Obtaining life insurance can help you pass money on to your family or otherafter your death. But not all life insurance policies are the same. Not only can there be differences in factors like monthly premiums and , but there can also be varying requirements to qualify for a life insurance policy.
One route that some people take is, meaning you don't have to visit a doctor to be eligible. If you don't want to make an extra trip to the doctor's office or you're concerned the exam results could lead to even higher costs, then this may be a reasonable option.
Here's a look at some of the top life insurance providers available.
Before you make any final decisions, let's take a closer look at what no-exam life insurance policies are — and why you might consider going this route.
No-exam life insurance can include several different types of life insurance that do not require medical exams to initiate coverage. Here are two examples:
To get a no-exam life insurance policy, you can search online for simplified or guaranteed issue policies, which are relatively common. You can also dig into the offerings of different insurance companies, as even if an insurance provider uses different terminology, they might still allow for coverage without an exam.
To learn more about different types of life insurance policies and options, speak to an expert. Haven Life, a New York City-based life insurance agency, can walk you through the process. You just need to answer a few basic questions to get a free quote.
Don't assume that just because something isn't specifically called a "no-exam life insurance policy" you need an exam. Regardless of what the provider calls the policy, check the fine print to see if you need a medical exam or not.
Some providers also offer options like being able to convert a term life insurance policy into a whole life insurance policy without needing a medical exam. That's not to say that you're always better off converting vs. taking out a new policy, but it could be worth considering.
No-exam life insurance policies typically cost much more than ones with medical exams. That's because the insurer needs to account for the extra risk that can come from not knowing enough about your medical situation.
For example, with one major life insurance provider, a simplified issue life insurance policy for a 20-year/$500,000 term for a 40-year-old, non-smoker woman in good health in California costs nearly $50 per month. In contrast, the same type of policy for regular term life insurance with a medical exam only has an estimated cost of $30 in monthly payments.
You can also compare prices and plans by scouring life insurance providers online and getting free quotes.
There can be a cost to the convenience of no-exam life insurance policies. But it's also possible that the economics work out in your favor. It's possible that something would be discovered during a medical exam that increases your risk to the insurer, thereby raising your rates or perhaps even making you ineligible altogether. No-exam life insurance policies can alsothose who don't qualify for typical life insurance due to factors such as age or medical history.
However, if you're in relatively good health, meet a prospective insurer's age requirements and are comfortable seeing a doctor, then this type of insurance may not be for you — as you maywith the medical exam.
Overall, a no-exam life insurance policy can offer a path for some higher-risk individuals to obtain life insurance or it could be a good way to quickly obtain coverage. However, you might be able to find lower rates if you go through with a medical exam, so it could be worth exploring your options to see what best fits your budget and goals.
Life insurance helps you provide for loved ones after your death. With life insurance policies, yourget a cash payment when you're gone, one they can then use toward .
Most insurance companiesbefore they approve you for life insurance coverage. You may be uncomfortable with this, or want to avoid it. Enter .
Many kinds of people may find no-exam life insurance appealing. No-exam policies can be smart if you have a pre-existing health condition, terminal illness, are a smoker or have a risky job (like fire fighting or construction).
Or, you may need life insurance as collateral for a loan or a sudden change in marital status like divorce.may bump up against age limits for some traditional kinds of policies and find no-medical exam life insurance worthwhile.
If you think you would benefit from a no-exam life insurance policy then reach out to an insurance pro now. They can help you get started with a free price quote so you know exactly what to expect.
No medical exam life insurance comes in bothpolicy forms. Though there's no medical exam, each insurance type may ask for some health information on the application. Premiums are often more expensive than traditional life insurance policies that require medical exams. They can also provide significantly lower coverage. Guaranteed life policies, for instance, are often $25,000 in coverage or less.
The first step in getting no-medical exam insurance is deciding what kind is right for you. Here are four main types
If you think you would benefit from having a no-exam life insurance policy then reach out to a professional now or use the table below to start searching for providers.
Seek advice from an insurance agent, your financial adviser, or another expert before you apply in order to be certain that no-exam life insurance is the best option for you.
