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

Friday, November 22, 2019

Something for Thanksgiving - Don't Worry, be Happy!


Here's a re-post of a Thanksgiving essay from Habits, Patterns, and Thoughts That Go Bump in the Night.

“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...)

Don’t Just Sit There, Do Something!

Calvin Coolidge got it right. “If you see ten troubles coming down the road,” he said, “you can be sure that nine will run into the ditch before they reach you and you have to battle with only one of them.” With an outlook like that, it’s easy to understand why Silent Cal was seldom anxious. Unfortunately, many people see the ten troubles and leap into action ten different ways. 

Worry has been described as the interest paid on trouble before it falls due or actually arrives. Many people go through the day paying a very high interest rate on their perceived troubles.

Worry is a part of the natural response to fear. Worry is a mental activity that attempts to satisfy an instinct to do something.

You probably know someone who has said, “I’m worried sick about that.” But what did they mean?

·         “I’m worried...” Translation: I’m scared.
·         “...sick...” Translation: My stomach is in knots, I can’t sleep, eat, feel nervous all of the time, I can’t concentrate on anything.
·         “...about that...” Translation: There isn’t a thing that I can
           do about it, the situation is totally beyond my control.

What is the perception in that statement? How is the person reacting mentally and emotionally to “I’m worried sick about that?” The dread and fear are reinforced. Not only are ten troubles about to wreck my life, but they’ve got fifteen more behind them, “heading right for me!” The physical effects of the anxiety are reinforced and the lack of control is confirmed. Yet the worry continues. Something needs to be done about the “bad” things we observe.

Compound worry trumps other thoughts and feelings. The strong statement “I’m worried sick” is heard very clearly by every cell in the body. “Hey,” thinks the little cell, “the boss says I’m supposed to be sick.” What the boss expects, the boss gets.  Ouch!  You’re the BOSS!  Is this what you want?

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!”

Although we may not always understand WHY we feel anxious, we are very good at observing a situation, condition, or person that we believe is causing the problem.  We then leap into action to “fix” the problem.  Or, if we’re unable to do that, we WORRY.   We worry because we believe in some manner, that our concern ABOUT WHAT WE DO NOT WANT will somehow make it better.

During World War II many parents and families were worried about their loved ones in the military or living in war torn countries.  What to do?  Tossing and turning all night, going through the day envisioning all of the terrible things that COULD happen, and engaging in endless conversation with equally worried people resulted in…

…loved one still in war torn countries.  Poet James Dillet Freeman composed a wonderful prayer for those families.  The idea was to supplant WORRY with an equal attention to what was DESIRED.  It worked very well.  We use it today.  It’s called the Prayer for Protection.

Wouldn’t you rather think, envision a loved one surrounded by the Light of God?  The Love of God?  The Presence of God?  Rather than using the same thought energy to envision a loved one surrounded by car crashes, sickness, crime, misery - whatever the hazard.  Which ever you do, you use the same amount of thought energy.  Which is fueling what you WANT?

What you want is to “follow your bliss” as mythologist Joseph Campbell put it.  Follow your bliss is not a myth, but an eternal and universal instinct that is never fully suppressed – that two year old again.

There’s only one person in the universe who knows what is good for you.  And that’s YOU.  Period.  End of story.  No more searching necessary.  No longer necessary to ask others what you should want or do. 

If one is unsure of their bliss, they may worry – a floating anxiety based on a lack of direction, so to speak.  In this situation a person may WORRY about WORRYING.  Compound worry!

The happiest people are those who delight in their Life and SHARE that delight.  Not everyone understands that of course.  As I wrote earlier…

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 (USSR) 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.

Do I want to be happy?

Tommy liked his job.  Tommy enjoyed his job so much that he actually looked forward to going to work each day.  As the foreman of the shop he had a good crew to work with.  It wasn’t that long ago that Tommy became enamored with Suzette, one of the administration staff at the facility.  They married.  Suzette and Tommy were very happy with themselves, their children, their jobs, and their life.

That was his problem.

Generous by nature, Tommy permitted his brother, separated from his wife and out of work, to live with them while he looked for work.  Tommy’s father was ailing and he also joined the growing household.  Coming over for regular bar-b-que’s and holidays were Tommy’s other siblings and relations.  Their lives were filled with problems, resentments, illness, and legal issues.  Tommy was concerned for all of them.  He and Suzette felt blessed and happy while nobody else in the family did.

