Posts Tagged ‘Gratitude’

video: Embracing gratitude & releasing perfectionism

December 11, 2015

Embracing gratitude & releasing perfectionism (anxiety, grief, grievances, & avoidance)


Someone recommended that I tell a story to set up my main points.​ I will… after a few introductory points.



Option 1) ​​doing a thing because it fits

– attentive, open to adaption, open to altering pace or stopping, no need for passionate justifications or hysterical denials

Option 2) Doing a thing “because it is right, because people should”

– that is operating with attention to socially- conditioned ideals (to be loyal / faithful / perfect relative to those ideals)… In other words, fear or paranoia about criticism / condemnation / punishment

(So lots of things get interpreted as personal criticism)
​Generally, if you take anything here as a personal criticism of you, but without me ​specifically referencing you, then that could be a sign, right? I am presenting a set of contrasts and I will be talking about how each of the behavioral patterns have some specific or limited functionality. They all fit.


What is relevant for someone who frequently presumes that others are criticizing them? Increase awareness of possible discomfort, tension, or stress, manage pace of all interactions, select to interact most with people who seem the most attentive, perceptive, and respectful, or target an overall withdrawal from concentrated social activity (as in interact with a greater variety of people, but none of them very much).

Start the example-
​​Young boys of a certain age like to be physically active, including wrestling. They wrestle with each other, with pets, with adults. I attempted to chase my dog, but got frustrated. Also, attempt to climb most any tree. Wrestled with dad.
​​”Do not encourage him. One of you could get hurt!”

mom scolding dad (in front of child). Why is mom upset? She says I might get hurt, but dad was very safe. I actually got seriously injured (sent to hospital) At a martial arts tournament opposed with someone slightly older (but perhaps much bigger, stronger).

How concerned was mom with safety? How concerned was she with being criticized​ by others for neglect​? ​​With maintaining a persona that ​​suppresses ​certain ​emotion​s​?

(Could share in the delight / fun… But not if it triggered grief for her/ envy / shame)

Concentrated pride (can be burden on child of “must be perfect/ must never embarrass”)​

​warning to prospective parents- if you raise children for a few decades, they might occasionally embarrass​ you.


a small child naturally creates fun and expresses their fun

Why do they learn to avoid ​having “too much fun?

“Seen but not heard” :loud (distracting, embarrassing), jealousy of one parent for another/ competition for social approval

the child gets intimidated or pressured in to minimizing fun (at schools, at home… At certain times, generally in public)

“Calm down, youngster. Settle down right now!”

​​”Do not encourage him. One of you could get hurt!”

there can also be a general suppression of all loud emotional expression… Crying, laughing

Note that these physiological processes can promote a rebalancing of physical tension and a correcting of misalignment in the spine or skull.

when gratitude is buried, how can it surface?

Grief- when I am more grateful for something lost than I am scared to display it

was grateful, but the fear of displaying the gratitude interrupted it. Maybe I did not even recognize it. Maybe I “went numb.”

Grievances- if there is repressed gratitude (from terror) and no trigger for expressing it…

Seek out justifications for resentment and rage

vilification of others to weave narratives of victimhood

why? To attract attention (effectively)

to startle others, to attract pity, to cover embarrassment, to attract support / protectiveness

avoidance: “rebellion” to cause others grief

​State willingness​ to do something (or make promises to do it), but always have an excuse:
“not really interested”
“not enough time”
“too complicated”
“too stressful”

but what is more stressful: frequently imagining the activity but never actually experimenting with it… or experimenting?

The key issue here is if someone is terrified of expressing disappointment or discomfort, then they will compulsively avoid the unfamiliar. They will fear the unfamiliar as a potential trigger of repressed emotion, of shameful disappointment, of shameful anger, of shameful fear, etc…. They organize their life around shame… or, specifically, around avoiding shame… which is still organizing life relative to the possibility of shame.


What is relevant for someone who frequently presumes that others are criticizing them? Increase awareness of possible discomfort, tension, or stress, manage pace of all interactions, select to interact most with people who seem the most attentive, perceptive, and respectful, or target an overall withdrawal from concentrated social activity (as in interact with a greater variety of people, but none of them very much).

courage: from greed all the way to gratitude

May 8, 2014

the path of courage:
from greed all the way to gratitude

What if there is nothing wrong with greed?

First, for me, there is nothing “wrong” with greed, except that it consistently produces results that lead to disappointment. It is just a mode

of experience- or even a developmental stage in the process of maturing or learning.

Through courage, one may shift from the extreme of chronic greed to the opposite extreme, which is chronic gratitude. That will be the broader

outcome of this material: to challenge you to take “the path of courage” and shift from greed to gratitude.

Are you courageous enough to explore greed?

Why did I pick greed as the starting point of our exploration? Do I think that you personally are unusually greedy? Do I think that you lack

courage or gratitude?

Well, what if I do? If you are anxious enough to be concerned with whatever reason that someone might have for sharing this material with you,

then you are already on the edge of an opportunity to experience courage.

If you imagine that whatever I mean by greed is meant to slander you or to justify punishing you in some way in the future, then courage is

precisely what I invite you to explore as highly relevant to you today. I even started by saying that there is nothing wrong with greed. Did you

forget that already?

And are you courageous enough to explore gratitude?

If you think of greed as “something wrong,” then the first challenge for you on the path of courage will be to relax any of your old

presumptions about the limits of what the word “greed” COULD mean. Your opportunity will be to explore the subject of greed from a foundation of

courage and gratitude (including gratitude for the pattern of experience that I am calling “greed”).