Once you've decided on a no-exam life insurance provider, you'll need to fill out an application. Depending on the policy type, you can expect:
Be honest with your answers. A life insurance company can deny coverage or payout if you aren't being truthful on your application, like if you lie about smoking.
Follow the instructions to submit your application. Once you've submitted, it can take just hours for accelerated underwriting approval to weeks depending on the type of no-exam policy you're seeking.
Get started now and see what you can qualify for!
We all go through tough times. So, it’s important to know that there are things we can do to help ourselves feel better. Self-help is one way to do just that.
While it’s often associated with books or groups, self-help can refer to any type of activity that a person does to Improve their well-being. Self-help methods provide individuals with powerful tools to help manage and Improve their mental health.
Self-help methods can Improve self-esteem, communication skills, and coping skills. By taking the time to focus on your thoughts and feelings, you can gain insights into why you think and feel the way you do.
Many self-help techniques are often used as homework assignments by therapists or counselors to help patients better understand their feelings and behavior.
Self-help methods can be used in conjunction with other forms of therapy, or on their own.
Many don’t require a professional psychologist or counselor, making them great options for people who are uncomfortable with traditional therapy.
Additionally, self-help exercises are convenient, accessible, and flexible. They can be done at your own pace, at any time, and in any place.
When it comes to self-help, there are many different options available. Here are some of the most common:
Self-help books provide readers with advice and tips on how to Improve their lives. Although self-help books are often associated with Topics like anxiety and depression, they can cover a wide range of topics, including career development, relationships, and personal finance.
In addition to offering practical advice, self-help books can also provide motivation and inspiration. Whether you’re looking for ways to overcome challenges or just want some helpful tips on self-improvement, self-help books can be an excellent resource.
Self-help groups are groups of people who share a common problem or concern and come together to share their experiences, offer advice, and encourage one another. They can provide people with much-needed support and guidance during difficult times.
Self-help groups can be beneficial for people who don’t have anyone they feel comfortable talking to. They can help people to feel less alone and more empowered to take control of their lives.
Those who participate in moderated self-help groups are 50% less likely to be hospitalized due to their mental illness than people who simply go to therapy or other programs that do not include self-help strategies.
Online resources like GoodTherapy can help you find support groups of various kinds in your local area.
Self-help exercises usually consist of simple activities that are helpful for reducing anxiety and depression, improving self-esteem, and increasing coping skills.
Some self-help exercises may involve relaxation techniques, such as deep breathing or progressive muscle relaxation. Others may focus on self-examination or showing yourself more compassion.
Self-help exercises are often used in conjunction with other treatments, such as therapy or medication. However, self-help exercises can also be used on their own as a starting point to help Improve mental health and well-being.
Self-help exercises can be a great way to help manage anxiety and depression. There are many different types of self-help exercises, but they all have one goal in mind—to help you feel better.
Here are three self-help exercises that can help to relieve anxiety and depression:
Depression is a serious medical condition that can cause a range of emotional and physical problems, including distorted thinking. Cognitive distortions are internal mental filters or biases that increase our misery, fuel our anxiety, and make us feel bad about ourselves.
One common form of cognitive distortion is called catastrophizing. This is when someone persistently believes that the worst will happen. They often exaggerate the difficulties they face and believe their situation is worse than it really is.
By learning to question your own thoughts, it is possible to correct many cognitive distortions. Decatastrophizing is a self-help exercise that involves challenging irrational thoughts and beliefs about a situation to reduce anxiety and depression.
Decatastrophizing exercises can help you view potential problems in a more realistic light.
For example, if someone believes that their life is ruined after making one mistake, they may be more likely to feel depressed.
However, if they challenge this belief and instead acknowledge that mistakes are normal and that they can learn from them, they may feel less hopeless.
Anxiety, depression, and poor self-esteem often are the results of irrational negative thoughts. Many of our negative thoughts are not based on any evidence or reality. They operate mostly on beliefs and assumptions about ourselves based on our past experiences.
Challenging negative thoughts involves recognizing negative or unhelpful thoughts, such as “I’m not good enough” or “Nothing ever goes right for me,” and then replacing them with more realistic and positive alternatives
For example, instead of thinking “I’ll never be able to do this,” you might tell yourself “I can learn how to do this if I’m willing to put in the effort.”
