Monday, October 27, 2008

Productive Thought

When I think, I try to think productively. And, when I don't think productively, I simply try not to think.

Productive thinking is a choice that we can either embrace or reject. It is no more or no less than just the right thought at just the right time. The Holy Spirit, the Source of all productive thought, gently places such thoughts into our minds to promote the greater good; to stimulate growth, progression, innovation, and success within our lives and the lives of others. Think productively by being aware of these thoughts and choosing to use them for growth opportunities. Through productive thought, you can establish and achieve productive goals. You can substantially grow your levels of emotional, physical, and spiritual health.

Destructive thought, which is forcefully driven into the mind by the ego, exists as a barrier to productive thought. Such thought, which is also a choice, fosters negativity, stress, regression, and failure within our lives. Thinking destructively restricts us from achieving our goals. Train yourself to think productively. When your mind thinks productively, continue thinking. When your mind thinks destructively, choose to cease your thinking. Simply be still.

Think in moderation; caution yourself to not think excessively. Excessive thought can prompt monotonous thought, which ultimately yields destructive thought. What once was productive thought can turn into destructive thought in an instant. This Truth may be better understood by comparing the mental exercise of thinking to physical exercise. Exercising in excess can be detrimental not only to the body, but also to the mind. When you exercise physically, you rest your muscles to allow them an opportunity to grow. If you engage in a productive exercise routine, to maximize the effect you will allow yourself an exercise free moment to grow your muscles. You do not immediately go through subsequent routines without rest.

The same is true with your mind. You must rest your thought to grow your mind. You may be thinking the same thoughts as you were in the productive process, but excessive repetition will slow and eventually halt growth. When you rest your productive thought, allow yourself to be thoughtless. Simply be aware. Relax your mind without thought the same as you relax your body without movement. Thoughtless moments are just as powerful for the mind as exercise free moments are for the body. Allow yourself the opportunity to grow. Choose productive thought. Then, choose to be still.

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Red Luxury Sedan

This morning a coworker entered my office, surrounded by an aura of mild excitement and confusion. She informed me that I played a character in her dream last night. In the dream, I married someone and was gifted a brand new, red, luxury sedan. Whom I wed and the provider of the gift were unknown. Contradicting an expected response to such a gift, I became upset with the gift as I realized that it was glamorized with several amenities and options. I deemed the options unnecessary and wasteful, and therefore did not appreciate them. I believed that the simpler, less luxurious options would suffice for my purposes, and I would appreciate them much more. I rejected the amenities by immediately returning the car to the dealership and demanding that the options be removed. I did not need them. The dealership employees were a bit confused by my demeanor and lack of appreciation, baffled that I wouldn’t accept the original vehicle design. Through their perception, I was insane. Though in awe of my behavior, the employees adhered to my request, changing the electric locks and windows to manual locks and windows, removing the remote starter, and modifying anything else they could to minimize the vehicle’s lavish attributes. The outcome of these modifications was disastrous. Many problems resulted from these changes, and the car no longer functioned the way it was intended to function. Here ends the dream.

Following the explanation of her dream, my coworker again expressed bewilderment about its content. I was also plagued with confusion: I have been married for 8 years, I don’t have a red car, and we had not previously discussed the topics presented in her dream.

As I pondered for a moment and expanded my awareness of the dream’s content, I began to identify deeper meaning. I shared with her that I consider myself a rather simple person, and I believe that this world is congested with an abundance of material amenities that are not required for our well being. I continued by suggesting that her sharing of the dream may be a message to me that I must accept what "is" and not dwell on the unnecessary material luxuries that surround us every day. If they are given to me, I must accept them and use them for their intended purposes. Although they are not necessary, if I reject the material amenities that are given to me, I may cause more harm than good. This, I believed to be a valuable lesson in the acceptance of what "is", even if I think what "is" is more than what I want.

Following this interpretation, my awareness of the dream’s content deepened even further. I began to see even more meaning in the message, a meaning that extends far beyond the realm of tangible amenities. Though the material interpretation yielded an acceptable explanation, the following intangible interpretation speaks to a greater truth.

