Thanksgiving Day marks the beginning of the holiday season here in the US. As lovely as the holidays are, sometimes the whirlwind of activities can get the better of us, and we can lose the focus of the season, especially that of Thanksgiving Day, tucked in at the beginning just before we hold our breaths and dive into the Christmas rush. It seems that the entire point of the day gets lost in participating in the season’s activities.
So this year, do something different. You can create joy and thankfulness this season; it only takes a slight change of perspective. Take a moment, whether it’s on Thanksgiving Day or during time that you set aside for yourself, and reflect on the people and things you appreciate. Remember what went well for you in the past year, what things bring you joy, and especially which people are your biggest fans and have been there for you through thick and thin: really feel your sense of appreciation and gratitude for their presence in your life, and for the changes you’ve experienced because of them.
Hold your appreciation in your awareness whenever you can, especially when you feel the rush of the season pressing in on you. Appreciation for the good people and things in your life can change your entire perspective, and give the holidays meaning and a deep satisfaction that perhaps may have been lacking in the past.
True gratitude is appreciation.
True gratitude is appreciation for the good people and things in our lives, for the joys and challenges that create our day-to-day experiences. Appreciation defines us; it informs our outlook and influences how we move about in our world; it colors how we interact with others, how we value the people in our circles and care for the things under our stewardship.
True gratitude is a way of being, a chosen perspective. Gratitude, true gratitude, is cultivated by choosing to think on our blessings, those people, events, and things that give us joy, rather than focusing on the negative people and things that pepper our existence. It’s cultivated by choosing.
Rain falls on everyone; gratitude is choosing to see that it’s raining on one’s garden and not that it’s raining on one’s parade. Gratitude is choosing to see the glass is half-full and the wine bottle is too. Gratitude is being happy for puppy kisses instead of fretting about the fur on one’s pants.
Gratitude is transformative.
This kind of gratitude transforms our experience of life. It gives each day meaning, because it opens our eyes to the beauty and love and happiness that always surround us. We notice beauty and love and happiness in our world when we have them in our mind. Not only do we see more of these on days we intentionally choose gratitude, we start to see more of them every day no matter how we feel. Our senses and our mind are selective: our mind processes so much sensory data every moment that we can’t consciously handle it all, so the mind sends us data consistent with our habitual thoughts in a kind of sensory confirmation bias. We see what we expect to see because the mind thinks that’s what we want to see.
Fortunately, we can consciously filter the data we receive by managing our thoughts. When we do, we start noticing different things than we used to notice. As we notice different things, our experience begins to change, then our beliefs change, and then our circumstances begin to change to conform to our new patterns of habitual thought and our beliefs. This can work both ways; our experiences can change for the better or for the worse based on our thoughts and beliefs.
Like ripples in a pond, gratitude spreads out until everything is changed by its presence.
As our circumstances change, our opportunities change as well. New possibilities present themselves, new people appear in our lives, new talents and skills emerge that we may not even have known that we had. Suddenly, everything seems to change in a very short time. Our circle of acquaintances changes drastically, we no longer like to gossip around the water cooler, we spend our time planning a new business or volunteering in a new way or learning a new skill or making some kind of positive change in our lives. Often, our finances change, sometimes drastically; the future transforms into something challenging and exciting and encouraging and filled with hope and promise.
Pie in the sky? Not at all. By choosing to think in terms of gratitude, to be gratitude, to live gratitude, we begin to resonate with other things related to the positive frequencies of gratitude: success, money, happiness, opportunity, optimism, inspiration, change, forward motion – and similar people experiencing similar things in their lives.
Changing our minds changes our attitudes change our experiences change our beliefs change our circumstances change our future. During this holiday season, take some time simply to be gratitude. Meditate on it. Make it part of who you are. And expect to see changes in your life.
You must become that which you want to be first and let the world follow in your tracks…. Your world faithfully and accurately reflects, not what you have put in an order for, not what you have correctly and clearly asked for, but the person you are! * ~Genevieve Davis
Every great work is just that: work, that someone did. Someone took an action which produced a result. In our scientifically oriented, mechanistic culture, nothing happens without an introduction of work into a system. Without work, a system by nature moves toward entropy – disorder and chaos.
