“But pain… seems to me an insufficient reason not to embrace life. Being dead is quite painless. Pain, like time, is going to come on regardless. Question is, what glorious moments can you win from life in addition to the pain?”
~ Lois McMaster Bujold
Today’s quote provoked some mixed feelings for me. As someone who was diagnosed with a chronic, incurable illness years ago, and quite literally felt like guinea pig number one for my doctors, but, through the experience learned life lessons that changed me forever, this was bitter sweet. On the other hand, as someone who has successfully implemented natural ways to keep my body healthy since the diagnosis, I was quite opposed to other parts of this quote. So, if you feel yourself fighting with parts of today’s quote while agreeing with others (or vehemently opposing the whole thing), please bear with it….I believe this quote can provide everyone valuable self-insight.
If you’ve experienced intense pain – whether it be physical, mental, or spiritual, you know that it can be difficult to embrace life in the midst of it. However, when we are in the midst of pain, the most valuable life lessons can be learned if we just embrace the circumstance and allow ourselves the opportunity to find those lessons. What life lessons have you learned through pain (of any origin)? Did you find it difficult to embrace life while dealing with pain? Why or why not? What do you suppose the author meant when she wrote about embracing life? Write about this in your journal.
Count your Blessings
“When we lose one blessing, another is often most unexpectedly given in its place”
On this day before Christmas, your journal writing prompt is a simple yet profound one. I encourage you to think about it before you begin writing today. Sometimes, we spend too much time thinking of those blessing that we lost, and not enough counting the blessings that we have. All we need to do is change our thinking just a little bit, and we can see the blessing of almost any situation.
In your journal, make a list of your blessings. I challenge you to list more than 100 blessings today. It may take a little extra work, but, strive to reach the goal of listing at least 100 blessings. After making your list, I know it will be worth it.
“When you write down your ideas you automatically focus your full attention on them. Few if any of us can write one thought and think another at the same time. Thus a pencil and paper make excellent concentration tools.”
One of the reasons I am such an advocate for everyone keeping a journal, is just what Michael Leboeuf says in today’s quote. When you write something on paper, you are focusing on that thought, that instant. It’s a great way to not only relieve your brain of the constant pressure to do more, think more, and multi-task constantly, but, it’s a wonderful way to really focus on the “task at hand” – that is, the thought or the situation you need to focus on right then.
In your journal, write about one situation in your life right now that you would like to focus on. Maybe it is a goal you have, maybe it’s a roadblock you’ve come across – or maybe it’s a nagging thought that just won’t seem to leave you alone. Let yourself focus on this, and this alone, as you write about it in your journal.
Keep it simple:
“I have yet to see any problem, however complicated, which, when you looked at it in the right way, did not become still more complicated.”
I have a good friend with whom I’ve discussed this sort of thing many times (and she knows who she is!). It seems to me that we spent more than a fair share of time taking something that is relatively easy and straightforward and *making* it complicated. It’s almost as if humans have this innate desire for everything to be so complex that there’s no hope of solving it.
For example, when I first started using WordPress (blogging software), I thought it was about the best thing since sliced bread (maybe THE best, but, maybe only a runner up, it’s hard to say when I don’t eat sliced bread.) I couldn’t believe anyone used anything else to blog with. Yet, when I introduced this to my friend, it took a little time for her to see that it was so easy to use. It was almost as if her brain was subconciously telling her that there was no way it was that easy, there must be a catch! Very quickly, though, she realized that, yes, it was super easy to use – and the rest is, well, history!
In your journal, write about something that your brain turned into a very complicated matter that was truly quite simple. Reminisce about the path you took to come to the realization it wasn’t nearly as difficult as you initially thought.
One Day, One Life
“One should count each day a separate life.”
~ Lucius Annaeus Seneca
In your journal, think about your day today. Did you do something fantastic? Something notable? Or, was it just another “ordinary” day among many in your life?
What would happen if today was the only day of your life? What if every day was your entirety of your life?
