Thoughts on Thinking

"When somebody persuades me that I am wrong, I change my mind. What do you do?" John Maynard Keynes

"If you're unhappy with your life, change your thinking." Charles Fillmore

"The primary cause of unhappiness is never the situation but your thoughts about it." Eckhart Tolle

"People are not disturbed by things, but by the view they take of them." Epictetus

"The unexamined life is not worth living." Socrates

"Consciousness is a terrible thing to waste." PunditGeorge

Thursday, January 12, 2017

There Was A Time

(From time to time a bit of mischievous verse)

There was a time
when there wasn’t
although I can’t remember
when it was.

When, then and now,
to be, a thing un-thought.
All present and accounted for
in an array of life compressed
knowing that once
it was expanse.

Occasionally we can touch
that link in life
when our prattling succumbs
to the Truth of the present
and we realize, perhaps,
that we are what was.
And is.
And shall remain.

History is composed of the actions of the present, remembered after a while.  People are pretty much the same in any time or place, therefore it’s of value to study the past and learn the evolution of thought.  The Gnome suggested that I think back as far as I could.  I did.  This was the result.  
Illustration by the late, great, Chester Delacruz

Add some mischief!  

Saturday, December 31, 2016

Happy Intentions!

Happy New Year 2017!

Do you mean it?  A happy 2017?  It’s not a wish.  It’s a matter of intent.

I never worked a day in my life.  It was all fun!  -  Thomas Edison.

The great inventor was spot-on - if it's fun, it ain't work (presuming one equates work as undesired labor.)  Semantics aside, intent is the key.

One simple declaration will make all the difference.  Attach this declaration to the beginning of every thought and you’ll be astonished.  Okay, ready?

“It is fun to ________________________________.” (You know, fill in the blank.)

Simple.  Uncomplicated.  Heck, it’ll even make pleasant those traditional dreaded New Year’s Resolutions:

“It is fun to plan to lose weight.”  It’s not necessary to “wait” until the weight is lost to have fun.
“It is fun to choose what I eat.”  If a healthier diet is in the plan, then have fun with it now.
“It is fun to de-clutter the office.”  Think about how much better it is without the mess rather than         fixating on the mess.
“It is fun to have the car serviced.”  It’s fun to be able to drive where I want to go.”
“It is fun to pay more attention to_____.”  (Fill in the blank.)
“It is fun to be around healthy, happy people.”  Duh.
“It is fun to pay the bills.”  Why? For each bill you received some desired service or item.

You get the idea.  The more you do it, the easier it becomes.  In fact, if you really intend to have a fun 2017, and you begin using this declaration January 1, by the beginning of March you’ll think this way automatically.  You won’t pay much attention to that fact because you’ll be having such a good time.

Of course, if you don’t really believe that you could/should/ought to have a continuous good time, then you won’t.  It’s the intention that rules, a.k.a. expectation.   If you look for the fun in anything, you’ll find it.  If you look for something else, you’ll find that.  What is consistent is that you will find and experience what you expect, what you look for, what you give your attention to.

Happy New Year!  (If you want it.)

If you truly want a fun 2017, use the magic word as well.  Go whole-hog – complaint free!
How much delight can you have in 2017?  
All you want.

Those who get it, get it.  Those who don’t, can’t.

Wednesday, December 21, 2016

Happy Solstice, Merry Christmas, Happy New Year!

The Winter Solstice continues to be one of the most enduring moments for reverence and celebration.  The darkest day of the year has come and hence forth each day shall be filled with more sunshine.  I'm not aware of any civilization that did not make a big deal of the turning point of the year.

So, of course, this became the season to celebrate the birth of Jesus who became the Christ.  It's pretty well accepted that Jesus was born not in winter, but in the spring and six years earlier than our calendar suggests.  Since Pisces, the fish, was an early Christian symbol, I'd surmise that the birth occurred under that astrological sign.  This is all irrelevant, of course.  The historical Jesus Christ was one of a handful of master teachers known to us, and his instructions on how to live a more wonderful life have proven itself repeatedly.

Mischief arose when the teachings of this Master were edited, blended, codified, and otherwise rendered theological and political.  All the latter are man-made.  Some of the recent history of organized Christianity is not pretty - the Albigensian Crusade, Spanish Inquisition, and burning witches come to mind, and of course the scourge of ISIS.   But this is man acting against man and not reflective of Jesus' teachings, principle of which is to do unto others as you would have them do unto you.

It is fashionable now to minimize the impact of Jesus or even seriously question his existence.  I distinctly recall through the years the "absence of evidence" of an historical Jesus.  Why, if the teachings and movement were so profound, many ask, does the principle source for historical information in the region shortly after the death of Jesus, mention him in only a brief paragraph? 

