Fri - February 11, 2005

Enlightenment


The following quote comes from a new friend I met online, and was inspired by my own writings. I wish I wrote it myself. It sounds so much like something I would write. I think I'm going to adopt it into my own philosophy.

Enlightenment is the point at which you no longer have a need to ask questions, because you've discovered how to find any answer within yourself. Enlightenment is the place in which pure, unconditional compassion exists. It is fulfillment. It is transcendental joy. It is understanding. It is fully knowing the deepest part of one's self. It is peace. It is love. It is an awareness of everything, and a need for nothing. It is where fear, shame, negativity, and pain are all powerless. It is all of this, and yet it is simplicity defined. It is brilliant white radiance.

Posted at 09:47 PM  |   | 

Thu - February 10, 2005

Opening Flowers


Once again I find myself quoting a comment from my mom about one of my recent entries. This was in response to my writing last week To Really Know Someone.

You might also like to entertain the metaphor of a tightly closed flower bud that with the gentleness of the warming sunshine (love) and soft cleansing of the drops of rain slowly but assuredly opens its petals to reveal its inner beauty (soul).  Two such opening flowers discover they are "soul mates".

A beautiful thought.

Posted at 11:20 PM  |   | 

Wed - February 2, 2005

To Really Know Someone


I've pondered at times whether it's possible to ever really know someone. As a young adult, completely trusting and somewhat naive, I would wholeheartedly have said yes. I had since concluded in the past few years, and said (not here, but to friends) that I didn't think so anymore. It's too easy, through fear or shame, for someone to hide something. Those two emotions are way too powerful, even in small amounts, not to have an effect on a person's level of openness.

Well ... I've changed my mind again. I think it is indeed possible to have an implied open book policy that is so open and free of judgment, that truly knowing someone down to their core is attainable. The key phrase there is "free of judgment". That's the elixir. With an absence of judgment, understanding and compassion and trust flourishes, and any fear or shame that is shackling those secrets just melt away. The book is allowed to open wide, revealing the truth within.

Posted at 11:52 PM  |   | 

Mon - September 27, 2004

It's Not a War


I've been thinking more about why I'm so bothered by this War on Terror thing. Last time I talked about how "War on Terror" is a misnomer as it's not a war on anybody. But then I started asking myself why that should bother me? We've used that idiom before: "War on Drugs", for example. What's wrong with using the same idiom in this case? Well, nothing really, unless you have a leader that actually treats it like a real war!

Terrorism cannot provoke a war because there's no state entity on which to declare war. Terrorism is a law enforcement problem, pure and simple. When Timothy McVeigh carried out his act on Oklahoma City, we didn't look for some country to invade, did we? Since America produced Mr. McVeigh, should we have invaded ourselves? Or maybe we should have sought a regime change in the state of New York where he was raised? Of course that's nonsense. And so is our reaction to this War on Terror. There's nothing wrong with our military getting involved. Just be sure to treat it like the law enforcement issue that it really is.

Most of America is blind to this distinction. They hear our leader bang the drums of war, let him instill fear that any way other than his way will risk more terrorism, and allow him to continue his bullying ways on the rest of the world. Well the rest of the world is not being fooled. I heard on NPR recently a story about Europe's take on our election. If our election was decided by European voters, Kerry would beat Bush by a factor of six to one. Six to one! I'm convinced Europeans are smarter than most Americans.

Posted at 12:49 AM  |   | 

Mon - September 20, 2004

Refrain, by John Kerry


John Kerry made comments in a speech today that sound like a simple rewording of the main message in my blog entry from yesterday:

Invading Iraq has created a crisis of historic proportions. If we do not change course, there is the prospect of a war with no end in sight.... The satisfaction we take in [Saddam's] downfall does not hide this fact: We have traded a dictator for a chaos that has left America less secure.... [Bush's] miscalculations were not the equivalent of accounting errors. They were colossal failures in judgment, and judgment is what we look for in a President. [If he is elected again], he will repeat somewhere else the same reckless mistakes that have made America less secure than we can or should be.

Posted at 07:34 PM  |   | 

Sun - September 19, 2004

A Path to Destruction


I heard the following (paraphrased) on a political commentary news story on NPR:

The War on Terror is a misnomer. Terror is a tactic, and you can't have a war on a tactic.

