7 Ways to Live Life to the Max by Dennis R. Curyer M.A - HTML preview

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At this point the conductor comes down the aisle to your seat with a message from your friend. The message is very simple but it changes night into day and bitterness into joy. He tells you that your friend was indeed going to the same place as you. He was on his way to see his father. During the night the conductor received an emergency message that instructed your friend to get off the train at the next stop and catch a plane so that he could arrive home quickly, because his father needed him. The conductor leaves you a phone number so that you can contact your friend as soon as you arrive.

This simple message given by the conductor turns your frustration into peace.

You are still sorry to miss the two days of discussion you had anticipated, but your sorrow is no longer bitter or blind, rather it is sweet with the knowledge of where he is, and the assurance that you will see him again.

Of course you have anticipated the ideas in this story. We are all on the train journeying together, getting on and off the train at different times and different locations, and meeting all kinds of people along the way.

Our final destination is when we reach the end. There we meet others who went before us. Sometimes the getting off appears to be premature but knowing the reasons why calms the troubled spirit. For death is about getting off, going from one room into another.

If you are one of those who believe death is the end of life and there is nothing beyond the grave, then you had better live life to the max, because you will be a long time dead.

Small Things Do Count

Keeping the big picture in mind is an important aspect of life. To have an overall view of the whole is essential in understanding what life is all about. In doing this we should not forget that the whole is made up of many smaller parts. As

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Coleridge put it, “The universe of which we are conscious is but merely a mass of little things.”

The small things can be just as important as large things: The tongue, one of the smallest members of the body, has such great capacity for its size. With a few words it can exalt or debase.

A speck of dust in the eye can be disabling.

The rudder on a ship, although very small in size, has the capacity to change the direction of the world’s largest ships.

One extra chromosome, so small it cannot be seen by the natural eye, can change the physical appearance and the intellectual capacity of a person.

Emerson reminds us, “The creation of a thousand forests is in one acorn.”

In life it is the attention to small things that enables us to enjoy the large things.

Do not ever underestimate the value of paying attention to, or focusing on, the small things in life. Out of that which is small comes that which is great.

A gentleman commented to Michelangelo, “I cannot see that you have made any progress since my last visit.”

“But,” said the sculptor, “I have retouched these parts, polished that, softened that feature, brought out that muscle, given some expression to the lip, more energy to that limb, etc.” “But they are trifles!” exclaimed the visitor. “It may be so,” replied the great artist, “but trifles make perfection and perfection is no trifle.”

It Was Only a Shoebox

In 1981 my family and I were living in Jerusalem. A few times each week I would go to the post office.

On one particular day, as I reached the counter, there was a small shoebox sitting on it. The guard was trying to find out who owned it. This shoebox became very important when the owner could not be found. People were now motivated to get out of the post office in case there was a bomb in it.

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Right at that moment two girls came into the post office asking if anybody had seen their shoebox. After they took their shoes and left, those remaining in the post office breathed a sigh of relief.

Although it was only a small box, if it had contained a bomb, the damage and destruction it would have inflicted upon the building and the lives of the people would have been immense, as we have all witnessed with the Bali bombing of 2002.

The Keys

I was running late for an appointment. I grabbed my keys and my study door locked behind me. I looked at the keys I held in my hand. They were not the keys to my study. I had picked up another set of keys. I was locked out of my world, a world that contained thousands of books, hundreds of videos and audios, volumes of photos, thousands of colour slides from all over the world, filing cabinets full of stories, quotes and writings, books of personal correspondence and genealogical records and my computer that gave me access to the world.

In that split second my focus was lost and I had created a problem that I had to solve. I could smash a window, but the cost to replace it and the mess to clean up was too expensive in both time and money.

I called the locksmith. He arrived and, with a little piece of metal in his hand, manipulated the lock. In a few minutes the world that I had been shut out of was once again open. Just that little piece of metal, about the size of a match, was able to provide access to my world.

A philosopher said it this way:

The difficult things in this world must once have been easy; the great things in this world must once have been small.

Set about difficult things while they are still easy; do great things while they are still small.

The sage never affects to do anything great and, therefore, he is able to achieve his great results.

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The tree that needs two arms to span its girth sprang from the tiniest shoot.

Yon tower, nine storeys high, rose from a little mound of earth.

A journey of a thousand miles began with a single step.

There is a Process

As life unfolds we are exposed to opportunities where growth will be experienced. As newborn babies we are programmed to suck, this is what keeps us alive. No other baby taught us how to do this. It is just the way it is. This is instinct.

Genetically I am programmed to act and to do things a certain way, like the birds in morning and evening are programmed to all start chirping together.

As children we are always learning. We look to our mother and father, and our society, to socialize us in a certain way. The way I act is encouraged by positive or negative responses. I know who I am because of my relationship with my mother and father. My life is developed through a series of stages.

At an early stage if a toy is taken from my hands and placed under my pillow I do not look for it because to me it no longer exists. It is not until the next stage of my development that I realize it has gone and I begin to search for it. I find it and everybody claps because I am so clever.

My world consists of a bassinet then I move on to much greater things – a cot.

Wow! Now I am getting bigger. Eventually I realize there is more to my world than a cot. I climb out of it to explore the other worlds within the house, a room where water runs free, and a room where my bottle and food are prepared. Yet there is another room filled with music, and coloured pictures that move in a box.

This is a wonderful world. Now I see my brothers and sisters going out the door.

What is out there? Is there another world? If so, I want to see it. When the door is left open, I crawl out and see all this brown stuff. It looks interesting and there is so much of it. I am going to eat some.

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This is a wonderful world. My knowledge continues to expand. I soon discover that I am a boy not a girl. My booties are blue not pink. My father tells me I will grow up to be like him. To do that I will have to attend classes like he did.

When the Student is Ready the Teacher Arrives

Our world is like a giant classroom where we are all required to take classes.

Some classes we get to choose. When the choice is ours we take all the easy classes, the ones that give us the most pleasure.

On other occasions, someone else sets the curriculum. Then we only get to choose how we will work within the curriculum. This makes the learning experience difficult. These are classes that we do not want to attend. While we must attend the class, we can refuse to learn. We can fight against the experience and the teacher; however, if we choose to do that, another teacher will present the same lesson to us at another time in another place.

