motivational quotes 11/10/17

We assume everything is forever. But in fact quite the opposite is true. Everything is but for a short period of time.

Where you begin makes a big difference where you end up. (Gretchen Rubin)

Short cuts yield short term benefits

Wisdom is a hard won possession. (Plato)

Acceptance into the group means survival.

The brain is not the seat of the mind; the face is!

You have to keep growing.

Destiny is poetic; sometimes cruel, sometimes victorious.

Your fate has your personality.

 

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There is genius in a glance

We measure “smarts” by books and discoveries. Einstein was smart because he was good at science. So was Newton. The mathematical genius of these men was unrivaled. But I actually think there’s a whole another type of genius: nonverbal communication.

Certainly the brain is working harder when it is allowed to just be and see, than when it is made to compute. What’s 2 times 2? Who cares! That does not get my mind going. Perhaps this is why I am no mathematician and never really was. My point is that there is more than one aspect to the mind; more than the computational intellect.

There is the emotional mind, which is what we use to perceive reality. And it is at its best when it is just allowed to be and see. You can’t really bring the soul out by force, when you tell it to or when you want it to. One becomes a good observer by simply observing. Observe your reality. Observe those around you. And you will see that when you look at people, their skin changes. It literally contains the workings of their mind.

The face is a mirror to the workings of the mind. When you focus in on someone, they will have more focus. Their mind will come to their face. Emotions are communicable. What you feel is felt by others around you.

Newton and Einstein may have been the world’s best “calculators”, but were they the best “nonverbal communicators”? No, everyone can be a good nonverbal communicator. All one needs to do is to let his emotions show. Sometimes, we don’t, we won’t, because we’re shy or don’t trust others! But at other times, we can become “emotionally outgoing” whether with someone on the bus, at a café or walking down the street. In that case, we have made a friend, even if it is a friend we never said one word to, or even made direct eye contact with.

on Tirana, Albania

Tirana, the capital and the heart of modern Albania, is not a bad city. Nor is it good. But plagued by problems as it is, if we judge the society by its people, this is a good society. Amidst the open sewers, and abundant litter, you will find very respectable looking men and women. Likewise, in a square of old apartments with decaying facades in desperate need of upkeep, you will find little neighborhood kids playing with each other. Tirana is ugly but at the same time it is a human city. It is very walkable, and it has a sense of community. Albania has a walking culture. People walk out and about. Walking is good, because people get physical exercise and they feel surrounded and not alone. In America, we do not have “a walking culture.”

At the same time, Tirana is a mess. It has no town planning, and no order. It has countless alleyways that run in all directions; in other words, no direction at all. It has a lot of traffic and no rules. You just get out there, and be fearless. Everyone here is fearless but surprisingly dispassionate. The prevailing attitude here is, “Who cares? It’s no big deal.” This is a very liberating attitude, but it is a significant cultural difference from the States. It must be taken in healthy doses, or it may just feel like plain old apathy.

People require less space for comfort here. Living quarters are smaller. The primary city dwelling is the apartment. Cars are smaller, leaner, and clothes fit tighter. Americans, who live in a country known for its great size, might find these facts a bit disconcerting, but trust me, when you’re here everything seems just about right.

Indeed Tirana and Albania can seem elegant at times, even sophisticated, and with attention to detail; but even so, it is just one big mess. It is a place that defies characterization. It has nothing in common with America. I cannot interpret it because it does not have order or defining qualities. You may look out the balcony and see poor people digging through trash and yet right near them a brand new Mercedes is driving by. Then you go walking and pass by several stray dogs, and yet the people you walk next to are wearing suits and ties. The place is shooting off in all directions at once. If one can embrace the noise, the dirt and dust, the hectic atmosphere and the total absence of order and direction, or rather can manage to tolerate them, one can live here.

excerpted from my travel essay Albania: A Visit Back Home. Wanna buy it? Get it on Amazon.

Essay on a religious retreat

Pilgrim Hills Retreat, Berlin, Ohio

January 2016

What I liked about the retreat was the conversation. Here we were four people in the middle of nowhere, with no TV and no radio. So the questions becomes: “How are we to pass the time?” By engaging in conversation! Meaningful discussion. I am inclined to believe that because we “removed technology” the quality of conversation and discussion improved. I also learned, through experience, what the meaning of a retreat is. It is literally, a retreat from modern society into a “simpler time,” a time without technology.

