Running in packs sure can have its advantages. Just ask wolves. Their cooperative hunting strategies have allowed them to flourish and be more successful. They same can be said for those of us working on team projects. It certainly can come in handy in our spiritual faith. When we feel that faith faltering, it can be our ‘pack’ that can lift us up. How about our friends and family? That can be an amazing pack! They can check on us and have us feeling loved and cared about. They can also be a great source to lean on when we are down.
Where packs can turn from an asset to a detriment, is when we allow the pack to do our thinking for us. This seems especially true in both politics and faith. As we described earlier, the latter can help us a great deal. I am not sure about the former, but I digress. I have seen, in my own family, people leave their own family behind for no other reason than their faith was different. It is important to be able to step back from the pack, on occasion, and think for ourselves. If your pack is asking you to believe, and act in a certain way, it is ok to question that way. It does not make you a ‘bad’ member of the pack. In fact, you could be the one to lead the pack in an entirely different direction. You can still make good use of the pack, and be able to think and act on your own.
It can certainly be tempting to allow our thoughts and actions to be influenced by the pack. It is something we must stand guard against. If your pack infers, or outright says, that people of a certain group should be avoided, or worse looked down upon, because they are different, ask yourself if that is what you truly believe. In a word that seems to be growing more divided by the day, it is our pack of humanity that must learn to work together. Just like the wolves, we will survive and be more successful if we do.
Daily we are greeted with messages of division. Some days they seem to be downright violent in their nature. It is messages of extremes delivered by one side or another. It gives us three very false impressions. The first is that you have to choose “One side or the other” You can’t be a little of this, or a little of that. With just a few seconds of logical thought, we can realize this is not true. In today’s world, which thanks to technology is growing more mixed and smaller than ever, people are a mix of a whole bunch of different things.
That brings us to the second false claim these stories and groups are putting out there. That most people belong to one of these “2 sides”. It is if people are made to feel guilty for having feelings that can understand and see and issue from both points of view. Here is a news flash for some of you – you can agree with parts of one side of and issue and parts of another side. In fact, if you do, that is a sign of open-mindedness and critical thinking. Seldom, if ever, is an issue black and white. Despite what you hear, you do not have to be on one side of an issue or another. You can choose the space in between and not only understand, but give respect to both sides.
That brings us to the last bit of misinformation those in certain circles would like us to believe – that if you disagree with someone you have to hate them or at the very least view them as if they were the enemy. This is not only obviously untrue, but ask yourself what we stand to gain by thinking this way. By making enemies of those who could have been friends with just a little bit of compassion and understanding. Ask yourself another important question, who stands to benefit by us being divided and working against each other? It brings more stress into our lives and reduces the amount of people we can share with. So, who does benefit from us being divided?
From now on I challenge you to stop being a sheep and believing that we must remain divided. We are far more powerful when we work together. How can we accomplish this? I will give you a few examples and I would love to hear more from you. In something as simple as sports we can try this. If you meet up with friends who cheer for a different team than you do (yes this is actually allowed in life) If your team wins, be gracious enough to say “Your team played a good game.” Maybe even mention a few things that they did well and wish them better luck next time. This works a lot better than mocking them and gloating about how good your team is. If your team loses, remember it is just a game. Congratulate them on their teams victory. In that contest, they were obviously the better team. Keep in mind this is just a game. It should be a chance to gather together and not say mean or hurtful things. Once again, nobody wins in that scenario.
Politics is an area that people are really getting after each other lately. To me, this is one of the most foolish. Do you know who benefits when we label each other as “Crazy” or “Evil” because our politics differ? Those politicians that seek to push their agendas by dividing us. The problem is not that neighbor Bill voted for someone different than you and has a different view of the world. The problem is that instead of seeking a middle ground and a solution that will benefit all people, we are told we have to be divided and only one side can win. When we do this we lose. We lose friends, we lose a good amount of peace and joy in our lives. We may even have families torn apart. As a parent or teacher we would never tell children that they should call the other kids they disagree with nasty names, but that is exactly what grown adults in the political arena are doing. What do we teach children? That is ok to be different and that we all have to find ways to play nice together, This is a message that we should deliver to those in power.