This argument may be mostly semantics, but it raises a good point. Why are we not declaring war on an actual organization? The obvious answer is because we have multiple enemies using terror against us. We have aroused the anger of multiple groups of people. Unfortunately, we are a people who hates to stand by and do nothing when we are attacked, literally or otherwise. Unfortunately for us, we also have a leader who knows but only one counter tactic. And this brings me to the main point I want to make:

George Bush's foreign policies have us on a dangerous path. More and more he is using hard power to further our interests, rather than soft power for influence and respect using cooperation and collaboration. The hard power route instead engenders disrespect at least, and anger at worst. When you are the sole superpower, you cannot flex your power while standing alone. The American success is nothing without the respect and trust in the good faith and credit of the American financial system (our bond debt) and our ideals (foreign policy). Jeopardize our respect in the world, and we jeopardize the very foundation of our success.

We have successfully blazed a path for over 200 years that had much of the world following in our footsteps. But in the last few years that has changed. We are more alone on our path now than at any time in modern history, and more than most Americans realize. Continue down this path for a couple more decades, and it will be the undoing of the American Empire.

Posted at 10:52 PM  |   | 

Sat - August 14, 2004

Quotable Quotes


Here are few quotes I've collected recently, along with another photo from the farm...

The more you know who you are and what you want, the less you let things upset you. - Bill Murray (Bob Harris), Lost in Translation

Believe those who are seeking the truth. Doubt those who find it. - Andre Gide

There's nothing like biting off more than you can chew, and chewing it anyway. - Mark Burnett

You cannot see a horse's heart by looking at its frame. - Seabiscuit

It is the mark of an educated mind to be able to entertain a thought without accepting it. - Aristotle

The older I get, the smarter my parents get. - unknown

Posted at 08:11 PM  |   | 

Tue - July 13, 2004

Something You Should Be Proud Of


With what is becoming a series of entries about thoughtful comments between spouses, I have another example, once again from reality TV. This time it's from A&E's show Airline UK. The quotation is from checkin assistant Katrina (seen here with her husband), a few weeks after a successful operation to remove her cancer:

I remember the day when I had come home and I had my first bath after the operation. I had a big cry because I really thought my body was a mess. I mean I've got scars all over now. But then, as [my husband] Julian reminded me, "These scars are saving your life, and it's something you should be proud of." And I think it's changed my view, and once again I am proud to show them. And this summer I'll be wearing my bikini, and showing it off with pride.

Posted at 09:20 PM  |   | 

Sun - June 20, 2004

Cherished Words


While I was up north visiting my kids this weekend, I had a rewarding short conversation with my son, who is only 6. It started with the simple statement, "I'm proud to have you as my son." I could tell it caught his attention. He stopped what he was doing to process it, smiled, then replied, "Can you write that down for me, because I don't want to forget it, like while I'm sleeping?" Before I could answer he continued, "In fact, can you repeat it again because I already forgot it?" I did as he wished, then added, "Don't worry, I won't ever let you forget it."

That was the best Father's Day present I could have asked for.

Posted at 08:18 PM  |   | 

Sun - June 13, 2004

Dido In Concert


Through some good fortune and luck, I found myself with an invite with two hours notice to go see Dido in concert last night at Constitution Hall in DC. It was amazing, probably enhanced by the fact that attending was such a surprise and I had no build up of anticipation. This is a perfect opportunity to quote again from her song Life for Rent, as I did previously:

... If my life is for rent and I don't learn to buy
Well I deserve nothing more than I get
Cos nothing I have is truly mine ...

Posted at 09:11 PM  |   | 

Sat - June 12, 2004

Let it happen


When circumstances conspire in favor of a particular outcome, and the path towards that outcome continues to feel comfortable, don't fight it.

Let it happen.

Posted at 03:04 PM  |   | 

Sun - June 6, 2004

Love Actually ... is about compassion


I rented the movie Love Actually this weekend. It illuminates and showcases the many different forms that love can take. The extended title of this film is "love actually is all around". And love is many things. But the ingredient of love I want to talk about here is compassion, a subject I've touched on before.

The Love Actually DVD contains extra scenes that didn't make it into the film. One of them is a brief scene about a couple in a third-world country. The husband is a farmer, and his crops are all dead, his livelihood in shambles. But, as the director describes it, "his life is fine because his wife loves him." The scene shows the husband standing, overlooking his dead crops, when his wife approaches him:

Wife: Come on. There's nothing more you can do today.
Husband: I feel I've let you down.
Wife: Don't be stupid. As long as I can see a grin on that ugly face of yours, everything's fine with me.
Husband (laughing): We'll have to leave.
Wife (as they walk back to their modest home): If we have to, we have to ... Where do you think we should go? I hear Paris is very nice this time of year.

The wife had many choices in how to react to her husband's failure. But she chose that one.

