Archives for January 2019

7 things you must not forget

by fireupdaily

 

At one time or another we all go through tough times.  Life is not always fair nor is it easy.  As long as you live you will face challenges, setbacks, and trying times.  But, you will make it though the tough times if you maintain your faith, focus, and follow-through.

Even Bad Times End

It is always important to remember that nothing lasts forever.  Life is full of ebbs and flows, ups and downs, good and bad.  When you are going through tough times you must remind yourself this too shall pass.  At the time, it doesn’t seem like it because you feel overwhelmed, hopeless and helpless.  But, I can assure you even bad times end.  You may be in a storm right now, but the sun is going to shine again.  During tough times, you have to maintain this perspective.

You’ve Overcome Challenges Before

This is something we tend to forget when we are going through tough times.  This isn’t the first time you faced what seemed to be insurmountable challenges, but somehow you survived and thrived again.  If you could do it once, who says you can’t again?

You Are Stronger than You Admit — you have lots of strengths

The fact you are still alive signifies that you are stronger than you admit.  In fact, it’s somewhat paradoxical, but you are actually stronger today because of the tough times you made it through in the past.  I know as believer that I have the power of Christ on the inside of me.  As Paul said, I can do ALL things through Christ which strengthens me.  When you are weak, God’s strength is made perfect in you.

Everyone goes through tough times – you are not alone

Sometimes when we are going through tough times we think we are the only one’s facing what we are facing.  No one, regardless of their gender, race or social status is immune to tough times.  The fact is, some of the people you associate with are facing tougher times than you are at the moment.  Just today I was thinking about how tough things are for me at the moment, only to have it interrupted by a phone call that made me reconsider how I was feeling, as I was told about something a friend of mine is going through that made my tough times seem pale in comparison.  The fact is, you are not alone in what you are going through.

Your obstacles are your school teacher – it’s a learning experience

One of the things my wife has taught me is to reframe the tough times and trauma I have faced in my life.  To view each of them as a classroom and to learn the lessons I could from them to strengthen me in the future.  I can say this, it works.  It has totally changed my perspective about tough times.  Who knows, the lessons you learn during the tough time may serve as inspiration to someone else going through tough times.  I believe God turns messes into messages and tests into testimonies.

You can always ask for help – support is available for the asking

One of the things we tend to do when we are going through tough times is to isolate ourselves.  When times are tough and we are depressed the first thing we want to do is crawl in bed and pull the covers over our head in attempt to escape what is going on.  But, that doesn’t work in the long run.  One of the things I have discovered when I am going through tough times is, if I reach out for help from a friend or confidant, they are more than happy to listen to what’s going on, encourage me to not give up, and to offer advice if I want it.  I am so grateful for the friends I’ve had that have stood by me and supported me when I ask for their help.  Don’t be too proud of afraid to ask others for help when you need it.

You must stop and smell the roses

Tough times can be so difficult that we lose sight of how blessed we are, and become blinded to what we still have in life.  It is important when going through tough times to understand that we still have a lot to be grateful for.  When we practice giving thanks for all we have, instead of complaining about what we lack, we give ourselves the chance to see all of life as an opportunity and a blessing. During one prolonged tough season in my life I started a gratitude journal.  I would take a few minutes before I went to bed at night and again first thing in the morning to journal everything I was grateful for.  As I listed out everything I was blessed with, and what I still had even though things were tough at the time, it helped me to change my focus and renewed hope and faith for a better future. And guess what, as my attitude changed so did what was going on around me.

Bonus – God is with you, even in the tough times.

As a believer and follower of Jesus Christ I have learned firsthand that God is always with me. As the scripture teaches, “God is an ever present help in the time of trouble.”

Faithful or bound by society?

 Sexual promiscuity is rampant throughout nature, and true faithfulness a fond fantasy. Oh, there are plenty of animals in which males and females team up to raise young, as we do, that form “pair bonds” of impressive endurance and apparent mutual affection, spending hours reaffirming their partnership by snuggling together like prairie voles or singing hooty, doo-wop love songs like gibbons, or dancing goofily like blue-footed boobies.

