- Thoughts for inspired living

January 31, 2018

Happy Endings

Filed under: Uncategorized — John Morgan @ 2:23 am

Bus stop

The Grasshopper offered this up a few days ago: “If you’re married to happy endings, you’re destined for divorce.”

On first blush it appears as a statement of resignation, but after reflecting on it for awhile, I find it to be a message of managing reality.

A happy ending may be the goal but happy has never been, nor ever will be, a permanent state. It comes and goes. When it’s here, it’s to be celebrated and enjoyed. When it’s gone, it’s productive to create the environment for its return.

Think of happiness that goes away as a bus that we got off of at the wrong stop. We can fret over our misfortune and get burdened with our angst, but the reality is another bus will come along.

Trying to capture happiness in a jar is like catching a firefly. Eventually its light will go out.

I think we spend too much time focused on how we can keep happiness in place rather than immersing ourselves in it while it’s here. We spend our moments attempting to catch lightning bugs in a jar rather than enjoy the light they bring while they’re present.

You set yourself up for disappointment by attempting to be perpetually happy. No one is and if they tell you they are, be prepared for them to try and sell you the “amazing” formula (think snake oil).

Creating the environment for happiness is having an optimistic mindset. That means to recognize there is a part of us that trusts the bus is coming again and that we’ll hop on when it comes to our stop.

Warning: If something specific has to be in place for you to be happy, you may never see that bus again. “I’ll be happy when (fill in the blank).” That’s a blank check that only buys unhappiness.

For me, it feels better to be happy than sad but life has taught me that both of these states are life-long visitors. The trick is to notice the temporary nature of each and expect the less desired one to go away soon and the more coveted one to come around again.

It’s kind of like my mother said, “If you’re mad, you’ll get glad again.”

All the best,


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January 17, 2018

You’re Not Your Reactions

Filed under: Uncategorized — John Morgan @ 6:30 am

Snorting bullHere’s something we all have in common: We react.

The best definition I can come up with for react is “Re-act.” We’re like an actor who has one gear. He re-acts the only role he knows no matter what the movie. (Think Steven Seagal).

Similarly, when we react, we do it the same way every time. Doing so, limits our choices and limits our options – not a great combination.

What do you react to the same way every time? If it’s crying while peeling onions, that’s an involuntary reaction and nothing to be concerned about.

But what about the reactions we’ve been conditioned to? Is there something someone can say or do that you have the same reaction to every time and vice-versa? If you’ve ever been married, it doesn’t take you too long to come up with the answer “Yes.”

Did you ever notice those reactions go nowhere new? You are stuck re-acting a movie you’ve seen a thousand times.

Here’s the good news: You’re not your reactions. You’re deeper than that.

You have a depth of responses to the triggering stimulus that you hardly ever use. When you take the time to respond, you’ll find that you overreact less and less.

“I’m a hot head, my mother was a hot head and my grandfather was a hot head; that’s just the way I am.” No you’re not. You just act like a hot head. You’ve conditioned yourself to react.

You can act in other ways and it will take some noticing on your part. Notice your same reaction about to come up and interrupt it. It’s that interrupting wedge between stimulus and reaction that will get you to the deeper land of response.

Reacting only gives you one option and the same, stale results you got before. Responses expand your horizons and present you with additional options. These new options, when acted upon, get you to play a different character with more depth and less angst.

All the best,


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January 16, 2018

Reasons OR Reasoning

Filed under: Uncategorized — John Morgan @ 6:27 am

FlunkingCall me late to the party but the duality of the word “reason” just dawned on me.

I’ve known since my grade school days that it’s both a noun and a verb but I never went deeper than that until now.

“The reason I was late was due to a traffic backup.” That use of reason provides us with an excuse.

“Reasoning,” on the other hand, is a process used to convince ourselves or another about a different way to think.

We can reason our life away and make excuses OR we can employ our sense of reasoning and find out our excuses don’t lead to a solution.

That statement should be reason enough to convince yourself to look for a new way to go.

Think back . . . you could come up with 15 different reasons why you were flunking algebra but adamantly avoided following a reasoned solution.