Tommy began to feel badly about feeling good.  One day he discussed with his boss how he felt guilty because his relations were having so much trouble and his family had it so good.  The boss understood, and was prepared to help Tommy.  “Tell you what I can do, Tommy,” said the Boss.  You’re fired.”

Tommy was stunned.  His boss continued.  “Feel any better?” he asked.  Tommy was too flummoxed to answer.  “Now, as I understand it, some of your relations are jealous of your happy life and that bothers you.  So, to help out, I’ve fired you.  Now they’ll be happy, right?”
   
By that point Tommy was thinking more clearly.  But it won’t change anything, except now I don’t have a job.”

“You felt guilty about having a good job didn’t you?” asked the Boss.
“Well, yes,” replied Tommy.
“So by losing your job, you’ll feel better?”
“I don’t know about that,” said Tommy.
“Won’t they feel better, now that you’re in the same boat as them?” remarked the Boss.
    “No.”
    “Doesn’t  losing your  job help them?”
    “No,” mumbled Tommy.
    “You mean to tell me that their lives aren’t going to get better just because you got fired?”
    “No.”
   
The Boss smiled.  “Well, if losing your job isn’t going to help them, then you might as well keep it.”  Tommy sighed relief.  “However,” noted the Boss,  “You can’t keep feeling guilty.  Your having a job doesn’t keep them from doing anything.  They’ll be just as miserable regardless of how happy and Suzette may be.  That about right?”

Tommy scratched his head.  “I hadn’t thought about it like that.  My good life doesn’t mean they can’t have a good life.  It’s up to them.”

“Bingo.”

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

Friday, November 08, 2019

JD!

Jeanette Danette (JD) Lambert sold her soul to marry into the Louisiana political family.  Decades later, divorced and her daughter in college, JD wants her soul back.  She's running for Mayor.  Against her Ex.  What could possibly go right?

You can find out Saturday December 7 or Sunday December 8.  The Company Repertory Theatre and the Bossier Arts Council presents a Readers Theatre production of this new comedy by yours truly at the Eastbank Theatre in Bossier City.

Director Richard Folmer has assembled some of the regions top talent for this production:
Susan Kirton, Mary Zapczynski, Dick King, Logan Jarecki, Brittany Williams, Patrick Kirton, and Shawn Dion.  Ginger Folmer is narrator.  Stage manager is Denise Dion and lighting design by Marissa Brown.

Tickets are available at the door or online:



         




Wednesday, November 06, 2019

The Old Soldier explains...

Corporal Julius Franklin Howell, CSA, reflects on his life, the Civil War, and the manner of thinking of a young Virginian.  History direct.  Thoughtful fellow, "General" Howell.


Monday, October 14, 2019

Autumn Musings


The Golden Rule is perhaps the finest “day-to-day” philosophy for successful living known to us. 

There is a huge difference between living “don’t do to others what is hateful to you” and “do unto others what you would have them do unto you.”  In the former (and older) “I disagree with you!  I want to punch you in the nose!  But I won’t, because I don’t want you to punch me.”  What’s the deal?  A focus on the other person and what he/she is doing that offends the observer.  The emphasis is on the action – punch the nose!  That’s where the emotion lies. 

Contrast with the latter (Jesus version) “I treat you with love and respect as this is how I wish to be treated.”  Focus in on the individual not the other/outer person/situation.  Action?  I think and act as I wish to be, and allow you to do the same (uh, “art of allowing?” anyone?)  Person acts, rather than re-acts to what is observed in others.  Huge, huge difference.  And, not everyone gets it.

***

I had one of those "back to basics" moments the other day while strolling around the neighborhood.  The pavement, the trash containers, the street light poles, the automobiles, the roofs, the doors, the door knobs, the sidewalks...everything comes from Earth.  The tires on the car.  The radio.  My smart phone.  Plastic.  Beer.  Steel.  Paper.  Cloth.  Our wonderful standard of living is provided.  All that was necessary was to learn how to use it.

Learn.  What is that?  To be conscious. 

***
  
Allowing Toleration

To tolerate, or not to tolerate, that is the question.

Well, yes it is a question.  To tolerate means, in this sense, to endure and put up with someone/something (unhappily.)  In effect, “I don’t like (it, you, them, etc., ) but I won’t (can’t) waste anymore of my time fussing with (it, you, them, etc., )  Toleration is a quantum improvement over attacking, fighting, resisting, against anything that displeases you, or is not aligned with your usual way of thinking (a.k.a. belief.)

