It’s you, your conscience and your faith that matters, not what others think.

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“People are often unreasonable and self-centered. Forgive them anyway.
If you are kind, people may accuse you of ulterior motives. Be kind anyway.
If you are honest, people may cheat you. Be honest anyway.
If you find happiness, people may be jealous. Be happy anyway.
The good you do today may be forgotten tomorrow. Do good anyway.
Give the world the best you have and it may never be enough. Give your best anyway.
For you see, in the end, it is between you and God. It was never between you and them anyway.” Mother Teresa

There will always be people who’ll find fault with something which you’ve done or are doing or will do. Let them. It’s not their life, but yours, to live.

When you need people to be reasonable and to do something that doesn’t benefit them, they will disappoint you. You’ll find they will not listen to reason and will not help you, instead they will remain stubborn and selfish. It’s their nature and their business, so don’t hold it against them. In the long run, they will pay for that behavior, but it isn’t your place to judge them. Accept them for who they are, otherwise it will eat away at your insides, turning you into someone just like them.

When you’re kind to these people, they’ll think you have something up your sleeve, that you’re being sneaky. That’s because it’s something that they’d do if they were in your place. They can’t help themselves. They can’t be kind, unless they have an ulterior motive and think the same of everyone else. You have no ulterior motive, so be kind anyway.

When you’re honest, they’ll think you’re a push over and will try to cheat you. Fight this by being careful, not by becoming dishonest. Remain honest, yet watchful.

When you’re happy, those who can’t find happiness will be jealous. Don’t let their misery take away your happiness, but let your happiness infect their misery.

Few people remember acts of goodness and kindness, but we aren’t good or kind in order to be remembered. We do good and are kind simply because. That is it. There is no need to explain further than to simply say we choose to do good and to be kind.  It doesn’t matter that tomorrow it’ll be forgotten.

There will be times where your best won’t be good enough. Try anyway. What’s important is that you made the effort and didn’t give up. There will be other times where your best will be just enough. Rather than pick and choose, always give it your best effort.

Regardless of which God, Higher Being, or Afterlife you believe in, when the time comes, you will have to reconcile what you’ve done during your time here. Let others think what they want, because it’s you, your conscience and your faith that matters, not what they think.

The buck stops with you

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“The buck stops here”

This phrase originated with poker to indicate whose turn it was to deal. If a person didn’t want to deal, he would pass the buck, a marker such as a knife with a buckhorn handle, to the next player.

Since President Truman, this phrase has come to mean accepting responsibility. As President, this meant accepting responsibility for everything within the Federal government.

One of my best traits has always been the ability to get things done. Regardless of the situation, whether it was at work or a personal matter, I knew that as long as I was in the right, by going up the management chain someone would listen, take responsibility, and then do the right thing.

Unfortunately, that is a thing of the past. Try going up the management chain today and see where that gets you.

The problem now is that almost everyone passes the buck. Corporate leaders, whose company is caught in a scandal, plead ignorance, passing the buck to subordinates. If profits aren’t high enough, they pass the buck to customers and workers.  Killers pass the buck to their parents. Criminals pass the buck to society. Adults pass the buck to their parents. Even Washington has joined the bandwagon. The president passes the buck to congress and to the other party. Congress passes the buck to the white house. All of them pass the buck to somebody else, when things are bad, yet take all of the credit for anything good which has happened.

The majority of people pass the buck when things go bad, but take it back when things improve. Many actually proclaim the ‘buck stops with them’, but make it impossible to find or reach them in order to give them the buck. One can send a letter to the White House or the corporate headquarters of many corporations addressed to the President, but the letter would be screened by so many people that the likelihood of the President actually seeing the letter are very slim. That is unless the letter was overflowing with praise.

As a result, there is no empathy from those around. There is no motivation for anyone to do what’s right, especially knowing they’ll get blamed if something bad happens, and that someone else will get the credit for anything good.

Many of us are exactly the same way. We continually pass the buck. When things go bad, we think to ourselves “It was David’s fault I got laid off.” “It was Susan’s fault Jim left me.” “It’s my partner’s fault that I’m not happy, or broke, or depressed.”

If we want others to take us seriously, to have empathy for what happens to us, we have to begin accepting responsibility for our lives. If we want to be happy and not worry what others are thinking, we have to take responsibility not just for ourselves, but for what happens to us.

