Mar 28, 2008

Stroke of Insight

Neuroanatomist Jill Bolte Taylor had an opportunity few brain scientists would wish for: One morning, she realized she was having a massive stroke. As it happened -- as she felt her brain functions slip away one by one, speech, movement, understanding -- she studied and remembered every moment. This is a powerful story about how our brains define us and connect us to the world and to one another.

Mar 23, 2008

A Lighted World

One grandfather asked his two granddaughters what they wanted for their birthdays. "Give us a world," they responded.

Soon he deduced that what they were asking for was a globe. So Granddad happily shopped for a nice large, spinning globe that he was sure would make an attractive addition to their room.

He waited for the inevitable sounds of pleasure as they unwrapped a beautiful globe he had selected. He sensed, however, that their enthusiasm for the gift was not as heart-felt as he had expected. "What is the matter?" he asked. "I thought this is what you wanted."

"Well, yes," said one of them, "but we were kind of hoping for a lighted world." Immediately he understood that what they wanted was a globe with a light inside.

"I can fix that," he said. "Let me take it back and exchange it for a lighted one."

Unfortunately the store where he bought the globe did not sell lighted ones. They refunded his money and he set out in search of a "lighted world." He eventually located a globe with a light in it, bought it and presented it to his delighted granddaughters.

When asked by a friend if he had learned anything from this experience, he made sage observation: "Oh, yes, I learned one thing. I learned that a lighted world costs more."

Light is a powerful metaphor. An enlightened world might be one in which education is valued.

But it can also mean that what was hidden in darkness can now be seen. Destructive attitudes and behaviors will never stand the scrutiny of light.

We become better people, and we become a better world, as we move toward the light. But a lighted world costs more. Thank goodness for those who are willing to help pay the cost.


-- Steve Goodier

Mar 20, 2008

Got a Problem?

Do you have a problem? Does it seem like it just won't go away?
Perhaps a little more creativity is all that is needed. Let me explain.

Thomas Edison has been credited with inventing the first half of the twentieth century. And certainly one of his greatest inventions was the incandescent electric light bulb. But Edison takes no credit for making the light bulb available to the world. He was simply an inventor.

Edison's bulb did not burn for long; it gave off little light and it was too expensive. A man named William David Coolidge spent seven years improving the light bulb to make it more practical. Largely because of his work, electric light eventually came into common use.

When Coolidge finally succeeded in his efforts, he was questioned about how he was able to make tungsten work. He said, "It was because I was not a metallurgist. Had I been a metallurgist, I would have known that the task was impossible."

Henry Ford, too, built his success largely on his ability to "think outside the box." He used to say that he was looking to employ a lot of people "who have an infinite capacity to not know what can't be done." Sometimes, unconventional thinking and a belief that anything is possible are required to solve problems.

You may not be setting out to build a huge company or market a new invention, but you still face difficult problems that beg for creativity. Perhaps you are worried about financing an education. Or you are caring for a loved one with a long-term illness. Or maybe you simply cannot seem to get along with that difficult person you work alongside everyday. These problems, and countless others, just don't seem to go away. Most of us struggle with similar "impossible" situations. If your problem seems impossible, then your usual thinking is probably not working. How can you look at your situation differently? Who can help you consider other solutions and will never tell you that it can't be done? And most important, what would you do if you believed that anything were possible? Anything!

You may not have succeeded yet because you have become discouraged searching for a solution to your problem. Or perhaps you are not convinced that an answer can be found, somehow...somewhere. But a creative and wonderful solution might be just ahead. Look in a different direction. Find it! You can.if you believe it is there and
if you believe it can be found.

Today, what would happen if you approached your problem in a new way?
Do you want to find out?

-- Steve Goodier

Mar 8, 2008

Success Tax

I have learned something about success: I have learned that it comes with a tax.

There are those who will tell you that you can earn a six-figure income in just months. There's nothing to it, they say. Just follow a simple system and your financial success will skyrocket! Not so. There is a tax in order to achieve what you want; it is called dedication.

Orson Welles once said, "My doctor has advised me to give up those intimate little dinners for four, unless, of course, there are three other people eating with me." Some people will tell you that you can lose 25 or 50 pounds in just weeks. It's easy, they say. Not so. Andy Rooney observed that the two biggest sellers in any bookstore are cookbooks and diet books. Cookbooks tell you how to prepare the food and diet books tell you how not to eat any of it.

And others will tell you that you can have the body of Charles Atlas, or the Incredible Hulk, or Cindy Crawford. It's quick and simple, they say. Not so - it is never easy to succeed at difficult goals. There is a tax, and that tax is called dedication.

Do you want to excel in a sport, play a musical instrument well or become an accomplished artist? One man was lost in New York City. He poked his head into a taxi cab and asked the driver, "How do you get to Yankee Stadium?" The driver responded, "Practice, practice, practice." You want to become really good at something you enjoy? You can! But there is a tax to pay and that tax is called dedication.

Do you want better relationships with a spouse or a child or with friends? There are never guarantees, but I promise that those relationships will suffer without dedication. I wanted better relationships with my boys, and never felt I had the time. So I decided when they were little that I would spend time alone with one at breakfast every week. I kept this up for years. It was a time for listening and talking, but never a time for correcting and persuading. I made plenty of mistakes as a father, but if I had it to do over again, I would do the breakfasts.

We pay a tax to succeed at anything worthwhile. That success tax is called dedication, and here's the most wonderful part. Once you pay it, you'll find the price was worth it.

