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Showing posts from November, 2013

To Hunger for Revenge

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The Count of Monte Cristo, my favorite movie. :) A friend of mine (who is also a counselor) once told me that "humans, crave revenge. To us, it's almost a sensual, pleasurable thing. A movie or a book is not satisfying to us unless the villain 'gets what he deserves.'" I've pondered what he said for a while now. I believe it's true. Some of the coolest movies are the movies in which the villain receives the most poetic/dramatic death (right now, I'm picturing the final fight from the movie Gladiator —that guy had it coming!). Without question or dispute, my favorite movie is The Count of Monte Cristo (I'm sorry, but the movie sooo much better than the book. Believe me, I read the UNABRIDGED version. I know what I'm talking about!!). I was watching the movie today as I finished remodeling our living room. In it, Edmund Dantes spends almost sixteen years plotting revenge against the people that betrayed him. As his hunger for revenge

Transforming Depression Into a Blessing

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In his book, The Road Less Travelled , psychiatrist M. Scott Peck explained how even our heaviest burdens (including mental illness) can become our greatest blessings. All we need to do is accept our condition and undertake the necessary steps to heal ourselves. … these painful, and unwanted symptoms of mental illness, are manifestations of grace, the products of a ‘powerful force originating outside of consciousness which nurtures our spiritual growth.’ As is common with grace, most reject this gift and do not heed the message. They do this in a variety of ways, all of which represent an attempt to avoid the responsibility for their illness. Usually, in many subtle ways, they will blame the world outside them – uncaring relatives, false friends, greedy corporations, a sick society, and even fate – for their condition. Only those few, who accept responsibility for their symptoms, heed the message of their unconscious and accept its grace.  The relationship between grace and ment

George Washington's Thanksgiving Proclamation

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George Washington The followingThanksgiving proclamation was made by President George Washington on Oct. 3, 1789. What are your thoughts about it? Are we keeping or missing the true intent of Thanksgiving? Whereas it is the duty of all nations to acknowledge the providence of Almighty God, to obey His will, to be grateful for His benefits, and humbly to implore His protection and favor; and Whereas both Houses of Congress have, by their joint committee, requested me "to recommend to the people of the United States a day of public thanksgiving and prayer, to be observed by acknowledging with grateful hearts the many and signal favors of Almighty God, especially by affording them an opportunity peaceably to establish a form of government for their safety and happiness": Now, therefore, I do recommend and assign Thursday, the 26th day of November next, to be devoted by the people of these States to the service of that great and glorious Being who is the Beneficent Auth

What If God Was One of Us?

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For some reason, I've been thinking a lot about a short story by Leo Tolstoy. It's called "Where Love is, There God is Also." It's one of my favorites. I'd summarize it for you, but perhaps it would be better if I just let you watch it? I hope you enjoy it as much as I do.

What Causes Depression?

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As someone who suffers from depression, I was intrigued by M. Scott Peck's description of depression in The Road Less Traveled. According to him, depression is sometimes what we experience as we are giving up our "old self." “Since mentally healthy human beings must grow, and since giving up or loss of the old self is an integral part of the process of mental and spiritual growth, depression is a normal and basically healthy phenomenon. It becomes abnormal or unhealthy only when something interferes with the giving-up process, with the result that the depression is prolonged and cannot be resolved by completion of the process.” (Wisdom from The Road Less Traveled, 2001). I just read that today, but I can see where it makes sense. Part of growing up means letting go of the old and accepting the new. The times when I have been the most depressed have been the times when I have tried to hold on to the past—but the past cannot be held. As a result of my inability to rec

What Is Love, Love?