If you are still making the same mistakes you were twenty years ago it is time to learn the lesson. Until you have learned the lesson you cannot move forward.

You are like a broken record stuck in a rut. Remember, the school door is always open because learning does not end.

Our Great Teachers

You first learn lessons as a son or a daughter. As a son or daughter you are in a subservient role and must conform to the demands made of you by your parents.

As an adolescent this is most difficult, but there are lessons to be learned.

Eventually your role changes to where you become a mother or father.

As a parent your role will be to teach your children. In this process something happens, you find that your children are teaching you. The greatest teachers we will ever have are our children or those closest to us. They will teach us lessons that others cannot. They have been chosen as your teachers because you are less likely to be able to avoid them. You have to deal with whatever lessons they present to you.

If you do not like the lessons that others are teaching you, then you do not have to stay in their presence, you simply leave. There are no emotional ties so it is

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easy not to listen to them. This is not so with your children, the bond of love is too strong.

In this way the playing field is unfair. Have you ever noticed that your children can do things against you that you would never do against them? Some adolescents do not seem to have any difficulty in sinking the boots into their parents, knocking the stuffing out of them. Some use abuse and discard their parents at will.

One of the things that we need to learn in life is that our children will never love us like we love them. It has to be this way. If not, our children would never leave home or love and marry someone.

A father complained after making a great effort to take his daughter to the distant airport, she basically ignored him and spent her time and attentions on her boyfriend. His comments were, “I felt superfluous.”

That is because he was superfluous. No longer are our sons and daughters as interested in us once they reach a certain age. This is how it should be. They have to make their own way in life and we must, in fact, take the back seat or, for that matter, get out of the car. It is probably safer anyhow. This is an important thing for us to understand. It enables us to get on with living so as not to be weighed down because our teenagers will not do the things we want them to do, or live up to our expectations.

Parents are the ones who must come of age, otherwise, as the proverb says, “The fathers have eaten sour grapes, and the children’s teeth are set on edge”.

Let me make the point again. As parents we will always love our children more than they will love us.

If you do not believe this, it could be for a number of reasons. Firstly, you do not have any children so it would be difficult for you to know. Secondly, you do have children but they are young and constantly shower you with their love and kisses. Thirdly, you do not have teenagers, that species that see themselves as the center of the universe to which we all must pay homage.

Finally, if you are not convinced, and still believe that your children will love you as much as you love them, then have a look at the number of parents that are placed into old folks homes by their children. These places are bulging at the

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seams or, at least, that is how it is in the west. I understand that sometimes this is the best and only alternative, and so I am not making any judgments in this regard, only observing the way it is.

The Refiners’ Fire

It has been said that it rains upon the just, as well as the unjust. Someone added that it rains on the just more because the unjust have stolen their umbrellas.

No one is exempt from experiencing the trials and tribulations of life. It is the common denominator of being human. These are the lessons we do not choose.

Dolly Parton said:

“In order to see the rainbow, you must first experience the rain.”

Helen Keller expressed it this way:

“Character cannot be developed in ease and quiet. Only through experiences of trial and suffering can the soul be strengthened, vision cleared, ambition inspired and success achieved.”

Through our suffering there is a refining process that takes place where the dross is burnt out of us. You must expect trouble as an inevitable part of life.

What Was Happening to You in 1992?

In a speech in November 1992, Queen Elizabeth II used the Latin term ‘annus horribilis’, for ‘horrible year’.

She was referring to all the horrible things that had happened to the Royal Family during that year - Princess Anne’s divorce, the separation of Andrew and Sarah, the fire at Windsor Castle, Andrew Morton’s exposé about Diana, etc.

Like Queen Elizabeth it was also an annus horribilis or one hell of a year for me.

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Gillian Barre Syndrome

Some years ago my mother had a heart transplant. At the beginning of 1992 she went to see her local General Practitioner who suggested that she have an influenza injection.

Under normal circumstances an influenza injection would have prevented influenza, colds, etc. but, because my mother had been a heart transplant recipient, complications set in and my mother contracted Gillian Barre Syndrome. This syndrome shuts down all the body’s systems. My mother was placed on a life support machine as she was paralysed from the neck to the toes.

She remained in this condition for some months.

As we lived in Melbourne and she was in an Adelaide hospital, we travelled there to see her. I have seen a lot of sick people in my life but I do not think that I have ever seen anybody in the condition she was in.

My father, who was in Adelaide to be at my mother’s bedside, began to cough up blood. After being x-rayed he was diagnosed with lung cancer. So, while my mother was in hospital endeavouring to recuperate, my father was sent to surgery where he was operated on and had a part of his lung removed.

From that point onwards his health quickly deteriorated. Within a matter of three weeks we were preparing for his death. My mother had been released from hospital and returned to Broken Hill.

Considering my father’s position I decided that I would go to Broken Hill and visit with him. My wife remained in Melbourne and attended to her work commitments.

The Stolen Car

While I was in Broken Hill visiting my sick mother and my dying father, my wife came home from work one evening and after going to bed, she heard a noise at the front of our home. Our car was being rolled out of our driveway. She immediately got up, jumped into our other car and gave chase to the thieves.

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Our car careered around the corner, out of control and wrapped itself around a tree. My wife, at this stage, pulled up behind the car and raced to the front door of our stolen car only to find that it was one of our sons who was at the wheel with his mates beside him. The car, of course, was written off. My wife rang me to tell me of the dilemma in which she had been placed.

Life is like that. “One door closes and another one slams shut.”

The Recession We Had to Have

1992 was the year of slamming doors. It was the beginning of the slide of our economy and the recession we had to have. We suffered great financial difficulties during this year as detailed in my earlier book ‘Get Out of Debt Before It Kills You’.

In that same year our offices were burgled. Our tenant’s contents were stolen and he claimed the insurance. Strangely, our contents were not touched.

Later that year at about three o’clock in the morning we received a telephone call from the fire brigade. They informed us that our offices were on fire. Our offices were severely damaged and, of course, we had to evacuate and save whatever could be salvaged. What the fire did not get the water did.

It was established later that the tenant who had had his contents stolen, had set fire to the premises so that he could make another claim against the insurance company.

For the next six months we experienced the difficulty of running a business from our home.

