Fall Essays 2017

  • Solstice - More light for our days

    The winter solstice in the northern hemisphere marks the shortest daytime of the year, so that the sun shines a bit more on the next day and on all succeeding days until the summer solstice. The day of Christ’s birth, which was not recorded in history, has long been celebrated shortly after the winter solstice as an affirmation that more light comes into the world in the person of Jesus. The symbol of longer daylight and less darkness carries over from the observable visible change that takes place in nature to reflections on our belief that increasing the light of trust and love overcomes the darkness of selfishness and negativity.

    If we reflect on our experience, we will find that we are very likely solstice-connected, at least to some degree. Not that the decisions we make are determined by the movement of the earth around the sun, but that our behavior, linked with the solstice through cultural, civic and religious habits, supports and encourages us to increase our care for the well-being of family, friends, colleagues and our fellow humans who are in need. We do not consciously think about length of sunlight in a day as a cause for giving the gift of our time and energy on behalf of others, but we have come to expect of ourselves and of one another that this is a time of year to be more helpful, more thoughtful and considerate of others, and to take joy in doing so.

    The day after the winter solstice, very few of us will notice by direct observation that the daylight hours have slightly increased. Only when we look back after some days or weeks does it usually become apparent that the equation between day and night has certainly begun to favor light over the times of darkness. In a similar way, we rarely notice immediate positive results from accepting a new challenge or from taking on a new practice of physical or spiritual exercise. After some time, especially if we reflect upon the events of our days in a regular fashion, we will recognize that the way we choose to live and act brings more light into our world and to that of others. These internal spiritual solstice movements are not dependent upon a calendar, but upon the one absolute force that moves throughout the entire universe: love.

    Every artist, store clerk, politician, parent, or whatever name might serve to describe any of us, is right now on one side or other of a personal solstice: either oriented toward conveying more light into the world or toward adding to the darkness. Because this is a celebration of love, Christmas offers us an opportunity to consciously direct our energies towards becoming bearers of more light, not darkness. God loves us, becomes one with us and consoles us, enabling us to act in a similar manner not only with family and friends but even on behalf of people we have never met.

    We have passed the solstice. Christmas Blessings to all.

  • Wind - The wind blows where it will and so do inspirations move within us.

    Wind is a general name we use for a number of weather conditions, some dramatic and life-changing, others of hardly any note at all. In Southern California, wind can be a very unwelcome dangerous force, capable of blowing embers and flames of hugely damaging fires right through entire communities. Wind can also be quite welcome as a generally reliable source of non-polluting electrical power.

    Though we can make use of wind for our own purposes, we do not control wind itself, any more than we control the weather which is caused by wind. Winds can be gentle, as in barely perceptible breezes, strong, as when we feel it blowing upon us, and violent, as in hurricanes and other destructive weather events.

    All the analogies of wind that we use in order to help us better understand spiritual realities are positive descriptions. Even if we use the metaphor of storms when describing powerful internal discord, rarely do we suggest that even the strongest interior struggle is like a force 10 wind that causes death and destruction. Rather, the qualities of invisibility, varying power and the perceptible effects of wind, are the easily recognized aspects that apply to all movements of inspiration and insight.

    Sometimes a thought comes to mind when we are not looking for it, but it is exactly the right impulse for whatever we are involved in at the time. The experience can be likened to a gentle breeze that has touched us, guiding us in a positive direction, though we know not from whence it came. We might recall a recent moment when, without any effort or directed thought on our part, an idea came to mind to call a friend, or to perform some spontaneous act of responsibility that no one would notice, and we knew that we were the better for following such a good-spirited undertaking.

    At other times, we are quite aware of a movement like a strong breeze or a wind moving within our minds as our thoughts become focused and clear with creative ideas and imaginative concepts enabling us to move quickly yet wisely forward with plans that are of benefit to others and also pleasing to us. We could reflect on such experiences and see them as blest, as spiritual in nature, and certainly as positive in every aspect.

    The wind blows when and where it does without our having the least say about its movement. Neither do we cause or create inspired thought. But just as engineers place windmills in places where winds typically blow with regularity, we can deliberately arrange our dispositions to act on inspired thoughts whenever they come. As spiritual persons, we are free to open our minds and hearts to inspirations and insights. We can also invite, seek and ask for practical and helpful ideas. Creativity and imagination thrive when we choose to align ourselves with an internal movement that guides us towards the good.

    Our experiences verify the reality of the Spirit’s activity as a graced wind that moves within us.

