The Creator gathered all of creation together and said, “I want to hide something from the humans until they are ready for it. It is the realization that they create their own reality.”
The eagle said, “Give it to me, I will take it to the moon.” The Creator said, “No. One day they will go to there and find it.”
The salmon said, “I will hide it in the bottom of the ocean.” “No. They will go there, too.”
The buffalo said, “I will bury it on the great plains.” The Creator said, “They will cut into the skin of the earth and find it even there.”
“James, earn this… earn it.” Dying words of Capt. John Miller to Private James Ryan in the film, “Saving Private Ryan”
Officially, Memorial Day in the United States is a day for remembering and honoring all Americans who died in any war.
Unfortunately, Memorial Day weekend also marks the beginning of the summer holiday, with people focusing on shopping, family gatherings, picnics and sporting events. So we sometimes forget the real meaning behind the day.
Can we learn to be optimistic?
I believe so, and researchers agree.
But it will take some undoing of early programming.
The average fourth grade child has heard the words “no, you can’t do that” over 70,000 times. So we have to work to overcome that negative imprint.
Not only are optimists happier than pessimists, research shows they are healthier, live longer and make more money.
Today I’d like to offer some historical anecdotes about all the times pessimists were wrong. Hopefully it will give you more inspiration to hold onto your dreams in spite of the naysayers:
For starters, remember how absolutely certain people used to be that the earth was flat!
In 1847, Dr. Ignaz Semmelweis was the head of Vienna General Hospital’s First Obstetrical Clinic, which at the time had a mortality rate of 10-35%! When he suggested doctors and mid-wives wash their hands before attending mothers and newborns, he was ridiculed by the medical authorities of the time, and fired by the hospital that employed him. In 1851 he moved to Hungary where his theory was accepted and hand-washing reduced mortality to less than 1%!
“Don’t ever let somebody tell you that you can’t do something. You got a dream, you got to protect it. When people can’t do something themselves, they want to tell you that you can’t do it. If you want something, go get it. Period.” Will Smith, actor
Can pessimism be helpful?
I think not.
Not that there’s anything wrong with critical thinking and trying to be aware of potential obstacles.
But I’m talking about people who are negative for the sake of being negative. Because they have not succeeded, they don’t want anyone else to succeed either.
AN EYE-OPENING COMMENT
I like to increase my odds of success by being a thorough researcher. So when I was working on The Wind Is My Mother, I took a class on how to get a non-fiction book published and did absolutely everything suggested. It worked.
“Great Spirit, help me never to judge another until I have walked in his moccasins.” Native American proverb
Years ago, my friend Carol stopped at a gas station while driving through Oklahoma. Just as her car was approaching the pump, she was cut off by a big RV that pulled in ahead of her.
Carol was pissed and found another pump. When she went inside to pay, the woman who had cut her off was standing in front of her in line. Carol resolved to give her a dirty look when she turned around.
But her world was turned upside down when she heard the woman say to the cashier,
A young Native American man was talking to his grandfather about how he felt.
He said, “I feel as if I have two wolves fighting in my heart.
“One wolf is the vengeful, angry, violent one.
“The other wolf is the loving, compassionate one.”
The grandson asked him, “Which wolf will win the fight in my heart?”
“An eye for an eye makes the whole world blind.” Gandhi
I’m a big fan of peaceful social activism. Having marched in the 1970s in opposition to the Vietnam War, I’m proud that my generation helped end it.
We have even more opportunity today, with the advent of online petitions that are getting lots of results, fast.
UGLY SOCIAL ACTIVISM
But there is also un-social activism that causes me concern. I’m thinking specifically of Spike Lee’s ill-advised re-tweet of the supposed address of George Zimmerman, who shot and killed Trayvon Martin.
It’s not hard to learn how to meditate. The secret is to find the technique that works for you.
Psychologists estimate the average person has at least 50,000 thoughts a day and 90% are the same as yesterday. Meditation is simply stilling the chatter of our mind to come to a place of relaxation and peace.
Here are a dozen methods for you to try. Start with five minutes once or twice a day and work up to 15-20 minutes.
Meditation is perhaps the easiest way to expand your mind, other than using drugs.
I played around with LSD and marijuana on my college weekends and it always gave me a good high. But I reached a point where I didn’t want to rely on something artificial to make me feel good. I wanted to feel good on my own. So I discovered meditation.
My meditation path was brought with ups and downs, which I’ve discussed elsewhere. But now that I’ve settled into a meaningful practice that’s the right one for me, it works like a charm.
Here are the ways it can benefit your mind, body and spirit.Continue reading
Last spring as I was walking around the lake near my home, I came upon a family of swans by the shore: two beautiful, huge adults and 10 little baby swans. Ten!
[Yes, I know they’re called cygnets but that word isn’t cute enough to do them justice].
The two parents were putting up a very loud squawk and, as I got closer, I saw that one of the babies had become stranded on the shore side of a big log and the parents were encouraging it to climb over.