If you want to be able to live with yourself, you have to take complete responsibility for your life. This also means that you have to be reachable, that someone can reach your heart and your mind.  It means that you don’t ‘yes’ people, but actually listen to what they’re saying.

We don’t hesitate to take credit when something good happens. When things don’t go our way, we have to take responsibility for it. By taking responsibility, we’re acknowledging that it’s within our power to make it right.

Always remember, no matter what everyone else is saying or doing, when it comes to you and your life, the buck stops with you! Don’t just say it, but live it!

Careful The Things You Say… (Guest post by Elizabeth Rose)

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“The destiny of the world is determined less by the battles that are lost and won than by the stories it loves and believes in.” —Harold Goddard

The most dangerous thing that a person can say is- ‘don’t worry. It’s just a story’. The idea that a story can even be ‘just’ is risky. Take a moment and ask yourself- what stories have you told people today? Have you told someone you love the story of a past hurt, told a buddy a funny anecdote to make them laugh; told a child a bedtime story? How did you tell it? How did you describe the ‘characters’? Did you make your ex out to be an extreme villain? Did you claim that ‘no one was hurt’ by your past college prank? Did you tell your child that the hero wins in the end by enduring horrible suffering through to the bitter end?

Whether you recognize it or not, by telling those stories, you are creating reality. When you talk about someone in light of your anger, and subsequently gloss over what good qualities had drawn you to them in the first place, you are creating an ‘evil’ character for your listener that will stick with them for a long time. When you condone certain actions in light of nostalgia to a friend, and do not qualify for fear of ruining the humor, you plant the seed of condoning that action for life. When you tell a child a story, they believe it.

The reality that we create in stories can stick with us for the rest of our lives, too. Take, for example, a popular fairy-tale: Beauty and the Beast. We tell this to our children for a very good reason. We want them to be able to learn how to look past people’s appearances to see the goodness within them, and not judge a book by its cover. However, in many tellings of this story, a second lesson emerges: if your love is true, pure, and strong enough, you can change someone’s heart. While this may also seem like a noble message, consider this scenario: a woman in an abusive relationship is trying to deliberate whether or not to get out of the relationship, or endure further abuse at the hands of her lover. If she’s been told, time and time again, that a ‘pure’ love could change a lover’s heart, what conclusion might she come to? In my own personal experience of abuse, I was led to believe that the reason why I was being beaten was because I did not love my beloved enough. I would end up sticking it out for four years, remaining loyally by his side, because the stories that I had been told had told me that I was the one who wasn’t working hard enough.

Of course, this was not the kind of love that my particular assailant needed. He needed to have someone show him how to love in a healthy manner, whether that be through therapy or through the shock of judicial action. He was truly, and completely, sick- and I had been taught, through not just fairy tales, but the popular fiction of the day that championed brooding, mentally abusive romantic heroes (looking at you, Meyer), that my endurance would be rewarded by a kind of love that was somewhat better  than other loves because it had been through such a drastic wringer.

That’s not what I got, however, and that’s not what many women like me get. What they get are bruises and scars that never go away. What they get are traumatic flashbacks whenever they see someone who looks like him, or smells like him or talks like him (or her, women are fully capable of being abusers as well). They get side-glances and judgmental comments from the people who read the same stories, and ask questions like, ‘Well, why didn’t you just leave?’, or, ‘Well, maybe if you had done x, or y’. Their society continues to read stories that perpetuate the glamorization of domestic abuse, they popularize it, and then act surprised when the battered women’s shelters are full to capacity.

We cannot operate on the assumption that stories are ‘just’. They have such power to destroy us- they get under our skin and enflame our imaginations in ways that cannot be done through rhetoric alone. But they also have the same power to raise up victims, to empower a new way of thinking, and to teach a healthy way to love. Think of stories such as Picture Perfect by Jodi Picoult, or The Woman Who Walked Into Doors by Roddy Doyle, or even just the healthy relationships in popular fiction by J.K. Rowling or Terry Pratchett. Begin to have open, honest conversations about the unhealthy relationships that permeate most mainstream, popular fiction and refuse to settle for the messages they give the next generation. I was once told that the reason why you shouldn’t tell rape jokes isn’t just because the joke isn’t funny- it’s because you might be unwittingly telling the joke in front of someone who has, or who will in the future, rape someone, and they will look back on your laughter as assenting to their crime (much as racist jokes have and continued to excuse racist practices, and sexist jokes do for sexist practices). When you tell bad stories to victims who are going through pain you could not even imagine, you are helping to keep them in their situation. When you tell good stories for them to love and believe them, you are giving them the strength to reclaim their dignity and the sanctity of their being. Don’t ever ‘just’ tell a story- you never know who might believe you.

