ON BEING IGNORED

ON BEING IGNORED

One of my greatest fears is to have no purpose for my life—the feeling of being superfluous.  I no longer want to be the center of all things and I no longer want to be separate or unique. I want to be part of the human experience and be engaged with my brothers and sisters.  This is the way I will grow, learn, and love.  I do not want to be ignored.

It is far worse to be ignored than to be disliked.  Ignoring someone is a not-so-subtle form of abuse. Purposely ignoring someone is rude, immature, inconsiderate, cruel, and petty.  It is extremely damaging emotionally to the ignored.

I cannot abide being ignored by people who want to hurt me for some reason.  These folks are generally selfish and have little respect for me or themselves. It gives them power and control over me in their mind.  In fact, many of them think they are the victim, thus making my feelings irrelevant.

It is amazingly easy to blame someone else for your problems.  If so, ignoring someone is a means of avoiding the problem until it goes away.  Being angry with someone and ignoring them is an immature way to avoid dealing with a situation.  Ironically, it usually makes matters worse.

Punishment for perceived slights is the common reason to ignore someone.  It becomes clear that these folks are too selfish to care about me and my feelings.  They do not realize the damage the silent treatment may cause.

When someone gives me the silent treatment, they think it will make me better.  Also, these folks could just be avoiding a confrontation, and not realize they have gone about it the wrong way.

At times life is hard and individuals handle problems in different ways.. Figuring out the right way to deal with things is not always easy. Nonetheless, when someone’s existence and feelings are dismissed and disrespected, they feel devalued, unworthy, and insignificant.

The silent treatment can be a mind game for some people, and in some cases can be used as a form of psychological manipulation. It also increases stress levels, which leads to more feelings of grief and abandonment.

So you are being ignored and you are left with a slew of unanswered questions and uncomfortable emotions. What to do? What to do?

Each time you feel ignored by someone, the causes, and potential solutions will be slightly different. In some cases, it may not be possible to get a full picture of what has happened.

However, there are ways to properly deal with these circumstances regardless of how you know the person and what they mean to you in your life.

Through trial and error, I have found a cooling off period to be the best first step.  You will not get to the bottom of the problem right away. Let the person have an opportunity to reflect and consider whatever has caused them to ignore you. Try to find other things to occupy your time and attention!

This cooling off period is just as important for your well-being as it is for the other person. You both need ample time to consider what actually happened. If a resolution is possible, it is much more likely after a break.

You would be surprised at how many people assume they are being ignored when in fact they are not! It is possible that other explanations exist.  It may be that the person is busy or in a stressful situation or is in a bad mood and ignoring everyone.

When you know for sure that someone is ignoring you, it is so easy to jump to all kinds of dramatic conclusions.  In the majority of cases, being ignored is temporary and does not mean that something awful is going to occur. And, in fact, you can reduce the likelihood of a bad outcome by ensuring that you do not overreact.

When you think you know why the person is angry, you can begin to work out how to talk to them about it. Think about how they might have read too much into your actions or how they could have been over-sensitive about a conversation topic. Remember that even if you do not think the anger is justified, understanding it will still help the relationship.

Most likely you will end up talking to the person who has been ignoring you.

If you are dealing with someone who has been ignoring you because they are hurt or angry about something you have done, it’s often the case that an apology is the quickest way to move on. It is always safe to believe you played a part in causing things to go wrong. Offer a sincere and explicit apology that stresses your understanding of what you did. This proves you are serious and not just lazily doling out a token apology.

HAPPY HOLIDAYS

Happy Holidays!!

Looking for a stocking stuffer?

How about

FOREVER STALKING JOY?

We often confuse joy with happiness, but they are not interchangeable. Joy is from within, regardless of what is going on around you. It is deep seated and life altering. Happiness can be a transient emotion, dependent on a situation. Joyful people make a commitment to be grateful regardless of the circumstances.


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For those who have already bought this book,

THANK YOU!!

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There is no greater purpose in life than to love.