Some of the things we talked about were philosophical in nature. For example, we talked about the idea of always wanting more. More money, more success, more riches. And how always wanting more is problematic because it makes you feel you don’t have enough. I am an author and that can be a problem: wanting more book sales, more popularity, more success. And it feels like you have too little. That’s a trap to be avoided. The temptation of always wanting more.

The first evening we read some psalms, one from the bible and a few written by regular people. I am struck by the positivity of these psalms. And the humility. And the imagery: “I am like a tree planted by a river… with leaves that are always green.” And I am also struck by the faith that the writers has. They truly believe in God. “God save me! I need your help,” says another one. And when I say they believe in God, I mean they believe in the power of God to help them, as opposed to just the existence of God. To believe as in to have faith in God. As opposed to be scientific about the facts of God. As a religious person I have faith that God exists and wants to help me. I don’t know that God exists. I can’t prove it. But that’s not what religion is all about. It’s about believing. And by practicing religion we cultivate the capacity for belief. Because, just like with everything else, if we stop doing it, we lose our skill to do it. This retreat taught me to practice my religion. It gave me practice.

The next evening we discussed the gospel of Luke. One passage that I am reminded of is “Love your enemies.” This to me is the most essential of Christ’s teaching. And we discussed how hard it can be to love your enemies. It’s easier said than done. And now that I think about it, did Jesus love his enemies? I don’t know. I don’t think it was easy for Christ to love his enemies; certainly it was no easier for him to do so than for any of us. But he tried to love his enemies. But let’s not assume that goodness was easy for Christ. I think it was just as easy for him to be bad as for us. But Jesus was good, because he valued goodness. And I’m sure Jesus made mistakes. But he never gave up the path of goodness. And he preached for us to walk the same path in life. It is hard to be good. It’s not a paved road. It’s bumpy and full of rocks. But it leads to the right place. I am struck by the fact that there have been several teachers who have made it their life’s work to: “show humanity how to live.” Christ, Mohammad, Buddha. Life does not come with an instruction manual. These leaders have written a manual for life. Religion is an instruction manual for life. And in all of these religions goodness and benevolence is paramount.

One other passage we talked about is “ask and it will be given you, search and you will find, knock and the door will be opened for you.” I love this passage. It shows the power of positive thinking. Then Dr. Padberg mentioned another Greek translation that says in fact, “keep asking and it will be given you, keep searching and you will find.” This in my mind throws an entirely different light on the matter. It emphasizes persistence. In life, you have to keep asking, keep searching, keep knocking. There is no way the door will open with one knock. Life is about perseverance and persistence.

This retreat showed me that religion has some of the same ideas I already believe in:  1. positive thinking, 2. goodness and 3. perseverance. If it’s in the Bible, it’s got authority! So I believe the early thinkers of our times, knew what we know, and valued what we value. They put it in the good book. And that’s why the Bible has survived for two millennia because it preaches the lessons of positivity, goodness and perseverance. These lessons have survived the test of time.

 

The world of spirit versus the world of matter

Spirit always takes precedent over matter. It is better. Of course. But the world we live in is fundamentally characterized by matter. This state of existence is physical and material. Our goal, though we live in the world of matter, is to infuse our brains and bodies with spirit, which we also call liveliness and happiness. Yet many times we cannot be happy, and we find ourselves just going through the motions of life without spirit, ghostlike or even in a depression.

The realm of spirit, also known popularly as the afterlife, on the other hand, is the opposite of the world of matter. It is fundamentally spiritual, and is not of matter. It is pure spirit. Thus it is impossible to feel very little happiness or nothing at all in the world of spirit. In fact, in the afterlife one is much more alive than here in the physical world, because that life is wholly spiritual.

Motivational Quotes 9/15/17

I am alive. Today I want to be happy and it is in my power to be happy in the here and in the now.

If you are depressed now, don’t give up. Look at the long view and take comfort in the bright future that lies ahead.

Have a purpose! Make your work/job/hobby your purpose!

You have what you need; you just have to learn to put it to good use.

Don’t stop dreaming. Don’t stop hoping

There’s gotta be something to live for!

Stand for something!

Your success matters

Motivational Quotes 8/18/17

If you’re not enjoying yourself you’re not doing it right.

Work will keep your mind of your worries.

Lose in the beginning; win in the end.

Always accept an outstretched hand.

Refuse to believe that your life will have a sad ending.

Be passionate about what you do, and you will be saved.

There is no ‘magic cure’ to your problems, so don’t try to reinvent the wheel.

Look for happiness in common things.

If you are not going forwards, you are going backwards.