August 1: Today, you could...

Today, you could refuse to look at the negatives.
They will still be there tomorrow, if you want to pick them up.

Today, you could decide what is worth worrying about.
By definition, you will also decide to let go of the rest.

Today, you could go to bed tired.
Because you have given of your best and are all used up.

August 2: What is the simplest thing that could possibly work?

"Everything in life should be as simple as possible, but not more simple," Einstein had observed. He had also stated, "For every problem, there is a solution which is simple, obvious and wrong."

This is not an easy area and not every simple solution is the correct one.

Here are three elements that could be important when you need to solve a problem:

1. Resonance: Something that feels right, in accord with your feelings and values.
2. Elegance: A solution that appears to flow. No part of it feels forced.
3. Simplicity: A feeling that there isn't anything missing or unnecessary.

If a solution meets two or three of these criteria, it's almost certainly worth taking further.
If it meets none of them, you could spend today creating alternatives.

August 3: The enemy of truth is not lies, but convictions

The disadvantage with being certain about our beliefs is that it makes us inflexible. Why should the ideas that served you a year ago still be the most appropriate ones for your present circumstances?

When you were a child, you constantly asked questions. That's how you found out about things. It's a useful skill to carry with you into adulthood.

Today, you should question everything and, in particular, the things you feel most certain about.

August 4: Relationship exercise

For couples who find conversation difficult and often end up arguing with each other, here's a way to help break the pattern.

Agree on a length of time for this exercise. If you can't agree, make it thirty minutes.
Toss a coin to see who goes first.

That person can hold the coin and speak for as long as he wishes, free to say whatever is on his mind.

He can pause to reflect, but the other person is not allowed to intervene or comment until the coin is passed to him.

The process is repeated until the thirty minutes or whatever period of time has been agreed on, is up.
Immediately afterwards, it's wise for both to spend fifteen minutes apart.

August 5: Lighting the candle

Hundreds of us were in the air-conditioned but windowless room. When the lights were switched off, the darkness seemed absolute.

On stage, the course leader struck a match and lit a small candle. It was surprising how much light it cast. He used his candle to light those held by a couple of people in the front row. They, in turn, lit the candles of those sitting behind them.

Seemingly without any hurry, every candle in the room was lit within a few minutes as we each contributed to the powerful light that now filled the whole room.

What struck me most was that nothing needed to be said by way of explanation.

August 6: Mid-life is not about what you do; it's about who you are

And that's true of many other times in our lives.

We are human beings, not human "doings". Yet, so much of our energy goes into planning the future and so little into enjoying the moment.

Today, you could make it different; live who you are, rather than what you do.

August 7: What is the biggest priority in your life? How are you living it?

It's interesting how often there is a difference between what we think we stand for and how we behave in our everyday lives.

People often claim qualities such as honesty, loyalty and reliability as priorities in their lives then choose to be oblivious to the fact that they don't demonstrate these qualities in everyday situations.

People often claim that their first priority is their partner, their children or their friends. Yet, if they placed their lives under scrutiny, they would realize that the way they spent their time did not reflect this.

Of course, this might not apply to you. But it's still worth spending a few minutes examining your answers to the question.

August 8: The secret lives of others

If we were aware of the secret lives of those we sometimes want to punish and knew about their heartaches and troubles, we would certainly not wish to add to the burdens they are already carrying.

Live today with this in mind and see how you end up feeling when you go to bed tonight.

August 9: What is the purpose of my life? (1)

Here is a simple answer: The purpose of my life is to enjoy the experience of being alive.

Live this out today and then look at the item for tomorrow.

August 10: What is the purpose of my life? (2)

Write down your three best qualities; for example, intelligence, compassion and determination.

Write down your three best skills; for instance, organization, writing and typing.

Write down three ways you want the world to be; for example, loving, friendly and peaceful.

Now write the following: "The purpose of my life is to use my (three qualities) and my (three skills) to help create a world which is (three ways)."

You may want to refine your purpose and add detail, but now you do have a starting point for what you want your life to be about.

August 11: A simple religion

The Dalai Lama once said, "My religion is simple; my religion is kindness."

Now, we each have to work out our own beliefs about life. But I think this is a great standard against which to check both our convictions and our conduct.

The one person who always benefits when you practice "random acts of kindness" is yourself. That's not why you practice them, but it is the outcome.

