Sep 02

Great Movie on Conscious Aging

Strangers in Good Company (Touchstone, 1991)


A group of long-lived women take shelter in an abandoned farmhouse when their tour bus breaks down. While they wait for other transportation, they share the stories of their lives with each other.

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Jun 24

Living Without Loneliness by Deepak Chopra

The state of loneliness can be crippling. Though the majority of people don’t find themselves consumed by it, they do feel its effects. Their inner worlds shrink and dry up. For others, the issue looms over them like a specter in the future rather than as present reality.

The only real answer to loneliness is to experience your own fullness. Then and only then can you be sure that you will not look inside one day to find holes, gaps, unanswered fears and a sense of lack. Here are steps that enable you to become true to yourself. They aren’t magic bullets, and I recognize that loneliness, like every other psychological state, has degrees of severity. But whether you look on being lonely as a mild or severe issue, the same solution applies. The three steps are given in no order of priority; consider adopting all of them.

Step 1: Have a Vision That You Devote Time to Every Day

Happiness experts often advise that the best way to have a happy life is to have a happy day. I’d modify this a little. The best way to have a happy life is to have a happy day that looks forward to tomorrow. The future is something you build toward, and the place where you build is inside yourself. Society offers a different image, telling us that we should work hard for 20 or 30 years, postponing fulfillment until the end. This makes little sense to me. Why wait for golden years on the chance that you will still be strong, optimistic and full of promise?

It’s much easier to be that way now. Use your present energies to build your future in the following ways:

    • Write down a single vision, project or mission.


    • Set time aside every day to work on it.


    • Make sure that work consists of doing research; making connections; investigating your target audience or market; learning from projects similar to yours; challenging your assumptions; writing a proposal; seeking a mentor, a partner, or a confidant to bounce your ideas off of; and raising capital if needed.


    • Set interim deadlines that you can reasonably meet every month.


  • Be adaptable about changing your project as it unfolds.

If you can commit yourself to these steps, you will experience the kind of optimism and vitality that builds over time. Vision is the same as long-range purpose, which is something everyone needs. Someone might counter that I am simply giving career advice. If you do the kind of work that can embrace a long-range vision, that’s great. Not everyone is an entrepreneur or a top executive, however. For most people, a personal vision is just that—personal. They want something bigger than themselves to become dedicated to. The arena may be community and family. Whatever you choose, make sure that you are finding fulfillment every step of the way. Your vision aims at self-expansion.

Step 2: Put Yourself in a Context for Fulfillment

The solitary life is suitable for very few people; the vast majority prefer social connections. We all have them, but are yours the kind that fulfill you emotionally? If not, then the whole value of relationship is being missed. Proximity isn’t the same as bonding. There is a sliding scale for bonding, from least to most intimate, which is as follows:

    • I have nice friends and enjoy their company.


    • I have at least one close friend in whom I can confide; this friend is like a part of me.


    • I am bound with a loved one in a deeply personal relationship. We have our own private world together.


    • I have someone in my life who inspires me. I feel bigger and better in their presence.


    • I am on a deep spiritual path, and someone as dedicated as I am walks beside me.


    • I feel blessed to be in the presence of the divine, which I feel through everyone I meet.


Relationships reflect who you are inside, which is why the experience of bonding can go from shallow social contact to the merging of souls. If you want to be true to yourself, find the context in this scale that reflects your inner life, and if you don’t really know where that is, consult a friend, a confidant, a mentor or a therapist who can help. You need to speak with someone who can give you a clear view of yourself (which far more important than someone who is friendly and sympathetic).

Once you find the right context, build upon it. Relationships exist for the purpose of mutual fulfillment. If they exist for other reasons—status, financial security, feeling wanted, meeting the social norm—you can certainly be happy, perhaps for a long time. However, that’s not the same as being true to yourself deep down and allowing intimacy to move into the region of the soul.

Step 3: View Your Life as a Process, a Never-ending Journey

I know lots of people who say, “I want to feel young,” but very few who say, “I want to feel timeless.” As long as you live between the end points of birth and death, life is like a conveyor belt heading inexorably for a black tunnel. The only time that never ages is the present moment. “Living in the now” has become a spiritual cliché, but it isn’t always a useful one. Helpless infants live in the now, and so do Alzheimer’s patients. The now becomes eternal only when it is full. When your being is enough to sustain you, complete fullness is at hand. When just being here elicits bliss, you are timeless.

