Excerpts from Giving to Yourself and Letting Happiness Happen
By John Schmidt
Copyright © 2000 John Schmidt
All rights reserved. This book or portions thereof may not be reproduced in any form without written permission from the publisher except for brief passages used in reviews or a few copies for friends.
4302 W. 51st #121
Amarillo, Texas 79109-6159
From the back cover…
This book is for people who are depressed, down on themselves for whatever reasons. The premise of the book is that when we are depressed we may need to be radically lavish in giving to ourselves, in many small and some big ways, to re-establish a firm foundation of self-love. Then the life can stabilize, and giving to others becomes natural and good. The giving to ourselves and to others, in balance, brings harmony and happiness.
Depression is just one of the many experiences we go through in life, like owning a machine with mechanical problems or being in a group of people we don’t feel comfortable with. The mistake is not so much in being there, but in staying there. We have to move past sorrow as rapidly as possible because so much good in life is waiting to be experienced. In a single day or a few weeks you will have left old ways behind because you started giving to yourself and letting happiness happen!
One poem in the book…
Life: a maze
Love made king
Now here are Chapters 1, 2,
This book is about giving. But not about giving to other people. We need to pause sometimes, release the old idea that if we give to ourselves we are giving selfishly. The ground floor of a building holds up the other stories. It has to be strong. Your foundation is yourself. Before you can give to others, you must make sure you are giving enough to yourself. Then, giving to others becomes a natural extension of your life and no guilt results from giving to anyone, including yourself.
If you are depressed or contemplating suicide, something in you is perhaps asking you to look again at how you have treated yourself in the past. This is not about other people. Yes, some people have hurt you. Some people have hurt all of us. But why should their hurting you allow you to hurt yourself?
I’m not making light of what other people have done to you. I’m just saying that dwelling on the past is not a long-term solution. Revenge, grief, anger—all negative emotions—cannot in themselves create a positive situation. Only positive emotions can create a new, positive life.
So let’s turn around the hurt motif, forget the past and start giving to ourselves all the things we might in the past have said that we do not deserve. If we still want them, and they do not hurt other people, why not give to ourselves now?
I’m talking about simple matters and big matters. Almost every day I do some kind of writing. But you say, “You are a writer; you are supposed to write.” Years ago, I was not a writer. I was a photographer who wanted to write. Did that stop me? Why should it? I was a writer part-time for many years before I became a full-time writer. I wrote for love and fun and let the money come later. Guess what? Enough money comes today and I still write for fun!
So I say, let this book help you throw off all excuses for not living your dream. Then you can get back to what you really want to do and cope with any sadness that is around you.
You may feel like the sun on the cover of this book: apparently boxed in. We are all small suns, lights within bodies. If we never experienced the boxes we call human life, we would never know ourselves. Without using the lower energy levels we call atoms, and our physical, emotional and mental ways of perceiving life, we would never fully experience space. I read a poem once that contained the line: “You will never understand the number one until you have experienced two.” We cannot understand our oneness until we have experienced duality.
Duality does not exist to punish us, any more than the laws that guide energy are here to punish us. But we do have to learn how to use energy and figure out what laws affect us most.
I am not going to dwell much on the adolescence I had, when I almost killed myself. If my father had not entered the kitchen when he did—well, I don’t think I would have hurt myself, but talking to him really helped. I cried hard. I don’t remember why I was so depressed—maybe it just built up over a long period of time—but the very next day I felt better and the idea of killing myself never came back. So I got it all out. That’s why in Chapter 7 I help you find people to call, so you can call somebody and talk it out. Then start praying.
After 30 years of writing, which began in my college days about five years after my first gully experience, I continue to enjoy life. When a negative event happens to me, I can almost always find the cause. Usually the cause is in my head, or an emotion I need to clean up. Life is joy. I let life show me the joy it can bring, and I seldom demand more joy than it can deliver.
That’s not to say I don’t have goals. I just don’t have unreasonable goals. I have goals based on what I enjoy doing right now. Goals come naturally and no one gets hurt in the process. Not even me. Before I wrote this book for you, I gave myself 30 years of other fun writing. If you give yourself 30 years of fun, I promise that you will also be giving to others as you experience more joy than you can imagine possible.
So, my friend, does it sound strange for me to say I love you? I know, I have probably never met you. But since I love all of life, you are part of that life and love. And, you have a Spirit that is alive, as I have one, so I can say that you are my spiritual brother or sister. Spiritual love is very real, as real as any other kind of love. If we expand that love, every human on this planet is a spiritual brother or sister. So no one is ever out of the human family, never totally alone. All you have to do is call a suicide prevention helper and find a brother or a sister.
I hope this book turns your life around. I hope you become so happy that the joy overflows into every part of your life. But give yourself some time. That is what this is all about. Giving yourself love and time.
I’m really quite glad I didn’t kill myself as a teenager. I would have lost 30 years of fun and a bunch of published books. I would have lost the smile I saw recently from a little girl who received a children’s book from me. She didn’t say much, but that smile was worth waiting 30 years for.
You are worth waiting for—your future is worth waiting for. Go for it. This current situation will pass. Let yourself go on and read your next story.
Giving to Yourself
Let me say it like I think it is. Giving to others is great. But as we learn to give to others, we must also learn to give to ourselves. For a while, be radically lavish to yourself. If you are in a mind-set that is sad, try some or all of the suggestions below, or do one a day for a while. See if you don’t feel better. One of those listed is volunteer work. Somewhat ironically, that too is giving to yourself, because we are all interconnected. When we give time to someone else, something odd happens—we feel a lot better!
Imagine visiting the attic at your grandmother’s house. She said you could look around and enjoy anything you find. Go for it! See what you find!
Give Yourself the Long View of Life
The first thing you touch is an old wind-up clock; tiny hands look back at you as if to say, “Make me move.” On the back you turn the key that starts internal gears to sound.
All reasons for being depressed are temporary. Everything passes away, like every rotten day ends in 24 hours, no matter what. A new day comes. Your clock is set by it. You can set your emotional/spiritual clock by it, too. “This too shall pass” is a common saying for a reason.
