Mind Thinks, But Heart Feels

A man waiting to make a right turn into a small grocery store parking lot noticed that only two spaces remained. He saw a woman waiting to turn left into the same lot. Knowing it could be some time before oncoming cars would allow her to turn, when the light changed, he purposefully held back traffic and motioned that she should enter the lot ahead of him. She did.

The woman was first to arrive at the two adjoining spaces. Instead of pulling into one space she intentionally parked in the middle of both. Shocked, the man stopped his car and got out.

“Excuse me, ma’am. Will you please move your car so I can park too?”

“No, someone will scratch it.”

“But I let you turn ahead of me and there are no more parking places. You’ve taken the last two.”

“So what? It is my right.”

The man found another parking place and followed the woman into the store. He was furious and shouted at her. She completely ignored him and went about her business.

Each day you have opportunities to practice remaining aligned with your heart’s loving, compassionate, and purposeful values or to stoop to the standards other people set for themselves. To consistently have the best life requires acting aligned with your heart. This requires accepting your mind is not the smartest part of you, no matter how much it tells you it is. The rationalizations and justifications your mind will create to defend ego-boxing behavior cause stress, frustration, and disappointment that can get you into trouble.

When we slow down to think about what we are thinking while we are thinking it, we learn our mind is a tool. It is great for balancing our checkbook, filling out an income tax report, or working through statistical analysis. It also comes in handy when reading a map, recalling items we need from the grocery store, or learning how to use a remote control. Our mind thinks, and with our heart’s wisdom we have the awareness to question those thoughts.

Is what we are thinking real, true, or important? Do our thoughts justify actions that can hurt us or someone else? Are our thoughts attempting to limit the cooperative, inclusive, and virtuous motivations of our heart?

Slow down. Think about what you are thinking. Keep emotionally connected to and responsible for the steady stream of mind chatter. Become aware of how your thoughts subtly limit you. Master a mind that has a mind of its own by learning to identify and change limiting, negative thoughts to positive thoughts that support you in creating the life of meaning you really want.

Accept What Is, to Create What You Want to Be

After two months at a job selling advertising for a small, family-owned newspaper, I was fired. There was no warning. There was no indication my performance was less than acceptable. In fact, I had received praise for increasing ad revenue. It did not make sense to be abruptly terminated. Regardless of how much I wanted to identify the reason, no one in the company returned my calls. I became angry and depressed. Without accepting the reality that sometimes things happen with no logical explanation, I was stuck, unable to move on. For the next few months I did little to find a new job.

Many years ago I dated an alcoholic. I did not recognize the condition in the beginning, but over time it became clear as the incidents of intoxication began to add up. After each occurrence there was an apology, a request for forgiveness, and a promise it would not happen again. No matter how much I wanted the drinking to stop, it did not. No matter how much I prayed for follow-through on the promise to seek help, there was none.  I chose to believe what was promised, rather than accepting the repeated actions as proof of what was actually true. The result is I stayed in the abusive relationship far too long.

A family I am acquainted with lost a child to a tragic accident. Before the accident, the father was a pillar of strength. He was also kind, compassionate, and had a positive outlook on life. Over the next few years he sank deeper into depression, clinging to what he thought should, would or could have been. Blame was cast, lawsuits were filed and a focus on revenge erased the memories of his once joyful life. Without the ability to forgive and deal with the tragedy, he was not able to be thankful for the joy life still held for him. He died a frail and bitter man unable to move on.

How much precious time do we waste wanting other people or situations to be different from how they are? Positive change begins by honestly looking at how unreasonable it is to suffer under the false impression we have the power to control or manipulate other people or the negative, frustrating, inconvenient or heartbreaking situations we encounter in life.

Maybe someone leaves us for another or just ends the relationship. We have two choices. We can be angry, dwelling on what we think should be, but isn’t. Or we can mend our heart by learning from the experience, feeling our sadness and picking ourselves up to move on. We choose to exchange a fantasy of the past and what “should be” for the opportunity to create a better “what is” reality in the present. This same formula works with whatever situations life throws at us.