It’s axiomatic that anything someone wants and does is rooted in an expectation that he/she will feel better for having it.  There’s nothing complicated about this.  How often have you had the thought “I’d be better off if only (it, you, them, etc.) would ________ (fill in the blank.)  There’s a contradiction at play that cancels the desired good feeling – the focus on the mischief/mis-deed/whatever about (it, you, them, etc.,).  Just as two physical objects cannot occupy the same space at the same time, it’s not possible for a good feeling and a negative (bad) feeling to occupy the same attention at the same time.  Thus the problem with toleration.

Toleration is a good thing.  It beats the heck out of a never-ending struggle and resentment towards (it, you, them, etc.,).  Toleration creates literal time and energy for the pursuit of happiness.  Think about it.  For this reason, tolerance is considered a virtue, and it is, compared to ardent struggle.  Becoming more tolerant results in greater physical relief, not to mention emotional and mental benefits.  Note:  Many people have a belief system that uses the word “forgiveness” in a similar vein as tolerance.  Forgiveness works wonders provided it’s understood to benefit the forgiver and not something for (it, you, them, etc.,).  Forgiveness, and tolerance, are often considered “letting (it, you, them, etc.,) get off of the hook, or getting away with something.  Not at all.  It’s a shift from giving attention to something disturbing to something preferred or desired.  That shift in itself is quantum.  It gets better.

There is a strata of perspective a notch above toleration.  It’s called Allowing.  Someone eaten up with resentment may, in a moment of frustration, comprehend the concept of toleration or forgiveness.  It’s unlikely, however, they could grasp a concept of allowing at that moment.  Someone who has developed the ability to tolerate (it, you, them, etc., ) may be able to catch a glimpse of allowing.

The difference between the two is subtle yet vast.  Very similar to the subtle yet vast difference between a thought of that which is hateful to yourself do not unto another and do unto others as you would have them do unto you.  Toleration carries with it the idea, the memory, the picture of whatever it is about (it, you, them, etc., ) that offends/angers you.  Allowing is free of that burden and (it, you, them, etc., ) are allowed to be what/who they are – sans judgment.

It’s the without judgment part that blocks access to this level of thought for many people.  Allowing and judging cannot occupy the same mind at the same time.  To judge is to seek and find fault, however defined.  The solution is for the judged to correct the “fault.”  For instance, in New York city there was a ruckus over newborns having formula for food.  Who decides if a newborn is breast or bottle fed?  In this spat the judgment is from the state (city government) to force the mothers to breast feed by making formula very difficult to access in a city hospital.  Is this justice?  It is judgment.

So, the value of any judgment is relative to who/what is judging and who/what is judged.  Floating just above that clamor is the old adage live and let live, which is an application of Allowing.

The subtle difference between tolerance and allowing is very similar to the distinction between being grateful for something and appreciating something.

The bottom line is that many people deprive themselves of joy simply by the manner of their thinking. 

Sunday, September 22, 2019

A Change of Attitude That Went Bump in the Night

Folks familiar with this blog understand its purpose to promote thought awareness and the ability to change a manner of thinking, such as practicing to be Complaint Free.  A recurring theme is forgiveness, releasing anger and resentment for your benefit.  (No it's not letting the S.O.B. "off the hook!")  From time to time I come upon a true story where a change of mind, attitude, proves beneficial.  Here it is.


“I don’t recall hearing the lock click,” recalled Jennifer, probing into the previous evening.  This morning, stepping outside to the driveway to take her daughter to school and herself to work, she was puzzled by the sight of two strange bicycles on the ground.  Where her Chevy Traverse should be.  But it wasn’t.  The sinking feeling in her stomach was more than matched by the anger of the realization, my car’s been stolen!  Inside the unlocked car was a spare car key.

It was a rude awakening, for sure, but one that led to a surprising ending.  At least for Jennifer.

The theft was reported to the police and OnStar notified which then stopped the Traverse.  As the car came to a halt a police cruiser pulled up behind.  The cruiser’s video camera would later show four young men bailing out of the car and running off.  Only the driver was apprehended.  In the mean time Jennifer had all of the locks to their house changed since there might have been a spare house key in the car.

Jennifer got the call that her car had been recovered, perhaps just barely.  It would take nearly $5,000 worth of body work to repair the multiple dents, scrapes, and gashing.  All the contents of the car were taken including her daughter’s computer.  In all, another $1,500.  Most disturbing was the can of gasoline in the back of the car.  It was likely that after the “joy ride” the perpetrators were planning to burn the vehicle.

