SITTING ON A BENCH WITH JESUS

Years ago I used to ponder why the world was as it is. Why, if there is a supreme being, is the world filled with hate, jealousy, racism and the like? Why did I find a lot of those things in my life as well? It was on one of my darkest days in which I finally received the answer. I wasn’t sitting on a park bench like the man in the picture above. I was in a library trying to find a book that would give me some advice on turning my life around. Some books were way to metaphysical for me at the time. Some were very complex and involved psychological phrases you would need a degree to decipher. While getting frustrated at the lack of a book for the average Joe to turn their life around, a voice in my head spoke to me. “If you can’t find one, write one.” From that day forward I have continued to find tools to help the average individual live a more positive and rewarding life.

What led me to this dark and dreary day in the life of Neil was a lot of circumstances. Professional, personal and my surroundings. By surroundings I mean things such as some of the music I was hearing, shows on television I saw, what I read in the newspaper and what I witnessed people doing to each other around me. Again, I began to wonder how the spiritual powers that be would allow such things.

The answer to that question was very similar to the first question I asked, except this one was a riddle of sorts. (yes, even my own head doesn’t always give me a straight answer) “How do you change a dark room?” This may sound foolish until you look at it in the terms of the world as a whole. If you want to lighten up a dark room you do not work on ‘removing the darkness’ you simply add light. If your glass is half-full you do not try to remove the air you just add more water, or rum, or iced coffee, but I digress. If we all remained focused on removing the negativity from the world we would create a vacuum that could very well be filled with…well…more negative things. The only way to decrease the negativity in the world is to add more positivity and love.

Another shocking revelation is that either one of these situations, love or hate, mankind does to itself. We make the choices. If we sit back and do nothing to counter the troubles we see in the world we are allowing it to happen. If you see someone hungry give them food. If you still watch the news and hear about some group being discriminated against, do something to make someone feel more loved and accepted. As the saying goes, “God helps them who helps themselves.” This is not just true for one person, but for all of us everywhere and the world as a whole.

WE ARE ALL VERY TIRED

One thing that I think we can all agree we are growing weary of is what seems to be the growing rate of violent crime in our world today. As I write this there are reports from the great state of Maryland of a shooting at a newspaper office where 5 people were killed and others were injured. It seems every night you turn on the news, or every morning you pick up the newspaper you read about senseless violence where someone has lost their life. Is this a result of better technology in communicating these crimes? Is it the result of the internet making this a smaller world? Are we becoming less tolerant? Are we becoming desensitized to violence and death due to media and video games? I imagine the answer is probably a little of all the above.

With all of the consumption of negativity you can find yourself feeling quite down. With more people reading more stories of violence we could quickly find ourselves living in a world of people depressed and losing hope. It is my belief that this lack of hope and barrage of negative news can push people who are on the edge to slip into a world of violence.

What is the solution? Are we to bury our heads in the sand and pretend all of this is not happening? The answer is both yes and no. Certainly you need to be aware of your world and what is transpiring, but you do not need to be inundated with it. You must ask yourself if reading every article on every mass shooting will do anything to enhance your life? What it will do is drain your spirit. This is why this and many other sites advocate limiting or better yet eliminating consumption of nightly news. There are apps for weather, sports or anything else you may need to know.

Is there something that we can do that is proactive? The simplest thing we can do is also one of the most powerful and also one of the most difficult. Do not let the constant feeding of negativity get us down. Easier said than done, but it can happen. When I hear of stories of great tragedy in the news I always look for the helpers. A secret I learned from Mr. Rogers. Eventually and in some way tragedy has a way of bringing the best out of some people and bringing people together. If you can’t find a helper, or even if you can, focus on being one.

When I hear of violence or some other tragic news story I know there is even more importance in what I do. The world needs more of a balance of positive to the negative. This was the very reason I began what I do. When I hear of violence in the world I use it as a stark reminder I have far more work to do, and urgent motivation to reach more souls. Victims and their families and friends are not the only people who need encouragement. Those committing the crimes may feel there is no hope. If only they knew they were people who care, even if they are half a world away.