Every really rotten period is followed by, after a while, a less rotten period. I’m 51 years old. I know this from experience. Ask anybody else who is 51 years old and you will probably get the same answer. Visit a retirement home and ask people if their lives had periods or stages they went through—and did a rough stage flow into a better time?
Gullies are part of the terrain of the planet, as any geologist will tell you. If you fall in a gully, you may lose sight of the mountains close by. But the mountains are still there, waiting for you to later experience. It’s nearly impossible to avoid all gullies over a lifetime.
After a gully can come a long valley, where sameness and boredom may set in. It’s better than a gully, but dull. If a person can set his sights on a goal, a mountain to reach for, a valley can be a place to make rapid progress. I was a photographer for several years and a printer for even more; for over 20 years in my spare time I was learning more about writing. Boring? Well, it could have been. But I knew God had a purpose for the valley. Today, God has allowed me to be a full-time writer and publisher.
I love the mountains, not just because of greater financial and social balance, but because I find a peace up here that I have never experienced before. It’s as if my Spirit is saying, “You were faithful through the gullies and the valley, so I will show you new vistas on the mountain.” I can see beyond myself to other mountains I never dreamed existed. I can see the plan this life was based on. I have come out of my valley of the little self and no longer worry about the path I’m on. All will be taken care of.
The mountain teaches me. The valley taught me. The gullies taught me. I listened, and I still listen. But no view would have been possible if I had killed myself in the first gully.
Give Yourself More Time to Do
Even the Smallest Things
The clock’s hands move very slowly.
Give yourself more time to do the smallest things. We Americans need to slow down. Our lives sometimes seem like a rat maze; we make the same circuit each day or week and end up where we started. We may get fed once in a while, but a maze can get dull, even for rats. At times, let’s turn the maze upside down and play on an open table. We might be surprised what we can see of the world when not so confined.
Take your “To Do” list and break it up over several days, then slowly do each one as if you had enough time to enjoy it—because you do!
I read a story once in which a man asked an angel if anyone could find happiness in scrubbing floors. Her reply was that every act, when made an act of love, will bring its own kind of happiness.
Though our time on Earth is limited, our good is unlimited. We cannot know how many hundreds or thousands of lives we will touch, and how many thousands more will be touched by those we touch. At the same time, quality is just as important. And since we all have this one life in which to grow, radically changing this life is what life is all about.
Give Yourself a Journey to a
Sunrise or Sunset
Next you find a calendar with a picture of a sunrise at the top.
Take a drive into the country at sunrise or sunset. Look into the sun when it is partially hidden by the edge of the world. This probably will not hurt your eyes. A great deal of power comes from the sun, of which we are unaware. Let the sun fill your inner sun; imagine infinity in you. Let the sun heal you with vibrant energy.
Give Yourself Your Joy
The calendar’s year is the year in which you were born. You turn to the month you were born. Someone long ago circled your birthday. Just below the picture at the top are these words...
You will know me best
when you love you, your most.
You will love us best
when you let you be our joy.
Think back to some of the great joys you had from that day to this one. Yes, life has had it downs, but the ups have been great.
Give the Gift of Your Own
The calendar picture atop your birth month features two children playing in a sandbox.
Let’s get back to childlike appreciation of life—enjoy the wonder, innocence, and delightful ability to express love and all sorts of stuff without much personal concern. How grand being a child is!
There’s an emotionally starving child in most of us. He is not a bad child, only a lonely child, a loving child waiting patiently for us to restore him to the inner family. Let’s let him out. Maybe he has been locked in a back room for years.
Go find your inner child if you have not already. Take him out of his room. Hug him. Wipe away his tears.
Yet he may be hiding. He may have lost touch with a world that sometimes tells him he is inferior to what an adult should be. But he will show up if you keep calling.
He needs to know you love him. Yes, you have adult stuff to do, but that does not diminish your love for him. To demonstrate your love, you need to do some little things that are fun. Maybe reading a good book on creativity or invention will help. Or playing with children a little, not just watching—without appearing foolish to anybody.
Once, when I was tired of what I had been eating for the last few years, someone said to look back into my childhood and remember what I enjoyed then. Of course! Peanut butter and crackers, with jelly on top. So now I enjoy peanut butter and crackers from time to time, even varying the jellies for more variety. Let’s go back to childhood’s innocence and joys—find the crackers and smear on the peanut butter!
Give Yourself Permission to Use More
of Your Imagination
In the foreground of the calendar shot are the beginnings of a sandcastle.
Let yourself play, creating something out of thin air!
When I was a kid, I came home one day from a friend’s house where I had gone after school to study. As I put down my books, I heard my mother tell me to go out in the back yard and see what was there.
It was a box, a large shipping crate, as tall as my arm extended up to the wrist, almost as wide as my arms extended left and right. I pushed it on its side. I looked in. Nothing there, and no lid. My dad came out of the house. I said, “What’s this?” He said it was a surprise.
That night in bed, I wondered what I would do with a box. But then, I had not yet let imagination do its thing.
Over the coming months, it was the hull of a ship, a house, a cave, a rocket ship, and much more. My friends enjoyed it too, making it more things than I could have thought of by myself.
On hot summer days I would crawl into my box. My dog might follow me. But he didn’t come in very often. I guess he didn’t trust my box. Or he didn’t trust me when I was in my box. I don’t know.
Sometimes a human being feels boxed-in by life. He can feel the shadows, like a big blanket, and face the bottom of the box and see no way out. But because he can see the bottom, a light source must be somewhere, a way out must exist.
The hardest escape is when the box is on its bottom and no way out appears but the sky. I found climbing out and over is a way.
A box can also be comfortable, out of the hot sun. A place to smell wood that is like no other. A place to see how boards are put together and made sturdy by nails alone. It can be a home, of sorts.
And when tired of the box, the way out is there, as it always was—a call to a dog, one that comes like no other ever has or will—the hug of a dog’s neck and entrance into a house through a back door.
The box will be there again when needed. It will be a way to cross the Atlantic safely, a rocket to the moon. Or a place to rest and be still.
Give Yourself a New Childhood
A third child in the background of the calendar photo is feeling somewhat left out of the action.
