Positive Makes the Hard in Life Easier

Do you know any truly negative people? People who cannot say anything positive about anything. They are miserable and not at all fun to be around.

Yes, sure misery loves company but seriously who likes to be around miserable people?  I’m not talking about the occasional bad day that puts us in a bad mood. Or getting up on the wrong side of the bed once in a while. I’m talking about people who are completely and totally wallowing in their own problems and the negative going on in the world to the point they can see nothing else. That’s all they talk about.

You say something positive and they come back with something that lets you know their glass isn’t only empty it is cracked and dirty too. UCK!

Misery loves company but how can we create a positive life if we’re constantly focused on negative or we’re hanging around with completely negative people.  Sure we can still love them but no we don’t have to join them in their misery. People like superheroes, not victims.

Yes indeed life is going to suck at times.  There are going to be challenges, frustration, injustices, and disappointment. But we don’t change negative by dwelling on the negative. To create our best life we work hard to stay positive, even when life sucks because a positive attitude always makes the hard in life easier.

The Reason I Pick Up Paperclips

I have an unusual habit – picking up paper clips I find on the sidewalk. My partner, Barbara, will confirm that no matter how twisted or tarnished or embedded in a sidewalk crack, I insist on picking up the clip. I take it home and put it with my ever-growing collection.  I do so for a very good and heart-filling reason. Several years ago, I was deeply moved by the documentary Paper Clips about Whitwell Middle School’s extraordinary experiment in Holocaust education.

Struggling to grasp the concept of six-million European Jewish and other victims, the students decided to collect six-million paper clips to better understand the extent of the Holocaust. By the time they were finished the children had collected many more, closer representing the millions of people in other groups who also were victims of the genocide. So, each time I see a paper clip it tugs at my heart, and I pick it up, put it in my pocket, and take it home to honor the victims, and those incredible children.

Often it is the smallest things that remind us of what is most important in life.  I encourage you to watch the film. Then I challenge you to begin picking up the paper clips you find. It is an unusual practice that will always satisfy your soul.

You CAN Do It!

I chose to smoke cigarettes when I was in my twenties. For the next twenty-two years, I was a slave to them. Some days I smoked two packs. It was like setting money on fire. Not to mention the constant coughing, bad breath, horrible-smelling clothing, recurring bronchitis, and inability to walk up a flight of stairs without having to rest.

By the time I was in my early thirties, I was terrified of dying. Yet day after day, year after year, I continued to justify smoking. It was one way I chose to stuff my emotional pain. With each inhale, I sucked in more self-hatred, denial, and disappointment. Even though I detested being under the control of a tiny white tube of tobacco, my mind told me I was too weak-willed to quit. The fear and justification created by my mind, which had a stubborn and illogical mind of its own, halted even the slightest movement forward. I kept turning my gaze away from the truth of my situation.

Until one day, the truth hit my soul. I was not weak. I was strong for having survived all of the challenges and heartbreak life had thrown at me. I was just scared of what life would be like and who I would be without the emotional crutch I had used for more than two decades.

The game-changing, aha moment came when I honestly looked at the reason I was using cigarettes: to avoid opening up to loving and respecting myself. The truth was that no matter how painful life had been, continuing to hurt myself was even more painful and disappointing. And hurting myself would never get back at the people who had hurt me.

Isn’t God’s gift of the power to choose to be used with thoughtfulness for the consequences of our choices?

Overcoming our fearful ego that limits us requires effort, action to move us from a victim perspective to a victor’s. We love ourselves by exercising God’s gift of purposeful choice to create responsible lives. We acknowledge we are the ones in control of our actions. There is no outside influence that controls our behavior. The only demon we face in life is our selfish, victimized, unhealthy ego. And the unhealthy ego of other people.

Since we cannot control or change anyone but ourselves, we must rise above and win the battle over ego and behave with integrity from the soul we are. Because our soul is powerful to help us accomplish whatever we put our mind and heart to.

YES you can!


When to Turn the Other Cheek and When Not to

I was the only person waiting in line one day at a coffee shop when a man entered the store. He completely ignored me and went up to the counter. At first I thought he had not seen me standing in line, so I said, “Sir, the line starts over here,” pointing behind me.

He looked at me and said, “You can wait. I am in a hurry,” and placed his order.

I know exactly what you’re thinking. My egocentric pride reactively thought the same things. How dare he act so rudely? Who does he imagine he is? How can anyone behave with such calloused entitlement and disrespect? Someone ought to teach him a lesson!


Doesn’t the universal spiritual message and standard to guide our daily behavior—the Golden Rule—emphasize treating people as we want to be treated?

Even if they behave in self-centered and rude ways that cause us to want to call them an asshole?

 There was a time in my life when I would have continued speaking to the self-centered man, or implored management to intervene in an attempt to get him to own his impolite behavior and apologize. However, I am grateful to have learned the benefit of not reacting or stooping to the same level of awareness that creates a negative situation in the first place.

