“Can the Science of Purpose Help Explain White Supremacy?

Can the Science of Purpose Help Explain White Supremacy?

A sense of purpose makes us physically and psychologically stronger. But what if your purpose is hateful and destructive?

A sense of purpose is a source of strength.

Frankl and his wife Tilly before the war. Frankl and his wife Tilly before the war.

It was for the Austrian psychiatrist Viktor Frankl when he was sent to the Auschwitz concentration camp in 1944. During his worst moments, Frankl would envision the face of his wife, which led him to this realization: “that love is the ultimate and the highest goal to which Man [sic] can aspire.”

Indeed, during his time at the camp, Frankl noticed that prisoners who were able to see beyond themselves and help others often stood the greatest chance of day-to-day survival. His wife died in Bergen-Belsen, but Frankl went on to turn this personal insight into a lifelong effort to understand the role of meaning and purpose in human life.

I thought about Frankl as I watched video from Charlottesville, Virginia, of men (and some women) marching with torches and Confederate flags, chanting, “White lives matter,” “Blood and soil,” and “Jews will not replace us.” The specific goal of their march? To protect a statue of Robert E. Lee, the general who led Confederate forces in defense of slavery. These were the American descendants of the Nazis who imprisoned Frankl and killed his wife—and there is no doubt that they too share a strong sense of purpose, one embodied in their chants.

As a marcher told a Vice documentary team: “Last night, at the torch walk, there were hundreds and hundreds of us. People realized that they are not atomized individuals, they are part of a larger whole.” This “larger whole” killed one woman and seriously injured dozens of counter-protesters.

As part of a general movement in psychology to turn from studying human weakness to discovering what helps us to flourish, for almost two decades researchers have explored the questions Frankl raised in his work. Research suggests a commitment to goals bigger than yourself can strengthen your physical health and psychological well-being.

But what if achieving your purpose must come at the expense of someone else? Today, what can the science of purpose teach us about the growing movement for white supremacy in America? And how might the answers help us to clarify our own sense of purpose?

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Purpose is intensely personal, say these studies, and yet it is shaped by the people who surround us. The nobility of our purpose often reflects the quality of the company we keep.

The psychology of purpose

“Purpose is absolutely a tricky concept, especially as it is possible to have a destructive purpose,” says Susan Mangan, a Ph.D. candidate at Claremont Graduate University who has studied purpose for years. “The definition of purpose does not require it to be altruistic.”

Indeed, a sense of purpose is defined by its inherent, profound subjectivity. According to Mangan and her advisor Kendall Bronk—one of the country’s leading researchers on purpose—purpose can be broken down into three components.

  • It’s an ultimate goal that shapes your short-term choices and behavior.
  • It is personally meaningful, coming from within. In other words, no one is standing over you forcing you to pursue your goal; you are self-motivated. The goal imbues your life with importance and value.
  • Finally, a purpose in life goes beyond the self, leading you to want to make a difference in the world.

A fairly large body of scientific studies suggest that a sense of purpose evolved to drive us humans to accomplish big things. That may be why it has been linked to a lower risk of heart attack and a longer life: Evolution rewards those with a sense of purpose. Indeed, studies suggest that Frankl’s concentration-camp observations of who survived and who didn’t were probably accurate.

We thrive when we are working for some greater good. Some people find purpose in making others laugh, caring for the sick and injured, or just taking care of their families. Others want to protect the environment. Many people find purpose in religion—spreading the word of God, as Christians say. There may well be as many kinds of purpose as there are members of the human family.

The Nazis had a purpose as well. We can hear an echo of that time in the words of today’s white supremacists.

“When I joined America’s first neo-Nazi skinhead group, suddenly I felt like I could conquer the world,” says Christian Picciolini, who eventually left the skinheads to co-found Life after Hate, which helps rehabilitate former hate-group members. In an Upworthy documentary, he explains: “I’d been kicked out of four high schools, one of them twice, and I met some individuals, and they promised me… that the bullies would go away, that my life would get better, that I’d have a family, and that I would have a sense of purpose.”