Yet as biologists have discovered through the application of DNA paternity tests to the offspring of these bonded pairs, social monogamy is very rarely accompanied by sexual, or genetic, monogamy. Assay the kids in a given brood, whether of birds, voles, lesser apes, foxes or any other pair-bonding species, and anywhere from 10 to 70 percent will prove to have been sired by somebody other than the resident male.

As David Barash, a professor of psychology at the University of Washington in Seattle, put it with Cole Porter flair: Infants have their infancy; adults, adultery. Barash, who wrote “The Myth of Monogamy” with his psychiatrist-wife, Judith Eve Lipton, cited a scene from the movie “Heartburn” in which a Nora Ephronesque character complains to her father about her husband’s philanderings and the father quips that if she’d wanted fidelity, she should have married a swan. Fat lot of good that would have done her, Barash said: we now know that swans can cheat, too. Instead, the heroine might have considered union with Diplozoon paradoxum, a flatworm that lives in gills of freshwater fish. “Males and females meet each other as adolescents, and their bodies literally fuse together, whereupon they remain faithful until death,” Barash said. “That’s the only species I know of in which there seems to be 100 percent monogamy.” And where the only hearts burned belong to the unlucky host fish.

Even the “oldest profession” that figured so prominently in Spitzer’s demise is old news. Nonhuman beings have been shown to pay for sex, too. A male shrike provisions his mate with so-called nuptial gifts: rodents, lizards, small birds or large insects that he impales on sticks. But when the male shrike hankers after extracurricular sex, he will offer a would-be mistress an even bigger kebab than the ones he gives to his wife “” for the richer the offering, the researchers found, the greater the chance that the female will agree to a fly-by-night fling.

Significantly, males adjust their grooming behavior in a distinctly economic fashion, paying a higher or lower price depending on the availability and quality of the merchandise and competition from other buyers.

Commonplace though adultery may be, and as avidly as animals engage in it when given the opportunity, nobody seems to approve of it in others, and humans are hardly the only species that will rise up in outrage against wantonness real or perceived. Most female baboons have lost half an ear here, a swatch of pelt there, to the jealous fury of their much larger and toothier mates.

The Law of Jante…

 

– What do you think of Princess Martha-Louise?

The Norwegian journalist was interviewing me on the banks of Lake Geneva. As a rule I refuse to answer questions that are not relevant to my work, but in this case there was a reason for his curiosity: on the dress that she had worn on her 30th birthday, the Princess had asked them to embroider the names of some people who had been important in her life – and my name was among them (my wife found the idea so good that she decided to do the same when she turned 50, sewing in one corner of her dress the credit “inspired by the Princess of Norway”).
– I think she is a sensitive, delicate, intelligent person – I answered. – I had the opportunity to meet her in Oslo, when she introduced me to her husband, a writer like myself.
I paused a little, but felt the need to add:
– And there is something that I honestly fail to understand: why did the Norwegian press begin to criticize her husband’s literary work after he got married to the Princess? Before that, all his reviews were positive.
It was not exactly a question, more of a provocation, because I already imagined the answer: the reviews had changed because people feel envy, the most bitter of all human sentiments.
The journalist, however, was more sophisticated than that:
– Because he broke the Law of Jante.
Of course I had never heard of this, so he explained what it was. I continued on my journey and discovered it is hard to find anyone in any of the Scandinavian countries who does not know this law. Although the law exists since the beginning of civilization, it was only officially declared in 1933 by writer Aksel Sandemose in the novel “A refugee goes beyond limits.”
The sad truth is that the Law of Jante is not restricted to Scandinavia: this is a rule applied in every country in the world, despite the fact that Brazilians say that “this only happens here,” and the French claim that “unfortunately, that’s how it is in our country.” Now, the reader must be annoyed because he/she is already half way through the column and still does not know what the Law of Jante is all about, so I’ll try to explain it here briefly in my own words:
“You aren’t worth a thing, nobody is interested in what you think, mediocrity and anonymity are your best bet. If you act this way, you will never have any big problems in life.”
The Law of Jante focuses on the feeling of jealousy and envy that sometimes causes so much trouble to people like Ari Behn, the husband of Princess Martha-Louise. This is one of its negative aspects, but there is something far more dangerous.
And this law is accountable for the world being manipulated in all possible manners by people who have no fear of what the others say and end up practicing the evil they desire. We have just witnessed a useless war in Iraq, which is still costing many lives; we see a huge abyss between the rich and the poor countries of the world, social injustice on all sides, unbridled violence, people being forced to give up their dreams because of unfair and cowardly attacks. Before starting the second world war, Hitler sent out several signals as to his intentions, and what encouraged him to go ahead was the knowledge that nobody would dare to defy him because of the Law of Jante.
Mediocrity may be comfortable, up to the day that tragedy knocks at the door and people start to wonder: “but why did nobody say anything, if everybody could see that this was going to happen?”
Simple: nobody said anything because the others did not say anything either.
So in order to prevent things from growing any worse, maybe this is the right moment to write the anti-Law of Jante:
“You are worth far more than you think. Your work and presence on this Earth are important, even though you may not think so. Of course, thinking in this way, you might have many problems because you are breaking the Law of Jante – but don’t feel intimidated by them, go on living without fear and in the end you will win”