Traffic jams and other delays are a frequent part of life. We do not receive the job we badly want and need. We realize we are in relationship with an abuser. We become conscious we are the one with a problem. The people and pets we love are sometimes taken away from us through illnesses or tragic accidents.

Relationships end. Our affection for another is not reciprocated. We slip and break an ankle. Our car is damaged by a hit-and-run driver. We lose our wallet or keys or our purse is stolen. Our luggage becomes lost or our flight is delayed or cancelled. We are diagnosed with cancer. Our parents become ill or their behavior radically changes. Someone is rude to us.

No amount of anger, yelling, worry, or desire for revenge changes what is real in the moment at hand. Only by accepting the present circumstance for what it is, rather than what we think it should, would, or could be, do we help ease the stress and upset that comes from the misconception we can control or change people and the uncontrollable and unchangeable situations of life.

When something happens in life that upsets your plans, take a deep breath. Slow down. Count to five. Relax into the truth that only by accepting what is real in the present can you take the necessary action to leave an abusive relationship. Or rebound from losing a job. Or seek help for an addiction. Or deal with an illness. Or appropriately honor the memory of a loved one.

Change begins when you accept what is, so you can begin to create what you want to be.

To Know When Enough is Enough

Lao Tzu said, “If you look to others for fulfillment, you will never truly be fulfilled.  If your happiness depends on money, you will never be happy with yourself. Be content with what you have; rejoice in the way things are.  When you realize there is nothing lacking, the whole world belongs to you.”

I spent many years looking to other people for fulfillment. I was not grateful to be a unique individual. I wanted to be like everyone else, to blend into the crowd, to be accepted, to finally receive the validation I needed.

For too long, I went along with the idea of success as defined by my peers and society, which meant having attained wealth, position and honors. In order to be a success, I got a good education. Then I landed a series of respectable jobs with great benefits and, at some of them, a big corner office. Although I did not dislike my jobs, I was not content. My days were jam-packed with work, leaving little time for anything else. My overcrowded schedule cost me relationships with my partner, friends, pets and myself. I had no time to really enjoy life. I was too busy being a success.

But how successful are we if we are not grateful for each and every blessing bestowed on us?  Dr. Vincent Ryan said, “The secret to life is to know when enough is enough.”

In our current society where happiness is tied to things the attitude of bigger is better, more is better, newer is better, younger is better, does not leave much room for being satisfied with what we have.

Being grateful for all we have is a way of walking through life.  True gratitude is not a temporary state of mind but a lifestyle with many benefits. Joy and fulfillment are a result of gratitude. And, researches are discovering our physical and mental health are also now being tied to our thankfulness.

We’re more optimistic when we’re grateful which boosts the immune system. Researchers now believe people who are optimistic maintain higher numbers of blood cells that protect the immune system. Being grateful feels good and impacts others positively as well.

This week I challenge you to make a list of what you are grateful for. Not just your family, friends, job, pets, home.  Think of those things you tend to take for granted like indoor plumbing, paved roads, clean drinking water, heat, electricity, the internet, immunizations, grocery stores.

Everything we do in life is a results of a choice we make.  Having a grateful attitude is a choice to see our glass full to overflowing.  I guarantee when you lead with a grateful heart life responds.


Do you believe people starring in fast-food commercials actually eat fast food on a regular basis?

Do you think your 50-year-old wrinkles will go away and you’ll look like the 18-year-old in the magazine face-cream commercial?

Do you believe you’ll finally be happy when you get the big car, fancy house, cool wardrobe, and hot partner?

While there is supposed to be truth in advertising guess what, advertisers lie.

Sure they do with photo shop, by hiring skinny actors who NEVER eat fast food, through deception, altered imagery, and by leading us to believe things are sexy.  How stupid do they think we are?  Pretty stupid because we’re buying their lies hook, line and sinker. The woman who is wearing the leather mini-skirt does not come with the car you purchase. Dying your grey hair will not have young hot chicks knocking down your door. One fast-food meal packs more calories, fat, sodium, sugar, and preservatives than those commercial actors eat in a month. Those 18 year old cosmetic model photos have been doctored to the point their facial features are perfect. Not to mention the 100,000 dollar lighting system and high-paid photographers. But hey we buy the lies, never once questioning how come our butt can’t fit into our pants since we started the fast-food routine?

