Oct 032013
 

Blasphemy Incorporated

All opinions expressed herein by the author are offered without undue depths of rancor, malice, irony, or satire; only reasonably-balanced depths are intended. I name names and offer opinions but, any errors of fact are unintentional and sincerely regretted.

Rubber Ducky Jesus Nativity

Today, I received several items in the mail, including a magazine subscription offer and a specialty mail order catalog. Both traded on themes of religion — especially Christianity. You have to believe that neither company felt any need of remorse for their marketing choices. At first I was tempted to simply discard the pieces as simple junk mail. However, considered together, they gave me cause to think about the nature of commercialism, American values, and blasphemy.

The first item was an advertisement for “sinful savings” on subscriptions to Free Inquiry magazine (oriented toward the scientific examination of religion). I have a reputation for thinking (and writing) about such controversial subjects and wasn’t surprised to be targeted by their mailing list. The envelop featured red blood splatters and the message, “Blasphemous! Look inside at your own eternal peril.” They enclosed a “Special Introductory Offer – For Blasphemers Only.” Also, “Your salvation isn’t guaranteed… but your satisfaction with Free Inquiry is!” Their come-on letter starts, “Dear Intelligent Reader, You and I are under attack by religious fanatics who want to control what we read, how we think, and what our kids are taught in school. That’s why they use words like blasphemous, godless, and sacrilegious when bright, free-thinking people ask questions that challenge their superstitious beliefs. These are words meant to inspire fear and intimidate the weak-minded into submission.”

All of this seems like outright inflammatory sensationalism used for commercial advantage. These words, in this context, are also meant to shock, inspire fear, attract gratuitous attention, and sell magazines. I actually admire the effective use of language to motivate appropriately. I admire the insights of Frank Luntz, a Republican Party Strategist and wordsmith, in how to use words and re-frame arguments to push people’s emotional buttons. I just don’t buy his double-think inventions and arguments. And, I just won’t buy what might actually be an interesting magazine when it is promoted in this way.

However, the magazine advertisement also enclosed a note from Richard Dawkins (a renowned evolutionary biologist and outspoken atheist) saying, ”If there were a God, I’m convinced He would want you to read Free Inquiry,” adding, “He would be committed to the application of reason and encourage scientific discovery and the cultivation of moral excellence. He would want us to be more concerned about living a valuable life than enforcing arbitrary rules to avoid a vindictive punishment in an afterlife.”

Richard Dawkins also pushes some emotional buttons: reason, discovery, moral excellence, valuable life, and vindictive punishment. But, did you notice how positive, reserved, and respectful he was in framing his note? “God” and “He” are appropriately capitalized as honored divinities. Dawkins appeals to cultivating moral excellence and living a valuable life. You got a problem with that? I don’t. You got a problem with exposing religious hypocrites and moral corruption? Jesus didn’t. Still, I don’t think Jesus would have subscribed to Free Inquiry. I imagine that He might have given permission to be quoted, but not felt motivated by their advertising.

My wife, Dianna, is a retired elementary school teacher and still receives catalogs from the “Oriental Trading Company.” This issue featured “fun and faith” items with the exhortation, “share the spirit.” It contained a mix of holiday spirit and (evidently by allusion), Holy Spirit” trinkets, gifts, activity packs, as well as carnival and fund-raising prizes. They obviously expected to sell profitably to those wanting to promote and commemorate religious holidays and classically-fundamentalist Christian themes. I’m sure that if they anticipated that any of their items would be easily considered blasphemous, they would not advertise, stock, and sell so many.

First, let me point out that I am a self-acknowledged cranky old curmudgeon and some of you will think that I’m being overly-critical. And, any issue, taken by itself, may be easily-excused. But, the catalog collection, taken together, represents a popular disregard of appropriateness and dignity among self-professed spiritual and faithful people.

The catalog cover features three young children, singing hymns in “angel costumes,” complete with cheap white polyester gowns, battery-operated candles, and white “feather and marabou wings.” It is not entirely clear if real African Marabou Storks are “harvested” to produce these authentic-looking wings. That would be a whole other animal conservation ethics issue. Also, I want to suggest that it would be a mistake to dress your little cherubs in polyester and then substitute authentic candles, flickering with actual fire.

The vendor evidently also dyes marabou wings red to produce similar “Cupid wings.” The ad reads: “Put on these feather and marabou wings and find true love as a matchmaking Cupid or use them for an angel costume on Halloween!” We have discovered an unholy amalgam of child-angels in heaven, Cupid, the Roman god of erotic love, and the likely improvisation of a sexy fetish costume. It doesn’t seem to matter to anyone but me. And, I’m not too fond of Halloween as a festival-for-the-dead with little beggars dressed as angels, devils, zombies, pirates, and hookers.