That purpose may well have brought good things to Picciolini’s individual life, at least for a little while. But what about the impact of his purpose on American society? Are all purposes created equal, or are some better than others?

The paradox of purpose

Here we must grapple with the paradox of purpose: It’s highly personal and subjective, and yet it always develops in a social context. People don’t get to vote on each other’s purpose, but we are socialized into meaning and purpose. Your purpose develops from the interaction of your psychology and our society, your individual experiences and our collective events, your opportunities and our limitations. When enough individuals share a common, meaningful goal, society can change. That gets back to what is probably the deep evolutionary purpose of purpose: It facilitates cooperation and helps us to achieve our greatest goals.

We shouldn’t be surprised if change entails conflict. In fact, we humans are often at cross-purposes. As our identities multiply, so do our groups—and we use our groups to apportion resources. When we don’t feel there’s enough to go around, we fight. On every continent around the world, it is considered noble to give up your life for your group—there is no higher purpose, by some lights. Indeed, that sacrifice is precisely what the statues of Confederate soldiers are intended to honor. To some, taking down reminders of the Confederacy seems to rob their sacrifice of meaning.

So, who is right? Let’s put aside that non-empirical, moral question, and instead focus on what psychological and social forces drive us to purpose.

The composite picture that emerges from decades of thinking and investigation, starting with Frankl and continuing to the present day with researchers like Bronk, suggests that a sense of purpose develops in tandem with our sense of identity. What kind of purpose children later develop in life is shaped by the values and behaviors of the adults around them. For example, researchers like Jeffrey Froh and Robert Emmons have found that kids who learn to practice gratitude will be better able to see beyond themselves, a critical component in the young-adult search for purpose.

Is it possible that gratitude—and other prosocial behaviors like forgiveness—were missing from the childhoods of men and women who grew up to find purpose in white supremacy? Or perhaps their parents and teachers did foster a sense of connection with other people, but restricted it to white people? We can’t know for sure, from a scientific perspective. “There isn’t a whole lot of empirical research on ignoble purposes,” says Kendall Bronk, which she defines as antisocial or destructive. “This is an unfortunate oversight, but—as you might imagine—it’s a little tougher to get reliable participants and large-enough study samples!”

Even so, Bronk wrote in an email to me, “I believe ignoble purposes likely are associated with some of the positive outcomes typically associated with prosocial purposes (e.g., sense of belonging, sense of direction, etc.), but unlike a more positive sense of purpose, they’re unlikely to be associated with other positive outcomes (e.g., humility and empathy).”

In fact, most white supremacists are perfectly capable of empathy and gratitude—but only for members of their own group. How do we know this? Because there is a huge amount of research that describes intergroup dynamics and the attitudes of in-group extremists like the marchers in Charlottesville. Children don’t just acquire a sense of purpose from adults. They also learn whose lives matter—and whose lives do not matter.

Studies of people who commit acts of terrorism and mass murder by researchers like Marc Sageman and Martha Crenshaw converge with wider research on intergroup conflict to reveal the roots of atrocities. It’s not individual-level dysfunction; there is no consistent psychological profile that predicts who will become a “terrorist.” Instead, researchers find the roots of group violence in the groups themselves. People with a strong sense of purpose kill for other people. They kill for their families, tribes, nations. They are part of groups that valorize aggression and deceit against outsiders.

Many of our political conflicts in the United States—as Charlottesville suggests—are really about who belongs in the group. Should we remember Robert E. Lee as American, or was he a traitor? Are African-Americans American, or does each one need to produce a birth certificate, as President Trump demanded of President Obama? Are those two concepts of “American” mutually exclusive? These kinds of conflict create feelings of social uncertainty, where many Americans are not at all sure of who they are or where they belong.

In that kind of ambiguous, insecure situation, many cultural and social factors could interact with each other to warp the identity and purpose of each individual. When Americans (in contrast to some other cultures) continue to search for purpose in adulthood, after most people have supposedly found one, we tend to become unhappy and desperate. For young and older adults who have failed to find their own purpose, like Christian Picciolini, white supremacy could be an appealing alternative. People also find meaning in work. If they feel cut off from meaningful work, they may be more likely to turn to in-group extremism as a way to make a difference in the world.

