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Essays

Congratulations

Congratulations on release from prison - ways to adapt and manage your new life.

Congratulations! Yes, gentlemen, allow me to congratulate you because, if you got to this last page, I could positively assume that you have read, absorbed, and reflected on the preceding essays, stories, prayers, and maxims, right?

And, if for whatever reason, you have gotten to this point without having done so, I beg you to go back and do so.

Why?

Simply because I put my heart, soul, experience, knowledge, and best intentions behind this booklet to detract you from the foolish and negative mentality I once had and, thus, exclude you from making the same mistakes I have made and avoid the punishment of incarceration, you with me?

Now, I know that with all these new changes in law (Johnson, Beckles, Sanchez-Fernandez, Mathis, etc., etc.), many of you are about to go back to free society, so please, allow me to give you some very sound advice I inspired myself with from the Fair Shake Reentry packet, and it’s coming from the depths of my heart, therefore; please accept and reflect on them.

Going back home could be both exciting and intimidating!

Our attitude may be that is should be right back to normal resettling, resuming the same old routines, and getting back to our old relationships, not so?

Unfortunately, reality says different. As a matter of fact, reality says much more than just differently, so please consider the following:


The first thing I will advise is you to log on to www.fairshake.net and join the Fair Shake community.

If you’re still here and won’t leave for a little bit, you could always add outreach@fairshake.net and interact with this Fair Shake community.

You will be surprised on how much information and assistance that reentry resource center can provide you with, deal?

Second: mentally prepare yourself for the adjustment process. Be prepared for anything… sure enough, do not expect the negative.

Simply prepare yourself to act as positively as you can for the possibility of rejection, depression, anger, betrayal, and disappointment, and for things to be not as you may have expected them.

Third: give yourself a chance to ease into transition. Allow yourself the space and time needed to get used to your new environment.

Don’t worry if it takes you a little while to get used to certain things again. Just take the necessary time to reflect positively on your surroundings.

Fourth: understand that the familiar will seem different. You have changed, home has changed. People, places, and behaviors will now be seen from a new perspective.

Fifth: expect to do some catching up with wardrobe, certain trends, language, and much more.

Sixth: reserve judgments. Reserve all judgments of others, especially the negative ones.

Just as you’d prefer not being judged, do not do it and resist the impulse to make hasty decisions.

Seventh: prepare for mood swings. It may be possible to feel hype one moment and defeated the next. While that may be acceptable, keep your head up, a positive attitude, and a smile on your face.

Eighth: take time for reflection and self-scrutiny. Your most valid and valuable analysis of an event is more likely to take place after thinking carefully and clearly about it.

Consider your true values and determine how you can live within them.

Ninth: respond to inquiries thoughtfully, carefully, and truthfully.

Prepare to greet surprise questions with a calm, thoughtful, and sincere approach. If you find yourself being overly defensive or aggressive, take a deep breath, or two, and relax.

Tenth: other than the Fair Shake community, seek any support network.

Do not isolate yourself.

You are not alone and there are those who really want to help you succeed. Look and you shall find them.

Eleventh: become a volunteer. A great way to connect with your community, build references, and network with people and possibilities is to serve them.

Twelfth: notice how you could live and do without the vices here, keep up the stupendous job and continue doing your best when it comes to that.

Additionally, while preparing for the upcoming challenges, there is a possibility that you will have to prove yourself over, and over, and over… do so. People may make many assumptions about who you are now.

Do not worry about that, simply follow your conscience. People may be very different than when you left… make the necessary adaptations to relate to them. People may expect a lot from you… it’s okay, just do your best at all times.

The way you hoped things would be may be different from the way they are, but accepting and going with the flow that is in line with your values/principles and relaxing will be worth it.

Well, gentlemen, it has truly been a joy to know you and be able to impart and share with you a little bit of my experience/wisdom, and I pray to the Absolute the best of guidance and blessings for each and every one of you.

Thank you dearly for your time and attention and again, God bless!

Ernesto Cole

Changes

Changing through growth and success - becoming a better person from prison with teachings and application.

Hello, gentlemen, and with dear respect and love I welcome you all.

After this last lockdown, I had lots of time to meditate, read, and reflect about many things, but most importantly about how I can apportion some wisdom to this beautiful and noble workshop, so that its efforts will not be in vain for any of us.

Then I thought to myself: “Well, you do enjoy writing because it puts you in a good mood and it exalts your wellbeing, so why not write something helpful and read it to the class?”