The source is Josephus, who wrote a voluminous history of the Jews called "Antiquities."  Recently I purchased the complete works of Josephus, because I like history, and because I was curious to read the rare, fleeting, mention of Jesus in the decades following his death.  It is a brief paragraph.  But what a paragraph! 

3. (63)  Now, there was about this time Jesus, a wise man, if it be lawful to call him a man, for he was a doer of wonderful works - a teacher of such men as receive the truth with pleasure.  He drew over to him both many of the Jews, and many of the Gentiles.  He was {the} Christ; (64) and when Pilate, at the suggestion of the principle men amongst us, had condemned him to the cross, those that loved him at the first did not forsake him, for he appeared to them alive again the third day, as the divine prophets had foretold these and then thousand other wonderful things concerning him; and the tribe of Christians, so named from him, are not extinct to this day.

That's an account given when many who knew Jesus were still alive.  He must have made quite an impact to earn that paragraph so quickly.  Note:  It is possible that various translations of the paragraph may have embellished the telling.

The history is irrelevant.  It is the teachings that shifted much of human consciousness and continues to do so.  Jesus taught that thinking (prayer) was the road to a wonderful life.  Thinking is very personal, therefore the relationship to God that Jesus taught, had to be personal as well.  That, of course, didn't go over well with Priests or any positioned person to whom obedience and, well, worship were required.  Radical stuff, actually.

So, to celebrate the Christ Mass, is a good thing.  It is a Merry Christmas.  It is a Happy Holiday.  It is as pagan as it gets, for the celebration is ancient.  Adjacent to Christmas, in our modern calendar, is the New Year!  Really, rejoice that the great Teacher came to teach us joy, then embark on a fresh, new year that uncluttered with the mistakes (and erroneous thinking) of the previous year.

Saturday, December 17, 2016

The Pope did it.

Gwen was mad at the Pope. In talking to a friend, she told of her gripes with the Pontiff, his positions on various matters, and how her life was miserable because of him.

The friend was aghast at this revelation. “Goodness,” asked the friend, “that’s terrible! What exactly did the Pope do to you to make you so angry?”

Gwen complained about his positions. The friend again asked what exactly the Pope had done to her to hurt her so much. Finally, she blurted out: “It’s the Church!” The Catholic Church was her problem.

“That’s a shame,” said her friend. “What exactly has the Church done to hurt you so much to make you so angry?”

Again, Gwen mumbled a few things but was not able to specify what actions the Church had taken to make her life so miserable. “It’s the Parish! I’m mad at our Parish!” she finally conceded.

The friend repeated the same question. Gwen was uneasy and unable to state what the Parish administration had done to hurt her so badly. Another question from the friend. Then, finally: “It’s Father Snead! He hates me.”

“What terrible thing did Father Snead do to you that hurt you so?” asked the patient friend.

Gwen abruptly left the room, shouting that “Marie got the job that I wanted.”

Marie was hired because she was proficient with certain technology and applications which Gwen wasn’t. Yet Gwen couldn’t, or wouldn’t, accept that fact. She was hurt when she didn’t get the job and became angry.

But because she wasn’t able to accept that, and didn’t want to be angry with Marie, Gwen launched her anger all the way to the Vatican and His Holiness.

Projecting anger at someone, something, far away is a method many people use to cope with their angry feelings.

 Does it work? Not if relieving the anger is the goal. Projected anger masks the more genuine problem—in this case, loss of a desired job. It was simply easier for Gwen to stay angry, than accept the true reason for not being hired. She didn’t have the necessary skills and didn't want to get them.

There’s a strange logic to this technique: “If my anger, or problem, is caused by something SO big”—like the government, all white people, all black people, all men, all women, the system, etc., “then I am a victim of their wickedness.” This is also known as “It’s not my fault.”

Perception = Reality. If a person perceives himself or herself as a victim of some great evil, then the reality of actually being a victim will self-fulfill. The Pope didn’t do anything to Gwen, yet in her mind she made him the cause of her pain and suffering. This is a faulty perception. A faulty perception, given great energy, doesn’t correct anything. It’s just faulty.  But you can live a lifetime with it.  An irrational idea, passionately held, is still an irrational idea.

...from Habits, Patterns, and Thoughts That Go Bump in the Night

Monday, November 28, 2016

Just the FAQs, Please!

Pleased to announce that the second edition of Just the FAQs, Please, About Alcohol and Drug Abuse by yours truly and Dan Baldwin is now available at Kindle.  Print versions coming shortly.

You've got questions.  Here are the answers.

Remembering the first edition:

"Interesting, irreverent, and very readable.  Just the FAQs, Please is useful for the wide variety of people that pass through our answers questions that families consider but do not always verbalize."   Administrator of a system of  outpatient and residential treatment programs for substance abuse.

"Written in a refreshing and unpedantic style, Just the FAQs, Please is recommended reading for everyone, especially families, who want to understand more about alcoholism and drug is so entertaining that one hardly realilzes that he is also learning something.  I was compelled to finish reading in one sitting once I had begun."  CEO of a non-profit corporation that provides outpatient and residential treatment for substance abuse, EAP, and adolescent treatment.

