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Part 1: Daily Thoughts & Ideas for the Weary Optimist...by Brian Norris

Preface -1 - 2 - 3 - 4 - 5 - 6 - 7 - 8 - 9 - 10 - 11 - 12 - 13

DAY 4

Today's Thought: Old Baggage isn't just bad for your posture. It prevents you from adapting to change (and change is the true constant of life).

Old baggage puts YOU onto the hamster's wheel; and you get to be the hamster, spinning your wheel over and over again with nothing to show for it but tears, misplaced anger and frustration.

Old baggage clouds your perspective and makes you wary of those who even vaguely remind of the people or events that scarred your heart all those years ago.

Be it man or woman, White or Black, Jew or Gentile, Republican or Democrat, Lawyer or Hairdresser, Scorpio or Taurus, you start to believe that anyone who shares an affinity with the person(s) who hurt you is guilty before you've even seen or heard all the facts.

You know what's even worse? Old Baggage can surround you so completely that you leave no space for people to get close enough to you emotionally. Or it can trap you inside a cage with other angry, negative people who share your affinity for old baggage (Misery attract company!).

While memories do bubble up to the surface, they don't need to be your primary compass for every decision you make. I suggest talking to someone whom you can trust not to judge you.

Ideally, it will be a person who won't try to console you either. Ask them to just listen, without trying to analyze or fix it for you (unless that's precisely what you're paying them to do).

Meanwhile, make a contract with yourself, limiting how many times you'll bring the same events up or use them to justify bad decisions or inaction.

If talking doesn't help, write about it. Or, make a simple video recording yourself explaining your Old Baggage in detail. Turn it into a script and pitch to TV or movie producers.

But once you get it out of you, let go of your baggage. Tell yourself to stop finding excuses to lug it around with you. Say goodbye and keep moving forward.

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DAY 5

Today's Thought: I've been using the crockpot in our kitchen quite a bit lately to make some delicious recipes (the French onion soup and Chicken with Artichokes dishes are my favorite so far).

I love finding the recipes, buying the ingredients, preparing them and adding them to that ceramic pot. Six hours later, I have a delicious creation that lasts for days.

And that leads to today's thought....Life is the ultimate crockpot.

All these experiences. All these emotions. These memories. All of them constantly mixing together in the crockpot that is life. Some call it chaos. But in the end, it makes perfect sense. No recipe is quite the same, but we can share our lives with others and they can reciprocate.

We see things slowly simmering and often we let things just work out. Other times, when our tempers or impatience gets the best of us, we stir it all up and turn up the heat. Either approach has its advantages and limitations.

But in the end, we can choose from three simple decisions. Eat it. Freeze it and revisit it when you're ready to. Or throw it all away and start again. Life -- viewed through the prism of a simple crockpot -- suddenly becomes a lot clearer!

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DAY 6

Today's Thought: I wrote a prayer today to use whenever you feel the "End of the World" is approaching. I hope you enjoy it, and that it brings you comfort...

A Prayer for the End Times by Brian Norris

Dear God, I come to you, humble and hopeful.
Help me to believe that you are with me now,
even till the end of the world.

I pray that in these moments of uncertainty
that you, God, will welcome my spirit into your presence.

God, as I prepare to meet you, strip me of all vices and attachments.
Erase the control that belongings or obsessions may have over me.
Keep fear from possessing me so that I can be present and alert,
to savor whatever time remains, and to be a conduit of healing.

Help me – Especially as this chaos unfolds –
to accept that nothing is truly mine, or permanent.

Regarding those who I have wronged – in speech or in action –
I ask forgiveness from you and from them.
May they sense the conviction of this prayer now
and find it in them to forgive me before they take their final breath.

Equally, help me to forgive those who have wronged me.
Wash me clean of lingering anger, resentment or ill-will.
Restore my spirit to a state worthy to reside with you forever.

God, shower those I know or have known directly or indirectly,
be they lover, friend or adversary, with your presence and divine grace.

Finally, if this is not the end, and I live to experience another hour,
may I reflect your love and kindness in all matters, even in utter darkness.

Amen

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DAY 7

Today's Thought: If ever you find yourself in an uncomfortable situation, one that challenges your moral code, or one that reeks of lackluster customer service, or one where you simply are not connecting with the service provider, then by all means SAY SOMETHING.

You can say "No", "Stop", "I don't like that", "This is uncomfortable", "That's not what I want", or any combination thereof.

Even better, if the salesperson still won't listen, you can say "I'm leaving". At that moment, stand up (if you're sitting) and then walk out.

Yes, anyone selling a product or service should be able to read your body language. That doesn't absolve you of your responsibilities as a customer. Silence on your part is not acceptable. If you're not happy or getting what you came for be an adult and speak up right away so that your feelings are clear and the situation can be fixed immediately. That's what adults do.

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DAY 8

Today's Thought: What makes a marriage beautiful is that each person in the relationship can take heart in knowing that the promise to stay together "no matter what happens" was real.

That beautiful promise is easy to keep when you're with a person who understands you, who knows your redemptive qualities and utter dysfunctions, who forgives you even when they're angry at you, and loves you without exception. Avoid a relationship of double standards by pouring yourself into each other (even when it doesn't come easily)!

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DAY 9

Today's Thought: Words — be they spoken or written — have real power. Just as words can heal and forgive, they can just as easily curse and destroy. Before you say or write anything, consider your intent and consider the impact.

Are your words true & genuine or truly a work of genuine fiction? Are the words really your own, or just what someone else told you/wants you to say? Are the words — especially those born of a guilty conscience, anger or vengeance — even necessary? Sometimes, silence accomplishes so much more.

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DAY 10

Today's Thought: If there's one gift I hop to never trade, lose or relinquish it's the gift of unconditional love.

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DAY 11

Today's Thought: How many nudges do you need to move on to the next phase in your life? You might be good at what you do. But, when it's time to do something else.

Be smart and take the subtle, gentle hints. Otherwise the universe will kick your butt so hard that you'll wish you were dead. So take the hint now and move on.

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DAY 12

Today's Thought: I acknowledge that every person I try to help or heal through my words, kindness or touch is an attempt to help myself. The more I study the mysteries of the human psyche or the hidden connections between angels, demons, God and Man, the closer I come to being able to see my true self without flinching.

It's a self that includes a face that doesn't need to smile all the time, a voice that doesn't need to speak calmly all the time. It's a pair of lungs free to scream, and a pair eyes free to cry tears of sadness, anger & redemption. Thanks to everyone - ally and adversary alike - for bringing me closer to that moment of enlightenment.

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DAY 13

Today's Thought: I live with the certainty that within 5 years something catastrophic will wipe lots of us off the planet for good. Still, I will not veer from my pursuit of joy & beauty.

Impending doom only increases my resolve to enjoy the time I have left to be with the people I cherish most. I will smile. I will laugh. I will love. I will live fully to the very end.

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DAY 14

Today's Thought: If forced to choose between fame and fortune or the love & support of a small group of friends and family, choose the latter. The kindness and encouragement of even the tiniest circle of loved ones will keep you sane, keep you grounded and renew your faith.

Preface - 1 - 2 - 3 - 4 - 5 - 6 - 7 - 8 - 9 - 10 - 11 - 12 - 13

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