Daily Inspirational Quote

I am free because I know that I alone am morally responsible for everything I do.

-Robert A. Heinlein

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Avoiding Self Sabotage

I have never been contained except I made the prison
-Mary Evans

Sometimes when we try to make significant changes in our lives, we find ourselves drifting back to our old behaviors time and time again. This can be extremely baffling. We have a goal that we know we want to achieve, but for some reason, we keep sabotaging our plans. It’s as if there’s a force of desire within us to maintain our old ways that is overwhelmingly stronger than our force of desire to change.

Self-sabotage usually comes from an unconscious decision that the sacrifices we need to make for change are greater than the benefits. Since all change requires sacrifice, change can only be sustained if we believe that the benefits of the change outweigh the sacrifice.

This is good news for those of us who believe that we are not capable of making a change because we think we are too weak, unintelligent, undisciplined, etc. Because, the truth is, when we believe we have set our mind to a change, and then fail, it is not because we are incapable, it is because we have not truly set our mind to the change.

…well, why not?

There are a number of reasons why we fail to fully set our minds to a change. Here are a few very common reasons:

  1. We do not fully recognize how the change fits with our morals and values.
  2. We are distracted by other priorities.
  3. We believe we are incapable of the change.

Since every change requires some sacrifice, if our goals don’t resonate deeply with our morals and values, if other priorities work against our goals, or if we believe we will fail, we will not feel that the sacrifice is worth making, and we will fail to maintain the change.

So, in order to follow through with and sustain the change that we desire in ourselves, we need to examine our morals and values to see very clearly how our goals resonate with them, examine and adjust our priorities to ensure that our goals fit our priorities, and recognize our ability to accomplish our goals.

This is the gist of Step 4 to long lasting change from my post, How To Change Who You Are, which reads as follows:

Examine your morals and values to make sure that the changes you are planning to make fit in with your motivations and priorities. Every choice you make requires you to sacrifice one thing for another. Sometimes that sacrifice is negligible; sometimes it’s significant. By consciously choosing the sacrifices you make, rather than saying, “I’ll figure it out somehow,” you’ll be much less likely to go back on your choices or lose motivation.

To examine your morals, values and priorities, ask yourself…

  • What is important to me?
  • What do I really want?
  • What is the ideal lifestyle that fits my desires and values?
  • What am I willing to sacrifice to make that lifestyle reality?

Ask yourself these questions without limiting your answers based on what you think is realistic. Anything is realistic if you are willing to take the necessary steps and make the necessary sacrifices to make it happen. We are not limited by our abilities as much as we are limited by our willingness to sacrifice what we have for what we could have. By answering the questions above, we can lift that limit and prepare ourselves for a sacrifice, knowing that the sacrifice will get us where we want to be.

If you have doubts about your capabilities, realize that when you have a deep, persistent desire in your heart to follow a certain path, that desire is a calling from God, your inner spirit, your subconscious, the universe, or wherever you draw your inspiration. A desire is an indication of purpose and a recognition of potential within you.

This belief about desires is a common theme amongst teachings of spiritual and philosophical leaders and religions and is evident in everyday life. It’s easy to recognize that those who love their jobs perform them with greater skill and efficiency than those who do not. And, those who love their lives accomplish more.

So, to eliminate self-sabotage and maintain sustainable changes, listen to your inner desires or calling, then prepare yourself for sacrifice by examining how your goals resonate with your motivations, so that you know fully that the sacrifice is worth making. Then, choose to make the sacrifice and follow your dreams knowing that you are on the right path for you.

In another post, I’ll be sharing a personal story about the limiting belief system I once had about what I was capable of accomplishing in life, and how those beliefs were shattered when I made some sacrifices to improve the condition I was in.

Permanent link to this article: http://beinspiredeveryday.com/2010/01/25/avoiding-self-sabotage/


Climate Change and Inspiration

Blog Action Day 2009: Climate ChangeHappy Blog Action Day 2009. This year, the topic of Blog Action Day is Climate Change.

