Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Simply Wonderful

I've been thinking a lot lately about a very deep and very wise admonition A Course In Miracles gives to "Avoid the temptation to perceive yourself as unfairly treated."

This is a big one for me because given the opportunity, I could easily dwell in feeling sorry for myself. But the minute I do, I have just set into motion opportunities for circumstances to enter my life that help me feel like a victim. I've opened the door for those types of possibilities to be let in. Remember, we create what we focus on, wanted or unwanted. We live in a compliant universe. It always agrees with what we think and gives us more of that - I'm stupid. Yes you are. I'm happy. Yes you are. I'm rich, pretty, successful, attractive; whatever it may be the universe is quick to provide agreement and give of us evidence that our thoughts are right.

It is increasingly easy in today's world to perceive ourselves as unfairly treated, as victims of circumstances, when things like the economy seem to upset our apple cart. It becomes easy to point to a specific person or thing and deem them responsible for our unhappiness. It is clearly outside of ourselves, right? When we perceive the world this way we slide into the vicious cycle of blame, anger and separation. It keeps the position of victim strong and we all know what that attracts - more circumstances that allow us to feel sorry for ourselves. That is not a happy life. None of it serves our lives. We are first cause of everything - plain and simple.

No one seems to be going through these times unscathed. People everywhere are being pressured to let go of patterns and give up thoughts that have not served them. Like the rock that endures tremendous heat and pressure, we are given the opportunity to become diamonds. But it requires us to let go of the patterns of our past. We must wake up and become conscious of the thoughts we keep on thinking that keep sustaining the life that we keep on getting. Dr. Ernest Holmes said it best, "We create with monotonous regularity the patterns of our past." ...Until we seek to change our minds.

Along with these difficult times we are being given tremendous opportunity for change. Old ways of being are dying and giving birth to new beginnings. We are being asked to give up patterns and thoughts that have held us back so we can have everything we've ever dreamed of. It easy for us to be convinced that things are bad. It's time to make the switch and be convinced of how good things can be. As Marianne Williamson would say, "Ask for what wonderful looks like." Let's not hold on to being "sufferers" who perceive ourselves as unfairly treated. Let's take responsibility for what we create in our lives so that we can create anew.

How best do we begin to shed this old skin? Awareness is the first step. Once you become conscious of your patterns you automatically begin to diffuse them. Also, there is nothing more potent or positively attractive than gratitude and appreciation. It is fitting in this time we set aside for Thanksgiving that I ask you to become an avid appreciator. Begin to notice everything that is good in your life and everything that is going right. There is so much. Instead of looking in the mirror and seeing flaws, notice the perfection there is to behold. When I would look at a photograph of myself that I didn't like, my wise Italian mother would say to me, "You're going to love it in 10 years!" She was right. But let's not wait. Let's love and appreciate ourselves now and be grateful for the wonderful lives we have been given. Remember, we get what we focus on, whether wanted or unwanted. Let's focus on wonderful this week.

Finally, take a look at my friend Jacob's Daily Pages post. His 30 day suggestion is exactly what's called for here. I strongly suggest you try it for the next 30 days - I am going to. Let's take this journey together and watch wonderful unfold in ways we've never dreamed of.

I leave you this week, with a quote from Meister Eckhart who said, "If the only prayer you say in your life is thank you, that would be enough.”

Monday, November 9, 2009

Joy Rising

I've been thinking a lot lately about something a guest on The Oprah Show said. Oprah was talking about the Flash Mob Dance that opened her season this year, which was a big and delightful surprise for her. When she questioned one of the participants about his experience in the process, he remarked that it felt like "joy rising." Well put, I thought. It reminded me of one of my favorite quotes from Abraham, "Let your joy rise to the top." It's a powerful edict, but so often ignored for more "important" issues.

It seems, especially in times that are economically stressful, we tend to sublimate our joy and happiness in lieu of areas that we think are more important. We work hard on those things that we think will deliver us the and joy and happiness that we seek - the perfect relationship, kids, career, money and home. We're working from the outside in trying to get all our ducks in a row and it's hard. It's especially hard in times like these when worry is rampant and fear dominates our news cycle and then our lives. When everyone is afraid and talks about how bad things are, it becomes easier to believe that it is true. Then our lives manifest those beliefs - form follows thought - and before you know it we've attracted the things we fear. Wars are raging, people are losing their jobs and their homes, and things are in a very unsettling flux. Then we wonder, 'how can I be happy when I can't even pay my rent? Perhaps we should consider adopting happiness so we CAN pay our rent.