There's a similar example in God, Sex & Apple Pie, a movie about old friends getting together for a weekend vacation. One story is of a married couple, Tim and Bobbi. Tim is a stockbroker and did insider trading 2 years prior. A phone call reveals Tim is about to be found out, and after years of deceiving Bobbi, he finally admits to her with embarrassment what he had done. In a scene where Tim is contemplating suicide, Bobbi approaches and reacts for the first time to all that she has recently learned. Her reaction is not one of disgust. It is not one of anger. Or even disappointment. It is one of concern over what Tim is going through right now. Her brief show of support, backed up by a foundation of love, has an amazing, uplifting effect on his spirit, his will, and his burden of shame.

These are both stories that illustrate a powerful level of compassion, and are powerfully beautiful.

Posted at 12:20 PM  |   | 

Sun - April 11, 2004

On Compassion


I found the following quoted in someone else's online journal and attributed to the Dalai Lama:

Compassion is what makes our lives meaningful. It is the source of all lasting happiness and joy. And it is the foundation of a good heart, the heart of one who acts out of a desire to help others. Through kindness, through affection, through honesty, through truth and justice toward all others we ensure our own benefit. This is not a matter for complicated theorizing. It is a matter of common sense.

There is no denying that consideration of others is worthwhile. There is no denying that our happiness is inextricably bound up with the happiness of others. There is no denying that if society suffers we ourselves suffer. Nor is there any denying that the more our hearts and minds are afflicted with ill-will, the more miserable we become. Thus we can reject everything else: religion, ideology, all received wisdom. But we cannot escape the necessity of love and compassion.

Posted at 11:11 AM  |   | 

Sat - April 10, 2004

Marriage Separation of Church and State


Gay marriage continues to be a hotly debated issue, dividing the nation down the middle. I'm firmly on the side of equal rights and privileges for all. The other side sees it differently. It actually surprises me how so many people can have that opinion in this day and age. I see it as nothing short of bigotry. But that's beside the point. The problem-solver in me thinks a pragmatic solution is indeed possible. Consider...

The problem seems to boil down to a matter of semantics. Many of those against gay marriage have no problem with gay civil unions. Elevating the status of a gay couple union from civil union to marriage is what they find objectionable. The word "marriage" is what causes the problem. The "sanctity of marriage" is a phrase quoted frequently, and is what those against gay marriage fear losing. Sanctity implies the imparting of religious sanction, further reinforced by the fact that the consecration of most marriages is done by a church official. Religion is by and large the basis from which most of the objections of gay marriage arise.

The question becomes then, why is marriage something controlled by the state and its laws? It seems to me that government should get out of this business. The concept of the separation of church and state would serve us very well here. The government should only issue civil union licenses, not marriage licenses. After all, the law should only concern itself with the legal aspects of couple unions, and leave the consecration of marriage to the church. This would shift the issue of gay marriage to the local level, and to the religious level, where it belongs.

Posted at 10:51 PM  |   | 

Sat - March 27, 2004

This Above All


One of my most loyal readers is my mother. She's gotten to know me better than ever through my blog. Well, the sentiment is mutual. Here is part of her email to me in response to my most recent entry Empathy Good, Judgment Bad. Thanks, mom!

No other person can totally understand the decisions that one makes in the way he lives his own life.  Certainly we cannot base our own actions on the judgments that others make regarding our actions.  For such acquiescing to the verdicts of others would lead us to sway with every breeze that came our way.  And our life would become merely a path of twists and turns.  One surely has to set his own course based upon his own firmly established set of values and remain true to those values.  I think it was Shakespeare who wrote:  "To thine own self be true, And it must follow, as the night the day, Thou canst not then be false to any man."

Posted at 10:38 AM  |   | 

Thu - March 25, 2004

Empathy Good, Judgment Bad


We all make choices every day. Our decisions are unique to us, based on own perspective, our own past, and our own value system. Occasionally they are big choices with grand consequences to our lives. Those choices are usually well thought out and given great consideration. Why, then, are important decisions sometimes met with such disapproval from others?

It's a matter of perspective. Our own decisions are made from the most important perspective of all ... our own. Anyone making a judgment has a huge hurdle to clear. It's almost impossible, in fact. They must be able to completely understand the situation we are in that led to our decision. Knowing the facts, the history, and even the nuances, requires a great deal of information and knowledge. Things are rarely as simple as they may seem on the surface.

Many people make judgments about others actions only from their own perspective and using their own personal train of thought and value system. It's the cause of much of the intolerance in this world. Seeking instead to learn the details of others situations will lead to an understanding of their struggles, and ultimately to empathy. That's far better than judgment.