Could Things Get Any Worse?

Yes, and they did, but that is life! This is illustrated by the following story.

Imagine you are a lonely male frog who is looking for a companion with whom to spend your life. There does not seem to be anyone interested in you no matter how hard you try. This has shattered your self-image. You are feeling depressed and unhappy.

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In an act of desperation you telephone your Psychic Hotline to ask what your future holds. Your personal psychic advisor tells you, “You are going to meet a beautiful young girl who will want to know everything about you.’’

This wonderful news has turned night into day. You croak, “Where will I meet her? At a party?’’

”No,’’ says the psychic, “in her Biology class.’’

Fire Is The Test Of Gold

Through our experiences we learn great lessons. Overcoming difficulties is what develops strength and character. You might ask, “Strength, to do what?” The answer is, “To overcome more difficulties”. You can reach a point where difficulties are easier to overcome, and not as daunting.

Your attitude towards them is such that you view them as another experience, or lesson, that you have to work through. It is of little value to yourself or anybody else to complain, whine, or moan, as eighty percent of people could not care less and the other twenty percent are actually glad. You simply have to work through them. It is the process that is important. Maxers come to know that sometimes it is the journey that is more important than the destination. So enjoy the journey.

Gold is passed through fire while being refined and so are you. This process yields a number of benefits.

In experiencing trials and tribulations you are exposed to life from a different perspective. You experience another way of looking at things. If you have been financially comfortable all of your life and things turn around to where you become ‘poor’ or ‘lose it all’, then it allows you to see life from the angle of people living their life in poor circumstances.

You identify with others who have had similar experiences. In other words there is a connection made. Something happens between people who have experienced difficult things.

Through this process we develop compassion for others. No longer are we cynical, judgmental, and critical of others. We are now compassionate, as we

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have travelled the same way, having walked in their moccasins. Now we are in a better position to help others.

Through our difficulties our experiences are greatly increased. Our repertoire, if you like, has been expanded. Figuratively speaking, we can now play more tunes, speak more languages, paint more pictures and do more things.

It is during these gut-wrenching experiences that you are taken to new frontiers.

You walk to the edge of the darkness, and then walk into it. You hit the wall and go beyond the pain-barrier.

You are humbled during the process. When you endure difficulties you are brought down to a level equal with others. You leave, or are thrown out of your ivory tower, hitting the pavement, you now see who else is there.

Those things we have called our weaknesses, once overcome, now become our strengths. Weakness is the birthplace of strength.

Experiencing trials and tribulations gives us a greater appreciation for life. It brings reality to our doorstep. All of a sudden we appreciate the simple things in life: the air we breathe, the flowers we smell, the water we drink, and the clouds in the sky. We unclutter our lives.

Through our extreme difficulties we become acquainted with God, each in our own way.

Adversity Overcomes Procrastination

Have you ever procrastinated about making an important decision? We all have at some point in our lives. We keep putting it off, sometimes for years.

Making decisions can be a difficult task. We may not be sure of the outcome or the consequences of the decisions, therefore there is an element of fear involved.

We suffer what might be called temporary insanity. Our mind is in turmoil as we swing back and forward. One moment we will, the next moment we will not.

This may go on for days, weeks, months, or even years. What adversity does is quicken the process. Adversity causes us to make decisions.

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It may be likened to standing at a door of an aircraft with a parachute on. This is your first jump. You are scared, the palms of your hands are clammy, and beads of sweat are forming on your forehead. You think, “What if the parachute does not open?” Your jumpmaster is encouraging you to jump. You exclaim, “I just cannot do it.”

At that moment the aircraft engine begins to run rough, something is wrong, it splutters and, with a violent surge, it stops. Only the wind can now be heard rushing past the open door. It is going down. The thought of the impending crash and your death, acts as the catalyst for you to jump.

There is no time to think or procrastinate. You jump. You watch the aircraft plummet to the ground. It gets there before you do and explodes on impact. You are horrified and saddened for those people who went down with the plane. You cannot help but think how thankful you are that you made the decision to jump.

Adversity acted as a catalyst. It forced you into making a decision. It provided a sense of urgency that motivated you into taking action.

Do we enjoy learning lessons through trials and tribulations? No, not unless we are masochists. Being exposed to new experiences is not easy. If we learn the lesson the first time, will the teachers have to come again? No, not in that lesson we have learned. We move on to the next level of our development. We can be sure we will continue to learn new lessons. Once we stop learning lessons then life is over. Or is it?

Freedom To Choose

The greatest gift you have been given is the freedom to make choices. Use this gift to its maximum. Do not let it sit on the shelf and rust, or gather dust and become a museum piece. Do not give anyone your Power of Attorney to make decisions and choices about your life.

Freedom is the stuff life is made of. Sometimes you will make mistakes. Well, that is all right. Anybody who ever achieves anything in life will make mistakes.

Say to yourself, “It is all right to make mistakes”. When you have made a mistake be objective about it. Good people make mistakes and bad people make mistakes. In this regard we are all the same. Remember if you fall over and get up quickly, it is as if you had never fallen over.

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This is a part of the process that is used to develop you into the wonderful person that your destiny requires. When you make a mistake do not linger too long or continue to revisit the birthplace of the mistake. Yes, there may be some value in analysing what went wrong, and what steps should be taken in order not to do the same thing again.

For these purposes only it is okay to visit your past but remember, do not live there. There is nothing you can do to take it back. You must first of all accept that no amount of crying, no amount of punishing yourself with guilt, will change anything.

Why Decision-Making Is Difficult

One of the things we do most frequently in life is make decisions. Each moment of our life we make decisions about what we need or want to do. Making correct decisions is critical because of their consequences. One decision could change the course of our life; some might even say, the course of eternity.

Usually at a younger or ideological age we are inclined to see decisions as black or white, good or bad, right or wrong. With wisdom, hindsight and, maybe age, we realize that some decisions are not black or white; there are all kinds of grey in between.

This is what creates a dilemma. At times you have to choose between the better of two good things and the better of two evils. This makes decision-making difficult. We avoid having to choose between two bad things because it goes against our belief system. One result can have both good and bad consequences, or the better option may carry risks.

