Just for laughs

For years I sent out a regular electronic newsletter. I long since quit doing that and now administer this website and the one that serves the Ordinary Life community. Check it out at www.ordinarylife.org The weekly talks I give there can also be accessed through iTunes as a podcast. At any rate, over the years I have met many people who share humorous bits with me. Here are a couple I recently received that I share with you, just for laughs.


Men and Depression

When I was in the academic part of my clinical training a professor whom I came to love and respect over the years ended one of his lectures by saying, "Gentlemen (there were no women in this group), if you are lucky, you will grow old, get sick and die. And, so will everyone you love. That's if you are lucky." Here he paused to let the effect of his words sink in. Then, he added, "Have a nice day." Then, he left the room.

I have used his line in numerous talks. It wasn't until years later that I would discover that his sentiments were not original with him. This teaching is at the heart of Buddhism. Life contains inevitable difficulties, disappointments and suffering. If we do not have this teaching thoroughly ingrained into our lives and supported by sound psychological and spiritual work, when the inevitability of suffering comes to us, we can despair and behave in ways that lead to one kind of death or another.

Recently many of us were saddened with the news of Robin Williams suicide. Those who are prominent figures get such attention. An even sadder fact is that every thirteen minutes someone in the United States completes the acts of suicide. The craziness of our ego-driven culture is shown in the way some people speak of suicide. Word comes that someone has attempted the act of suicide and, more often than not, the response is, "Were they successful?" We attach the word "success" to the act of taking one's life.

The largest demographic of people who complete the act of suicide are white males over the age of 35. In my work as a therapist I have developed a speciality of working with men who suffer from "covert" depression. Men who are affected by this kind of depression can easy turn to drugs, alcohol, withdraw into excessive use of video games and/or have affairs in an effort to ease a pain they are not even aware they have. Or, worse: they take their lives.

One of my teachers, Robert Johnson, was fond of telling the story of how a former client of his called him once and said, "I am having a crisis. I need to come in and see you right away. I'm thinking of committing suicide." Robert replied to him, "Good. Come in and let me help you do it without harming your body."

This was Robert's way of saying what every spiritual teacher has offered as a way to a life of more freedom and happiness. "If you want to have life, you must be willing to lose your life."

If a man has not found his purpose (which has nothing to do with work), does not become powerful (which is very different from being strong), does not know how to love (which is not the same as sex) and doesn't learn to be integrated; he is at risk. 

What is required is the courage to do personal work. It isn't easy. The pain left in the wake of those who don't do the work, however, is unspeakable. Especially when the path chosen is suicide.


Quotes You Can Use

The future has several names. For the weak, it is impossible. For the fainthearted, it is the unknown. For the thoughtful and valiant, it is ideal. - Victor Hugo

Courage is the most important of all the virtues. Because if you haven't courage, you may not have an opportunity to use any of the others. - Maya Angelou

In the fight between you and the world, back the world. - Frank Zappa

The secret of discipline is motivation. When a man is sufficiently motivated, discipline will take care of itself. - Sir Alexander Patterson

Ninety-eight percent of the adults in this country are decent, hard-working, honest Americans. It's the other lousy, two percent that get all the publicity. But then - we elected them.

Walt Disney had passed away when Disneyworld first opened, so his widow was asked to speak. She was introduced by a man who said, "Mrs. Disney, I just wish Walt could have seen this." She stood up, then simply said, "He did," and sat down.
Visions are powerful. What's your? - John C. Maxwell

An Attitude of Gratitude

Study after study shows that “an attitude of gratitude” enhances one’s experience of life. Gratitude is like a muscle. The more we express our gratitude, the more grateful we become and the more we have a bright attitude on life. In one study of high school students, the students who showed the highest levels of gratitude had better GPA, less depression and envy. A focus on materialism had just the opposite effect on students. An attitude of gratitude is a virtue that is more caught than taught. To that end I offer you the link below. It will take you to a music video that is less than five minutes long and I guarantee that if you watch it, you will be grateful.

Hint: Watch it all the way through the credits to the end.



The Value of the Enneagram

Right after being licensed to practice, this was decades ago!, I saw a copy of a book on a colleague's desk. It had a complicated diagram on the cover. I inquired about the book and was told that it was about the Enneagram. It looked WAY too complicated for me at the time and I also thought I had enough arrows in my quiver so I dismissed it.

