Thin Skinned

PCFL607 618Overly sensitive to criticism and reproach; easily offended;

Self-command is the main elegance.  Ralph Waldo Emerson

A thick skin is a gift from God. Conrad Adenauer   

Beauty is only skin deep, and the world is full of thin skinned people. Richard Armour

  We likely know people who are ‘thin-skinned’, too upset or offended. They are often like puppets on a string; too much at the mercies of other’s actions more so than their own. Easily provoked, they often over-react to such a degree, they are all but out of control. Those suffering from “thin-skinned syndrome” hurt themselves and adversely affect their relationships with friends and loved ones. They are often their own worst enemy.  They can be miserable, suffering from resentment and often brood over the things they feel were done to them.

They cannot easily forgive and forget; are often hard to be around and can be hard to live with. They have yet to learn they are not responsible for the actions of others and are only responsible and accountable for their own actions. They have yet to master self-control. They are not free to choose to what and how they respond and react to. They are not in control and are being controlled, like Pavlov’s dogs salivating to the sound of a bell.

When something happens to upset, offend or annoy us, we should thoughtfully choose an appropriate response. When we respond in a thin-skinned manner, we are being weak and self-centered; responding more from our lower, instinctive and programmed nature than from a more disciplined and evolved manner. Higher level responses are a result of rationally and objectively thinking though what has happened to us. Rather than losing our cool, we are able to control our reaction and respond appropriately and maturely. Many of us are all too guilty of thin-skinned reactions. Others push our buttons. We respond and react in various inappropriate ways.

Those who are thin-skinned often have problems with self-esteem and are lacking in self-image. They are unsure of themselves and have self-inadequacies. Being thin-skinned and quick to lose our cool are tied together. Both maladies are rooted in various self-issues, such as, self-love, self-respect and self-control.

We need an inner strength that insulates us from being thin-skinned and allows us to objectively evaluate what has happened, and then to respond in a cool, calm, and collected manner. Learning to feel better about ourselves, will allow us to become much less sensitive to criticism and sarcasm. We will be less offended. We will have better relationships and the world may be a more enjoyable place. We are not puppets on a string.

Challenge:  Does ‘thin skinned’ apply to you? If so, it requires committing to work on self-issues. You have weakness and vulnerabilities that causes and permits thin-skinned reactions. The road to self-improvement requires creating a good self-image. It requires knowing and accepting yourself with all your good and bad.  As you learn to accept yourself as worthy, you start making daily progress. This gives you a foundation to build on.

Wisdom: He that reigns within himself and rules his passions, desires, and fears is more than a king.  John Milton

Spiritual: (NIV)

The fear of the Lord is the beginning of knowledge, but fools despise wisdom and instruction. Proverbs 1:7

If any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask of God, who gives to all liberally and without reproach, and it will be given to him. James 1:5

Now may the Lord of peace himself give you peace at all times and in every way.  2 Thessalonians 3:16

We are so limited without God. He wants to lead and help us become the beautiful creation He designed us to be. Without Him we will be limited, inadequate, fallible, and incomplete. We do not like the person who resides in us and will have multitudes of self-issues. All this comes back to love. God is Love. He is The Perfect Parent and wants us to learn to love ourselves as He loves us. When we do this, we will feel love and our lives will blossom.

Prayer:  Help me to be able to deal with all of the “self-issues” in my life. Help me to learn to love.

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Reading

Studious Boy StatueTo expand understanding, gain knowledge or pursue pleasure from the written word

A library is a hospital for the mind.  Anonymous

Reading is to the mind what exercise is to the body. Joseph Addison 

You are the person you are going to be except for the books you read and the people you meet. Author Unknown

Knowledge is power. We acquire knowledge by living through our experiences. This includes both good and bad. From this knowledge comes our wisdom. Our innate intelligence facilitates turning knowledge and experience into wisdom. This process works together to help us to get a better handle on how to live life.

As we gain more knowledge and wisdom, the likelihood that we will be rewarded with a better life increases. Logically, anything we do to gain knowledge, the more likely it is our life will be better for it. One easy avenue we have easily available, but so many poorly utilize, is the opportunity to learn and grow through reading.