  • Wireless - We cannot see, hear or feel the transmission of our love any more that we can directly observe radio waves.

    Many years ago, radios were the only wireless devices in common usage. Now there are all kinds of Wi-Fi appliances and other wireless electronic equipment, from cell phones that permit world-wide communication to tiny specialized transmitters that operate within an area of only a few inches.

    Although we know something about the workings of radio waves, wireless communication still seems a cause for wonder to many of us, since the transmission of data, voice and imagery takes place with no visible connection. If we are willing, we can find even more cause for wonder and other gracious interior sentiments if we reflect on the wireless communication of love that crosses distances both vast and immediately proximate.

    Many of us have had experiences of thinking about someone who is distant from us, and learning later that he or she was thinking about us at the same time. Occasionally, one of us contacts the other directly, and our previous individual moments of caring thought become known as some kind of mutual communication that was taking place. Whether such experiences are common or not, they indicate something that most of us know at an intuitive level: there is a real, though not physical, bond that grows as we care for one another in thoughts, memories and prayer. We cannot measure or prove that this is so, but we can be certain that love is too great a force to be of less real power than mere radio waves. For example, think of how a single glance of loving care can elicit a smile or an elevated level of heart rate.

    When we reflect on the act of praying, and think of it more as loving communication between ourselves and God than as something that we do by way of religious responsibility, we can readily find causes for wonder and practical applications to our other relationships. The measure of our love for anyone is not found in how hard we strive to express our care, but in the truth of how we value him or her. We do not show our love for God, or for anyone else, by the quantity of our words, but by whatever expressions flow from the sincerity in our hearts. When we pray for others as an expression of love which we share with our mutual creator and lover, it is the quality of our care that brings about the unquantifiable benefits that praying brings to all of us.

    When we pray with and for others, we cannot see, hear or feel the transmission of our love any more that we can observe the radio waves that we rely upon for many of our every-day communications. But just as we easily perceive the results of transmitted radio waves in all our electronic devices, so also we have interior senses that give us assurance about the good consequences of praying in any of the ways that love suggests. We know, without needing external proofs, that no one is every harmed by prayer.

    Love is an absolutely free manner of wireless communication.

  • Obedience of Trust - Obedience and trust go well together.

    When we ask for or accept guidance from someone we really trust, we act as one who obeys. We are not commanded; our certainty of acting appropriately is based on our trust in their experience and understanding, as well as their concern for our welfare. Trusting in this way is not the same as obeying commands for fear of suffering negative consequences.

    No one can require trust of us; it is a free choice. So, obedience of trust is not something we give lightly. Our decisions to accept direction from others is not usually based on popular verbal expressions such as “trust me.” Rather, we assess each person’s relationship with us, and decide in which circumstances and to what degree we will ask for or accept his or her suggestions or directive statements.

    When we are able to engage the obedience of trust, relying on someone else to make a decision or to give us direction, we save a significant amount of time and energy. We do not, for example, have to investigate all the possibilities that there might be. Even if we could, we know that some people have much more experience than we do in particular areas and so can serve to guide us more surely than if we simply acted on our own. In addition, some of our friends and family members know our strengths and weaknesses very well, including those of which we are hardly aware, and are able to remain unaffected by those emotional responses that might limit our perceptions of reality. We really do not have to know everything in order to make the wise decision of following advice or strong direction from a source other than our own knowledge of a particular situation.

    We may already have found from experience that there is a spiritual dimension to trust in general, and to obedience in particular. We are not fully satisfied with reasoning that others might know more than we do as the cause for trusting their judgement and for obeying. Our trust goes to a deeper level where we implicitly rely on belief in a transcendent movement of goodness and love that holds everything and everyone in being. We can, with sound mind and conscience, obey others in matters that affect our well-being by letting our trust be guided by interior movements in our hearts and minds. We accept as an important source of information for our decision-making, the “yes” or “no” to obedience of trust what we find within our thoughts and feelings, our minds and hearts. 

    Some people want to know what God’s will is for them, thinking that they would then be sure of making good decisions. But very few of us receive direct commands or revelations. Rather, when we carefully reflect on whether or not we are peacefully content with trusting and obeying, we have both God’s will and ours in realistic alignment. We do not come to some kind of theoretical perfect decision, but we exercise whatever gifts we presently have of trust and love in a human manner that truly and realistically reflects the image and likeness of God.

    Obedience and trust go well together.

