Jack’s Story – The Thirteenth Step

Jack's Story - The Thirteenth StepWho will cry for the little boy

Who will cry for the little boy who walks the burning sand.

Who will cry for the little boy who strives for hope.

Who will cry for the little boy who hold [sic] his faith in hand.

Who will cry for the little boy who puts his faith in God’s hand.

Who will cry for the little boy who tries to still his joy.

Who will cry for the little boy who’s[sic] love for life instill in him.

Who will cry for the little boy, the boy inside of me.

Who will cry for the little boy, the boy inside the man.

By Eddie C

The author understands that “The Thirteenth Step” is sometimes connected to a practice of some 12-stepers who attempt to take advantage of newer and more vulnerable people for selfish, ignoble purposes. That connotation has no part of this story.

Jack had learned a great truth today: one that he felt the need to share with others. Maybe an idea would come to him over the next few days, because this was a message that would be like sunshine after the storm for so many people who wear searching for a little light and a little peace. It was a truth filled with hope.

Jack had been involved with 12-step programs for over 20 years. He’s grown up with an alcoholic father and a mother who struggled greatly as the wife of an alcoholic. Jack’s feelings toward his father ran the gamut from anger to hate to shame to sympathy; but it had been a long time since he had felt any love and respect toward him.

Jack had first visited a 12-step program at the invitation of a close, college friend. Before that, he hadn’t known of anything that might help the family and friends of alcoholics. He quickly learned that there was nothing he could do to change his father, but there were things he could do to find peace in his own life.

Jack had always been an analytical sort. He was deeply curious about why things worked and why they didn’t work. This curiosity grew the more as he became more involved in 12-steps.

At some point, Jack’s father had started going to his own 12-step program and he seemed to be finding some limited success in managing his disease. Jack didn’t feel comfortable discussing the 12 steps with his father because it was such a personal issue.

Jack did introduce his mother to a program for family and friends. Giving her credit, she tried, but never really found personal peace. She was a private person and could never share the pain of her past with anyone else, either in a group or privately. So she drifted back to her own pain-filled world believing that nothing would ever bring her peace.

She and Jack had talked about the program; and Jack was that his mother failed to find any answers for herself.

Jack also attended an occasional “open” session for alcoholics because he wanted to see how the program worked for other people. And he continued to regularly attend his “family and friends” program.

He purchased materials from both programs including the daily readers that contained the dated short topics for meditation.

Let nothing said here be construed as criticism of 12-step programs. Jack was thoroughly convinced that there were great strengths in the programs both for the addicted and those who were near to them.

Over the years he reached several conclusions from his observations of both programs.

  • The steps contain great wisdom and when applied can be life-changing.
  • The traditions provide a focus when so many groups meld into activist or advocacy campaigns.
  • The social contact with others who understand their version of your pain can be supportive.
  • The reliance on a “higher power,” although often criticized, is necessary for any lasting change in the human psyche.

Jack’s observations also led to other conclusions:

  • Many come, most leave.
  • Many who stay continue to dwell on their pain, if the group sharing and individual stories are valid indicators.
  • Some of the encouragement can become trite. “Work the program” seems to be a catch-all response to virtually every need.
  • Some people, like his mother, are never able to share their pain publicly, yet the enthusiasm of the crowd seems to pressure them in that direction. So they leave.
  • Some groups seem to have a somewhat morbid fascination in who could share the most outrageous story.

As the years passed, Jack became even more fascinated with the people who left than with those who stayed. The standard group response of “still in denial” seemed to him to be a little hasty. The group-think was that if someone truly reached the realization that they were an alcoholic or that a family or friend was alcoholic and they needed help in dealing with it, then participation in the 12-step group was axiomatic.

Yet every year, dozens of new people came to local groups and almost as many left still searching for some relief and hope.

Jack began seeking out every newcomer at any meeting; to make them feel welcome and to encourage them to come back.

In doing that, Jack met Chuck – a grizzled septuagenarian – at one of the open meetings. Jack was struck by two things regarding Chuck: one, his simple self-introduction of “I’m Chuck, a sober alcoholic for forty-seven years;” and two, the simple, radiant joy on Chuck’s face.

Jack made sure that Chuck understood that he was himself a visitor and that his active involvement was in the “family of” program. Chuck accepted that with a simple question, “Why are  you here?”

When Jack explained his higher interest in why people left over why they came, Chuck said, “I think I’d like to buy you a cup of coffee at the diner down the street.”

Jack accepted and shortly they found themselves sitting at a table along the back wall of the diner with steaming cups of coffee between them. There were several other people from the 12-step meeting, but the table afforded enough privacy.

Chuck began to share his story with Jack.

“I’m not one who easily gets up and showcases my faults. I acknowledge them; and daily I deal with them; but I don’t like public displays of martyrdom.” He laughed, “You’ve just learned all you’re going to learn about my addiction.”

“I go to lots of meetings and I don’t consider myself a member of any single group. I take a lot of road trips to visit other meetings. I’m always looking for that one person, if any, who wants to know more about the program’s failures, not its successes. You qualified yourself when you told me of your interest in the people who left.

“I love the 12-step programs; but honest people will have to admit that the power of the program is one of mind-control. We teach people to say the slogans, meditate on the writings, call their sponsors, and above all to “work the program” which is to say, meditate, and call. I’m not saying that’s bad; those are just the facts of life in 12-step.”

“For people responsive to this form of mind control, the programs work.”

“For people too ornery, too stubborn, too educated, or too sophisticated, the program will never work. You have to be a little pliable. And my, never-to-be-documented guess is that the stubbornness group is a small percentage of those who leave for the second reason.”

“Like you, Jack, I made a habit of always meeting the new people. I got to the point that I could see the depth of pain in their eyes or the defeated slope of their shoulders and say to myself ‘That one won’t be here long.’”

“You see, 12-step programs require that you face your pain. So you ‘work the program.’ When the pain builds up, you call your chosen sponsor and he or she tells you to ‘work the program.’”

“The dated materials for both groups tell us again and again that negative thoughts will be stirred up and the solution is to ‘work the program’.”

“For many people, thinking about the hurt is too painful to face; and the easiest solution is to return to the drinking or the denial.”

Jack was curious. “Are you saying that we don’t have anything to help the people who get overwhelmed thinking about their pain?”

“That’s exactly what I’m saying, Jack. As good as our programs are, we are discouraged from using materials other than the officially endorsed books, pamphlets, and publications. So I share the Thirteenth Step for those who can’t deal with their pain with slogans, sponsors, and social contact.”

“Okay! You have definitely piqued my curiosity,” Jack pressed. “What is the Thirteenth Step?”

“It may be too simple for some people to embrace and apply to their lives. Formally stated, the Thirteenth Step says ‘I commit that whenever painful thoughts pop up in my mind, I will consistently say out loud to myself, ‘I will not think about that’. When the thought returns, say out loud again, ‘I will not think about that’.”

“If people use the Thirteenth Step consistently, they will find that the negative thinking comes less and less until it becomes insignificant to us. The fact is that we’re just built to handle negative thinking that way!”

As Chuck talked, Jack began to think of how much the Thirteenth Step could have helped his mother in her own search for peace through the “family and friends” 12-step program.

“Jack, I am living proof that the Thirteenth Step works. After I had gone to a half-dozen or so meetings, I was frustrated. Every time I started ‘working the program,’ my mind would begin to churn with all the hurts I had suffered, the hurts I had caused and the excuses I was making, you know, the typical mind clutter that all of us have, that I would get totally distracted from the program and totally involved with my negative thinking. Can you identify with that?”