How come our 50 year old wrinkles don’t magically disappear? How come all those things we surround ourselves with don’t make us jump for joy 24-hours a day. People who sell us stuff will do anything to sell us stuff.  We have to be smarter and ask ourselves if it’s too good to be true then it is.  Happiness, personal satisfaction and fulfillment in life come from what we put into our hearts – pleasant memories, being helpful and kind, self-respect, family, friends, what we do to give back – not how we look, how much money we make or what size we wear.

The time has come to be honest with ourselves about the dishonesty of the consumeristic society in which we are living. We must be the ones who change this by educating ourselves, so we don’t fall for the next tonic salesman who pulls into town.

Think for yourself because when it comes to selling, advertisers, newscasters, and politicians all have swamp land they are eager to unload. We must be smarter than to think miracles come in the form of sexy, or fast, big and shiny things. The time has come to stop selling ourselves so short.

Positive Makes the Hard in Life Easier

Do you know any truly negative people? People who cannot say anything positive about anything. They are miserable and not at all fun to be around.

Yes, sure misery loves company but seriously who likes to be around miserable people?  I’m not talking about the occasional bad day that puts us in a bad mood. Or getting up on the wrong side of the bed once in a while. I’m talking about people who are completely and totally wallowing in their own problems and the negative going on in the world to the point they can see nothing else. That’s all they talk about.

You say something positive and they come back with something that lets you know their glass isn’t only empty it is cracked and dirty too. UCK!

Misery loves company but how can we create a positive life if we’re constantly focused on negative or we’re hanging around with completely negative people.  Sure we can still love them but no we don’t have to join them in their misery. People like superheroes, not victims.

Yes indeed life is going to suck at times.  There are going to be challenges, frustration, injustices, and disappointment. But we don’t change negative by dwelling on the negative. To create our best life we work hard to stay positive, even when life sucks because a positive attitude always makes the hard in life easier.

The Reason I Pick Up Paperclips

I have an unusual habit – picking up paper clips I find on the sidewalk. My partner, Barbara, will confirm that no matter how twisted or tarnished or embedded in a sidewalk crack, I insist on picking up the clip. I take it home and put it with my ever-growing collection.  I do so for a very good and heart-filling reason. Several years ago, I was deeply moved by the documentary Paper Clips about Whitwell Middle School’s extraordinary experiment in Holocaust education.

Struggling to grasp the concept of six-million European Jewish and other victims, the students decided to collect six-million paper clips to better understand the extent of the Holocaust. By the time they were finished the children had collected many more, closer representing the millions of people in other groups who also were victims of the genocide. So, each time I see a paper clip it tugs at my heart, and I pick it up, put it in my pocket, and take it home to honor the victims, and those incredible children.

Often it is the smallest things that remind us of what is most important in life.  I encourage you to watch the film. Then I challenge you to begin picking up the paper clips you find. It is an unusual practice that will always satisfy your soul.

You CAN Do It!

I chose to smoke cigarettes when I was in my twenties. For the next twenty-two years, I was a slave to them. Some days I smoked two packs. It was like setting money on fire. Not to mention the constant coughing, bad breath, horrible-smelling clothing, recurring bronchitis, and inability to walk up a flight of stairs without having to rest.

By the time I was in my early thirties, I was terrified of dying. Yet day after day, year after year, I continued to justify smoking. It was one way I chose to stuff my emotional pain. With each inhale, I sucked in more self-hatred, denial, and disappointment. Even though I detested being under the control of a tiny white tube of tobacco, my mind told me I was too weak-willed to quit. The fear and justification created by my mind, which had a stubborn and illogical mind of its own, halted even the slightest movement forward. I kept turning my gaze away from the truth of my situation.

Until one day, the truth hit my soul. I was not weak. I was strong for having survived all of the challenges and heartbreak life had thrown at me. I was just scared of what life would be like and who I would be without the emotional crutch I had used for more than two decades.

