The POINT

After a difficult night’s sleep, who hasn’t raised a drooping head to look bleary-eyed into the bathroom mirror and said, “What’s the point?”

“The point” could mean the point of going to work, or the point of a troubled relationship, orpoint watts even the point of life itself. No matter what subject we are referring to, there often comes a time during the course of our lives when we have asked those simple words: “What’s the point?”

So to this existential question I say: “YOU are the point!”

Your soul’s continuing evolution required that YOU incarnate upon this earth-plane to expand your limited consciousness and awareness of oprahyour interconnectedness with all other beings. Your work and relationships and life itself all fall into line with that same premise. The point is that YOU are here for YOU, and for your soul’s expansion and progress.

In Spirit World prior to your incarnation on earth, you heard the theories of what love, fear, anger, envy, excitement, and heart-felt connectedness meant, but you have to be a physical presence on some type of testing grounds to actually experience those feelings for yourself.

THAT’S the entire point of why you are here: for 1st-hand experiencing of all that you are capable of handling: emotionally, psychologically, and physically.

So when you check out your disheveled self in the morning mirror and shake your head at the sight, please keep in mind that you chose to be here to see what this whole “living” thing was about, and it’s up to you to make the life experience a good one (happiness) or a bad one (unhappiness).

You can do the “victim” thing if you want—it is your choice—but in truth only YOU can determine ythour attitude and activity during the time you are here, so choose wisely—choose love-based activities—and make your time on earth the best possible experience for yourself.

That morning mirror only reveals what you expect to see in it. If you are so busy living your life, who needs the mirror?

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CSV or What Makes Real Character?

I ran across this list on Facebook and because these individual character traits are all subjects that I love to explore in my blog, I thought I’d just put the entire list on here with reference to where you can find additional information about this movement toward creating a better life for everyone and how to “grow” a better person to live that life. There are two key points I want to make on this posting before I simply provide the info that I found below:

1) This is a major change in any standard psychologist’s perspective: from what is wrong with you to what is right with you. It is called Positive Psychology. And…

2) by focusing on how to develop and “grow” those positive human traits defined below, it can actually help people live happier and more fulfilling lives.

csv handbook“CSV is based on the book Character Strengths and Virtues by Christopher Peterson and Martin Seligman (2004), and is an attempt to present a measure of humanist ideals of virtue in an empirical, rigorously scientific manner.

In the same way that the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders is used to assess and facilitate research on mental disorders, CSV is intended to provide a theoretical framework to assist in developing practical applications for positive psychology.[1] [quote taken from Wikipedia.]

“VIA Description of 24 Character Strengths for living a happy and fulfilling Life: VIA website     (VIA means “Value In Action”.)

http://www.viacharacter.org/www/Character-Strengths#nav )

Strengths of Wisdom and Knowledge: Cognitive strengths that entail the acquisition and skillful use of knowledge.
1. Creativity & Imagination [originality, ingenuity]: Thinking of novel and productive ways to conceptualize and do things.
2. Curiosity [interest, novelty-seeking, openness to experience]: Taking an interest in ongoing experience for its own sake; exploring and discovering.
3. Open-mindedness [holistic judgment, critical thinking]: Thinking things through and examining them from all sides; weighing all evidence fairly.
4. Love of learning: Mastering new skills, topics, and bodies of knowledge, whether on one’s own or formally.
5. Holistic perspective [wisdom]: Being able to provide wise counsel to others; having ways of looking at the world that make sense to oneself and to other people.

Strengths of Courage: Emotional strengths that involve the exercise of will to accomplish goals in the face of opposition, external and internal.good character traits
6. Bravery [valor]: Not shrinking from threat, challenge, difficulty, or pain; acting on convictions even if unpopular.
7. Persistence [perseverance, industriousness]: Finishing what one starts; persisting in a course of action in spite of obstacles.
8. Integrity [authenticity, honesty]: Presenting oneself in a genuine way; taking responsibility for one’s feeling and actions.
9. Vitality [zest, enthusiasm, vigor, energy]: Approaching life with optimism and energy; feeling alive and motivated.

Strengths of Humanity: interpersonal strengths that involve supporting and befriending others.
flute playing boy with waterbuffalo10. Love & Compassion: Valuing close relations with others, in particular those in which sharing and caring are reciprocated. Empathic connections with all beings.
11. Kindness [generosity, nurturance, care, compassion, altruistic love, “niceness”]: Doing favors and good deeds for others.
12. Social intelligence [emotional intelligence, personal intelligence]: Being aware of the motives and feelings of other people and oneself.