Lastly, there is religion and faith. This is so important in the lives of many. Our faith can be what gets us through the toughest times. Yet, just like politicians, certain religious leaders would prefer we view those who differ in their form of worship as “The enemy” or “Sinners”. Turning people we love, or those that we see do a lot of compassionate and loving things for the world as ‘the bad guys’. In mind mind, this is nothing short of stupid. When I hear of someone who enjoys a ritual that is different than what I may do, this is what I say. “Oh, that’s cool.” It doesn’t mean my beliefs are wrong or that theirs are better or worse than mine. It is just that they have found a different way to deepen their faith which will ultimately make them a better person.
Don’t be a sheep and follow what certain members of the media and those in power are telling you. We do not have to be divided. Those who are different than us can still be right and so can we. Be a lion. Show what love and compassion can do. Show what working together we can make the world a far better place than working against each other. Realize that in your own life, love and compassion for those who differ than you can bring you more peace and less stress. Awaken the lion within you.
This site does not often touch on different spiritual beliefs. I believe that living an amazing life includes a spiritual aspect, but that aspect is a personal decision. As long as your path does not involve bringing harm to anyone else and includes becoming the best version of yourself it should not matter to me or to anyone else what that path is. Here is a great secret – the same holds true for the beliefs of others. There are some of us who feel that anyone who does not adhere to the exact same spiritual beliefs that we do is someone who is wrong or in the worst cases, an enemy. This creates not only undo stress, both in the party receiving the angst, but in the life of the people who carry these beliefs. Imagine going through life thinking everyone is wrong or your enemy? Very stressful. It also limits the opportunities for growth and collaboration. When you think someone is wrong on any level, it can be hard to include them as much, even in another level.
Today’s post is to remind you that people can be different without being wrong. Judgement drains a lot of energy and focus from our lives. On the contrary, acceptance and understanding can free up energy and create new and exciting opportunities for growth and collaboration. Accepting someone does not mean we agree with them or that we are even going to join them in their endeavors. If we focus on how we are alike instead of how we are different, we can do great things. It may be hard to both understand and accept someone who is different, but if we focus on the things we have in common it can do a lot to both bring us closer and to learn from each other. When I go out with my friends who are different faiths, they may dress different, eat different things and have different views, but they have many things in common.
The other day, I had lunch with two friends. One is Christian and one is Muslim. At one point, the topic turned to faith. I was interested to see how this might play out. They discussed their different ways of offering prayers and why they do what they do. They also came to the conclusion that they both do it for the same reason, to become more spiritually enlightened and to become closer to the God they follow. One said to the other, “Funny how a conversation can bring us so much understanding when according to the outside world we are supposed to hate each other.” They chuckled, as they had been friends for years. I thought of the sad truth of that statement. The media, politicians and even some religious leaders, keep our differences as talking points and what is most important. I think we can learn a great deal from each other if we only open our hearts and our minds.
One of the things that all spiritual paths have in common, that we can focus on today and share with each other, is the power of gratitude. All spiritual paths focus a great deal on being grateful. There are prayers of thanksgiving in any faith. I think beginning a practice of including one of those before we retire for the evening can work miracles in our lives. If we can also add being grateful for those who may be different than us, it can go a long way to opening our hearts and minds when we are awake. What is right for us, does not necessarily have to be right for everyone else. Last night, my mom, Margie and I were discussing our dream cars. Guess what? they were all different. None of us argued that the others should switch their car to ours. They liked their car for their reasons as we did for ours, and that was ok. We could listen unattached to why someone might like the car they did and even appreciate why without feeling as though they should change their minds and agree with us. Why can’t this be done with more personal things such as politics and religion? I do understand that there has been, and in some cases remains, persecution of individuals based on these categories. This is completely unacceptable. The truth is, this can only be changed by learning to accept, understand and love each other with open hearts and open minds.
