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“At Last We Came Out Entirely Right”

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Landon Saunders

 

            He’s crying because he’s alone in the woods and it’s dark and he’s lost. But he’s not a little boy. He’s one of those people the poet Dante described in the words, “Midway in the highway of life, I came to myself in a dark wood where the straight road was lost.”

            How about you? Has the midlife crisis hit you yet? It’s that crushing feeling that you aren’t where you thought you’d be or who you thought you’d be—and there’s not enough time or energy left for your to reach your goals. Gradually, the straight road you started on so many years ago has led you into a dark wood.

            Just about everyone gets lost in the forest of midlife doubts, at one time or another. Let me give you a way to think about this moment in your life.

           William James, in describing the wonderful stream of our inner life, noted that one of the first things that strikes us is that, “Like a bird’s life, it [our inner life] seems to be made of an alternation of flights and perchings.”

            Yes, you may momentarily feel out on a limb. You may feel that your flying days are over. Why not take advantage of this pause, take this moment of perching to think, to plan, to rekindle your dreams. And when you do, you’ll find yourself again ready to take up flight, ready to soar to new heights.

            Don’t give up your dreams, your deeper yearnings. Don’t’ give up on the things that matter most to you. Maturity is a gift that is being given to you each day—today much more than yesterday, and tomorrow much more than today.

            As Robert Louis Stevenson said, “Sometimes we may feel that we have made wrong decisions at every stage of our lives, only to discover, astonishingly, that at last we came out entirely right.”

COMING FRIDAY: The Genius of Patience

[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 two or three times a week. – Geoffery Moore, Editor]

Charlie Brown: Learn Not To Be Surprised by Your Own Humanity

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Landon Saunders

            Are you one of those folks who steal a look at the comics no matter what crimes the headlines are screaming about? I am. And my favorite comic strip is usually good ol’ “Charlie Brown.”

            In the spring, Charlie is trying to get his kite out of a tree. Come summer, he’s on the pitching mound, predictably botching up another game. Charlie Brown tries and tries and hardly ever succeeds. Yet, year after year, he perseveres, helping us stomach and maybe even smile at our own failures, whatever they are.

            What Charlie Brown shows us is that none of our problems has to be fatal. We can handle any of them—if we can feel the pain without being overwhelmed by it. Charlie Brown helps us know we will have troubles; he also lets us know we can keep going—if we learn not to be surprised by our humanity.

            Lucy, on the other hand, always finds something to fuss about. Finding a thorn in every rose is her talent. Whereas ol’ Snoopy handles everything with unrestrained joy. Lucy makes us thankful that at least we’re dealing with life a little more successfully than she does. And Snoopy makes us sigh and wish we could be half as happy as he is.

            But for better or worse, it’s Charlie Brown who reminds us of ourselves. If Charlie Brown can make it through, then surely nothing can stop us!

COMING MONDAY: “At Last We Came Out Entirely Right”  

[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 two or three times a week. – Geoffery Moore, Editor]

Treat Your Problems Like A Dog

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Landon Saunders

 

            Have you ever noticed what happens when you try admitting to yourself that you have a problem?

            A personal problem is like a little shy dog that always runs under the porch as soon as a stranger approaches. Now, you might be able to talk that puppy out from under the porch if the tone of your voice is friendly and if you are very patient and take your time. But if you start issuing commands—or threats of what you’ll do if he doesn’t come out—well, that little dog will wait you out if it takes all day!

            Isn’t that the way it is when you approach a personal problem with bluster and fluster?

            You see, if you’re too hard on yourself—too self-critical or guilt-ridden or angry—why, no problem of yours is going to come out and face all that!

            But if you’re kind to yourself, forgiving, and able to enjoy being who you are in spite of your problems, then you just might have a shot at dealing with them.

             Let’s designate today as “Be Kind To Your Problems Day.” If you don’t, someone may call the A.S.P.C.P.—the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Problems.

