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September 23, 2000
Column #995

"LISTS TO LIVE BY"

     PORTLAND, Ore. - Dr. Steve Stephens is a psychologist, a Portland Christian radio show host, and author of two books that caught my eye last week. 

     The first is called ''Lists To Live By: For Everything That Really Matters.'' The lists were compiled from many sources by Dr. Stephens, Alice Gray and John Van Diest. It did not sound particularly compelling until I began to read the lists which I found thoughtful and often profound.

     For example, on the wall of a concentration camp were found three sentences: 

     "I believe in the sun even when it does not shine.

     "I believe in love even when it isn't shown.

     "I believe in God, even when he doesn't speak."

     St. Paul wrote to the Philippians that they should let their minds dwell on these eight things: 

''Whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable, whatever is excellent, whatever is praiseworthy.''

     Most of the lists are longer. Often I will quote only an item or two from each to whet your appetite for more. For example, Theodore Roosevelt wrote ''10 Reasons for Going to Church'' for ''Ladies Home Journal'' in 1917. He said church attendance cultivates ''the habit of feeling some responsibility for others and the sense of braced moral strength which prevents a relaxation of one's own moral fiber.''

     Here are two of 20 questions you can use to strike up a conversation with a child:

''What makes you laugh? Has there ever been a time when you were proud of yourself?''

     How can you stay young while growing old? Five of 15 items:

"Applaud others. Exercise daily. Play with children. Take risks. Give generously.''

     An unknown author offered 12 sure-fire ways to raise delinquent children. The first:

"Begin from infancy to give the child everything he wants. In this way, he will grow up to believe the world owes him a living.''

     Another unknown author suggested six wise steps to successful communication, that can be remembered using the word LADDER: 

     Look at the person speaking to you.
     Ask questions. 
     Don't interrupt. 
     Don't change the subject. 
     Empathize. 
     Respond verbally and nonverbally.

     At the end of the Civil War this prayer was found folded up in the pocket of a Confederate soldier: 

''I asked God for strength that I might achieve; I was made weak that I might learn humbly to obey.''

''I asked for health that I might do greater things; I was given infirmity that I might do better things. 

''I asked for riches that I might be happy; I was given poverty that I might be wise.

"I asked for power that I might have the praise of men. I was given weakness that I might feel the need for God.

''I asked for all things that I might enjoy life; I was given life that I might enjoy all things. 

''I got nothing I asked for, but everything I hoped for. Almost despite myself, my unspoken prayers were answered. 

"I am among men, most richly blessed.''

     The Prevention Index lists 21 factors for a long and healthy life. The most important:

''Not smoking. Not smoking in bed if you do smoke. Wearing your seat belts.''

     Columnist Abigail Van Buren offers four ways to grow old gracefully:

''Fear less; hope more. Eat less; chew more. Talk less; say more. Hate less, love more.''

     Mother Teresa asked to be delivered from 16 things, three of which are

''Deliver me...From the desire of being loved.

''From the desire of being extolled.

''From the desire of being honored.''

     Dr. Stephen's other book, ''Understanding the One You Love: 101 Questions to Strengthen Your Marriage,'' is similarly succinctly written and very provocative. The slender paperback is designed to help couples add spark to their times together. Each question has a series of follow-up questions, which my wife and I used fruitfully last weekend. Ask your spouse:

''What is romantic to you? The most romantic song, movie, place, perfume, flower, book?

''What is the nicest thing I've ever said to you? What was your response?

"What was the nicest thing you've ever said to me? What motivated you to say it?

''What have I done that has upset you the most? What have you done to resolve it? What have I done to resolve it? What have you done that has upset me the most?

     This little volume added spice to our romantic get-away weekend to the rose-laced Victoria, British Columbia. 

Copyright 2000 Michael J. McManus.

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