I installed a skylight in my apartment. The people who live above me are furious.

Steven Wright

—Steven Wright


Banquets of the unlearned and of them that are without, avoid. But if you have occasion to take part in them, let not your attention be relaxed for a moment, lest you slip after all into evil ways. For you may rest assured that be a man ever so pure himself, he cannot escape defilement if his associates are impure.



He is happy whose circumstances suit his temper; but he is more excellent who can suit his temper to any circumstances.

Hume, David see citation

David Hume (Oil on canvas by Allan Ramsay, 1766; in the Scottish National Portrait Gallery, Edinburgh.)

…We’ve all been there. Actually, some of us are forced to live most of our lives there. Stuck in a time or place where the circumstances don’t suit our temper. Maybe we are in a job we don’t like, working with people we aren’t like. Perhaps we are at a social function we were forced into, and don’t share the values or characteristics of the people surrounding us. We may be watching a “popular” television show and tell ourselves, “I have nothing in common with the viewers who actually find this to be entertainment.”

I think of the country I grew up in, and I look around today and see a totally different world. A stranger in a strange land, in the words of Robert Heinlein’s classic novel. But we can’t create the world surrounding us, so we appear to be at its mercy. Though some wealthy enough (a few Hollywood actors come to mind) may be able to insulate themselves from opposing viewpoints and be lauded for it by sycophantic fans, are they growing spiritually, or are they inhibiting their growth by living in a bubble?

No, the answer is not to ruminate about days gone by or to always search for circumstances which suit our temper. That is not what we are doing here. The answer lies in roaming around and exploring the world which surrounds us. With a stoic philosophy, we should welcome circumstances which previously made us uncomfortable. Instead of lamenting those who oppose our viewpoint, we should study how and why they came to believe and act the way they do.

After a real or perceived defeat at the hands of those who do not share our viewpoint, we have a choice. We can become bitter and rigid (does anyone come to mind?), or we can accept what has happened and move forward; not compromising our own belief system, but vowing to grow from the experience. One path is simple and rote, while the other requires effort and self discipline. Despite our surface feelings, we know which path will make us “more excellent.”


Action Environment

Nothing builds self-esteem and self-confidence like accomplishment.

Carlyle, Thomas pc Eliott & Fry Ph

—Thomas Carlyle (Eliott & Fry Photography)

FDR on Happiness

Happiness lies in the joy of achievement and the thrill of creative effort.

Roosevelt, Franklin D

—Franklin D. Roosevelt


Comfort or Greatness?

The world offers you comfort. But you were not made for comfort. You were made for greatness.

soaring bird sh87394790 fb size

—Pope Benedict XVI

…We truly are blessed to live when and where we do. Think of the vast majority of souls born into harsh environments throughout history. Even now, think of what individuals are going through on the continent of Africa, or in the countries of North Korea and Venezuela. Sure, we may not have the money we want (or even need), but our comparative comfort to others throughout history is indisputable.

I have taken some paths in life which I sometimes regret. But, when I look back on those decision points, I am going to apply a new litmus test:

“Did the path I chose take me away from my comfort zone and at least have the potential to lead to greatness?” 

With that new test applied, several decisions which I formerly looked back on with regret, I now have a newfound respect for. If we want to beat ourselves up, let’s do it for not taking action rather than for making a gutsy call that may not have panned out.


Life is not a matter of holding good cards, but of playing a poor hand well.

Stevenson, Robert Louis see attrib

—Robert Louis Stevenson (photo by Henry Walter Barnett)

…Thanks to Dr. Perry at MakeItUltra™ for making me dwell on Stevenson and some of his works.

When it comes to life, we all have our “poor hands.” Those disadvantages—be they physical, financial, intellectual, or emotional—that we could so easily use as a crutch to prevent us from accomplishing, or even competing. How many times have you heard the phrase “it takes money to make money” uttered from people who believe they are destined to stay poor. It’s not their fault, they just weren’t born to rich parents!

What about physical, social, or educational shortcomings. We look at others who have our ideal vision of life and we lament how lucky they are. If only we had their natural ability to (insert your shortcoming here).

Life is a struggle, but that is by Design! We were meant to have the specific set of challenges that we own.  God gave us these shortcomings not as a punishment, but as an opportunity to grow spiritually. Turn the tables. Don’t lament the poor hand you were dealt, thank God for it, and play it well!