Last night I watched a documentary on Stephen Hawking, CH CBE FRS FRSA. Stephen is an English theoretical physicist, cosmologist, author of “A Brief History of Time” and Director of Research at the Centre for Theoretical Cosmology within the University of Cambridge. He says, “My goal is simple. It is a complete understanding of the universe, why it is as it is and why it exists at all.”

The most amazing thing in all of this extraordinary filming was his joy of living. Since the age of 20 when he was first diagnosed with amyotrophic lateral sclerosis a motor neuron disease which has progressed over the years—Hawking has had an enormous will to live life to the full.

As a young man he was only given 2 -3 years to live, today he is 71 years old, and although he is almost entirely paralyzed and communicates through a speech generating device; he goes into work every day. He says that because he has had the threat of death hanging over his head almost every day of his life, he wants to live to the fullest he possibly can.

Can you imagine? Having absolutely no control over any bodily function and yet, in his mind he travels further than most of us can conceive possible. He travels to the outer reaches of the universe to find out as much as he can about it and bring it back to us to read about.

I noticed another disabled person at the airport; a young man with no arms or legs sitting in a wheel chair. He operated it with a stick that he kept beside his neck, and occasionally shifted with his mouth to make sure the other end was attached to the right place on the wheel chair. There was no one with him, and an older woman went up to him to make sure he was okay. He was! Sweet isn’t it; people caring for people.

I couldn’t help but wonder how is he going to get on the airplane? And yet he did. Quite easily; he was the first to board the plane, and when I arrived, he was sitting in the seat behind me.

You see, people have extraordinary strengths and capabilities.

And it makes me wonder who is really disabled? Does a body that has lost function make a person disabled, or is it the mind that sinks into depression, upset and anguish? And if people like Stephen Hawking and the young man at the airport can get around and about and still have a good attitude about life—don’t we owe it to ourselves to do the same?

My friend, today make full use of whatever abilities you have. Whether it is your mind or your body, use them to their fullest today. Take your mind into the universe and walk amongst the stars and black holes with Stephen Hawking. Go outside your comfort zone and do something that fulfills your courageous heart. Whether it be to forgive someone, talk to a stranger or do something good for someone—make it a day to overcome your disabilities.

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I took a flight from Chicago to Madison, then a cab from the airport to the hotel. The driver wanted to talk and he asked me, “where are you from?”

“Mississippi!” Which made him laugh because I have a very distinct British accent.

Then he asked me why I was in Madison. “I am teaching a course on Emotional Intelligence to the VA in Madison.” I said.

“Ahh that’s all about how to control emotions.” He said.

“Yes.” I said, “Everything begins with a thought, and our thoughts come from our beliefs. So when we are aware of our beliefs and our thoughts we can change them.” Of course, this is putting an entire days course into a nutshell, and I didn’t expect the conversation to continue much beyond that.

“I went to an anger management class once.” He caught my eye in the rearview mirror and laughed. “I didn’t harm anyone or anything like that. I just had anger issues. I learned something in that class that literally changed my life.”

“What?” I asked.

“I learned that when I respond with anger, I had learned the response years before, probably when I was a kid. And I was just responding that way because I didn’t know any different. The professor teaching the class told me that next time something happened to make me respond with anger that I must stop. Stop and think. And that’s when I realized I didn’t have to respond with anger. It changed my life.”

It seems such a small thing to stop and think, but can you imagine how much pain and suffering would end, if we just to a moment to stop and think before reacting with anger, frustration or impatience? He went on to tell me, “I learned that when someone is angry, they enjoy giving their anger to other people. It’s like this…” he said. “When someone starts a fight and another person responds with anger; that other person is taking on their anger. They are not the ones who started it, but they are the ones who always get in trouble. It’s like taking your power away. So I decided to hold onto my power and not react with anger. I stopped taking it on board.”

It never ceases to amaze me what we can learn from other people. If we will just open our ears and minds and listen. It’s not that I don’t know the information, it’s hearing it from another perspective that reminds me of how disruptive anger can be. How we so easily take on other people’s emotions and make them our own.

My friend, today stop and think. Whenever an emotion threatens to take you over, stop and think. Is this where I want my power to go? Is this how I want to drain my power away and give it to someone else? The answer is no. You do not want to give up your power, or drain it away. Stop and think my friend. Then react with a smile, a laugh, or a joyous piece of encouragement. Go in peace and use your power to uplift your soul and enhance your spirit and thus, your life.

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Source: Reading

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What I love about reading is the joy of peeking into someone’s mind and finding new ideas. For example, Oprah Winfrey in her book, ‘What I know for Sure’ mentions a singer named Snatam Kaur. I was so intrigued by the lovely, strange name that I immediately searched the name on Pandora. Suddenly, my hotel room was filled with simple harmonic progressions. It had an Middle Eastern flavor. But something else…a feeling of peaceful calm.