Climate Change and Inspiration

Our creative power is an awesome gift. There is no other animal on this planet that has the creative power to manipulate their environment the way that we can.

Along with that creative power, we have free will which enables us to exercise tremendous power over our environment. On one extreme, we can choose to use our power to be of service to one another and make the world a better place. On the other extreme, we can choose to use that power to pursue our selfish desires and make the world a worse place to live for everyone, including ourselves.

Most of us live somewhere in between those extremes, but the fact remains that most scientific evidence regarding climate change suggests that we will all need to shift our habits in the direction of environmental stewardship in order to avoid potentially catastrophic changes.

The problem for many of us is that it appears overwhelming to look at this global issue and imagine what we can do to make a difference. The fact is, we already are making a difference. Each one of us has an impact on the health of this planet, and each one of us is capable of changing the direction of that impact.

The good news is, most of the actions that we, as individuals, can take to have a positive impact on this issue are actions that are good for our own health, budget and/or level of inspiration. Here is a list of a few of those actions:

  • Drive Less – Bike, Walk or Jog More. Emissions from our cars is the second largest contributor to climate change. By biking, walking or jogging to places we would have otherwise driven, we are improving our own physical health, saving ourselves the cost of gas and vehicle wear and tear, and reducing carbon emissions in our atmosphere.
  • Make Your Home More Energy Efficient. By using compact florescent bulbs, sealing leaky windows and keeping appliances in good repair, we can save ourselves energy costs, make our homes less drafty and more comfortable, and reduce the amount of coal being burned.
  • Eat Healthier Foods. Reducing meats and packaged foods and adding locally grown foods, fresh fruits and vegetables will boost our bodies energy levels, help us feel and look healthier, save money and significantly reduce the environmental impact of our diets. Processing, packaging and shipping foods is a resource intensive process. Domesticating and raising animals for consumption is many times more resource intensive than raising crops for human consumption.
  • Take Care of Your Stuff. The more products we buy, the more manufacturing, packaging and transportation activities have to occur. The more products we throw away, the more resources have to be spent to manage our trash. When we maintain and take good care of our belongings, especially larger, more expensive items, such as cars and appliances, the more we can rely on them, the more money we can save and the less products will have to be manufactured, packaged and transported on our behalf.

Whether we recognize our responsibility for our impact on this planet or not, the fact remains: we do have an impact. We can change that impact into a more positive one while improving our own lives and the lives of others by being conscious of that impact and making positive changes.

To read more about climate change and what you can do to help resolve this global issue, check out the Blog Action Day site. This is one of 7700+ blogs articles to be written on this topic today, and that number is expected to grow throughout the day [12,000]. If you’re a blogger and you want to participate, it’s not too late to sign up.

Permanent link to this article: http://beinspiredeveryday.com/2009/10/15/climate-change-and-inspiration/


Take Charge of Your Life

You must take personal responsibility. You cannot change the circumstances, the seasons, or the wind, but you can change yourself. That is something you have charge of.
-Jim Rohn

We live in a world of constant change. The only true constant in this life is change. Think about what your life was like seven years ago. Chances are it was quite different than it is today. Seven years from now, it will likely be completely different than it is now.

  • How did your life get to where it is today?
  • What forces were at work?
  • What forces will change your life in the coming years?
  • What will those changes look like?

How we answer the first three questions will have a profound impact on the answer to the last question. There are two main types of forces that we can focus on: internal forces and external forces. Internal forces are those things within us: our thoughts, choices and actions. External forces are those things outside of us: circumstances, the actions of others, etc. The main distinction is that internal forces are those things over which we have control, and external forces are those over which we have little or no control.

Chances are, our lives became what they are today because of a combination of these two types of forces. However, it is almost always the case that the internal forces have the greatest impact by far. Our thoughts, choices and actions are not only capable of directly shaping our lives, but they also influence the external forces to which we are exposed.