Being isn’t a choice. We all possess it. Yet we spend endless hours trying to escape it. As the poet Wordsworth lamented, the world is too much with us late and soon. We run after external rewards; we feel restless and anxious if we look inward. In essence, we are desperately trying to escape ourselves. When we run out of energy, money, playmates and toys, what happens? Utter loneliness.

Life is a process of finding yourself and living in contentment with what you find. It’s not an expedition to reach a distant mountain peak. It’s not a trail marked by things you can tick off, like a college diploma, a first house, retirement in Florida. The process is at once intimate and simple. You learn to be. This is the highest meaning of being true to yourself.

You can learn to be every day:

    • Set aside some quiet time.


    • Meditate.


    • Be aware of areas of discomfort and address them.


    • Assess your state of well-being.


    • Commune with nature.


  • Become absorbed in a creative pursuit.

People will often call these things “losing yourself,” which is true in a limited way: You are losing the ego self, with its cares and desires, its restlessness and disquiet. But in a larger sense you are finding yourself. The core of yourself is calm, centered, unshakable and fulfilled. The reason we look outward to find fulfillment is that we haven’t yet settled on the place inside where being and fulfillment are the same. Working to find the same contentment after you grow up will get you to “organized innocence,” as it has been called. You have absorbed a wide range of life experiences. You know what you know and can do what you do. At the same time, there is a secure sense of being deep inside. Usually we think of this as spiritual seeking, but words like God, spirit, the soul, salvation, carry too many associations. Perhaps it’s better to call it “the process” and leave it at that.

The process of unfolding requires no work or struggle. You are totally connected to your being right now, as you always have been. The only thing you’ve lost is the awareness of your connection. As you expand and become more aware, what happens? You need less and less from the outer world and other people. You realize that security, love and joy are innate qualities of being. They can’t be lost, only forgotten. So the highest project you can devote yourself to is self-discovery. In the end, loneliness will seem like a phantom, something barely remembered. Yet even today, if you start to discover who you really are, every moment will be the opposite of lonely. You will be absorbed in the essence of life, and nothing is more fascinating.

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Jun 13

Gratitude or Complaint


Do you have a favorite holiday?  I certainly do. It’s Thanksgiving. I think it’s because I was born near Thanksgiving and in fact, for most of my formative years, I thought all of America was celebrating My birthday!  (Now that’s a great way to develop good self-esteem…)


Thanksgiving, Gratitude, Appreciation have all been very important themes in my life – so, you can imagine that it came as quite a shock to me when not long ago, I was sitting on my comfortable purple wing back chair in my peaceful, green living room, having a conversation with my business coach.  When out from the mouth of the speaker  phone, I distinctly heard him say – Toni – all you ever do is complain. 


You’ve been doing nothing but complaining since the first time we started to work together.  All I hear from you is Complaint, Complaint, Complaint.


Wow!  That was a shock.  Not me – I’m one of the most positive people I know.  After all, I really believe that It’s a wonderful world.  I believe that the Universe is a friendly place.  I see the Good in everything and everyone. (well – almost everyone!)


For heavens sake, I even teach people to create gratitude journals, to live in appreciation and find the positive aspects about every situation. I’m always talking about focusing on the good. I do this for a living.


Did he know who he was talking to? I quickly moved back away from the phone (as if that would help what I was hearing) and decided then and there that he clearly hadn’t heard anything I had been saying all those months we were working together – surely, he didn’t understand me –– He must have ME mistaken with someone else….  I was not a happy camper.


I see complaining as the direct opposite of gratitude and that just wasn’t the image I ever held of myself. 


He went on to tell me – it’s subtle but nonetheless true,

you never think that you are doing enough, or that what you ARE doing is good enough and I’ve even noticed that most of the goals you have set are because you feel like YOU are NOT ENOUGH.  Toni – I call that constantly complaining…


WHEW!   I didn’t like what I was hearing ONE bit –and so, I did what any high self-esteem person would have done at the moment –  I ended my relationship with him!


After spending some time COMPLAINING about this coach to my friends!! – I began to take a closer look at my life and what I was saying and thinking – albeit unconsciously. And, so, IF YOU PROMISE NOT TO COMPLAIN –  I will share with you today all the complaints that I have let go of since and how that has radically changed my life.


If you are complaining at all – you can’t be feeling and living in gratitude.  I suggest we prepare for Thanksgiving this year by beginning to  NOTICE the number of ways we complain in life and make a commitment to letting go of all complaints.