Most of the time we are free to make our own decisions. At times there will be issues in life where we will be forced into making a decision. If we do not make some decisions, others will make them for us. Our belief system will influence how and what decisions we will make. A strong belief system will give us the confidence required to be firm and precise in our decision-making.

Running away from our decisions is not decision-making. It is decision-avoidance and this generally makes the matter worse. The ‘important’ becomes

‘urgent’. The ‘urgent’ becomes ‘critical’.

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The best time to make decisions is when we do not have to make them. There is a story told of a locomotive driver who was coming around a bend and found a goods train strewn across his track. He immediately applied his accelerator for full power and knocked the goods train out of his way. This decision saved his passengers from death and injury.

Later he was interviewed and asked how could he have decided so quickly his course of action. He said that he did not have to decide. The decision had been made years before. He had previously decided what actions he would take if this event were ever to occur.

Deciding on a course of action beforehand can help remove the stress out of making decisions. Having to make decisions under great pressure like divorce, death or at some other traumatic moment is not the most conducive time for good decision-making. Under extreme stress people become less efficient, and that will impair the ability to make correct decisions.

Operation Thunderbolt

On 27 June 1976 Arab terrorists hijacked an Air France jetliner that had departed from Athens en route to Paris. The aircraft was diverted to Uganda. Idi Amin the infamous President of Uganda gave the terrorists safe haven.

The hostages, many of whom were Jews, were bundled into the terminal building of the airport. Israel had a big problem that needed to be resolved. The government considered many options. The one that was agreed upon was code-named ‘Operation Thunderbolt’. It was a rescue attempt, where Israeli Commandos in Hercules propjets would fly over 2500 miles down the Suez Canal. In the dark of the night they would land at Entebbe to free one hundred and three hostages.

It has been considered the most triumphant rescue of modern times. The world applauded the spectacular ending of a terrifying ordeal.

All but one was rescued. A woman by the name of Dora Bloch was in a Ugandan hospital, she was never seen again.

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When the Israeli Minister of Defence was interviewed after the rescue, the question was put to him, “How could you take such a risk by putting the lives of all those people on the line?” His answer was, “The alternative”.

When making a decision always ask, “What is the alternative?” Of course the alternative for the Israeli Government was to leave the hostages in the barbaric hands of Idi Amin and his regime and have them meet the same fate as Dora Bloch.

The risks of such an operation had to be weighed and considered, then acted upon. When solving any problems there will be alternatives. Some of these alternatives are not possible, practical, just, or desirable. Therefore, there may be only one alternative.

This one must be chosen and acted upon. Any action should be in harmony with your belief system or mission statement. Martin Luther King said, “Cowardice asks the question, ‘Is it safe?’ Consensus asks the question. ‘Is it popular?’ But conscience asks, ‘Is it right?’

Not all decisions can be made quickly. Some take longer than others but once you have made your decision you should not procrastinate in implementing it.

There is more money lost each year in business through lack of decisions than through wrong decisions. Progress is retarded when decisions are procrastinated.

Time-out or Burnout

Mahatma Gandhi said, “There is more to life than making it go faster”.

We live in an age where speed is the essence of life. Everyone wants everything now. We eat fast food, drive fast cars, and develop photos in an instant.

Microwave ovens cook our meals in seconds. We cannot wait. It must be now.

Patience is almost a forgotten virtue. We allow ourselves to become irritated or angry if things do not happen quickly.

The saying, ‘Rome was not built in a day’ has little meaning in today’s society.

We try to cram more and more into less and less. This produces dis-ease.

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Stress is the result of making life go faster. Psychosomatic symptoms develop as the balance of the body is upset by the overload. Stress is a name commonly given to explain physical and mental exhaustion.

Mark Gorkin, an expert in stress management, defines stress this way, “Burnout is the gradual process by which a person, in response to prolonged stress and physical, mental and emotional strain, detaches from work and other meaningful relationships. The result is lowered productivity, cynicism, confusion, a feeling of being drained, having nothing more to give.”

Sometimes stress overload becomes such a common feature of our lives that we are unaware that it is happening.

Here are some common signs that indicate high levels of stress: Grinding your teeth (particularly while sleeping)

Migraine or tension-induced headaches

Insomnia, nightmares

Anxiety, panic attacks

Shoulder, neck, or back pain

Sexual dysfunction

Chronic fatigue

Irregular pulse rate (racing pulse)

Skin eruptions, skin dryness

Spontaneous sweating

Poor concentration

Frequent flu or colds

Lack of physical coordination

Impulsive, irrational behavior

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Speech problems

Eating irregularities, too much or too little

Elimination problems, constipation or diarrhea.

There are times in life when it all just gets too much. This condition is not only apparent in the world of business but also in our private lives. All can and some do suffer burnout, however, it is more likely to be found in A-type or ‘driver’

personalities.

How do you know if you belong to this category? If you are a workaholic, cannot relax, will not take holidays or rest, must always be at your optimum, winning is an obsession in all things, must get to the top no matter who you walk all over, then it is very likely that you belong to this category. With that kind of stress you are probably a candidate for a heart attack.

An Ancient Practice for a Modern Society

Numbers, like words, have been deemed to have great power and meaning.

Ancient and modern people have studied numerology in an attempt to understand life.

Seven is an interesting number. It is considered to be a perfect number signifying completion, perfection, or consummation. Applied chronologically, the number seven indicates the beginning and the ending of a cycle or Alpha and Omega. In the true sense of the word if something is complete then it is perfect, hence the number seven has taken on a sacred meaning as only God is considered to be perfect.

In most religions this number is significant.

There is mention of the Seven Heavens.

We have seven days in a week, seven deadly sins, seven seas, seven colors of the spectrum and Seven Wonders of the World.

We talk of the Seven Pillars of Wisdom.

Buddhists believe in seven reincarnations.

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The Japanese celebrate the seventh day after a baby’s birth, and mourn the seventh day and the seventh week following a death.

Jewish baby boys are circumcised on the seventh day.

Muslims walk around the Kabba seven times.

In ancient times, every seventh year farmers would allow the land to lay fallow for a year. In that year the land would regenerate.

The completion of a week is on the seventh day and, in some religions, this day is known as the Sabbath. In Christianity the day of rest is Sunday. In Judaism this day is Saturday. In Islam it is Friday.