Self-help exercises can also be beneficial for parents. Developing a plan for rewards and consequences is a great exercise for parents who need help modifying their child’s behavior.
Creating a list of both the rewards and the consequences of certain behaviors helps your child understand what is expected of them, and what they can expect in return. This can help to ease tensions and anxiety, as well as provide a sense of structure for both you and your child.
Once you have created your list, you can then review it with your spouse or partner to see if there are any additional ideas they may have. By taking the time to self-help, you can ensure that you’re making the best decisions for your family.
When developing a rewards system, it’s important to include both positive reinforcement (for good behavior) and negative reinforcement (for bad behavior). It’s also important to be consistent with the rewards and consequences that you provide.
Self-help can be a great option for people who want to take a more active role in managing their mental health. But with so many choices, it can be difficult to know where to begin.
One of the most important things to remember is that self-help is not a one-size-fits-all solution. The best way to find what works for you is to experiment and be willing to try new things.
GoodTherapy believes that with the right support, anyone is capable of healing, growth, and change. Download our self-help exercise worksheets now for more techniques for managing your anxiety and depression.
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The preceding article was solely written by the author named above. Any views and opinions expressed are not necessarily shared by GoodTherapy.org. Questions or concerns about the preceding article can be directed to the author or posted as a comment below.
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Over 41 million Americans sought treatment or counseling for a mental health issue in 2020. From wide-ranging issues like anxiety, depression, or dealing with family members to more acute problems like eating disorders, sleep difficulties, or addictions, almost all of us could use a little help in at least one area from a qualified professional.
But therapy isn’t always as easy or as accessible as it should be. From finding the right clinician to scheduling issues to often pricey office visits, the logistics of professional psychological help can often be the most significant barrier to tackling those life-debilitating problems. BetterHelp offers help settling those hassles, offering online mental healthcare that is accessible, affordable, and convenient.
Over the past ten years, BetterHelp has grown to become the world’s largest professional online therapy platform, helping more than 3 million people find a qualified mental health professional and schedule over 250 million sessions to help sufferers cope with their issues.
After a few easy questions about your mental health struggles, BetterHelp matches potential patients with a licensed therapist in less than 48 hours. And BetterHelp digs deep, linking sufferers with licensed and experienced psychologists, marriage and family therapists, clinical social workers, and accredited professionals with a background in your particular problem area.
BetterHelp holds all of its board-certified professionals to the highest industry standards. Each has a master’s degree or doctorate in their field, has worked with patients for at least three years, and has logged over 1,000 hands-on hours helping people cope with their issues.
Unlike most standard in-person doctor-patient relationships, BetterHelp offers a variety of ways to engage with a therapist, from live online text or chat sessions to phone calls or video conferencing. Once you’re working with a clinician, you can also message that person virtually anytime from a computer or mobile device to get help 24/7/365. Users don’t even have to supply BetterHelp their full name, with all information digitally protected and withheld under strict doctor-patient confidentiality restrictions.
Typical therapy sessions can cost upwards of $200 per hour, but BetterHelp offers the same services for a fraction of the cost of traditional in-person meetings. Based on your location, preferences, and therapist availability, BetterHelp only costs about $60 to $90 per week.
“Jennifer was an answer to a prayer,” one patient wrote. “She was encouraging and insightful. Her strategies to reduce my stressors were just what I needed. I feel blessed to have been paired with her and felt at ease with her empathetic approach to therapy…Thank you.”
With BetterHelp, you can start the healing process by matching with a therapist, then scheduling your first session. Right now, new BetterHelp members can even save 25 percent off their first month of appointments.
Prices subject to change.
Lolly believes in a dog-help-dog world.
In Nov. 2021, the innocent canine was one of the over 500 dogs that the ASPCA rescued from deplorable conditions at an Iowa puppy mill. Now, she is a "helper dog" at the ASPCA Behavioral Rehabilitation Center (BRC) in Weaverville, North Carolina, where she helps guide fearful dogs through new activities.