Learning to accept and enjoy those who are different than us will not only create a more amazing life on the outside for all of us, it will create a more amazing life inside of our hearts. We will live life with a far greater peace of heart and mind than if we viewed everyone who is different as wrong or as our enemy. Let us all work on opening our hearts and minds and let us all end our day with a grateful heart. Not only for all that we have in our life, but for those who are different than us who can teach us so much and bring color and contrast to our world.
Prayer. No matter what your spiritual beliefs, prayer is usually a very important part of it. I recall as a little fellow I was taught to pray to God for what you wanted and needed. Almost as if the almighty were some kind of Santa Claus in the sky. As I grew a little older and found myself in high school, prayer showed up a little less regularly. It was usually the day before a big exam. One of those, “Please God let me pass English class so I can graduate.” sort of things.
It always seemed a little odd to me to approach the supreme being in such a begging type fashion. It wasn’t until I pursued my quest of spirituality outside the walls of the building of organized religion that I really came to understand prayer. One book I recall reading at a young age was The Power of Your Subconscious Mind by Dr. Joseph Murphy. I was always a student of science and often struggled with melding both science and religion. This book went a long way to helping that process. Inner dialogue, of which prayer is even though it is directed at a supreme power, utilizes the subconscious mind. If you are a spiritual sort, you must ask yourself why did the power that be give us such a mind?
Another thing that I have learned by being exposed to many different spiritual beliefs is that you should not pray to change others or the outside world. One, this is trying to project your will and beliefs on others, and that is just not nice. Instead, I focus on the one person I can change – me. Instead of praying others were more polite and considerate, I focus on becoming more compassionate and understanding myself. Instead of asking the Great Spirit to give me an easier life, I pray that I may have a stronger soul. When life becomes overwhelming I focus on finding the beauty and learning the lessons. A little divine intervention is often needed, and I feel is a fair thing to request in suplication.
This may sound odd to many of you, but one of the areas in which this pays the biggest dividends is in my romantic relationship. First of all, it is my opinion that the divine placed in my life a woman who is beautiful, creative and easy to love. In order to never lose that ‘honeymoon phase’ and let little annoyances grow over time, I pray to see the beauty in those too. If there is any area of our live that serves as a merciless mirror to see the parts of ourselves we may not be the most proud of, it is our intimate relationships. The person closest to us sees all sides of us at all different times. That is why I pray daily to be the best man I can be for the woman I love. There are also thoughts and prayers that I may never miss the beauty in all that she does. Whether that is her love of family and friends, her silly sense of humor or her spontaneity, I never want to miss the beauty she shows.
There are so many things partners can do that may be cute at first, but grow to really grind on us and begin to tear away at our love and passion. You may get annoyed at the many loud sounds arising from the person slumbering next to you, but that means you have them in your life. You may become frustrated when they fall asleep as soon as their head hits the pillow and you lay awake counting more sheep than exist in all of Ireland. That means they feel safe and comfortable enough around you. Your partner asks you to run to the store after a grueling day at work? They rely on you and you have a chance to do something to make their life easier.
Now we come to the most powerful prayer of all, that of thanksgiving. In this blog I have had countless posts on the power of gratitude. It can change your entire life quicker that anything else I know. There are many ways to develop an attitude of gratitude. You could start a gratitude journal, you can write what you are grateful for each day and why. You could create a vision board with pictures of everything you are grateful for. I like and personally recommend all of these items. That being said, one of the most powerful daily practices is to spend time each day offering up a prayer of thanksgiving for all that you have. This does not have to be anything overly religious or formal. Just make sure it is heartfelt. When you thank the divine power you believe in for what you have in life, magic happens. When you can become grateful and thankful for everything in life, or better yet for life itself, you will know peace.
This is a more spiritual post than I normally have, but I think realizing the power of prayer is important aspect of self-improvement. Do not treat the Divine as a Santa Claus in the sky. Instead use prayer to become the best version of yourself. Pray to develop an attitude of gratitude and be thankful for all that you have. Doing this will not only add to whatever faith you follow, but will bring you a great deal of inner peace.
