1. Putting a Positive Spin on Views about Man and Nature

    June 2, 2014

    Putting a Positive Spin on Views about Man and Nature


    by Sue Chehrenegar

    In an earlier article about beauty and the meaning of life, I wrote about those people who work to protect the earth’s natural beauty. Some segments of the population applaud such efforts; others tend to laugh at talk about saving the earth.  This week, I spoke with a woman who had become discouraged by the stark division between environmentalists and those who show no interest in preserving the earth’s natural beauty, along with its resources.

    She believed that there ought to be a way of bringing those two groups together. Thus, she thought-up a way for introducing a sense of unity into what has become a very divisive issue. She has put a positive spin on that controversial topic by focusing on the fact that the typical person respects the God-given order of things. Hence, she has chosen to reach-out to the members of various faith groups.

    I liked her idea, as so I decided to read more about order in the environment. As I was reading, I discovered that her concept helped to highlight the reason that an environmentalist finds it relatively easy to introduce plenty of meaning into his or her life. The book which I have been reading was published way back in 1974, but it tackles a subject that is the focus of online discussions now, forty years later.

    I discovered that I had read and studied this particular book before. In fact, I had underlined the author’s definition of order. He had defined order as a condition in which things have been arranged with respect to their purpose. In other words, a consideration of purpose aids someone who must carry-out the act of putting a group of things in order Only by considering each object’s purpose can someone identify some sort of integrating principal, an element that shows how those various things are related.

    Now, according to the author, there are certain qualities that are related to order. The author mentions both clarity and beauty. A person with a strong religious faith has clarity regarding what is considered right and wrong. Hence, a religious person can appreciate the need for clarity, and, therefore, such a person ought to be able to understand why some people advocate for preservation of the environment.

    Once the author of this one book has presented his concept of clarity, he has turned to the concept of beauty. According to him, beauty can be categorized as the highest expression of order. The author speculates on why humans have such a love for beauty. He states that because life depends on order, those who become aware of its presence experience of sense of grandeur and majesty.

    Grandeur and majesty are words that are often used to describe our Creator. Hence, this one author’s observations on order and beauty have managed to shine a limelight on how religion might be used to put an end to the divisive nature of discussions about the environment. In other words, his words have helped to put a positive spin on any such discussion.

    As someone who writes an occasional piece for dreampositive.info, I admire any attempt to change a negative into a positive. I would also like to mention one particular website: www.edenkeeper.org. The woman who I talked with this past week added meaning to her life by creating that specific website. Now she invites others to contribute articles that focus on religious news, and how that news relates to preservation of the environment.

    I hope that those who read all the posted articles on that particular website will begin to understand the message that I have been re-reading this past week. Meanwhile, I am pleased to share the thoughts of some people I once knew, people who appreciate why a person would strive to have a meaningful life. I once enjoyed an evening in the home of the book’s author (Daniel Jordan), a man whose life ended much too soon. Dr. Daniel Jordan was one of the leaders of Bahai religion and was killed by an extremist in 1982 while he was visiting New York City.

    Dr. Jordan’s book dealt with so many significant subjects, that he asked a colleague to index all the information for him. The man who took-on that task (Geoffrey Marks) happens to be married by college roommate. Thanks to my roommate, I had a chance to meet Mr. Marks and lots of other people who have worked to make their lives more meaningful.

    Image Credit: https://www.flickr.com/photos/alicepopkorn/3704377275/


  2. Never Stop to do Acts of Kindness

    April 25, 2014

    Never Stop to do Acts of Kindness

    by Sue Chehrenegar

    This past week, I gained a greater insight into the meaning of life by helping a writer with a limited command of the English language. He had contacted me through my husband. Like that struggling writer, my husband had grown up speaking Persian, long before he had begun to converse in English.

    The man who sought my help with writing a short essay first asked for a better way of referring to the act that he called “making good.” I suggested that he use “doing a favor.” Then my husband indicated that the essay writer wanted to say something like this: Never stop to do a favor. At that point, I recommended that he re-phrase the sentence, changing it to this: Never stop to do an act of kindness.

    The essay writer liked that suggested sentence, but he wanted to learn if the same thought could be expressed in a few other ways. I was asked to send him an e-mail, and to include in that e-mail two or three ways for urging someone to be kind/make good. While I was writing that e-mail, my husband offered some suggestions, and that was when I gained a greater insight into the meaning of life.