Speaking of little angels, my wife’s older brother died in tonsil surgery when he was seven. Her mother’s pastor explained that God called her boy to be a little angel in heaven and that a bouquet also needs buds to be pretty and complete. Her mother evidently believed this literally and repeated it often in defense of the comfort that she claimed it brought her. Nonetheless, she never escaped the obvious trauma and bitter desolation of her loss. She became an alcoholic and chain smoker and died prematurely of lung cancer. Don’t try to tell me that God harvests little angels from our families.

And, when did “Christ our Savior” start getting mixed up with a jolly old elf sliding down chimneys, evergreen trees, snow men, and other such nonsense? You can buy color-your-own Christmas nativity stockings; gingerbread, rubber ducky, and gnome nativity sets; nativity bingo and playing cards; “Happy Birthday Jesus” balloons, party hats, beach balls, kaleidoscopes, slide puzzles, novelty assortments and ornaments; “Jingle for Jesus” bell bracelets; nativity crosses (just a slight anachronism); plus “Jesus Loves You” and “Caleb the Camel” Christmas tree ornaments.

There is more. You can buy golden crown and “Jesus is My Rock” stress squeeze toys; “King of King” tattoos (hardly in the spirit of Leviticus 19:28 or Deuteronomy 14:1), favor boxes and treat bags; “Joy to the World” paddle balls; “Joyful in Jesus” candy canes, Bible verse fortune cookies, and “Testamints(tm)” breath-freshening candy; “Share His Light and Love” and “Jesus Loves You Snow Much” snowmen; “Jesus Lights the Way” flashing bouncy balls, “Bible Bucks” play money, and “Pick Jesus” guitar picks; as well as rainbow faith bears, “Our Wise Lord” owls, “Jesus is Deer to Me” reindeer and “Wild About Jesus” safari animals.

You will definitely want to proudly display your own Celtic Cross Bible cover (incorporating a pagan solar nimbus). What can I say? It appears that non-believers do not have the corner on impiety. A mix of ignorance, indifference, conceptual hybridization, and crass commercial blasphemy are popular (and big business) among religious “fun”damentalists these days.

All the time, I run across people who want to tell me that they know what the truth is — that they are in charge of explaining what (their version of) God wants everyone to believe and do. I can spot them right away; I used to be that kind of faith-and-fellowship true-believer. Now, I can’t imagine what makes them better than any other tribe of mere mortals with similar convictions. I am appalled, not persuaded, by the arrogance, presumption, and hypocrisy of their blasphemy.

Jul 112012
 

It should not be surprising, in our scientific, technological world, that faith has been subjected to empirical studies and analysis. Hold onto your hat: it turns out that both people and communities of faith develop through a predictable series of stages… or find a comfortable level and stay there.

James W. Fowler, a minister in the United Methodist Church, wrote “Stages of Faith” in 1981 while a professor of Theology and Human Development at Emory University. Additional research has followed. Here is a summary of the results.

Preschool children often confuse fantasy and reality. Their mix of ideas are picked-up, but not fully-developed, from those around them. They may believe in God and the Tooth Fairy, but already know that the guy at the mall is not really Santa.

School-age children begin to use logic and take things very literally. They may strongly and stubbornly hold onto ideas that come from trusted authorities. Their parents may still be insisting on the details of Santa’s visit to every home on Christmas eve.

Teenagers become aware of multiple, conflicting belief systems, but often associate strongly with a single institution and its doctrine. These staunch believers tend to “double-down” against any challenge to the anchors of their faith. They are easily persuaded that exposure to other ideas is dangerous so that they are determined to remain isolated within their community of support.

In young adulthood, with continued exposure to other peoples and their beliefs, some begin a period of critical re-examination of the elements of their faith. They may become disillusioned with their former community and move forward to independently search for a new foundation. Paradoxically, this progressive movement is often criticized as “backsliding.” Many men, especially, become “spiritual but not religious” and stop worshiping in a church.

In mid-life, it sometimes occurs to people that much about life is conflicting, unknown, or even unknowable. Neither faith nor logic fully satisfy. Much has to be taken, at any given time, as a paradox or mystery. Sacred stories and symbols may be a comfort, but not a foundation. Their spirituality may merge with their intent to “live a good life.”

A few older folks reach a point where they feel that life and gratitude, day by day, is sufficient blessing. There is no need to agonize over doubts, carry guilt from past mistakes, or dread what may happen in the next year, or the next moment. These folks may open themselves, within their remaining capacities, to take full satisfaction in the love of, and service to, others. These people may still embrace the formal worship of a specific divinity, but their capacity to love is no longer dependent on any given doctrine.

No developmental stage that serves the needs of the individual and their community is necessarily bad. Still, increasing tolerance always accompanies increasing spiritual development.

