meaningofstrife

Seeing the best in life's challenges

God’s Will. Really???

A friend of mine posted Proverbs 3:6 and it got me thinking.   I can’t imagine anyone would not embrace this advice!

“Seek God’s will in all you do.”  For those of us who understand God to be the ultimate source of unconditional love, of course we want to align everything we do with divine will.  A loving God will always want what is for the greater good, and will “know” what is in the best interest of the divine plan.  If we seek (an active verb) divine will, we will be shown the path to take.

Sounds real simple, right??

Ah, but it’s not so simple, and that’s what I’m thinking about.

HOW do we seek to know divine will?  WHO determines God’s will for an individual person, and how does that person know?

At first glance, the answer to those questions might seem easy and obvious.  Of course, we are to “do the right thing” and follow the rules that everyone agrees on.  Except that not everyone agrees all the time about what is the “right” thing to do.

Let’s think about the situation of a “good girl” who suddenly finds herself pregnant and not married, even though she is engaged to a nice guy.  Sure, she says she saw an angel who told her she was going to give birth to a baby from God.  Yeah, right.  I bet she went around telling all her friends and family THAT story.  And those she did tell – how many of them quietly judged her and were disappointed with her?  Rolled their eyes and distanced themselves from her?  Even close friends who wanted to believe her, probably had a hard time with this one.  They probably thought she’d lost it.  Making up stories to justify her behavior.  Who was she kidding?

More likely, this girl probably kept this story mostly to herself.   Especially after finding out that some of those she thought were close friends who knew her well, either freaked out when she told them or rushed to tell her that this couldn’t be so.

Conveniently, she went to visit her cousin for three months.   At least her cousin believed her – after all, this cousin had her own crazy angel story to tell, and it was hard for others to deny the miracle that she was expecting, since she was so old and had had such issues with infertility.  Plus, since her husband had been unable to speak for the entire pregnancy, well, there was SOMETHING weird going on.  People probably didn’t know WHAT to think, but at least her cousin hadn’t done anything IMMORAL.

The girl, sooner or later, had to tell the nice guy she was engaged to about the pregnancy.  Fortunately, he had his own visit from an angel, or else he would have just dumped her quietly.  Being the gentleman that he was, at least he wanted to be kind and not add to her embarrassment.

Well most of us aren’t put in such an extreme situation as part of God’s plan.  So, most of us don’t need such dramatic visits from angels to reassure us that all is going according to divine will.

But we can learn from seeking the messages in the story.

  1. One of the most important events in the Bible (Jesus birth) that is celebrated around the world 2000 years later, was a result of a situation where two young people were in an embarrassing (perhaps devastating) situation, yet they chose to trust God despite the hardship and inevitable judgment of others.  Let’s not fool ourselves into thinking this was easy.
  2. Worse yet, during the time they parented this child, he did things like get lost for three days, seemingly unconcerned about the terrible worry he had caused them.  Even the guilt treatment (“Son, why have you treated us like this?”) had no effect on this kid (“Why were you searching for me?”).  Do you think raising Jesus was “easy” for Mary and Joseph?  My opinion is, we are deluding ourselves if we think this.
  3. Then, the kid grows up, travels around stirring up the masses, bucks the status quo, speaks up against the powers that be, is labeled a criminal, and is horribly crucified for his “crimes.”  Do you think his parents’ hearts were broken at this point?  How many times do you think they asked themselves, “why couldn’t he have just …..?”
  4. Keep in mind, this kid’s parents could never have known in their lifetime that their child would even be remembered as anything more than a criminal.  Do you think Mary and Joseph could see the upside in the situation?  Was it all “worth it”?

So, this is how God’s plan works?   Apparently so.  What’s the underlying message here?

If you are really going to trust in God, you have to surrender your need to control.  You have to give up the fantasy that it’s always going to be easy.  You have to admit that you don’t understand the bigger picture.  You have to believe, despite all the seemingly impossible circumstances, that everything will work out in the end.

If God’s will is to be done, we have to give up ours.

So let’s get back to the question of how to seek God’s will.  Here’s what I would argue:  Everything that happens is God’s will.

This might sound strange, but how could it not be?  If you find yourself fighting what is, whose will is that?  Sounds like your will, not God’s.    I realize this can easily get into a circular argument, but it comes down to knowing what you can and can’t control.

