Just Another Blog on Finding Happiness…


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Of late it has become more and more apparent that many of our notions of finding happiness don’t really lead to happiness at all. Happiness isn’t some target destination you can reach or some feeling you can acquire by your determination to think about being happy. In fact, the consideration and contemplation of happiness seems to cancel out its positive effect. And while happiness is greatly influenced by your thinking it generally comes more from doing than from thinking at all…

There is, I’m sad to report, such a thing as too much thinking. This modern-day notion we have learned from the self-help, motivation and positivity age is that we somehow have to closely monitor our thoughts and then quickly change every thought over into a positive one. On the surface, this all sounds fine and dandy. However, when you stop your thinking and subsequent doing in order to evaluate and monitor, you sort of cease being and switch over to evaluating or judging. Now you, as yourself, are looking at yourself and making a determination about yourself. And, how often are those self-focused, interior judgments good? Constantly checking in on yourself to see if you are okay is counterproductive to being okay.

Have you ever been completely absorbed in something like work and noticed how good you felt afterwards? Generally, it seems, the more focused you are in the present moment and what it is you are doing in the present moment, the better you feel. In these moments of ecstasy and bliss you don’t have to turn on your mental oven monitor to check if your happiness is ready. It just is and you have the pleasure of enjoying it. How many times have you been worried about some scenario and just couldn’t get it out of your head? That is until you decide to mow the lawn and voila, just like that you feel better! Sure these are simple examples, but they do point to an awareness that the best use of our minds is to accompany the activity we are engaged in, in the moment called now.

The polar opposite of simply being and doing is thinking and thinking and thinking. No-one’s life ever got better from over-thinking and analyzing and judging. Yet, we engage in it as if it is a responsible way to behave. The result of it is always “to do” lists for self-improvement and/or decisions to get up earlier, read more, drink less and the like. Hidden behind those noble efforts of goal setting and life betterment lies a subtle message that you are not okay just as you are. In the same way that religion questions your worthiness before God to control you and get your money, the self-help industry offers to improve you and make you okay as long as you buy the book, attend the seminar and buy another book! How can anyone ever simply “be happy” if they live perpetually in a state of “I’m not okay?”

In truth, it’s not the analysis that is the issue, it’s the judgment. It seems a person is the happiest when they can choose for themselves what they will and will not do. How many people really do what they want to do? Things are always modified and changed to fit in, be accepted, please him and satisfy her. We spend our days in anxiety ever trying to live up to some rules that someone else set-up for us to live. We don’t trust ourselves and our judgment and thereby severely curtail our own happiness. Our minds become chock full of things we should do, shouldn’t do and must do! It might be okay if we determined what those things are, but most often we are still living out someone else’s rules for acceptability. Don’t you just love and admire the people who do what they want to do and are not ashamed of it? Happy is the man who doesn’t condemn himself for the things he enjoys! Indeed, happy is the man…

The essence of finding happiness is not in looking for happiness at all. Rather it is choosing to live in the moment, enjoying your choice of activities, accepting yourself just as you are and doing your own life! It’s in making plans and pursuing dreams. It’s in being fully present with the people you love. It’s in flexibility, spontaneity and whim! It’s in getting out of your own head while refusing to judge yourself, analyze yourself or berate yourself. It’s in finally choosing to live your life rather than choosing only to think about it and judge it.

Happiness isn’t elusive or hiding from you. Rather it is waiting for you to let go of all of your controls and ideas and simply let yourself be. It’s all around you waiting for you to notice its presence. It’s at your job, in your home, in the yard and at the store. It’s in each moment of life spent doing and being and living. It’s hoping you will set aside all of your judgments and comparisons and analysis long enough to notice, “I’m here” and “How happy I feel!”

Just another blog on finding happiness…

 

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Fine Lines of Demarcation…


Drawing a line in the sand.  An old metaphor.“I am come that they might have life and that they might have it more abundantly!” exclaimed Jesus while explaining his purpose for mankind. Can you believe it? The reason God sent His son into the world was so that you and I could live a more than abundant life! God’s great promise is a life that is superabundant in every category, every facet and phase! So why do we often find ourselves living a less than abundant life? The answer can be found in the fine lines of demarcation between truth and error.

