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“It is inevitable that some defeat will enter even the most victorious life. The human spirit is never finished when it is defeated…it is finished when it surrenders.”Ben Stein

For me personally, the above quote is the perfect one to begin the New Year’s first post. After setting a personal target to write every day in 2010 when I began this blog, I was delighted when by December 2010, I had managed around 345 posts. After a diligent start to 2011, both reader fatigue and personal fatigue induced me to scale down my target to just around one post a week. Even this I realized was tough going and by December end 2011 I was just happy that the year had ended albeit with very little output to showcase on this blog. Then I chanced upon this quote and that injected fresh life into my blogging endeavor and here I am back with the hope of doing  much more than in 2011.

There would many like me who have enjoyed the high points of success but have also experienced the low point of drudgery that sometimes overwhelms us. This is inevitable, but surrendering meekly to it is optional. For almost every individual, life by and large is fairly routine, occasionally stressful, sporadically successful but largely very boring. At various points in this cycle of life, the temptation to give in and surrender meekly is often overwhelming, but then the spirit of survival takes over and coerces us to take charge of our life. It is this spirit that we are all blessed with which needs to be nourished so that it powers us from within to tide over the bumps, the hurdles, the pitfalls and the chasms that we need to cross in our journey called life.

This is my 4 A’s formula to help nourish the spirit.

Accept with grace. Good or bad, pleasant or unpleasant, bountiful or frugal these are extremes in a continuum and we need to accept that in the journey of life we would be getting our share of these. Rather than crave for more of good or whine about our troubles we should calmly and deliberately focus on acknowledging the fact that we receive these only because we are alive. Life by itself is a grace of the almighty and what comes with it needs to be accepted as it is. By accepting ourselves unconditionally we are ensuring that our spirit is fully charged up within us.

Avoid negativity. Finding fault, making comparisons, being dissatisfied are very human traits. Notice that these are never found in the animal kingdom and yet we proudly claim to be a more evolved species.  The irony is obvious and so we would be better off taking a leaf out of the book of the animal kingdom and wake up each morning with the hope of a better day.  By avoiding the negatives we would be letting our spirit shine brighter.

Appreciate gratefully. As an evolved species we have the power of communication, higher level of intelligence, the special gift of being creative and the individuality that is so unique to each one.  We need to realize that with these special gifts we are empowered to meet any challenge. Once we appreciate this power within us, we would be reinforcing our spirit.

Align harmoniously.  We need to align our life to our goals, our dreams, our expectations by soaking in the grace that we are blessed with, eliminating the negativity that we are tempted to embrace and by adding zest to our living by appreciating the blessings given in abundance to us. When we align our thoughts, hopes, aspirations, expectations to our material, spiritual, intellectual and social wealth we would realize that the spirit engulfs us from within and we radiate that spirit in our thoughts, words and deeds.

Remember: Success is not a place at which one arrives but rather the spirit with which one undertakes and continues the journey. (Quote by – Alex Noble)

Try this:

  1. Play a game of snakes and ladders with a group consisting of someone much older, another person of around your age but of the opposite sex and a child. Notice that the group is heterogeneous and there is an equal probability of each person winning.  Can you see life as this game being played by characters not too different from those playing with you. The only difference is that in the game of life, everyone is assured of a win.
  2. List out all your negative thoughts, fears, worries etc. one below the other. When you run out of ideas to include in this list, realign this list in order of your most worry some thoughts. Adjacent to this list, against each point write down all the blessings, positive points, the skill sets that you posses. Once you have listed this in the next column write down all your hopes, your aspirations, your dreams. Now study the table and put a line under the last row where each of the columns is filled in. Cut of all the items in the other two columns against which there is no item in any of the adjacent column. Put a time frame column adjacent to the dreams column and enter a time frame to achieve each of your dreams, hopes and aspirations. Make this your practical horoscope and envisage the future for yourself.

This post is courtesy www.actspot.com

You are also invited to visit our Inspirational and Motivational Blog

www.poweract.blogspot.com

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Unless you give yourself to some great cause, you haven’t even begun to live. William P. Merrill

From the time we are born our primitive urge is self preservation and this means that we tend to compete/ fight to live for ourselves. Beginning with our need for food, we seek shelter and security for ourselves and our loved ones because it is the herd instinct. As we grow and become adults we become independent but then we tend to become more and more selfish and self centered. While the animal kingdom exhibits similar tendencies, they never have the human weakness of greed. Thus animals that kill and live of the carcass kill only when they are hungry and even the herbivorous animals too eat just for their survival. Man alone tends to hoard, to gorge and to deny a fellow human being.  It is against this background that one needs to understand the need for the human race to consciously make amends for this selfish tendency and the one way to really do it is to give ourselves completely to a cause where the beneficiary is anyone but us.