Check it out. Reach out to someone else today in a way that is unexpected. Then observe how you end up feeling.

August 12: Who owes you?

The answer is simple. No one owes you anything, neither friendship, nor love, nor respect, nor happiness. And you don't owe them anything either.

When someone does something for you or you do something for another person, it's because of the choice each of you has made. The reasons may be complicated. But ultimately, we all act in ways that serve us.

When you realize this, you can start becoming free from expectations and resentments.

This attitude is not for everyone. Today, you could see if it's for you.

August 13: Today you could...

Today you could play to your strengths.
And then spend time working on your weaknesses.

Today you could turn complaints onto action.
Notice when you complain and ask yourself what action you could take.

Today you could acknowledge your achievements.
And decide if you want to move on to achieve more.

August 14: Being the eagle

The farmer was excited when an eagle nested in his property, then devastated, when he discovered that the eagle had been shot. He climbed the tree to look at the nest and saw that it contained a single egg. He carried it carefully down from the tree, took it back to his barn and slipped it under a brooding hen.

The eaglet eventually hatched along with the other eggs that were laid under the hen. He was raised with the chickens and thought himself to be nothing but an unusual chicken. He spent his time scratching the ground for seeds, searching for worms and clucking senselessly.

One day, a dark, ominous shadow fell across the barnyard. In terror, the eagle fled for shelter with his companions. Looking up, the eagle saw the outstretched wings of a huge bird effortlessly moving in graceful circles as it glided on currents of warm air. Entranced by the majesty of such a powerful bird, he turned to the chicken beside him and asked, "What's that?"

"That," replied his companion "is the king of birds. Its realm is the sky. It controls the air. It is called an eagle. We are chickens. We belong on the ground."

The eagle looked up at the bird and saw the similarities he shared with it. He looked at the chickens and, for the first time, saw how different he was from them. The eagle now had a choice. He could live and die as a chicken in the backyard coop or he could spread his wings and soar into the air with the majesty, skill and power of the bird above.

And so it is with each of us. Do you have a destiny, a life far beyond your current way of living?
The choice is yours.

August 15: Today, you could...

Today, you could complete something you have been putting off.
The energy spent in not doing it i probably more than it would take to complete the task.

Today, you could mark your minor successes.
See how they have built up and contributed to real changes in your life.

Today, you could write down one of your best qualities.
And see how you can use it in an interesting and varied way as your day progresses.

August 16: Having it all

He had finally achieved all his goals.
It was not surprising, as he had devoted almost all his time to them.
He had the job and the income he wanted, the level of fitness he desired.
He had an apartment in the best part of town.

It had all been worthwhile, the personal sacrifices, the postponement of pleasure. At last, he could look forward to enjoying life.

He was so busy looking forward, he did not see the truck that hit him from behind.

It's not forever. By all means, have plans and objectives, but enjoy the present moment. You may never have another.

August 17: A good brain working with a good heart

The more perspectives you have on any situation, the better the solutions you devise to your problems are likely to be.

The two essential tests any action or decision needs to pass are that it should make sense when you analyze it objectively and feel right in your heart.

You need to be very careful about acting on just one of those tests.
You have been given these two skills so they can complement each other.

If both tests are passed, then take action, today.

August 18: Relationship exercise

This is a very challenging exercise. Just try it and you'll understand why. It's certainly not for everyone.

Sit opposite each other with knees almost touching for an agreed period of time, beginning with, perhaps, no more than five minutes. Make eye contact and hold it without talking or moving. Just concentrate on the experience of being together. Observe what thoughts and feelings arise. Try not to dwell on them. Let them flow past to see what follows.

Take fifteen minutes apart before discussing what you have experienced or, perhaps, agree not to discuss it at all.

If you don't have a partner or don't want to carry out this experiment with him or her, do so on your own in front of a mirror.

August 19: The setting sun

Two friends on a safari holiday are watching the African sunset.

One is lost in the experience¯the birdsong, the changing colors of the sky, the gentle breeze.

The other is reviewing the day and thinking of the transport that was late, the substandard lunch that was served and the plans for tomorrow.

When the sun completely sinks below the horizon, who do you think will have made the best use of the moment?

At the end of today, how many experiences will you have fully appreciated and how much time will you have spent reviewing the past and planning the future?

August 20: Rejoice in diversity

It's the differences that make life interesting. We evolve most not through our interactions with people who agree with us, but through those with individuals who challenge us.