This goes along with the message I gave here last month about allowing everything to be okay – it’s just a little more subtle…


So – what do I mean about letting go of complaints -That means – the complaints you have about things not going your way – perhaps with the economy – or the govt;- or maybe we should start with something easier like your neighbors, you job or in your relationships;


the complaints you have about other people’s stupidity or lack of insight (which means they don’t think like you!) –


the complaint that says – I wish I were somewhere else or doing something else… When we aren’t accepting what is exactly as it is, we are actually complaining!


DISTRACTIONS from the present moment are a way of our being UNGRATEFUL for what is. 

Whenever we fail to focus on what we are doing, we are in effect criticizing it – wanting to do something else.

(I told you this was subtle.)


What did you complain about this past week?  Yesterday?  This morning?

Remember that What we focus on increases – When you complain, you are actually inviting the Universe to give you more to complain about!!


Do you want to know God more and to allow the perfect plan for your life to present itself in you?  Then rather than complain about things as they are – begin to NOTICE only what is RIGHT in your life and in all your affairs.


You will notice that if you start conversation with criticism all join in…and if you start with praise, the same happens.


Mrs. Jones entertained at a musical afternoon in her home.  The feature was a great and well known violinist.  When it was all over, everybody crowded around the musician.

I’ve got to be very frank with you, one of the guests said.. I think your performance was terrible. 
Whereupon the hostess interposed:: Pay no attention to him.  He doesn’t know what he is talking about.  He only repeats what he hears everyone else say.


Find something to appreciate in everyone you know.

If you find yourself in a conversation today where others are complaining – gently but deliberately turn the tide of the conversation to WHAT IS WORKING. We Get what we focus on in life.


Do you want more wholeness in your physical body?  Then praise the evidence of life and health that you already have, and the divine intelligence within your cells will be encouraged to create even greater wholeness and well-being. Even our bodies respond more to LOVE Than to criticism. (my personal story lately!….)

DO you want more prosperity?  Begin to truly APPRECIATE what you do have – whatever resources you do have,  – stop looking at what isn’t there and look at what IS instead and you will find that and what you have will multiply in new and creative ways


Forbes Magazine

If we noticed little pleasure, as we notice little pains

If we quite forgot our losses and remembered all our gains

If we looked for people’s virtues and their faults refused to see

What a comfortable, happy, cheerful place this world would be.

There is a story told about a woman Zen master named Sono who taught one very simple method of enlightenment. She advised everyone who came to her to adopt an affirmation to be said many times a day, under all conditions. The affirmation was, “Thank you for everything. I have no complaint whatsoever.”

      Many people from all arenas of life came to Sono for healing. Some were in physical pain; others were emotionally distraught; others had financial troubles; some were seeking soul liberation. No matter what their distress or what question they asked, her response was the same: “Thank you for everything. I have no complaint whatsoever.” Some people went away disappointed; others grew angry; others tried to argue with her. Yet some people took her suggestion to heart and began to practice it. Tradition tells that everyone who practiced Sono’s mantra found peace and healing.

      Thank you for everything. I have no complaint whatsoever.      Can you imagine what your life would be like if you simply dropped your complaints? It’s a radical proposal, since most of us have been trained to question, analyze, and criticize everything we see.

I used to teach critical thinking – and it’s an important skill to master – but, I found after a while that I was more easily noticing what was wrong with things than what was right.  Does anybody else see themselves in this or am I alone?

And, then, of course, we end up questioning, analyzing, and criticizing ourselves. Then we miss out on joy, the only true measure of success.

Thank you for everything. I have no complaint whatsoever.

      Perhaps there is a voice inside you objecting, “But if I did not complain, people would walk all over me and if we stopped complaining about our government – terrorists would keep crashing airplanes into buildings, and, selfish opportunists would genetically manipulate our food  and all kinds of new viruses would creep into our lives –and–Got it.

      Thank you for everything. I have no complaint whatsoever.  When you are truly living that, you can’t help but experience gratitude.  And, the next step after FEELING gratitude is acting out of gratitude – which is acting in service. 

I’d like to suggest this month that you consider the organizations and people you complain about – maybe even this Church — and then ask – HOW CAN I SERVE those very people and organizations? 

Where have you found yourself saying THIS needs to be done… Why isn’t anyone doing  x?   What in your life do you believe SHOULD be happening?  What are YOU doing about it?  


Listen how often you say HE SHOULD be doing… or – we need to….  If you’d said that or thought that – I’d like to tell you what Emma Curtis Hopkins, mystic and early New Thought teacher –  once said – If an idea comes to you about what needs to be done, it is YOURS TO DO..   (REPEAT)…


Whenever you are complaining – it is really your intuitive voice calling you to SERVE!  Now, how’s that for a reframe!!


