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Archive for October, 2009

Do you remember the 70’s aphorism what you see is what you get ? Many people still live by that. It seems to be the mantra of the objectivist. I have discovered that what I usually get, however, is what I think I see. For instance, if I really don’t like kids, but I have somehow wound up in the classroom, every child that I see in that room is a potential problem. If, on the other hand, I promise myself that I will not judge that child, I am much better equipped to recognize the potential problem, and it’s not usually the child. My personal rule for interacting with all humans is: separate the situation from the individual.

Years ago a neighbor of mine used to tease his wife’s dog. He would say terrible things to it and make fun of it, but in a sweet, pedantic tone of voice. The dog, not having English as a primary language, simply reacted to the context and wagged its little clueless tail. He would also sometimes say good things to it, but in a harsh, threatening voice. The dog would react by cringing in fear, or bristling in defiance. There is an implication for teaching here. I can deliver nearly any type of instruction to a student and as long as it is received clearly, in an understood context, and most importantly, sans attitude, I usually get the result I want.

On the other hand, if I see (or think I see) and consequently treat that student as a constant challenge, I do nothing but train myself to expect and subconsciously solicit the worst that child has to offer. Recognizing that my students and myself as well are spiritual beings, I make every effort not to damage the well-being of that spirit.

A bruised spirit has a way of coming back to haunt you.

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All of us have seen stepping-stones at one time or another. Sometimes they’re just decorative, other times they provide a real service. You usually see them where someone wants to provide access down a path without the intrusion of an out and out sidewalk.

A while back I came up with a list of  spiritual stepping stone that help me survive unpleasantness, most of it brought on by my own negative internal dialogues. When I think a negative thought, I immediately use one of these little exercises to get me past the rough spot and on to a more positive mind-set where I can actually find solutions. Remember: you can never feel bad enough to change things–only good enough.

Check out my article online at Associated Content. The link appears below.

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Five Mind Tricks to Help Stop Negativity
A description of five mental disciplines to help train yourself to stop being automatically pessimistic and negative. Article shows how to catch yourself being negative and pivot around to a more positive outlook.
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All Saints day is November 1st. The evening prior to that is also a sacred day, especially to trick-or-treaters. Halloween begins that short slide toward the end of the year (and the beginning of a new one) we’ve all come to countdown to. On the kid calendar, Halloween is first, followed by Thanksgiving, and culminating in Christmas. These days comprise a veritable trinity of happiness worth anticipating and celebrating. Im sure if medical science could give us all blood tests, and EEG’s or PET scans, one could easily show a steady increase in the “happiness enzymes” (if there is such a thing!) in our systems.

In a previous article I wrote about songs with messages subtly linked with topics like positive thinking, law of attraction, optimism, etc. Some are outright admonitions to “think of Christmas, think of snow…” because those thoughts raise us to another level of feeling good. It is from this higher plane that we can launch our desires and intentions. I believe I get much more mileage from a bright outlook than from a gloomy one. As I have stated before, use a negative thought always and only as a springboard toward a positive thought–never as an anchor to hold you down!

Anytime I need to keep up my momentum, I find a “joy shot” in the form of an image in my mind of a favorite place, a reminder (like a picture) of someone special, or even a sound or song.  That helps me stay on track and not get bogged down in hopeless minutia. Everyday I  remind myself and my students that I can never feel bad enough to change anything…

–only good enough.

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One of my favorite lines in any movie is from The Incredibles. After a heated discussion with her son Dash, Elastigirl reassures him that “Everyone’s special,” to which he responds mumbling “Then no one is.”  The father as well complains that his son’s fourth grade “graduation” is just another contrived event to “celebrate mediocrity.” Sounds like a story by Ayn Rand.

Now try this with me: visualize in your mind a large crowd on an immense field of grass. You are operating a movie camera on a boom and you are slowly moving up and back, creating an ever-increasing field of view. Eventually you are so far and high that you cannot distinguish faces in the crowd. Now snap that picture and print it out on a huge piece of photo stock. Lay this picture on a large table and look at it. With a marker, circle special groups of people and label them. For instance, circle one group and call them vegetarians. Circle another group and call them Presbyterians. Circle another group and call them _____________ (you name it.)

Pretty soon those groups are running into each other, overlapping one another, and the idea of being in a group becomes pretty meaningless. You see, even when we group individuals into significant collectives, they are only as significant as the effect they have on their world. Read the headlines tomorrow and someone else will be demanding recognition, seeking benefits, garnering publicity. And what is my knee-jerk reaction? Whoop-ie, another group.

You are only as effective as the difference you make. No one stands out in a crowd. If it is your calling to stand out, to make a difference; if you are truly special, then get out of the crowd. Get ahead, behind, or off to the side of it–it doesn’t matter, just get out.

Then encourage your students to do the same.

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“When he had said these things many turned away from following him.” I kind of feel that way. Some will read these words and think this is all nonsense. Others will get the point and receive some benefit from it. Either way here goes:

When I need to talk something out, I sometimes pretend Jesus is sitting next to me in the passenger’s seat, also called riding shotgun. Yes, I really speak outloud and imagine him listening and offering comment. Now it’s not all make-believe. I do believe in a real creator who has in place a system of care and providence that supplies our needs and responds to our faith. I believe I am listened to. I believe I am responded to. The only part I make up is someone physically sitting in the car with me.

Sometimes the insights I receive amaze me. I think the answers I get are part spiritual guidance and part intuition based on all I have learned about Jesus and his teachings. But I know that’s not true for everyone. You’ll need to find what works for you. Maybe you’d prefer a wise relative who’s passed on–some are more attuned to the wisdom of an ancestor. There are endless options for this exercise. Do what makes you most comfortable.

I don’t do this often. I try to keep it fresh and feeling real. But when I finish this conversation, I almost always come away with new knowledge about myself, an insight, a subconscious limiting belief revealed.

And that is always worth the effort.

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Have you ever noticed how many songs actually have some great spiritual implications in them?  I’m only now coming to realize how many songs I’ve sung through the years that have the positive thinking mantra hidden innocuously somewhere in their lyrics. It seems there is an effort to teach or maybe remind us that feeling good is both a goal and the key to the abundant life we all seek.

Now, you don’t have to dig very deep into anything labeled positive thinking, law of attraction, think and grow ______ (whatever) to get the message that our emotions are the thermometer of the soul. NOT the thermostat, but the thermometer. The way we think is the thermostat. In addition, all of the gurus I’ve read– Hill, Abraham-Hicks, Vitale, Proctor,– agree that much of the power which is available to us is released when we are feeling love in connection with the thing we desire. “Think of a wonderful thing. It’s the same as having wings,” I learned as a child from the Disney movie Peter Pan. Recently I was listening to an old Sinatra recording and realized the truth in the line “I can make the rain go anytime I move my finger. What a world, what a life, I’m in love!”

Positive emotion, especially love,  gives us an enormous boost onto the level of true power from which we can experience freedom and abundance. Look for opportunities to rise to this arena and make being there a habit. When it becomes a way of life, the miraculous will become the norm.

Look forward to it.

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