You can’t control what happens outside of yourself.  You can only control your own reactions and actions.  Time spent worrying or deciding what others should or shouldn’t do is playing God.  Stop looking outside of yourself and instead look inside.  Encourage others to look inside and help them learn to discover God’s will for them.

I would argue that we can only know God’s will for our own life by looking inside.  We have been told that God is within us – we have been given the Holy Spirit as a counselor.  Are you in touch with the God within you?  How does one do that?  I would argue that prayer (as in quiet time with God where you open your heart and listen) and openness to all possibility is the key.

HOW do you pray?  Do you pray for specific things to have or specific outcomes to situations?  Or do you pray for God’s will to be revealed to you, and then listen?  What happens when you don’t get the specific thing you prayed for?  Do you think you didn’t pray hard enough?  Do you consider that maybe God’s will is in conflict with your will?  Whose will are we seeking here?

This is not easy or simple.  Even when we are clear inside what is God’s will for us, we are hesitant to share or act because we anticipate the reactions of others who will not see it like we do.  Especially when God doesn’t follow “the rules.”

What should we encourage in ourselves and others?  Thoughtful, prayerful, open-minded listening and pondering.  And when you see this kind of behavior in another?  Then encourage that person to trust and follow their inner guidance from God, no matter how crazy it sounds or “wrong” it seems to you.

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The Scientific Mind: Linear or Conceptual?

Science is reliable.  We can trust its conclusions.  It is logical.  It tells us what’s true.  Do you agree?

In school, we teach the scientific method.  It’s how we test a question (or hypothesis) to determine whether it is correct or not.

 

 

For basic scientific concepts, this is a straightforward process, one that is practiced in the labs of every high school.  An experiment can be replicated over and over to show consistent results. Scientific method is the linear framework that we use to test a hypothesis step by step.

Much of what we would commonly think of as science or scientific professions deals with subjects that have been tested and proven.  The medical profession, for example, relies on what is known about how the human body functions, the effects of pharmaceuticals, the effects of diet and exercise, and the role of genetics.  All of this has been demonstrated by rigorous and numerous scientific studies.

But physicians, for example, pretty much stick to following the established rules and procedures that have been determined for them.  They are not acting as “scientists” who are coming up with new hypotheses and testing new treatments.  Physicians follow a linear paradigm of applied science.

There are exceptions, but they tend not to be well-received.  The example that opened my eyes is the story of Dr. Robert Atkins.  He read about a diet, experimented on himself and got good results, then had certain of his cardiology patients follow the diet and got similarly good results.  He documented his findings.  He did everything you are supposed to do as a scientist……except that his conclusions ran counter to the accepted body of knowledge at the time.  And in our world, we really don’t want physicians acting as scientists.  We don’t want them experimenting on us.  We expect the medical profession to follow the rules.  Linear application of science.

The medical profession is not unusual.  A large number of those trained as scientists, end up working in situations where they are applying known scientific principles to, say, produce a product in a consistent manner.  This is using science in a linear manner.

I dare say this is why so many with science degrees who go out and get a “real job,” lose interest, and switch into business roles.  Studying science encourages thinking and creativity, but working in applied science is all about following the rules (linear) and NOT stepping out of bounds or being creative (being conceptual).

The general population is comfortable with the scientific principles that are known, proven, and well-established.  This is nothing new.  We are happy to embrace the idea of science when it proves what we are already comfortable with.

It’s a different story when you go outside the box.

Conceptual science is the domain of the researcher.  And that’s where science gets complicated because there are all kinds of assumptions and outside influences that are messy.  The more complicated the hypothesis that is being tested, the harder it is to control the variables of an experiment.  And most real-life situations are complicated.

So, what exactly is Science, anyway?  Is it the proven facts that we use in Applied Science?  Or is it the constant questioning of the unknown?

This is an interesting paradox.  Most people want science to tell them the absolute answers, but testing what is outside the box is really what science is all about.  It’s easy and safe to follow established procedures and that is what has allowed us to take advantage of the discoveries that science has found so far.

It’s a different thing altogether to come up with some crazy hypothesis and test it out.  But this is what higher education in the sciences teaches you.  It’s creative thinking, experimentation (i.e. play), and then documenting what you did.

