I started writing The Positivity Papers in January 2018 as a vehicle to communicate principles and practices for experiencing more joy in life in a way that's accurate, accessible, and actionable.
Think of it as a series of apologetics outlining the value of positivity that's one part literature review, one part commentary, and whole part empowering.
The most recent edition of The Positivity Papers was written for inclusion in Volume Two of the print edition of this series, and you don't even have to wait for the book to arrive. You can check it out right now here.
I personally feel that this is one of the most important pieces that I've written, but that may just be my own bias due to my personal experiences.
Letting go of expectations, letting go of what we once had, letting go of an old dream or talent or purpose or way of life that is no longer serving us is a something that took me twelve years to master, and it's still a work in progress that I'm continually honing every day.
Today Facebook sent me a notification of a status updated that I wrote ten years ago today. It read:
"No one ever said that life would be fair, only that it would suck."
There were those who tried to talk sense into me at the time, that it would all be worth it in the end, but I wanted to hear none of it because at that time my reality was so locked into the old narrative what life should have been, what I had but no longer had, and of what I so desperately wanted to get back. The truth is, sometimes life does suck. Part of positive thinking requires taking an honest look at the situation, and sometimes the feedback says that life isn't going very well right now. The trick is not to ignore this truth, but it is also not to let the "suckyness" of the situation overwhelm us.
Some parts of life do suck. But many parts don't. What can we learn about what's going right, and how can we apply it to what's wrong to balance the scales? In a similar way, what can we learn about what's wrong to be better prepared for the future? And what can we do starting right now to make for a better tomorrow?
I hope you choose to invest 5 minutes to read this piece, and then I hope you choose to let me know what you think.
Stay Positive, my Friend!
This month will be four years since my father told me he has cancer. He had waited until he knew his game plan before telling me and my brothers. The extensive chemotherapy was going to be a battle, but it was his best bet to keep on living. After only less than two months into treatments, I wasn’t concerned when I got a call that he was unconscious at the hospital. That’s to be expected when you’re battling for your life! He was still months away from finishing treatments so I saw no need to rush to the hospital. It was a Wednesday when I got the call, and I had a handful of students in my magic class that I was teaching, so I waited until after class to head over to the hospital in Northampton. It wasn’t until the elevator doors opened on his floor that I was suddenly hit with the reality of what I was walking into. There was just something in the quality of the air that told me. I was walking into a room to watch my father die.
The machines were breathing for him. He looked like a bionic man. Half man, half machine. It was pretty badass. Everyone was there. Just like in the movies. We all took our turns alone with him saying our Peace, saying goodbye. I told him that I forgave him. What did I forgive him for? I don’t even know, but it felt like the something that needed to be said. He was a good father. I am who I am today because of him. He’d spend entire afternoons with me at the at the local magic shop. My new friends were his new friends. What more could a kid ask for? Then when everyone had said goodbye the machine told us he was gone. Perfect timing. Magic timing. It was surreal to see the machine still breathing for him even though he was gone. We later learned that complications with the extensive chemotherapy were simply too much for his body to handle. And that if he had simply done nothing he probably would have been able to live for many more months. Perhaps he’s even still be alive today?
There’s extensive research and tests being done today that’s starting to show positive signs that chemotherapy is no longer the standard treatment for cancer patients. This new treatment is called immunotherapy and it uses a patients own immune system to attack and kill malignant cells. Though there’s still much work to be done, the amazing news is that it’s been working. I can’t help but wonder what this kind of treatment might have been able to do for my father. There were still so many things we needed to do. So much more to say. So much more to live.
I recently heard about an amazing group called Climb for Hope. This group is a nonprofit that raises money to continue the important immunotherapy research so that perhaps one day no one has to lose a loved one to violent treatments ending in a painful and agonizing death. The way it works is they assemble a team of hikers, get sponsors, then they go climb a mountain together. What I like about this is that my father was such an outdoorsman. In his younger years he literally lived for a time as a hermit in the woods. He would love that I joined the 2018 team that’s set to leave for a 50 mile rim to rim to rim hike of the Grand Canyon on May 16. It’s been four years since I lost my dad, and by going on this adventure I feel closer to him than I have in years.
Every team member with Climb for Hope is expected to raise $2800 for immunotherapy research. I’m ashamed to say that as of this writing you’ll find on my donation page that so far I’ve raised 0% of that amount. I don’t blame this on the unwillingness of others to donate to perhaps one of the most worthy causes of our time, but rather simply to my lack of salesmanship. I haven’t been able to adequately sell people on the idea that this is such an important cause. But really, there’s no selling involved at all. Just look at the research for yourself. Then look at the lives touched by cancer. A donation in any amount to my Climb for Hope page will be greatly appreciated, not just by me, but also by people that probably none of us will ever meet. But the people we help will be people just like us. People longing to spend just one more day with the ones they love the most.
Please donate now while it’s fresh in your mind. All it takes is just a few clicks and your done. Thank you!
By Limin Hong
I have in my hands two boxes,
Which God gave me to hold.