Years later I got involved in working with Richard Rohr who became one of my important spiritual teachers. He was insistent on my learning about the Enneagram but I kept putting him off. Finally, he convinced me to look into it and I did.  I was not successful in being able to determine my own personality type so I hired Enneagram expert, Judy Wilbratte in Houston, to help me.

Now, after years of living with it, I highly recommend it to others. It is perhaps the tool par excellence for psychological and spiritual growth.

To get started, if you know nothing about the Enneagram, download an app for your smart phone. The app is "Know Your Type: The Personality Mapping System." There is a simple test to take to aid you in determining your type.

Now, when Sherry and I lead relationship seminars, we teach about the Enneagram. It is an invaluable aid for couples as well.

There is going to be a conference on the Enneagram in Houston during February and I would encourage you to attend it. Clients of mine who went to the same workshop in Austin, Texas last year gave this conference extraordinarily high marks. You can find our more by going to the "events" menu item on the St. Paul's website - www.stpaulshouston.org

The History of the World in Two Minutes

Dear Folks -

I read recently that over a hundred hours of video are uploaded to YouTube every minute!

This is more, of course, than anyone could possibly watch.

If you are anything like me, you likely get various links to videos forwarded to you by friends and you may or may not take the time to check them out.

Because one of my intense interests is magic, I am the frequent recipient of links to various magic performances. Most of these come with the request, how does he do this? One of the most amazing of these I have received recently is this one - http://www.flixxy.com/incredible-magic-trick-the-lottery-illusion.htm

However, I'm posting this to invite you to see the history of the world in two minutes. This photographic essay of the world's history consists of over 500 images. That's about four images a second. I invite you to watch it. You will not have the opportunity to understand all the images. Perhaps, you won't even see them all. Just watch and let the images wash over you. Don't blink. Then ponder. 

Here is the link to this amazing video -https://www.youtube.com/watch_popup?v=MrqqD_Tsy4Q

I wish you a Happy New Year!

Much love,

Bill Kerley


Jokes for January 2014

I have been submitting jokes to the Houston Chronicle for years. Occasionally some of them get printed. Most don't. Here is what I submitted in December or 2013. I hope you enjoy them -

If the world is getting smaller, why are airplane tickets getting more expensive?

There's no rest for the wicked. And, their neighbors don't get much sleep either.

You can criticize the President. You can criticize the Congress. But, you have to hand it to the IRS.

When we are feeling patriotic, we sing proudly of it. However, I think a home where the buffalo roam would be mighty hard to keep clean.

A friend of mine recently immigrated to America from Cuba. After he obtained citizenship he said, "Yesterday I was a Cuban with very poor English. Today I am an American with very good Spanish."

A bore is someone who opens his mouth and puts his feats in it.

Sometimes when you try to correct a mistake, you just make it worse.
A priest was seated next to a non-Catholic at an interfaith dinner. The woman, trying to make small-talk, asked him why he became a priest. "Was your father a priest?" Then, realizing her boo-boo, she blushed and said, "Oh, I'm sorry. Priests don't have fathers do they?

A buddy of mine says that he has found a doctor who can add ten years to your life. He’s right. I called to make an appointment. The doctor can see me in eight years.

A little boy was struggling along the edge of a country road leading a large cow. A motorist from a nearby big city thought the boy was having a problem and pulled to a stop.

"Where are you going with that animal?" asked the motorist.

"To the bull down at the next farm," answered the boy.

"Can't your father do that?" questioned the motorist.

"No, sir," replied the boy. "I think it has to be a bull.

Bumper sticker I saw: Congress Happens
A man came home from work unexpectedly and found his wife on the couch passionately kissing a midget. He shouted at her, "You promised me you would never cheat on me again!"
She said, "Can't you see I'm tapering off?

A father decided it was time to teach the facts of life to his ten-year-old son. He sat down and nervously explained about the birds, bees and the flowers. When he had finished, the father suggested that the boy pass this information on to his younger brother who was 8. The boy went to his younger brother's room and said, "You know what married people do when they want to have babies? Dad says that the birds, bees and flowers do the same thing.

Why do dragons always sleep during the day?
Because they always fight knights.

I returned to Houston on a flight recently. When I went to pick up my luggage I was told, "Our airline is experiencing an economic downturn. We sent your luggage to Los Angeles, so you'll have to buy a ticket to go pick it up.

My mother believed that you could say anything unkind about someone as long as it included the phrase "bless his or her heart." Some examples:
"I believe she is the ugliest woman I ever did see - bless her heart."
"And, bless her heart, how does she pull a sweater over that nose?"
"And, that husband of hers was the dumbest man. I've seen more intelligent creatures for sale in bait shops, bless his heart."

