Facts

Studious Boy StatueInformation, facts or details that capture or describe what is known.

Don’t confuse facts with reality.  Robert D Ballard

Some people have a peculiar faculty for denying facts.  George Prentice

To treat your facts with imagination is one thing, but to imagine your facts is another.  J Burroughs

We live in a world where facts have lost importance. Once it was expected to have your facts in order before making a statement or a claim. What happened? Much is said and done based on emotions and feelings; facts are secondary and often are ignored. Emotions and feelings are always important, but the world does make more sense when things are more rational and predictable; when we can act and make decisions based on what is known. When we can agree on the facts; the hope of working together toward a common agreement increases.

When “armed” with facts we are in a solid position to better plan, consider various alternatives, and make decisions based on sound judgment and reasoning. Facts are fundamental things that we should be able to count on. There is an extremely high probability that the sun will rise tomorrow morning. We can plan on this. Feelings and emotions often ignore known facts. The more important circumstances and consequences are, the more important knowing the facts before acting becomes. It is one thing to make emotional decisions that only affect us; it is quite another thing to make such decisions when others will be directly or greatly affected.

Responsible people are expected to make decisions based on facts and not on emotions. Most of us have made bad mistakes by making decisions that were not factually based. We wanted a new car, a new home or a new “whatever”. The facts were that the timing was bad, we could not afford the purchase, or it was just a bad idea, period! Emotions and feelings got in the way of facts; we made the bad decision anyway, knowing we were about to make a mistake. Facts are tools and building blocks; helping us to do things rationally and logically. We will make fewer mistakes with fewer regrets, if we do better at “gathering the facts” before making decisions.

Facts can be dull and boring. They may not support our “rationalized decision making”, “messing up” what we wish to do. If we want to spend less time going backwards, fixing our mistakes, and reducing the pain and misery we create, we should pay more attention to them. Our common sense and basic wisdom should lead us to be more factually oriented. It makes sense to keep feelings in check and rely more on the facts of the matter.

Challenge: You can significantly improve the success rate of your decision making by doing a better job of utilizing facts. Fewer mistakes will add to the quality and joy of your life. This requires being more diligent and disciplined in your thinking and actions. You may not get to do some of the things you wanted to do, but you will not have to pay the expensive price of your bad decisions. Do your homework; get the facts before acting.

Wisdom:  Facts are stubborn things; and whatever may be our wishes, our inclinations, or the dictates of our passions, they cannot alter the state of the facts and evidence. John Adams

Spiritual: (NIV)

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

For these commands are a lamp, this teaching is a light, and the corrections of discipline are the way to life. Proverbs 6:23

For the man who pleases him, God gives wisdom, knowledge and happiness. Ecclesiastes 2:26

Listen world!! God is in charge! The creator of the universe is sovereign over his creation. He is the creator of all Truth. He provides us the wisdom and knowledge found in the Bible to guide and help us make better decisions. He gave us the Golden Rule and Ten Commandments to help us make better decisions. He sent his Son to free us from the slavery of sin. Understanding and embracing his love we will improve our life and our decision making.

Prayer:  If I am listening to You and following your will in my life, my decisions will be the right decisions.

Burning Bridges

082No retreating, only going forward, no alternatives

Be bold in life. Seize the moment. There is no surrender, no retreat. There is only conquer or be conquered, victory or defeat. Anything less is to be forgotten to history. Jeffrey Fry

I’m neither giving up nor giving in. Charlton Heston

Don’t burn your bridges behind you. Author unknown

Some advise us to burn our bridges behind us. Others advocate not using such an extreme approach. What gives? What is the best advice? A study of military tactics reveals some military leaders have used the tactic of burning bridges behind them as they advanced. Every bridge was burned as it was crossed. This tactic leaves only one option: “going forward”. The message to the troops is clear: “There is no retreat; we must go forward”.

“Burning bridges” can be an effective form of motivation. From a basis of “low motivation” to “extreme motivation” this leans toward the extreme. If we consider motivation from a “counting the cost point of view”; “burning bridges” must not be taken lightly or used carelessly. Should we seriously consider using this approach as a technique for forcing ourselves into serious action?

Assume we find ourselves in a situation where we really need motivation; someone puts a gun to our head and tells us if we do not do what needs to be done, it will cost us our life. This is extreme, but would move many to act. If we must quit smoking, drinking, or over-eating to avoid dying prematurely is this sufficient motivation to get us to take action? The greater the cost of not taking action, the more such extreme motivational techniques can increase our reasons to be motivated. “Burning Bridges” falls in line with such techniques.

