A Prayer by Max Ehrmann

Let me do my work each day; and if the darkened hours of despair max erhmann
overcome me, may I not forget the strength that comforted me
in the desolation of other times

May I still remember the bright hours that found me walking over
the silent hills of my childhood, or dreaming on the margin of a quiet
river, when a light glowed within me, and I promised my early God
to have courage amid the tempests of the changing years.

Spare me from bitterness and from the sharp passions of unguarded
moments. May I not forget that poverty and riches are of the spirit.
Though the world knows me not, may my thoughts and actions be
such as shall keep me friendly with myself.

Lift up my eyes from the earth, and let me not forget the uses of the
stars.  Forbid that I should judge others lest I condemn myself.
Let me not follow the clamor of the world, but walk calmly in my
path.

Give me a few friends who will love me for what I am; and keep ever
burning before my vagrant steps the kindly light of hope.

And though age and infirmity overtake me, and I come not within
sight of the castle of my dreams, teach me still to be thankful for
life, and for time’s olden memories that are good and sweet; and
may the evening’s twilight find me gentle still

Read That Book Again…

a girl who readsEver thought of reading that book again like you would a favourite movie?
In my early teenage years, I saw the movie “The good, The bad, The ugly”. At that time I didn’t take note of Clint Eastwood’s piercing eyes or that he was even six feet tall and that the film had a story far beyond cowboys who were busy chasing each other- I watched it a couple of times and each time the movie meant something different, I saw the characters differently and had a different feeling about the story of the movie and this I know happened with the movie “Sound of Music”- at first I wanted to learn the lyrics of every song in it and then I wanted to run like Maria the nun while singing it but the more I viewed it, the more I understood the love story behind it- I even fell in love with the fact that a nun left the coventry to love a captain without losing her first dream of singing or her path of being an accommodating person.
This same method should and could be applied to the way we read books. Reading them five years down the lane would have a different impact, especially the ones that inspired us even if it’s a novel or a collection of poems/short story. We may have had a change of heart the first time we read it and because we have mature over time, those books would have a different meaning now.
Don’t read them a year later, don’t read them like you already know what the author would say, pick them up in a year you know the book changed whatever it changed about you and you are still struggling with it but you can’t remember every story or sentence in it.
Read that story not with the mind you once had when you decided to buy the book but with a perception that there is always more to a book than its cover, because there is and you have a new way of seeing that author whose book you once read as a favourite. 

The Moral Bucket List By David Brooks

moralsABOUT once a month I run across a person who radiates an inner light. These people can be in any walk of life. They seem deeply good. They listen well. They make you feel funny and valued. You often catch them looking after other people and as they do so their laugh is musical and their manner is infused with gratitude. They are not thinking about what wonderful work they are doing. They are not thinking about themselves at all.

When I meet such a person it brightens my whole day. But I confess I often have a sadder thought: It occurs to me that I’ve achieved a decent level of career success, but I have not achieved that. I have not achieved that generosity of spirit, or that depth of character.

A few years ago I realized that I wanted to be a bit more like those people. I realized that if I wanted to do that I was going to have to work harder to save my own soul. I was going to have to have the sort of moral adventures that produce that kind of goodness. I was going to have to be better at balancing my life.

It occurred to me that there were two sets of virtues, the résumé virtues and the eulogy virtues. The résumé virtues are the skills you bring to the marketplace. The eulogy virtues are the ones that are talked about at your funeral — whether you were kind, brave, honest or faithful. Were you capable of deep love?

We all know that the eulogy virtues are more important than the résumé ones. But our culture and our educational systems spend more time teaching the skills and strategies you need for career success than the qualities you need to radiate that sort of inner light. Many of us are clearer on how to build an external career than on how to build inner character.

But if you live for external achievement, years pass and the deepest parts of you go unexplored and unstructured. You lack a moral vocabulary. It is easy to slip into a self-satisfied moral mediocrity. You grade yourself on a forgiving curve. You figure as long as you are not obviously hurting anybody and people seem to like you, you must be O.K. But you live with an unconscious boredom, separated from the deepest meaning of life and the highest moral joys. Gradually, a humiliating gap opens between your actual self and your desired self, between you and those incandescent souls you sometimes meet.

So a few years ago I set out to discover how those deeply good people got that way. I didn’t know if I could follow their road to character (I’m a pundit, more or less paid to appear smarter and better than I really am). But I at least wanted to know what the road looked like.