It is impossible for me to feel sad or have any negative thoughts when music like this is playing. I love the high notes and the harmonious sounds. I looked Snatam Kaur up and found that her full name is Snatam Kaur Khalsa. She is an American singer and songwriter and performs Indian devotional music called kirtana, which is Sanskrit for “praise; eulogy” a call-and-response chanting performed in India’s bhakti devotional traditions. Snatam Kaur tours the world as a peace activist.

Her name Kaur, means princess and is shared by all female Sikhs.

You see?! Isn’t it marvelous to know something new; something that I did not know a moment ago?

A moment ago, I had no knowledge of this singer who tours the world as a peace activist. And now that I do have this new piece of knowledge, and as I listen to her music in the background as I am writing, I believe that my words are being influenced by her music. Peace, praise and devotion. How wonderful. Imagine being a peace activist. Someone who actively encourages peace.

My friend we can be that ourselves. We can actively encourage peace in each moment of our lives. All we have to do is elevate our thoughts. I don’t mean have lofty, highfalutin thoughts; I simply mean thoughts that elevate our minds so that negative thoughts are pushed out. There is no room for anger, upset, anxiety or frustration to grow when the mind is focused on peace. And when you are in the company of songs by such people as Snatam Kaur you will find yourself being filled with peace.

My friend, today be a peace activist for yourself if for no other. Listen to music that calms your soul. Read books that enlighten your spirit. Seek the peace in life. It is there. It never goes away. It is your constant companion—all you have to do is open the door and allow it to flood in. Enjoy the light today and more than that enjoy being a peace activist in your life.

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If your life ended tomorrow, what would you regret not doing? I read this in Oprah Winfrey’s ‘What I Know For Sure.’ I was in a hotel room in Madison Wisconsin. It was almost midnight and I had just downloaded her book onto my Nook. As soon as I read those words I knew what I had to do. I had to complete my book: 365 Days of Dealing With Depression.

I had stopped at 125 days. I was putting them out as a blog called Life Warrior: Combat Moves To Beat Depression and I felt like my work was done. Who cares what I have to say about depression is what I thought. So I had stopped writing.

It’s so funny. When I started my 365 days, I was so filled with joy I could hardly contain myself. I was telling all my family and close friends about it, “I’m writing a daily guide about how to combat depression!” I was so enthusiastic I thought I would just keep going until I had finished. Strange how things can simply peter out and die.

But when I read those words, “If your life ended tomorrow, what would you regret not doing? I knew without hesitation that I would regret not completing this book.

You see, it’s not really about other people reading my words…it’s about me doing what I am supposed to do. I love to write. I mean, I LOVE TO WRITE! I could spend the rest of my life tapping away on a keyboard. And the thing that always stops me is this—what will the readers think? If my friends read what I have written what will they think of me? Will they think I am pompous for talking about depression? I’m not a doctor. I don’t have a degree in psychology. What right have I to write about depression, and how to combat it?

But when I read those words, “If your life ended tomorrow, what would you regret not doing?” All those negative, worried and anxious thoughts simply disappeared. I hope you enjoy my words—of course I do! I hope they bring some solace, peace, calm or equanimity to your mind, body, spirit and soul. Of course I do. But again, it doesn’t really matter my friend. For I am doing what I am supposed to do, and the outcome will not be determined by me. The outcome doesn’t even matter. It is the doing that is all important.

What are you doing today that you are really wanting to be doing? I don’t mean that you have to spend all day doing what you want to do. But some portion of it should be something that you really want to do. Something that you will regret not doing if you don’t do it. A guru once told me, “Spend some part of each day doing what you want to do. It’s no good waiting until you retire to do what you want to do.” He said, “You must begin today.”

My friend, today begin to do the thing that if your life ended tomorrow, you would regret not doing. This, I believe is one of the biggest combat moves to beat depression. The doing of the thing that you most love to do. You know what it is. It is that piece of you that feels so good when you do it. Like me with my writing—I just love to do it. I love the words appearing as I write. I love not knowing what is going to come next. As if the words just show up because I am allowing them. Allow yourself to do. Allow yourself the joy of doing what you love to do. Be it very small, or very large, don’t give up on yourself. I’ll keep going if you will. My friend, today and all your tomorrow’s don’t worry about anything, just do that which you most love to do.

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“There is nothing either good or bad, but thinking makes it so.” William Shakespeare—Hamlet. Shakespeare wrote this in 1599 and it’s as true today as it was then. Our thoughts create the world we live in. Our thinking makes us believe things are good or bad—but there is nothing good or bad, but thinking makes it so. Yes, I can hear you say, a murderer is bad and that’s not just thinking it. But if you believe in Jesus for example, even a murder is forgiven.