If you are not willing to courageously explore the subject of greed with an openness to being grateful for all patterns of experience (including

greed), then I invite you to come back to this material at any later time that you are willing to be courageous and grateful in that regard.

However, if you are open to experiencing courage now, then I invite you to proceed.


So why did I really pick greed as the the starting point of our exploration?

For one thing, greed is a frequent subject of criticism in recent times. People may notice a lot of complaining about greed. People may even

actively complain or even argue about the greed of particular targets of criticism. In fact, you may even be criticized for being “too greedy”

or “too selfish.”

The pattern of selfishness is often confused with greed. They are similar. However, they are distinct.

How selfishness differs from greed

Selfishness is a label that can be applied to any child or even any newborn. For instance, when there is not yet a concern for the social

standards applied by others, the normal reflexive instincts may be labeled “selfish.” A concern for social standards is also known as

“conscience” or “guilt.” (We will adress that subject in more detail later.)

So, a child who is cold and then wraps itself in a blanket is not being “greedy,” even if it is labeled selfish. If there are several children

and several blankets, we could say that it would be greedy for a single child to keep all of the blankets away from the other children. However,

for a newborn to desire warmth and then get under a blanket is normal and functional.

In other words, acting out of self-interest is normal and functional. Selfishness includes acting out of self-interest, though selfishness may

be considered to have many subcategories and to include extreme forms like “greed.” Greed can involve the desire not only to prosper, but to do

so without regard for the methods used and the eventual long-term consequences of using each method.

*A more useful definition of greed

(Note that, for my own convenience, I use the term “God” below. You could insert the word “reality” or “the universe” and make the same point.)

An anxious rejection of reality in which one yearns for reality to conform to some ideal that is worshiped as “better” than God’s present

creation. Greed is both a form of fear (in that it is anxious) and also a form of grief. (It is a form of grief in that it rejects God’s

creation- and God- in favor of the “less disappointing” ideal that is worshiped instead. “Since God has disappointed me, which God obviously

should not have been so arrogant to do, then I will focus on some other ideal as “better” than God’s present creation. Further, to complete the

irony, I will claim that my fixating on some “superior” ideal as I reject God’s creation is being faithful to God, as if it is based on God’s

own rejection of God’s own creation.”)

*What is new about this definiton of greed

Note that the particular focus of the “greed” may be of no great importance. Various forms of wealth (or success”) may be considered just

convenient distractions: “I want a horse- and I want that one,” “I want to raise chickens in my backyard,” “I want to go on that vacation,” “I

want to attain enlightenment.” Greed is not about the desire itself or the focus of the desire, but the emotional framework around the desire.

As an example, we can think of “gluttony” as merely a form of greed in that there is an obsession in regard to diet or eating. An anxious

“greed” to reach a certain weight (whether for someone on a weight loss diet or for a body-builder) is distinct from a goal. The component of

anxiety is key.

*Greed as a way to avoid disappointment/grief

The one experiencing greed tends to be eager to place blame (in the event of additional disappointment). Note that I say additional

disappointment because I am referencing greed as a pattern used basically to avoid experiencing a past disappointment.

It is a form of anxiety or paranoia: “I do NOT want to be disappointed ever again. I know the one thing which will be my salvation and

permanently fix everything and protect me from ever experiencing disappointment. Hey, that reminds me: let’s talk about going on a vacation! Or,

we could argue about how we think the government should be. Then, finally, we can complain about how the corporate media is… gasp… serving

corporate interests, right?”

<<< *What produces greed? Keep in mind that the pattern of greed is typical when selfishness (desire) is publicly condemned. People tend to hide their selfishness when it is condemned amd shamed. If a child is disappointed and instinctively begins to express their disappointment, then one way to suppress their display of disappointment is to traumatize the child by punishing, shaming, condemning, or even just interrupting the display of disappointment: “you should be more grateful. You should be less disappointed. You should be quiet and less selfish. Do you want me to give you a REAL reason to cry? You are too greedy. You should be more like God wants you to be in the future (instead of how God created you to be as of now).” *How does greed manifest? When the repressive trauma is internalized, then the display of grief is chronically suppressed (including the behavior of crying or weeping). The fear of the display of grief (as in the expectation of punishment for the display of grief) is what I call “guilt.”(Guilt will be the focus of With the foundation of guilt (the fear of the display of grief), then targets of hope and enthusiasm may be “chronically” sought as a mechanism to avoid or distract from past grief. That addictive, “thrilling” pursuit of “success” (like wealth, fitness, ego gratification, spiritual arrogance, etc) is in the mode of action that I am calling greed. Again, note that the actual target of the desire is not the issue, but the emotional quality of the attention to that target. * We could also define greed as any “excessive” attention to wealth and physical security. However, if we cannot define “excessive,” then that definition is not very useful. Likewise, lust- when speaking of it as a cardinal sin- can be defined not just as “excessive” attention to sexuality, but more specfiically as the obsessive attention to sexuality to the detriment to one’s overall self-interest, such as to avoid the VALUE of grieving over some past disappointment. Gluttony also can be recognized as distinct from some amount of eating that any critic might label as “excessive.” So, gluttony would include spending so much money (or time) on the issue of food that other priorities are sacrificed. >>>>

*Simple fear and the 3 chronic fear “complexes”

When I am startled by an unexpected sensation, such as a noise, then my attention may suddenly focus on the surprising experience. If the shift

to alertness involves at least a noticable amount of the stress hormones (such as cortisol and adrenalin), then I may label that as being

frightened or alarmed or afraid. That is simple fear.