I think this is the most important thing we can do for ourselves and for our world. To seek our happiness first is the vital first step. Joy and happiness are powerful magnets in this universe. If any of you have children, you know that they barely listen to what you say but they mimic with startling accuracy everything you do. If you seek your own internal happiness barometer first, they will learn from you how to do it for themselves. What an invaluable gift we would be giving the next generation on this planet. We only want for them happiness anyway, right? We must teach it through our actions. It's important to ban the thoughts that we're just being selfish. A starving man can't offer anyone food. Or as our stewardesses tell us, "Put your oxygen mask on first." We must begin to sustain ourselves with the powerful element of joy. It will change our lives and change the world. Imagine if everyone did it.  

By now, we all know that what we focus on becomes our point of attraction. The more we focus on something, the more we see it clearly around us and the more we get to experience it. Try thinking of something, anything - white Prius', blue crystal vases - anything. Then just notice how many times a day those things will cross your path. It's the same thing with our thoughts. When we throw emotions into the mix, we've created exponential attraction. Joy begets more joy, which is an attractive element for more joyful opportunities to be drawn to us.

Let's make a conscious effort to end the thoughts that make us feel bad. I'm not saying to ignore issues in your life that cause you pain. I'm not negating your pain. I am asking you to once again exercise positive denial. Change the story you tell yourself about your painful situation. Haven't you suffered enough?

I finally set myself free when I changed the story around my father's death. He died when I was barely 2 years old - so much pain, so many false stories built around it. I lived years as a victim as a result. The only thing you get from the belief that you are a victim is more opportunities to be one - what we concentrate on becomes our point of attraction. I was right about the situation, but I was not happy. It wasn't until I changed my story around his death that I changed my life. Again, positive denial. I changed my mind about what it meant. I changed my story. I even changed the way I told the story and it changed my life. Positive denial does not say that the facts did not happen, that's negative denial. We cannot pretend something didn't happen. We deal it with the pain and then we tell ourselves a different story. The story that was meant to bring us those invaluable lessons. The Buddhist philosopher and author, Daisaku Ikeda, tells us that, "You are the playwright of your own victory."

Positive denial neutralizes the power the facts have over our lives by stripping them of their fear. All that's left are the lessons and the gifts they bring. All that's left is the love. Once we've created the new scenario it's important to follow-up by affirming a deeper truth. In the case of my father, I changed the painful story of abandonment into the gifts that were meant to enrich my life. I began to list them. It was a startling and empowering eye-opener. Why hadn't I been concentrating on these things all along? I began to feel the strong presence of my father after that. There is no distance in the heart. He would always be with me and his exit from this physical world was exactly what I needed, on a soul level. I became, "the playwright of my own victory," instead of the wounded actor.

Joy, happiness, peace and love are the most important things we can mine in our lives. Not only does it make us happy right here, right now, it also sets the stage for future happiness. It becomes the attraction for better things to come. We teach by example. Everyone will begin to take notice and want it for themselves. Joy is contagious Things will begin to change in this world. They already have. I believe all the difficulty we are experiencing is the apple cart of fear being turned over because of all the compassion and love that is being proliferated. It's not unusual to hear stories of hope, spirituality, forgiveness and gratitude in the media. This wasn't the case even ten years ago. We've begun the change and the old paradigm is crumbling. We're telling a better story, and it's replacing much of the fear in this world with hope. We are beginning to release the fears that grip our own hearts. They are not true. It's time to let go of their affect.

Happiness, joy and fun are not frivolous. They are some of the most important elements that we need to change our lives and to change the world.

I would encourage you this week to "Let your joy rise to the top." Pay attention to the things that make you happy. Watch Flash Mob videos or participate in one! Spend time with a good friend, a family member that you love; lend a hand to someone. Pick-up Dr. Christiane Northrup's CD The Power of Joy. It will make you smile while it imparts wonderful information for your head and heart. It doesn't have to be anything big. There are so many small things that happen throughout the day that elicit joy. My friend Jacob and I celebrate "Red Cup Days" at Starbucks - their official launch of the holidays. My husband finds happiness and joy in beautiful music and our house sings as a result. Keb' Mo's new CD Live & Mo' greets me when I walk through the door after a long day. My fatigue disappears because joy has replaced it. It changes the entire atmosphere of the evening. Simple. Powerful. Very important. Small moments hooked together become our entire lives. Why not make those moments joyful?

Find your joy this week, whatever that might be for you. If a situation or problem arises, in contrast, it will be your opportunity to join me in practicing positive denial. Most worry persists because we believe in a scary story that we tell ourselves about our future. The future never has to come to pass that way if you change your thoughts in the moment. Stay in the present, change the story and mine for fun this week. It will show up where you least expect it.

I often think of the words, attributed to "anonymous," which leads me to believe that it is the combined sentiment of many - another inspiring and uplifting thought that I like to have - they are,  “Life is not measured by the number of breaths we take, but by the moments that take our breath away."

I leave you with a touching video that reminds me of the overwhelming good in people, and that...makes me very happy.

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