Since our natural tendency is to live for ourselves, it is only a conscious decision that will really enable us to identify a worthwhile cause and help us spare our time, resources and energies on promoting the cause. The joy and thrill of giving out without any expectations is the real moment that we enjoy our life and appreciate the blessings that life has showered on us. The cause one stands for need not be related only to the human race but should be for the good of mankind. This means that causes as diverse as animal welfare and environmental concerns would be on the same pedestal as working for the handicapped, the aged and the sick. Whatever be the cause, the key is selfless service, total commitment and active participation.

Self less service involves the ready and free desire to be involved in the cause. If the involvement is conditional or it is taken upon reluctantly because of social pressure then the soul of the activity is missing. It is when one seeks out a cause to give selflessly that the cause becomes an integral part of one’s life else it will remain just a duty , a chore and an obligation. Total commitment means the whole hearted and absolute devotion to the cause. No matter what it takes, be it financial resources, networking, seeking out activists to propound the cause no requirement is ignored or side stepped. This is possible when we are wedded to the cause and then we become absolutely committed. The essence of real living is experienced when we give ourselves to the cause by being active participants and be physically involved in all that is required to be done. This involves giving of our time the most precious of our resources, getting our hands dirtied, something that we may not be really used to in daily life and then we experience both he pain of the other and the joy they get from our intimacy and companionship and service.

Remember: “The best way to find yourself is to lose yourself in the service of others.”  Mahatma Gandhi

Ty this:

  1. One of the toughest religious orders to join in is the Mother Theresa’s  Sister’s of Charity. Yet they have one of the largest numbers of volunteers and applications to join the congregation. What do you think is the reason for it. If there is a home for the children/ aged/ sick or orphans run by them in your city visit them and spend a day to understand how they work and what they do.
  2. Outline a plan of action to identify a cause, to commit yourself and to actively be involved in it. Don’t fall to the temptation of trying to be involved in all your interests. Chose one and give it your all. Ensure that you even slot a time of the day for the activity and to give of your time and personal efforts. Experience the joy that comes with the commitment.

This post is courtesy www.actspot.com

You are also invited to visit our WEEKLY Inspirational and Motivational Blog www.poweract.blogspot.com

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We have to pray with our eyes on God, not on the difficulties. Oswald Chambers

It is typical for most people to pray either as a ritual or when I desperation and in both cases the focus is our own paranoia. As a ritual we pray because we are afraid of divine wrath that may befall us and when we are desperate we automatically gravitate to seek divine assistance. It is significant to note that in both cases it is our self centered interest that is the bait that lures us into prayer whereas real prayer is a mix of spontaneous thanks, praise and a reaching out to god. This means our focus should be on GOD and not our personal motives or hidden agenda.

Our difficulty is that we believe in a god more because of our upbringing that focused attention on GOD, but there are many times we seem to take God for granted and/ or  wonder about the truth of GOD’s existence. Most times we have that niggling doubt that stops us from freely acknowledging God’s presence in our life. We pray without faith, we pray mechanically and we pray superfluously and more often than not we simply chant in unison with no understanding of what we are saying. When we pray without feeling, we cannot hope for our prayers to be answered, we lack the faith to believe our prayers will be answered and we are often blinded to the reality that our prayers are answered in different ways.

Since prayer is a communication with GOD, it is essential that we are able to visualize the recipient of the communication. The message has to be tailored to suit the understanding of the receiver of the communication. By focusing only on our self centered message we miss out on the opportunity to interact with GOD spontaneously and share from the bottom of our hearts. More critical is the reality that with focus on our message, which mostly is all about our wants and needs, we do not LISTEN to GOD’s communication to us. Far too many times, we never get what we seek, but in the long run we realize that we got something much more valuable than what we sought. Eg. We don’t get the marks we want but as a result we take up an education which is not out first choice. Later we realize that we got the perfect career choice.

More than anything else is the reality that when we focus on God, we seem to be able to get inspired in finding solutions to our dilemma. We also realize that our problems are really minuscule as compared to those problems of others and that many solutions are within our own grasp. Instead when we focus on our difficulties, we believe that we have passed the buck to someone more powerful who is expected to solve the problem. Thereafter, our urge to resolve the problem by using our own means is not considered a very favored option. Finally focusing on GOD gives us a peace of mind that whatever the outcome it is GOD’s will.

