LIFE 101
Everything We Wish We Had Learned About Life In School -- But Didn't


It Takes Strength to Be Happy

Happiness is having a large, loving, caring, close-knit family in another city.


Happiness is not easy. It's not for the weak, the timid, the wishy-washy, the easily dissuaded, or the uncertain.

Happiness is not for wimps.

Happiness requires courage, stamina, persistence, fortitude, perseverance, bravery, boldness, valor, vigor, concentration, solidity, substance, backbone, grit, guts, moxie, nerve, pluck, resilience, spunk, tenacity, tolerance, will power, chutzpah, and a good thesaurus.

If you think happiness is easy, think again. The theory of happiness is simple; so simple, in fact, it can be stated in a parenthesis ("to be happy, think happy thoughts") in the middle of a not-very-long sentence. The successful implementation of that theory--that's where the courage, stamina, etc., come in.

We confide in our strength, without boasting of it; we respect that of others, without fearing it.


Our lives are full of happy things we can think happy thoughts about. If we run out of those, there are books, music, and movies full of happy thoughts. All we have to do is focus on the happy things to think happy thoughts, which will make us happy. That's all.


With the pressures and distractions we've already discussed--the Fight or Flight Response, the inaccurate yet all-pervading feeling of unworthiness, habits, addictions, brain parts that filter out good stuff, heredity, and so on--is it any wonder that thinking happy thoughts takes some strength .

It also takes practice, patience, and discipline. It's not an easy challenge, but when you're through, you'll know you've done your work and done it well. You'll be among the strong, the proud, the few.

Be all that you can be. Join the happy.

Do you really think it is weakness that yields to temptation? I tell you that there are terrible temptations which it requires strength, strength and courage, to yield to.


You Don't Have to Do Anything

If you don't like what you're doing, you can always pick up your needle and move to another groove.


Really. You don't. Well, yes, a few biological things, but for the most part, everything you do you do because you're choosing to do it. You might as well admit that. At least to yourself. It makes life easier.

"Have to" implies need, and need is food-shelter-clothing. Everything else is just a "want." Therefore, unless it's doing something to put a scrap of food in your mouth, a few rags on your back, or a temporary roof over your head, you don't have to do it.

All those things you think you have to do, you can tell yourself, "I don't have to __________," and fill in the blank. It's quite liberating. It feels good. Then if you choose to do whatever you declared you don't have to do, that's fine.

You can add, "And what I choose to do, I can do." Because you can.

Hurry Up and Be Patient!

Learn the art of patience. Apply discipline to your thoughts when they become anxious over the outcome of a goal. Impatience breeds anxiety, fear, discouragement and failure. Patience creates confidence, decisiveness and a rational outlook, which eventually leads to success.


The sooner you're patient, the easier your life will become. Really. When you're patient, you can relax and enjoy the ride. Life has its own timing. Although perfect, life often disagrees with our timetables.

You feel so good about life when you're patient. I would suggest that you not delay a moment. Obtain patience at your earliest opportunity. It makes obtaining everything else much easier, and much more fun. And if you don't get all of what you want, that's okay, because you're patient.

Some people like to doctor life--they think they can "fix" it. Life doesn't need a doctor. It's not sick. As KungFucious said, "If you want to doctor life, maybe you need to be patient."

Speaking of doctors, have I told you of all the health problems that can be caused by impatience? Do you know how much stress getting sick causes the body? A lot. People get sick from it. It's best to avoid all that. Your life may depend on how quickly you can get patient.

Not that I want to rush you. Do it in your own time. But hurry.

He ranged his tropes, and preached up patience; Backed his opinion with quotations.


I just hate to see anyone suffer needlessly. You can start by taking a deep breath--all the way down into your lower abdomen. Hurry up and do it before you have to do something else, so you can take your time. That's important.

There. Doesn't that feel better? That's the beginning of patience.

I'm extraordinarily patient provided I get my own way in the end.


Well, I don't want to write more than two pages on patience, and I'm running out of room. I hope I have impressed on you the dire need to be patient. But there's no hurry. If you're impatient, be patient with that. Unless, of course, you have trouble enjoying the moment, in which case, rather than being patient with impatience, you might as well be patient with life, and I'm running out of room for this chapter so I have to run now. By the way, the key to patience is acceptance.

