Pin Your Tail Back On, Eeyore!

Rewiring Our Thoughts

Are you accused of being a Pollyanna about life? Pollyanna was the little girl who always saw the silver lining in every cloud. Personally, I’d rather be Pollyanna than Eeyore from the Winnie the Pooh stories, the latter who sees the cloud in any silver lining.

If you’ve read my work for any length of time you probably know I’m not one to spout trite affirmations. Phrases of positive content are definitely helpful in reshaping our thinking, but we must supplement them with equally positive actions. Some people seem to think thinking, saying or writing affirmations is the end all; then they’re upset when their desires don’t fall in their lap, or appear wrapped up with a pretty red bow and delivered by a hunky FedEx® guy in shorts!

Still … just being positive appears to have clinic evidence to recommend the practice of going for the good, instead of anticipating the bad. Social psychologist Alison Ledgerwood is a researcher who “investigates how certain ways of thinking about an issue tend to stick in people's heads.”

Not surprising is that positive thinking leads to more positive results than negative thinking. But there’s a more bizarre and quite eye-opening fact about the opposite. According to Ledgerwood, thinking from bad-to-good, or losses-to-gains, requires more work on our part than moving from good-to-bad, or gains-to-losses. And, in most cases, our brains never quite get all the way back to the positive, as we experience a bit of “residual doubt” even when the worst thing we can imagine doesn’t happen.

This may have served us well as hunter/gatherers thousands of years ago, but in modern society it can be a serious problem. One would think that going from A-to-B would be the same as going from B-to-A, yet studies indicate the opposite. In other words, if we want to have a more productive, satisfying and successful life we are better out starting out with the positive angle of anything, instead of looking for all the negative consequences.

Ledgerwood reports that research from University of California Davis suggests that “writing just a few minutes a day about the things we’re grateful for can boost happiness, well-being and health.”

In a world that focuses on what’s wrong it can be a challenge to focus on what’s right. However, stepping up to that challenge is exactly what the clinical research tells us we must do for not only our success and happiness, but for our peace of mind and physical well-being.

So here’s a thought:  Instead of assuming that the next tragedy reported via the media is definitely a terrorist attack fueling the “phobia du jour,” why not move directly to compassion and support for those affected?

If you’re not already doing so, start each day even before you get out of bed by focusing on the positive things that you expect to happen. (Side point:  EXPECT good things to happen!) And, before retiring, write in a “Gratitude Journal” about just three things that happened that day for which you can give thanks.

P.S.  Click here to watch Dr. Alison Ledgerwood’s TEDxUCDAVIS talk on this subject!

In Spirit, Truth and Playfulness,
Terry

Copyright © 2017 Terry Drew Karanen. All rights reserved.
This message may be re-printed, copied and/or forwarded without permission, as long as the content is not altered in any way and credit is given to the author.

 

Have you ever felt victimized? You may have been taken advantage of by someone you trusted, felt cheated out of an opportunity, or perhaps physically harmed in some way.

Unfortunately, at least one of these possible scenarios may seem all-too-familiar to you. Much of what happens in our lives is a direct result of our choices, though more often than not with most people the choices are unconscious ones.

There’s another area that brings up the situation of looking like a victim. Scripture tells us that “time and unforeseen circumstances befall us all.” We all know that in spite of our best plans and actions, shit happens.

Right now in the world there are events occurring to concern or infuriate us perhaps more than any time in the past. Dwelling on the tragedies may cause us to fear the unknown to such an extent that it stops us from even leaving our homes without anxiety.

In spite of the unthinkable situations we’ve seen, we’ve also repeatedly heard of communities that have been the target of a terrorist attack and have healed through their own tenacity. The people do not stop living their lives or refuse to live in fear. They continue to hold onto the ideals that define them.

It’s in group and individual situations like these that we choose being the victor over being the victim. Even if we don’t have a clue how to move forward after a community, family or personal challenge has come to us, the very fact that we are willing to get up the next morning and go about our life shows we possess the power to heal.

If you have moments of despair due to world or local conditions, immediately start to do something small to change your perception. One way is to stop the constant flow of news reports – often conflicting – that may be flowing through your mobile device.

Another way is to decide what YOU want out of life, instead of being engrossed, as it’s so easy to do on social media, with the “tragedies” of others. Seriously, compared to world peace, do you really give a rip about her broken fingernail or the fact that the barista misspelled his name on the latté cup?

