The Difference Between Heaven and Hell
A story is told of a man who prayed to know the
difference between heaven and hell. An angel came
to take the man to see for himself. In hell, the man
saw a huge banquet table overflowing with
beautifully prepared meats, vegetables, drinks, and
desserts. Despite this bounty, the prisoners of hell
had withered, sunken looks. Then the man saw why.
The poor souls in hell could pick up all the food they
wanted, but their elbows would not bend, so they
could not place the food into their mouths. Living
amidst all that abundance, the citizens of hell were
starving. Then the angel whisked the man to heaven,
where he saw another endless table heaped with a
similar bounty of splendid food. Amazingly, just as in
hell, the citizens of heaven could not bend their
elbows to feed themselves. “I don’t understand,” the
man said. “Is heaven the same as hell? “The angel
only pointed. The residents of heaven were healthy,
laughing, and obviously happy as they sat together
at the banquet tables. Then the man saw the
difference. The citizens of heaven were feeding each
In this activity, you will explore your beliefs and behaviors
regarding giving and receiving.
1. Write and complete the following ten sentence stems:
1 A specific situation when someone assisted me was . . .
2 A specific situation when I assisted someone else was . . .
3 A specific situation when I made assisting someone else more
important than my own success and happiness was . . .
4 When someone asks me for assistance I usually feel . . .
5 When I think of asking someone else for assistance I usually feel .
6 What usually gets in the way of my asking for help is . . .
7 If I often asked other people for assistance . . .
8 If I joyfully gave assistance to others . . .
9 If I gratefully accepted assistance from others . . .
One goal that I could use assistance with today is..
2. Write about two (or more) choices you
could make to create a stronger
support system for yourself in
college. Consider the choices you could
make to overcome the challenges and
obstacles to your success. Consider also any
resistance you may have about taking steps
to create a support system. Dive deep as
you explore each choice fully.
Student story 16
The biggest challenge to my success has always been me. Any time I had a
problem, I would try to solve it on my own because I didn’t want people to think
less of me. I probably got this belief from my father, who is very independent.
While pursuing an A.A. degree in Horticulture at Haywood Community College a
few years ago, I dropped many classes because I was reluctant to ask for help
from fellow students or the instructors. I was able to graduate, but only barely.
Later, while working with a landscaping company, I decided to return to school
to advance my career in horticulture. I needed some credits to enter a bachelor’s
program, so I enrolled at Asheville-Buncombe Technical College. In my first
semester, I registered for a night chemistry class and an online student success
course. When I registered, I was asked if I really wanted to take the chemistry
course. They said it’s the most dropped class every semester. With that news, I
knew I needed to change my strategies to do better, but I didn’t know what I was
doing wrong. In the first week of the success course, we took the On Course selfassessment, and I scored lowest on interdependence. Needless to say, I wasn’t
The book convinced me that being overly independent and solitary in my studies
isn’t always a good thing and could possibly keep me from achieving my goals. I
decided to commit myself to being more interdependent. I started showing up
early for chemistry which, as I had been warned, was very challenging. I asked
the instructor for assistance on homework that I couldn’t understand. He’d take
a minute to write out an equation on the board or help me see how to get it. After
he aimed me in the right direction, it would often click for me. There were other
chemistry students who came to class early and hung around outside. When I
overheard them discussing the course, I joined them. It soon turned into a study
group, which further helped me to come out of my shell. The online forums in
our success class were also good stepping stones towards my opening up to
others. The online discussions helped me overcome the shyness or nervousness
that caused me to avoid most interactions. In both classes I made new friends
that I may not have even talked to before. Instead of struggling as I had at
Haywood, I got As in both of my classes. Without the success class and On Course,
I probably would have struggled with chemistry or dropped it.
Interdependence has also helped me professionally. Working as a supervisor for
a local landscape company, I always thought I needed to tackle every task by
myself so I’d get praise from my bosses for being efficiently independent. But a
lot of times I wasn’t achieving the results that my bosses wanted. Employing
interdependence was hard for me at first but has become easy. Almost any time I
ask for help, I receive it. Recently, I was trying to repair an irrigation line break.