I was unable to identify the marriage component in the material interpretation, but now recognize the marriage as a symbol of the strengthened relationship between God and me. I feel closer to God than I have in the past. As a consequence of the strengthened relationship, I have become more aware of the gifts, the intangible amenities, that God has given to me. My awareness of personal talents and purposes for those talents has recently improved.

Though I believe that I am more aware of these gifts, the conveyance of this dream might be a message to me that I am rejecting these gifts by not using them to their full potential or for their intended purpose. I have identified some of these newfound gifts (options) and, just as with the car, know that many more exist. However, I may be expressing a lack of appreciation by not fully accepting them and using them as God has planned. Not using them is comparable to demanding that the auto dealership strip the amenities from the car so it can return to a perceived simpler condition.

By not using the gifts that God has given to us, we are demanding that he change us into another being. Just as with the car example, detriment to our being will result: We will substantially limit our physical, mental, and most importantly, spiritual potential. The addition of more amenities increases levels of responsibility, such as requirements for more knowledge of amenity functionality and more accountability for amenity preservation. With material things, we may determine that we don’t want an abundance of amenities because we don’t want the responsibilities that accompany them. The same truth can exist with our intangible amenities, our personalized gifts and talents from God. By becoming aware of our gifts, our talents, our strengths, we are granted increased levels of responsibility relative to knowledge of how to use our gifts and accountability to ourselves and God for preserving and developing our gifts.

When we want fewer responsibilities, we sometimes reject the gifts that are available for us, inaccurately perceiving that life will be easier. We must accept the gifts we are given and use them for their intended purposes. You can appreciate the red luxury sedan when it is given to you. Accept the options and use them. They were given to you for a reason. Simple living results not from a reduction in the quantity of amenities, but through acceptance and intended utilization of the amenities that we are given. Simply stated, the simple life can be had even if we have it all.

Thursday, October 16, 2008

Life is like...a crowded line

Life is like…a crowded line. A crowded line is congested, forward progress is slow and, at certain moments, even immobile. Waiting in line and progressing with the often sluggish momentum can provoke stress and annoyance. Our patience is tested. During such circumstances, we face a variety of choices:

- We can become aggressive and force our way through the line in hopes of reducing the time it takes to arrive at our destination.

- We can step out of the line and walk away.

- We can stand still or sit down and let others bypass our position.

- Or, we can simply maintain our position and progress peacefully with the pace of the line.

The first option reflects the possibility that we will reach the front of the line in a timelier fashion. However, several risks accompany this decision. Forcing our way to the front causes us to push people and step on their toes. These actions may prompt others to develop sour feelings toward us and result in our redirection to the back of the line where we must begin the process again. A possibility in the grander scope suggests that people may resist our movements and become aggressive toward us and others. The feelings prompted by our actions could disperse to vaster segments of the line and perhaps invoke mass chaos throughout the entire line. The potential havoc is a direct result of our selfish effort to progress more quickly than our intended advancement pace.

The second option suggests that we would rather be anywhere other than our position within the near-stagnant pace of the line. We lack the patience to move slowly and desire a faster motion regardless of our destination. Consequently, we willingly remove ourselves from our position although we lack an awareness of subsequent steps. Following our exiting step, we realize that we lost focus of our destination and begin yearning for that which awaits us at the front of the line. We lost our former place, however, so we must start over at the back of the line. We again gain sight of the destination and dedicate ourselves to practicing more patience as we slowly progress toward the front.

The third option suggests that we become frustrated with the progression of the line and quit moving because we simply don’t like the line. Selecting this option causes us to serve as a barrier to others. Others need to modify their progression in reaction to our halting behavior. This may cause them to bump us and step on our toes. We are trampled on and bypassed because we chose not to progress with the line and stand up for ourselves.

The fourth option, which can be the most difficult option during the present moment, represents patience, awareness, and the desire to reach our destination regardless of the wait. We realize that the line moves forward, although not at the pace we always prefer. We know that it progresses and we understand that we will eventually end up where we want to be if we employ patience and continue to advance at the line’s pace. When the timing is right, we will arrive.

The "standing in a crowded line" metaphor applies to many areas of our lives. Identified areas include, but are not limited to, our careers, education, physical fitness, families, and spirituality. The following narrative discusses how this metaphor relates to our career path. Our careers represent progression through the career line until we reach our destined career. We have the same choices as those presented above.