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Baby don't hurt me. Don't hurt me. No more. A good friend of mine recently recommended that I read "The Road Less Traveled" by M. Scott Peck. So I started listening to it today while at work (my job facilitates my addiction to audiobooks). I gotta admit, it's a pretty amazing book. While I could certainly talk about a number of things he mentions, I really enjoyed some of his comments on love. Here are a few of my favorite quotations: “Love is the will to extend one's self for the purpose of nurturing one's own or another's spiritual growth... Love is as love does. Love is an act of will -- namely, both an intention and an action. Will also implies choice. We do not have to love. We choose to love.”  “Genuine love is volitional rather than emotional. The person who truely loves does so because of a decision to love. This person has made a commitment to be loving whether or not the loving feeling is present. ...Conversely, it is not on

A Simple Way to Influence Others (Without Controlling Them)

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The Wind and The Sun Today, I heard this wonderful little tale from Aesop's Fables . It's a short story that teaches a profound principle. THE NORTH WIND and the Sun disputed as to which was the most powerful, and agreed that he should be declared the victor who could first strip a wayfaring man of his clothes.  The North Wind first tried his power and blew with all his might, but the keener his blasts, the closer the Traveler wrapped his cloak around him, until at last, resigning all hope of victory, the Wind called upon the Sun to see what he could do.  The Sun suddenly shone out with all his warmth.  The Traveler no sooner felt his genial rays than he took off one garment after another, and at last, fairly overcome with heat, undressed and bathed in a stream that lay in his path.   The moral of the story? Persuasion is better than force .

Overwhelmed by Mercy in The Brothers Karamazov

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Dostoyevsky—the original hipster. Today, after two years of starting and stopping, I finally finished what has to be the most dreadfully boring, insanity-inducing, mind-numbingly painful audio recording of The Brothers Karamazov— ever created . Having a deep appreciation for all things Dostoevsky, I purchased this Satan-inspired recording, hoping to finally read and understand this classic. Shortly after I started listening to it, I realized that I had made a horrible, unalterable mistake. Had this unabridged audio recording persisted for another hour, I am certain that I would have skewered my eardrums with a nail. Alas, compared to the narrator's voice, a nail would have been a sweet mercy. Be that as it may, I did manage to glean a few good things from Dostoyevsky's Magnum Opus . One of my favorite parts comes from Fetyukovich, Dmitri's lawyer. In defense of the accused Dmitri, Fetyukovich asks the jury to acquit Dmitri, even if they think he's guilty. H

Charles Dickens and The Power of Encouragement

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Charles Dickens I've always been impressed by the power of encouragement—by using our words to inspire someone to believe in themselves. About a year ago, while driving from San Francisco to Utah, I finished listening to How to Win Friends and Influence People . In that book, Dale Carnegie shares this touching story: "In the early nineteenth century, a young man in London aspired to be a writer. But everything seemed to be against him. He had never been able to attend school more than four years. His father had been flung in jail because he couldn't pay his debts, and this young man often knew the pangs of hunger. Finally, he got a job pasting labels on bottles of blacking in a rat-infested warehouse, and he slept at night in a dismal attic room with two other boys - guttersnipes from the slums of London. He had so little confidence in his ability to write that he sneaked out and mailed his first manuscript in the dead of night so nobody would laugh at him. Story a

A Beautiful Love Quote by Charles Dickens

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A painting of my wife, created by Howard Lyon www.HowardLyon.com My favorite quote on love comes from Great Expectations , by Charles Dickens. I shared it with my wife shortly before we were married. "You are part of my existence, part of myself. You have been in every line I have ever read...You have been in every prospect I have ever seen since - on the river, on the sails of the ships, on the marshes, in the clouds, in the light, in the darkness, in the wind, in the woods, in the sea, in the streets. You have been the embodiment of every graceful fancy that my mind has ever become acquainted with. The stones of which the strongest London buildings are made, are not more real, or more impossible to be displaced by your hands, than your presence and influence have been to me, there and everywhere, and will be."

Welcome to The Alaskan Muse!

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Hello! Hello! And welcome to The Alaskan Muse (moose, muse, get it?): a blog of my literal, literary adventures. Oh, don't give me that face! C'mon, it'll be fun! Here I will be posting daily selections from literary classics coupled with my insights (because you can totally put those two side-by-side, right?). So check back every day, I promise it'll be epic . See, here's an epic picture of me standing in Alaska and staring off into the distance. What more epic proof could you ask for? Epic Alaska!