Chronic fear means a lasting experience of fear. The target of the fear may shift suddenly or even be unrecognized, but the background emotional

state of fear will be obvious.

One whose experience is dominated by fear may manifest 3 modes: paranoia, shame, guilt

paranoia/worry: fear of fear
shame: fear of rage
guilt: fear of grief

*On viewing greed as a natural product of guilt

If an ideal is held (in terror) of how reality should be, that can lead to a complex series of effects. With the background of the worship of

any particular ideal as the most sacred part of reality, then it is inevitable that there will be a noticing of a contrast between that

worshiped ideal and reality, which is experienced as the great threat to the fundamentalist idolatry.

Any noticing of a contrast between the ideal and reality can result in the rejecting of that aspecting of reality, condeming it, and even

finding some villain to blame for being responsible for producing some pattern that the critic is afraid of accepting as valid and present and

real. The idolater claims sincerely (desperately, defensively) how reality should be, then condemns reality (God’s Creation!) for not being how

it should be, then identifies some new power allegedly responsible for the crime of exposing the contrast between God’s Creation and the idolater’s worshiped ideal.

That CAN lead eventually to not just argumentativeness and antagonism, but to guilt. What if the idolater perceives themself as having a holy

duty to correct God’s Creation and bring it back in to alignment with the ideal? When the idolater’s rejects God’s Creation and goes against the

demonstrated Will of God in order to attempt to please God, that ironic attempt naturally leads to a sense of failure (disappointment).

If there is a panic to interfere with the experience of disappointment (to prevent or interrupt the display of grief), then that panic typically

takes the form of obsessing over some imagined “salvation.” That is what I mean by “greed.”

A Radically Functional Approach to Gratitude, Fear, and Commitment

April 11, 2013

Gratitude, Fear, and Commitment




gratitude. =)

gratitude. =) (Photo credit: camerakarrie)




Dangerous Risk Adrenaline Suicide by Fear of F...

Dangerous Risk Adrenaline Suicide by Fear of Falling (Photo credit:




Fear is normal and functional. We can be grateful for it. 




Further, if we fear the function of fear, that is quite ironic. That is the functioning of fear being terrified of itself. So, we can also be grateful for the ability to perceive the extreme irony of fearing fear, of that pattern of terrified paranoia or phobia or hysteria or shame.






Now, gratitude is not instead of fear. Gratitude is not to prevent fear or fix it. Gratitude is completely distinct from fear. With or without fear, we can be grateful.





Gratitude (Photo credit: ally213)


Next, fear can lead to commitment. Fear is a state of alertness that shifts the focus of attention. Fear can be paralyzing or compulsive, or it can be invigorating or alarming or disturbing. Fear can precede the arising of an insight as well as of courage.




Fear interrupts a prior pattern of attention. That is the function of fear. We can later determine that an arising of fear was somehow presumptive, like an over-reaction. That may be much better than naive or “under-reactive” or even numbness.




No Shame, No Fear

No Shame, No Fear (Photo credit: Wikipedia)




So one stage of functionality is the capacity to fear. The absence of the capacity to fear is an extremely low level of functioning. We could make analogies of the inability to fear as a numbness or blindness or deafness. We could say “they have the eyes to see, yet they do not see. Their eyes are shut. They mouth the repeating of words, but their hearts are frozen, paralyzed, terrified, ashamed.”




To suppress fear or shame people in to shutting down their capacity to experience fear is also rather common. We can be grateful that sometimes social pressures are so extreme that we come to fear the display of fear. We may suppress the signs of fear so that we can avoid dangers that may be attracted by the display of fear. 




We can be grateful for all instances of fearing, even for the fearing of fear. We can be especially grateful that fear can remind us of what we value, that fear can shift our focus to what commitments and values are operating through the fear.



If I fear the loss of something, than I must be committed to preserving it, right? If I fear the arising of some possible development, again there must be some gratitude and commitment and value operating in the background, right?



Scared child

Scared child (Photo credit: Wikipedia)




An anti-fear culture is a culture of hysteria and paranoia and shame (of extreme fear). A pro-gratitude culture can embrace fear, including embracing the anti-fear fear and all of the misery and agonizing that goes with it: “how can I prevent people from seeing my fear? How can I inhibit my capacity to be scared or alerted or alarmed? How can I achieve numbness?”



Gratitude can recognize the commitment even in all of that. Gratitude is about recognizing what we value.



Beware of those who would train you to fear gratitude. Their shame is extreme. Their blindness is total.



They may even say “the ego should not exist.” What a funny thing to say! Or, perhaps they were just joking all along…. 😉





gratitude (Photo credit: nathalie booth)



English: Robert Plutchik's Wheel of Emotions

English: Robert Plutchik’s Wheel of Emotions (Photo credit: Wikipedia)












Gratitude or Contempt? A brief comment on governments and currencies

April 7, 2013
Tasty Food Abundance in Healthy Europe

Tasty Food Abundance in Healthy Europe (Photo credit:


As a brief point of background, I am not a farmer or fisherman. So, in other words, when I get hungry, I get food from other people- and mostly from stores.




English: Icon of U.S. currency.