In closing, for the umpteenth time I will reference my 4th grade teacher Miss Wagner’s reasoning: “You can have what you want or your reasons why not.”

All the best,


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January 15, 2018


Filed under: Uncategorized — John Morgan @ 9:07 am

UpsetWhen your football team is expected to win and they don’t, that’s an upset. But how many other things do we get upset about before they even happen?

The Grasshopper weighed in this morning with this: “There are enough reasons to get upset without looking for them.”

In case you haven’t noticed, there are a lot of people you encounter who show up upset. They were upset before you even arrived.

I don’t know about you but I’ve played out a number of conversations in my head before I actually had them. That’s a great strategy if you’re an actor studying your role, but it gets in the way of real time communication.

“Let me tell you how upset I’m going to be if (person x) did (thing y).” That’s being upset in advance and it doesn’t do much to advance any conversation once you meet up with (person x).

Here’s a suggestion: Save your upsets for when there’s an actual thing to get upset about. Life is upsetting enough without artificially adding to the mix.

If you plan to consult the Farmers’ Almanac about the weather for your wedding day that’s 3 months away, plan on being upset from now ’til then if it predicts rain.

Being upset about imagined futures takes you away from enjoying the moments you’re in. Those are wasted moments if you plan on being upset.

Comedian Martin Mull who used to room with Steve Martin before either of them enjoyed celebrated success told this story: Steve would write jokes in their apartment and throw the ones in the trash he didn’t think would work. Mull, knowing that Steve was really funny, went through the trash when Steve left the apartment. Here’s one of the discarded jokes he found: “We sure have had a great time tonight. Too bad we’re all going to die someday.”

Begin to notice your own pattern of being upset in advance and let your noticing serve as a wedge between what’s real and what’s imagined. It will help you sail on a sea of tranquility while the weather is nice.

All the best,


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January 11, 2018

Solution Or Sounding Board?

Filed under: Uncategorized — John Morgan @ 7:45 am

AdvisorThe Grasshopper asked a probing question this morning: “Are you looking for a solution or a sounding board?”

Just about any married man I know has been trapped on one side of this question. Most husbands go into solutions mode when presented with a troubling story from their significant other.

The piece men fail to discern is that oftentimes others are not looking for a solution but, rather, an empathetic ear. They just need to have their story heard.

This question applies to all relationships: personal and professional, casual or committed.

I’ve come to learn that people want their situation acknowledged. That means we have to engage our listening apparatus and not necessarily offer our sage solution.

You may instantly offer the best advice but it will fall on deaf ears if you skip step one: listening.

After listening, if you have a suggested solution, here’s a suggestion: Ask if they’re interested, at this time, to hearing your options. Oftentimes the answer will be “No.” They’re just not yet in a mindset to absorb solutions.

Where I part company with this listening philosophy is when the story is an often repeated rerun. Then it has devolved into drama which I have no time for. I’ve never seen drama lead to a solution, only a wallowing in paralyzing justification.

I guess the message here is to engage your sensory acuity and discern whether another is ready for your input or not. Then have the good sense to offer it or not.

All the best,


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January 10, 2018


Filed under: Uncategorized — John Morgan @ 5:28 am

NewImageI ran across this old posting that has just as much pop today as it did 10 years ago.

I must confess that I am not a big fan of fireworks. I realize that puts me in a woeful minority of the population that’s marching to the beat of a different firecracker.

I’m not forming a support group, nor am I protesting the use of fireworks. They are beautiful displays and they have their place, but the “boom” has been off that rose for me for a long time.

In the field of personal development, there is a wing that’s focused on instant change. I must admit that at one time they had my attention as well. They have very explosive workshops dedicated to everything from get rich quick to eradicating your fears in a weekend. They are a lot like fireworks with tons of “ooh-ing and aah-ing.” And when it’s over, there’s not much left other than the memory. They do offer strategies to take with you, but few are motivated to follow up without the rocket’s red glare generated by the pep rally atmosphere. These performances are grand to witness and also have their place.

