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Ben Franklin’s Daily Routine

Something interesting I found recently: Benjamin Franklin’s daily routine outline.  (This is the same Ben Franklin involved in the founding of the United States, and the same Ben Franklin who said, according to a recent biography, that he expected churches would be replaced by something he called “ethical societies.”)

He framed each day with two questions:

  1. “The morning question, What good shall I do this day?
  2. “Evening question, What good have I done this day?

Imagine what focus we’d have on ethical living if we were that conscious of our intent, and then reviewed what we’d accomplished each day?
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New Year’s Resolutions That Work

How can you make resolutions you’ll actually keep?

Making general resolutions to change (”I’ll lose weight” / “I’ll stop smoking” / “I’ll do something about my job”) rarely results in actually achieving what you resolve.

Those general statements are good starts, though.

Think smart. That’s S – M – A – R – T — a way to look at your goals, to make them work for you. New Year’s resolutions are one kind of goal.
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Experiment in Listening

“All life is an experiment. The more experiments you make, the better.” – Ralph Waldo Emerson

It’s no accident that I gave one of my sons the middle name of Emerson.

The feedback I got from the experiment I tried on the first Sunday – a new kind of meditation, suited for Ethical Culture, that involves talking and listening to another person – was overwhelmingly positive, and I’ll likely be trying that again.  I loved hearing what people found valuable in the interchange. It was different for different people.

What would it mean if we took more time in our lives to really listen to another person? Took some time to deliberately and mindfully practice listening to another, seeing the person in the “now” as we listen, not through a lens of all that we know of the person from the past, not through a lens of what we expect that person to say or do?

And what would it mean if we had others take the time to really listen to us?  Took some time to deliberately and mindfully practice listening to us, seeing us as the person we are in the “now,” not who we’ve been or what they’ve come to expect us to say or do?

For me, this gets to the basic Ethical Culture commitment of attributing human worth to every person we meet — those we know well, those we meet for the first time, those we have never met but have expectations of, been primed by preconceptions (culture? media? experience with others “like” them?).

Some of you who were there said that the question was particularly intriguing.  ”What is something that excites you?”  I chose it for exactly the same reason some of you said you liked it: it’s not something we normally ask ourselves, but it is a question that helps us see what’s really important to us, where we’d like to spend more of our time.

Those of you who weren’t there might try focusing on that for a minute or two, for some self-connection, and then maybe asking a friend if they’d be willing to listen to you for a minute or two — then ask them the same question.

And so I’ll be trying the Ethical Culture “meditation” practice again.  I’d recommend taking the risk of talking to different people each time we try this together — getting to practice talking about something important to you, and listening to what’s important to another person — with a variety of people.  If you find yourself bored or bothered connecting like this with a particular person (I am guessing this is more likely in our imaginations than reality), remember that it’s only a couple of minutes — worth the risk, I think, of even talking to someone you might normally avoid.  Most likely, you’ll be surprised!

And it’s an experiment. If it doesn’t work for a whole lot of people, we can drop it.  If it doesn’t work for you, I invite you to look around and see whether it’s worth letting it work for a whole lot of others, worth your discomfort for a few minutes because it does bring something to all those others.  And if it does work for you — I hope you’ll really enjoy it!

Are Pigeons Smarter Than Human Beings?

We as humans factor in far more than basic probabilities — hope, greed, whatever. I found this article fascinating! Are Birds Smarter Than Humans? – PDF file

Ten Basics of Ethical Communication

Moved: Ten Basics of Ethical Communication