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Motivation Articles

Staying Off The Road To Regret

Tuesday, January 1st, 2013

A year from now you may wish you had started today.—Karen Lamb

This quote turned up on my Facebook page. A google search for Karen Lamb mostly turned up this quote, so I don’t know a lot about her, but as far as I can tell she wrote a self-published book called I Felt My Wings, about her spiritual awakening—a possibly wonderful book that does not interest me in the least. If you’ve read it, you can tell me about it.

But leaving Lamb’s path and considering only our own, this quote is a clear pointer towards the road to regret.


Smile Through The Tears – Or Not

Monday, December 24th, 2012

People are just as happy as they make up their minds to be. ― Abraham Lincoln

There are two ways to read this quote.

Lincoln might be telling us to “accentuate the positive.” That managing our emotions and deciding to be happy will make us feel happy. In which case,  this quote is kind of ironic, given that poor Abe struggled with depression. Seems like there’s a little self-loathing mixed into the words.


Grief And Fear And Grief

Tuesday, December 18th, 2012

No one ever told me that grief felt so much like fear. - C.S. Lewis

When I was a little girl, I sometimes tried to imagine what it would feel like to lose somebody I loved.

I could imagine only the sketchiest approximation, though. I knew I would be very sad, but had no weight or measure of that sadness and couldn’t imagine its nuances. All I knew is that it was likely to be a grief so enormous, I might not survive it.

A lot of years have passed since then, and I’ve lost a brother, several close friends, and my parents. And in a way, I’ve been granted one of the secrets of the universe: the knowledge that as terrifying as grief is, we almost always survive it.  

We fear grief as much as we feel it, which only makes our burden heavier. But grief cannot kill us (without our cooperation) so we don’t have to add to our pain with fear.

What we might fear when we feel grief:

  • That we will never emerge from it.
  • That the pain will always be as intense as fresh grief.
  • That the feelings are irrevocably changing us.
  •  That we will never feel safe again.
  •  That we will be haunted by regrets.
  •  That the new void in our life will never be filled.

Optimism For Pessimists

Friday, November 30th, 2012

Stranger things have happened.

This is one of my favorite things to say.

It’s hopeful, but not giddy. Cautiously optimistic. Optimism for pessimists.

It’s a shrug of the shoulders, a little bit superstitious. You don’t want to be too confident but, you know…it could happen. Stranger things have.

And almost no matter what you’re talking about, it’s true. All kinds of strange stuff happens every day, so unless you’re talking about the Rapture, there’s a good chance that something stranger than whatever is under discussion has happened at some point in time.


The Devil In Decisions

Wednesday, November 28th, 2012

Better the devil you know than the devil you don’t.

Yeah, sure, I get it.

Change is risky. You could go from the frying pan to the fire. From bad to worse.

But still—the devil? If you know you’re dealing with Lucifer himself, isn’t it wise to at least toy with idea of getting the hell out of there?

“Better the devil you know” seems an argument for stasis. It suggests that since there are no guarantees, you might as well just suck it up and stay stuck with the devil.

Isn’t that setting the bar a little low?


To Tell (Yourself) The Truth

Tuesday, November 20th, 2012

The truth will set you free. – John 8:32

I’m not one to quote chapter and verse often (ever), but this tidbit is too wise to ignore.

I am taking it entirely out of context here so if you want to tell me where it fits into Scripture, please feel free.

But aside from all that—yes, yes, yes.

And I’m not talking about that tangled web we weave when we lie to other people. That’s a whole other mess. I’m talking about the lies we tell ourselves—the most powerful, potent, and difficult to address lies.

Lies like, “I’m happy.”

Or, “I have a great job that I love.”

Or, “If I had a different relationship, I would be happy.”

Or, “If I do things this way, I can keep everyone happy.”

Or, “I’m OK as long as you’re OK.”

Lies, lies, lies.


Keep Trying, But Don’t Count On A Miracle

Thursday, November 8th, 2012

The moment you are ready to quit is usually the moment right before the miracle happens. Don’t give up.—The Internet*

Usually? Really? Usually when the miracle happens?

If miracles are usual, are they really miracles?

This is one of those squishy motivational quotes that goes around the Internet and makes people feel good, but that has no real substance at all. Scrutinize them too hard and they melt into a sticky mess, like strawberry ice cream on a hot sidewalk.

Nothing against perseverance, I’m 100 percent in favor of it. But a quote that guarantees a miracle is lying to you.


Regrets You Regret and Regrets You Don’t

Tuesday, November 6th, 2012

I would rather regret the things I have done than the things I haven’t. –Lucille Ball

I’m taking the Internet’s word that Lucille Ball said this, although surely someone must have said it before her. I did find a similar (typically verbose) quote from Henry James: “I don’t regret a single ‘excess’ of my responsive youth—I only regret, in my chilled age, certain occasions and possibilities I didn’t embrace.”

When I last wrote about regret, the shorter sentiment was mentioned by several readers as a favorite quote to live by. I see the appeal. It’s so…active. So devil may care. So make it happen and caution to the wind.


Why We Should Choose Change

Thursday, October 4th, 2012

Nothing ever changes if nothing ever changes.

PsychCentral asked people on their Facebook page for their favorite motivational quotes and this one came up a couple of times. I’ve never heard it before and I like it.

I tend to get frustrated with people who complain about problems without ever doing anything different to fix them. There’s a sort of wishful/magical thinking about that, as if a problem should simply respond to your discontent and solve itself because you want it to.

My frustration is actually totally uncool. Unkind. People are naturally resistant to change. Of course they would rather gripe. It’s only natural. Change is hard. Inertia is very powerful.

But is that true for everyone all the time?


Face Reality: Life Can Be Random

Thursday, September 20th, 2012

Everything happens for a reason.

I don’t know who said this first, but lots of people say it now and it annoys me every time I hear it.

I’m not a fan of magical thinking and that’s what this is—some sort of happy-voodoo, abracadabra, unicorns and rainbows, fairy dust and angels belief in preordination.

Of course, it’s a comforting belief. I get that. It makes the world feel less random, makes order of what might seem like chaos at the time.

But it’s not true. A lot of stuff happens for purely random reasons. And even religion and an omnipotent God can’t account for everything—that’s the whole premise behind the classic book of comfort, When Bad Things Happen to Good People.

Sure, some things happen for a reason, but that reason is in the past or present, not the future. And it’s not always a good reason. You drink, you drive, you wrap your car around a pole or end up in an addled-looking mug shot. It happened for a reason—you were drinking and driving—but it didn’t happen as a way to make you stop drinking and driving. It happened because you were doing something dumb.

Or you skip a class so often that you end up failing. Maybe the F inspires you to find another major because you realize that this subject bores you silly. That’s good. But you didn’t fail the class because the stars were saying you needed to change majors. You failed because you didn’t go to class.

This quote has it backwards. It’s not that everything happens for a reason. It’s that the best we can do when things happen is find a reason or a way to be OK with them. Use them to move forward. Figure out if there’s something to learn from them and take the lesson to heart. Put it into action.

Everything doesn’t happen for a reason. But if we live consciously, we can find reasons to make the best of everything that happens.

Image of magic show is available from Shutterstock.


 

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