Even in the art world, masterpieces and not-so-masterful pieces are called “works of art”. Like everything else, art is something we do.
Nothing happens until someone moves something.
This scientific view, this cause-and-effect perspective, is the perceptual framework that defines western civilization. It’s a good and a valid perceptual framework, but like any framework, it can only show us part of the entire reality.
Our mistake arises when we see part of the picture but believe we’re seeing the whole.
The disconnect between “western” and “eastern” medicine, science, and philosophy stems partially from this clash of perceptual frameworks. The western viewpoint says that the whole is the sum of its discrete parts and is defined by their specific functions; the eastern perception is that everything is a reflection of the whole and contains the whole within itself.
Even in the west, we acknowledge the idea that the whole can be greater than the sum of its parts.
Stepping beyond our perceptual frameworks….
Perhaps we should step back and look at our ideas of working, of doing, because maybe we’re putting the cart before the horse; maybe we’re looking at the end result of a process but thinking that the result sprang fully formed from an isolated action or set of actions.
So let’s look at producing a work of art so we can see the process behind the result; that will equip us to apply it in useful ways to the other areas of our lives.
If we’re going to paint a picture of a vase of flowers, we first have to get a vase of flowers, whether that’s an actual vase with flowers in it, or a picture of a vase with flowers, or a memory of one, or even an imagined picture of one. Then we just pick up a paintbrush and transfer that image onto a canvas or a building or watercolor paper.
If we sit down with a musical instrument, we need a piece of music to play on it. We get the sheet music, or a recording of a piece of music, or our memory of a piece of music, or an imagined piece of music. Then we just play that piece of music.
“But,” you object, “I don’t know how to paint a picture or play a musical instrument!”
The how is the process: not the mechanistic, step-by-step, painstaking instruction to replicate the object in a new medium. Not at all. That’s part of the work that produces the end result, the end of the process.
The process begins not with working in a medium to produce a result, but with becoming a person who can and will create that artwork.
Art isn’t created in a vacuum.
It’s created in the soul, the heart, the imagination of the artist.
You must be what you want to create first. If you want to create something beautiful, you must have a beautiful soul, one that loves and is attracted to beauty – not shallow judging of physical good looks, but the deep appreciation of beauty within the object of your vision.
If you want to create art that promotes social justice, it must first live in your soul.
If you want to create art that demonstrates the beauty or the power or the majesty of nature, you must first love, appreciate, and understand it in the deep parts of your heart.
Notice there’s no mention of talent.
Talent usually means that someone can be good at something more easily than others can. The rest of us have to work harder to be just as good. But there’s almost nothing that can’t be taught to someone who wants to learn, and once s/he masters the techniques, s/he immerses her/himself into the expression of passion and emotion and gratitude, and that person can produce art that moves people, art that means something.
The person expresses who s/he is, and what emerges from that expression is art.
The same holds true in every area of our lives. When we express who we are, what emerges from that expression is our life. Our experiences reflect – at least to an extent – the person we are, and the beliefs we hold. Of course, the people around us and our circumstances affect the kind of life we live, too: if we can barely feed our families, then we likely won’t be making scientific breakthroughs or writing classic literature.
Nevertheless, despite bad circumstances that may be beyond our control, some manage to have homes filled with happiness, children who feel understood and appreciated, and friends who seek them out.
Yet others, perhaps even those in fairly good circumstances, have rather average lives. These people have chosen, for whatever reason, not to be extraordinary, not to seek beauty, not to understand themselves. They have chosen to live by default, responding to every situation but never creating, living their lives on autopilot. Maybe this even describes you.
What would your life look like if you chose to be extraordinary?
What makes your soul sing? Who could you become to give voice to that song? How could you give expression to the beauty and depth and passion in your soul? Where is the inspiration?
Life is not doing. Life is becoming. Being is enough, and yet being isn’t static. It’s changing, flowing, charging, calming: being is becoming is being.
