Easy crossword puzzles on the AARP website are not really very easy when I get stuck on a wrong-headed route. If I need a synonym for aged and I’m thinking elderly but the answer that fits is ripe they become Frustrating Crosswords.
I have spent many precious moments trying to fit a wrong word into a tight space. Last week, the clue was sort and my time was doubled because I couldn’t imagine anything but genre or type. Sort can also mean arrange.
My problem is chronic. The word was ruler, and I spent ten minutes searching for a four letter word that meant measuring tool all the while, forgetting about king.
I thought the answer to public should have been crowd and it turned out to be overt. I thought the answer to long should have been stretched and it turned out to be yearn. I think the answer to employ should have been hire and it turned out to be use.
Crosswords are just a game and I needn’t worry about my scores. I have an excellent vocabulary so I don’t worry about that either. However, my tendency to latch onto one idea and hold on so tight it hurts can be a private problem. How about you?
Opening up our minds to new ideas is a great skill. We can look at our earlier lives and see how important the ability to see more than one way really is. When I look backward, I see my youthful relationships could have been simpler if I’d seen love and sex as separate words. I see now that my life could have been richer if I’d known mathematics is fascinating fun.
New viewpoints are often invigorating and helpful. Learning new things keeps us young and healthy. I improved my health when I began to define food to include vegetables and fruits, not just meat and potatoes.
Steadfastness and perserverance are two great characteristics. On the other hand, being willing to explore new aspects of a situation and attach new meanings to words is very rewarding. Opening up to change is a great deal of what we learn in the spiritual classes at the Centers For Creative Living.
Hanging onto one viewpoint is just one more way to resist change. If it is an idea that impacts our decision making abilities, we need to learn to let go sooner. The ability to adapt to changing conditions is one important measure of intelligence.
Think about the ideas you have had to change in your lifetime in order to adapt to modern living. Perhaps there was a time when you thought boys were bad cooks or girls were bad mechanics. If you wanted a relationship that is based on equality, you will probably have modified those ideas by now.
One of these days, as a part of your spiritual practice, make a list of some of the ideas you have changed in your life. You will be pleasantly surprised at the progress you’ve made simply by changing your mind.
Here are a few of my changes:
1, I used to believe I was too dumb for math and now I believe I can balance my books.
2. I used to believe I needed nine hours of sleep every night and now I believe seven hours works just fine.
3. I used to believe comic movies are a waste of time and now I believe they make you healthier.
4. I used to believe TV was an idiot machine and now I believe it is an exciting medium.
5. I used to believe working with a team was difficult and now I believe it can be wonderful.
We all change ideas as we move through life and that is a good and not-so-good thing. The trick is to retain the ideas that are still valuable and discard the ones that no longer serve us. It is useful to take an inventory from time to time just to clean up some of what needs to be changed.
As we inventory our beliefs, we may find we are hanging onto ideas that need to change. For example, you might want to take a look at some of your ideas about work divisions between men and women. Who does the housework? Who mows the lawn? How’s that working? How would you like to see it change?
As you do this inventory, be on the lookout for prejudice. You may have picked up some very narrow beliefs as a child. You know the kinds of things I’m talking about. One ethnic group can’t drive well. Another ethnic group is lazy. One gender is untrustworthy. Another gender is money hungry.
If there are any of these old pre-judgments hanging around in your consciousness, this is a great time to change.
Learning to look at life through a wider viewpoint can make you a more successful, much happier, and more successful person. When you open your mind to different ways of looking at things, you also become more creative.
Much of what we teach in our Centers for Spiritual Living has to do with allowing new ideas and new opportunities to come into our lives. We have a simple statement that we say over and over, “Change your thinking and change your life.”
Our Sunday talks, books and classes help us create better and better lives. If you are interested in knowing more about how to widen your ability to see clearly, check out my book, Science of Mind Skills. It is available through this blog or in your church bookstore.
Do something to build a wider mindset today.
List at least five ideas you have changed recently.
List at least three ideas you are considering changing now.
How do you plan to open your mind set?
