I just returned from an amazing weekend of camping in Denver where we had a close encounter of the mountain lion kind. A tip for those of you who are interested in tracking mountain lions, or not tracking mountain lions (ie avoiding them), if you’re hiking and you encounter a very strong odor that smells like urine, you are probably very close to a mountain lion, or a hiker that recently drank a ton of water. Nevertheless, mountain lions typically mark their territory with “scent mounds,” and that is where the smell comes from. You can also identify when a mountain lion is nearby as vultures, ravens etc. may circle mountain lion “food caches.” Mountain lions also walk with their claws retracted, so the toe prints will be round.
In any case, this summer has been the toughest summer of my life. From a perspective of work, school, and personal life, it seemed that everything that could possibly go wrong did, and it was very hard, and very painful. One thing I have really been challenged with is how to pursue happiness and contentment in these times, and how to forgive people in the toughest of situations, even when no mercy or forgiveness is extended to you. One thing I’ve been really wrestling with lately is what does it mean to live that full, abundant life that Jesus promised. Is it really the best life, or is there another way? So I want to walk through some of his teachings in the coming weeks and really try to live those out and see what insights we can discover.
I was at a retreat a couple of weeks ago in the mountains just outside Tucson, Arizona, and we had the leading experts in positive psychology come to speak to us. It was revolutionary stuff. I highly recommend watching the documentary movie Happy, and reading books on positive psychology by Martin Seligman, Robert Muller, and Bob Nozik. Also, I highly recommend the recent book The Tools: Transform Your problems into Confidence, Courage, and Creativity by Phil Stutz and Barry Michaels.
One of the teachings that stuck with me was from Robert Muller, who worked at the United Nations and was formerly imprisoned in the Nazi concentration camps in Germany in WWII. His book, Most of All, They Taught Me Happiness is amazing. His website has several poems he recommends reading in the morning. When I was up in the mountains in Colorado this past week, I woke up early in the morning, retired to an aramos tapos or lonely place, as Jesus typically did in the gospels, and prayed and read these poems. I’ll share two of my favorites with you, and also link to his website where you can print them out. See http://www.robertmuller.org for a copy of all of his “decide to” poems.
Decide to be happy
Render others happy
Proclaim your joy
Your miraculous life
Do not listen to promises
Do not wait for a better world
Be grateful for every moment of life
Switch and keep on
The positive buttons in yourself,
Those marked optimism, serenity,
Confidence, positive thinking, love
Pray and thank God every day
Meditate – smile – laugh
Whistle – sing – dance
Look with fascination at everything
Fill your lungs and heart with liberty
Be yourself fully and immensely
Act like a king or queen unto death
Feel God in your body, mind, heart, and soul
And be convinced of eternal life and resurrection.
Decide to Forgive
For resentment is negative
Resentment is poisonous
Resentment diminishes and devours the self
Be the first to forgive
To smile and take the first step
And you will see happiness bloom
On the face of your human brother or sister
Be always first
Do not wait for others to forgive
For by forgiving
You become the master of fate
The fashioner of life
A doer of miracles
To forgive is the highest
Most beautiful form of love
In return you will receive untold peace and happiness