Be the voice for the voiceless, if that sets your heart on fire. Express beauty – or pain or anger or social injustice or any other important message through a medium that appeals to you. Change the world, or change your world: it can only happen through being.
Be the kind of person people want to be with. Be the kind of person who lives a message. Be the kind of person whose life deeply touches other people.
Be your passion.
Being gives life meaning and purpose. Being makes a life well lived. Being makes a difference.
* Davis, Genevieve. Becoming Magic: A Course in Manifesting an Exceptional Life (Book 1) (pp. 62-64). Kindle Edition.
Dr. Bernie Siegel, in his forward to Inna Segal’s book, The Secret Language of Your Body: The Essential Guide to Health and Wellness, expressed a truth that, like all great truths, is blisteringly obvious once it’s said: “Healing and curing are separate entities….”
Of course they are.
Curing is the remediation of disease. It is an important process, sometimes critically important, and should be sought from professionals to address physical or psychiatric disorders.
But healing is something greater, broader, and yet more diffuse. Healing is the creation of harmony in the mind-body, and the aligning of thoughts and emotions with that harmony to create an environment conducive to curing, and to health.
We are all healers, or at least have the capacity to be. We can all support ourselves and others in finding that place of peace, offering comfort for distraught emotions, and encouraging positive, uplifting, and ultimately more truthful thoughts to help achieve the inner health and harmony that is our birthright.
We can offer healing to others with simple words of kindness or thoughtful acts that cost us nothing but a bit of consideration and a few moments of our time. In this holiday season that should be joyful but in reality can be stressful, depressing, and even destructive, please consider reaching out to someone with kindness.
You hold within your heart the power to offer hope, healing, and strength. You may not realize how transforming that power can be but to someone in need it could mean everything.
“The relevant versus the new is the fundamental battle of the current age.”*
The newest bright shiny thing captures our attention, dangled before us like the proverbial carrot.
We chase after the newest thing because it’s faster, thinner, prettier, more powerful, has more innovative features, and is altogether better than anything we’ve had before.
But does the newness really make our lives better – not the thing itself, which may indeed, but rather, the quest to have the newest iteration, and to have it first?
The search for newness leads to shallowness; not necessarily of character, though that too can develop, but rather, shallowness of thinking, of striving, of exchanging something of value for something new.
Is the newest iPhone relevant to me if the last generation still meets my needs? This is not a Luddite argument; we put so much emphasis on new features, new bells and whistles, new innovations, without regard to relevancy.
The question, as Dobelli points out, is whether we sacrifice relevance in our single-minded pursuit of newness, of speed, of efficiency – often merely a synonym for apathy.
What is relevance, in this context? It is, simply, usefulness combined with suitability. In our chase after the newest thing, does the item help us make better decisions? make better connections? make us better persons? Those are big questions, but life is a big proposition – too big to be engrossed in minutiae.
And the newest things, which will always be just out of our grasp, are almost always just pieces of minutia. They are mostly shiny, fast, expensive pieces of not much importance.
Dobelli challenges us to look away from the carrot, and evaluate what makes our lives better, and us better. He challenges us to pursue relevancy.
I think he may be right.
*The Art of Thinking Clearly: Better Thinking, Better Decisions” by Rolf Dobelli, published by Sceptre, a division of Hodder & Stoughton, part of the Hachette UK group of publishers, London.
As summer fades into autumn, we enter a time often filled with introspection. For those of us over the age of 40, we begin to enter the autumn years of our lives. We start to wonder about the important things like ‘what do I really believe?’
In the autumn season, this question amps up in our psyche. Due to the approach of the holiday season, warm fuzzies permeate our being. Fueled by holiday music and seasonal treats, we socialize more with others in our lives. In addition, we are more likely to attend planned events by the benevolent organizations of our communities.
The autumn season brings back memories, for better or worse
Our old friend, Nostalgia, returns from the deepest recesses of our minds, bearing gifts from the Ghost of Christmas Past. Fond and not-so-fond memories of family gatherings bubble to the surface.
More people attend houses of worship during the holiday season than any other time of the year. They try to recapture something they had experienced as children.