English: Icon of U.S. currency. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)


Also, I use currency to conduct my business (to earn money) and then to spend to access food and so forth- like to use the internet, too. That currency is backed by the full faith and credit (and violence) of the government of the United States of America and their court systems of coercion and extortion (taxes)- and by nothing else.


However, that backing is enough. The latest US currency is in it’s 100th year of circulation, right?




6 Confederate States of America currency notes...

6 Confederate States of America currency notes three $10 notes 3 $20 notes (Photo credit: Wikipedia)


Consider that if the courts in the US stopped demanding tax payments in that US currency, then demand for the currency would plummet. As in the case of when the organized violence of the US Confederacy ceased to function, there was a collapse in the purchasing power of the currency (the Confederate Dollar) that their court systems demanded in payment for their tax extortion system of invented liabilities.




Anyway, I “need” the system to provide me food and electricity and internet service and so on (including currency). I did not build this house or this chair or this lamp or this keyboard.




So, I can thank “the system” for my wealth and my life and my internet connection. Or, I can condemn the system which provides me food and shelter and electricity and facebook.




Internet Access Here Sign

Internet Access Here Sign (Photo credit: Steve Rhode)


My main choices are gratitude or contempt. That is basically it.




I can also choose to alter behaviors like my dietary practices. I could get food from farmers or gardeners instead of from a store- and sometimes I do- but not usually.




English: Logo of the U.S. Food and Drug Admini...

English: Logo of the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (2006) (Photo credit: Wikipedia)


But that also depends on the basic spiritual alternatives of gratitude or contempt. Shall I have so much contempt for the FDA (or USA or UN or CBS) that I invest huge amounts of time saying that I do not like their policies? If I am reacting to mainstream media provocations, then I probably would.  However, that would take time away from researching health and growing food and making more money, right?




English: Twenty dollar bill, currency issued b...

English: Twenty dollar bill, currency issued by the Confederate States of America, engraved. Yale Collection of American Literature, Beinecke Rare Book and Manuscript Library, Yale University, New Haven, Connecticut. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)


I already gave a lot of sincere time and devotion to a religion of contempt and, frankly, what I learned from that is that gratitude is more functional than contempt. If you can learn from my mistakes, go ahead and choose gratitude over contempt. If you insist on learning from your own mistakes, then choose contempt over gratitude.




Rather than have contempt for the FDA or Monsanto or the government of the lobbyists, for the lobbyist and by the lobbyists, we could be grateful for even the smallest availability of high quality food- even if you have to be very diligent to find it. Your gratitude will lead you to networking with people (like me) who may even share some of our resources with you (like scientific insight as well as contacts to small, traditional farmers, etc…).




Or, you can invest in contempt. Expect to eventually serve jailtime for that or worse. Expect to have severely restricted dietary alternatives in jail. Expect to earn no money in jail. Expect to be evicted from wherever you have been living and have all your possessions auctioned to pay off your debts to your landlord (or to the bank that foreclosed on your home while you were in jail contemplating your next patriotically rebellious act of arrogant contempt).


Will eat for food

Will eat for food (Photo credit: altemark)






Or, consider that contempt can be extremely expensive. Maybe it is just not worth the investment.




But don’t take my word for it. I’ve been in jail for arrogantly defying courts. So, if you are sincere in wanting to arrogantly defy courts, go ahead. I can’t condemn for being as naive as I have also been.


Plus, maybe I will start a bail bonds company to make money off of defiant, arrogant folks like you. Maybe I will lobby for CBS to promote defiance and arrogance and contempt.





Maybe I will even say that gratitude is for sissies and Republicans and ugly people. You do not want to be an ugly Republican sissy, do you? Then do not be grateful!




People with scowling looks of contempt are obviously the sexiest, right? People who are grateful are repulsive, right?




Ehdokas Merja Vanhanen (Keskusta)

Ehdokas Merja Vanhanen (Keskusta) (Photo credit: Eurooppalainen Suomi ry)






Don’t be so grateful, PLEASE, because it is giving me a headache just to be around your quiet attentiveness. If you can’t find something negative to say, then please shut your dirty little lips before I throw heavy things at you.


Grateful people are what is wrong with the world today. They make me puke. I am so jealous of them that I have contempt for them.


Wait- did I just think that out loud? I’m sorry. I take that back. I am not jealous of you. I just hate you because you are wrong and evil and disgusting and… way more grateful than I am.












Grace and Gratitude

Grace and Gratitude (Photo credit: Wikipedia)


Gratitude into Action

April 1, 2012
English Language

English Language (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Gratitude into Action

I almost died. Be clear that I do not mean that something was so funny that I almost died laughing. I mean it literally: the functioning of my organism almost stopped suddenly.

Well, to be even more specific, let’s say that I was very scared. My heart rate shot up, my body eventually relaxed to catch my breath, and then shivers and shaking went through my body as I adjusted to the surge of chemicals like adrenalin.

Can you relate to this? Have you even experienced something similar?

I’ll tell you exactly what happened a little later. Before that, I am inviting you to use your own imagination and intelligence… rather than bias you with the particular details of my own history of a particular case of almost dying- or being suddenly exposed to the possibility of dying… like “ah, I notice that I could have just been killed. How interesting!”

So, you personally would have at least witnessed someone who gets “scared to death,” right? Sure, but not just startled- I mean really clear that their physical organism is temporary, conditional, something that begins and then ends, something that belongs to the earth itself, not to our linguistic ideas, not to our ego or our family or our government, but that ultimately belongs ONLY to God, if you like that word.

