Happy Labor Day

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I hope you and your loved ones have a happy Labor Day!

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Creating Happiness

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Believe it or not, material possessions and other people do not make us happy.  Sure, buying something new can give you a little “lift” in spirits, if that’s the way you think you should be happy.  However, that lift never lasts, and then you’ve got to go out and get something new again.  It’s a never-ending proposition and one that certainly will not bring you lasting happiness.  The same holds true with collecting new people.  When you look outside yourself for happiness, you will always be disappointed.  Whatever lift you feel initially, will not last, and will often leave you feeling even more empty inside.

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However, when we realize that the only happiness that lasts is the one we make ourselves, that is when we will truly be happy.  Happiness really is an inside event.  Only we can create our own happiness.  How can this be done?  First of all, you have to really know yourself.  You need to spend some quiet time with yourself, and find out what might make you happy.  Many times, unhappiness stems from not pursuing those things that really give meaning to our lives.  If you want to change your life, what’s stopping you?  Can you start small, and build from there?  We have an unlimited capacity to improve our own lives, even in just the tiniest ways, and happiness will stem from there, if only we try.

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By working on ourselves we can create our own happiness, and from there, we can change the world.  How can our own happiness change the world?  By bringing happiness into the world, we bring kindness to others, creating a new compassion for others.  Your changes help transform the world you live in.  It’s a pond with ripples radiating out into the rest of the pond where it eventually hits the shore and continues on from there.

 

Putting it all Together

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As you know, I’ve been in the midst of changing my life for a while now.  Sometimes it seems that for every step forward, I take two steps back.  However, lately I’ve been feeling quite optimistic.  Losing weight has been a great “kick-in-the-pants” for me.  I’ve changed my eating and my exercising, and feel much better both physically and mentally.  Of course, there have been days where I’ve felt besieged by life, but those days are far fewer than they were.

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However, I’ve been having a hard time putting all the changes that I want to make together.  It’s hard to fit everything into one day.  My creative life is suffering a more than I’d like, and I’m not de-cluttering my house the way I thought I would.  It’s hard to get much done with the hot weather (an excuse if I’ve ever heard one), but I also have lost a little motivation in regards to these aspects of change.

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I think that my real issue is with organization.  So, my not-so-new goal is going to be trying organize each day into blocks where I work on different things at specific times of the day.  How do you organize your day in order to fulfill your goals?  Let me know, if could use all the help I can get.

What is Wrong with Education?

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I love to learn.  If I’m curious about anything, from the origin of a word to where a country is on the map, I’ll look it up (my geographic skills are very limited, and I’m always looking at maps).  I have an insatiable curiosity regarding almost anything to everything.  I will ask strangers all kinds of questions in order to get to know them.  I’m not pushy, and I try to do it in a friendly way.  I feel that there is so much going on the world and so many stories out there that are so interesting.  Most people are dealing with all kinds problems and I’ve been told that the very fact I ask them how they are makes them feel special.

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My curiosity includes education – of course.  I decided while I was at college, that I’d get two majors instead of the usual combination of a major and a minor.  I had a few interesting conversations with the Dean of Students over this decision, but due to my high grades they let me persue it.  When my children were in school I asked them to tell me one thing they learned that I didn’t already know.  When I home schooled them, the thing that I liked best about it was how much new information I was learning.  There is nothing like learning new things that gets me so excited.  When I first learned who Rachel Carson was, I wanted to be just like her. Most of my heroes are people who not only are highly intelligent, but also people interested in helping others.  The only way forward into a better and more equal future is through education.  Done right, education creates compassion and understanding.  No one who reads a wide variety of international literature can claim no compassion nor understanding. Once you feel what other cultures have experienced, your mind has been opened to new pathways.

