Monday, August 28, 2017

Slipping free from the busy bugs

If you fail to stop and think, the locusts of time descend upon you and distract you from yourself and your loves, devour your every peaceful moment, and create a world at war.

Things keep you busy. While you’re wishing for peace, the locusts tap your energy and drain you. When you look up from your to-do list, they swarm in and overwhelm you, 60,000 a day. You cry yourself to sleep.

But the people with the best lives take time to think. Thinking is a choice, you see.

You have no control over busy bugs until you stop and think. When you sit down to deliberate, your mind becomes your own. The locusts cannot enter in because your house is occupied, and you’ll be busy with a world of your own creation. You won’t notice the tapping at your windows, for you’ll be deep within your own realm, the kingdom where you rule.

If you choose to stop and think, you choose to contemplate, ruminate, daydream, meditate, pray and solve all the world’s problems in your mind. You’ll actually know what you’re talking about, and you’ll recognize in an instant when someone doesn’t. A peaceful, prosperous life will fill your days, your family and the world.

When you choose to think, you also choose what you think. You make a list of things on your mind and you prioritize them: A for loves, the important; B for all the things that ought to be done, need to be done; and C for everything else. Then, in your mind, you clearly see yourself sweep all the C’s into the trash bin. They’ll never get done, so why worry about them. 

When Martha complains about all her B’s, you - Mary - you laugh and enter your house, which is already swept clean and the sunshine beams in through the windows, and bid her come for tea.

Then you occupy your life with the A’s. Do what you love, for that is the only thing that is important.

- Christopher Aune 

Sunday, August 27, 2017

When parents say, 'You're not trying'

The other day I was telling my 16-year-old granddaughter that smart people keep on learning for their whole life. They’re curious. They want to know the truth. They want to enjoy life. They want to help others to know the truth and enjoy life.

But parents, teachers, pastors and other seemingly wise people will correct smart people, even when the smart people have it right.

The seemingly wise have a need for the world to be as they believe it to be, especially having everyone see them as wise without questioning. So, unless you’re prepared to stand up to them with not just facts and a good rational argument, but with the determination to undermine them and to appear to disrespect them, it’s best to just let them believe what they believe.

But for smart people, that’s not so. They can’t just believe what they believe. They feel deeply a need to know what they’re talking about. Even though that’s virtually impossible to perfect, we can get close; and we can certainly respect our own knowledge, thinking and confidence in our higher level of understanding. But that’s only about 33% of people who are smart. The rest just want to avoid feeling dumb.

Anyway, because of our deep curiosity and drive to know the truth, when the seemingly wise correct us, we defer to their authority. We want to know if we’re wrong, how we are wrong, and what is right. We listen.

Now, for an intelligent 16-year-old – and for most human beings of any age – that entails having humility. But without good discernment, that humility can easily be confused with questioning ourself and destabilize our self-confidence.

So, it’s important to have some sense of how smart you are in relation to other people, especially the seemingly wise. For an intelligent 16-year-old, she may have the latest and greatest knowledge, and she may even have a respectable ability to think like an adult, but she still doesn’t have the adult experience to make a clear distinction between humility and less-than-stable self-confidence.

I told her, “You are always good enough. Always. You are good enough by virtue of the fact that you are breathing, that you have been born into this life full of challenges and you meet those challenges. You solve the problems of daily life for yourself, and you try to help others. You always do your best, and you make things better than they were for yourself and for others. You’re amazing, exactly where you are in life, just the way you are.

“So, when parents say you don't try, it's because they forget that, although you have knowledge and adult thinking power, you don't have experience yet. You have book knowledge and a little, carefully protected life experience. You can think like an adult, comparing and contrasting disparate events in life, and assigning them value and meaning and a priority. But there’s a whole truckload of life experiences for which you cannot yet say, ‘Been there, done that.’

“On the other hand, there are a lot of the things you haven't tried yet because you haven't even conceived all the options available. Your parents have a lot more experience, so when they say you don’t try, they are forgetting that they have a huge amount of real life experience that you can’t possibly have yet.

“So, if a parent says you're not trying, tell them you need help to figure out how to try better. Ask them how they’d handle it. Make them give you an example from their own life. Not only will you better understand what they are trying to say to you – and feel much better about it, but you’ll get a new trick to put into your bag of life tricks, something that you can pull out in a situation where it can be useful.

“But then remember, every time you meet an expectation, they raise the bar. That's okay, because you're a wonderful person already doing the best you can. Be happy and proud about that. But also be excited about all the extraordinary new things you are going to discover and try.”