- Thoughts for inspired living

January 30, 2020


Filed under: Uncategorized — John Morgan @ 6:42 am

Arrogant 1Below something I wrote a year ago that seems appropriate to post again in light of what’s all over the TV screen these past few days.

The word “Spin” popped into my mind this morning. It arrived as an acronym: S.P.I.N.

“Spin” for me is presenting “what is” as “what isn’t.”

There is a positive side of spin. The NLP (neuro-linguistic programming) folks call it “reframing.” The reframe most are familiar with is the Helen Keller quote: “I cried because I had no shoes until I met a man who had no feet.”

The technique takes the whole painting and reduces it to a corner that acts a springboard to a change of attitude.

Others use spin differently. It seems to be a pattern that can be reduced to four steps.

S. Sidestep

P. Prevaricate

I. Insist

N. Negate

The first step is the favored strategy of the politician. Don’t answer the question asked.

The next step is to lie. The bigger the lie the more convincing it seems to be. (I believe it appeals to the conspiracy theorist that’s in all of us).

Next, insist emphatically that people believe you because you are on the side of the angels.

The last step is to negate the counter argument by not acknowledging it. This involves continually moving the goal posts which takes us full circle back to step one: Sidestep.

On and on it goes, around and around with endless rebound.

I recently heard the following quote to stop the merry-go-round. It came from TV talk show host Don Lemon: “Don’t play me, play lotto. Your odds are better.”

I used to have the following strategy to decide who to vote for. I asked myself if I would follow that person up a hill. If the answer was “no,” they didn’t get my vote.

I now have added another criterion: The politician who spins the least gets my support to procure their seat.

All the best,


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January 29, 2020

Bye, Bye, Law

Filed under: Uncategorized — John Morgan @ 9:30 pm

Bye Bye LawOPINION: We are no longer a “rule of law” country. We are a “rule of opinion” nation. I feel sorry for a young person pursuing a career as an attorney. They study long and hard in law school and all they get is a degree in history. The law is nothing like they learned – it’s extremely twistable based on the prejudice of the prosecution, the defense, and/or the judge, and on the plaintiff’s or defendant’s ability to pay.

I’ve heard arguments about the constitution being a hard and fast document or being a breathable document subject to the norms of the times. It’s like the argument about the Bible being literally translated or subject to interpretation. I’m sure the answer is somewhere in the middle on both accounts, but the legal system, for the most part, avoids that middle ground.

I’m reminded of the story of the drunk leaning on a lamppost. Question: Is he using it for support or enlightenment? He was a hedge fund manager who was charged with public drunkenness. There is a police record of him with a blood alcohol level of 2.8, and video evidence of him staggering like a wounded deer, and physically threatening people in his zig-zag path. It was argued that all he was doing was seeking light to read a note in his pocket to find a local address. Juries, judges, and military tribunals have acquitted people like this in too many cases to count.

It seems the poorer you are, the more strictly the law is applied. The wealthier you are, the more likely it will bend in your favor. Should the outcome of your trial be dependent on your ability to pay for a lawyer who has sway? I get that attorneys want to vigorously represent their clients. That’s the American way. What I don’t get is ignoring the law and attempting to rewrite it during a trial.

I’m embarrassed watching the rule of law sway in the breeze in the current nationally televised trial. The law doesn’t matter anymore. We are witnessing it being thrown out the door.

Occupational advice: Become a plumber or a doctor because the law is at death’s door.

All the best,


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January 27, 2020

New Favorite Quote

Filed under: Uncategorized — John Morgan @ 9:08 am

Jaco pretorius n9OqSW ROS4 unsplashI was watching a Sunday morning talk show and one of the presidential candidates was on. She said something in her closing remarks that grabbed me. It was a version of a quote from the late writer, humorist, and editor Jane Lotter. Lotter wrote the following:

“And may you always remember that obstacles in the path are not obstacles, they ARE the path.”

What a crystal clear hunk of reality.

How many of us get lost in the fantasy of “This isn’t happening”? We forget about another famous quote: “Life isn’t a dress rehearsal.”

What is happening NOW is the only thing happening, and now is the time to address it, not ignore it.

Indulge me with an overused sports analogy. When a basketball team is down by 25 points, every coach says, “one basket at a time.” Take care of what’s right in front of you, not the mountain in the distance but the molehill that’s under your feet. It’s the only path that leads you forward.

All the best,


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January 23, 2020

Are You Empathetic?

Filed under: Uncategorized — John Morgan @ 4:40 am

Nick fewings ka7REB1AJl4 unsplashI’m not empathetic. There, I’ve said it aloud.

