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November 30, 2011

3 Steps To Move From The Darkness To The Dawn… Quicker

by Dr Rob Pennington

“It is always darkest just before the day dawneth.” 
Thomas Fuller, English Theologian and Historian (1608-1661)

    In the middle of the darkness it doesn’t look like I’m about to awaken to a greater dawn. But at such times I have discovered that I have a power I didn’t know I had; a power to shed light into my own darkness. Sometimes I find this power this by calling on a “Higher Power” to light my way. Sometimes it is just sitting down and answering the question, “What one step could I take today that will take me one step closer to my goal?” Sometimes I need to do both.
   My first step in the difficult task of bringing light into the darkness is to remember that I still have power to act constructively, even in the dark, down times. When I remember this, my world opens to more opportunities than the darkness allowed me to see. But it amazes me how often I forget. Hopefully you will be quicker at remembering this than I have been!  Here are three helpful reminders…
    1. What I think has a powerful influence on how I feel.  When I think, “I can’t” but I also think at the same time that “I have to” then I’ve set myself up for failing.  This is a powerful internal conflict that inevitably leads to increased darkness.  But since I am the one who chose to think this way, I am the one who could choose to “think differently” (a motto Steve Jobs left to encourage us all).
    2. Just because I don’t know how, doesn’t mean that I can’t.  That’s a place I used to get stuck.  I tend to think that if I don’t know how to get out of the darkness, how can I possibly believe that I can? But truth doesn’t always sound logical. The obvious truth is that it is easier to figure out how to get of the darkness when I think I can than when I think I can’t.  (Read my  guest post on Tia Sparkle’s YourLifeYourWay.net on not needing to know the how in order to believe I can.)
   Faith is the ability to believe that I can move in a positive direction, especially when I don’t see how it is possible.  This is the practical process of doing more of what works and less of what doesn’t, one step after another.  So, what’s your next step?
   3. It helps to remember to smile, even for no reason. Sometimes I can literally change my emotions just by changing the shape of my mouth. When I feel better, research shows I think better, I’m more creative and I am better at solving my problems. But if I believe that smiling for no reason is crazy, and I am not willing to have people think I’m a little crazy, then I can’t smile unless I have a reason. And everyone else better agree that it is a good reason!  How often does that happen? Not often enough in my life. I learned long ago that smiling for no reason is half the battle.
   I learned it from my high school band and chorus teacher, Mr. Joseph Ervin. who taught us songs from a Broadway play,“Ben Franklin in Paris.” At that age I thought they were just silly ideas. But two songs in particular have stayed with me my whole life: “Half the Battle is Learning To Smile” and “Look for Small Pleasures.”
   Nearly 45 years later, those songs and their simple yet profound messages still come quickly to my mind and heart and tongue. They have guided me in ways I could not have imagined so long ago. They planted seeds that have grown in my  understanding that small achievements lead to large victories. They taught me to remember that even though I cannot control the circumstances, with practice I can control my attitude. My attitude determines my response to the circumstance, ultimately turning a worst experience into a best opportunity. It has happened so many times that I wrote a book about it.
   Maybe these songs will plant similar “good seeds” for you. Maybe as the fertile ground in the parable of the sower, you will be ready for them to take root.  Maybe you can let these songs inspire you as they have inspired me. Maybe today you can take one step out of your darkness and one step closer to the dawning of your own goals.
   Each song, sung by the original cast, is available to be individually downloaded on Amazon.
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