—the mental-emotional response habits—that continually produce stress, anxiety, worry, and fear. We rush about, cramming as much activity as possible into each day; then, we crash, take a mood-altering chemical to help us relax and feel better or to sleep; and then get up the next day and do the same thing. Day after day after day. Yes we must earn a living and take care of certain necessities. But the art of living—the method of achieving the highest quality life—includes being the best version of our self and not just simply filling the day with actions.

A “to be” list might help.  Perhaps today, make a commitment to be more tolerant, compassionate, loving, patient, cheerful, kind or gentle; perhaps just pick one or two values that are important to you. The “to be” list can also include specific actions that move us to fulfill the desired value. For example if we want to be more loving, we commit to a definite act that will demonstrate love this day—we can show one person how much we value him or her, that we are grateful they share our life; we can extend an act of kindness without expecting anything in return; we can offer a hug, a massage, or prepare a special meal.

Prayer:  My dear loving spiritual guide, companion, and inner power, melt the hurry in my mind and soul this day. Help me be aware of values in addition to things; help me look for opportunities to practice the principles that are important to me; strengthen my resolve to take an action that reflects my true values. It is my will that your will be done.

Take three relaxing breaths; ask your inner spirit to guide your meditation; reflect on the content, pausing for a few minutes in silence.

There is no law that I must allow people to “push my buttons”

After all, they are MY buttons.

Do I give other people the power to make me angry? To make me feel guilty? To make me ashamed?  Do I react to what others say, how they look at me, or what I think they think about me? Do I silently accept what “they” say I should do; how I should live my life; what my goals, dreams, and aspirations should be? And then withdraw to complain or inwardly simmer because of whatthey” say, do, or think?

Every feeling, every beautiful or painful emotion I have is inside of me and no one else. No person has ever held my head and forced me to swallow a spoonful of anger or guilt or any misery. They simply offer each of them. I am responsible to accept or reject the offering; I am responsible for all my feelings and reactions. I can allow anyone to “push my buttons” or I can accept the truth that these are my buttons and no law or ethical code that requires I allow other people to control them.

Prayer: Dear God—the source of that infinite inner power that can transform my habits, patterns, actions, and thoughts—grant me control of my inner being; help me to not automatically accept the feelings offered to me by other people; guide me to be compassionate and loving but not allow anyone to dictate the way I feel or respond this day.

 Take three relaxing breaths; ask your inner spirit to guide your meditation; reflect on the content, pausing for a few minutes in silence.

THE “Yeabuts” cause continuing misery —especially if they justify resentments, anger, or other symptoms of self-driven will.

“Yeabut—I have a right to be angry”.

“Yeabut—you should see what she did”.

“Yeabut—they aren’t doing what they should do”.

“Yeabut—it isn’t right.”

“Yeabut—it isn’t fair.”

“Yeabut—I need that.”

“Yeabut—I don’t have the time.”

“Yeabuts” are masters of camouflage. They often hide selfish, self-centered, or self-righteous motives under a smokescreen of rationalization and justification or they mask immaturity with seemingly acceptable excuses. “Yeabuts” start with a tacit agreement. “Yes you’re right, but….” ; “Yes, I understand, but….”; “I was wrong, but….” Then, we sneak in the add-on, the second part that validates, rationalizes, or excuses our action or lack of action. These sometimes obvious (but often subtle) offerings prevent an honest acceptance and evaluation of our mistakes and shortcomings. The “yeabuts” are the crutch that supports the immature and weak; they stifle or outright prevent growth.

Prayer: My inner guide, I ask that you make me aware of “Yeabuts” today; help me to identify any words or thoughts that mask my mistakes or keep me from recognizing my self-driven attitudes.  Grant me strength to fearlessly face my shortcomings and the strength and guidance to overcome any that stand in my way of being of service to my fellow people.

Take three relaxing breaths; ask your inner spirit to guide your meditation; reflect on the content, pausing for a few minutes in silence.