There is tremendous power in this realization. As I had written as step 2 in How to Change Who You Are:

Realize that the life that you have today has developed into what it is because of your thoughts, choices and actions. This is an empowering realization as what naturally follows is the realization that you have the power to build the life you want tomorrow based on your thoughts, choices and actions today.

How To Take Control Of Your Life

By focusing on those things that are within our control, we are able to focus our energy where it really matters, rather than wasting our energy on things outside of our control. Here is a list of ideas on how to maintain that focus and exercise control over our lives:

  • Avoid blaming other people, institutions, circumstances, society, etc. for your conditions. This will leave you powerless. Even if you feel you have been wronged by someone else’s mistakes, carelessness or ill intent, focusing on their part will only weaken you. Look at what you can do to fix the wrong and prevent it from happening in the future.
  • Don’t waste your time and energy waiting for or expecting political, social or economic change to make your life better. As individuals, we have little influence on these things. We can each do our part to change the world, but we have to be prepared for a result that is not aligned with our values or desires. Other people will have different values, desires and points of view that may influence the world in a different direction. When we shift our focus on the power we have, we usually find that the political, social or economic issues we may feel compelled to change are not as significant in our day to day life as the things we do have control over, such as our relationships, spiritual growth, the message we share with others, etc. And in that way, we can usually do much more to change the world.
  • Always look for and own up to your part in any conflict. It is your responsibility to take ownership for your part in a conflict. It is not your responsibility to identify the parts others play in a conflict. That is the their responsibility whether they choose to take it or not. When you identify your roll, you identify your influence over the situation and empower yourself to make change happen.
  • Practice gratitude. The simple act of gratitude helps us identify our desires that are being fulfilled, and in doing so, we identify our power to multiply those desires. Gratitude puts us in a positive frame of mind which motivates, energizes and propels us toward our desires.

As the world continues to change and our lives inevitably continue to change with it, our power to shape those changes is rooted in our willingness to take responsibility for our own lives and to recognize our own power. God did not place us here as powerless beings to helplessly drift with the changes. Like God, we are creators. We create our own lives, and our creation has a ripple effect throughout the universe. Whether you choose to take responsibility for it or not, your presence is changing the universe. It’s up to you to decide to direct that change by taking responsibility for the state of your life or to deny that responsibility and allow your power to drift haphazardly.

Permanent link to this article: http://beinspiredeveryday.com/2009/09/30/take-charge-of-your-life/


How To Practice Humility

Humility is the only true wisdom by which we prepare our minds for all the possible changes of life.
-George Arliss

When we lack humility, we may often find ourselves humiliated. The challenge is that most of us want to feel that we have some power and importance in our own lives. The idea of lowering our importance to grow as a person may seem to go against our will to thrive and survive.

Practicing humility makes us teachable, and therefore wiser. It makes us better listeners and therefore more valuable friends. It allows us to examine ourselves and our personal traits without shame or judgment. It helps us get to know ourselves like never before. And, it opens up our hearts to the voice of God.

Humility is required to take the first step in my previous post, How to Change Who You Are:

Take responsibility for your actions as actions, not as a definition of who you are. This allows you to make objective, non-judgmental observations of yourself that lead to motivated activities rather than paralysis from shame.

What is humility?

Oxford American Dictionary defines humility as “a modest or low view of one’s own importance.” When we talk about humility as a spiritual principle, we’re talking about developing an honest, accurate and objective view of our importance in the universe. We might say that, through humility, we are developing an understanding of God’s view of us as individuals.

Humility is not low self-esteem. In fact, it’s quite the opposite. With humility, our self-esteem is not attached to our personal traits, physical appearance, wealth, shortcomings, assets or our past. Instead it is attached to the design of our creator who created us with a purpose and gives us the power to fulfill that purpose. With humility, we view ourselves as equals with other human beings.