And by the way, this is one reason why the laws in our society should be based far more on guaranteeing individual rights and freedom of choice, and not on forcing a particular value system upon each of us. Codifying into law a value system is not the place of government.

See my related entry, A Path to Tolerance, and Beyond.

Posted at 11:23 PM  |   | 

Tue - March 9, 2004

I've Been Bamboozled!


That was the good-natured comment by Richard Hatch when he got voted off Survivor two weeks ago. Well, I'm trying, as hard as it is, to have as good-natured an emotional reaction as I can to events from earlier this evening. You see...

I had a vision of the future pulled right out from under me. It's regarding the resolution of an important part of my life. I had it all in my mind how it was going to go. It was the focus of my thoughts, and I was going to work to make it come true. It was going to be a relatively painless path, and far better than the alternatives.

Well, that vision cannot come true anymore. I found out this evening that I was lied to and taken advantage of during the past month. In some ways I feel like a fool, but only on the surface. At a deeper level I feel sorry for the person that derailed my vision, for they are the one that is living in their self-created reality of negativity. It's only been a few hours, and already my initial feeling of betrayal and anger is giving way to sympathy. The energy that must have been required to sustain such a deception must have been stressful and tiring, fueling even more negativity. That can't be healthy for the soul.

May that soul find peace, somewhere, somehow, in the days and months ahead.

Posted at 09:54 PM  |   | 

Sun - March 7, 2004

Search Phrases


One of the most interesting parts of having my own website is looking at how people find me through search engines like Google. Any time someone does a Google search that results in my site being listed, and then clicks on the link bringing them to my site, I get to see the phrase they used to find me. Here are the most popular search phrases from just the past week:

how to let go of the past
let go of the past
let go past
How do I let go of the past
how let go of the past
individual responsibility
our past, why is it so hard to let go and go on
stream of consciousness
Learning How to Let Go
thoughts about holding a grudge
Egoism
fail to realize our mistake in time and the beautiful around us
how can I let go of a bad day?

Notice a theme? When I Google these search phrases, I see that I'm usually on the first page, and for a couple of them I'm listed at the top, number one. I have two reactions to this list. First, it's rewarding to know I'm being found. And second, I'm surprised that almost everyone that finds me through a search has the same thing on their mind. There seems to be a lot of people with the same struggle. Of course, those who know enough to search for these phrases are already half way to the finish line.

Posted at 08:50 PM  |   | 

Fri - February 27, 2004

A Matter of Heart


No one can know what's in anyone's heart, and in attempting to guess, we dredge up only our own fears and biases.

My intentions are simple.
I try to do what's right.
That's a very important ethic of mine
Always has been, and always will be.
"You're too good with words",
showing her mistrust.
How do I fix that?
when I'm just trying to be open,
and honest,
and reassuring.

The answer, of course, is that I can't. I am a victim of Negative Reframing.

Posted at 09:24 PM  |   | 

Sat - February 21, 2004

Putting It All Together


I've previously written about the concept of Egoism. Each of us always acts in our own self-interest, even when being traditionally "selfless", with behavior that we THINK will make us happy and feel good about ourselves. I've also written about Happiness Responsibility. By taking charge of our own happiness, we gain the control required to make our future reality what we wish. I've also written about the Power of Thought. That which receives the energy of our thoughts becomes our reality. Read those essays if you haven't already.

These concepts are closely related. The first, Egoism, is the truism, and defines the law by which we act and creates the challenge for us to act wisely. The second, Happiness Responsibility, provides the opportunity of control. If we take advantage of it, we create the vehicle by which we are able to shape our environment and future. The third, Power of Thought, gives us the tools to bring to reality the happiness and sense of purpose we seek.

Putting it all together involves understanding the law, confronting the challenge, seizing the opportunity, and using the tools.

Posted at 11:03 AM  |   | 

Tue - February 3, 2004

A Good Performance


One of the events during my Orlando business trip that I was particularly excited about was a presentation I was to give. It was a 90 minute technical breakout session to about 60 people, resellers of my company's product. Along with my excitement was anxiety. Several years ago I probably would have turned down an opportunity like this. These days I embrace them. Fears are odd like that. They're so much a part of us for a portion of our lives. Then, as if they become boring to us, slowly dissipate.

I did well. I was a bit disorganized with my train of thought the first 10 to 15 minutes. But after that I was in a groove, audience participation kicked in, and the experience was a blast. I can see why some people love to perform. It can be a real high.