    First my husband explained to me that the essay writer wanted to make sure that someone who had chosen to perform an act of kindness did not get discouraged easily. He realized that someone who has been rebuffed after trying to be kind might get discouraged. With that thought in mind, I added to the sentence I had suggested earlier.

    This was my first entry in the e-mail that I had been asked to write: Never stop to do acts of kindness, even if you should get hurt. If that happens, pray or meditate about what happened, and they try a different way of showing your kindness. That was helpful, but my husband indicated that it was a bit too long. He asked me to try condensing my suggested words of guidance.

    At that point, I added a second sentence to my e-mail. I wrote this: Never stop to behave in a way that shows how much you want to be kind to another person, even if you get hurt. As I sought to come-up with yet a third means for conveying the same thought, I heard my husband say something like this: Never stop to enjoy the beauty of life.

    That was when I realized that a readiness to be kind to others adds meaning to life and makes it more beautiful. That realization helped me to add two more sentences to the group that I was planning to send to the struggling writer. The first sentence that I added was this one: Never stop to behave in a way that shows how much you want to be kind to another person, even if you get hurt. Then I added this sentence to my e-mail: Keep meaning in your life, and never hold-back from performing an act of kindness.

    By helping that one gentleman, I had gained a keener sense of the significance of a quest for meaning. It represents an attempt to enhance the beauty of existence on this earth. For some people efforts that are aimed at protection of the earth’s natural beauty have made their lives more meaningful. I will write more about protection of the environment in another article.

    For others, the beauty enjoyed by the humans who live on this earth is only possible when men agree to cooperate with one another. Those are the people who seek to contribute to the development of a great civilization/society. Their ability to make such a contribution has made their life more meaningful.

    Of course, there are many ways to contribute to the development of a society. That can be accomplished by creating works of art, by voicing an opinion on an important issue, by teaching young people, by healing those who are sick, by aiding the sharing of information or by helping to build various structures, just to name a few.

    Perhaps you have a skill or ability that you can use to make the earth even more beautiful. Maybe you are ready to start working on learning a new skill. Take whatever skill or knowledge you have learned and use it in a kindly fashion, but recall this one last sentence that I sent to the essay-writer: Do not be disturbed by what has resulted from an act of kindness that you have shown to another. If you do that, you are sure to feel that you have a meaningful life.


     Image Credit: www.flickr.com/photos/markjsebastian/7824209576








  3. Millennial Generation Wants Make the World a Better Place

    April 2, 2014

    Millennial Generation Wants Make the World a Better Place

    by Sue Chehrenegar


    According to a recent poll, one with some very interesting results, a large group of young men and women could be viewed as members of a party on a quest. The poll’s results, which were posted on the website for the Barna Group, indicated that up to 87% of the young people that had been surveyed wanted to have a meaningful life. In other words, each of them hoped to discover how to give true meaning to their lives.

    Most people would agree that a meaningful life is one that manages to better the world in some way. Yet that does not really explain what approach ought to be pursued by someone who wants to give-back to others, in order to improve the world in some fashion. What aspects of a lifestyle allow it to qualify as one that others would view as noteworthy and meaningful?

    Would a readiness to become a continuous source of commentary on how to behave demonstrate the type of qualities that one could expect to find in a noteworthy individual? Well, more than 50 years ago, children were encouraged to believe that such was the case. Those children had heard their parents say a phrase such as this: Do as I say, not as I do.

    Now, however, people have learned to be wary of those individuals who behave in ways that contrast sharply with the recommendations made in their comments. In other words, it is best to avoid those who have chosen to utter words that differ markedly from their deeds. The utterance (or the writing and publishing) of such words does not really add great meaning to any life.

    The deeds that do add meaning to a life are those that could be termed pure or goodly. A pure deed is one that has been done with the idea of providing the recipient with an added benefit. It has not been seen as a means for gaining greater recognition, or for collecting some quick cash.

    A goodly deed is one that would be viewed as virtuous. It might be an act of kindness. It could be a true demonstration of courage. It could be the type of behavior that encourages others to act in the correct manner. That was what Gandhi would do, when he would fast until a situation had improved to his satisfaction.