Error, in order to be believed and practiced, must follow closely alongside the genuine. If the error promoted is too far away from the truth, people will spot it and in most cases go another direction. When you travel you have to move in a certain direction to end up at the right destination. Depending upon how far you have to travel, being off just one degree will cause you to miss your location by a thousand miles. Many people miss the life they wished they could live by a thousand miles.

The truth found in God’s Word provides you with the genuine. The more you can align your life and believing with the genuine, the better results you will experience in your life. But, and its a big but, you have to be very, very, very clear on the doctrine. If you get real close but are off ever so slightly, you will miss the prize at the end. There are forces out there in the world ever working to move you away from the genuine with the goal of steal, kill and destroy. Error steals your happiness, your successes, your results. Error kills your enthusiasm for life while seeking to kill you in the process. Error destroys your accomplishments and potential rewards in the future.

The only way to be assured of the victory is to know what the Good Book says and more specifically, know what it says directly to you. For example the book of Romans, written directly to you, explains how Jesus Christ paid the full price for your sins (your missing the mark) past, present and future. He not only paid for your sins but he also paid for the consequences of those sins. Can you see your more than abundant life alive in those verses? Yet, what does the world teach you? What do the churches teach you? They tell you, you must do “good works” to earn God’s favor in your life. They become adept at condemning you and reminding you where you don’t “measure up.” Oh sure, they agree that Jesus Christ died for your sins, but in the same breath talk about sin, promote sin and laud sin! They ask if you are right with the Lord. They question if you are living your life the right way. But, how could I live my life the wrong way if Jesus Christ paid the price for everything that was ever wrong with me? Can you see the fine lines of demarcation? Can you recognize how the subtlety of wrong doctrine can cause you to spend a lifetime trying to earn something that God already freely and graciously gave to you? Can you discern how your struggle to make yourself right with God leads only to a life that is less than abundant?

Most Christians fail to utilize the power of God because they are still trying to do things that will make themselves right with God! You show me a person operating the power of God in his life and I’ll show you a person who believes who God says he is and has ceased from his own works! In order to get all of the things God says you can get, you have to persuade your mind of the things that God says are true! You have to be damn clear on the doctrine. People aren’t clear on the doctrine because they have drifted away from God’s Word and have been caught up in philosophies and tradition. I don’t blame the people for this, however… If I was taught to associate God with Him evaluating and judging my life, I wouldn’t want to read the book either. I would want nothing to do with that garbage! Yet that pervasive error is the very thing that keeps people from the only book that will actually save them!

It is religion that has done this to people. Religion, ever seeking to exercise control over man, has promoted these wrong doctrines. Religion is ever focused on what man does or doesn’t do. Religion places man at the center of things and blames him for failing to attain. Christianity is just the opposite. Christianity isn’t about what man does, but what God has done for man in Christ! Christianity, true Christianity, makes God its subject of focus. Christianity is God’s solution for a sick and dying world. Christianity is the more than abundant life promised in John 10:10…

I’m not asking you to slap your pastor or go and beat up your priest! Instead I’m asking you dig into that Word of God and see what it says about your life. Read those seven church epistles written directly to you. (Romans – Thessalonians) Stop participating in the good behavior games and learn about the freedom you have in Christ! Learn about all of the wonderful things God has already done for you and made available to you. Find out how to believe rightly and gain access to every good thing you ever wanted for your life! It’s all right there waiting for you folks, as long as you observe those fine lines of demarcation…

Just some good thoughts…

 

Step Out of the Shadows…


imagesBeing a curator and a cultivator of good thoughts, I’ve always found it necessary to understand the effect of thought on a person’s day-to-day living. Our minds are the arena for the great competition of life whereby we may win, lose and everything in-between. Sadly, most people lose in this competition from ignorance concerning the importance of right thought and an associated refusal to monitor, modify and change those thoughts. No matter how seemingly sad, lonely, boring, unhappy, or unfulfilled your life may be, all may be swiftly remedied by stepping out of the shadows and into the light!