The hotel we stayed at was impressive. These pictures were taken from the ninth floor just outside my room, looking down on the massive "lobby", surrounded by ten floors of hotel, and covered with a glass roof. The gazebo aviary is in the center with exotic birds, a few restaurants around the perimeter as well as our conference room, a bar at one end, along with a waterfall pond containing large goldfish -- a perfect setting to write a postcard.

Posted at 11:24 PM  |   | 

Fri - January 30, 2004

The Blessing of a Bad Memory


I've been thinking more lately about why some of us are able to Let Go of The Past so easily, focusing our energies on present happiness and future goals. I've concluded that the ability has a lot to do with our long term memory, or lack thereof.

Take me for example: I don't have a very good long term memory, at least in terms of specifics. Sure, I remember vague feelings of joy, frustration, and sadness in connection with certain events or periods of my life. But I can't replay any of those moments in my mind. Nor can I remember specifics about what anyone said or did. This means I am unable to hold a grudge for very long. It's virtually impossible, as my bad memory won't let me. I consider this a blessing. Given a little bit of time, I will leave the past behind and bring my thoughts forward along with me, returning their focus to my happiness "set point", a level that allows me to be optimistic and goal oriented most of the time. I can usually enjoy the next moment regardless of the previous.

I can't easily imagine what it is like to have a mind full of detailed memories. Is it easy for fears to surface? Is such a mind haunted by the possibility of repeating discomfort? It's probably just as easy for that to happen as it is to revel in the details of past joys. But managing those high thoughts and low thoughts must also be tiring. I really don't know. I have never lived it. So I'm only speculating.

All I can do, given my own perspective, is conclude that what I have ... works for me.

Posted at 11:22 PM  |   | 

Sat - January 17, 2004

Hectic Week at Work


This past week started with news from one of our resellers that they could no longer get a critical piece of hardware from Dell, and that it had been discontinued. And this came just a few weeks after I received assurances from Dell that this wouldn't happen until April at the earliest. So I rushed to test and approve a comparable part from HP. Unfortunately, the HP model costs 50% more than the Dell model, mostly because it is overkill for our needs. Calls to Dell confirmed that we couldn't get the unit anymore. But I couldn't get them to definitively confirm it had been discontinued. This back and forth with Dell went on for two days. They weren't telling me the whole story. I had an investigation on my hands.

I emailed some close associates of mine in other companies that also contribute technology to our product. One of them called me back within two hours:

Him: David, regarding the discontinued product from Dell?
Me: Yes?
Him: You need to press them harder about it.
Me: Oh really?
Him: Yes, question them more.
Me: Hmm ... Well now I'm upset.
Him: I can understand that.
Me: Can you tell how many more months I should question them for?
Him: <laugh> No, I don't know that answer. I just know that right now you should.
Me: Well, thank you. I owe you one.
Him: No problem.

The investigation will continue next week.

Posted at 09:49 PM  |   | 

Thu - January 8, 2004

Another Client Dinner


Just got back from another dinner taking clients to our local beta site to see our software in action. And it was a blast, as usual.

I love extolling the virtues of the innovative software I write to new resellers during a training class, watching them be impressed at the advantages we have over our competition, and then observing their amazement when they see it in action over dinner and really comprehend it.

What a high.

Posted at 08:58 PM  |   | 

Fri - January 2, 2004

Happy Birthday


Today is your day. Take the time to celebrate. Look at your life with thankfulness and as a gift to enjoy. And know that these happy birthday wishes are being sent to you today to let you know that you're someone very special.

As you look back on your past... I wish you an attitude of appreciation for all the lessons that you've learned. I wish you a sense of gratitude as you remember every experience. I hope you have no regrets to trouble you and try to steal your joy, for even less-than-positive experiences teach us lessons and help to shape who we are.

As you look to the future... For every question not yet answered, for every dream not yet realized, I wish you a tomorrow that will hold you gently in its arms and create the perfect way to make your dreams come true.

And for the rest of your life... I wish you love and acceptance and peace and satisfaction. May you reach every goal you set for yourself and do all the things that you want to do. May every person who is important to you celebrate this day with you.

I wish you a birthday filled with happiness, and if I've missed anything, I wish that for you, too.

Posted at 05:59 PM  |   | 

Thu - January 1, 2004

Life For Rent


In the spirit of the season for new year's resolutions, some lyrics from the latest album by Dido seem appropriate today:

It's just a thought, only a thought

... If my life is for rent and I don't learn to buy
Well I deserve nothing more than I get
Cos nothing I have is truly mine ...

Posted at 09:25 PM  |   | 

Wed - December 31, 2003

Negative Reframing


A somewhat whacked out man was convinced he was a corpse. And he had the following exchange with a stranger...