© 2012, David Satterlee

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Mar 022012
 

I found this posted on the information board at my US Post Office in Dayton, Iowa, 50530 on March 2, 2012. There were also three modified cartoons referring to President Obama, fried chicken, watermelon, and black salami. I thought that the cartoons were inappropriate and offensive to public decency; I removed them.

The threat letter seemed more personal, so I added my answer and left it there. I will transcribe the notes for your convenience.

The original message was: “What do you call 20,000 liberals in the bottom of the ocean? A good start. Liberalism is a mental disorder”

My answer reads: “Please, don’t just threaten me with drowning and post anonymous racist hate cartoons against our elected President in a US Post Office. Make your case, explain your issues, and give practical ideas for improvement… and please have the courage to sign your name. With sincere best wishes, Your neighbor, David Satterlee”

Frankly, I worry that the threat could get personal. It may already be personal: I’ve had an Obama 2012 poster in my front window for weeks.

Having lived in this small rural town for only two years, I’m still a bit of an outsider. I’ve improved the old 1880s workman’s Victorian that we bought and joined the Lion’s Club until my social anxieties got too severe. I smile and speak kindly at every opportunity, and wrote a series of positive local feature articles for the Dayton Review until I had a stroke last year.

The editor of the Dayton Review has encouraged me to begin submitting an opinion column, which I can write from home without running all over to take interview notes. I plan to feature liberal ideas explained in terms and values that conservatives claim as their exclusive own.

It occurs to me that my openness may fan the flames among those who are prone to reflexive hate. I could just hide in the shadows, cringing and hoping that no one will notice me or be mean to me. But, I am aware of the courage of those great souls who spoke out to end slavery, gain the vote for women, oppose the baron kings and their trusts, and march for civil rights.

As a child in school, I was raised in a particularly rigid, conservative, Christian faith. I remember how it was to be the object of hate, bullying, and abuse. I learned to run fast. No more. I’m going to stand fast. Bullies should be faced down. I’m tired of this shit and I’m not going to take it any more.

I’ve spent decades trying to figure out all the things I didn’t learn as a closed-minded conservative. I started with all the self-improvement and pop psychology books. I graduated to social psychology, Eastern religions, and theories of human development. These past four years, I’ve concentrated on figuring out the difference between Republicans and Democrats. I came out of the process as a generally-tolerant, love-thy-neighbor, but still-evangelical liberal. But, I still can’t feel good about hate, disrespect, and bullying.

‘nuf said.

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Sep 262010
 

Self Improvement – Doing Business from Home

It just took over the house

In the Oct/Nov ’92 issue of Sunshine Horizons, Beverly Lewis tells about “one couple so committed to this business they’ve literally turned their entire house into a miniature university. As I walked through their kitchen during a visit one day, I saw a Nature’s Spring on the counter. The kitchen table was loaded with company products and literature. Each of the rooms was filled with educational books and other related paraphernalia. After touring their home and noticing no bedroom, I couldn’t help ask them where they sleep! Their level of enthusiasm amazes me, and it’s just one example. There are thousands of others.”

Each person must decide how they want to deal with this problem as it happens. You can set firm limits, throttle the business to keep it from growing further, move, build on to add room or open a store. Your choice should meet your needs for room, privacy, location and potential for further expansion.

“Blessed is he who has found his work. Let him ask no other blessing.”
-Thomas Carlyle

“Be careful what you ask for, you might get it.”
-Mr. Spock

There’s just nowhere to hide

Sometimes you just need to wash dishes or read a book. If your business is in your house, people will drop by at unpredictable times. When the business is small that might not be such a problem. In fact, being available to care and share at odd hours may be a service that distinguishes you from less-popular competitors.

Setting (and enforcing) business hours

One way to manage the demands on your time is to post the hours that you are open and then stick to them. It’s not always easy to be firm when a friend with a need (but poor planning skills) knows that you must be in there somewhere.

It’s usually not that bad. Most people will respect your need to have an orderly life with some time set aside for sleep or whimpering in a corner.

Less TV, more real life

Soap operas, reruns and especially the hot new shows can sap your time and attention. Sure, TV can be entertaining but building a new business can be a lot more fun. Instead of watching other people do things and listening to other people laugh, you can enjoy the real thing.

“This time, like all times, is a very good one, if we but know what to do with it.
-Emerson

“Television watching takes up more time than any other activity our society engages in.” -Scientific Australian

“The whole day stretches before us with unlimited opportunity! And what better way to appreciate that opportunity than by squandering it watching cartoons all day!”
-Calvin, Weirdos from Another Planet, Bill Watterson

Bottles behind the bushes

As much as you would like to spend all your time waiting for people to show up and pick up their products, there ARE some other things that need to be done from time to time.

