Clean Up Your Environment…


Much can be said about your environment and what you choose to live in each day. Some environments are healthy and serve to promote growth. Other environments are toxic and slowly eat away at your core. Dark and dreary spaces rob your heart of the sunshine of living. While bright and cheerful abodes freely admit fresh air and revitalization into your soul. Clutter and unattended to accumulation choke and stifle. Well placed and well intentioned objects promote peace.

Human minds, like your living room, must be meticulously maintained and well cared for. Failure to do so will eventually lead to anarchy. Every non-beneficial thought you let go of will soon gain ascendancy over your life. Every un-confronted  criticism, every darkening shadow, every unaddressed burden, every threat to your future will work together against you to suffocate your heart, rendering it callused and useless. Yet, most people only render a half consciousness regarding their thoughts and even less confidence in their ability to control them. Worse still, only a tiny majority recognize that the space in their heads is theirs and theirs alone to manage and if necessary, clean up.

I know it sounds trite and the expression is completely worn out, but you are the only you, you have got. Your mind is the command center of your life. Out from your mind, your heart come the issues of your life. I’ll say it another way. That which you think about the most; that which you dwell upon; that which you choose to faithfully consider is how your life turns out. That person you pity at your high school reunion who seems as if life has gotten the better of him isn’t so because of fate or bad luck, but rather because of a failure to protect his mental environment. If you knew how much your thoughts impacted your life, you wouldn’t be so frivolous concerning them. Every negative seed “the wind” blows in will, if left unattended, produce a weed. And like every good weed seeks to do, will eventually ruin your garden. Your lack of energy, your absence of enthusiasm, your perpetual feelings of fatigue are more from your mental environment than any lack of sleep.

The circumstances you encounter, the trials and the difficulties, the weighty burdens come not first but after. Your thinking is the primary cause. And while the world may be engulfed in evil, irritation, suffering and annoyance, you don’t have to be engulfed or submerged in it. There is a way out and that way out is found in changing your thoughts. Feeling negative and frustrated and futile are temptations which must be fought against. Submission to the negatives in life is like settling down in a filthy home that you have the capability to clean up. Clean up your environment. Locate the unwelcome guests one at a time and replace them one at a time. Your goal isn’t a vacuum (though you may need to vacuum). Your goal is replacement. You have to locate something that is wholesome, edifying and true to replace that which is unhealthy, damaging and false. But, do it you must!

It may seem like controlling your thoughts is an impossible task given the sheer speed and volume with which we think. But your task isn’t all of your thoughts, it is your next thoughts. When it comes to life, when it comes to your existence, when it comes to your personal experience, what are you saying to yourself? Are you being kind to yourself like you are to a dear friend, though despite his foibles, you continue to love? Are you exhibiting patience like you would offer to a child? Are you extending to yourself a new beginning; a thousand new beginnings, like you would to someone that you’ve determine to forgive? Are you? Or are you faithfully engaged in berating yourself, criticizing yourself, comparing and weighing yourself against others? The Instagram model whose body you have been coveting may have spent a lifetime cultivating it, yet there you are actually hating your own wonderful flesh in response to it. You see, the beginning of healthy thought begins with the things you think about yourself. Are you really such a bad person or are you perhaps much like everyone else; battling absurdities and weakness and errors, yet continuing on in spite of them?

Building up your mind, building up your heart takes time. You can’t expect to change a lifetime of wrong thinking overnight, just as you wouldn’t expect your body to show signs of change after the first few days of exercising. But persistence in controlling your mind will produce a lifetime of results. Controlling your thoughts doesn’t just consist of the things you say about yourself, but also comprises the things you say about your life, your relationships, your job, your boss, you name it. Every negative viewpoint, every false assumption, every rehearsed and expected failure you envision cannot help but to produce more after its kind. Maybe, just maybe your life sucks because that’s what you have been confessing for the past twenty years. Maybe you can’t catch a break because you don’t expect to catch a break and then somehow that is God’s fault. Your life is far, far from being destined or predetermined with our wonderful God having supplied you with the one thing you can control, if you really want to!

If you take nothing away from this but one solitary thing, know that your thinking is vitally and crucially important in determining how your life turns out. Clean up your environment. Don’t allow anything to remain that pains you or causes you to feel unrest. Banish fear and worry as both have failed miserably in preventing anything from happening. Cleanse and purify your estimation of yourself by refusing anything that makes you feel bad about yourself or lessens you in your own sight. Thinking good things, expecting good things, envisioning good things is no harder than doing the opposite with the only exception being breaking out of the things you have habitually practiced. It’s all right there for you folks if you will only take heed and do it… Clean up your mental environment!