Someone who practices humility rarely feels insecure or self-conscious. They unflinchingly take credit for that which they are responsible and give credit for that which they are not. Their self-esteem is stable and they are secure with who they are. They feel no need for competition. They learn from the opinions of others, but are not shaken by them.

How to be humble

  • Be grateful for your assets. In humility, we recognize the great qualities and assets that we have, but we don’t boast about them. Instead, we are grateful for them as gifts we have been given. Think about all the things you like about yourself and those things others like about you. Do you have intelligence, motivation, charm or some other great qualities? Express gratitude for those qualities and you will find humility.
  • Be grateful for your challenges and shortcomings. If you struggle with feeling that you are less motivated, less attractive or less intelligent than others, be grateful for the perspective and learning experience that apparent shortcoming offers you. Life is about growth and change. Every challenge we face builds our character and our assets. When we express gratitude for the challenges we face, those challenges lose their power over our perception of ourselves and become building blocks we can grow on.
  • Do not compare yourself with others. Human Beings are the most diverse and variable creatures on the planet. Comparing one person to another is like comparing apples to green beans. It is this uniqueness that allows us to learn and grow from one another. You were created like no one else in the universe. You were created with a purpose that is shared with no one else. When you compare yourself with someone else, you could not possibly see what God sees in you.
  • Be teachable. The key to wisdom is to be teachable, to realize that you do not know everything, that many things you believe to be true may be false, and that you have much to learn from others. See my posts, Be Teachable – Avoid Growing Old and Stubborn and Hold Beliefs Loosely, for more on this topic.
  • Practice kindness anonymously. When you practice kindness, you transcend the high-anxiety world of selfishness and experiencing the fulfilling sense of oneness with others. When you practice kindness anonymously, you share the vision of your kindness only with God without the distractions of pride and self-importance which may result from sharing your kindness publicly.
  • Loosen your expectations. No matter how good you are at making plans or predicting outcomes, no matter how strong your belief is that something should be a certain way, life will often produce results you did not expect or did not want. When we hold tight to expectations, we become easily frustrated, disappointed, angry and humiliated. When we take ourselves and our expectations less seriously, we can more easily handle what life hands us and move out of God’s way as we are guided on our unique life journey.

Permanent link to this article: http://beinspiredeveryday.com/2009/08/21/how-to-practice-humility/


How to Change Who You Are

We are not human beings having a spiritual experience. We are spiritual beings having a human experience.
-Teilhard de Chardin

Changing the things that make us who we are seems to be a daunting and impossible challenge. We may often have moments of inspiration and motivation when we stand up to the person we were and take on life with a whole new perspective. Eventually we find ourselves slipping back into our old ways and becoming, once again, that person we tried to get away from being.

This may drain our hope and inspiration and, worst of all, fill us with shame about who we are. Shame drains our motivation and leads to self-loathing. And, if we loathe ourselves, why would we want to do anything good for someone we loathe?

Taking The First Step

The first step to changing who you are is to realize that you can’t. …So, why am I writing about changing who we are if it can’t be done? Because, I’m hoping to change your perspective. What we really need to change is not who we are but what we do.

This may seem like an irrelevant, semantic distinction, but when we define who we are by our behaviors, we present ourselves with a huge barrier. For instance, if I define myself as a slacker, I have to become someone who I am not in order to become motivated. If I, instead, recognize myself as a good person with potential to change and grow who struggles with motivation, then I can face the struggle instead of trying to work against my identity.

Another obstacle we face when identifying ourselves with our behavior is that it becomes a difficult, and possibly humiliating, process just to face the truth about our responsibility in our life situations. We may make excuses about why we’re not exercising everyday because we don’t want to experience the pain of identifying ourselves as lazy or wimpy. Instead, we can simply face the objective truth that we have not made exercise a priority, and then we gain the power to examine and change our priorities.

If I Am Not What I Do, What Am I?