I solved the problem by telling customers how much their check should be and then leaving their products, invoice and an envelope in a dry spot on the porch. They picked up their herbs, put the check in the envelope and shoved it through a crack in the garage door. It worked like a charm. One loyal customer is a real estate agent who can’t spare the time during the day and likes to drop by after 10:30 p.m. Bottles behind the bushes makes us both very happy; she gets her herbs and I get my sleep.

Don’t forget the family

Take time to be with your family. A new business can be demanding but it doesn’t deserve your total attention. You probably started the business to help your family with their health or finances. Trading your income for your time, attention and love makes a lousy exchange.

Be kind to your family. Don’t let your anxiety or frustrations with business matters splatter all over your spouse and children; you will need their support and good will at times like these.

When you set a goal, take the wishes and circumstances of your family into consideration. Don’t leave them behind. In fact it’s a good idea to involve your family in planning and decision making. They will often think of things that you would have overlooked. Their input can be invaluable.

Your family may even enjoy participating in the business. Because “opposites attract” it’s likely that your spouse has qualities that will complement yours. Split up the responsibilities in a way that makes the best use of your individual talents. Very few people have achieved business success without the support of their family.

When you outgrow the house

After a while, the business may be just too big to keep on running from the house. My sponsors kept on cannibalizing their home until they had to move out and buy the house next door to live in. I live in a sub-division with deed restrictions. Once I moved all the herbs to a store, I could finally relax about being turned in by neighbors. Actually, zoning ordinances can be a blessing in disguise. A past “Manager of the Year” team admits that they took a leap of faith and opened a store even though they weren’t ready to move financially. Once all their eggs were in one basket, they just had to succeed.

About the time you have developed 5-10 managers, you will be faced with a decision about your retail sales. Do you deliberately cut back and send people to your successline or do you make a separate place for the business? This is a very individual question and no other person’s decision will be exactly right for you. How does your approach to business fit with your house? Do you prefer giving home demonstrations? Do you need more privacy, more room or a better location? This is one of those major forks in the road. Meditate carefully on your choice; it can have permanent effects.

Copyright 1996, 2010, David Satterlee

Creative Commons License This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 3.0 Unported License, which essentially says that you are free to share the work under the conditions that you attribute it fully, do not use it for commercial purposes, and do not alter it.

Sep 252010
 

Self Improvement – Coping with Fear, Risk, and Crisis

The people keep you going

Most of us are in this business because we respect natural health. Mental health is a key part of our overall (natural) health. A well-recognized sign of strong mental health is creative service to others and freedom from selfishness. Such selfless service supplies a sense of calm satisfaction which further reinforces health. This positive cycle just keeps on going.

“It was never pushing this business that got us where we are today – it was helping others,” says Marge. “We don’t set goals; we help people. It’s the people, including our wonderful Managers, that make you successful. You couldn’t be in this business if you didn’t give from the heart. The only thing that keeps you going is the people.”

“The power of man’s virtue should not be measured by his special efforts, but by his ordinary doings.”
-Blaise Pascal

Handling rejection

“You are a quack and a crook. You are unworthy of my attention. I’m not interested and I want you to go away.” Yikes! What a nasty thing to read! Are you OK? Take a moment, if you need, to put yourself back together. The rest of this page will help.

When you take your emotions and convictions public, you face some pretty personal assaults. Be prepared for this by having full faith in the value of your message. Then if (no, when) someone disrespects that message, you can bounce back. You can “shake the dust off your sandals” and move on.

Actually, rejection is no big deal. We expect a certain percentage of people to be so locked into their own ruts that they just can’t see out. Your message may represent a threat to their precious, comfortable rut. They would have to change if they took you seriously. On the bright side, maybe you gave them something to think about and their attitude will soften. It has happened. Then, when they come back seeking you out, your joy is doubled. Rejection is simply the way you know that it’s time to move on. You will find so many kind and appreciative people that you will not even worry about those who are ignorant or rude. As you keep on, your pleasure and satisfaction keeps on growing and growing.

“Every great movement must experience three stages: ridicule, discussion, adoption.”
-John Stuart Mill

Overcoming fear

What frightens you? Disapproval? Failure? Fear is death. You can take your death by fear all at once or in little bits. You have heard of people who have been so afraid of a shadow that they brought on a heart attack. Could they have had more mental control?

Fear leads to both inaction and indecisive action and both can kill. Texas roads are littered with dead armadillos and squirrels. Armadillos will stop still in the road. Squirrels will dash madly back and forth, unable to decide which way to run. I have known people who give in to their fear, bit by bit, until they are unwilling to leave their houses. I have known others who dash from one get-rich idea to another without pursuing one long enough to benefit from their efforts. Could they have had more mental control?

