Be Yourself

Imitation is the highest form of flattery, but the lowest form of self-expression.

Imitation is natural to the child, but imitation ought to give way to authenticity as one matures into adulthood.

Imitation can prime the pump of your genuine, innate self-expression, if you are willing to take the pump by the handle.

“Be yourself; everyone else is already taken.” – Oscar Wilde

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What, With, Where

“Do what you can, with what you have, where you are.” – Theodore Roosevelt

As simple as this advice is, following it quickly becomes a full-time job. The nice part about it is, though, is that the moment you begin living this way is also the moment that you stop wasting time manufacturing and selling excuses for why you haven’t been seizing the day.

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Morning Prayer

“Morning Prayer,” a poem by Gregg Hake

Good morning wee hours,
Good morning day.
Good morning sunshine,
In which I now pray.

I pray for the newness,
Prepared in the night.
I greet it with calmness,
And utter delight!

Soon I shall rise up,
To walk in the light.
To make all things new,
Well into the night.

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Understanding and Forgiving

“Any fool can criticize, condemn, and complain but it takes character and self control to be understanding and forgiving.” – Dale Carnegie

People criticize, condemn, and complain in order to establish their relative value in the world. Doing so, however, reveals that they haven’t a clue about their absolute value.

In reality, each and every person on earth is a valuable member of the body of humanity. Each one is born with a purpose, and criticism, condemnation, and complaint are little more than impediments to the revelation of that purpose.

Understanding and forgiveness, however, on the other hand, clear the way for the expression of the trove of value present in each one.

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“Travel is fatal to prejudice, bigotry, and narrow-mindedness, and many of our people need it sorely on these accounts. Broad, wholesome, charitable views of men and things cannot be acquired by vegetating in one little corner of the earth all one’s lifetime.” ― Mark Twain, The Innocents Abroad/Roughing It

Having been bitten by the travel bug early in life, I have taken just about every opportunity that came my way to spend time in a place foreign to me. At times the destination was distant and exotic, while at others it was some place I had never been just up the road. Regardless of the port of call, I found each trip I was fortunate to take to be enriching, even if challenging or uncomfortable.

Spending time out of the familiar – even if it is an afternoon or a weekend – can wreak havoc on your prejudices, superstitions, and stereotypes in a way that reading about it, watching it on TV or in the cinema, or living vicariously through the travelogues of others cannot. In most cases, doing so expands your capacity for empathy and other “…kindly instincts that nature put in…” (Mark Twain, Letter to San Francisco Alta California, dated May 18th, 1867; published June 23, 1867).

Travel – real “foot on the ground” travel – is the best way to learn about mankind’s many faces and the world’s many marvelous places. So push yourself, dare to experience the world firsthand, and I can assure you that you will learn many things about others, but equally as importantl, about yourself.

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I heard the statement somewhere that “‘Fine’ is the calling card of conformity.” It stood out to me because I believe in living life zestfully.

No one was born to muddle through a life of mediocrity. No one was born to be average, that is, to conform to a state that has all the greatness, adventure, and joy carved out of it.

Leaving aside the obvious attempt to attract guests to a pity party, if you answer “fine” to a question, you’re likely struggling with the fact that you feel disconnected from your inner passion, that part of you knows that you were born to be a great person or to do great things. 

“Fine” says you’ve fallen off the horse and you see the game moving on without you. But where “fine” is a genuine call for help, and is backed by a willingness to be open to the help of another or by a desire to be vulnerable to the call of greatness, it is likely that you will soon find the means to put your foot back in the stirrup and your rear end back in the saddle.

The next time you say “fine,” think about what you’re asking for. Is it the “fine” that says “woe is me” and that contents itself with attention but not a change of heart, or is it the “fine” which marks the reemergence of the uniquely wonderful and special you? 

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