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Going For Ice Cream!

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Landon Saunders

            I am thankful that I had a mother and father who were fun to be with. They knew how to be with their children.

            Both of them are gone now. But, we children have something that’s priceless—We have wonderful stories. They are stories that make us laugh, stories that provide nurture and strength, stories that continue to teach us how to be with others.

            One of my favorites is the story about the ice cream. I grew up in West Virginia. In 1946, we had a huge snowfall—some forty inches of snow on the ground.

            We lived about six miles from town. We had to go down a pretty rough hill, travel the creekbed for a hundred yards, then up to the highway and on to town.

            Almost every night, we would go into the small town for ice cream. Dad loved it more than nearly anyone, so it usually didn’t take much to persuade him to go. On this particular night, the snow had begun to fall and was already about twelve inches deep.

            We were sitting by the fire when one of us said, “Dad, some ice cream sure would be good.”

            “Are you out of your minds?” he said. “Have you looked outside? There’s a foot of snow on the ground. And it’s still snowing.”

            “Yeah, you’re right, Dad.” We sat there for a few minutes. His favorite was vanilla. “Dad, wouldn’t some vanilla ice cream be terrific?”

            “Normally,” he said,” you know I would go, but tonight is just too bad. We’d get stuck—we’d never get there and back.”

            We children didn’t ask anymore’ we just sat there and talked to each other about how good it would be!

            Finally, he said, “Okay. Let’s try it.”

            We piled into the pickup, took off, got stuck—I think at least ten times—but made it to town and back with the ice cream.

            You might be thinking, That wasn’t a very smart thing to do. And I guess it wasn’t. But I sure loved him for it!

            Joy!

COMING MONDAY: Fun While He Lasted

[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, with posts on Monday and Friday. – Geoffery Moore, Editor]

How To Look At You

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Landon Saunders

            I like who I am. I look in the mirror and laugh with delight and appreciation. Joy lets me be who I am.

            If you’ve learned to look at yourself in joy, you know that it’s okay to be you. You don’t have to be overwhelmed by how much there is to learn. You don’t have to be intimidated by anyone.

            Joy teaches you to find a better source of delight than finding someone you’re better than. Joy shows you how to be with others.

            Fill your heart with joy, and how do you feel? You feel like royalty, and that’s what you were made for. You were made to be a conqueror—not a slave. You were made for majesty—not despair. The religion of joy will help you find your place in the scheme of things.

            Joy frees you from dark, brooding emotions. You can’t live with those. A family can’t be a nourishing place if dark clouds of fear, disappointment, resentment and selfishness have moved in. You can be free of those.

            Joy is the only power that can keep your face looking toward the sun all the days of your life.

COMING MONDAY: The Way To Be With Others

[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, with posts on Monday and Friday. – Geoffery Moore, Editor]

Licking The Honey

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Landon Saunders

            Insecurity is one of life’s greatest enemies. We keep adding layer upon layer of goods and experiences and accomplishments, somehow believing that if we can only get enough layers down, we will be secure. Is it true, though?

            Tolstoy tells the story of a man who was chased by a pack of wolves. He ran and ran, but they were getting nearer and nearer.

            He finally stumbled onto an old abandoned well. He grabbed a small tree growing out of the inside wall of the well, and lowered himself into the well and beyond the reach of the wolves.

            He thought he was safe…until he looked down to the bottom of the well. There, teeth bared, saliva dripping, was a dragon, just waiting.

            He then looked over to where the little tree he was holding onto grew out of the well’s wall. To his horror, a black and white rat were gnawing on the small trunk.

            There he dangled. Wolves above, dragon below, and rats gnawing away at his only support.

            As he looked around, something caught his attention. On the leaves of the tree were a few drops of golden honey. He leaned over and began licking those drops of honey.

            We can interpret a story like this in many ways. I am struck by this thought: We really don’t have protection against problems and death. There’s no use pretending we do. But even though that’s true, it doesn’t mean life has to be bitter. No, there’s a way to taste the sweetness of life even though we face the realities without blinking.

            If we are to find true joy, we must somehow learn to make insecurity holy. This wouldn’t mean much to me, frankly, if I didn’t have great respect for the reality of the inner life of human beings.

            A few years back, there was an article in Esquire magazine that asked: If your life had one question, would the answer be Yes or No?

            Samuel Beckett, one of the two whose answer was given, said, “The answer is No. Life is awful. Grimace and bear it.”

            Isaac Bashevis Singer, the other, said, “The answer is Yes. Life is God’s novel. Help him write it.”

            I too believe the answer is Yes. I believe there is a joy that thrives right in the midst of the awfulness of life.

            This joy encompasses all of our experiences, including the negative ones of anxiety, fear, anger, sorrow. There is even a way that suffering is held by delight.

            The chief purpose of a human being? To enjoy. Can you do it?

COMING FRIDAY: How To Look At You

What Matters

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Landon Saunders

            It doesn’t matter what has or hasn’t happened in your life. What matters is you.