Lolly's journey from "nervous" puppy mill rescue to hero helper dog started last year after the ASPCA pulled Lolly from the Iowa breeding facility. Following her rescue, Lolly went to an emergency shelter operated by the ASPCA for initial exams and treatment.
According to the ASPCA, Lolly had matted fur, internal parasites, dental disease, and a severe infection during her first medical exam. After receiving treatment for these issues, Lolly was transferred to the BRC to address her avoidant behavior toward human interactions and walking on a leash.
"The BRC is the first-ever permanent facility dedicated to the study and behavioral rehabilitation of canine victims of cruelty and neglect. After being rescued from the Iowa puppy mill, Lolly needed support with her fear and under socialization, and came to the BRC for treatment," Darren Young, CPDT-KA, Lolly's behavioral rehabilitation specialist at the BRC, tells PEOPLE.
"At first, Lolly was nervous and pacing, her stress even causing her paw pads to sweat," Young adds of Lolly's initial behavior.
Young is used to working with dogs demonstrating "severe fear." The BRC cares for numerous puppy mill rescues each year. Young says dogs saved from these situations "have almost always lived in isolated environments, where they had little, if any, exposure to the outside world." Young focused on training with Lolly to help the dog gradually overcome her fears.
"Our team employed evidence-based training methods to help Lolly learn to create positive associations with new people and places, and walking on a leash. As the weeks passed, she began to come out of her shell with the help of our team as well as other dogs in the program, including some of whom were also rescued from the same puppy mill. Eventually, Lolly was more and more excited to work with her handlers and began to solicit our attention — seeking pets and time spent in our laps," the behavioral rehabilitation specialist says of Lolly's training journey.
"After six weeks, Lolly was ready for 'graduation.' She was enjoying spending time with people, car rides, and exploring local parks," he adds.
Today, Lolly lives with her forever family, which includes Dr. Ashley Eisenback, DVM, the senior director of veterinary services at the BRC.
Dr. Eisenback met Lolly at the BRC when the dog was approaching graduation and needed a vet visit to address overgrown fur near her eyes.
"Lolly seemed to be able to warm up to people fairly quickly and enjoyed playing with larger dogs at the BRC. This behavior really captured my interest as our family was wanting to adopt a smaller dog that would be a companion for my two daughters and our relatively new young dog," the senior director said of her first impressions of Lolly.
Dr. Eisenback decided to adopt Lolly, who quickly made herself comfortable with her new family.
"We saw progress with Lolly becoming more comfortable in our home each week. She had never been in a home before ours, so there was a lot for her to experience and adjust to. Now, she is fully part of the family and does everything with us. She loves sitting and cuddling with us and being petted. She loves walks in the neighborhood and exploring new places. She sleeps with my youngest daughter every night," Dr. Eisenback says.
A year after her rescue, Lolly no longer needs the BRC's services, but she still visits the center often.
"Lolly pays it forward by coming to work with me at the BRC often to serve as a helper dog for other dogs moving through the program. She also helps me teach children that are afraid of dogs, that dogs are kind and gentle," her owner adds.
At the BRC, helper dogs encourage fearful dogs to explore and enjoy new experiences.
"Helper dogs can act as guides, showing a fearful dog how to walk on a leash, jump into a car, or even how to happily engage in play. The helper dog often gives the fearful dogs the confidence they need to interact with people and their environment. This, in turn, helps them to feel more relaxed and allows their personalities to blossom," Young explains.
RELATED VIDEO: Puppies Found on the Side of the Road in a Zipped Suitcase Saved
Even the rescue dogs that don't come through the BRC benefit from Lolly's recovery because the dog's success shows that all neglected animals deserve a second chance.
"Dogs are very resilient when we are patient with them. Fearful dogs can become wonderful companions with patience and understanding," Dr. Eisenback says.
The ASPCA's BRC encourages everyone to fight for the dogs in commercial breeding facilities and hold the USDA accountable for protecting those animals. If you are located in Western North Carolina or the surrounding area and are interested in adopting an animal from the ASPCA Behavioral Rehabilitation Center, visit the ASPCA's adoption website and view the adoptable dogs in North Carolina.