There have been motivational leaders who advocate such extreme techniques: the idea is that if we have no choice but to go forward, then we will go forward. They advocate burning our bridges behind us, having no means of retreat. It gets into the “sink or swim” philosophy. Such things as selling your home and moving to a new city to find a new job; quitting a job without having one to replace it, even telling our old boss off when leaving a job are on the extreme side of the motivational equation. Taking such actions leaves us few options.

If we have “enough strong reasons”, we have increased power to really be motivated.  The best approach is to always motivate ourselves for positive reasons. Creating a vivid mental picture of ourselves succeeding, supporting our image with well-formed plans, having focus and self-discipline, short of sticking a gun to our head, is the more preferred method of motivation. Burning bridges is the more extreme approach.

Challenge: Do you have at your disposal an array of effective techniques for motivating yourself? Have you ever succeeded at “burning your bridge” as a means to motivate yourself? To succeed at personal motivation, you must establish strong enough reasons “why?” It is best to be positively and absolutely motivated. To burn your bridges behind you, you must be willing to succeed at all costs. It is not for the faint of heart.

Wisdom: Every person who wins in any undertaking must be willing to cut all sources of retreat. Only by doing so can one be sure of maintaining that state of mind known as a burning desire to win – essential to success. Napoleon Hill

Spiritual: (NIV)

I can do all things through Christ who give me strength. Philippians 4:13

For God did not give us a spirit of timidity, but a spirit of power, of love and of self-discipline.2 Timothy1:7

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

Having sufficient personal motivation to achieve our potential is a problem for most of us. It is a life-long issue. It is a source of frustration and can make us think very poorly of ourselves. It is often easier to give up our goals, dreams, and aspirations and accept the status quo rather than have to overcome these issues. We are so limited in doing things totally in our own strength. With God’s help in equipping and enabling us we can do so much more.

Prayer: Help me to open my heart and my mind to your guidance. Help me to follow where You lead me.

 

Stress

Clock TowerPhysical and mental pressure from the demands and requirements of daily living

Every stress leaves an indelible scar, and the organism pays for its survival after a stressful situation by becoming a little older. Hans Selye   

For fast-acting relief, try slowing down.  Lily Tomlin

Stress is the trash of modern life – we all generate it but if you don’t dispose of it properly, it will pile up and overtake your life.  Danzae Pace    

 It is an unusual person who does not suffer from some stress in their life. Stress is all around us. We are much like the ‘rats in the maze’; not knowing where we are going, but trying to get there as fast as possible. We are always under pressure with demands on our time, energies, efforts, finances; virtually every moment of our lives. Our family, jobs, homes, churches, organizations, friends and others are demanding more and more. When we idle and relax we feel guilty because things go undone. As technology advances, the opportunity for more stress increases. This is unhealthy, damaging and is reducing our quality of life.

Stress causes all kinds of physical and mental health issues. It causes relationship problems. The list goes on and on. The percentage of the population taking medication to help them cope with life’s stresses is always growing. A pressure cooker is an appropriate image of stress. When the lid is on, the pressure builds, the temperature rises, eventually something must give; if the pressure is not relieved the cooker “blows its top”.

How do we escape the effects of stress? If it were easy, it would not be the problem it is. It is the various pressures and demands of life on the outside that we are allowing to adversely affect us on the inside. These things pile up and load us down. The “buck” stops with us; we are choosing to allow stress and pressure to get to us. We cannot blame others. We are responsible for our own stress. It is on our shoulders. Part of being an adult is to be responsible for our choices. We subconsciously choose to allow the effects of stress to get to us.

There are those who have learned to control stress. They accomplish this in various ways. Some have simplified their lifestyles. Others choose mental approaches and learn to control stressful situations by not allowing things to get the best of them. Some do it through various mental controls; others find ways to vent. They learn how to let steam escape from their internal pressure cooker. The key is to proactively learn to control the effects of stressful pressures. A stress free or even a reduced stress life is a much healthier way to live. It is something everyone should learn to do for themselves. It is well worth the effort.

Challenge: Think in terms of a stress scale; from 1 to 10. How high does your stress get? How close do you come to blowing your lid? You should learn to control the stress from getting so high. When it starts going up, an alarm should sound, telling you to release the pressure. Invest time and effort in finding ways to keep stress under control. It is crucial and vital. Find something that works. Your physical and mental health is at stake.