            There is a secret for surviving what happens and what doesn’t happen—the successes and the failures, the disappointment and the excitement.

            The first part of the secret is acceptance. You begin by accepting all that has happened, and all that hasn’t happened.

            But even when we accept everything that has or hasn’t happened in our lives, we still won’t feel fulfilled. This is where the second part of the secret comes in. Fill the rest of your life with joy. Fill the gaps with joy. Fill the places that feel as if they may crack you apart someday—fill them with joy.

            Joy is the mortar that lets you use all the raw material of your life in the building of your life. With joy, even the forces that would normally tear you down are used to build you up. The secret of acceptance plus joy is, you waste nothing of your life.

            Acceptance plus joy—that  is the secret.

            Doesn’t this make sense? What if we try to fill our lives with something besides joy? Is it possible?

            Don’t we feel bad about ourselves, dissatisfied and desperate, because we try to top off our existence with everything but joy?

            Don’t we destroy relationships because of gaps we feel inside? Gaps we try to fill with other people…instead of with joy?

            And how do we deal with failure? Don’t we spend our time fighting failure instead of finding joy?

            Again, here is the secret: acceptance plus joy.

COMING MONDAY: Licking The Honey

[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, with posts on Monday and Friday. – Geoffery Moore, Editor]

The Cat Who Was a Failure…And The Great Surprise

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Landon Saunders

            Have you ever had a cat come in, slump down over in a corner somewhere, look up and say, “I’m a failure. I’ve been out trying to catch mice today. Didn’t have a good day. I’m just a failure. I don’t think I’ll ever go out again. I’m depressed!”

            Only humans seem to do these things. Vonnegut wrote, “Tiger gotta hunt/Bird gotta fly/Man gotta sit and wonder/Why, why, why.”

            We sit and moan and wonder why we can’t make everything work out right. We don’t seem to understand that the challenge of life is to win in site of inevitable failure. That this is what it means to be a human being.

            Everything is not all right in your life. Everything is not all right in the world.

            When you finally accept that everything is not all right; that everything is not going to be all right; that it is futile to spend your life moaning about it; and that all of that is all right—then you are ready for a great surprise.

            The great surprise is that you can embrace the joy that thrives in the midst of tragedy and failure.

            Education, religion, psychology, and self-help—none of these will ever seem to work right if the goal is to make everything all right. The goal is to find the joy that doesn’t depend on the absence of failure, defeat and tragedy. True joy continues to give meaning to your life in all of these.

            Condemnation of the way things are or sugarcoating over the way things are—neither is helpful. We must develop a taste for life as it is. We must learn to see its terrible beauty.

            And, we must know that it was created for our sake.

COMING FRIDAY: What Matters

[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, with posts on Monday and Friday. – Geoffery Moore, Editor]

You Can Win in the Company of Failure

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Landon Saunders

            We deal with failure as if we are going to outgrow it!

            Will you ever get rid of failure? Really? Has anyone ever succeeded in that quest?

            You cannot get rid of failure. You do not have the option not to fail. You won’t get over failure as you did the measles, nor will you outgrow it as you did your baby teeth.

            Why is it important to realize this? As long as you think you can get rid of failure, you’ll never find the way to deal with it effectively. You’ll forget all the times you’ve already won over failure—and you have won a lot of rounds. But you’ll miss all those joyous victories and remain miserable because of your continuing awareness of failure in your life. With such an approach, no one wins.

            Failure is human. Either you must find a way to win with failure or you must always lose. You cannot win away from the company of failure. Face the nature of failure, and you can get in a position to have a lot of fun winning. You’ll even learn to use your failures to help you accomplish your victories.

            So, what is a healthy view of failure?

            First, failure is a warning signal—like the oil light on your car that is flashing red. Failure warns you that something is wrong in your life. Failure warns you that something in your life will always need your attention.

            Second, failure isn’t what keeps you from being fulfilled. Do you believe that by eliminating failure you find fulfillment? That is faulty thinking. The opposite is probably more nearly true: To constantly seek the elimination of failure is to live with defeat, with emptiness.

            To win in life we must realize:

  • It’s not failure to say, “I’m wrong.”
  • It’s not failure to say, “I need help.”
  • It’s not failure to say, “I can’t make it by myself.”
  • It’s not failure to say, “I hurt.”
  • You don’t have to fear past, present or future failure. To fail is not fatal. Failure at failure is fatal. You don’t want to get an “F” in Failure; you want to get an “A” in that course, for sure.
  • Failure won’t keep you from living; the fear of failure will.

The problem of life, then, isn’t failure; it’s the way we deal with failure.

You can win in the company of failure. In fact, it’s the only way.

[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, with posts on Monday, Wednesday, and Friday. – Geoffery Moore, Editor]

“Should We Find Some More Fun Tomorrow?”

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Landon Saunders

            A young father found out that he would soon die. He thought about what he might wish for his children.