Strengths of Justice:  strengths that underlie healthy and harmonious community life.
13. Citizenship [social responsibility, loyalty, teamwork]: Working well as a member of a group or team; being loyal to the group.
14. Fairness: Treating all people the same according to notions of fairness and justice; not letting personal feelings bias decisions about others.
15. Leadership: Encouraging a group of which one is a member to get things done and at the same maintain time good relations within the group.

Strengths of Temperance: strengths that protect against unhealthy excess and egotism.
16. Forgiveness and mercy: Forgiving those who have done wrong; accepting the shortcomings of others; giving people a second chance; not being vengeful.CSV book
17. Humility / Modesty: Letting one’s accomplishments speak for themselves; not regarding oneself as more special than one is.
18. Prudence: Being careful about one’s choices; not taking undue risks; not saying or doing things that might later be regretted.
19. Self-regulation [self-control]: Regulating what one feels and does; being disciplined; controlling one’s appetites and emotions (equanimity).

Strengths of Transcendence: strengths that forge connections to the larger universe and provide meaning in life.
20. Appreciation of beauty and excellence [awe, wonder, elevation]: Appreciating beauty, excellence, and/or skilled performance in various domains of life.
21. Gratitude: Being aware of and thankful of the good things that happen; taking time to express thanks.
22Being Happy. Hope [optimism, future-mindedness, future orientation]: Expecting the best in the future and working to achieve it.
23. Humor [playfulness]: Liking to laugh and tease; bringing smiles to other people; seeing the light side.
24. Spirituality [religiousness, faith, purpose]: Having coherent beliefs about the higher purpose, the meaning of life, and the meaning of the universe.”

What are your thoughts on the focus of Positive Psychology and these categories and definitions established at VIA?

Making Meaning

If there were a recipe for living successfully and there were willing cooks to concoct it, how many fragrant loaves of “meaningful lives” would there be?breads

(It’s a trick question really.)

In essence I’m asking does living successfully equate to living a meaningful life?

Perhaps the answer might vary and lie more in the eye, mind, and body of the perceiver.

ordinaryI mention this here because I discovered long ago that I could write about any topic that flitted between my ears, and that each one would be EQUALLY important to me since every aspect of our existence on this earth is ripe with miracles and meaning. It’s just that some of the more mundane things that we experience daily are simply too familiar for us to recognize their genuine significance.

To me, meaning is something that shouts “IMPORTANT” to us in some way; but meaning by its very nature also implies that it might be more of an aesthetic/spiritual importance than a material one.

So the next question might be: Does living successfully imply a spiritual or a material standard of success?

Again for that answer, I think it would be up to the perceiver who would consider what “success” means to him or her.

Personally, time has shown me that material success and monetary pursuits are enticing challenges that can indeed offer greater opportunities for experiencing a variety of “things” that money makes possible.meaningful life quotes

But creating a meaningful life has little to do with material/financial success. In fact, a money-based focus usually obstructs feeling genuine meaning in our lives and often pits our higher intentions against egoic pleasure.

To a deeply-spiritual person (and I’m not saying deeply-religious as it’s not the same thing), spirituality is a connection to a source of energy and inner nourishment far greater than earthly confines can provide us. Material items and possessions simply cannot rival that depth of inner satisfaction.

To a deeply spiritual person who feels that intense connection to a power far greater than his earthly presence—who feels his spirit’s transcendence far beyond the body it inhabits—to THAT person, a meaningful life will be viewed as a successfully lived life, and vice versa—a successfully lived life will be a meaningful life.

To all others who do not feel that amazing higher connection to something far greater than themselves, I do not know whcartoon on meaning-Calvin and Hobbsat their answers would be, but I am thankful that mine would be considered one and the same.

So if all of life is considered a miracle, then all aspects of our lives are mini-miracles, and they should be considered as such—all are equal in value and equal of consideration.

All are fair game for meaning exposition. The quest is to simply uncover it.

Social Animals

Dalai-LamaFacebook post today (5.25.15) by His Holiness the Dalai Lama:

“We are social animals who need friends. We need a community to survive. Friends are made on the basis of trust, which only grows if you are kind to people. Exploiting, cheating and bullying others will win you no friends. Kindness and compassion gives rise to self confidence, which in turn empowers you to be honest, truthful and transparent. This self-confidence brings peace of mind, which also favors good health.”

Synchronicity is one of those things that we once referred to as “coincidences” until deciding that there really were no coincidences—that everything in our lives is intentional rather than accidental.

Personally, I viewed seeing this Facebook posting from the Dalai Lama right after I had just written a follow-up to Jean-Jacque’s comment about my previous posting, as a synchronous affirmation that indeed, what I should focus on in writing was perhaps more along the lines of helping to define what “community” means, and how to help others to become caring and compassionate community members who support each other along life’s journey.

HTH III covPerhaps this also applies to re-introducing the third book in my HONORING THE HERMIT series, called: HONORING THE HERMIT III: Building a NEW World (2005), where I actually DID once define it and elaborated on what options might help to create a better living environment for everyone.