I think empathy is like speed in football: either you have it or you don’t. The great football coaches will tell you that you can’t teach speed.

I know what empathy is, but I don’t feel it. We could get into a long discussion about nature/nurture here but regardless of the cause, the feeling is still absent for me.

I have yet to meet an adult who has taken dancing lessons that doesn’t still look stilted on the dance floor. There are no empathy lessons that work for someone who is not an empath.

I noticed that I have begun every paragraph with “I,” so naturally this must be about me. It’s more about attempting to wear something that doesn’t fit.

Some people are really packed with empathy. I both envy and feel sorry for them. Envy, because it’s something that society tells me that I should have and looks askance at me because I don’t. Sorry, because it must be painful to feel everyone’s pain.

Perhaps it’s a protection mechinism but that would be me trying to explain it or justify me not having it.

I’ve noticed that some of the best surgeons I have met also lack empathy. It doesn’t keep them from doing their life saving work.

Because someone doesn’t feel you doesn’t mean they don’t care. They just care in a different way.

It’s a mystery to me that I can sense what’s going on with someone seconds after meeting them, but I cannot replicate their pain in my body. The good news is it hasn’t prevented me from helping people over the years.

I admire people who have empathy, the same way I admire talented musicians or gifted artists. They can do something that I can’t, and no amount of effort will get me to their level.

I used to think it was a flaw. I’ve come to find it’s a reality.

Perhaps the lesson here for all of us is this: Spend more time doing the things you’re good at rather than pining away for something that will never come your way.

All the best,


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January 21, 2020

The Religious Atheist

Filed under: Uncategorized — John Morgan @ 9:03 am

Ryan riggins 2KJjKrod2RA unsplash“Even Atheists have religion.” That was the mini-sermon I heard from The Grasshopper this morning.

We all have things we believe in that we can’t validate. That’s faith; that’s trust; that’s religion.

Even the most devout religious person knows they cannot prove many of the tenets of their faith. That, however, is not enough to dissuade them from their belief.

When we believe in something that others cannot fathom, and that we cannot prove, we have a brand of religion. There is nothing wrong with believing; that’s how we are wired.

The problem arises when we want to sell our belief as the only one there is, or to be more specific – The one true religion.

That doesn’t mean we can’t have discussions with non-believers about our beliefs. It just means that we need to step down from our soapbox, so we’re on the same level.

When discussing beliefs, it’s important not to challenge the other person’s way of believing. Here are two words to use when asking a question about another person’s belief: Curious and Wonder.

“I’m curious how you arrived at your belief that all left-handed strippers are bi-sexual.”

“I wonder what makes you believe that your religion (way of believing) is the one, true religion?”

You’re just asking how they arrived at their conclusion. You’re not challenging it, demeaning it, or dismissing it. You are just starting a discussion about what most recommend that we politely don’t talk about.

What their answer will reveal is what NLP practitioners call their “convincer strategy.” But that isn’t my goal when having this discussion. I’m attempting to form a closer bond with someone who has different beliefs than me. I’m not attempting to convince them to see things my way. That generally has them quickly head for the highway.

My goal is to get closer to the belief that this person is just like me – just with different content. I think of us both as tea or coffee mugs. We’re both the same; we just contain a different brew.

The next time you are tempted to dismiss someone’s beliefs, get a little religion and discover that they don’t have to be just like you.

All the best,


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January 20, 2020

The Inertia of Fear

Filed under: Uncategorized — John Morgan @ 9:38 am

Alexandra gorn smuS jUZa9I unsplash“Inertia is fear dressed up in another suit of clothes.” So said The Grasshopper this morning.

The couch potato disguise cannot escape the observant eye of anyone willing to pay attention. Fear is the root of immobility.

The workaround is to not take on a big scary project to prove you’re not afraid. That tactic has a high rate of failure. The way to bypass fear is to take a step – in any direction. Movement is the antidote to fear. Taken in small doses, you can prove to yourself that you’re capable of mitigating fear.

Moons ago, The Grasshopper offered this: “Doing diffuses fear.” I have yet to see it not work.

Small steps in any direction relegates fear to second banana status. Your main focus is now on movement. It’s my experience that fear and movement cannot occupy the same space. So make movement a priority and you won’t be a sack of fear running in place.

One more Grasshopper quote to close this out: “You came from nothing, you’re returning to nothing; so while you’re here, do something.” – Move!