In today’s world things can be very dark. It can seem that there is no good news to be had. We can struggle to find something to keep our spirits up. One way is to help others regain their smile. We discussed a little about how to do that in the last post. If you did not read it, it would be worth checking out. Many of us find ourselves without places to go or people to see. It can feel dark and alone.
One way in which we can put some more joy back into our day is to pursue our passion. I know many of us think we do not have time to pursue our passion. It is one of the most important things we can do for ourselves. Even if it is taking time to write a few words toward that book we have always wanted to write. It could be fun to try our hand at photography. Get out in nature and capture some of its beauty. Even researching a topic that we are interested in to learn more about it can bring us a sense of joy.
Another very positive step is to increase the depth of our relationships. If there is one thing we are all passionate about it is the relationships we have with others. Our friends would love to engage in some wonderful conversation with us. As I write this I am thinking of some of the friends that I have know the longest. One of the funniest things that popped into mind is that I do not know any of their favorite colors. Calling some of them just to let them know you were thinking of them can make a real difference. You can recall some of the fun memories you share and maybe plan some new adventures for when things return to normal.
There is, of course, the most emotionally strong relationship in our lives. That is the relationship we share with the person we love. Quarantine can be very hard on a relationship if you are not prepared for it. When we go from spending 12 hours with the one we love to spending 24 a lot can change. One way to assure that change is positive is to continue to learn about the person you love. Sure, you may know their favorite color, but what about their favorite smell? Do you know what their favorite memory of your love is? Planning adventures, be they everyday or intimate, with your partner can be one of the most enjoyable things to do. I am a big fan of the personality test books. You take a simple 10 to 20 question quiz and it reveals different aspects of your personality. Perhaps you can even learn more about yourself!
Lastly, this is a great time to deepen your spiritual relationships. We all too often focus on the material aspects of life. Social obligations can force us to put our spiritual needs on the back burner. When we are feeling down, it is our faith and our feeling of spiritual connection that can keep us going. Perhaps reading the spiritual texts that our faith has. There are many inspirational journals and workbooks to help us along the way. Even spending time meditating our our spiritual beliefs can make a big difference. Do not really have any beliefs? Now may be a good time to explore different schools of thought and see what might be right for you. Find what it is that brings you inner peace, let that be your sanctuary.
Today we celebrate the life of Martin Luther King Jr. A man who pushed for all people to unite. A great man who wanted no man to be above another, who wanted all men to be equal. These are standards most of us can certainly get behind. On a personal level, the only thing that matters to me is how someone treats me and others. It matters little what race, religion or other group of society you belong to.
In an era where division is around every corner, the lessons this man gave his life to establish are more important than ever. There are those who seek to divide us and convince us that it is impossible for the world to unite. I refuse to believe that. Do not listen to the words of division on hate no matter whose mouth they come out of.
There are those who will try to convince you that one group is better than another. Do not believe that. There are others who will try to convince you they should get special based on who they are. Do not believe that. All people should be treated equal. When we treat each other differently based on any quality we decide, it causes resentment and breeds hate.
Let us use the day we honor this great man to reaffirm our commitment to treat everyone the same. Respect, freedom, and the ability to be who we are is not only something we all desire, but something we all deserve. Turn a blind eye to our differences and a deaf ear to words of hate. Instead, let us focus on what brings us together. Our desire to be loved, our yearning to be understood and to be accepted in our communities.
Although our law makers and leaders can put into place rules and laws to assist us in this endeavor, the burden falls on the hearts, minds and actions of each one of us. Not only does that include major events such as standing together when one of us is attacked, but our daily interactions with each other. It is heart-warming to see people come together to protest unfair treatment of groups they are not even affiliated with or join a prayer vigil for the loss of life halfway around the globe. It is just as heart-warming to see people of different faiths enjoying a meal or a cup of coffee together. It is also great to see those in love not allowing the fact they come from different races stop them. Seeing both of their families support that love can make all of the difference.