A white nationalist demonstrator walks into Lee Park in Charlottesville, Va., Saturday, Aug. 12, 2017. A white nationalist demonstrator walks into Lee Park in Charlottesville, Va., Saturday, Aug. 12, 2017. © Steve Helber/Associated Press

Leadership matters, too. One of the roles of a leader is to articulate, clarify, communicate, and nurture a sense of purpose in a group. President Trump came up with a brilliant sense of purpose in his campaign slogan: “Make America Great Again.” Who could disagree with that?

The trouble, however, lies in how those words are defined by their context.

Start with “America.” The president kicked off his political career by promoting the “birther” conspiracy theory (that President Obama was not born a U.S. citizen), and has since campaigned and governed with anti-Latino rhetoric and anti-Muslim policies. Through these words and actions, the Trump administration has consistently tried to position some citizens as more American than others, fostering a sense of conflict among groups.

What about “great”? Is building a wall between the U.S. and Mexico a sign of greatness, or of fear? The next word, “again,” implies we need to get back to an earlier time—but what time is that? Does that refer to the period of Jim Crow and explicitly racist immigration laws? Or does it mean a return to the 1960s, when Americans extended civil rights to disenfranchised citizens and sent human beings to the moon? As goals go, “great again” suffers from a lack of specificity—and its realization splits Americans along fault lines of collective memory and identity.

It’s little wonder the people who marched with torches in Charlottesville wore “Make America Great Again” T-shirts and baseball caps—or that they felt free to march at all.

What is our common purpose?

Of course, we can’t really know for sure why white supremacy, after decades in the shadows, is suddenly making a comeback. But we do know where white supremacy leads, as Frankl’s life and work attests.

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He also reminds us that there is meaning—if not happiness—in opposing racism and violence. In this conflict, a sense of moral clarity is essential. We might choose to march, for a moment, in the shoes of people we oppose, and even try to elicit the good from them, without for a moment compromising our sense of right and wrong, or yielding an inch of public space to their purpose.

“Human kindness can be found in all groups, even those which as a whole it would be easy to condemn,” writes Frankl. “The boundaries between groups overlapped and we must not try to simplify matters by saying that these men were angels and those were devils.”

Out of context, Frankl may seem to be letting people like the Nazis off the hook, but that is far from the truth. He was an implacable intellectual foe of the forces that killed his wife and put him through years of hell. His purpose was wider than simply destroying one group so that another might live. Rather, he sought to help all of us find the “angels” in each other and in ourselves. That, to his mind, is how we become great.

Anti-racist rally in Boston Thousands of counter-protesters dwarf a pro-racism rally on August 19. Source: Boston Globe.

This is a confusing, demoralizing time for many Americans. But as Frankl argued, purpose can help us keep going, even in the bleakest of circumstances. So, what is your purpose? What is the company you keep, and how do the people you know shape and sustain your purpose? Are they a source of strength? Do you know what makes their lives meaningful? Do you know what purposes you might hold in common with them? Could your shared purpose make the world a better place?”


From Greater Good Science Center

“Can the Science of Purpose Help Explain White Supremacy?

Lessons from the Eclipse

We had an interesting celestial phenomenon this week.   Whether it touched you or didn’t, there’s alot to be learned by watching science.  There’s much we can apply to our daily lives.  Here’s a few thoughts on this subject and please add some of your own.

There is little perfect balance in nature.  Even something in perfect balance occurs only rarely, lasts only briefly, and is quickly gone.  The idea of permanence is an illusion. The idea of perfection is an illusion.  Try not to waste you time and energy on searching or striving for either.   No matter how hard you try, everything is always in the process of change.  If things are wonderful right now, enjoy this wonderful moment.  If things are bad right now, know that this will change.

We can never fully appreciate the light unless we’ve experienced some darkness. The light seems to shine more brightly after the darkness.   If we never experienced pain, we would never notice it’s absence.