Therefore, beloveds, here is the following:

The teachings and intentions of this re-entry workshop are quite simple: to help us all.

All we must do is commit to its information, acknowledge it, and put it to good use, and will undoubtedly reap dear benefits. Sure enough, our minds can be a complicated thing. Most of our lives, our minds have complicated things through their own misunderstandings and false premises.

This may have come about through our environments and the way we’ve been conditioned—and thus, our ego structure has become somewhat complex.

It is not enough for our minds to accept that our essence is love and happiness.

It is more interesting if a lot of complex things have to be explained and understood for the mind to take pride in new discoveries.

Although this workshop is basically about making us aware of recidivist attitudes, the object of the course is such that the mind can participate in it fully. Because, if our minds are entertained long enough and taken out of their comfort zone, subtle processes that require time and continuity can take place. By doing the lessons and reading, reading, reading the manual and its addendum, our minds are kept occupied enough to provide this continuity and, therefore, breakthroughs can occur.

In a sense, this workshop is an unfolding of ever-expanding perspectives until finally we attain the perspective that is all-inclusive and accepting. Many of us suffer from certain beliefs that must be disputed and softened for our minds to be free. We must be flexible enough to flow with what is now, otherwise further growth will be very difficult, if possible.

To succeed in this workshop, we’re not required to believe in something (but ourselves) or even agree with anything (just the results). There’s nothing to accept on blind faith.

The validity of all this lies in our own experiences, our inner process. We don’t have to take anyone’s word for anything. The facilitators are not asking us to believe anything. It is our awareness/consciousness that will actually happen to us.

There is no dogma here, the only way we can truly benefit from the arduous work everyone has put into all of this is to put it into positive practice.

We must develop a vision and an awareness of that which we may presently be unaware of.

The majority of us are absolute beginners of the path of growth and awareness and may not have the slightest idea of what is being discussed here. All that is okay.

Even if we feel certain terms aren’t sufficiently defined, soon enough they will become part of our vocabulary. The important thing for now is that we have committed ourselves to this endeavor and, therefore, put the lessons and what we learn to practice. Very simple, no?


This re-entry workshop is for us to tune in and rid ourselves of the negative ego, become aware, and to understand how to apply its teachings to all the practical aspects of our daily lives. If we do this, we will see how our practices free us from the negative aspects and lead us to live a more fruitful existence.

Yes, gentlemen, I can attest that making changes may prove challenging, since bad habits are hard to break. But if we commit to becoming a better person, I can assure us dear benefits and successes. Just take a long view and accept that we may experience setbacks when attempting change.

Here are some guidelines I’ve come across in my readings to bear in mind when we anticipate the challenges ahead.

  • Remember that change requires committed effort and can cost more than we think, but shaping the life we want is worth the investment. Think about the resources—specially of our time, and what we will put into our change program.
  • Let’s choose methods that are right for us, not the latest get rich and happy quick theory. And, if something we try doesn’t work, let’s be prepared to reflect on the reasons and try something different.
  • Realize that willpower may at times be overrated. Most people cannot sustain willpower in the face of temptation. So let’s avoid actions, no matter how small, that jeopardize our goals.
  • Accept the fact that we almost certainly don’t make it a promise to commit to developing our awareness of ourselves so that we can replace habits that are destructive with ones that are creative and productive.
  • Promise to never accept second-best for yourself when it comes to you.
  • Promise to see and learn from all your experiences and actions.

 

“We change the world not by what we say or do, but as a consequence of what we become.”

 


“Happiness is a habit, not a destination.”


Please absorb. Good luck, and God bless.

Ernesto Cole

10 Secret Tips of Elite Changers

What are the 10 Secret Tips for Changing Your Life?

1 Developing Commitment — Wanting to make positive changes is very different from doing what it takes to make those changes.

The majority of us (if not all) want to succeed in this endeavor, as is evident by enrolling in this captivating program, therefore, I could positively assume we are willing and committed to make the necessary sacrifices, become ego-aware with hard work, and dedicated lots of our time and conscious energy to succeed.

That is why only a few are successful at the elite level.

Success must go beyond status quo.

The commitment is what’s going to help us constantly deliver results. This fortitude of character and strength of will is a quality that could be acquired by us all and become elite in our endeavor of change to help us overcome obstacles and beat the odds.

We can generate true commitment through small changes, setting achievable and practical goals one after another.

2. Visualization — Our actions follow our thoughts. This speaks not only to the power of positive thinking and self-belief, but also to the power of visualizing our success.