A key to overcoming fear is to want something strong enough that you are finally willing to plunge ahead despite your fears. Once you decide to act, you can redirect the energy of your fear into unexpectedly decisive action.

“Has fear ever held a man back from anything he really wanted, or a woman either?”
-George Bernard Shaw

“Courage is not the absence of fear, but rather the judgment that something else is more important than fear.”
-Ambrose Redmoon

“Let me not pray to be sheltered from dangers but to be fearless in facing them. Let me not beg for the stilling of my pain but for the heart to conquer it.”
-Tagore

“His flight was madness: when our actions do not, Our fears do make us traitors.”
-Shakespeare, Macbeth

“I believe that anyone can conquer fear by doing the things he fears to do …”
-Eleanor Roosevelt

“Fear always springs from ignorance.”
-Ralph Waldo Emerson

“Nothing is terrible except fear itself.”
-Francis Bacon

“We have nothing to fear except fear itself.”
-Winston Churchill

If your friends and family don’t understand

It can be discouraging if your friends don’t understand why you are “doing this strange herb thing.” You have a choice. You can fearfully give in to their ignorance or you can boldly persist in educating them.

For many years, I just deep down solid didn’t get it. My wife would try to tell me about herbs but it didn’t make sense so it irritated me. I wouldn’t eat anything that was “good for you” and I certainly wouldn’t take any capsules! Eventually it began to make sense and I changed. Give it some time.

“Keep away from people who try to belittle your ambitions. Small people always do that, but the really great make you feel that you, too, can become great.”
-Mark Twain

“Don’t listen to friends when the Friend inside you says ‘Do this.'”
-Gandhi

Risk = Commitment (Burning your bridges)

Have you heard the story of the explorer who burned his boats upon reaching the far land? His troops then had no option but to stay. They were irrevocably committed.

I operated my network business part-time for years and never grew much beyond the minimum sales required to stay a manager. When I gave notice to my employer, however, there was no turning back and I REALLY paid attention to product sales and recruiting. When I put more at risk, I generated commitment.

“I have learned this at least by my experiment: that if one advances confidently in the direction of his dreams, and endeavors to live the life which he has imagined, he will meet with a success unexpected in common hours.”
-Henry David Thoreau

“There are costs and risks to a program of action, but they are far less than the long range risks and costs of comfortable inaction.”
-John F. Kennedy

“Only those who risk going too far can possibly find out how far one can go.”
-T. S. Eliot

Crisis time: excuse or challenge?

The Chinese pictogram for “crisis” is composed of the symbols for “danger” and “opportunity.” People tend to resist change but when a crisis strikes, change forces itself on you. Your only choice is how to react.

A crisis can be your excuse for feeling sorry for yourself and quitting. Maybe a natural disaster wiped out your home and business. Now what do you do? You could lose heart and quit. The other option is to simply start over and rebuild with what you have left. You may not have much but you still have your experience. You can be determined to do an even better job this time. When the universe hands you an opportunity, take it.

“Prosperity doth best discover vice, but adversity doth best discover virtue.”

“A man must make his opportunity, as oft as find it.”

“A wise man will make more opportunity than he finds.”

“Chiefly the mould of a man’s fortune is in his own hands.”
-Francis Bacon

Failure

You shouldn’t agonize over your failures but you should dwell on them. Think about what happened and why it went wrong. When you understand why you failed, you free yourself to try again.

History is full of inspiring stories of those who failed repeatedly but kept on trying again until they were successful beyond any expectation. I always think of Thomas Edison trying thousands of materials for the filament for his new electric light bulb. Although people seem altogether too happy to remind you of your failures, I really believe that some failures are evidence that you are out there doing something. Just don’t keep making the same mistakes.

“You only fail when you fail to try,” according to Dr. Daniel Litchford, who was the motivational speaker at a New Managers’ Convention. He taught: “I’m not judged by the number of times I fail, but by the number of times I succeed. And the number of times I succeed is in direct proportion to the number of times I fail and keep trying.”

“There is nothing left to you at this moment but to have a good laugh.”
-Anonymous Zen master

When you do wrong

Does it seem today that business ethics favors the sharp operator and that no one notices or punishes all the little dishonesties that people commit all the time? Don’t believe it. When we act from bad motives, it catches up to us. When we are greedy, selfish and covetous, the stream of good that was refreshing us seems to dry up.

A manager from California, urges others: “Don’t do anything you know is wrong or later you will feel sorry and it will affect your energy, your business. If you make mistakes, don’t let them get you down; keep trying and you will do very well!”

When you do wrong, the best course is to turn it around as quickly as you can. Admit the wrong, ask forgiveness, repay or repair the damage that you have done, forgive yourself and move on.