Give yourself a new past. Anything you don’t like in your past, make up something else—just between you and yourself. Visualize your new, pleasant past; repeat it to yourself often. Those thoughts will help create a fun future.
Since I didn’t like all of my childhood, I created one in which I was an average or better than average junior high and high school student, and my parents never divorced. I felt more peaceful and my subconscious mind liked it better. Do that for yourself.
I had a dream once in which I went through the transition people call death, and my Spirit, in one instant, erased my past completely. Not one thought of it existed. Now, the good that had been done was not gone; it was someplace, perhaps still doing good. But I had absolutely no memory of the past life.
Pretend this for yourself: Your Spirit has erased everything. You are a totally new person. Yes, you have a house, car, family members and items in your house, but all memories of how you arrived there are erased. You are totally free. From this moment forward, you start a new existence. You can grow easily and efficiently—all doors are open.
Give Yourself a Vacation,
If Only a Day
As you look at other pages in the calendar, you remember that you have not had a good vacation in a long time.
If you need a vacation from life, take it. You have my permission. Take a trip in your car or a boat to the Bahamas. Meet new people. Maybe all you need is a vacation.
At least spend a day at the beach or in some other natural setting. Nature can gently toss us back to a peace in ourselves, back to our spiritual roots.
Give Yourself an Art—Let Your
You put aside the calendar and find some old boxes. Blowing back dust, you open one and uncover old papers. Near the bottom is a crayon drawing you made when you were a young child. You recognize your style in the drawing.
You have a creative, freethinking, spatial right-brain, as well as the logical left. So get out of your left-brain office once in a while and check out the artist just down the hall. He may shock you; he may frustrate you. But don’t continue to say you don’t have time to visit. You need his playfulness; you need his love. You may discover that the pictures he will paint for you are more meaningful than the reproductions hanging in your office.
The artist could be the genius who unlocks you. Let him try. He only wants the opportunity. Turn off the TV a few nights a week to play with paints bought from a hobby store, explore the benefits of a personal journal, or run your fingers over the keys of a little electric piano you can buy for less than the price of a new suit coat. The money you spend will be a pittance compared to the profits in self-discovery and self-love.
The artist wants your time. He may be crying for your attention. Open the door to his studio—imagine it now. What does he look like? How does he look in the light passing through his big windows? Who knows, he may be your Spirit dressed in a smock with a smile on his face.
A life can be a work of art, too. Maybe it can only be seen by angels, but it is real, like we see the patterns in flowers that the flowers themselves cannot see.
We must never put our creative selves on a back shelf simply because they are not materialistically correct. Although we must live in society, we mostly live in ourselves.
Give Yourself Visits to Clubs or Organizations
You Find Interesting
When you were a child you had a variety of activities you enjoyed as much as drawing.
In my twenties, while I was nearing my second gully experience, I was bored. I visited numerous clubs and organizations. I was living near a college campus at the time and a lot was going on practically every night. All I had to do was walk to new activities. I found one of special interest, giving most of my time to a little theater group.
For some people, a 12-Step program is great. The basic steps have been adapted into many human needs, from child abuse recovery programs to spiritual growth programs.
Give Yourself the Freedom
to Be Different
Your little drawing is full of indescribable shapes; it’s a bit hard to make out what you were trying to draw.
Give yourself the freedom to be different. It’s your life; it’s your joy more than anyone else’s.
Current modern world view is that although everybody is individual—made unique by facial structure, skin color, family ties, profession, religion and so on—everybody should measure up to what most people think they should be, in clothing styles, money, facial looks, body structure, attitudes, and many other ways.
When I type on my keyboard, my fingers often have to reach for the letters typed most often, while the fingers of my right hand rest on “J-K-L” and semicolon, some of the least-used keys. This arrangement was designed by early typewriter manufacturers who were embarrassed that their machines were slower than the fingers of typists. So they rolled dice or something and made typing more difficult. Today, almost every keyboard is designed in this hard-to-type way.
Sometimes the world wants us to live and work almost exclusively their way—type on their board, so to speak—and it doesn’t always seem fair, and it’s not always easy.
But we must never forget that our expression is in the typing; they can never have that. Someday, when the world gets fairer, and it will, we will have keyboards that are flexible, and you and I can design our own. For now, we keep typing, loving our uniqueness in this experience.
Give Yourself Freedom
to Look Different
You can almost see the movements your little hand made as you were drawing. You can make out a face, though unrecognizable.
Let yourself look different.
I once heard a song by Janet Bower that contained these lyrics:
Don’t look on the outside;
try to look on the inside.
I’m a lot more than you can see.
Don’t look on the outside;
try to look on the inside
if you want to know the real me.
This face you see before you
may soon begin to bore you
unless you try to look behind the eyes.
If smiles or frowns or laughs
are all you’re really after,
you’ll find I often wear a disguise.
A wonderful lady I knew long ago in Oklahoma said to me about her overweight body, “This isn’t me. I’m better than this.” She loved herself, but did not accept her body as her total reality.
Since our bodies are made up of billions of atoms and particles, many flying out of us or through us every second, how can we say we are fixed forms? The greatest constant is consciousness itself, and it is mysteriously given to us and sustained by a power higher than ours. As we learn to respect our own greatness, we feel better.
Many of us in the West have accepted the muscular Greek man as our model. But if the goal is unreasonable for most of us, if we haven’t the time to build up muscles, then why not live with more practical goals for ourselves, like a balanced physical, emotional, mental and spiritual life?
Many Americans are overweight. We are one of the few generations in human history that has not had to worry about finding enough to eat. However, the genes in our bodies have long memories and are conditioned to store food for times of famine. We may tell our bodies that we have cabinets full of food and there will forever be food at the grocery store, but they do not understand. The solution may involve love and patience: loving our bodies as they are, exercising as best we can, and not adding more tension to our lives by judging our bodies as vastly inferior to the Greek model.
Give Yourself a Harmless Way
to Release Tension
You remember that when you were sad as a child you would get out your pencils, draw, and your sadness would go away.
