What’s Your Empty Water Jar?

Row after row of clay waterjugsAre you familiar with the story in the Gospel of John chapter 4 about Jesus’ meeting with the woman at the well? I’ve been taught it since I was in Sunday School. You wouldn’t think there’d be anything new for me to glean from it, would you? But there is.

We studied the passage this week in the wonderful Bible study I attend. There was a discussion question about an issue that I’d never considered before. Perhaps I’d better set the stage a bit, just in case you’re not familiar with the narrative:

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Self-awareness isn’t the same as self-absorption

Lincoln reading to his sonPicture two runners in a race. The first one is thinking, “I’m so tired. I’m not going to make it. My heel’s getting a blister. I should have gone to bed earlier last night. I should have drunk more water before the race. Everyone’s passing me. I’m not going to make it.” The second one is thinking, “Okay, not such a good idea to stay up late last night. I need to just pace myself, get to each fencepost. Feeling a little dehydrated. Well, nothing to be done about that now. Focus on the race. Catch up to that guy ahead of me. Plan better next time.

Clear the Decks!

PictureThe Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up:  The Japanese Art of Decluttering and Organizing by Marie Kondo, trans. by Cathy Hirano, published in 2014 by TenSpeed Press, Berkeley CA.

Now folks, this is a somewhat weird book.  I highly recommend it or I wouldn’t include it here, but there’s no question that Ms. Kondo has her own idiosyncratic view of how you should treat your possessions.  Being one of her clients must be quite an experience, as she insists that things be done her way or else.  (She has a three-month waiting list for her personal consultations, so people don’t seem to mind.) She has two central ideas.  The first is the one that’s the most problematic for me:  that you must do the tidying up of your surroundings all at once.  If you do it gradually, she says, you’ll never finish.  In an ideal world she’d probably be right, but most of us can’t really take a whole weekend to throw out stuff.  If we have to do it that way, we’ll never do it at all.

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Are You an Orchid . . .


, , , or a dandelion?

I’ve been doing some reading in the past couple of weeks about introverts vs. extroverts and ran across this comparison.  It’s actually about children, not people in general.  So, dandelions thrive anywhere, they’re tough, and they’re cheerful.  They don’t know the meaning of the word “no.”  But orchids . . . well, they’re finicky.  They have exacting requirements for life.  They’re either spectacular — or dead.   Which are you, and which would you rather be?



“The Lord Doesn’t Change My Feelings

. . . uPicturentil I obey Him” (Rosaria Butterfield’s book, discussed on the previous post).  I discuss this idea of the connection between our feelings and our actions in chapter two, “How Our Emotions Work” of my book.  It’s very true that the main source of our feelings is our thoughts:  “As [a man] thinketh in his heart, so is he” (Prov. 22:7 KJV).  But where do the thoughts come from?  They seem to arise spontaneously most of the time, don’t they?

Those who say that we are just products of chance and our entire mental processes are therefore  chemical reactions would then have to go on and say that our thoughts are simply random.

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How It All Began


The Happiness Project:  Or Why I Spent a Year Trying to Sing in the Morning, Clean My Closets, Fight Right, Read Aristotle, and Generally Have More Fun by Gretchen Rubin, HarperCollins, 2009 (original hardback publication date; now available in several other formats)

It occurred to me that it wouldn’t be a bad idea to do a formal review (well, as formal as these things ever are) of The Happiness Project, since that book kicked off my whole “Intentional Living” thing.  I give credit to the book in Intentional Happiness and also on the home page of this website, but here’s some further information.  Gretchen Rubin certainly doesn’t need my help in selling any more books, as she’s sold about a gazillion already, and I would like for everyone reading this to buy a copy of my book first, but then after that you should buy a copy of her book if you’re one of the half dozen people who hasn’t already done so.

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Two for the Price of One

PicturePlato at the Googleplex:  Why Philosophy Won’t Go Away by Rebecca Newberger Goldstein.  New York:  Pantheon Books, 2014. Link is to the author’s website.

So . . .a 400+-page book on philosophy.  Real promising, isn’t it?  I hope I can persuade you to read it, even though parts of it are quite challenging and dense.  Sometimes you finish a book with a feeling of satisfaction:  “I made it through.”  Sometimes with almost a sigh of relief:  “So that’s what happened!”  But once in a great while, at least for me, there’s a feeling of regret:  “Now I won’t get to be in the company of these characters any more.”  And that’s how I felt about the character of Plato in this book.  Suddenly I realized, “Oh no!  I’m almost finished, and I don’t want to be.  I want to go along with Plato into more of our modern world, hearing his take on all sorts of other situations.”  I hope I can get across in this post what a charming, gracious, focused person Plato is in this book.  He is never defensive.

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