Everything has at least two sides, we can be looking at the same thing but from different places so no wonder it looks different depending on where you’re viewing it from.  And our view is always changing because we are.

Dark is just dark. There’s nothing about the dark that makes it dangerous. Everything is the same in the dark as in the light.  Remember that all the things that make you feel safe and make life worth living are still there, even when you can’t see them.  The things you need to heal you are also there, even if you can’t see what they are right now.  If you keep feeling around, and don’t give up, trust that you will find them.


Lessons from the Eclipse

It’s National Inperfection Day!

Congratulations!  You’ve made it to the best day of the year, the day we all wait for!  It’s National Imperfection day!  Yes- important to celebrate this by spelling a few words wrong on purpose. Go crazy!  It’s your day!  Anything goes!

What?  This day isn’t already on your calendar?  Is your calendar defective? Yes!  But also perhaps it’s cause I just invented this special holiday just for us.

We spend waaaaaayyyyy to much time and energy hiding our flaws, trying to be better.  Not today!  Today is your day to let it all hang out, baby.  Skip the makeup. Let your hair be dirty. Smell a little bit and spend the day in yesterdays’ underwear.  This day will actually make you a better person.

Why is that?  We focus too much on what’s wrong and when we do that, we miss everything thats going right.  We can ruin a whole day on a flat tire – when instead we can appreciate that we didn’t get fired when we made it in to work late.  There are always so many more things going right in our lives, but when we fixate on whats wrong, we miss living.  We miss all the good stuff obsessing about the bad stuff.  The only way to change this is to have a day where you celebrate everything imperfect.

What a great drinking game for friends!  You can hang out tonight (everyone must be planning to sleep over or Uber or Lyft or taxi) and each one of you can take turns celebrating everything that went wrong and was imperfect.  If you don’t drink, the same game can be played satisfactorily with ice cream or oreos or both. For each bad or imperfect thing, you get to have a spoon or bowl or both!  Because it’s truly great for us when things go wrong because it makes us much more aware of when they don’t happen. And if we never had bad things happen we would walk around oblivious to all the miracles happening around us every day.  Discomfort gets our attention.  We need it. Or we miss too much of what is happening around us and walk around like robots on autopilot.  Not what we want.

You know that imperfect, sloppy, smelly animal obnoxious  boss, co-worker, cousin, or friend you have around you.  It’s because of them that you appreciate everyone who doesn’t have those traits.  So isn’t it wonderful that they exist in your life?  You know all those imperfect, sloppy, smelly and obnoxious traits you have?  Isn’t it amazing that people love you? Isn’t that absolutely fantastic to realize all these people care about you in spite of these thing?  That’s something to celebrate!    Is it possible to cut yourself some slack today and celebrate your imperfections because today you absolutely must because it’s the rule of what you must do on “National Inperfection Day”.  Dig it!

It’s National Inperfection Day!

“Five Invitations: What Death Can Teach About Living, by Frank Ostaseski http://www.dailygood.org/story/1657/five-invitations-what-d . . .

I had to share this with you.  Really remarkable ideas here: RF

“What have I learned from companioning 1000 people on the precipice of death?

Death is not primarily a medical event. Believing the most we can hope for is to make the best of a bad situation lacks imagination. Too many people die in distress, guilt, and fear. We can and should do something to encourage another possibility.

Many people, ordinary people, develop profound insights and engage in a powerful process of transformation near the end of their lives. One through which they emerge as someone larger, more expansive, more essential and real than the small, separate selves they had previously taken themselves to be. This is not a fairy-tale happy ending that contradicts the suffering that came before, but rather a recognition that transformation is possible even in tragedy. The discovery of this capacity regularly occurs for many people in the final months, days, or sometimes even minutes of life.

“Too late,” you might say. And I might agree. However, the value is not in how long they enjoyed the experience, but in the possibility that such transformation exists.

If that possibility exists at the time of dying, it exists here and now.