He continued without waiting for my answer, “An old gentleman, a WWI vet, came up to me much like you came up to me tonight and asked if he could help me get through my negative thinking. We ended up sitting over a cup of coffee and he shared with me what he call the Thirteenth Step. That step has eased my way through this program for the past forty-seven years. It helped me so much that since then, I have shared the Thirteenth Step with people like yourself in every state in the Union and most of the Canadian provinces.”

“I asked a friend who knows something about computers to create an online course to teach the concept and provide the accountability to make the step a reality for anyone wants more personal peace. In just weeks, you can be free of most emotional pain and negative thinking. Then you can devote your peaceful thinking to solving your real life issues and living the other 12 steps.”

“I’m passing it along to you, Jack. Many old hands in 12-step groups resist ideas like this. I encourage you to keep looking for inquiring minds and share it with people who are truly seeking help. We have this tool already in each of us and all it needs is to be used. The online course shows us how to do that.

Jack and Chuck talked until the diner closed. He sensed that he would never see Chuck again; but he also sensed that Chuck had accomplished exactly what he came to town to do. He passed along the Thirteenth Step.

The end.

This fictional story introduces a principle that has been around for thousands of years. In addition to the Bible, philosophers like Confucius, Marcus Aurelius, Shakespeare, and others have written or spoken about our wonderful capacity to train ourselves not to ruminate on negative thoughts in order to minimize the effects of emotional or even physical pain in our lives..

Children as well as adults can easily understand the simple Thirteenth Step. The principles work for many negative emotions that result from almost any negative thinking.

 This concept is explained fully in an online eCourse called Finding Personal Peacehttp://findingpersonalpeace.com. The course leads you through these life principles and also covers topics like making good decisions, and dealing with serious stuff like death, illness, abuse, and addiction.

The eCourse leads one through a process of turning the habits of negative emotions into the habits of peace, freedom, and serenity.

You can read other short stories on life issues by searching the category, Short Stories, at the right. You can start with the course today and begin to find more personal peace in your life immediately.

All the best.

Copyright 2014 findingpersonalpeace.com. Birmingham, Al USA. All rights reserved.

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Jimmy’s Story – Finding Freedom Behind Bars

Jimmy’s Story – Finding Freedom Behind BarsJimmy was hustling around the kitchen of his home outside Watertown. He was getting breakfast ready while his wife, Jackie, helped Jared get dressed down the hall. Hearing Jackie leading Jared through picking his shirt, pants, and socks always brought a smile to Jimmy. He felt so incredibly blessed with Jackie and doubly so with Jared.

There could hardly be two people with more contrast in their lives than he and Jackie.

Jackie grew up in a totally loving home here in town with her parents, two sisters and a brother. They all lived in or near Watertown and all went to the same church. Jared loved to play with his five cousins: four older than him and one younger. Jared was three.

Jimmy’s Life

By contrast, Jimmy had grown up in a city across the state, on the coast. He could not remember a single time that his family – father, mother, or older brother, Buddy – ever sat down at the same table to eat together.

His father would never have even picked up a utensil or a pan in the kitchen. His MO was storming into the kitchen, slamming the door, grabbing a beer from the refrigerator, and blasting a string of curses toward Jimmy’s mother demanding to know why his supper wasn’t ready. It didn’t matter if his plate was already filled and waiting for him.

When he got through yelling, he would grab his plate, swear some more, and stalk into the den to eat in front of the TV. Woe be it to the boys if his TV tray wasn’t already set up in front of his chair.

Jimmy and Buddy would silently fill their plates and go down the hall to their room to eat. His mother usually ate standing in the kitchen.

His father would yell for another beer and then curse his mother because she was too slow in bringing it to him.

His father worked at the auto plant. His mother rarely got out of the house except to go to the market the day after payday when she would find $50 on the kitchen counter when she came down to fix breakfast for the boys. He didn’t know where his father ate breakfast but he figured he started his day at a diner near the plant over a wake-up beer with his buddies.

Buddy was six years older than Jimmy and the fact that they shared a room was about the only thing they had in common. Despite that, Jimmy absolutely worshiped his brother; and Buddy seemed to really care about his little brother.

Buddy graduated high school when Jimmy finished sixth grade; and immediately enlisted in the Army. When Jimmy asked why Buddy had to leave, Buddy sat him down on the bed, with a hand on each shoulder and said, “Jimmy, if I have to live another day looking at that son-of-b****, I swear I’ll kill him. I have to get out of here and the Army’s the best way to do it. Know what I mean?”

Jimmy understood, sort of, but he felt really alone with Buddy gone. Every day fell into a miserable routine: school, home, chores (grass cutting in summer and shoveling snow in winter) and trying to stay out of his father’s way.

Jimmy cared about his mother, but there was nothing he could do if she didn’t have the desire to do something on her own about the old man.

The bottom dropped out of Jimmy’s world when the Army men came to their door that day in Jimmy’s eighth grade. Buddy’s vehicle had run over an IED and his body came home in a box under a flag. Going to the church for the funeral mass was the first time Jimmy had been a church since he was little. His mother was faithful, but his father said it was stupid for the boys to go to church and wouldn’t let them go with her.

His contempt for his father plummeted to new lows and Jimmy counted the days to his sixteenth birthday when he could legally leave school and leave home. He knew some of Buddy’s younger friends and he moved in with two of them.

Jimmy supported himself, sort of, by making sandwiches in delis and working odd jobs. He managed to stay fairly clean and even managed to save up enough money to buy an old car to go with the driver’s license he’d gotten shortly after he was eighteen and no longer needed a guardian’s signature.

He discovered that he was a lot more popular now that he had some wheels. There were always friends who wanted rides to work and to parties.

His days were pretty predictable: Work at whatever job he had at the moment; hang with a few friends; and try like the hardest to avoid driving back to his mother’s house and beating the tar out of his miserable father. He was a very angry young man.

Yet he had some basic values and there were things he wouldn’t do, including drugs and drinking. The same couldn’t always be said for some of his friends.

Then came the day when he was pulled over on Prospect Avenue with three other guys in his car. One of the others was smarting off a little to the cop and before they knew it, the four of them were lined up being frisked and wearing handcuffs.

When the cop’s backup came, they searched Jimmy’s car and found a bag with some crack cocaine under the seat. Jimmy had no idea how it got there.

The real problem, as the district attorney explained it the next day, was that two of Jimmy’s passengers were only sixteen; all his passengers denied knowing anything about the crack; and since there were over three grams of the stuff and it was in his car, he was being charged with a class C felony of possession and with contributing to the delinquency of a minor. The possession had a sentence of up to five years and the sentence for contributing could be up to twenty years.

Nobody seemed to care that Jimmy didn’t know anything about the drugs. Before he knew what was happening, his attorney had worked out a deal with the prosecutor for Jimmy to plead guilty to the possession and spend five years in a minimum-security prison. The contributing charge would be dropped. He told Jimmy that if he went to trial he could get up to twenty years in a general prison; and no eighteen-year-old wanted to do that.

He didn’t know that his old man wouldn’t even let his mother come to see him in jail; and the next month, Jimmy was transferred to the state prison near Watertown without having seen her.

Jimmy was incredibly angry. He’d lost Buddy, his so-called friends had lied on him, and his mother didn’t care about him to be with him in court. He was totally discouraged when the prison van pulled through the gates of Watertown State Prison.

Prison Life

Jimmy was able to learn the rules and move into prison life fairly easily. He’d always had a knack for getting along with people; with the exception of his old man; but in his case the knack for avoidance.

Even though Jimmy was angry, he was smart enough to know that getting along with the system was better than trying to fight it.

Jimmy had to meet regularly with the prison psychologist and he really had problems with that. The man wanted him to talk about his childhood, about his family, and about Buddy. Every time Jimmy started talking, he would get overwhelmed with anger. So instead of opening up, he just clinched up, shut up and sat there.

