Relief of Suffering

Relief of suffering is an essential element of life in my book (literally and figuratively). It was a tough chapter to write, and a tough chapter to keep short because there is so much suffering in this world. Suffering creates deep emotional blindness for many of us and sometimes, even rage against it.Cover image "Comfort Remedies"

As children, we watch our parents suffer and often we can do nothing to change what they are going through. They teach us at that formative age about dealing with it by their actions and words. And for me as an adult, the toughest thing to re-learn about suffering, was that suffering is NOT necessary… nor honorable. I was reminded of this recently watching the movie “Thor.”

The plot involves Thor being sent to Earth by his father Odin with the hope that the suffering Thor will encounter will redeem him. Yes, our culture continues to harp on and worship the idea of the redemptive power of suffering. For instance, we use the suffering and death of our soldiers to remind us that freedom costs us dearly. And those of us that were raised Christian are taught countless times that it took the sacrificial death of Jesus to redeem our lives from sin. Judaism also teaches about blood sacrifice especially in the incident wherein God blesses Abraham for his willingness to kill his son Isaac in order to meet God’s demand for a blood sacrifice.

“But we no longer ritualistically slaughter animals or humans to appease our Deity,” you say. But Christians of all varieties are committed to recalling the blood sacrifice of Christ in “Communion” (call it “Mass,” “Eucharist,” or “Holy” whatever) because his blood is central to Christian doctrine. And we still make memorials of our war dead. It’s very hard not to believe that suffering and sacrifice are honorable. They are not. They never were.

What is honorable is pushing through suffering when suffering is inevitable. But clinging to suffering or making up stories about its deep significance is a form of madness. Life does not honor suffering. Life abhors suffering and will sacrifice sometimes to remove or reduce suffering. Yet sacrifice is like pain: it is not to be taken lightly or just pushed through. Sacrifice and pain are warning signs to slow down, take stock and to creatively resolve the suffering as lovers, adults, and keepers of Life.

My wife has been called a Comfort Queen. She has taught me a lot and she is perhaps my best instructor in letting go of the idea of “the honor in suffering.” She is an RN and a wise woman. She excels in the relief of suffering and even wrote the book on comfort remedies. Just reading the words of her book communicates comfort. Get a copy, please. (Link below.) Use her suggestions, especially her 25 Positives. You may discover a love for Life that was missing.

Life without suffering is Paradise. We lose our need to strike out in Paradise. We lose our resistance to other viewpoints/ cultures/ gender differences, et cetera in Paradise. And we leave behind any idea that suffering was necessary or made our journey more meaningful.

When does relief of suffering become your partner in Life? To get you started, read a free chapter of Comfort Remedies (For Life on an Uncomfortable Planet) at, by Gloria Clarke, RN, my fabulous partner, adviser and best friend. Then make an investment in the relief of suffering by purchasing this book. It is full of remedies you can use to relieve the suffering of others: children and pets, with food, during travel or doctor visits, with gifts, meditation and all your senses.

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Posted in Change, Creativity, Dealing with Grief, Living Fully Now | Leave a comment

Commitment to Life or Commitment to Self?

Twelve Commitments To Life front cover

A respected friend (and endorser of my book The Twelve Commitments To Life) offered an idea the other day. “Why not change the title to “The Twelve Commitments To Self,” he suggested. I understood immediately where he was going. People buy and read millions of books about self-improvement. Perhaps a different title could attract that crowd of buyers.

My answer was decisive. Changing the title may help sales, but a change of title to include “self” would betray the theme of the book.

The Twelve Commitments To Life is not about building a better self. Yes, committing to Life will probably make you happier and more successful, but that isn’t the point to this book. The point is that without committing to Life, Life gets missed and finding the meaning of Life gets missed. And that often happens when people commit to a path of success in their field, their relationships, or their personal economy.

My lucid dream, as explained in the Forward, was a dialogue between me and Life. Not me and myself. Life said, “If you want to know the meaning of Life, you have to commit to it.” And when I asked for particulars, Life gave a description of Life at its basic level, not a description of myself at my basic level.