“How pleasant it is, at the end of the day, No follies to have to repent; But reflect on the past, and be able to say, That my time has been properly spent.”
-Jane Taylor, Rhymes for the Nursery. The Way to be Happy.

If you say it, you have to do it

Isn’t it funny? You can convince yourself that you want to do something but still put it off indefinitely. As long as you keep the goal private, it’s just too easy to procrastinate.

The cure is to make your goal public; then you have to follow through or else “lose face.” Once you have made a public commitment, you feel a real obligation to begin and then keep on keeping your promise.

You might use this technique to strengthen your commitment to lose 15 pounds or to send out a monthly newsletter. When people ask you how much weight you’ve lost or want to know when they’ll receive your next newsletter, you will be more likely to get back to work in order to meet their expectations.

The hardest part of any task is getting off to a good start. Once you actually get started, it’s easier to keep going.

“The beginning is the most important part of the work.”
-Plato

Copyright 1996, 2010, David Satterlee

Creative Commons License This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 3.0 Unported License, which essentially says that you are free to share the work under the conditions that you attribute it fully, do not use it for commercial purposes, and do not alter it.

Sep 242010
 

Self Improvement – Coping with Fear, Risk, and Crisis

The people keep you going

Most of us are in this business because we respect natural health. Mental health is a key part of our overall (natural) health. A well-recognized sign of strong mental health is creative service to others and freedom from selfishness. Such selfless service supplies a sense of calm satisfaction which further reinforces health. This positive cycle just keeps on going.

"It was never pushing this business that got us where we are today – it was helping others," says Marge. "We don’t set goals; we help people. It’s the people, including our wonderful Managers, that make you successful. You couldn’t be in this business if you didn’t give from the heart. The only thing that keeps you going is the people."

"The power of man’s virtue should not be measured by his special efforts, but by his ordinary doings."
-Blaise Pascal 

Handling rejection

"You are a quack and a crook. You are unworthy of my attention. I’m not interested and I want you to go away." Yikes! What a nasty thing to read! Are you OK? Take a moment, if you need, to put yourself back together. The rest of this page will help.

When you take your emotions and convictions public, you face some pretty personal assaults. Be prepared for this by having full faith in the value of your message. Then if (no, when) someone disrespects that message, you can bounce back. You can "shake the dust off your sandals" and move on.

Actually, rejection is no big deal. We expect a certain percentage of people to be so locked into their own ruts that they just can’t see out. Your message may represent a threat to their precious, comfortable rut. They would have to change if they took you seriously. On the bright side, maybe you gave them something to think about and their attitude will soften. It has happened. Then, when they come back seeking you out, your joy is doubled. Rejection is simply the way you know that it’s time to move on. You will find so many kind and appreciative people that you will not even worry about those who are ignorant or rude. As you keep on, your pleasure and satisfaction keeps on growing and growing.

"Every great movement must experience three stages: ridicule, discussion, adoption."
-John Stuart Mill 

Overcoming fear

What frightens you? Disapproval? Failure? Fear is death. You can take your death by fear all at once or in little bits. You have heard of people who have been so afraid of a shadow that they brought on a heart attack. Could they have had more mental control?

Fear leads to both inaction and indecisive action and both can kill. Texas roads are littered with dead armadillos and squirrels. Armadillos will stop still in the road. Squirrels will dash madly back and forth, unable to decide which way to run. I have known people who give in to their fear, bit by bit, until they are unwilling to leave their houses. I have known others who dash from one get-rich idea to another without pursuing one long enough to benefit from their efforts. Could they have had more mental control?

A key to overcoming fear is to want something strong enough that you are finally willing to plunge ahead despite your fears. Once you decide to act, you can redirect the energy of your fear into unexpectedly decisive action.

"Has fear ever held a man back from anything he really wanted, or a woman either?"
-George Bernard Shaw

"Courage is not the absence of fear, but rather the judgment that something else is more important than fear."
-Ambrose Redmoon

"Let me not pray to be sheltered from dangers but to be fearless in facing them. Let me not beg for the stilling of my pain but for the heart to conquer it."
-Tagore

"His flight was madness: when our actions do not, Our fears do make us traitors."
-Shakespeare, Macbeth

"I believe that anyone can conquer fear by doing the things he fears to do …"
-Eleanor Roosevelt

"Fear always springs from ignorance."
-Ralph Waldo Emerson

"Nothing is terrible except fear itself."
-Francis Bacon

"We have nothing to fear except fear itself."
-Winston Churchill

If your friends and family don’t understand

It can be discouraging if your friends don’t understand why you are "doing this strange herb thing." You have a choice. You can fearfully give in to their ignorance or you can boldly persist in educating them.