We literally have the world at our fingertips through the written word. It has been said that you are the person you are going to be, except for the people you meet and the books you read. There is much written about every subject. In addition to books we have digital formats. A person of average intelligence has the ability and the opportunity to become literally an expert on virtually any subject. This can be done through reading and understanding enough written material about any subject. If we stopped to consider the possibilities, we should be awed by the possibilities that are available. It is said that Abraham Lincoln became a learned man through reading books by the dim light from his fireplace. Benjamin Franklin is another such example. We have access to a vast amounts of knowledge. It is a tragedy to allow this to go to waste. If we are not learning and growing, in some respects it can be said we are dying. By not feeding our brains, then we are very wasteful and negligent.

Even a minimal commitment can result in a cumulative learning that is staggering. Reading thirty minutes per day can result in approximately one book per week or about fifty books per year. In ten years that amounts to five hundred books; in twenty: one thousand. Think of all the knowledge available to us. It is there to enrich our lives. Our learning and gaining knowledge should absolutely never stop.

Consider the personal growth, knowledge, wisdom and accomplishments awaiting us. It is like Aladdin’s lamp waiting for us to make and receive wishes. We painfully shortchange ourselves and tragically are irrevocably deprive ourselves by not taking full advantage of the opportunity to read and grow.

Challenge:  Are you taking advantage of the awesome benefits available to you by reading? If so, good. If not, please consider the obvious possibilities. A better life awaits you. You are infinitely capable of learning and growing. Learning requires “feeding” yourself. Please consider committing to at least thirty minutes per day of reading. A better you and a better life will be the reward for your commitment and diligence.

Wisdom: You don’t have to burn books to destroy a culture. Just get people to stop reading them.  Ray Bradbury

Spiritual: (NIV)

But seek ye first the kingdom of God, and his righteousness; and all these things shall be added unto you. Matt.: 6:33

He will teach us his ways, so that we may walk in his paths. Isiah 2:3

If any of you lacks wisdom, he should ask God, who gives generously to all without finding fault, and it will be given to him. James 1:5

Those that are truly seeking wisdom and answers to life are the ones who are most likely committed to personal growth and development. These same individuals are likely to find great knowledge and wisdom along the way.  Those that truly seek truth are likely to bump into God along the way. The Bible tells us those truly seeking God will find him. It says that Truth shall set us free. God gives us freedom. The Bible may lead us to freedom.

Prayer:   Help me to be committed to learning and growing. Help me to achieve my potential.

 

 

 

Prejudice

Horse with BlindersUnfavorable opinions, attitudes and thoughts without knowledge or understanding

Prejudice is the child of ignorance. William Hazlitt

Much of our ignorance is of ourselves. Our eyes are full of dust. Prejudice blinds us.  Abraham Coles

Everyone is a prisoner of his own experience. No one can eliminate prejudices–just recognize them. Edward R. Murrow

  If we have uninformed beliefs or opinions, we are often coming from a position of prejudice. It sounds rather idiotic we would purposely choose to be this way. Societies and cultures have suffered from prejudices throughout their histories. The cure for prejudice is to be informed, educated, and open minded to truth.

It is unintelligent to knowingly form a conclusion from a position of true ignorance. We should be especially open-minded about things of which we have very little knowledge or exposure. In our increasing informed society, the subject of prejudice and discrimination is constantly in the news. More than ever the forces of the informed are able to exert influence on those who are ill-informed. Often in today’s world, the minority triumphs over the majority in making societal changes. The civil rights movement is a very good example of overcoming well-entrenched and powerful racial prejudices. It started with a few dedicated individuals who dedicated their lives to confronting prejudice. Through the years the forces of society have shifted away from status quo acceptance of racial prejudice to increasingly become intolerant of it. We are much the better for it.

We have a natural tendency toward doubting or even condemning that which we do not understand. The root of this is due to our fear of the unknown. We fear the unknown because we believe that it poses threats to us. The unknown encompasses all that which is not inside the domains of our comfort zone of experience and understanding. In addition to our natural fears of death, public speaking, new experiences, and so forth; we fear those belonging to different cultures, religions, beliefs or traditions. Generally, prejudices are very tough to overcome because they were passed on to us by our parents. Societal and cultural prejudices have been handed down for generations. These conditions exist throughout the world. As our world gets smaller and smaller; more open; and global in nature; it will get increasingly tougher for us to hold onto unfounded prejudices.

Overcoming prejudice requires avoiding conclusions about something or someone until we are informed. It means avoiding pre-conceived opinions and biases. Prejudice is a serious handicap. It limits and imprisons us. Examining the facts will lead us to conclude that we are often limited in our thinking. If we had never overcome any prejudices, we would still be living very lonely lives inside our caves.