Again, I do not mean God as a particular linguistic ideal either, like loving or wise or old and white-bearded like Santa Zeus. No, I mean God as the indescribable, the one word that we know is beyond regular words, the ineffable, the mysterious, the great unknown (uncontainable) that is so far beyond our capacity for language that we can conceptually accept only that it is absolutely beyond our understanding, beyond “what we know that we don’t know.” We have no idea what the word God means, and, in the one exceptional case of this particular word, we actually might just even admit it!

Hebrew mystics have four letters for it, with each letter representing a distinct idea built in to the sequence of four related ideas, but they consider that sequence of letters to be a sacred encoding which is not to be said out loud. The Taoists even directly say this: “the Tao that can be spoken of is not the Tao.”

One cannot meaningfully declare one’s definitions of it. If one defines it with other words, that is not it. I mean by the word God this: THE fundamental linguistic unit that points to the conditionality and inherent emptiness of all other units of language.

Letters and alphabets begin and end (like in the history of a particular species or culture). Formations of an individual word begin and end- like the words “internet” or “blog” or “quark” are rather new while an ancient language that is known to have existed may now be otherwise forgotten, like an extinct species that is now just a distant legend or a big rack of dinosaur bones in a museum.

So, words come and go, and the meanings of words can change. The use and function of a particular word formation is thus ENTIRELY contextual (not inherent).

For instance, the sound of the word “right” means three distinct things. Right is the opposite of left. Right is also the opposite of wrong. Right is even a legal category distinct from privilege or any act that is prohibited or punished (as in some act that is criminalized by law: by the drafting, proposal, adoption, declaration and then the evolving administering of some new law or treaty or amendment or constitution).

However, to someone who does not know the English language, the sound of the word “right” is just a meaningless sound. Ask your pets. Even human infants do not know right from left. We either learn or else we still don’t know, and then we may go senile and forget.

Even the shapes of the letters forming the word “right” are just shapes. Each letter is just a shape. The G and the H do not even have a sound in that word, yet without those silent letters, “rit” is just not spelling it “write.”

So, we can easily demonstrate physically which is “right” and which is left, but there is nothing sacred about those terms. In sailing, we might use the terms “port” and “starboard” to refer to the same or similar distinctions. In other language or contexts, we use other sounds or words or letters or alphabets or encodings.

But the word “God” is not like all these words that are contextual, that is, inherently meaningless. God is not the opposite of the Devil either. I do not mean gods like the archetypical psychological distinctions of mythological astrology. I mean like what the Chinese call the Tao.

Ludwig Wittgenstein

Ludwig Wittgenstein (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

If we had to use a relative term of description to distinguish the term God, we might say that the word God is the opposite of all other words. It’s not like the others at all. Given that, to say anything, we would be limited to all those other words that are like that one, “God is not like those” is really about all we could say.

God is just what “we don’t know that we don’t know.” (I borrow that particular phrasing from

Face portion of a casual photo at a meeting.

Werner Erhard. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Wittgenstein… which Werner Erhard and then Landmark Education borrowed in turn- though none of them called it God or anything else, as far as I know.) Other than “we can’t describe it in words,” we obviously can’t say much about it, can we?

So, as I said before, I almost died. Here is what actually happened.

Back in the days of elementary school, Johnny and I were both crammed in to the front passenger seat of his mom’s car. I was sitting next to the door and Johnny was on my left (or, for you boaters, portside of me).

Johnny and I were in our dark blue cub scout uniforms and we were probably late for a cub scout meeting. She was taking a sharp left turn when I found out that I had not closed the passenger door all the way. It may have even been a car in which the door did not actually stay closed. Cars can eventually fall apart, too, you know!

So she’s turning the car left and I’m flying out of the open car door to the right (starboard). Johnny grabs my left hand and then I look down for one of those eternal moments at the hard black pavement speeding by me just a few feet under the soft tissue of my face.

So, maybe I did not quite “almost die.” But I did almost fall out of the car. I was as scared as I could ever recall being as of that time in my life- so not just scared of heights and shakily climbing back down the ladder from the diving board of the “high dive.”

This was not just a recognition of “I’m scared that I could have been hurt.” This was “there were cars and trucks coming from the opposite direction. I could have been run over and smashed like the flattened little animals on suburban and rural roadways everywhere. Like the insects on a car’s windshield. Like my body could have been creamed- cremated without even using a hot furnace.”

The Grouse Inn on the A624 above Chunal, near ...

The Grouse Inn on the A624 above Chunal, near Glossop, where Ludwig Wittgenstein stayed in May 1908 when he was studying in Manchester. See Ray Monk. Wittgenstein: The Duty of Genius. The Free Press, 1990, p. 29. Also see “The Grouse Inn”,, accessed 12 September 2010. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Oh yeah, I was definitely a little boy. Those are the kinds of descriptions that little boys can give, yes, even while they are poking holes in antbeds and mindlessly ripping leaves off of trees and tearing them to shreds… perhaps not unlike the legless body of a grasshopper over here and a neat stack of legs over here.

“Yes, I stacked the legs here. What do you think they just stacked themselves up like that? See how neatly I stacked them! Guilty? Why would I ever feel guilty about ripping the legs off of the grasshopper? After all, this is a heroic act. I did not feel guilty about destroying the nest of the ants, but since I had done that and they were already running all over the place, I thought that I might generously feed them this grasshopper, and, you see, grasshoppers are otherwise rather uncooperative with the entire prospect of being fed alive to ants, so you can see that the legs being attached to the grasshopper simply did not fit with my program for being generous to the ants. They just had to go. Now that I think about it, I suppose I can feed the legs to the ants later as well….”