    Gandhi’s conduct, although unusual was certainly commendable. Young people who display commendable conduct have reason to feel that they have provided their lives with an added bit of meaning. They have behaved in a way that has highlighted their desired to make the world a better place.

    Of course, it is not always easy to follow a path such as the one taken by Gandhi. Indeed, those who try to go down such a path must expect to encounter some roadblocks. Those are the tests that help to make a life all the more meaningful.

    A meaningless life could be compared to a barren field. It might look perfectly smooth, but it cannot be used to produce any crops. It cannot be a place where trees bear fruit or where a sown field can yield a harvest. It has not been dug into or plowed; it has not been tested.

    When a young person on a quest for greater meaning faces a test, that same person shapes his or her spirit in the same way that a bit of barren ground could be dug-into and shaped. That testing allows the tested person to have a stronger spirit. That stronger spirit exists inside of an individual who has the ability to succeed, after choosing to launch a quest for a meaningful life.

    Image Credit: http://www.flickr.com/photos/71264537@N03/6443166521

  4. If You Don’t Want To Regret About Your Life In 10 Years

    November 5, 2013

    If You Don't Want To Regret About Your Life In 10 Years

    by Alex Strike

    Once, I’ve read such an expression: “Do not behave as if 500 years are left for you to live”. I do not know why, but these words made me think of my life in a different way. You must admit, that usually we do not think about the fact that tomorrow might not come; and one day we look around and confess that we lived a wrong way. We start thinking about the things we would change or do in a different way if we were ten years younger for example.

    Were you happy all these years? Did you love enough? Did you do what you wanted exactly? Maybe it would be better to do something today in order not to regret about your life and missing opportunities in ten years? What can you do right now for your tomorrow’s happiness?


    1. Think of health


    Your body is a house of your soul, that is why think and care about it as the most important thing you have in life. If you do not have health, you will have nothing at all, so, eat and rest well, and do not forget about exercising as well.


    2. Love


    Love may come to your life from different sources, that is why just do not miss an opportunity to love something. It will give you a chance to understand how much beauty is around you every day, and you will surprise how easy it is to notice it and get pleasure of it.


    3. Laugh


    Some of us take their life too seriously. Why should we do this anyway? Every day it is possible to find humor in something that surrounds us, so, do not ignore such a chance. Laugh as much as you can, find positive moments everywhere, enjoy every moment your life brings to you.


    4. Do not keep silence


    How often do we hide what we really think? Do you really think that no one around you do not know about your feelings? Do not keep silence, when it comes to relations with other people: if you love a person – tell him/her about it; if a person hurts you – tell him/her as well.  Is it difficult for you to express your feelings? Writing a letter will be a perfect variant for you then.


    5. Do not live in the past


    We all have the past, and we often think of it wondering about “what if…”. Moreover, some people believe that the past can be changed (we all remember Jay Gatsby, do not we?). Forget about it! It is done already, and there is no reason to regret about anything that can’t be changed. So, it’s high time to throw all regrets away and think of your past as memories, nothing else.


    6. Do not crave for material things


    We all want fame, popularity, much money, beautiful people around, etc., and we all crave for it for the whole life. We think that we’ll become happy at once we get all these material things. But the truth is that your expensive clothes and cars are the last things you will think of when you are old. The more chances are you will remember your loyal dog and those feelings it gave you. So, just stop craving for all material only.


    7. Accept what you can’t change


    There is no point to regret and worry about anything you can’t change. And even if you think you should have entered another university or married another person, there are things you can’t change already. The only thing you can do is to re-evaluate all of them and think logically what you can change. Follow your instincts, or just try to change your attitude towards the situation you can’t change.


    8. Do what you love


    Yes, it sounds so obvious, and we all definitely heard this advice, but… Do you follow it? No, think again! You will never regret about spending time with people who make you happy; you will never regret about your holidays and vacations… But you may regret about all missing opportunities: about a book you have not read, about courses you have not attended, and so on. Be open to new hobbies, and do what you really like in this life.


    9. Open your mind


    Do not be afraid of thinking about things in a different way. Open your mind to new opportunities and possibilities, change your perspective, and you will see how easy it can be to improve yourself and your relationships with people around. Feel less bitterness, feel less anger, and open a new world to yourself.