  • White Fridays - For expressing concern for others every day, not just a day or two of big sales.

    The day after Thanksgiving is labeled “black Friday” by business interests, as a time for consumers to spend money on gifts and personal possessions that are well-advertised and superficially attractive but usually not necessary. By way of a meaningful contrast, we can mark all our days as “white Fridays” by providing gifts of great value to others as well as obtaining deep satisfaction for ourselves. Though at some personal cost, we can do so without spending money, by making ourselves present to others.

    When we accompany people while everything is going well, our material gifts are usually quite welcome. Who does not enjoy watching children play with a new toy, or being the cause of joy when treating a friend or family member to a meal? But when someone is hurting, whether physically, emotionally or spiritually, the most appreciated gift we can give is our presence. Material helps may be appropriate, but we, with our own weaknesses and limitations, are the unique gifts that make a positive difference when we give our time and personal attention to those who are suffering in any way.

    We bring a spiritual perspective to others not so much by what we say, but by accompaniment; not by “fixing” difficulties, but by acknowledging reality as a means of helping them to accept what we and they cannot change. When we act in this way, we bring the light of true caring to our relationships rather than half-truths and wishful thinking. When someone is the recipient of bad news we help him or her far more by accepting whatever is true than if we attempt to minimize the challenges. When we are really present to and with another person, we might not have the same feelings as they do, but in appreciating their perspective, we give them meaningful support.

    Almost all advertisements display people smiling, as if whatever is offered for sale brings happiness. Of course we want to be happy, but material things can only bring about pleasure, not happiness. Family life, friendships and all real relationships include aspects of love that transcend mere superficial feelings and are much deeper than smiley-happiness. When we remain with people in hard times, as when they suffer setbacks, disappointment and even failures, we share with them a respect for the gift of life that is far greater than a desire for immediate happiness. Sincere presence may not heal wounds, but it is always part of the healing process and often brings forth smiles of appreciation.

    We perform a far greater service of love by being fully present to people than by running to the biggest sale in progress in order to purchase presents for them. Of course we give of our time and effort in preparing gifts that manifest our love and care for others. And in some situations, material gifts are the means for being present to others because of the personal nature of whatever is given. But “white Fridays” of expressing concern for others are for every day, not just a day or two set aside for discount sales.

  • Taking Thanks - Giving thanks intensifies deepens our appreciation.

    How meaningful for us that the English language contains a word for thanksgiving, but not one for the opposite, taking thanks. People thank us for things that we say and do. We receive thanks, we do not take thanks. The difference is not just in the words that are available for our use, but in the meaning of gratitude. We are recipients of gifts, not of payments that are due to us. We can be ungrateful, not giving thanks. But we cannot take thanks, no matter how intensely we might want or believe ourselves deserving of others’ expressions of gratitude. 

    The contrast between giving and receiving is not at all the same as the difference between giving and taking. When we give thanks and when we receive thanks the exchange that takes place is an intentional and relational gift of the heart. Taking, no matter how legitimate, is usually done for one’s self, and does not necessarily include the qualities of an interpersonal relationship.  

    Thanksgiving, in all the variety of ways we go about the celebration of the National Holiday and all of our many other expressions of gratitude, is like good clean water that makes healthy life possible for us. We grow thirsty any time we fail to take in enough water and become weak and even open to illness if we lack sufficient hydration. Giving thanks is a heart-healthy process that meets a basic thirst in all of us. As givers, we create of our own good will, essential life-enabling water of the spirit for others. In the act of thanksgiving we not only do not lose some of what we had, but we gain even more capacity and facility in expressing gratitude. As we receive various indications of thanks, we become less susceptible to the debilitating effects of isolation from human interchange.

    Saying “thanks” is a very small gift, yet each time we say the words with even the least bit of caring intent, we have made a healthy contribution to the community of persons among whom we live. How different such spiritual goods are from words, gestures and body-language that convey criticism and indifference. In the exercise of gratitude, we each give from within us one of the most helpful remedies for many of the sicknesses that afflict the human heart.

    Since not all that is good in the world in general and in our lives in particular come to us from what others say and do, we always have the option of directing thanks to the Creator for all the good gifts we continually receive. We find much satisfaction in thanking God for the delight we sometimes take in life itself, for the only one besides us who knows fully our internal experience is God. Giving thanks intensifies and deepens our appreciation for much that, taken only for granted, would give us very little joy.

    Thanks is for giving and receiving, not taking.