By the way, if you do not think that your little boys have ever done any of those kinds of things (or your husband or father when they were little), well, you could be quite wrong. By the way, ladies, yes, some men will lie to you just toreduce the possibility of you going into hysterics.

Then they may casually continue carving up the turkey and tell their urban-raised grandkids fabulous stories about the turkey farms where the turkeys are raised from seeds, transplanted as saplings, and, then in the prime of their lives, volunteer to join in for an (of course) entirely bloodless harvest… in which the edible part of the turkey plant is severed from the roots. If you haven’t heard this story before, that may simply be because I personally am not your grandfather…. 😉

Ah yes: Thanksgiving- that is a holiday that was started by the Native Americans and then “borrowed” from them, you know, kind of like the rest of their culture (and continent). People may not like to admit it, but reality can be harsh. While you’re being grateful for food and family and a solid building you call home, I’m not going to ask you to remember the turkeys that gave their lives or the people who called this land their home several hundred years ago. That kind of sentimental musing is pretty-well covered in public schools already, right? Kids make turkey drawings from outlines of their hands. I did it, too. Yes, it is STILL cute and yes of course your child is still the most amazing artist in human history.

That’s all fine! You are quite welcome to be all gushing with sentimentality- go for it- but that is not what is there for me to say right now.

Life is fragile. It can end in a split second. The key word in the sentence “I almost died” is… almost.

The physical body is temporary. In fact, it is changing all the time. Just ask a teenager that is halfway through the doorway of physical maturity. Just ask some elderly person that you know as someone who used to be able to walk, but now they do not even remember that they could walk.

The physical body is changing all the time. Just spend two hours with a newborn- but make that second hour a week later than the first- and you may find that a lot can change in a week (or a month or a year or a decade or a century).

Then, to top it all off, just spend an entire minute with a grieving parent who has just been informed that their school-aged child… has just died surprisingly, like in a traffic collision in which the child flew out of the passenger seat right into the path of the school bus that you were driving. Oh, and, if you are really open to experiencing heart-opening gratitude for the fragility of life, be the one to tell them the news.

Now I could end the sharing here and it would be wonderful- at least wonderful that the sequence of gruesome stories are over- right? However, there is a reason that I began this essay which I have not revealed yet and I am going to mention it soon and not just briefly. (No, it does not involve blood. That would be gross!)

So, I thought of the title “Gratitude into Action” because of a specific interest in a particular type of action. Yes, it happens to be Thanksgiving, but if you did not already know, I am not especially sentimental about it. I picked that title because some readers might be in the mode of focusing on gratitude.

Great. So am I.

But I did say “into action.” And I did have a specific category of action in mind, and I’ll tell you what action in a bit, but first a little re-cap of this essay so far.

First, I thought of the words “I almost died” before I thought of the particular incident. Next, I was going to share with you an incident from my adulthood, but then I chose to use an incident involving me as a child. (Why? Well, this story just seemed like it would be a lot of fun to tell!)

So, by being confronted with the immediate possibility of dying as a young boy, I was suddenly grateful for life anew. Can you get that? The whole section up to now has simply been so that you can really get that by now, as we shift attention toward an obvious action that can naturally follow such a breakthrough in gratitude. The obvious action is the one that happens automatically even without anyone suggesting it.

Yes, as a young boy, I almost fell out of a moving car. Of course, to say that I almost died is pretty dramatic.

I was merely mortally frightened, which is rather different from being mortally wounded and having my parents pacing the floor of the hospital emergency room, waiting to hear the next bit of news from the paramedics and so on: “Is he going to make it or not?” No, it wasn’t that close to dying, but I wanted you the reader to be able to have a sense of the fear of that little boy (me) without it being too unnerving (and then, for my own amusement if not yours as well, I eventually moved on to what little boys may sometimes do to grasshoppers…).

Ludwig Wittgenstein's five siblings: (back) He...

Ludwig Wittgenstein’s five siblings: (back) Hermine, Helene, Margarete, (front) Paul and Ludwig. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

So, in that event of almost falling out of a moving car, I was not even physically injured at all (thank you, Johnny Elam). By the way, no, we were not wearing seatbelts.

Guess what, though? For at least the next few weeks, if you had seen me, you might have seen a little boy so attentive to buckling his seatbelt that he would be buckled in before he would even close the car door. “Ah, it’s just a little rain and wind. This will help remind you not to leave papers stacked on the backseat of the car where they can blow all over the place, mom! But at least I’m safely buckled, huh?”

So, I was going to say that Johnny was grateful for me, and that is why he grabbed me and slowly reeled me back in to the car. But that spontaneous digression I just took about me being suddenly grateful for life anew- and thus automatically attentive to wearing seatbelts- that is an even better fit with where I was already going.

Here it is. In the last several years, I have experienced a foreclosure of a home. I’ve also been repeatedly financially destitute- like more than just once or twice- in the last seven years. I’ve even spent a little time in jail (which can be both be a result of and a cause of financial trouble).