Just some good thoughts…

 

Advertisements

Have Things Gotten Bitter Between You? (Relationships with Sugar Added)


Relationships are often complicated because people are complicated. When a longterm relationship begins to dissolve, it’s not usually due to a big mistakes made or some epic past failure, but rather in response to a multitude of minor slights adding, multiplying and blending into one large, bitter whole! Relationships fail due to words not said, important things not remembered, genuine care and concern not demonstrated. It breaks up and splinters first in the mind, then in the heart from too many missed opportunities to communicate love. And despite all of its associated complexity, can be repaired quickly by adding a little sugar.

The problem with us humans is that we tend to hold on to the negatives and easily forget the positives. How many people still rehearse the cruel words spoken to them by their partner during a big fight from five years ago? How easy it is to compile a list of a spouse’s failings, then read those failings into future scenarios that soon become present? How many of you have simply made up your mind about who your significant other is and as such offer zero possibilities for a new way in a new day? Your boyfriend, your girlfriend has little chance to demonstrate proper behavior while being chained by you to the mistakes of their past.

Understanding relationships is understanding how each of us grow and evolve. People can and do change even after they may have shown you who they are. The point being that who they are isn’t always defined by who they were. Priorities change. Desires change. Happiness and contentment are based on varying stages of life. Change is good unless it is met with a refusal to see the person through a different lens. Maybe your ex-husband is so happy with his new wife because he finally was afforded the opportunity to be someone else. Maybe you needed to get away from your ex-husband so you could be someone else. Wherever you are or whatever you may be facing, you must have some capability to modify your thinking; to get out of your rut; to reframe your expectations.

I think if you are honest, you have to recognize that relationships require commitment on both parts. I’m not referring to your decision to commit yourself to the relationship, but rather your decision to commit yourself to stop drawing negative conclusions. You have to change your own mind, your own beliefs, your own long-held preconceived notions. You have to cease from being mired in perpetual negative expectations. No matter your justifications, your righteous rights, your standing up for yourself and your other stories you’ve made up to justify your shitty approach, you have to flip the script. You have to realign your “self-defense” mentality to one of alignment and loving mutual respect. You cannot make someone else be something else, but you can damn sure make yourself be something or someone else.

In order for a relationship to thrive there has to be some element of love involved and love is best characterized by sweetness. To think that sweetness is somehow weak or pitiful or acknowledging inferiority is to be deluded in regard to the essence of human relationships. Now I recognize that people have hurt you and maybe done and said all manner of terrible things to you, but that doesn’t negate your ability to be kind; to be tender; to be sweet. The alternative is simply to keep living and reliving the same nightmare over and over and over again. Your escape isn’t in finding the perfect guy or the ideal woman, but rather in relocating your heart; the one you had before the damage occurred. The real you wants to give love and receive love no matter how far down you got knocked. It seems risky but in reality there is no risk because love never fails!

Real love; true love; abiding love requires a new beginning, a fresh start. Just as you forgive yourself for your own absurdities and foolishness, you have to be willing to offer your love interest the same privileges. You have to learn to make your evaluations and draw your conclusions based on today in the moment called now. Today is always a new day and carries with it unlimited new beginnings. Sure stuff is going to happen that drags you back to yesterday, but in like fashion you pull your own self back to today. You treat your partner like someone you love in spite of yourself. Just as a soft answer turns away wrath, a soft approach can remedy a whole world of failings. If your love is always based on proper behaviors and the right words you are setting yourself up for a misery that cannot be overcome.

Decide right now to be that warm, loving person you know you really are already. Stop with your defensive approach, your self preservation, ever hedging just in case.  End your failure planning and plan to succeed. In spite of what is going on and what you are experiencing, be sweet; so lovingly, genuinely sweet. In doing so you will find that sweetness and kindness are irresistible and almost impossible to slight. You will find yourself on the high road, unshaken and unaltered in your thinking. You will find yourself living love and giving love from which there is never any need to retreat. You will be loving people how God loves you, unconditionally and without a change of heart.

