Archive for the ‘Growth’ Category

A Perfect Place

Wednesday, June 13th, 2018

Today, take time to realize that you are in a perfect place for the lessons that you are learning, for the healing that you are doing, and for the growth that you are ready to make at this point in your life.

— Chuck Spezzano, If It Hurts, It Isn’t Love, p. 317

[Photo: Above Gundersweiler, Germany, July 1998]

The Worth of Our Emotions

Monday, June 11th, 2018

Honoring the worth of our emotions — no matter what they are or how little we or others understand them — is a skill that changes the entire tenor of our lives.

— Ken Page, Deeper Dating, p. 192

[Photo: Hug Point, Oregon, November 10, 2015]

Grievances Don’t Happen by Chance

Saturday, June 9th, 2018

I want to make clear beyond the shadow of a doubt that a grievance does not occur by chance. Just because we were mistreated does not mean we have to create a grievance. A grievance isn’t inevitable just because of a deep wound. A grievance forms when you react to painful situations in a specific way….

When we realize our role in the grievance process, we can then decide to play the central role in our healing. The most powerful way to heal is through forgiveness. When we forgive, we take something less personally, blame the person who hurt us less, and change our grievance story. Through learning the process of forgiveness, we can forgive anyone who has hurt us in any way.

— Dr. Fred Luskin, Forgive for Good, p. 64

[Photo: Assateague Island, October 24, 2016]

Gratitude as Ethic

Monday, June 4th, 2018

Part of the answer lies in the nature of gratitude itself. It cannot be overstated that gratitude is an emotion, a complex set of feelings involving appreciation, humility, wonder, and interdependence. Gratitude is, however, more than just an emotion. It is also a disposition that can be chosen and cultivated, an outlook toward life that manifests itself in actions — it is an ethic. By “ethic,” I mean a framework of principles by which we live more fully in the world. This ethic involves developing habits and practices of gratefulness that change us for the better. Gratitude involves not only what we feel, but also what we do.

In this way, gratitude resembles love. Love is also a complex set of feelings — desire, passion, devotion, and affection. We feel love. But love is also a commitment, a choice, and a vow, an emotional orientation toward a person or persons that causes us to act in certain ways. Love as a noun, a feeling, surprises us; it shows up and changes everything. As most of us know, however, it is also a bit of a cheat. It can disappoint, fade, or taunt when it seems to hide or move away. Love as a noun can be tricky. When it is, we choose, often motivated by the memory of the feelings, to love and act accordingly. Love moves from being a noun — an emotion we feel — to a verb — an ethic of commitment we embrace. Gratitude is like that. Some amount of the time we feel grateful, but when the emotions seem to desert us or show up at all the wrong times and in the wrong places, we can choose to give thanks and act in accordance with grace. Gratitude is both a noun and a verb. Gratitude is both a feeling and a choice. The first often arises unannounced and the second takes a lifetime of practice.

— Diana Butler Bass, Gratitude, p. 52-53

[Photo: Oregon Coast, August 6, 2014]

Good at Stress

Saturday, June 2nd, 2018

Embracing stress is an act of bravery, one that requires choosing meaning over avoiding discomfort.

This is what it means to be good at stress. It’s not about being untouched by adversity or unruffled by difficulties. It’s about allowing stress to awaken in you these core human strengths of courage, connection, and growth. Whether you are looking at resilience in overworked executives or war-torn communities, the same themes emerge. People who are good at stress allow themselves to be changed by the experience of stress. They maintain a basic sense of trust in themselves and a connection to something bigger than themselves. They also find ways to make meaning out of suffering. To be good at stress is not to avoid stress, but to play an active role in how stress transforms you.

— Kelly McGonigal, The Upside of Stress, p. 94

[Photo: Dunluce Castle, Ireland, July 2001]

The Freedom of Others

Thursday, May 31st, 2018

People do not want to be told how to live. They want to be loved. Lecturing, cajoling, and manipulating will only bring about a cynical attitude toward humanity. Even when others do happen to change under your influence, you will not respect them for it. If you want people to be human beings rather than puppets, take your hands off their strings. Give them plenty of room to breathe, and you’ll breathe easier yourself.

I cannot set anyone else free. Only God can do that, and even He wants their cooperation. But if I make a habit of treating others as if they are already free, they’ll stand a much better chance of getting the hang of it. The reason they are not kind and loving may well be that no one has ever treated them as if they are. If you want to see kingly qualities, treat people like kings.