I once had the ebook available free on my website at www.lightfoundations.com, but when the original site died last August, I never replaced the pages where it was shown in PDF form. Maybe I can just post sections from it occasionally to make my point on how you actually do go about building that NEW (and better) WORLD.

OR….. maybe I simply start another blog just about that subject: BUILDING A NEW WORLD which defines successful social and cultural customs and practices, and others can participate in defining it and discussing working examples of supportive practices. That might be better for posting because Lord knows I’d have a hard time making that subject (or anything else) my sole focus on this blog. 🙂

So I think that’s what I’ll do. When I have it up and running I’ll mention it again here and direct readers there for that blog.  (Okay, here’s the new site address:  https://hth3buildinganewworld.wordpress.com/ )

Basically what Jean-Jacques and I were discussing earlier was how so many small communities everywhere have lost that societal glue that once held them closely knit—providing all community members the safety and security of knowing that your neighbors “had your back” no matter what disastrous thing occurred, and likewise, you had theirs.Building-Community

We both feel it is essential to reestablish that cohesive framework of solid community-building where members are encouraged to create caring and compassionate societies, because as the Dalai Lama so aptly describes above: “We are social animals who need friends. We need a community to survive….”

So, let’s build one on-line first and see how that goes.

So Many Questions

Seems like the older I get, the less I think I ever did know.

It isn’t that I’m losing knowledge along the way. It’s more so I’m realizing that those certainties I once felt about life in general, really weren’t. There are no genuine life certainties to be had; and life isn’t what it once seemed to be in the brashness of my youth. It’s just not that simple.

The sureties and certainties that we repeatedly tell ourselves ddelusionaily are often indicators of some deeply-guarded delusions created by the egoic mind. They are “deeply guarded” for a reason: we base every facet of our lives on those core beliefs—everything from WHAT we do, to HOW we do it, and most importantly to the WHY we do it aspect.

While this sounds a bit ridiculous to think that we are basing our lives on such serious inner fantasies, it actually means that to us they are NOT fantasies at all because we consider some of our deepest beliefs to be above intense inspection or reconsideration.

Those are the core beliefs that we aren’t going to change our opinions on without ample evidence to their flawed nature, because we’ve already invested far too much thought and emotion into them (as have our parents invested their time drilling them into us from infancy onwards).

We grew up believing in these things—being force-fed these things in some instances, and even now, those beliefs tend to bolster our mental concept of WHO we are as a person and WHAT we want (and deserve) from life—hence that’s why they are considered CORE beliefs.

To CHANGE a cobeliefsre belief is to create before us a sudden swampland-crossing where prior we had stood firmly anchored on solid psychological pavement. That fast-dissolving sense of inner solidity and environment framing, no matter how imperfect it may later be proven to be, made us sure of a purpose to our life and even provided us tangible future goals of creating a better life for ourselves and for our loved ones—i.e.: good jobs, lots of money, quick advancement, supportive families, the GOOD LIFE, etc..

You’ll recognize those swampland-crossings as unexpected illnesses, divorces, deaths, job losses, financial upheavals, addictions, assaults, betrayals, etc.—anything that suddenly shifts your perspective out of the “my life is flowing smoothly” steam of living and into sudden and complete chaos where firm-footings no longer exist.

That’s the point where your core beliefs come under the greatest inspection. If your beliefs help you through the toughest life issues without losing your sanity, they may be solid ones. If not, you will likely be searching for greater solace in a different belief system; and you’ll also be questioning whether your earlier beliefs were in fact, delusions—things you told yourself because that’s what you wanted to believe, NOT because they were true.

I can’t speak for anyone other than myself on this matter, but over the many decades of my own existence my personal beliefs have evolved—sometimes year-by-year. Learning to think for myself from college onwards was a major step in becoming my own person, rather than remaining the person that my parents or childhoquestionsod authorities tried to mold me into being.

And for many of us, that’s what “coming into our own” is all about—finding our own way rather than being told which way to choose, or how to act, or who to wed, or what to do with our lives, etc. Moving out of our parents’ and authority figure’s shadows is the most important first step that many will make toward establishing their own sense of purpose and destiny.

That being said, there are only a few guideline questions I might suggest if you are searching for the right path for you:

  • Is it a path based on love and compassion for yourself, as well as for all others?
  • Is it a path that makes you feel happy about yourself and how you spend your time? (NO GUILT allowed on this path.)
  • Is it a path that nurtures you, and gives you a deeper sense of expansion and future possibilities in THIS world, not the next one?
  • Is it a path that allows you to grow and BE who you truly are?
  • Is it a path of FREEDOM—or are you forever tied to the expectations of others?