Poetry is one of my outs. Sometimes poetry is like giving a confession to a priest; most of the time it is just plain fun. I could never not write. I might be into short stories or nonfiction books, but I need to be doing something, and poetry is the one genre that has spanned my entire writing life. Before writing, it was chess. Before chess, it was playing kids’ games.
While I let tension out harmlessly through poems on the conscious level, I let energy leave through dreams on the subconscious level. Just as our bodies take in food and let out waste, our subconscious, emotional and mental selves take in energy and MUST have harmless ways of releasing it.
to Say “No”
When you were busy drawing as a child and a playmate tried to interrupt your work, you knew how to say “no.” You were not always tactful, but you knew the word.
Give yourself the freedom to say “no.” None of us can do everything other people want. The next time someone asks you for a donation of time that would stress you out, perform the little but necessary duty of tactfully saying, “Sorry, I’m just too busy right now.” This is tough love, but survival may require it.
I went to a writers’ conference in the 1970s where a professional magazine writer stated something that has stayed with me. He said that friends used to call him at home during the day to talk about little stuff, which they would never have done if he had been working at a regular job. He had to train them to wait until evening, to respect his work at the office in his house.
Give Yourself a Repeated Prayer
Below the drawing you found is an old Bible.
When my dad came home from World War II, he had a Bible with him, given to him while he was in the Navy. It was a pocket-sized New Testament with a black cover and red edges around the pages. Just before his troop carrier hit the beaches in the Pacific, where barricaded Japanese machine gunners were waiting for them, a lot of the guys had their Bibles tucked away. On some landings, only a few of the guys and their Bibles came back.
You may be in your own personal war, but the Bible is still around. Someone told me once to memorize the Lord’s Prayer and repeat it aloud when no one was near—silently at other times. For many people, almost any obstacle can be overcome if the Lord’s Prayer is repeated enough times. A hundred times. A thousand times. Ten thousand times—whatever it takes.
I have made the prayer special for me. I use “debts” for “trespasses,” “lead us away from temptation” rather than “lead us not into temptation,” and “sorrow” instead of “evil.” My use of “debts” is a personal choice; “lead us not into temptation” gives the connotation that He might lead us astray; and “evil” carries the connotation of power, and I don’t want my subconscious to accept any power greater than Christ.
I had a dream once in which I went above Earth and saw lights, millions shooting up from the surface like beacons, often in colors. I asked a passing Spirit-traveler what those lights were.
He said they were prayers of the most needy and the most holy on Earth. He pointed to a great light in the eastern part of the world. “Those,” he said, “are the prayers presently of over a thousand prayer warriors.” He went away.
Later I saw that great energy field move to another part of the world and descend to people and animals that were hurting. This is one way humans are actively creating a planet of peace.
When you pray, you are having a conversation with someone who can hear you even if you can’t hear him, who can help free you from any situation as long as you are willing to free every human on Earth from that situation. If you are willing to forgive and release all the others, you are opening doors to guidance and other kinds of help. In prayer, I give all problems up to somebody bigger than me.
Besides praying 30 to 50 times a day, I use affirmations to rid myself of thoughts I don’t need and visualize what I do want in my life. I forgive every-one—try to forgive instantly so that I take in nothing that I have to work out later.
Sit down someday and play a game. Imagine yourself in a ball of light. All shadows outside you are pushed back by the light and nothing can penetrate it. Its love fills your entire being and every cell in your body is happier for the experience. Say the Lord’s Prayer or another favorite prayer and keep saying it. Repeat it for several minutes, until you are certain that the power you have in you is greater than anything in the world. One teacher told me to confront an unwelcomed energy with these words, “You have no power in my life!” Then repeat the next words mentally for as long as it takes: “Jesus is love; I am love.” Say them over and over again, until you feel better. And you will feel better because you are better!
Every problem has embedded in it at least one solution. Fixing the mind on a harmless solution will put power where it needs to be; eventually, the problem no longer exists. Another teacher said, “See it right, not set it right”; the setting will take care of itself over time if the seeing stays focused. Abraham Lincoln once said that he had no enemies because he made them all his friends.
Find a support group of positive people. Depression feeds off the alienation in a society. It has no power in a group of strong, happy people. So you can get out of sorrow by getting into a group of faithful (faith-filled) people.
Give Yourself Praise
On the first page of the Bible are these words, “To my precious grandchild,” followed by your name, then your grandmother’s signature. This was your baby Bible, which you thought had been lost. You carefully look at your grandmother’s delicate handwriting; she called you “precious.” You didn’t remember that.
Give yourself praise. Visualize a room that contains a long dining table, prepared for a feast—beautiful silverware, napkins, and candles. Through doors at both sides enter the people you have most admired: well-known inventors, statesmen, spiritual leaders, family and friends. They sit at the table and begin talking to each other.
When you arrive, they stand and give you an ovation. You are seated at the head of the table. Once the applause ends, they resume their seats and continue talking. A lady to your left begins a conversation with you. The food is served.
As they begin to eat, they tell their stories: how and where they grew up, the obstacles they overcame (or didn’t overcome at the time), and what was accomplished.
You are amazed. Some of their obstacles seem like mountains compared to yours. But what heights they attained! And what mistakes they made along the way, yet still were successful.
You are the last to speak. You describe your trials, then your accomplishments. And you say what you intend to do with the rest of your life. They give you another standing ovation, for your courage, your persistence, your deeds done, the positive character traits you are developing—most of all, for the inner Self you have come to love and express.
The dinner over, they withdraw as they came—except the one you admire most, who remains to talk to you. The two of you talk quietly. You see that you would have much to gain by copying this person’s personality traits.
Play this game now. Talk to this one as a friend. Let the person come alive in your mind. What do you want to say? What do you need to say or long to hear?
Once done, you thank the person for talking to you, give a hug perhaps, and leave as you came.
On another visit to this hall, imagine your personal secrets or hurts coming out to you, one by one. You talk to each of them as a friend; you show you love them and will not criticize them.
Once you have talked with each one, your secrets are seated, some in tears, some happy to have escaped a long night of uncertainty, some joyous that you love them for what they are—past energy. All of you enjoy a good meal and talk to one another like old friends.