Today, let us look for ways in which we can unite as one. Let us take a break from promoting our own race, our own religion and our own group and let us find common ground with others. That could be discovering other cultures through cusine. It could involve picking up a book to learn about different spiritual beliefs. Maybe a conversation with someone who has a different outlook than you. Maybe just working on ourselves to overcome any judgemental believes we hold.
I encourage you to share any ideas you may have to bring all of us together working toward a better future for everyone.
Just as 3+6=9, so does 5+4=9. This is a perfect point to represent the fact that there is more than one way to do things. In a world where debates on politics, religion and even sports can turn violent, this is a very good point to remember.
When you engage in spiritual worship, remember that someone may be seeking to develop their own spiritual nature but doing so in a completely different manner. This does not make their way of doing so wrong, and more than it makes your way wrong. It is two completely different paths to spiritual enlightenment.
In the political climate, there are always a multitude of different opinions. There are different ways to approach the economy, social issues and even conflict. In the event that you encounter someone with a different view on these issues, (highly likely since we live on a planet of 7 billion people) learn to be content expressing your view and understanding they may hold a different view. I really don’t think I have to go into why violence should not happen due to a difference in opinions on sports, do I?
My point is this, what may work for one does not always work for another. If I am stressed, for example, I work out. It is as if I am literally sweating out the stress. Margie, on the other hand, can feel stressed just thinking about working out. She prefers to shop when stressed. The thought of fighting crowds in stores brings me to a stressed state. Both my 3+6 and her 5+4 equal 9. For me to say “Shopping doesn’t help you to not be stressed. It makes you more stressed!” Would be trying to impose my truth on her.
We can have our own opinions and still respect those that differ from us. I encourage you to explore this thinking in the next few days. It will not only reduce the stress in your own life, it is sure to improve your relationships with those around you.
Have you ever tried teaching someone something you know how to do rather well? It can be frustrating and take a great deal of patience. The other evening I had the great pleasure of sharing coffee and conversation with my friend Nick. As so often happens when the two of us get together the conversation turned to personal development and growth. I had to confess something to him and I am going to share it with you now in hopes it may help a lot of you. One of the greatest struggles we can endure is maintaining a sense of compassion and understanding of our fellow humans we share this planet with. Some of us can refer to this as judging others. If you were to ask me if I were a judgemental person, for the most part I would have to say ‘no’. I have friends that I care deeply for that belong to many different races, religions and other such groups. I really understand that we never know what happens behind the scenes or what someone’s story may entail. One of the areas that does tend to upset me is those who are not evolved emotionally and spiritually. Those who tend to judge others or carry a rather negative attitude into life. I guess that is because the information is available and it is free. Books can be had at any library. Videos are a click away on YouTube and Google can tell you anything you need to know from the Law of Attraction to enlightenment. Still, there are those who are even ignorant to these facts. Hopefully, the fact that you are reading this blog signifies that you do not fit into the afore mentioned category. There are even those who are aware of personal development and know they, and their life, could be so much more but choose not to pursue that. I even heard someone brag once about how they avoided making more of their life. To me this is very hard to understand. It is my desire to help everyone create more joy, passion and success in their lives. When I find someone who displays an ignorance for universal laws or an obvious lack of emotional maturity it is both frustrating and a seeming cry for help. It is my struggle to understand and also respect the fact that they might not be intrested in or desire improving their lot in life. This is a struggle I face whenever I try to reach someone who may not have had the years of experience in the field of personal development I have. It must be the same for those who have so many more when they are teaching me. We all learn at a different pace and learn different things. Share all the good you can, but do so with patience and compassion. If you become frustrated with spiritual ignorance of those around you, feel free to refer to this quote.
Here is some information that will save you a lot of stress and a lot of lost time with the one you love. When it comes to any relationships, but more so in intimate relationships.
Think together and do not think alike. Sometimes differences in opinions, styles and manner of accomplishing goals can feel like obstacles just screaming to be solved. “If only I could get them to do things my way.” This can crop up in both the little and the big things. I can tell you this, the time you spend trying to ‘correct’ or change your partners behavior is wasted time.