I have a favorite poem about this that I’d like to share with you today… You might have heard it. It goes:


 There once were four people named Everybody, Somebody, Anybody and Nobody.

An important job had to be done, and everybody was sure that somebody would do it. 

Anybody could have done it, but Nobody did it. 

Somebody got angry about that because it was Everybody’s job. 
Everybody thought Anybody could do it and that Somebody would do it.

But Nobody realized that Everybody thought Somebody would do it.

It ended up that Everybody blamed Somebody when Nobody did what Anybody could have done.


So – NO COMPLAINTS – and if you do complain, ask instead HOW YOU CAN SERVE and– find things to APPRECIATE.


I’d like to make a distinction between gratitude and appreciation.

Often, there is so much in the nuances of life. For me, the difference between gratitude and appreciation is one such nuance.  I used to keep a gratitude journal, now I write pages about what I appreciate.


Gratitude often points you towards a struggle you’ve overcome and so You’re happy that you’re out of it – some of your energy might still be on what you overcame. Sometimes we are grateful for what didn’t happen – like after being sick, we often feel grateful for our health.  Or when something we don’t like happens, we’re often grateful that it wasn’t worse.

Even when we receive something from someone else.. If we think we have to repay a debt – that’s not the best of energies.

Appreciation – on the other hand – aligns you with the Source within you. It’s a very different vibration.

Try it for yourself. Say the following, and feel the difference within you:

“I am so very grateful for __________________.”

“I have so much appreciation for ______________.”

Appreciation is a vibrational alignment with who I have become; It’s Me being in sync with the whole of who I am. Seeing what I am looking at through the eyes of Source.

You could walk down the street and other people see things to criticize.  But, when you are in a vibration of appreciation, you wouldn’t see them – because you are seeing as God sees. 

So, I invite you to start making lists of the positive aspects of the people and situations in your life– You might even give them or send them to the people you are writing about.

HT Webster, the newspaper cartoonist, amused himself one summer day by sending telegrams to twenty acquaintances selected at random; each message containing the one word, CONGRATULATIONS.   So far as he knew, not one of them had done anything in particular to be congratulated on:: But each took the message as a matter of course and wrote him a letter of thanks.  Everyone of them had done something that he himself regarded as clever and worthy of a congratulatory telegram.


If you were going to die soon and had only one phone call you could make, who would you call and what would you say?  And why are you waiting?

Spend the next few weeks finding people and things to appreciate – Commit to Letting go of all complaints.


Look for reasons to feel good.  Focus on your favorite things –

Look for the things you like and don’t give attention to anything else.

I think you’ll find that – IT’S TRULY –  A WONDERFUL WORLD.



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Nov 05

Don’t Make Assumptions

Don’t Make Assumptions

When people say things like: “The ocean is beautiful” or “There’s nothing more breathtaking than a sunset” do you ever find yourself robotically agreeing with them without consciously thinking about their statements? This is a common practice.


What if, when you really think about it, you discover you prefer mountains to ocean views, or would rather watch the sun rise than set? Do you know your own opinions? How easy it is to just agree than to be thinking all the time and even more to be feeling and to know what you are feeling?   It’s even easy to say, “never allow others to tell you what to think, who you are or what you should be doing with your life”. And yet, we all do it.


The Four Agreements are a spiritual practice based on the ancient wisdom of the Toltecs, a Mexican tribe of wise and knowledgeable people. These agreements teach us a way to be self-directed and ultimately free. So far, we’ve covered – well, actually, we’ve touched on – the first two agreements – they are: Be impeccable with your word –

teenagers I once taught summed it up for– only say nice things about yourself or others. Don’t take anything personally – not even the nice things others say about you!

And now we focus on Don’t make assumptions. Most of us don’t think we make assumptions. That’s the trouble; assumptions are assumed… they are not usually conscious.So, today, I’m going to share several examples of assumptions with the intention that we will all become alert to finding our own. Then, I’ll tell you a little bit about what to do with them when you find them.


I’ll start with an old joke:

A 70 year old man went to his doctor for a check up and the doctor was amazed at his terrific physical condition. Looking for an explanation in genetics, the doctor said to the man, “how old was your father when he died?”


The man said, “Don’t assume my father is dead. In fact, he’s 90 years old and he still plays golf every day and he walks the course!”