We can become overly aggressive and attempt to surpass the capacity of our position in hopes of pushing our way to the front of the career line. We may try to move faster by seeking duties without permission that do not fit within our role, but instead fit the roles of those who are ahead of us in the line or at a superior level on the hierarchy. We are trying to get ahead by taking steps that we are not yet meant to take. This may prompt our coworkers to develop disgusted feelings toward us because we are not working within our role. They may become aggressive or bond together and implement a plan to ensure that we don’t make it to the front of the line quicker than our intended pace. They may even take action to have us removed from our current role.

We could choose the second option and quit our job if we are unsatisfied, but would then have to start over at the back of the line. Selecting the third option suggests that we become frustrated with our career progression, choosing to continue what we’re doing and not emitting effort to pursue promotions or advance our careers through other venues.

The fourth option is to remain patient and understand that we cannot immediately realize our destined career. We need to know our role and continue to work within the realm of our responsibilities. It is utterly important to know our roles within our positions and to complete the work that is expected of those roles. As we successfully complete the responsibilities that are presented to us, we are then given the opportunity to assume more. As additional responsibilities are offered, we must step forward to assume our new duties. The time between the completion of existing duties and the presentation of additional duties can be brief, but it may also be extensive. Therefore, we must be prepared to practice patience and stand still in the career line if it comes to halt. We must understand that the line will resume motion so we must be prepared to proceed even if we have experienced a lingering standstill.

We must follow the necessary steps and when the timing is right we will arrive.

Monday, October 13, 2008

You Get What You Give

You get what you give…this is a fascinating and rewarding, but sometimes difficult to comprehend, concept that holds true across limitless areas of life.

Although it crosses countless realms, it is not always clear that this truth exists. Fortunately, however, in certain areas, which will be addressed in the following narrative, this truth is easier for our perceptions to realize. And, when we identify this truth within contexts in which it is more easily understood, we encounter an opportunity to develop a deeper knowing of its existence within contexts in which it is sometimes less easy to understand.

In the context of talents, for example, when you give, or use, your talents, you receive more of those talents by strengthening them through practice. In the context of physical fitness, when you give, or use, your muscles to exercise or for a laborious task, you receive more muscles because your activity makes them stronger. In the context of gestures, giving positive gestures, such as a friendly smile or a compliment, to others often results in a smile or compliment returned to you.

In the context of knowledge, if you give, or use, your knowledge to teach others or to study, you will receive more knowledge as you learn new lessons and facts through your efforts and experience. In the context of spirituality, when we give our own presence to an environment occupied by others, we receive more presence in the moment, as those around us will become more present themselves.

Through these examples, the truth is clear. God ensures that we will receive more of what we give so that we can continue to contribute our gifts to the greater good of the world. Though this truth may be less easy to comprehend in other contexts, such as those of financial and material wealth, we do receive more money and material assets when we give them to other entities or purposes as a means to enhance the greater good. God ensures that all gifts we offer, intangible or tangible, are returned to us, often in greater supply than the original amount offered.

Strengthen yourself and your impact on the world…offer what you can…give what you are able.

Friday, October 10, 2008

Volatile Economy Prompts Spiritual Opportunity

As we face the challenges of an unstable economy and volatile stock market, an opportunity surfaces for our entire society to strengthen intangible assets such as faith, hope, and love. The burden of fear, which is a natural response during such times, becomes more prevalent as we lose money and our net worths decline. Fortunately, however, we are blessed with inherent tools to overcome such fear. Strong faith, powerful hope and genuine love will allow us to face these fears with strength, tenacity, and perseverance.

These times may prompt our nation to once again realize that competing with one another to have the most money, the finest things, and the highest status does not necessarily cultivate a recipe for long-term success. The intense competition amongst individuals, families, friends, businesses, races, religions, political parties, countries, etc., is perceptually strengthening the tangible assets of some while simultaneously breaking down our society’s entire realm of intangible assets, the very assets that exist at the core of our being and make all good things possible.