With the autumn season come the questions
All of this brings forth the questions, ‘What do I really believe?’, ‘Why do I believe that?’, and ‘Is it true?’ Above all, what we really ask in the autumn years of our lives is ‘What will happen to me when this life is over?’
Cultivating our spirituality is an everyday endeavor. People who practice some form of spirituality throughout their lives often live longer and are happier than those who don’t. Moreover, they recover from illness or medical procedures faster.
If you find yourself with these questions formulating in your mind, seek out a spiritual director through your specific house of worship. Likewise, attend the services. Pray or meditate daily. Read inspirational works or devotions.
In conclusion, our spirituality isn’t just a separate dimension of our being. Rather, it is a deepening foundation of our physical, social and personal dimensions.
“The law of attraction is this: You don’t attract what you want. You attract what you are.” ~Dr. Wayne Dyer
The Law of Attraction has been promoted as the answer to everything, lambasted as chicanery, put forth as the way to a new Cadillac on your driveway, and avoided as a tool of the devil.
In truth, the Law of Attraction is none of those. Like much of life, it’s about us. It’s about making internal changes to align us with our desires – and more importantly, to align our desires with us, with who we truly are.
The Law of Attraction Is Not Consumerism
This is the part the Law of Attraction that most people overlook when they try to apply it to their wants and desires.
Our culture promotes conspicuous consumption, and many people align themselves with this facet of our culture. This holds a great deal of appeal but requires little of them. Due to this alignment, they often identify themselves not by who they are but by what they have: a house in the right neighborhood, a new car, the right label on their clothes, the right store name on their shopping bags.
It’s Not About Things
But this doesn’t identify anyone; rather, it says that this person doesn’t really know who she is or what she has to offer the world. Sometimes it means the person is insecure and a little vulnerable, sometimes it means he’s a shallow thinker or lacks empathy, and sometimes it means that she’s a little naïve and inexperienced. It almost always means that the person has bought into the cultural lie that possessing things – the right things, no less – fulfills your purpose as a human and endows you with value and meaning.
But the Law of Attraction has nothing to offer such a person, especially those who have no desire to learn, grow, and give back to the world. So for those for whom “it’s all about meeeee!”, the Law of Attraction will inevitably be a disappointment.
For those who are looking to expand themselves, however, the Law of Attraction has much to offer.
The Law of Attraction is a universal law governing all matter and energy. It’s not a cosmic candy machine. The Law of Attraction states that “like attracts like”. We find this principle in much of science, and in every major religion. When a principle appears in multiple disciplines almost unchanged, there is truth to it.
Those who have used the principles of the Law of Attraction effectively are those who understand that everything has a frequency. For example, in humans, the most powerful frequencies, other than those generated by the electrochemical system that is our body, are thoughts. The brain functions on various frequencies throughout the day and night, depending on what the person is doing.
Alpha Beta Theta Delta
A person just going about her daily business is generally operating in the wavelength named beta. Beta waves are fairly fast, and allow the random movement from one thought to another without much resistance.
A person who is daydreaming, studying, memorizing, or playing a musical instrument but following music exactly is using brain waves called alpha. Alpha waves are slower than beta waves, and are the brainwave of people who describe themselves as being “in the zone”.
Those who are working deeply with their creativity, mostly unaware of their surroundings while they’re working, are in theta. Theta waves are slower than alpha waves, and are associated with large creative leaps and the creation of great works of art and science. Additionally, theta brain states usually are associated with a strong use of one or more of the senses in the work being done. Additionally, those with synesthesia frequently drop into theta waves when they experience their synesthesia.
Delta waves are slower still. Most people only experience them when they’re deeply asleep, and so have no conscious memory of the delta state. Delta waves can be generated and experienced while awake, however, and are associated with deep emotional and creative shifts. Those in delta state are susceptible to suggestions from others, and it is important to make certain that no unwanted suggestions be made during delta.