No matter how bitter or jaundiced you may have become towards him or her, know that there is something you can do. Don’t go to the counselor with an expectation of confirmation for the things you have seen for years, but instead with an open heart regarding what you can do with you to effect a change. Maybe, just maybe it’s you! And if it’s not you, you still have the solemn responsibility to guard and nurture your own heart which is never accomplished in anger, fighting and bitterness of soul! Oh my friends choose sweetness! Add some sugar and see how much better it all tastes!

Just some good thoughts…

 

How to Escape from Yourself…


Life has many ironies which God seems to have thrown in for good measure, as if to say things aren’t always what they look like. Ironically, sometimes the thing you need most to do in order to alleviate your present dilemma appears to be the exact opposite of what “you” think you should do. Today the world seems consumed with this notion of self and a myriad of things you need to do to best care for yourself. But, what if many of those suggestions are based in error? What if your solution for your problem isn’t at all what you thought it was? What if your best efforts to feel better ( and let’s face it, a lot of what we do or try to figure out is in an effort to feel better) are unsuccessful because the starting premise is wrong? Error only works when you are unable to see it for what it is…

We all want to be happy. We all want to feel good. We all are aware that life is filled with challenges and we all understand that every day isn’t necessarily going to be a blissful experience because of those challenges. But, we also all know what life is like when we feel good and for that we are forever on a quest to feel good. When our mind feels out of sorts; when we feel agitated or troubled; when our experience feels boring or lacking fulfillment, we know that also. We accurately perceive when our energy is down; when our excitement is diminished; when our enthusiasm is missing and in our desperation we turn inwards. Our mission to feel good drives us further and further into ourselves, searching ardently for that thief, that hindrance, that devious bastard keeping us from our pure happiness. “Maybe it’s because of how I have been acting lately. Maybe it’s my diet. Maybe I’m doing something wrong. Maybe it’s my wife or my husband or my job or my family or my…….” Whatever we think it might be and however it affects us, the end result is the same in that our focus and attention is driven and pressed and steered deeper and deeper into ourselves…

It has been said that the deeper you look at the things God has created, the more perfect they become (think snowflakes, leaves, granules of salt, to name a few). Conversely, the more deeply you inspect things that man has made, the more their errors and imperfections become evident. Similarly, the more you focus (or more accurately are driven to focus) on yourself, the more miserable you will become. Oh sure, you think looking inward will lead you to some divine enlightenment you have heretofore been missing. You believe buried somewhere in your subconscious mind is a temple of knowledge awaiting your arrival. But, sadly, you are wrong. All you will find, if you must persist, is more and more unhappiness and the distinct absence of what you have been searching for so diligently!

Your problem isn’t how you feel, though Lord knows it seems like it. Your problem is one of focus or where you are focusing your attention. If I may say it bluntly, you are inspecting your own imperfection and expecting perfection. You are considering your own weakness in an effort to find strength. You are searching for human solutions to spiritual problems and by spiritual problems I mean the real source of your difficulties. As odd as it may seem to you, your challenges are being engendered by something outside of yourself. And that same damnable force behind your troubles is the same one pushing you inward, deeper and deeper inward for a solution that doesn’t exist within yourself. Your efforts are futile, no matter how well intended they may be. The answer isn’t to look within, but rather to look without.

When you finally figure this out, you will begin to see that you were designed to seek outside of yourself for help. Your focus is supposed to be on God from which all good feelings like joy and peace and love, freely flow. In essence you just give all of your human bullshit to God and leave it with Him. You have to get outside of yourself. You have to escape from yourself and all of your associated baggage. You must stop putting yourself and how you feel at any given moment ahead of everything else in life. It’s not self-care, it’s self-sabotage! It’s a deception of gargantuan proportions. The world’s remedies consisting of focusing on yourself and your happiness and your feelings and your problems don’t lead you out of darkness but instead to more and more darkness. Happiness comes back with a quickness as you move the focus away from yourself! True happiness comes when you walk in the light!

If you’ve been around long enough you know that when you stop moving forward in life and start slowing down and looking around you or within you, you are going to find more and more of that which troubles you. You will discern more and more darkness and more and more reasons to be distressed. Stop doing that! Get up mentally and move ahead. Lay your troubles on God and thank Him for helping you discover what has gone south on you. Ask Him to make it clear again and to restore your soul to that grand place you like to dwell in. It is that simple…

When you find yourself unhappy, disturbed, perplexed or confused, don’t look within, look without. Don’t spend another millisecond muddling through the heaviness. Unload it all as you were intended to do and change your subject of focus. Your answers are there, your happiness is there, your enthusiasm and vitality for living are there, waiting for you to find them again. Don’t look within, look without! Your happiness depends upon you escaping from yourself!

