Archives for October 2007

Spiritual wisdom

Is too much stuff really a problem? Or is it more the ratio of time and energy we spend acquiring things to the amount of time and energy we spend using those things that counts.

Here is a little something from Jagad Guru Chris Butler:

“In his book Small Is Beautiful, noted British economist E. F. Schumacher wrote:

Too much stuffInsights of wisdom … enable us to see the hollowness and fundamental unsatisfactoriness of a life devoted primarily to the pursuit of material ends, to the neglect of the spiritual. Such a life necessarily sets man against man and nation against nation, because man’s needs are infinite and infinitude can be achieved only in the spiritual realm, never in the material.*

It is a fact that no matter how much sense gratification a person gets, he will never be satisfied. Material food, material things, material sense gratification cannot satisfy the atma (spirit soul). Just as the body needs material food, so the spirit soul needs spiritual food. To try to satisfy one’s spiritual craving with material things leads to endless consumption, greed, envy, violence, and war. Western people have as much sense gratification as one could ever want, yet they are not satisfied. Why? Because they are spiritually empty.”

Jagad Guru Chris Butler – wisdom in daily life

© 2007 Science of Identity Foundation

* E. F. Schumacher, Small Is Beautiful: Economics as if People Mattered (New York: Harper and Row, 1973), p. 38

“Things” are highly overrated. It’s not that we should not want things, but craving them and having to have them and spending so much of our life energy pursuing them is really a waste of time. The main use of things is to give us life energy, yet so many things only sap it up.

Maybe less focus on things we don’t have and more on those we do, would do the trick.  Perhaps it is the ratio of time and energy we spend acquiring things (and fixing and maintaining them, of course) to the amount of time and energy we spend using those things that counts.  Maybe we should acquire fewer things and use those things we do have more.

Image courtesy of Bill Longshaw /

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No, this is not a parenting post, although we did call our youngest one “The Poopasaurus” during the first six months of her lives.  In fact, this is an article of gratitude, based on personal experience.

Yikes!  While momentarily distracted by a bird flying over head, I was shocked by the loud “thud!” that wallopped my windshield.  Could it be hostile artillery from an invading Martian army?  Could it be that the sky was finally falling as Chicken Little had predicted?  Was the Jolly Green Giant eating a sandwich overhead and being just a tad to careless for my comfort?

Poopified!After nearly a quarter of a second (but seeming much longer), it dawned on me where the huge splatter of green goo came from (not peas from the Jolly Green Giant’s sandwich, I assure you).  I should note that the carefree and obviously not-quite-civilized bird did not hit my roof with his generosity, nor the hood of my car.  Nor the top, bottom, right side or center of my windshield, for that matter.  He dropped his gift right square in front of my face.  Point blank at twelve o-clock.

As the earth-shattering thud reverberated through my mind, it struck me just how powerful that birdy-poop was.  I mean, that certainly was a wallop.  And the obvious question also struck me:

“Just how badly would I have been injured if there had not been a windshield?  What if I had been standing in a field contemplating the bees in the flowers and with no warning whatsoever my head had been poopified?”

Of course, I am immensely grateful for the inventor of the windshield.  What a marvelous device. And all the folks who built this one. Good job, guys.  They saved me from having to learn the hard way the answer to my question about the birds and the bees and the bird poop.

I’ll bet you take your windshield for granted. I’ll bet you see right through it…and when you can’t see right through it, you probably have some choice words and splash some colored fluid across the surface to wipe away anything you can see.

But your windshield is like a guardian angel – not just because they are both invisible unless you look very hard – but because they both protect you.

Unless, of course, you don’t believe in windshields.

But even if you don’t see the windshield, and even if you don’t want to see the windshield, it is worth being grateful for it. And have you giving a moment to think about all the things you do see and want to see, much more obvious than a windshield, that also deserve your gratitude?

Seat belts come to mind. Tires. But also garden hoses. Ovens. Hats. Let’s not forget rubber boots when the sea level rises in the puddles. Telephones. Belts. Oh, so many items to be grateful for.

Hmm.  I wonder if there is a market for anti-bird umbrellas…

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It’s the Climb

There is always a way to climb up to greater happiness.  The choice is ours whether we take those steps.

“There is no key to happiness, only a ladder.”

Keep climbingSaa-aay, was Hector Lara Lahoz reading my book when he spoke those wise words.  My book uses the analogy of the Great Wall of Misery and building a Stairway To Heaven to climb over it.

Ladder or stairway, it matters little.  As Miley Cyrus put it in her hit song, “It’s the climb” that counts.

There’s always gonna be another mountain I’m always gonna wanna make it move Always gonna be a uphill battle Sometimes I’m gonna have to lose
Ain’t about how fast I get there Ain’t about what’s waiting on the other side It’s the climb

The fact is that happiness is what we make of it.  Some people have a little of it, some have a lot.  Every one of us can create more than we have now.  It’s just a matter of climbing that ladder or that staircase or that mountain trail or whatever path is heading upwards toward happiness and fulfillment.

We choose to climb every time we choose to smile.

We choose to climb every time we feel grateful for all the little things that we might otherwise choose to take for granted.

We choose to climb every time we shut off the TV or put down the book to call a friend or do something more active.

