Top 10-#4 Think Flexible...

In 1956, actress Doris Day recorded the hit song, “Que Será Será.” It was introduced in the Hitchcock film, The Man Who Knew Too Much and later used as the theme of The Doris Day [TV] Show. “Whatever will be will be” is what the words mean. Related popular expression are, “it was meant to be,” and “everything happens for a reason,” (as if someone or something is driving the universe). These expressions reflect a worldview that is fatalistic and predetermined. The problem is, the world doesn’t work like that. I believe there is someone bigger than me, a being referred to as God. I’m not a Deist who believes that God created the world and then left it. Neither am I a determinist who thinks God causes everything. (If that is so, you must conclude that God is a monster, a topic I will address in a later post.) The world is not on some pre-determined course. There are too many variables. There are too many possibilities. There is human free will. Animists believe spirits inhabit everything (trees, the ground, everything) and humans are mostly powerless to fight them; people live in fear. Muslims say, “nsha’Allah,” which means, “God willing.” Behind this saying is a belief that nothing happens outside of God’s will. These ideas have invaded Christianity as far back as Augustine in the 4th and 5th centuries. However, life shows us that things can change. In the bible, there is great evidence that God changes his mind. I have free will, so I can choose my path—and change my mind. If I see the world as fixed, then I am either in the right or in the wrong. I am either on the merry-go-round or I am off. I’m either in...

Fear or Love?

Every now and then you stumble upon a life-defining truth that is simple yet profound. I found such a concept in Neale Donald Walsch’s book, Conversations with God. I hope you too find it helpful in sorting out your motivations and actions. “Every action taken by human beings is based in love or fear, not simply those dealing with relationships. Decisions affecting business, industry, politics, religion, the education of your young, the social agenda of your nations, the economic goals of your society, choices involving war, peace, attack, defense, aggression, submission; determinations to covet or give away, to save or to share, to unite or to divide—every single free choice you ever undertake arises out of one of the only two possible thoughts there are: a thought of love or a thought of fear. Fear is the energy which contracts, closes down, draws in, runs, hides, hoards, harms. Love is the energy which expands, opens up, sends out, stays, reveals, shares, heals. Fear wraps our bodies in clothing, love allows us to stand naked. Fear clings to and clutches all that we have, love gives all that we have away. Fear holds close, love holds dear. Fear grasps, love lets go. Fear rankles, love soothes. Fear attacks, love amends. Every human thought, word, deed is based in one emotion or the other. You have no choice about this, because there is nothing else from which to choose. But you have free choice about which of these to select.” So I ask along with the great wisdom of the universe. Will you think and act from a place of fear or love? Walsch, N.D. (1995). Conversations with God: an uncommon dialogue. New York:...

The Thing

What was it and when did you lose it? What was the thing that made you think, YES! to life? What was the thing that made you want to get out of bed in the morning? What was the thing that put a magnificent, unadulterated, unashamed smile on your face? And where did it go? We all have this amazing ability to create life, to make fun, to come up with something that wasn’t there before! We were all born with passion! But then something or some things happened and we lost the thing. It went away. It no longer was the focus of our affection. What happened? How long has it been since you even thought about it? You are the only one like you in the world; you made stuff. You had ideas. You created a little corner of joy that nobody else ever did. Think about it. Go for a walk. Meditate. Or just give yourself permission to consider it again. What was it? Where did it go? Why did you drop it? Did life get in the way? Did somebody try to steal it? Did you think it had no more value? Was it not socially acceptable? Only you know about the thing. Maybe your thing used to be painting, singing, restoring old cars. Maybe it was hosting social gatherings or poetry readings. Maybe it was spending time alone with each of your kids, or going on real dates with your lover. Or maybe it was giving yourself to have a lover at all. Whatever your thing or things were, how about getting them back? If they were the things that made your heart sings, aren’t they worth reclaiming? Maybe life got in the way…really in the way. But consider...

EarthDay

Today is Earth Day. It was born in 1970 at the height of the hippy movement, anti-Vietnam protests and a growing consciousness of pollution, toxic chemicals and the extinction of various animal species. Though it began in the U.S., it is now honored around the world. What you think of Earth Day, and environmental issues in general, is reflective of your worldview. Nobody can force you to recycle any more than they can convince you to floss everyday. If you don’t have the big picture as to “why?” you couldn’t care less. I think caring for the earth is a deeply spiritual issue. God gave us this awesome place to live and told us to take care of it. How to do that is an ongoing topic of debate. Some people think we either can’t hurt the earth, or Jesus is coming back and it’s all going to burn anyway (so why give a shit?). Seriously? Remember what God said after he made the earth? “IT IS GOOD.” That was right before he gave us a mandate to be good caretakers. The fact is, we’re all connected. What I value and how I live my life affects people and other living things around me. (Trust me, my neighbors who cultivate dandelions, affect my ability to have a nice lawn!) Our values also affect the earth. If you don’t believe me, watch some documentaries like, I AM, or spend some time researching  mirror neurons or how our HeartMatth literally affects people and things around us. This stuff explains why some people have a green thumb while others can kill a cactus. Citizens of western cultures think they’re separate; it’s what we’ve been taught. But both the hard sciences and social sciences are discovering it’s just...