UPDATE:  Now available in print from Amazon.

Sunday, November 20, 2016

Don't WORRY this Thanksgiving!

Yeah, riiiight…”  “If you’re not worrying, you don’t understand the situation…”

Okay, we’ve all been there – had some irritatingly cheerful soul spout some nonsense about “don’t worry…think positive” or some such grating platitude, when we’re tangled with a situation that scares us.  What’s wrong with the goody-goody unicorn rainbow person that he/she doesn’t get it!  I’ve got to worry about it, because if I don’t…”

Stop it right there.  “I’ve GOT to worry about it, because if I don’t…”  Then what?  What WILL happen should you STOP worrying about something?

    • Is a loved one suddenly going to wreck their life because you stopped worrying?
    • Is some situation going to crater or explode because you stopped worrying?
    • Is someone going to think less of you if you stop your worry and suffering on account of someone else?

Well, maybe the latter, but that’s a relationship needing a re-set.
What IS worry, anyway?  Worry is creating something you do not want.  Worry is the action of focusing your thinking on something that you fear and do not want.  Now, how on earth does that thinking improve anything?  It can’t.  It only increases your awareness of what else is “wrong” or “un-desired.”  It’s very easy to worry about a mole hill - then find yourself with a mountain of grief.

The mental action we call “worry” is an energy launched at something that scares us.  “Oh, gosh, I sure hope Fred doesn’t eat too many sweets for Thanksgiving, it’s bad for his health.”  “The weather is terrible, I’m afraid Jane will have a wreck!”  Of course the mental activity can be more nebulous and manifest as a chronic dis-ease regarding certain people or situations.  I’ve even heard of physical manifestations – warts – in particular.  (Yes, worry-warts...)

There is a growing awareness of the connection between attitude, expectation, and health. Certainly some diseases and ailments are influenced by genetic factors, but attitude is very powerful. You’ve read accounts of “the will to live” working miracles in terminal cases. Conversely, gut-wrenching worry and complaining can screw up the heartiest of digestive systems. On the other hand...
Hank’s Curious Math
A lot of people worry about getting older, as if worry will somehow reverse the process. Perception continues to rule. You may know of someone who is “old” at thirty and others who are “young” at eighty. The difference? Perspective. A good example is Hank.
Jovial 60-year-old Hank is smitten with 30-year-old Bonita, who is equally enchanted with Hank. They become engaged. “Goodness,” Hank’s friends remark, in horror, that “she’s half your age!”
“She’ll catch up,” replies Hank calmly. “When I’m 90 she’ll be two-thirds my age.”
In Hank’s perspective, at some point in time, they may very well be the same age. It’s a curious math – but a great attitude!

People are going to do what they are going to do.  You KNOW this, you DO this.  Every two year-old will let you know “you ain’t the boss of me!”

You ain't the boss of me!

Don’t Worry, be Happy!  Yeah, riiiiight!

Worried about someone’s health?  What can you do?  Be healthy yourself and envision them as healthy.   In the presence of such powerful vibration the dis-ease aligned with the EASE – and the person had what we consider an instant healing.  It CAN happen that fast.
People who are unhappy equally like to share their misery, or, in most instances, are so practiced in worrying and focusing on what they don’t like they lose their awareness of HOW they are thinking.  Adapting an old Russian joke:

A Russian, an Englishman, and a Frenchman were walking along the road one day when they spotted a muddy lamp lying in the ditch. The Englishman picked it up and the Frenchman cleaned it. Suddenly, a Genie appeared in a puff of smoke. Greatly relieved to be free of her tiny prison, Genie offered to grant each of her liberators one wish.
            The Englishman thought for a moment. “Genie, I wish that I owned a great estate with a full staff to wait on me and my family.” Poof! It was done.
            The Frenchman thought for a moment. “Genie, I wish to be a famous poet and have hundreds of beautiful women clamoring to make love with me.” Poof! It was done.
            Genie turned to the Russian. “And what wish may I grant for you?”
The Russian thought for a moment. “My neighbor has a new car and I do not. Wreck my neighbor’s car!”

People think like that.  It’s the belief in a finite universe where there is a limited amount of everything including happiness and if someone HAS something, it is at the expense of someone else.  This is nonsense.  But it is an old and very entrenched belief.

If the Universe operated that way you could go to the hospital or wherever, get an injection of some terrible bacteria and become incredibly ill.  Once you became sick, then magically some sick person somewhere in the world would be cured.  You can try it.  In a fashion, many folks do.  But it doesn’t work.

So, don’t worry.  Be happy for this Thanksgiving!

(A Thanksgiving muse from Habits, Patterns, and Thoughts That Go Bump in the Night)