Contact with different cultures, opinions and lifestyles all help us to grow.

So, welcome today what is different. It's there to teach you something of worth.

August 21: Relationships don't solve personal problems

Although they can do a very good job of helping people avoid looking at them.

The solution to whatever issues are troubling you is your own responsibility, not that of your friends, family or partner. You can adversely affect your relationships with them by expecting them to sort out problems that are not their concern.

There's a simple question you should ask yourself: Did I feel like this before I went into this relationship?

The answer will help you to distinguish between personal problems and relationship problems.

August 22: The past and future do combine
                   To be the thief of present time

I don't know where this couplet comes from, but I do think it contains the most important piece of advice available. There is only the present at your disposal.

To squander the present by reviewing the past or planning obsessively for the future is to waste life itself.

If you want to enjoy the experience of feeling fully alive, you must focus on the moment.

August 23: Don't give up being you in order to be with someone else

Do you look in the mirror and no longer recognize the person you see looking back?

Do you find you've given up on your friends, your interests and your beliefs in order to stay in a relationship?

Then it's time to either introduce significant changes in that relationship or give serious thought to the possibility of getting out of it.

August 24: What do you say to yourself?

Everyone talks to himself or herself.

If you did it out loud and in the presence of others, you would certainly invite strange looks. No one can know, however, what you are silently saying to yourself.

What sort of things do you say to yourself?
Are they critical or encouraging?
What tone of voice do you use? Gentle or harsh?

Now, how do you talk to children, perhaps, your own?

If the way you talk to yourself is harsher and more critical than the way you talk to children, you need to change your habits, because inside each one of us is a child, often a frightened one, who hears our voice more than any other.

August 25: Most activity is a choice

I'm sure it doesn't feel like that if you are busy right now, but just pause to reflect. You are the one who has the choice to make your life more complicated than it need be.

There are, of course, some things you need to do, but a lot of your activity is a choice.

It's fine to take things on, to feel stretched to the limits. It's also perfectly all right to turn things down, to say no, when that best serves you.

If you are going to be busy today, make sure it's because that's what you choose to be.

August 26: What do you want on your tombstone?

Everyone will have his own answer. We all have our dreams and we may want an inscription mentioning our role as a good partner, parent, employee, boss, artist and contributor to society, among others.

Here is one tombstone inscription you might consider, whatever it is you might want to achieve before you die:

Best before ... , followed by the date of your death.

August 27: Forget the potential

Here's a good relationship question: If I knew my partner or proposed partner was never going to change, would I be happy to spend the rest of my life with him/ her?

If the honest answer, warts and all, is YES, go ahead and have fun.
If the answer is NO, you owe it to yourself to ask if this person is right for you.

August 28: Today, you could...

Today, you could decide to have fun.
Whatever happens, look for opportunities to make it more enjoyable.

Today, you could practice being a cheerful receiver.
The world is short of people who can graciously accept gifts and compliments.

Today, you could acknowledge that wherever you go, there you are.
Accept yourself as you are, warts and all. Acceptance can be the first step towards improvement.

August 29: The squeaky wheel

It's the squeaky wheel that gets the oil.

It may seem unfair that those who get on with their lives without a fuss are not offered the support available to less able people. Fair or not, it's a fact.

So, those who appear to be dealing with life well, even if they aren't, need to know how to ask for help. Otherwise, it won't occur to others to offer it.

If it applies to you, ask for what you need and make an effort to find out what others need as well.

August 30: Commitment and compatibility

Both these elements are important in a successful relationship; it's not an "either-or" situation.

The greatest commitment will not be enough to overcome a basic lack of compatibility and a relationship without this element can lead to a lifetime of unhappiness for both partners.

However, just because someone is compatible does not necessarily mean that he or she is committed or even capable of commitment.

The following might serve as a useful analogy: The pig and the hen are both compatible in the sense they provide bacon and eggs respectively. But while the hen is involved, only the pig is committed.

August 31: How do you treat your friends?

My guess is you are kind to them, offer to help them when you can, give them moral support when they are troubled, celebrate good news with them, forgive them when they are less than perfect and enjoy their company.

Now, how do you treat yourself? The same, worse or better?

Most people, if they are honest, will admit that they treat themselves worse than they treat their friends, particularly when it comes to the matter of forgiveness.

Today, why not start to treat yourself as well as you treat those you love?

© 2017 David Mills