It seems to me that there are two basic
approaches to life.
The proverbial partially filled glass of water illustrates these approaches. Is the glass half-full or is it half-empty? Perhaps, the greatest difference between people is in what
they anticipate. What do you anticipate? What are you looking for? What are you waiting for, hoping for?
Norman Vincent Peale told of an old man who
appeared on a popular television program. He had received a prize forwinning
a contest and he proceeded to steal the show with his quick wit and exuberant
spirit. The host of the show said to him, "It's easy to see that
you are a very happy man. What's your secret? Let us in on it." "Well,
son," the fellow
said, "it's as plain as the nose on your face. When I wake up in the morning, I have two choices. One is to be unhappy;the other is to be happy. And I want you to know, sonny, that I'm not as dumb as I may look. I'm smart enough to choosehappiness. I just make up my mind to be happy . . . that's all there is to it." (Have a Great Day, 1985).
Attitude; it's a matter of attitude. Of course,
there are folks more like John Randolph of Virginia, one of the heroes
of the Revolutionary War era. Randolph seemed to have everything
going for him. He had exhaustless energy, initiative,honesty, and a talent
for business. But historian Gamalial Bradford, after analyzing Randolph's
public life, said of him,
that John Randolph opposed all parties, all movements, and pretty much all people. In short, he said, "he was a furiousnegative -- nothing more." That's a tragic waste of life brought about by an unnecessarily negative view of the world.
What is your attitude toward life? Is it basically negative or is it positive? Do you say I can't stand the dizziness? Ordo you say I can get through this! Do you say I can't stand being helpless? Or do you say, Thank God for all the peoplewho have been there when I needed them? Do you say I could never do that? Or do you say I'll give it a try?
Peter Marshall once preached a sermon on "The
Problem of Falling Rocks," alluding to the signs that appearalongside the
road in some areas. Marshall said, "You…have two alternatives: you can
drive on and risk the falling
rocks, creeping along, peering anxiously upward at every rock, stopping every time a rock looks like it mightdislodge, never seeing the view and being in pain the whole time. And you will never change the fact that when the
rock decides to respond to gravity it will fall whether you are watching or not. Or, you can go to the mountains,observe the sign, be cautious, but decide not to worry about falling rocks and enjoy the drive . . . The worrying of the
driver has absolutely no effect upon the rock."
Attitude IS important. Do you get so absorbed in worrying about rocks that might fall on you that you forget toappreciate the gift of the scenery around you? Or do you enjoy the beauty framed by those rocks that might fall, but thataren't falling right now?
Several years ago, I saw the results of a study that said people identified as being pessimistic are more likely to diewithin the next ten years than those seen as optimistic. The most negative persons had the highest death rate. Do we need to conclude, therefore, don't worry, be happy?
We all have days when we find it hard to be
positive, days when the negatives we encounter in life seemoverwhelming.
The Psalmist often speaks for us in those situations. For instance, he
speaks with certainty and surety
when he says, Hear, O Lord, when I cry aloud, be gracious and answer me. We can seek God's face even in thedarkest hours and know that God does not forsake us. And he also says, I believe that I shall see the goodness of the
Lord in the land of the living.
So how do we translate that faith statement into life action? Let's learn from a little book from Arco Publishers that is entitled Tips on Presiding. In that book, the writer says, "When the chair[person] of a meeting is presented with a negatively worded motion, he[/she] should ask the maker of the motion to make it positive. The purpose is not to alter the intent of the motion, but simply to make it workable. Experience has taught that negatively worded motions tend to defeat their own purposes." Negatively viewed living tends to defeat the purpose of life.
We know that pessimism and optimism are not
personality traits we display without any change throughout our lives.Rather,
they are learned ways of explaining trouble to ourselves as we go through
life. And the influences upon us helpdetermine which one we acquire. Like
the woman who walked into the playroom at the doctor's office where her
son had been throwing darts. She looked at the five darts in the
target, then at the one on the floor, and said to him, "Youmissed one,
didn't you?" That boy is likely to have a hard time developing a positive
attitude toward life if that is the
message he gets every day.