Charged with the theft was the fifteen years old driver.  The Juvenile authorities were taking this case to trial.  This was unnerving for Jennifer – she would have to be in court.  And, a few months later, she received a subpoena to do just that.

Looking around the courtroom that day, she noticed a woman, probably the driver’s mother and a few other people.  Then a teenaged girl entered the courtroom in an orange jumpsuit and handcuffs.  She was alone in the courtroom, no family, no one.  Jennifer felt for her.  Then the Judge ordered everyone not associated with her case to exit.

Back in the courtroom, the Judge asked Jennifer if she had given the teenager permission to drive her car.  No.

Months later, Jennifer was present at a probation hearing for the driver.  He would have to come up with $400 to reimburse Jennifer for his “share” of the loss.  The mother approached Jennifer, “I’m sorry for what my son did.”  Jennifer glared at the driver.  He sheepishly stepped towards her, “I’m sorry for what I did.”

Once outside of the courtroom, in a move that surprised her, the driver stepped towards her with open arms.  Jennifer stepped to the teen and hugged him, saying, “Stay out of trouble.”  His mother look astonished, as did a deputy.  Walking beside Jennifer as she left the courthouse, the deputy noted “That’s never happened before.” 

“I hope it helps him,” she answered.

The car was repaired and the gasoline smell finally removed and Jennifer and her family continued their usual life.  Later she received a letter from the court updating her on the driver’s effort to raise the $400. 

“If he manages to pay me the $400, I’ll donate it to a charity that helps kids like him,” she told her daughter.  The daughter was a bit taken with that approach, not finding in it a semblance of anger.  The daughter was still angry – that was her computer!

“It happened,” Jennifer explained.  “Being angry wouldn’t change the outcome and it would keep interfere with my resuming life.  I’m forgiving him for my sake.  If it helps him, then wonderful.” 

It’s the little things, she later thought, that do add up and affect people.

Embracing the driver was an unexpected act of kindness and concern.  And, quite possibly the only time the teen had ever received a hug.  Regardless, because of that thought that went bump in the night, Jennifer did not permit anger and resentment to consume her.

Forgiveness – it’s not for the S.O.B., it’s for you.

Saturday, September 14, 2019

The twist to "A Turn at the Point"


A behind the scenes look at how a novel comes together!

Where the hell did he come from?  I mean, the scene was flowing along rather well, it seemed to me,  then a new character decided to make an entrance and throw a curve into otherwise linear chapter.  This required a chat with the intruder.  Glad I did!  It turned out that one of the established characters was a player in the intruder’s back story.  I could visualize how a new twist and turn might enrich the developing plot, and thus the intruder was given a name and welcomed into the novel.

Yes, this is how the plot thickens - unruly characters jostle for story position and make their case to the author, who must decide which road is taken. Then again, sometimes I think:  "To hell with the road, I'm writing cross country!" It turned out that allowing the characters to roam freely in such an uncharted landscape worked, certainly for this trek into a paranormal mystery. And that, in the proverbial nutshell, is how A Turn at the Point came together.

Writing Cross Country resulted in a couple of "out of the blue" moments for yours truly. About half-way through the novel there was a distinct pause in the process, a.k.a. writers block. I don't care for that phrase yet there was an impasse as I pondered how to coherently connect two subplots.
Available at Amazon
It wasn't a dark and stormy night, but night it was when the telephone rang. Most calls to the residential line were junk yet for some reason I answered this one. "Hello?" said I. "Is this George Sewell?" asked the caller. An intriguing hour long conversation ensued and I realized that this was the needed element. Fictionalized, another character entered the weave and the yarn was again off and running. For a while.

All of the characters and elements were poised for the race to the finish line known as The End. Then the Muse whispered "catch me if you can!" Another bout of a.k.a..

Months later I went to Sedona, Arizona to attend a lecture by one of my favorite authors, Graham Hancock. Colleague Dan Baldwin came up from Mesa for the event. We wiled away the hours before the presentation by enjoying the wonder of Cathedral Rock and Oak Creek.

Staying an extra night in Sedona, I fired up the laptop and declared, "Okay, Muse, gotcha! Let's finish this!" That's when the aforementioned "intruder character" wanted to literally be dropped into the scene. Sedona magic? Who knows? But three days later, I got to type "The End."