Ask yourself this question: Am I ready to live fully and freely?

Then FOREVER STALKING JOY is a book that explores your path to a bigger life!

We often confuse joy with happiness, but they are not interchangeable. Joy is from within, regardlees of what is going on around you. It is deep seated and life altering. Happiness can be a transient emotion, dependent on a situation. Joyful people make a commitment to be grateful regardless of the circumstances.

HOW ABOUT LIVING A BIGGER LIFE?

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GENEROSITY IS A VIRTUE

GENEROSITY IS A VIRTUE

Generous people are able and willing to give. They give both financially and of themselves, in a way that benefits the recipient. Their gifts may include time, money, things, and encouragement.

People that give truly and freely do so because they care. They hope to see a better world and hate to see others suffer and are willing to do something about it.  Some people actually give to get, but truly generous people give simply to give. They don’t ask for anything in return. The only benefit they receive is the knowledge that they are doing their part to improve the world.

True giving happens when you are overflowing from the inside and cannot help but share. When there is so much love within you that it has to flow to others or you would burst open. There is no thinking involved, no willpower in such sharing. It just flows out. If you have to force yourself to be kind, to love, to feel compassion, you have missed the first step of filling in your own self with these emotions.

Generous people are optimistic and do not get tangled up in the misbelief that their small contribution is seemingly worthless in the grander scale. These people recognize the impact they can make through their giving and they continue doing it. They don’t give in order to impress others or broadcast how much money they donate or their impressive works of service. They do so quietly and humbly.

Giving of your time and talents often requires patience. The world isn’t going to change overnight. People who are giving understand that this process takes time.

They understand that life is about more than them. It’s about humankind in its entirety. Generous people acknowledge their part in the overall scheme of things and actively pursue their role to make the world a better place.

It takes a lot of energy to give of yourself. It requires time and motivation too. People who give not only tend to be more energetic, but also become even more energized by the very act of giving to others. They take a stand for their cause and help spur others into action. They recognize areas of need and help connect people and resources to fill these gaps.

Do you wish you were a more giving person? Generosity doesn’t always come naturally for some of us, but it’s our hope that this list of characteristics of generous people will help reveal areas to cultivate in our own life to become a truly generous person. Generosity is therefore not a random idea or haphazard behavior but rather, in its mature form, a basic, personal, moral orientation to life. Indeed, generosity is a virtue and to practice it for the good of others also necessarily means that doing so achieves one’s own true, long–term good as well.

Generosity is a learned character trait that involves both attitude and action. The virtue in this action is giving liberally along with an actual practice of ongoing giving. In a world of moral contrasts, generosity entails not only the good expressed but the rejection of many vices such as fear, greed, and selfishness.

Generosity also involves giving to others those things that are good for them, not just things that are in abundance. Generosity always intends to enhance the true wellbeing of recipients. Given that generosity is a virtue, to practice it for the good of others also necessarily means that doing so achieves one’s own true, long–term good as well.  So generosity, like all of the virtues, is in our genuine enlightened self-interest to learn and practice.

Generous folks have the right attitude about money and wealth.  It is so easy to use money as the scorecard for achievement. Instead, they treat money as means to acquire things they need, and not an end in itself.  This belief enables them to spend money on others as well themselves.  Having their name on a donor list is irrelevant.

Acting generously makes you feel good because you are helping others.

I think there are times that I have given to satisfy my ego which is not a good practice. Many people appreciate music and the arts and have given to assure that the orchestra stays in tune and the opera is available, but these often are done with fanfare and acclaim. Yet there is something very satisfying to give someone help that they need to survive.

I am concerned that generosity may an endangered character trait in today’s world. Our survival is conditioned by our ability to negotiate contracts and engage in the economic exchange of goods and services.  Do we have the time or the inclination to be generous?  There is so much suffering in the world that our efforts are never enough and we get discouraged.  Still, it is better to be a part of something than do nothing at all.

WHEN ENOUGH IS ENOUGH

WHEN ENOUGH IS ENOUGH

Money gives you freedom and choices.

