Compassion: (n) sympathetic pity and concern for the sufferings or misfortunes of others.

There has to be some suffering brought on by misfortune before concern is expressed–otherwise, there’s a danger of casting your pearls before pigs.

What we often refer to as compassion is really pity. And pity is an emotion that does no good for either side.

Those who are pitied are weakened, and those who pity feel too much superiority for it to be of much personal good.

It reminds me of a snowy day when I saw a little boy trying to climb a hill with a bag full of groceries. He looked to be about eleven years old, and try as he might,funny wisdom on words that begin with a C every time he climbed the hill, he slipped, and slid back down, spilling the groceries. He patiently put the items back into the bag and tried to ascend again.

This happened four–no, five times.

It was on the fourth time that I noted his determination, even though there were the beginning signs of exasperation, as he punched his fist into the snow upon rising.

I did not intervene at first. I waited to see if he would persevere. I paused to give him a chance to succeed.

I let him struggle.

Then I went out and assisted him, and we made it up the hill together, slipping and sliding.

I’ve made many mistakes in my life by thinking I was being compassionate to people who just did not feel it was necessary for them to put forth effort. I was always left holding the bag, feeling great disappointment.

Compassion occurs when you realize people have tried almost everything they could think of to solve their problem, are still pursuing it and could sure use encouragement and a helping hand.

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Branch: (n) a part of a tree that grows out from the trunk

Over the years I have had many people come to me seeking counsel and advice. Of course, what they’re looking for is a combination of a sooth-sayer, a prophet and someone who has just returned from picking God’s brain.Dictionary B

And unfortunately, there are those folks who will connote that they have a pulse on your situation, and therefore privy to your marching orders.

One of the more popular assertions? Branch out.

In other words:

  • Follow your dreams.
  • Put all of your hopes on 7 on the roulette wheel.
  • Try new things.
  • Experiment
  • Be bold.

That kind of dime-store intuition may get applause on a TV talk show, but when applied in normal everyday life, often leaves believers devastated in disappointment.

Why? Because no one knows your true aptitude, attitude, potential, talent or perseverance. They’re just hoping you get lucky.

Of course, most people don’t. This is why state lotteries work–because most tickets don’t win.

Likewise, the reason the majority of us do not achieve peace of mind, financial success and personal satisfaction is that branching out and trying fresh ideas rarely works.

What does work is pretty simple:

1. What am I doing that works?

2. Since it works, how can I do more of it?

3. Then, how can I do it better so it works even more often?

This information is general, but true.

Anything that is an adventure has risk, and therefore, more than likely will fail.

But if you have something that has proven to be profitable, then just find more opportunities to do that same thing in varied ways.

So be careful.

What sounds good in an auditorium with a large crowd of people has to be followed up by you–with a cup of coffee and determination.


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Andersen, Hans Christian

dictionary with letter A

Andersen, Hans Christian (1805-75): Danish author noted for his fairy tales, such as “The Snow Queen,” “The Ugly Duckling” and “The Little Match Girl.”

I ferociously attempt not to become cynical.

Matter of fact, I consider cynicism to be one of the more dangerous vices in the human nuclear arsenal of available missiles.

But at the same time, I grow weary of ideas that appear to be optimistic but really are pandering to an ongoing philosophy: “normal is the best.”

Nowhere is this more obvious than in the work of Andersen with “The Ugly Duckling.”

I don’t think we understand the message of this particular tale. What is communicated to me is that a little bird who appears to be an ugly duckling has to hang on through its grotesque phase, because in the end, the bird will end up in the “Kingdom of Normal”–as beautiful, evolving into a swan.

Is this really what we want to communicate? What if you are just an ugly duck? What if you aren’t an emerging swan?

What if you just plopped out of your mother with an incurable dose of homely? Is there room for an ugly duckling who doesn’t become a swan–to still gain acceptance, or even prosperity?

I know my man Hans thought he was being generous of spirit by portraying that those who were less fortunate or not well-endowed should persevere to someday gain place in our society.

But the place he promised them was beauty. We don’t all end up beautiful! There is a whole majority of the human race that has to learn to become functionally ugly.

  • They will never be airbrushed.
  • They will never be gorgeous.
  • They will not achieve stunning.
  • And they certainly don’t become swans.

So understanding that Mr. Hans was trying to bring honor to the Andersen family by putting forth a positive message, it ends up not being very Christian.

Here’s the truth:

Sometimes ugly ducklings stay ugly and only gain beauty and value … through determination.





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