Life (and to some degree my experience of Life) at its basic level includes health of that particular being, an environment that is suitable for Life and awareness of Life. (I think all living beings on some level are self-aware; scientific studies have proven that even plants are self-aware.) As I explained in the book, basic Life also includes things like breath (exchange of energies), arousal through tactile senses, balance and more. These elements of Life aren’t just about me or my survival. It’s about the survival and thriving of the “big L,” Life.

My friend agreed that my book is a different approach from most other books on self-improvement. He specifically likes that it doesn’t talk about the Law of Attraction or success, or get snarled in God-talk.

I know this approach is unique. And it isn’t easy. It may not attract the seekers of success. But the reward, dear reader, is discovering the meaning of Life. That is no small achievement. And that is no small reward.

P.S. After concentrating on practicing the book’s material for over a year, I am working on a new book that takes this partnership with Life and its purposes to a new level. Using this paradigm, the experience of Life gets easier and more rewarding. I think you’re going to love it, understand more about Life and live in more gratitude as a result.

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New Year, New Life, New Mind

New Year, New Life, New MindCalifornia College San Diego trademarked image


Three Reasons Why I Am Going Back to School

What does your new year look like? Mine looks amazingly different. It started last December 11th, when I began going to school full time. I’ve committed to getting degrees in Computer Science, first an Associate’s, then a Bachelor’s and then a Master’s.

The decision to return to school was not a hard one. Not at all. My freelance writing jobs had me spending more time chasing down leads than getting paid. (Money is in short supply where I market my services.) Sales of my book “The Twelve Commitments To Life” are too little. (I didn’t really expect sales to jump off the page anyway. I mean, how many people in stressful economic times want to look at “more” or “better” ways to commit themselves?) And a full time job offer fell through. (I am so grateful that fell through. Do I really want another “job” if I could have a career instead?) So, the first reason is my personal economic prospects.

Another reason going back to school is an easy decision is due to my high interest in brain exercises. (See posts on Brain Fitness.) Having a brain that is actively learning and delving into challenges is fun. It keeps me interested in life, how life works and helps me connect with how other people make their life work. Learning is a life-long activity and longevity requires us to have something to look forward to (link to looking forward). Going to class may be worth looking forward, but even more compelling is building the logical framework that comes from an extended course of study.

The third reason going back to school was an easy decision is related to the school I chose. I looked at five local options, two of which are done mostly online. I looked at tuition and related costs, graduation rates, the courses offered and student reviews. My choice, California College San Diego, was heads and shoulders above the rest. Besides having exactly the courses I wanted to take (Computer Science with an emphasis on Networking Systems), the staff was exceptionally friendly and confident. I believe they were confident because their graduation rate was above the rest, student complaints are low, they know how to help students get financing, their student/teacher ratio is exceptional and their learning system is efficient. California College San Diego is a for-profit university and, set up on a business model, they have really dialed in on what makes learning efficient. Here’s a link if you are interested in learning more about California College San Diego.

As I begin the new year, I am excited to actually be doing what I advocate for: mental clarity, commitment, health, understanding, longevity and living fully. I hope to give further posts about the ways my mind opens and develops in school. I also hope this plants seeds of encouragement to others to consider starting a new career or to support the educational community.

In particular, I will be studying a line of thinking that is almost entirely a left-brain, logic-based approach. I, however, am primarily right-brained. I love creating, pulling things together into a whole. I love the process of creation more than the arrival. To me, deadlines are fuzzy and feeling trumps logic. Now, all of that will be challenged, helping me to develop a more balanced right and left-brained mind, or as Daniel Pink calls it in his book, “A Whole New Mind.”