Death is not waiting for us at the end of a long road. Death is always with us, in the marrow of every passing moment. She is the secret teacher hiding in plain sight. She helps us to discover what matters most. And the good news is we don’t have to wait until the end of our lives to realize the wisdom that death has to offer.

To imagine that at the time of our dying we will have the physical strength, emotional stability, and mental clarity to do the work of a lifetime is a ridiculous gamble.  And so, I want to extend an invitation—five invitations, actually—to sit down with death now, to have a cup of tea with her, to let her guide you toward living a more meaningful and loving life.

Over the past thirty years, as the co-founder of the Zen Hospice Project, people who were dying generously invited me into their most vulnerable moments. They made it possible for me to get up close and personal with death.  In the process, they taught me how to live. I distilled their wisdom into five heart lessons for living fully and without regret.

1. Don’t Wait.

When people are dying, it is easy for them to recognize that every minute, every breath counts. But the truth is, death is always with us. Everything is constantly changing. Nothing is permanent.

This idea can both frighten and inspire us. Yet, embracing the truth of life’s precariousness helps us to appreciate its preciousness.  We stop wasting our lives on meaningless activities. We learn to not hold our opinions, our desires, and even our own identities so tightly. Instead of pinning our hopes on a better future, we focus on the present and being grateful for what we have in front of us right now. We say, “I love you” more often. We become kinder, more compassionate and more forgiving.

2. Welcome Everything; Push Away Nothing

In welcoming everything, we don’t have to like what’s arising or necessarily agree with it, but we need to be willing to meet it, to learn from it. The word welcome confronts us; it asks us to temporarily suspend our usual rush to judgment and to be open, to what is showing up at our front door. To receive it in the spirit of hospitality.

A friend of mine was once invited for dinner at the home of a renowned psychiatrist named Sidney. Sidney was a man of unusual intelligence, insight, and grace. However, in the few years prior to this dinner, his Alzheimer’s disease had taken a toll on his short-term memory and ability to recognize faces.

When my friend arrived, she rang the doorbell, and Sidney opened the door. At first, he had a look of confusion. He quickly recovered and said, “I’m sorry. I have trouble remembering faces these days. But I do know that our home always has been a place where guests are welcome. If you are here on my doorstep, then it is my job to welcome you. Please come in.”

At the deepest level, this invitation is asking us to cultivate a kind of fearless receptivity.

3. Bring Your Whole Self to the Experience

We all like to look good. We long to be seen as capable, strong, intelligent, sensitive, spiritual, or at least well-adjusted. Few of us want to be known for our helplessness, fear, anger, or ignorance.

Yet more than once I have found an “undesirable” aspect of myself—one about which I previously had felt ashamed—to be the very quality that allowed me to meet another person’s suffering with compassion instead of fear or pity. It is not only our expertise, but exploration of our own suffering that enables us to build an empathetic bridge and be of real assistance to others.

To be whole, we need to include and connect all parts of ourselves. Wholeness does not mean perfection. It means no part left out.

4. Find a Place of Rest in the Middle of Things

We often think of rest as something that will come to us when everything else in our lives is complete: At the end of the day, when we take a bath; once we go on holiday or get through all our to-do lists. We imagine that we can only find rest by changing our circumstances.

There is a Zen story about a monk who is vigorously sweeping the temple grounds. Another monk walks by and snips, “Too busy.”

The first monk replies, “You should know there is one who is not too busy.”

The moral of the story is that while the sweeping monk may have outwardly appeared to the casual observer as “too busy,” actively performing his daily monastic duties, inwardly he was not busy. He could recognize the quietness of his state of mind, the part of himself that was at rest in the middle of things.

5. Cultivate “Don’t Know” Mind

This describes a mind that’s open and receptive. It is not limited by agendas, roles, and expectations. It is free to discover. When we are filled with knowing, when our mind is made up, it narrows our vision and limits our capacity to act. We only see what our knowing allows us to see. We don’t abandon our knowledge – it’s always there in the background should we need it – but we let go of fixed ideas. We let go of control.

The night before my open-heart surgery, my 26-year-old son Gabe and I had a tender conversation. Our sharing was filled with reminiscing, kindness, and laughter.