COMING FRIDAY: Charlie Brown: Learn Not To Be Surprised by Your Humanity

[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 two or three times a week. – Geoffery Moore, Editor]

Pebble In Your Shoe

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Landon Saunders

 

            “It’s not the climb up the mountain that wears you out; it’s the pebble in your shoe.”

            Most people don’t realize the difference. The mountain is your unique dream, the fulfillment of your particular life, so don’t complain about the climb. But you could stop for a moment and get the pebble out of your shoe.

            It’s important to recognize the difference between “the difficult” in life and the pebble in your shoe. You’ll have some nagging worries. Things will distract you from the climb. You might even take a swing at a gnat flying around your face, lose your grip and tumble down the mountain!

            But don’t let the pebbles or gnats knock you out. Every day life sends you invitations to join in various expeditions. But with a pebble in your shoe, you limp to the mailbox, get the invitations and put them on top of the refrigerator!

            Every day, life knocks on your door. Life! Do you look through the peephole and hold your breath, hoping it will go away?

            Even if you’ve done that, there’s still time. Get the pebble out of your shoe, open the door wide and head for your personal mountain. Have a good climb. And a good time.

            Just don’t forget to enjoy the view, even on the way up.

COMING MONDAY: Treat Your Problems Like a Dog

[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 two or three times a week. – Geoffery Moore, Editor]

Created For Comebacks

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Landon Saunders

            One of the amazing things about the human body is its ability to repair itself.

            Have you ever broken a bone? An arm? There it was, swallowed up for weeks in a big plaster cast. It couldn’t move, couldn’t get any air or sunlight, couldn’t touch.

            Then came the big day when the cast came off. You thought it would feel the same—but it didn’t even feel like your arm! The muscles were weak and shrunken; the skin was very tender. Would that arm ever be the same as it was?

            Then came another surprise. Bit by bit you exercised that arm, exposed it to the air and sunshine. And you know…with some patience and determination, you slowly discovered that the arm was good as new.

            The point is, an arm is human, not mechanical. It’s made for healing. It may take a while to get over its problems, but as a human arm it has that amazing capacity to make a comeback.

            And being human, like your arm, so do you. You were created for comebacks.

            But sometimes, the thing that keeps us from coming back…is ourselves. That’s when we need to remember: to try is to triumph.

Take the Plunge

            A little dog was so thirsty. But when he reached the edge of the water where he could get a drink, he saw the image of another dog and ran away in fear. Finally, he was so thirsty that, instead of running away, he decided to try getting some water in spite of his fears.

            So he plunged right into the water and, of course, the other dog vanished—which was only a reflection of himself, anyhow—and he was able to satisfy his thirst.

            Sometimes we must do this with our lives. We can always see things that frighten us, that make us hesitate. Maybe all we need to do is plunge right in! We can face our fears. We don’t have to be afraid.

            We don’t have to win every time, and we won’t. Fear will sometimes gain the upper hand, and that is okay…as long as it doesn’t make a hobby of it!

            The point is: if you try, you will win sometimes. All winners were first “try-ers.” And they’re still trying. They know that happy secret: to try is to triumph.

 

COMING FRIDAY: The Pebble in Your Shoe

[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]

           

Before The Hurt

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Landon Saunders

            What were you like before “the hurt”? Before the broken promises, shattered dreams, the injustice, mistreatment, disappointment—“the hurt.”

            It’s impossible not to get hurt in this world. Hemingway said, “Life breaks everyone, and afterward some are strong in the broken places.”

            Until “the hurt,” you were on your way. What happened? What was the straw that broke the camel’s back of your laughter?

            Now, I don’t know how to keep the straws from piling up, but I do know some ways to keep from being destroyed.

            The first thing we must do is be honest with ourselves. We do have problems. There’s no use pretending we don’t.

            Sometimes, it’s easy to imagine that everyone else has the problems and it’s our job to go around straightening them all out!

            We don’t want to be like the man who went into a psychiatrist’s office carrying a watermelon under each arm, a piece of bacon wrapped around each ear, and a large horned owl sitting on his shoulder. He said to the doctor, “I’ve come to talk to you about my brother.”

