Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Satisfying Desires

Do we realize true contentment when we receive something that we believe will satisfy our desires?

Before you read on, please take a moment to ponder these questions: Does giving the gift of wealth to the poor really make them wealthy? Does giving the gift of health to the sick really make them healthy? Does giving the gift of happiness to the depressed really make them happy?

The answer to all of these questions can be “yes”, but only for a moment. When only the outcomes of wealth, health, and happiness are given, the results are short term. For long-term results to be realized, the gifts must be accompanied by lessons and guidelines that will yield success. Gifts of wealth, health, and happiness are only beneficial to us if we learn how to use and maintain them.

Satisfying the desire for wealth

If someone is poor because of inadequate money management skills and he is given wealth, he will eventually return to a poor lifestyle due to careless spending and weak savings practices. Should he want to maintain his wealth that was given to him, he must modify his money management skills to reflect smart savings and investments and wise spending habits.

If, however, he was once wealthy because of his effective money management skills and is now poor due to a disaster beyond his control, then if he is given the gift of wealth he will have a greater chance of maintaining the wealth because he understands strategies that yield financial success.

Satisfying the desire for health

If a man is sick because of poor dieting and unhealthy lifestyle choices, then, if it was possible to give him health, the gift of health would need to be accompanied by lessons and guidelines to maintain health. The health, just as the wealth, would soon be lost, if he did not modify his diet and lifestyle to reflect healthy choices. Returning to an inactive lifestyle supplemented by an unhealthy diet will quickly deplete the gifted health just as careless spending and inadequate saving will deplete the gifted wealth.

If, however, he was once healthy because of good dieting and wise lifestyle choices and then is burdened by an unexpected illness, the gift of health would allow him a greater chance of maintaining the health because he has already accustomed himself to practices that yield positive results.

Satisfying the desire for happiness

If a man is unhappy because he continuously beats himself up for his decisions and behaviors and always wishes he had more, then the gift of happiness will not yield him long-term contentedness because he lacks the skills to know how to be happy. The happiness gifted to him must be accompanied by lessons and guidelines that will help him maintain his happiness. Giving someone a pill to make him happy is a short term fix if the pill is not accompanied by strategies that will allow him to continue happy living when the pill is no longer available. He must be taught strategies that will help him to be happy with what he has, to genuinely appreciate life, and to avoid dwelling on unsatisfactory circumstances.

Long-term results

Effectively applied strategies and decisions can yield long-term wealth, health, and happiness if we are poor, sick, or unhappy. Contrarily, if we are simply gifted wealth through a lottery, health through a detoxification program, or happiness through a pill, and we fail to modify our previously unsuccessful wealth, health, and happiness maintenance strategies, then we will return to our unsatisfactory circumstances when the gifts expire. Just as with any other type of gift, the gifts of wealth, health, and happiness serve us value only if we know how to use them. To better illustrate, take the examples of a computer, car, piano, or a book. The gift of a computer can only serve value if you know how to navigate through the applications. The gift of a car can only serve value if you know how to drive. The gift of a piano can only serve value if you know how to play. The gift of a book can only serve value if you know how to read.

If you wish for greater levels of wealth, health, or happiness, wish for the skills that will help you achieve and maintain your desired levels rather than wishing for the outcomes themselves. As you acquire skills to maintain the desired outcomes, then you can realize long-term contentment. Only wishing for the outcomes is like wishing for a gift that you don’t know how to use, and the happiness of receiving the gift will consequently fade.

Thursday, December 4, 2008

Life is like...walking though a forest

Viewing the forest from a distance, we identify a solid design of earth-tone hues that lacks a clear path to the other side. We are intrigued by the forest and by what may exist following a journey through the woods. Our curiosity prompts a decision to be made. We have the choice to see the forest as a barrier and bypass the option to attempt a venture to the other side. Or, we have the choice to approach the woods and attempt to locate a path that leads us to the other side.

By seeing the forest as a barrier, we become overridden with fear and doubt, believing that the effort to walk through the woods will not be worth fulfilling the wonder of what may exist in the land beyond. This mindset prohibits us from satisfying our desire to see what follows the forest because we lack the ability to confidently face challenges, prompting us to consequently suffer the ongoing burden of wonder.

Though choosing not to approach the woods, we remain fascinated about what may be in the woods and on the other side so we continue to think “what if I would have attempted to go through?” “Would things be different if made it through or if I at least tried to make it through?” This burden of wonder frequently outweighs the burden of confronting challenges as they arise, prolonging undue discomfort in our lives. This undue discomfort can be avoided by choosing to attempt the journey to the other side. Upon making this choice to confront a challenge that, from a distance, may appear impossible to overcome, we begin walking toward the forest.

As we approach the forest, we begin to see small gaps between the trees. As we move closer yet, the gaps become wider. We see areas that allow access into what was earlier perceived as an impossible barrier to penetrate. We step into the forest and realize that we can take a few more steps and as we take those steps we realize that we can take a few more. Although we are unable to see other side, we become enlightened by the realization that we can still move forward.

