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“Get Over Yourself”

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Landon Saunders

            I saw a teenager in a Chicago airport who was on the right beam. He came skipping through the airport, wearing a big button that said, “Get over yourself.”

            Now, that’s what you have to do to become a world class laugher. You have to get over yourself. If you’re always tense and high-strung, if you’re very self-centered, you’re probably not a very good laugher. You’re probably not a lot of fun to be with, either. You need to get over yourself.

            A critical part of winning is learning to laugh. It takes a long time to learn to laugh—some people say as long as forty years. I know I laughed a lot more after I turned forty!

            I read that in some Zen monasteries, the novices are trained in laughing. When they first get out of bed in the morning, they have to stand up immediately, get in this clownish stance, and then laugh just as long and as hard as they can laugh—at themselves!

            As I read that, I thought, “I don’t think I’ve ever done that.” As I thought about it, I couldn’t remember whether I had ever laughed immediately upon awakening. I thought, “I’ll try it.”

            Well, the first morning, I forgot! But the next morning I remembered it. And as soon as I woke up, I got up, got in the most ridiculous position possible and laughed—just as loud and as deep as I could. It felt a little awkward and strange, but it sure woke me up! Afterwards, I walked lightly across the room; I felt lighter all day.

            Try it yourself. But one word of warning: If you sleep with someone, you’d better alert them the night before. I’m not quite sure what they would think if you just jumped up and started laughing!

THOUGHT FOR THE DAY: A critical part of winning is learning to laugh. And to be a world class laugher, you may need to get over yourself.

COMING FRIDAY: You At Home In The Universe       

[This is an excerpt from, How To Win 7 Out Of 8 Days A Week by Landon Saunders which is out of print and used by permission. In 2024 we will work through the entire book in this blog, with posts on Monday, Wednesday, and Friday.]

The One Thing People Often Forget

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Landon Saunders

 

            “You think trying to do the right thing pays off? Forget it!”

            The woman was angry, but near tears. She then told her story. “I have two sons. They’re married and have children. But I rarely see them. I reared them—by myself.. Their father never had time for them when they were small. He abandoned us altogether. I was left alone to rear the boys. And I did the best I could. I took them camping, took them to ball games, attended their school functions.” She was getting angrier as she talked. Her face was red. “And I had to work my heart out to make ends meet. I mean, I did everything for them. And, after all that, who do you think they spend their time with now? You guessed it—their father!”

            I finally said, “Yes, you did a lot of things for them, didn’t you?” “Yes, I did,” she said. Then I said, “But do you know what the question now really is? The question is, Were you any fun to be with?”

            It was as though someone had slapped her. She became very quiet. As tears welled in her eyes, she whispered, “Fun to be with?”

            “Yes. You see, you were very hurt yourself. It’s not easy, being left alone to rear two boys. It’s not easy to be abandoned. You had to deal with all of your own hurt as well as try to be mother and father to your sons. And make the living as well. Without knowing it, duty may have outrun your joyful love.

            “And now they’re gone, but you’re still very much alone. How do you greet them when you see them? I don’t see how you could keep from expressing your anger toward them.

            “But listen, it’s not too late. You must go to them immediately, and you must say, ‘Boys, I must explain something to you. Yes, when you were growing up, I tried to do a lot of things I thought you would want to do. And I did, as you know. But I’ve just realized something. In all the things I did with you, I think I forgot one thing—I wasn’t any fun to be with. And I’m sorry. I want to be different. I want to be a mother who’s fun to be with, and I want to be a grandmother who is fun to be with, and I just hope it’s not too late.’

            “I believe those boys will give you another chance, You’ll be able to pick up and go on. There will still be some scars, but you can live with those. Healing can take place.”

            Fun to be with. Isn’t it easy to forget? And how often we forget.

            We forget because we’ve allowed the idea of joy to slip too far from our consciousness. It has been crowded out by quasi-entertainment, empty humor and hollow laughter. It has been overtaken by over-seriousness.

            Even children worry over the power of our weaponry. It is not uncommon to hear people speak of the destruction of all living things.

            Change is all about us, creating uneasiness and anxiety. How, then, can we talk about joy, about being fun to be with?

            In this case, what appears to be the problem is really the solution. Instead of joy being contradictory to our experience, it is the only thing that can save us.

            I believe joy is the deepest thing in the universe. If it’s possible, even deeper than love. I also believe it is the deepest thing in the human heart. Joy in a turbulent life is like the stillness of the ocean’s depth during a horrible storm. It is there; it is untroubled; it is unthreatened.