Don’t let the media and the “sky is falling” mentality stop you from living. The uninformed and uneducated will continue to freak out; and, there are plenty of people who purposely attempt to mislead us for their own gain. Stand up for what you believe in. Refuse to set aside your principles, ethics, and morals. BE the type of person you say others should be.

I’m committed to stop blaming my problems on the actions or inactions of others. Will you join me in being a victor? Together, we CAN have a world that works for everyone.

In Spirit, Truth and Playfulness,
Terry

#DrTerryMakingSense
#IAN1
@TerryDKaranen

Copyright © 2017 Terry Drew Karanen. All rights reserved.
This message may be re-printed, copied and/or forwarded without permission, as long as the content is not altered in any way and credit is given to the author.

What’s In Your Consciousmess?

Is that a typo in the title? No. But when you think about it, consciousmess just might describe life as we know it right now. At this moment in time it seems a lot of us are angry with this mess we believe humans have made of our planet. But under the outrage is another, simpler emotion:  Fear.

Our government seems to be imploding, with actions reported on domestic and international news networks that we might more commonly expect on late night TV or “Saturday Night Live.” To add to the madness this week, we include a Russian “spy ship” off the coast of Delaware. So, yes, there’s a good deal of concern, fear from many, about what’s next.

Philosopher and writer Ernest Holmes once wrote that “fear is faith misplaced.” In other words, we have a strong belief that something will go amiss. The result of such thinking is a consciousmess; it’s messed up thinking about the occurrences around us.

Without constant vigilance we can easily take this mess into our lives. Some of us are acting like it’s an honored houseguest. We nurture it, post constantly on social media about it, and “what if” ourselves into a stupor.

The principle of cause and effect – that we have control over our experience of the conditions in our lives – is simple. That doesn’t mean it’s always easy. And, it doesn’t mean we’re helping to heal the situation by spreading our doubts and fears all over everyone around us.

The consciousmess we are dealing with right now has been created by a series of events, but if it’s our face now then it must be there for a reason. It has the potential to involve and affect us in inspiring, healing and amazing ways should we choose to participate in this manner.

The question is either how much we want world and national events to affect us, or whether we want to affect change in whatever way we can with what we’re faced with today. We have the option to act in love, instead of reacting in fear. It’s long-passed time to watch others suffer and do nothing. And, it’s very human not to want to scream “I told you so!” along with all the articles, facts and data that are so abundant to support our causes.

Still, some people are not willing to change, at least right now. The best we can do is to make sure we are living by the principles we believe are being broken by others, and not joining in the fight against everything we find adverse to the peace we know is possible. Here’s a quote to consider from Albert Schweitzer:  “Constant kindness can accomplish much. As the sun makes ice melt, kindness causes misunderstanding, mistrust, and hostility to evaporate.

In other words, this is going to take time. We’ve seen the havoc that can be caused when a nation believes complex problems can be fixed through simple solutions or unenforceable mandates. The consciousmess in which we find ourselves will not be solved overnight. But it’s already unfolding into a newly-found confidence of hope through change being brought about by positive action. What part will you play?

In Spirit, Truth and Playfulness,
Terry

#DrTerryMakingSense
#IAN1
@TerryDKaranen

Copyright © 2017 Terry Drew Karanen. All rights reserved.

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So MUCH To Complain About!

Have you got complaints? “Have I got complaints? You should only HAVE the problems I have!” It’s not enough that we have our own issues to deal with. On top of everything else there’s the constant stream of bad news coming to us from social media. What can we do?

First of all, we can stop complaining. I realize, quite acutely, that you may have someone in your life that has made bitching about everything into an art form. It’s not healthy. What we focus on increases in our life. Do we really want all these personal and global issues to get worse? Hardly.

There’s a balance, of course. We don’t turn a blind eye to what’s happening around us or in our personal lives. The balance comes from the discernment we exercise in what to handle ourselves, what to allow others to handle with our help, and what to let go of. Michael Michalko put it this way, “Change the way you speak, and change the way you think.”

That’s a form of the famous Ernest Holmes phrase, “Change your thinking, change your life.” Michalko, however, brings a excellent point to our attention. It’s one thing to think about some issue or desire. It’s a completely different thing to speak those thoughts. Not only are we thinking them, but we are hearing what we say; in doing so we’re reinforcing the thought. Additionally we are putting those thoughts out so that others hear us, and thereby take those thoughts into their consciousness as well.

Unity minister, Will Bowen, created the “Complaint Free World” several years ago. The challenge is to be complaint free in our speech for a full 30 days. The first time I took the challenge I was doing good to get through 30 minutes. But, with intense practice, patience and determination, I finally made it to 30 days.