The game-changing, aha moment came when I honestly looked at the reason I was using cigarettes: to avoid opening up to loving and respecting myself. The truth was that no matter how painful life had been, continuing to hurt myself was even more painful and disappointing. And hurting myself would never get back at the people who had hurt me.

Isn’t God’s gift of the power to choose to be used with thoughtfulness for the consequences of our choices?

Overcoming our fearful ego that limits us requires effort, action to move us from a victim perspective to a victor’s. We love ourselves by exercising God’s gift of purposeful choice to create responsible lives. We acknowledge we are the ones in control of our actions. There is no outside influence that controls our behavior. The only demon we face in life is our selfish, victimized, unhealthy ego. And the unhealthy ego of other people.

Since we cannot control or change anyone but ourselves, we must rise above and win the battle over ego and behave with integrity from the soul we are. Because our soul is powerful to help us accomplish whatever we put our mind and heart to.

YES you can!


When to Turn the Other Cheek and When Not to

I was the only person waiting in line one day at a coffee shop when a man entered the store. He completely ignored me and went up to the counter. At first I thought he had not seen me standing in line, so I said, “Sir, the line starts over here,” pointing behind me.

He looked at me and said, “You can wait. I am in a hurry,” and placed his order.

I know exactly what you’re thinking. My egocentric pride reactively thought the same things. How dare he act so rudely? Who does he imagine he is? How can anyone behave with such calloused entitlement and disrespect? Someone ought to teach him a lesson!


Doesn’t the universal spiritual message and standard to guide our daily behavior—the Golden Rule—emphasize treating people as we want to be treated?

Even if they behave in self-centered and rude ways that cause us to want to call them an asshole?

 There was a time in my life when I would have continued speaking to the self-centered man, or implored management to intervene in an attempt to get him to own his impolite behavior and apologize. However, I am grateful to have learned the benefit of not reacting or stooping to the same level of awareness that creates a negative situation in the first place.

I did not know the man. So I let the “nonviolent” actions of the ill-mannered stranger go.


There is no winner in an ego-boxing match.

The soul wisdom of knowing when it is best to turn the other cheek and avoid ego-boxing with someone’s entitled and irresponsible side was hard won for me. I perfected the art of ego-boxing with rude, callous individuals before I woke up to the futility of fighting someone’s self-centeredness with my own ego’s arrogance.

If a stranger was rude, I called them on their unconscious behavior. If an inconsiderate driver cut me off, I gave them the middle finger. If a man verbally assaulted me with homophobic slurs, I insulted his manhood.

Yet I honestly admit, never once did someone I chastised or insult acknowledge their behavior. Not one time did anyone express appreciation to me for helping wake them up to their unacceptable actions. Ego simply wants to do battle rather than assume responsibility for how we behave.

Why do people and companies, when confronted by whistleblowers over unethical or unsafe practices, work hard to suppress or alter evidence or to ruin the person’s reputation?

 Why do those in positions of power or in the public eye who are accused of crimes attempt to shift blame or rationalize their actions?

 Ego. My own fragile and demanding ego certainly did not thank anyone who called me on my unacceptable actions. Ego does not like to be confronted. It protects itself. We lie, for instance, and our ego then creates a web of lies in a desperate attempt to get away with the first lie. And that creates a “big” lie.

Unless we love and respect ourselves by controlling our arrogant, defensive, and unkind side, we will readily abandon our integrity and empathy. Without honor and responsibility to guide our actions, self-importance takes over. When conceit and judgment control us, we do not care about our behavior. We are not even aware of how we behave when ego is in control. And of course, our prideful ego will never condone a passive response on those occasions when we are disrespected. So,

Isn’t choosing to control our egocentric side, to behave with integrity, part of loving ourselves?

I believe so.

There is no “other.”

My most beloved friend, Byll, is over six feet tall. His petite wife stands almost five feet. Those of us who know him are never surprised when he shows up for a visit wearing a kilt. He has been known to shave his legs for a bike race. Sometimes he adds black nail polish to complete an outfit.

He is super smart. When he was a senior in high school, Harvard University wanted him. Instead, he chose to pursue his bachelor’s and Master of Fine Arts degrees at a Southern college. Long after graduation, he is continuously learning, devouring books, journals, and periodicals on various subjects.