At one point, Gabe became quite serious and asked, “Dad, are you going to live through this surgery?”

Now I love my son beyond words, and like any father, I wanted to reassure him that I would be just fine. I felt into my experience before answering. Then I heard myself say, “I’m not taking sides.”

My answer surprised us both. What I meant was that I wasn’t taking sides with life or death. Either way, I trusted that everything would be okay. I don’t know where the words came from; they spilled from me without censorship. I wasn’t trying to appear sage or to be a good Buddhist. Yet we both were reassured by my response. I think it was because we knew we were in the presence of the truth spoken with love.

I view these lessons as five mutually supportive principals, permeated with love. Five bottomless practices that can be continually explored and deepened.  They have served me as reliable guides for coping with death. And, as it turns out, they are equally relevant guides to living with integrity. To be understood, they need to be lived into and realized through action. They are five invitations for you to be fully present for every aspect of your life.


For more inspiration join this Saturday’s Awakin Call with Frank Ostaseski. RSVP and more information here. 

The above article originally appeared in Spirituality & Health magazine and is excerpted here with permission. S&H was founded in 1998 for people seeking holistic health in body, mind, and spirit. It aspires to help guide the journey to self-knowledge, authenticity, and integration. Its articles draw from the wisdom of many traditions and cultures, with an emphasis on sharing spiritual practices, and look to science to help provide a context for the spiritual quest. Read more from Spirituality & Health here.   “

“Five Invitations: What Death Can Teach About Living, by Frank Ostaseski http://www.dailygood.org/story/1657/five-invitations-what-d . . .

Good Stress? Eustress!

We talk about stress all the time like it’s a bad thing, but it’s also a bad thing to have too little stress. Bernie Clark, a yoga instructor and author, talks about the good kinds of stress we actually need.  Need stress?  Why?

If you’ve ever had the experience of breaking a bone or tearing a muscle, the initial solution is immobilization and rest.  Then what happens once the cast, brace or rest is over?  The joint or appendage is moved for the first time in awhile, and how does that feel?  It hurts!  And it’s really weak as well.  The worst thing we can do to seniors is to put them into hospitals for extended rest.  What used to result in a week or more of bedrest, from open heart surgery to childbirth,is now a wham bam and get on your feet and get moving as soon as  possible!  Sure, this is  influenced by how much this all costs, but it’s also better for your recovery to move and stay moving as much as possible.

This is another reason physical therapy instead of surgery is often a preferred way to proceed now.  Often surgery can be almost indefinitely postponed with the right exercise prescribed by a knowledgeable provider.  Or water therapy.  Or yoga.  You work on strengthening and supporting opposing muscles which reduced the pressure and pain on the affected area.  I just spent a few months having therapy and trigger point injections for chronic tension between my shoulders.  I thought I would give it a try.  But the yoga I’ve done forever was just as helpful for keeping the discomfort manageable, and for now I will save my money.

My girlfriend had a bad labrum tear which is a tear in the hip area, and very painful.  She was recommended to have surgery from more than one provider.  She never did it, and now can walk much better again and put off the surgery and has for over a year.  There are many good kinds of stress. Stress is not bad, it’s just telling you something.  Maybe it’s telling you to leave.  Maybe it’s telling you to rest.  Maybe it’s telling you to try something different from what you’re doing.  Stress can be a helpful thing.  Figure out what it’s telling you.

Many of the people who can have excessive stress are people who’ve never been exposed to it growing up or who have had too much growing up.  I worry alot about the parents who are taking their kids out of school to reduce their exposure to the world.  They are protecting their children, that’s true.  But they are also producing adults who may never be able to survive in the world as well.  Balancing the right amount of stress that is managable is the challenge.  The world is a hard place, and growing up is hard.  You have to have exposure to develop mastery.

The next time you feel “stressed” try to remember and differentiate between the good and the bad stress.  Often it is the “bad” stress that makes us stronger, and if we never have exposure to it. we never figure out how to survive it.  We need to work these mental muscles to figure out how to do just that.   Afterwards, you can feel a sense of accomplish as well as relief.  You’ve just made those mental muscles stronger and that will serve you in your future.