For many years, I just deep down solid didn’t get it. My wife would try to tell me about herbs but it didn’t make sense so it irritated me. I wouldn’t eat anything that was "good for you" and I certainly wouldn’t take any capsules! Eventually it began to make sense and I changed. Give it some time.

"Keep away from people who try to belittle your ambitions. Small people always do that, but the really great make you feel that you, too, can become great."
-Mark Twain

"Don’t listen to friends when the Friend inside you says ‘Do this.’"
-Gandhi

Risk = Commitment (Burning your bridges)

Have you heard the story of the explorer who burned his boats upon reaching the far land? His troops then had no option but to stay. They were irrevocably committed.

I operated my network business part-time for years and never grew much beyond the minimum sales required to stay a manager. When I gave notice to my employer, however, there was no turning back and I REALLY paid attention to product sales and recruiting. When I put more at risk, I generated commitment.

"I have learned this at least by my experiment: that if one advances confidently in the direction of his dreams, and endeavors to live the life which he has imagined, he will meet with a success unexpected in common hours."
-Henry David Thoreau

"There are costs and risks to a program of action, but they are far less than the long range risks and costs of comfortable inaction."
-John F. Kennedy

"Only those who risk going too far can possibly find out how far one can go."
-T. S. Eliot

Crisis time: excuse or challenge?

The Chinese pictogram for "crisis" is composed of the symbols for "danger" and "opportunity." People tend to resist change but when a crisis strikes, change forces itself on you. Your only choice is how to react.

A crisis can be your excuse for feeling sorry for yourself and quitting. Maybe a natural disaster wiped out your home and business. Now what do you do? You could lose heart and quit. The other option is to simply start over and rebuild with what you have left. You may not have much but you still have your experience. You can be determined to do an even better job this time. When the universe hands you an opportunity, take it.

"Prosperity doth best discover vice, but adversity doth best discover virtue."

"A man must make his opportunity, as oft as find it."

"A wise man will make more opportunity than he finds."

"Chiefly the mould of a man’s fortune is in his own hands."
-Francis Bacon

Failure

You shouldn’t agonize over your failures but you should dwell on them. Think about what happened and why it went wrong. When you understand why you failed, you free yourself to try again.

History is full of inspiring stories of those who failed repeatedly but kept on trying again until they were successful beyond any expectation. I always think of Thomas Edison trying thousands of materials for the filament for his new electric light bulb. Although people seem altogether too happy to remind you of your failures, I really believe that some failures are evidence that you are out there doing something. Just don’t keep making the same mistakes.

"You only fail when you fail to try," according to Dr. Daniel Litchford, who was the motivational speaker at a New Managers’ Convention. He taught: "I’m not judged by the number of times I fail, but by the number of times I succeed. And the number of times I succeed is in direct proportion to the number of times I fail and keep trying."

"There is nothing left to you at this moment but to have a good laugh."
-Anonymous Zen master

When you do wrong

Does it seem today that business ethics favors the sharp operator and that no one notices or punishes all the little dishonesties that people commit all the time? Don’t believe it. When we act from bad motives, it catches up to us. When we are greedy, selfish and covetous, the stream of good that was refreshing us seems to dry up.

A manager from California, urges others: "Don’t do anything you know is wrong or later you will feel sorry and it will affect your energy, your business. If you make mistakes, don’t let them get you down; keep trying and you will do very well!"

When you do wrong, the best course is to turn it around as quickly as you can. Admit the wrong, ask forgiveness, repay or repair the damage that you have done, forgive yourself and move on.

"How pleasant it is, at the end of the day, No follies to have to repent; But reflect on the past, and be able to say, That my time has been properly spent."
-Jane Taylor, Rhymes for the Nursery. The Way to be Happy.

If you say it, you have to do it

Isn’t it funny? You can convince yourself that you want to do something but still put it off indefinitely. As long as you keep the goal private, it’s just too easy to procrastinate.

The cure is to make your goal public; then you have to follow through or else "lose face." Once you have made a public commitment, you feel a real obligation to begin and then keep on keeping your promise.

You might use this technique to strengthen your commitment to lose 15 pounds or to send out a monthly newsletter. When people ask you how much weight you’ve lost or want to know when they’ll receive your next newsletter, you will be more likely to get back to work in order to meet their expectations.

The hardest part of any task is getting off to a good start. Once you actually get started, it’s easier to keep going.

"The beginning is the most important part of the work."
-Plato

Copyright 1996, 2010, David Satterlee

Creative Commons License This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 3.0 Unported License, which essentially says that you are free to share the work under the conditions that you attribute it fully, do not use it for commercial purposes, and do not alter it.

Sep 182010
 

Where there was once a clean-cut young boy with a lot of promise, there now dwells a rascally old curmudgeon pondering the nature of promises, life, the universe and everything.

