Poem by Lowry Foster
May 31, 2016

An elusive state of mind, so it seems
An always moving target, in my estimation …

Just when I think I have it in my grasp, it slips away
I am sure I have a hold of it and it is gone …

How can I keep my soul from wanting more?
Is it possible to restrain myself from yearning?

When will there ever be enough?
Is it part of me to be satisfied?

It seems I am always wanting more, more, more
My thirst increases with each passing hour …

Maybe the cravings deep within, the things of this world cannot meet?
The hole in my heart remains unfilled by worldly pleasures …

Lowry is a dear friend with a sensitive heart and the gift of accurately articulating his inner self. From time to time I use some of his poetry to reinforce my thesis of the value of inner-personal work. This poem about exploring the nature of contentment reminds us that inner peace comes not from getting what we want but rather wanting what we have. This idea is stated on pages 15 and 16 of my book.

Like Lowry’s facebook page where he often contributes his stream of consciousness.

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Life Lessons – Courage

“Courage is not the absence of fear but rather the recognition that there is a greater purpose in the pursuit than the consequences that may result.”

There is a storyline that has been told and retold throughout history that is a tale of a hero making journey against impossible odds. The plot is of a solitary figure combating injustice, risking death to save the down trodden, or the figure of great integrity battling an evil bureaucracy to reestablish human dignity. From the Odyssey or David and Goliath in ancient literature to modern fictional characters such as the Lone Ranger, James Bond or Aticus Finch in to Kill A Mocking Bird, the stories inspire our imagination where we too possess the attributes of courage.

Yet courage, in real life, is less a series of dramatic events and more a single moment in time that demands an obvious action. People normally thought of as heroic train over and over again to react to potential situations in a way that keeps their emotions in check while preforming their duty. Members of the military face a battle without letting the reality of facing death debilitate them. Fire fighters rush into a burning building because their training has conditioned them to react without a thought of the potential danger. We think of this as courageous but the trained professional doesn’t understand the praise because they are “only doing their job”.

Similarly, a normal person who acts spontaneously to a save a child in danger or a passerby who rushes to help those in an auto accident do so without assessing the risk they may be putting themselves in. More often then not, they feign being called a hero because to them they are nothing special, they are only doing “what anyone would have done”.

Therefore, what is courage? It involves a frame of mind that propels an action because it has a greater purpose, at that moment, than anything else. Those who act in this way have a compelling purpose and an uncommon energy that takes over in a moment with no preparation or thought process. In many such incidences, there is little explanation as to why they were compelled to act, only that they acted instinctively and seemingly without an ability to do otherwise.

In this sense, we are all courageous when we act on a purpose in our lives. When we live for something other than ourselves we are heroes to those we use our time and talent to support. How many of us revere our mother of father for the sacrifices they made for us? When it comes our turn to give back, we do so instinctively without thinking of ourselves but only repaying what was done for us. And, there are other causes in our lives that compel us to demonstrate our willingness to give rather than take. Service clubs in our communities, non-profits supporting the underprivileged, neighbors pitching in after a destructive storm are the avenues for all of us to be courageous when we do so willingly and without any thought of making a sacrifice.

Finding your purpose and living your purpose is what Stage 12 in the book is meant to illuminate. In particular, this chapter gives an understanding of the attitudes inherent in giving. You are likely not to feel completely whole, completely satisfied or have a sense of belonging if you live without purpose. This essay is an encouragement for you to step back from self-centered pursuits and do so without any contemplation of the consequences.

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Recognizing Our True Behavior – Patience

I thought I was being Patient, until I saw I was being Stubborn.

Patience, in the adjective form, implies acceptance or tolerance of delays or problems without becoming annoyed or anxious. Patience, therefore, is a function of not seeing ourselves as more important that others. Things are allowed to be as they are without any effort on our part to manage or control to have what we desire. In fact, the lack of annoyance or anxiety means we are at ease with the situation even though we may not understand or appreciate it.

Being stubborn has some similar elements in that we do not actively intervene in a situation. But stubbornness exists without the acceptance that comes with patience. Usually stubbornness comes with a dissatisfaction or even disgust with what is happening. Even though we may stand quietly in the background, there is an air of frustration and disapproval in how we view the situation. Such feelings of non-acceptance are expressed in facial expressions and body language that are nearly impossible to hide.

In order to transition from stubbornness to patience we use the three principles of Acceptance, Forgiveness and Humility. For many of us this implies a form of weakness or passivity that seem to be at odds with the strong, self-directed image we like to project. However, each of these three principles need to be applied toward ourselves so they can feel what is going on inside us and therefore have an impact on what is going on outside us.

We need to accept our true nature, our natural aversion to unstructured or even chaotic situations. Only then can we show patience to what is going on outside us. Similarly, we need to forgive ourselves for the limits of our patience that compels us to attempt to take control. Without cutting ourselves some slack, we are not likely to show patience. Patience is an act of humility. When we have a modest view of our own importance we are more likely to fit ourselves to what is.

List a few incidences when you experienced some impatience. How might you have handled the situation with more patience and how would that have affected the outcome of the situation?

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Making a Healthy Routine your Habit

Finding time to create a healthy routine can be hard. The first step is identifying those habits and bits of routine that allow you to find both contentment and happiness, all the while having a positive influence on your mind, body, soul, or any combination of such. While this sounds simple and straightforward, it can be hard to judge actions of oneself from a “third party perspective” of sorts. We recently wrote a blog post about our experiences with this and a lesson learned from my yoga practice that articulated the idea in a way I easily consumed. Check it out by clicking here if you’re interested.

Start with one thing that you know is positive for yourself and is something that you enjoy, for example, physical exercise is something that is easily identifiable for myself that I both enjoy and has a positive impact on my mind and body. When I first recognized this, I tried to add as much physical exercise into my routine as I possibly could. The problem with this is that it became unhealthy, the relationship I had with exercising. It quickly turned from something positive in my life to something I was worrying about accomplishing or not. And on top of that, I had a quick burn out rate.

This is what I did instead.

I found myself options and made realistic goals for myself. Instead of working everyday at one specific goal, set a goal that is achievable, even if it’s just occasionally. When we are able to meet our goals, it’s a sort of message to yourself that the goals you are setting are indeed realistic and achievable. With enough positive reinforcement with one’s self, goals can become larger and sights set higher.

Making a habit stick

The leap into creating a habit from something that happens occasionally looks for me like a combination of discipline and kindness to myself. It does indeed take discipline to continue to build up your healthy habits and make it a sort of second nature. But that is the long term. In the short term, I try and remember that each day is new and each decision is no reflection on past or present decisions. With that said, life sometimes seems to have funny way of getting in the way between making our goals a reality. Find the balance of being kind to yourself and wanting to make changes and achieve goals for no one but yourself as a motivator. Once I became the main focus of my goal, it was easier for me to put effort towards it’s accomplishment.

What is a healthy habit that you use to bring more goal competition into your life and what are some steps you take to make sure your healthy habit gets done?