I participate in gossip by talking—or listening. Without the listener, gossip dies

Do I have an inner void, a feeling of emptiness that makes me feel ‘less than’ other people? Is gossip one of my ways to compensate for this? Do I talk about other people? Do I share a confidence just to flout that I know something another person does not know? Must I try to harm another’s image with my words or implications just so I will feel better about myself? Or have I matured enough to realize that the act of demeaning another person, breaking a confidence, or diminishing someone’s value with my words reflect my own lack of integrity? Do I accept that many such acts are just efforts to build my value in my own eyes?

Finally, have I acknowledged the truth that listening to any such damaging talk indicates my immaturity? I only listen because either: 1) I agree with what is said, 2) I take vicarious pleasure in demeaning a another person, 3) I need this unhealthy communication to fill my inner void to make me feel better; or 4) I am afraid to stand for my values that do not agree with such acts. Not a single one of these motives contribute to my growth; all will lead to continued mediocrity or misery. I must learn to walk away, to cease any participation in gossip.

Prayer: Dear God, my loving and powerful inner guide, deliver me from participation in any act which leads me to lessen the value of any other person or decreases my integrity. Make me immediately aware if I participate in any form of gossip; give me the strength and guidance to handle all such situations with the tact and truth that shields my soul from harm while presenting a growth opportunity for all participants.

 Take three relaxing breaths; ask your inner spirit to guide your meditation; reflect on the content, pausing for a few minutes in silence

 

Sufficient to the moment are the troubles thereof

A Zen story:

A senior monk and a junior monk were traveling together. One day, they came to a deep river. At the edge of the river, a young woman sat weeping, because she was afraid to cross the river without help. She begged the two monks to help her. The younger monk turned his back. The members of their order were forbidden to touch a woman. Then, without a word, the older monk picked up the woman, carried her across the river, placed her gently on the other side, and continued his journey.

The younger monk couldn’t believe what had just happened. After rejoining his companion, he was speechless, and an hour passed without a word between them. Two more hours passed, then three, finally the younger monk could contain himself any longer, and blurted out “As monks, we are not permitted to touch a woman, how could you then carry that woman on your shoulders?” The older monk looked at him and replied, “Brother, I set her down on the other side of the river, why are you still carrying her?  

We can carry the weight of our past mistakes, regrets, and erroneous beliefs—or we can leave them. Sometimes our desire and determination are not powerful enough to sever the emotional shackles to the past; then, we call upon the mighty expulsive energy of our indwelling spiritual force to break the mental and emotional bonds.  Leave the past in the past; carry no burden beyond the moment

 Prayer: My indwelling spirit, your love, mercy and power are infinite. Please direct my mind; let it release all past burdens; let the flow of your spiritual power purge all regret, remorse, disappointments, guilt, and resentment from me. Help me live in and for this moment; to live for you and for the advancement of your children and this planet. It is my will that your will be done.

 Take three relaxing breaths; ask your inner spirit to guide your meditation; reflect on the content, pausing for a few minutes in silence.

Why—and how–do I react to people? Am I kind and loving, patient and tolerant? Or something else?

If I get upset, is my reaction because someone attacked me physically or degraded one of my core values? Or is it because of pride or a need to be right? Do I respond with little thought, without being peacefully centered? Or do I pause, pray and try to respond with maturity and love? People will do or say things that I see as hurtful or offensive; these can be real or imagined wrongs. I should strive for emotional balance that helps me to:

1) suspend the instantaneous response, the reaction that often is wrong

2) pause and find inner peace and guidance before I respond

3) take a moment to check if my emotional reaction is triggered by self-righteousness

4) act with patience, tolerance , love, courage and conviction.

I need not volunteer for abuse; I need to stand for my values but I must not be overly sensitive or react too quickly. I can recognize a significant growth step when I am able to pause between the feeling and the responsive action and then put forth a courageous, wise and loving action instead of a reaction.

Prayer: My loving spirit, my source of strength, wisdom and direction, help me accept my humanness; grant me guidance and power to grow more toward your ideal, to be what you would have me be, to love and exhibit your presence in all my responses to other people. It is my will that your will be done.

Take three relaxing breaths; ask your inner spirit to guide your meditation; reflect on the content, pausing for a few minutes in silence.