All the best,


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January 15, 2020

It’s Not Adding Up

Filed under: Uncategorized — John Morgan @ 1:11 am

Crissy jarvis gdL UZfnD3I unsplash“Life doesn’t add up until you learn how to subtract” – so said The Grasshopper late last night.

To me, life is a trip out and a trip back. The trip out is addition; the trip back is subtraction.

So what is there to go back to? The answer is: who you were before you made all your additions. Let’s call it your raw essence.

There are so many things we add to ourselves over time and many of them are culturally induced. “Keeping up with the Joneses” readily comes to mind.

We add so many things: preferences, prejudices, roles, relationships, and beliefs to name but a few. The list is long.

The idea of subtraction, for most, comes along around midlife. Some embark on that path, but many don’t. It’s a choice point, and too many of us ignore the invitation to head back home. Think of subtraction as removing labels from yourself – kinda’ like peeling off bumper stickers.

What to subtract? – That which was once “important” that no longer earns that label. With each subtraction, we gain deeper perspective as to who we are without all the baggage.

If you are working overtime at remaining “relevant,” you are caught up in addition, and the peace of mind that subtraction brings is absent from your equation.

Think of it this way: Addition is chasing the horizon; subtraction is enjoying the sunset.

Who are you without your additions? You can start finding out now. All you have to do is recognize that a minus sign is a plus.

All the best,


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January 8, 2020

Right Idea, Wrong Day

Filed under: Uncategorized — John Morgan @ 7:47 am

Yucel moran ee333RVA0SU unsplashThere was snow in the forecast in my area for this past Monday. As a precaution, I lifted the wiper blades on my car so they wouldn’t get snowed under and frozen to the windshield. As it turned out, it didn’t snow and I lowered the blades yesterday. This morning I woke up to unexpected snow with my wiper blades covered over.

I had the right idea, just on the wrong day. It got me curious about what other ideas get implemented either too soon or, more importantly, too late.

I remember when I turned 50. My dad was still alive and called me to wish me “Happy Birthday.” I remember asking him this: “Dad, you were 50 once, what would you have done differently knowing what you know now?” His answer was immediate: “Save more money.”

Hindsight in 2020 is no more useful than it was in any previous year. I am reminded about a technique I learned years ago that we could all use a bit more. It’s called “Future Pacing.” In short, thinking or planning ahead but with one addition – putting yourself in the picture.

Picture yourself in a future scenario that will come about if you stay on the errant path you’re on. Actually see, hear, and feel what it will be like. Then do the opposite: see, hear, and feel what it will be like if you shift gears now. The feeling you get from either can serve as the catalyst to move you forward.

English sales trainer Phil M. Jones has three questions he asks a client he is “future pacing”:

1. Do you believe this time next year that you’ll be in a better situation than you are today?

2. How are you going to feel when you get there? (evoke emotion)

3. What are the consequences of this not working out?

The wrong day is always tomorrow. Don’t believe me, consult the wisdom of Benjamin Franklin.

The most opportune time to envision your future is always now. What you envision and act on now increases your odds of arriving there. Vowing to act tomorrow only creates more yesterdays.

The right idea and the right day is today. Are you going to act on it or let it slip away?

All the best,


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January 6, 2020

Escape (The Pinã Colada Reaction)

Filed under: Uncategorized — John Morgan @ 7:12 am

Screenshot 2020 01 05 19 41 23It seems that life is filled with one escape attempt after another.

What’s not immediately apparent is that almost everyone is attempting to escape the same thing.

There are many methods of escape. Here are some of the main ones: alcohol abuse, drug abuse, excessive activity, couch potato-itis, social media preoccupation, (insert yours here).

So what is just about everyone attempting to escape from? – The thoughts in their head.

The activities we choose as a diversion are an attempt to get away from our disturbing thoughts. The Grasshopper weighed in with this over the weekend: “When you pay too much attention to the voice in your head, you have joined the walking dead.”

The best way to quiet your excessive thoughts is to observe them, not argue with them. Get curious about cultivating the habit of observing your mind at work, as a bystander, not as a participant. When you observe your thoughts, you give them the attention they crave. They will dissipate more quickly when you invite them in for observational tea.

Observation is how to get your thoughts to leave town instead of your method of leaving your senses.

When your diversion attempt is over, those thoughts are waiting with the same intensity. Let’s call it a “thought hangover.”

Yes, even observed thoughts can return but not with the same frequency. In fact, with observational practice, they visit less and less.

The side effects of escapism are cumulative, which means you will pay a continual price for your particular vice.

Want your mind to be more kind? Observe your thoughts in action, and you won’t need to escape as a distraction.

All the best,


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