During the last few weeks I have found myself doing a little complaining here and there. Okay. I’ll fess up. I’ve been bitching my fool head off, as my Grandma Esther would have said. I decided last week to once again stop complaining about things over which I have no control. That encompasses about 98.9 percent of what I see on social media.

Would you be willing to do what you can for your personal, family, community and global effort toward peace this week? Start by being a citizen of action, instead of reacting through the bitchy cycle so many have found themselves wrapped up in. It’s a nasty little hamster wheel you don’t need to be on.

In Spirit, Truth and Playfulness,
Terry

#DrTerryMakingSense
#IAN1
@TerryDKaranen

Copyright © 2017 Terry Drew Karanen. All rights reserved.

Food Pictures, Anyone?

Are you craving non-political, non-outrageous social media postings? You’re not alone. The past couple of weeks have been exhausting!

One of my co-workers posted this the other day:  “I've done a lot of unfollowing lately. Please bring back the posts of what you are having for dinner.” I get what she’s saying:  I want a simpler time, a happier time, a more carefree and “normal” life.

Okay, news flash. That ain’t happening anytime soon, so fasten your seatbelts ‘cause we’re in for a bumpy ride. For better or worse what we see before us is our current “normal.” Personally I’m not willing to perpetuate that if I can help it.

I remembered four questions to ask ourselves before we post that juicy tidbit. You know, the one that bitch-slaps our current most hated and despised individual, which could be Kellyanne Conley for some of you and Sen. Elizabeth Warren for others.

These suggestions are called “The Work,” and come from Byron Katie in her book, “I Need Your Love – I That True?" For any possible posting (and also for any problem or situation in your life), ask:

  1. Is it true? – Or is it just supporting our biases, prejudice and unresolved hatred for someone or another ideology.
  2. Can I absolutely know that it’s true? – That means vet before we post, not just because what we’re reading agrees with our own beliefs.
  3. How do I react when I think that thought? – In other words, how do we react internally to question #2? Do we get defensive? If we do then we just might be defending our own ignorance and refusal to see the truth.
  4. Who would I be without that thought? – Does posting this idea or report benefit us personally and make the world a better place? Or, to put it another way, are we informing others from truthful information (to the best of our knowledge) to encourage them to take positive action for change; or, are we just gossiping about shit which means we’d rather bitch about others than actually do something that makes a difference?

We’ll probably still post things we haven’t checked out thoroughly, or wish we hadn’t stirred up a hornet’s nest. But taking these four very simple, but important, questions into mind in posting – as well as in our lives in general – just might allow us to sleep a bit sounder at night. Believe me; the people who are making the news would be delighted to know they’ve interrupted your slumber. Don’t give them that power.

In Spirit, Truth and Playfulness,
Terry

Copyright © 2017 Terry Drew Karanen. All rights reserved.

Now What?

It’s been quite a year, non? That question is an understatement. Well, at least for me and the majority of my readers.

It could seem like the year is ending with uproar and confusion. Added to that is a year ahead which holds more questions than answers. How do we handle the situation? The question, “Now what?” makes complete sense in a state of affairs that is full of uncertainty.

There really is only one constant:  Change. Much of what we’ve heard around the world is returning our communities to “the way things were,” as if this fantasy past had no problems. Change happens and we can’t move forward into the future while we’re clinging to the past. The truth is that the past had as many problems as we have now, but it’s now that we’re finally talking about them.

The consciousness of the planet is changing. Inequality, lack of equanimity, discrimination and bullying on the local or global level are things that intelligent, educated people are no longer willing to tolerate simply because the answers are inconvenient. To re-write the movie line, “Fast your seat belts. It’s going to be a bumpy [year]!”

So fasten your seat belt. Get a firm idea of where you want to be next time this year. Put your affairs in order, get your ducks in a row, or do whatever it is you must do to realize the security you need to attain contentment and happiness. NO ONE gets to put us down or make us feel less than we are without our consent. REFUSE to consent in any way shape or form to being anything else but your magnificent self!

This will be my last message to you for the year. I leave tomorrow for three days of flying before returning home to celebrate a belated Christmas with my family. Enjoy this beautiful season in spite of the unrest we see around us. As Jesus admonished his followers, be in the world but not of it. In other words, be present in the moment and know the Truth:  You are whole, complete and perfect just the way you are. You are precious and loved. YOU are the Light of the World. Shine brightly now and forever! We’ll chat again in January!

