In an Over-Communicated, Intrusive World, Simple is Better
Ed
Musings by Ed

On Perfectionism:
Even if the world could be perfect for you, you are not perfect nor is anyone else perfect, so there will never be a permanent, perfect match between opportunity, preparedness and reality. When your expectations are too demanding to be met in a perfect world, they can only cause you pain and misery. Being a perfectionist is mentally and emotionally debilitating. If you are a perfectionist, stop it. Never seek perfection, always seek excellence. Excellence is nothing more of less than ordinary people doing extraordinary things.

On Your Potential:
It is possible that you are squandering your ability to develop your potential by spending too much time mooning over what is not right with your life rather than using that same energy to take action to achieve what you want to happen. To do so you must first decide who you are, what it is you want, and why you are here. Once you answer those questions for yourself, you will naturally gravitate toward becoming the person you are, you want to be, and what you are going to do with the rest of your life.
Along the way, you will be feeding your passion rather than trying to discover your passion on an ending journey to nowhere.

On Personal Growth:
There is a huge difference between "professional growth" and "personal growth". Do you know the difference? Virtually all successful people have professional growth. Professional growth is getting more education (a bachelor's degree or an advanced degree, or successfully completing a training course in some specific skill, you before a journeyman carpenter rather than remaining a carpenter's helper). Personal growth is totally different because personal growth requires you to change your thought process and belief system. Learn about how mental maturity, physical maturity and emotional maturity happens in our life cycle. Of every 100 people who could benefit from personal growth, only 10 at most would even attempt to develop personal growth, and, of those 10, only 1 will achieve personal growth because it is so difficult to achieve on your own without professional help of some kind.

On Making Comparisons:
It is not good mentally or emotionally to compare yourself or your job with others because there will always be other people who will be greater or lesser than you regardless of what basis of comparison you use.

On Perception:
Perception is a cruel mistress, and as such is an affair you must end. Perception, without critical thinking skills, can become a reality of confusion. Perception, like fear, is real when it is imagined. There may be no real fear, but if you think there is fear, then the fear may as well be real because it is real to you. You have heard the expression, don't let your imagination run away with you.

On Work Obligations:
You have certain obligations to your employer. They are paying you for your time and talent and expect a return on their investment just as you expect a paycheck for your obligation to them. It is a work relationship in which both parties can benefit. Do not diminish an employer's honest effort to make a living for him or herself and provide others with an opportunity to make a living, no matter how little they may be paid for their effort. If the employee is smart, they will learn new skills and abilities, get training or education, and more on to a better opportunity.

On Responsibility:
The fact you are unhappy with your life, your job or your present situation is not your employer's fault or problem, it is not my fault or problem, it is your fault and your problem, and you must take responsibility for creating and solving your problem. Sometimes professional help can guide to the solution to whatever is troubling you. Sometimes you can, with recognition and acceptance, a discovery process, and critical thinking, resolve the problem yourself.

On Trouble:
When you talk about your troubles, your ailments, your diseases and your hurts, you give longer life to what makes you unhappy. Talking about your grievances merely adds to those grievances. Give recognition only to what you desire. Think and talk only about the good things that add to your enjoyment of your work, and life. If you don't talk about your grievances, you'll be delighted to find them disappearing quickly.

On Being Satisfied:
When Is Enough, Enough? At some point, you must become satisfied with your life, your job and your situation, or you will never be satisfied, and the more dissatisfied you become, the unhappier you will become. At my age, I am practicing gratitude and trying to better appreciate and understand the concept of grace. I suggest that you consider doing the same. When I see someone who is facing a tougher situation in life than I am (a child with terminal cancer, a person with no legs because of an IUD explosion in wartime, or a person who is blind, or deaf, or mute, I say to myself, "There but for the grace of God go I". If you do not have any spiritual growth, get some while the getting is good.

On Fear:
Let's talk about fear again, because it is the same as perception. How do we overcome fear? How do we overcome perception? We overcome both fear and perception by taking action, not the action that speaks to our constant reminder of our problems, but concrete action on to resolve them. And the way to resolve them is personal growth.