These are a few questions that I would have found helpful to me when I was in my early twenties trying to decide on my own path to take back then.

bike of freedomIf you are so inclined, you might try them on for size and see how they feel to you in YOUR life right now.

Life is amazingly short, even if it doesn’t seem like it at the time. Find yourself (and your true calling) early and enjoy every moment of your life daily.

A Sense of Direction

compassA 360-degree pivoting-on-one-foot scan reveals a large problem: there are so many possibilities for forward movement and yet no idea which direction to choose.

Without some sense of purpose or a specific goal in mind, we may simply head out in the direction of least resistance or head in whatever direction the prevailing wind might be pushing us.

Is that a good thing or a bad thing? Perhaps it depends on the intention behind it.

As kids we often heard: “What do you want to be when you grow up?”

At the time, I’m sure that many of us had an answer or two that might have changed from year to year or month to month, especially depending on who asked us the question and how important to us that person was—because for certain, we didn’t want to disappoint a parent or a respected authority figure—so our answers back then were often meant to impress others and create positive feedback for us.

kids drawingsTo be a child contemplating our future possibilities for personal success and communal respect without really knowing how easy or hard it might be to do the job, was a bit like making the child’s future decision on what felt momentarily intriguing and important for career prospects, but likely left us clueless on the details of how to get there.

So our childhood future-goals changed frequently and were often tried on like vacation outfits before packing for the trip. How does this look on me? How does it feel—too confining?—Too restrictive? Will I get oohs and ahhs from those who see me? Will I be the object of mass adoration; or will I get uggs and OMGs parading around in those duds—ridiculed and pointed at for wearing the wrong thing around others?

path availableThroughout our youth, schools tried to provide a structured environment with more “realistic” goals for our future, but depending on the “career possibilities range” made available to us back then, we often felt far more limited in possibilities than we did as kids with the whole wide world stretched out before us in every direction.

I am happy to see that many of today’s youth can truly feel the future is wide-open to their every inclination for personal besting, and that a 360-degree future-career possibility is within reach for most of them.

But disadvantaged youth in impoverished communities still might not feel that optimistic and buoyant about their futures. However, compared to what future prospects might have been for them 40-50 years ago, there is still a far greater range of opportunity and dream-scape available to reach toward with a little extra outside encouragement and obstacle clearing for them.

Helping kids find a sense of direction and feel a deeper purpose to their lives is important for an enlightened society—a community that cares about the strength and stability of its membership.

How we all meet the challenges of the future depends completely on the quality of the community members stepping forward to create that future.

Let’s help all children see thesmilesir true future possibilities and not be subject to what might seem easiest at the time, or leave them vulnerable to the strength of those prevailing wind gusts.

Budgets and Expendables

I usually avoid writing about government policies and politics in my blog because that’s not what this blog is about—it’s about maintaining a higher-frequency focus of living with love and compassion for everyone.

However, I guess I’m still reeling at the news that our Governor (Iowa) is planning to close two of the states remaining mental health institutions and booting out the residents to use “out-patient” mental health facilities in their original communities (if those communities even have them).

silhouette of womanThis subject of cutting the state’s budget on the backs of the most vulnerable people in our society is really bothering me because I think it will adversely affect a personal friend who has frequented one of the facilities over the last several years.

To me who has known of and shared some of her lesser challenges, I anticipate that she will face a sink-or-swim, tough-love approach to coping with her daily life. While I truly hope she can master the stroke necessary to do laps across the pool, I also know the greater likelihood of her failure to do so; and that failure can result in her quickly sinking to the bottom.

What I see as the greatest benefit to residents at a state-run mental health institution is in viewing the institution as a place of sanctuary and security—which are two of the biggest issues in anyone’s mind to establish and maintain their own wellbeing. People need to simply FEEL safe. Even being contained within a locked room provides them protection from “others” when they are in their most vulnerable states of mind and unable to make rational decisions, or to physically protect themselves (and likewise not to harm themselves)

That sanctuary and security assurance will be the first casualty when the residents are booted out onto the streets. Families and friends will be faced with impossible situations of helping/not-helping and not even knowing what “helping” really is, for someone with mental health challenges.

I’ve been trained in many different healing techniques, and I’ve seen how easily the mind can be affected and altered by devices, substances, and the ill intentions of others, besides our tendencies to adversely undermine our decision-making abilities through self-doubt, self-loathing, and self-denigratimental_health_awareness_ribbon_mousepadon.

There is so much at stake when you are messing with someone’s mental health stability. I just can’t believe that these “budget cuts” in state-run mental health facilities are wise or even conscionable for an enlightened society that claims it cares about human welfare.

Don’t take away the only safety net that some of these extremely vulnerable people have. That leaves them with even fewer options, and those options are more likely suicide or jail.