Challenge: What prejudices have you had in your life? It would be the exceptional person who never has any prejudice. Do an honest self-assessment. Ask your friends and loved ones for feedback.  It takes maturity and honesty to admit to a prejudice. Can you identify one? Vow to look at the issues with an open-mind. Really examine your beliefs. Form your conclusions based on intelligent, unbiased and informed evaluations.

Wisdom: We are each burdened with prejudice; against the poor or the rich, the smart or the slow, the gaunt or the obese.  It is natural to develop prejudices.  It is noble to rise above them.  Author Unknown

Spiritual: (NIV):

I can do all things though Christ who gives me strength.  Philippians 4:13

If any of you lack wisdom, he should ask God, who gives generously to all without finding fault, and it will be given to him. James 1:5

For God did not give us a spirit of timidity, but a spirit of power, of love and of self-discipline. 2 Timothy 1; 7

We should be extremely grateful that God is not prejudiced against all of our ugly shortcomings, faults, warts, and blemishes. When viewed against God’s holiness, we are very ugly and pitiful. Despite this, God loves us. He loved us so much He sacrificed himself for us. Love is the antithesis of prejudice. He wants only the best for us. God’s love is great and perfect. It has no prejudices. Thank God. Where would we be otherwise?

Prayer:  Help me to avoid prejudices in my life. Help me to be able to learn to love with your love.

Serenity

TranquilityBeing free from stress, emotion or worry; at peace; calmness

Serenity is not freedom from the storm, but peace amid the storm. Author Unknown    

If you cannot find peace within yourself, you will never find it anywhere else. Marvin Gaye      

Each one has to find his peace from within. And peace to be real must be unaffected by outside circumstances. Author Unknown    

Achieving more serenity is desirable and healthy. Many of us have a difficult time practicing the concept of “peace and quiet”. Our world is quite stressful and pressure-filled; with time always ticking as we rush to get up in the morning and until we make ourselves go to bed at night. This stress starts from when we first enter the “Rat Race” and until we grow old and finally are forced to slow down.

As technology continues advancing, we add more time-consuming activities to our schedule. We find it difficult to find enough time for some of the things that are most important. We are not in control, do not have the right priorities and “cannot see the forest for the trees”. We are like rats caught in a maze moving as fast as we can, frantically trying to get where we are going and find our piece of cheese.

We need serenity; slowing down to a manageable pace that includes time to “smell the roses”. Many of us needs more emphasis on achieving “higher quality” and perhaps less on the quantity of things we do. Many of the things causing us stress and anxiety are not as important as we may think. We worry in order to be worrying. An old adage says the vast majority of worrying is about things that never happen. If we stop and look at the big picture, we are reminded how messed up our priorities are.

Wise people have told us the most important things in life are about people and relationships.  As we get older we increasing realize this. Making these kinds of changes is not easy.  It takes a serious commitment on our part to back off from the torrid pace of the “rat race”. It requires evaluating all the activities consuming our time. We have to be willing to get rid of some of them (quantity) and replace them with higher quality (less quantity). This should include adding more family activities, reading, gardening, going to the park, camping, hiking, and so forth. The stress and worry in our life will not diminish until we make a conscientious effort to make it happen. We will likely find more joy and happiness in doing fewer things better than too many things in a hurry and at lesser quality. We should be more in control of our life rather than it being controlled.

Challenge:  What needs to happen in your life in order for you to achieve a state of serenity? Find the time and a place to practice becoming serene, peaceful and stress free. What does it mean to you to “take time to smell the roses”? Even a few minutes at a time, it is a very worthwhile activity to seek. Find more ways to replace your stress with serenity. The peace and quality of your life is the price you pay for not having enough serenity in it

Wisdom: Right thoughts produce right actions and right actions produce work which will be a material reflection for others to see of the serenity at the center of it all. Robert Pirsig

Spiritual: (NIV):

The fruit of righteousness will be peace; the effect righteousness will be quietness and confidence forever. Isaiah 32:17 

Now may the Lord of peace himself give you peace at all times and in every way. 2 Thessalonians 3:16

And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus. Philippians 4:7

We can know the true peace that comes from knowing God loves us. He will help us take care of the really important issues in life. This peace is beautifully wrapped up in concepts of faith and confidence. It comes from believing and knowing God is sovereign and keeps his promises. As we walk closer and closer to Him, our faith and confidence will grow stronger and stronger. The first step to finding serenity is to turn our lives over to Him.

Prayer:  Help me to let go and let You. Help me to go where You lead me.

