Archive for the ‘Attitude’ Category

Freedom From Anger

April 8, 2022

Anger is an indication of concealed hatred, of grievance nursed. Anger is the wish to harm someone who has provoked you.

John Climacus, The Ladder of Divine Ascent, Step 8

Anger. Could that be the theme of this era? In America, some white people are angry at people with skins of different colors or with those who are not like them. Leaders of nations worldwide are angry at each other or at their followers. Adherents of one religion or sect within a religion are angry with those not aligned with them.

Humans can easily nurse grievances until the anger bursts into flame causing sometimes irreparable harm.

Are we doomed?

No.

Many find the way through anger. John of the Ladder gives guidance.

The first step toward freedom from anger is to keep the lips silent when the heart is stirred; the next, to keep thoughts silent when the soul is upset; the last, to be totally calm when unclean winds are blowing.

John Climacus, The Ladder of Divine Ascent, Step 8

I heard three great questions on a podcast during my morning walk this morning. Try them.

Does this need to be said?

Does this need to be said now?

Does this need to be said by me?

I wish you calm today. Namaste.

Why Worry

February 3, 2022

My mom was a worrier. She suffered from anxiety, depression. Even was temporarily hospitalized. She passed that on to her four children. We all dealt with it in our own ways.

If I try, I can remember lying in bed before sleep worrying about tomorrow and next week and next month.

I am an old man and have known a great many troubles, but most of them never happened.

Mark Twain

I soon discovered a truth that Viktor Frankl had uncovered. We humans have the power of choice. We can choose what to think about. While still in my 20s, I discovered the antidote. When thoughts began to dwell on what could go wrong, I would intentionally direct my thoughts to something pleasurable. It works. Between that and a lifetime of meditation, I have almost cut worry and anxiety from my life.

Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or drink; or about your body, what you will wear. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothes? Look at the birds of the air; they do not sow or reap or store away in barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not much more valuable than they? Can any one of you by worrying add a single hour to your life?

Jesus of Nazareth

Jesus taught that we can zoom out on our focus.

“And why do you worry about clothes? See how the flowers of the field grow. They do not labor or spin. Yet I tell you that not even Solomon in all his splendorwas dressed like one of these. If that is how God clothes the grass of the field, which is here today and tomorrow is thrown into the fire, will he not much more clothe you—you of little faith? So do not worry, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’ For the pagans run after all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them. But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well. Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own.

Jesus of Nazareth

Jesus gives similar advice. Focus our attention on the kingdom of God. That is more profitable than focus on what can go wrong.

Be More Like Jesus

January 4, 2022

This thought is not original with me, but I endorse it and encourage us all to adopt it as this year’s lifestyle.

This year I would like to be more like Jesus

  • Hang Out With Sinners
  • Upset Religious People
  • Tell Stories That Make People Think
  • Choose Unpopular Friends
  • Be Kind, Loving, and Merciful
  • Take Naps on Boats

Oh How The Mind Churns

November 15, 2021

We get caught in a trap. It’s like the little exercise wheel we put in the gerbil cage. Much energy is expended going faster and faster but going nowhere.

What we did or said really wasn’t that bad. Besides, it’s all their fault. Or, how could I be so stupid. Or, everyone hates me.

It’s possible that we could be that patient whom the psychologist told, “You’re not paranoid. Everyone does hate you.”

But, probably not. Most of the time most people really regard you positively.

And, so, it becomes our task to realize that people really will give us the benefit of the doubt. We just need to get off that exercise wheel to nowhere. We must step away from ourselves a bit with some self-awareness. Then deal with it.

A quick apology from the heart when we’ve said the wrong thing or screwed up something keeps us out of the gerbil wheel of blame.

Smile at people you meet. Most return the smile. And both of you have a little bit of sunshine in your day.

The calm mind wins the day. Warriors understand that the calm mind helps them survive and win. Athletes learn that the calm mind leads to superior performance.

It starts with self-awareness. And continues with controlling our breath.

A Love Potion Without Drugs

October 15, 2021

The ancient Roman Stoic philosopher Seneca wrote to his young friend that they believed that a wise person is self sufficient, yet knows the value of friends, neighbors, associates. He asks, how then does one get a new friend when the current one is lost? He quotes another philosopher, Hecato of Rhodes:

I can show you a love potion compounded without drugs, herbs, or any witch’s incantation: ‘If you would be loved, love.”

Isn’t life simple? Yet, for some of us, that simple prescription can be most difficult. We must go outside ourselves and recognize other people—their needs, desires, insecurities, qualities.

How often have we dismissed someone as aloof or arrogant only to talk with them and discover they are merely quiet and actually quite lovely people?

In reality, I’ve met many lovely human beings from many parts of the Earth and only a few real jerks. How about you, if you pause to consider?

Maybe try this by just going out and being nice to someone today. Drop the cynical facade and smile. That brightens everyone’s day.

Smooth is Fast

October 7, 2021

Slow is smooth; smooth is fast.

Navy SEAL Saying

I heard a story of a guy who got into fitness, bought a bicycle, and began riding a route as fast as he could. One day he was somewhat more tired and rode at a little slower, yet more comfortable pace. His time for that route went from 43 minutes to 45 minutes.