Through this venture, we will encounter wildlife, low hanging branches, thorns, holes, and many other small obstacles, but we quickly learn that we can easily adapt to these obstructions by slightly modifying our path, and we can still move forward. Because of our size, strength, flexibility, and other physical variances, each of our paths through the forest will be unique to our individual selves. For example, some of us may be small enough to squeeze through tight spaces, others may have enough strength to move large branches, and others yet may have the flexibility to stretch across wide holes. This highlights the reality that we are all built differently so each one of us must inevitably take a different path to reach the other side.

By attempting to follow another person’s exact path, we will encounter barriers that we are unable to overcome because, whether it’s slightly or significantly, our individual design varies from that of another. As we continue to progress, we eventually see wider paths that ultimately lead to the other side of the forest. We soon can take our last step out of the woods and reap the rewards for confidently facing the challenge of walking through.

The present discomfort of stepping into the unknown yields us future pleasure by making it through. We are rewarded with the elimination of the burden of wonder, the enhancement of our physical, mental, and spiritual strength, and the appreciation of that which awaited us on the other side.

We encounter many figurative forests throughout life. We are intrigued by some, but not by others. These forests can include new jobs, habitats, relationships, educational agendas, and countless other new opportunities that enter our lives. When we meet those opportunities that intrigue us, we face the decision to either walk through and endure the immediate struggle or walk away and suffer the endless burden of wonder. To enhance ourselves and realize contented living, we must walk through these forests

Our passion may very well represent the most appealing forest in our sight, but many of us fear the unknown obstacles that we will face during the journey. Therefore, we choose to walk through forests that don’t appeal quite as much because we see other people walking through them. We must allow ourselves to walk toward the forest that aligns with our passion. As we move closer, we will realize that a path to enter the most beautiful forest exists, and with continued effort, we will make it through and reap the enhanced rewards of choosing to follow our passion, of choosing to journey through the woods that appeal to us the most.

Response to "interrupting pastor" question (Spiritual Q&A @ http://ssgteamblog.blogspot.com/)

Below is my response to a question that I answered for Soul Solutions Healing Group. My response, responses from other writers, and many additional spiritual articles, are available at the Soul Solutions Healing Group Team Blog (http://ssgteamblog.blogspot.com/). The following response addresses a question about a congregation member interrupting his pastor when the pastor is delivering a message.

Interrupting the pastor can certainly be regarded as impolite and inappropriate. The interruption may cause the pastor to lose focus, which can consequently limit the impact of his intended message. However, I truly believe that all things happen for a reason. Opportunities exist in all seemingly negative events.

The Lord possibly conveyed His word through the member’s interruption; or He may have a deeper meaning behind the behavior of this situation. For example, the Lord might have prompted the congregational member to speak out during the pastor’s message, not necessarily for the congregation to hear the words emitted from the man’s mouth, but for the congregation to witness a lesson in diplomatic attendance to unexpected, undesired circumstances. With this type of occurrence, the pastor has an opportunity to address the congregational member in such a way that he can bestow valuable behavior management lessons to the rest of the congregation and also clearly reiterate boundaries that exist while delivering his message. This challenge may have been injected into the church body as a growth opportunity for the pastor, select congregational members, or the church as a whole.

A similar situation may occur in a school classroom when a misbehaved child interrupts the lesson because he feels compelled to speak. Although serving as an interruption to the intended lesson, such an occurrence provides the teacher with an opportunity to exhibit diplomatic behavior management strategies and clearly reiterate classroom boundaries. Whether in the classroom, in a church, or in another setting, such an undesired event can promote strength and growth opportunities when approached from an appropriate perspective.

Tuesday, December 2, 2008

Response to "sex outside of marriage" question (Spiritual Q&A @ http://ssgteamblog.blogspot.com/)

Below is my response to a question that I answered for Soul Solutions Healing Group. My response, responses from other writers, and many additional spiritual articles, are available at the Soul Solutions Healing Group Team Blog (http://ssgteamblog.blogspot.com/). The following response addresses a question about the desire for sex outside of marriage when such behavior doesn't align with personal beliefs.

.........However, I believe that challenges are injected into our lives for productive purposes. I believe that such challenges are actually compliments from God. This challenge has been given to you because God believes that you can satisfy the requirements to overcome the challenge. God has identified you as a man that has the patience and strength to effectively face this decision.

If we attempt to reap the fruits of a relationship before the relationship is fully grown, we face the risk of eating unripe fruit. The unripe fruit may satisfy our immediate desires, but ultimately won’t be as pleasing as it would be if the relationship had been fully developed. Following ingestion of the unripe fruit, we may realize that we ate the fruit too soon. Upon this realization, we can be plagued with the guilt and shame of allowing our immediate desires to triumph over our core values.

In many instances, when we allow our present desires to take precedence over our true selves, the present pleasure that we attain can often yield prolonged future discomfort. Contrarily, if we endure the discomfort of abstaining from the present desire for unripe fruit, we are blessed with the opportunity to realize the enhanced pleasure of ripened fruit. We are also blessed with the contentment of aligning our actions with our core values. Happiness exists when our behaviors are in alignment with our true selves.