You can decide where and how you want to live when you have a good income or financial resources. On the other hand, when you do not have much money, choice may be something that you cannot afford. The choices available to you may not really be choices at all.  But how do we decide that we have enough?

Our sense of well-being, comfort, and peace of mind has less to do with how much money we have — and everything to do with how we think about it. In most cases, regardless of how much we actually have in the bank — we only have enough when we think we have enough.

So when is enough really enough? For me, I began to feel comfortable when I crossed the $80,000 income level.  Above that level, emotional well-being corresponded to my individual temperament and life circumstances rather than any extra income. Below that level of income, my happiness was diminished by higher levels of stress related to climbing the ladder.  In that endeavor enough was never enough.  I could always make one more call or plan one more sales presentation.

The level of a person’s expectation rises steadily with the level of income. While increasing income does not change a person’s emotional happiness on a daily basis, it does make people think of themselves as happier and more successful.  This confirms that happiness and feelings of well-being are less dependent on the amount of money you have, and very dependent upon what you think about it.

If you are so fortunate to be earning an amount that gives you the sense of well-being, don’t compromise or sacrifice yourself to make more. If the increased income does not come relatively smooth and naturally into your life, then think carefully before you pursue it. Maybe, probably, perhaps what you are making right now is enough.

Take time every single day to look around and be thankful for the things in your life. Remember, whatever we focus on tends to grow in our experience. If you spend more and more time being grateful for the small things in your life, they could add up to being way more than enough.

Develop your own emotional measuring stick for personal happiness and well-being. Most of us use an external measure far too often and then are surprised when we do not measure up. When we get in touch with those things that make us happy — regardless of whether anyone likes it or “gets it,” then it does not matter how much money you make. Love jogging or gardening or riding your bike? Then do it. Enjoy playing with your kids or your guitar? Then do it. Like to read or hang out with your friends? Then do it. Most of the things that make us smile and feel happy are unrelated to our income. Start separating those qualities and focus on them.

Find something to get passionate about. Have you ever been around someone who is on a mission? If we don’t think we have enough, there is a chance that we are focusing on a fear of loss.  Fear comes into our life when we believe that we will not get everything we deserve OR we are going to lose everything we have. People who are passionate about things are focusing on something that so inspires them that they are not worried about gain or loss. Get involved in something bigger than yourself and you might be surprised at how “good enough” and “rich enough” you feel.

Start hanging out with people who are happy and satisfied with their life just as it is. If you spend time with people who are never satisfied and always wanting more, more, and more, you’ll soon feel the same way. Instead, surround yourself with those who realize life is much more fulfilling and spectacular than how much they make or what they own. Hang out with people who have passion, who regularly help others, and who know what makes them happy from the inside-out, and you’ll start doing the same.

 Instead, it might be SMART to start realizing that our well-being and peace of mind start within. That is probably the only way to discover we have more than enough just as we are, right now.

I GOT THE JOY, JOY, JOY

I’VE GOT THE JOY, JOY, JOY

It often takes a while to discover that following a spiritual path will send our life in the right direction.  In following the path we recognize our flaws and understand we have help to improve our character, circumstances, and destiny which leads to a joyful existence.

Stop waiting to be happy.  There are always fresh opportunities around.  Sometimes happiness is right in front of you. For whatever reason, I am often unable to shift my focus to notice it and engage it.

Regardless of what is going on around you, you can feel happier, be productive, attract success, and enjoy yourself during the process.  When you actually shift your focus and the way you think, your perspective changes.  Want to be joyful?

Make the decision to be happy and it will happen.  It is actually a choice.  We all dream of being happy and joyful, but we expect it to happen sometime in the future.  Until then, we are overworked, overstressed, and under-happy.  The dream does not seem possible without a lottery win or a call from a wealthy uncle in poor health.  How can you enjoy life without some happiness and the possibility that joyfulness will enter your life?