Wisdom: Here’s a two-step formula for handling stress. Step number one: Don’t sweat the small stuff. Step number two: Remember it’s all small stuff.  Anthony Robbins

Spiritual: (NIV)

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

Now faith is being sure of what we hope for and certain of what we do not see. Hebrews 11:1

The fruit of righteousness will be peace; the effect of righteousness will be quietness and confidence forever. Isaiah 32:7

We are our own worst enemy. Life affects us the way we choose to allow it to. Whatever is happening in our lives is a function of both the event and how we choose to respond to it or how we choose to allow it to affect us. Many of us have problems with being slaves to the pressures and demands of life. We allow life to enslave us. We do not have to live this way. God will help free us from the pressure and stress of worldly living.

 

Prayer: Thank you giving me the strength and the courage to find ways to reduce stress.

Emotions

SI ExifMental states caused by things that happen; anger, joy, sadness, hate, rage, laughter, and others

When negative emotions are running high, one rarely makes the best decisions.  Anon.

When a man is prey to his emotions, he is not his master. Baruch Spinoza  

The principal use of prudence, of self control, is that it teaches us to be masters of our emotions. Rene Descartes   

How we react emotionally to things that happen to us is a big part of who we are. Defense mechanisms, barriers and our outer core are often bypassed when our emotions get activated. It is a time when we come so much closer to revealing our true nature and our naked unprotected inner selves. We expose who we really are.

Even the strongest and hardcore exteriors of many individuals make way to a softer, more vulnerable interior. In many respects our inner vulnerable childlike nature gets displayed. Some reveal their emotions easily while others are less prone to do so. Emotional reactions can be spontaneous outpourings of our subconscious nature.

When we react emotionally we are in a manner, reacting out of control. Using a very graphic analogy, we are throwing up emotionally. It is an involuntary reaction, something triggers an emotional reaction and we are unable to prevent it from happening. We try our best to repress emotional outbursts, but are unable to; it pours forth no mater what we try to do. The emotional nature of the event penetrates our defenses and overwhelm us.

Some consider it a weakness to react emotionally. It is a time of vulnerability. We often are at our worst under emotional stress. Those unable to control their temper often allow rage to overwhelm them. Others let tears flow like a human version of Niagara Falls. We should learn to control our emotions but not necessarily to totally repress them. It is not good to lose our temper, but is not healthy to totally repress our emotions. Women and men tend to express their emotions differently. There is nothing intrinsically good or bad about our emotions. It is a physiological aspect of our true nature. Our emotions do need proper forms for expressing themselves.

We do not perform at our best when reacting more to feelings than to facts and reasoning. Some of our worst decisions occur under emotional strain. Important decisions should not be made during periods of undue stress; they should be postponed until we are more rational. We should not expect others to be at their best when they are emotionally strained. Learning to express emotions in ways that are proper and desirable is healthy. It is also not healthy to hide and repress them, they will eventually find expression. The ideal is to be in control of them.

Challenge: You should always be aware when you are emotionally stressed. Avoid making significant decisions during these time periods. Avoid emotional outbursts. Do not allow emotional eruptions to negatively affect your relationships with others. Find ways to provide healthy opportunities to vent frustrations and stress. Allow others to reach out to you when you are in need of reassurance and compassion. Learn to better control your emotions.

Wisdom: Emotions are the color of life; we would be drab creatures indeed without them. But we must control these emotions or they will control us. John M Wilson

Spiritual: (NIV)

For if ye forgive men their trespasses, your heavenly Father will also forgive you.  Matthew 6:14

He healeth the broken in heart and bindeth up their wounds.  Psalm 147:3

A righteous man may have many troubles, but the Lord delivers him from them all.  Psalm 34:19

Our true self resides inside us. It gets revealed when we are emotionally stressed and react to things that happen. We may lose our temper; rant and rave; or may break down and cry like a baby. Emotionally we have opened up and revealed our vulnerabilities to the world. More often than not we try to hide our true self from the world. We cannot hide from God. He totally knows us in and out. He will help us if we will ask Him. He perfectly loves us.

Prayer:  Help me to have the strength I need when I am weak and need to deal with life’s challenges.

Positivity

1stqtr07 266Positive attitude or outlook, optimistic in nature; confidence; lacking doubt

A will finds a way.   Orison Swett Marden

Weakness of attitude becomes weakness of character. Einstein.

If you think you can, you can. And if you think you can’t, you’re right. Mary Kay Ash  

Positivity is a very desirable inner compass and guiding principle. It means proactively going forward, having a defining purpose and expecting positive results. Let us consider three basic approaches to life: positivity, uncertainty, and negativity. Whichever we choose impacts all aspects of our life. It influences what we do, how we do it and even how we feel about it. It has much to do with the quality of our lives.