The doctor said, “Well then, how old was your grandfather when he died?” “Don’t assume my grandfather is dead. In fact, he’s 110 and he just got married.” The doctor said, “Why would a man of 110 want to get married.”   “Don’t assume he wanted to get married?”


Not all assumptions are funny. False assumptions occur everywhere, and can even be deadly. I believe this story is a true one.
“The confusion began at 6:18 P.M. Monday, when the woman’s landlord called 911, saying he had found her body in her basement apartment. Two technicians—E.M.S. employees with less training than paramedics—arrived within minutes and pronounced her dead at about 7 P.M. They notified the Medical Examiner’s office, which sent an investigator, a doctor, who assumed the woman was dead because the technicians had said so. The investigator had been in the apartment for more than half an hour when he heard what sounded like a single faint breath.” 
Needless to say, she was alive.  
Now, maybe the doctor should have known better than to assume the technicians’ information was correct, but most false assumptions don’t seem like false assumptions. They seem perfectly logical and reasonable at the time—so logical and reasonable, in fact, that you don’t even realize you’re making an assumption. Which is why it’s so easy for assumptions to create havoc with your good intentions. 


Next is the story of a runaway cat – this is a story told by a friend of mine, Naomi Karten, during a seminar she was presenting to a client company. We were discussing how easy it is to make false assumptions and how they can lead you astray in solving problems. Suddenly, a secretary appeared with a message for Tara, a manager in the group. The message was from Tara’s neighbor who had called to say that Tara’s cat, Panther, had gotten out of the apartment and was running around in the hallway of her building.

“Not again!” Tara exclaimed. She said the cat probably dashed out when her cleaning lady opened the door. I told her this was the first time I’d ever had a class interruption caused by a fleeing feline. Fortunately, Tara lived only a few blocks away from work. Her secretary was most accommodating and, as she’d done in previous runaway-cat episodes, offered to go to the apartment, retrieve the cat,
and return it safely to Tara’s apartment.

Which she did and didn’t. That is, she did go over to the apartment. But she didn’t retrieve the cat and return it. Why? It seems it wasn’t Tara’s cat. She’d met Tara’s cat before, and she knew this wasn’t it.


Tara had made an assumption. She had assumed it was her cat. It sounded like her cat. It was the sort of thing her cat had done before. There was no reason for Tara to question the situation before leaping to conclusions. As a result, the idea of calling her neighbor back and asking a few questions to validate that it was her cat never occurred to her. So she didn’t ask what the cat looked like. She didn’t ask where, exactly, it was found. And she didn’t bother to ask if it responded to “Panther.” The odds were that it was her cat. Except that it wasn’t.


The fact that Tara lived nearby eliminated the need to analyze the situation more carefully. It was easy enough to just check it out. If it had been her cat, the problem would have been quickly resolved. And even though it wasn’t her cat, no one had been seriously inconvenienced.


But what if Tara had lived further away? Or her secretary hadn’t been available? Or as accommodating? Or what if the temperature had been 30 below or raining you know what and dogs? Would any of these conditions have caused Tara to challenge her assumptions, or ask some questions, or avoid allowing strong circumstantial evidence to lead her to a false conclusion? Who knows?


False assumptions can create havoc when you assume that you and others mean the same things by what you each say. In important situations, the safest starting point is to assume that they don’t mean what you think they mean and vice versa — until you’ve asked questions, sought clarification, and offered explanations. That way, you are more likely to identify some of the false assumptions that could interfere with a successful outcome.


The next story is from a couple that does relationship seminars. “We just got back from a very powerful workshop on Spiritual Partnerships with Gary Zukav, author of Seat of the Soul, and his spiritual partner Linda Francis.

The great thing about attending a weekend workshop like this is that you get to learn a lot about yourself and your partner. We got to learn about how making simple assumptions can damage relationships very quickly. Simple assumptions that we make about each other and situations can lead to resentment, distance and emotional separation if left unaddressed.

During our 12 hour drive to the workshop, Susie had an apple as a snack. She asked Otto if he wanted an apple. He looked at the apple and saw only one and assumed that that was the only apple in the food bag. Since he wasn’t hungry in that moment, but knew he would be soon, he mistakenly assumed that Susie was about to have the only apple.

A short time later Otto had tortilla chips for a snack instead of the apple he would have preferred. Now he didn’t resent Susie for eating the “last apple” but he silently wished there was another apple to eat instead of the chips. Susie was unaware of his assumption and desire for an apple, and it wasn’t until the food bag was taken to the room and unpacked that three other apples appeared.

If Otto hadn’t assumed that there was only one apple in the bag, he would have had what he really wanted to eat instead of the chips.