David buzzcutdws bushman

David holds the posture that nothing is sacred while holding faith that everything is sacred. His stories tend to carry you into the musical rhythms and harmonies of language while exploring the tender frailties of our nature… before dropping you on your head.

You are urged to never trust the gods at play, never trust a writer, and never eat yellow snow. Blessings to you and blessings to all. Thank you for your kind attentions.

Copyright 2010 by David Satterlee

Creative Commons License This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 3.0 Unported License, which essentially says that you are free to share the work under the conditions that you attribute it fully, do not use it for commercial purposes, and do not alter it.

Feb 012010
 

Source: “Authentic Happiness,” Martin E. P. Seligman, Ph.D., Chapter 5

Martin Seligman proposes a formula for happiness: H=S+C+V.

Enduring level of Happiness =
Set range + life Circumstances + factors under Voluntary control

H – Enduring level of Happiness

Enduring happiness is not the same as momentary happiness, which can spring from a wide range of positive, but transient events. Increasing these momentary pleasures have no enduring effect on enduring happiness.

In repeated studies of identical twins, fraternal twins, and adopted children, demonstrate that about half of all personality traits can be attributed to genetic inheritance. While some of these heritable traits are rather firmly fixed, some are remarkably malleable.

S – Set range

Traits which are inherited and more fixed establish a “set range” of what is normal or typical for each person. They define areas that may serve as barriers to increased happiness.

Lottery winners study

A study of major lottery winners found that most returned to their previous levels and styles of happiness within one year. On the other hand, the effect also works in reverse, with people usually recovering after adversity.

Quadriplegia study

Even people who become quadriplegics and experience a period of depression usually recover their more-positive mood within months.

Hedonic Treadmill

The concept of a hedonic treadmill describes people who, like lottery winners, begin to take good things for granted. They can begin seeking greater and greater stimulus events, trying to create the feel of an increased enduring happiness out of repeated transient experiences.

In contrast, severe tragedies such as death of loved ones and produce long-term decreases in happiness.

C – life Circumstances

Changed circumstances can sometimes contribute to enduring happiness.

Impacts of money, marriage, social life, negative emotion, health, education, climate, race, gender, religion.

Intractable poverty and other enduring negative circumstances can directly produce higher levels of unhappiness and depression. However, once a certain level of perceived basic needs are met, improving circumstances no longer reliably produce emotional satisfaction. Security is important to happiness; wealth is not.

Marital satisfaction is clearly related to happiness. However, unhappy people may be less likely to become married or stay married. Satisfying romantic and social relationships are also reliably related to reported happiness. It is still unclear that one causes the other.

The mere existence of unhappy situations and negative emotions does not intrinsically deny a person joy. Women tend to experience greater levels of emotion, both positive and negative, than men. Although they experience twice as much depression as men, they also experience more frequent and more intense positive emotions.

Younger people, evidently often report carefree and youthful “fun” as happiness. A close examination indicates that life satisfaction tends to increase with age while extremes of emotional intensity moderate.

Factors such as education, climate, race, and gender do not directly and reliably correlate with sustained happiness.

The exercise of religious faith, and the social support that it often provides, often removes adherents from certain negative life circumstances. This has a noticeable but not reliable protective effect on happiness. The element of increased hope maybe the most significant beneficial factor: increasing happiness and reducing despair.

Increasing Happiness: The Bottom Line

The most influential effects on long-term happiness include: living in a wealthy democracy; having a satisfying marriage; avoiding events that overtly produce negative emotions; developing a social network; embracing a hopeful spiritual path.

Disappointingly ineffective effects on long-term happiness include: materialistic pursuits beyond basic needs; immoderate pursuit of health; pursuit of advanced education; cosmetic surgery; geographic moves.

Dec 062009
 

iconIs it possible to find or create work with purpose and passion and still earn a good living? For years, Professor Mark Albion, Harvard Business School wunderkind, entrepreneur, and Fortune 500 consultant, asked himself this question. Then, in 1988, Albion quit his job … and began a life of service to others. On Finding Work That Matters, Dr. Mark (as he is known to his several million devoted monthly newsletter readers) invites you to take that same leap of faith. Join the New York Times bestselling author of Making a Life, Making a Living® to start answering the tough but necessary questions to become a working visionary

  • What dreams have I abandoned in order to make a living?
  • What are my true skills — the ones that will bring me the most fulfillment while benefiting others?
  • How much will it actually cost to re-create my life?
  • How did others do it? What lessons do their stories hold?

Taught with intelligence, humor, and many true accounts of those who found meaningful livelihood, Finding Work That Matters is required listening for anyone ready to leave behind a job and discover the fulfillment of making a difference in the world.

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