Live Now

We are here and it is now. Further than that, all knowledge is moonshine.


What a strange title for a chapter. "Live Now." When else are we supposed to live? Now, of course. But many people spend a lot of time (that precious commodity for getting what you want) in the past--remembering things that happened, and getting upset about them.

Other people spend a lot of time in the future, worrying about this, that, and something else--most of which probably will never come to pass. (F.E.A.R. = False Expectations Appearing Real.)

Some people are bi-timers. They can say "bye" to the present and go zipping off into the past and the future simultaneously.

Getting there isn't half the fun.-- it's all the fun.


What happened to the moment? No, don't answer that. You have to go back in the past to do so. What about this moment. Oops. Gone. It's easier to pick up quicksilver than to capture the moment.

So don't capture it. There's nothing to capture. It's all here--present, although perhaps slightly unaccounted for. There's nothing to struggle with. When you come back from the past or the future, the present will always be here, waiting.

It won't be the same present, of course. As Heraclitus observed around 500 B.C. (talk about the past), "You cannot step twice into the same river; for other waters are always flowing on to you." Thus it is with time.

I still lived in the future--
a habit which is the death of happiness.


The irony is that there's nowhere to go. It's all here, now, in the moment. The further irony is that you can't go anywhere, even if you tried. If you're in the "past" or the "future," you're not in those places at all. You're thinking and feeling about them --but you're thinking and feeling about the past and future right now. In the present.

We are always in the present, no matter what we do, no matter where we "go." If someone insists, "Come present!" tell them, "I was present--with my thoughts. If you do something more interesting than my thoughts, I'll pay attention to you." That should bring them present.

"Live Now." What a strange title for a chapter.


She knows what is the best purpose of education: not to be frightened by the best but to treat it as part of daily life.


There is nothing you need to do to become worthy. You already are worthy. You don't even have to discover your worthiness. You can feel utterly worthless and still be worthy.

People have said, "I don't feel worthy to be alive." But you are alive; therefore you must be worthy. It's very simple: if you're not worth life, you don't have it.

Worthiness is a given. It has nothing to do with action, thoughts, feelings, mind, body, emotions, or anything else. You are worthy of being because you are. Period. End of chapter.

Worthiness, Part Two

So much is a man worth as he esteems himself.


"If I'm worthy just because I am, how come I don't feel worthy?"

You're not talking about worthiness. You're talking about self-esteem . If you want to think better about yourself and feel better about yourself, learn to improve your self-esteem.

"How do I improve self-esteem?"

Next chapter.


Ofttimes nothing profits more Than self-esteem, grounded on just and right Well managed.


Self-esteem is how you think and feel about yourself--how you regard yourself.

If you were taught that you must be perfect, then your self-esteem might be pretty low--humans are notoriously not perfect. Or, maybe you were taught that everything you do and whatever you do is perfect, in which case, your self-esteem might be pretty high.

Increasing your self-esteem is easy. You simply do good things, and remember that you did them .

Most people already do enough good for some high-level self-esteem. Alas, people tend to forget . They do so much good, most of it's taken for granted and forgotten as soon as it's done.

Make a list of all the good you do. Then review the list. Often. Take note of the often-overlooked good you do. Did you bathe in the past forty-eight hours? Very good. Brush your teeth, too? Terrific. Use deodorant? Excellent. You've done your part in the fight against indoor air pollution. Put those on your list.

Men stumble over the truth from time to time, but most pick themselves up and hurry off as if nothing happened.


Take note of your moment-by-moment life: the people you smile at, the pedestrians you stop for, the friends you support, the relatives you're nice to, the boss (or employees) you put up with. The list goes on and on.

Honestly--you're a pretty decent human being, aren't you? Of course you are. How do I know? Nasty, wicked people don't read books such as this. If they do, they certainly don't get as far as page 442.

If the grass is greener in the other fellow's yard, let him worry about cutting it.


You're great--warm, witty, friendly, kind, compassionate. Now if you only had a better memory so you could remember all this without having to buy books to remind you, you'd be perfect.

Meditate, Contemplate, or "Just Sits"

Sometimes I sits and thinks, and sometimes I just sits.


