“Beaming”, a Haiku by Gregg Hake

Your humanity—
Crinkles like an old man’s smile
Beaming to the world

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Goal setting is an interesting topic for many reasons. It is one of those subjects that has a sweet spot in the middle, a golden mean, which allows for an optimal outcome. Aim too high and you will never reach your goals. Aim too low and you’ll never get very far in life. The art of finding the middle lies at the core of creative living.

Goals are likely the source of most of the tension or creative pressure in your life. Remembering that all change requires pressure, you see very quickly that goal setting relates to pressure management. A big goal with a short deadline inherently contains or requires more pressure to achieve than a small goal set far out into the future.

That said, not all goal-related pressures are natural or inherent. Procrastination, for example tends to compress the pressure wave into a very small part of what would typically be a longer, smoother cycle. Conversely, hastening or forcing the actualization of goals crams the pressure wave unnaturally into the beginning of a creative cycle. In either case the pressure wave is manipulated arbitrarily and without respect to the natural rhythm of the cycle.

Now goal setting is only half of the picture. Achieving goals requires much more than simply setting a goal, putting one’s heals up and waiting for the goal to be achieved. As Antoine de Saint Exupéry said: “A goal without a plan is just a wish.” To achieve a goal you must also craft a plan. That plan must be realistic. It must take into account available resources, limitations, and opportunities. And typically there must be agreement with respect to it amongst all involved if it is to be accomplished.

Goals of any size can typically be broken down into their constituent parts, bite-sized morsels that make even the largest goals digestible by those with even the smallest stomach for change. I often find that the process of breaking them down allows me to plan for their execution more easily. In this regard it is useful to think of larger, more complex goals in terms of phases or stages. It is much easier to plan from the foundation up and the inside out than it is to try and plan the totality of a project all at once.

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Greatest Virtues

“There is no doubt that it is around the family and the home that all the greatest virtues, the most dominating virtues of human, are created, strengthened and maintained.” ― Winston S. Churchill

Family – true family – is the seedbed of virtue. From it nobility of character springs. Prudence, justice, temperance and courage ought to be touched upon at least daily in every family conversation, for the cultivation of these virtues is what prepares man for the daily tests of his mettle.

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“It is therefore of supreme importance that we consent to live not for ourselves but for others. When we do this we will be able first of all to face and accept our own limitations. As long as we secretly adore ourselves, our own deficiencies will remain to torture us with an apparent defilement. But if we live for others, we will gradually discover that no expects us to be ‘as gods’. We will see that we are human, like everyone else, that we all have weaknesses and deficiencies, and that these limitations of ours play a most important part in all our lives. It is because of them that we need others and others need us. We are not all weak in the same spots, and so we supplement and complete one another, each one making up in himself for the lack in another.” – Thomas Merton, No Man is an Island

Do you accept yourself exactly as you now are? Are you willing to be at peace – for the moment – with with yourself and the world around you? If so, you have begun to unlock the secret of acceptance.

Acceptance allows your heart to be at rest. A heart at rest is open to receive inner wisdom. Inner wisdom can and will guide, if you let it.

Now, acceptance doesn’t mean that you give up on the possibility for a brighter future or a stronger, better you, but it does demonstrate your willingness to begin a new cycle with an untroubled heart. Acceptance does not imply capitulation, neither does it denote an abandonment of responsibility. In fact, inherent in acceptance is the determination to let love and truth shape the future, rather than opinion and judgment.

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“When we give cheerfully and accept gratefully, everyone is blessed.” ― Maya Angelou

To be a blessing you must give and receive cheerfully, gratefully, and gracefully. So give your all and receive with everything you’ve got…only gracious giving and receiving softens the hardened soul.

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The Capacity for Surprise

“Our brightest blazes of gladness are commonly kindled by unexpected sparks.” ― Samuel Johnson

One of the defining characteristics of youth – whether one is young in body or young at heart – is the capacity for surprise. That capacity can weaken over time, especially if you take the attitude that you’ve “seen it all” or if you ascribe to the belief that there is “nothing new under the sun”, but it can strengthen, too, if you make a habit of identifying the novelty in each and every new moment.

Each and every present moment is a unique configuration of factors which will never repeat themselves. This is as true at the atomic level as it is at the level of circumstance. To harden your heart to surprise is to deny the very nature of life itself.

Life is perpetually changing and eternally new, despite human beings’ relentless attempt put the new wine of life into old bottles. This does not change life itself, but it certainly does change ones’ perception of life. Life need not be a dreary wasteland devoid of the sparks of surprise and the warm glow of gladness, in fact, life ought to be exactly the opposite – a constant, wonderful revelation of newness at every turn.

Try to look at your world through new eyes today. Act is if (and it does!) life depends upon it.

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