It got me to thinking about AH-HA moments. They are not explosions. They’re more of a popping through the soil like a flower first seeking the light. It’s a gentler process. The reaction we have to an AH-HA moment may contain the excitement of fireworks but the learning event itself is more natural.

Personal emergence follows nature. It’s a process. We have the tendency to judge it only by the sudden burst through the soil but there are deeper roots to this progression.

The difficulty is we are too focused on results without doing the requisite work. Our cultural conditioning encourages us to look for a pocket full of fairy dust rather than immerse ourselves in the rich soil of growth.

When our focus is outward, we seek fireworks. When our focus is inward we experience the soft implosion of discovery.

The red, white and blue truth is “it” isn’t out there. You can keep searching, but the horizon will keep moving away from you with each step you take towards it. You can’t get there from here.

If you want true independence, find a strategy, philosophy, discipline or teacher that takes you inward. The rewards are greater and longer lasting than any “sigh in the sky” experience.

All the best,


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January 5, 2018

What I Want

Filed under: Uncategorized — John Morgan @ 3:41 am

BlizzardThe Grasshopper arrived with yesterday’s blizzard and dumped this on me:

“It may never be the way you want, but it will always be the way it is.”

It’s feels good to get what I want. The trap is to believe that having what I want is a permanent situation. What we want will eventually dissolve or evolve because permanence is not a reality of human existence, except for, maybe, death and taxes.

The message is to enjoy what you want while it’s here instead of attempting to capture and preserve it in a jar.

This isn’t fatalism; it’s realism.

In case you haven’t noticed, things will not always go your way. This is especially true when what you want is for other people to be the way you want rather than the way they are.

Reminds me of a story from my radio broadcasting days. I had a great teacher. His name was Paul Hennings. He operated a school for budding broadcasters in Norfolk, Virginia. Paul was a successful radio personality in the area and had quite an impressive background. He was the guy who, back in the day, replaced Arthur Godfrey (the father of the modern day disk-jockey) when Godfrey went from radio to TV.

Hennings told the story of his first couple of shaky shows after replacing Godfrey. His program director noticed that he wasn’t quite at ease and sounded stilted. After a bit of conversation, the program director said, “I hired you to be who you are, not who you think you have to be.”

People are going to be who they are regardless of us wanting them to be different. The amount of fretting you do because others are not like you or the way you want them to be only causes mental and physical distress and keeps you living in the land of illusion.

Here’s a reality based formula that will let the air out of an illusion:

If you can’t change what is, there are two options:

1. Accept it.

2. Walk away from it.

This is my hope for you and me: That we get more of what we want without being in a constant state of wanting.

All the best,


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January 3, 2018

Growing Up

Filed under: Uncategorized — John Morgan @ 7:31 am

NewImageHere’s a New Year’s remembrance from many New Years ago:

Growing up is really growing out, or better put – Outgrowing.

Many people are “bound and determined” to make changes in the New Year. That sounds a bit like constipation to me.

The change that is necessary for us to make changes is to outgrow our response to the stimulus that causes us to react with undesired behavior.

Weight loss is the biggest New Year’s goal. The reason most people fail to keep off the weight they lose is because they never offer themselves the opportunity to outgrow their reaction to a stimulus.

Sometimes this change happens naturally and sometimes we have to give it a nudge. Here’s the story I often tell about natural outgrowth . . .

My father’s union had a Christmas Party each year for all the kids. We got to sit on Santa’s lap and tell him what we wanted for Christmas, and each child received a gift that day. When I was in first grade, I was anxious to get on Santa’s lap and make my requests. When I was in second grade, Santa began to resemble my father’s friend, Mr. Ferguson. I sat on his lap anyway because I didn’t want to miss out on asking for what I wanted in case it really was Santa. When third grade rolled around, I knew it was Mr. Ferguson and there was no way I would sit on his lap.

What happened here? The stimulus, Mr. Ferguson was the same each year; it was my response that had changed, and it happened quite naturally without any conscious effort on my part.

