From the Archives: When to be Yourself

This week, August 12-16, I’ll be standing trial for fraud in Florida, and thus unable to bring you new words each day. In the meantime, please enjoy reposts of some of my best work. I’ll return Monday after these absurd charges have been rebuffed. Please do not hesitate to send me money in any amount, and it will help you more than it does me, and it shouldn’t need to be restated that the greater the amount, the greater the help to you will be.

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We are all unique individuals, and we should make each day a celebration of this fact by sharing our own unique perspective and contribution with our fellow human beings. One child may draw a beautiful illustration of a gray squirrel, demonstrating fine technique and artistic talent. Another may create a rough outline of the same animal, and make it purple, or orange, or with wheels. Creativity has no right or wrong answers.


Homeless Joe is a chronic deviant. He needs the spiritual guidance of THE POWER WORDS

  When we grow up, we bring our uniqueness to our careers. We find our place in the world and those things which we most excel at, allowing us to be of maximum value to fellow man. Is there such a thing as sharing too much of our inner selves? Absolutely.

  When going to get our morning coffee we may see a homeless man outside the convenience store, pleasing himself sexually. We guffaw, but is this person not merely living life on his own terms, free from judgment? Inarguably so, but what he’s doing to himself won’t help him find a job, or a shower, and it surely doesn’t help us.

  We might think we have nothing in common with the bearded, unwashed deviant, but don’t we so often engage in the same behavior? When we engage our coworkers in talk about what we think they should be eating, a flakey new spiritual movement, self-righteous talk about why their politics are invalid, or the merits of electronic-dance-music, aren’t we just practicing another form of masturbation? Even if these are special, important parts of ourselves, we need not spray them orgasmically onto the world.

Power Words:

Today I will have the courage to be myself, all the way up to the limit of unstable, insane behavior that alienates others and puts me in danger of scrutiny from authority.

From the Archives: Who to Judge

This week, August 12-16, I’ll be standing trial for fraud in Florida, and thus unable to bring you new words each day. In the meantime, please enjoy reposts of some of my best work. I’ll return Monday after these absurd charges have been rebuffed. Please do not hesitate to send me money in any amount, and it will help you more than it does me, and it shouldn’t need to be restated that the greater the amount, the greater the help to you will be.

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“Judge not, lest ye be judged.” said somebody not important enough to warrant credit whenever this ideal is stated. And stated it is, frequently in modern day, despite its being something like 2,000 years old.JudgingJohn

  We can all see the logic in the idea. Nobody is perfect. To look our fellows and shake our heads at their flaws is to guarantee our status as hypocrites, when the time comes to exhibit our own defects of character, and soon we all do.

  What is largely unstated, however, and innately understood, is that this (definitely true) idea functions in degrees.

  Example: If our neighbor is observed to be at loud conflict with his wife and children, complete with screaming matches and clothes strewn on the lawn. Sometimes the clothes are set afire. We might say, “Boy, Jim’s not a very good husband.” Soon though, perhaps our own spouse commences to drink to excess daily, while our daughter simultaneously becomes an active participant in a local crime-based motorcycle club. Would our interactions with them remain always cordial and reserved? One would have to be superhuman to pull off such a task.

  But let’s imagine a different situation for Jim. Imagine Jim has a loud, raucous party for many days in a row, audible from our own house. Upon investigating, we learn that Jim has paid for the celebration by selling his own children to the aforementioned motorcycle club, and is free to continue it for so long because his wife seems to have disappeared as well. Later, it is revealed that Jim murdered his wife, and served her as steak tips at the party.

  What do we possibly have to lose by judging Jim’s actions in this situation? Nothing. We haven’t done, nor will we do, anything that approaches Jim’s pimping, murder, and cannibalism. Thus, anyone who would advise us from the judge-not-lest- perspective would appear ridiculous.

  So, if we learn where the boundaries of our own evil lay, we can be free to disdain, malign, label, and pass judgment on all of our fellow men, knowing the situations where we are safe to do so. We can even pick and choose. We may outline Jim’s crimes as stated above, but leave aside his blackout drunkenness and accidental driving on his lawn, remembering our own behavior on Memorial Day. Or something similar.

Power Words:

Today I will look at my life honestly, and see how I am like those whose actions I judge. But I will also see what I have not done, and be able to know who I am safe to judge, blame and label as a demon.

Power Words for August the 1st: Keeping Clean

In my writings, I sometimes mention being clean, usually making reference to periods in my life journey where I could (or could not) be described this way. When I do so, I am speaking of my long, sticky road traveled with an addiction to intoxicating adhesives. Today, we will again discuss being “clean”, but in a more conventional sense.

The great spiritual teachers have always seen the benefits of personal hygiene. Our images of the Buddha show a smiling friend, attractive for his clear skin and hairlessness. Christ washed feet while spreading his message, as I recall. On television, I have seen muslims wash their faces somehow in connection with their religion. The results are clear. Looking our best is part of living the spiritual life.