        Elizabeth Rose is the author of Till the Last Petal Falls, a modern re-telling of Beauty and the Beast with a social justice slant. 10% of all author royalties from the book are donated to battered women shelters in Colorado. Find her and more of her work on the Once Upon a Reality series at www.thesingingroses.com

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It’s All About Attitude

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“Nothing can stop the man with the right mental attitude from achieving his goal; nothing on earth can help the man with the wrong mental attitude.” Thomas Jefferson

Many times in life the difference between failure and success is determined by a person’s attitude. The business dictionary defines attitude in this manner:

A predisposition or a tendency to respond positively or negatively towards a certain idea, object, person, or situation. Attitude influences an individual’s choice of action, and responses to challenges, incentives, and rewards (together called stimuli).

A person’s attitude, when faced with a certain idea, object, person or situation goes through several stages.

The first stage is immediate effect: feelings and emotions at the moment.

The second is comprehension. How is the situation being interpreted?

Third is inclination to act. Does the situation inspire action?

Fourth is final evaluation of the situation. Is the situation seen as something positive or negative?

These can happen in the blink of an eye or may take days or weeks.

Having the right mental attitude simply means one is able to go through each of these steps in a calm and rational manner. Each stage is digested and thought out. Too much weight or emphasis on one stage will have an impact on the final outcome. Too much emotion in the first stage means that the second stage, comprehension of the situation, becomes compromised or negatively impacted. When that happens, the final evaluation and corresponding feelings or actions will then be based on flawed information, causing one to act in a manner that may do more harm than good.

Having the right mental attitude simply means that someone can go through these stages calmly and intelligently without letting emotions distort their judgment. When a person performs these steps rationally, actions will be based on thoughtful analysis, increasing the likelihood for achieving specific goal.

Having the wrong attitude, usually caused by emotion or a certain disposition in your head thereby clouding a rational interpretation of each stage, will make it difficult to reach goals. In other words, without a clear head to analyze any given situation, it will be almost impossible to achieve success.

Scratch your back with nothing in return? You’ve gotta be kidding

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“Guard well within yourself that treasure, kindness. Know how to give without hesitation, how to lose without regret, how to acquire without meanness.” George Sand

It is very unfortunate that many will scratch your back only for the expectation that you will scratch theirs in return. They may have a long line of back scratchers waiting, but over time, they will have no fingers left to scratch other peoples backs. They are useful only while scratching and get abandoned when others no longer need their back scratched.

Human kindness is becoming a rare commodity. One has to look far and wide to find kindness within a person, simply for the sake of it, with no expectation of anything in return. But there are many still out there who will scratch your back simply because it itches.

For those who still have this trait within them, guard it well and use it often. It is a trait worth treasuring. It is a trait which puts one in the same league as angels.

To be kind means to give to those who are in need without pausing to ask “what do I get back in return?” It means to help someone simply because they need help which we are able to provide.

To show kindness means being a valiant winner and loser. It means you are gracious when you lose. You give the winner a sincere smile, the same type of smile you would like to see when you win.

Many say that in order to succeed one has to be tough, mean, driven and unforgiving, showing no signs of mercy.  Those are the ones who would never give you a lending hand unless there was something in it for them. More people have succeeded who practiced kindness than brute force of will. More people are remembered for their kindness to others rather than for how much they acquired.

It is possible to acquire what one needs while showing kindness to others. Those are the people who are looked up to and admired.

When you show kindness you get kindness back in return. When you don’t show any kindness, people will walk all over you, approach you with false promises and will help you only when it benefits them.

Always practice kindness and with time, you will be treated with kindness in return no matter where you turn.

(Back Scratch by ~Lelpel on deviantART)