This is an opportunity for us to seek deep within ourselves to identify our true strengths and integrate them with the strengths of others. Combining and employing our individual strengths to serve the greater good of our society, rather than striving to serve our own selfish desires, will help our culture shift from a focus on tangible successes to a focus on intangible successes such as contentment and happiness, successes that rank infinitely higher on the scale of true value. We have the opportunity to replenish the intangible void that was prompted by the desire to generate an abundance of easily measured, tangible assets. Now is the time, not to panic, but to work together, to return to our true selves.

Sunday, October 5, 2008

A Rainy Day at the Lake

A rainy day at the lake is better than a sunny day in town. This is true not only in the literal, physical context for me, but also as a metaphor for all that is valued in life.

So what exactly does this mean? This message is essentially conveying that the worst moment of doing something that we love is better than the best moment of doing something that we don’t love. The worst day of doing something that aligns with our passion is better than the best day of doing something that we are not passionate about. This truth can be applied to virtually all areas of life.

For example, you can be highly successful in a particular career, but if that career doesn’t align with your passion, you lack fulfillment. You feel better doing that which you are passionate about, even if you are not as successful as perceived through the eyes of others or yourself. 

In the context of your career, your true passion may be best realized by expressing yourself through music, but you are employed full time as a lawyer. Or, your passion may be best realized by expressing yourself as a writer, but you work full time as an accountant. No matter how successful you are as a lawyer or an account, if your true passion is best realized through music or writing, and you do not have a respective outlet to express yourself, then you will lack fulfillment.

On its deepest, most meaningful level, this truth exists in the spiritual context. A perceived bad day in the conscious presence of God, in the awareness of the present moment, is better than the best day of continuous thoughts racing through your head. Regardless of the physical or mental state you may be in, a moment connected to God is better than even the happiest moment of incessant thoughts occupying your mind.

Physically, we are not able to spend ever day at the lake, so we must allow ourselves to be at ease while in town. Fortunately, however, in the spiritual realm we can be at the lake whenever we choose to be there. We can connect to God’s presence at any moment in time to leave the town of external distractions and incessant thought patterns. We can be at ease by connecting with the present moment.

As spiritual beings, we are graced with the ability to return to the spiritual lake without even a moment’s notice. God is always there. The lake is always available and accessible. If we are ever at a place, physically or mentally, that does not align with our passion, we can choose to connect to God’s presence and instantly be where we want to be.

Keeping Up

When you stop trying to keep up - that's when you get ahead. When you try to keep up, you place excessive focus on others actions and behaviors. This takes focus away from that which you need to do for yourself. Learn from others, but don't obsess about them. Find your strengths and your passions - allow them to drive you. Don't resist that which you truly love simply because you haven't seen it done that way before or because you fear the perception of others. Live as yourself and you will succeed, you will earn respect, you will get ahead.

Getting ahead is attainable when you clearly identify that which makes you happy. Keeping up with others is tedious and often leads you along a path that is not meant for you, yielding undue discomfort and stress. Rather than trying to keep up with others, look to them for guidance and lessons, but refrain from meticulously modeling your approach, and your life, after theirs because factors for success vary for everyone. Success variables differ dramatically from those of even your closest friend, family member or colleague. You may desire the success of a well know business mogul, celebrity, or athlete and therefore expend all of your energy and resources on obtaining a similar level of success. However, to maximize success you must first understand your individual definition of success.

Defined success exists in many different forms and combinations of forms, including wealth, fame, education, and acceptance, etc, etc, etc. Ultimately, success is defined by a combination of variables that promotes ongoing contentedness in life. Being truly satisfied with your life symbolizes the purest form of success. Just because someone else is wealthy and happy doesn't mean that wealth will make you happy. It could contribute to your happiness, but doesn't serve as the sole definitive factor. Just because someone else is well educated and happy doesn't mean that education will make you happy. Again, it may contribute, but doesn't define it. Fame makes some people happy, but that doesn't mean that fame will make you happy.