One of the easiest ways to start making happiness choices is to engage in active self-care. Taking a moment for yourself and hitting the reset button is something we all need to do every so often. But a timeout to give yourself a moment of respite or relaxation or indulgence is only part of the battle.  We carve out time for happy hour, but it ends up being less happy because we are thinking about the last couple of emails that we didn’t send in order to be at the bar.  How can anyone binge watch Netflix stress-free with the grass at 8 inches high?  Can you really indulge in a box of salted caramels or honey roasted peanuts knowing that you have not been to the dentist in 18 months?

One of the best ways to let that self-care time shine is to make sure you are not stressing about miscellaneous small-ball stuff on your list while you are trying to check out. Get yourself sorted so that “your-time” is as effective as it can be.

Set your mind to the happiness channel by showing compassion for others, loving your friends and family, being patient with yourself and others, and putting God or the Spirit first in your life. Eventually joy will follow, A joyful life is the best experience we can hope to achieve.  It is the kind of life that produces cool vibes and feel good energy and encourages us to look at the future with high hopes. Pure joy might seem like a fleeting emotion, but even if you feel it for just a moment, you can hold on to it.  You can relish and relive it.

Stop being a worrier!! Happiness works in mysterious ways, just like love.  Neuroscience tell us that brain chemistry alters emotion.  But in order to activate those chemicals for positive feeling, you and I have to change some habits.

The formula for happiness involves changing your thought patterns.  Your patterns—what you do and think and say every day—determine how happy you are.  It’s got nothing to do with what is around you, but everything to do with how your brain works—that inner voice.  The committee that talks to you most of the time offering little plans and designs that are not good for you.  Reduce the size of your EGO and search for happiness within. Fire the committee!  This is an inside job all the way.

My August 5 blog was about the Power of Small Things. We all have them; those small moments or things that often go unnoticed or unappreciated because we think they are either insignificant or we take them for granted because we live in a culture that celebrates big accomplishments. But what if we made it a habit to embrace and celebrate the small things?  Real life is leaving us behind while we are waiting for big news we hope will give us some sort of inner peace, contentment, or joy. IT SELDOM HAPPENS!  The truth is that often the things that matter most are the small things. Hug your child, kiss your spouse (really kiss them), read a book, watch EPISODES on Netflix.

One big mistake we all are prone to make is not realizing that happiness is an individual choice.  But every choice is influenced by the people around us.  If you change your life influencers for the better, you can dramatically increase your chances for happiness and success.

Positive social connection is greatest predictor of long-term happiness. Welcoming

a positive new person into your world can be one of the most important choices for happiness you make.  Avoid naysayers like Covid-19.

I love to laugh.  Laughing makes me feel good.  This isn’t so surprising but try to remember the last time you really laughed; chances are, it may have been some time ago.  Focused on yourself and your problems, you probably don’t giggle as often as you did when you were a kid.  Funny stuff is happening all around you. Laughing has been shown to reduce stress, enhance immunity, improve blood flow, and strengthen relationships.  I met someone that loves to laugh making us a really good fit!

Where is love to fit into the equation? Early on, we are taught that successful people pay attention in school, land a good job, earn a steady income, settle down with a family, and prepare for retirement.  Many use this model quite effectively. Others not so good.  Some do better than others in one category or another. Eventually we find out that the only thing that matters is loving and being loved.

LOVE is the major thing!!!! The Only Thing!!! The reason for life!

There is no greater purpose in life than to love.  Even if you do not love life itself, loving beings and things in your life brings meaning and purpose. Filling your life with love will make you a more spiritual person and position you to fully engage the Spirit.  Be open to wonder.  Remember as a child how you reacted to something new with such awe?  If so, you have all you need to learn what it means to love. The combination of overall life satisfaction and positive love-based feelings in the now do translate into better physical health and a longer life. When you love without condition, it will provide a positive attitude for life and life for you.  IT WORKS!