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8 Steps to Go After Your Dream and Take Action

 

One of my favorite books is The Alchemist by Paulo Coelho. The first time I read it was on a train from Beijing to Xi’an in China. An interesting train ride to reflect upon one’s dream. To say the least.

Imagine thousands of people on a platform, all eager to get a seat. Unfortunately, we were late booking tickets, and we could only get 3rd class seats, instead of a bed on the train. The train ride took 14 hours.

The people fighting in front of the train doors apparently bought standing tickets in 3rd class. I didn’t know such a thing existed. They brought foldable chairs and literally sat everywhere. Even in the toilets.

There I sat. A Chinese man nodding to sleep on my shoulder, reading the Alchemist. But I didn’t care. The story was mesmerizing. Now, 7 years later, I finally re-read it. And it all clicked.

I’m not a woolly person, but now I’m finally following my dream of becoming a writer, I just understood some things about following your dreams. I identified the following 8 steps from quotes from the book in order to successfully go after your dream too.


#1: Find Your Path

Coelho: “The boy didn’t know what a person’s “destiny” was.

It’s what you have always wanted to accomplish. Everyone, when they are young, knows what their destiny is. […] It prepares your spirit and your will, because there is one great truth on this planet: whoever you are, or whatever it is that you do, when you really want something, it’s because that desire originated in the soul of the universe. It’s your mission on earth.”

I used to hate that word: destiny. But why should I? Call it whatever you want, fate, your calling, a dream or a goal. It’s not some esoteric hocus pocus. It’s SOMETHING that moves you from where you are right now to where you should be heading. And one would do well to follow its directions.

So what do you dream of doing?

#2: Don’t Ignore Your Childhood Dreams

What was it you wanted to be when you would grow old? In kindergarten, we always wrote in each other’s journals to answer questions about our favorite things in life. In addition, we had to write down what we wanted to be when we would be adults. I always wrote down: to be a writer or a chef.

Coelho: “We, people’s hearts, seldom say much about those treasures, because people no longer want to go in search of them. We speak of them only to children. Later, we simply let life proceed, in its own direction, toward its own fate. But, unfortunately, very few follow the path laid out for them?—?the path to their destinies, and to happiness. Most people see the world as a threatening place, and, because they do, the world turns out, indeed, to be a threatening place.

People learn, early in their lives, what is their reason for being,” said the old man, with a certain bitterness. “Maybe that’s why they give up on it so early, too. But that’s the way it is.”

It’s like asking an adult: what would you do with your life when money is no object?

We have responsibilities, bills, we need to “fit in” or please our parents. I went to Business School because I figured I’d always be able to find a job with a degree in business or perhaps ‘make it big’. With that, I lost sight of what I wanted to do most.

#3: Choose Your Path

Coelho: “Making a decision was only the beginning of things. When someone makes a decision, he is really diving into a strong current that will carry him to places he had never dreamed of when he first made the decision.”

When I read the phrase above, I had to put the book down. It’s so true! One and a half years ago, I finally decided not only to write but publish my work too.