From an alternate perspective, you may encounter a person that is poor and happy, but that doesn't mean being poor will make you happy. Or, you may encounter a person who is disabled and happy, but that doesn't mean a disability will make you happy. Maybe being poor and disabled would enhance your level of happiness, but people typically do not positively correlate these variables with one another. It's also possible to be wealthy, accepted, educated, and famous, yet lack contentment. This illustrates the idea that you cannot mimic the success of others simply by trying to keep up with their levels of wealth, education, fame, etc. Get ahead in your life by designing and following your exclusive recipe of factors for personal success. When you are happy, everything falls into place as it should. You will take the lead on the most important path, the path that was meant for you

Life is like...rocking a fussy baby to sleep

As is true with certain moments in our lives, when a baby is fussy she wants to be somewhere other than her current position or place, somewhere other than in the arms of her parent. Although she is in the safe and potentially comfortable place of her parent’s arms, due to her emotional distress, she lacks the clarity that would allow her to see the undeniable result of falling asleep, whether she resists or relaxes. She can choose to fall asleep in comfort or she can choose to resist it – kicking, screaming and squirming, until she falls asleep or escapes from the comfort that could exist if she were to accept the moment and be at ease.

This concept can be applied to countless circumstances throughout our lives. For example, when working on a homework project, a student may be exhausted and uncomfortable, emotionally and physically drained from his efforts of the day. The thought of completing the project induces a state of emotional distress. In comparison to the tired baby, the end result is that the project will be completed just as the end result for the baby is that she will fall asleep. The student can choose to stress about completing the assignment and although he may not physically kick or scream, he experiences internal turmoil symbolic of the baby’s physical expressions. This turmoil inhibits his ability to comfortably complete the assignment just as the kicking and screaming inhibits the baby from falling asleep comfortably.

The student can alternatively choose to accept the moment, see with clarity that the assignment will ultimately be completed, and relax. If struggling with the assignment, the student can utilize his teacher as a resource to help him comfortably complete the assignment just as the child can utilize her parent as a resource to comfortably rock her to sleep. When the student elects not to consult the teacher for guidance about the assignment, this is symbolic of the baby choosing not to consult her parent for the guidance exhibited through rocking her to sleep. Consequently, the turmoil intensifies. Yes, babies can fall asleep without being rocked, and yes, students can complete homework without consulting their teachers. However, moments exist when babies need to be rocked and students need to be guided, especially when they are exhausted and their clarity is clouded. These moments, if timely identified, can be tolerated with relative ease by avoiding turmoil when the end result is definite – the baby will fall asleep, the student will complete the assignment.

As spiritual beings, we are all students, and God is our teacher. We must be aware of His guidance to avoid resistance and turmoil that result from lack of clarity. We must listen to His word to ensure that we complete the homework that has been assigned to us. Applying His instruction will allow us to work on our assignment in the comfort of His arms, just as the baby can fall asleep in the comfort of her parent's arms if she is aware and accepting of the offered guidance and support.Accept your assignment.

Live, in comfort, the life that you were designed to live.

Life is like...a parent and child...

Life is like…a parent and child getting ready to leave the house in the morning.

When getting ready to leave the house in the morning, the parent knows that he should put a jacket on his daughter to ensure her warmth. Although the daughter knows that it is time to leave, she is unwilling to put on the jacket and consequently chooses to run away from her parent. The parent follows her with the jacket, around corners and through various rooms of the house until the child backs herself into a corner and has nowhere left to go. She cooperates and puts on the jacket. Following multiple occasions of backing herself into a corner, the child cooperates in the beginning because she realizes that, ultimately, her parent will put the coat on her. She realizes that running away from her parent results in the expense of unnecessary effort.

In life, we often find ourselves playing the role of the parent and the child. At times, when we know that we are capable of completing a task, we act as the parent acted in this scenario and persevere until the task is completed, until the jacket is put on. In other scenarios, however, we play the role of the child and try to avoid certain inevitable circumstances, and no matter which way we turn or how fast we go, the circumstance that is meant to happen to us will happen, as we will eventually back ourselves in a corner. We can choose to avoid or reject the inevitable when we are in the corner, but that only results in undue effort expended towards an entity or a force that will eventually prevail. In moments like these, we must accept the inevitable and utilize our energies toward efforts that contribute to the greater good. Too often, we find ourselves contesting circumstances that we are unable to control. When we focus our efforts on controlling the uncontrollable, we curb progression and may even prompt regression.

