Thursday, May 29, 2008

Importance of Staying Positive

We can choose our perspective. Our choices in life will sometimes seem mundane and other times they will seem not to be choices at all. We can choose what we are going to feel or how events will affect our mood. Hope provides a golden paved road to a brighter future while negativity leads us down a path of despair. Our own negativity, or the negativity around us, can very quickly sink into us, undermine our determination, destroy our ingenuity and leave us in the depths of hopelessness. In all that we do, it is incumbent upon us to expend our energy on the positive, seek out ways to cling to the better part.

It seems odd that negativity seems to be more contagious than the positive. When we consider our news broadcasts, they spend over eighty percent of the time describing the bad things in our world, 10% on the weather and if we’re lucky a feel-good story will slip in. Is the world that imbalanced? Is there really that much more about our lives that is bad? Is there an 80/20 split? I do not think this is so.

A couple years ago, I cited Charles Swindoll’s thoughts on attitude. I think it applies today as well.
“The longer I live, the more I realize the impact of attitude on life. Attitude, to me, is more important than facts. It is more important than the past, than education, than money, than circumstances, than failures, than successes, than what other people think or say or do. It is more important than appearance, giftedness or skill. It will make or break a company…a church…a home. The remarkable thing is we have a choice every day regarding the attitude we will embrace for that day. We cannot change our past. We cannot change the inevitable. The only thing we can do is play on the one string we have, and that is our attitude…I am convinced that life is 10% what happens to me and 90% how I react to it. And so it is with you . . . we are in charge of our Attitudes."
~ Charles Swindoll
The one thing we control, the one thing over which we maintain complete jurisdiction, is our attitude. The strength that can be gained through employing a positive attitude is significant enough to pull us through most situations. Seeking out ways to hold onto the positive attitude can be difficult but it can be done. Our trip down Positive Attitude Road starts out slowly because we are unfamiliar with the territory but it gets easier as we learn the way. Here is a few things that can make the trip easier:
  1. Be thankful. Expressing gratitude helps us recognize the positive and reinforces a positive attitude.

  2. Smile. You know the idiom, “fake ‘till you make it”? Well, it works with attitude as well. Smile at strangers on the street. Smile at children – they’ll always smile back. The power of a smile is extremely contagious.

  3. Use positive affirmations daily. Self-speak can be very destructive. We’re constantly talking to ourselves. Everything from “I’m too fat” to the sudden blurted “idiot” does damage to our attitude. We need to mold the self-speak so it becomes a powerful positive force in our lives. Replace the negative statements with positive affirmations. Doing this, however, will require preparation. Write down three positive things to say to yourself. Carry this paper with you and say them to yourself whenever you catch yourself saying something negative about you.

  4. Journal your thoughts. Writing is an excellent way to release frustrations, anger, hurts and fears. Holding these emotions within us does nothing but damage our attitude. Get them out, put them on paper, release them. It might even make you feel better to burn them once your journal is full. So, if you worry that the ugly words will come back to haunt you, burn the book.

  5. Release the anger. Let it go. Anger is very destructive. Holding onto anger hurts only one person: the one holding onto the anger. Anger eats at us until there is no room for anything else. Anger will not cohabitate with any other emotion. Where there is anger, there is no place for anything else.

  6. Be flexible. If we go through life with a fixed plan, we’ll be disappointed 99.99% of the time. Allow the unexpected to become positive. Seek out the good aspect of bad situations. If you cannot, always remember tomorrow is a new day.

  7. Avoid stress. Stressful situations can be fertile soil for negative feelings. Eliminate as much stress from your life as you can.
"A positive attitude may not solve all your problems, but it will annoy enough people to make it worth the effort."
~ Herm Albright

Tuesday, May 27, 2008

Strength and Longevity

From Plutarch's Life of Pericles:

For this reason are the works of Pericles all the more to be wondered at; they were created in a short time for all time. Each one of them, in its beauty, was even then and at once antique; but in the freshness of its vigor it is, even to the present day, recent and newly wrought. Such is the bloom of perpetual newness, as it were, upon these works of his, which makes them ever to look untouched by time, as though the unfaltering breath of an ageless spirit had been infused into them.

Originally built as a temple to their patron Goddess and a monument to Pericles' great power, the Parthenon stands out as signature Greek Architecture and a symbol of Athens’ significance in history. Though in a state of disrepair, it remains a strong presence on the Athenian Acropolis. It housed Athena’s treasury and was the central point of worship to her, reflecting Athens’ military supremacy.

When we look at such grand achievements as the Parthenon, the hanging gardens of Babylon, the great Pyramids of Egypt and South America, we are witness of the awe inspiring greatness man can achieve. Sometimes, thousands of years later we know the names of those involved in the creation of these monuments - Pericles hired the great Architects Iktinos and Kallicrates, and sculptor Pheidias. Most of the time, we are left to speculate about the purpose of the memorial, conjecture and guesswork pave the way to understanding.

Thousands of years and mankind is still on this blue marble trying to leave its mark. The greatness of yesteryear crumbles as time steadily marches forward. What are we leaving in our wake? Will we leave monuments of our greatness or an endless sprawl of pavement? Will our children's children look at our great works as wonderful expressions or destroy them to make way for progress?

The nation’s accidental death rate has been gradually creeping higher and is up 12 percent compared to the lowest rate on record, in 1992, according to a report released Thursday by the National Safety Council. [whole story here]

  • 18,807 people died from some form of falling accident in 2004.
  • 774 of those falling deaths involved a bed, chair or other furniture.
  • Lifetime odds of dying from some kind of falling accident is 1:200.
  • Lifetime odds of dying from falling accidents that involve a bed, chair of other furniture is 1:4,870

Friday, May 23, 2008

Even the Smartest among us . . .

"There is not the slightest indication that [nuclear energy] will ever be obtainable. It would mean that the atom would have to be shattered at will."
~ Albert Einstein


I think it is human tendency to place others who we deem as great on a pedestal, believing everything they posit as absolute truth. We make them near unto gods, infallible. We do not question their reason, we do not try to move past their disease. This is a dangerous place to rest, limiting our knowledge to the lives of others. We should be willing to learn from yet question everything even our greatest heroes might have to offer.

Is this a dangerous place to tread? Is it safer to believe? Without stretching our limits, we will not fall. If I never try to take the first step, I will not stumble and cannot fall. Is failure a such bad experience?

Tuesday, May 20, 2008

Where Do You Want To Go?

Alice came to a fork in the road. "Which road do I take?" she asked.
"Where do you want to go?" responded the Cheshire cat.
"I don't know," Alice answered.
"Then," said the cat, "it doesn't matter."
~Lewis Carroll, Alice in Wonderland

What do you want to do with your life? Where do you want to be? Why aren't you happy? What will make you happy? So many questions that are seemingly unimportant lead to answers that build a foundation upon which our life's highway is created. We cannot be happy if we aren't sure what will make us so. Many people flounder in their lives never really doing anything. If we do not have an understanding of what we're after, we will never gain more than what simply gets in our way as we wander through life aimlessly.

Incredibly, this is where many will realize that it was all for naught. The onset of what we have termed to be mid-life crisis comes when we realize our wanderings have been haphazard, leading us far from what really brings us joy.

Instead of accepting what will eventually become of us, we will find greater joy in determining the correct path to follow. We cannot know what that path is until we know where it is we want to end up. Introspection and deep, significant planning are only part of the process. Maintaining a grasp on that reality, stopping and taking inventory, repositioning ourselves relevant to our desire and pressing forward with full purpose - these are what we must do if we are going to gain access to the better part.