My blog readership is growing. That’s good! I have a goal I know I will reach because I am writing in integrity, love and joy. However, I sometimes think of “get popular quick schemes” and that means I’m pushing the river again. Addiction happens in peculiar ways!
No matter how much one loves a project, the joy will disappear when racing to an arbitrary goal becomes more important than the process itself. The whole point of this blog was to create something in freedom and offer it to anyone who wanted it. It is supposed to be fun.
So what does that have to do with counting numbers? I’m not working on commission or earning brownie points to get into heaven. Once again, I am reminding myself to let go and let God. I don’t ever need to struggle.
After all these years, I know myself pretty well and I know that one part of my personality part is accustomed and addicted to struggle. I call her “The Strider”. She says, “Not enough” or “It should be better,” quite often. The Strider can squeeze the fun out of any project if I am not aware of her tricks.
It is easy to slip into old ways if I am not watching. I struggled to get through college. I struggled to build a writing career. I struggled with alcohol and food and in many other things when I was younger. Truth is, I can use any goal as a piece of torture equipment if I’m not careful.
I have learned a lot about addiction and I have learned to watch out for the symptoms. Writing, for me, is particularly addictive, but I need to remember that I undertook this blog as a service to others and as a retirement hobby. In this moment, I release the need to count readers and I simply return to writing for fun. I don’t have to prove anything.
I am not alone. Work addiction of one sort or another happens to wonderful people. It sneaks up on you, even in your retirement years. In fact, so many ministers “fail retirement” that is kind of a joke.
Addictive personalities will push themselves at work, at home, on the road or in the studio. I have a good friend who was practicing yoga at age 65. She was a marvel. She could do so much, so easily, that she constantly amazed us all. We were all proud of her and she never seemed to show off or be ego driven about her expertise. She did, however, really want to stand on her head. We prayed for that in church. When she got so she could do that well, she upped the ante and wanted to stand on her head longer. One day her guru advised her, “Take the ambition out of your practice.”
When she shared that story with me, I thought, “I should take that advice myself.” Of course, I failed exercise class in the 7th grade and it didn’t bother me. I can’t bend over too well and I certainly don’t plan to stand on my head ever – at least in this lifetime. However, I do try to remember and take her teacher’s excellent advice. I do not want to be a slave to ambition. Do you?
We all know people who seem to be in a frenzy about how they are using their time and what they are or are not accomplishing. The idea of living in a frenzy doesn’t appeal to me. Does it appeal to you? Does the idea of taking the ambition out of your pursuits appeal to you? Sounds good to me.
Of course, ambition can be fine as long as we are making decisions that create a healthy, well-balanced life. But if you feel as though you are struggling to get it all done, you may want to make changes. One of the greatest gifts of our Religious Science teaching is knowing we always have a choice.
The question of how hard to work is one that touches all of us at some time or another. In our youth, our ambition may get us where we think we want to go but if we don’t balance it with loving connections to others, we become unhappy and distorted.
In our middle years, ambition takes many forms including working hard to persuade others, to train our children into our beliefs and to forge ahead in the workplace. Again, we get out of balance if we don’t take care of our bodies and our spiritual lives.
Retirement years are the biggest temptation for many of us. We have choices about how to spend our time and can very well end up staying so busy we neglect our spiritual practice and our bodies and minds. Inaction leads to disuse. Too much action leads to fatigue.
Throughout our lives, we face many questions about our goals and exactly how ambitious we should be. Should I persevere? Should I delay gratification until I get my goal? Should I pile up more money for the future? Should I keep exercising until I “feel the burn”? Should I stay in the marriage and find some way to make it work?
When you look at life’s big questions in the framework of whether or not to live for today or tomorrow, it seems as though life really is an art or dance. We each have to find our own balance. We have to make our own decisions. We have to decide how much energy to put into this or that project.
I talk to people all the time who are in a quandary about how to spend their time and money. I try to help them see they are always at choice, one way or another. There is always something we can choose to do and since balance is constant movement, there is always a need for adjustment.