-- Steve Goodier

Mar 6, 2008

All the Joy You Need

Thomas Aquinas once said, "No one can live without joy." But many people try. And the reason is often simply because they don't know how to be happy! They are so intent on the three P's - power, prosperity and prestige - that they miss out on joy.

Try to imagine this picture. It is a photograph taken by Henri Cartier-Bresson, who pioneered modern photography as an art form during the early decades of the 20th Century. He became known for his photographs of apparent contradictions: pictures that left mysteries unexplained.

One of his famous photographs was shot in a poor section of Spain in the 1930s. The picture depicts a run-down alley surrounded by decaying walls, strewn with rubble randomly stacked in thick piles lying on the street, and riddled with bullet holes dotting gray walls. The setting alone evokes feelings of sadness and despair.

But then...the contradiction. Within the grim alley children are playing. They wear dirty and tattered clothes, as one might expect in such a setting, but like playing children everywhere, they laugh with carefree joy. In the foreground, a tiny boy on crutches hobbles away from two other boys, his face lit up with a broad grin. One boy is laughing so hard he has to hold his side. Others lean on the cracked walls, beaming with delight.

It is easy to spot the contrast - and the point. Joy amidst the rubble of life. Laughter amongst life's ruins.

We cannot avoid pain, however hard we try. But we can avoid joy. We cannot escape hardship and trouble, but we can miss out on much of life's peace and laughter.

If you feel as if you could use more joy, try this:

* Spend time daily doing something you enjoy.
* Do those things that bring inner peace.
* Learn to laugh heartily and frequently.
* Cultivate an attitude of hope.
* Fill each day with as much love as it can possibly hold.

You'll still have plenty of problems, but through it all, you'll find all you joy you will ever need.

-- Steve Goodier

Mar 3, 2008

We Are The World

The song "We are the world" on a Japanese variety show ... And it's amazing, can you tell the difference?

Here are the lyrics ...

There comes a time when we heed a certain call (Lionel Richie)
When the world must come together as one (Lionel Richie & Stevie Wonder)
There are people dying (Stevie Wonder)
Oh, and it's time to lend a hand to life (Paul Simon)
The greatest gift of all (Paul Simon/Kenny Rogers)

We can't go on pretending day by day (Kenny Rogers)
That someone, somehow will soon make a change (James Ingram)
We're all a part of God's great big family (Tina Turner)
And the truth (Billy Joel)
You know love is all we need (Tina Turner/Billy Joel)

We are the world, we are the children
We are the ones who make a brighter day so let's start giving (Michael Jackson)
There's a choice we're making we're saving our own lives (Diana Ross)
It's true we'll make a better day just you and me (Michael Jackson/Diana Ross)

Well, send'em your heart so they know that someone cares (Dionne Warwick)
And their lives will be stronger and free (Dionne Warwick/Willie Nelson)
As God has shown us by turning stone to bread (Willie Nelson)
And so we all must lend a helping hand (Al Jurreau)

We are the world, we are the children (Bruce Springsteen)
We are the ones who make a brighter day so let's start giving (Kenny Logins)
There's a choice we're making we're saving our own lives (Steve Perry)
It's true we'll make a better day just you and me (Daryl Hall)

When you're down and out there seems no hope at all (Michael Jackson)
But if you just believe there's no way we can fall (Huey Lewis)
Well, well, well, let's realize that a change can only come (Cyndi Lauper)
When we (Kim Carnes)
stand together as one (Kim Carnes/Cyndi Lauper/Huey Lewis)

Mar 2, 2008

Feeling More Thankful

A man lay in a hospital bed worried about whether he would live or die. He called his pastor to come pray for him. He told her that if he got well, he'd donate $20,000 to the church.

The pastor prayed and the man eventually DID get well and returned home. But no check came to the church. So the pastor paid him a visit.

"I see you're doing quite well now," she observed. "I was just wondering about the promise you made."

"What promise?" he asked.

"You said you'd give $20,000 to the church if you recovered."

"I did?" he exclaimed. "That goes to show you just how sick I really was!"

It is easy to give thanks -- or to show it -- when we feel grateful. But gratitude is not a feeling we can manufacture. Nor are we born feeling grateful.

Children are not thankful by nature. We teach them to say thanks and, in time, they develop stronger feelings of gratitude. My children could talk before they were weaned from diapers, but one thing they never said was, "Thank your for changing my dirty diapers. Dad, I know that is a messy job. I appreciate all you are doing for me." Too bad. Sometimes I deserved a BIG thank you.

When they were sick, they never thanked us for sitting up with them at night. And when they became car sick at the beginning of a road trip, they never said thanks for cleaning it up. Even though their mother and I spent almost a half hour scrubbing the carpet in a convenience store parking lot at seven degrees below zero (our metric system readers will recognize that as -22 degrees Celsius), they never did said, "Gosh, guys, you're the greatest parents ever! We are SO lucky to be part of this family."

Naturally, we wouldn't expect small children to thank their parents for being parents. And for most people, feelings of gratitude come with empathy as we mature.

But can we learn to feel more thankful? Here are three simple steps to help anybody live more thankfully and to respond more authentically.

First, recognize WHEN a thankful response is appropriate. We take for granted too many of the things that we should be giving thanks for.

Second, spend a moment reflecting on how another's thoughtfulness makes you feel. Be intentional about this.

Then third, from a sincere feeling of gratitude, give thanks. When you do, you will also discover that you are becoming a happier person.

-- Steve Goodier