Subscribe

Have you considered subscribing to Get Control Of Your Life? Just click on the envelope in the upper right-hand corner of the web site. Fill out your email address, name, and your preferred method for delivery (html shows articles with visuals, text is good for slow Internet connections, and mobile is for your phone or tablet). When you sucribe, you will get new articles delivered straight to your email inbox. You will never miss a resource again! You can also subscribe to the podcast. Download the “Podcasts” app from the iTunes store or the “Stitcher” app for Android phones. Then search for Get Control Of Your Life and click subscribe. You can stream podcasts, but most people like to download them for listening anywhere. (I like to listen to podcasts while cooking, driving and gardening!)...

Yes and No

This time of year, everyone is saying what you need to do more of. The message is that you need to say YES to vegetables. YES to going to the gym. YES to saving more money. YES to buying whatever they’re offering. Right. And you’re thinking how can I possibly do any more? How can I possibly spend anymore? Everybody seems to want a piece of you; it’s like squeezing blood out of a turnip! Yoy many be thinking, “I’m completely maxed out. If only there was more money and more hours in a day!” The challenge with saying YES to more stuff, is we have to said NO to other stuff. Last year’s priorities may not be this year’s priorities. But if you keep saying YES without saying NO, you will just keep piling on, adding to your stress instead of reducing it. I recently shared a quote by theist thinker, Rob Bell, that you have to say YES before you can say NO.* It means that when you know what to say YES (to something you’re passionate about), you then have permission to say NO to what you’re not! I agree. I also agree that you have to say NO before you can say YES. Check out what another thinker/author, Seth Godin, says on the subject (with CAPS added for emphasis. He brings out what many of us struggle with—RESPONSIBILITIES and EXPECTATIONS by others and ourselves. “If you believe that you must keep your promises, overdeliver and treat every commitment as though it’s an opportunity for a transformation, the only way you can do this is to turn down most opportunities. “NO I can’t meet with you, NO I can’t sell it to you at this price, NO I can’t do this job justice,...

Countdown to 2015…6...

As we wind down another year, it’s a perfect time to reflect on the past and look toward the future. You might find it helpful to make some lists, journal, or otherwise intentionally reflect. What was the best thing that happened in your life this year? What were the circumstances surrounding that thing and what did you do to make it better or worse? How would you rate six key areas of your life (career, health and fitness, money, personal development, relationships and spirituality? (Right click on the Rate Your Life graphic Life below to download and print the wheel; then rate all six areas and draw a line between them.) How even (and balanced) is your inner circle? What are one or two areas that really stand out for improvement? What is an something(s) you were not happy with in 2014? How might you work on them in 2015? Start reflecting. Later in this series we’ll deal with how to make SMART goals that are actually achievable.  ...

Do You Have A Dream?

