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You Are What You Believe

June 26, 2015 by  
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I watched an older movie last night–a real chick flick called The Princess Diaries with Julie Andrews and Anne Hathaway.  In it, the soon to officially be made a princess, Anne Hathaway, was being mercilessly teased and insulted by her high school sophomore classmates.  However, she got help in facing it when one of her mentors told her that she would need to give someone that is trying to insult permission for it to work. In other words, you determine whether you are being insulted or not. If you don’t allow what is thrown at you to be an insult, you’ll be okay.

I thought that was some brilliant advice and it works. It made me think of the story of Bunker Bean.  I wrote the story of Bunker Bean in my book Goals, Guts and Greatness, in Chapter 4 which is entitled “You are What You Think You Are”.  The story tells of this very young man, Bunker Bean who had a lot of potential locked up inside him but it was locked so deep he didn’t know about it, which unfortunately is the story of so many people all over of the world.  You see, when Bunker was very young, both his parents died, leaving him alone and friendless and as he roamed through his years he began to develop fears of all kinds.

Eventually he moved into a cheap, rundown boarding house where he met a man who claimed to be a spiritual medium.  This new friend told Bunker that we cast off old bodies when we die, we and are reincarnated as a new person.  Bunker Bean was not well educated and he had never heard of reincarnation.  He was happy to hear that he had been someone else in another life before.  So when his new friend suggested that for a few dollars he would be able to tell Bunker who he’d been in a former life, Bunker jumped at the chance.

The result?  He was told that in his former life he had been none other than the great Napoleon Bonaparte, the emperor of France. Bunker was totally astounded. But he wasn’t sure that he believed it. “How could this be that I, lowly Bunker Bean who fears almost everything, could have been such a great person years ago?”  The medium explained how everyone’s sequence of lives turns in vast Karmic cycles.  For each of us there is a period of ascension and a period of descension and right now Bunker was living in a period of descension. “But there is good news,” the medium said. “Things are now changing, and your life is entering a period of ascension.”

It was at that point that Bunker Bean’s life began to change. He really began to believe he had been the great Napoleon and his brain went through some major changes. So what did he do? He began to learn everything he could about his former self.

Think about your own brain and how, if you really truly believed that you had been a super famous person in a previous life, you could dramatically change your current thinking. We really are what we think we are. Run that thought through your brain for the next week and I’ll finish the Bunker Bean story in next week’s post and tell you what happened to Bunker because of his changed brain.

What We Can Discover in Other People’s Worlds

June 19, 2015 by  
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I don’t know about you but I absolutely love to travel, especially to foreign countries and places I’ve never ventured into before. It excites my mind and does good things for me physically as well. Psychologists have told us for years that the human brain craves and thrives on novelty and also that a brain that gets excited can many times coax or persuade the body to maintain or even create better health. It sure seems to do that for me!

My wife and I just got back yesterday from Europe. Even though I have visited the Netherlands a few times before this last trip, this visit still stimulated my mind and body quite a bit. I am sure part of that was that I’d never taken the high speed train from Paris to Amsterdam and viewed that marvelous scenery. We also stayed in an old and quaint yet very different hotel right on one of Amsterdam’s famous canals.

A few days later my wife and I again took the train but to a city I’d never visited before. Just outside the city of ‘s-Hertogenbosch (commonly known as Den Bosch) we were privileged to watch from our nice fourth row seats a great tennis tournament played on grass as a warm up tournament for the renowned Wimbledon tournament. Interacting and getting to know a few of the wonderfully friendly Dutch people was tremendously fun as well as interesting and mind expanding. I even learned that the Dutch are, on average, the tallest people on the planet.

I’ve thought many times how different the world would probably be if virtually everyone could travel and visit dozens of different countries and cultures. I can’t help but believe that if this were to happen and we all took the time to really study and get to know and understand other people, we would grow to be so much more accepting and sympathetic. It would, no doubt, greatly diminish and maybe even halt the huge conflicts and wars of the world.