On Growing Old:
As a man, a husband, a father or grandfather, you have an opportunity to experience more happiness and satisfaction in life that is not available to someone who is single and without children or grandchildren. The worst thing in the world that can happen to you is to grow old alone, without family and friends.
We are blessed to have children and grandchildren. We need to see another generation coming before we exit our generation.

On the Ordinary:
Do not ignore or discount things that are ordinary or mundane. The mere fact that they are so predictable allows you more time to use your creative skills to develop more opportunities for enjoyment and satisfaction for yourself and your family.

On Getting Information:
"When clients ask me a serious question, I always tell them what I know, not what I think. When it counts, never ask people what they think. Ask them what they know. You do not want to know what people think. The cheapest commodity in the world is opinions. If you don't think so, just ask anyone anything (especially teenagers), and they will give you an answer that is often without any basis in experience, knowledge and/or reasoning. I want to know what a person knows, not what they think."

On the Second Amendment:
"If you don't have to give up your car because others drive drunk with theirs and sometimes kill people in head-on crashes . . . then why do you have to give up your gun because others commit crimes with theirs? What person with a lick of common sense would suggest that we ban cars and driving because some people drive irresponsibly and kill people? The same logic applies to guns."

On Life:
"We become what we think about."

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     A Christmas Story – 4 Stars (Excellent)

    A Christmas Story is arguably the best Christmas movie ever.

    There is no doubt that the 1984 version of Charles Dickens’ A Christmas Carol starring George C. Scott as Ebenezer Scrooge is a worthy contender for the honor. Since I have not seen Fanny & Alexander (1983), I remain a huge fan of A Christmas Story.

    Can there be anything greater than Santa coming to your house on Christmas Eve with the perfect gift of your choice? I think not, especially if it is a genuine Red Ryder 200-Shot, Carbine-Action BB Gun for a 9-year-old named Ralphie living in Northern Indiana in the 1940s.

    Imagine Ralphie’s dismay when his mother, his teacher at Warren G. Harding Elementary School and ultimately even Santa Claus at Higby’s Department Store tell him “you’ll shoot your eye out.”

    A Christmas Story is about much more than whether Ralphie gets the Red Ryder BB Gun he covets. It is about a Midwest family with two boys, Ralphie (Peter Billingsley) and Randy (Ian Petrella), who encounter the normal struggles of growing up.

    Ralphie and his friend Schwartz (R. D. Robb) badger their friend Flick (Scott Schwartz, not to be confused with R. D. Robb who plays the role of Schwartz) into pressing his tongue against a steel post to see if it will stick.

    Flick, who realizes that he might be wrong in saying his tongue will not stick, is left with no alternative when Schwartz whips a “triple dog dare” on him. To save face, Flick learns a very hard lesson and this film gets some great footage in the process.

    Both the boys and the girls watching this drama unfold are horrified at the result and the boys have no problem abandoning Flick when the school bell rings. Flick is left frozen to the post. When their teacher Mrs. Shields (Tedde Moore) confronts them about who is responsible for Flick’s condition, they clam up, realizing “it’s always better not to get caught.”

    All of the boys also must deal with the terrifying Scut Farcas (Zack Ward) and Grover Dill (Yano Anaya), the schoolyard bullies. They get pummeled on a daily basis and act like cowards until Ralphie sees Santa at Higby’s and gets another dose of “You’ll shoot your eye out, kid.”

    Ralphie is so agitated with rejection over his Christmas wish that when he is next confronted by the bullies he flies into a fit of genuine rage, charging the much larger Scut knocking him down and pounding him repeatedly in the face. Scut ends up with a bloody face and 100 times the embarrassment of being beat up. This event would forever after be known as the Scut Farcas Affair.

    I love A Christmas Story because the exact same thing happened to me growing up in the Midwest. I was small for my age and was constantly picked on by bullies until I learned how to fight back no matter what the odds.

    When the Parker family goes out to buy their Christmas tree they encounter a flat tire on the way home. Mrs. Parker (Melinda Dillon) encourages Ralphie to help his father (Darren McGavin) fix the flat.

    Ralphie manages to lose the lug nuts during the tire change, and, in fit of fright, utters the dreaded F-word to the shock of his parents. Mrs. Parker demands to know where he learned the word and Ralphie, desperate to come up with an acceptable choice shoots out a name of a friend.

