I’ve been thinking a lot lately about something Suze Orman said on Oprah. The woman, deemed a “one-woman financial advice powerhouse” by USA Today, for the most part scares the living crap out of me. I fall short on so many levels according to her financial rules. But even some of her best laid plans and strategies for people have buckled under the strain of this economy and she has found it necessary go deeper in her counsel. Remember, she mostly deals with the symptoms of our lives and not with the causes; and yet it’s the causes, the thoughts and the beliefs that speak the loudest and dictate the most. It was to them she spoke when she said, “We must be grateful for what we have, not for what we had.” Brilliant. Simple.
Suze was talking about mourning less over the loss of “stuff” and being more grateful for what we still have. She was advising a minister and his wife, who had lost their life savings, to concentrate on the positive aspects of their lives. She was trying to shift their focus. But like most of us the “yeah but” came into play so quickly, with all of its reasons and justifications, that it pushed her wise counsel right out the window. ‘You make a good point, Suze, but what about my 401k, my retirement, my future? How am I supposed to be happy when I have lost so much?’ When we win in the argument of “yeah buts,” we have all but lost the possibility for providence to move in to create the miracle that was supposed to be born out of the situation. We have just argued for our limitations. We might have been right and justified in our anger but we are certainly not happy.
Suze sure said a mouthful in that succinct admonition. Our lives are hijacked when we mourn our past – whether it be for material things or physical things – thinner, firmer, younger. We become so mired in the thoughts of the past that we miss the happiness that is ours in the moment and surrender the power to change it. As A Course In Miracles so aptly puts it, “You do not ask too much of life, but far too little. When you let your mind be drawn to bodily concerns, to things you buy, to eminence as valued by the world, you ask for sorrow, not for happiness.”
When our thoughts dwell in the past or leap to an illusive future, we have just sacrificed joy in our present moment. The moment is where our power lies; it is where we live our lives. When we choose joy it not only makes us feel good in the moment, it also sets a precedent for joy in the next moment, which begins a chain reaction for our good.
Suze also emphasized gratitude, which is such an important stance. It moves us out of the realm of feeling sorry for ourselves or of being a victim, which only serves to make us miserable in the short run and attracts more of the same in the long run. That is not the spiral I wish to descend. Gratitude points us in a more positive direction, but I would go one step further than Suze’s recommendation, I would encourage appreciation. Gratitude is a wonderful emotion, but it implies overcoming some difficult situation, a struggle; while appreciation carries a vibrational essence that is not contingent upon conditions. It aligns us with the source within. I will not call it God since that word is charged with so much meaning. I will simply refer back to the field that we talked about last week. The vibration that the ancients, sages, prophets and teachers have known forever. The field which quantum physicists and scientists are just beginning to define. It is that intelligent field, that “Divine Matrix,” that connects us all. It is responsive to our thoughts and our feelings and it is instrumental in creation. When you are joyful, happy and full of appreciation, you align yourself with a Force that holds galaxies in place.
I would encourage you this week to let go of the past as best you can by focusing on all the beauty that still exists in your life. If you are sad, cry. If you are angry, go beat a pillow senseless until you can release the pain that the anger is masking and then have a good cry. Do anything you need to do to let it go. Do not dwell on the pain. Let go of the story of your past so you can begin to write a new one that will make you happy, that will bring you your hearts desire. Write a gratitude list born out of the situation, and then write an appreciation list about yourself and your life. Assume the best this very moment so that you can give birth to possibilities. As my friend Jacob would say, “lots can happen.”
I leave you this week with a quote by Henry David Thoreau who said, “You must live in the present, launch yourself on every wave, find your eternity in every moment.”