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Of course, the point of all this waxing on about education is that a new study by Pew Research Center has shown that the majority of Republican voters believe that higher education is “bad” for America.  That being said, I wonder if they are prepared to forgo Doctors, Nurses, Engineers and computer experts.  All these people do have degrees from universities.  Indeed, many of them have advanced degrees.  These are the people responsible for many of the “little” things that make life a lot better – such as advancements in communications, infrastructure, safety and health care.  This finding simply flabbergasts me.  Please feel free to leave your comments on this subject.  I’d love to find out what other people think of it.

http://www.people-press.org/2017/07/10/sharp-partisan-divisions-in-views-of-national-institutions/

http://www.newsweek.com/republicans-believe-college-education-bad-america-donald-trump-media-fake-news-634474

 

Clutter

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I recently watched a documentary on clutter.  First of all, I must admit that I was pleased that I don’t have the level of clutter in the houses that were shown.  These were typical American homes; however, these weren’t hoarders, just the usual clutter that we’ve probably all seen.  You know, where you can’t walk anywhere except in the ally-ways that have been made.  None of these houses looked like that.  So, they weren’t talking about the extreme clutter.  Just the mostly normal amount of clutter that most families live with on a daily basis.

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However, while I was watching the documentary I was wondering what the effect on people is from just having the “normal” amount of American clutter.  Some of the information that I found includes weight-gain, stress, sleeping problems and anxiety.  This I can believe, since even though I don’t have the amount of clutter I saw in some of those houses, I do have more than my fair share – and it drives me crazy.

While I have no ambition to become a minimalist, I do want to stream-line my life.  I know that I’ve got too much.  Who really needs thirty or so journals? Well, apparently, I do, since I keep buying them.  Or how about twenty or so plastic and stainless steel drinking bottles?  Yes, even though I’ve gone through them, gotten rid of a bunch, somehow, I’ve managed to end up with more of them.  Seriously people?  Do we really need more?

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So, my project for the next few months so going to be getting rid of the clutter.  Have you done this?  How did it work out for you?  And, if you accomplished this goal, have you seen any differences in how you feel?  Let me know in the comments below.

 

Individualism

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In school, we learned all about “individualism” which according to Webster, is a doctrine where the interests of the individual are paramount, and the individual is totally self-reliant.  I was taught this theory by way of understanding that those who went west (“Go West, Young Man!) were the living symbol of this theory, since they were supposedly self-reliant, made it on their own, and were self-made men.  Except this never made any sense to me, because as a child I read the Little House books by Laura Ingalls Wilder, and was aware that no one who went west “made it” on their own.  Houses were collectively raised, crops were collectively brought in and help was there even if it was ten miles away.  Yes, the Laura Ingalls Wilder books were a fiction, however, the fiction was based on facts.  And, the facts proved this theory as a fiction.  Read Laura’s autobiography Pioneer Girl which tells a much different story regarding the help that these pioneers gave each other.

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So why is this myth so popular and enduring?  My cynical thoughts on this are that it’s convenient to use as a way to insist that Americans historically “pulled themselves up by their bootstraps” by themselves.  However, even our first colonies were created by group effort – otherwise they all would have starved.  Individualism is a lie of massive proportions as shown by our elected officials insistence that: education, health care and a living wage are not rights of citizens.  They often insist that our ancestors were all self-made men, and in order for anyone to succeed, all we have to do, regardless of background, education or opportunities, is to work hard. That way, when people don’t make it, we can blame them.

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Therefore, even though plenty of people work two jobs, it’s still their fault when they need government assistance.  That way, we don’t have to have a conversation regarding the fact that low minimum wages are that no one can live on them, poor education, and lack of opportunities.  This blame-game is used for a variety of problems.  Welfare, food stamp and fuel assistance recipients can all be blamed, and that way we can avoid any conversations regarding why working people need so much help.  Meanwhile, CEO pay has increased a staggering 340 times that of the average worker and the poor often pay federal taxes at a higher percent than the rich.  Do you believe in individualism?  Let me know in the comments below.

 

https://www.theguardian.com/us-news/2016/may/17/ceo-pay-ratio-average-worker-afl-cio

http://www.economicpopulist.org/content/poor-pay-more-taxes-5660