 

 

A pure scientist will be free of bias of any kind.  This is very, very rare in our world.  Who is paying for the research?  Who does the scientist work for?  Is there an expected result, and how will the researchers feel if they do years of research, only to come up with nothing?  Are the conclusions too far from generally accepted wisdom?  If the conclusions seem crazy, will they be able to compete for that next research grant?

Some become so attached to their hypothesis that they have a very hard time seeing the facts that contradict it, and only see and pursue the research that affirms it.

After all, we are talking about humans here.

I’ve done enough research, analysis, and documentation to know that there is much more room to “spin” one’s conclusions than most people realize.  You can do all your work but then you have to “tell the story.”  Some are better at telling stories than others.  Some have motivations to tell their stories from one angle rather than another.  If telling your story in a slightly different way means you can keep your job and feed your family, what do you think most people will do?

Science Outside the Box

If you really want to explore and think about these ideas, read The Field by Lynne McTaggert.  It is an easy-to-read book about cutting edge scientists who are looking at observable things in the world that don’t fit into our established paradigm.

A linear thinker who works in a scientific field will color within the lines.  He or she will follow the principles that are proven.  Understand, this is how our world functions!   Otherwise, there would be mass chaos!  There is absolutely nothing wrong with this role, unless the linear thinkers become so comfortable in their paradigm that they are unable to leave room for the role of the conceptual thinkers.

The conceptual thinkers approach the world of science with a mind that has no limits.  There are relatively few of these people, but we need them!  Those that think conceptually, outside the box.  This is where progress is made.  This is where our comfortable paradigms get questioned and stretched.  This is where there are no forbidden questions.  This is where we ask “What If?” without fear of where that will lead us.

This kind of scientist is less concerned with being right and knowing “the answer” – rather, it is all about gaining a better understanding.  This scientist is never done with the quest.

My conceptual-thinking, science-trained mind is always open to learning something new.  It’s why I constantly ponder and wonder.  I think and think because I find it interesting, like working on a puzzle.  I’m sure it can appear obsessive, and I also think this can be misunderstood because it might resemble worrying.  But fear has no place in the obsessively thinking mind of a scientist.  At least that’s how it is for me.  It’s also why I’m driven to “tell my story” and be understood.  It’s why I welcome dialog and other viewpoints.  The process never ends, it just keeps looping on toward a greater understanding.

That’s my attempt to explain the Scientific Mind.

 

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How To See Clearly Now

It’s uncomfortable to watch other people in situations where they are unhappy, frustrated, overwhelmed or otherwise just not good, when you can clearly see and understand the dynamics of what’s going on.  Yet, the person in the situation didn’t see it coming, and even when they repeat their circumstances over and over, they still don’t see the cause and effect, their own contributions that obviously lead them into the same trap, time and time again. When this is someone you care about and love very much, it feels more than just uncomfortable.

It’s so easy to see this happening to others, yet almost impossible to recognize when we are doing the exact same thing.

When we see another person heading toward trouble, the same trouble they complained to us about last week, we wish we could tell them what we see.  But most of the time, we don’t.  Maybe we’ve tried and they couldn’t or wouldn’t listen.  If you are a parent, you know that you could have saved your children lots of times, but kids won’t listen – they have to learn many lessons the hard way, through experience.  The same dynamic can occur when you see someone missing an opportunity.  You can lead a horse to water, but you can’t make him drink.

There’s a lot to be said for learning by experiencing.  We all know that lessons stick much better if we live them, rather than just reading about it or having someone tell us.  Letting someone else learn their own lessons is more respectful of them than offering them unwanted advice or outspokenly telling them what they should do.

But I want to talk about the other side of the coin.  If I can see others clearly, then there must be somebody out there who is seeing ME clearly. Do I have the same resistance to the advice, wisdom or constructive criticism of others?  Why?

I’m talking about feedback from a person that you know has your best interests at heart and loves you and means to help.   I’m talking about someone who takes the time to ask questions and to understand you and your situation.  Someone who qualifies what they say with statements like “I could be wrong, but it seems to me…” and is kind and gentle with you.  Someone who cares more about you than about being “right.”  I am NOT talking about the know-it-all who always thinks they know what’s right regardless of the situation and talks AT you, not WITH you.  The kind of person that you know is thinking “I told you so!”  There’s a BIG difference.

