Making Life Better by James Vandenburg
Table of Contents
1. Well... Duh!?
2. Now, That's A Choice You Could Make!
3. Lessons From Lucy
4. A Closed Mouth Gathers No Feet
5. Roadsigns, Dashboards and Dummy Lights
6. Forgiveness: A Double-Edged Human Need
7. Turning Jell-O Into Inner-Peace
9. Thought Experiments
Excerpts: (Note: Use the link at the bottom of this page to read the entire first chapter)
Forgiveness doesn't ask us to dishonor our painful feelings by not feeling them; nor does it ask us to be dishonest about them. Forgiveness doesn't ask us to neglect our sense of loss or to disrespect our very real need to grieve. Forgiveness doesn't ask us to ignore our need for healing by numbing ourselves out or shutting ourselves down... Instead, forgiveness is the means through which these painful experiences lose their power to define our future.
Every experience from my past was in process of being reinterpreted; everything that I understood about my present was being translated and re-framed; all of my hopes and dreams for the future were busy being re-thought and re-cast in light of this new-found enlightenment. I was ecstatic and my brain wanted to do its little Happy Dance of a Thousand Yays. There's no “Well... duh” in the Happy Dance of a Thousand Yays.
Our ability to show compassion says absolutely nothing about someone's deserving or undeserving. It only reveals the depth of our own internal resources. Who someone else is, or isn't has nothing to do with compassion. Compassion is always about who we are and what we bring with us into our relationships and interactions with others.
Her answer was of course a gentle, albeit meddlesome, attempt to guide me in a somewhat different direction. Having underestimated my apparent commitment to delusion, she reasoned that perhaps – if I thought about it real hard – there just may be some other, healthier and better-serving options available to me than what I was proposing... But that was just a little more mature than I cared to be at the time.
Abraham Lincoln once said, “People are as happy as they have a mind to be.” The first time I read this, it really pissed me off.
… in the final analysis, when we're juggling between “Nothing ventured, nothing gained” on one side and, “Better safe than sorry” on the other, it's important for us to know that we've made plenty of room for “To thine own self be true.”
Even the universal experience of human loneliness, ultimately, has nothing to do with the number of people in our lives and everything to do with the feeling that there is no one in our lives who truly understands.
The journey of a thousand miles may well begin with a single step, as Lao Tzu so wisely spoke, but a thousand miles is still a heck of a long journey – especially when we're walking... uphill... barefoot... in the snow.
… every broken promise cuts deeply into our self-worth just as every excuse chips away at our self-honesty. But ignoring the honest realities of change, especially those involving our self-understanding and awareness, is to remain committed to dishonesty and in the end, no one else can be true to us for us... Simplicity with our words means applying our tools of self-awareness such that we are not only true to our word, but that our word is also true to us.
… at a very fundamental and experiential level, the universe is exactly the way we believe it to be – specifically, because we do.
A big obstacle for most of us rests in just how often we seem to only be able to define what we want in terms of what we don't want. What do we want for dinner? Not chicken. What do we want in a spouse? Not a cheater. Some of us have become quite accomplished at knowing, understanding and carefully articulating thousands and thousands of things that we specifically do not want. So much so that, to a casual observer, it might appear that what we really want is to complain a lot.
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