2012 unlike any other year in my history, feels very important. I feel an urgency to “get grateful”. This is a sticking point for me and for many people. We are told to “love the life you have”, “grow where you are planted”. Finding the things in your life to be grateful for is paramount to any positive change in your life; so you can grow the things that work for you and shrink the things that don’t. If there are two topics in spiritual study that had me stumped they were gratitude and forgiveness. These are daunting because they are not within my control. I cannot “will” forgiveness; I can only become willing tp forgive. The actual “feelign” of forgiveness comes from an action which comes from willingness. The willingess has an effect on the energy of the universe; once real willingness to forgive someone is achieved then you will find that situations and circumstances cross your path that enable you to take an action on the willingess. Both forgiveness and gratitude come from the Divine and they are quite interrelated. Forgiveness comes when you accept a person or situation for exactly as it is in both it’s history and current circumstance. Forgiveness comes from acceptance and acceptance comes from recognizing what you have in your life that makes your life valuable and good for you. The first step to this recognition it taking the time to look around your life and express gratitude in a conscious manner.
I actually have specific goals this year…which are a first for me.
1- being more positive and grateful for what i have rather than always letting my mind wander to places that are unreal and unsatifying.
2- Setting actual life goals.
3- Eliminating negativity and negative judgment from my thinking.
Gratitude I believe is the essential key that is missing for me
On New Year’s Eve I received (by coincidence?) a gratitude journal from my neighbor. A very kind and timely gift. I have an intention to become more consciously grateful, and the universe sends me a confirmation that I am on the right track. It even sends me materials to help me along the way. So, this year my blog is going to be dedicated to positivity and gratitude. You may want to kick me by Easter, but everything seems to be pushing me in this direction so I’ll just try and be aware and follow.
It was quite a trip for me to come to this conclusion. A few weeks before Christmas though I recall writing in my journal and everything I said was both negative and whiny. I’d feel guilty about not writing for a few days, then I would write all this unhappy whining blah and I only felt worse. Ironically, I believed that if I “got it out on paper” I wouldn’t become so depressed by “keeping things in”. The thing is though that I wasn’t actually using what I was writing to come to any “positive forward creative” conclusion. I was just whining and giving my unhappy thoughts and perceptions physical form and substance. Suddenly it dawned on me that if I was going to whine, then I could at least take the time to consider that my whining was a reflection of some aspect of my life falling below my level of expectation. I had to become aware of what those expectations were and most importantly try not to judge myself to death!
Kids are better at being selfishly unjudging than we are…
This year my 15 year old daughter asked for a particularly expensive gift for Christmas, to which my ex-husband and I agreed but said we would wait until after Christmas when electronics went on sale and we could get it for her less expensively. She agreed with great bravado before Christmas, but when everyone was receiving three or four smaller but well appreciated gifts, she was feeling the sting of not feeling included in the joy of the exchange. Maybe that was a better gift to her than receiving a computer on Christmas day. She also had to delay gratification, which I really felt she did well with. But on the actual day she did nothing to hide her misery, and for once I did nothing to make her. I heard my mother who would have told me to suck it up because I had made a choice, and I became a tremendous faker. But this made no sense; it would be the wrong thing to expect from her. It makes no sense to ask to a child to pretend to be happy when they clearly aren’t. Then I realized I try to not ask my children to be what they are not, why can’t I give myself the same courtesy?
The process to get to where I realized that Truth and gratitude are the keys to everything I have ever wanted for myself consciously or unconsciously felt like a little bit of an emotional roller coaster. On New Year’s Eve day (is there such a thing) I awoke completely excited and jubilant. After a few days of post Christmas exhaustion I was suddenly ready to have a party where I would be able to spend time with all of these awesome people I hadn’t seen in so long in a situation where I was not performing. Although we did play a little music that night, I was careful to stay out of the “limelight” and just watch. It was really amazing. The day unraveled with certain clarity. I was actually able to decide where I was going to park at Costco (on New Year’s Eve Day…truly a miracle!), deciding that in even small ways I should begin to want more for my life. I should stop accepting less than perfect because then I spend all my time complaining that my life isn’t what I want, and yet it’s me that made it this way. Kind of ridiculous. One of my New Year’s goals was to have more FUN and to stop being so serious about everything all the time. The importance of being lighter and less condemned by the more difficult aspects that each person experiences in some way is really important. It’s not that you’ll be happy when you have more money, better wife, nicer kids, better friends, more free time, a vacation, loose 50 pounds – it’s that those things will naturally happen when you start makign decisions like a happy person. Happy is not a destination, and if we took a moment to see that in our lives we ahve every tool available to keep moving forward. Happy is not your goal; that’s a pretty low bar by which to measure your life. This would indicate that you are only doing and seeking for yourself, and you won’t receive full satisfaction from this. Honest is probably a loftier goal for most of us than happy:
There are seven aspects that we have to address when we are evaluating our lives. I’ll talk about the first in this article:
1- Physical Body goals– look at yourself physically. Everyone complains at this one, and no, I don’t want you to stand naked in front of a mirror and declare that you love yourself ten times. Lying doesn’t help anything. But, I will tell you to get over what it is you criticize at first thought. What did you think of right away?