  • Royalty - Titles or Qualities?

    If every girl has been led to believe that she is a princess and every boy a prince, some will be severely disappointed when they discover that all the others also consider themselves as royalty; having been given the title does not earn them any special considerations. All of us have a responsibility to base our expectations not on titles that we might have received, but on our experiences of interacting with others. Most of us wind up being neither a princess nor a prince and have learned that whoever we are and whoever we are becoming, we do so through the decisions that we make, not the titles that others might give to us.

    Royalty who are heads of state have inherited their titles, so only a very small number of persons will have the prerogatives that accompany that kind of position. There are of course many other titles and positions in society that carry with them distinctive privileges. Famous movie and television personages, public figures in politics, leaders in large businesses and even religious figures such as Pope Francis and the Dalai Lama are examples. Those who want to have the same exceptional treatment and fame that royalty and other famous persons receive usually focus their attention only on the especially visible and attractive features that they perceive those people to possess. But even royalty have responsibilities and limitations in their lives as do all of us.

    Some people, who have even minor positions where service of others is required, are overmuch impressed with their titles and privileges to the detriment of carrying out their responsibilities. Yet there are very wealthy, powerful and well-known public figures including royalty who take pride not in themselves, but in the quality of their service to others. If we reflect for a moment, we can easily recognize the difference between the kind of royalty that we identify with at all levels, and those whom we consider as notable solely for their fame, wealth or power.

    For a broader understanding of royalty, we can turn our attention to the qualities of persons that we observe, and not the kind of titles by which they are known. In relating with others, we have found that some of them are almost royalty for us not in terms of public honor, great wealth or far-ranging power, but because we highly esteem them for their selfless care for us and for others, and we spontaneously want to be like them.

    This kind of royalty is actually the appropriate model for all who have the public’s admiration. And, we ourselves can become this kind of royalty even if no one gives us a special title. When we give ourselves fully into whatever we can say and do that will be helpful to those with whom we interact, we are members of responsible royalty, living out the inherited qualities of being created in the image and likeness of God. From another perspective, we choose to live according to our deepest desires rather than from superficial attractions.

    All of us can be royal-hearted.

  • Others - Look out the windows of our souls instead of in the mirror.

    When we think of other people in a general sort of way, or of other persons in particular, we usually do so with reference to ourselves. In thinking or speaking about others, we view them according to our own perspectives, interests, values, cultural norms and personal histories that include our interactions and relationships with everyone we have known. From earliest childhood, we have been making judgments about others that have often been based primarily on their compatibility or incompatibility with us. When we choose categories other than those that are self-related, our judgments can change, even radically, with consequent gain to all concerned.

    One of the most common learning experiences about others takes place when, for example, we begin to think of someone with dislike, whether for a particular reason or for none, and then have an occasion to relate directly with him or her. When we come to know another person, especially through even a small amount of honest interchange, our thoughts and feelings often change. The other person does not modify who he or she is in order to accommodate us. Rather, we gain a better perspective through a shared human experience that reduces the former uncomfortable distance between us.

    Even when we learn things about other persons that seem to us as incompatible with basic human goodness, we still have the option of making judgments about them that are not based only on their observable behavior. We have personal and communal responsibilities that require us to speak and act appropriately, taking into account information beyond our immediate experience. Whatever we perceive of anyone’s present behavior does not necessarily arise from permanent characteristics. If we have become at all aware of our own personal history, we know how many of our habitual ways of thinking and acting have changed. We have likely experienced in ourselves moments of generosity and greatness and also of misunderstanding and irrational prejudices. We have responded differently at various times to movements of love, fear and anger. This does not excuse negative or wrongful words and deeds in others or in ourselves, but serves to help us appreciate that none of us should be judged only by what can be seen and heard.

    God is also “other.” But if we think about God only in relation to ourselves, we are likely to make judgments that severely limit any experiences we might have or want to have of God. Just as with all other persons, we can decide to use categories for judgment that are not self-related, and look out the windows of our souls instead of in the mirror. There is so much more to discover, learn and appreciate in a relationship when we do not base our judgments only on how we perceive ourselves, but on who the other is. We might say this of anyone, but it applies uniquely to one other: “Let God be God, and then relate with God as you are.” Of course we can always continue to learn more about God from many different sources, but to stand, sit or walk with God as other allows us to meet the only one who not only loves us, but is Love. 

  • Two Standards - We can reflect upon our experiences and learn from all of them.