In addition to visualization, you might like to try any number of meditative and contemplative techniques available--or you might just want to sit quietly and relax.

Whenever you meditate, contemplate, pray, do spiritual exercises, or "just sits," it's good to ask the white light to surround, fill, and protect you, knowing only that which is for your highest good and the highest good of all concerned will take place during your quiet time. You may want to do your meditation in your sanctuary.

Before starting, prepare your physical environment. Arrange not to be disturbed. Unplug the phone. Put a note on the door. Wear ear plugs if noises might distract you. (I like the soft foam-rubber kind sold under such trade names as E.A.R., HUSHER, and DECIDAMP.) Take care of your bodily needs. Have some water nearby if you get thirsty, and maybe some tissues, too.

Contemplation is thinking about something, often something uplifting. You could contemplate any of the hundreds of quotes or ideas in this book. Often, when we hear a new and potentially useful idea, we say, "I'll have to think about that." Contemplation is a good time to "think about that," to consider the truth of it, to imagine the changes and improvements it might make in your life.

Or, you could contemplate a nonverbal object, such as a flower, or a concept, such as God. The idea of contemplation is to set aside a certain amount of quiet time to think about just that, whatever you decide "that" will be.

What would you attempt to do if you knew you could not fail? DR. ROBERT SCHULLER
Meditation. There are so many techniques of meditation, taught by so many books and organizations, that it's hard to define the word properly.

You might want to try various meditations to see what they're like. With meditation, please keep in mind that you'll never know until you do it. We may like to think we know what the effects of a given meditation will be by just reading the description, but I suggest you try it and then decide.

Breathing Meditation. Sit comfortably, close your eyes, and simply be aware of your breath. Follow it in and out. Don't "try" to breathe; don't consciously alter your rhythm of breathing; just follow the breath as it naturally flows in and out. If you get lost in thoughts, return to your breath.

Mantras. Some people like to add a word or sound to help the mind focus as the breath goes in and out. Some people use one or God or AUM (OHM) or l ove . These--or any others--are fine. As you breathe in, say to yourself, mentally, "love." As you breathe out, "love." If you don't like synchronizing sounds to breath, don't. It doesn't matter.

This art of resting the mind and the power of dismissing from it all care and worry is probably one of the secrets of energy in our great men.


It's not so much the sound, but the meaning you assign to the sound. You may use a mantra such as "Ummmm" just because it sounds good--satisfying and relaxing. Or you may say "Ahhhh" represents the pure sound of God. Because you say it does, it will.

Affirmations. Brief affirmations can be used in meditation. My favorites include "God is within me" and "I love myself."

Some people think meditation takes time away from physical accomplishment. Taken to extremes, of course, that's true. Most people, however, find that meditation creates more time than it takes. Meditation is for rest, healing, balance, and information. All these are helpful to attain a goal.

One of the primary complaints people have about meditating is, "My thoughts won't leave me alone." Well naturally --that's what the mind does; it thinks . Rather than fight the thoughts (good luck), you might listen to the thoughts for nuggets of information. If a thought reminds you of something to do, write it down (or record it on a tape recorder). Then return to the meditation.

As the "to do" list fills, the mind empties. If the thought, "Call the bank," reappears, you need only tell yourself, "It's on the list. I can let that one go." And you will. It is important, however, to do the things on the list--or at least in a nonmeditative state to consider doing them. If you don't, you will continue to think about them, again and again.

When finished meditating, not only will you have had a better meditation, you will also have a "to do" list that can be very useful. One insight gleaned during a few minutes of meditation might save hours, perhaps days of unnecessary work. That's what I mean when I say--from a purely practical point of view--meditation can make more time than it takes.


First keep the peace within yourself, then you can also bring peace to others.


If you want peace, stop fighting.

If you want peace of mind, stop fighting with your thoughts. Let them be. Let your mind think what it wants to think. It's going to anyway. As long as your mind gives you enough focus to take the next step in the direction you want to go, then let it be.

If you want peace in your emotions, stop trying to control them. Emotions are there to feel. Feel them. Take information from them as needed., and let them be what they want.

If you want physical peace, stop struggling. Don't push your body beyond its fatigue point.Get enough rest and exercise. Let your body be. Don't demand that it live up to every image of performance and perfection you think it should have.