The peculiar thing about thought and emotion is that people conclude those thoughts are circumstance driven. In other words, they assume they feel happy because the circumstances are happy and thus turn over the reigns of thought to whatever circumstance or situation they might find themselves in. If you will investigate your thought a little further, you’ll recognize, somewhere buried in your lightning fast processor, a decision you made to be or feel that way. The same applies to unhappy and unpleasant thoughts. At your core, you are weighing and sifting, analyzing and processing, then coming to a conclusion about how you should feel. The trouble sneaks in by not being clear on what you are weighing, sifting, analyzing and processing. Just because you think a certain thought, does not make that thought true. It’s not just how you “feel” or any other statement that removes you from being the initiator of the process. You, no matter what is going on all around you, are deciding how you are going to feel, think and eventually act!

The wrong conclusions, the erroneous analysis, the false measures are all components of darkness that make up the shadows. The shadows shield the sun from shining into our hearts. The sun is aways shining, so it’s our responsibility to position ourselves to where we can feel the light. So the question becomes, is that thought light or is it dark? If it’s dark it’s not going to help you get to the light. And don’t you tell me you are just “being honest!” Negative events, negative circumstances call for access to the light, not a resolving of yourself to curl up in the shadows until the trouble is over. Doing so ends in losing in the great competition for life and happiness over misery and death.

Most of us, if we are honest, don’t get defeated in the grand dramas of life. We lose the smaller skirmishes that kick up day by day. We sit on our mental porches rehearsing some aspect of our lives that isn’t complete or fulfilled, as if running it through our minds in earnest will somehow bring about a change. Mental complaining and whining is just more shadows, gaining access by our persistence in allowing it. “Dwelling on the darkness won’t bring forth the light!” (Dr. VPW) Rehearsing and ruminating over some aspect of our lives we don’t enjoy will not lead us to the solution. Instead it will simply attach itself to our sifting and weighing, analyzing and processing, leading us ever to the wrong conclusions; I’m unhappy, sad, lonely, bored, unfulfilled! Our lives, our feelings, our thoughts are all just that – ours!

Stepping out of the shadows is making the mental decision to be happy, to be blessed, by refusing to spend time entertaining the dark thoughts. It’s not running around all day shouting, “I’m happy, I’m happy!” It is refusing access to darkness by refuting those thoughts inspired and encouraged by the darkness. It is the decision to live above the negatives not by hiding your head in the sand, but by recognizing the negatives yet not rehearsing and embracing them as your own. You find yourself feeling some kind of way about some scenario and in that very moment you choose not to fan it or explore it, but instead change your thoughts over to something good, something true. The great deception, the ultimate ruse, the profound trickery is accomplished by appealing to your ego or limited understanding to try and unravel a spiritual issue with your five senses reasonings. You “think” you are actually getting somewhere by investigating some negative feelings or chronic problem when in reality you are simply being cajoled into permitting darkness to stick around in your head! This has worked on mankind for over two thousand years and will continue to work as long as unknowing people cooperate with it. Stop cooperating with it!

Being happy and blessed has always been God’s intention for mankind. God knows you and also knows everything that is holding you down and stopping you from living the life you really want to live. And as Emerson aptly noted, “We need only obey.” We obey not by following some prescribed creed or rules for good behavior, but by thinking and living how God says to live and think. The renewed mind, putting off the old man and putting on the new man, walking in the light, are God’s solution for how to get you where you want to go. It is how to defeat this opponent you cannot see or accurately discern. It is how to win in the spiritual competition of life; the competition for your life and happiness and fulfillment! We need only obey!

Step out of those shadows that have been limiting and minimizing your life. Get up and get out of that darkness. Don’t try to wrestle with the darkness in the darkness. Just stand up and turn on the light. Once you have turned on the light don’t allow anyone or anything to turn it off again. And when by chance you realize it’s off, just get up and turn it back on again. This is life people. This is the answer to whatever has gone wrong for wherever you may have ended up. Step out of the shadows and see! Choose light!

Just some good thoughts…

The Wonder Filled Present…


8-article-hr-rm-gettyimages-83591401I learned through trial and error that you can give your growing vegetables too much water.  You’d think that more water meant a more abundant crop, wouldn’t you? Veggies need some water and some time to dig their roots down into the soil in search of water. If you make it too easy for them, they don’t dig down and they don’t grow. If you make it too hard by neglecting them, they wither and die. As humans, our joy is found in discovering how the system works already and cooperating with it. We were never asked to invent the process, but rather work within the frameworks previously established for us. Sure we can spend many years bucking against the system, trying and erring, trying and erring, but it’s always a wonder filled day when finally we learn how it works and work with it!