This is where you come in. My words can’t reach everyone. Especially Iceland and Greenland who seem to be two countries I just cannot reach. What we need to do is all work on becoming lights to the world. Whether it is meeting your neighbors as discussed in last week’s post, sharing this blog or just encouraging someone who needs it. Let us all remember it is only light that can remove the darkness.

WHO? WHAT? WHERE? WHY?

“It matters not who you love, where you love, why you love, when you love, or how you love, it matters only that you love”

-John Lennon

A few months ago I had written about a class reunion I attended. I’ll spare all my friends and myself the year for purposes of imagining I am still young. After that a group of us wished to continue to get together. I invited a few people and one in particular was greeted with much chagrin. “Why did you ask him along? He is always such a jerk to everyone?” was pretty much the general consensus. I admit this gent was not the most enduring fellow and I could understand why people may feel as they do. Then I began to think, should we only show love and kindness to those whom we feel have earned it? True a seed grows the best in fertile soil, but is a garden not most appreciated in the city? I once heard a saying that I am about to totally screw up but the idea went something like this “If you see someone without a smile, give them one of yours they need it more than you do” In an earlier post I had written about two of my friends Kim and Stephanie who do so much for others I am often compelled to let them know that they are truly angels without wings. They usually accept these compliments as well as the ones they receive from others with modesty and grace befitting the wonderful people they are. Their kindness comes naturally and so quite often is taken for granted, so I find it important to stop and appreciate it. I know my life would be a lot less without them in it. Still I have a few people on the opposite end of the spectrum. They do not seem to do much for others, or show much concern for anything that does not serve them. As a general rule I do not have many of these people in my life, but I have learned a new an interesting thing about these people. Sometimes they have some of the greatest response to compliments out of anyone. Just the other day I was having breakfast with one of these people and had mentioned I was really happy to hear of a nice thing he had done for a mutual friend of ours. Just the mere act of being recognized as a kind person seemed to improve his disposition and foster a new sort of altruistic side of him as soon I discovered he had done the same favor for 3 other of our friends. My point is this, we all have a wide array of different people in our lives. Some kind and deserving of our love, some not so much and several in between. Show them all a little love. The ones who deserve it are often taken for granted for all the amazing things they do and a little appreciation and love will let them know it makes a difference and will make it easier to continue being the people who bring so much to our lives. Those who seem not to be deserving of any love, perhaps just a little will soften their hearts and bring the biggest change. So like the famous singer of the Beatles said “It matters only that you love” I encourage you to pick at least one person from each group this weekend and show them a little love. You always benefit by brining more love into the world.

THEY JUST DO NOT UNDERSTAND

“When I was 5 years old, my mother always told me that happiness was the key to life.  When I went to school they asked me what I wanted to be when I grew up.  I wrote down ‘happy’.  They told me I didn’t understand the assignment, and I told them they didn’t understand life” – John Lennon

This quote is a perfect example of how we can lose focus on what is truly important as we grow older.  First we want independence, then we want a job, perhaps then a better job.  We want a smart good-looking spouse, a nice car, a great house in a wonderful neighborhood.  Even those who have more altruistic goals.  They want to save the whales, save the planet, save souls, save money by using coupons and shopping wisely.  All of these ‘goals’ have the same end to them.  Why would you want the house, the beautiful spouse, and the fancy car?  Why would you want to help starving people a million miles away that you may never meet?  While all of these goals are worthwhile, some more than others, we do them all for one real reason.  It goes by many disguises, security, pride, contentment.  What all those feelings amount to, they make us happy.  The famous Beatles singer had it right.  Those of us who are more worried about the current ‘assignment’ don’t really understand life.  Learn to be happy while going after that beautiful spouse.  Feel joy in the process of helping endangered species.  If we can master the feelings without the material support than we shall truly lead a life of joy.  So learn to find the happiness in the journey my friends and you will have more to celebrate when you reach the destination.