They gave Jimmy a job working in the prison kitchen and paid him 15 cents an hour that he could use in the prison store once a week.

They had a GED program and Jimmy decided to use his free time to finish high school. He had two years to make up and it looked like he could do it in less time than that.

He was sitting in the commons one day watching TV when a man walked up and introduced himself as Roy who said he was visiting the prison from one of the local churches in Watertown.

Reluctant to offend, Jimmy acknowledged his greeting with a nod and continued watching TV.

Roy sat there for a few minutes, then stood, smiled, and excused himself by saying, “I’m here every week, and I’m a good listener. If I can help you in any way, I’ll be right here.”

One afternoon, Jimmy left the psychologist’s office especially worked up, and he happened to see Roy sitting alone in the commons.

“Waiting for someone?” Jimmy asked.

“Waiting for you, and from the look on your face and your clenched fists, you might need someone to vent on.”

‘You got that right,” Jimmy said as he sat down at the table.

And Roy just sat there; saying nothing.

“So what do you want me to say?” Jimmy asked.

“Say whatever you want to say; or nothing. It’s up to you.”

So Jimmy decided on nothing and just sat there.

“Tell me something,” Jimmy said after a time, “Are you like a priest where you keep whatever I say a secret?”

“Unless you tell me you’re about to commit a crime, I do,” Roy answered.

Jimmy considered that and finally started talking.” I’m about to lose it here. I can’t sleep at night. I’m barely able to work during the day. Forget the GED work. My head is so full of angry crap that it feels like the world is black and it’s closing in on me.”

Roy listened.

Jimmy talked some more and Roy kept listening.

Finally Jimmy said, “I’d like to hear your reaction. Am I crazy or what?”

Roy considered that for a minute. “No, I don’t think you’re crazy. I think you’re pretty normal for a guy who’s been through all the things you’ve described to me. But, truth be known, I don’t care that much about your past. There’s not too much we can do about that anyway. But I’m a lot more interested in where you want to go in your future.”

“I thought that I had to relive everything so I could understand and work through why I feel the way I do,” Jimmy countered.

“You can do that if it’s working,” Roy said. “So, is it working?”

“Uhhh, No! I’ve never been so frustrated in my life and it’s only getting worse. I don’t know what to do.”

“Are you asking me if I know what you should do?”

“Yeah, I guess I am. Any ideas?”

“Well, I’m a preacher, that’s like a priest, and I’m supposed to preach so I’m going to say four words from the Bible: ‘Take these thoughts captive.’”

“Okay, meaning . . .”

“Jimmy, it appears to me that you’re so overwhelmed by angry thoughts that you can’t possibly make any good decisions about the future or even about what to do right now.”

“Can I share with you three principles that I learned years ago and I’ve used over the years with a lot of people, and they always work.”

“Okay. . .”

“If you will use these principles consistently, I promise that all that blackness will go away and you’ll learn how you can really be free.”

“Free? I’m in prison, dude!”

‘Just listen, okay?”

Three Life Principles

Life Principle 1 – Whenever a thought enters your mind that makes you angry or could keep you from being the best you can be, you simply say to yourself out loud, “I will not think about that.” When the thought comes back, and it will, you say it again, “I will not think about that.”

“If you prefer, which I do, you can say “I take this thought captive.”

Roy explained that this idea had been around for thousands of years. “We simply do not have to let negative thoughts control our lives,” he said.

He explained that each time we “take a painful thought captive,” we create a little bit of peaceful space in our lives. As you take more thoughts captive, you create more peaceful space in your emotions.

“The reason this works so well is Life Principle 2.”

Life Principle 2 – When you consistently practice the first law, negative thoughts will pop up less and less often until you really don’t think about them at all.

He explained that we all have a part of our mind, called the subconscious, which has the role of helping us be happy and content. If our subconscious thinks that we are happy and content thinking about negative things and getting all worked up all the time, it will keep feeding us those negative thoughts so we can be happy.

But if our subconscious hears us saying “I take this thought captive” consistently, it concludes over time that we don’t want to think about those things and it will stop sending those negative thoughts to us. It’s like our subconscious blocks those negative thoughts automatically.

Doing this consistently replaces your habit of anger with a new habit of peace.

Life Principle 3 – Use your habit of peace to make the best decisions for you and your future. He explained that this is true freedom: the freedom to do what we need to do when we need to do it to become the best that we can be.

When we’re not spending all our time thinking about painful things, we have peace. We can use this peaceful time to think about ways to get along better with others, to do the right things, and to better ourselves for the future.

Roy said that he’s sure these principles work because he has shared them with people for over 20 years. He said they all have learned to break their habits of anger, fear, and victimhood or whatever and create new habits of peace.

Roy slipped a card out of his Bible. The card had the Three Life Principles on one side  and on the  back there were blocks for each day of the week. Every time a negative thought pops into your mind, I want you to say out loud to yourself, ‘I will not think about that’ or ‘I take this thought captive.’ If you’re someplace where it would be weird talking out loud, put your hand over your mouth like you’re covering a cough and say softly, ‘I take this thought captive.’

“Then put a check mark in the block for that day every time you dismiss one of those negative thoughts. Let’s meet again next week see you’re doing. I predict by the end of four or five weeks, you will be making very few check marks on the card because the Life Principle 2 will be taking effect in your life. The question now is, ‘Will you do this?’”

Jimmy must have looked a little skeptical because Roy suggested, ”Jimmy, I suspect that you have a negative thought right now telling you that this stupid idea will never work for you. This is a good place to start taking it captive..”

Jimmy smiled and said, “Good idea.” As he walked out of the commons, he said to himself, “I take this thought captive.”

To his amazement, over the weeks that followed, Jimmy found that he really was not thinking as much about losing Buddy or how rotten his father was or the frame job his so-called friends had done on him. He got a fresh card from Roy every week and he was putting fewer and fewer checks on the card.

He was thinking more about what he wanted to do with his life when he got out of prison. Soon, he was not thinking about his anger and resentment at all.

He and Roy had some fascinating conversations and Jimmy finally felt free to share how he really felt about life.

A year later, the GED work was wrapping up soon and Jimmy was talking with Dan, his instructor, after class one day.

“Did you know that the prison has an arrangement with Watertown Technical College where reliable inmates can check daily out and learn a trade? They call it the Extern Program. Would you like me to bring you some brochures?”

Jimmy agreed and then headed for the computer lab to learn something about Watertown Technical College on his own. As he learned about some of the courses at the college, he would go to Careerjobs.com and look at the demand for that skill both here and back on the coast, even though he didn’t really ever want to go back there.

When Dan brought the brochures, there were several interesting areas, but he was really leaning toward HVAC (heating and cooling) installation, repair, and maintenance.

Dan said he would recommend to the warden that Jimmy be considered for the Extern Program.

Long story short, two months later Jimmy began going to the college every day as an Extern taking classes in HVAC. It was a two-year program that would end just about the time of his release.

Meeting Jackie

The prison van would take Jimmy and the other externs over to the college in the morning and pick them up in late afternoon. The state paid his tuition and that included a card to buy lunches in the campus cafeteria; and that’s where he met Jackie.

Jimmy had noticed her in the cafeteria and finally worked up enough courage to go over and speak to her.

She was studying cosmetology and wanted to continue study to become an esthetician.

Because he wore regular clothes, she didn’t know that he was in the prison nearby.

He sensed that she would be open to his asking her out but he obviously couldn’t do that. He just couldn’t work up the courage to be honest with her.