I came to the conclusion that wonderful people are made, not born — that the people I admired had achieved an unfakeable inner virtue, built slowly from specific moral and spiritual accomplishments.

If we wanted to be gimmicky, we could say these accomplishments amounted to a moral bucket list, the experiences one should have on the way toward the richest possible inner life. Here, quickly, are some of them:

The Humility Shift We live in the culture of the Big Me. The meritocracy wants you to promote yourself. Social media wants you to broadcast a highlight reel of your life. Your parents and teachers were always telling you how wonderful you were.

But all the people I’ve ever deeply admired are profoundly honest about their own weaknesses. They have identified their core sin, whether it is selfishness, the desperate need for approval, cowardice, hardheartedness or whatever. They have traced how that core sin leads to the behavior that makes them feel ashamed. They have achieved a profound humility, which has best been defined as an intense self-awareness from a position of other-centeredness.

Self-Defeat External success is achieved through competition with others. But character is built during the confrontation with your own weakness. Dwight Eisenhower, for example, realized early on that his core sin was his temper. He developed a moderate, cheerful exterior because he knew he needed to project optimism and confidence to lead. He did silly things to tame his anger. He took the names of the people he hated, wrote them down on slips of paper and tore them up and threw them in the garbage. Over a lifetime of self-confrontation, he developed a mature temperament. He made himself strong in his weakest places.

The Dependency Leap Many people give away the book “Oh, the Places You’ll Go!” as a graduation gift. This book suggests that life is an autonomous journey. We master certain skills and experience adventures and certain challenges on our way to individual success. This individualist worldview suggests that character is this little iron figure of willpower inside. But people on the road to character understand that no person can achieve self-mastery on his or her own. Individual will, reason and compassion are not strong enough to consistently defeat selfishness, pride and self-deception. We all need redemptive assistance from outside.

People on this road see life as a process of commitment making. Character is defined by how deeply rooted you are. Have you developed deep connections that hold you up in times of challenge and push you toward the good? In the realm of the intellect, a person of character has achieved a settled philosophy about fundamental things. In the realm of emotion, she is embedded in a web of unconditional loves. In the realm of action, she is committed to tasks that can’t be completed in a single lifetime.

Energizing Love Dorothy Day led a disorganized life when she was young: drinking, carousing, a suicide attempt or two, following her desires, unable to find direction. But the birth of her daughter changed her. She wrote of that birth, “If I had written the greatest book, composed the greatest symphony, painted the most beautiful painting or carved the most exquisite figure I could not have felt the more exalted creator than I did when they placed my child in my arms.”

That kind of love decenters the self. It reminds you that your true riches are in another. Most of all, this love electrifies. It puts you in a state of need and makes it delightful to serve what you love. Day’s love for her daughter spilled outward and upward. As she wrote, “No human creature could receive or contain so vast a flood of love and joy as I often felt after the birth of my child. With this came the need to worship, to adore.”

She made unshakable commitments in all directions. She became a Catholic, started a radical newspaper, opened settlement houses for the poor and lived among the poor, embracing shared poverty as a way to build community, to not only do good, but be good. This gift of love overcame, sometimes, the natural self-centeredness all of us feel.

The Call Within The Call We all go into professions for many reasons: money, status, security. But some people have experiences that turn a career into a calling. These experiences quiet the self. All that matters is living up to the standard of excellence inherent in their craft.

Frances Perkins was a young woman who was an activist for progressive causes at the start of the 20th century. She was polite and a bit genteel. But one day she stumbled across the Triangle Shirtwaist factory fire, and watched dozens of garment workers hurl themselves to their deaths rather than be burned alive. That experience shamed her moral sense and purified her ambition. It was her call within a call.

After that, she turned herself into an instrument for the cause of workers’ rights. She was willing to work with anybody, compromise with anybody, push through hesitation. She even changed her appearance so she could become a more effective instrument for the movement. She became the first woman in a United States cabinet, under Franklin D. Roosevelt, and emerged as one of the great civic figures of the 20th century.

The Conscience Leap In most lives there’s a moment when people strip away all the branding and status symbols, all the prestige that goes with having gone to a certain school or been born into a certain family. They leap out beyond the utilitarian logic and crash through the barriers of their fears.

The novelist George Eliot (her real name was Mary Ann Evans) was a mess as a young woman, emotionally needy, falling for every man she met and being rejected. Finally, in her mid-30s she met a guy named George Lewes. Lewes was estranged from his wife, but legally he was married. If Eliot went with Lewes she would be labeled an adulterer by society. She’d lose her friends, be cut off by her family. It took her a week to decide, but she went with Lewes. “Light and easily broken ties are what I neither desire theoretically nor could live for practically. Women who are satisfied with such ties do not act as I have done,” she wrote.