This idea comes from the teaching that God created the heavens and the earth in six days and on the seventh day he rested. Man, more than God, needs one day of the week to rest. The body and mind needs time to rejuvenate. This is a vital practice if we are to maintain good health.

The Sabbatical

There is a practice among academics, in particular, where the seventh year is a year of rest or change. This is called ‘The Sabbatical’. This is a time where a year is taken off from one’s normal occupation, a time to step back, a time to view things differently, a time to restore one’s creative energy. It is a time to get out of the rut.

I would recommend the concept of taking a sabbatical as a solution for burnout.

I can already hear you saying you cannot afford the time or the money to do this.

This kind of thinking may be a symptom of burnout. Taking time off for a sabbatical is cheaper than paying medical and hospital bills, and much more pleasant. If you do not take time off at regular intervals your quality and length of life will suffer. All work and no play makes Jack a dull boy and Jill a dull girl.

You may think that your work or profession cannot survive without you. If this is the case, go for a walk through your local cemetery and see the current residence of all those people who thought they were indispensable or, if that is not your favorite place to visit, take a bucket, tie a piece of rope onto the handle and go

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for a walk along the jetty. Lower the bucket into the ocean and draw up a bucket of water. The hole that is left in the water represents the space that will be left when you are no longer here.

This is not being negative. It is simply a fact of life. We are always coming and going. Somebody else is always replacing someone. We should resist becoming puffed up in our self-importance. Life has a way of teaching us that one day we are a rooster and the next day we are a feather duster.

Why Not Design Your Own Sabbatical?

Obviously any sabbatical has to be planned for. It may take you years to plan and to organize, years to earn enough money to fund your one year off. You may need years to pay off your debts but how exciting is that?

Think of all the things you have always wanted to do but never had the time. In one year you could:

Travel around Australia or see the world

Write the book you have always wanted to write

Paint the pictures you have always wanted to paint

Attend classes and courses to develop new skills

Restore that old car that you have dreamed about

Get your pilot’s licence

Do volunteer work with a humanitarian or charitable organization.

Not to mention resting the body and mind. The list is endless, only limited by your dreams and aspirations.

Ever wished you had life over again? You can, for a year, if you take a Sabbatical. You could experience new work, a new country, a new people, a new way of thinking, a new language, new food, and a new climate. A Sabbatical creates a new beginning in life.

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For most of my life I have been involved in the financial services industry.

Thirty years ago I started my working career as a life insurance agent. This business grew into a financial planning practice.

In the year 2000 I sold this business. I have to conclude this was the beginning of my new life. I have no regrets.

In the December of that year, my wife, daughter and I left Australia and travelled to Beirut, Lebanon. This was to be a sabbatical. We worked under the auspices of an American university as volunteers.

Our work was to digitize old manuscripts. We worked with three wonderful Lebanese people, Patricia, Walid and Amin. This was a new beginning.

Everything was new, where we lived, the country, the people, the food and the language. It was almost like we were starting life off afresh.

This is the idea of a sabbatical, to take you away from the old and create the new.

It becomes a time of rest and a time for restoration, regeneration, rejuvenation, and a period of creative incubation.

The work we were involved in was not only of value to the Lebanese community but also to the international academic community. Many of these valuable manuscripts had deteriorated due to age and the poor conditions under which they were stored. The acid found in the old inks had eaten through the texts.

Some of them fell apart in our hands.

The other important issue was the instability of the Middle East. It is not unlikely that some time in the future these records, like others, could be destroyed through war or hostilities.

Our work was to use digital cameras to take images of these manuscripts and then, from these images, we would burn them onto compact discs. The donor of these manuscripts would then receive the manuscripts back along with CD

copies of the text.

This work enabled scholars and students to have access to the records via technology. As no further handling of these old manuscripts would be required, it would be expected that they would remain in a better state of repair.

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By the end of twelve months we had experienced probably the best year of our lives. I say ‘probably’ because I’m expecting many more ‘best years’. After twelve months we returned to Australia, feeling refreshed and invigorated.

Retaining the Newness

The world is full of starters because there is something special about the first time. It is exciting to start a new project, a new relationship, and a new job, to move into our first home or go on our first trip overseas. In time new things become old. We do not consider the old as exciting as the new. The old carries the battle scars of time. The old becomes boring and uninteresting. When this happens it becomes hard work to finish what we have started - to see it through.

When repetition diminishes excitement, then the hard work begins. The honeymoon is over.

People who live life to the max. have perfected the art of seeing the newness in all things over and over again. They retain the excitement of the first time. This is not something that is easily accomplished and even knowing about this principle does not guarantee our ability to live it.

Some years ago we were living in an Arab village that was a suburb of Jerusalem. It was in the biblical township where Mary, Martha and Lazarus came from, a place called Bethany. The Palestinians call it Azaria after Lazarus.

Often my family and I would get on an old dusty pre-1948 Mercedes Benz bus that had so many holes in its floor that you could watch the road go by. We would travel around the side of the Mount of Olives into Jerusalem.

When we first arrived in this country everything was new and exciting. We considered that we were standing and walking in the place where famous people had walked before - the Rabbis, the Muftis, the wise men, the prophets, and the patriarchs, Jesus of Nazareth, and so, with awe, we would drink in the sights.

Each day we would view the walls surrounding Old Jerusalem that had been built in the sixteenth century by the Ottomans. As we passed Golgotha, the place of the skull or the supposed site on which Jesus of Nazareth was crucified, we would think about the impact of that experience in the lives of millions of Christians. Our eyes would feast upon this and other historical places.

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As the months went by, something happened, we found ourselves becoming less and less interested. At one point, we started to take these things for granted and they were lucky if we gave them a glance. On a number of occasions I had to remind myself of where I was living, and the fascinating experiences I was having every day. To get the most out of this I had to see these things afresh every day to retain the excitement and importance of living in such a famous city and intriguing part of the world.

If we can catch the vision of this concept, everything in life will always be interesting. We will always appreciate and be amazed about what is going on around us regardless of the number of times that we have experienced it.

William Blake penned it this way:

“To see a world in a grain of sand and a heaven in a wild flower, Hold infinity in the palm of your hand and eternity in an hour”.