One way to get a glimpse of who we are is to look at our morals, values and motivations. These can help define who we are and what we can achieve and are often at odds with how we actually behave. But, on the surface, even these things can change over time. We don’t usually make a conscious decision to change our values, rather they change over time with experience.

The unchanging definition of who we are lies within our hearts. Each of us has a deep inner voice, or spirit, which guides our thoughts and decisions when we choose to listen. It is when we choose not to listen that we find ourselves confused and discontented with who we are.

Steps to Long Lasting Change

  1. Take responsibility for your actions as actions, not as a definition of who you are. This allows you to make objective, non-judgmental observations of yourself that lead to motivated activities rather than paralysis from shame. See How To Practice Humility for more on this topic.
  2. Realize that the life that you have today has developed into what it is because of your thoughts, choices and actions. This is an empowering realization as what naturally follows is the realization that you have the power to build the life you want tomorrow based on your thoughts, choices and actions today. The alternative to this is to blame other people, circumstances, society, etc. for your conditions which leaves you powerless. Of course, there are often circumstances beyond your control which influence your life, but by focusing on your own influence you find the power to change. See Take Charge of Your Life for more on this topic.
  3. Examine your morals and values to make sure that the changes you are planning to make fit in with your motivations and priorities. Every choice you make requires you to sacrifice one thing for another. Sometimes that sacrifice is negligible; sometimes it’s significant. By consciously choosing the sacrifices you make, rather than saying, “I’ll figure it out somehow,” you’ll be much less likely to go back on your choices or lose motivation. See Avoiding Self Sabotage for more on this topic.
  4. Share your plans with others who will support your decision to change. This is especially helpful if shared with others who are making or have made similar changes. It may also help to avoid sharing with others who may not be supportive until you have achieved some success. The value of having supportive friends and associates can scarcely be overestimated. If you find it difficult to find supportive people within your physical community, find a community online. See Establishing A Support System for more on this topic.
  5. Celebrate your milestones and practice gratitude. It’s more helpful to celebrate time-based milestones as opposed to trying to measure changes you’ve made. For instance, if you have decided to improve your physical health and are focused on, say, 10 pounds of weight loss, you may be frustrated and discouraged if it takes longer than expected or if you gain back some of what you’ve lost. Instead try focusing on 30 days of healthy eating and/or improved physical activity for instance. See Celebrate Milestones To Sustain Personal Growth for more on this topic.
  6. Re-evaluate your commitments regularly to assure that your behaviors stay inline with your personal morals, values and priorities. Recommit to and/or adjust choices you’ve made. Practice self-discipline at times when you forget why you are doing what you are doing. See Staying On Track for more.
  7. Once you have achieves some success, help others to do the same by sharing your experience with them. Nothing solidifies a successful change like sharing your success with another person. This type of service will remind you of your own commitment and perpetuate gratitude for the changes you’ve made as you see others struggle to make the same changes. However, be cautious of becoming preoccupied with the success of others since not everyone will achieve the same success you have. For more on this topic, see The Secret to Mastering Success – Help Others Succeed.

Permanent link to this article: http://beinspiredeveryday.com/2009/05/05/how-to-change-who-you-are/


What Does God Want?

It is from within the heart, not just the mind, that we can know God's will for us. God speaks to all of us every day and God's voice is as loud as our willingness to listen.
-Mary Manin Morrissey

Any of us who have practiced any type of religion know how confusing it can be to try to decipher and remember all of the seemingly arbitrary rules that religion can impose on us. We want to live within God’s will for us, but at times it seems nearly impossible to know what that means.

Religious texts often focus on mundane details about the food we eat, the cloths we wear, the length of our hair, the way we pray or worship, or how to act on particular days of the week or calendar day. Cultural changes and the evolution of language make it especially difficult to translate and interpret the context and meaning of texts written thousands of years ago.

Many theologians and religious scholars devote their entire lives to interpreting the meaning of religious texts. Yet, we still face uncertainties and ambiguities which often fuel divisiveness and conflict between and within religious groups.