    No one likes to be on the receiving end of a double standard. When people employ one set of norms for themselves and a different standard for everyone else, we call the behavior unjust. We are quite accepting of those who prefer a particular team, TV program or mode of transportation to another, since no moral or ethical standard is involved. When it comes to a choice of right or wrong, we would hope that everyone would opt for whatever is right.

    When Ignatius of Loyola writes about two standards in his book of spiritual exercises, he proposes a reflection about decision-making based not on standards of behavior, but on personal experiences of both transcendence and selfishness. The particular exercise about two different standards is not about choosing one or the other, but rather would have us carefully reflect on the effects that generous, loving decisions have upon us and also the consequences of wholly self-oriented choices.

    Most of us learn from both good examples and also from bad models of behavior. We have had mentors, coaches, advisors and friends whom we continue to emulate. And we have been with people whose words and actions are repulsive to us. Making our own decisions for what seems right and good is supported by our clear recognition of the values that are exemplified or contradicted by these others.

    But we can also be unaware of how the words and behavior of our peers can sometimes influence us to the point where we might contravene the norms and beliefs we hold as ours. For example, when those around us expect us to act in a certain way, peer pressure might become a real factor in the choices we make at that time. We can also find ourselves manipulated not just by ordinary direct advertising that entices us to immediate satisfaction of our appetites, but also by very artfully presented stories. This is especially true of multi-media presentations that bypass our intelligence by appealing directly to our emotions. Who has not been entertained by a movie or a TV program that used every form of dramatic art to produce in us identification with a character whose values we would otherwise deplore?

    Rather than blaming those who make use of art, psychology and other means to give expression to their way of thinking and acting, a far better option encouraged by Ignatius’ idea of two standards, is to consciously reflect upon our experiences and learn from all of them. We can recall how we felt under the guidance of those whom we came to respect and how we now feel about the things that we have experienced this day that match the values our mentors encouraged in us. We can also recall how we felt about ourselves while we were being entertained by gossip, media presentations and other manipulative sources and take note of how we now feel as we review those experiences in the light of our values.

    Regularly reflecting on two standards enables us to take encouragement from the day’s “best practices” and to consciously turn away from those we recognize as neither helpful to us nor to others.

  • Specifics - Generalizing limits us to mental exercise exclusively.

    Rather than use the generic word conveyance, most of us will specify a car, plane, metro or even a bicycle when we talk about a means of transportation. We usually prefer speaking about particulars rather than generalities when we talk about personal experiences. When our interest is in theories, then we might use sweeping statements and broad generalizations to convey our meaning. 

    When we wish to obtain understanding about the movements that take place within us by speaking about these experiences with trusted persons, specifics are much better than generalities. We invariably receive at least some immediate insight about our thoughts and the feelings that accompany those thoughts when we share them with someone. The very act of choosing the appropriate words for communicating our meaning actually clarifies for us what we say even as we are speaking. And if an equally honest listener indicates that he or she understands, we find confirmation for our own understanding of our experiences. In addition, those who hear us will often ask questions or share some of their experiences that relate with ours in helping us to gain even more insight about the thoughts and feelings that have become significant to us.

    Even though we deliberately seek insight and inspiration for ourselves by telling someone our particular stories, both speakers and listeners usually receive inspired thoughts. If we reflect on our experiences of being the one who shares a story, and at other times as the one who listens and responds, we can see that we receive insights in each role. As the one who speaks, we gain helpful knowledge in hearing the words we speak as well as from the words and gestures of our listeners. As the one who listens, we not only hear whatever a speaker relates to us, but we also receive inspired thoughts that enable us to give helpful responses. Honest interpersonal communication about the things that matter to us is of benefit to both participants. 

    The quality and usefulness of sharing our stories, concerns and inner thoughts with their accompanying feelings depends upon our conscious choice to focus on a particular experience, and not a generalization. Generalizing limits us to mental exercise exclusively, eliminating the very important data revealed in the feelings that accompany specific thoughts. When we share a matter of concern, the action is primarily in our hearts, not in our minds. We need understanding of a kind that transcends mere reasons, and includes compassion, healing and affirmation. We do not need, nor are we much helped by trying to answer questions of “why?” or by attempting to assign reasons “because” of something else. 

    We are most helpful to ourselves and to others when we use our minds to help us learn the meaning of our feelings. When we share a matter of concern with another person, we engage in searching together for the specific thoughts that bring about revelatory feelings of either peacefulness or disturbance. In so doing, we find a basis for deciding which of our experiences we wish to follow forward, and which we will leave behind as inappropriate baggage for our journey in life.