            Joy is powerful. When understood, it is the perfect antidote to anxiety and tragedy. Joy is the only thing I know before whom tragedy loses its steam.

            How to be joyful—this is our task.

COMING WEDNESDAY: “Get Over Yourself!”

[This is an excerpt from, How To Win 7 Out Of 8 Days A Week by Landon Saunders which is out of print and used by permission. In 2024 we will work through the entire book in this blog, with posts on Monday, Wednesday, and Friday.]

A Daily Time For Insight

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Landon Saunders

            There’s hardly anything more draining on a human being than activity without insight. You know the feeling. You go for days under pressure, working so hard that you scarcely have time to stop and think about what you’re doing.

            Activity without insight gets your life out of synch with itself. Your outward life starts to conflict with your inner needs. Outside, you feel attacked by ringing phones, demanding people, paperwork, responsibilities, deadlines. Inside, you might experience increased anxiety, loneliness, headaches, ulcers, or stress.

            How can you get the insight you need to gain mastery over the activities of your life? How can you get your inner life in synch with your outer life?

            It might help to take a few moments in the morning., before the machine starts rolling, to think. To reflect on what’s really important in life, to remember who you are to remember that you have all the time you need to do everything important in your life, to decide how to respond to your day.

            Snoopy set aside a time for insight in his morning. He said: “Sometimes when I get up in the morning, I feel very peculiar. I feel like I’ve just got to bite a cat! I feel like if I don’t bite a cate before sundown, I’ll go crazy. But then I just take a deep breath and forget about it. That’s what’s known as real maturity.”

            I understand, Snoopy, I understand.

            I do?

COMING MONDAY: The One Thing Most People Forget

[This is an excerpt from, How To Win 7 Out Of 8 Days A Week by Landon Saunders which is out of print and used by permission. In 2024 we will work through the entire book in this blog, with posts on Monday, Wednesday, and Friday.]

The Synergy of Work and Love

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Landon Saunders

            A friend of mine declares this is a true story. A busy executive was late leaving for work one Monday morning. Completely preoccupied as usual, he grabbed his briefcase and headed for the door.

            Lying on the floor between him and the door was his wife, the victim of a fainting spell. No matter; he simply stepped over her and went barreling on out the door. Just as he shut it, he reopened it and shouted—she was still lying on the floor—that dinner should be ready by 6:30. Then he drove off to work. (I won’t go into what she thought as she lay there for a few moments, pondering the whole scene!)

            For a lot of people, it seems that work and love are competing forces, struggling for preeminence in their lives. Actually, though, work and love are opposites that attract.

            Work is structure, love is freedom. Work defines the self, love dissolves the self. Work prefers future goals, love seizes the present moment. Work is mastery, love is mystery.

            When they are properly put together in a life, they put the life together. They create a synergy of energy and purpose. But when they are out of synch with each other, they wear each other down like two gears grinding against each other.

            Between them there is a creative tension like the tension that makes a violin string capable of such beautiful music. Without the tension, there is no music in the life. It’s when the tension gets out of control that something snaps in people—they reach their breaking point.

            Work and love. Today. They need attention.

            But isn’t it amazing the way we approach these two? Very often a person will bury down in his work for ten to twenty years, trying to make it big. And then he looks up, and his children are grown and moved out of the house. The relationship he has with his wife is one designed for minimal friction…but minimal intimacy as well.

            Now, after ten or twenty years, he sets about the awesome task of trying to settle his accounts with love. And hopes it’s not too late. But what an incredible waste of life. Think of all the love that could have been.

            What was missing? Maybe a little insight could have made all the difference.

THOUGHT FOR THE DAY: Work is structure, love is freedom. Work defines the self, love dissolves the self. Work prefers future goals, love seizes the present moment. Work is mastery, love is mystery. Together, they create a synergy of energy and purpose.

COMING FRIDAY: A Daily Time for Insight

[This is an excerpt from, How To Win 7 Out Of 8 Days A Week by Landon Saunders which is out of print and used by permission. In 2024 we will work through the entire book in this blog, with posts on Monday, Wednesday, and Friday.]

Nothing Succeeds Like Real Success

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Landon Saunders

 

            Woody Allen says, “It is better to be rich than poor if only for financial reasons.” But there’s more to success than lots of money.