Like all of our other character defects, we’re not always the best judge of our own filthiness. We rush to get ready in the morning, eager to munch the day ahead, and sometimes don’t take the most careful self appraisal. So, we might benefit from little checklists, just occasionally, to examine each part of ourselves. Here is an example, for our hair. Let’s try it. We can look in the mirror, and ask ourselves these questions…

How is my hair? Is it neat? Trimmed? Is it getting mulletty in the back? Are my sideburns beginning to look like grass on an Alabama lawn? Women- do you have split ends, or flatness (again, hair). Do you look ready for the Husband Lounge, or the Cat Adoption Pavilion?

How did it go? Did you learn or realize something you’d missed before? Good. You can travel south across your body, developing your own questions for all remaining parts. If you’re satisfied with what you find, start over, and try harder.

Power Words:

Just because I’m good enough the way I am, doesn’t mean I can’t be better, or that I shouldn’t worry a lot about it.


Power Words for July the 31st: Hard Work

“I believe strongly in hard work.” said practically everyone. We all believe in hard work. Hooray for hard work!

How true is this idea? Surely, we appreciate a person doing their best in whatever profession, when we’re in the consumer seat. Likewise, we feel best about ourselves when, in our career, we fully apply ourselves and refuse to sit idle. On the other hand, hard work is perhaps, an oversimplification of the real world metrics of what a person does. These thoughts may, however, be rooted in my specific experience.

My father was an ardent defender of the virtue inherent to hard work. “Boy, a man can move mountains, as long as he’s trying hard enough!” he’d say, in enthusiasm or anger depending on the events of that day. This was not simple philosophy, but a design he applied to everything he did. My father was never a religious man, but still insisted upon using the stairs in any tall building on the grounds that elevators were, “The work of evil forces.” Though he understood certain limitations (such as our inability to manage our home as a self-sustaining farm) he had very strict rules. He refused to purchase pre-sliced bread. When my brother once came home from college with a load of Wonderbread, my father beat him severely with it. Then made him eat each slice.

Of all my father’s rules and notions of hard work, one remains particularly tragic. Far ahead of modern day environmental concerns, he saw the automobile as a wasteful, needless machine. Eventually, when his “career” made local travel necessary, he went to his workshop and emerged five days later with what he termed the “Feiling 500.” It was a wooden box, with four wheels, that approximately resembled a car with room for six passengers. However, the vehicle had no floor in the places where the legs or driver and passengers sat. It was capable of steering, but the thing had no motor or transmission. It was to be powered by good-old-fashioned-foot-work. In other words, the occupants would move the car by pattering their feet on the exposed road. If this technology sounds familiar, you perhaps remember it from television’s The Flintstones, though my father would enter into rage blackouts anytime somebody made the suggestion that this was his inspiration.

One Sunday, we children all climbed into the vehicle to go to the grocery store. We were all under 12, but one did not require a license to operate the thing. Another benefit, according to my father, who labeled child labor protections as “Pussyism.” It was raining, and the car had neither windows nor a roof, but luckily my father saw being soaked in rain as admirable evidence of one’s toughness. On the way home, the vehicle began to slide on a muddy hill. My sister Katechelle, brothers Tortoise and Showman, and I, wildly beat our feet against the ground trying to reclaim it, but it was no use. We rolled off the road and down a rocky slide. When the car slammed to a stop, and I had my bearings enough to look around, I saw that my sister’s right leg had been crushed, and my brother Tortoise’s left had as well.

That was the last day we used the Feiling 500. My father never repaired it. As a show of goodness, my father now only assigned one child’s work to split between the unipedal Katechelle and Tortoise, but also treated them as one person in all other respects, such as food rations. They were happy just the same. His rhetoric about hard work went on, unchanged, as though the disaster had never occurred.

When I hear my fellows sing the praises of hard work, I often reflect on this story. I wonder if my family had been derelict enough to have engaged in the gluttony of Buick ownership, would my kin and I have a greater total of limbs today? But again, this is only my experience. I can offer only that.

Power Words:

Today I will excuse myself from working so hard, and diffuse or intimidate my critics with sad anecdotes.

Power Words for July 29th: A Useful, Almost Certainly False Belief

Whether it’s evolution, archaeology, the Holocaust, or the continued success of reality TV, we can all look around ourselves and see countless reasons why, nearly definitely, there is no God.

  As an experiment, we can go through our day with this beginning to a question in mind, “Why would God make a world where…” and see just how many different endings we can put on it. It shouldn’t take long before we’ve lost count, and become sad.