Remember: By my definition, prayer is consciously hanging out with God. Being with God in a deliberate way.  Malcolm Boyd

Try this:

  1. Make it a point to have 3 special intentions focused on our nation, the world at large and some individual known to you in your prayers. Have new  intentions  periodically if needed.
  2. Think of 3 specific instances in the past when your prayers remained unanswered. Reflect if you focused on God or the problem while praying. How much impact did the unanswered prayers have in your life? Was the impact positive or negative in your view?

This post is courtesy www.actspot.com

You are also invited to visit our WEEKLY Inspirational and Motivational Blog www.poweract.blogspot.com

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Every day is a messenger of God. Russian proverb

One of the most wonderful works of God is the subtle oncoming of each day, which heralds both the message that God exists and the transfiguration of the abstract day into a tangible evidence of Gods powerful messenger. What is most intriguing is the loud proclamation of GOD through the beautiful sunrise and the HIS vibrant presence during the whole day, be it in the chirping of the birds, the whistling of the winds or the bustling activity of human beings. Ironically, it is also felt in the fragilities of life be it in the form of death of person or persons, the fury of the vagaries of nature or in the poverty, pollution and pain that starkly contrasts with the peace, tranquility and love that is normally associated with God.

The chirping of the birds and the first rays of the sun brighten our morning and with each passing hour we are given the power to choose how to spend our time and enrich our life. The good news is the day is all ours. The bad news is that we have to exercise our choice in order to ensure that we have not wasted the day. What we need to focus on is what is our real task and then go about fulfilling that even if the task is not appealing, if it is challenging or it is extremely boring. If we don’t go about our task, end of day the same messenger will seek an account of how we utilized the day and our conscience will constantly prick us if we have squandered the opportunity presented to us. Even worse is that sinking feeling in our hearts that we have accomplished very little, piled on more work for ourselves and tensions and fear overwhelm us.

We also need to bear up with some rare days which herald only sad news, painful moments and hurtful memories. These days challenge our inner strength, draw our attention to the vagaries of life and very often divert our attention to the existence of GOD to whom we turn to in prayerful, weary and a pleaful manner. Everyone has to go through this cycle of pain and joy and the good news is that most times we are blessed with joy and we appreciate those times much more when we are undergoing pain. sadness and loneliness. The miracle of the day lies in its equality of distribution amongst all and its complete indifference to how one uses or abuses it. In its unhurried, impartiality it proclaims the message of GOD’s gift of each day to each one of us. The challenge for us is to appreciate it, accept it and use it profitably and purposefully for our own good and as a tribute to God’s gift of life to us. It is only if we are alive that the new day has meaning, and that the greatest gift that god SENDS US EACH DAY for each day becomes gods own messenger to awakens us and remind us of his LOVE for us.

Remember: “Don’t count the days- make the days count.”

Try this:

  1. Make an elaborate New Year resolution list. Add some personal improvement goals in it, some social work that you plan to do, some goals concerned with improving the environment and one goal dedicated to doing something that is connected with your personal passion.
  2. Outline 3 changes you will make in your life style to enhance your personal productivity. Also outline the method you will adopt to put your plan into action and to evaluate the results.

This post is courtesy www.actspot.com
You are also invited to visit our WEEKLY Inspirational and Motivational Blog www.poweract.blogspot.com

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I firmly believe a great many prayers are not answered because we are not willing to forgive someone. Dwight L. Moody

When we hold a grouse against another, we not only carry a deep resentment but there is a lot of ill will that we wish upon that person.  We work up a frenzy within us, seek retribution in return for our agony that we endure and take delight in our foes distress and pain. We even convince ourselves that forgiveness is a crime and so we cling on to our morbid pleasure of hating that person and slyly look out for some ill happening in that person’s life. Notice that in this whole process there are three things that are actually backfiring on us. We are not able to focus on anything constructive, we do not generate or emit positive energy and we are obsessed with our foe and end up neglecting our own self. It is precisely these reasons that impede us from praying in faith and reaping its bounty. Let us understand each of these impediments a little more in depth.