Separate from every other. One life….one day only.
How would you live your day tomorrow if it was the only day of your life?
“Nothing in this world can take the place of persistence. Talent will not; nothing is more common than unsuccessful people with talent. Genius will not; unrewarded genius is almost a proverb. Education will not; the world is full of educated derelicts. Persistence and determination alone are omnipotent. The slogan “press on” has solved and always will solve the problems of the human race”
We’ve all heard the phrase “persistence pays off”. Former President Coolidge adds to this by saying that persistence and determination are really the deciding factors in whether you accomplish what you set out to do or if you fail. In your journal, contemplate whether you agree with this statement. Does persistence and determination alone make all the difference? Or, is there something more that comes into play?
Tragedy, Dreams, and Goals
“In the name of the best within you, do not sacrifice this world to those who are its worst. In the name of the values that keep you alive, do not let your vision of man be distorted by the ugly, the cowardly, the mindless in those who have never achieved his title. Do not lose your knowledge that man’s proper estate is an upright posture, an intransigent mind and a step that travels unlimited roads. Do not let your fire go out, spark by irreplaceable spark, in the hopeless swamps of the approximate, the not-quite, the not-yet, the not-at-all. Do not let the hero in your soul perish, in lonely frustration for the life you deserved, but have never been able to reach. Check your road and the nature of your battle. The world you desired can be won, it exists, it is real, it is possible, it’s yours.”
In light of the recent terrorist bombings in London, it may be difficult to remember that people are generally good. The ugly, cowardly, and mindless acts can have a dramatic impact on the way you view the world around you. In your journal, give some thought to the events today and how they effected you and/or those you love. Allow yourself the time and candor to really “let it all out”, so that the tragedy of the events will not quelch your inner fire.
“Genius might be described as a supreme capacity for getting its possessors into trouble of all kinds.”
I used to have a beagle (Buddy) who was so smart, that he found a way to feed his “carb addiction” by pulling out drawers to make his own private ladder to the kitchen counter. When I first read today’s quote, my mind immediately drifted to memories of his frustrating “supreme capacity” of getting into all sorts of trouble. Another thought that popped into my mind was “too smart for his own good”. Which, is sort of what Mr. Butler is talking about in today’s quote.
In your journal, provide your own personal story that reflects this “too smart for your own good” situation. This can be a story about you, someone you know, a pet, an animal, or simply someone you “heard” about
“Every day we do things, we are things, that have to do with peace. If we are aware of our life…, our way of looking at things, we will know how to make peace right in the moment, we are alive.”
~Thich Nhat Hanh
In your journal, recount your day (or recount yesterday if you are journaling in the mornings). Look for little encounters throughout your day, and list them. The list doesn’t need to be long – maybe 10 encounters or so. These can be anything from going through the checkout at a local store, passing a co-worker, or talking on the phone with someone. If you are struggling to come up with 10 things, think hard on this – usually we have hundreds of encounters a day…most are just so commonplace that we don’t even take notice.
Now, for each encounter, write a short description. Did you smile at the checker? Say a kind word? Were you gruff and hurried?
Next, evaluate each encounter in the light of today’s quote. Was it a peace-promoting encounter? If it was not, why not? How could you change the encounter to make it a peace promoter?
“Silent gratitude isn’t very much use to anyone.”
Sometimes, I think it’s a side effect of our fast paced society. But, truly, we often don’t take just the few moments it requires to express our gratitude to others. Just recently, I expressed my gratitude to a customer who, in the course of our discussion, pointed out an oversight on one of our network of sites. Now, at the time, we didn’t view it as an oversight, but, what it did was lead me to think and pray on it more, and it brought about what I feel was a very good change. So, I wrote him a letter (no, not an email) expressing my deep appreciation for his comments. My gratitude for his actions.
Is there someone who you’ve been silently grateful for in your life? Write about that person in your journal, and why you haven’t expressed that gratitude to that person directly.