Archive for the ‘Attitude’ Category

Are You A Pilgrim or a Tourist?

February 11, 2021

This question appeared in my reading the other day. What a marvelous question to ask of ourselves if we look at our spiritual formation as a journey.

Do we travel around, visiting here and going there? Sample a little of the sights, perhaps in the comfort of a tour bus? Try the food–a little, perhaps with trepidation? We have no expectations of staying. Of meeting people and making friends. Of learning some of the language and customs. Adding to our personal cuisine.

Perhaps we have a destination. A journey to a sacred place. The journey has meaning. We pick up new habits along the way. We learn new things. Our minds expand from formerly provincial attitudes. We learn about new people. Perform large or small acts of kindness along the way–growing more frequent as we journey farther.

Perhaps we pick up our little notebook and a good pen and write some notes. Where are we now on the journey? How have we been a tourist? How have we been a pilgrim? What new attitudes can we work on to spend more time as a pilgrim, less as a tourist?

I love that question. It reframes the journey. I desire pilgrimage, not sight-seeing trip.

Teens Driving Improved Civility on the Internet

February 10, 2021

Microsoft provides a link for me to receive articles from its media relations department. There are probably a half-dozen a day that are almost all technology-driven, of course.

This headline earlier in the week grabbed my attention:

New Microsoft data shows improved civility online, driven by teens

Feb 8, 2021   |   Jacqueline Beauchere – Global Digital Safety Advocate

I certainly was surprised, but also pleased, by the research that supported the headline. This research was from last year. I’m not sure how much increased civility I witnessed. But then, I help myself. Following my own advice of watching what I fill my mind with, I blocked anyone on Facebook or Twitter who sends more than one hate-filled message. I don’t visit sites for that. My mental health has improved despite being in a new community during the pandemic such that I know almost no one.

The article continues:

The global Microsoft Digital Civility Index (DCI) improved in 2020, bouncing back from its lowest reading in four years, even as Covid-19 upended the world. A feeling of solidarity during the pandemic among people in some regions, as well as responsible online interactions by teenagers in particular, helped drive the index’s three-point recovery. We are releasing these findings in conjunction with international Safer Internet Day to shine a light on the need for safer, healthier and more respectful online interactions among all people.

I am optimistic about the younger generations. To the point of disappointment that our presidential election contested a Boomer (certainly exhibiting many of the negatives of my generation) and someone of the generation before the Boomers. But I see hope with some younger people of both sides.

As bad as things seem, there are lights shining across the globe, if we but recognize them. And help guide them out of the land of “fear and loathing” toward a brighter future.

It’s just as too many people seem to miss the point of the Revelation of St. John. In the battle between the power of God (exemplified by, well, God) and the power of evil (exemplified by Rome), speaking for the people of God, “We win!” And if we look, we can see signs of that brighter future peeking out. I’m optimistic about the young people coming along.

Add A Little Bit of Soul

February 5, 2021

And when you’re in a mess and you feel like cryin’

Just remember this little song of mine

And as you go through life tryin’ to reach your goal

Just remember what I said about a little bit o’soul

A little bit o’ soul, yeah (a little bit o’ soul)
A little bit o’ soul, yeah (a little bit o’ soul)

Music Explosion

We humans, especially in our religion but also through government, seem to love a certain rigidity of rules. We have rules everywhere. One can often determine which branch of Christianity or which religion or which country, even, by the list of rules each enforces.

We can hit the top ones like abortion or homosexuality or race or class. Then there are whether or not to celebrate birthdays or feast days or holidays. There still exist religious rules on what to wear—although American culture seems to be infiltrating the world with casual and even provocative dress.

I was sitting in contemplation on the idea of the rigidity of rules when my mind started singing this song.

Now when you’re feelin’ low and the fish won’t bite

You need a little bit o’ soul to put you right

You gotta make like you wanna kneel and pray

And then a little bit of soul will come your way

Music Explosion

Approach life with a little bit of soul. Relax. It’ll put you right.

Dignity

February 3, 2021

There’s a word that is little used these days. It’s an attitude rarely seen.

Dignity describes how we treat other people. We can treat other people as the children of God that they are. We can treat people with disrespect and disdain. Cynically. Our choice.

Dignity describes how we treat ourselves. We can stand up like a person of worth. We can let others treat us with disrespect. Or, hopefully, we can leave those behind and choose relationships with those who treat us as they should.

If you are looking for examples, think of Jesus. Other than the time he drove the merchants from the Temple, did he ever not treat people with dignity? Even those who decided not to follow him? Perhaps he was saddened. Even at the end of his life, he chose not to say anything (much) rather than lash out at his accusers and demean them and revile them.

As I get toward the end of Jonathan Sacks’ Morality, he argues that morality and dignity go together. I envision them as walking hand-in-hand like early-teen romantic couples.

Training at the old Ritz-Carlton (now part of Marriott) for everyone no matter what “rank” included this mantra: We are ladies and gentlemen serving ladies and gentlemen. How do we want to be in this new year? Try being a person of dignity treating others with dignity.

Orient Your Mind For Learning

January 28, 2021

I still remember Professor Lubin. He looked ancient. I was 17 and a freshman engineering student. He probably wasn’t ancient. The class was engineering mechanics. I wanted to study electronics. I was there because I was told to be there. I knew the subject matter for the first third of the class already. When we got to the new stuff, my mind was unprepared for learning.

I could imagine students of zoology perhaps who take the class because of emotional or sentimental attachments to animals or other living things. Even worse would be some sort of emotional attachment to the teacher. That orientation could interfere with learning the subject matter.