Have you ever tried to concentrate on some task soon after going through an ordeal? You would notice that you are distracted, a sinking feeling constantly overpowers your emotions and the task on hand seems overwhelming. Your thoughts constantly seem to go back to the source of our discomfort and hence you are uneasy and disturbed.  Under the circumstances even a pleasurable task like watching TV or reading a good book seems like a burden. Something similar happens when we carry a grudge and are unable to forgive another. Then our joys are muted, our prayers sound hollow and we lack the conviction to seek in hope and receive in faith. Obviously then it is no wonder that most times our prayers remain unanswered when our hearts are fully of revenge and there is no space for peace and tranquility.

With angst in our heart, revenge in our mind and ill will overpowering our emotions, all the positive energy is sapped out of us.  When we transmit negative energy around, it is near impossible to expect positive outcomes.  Just as a rotting corpse will attract the vultures and the wild animals, negative energy will attract only cold vibes, churn up the existing tranquility and saddled us with undesirable outcomes. When the environment is vitiated the tempo slows down, our actions are leaden and our prayers are half hearted, cold and sprayed with the foam of hate, wickedness and malice which has filled out heart and refuses to subside.

Finally, when we cannot forgive, our mind, thoughts and heart have only the destruction and ill will for our foe uppermost in our mind. With our concentration on our foe so overpowering there is little time for us to pray for our own needs and even if we did mange it, most times it would be so negative in its desires (possibly seeking bad tidings for our foe) that the prayers cannot be answered. Yet we continue to pray partly mechanically, partly in fond hope and mainly to unburden our consciousness. With the spirit missing out of prayer, it is no wonder that our prayers remain unanswered. The best way out is then to forgive our enemies, cleanse our heart and mind and then pray fervently and lo and behold even if our prayers are answered with a NO we will accept that answer with gratefulness.

Remember: “Forgiveness does not change the past, but it does enlarge the future.” Paul Boese

Try this:

  1. It is not easy to forgive someone who has wronged you a lot. Yet if you want to, it is better to take help from a matured common friend who can facilitate the forgiving process.  Sometimes the person you haven’t forgiven is long gone from your life and yet the resentment stays.
  2. Read some stories  from the Chicken Soup series on forgiveness and empathize wit those who have shared their stories of forgiveness.

This post is courtesy www.actspot.com

You are also invited to visit our WEEKLY Inspirational and Motivational Blog www.poweract.blogspot.com

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Results are what you expect; consequences are what you get. Anon

Every morning we get up in the fond hope that we shall attain some worthwhile and tangible results during the course of the day. We maybe unsure of what exactly we expect but we are fairly sure that it has to be something that is to our liking. At end of day, when we look back we could possibly be left with a mixed day some good coming out, a large amount of indifference and monotonous happenings and occasionally some disappointing and frustrating moments. We react in different ways to each day, most times reasonably happy but when going through a rough patch as would happen if a close family member is very ill, then we would be upset, irritated and annoyed. At this critical junction in our life, we actually question the unfairness of the world and wonder aloud as to what wrong we have done to face such drastic consequences.

One needs to distinguish between the consequences of our actions and the happenings of fate in order to appreciate the reality that we are faced with. Death, illness, calamities are often the work of acts of god which are beyond the realms of human understanding or reason. However, there are plenty of self inflicted consequences that we are witness to and this is purely because of our own folly. A alcoholic getting liver cirrhosis or an obese person who takes no precaution to keep fit and suffers a heart attack are examples of self inflicted consequences. When we drink excessively or take no precaution to reduce weight, we never expect life to be too harsh and so we are confident that the results of our tardiness will never be serious. Unfortunately when calamity strikes, it is then it dawns on us that we are suffering the consequences of our lethargy and indifference.

In our day to life though we often make elaborate plans and preparations and when things don’t go our way we are terribly distraught and hate the consequences. What we fail to really appreciate is that with rare exceptions when acts of god override our plans, most times it is our flawed planning or unrealistic expectations of the results that leads us to face terrible consequences. A student who despite being advised to study regularly wastes his time and hopes to do well with a last minute studies and banks on some unethical means to score well would be mortified when he/ she fails the exams. Worse still is their rationalization of the consequences as being the result of questions being asked out of the syllabus, exceedingly tough questions paper being set, the perceived unfairness  of very strict correction etc. Nothing changes the reality though and the consequences are there as proof of some very unrealistic expectations of the results.