The baby kept trying to get over the log but the log was too big and the baby too small. So the parents took turns stepping up on the log, turning around and squatting in the hopes the baby would grab on to them and be pulled out. After about a dozen attempts, they succeeded.
The irony was that if any of them had looked to the baby’s left, they would have seen it could easily have swum around the log to freedom! But they were all too focused on the problem right in front of them to look for other solutions.
It struck me that this was a perfect example of the benefits of meditation. Stop, take a break, relax, regroup and look around for a fresh perspective. That usually allows inspiration and new ideas to flow in.
Traditionally, April 1 is “April Fool’s Day,” an opportunity to play harmless and fun jokes and tricks on others. Frankly, I’ve never been a fan.
Not much is known about the origin of this holiday. One popular origin tale is that when the Gregorian Calendar moved the first day of the year from April 1 to January 1, not everyone got the message, or simply chose to ignore it.
After all, there was no internet then to spread the word. Those who continued to view April 1 as the first day of the year were called “Fools”.
But this story doesn’t hold water because the history of pranking on April 1 started long before the Gregorian Calendar came along in 1582, and it also has traditions around the world.
Another theory is that the timing of a day of pranks is tied to the arrival of spring, when nature “fools” humankind with fickle weather. That explanation makes sense to me, particularly this year.
The desiderata is a much loved poem written by American writer Max Ehrmann in 1927. Largly unknown during Ehrmann’s lifetime, It became well-known after being found at Adlai Stevenson’s deathbed in 1965.
In response to losing the majority in the Canadian Federal election in 1872, Prime Minister Pierre Trudeau quoted the Desiderata in reassuring the nation that “the universe is unfolding as it should.”
While the writing may seem stilted by today’s standards, the sentiments expressed are profound. And our lives will be better if we embrace them.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, an estimated 5.4 million children ages 4 to 17 in the U.S. have been diagnosed at some time with ADHD [attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder ], and 66 percent of those with current ADHD take medication to control the condition.
Is ADHD perhaps over-diagnosed? Might Ritalin be over-prescribed? In my humble opinion, yes. Is there something to be done about it? Yes.
“Sleep is the golden chain that ties health and our bodies together.” Thomas Dekker
There may be no better way to improve health and energy, and reduce stress, than getting a good night’s sleep. But that seems to be more and more difficult to achieve in our 24/7 world. Prescription drugs and over the counter sleep aids are plentiful but may not be our healthiest choice.
Counting sheep has never worked for me, but here are 25 tips that will contribute to a good night’s sleep, without side effects:Continue reading
Are you living up to your full potential?
“Everyone has inside of him a piece of good news. The good news is that you don’t know how great you can be! How much you can love! What you can accomplish! And what your potential is!” Anne Frank
One of my earliest childhood memories is of sitting in my second grade class at Our Lady Help of Christians School in Brooklyn, New York during a lesson on the human body.
During the class, my teacher said something that knocked my socks off! It was that human beings only use 10% of the capacity of their brains [that was wrong; it’s now understood that virtually every part of the brain is active most of the time].
But when I heard that statement, I made a decision right then and there to get to using 100% of my brain power in my life. That declaration led me on a circuitous exploration of personal growth, alternative lifestyles and spiritual paths, much to my parents’ chagrin.
[quote]“In gentleness there is great strength. Power most of the time is a very quiet thing.” Sun Bear[/quote]
It’s President’s Day, and this is an election year, so my thoughts have gone to considering what makes a good leader. And I wonder if we really know in this country what a good leader is. Or, more importantly, do our own leaders know.
Here are some Native American teachings about leadership:
There is an old saying that, when the student is ready, the teacher appears. It certainly was true for me. I’m frequently asked how I got involved with the Native American spiritual path. The short answer is: “I asked the universe.”
During college, I experimented with the usual recreational drugs and had an epiphany one day on a hillside in the Santa Monica Mountains.
High on mescaline, I saw a mountain breathe and immediately knew two things:Continue reading
[quote]“An eye for an eye only ends up making the whole world blind.” Mahatma Gandhi[/quote]
Any life coach will tell you not to watch the news because it will just bring you down. Salesmen know not to watch it in the morning; it gets your day off to a bad start. So I don’t follow the news closely, although I do scan headlines to have a general idea of what’s going on in the world.
But in the past 24 hours some things came to my attention I couldn’t ignore. I watched Eve Ensler’s riveting talk on TED.com in which she spoke of the atrocities against women in warring third world countries. Then I saw George Clooney’s film, “Three Kings” which, under the guise of entertainment, made a powerful statement about atrocities against the people of Iraq by Saddam’s Royal Guard.
There’s so much more, but I don’t need to list it all; we all are aware of the inhumanity going on around the world. The question is: what’s to be done about it?
“You can never learn less; you can only learn more. The reason I know so much is because I have made so many mistakes.” Buckminster Fuller
When my niece, Kate was ready to start kindergarten, she had to first go through an interview consisting of ten questions to assess her social skills. Nine of her answers were deemed “correct” but the one she was marked wrong for shocked me.
Question: “What do you do if you break something?”
Kate’s honest reply: “You tell the truth.”