    10. Be grateful


    Maybe you do not know this fact, but gratitude can really improve you: your health, self-worth, spirituality, happiness. The sad truth of life is the fact it will never be perfect, but it does not mean you have nothing to be grateful for. Do not forget to thank life for all those big and small joys it gives you.



    Image Credit: http://www.flickr.com/photos/federicoravassard/8568683430

  5. Achieving Your Health Goals with Nutrisystem

    October 30, 2013

    Breaking mental barriers is often necessary to achieve your goals. Our thoughts precede our emotions, and our emotions fuel our actions. This is true when you want to lose weight, too. You first need to see it in your mind. You need to visualize yourself fit and healthy. Once you bring into your mind those emotions of having energy, vitality, and looking good, then taking action toward achieving a healthier you becomes easier. You don’t need to push yourself every morning to exercise and eat healthy. Instead, your goal pulls you into taking the right action.

    I recently read about Robert, an obese individual who achieved his weight loss dream after realizing that the battle is in his mind. He eliminated barriers in his mind that had sabotaged his previous weight loss attempts. For the first time he started picturing himself thin, healthy, and whole. The change came from a program called Nutrisystem.

    Achieving Your Health Goals

    So what is a Nutrisystem? It is a weight loss program that began as meeting places to provide products and counseling for success.  Since the late 1990s, the program was changed and designed to sell directly to the consumer, becoming one of the most popular online resources for easy, healthy weight loss.  It is implemented for people of all ages and genders, from plans to help the diabetic, teens ages 14 to 17, women, vegetarians and individuals of senior years.  You choose your plan, make your food choices and watch the foods get delivered straight to your door.  While on the program, you have total support from staff and a forum of other members who are on the same weight loss journey. Robert from South Carolina was looking for such help and decided to take the plunge.


    How Robert Succeeded with Nutrisystem


    Robert, like so many of us, has tried every diet plan for the past 20 years in hopes of shedding some pounds.  He heard of the Nutrisystem program and decided to give it a try, noticing progress in only a few days from the date he received his food order.  Robert was so happy with the food choices and the ability to adapt the foods to meet his irregular work and eating schedule.  What impressed him was the personal support by real people.  He stated that “questions I had were always answered by a real person that seemed to actually care about me.”


    Beside the personal support, Robert was delighted with all the online tools to success such as the ability to set realistic goals, weight tracking, interacting with others he can relate to, feedback and comments from the community along with menu and recipe ideas using the Nutrisystem foods.  In order to fit his busy schedule, Robert was able to download a diet tracker onto his cell phone for continual help, losing a permanent weight loss of 80 pounds.


    For those who worry that pounds will try to return, he offers some tips; read labels, eat healthy snacks, watch sodium intake and calories.  Through the Nutrisystem program, you learn healthy eating habits for long-term success.  It is always helpful to have the love and support of friends, co-workers, others on the weight loss journey and family.


    Savings on the Way to Weight Loss


    People most often feel that Nutrisystem can be a costly weight loss choice although it is economical if you consider the cost of groceries compared to the foods provided.  To make the plan more affordable, nutrisystem.com and various other sites offer discounts to encourage membership and weight loss.  Some discount options can be found at weightlosstriumph.com while others are available at savings.com.  Such discounts may include $50 discount from your first order with a 20 percent discount on subsequent auto-delivery orders, $30 off of your first order plus the special going on right now for 35 percent off of your first order and 5 percent every month thereafter, up to a total of a 50 percent discount.  If you choose to order ala carte and form your own plan, you can order a membership for about $50 which guarantees you 20 percent off all subsequent orders and free delivery for up to a year. You choose the plan that best meets your needs.


    Weight Loss Options Similar to Nutrisystem


    It is sometimes difficult to make a decision on choosing the best weight loss program.  Some of the plans similar to Nutrisystem are Jenny Craig and Medifast along with other options such as Weight Watchers, ediets.com and dietsonthego.com that can help you choose the best plan that meets your needs and lifestyle.  You just need to do your research if you are looking for the best eating plan that fits your schedule and way of life.


    What keeps you from achieving your goal?


    Perhaps, you don’t have a strong “why” behind it. Whether you want to lose weight, make more money, or find the mate of your soul, breaking emotional and mental barriers is necessary to realize your dream. Once you clarify your goal and empower it with a strong “why”, then commit to making it happen. Robert succeeded because he made a commitment, and so can you.


