Welcome to my thoughts on Living with Joy, Purpose, and Conscious Choice.
- Jonathan Lockwood Huie

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Here, I share my thoughts on spiritual power, relationships, simple living, managing stress, work-life balance, career decisions, money, politics, the environment, and much more.

See my self-help articles including How to Move On and How to Succeed, browse my large collection of Inspirational Quotes, and sign-up for my free Daily Inspiration - Daily Quote email and my Positive Affirmation of the Day email.

The content of all my blogs/websites consists entirely of personal opinion.
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Thursday, January 9, 2020

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What is "Moral?"

Question I received... I have been trying to decode the enigmatic statement by Isaac Asimov: "Never let your sense of morals get in the way of doing what's right."  What do you think Dr. Asimov meant by that?  Kindly advise.  Thank you very much.

My response...

It depends on how you define morals. If you define "moral" as doing what you yourself believe to be "right," then the Asimov quote makes no sense.
But if you define "moral" as following the "settled customs of a stable society" (that is, doing what your family, church, and government "teach" you is "right"), then the conflict becomes clear.

Thus, I interpret the Asimov quote this way...

"What is Moral" is what we have been taught by our parents, teachers, religious leaders, and other influences.

"What is Right" is what we know in our heart to be compassionate, generous, honorable, and noble.

Laws are often cruel.  Here are two great examples...  And religious teachings and family/community traditions are also often cruel.



Sunday, August 25, 2019

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The Form of God

I don't doubt God. I have firm faith absolutely in God.
It's religion I'm doubting.
- Bono

How can God be so many different things to different people? How can God be a young Jewish man to some, an ancient male figure to others, and a female or an eagle or have eight arms or be formless for others? And how about having three forms simultaneously (Father, Son, and Holy Ghost)?  How can God be the incarnation of peace and love for some, while embody justice and divine retribution for others? How can God be, for some people, someone/something that intervenes in each human's life on a daily basis, while for others God is more distant and does not micromanage our lives. How about free will and/or predestination?

Of course there are many theories. The most common belief is that exactly one of these views toward God is real, while all the others are false, and often viewed as intentionally heretical falsehoods. And of course many other people believe all ideas of any "god" to be strictly human inventions.

Personally, I believe that God is Omnipotent, Omnipresent, and Benevolent (although that seldom means that we get what we want). Being omnipotent, God can and does appear to each of us bearing exactly the characteristics (form and message) that best serve us individually. Those who need love see love. Those who need justice see justice. Those who need a "personal" God get that. Those who need a distant beacon to mark the goal get that.

For me, this idea that God can be everything and anything to each of us drives my commitment to honor all people and to respect each of their beliefs about God.

God's Spirit moves through us and the world at a pace
that can never be constricted by any one religious paradigm. I love that.
- Bono

We must be ready to learn from one another,
not claiming that we alone possess all truth
and that somehow we have a corner on God.
- Archbishop Desmond Tutu

God has no religion.
- Mohandas (Mahatma) Gandhi

Religion is a blessing when, and only when,
it provides a focus for a compassionate community
to minister to its members and to the world at large.
- Jonathan Lockwood Huie

Religion as a human phenomenon is as riddled through
with potential for both good and evil as any other phenomenon.
- Richard John Neuhaus

We can never be the better for our religion
if our neighbor is the worse for it.
- Anonymous

Gentleness, self-sacrifice and generosity
are the exclusive possession of no one race or religion.
- Mohandas (Mahatma) Gandhi

Men never do evil so completely and cheerfully
as when they do it from religious conviction.
- Blaise Pascal

It is only partly true that religion does more harm than good in society.
The community makes God into the image it wants,
vengeful, or milky sweet, or scrupulously just, and so on.
- Mary Douglas

A common denominator of all religions
is that they have the power
to bring out both the best and the worst in people.
- Jonathan Lockwood Huie

I never considered a difference of opinion
in politics, in religion, in philosophy,
as cause for withdrawing from a friend.
- Thomas Jefferson

Further reading: Perspectives on the Nature of God

Many Religions, One Divine

Thursday, August 23, 2018

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More thoughts on accepting others as they are

I have been asked to say more about this quote, and what if the other person causes relentless pain...