For the very best Chinese cooking it is best that two people be involved. One does the ingredient preparation that requires so much careful cutting and chopping while the other does the actual stir-frying. If you follow these instructions, you'll never wok alone.

My son told me about a friend of his who is afraid to take the commuter bus to work because it goes through a tunnel.
Yes, he has car pool tunnel syndrome.

Ordinary Life Website Updated

Dear Folks -

I am so please to announce that after over a year of working at it, Richard Wingfield has completed the transition of the Ordinary Life website to a new platform. The site is completely redesigned and is updated on a weekly basis. You can go there to find not only a calendar of events and recent news but also the text, presentation slides and audio files of the weekly talks I give. (We hope in the near future to have an easy search and link for the podcast of Ordinary on iTunes.)

Since writing and giving these talks devoted to spirutual and psychological growth is such a huge aspect of my life and time, I wanted you to be aware of this change.

Check it out by going to www.ordinarylife.org

Be well and much love,

Bill Kerley

The Moral Obligation to Be Happy

Many years ago I came up with a list of principles by which I wanted to live my life. They are not original as spiritual or psychological teachings. They can be found in one form or another in many traditions around the world. These are just the way I put them. The principles of "ordinary life," as I call them are eleven in number. Here they are:

1. We suffer from wanting to be one-up on life.
2. There is no life in negativity.
3. We have a moral obligation to be happy.
4. Our relationship to life's difficulties belongs to us.
5. We are what we think.
6. Life is wonderful.
7. Love is what changes the course of our world.
8. The fundamental purpose of life is emotional and spiritual growth.
9. There is only the present.
10. We get what we give.
11. We are 100% responsible for our lives.

Recently the Rev. Stephanie Warfield spoke to the weekly gathering Ordinary Life and spoke to the subject of our moral obligation to be happy. Since this is the principle I've had the most "push-back" about, I thought that I would post here the text and the audio of her talk. I'm also posting it because those who originally heard it gave it such a positive response. It will, I promise, be worth your time and energy to read it.

Here is a link to the text of the talk.

If you would like to listen to the talk.


Jokes for August 2013

I know a man who has spent his entire life collecting memorabilia about Wonder Woman, Joan of Ark and Florence Nightingale. Apparently he is a heroine addict.

Entomologists, those who specialize in the study of insects, debate whether when a bug hits a windshield the last words it says are, "That's me all over!" Or, "I don't have the guts to do that again."

I called my doctor's office for an appointment. The nurse who answered the phone said that the first available time would be a month and a half from not. "I could be dead by then," I exclaimed. She calmly replied, "If that happens, be sure to have your wife call and cancel the appointment."

Child to teacher: "I don't want to scare you, but my Daddy said if my grades don't come up, someone is gonna get a spanking."

Note to Teacher: Sally missed school yesterday because the whole family had a fever. Even her father got hot last night.

A friend of mine is running for political office. He is referred to as a "dark horse candidate." I asked him how he felt about this. He said, "At least they are referring to me as the whole horse."

Tarzan came home in the afternoon and asked Jane for a double martini. He sat down and polished it off in one gulp. He asked for another and downed it quickly as well. Then he asked for a third. This kept going on until finally Jane got on his case about coming home every day and getting plastered. "Jane, I can't help myself," Tarzan protested. "It's a jungle out there."






Why Marriages Fail

A few weeks ago I was interviewed by an educational video company. They are making a video about marital infidelity and wanted my opinions on why couples - after standing in front of a minister, priest, rabbi or judge and exchanging promises of fidelity - cheat on each other. There is even now a website dating service that caters exclusively to married people. Their motto is - "life is short, have an affair." It has tens of thousands of users.  

In the course of this interview I said, and as far as I know this listing of reasons is original with me, that marriages fail for one of four reasons. Briefly, here they are. 

First, people don't have the time and space in their lives. Marriage takes time and space. It is very like having a garden in your back yard. You need the right kind of soil, the right kind of sunlight exposure and water. Also required is the desire for a garden and the willingness to "work it." 

Second, people based what they want on how they feel. When the "romance is off the bloom," as the saying goes, people think something has gone wrong with their marriage. Romance is a wonderful game to know how to play and it does keep a marriage vital and vitalizing. However, anyone who has been married over six months (sometimes shorter!) knows what it is like to want to cheerfully kill his or her spouse. If we all acted on our feelings, most of us would be in prison. 