Man: "I'm a corpse."
Stranger: "You're a what?"
Man: "A corpse. I'm not alive, I'm really dead."
Stranger: "Well, corpses don't bleed, right?"
Man: "Right."
Stranger: "Well, can I prick your finger? And we'll see if you bleed?"
Man: "Sure."
Stranger: <prick> "See! You bleed."
Man: "Wow! ... Corpses really do bleed!"

This is funny, of course, because instead of the man revising the view of himself, he revised reality to fit his strongly held negative image. Most of us don't have such a radical self-image, but the concept remains the same. Even if our negative self image is proven wrong, if that image is firmly held, we will invariably reframe reality to fit that image, instead of the other way around.

Posted at 08:26 AM  |   | 

Mon - December 29, 2003

A Bad Day


I had a bad day today. It's on days like today that I'm glad I have this journal to read. It serves as a therapeutic smile -- a quick reminder of the philosophies and attitudes that have served me well in the past.

Even though today's events rattled me quite a bit, I know this part of my world can be repaired in short order. I don't know exactly how yet. But I'll get it done and move on. I do get some comfort from the fact that I manage to make days like today few and far between.

Posted at 12:21 AM  |   | 

Wed - December 17, 2003

Happiness Responsibility


It seems common that many of us look to outside forces to improve our self-esteem, self-worth, and overall happiness. If we're not happy with how we feel or how we perform, we look for some one or some thing to fix it.

For example, I was listening to NPR today when a guest mentioned how common it has become for a man who is unsatisfied with his sexuality to look to Viagra even when there is no physical dysfunction. That blue pill is seen as a panacea for self-esteem and confidence issues. The guest then pointed out that such a man, if he subsequently gets positive feedback from his improved confidence, would not know whether it was because of him or because of the blue pill. The opportunity is lost to build his own self-esteem. Conversely, many of us look for someone else to blame when things go wrong. The victim mentality is strong in this society. This time it's an opportunity lost for self-improvement. The quick fix and the quick blame are frequently two of our best friends.

When we rely primarily on outside aids, we lose the confidence that we can solve our own problems, even though we may think our problems are fewer. The real problem is that we don't feel good about ourselves for the right reason. And we lose the power to feel better about ourselves without the use of those aids. We end up depending on them for our happiness. And that is a loss of control.

To be true to ourselves we need to take responsibility for our own happiness, our own self-esteem and self-worth. We cannot rely on others for our happiness. What happens if they don't come through for us? Do we blame them? Well that wouldn't be fair. Would we ever think to outright tell someone else that they were responsible to make us happy? Probably not. Therefore we must take responsibility ourselves, entirely, for our own happiness and success.

I've talked about the Power Of Thought before, and its ability to shape our reality. It is the single most reliable tool for improving our own happiness. We always have it with us. Its efficacy is completely under our own control. The more we exercise it the more skilled we become. And best of all, we don't have to rely on any one or any thing else in a time of need. The reward comes after we build a solid happiness foundation ourselves. When we receive good will from others, that help becomes secondary and reinforcing, enhancing the self-esteem and happiness we've already built for ourselves.

Posted at 08:55 PM  |   | 

Wed - December 10, 2003

A Path to Tolerance, and Beyond


We fear the unknown. We're intimidated by what we don't understand. The difference is subtle. But for many of us, the reaction is the same. To compensate for these emotions, we seek control, even when it's none of our business. Some of us go one step further, feeling the need to impose those opinions on others. Better to instead ...

Educate ourselves, and make the unknown known. Seek knowledge and we gain power -- power over those fears and insecurities. We can combat our fears through the power of knowledge. However knowledge alone is not enough, Some very knowledgeable people manage to find ways to avoid tolerance with a closed mind. But if we're open-minded enough, we are enlightened by our newfound knowledge, our fears replaced with understanding and empathy. We will discover tolerance. And even more valuable, a self-created spirituality that pays dividends throughout our lives.

Posted at 09:57 PM  |   | 

Fri - December 5, 2003

Fortune Cookie


Found this in a recent fortune cookie I opened:

You will make many changes before settling down happily

Posted at 08:44 PM  |   | 

Mon - December 1, 2003

Work be nimble


Over lunch, my CEO and I conceived of a cool new feature for our handheld software. I spent the next two hours implementing it, an hour to fully test it, then installed it at our local beta site by 4 pm.

I love working for a small company.

Posted at 07:37 PM  |   | 

Sun - November 30, 2003

Not allowed to drive


I was watching an SCCA road race on TV this afternoon. One of the drivers had the following printed on a sign attached to his dashboard:

Fear rides in this car,
But it's not allowed to drive.