Initially, I was working on a novel, but something just wasn’t right. Then I had an idea for a short story about a man who one day found a money tree growing in his garden. My short story blog was born. This decision let me on a magnificent and exciting path.

I found a hidden alley on the road that is my life. I knew it was there, but never before had I been able to find it. Let alone dare enter it.


#4: DO What’s Outside of Your Comfort Zone

When I entered the door, I found there to be a new trail. It was raw and wild, without a road. A huge difference to the road I was used walking on, which was neat and well walked on.

Coelho: “He had to choose between something he had become accustomed to and something he wanted to have.”

Go through your own hidden door. What is it you always wanted to do but never did because life happened? How could you make it work given your current lifestyle? Make time for it.

When you decide to take the plunge, you have to leave your comfortable life. You have to do something outside of your comfort zone (I know, a big fat cliché, but it’s a cliché for a reason). It’s always scary, and I’m not going to talk about the magic that happens outside of your comfort zone. You probably read about that somewhere else.

Just take one small step. If we stick to writing, write 100 words a day.

#5: Change and Take Action

Coelho: “I don’t want to change anything, because I don’t know how to deal with change. I’m used to the way I am.

Why ask more out of life?

Because we have to respond to omens.”

Who knows how to deal with change? Just let it take you somewhere new. Ride the currents with grace. You can be that person who follows his or her dream.

Ask more out of life because you deserve more. You have one shot at life (presumably, but let’s not go there).

Coelho: “There is only one way to learn,” the alchemist answered. “It’s through action. Everything you need to know you have learned through your journey.”

Enough said. Please DO.

#6: Live in the Present

Coelho: “I’m interested only in the present. If you can concentrate always on the present, you’ll be a happy man.

How do I guess at the future? Based on the omens of the present. The secret is here in the present. If you pay attention to the present, you can improve upon it. And, if you improve on the present, what comes later will also be better.”

So you’re taking a chance upon one of your dreams, you’ve listened to your omens. It’s a journey full of obstacles, lessons, and, inevitably, growth.

Don’t dwell on the fact that you didn’t act sooner, you’re acting now. Don’t linger on future daydreams either. I get it, you see yourself achieving your dream, but that alone won’t get you there. Make a plan, take incremental steps to achieve your goals. Do this every day. The only moment you can do something is now.

#7: Ignore the Projections of Others

Coelho: “When someone sees the same people every day, […] they wind up becoming a part of that person’s life. And then they want the person to change. If someone isn’t what others want them to be, the others become angry. Everyone seems to have a clear idea of how other people should lead their lives, but none about his or her own.”

This happens a lot. When you follow something you’re passionate about and chase a dream some people will discourage you. Know that most of them do this because they haven’t done anything about their dreams.

However, accept people’s honest advice when things aren’t working out. You’ll hate them for saying it, but deep down you know if something is working out or not.

#8: Face Your Fears

Coelho: “Tell your heart that the fear of suffering is worse than the suffering itself. And that no heart has ever suffered when it goes in search of its dreams, because every second of the search is a second’s encounter with God and with eternity.

If a person is living out his destiny, he knows everything he needs to know. There is only one thing that makes a dream impossible to achieve: the fear of failure.”

If you don’t know how to do anything, you have to learn it. If you try, you’ll one day die knowing you tried. That’s always better than thinking what could’ve been.

Ask for help. Google. Follow courses. Read about the subject you’re interested in.

Conclusion

Maybe it’s just me, but this book resonated with me so strongly the second time I read it. Perhaps it’s because I feel such a powerful pull into the direction of writing. Like an invisible magnet is pulling me towards the North, the place where I achieve my dream.

I just need to act upon it, become better, face my fears and see where that new alley takes me. Hopefully, I can turn it into a beautiful, well-trodden path of success.


TIME magazine interview

Your new novel, Hippie, is based on your experiences exploring South America and Europe in the 1970s. Why write this story now?

We have lost the ability to hear what our neighbors have to say. We have polite conversations, but at the end of the day, we don’t hear them. There was a moment in time when we were full of hope and we thought that we were going to change the world.

Do you think there was a dark side to hippie life?