Wouldn’t it be smart of me to seek out those people, and cultivate a relationship with them where I could tap into their insights and wisdom and apply it to my life?

To be able to listen to another person give their honest feedback about our faults and mistakes can be a really big pill to swallow.  Much has been written about overcoming Fear and Ego, the two biggest obstacles in these cases.  If someone who cares is giving you feedback, and you feel yourself becoming angry or defensive, can you step back and ask yourself what buttons have just been pushed?  Why is what they are saying such a trigger for you?  What might this tell you about yourself?  What’s more important to you — avoiding your own negative reaction and staying comfortable, or learning something about yourself that might help you grow?

This is an aspect of communication that takes effort, cultivation and practice.  You have to be working at it on purpose.  You have to be ok with making mistakes and getting emotional.  Not easy!!!  But simple steps can get you started.  Next time you are frustrated and complaining about a situation to a friend, stop and ask, “So, are you seeing anything I’m not seeing here?  Any insights?”  Then make your best effort to listen, without interrupting, defending yourself, or arguing.  And if you realize later that you blew it in a situation like this, make a point to tell that person that you recognize this and that you will try harder next time, because you value their perspective.  There’s nothing wrong with telling another person that you think they are wise, you value their opinion, and that you are trying to get better about listening to the advice of others!  I bet this will make your friend feel great and they will want to support you in this!

You have to learn to be honest with yourself first, before you can truly be honest with others.  And you have to demonstrate your honesty and willingness to listen to others and develop a level of trust before others will be comfortable enough to be truly honest with you.

Honest feedback from others that truly care about you is one of the most valuable resources you can tap.  Only you can decide if you are willing to work hard enough through the obstacles to take advantage of it.

A person who plays this role for another is nothing less than an Angel.  While we’re at it, we can also work on being the Angel that someone else is looking for.

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MEMO: “Why Isn’t This Manifesting Stuff Working for Me?”

Angela Peregoff offers free “Morning Blessings” via email at her website.  I ran across this one and thought it was so clever!!

The Morning Blessing     08.16.12

MEMO

TO:                                  You Divine Spark

On Location:             Planet Earth, Milky Way Galaxy, The Universe

FROM:                          Ralph, Executive Assistant to God,

                                          Secretary in Charge of Manifesting and Magical Movies

CC:                                  Cosmo, Head of Divine Timing Department

BCC:                              GOD

REGARDING:          Your recent letter of complaint titled:

                                         “Why Isn’t This Manifesting Stuff Working for Me?”

Dear Spark,

So, you have recently found out that life is like a movie script that you are writing moment by moment, in which you can design for yourself an abundance-creating, soulmate-attracting, self-realizing existence. You’ve watched The Secret and enthusiastically pinned a check to yourself on the ceiling, and stuck a vision board on your bedroom wall. However, here you are months down the track completely at your wit’s end, wondering why your manifestations aren’t working or what’s wrong with you that you can’t “do it”!

Cosmo, Head of Divine Timing, assures me that as always all is happening right on schedule. He has received all of your emails about the presence of Fear on the set, and is applauding the way you have been handling the situation. Word out up here is that you have been having a few talks with Fear, letting him know you are the star! The crew have been standing back in awe as very few people have ever dared to confront that overpowering egomaniac. Congratulations, someone had to do it! Fear’s agent says he is getting less and less attention every day and really only likes to hang around when he is the star. Fear is getting “over it” as he says, and is thinking about a career change. This is good news for everyone!

The Director is aware of some of your concerns about the next stage of production, likewise we have some of our own, so I’m here to address those:

You’re a Co-Author in this Movie

We all like to think we are completely in control of our life, but when it comes to manifesting our movie we are always merely co-creators, producing the show together with our higher self and the higher self of any other people involved in any particular scene.

Always be conscious of the fact that there is a higher plan of which you may not be aware. Ask that all your prayers, vision board wishes and manifestations vibrate to their highest and best potential, and let go of what you think this looks like.

While you may have a preference for a certain outcome, it is always a good idea to ask that all situations unfold in alignment with the highest good of all concerned – otherwise you may be asking for something that may not be in alignment with what you or others truly need!