Third, people are trying to avoid being hurt. This one is difficult to put into a few words. Here goes: People, all of us, get wounded in childhood. Some more so than others. In an effort to keep from re-experiencing these hurts again in adulthood, some people wall off part of their hearts. As one of my teachers said, "You can be open to love and protect your heart from pain at the same time. 

Fourth, people lack the skill set. Marriage is a skill. My metaphor for a good marriage is that it is like playing tennis. There are a lot of skills - social, physical and mental that are required to play tennis. It doesn't "just happen." The most important skill in a good marriage is knowing how to talk. Most people think they are above average talkers. My experience as a counselor is that most people are not. If you want to gain in this skill, look at Susan Scott's book "Fierce Conversations." It is not a "self-help" book. You'll find it in the management section of your local bookstore.  

Hope you find these suggestions helpful. 

Welcome to my new space

I decided some time ago that my old web site no longer reflected who I am and what I do. I am a spiritual and psychological teacher and I work with individuals and groups. I regularly give "life talks" that are designed to help people live freer, more loving and more meaningful lives.

One of the ways I do this is by aiding individuals in achieving a different perspective and position to look at their lives, their circumstances and the world. As the picture below graphically shows, sometimes we think we are in prison when just a minor shift can show us the way to freedom. 


One of the metaphors I use for my work is that I am like a piano teacher. People come to consult with me to come to hear me speak because they either want to learn to play the piano or they want to learn to play it better.

Even if one found the best piano teacher in the world, just coming to the lesson, would not be enough. One has to practice. 

Consequently I offer a variety of "assignments" and suggestions for people to do between our times together. I recommend books to read and exercises to try. 

I will regularly post here ideas and suggestions for you to use, if you like, for your personal and relational growth.  

One of the features of my old site was a page of jokes and another of quotes I like. When I regularly sent out an electronic newsletter, I would include such. The entries were getting too unwieldy on the old site so here I will offer with each week's post not only suggestions for growth but also items - jokes, cartoons and quotes designed to contribute to our "moral obligation to be happy."

Thanks for reading and I hope you come back often. 


Much love, 


Bill Kerley

Jokes for July - 2013

On my old website I posted jokes that I had submitted to the various places that publish my material. The joke page became overwhelmingly long. Hence I've decided not to do it that way any more. I'll offer a few each month and will try to update the selection regularly. 

Here are a few to get you started for this month of July 2013: 



I recently went to church in another city. The minister's sermon was about the ten bridesmaids sent out to welcome the wedding party. The five wise bridesmaids took plenty of oil for their lamps, while the five foolish bridesmaids brought no oil at all.

The preacher was a fiery speaker and ended his sermon on an emotional note. He cried, "And where would you rather be? In the light with the five wise and virtuous bridesmaids, or in the dark with the five foolish bridesmaids?"

I wasn't the only one who got it wrong.

* * * 

My advice to anyone is: Follow your dreams!

Except that one where you are naked in church.

* * * 

Myra was always rescuing winter birds from the cold. One day her husband, Frank, charged into the dining room where Myra was toweling off a cold, wet wren. He began a loud and vicious tirade about all of the various birds recuperating here and there in the house.

"Please Frank," Myra said reprovingly. "Not in front of the chilled wren."

* * * 

Don't join dangerous religious organizations. Rather, practice safe sects.

* * * 

Father's note to son: "I'm enclosing the $20 you requested from college. Incidentally $20 is written with one zero, not two."

* * * 

The other night my wife and I were discussing our retirement and our future. I asked her, "What will you do if I die before you do?" She thought about it for a minute and said she'd probably share a house with three other single or widowed women who are as active for her age as she is. Then she asked me, "What will you do if I die first?" I said, "Probably the same thing as you."

That's when the fight started.

* * * 

Advice for eating out: Never ask a waitress if she has frog legs or chicken breasts.

* * * 

My brother was a brilliant scientist whose career ended badly. He invented a clone of himself. Since my brother was afraid of public speaking the clone would go and give a talk in his place. But the clone used such foul language that it had to be stopped. One day in a fit of exasperation my brother pushed the clone off of a cliff. He was immediately arrested and charged with making an obscene clone fall.

* * * 

On a recent trip to Germany I ate breakfast at the hotel restaurant. The waitress brought me eggs over easy, toast, coffee and hashed browns. "Where's the sausage?" I asked. The waitress ran back toward to kitchen saying, "The wurst is yet to come."