The little nudge technique is worthy of your attention. It’s an exercise I learned from the late Dr. Dave Dobson. He called it a “Subjective reversal.” That means the stimulus (subject) would reverse your response to something more useful.

The technique begins by rehearsing yourself in some calm and collected feelings. That means to find a time in your mind when you were totally calm and collected. It may have been 10 minutes ago or 30 years ago, it really doesn’t matter. Just find a time you were calm and notice what that calm feels like in your body. Rehearse this technique over and over again until you can feel calm feelings in your body.

Next bring to mind the stimulus that triggers unwanted feelings or behaviors. When you begin to feel those reactive feelings in your body, switch yourself to feeling calm and collected. Remember: This is your imagination; you can do anything you want with it. Do this exercise over and over again until you can switch from the reactive feelings to the calm and collected feelings in a second or two.

The natural offshoot of this repeated rehearsal is that you automatically begin to switch from the reactive feeling to the calm and collected feelings without having to consciously throw the switch. That means that the stimulus now automatically triggers calm and collected feelings. And remember: When you are calm and collected, you make much better choices.

This is outgrowing the old way and growing into a new way without binding yourself to a plan that has failed every time you have used it in the past.

If you have the ability to outgrow the goofy clothes you wore as a teenager, you can outgrow anything.

Happy New Year!


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January 1, 2018

Do You Really Want To?

Filed under: Uncategorized — John Morgan @ 4:06 am

NewImageAs we head into a new year, let’s reflect on what a wise, old man once said. Robert Schuller offered us this:

“You will suddenly realize that the reason you never changed before was because you didn’t want to.”

What a profound statement.

Change is generally defined as putting into motion a set of actions that leads to a measurable result. The downside of that definition is that those actions don’t usually produce lasting results. That’s because the change most people seek is exterior change. You only have to look at the dieting industry to validate that fact.

Internal change is the one that garners lasting results, but we resist it. Seems we are looking for a separate set of rules that allows us to keep our current mindset and still get the lasting changes we desire. It will never happen that way. That’s why people lose and gain substantial amounts of weight over and over again.

The thinking goes like this: Once I reach my goal, I can go back to my old way of doing things. That’s also why some big lottery winners blow through all their money. Their counter-productive spending habits were already formed and they never outgrew them because they didn’t want to.

Who doesn’t know a smoker who quit or an admitted alcohol abuser who says, “I can just have one”? It’s just more evidence that they didn’t want to.

There is no pocket full of fairy dust for change. Change happens from the inside out. Doing it the other way around is just putting a coat of paint on termite infested siding.

Find someone who has genuinely changed something in their life. You will find a different person on the inside than existed before. They really wanted to change and they were willing to do what was necessary.

Yes, you can look at and emulate their determination and true grit, but if you stay focused on that for too long, you will miss the secret of their lasting success – they cleaned house from the inside out. They took a deep look in the mirror and got honesty reflected back.

I think mirrors are highly misused. They can certainly let us know that we look “hot” for our age or not, but their biggest gift is this: They have no agenda and reflect back only that which is there.

Our “cake and eat it too” thinking is the vanity use of the mirror. It keeps us stuck with yo-yo results. A deeper gaze into the looking glass reveals what’s really there and what needs to be changed.

The mirror will not lie, only our thinking will.

The real courage necessary for change is the willingness to go deeper than our façade and to be as honest with ourselves as the mirror is. This approach will home in on what really needs to be worked on for us to get the lasting change we desire.

You can hold on to that which isn’t working, and you can tell yourself that you tried, but the truth is you lied. You never changed because you didn’t want to.

“Wanting to” requires the courage to let go of something forever. If you can’t get yourself to that point, save your breath and your efforts because you will ultimately fail, quite simply, because you don’t want to.

Letting go of something that isn’t working is one of the tallest tasks any human being can take on. It begins with the recognition of what is keeping you from your goal. Once you recognize your road block, dedicate your quiet time to providing you with a strategy or solution to get past it. The answer you eventually receive will be unmistakable in clarity.

But don’t follow those instructions unless you want to.

All the best,


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