Studies have shown (and are still showing) that visualization produces the same muscle action as physical activity—the brain gets trained for activity through mental processes.

In many studies, those who use visualization alone improve their skill as much as those actually practicing the skill.

Amazing, don’t you think?

Many athletes use visualization to help them develop and solidify skills and practice their routines before a big event.

Likewise, we can use visualization to help us achieve our goals of not allowing the ego to decide on our behalf.

When practicing visualization, sit or lie in a comfortable position in a place with little or no distractions. Engage as many of your senses as you can, making an image as vivid as possible. See yourself not just achieving your goal of dominating your ego/negative thought, but enjoying the feeling.

Adding just five or ten minutes of daily visualization can help us achieve tremendous progress. Successful people have a tendency to see their future and then live it to existence.


3. Working With Fear — Everyone experiences fear. What will set us apart is our ability to feel that emotion but work toward our goal regardless.

We will not succumb to the inner critic, entertain limiting beliefs, nor negative individuals.

Fear will be a challenge for us, not a threat or defeat, and defeat merely an opportunity for learning we may fall/fail at times but will refuse to stay down. In order for us to succeed, we must take the risk of seeming soft and to take this risk, we must embrace fear and failure.

But guess what? Our desire to succeed will be greater than our fears. Let’s not over-analyze what we’re doing. Let’s just immerse ourselves in the process and “JUST DO IT!

There are many methods of working with fear and embracing failure. One such method is asking ourselves: “so what?”

What happens if I fail/fall and look soft?

The reality is never as scary as our imagination suggests, and it’s likely that if we did fail/fall, we will learn from it, become stronger, evolve, grow, and do it better next time around.

Additionally, if we did fail/fall, our loved ones (nor ourselves) are not going to laugh at us for attempting the right thing. Life will go on and we will have other chances.

If we do not make our goal of losing X amount of pounds by Y time, the world will not end and we can continue to make progress, right?

Fear is a False Evidence Appearing Real and when learning to recognize when fear is trying to make us small, we will be able to acknowledge it and respectfully continue working toward our goals.


4. Affirmation and Personal Belief — If you let it, doubt can destroy your intentions. We act in accordance with our own self-image, so is paramount for committed change seekers to believe in their own ability and right to succeed.

It is very common in interviews to hear Olympians and world-class athletes talk about their assurance about their ability to win. When you fail to believe in yourself, you create limits to your success.

You must believe to achieve!

Using positive affirmations is an excellent way to work toward self-confidence, self-belief, and owning your deserving happiness and success.

Try to replace your negative self-talk and criticisms with believable positive statements. You can also try creating a mantra you can say to yourself every morning and evening and in times of doubt. I believe that any successful person, including the elite athletes and performers, must dedicate time and energy to work through limiting beliefs.

If you want to achieve the goal of becoming a much more positive individual, you may need to do the same. In addition to plausible positive affirmations and mantras, a journaling practice, can be very helpful.

5. Cultivate Focus — Committed to chance individuals are highly focused on their goals and do not allow for distractions.

Most things come secondary to their goal, purpose, and intent that they create a lifestyle and support system to further their achievement. They have positive a one-track mind and are focused solely on becoming the best persons they can be.


With endless possibilities and opportunities available to us in this environment and all the daily distractions, it can be easy to lose focus on what matters most to us. Let’s take the time to reflect and clarify what it is we desire, what we will need to succeed, the action steps we will need to take, what we may need from others, and what (or who) we will need to give up in order to succeed.

Clarity creates focus, which breeds success.


6. Look For Support — I find it hard to believe of or encounter a committed changer without the help/support of a mentor/coach. Looking for and finding one is the next step to an elite level of change.

A mentor/coach will provide you with direction, advice, and a clear, intelligently constructed behavior program. Mentors/coaches are able to watch and follow your behavior and provide feedback you are unable to provide for yourself.

When you are feeling unmotivated or down, and most of us tend to at times, a mentor/coach is there to keep you accountable. Here in Edgefield are many programs with facilitators that would be more than happy to supply you with assistance.

I can personally vouch for the staff in the Psychology Department, the chapel, and many facilitators of those programs.


7. Practice What You Preach — It is fairly easy to speak nicely and positive, but success comes from the practice, practice, practice aspect of your words.

Whether you dislike putting your ego in check, seeming soft, or feeling disrespected, you must practice what you preach and put a positive perspective on any and all situations that arise if you truly wish to succeed in becoming an elite changer.