Attitudes, once learned, can be changed, however. There is life after pessimism. One can recover from this dis-ease.And we need to unlearn this learned grumpiness since optimists are life's big winners. Negative thinkers perform morepoorly in school, work, and play, than those who cheerfully face obstacles. Pessimists have poorer resistance, weaker immune systems, are more susceptible to depression, and age physically faster than the optimists.
One way of dealing with the adversities that
drive us towards pessimism is to develop a sense of humor. Socrates wasa
great philosopher in ancient Greece. It is told that one day his wife scolded
him with scornful words and dumped a
bucket of water upon his head, to which, in true philosophical fashion, Socrates remarked that after so much thunderand lightning, he expected a shower.
It's a matter of attitude. What's yours? Do
you have an optimism that carries you through the hard days, or do you
try to hide an irascible pessimism behind the label of realism?
The attitude with which we approach life is something we
learn. And the attitude with which we approach life is the direction in which we lead when called upon to do so.
Jesus tried to fill his disciples with a positive attitude, one that dealt realistically with pain and suffering, but thatcontinued to celebrate the fullness of life as it is given by God. The world you see is a picture of your own state ofmind, an outward picture of an inward condition. Just as Jesus called the first disciples to receive with hospitality and grace those who differed and were different, so he calls us today to be open and receptive to new people and ideasand ways. This is the spirit that reflects the mind of Jesus and is the spirit that can lead us to live in peace and harmony with one another and in the mind of Christ. This is the spirit of leadership. It is the spirit we are called tohave - you and I.
It's a matter of attitude! And the glass is
filling up to overflowing. I just make up my mind to be happy. I just make
up my mind to see the brilliance of God's light shining in my life
and on the world. Thanks be to God!
RECOGNIZE OUR UNLIMITED NATURE."
foolishly blame others.
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Go placidly amid the noise and haste, and remember, what peace there may be in silence.
As far as possible without surrender be on good terms with all persons. Speak your truth quietly and clearly; and listen to others, even the dull and ignorant; they too have their story. Avoid loud and aggressive persons, they are vexations to the spirit. If you compare yourself with others, you may become vain and bitter; for always there will be greater and lesser persons than yourself. Enjoy your achievements as well as your plans. Keep interested in your own career, however humble; it is a real possession in the changing fortunes of time. Exercise caution in your business affairs; for the world is full of trickery. But let this not blind you to what virtue there is; many persons strive for high ideals; and everywhere life is full of heroism.
Be yourself. Especially, do not feign affection. Neither be cynical about love; for in the face of all aridity and disenchantment it is perennial as the grass. Take kindly the counsel of years, gracefully surrendering the things of youth. Nurture strength of spirit to shield you in sudden misfortune. But do not distress yourself with imaginings. Many fears are born of fatigue and loneliness. Beyond a wholesome discipline, be gentle with yourself. You are a child of the universe, no less than the trees and stars; you have a right to be here. And whether or not it is clear to you, no doubt the universe is unfolding as it should. Therefore be at peace with God, whatever you conceive Him to be, and whatever your labors and aspirations, in the noisy
confusion of life keep peace with your soul. With all its sham, drudgery and broken dreams, it is still a beautiful world. Be careful. Strive to be happy.
People Who Care
Written on Martin Luther King Day, 1996
Winter is the quiet season - few noises in the natural world break the silence of he snow and cold, except the occasional flock of geese flying overhead. That's when Martin Luther King came into the world - in the middle of the winter. But he
wasn't a silent man - he had a lot to talk about. One of those things is love. Outside of the religious context, there is little talk of love. Of course, women's magazines are full of tips on reigning love, (interestingly, its rarely a topic in men's mags) but often on a sexual/ romantic level or, eros love. King spoke of agape, originally Christian love, or the "love feast" in the church. But King meant the feeling of love between humans on a brotherly/sisterly level - that of extended
family or community. When discussing today's social problems, we talk about punishment, war unemployment, protest, homelessness - rarely about love. When it gets mentioned, its often met with cynicism. "Love won't get you far in this world," or "Love won't solve our budgetary problems," is often the response, either verbally or mentally. Or people think of the apparent naiveté of the 60's slogan "Make love, not war." Love just doesn't seem to be part of the solution, even
though lack of love is almost always part of the problem. But let's face it - in many parts of the world (including the US), getting people to tolerate each other is hard enough - how can we possibly get a seat at the love feast?