THE POWER OF SMALL THINGS

THE POWER OF SMALL THINGS

Black Lives Matter! A Pandemic is Serious! What Happened to Compromise?  Should schools open?  Why is the CDC being cut out of the Covid-19 reporting loop?  Why is wearing a mask an issue of freedom? Russians are not on our side.  Is my country, the country of my birth, the country that I love, declining like the Roman Empire?  All of these thoughts have been rampaging through my mind recently. I don’t know any of the answers, nor do I have any control, except with my vote, which may not be counted this year..

So, I am going back to the simple pleasures that have been so important to the quality of my life.  I am starting this better path simply by identifying and expressing gratitude for something small.  After all, most everything started out small, so why not focus on simple, small things.  I thought about those things that made me smile yesterday, in the last few minutes. There are lots of small things that can make your day.  

Here are some of mine:

  • getting lost in a novel
  • my old blue sneakers
  • I enjoy biographies, who would have thought!
  • my meditation that connects me to the day
  • my favorite coffee cups
  • taking a walk
  • dinners with family
  • a really good hug
  • watching a bird going about its business and paying me no mind
  • reading in the shade of a large oak tree
  • sitting on my balcony in the sun reading a good book on my kindle
  • petting my cat, Charlie
  • looking at my garden
  • morning coffee
  • large glass of water and time with God
  • perusing through my favorite bookstore
  • walk in the woods
  • Linda’s smile

Experiencing any one of these small things can make my day joyful.  I get lost in a good book a lot but I do not spend enough time reflecting on why the book held my attention.  Reflecting on the joy of the book can bring a smile to my face all day. I encourage you to make your own list of small things that make you smile and feel good about yourself.

For years, I thought that having the desire to be the best-of-the best at my job would bring me happiness. But I eventually learned and have been reminded many times that this simply is not the case. I do believe, however, that many folks have that desire because doing your best is not good enough. Indeed, if you have that burning desire to achieve and accomplish important things, then please take along a list of small things to make your way more enjoyable.  Develop this as a habit, and you will be amazed at its power and impact. Through the power of small things — adding new things regularly, they will build upon one another and over time have an extraordinary impact on your performance and serenity.

CONNECTIONS

CONNECTIONS

We are clearly influenced by people around us, our circle of friends and relatives. These folks impact our beliefs, our health, our careers and how we feel – some for better and some for worse. We live in interconnected networks and become like the people we spend time with. The number of theses connections we have affects the quality of our lives, influences our expectations, determines the sort of people we marry, where we live, our emotional maturity, and our health.

We often copy our friends and they give us permission to do things. If a friend has done something/bought something/been somewhere, then we are much more likely to also do it/buy it/go there. Not only that, we are influenced by our friends’ friends and surprisingly by our friends’ friends’ friends.

No one controls or owns the network that you and I are in.  It self-organizes and is complex, dynamic, and constantly evolving.  It has no central control point but rather a shared intelligence. Some people are on the edge of networks, others at the very heart of them. Some people have lots of connections within the network, others are more insular.

Emotions are a genetically inspired way of quickly spreading information that people pay attention to. Certain people are more susceptible than others and likewise, certain people are more influential than others.  Likewise in teams, emotions quickly spread – and when a team is happy, it has been shown that performance improves. Unhappy people tend to cluster with other unhappy people and vice versa.  Furthermore, unhappy people seem more peripheral in networks.

It is not just that happy people prefer the company of happy people, it’s that happy people make other people happy.  People with friends who have lots of friends are also more likely to be happy.

The closeness of happy people affects us.  When a friend living less than 1 mile away becomes happy, it can increase my chance of becoming happy. Consequently, the people I spend the most time with heavily influence my mood.   Likewise loneliness begets loneliness. Proximity to other lonely people also increases my tendency towards loneliness.

Networks can heavily affect our personal identity. The way people react to us either builds or weakens our self-valuation, confidence, and esteem. How we look also affects how we are treated.  Since we are heavily influenced by others, we dress in a way that our network will accept. We are mightily influenced by the norms of our society/group.  We unconsciously copy others to be part of that group. The more we relate to a group or want to be a part of it, the more influential their norms will be upon us.