Isn’t this what we often do in relationships?
We silently want our relationships to be more passionate, more connected, more loving but we don’t know how to communicate our needs to our partners, our families or our friends.

We assume what we want isn’t available or isn’t possible, without attempting to make the connection and speak our needs in a way that they can be understood.

Sometimes we know what our needs are but don’t express them because we are fearful what the other will say or how he/she will react. So it’s easier to keep silent.

If we don’t communicate consciously and constantly, we start to make assumptions about how the other will react in a given situation and those assumptions are usually dead wrong.

When we make assumptions, we’re not living in the present moment–we are either in the past or in the future.
I suggest that you not make assumptions about how someone else is feeling or thinking in any relationship–no matter how long you’ve been together and how well you know that person.

We are all constantly growing and changing. If we want to grow together instead of growing apart, the most important thing we can do is to constantly communicate, one moment at a time. Decide to consciously create life the way you want it to be instead of allowing it to happen to you. The apple is there if you want it.
So — How do you Steer Clear of False Assumptions? 
Keep in mind the one assumption you should always make; namely, that you and others don’t understand each other. Assume that others interpret what you say differently from the way you do, and that they mean something different from what you think they mean. Until you’ve gone through a process of information gathering and assumption challenging, it’s wise to assume that even if the words sound familiar, you’re speaking two different languages.  

#2  Don’t minimize the importance of assumption-checking  Become more aware of the fact that you and others (customers, partners, ministers, whoever) are making assumptions. One way to develop this awareness is to ask yourself what these assumptions might be. For example: 
What assumptions are we making about . . . this project we are discussing . . . the intended outcome . . . the schedule . . . our roles . . our constraints . . . our expectations. . . our criteria for success . . . our priorities? 
In most situations, I know I’m probably making an assumption when I hear myself say the words… it happened BECAUSE… and also when I find myself saying I JUST KNOW….


How do you know what you know in life? What’s your criteria for saying something is TRUE? I invite you to question when you say I KNOW it – have you heard yourself say something like – my mother or father told me when I was a child; I read it in the newspaper; or even – Rev. Toni said it last week or in her last book!


You are probably making an assumption when you say I KNOW it’s true…Even if we SEE it with our own eyes–WE INTERPRET – even things we think we are experiencing –can have a different interpretation than the one we give it.


It’s one of the most important Ancient Wisdom – We can’t trust what we SEE to tell us what is real…

Instead of making assumptions – we need to ASK questions.   to find out what the other person’s view on something is.


Don Miguel tells us –   Communicate with others as clearly as you can to avoid misunderstandings, sadness, and drama. Leave no communication in question – — and be especially careful of saying things to a third person like — I wonder what HE meant – do you think she meant this. MAKE NO ASSUMPTIONS – ASK!!! Verify the TRUTH before you act on it and certainly before you spread it through the grapevine. – not just I have it from a reliable source.


From early on we learn to make assumptions

because we think we always have to have an answer

not just ANY answer – but the RIGHT answer!


At this moment, I invite all of us to open up to truly loving one another by giving up two things in life – THE NEED TO BE RIGHT – and the NEED TO BE IN CONTROL — both of those are illusions anyway.

In order not to make assumptions, we have to let go of these very basic needs; that’s why this is so tough.

Did you ever find yourself arguing for something that you don’t even know is true? We all have OPINIONS and we take a stand on them as if they were TRUTH.   When someone says something I disagree with – I truly work to take on the attitude, THAT’S INTERESTING – and REALLY try to hear why they think what they are thinking rather than ASSUMING I know what they are thinking.


Don’t EVER ASSUME you understand another human

being – or know why he or she is doing what they are doing — the TRUTH is we don’t even understand ourselves.


We all have a set code of ethics that we live by –

What’s important to you in life? Your ASSUMPTIONS are based on – what YOU think is important. I guarantee that if you try to do that list for your spouse, your partner, your best friend – you will probably be WRONG most of the time.


We all make assumptions all the time. Nothing wrong with making assumptions – we just ought to know what they are – and be willing to challenge them in order to grow if they aren’t serving us well.


Whenever you get UPSET, behind the UPSET is usually a FEAR – and a NEED TO BE RIGHT and IN CONTROL…

The best way to PRACTICE this agreement is to catch yourself whenever you get angry, annoyed or agitated (whatever word you use!) – and ask yourself – what NEED is active here – the Need to be Right – or to be In control?

Then, stop and ASK what assumptions am I making? What am I taking personally?


