Appreciation

June 16th, 2017

We do violence to ourselves when we focus on what we are missing or lacking rather than appreciating the gifts we have been given. You don’t have to follow a particular religion or even any religion at all to appreciate the marvels and mysteries of the world — they are there for all of us. By bringing more appreciation into your life, you can change your attitude and your perspective on the world.

— Arun Gandhi, The Gift of Anger, p. 220-221

An Unread Library

June 16th, 2017

Collect books, even if you don’t plan on reading them right away. Nothing is more important than an unread library.

— Austin Kleon, Steal Like an Artist, p. 20

Giving and Taking

June 16th, 2017

Teach her that to love is not only to give but also to take. This is important because we give girls subtle cues about their lives — we teach girls that a large component of their ability to love is their ability to sacrifice their selves. We do not teach this to boys. Teach her that to love she must give of herself emotionally but she must also expect to be given.

— Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie, Dear Ijeawele, or A Feminist Manifesto in Fifteen Suggestions, p. 56

Hope

June 16th, 2017

Cause-and-effect assumes history marches forward, but history is not an army. It is a crab scuttling sideways, a drip of soft water wearing away stone, an earthquake breaking centuries of tension. Sometimes one person inspires a movement, or her words do decades later; sometimes a few passionate people change the world; sometimes they start a mass movement and millions do; sometimes those millions are stirred by the same outrage or the same ideal, and change comes upon us like a change of weather. All that these transformations have in common is that they begin in the imagination, in hope. To hope is to gamble. It’s to bet on the future, on your desires, on the possibility that an open heart and uncertainty is better than gloom and safety. To hope is dangerous, and yet it is the opposite of fear, for to live is to risk.

— Rebecca Solnit, Hope in the Dark, p. 3-4

The Way Out

May 30th, 2017

The path away from judgment of self and neighbor requires major mercy, both giving and, horribly, receiving. Going without either of them leads to fundamentalism of all stripes, and fundamentalism is the bane of poor Mother Earth. Going without engenders blame, which offers its own solace but traps us like foxes. We trick out box traps with throw rugs and vases, until the pain grows too big. Then the only way out of jail is forgiveness.

— Anne Lamott, Hallelujah Anyway, p. 48-49

Defining Forgiveness

May 27th, 2017

I define forgiveness as the experience of peace and understanding that can be felt in the present moment. You forgive by challenging the rigid rules you have for other people’s behavior and by focusing your attention on the good things in your life as opposed to the bad. Forgiveness does not mean forgetting or denying that painful things occurred. Forgiveness is the powerful assertion that bad things will not ruin your today even though they may have spoiled your past.

— Dr. Fred Luskin, Forgive for Good, p. xii

Fuel for Growth

May 9th, 2017

To soar above is to go beyond limits, to become greater, to become the most empowered and humane persons we can be. This, I believe, is the evolved function of pain: not to suffer or to identify with suffering but to grow beyond it. As we’ve seen, the natural function of pain is to motivate behavior that will heal, correct, and improve. The Adult brain uses pain as fuel for growth.

— Steven Stosny, Soar Above, p. 144

An Instinct for Forgiveness

May 6th, 2017

“The natural response when someone hits you,” the Archbishop said, “is wanting to hit back. But why do we admire people who don’t choose revenge? It is our recognition of the fact that, yes, there are those who think an eye for an eye is going to satisfy you. But in the end you discover that an eye for an eye will leave the whole world blind. We have an instinct for revenge but also for forgiveness.”

— Archbishop Desmond Tutu, quoted by Douglas Abrams in The Book of Joy, p. 236

Destroying Sin

May 5th, 2017

Punishment, I repeat, is not the thing required of God, but the absolute destruction of sin. What better is the world, what better is the sinner, what better is God, what better is the truth, that the sinner should suffer — continue suffering to all eternity? Would there be less sin in the universe? Would there be any making-up for sin? Would it show God justified in doing what he knew would bring sin into the world, justified in making creatures he knew would sin? What setting-right would come of the sinner’s suffering? If justice demanded it, if suffering be the equivalent for sin, then the sinner must suffer, and God is bound to exact his suffering, and not pardon; and so the making of man was a tyrannical deed, a creative cruelty. But grant that the sinner has deserved to suffer, no amount of suffering is any atonement for his sin. To suffer to all eternity could not make up for one unjust word.

An unjust word is an eternally evil thing; nothing but God in my heart can cleanse me from the evil that uttered it. But it does not follow that I saw the evil of what I did so perfectly that eternal punishment for it would be just. Sorrow and confession and self-abasing love will make up for the evil word; suffering will not. For evil in the abstract, nothing can be done. It is eternally evil. But I may be saved from it by learning to loathe it, to hate it, to shrink from it with an eternal avoidance. The only vengeance worth having on sin is to make the sinner himself its executioner.

— George MacDonald, Unspoken Sermons, Third Series, “Justice,” quoted in Discovering the Character of God, p. 259

Stop with the Revenge

April 29th, 2017

All of us complain about what is missing in our lives, what we don’t have or what we would like more of. Our willingness to take a deeper look at why we do not have this thing would bring us our answer. The answer is that we are getting revenge on someone. It is always true that we are getting revenge on ourselves, but that is not the whole answer. Revenge is always about getting back at someone beside ourselves. As we are willing to let go of our power struggles with this person, we are no longer robbed of our present happiness.

Today, it is time to stop getting revenge and let yourself receive. Ask yourself, “By not having this thing, who is it I’m getting revenge on? Who is it I am getting back at?” Close your eyes and imagine this person standing in front of you. Is the power struggle worth more than what it is you want? Be willing to forgive them for whatever wrong you perceived them doing. Now give to them the very thing you want. As you do, you will feel yourself receiving and being filled with the same thing.

— Chuck Spezzano, If It Hurts, It Isn’t Love,, p. 252