            What he decided to wish for them was closely tied to something he had tried to bring to their lives each day when he was well.

            Each night, as they were being tucked into bed, they would talk about the fun they had that day. Then he would ask them the question—every night: “Well, what do you think? Tomorrow, do you think we should have some more fun, or do you think maybe we should skip a day?” Sometimes, they would tease a bit, indicating maybe they should miss a day. But, they would always conclude that they should get more fun—that they definitely should find some more fun tomorrow.

            Now, that may not sound like the most profound question that’s ever been asked, but to this father it was full of meaning. He wished that each morning, upon awakening, they would ask themselves, Am I going to have some fun today, or as Dad used to ask, should I maybe skip a day?

            A human being has an incredible gift for fun—fun being the child’s word for joy. The only problem is, there will be many people, places and things that will try to rob you of this gift; they will slowly grind away at your gift. Don’t let them. Don’t surrender to the joy killers. 

            To truly have fun, you must be united, inside, in a fundamental way. Now. You must find a way to deal with the fragmentation that is so much a part of the culture today. You must find a basis for a whole life, a unified life.

            Joy can play a critical role in finding that unified life.

COMING FRIDAY: What Holds Your World Together?

[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, with posts on Monday, Wednesday, and Friday. – Geoffery Moore, Editor]

“It’s Never Too Late To Have A Happy Childhood”

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Landon Saunders

            Have you ever thought about how hard it is to get started with your life in the world?

            Before you were born, you were comfortably settled in a fine little home where everything was taken care of. You didn’t have to think about anything—food, temperature, safety. And you were very close to your mom. You had your first—and last—solid relationship that required no work from you!

            Then all of a sudden you were thrust out of your home, under very trying conditions—to say the least. And it was your mother who put you out!

            Immediately, your reliable food supply was cut off and an entirely new one began in its place. You had to make a lot of adjustments—fast!

            Soon, one of the biggest adjustments of all became apparent. You would spend the rest of your life trying to put solid relationship back together again.

            Something was wrong with the world. Something that made relationship almost impossible.

            I remember clearly when I first realized something was wrong with the world. I ripped the seat of my britches—in public! I can still hear the laughter and taunting! I knew, then and there, that something was wrong with the world: something that made it hard to be fun to be with!

            And this “something wrong” can even affect the life inside our homes.

            Home. It’s such a beautiful word. But it lasts such a short time. If you don’t put joy in the home, what do you have?

            Where there is joy, the family is an exchange of gifts and wounds. Where there is no joy, the family is only an exchange of wounds.

            Where there is no joy, home is a place where parents pass on to their children their excuses for failing as human beings.

            The family is the crucible of the person. The joyless family is the crucifixion of the person. But it’s a crucifixion that can be followed by a resurrection. And, I think, it’s never too late. It’s been said, “It’s never too late to have a happy childhood.”

COMING WEDNESDAY: “Should We Find Some More Fun Tomorrow?”

[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, with posts on Monday, Wednesday, and Friday.]

You At Home In The Universe

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Landon Saunders

 

            People who live in triumph know how to laugh. And they know how to inject laughter into moments that otherwise would be tense and hostile.

            I was in Racine, Wisconsin, talking to a group about the importance of laughter. I mentioned having to learn to laugh about the way my hair continues to fall out, a little more each year.

            Afterwards, a woman came up and said, “You know, my brother-in-law came to see us last week. I hadn’t seen him in fifteen years. We were both a little nervous.

            “Well, in those fifteen years all of his hair had fallen out. I reached up and sort of tweaked his head and said, ‘What’s happened here?’ He said, ‘Lady, that’s a solar panel for a sex machine!’ He had learned to laugh at his baldness—and relaxed us with the same sense of humor.”

            If you look in the mirror and get upset by what you see, your mirror may be too small—the mirror of your mind, that is. That mirror is too small if all you can see is you and your baldness. The mirror’s too small unless it’s big enough to reflect you and the universe—you at home in the universe. This is the sense of well-being that lets you get over yourself and laugh deeply and enjoy life.

“Sure Hope Your Team Wins”

            Which reminds me of a story from Ann Landers about a housewife who went to her basement to do her wash. She was still in her nightgown, no one else was home. She gets the washer loaded and there’s still some room so she says to herself, “Oh, why not…I’ll just take the nightgown off and wash it too.”

            As she stands there, finishing up, a leaky pipe drips on her head, so she reaches over and puts on her son’s football helmet.

            In a few moments the meter reader walks through the basement. He glances over and, after a moment of speechlessness, recovers enough to say, “Lady, I sure hope your team wins!”

            We find ourselves in some pretty ridiculous—even embarrassing—tangles sometimes. The next time you find yourself in one of these, you can laugh, look in the mirror and say, “I sure hope your team wins.”

COMING MONDAY: “It’s Never Too Late To Have A Happy Childhood”

[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, with posts on Monday, Wednesday, and Friday.]