She chose well. Her character stabilized. Her capacity for empathetic understanding expanded. She lived in a state of steady, devoted love with Lewes, the kind of second love that comes after a person is older, scarred a bit and enmeshed in responsibilities. He served her and helped her become one of the greatest novelists of any age. Together they turned neediness into constancy.

Commencement speakers are always telling young people to follow their passions. Be true to yourself. This is a vision of life that begins with self and ends with self. But people on the road to inner light do not find their vocations by asking, what do I want from life? They ask, what is life asking of me? How can I match my intrinsic talent with one of the world’s deep needs?

Their lives often follow a pattern of defeat, recognition, redemption. They have moments of pain and suffering. But they turn those moments into occasions of radical self-understanding — by keeping a journal or making art. As Paul Tillich put it, suffering introduces you to yourself and reminds you that you are not the person you thought you were.

The people on this road see the moments of suffering as pieces of a larger narrative. They are not really living for happiness, as it is conventionally defined. They see life as a moral drama and feel fulfilled only when they are enmeshed in a struggle on behalf of some ideal.

This is a philosophy for stumblers. The stumbler scuffs through life, a little off balance. But the stumbler faces her imperfect nature with unvarnished honesty, with the opposite of squeamishness. Recognizing her limitations, the stumbler at least has a serious foe to overcome and transcend. The stumbler has an outstretched arm, ready to receive and offer assistance. Her friends are there for deep conversation, comfort and advice.

External ambitions are never satisfied because there’s always something more to achieve. But the stumblers occasionally experience moments of joy. There’s joy in freely chosen obedience to organizations, ideas and people. There’s joy in mutual stumbling. There’s an aesthetic joy we feel when we see morally good action, when we run across someone who is quiet and humble and good, when we see that however old we are, there’s lots to do ahead.

The stumbler doesn’t build her life by being better than others, but by being better than she used to be. Unexpectedly, there are transcendent moments of deep tranquillity. For most of their lives their inner and outer ambitions are strong and in balance. But eventually, at moments of rare joy, career ambitions pause, the ego rests, the stumbler looks out at a picnic or dinner or a valley and is overwhelmed by a feeling of limitless gratitude, and an acceptance of the fact that life has treated her much better than she deserves.

Those are the people we want to be.

Believe

Originally posted on Cristian Mihai:

“Believe that you can run farther or faster. Believe that you’re young enough, old enough, strong enough, and so on to accomplish everything you want to do. Don’t let worn-out beliefs stop you from moving beyond yourself.” – John Bingham

All that we are requires faith. Not just in a religious sense, but also… self-confidence, trust, power, courage, perseverance, ambition. We must believe that we are doing the right thing. We must believe in our actions, in our thoughts, in our feelings, in our destiny.

You are what you believe in. I am what I believe in. We all are the by-products of our beliefs.

This is extremely important. What you believe in is going to determine how your future will look like. Your thoughts will shape your world for you. There is no reality other than the one we interpret ourselves.

That is all.

Believe that you are good…

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Pity Party…

I hear how you feel when you speak pity party
I hear how you feel when the pen is at hand
I hear the crack in your heart
You think happiness only lasts for a while, that is why you need your space often
You think life is unfair and so it has become unfair to you
You dwell in the midst of calamity and think life is cruel everywhere
You have an answer for everything because you want to be realistic
But your answers are painful, ‎you call it truth but you can’t hear the truth
You can’t accept that someone wants all of you
You loved once and think love is stale
You think loving is a task that you will only be ready for it with ‎a kit
You live on mood swings and think those who stay with you no matter the mood need you
You tell the truth to others but never to yourself
Pride fills your heart that you are enough
You think you treat others fairly and that the world needs more of you
You think tears are for the weak, so you turn to things that satisfy for a minute
You are an adult without love
A child who was beaten and told you were no good and so you see the world as that
You are lost, a peace less being, a troubled spirit
Scared to believe in love, scared to accept a person who loves you
Scared that peace isn’t real, that others are absurd
Forgetting that others feel pain
Forgetting that each action of yours affects those you love, if you love
Forgetting that life is for the living
Forgetting that someone needs you
Just the way you are, when you feel good
                                   AnastasiaRuth