Take a simple example of how it rains; this is a fascinating thing. The moisture is collected from the ocean, brought across the land in clouds, cooled down to such an extent that the clouds cannot retain the moisture and then this water trickles down onto our homes and gardens as rain.

In all of this it is not new rain. It is the same old rain that has been falling on people’s roofs for thousands of years. For those people living in areas where it does not rain much, when this old rain falls it causes much excitement.

Everybody runs outside and dances in it. This is recycling at its best.

The whole thing is amazing. However, we just take it for granted, particularly if we live in a place like Melbourne or Sydney. In fact, worse than that, some consider it a nuisance. It has become old or is it we who have become old? We have allowed the experience to become old in our minds. We have let go the magic of the experience while in search of the magic in some new thing.

While we discard something as old, boring, and uninteresting, someone else finds the same thing new, exciting and vibrant. Relationships are the best example of this. You may conclude that this is human nature and I would agree, but not for the maxers. Become one of those who experience the newness of life in every day and in every experience.

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It does not matter how many times I watch an aircraft take off and fly, it still amazes me how this happens. It is always new to me as if I am seeing it for the first time.

Start looking at the common in an uncommon way. In this way you will live every day with excitement and interest and you will see the world through the eyes of a child. You will become a finisher, and an exciting and interesting person; the kind of person that people like to be around.

Chapter Summary

Major Points to Think About

Am I enjoying the banquet, or eating the crumbs that fall from the table?

What is the measure of my creation?

Where am I positioned in Maslow's hierarchy of needs?

Who am I, and how much do I really know about myself?

Is there a grand design for my life?

Do I really believe in accidents?

Was my conception the beginning of my life?

Will death end my life?

Do I see the world as a giant classroom?

Who are the great teachers in my life?

What is my attitude towards problems?

In what ways do I take time out to rejuvenate?

Suggested Points to Act Upon

I will use reason to control desire.

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I will not use nature or nurture as excuses for not achieving success. I will seize life, understanding that I am a part of the grand design.

I will pay attention to the small things of life and focus on what is before me.

When problems arrive I will view them as opportunities.

MY NOTES

___________________________________________

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2. Maxers Live In The Real World

The Seduction of Life

ne of the first things we must learn about life is that it is seductive. You may not have thought about life this way before, but life is very Oseductive. We get caught up in situatio

ns and, before we realize it, we

have been lured into a trap and caught. There is always someone or something trying to scam us.

With the advent of the Internet, the scammers have the global village to victimize. One of the latest scams is where you receive a convincing telephone call or email from the widow of a former minister in a third world country. Her plea is that, due to the instability of her own country, her life may be in danger and she needs a place to deposit her money. This amount is generally big enough to impress, maybe millions of dollars. If you will help her by letting her use your account she will give you twenty percent of the deposit. This could be hundreds of thousands of dollars for your trouble. All you have to do is give her your bank account details so she can make the deposit.

Once she has these details your account is cleaned out. You have been taken to the cleaners. These scams are so sophisticated that a doctor and his wife in the USA mortgaged their home to raise three hundred and fifty thousand American dollars for legal and government costs, to have seven million dollars released and put into their account from a deceased estate in Nigeria. They were scammed for three hundred and fifty thousand dollars and, in return, they received nothing.

You might be saying to yourself, “I would never fall for that one.” That is probably true but there may have been other things that you have fallen for. In some cases the outcomes are even more disastrous than losing money.

Life presents to us a series of experiences that masquerade as reality. The challenge is not to be scammed by them but to be able to detect the real from the unreal. The things that are not real are often called decoys, illusions, perceptions,

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and imitations. So clever is the seduction that you do not even know that you have been seduced.

If life is not based on sound ethical principles, it is only with hindsight that we realize that what we fought for was a decoy. It was not the real thing. It only appeared to be the real thing, but it was so convincing that you gave your energy, time, money, and life for it.

Or, said another way, we can spend all our lives climbing the ladder of success and, upon reaching the top we find the ladder has been leaning on the wrong wall.

The Grass on the Other Side

Why is it that we allow ourselves to be seduced? Primarily it is because we are always looking for something beyond that which we have or are entitled to have.

The grass is always greener on the other side, or so we think. We allow our wants or desires to dominate our needs. Sometimes, deep inside, we know what we should do, what the real need is, and yet our wants are screaming so loudly in our ears that we cannot hear our needs.

Our needs appear to us in the form of Circe, who in Homer’s Odyssey, was a beautiful woman whose charms were so great they could not be resisted.

Our needs are few and legitimate. Our wants are many and illegitimate. If we are honest with ourselves, we must conclude that it is our wants that have caused most of our pain and problems in our lives.

Having created these wants we then whine and complain about our creation. We are like the young man who murdered his mother and father, then pleaded with the court for mercy because he was an orphan.

In this way we have created our own Frankenstein who will inflict terrible retribution upon us. We will be destroyed or exalted by our own works. The grass is not always greener on the other side because there are acres of diamonds in our own back yard.

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Money the Great Seducer

I learned a long time ago that, whatever can be misunderstood, will be misunderstood.

Let me make one thing clear. I am not against having a lot of money or enjoying those things that money can buy. I know that money can make life easier. I have been rich, and I have been poor, but rich is better.

What I am against is the belief that money will make you happy. People without money often believe that having a lot of money will make them happy. This is a decoy. It is just not true. There are those who are very rich and yet they are very unhappy. These people have huge bank accounts. They drive prestige motor vehicles and live in mansions and yet they do not enjoy happiness. Money will not buy happiness. If it could, the shops would be sold out.

On the other hand, there are those of little or modest means who are very happy.

I have visited some of the poorest countries in the world to find some of the happiest people living there. It takes more than money to make one happy.

Then why do some of us spend a lifetime chasing money? It is because we have been scammed. We live in a capitalist society that has seduced us into believing that more and more is better and better.

This should not surprise us, as it is the charter of capitalism. All advertising is based on the principle, “If you buy this item it will make you happy, and it will be a sign of your success.”

The sooner we can learn that it is not the material possessions that we surround ourselves with that make us happy, the sooner we will be happy. Happiness comes from the inside out not from the outside in.

The real key to being happy is to live by a code of ethics or a value system that produces real happiness. Having achieved that, the riches of the world will be the icing on the cake.