Our overall approach impacts how we overcome adversities and misfortunes, and whether we are happy or miserable. If we have a ‘negative’ point of view, we live life as victims; expecting the worst and mostly getting what we expect. If our expectations are pessimistic in nature, life mostly gives us our expectations of it.

Located between the poles of positivity and negativity would be the middle aground of uncertainty. We are more likely passive rather than proactive; have a hard time getting back on track when we fall down. We will lack the courage of our convictions. We might venture toward the negative and occasionally venture into the positive. We lack solid foundations as to how we approach life. We are neither driven by a positive outlook or a negative one. We are like a leaf being blown about by the wind.

Positivity implies that we choose to live life successfully and victoriously. We are drivers and not passengers. We strive to be proactive. When adversities beset us, we get back up, reset our compass, and go forward. We have high expectations for both ourselves and of life. We should be victors, not victims; proactive, not reactive; drivers, not passengers. We tend to get out of life what we put into it. It is like having a garden. Care and effort put into gardening is usually rewarded with a good and pleasing harvest.

It is our basic attitude, inner compass and sense of direction that determine whether we will be ‘winners’ or ‘losers.’ We should look around and observe those who live life with positivity versus those who take the uncertain or negative approach. Those who get the most out of life are doing so because they are actively engaged in living life with gusto. They are captains of their own ships. Their sails are up and they are navigating their ship through life’s trials and tribulations with skill and daring. They know where they are headed.

Challenge:  Are you victim or victor? Much is determined about you by your answer. Your approach to life, determines what you get from it. Change your attitude. Maximize your determination. Be on the top, instead of at the bottom. Be a winner, not a loser. It is a choice as to how you approach life. Life will largely give you what you expect from it. If you never expect much, why be surprised in getting what you expect? Be proactive.

Wisdom: If you develop the absolute sense of certainty that powerful beliefs provide; then you can get yourself to accomplish virtually anything, including those things that other people are certain are impossible. William Lyon Phelps

Spiritual: (NIV)

Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen. Hebrews 11:1

For God hath not given us the spirit of fear, but of power, and of love, and of a sound mind. II Timothy 1:7

To them who by patient continuance in well doing seek for glory and honor and immortality, eternal life. Romans 2:7

We are made in God’s image. We have wonderful and infinite possibilities. Our Heavenly Father wants the best for us. He made us to succeed. We have free will. How we choose to live life is our choice. Those choosing the negative approach or the uncertain path will likely miss out.  We will never live the victorious life we were intended until we choose to walk with Him. That is how we live with positivity. He is calling us to live life.

Prayer:  Help me to live this live in victory and not in defeat. Empower me with strength to be victorious.

 

Truth

1stqtr07 555Consistent with true reality, universal law, facts, actuality; accuracy

Being true to yourself is the highest truth.  A Spiritual Warrior.

Truth is violated by falsehood, and it may be equally outraged by silence. Marcelinus Amianus

Truth does not consist in minute accuracy of detail; but in conveying a right impression.  Henry Alford

Lying is one of the worst pollutants there is. Telling the truth is no longer the high standard it once was. Politicians, advertisers, sales people, journalists, educators and lawyers are examples of those that we tend to exemption themselves from telling the truth. Those that are in high places are those we seem to hold the least accountable. Many of these people use their positions to lie to gain support, defeat an opponent, make a sale, create sensationalism, promote an agenda, or to generally mislead. At the extreme end there are the dictators and despots of the world who represent the antithesis of truth. We know we are being lied to, yet we do not really hold these individuals accountable. The world suffers greatly as a result.

We know in our hearts it is wrong to not tell the truth. Frequently, we have to sign statements affirming the truth of things or when in court to swear to tell the truth. Yet, we find reasons to compromise our principles and violate the purity of truth. The purposeful telling of an untruth is a lie. Our mothers told us that when we tell a lie we have done a wrong. Most of us can remember how we felt when we were caught in a lie by our parents. When we lie we do damage to our very souls. There is no measuring the heartache and misery that has been and is caused by the absence of the truth or the act of lying. One reason we falter is it often seems easier to lie than it is to tell the truth. We have done something we are ashamed of and do not want to admit to it. We choose to cover up or to hide our wrong, rather than confess and ask forgiveness. There is the concept of white lies, the purposeful withholding of information, and other ancillaries of untruths that seemingly sometimes are allowable exceptions to the evils of lying. All these circumstances create the ‘slippery slope’ to the perils of lying.