Remember, there is what happens and there is what perspective we put on it. We always have a choice and it is up to us (and not the situations or ego) to make it, feel me?


8. Always Keep Learning — Let today’s mistakes be tomorrow’s progress. Committed changers are always developing and honing their skills. The more they know and understand their mentalities, bodies, and egos, the better positive perspective they can give a situation and be much more likely to succeed.

Therefore, let’s read books of self-help and ways to better ourselves every chance we get. If our financial situation is a little tight, the Psychology Dept. and chapel are full of books and videos that can make our time worthwhile in visiting those departments.


9. Hone Your Nutrition and Activity Game — Committed changers know the necessity of a healthy body for the proper function of the mind, thus, they assure themselves a balanced nutrition filled with lots of the most vital nutrient available, water, and an active lifestyle.

Most importantly, proper nutrition is paramount to the success of a healthy endeavor and to succeed as a committed changer, it should not be overlooked. Combine the aspect of a balanced nutrition coupled with clean water and an active lifestyle, and you’re bound to experience successful results in that respect.


10. Create Goal-Supportive Habits — Habits are said to be the things we do without thought, right?

If it is so, the more we can convert to a healthy nutrition and fitness, the controlling/taming of the ego, the clean/respectful usage of speech and thought, the good intentions, and the demonstration of gratitude for the simplest of things, the less willpower we shall require in the future to stay positive and do right.


For the committed changer, following these aforementioned practices of healthy nutrition, working on skill development, visualization… all become habits over long periods of practice and are then logged into their subconscious, and, consequently, they do not spend time or energy thinking about doing the right thing: It’s a given!

In conclusion, comrades, while not all of us may make it to the elite level of changing (or may even want to), we can still benefit dearly from incorporating the practices of those who have… If only to become beneficiaries of the much-alluded-to and acclaimed Law of Attraction!

Success is a wonderful journey, gentlemen, not a destination or goal!

Thank you dearly for your time and attention, and, as always, God bless!

Ernesto Cole

Amateurs and Professionals

Amateurs and professionals - what is the difference?

Not too long ago I read a book that focused greatly on how to find and maintain ways to be happy and content in life, and came across something that echoed loudly within me to the point that I saw it in others as well that I decided to share it with you.

Therefore, if this resonates with you as well, please take heed.

Some of us specialize and devote all our energy to a particular activity, aiming to reach almost professional levels of performance in it. We even tend to look down and criticize anyone who is not as skillful and devoted to our specialty.

While those others prefer to dabble in a variety of activities, taking as much enjoyment as possible from each without necessarily becoming an “expert” in any one of them.

There are two words whose meaning reflect our somewhat warped attitudes towards levels of commitment to physical or mental activities. These are the terms amateur and dilettante. Nowadays, these labels are slightly derogatory. An amateur or dilettante is someone not quite up to par, a person no taken very seriously, one whose performance falls short of professional standards. But, originally, “amateur” from the Latin verb amare, “to love,” referred to a person who loved what he or she was doing.

Similarly, a “dilettante,” from the Latin delectare, “to find delight in,” was someone who enjoyed a given activity. The earliest meanings of these words therefore, drew attention to experiences rather than accomplishments. They described the subjective rewards individuals gained from doing things, instead of focusing on how well they were achieving. Nothing illustrates as clearly our changing attitudes toward the value of experience as the fate of these two words.

There was a time when it was admirable to be an amateur poet or dilettante scientist, because it meant that the quality of life could be improved by engaging in such activities. But increasingly, the emphasis has been to value behavior over subjective states—what is admired is success, achievement, the quality of performance rather than the quality of experience. Consequently, it has become embarrassing to be called a dilettante, even though to be a dilettante is to achieve what counts most—the enjoyment one’s actions provide.

It is true that the sort of dilettantish learning encouraged can be undermined even more readily than professional scholarship, if learners lose sight of the goal that motivates them. Laypersons with an ax to grind sometimes turn to pseudo-science to advance their interests and often their efforts are almost indistinguishable from those of intrinsically motivated amateurs.

An interest in the history of ethnic origins, for instance, can become easily perverted into a search for proof of one’s own superiority over members of other groups. The Nazi movement in Germany turned to anthropology, history, anatomy, language, biology, and philosophy, and concocted from them its theory of Aryan racial supremacy. Professional scholars were also caught up in this dubious enterprise, but it was inspired by amateurs, amid the rules by which it was played belonged to its politics, not science.