Good Stress? Eustress!

Tidbits towards Happiness- Taglines

We can never go back to change what happened but we always have a choice to be more present today and practice some new choices and behaviors today that can make our tomorrows better.    We all of us humans with feelings have low and challenging moments in our life. Talking with Jill earlier this week, she talked about having a personal “tagline” .  I know I’ve mentioned before in earlier writings that selecting a theme song can be an excellent way to think yourself into situations you find challenging. From the show Allie McBeal, each character had a theme song that would play in their heads in situations that were challenging.  I like this notion. Playing a song in your head like the Rocky theme song can help you feel brave in situations that are challenging.  Having a “tagline” can also be helpful. It’s a saying that props you up and makes you feel a certain way.  The shorter ones are easier to use, and maybe you have some of your own that you want to share (please do, in comments)   It’s a fun google search to look for “uplifting quotes” and try to find one that fits your life or challenging situation you’re facing. In the meantime, here’s a few you might want to try on:  (and in the meantime, don’t stop fighting bitches!)

“Just keep breathing”                                                                                                                  “Because you’re worth it”          (L’oreal)                                                                                      “Put on your big girl panties”                                                                                                     “What if I can do it?”                                                                                                                       “Just put one foot in front of the other”                                                                                     “Self confidence is the best outfit”                                                                                                  “If you want to change your life, the first thing that has to change is you”  (R. Fried) “Always believe something wonderful is about to happen”                                                   “Our greatest glory is not in never falling but in rising every time we fall. – Confucius  “Dance as though no one is watching you. Love as though you have never been hurt before. Sing as though no one can hear you. Live as though heaven is on earth.” – Souza   Nobody can hurt me without my permission. – Mahatma Gandhi                                 “Change will not come if we wait for some other person or some other time. We are the ones we’ve been waiting for. We are the change that we seek. “- Obama                       When I do good, I feel good; when I do bad, I feel bad. That’s my religion. – Abraham Lincoln                                                                                                                                         Attitude is a little thing that makes a big difference. ~Winston Churchill                                        “All that we are is the result of what we have thought”  Gandi

#yoga #yogainspiration

Remember these sentences for the rest of your life.

Tidbits towards Happiness- Taglines

When fireflies in your bedroom start becoming your new pets…..

When I was little and away at overnight camp and already dealing with depression and loneliness, as at home when I felt that way I would hide out alone somewhere, so I retreated to my top bunk in an empty cabin to cocoon.  In the corner of the window near my bed was a spider and a web.  I think I named her Sarah, and it gave me some comfort to watch her and feel less alone.  Now, you might be shivering- ewwww- and I would have to be honest and tell you I really hate insects and spiders like most people, but Sarah felt like a friend and was interesting to watch.  I imagined her coming out and watching me, and I think I tried to feed her, but most of the time she didn’t take what I offered.  She certainly knew she didn’t need to be afraid when I was there.   She never hid.

So being without a dog for me is pretty unusual. I usually like to have two dogs, but I knew Addie would love being the center of attention and she certainly did.  But she’s gone and I find myself without a pet for the first time in many years.  Enter the firefly that suddenly started lighting up in my bedroom when I turn out the lights.  Now most of us aren’t afraid of fireflies at all, and they’re pretty beautiful at night.  This one is flying around the room and I’m finding myself looking forward to seeing her at night.  And I watch for her.  She’s been in my room for a whole week now, and Tuesday  night I woke up my husband to ask if he’s noticed her, and he had, and he’s been enjoying the light show too. Then on Wednesday night there were two fireflies in our bedroom.  I enjoyed imagining they were Mocha and Addie coming to check on me and give me some comfort.  Then last night again just one firefly.

So I’m taking these beautiful visitors to be visits from my sweeties, and them telling me I’m happy with a pet and it’s time to start that rescue search again.  Before I start talking to the spiders again…..and no one will come to my house anymore….ya think?


When fireflies in your bedroom start becoming your new pets…..