In Spirit, Truth and Playfulness,
Terry

#DrTerryMakingSense
#TerryDrewKaranen
@TerryDKaranen
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Terry Drew Karanen © 2016

Light a Candle

How tired are you of the negativity, outright lies and blatant disregard for common sense we hear from the media?

I know.

Silly question.

It’s like whenever there’s a disaster of any kind in the world:  We don’t want to watch, but we do. Sometimes we get so addicted to the details – even though the reporters are merely repeating what was already said 20 minutes earlier – that we find ourselves almost immovable in front of our screen.

If what we are hearing is an affront to our intelligence and common decency we may decide to lash out in protest, often posting or spreading reports and details that we’ve not properly vetted ourselves. This is easy to do, particularly if the information we discover and disseminate agrees with our viewpoint or political ideology.

Later, however, we may find out the evidence we neglected to personally research turns out to be fabricated or satirical, making us look rather pathetic while at the same time giving undue credence to a person or cause not worthy of such trust.

WHAT TO DO?!?Candle

Perhaps it’s time our relatively young country takes some sage advice from the other side of the pond. In her 2015 Christmas message, England’s Queen Elizabeth reminded us,

It is said that it is better to light a candle than curse the darkness.

That’s not to say we shouldn’t be uninformed or put our heads in the sand because our global issues are complex. What we can do is learn what we need to know; then, exercise our personal power to honestly recognize when it’s time to curb our appetite for a diet we know will not just leave us unsatisfied, but also annoyed, more stressed out and with a sense of dread.

As much as we might like to see someone or some organization get what we suppose to be their just desserts, our time would be better spent in improving our own lives, the lives of those we love and furthering peace and understanding on the planet.

Where will you light a candle in the apparent darkness of your day?

In Spirit, Truth and Playfulness,
Terry

#DrTerryMakingSense
#TerryDrewKaranen
@TerryDKaranen
#IAN1

Terry Drew Karanen © 2016

Distractions

Are you easily distracted? I am if I’m not holding an almost constant vigilance with my purpose. I suppose it might have something to do with that ADHD thing.

So, yeah, some guys in white coats feel I have this inability to effectively give my attention to what’s in front of me. My family might agree. No, my family DOES agree.

I don’t. We can’t allow a diagnosis or opinion to be a reason to think less of ourselves or make it a defining point in our lives. For example, I’m tall, six foot two inches – that’s 1.88m for my non-American readers. I could say, “OH NO! I’m too tall to go up in the attic! I can’t get into a small car. Oh poor me!” Instead it means I have to duck … a lot. Yeah, I hit my head – repeatedly, since apparently I’m not always the brightest bulb on the Christmas tree – but not as often if I remember where I am and what I’m doing.

Even this blog is an example of my ability to be distracted if I don’t stay in control of my direction. However, I’m not going to scrap the whole first point just because I got sidetracked. Why? Because if I’m thinking about this stuff then others may be, too, and it just might be helpful.

So what WAS my blog supposed to be about? Here it is:

Allowing ISIS to distract us from life.

(I know – quantum jump – get used to it. My family just learns to deal with it, that is when they aren’t too tired, in which case someone just slaps me.)

The threat of terrorism and the reality of hundreds of thousands of refugees is nothing to ignore. But it is not a reason to become distracted from other challenges, both domestically and internationally, that deserve our attention. In other words, we can’t let our lives fall apart worrying about the problems in the world or down the block.

The recent terror attacks reported in the news in France and Mali have shifted the focus in the news, as well as in the current political races here in the States. How sad that politicians and would-be-presidents are doing little if nothing for the plight of those affected, but using the events and issues as marketing tools to downgrade their opponents with the hope of winning an election or fuel Islamophobia for their own designs.

We have a choice, but it’s not easy. Like most Truth principles, the course is simple – put one foot in the front of the other and carry on – but it’s far from easy to do that for most of us. We are charged with the duty to see through the media frenzy and political posturing. We turn away not from those whom we can assist, but we do “turn the other cheek,” as Jesus the great teacher said, and look in the direction of solutions.

Each day is another opportunity to remain vigilant with our spirit, mind and body to help create a life worth living in a world dedicated to cooperation and compassion. What we do matters. We may not see it, but any act of kindness we can perform on a personal and local level is one more building block put into place for a new foundation of planetary peace.

Will we run in fear as the media and politicians would have us do? Will we point our fingers at people and issues we don’t like nor understand? Or, will we take action and make a difference?

The choice is ours. Choose wisely.

In Spirit, Truth and Playfulness,

Terry

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