 

 

Giving Back

Kodak 2010-11 115Sharing our good fortune or prosperity with others, a way to be thankful

Happiness doesn’t result from what we get, but from what we give.  Ben Carson

Service to others is the rent you pay for your room here on earth.  Muhammad Ali

The best way to find yourself is to lose yourself in the service of others.  Mahatma Gandhi

The phrase “Giving Back” portrays an attitude of gratitude and thankfulness. Those that give back, are those that are very aware of being blessed, well-off, favored, lucky or advantaged. They have an attitude that leads them to share their good fortune with others. Those choosing to give back may even feel an obligation to do so.

We tend to think those who give back are those that are well-off or even rich. This may be true in many cases. There are those that give back who may only be moderately well-off or maybe not even that. Some people are inclined to feel that they should or even must share what they have with others. There are others who would only consider “giving” if they knew that will receive something in return. In many cases we are likely inclined to do as we were taught or influenced by others such as our parents. We may have good intentions or a “want to”.

Giving back as perhaps a philosophy or a principle, if widely practiced would have an immense and very positive influence in this world. It would be up there with the significance and “good doing capability” of the Golden Rule. In many respects this could be said to be a “close cousin” of the Golden Rule. Most of us will have nothing negative to say about the goodness of giving back. Most of have had some experience with giving back. It probably was a very good experience for us. It does not mean that we necessarily practice giving back. There is always that idea of good intentions. Most of us tend to have good intentions. We have problems putting our intentions into action. If the vast majority of those of us who are capable of giving back actually engaged in giving back what would that look like? If we combine Giving Back with the Golden Rule and the majority of us were to make it our nature to do these things; the nature of this world would change dramatically.

When it gets down to it, each of us has a responsibility to do what we can to make this world a better place. If each of us did just engaged in doing a little, those little things would add up. If we do what we can, it may influence others to do what that can. It will build on itself.

Challenge: Consider challenging yourself to give back regularly, even daily. Become increasingly aware of looking for opportunities to find ways to give back. It does not have to be things that are more than you are comfortable with. Start small and the rest will take care of itself. Most of the time you will be the one who most likely benefits the most. Try to develop more and more an attitude of gratitude and thankfulness in the process.

Wisdom: For it is in giving that we receive. Francis of Assisi

Spiritual:

The fruit of righteousness will be peace; the effect of righteousness will be quietness and confidence forever. Isaiah 32:17

Humility and the fear of the Lord bring wealth and honor and life. Proverbs 22:4

 And whatever you do, whether in word or deed, do it all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him. Col 3:7

The world is full of selfishness, self-interest, greed, and “looking out for #1”. Many of us are always wanting more and more. Instant gratification can describe us pretty well. The Bible teaches we should be grateful for what we have and be willing to share our good fortune with others. If we adopt a “giving back” approach to life, we will be blessed even more. This is a very strong theme and message in the Bible. God blesses us for giving.

Prayer: Help me to overcome my selfish ways and to learn to have a more loving and giving attitude.

 

If You Can’t Say Something Nice . . .

Clydesdale HorsesRefraining from saying hurtful or harmful things, avoiding gossip and slander; using our words to help instead of to hurt

Words are the voice of the heart. Confucius

A generous heart repairs a slanderous tongue. Homer

Never throw mud. You may miss your mark, but you will have dirty hands. Joseph Parker

When we hear, “If you cannot say something nice do not say anything at all;” it might bring back memories of our mother saying these very words to us. They should remind us of our mother’s wisdom and what she was trying to teach us about this very important truth.

Hurtful words are one of the scourges of society; doing so much harm and damage, sometimes even destroying lives. What comes out of our mouths can hurt, harm and destroy or can be used to uplift, heal and even build. In today’s world lives are severely damaged if not destroyed by the media’s willingness to say or print words that may or may not be true. Our primitive nature seems to respond and relish in the sensational, the nasty, dirty, and the despicable side of life. Negative news sells more than positive news. It is a very sad state of affairs.

While we are not responsible for others actions, we are responsible for our own. Whatever we say or do, or do not say or do, is our responsibility. We can use our words and deeds for good or can use them harmfully. Each of us either contributes or detracts from making the world a better place by our words and deeds. It is easier to do harm and damage by what we say with words than what we do in actions. It takes considerably more effort and self-control to manage the use and quality of our words. It does take more conscious intent to perform bad deeds than it does to issue harmful words. We speak before we think and damage is done. Many of us lack the wisdom, discipline and self-control to practice; “If you cannot say something nice, do not say anything at all”.