Just think about how you try to help one of your kids or friends that are having problems. Most of us try to understand the causes of those problems and the more we discover, the sympathetic we are and the more we can help out. Getting to know and understand other cultures makes it more likely that we will be able to accept, and when needed, help these others people that previously we may have thought were rather strange. Next time you travel to a new place you might want to keep that in mind and see what you might discover.

 

A Profound and Particular Connection

June 12, 2015 by  
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My wife and I recently visited the home of the famous painter Rembrandt, here in Amsterdam. Rembrandt was quite an astute businessman as well as a gifted artist. Unfortunately he wasn’t home when we stopped by—ha ha–but his beautiful artwork was everywhere and it was pretty darn impressive, I must say.

I also had a very short but interesting conversation with a friendly guard at the Rembrandt home.  It all started with a favorite comment of mine that I made as we parted ways. It really seemed to get to him but in a good way.  I said “Have a nice life!” And he enthusiastically said “Wow. Thanks a lot. I think I will plan on doing just that”.  That started the short conversation. But my next comment seemed to really hit a nerve, again, in a good way as he went on to say he’d never thought of the life of human beings in the way I said it.

What I said was simply that I think that all of us humans, even though we are from different countries, cultures, religions and speak different languages, we are all so very much the same. We all share at least one thing in common that should bring us even closer together as humans, especially in today’s world with the killing of so many innocent people in the name of “belief” or different world views.  He wanted to know what that ‘one thing’ was that we all share no matter who we are, what we believe or where we live.

What I said was, “No matter who you are, whether you are rich or poor, educated or not, as powerful as king or a president or as helpless as a new born child, we all are going to die.”  I know that is obvious but it’s something we should think about more often when we are feeling high and mighty or are judging other people and what they are doing with their lives.  The fact is that not one person out of the 7 billion people on the earth right now will be here in another 120 years or so. We all are in the same boat so why not make that the best possible boat in the universe and treat others as our brothers and sisters with great love and respect?

As we walked away from this very kind and interesting Dutch man, I think both he and I thought, “I think I have a new friend”.

 

Great Lessons in Good Times and Bad

June 5, 2015 by  
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This week I was privileged to award 3 scholarships to graduating seniors from Cottonwood High School in Utah. I do it every year in the name of my daughter Kristin, who suddenly died of an eating disorder called bulimia when she was a sophomore at that school. It happened many years ago and anyone who has ever lost a child knows that you never get over it but, given enough time and thought, you learn to deal with it. And with more thought and the passage of time you may even learn a lesson or two.

So in my presentation to the 3 scholarship winners and to 100 plus other graduation seniors that were being honored for various achievements I gave what I think is crucial advice for a teenager and quite frankly I think good advice for all of us including myself. I said, first of all, “Let me tell you that if anyone ever tells you that they have a “perfect life”, I’m here to tell you that they are big fat lairs, or they just haven’t lived long enough yet”. Yes, I got a good laugh out of that line but it’s more than a funny line–it’s pretty darn true.

My second bit of advice that followed my first comment, was that the key to a successful and productive life is not what happens to you , especially if it’s bad stuff, but how you react to the things that happen to you and what you learn from it and then what you do from that point on.

Some people would say to me, “So what the hell did you learn from the tragedy of losing your 16 year old daughter?” Well, first I learned to accept what had happened, even though it took me a couple of years, by telling myself that although I can give up on life and give up on being a father to my other children, that I could just sit around and feel sorry for my daughter and myself for the rest of my life, it wouldn’t bring my Kristin back. I realized how stupid and selfish that would be and I wouldn’t be helping anyone. In fact, I’d be hurting a lot of people, especially my kids.

The second lesson I learned was about caring. I became so much more considerate of other people, even strangers, when I learned of their losses. Prior to my loss I was pretty callous and mainly only thought about myself. For too many of us it takes tragedy to bring us around to understanding the pain other people go through.

From the many comments I got from those graduating seniors, I think at least some of my advice sunk in and I sincerely hope they will still remember that advice when life kicks them in the face and they want to give up and feel sorry for themselves. We all need to burn into our brains that life is not easy, not for anyone (except maybe it seems that way for the big fat liars!) We need to keep getting up when life kicks us in the face and forge on. We also need to look for the lessons that are there for us, from both the good times and the bad times too!