Posted at 10:33 PM  |   | 

Sat - November 22, 2003

Egoism & Our Motivations


Egoism, says Webster, is "a doctrine that individual self-interest is the actual motive of all conscious action". Everything we do is for personal gain or pleasure, or to minimize pain -- everything, no exceptions.

Some may ask, "What about when we act altruistically?" Well, the egoism doctrine would counter that there is no such thing as pure altruism (the "unselfish regard for or devotion to the welfare of others") -- it doesn't exist. The last part can certainly exist, the devotion part. But the unselfish part doesn't. Instead, altruistic behavior is rooted in the selfish need to feel good about our actions, the pleasant feeling that results from helping others. We do things for others because it makes us feel good to do so. It makes us happier and prouder about how we think of ourselves and our character. Those of us who may infrequently help others simply don't receive the same pleasure, or don't value it as highly, relative to other pleasures we seek. Those of us who are helpful to others value more highly the pleasure we receive from such actions.

Now what I should have said from the beginning is that we are motivated by what we THINK will make us happy. We don't always evaluate correctly. Nor are we always consciously aware of our true motivation.

Alright, given that philosophy, how can it help us evaluate our actions and motivations? Well ... Regarding any action, we can ask ourselves, "What's the gain? What's the payoff?" If we are not consciously aware of our motivation for an action, there must be a subconscious one that is equally self-serving. Finding and understanding it will help us know ourselves better. And I would claim the conscious ones are more likely based on logic, and the subconscious ones based on emotions. The logical ones are relatively easy to understand, the emotional ones at times very difficult to understand ... and difficult to change, if they are in reality causing us pain instead of happiness.

Posted at 05:51 PM  |   | 

Mon - November 17, 2003

It's an individual responsibility


I've been thinking a lot lately about what is most important for a successful primary partner relationship. I've come up with the following:

Realization by both persons that achieving and maintaining happiness is an individual responsibility that includes both making our own dreams come true and communicating our needs and desires to our partner.

There is an assumption (a necessity, really) that both persons wish to fulfill the needs and desires communicated to them by their partner ... out of love.

I still promise to someday devote a whole entry to the broader topic of happiness responsibility.

Posted at 08:57 PM  |   | 

Sat - November 15, 2003

Let go of the past - part 2


On MTV's reality tv show The Real World this week, Mallory and Leah finally resolve a long-standing rift between them, rooted in an incident from several weeks prior...

Mallory confronts Leah:

I just don't understand why you brought that up again. What that shows me is that you haven't forgotten about it, that you still hold some kind of grudge, that everything is taken personally, that it's still something that you think about, because you can't let anything go.

Later, after contemplating things, Leah confides in Mallory:

I let my emotions completely run things for me, and just take over.

Certain things affect us in different ways. I was very angry as a child. I was VERY angry. I didn't have my dad. I had this step-dad. And then I had my mom who always took my step-dad's side. To me that's like the ultimate rejection. And that's why, when nobody takes my side, it makes me feel like I'm being completely rejected.

The most important part of living together, is being able to put ourselves out there and become vulnerable. This has taught me a lot about friendship, and a lot about life. And that my biggest thing, is that I learn how to forgive, and part of forgiving is learning how to let go. Thank God I know that now. Cause otherwise I just get bitter or angry, and I hold on to it, and it makes me upset. And that's a waste of time.

Leah, while talking just to the camera later:

I've spent a lot of time in my life, and here with Mallory, not letting go. I regret having such angry feelings. Thank God I live with people that can teach me things that I don't know when I would have learned.

It's easier to live, if you just let things go -- because you free up all this space for GOOD things.

Posted at 10:17 AM  |   | 

Wed - November 12, 2003

The treasure of a 5-year-old


I was in New Hampshire this past weekend preparing my house for its closing. My 5-year-old son Cameron joined me in the basement on Monday to help me clean up...

It was just he and I with a task to do. We had to break apart the boxes that had accumulated over the years under the basement stairs. They had to be emptied and the boxes broken down for their trip to recycling. Cameron's job was to fill garbage bags with refuse while Daddy worked the utility knife to flatten the boxes. Cameron was on a treasure hunt. Almost every box contained something he thought was worth keeping: a tool included in a box to help with assembly, the spare part to the product we no longer had, even the pink colored wrapping paper. With few exceptions I kept him on task -- we needed to throw this stuff away. Still, it was interesting to observe that anything seemingly special was a treasure to him. He did a wonderful job with the cleanup, with a deliberate purpose that revealed his work ethic. He tired of the task prematurely (completely appropriate for his age), so we just talked while I finished. The real treasure in the basement that day was the time we spent together. Cameron never consciously noticed that treasure. Only his Dad did.