Sometimes in class I say to the group, “Put your hands up if you’ve ever done a silly thing?” They always laugh and put their hands up. Then I say, “Keep your hands up if you’ve done, idiotic things?” Again some laughter and the hands keep up. “Keep your hands up if you’ve done things you would never want anyone to know about?” More laughter and most hands raised. Why? Because we’ve all done things we’re ashamed of and that we don’t want anyone to know about. Does that make them good or bad—no—they are only good or bad if we think they are.

Now I am not advocating that we be psychopaths and have no knowledge of doing harm unto others. Nor am I saying that it’s okay to do harmful things to ourselves. What I am talking about is having the thought that who we are, and what we have become is a bad thing, or a good thing. What about if we stop having judgments about ourselves in a negative way? What if it just is? We did something, now we regret it, but now we are moving on.

What if we are living in a way that we did not anticipate? Maybe divorce, death or illness has gotten in the way of living the life you dreamed of. Does that mean that the event that happened has to formulate the rest of your life? No. Not at all. Whatever happened is done and gone. It is over. It is finished. What was is no longer. What is now is becoming. Become who you want to be.

Do you want to save money? Then begin. A dollar a week will soon become $52. And once you have the mindset of saving money, you will see other ways to save.

When Jeff and I were going through financial hardship, we stopped spending. We didn’t have anything to spend. And when we needed clothes, we went to Goodwill. And for food we shopped at Aldi’s—a great way to stop paying with a credit card, because they only take cash.

If you have been through a bad relationship; stop harkening on the bad aspects and open your heart to new possibilities. There are so many ways to meet people these days. The internet, church, the gym, work!
If you let the past infringe on the future, you will constantly be living in a state of disruption, hurt and upset. When is enough enough? When is it time to stop thinking it’s good or bad? This bit was good, this bit was bad…what if it just is. This is what happened—it’s done now—it’s over.

I had a lady in a class recently who had gotten divorced 18 months ago. She was still upset. “Every time I write a check for the insurance I get so mad—it was the only payment he had to take care of, and he can’t even do that!”

Isn’t she better off without him? You would think so, but in fact he is still in her life causing upset and harm. But who is allowing him to be there? She is. Hey, I haven’t gone through a divorce but I have heard it’s one of the most awful things for a person to go through. But how long do we keep feeding the hurt?

My friend, today let’s give it up. Let our thinking uplift our lives and elevate our spirits. Let’s renew our thoughts with loving aspects of life. I know there is a lot of talk about how ‘positive thinking’ will not stop depression. That may be true. But will ‘negative thinking’ create a happier life? I think not. “There is nothing either good or bad, but thinking makes it so.” What are you thinking? You have the power to think about smiling, being kind, considerate and maybe singing in the shower. Your thoughts, your choice, your life—let’s choose to always look on the bright side of life.

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Do you believe in karma? It’s the idea of doing something, and that something being done back to you. It might not be the exact same thing….but something similar. For example, being kind to a stranger, in terms of karma, may bring kindness back to you. Or being unforgiving may come back to you when someone you love doesn’t forgive you. Karma is either good or bad, and of course we all want good karma.

There are even certain modes of thinking that say, ‘karma comes back over lifetimes.’ And in my mind it doesn’t really matter, because what matters is what we are doing right now. Right now in this moment. Forget the past, it’s gone and there is very little you can do about it. Yes you can redeem yourself in some way, but for the most part the past is gone. Done and buried. But the moment, this moment, this very moment right now, well that is a whole different story. Because in this moment you are determining the rest of your life. In this moment you get to choose how you want to be. Do you want to be kind, patient and fun to be around? Or do you choose to be depressed, grumpy and no fun to be around?

Your karma is right now. You may have to pay for past mistakes. If you haven’t handled your money very well, as I haven’t then you will have to pay for that mistake. You will have to get your money in order. And that is the karma of the moment. It is no good doing something that has caused you grief and doing it in a grumpy fashion…that is just prolonging the situation. Work on sorting yourself out in the best way possible. Which means my friend, having an attitude of faith, hope and love.

Faith that it will work out in the end—which it will. Hope that you will not fall into the same trap again—which with diligence, awareness and acceptance—you will not, and love. Love of yourself and others. When you open your heart to loving yourself and others, you are destroying bad karma in one swift stroke. Love conquers all my friend…it truly does.

Today my friend think good thoughts so that your attitude is an uplifting one. One that will uplift your spirits. Have hope; the power of choosing to do or not do things is in your hands so choose wisely. And love. In the bible there are two places to come from; fear and love. Fear keeps the idea of bad karma going and going. Love however, keeps the idea of beneficence and goodness alive in the hearts of every person across the planet. So go with love and feel love come back to you as love always does.

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