Divine Timing

Timing is more important than you can consciously perceive. Cosmo receives thousands of letters of complaint a day and can’t handle the stress much longer. He is considering issuing a global press release to remind the people of Earth that thinking you are above divine timing is like thinking you can control nature. Divine timing has a rhythm and a flow that is perfectly co-ordinated and much peace comes from really accepting that. Your soul knows what it is doing on a higher level even if from your perspective things are going way slower than you would like.

Learn to go with the flow, and if something doesn’t go according to your plans or preferred schedule trust that this is for a good reason. Do all you can to make your dreams turn into reality, while simultaneously letting go of the need for the process to go a certain way. Let go of the outcome, trusting it will turn out the best way possible.

Are you Ready?

We don’t just deliver what you ask for on a silver platter unless you are truly ready. We make sure you go through all the steps you need to take first so that you can handle what you’ve asked for. Imagine if you asked for a Ferrari but you had never driven a manual transmission let alone a high-powered sports car! You would probably crash it on your first drive. Insurance across the Universe is at an all time high and we just can’t afford to make any mistakes these days. If you ask for a Ferrari we are going to make sure you have done your advanced driver training first, it’s that simple!

Find the Gift in the Present on your way to your Ideal Future

If you are visualizing a soul mate relationship and you keep getting relationships that are less than ideal, this is not Aphrodite ignoring you. Rather, there is something about the relationships coming your way that have a message for you. If you are attracting unavailable people, is there a part of you that is unavailable?

If you are attracting people who don’t value you, is there a part of you that doesn’t value you?

The universe always hears your requests, and it always answers you in ways that are the most effective for what you truly want, even if it doesn’t immediately appear that way. It may well be that for your particular path, in order to be ready for your soul mate you have to be completely emotionally available and value yourself totally. Hence the relationships that are being sent your way are there as a form of preparation, reminding you to connect with these aspects of yourself. It doesn’t mean you have to stay in these relationships. Sometimes it’s just about getting the lesson then getting out, onward to what it is you really want.

Is there a part of you that doesn’t want it?

Your conscious self can wish for a certain reality all it likes, but if you have self-sabotaging beliefs, memories, old emotions or subconscious aspects within you that associate that reality with a deep fear or wound, they will do all they can to thwart your every move. The more you try to move toward a certain direction, the more things will come up, so pay attention and do what you need to do to address your inner energies. Journaling, healing therapies, meditation and creative expression can all help. Feel it!

Start feeling excited and passionate about what it is you want, as opposed to using all your energy toward feeling frustrated about what you don’t want. Really feel your excitement, joy and passion, and anticipate positive change coming to you at any moment! This will affect your energetic vibration as it starts drawing to you what you most need right now, be it an opportunity, experience or insight.

Have Gratitude, Act as if it is Here Now

We are working our auras off up here, and sometimes it’s nice to get a little thanks! Just a little: “Thank you, Universe, for this great relationship/work/abundance etc. It is totally in alignment with my true essence and best possible path and reality.” That would be great, thanks.

The Universe always has a bigger plan for you than you could ever consciously imagine yourself, yet you constantly limit yourself by what you think is possible, or not. Don’t limit yourself! If you want love, imagine the greatest love relationship possible for yourself and let go of trying to control who it is, or how and when it will happen. If you want job fulfillment, see yourself doing what you came here to do, and let go of thinking you know what that perfect job is. Let yourself be surprised! Affirm that you are on your highest path, fulfilling your highest purpose, and see what magic happens!

On a final note, your script writing team of advisors wish to confirm that they have filled your story with lots of bliss, happiness, abundance, passion and fun! They let their creativity unleash with this movie and promise you a most exciting ride!

Don’t worry so much, just read your lines as you go, and we’re sure you’ll like what’s in store! There is a team up here working steadily with you on this movie, so please do not hesitate to contact us at any time should you have any further questions.

With sparkles of stardust,

Yours in Spirit,

Ralph

 

BLESSING:

I live in a universe that is by nature abundant; this universe is by nature loving, and it is by its very nature whole. I choose today to realize what’s always been true: that I am One with this Universe, that I always have been one with it, and that I have access to all its good, whenever I open my mind to receive it. Today I awaken to my noble self, realizing that I am a powerful center of creative energy in this universe, a place where life is delighted to flow and flow with ease. I stop playing small, and realize that I can gift myself anything in the world, and I do it with joy and with the knowing and believing that as imagination flows through me, I align with creation, it’s not of my own creation, but of Spirit. I receive each gift, whatever its form, freely. Whether it is presents from my children, offering my best in my work, loving my partner with all of my heart, or finding abundance, I do it with the full and complete understanding that Spirit and I playfully conduct this action through me. I relax in the knowing that everything is just fine, that the power of Spirit is thought+full+ly flowing through me, that this universe is a safe and wonderful place to be. And my life blossoms in joy. And so it is.

