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You are looking at posts in the category Lifeology.
Yesterday I left off with…
This leads me to a bunch of interesting questions.
There are two major causes of suffering: avoidable and unavoidable. Avoidable suffering is human caused. Murder, theft, torture, selfishness, all the deep human flaws. If we asked God how come we have so much human cruelty he might answer, “Look in the mirror. It’s all on you. I gave you a mind and will to choose your response to any situation, and just look at you. After all, I taught you. The best you can do is assault a young woman. It breaks my heart.” There is no excuse for human-caused suffering. We choose to do it to each other. To willfully cause another to suffer is a monstrous human choice. We’re not God’s puppets. We own the society we’ve created.
Unavoidable suffering occurs as the result of the natural world and our own biology. There are earthquakes, floods and fires, and cancer and fatal accidents. Stuff happens. But what if life doesn’t matter in the way we think it does? What if the length of our life doesn’t matter at all, and what if unavoidable suffering happens to some to give the rest of us a chance to be compassionate? Compassionate service, especially to strangers, is one of the most noble of human acts. So the world and our bodies are frail so we can become agents of kindness and mercy to each other. Ridiculous? I wonder.
Of course I don’t know why the world is a dangerous and sometimes evil and unjust place. I do know that if we all got what we deserved, we would be “trained” like Sea World dolphins to be good because there’s a reward for it. If we got everything we prayed for, we all would be praying. If the only reason we chose to act nobly were a practical payoff, we’d have no authentic nobility. And yet, maybe that’s the real purpose of life. To act from our highest self when there is no payoff because it is pure oxygen for our deepest, enduring identity: to love and learn, give and grow—surely those are what give our life meaning.
Everyone must come to his or her own conclusion about life’s hard questions. For me there are things that over the years have become self-evident. First, life has genuine meaning. (To conclude that life is meaningless because we can’t figure it out may be the ultimate act of egotism.) Second, that love is real. (It is more than emotion or brain chemicals or DNA.) Third, our greatest growth as human beings comes through our chosen reactions to our own suffering and the suffering of others. Fourth, what’s really important is not what we think it is. (It’s not power, recognition, stuff, or the length of our lives.) Fifth, our human form is temporary. Our consciousness is not. (So be careful to choose your thoughts, feelings, and motives.) Sixth, perhaps our biggest fear is not that life doesn’t matter, but rather, that it does and that we are responsible.
I don’t expect you to agree with everything I have come to believe. I just appreciate you taking the time to listen.
American Dream Project
In the past two weeks I have traveled from Florida to the Rocky Mountains and back to California. I have spoken to nearly every age group, gender, and color of American, literally from 18-80. What I heard was anger. Anger at, well, almost everything that is so obviously broken. But the most pervasive feeling expressed was that we are angry because we are scared. And the most heartfelt question people asked is what can I do to create a personal oasis in a world that seems to be becoming a desert? What can I do to create personal, financial, emotional, mental and spiritual sustainability even if the outer world is convulsing with financial bankruptcy, emotional drama, mental instability, and spiritual confusion? This is the real question for all of us all the time. As one 80-year put it, “Every generation has its great challenge; welcome to yours.” From a perspective of someone who’s lived through pre-antibiotic healthcare, a great depression, a world war, civil rights, riots, and the birth of Rock ‘n Roll, that statement is code for. “Quit whining and take care of yourself.”
That very night I found myself reading a great new book, The Art of Learning, by Josh Weitzkin who quotes a powerful proverb that fits today’s challenges. Life is a long road of thorns in which we are confronted with three options: 1) we can walk the road barefoot and bloody, 2) we can sit down, weep and wait for someone to pave it, or 3) we can make our own sandals.
There have always been awful challenges. Plagues, earthquakes, wars, famines, and droughts. Job loss, divorce, death, and depression. Life’s question is “Are we willing to make sandals?” There are many ways to make them. One truism I have discovered in coaching others for three decades is that often a 5% change in our life will result in a 100% change in how we feel. Even though sandals only cover the “souls” of our feet, our entire body and mind rejoice at being relieved of the pain from the thorns of our life. Here is some “leather”—tough and strong ideas that may be of value.
If you’ve made some changes that have improved your quality of life, tell us about them. We need to share our “best practices” of life.
Founder, American Dream Project
I sincerely appreciate your many emails and other expressions of encouragement for the messages of the American Dream Project. As you share and forward our blog, our community steadily expands. And that’s what makes it worth it. So, first of all, thank you.
Something exciting has recently happened. Mark Effinger, the founder of Rich Content, which is an internet media company, has discovered our extensive library of American Dream event DVD’s, speeches, and interview video footage. He has asked to “broadcast” them as short (1 to 3 minute) segments all over the world wide web. He has also asked me for daily video commentaries on a wide range of topics that affect all of us ranging from politics, the economy, careers, relationships to book reviews. All related to issues that impact our quality of life right now. Doing these daily video blogs is a big commitment. And, I agreed. So, I converted part of my basement to a very simple “studio” and am starting these test videos. I am more used to talking to live, see-your-face audiences so it’s a new and challenging experience to just “let it rip” in front of a single camera in a musty basement.
The name of the daily super short video commentary is “ThoughtRocket – Ideas that Boom.” And it can be found on a new dedicated website – www.thoughtrocket.com. What you’ll see are short clips of professional video from speeches and on other days you will see my comments on important topics. It’s absolutely free and you can automatically receive new video posts by clicking the RSS link on the home page of the site. Of course, you can unsubscribe at any time if it gags you to see my face everyday.
The American Dream Project blog will continue just as it has been, usually once a week. So, if you want to stick with that, you don’t need to do anything. We’ll keep sending you our American Dream Project blog, calling for a new American agenda based on the “pursuit of genuine happiness.”
The voice of the American Dream Project, and now daily videos on ThoughtRocket.com will continue to creatively confront the issues of our time and how our responses can save our future and enrich our personal lives. Please be assured that neither the current American Dream Project Blog, or the ThoughtRocket videos will become obsessed with politics to the exclusion of coaching and comments on enlightening our lifestyle and strengthening our relationships. Although many of you like to engage in the great political debate of today, others of you appreciate a discussion on our personal lives and how to improve them no matter who is in office or what they are doing. We will seek to keep a healthy balance between these two and connect the dots wherever we can.
I encourage you to reply back with your thoughts, hopes and dreams. It is by coming together that we can amplify our individual voices so the future will be built on our united wisdom.
Oh yes, if you decide to view the daily ThoughtRocket videos, I’d love your feedback. I especially need help with my basement commentaries. I had no idea that talking to a camera would be so challenging. No matter what I do, I just can’t seem to get that tiny digital camera to laugh!
Thanks again for your support and comments,
Our first issue of Lifeology was launched today. Lifeology is our new online magazine - “ezine” - featuring the ideas and ideals of our members who constantly blow my mind with their insights and courage. It also features key articles on how to navigate your career, enrich your relationships, seek education and live your happiest life. It’s a beautiful web publication, free to download and send to anyone you know.
To subscribe to future issues, enter your email address on Need-to-Know Updates on our homepage: AmericanDreamProject.org.
CITIZEN: Volunteer to Do Things You Value
RELATIONSHIPS: Creating a Blissful Marriage
EDUCATION: Education, The Engine to Liberty
LIFESTYLE: Comfortably Buying a House Where You Want to Live
LEADERSHIP: REALeadership: Because Leadership Matters
CAREER: Where You Start in Life Doesn’t Determine Where You Finish
PLUS - Recommended Reading and What’s New with the American Dream Project