    Ralphie, of course, has heard his father cuss time and again, quoting that his father could “weave a tapestry of obscenities that is still hanging in space over Lake Michigan.” When their furnace in the basement acts up, Ralphie says “my father dabbled in profanities like an artist dabbles in oils.”

    This cussing incident so resonates with me because I grew up in the same kind of environment. I often believed my stepfather had a 200-word vocabulary and at least 50 of those words were cuss words. I probably heard the F-word 10,000 times before I graduated from high school. I used to tell my friends I could speak 5 foreign languages if I got mad enough.

    A Christmas Story is loaded with other real life events, including Ralphie’s day-dream about being blind from having to suck on soap for cussing, his father winning a prize lamp shaped like a woman’s leg that he displays in their living room window for all to see, and the secret decoder Ralphie gets by eating Ovaltine for breakfast.

    There is also Aunt Clara’s gift of a pink bunny costume that Ralphie is forced to model on Christmas morning, the neighbor’s dogs getting into the house and eating their Christmas turkey, and the surprise on Christmas morning after all of the gifts are opened.

    A Christmas Story is based on Jean Shepherd’s book In God We Trust, All Others Pay Cash. Shepherd does a superb job of narrating this film about his childhood. The film is so well done, so authentic to its 1940s time period, so believable and likeable that it gets my excellent rating without qualification.

    Director Bob Clark is uncanny in his ability to orchestrate this timeless story. Peter Billingsley is a 13-year-old actor playing the role of 9-year-old Ralphie and does so with incredible facial expressions. Young Billingsley is in the moment and totally professional.

    A Christmas Story, a low budget film that was not expected to do well, was released just before Thanksgiving in 1983. By Christmas the film had been pulled from theaters because it was thought to have been “played out.” It was only because of complaints from moviegoers that it was brought back to life.

    The film celebrated its 20th anniversary in 2003 with release of a two-disc special edition. There are fans all over the world that treasure A Christmas Story and will not let it die, and I am one of them. I have lived so many parts of A Christmas Story that I feel it could also have been the story of thousands of other young boys growing up in the Midwest.

    A Christmas Story is on my personal Top 10 all-time list of favorite movies because it exemplifies family values and the joy of living those few precious moments that define us for the rest of our lives.

    A Christmas Story is an amazing film that teaches some of life’s great lessons, including determination, courage, patience, struggle, victory, self-esteem, love, acceptance and belonging. This is truly a classic movie that only those who have lived these experiences will appreciate the most. I am blessed to be one of those people.

    Financial Thoughts on Investing by Warren Buffett

    On Investing: Rule No. 1: Never lose money. Rule No. 2: Never forget Rule No. 1. (Ed’s Note: The great secret to getting rich is getting your money to compound for you, and the larger sum of money you start with, the faster it will compound. No less of a genius than Albert Einstein said that compound interest is the most powerful force in the universe.)

    The Story of My Life

    Copyright © 2015 Ed Bagley

    When we are born, grow and develop, we form a concept of what life has to offer. If we grow up in a single-parent home without a father, have little exposure to an abundance of food, shelter and clothing, live in a low-income housing area, and experience poverty, drug activity and violence, our outlook on life is considerably less positive and encouraging than if we grow up in a home with both a mother and father, have adequate to abundant food, shelter and clothing, live in a high-income housing area, and experience stability, substance, support, encouragement and opportunity, our outlook on life is far more positive and productive.

    We learn quickly our station in life, and as a youngster we also realize that we do not have the knowledge, experience, maturity, means and opportunity to easily overcome our circumstances when at an apparent disadvantage. This is when our concept of what life has to offer now also develops our expectations of what life has to offer, and whether we can, if disadvantaged, overcome our circumstances and begin to develop a new and better life for ourselves. Some of us manage to do this, others do not.

    As we come to understand our exact circumstances and place in life, we face the challenge of what to do next. It should come as no surprise that what happens to us as we muddle our way through the up and down process of growing up with what we perceive to be successes and failures, out attitude determines much of what happens to us.