We must have the confidence to persevere through challenges that may appear unattainable on the surface, but also have the ability to identify circumstances that we cannot control and, in those instances, choose to expend our efforts on more productive tasks.

Life is like...a dinner plate

Life is like…a dinner plate.

The items you place on your plate represent the responsibilities that you undertake in life. Carefully choose the responsibilities to ensure that you live a well balanced life just as you carefully select the items for your plate to ensure that you eat a well balanced meal. Our eyes sometimes deceive us to believe that we can eat more than we are actually hungry for just as our perceptions sometimes mislead us into believing that we can take on more responsibilities than we can handle. Time, accompanied by trial and error, strengthens our ability to accurately identify the amount of food we can eat and also our ability to accurately identify the level of responsibility that we can handle.

Fill your plate slowly. Take what you know you can eat, and if you’re still hungry go back for more rather than overfilling it in the beginning and finding yourself unable to finish every bite. Overfilling your plate can prompt some items to spill off the side which could, in turn, cause the entire plate to spill, resulting in the loss of all items. In the context of life, assume responsibilities that you know you can manage and as you satisfactorily carry out those responsibilities then add more. Exceeding your capacity for responsibility can result in poor execution of some responsibilities and may ultimately yield the loss of all responsibilities.

Another consequence that may exist when the plate of food becomes too full is that some or all of the items might merge together to create a new flavor. The flavor of the newly discovered food combinations may appeal to certain individuals, while others may be turned off by the taste. The new flavor represents the result of a merger of various responsibilities that are added to the plate of life. And, just like the plate that is loaded with overlapping items, the overlapping responsibilities may appeal to some people, while others dislike the newfound combination.

People have individual taste buds for food, and also for responsibilities. The flavors and responsibilities that induce pleasure in one person can vary slightly or dramatically from the next person. It’s important to identify others with similarities to you and analyze and/or sample some of their combinations to determine if they align with your taste. But, caution yourself to avoid commitment to the new combinations until you know that they are a good fit for you, until you know that they will fit well with the other items on your plate. If you fill your plate too quickly with food based solely on another’s recommendation, you risk the chance that you will dislike the flavor, yet lack room for alternate choices. Similarly, if you rapidly assume responsibilities based solely on another’s recommendation, you risk the chance that you will dislike the outcome, yet lack the time required to undertake responsibilities that are designed for you.

Life is like...painting a cedar fence

Life is like…painting a cedar fence.

Cedar emanates endless beauty throughout time. Painting the fence represents putting up a front. The paint, or front, may flaunt beauty for a time, but the paint eventually begins to crack and fade and lose its appeal. The fence must then be repainted to recreate the fronted beauty.

The painting and scraping and repainting is time consuming and unnecessary. Why then do we choose to paint the natural beauty of our fence, of our true selves? The reason to paint is to impress a certain audience. The audience could be a group of peers, a coworker, a parent, or one’s self. You may not like the way you naturally exist because you fear the perception of others. Others' perceptions, however, are often inaccurately perceived by one’s self. Be confident in yourself and who you really are and you will be beautiful.

If you paint yourself, even one time, you must undergo the necessary steps to scrape away the front and reclaim your natural beauty. The fronting process strips you from valuable opportunities to bestow your beauty to the world. You take the time to research, prep, paint, and scrape the front before returning to your natural beauty. Some people stay painted their entire lives and never have the chance to share their true beauty with the world.

Fronting is not uncommon. Most people front when searching for their true selves. They try different colors and textures to see if their fronted images match their true selves. They are unable to identify the beauty that naturally exists. They think that beauty needs to be fabricated. And, as many fronting exhibits prove, fronts can be beautiful to some eyes for certain periods of time. However, they lose their appeal with time and need to be modified or replaced.

At certain moments, people will realize that fronting requires significant work and maintenance and they choose to return to their natural beauty. The timing of this identification varies for each person. Some may realize the detriment to fronting after only a few colors, while others will paint several fronts.

Removing fronts can be challenging and may be increasingly difficult for those who have painted many coats. The more coats, the more difficult the process to recover natural beauty. The beauty of this all, however, is that your genuine beauty is not impossible to retrieve. The paint can be removed and the front can be forgotten with time.