Soviet biology was set back a generation when the authorities decided to apply the rules of communist ideology to growing corn, instead of following experimental evidences, Lysenko’s ideas about how grains planted in a cold climate would grow more hardy, and produce even hardier progeny, sounded good to the layperson, especially within the context of Leninist dogma.

Unfortunately, the ways of politics and the ways of corn are not always the same. And Lysenko’s efforts culminated in decades of hunger.

The bad connotations the terms amateur and dilettante have earned for themselves over the years are due largely to the blurring of the distinctions between intrinsic and extrinsic goals. An amateur who pretends to know as much as a professional is probably wrong, and up to some mischief.

The point of becoming an amateur scientist is not to compete with professionals on their own turf, but to use symbolic discipline to extend mental skills, and to create order in consciousness. On that level, amateur scholarship can hold its own, and can be even more effective than its professional counterpart. But the moment that amateurs lose sight of this goal, and use knowledge mainly to bolster their egos or to achieve a material advantage, then they become caricatures for the scholar.

Without training in the discipline of skepticism and reciprocal criticism that underlies the scientific method, laypersons who venture into the fields of knowledge with prejudiced goals can become more ruthless, more egregiously unconcerned with truth, than even the most corrupt scholar.

Therefore, dear friends, let’s return to the origin of doing whatever it is we decided to do simply for the love of it, for the enjoyment we derive from it, and not because we’re seeking praise, fame, or anything material—but because we consider ourselves true amateurs or dilettantes.

Thank you very much for your attention and God bless.

Ernesto Cole

Relationships

The source of prosperity and success in relationships.

Greetings.

After being around for a while in this environment and others, I must admit that after falling victim/culprit to this flaw, I owe you the wisdom and experience learned from it and set the “record” straight, and hopefully you will reflect on it for the better of you and your relationships.

Additionally, having recently read a great book that touched expertly on this topic, I took it as a sign to share it with you.

Every single on of us, without exception, has a relationship with either our parents, progeny, siblings, significant others, coworkers, supervisors, friends, and so forth—right? Yet, not matter how pleasant some are, it can be very tiresome, draining, unfulfilling, or simply very miserable when they break down. And unfortunately, this can occur anywhere and to anyone, are you with me?

Therefore, we must realize, or accept, that we cannot, or should not, change other people. All we can do, or should do, is change ourselves, don’t you think? Secondly, when something someone does seems annoying, the annoyance is not in the thing being done, but in our response to the thing or action. In relationships, the most usual problem is when our egos are “hurt.”

We become annoyed or upset at the “homeboy,” the officer, the co-inmate, or whomever, because their attitude is such that it diminishes the importance our ego has attached to ourselves. We get annoyed at decisions or actions because they do not go exactly the way we, (our ego), would want them to go.

Someone makes impertinent remarks, or even loses his or her temper, and we retaliate—again the retaliation depends on the extent to which the ego feels threatened. The message, then, is that generally annoyance—or the loss of positive demeanor—in any relationship results from a feeling of the ego being threatened where the threat is felt certainly at both the subconscious and conscious level.

Consequently, even when the ego does not feel overtly threatened, human relationships can be improved here and there by deliberately going out of our way to be kind, loving, and helping others, or simply just listening and talking to them in a friendly way no matter how threatening or uncooperative they may appear.

This simply means maintaining a happy and loving disposition within ourselves no matter how others react. This partly comes from self-confidence, but it also comes from feeling relaxed—since relaxation brings with it contentment. Relaxation and annoyance are opposites. You cannot be relaxed and annoyed or angry at the same time.

Hence, the more you practice being relaxed at all times and in all situations, the more content you will be. Sure enough, I could continue this conversation and attempt to bless you with the way I practice to keep myself relaxed at all times, but will conclude with telling you that I am around and at your disposal if you’re interested in this little secret, deal?

Much love and as always, God bless!

Ernesto Cole

Acceptance

How to accept things that you cannot change and overcome difficulties - inprisonment, suffering, and difficulties.

Dear Lord, grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, the courage to change the things I can and the wisdom to know the difference.


The reason I opened this with prayer is because of its meaning and the fact that I was reading an excellent book afforded to me by a dear friend and it resonated so vividly with one of my many values that I decided to share with everyone.

Therefore, without further delay, here’s what it alluded to and to what I understand by it— if you truly want your life to flow and change for the better, you need to accept and appreciate everything that shows up for you—even and especially the things you can’t control, don’t want, and positively abhor!

Sounds contrary, right? Well, maybe a little counter-intuitive, I agree. Still, let me share a very important secret with you, based on my own experience and that of so many I have read from and about.