I’ve made the same type of repair many times alone, but it normally took a lot of
time. This time, I asked a fellow supervisor to help keep water pumped out of the
hole as I made the repair. If I hadn’t asked for help, it would have taken much
longer and the repair may have even failed. Then I would have had to fix it again,
and my boss wouldn’t have been happy. I’ve also been helping others as much as
possible. Some mornings, the nursery manager gets behind in loading trucks, and
I pitch in to ensure all the loads are ready before our crews arrive. I’ve also been
working closer with the secretaries to make sure all time logs are returned on
time and tracking down any that are missing. There have been big improvements
in all these relationships since I’ve been employing interdependence!
After completing my courses at A-B Tech, I transferred to North Carolina A&T as
a junior in Agricultural Education. I’m still working full-time with the
landscaping company while going to school part-time. I have about a year left to
get my bachelor’s degree, and then I plan on getting a master’s with the goal of
working in a state cooperative extension program. At NC A&T, I have all As and
only one B. I was never a big fan of asking for help, but I must say that the
benefits of interdependence have made me a believer.
1.Mitch learned that interdependence made him a more
successful student. How could you use the principles of
interdependence to improve the quality of your own life,
whether in the classroom, at work, or in your personal
2. Mitch discusses how he identified a knowledge of
chemistry as an important skill because it was related to
his personal goal of a career in horticulture. Think for a
moment about your own long-term goals and dreams.
Write briefly about the people and learning opportunities
in your area. Where could you learn the skills you need?
Who could help you along the path to success?
Active listening not only strengthens relationships with people, it strengthens
our understanding of new concepts and helps us learn. In class, successful
students clear their minds and prepare to hear something of value. They reflect
the instructor’s ideas, confirming the accuracy of what they heard. When
confused, they ask the instructor to expand or clarify, either in class or during
the instructor’s conference hours. Using a Creator mindset, these students
actively listen to understand. And, ultimately, they record their understanding in
their notes. Obviously, the more accurate the information is in your class notes,
the more you will learn when studying.
So, choose today to master active listening. You’ll be amazed at how much this
choice will improve your relationships, your learning, and your life.
In this activity, you will practice the skill of active listening by writing out a
conversation with your Inner Guide. As discussed earlier, thoughts are
dashing through our minds much of the time. Writing a conversation with
your Inner Guide applies this knowledge in a new and powerful way. First, it
helps us become more aware of the thoughts that are guiding our choices.
Second, writing this conversation encourages us to sort through confusion and
find a positive solution. Third, it reminds us that we are not our thoughts and
we can change them whenever doing so would benefit us. And, finally, writing
this conversation with our Inner Guide gives us practice with an important
mental skill used by highly intelligent and adaptive people: metacognition.
Metacognition is the skill of thinking about our thinking. Developing
metacognition helps us see where our thinking is flawed. It allows us to
change our thinking to achieve better outcomes and experiences. If you’ve
ever talked to yourself while working on a problem, you were probably using
metacognition. You may find writing this dialogue to be a new (and perhaps
unusual) experience. However, the more you practice, the more you’ll see
what a valuable success skill it is to have a conversation with yourself as an
active listener. And, of course, becoming an active listener with others will
strengthen those relationships immeasurably.
1. Write a conversation between you (ME) and your Inner Guide
(IG) about a problem you are facing in college. Label each of your
IG’s responses with the listening skill it uses: silence, expansion,
clarification, reflection (remember to reflect feelings as well as
thoughts). Let your IG demonstrate the skills of active listening
without giving advice.
Here’s an example of the beginning of such a conversation:
ME: I’ve been realizing what a difficult time I have asking for
IG: Would you like to say more about that? (Expansion)
ME: Well, I’ve been having trouble in math. I know I should be
asking more questions in class, but . . . I don’t know, I guess I feel
dumb because I can’t do the problems myself.
IG: You seem frustrated that you can’t solve the math problems
without help. (Reflection)
ME: That’s right. I’ve always resisted that sort of thing.