He was telling Roy about her one day and was amazed to learn that Roy knew her; in fact, she and her family attended Roy’s church. Roy understood his problem and told Jimmy that he wanted to pray about what he might do, if that was okay.

They continued having lunch together and hanging out around the campus after school to study together. Jimmy would always have to make an excuse to leave in time to meet his van.

He decided that he had to be honest with Jackie. If she didn’t want to be with him, he would just have to accept that. He put Principle 1 to a lot of work the night he finally decided to tell her about being prison.

He looked her in the eye and told her how much he liked her, but he had something to tell her that would probably make her hate him.

She smiled and said, “Jimmy, are you going to tell me about being in prison?”

“Uhhhhh, yes.”

“Jimmy, this is a small town. I know every boy in town because I grew up here. When I you saw coming into campus on the van one day, I realized that’s where you are.”

“So, does that rule me out as a boyfriend?”

“Jimmy, I asked Roy to learn something about you. He said he didn’t have to learn any more because he already knew you quite well and that you were one of the finest young men he’s ever known. I decided then and there that I wanted to know you better when you became interested in me.”

Jimmy almost cried in relief. He and Jackie spent many happy months studying together and enjoying each other on campus. She introduced him to her parents on the day that they both graduated from Watertown Tech. She’d already told them his story and Roy had confirmed it to them at church.

As They Say, The Rest is History.

Jimmy poured orange juice for Jared and coffee for Jackie and himself. He pushed down the toaster lever and carried the jam and jelly to the table.

Jimmy finished the scrambled eggs and put portions from the skillet on the three plates on the table. Jackie and Jared came in as he was putting jam on Jared’s toast. Both gave Jimmy a huge hug. Over breakfast they talked about their day.

Jackie would take Jared to day care and Jimmy would pick him up and they would meet her at church that night for Wednesday night supper. Jared was excited that his class was going to the petting zoo today. He had fun naming all the animals they would see.

Jimmy was working for a local heating and air conditioning company where he had risen from repair crew to assistant manager in five years. The owner had offered to sell him half the company and let him pay it off over the next five years. By that time, the owner planned to retire and would sell Jimmy the rest of the company.

Jimmy regularly shared the Three Principles with his employees when he sensed issues where the principles might apply.

He had called his mother last Christmas and he and Jackie had taken Jared over to let him meet his grandmother. His father had died when Jimmy was in prison so the issue of reconciliation was not with his father, but just in Jimmy’s mind and he had already taken care of that.

Occasionally, Jimmy would reflect on his life and consider how free he was now that negative, painful thoughts were just vague memories that he could easily manage. He felt truly blessed!

The end.

This fictional story introduces a principle that has been around for thousands of years. In addition to the Bible, philosophers like Confucius, Marcus Aurelius, Shakespeare, and others have written or spoken about our wonderful capacity to train ourselves not to ruminate on negative thoughts and to minimize the effects of emotional or physical pain in our lives. The danger of ruminating on emotional pain is more pain, stress, depression, anxiety, emotional issues, and often worse.

Children as well as adults can easily understand these simple Life Principles. The principles work for many negative emotions that result from almost any negative thinking.

 This concept is explained fully in an online eCourse called Finding Personal Peacehttp://findingpersonalpeace.com. The course leads you through these life principles and also covers topics like making good decisions, and dealing with serious stuff like death, illness, abuse, and addiction.

The eCourse leads one through a process of turning the habits of negative emotions into the habits of peace and freedom. You can read other short stories on life issues by searching the category, Short Stories, at the right. You can start with the course today and begin to find more personal peace in your life immediately.

All the best.

Copyright 2014 findingpersonalpeace.com. Birmingham, Al USA. All rights reserved.

Jarvis’ Story – Running to Freedom; Freedom to Run

Jarvis’ Story – Running to Freedom; Freedom to RunCoach Jarvis Newcombe and the reporter walked slowly across the infield of the track. A photographer trailed them framing and snapping pictures of the young people working all around them. Some were running; others were working on the track; some were handling the equipment; and even more were serving as trainers and taping and icing sore ankles.

They had already toured the Freedom Center and  seen kids working on all sorts of developmental projects.

The news story was to help celebrate the tenth anniversary of the Freedom Track Club that Jarvis had led for ten years helping boys and girls learn and practice the skills to survive in an increasingly difficult world.

Any kid, between fifth and twelfth grade could participate as long as they remained in school and out of trouble.

The name was somewhat a misnomer because a kid didn’t have to be an athlete to be included. But more about that later.

Jarvis’ Personal Track

At age twelve, Jarvis was well on his way to serious trouble. He’d been in Family Court twice already. He mother couldn’t handle him and his father was non-existent. Jarvis was an outgoing kid who always seemed to be on the front row when trouble began and he had learned that there was some status to be had by being quick; quick to hit, quick to snatch something he wanted that didn’t belong to him; or quick to talk smack that usually led to a fight.

The family court had done a thorough workup of Jarvis, and had learned that he was also quick in another way – he was a really, really fast runner for his age group.

As he faced the judge a third time, his options were made very clear to him.

One, he could spend twelve months in Juvie for this second shoplifting charge. Or;

Two, he could agree to join a local track team that was run by Coach Maxwell Anderson.

The judge told him that it would be tough; that he would be monitored by a probation officer; and that Coach Anderson was a taskmaster who demanded total effort as well as keeping out of trouble. The reward would be staying at home and learning how to manage his life better. The downside was if he appeared in Family Court again, he only had one option left.

He looked at his mother sitting on the row behind him. The look on her face was pleading him to take the second option.

Coach Anderson

His first session with Coach Anderson was something he had never forgotten; not because it was awful, but rather because for the first time in his life, he felt an adult treating him with respect and expectations.

On the wall behind Coach Anderson’s table was a banner, “Freedom to Run; Run to Freedom.” On the banner he saw the names and signatures of dozens people.

Coach Anderson explained that Jarvis was looking at the name of every person who had successfully finished this program.

There were four requirements for successfully finishing the program.

One – he had to stay in school and make C’s or better.

Two – he had to stay out of trouble with the law.

Three – he had to treat other people with respect

Four – he had to agree to practice the three Principles of Freedom as long as he was in the program.

Coach Anderson explained the requirements.

Staying in school with a C average or better meant that he had to make a decision every day to do the work he needed to do that day to do well in school. He couldn’t play around in school and expect to succeed in the track club or in life. He also had to recognize when he needed help in school and ask one of the volunteer tutors to help him. Coach Anderson said, “Jarvis, nobody can read your mind. You have to make the decisions that will help you do well in school.”

Staying out of trouble with the law sounded obvious. Coach Anderson explained that staying out of trouble came from making good decisions every day. He would make a choice who he wanted to hang with. He would make a choice where to hang. He would make a choice whether to stop or to keep walking. As long as he made the right choices, he would most likely stay out of trouble.

Treating other people with respect flew in the face of typical neighbor behavior, where smack-talking and trash-mouthing others were the norm. “Jarvis, you will be treated with respect here; and you must treat others with the same respect. You must be man enough to apologize when you disrespect someone else; and you must be man enough to choose to walk away when somebody disrespects you.”

A look crossed Jarvis’ face that told Coach Anderson he had struck a nerve. “Jarvis, can you tell me what you’re thinking right now?”

“What you’re saying ain’t easy. There’s people out there who will push me around and then beat me up if I don’t fight back.”

“What I’m saying is not easy, Jarvis.”

“And I agree with you. I lived on those same streets as you. I know where you’re coming from. But let me see if I can explain the difference.”

“There are different laws in effect today and we choose the laws we want to live by.” Seeing the puzzled look on Jarvis’ face, he continued.