The first step is reintroducing the concept into public discourse, rather than dismissing it out-of-hand as unrealistic. A good case in point is the Million Man March. There, hundreds of thousands of men who were strangers to each other,
started speaking about "loving all black men." Men are not known to easily use the L-word in public, let alone in a sincere way. Can you remember the last time you heard a male politician use that term? But to talk openly about love, it helps to understand it - or at least being willing to listen. What does agape love mean in the 90's? How can I love others like
brothers and sisters, when I've been taught to either hate them, compete with them, or see them as an enemy?
And then there's the homophobia question. As an adult, can I look into another adult's eye and say "I love you" without fear, shame or embarrassment? So we all need to do a lot more thinking about what love means, and how (and
why) we can start expressing (and receiving) it. Religion needs to emphasize agape love even more, especially towards
non-believers. The commandant wasn't, "Thou shall love thy neighbor only if they believe as thou doest." It was for everyone. Love won't come quickly or universally - but we must start somewhere. Peace is not merely the absence of
war - it is the presence of love. If that's what we want, it will take effort on our part, not just waiting for someone else to do it. And its not something we talk about just on Martin Luther King's birthday or Christmas or Holidays. Peace
happens minute by minute in each life.
WE ALL ARE GUILTY of knowing we could have done better with the gift of Agape Love that God gave us.
6 Stories Lessons In Perspective
From: Bill_Freiler@prodigy.com ( WILLIAM J FREILER)
Tucked away in our subconscious is an idyllic vision. We see ourselves on a long trip that spans the continent. We are traveling by train. Out the windows we drink in the passing scene of cars on nearby highways, of children waving at the crossing, of smoke pouring from a power plant, or rows upon
rows of corn and wheat, of flatland and valleys, of valleys and rolling hillsides, of city skylines and village halls. But uppermost in our minds is the final destination. On a certain day at a certain hour we will pull
into the station. Bands will be playing, flags will be waving. Once we get there, so many wonderful dreams will come true and the pieces of our lives will fit How restlessly we pace the aisles, damning the minutes loitering - waiting, waiting, waiting for the station. "When we reach the station, that will be it!" we cry. "When I'm 18." "When I buy a new car." " When I pay off the mortgage." "When I reach the age of retirement, I shall live happily ever after!" Sooner or later, we must realize there is no station, no one place to arrive
once and for all. The true joy of life has been the journey. The station is only a dream. It constantly outdistances us. "Relish the Moment" is a good motto. It isn't the burdens of today that drive men mad.
It is the regrets over yesterday and the fear of tomorrow. Regret and fear are twin thieves who rob us
of today. So, stop pacing the aisles and counting the miles. Instead, climb more mountains, eat more ice cream, go barefoot more often, swim more rivers, watch more sunsets, laugh more, cry less. Life must be
lived as we go along. The station will come soon enough.
Many years ago, when I worked as a volunteer at Stanford Hospital, I got to know a little girl named Liza who was suffering from a rare and serious disease. Her only chance of recovery appeared to be a blood transfusion
from her five-year-old brother, who had miraculously survived the same disease and had developed the antibodies needed to combat the illness. The doctor explained the situation to her little brother, and asked the boy if he would be willing to give his blood to his sister. I saw him hesitate for only a moment before taking a deep breath and saying, "Yes, I'll do it if it will save Liza." As the transfusion progressed, he lay in bed next to his sister and smiled, as we all did, seeing the color returning to her cheeks. Then his face grew pale and his smile faded. He looked up at the doctor and asked with a trembling voice, "Will I start to die right away?" Being young, the boy had misunderstood the doctor; he thought he was going to have to give
her all his blood.