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Stuffed and Animated

Another way of expressing this idea is how duck shooters will cleverly place decoys or imitation ducks upon the ponds and lakes to fool the ducks flying overhead into believing that this is a safe place to land. The hunters will even blow a whistle to imitate the noises of the duck to beckon the ducks to join them.

It is only after the ducks are being shot at do they realize that it was not a safe place to land. By this stage it is too late. They have been shot.

On the other hand decoys are catching hunters. Game wardens in the USA now use clever tactics to catch the hunters and poachers who hunt animals out of season or in designated safe areas.

In an attempt to catch them, replicas of animals will be placed in strategic positions. Then to perfect the decoy the animal is animated. So good is the decoy that it fools the hunter into believing it is the real thing. The hunter takes aim and fires, only to be caught by the game warden hiding nearby. The hunter had been seduced into believing the stuffed animal was real.

This tells us something about our nature. We can be fooled into believing many things in life are real. At some time we have all been fooled or deceived by the many decoys of life.

The Magical Tent

September is always hot and dusty in Broken Hill but this does not stop the people from visiting the Silver City Show, a place for the sideshows to expose their wares. Vanessa the Undresser was always there, although it was a new Vanessa each year. The travelling boxing troupe would challenge the strength and bravery of the local lads.

It was there, at the age of eight, that I was introduced to the world of illusions. In the magical tent I witnessed a lady’s head being chopped off, only for it to reappear in a crystal ball. From this crystal ball she laughed and talked with the mystified audience. It was real but I reasoned, how could it be? At eight years old I knew something had happened, even though I could not understand what had happened.

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According to the dictionary, the word ‘illusion’ comes from the Latin ‘illusio’

meaning ‘deceit’. An illusion is a false or deceptive impression of reality. In psychological terms, it is a perception of reality that is not true. A good example of an illusion is a mirror, which appears to have depth, but in reality, it is a flat plane.

Life can be very illusory. We worry over things that generally never happen. We fight great battles that only take place in our own minds. We dream, never having the courage to implement the dreams. Living in the world of illusion is like enjoying a great feast in a dream only to wake up and still be hungry.

That Car

To illustrate this point, my daughter decided to lend her car to her boyfriend for a few hours one afternoon. This, in itself, should not have been anything extraordinary. Not until he had an accident and demolished the car. The car was not insured and he was not in any position to replace it.

My daughter needed another car so her cousin said to her, “I know where there is a car that would suit you and the person who is to selling it does not want much for it. The only difficulty is that it is in the country and it would require you to travel for about three hours.”

Discussing this with her boyfriend, her brother, and his girlfriend, they decided that they would leave the next morning in her brother’s car and travel up to the country to look at and to purchase the motor vehicle. The only difficulty was that her brother’s car was being serviced and not expected to be finished until later that morning.

The four of them decided to take the day off work. Late in the morning they travelled by train to the mechanics to pick up her brother’s car. The car was not finished and was not expected to be finished until early in the afternoon so they left and went to McDonald’s to have some lunch and to fill in some time before going back to collect the repaired car.

They arrived back only to find that there had been complications and now the car was not expected to be finished until four or five o’clock that day. Wherein they

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all got back on the train, travelled back home and then organized a box of tools to take with them should there be any problems with the new car.

In due course they travelled back to pick up the car. By this stage it was about five o’clock in the afternoon. With three hours travel ahead of them they decided to call the girl who owned the car to inform her of their late arrival, only to find out that the car had been sold three days previously.

This whole day was spent in an illusion. The only place the car existed was in their minds; taking the day off work, the train ride to the mechanic’s shop a number of times, the car not being ready, the dinner at McDonalds, home to get the toolbox, etc.

Well, in many respects, this is a reflection on how we live. We set up scenarios only to find out at the end of the day that the only place they were real was within our minds. In reality they never existed. Think of how productive life would be if we eliminated everything from our minds that was, in fact, just an illusion.

The Other Woman

Perception is the set of processes by which we recognize, organize, and make sense of stimuli in our environment. No one will doubt the value of this process, however, our perceptions are not always accurate. We sometimes interpret the data incorrectly.

Have you ever been parked alongside a train or a car and perceived that you are moving when in reality you are stationary? You hit your brakes in the belief that this will stop your car from rolling.

A few years ago I was attending a conference in Seattle, Washington. During one of the breaks my wife and I decided to do some sightseeing. At the end of the sightseeing we were at the bus stop waiting for a bus to take us back to our hotel.

A man with no legs was sitting in a wheelchair, waiting for the same bus. This took my interest as I wondered how he was going to maneuver himself and the wheelchair on to the bus.

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The bus arrived and he was at the front door and we were at the back door. My wife and I got on to the bus and I sat down alongside her on the aisle seat so that I could view the front of the bus to watch this maneuver. I was totally absorbed in what was taking place and started to snuggle into my wife who was sitting on my left.

Through my peripheral vision I noticed another woman sitting in the seat opposite. Her stare captured my attention as I glanced at her. It was then that I realized she was, in fact, my wife. The other woman I was snuggling into was simply a passenger on the bus. With a shocked look on my face, the three of us burst out laughing as we realized what had taken place.

The reason I relate this incident is for that moment, the woman who was sitting next to me was my wife, and I acted in an appropriate manner only to find out my perception of this situation was totally wrong.

It does highlight that though we can feel something very strongly, our senses can give us the wrong message.

Edward Stevens in his book ‘Oriental Mysticism’ made this statement, “Tragedy and pain exist only for those who mistake the world of illusion for the real. I suffer only insofar as I am bound to this world of illusion.” Wow! Think about that.

We Knew We Would Not Get It

During the year 1981 we were living in Jerusalem. We returned to Australia rich in experience but, financially, we were flat broke. We had not only hit rock bottom but had started digging. We were living in Adelaide where I had never worked so hard for so little. My wife’s part-time income was paid directly into the local bank.

In an effort to survive we decided to apply for a loan from the bank. This would buy us time until our financial position improved. We had an appointment with the Loans Manager where we put on our best front or, you might even say,

‘gilded the lily’; we knew inwardly there were holes in our story.

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At the end of the interview we were told that the next day he would ring to inform us of the decision. The next day came and went and we did not hear from the bank. Our conclusion was that the application had been rejected.