He said, "Put all your sorrows in the black box,
And all your joys in the gold."
I heeded His words, and in the two boxes,
Both my joys and sorrows I stored.
But though the gold became heavier each day,
The black was as light as before.
With curiosity, I opened the black,
I wanted to find out why;
And I saw in the base of the box a hole,
Which my sorrows had fallen out by.
I showed the hole to God and mused,
"I wonder where my sorrows could be!"
He smiled a gentle smile and said,
"My child, they're all here with me."
I asked God, why He gave me the boxes;
Why the gold and the black with the hole?
"My child, the gold is for you to count your blessings;
The black is for you to let go."
Harry Chapin routinely performed charity concerts, giving his money away to rebuild this place or that; feeding the hungry here and the hungry there. But Harry's social causes at times caused friction among his band members. He donated a third of his paid concerts to charity, often performing alone with his guitar to reduce costs.
After Harry's death, his wife Sandy said, "Harry was supporting 17 relatives, 14 associations, seven foundations and 82 charities. Harry wasn't interested in saving money. He always said, 'Money is for people,' so he gave it away." Despite his success as a musician, he left little money and it was difficult to maintain the causes for which he raised more than $3 million in the last six years of his life. The Harry Chapin Foundation was the result, which works to support organizations that have demonstrated their ability to dramatically improve the lives and livelihood of people by helping them to become self-sufficient.. As of September of 2012 the Foundation has distributed over 1.7 million dollars to 413 organizations.
Oh if a man tried
To take his time on Earth
And prove before he died
What one man's life could be worth
I wonder what would happen
to this world
Harry showed us what would happen. And so will I. Who wants to join us?
Today I received an email from Jeff McBride. It contained a message from Jordan Wright, a talented artist, both as magical performer and filmmaker.
How do you judge yourself and your success? Do you look at your career and see completion or do you see room for growth? Many magicians might choose to measure their success by how many shows they have done. Others might choose to measure only by the amount of money they make. The tendency is to dwell on the work we have in the moment or have had in the past. But there are those times when we feel like we are working just as hard yet we are getting very little “work”. It is easy to get to feeling down and to feel like we are not a success. We might receive a bad review, and suddenly our self-doubt creeps in. In the end, it all comes down to our attitude in how we judge our success. If we judge how great our work is by what we have done, or the feedback we receive, then we are only looking at the end result rather than the passion we had doing it.
One of my favorite types of art is conceptual art. In its origins, conceptual art challenged the belief that the purpose of art was to create material objects. Conceptual art is never focused on the result, or the product that is produced. Instead, the focus is placed on the process, the creation of new concepts and ideas. Relating this to magic, think of magicians who are always striving to develop new techniques and skills to accomplish an effect. A lay audience might never see much of what they come up with, yet they are always generating new ideas. Perhaps we can learn from this “concept” to measure success by our passion to attempt something new. After all, we have to be willing to create something beyond what has been done in the past in order for our art to evolve. Our work is not just about the end result, it is about the creative process. The end result will look good if the process felt good.
It doesn’t matter what I do so long as I do it.
Seek first the Kingdom of God. Then all prayers will be answered.
Seek the inner, rather than the outer. Seek first to love and understand. What matters now and forever is the spirit. What matters now is Life and that I do it as my soul wills.
I’ve natural abilities that are to serve this mission in Life.
To honor God and all that is I must use my talents, sharing them with others.
In this way I will be God’s moon, reflecting His Light into the darkness for others to follow.
They in turn will become my moons, reflecting God’s Light to even more, until one day his Love is set up as a tent over the entire world.
We are God’s campers, blanketed by his Love.
Some do not see and even those that do do not fully understand. But if we continue to listen and follow our Hearts, the promptings of our Spirit, we will know our Lord’s Peace, Love and Joy.
I have a dream.
In this dream my talents allow me to support myself and my family. My talents are as a resource magnet; all that I need is supplied to me in abundance.
If I need food, it is given. If I need clothing, it is given. If I need shelter, it is given. If I need transportation, it is given. If I need nurturing, it is given. If I need a favor, it is given. If I need forgiveness, it is given. If I need help, it is given. If I need Love, it is given. If I need Hope, it is given. If I need prayers, it is given. If I need guidance, it is given. If I need council, it is given. If I need opportunity, it is given. If I need experience, it is given. If I need a friend, it is given. If I need advice, it is given. If I need wisdom, it is given. If I need strength, it is given. If I need perseverance, it is given. If I need knowledge, it is given. If I need warmth, it is given. If I need a cool breeze, it is given. If I need Light, it is given. If I need a sign, it is given. If I need my Heavenly Angles, They are given. If I need my Savior, He is given. If I need my God, He will carry me Home.
And in this dream, with these talents that support my well-Being, they are also shared with others, so that they too may be supported. That all that they may need is given unto them.
My dream is to be God’s moon. To reflect His Love unto others. To shed His Love all across this beautiful Earth.
I was born and now it is today.