Making new choices is easier than it looks. We can choose whatever is the apparent step in this moment to move us in the direction of our dreams and let God do the rest. We don’t need to torture ourselves with the past or try to control the future. We just move ahead a step at a time and enjoy life. We can feel good about what we are doing because God is good all the time.
When I get out of balance and start rushing, I remind myself to release the ambition and enjoy the process. The future will take care of itself. I have learned to envision a goal and believe in it and then give it to God to do the work. It is not necessary to struggle or worry about making it happen.
As of now, I am back in balance. This day I am simply writing what I know and sending it out with love. I know the perfect right readers will find it.
Am I struggling to make something happen?
Do I need a new balance?
What immediate choice am I able to make?
Do I want to release the ambition?
Some people in New Thought set their intention for the day every morning. I do a version of that by writing, “Another day to be glad in” and I list ten things I am grateful for. Beyond gladness, my intention is sometimes fuzzy. I can struggle with choice when it comes to making plans for my day.
Since I’m semi-retired, I sometimes have a bit of a challenge deciding what to do. I have plenty of great choices but they’re not usually urgent. While that’s good news it also can be the bad news.
I’m working on several projects but I have no regular job so, with the exception of my commitment to ministerial class, everything else is choice. Hard to believe that freedom of choice can be a problem, isn’t it?
That freedom sounded wonderful in the days when I was up at the crack of dawn to teach English five days a week. Although I had more choice over managing time when I was selling real estate, or writing for teens, or running the church, my urgent to-do list was generally packed.
Now I have a flexible – vaguely normal schedule that includes prayer, meditation, prayer partners, writing and research, errands, art activities, social phone calls and social activities. There are also the necessary but still pretty flexible errands, household chores, exercise.
Usually, I know what I plan to do on a particular day but some days, I do my early morning stuff and then I am in a quandary. Quandary is one of those words like yonder. It exists but nobody knows where it is.
Shall I take a drive to the ocean? Call a friend? Work on my new book? Watch a movie? Write in my journal? Draw and paint? Usually, I make a quick choice and celebrate with gratitude that I have the health, wealth and time to enjoy life. Those are the good news days.
Other days I have to climb out of my quandary before I can do anything. That’s usually when what I really desire is to read one of my historical novels. The trouble with that choice is that I always feel that reading fiction is a bit sinful, like eating chocolate or staying in bed till noon.
Old habits die hard. I learned to feel guilty about that choice because when I was a child I was a compulsive reader. I simply went into the book and stayed until it was over. I am still determined to finish when I start a novel. When I read Gone With the Wind, I become Scarlet. And what’s more, I love being Scarlet.
During my full-time ministerial career, I didn’t read very much fiction. I would gleefully take six or seven paperbacks in my suitcase when I was going to conferences but that was like a vacation. Usually, I taught classes nearly every evening and worked in the church during in the daytime. I really didn’t have much spare time.
When I stepped down from being a pastor, I delighted in my return to fiction. I am now enjoying my novels a great deal. It is one of the gifts of growing older and I’ve learned to appreciate books even more as the movies and television seem aimed at twenty year olds.
However, old habits die hard. This morning, I wanted to finish the book I started last night but I chose to start writing this blog instead. If not today, it would be tomorrow. Since then, I’ve taken two phone calls and spent two hours on errands.
Those things needed to be done and I thought today was a good day to do them. I take full responsibility. I wanted to talk on the telephone to people I love. The errands were better done today because heads into the weekend. My choices were mine and they seemed sensible.
The important thing is that I know that I am not a victim. I don’t feel sorry for myself. If I had chosen to read all day, I still would not have felt guilty. It is my day and my choices!, Whatever choices they are, I claim them. I am so grateful to Science of Mind for showing me that I have free will and can exercise it every day of my life. I am so grateful to know how free I am.
In college, I heard about an experiment with rats that proved that two positive choices created as much stress as two negative choices. That fact haunted me and it seemed better not be offered too much. Then Science of Mind helped me figure out that it was my inability to deal with choices that was haunting.
I am not a rat! I can handle two positive choices! I do it all the time.