The highlight of the evening is when each one tells their plan that will enable them to change for the better and never repeat a past mistake. Others are happy to tell of a past good and future promise. The final toast of the evening is to you, who had patience with them through it all. They applaud you. They leave through a door into an adjacent room, where counselors will talk to them further, if they want.
With your past now in the hands of counselors who know and love you, you sit alone at the table. There is nothing more to be afraid of. The only thing that can come to you now is love.
A beautiful woman enters a door with a present for you. Inside is a key. You walk with her into an adjacent hall and to a door you have tried on several occasions to open, but always found locked. Ironic how the key came to you, not by seeking it, but by loving the least in you, the least lovable. Only then were you ready to open this door.
You turn the key. You hear the lock lift. You look again at the lady. Smiling, you open the door to sky and clouds and freedom.
“Go on,” she gently tells you.
You find you can walk on air. No burdens are on your mind. All things are gone that once seemed so important and heavy.
You enter a palace in the sky. You greet people who all know you. Some of you gather and discuss your personal progress, how you have made your life happy by giving to yourself. The others discuss how they have done the same thing in the past. Imagine them and listen to their ideas. They talk of a new world coming, where no one ever feels left out and forgiveness is practiced by everyone because it is so logical.
Try this exercise: During the next week, compliment ten people. You may have a hard time finding something to praise in some people you know, but then, maybe you never looked hard enough before. Even someone vastly different from you may have a nice face, a great laugh, a gentle touch. All we have to do is find the good.
If we do that enough times, it becomes easier to find our own good. I recently had a dream about a white-haired professor who was grading so hard that he was flunking everybody. The dream was telling me to let up on myself, release an old, outdated attitude. Nobody is perfect, so why act the part? Relax and enjoy the learning process—don’t expect perfect papers every time.
On another page near the front of the Bible is your family’s recent history, linking aunts and uncles and cousins.
Give yourself your history. Start your family
genealogy if no one has started collecting or organizing the data. If someone in your clan has begun your genealogy, write for a copy. Learning about the people in your family tree may give you a greater appreciation for the importance of continuing the branch with your name on it. If some of your past relatives are not exactly saints, find others who are worthy of appreciation.
Our ancestors were tough people. We got here, carried in the genes of tough people: People who crossed the sea or the long prairie to get to where our fathers were born.
People who lost limbs or bodies in wars to make and keep this country free.
People who worked hard as European or Asian peasants—hard, every day in fields or about the land in some way to stay alive.
Relatives in the Middle Ages whose faithful obedience to Church, duty, and work kept them reasonably happy.
First Christians who worshipped in hiding, willing to risk life to talk of Christ—and some died.
And on back—tough people, who made it through. Otherwise, we would not be the people we are. We are tough. We are winners. No one has to call us winners. We just are.
One person listed in the family history is an uncle who always listened to you when you were a child as if you were very important. You were, to him. He did things with you when others were too busy. You could tell him anything that was on your mind and he would take you seriously—the joys and the hurts.
Give yourself the freedom to talk about your hurts. My girlfriend and I have had conversations about the differences between the sexes. Guys have their cars, their sporting events, their hobbies, their physically left-brain desire to stay focused on a situation until it’s completed. Girls have their Girls’ Night Out, their special cooking for holidays, and their mentally left-brain centeredness where “right and wrong” may not have many gray areas.
Another “guy thing” is a general inability to talk about their emotions. It’s like a guy is saying, “Don’t bother me. I’m a rock. I like being a rock.” But sometimes a guy needs to build a solid, concrete foundation to a new self. Big old rocks need to be crushed and made into something new. A guy has to give himself permission to feel weak and crushed. If he can do that, a consciousness with greater awareness can be built on it. Until he does, he goes on living in his rock, his cave.
Strong men are compassionate men. Spiritual love flows in them, like the water that makes concrete work. Look at a stream that has cut through mountains. Water is weak-looking; it moves around everything, confronts nothing. But water breaks rocks. Spiritual love makes men stronger by allowing them to talk about and let go tension and hurts that weaken their chances for real happiness.
One physical therapist I know said that old hurts can be like rocks under the skin. She massages them out, but the causes of the rocks are things her client has to work out spiritually, mentally and emotionally. Otherwise, the rocks can come back—maybe not in the same spots in the body, but somewhere.
Man or woman, you have to give yourself permission to let go of the rocks. If that means tears, okay. That is spiritual water breaking up the memory rocks caused by reactions to things that have happened, or frustrations at not being able to do what you want to do.
The rocks will be worked out over time on energy planes higher than the physical. We don’t blame a car for not running if we don’t put gas in it or didn’t fix something in the motor when the first signs of a problem appeared last month. We fix the problem where it lies and get back on the road. Lots of fun awaits us on the highways. Sometimes we need only a bit more gas or a relatively minor repair to one or two parts of self.
Give Yourself the Joy of Forgiving Your
One thing your uncle tried to instill in you was forgiveness. He told you once that a bird cannot fly its highest with a hurt on its back. You didn’t understand that fully when you were a child; now you do.
Give yourself the joy of forgiving your parents and others. If you had a rotten childhood, please realize that your parents may have been more messed up than you ever were. Though they were still doing the best they could, they may have had no spiritual training to fall back on. By spiritual training I mean belief in some Higher Power, maybe church visits, Bible reading, even positive thinking.
Spiritual training is like a safety net. If a high-wire artist is crossing and falls, he can get up and go again. We all have slip-ups—or slip-downs, in this case. But if your parents had no safety net and fell, they really hurt—emotionally, and maybe every other way.
Now, questions for you are: “If I fall, will I hurt as badly as they did? And can I string up a net so that if I fall, I will not be hurt so badly?” They chose their way—life with little or no net. What is the best way for you?
Spiritual training includes forgiveness. Why? Because when we deal with people,if if we don’t always get what we want. Fact of life.
When we were children one of the first words we heard was “no.” Life doesn’t stop saying “no” just because we are adults. We may get “yes” more often because we have jobs, money, and lots more freedom, but “no” is always around and may try to frustrate us.