  • Coaches - Gratitude for particular persons in our lives is of benefit to others.

    Many of the coaches we have known are memorable, probably having engaged us actively and directly with their particular ways of communicating with us. If we now begin to recall those were are coaches, we will probably realize that they showed us how to do better something of strong interest to us. Coaches rely at least partly on the implicit motivation we have to improve at a sport or some aspect of personal growth that we have chosen. If we reflect further on those who have helped us by sharing with us their expertise, we might also call to mind some of those persons, including perhaps family members, who taught, encouraged and challenged us to grow and to behave in ways that matched our desires. Our coaches enabled us to think, act and behave habitually in ways that we would not have discovered and developed on our own.

    Our first thoughts of coaches might properly be of professionals, those who are recognized as guides of conduct in their specific areas of deeply committed interest and highly developed skills. And, partly by analogy, we can think of some of those who, without any title, coached us by imparting their carefully nurtured wisdom. Much of what we have received, learned and made our own from our coaches continues even now to positively influence our behavior, whether we recognize their influence or not.

    Good coaches, of whatever kind, are causes for gratitude. We might not have thanked them, and may not be able to do so now, but we can reflect at any time on how they were of help to us, and we can be thankful. Whether or not we can explain how it is that we can be appreciative when the persons we think of are not present to thank, the experience of such gratitude is available to us at any time that we choose to pause and reflect. It is one of the hidden treasures within all of us: the enriching capacity to acknowledge some of the good and gracious personal interactions we have had. Human society is built on such relationships.

    Whether or not we have become coaches ourselves, at least in the ordinary understanding of the word, we can, and likely do, pass on to others the benefits of coaching that we have received. Whether we do so consciously or unconsciously, we communicate to others, through our words and deeds, some of the helpful formation our coaches imparted to us. If we reflect on one or other of our own habitual sayings when we are trying to assist others, we might recognize from whom we first received a particular idea or mode of behavior. Though we might not say it when someone thanks us for what we have said or done, we could at the same moment be thankful for the coach who once helped us to grow.

    Gratitude for particular persons in our lives is of benefit to others, because the more we acknowledge the training we have received, the more we will find it almost necessary to behave in like personal manner toward others.

    Thank you God, for each and all of the coaches we have had. 

  • Donuts and Do Nots - The choice is ours

    One or two donuts are enough for most people who like them. But with do nots, more might be better. When we eat and are content that is sufficient. And if we do not pay attention to negative words and behavior, we will likely be much more fulfilled than if we continue to accept hostile expressions of thoughts together with their effects upon us. Expressions of anger that abound in the media are presented by design to satisfy our appetites for felt experiences no matter how harmful to our well-being and useless the purported information  might be. We will usually set limits to ourselves as to how many donuts we will eat. We can take the same reasonable stance of setting a limit to the amount of truly negative information we will take in, no matter how readily available it is.

    Donuts are clearly not essential for our nourishment, whereas we must have the right kinds of information and knowledge in order to negotiate our way in life. But we do not need to know anything and everything that people say and do. When we want to learn the facts about anything of value we will not consciously seek information from an angry person because we understand that whoever is in such an emotional state would not be objective in his or her communications. Anger belongs to the person who is angry, and is not a property of the information we seek. It might be interesting and even exciting to witness expressions accompanied by anger, but that emotional content is precisely the attractive force that some people rely on for gaining our interest. We become losers when we ingest the negativity that is presented. We will not eat a whole box of donuts, then why would we read or listen to a continuing series of angry messages?

    One of the benefits of reflection upon experience is how we can distinguish between those informational experiences that leave us truly contented with what we have received from those that stirred up our feelings of anger, leaving us with discontent and a vague sense of having been cheated from learning anything that we did not already know.

    We can reflect on a conversation we recently had with an individual, what we observed and felt as a member of a group or the movements that took place within us when we listened to and perhaps watched people make use of anger in expressing their opinions. The emotion of anger does not validate what they say. Emotional expressions likely capture our attention more readily than calm statements. But the choice is ours as to whether we merely want to have our feelings affected, or we want to receive information that will be of help to us in making our own decisions. From experience, we know that an interior atmosphere of anger is a an obstacle to living according to our purpose in life, which is love. 

    A couple of donuts might be an occasional treat. But every day, we can treat ourselves to peace, if we do not ingest other’s anger.