We scored companies based on these measurements:
Price (50% of score): We averaged the no-exam life insurance rates for males and females in excellent health at ages 30, 40 and 50 for $500,000 and $1 million and a term length of 20 years.
Maximum face amount for lowest eligible age (10% of score): Companies with higher no-exam life insurance coverage amounts for the lowest age earned more points. Note that maximum no-exam coverage can sometimes become lower if you apply at a higher age.
Age eligible for best length/amount (10% of score): Companies offering no-exam life insurance to folks over age 50 earned extra points.
Accelerated death benefit available (10% of score): This important feature lets you access part of your own death benefit in the event you develop a terminal illness
Option to convert to a permanent life insurance policy (10% of score): This is a good option to have in place if you decide you want a longer policy, especially if your health has declined and you don’t want to shop for new life insurance.
Guaranteed renewals (5% of score): This option lets you extend the coverage after your initial level term period has expired, such as at the end of 10, 20 or 30 years.
Renewal rates can be significantly higher, but renewing can provide extended coverage to someone who may no longer qualify for a new life insurance policy because of health.
Median time from application to approval (5% of score): We gave more points to companies with lower no-exam life insurance approval times.
The timeline for approval could be within seconds or a month, depending on the company and possibly even your health.
Sources: Bestow, Ethos, Fabric, Haven Life, Jenny Life, Ladder, Policygenius and Forbes Advisor research.
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A daily examination of conscience is an important tool for recognizing where God is at work in one's life and where "the evil spirit" tries to lead one astray, Pope Francis said.
"Learn to read in the book of our hearts what has happened during the day. Do it. Just two minutes, but it will do you good, I promise," the pope told visitors at his weekly general audience Nov. 30.
After his talk, Francis and the crowd were treated to a performance by the Black Blues Brothers, a group of five acrobats from Kenya. Wearing dark suits and ties, they did handsprings, created human pyramids and did tumbling and dance tricks while jumping rope to songs from the 1980 film "The Blues Brothers."
Continuing his series of audience talks about discernment, the pope spoke again about "spiritual consolation" and about using a daily examination of conscience to distinguish between what just feels good and "genuine consolation," which, he said, "is a sort of confirmation that we are doing what God wants of us, that we are walking on his paths, that is, on the paths of life, joy and peace."
Relying on the teaching of St. Ignatius of Loyola, founder of the Jesuits, the pope explained that consolation comes from knowing that a thought or impulse is good at its beginning, middle and end, because it inclines one to do something good, is motivated by love for God and others and leads to a sense of peace.
On the other hand, the pope explained, "the evil spirit" can sneak in and distract one from doing good or sow anger toward others or pride.
"When we talk about the 'evil spirit,' we are talking about the devil, you know," the pope said. "The devil exists."
Francis used the example of the thought or urge to pray, accompanied by "affection for the Lord and my neighbor, it invites gestures of generosity, of charity: it is a good beginning."
But, he said, if "every time I have to wash the dishes or clean the house, I have a strong urge to pray -- this happens in convents" -- then the impulse is not all good.
"Go wash the dishes, then go pray," he said, because "prayer is not an escape from one's tasks."
And, the pope said, "if I begin to pray and, like the Pharisee in the parable, I tend to be self-satisfied and to disdain others, perhaps with a resentful and sour spirit, then these are signs that the evil spirit has used that thought as a key to enter into my heart and to transmit his feelings to me."
In such cases, he said, "the consolation of prayer" is false, and one simply is "a peacock before God," strutting his or her presumed holiness.
Then, Francis said, one should ask, "Where does that thought take me? For example, it can happen that I work hard for a good and worthy task, but this pushes me to stop praying; I find I am increasingly aggressive and angry, I feel that everything depends on me, to the point of losing confidence in God. Here, evidently, there is the action of the evil spirit."
The devil's style is "devious, masked," the pope said, and he usually starts with something important to the person and then twists it.
"The more we know ourselves, the more we sense where the evil spirit enters, his 'passwords,' the entrance to our heart," Francis said.
"Before ending your day, stop a bit and ask what has happened (that day) -- not in the newspapers," he said, but in one's heart.