_____________________________________

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© 2003 – 2012 Angela Peregoff | All rights reserved. Please feel free to copy and share these copyrighted Blessings with your friends, letting them know the source and inviting them to visit my website.

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Are You Surrounded?

Look around you.  What do you see?  What do you hear?  Who is with you?

There is no doubt that the sights, sounds and people that surround you influence — maybe even “make” — your experiences.

Maybe this is somewhat of a chicken and egg question – do your surroundings contribute to your experiences, or do you gravitate toward the surroundings that “fit” with what you expect your experiences to be?

These are questions worth pondering.  First, each person can pay attention and become aware of the influences in their life.

I’m going to use just a few examples:  music, television, and people.

What kind of music do you listen to?  What do the lyrics say?  Does the music pump you up?  Does it relax you?  Does it make you feel good about the world?  Does it speak about love?  Does it speak about heartache?  Does it express anger?

Is this a reflection of your belief system?  Does music lift you up?  Or does it make you wallow in your sorrows?  Does it soothe you or push your buttons?

Music is hugely important to me.  As I think back, I can see that the songs and lyrics that meant the most to me have included all the same messages.  I didn’t really see this at the time, but as I reflect now, there is such a consistency……Zoom by the Commodores, Howard Jones Dream Into Action, Wake Up Everybody, True Colors, the philosophical musings of Van Morrison, the social commentary of The Hooters, the list is endless…..it’s no wonder Jack Johnson and ALO are my favorites.  In a very real way, they are me.

What do you watch on TV?  Let’s start with the news.  A friend recently said, “It shouldn’t be called the News, it should be called the Bad News.”  She decided she is no longer going to start her day with the Bad News.  How about soap operas/reality shows?  Are you addicted to the drama?  Do you expect that life is full of drama?

Then there’s the violence.  I’m not going to say that watching violence is “wrong.”  I am just curious….ask yourself, why do you want to watch it?  Isn’t it fascinating that a movie such as The Dark Knight Rises spawns a violent, horrible incident, yet the movie itself is a commercial success?  Is it that we want to see that good wins in the end?  Is our deep-seated belief that the world is a scary place, and that the “good” has to fight to overcome evil?

And how about the people you spend time with?  Do they lift you up?  Do they encourage you?  Do they understand you?  Or do they put you down?  Do they make you uncomfortable?  Can you be yourself around them?

Understand that since each person is different, I can’t tell you which kind of music is appropriate or “right” for you – only you can figure that out.  There is no “right” or “wrong” for what people should watch on TV.  I can’t tell you which people you should or shouldn’t spend time with.  That’s not my point.

My point is, pay attention to the influences that surround you.  Understand that your surroundings DO make a difference.  Decide whether the things around you are influencing you in a way that empowers you, that makes you feel good about yourself, that makes you peaceful and happy.

If the sounds, sights and people around you don’t seem to be the influence you want in your life, DO SOMETHING about that, whenever you can.

When you have a choice, think about the music you listen to.  Music can get into your subconscious in a powerful way.  We might not be thinking about the lyrics, but they work their way in there.  Notice how music makes you feel.  Why is that?

Personally, I hardly watch TV any more.  But there is such a wide variety of programming, lots of it good.  Just notice what you’re watching.

The people issue can be much tougher.  We’re not just going to stop interacting with people who aren’t the best influence.   Sure, we can make some choices as to who to spend time with.  But in many cases, we have to deal with people who push our buttons, make us doubt ourselves, or otherwise give us a hard time.

When you find this to be the case, and you recognize the negative influence, you can choose not to interact with the negativity.  You can manage the situation.  This is a learned skill, and comes with practice.  You can anticipate the interactions, what that person is likely to do or say, how you are likely to react and think, and strategize in your mind as to how you will ignore the influence.   In many cases, you can head off a potential mine field by choosing not to engage.