  But so what? Don’t we believe in a lot of things that are probably fake? We tell ourselves things that are probably false all the time, for a million reasons. When our favorite politician gives us hope by promising change, we suspend certainty that he or she is a self-interested jerk who will betray any promises made to win our vote. If we want to sleep with somebody purely out of lust, we might tell ourselves that person is kind, that we really connect with them on a personal level, or that they are not a lunatic, all so that we can justify this choice to ourselves. What has reality got to do with it? Didn’t a magic feather make an elephant fly?

  Why should God be any different? If we are helped to be better, more ethical people, with positive outlooks and values, simply because we believe in an all powerful, magical, bearded lord, a fat and bald wise man, a strange animal creature, a loving hippie, or a vague spirit-of-the-universe that we dreamed up in college because we wanted to reject our parents’ religion while maintaining its values without feeling like hypocrites… why should every observable truth get in the way?

Power Words:

Today, I will be a person of faith, and show love to the world accordingly, but without being annoying and preachy or doing any genocides, at least not ones with religious motives.

Power Words for July 23rd: How to be Cool

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Growing up, we’re often tossed into situations that have a very noticeable social hierarchy. We learn who is popular, and who is not. We see the roles that everyone, including ourselves, fall into. We learn, more than anything, who is in charge. The dynamic people from whom others take their cues. In our youth, these clusters can most often be identified as, “the cool kids.”

Power Words

Parks Braum, Cool Bright-Futured All Star Rebel

  To be sure, it is quite nice being one of the cool kids. The character of the cool kids can differ, but inevitably they are equipped with some innate advantage over non-cool kids. They can be attractive, rich, athletic, defiant, cocky, or any combination of these things and other things. Later in life, former cool kids will assert that they did not have this status, but don’t be fooled. An adult friend of mine once said, “I was a real dork in high school. I really liked The X-Files and had tons of acne.” My friend was neglecting to mention that he’d also been a talented pitcher who had a cool car, and lots of sex all the time. My friend may not have been perfect, but he was solidly amongst the ranks of the cool kids.

  It may be hard to believe, but I wasn’t always Brad Feiling, the worldwide self-help expert and industry thought leader, with so much reverence connected to my name. In my high school years, I was most commonly referred to as, “Fag Feilings.” To pun unavoidably: my feelings were routinely hurt by the moniker.

  I am no longer called that, or any cruel name. Today, I am secure in the idea that I’m as cool as it gets. I’m totally cool. How, you ask, did I overcome these childhood wounds? Well, in my heart, long into my success, I still saw myself as the weak, 14 year-old son of a failed fishing promoter, terminally unable to pronounce S and P sounds without spitting, and constantly shunned by girls who laughed me off, claiming I smelled of the rotting sea.

  I was able to forever drown this former me by, in effect, promoting myself to the rank of cool kid. I realized that the cool kids, for all their slick bravado, would be nothing without the lesser kids they pick on, and define themselves as cool in contrast to. After all, we can’t see light until it reflects off of another object, right?

  Today, as the mogul behind and Warm Feilings World Media, I employ several salespeople, security personnel, assistants, and interns. I bark orders at these people, demanding they rush to bring me whatever I need or want, and consistently criticize what I perceive as their flaws, be it in their performance, haircut, or whathaveyou. By doing this, and attacking their self esteem so that I can feel big, I constantly reaffirm my self-image, and can believe everyday that I am cool!

Power Words:

Today, I’m pretty cool. If I forget, all I need do is look at somebody who is not, and target them.

Power Words for July the 20th: Dealing with Rejection

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Nobody likes getting the wrong answer. When an employer tells us we are not right for the position we seek, or someone we are attracted to refuses our offer of a nice date at Chili’s, it is normal to feel hurt. We stomp our feet, even if only in our own mind, and demand answers. Don’t I have an impressive resume, and nice personality? Didn’t I tell her she could order whatever she wanted from their elaborate menu? What’s wrong with me?

Power Words!

Don’t do anything rash, Ginger Geoff…

  The answer is nothing. Nobody always gets what they want, and those who seem to are hateable monsters. When we stubbornly refuse to accept this principle, we only make our situation worse. Our only healthy option is to go forward, seeking a new job prospect, or a new potential mate who would love to be our guest at California Pizza Kitchen. If we are willing to continue, we always find what we’re looking for.

  But what of those people who didn’t give us what we wanted? How do we make our peace with them? Quietly. We bear in mind that on a long enough timeline, life punishes all people. That boss who thought we didn’t measure up will eventually realize they are hopelessly confined to the world of middle management, contract an awful disease, or merely be confronted by the fact that their subordinates (fairly or unfairly) hate them. That date we sought will someday personally experience the universal truth that all old people are unattractive. The most vibrant, beautiful person in youth will one day be a disgusting ghoul, if they don’t die young. In either case, perhaps the subject of our resentment will just gain a lot of weight. The point is, bad things will eventually be visited upon anyone we dislike, because they await all people. We can resign ourselves to a quiet smile when we imagine these possibilities, and a humble one if we should hear about them, or run into a fat version of an old nemesis, knowing our own future is as bright as we choose for it to be.