Allow yourself to be naturally beautiful. Save your fronting energy for productive functions and you will be even more beautiful and appealing to others. Consume your energy with fronting experiments and, although your beauty may emulate for a moment, it will fade and lose appeal with time. Time has the power to enhance natural beauty and fade fronted beauty. To be truly and timelessly beautiful, maintain your natural finish.

Compliments from God

Challenges in our lives are compliments from God.

Just as a promotion at work is received as a compliment from your boss, so should a struggle in life be received as a compliment from God. Your boss offers you a promotion because he identifies that you are successful in your current position; he has confidence in your abilities to take on additional responsibilities and challenges. As such, God has confidence in you to persevere through the struggles that he injects into your life. “Only the strong survive” & “God doesn’t give you mountains that you can’t climb” are quoted examples that clarify the truth of this concept.

The death of a loved one, the loss of a house, addiction, divorce, unplanned pregnancy, and job loss are all examples of struggles placed in your life because God believes that you can overcome the challenges. View each and every challenge as a compliment just as you would view a promotion at work. Rather than envy, or express jealousy towards, individuals who do not face similar struggles, thank God for the opportunity to show Him that you possess the strength and faith to persevere through the challenges that He presents to you. Pride yourself on the fact that He gave you the promotion to assume added responsibility. Determination and endurance lead to success through overcoming struggles and ultimately yield enhanced strength, well being, and preparedness for future endeavors.

Regardless of the Choices

Regardless of the choices we make, we will be used as an example to enhance the overall wellbeing of the world. In certain moments, we make choices that may negatively impact others or ourselves. During such moments, we will be utilized as an example of what not to do. Although we will not always influence others with our negative actions or behaviors, when the timing is right, God will place us in an environment with someone who needs to learn a lesson from our negative choices. Aligning with this concept, in certain moments, we also make choices that may positively impact others or ourselves. During such moments, when someone needs to learn a lesson from our positive choices, we will be utilized as an example of what should be done. We have the choice on how we want to influence others. We can act as a negative example and help teach others how not to live. Or, we can act as a positive example and help teach others how to make life-bettering choices.

By making negative choices, we will cause detriment to others and ourselves. Our negative choices, however, will still contribute to the greater good of this world because people will learn by our example that unhealthy choices cause pain and suffering to themselves and others. Seeing the detriment that we have inflicted upon ourselves and others will motivate those learning through us to make choices that will yield them more appealing outcomes. They will, as a result, be better equipped to serve as a positive example to others. By making positive choices, we glorify others and ourselves. Our positive choices will, therefore, also contribute to the greater good of this world. Seeing the glory that we have bestowed upon others and ourselves will inspire those learning through our example to make choices that will allow them to realize glorified living, as well.

Making positive choices fosters a win-win scenario. We win because we glorify ourselves through the choices we make. Others win because we grant goodness upon them, and they learn the value of positive living. In contrast, making negative choices fosters a lose-win scenario. We lose because we cause harm to certain others and ourselves. However, specific individuals win through our negative decisions because they gain the wisdom of how not to live.

Just as we are placed in environments with others who need to learn lessons from us, we are placed in environments with others who will fulfill our learning needs. We may also be placed in environments where we teach ourselves through our own positive and negative examples. This is a form of trial and error that we employ to learn what types of choices do or do not align with our current and/or desired lifestyles. When we need to learn lessons, we will encounter the appropriate circumstances that will cultivate the necessary learning. To maximize the value of the lesson, however, we must pay close attention to the lesson to be learned and absorb the knowledge and wisdom that accompany the moment.

Much education exists without intentions of the teacher to teach or the student to learn. We must, consequently, make a conscious effort to be aware of the infinite lessons around us and teach others through our positive, rather than negative, ways. Adopting a lifestyle of healthy choices will help us ensure that we are displaying the right example during unsuspected educational opportunities. We will inevitably be placed in environments where we do not intend to teach so we need to choose whether we want to be placed in environments in which we teach through negative example or environments in which we teach through positive example. Would we prefer to inflict harm upon others and ourselves, and teach to others through our negative ways; or would we prefer to bestow goodness upon others and ourselves through our positive ways?