- “ I’m so fat”? My boobs are too small? My butts too big? ” I hate my hair”. These are automatic thoughts. You are judging yourself based on an image you have created in your head. I guarantee you that the image you have created in your head has nothing to do with reality. You create your “self image” mostly based on what people have told you about yourself or how you compare yourself to others.
- The first things you criticized are automatic thoughts. They are not “your” thoughts, they are thoughts that you have become accustomed to. Get aware of them to get away form them. Just let them be; knowing that something is there is often enough for it to change into something else more positive and productive. When you shine the light of truth on something, when you understand it just as it is without your own judgments and interpretations then you make it both useful and forwardly productive in a creative manner.
- Understand that no one can do this for you. No one can tell you are pretty enough times for you to change a belief that you have that says you are not pretty. NO one can change your mind but you. You are on your own here, in one way because you do not have nor do you need the cooperation of your fellow humans to do this important work. You find the truth using your history, your past. This is where your past becomes useful, like a treasure funding tool. Use your past to understand how you reflect your physical image back to yourself.
- Don’t berate yourself for making physical image important. After all, it is how we present ourselves to the world and to our lives in regards to 5 out of 6 senses. Our first impressions of a person can often govern how a relationship will unfold. Similarly, our impressions of ourselves will govern the decisions we make on our own behalf.
“It is what it is” is a mantra I find useful and I use it often. The past can’t be changed. Your choice sin the past can’t be changed. It is what it is. People can’t be changed. They are who they are. Not judging yourself is very hard! No one has a secret formula as to how you should approach viewing your past, but “it is what it is” can be really helpful. I’m sure there are many very smart psychologists with opinions on how to approach your past, but in my view, things happen when they should, and when it is time for you to understand something, you will. Don’t stress. Just be aware of how you present yourself to the world. Your physical self and your environment really do reflect how you feel about yourself and what you believe. To try and understand how you function internally sometimes it is a good idea to start from the outside in.
SPIRITUAL HOMEWORK: PHYSICAL BODY
Start with this:
Before you change anything, you have to come to accept yourself as you are. You can’t change anything when you are focusing all of your energy on the defects of it.
- Find 5 things about your body that you like or appreciate. Do your legs work? Your eyes? Can you clap your hands? Can you hear music?
- Now (probably easier) find 5 things you would have are different about your physical self.
- Make a list of those positive things and let yourself know why it is you appreciate them. How do they help you function in your life? How does what you do benefit someone else?
- Now flip the page and make a list of the 5 aspects of your physical self that you would rather be different. How do those thigns take away from your ability to live a happy and purposeful lives. What do you do to make up for them? How important is each one of those perceived defects in your life? How have you adapted to any physical limitations you may have?
A little heads up…
Nothing is ever going to be exactly the way you think it should be because the reasons why you think you want what you want are false. Everything will fall short of your expectations of them until you can accept them for exactly who and what they are which seems impossible until you realize that your expectations usually come from other people. Other people’s expectations also came from other people, and all of those people created their expectations according to their very unique individual life experiences. This means that what they believe about the world to be true can only BE true because of what they believe.
You create the world around you according to what you believe. What you believe is what you think and what you think is what you believe. You are constantly doing things to reinforce that which you believe to the world round you. You create a world of believers around you, because what you believe to be true is the parameters by which you will make your choices and decisions in life.
How did you choose your husband or wife? Your friends? What is it about your friends that you feel reflects who you are? How about your job…did you choose it or did it choose you?
There are a million questions you can ask yourself to allow yourself to find out the truth about what it is you believe. Sometimes investigating these ideas is difficult. It will force you into a position of having to let go of the expectations of perfection you have for the teachers in your life. Some of your teachers will be harsh and some gentle. But make no mistake about it, every person with whom you have interacted and who has created any emotion in you and you in them are a relationship. Some relationships are intense and memorable and pervasive. Others are quick and light and easy. Some feel good and some feel bad, but each relationship and the type of relationships we choose in our lives really tells us a great deal about the choices we are making and the direction we are heading.
My desire to be more aware of my relationships has caused an extreme shift in both the way I perceive my family and the way they perceive me. What is important and unimportant to me has become starkly real, and valuable. I find that the more I get of this feeling of innate security, the more I want of it which makes me continue to want to do the work of truth-seeking. So I use each interaction to try and figure out more about what I am supposed to do. Life is like a great mystery novel. I don’t think Truth is a place you “get to”, or if it’s even like the “who dunnit” in the last chapter. It is not a destination nor is it a goal. However, making goals within the context of finding Truth is a very good idea.