Power Words:

Today I will know that I’m worth it, even if there are those who don’t realize it, and I will focus on me, leaving it up to life to punish them for their transgressions against me.


Power Words for July the 18th: Schadenfreude

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Schadenfreude. A German word for the sensation of taking joy in the misery or failings of others.



  At one time or another, we all do this. We get passed on the highway at dangerous speeds by a sports car, only to discover it pulled over by the police a ways ahead. We watch a person who once bested us fail, and grin inside, even if we pretend to be sympathetic. We see a fat person drop their oversized ice cream cone. All the better if they pick it up and try to continue eating.

  It’s often the case that this feeling is served with a condiment of guilt. What cruel, unfeeling beasts are we, to amuse ourselves with people’s pain. Shouldn’t we seek to help our fellows in their worst moments?

  No. The truth is, tomorrow we may wake up and step in dog feces, find we’re the subject of a tax audit, or be diagnosed with a terminal disease. If the people we ridicule want to turn the tables and laugh at us when these things happen, have at it. Life is short, and someday when our hearts stop and we become dead, no amount of sympathy shown during our lifetime will reactivate our bodies.

  So for now, when we hear of a senile, old person who became confused and wandered miles from home into the desert, or watch a drunk girl trip on her heels and land mouth-first into a curb, let’s let our laughs come loudly, knowing that surely life has plenty of similar tricks up its sleeve for us!

Power Words:

Today, I will look around my world and laugh with malice at the pain I see others feeling, all with no shame in my game!

Power Words for July the 17th: Keeping it Positive

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One weekday morning, I was drinking alcohol in a public park. It was Spring, and the sun was shining as a comfortable breeze rolled over me. The more I consumed from my paper bag, the more optimistic and at peace I felt.

Spiritual Power Words

Bird always looks so great

  Unexpectedly, a woman approached me. This had never happened before. She was of middle age, and had two children in tow. “You can’t be drinking here.” she said, with no pleasantries. “What?” I asked. “You can’t do that here. It’s illegal. You need to leave or I’m calling the police.” she reiterated.

  I looked her kids over. I did it slowly, and she noticed. She seemed uncomfortable. One of the children was very obese, and the other appeared to have some kind of breathing problem that was loud and constant. Since she had ruined my peace of mind, I decided to give her a piece of my mind. “Look, lady. Giving me the business won’t make these defective kids live any longer.” I said. Her face dropped. A moment later, she let out a string of profanities, then left the park. I did the same, taking seriously her mention of the police.

  Though I was inarguably in the right, I spent the rest of the day feeling bad. I thought of how many more clever retorts I’d have for her, if there had been enough time to think of them. I replayed the situation again and again in my head. It was her who had so clearly been the villain in this situation, so why was I now feeling so negative about it? Where had I gone wrong?

  My mistake had been letting her get to me. I only realized this after some years of spiritual development, but it’s one of the most valuable lessons I’ve learned. The world is full of women in unflattering jeans, well past their physical prime, who would love an opportunity to visit their misery on a person like me, who was just enjoying all that life has to offer. Women, men, children, the elderly, crossing guards, and so many more groups contain such individuals. We can’t control them. All we can control is our reaction, and when we control it, nobody can ruin our day.

Power Words:

Today, I will live my life with confidence, noticing the judgments and opinions of others, but disregarding their worth, and focusing on my own.

Power Words for July the 13th: The Value of Patience, and its Limits

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“Patience, young one.” said the wise master to his student, when the boy complained that, despite all his training and practice, the old man said he was not yet ready to go forth into the world.

  Life is full of frustration. Think of the pot of water whose boiling we await, the lines of customers ahead of us in the supermarket, or the wheeled obstacle-mobiles piloted by others sitting in rows before us on the highway. Whatever our situation is, patience can keep our mind in the present, where it must be for clear thinking.

power words

Michael needs the spiritual power words.

  Although, is this always true? The answer is no. Events in our day may require quick responses, or a gentle push to move things along. Sometimes, a substantial shove is necessary. If we don’t beep our horn, that hundred year-old corpse stopped in front of us may sit on the brakes of her car all day. A customer service operator from our favorite public utility might as well place us on holds for infinity, if we don’t sharply badger them and steamroll their weak will. We are told, in the event of a fire, to remain calm and walk slowly to the nearest exit. However, fire moves very quickly. What will this advice get us? On fire. That’s what. Then we’ll be burned.

  Thus, patience, albeit a virtue, cannot solve all our problems. Sometimes we must take action, and run as fast as we can to that exit, without second-guessing who we might step on.

Power Words:

Today I will know when to exercise calmness and caution, but also when to bend and force situations into being what I want, now!