    Image Credit: http://www.flickr.com/photos/32447182@N00/4895571106/


  6. Shopping Carts

    May 27, 2013

    Shopping Carts

    by Audrey  Hollingshead

    It was late. I had a few hours before my husband would pick me up from my crappy job and he could not come soon enough. What made things even worse was that it was my turn to do “carts,” a part of the job that had me gathering in ALL the shopping carts from the parking lot. Even though I had done this task many times, and well, it was one I still loathed beyond reason. Why did I have to be the one to do it the last two hours of my shift? Why did I have to work SO late? WHY was it that I never got to leave at a normal time? I silently complained a few moments more and then went outside.

    As usual I started on the smaller side of the lot, making sure to round up all the carts from the hard to reach spots where our genius shoppers had parked them. Once that area was done I’d clear the more conventional spaces and gradually work my way across the lot. As the hours wore on and the cart numbers thinned out I started to feel different. Not just tired, but satisfied. Because of my hard of pushing and gathering, the carts no longer blocked parking spaces and were finally lined up in an orderly way. Customers could also get them more easily, a goal I strived for. By the time my shift was over I was feeling MUCH better! Not only was I DONE for the night I had also DONE something constructive, and that was enough to get me through the last grueling hours of my shift.

    I don’t blame you if you readers find this a little silly. They were just carts, after all. How happy can pushing metal make anyone, really? A lot, actually. As this website has pointed out before, people who exercise on the reg do tend to have less stress. Many people (my lifelong runner of a father included) swear by it, claiming that exercise makes your body simply too tired to stress over life. But what they don’t realize is that, silly or not, this notion has been around much longer then the exercise craze.

    Chop Wood, Carry Water.

    While the origin of this saying appears unknown, we do know the complete saying is “Before Enlightenment chop wood carry water, after Enlightenment, chop wood carry water.” The shortened version is a staple utterance of my fathers and it was not until I had my crappy job that I saw the wisdom of it. So what does it mean?

    On the surface it seems to convey that we should do menial chores no matter what our spiritual status is. But if we think about this phrase a moment we see that what it’s really saying is that we need to take pleasure in the chores. By doing them it gives our mind something to focus on other then our stress. But more importantly, it gives us a chance to live in the moment, something we have a hard time doing.

    We get so tangled up in the fabric of life that we barely take the time to notice the threads that weave it, and those mind focusing chores are some of the HUGEST threads. They connect us to the “am” instead of the “was” or “will be,” while also giving our bodies that much need stress-reducing work out.

    But I think one of the biggest pluses of doing mindless tasks is that they let our mind decompress and think more clearly. Got a problem you just can’t seem to solve? Find solutions while washing the dishes. Can’t figure out how to start that project you always wanted to? Get ideas while mowing the lawn. Need to write a paper and can’t get passed the title page? Think about it while folding laundry or walking the dog. Doing something unrelated to whatever you’re writing is a GREAT way to get ideas. I do this ALL the time, in fact. Especially when I have done all the research but can’t seem to get started. I’d be in the middle of pushing a cart and BAM! An idea would hit me.

    Even though I eventually quit to pursue my dream of writing, I walked away with a great anxiety reliever and a reminder that sometimes it’s the little things that make the big things that much better. Thank you.

    And remember,

    Dream Well! Dream Positive!


    Image Credit: https://www.flickr.com/photos/boutmuet/3400313680

  7. On Meaning In Life and Logotherapy – based on “Man’s Search for Meaning”

    May 18, 2013

    meaning in life and logotherapy

    “Ever more people today have the means to live, but no meaning to live for”. —Viktor Frankl

    by Amanda Greene

    An analysis of Viktor Frankl’s book on meaning of life and Logotherapy style of psychoanalysis.

    Psychiatrist, neurologist and social visionary Viktor Frankl developed Logotherapy/Existential Analysis (LTEA). In this school of thought in psychology, the search for a meaning in life is identified as the primary motivational force in human beings.

    Frankl’s approach is based on three philosophical and psychological concepts:

    • Freedom of Will
    • Will to Meaning
    • Meaning in Life

    The motivation for Frankl’s path in life as a psychiatrist was born of his own struggle and grief. He was imprisoned in four different Nazi concentration camps, including Auschwitz, between 1942 and 1945. He beat some amazing odds and survived the ordeal although his parents, brother, and pregnant wife all fell victim to the horrors. Over three years’ time, with all that he witnessed in the death camps, he was able to turn his awful experience and the observations he made during it into a positive lesson for spiritual survival; he dedicated his life to helping and others through their psychological troubles and inspiring millions through his books.