If you want peace with others, don't fight them. Go your own way. Live your own life. If some walk with you, fine. If you walk alone for a while, fine. If you don't like what's going on somewhere, leave. Maintain a portable paradise within yourself.

Nothing can bring you peace but yourself.


We shall find peace. We shall hear the angels, we shall see the sky sparkling with diamonds.


This does not mean you have to like what's going on. "The lion shall lie down with the lamb." It does not say the lion shall make love to the lamb. If you know you have to lie down with the lamb, bring a good book. That will occupy your mind so you don't have to feel animosity toward the lamb--you don't have to think about the lamb at all.

(And if you're the lamb, don't forget to wear your chain-mail fleece.)

When you're not against yourself or others, you are at peace.


Fortunate, indeed, is the man who takes exactly the right measure of himself, and holds a just balance between what he can acquire and what he can use, be it great or be it small!


Have you noticed some contradictions in this book? So have I. Welcome to life.

Should we "get off our buts" and "do it," or should we "meditate, contemplate, and just sits." Should we laugh or cry? Should we work for money or for wealth? Should we cling tight to this life, or should we look forward to the release of death? Should we be flexible or firm? Assertive or accepting? Giving or receiving?

The art of progress is to preserve order amid change and to preserve change amid order.


There is no single answer to these questions. It's a matter of time and timing, of seas and seasons, of breathing in and breathing out.

It's a matter of balance.

Balance is the point between the extremes. But it's not a static point--"I've found it; this is it!" The point is always shifting, always moving. A successful life can be like a successful tightrope walk. Sometimes the balance pole dips violently one way, sometimes it dips gently the other, and sometimes it's perfectly still.

How does one find and maintain balance? Vigilance. Internal vigilance. Internal vigilance is the price of freedom.

When you notice yourself out-of-balance, balance it at once. If you don't, it will find a reflection outside. Then there's something "out there" to balance, too. It's easier to balance it within, before it gets out.

This...reminds me of the way they used to weigh hogs in Texas. They would get a long plank, put it over a cross-bar, and somehow tie the hog on one end of the plank. They'd search all around till they found a stone that would balance the weight of the hog and they'd put that on the other end of the plank. Then they'd guess the weight of the stone.


For balanced action, ask yourself, "What would a master do?" Look through the eyes of a master. Masters always perform "right action." Seeing as a master sees, ask yourself, "What would a master do?" Sometimes a master would do nothing. Sometimes, quite a lot. "What would a master do?" Do that.

You are a master. You may as well get good at it.


People think love is an emotion. Love is good sense.


When we go within, we know that our core--our very being--is love. All we can do is share that love with ourselves and others; to make it a verb and to love as much as we can.

Our loving is a work in progress. We are continuously refining it, honing it, adding to it, shaping it. This is what we think we are doing. We also know love is continuously refining, honing, adding to, and shaping us.

Writing this book was an act of loving. I wanted to communicate the ideas found here because I find these ideas valuable. I know that reading this book was an act of loving on your part. People do not read books such as this without a fierce commitment to the love of self and others.

I wish I knew how to end this book. I am certainly capable of serving up some platitudes on love and calling it a day. But I've been honest with you thus far. I've written from my experiences--from my heart to yours, I like to think.

What do I have to say about loving?

This book cannot be wrapped up in string and handed to you as a tidy package. Neither can life. Or loving. Life is a process. Ongoing processes don't have tidy endings, merely transitions.

So welcome to the transitional chapter of this book. From this point, it's not a book to be read (you're within minutes of completing that), but a book to be used.

And I, to the degree that I have been a "teacher," gladly hand the mantle over to your Master Teacher. I am content to become a reference librarian--here when you need to research questions such as "How am I supposed to use guilt as a friend?" "What was this about using relationships as a mirror?" or "Didn't he say something about money?"

At this point, I step down from the lectern and join you as a classmate.

It's been good taking this journey with you. Thank you for joining me--and letting me join you. LIFE 101 now makes the transition from a book that leads, to a book you can carry.

Take good care. School is still in session. The surprise continues. Enjoy.

Your vision will become clear only when you can look into your own heart. Who looks outside, dreams; who looks inside, awakes.


Gude nicht, and joy be wi' you a'.


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