If you can implement this aspect of accepting and appreciating what you have into your life, even if other changes prove too challenging, you will dramatically enhance the quality of your life.

Allow me to explain. Letting go of resistance and getting into acceptance is a way of allowing the flow in your life. Mastering the art of acceptance doesn’t just make you feel better in a bad or challenging situation—it really does. The deeper truth is that everything that happens to you has potential to open you to even more joy and happiness, especially the seemingly bad things in your life.

You have no doubt already had experience of a twist of fate for the worse that turned out to be for the better. Perhaps you were made redundant and with the changes in law, your sentence is shorter. Be aware now that it wasn’t an exception. It IS THE RULE! Shifting your perspective so that you want and accept what you have, even the so-called negative aspects, will pay dear dividends in your life.

The trick is in stepping back and identifying the lesson in whatever has happened and allowing yourself to change, grow, and evolve. You cannot do that without letting go of resistance and getting into acceptance. Beyond that then, if you come to believe that everything has a positive intention for you, then you move in a state of being appreciative of all that happens, because you trust and hop that “silver lining” is there to be found, and it will be worth more than all the heartache.

Trust and Hope are key factors here, because it might indeed take some time before you can see how the lesson plays out for the positive.

Are there exceptions to this? The really painful events of life, like the death of a loved one, don’t have silver linings. Even so, you can allow the process of grieving and coming to acceptance to change you in a healthy and positive ways. You may come to appreciate and value your life and relationships more, knowing that every moment is precious.

So a key to flowing and enjoying life is wanting and accepting what you already have, for the love of it, or the deeper gift, know that by doing this it opens up the potential to create more, or different, or better.

And when it feels impassible to want what has happened, know that by accepting it, you can allow yourself to grow and evolve.

Wherever you are right now is perfect, even when it is not!

And if that scrambles your brain, that’s key as well. Take a moment now to reflect on that statement and begin to feel how it may be true to you.

Thank you and God bless!

Ernesto Cole

Thank You for Your Time

Are you making the best use of your time? Are you thankful for how you spend your time?

A young man learns what’s most important in life from the guy next door.

It had been some time since Jack had seen the old man. College, girls, career, and life itself got in the way.

In fact, Jack moved clear across the country in pursuit of his dreams. There, in the rush of his busy life, Jack had little time to think about the past and often no time to spend with his wife and son. He was working on his future, and nothing could stop him.

Over the phone, his mother told him, “Mr Belser died last night. The funeral is Wednesday.”

Memories flashed through his mind like an old newsreel as he sat quietly remembering his childhood days.

“Jack did you hear me?”

“Oh, sorry, Mom. Yes, I heard you… it’s been so long since I thought of him. I’m sorry, but honestly I thought he died years ago,” Jack said.

“Well, he didn’t forget you. Every time I saw him he’d ask how you were doing. He’d reminisce about the many days you spent over his side of the fence, as he put it,” Mom told him.

“I loved that old house he lived in,” Jack said.

“You know, Jack, after your father died, Mr Belser stepped in to make sure you had a man’s influence in your life,” she said.

“He’s the one who taught me carpentry,” he said. “I wouldn’t be in this business if it weren’t for him. He spent a lot of time teaching me things he thought were important. Mom, I’ll be there for the funeral,” Jack said.

As busy as he was, he kept his word. Jack caught the next flight to his hometown. Mr Belser’s funeral was small and uneventful. He had no children of his own, and most of his relatives had passed away.

The night before he had returned home, Jack and his mom stopped by to see the old house next door one more time.

Standing in the doorway, Jack paused for a moment. It was like crossing over into another dimension, a leap through space and time. The house was exactly as he remembered. Every stop held memories. Every picture, every piece of furniture… Jack stopped suddenly.

“What’s wrong, Jack?” his mom asked.

“The box is gone,” he said.

“What box?” Mom asked.

“There was a small gold box that he kept locked on top of his desk. I must have asked him a thousand times what was inside. All he’d ever tell me was the thing I value most,” Jack said.

It was gone. Everything about the house was exactly how Jack remembered it, except for the box. He figured someone from the Belser family had taken it.

“Now I’ll never know what was so valuable to him,” Jack said. “I’d better get some sleep. I have an early flight home, Mom.”

It had been about two weeks since Mr Belser died. Returning home from work one day, Jack discovered a note in his mailbox. Signature required on a package. No one at home. Please stop by the main post office within the next three days, the note read.