My friend is not a fan of opinion. He is careful to weigh subject matter with great attention to detail. He seeks tangible evidence, fact, and public records to support his views on politics and social justice. He examines the world with an open mind and open heart. He ponders matters so deeply, he could have been Rodin’s model for The Thinker. And when disagreements arise, he remains even tempered, respectful, and kind.

He is patient, which is an important merit to have in our relationship, since he does not believe in God. I do believe in a benevolent, creative energy I call God. So there is an immense difference between us, one that could have ended our friendship before it began.

We may have different beliefs about God, but my friend Byll is a true superhero who respects me, regardless of how we differ. I respect him too. In fact, our discussions about God challenged me to question why I do believe in God and what I believe God is. Without being urged to examine the rote and often illogical answers programmed into me by my religious upbringing, I would not have come to appreciate God as I do. My atheist friend’s calm and peaceful conviction about what is true for him helped me grow the profound faith I have.

Have you ever discussed God with an atheist or scientist?

With respect as the foundation of our relationship, Byll and I seek to appreciate one another. We approach our friendship with the goal of benefiting from our often divergent beliefs. Both of us want to grasp each other’s perspective and engage in discussion about it. This is not easy, but it is rewarding and enlightening.

To understand one another, don’t we have the duty to stop ourselves from assuming our belief has to be what other people believe as well?

 My atheist friend Byll is one of the kindest and most responsible people I know. He is a man of honor whose consistent behavior is admirable. I know from years of observing my friend that having a deep reverence for people, and all life, is not dependent upon a belief in God or devotion to the Bible or any religious identity.

My dear friend Byll does not believe in God, yet he walks in loving thoughtfulness, respect, and responsibility. I do believe in God and also work hard to treat everyone as I want to be treated. Neither of us is perfect. But striving to live as love in action is our shared goal.

When we label someone, our mind’s tendency is to immediately jump to judgment about the person. Persecution of someone prevents us from wanting to have any connection with them, as we have already made them less than, different, and “other” in our mind. Labels and the verdicts that result from them cause us to ignore the experiences and feelings of those we do not want to know.

One-dimensional labels do not mean anything to God.

Why do labels have any value to those who say they love God? 

No matter the skin color, gender, or sexuality of our human body, the integrity of our soul matters most to God. Since soul is home to the honesty, empathy, and respect of our integrity, we can only love one another with soul.

The Benefits of Gratitude

This is my friend, Brijesh Kumar Yadav, and his dog Puaa. They live in Pooranpur, Uttar Pradesh, India. We have been friends for four years. Living where he does, in a small village in India, it is difficult to get things you and I may take for granted. Like vaccines and health care. Running water and dependable electricity. Transportation and veterinary care. And many people are still dying of Covid.  Early in the pandemic Brijesh’s mother was one of Covid’s first victims.

After his mom passed, I encouraged him to adopt a street dog. I wanted him to have something all his own to love him. Over the past several months I have educated Brijesh on how to take care of a dog. It has been challenging. There are no vets where he lives. So, recently, after a six hour round trip by cab to a large city, Puaa was neutered. It also took several months and much difficulty to get Puaa his vaccines.

For me these things and others (like running water, dependable electricity, transportation, a refrigerator) are commonplace.  For my friend they are not.  We live in very different worlds. Knowing him has made the gratitude for all I have so much deeper. I love him dearly and in addition to helping with Puaa, I am investing in Brijesh’s future by helping him get an education. I want him to have the tools necessary so he can create his best life.

When we stop and think about it, we realize it is the little things in life that are most important. Being grateful for all we have, how convenient our lives are, how blessed we are, I believe is one way we love God. I believe another way we love God is to care for, help, and support one another as we want to be cared for, helped, and supported.

I am deeply grateful for my relationship with Brijesh. He is now part of my family. And each day I am grateful for him and how our relationship keeps me grateful for all I am blessed to have.

As Jami said, “We can spend a whole lifetime enjoying various benefits and not appreciate their value until we are deprived of them.”  Brijesh has taught me how truly blessed I am. For that I am eternally grateful.