There were drugs and sex, but I wouldn’t call those things the dark side. A lot of money was spent in promoting how drugs were dangerous to the world. They are–but I think they are more dangerous now than they were then.

What did your generation fail to understand about society?

My generation understood that once a hippie, always a hippie. Of course, I could not be a hippie today, sitting comfortably here in Geneva. But my values are still the same: simplify your life, eat healthy, respect women. My generation understood the mind and our desire to journey–but then it came time to support ourselves. And it became difficult to broker a peace between the two.

Does President Donald Trump represent the flip side of hippie culture?

I have no comment about Trump. Trump is an American problem. I hate when people start talking about my country and try to give opinions about how we manage it. People need to learn how to survive without America being responsible for everything.

What is essential about the story of your main character in Hippie, also named Paulo, and Karla, the woman he travels with?

We were two people who were very curious about life and all of the possibilities. Karla is the woman who asked me to go with her to Nepal. I went because experience was the most important thing in life–and it still is. Karla and I were able to journey and willing to put ourselves at risk. The book talks about me being in jail and tortured because the military dictatorship did not understand us.

The two have a complicated love for each other in the novel. Have you ever been in love?

I don’t remember not being in love. There are very different types of love. There’s Eros, love for another person. There’s Philia, love for wisdom. And there is Pragma, which is love that goes beyond everything. Having said that, I have been married for 38 years. I cannot see my life without my wife. Every time I go to sleep, I look at her and she is already sleeping. And I say to myself, “Oh my God, this is the greatest blessing in my life, to have found the person who understands me.”

Looking back on the 30 years since your best-known book, The Alchemist, was published, how would you say your life has changed?

The Alchemist changed everything in my life. It was a very slow process that I started when I was 40, so I had time to adjust. I did not become nuts because I went from zero to having a lot of money. What you have to do is learn how to express your soul. And this is what I am still doing. I hope I will write until the day I die.

Is there any chance we’ll see a movie adaptation of one of your books soon?

No. I never see my books as movies. Of course, I was stupid enough, or it was vanity, that when The Alchemist was released in America, it was immediately sold to Hollywood. A book is not improved when it becomes a movie. A book is something that stimulates creativity in the reader. The movie–you have everything already.

 

Hope


According to the dictionary
: a tendency of the spirit to consider something as probable; the second of the theological virtues; expectation; supposition; probability.

For the ancient Greeks: In one of the classic myths of the Creation, one of the gods, furious at the fact that Prometheus stole fire and in doing so gave men their independence, sends Pandora to marry her brother Epimetheus. Pandora brings along a box, which she is forbidden to open. However, just as happens to Eve in the Christian myth, her curiosity gets the better of her: she raises the lid to see what is inside, and at this moment all the troubles of the world spill out and spread all over the Earth. Only one thing remains inside: Hope, the only arm to combat the misfortune that has scattered throughout the world.

In a Hassidic story (Jewish tradition): At the end of the forty days of deluge, Noah emerged from the Ark. He disembarked full of hope, lit some incense, looked around him, and all he saw was destruction and death. Noah cried out:
“Lord Almighty, if you knew the future, why did you create man? Just for the pleasure of punishing him?”
A triple perfume rose to the sky: the incense, the perfume of Noah’s tears, and the aroma of his actions.
Then came the answer:
“The prayers of a just man are always heard. Let me tell you why I did this: so that might understand your work. You and your descendants will use hope and will always be rebuilding a world that came from nothing. In that way we shall share the work and the consequences: now we are both responsible.”

The individual’s three greatest hopes: 1] Meeting the beloved one; 2] to be rich; 3] immortality. (Source: Irving Wallace, The Book of Lists, 1977)

An Arab story: The great Caliph Alrum Al-Rachid decided to build a palace that would mark the grandeur of his reign. Besides the chosen terrain stood a shack. Al-Rachid asked his minister to convince the owner – an old weaver – to sell it to be demolished. The minister tried, but without any success.
Back at the palace, it was suggested that they simply expel the old man from the site.
“No,” answered Al-Rachid. “It will become part of my legacy to my people. When they see the palace, they will say: he was great. And when they see the shack, they will say: he was just, because he respected the desire of others.”

AND NOW…