Your mind and more specifically your thoughts are also a system. The system was designed to produce something for you. It is neither random nor whimsical. It’s not happenstance, nor is it something outside your control. You can neglect the system and it will begin to wither and fail. You can overload the system and it will start to break down. It, like all of the systems that exist in this world, is always a delicate balance that requires an effort on man’s part to learn and master. You begin to neglect the system when you stop thinking and deeply considering in favor of habit and rote behaviors. It happens when you think you already know and have the audacity to conclude there’s nothing new for you to learn. The system becomes frightfully overloaded when you burden it down with worries and cares. One central theme of worry will overshadow all of your thinking and suffocate the life right out of you. Thoughts of your past failures and anticipating the doom of some future state, short-circuit the whole operation and reduce your vitality immeasurably.

Thought processes, though highly debated, have been estimated to number between 50,000 and 70,000 per day. Clearly the system was designed with a large capacity in mind.  However, the Wisdom behind the massive system planned for the thought processes to be managed one day at a time. The reason we miss the “wonder filled present” is because our minds are all over the damn place! Our minds have been schooled to flick around like dragonflies, changing directions frenetically, running from thing to thing to thing! We can barely tolerate the present moment without some additional source of information streaming into our consciousness from devices we must recharge every hour. In interactions with other humans we half participate at best. We nod and reply with 20% agreement having only partially registered what was said. With reverted eye we drift in and out of the moment, scanning backwards and forwards like radar, yet missing the target in the center. And as we faithfully miss the mark, our personal fulfillment suffers a mortal blow.

The precious moment called “now” is not found only in moments of quiet repose in a shaded wood or glimmering off the surface of the ocean. It’s not location dependent nor reserved for sunrises or sunsets. It’s not something saved as a celebration for the hard-won fight or worthy goal accomplished. It is life happening right now in the midst of the 50,000+ with the whole sum participating each one by one by one. It is your next idea, your next activity, your very next move. It is you waking, preparing, eating, walking, driving, parking, entering and working. It is the work to be done next in priority. It’s your opportunity to do good for your co-worker and his co-worker and hers. It’s in noticing her furrowed brow and asking if everything is okay. It is looking at the faces in the meeting and seeing them all one by one. It is pausing to think whether those words should be said out loud and choosing silence instead. It is observing the whole drive home then arriving with a determination to bring light and happiness to those with whom you interact the most, despite your familiarity with them and every imagined insult. It is your glorious opportunity to win the moment, the hour, the day and in so doing honor the God that made you!

Alive in the moment, you’ll find your mind relieved of a vast load of cares with the only threat to your existence being that which you can discern now and not that which has been deeply amplified within your fearful thoughts. The fretful pushing and driving to make something of yourself will be replaced by your recognition of a well-lit path that has been carefully marked out for you already, with your only requirement being to find it and keep yourself on it! Living your life one day at a time allows your soul to slow to the pace for which it was designed to run; a pace designed for the whole race. And like an athlete well skilled in how much energy to expend on a thing, you will finally sit atop the perch and with grace decide just how much of you the thing requires and whether you are willing to give it.

The wonder filled present has the antidote to life’s deepest problems because it works away at the bricks in the fortress without rashly seeking to rip out the whole edifice all at once. Obesity and poor health are tackled by the next decision and the next, until working in concert they produce a cumulative, dramatic effect. The root of financial problems are at last found out in today’s earning and spending without relying hopelessly on some false windfall of the future. Indeed all that plagues you, wrapped up and mystified in distracted backward looking and forward seeking thoughts, will suddenly come into laser clear focus begging to be addressed and remedied at last!

The wonder filled present is God’s solution, His gift for a weary, overburdened people, offering the promise that is found in today and only found in today. Life, as you well know, is far too short to miss it or waste it bamboozled and distracted by a world hell-bent on depleting your resources and squandering away your precious existence! Love your one life by making the decision to live it fully, comprehensively, completely, starting with today!

You owe yourself this gift!

Just some good thoughts…