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Promise Yourself…

“Promise yourself to today to think only of the best, to work only for the best and to expect only the best.” ~Christian D. Larson

Christian D. Larson penned these inspiring words in 1912. They appeared in his book ‘Your Forces and How to Use Them‘ (now in the public domain) and form part of what has become known as the Optimist Creed, adopted by Optimist clubs worldwide. These beautiful words have been inspiring me for years and I hope they touch your life, too.

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What Dreams Will Die with You?

Dr. Howard Thurman

A few weeks ago, I was driving home from work and listening on my iPhone, to a speech by the dynamic and inspiring, Les Brown. During this speech, I was captivated by a quote which he credited to Dr. Howard Thurman. Dr. Thurman was a remarkable man: an author, civil rights leader, educator, philosopher,  scholar, theologian and mystic. Some say, that if there had not been a Howard Thurman, there would not have been a Martin Luther King Jr as we know him.

Howard Thurman was born in segregated Florida in 1899, and raised by his once enslaved grandmother. He rose from his upbringing in the “dirty south” to graduate from Morehouse College as valedictorian in 1923. He quickly went on to further his theological studies, and was ordained as a minister in 1925. Howard Thurman then pastored a Baptist Church and received the prestigious joint appointment as Professor of Religion and Director of Religious Life at Morehouse and Spelman colleges in Atlanta, Georgia. He then went on to pursue a Doctorate in Philosophy, and became the first black Dean at Boston University and then the first Dean of Rankin Chapel at Howard University in the District of Columbia.

Throughout his career, Dr. Howard Thurman lead Christian missions and traveled widely. In 1936, he led a “Negro Delegation of Friendship” to South Asia. There he conferred with the the pre-eminent Indian leader, Mohandas Gandhi. Thurman said that in his meeting with Gandhi, the Mahatma regretted not having made nonviolence more visible worldwide. Gandhi further expressed his wish that the message of non-violence be sent to the world by African-Americans, and suggested some black man would succeed in making this mandate more widely known.

Thurman, Gandhi and King

Howard Thurman’s ideological vision was forever broadened by his meeting with Gandhi. In 1944, he founded the first racially integrated, intercultural church in the United States. His 1949 book, ‘Jesus and the Disinherited’, presents the basic goal of Jesus’ life as helping the oppressed to change from within, to be empowered to surmount persecution by being rooted in a “deep river of faith”. This seminal work, laid the principle foundations for the nonviolent civil rights movement. According to Thurman, the emotions of deception and hatred isolate blacks and whites causing them to only see each other in stereotypes and prohibiting a peaceful end to racial bigotry.

Dr. Thurman had a profound spiritual impact on Martin Luther King Jr. A former classmate of Dr. King’s father, Thurman was a mentor to King Jr., and often met with him, while he was at a student at Boston University. Dr. King was later known to carry Howard Thurman’s book with him at civil rights rallies, reading quietly in the moments before they began. Dr. Walter Fluker said of Thurman’s influence: “leaders like King do not arise out of a historical vacuüm. There are movements and there are personalities who actually sow the seeds. Thurman is one of those persons who sowed the seed.”

Thurman wrote hundreds of sermons and articles and over 20 books about the link between spiritual renewal and social change. He was passionate about the unity of all creation, the building of community and the search for common ground. Ebony magazine called Thurman one of the 50 most important figures in African-American history, and in 1953 Life Magazine lauded him as one of the twelve most important religious leaders in the United States.

And now here’s the quote:

The ideal situation for a man or woman to die is to have family members standing with them as they cross over. But imagine, if you will, being on your death-bed, and standing around your bed are the ghosts of the ideas, the abilities, the talents, the gifts, the dreams given to you by life. That you, for whatever reason, never pursued those dreams. You never did anything with those ideas. You never used those talents. You never used those gifts. You never took advantage of those opportunities. And there they are, standing around your bed, looking at you before you take your last dying breath, looking at you with angry eyes saying, “We came to you, and only you could have given us life and now we must die with you forever.”

Don’t Let Your Dreams Die with You

If you died today, what dreams would die with you? What abilities would die with you unexpressed? What talents would pass away? What gifts would be buried forever?

After only finishing the seventh grade, Howard Thurman’s family scraped together all they had to send him away to high school, the fare turned out to be higher than anticipated. He was left at the station penniless and crying, then a stranger walked up and paid his ticket. Although he never discovered the man’s identity, Howard Thurman, dedicated his autobiography “to the stranger in the railroad station in Daytona Beach who restored my broken dream sixty-five years ago.” Would there have been a Dr. Howard Thurman without this kind stranger? Could this stranger have known the generations that would be touched and grateful for his indirect impact on one of the greatest civil rights leaders of all time? Without this small gesture that touched the life of Howard Thurman, would Dr. King ever have spoken the words “I have a dream”?