Just some good thoughts…

 

Do What Feels Good…


Before you get started down the wrong path, this isn’t some appeal to your hedonistic tendencies, wish as you may. Nor is this some modern day philosophy that promises you pleasure in spite of future pain. Instead this about honoring your feelings for their true purpose, to lead you to something better. This about de-numbing yourself from the grips of societal pressures and expectations. It’s about recognizing when you feel good and wholeheartedly pursuing it rather than falling back to the circumstances that cause you to feel bad. If you have become weary of the see-saw; of the ups then the downs; of the heights then the valleys , this post is for you!

Carefully constructed and intertwined with your mind are your feelings. God has designed for certain necessities to feel good to encourage their continuance and certain behaviors to cause pain demanding their termination. And as simple as it may seem, the world works feverishly to get you embroiled in certain patterns guaranteed to defeat you. Then, in the final analysis, there you sit like the alcoholic or drug abuser, buried and consumed by the very things that promised you liberty. You had many chances to escape, but in your callousness, brought about by your error, you failed to be sensitive to your feelings any longer.

Life for humankind has one basic essence and that foundational essence is control. Learning to control yourself is a class you cannot skip. Oh you can spend a lot of time floundering around in the misty flats, but life will instruct you otherwise if you are still willing to hear. Everything you fail to control will eventually control you. Every “one too many” carries with it a penalty from which it is hard to escape. That which you refuse to control causes you to feel bad just as everything you can control and do control causes you to feel good. A successful life isn’t found in large batches, but is found in the multitude of little handfuls. It’s not the critical decisions requiring your utmost concentration and effort that make or break you, but is instead the seemingly minor decisions that confront you every day!

If you play it correctly, you soon learn there is a rhythm and a flow to life. The secret isn’t to fight and argue in your rebellion, but to acquiesce and adapt. It all falls subservient to one important question. What is it that you need to do next? What activity or behavior does the present situation demand? What thing should you do that will make you feel good about yourself? Do you need to clean the place up? Is there some nagging, aggravating, broken thing you know you need to fix? Is there some unresolved situation or conversation you know you need to have that you have been avoiding? Have you let yourself go in terms of your health or your finances or your creativity or your happiness? Have you settled in to a life of mediocrity? Whatever it is, there it sits like a gigantic boulder impending your path and there you sit choosing to avoid it. The answer to the question of what you need to do next is painfully obvious to you and you my friend, already know what it is!

The search to feel good is the supreme factor in finally becoming happy. Happiness doesn’t come or for that matter last until you begin to make the right choices. When you stumble upon a behavior or activity that leaves you feeling good about yourself, that is an action to pursue. If the sight of yourself in the mirror causes you to flinch, there is something you can do about it. Like my barber said recently, “I control what I eat so I can like myself naked!” (smile) You can substitute that phrase with anything that helps you like yourself! Self-esteem is only found when you do things that lead to self respect. Self-loathing or self-hate come about only by a multiplicity of skipped or prolonged good choices. Take control of anything you can control and see for yourself how wonderful it feels.

Moderation in your life sees to it that you don’t get too high and that you don’t go too low, but there’s lots of space in-between. There is a whole world of joy in-between. Sure you will have times when you chased too much of a good thing. But not to worry, as that will always be very evident to you. Consequently, you will have periods of life where you foolishly sought after the wrong things, and they too will not fail to reveal themselves to you. The same moderation you employ in your behaviors is also required in the way that you think about yourself. Give yourself a break and embrace your new days. It is just as morally wrong for you to beat yourself for some past bad behavior as it was to perform the wrong behavior in the first place. Moderation is the key!

Don’t complicate things unnecessarily! As my Peloton inspiration often says, “It’s not that deep!” Your requirement isn’t to live your whole life in the next moment, but to live your “right now” life in the next moment. Do what in your heart you know you need to do now, next. Stop avoiding your life or waiting for some magical circumstance to make it all nice again like when you were a kid. That ship has already sailed. But like that kid you so dearly miss did, live your life in the moment called now! Do the next thing whatever it is.

