Strengthening Character

At the end of the day, it’s only you. Alone. How you met each challenge and each conflict was up to you. Did you face your demons or pretend they didn’t exist?

There’s a lot of talk about being real. Authenticity. For me, it’s not always easy to be myself. It’s not that I try to fake people out by pretending to be someone I’m not. I’m not an impressive person and never wish to be.

My nature is to relate to people on the level they are. You might think me inauthentic at times because I’m a human who has been damaged by life. My cracks show.

When I feel I’m in an emotionally dangerous situation I’ll plaster a fake smile on and spout out the trite phrases, whatever it takes to get me through the situation. This is the game we call life.

Our character is built by the choices we make. We develop strength or kindness or wisdom through practice. Such as continuing to practice grace and mercy if you’re wishing to become a more forgiving person. Truthfully, it comes down to living intentionally, as best you can.

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My World

The nice thing about the internet and our current global society is that we choose our influences. We choose our world. You may not realize how much of this you do. Our world is no longer the gas station attendant on Main street and the store clerk on Broadway. Our news isn’t from the local barber. It’s from around the world, even foreign websites if we wish. Our world is made up of people that we see everyday in blogs and news casts. I recently realized how different this makes my life while talking to my parents. My mom still gets her self-esteem from her high school days while my dad’s morality is from his own generation’s creed. And they are not alone. Certainly they aren’t the minority in this. It’s their generation.

I often daydream (seriously) about creating my town. I’d populate it with people I admire and enjoy being around, which can change daily. On the most part I choose people like Seth Godin, Derren Brown, and Meadow DeVor, because they represent the values that I want to encourage in my life. They value people and honor individuals. Who do you have in your perfect society?

What values would I want? I pick Seth Godin because he makes me think by saying things like this,

Society benefits when people selfishly choose the long view and the generous view. The heroes we look up to are those that sacrificed to build schools, to overcome evil, to connect and lead–even though it didn’t necessarily help them in the short run. Culture and Selfishness

I also pick Derren Brown, a British illusionist. He challenges my perceptions and makes me think. But not only is he an illusionist, he encourages people to live their lives to the fullest and not to let opportunities pass them by. I saw these on YouTube, episodes The Secret of Luck and The Apocalypse.

And I can’t forget Meadow DeVor and her blog. There are so many wonderful people out there, I can’t name them all. I think you understand. The people in my imaginary village are the laughing, kindhearted, generous people who make you proud to be human.

 

What If

What if we changed our culture? What if we no longer applauded great wealth at any cost? What if we applauded generosity, compassion, and forgiveness? Yes, it’s easy for me to say these things since I’m not wealthy, but I’m not alone in saying them.

Malcolm is targeting the systems we’ve built, the truths we hold so dear and the possibility that maybe, just maybe, we can produce some more heroes. – Seth Godin in review of Malcolm Gladwell’s latest book.

http://www.squidoo.com/david-and-goliath-malcolm-gladwell-s-tour-de-force

From ABC news –

At the age of 14, Hugh Evans spent a night with cockroaches crawling all over him. That experience turned out to be life-changing for Evans, now 30. Far removed from his comfortable home in Australia, he traveled to the Philippines with an aid organization that set him up with a host family. Their home was in Smokey Mountain, a teeming slum in Manila. A boy in the family, Sonny Boy, was the same age as Evans. The disparity between their lives struck him hard. http://abcnews.go.com/blogs/headlines/2013/05/could-you-live-on-a-dollar-a-day/

In some circles we have improved. But there are enough sub-pockets in our culture that keep the generosity movement bogged down. We are a generous nation and so are people all over the world. You can see groups which care about cleaning up oil spills, those concerned about animal endangerment, and many are helping provide clean water for those in need. But we need to start at the bottom, at the base of society. Our desires. Our ambitions. Our vision of ourselves. There is a level of crud and corrosion that we must clean or we will all drown. We envy and want great wealth because we are afraid. I am afraid. If I don’t get that job, that bonus, that raise, that particular car, I’m afraid I will starve. I will perish. I will not exist anymore. I feel jealous, unloved and abandoned. Over an iPhone that I didn’t get. It’s ridiculous. My whole mindset needs rearranged. I live in a rich country. So rich that I have never missed a meal because of lack. Others around me live the same and yet we feel poor because we don’t have cable television. Or internet. Or whatever latest gadget that someone else has.

There’s an experiment going on all across the world now, or I should say it’s a conversation. It’s called by a variety of names, but in essence it’s living at the poverty level for days or months, voluntarily.

The next post in the continuing frugal gastronomy series features a pair of schoolteacher-writers who gave themselves the toughest of all restrictions: All their food had to cost no more than $1 per day per person. Amazingly, if they invited guests over to eat, the guests’ food had to be covered by the $1 allotment. You’d have to really like the guest, I suppose.