“On the streets, lots of people live under the law of victimhood. They accept the premise that they are victims of their circumstances and that there’s nothing they can do about it. So they do whatever necessary to be as invisible as possible so as to avoid trouble.”

“This is a bad law.”

“Then there is the law of control. Those people measure their worth by the number of people under their control. Their goal is power. These are the people who will beat you up if you don’t play the victim and beat you up if you stand up to them. When you think about it, the people who want to control others are victims in that they can’t do what they need to do to prosper under a higher law. And they can’t have power by themselves. They have to be part of a gang to give them any strength at all. Without their gang, they don’t have any power.”

“This is a bad law.”

“The common laws are established by the people through their government and are enforced by the prosecutors and the police. Part of respecting yourself is choosing to live under this law when other people are trying to force you to live as a victim.”

“This is a good law.”

“The last is the Higher Law that is superior to everything else. This law is characterized by the premise, ‘Do to other people like you would have them to do to you.’ It also says that you should love and respect other people the same as you love and respect yourself.”

“Part of loving and respecting yourself is being willing to say “No” when you’re tempted or threatened to fall under another law.”

“This is the best law.”

“The beauty of this law is that the Giver of the Higher Law does not ask us to do something that we’re not capable of doing. He gives us tools and created us in such a way that we can live by the Higher Law; and this gives us freedom.”

“Lastly, let me share with you the Three Principles of Freedom.”

“Jarvis, I’m guessing that you are like most of the young men living in this neighborhood in that you have a lot of angry thoughts rolling around in your head. Is that right?”

Jarvis thought about that and finally nodded his head.

“I lived with that too, Jarvis, for many years. Then I learned these Principles of Freedom.

Three Principles of Freedom.

Principle of Freedom 1 – Whenever a thought enters your mind that will cause you pain, tempts you to do wrong, or keep you from being the best you can be, you say to yourself out loud, “I will not think about that.” When the thought comes back, and it will, you say it again, “I will not think about that.”

Coach Anderson explained that this idea had been around for thousands of years and it’s even mentioned in the Bible. “We simply do not have to let negative thoughts control our lives,” he said.

He explained that we can get so distracted by negative thinking that we sometimes aren’t able to do the things what we’re perfectly capable of doing like doing well in school or staying out of trouble.

“The reason this works so well is Principle of Freedom 2.”

Principle of Freedom 2 – When you consistently practice the first law, negative thoughts will pop up less and less often until you really don’t think about them at all.

He explained that we all have a part of our mind, called the subconscious, which has the role of helping us be happy and content. If our subconscious thinks that we are happy thinking about negative things and getting all worked up all the time, it will keep feeding us those negative thoughts so we can be happy.

But if our subconscious hears us saying “I will not think about that” consistently, it will learn over time that we don’t want to think about those things and it will stop sending those negative thoughts or temptations to us. It’s like our subconscious blocks those negative thoughts and temptations automatically.

This principle gradually replaces our habits of anger or whatever with a new habit of peace.

Principle of Freedom 3 – Use your habits of peace to make the best decisions for you and your future. He explained that this is true freedom: the freedom to do what we need to do when we need to do it to become the best that we can be.

When we’re not spending all our time thinking about negative things, we have peace. We can use this peaceful time to think about ways to get along better with others, to do the right things, and to better ourselves for the future.

Coach Anderson said that he’s sure these principles work because he has shared them with all the members of his track team for over 30 years. He said they all have learned to break their habits of anger, fear, and victimhood and create the habits of peace and freedom.

“And those men who learned how to be free are the names you see written on this banner,” he said pointing back with his thumb. “I expect your name to be added to that banner in just a few years.”

He asked Russell if the laws made sense to him. When James responded with a “yes,” Coach Anderson continued.

“Here’s what I want you to do. Every week, pick up a card from that rack by the door there. Keep it in your backpack. There’s a place for your name and there are blocks on the card for each day of the week. Every time a negative thought pops into your mind, I want you to say out loud to yourself, ‘I will not think about that.’ If you’re in class or someplace where talking out loud would be inappropriate, put your hand over your mouth like you’re covering a cough and say softly, ‘I will not think about that.’”

“Then put a check card in the block for that day every time you dismiss one of those negative thoughts. Bring the card back with you next week and put it in the other rack by the door. Then get a fresh card. I predict by the end of four or five weeks, you will be making very few check marks on the card because Freedom Principle 2 will be taking effect in your life. The question now is, ‘Will you do this?’”

Jarvis must have looked a little skeptical because Coach Anderson suggested, ”Jarvis, I suspect that you have a negative thought right now telling you that this idea will never work for you. This is a good place to start.”

Jarvis smiled and said, “Yes, sir.” As he picked up the card and walked out of the office, he said to himself, “I will not think about this.”

Over the weeks that followed, Jarvis found that he really was not thinking as much about the negative things and he was thinking more about what he wanted to do with his life. Soon, he was not thinking about the anger and resentment at all.

Every day, he walked with two other boys from his school to the building where the track team met. In the first hour, they had to do their homework with Coach Anderson and some volunteers serving as tutors.

Three days a week, they worked out on the track. Coach Anderson was really good with running techniques and Jarvis’ speed was increasing every month when they did time trials.

Two days a week, they worked indoors learning about nutrition, hydration, and exercises they could use for strength and flexibility. They also learned study skills, how to speak in front of people, and neighborhood survival skills. The older boys learned how to write resumes, apply for a job, and do well in an interview.

On Saturdays, they had their meets with other community, club, and sometimes school teams from the area. There were always big crowds at the meets; and Jarvis soon noticed that some of the crowd had clipboards and stopwatches. Coach Anderson said these were college and university track coaches that he invited to the meets.

Jarvis was devastated when his grandmother died in her sleep during his ninth-grade year. Coach Anderson went to her service, and later found an opportunity to talk to Jarvis.

“Jarvis, the Principles of Freedom also work for grieving. It’s perfectly normal to be very sad when you lose someone you love.”

“So grieve. Be sad. But when the grief thoughts start to distract you from the things you need to do in your life, you can use Principle of Freedom 1 to keep that from becoming a habit of grief.”

By junior year, Jarvis consistently had an A-B average in school. He was also winning most of his meets running in the 400, 1000, 1500, and 2000 meter events. College coaches were coming to his home to talk with Jarvis and his mother about running for their schools.

Jarvis was also helping Coach Anderson work with some of the younger runners in the club.

He was also developing a plan for the future, but it was too soon to go public with that now.

Jarvis will never forget the day that he graduated high school, signed a grant-in-aid scholarship to run for the university; and most importantly went with a small group of special people, including his mother, to Coach Anderson’s office.

Coach made a little ceremony; the minister of his church said a prayer; and Jarvis signed the banner. He had never been so moved in his life. He actually did cry a little bit.

Jarvis ran track in college and eventually earned All-American honors. He ran in the Olympic trials but didn’t make the cut. He saw that as a blessing when he considered his ultimate plan.

Jarvis had majored in Business with a minor in Community Development. He went to work with a major state-wide utility headquartered in his city.

He could finally share his plan with Coach Anderson because his plan totally depended on receiving Coach Anderson’s blessing.

Over the years, Coach Anderson had spoken several times about retiring. He was over 70 years old and he just didn’t have the energy to head the track program much longer.

Jarvis’ Plan

Jarvis had Coach Anderson over to lunch in their corporate dining room. When they finished lunch, Jarvis asked him if he was still considering stepping down. When Coach Anderson told him he was, Jarvis asked for permission to show him something.

Jarvis opened his laptop and quietly went through a PowerPoint presentation about what he called the Freedom Track Club. He’d chosen that name because that was what Coach had given him: freedom to be the man that he wanted to be.