I often marvel that the highroad with God isn’t found in complexity and complication, but is found in simplicity; in the many todays that eventually make up our best tomorrows. Grab your life by the balls and control it. Get back on top of whatever you are no longer on top of… You won’t master it by tomorrow, but you will be on the right track, feeling good and doing good. My brothers and sisters, do what feels good!

Just some good thoughts…

The Love Factor…


There is one thing the whole world needs and there is one thing the whole world seeks and that is love. Love is the unifying power of the universe. Love is the answer to every heartfelt question. Love is an unstoppable force. Love is the reason and motive for every human life. Love never fails and God is love. When your life feels off-track or unfulfilled or empty the cause is always a lack of that love. In order to live a real life you need much, much love. You need to employ the love factor!

Life absent love is not a real life. Days spent earning and churning to succeed and get ahead; to outwork and outproduce; to lead the pack; to be the top dog, when lacking love as the motive, end only in a material gratification amidst an empty soul. Rewards gained through arduous effort and toil without love behind them leave a man desolate and unfulfilled. The ambitious drive for success is not wrong, but becomes so in the heart and life of the man without love as the only alternative to love is fear. Fear motivation, though powerful, cannot help but produce more of the same.

People today exist in a world that repudiates love. Love is somehow viewed as soft or weak. Love is considered too vulnerable and is reserved only for the closest of family and friends. Love freely given seems to come with a risk, the risk of possible rejection, ridicule or shame. In order to properly insulate your tender heart you think it plausible to armor your heart with hardness, a tough exterior impenetrable to outside jabs and assaults. You wrongly conclude that a hardened heart cannot be reached and in so doing close yourself off to life’s greatest reality. In your hardness and calloused response you fail to recognize the true sensitivity of life and in no longer feeling, miss everything. On your deathbed all that will matter to you is the people that you love and the people that love you. Your life begins and ends in love.

God in His basic essence is love and accordingly, if you lack love, is the sole thing missing from your life. You don’t need more relationships, you need ONE relationship from which ALL relationships take shape and blossom! Your relationship with Him is not one of faultfinding and bondage under the hand of the moral police, but instead one of unfathomable love, unlimited forgiveness and unending, unearned, divine favor allowing you to at last prosper and thrive! God is the life you once dared to imagine unfolding in infinite variety and blessedness. God is love without conditions. God is tender and kind and able to warm your soul, demonstrating in your life a complete and unquenchable restoration. God loves you first so you can love Him next, ending in your love being extended to the world.

Life on Earth has not gone south because of poor presidents or liberal agendas or the lack of a more simple time. The world has gone astray because of the victory of fear over love. The more you allow the world to make you afraid and conclude there is no solution, the more you help perpetuate the same. You remain powerless to shape the course of the world, but your true power resides in your decision to love. Every deliverance from bondage, every healing, every setting a captive free was done so in love.  In fact, every good thing you ever did, every lasting impact, every difference you made, only did so because of your love. Love never fails and is the antithesis and antidote to fear. Love properly exercised and freely given brightens the hearts of men and adds light to a world engulfed in darkness.

The love factor is an unstoppable force. But, to have a true imprint in the hearts of men, must be initiated and given by you. Love the unloveable. Offer people kindness. Be that sweet soul for people. Decide to care about them and be the one among a thousand that helped them. Don’t give them all your money, give them all your heart! Don’t concern yourself with what the world says. Concern yourself with what God says and in so doing set people free. People don’t need unlimited riches, they need the right words at the right time from a heart of love; from your heart of love. Love has no complexity in it, no wrong motive, no pretense. Love not to be known as a lover, but because you already are…

Living love, working your love factor, you will find that life begins to take on a glow that encourages and refreshes your heart. Things begin to settle down on the inside. Peace will reign where anxiety once ruled. Your concerns will be that of others and you will finally be able to let go of almighty self. And God working in you as the ultimate source of love, will ensure that everything you need will be there before you can even ask for it. Odd as it seems, that is the true design, the Master’s ultimate plan!

Are you unhappy, unfulfilled and empty? Does it all seem so futile and pointless? If so, it does so because your heart has been hardened and the softening is found in love. Get yourself directly to the source. Talk to God and tell Him how you feel. Open your heart to Him. Believe that He is and see if He will not reward and bless your decision. Everything you ever wanted to experience in life is found in love; in God who is love! Don’t be afraid anymore. Use the love factor! Choose love!

I love you.

Just some good thoughts…