People say “no” to us all the time—just part of life. If our emotional wants and needs are not met by the people we ask, we need to forgive them. We forgive ourselves when we can’t produce all the physical things we want, so we must forgive them for not giving us emotional responses we want. When we really forgive, we free ourselves to find people who can and want to give us what we need—within reason.
Forgiving parents for any and all problems is like taking off an old pair of dark glasses. Life is bright and alive when we let it shine. The quicker we forgive, the sooner the next good can come. Unforgiveness is like a person continually leaving garbage in the back seat of his car. Pretty soon it builds to where he can’t see out the rear view mirror—the good in his past can’t be easily seen. Then the garbage begins to stink and no one wants to ride with him. But all he has to do is empty out his car and be free of old energy.
Memories are only ideas. The actual events of the past are gone. The only thing we are holding on to are ideas. Any idea can be released. We just need to let it go, replace it with something else, and allow the process to work for us, not against our happiness.
We make amends for past errors by doing good to other people and ourselves; we do not have to make amends directly to the people we have hurt. Would be nice if we could, but sometimes we cannot. We can start today by changing the ideas that created past hurts.
The law of cause and effect has a second law close by, the law of grace. Simply put, grace is non-retaliation. A person says, “I will not retaliate toward you; thus, I free myself from this condition and release you to go your way. If your decision is to hold on to hurt, you will recreate that for yourself, in time. I want to be free from hurt, and am right now!”
So you wish the other person well, say prayers for them, release yourself from the past, and go on, having learned a lesson you will probably never repeat. Congratulations!
Two kinds of grace exist, the one you give and the one you receive. When you give grace to another person, that frees you from the situation. Once you repeatedly forgive everyone to the point where forgiveness becomes your automatic reaction, a second kind of grace comes to you: Heaven responds by giving you more energy, which makes your forgiveness muscles stronger and helps you overcome ALL past debts and less productive attitudes.
Our old attitudes were perhaps not negative or bad, any more than our childhood friends were negative or bad. We simply outgrew them. And the energy that made up our old feelings, once released, has a chance to grow and be recycled into something higher. You free yourself, the other person, and the energy that you are using. Everybody gains.
Give Yourself the Joy of
Your uncle was a take-charge man. He never made excuses. When he was wrong, he admitted it and tried to make amends. When he received a compliment, he took it graciously.
Give yourself the joy of saying and believing this: “I am responsible for everything in my life. No one else is. If a condition or a person is a bother, something in me has attracted that condition or person to me to teach me a lesson.”
Now you are free. Any attitude in life can be changed by you. If there is a condition that is uncomfortable, you can look back and probably see the action that caused it. Or you can see an attitude that created it.
I read a story once where the new queen of a medieval land had taken power but lost the care and attention of those she loved most. As she sat in the throne room by herself at night with a single lit candle beside her, she thought, “I have done this to myself. The people I loved were removed from my life by me. I am a single candle. But the candle is still lit, so I have the power to bring other people back into my life. I can light up this whole room.” And she did. She forgave herself, overcame the fear she had of assuming power over the kingdom, brought back people who loved her, and just let the joy happen.
You realize that as your uncle passed from your life, and many others, new people always showed up. You know you should give permission for new people to come, ones who will accept you just as you are.
I remember a cousin I had as a child who would stop playing with me if a more important friend showed up at her house. I suddenly didn’t exist. I learned that when people remove their attention or friendship, I don’t have to accept that as my reality. I don’t have to accept someone else’s fear as my own. I can find new friends, ones who will keep me as a friend even when the group grows. I have a choice!
Maybe you need to widen your circle of friends without hurting the feelings of those you have. You will not be able to help the ones closest to you now until you get a new perspective, maybe from new people. Good, clear-thinking people are everywhere; new friends are everywhere. Find them.
And not all of them need to be your age. A variety of ages can give you new points of view. One of my best friends, before she passed away, was a woman 40 years my senior; she gave me insights no one else could have. She was a big help in getting me out of my second gully experience.
Play a game. Imagine a thousand people—surely your life will touch at least a thousand people in the next 30 years—standing in a valley, looking at you as your head pops out of a gully, saying, “Come on! You can make it! We love you! You need to be with us later!”
Lots of people are counting on you to be with them later in life. A spouse is perhaps waiting down the road to marry you, or at least someone who will be a great friend. Spirits on the other side are maybe waiting to be your children. A business partner is waiting for you to continue his company’s plans. I’m serious! None of us knows everything that life is going to offer in the years ahead. That’s why colleges don’t offer degrees in fortune telling. Just wait around for the next part of your life; I’m sure you will enjoy it. After 30 years of writing, every book I publish still excites me; and most importantly, I see the good that results.
Be patient for the true loves of your life to show up. Some of us are slow. We get tied up. We aren’t there yet, at our appointed rendezvous. But don’t give up on us, please. We need you like you need us. Whenever you think you are alone, remember this poem:
You are on your own,
but never alone.
You are always home,
in us: those you have met
and those you have yet to meet.
Wherever I have traveled, I have met people who loved me and I loved. When I was in a really bad gully as a teen, it seemed like I was alone. You can’t have a real gully experience in a crowd. But help came to me. By the time the second gully rolled around, I had learned to quickly ask for help. Asking is a sign of strength, not weakness. It means you love yourself enough to give yourself another chance, to crawl up a little on one side and look out onto the valley floor, where thousands of people are waiting. Thank God I looked both times.
Give Yourself Courage
Your uncle was a man who went through many hardships—losses of his wife, most of his children, friends, buddies in two wars, a farm he loved, and so much more. You recall the day you saw him last: as your dad backed the car out of the driveway, your uncle, with a proud look on his face, sat on the porch of his old house at the edge of a small town. Now how could a man who had lost so many times to the game called life look so contented?
Maybe it was your uncle who told you the story of Edison, how a great fire destroyed his West Orange laboratory complex. When it was determined that his men were safe and the fire could not be put out, what did Edison do as the flames leaped high into the sky? He stood there and enjoyed it!
