Tough Love

100_2300Strict, blunt, disciplined approach to teaching life’s principles and lessons

Do not consider painful what is good for you. Euripides

Man must be disciplined, for he is by nature raw and wild. Immanuel Kant

There is nothing wrong with tough love and long as it is unconditional.  George W Bush

Society is weak-willed, undisciplined, whiny, impolite, selfish, patronizing and has a long list of other undesirable traits and characteristics. There is a lack of love and concern, low expectations, and poor accountability. What we need is more tough love.

The true concept of love requires a degree of toughness. When raising children we have to say ‘No!’ be willing to discipline; withhold privileges and practice accountability. Some allow their children free reign. All we have to do is to look around and see the undesirable results of children whose parents have not practiced tough love. Some of us can look back and be thankful for the tough love of our parents, and some of us can look back and wish our parents had practiced more tough love. The more faults and short comings we have today may be related to the amount or lack of tough love we received or did not receive from our parents.

Many lack sufficient skills in self-discipline, accountability, delaying gratification, work ethic, patience, perseverance, and others. Those having some mastery of these are functioning and flourishing at higher levels than those who do not. Many of us are aware of our need to strengthen these skills. The more we tended to learn them from our parents, the more likely we acquired them earlier in life. Some of us are having to learn these things more on our own. As adults we need to practice tough love on ourselves as well as on our children.

The need for discipline, motivation, and accountability never ends. Just as kids need tough love from their parents, we need to practice tough love on ourselves. We need to do this in order to grow and reach our potential. Many of us are doing a poor job. Once no longer under the authority of our parents, we have to become our own parent. We have to be able to love ourselves and hold ourselves accountable to high standards. We have to practice self-discipline, delay gratification, be able to say “NO’, and limit our exposure to undesirable influences, and practice many other ‘tough love’ activities. Just as a parent fails his child when not practicing tough love, we fail ourselves in a similar manner. The need to learn and grow does not stop at adulthood, it is never-ending, ever-challenging, and a life-long need. We do need tough love in our lives.

Challenge: Do you practices tough self-love? Are you self-disciplined and self-accountable? These are very necessary skills to have. Chances are you can use some improvement in this area of your life. It behooves you to be aware of this need and responsibility. Are you less than you can or should be? Commit to becoming a good parent to yourself; practice tough self-love; you owe it to yourself to hold yourself to have high standards.

Wisdom: No life ever grows great until it is focused, dedicated and disciplined. Author Unknown

Spiritual: (NIV)

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

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

In all your ways acknowledge Him, and He will make your paths straight. Proverbs 3: 5

God is the perfect parent. He would be less than perfect if He did not discipline and teach us the lessons of life. He does not make bad things happen, but uses bad things to teach and help us learn the lessons of life. This is tough love in action. God is the creator of love. We should learn from his example. We should practice tough self-love on ourselves. The more we are able to do this, the more we will grow and prosper in this life.

Prayer:  Help me to practice ‘tough self-love’.

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Standards

201_3386Our code of ethics, morals, how we live and manage our lives

Hold yourself responsible for a higher standard than anyone else expects of you. Henry Ward Beecher.  

The quality of a leader is reflected in the standards they set for themselves. Ray Kroc

Let every man judge according to his own standards, by what he has himself read, not by what others tell him. Albert Einstein   

Standards are the expectations to which we are held accountable. They can be someone else’s standards or our very own. All of us are held accountable, to the “Rule of Law” as administered by government and our courts. We are also held accountable to standards in the workplace, and to standards of society in general.

There are standards to which we hold ourselves personally accountable (or not). Each of us can hold ourselves marginally, somewhat, or very accountable. Those who do not hold themselves accountable have a life filled with problems and are likely problems to those around them and to our society in general. When there are no standards there is something missing in upbringing, mental processes, socialization skills, and overall make up.

Many of us fall into the ‘somewhat accountable’ category. We hold ourselves accountable in conjunction with our “path of least resistance”. This means we verbally hold ourselves accountable to a degree if it is convenient and not too ‘painful.’ If holding ourselves accountable causes us any mental anguish or feelings of guilt or disappointment, we sometimes abandon our standards because it is so easy for us to do so. We think that there are no repercussions for our lack of discipline and integrity. The truth is that this is very damaging to ourselves.

There are those who hold themselves very accountable. Very often these are the people who have their lives going in the right directions. They are growing and realizing their potentials. They are their own managers and supervisors and hold themselves to high standards and expectations. However, some of these individuals can be so rigid and out of balance in their handling themselves, they provide no room for failure or mistakes. They can become very unhappy and miserable because they fail to live up to their own high expectations.

We need to establish our own set of standards, ethics, morals and principles to live by. They should be committed to memory. We should hold ourselves accountable rigorously and faithfully. However, we must handle ourselves in a loving and forgiving attitude at the same time and be prepared to forgive ourselves when falling short. The idea is to grow and develop a little at a time, making room for our mistakes, when they occur.

This is a life-long effort. Sometimes, we take two steps forward, while taking one step backwards.

Challenge:  Most claim to have set standards. How do we hold ourselves ‘accountable’ to personal standards, to growing and becoming what we can become?” It is so easy to let ourselves ‘off the hook’, to look the other way, and so forth. Take the time to establish and identify your standards; hold yourself accountable, monitor and supervise yourself. When you fail, examine the reasons, forgive yourself, make changes and go forward again.

Wisdom: You can become an even more excellent person by constantly setting higher and higher standards for yourself and then by doing everything possible to live up to those standards. Brian Tracy

Spiritual: (NIV)

Thy word is a lamp unto my feet, and a light unto my path. Psalm 119:105

Commit thy works unto the Lord, and thy thoughts shall be established.  Proverbs 16:3

Trust in the Lord with all thine heart; and lean not unto thine own understanding. Proverbs 3:5

Not holding ourselves accountable to high standards results in less than our best. Those setting high standards and measuring themselves against those standards will fare better in life than those who do not. Gods hold us all accountable for what we do in life. In our own power and strength we will fall short of reaching our potential. When we let go and let God guide and direct us, He empowers us to do much better than we can do on our own.

Prayer:  Help me to be hold my accountable to become what it is You would have me to be and do.

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.

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.