Your Brain Aligns With These Frequencies
Understanding that brains have frequencies attuned to certain types of activities, the person wishing to use the Law of Attraction can enter these states to determine what would be most beneficial to attract to self and others, and to align with those frequencies. So when in alpha or theta, the person can easily align with the frequencies of the desired outcome. From that point, focusing on the outcome while entering into the brainwave state associated with it allows the desired outcome to flow into practical experience. While the exact science of how this occurs is complex, the procedure to accomplish it is easy.
But the biggest obstacle for some people is the unwillingness to become a fitting receiver of the outcomes desired and attracted.
Moreover, internal changes occur easily when aligned with the frequencies of beneficial outcomes, especially when the welfare of others is included in the desired outcome.
Ultimately, it is we who change to align with the outcome, and then nothing can stop the outcome from manifesting in the practical reality of one’s life.
A change in perspective can bring about healing. I think we often underestimate the importance of spiritual and emotional healing. The wounds aren’t visible, so they’re easy to hide.
But they’re there, causing you pain, stopping you from reaching your potential, leaching the joy from your life, preventing you from finding satisfaction or contentment.
Those wounds were almost always inflicted by someone else. Regardless of whether they intended to hurt you, or not, the wound is there, and it stays because when you got hurt, you accepted a belief about yourself.
You can learn what those beliefs are by looking at the behaviors you have when you feel thwarted or unable to move forward. Eavesdrop on your inner dialogue. Sometimes the words aren’t even expressed but a part of you knows what the words would be.
Examine that belief in the light of day as the adult you are now. Is it really true? Was it ever true? If a powerful swell of emotion rises as you look at that belief to question its validity, emotion that makes you believe it’s true about you, then you have found the one (or one of the ones) causing you trouble.
It’s time to let go of that belief. It isn’t true, it doesn’t serve you, and it keeps the wound from healing. Get an outside perspective from someone who respects you but is uninvolved, if you have trouble seeing that the belief has no relevance to you.
All you need is a small change in perspective.
I was a cheerleader in high school. Every time we got on the bus for an away game, we would sing: “Everywhere we go, people want to know, who we are! Who we are! So, we tell them! So, we tell them…!”
As we go through our lives, everywhere we go, people want to know who we are. The question is, what do we tell them? And, more importantly, what do we tell ourselves?
I used to tell people that I am a single-mother. I used to tell people that I am a woman business owner. These are two examples of self-labeling that I stopped using.
Now, I tell people that I am a mother. What difference does it make if I am single or married? In the end, I am still a mother, plain and simple. I tell people that I am a business owner, regardless of being a woman.
The labels that we attach to ourselves can, and often do, become a burden in our lives. When people attach labels to their everyday existence, we fall into the trap of limiting beliefs.
One of my favorite stories to tell is the day I told my neighbor that I was “just a secretary”. She responded, “If you really believe that, then you will always be secretary.” Mind blown! It was true. I had limited my life to a single vocation that never had a hope of rising above it. I stopped telling people that, and more importantly, I stopped telling myself that.
What are you telling others and yourself about you? Today, ask yourself, what labels can I remove from my life?
The most difficult apologies to accept are the ones we will never receive. Sometimes, so much time has passed that the person or people who hurt us are no longer a part of our lives. How do we forgive someone who has caused us pain at our deepest levels, when we can’t, or don’t want to, speak to them face-to-face?
Forgiving and forgetting are two very different things. We are physically incapable of forgetting events in our lives, especially those that have caused pain. We are hardwired to remember pain as a means of survival. This is what makes it so difficult to “just let it go”, and creates the trigger effect.
There is no shame in seeking professional services. Millions of people do it every day.
But, what about the every day kind of hurt and pain that is inflicted? Disagreements or misunderstandings between friends and family, or even co-workers? The key is to get the hurt out of your system, before it festers into resentment or worse.
- Write about it. Write down every detail of what you remember happened – on paper; not on social media. Create space in your mind and life to do this. After you write it all out, read it to yourself. You may want to read it out loud. Once you have written and read it, tear it up, shred it, or even burn it. Create a symbolic gesture of being done with it.