He envisioned a club that welcomed all kids from fifth grade to twelfth grade who agreed to he same requirements that Coach Anderson had required.

He pointed out that some really great kids would never be runners; but there was a place for them. There were all sorts of life skills they could learn on their own personal track to Freedom.

He had located a closed school that could be converted to the Freedom Track Center. The school board would lease the property to the track club for $1 a year in exchange for them maintaining the property. There was a run-down track on the property that could be restored.

The Three Principles of Freedom would always be the centerpiece of the program.

Jarvis’ company had agreed to keep him on full-time pay but he could spend half his time working as a Community Liaison. They would let him transition in to full-time liaison as the track club grew.

Jarvis outlined a plan for volunteers to continue tutoring and athletic training; and he wanted to add volunteers to teach health training, track maintenance, grounds maintenance, nutrition, social skills, and more to the kids.

There weren’t going to be any athletic stars. All the kids would be involved in all the growth and development programs they offered.

Jarvis would do the fundraising accompanied whenever possible by older kids to help with the presentations. This would be their training for participating in the world of business and industry.

They would have a club website maintained by the kids.

All Jarvis needed was Coach Anderson’s agreement to stay on the board as Coach Emeritus and his blessing to the plan.

Coach Anderson was thrilled to see his dream expand into new generations. He didn’t notice Jarvis nod discretely to a man across the room.

Jarvis stood as two men, the President and VP of Community Affairs of his company, approached their table. He introduced them to Coach Anderson as the Coach Emeritus of the Freedom Track Club.

They obviously were well aware of Jarvis’s vision and they sat down and committed the power of their offices to raise funds and bring the vision into reality.

As they talked, Jarvis reflected on the twelve-year-old boy who had stood before the judge so many years ago. He was excited and deeply grateful for the opportunity to affect hundreds of lives over the years ahead just like the Principles of Freedom and the Higher Power had changed his life.

The end.

This fictional story introduces a principle that has been around for thousands of years. In addition to the Bible, philosophers like Confucius, Marcus Aurelius, Shakespeare, and others have written or spoken about our wonderful capacity to train ourselves not to ruminate on negative thoughts and to minimize the effects of emotional or physical pain in our lives. The danger of ruminating on emotional pain is, in addition to more pain, stress, depression, anxiety, emotional issues, and worse.

Children can easily understand the simple principles of the Three Principles of Freedom. The principles work for many negative emotions that result from almost any negative thinking.

 This concept is explained fully in an online eCourse called Finding Personal Peacehttp://findingpersonalpeace.com. The course leads you through these life laws and also covers topics like making good decisions, and dealing with serious stuff like death, illness, abuse, and addiction.

The eCourse leads one through a process of turning tje habits of negative emotions into the habits of peace and success. You can read other short stories on life issues by searching the category, Short Stories, at the right.

Copyright 2014 findingpersonalpeace.com. Birmingham, Al USA. All rights reserved.

James’ Story – Living Life as a Loser

James’ Story – Living Life as a Loser

“No Way!” James almost shouted at his best friend, Robert. The boys, both eleven, had been friends since pre-school. They were walking home from school and Robert had made a ridiculous suggestion that they should join the Boy Scouts.

“Scouts are just losers and dorks,” James continued. “Besides, they would never accept us. We don’t know anybody in Scouts!”

James had always felt like a loser. Well, not always. Just since his mother had married that guy. James never knew his dad who had died when James was a baby. For three years it had been just James and his mom. Then she married again, and James’ life had taken a turn for the worse.

The guy never physically abused James. He just never accepted or approved anything James did.

If James built a stack of blocks, the guy would get up to get a beer and kick the blocks as he walked by.

Whatever James was watching on TV, the guy would always change the channel telling James he was watching crap.

James couldn’t sit right (quit squirming), eat right (don’t eat so fast; or don’t mess around with your food), play right (you throw like a girl), or sleep right (don’t wet the bed, even though James never did).

He either ignored or ridiculed James’ good school work and simply ignored the rest.

Whenever Mom would pull James into her lap and cuddle with him, the guy would tell her to stop wasting her time on that loser and then stomp out of the room. Mom would sadly slide James out of her lap and follow the guy.

James felt like everything he did was going to be criticized or put down. He did his school work and prayed when he turned it in that Teacher would not call on him to read his report or even to answer a question.

He didn’t like sports because there were too many opportunities to screw up. He and Robert played ball, skated, and shot baskets together, but James wouldn’t put himself at risk in front of anyone else.

So James truly believed himself a loser and then later when he and Robert began playing video games, he decided he had become a nerd, too.

James and Robert were great friends and spent all their free time together. Robert was only a little less a loser than James, in James’ opinion, but that was okay. They were comfortable doing things together and could talk freely.

Robert once had asked James why he felt he was a loser. James had thought about that a lot. The only thing he could figure out was that when he started to do something, anything, he would think about that guy putting him down. Even just lying in bed thinking about doing something new would flood his mind with the times the guy would belittle him or his mother would give in to the guy. His thoughts always told him he was an incompetent loser.

Even though his mother had divorced the guy when James was eight, even now, three years later, he could still hear the guy calling him a loser.

Now that he had a friend in Robert who accepted him, James was sort of content. Things weren’t great, but they weren’t awful either.

Then Robert had started talking about the Scouts. It sounded interesting to do the things Scouts do, but James knew that it was just a matter of time before they noticed what a loser he was and he’d have to sit on the log in the dark farthest from the campfire.

Today Robert had said they should go to the meeting in the church basement tonight and James had called them all losers and dorks.

Robert laughed. “Then it’s a perfect fit. You say you’re a loser and a dork; and you say they are losers and dorks. Couldn’t be better! I’ll come by your house at 6:30 and we’ll walk to the church.”

Robert’s only fault that bugged James sometimes was that he could so easily turn James’ words into a logical argument against him. James shrugged and gave in, even though he certainly wasn’t excited at the prospect.

Robert had somehow come up with two application forms and he gave one to James to have his mother complete. She gave him a check for the enrollment fee and the Scout Handbook like it said in the application.

At 6:30, Robert showed up and they strolled over to the meeting.

It wasn’t too bad. James and Robert knew a few of the boys from school. There were two other new kids. They didn’t know the older boys and some of the scouts were home-school boys from around town who they didn’t know. The adults made all the new boys feel welcome and most of the kids introduced themselves.

One of the older boys gave a presentation about an upcoming camp-out and then they broke up into small groups to work on rank, whatever that meant. James and Robert and a few other boys were in a group called Basic Scouts led by a fourteen year-old named Michel.

Michael gave them new Scout Handbooks and they looked at the section for earning the first rank of Scout. It involved mostly memorizing and reciting stuff like the Scout Law and the Scout Oath and James decided he could do that. Maybe he could even recite it in a small group like this.

James and Robert decided as they walked home to work on the Law and Oath and recite it next week at the meeting.

Over several weeks, they enjoyed the meetings and James was able to pass his Scout requirements including one overnight campout. And they started working on Tenderfoot in a class led by Garth, a freshman in high school. There were five boys working on Tenderfoot.

The biggest requirement was a camp-out that was scheduled for a weekend next month. At the campout they would learn all sorts of things like map reading, how to build a campfire, and how to sharpen and handle a knife and hatchet. They would learn the first aid stuff and other stuff in scout meetings.

James started getting nervous. Garth picked up on it and asked him about it after the meeting. James told him that he didn’t usually do well on new stuff and he was afraid he would make a mistake. Garth assured him he wouldn’t let James to that.

The next week, Scoutmaster Jenkins came over and watched the tenderfoot group work. When they finished the practice splints, Mr. Jenkins asked James if he had a minute for a Scoutmaster conference. James didn’t know what this was, but he agreed and they went over to the table where the Assistant Scoutmaster was sitting.