Early the next day Jack retrieved the package. The small box was old and looked like it had been mailed a hundred years ago. The handwriting was difficult to read, but the return address caught his attention. Mr Harold Belser, it read.

Jack took the box out to his car and ripped open the package.

There inside was the gold box and an envelope. Jack’s hands shook as he read the note inside.

“Upon my death, please forward this box and its contents to Jack Bennett. It’s the thing I valued most in my life.” A small key was taped to the letter. His heart racing, as tears filled his eyes, Jack carefully unlocked the box. There inside he found a beautiful gold pocket watch.

Running his fingers slowly over the finely etched casing, he unlatched the cover. Inside he found engraved the words, Jack, thanks for your time! Harold Belser.

“The thing he valued most was… my time,” Jack said.

Jack held the watch for a few minutes, then called his office and cleared his appointments for the next two days. “Why?” Janet, his assistant, asked.

“I need some time to spend with my son,” he said. “Oh, by the way, Janet, thanks for your time!”

Thank you for your time - how you spend your time with those around you matters most.

Think about this. You may not realize it, but it’s 100% true.



1. At least two people in this world love you so much they would die for you.


2. At least fifteen people in this world love you in some way.


3. A smile from you can bring happiness to anyone, even if they don’t like you.


4. Every night, someone thinks about you before they go to sleep.


5. You mean the world to someone.


6. If not for you, someone may not be living.


7. You are special and unique.


8. When you think you have no chance of getting what you want, you probably won’t get it, but if you trust God to do what’s best and wait on His time, sooner or later, you will get it or something better.


9. When you make the biggest mistake ever, something good can still come from it.


10. When you think the world has turned its back on you, take a look — you most likely turned your back on the world.


11. Someone that you don’t even know exists loves you.


12. Always remember the compliments you received. Forget the rude remarks.


13. Always tell someone how you feel about them — you will feel much better when they know and you’ll both be happy.


14. If you have a great friend, take the time to let them know that they are great.

Pass this story along to all those you care about and you will certainly brighten someone’s day and might change their perspective for the better.

Tell everyone, “Thanks for your time.”

Ernesto Cole

Every Place Can Be a Holy Place

Mahatma Ghandi - Life in prison - learning solitude, spirituality, meditation through time alone with God.

We are behind walls in prison. For awhile, we are being punished for our actions. However, we should understand that the place where we are living right now could be made into a perfect place. We came here with all our sins and faults, but when we leave we could be free of all our faults. We could be pure.

In India, there are holy rivers and it is said that if you take a bath in them you become free of sins. In the same way your jail could also be a holy place.

You must have heard of Mahatma Ghandi — who after being militant and then fighting against injustice and for freedom, was put in prison. There he learned the teachings of peace and nonviolence, and came out of prison as a great being who freed India without using weapons.

There was another great leader called Lokmanya Tilak who was imprisoned for writing articles and “instigating” people against the government to “break” the law, and to disturb the “peace.” He was sentenced to a year and a half of rigorous imprisonment and came out a much more enlightened and greater force to be contended with.

The Great Yogi Aurobindo became enlightened practicing yoga, reading the Bhagavad Gita (one of the most sacred yoga scriptures), and meditating while being in total solitary confinement when he was in jail. The composer Bhagavad Gita, Lord Krishna, was an incarnation of God, and he was born in prison before having to be smuggled out and not be killed by the ruling leaders at the time.

And let us not forget the great Martin Luther King Jr., and Nelson Mandela — who served over two decades in prison while refusing to be released with the condition of compromising his principles and determination.

Therefore, in order to practice spiritual pursuits, people often look for a place that appears like a prison, a place where nobody comes and where nobody will bother them. However, they don’t call themselves prisoners. They call themselves lovers of solitude. If we think very carefully, we will realize that by leading us to prison, God has given us an opportunity to think of ourselves and to remember Him.

In prison, we can lead a disciplined life. We get our food on time. We go to bed on time. We get our clothes on time. And even while living in jail, we can pursue spiritual practice. We can meditate—we can think of our inner self. Hence, let’s not belittle a jail, and make the best of it.

Everything depends on our attitude. If we change our attitude toward a place, then no matter where we are, that place could become heaven for us. If we have full faith in God, then every place, every moment, and every event of our life will begin to feel sublime.

What prison are you living in? What is the value of solitude? What is your attitude? Story on God's goodness - Wisdom from within by Ernesto Cole.
Please contemplate this next story.