"Noticing what happens is important," he said. "It is a sign that God's grace is working in us, helping us to grow in freedom and awareness. We are not alone; the Holy Spirit is with us. Let's see how things are going."
GCSE pupils will continue to receive help with some exams next year, as officials said children still need extra support owing to the pandemic.
The Department for Education has confirmed that teenagers sitting maths and science exams in 2023 will be given equation sheets so they don’t need to memorise formulae.
The decision has been made after teachers said retaining the extra exam support would help account for the disruption to education caused during the pandemic.
Respondents to an official consultation “thought that providing this support would be fair when comparing these students to previous cohorts and that it would make the experience of taking exams less stressful for students and increase their confidence," the Government said.
It is the fourth year of disruption to exams. In 2020 and 2021, pupils were given marks based on assessments by their teachers, instead of sitting exams, to reduce the spread of Covid, leading to record high grade inflation.
When exams returned in the last academic year, grades were set at a “midway” point to reflect the disruption to pupils’ learning caused by pandemic restrictions. Students were also given advance information in some exams and formulae and equations sheets for some tests.
The Government confirmed in September that exam grade boundaries for GCSEs and A-levels in 2023 will return to similar levels seen in 2019, but they have now said that some exam support will be retained for GCSE pupils.
The Department for Education also announced that it would make GCSE modern foreign language exams easier by removing unfamiliar vocabulary from tests.
From next year, exam boards will be required to supply the meaning of unfamiliar vocabulary, if they consider this necessary.
Teachers said the move would offer greater parity with other GCSEs, which do not assess students on unfamiliar material. They also said it would make modern foreign language subjects "more accessible and so increase the number of students choosing to study them."
Chris McGovern, of the Campaign for Real Education, accused the Government of “dumbing down” exams. He said: “Young people want to do well but they prefer something else which is honesty.” He said the policy was “unfair also on previous year groups” who, pre-pandemic, were sitting harder exams.
He added: “These young people are going to be our doctors, nurses, engineers, politicians and bankers and we are going to worry why the bridges are collapsing in England because the engineers weren’t qualified."
Prof Alan Smithers, the director of the Centre for Education and Employment Research, said: “I think the Government is being over cautious. Knowing the key formulae is a part of being able to fully understand the sciences and maths, and we have learnt to cope to Covid for more than a year so I think they should have been bolder and gone back to expecting the students to have learned these key formulae.”
Dr Jo Saxton, the Ofqual Chief Regulator, said: “In 2023, students will again have the opportunity to show what they know and can do in exams. We have listened to feedback and today’s decisions, together with some protection on grading, offer the degree of support students need as we move towards normality, while guarding against over-testing.”
A Department for Education spokesperson said: “Ofqual have confirmed a return to pre-pandemic grading in 2023, with protection in-built against the disruption of latest years.
“There are some exceptions in GCSE subjects, which will continue to receive formulae and equation sheets to recognise their disruption they have experienced during the pandemic. These exceptions will end in 2024.”
Below is the text of Pope Francis’ weekly Wednesday audience, delivered on Nov. 30, 2022.
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Dear brothers and sisters,
As we continue our reflection on discernment, and in particular on the spiritual experience called “consolation”, which we spoke about the other Wednesday, we ask: how can we recognize true consolation? It is a very important question for a good discernment, so as not to be deceived in the search for our true good.
We can find some criteria in a passage from the Spiritual Exercises of Saint Ignatius of Loyola. Saint Ignatius says “We ought to note well the course of the thoughts and if the beginning, middle and end is all good, inclined to all good, it is a sign of the good Angel; but if in the course of the thoughts which he brings it ends in something bad, of a distracting tendency, or less good than what the soul had previously proposed to do, or if it weakens it or disturbs the soul, taking away its peace, [taking away the] tranquility and quiet, which it had before, it is a clear sign that it proceeds from the evil spirit, enemy of our profit and eternal salvation” (no. 333).
Because it is true: there is true consolation, but there are also consolations that are not true. And therefore, we need to understand well the process of consolation: How does it come and where does it lead me? If it leads me to something wrong, that is not good, the consolation is not true, it is “fake,” let’s say. And these are valuable indications that merit a brief comment.