Recognize that we only see and hear what we want to see and hear. Our minds don’t like not understanding something, so we make an assumption about the meaning.


We make assumptions all the time about what other people are doing or thinking what we think they should be doing and thinking. Partners, couples, families, friends assume the other knows what we want, They should know me

If he or she loved me , he or she would know what I want without my telling him — and then when things turns out differently we TAKE IT PERSONALLY


“The day we stop making assumptions with our loved ones, our ways of communicating will change completely “ We know we have stopped making assumptions when we have no more conflicts due to assumptions. We stop taking things personally.


By making this one agreement a habit,

our life will be completely transformed.                            

Without making assumptions, our word becomes impeccable.



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Jun 29

Growing into Contemplative Seeing

Dualistic thinking is the well-practiced pattern of knowing most things by comparison. And for some reason, once you compare or label things (that is, “judge” them), you almost always conclude that one is good and the other is less good or even bad. In the first half of life, this provides ego boundaries and clear goals, which creates a nice clean “provisional personality.” But it is not close to the full picture that we call truth.

Dualistic thinking works only for a while to get us started, but if we are honest, it stops being helpful in most real-life situations. It is fine for teenagers to think that there is some moral or “supernatural” superiority to their chosen baseball team, their army, their ethnic group, or even their religion or gender; but one hopes that later in life they learn that such polarity is just an agreed-upon game. Your frame should grow larger as you move toward the Big Picture in which one God creates all and loves all, both Dodgers and Yankees, blacks and whites, Palestinians and Jews, gays and straights, Americans and Afghanis.

Non-dualistic thinking or both-and thinking is the benchmark of our growth into the second half of life. This more calm and contemplative seeing does not appear suddenly, but grows almost unconsciously over many years of conflict, confusion, healing, broadening, loving, and forgiving reality. It emerges gradually as we learn to “incorporate the negative,” learn from what we used to exclude, or, as Jesus put it, “forgive our enemies” both within and without.

You no longer need to divide the field of every moment between up and down, totally right or totally wrong, for or against. It just is what it is. This inner calm allows you to confront what must be confronted with even greater clarity and incisiveness. This stance is not at all passivity. It is, in fact, the essential link between true contemplation and skillful action. The big difference is that your small and petty self is now out of the way, and if God wants to use you or love you, which God always does, God’s chances are far better now!

Adapted from Falling Upward: A Spirituality for the Two Halves of Life,
pp. 146-148

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Oct 31

The 5 Things That Spook People Over 50

What to do about the scary stuff that makes middle-aged spines shiver posted by Donna Sapolin

Forget things that go bump in the night, global warming, Congressional paralysis, creepie crawlies and assault weapons. There are five other worries that make the hearts of middle-aged folks leap into their throats on a regular basis. The good news is it’s totally within our power to chase these evils away — or, at least, diminish their hold on us.

1. Declining memory Sporadic forgetfulness, slower reaction times and other glitches in cognitive processes can result from an aging brain. Some symptoms may point to dementia and Alzheimer’s; others shouldn’t trouble you.

On the bright side, the latest research tells us there are many things we can do to take advantage of the brain’s natural plasticity to reverse the aging process, sharpen our abilities and ward off debilitating brain disease. Examples:

Preserve mental health and acuity by engaging with the arts, particularly dance.
Eat less saturated fat from animal products, which cause the brain to produce beta-amyloid, a protein that contributes to Alzheimer’s. Instead we can consume brain-protecting foods like Vitamin E-rich nuts (about 1.5 ounces or 8 milligrams a day will do), vegetables, beans and a small amount of fruits and whole grains.
Exercise! Walking briskly just three times a week for an hour has been shown to boost the connectivity within brain circuits.
Get a good night’s sleep. A recent study, published in the journal Science, proves that during sleep the brain cleans out the toxic cellular waste products it creates during the day, thereby preventing their build-up. Remain curious, challenge yourself to learn new things and explore things you’re passionate about. By deepening knowledge and skills, we help our brains to thrive.

2. Increased loneliness and isolation Society is now afflicted with a growing isolation epidemic. More adults 50 and older are not only living longer, they’re living apart from family members, divorcing, and becoming separated or widowed. In addition, they begin interacting with fewer people, a fact of midlife.