I’ve noticed over the time of my life that I’ve stopped trying to do everything in a great rush. When driving I consciously stop and pause at stop signs (unlike the guy I saw this morning who blew through a stop sign making a right turn in front of oncoming traffic not far away–guess he trusted the other guy to slow down). Yes, I still commonly drive at speed limit + 5, but I no longer tempt more speeding tickets like 30 years ago.

Take a moment several times a day to pause, breathe, relax, refocus, then return to work. And accomplish more.

This season of the year finds me with the pressure of finding referees for soccer matches. This year has been especially hard. Before the season even began, I lost 20% of the officials on my list due to health, retirement, jobs, or moving away. I gained one person. Not a good long-term trend.

I could sit there and stare at my screen that said 90+ games lacking a referee and panic. Or, I could just breathe and tackle them one at a time. Solve this one and move to the next.

Slow is smooth; smooth is fast.

More gets accomplished; my attitude remains calm.

Try it, you’ll like it.

Repaired

September 8, 2021

I’ve heard this story several times lately. That must mean it’s time to share it with you. This one comes from Ian Morgan Cron, an Episcopalian priest, therapist, and Enneagram whiz.

In Japan, when a valuable tea bowl or piece of pottery breaks, the owner doesn’t throw it out. 

They take it to a craftsman who gathers the shards of the broken vessel and mends it with lacquer dusted with 24k gold powder in an art form known as “kintsugi.”

The result is an object that is imperfect but paradoxically more beautiful than it was before it broke.

What we can learn from kintsugi is what the Japanese call “the perfection of imperfection.” 

When mended, the owner displays the kintsugi bowl in a place of honor in their home where visitors and guests can see and admire it. The display reminds them that imperfections are not only okay–they can even be made resplendent!

So the next time your Inner Critic tells you that you’re beyond repair, incapable, or even unworthy of love and relationship, turn to it and say, “No. God has made me perfect in my imperfection.” We can overcome the many forces that conspire to keep us from fully living our lives when we believe that God can make our damaged hearts beautiful.

“Repaired” is also known as “Grace.”

Beauty

September 2, 2021

Sitting on my patio this morning, my thoughts drifted to the juvenile things I’ve recently seen and heard adults do. Then I lifted my eyes, as the Psalmist would say, and saw the beauty of the trees and grass and coffee cup (well, thinking of the direct trade coffee in the cup).

Far better it is to contemplate beauty than lose myself in negativity. My friend Sarah commented on a Facebook picture I had posted, “You live in such a beautiful place.” I had thought, beauty is where you look for it. My friend is a beautiful person. I am blessed to know many beautiful people. This place is beautiful. So is where I’m from. So is southeastern Ohio where we often vacation. Or Norway, Ireland, Hungary and the many other places I’ve visited.

Such a far better attitude to carry into the day ahead with the many problems I will have to solve. Sometimes we just need this perspective to survive.

Frustration

September 1, 2021

Frustration grows within us when things just don’t conform to our will. Or people don’t conform to our will. The bottle cap doesn’t screw on right away. You flip a switch and nothing turns on. You tell your kid to do something and they don’t.

Or life just doesn’t work out. You want to go to the store like you did a couple of years ago. Without putting on a mask. But now you’ll either spread a virus or catch a virus. Whether you believe in the reality of the virus or not. It doesn’t care, because it is. Or whether you think you are invincible or not–you’re not.

Frustrations often play out at sporting events. Especially those involving our kids.

We are half-way through the second week of the high school soccer season in Ohio. We already have three incidents of ejecting groups of spectators from games for unruly behavior.

Frustration. Leads to anger. Leads to behavior we’ll live to regret.

It’s hard to take that deep breath. Pause. Remember that life does not bend to your will. You must respond to life.

It reminds me of the first paper on philosophy I wrote as a college sophomore. Henrik Ibsen’s concept of truth as described through Peer Gynt. He called it a creative response to life.

I think Jesus would be happy with that idea. He certainly responded to life creatively, with great stories and teachings, and with how he lived (and died, and lived…).

Perhaps we could learn the hard lesson. It definitely isn’t easy. But give it a try.

Dystopian Prophetic Voice

August 24, 2021

In the year 2525

If man is still alive

If woman can survive

They may find

Zager and Evans

My wife tunes her car radio to Sirius XM 60s on 6. (Except I’ve been driving it lately and switched to Margaritaville. A little Parrot Head music will be good for her.) They played In the Year 2525 the other day. I remembered that era. About the same time Barry McGuire sang PF Sloan’s Eve of Destruction. People thought things in the world looked pretty bleak. It’s been 52 years, what goes around, comes around. We’ve been through bust and boom and now people thing things look bleak.

Yesterday’s post was my number 2525. Coincidences are interesting. I started thinking about the song.

In the year 9595

I’m kinda wondering if man is gonna be alive

He’s taken everything this old earth can give

And he ain’t put back nothing, woah, woah

Zager and Evans

We read prophecy–maybe the Hebrew prophets or Nostradamus or some contemporary wannabe prophet. Rather, we often misread them. Usually they are using if-then-else logic. “If you keep doing this, then this bad thing will happen, else changing your ways will bring better things.”

That last verse I quoted has many meanings. It hits (the old church word is “convicts”) each of us. How much do we take every day? How much do we give back?

Do we take love without giving back? Do we accept gifts without ever giving?

This idea is worth pausing for reflection. And maybe changing our ways, woah, woah.