August 28th marks the 51st anniversary of the landmark civil rights march on Washington, where Martin Luther King delivered his most remembered speech, “I have a dream.” I’ve become fairly familiar with the famous speech in recent years, playing it for my community college students as a brilliant and well-delivered example of a speech (and to inspire them to something bigger than themselves). If you haven’t seen it in awhile, I encourage you to watch it online: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=smEqnnklfYs On that sunny 1963 day, thousands of Americans converged on Washington D.C. to march for civil rights—equal opportunities for all Americans. This followed more than 1300 protest that had already taken place in other locations.* My friend Mike Miller was there, having ridden on a bus he organized from Mississippi. He said the excitement [of the dream] was palpable, as was a little fear of what opponents might do. There was power in the speeches and the crowd of more than 200,000. “We joined a mass of people larger than anyone had ever been part of,” he told me. The crowd in Washington was there to resist the status quo. The status quo included legalized and rigid racial discrimination, a tiered class systems that preferred some at the expense of others, corrupt justice, voting discrimination, and a pecking order that gave part of the population the worst schools, the lowest jobs and the crummiest places to live. Even as a white person I experienced “red lining” in the section of the city where I lived; it was predetermined by people in power in smoke-filled backrooms to be “the black part of town.” And it happened. The status quo is comfortable. But world-changers don’t go with the status quo. As Ingrid Bergman’s missionary character, Gladys Aylward, said in the 1958 film, The Inn of the Sixth Happiness, “You have to interfere with what is wrong if you hope to make it right.” Martin Luther King began his speech by following his notes, but then his passion kicked in and so did his improvisation. According to Clarence Jones, King’s lawyer, speechwriter and confidant, the words “I have a dream” were not even written into the speech.** The words came as King got fired up and spoke from his heart. It could only come out of his mouth if it was in his heart. In an 18-minute speech delivered at a TED (Technology, Entertainment. Design) event in 2010, Nancy Durante started with the line, “You have the power to change the world.” She then went on to compare the structure and similarities of King’s, “I have a dream,” speech with Steve Job’s 2007 iPhone launch. Both were masters at describing and contrasting WHAT WAS with WHAT COULD BE. King talked of a world where people would be judged by the content of their character, not the color of their skin. “I have a dream,” he kept repeating. In his iPhone launch, Jobs described innovations that would revolutionize our lives. He quoted a famous Wayne Gretzky saying, “I skate to where the puck is going to be, not to where it’s been.” That is how Jobs lived his life. I just finished a book by Seth Godin titled, Tribes: We need you to lead us. Godin talked about two kinds of people: those who maintain the status quo, and heretics. Those who maintain the status quo are satisfied with how things are, or else they are complacent or too lazy to challenge what is. Heretics are those who imagine something different. They are visionaries, leaders, innovators. Think about some heretics you may know by name: Mother Theresa, Gandhi, Jesus, Desmond Tutu, Nelson Mandela, Martin Luther, Martin Luther King. Heretics have guts. In an interview series with National Public Radio this week, Jones said all that for years, all the phone conversations between himself and Dr. King were recorded by the FBI (the United States Federal Bureau...

Risk

What are you willing to risk? While this may be a legitimate question in a poker game, it is also an essential life question. We all know that risk is both a verb and a noun. We understand that risk involves taking action that is uncertain; it could result in positive or negative outcomes. We’d like to think that every risk situation is approached with a firm calculation of potential outcomes. But we know we’re not just logical beings; we are complexly emotional. We also know that we make decisions based on limited information. Teenagers engage in reckless behavior, from driving too fast to unprotected sex. That is because the prefrontal cortex—the part of the brain responsible for risk assessment and decision making— is not fully developed until age 25. But many adults exhibit the same types of irrational and irresponsible behavior as adolescents. Smoking, eating too much (or the wrong things), ignoring relationship red flags, and making unwise financial decisions, are just some of examples. I know someone who is too afraid to drive; yet she has made risky life choices that have resulted in chronic stress and financial strain. The risk-assessment part of her being seems to be broken. We tend to underestimate potential negative consequences for things we want. We just do them. In other areas, we fail to accurately assess what could happen if we don’t take care of the things we already have. A common example is not backing up your computer. With more and more of our lives stored on and dependent on technology, why doesn’t everyone back up? Cloud backup and external hard drives are super-easy and incredibly affordable. You can get a 500GB external drive for under $50 in the U.S., and a 1-2T drive for...

Volunteer

It’s National Volunteer Week in the U.S. It is set aside to recognizing and inspire people to seek out imaginative ways to engage in their communities. “It’s about demonstrating that by working together, we have the fortitude to meet our challenges and accomplish our goals.” So states the opening paragraph on the Points of Light website about the week. The week was established by American President Richard Nixon to highlight the importance of volunteerism in making society better. It’s a fact that many organizations could not even exist without volunteers. These include hospitals, soup kitchens, non-profits working to improve individual and corporate lives, neighborhood associations, relief and development organizations, and many, many more groups. In fact, volunteers are the most valuable resource many community and international non-profits have. Volunteerism is good for everyone. It helps people in need, builds community and improves the lives of real people. It also helps those who volunteer. It’s a great way to get your eyes off yourself and your problems, help you have unique experiences, build new friendships (and social skills), and gives you the satisfaction and fulfillment from doing something that matters. It can strengthen self-esteem and self-confidence, combat depression, and help you be physically fit. The truth is, THE WORLD NEEDS YOU. SO DOES YOUR NEIGHBOR AND YOUR COMMUNITY. Think you’re too busy? Think again. Don’t know where to start? There are multiple organizations in your area looking for help. There are thousands of websites with ideas on how to get started. There are probably millions of possibilities, from folding newsletters to babysitting to building houses to delivering meals. As retired surgeon Ben Carson said, “Happiness doesn’t result from what we get, but from what we...

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