The power of social compliance is often underestimated.  Comparisons to others are a key factor in determining contentment. Economist John Kenneth Galbraith once determined that many consumer demands stem not from innate need but more from social pressure.   Merely observing another person’s behavior (especially someone we admire) can be as influential as words.  Our best friends influence how we perceive our prospective partners attractiveness.

When people sit next to a person who is over-eating they will also tend to eat more.  An obese person has more friends, friends of friends and friends of friends’ friends who are obese than would be expected by chance.  If a mutual friend becomes obese, it nearly triples a person’s risk of becoming obese.  Groups such as weight watchers and alcoholics anonymous form powerful social networks of influence – it is the people not the techniques that drive success. An individual’s success story echoes throughout the network. This provides a positive reference experience of success, so building their own belief that success is also possible for them.

For networks and connections to be effective they also need ties into other networks – e.g. those people who have a number of different circles of friends/acquaintances are the critical connectors that allow information to flow between networks. Networks that are more insular are less equipped to solve novel problems than those networks with lots of interconnections with other networks.

The circles we live and work in are fundamental to the opportunities and quality of lives we get to lead so it is less about absolute ability as it is about the connections one has around you as they create the initial opportunities and levels of expectations.

Human social network behaviors are hard wired – its genetically conditioned.   Networks have been fundamental to the advancement of the human species. People who worked together were able to kill more prey and were able to protect each other against predators (human and animal). Thus the ‘connectors’ survived better than the loners.

The Internet has created multiple ways to connect and share.  We are now hyper connected, sharing large chunks of our daily lives with a wide group of friends – thus we know more about more people.

Will these social network relationships replace our deeper personal connections? Research suggests that like the advent of the phone, these technologies supplement the development of relationships rather than supplant them. The media often reports that intense use of the Internet increases the risk of alienation, isolation, depression, and withdrawal from society. In fact, available evidence shows that there is either no relationship or a positive cumulative relationship between the Internet use and the intensity of sociability. Overall, the more sociable people are, the more they use the Internet. And the more they use the Internet, the more they increase their sociability online and offline, their civic engagement, and the intensity of family and friendship relationships, in all cultures.

A new social structure has emerged from the interaction of a technological paradigm based on the digital revolution and some major sociocultural changes. A primary dimension of these changes is what has been labeled the rise of the Me-centered society, or, in sociological terms, individualism, the decline of community understood in terms of living space, work, family, and achievement in general. This is not the end of community, and not the end of place-based interaction, but there is a shift toward the reconstruction of social relationships, including strong cultural and personal ties that could be considered a form of community, on the basis of individual interests, values, and projects.

The process of individualism is not just a matter of cultural evolution, it is produced by the new forms of organizing economic activities, and social and political life. It is based on the transformation of places to live, work, and engage  in economic activity (networked work processes), culture and communication (shift from mass media to mass self-communication based on the Internet); on the crisis of the patriarchal family, with increasing autonomy of its individual members; the substitution of media politics for mass party politics; and globalization forging networks around the planet. The Internet has created the opportunity to connect up with people around the world who are interested in a very specific activities/interests (such as people with specific health issues but it can also be used for some less palatable groups such as self-harmers, anorexics, suicides and bomb makers). The connections with each other reinforce their belief system and legitimize their actions.

Internet use empowers people by increasing their feelings of security, personal freedom, and influence, all feelings that have a positive effect on happiness and personal well-being. the Internet does not isolate people, nor does it reduce their sociability; it actually increases sociability. 

Seven Attributes of Good Character

We all have areas in our personal, professional, and social lives where we have failed. It is hard to point the finger, as we all make mistakes, big and small. So, how do we improve? How can we do more of the right things and less of the wrong ones?