Once again, I’ll repeat: Eating on a budget is not a contest; it’s a conversation.

Read more: http://business.time.com/2009/08/18/how-to-eat-on-a-dollar-a-day/

And the most famous instance is probably Ben Affleck and his challenge from April 29 through May 3, 2013.  Could you eat for $1.50 a day?

The challenge is simple: Agree to spend no more than $1.50 on your daily grub from April 29 to May 3. That figure represents “the accepted global figure used to define extreme poverty,” according to The Global Poverty Project, which created the challenge. – Live Below The Line

Some advice from Joe Vigil:

  • Practice abundance by giving back
  • Improve personal relationships
  • Show integrity to your value system
  • Eat like a poor person

What Heals?

Just for kicks and giggles I’m going to bring up a subject that is often argued. In one corner stand the believers of the divine power. The religious and spiritual alike believe in the power of prayer, the real act. The words, the beads, the statues, the candles, the water and oil. In the other corner are the skeptics. Those that believe in medicine, in science, in studies and practice. They will tell you there is no god to answer that prayer and any help that is given, is given by people or the ill persons own psyche.

In reality these two sides merge and flow together each sharing their strengths. If only we knew the truth. Studies are done but still each side sees what they believed in originally. If it’s not god, then who? Or what? I think it all comes together if you’re standing in the right place.

The fruit of the spirit is …

Most Christians can quote this one. But what if it’s not talking about THE Spirit. What if this verse were referring to spirit in general, as opposed to flesh.

Galatians 5:22-23

New American Standard Bible (NASB)

But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control; against such things there is no law.

We talk about our lizard brain as the control center for our baser self.  We eat, we drink, we sleep, we fulfill all of our lusts. But humanity has other parts also. A portion of our brain encourages us to communicate, to interact, to be generous. These qualities or attitudes are present when people receive prayer or loved ones are near. There is acceptance. There is love. There is this overwhelming feeling of not being alone and isolated. With acceptance comes healing.

There was a study done many years ago about newborns. Those that received touch as well as the needed nourishment, thrived. Grew stronger and healthier. Those that received their food and received only the bare minimum of touch, became weaker. as if they weren’t even fed at all. What can cause such a thing? Was it really the touching alone? The Experience of Touch

So if we want to encourage healing in those around us what do we need to do? Touching? Or praying? It is very possible that we as humans can’t separate our emotions from out actions. If you know you can’t be with someone or show them affection, you tend to avoid them completely. Sometimes we avoid thinking of them.

Another topic I want to explore in the future is WHAT DOES IT MEAN TO THRIVE? How do we thrive?

I agree with Jay McDaniel,  Amma: The Hugging Saint

What the world needs now is less religion and more hugging.  At least it needs less rigid religion, amid which religion becomes ideology; and it needs more compassionate hugging of the kind that nurses give patients in hospitals.

WHERE ARE YOU AIMING?


There is a problem with just being religious.

You could interpret the religious as being pious and dedicated and good. Pure of heart and intention. The nonreligious would then be considered unholy with a bent towards hatred, murder, disease and the like. But what happens when religious persons murder even in the name of God or the church? In this skewed version of God’s will and fervor for God you can see how easy it is to loose sight of your target.

Proverbs 16:2 (New International Version)
2 All a man’s ways seem innocent to him, but motives are weighed by the LORD.

You would think that if I loved the Lord my God with all of my heart soul and mind then I would be fulfilling the whole of God’s will, since it is one of the teachings of Jesus. But it is possible to think you are doing this commandment with pure intention and miss the mark (sin) completely. What is missing?
Let’s take another look at the will of God.

Romans 13:10 (New International Version)
10 Love does no harm to its neighbor. Therefore love is the fulfillment of the law.

Could it be that the true religion has only one true intention? Love and servanthood in the name of giving to your fellow humans (without the impurity of getting something in return) leads to true piety. Power seeking and domination (needing to be right) in the name of self or in the name of religion and God leads to murder, hatred, making you miss the mark. You can perform the rituals of your church and still have hatred in your heart therefore committing murder.

Micah 6:8 (New International Version)
8 He has showed you, O man, what is good. And what does the LORD require of you? To act justly and to love mercy and to walk humbly with your God.

To aim truly you must aim with love. Intend and feel the love, kindness, goodness that is from the love of God.

Galatians 5 (New International Version)
22But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, 23gentleness and self-control. Against such things there is no law. 24Those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the sinful nature with its passions and desires. 25Since we live by the Spirit, let us keep in step with the Spirit. 26Let us not become conceited, provoking and envying each other. Shalom