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Ask good questions

Sometimes we think that in order to become wiser, we need to have the right answers. But right answers to wrong questions are not very useful, are they?

"The key to wisdom", as John Simone said, "is knowing all the right questions."

Questions are powerful tools. They can point to possibilities, encourage self reflection and growth, ignite hope and lead to new insights. They can also confuse issues, destroy hope and keep us stuck in bad assumptions.

Imagine that you are looking at a new project – either work related or personal goals related.

Consider the difference between these questions relating to the project or goal:

Question 1: Can I?
Question 2: How can I?

"At first glance, the questions Can I? and How can I? may appear to be very similar", writes John Maxwell in his book, The 15 Invaluable Laws of Growth: Live Them and Reach Your Potential. "The reality is that they are worlds apart in terms of results. Can I? is a question filled with hesitation and doubt. It is a...

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The Daffodil Principle

Today I am sharing one of my favourite inspirational stories on the power of baby steps.


As it is springtime here in the western hemisphere, and the daffodils are just beginning to show their sunny heads, let us remind ourselves of "The Daffodil Principle" by Jaroldeen Asplund Edwards.

Here it is:

Several times my daughter had telephoned to say, "Mother, you must come see the daffodils before they are over." I wanted to go, but it was a two-hour drive from Laguna to Lake Arrowhead.

"I will come next Tuesday, " I promised, a little reluctantly, on her third call. Next Tuesday dawned cold and rainy. Still, I had promised, and so I drove there. When I finally walked into Carolyn's house and hugged and greeted my grandchildren, I said, "Forget the daffodils, Carolyn! The road is invisible in the clouds and fog, and there is nothing in the world except you and these children that I want to see bad enough to drive another inch!"

My daughter smiled calmly and said," We drive in this all...

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Living a regret free life

Over the last few days, we have been talking about the top regrets of the dying. Thinking and reflecting upon the shortness of our sojourn here on earth is an excellent way to live a better life so that we don't have the regrets at the end of our days.

The good news is that while we are still here, we have thousands of opportunities to change the stories of our lives and leave a legacy that we are content with.

Living a regret free life begins with recognizing what we would like our life to stand for. An excellent way to do this is through the "Eulogy Exercise".

A eulogy, as you know, is a speech given at a memorial service in memory of the deceased. Loved ones gather to say good words about the dearly departed and what impact they had on their lives.

The Eulogy exercise is a little different. It entails writing out two eulogies for yourself.

The first eulogy is to be written as if it is going to be read today. Write it in the present tense, as if the people gathered at your funeral...

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The most common regret of the dying

What do you think was the most common regret of those that Bronnie Ware cared for, and wrote about, in her book The Top Five Regrets of the Dying: A Life Transformed by the Dearly Departing?

"I wish I'd had the courage to live a life true to myself, not the life others expected of me".

"This was the most common regret of all", writes Ware. "When people realize that their life is almost over and look back clearly on it, it is easy to see how many dreams have gone unfulfilled. Most people had not honored even a half of their dreams and had to die knowing that it was due to choices they had made, or not made. Health brings a freedom very few realize, until they no longer have it."

We may have given ourselves so many reasons and excuses about why we are not doing what we are called to do.

At the end of our days we may realize with regret that we have forgotten the reasons or we may see that the reasons were not very good at all.

What do you dream of doing? Why not start taking action...

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I wish that I had let myself be happier

Many of us do not realize that happiness is, in fact, a choice. A choice that we can make on a daily basis by focusing on what we have rather than what is lacking. On nurturing what is present and available rather than yearning after what may never be ours.

Bonnie Ware found that this awareness came late in life for the people that she cared for. She says, "This (regret) is a surprisingly common one. Many did not realize until the end that happiness is a choice. They had stayed stuck in old patterns and habits. The so-called 'comfort' of familiarity overflowed into their emotions, as well as their physical lives. Fear of change had them pretending to others, and to their selves, that they were content, when deep within, they longed to laugh properly and have silliness in their life again."

This is such a good reminder to all of us – to ask ourselves what we can do today to take charge of our own happiness and wellbeing.

We can get choose today to get out of emotional ruts that...

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I wish I had stayed in touch with my friends

This week we are continuing with our series which is inspired by the book The Top Five Regrets of the Dying: A Life Transformed by the Dearly Departing. This book by Bronnie Ware, the palliative care nurse who took care of patients in their last three to twelve weeks of life, is about the stories and confessions from people at the end of their life and talks about the regrets people had for how they wished they had made different choices in life.

One of the top regrets of the dying, Ware found, was not making the time for important friendships. Many found that in the busyness of life, they tended to let go of relationships until they fell out of touch with once-good-friends.

She writes, "Often they would not truly realize the full benefits of old friends until their dying weeks and it was not always possible to track them down. Many had become so caught up in their own lives that they had let golden friendships slip by over the years. There were many deep regrets about not giving...

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I wish I’d had the courage to express my feelings

Much too often, we do not speak our truth, express how we really feel or ask for what we need for many (not very good) reasons. These reasons can include self-protection, fear of upsetting the other, keeping the peace etc.

Much too often we forget that relationships can better survive our truth than the resentment borne from not speaking up. It is in fact, emotional disengagement that destroys relationships rather than the feared conflict from a spoken truth.

Ware found that not expressing feelings had an additional cost. She found that not expressing their true feelings was something many people regretted at the end of their life. "Many people suppressed their feelings in order to keep peace with others", she writes. "As a result, they settled for a mediocre existence and never became who they were truly capable of becoming. Many developed illnesses relating to the bitterness and resentment they carried as a result."

Once we start practicing expressing our true feelings, we begin...

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I wish I hadn’t worked so hard

Bronnie Ware found that almost all the men and quite a few of the women she spoke to, regretted spending too much time working at the cost of spending time with family and loved ones.

This one did not surprise me at all.

It seems that as a generation, we have completely blurred the boundaries between work and non-work life. Our work has taken over all aspects of our existence.

With the advent of technology, work follows us home, on the dinner table, on the prayer mat, in bed, on vacation, in the shower . . . you get the picture.

It may be helpful to remind ourselves that no one on their death bed ever wished they had spent more time at the office. (attributed to Rabbi Harold Kushner)

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Learning life lessons from the dying

Are you familiar with the story of Bronnie Ware the palliative care nurse who wrote the book The Top Five Regrets of the Dying?

Although employed as a personal carer primarily to look after physical needs of dying patients, Ware found herself having deep and meaningful conversations with her clients.

Ware came to appreciate that people who are dying realize what is most important and what is not, and are more likely to speak honestly about their life and what they wished they had done differently.

Through many conversations and interactions with the dying, she began to notice some common regrets they expressed and gathered their wisdom and experience in her book.

Over the next few days, lets explore the top regrets of the dying. Maybe we can learn from their wisdom and live a regret-free life ourselves.

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Let’s talk about the ‘D’ word

family spirituality Apr 17, 2017

Let's talk about the 'D' word.

Death.

What every one of us will face and what few of us like to think or talk about. Some of us might even believe that thinking about death and dying is morose and depressing.

While spiritual traditions, including Islam and Buddhism have advocated reflecting on the temporary nature of life in this existence as a path to virtue and salvation/bliss, it is fairly recently that secular psychologists have affirmed the benefits of thinking about death.

Kenneth Vail of the University of Missouri, headed a study about 'death awareness' and said, "There has been very little integrative understanding of how subtle, day-to-day, death awareness might be capable of motivating attitudes and behaviors that can minimize harm to oneself and others, and can promote well-being."

Vall specifically mentions three ways consciousness of death can improve our lives:

1) Thinking about death helps us prioritize our goals and get in touch with what we truly value

2) Just...

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