Who we are as a person is the total of everything we have learned as children, plus the choices we make and habits we develop as we grow older. The good news is that we can always learn to make better choices, we can choose to believe in better values, we can create better habits, we can continue to learn.  We will never attain a perfect state; we are humans, and we will continue to make mistakes and experience success and failure in every aspect of our lives. We learn lessons through our defeats. Failure motivates me to change. Ponder this: our most significant pain comes from mistakes we make; our greatest fears come from the consequences of our wrong choices; it follows that our greatest joy will come from doing the right things, and greater love will cast away our fears.

What we do and say reflects our values!   Values are beliefs that help empower our life and the quality of what we experience. How we act and behave in our everyday life, reflects our deep-seated convictions and beliefs. Live by your set of values, and do not compromise them was the advice given to me by my grandfather.

Character is what we are when we are all alone. It is what we do when there is no one around to impress. Reputation is what people think of us; character is who we know we are. The existence or lack of certain virtues will determine who we are.  I believe there are seven attributes of good character: fortitude, tolerance, compassion, patience, hope, faith, and love.

Fortitude is courage in the face of adversity. It is the means by which individuals have the emotional power or reserves to withstand and confront serious problems.   Our mistakes and failures provide us with the opportunity to develop a type of courage which is born of humility, rather than of bravado.                                            

Tolerance is a fair, objective, and permissive attitude toward those whose opinions, beliefs, practices, racial or ethnic origins differ from our own. It permits freedom from bigotry.

Compassion involves allowing me to be moved by suffering of others and experiencing the motivation to help alleviate and prevent it.  Often an individual goes out of their way to help the physical, mental, or emotional pains of another and themselves. Compassion involves sensitivity, another emotional aspect of suffering. It is often based on notions of fairness, justice, and interdependence, it is rational in nature, and most often based on sound judgment. 

Patience is the ability to endure difficult circumstances such as delay; or a provocation without responding in annoyance. It is forbearance when under strain, especially when faced with longer-term difficulties. Patience is the level of endurance one can have before negativity. It is also used to refer to the trait of being steadfast.

Faith is confidence or trust in a person, thing, or concept. In the context of spiritual matters it is belief in God or in the doctrines or teachings of a spiritual leader. For some, faith is confidence based on a perceived degree of justification, while others who are more skeptical view faith as belief without evidence.

Hope is an optimistic state of mind that is based on an expectation of positive outcomes with respect to events and circumstances in one’s life or the world. Hope allows us to expect outcomes with confidence and to cherish a desire with anticipation. Hope is necessary to keep us focused on the goal because we are never in charge of outcomes, no matter the effort we put in.

Love is a feeling of strong attraction and emotional attachment. It  encompasses a range of strong and positive emotional and mental states, from the most sublime virtue or good habit, to the deepest personal affection and to the simplest pleasure The love of a mother for her child  differs from the love of her spouse, which differs from the love of food. But they are all love. Love for each other is the way to peace and serenity.

Why do I want to cultivate these seven attributes? Why am I concerned about the content of my character?  When I took a fearless look at myself through a rigorous inventory, I did not like who I had become.  I was not close to the “good” man I imagined myself to be.  My father-in-law, who I considered to be a weak man at one time, became my role model as he was the man I wanted to be..  I wanted the core ethical values of honesty and integrity, respecting others, taking responsibility for one’s actions, being fair and just, and being someone who promotes love and compassion in others. I wanted to be filled with humility, courage, justice, temperance, and the value of human dignity. My well-being—indeed my very existence—depends upon the content of my character.

These seven attributes were the necessary ingredients for me to become the new person I wanted to be, the rebirth of Michael. The first four of these character traits give me tools to deal with my own suffering as well as that of others. Keep moving forward despite my mistakes and shortcomings is the fundamental lesson I have found to have peace and serenity, which equates to a successful life. The last three are ways to proceed to freedom and joy. Trust yourself to do the right thing and joy will come your way.  Its joy that I am after. Happiness is too dependent upon transitory things and other people. Joy comes from faith, hope and love. Trust God knows what you need. He will do for you what you cannot do for yourself. And love God and others with all your heart.