Character growth or character building? One follows the natural path; the other is doing it my way.

Building indicates that I have the blueprint, that I am the planner and the “doer”; growth infers that I am willing to plant the seed, nurture and water it with the right thoughts and actions, and let God and nature decide the direction and timing of my natural growth.

We’ve reached that point where we recognize certain actions, attitudes, and words that cause discontent or misery; we become willing to shed these traits and replace them with higher values and actions. Then, comes the hard part: we must release the control over how and when this happens; we cannot force spiritual growth or emotional maturity to follow our plan. We ask our inner spirit source for help, guidance and strength to become the best version of our self; we acknowledge that this source of infinite power and love can do for us what we cannot do for our self; we know that this mighty expulsive energy can cleanse us, removing all obstacles to growth; we allow ourselves to develop according to the divine plan, the plan which opens the door to infinite possibilities and benefits instead of following our self-directed scheme.  The act is ours; the consequence, God’s.

Prayer: My divine and infinite loving companion, I give you myself this day. Remove from me any thought, word or deed that impedes my effectiveness for you or for helping anyone; fill me with your divine wisdom and strength; nurture the things, meanings, and values that I need; let the water of your love refresh my soul and generate growth guided by you.

Take three relaxing breaths; ask your inner spirit to guide your meditation; reflect on the content, pausing for a few minutes in silence.

Life isn’t always fair; so what do we do about it? We can become mired in self-pity and resentment—or we can move forward.

 A number of different things affect our idea of fairness: what we think ‘should’ happen or what we believe is ‘right’; our current reaction to misery symptoms (anger, guilt and so on); and the immediate influence of our self-driven will (selfishness, self-centeredness, and self-righteousness.) In any situation, we may not have a fair idea of what is really fair but we will encounter those situations or events that are not fair by any standard.

How do we react when a real or perceived unfairness hits us? Let us pause, evaluate our concept of fairness and try to honestly see if an impartial person might think this was unfair. If still disturbed, we discuss our reaction with someone we respect. If this act was obviously unfair, we may (or may not) try to correct the situation. Then, no matter what the outcome, we have a choice: will we whine about it, brood about it, and lose sleep over it or will we accept it, learn from it, and go on with living? Will we stay in the problem or move to the solution? Accepting what happened does not mean that we agree with it but that we recognize and accept the fact that this has occurred; it may impact our life but we will strive to make the best of it.

Prayer: Dear God, if any situation appears unfair today, help me to pause and ask for your guidance to honestly assess my perceptions and preconceived ideas; let me understand that this may not be as important as I am making it; give me strength and wisdom to respond according as you would have me respond and to move forward with my life.

Take three relaxing breaths; ask your inner spirit to guide your meditation; reflect on the content, pausing for a few minutes in silence.

 

I do not have to accept a gift of guilt or anger.

We’d have no trouble saying “NO!” if someone offers us a birthday gift of poisonous snakes but it’s sometimes harder to decline gifts of feelings that other people try to give us. Learning which gifts to accept and which to refuse requires emotional and spiritual maturity.

We cannot begin to control other people but we can take care of our self. We can do spiritual maintenance in the morning and throughout the day instead of thinking about doing it. This imparts wisdom and power that helps us choose not to accept gifts that may harm us.  If someone tries to make us feel guilty, we pause, pray, and picture them handing us a gift-wrapped box full of stinky guilt; we politely decline to accept it and handle the situation with dignity, self-respect and integrity.  We can also refuse gifts of anger, remorse, envy or any feelings of misery; we can choose to accept only those gifts that are beneficial, that contribute to our physical, mental, spiritual, or emotional well being.

Prayer: Dear God, remind me not to accept gifts from other people that lessen my day. Help me have an instant awareness when I start to accept feelings that do not reflect my worth and stature as a child of the divine; grant me the peace and integrity to lovingly refuse un-beneficial gifts. It is my will that your will be done.

 Take three relaxing breaths; ask your inner spirit to guide your meditation; reflect on the content, pausing for a few minutes in silence.

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