            Remember King Midas with the golden touch—how he lost his daughter when he touched her and she turned to gold? Don’t you see a lot of people becoming financially successful but losing their families?

            Real success is succeeding in your work, and with your family—both at the same time.

            There are two keys to this kind of dual success. One is flexibility and the other is timing.

            Flexibility reminds you that there are lots of ways to achieve your goals.

            Timing reminds you that your ability to know when to take advantage of an opportunity may pay off more than years of exertion and sacrifice.

            Many of our greatest leaders would tell you they spent years in the shadows, paying their dues and keeping their priorities in order. Then, when they did reach the top, what they learned from the time spent in the shadows gave them the character they needed to stay at the top.

            Success is more than money. As Sandburg said, “Money buys everything except love, personality, freedom, immortality, silence, peace.”

            Or as another man said, “It’s good to have money and the things that money can buy; but it’s good, too, to check up once in a while and make sure you haven’t lost the things money can’t buy.”

THOUGHT FOR THE DAY: Today I’ll write out my own definition for real success and make sure it includes quality time for the people I love most—as well as time for the things that matter most—the things money can’t buy. Then I’ll put this definition somewhere I can see it every day.

COMING WEDNESDAY: The Synergy of Work and Love

[This is an excerpt from, How To Win 7 Out Of 8 Days A Week by Landon Saunders which is out of print and used by permission. In 2024 we will work through the entire book in this blog, with posts on Monday, Wednesday, and Friday.]

What To Do With Your To-Do List

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Landon Saunders

            Do you start each day with a “do-you-in” list? Oh, you don’t call it that. You call it a “to-do” list, but you often end up with a monster that may “do you in.”

            Sometimes it feels as if our list ranges from “feed the dog” to “write a chapter in the novel” to “put up storm windows” to “prepare dinner for twelve.” That’s what I mean by a “do-you-in” list.

            Try creating a sense of rhythm to your week. Some days may feature more mental activity, other days more physical. Every day can have its own showpiece of achievement along with the smaller, more routine accomplishments.

            Try making this a new priority:

Today I will tap my special gifts. I will focus intently on one task and do it well. The rest of my day may be taken up in small activities. But for a part of today I will be at my best. I resolve not to dissipate my gifts and dull them in endless routine.

            As Emerson said, “We are all entitled to be valued by our best moments.” Let your best moments break through the clouds of routine and shine every day. For these moments are momentous, and they provide the momentum to keep your life moving ahead.

COMING MONDAY: Nothing Succeeds Like Real Success

[This is an excerpt from, How To Win 7 Out Of 8 Days A Week by Landon Saunders. This book was published in 1985; it is out of print and used by permission. In 2024 we will work through the entire book in this blog, with posts on Monday, Wednesday, and Friday.]

“Today I’ll Be A Friend”

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Landon Saunders

            Whatever happened to friendship? As a character in one of Camus’ novels said, “I have no friends, only accomplices.”

            Do you have a real friend? Beyond someone you just work with or do things with?

            Isn’t it time to make a fresh commitment to keeping our friendships in good repair?

Today I’ll be a friend—no conditions—no reservations—no expectations—I will simply be a friend. And nothing my friend does can change that. He doesn’t have to follow my script to be my friend. Friendship does not grow out of the demands or expectations I place on others; it grows out of what I am.

“I’ll Never Leave You”

            Speaking of friendship, what about your marriage? Someone has said that the need for devotion is even more profound than the need for companionship.

            Have you asked yourself: “Just how devoted am I, really, to my marriage?” A marriage needs devotion. Without it, the companionship will begin to break down—along with the marriage. Marriage means a man and a woman looking deeply into each other’s eyes and saying:

I will never leave you. Others may come and go in your life, but I never will. If you wrinkle, I will love you. If you fail, I will stay with you. If you get sick, I’ll feed you, bathe you, sit up with you—anything—except leave you. I will never leave you.

            Today, remake this commitment. If you will devote yourself to another human being, and cherish them, you will find that you like being with them more; that things go better.

            The key to this is to start today from your side. Devote yourself, without expectation on how your partner will respond. Your devotion will create the time you need to renew your marriage, and you have enough time. Don’t give up on your marriage. You may change, your partner may change, or the horse may learn to fly.

            It’s so important to have patience here.

COMING FRIDAY: What To Do With Your To-Do List

[This is an excerpt from, How To Win 7 Out Of 8 Days A Week by Landon Saunders, which is out of print but is used by permission. In 2024 we will work through the entire book, with posts on Monday, Wednesday, and Friday.]