    His most popular book, a recounting of his experiences during World War II is “Man’s Search for Meaning”.  It is also considered an influential self-help book that illustrates his school of thought, which is prevalent in psychotherapy practices still today.  The book has been translated into twenty four different languages and, at the time of Frankl’s death in 1997, his book had sold over 10 million copies. “Man’s Search for Meaning” is listed among the ten most influential books in America according to a reader survey that asked readers to name a “book that made a difference in your life”.

    A recent Psychology Today  article explains Frankl’s message is “ultimately one of hope: even in the most absurd, painful, and dehumanizing situation, life can be given a meaning, and so too can suffering.” His experiences in the horrendous conditions of a concentration camp were the catalyst of forming his school of thought in psychology that still applies today. What was no doubt some of the worst conditions imposed upon humans brought him to the deduction that human motivation in life is meaning. This was very different than the previous schools of thought from Freud and Adler who were also Viennese psychotherapists. Freud maintained that human motivation was based on pleasure.  Adler’s way of thinking was that power was the basis of human motivation. After his release Frankl founded the school of Logotherapy, which is often referred to as the ‘Third Viennese School of psychotherapy’ because it came after those of Freud and Adler. Logotherapy’s name comes from the Ancient Greek word logos meaning ‘reason’ or ‘principle’. The goal of Logotherapy is to carry out an existential analysis of the person and, in so doing, to help him discover meaning for his life. Frankl, believed that meaning can be found in the following three ways:

    • Creativity or giving something to the world through self- expression,
    • Experiencing the world by interacting authentically with our environment and with others, and
    • Changing our attitude when we are faced with a situation or circumstance that we cannot change.

    Based on his own experience and the experiences of those he treated in his practice, Frankl argues, “we cannot avoid suffering but we can choose how to cope with it, find meaning in it, and move forward with renewed purpose.” LTEA circles around the idea of the discovery and pursuit of what we personally find meaningful. He did not question why all of those innocent people died in the concentration camps, but pondered why any lived. It was not a question of wanting to live for many; it was finding meaning and purpose. According to Frankl, “The greatest task for any person is to find meaning in life.” He listed the three ways he believed individuals could achieve this: work (doing something significant), in love (caring for someone), and finding courage in difficult times. He maintained the idea that suffering in itself is meaningless; it is the way in which we respond to suffering that gives it meaning.

    Perhaps the most powerful message from Frankl that we can all learn from and can be applied to all events past, present and future is that forces beyond your control can take away everything you possess except for one thing and that is the freedom to choose how you respond to a situation.

    His theories apply today, especially with the many unfortunate incidents that occur in our daily lives, personal tragedies and national incidents that make most question how and why. Senseless shootings, environmental accidents, threats of war, and depletion of Earth’s resources all contribute to negative thoughts and feelings of hopelessness. Yet people still find meaning in the world and meaning in everyday life. When someone sets up a charity to honor loved ones lost so that others can be helped and when the father of a fallen US Soldier hands out American flags to promote pride of our country, they are doing something significant and not letting the circumstances out of their control interfere with responding in a way that has meaning.

    Born in Vienna in 1905 Viktor E. Frankl earned an M.D. and a Ph.D. from the University of Vienna. He published more than thirty books on theoretical and clinical psychology and served as a visiting professor and lecturer at Harvard, Stanford, and elsewhere. In 1977 a fellow survivor, Joseph Fabry, founded the Viktor Frankl Institute of Logotherapy. Frankl died in 1997.

    His therapeutic techniques are still used by many psychologists and psychiatrists today in an effort to help people help themselves. This is achieved through self-analysis with the help of a psychotherapist and guided self-observation. The therapist revisits the improper behaviors in an exaggerated fashion so that it can be evident to the patient. The goal is to get to the point where patients can distance themselves from situations enough it can help them see the wrong thought patterns and inappropriate behaviors. Patients are then guided to making conscious decisions to find meaning in all situations and restore productive living.

    Image Credit: Sheldon Wood