A Prayer for the Pandemic

May we who are merely inconvenienced, remember those whose lives are at stake.

May we who have no risk factors, remember the most vulnerable.

May we have the luxury of working from home, remember those who must choose between preserving their health or making their rent.

May we who have the flexibility to care for children when their schools close, remember those who have no options.

May we who have to cancel our trips, remember those that have no safe place to go.

May we who are losing our margin money in the tumult of the economic market, remember those who have no margin at all.

May we who settle in for quarantine at home, remember those Who have no home.

As fear grips our country, let us choose love.

During this time when we cannot physically wrap our arms around each other, let us find ways to be the loving embrace of God to our neighbors.

A Great Poem – “If” by Rudyard Kipling

The current situation (economic and Corona Virus) make me think that it’s time to “keep your head while all about you are using theirs” – which in turn reminded me of this great poem.  And I thought I would share it with you.

If—

(‘Brother Square-Toes’—Rewards and Fairies)

If you can keep your head when all about you
    Are losing theirs and blaming it on you,
If you can trust yourself when all men doubt you,
    But make allowance for their doubting too;
If you can wait and not be tired by waiting,
    Or being lied about, don’t deal in lies,
Or being hated, don’t give way to hating,
    And yet don’t look too good, nor talk too wise:
If you can dream—and not make dreams your master;
    If you can think—and not make thoughts your aim;
If you can meet with Triumph and Disaster
    And treat those two impostors just the same;
If you can bear to hear the truth you’ve spoken
    Twisted by knaves to make a trap for fools,
Or watch the things you gave your life to, broken,
    And stoop and build ’em up with worn-out tools:
If you can make one heap of all your winnings
    And risk it on one turn of pitch-and-toss,
And lose, and start again at your beginnings
    And never breathe a word about your loss;
If you can force your heart and nerve and sinew
    To serve your turn long after they are gone,
And so hold on when there is nothing in you
    Except the Will which says to them: ‘Hold on!’
If you can talk with crowds and keep your virtue,
    Or walk with Kings—nor lose the common touch,
If neither foes nor loving friends can hurt you,
    If all men count with you, but none too much;
If you can fill the unforgiving minute
    With sixty seconds’ worth of distance run,
Yours is the Earth and everything that’s in it,
    And—which is more—you’ll be a Man, my son!

Gratitude – A Key to a More Purposeful Life

Image result for gratitude images

Henry Van Dyke said:  “Be glad of life, because it gives you the chance to love and to work and to play and to look up to the stars; to be satisfied with your possessions; to despise nothing in the world except falsehood and meanness, and to fear nothing except cowardice; to be governed by your admirations rather than by your disgusts; to covet nothing that is your neighbor’s except his kindness of heart and gentleness of manners; to think seldom of your enemies, often of your friends…and to spend as much time as you can, with body and with spirit. These are the little guideposts on the footpath to peace.”

From Cicero to Buddha,  philosophers and spiritual teachers have celebrated gratitude. The world’s major religions, including Christianity, Judaism, Islam and Hindu, prize gratitude as a morally beneficial emotional state that encourages reciprocal kindness.

Pastors, priests, parents and grandparents have long extolled the virtues of gratitude, but until recently, scholars have largely ignored it as a subject of scientific inquiry.

This has changed with the recent study by Dr. Michael McCollough, of Southern Methodist University in Dallas, Texas, and Dr. Robert Emmons, of the University of California at Davis, who have discovered that gratitude plays a significant role in a person’s sense of well-being.

The results of their study indicated that daily gratitude exercises resulted in higher reported levels of alertness, enthusiasm, determination, optimism and energy. Additionally, the gratitude group experienced less depression and stress, was more likely to help others, exercised more regularly and made more progress toward personal goals.  According to the findings, people who feel grateful are also more likely to feel loved. McCollough and Emmons also noted that gratitude encouraged a positive cycle of reciprocal kindness among people since one act of gratitude encourages another.

McCullough says these results also seem to show that gratitude works independently of faith. Though gratitude is a substantial part of most religions, he says the benefits extend to the general population, regardless of faith or lack thereof.

In light of his research, McCullough suggests that anyone can increase their sense of well-being and create positive social effects just from counting their blessings.

To do this (count your blessings), many people recommend that you keep a gratitude journal.  Just sit down once a day and write – “Today I am grateful for …” and then make a list of everything (or at least five things) that you are grateful for.

If you would rather do this online, you can visit            https://gratefulness.org/practice/private-gratitude-journal/      This site has much more information about Gratitude and allows you to log in and create your own online gratitude journal.

You can also download a gratitude app at https://apps.apple.com/us/app/365-gratitude-journal/id1072397377

One of my favorite gratitude tools is this incredible 6-minute YouTube video by Louie Schwartzberg  :  http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nj2ofrX7jAk .  I have found it to be a very powerful tool in discovering and understand gratitude.

I think that Albert Schweitzer summed it up best when he said “To educate yourself for the feeling of gratitude means to take nothing for granted, but to always seek out and value the kind that will stand behind the action. Nothing that is done for you is a matter of course. Everything originates in a will for the good, which is directed at you. Train yourself never to put off the word or action for the expression of gratitude.”

 

 

 

 

Gratitude – A Key to A Richer Life (updated from a 30 jan 2012 post)

An Exercise to get 2020 off to a Great Start

I picked these questions up at a wonderful workshop I attended a few years ago and have found them very useful to think about each year.

Before beginning a new year in full force, it can be supportive to complete and acknowledge the previous year.. I hope that spending a few minutes with the following questions will help you complete the last year and start the new year on a strong note!

Completing and Remembering the past year

  • What was your biggest triumph in the past year?
  • What was the smartest decision you made in the past year?
  • What one word best sums up and describes your past year experience?
  • What was the greatest lesson you learned in the past year?
  • What was the most loving service you performed in the past year?
  • What is your biggest piece of unfinished business in the past year?
  • What are you most happy about completing in the past year?
  • Who were the three people that had the greatest impact on your life in the past year?
  • What was the biggest risk you took in the past year?
  • What was the biggest surprise in the past year?
  • What important relationship improved the most in the past year?
  • What compliment would you liked to have received in the past year?
  • What compliment would you liked to have given in the past year?
  • What else do you need to do or say to be complete with the past year?

 

Creating the coming year

  • How will you acknowledge those who most impacted your life last year?
  • What would you like to be your biggest triumph in the coming year?
  • What advice would you like to give yourself in the coming year?
  • What is the major effort you are planning to improve your financial results in the coming year?
  • What would you be most happy about completing in the coming year?
  • What major indulgence are you willing to experience in the coming year?
  • What would you most like to change about yourself in the coming year?
  • What are you looking forward to learning in the coming year?
  • What do you think your biggest risk will be in the coming year?
  • What about your work are you most committed to changing and improving in the coming year?
  • What is one as yet undeveloped talent you are willing to explore in the coming year?
  • What brings you the most joy and how are you going to do or have more of that in the coming year?
  • Who or what, other than yourself, are you most committed to loving and serving in the coming year?
  • What one word would you like to have as your theme in the coming year?

Stock Performance Around Recessions

Stock Performance Before, During & After Recessions

 

A few weeks ago I urged readers to get used to the fact that recessions are a fact of life that they need to get used to every 4-10 years or so. I shared the following table with each recession since the late-1920s:

Recessions HistoricalThe next logical step from here is the see how stocks performed in and around these past recessions. I only have monthly S&P 500 returns going back to the mid-1950s, but that was good enough to show the total returns leading up to, during and after each of the past nine recessions:

recession perf 

 

You can  the complete article here