P.S. Thank you, Daniel for your inspiration. I love your book.Book cover, A Whole New Mind by Daniel Pink

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Posted in Change, Commitment, Life Extension, Living Fully Now, Mental Clarity, Posit Brain Fitness, Twelve Commitments to Life, Understanding | Leave a comment

Good Grief. It’s Christmas

I am troubled by the many people I know that are suffering today, Christmas Day. Many are grieving recent deaths. Others are grieving deaths that get revisited every Christmas.
Almost a week ago, my friend Martha posted on Facebook something to the effect that “Holidays may be nice for other people, but not for me. This is probably the worst holiday season of my entire life.” She suffered the recent loss of her father and was also dealing with other job related losses.
Her comment reminded me of a neighbor (I will call her “K”) I was checking in on two days ago. K. lost her mother no more than four weeks ago. They didn’t get along that well, she confessed, so there was some relief that that struggle was over, but her sense of loss was profound. This Sunday she reflected that for at least two weeks she had been in a mental fog. Nothing was making sense. It was almost as if K. had lost a part of herself.
While we were talking, something new came to me about grief. This came to me while I was empathizing with K.’s mental fog while she appeared perfectly normal. She was not missing an arm or leg. K. hadn’t fallen down a staircase. No one had put petroleum jelly in her eyes or stuffed her mouth with cotton. The mental fog was, as physical cause and effect go, inexplicable.
But there was an explanation for K.’s sense of physical loss. Her energy was sapped so much that she couldn’t think normally, act normally or respond as she was accustomed.
It must have been an angel that helped me see where the energy had gone because it was clear as a bell. Her mother had borrowed it to transition to her new home. K. looked at me and smiled. “Yes,” she agreed. Her mother had needed her energy. And K. was happy to loan it.
Christmas Eve I sent some of K’s story to Martha on Facebook. Not only had she predicted that it would be the worst holiday season of her entire life, Martha’s dog died on Christmas Eve. She was in shambles. But hearing this story and my confirmation that she gladly gave her pet the energy he needed to pass on, she wrote, “That produced a cleansing flood of tears… Thank you for your wise words.” Perhaps my checking in on K. was of greater value than just to her and her mother. Another pet goes forward with the conscious gift of loving energy only her life partner could give.
Good grief, Charlie Brown. It’s Christmas!

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Posted in Dealing with Grief | 1 Comment

Age Is Just a Number

Thanks to my Facebook friend Bernardo Mendez, (Host of, I have an inspiring short interview to share with you. Bern brought my attention to an amazing 82 year-old, Sister Madonna Buder. She doesn’t let her age stop her from running triathlons and Iron Man competitions. Why do we think we have to slow down and be age-appropriate? I think that is limiting and self-fulfilling prophesy.

What do you want to do in your advanced age?
I suggest you do something big.
I host conversations and videos on living fully in spite of our age at Life Forever

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Brain Health with Dr Andrew Weil

Dr. Andrew Weil, MD is well-recognized for his willingness to go beyond the medicine that US physicians are taught. He tells in his book Breathing, the Master Key to Self Healing, that he had to discover on his own the power of breath to heal and inspire shifts in mood (essential to healing).

Thanks to a reader of this blog, I was directed to a short yet helpful interview with Dr. Weil in which he discusses depression, brain chemistry, the power of thought to change the brain, anti-inflammatory diets and supplements. He also talks about one of my favorite subjects: gratitude. He considers gratitude both a discipline and medicine.

Thanks, Jim, for the tip.

Here’s the link

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This is your brain on fire

Recent health studies are of interest to more than health experts: they are important for those of us that want to forever maintain our mental clarity.
Chronic inflammation may be the leading cause of brain damage, say scientists. It causes damage to the brain’s blood vessels and may cause strokes. Of note: a diet high in Omega-6 fats triggers an inflammatory reaction when they are metabolized. The good news is that we can lower our consumption of Omega-6 and easily increase Omega-3’s. Read the article for more details.
Smoking is now linked with brain deterioration. We have long known how smoking affects the lungs, but this confirms my suspicions that smoking changes our behavior and mental wiring. I hope you like the article.
Mental decline is common with kidney deterioration, says a new study across three US universities. Faltering kidney functions can be slowed with diet and other lifestyle changes. Read more here.
The future is a choice we make today. Mental deterioration is something we choose now, before our present clarity slips away. Then, making a commitment to mental health is easy and rewarding.

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