In recent years, I’ve also spent a lot of time working in a law office, ironically, that specializes in helping people who are experiencing financial challenges to file bankruptcy. Starting in mid-2002 (long before working with the law firm), I also started researching financial trends, including global trends in the lending markets. As time went on, I focused more and more on the specific financial patterns of the middle class of the US in the last few decades- as well as the psychology behind those trends of activity. But, for a moment, let’s ignore the long-term and just focus on 2008.

Some people experienced quite a startle financially in 2008. Companies that had been extremely unstable for quite a while were recognized by the masses to be unstable upon the publicizing of those companies filing bankruptcy or or least nearing bankruptcy: yes US auto giants, but also mainstream financial institutions including Merrill Lynch, Wachovia, Fannie Mae, Freddie Mac, IndyMac, Countrywide, Bear Stearns, Washington Mutual, and even the world’s largest insurance company, a US company that many in the US were not familiar with: AIG.

By the way, in my experience, most investors in the US were not only oblivious to the reality of the financial instability of those mainstream financial institutions, such that they were actually surprised by the announcement that those companies were near bankruptcy- kind of like driving at night without headlights or gambling at poker without looking at the cards- but most Americans are generally oblivious to the entire rest of the world. That is why many Americans do not know AIG even though it was the biggest insurance company in the world (as well as a US company).

The governments of places like Iceland almost went bankrupt in 2008, but how many Americans care about that? The financial crisis is all over Europe, too – very severe in places as far away as the UK and Japan, “but what does that have to do with me personally?”

Systemic (global) issues can have personal implications even before a person finds out about them. Yet, many people seem to actually think that when they found out that mainstream financial institutions were unstable… is basically when the instability started. That is like thinking that when the first raindrop hits you, that is when the clouds started to gather.

But you can see the clouds in advance of the rain actually falling- if you only would look- right? People simply have neglected to look at the stability of various mainstream financial trends- nationally and globally. Those who have looked (and are competent to interpret the simplest data) have seen for years what is coming. Those who have not looked, in contrast, have lately been very surprised- many quite unpleasantly.

In the US, college professors from the most respected institutions in the Ivy League (Harvard, Princeton, Yale, etc…) have been publishing books on the culminating of global financial instability for years (such as Elizabeth Warren, Robert Shiller, and Paul Krugman). Private researchers have been also warning about it for years or even decades (including Robert Prechter, Jim Shepherd, and myself).

Most investors, however, have presumed that their own abundance and prosperity would be safe… to such an extent that they did not look at the cards before placing their bets (bids) on aggressive speculation in real estate. But that is just the start of what I mean by oblivious.

Even people who have been directly warned of what is easily predictable have failed to invest in responsible research of “due diligence” and taking precautions- that is, they have invested in losing huge amounts of prosperity, they have gambled against very unfavorable odds and then been surprised upon losing it… for they had simply presumed that certain investing strategies that did well in the 1990s for instance would do well, what… forever? People in places that have not had the severe real estate declines (yet!) of Phoenix or Las Vegas seem to simply dismiss the idea that it could happen to them personally. I call that denial. That is exactly what I witnessed in Arizona for the last 7 years as I have warned handfuls and then dozens and then hundreds of people about the particular instability of real estate markets dependent on “easy lending.”

In Phoenix, Arizona, where I happen to be at the moment, many real estate speculators gambled big on aggressive real estate borrowing in recent years- even having been directly warned! Subsequently, many have already lost half of the value of their home, dropping the home values far below the amount owed on the home, which exposes them to bankruptcy and a loss of most or all of their assets (including many retirement accounts). Many of those retirement accounts lost up to half of their value with the stock market decline across 2008. That means that by entering huge debts not covered by the realistic long-term value of the home, then failing to sell stock that were severely over-priced, many people who were new millionaires have gambled away their entire net worth- such as by partnering ridiculous real estate gambling with over-confident stock investing. How often I have found that the two go together: obliviousness to risk in stocks and real estate.

But gold will do great right? Oh, here come the people comparing recent events to the late 1970s, again completely oblivious in their abject denial of the simple realities pointed to for years by researchers who have the remarkable distinction of… accuracy! But why consider those folks when there are people on TV pointing to the light at the end of the tunnel and saying “it simply could not be a train. In fact, there is obviously no such thing as a train.”

So, I’ve gone on for a bit now about financial instability and how people tend to be oblivious to risk and then, when they find out about the historic risk by the public announcement of the bankruptcy of the next mainstream institution or government, much of the middle class then just wants to blame someone else for the results of their own investing strategies. Many want some other government to come and rescue that other collapsing government program. They do NOT want to make any personal adjustments. After all, they are patriotic folks worshiping politicians and constitutions and words (and neglecting the simple truth of the God beyond all other words).

Taking responsibility and making personal adjustment would be ridiculous, right? These “surprised” investment gamblers are like pregnant women who act mystified when “suddenly” their water breaks. “Who knew? I was confident that this company was doing fine, and then they filed bankruptcy. Who is to BLAME for this shocking development… which, by the way, was obviously unpredictable (and which I may have been explicitly warned about for several years now)?”

So, kids, wear your seatbelts. Adults, do not sit two kids in the front seat, especially if you are late and inclined to take sharp turns. Close the doors securely and lock them.

Investors, get in contact with someone competent to review the stability of your finances- not by virtue of a TV show or a government license, but by virtue of clear competence as in a long, verifiable track record of accuracy in regard to identifying risk and opportunity well in advance of the majority of the mainstream. Also, do not just stop at someone competent in forecasting, but invest in the services of those familiar with the specific ways that you can put your gratitude for your financial abundance into practical ACTION.

