A Light In The Woods

“There is a candle in every soul / Some brightly burning, some dark and cold . . . Carry your candle, run to the darkness / Seek out the hopeless, confused and torn / Hold out your candle for all to see it / Take your candle, and go light your world.”

Chris Rice, “Go Light Your World”

In The Dark

I grew up in the country. Beyond our backyard was a pasture, then the woods. My brother, my cousins, and our friends liked to play in those woods. One evening after supper, we ran into the woods to play a game. We were having so much fun we lost track of time and didn’t realize that it was getting late. Before we knew it, night had fallen and we were in the dark. I began running, but of course I couldn’t see and ran smack into a tree! (I suppose you could say I couldn’t see the tree for the forest.) Fortunately for the rest of us, one of the guys had a flashlight. He turned it on and then we could see him. We all gathered around and he led us out of the woods, shining his flashlight . . . no more running into trees.

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The Difference Between Trying And Doing

“Trying” to do is different than doing and different than not doing. Trying lets us off the hook – we don’t have to succeed and we don’t have to fail. We don’t have to really do anything. That is languishing, NOT flourishing.

trying or doing

Trying Or Doing?

“If at first you don’t succeed, try, try again.”

Once upon a time, as I attended a workshop, the presenter asked me to come up to the front of the room. She laid a pencil down on the table and said to me, “Try to pick that pencil up.”

I picked up the pencil. “No,” she said, “I said ‘Try to pick it up.’ Instead, you picked it up. Now, again – try to pick the pencil up.”

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Passion And Perseverance: How Effort Leads To Achievement

Having a talent for a specific endeavor does not insure that you will do it. You must exert effort to transform the talent into a skill. Turning the talent into skill does not insure that you’ll achieve your objective. You must exert more effort to transform the skill into achievement.

A Failed Dream

I was 6 years old and excited to have the chance to take piano lessons. I loved music and dreamed about playing – hymns in church or songs for my family to sing together. Although they didn’t have a lot of money, my parents bought a nice new piano and had it placed in our living room. A friend of our family, Miss Pritchard, who played piano at church, agreed to give me lessons.

The first book was a breeze. Simple songs to start my understanding of the techniques of the piano. My teacher wrote numbers over the notes and then numbers on the corresponding keys of the piano. It was a simple matter to match the numbers on the page to the numbers on the keys.

Miss Pritchard also gave me scales to practice. But for this part, I wasn’t as diligent at practicing as I could have been — I found it boring to play the same 8 keys over and over. But I practiced my songs and when we had our first recital, I was a star! I performed the best and Miss Pritchard gave me a big hug when the recital was over.

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Practicing Accomplishment

Accomplishment is one of the elements of well-being theory. We sometimes pursue accomplishment for its own sake, as well as in conjunction with the other elements – positive emotion, engagement, positive relationships, and meaning. Using deliberate practice to develop talent and skill is one path to accomplishment.

“Can You Swim?”

A professor was being ferried across a large river. To pass the time, he struck up a conversation with the boatman.

The professor asked the boatman, “Can you write, my good man?”

“No,” answered the boatman, “I never learned to write.”

“Then you have lost one third of your life,” the professor said. “Can you read?”

“No, sir,” replied the boatman. “I can’t read.”

“Then you have lost half of your life.”

Suddenly, the ferry scraped across a large rock and it tore a hole in the bottom.

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How Purpose Leads To Accomplishment

What did you come here to do? How could you do more of it?

A Late Bloomer

I am a late bloomer. I did not follow a straight path to success or happiness or fulfillment; as a matter of fact, I am still walking that path. But over the years I have gotten closer to what those things mean for me.

My journey has been a circuitous one. I went about life for many years not really concerned about what my “purpose” was, or even if I had one. Like many people, I kept busy with work, helping to raise a family, being a husband and father, dealing with aging parents — all the every day stuff that can fill our lives.

I didn’t take much time to contemplate the larger questions: What did I come here to accomplish? What is my Job (with a capital “J”)?

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