31 October 2017      

Good day!  It's time for us to bring to a close our tenth month of this year,
and we hope that you're ready and willing to end this month well today,
showing lots of love and compassion to others and to yourself, and giving
all that you can--within reason--in all the ways that you can.  Enjoy!

The River or the Goal
Earl Nightingale

Leo Buscaglia

A Night on the Roadside
tom walsh

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We can see in the puddle either the mud or the reflection of the blue sky, just as we choose.

Lucy Fitch Perkins

You need only examine your present situation to discover unlimited resources and opportunities.

Ari Kiev

When life's problems seem overwhelming, look around and see what other people are coping with.  You may consider yourself fortunate.

Ann Landers


The River or the Goal
Earl Nightingale

If you’re going to be a success as a human being, you have to fit into one of two groups, or belong to both of them.

The first group belongs to what I call “the river.” These are men and women who have found, often early in life, although not always, a great river of interest into which they throw themselves with exuberance and abandon.  They are quite happy to spend their lives working and playing in that river.

For some, the river may be a particular branch of science; for others, one of the arts.  There are some physicians, for example, who are so wrapped up in medicine that they hate to leave; even after a 16 hour day, they can’t wait to get back to it.

These people are happiest and most alive when they’re in their river--in whatever business or career or profession it happens to be.  And success comes to such people as inevitable as a sunrise.  In fact, they are successes the moment they find their great field of interest; the worldly trappings of success will always come in time.  Such people don’t have to ask, “What will I do with my life?”  Their work is a magnet for them, and they can’t imagine doing anything else.

We all know such people, or about such people.  Doing what they do is even more important to them than the rewards they earn for doing it.

The second group of successful people are those who are goal-oriented.  These people have not found a particular river, necessarily, and can be quite happy doing a number of things.  It’s the goals they set that are important to them, and they’re quite aware that there are many roads that can lead to their goals.

Someone once said, “Americans can have anything they seriously make up their minds to have.  The trouble is that most of them never make up their minds about anything.”  Goal-oriented people do make up their minds about what they want, and they keep their eyes and their enthusiasm on the goal they’ve established until it becomes a reality in their lives.  Then they set a new goal, if they’re wise.

One of the problems with this latter group is that after achieving a number of goals and becoming quite successful, they can run out of goals and become listless and unhappy.  But not the river people.  Their interest in what they’re doing never fades.

So if you’re going to be a big success, chances are you need to be a river person or a goal-oriented person, or both--the two groups are not mutually exclusive.

Tips for Setting Goals

A clinical associate professor of psychiatry, Dr. Ari Kiev, writes, “Observing the lives of people who have mastered adversity, I have noted that they have established goals and sought with all their effort to achieve them.  From the moment they decide to concentrate all their energies on a specific objective, they began to surmount the most difficult odds.”

Dr. Kiev continues, “The establishment of a goal is the key to successful living.  And the most important step toward achieving an objective is first to define it.  I’m sure you have at least 30 minutes a day in which to list your thoughts.  At the end of that time, choose from the possible objectives you have listed, the one that seems the most important, and record it separately on a single card.  Carry this card with you at all times.  Think about this goal every day.  Create a concrete mental image of the goal, as if you’ve already accomplished it.”

The doctor points out, “You can determine your special talents or strengths in a number of ways, ranging from psychological tests to an analysis of the unexpressed wishes in your dreams.  No method works for everyone.  You might start, for example, by clipping and posting newspaper articles that interest you.  After 30 days, see if there isn’t some trend suggestive or a deep-seated interest of natural inclination.  Keep alert to the slightest indications of any special skills or talents, even when they seem silly or unimportant.

“From this exercise, you should be able to get some sense of potential strengths. Whenever you discover a strength or talent, think of five possible ways to develop it.  Write these down on a card as well, and check them periodically to keep them fresh in your mind.”

So take the good advice of psychiatrist Dr. Ari Kiev, and don’t be afraid of failure.  As Herodotus wrote, “It is better by noble boldness to run the risk of being subject to half of the evils we anticipate than to remain in cowardly listlessness for fear of what may happen.”

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Leo Buscaglia

I recall when I was traveling through Asia that I was constantly encountering people who existed, according to our standards, at barely above a starvation level, yet they lived in genuine joy.  Their lives were filled with smiles, song, dance and celebration of whatever they had.  Of course, I am not advocating the naive illusion of the "happy peasant."  All who do desire should be able to rise above whatever social condition in which they were born and attain whatever prize they want for what they believe to be their betterment or happiness.  What I'm saying is that nothing but life itself is necessary for humans to know joy and happiness.