If you can maximize the positive influences that you have control over, and minimize or neutralize the negative influences, you will have surrounded yourself with experiences that will empower and comfort you.

Easier said than done, but well worth the effort.

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Challenges, Challenges

Sometimes you can’t help but notice.  Maybe it’s a song from 30 years ago that suddently you hear over and over.  Maybe it’s a person you haven’t thought about in a while, that gets mentioned several times.  Maybe it’s a new word you never heard before, then everyone seems to use it.  Maybe it’s an idea you can’t get out of your head.  Images you see…

Maybe, just maybe, there’s a reason this happens.  Maybe it’s just a game the angels play with us :).  I don’t know for sure.

But I pay attention, more and more, and I am starting to figure these things out sometimes.  And this process is leading me in some unexpected directions.  Still working on that.

Today, I saw the following photo:

 

And the photo reminded me of part of an email I got yesterday that said:

“As we head fully into the mercury retrograde that will dominate July from mid-month until early August, re-member that this particular retrograde offers all of humanity the gift of Re-spect! The ability to gaze and respect others… especially when they carry an energy that is different from our own. The mighty gift of this moment will have a “challenge” date and that day is July 17 and will also have a 3 day window around it.”

Well, this makes me curious.  So I will be watching, keeping my eyes and ears open.

My mom used to always say, “What’s the worst that can happen?”  and that is a really useful question to ask yourself.  I have learned to go into situations where I knew I would be challenged, thinking about possible scenarios and my possible reactions to them, and it helps to have anticipated them.  Usually, the worst-case scenario that you imagine turns out not to be really all that bad.

So, we shall see…

 

 

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That’s Not My View!

I collect people on Facebook.  If someone makes a comment that catches my eye, I’ll friend them.  If a page has something interesting to say, I’ll like it.  Yes, I have had some mishaps, but only a couple, and I just un-friend that person.

I have a friend in Turkey who is definitely on the same page as me.  I have a Bulgarian friend who posts the most beautiful pictures and quotes about love.  There’s a guy I’ve never met who writes the most amazing poetry.  A friend in England that I found via his blog, who is a visionary on the subject of educating our children.  A woman in South Africa that is working with dolphins.  Many new friends here in the U.S. that I’ve not met in person.  And some friends I hadn’t seen in a long time and we have reconnected.

I have some friends who post things that most people would think were weird, or just plain out-there.  Others post stuff that is completely opposite of my political views.  Sometimes I even comment on those (I got unfriended once because of that!)  One of my best friends is someone who just plain likes to stir it up.

I don’t want to isolate myself so much, that I become unwilling to consider the perspectives of others.  Yet, I do want to surround myself with positive, thoughtful people.  So, it’s a balancing act.

I can tell you that by reaching out to people I don’t know, especially in different countries, I have gained a much richer view of the world through them.  I have also discovered that we have more in common than we might have imagined.

My daughter leaves today for 19 days in six countries in Europe.  I am so excited for her.  I know how my 3 months in South America at age 16 made such a lasting impression on me.

We ARE all connected.  And the fact that we have all different views of the world makes it so much more fun!  I have had views of this blog from 34 countries since the end of February!  That’s crazy!!

Despite the fact that we all have different views, we are all the same.  This is the paradox that is worth grappling.  Because our differences, when shared and respected, make us as a human race wiser.  I’m not just talking about differences in geography….when we stop thinking of one opposite as “good” and the other as “bad”, then we can fully appreciate all perspectives and how they add to our understanding of the world.  Rich and poor, educated and not, liberal and conservative, loud and quiet, shy and outgoing, optimist and pessimist…it goes on and on and on.

Do you want everyone around you to act and think just like you?  Or can you appreciate someone who is your opposite?

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Words and Emotions

When we try to express how we feel, it is so easy to be misunderstood.  One way to increase your chances of being understood, is to get better at communicating how you feel.  The greater your vocabulary, the better you will be able to express yourself, and the more likely the other person will understand!

I also think this is a good thing to practice with our kids — being clear about emotions by using a variety of words to describe them, can only help them be emotionally aware (and hopefully emotionally honest.)

So next time someone asks you how it’s going, instead of saying “Good” or “Bad,” try being a little more descriptive!