One lie leads to another and so forth. When we rationalize telling one lie, it becomes easier the next time. The point of this is that we should hold ourselves accountable to the highest ideals of telling the truth. We cannot hold others accountable to high standards when we do not live up to such standards ourselves.

Challenge:  How principled are you in telling the truth? It is an important and principled standard that you can hold yourself accountable to. You can never be what you are capable of being without laying a firm foundation of truth telling. It is important to be truthful to yourself first and foremost and then to all of those whom you deal with daily. Confirm or reaffirm today, a solid and firm commitment to the high standard of telling the truth.

Wisdom:  Oh, how great is the power of truth! Which of its own power can easily defend itself against all the ingenuity and cunning and wisdom of men, and against the treacherous plots of all the world. Cicero.

Spiritual: (NIV)

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

Do not spread false reports. Do not help a wicked man by being a malicious witness. Exodus 23:1

Truthful lips endure forever, but a lying tongue lasts only a moment. Proverbs 12:19

The Bible tells us that the Truth will set us free. It is one of the truest and most profound teachings we can find in the Bible. God is the originator of truth. The secular world is a world of lies and half-truths. We can choose to seek the truth or choose to try to avoid or hide from the truth. It is only in seeking the truth that we can truly be free. This is because when we earnestly are seeking the truth; we will find God there waiting for us. He is Truth.

Prayer:  Help me to be a teller of and a seeker of Truth. Help me reflect your love, light and truth to this world.

Great Expectations

April 2008 216Expecting the best; having optimism and high hopes

High expectations are the key to everything. Sam Walton

Our environment, the world in which we live and work, is a mirror of our attitudes and expectations. Earl Nightingale

There is no medicine like hope, no incentive so great, and no tonic so powerful as expectation of something better tomorrow.

Orison Swett Marden   

  It is said that life gives us what we expect. If true, this means we should have a much better life, better circumstances, more joy and happiness, success, wealth and all the possessions anyone could ever want. If all it takes is to have high expectations; it is a no-brainer. Why is life not delivering? The truth is that we lower our expectations because we do not believe we are capable of measuring up. It takes more than lip service to both have high expectations and to live up to them.

It is one thing to verbalize high expectations. We may talk the talk, but do we walk the walk? At the heart of the problem, we know ourselves too well, being totally aware of all our weaknesses and shortcomings. Since we know our fears, limiting beliefs and all the things wrong with us; how can we achieve or live at higher levels? It is easier to have excuses why we cannot than to have reasons why we can. If others knew the truth about us they would understand. Most of us are more heavily programmed to expect poor or mediocre performance than we are programmed to excel. We have a lifetime’s experience of miscues, failures and disappointments. It is so much easier to focus on the failures than the successes. This helps us to justify staying in our comfort zone, our complacency, and maintaining status quo. We have aversion to taking risks, facing fears, being embarrassed, and worrying about all the things that can go wrong. It is easier to choose not to try, because we already decided that we are more likely to fail. If we do decide to try, very often we fail because of a self-fulfilling prophecy of failure instead of having an expectation to succeed. Our life lives up to our true expectations.

Some have learned how to have higher expectations and reap good results for doing so. These people are marching to the beat of a different drummer? They have chosen to overcome their limiting beliefs, their fears, bad programming and self-issues. They make the necessary changes to slowly and systematically change their expectations, starting at their very core. Life will find a way to reward them for doing so. All of this gets down to seeing ourselves as we want to be and start doing what it takes to become that new person.

Challenge: You rise or fall, excel or not, advance or maintain status quo; in direct relationship to your true expectations. You can take this truth and plan your life going forward. You are where you are, largely because of your expectations. If you want something different or something more, then part of what is required to get there is to start truly changing your expectations today, going forward. Raising expectations will benefit you.

Wisdom: Our limitations and success will be based, most often, on your own expectations for ourselves. What the mind dwells upon, the body acts upon. Denis Waitley  

Spiritual: (NIV)

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

You need to persevere so that when you have done the will of God, you will receive what he has promised. Hebrews 10:36

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

The Bible tells us over and over again; we do not have because we do not ask. If we truly understood and lived by this teaching, our lives would be filled with all kinds of good things beyond our dreams and expectations. There is great secular truth to living by high expectations and those expectations being met. There is much more truth that comes from a spiritual understanding of having high expectations and being rewarded for doing so.

Prayer: Help me to become the person You created me to be. Help me to live up to your expectations of me.