Edison was soon making plans to rebuild. He remarked: “I am 67; but I’m not too old to make a fresh start. I’ve been through a lot of things like this.” Some of Edison’s greatest achievements happened after the fire. If he had given up, electricity would have come to the homes of millions of Americans years after it did.
Like Edison and your uncle, you will find no substitute for going on. Any problem, when written down on a piece of paper, can have a line drawn around it. Once confined and not allowed to spread, it can be beaten. Once possible solutions are written outside the circle, it is outnumbered. It only takes one solution or a combination of solutions to beat it. As one great teacher said, “Whatever man has done, man can do. I can do this thing and I will!”
Your uncle was content, not just because he won most of what he wanted in life, but because he let the loses go, thus freeing his energy for more victories.
You wish your uncle was there with you now. Although he has passed on, you feel his life and love are in you somewhere. They must be; otherwise, you would not feel so good just thinking about him. He was like a guardian angel.
Give yourself an angel. Make one up, or pray for one. It can be a game you play with yourself. And if a miracle happens, take it!
Guardian angels do exist. When I was about ten years old, I went to a public swimming pool with two brothers who were experienced swimmers. They immediately dove into the deepest water; I had to settle for territory no deeper than my neck. After a while, I got bored and went where they were, hanging on to the edge of the pool. I watched them dive from the boards and swim around like fish.
I swam out a few feet, then turned and swam back to the rim. I swam out again, a bit farther; turning, I made it back safely. I felt confident. On about the third venture out, in my turn, I sank. I struggled. My body needed air but it was filling with water. I mentally screamed for help. Almost immediately a force pushed me up from below and my head rose above the water. I breathed, choked, and swam back the few stokes to the pool edge. I grabbed it like my life depended on it, which it did! I looked around, still choking for air. I wanted to thank the person who had saved my life. No one was close by. An invisible force had pushed me up.
In the years since, I have had numerous experiences that I call miraculous. They come to me because I pray, and because I do not disbelieve.
As I look back down my imaginary mountain in the later parts of the journey of my life, I see that when I was in the gullies, an angel was next to me. It’s always that way; beside every hurting soul on this planet is a spiritual being of great power or a connection to a spiritual being. Heaven listens. But we have to give Heaven time to work in our lives.
Think about all the life forms on this planet that can’t see human beings for what they are, either because they are smaller than we are or their senses don’t give them that ability. But we don’t stop existing, right? Being able to see or feel angels should not be our main concern; being guided by greater intelligence, especially the deep, small voice in ourselves, should be our main goal. Then angels will notice us more or visit uninvited; they will enjoy being around our love and peace.
Give Yourself a Miracle
Angels do miracles. Maybe all we have to do is ask for one. Visualize a miracle for a minute. Feel it, see it in your mind. Use every sense you have that applies to the desire you want fulfilled, and live it in your mind. Then ask some part of you or some higher energy to deliver it. Say, “I will wait. I will be patient. I realize that I have to really believe in this miracle before you can.”
Let it happen. Get out of the way. A miracle is coming. Throw away all doubt. Yes, it may take a while. Miracles are sometimes big wishes that take time. But miracles happen.
I have a folder in a file cabinet where I have placed about 30 sheets of paper, each documenting a miracle that has happened to me. Not every one is a “big” miracle, but each was very special when it happened. If I wrote down every miracle, I would probably have over a hundred sheets in the file.
Several times over the years my car has had minor problems, but when I prayed, the car fixed itself. I was unexpectedly laid off from a job when a company was closing its print shop; I bought their printing press and my publishing company became a full-time business ten days later. That same year four financial miracles came to me right when I needed them. Freelance artists, translators, editors and others have come to the company somewhat miraculously over the years; in fact, I call one artist, “Our little miracle.”
This does not count the writing miracles: astounding dreams of humanity’s future, one of which was so long that it came in two parts with two weeks in between; children’s books that come to me, words and pictures, in a matter of hours; poems that are perfect and need no revision; and much more. I no longer doubt the existence of higher energy, and that parts of me sometimes consciously work in a higher dimension. Although I do not yet totally live in a world of miracles, I do not block love and ideas from reaching me—just as intelligent animals live in our homes as pets and learn from us.
Give Yourself Freedom from Monetary Worries
At the very bottom of the box is a cardboard coin bank that has been crushed by the weight of the papers on top. When you lift it up, a penny falls out. You look at the penny and its date. You think about the influence money has on our lives, how it shapes us in so many ways.
When we were small children, money did not frighten us. It was something we asked our parents for, to have the toys and candy we wanted. We didn’t even know where they got it. We only knew that it somehow got us what we wanted.
As adults, why does money, or the idea of lack, often cause people to be afraid? They must be at least a little afraid since they work so hard at keeping what they have. Why, in a world of great abundance, are people so afraid of not having enough? Is lack of abundance a true statement of reality or is it something that society wants us to believe? Does society maintain a power over us by keeping us afraid?
Perhaps if we buy into the idea that the world is a dog-eat-dog place where there are winners and losers, then we will never fully realize our potential. Even if we are successful, we may be trained to feel guilty about those who don’t have what they need because we got to it first. In an abundant world, if I make my spiritual and economic goals, I win, God wins and everybody on the planet wins. Life is a win-win-win situation, not a win-lose situation. I prefer to win for somebody all the time, so I choose win-win-win.
Think about all the so-called “primitive cultures” this world has produced, where people hunted and gathered, satisfying their needs from the environment, needing very few things they could not barter for. They had hard times, yes, but most did not live in fear about their supply being cut off. It just seems to me that we have given our economic control to other humans rather than Nature. Few people worry about this planet running out of energy, but we don’t trust other humans to be so generous or enlightened. What we need to do is get back to a God- and Nature-centered consciousness about money, believing that our economic health is okay, even if it is filtered through human hands. Economic theory and the laws that apply are slowly progressing toward an enlightenment. We have fewer recessions and depressions than in decades past, and we hope that prosperity will continue. Someday we will master economics and never see even a single recession in a thousand years.