For instance, you can begin by sheltering your finances from predictable market developments, reducing exposure or totally diversifying out of de-stabilizing markets like real estate, commercial commodities, and most stocks. Instead of being unpleasantly surprised, benefit from those same predictable market developments. For those that would benefit from it, shelter your finances from the default exposure to tax and court liability by using the most conservative protections built in to those systems. For those valuing debt relief, explore conservative negotiation options, perhaps including the possibility of filing bankruptcy- not as an imperative, but as a precaution- and just explore it. (By the way, as I have been explicitly telling folks for years, as the lending markets further de-stabilize, having a good credit score may not matter as much when there are “suddenly and surprisingly” not any lenders left to lend.)

So, sure, be grateful for your food today and every day, for your family and friends today and everyday, and for the solid buildings in which you dwell, and certainly for cars and the seatbelts within them. Just remember that the clouds have also gathered. The winds have started to blow. Many mainstream financial institutions that were already unstable were recognized by you to be unstable as of 2008… the winds blew down the houses made of straw cards built on sand. (I do like to mix my metaphors, don’t I: the story of the three little pigs with the house of straw, plus a house of cards, plus the scriptural reference of building on foundations of sand or of rock.)

I’m rather light-hearted about it, yes. And, it is quite serious. Many people are about to have their houses taken from them, not by high winds or floodwaters of New Orleans, but by their own investment choices. And then they will be in the rain. And they will complain and blame and some will call for rescue. All I am asking you is if you are willing to be ones of the ones in a position to help… at least to help a few of them.

Those who are deeply mortgaged into real estate, won’t be soon… either one way or the other. Which do you choose: whether you will be dry or wet when the thunderstorm breaks, when even the people who only worship words will be faced with the God of all words? We can wait until then to know God speechlessly, or just go ahead right now. Be grateful for every single aspect of your life… for so long as you shall live… starting as soon as you choose to stop doing anything else.

Related articles

secrets of spreading heaven

March 29, 2012

HEAVEN (Photo credit: Telstar2000)

The secrets of how to spread heaven



Heaven is available now for the faithful, the holy, the pure, the angelic, the godly. What does it mean to be faithful, holy, and pure? We address that after we explore what heaven is and what heaven is not.

Heaven is notable for the absence of ill will, suffering, guilt, discord, conflict, despair, and dis-ease. Heaven is the domain in which the holy,

Tibetan endless knot Nederlands: Tibetaanse On...

Tibetan endless knot Nederlands: Tibetaanse Oneindige knoop (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

faithful, and pure live. They experience in heaven first curiosity, then clarity, then gratitude and courage and inspiration as well as inner peace and powerful influence through a direct awareness of a miraculous order to all developments, in contrast to being confused by conceptual models of how things could be (speculating) or should be (agonizing).

The guilty and the proud are cast out from the domain of heaven (also called paradise). However, those who have been guilty and proud may, through humility (humiliation), have the opportunity to experience heaven.

I had ill will toward others, even a spirit of divisiveness and contentiousness, until by the grace of heaven, I returned to the humble curiosity of a child: the “beginner’s mind.” This is called the first stage: approaching heaven.

Rosa Celeste: Dante and Beatrice gaze upon the...
Image via Wikipedia

I had experienced the behaviors of suffering, worrying, and agonizing, until by the grace of heaven, I returned to curiosity and the result was learning (clarity). This is called the second stage: recognizing heaven.

Recognizing heaven as available to me, I was grateful, while before I had been afraid and resentful and blaming and frustrated and disappointed and guilty and regretful and even ashamed. The arising of heavenly gratitude is the third stage, called receiving heaven (or receiving the holy spirit of heaven or from heaven).

With each experience of gratitude, new actions came to my attention as available and relevant and valuable. This is called inspiration and also nourishing heaven. One’s capacity to influence the behavior of other people, including through the instruments of language, wealth, and other forms of influence, may shift dramatically at this stage, for one recognizes relevant practical adjustments to make in accord with changing economic values of humanity, as well as how to communicate effectively, and so on.

With clarity as well as gratitude, there is a flow of abundance and influence toward those who conduct themselves faithfully to the actions inspired by a direct awareness of the miraculous order of all developments. Such awareness may be intuitive or analytical or both. The results of inspired actions arising from heavenly gratitude and clarity always produce value- that is- gratitude for the results is inherent in the process, as distinct from blame and frustration and fear and so on.

Grateful for the miraculous order of the particular instrument of divinity expressing itself which may be called the physical bodily organism, inspired actions led from nourishing heaven to healing by way of that nourishment and training. Training includes the arts of physical awareness and the so-called “inner martial arts” (including certain forms of yoga).

So, while before I had been despairing and impoverished and envious, by the grace of heaven, I was led through humiliation to curiosity and clarity and gratitude to inspiration and then the inspired actions that cultivate the capacity to nourish myself and others materially and otherwise. By the grace of heaven, I have been saved from the hells of agonizing and contentiousness and resentment. I have been delivered from hell to heaven, with an abundance of blessings that spills over from me to all in my midst. This final stage is called spreading heaven.

Who are the faithful, the holy, the pure, the angelic, the godly? They are the ones who spread heaven.



First Published on: Jun 6, 2010

Dome of the Rotunda of the Church of the Holy ...

Dome of the Rotunda of the Church of the Holy Sepulchre in Jerusalem, Israel (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Related articles

%d bloggers like this: