Rain Walking

I love to walk! This can be challenging as I live in Auckland.

I’m not referring to the 50+ extinct volcanoes adding character to the city. Walking up and down the hills breaks monotony!

The awesome challenge is timing your walk within a climate that experiences summer and winter within any given hour.

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Auckland has two seasons: warm rain and cool rain. The weather service records 2,066 hours of sunshine each year. That means half the day is cloudy on average and 131 of those days it rains.

Today I waited for the right moment: I was sure I had a 90 minute window for a rain-free walk. Living in a valley, I could not see what was behind the hills. So you know what happened—it started raining ‘all over me’ within 20 minutes.

Many people grow discouraged when it ‘rains over all them’. Perhaps you were enjoying sunshine and warm air when suddenly you lost your relationship or your business took a financial hit. Bad things happen; like rain, it is a fact of life.

The thing about rain-walking: you cannot control Nature but you can control your attitude. And so it is too with your relationships and business. You choose to enjoy and become a part of Forces more powerful than yourself. Or you choose to run and seek shelter.

I choose to enjoy what I cannot control: rain and all. It is the best way to experience life!

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Originally posted 2 August 2012

Morality Is A Behavior Code

Years ago, I was asked to prepare teenagers for their university education. The assignment was part of a series to help those who grew up with a Christian faith. Public education has an inbuilt bias to preserve its Religion of Secularism.

I recently came upon these notes researching for a book I am writing about Ethics. I thought I would share these with you even though they are dated. Trying to reason with bright teenagers about morality was a seemingly impossible task! Nevertheless, the sessions were valuable for both teens and me. Hope they can add value to your journey.

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Note #1 – Morality has become associated as a code of behavior. The philosophers believed a certain conduct would lead to happiness.

The early church taught, “godliness with contentment is great gain” (1 Timothy 6:6). The pursuit of happiness is not the deportment of Christianity; but rather the pursuit of godly living—living in a way that is God-like. It is not the arrogant pursuit of being gods as Adam and Eve erred (Genesis 3:5) but a contentment to live as God directs in accordance to His word.

From the very beginning, God has been interested in His creation doing what He says to bring them the greater benefit (Genesis 3:11). Philosophy can rob you of God’s blessings if you are not careful (Colossians 2:8). Nonetheless, there is an agreed precept between philosophy and Biblical Christianity: your contentment in life can be found when following a code of behavior.

The Bible assumes you are capable of moral actions. There are certain actions which you are bound to perform. The obligations performed as a social duty are, definition, acts of morality. Each Society adjust the rules, but one fact remains: morality is associated with you keeping accepted rules.

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For instance, most people do not tip in a restaurant here in New Zealand. It is considered immoral for an employer to not provide servers with full wages. With the provision, tipping is not a necessary part of the server’s wages. However, in the United States, it is customary to tip a server regardless of any wages being received. The respective customs reflect differing moral standards for its Society.

At university, you will be given guide-lines and expectations for your behavior. Jump up and down all you want about your individual rights! It won’t make a difference. Whenever individuals join together, there must be agreement on a set of rules. Otherwise, chaos results and there will be no order for your educational environment.

Season of the Ant

It is always amazing to consider the timelessness of ancient wisdom. Thousands of years ago, a poet king once wrote:

Go to the ant, thou sluggard; consider her ways, and be wise: which having no guide, overseer, or ruler, provideth her meat in the summer, and gathereth her food in the harvest.

The power of this ageless proverb remains relevant. Society today is so consumed with having everything now. Young people carry student loans unable to be repaid. Families choose stress over purposeful living with mortgages beyond their budget. It appears success is judged by possessions instead of peace.

Most ants build a nest of some sort and store their hard-gathered food in that nest. The food is gathered in the harvest after working all summer long.

Have you considered that most ants live for only a few months?

The season of the ant is a type of the season of human life. Your winter season will be the retirement years when you are physically unable to “gather.” The harvest season stands for your working years. The “reaping” for retirement is possible because of your summer work. That is why the same poet surmised:

The soul of the sluggard desireth, and hath nothing: but the soul of the diligent shall be made fat.

You don’t reap a retirement by accident!

The ant teaches you that today you are preparing for your future. Part of that preparation is passing on your knowledge to those in the spring of their life. Your children need to be taught by word and example how to prepare for future.

Don’t live for the moment—live in it for the morrow. Balance tomorrow’s evils by putting your inner growth first. As the great Master taught:

Seek ye first the kingdom of God, and his righteousness; and all these things shall be added unto you.

By concentrating on what is truly lasting today, you will reap protection, provision, and comfort at life’s end and into eternity.

What grand lessons from such a lowly insect!

Embracing Where You Are At

Your fulfilment is in the present, not future.

Crises, like earthquakes, shake your foundations. And after they expend their natural force you are never the same. This is a good thing!

Often leaders and managers encourage you to set goals. This is a good so long as it remains in balance. The danger is a subliminal message: your fulfilment is in the future.

Your fulfillment is in the present.

It is true fulfilled desires yield sweetness. It is equally true you need to stretch yourself for growth. As the son of a farmer, I know the storms of wind and rain strengthen the grain for a hearty harvest. And that’s the point: fulfilment is discovered in the process not in reaching some future goal.

Are you grieving over losing a loved one to death? Are you hurting from a relationship freshly lost? Are you dealing with an unexpected illness recently diagnosed? You are in a crisis. Embrace the present! The change cannot be undone.

Living in the present does not mean you mortgage your future at the expense of the immediate. It does mean you accept your present circumstance as part of a greater Power. In submitting to that Power you will find the strength to live.

I cannot promise where that Power will take you. But I can promise you that if you embrace the present you will find fulfilment. Maybe not while your foundation is shaking—survival is all that is on your mind! And that is just fine. Take those steps to endure but utilise that Power greater than you. You are heading to solid ground!

You may come through with a different career, new partner or no partner at all! But you will survive! And you will possess a depth in which greater things will take root in you.

Embrace where you are at.

Balcony Blues

I stepped out onto my upper story balcony wanting to inspect more closely. Bracing against a blast of Auckland damp cold air, I shut the ranch slider door behind me to keep my apartment warm. That is when I heard the click.

The winter fog lay heavily over Oteha Valley. Audible sounds of traffic trapped beneath its weight attracted my attention. I stepped out onto my upper story balcony wanting to inspect more closely. Bracing against a blast of Auckland damp cold air, I shut the ranch slider door behind me to keep my apartment warm. That is when I heard the click.

I didn’t know ranch slider doors could lock themselves! It was a freak of circumstance that led me to sing the Balcony Blues.

Blues lyrics are associated with misery and oppression. Standing in my bathrobe becoming exposed to public view as the sun burned off its ally to my shame; I was coerced into singing my woes.

A dozen types of emotions were strummed in an electric rhythm reminiscent of Detroit! I sought a way to break back into my own home. Thankfully, it didn’t work.

And that is when it happened—I started to laugh! Raunchy as it may seem, I couldn’t help but see the humour in this Universal Conspiracy.

Of course by now more than an hour has passed. A complete album had been recorded when I felt salvation inside my bathrobe pocket: my IPhone!

Talk about being technologically dependent! I couldn’t put on my bathrobe without slipping my phone inside its pocket? That prompted another round of laughter.

The property manager was contacted and I was rescued within 10 minutes. But I’ll never forget the joy of singing those Balcony Blues!

No matter how far down you go, there is a song to be found. When you find that song, sing it for all its worth! Life’s Music is to be enjoyed no matter where you find yourself—even it is being trapped outside on a balcony.

[The above incident was originally recorded December 7, 2012 while still living in New Zealand.]

The Power of Contentment

The following is an excerpt from the upcoming sequel to 56 Notions of Success. The new book will be titled, Ethical Success.

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Conscience is the inner voice that warns us somebody may be looking. ― H.L. Mencken

YOU are responsible for determining and exercising what is good, not Society. Society is not a person; you are. Society is a collective of individuals and entities. You cannot hold Society responsible for your behavior. You do what you choose.

And only you are responsible for your own contentment.

Contentment empowers your decisions to find that Golden Mean. It is more powerful than happiness. Happiness can be fleeting; contentment is a steady, constant state of being.

On more than one occasion I have counseled persons on this point. I remember when Doreen came to me distraught. As she told her story she reached a point of anger and proclaimed, “It’s his fault that I’m not content with living and I never will be until he changes.”

Explaining to Doreen that he is not responsible for her contentment was a delicate exercise. That work, however, began with a blunt statement of fact: “Doreen, you and you only are responsible for your contentment. Do not give that power to anyone else.”

Contentment is such a powerful virtue!

Western society wages war on contentment. It bombards its inhabitants with commercialized desires of discontent. We are constantly reminded of what we don’t have and why we supposedly cannot live without these objects.

Contentment, however, does not mean trying to improve your Self. The danger lies in connecting self-improvement with tangible items as proof of growth. That is similar to rewarding yourself food when you are dieting to lose weight. It is self-sabotaging.

Contentment begins when you keep life simple. The number of lands, vehicles, or electronic gadgets cannot determine your contentment. Knowing how to enjoy what you do have is determinate. So often we ignore the beautiful sunsets, birds flying through the air, children laughing, and rivers flowing. Learn to enjoy the simple things and you will discover the power of contentment.

Doreen grew from her experience. She was in a season of life where she required public transportation. The problem was the closest stop to her work was two miles away. Rather than focus on what she didn’t have: a car, a supportive husband, etc, she began to enjoy that two mile walk. She reported that she began to notice things she never saw before: lizards stalking dragonflies, raccoons coming out of the lagoon, rabbits jumping freely, kingfishers on the power lines and herons in the water. She said she felt more rich enjoying the moment than any tangible asset she has ever owned.

And that brings us to another aspect of Contentment: keeping finances streamlined. Unethical expenditures are those spent out of greed or excess. We get so caught up with the unethical commercialized life-style that our money situations become complicated. How many credit cards do you really require? It is no wonder Aristotle taught, “Happiness is self-contentedness.”

Keep your relationships satisfying. That includes work-related ones too. Lasting happiness and security are discovered when ethical behavior yields a good reputation and honor. True friendship and happy family life are also part of the reward for ethical relationships.

Contentment is found in peaceful and secured environments, not in those where others are manipulated for personal gain. Routine might seem like you are “in a rut,” but it is also signals an ordered environment. Don’t look outside of yourself for fulfillment; look within.

Challenge: Ethics begins by staying true to your Self. Do I act with integrity and enjoy contentment as its reward?