So, what happens if we miss something? What if something gets misinterpreted in translation? What if we follow the wrong denomination or sect? Will God condemn us? Will we fail to receive the full benefits of our relationship with God? If so, it seems that God’s gifts are available to very few.

Love: A Common Theme

A lone, wild daisy in the rough.

A common theme that appears in nearly every religion is that to live God’s will, we must live in love. All of the confusing and seemingly arbitrary rules exist to keep us inline with the principles of love. When the thoughts and action of our lives are a reflection of our love for God, ourselves and each other, we will be living God’s will.

Jesus Christ’s Apostle, Paul, repeats this theme multiple times:

Let no debt remain outstanding, except the continuing debt to love one another, for he who loves his fellowman has fulfilled the law. The commandments, ‘Do not commit adultery,’ ‘Do not murder,’ ‘Do not steal,’ ‘Do not covet,’ and whatever other commandment there may be, are summed up in this one rule: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ Love does no harm to its neighbor. Therefore love is the fulfillment of the law.

When we truly love others, naturally, we will not rob, kill or harm them in any way. Our actions will be charitable. And, our hearts will be fulfilled, thus removing any tendency toward materialism, greed or judgment.

The Buddha stated that one who removes barriers to love and lives in love has no need for rules or laws. Their behavior would be naturally virtuous:

All rule and ritual left behind, all
karma blamable and praiseworthy, not
concerning himself with cleansing nor
with stains may one freely fare.

A Course In Miracles takes this a step further by asserting that God and Love are synonymous. And, since we were created by God, God’s love exists in us. We need only remove the barriers to love and we are one with God:

God is but love, and therefore, so am I.

We were born with the ability to recognize good and bad. The need for rules and rituals exists only when we are distracted from our hearts. Most rules of religion aim to remove these distractions. By living in accordance with the principles of love, we can simplify our search for God’s will and know that we are manifesting what God wants.

Permanent link to this article: http://beinspiredeveryday.com/2009/04/27/what-does-god-want/


The Power Of Prayer

For the most part, I’m a practically minded person. I don’t really believe in magic or supernatural. But, I do believe in prayer. Not that I believe if you say, “Dear God, give me what I want,” you’ll get what you want (even if you believe and pray really hard). What I believe is that when thoughtful, sincere prayer is a part of our daily life, miraculous things happen.

When we communicate with our God on a regular basis, we begin to think about our wants and needs as they might appear through the eyes of God. We review our challenges and struggles with the best listener in the universe. We can’t help but gain greater consciousness of God’s presence in our lives. And therefore, our faith strengthens.

Faith is the foundation of all miracles. It inspires us to accomplishment. It motivates us to face challenges we might otherwise fear. Fear is, by far, the greatest obstacle that stands between who we are and who we want to be. Faith squashes fear, and regular prayer intensifies faith.

Thoughtful, Sincere Prayer

Reciting a memorized prayer before going to bed each night is better than not praying at all and has some benefits. But, thoughtful, sincere prayer puts us in a conscious conversations with our God, and like any other relationship, our relationship with God grows with good communication.

We don’t pray to God to inform Him of our needs and desires. God is already aware of our desires and knows what we need. We pray to God to express and reinforce our gratitude and our willingness to hear God’s will and to prepare ourselves for God’s guidance.

The Benefits of Prayer

People who pray regularly live longer, get sick less frequently, heal from illness more rapidly and experience lower stress levels than those who do not pray regularly.

Additionally, prayer …

  • … builds faith.
  • … keeps us in contact with a God who loves us consistently and will not die or leave us.
  • … helps us find direction and purpose.
  • … builds courage.
  • … builds humility.
  • … helps keep our spiritual actions focused.
  • … strengthens our motivation.
  • … arouses inspiration.

There are not many things in life that offer so much for such little effort.

Permanent link to this article: http://beinspiredeveryday.com/2009/03/25/the-power-of-prayer/

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