Happiness lies in accepting everyone
in our lives EXACTLY as they are.
We cause ourselves untold misery whenever
we believe others to be imperfect and try to change them.
This is the number one rule for a happy relationship.
- Jonathan Lockwood Huie

A person might (or might not) be able and willing to change themself, but we have virtually no ability to change the nature of another person. Complaining, getting angry, making threats, etc, just further entrench a person in their unpleasant ways.

What each of can control is our own response to the other person.

Let's say that the situation is a married couple who love each other and mostly like each other, but are annoyed by minor defects in the other, like tending to be late for appointments. In this case, I would say to focus on what is good, to avoid criticism, and to lovingly attempt to look at the lateness as a quirk rather than as a defect.

But if the issue is repeated affairs or drunkenness, that's totally different.  Personally, I'd recommend separation when possible, which it isn't always.

Let's say the problem person is your boss. Same answer. If the issues are minor, focus on the positive, and choose to accept the rest with joy and an upbeat attitude. But if the issues are serious, get a new job.  In any case, never cling to the hope that another will change.

Also note that love vs. hate  is a separate issue from how much time you choose to spend with another.  You can still hold good feelings toward a person (and avoid hating them) even if you find you no longer want to spend time with them.  A marriage or job can end without creating enemies (of course that requires both parties to act like adults).

May the world be kind to you, and may your own thoughts be gentle upon yourself.
- Jonathan Lockwood Huie

Monday, August 13, 2018

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May God Grant You Serenity and Courage

A reader who is stuck in very challenging circumstances and "can't seem to get ahead," asks,"Any prayer, affirmation, or advice would be greatly appreciated."

My reply...

I recommend pursuing two paths simultaneously:
1) Work to improve your circumstances.
2) at the same time, Choose to live the most joyful life possible within your current circumstances.

It's one of life's great paradoxes ...
Accepting with gratitude whatever life throws at us
is critical to happiness.
Yet without a goal and commitment, life loses much of its value.
The best we can do in the face of this paradox
is to play to win, but be cheerful in defeat
and ready to play again.
- Jonathan Lockwood Huie

Courage and perseverance have a magical talisman,
before which difficulties disappear and obstacles vanish into air.
- John Quincy Adams

If you run into a wall, don't turn around and give up.
Figure out how to climb it, go through it, or work around it.
- Michael Jordan

This is my wish for you:
Comfort on difficult days,
Smiles when sadness intrudes,
Rainbows to follow the clouds,
Laughter to kiss your lips,
Sunsets to warm your heart,
Hugs when spirits sag,
Beauty for your eyes to see,
Friendships to brighten your being,
Faith so that you can believe,
Confidence for when you doubt,
Courage to know yourself,
Patience to accept the truth,
Love to complete your life.
- Anonymous

God grant me the serenity
To accept the things I cannot change;
the courage to change the things I can;
and the wisdom to know the difference.
- Reinhold Niebuhr (Serenity Prayer)

May the world be kind to you, and may your own thoughts be gentle upon yourself.
- Jonathan Lockwood Huie


Monday, May 21, 2018

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Learn Mindfulness, Live in the Moment

Reader's question: "Could you steer me in the right direction to learn mindfulness, to live in the moment?"

My reply:

Just watch this moment, without trying to change it at all.
What is happening? What do you feel?
What do you see? What do you hear?
- Jon Kabat-Zinn

Do the small things of life with a relaxed awareness.
When you are eating, eat totally -
chew totally, taste totally, smell totally.
Touch your bread, feel the texture.
Smell the bread, smell the flavor.
Chew it, let it dissolve into your being.
- Osho 

Set an alarm several times a day. Check in with yourself about how mindful you are being, versus how stressed. Do a reset. Let it be okay that the reset will only last for 5 minutes at first. Don't get discouraged. A tiny something each day is a success.

May the world be kind to you, and may your own thoughts be gentle upon yourself.
- Jonathan Lockwood Huie

Further reading: Letting Go and Accepting This Moment

Wisdom of Patience

12 Life Lessons I Learned From My Cat

Tuesday, July 11, 2017

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Addressing the "real world" requires three actions - simultaneously...