You will never know the full reach of even the small good that you do in life.  Don’t let your potential remain unrealized. Never allow fear or criticism to hold you back from achieving your dreams. Don’t allow procrastination or low self-esteem to prevent you from becoming the person you are truly meant to be. You are irreplaceable. There are boundless possibilities within you. There is limitless potential in you. There is infinite good within you. Don’t deprive the world of the unique purpose that lies within you. Don’t let the amazing gifts that have been given to you die with you unfulfilled.

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Promise Yourself…

“Promise yourself today to make all your friends feel like there is something worthwhile in them.” ~Christian D. Larson

Christian D. Larson penned these inspiring words in 1912. They appeared in his book ‘Your Forces and How to Use Them‘ (now in the public domain) and form part of what has become known as the Optimist Creed, adopted by Optimist clubs worldwide. These beautiful words have been inspiring me for years and I hope they touch your life, too.

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Promise Yourself…

“Promise yourself to today to talk health, happiness and prosperity to every person you meet” ~Christian D. Larson

Christian D. Larson penned these inspiring words in 1912. They appeared in his book ‘Your Forces and How to Use Them‘ (now in the public domain) and form part of what has become known as the Optimist Creed, adopted by Optimist clubs worldwide. These beautiful words have been inspiring me for years and I hope they touch your life, too.

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Promise Yourself…

“Promise yourself today to be so strong that nothing can disturb your peace of mind.” ~Christian D. Larson

Christian D. Larson penned these inspiring words in 1912. They appeared in his book ‘Your Forces and How to Use Them‘ (now in the public domain) and form part of what has become known as the Optimist Creed, adopted by Optimist clubs worldwide. These words have been inspiring me for years and I hope they do the same for you.

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How to Live Without Regrets


Edith Piaf was born into considerable disadvantage in Paris in 1915. Her rough early life continued with her living on the streets of Paris and singing for money, until her powerful voice was discovered while she was still in her teens. Nicknamed ‘The Little Sparrow’ due to her waif-like appearance and 4’8″ stature, she would eventually become one of France’s most-loved popular singers. Her story is told in the motion picture ‘La Vie en Rose’ starring Marion Cotillard. Edith Piaf recorded her famous love song ‘Non, Je Ne Regrette Rien’ at the age of 45. You can listen to it here.  If it sounds familiar, you might have heard it in the score of the 2010 Christopher Nolan film ‘Inception’.

Here are three ways to be able to like Edith Piaf say “Non, je ne regrette rien. No, I have no regrets”:

1. Choose Love Over Fear

Every day we are faced with new opportunities and decisions. Should I go back to school? Should I take a second job? Should I stay in my current relationship? Should I start building my home? Most decisions will have elements of love and fear. Choosing fear is the option that will most often take us down the path of regret. Choosing love, however, is liberating. When making decisions, be honest with yourself about the things you want and love. Choose love over fear, to be able to pursue your dreams with passion.

2. Take Action Now

Figuring things out can be difficult enough. Acting on a decision can be even more challenging. Forcing yourself to take action on the decision you’ve made will be far more rewarding than doing nothing. Choosing to do nothing will mean choosing not to face your fears. Inertia rides shotgun with fear. The regrets experienced from mistakes made after following your passion are fleeting, while regrets that result from inaction and from missed opportunities can last a lifetime. Mark Twain once said, “Twenty years from now you will be more disappointed by the things that you didn’t do than by the ones you did do.” Stop being paralyzed by fear and take action now.

3. Move On

“Do not waste one moment in regret, for to think feelingly of the mistakes of the past is to re-infect yourself.” – Neville Goddard. There will always be times when we make mistakes in judgement or act in ways that do not make us proud. We stump our toes, and sometimes, we fall flat on our faces, with what feels like the whole world watching. It is key to then recognize our errors, take responsibility for them and move on. When you do the best you can, and you know your heart was in the right place, then there is no reason to dwell on the mistake. Pick yourself up, dust yourself off and keep following your heart.

 

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Choose Life

Each day, there are choices set before us: life or death, love or loneliness, abundance or poverty, beauty or unpleasantness, creativity or lassitude, excitement or boredom, fulfillment or frustration, freedom or confinement, health or sickness, happiness or misery, peace or struggles, prosperity or misfortune, blessings or curses, success or failure, .

Today, I choose life. I choose love. I choose abundance. I choose beauty. I choose creativity. I choose excitement. I choose fulfillment. I choose freedom. I choose health. I choose happiness. I choose peace. I choose prosperity. I choose blessings. I choose success. And I hope you will, too!