    If our attitude is negative, our personality will become more negative and people will see us as more as a liability than an asset, someone who is more difficult to satisfy and deal with. We quickly learn that we have enough issues of our own without being burdened by the issues that others struggle with. Life does, after all, present all of us with challenges we need to overcome. It is as common as breathing to say that we all have our crosses to bear.

    If our attitude is positive, our personality will become more positive and people will see us a normal, productive, positive person who is easy to be around and helpful to us. The positive person will become a people magnet, someone everyone wants to be around and work with, that includes everyone except the negative person, who will likely see the positive person as someone more fortunate than themselves. This can lead the negative person to jealousy, envy, anger, frustration, disappointment, and ultimately violence, causing no one to want to be around them or have them as a friend.

    It is easy to say and sometimes harder to understand that attitude drives personality. If you show me someone with a continual bad attitude I will show you someone who is a great candidate to develop a bad personality. If you show me someone with a continual good attitude I will show you someone who is a great candidate to develop a good personality. This is a fundamental fact of life, and what happens to us as we grow up and hopefully mature into productive, well-adjusted adults who can handle duties, responsibilities, commitments and obligations, and raise their children to do the same while becoming well-adjusted children in future generations.

    Abraham Lincoln said that people are about as happy as they make up their minds to be. You will agree that Abraham Lincoln was exactly right when you understand that attitude is a choice in your life. You have a choice to be positive or negative in every event in your life. Some people say that life is about 10% of what happens to you and 90% about how you respond to what happens to you in life. Unless you are one of life’s greatest losers, you will be cheered up and motivated by stories about people who have overcomer great odds to achieve amazing accomplishments.

    This is where our concept of what life has to offer, and expectations of what life has to offer, meets our challenges of what life has to offer. This is about whether our hopes, dreams, aspirations and achievements will be possible for us. One thing is for sure: unless believe we can do something, we never will.

    Our attitude is so key as to whether we will be able to overcome our setbacks in achieving where we want to end up in life. When we believe something becomes possible to achieve, it will happen quicker when we bring a good attitude, ambition, effort, determination, acquired knowledge, skill development, understanding and maturity to the process.

    Clearly, we can accomplish goals when we want to or need to, that is to say, we need a reason to do something, and it has to be a deep-seeded enough reason to overcome the obstacles on our way to accomplishing our goals and desires.

    If you are hungry and starving, and need food to live, you will find a way to get food as an adult without stealing or begging for food. It is a matter of understanding that in any life event, there are only two outcomes: results or excuses. We are ultimately exactly where we are in life as a result of the choices we have made.

    If we want better results, we must make better choices. We may not achieve every one of our goals in life, but we can achieve many of them when we make the right choices at the right time for the right reasons. If you do nothing more in life than do the right thing for the right reason, you will become very successful.

    Success in life is much more than making the most money, living in the best house, driving the best car, or having the best vacations. Monetary and material success can certainly make your life easier, but it has little to with happiness. If you ever expect to be happy, you have to add people to the equation. You must become other-centered rather than self-centered. When you are single, you can afford to be self-centered if not happy. When you get married and have children, it is no longer just about you, it is also about your wife and children, who need your support, love, affection, understanding and encouragement.

    All of us need something to do, someplace to go, and someone to share our life with, in other words, a job with a career or becoming the best housewife and mother, a home with security and love, and spouse or partner who you love as they love you. Albert Schweitzer said it best: Success is not the key to happiness, happiness is the key to success. No one with a bad attitude and a bad personality is happy, everyone with a good attitude and a good personality can enjoy happiness. Again, attitude rules the day, and ultimately where you end up in life.

    Albert Schweitzer found his happiness in Africa. Schweitzer was a theologian, organist, writer, humanitarian, philosopher and physician. In other words, a very smart, accomplished person.

    He received the Nobel Peace Prize in 1952 for his philosophy of the “Reverence of Life”. His philosophy was expressed in many ways, but most famously for founding and sustaining the Albert Sweitzer Hospital in Lambaréné, in the part of French Equatorial Africa which is now Gabon. Sweitzer knew happiness; it was Sweitzer who first said: “Success is not the key to happiness, happiness is the key to success”.