There was a time when I would get stuck in decisions over what to do and feel absolutely trapped. I felt as though I was at the mercy of life, whether it came in the form of chocolate or a new novel. Feeling trapped led me to experience guilt or feel sorry for myself. I am so glad that’s healed because I don’t need negative emotions.
Today, I celebrated my choice by delaying my reading until I wrote the blog. I also delayed my blog writing long enough to do the errands and phone calls. I’m happy with every choice I made. It’s a wonderful feeling to be happy instead of guilty, mistreated or frustrated. I will read this evening.
Won’t you join with me in knowing that we always have choices? Even if something happens that is outside our control, we can choose our responses. While it is true that we can’t do everything we want, all at one time, it is also true that we can decide what to do first.
This has been a great day. I celebrate the wisdom and the power of my experiences. I celebrate the fact that I don’t have any reason to feel like a victim. I celebrate that I know what I know.
Do good choices confuse or stress you?
How do you decide what to do first?
Do you feel comfortable with your choices today?
What would you like to choose for tomorrow?
I do the regular things – breakfast, pills, and brush teeth and then I look at my daily calendar. It’s going to be a busy one with phone calls to make, bills to pay, lunch with a friend and some time in the gym. I should be working on my book. I should be doing some errands. I should… So I start my morning with meditation, reading from a spiritual book and affirmative prayer. That first 45 minutes is precious time and I know it will be helpful in every activity on this day.
Even for a semi-retired person like myself, the days seem to fill up quickly. I’ve learned that if I spend some time on spiritual activities early in the morning, my whole day will go better. A few minutes reading one of my favorite authors will put me in touch with the Infinite and that will put my “to-do” list in perspective. A simple prayer claiming that my day goes well will grease the wheels of life. Meditation will slow me down, balance my mind and spirit and set me up to greet whatever comes my way with joy.
Time management seems to be the most persistent personal problem for most of us. I sometimes wonder where all the time has gone. No one seems to have enough to go around.
We have so many labor saving devices that it seems as though we should have plenty of time but it hasn’t worked out that way for most people. Fear, ambition and habit combine to keep a lot of people on the run and this makes for a lot of anxiety – anxiety that can translate as illness or some other kind of trouble.
One of these days, I expect to hear someone say, ”I don’t care who stole my cheese but who stole my time? Or he may say, “I don’t want to swim with the sharks, I just want to catch up on my email.”
The pitiful part of this story is how many of us work hard so we can retire and then fill up our retirement hours with volunteer activities. Are we afraid to let go and relax for fear the world will pass us by? Or is simply that the world demands more of our time than we have to give?
I don’t have all the answers since I am very busy myself – teaching a class, writing a blog and books. My newest book is actually on building a spiritual practice. I also try to keep up an active social life as well as making it to the gym on a regular basis. The part of the answer that I do have is that a regular spiritual practice slows down the anxiety, clears up any negative emotions, and smoothes out the day.
Most people are hypnotized into thinking that the material world is the only reality, but the truth is that it all begins in Spirit and that is our true nature. Some time spent daily on spiritual matters can truly be the key to a better life. Just getting in touch with your deeper nature for a few minutes each day is renewing, rejuvenating and restful. It makes everything go better and it keeps you from feeling like an accidental leaf blowing in the wind of change.
Lately, I have been re-reading some of my favorite spiritual books and I find that they help me remember how important this discovery was for me. An inspirational book like Power of Decision by Raymond Charles Barker helps me remember that I am making choices all day long. What I choose to think about and do is the most important thing about my day. And about my life.
Where shall we turn our attention? Shall we worry and fret about things we cannot change? Or envision the solution and take steps in that direction? Negative thoughts paralyze us but knowing that we are working with definite spiritual laws will empower us. We are never alone with the problem. We can always depend on Spirit to help us move toward the solution. A consistent spiritual practice reminds us of that good news.
Spiritual laws are True, Infinite, and unchangeable. They are the key to connection to a deeper truth about life itself.
How’s my spiritual practice going?
Is there anything I need to add to my day?
Are there time time wasters in my day that I can cut?