We choose to climb every time we decide to let a sharp remark just slide off our backs – whether that remark was intended or not.

We choose to climb every time we forgive somebody (including ourselves).

We choose to climb every time we go to bed on time and actually get the sleep we need.

We choose to climb every time we choose to climb, because everything we do is a choice.

Make the decision to climb your ladder, or stairway, to happiness today.

See also my happiness self-help book.

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Warren Buffet talks about friendship

Financial icon Warren Buffet talks about life, success and most of all… friendship.

Those Maclean’s Interviews certainly can be enlightening.  Here is an excerpt from a recent interview with the famous investment guru, Warren Buffet.

best friends, horse and dog

Q: And personal relationships, you’ve had great ones in your life.

A: Yeah, I’ve been very lucky. 

Q: …your family, your kids, closest associates.  Is that, again, something that you’ve had to work especially hard on, or have you been just lucky. 

A: No, that flows, basically, and you’re lucky.  And of course I’ve got 77 years so you make more friends as life goes along.  I was just at a group of 41 of them last week; we meet every couple of years.  If you’ve got great friends you’re not going to be an unhappy guy. 

Friendship is indeed a key ingredient to happiness and success.  Support, social interaction, a sense of belonging. Human beings like you and me are social animals.  We live in family units, and live in tribes. 

In the old days, we lived in just a single tribe, all together.  Today, we still live in tribes, just not in a single, exclusive tribe.  We call them neighbourhoods, workplaces, church communities, teams, etc.  Overlapping tribes of multiple different types of people and types of relationships.

And though we might want our own “me time”, we also need each other and each other’s support.




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Living religion

People tend to read what they want into religious texts. I want to read gratitude into them. Here is why.

I just read a fascinating interview with A.J. Jacobs, a “Jewish” agnostic who decided to live the bible quite literally for a year, then write a book about it.  Here are just a couple excerpts from the interview:

Trying to follow the Bible, you learn how much you sin during a day.  It’s really quite shocking.  You tell so many lies just trying to keep a conversation going….As a parent, I couldn’t believe how much I lied: “Oh, Oh, the toy store’s closed today, we can’t go there,” or, “The TV’s broken.”

Here’s another…

The bible is really focused on giving thanks, and that was a huge lesson for me.  By the end, I was an extreme thanker–I was thanking when the elevator came on time.  It’s a great way to live, to focus on the hundreds of things that go right during the day rather than the three or four things that went wrong.

Most of us read what we want to out of the Bible, or any other holy text.

Ever wonder why some Muslims will tell you that Islam is a religion of peace, while others commit atrocities in the name of Allah?  Don’t blame it on the holy text, but on what different people want to read from it.

Ever wonder why some people love Jesus, the “Prince of Peace”, while other teach their kids to fear God? Don’t blame it on the holy text, but on what different people want to read from it.

For my part, I like A.J. Jacobs’ approach.  Give thanks.  Feel the gratitude.  I can’t help but feel that this is the way God would like me to live, rather than wasting our days hating His other children. Most of us spend far too much time wishing for things we don’t have, and nowhere near enough time appreciating all that we do have.

I kind of think our lives are a bit like this Bible verse, Mark 6:41-43loaves and fishes

41 Taking the five loaves and the two fish and looking up to heaven, he gave thanks and broke the loaves. Then he gave them to his disciples to set before the people. He also divided the two fish among them all.

42 They all ate and were satisfied,

43 and the disciples picked up twelve basketfuls of broken pieces of bread and fish.

We have all we want.  We have all we need.  And if we would just be more appreciative, we would feel like we always have more than we need.





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Reality versus perception – who are we to judge?

We are not always who we appear to be. In fact, even to people close at hand, we might seem to be different than we really are. So who are we to judge others?

I have to share this little story from my friend Thea Westra’s blog:

I want to share with you Erin’s philosophy statement at the Brockovich blog, written by Erin Brockovich. It is so inspiring and affirming, as is Erin. She shares the following message better than I would have said it.

When you visit her blog site, it is also worth the time to read her personal account of her life, in her bio.

“People ask me all the time what I think and what my opinion is. Well, here are a few of my thoughts and beliefs:

Everyone believes, because of the movie, that I am an environmental activist. I am often referred to as the environmentalist with cleavage. I do care a great deal about the environment but my real work and my greatest challenge is trying to overcome deceits that end up jeopardizing public health and safety.”

Read more:

How many times has it happened to you that you were misrepresented by people around you? Perhaps people think you are cold, but in reality you are just shy. Or perhaps they think you are being selfish when you are protecting somebody else’s secrets or honour or friendship.

judgeLet’s turn that question around and ask ourselves how often we judge others incorrectly. Of course, we can’t answer that question. But rumors abound and we might tend to believe them.

Even more so with people we know less well, such as other people in our workplace or school or neighborhood. Or celebrities or political leaders. We might be tempted to believe every hearsay that gossipers spread around about them. Or we might be inclined to believe carefully crafted images that bear no resemblance to their real lives.

The bottom line is that we know so little about people in the spotlight, and perhaps less than we think about people closer to home. In fact, sometimes we don’t even know ourselves all that well. The less we judge, the better.

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