Some students enter a class and say, “Just give me a list of things that will be on the test.” They have a rigid mindset. Give me a list. I’ll memorize it. I’ll pass the test. I’ll probably forget much of the subject matter, but I’ll have an A or B on my transcript.

Or

We could enter a class or a study by cultivating a “beginner’s mind.” We are open to learning from the teacher and the text. We’ve brought our emotional attachments under control. We’ve discarded our preconceived ideas. We’re not yet concerned (if ever) about the test.

When we enter the study of spiritual texts like the Bible, how do we approach it? Have we paused for a moment each time? Have we oriented our mind to be open to what God is trying to tell us in this passage? Are we open to the teacher’s guidance?

Are we seeking learning or reinforcement?

You Become What You Think About

January 27, 2021

This ancient insight holds that what your mind dwells on determines what sort of person you become.

The insight remains true when you find you have become a victim of something–perhaps bad health not caused by your poor choices, or perhaps a malicious boss, perhaps wrongly accused of something.

You are a victim. It is not your fault.

Now, what do you do?

Three times in a week, the insight of Viktor Frankl has come to my awareness. God must be telling me something. I’ll have to figure that out. Where am I being a victim? But, back to Frankl. He survived the Nazi concentration camps with this insight–you have the freedom to choose your response to the situation you find yourself in. Have you not yet read Man’s Search for Meaning? Perhaps it’s time.

You can whine, complain, seek sympathy, seek revenge, succumb to anger. Or, you can choose the most appropriate response to get yourself through.

Circumstances may have made us a victim of something. We can choose our response. Choose wisely.

Self Help

January 19, 2021

A woman became dissatisfied with her life. She decided to actually live in accordance with self-help books. She had 15 such books. For one month at a time, she took 15 months to live each one strictly according to each one of those books.

She gained 14 pounds. She lost one of her best friends. She became self-absorbed, narcissistic.

Some people read through the Bible as if it were a self-help book. Compile a list of do’s and don’ts. Eat the Daniel diet. Point out to others how well they are doing–and conversely how far from ideal they are.

Jesus indeed taught people how to live. Perhaps not so much what to do, but more so what kind of person to be.

Jesus seemed to be much more interested in the state of our hearts. If our hearts are in the right attitude and orientation, then we will live as if described as one of the heroes in his stories.

It all starts from within. It’s like the path Paul charted through his letter to the Romans. It all starts with awareness of what we are leading to a change of heart leading to living in a new, freer way. The kind of life that those around say, “I want what she’s having.”

Be Kind, Simple, Humble

January 15, 2021

Contemplate upon these ancient words of wisdom

There are three treasures which I embrace and follow closely;

The first is to be kind;

The second is to be simple;

The third is to not put one’s own importance first in the world.

Lao Tzu

Let us think of people we have met who are kind. We love to be around those people. They are not weak. They have inner strength of awareness of the situation of others.

There are people we know, surely, who do not overly complicate things and situations. They grasp the essence without embellishment. They live without ornamentation. They cannot be tempted away by outlandish promises.

Who among us like to be around someone who thinks only of themselves? Those who, when in conversation, seem not to be even aware of our existence while listening for words of praise or criticism of themselves?

Perhaps we have been caught up in the events of the world, no matter where we live. Perhaps we need this reminder today of three treasures—kindness, simplicity, humility.

Be Generous

December 31, 2020

A couple of years ago the US Government changed the tax laws to reduce the amount of money you could deduct from reported income for tax purposes for charitable donations. This year due to the pandemic they changed it back to be, well, more generous. Today is the last day of the year to be generous and reduce income taxes a bit.

That is a good thing. Take advantage if you are able.

I am thinking of generosity more in terms that define who we are. There was recently a thought passing around Facebook revealing the typical “it’s all about me” attitude of us Baby Boomers. But it’s not all about me. It’s all about us. Me and my neighbors Jesus put it once. And who are my neighbors, religious people asked him. And he told a story about generosity. Helping someone who happened to be born into the “wrong” community, tribe, race. That was generosity.

Thinking back on this year, when have I been generous even though hurting physically or emotionally? When have I been generous with time, kindness, gifts, caring?

Perhaps we can improve on that for the next year. We can choose to be generous, kind, peaceful, just. We can choose to be the person Jesus intended his followers to be–filled with the spirit and acting in love.

Good-bye to 2020. Here’s to a 2021 filled with peace, justice, generosity, kindness. May our social media posts be filled with these thoughts when we, next year at this time, look back at 2021.

A Vision of Human Spiritual Development

December 24, 2020

“…be of the same mind, having the same love, being in full accord and of one mind. Do nothing from selfish ambition or conceit, but in humility regard others as better than yourselves. Let each of you look not to your own interests, but to the interests of others.” —Philippians 2

The Apostle Paul writes to a small group of Jesus-followers in Philippi. We know from Acts 2 that the movement grew exponentially because of the way the early followers lived. Here is a brief glimpse of that life.

He did not instruct them into something new. He reminded them of their coming into fellowship together and with Jesus. His hope is they never forget it…and never stop living it.

Our challenge as we sit here socially distant from others and most likely not in church on Christmas Eve maybe for the first time in our lives, reminds us in these ways of becoming a Jesus-follower even in these circumstances.

The times require even more than ever humility, forsaking selfish ambitions, infusing our selves with humility.

Thus we truly prepare ourselves to celebrate Christmas no matter what our unusual circumstances this year.