A reader wrote: "Your words are so calm. But you have never addressed the real world.
I was beaten...what calm and enlighten words do you have to say to that.
Get with the real life world ...sir❗️"

My Reply...

Thank you very much for writing.

Addressing the "real world" requires three actions - simultaneously...

1) Recognize that whatever has happened in the past cannot be changed. Anger can't change the past. Revenge can't change the past. Acceptance and forgiveness are powerful tools in letting the past be the past, so you can focus on the present and the future.

Anger is often more hurtful than the injury that caused it.
- English Proverb

Genuine forgiveness does not deny anger but faces it head-on.
- Alice Duer Miller

2) Have a positive attitude. Having a positive attitude is both a tool to make you happier in the present, and a tool from which to launch "real world" actions and success.

Positive thinking will let you do everything
better than negative thinking will.
- Zig Ziglar

3) Take action. Begin now. Begin again each day. Take action with calm focus, and with a well-thought-out plan, but take action, and persevere.

Our lives begin to end the day we become silent
about things that matter.
- Martin Luther King, Jr. 

Attitude and action are both essential.
Attitude without action is mere pretense.
Action without attitude is merely frenzied motion.
 - Jonathan Lockwood Huie

May the world be kind to you, and may your own thoughts be gentle upon yourself.
- Jonathan Lockwood Huie


Thursday, June 29, 2017

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How Much Is Enough?

I often receive emails asking how the writer, in their specific circumstances, can possibly be expected to be happy, or to be grateful for life.  What if they are in constant agonizing pain? What if their children are dying of starvation? What if they are living with relatives because they can't find a job? What if the investment advisor they trusted absconded with their money and they are forced to sell their yacht? Where is the line between "need" and "want?" How much is enough?

Some of the main themes of my Daily Inspirations are: gratitude for all of life, appreciation of the abundance that surrounds us, and the joys of simple living. I continue to assert that those themes are keys to happiness for most of us, but I also acknowledge that there are exceptions - mostly in situations of extreme physical pain (at least in America).

Making a conscious choice to be grateful for what one has, to have a positive attitude toward life, and to choose happiness are VERY powerful tools for living a better life. If a person has enough food, a roof over their head, and a tolerable level of physical pain, I recommend that gratitude and a positive attitude be the first-line tools in life.

There are a few common circumstances which cause severe long-lasting distress, and for which a positive attitude can be especially helpful:
* Being unemployed or underemployed. Recognize that the primary issue here is not money (at least in America, an unemployed worker and their family are not going to starve). The primary issue is a sense of shame and inadequacy.
* Loss of a loved one. They are in a better place. Appreciate what is good in life, and focus on the future.
* A childhood trauma such as bullying, rape, an alcoholic parent. The past cannot be undone. Appreciation of what is good, and a focus on the future are the best tools against past issues.
* Feeling lonely.

In situations where feeling lonely is the issue, or contributes to the issue, I also strongly recommend positive interactions with others, in addition to gratitude and a positive attitude. There are supportive religious groups, there are supportive community groups, and especially, there are opportunities to be of service to those less well off than oneself.

Finally, understand that appreciation and a positive attitude represent a starting point, a base line. A positive attitude not only offers more happiness in the present, but is also the strongest base from which to take action. A person with a positive attitude is better able to find a good job than a person who exudes negativity. A person with a positive attitude is better able to benefit their community through social and political action than a negative person.

Positive thinking will let you do everything
better than negative thinking will.
- Zig Ziglar

The best way to cheer yourself
is to try to cheer someone else up.
- Mark Twain 

I wept because I had no shoes
until I met a man who had no feet.
- old Persian Proverb

He who can give thanks for little
will always find he has enough.
- Anonymous

Nothing is enough for the man to whom enough is too little.
- Epicurus

We who lived in concentration camps can remember the men
who walked through the huts comforting others,
giving away their last piece of bread...
They offer sufficient proof that everything
can be taken from a man but one thing:
to choose one's attitude in any given set of circumstances,
to choose one's own way.
- Viktor E. Frankl