I constantly had this affirmed in my work with handicapped individuals.  I saw quadriplegics who smiled and laughed their way through life, while those working with them, with every physical advantage, were often miserable, unsatisfied and depressed.  It is strange that some of the happiest people I have ever known were those who seemed to have no particular cause to rejoice.  They were simply happy.  They seemed to have in common a singular courage, a willingness to risk, to fail and let go, a belief in themselves, a wonderful resourcefulness, a trust in their creative uniqueness and an ability to hold on to their dream.

Perhaps much happiness is lost in the pursuit of it.  Hawthorne in his American Notebooks said that happiness always comes incidentally.  "Make it the object of pursuit," he stated, "and it leads us on a wild goose chase and is never attained."  He suggests that we should lose our way and follow something totally unrelated.  In that way we often happen on happiness without ever dreaming it would be there.

We are far too rational in our relationships, far too ordered, organized and predictable.  We need to find a place, just this side of madness and irrationality, where we can, from time to time, leave the mundane and move into spontaneity and serendipity, a level that includes a greater sense of freedom and risk--an active environment full of surprises, which encourages a sense of wonder.  Here, ideas and feelings which would otherwise be difficult to state can be expressed freely.  A bond of love is easy to find in an environment of joy.  When we laugh together we bypass reason and logic, as the clown does.  We speak a universal language.  We feel closer to one another.

Joy, humor, laughter--all are wonderful, easily accessible tools for bringing comfort into a relationship.  They can be used to overcome inhibitions and tension.  Doctor William Fry of Stanford University has just recently reported that laughter aids digestion (give up your antacids), stimulates the heart and strengthens muscles (give up jogging), and activates the brain's creative function and keeps you alert (give up artificial stimulants).  All this with a good guffaw.

Joy and happiness are simply states of mind.  As such they can help us to find creative solutions.  When we feel joyful, euphoric, happy, we are more open to life, more capable of seeing things clearly and handling daily tensions.  When one laughs, the body secretes a special hormone that is a natural painkiller.  Norman Cousins claims to have cured himself of a terminal illness wit, among other things, the power of laughter.  Good uproarious laughter of the roll-in-the-aisle type, causes all the vital organs to vibrate and jostle, much like what happens to us when we jog.  So, if we're too lazy to jog, we can laugh our way to health!  Throw out the aspirin and giggle away despair.

For years, I had been told that I was taking life too casually, that my attitude would surely lead me to wrack and ruin.  A man of my professional background should be an example--firm, serious, with his "feet planted firmly on the ground."  With my two feet "firmly planted on the ground," I found I couldn't get my pants on!  With my feet in the air, it's easier now!

"Joy comes in our lives," Joseph Addison says, "when we have something to do, something to love, and something to hope for."

Live fully and with abandon.  Love totally and without fear.  Hope splendidly and never relinquish the dream.  These will help us but joy will only be ours when we choose it.  As Abraham Lincoln reminded us, "Most folks are about as happy as they make up their minds to be."

Many a relationship has been saved by a good belly laugh.

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When you are annoyed at someone's mistake, immediately look at
yourself and reflect how you also fail; for example, in thinking that
good equals money, or pleasure, or a bit of fame.  By being mindful
of this you'll quickly forget your anger, especially if you realize that
the person was under stress, and could do little else.
And, if you can, find a way to alleviate that stress.

Marcus Aurelius


A Night on the Roadside

A long time ago, I lived in Spain for a couple of years.  There was a point at which I had to hitch-hike from Barcelona to Salamanca, a distance of just over 500 miles.  I had no idea how long it would take me to get there--I just put myself out on the highway and stuck out my thumb, hoping, of course, to get there as soon as I possibly could.

That wouldn't end up being the case, though.  I did get a couple of rides from a few very nice people, and by the afternoon, I had made it most of the way to Madrid, and the last guy to give me a ride also gave me a prediction:  "I predict that you will get a ride very soon and make it to Salamanca tonight."

Boy, was he wrong.  He dropped me off at about seven, I think, and there were still almost three hours of light left in the day.  I kept walking, something that I always did while hitching simply because it seemed to be a much more productive use of my time than just standing there.  What that meant, though, was that I spent the next few hours before dark moving away from the town where he had dropped me off, and there really was nothing ahead of me for quite a while--though I really hadn't planned on being on the road for a long time.  After all, he had made a pretty bold prediction, and who was I to doubt his prescience?