- Meditate on it. Using focusing and visualization techniques, imagine yourself holding your hurt as a balloon and when you are ready, let it go and watch it float away. Again, creating a symbolic gesture of being done with it, and it is no longer a part of who you are. It doesn’t have to be a balloon. Use whatever feels right for you.
- Choose to move on. We do not have to continue reliving hurt. We have the power and ability to make the conscious decision to move on. It’s one of those, ‘that was then, this is now’agreements we make with ourselves. It won’t happen overnight, but the more we choose to acknowledge the feelings and then let them go, the easier it becomes and the lesser the hold it has on us.
- Live Well. They say the best revenge is living well. Although we have a tendency to hold onto the hurt feelings from the events in our lives, the person who has hurt us isn’t thinking about us at all. They are living their lives as though nothing happened. Hard to accept, but it’s true. Don’t invest in resentment and hurt feelings. The key is to keep our focus on living for our own happiness.
By holding onto pain and other emotions, we chain ourselves to our past, preventing growth and progress.
We are not saying it was okay to hurt us; we are saying we no longer allow the pain to define us.
When we seek love, beauty, and kindness in the world, the world becomes a much friendlier place. When we seek compassion, mercy, and grace, we open ourselves to positive experiences and leave behind that which insults our soul. Accept the apology you will never get by acknowledging and processing the feelings associated with the event, and then live well ~ for you.
“Between stimulus and response there is a space. In that space is our power to choose our response. In our response lies our growth and our freedom.”
~ Dr. Viktor Frankl
If there were anyone in the world who had, or has, a bona fide reason to hate people, it would have been renowned Viennese neuroscientist and psychiatrist, Viktor Frankl.
Frankl, and others like him, survived the most inhumane of circumstances in the World War II concentration camps, yet despite the brutal treatment he received at the hands of the Nazis, Dr. Frankl carried on after World War II to become the founder of logotherapy, which requires individuals to take existential responsibility for their lives.
There is a certain angst that exists in modern society, where interacting with others is becoming a source for anxiety. Instead of working toward a solution, the mantra has simply become: “I hate people”. Seriously, ask yourself how many times a day do you hear this or something similar in conversation, or see it on your social media feeds?
We are, and have been, immersed in a societal disconnect, since the early 1990s, which was the catalyst for the book, Prozac Nation, an autobiography of Elizabeth Wurtzel’s experience with atypical depression. Ever since then, we have been on a downward spiral in regard to meaningful connections with others.
Admittedly, that is an overly-simplistic representation of a very complex issue that involves psychopharmacology, access to health care – especially mental health services – as well as the psychiatry and psychology of depression and anxiety. Depression, however, isn’t the only source of anxiety in our modern society.
Overindulgence: We’ve all heard the phrase, ‘Too much of a good thing’. Recently, ex-highly positioned executives of Facebook admitted that they knew and understood the psychological and sociological risks of the social network, but they did it anyway. Have you noticed the sudden shift to ‘doing good works’?
The onset of the modern internet began as a novelty in most households, and many, like during the birth of the TV, declared it a fad and moved on. The younger household members latched onto the internet, like the kids of 80s latched on to the early video games.
Well, the fad of the internet has become a household staple, just like the television. In fact, it is becoming increasingly more difficult to function in modern society without wi-fi or access to the internet. Most of North Americans’ time – an average of nine hours every day – is spent on social media.
Which leads us to the societal disconnect. Emboldened by the buffer of the internet, people of all ages are losing the arts of civil conversation, healthy debate, and collaborative working. This leads to cyber-bullying (in all age groups), fear of conflict, and even leadership failures.
The overly simplistic and unrealistic solution is just to stop using the internet or participating in social media. The reality is that we are all responsible for our activities and engagements off- and online. We are each responsible for our own amount of usage, how much time we spend with others in the physical world, and how we choose to engage or respond to the variables that exist.
Dr. Frankl could have chosen to’hate people’ and felt righteously justified in doing so, but he didn’t. He recognized that the one thing that had held it together for himself and others like him in the concentration camps was having a sense of purpose: surviving to the next day, or helping others in his barracks, or being wholly present and attentive to the needs of others in spite of the circumstances.