— Mike Mason, Practicing the Presence of People, p. 189-190

[Photo: Longwood Gardens, Pennsylvania, June 15, 2008]

Freedom in Forgiveness

Wednesday, May 30th, 2018

The journey to release all grudges, to relinquish the quest for revenge, and to let go of the fantasy of what might have been is one of the most difficult spiritual challenges we’ll ever face. But I promise you, it is also the most rewarding. Because the other side of forgiveness is freedom.

There was a time when I believed the act of forgiveness meant accepting the offender, and by doing so, condoning the act. I didn’t understand that the true purpose of forgiveness is to stop allowing whatever that person did to affect how I live my life now.

— Oprah Winfrey, The Wisdom of Sundays, p. 112

[Photo: Burg Rheinstein, Germany, July 1997]

Relating to Ourselves with Lovingkindness

Monday, May 28th, 2018

Fortunately, when we relate to ourselves with lovingkindness, perfectionism naturally drops away. We may realize we’ll never sing an aria at the Met, but we can continue to love opera, follow our favorite singers, and perhaps join a local chorus. There’s no frustration, bitterness, or self-criticism in this kind of loving acceptance. It doesn’t mean we’re complacent, but rather we stop resisting the way things actually are. Wholehearted acceptance is a basic element of love, starting with love for ourselves, and a gateway to joy. Through the practices of lovingkindness and self-compassion, we can learn to love our flawed and imperfect selves. And in those moments of vulnerability, we open our hearts to connect with each other, as well. We are not perfect, but we are enough.

— Sharon Salzberg, Real Love, p. 71

[Photo: Zweibrücken Rose Garden, Germany, June 2003]

Your Everest

Thursday, May 24th, 2018

Everyone has an Everest. Whether it’s a climb you chose, or a circumstance you find yourself in, you’re in the middle of an important journey. Can you imagine a climber scaling the wall of ice at Everest’s Lhotse Face and saying, “This is such a hassle”? Or spending the first night in the mountain’s “death zone” and thinking, “I don’t need this stress”? The climber knows the context of his stress. It has personal meaning to him; he has chosen it. You are most liable to feel like a victim of the stress in your life when you forget the context the stress is unfolding in. “Just another cold, dark night on the side of Everest” is a way to remember the paradox of stress. The most meaningful challenges in your life will come with a few dark nights.

The biggest problem with trying to avoid stress is how it changes the way we view our lives, and ourselves. Anything in life that causes stress starts to look like a problem. If you experience stress at work, you think there’s something wrong with your job. If you experience stress in your marriage, you think there’s something wrong with your relationship. If you experience stress as a parent, you think there’s something wrong with your parenting (or your kids). If trying to make a change is stressful, you think there’s something wrong with your goal.

When you think life should be less stressful, feeling stressed can also seem like a sign that you are inadequate: If you were strong enough, smart enough, or good enough, then you wouldn’t be stressed. Stress becomes a sign of personal failure rather than evidence that you are human. This kind of thinking explains, in part, why viewing stress as harmful increases the risk of depression. When you’re in this mindset, you’re more likely to feel overwhelmed and hopeless.

Choosing to see the connection between stress and meaning can free you from the nagging sense that there is something wrong with your life or that you are inadequate to the challenges you face. Even if not every frustrating moment feels full of purpose, stress and meaning are inextricably connected in the larger context of your life. When you take this view, life doesn’t become less stressful, but it can become more meaningful.

Kelly McGonigal, The Upside of Stress, p. 86-87

[Photo: Berg Goldeck, above Spittal an der Drau, Austria, July 29, 1998]

Carried

Sunday, May 20th, 2018

He will carry us in his arms till we are able to walk; he will carry us in his arms when we are weary with walking; he will not carry us if we will not walk.

Very different are the good news Jesus brings us from certain prevalent representations of the gospel, founded on the pagan notion that suffering is an offset for sin, and culminating in the vile assertion that the suffering of an innocent man, just because he is innocent, yea perfect, is a satisfaction to the holy Father for the evil deeds of his children. . . . The good news of Jesus was just the news of the thoughts and ways of the Father in the midst of his family.

— George MacDonald, The Hope of the Gospel, p. 81-82

[Photo: Burg Dahn, Germany, July 1997]