Each fortnight as my wife went into the bank she would come out and say, “The Loans Manager is giving me the greasiest looks”. My wife hated going into the bank.

About nine months later I was at home one afternoon when the phone rang. The voice at the other end said, “Mr. Curyer, this is the Bank Manager. We have had your loan approval here for the past nine months. Are you intending using it?”

Thinking on my feet I said, “Yes, I will be down later today.”

We could not believe that we had convinced ourselves that we did not get the loan. We did not even ring the bank back. My wife had imagined for nine months that she was being given the evil eye. The whole thing was an illusion. In reality the only place it existed was in our own minds.

What does that tell you about the power of the mind? We have made our home in the world of illusions.

The Hitchhiker

We must resist living in the unreal world by being circumspect in everything we think and do. To be circumspect means that we consider all of the aspects before us, discerning the real from the unreal. By doing this we are less inclined to make mistakes because we do not jump to conclusions. Jumping to conclusions is not a sound way of making decisions. A story illustrates this principle: John was driving home one day when he picked up a hitchhiker. As they rode along, John felt for his wallet and found it missing, whereupon he stopped the car, ordered the hitchhiker out, and then said, “Now hand over the wallet before I bash you”. The frightened hitchhiker handed over the wallet and John got back into his car and continued on. When John arrived home that evening he started to tell his wife about his experience with the hitchhiker but she interrupted him by saying, “before I forget it, do you know that you left your wallet at home this morning?”

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Think before you speak. Take your time when making decisions but, once you have decided, act promptly. Do your homework and count the cost before you act. There is a story told in the New Testament, about a man who sets out to build a tower.

The text reads:

“For which of you, intending to build a tower, sitteth not down first, and counteth the cost, whether he have [sufficient] to finish [it]?

Lest haply, after he hath laid the foundation, and is not able to finish [it], all that behold [it] begin to mock him,

Saying, this man began to build, and was not able to finish.”

A Beautiful Mind

A Beautiful Mind is a movie based on the dramatic and moving biography by Sylvia Nasar about John Forbes Nash, Jr. It is the true story of the Nobel Prize-winning mathematical genius whose formulas established the principles of the

‘Game Theory’ that would ultimately revolutionize the field of economics.

Nash experienced the exalted heights of notoriety and the depths of despair. His career crashed at the age of thirty because he was diagnosed with paranoid schizophrenia.

Russell Crowe plays Nash who has a number of imaginary associates who speak directly to him and comment on his behavior. They direct him to behave in a certain way that is outside reality but, for him, his imagination has become his reality.

William Parcher (Ed Harris) plays a high-ranking intelligence officer who recruits Nash as a secret agent to break the enemy’s codes. This gives Nash access to the Pentagon where he exposes the Russian plans to detonate atom bombs in major cities within the USA. He is sworn to secrecy and cannot reveal any information to his wife, Alicia, about the dangerous project he has undertaken. As Nash is lost in his world of overpowering delusions his wife now discovers her worst fears, that her husband is seeing the unreal world in a real way.

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The movie depicts Nash’s painful and harrowing journey to recovery and of self-discovery. After three decades of this debilitating illness, he eventually triumphed over this tragedy.

The conclusion of the movie is powerful and applies to all of us. Thomas King, a representative from the Nobel Prize committee, interviews Nash. Nash makes the comment, “I still see things that are not there. I just choose not to acknowledge them.”

He was finally recognized in 1994 when he received the Nobel Prize.

The Other Voices

There is only a small percentage of the population that will ever experience schizophrenia, however, most of us will hear voices in our minds. They will not be voices of grandeur but the very opposite; self-defeating voices telling us that we are losers and that we will never be successful, voices that whisper we are not as good as other people, voices that humiliate and degrade our self image, voices that scream, “You do not have the capacity to do it”, voices that will attack your best endeavors and parade your past before you. If you constantly allow these voices to dominate your minds, to saturate your thinking, you will eventually believe them. They will become self-fulfilling prophecies.

These destructive thoughts will burst onto the stage of our minds when we least expect them, probably when we are most vulnerable. We will be taken by surprise and wonder, “Where in the heck did that come from?”

At other times thoughts will sneak in unannounced and gatecrash the portals of our mind. They will bring with them issues from the past, things we thought we had forgotten about. Half of their work will be done before we realize that they are there.

In some schools of philosophy there is a belief that the mind is influenced by entities i.e., something having a real or distinct existence outside the mind. What is more important is not where these voices or thoughts come from, but to realize the power they can have.

If you allow them, they will destroy you. Negative thoughts are your enemies.

We are, after all, the sum total of our thoughts.

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When destructive thoughts enter our minds we should immediately reject and eject them. Do not invite them in. Do not allow them time to sit down or rest. Do not entertain them. Demand that they leave. Replace negative thoughts with good constructive thoughts. Say to yourself, “Not this, not this”. Sing your favorite song or recite a piece of poetry. The mind cannot concentrate on two things at once.

Our response should be the same as Nash’s. We should choose to ignore them by not even acknowledging their existence. To acknowledge them is to give them the power they do not deserve. Negative thoughts or comments should be unwelcome guests in the rooms of our minds.

As a professional speaker I speak before large groups of people, most of whom I have never met before. The value of the meeting will, in part, depend on what I have to say and how I say it. It is not unusual for professional speakers or, for that matter, anyone who has to stand before a large group of people, to experience the jitters, butterflies, or the negative thoughts that invade the mind.

These voices will try to sow doubt as to your effectiveness, and will tell you that your speech will flop. You will humiliate others and yourself. These voices are very persuasive and their whispers of fear will paralyze action. These voices will try to convince you that what they are saying is true. They will entice you to believe them. To be an effective speaker I must refuse to believe them and so should you.

The great Dutch painter Vincent Van Gogh said, “If you hear a voice within you say you cannot paint, then by all means paint and that voice will be silenced.”

And so it is with other things in life. Go out and do it and do it now. You will silence not only the voices in your own mind but also the voices of your critics.

We should make it a practice never to give these voices any time or energy.

Whenever these voices come into our mind we should simply reject them and refuse to listen to them. These voices of self-doubt should not receive any consideration.

“Are the voices still there?” Yes, but we should choose not to acknowledge them.

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