Once there was a great prime minister in India who had this kind of understanding. If a parent said to him, “My son has died,” he would say, “Good. Whatever God does is for the best.”

If a woman said to him, “My husband died,” he would say, “Good. Whatever God does is for the best.”

People reacted violently against him. They thought he was crazy and were constantly hatching plots to remove him from power.

One day the king was being shaved by his barber and happened to doze off. While cutting the king’s nails, the barber accidentally cut off the tip of his finger. The prime minister’s enemies thought that this was a wonderful opportunity to teach him a lesson.

They rushed to him and said, “Prime minister, the barber has cut off the king’s finger.”

The prime minister said, “Good. Whatever God does is for the best.”

The prime minister’s enemies went to the king and told him what the prime minister had said. The king called the prime minister into his presence and said, “You fool. You have been eating my food and living on my money, and now you have the nerve to say that it’s a good thing my finger was cut off?” He ordered his men to put the prime minister in jail and give him only dry bread to eat. “Now you’ll see whether what God does is for the best,” he said.

The prime minister sat locked up in his cell and calmly remembered God’s name. He wasn’t upset, and when people would go to visit him and ask him, “How are you?” he would say, “Very good. God has put me here and it is good for me.”

A few days later, the king went off to the forest to hunt. On his way he met a gang of bandits whose leader was a worshiper of the goddess, Kali. The bandit leader needed to sacrifice an important person to the goddess, so he kidnapped the king and dragged him to the temple as a sacrificial offering.

The bandits examined the king thoroughly to see if his body was whole, because only one whose body is perfect can be sacrificed to the goddess. As they examined him, they noticed that the tip of his finger was cut and said, “His body is impure. He is not worthy of the goddess.”

So the king was released. Immediately he realized that if his finger had not been cut he would have lost his head. He remembered what the prime minister had said, “Whatever God does is for the best,” and recognized he had been right.

The king returned to his capital and had the prime minister released from his cell. When the prime minister came before him, he told him what had happened and then asked, “It was good for me that my finger was cut, but was it good for you to have been locked inside this cell, living on dry crumbs?”

The prime minister replied, “Your majesty, if you had not locked me in this cell, I would have gone hunting with you, and the bandits would have grabbed me. They released you because your finger was cut, but they would have sacrificed me because my body is whole. Whatever God does is for the best.”

God's will is best - how to trust in God - is His will truly the best for us?

If that could be our attitude in prison, then prison would be like heaven, not like hell. Our experience of the world depends on our understanding. Because of our narrow understanding, we must be experiencing a lot of pain, but we should realize that it is not only we who are experiencing this pain. We may think that only we are prisoners, but other people are also prisoners. We are in a small prison, but others are in the big prison outside. When will they be released?

All these people are bound by their own narrow understanding and by the noose of their Karma — the consequences of what they’ve done.

A wealthy person is bound by the noose of his wealth. A poor person is bound by the noose of his poverty. An office holder is bound by the pride of his office. A great leader is bound by the noose of his own leadership. And a person in authority is bound by the noose of his own authority.

Everyone who lives in this world is a prisoner.

What about the policeman and guards who are here with us? Of course, they don’t think that they are prisoners, but what do they experience?

What about the jailer who has power over us? Is he happy? We are all in the same place.

So let’s change our understanding. Think that you are a yogi and that you are pursuing your sadhana (inner peace) in this particular place and at this particular moment. Immediately you will experience great joy.

We may have made many mistakes. Because we are between these walls, we remember them. People who are outside also make mistakes, but since they don’t consider themselves prisoners, they forget them.

The difference lies in our understanding. Our entire mental condition is based on understanding that we are prisoners. And because of that understanding, painful thoughts arise and we keep burning within. If we change our understanding, we will be free in a minute. If we develop love for God, then even while living in a prison we could be like a priest.

Become absorbed in the thought of Consciousness — the thought of God, just as you are now absorbed in the thought of being a prisoner. Sit quietly with great peace. Try to know yourself and waves of joy will arise inside you. Experience Consciousness above you, below you, behind you.

Inside there is great divinity. Just as a person absorbed in deep sleep does not experience pleasures or pain—only great peace, so, one who is absorbed in meditation does not experience the pleasures or pain of the outer world. He experiences only the bliss of heaven.

It is with great respect and great love that I welcome you all with my heart. I don’t say this out of sympathy with you because you are in jail. I say this with understanding that God who is in me is also in you. If you direct your attention within, you will discover Him and be transformed.

Ernesto Cole

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