IG: What do you mean by “that sort of thing”? (Clarification)
ME: I mean that ever since I can remember, I’ve had to do
everything on my own. When I was a kid, I used to play alone all
IG: Uh-huh. . . . (Silence)
ME: As a kid, I never had anyone to help me. And I don’t have
anyone to help me now.
IG: So, no one is available to help you? Is that how it seems?
ME: Well, I guess I could ask Robert for help. He seems really good
in math, but I’m kind of scared to ask him.
IG: What scares you about asking him? (Expansion) . . . etc.
Imagine that the conversation you create here is taking place over
the phone. Don’t hang up until you’ve addressed all aspects of the
problem and know what your next action step will be. Let your
Inner Guide demonstrate how much it values you by being a great
2. Write what you learned or relearned about active
listening during this conversation with your Inner Guide
and what changes, if any, you will make in your
communications. Remember to dive deep to discover a powerful
insight. When you think you have written all you can, see if you can
write at least one more paragraph.
Student story 17
I grew up in the shadow of my older brother. I was just the little sister of Lafaele
Paselio, the all-star football jock, who was one of the popular kids in school. I was
never in the spotlight. I felt unimportant. I had no identity of my own. A potato
with nothing on it is pretty bland, and that’s how I felt. It was really depressing
because I knew I have so much to offer.
Stepping into college wasn’t as exciting for me as it probably is for most people.
Sure it was a new journey, a new experience, but for me, it was just another place
to be called Lafaele’s little sister. My brother had just finished a year at
Windward Community College in Kaneohe, Hawaii, and everyone there knew
who he was. Now I was once again in his shadow. Even though my brother had
transferred to a university in San Diego, California, I knew I was bound to fall
into the same situation I had experienced throughout my life. Once again, I was
just Lafaele’s little sister.
In my Introduction to College class, we learned tips on how to succeed in college.
The class had assignments to write journal entries from the On Course book. A
journal that was particularly meaningful for me was the one where you wrote a
conversation between you and your Inner Guide. Your Inner Guide was supposed
to use good listening skills to help you come up with a solution to a problem. It
was funny because while I was doing that journal I realized I had the solution
right in front of my face, and the conversation with my Inner Guide brought it
out. I realized I am in charge of my life. It doesn’t matter what others think of me.
I fell in love with who I am and what I can do with my life. There are things I’m
good at that Lafaele’s not good at. I love my music, and I want to be a high school
I also saw how good listening skills will help me be the kind of teacher I want to
be. I want to make students believe that they matter. I want them to feel
important. Some of my teachers have really listened to me and made me feel that
I matter. A teacher who doesn’t listen sends the message that what the student
thinks isn’t important. That the student isn’t important. I remember when I
disagreed with my philosophy teacher one time, and he told me to explain why.
Then he kept interrupting me and telling me I was wrong without even letting
me explain myself. That made me feel angry, and I’m never going to be like him.
I’m going to listen to people. I tell my friends if I interrupt you, tell me to stop. I
want to listen to the people in my life so they know that what they say is
important to me.
With the help of the Introduction to College class, I learned that I can find
answers to the problems I face. I just have to listen to my Inner Guide, to myself.
It is my choice to let the fact that I am Lafaele’s sister get to me or not. I can now
say that the person I am today is a lot stronger than the person I was yesterday. I
don’t have to be the bland potato any more. I am Teroa Paselio, that’s it! No one’s
sister, no one’s cousin, no one’s namesake, but Teroa Paselio! After writing that
journal, I walked into school on Monday singing to myself “I’m feeling like a star,
you can’t stop my shine!” I can definitely say I’m no longer living in anyone’s
1.The American president Theodore Roosevelt once said,
“Comparison is the thief of joy.” Teroa discusses how constant
comparisons to her brother made her feel badly about herself.
Have you ever experienced negative feelings as a result of
comparing your life to another person’s life?
2. Teroa ultimately discovered the power of active listening. She
channeled the negative feelings of worrying that “no one noticed
her” into a deep appreciation for the power of attention. Active
listening is going to help Teroa become a better teacher. How could
greater focus, attention, and active listening help you in your own
life? Be as specific as possible in your response.
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