Here are some great resources on “Feeling Words”:

Al Turtle’s Relationship Wisdom

Elle’s Daily Inspirations

…or just google “feeling words” images.

I thought the graphic below was really cool.  Ok, I know it’s full of nouns, but you get the idea…

It came with this note:

Emotions are the next frontier to be understood and conquered. To manage our emotions is not to drug them or suppress them, but to understand them so that we can intelligently direct our emotional energies and intentions…. It’s time for human beings to grow up emotionally, to mature into emotionally managed and responsible citizens. No magic pill will do it.

— Doc Childre

Image: Emotion-Cone

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An Open Mind Challenge

Think of this one as a game to play, a mind exercise, an opportunity to observe yourself.

Some people like taking on challenges more than others.  Many people like to” play it safe.”  How much are you willing to push yourself, to go outside of your comfort zone?  How soon will the fear of the unknown stop you in your tracks?

WHAT are you really afraid of?  How uncomfortable are you with venturing out into the unknown?  How different is TOO different?

An open mind is invaluable.  But a completely open mind is rare.  The few who in the past have dared to question the status quo have suffered the consequences.  The examples from science seem obvious to us now, but hindsight makes it all seem too easy, i.e. the earth is not flat.

So, are you ready to “play scientist?”  Take a look at something with only curiousity, and no fear?  Consider, then make your own conclusion?  Put yourself through an “experience” and arrive at the other side, saying only “hmm, that was interesting.”

Can you watch this with an open mind?

 

 

Yay!  I got it to work!  So, what do you think?

 

 

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If You Must Forecast, Forecast Often

OR:  Prophecy vs. Potentials

When I worked in the Research Department of a large real estate investment firm, we had to do a lot of forecasting — annual increases in rental rates, the Consumer Price Index, vacancy rates, measures of economic growth.  We knew the truth of that statement:  If you must forecast, forecast often. 

It’s the same situation any time you are looking into the future.  You have to take all the data you have, make your best guestimate of what is likely to happen, and then settle on a prediction.  Even if you have a sophisticated computer model, the old saying holds true: Garbage In, Garbage Out.  Your results are only as good as your data.  In the real world, that data changes, so you have to keep updating your forecast if you want to be as accurate as possible.

The same holds true for forecasting the weather.  When I was taking meteorology classes in the early 80s, the models only attempted to go out five days.  Now they forecast much further into the future.  But still, if you are depending on a weather forecast, not only do you check it the day before, if you are like me, you watch the real-time satellite images to see what’s headed your way. 

If we’re talking about human behavior, the same guidelines hold true.  You might have a really good idea of how your best friend will react to bad news, based on her personality and her belief system.  But if you show up to tell her this bad news, and realize she is drunk, or just had a really hard day at the office, or just found out her dad died, well, that new information will change what is likely to happen when you tell her, IF you still decide to share whatever bad news you have.

All that makes sense, right?

So now I want to ask you this:  If a prediction about the future of the human race were made, say 2000 years ago, then it was probably based on the most likely potentials at the time, right?  If that potential outcome was not optimal, and came with warnings and suggestions on how to avoid the outcome, that would make sense, right?  Whoever was wise and sophisticated enough to make that kind of prediction, would be basing the forecast on the best available data at the time.

A lot can change in 2000 years.  A lot can change in 100, 50, even 10 years.  So, you wouldn’t consider an “old” forecast to be inevitable, right?

Then why, please explain to me, do people still cling to the prophecies of Armageddon and the End of the World with such hopelessness?  As if there is nothing we can do to change the potentials? 

The Soviet Union is no longer — the Bear is gone.  The Berlin Wall fell.  The world didn’t end at the Millenium.  It’s not going to end in 2012. 

If you watch the news, they will try to convince you that the world is still all about doom and gloom.  Old habits die hard.  Plus, fear is a powerful tool. 

Step back and think about how the world has changed over the past 50 years.  It is not the same place.  Collectively, we have made the world a better place.   That should make us hopeful, but not complacent.

Never underestimate the power of even the smallest of gestures to make a difference.  Watch the movie It’s a Wonderful Life.  George Bailey had no idea of the impact he made.  One smile, one kind gesture, one act of charity, multiplied by thousands or millions of people will have exponential positive effects. 

We have already changed the potentials.  Why stop now?

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