Today, we can be thankful for our abundance. Thousands of joys and needs are free, inexpensive, or paid for: sunlight, good health, all the things in our homes that are paid for, conversation with family members, an art that is a hobby, friendships, duties at our jobs that we enjoy, and so on. Happiness is not just in the accumulation of paper money; no matter how high a stack of money a person has, he can always lessen his happiness by wanting more (and usually does). But freedom from the fear of money can come in an instant—just by letting it go!
You look about the attic at all the objects collected. Life has been very generous to you and your family.
Give yourself the joy of gratitude. Be grateful for all you have. You may not think you have much, but if you took paper and pen and started listing every positive physical or financial thing you have, every person whom you have liked or who cares for you, every positive character trait, every good deed you did for people in the last few years, you would not finish the list in an hour! You have so much to be thankful for. You have life. You have love.
As you think back, the happiest people in your family were the givers. And some of the happiest times in your life have been giving times.
A person who only talks and thinks about himself from morning till dark—what he will eat, watch on TV, do in the afternoon and evening—is living only part of life. If even a small part of his day is spent in doing for others, greater joy will result.
Some of us are afraid of service; we think that if we give, our personal needs will not be met. It has been my experience that personal needs and wants are either filled more easily or fall away as unnecessary. John Wesley, the famous religious teacher, was asked in later years why he took such little pay. His answer was that if he lived well on modest pay as a young student, he could continue to do so. He was too busy giving to others to worry about what he didn’t have.
Continuous social giving gradually leads to self-forgetting, frees the brain from self-concern as spiritual love fills in vacant spots as they open. Public service creates a natural high like nothing else.
Giving helps us experience our human unity, not by trying to receive it, but by letting it come in a multitude of forms: in giving at least a dollar to every charity group that sends a request in our mail, by slowing down long enough to carefully examine spring flowers, by saying kind words to the neighbor’s barking dog, by doing without complaint the work our bosses hand us, by taking a minute to really listen to our children, by watching a sunrise as if it were the first of our lives.
When a person eats a meal and parts of the body receive the new energy, every body part feels good, not just the ones that got the most recent nutrients. All of us on this planet get a high from giving. People who receive what they desperately need are able to relax for a while, and that takes pressure off the human community; all of us feel it in a small way. Maybe we can’t mentally or emotionally explain the connections, but they exist.
The unity comes. The peace comes. The purpose comes—a whole new purpose above the status quo: to realize an unknown level of oneness beyond personal differences where no one is left out or feels incomplete. That unrealized oneness is part of us, too.
As you look about the attic, you see love in every object. Every one has been saved for a reason.
Like one of these objects, you were born for a reason; like one of these, you may not know your fullness until years later. As you intensely enjoy these objects of love, you imagine intensely giving to the world what only you can give.
Love is the most powerful energy in the world. Atomic energy cannot sustain itself. Electricity needs a variety of machines to make it work. But love is easy.
Your dog or cat appears at your side on the couch—there’s love. Your child has a silly question and makes you pause and think how to answer without hurting feelings—love. You shine your new car or boat for the umpteenth time—love. You dream of an old school chum not seen in years—love. You sit on the couch and just be quiet, listening for nothing in particular—love. A day when everything goes right (at least most of it)—love.
You never had to take a physics course or even turn on a light switch, but love came to you. Why? Maybe because you are love already. Maybe “like energy” was attracted to “like energy” in you and the attraction was fun. Maybe the whole world is one big ball of love seeking more of itself and more of you—more love. With so much love everywhere around you, rushing to you, my advice is to take it. Accept the fresh breeze, the images in clouds; and if the cat needs a hug, give it.
Give Yourself God
If forgiveness is like dumping garbage out of the back seat of a car, accepting God’s love and guidance is like having a fellow traveler in the front seat who reads the map as you drive. With both, you have a clear rear view, the security of knowing you are heading in the right direction, and companionship along the way. To me, that’s a lot more fun!
The People to Call If You Are
In the phonebook, look in the yellow pages under Suicide Prevention, Counseling, Churches—and probably other headings. On the Internet, seek out websites and their email addresses under Suicide Prevention. When I went to my library, the lady at the reference desk led me to a computer that listed hundreds of suicide prevention centers by state and town.
Some are national. For example, the Crystal Cathedral Ministries of Reverend Robert Schuller (1-714-NEWHOPE and www.hourofpower.org) has hundreds of trained volunteers staffing the phones 24 hours a day.
People are near phones right now waiting for you to call. You only need to call one. But if you can’t get through on the first one you try, call somebody else!
Give these people a chance to help you. Most are unpaid helpers who stay near a phone or a computer a few hours a week on the chance that you will contact them. Isn’t that caring? Isn’t that giving?
It’s the countless volunteers who make suicide prevention organizations work—individuals who have a heart and an ear, who pray that a Higher Power will give them the guidance in what to say, a Higher Power that will take over and lead the caller from sadness to joy. The joy is in each of us. We have to ask for help.
Some of the volunteers went through hell and almost killed themselves. And when the crisis was past, they decided that they could create a new purpose for themselves. If they could save themselves, they can save you—can reward God for what they almost took from themselves and the world.
Some volunteers had a family member or a friend commit suicide. These volunteers never thought it could happen to someone they knew, were shocked when they heard the news, had it all brought home in a real way. They now go out of their way to listen because they care. And they don’t want people who know you to experience what they went through.
Since they have dedicated part of their lives, maybe their whole lives, to saving lives, you make them happy when you call. You make their lives meaningful. They are good listeners. They care. They don’t have to know your name to know they love you. They can practically hug you over the phone.
And you may someday discover you want to volunteer and help other people avoid suicide. To volunteer to be a listener, just call.
You may now purchase the entire book electronically for $3.00 or the hardcopy for $6.99. If you don’t have the $3.00, I will send it to you for free. Just get away from suicidal thoughts and join me as an author or poet at this site! The Contents page tells more about the book.
1. First Words 8
2. Giving to Yourself 11
3. A Humor Break 40
4. The Four Ways 43
5. Find an Art—Poems Here 61
6. What Can Happen When a Person
Commits Suicide 71
7. The People to Call If You Are
Contemplating Suicide 73
8. Final Words 75
Appendix: Recommended 76
If the Son therefore shall make you free, you shall be free indeed. John 8:36