“Today I’ll Begin To Change My Life and My Family’s Life”

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Landon Saunders

            I don’t want my family in any kind of Humpty-Dumpty position. I don’t want a “great fall” to shatter my family. I want to be a family every day—no matter what the pressures. I have a new view of time. I know the power of every sixty seconds. I know there is great power in undivided attention. I know when I am with my family I will do my best to be fully with them rather than letting my mind stray to other things.

Today, I’ll begin to change my life and my family’s life with just sixty seconds. I will look deeply into their eyes—in a way that they’ll know that nothing and no one else in all the world is in my mind but them. In a way that makes the world stand still—in a way that says more powerfully than words or gifts ever could—I love you.

            Take this moment with each family member today.

            Take this moment every day. You will rediscover your family. You will find that those familiar faces become strangely new and energizing when your presence with them includes depth to go with nearness.

            Stop all that chattering on the roof of your brain. Put down the paper. Turn off the news. Look at these incredible human beings in the room with you. Really see them…look into their eyes…let them see into yours.

             Your family will never be the same.

COMING WEDNESDAY: “Today I’ll Be A Friend”

[This is an excerpt from, How To Win 7 Out Of 8 Days A Week by Landon Saunders, which is out of print but is used by permission. In 2024 we will work through the entire book, with posts on Monday, Wednesday, and Friday.]

“Today I Will Not Compromise My Life!”

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Landon Saunders

            Don’t shrink to fit somebody else’s plan for what today should be. As someone said, “Don’t compromise yourself because it’s all you’ve got.”

            Don’t compromise today. Not only is it the first day of the rest of your life, it is also a small version of your life. When I say you have enough time to do everything you really need to do in your life, I mean you have enough time today to do everything you really need to do in your life.

            Life is lived best when you can feel “finished” at any point when death might come. This doesn’t mean that all your plans will be completely finished, that you will have had every experience that you desire. It only means that you don’t live in such a way that if you die before you accomplish certain activities, you are doomed to die sensing failure, or despair, feeling cheated. We often compromise today for something that “might be” tomorrow.

            The truth is, if you compromise today, you’ll probably compromise “tomorrow and tomorrow and tomorrow” and you’ll creep with a “petty pace to the last syllable” of your life.

            Wake up! Stand up! Stand up for your life. Don’t compr0mise it. Don’t let anyone take it for a test drive.

            Write these words about your heart. Write them on the wall of the sanctuary of your soul:

Today I will not compromise my life. I will not compromise my integrity. I will not compromise my commitment to the people I love. I will not compromise my own dignity as a human being. Today I will affirm life. Today I’ll give of myself I’ll put my whole heart and soul and mind into everything I do—with all my might. I’m not going to sell out, and I’m not going to burn out. This is the kind of day I’ve been living for.

 

Teaching a Horse to Fly

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Landon Saunders

            Once there was a man who was convicted of a crime and sentenced to death by the king. On the day he was to die, he sent a message to the king with this offer: “Give me one more year to live, and I will teach your horse to fly. After one year, if I have failed, you may then put me to death.”

            The king, puzzled but curious, granted the reprieve.

            Later the man explained to his cellmate—who thought he had completely lost his mind. “Look at it this way,” he said. “Within a year, the king may die. Or I may die. Or the horse may die. Or, in a year, who knows—I may teach the horse to fly!”

            I like that story. I think about it whenever I think I’ve come to a dead end in my life. It makes me realize that I must never give up; that I must patiently and creatively find challenging options for myself.

            As G. B. Shaw said, “The people who get on in this world don’t just go out and look for the circumstances they need. If they don’t find them, they make them.”

            Part of knowing that you have all the time you need, then, is this ability to take the long view of the history of your life, to not give up, to create new options, to make the circumstances that you need.

            The question now is, have you done anything about any of this yet? When are you going to get started?

            Let me make a suggestion: TODAY!

The Tyranny of the Urgent

            Today! Storm the Bastille! Throw the tea into Boston Harbor! Overthrow the greatest tyranny of your life—the tyranny of the urgent.

            Here’s the way it usually goes. You wake up each morning ready to put in a great day doing the things that mean the most to you. But before you even get started, the phone rings. And there’s a stack of unfinished work left from yesterday. Which leads you to discover a nagging reminder from last week. And by mid-morning, all your goals have been taken prisoner by “the tyranny of the urgent.”