Posted at 08:38 PM  |   | 

Mon - November 3, 2003

Relative Joy of Feeling Better


For the last four days I've been sick with the flu (or maybe it was just a really bad cold). I stayed at home mostly, not feeling like doing much of anything. But today! ....

Today I felt better and went back to work. And let me tell you, did I ever enjoy the day today! I was able to get back to work and do what I love. I even started and completed a small project, which in itself always produces a very satisfying feeling. But it was also a beautiful fall day in DC, leaves littering the ground, temps in the 70s, sun shining.

Wait a second ... temps in the 70s? In November? I recently moved from New Hampshire. This is not normal for me. It's very nice, just not normal.

Anyway ... I wouldn't normally have enjoyed today as much as I did. But it was because of the fact that I had just completed four days of feeling under the weather that made being out and about enjoying life on top of the weather feel all the more special. Now if I can just harness this feeling and replay it at will ... that would be something. I'll have to work on that.

Posted at 05:26 PM  |   | 

Sat - November 1, 2003

Backward Values


Why does America have a twisted obsession with watching violence, yet fears nudity and sex?

It seems backwards to censor nudity and not violence. One is far more natural than the other. The innocent infant is born naked, is comfortable being so, and is devoid of violent impulses. Unless taught otherwise, body acceptance is natural. The warping of this morality has to be taught, and is more unique to America than the rest of the world. We even occasionally try to take it to an extreme. I am reminded of the story from a few years ago of the woman who was arrested for taking pictures of her naked daughter in the bathtub. That SHOULD be more absurd than being arrested for making a violent movie. Yet it isn't for our society.

Why are these two tendencies mentioned together by so many? Are they related? Well, there is some evidence that one is the cause of the other. The claim in the article Why Are American Boys So Aggressive is that limited affection in childhood directly leads to a tendency of violence in a society. I will go one step further and make the claim that our society's fear of nudity, sex, and comfort with our bodies directly leads to less affection towards our children and fear of public displays of affection as adults.

I'll leave any final conclusion to the reader.

Posted at 05:46 PM  |   | 

Thu - October 30, 2003

A few hundred days


The following quote is from another blog I recently stumbled onto, and seems particularly poignant for me right now...

I am staggeringly aware of how much one's life can change in a matter of a few hundred days.

Posted at 08:55 AM  |   | 

Wed - October 29, 2003

Let go of the past


Why is it so hard for some people to let go of the past? It's not as if it can be changed. It's over. It's history. Granted, it is wise to study it, learn from it, and install safeguards to protect from repeating mistakes. Fine. Do that. But then move on.

On a deeper level...

Thought is energy, arguably the most powerful energy. That which receives the focus of our thoughts, our energy, gains power. The powerful becomes our reality. The amazing thing is ... the choice of what receives the focus of our thoughts and energy is entirely ours to make. Fail to choose wisely, giving power to past issues, and we'll meet with present day anxiety and fear. Go overboard and we'll be consumed by that fear, even paralyzed by it, unable to see what is beautiful around us. Fail to realize our mistake in time and the beautiful around us will flee. (sigh) But if we instead choose wisely, gifting the energy of our thoughts to the tomorrow we desire, that gift will be returned to us.

This all ties into the related concept of taking responsibility for our own happiness. But I'll save that for another entry.

Posted at 06:10 PM  |   | 

Sun - October 19, 2003

Not Missing the Story


Ever been in a public place with swarms of other people around, and realize that you witnessed something no one else took the time to notice?

I was enjoying a beautiful fall day in DC, sitting beside the front steps of the Museum of Natural History watching the steady stream of tourists pass by. A dad and his 3 kids plopped down on the steps 10 feet from me to finish their popcorn before heading in to the museum. While it was apparent each of them was rushing, the 3 year old won the award for the least tidy eating habits. When they rose to scurry inside, they left behind plenty of evidence of their feast. The windy day swirled the less massive kernels into a more scattered mess. I only had a few seconds to stew over the newly littered public space when it became apparent I wasn't the only eyes watching. A storm of urban birds came from behind me as if they were employed by the city's sanitary department waiting to do their work. Periodically interrupted by more bipeds with no regard for the important work underway, the cleanup crew finished their task with an efficiency indicating these were experienced professionals dedicated to their calling.

Posted at 08:06 PM  |   | 


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