But people who describe themselves as lonely are at far greater risk of developing dementia and other health problems. It’s vital that we seek out ways to engage with others. Here are some ways to do that:

Make new friends, both young and old. Sign up for classes, get active in social media platforms, hit the gym and join networking groups. Above, all, open your mind and heart to the possibility of fresh connections.
When retiring, think about living close to your friends and family members instead of moving far away, as so many people do.
Rehab your relationship dynamics by following Dr. Terri Orbuch’s (aka “the love doctor”) expert advice on Next Avenue. Overhauling unhealthy habits and participating in therapy sessions may be among life’s more difficult missions, but they can help you secure peace of mind and critical emotional nourishment.
Consider a communal living arrangement — the options are numerous and include co-housing, NORCs (Naturally Occuring Retirement Communities) and living with one or more roommates.
Mentor others. We can derive great satisfaction from passing on our knowledge and, in the process, forge enriching bonds.

(MORE: 9 Most Common Regrets of the Living and Dying — and What to Do About Them)

3. Big debts, little savings The 50+ crowd is facing a perfect storm: the prospect of living on a fixed income at the exact time that government entitlement benefits are at risk of being curtailed and health care needs and costs are soaring.

Many are counting on their ability to continue to work well into older age, yet they will need to sustain good health and secure employment despite the known difficulties of landing a job after the age of 55. Suggestions:

Analyze how much money you will need to retire and still be able to afford the lifestyle you expect. A good online calculator, like the Ballpark E$timate from the Employee Benefit Research Institute, can help.
Work on reducing debts, especially credit card bills, which carry high interest rates.
Prioritize saving. Evaluate all aspects of your lifestyle to see what you can cut back and then apply the ax. This may even mean downsizing your home. You should also contribute as much as possible to 401(k) accounts, reallocate your investments to reduce related fees and build a health care emergency fund.
Hire an astute financial adviser to help you devise a smart plan, which may include delaying Social Security benefits.
To find a job, implement these well-proven strategies: shorten your resumé and incorporate keywords into it, spend more time networking and less time using broad-based job boards and develop a strong, positive online presence.

4. Greater physical frailty and risk of illness The majority of us are carrying extra pounds; many have high blood pressure, diabetes or high cholesterol; and our knees, feet or back may be aching.

There’s no question that the aging process itself leads to increased frailty, but lifestyle behaviors magnify and accelerate health problems. Changing just a few of our habits can go a long way toward enhancing vitality and longevity. Here’s how:

Opt for a Mediterranean diet that emphasizes olive oil, fish, legumes, fruits, vegetables and unrefined grains — and vastly reduce your consumption of sugar and salt.
Try intermittent fasting, which provides enormous health benefits: Eat a Mediterranean diet (about 2,200 to 2,400 calories a day for men; 1,600 to 1,800 per day for women) five days a week and consume only a quarter of your usual calorie intake the other two (non-consecutive) days.
Sit less. Recent studies have shown that sitting more than three hours a day can cut life expectancy by two years even if you exercise regularly during the week. Get up at least a couple of times every hour when working at the computer or watching television and move around. Also, stand up while talking on the phone.
Instead of skipping your workout session because of aches and pains, learn how to adjust common exercises to accommodate your infirmities. To make exercise a priority, schedule your sessions in your calendar and find a workout buddy, which will help keep you motivated.
Reduce stress by practicing meditation, allowing yourself to focus on one task at a time, using relaxation apps and choosing to be happy.

(MORE: 30 Questions to Ask Yourself Before You Die)

5. Death Every day, we get a step closer to “the end.” Although we are living longer than ever, by this point many of us have witnessed the passing of one or more loved ones and the final stage is all the more real and perhaps also scarier to us. To reduce your fear of death:

Take serious inventory: Think about how you would like to spend the second half of your life, what you would like to accomplish and what regrets you would like to resolve. Dr. Lissa Rankin advises that you be “unapologetically you.”
Connect with the most vibrant part of yourself — the child-like spirit that is endlessly curious, appreciates adventure and learning and dives readily into new things. Allow your dreams and passions to ignite you.
Practice forgiveness, which is about remembering and telling your story, confronting and absorbing it fully, refusing to give in to anger and revenge and holding on to your humanity.
Stop fighting your enemies. Anger and hostility and the underlying aspects of ourselves that fuel these emotions hold us captive. They are our worst enemies. We can transform our experiences with adversaries into deep learning experiences by recognizing that they are, in fact, our teachers.
Mend rifts with adult children and parents. Give up the need to be “right” and work on yourself (perhaps with the help of a professional counselor) to avoid repeating the same offenses. This will help you shape a new, healthier dynamic.

Remember, some of the fiends that haunt us are of our own making. But even if they aren’t, we can take action to bust the boogeymen.
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