Margie and I can go through periods where is seems like we disagree on everything from the percentage of chance there is a dead body in the dumpster to how criminal it is to use a tortilla without warming it up. If we spent all of our time trying to have the other do things the way we do them we would miss out on time that could be spent watching a movie, walking in the park or many more activities that will bring us joy.
How do you not let these little things crawl under your skin? I have found several ways. One, understand that is exactly what they are, little things. At the end of the day what difference will it make in your relationship if your spouse folds a towel different than you do? Does that change the person they are? If it does for you there may be other issues that we need to look at.
Also, this is a great opportunity to practice several things that can help with the longevity of a relationship. What things am I talking about? How about acceptance? Being able to accept that the person sitting across from you can somehow exist without the aid of a caffeinated beverage and that is ok. It is also a chance to practice patience. Do they clean things in a way you know they shouldn’t be done? Maybe it is time to focus on what you have to be grateful for, like the fact they are cleaning at all.
How about communicating? We are going to discuss this in a little more detail in an upcoming post. Does your spouse not put the same importance on body language that you do? Perhaps they are more physical and you are more verbal? This is a chance to basically learn and teach a new language. When you talk to your spouse about what means love to you it is important to understand that may be different. Here is where being a great listener comes in. By discovering how you and your partner differ when it comes to expressing and receiving love, you can open a whole new level to love. Imagine if you try to force them to express love and feel love in a different way? That would be terribly unrewarding for both parties. When you understand the differences here you can better express love to your partner and realize when they are trying to express it to you. Thus, you increase the total amount of love in the relationship.
This works fine for the little things, but what about the big things? Spiritual beliefs say? Remember differences help us expand our way of thinking. As long as the values are not radically different it is certainly ok to have different approaches in this manner. Again, it provides us an opportunity to use compromise and to seek a deeper level of understanding for our partner. Having someone who approaches the world in an entirely different manner can offer you more insights than a narrow approach of the exact same way of thinking.
The more we understand our partner and how they differ from us, the greater we can love them. Whatever your goals in your relationship are, having two unique approaches will offer more wonderful discoveries along the way to accomplishing them. Imagine how much deeper your partner’s love for you would be if they saw you were trying to understand and appreciate the differences you share without trying to change them?
Here we are in the middle of the week. A time I like to pause and ponder. The quote in the picture above is great to meditate on. In all of our relationships it is important to understand the different perspectives. This can be extremely hard to do, especially when that perspective contains a strong emotional attachment. That is why topics such as money, sex, politics and religion are best avoided being discussed by those of differing opinions. Sometimes it is not only helpful but necessary to have these discussions. Maybe your occupation is in one of the fields mentioned above? The same holds true if you are a parent talking to a child. It is especially important in intimate relationships where the more you understand your partner, the better your chances for success are. When I speak of these issues at some of my seminars or during coaching sessions one of the first questions I am asked is “How can I get my partner to agree with me?” or for the more enlightened, “How can I come to an agreement with my partner?” The answer to both of these questions is you do not have to. What the goal of such conversations should be is to come to a mutually understanding of each others perspectives and beliefs without judgment. When you do so, you can then consider the best way to proceed that includes actions that both accept and respect both sides. I cannot begin to convey the healthy growth that will happen in any relationship when you realize, “This person views the world differently than me and that’s ok.” You will be able to better predict how a person may act or react to a certain situation. It will help you with knowledge in many areas including, but not limited to, what makes them happy, what motivates them, what will upset them and what will make them feel loved and appreciated. You can see the importance of becoming someone who does not waste their time with disagreeing with a different perspective, but instead one who seeks to understand. When we happen to cross paths with someone who is not so enlightened (and why do these people seem to be some of the loudest and most opinionated?) we can either direct them to this blog or just calmly thank them for their opinion and move on. It will not serve them to explain that we have a different perspective and it certainly will not serve us. Be open to different perspectives. Just because you do not agree with them, do not let that stop you from using them to help you better understand and relate to others.