            The second thing we must do is to learn to mix our problems with our laughter. There is real power in a sense of humor. All of us can laugh—at ourselves and at our problems.

            Humor can give the brokenness of life the proper weight. It enables us to emerge “strong in the broken places.” Like Humpty-Dumpty…

            Humpty-Dumpty was the prince of going to pieces. As you know, he had a great fall. And all the king’s gurus and all the king’s therapists couldn’t put Humpty together again.

            And so there he was, spread out over two city blocks—an eye here, a leg dangling yonder. And he said to himself, “I’m a no-good, rotten, stinking mess.”

            Then one day something incredible happened. Humpty realized that he, and he alone, had made his life a mess. He also realized that he actually enjoyed being a mess. He was getting a lot of attention. And he had a ready excuse for why he wasn’t winning with his life.

            He decided to give up his alibi, pull his life together, and focus on his strengths instead of bemoaning his weaknesses. And now? Well, he’s no longer known as Humpty-Dumpty. Now, he’s H. D., a power to be contended with!

COMING MONDAY: Created For Comebacks

[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 Problems You Need

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Landon Saunders

 

            You say your problems are getting you down? Well, maybe you just need a new way to think about them. Try these three ideas.

            First, you may need your problems, at least some of them. Your problems shape your humanity. They make you unique. They even make you a more interesting person! Giving up problems as a human being would be like a camel’s giving up his hump. Sure, a camel would travel lighter without his hump, but he’d no longer be a camel.

            Second, if you don’t like some of your problems, perhaps you could exchange them for better ones. For example, if you’ve set your sights too low, the accompanying problems will bore you. If you set your goals a little higher, you won’t escape having problems, but the struggles with the new ones will ennoble you.

            Third, if you still have problems you don’t need and can’t trade up, learn to love them. Love is still the power that can transform a problem into a link between you and a person who shares the struggle with you. With love, your problem might even contain its own solution.

            Your problems will never do you in, but the way you think about them might.

            It’s been said that “problems are only opportunities in work clothes.”

 

COMING FRIDAY: Before The Hurt

[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]

“Whoopee, we lost!”

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Landon Saunders

 

             I was inspired by the example of the late Senator Hubert Humphrey. His way of taking defeat impressed me as much as his many achievements. When the election-night news came to him that he was being defeated by less than one percent in his bid for the Presidency, Senator Humphrey was reported to have responded, “Whoopee, we lost!”

            Isn’t that marvelous? This was a highly competitive man, keenly disappointed; and yet, characteristically, his answer showed that he had not lost his joy in living. In so doing, he saved both himself and his supporters from a great burden of bitterness.

            After that close election, Senator Humphrey’s friend Walter Reuther commented, “If you’re not big enough to lose, you’re not big enough to win.” I believe we can all be winners if we are willing to learn a little from our victories and a lot from our defeats.

            Maybe a real goal for growth is being able to say, “Whoopee, we lost!”

Tears and Laughter

            When you are sad, you might cry. When you are very happy, you might laugh and cry at the same time. Some say this is why they like to be happy rather than sad—you get two emotions for the price of one.

            What we laugh about and what we cry about express what is written in our hearts; they powerfully indicate the kind of person we are.

            Tears can be good. Some are nice and warm and round and human. Others are hot and scalding and painful. Some people’s experience of life has been so difficult that their tears no longer flow on the outside and down their cheeks. Now, their tears run down on the inside, forming little pools of desperation, depression and loneliness.

            Laughter can also mean two things. On the one hand, it can just be noise—forced, and without melody or joy. Being around such laughter leaves you feeling uncomfortable.

            On the other hand, you’ve been around people whose laughter was cleansing and liberating, joyous and bubbling. You left their presence feeling better.

            Tears and laughter. They tell us so much about how human we are…or how far from humanness we’ve already traveled.

COMING MONDAY: The Problems You Need

[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]