When we think about the plight of this world, we may say; “What can I do about it? One answer is to be a much better steward of the words we speak. We can try to put forth a conscious effort to use our words for good, being more positive and uplifting, rather than harmful and degrading. This will actually be uplifting to us. If the majority of us made a conscientious effort to be more kind and considerate, what a difference might be made in the lives of those around us. The world needs more encouragement. There is way too much discouragement.

Challenge:  On a daily basis you have considerable power and influence in the words you speak. Your words and how you intend them, impacts the lives of those around you; peers, friends and loved ones. Do you put more effort into tearing down or into building up? You can make a difference. Become more of an ambassador of good will with good words and good tidings. Uplift, build up, encourage and listen. It is your choice to make.

Wisdom: A kind word is never lost. It keeps going on and on, from one person to another, until at last it comes back to you again. Unknown 

Spiritual: (NIV)

Your tongue plots destruction; it is like a sharpened razor, you who practice deceit. Psalm 52:2

Tell the righteous it will be well with them, for they will enjoy the fruit of their deeds. Isaiah 3:10

Keep your tongue from evil and your lips from speaking lies. Psalm 34:13  

What we do and what we say have their origins in our heart, soul and mind. Many of us believe that we will be held accountable for not only what we do, but also, for what we say. The Bible teaches responsibility and accountability. The world has major problems with these issues. The more we seek after God, his teachings and his instructions, the more we will be guided by his love. He will lead us down the path to more righteous living.

Prayer: Help me to increasingly become a better steward of my thoughts, words and actions.

 

Principles

American Flag with EagleTruths, morality and ethics, rules and standards, all toward good behavior and right actions.

The height of you accomplishments will equal the depth of your conviction. W Scolavino

If principle is good for anything, it is worth living up to. Benjamin Franklin

It is easier to fight for one’s principles than to live up to them. Alfred Adler

  We do need principles for us to live by. Those living by them are more likely living good, upright and well-grounded lives. Those not living principled lives are more likely to have problems with the quality of their life. It is a good thing for us to have something that guides us. Too many of us are still searching for something to believe in and that gives our life more meaning and purpose. Too many are misguided, searching and wandering.

How many of us have the self-discipline to sit and think, formulate and focus on what our principles are? How many have loosely formulated principles bouncing around inside their heads? Should we formally declare, proclaim and document what we stand for? Some people go so far as to have a personal mission statement. They make a declaration of the principles they seek to live by. Things such as honesty, integrity, humility, patriotism, kindness and respecting others are the kinds of principles many proclaim. Would we become more principled by “officially” recognizing and stating what we believe, proclaiming it and then even writing it down” Would our principles become more ingrained? Are they really that important to us or do we mostly give them lip service?

Human beings come closer to living a quality life by having a committed sense of what they believe, stand for, and ascribe to. It is one thing to “loosely” commit; it is a better thing to verbalize and articulate what one really believes. We will make better decisions; do better at staying on course and have more self-respect and self-esteem. It is good to live by convictions. Our principles serve as protective armor, shielding us against things that weaken and harm us. They are our personal constitution. They are our rule book; injecting a quality and energy into life; helping us have a sense of direction and reasons why we do what we do.

Too many appear to be lost and without any real sense of direction and purpose. All are faced with difficult choices as we confront life’s challenges. We are tempted to accept less than we should accept. The temptation to compromise is always there. If we are firmly grounded in principles, we are more capable and are more likely to make better choices. By committing to living a life with meaning and purpose, we will get so much more from it.

Challenge: Chances are you have principles. Take time, write them down, and ponder their meaning and importance. Consider developing them into a personalized mission statement. Knowing what you really believe, stand for, and are guided by; adds meaning and purpose to life. You will be happier and get more from life by having a more focused sense of purpose. You will have more energy and vitality to live life with more “gusto”.

Wisdom: Failure comes only when we forget our ideals and objectives and principles. Nehru

Spiritual: (NIV)

He gives strength to the weary and increases the power of the weak. Isaiah 40:29

But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well. Matt 6:33

Tell the righteous it will be well with them, for they will enjoy the fruit of their deeds. Isaiah 3:10

Look around! Those seeking to live life “righteously” are happier and have more joy. They have something to live for. It is a fringe benefit that comes from letting go and letting God lead us. He gives us the ability to discern the truth and to know what is most important. He gives us the courage, conviction and strength to stick to our principles. Without God’s help and divine direction, we are endlessly searching for the wrong answers

Prayer: Help me to remember that with You in my life there is nothing to fear.