The concept of flawed planning goes beyond just the planning but extends to the poor execution of the plan too. The sports arena is resplendent with numerous examples of these phenomena. While at the briefing the coach would have meticulously chalked out the strategy and carefully selected the players, if the opposition has unleashed an action plan not considered at all, the entire pattern of the game is now turned on its head. The root cause of flawed planning is the basic assumptions made around which the plan is drawn up. The thousands of students who attempt very competitive exams, more in hope than in faith because  their own academic credentials are weak is a classic case of how our basic assumption of our ability itself is wrong and yet we plunge in with bravado. The concept of positive thinking does emphasize that we need to keep our face to the sun so that we do not see the shadow but this does not means we should not pay attention to the potholes along the way because of which we could stumble and fall. While hoping for the best results be pragmatic and then the ultimate consequences will never be a rude shock or a result in unbearable pain.

Remember: Work joyfully and peacefully, knowing that right thoughts and right efforts inevitably bring about right results. James Allen

Try this:

  1. Attempt something that you have never tried before like going on a trek, or being a master of ceremonies or organizing a party / picnic. This requires a lot of planning and hard work all of which is centered around the results you expect. After the activity is over evaluate the outcome and study it both from the point of view of the success it gained and the areas of improvement.
  2. Recollect some of the most wonderful moments in your life and 2 of the worst moments. How much of influence did your planning or lack of it have on these good and bad moments? Do you think you would have done / reacted differently to those outcomes?

This post is courtesy www.actspot.com

You are also invited to visit our WEEKLY Inspirational and Motivational Blog www.poweract.blogspot.com

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Cold prayers shall never have any warm answers. Thomas B. Brooks

The warmth with which we shake hands and greet a person often sets the tone for the further interactions and the ultimate outcome can also be fairly accurately predicted. When we exude warmth we reinforce our self belief in the other and invite the other to place trust in us. The same holds true about prayers too. If we go through the motions of prayers as often ‘Sunday Christians’ are criticized for, without the full involvement of our body, mind and soul, the piety, the fervency and the faith that characterize prayer are absent. Instead of prayer being a support for our spiritual needs it turns out to be a mere antidote for our spiritual fears.

In reality prayer is a communion with the almighty and this implies that the communication must free, frank and preferably spontaneous. Instead for ease of use, for standardizing the implementation and for mass scale availability prayer has been reduced to a predetermined set of words and phrases to be used as instructed. Prayer is nothing but a spiritual pill administered by the spiritual doctors the priests and religious instructors. The vast majority of us are happy with this arrangement because it is readily available, quickly administered and gives one a great sense of relief from the fears of divinely backlash. Unfortunately for us ,  when we look back there is still a gnawing emptiness within, a lurking fear around and a an uneasy truce with our conscience.

If prayer has to be effective, we must offer it with full faith and gratefulness. We must be active participants in the business of prayer and be fully involved in praise, worship and thanks for the many blessings that we get from the bounty of the almighty. We must be prepared to be humble in our thoughts word and deeds when we are in the presence of the almighty and with full faith and confidence seek divine intervention for our most pressing needs. When we are frustrated that our prayers are not answered, objectively notice that this happens what we lack patience, faith and trust. Some prayers take time to be answered, other prayers are answered in a different way from what we want and then are many prayers that apparently remain unanswered but in reality are answered with a resounding NO but we refuse to heed that voice.

The warmth of prayer is never in it is length or its perfection of rendition but is manifest in its genuineness and the abiding faith with which it is offered up. A sinners prayer is often more effective and well received when offered fervently and remorsefully when seeking pardon for sins than a person masquerading as a saints feeble attempts at looking pious and god fearing. Warmth revives the spirit, brings light into gloomy souls and caresses the hapless tenderly. Ask in faith, believe in earnest and receive with thanks is the maxim that succinctly describes the perfect prayer.

Remember:   There is a vast difference between saying prayers and praying

Try this:

  1. Check out the Lord’s prayer given below and analyze it phrase by phrase. What is the message it conveys to you?
  • Our Father in heaven, hallowed be your name, your kingdom come, your will be done,on earth as in heaven. Give us today our daily bread. Forgive us our sins as we forgive those who sin against us. Save us from the time of trial and deliver us from evil. [For the kingdom, the power, and the glory are yours now and forever.] Amen
  1. Make a prayer list as under
  • List of people whom you would like to pray for
  • List of things you want that you would like to pray for
  • List of special favors you seek that your would like to pray for
  • List of blessings you have received that you would like to say a thank you prayer for
  • List of sins for which you seek forgivness

This post is courtesy www.actspot.com

You are also invited to visit our WEEKLY Inspirational and Motivational Blog www.poweract.blogspot.com

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