One night, at 11:30 pm, an older African-American woman was standing on the side of an Alabama highway trying to endure a lashing rainstorm.Her car had broken down and she desperately needed a ride Soaking wet, she decided to flag down the next car. A young white man stopped to help her-generally unheard of in those conflict-filled 1960s. The man took her to safety, helped her get assistance and put her into
a taxi cab. She seemed to be in a big hurry! She wrote down his address, thanked him and drove away. Seven days went by and a knock came on the man's door. To his surprise, a giant combination console color TV and stereo record player were delivered to his home.A special note was attached. The note read: "Dear Mr. James: Thank you so much for assisting me on the highway the other night. The rain drenched not only my clothes but my spirits Then you came along. Because of you, I was able to make it to my dying husband's
bedside just before he passed away. God bless you for helping me
I was taking my usual morning walk when a garbage truck pulled up beside me. I thought the driver was going to ask for directio Instead, he showed me a picture of a cute little five-year-old boy "This is my grandson, Jeremiah," he said. "He's on a life-support system at a Phoenix hospital." Thinking he would next ask for a contribution to his hospital bills, I reached for my wallet. But he wanted something more than money. He said, "I'm asking everybody I can to say a prayer for him. Would you say one for him, please?"
I did, and my problems didn't seem like much that day.
In the days when an ice cream sundae cost much less, a 10-year-old boy entered a hotel coffee shop and sat at a table. A waitress put a glass of water in front of him. "How much is an ice cream sundae?"
"Fifty cents," replied the waitress. The little boy pulled his hand out of his pocket and studied a number
of coins in it. "How much is a dish of plain ice cream?" he inquired. Some people were now waiting for a table and the waitress was a bit impatient. "Thirty-five cents," she said brusquely. The little boy again counted the coins. "I'll have the plain ice cream," he said. The waitress brought the ice cream, put the bill on the table and walked away. The boy finished the ice cream, paid the cashier and departed. When the waitress came back, she began wiping down the table and then swallowed hard at what she saw. There, placed neatly beside the empty dish, were two nickels and five pennies - her tip
In ancient times, a king had a boulder placed on a roadway. Then he hid himself and watched to see if anyone would remove the huge rock. Some of the king's wealthiest merchants and courtiers came by and simply walked around it. Many loudly blamed the king for not keeping the roads clear, but none did anything about getting the big stone out of the way. Then a peasant came along carrying a load of vegetables. On approaching the boulder, the peasant laid down his burden and tried to move the stone to the side of the road. After much pushing andstraining, he finally succeeded. As the peasant picked up his load of vegetables, he noticed a purse lying in the road where the boulder had been. The purse contained many gold coins and a note from the king indicating that the gold was for the person who removed theboulder from the roadway.
The peasant learned what many others never understand. Every obstacle presents an opportunity to improve
During my second month of nursing school, our professor gave us a pop quiz. I was a conscientious student and had breezed through the questions, until I read the last one: "What is the first name of the woman who cleans the school?" Surely this was some kind of joke. I had seen the cleaning woman several times. She was tall, dark-haired and in her 50s, but how would I know her name? I handed in my paper, leaving the last question blank. Before class ended, one student asked if the last question would count toward our quiz grade. "Absolutely," said the professor. "In your careers you will meet many people. All are significant.
They deserve your attention and care, even if all you do is smile and say hello." I've never forgotten that
lesson. I also learned her name was Dorothy.
If you woke up this morning with more
health than illness ... you are more blessed than the million who will
not survive this week.
If you have never experienced the danger
of battle, the loneliness of imprisonment, the agony of torture,
or the pangs of starvation ... you are ahead of 500 million people in the world.
If you can attend a church meeting without
fear of harassment, arrest, torture, or death ... you are more
blessed than three billion people in the world.
If you have food in the refrigerator,
clothes on your back, a roof overhead and a place to sleep...you are
richer than 75% of this world.
If you have money in the bank, in your
wallet, and spare change in a dish someplace...you are among
the top 8% of the world's wealthy.
If your parents are still alive and still married...you are very rare, even in the United States.
If you hold up your head with a smile
on your face and are truly thankful...you are blessed because
the majority can..... but most do not.
If you can hold someone's hand, hug them
or even touch them on the shoulder...you are blessed
because you can offer healing touch.
If you can read this message, you just
received a double blessing in that someone was thinking of you,
and furthermore, you are more blessed than the over two billion people in the world who cannot read at all.
Have a good day, count your blessings, and pass this along to remind everyone else how blessed we all are.
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