What does it mean that the beginning is inclined to good, as Saint Ignatius says of good consolation? For example, I have the thought of praying, and I note that it accompanies affection towards the Lord and neighbour, it invites gestures of generosity, of charity: it is a good beginning. It can instead happen that such a thought emerges to avoid a job or task that has been entrusted to me: every time I have to wash the dishes or clean the house, I have a strong urge to pray! This happens, in convents. But prayer is not an escape from one’s tasks; on the contrary, it is an aid in realizing the good we are required to do, here and now. This regards the beginning.
Then there is the middle: Saint Ignatius said that the beginning, the middle and the end had to be good. The beginning is this: I want to pray so as not to wash the dishes: go, wash the dishes, and then go to pray.
Then there is the middle: that is what comes next, what follows that thought. Staying with the previous example, if I start praying and, like the Pharisee in the parable (cf. Lk 18:9-14), I tend to please myself and despise others, perhaps in a resentful and sour mood, then these are signs that the evil spirit has used that thought as a key to enter my heart and transmit its feelings to me. If I go to pray, and I am reminded of that of the famous Pharisee—“I thank you, Lord, because I pray, I am not like other people who do not seek you, do not pray”—that prayer ends badly there. That consolation of praying is to feel like a peacock before God. And this is the wrong way.
And then there is the end: the beginning, the middle and the end. The end is something we have already encountered, namely: where does a thought take me? For example, where does the thought of praying take me? For instance, it can happen that I work hard for a good and worthy task, but this pushes me to stop praying, because I am busy with so many things; I find myself becoming more and more aggressive and incensed, I feel that everything depends on me, to the point of losing confidence in God.
Here, evidently, there is the action of the evil spirit. I start praying, but then in prayer I feel omnipotent, that everything must be in my hands because I am the only one who knows how to get things done: evidently there is no good spirit there. We need to examine well the path of our feelings and the path of good feelings, of consolation, at the time when I want to do something; at the beginning, in the middle, and at the end.
The style of the enemy—when we speak about the enemy, we speak about the devil, because the devil exists, he is there!—his style, we know—is to present himself in a sneaky, disguised way: he starts with what we hold most dear and then draws us to himself, little by little: Evil enters secretly, without the person noticing. And with time the suavity becomes harshness: that thought reveals itself as it really is.
Hence the importance of this patient but indispensable examination of the origin and the truth of our thoughts; it is an invitation to learn from experiences, from what happens to us, so as not to keep repeating the same mistakes. The more we know ourselves, the more we sense where the evil spirit enters, his “password,” the entrance to our heart, which are the points to which we are most sensitive, so as to pay attention to them in the future.
Each of us has the most sensitive points, the weakest points of our personality: that’s where the bad spirit comes in and takes us down the road that is not right, or takes us off the real right road. I go to prayer but it takes me away from prayer.
Examples could be multiplied at will as we reflect on our days. This is why a daily examination of conscience is so important: before ending the day, stop a moment. What happened? Not in the newspapers, not in life: what happened in my heart? Was my heart attentive? Did it grow? Did it go through everything unaware? What happened in my heart? And this examination is important, it is the valuable effort of rereading experience from a particular point of view. Noticing what happens is important, it is a sign that God’s grace is working in us, helping us to grow in freedom and awareness. We are not alone: the Holy Spirit is with us. Let’s see how things have turned out.
Authentic consolation is a sort of confirmation that we are accomplishing what God wants of us, that we are walking on his paths, that is, on the paths of life, joy, and peace. Discernment, in fact, is not simply about what is good or the greatest possible good, but about what is good for me here and now: on this I am called to grow, putting limits on other proposals, attractive but unreal, so as not to be deceived in the search for the true good.
Brothers and sisters, it takes understanding, moving forward in understanding what is going on in my heart. And that takes the examination of conscience, to see what happened today. “Today I got angry, I didn’t do that…”: But why? To go beyond the why is to look for the root of these mistakes. “But, today I was happy but I was bored because I had to help those people, but at the end I felt filled by that help”—and there is the Holy Spirit.
Learn to read in the book of our heart what happened during the day. Do it, just two minutes, but it will do you good, I assure you.