            If you understand that you have enough time to do everything you really need to do with your life, you’ll shout, “Death to the tyranny of the urgent!” You’ll ride through the cobblestone streets of your mind shouting,

Today, I’ll do the things I need to do rather than be run over by what I have to do. I’ll do something important—I’ll tell my family I love them—I’ll write that letter to my friend—make that telephone call to my parents—do some things that make a day meaningful. And I’ll feel better—no guilt—I’ll have the energy for the things I have to do. I did not make today; but I will not let today make me.

 COMING FRIDAY: “Today I Will Not Compromise My Life”

[This is an excerpt from, How To Win 7 Out Of 8 Days A Week by Landon Saunders, which is out of print but is used by permission. In 2024 we will work through the entire book, with posts on Monday, Wednesday, and Friday.]

The Long View of History: You Have Time for Greatness

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Landon Saunders

            We want everything right now. This fills us with a sense of desperation.

            We are like the man who balanced razor-sharp daggers in a pyramid on his forehead and then went dancing across the stage. One small stumble, and those razor-sharp blades would come down and shred him.

            That’s exactly the way we try to balance our lives. We pile up our work, our marriages, our children, our goals, our leisure activities, our hopes and fears. We pile everything up on our heads like a pyramid of daggers; and then we run, fearfully trying to keep our balance, and the least little stumble…and our life gets shredded.

            Since we don’t understand that we have time to do great work, we remain miserable in mediocrity.

            Since we don’t understand that we have time for great relationships, our impatience and expectations cripple or kill the relationships we do have.

            Since we don’t understand who our children are and what they need from us, we lose them. We don’t understand that we have time to be great parents.

            Because we don’t understand that we have time for work and play, we are compulsive in both. We have time for re-creation.

            We don’t understand death, because we see it as the great enemy that robs us of our time. We don’t understand that death simply reminds us that we are timed, which, understood, helps us to decide our priorities so we won’t live for the wrong things.

            This understanding enables us to know we have enough time to live and enough time to die. We don’t have to be afraid. We can live so fully that we don’t have to be embarrassed when we die.

            There are things that make a human being great. But for some reason they are easily missed or easily discarded. That is why we are stressing these things again and again in these pages. These are things that you must hold onto, tightly. Don’t give up.

            You have enough time.

            We must learn to take the long view of the history of our lives.

Thought for the day: I have time, today, to be a great friend, great partner, great parent, great worker, great neighbor…to be a great me.

 COMING WEDNESDAY: Teaching a Horse To Fly

[This is an excerpt from, How To Win 7 Out Of 8 Days A Week by Landon Saunders, which is out of print but is used by permission. In 2024 we will work through the entire book, with posts on Monday, Wednesday, and Friday.]

Beyond Working for the Weekend: A New Dream of Wholeness

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Landon Saunders

            For some years now, the American Dream has moved toward working less and less on the job and spending more and more time at leisure. The words of a popular song tell the story when they say, “Everybody’s workin’ for the weekend.”

            Polls show that while the workweek is getting shorter, we’re spending more time, money and effort on exercise, travel and hobbies. Even the stock market reflects a burst of activity in companies whose chief products are for leisure: sports equipment, TV, cable services, the airlines.

            On and on it goes…until one Saturday morning you wake up and wonder: Is even the fun going to require too much work?

            I believe the problem with this version of the American Dream is, it’s really an illusion. Work and play are not separate things, not opposites. Add a little more playfulness to your work and you won’t have to work so hard when you play.

            This weekend, why not start with a different dream, a new American Dream of joyful wholeness for your life? Beyond compulsive work and compulsive play. The right dream will bring your workweek and your weekend together. As Gorky said, “When work is a pleasure, life is a joy! When work is a duty, life is slavery.”

            The outcome of this kind of re-creation makes for a very beautiful and rewarding life.

            Elton Trueblood described it this way: “A man has made at least a start on discovering the meaning of human life when he plants shade trees under which he knows full well he will never sit.”

Thought for the Day: Beyond compulsive work and compulsive play, embrace a new dream of joyful wholeness for your life. Add a little more playfulness to your work and you won’t have to work so hard when you play.

 COMING MONDAY: The Long View: You Have Time for Greatness

[This is an excerpt from, How To Win 7 Out Of 8 Days A Week by Landon Saunders, which is out of print but is used by permission. In 2024 we will work through the entire book, with posts on Monday, Wednesday, and Friday.]