Mr. Jenkins asked James how things were going so far and James responded with the right answers, he hoped. He must have been doing okay because the conversation kept going with both men asking questions about the activities and with James responding.

This was new for him. He wasn’t used to people other than teachers showing him this kind of respect. Then Mr. Jenkins asked James to describe himself as he thought other people saw him.

After a pause, James slowly replied, “I think that most people think I’m a nerd; maybe even a loser. I don’t do things very well and I make a lot of mistakes.”

When James didn’t say anything else, Mr. Jenkins responded, “James, here at scouts, we have not formed that opinion of you at all. I talked with Garth and Michael and they both tell me that you are very capable and that your work is as good as any other new scout.”

“James,” he continued, “I don’t want to know your story because that’s personal with you; but I suspect that when you do new things or when you’re around new people, you start thinking about what a loser you are and how you’re going to mess up. Is that about right?”

Sort of surprised about how Mr. Jenkins knew that, James acknowledged, “Yes, sir.”

“James, you did very well with the Scout Law. Can I share with you three more laws that aren’t in the Scout Handbook? I call them ‘Life Laws’.”

“Yes, sir”

Three Life Laws

Life Law 1 – Whenever a thought enters your mind that will cause you pain or keep you from being the best you can be, you say to yourself out loud, “I will not think about that.” When the thought comes back, and it will, you say it again, “I will not think about that.”

Mr. Jenkins explained that this idea had been around for thousands of years and it’s even mentioned in the Bible. “We simply do not have to let negative thoughts control our lives,” he said.

He explained that we can get so distracted by negative thinking that we sometimes aren’t able to do the things what we’re perfectly capable of doing.

“The reason this works so well is Life Law 2.”

Life Law 2 – When you consistently practice the first law, negative thoughts will come to you less and less frequently until you really don’t think about them at all.

He explained that we all have a part of our mind, called the subconscious, which has the role of helping us be happy and content. If our subconscious thinks that we are happy thinking about negative things and getting all worked up all the time, it will keep feeding us those negative thoughts so we can be happy.

But if our subconscious hears us saying “I will not think about that,” consistently, it will learn over time that we don’t really want to think about those things and it will stop sending those negative thoughts to us. It’s like our subconscious blocks those negative thoughts and temptations automatically.

Mr. Jenkins said that he’s sure this works because he has shared the Three Life Laws with his own family and employees and with dozens of scouts; and it works every time. He said they all have learned to break the habit of negative thinking and create the habit of peace.

Life Law 3 – Use your habit of peace to make the best decisions for you and your family.

When we’re not spending all our time thinking about negative things, we have peace. We can use this peaceful time to think about ways to get along better with others, to do the right things, and to better ourselves for the future.

He asked James if the laws made sense to him. When James responded with a “yes,” Mr. Jenkins continued.

“Here’s what I want you to do. Put this index card in your Scout Handbook. Notice that I have put blocks for each day of the week. Every time you discover a negative thought has popped into your mind, I want you to say out loud to yourself, ‘I will not think about that.’ If you’re in class or church or someplace where talking would be inappropriate, put your hand over your mouth like you’re yawning and say softly, ‘I will not think about that.’

“Then put a check mark on the card in the block for that day every time you dismiss one of those negative thoughts. Bring the card back with you next week. Will you do this?”

James probably looked a little doubtful. Mr. Jenkins suggested, ”James, I suspect that you have a negative thought right now telling you that this idea will never work for you. This is a good place to start.”

James smiled and said, “Yes, sir.” As he walked back to his group, he said to himself, “I will not think about this.”

Garth brought him up to date on the camp-trip planning. “James, you have the assignment of helping plan a menu and a budget for making macaroni and cheese for 30 people. Work with your mother and use any resources you have to bring that back to our meeting next week.”

On the way home, Robert was going on about his assignment which was working on a plan to break down the campsite and making sure that everything was back as close to nature as it could be.

Then he asked James about his meeting with Mr. Jenkins. James told him about the Three Life Laws and his assignment for the week. He made Robert promise not to laugh if he heard James saying to himself, “I will not think about that.” Robert promised.

Over the week, he noticed something interesting about his card. The first day he just about filled up the space for check marks meaning he had dismissed a bunch of negative thoughts. The next day, there was two less. He thought back through his day and decided that he hadn’t forgotten anything.

Each day the number of checks was one or two less than the day before. When he gave the card back to Mr. Jenkins at the next scout meeting, Mr. Jenkins smiled and said, “That’s exactly what I expected you to show me.” He then gave James a fresh card and suggested that he keep on applying Life Law 1.

Garth was pleased with his planning for the mac and cheese and he assigned both James and Robert to be on the shopping team to buy the provisions.

The next week, Mr. Jenkins noted his continued progress and told James that Life Law 2 was beginning to work for him; his subconscious was actually giving him fewer and fewer negative thoughts. The card was the evidence.

He began to apply Life Law 1 to other things; like, dreading handing in an assignment, an occasional thought about the guy his mother had married, or worrying that he was going to do something dorky in PE at school.

James and Robert had a great time sharing a tent on the camping trip. The scouts loved his macaroni and cheese. The older scouts led the advancement tasks and all of them congratulated both boys when they passed all their remaining Tenderfoot requirements.

School was more fun and James even surprised himself by suggesting that he and Robert go out for Little League.

James was so excited about the Three Life Laws, he taught him to Robert to use with a couple of issues he had talked about.

James and Robert earned two merit badges that spring and planned to earn more at summer camp. Even though he wasn’t even Second Class yet, James already had a plan for earning his Eagle rank by ninth grade.

As James and Robert walked home from baseball one day, Robert chided him; “James, you know what? You’re not a loser any more; or a dork either.”

James laughed and replied, “I’ll never feel what way again. I know now what to do when of any negative thought pops into my mind.”

He went on, “I don’t know what I’m going to be, but I know I’m going to do something where I can share the Three Life Laws with all the little losers and dorks I can find.”

“Great plan,” Robert said as they high-fived. They laughed and talked about summer camp the rest of the way home.

The end.

This fictional story introduces a principle that has been around for thousands of years. In addition to the Bible, philosophers like Confucius, Marcus Aurelius, Shakespeare, and others have written or spoken about our wonderful capacity to train ourselves not to ruminate on negative thoughts and to minimize the effects of emotional or physical pain in our lives. The danger of ruminating on emotional pain is, in addition to more pain, stress, depression, anxiety, emotional issues, and worse.

Children can easily understand the simple principles of the Three Life Laws. The laws work for many negative emotions that result from almost any negative thinking.

Although the author was a volunteer scout leader in years past, this story in no way claims to be representative of official BSA policy or programs.

 This concept is explained fully in an online eCourse called Finding Personal Peacehttp://findingpersonalpeace.com. The course leads you through these life laws and also covers topics like making good decisions, and dealing with serious stuff like death, illness, abuse, and addiction.

The eCourse leads one through a process of turning a habit of being a loser into a habit of success. You can read other short stories on life issues by searching the category, Short Stories, at the right.

Copyright 2014 findingpersonalpeace.com. Birmingham, Al USA. All rights reserved.

Question: If you could change something in your life . . .

Poll: If you could change something in your life . . .A friend challenged me recently. His challenge seemed to directly affect what I’m trying to do with this blog; that is, help people find personal peace in the face of often increasing negative issues in their lives.

He challenged me that I could not offer meaningful help to someone unless I first knew what help they wanted. He used an example of his own experience: that of beginning a project that he had fully developed and was ready to launch to discover only lukewarm, yet cordial, support from the people he wanted to help.

It finally occurred that he was living in the glory of his plan rather than the urgency of their needs.