I should have doubted.  Three hours later, as the sun was disappearing from the sky, I was still walking.  Nobody stopped to give me a ride, and I was very fortunate to come across a roadside bar where I was able to get a cup of coffee and a sandwich for dinner.  There was nothing else around for many miles, and there was no chance of catching a bus or a train into Madrid, either.  So I was stuck in this little bar, wondering just what I was going to do for the night.  There was no place to stay, and there was no chance of getting a ride after dark.  My options were few.

Though it was unfortunate that there was nothing around, I soon found out that it was also fortunate--once I realized that I would have to be sleeping outdoors, I felt much safer being in the middle of nowhere, where no one was likely to show up to harass me or make me leave, than I would have felt in a place that had many people around.  Around midnight I left the bar and started walking in the direction of Madrid so that I could find a place to crash for the night.  I didn't want to go too far because I figured the bar could be useful in the morning if it was open, and I soon found a little building that seemed to meet my needs.

It looked like one of those little brick sheds that are built for a specific purpose, either to contain electrical circuits or as some sort of storage unit.  I went to the side of it that wasn't facing the road and I sat down with my back to its wall.

It was pretty quiet, except for the occasional car on the road behind me, and I was quite surprised to find that it was pretty pleasant.  There were bushes and trees in front of me, though I could barely make them out in the dark.  I knew that I would be spending the next six or seven hours there because there simply was nowhere else to go and I definitely needed some sleep after and entire day of hitch-hiking.

What surprised me the most, I think, was that I wasn't feeling too bad about my situation.  I was frustrated, of course, but not terribly so--I knew that things could have been much worse, and that sleeping on the side of the road wasn't necessarily such a bad thing.  I felt safe where I was and I did have some money in my pocket and I knew that the next day was only a few hours away.  I had a bag with me that I could use as a pillow, and my only real problem was that it was a bit chilly and I had no blanket, but that was far from a horrible problem.  It certainly wasn't going to get down near freezing that night, though it was pretty cold.

I spent the next few hours trying to get some sleep in spite of the uncomfortable ground and the cold air.  I did fall asleep at times, but I had no way of knowing just how much sleep I actually got--it wasn't much, that was for sure.  I definitely wasn't prepared for sleeping outdoors.  I had no sleeping bag, no blanket, no coat or sweater.  But none of that really mattered.

I realized while I was sitting there that even though my precise location wasn't where I had planned or hoped to be at that moment, I was still where I wanted to be.  I was in Spain, and I was hitching from Barcelona to Salamanca to enroll in a Spanish course that I would be taking for the next year.  I had just finished my BA in Spanish a couple of months earlier, and I was now living in Spain, improving my language skills and learning tons about the cultures and ways of life of the people there.

I knew that even though my situation seemed rather negative, it was a very small episode in my life, one that spanned merely a few hours.  The sun would come up soon and life would go on--I'd go back out on the road and make my way to Madrid and then to Salamanca, I'd register for the course and then within a few weeks I'd be starting it, fulfilling the purpose for which I had come to the country in the first place.  Even though it seemed rather impossible, given my lack of financial resources and support from others, there I was, and I was fine with that.  I would have preferred that night to be somewhere warm and comfortable, but I simply wasn't.  And since I didn't have the resources necessary to change my situation in those moments, I had to either accept it or be angry about it.  And in hindsight, I'm quite surprised--and pleased--that I was able to accept it so readily.

More on perspective.



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To travel a circle is to journey over the same ground time and time again. To travel a circle wisely is to journey over the same ground for the first time. In this way, the ordinary becomes extraordinary, and the circle, a path to where you wish to be. And when you notice at last that the path has circled back into itself, you realize that
where you wish to be is where you have already been. . . and always were.

Neale Donald Walsch

I love my sea-shell of a house.  I wish I could live in it always.  I wish I could transport it home.  But I cannot.  It will not hold a husband, five children and the necessities and trappings of daily life.  I can only carry back my little channeled whelk.  It will sit on my desk in Connecticut, to remind me of the ideal of a simplified life, to encourage me in the game I played on the beach.  To ask how little, not how much, can I get along with.  To say--is it necessary?--when I am tempted to add one more accumulation to my life, when I am pulled toward one more centrifugal activity.
   Simplification of outward life is not enough.  It is merely the outside.  But I am starting with the outside.  I am looking at the outside of a shell, the outside of my life--the shell.  The complete answer is not to be found on the outside, in an outward mode of living.  This is only a technique, a road to grace.  The final answer, I know, is always inside.  But the outside can give a clue, can help one to find the inside answer.  One is free, like the hermit crab, to change one's shell.

Anne Morrow Lindbergh
Gift from the Sea


The people who say you are not facing reality actually
mean that you are not facing their idea of reality.

Margaret Halsey




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