I did not know the man. So I let the “nonviolent” actions of the ill-mannered stranger go.


There is no winner in an ego-boxing match.

The soul wisdom of knowing when it is best to turn the other cheek and avoid ego-boxing with someone’s entitled and irresponsible side was hard won for me. I perfected the art of ego-boxing with rude, callous individuals before I woke up to the futility of fighting someone’s self-centeredness with my own ego’s arrogance.

If a stranger was rude, I called them on their unconscious behavior. If an inconsiderate driver cut me off, I gave them the middle finger. If a man verbally assaulted me with homophobic slurs, I insulted his manhood.

Yet I honestly admit, never once did someone I chastised or insult acknowledge their behavior. Not one time did anyone express appreciation to me for helping wake them up to their unacceptable actions. Ego simply wants to do battle rather than assume responsibility for how we behave.

Why do people and companies, when confronted by whistleblowers over unethical or unsafe practices, work hard to suppress or alter evidence or to ruin the person’s reputation?

 Why do those in positions of power or in the public eye who are accused of crimes attempt to shift blame or rationalize their actions?

 Ego. My own fragile and demanding ego certainly did not thank anyone who called me on my unacceptable actions. Ego does not like to be confronted. It protects itself. We lie, for instance, and our ego then creates a web of lies in a desperate attempt to get away with the first lie. And that creates a “big” lie.

Unless we love and respect ourselves by controlling our arrogant, defensive, and unkind side, we will readily abandon our integrity and empathy. Without honor and responsibility to guide our actions, self-importance takes over. When conceit and judgment control us, we do not care about our behavior. We are not even aware of how we behave when ego is in control. And of course, our prideful ego will never condone a passive response on those occasions when we are disrespected. So,

Isn’t choosing to control our egocentric side, to behave with integrity, part of loving ourselves?

I believe so.

There is no “other.”

My most beloved friend, Byll, is over six feet tall. His petite wife stands almost five feet. Those of us who know him are never surprised when he shows up for a visit wearing a kilt. He has been known to shave his legs for a bike race. Sometimes he adds black nail polish to complete an outfit.

He is super smart. When he was a senior in high school, Harvard University wanted him. Instead, he chose to pursue his bachelor’s and Master of Fine Arts degrees at a Southern college. Long after graduation, he is continuously learning, devouring books, journals, and periodicals on various subjects.

My friend is not a fan of opinion. He is careful to weigh subject matter with great attention to detail. He seeks tangible evidence, fact, and public records to support his views on politics and social justice. He examines the world with an open mind and open heart. He ponders matters so deeply, he could have been Rodin’s model for The Thinker. And when disagreements arise, he remains even tempered, respectful, and kind.

He is patient, which is an important merit to have in our relationship, since he does not believe in God. I do believe in a benevolent, creative energy I call God. So there is an immense difference between us, one that could have ended our friendship before it began.

We may have different beliefs about God, but my friend Byll is a true superhero who respects me, regardless of how we differ. I respect him too. In fact, our discussions about God challenged me to question why I do believe in God and what I believe God is. Without being urged to examine the rote and often illogical answers programmed into me by my religious upbringing, I would not have come to appreciate God as I do. My atheist friend’s calm and peaceful conviction about what is true for him helped me grow the profound faith I have.

Have you ever discussed God with an atheist or scientist?

With respect as the foundation of our relationship, Byll and I seek to appreciate one another. We approach our friendship with the goal of benefiting from our often divergent beliefs. Both of us want to grasp each other’s perspective and engage in discussion about it. This is not easy, but it is rewarding and enlightening.

To understand one another, don’t we have the duty to stop ourselves from assuming our belief has to be what other people believe as well?

 My atheist friend Byll is one of the kindest and most responsible people I know. He is a man of honor whose consistent behavior is admirable. I know from years of observing my friend that having a deep reverence for people, and all life, is not dependent upon a belief in God or devotion to the Bible or any religious identity.

My dear friend Byll does not believe in God, yet he walks in loving thoughtfulness, respect, and responsibility. I do believe in God and also work hard to treat everyone as I want to be treated. Neither of us is perfect. But striving to live as love in action is our shared goal.

When we label someone, our mind’s tendency is to immediately jump to judgment about the person. Persecution of someone prevents us from wanting to have any connection with them, as we have already made them less than, different, and “other” in our mind. Labels and the verdicts that result from them cause us to ignore the experiences and feelings of those we do not want to know.

One-dimensional labels do not mean anything to God.

Why do labels have any value to those who say they love God? 

No matter the skin color, gender, or sexuality of our human body, the integrity of our soul matters most to God. Since soul is home to the honesty, empathy, and respect of our integrity, we can only love one another with soul.