So, thusly challenged, I propose this poll to you. I write a lot about dealing with emotional issues. My writing would be more effective if I were writing about issues that are important to you and other readers.

Please complete this little one-question poll. You’ll be telling me what is important to you. And you get to see how your important issues stack up beside the important issues of others. Please come back later as the responses grow. And feel free to share this poll with others.

All the best,

Poll: If you could change something in your life . . .

Rod Peeks

Thanks for reading our blog today. I invite you to respond in several ways: (1) Comment in the space below if you agree or disagree with what I’ve said. A dialogue could be interesting for all; (2) Share the post with your friends using the buttons below; and (3) sign up to get an email with each new post. There’s a place to do that on the right. Then you won’t have to remember to look for our subsequent posts. Thanks again!

P.S. We’ve written several short stories with some good life lessons. You can check them out by searching by the category, Short Stories, at the right. My son told me that Ben’s Story gave him something think about in his life. Thanks.

What Do You See?

What Do You See?Two people can be together, at the same time, at the same place, and see two totally different worlds. Let’s think about that.

Do you know people who always see a bright hopeful world? On the other hand, do you know people who consistently see a world of failure and despair?

What’s the difference?

Picture two people standing together looking at and dealing with the same world going on around them. A difficult situation has presented itself to both at the same time.

One has a smile and is thinking of all the good things that are going to happen today; or she is clearly recognizing the issue and considering the ways she can deal with the issue and get beyond it. She sees a solution around every bend in the road.

The other is downcast and completely overcome by the issue as he sees it. There’s no hope. There’s no future. He might as well go back to bed or get a strong drink or something else to mask his painful prospects. He sees failure like a prison wall. There’s no way out of the sadness.

The former has developed the habit of hope. She knows that any problem can be solved. She believes that she already solved this problem and it’s just a matter of uncovering the solution. Her habit lets her approach every issue in life as just a bump in the road; certainly not a barrier..

The latter wallows in the habit of despair. He is convinced that the world is going to dump on him again just like it has so many times before. His habit is dwelling on all the negative things that have happened or that might happen. He may be caught up in reliving anger; or fear, or embarrassment, or guilt and shame; or victimhood.

His negative thinking completely blocks everything from his mind. He couldn’t see hope even if it were standing there right in front of him.

The irony of his pain is that it’s not usually happening right now. He’s ruminating on the pain of something that happened in the past; sometimes many years in the past.

He can’t get beyond the pain because he keeps recreating it by dwelling on it again and again.

It’s entirely possible that what he thinking about actually did happen. But chances are it’s not actually happening again today. But he’s thinking about it and feeling the pain just as if it were happening all over again.

What do You See?Dr. Ben Carson is a world-renowned pediatric neurosurgeon who grew up in the poverty of Detroit, Michigan. He gives his mother credit for his success. What would have happened if his mother had seen only the despair of the Detroit slums instead of the hope that an education offered her sons. Click here to learn more about Dr. Carson.

What do You See?Helen Keller, at age seven, was a wild, undisciplined child who lived in a dark, silent world brought on by an illness as an infant. What would have happened if Anne Sullivan had not had the vision of hope that gave her patience to teach Keller how to communicate and to learn? What would the world have lost without Anne Sullivan’s hope? Learn more.

What do You See?For three years, Anne Frank kept a diary of life as she saw it while hidden in an Amsterdam attic with her Jewish family. She saw hope in the middle of despair and death and shared with the world.

More about Anne Frank

What do You See?

What would have happened to America if the millions and millions of immigrants had given in to the fear of the unknown and just hunkered down where they were, imprisoned by despair? Much of the richness, color, and texture of American society would have never been enjoyed. More on Ellis Island.

Given a few minutes, you could make quite a list of people past and present who have risen above circumstances because they could see hope.

In the same few minutes, you can probably make a list of people who never quite made it because they couldn’t see beyond their failure and faults.

Negative thinking has the capacity to make us blind to hope; to success; to peace;

People of faith often use a technique of counting their blessings to overcome times of difficulty. Counting blessings can become a habit that slams the door on negative thinking.

People of faith can also overcome circumstances by singing or speaking praise to their God. That too becomes a habit leading to peace and purpose.

But what if you’re not a person of faith?

All of us are made with a capacity to choose what we let ourselves think about. If a negative thought of a past hurt or shame pushes into our mind, we can simply and effectively dismiss that thought by saying something like, “I take that thought captive;” or “I will not think about that.” Do that and the thought always goes away.

It will probably come back and you can dismiss it again; and again; and again.

Dismiss it consistently and a part of your mind learns that you don’t want to think that thought and your mind dismisses it automatically.

When your mind is free of the thoughts that blind you, even for a few minutes, you have time to rationally consider your circumstances and make decisions that will lead you to a life of peace and hope.

Someone just thought, “That’s too simple. It won’t work for me.”

I suggest that you should immediately dismiss that thought and enjoy a moment of peace. Dismiss it again and enjoy a minute of peace.

Develop the habit of peace; it’s part of your nature if you let yourself see it.

These thoughts were prompted after reading a piece in The Upper Room by Sue McCoulough of Great Britain. http://devotional.upperroom.org/devotionals/2014-01-02.

Resources you can use.

The author has developed an online course, Finding Personal Peace, that simply and effectively shows you how to develop a habit of peace and then how to apply what you’ve learned to making better life choices and in dealing with pesky life habits.

You can learn more about and enroll in this free course at http://findingpersonalpeace.com.

What do you see? If you see hope and victory, that’s great. If you see despair and failure, that doesn’t have to be your future. Find and enjoy peace starting today.

I hope Finding Personal Peace helps you with your sadness as much as it helped me with my anger.

What do You See?

Rod Peeks

Thanks for reading our blog today. I invite you to respond in several ways: (1) Comment in the space below if you agree or disagree with what I’ve said. A dialogue could be interesting for all; (2) Share the post with your friends using the buttons below; and (3) sign up to get an email with each new post. There’s a place to do that on the right. Then you won’t have to remember to look for our subsequent posts. Thanks again!

P.S. We’ve written several short stories with some good life lessons. You can check them out by searching by category at the right. My son told me that Ben’s Story gave him something think about in his life. Thanks.

Blog Carnival – Finding Personal Peace for December 15, 2013

Blog Carnival – Finding Personal Peace for December 15, 2013Welcome to the December 15, 2013 edition of Blog Carnival –  Finding Personal Peace containing 10 interesting articles on a variety of topics.

Thanks for visiting our Blog Carnival, Finding Personal Peace. Please review the subjects below and make note of any that interest you. At the bottom of the page, you will find a link that takes you to more information about each post. If you find a post you like, please make a comment to encourage them or even engage in a discussion with them.

anger

  • Lidiya presents A Minimalist Step-by-step Guide to Reacting in Tough Situations

depression

  • Adam Pasztor presents The Miracle Forest: How To Take Control Of Your Life

emotional issues

  • Jana presents The Pitfalls To Participating in A Pity-Party
  • Diane Mottl, MSW presents Be a Flicker of Light During the Holidays (Mental Health) | Being Truly Present
  • Lidiya presents Embrace Insecurity and Live the Life You Deserve
  • Lidiya presents Experience the Thrill of Becoming Emotionally Independent

relationships

  • emilynolin presents The Courage To Piss People Off
  • emilynolin presents The Paradox Of Attraction
  • Socratez presents Socratez Online – Expand Your Mind

social anxiety

To view the articles, Click here or click on Blog Carnival in the tabs at the top. You’ll want to check out these articles and share them in your circle of influence. We’ll be receiving submitted articles and posting them each week. Please share with your friends. Thanks.