Sunday, November 22, 2015

Change Your Life: Be a Lifelong Learner

“I'm a constant learner. You need to be a constant student
because things change and you have to change and grow.
And I emphasize the word 'grow’”
(Zig Ziglar)

To know is to arrive; to ask questions is to embark on a quest. People whose lives are characterized by a question mark (?) rather than a period (!), who look for learning opportunities everywhere they go, are generally joyful, are more creative, enjoy better relationships, and attain higher levels of satisfaction in life.

To be a lifelong learner is both fun and functional, and all we need to travel along that path is a humble heart and a curious mind. Every person we meet – a student or a teacher, a friend or a stranger – can teach us something; each experience holds within it an important lesson; in every moment is a message waiting to be discovered. When we embrace the spirit of inquiry and curiosity, we embrace life. How wonderful it is that this life is an inexhaustible source of wonders. How exciting to learn that the excitement of learning can last a lifetime. Even young Jesus “listening to [the Jewish teachers] and asking questions” and they in return “we amazed at his intelligent answers” (Luke 2:46-47).

Don’t be in ignorance,
Open your mind and heart to learning.
Lord, Give Us Today Our Daily Idea(s)

Thursday, November 19, 2015

Change Your Life: Perceive Hardship as Temporary

Whatever comes, this too shall pass away.”
(Ella Wheeler Wilcox)

Our life is not free from sorrow and suffering. Even the happiest person in the world experiences sadness, disappointment, anger, and frustration. The difference between happy and unhappy people is not whether they experience painful emotions – everyone does – but how they approach these emotions and how they interpret their experiences.

People who are unhappy tend to believe that painful emotions are here to stay – which, of course, they are more likely to if this is their expectation. By contrast, happy people know that painful emotions – like all emotions – are temporary, and this expectation tends to liberate them from their unpleasant experience.

When we choose to perceive painful experiences as they truly are – as temporary and fleeting – then we allow them to take their natural course. Just as these emotions arrived naturally, so they will naturally depart.  

Don’t perceive hardship as permanent,
Perceive hardship as temporary.
Lord, Give Us Today Our Daily Idea(s)

 Reference: Choose the Life You Want: 101 Ways to Create You Own Road to Happiness by Tal Ben-Shahar, PhD (New York: The Experiment, 2012) Buy this book!)

Tuesday, November 17, 2015

Change Your Life: Focus on Strengths and Abilities

It’s abilities, not disabilities that count
(Peter Drucker)

Individuals who invest in their strengths are happier and more successful. This does not mean that we should ignore our weaknesses but, rather, that our primary focus ought to be that which we are naturally good at. In the words of leadership expert Peter Drucker, “Only when you operate from strengths, can you achieve true excellence.”

The kind of questions that I have to ask myself if I am to discover my strengths are: What are my strengths? What am I naturally good at? Where do my talents reside? What are my unique abilities? These questions are significant for choosing general life goals (being a writer, becoming a teacher, and so on) as well as for choosing to apply my strengths in the immediate future (prepare a sermon for my students, hone my creative skills, plan a vacation, and so on).

Again, it’s true that we should not ignore our weaknesses – we need to learn to write, do basic arithmetic, and acquire some skills at work just to get by in the world; at the same time we must not ignore our strengths – and invest most of our efforts cultivating our talents and abilities. We need to invest in our weaknesses so that we can survive in the world; we need to invest in our strengths so that we can thrive.

Take some time to think about your strengths, those things that you are good at, those areas where your talents reside. Once you identify your strengths, find ways to use them more often in your daily life. 

Don’t dwell on weaknesses and deficiencies
Focus on strengths and abilities.
Lord, Give Us Today Our Daily Idea(s)

1. Choose the Life You Want: 101 Ways to Create You Own Road to Happiness by Tal Ben-Shahar, PhD (New York: The Experiment, 2012) Buy this book!
2. Now, Discover Your Strengths by D.O. Clifton and M. Buckingham (New York: Free Press, 2001)

Thursday, November 12, 2015

Change Your Life: Be Hopeful and Optimistic

a movie
Tal Ben-Shahar in his book Choose the Life You Want writes that until 1954, running the mile under four minutes was considered a physical impossibility. Doctors and scientists all agreed that the four-minute mark represented the physiological limit of human ability. The best runners in the world confirmed the experts’ view by closing in on the four-minute mile but never bettering it. Runners spoke of the “brick wall,” an impenetrable barrier that existed at the four-minute mark.

Despite the prevailing conventional wisdom, Roger Bannister, a medical student at Oxford University, believed that he could run a mile in under four minutes. He was dismissed by other athletes and the scientific community as detached, unrealistic. On May 6, 1954, Roger Bannister broke the world record for the mile, running the distance in three minutes and fifty-nine seconds. The impossible had become reality! But there is more: only six weeks after Bannister’s achievement, John Landy, an Australian runner, ran the mile in three minutes and fifty-eight seconds. A year later, three runners broke the four-minute barrier in a single race. Since 1954, the four-minute mile has been surpassed thousands of times. The impenetrable barrier, it turned out, was a product of the mind – and it was broken by the mind.

The lesson to be learned from this story is that our beliefs – whether we are optimistic (I can!) or pessimistic (I can’t…) – play a significant role in creating our reality. This does not mean that we can throw reality out the window and that everything that we hope and wish for will come true, but it does imply that being hopeful and optimistic about life and believe in one selves can make it happen. George Bernard Shaw once says, “You see things; and you say, ‘Why?’ But I dream things that never were; and I say, ‘Why not?’” Where do your beliefs limit you? What barriers can you overcome on your way to fulfilling your dreams?

Don’t be a pessimist,
Be hopeful and optimistic.
Lord, Give Us Today Our Daily Idea(s)

Monday, November 9, 2015

Change Your Life: Life is Short... Move On

Worry never robs tomorrow of its sorrow,
It only saps today of its joy” (Leo Buscaglia)

Worry can serve an important purpose: If we worry about something today, we can take action to avert trouble in the future. Most of the time, however, we worry about what is beyond our control, or about things that are trivial and unimportant. Whenever I worry, I remind myself to step back and ask myself whether my worry serves a purpose. If it does, then I should take action! If, however, it does not, then I need to label my preoccupation as unnecessary worry, and move on to other more useful pursuits.

Although it may be difficult initially to shift my focus away from worry, I know that over time I will gain better control over what preoccupies me and learn to move on when I engage in futile concern. Life is short. The question for all of us, young and old, is how long it is going to take us to realize this. Whether we like it or not, the clock is ticking and our time here on earth is limited. Much in the world is worth doing and worth contemplating; it would be such a shame to waste time and effort on futile concerns. Make the most of the time you have!

Don’t worry,
Life is short… Move on.
Lord, Give Us Today Our Daily Idea(s)

1. Choose the Life You Want: 101 Ways to Create You Own Road to Happiness by Tal Ben-Shahar, PhD (New York: The Experiment, 2012) Buy this book!
2. Existantial Physhotherapy by I.D. Yalom (New York: Basic Books, 1980) P.s.: I don’t agreed in existentialist thinking.

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