Gratitude Grows Joy in our Life

Cultivating gratitude nourishes the seeds of joy in our life. Many people have transformed their lives just by the practice of gratitude alone.  Here’s why: the practice of gratitude rewires us from deep inside.  Where before we were wired to pay attention only to what wasn’t working, to what was wrong, what was missing, we are now wired to notice all the beauty and abundance all around us. We notice all that is right with our lives and all the little miracles that happen every day. We spend more time living in the present moment, appreciating our life. It’s a huge shift in our energy…our vibration is raised and we connect with our inner joy.

That seed is nourished and it grows and begins to bear the fruit of joyful abundance, love, success and fulfillment.

 

What are You Hoping For?

I hope I get the job.  I hope it all works out for you.   I hope my proposal is accepted. I hope you are feeling better.  I hope they’ll like me.  I’m hopeful that things will turn around for us. I hope humanity will wake up and realize we are all One.  Hope. Hope. Hope.  When we use the word hope in this way, it’s a pretty wimpy form of expressing our desire or our intention, isn’t it?  It’s like passive wishing.  It has no power.  Ernest Holmes calls hope “a subtle illusion.”

And the truth is, that’s where a lot of us are with hope. In fact, when we express the idea of “hope” in this fashion we’re kind of excusing ourselves from actually doing anything to positively affect the outcome, aren’t we?  It sounds like we’re being positive and practicing positive thinking.  But we’re really not. Of course it’s better than saying, I’m sure I won’t get the job, or I’m afraid they won’t like me, or I’m not feeling good that it will work out for you. Hope is actually one step above that.  It’s not destructive. But it’s not creative either.  And remember we are creative beings, we’re creating all the time…not just with our words but with the energy behind the words.

There is another way, though, of approaching the idea of hope that can be creative.  It’s about shifting our understanding of hope and holding it as an energy that opens up possibility. If we can approach hope in this way, then hope can be a powerful key that unlocks potential for us and others.  It can be that essential shift from not seeing an answer, not seeing any possibility, to accepting a larger Truth that harmony, wellbeing and abundance are what the Universe has in fact already given us…and our hope becomes…expectation that opens a way for its realization.

In fact expectation is hope amplified.  Expectation carries a feeling of some certainty about it.  You prepare…you make way…you actively get ready to receive.

Every woman who has had a baby knows exactly what this is about.  When you are in that last trimester of pregnancy, there’s no doubt a baby is coming in a few weeks.  No doubt there will be another little life joining your family…and that that little one is going to need your round the clock attention.  You may not have realized it early on in the pregnancy. Early on, the focus was on staying healthy and maybe starting to think about what having a baby will mean for you and your partner.

But in that last trimester, you prepare.  You make the necessary adjustments in your family — arranging for maternity, or paternity leave if you are fortunate enough to have that.  You get the baby’s room painted and decorated.  You set up the crib and changing table.  You buy and install the baby seat in your car.  You’ve had your baby shower and have put away all those adorable, expensive, little outfits that your baby will either permanently soil immediately, or outgrow before he or she get a chance to wear it more than once. :-)

So, expectation (which remember is hope amplified) leads us to take the appropriate action to prepare for its coming.  Can you say the same for the things you are hoping for?  Are you preparing just as robustly for your new job coming, or your proposal being accepted, or your health returning fully, or your perfect mate coming into your life?  Are you preparing for a world that works for everyone? In other words…heaven on earth?

If so, then you have amplified hope to the next level and are living in joyous expectation. You are open to the possibilities.  You have cleared a path for your good to make its way to you.  And one of the best ways to activate this energy of amplified hope…of ensuring a positive outcome is to cultivate a gratitude practice.

Practicing proactive gratitude helps us to see that we are already blessed, therefore we must be worthy of a fulfilling and joyous life.  We begin to accept that the universe does indeed work together for our good, and that things naturally work out for us.  Therefore, cultivating a gratitude practice is connects us with the fulfillment of the thing or experience we are hoping for.  We rest in joyful expectancy and are lead to take the appropriate action in order to help facilitate the realization of our desired good.  As co-creators, our participation is an essential part of the process.

I have amplified hope you will commit to a practice of proactive gratitude and all that you are hoping for this holiday season, and in the new year, is already coming into your life!

Gratitude Is (Jack Kornfield)

Gratitude is a gracious acknowledgment of all that sustains us, a bow to our blessings, great and small. Gratitude is confidence in life itself. In it we feel how the same force that pushes grass through cracks in the sidewalk invigorates our own life. … Gratitude receives in wonder the myriad offers of rain and sunlight, the care that supports every single life.
Happy Thanksgiving

- Jack Kornfield, Bringing Home the Dharma

Can the Practice of Gratitude Make us Wealthy?

Well, I don’t know if we can become wealthy by simply practicing gratitude. But I do know that the practice of proactive gratitude can heal our relationship with money and can increase our experience of prosperity in all areas including financial.

Here’s how it works.  First, be grateful for every dollar that comes in.  A consciousness of gratitude in regards to our income helps us to see that money is Divine energy in motion. We begin to see the amount – no matter how small it may be – as evidence of substance rather than a symbol of lack.  By allowing a feeling our gratitude to fill our consciousness we understanding that behind that substance we see with our eyes, lies ever-present, limitless, all-providing good.  Our gratitude opens us up to receive more.

Secondly, when we exchange that money for goods and services by paying our bills, we can express our gratitude once again.  How blessed we are to be able to afford a roof over our head, food in our bellies, and heat in our homes (not to mention all the extras like computers and cars and iPhones, that the majority of the world’s population will never know.)

After practicing this for a while you will begin to develop an awareness that earning an income, buying goods and services and perhaps sharing our good with others is participating in a Divine positive energy exchange.  We feel like active participants in this positive energy exchange and we begin to activate the law of circulation in our lives – opening the floodgates for more good to flow into our lives.

Try this and prove it to yourself.  You will witness your relationship with money transform and your experience of prosperity increase!

The Power of an Expansive Vision

In her book, The Path, Laurie Beth Jones says, “Your vision statement is the force that will sustain you when your mission statement seems too heavy to endure, enforce or engage.  All significant changes and inventions began with a vision first.”  OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Now think about your own life for a moment.  Think about those times where you pushed through your exhaustion and discomfort and moved past your fear and forged ahead, and enlisted help from others…I’d be willing to bet it was those time that you had a clear vision and you were committed to seeing accomplished.  Whether it was graduating college…maybe you had a vision of you stepping up on a stage with your cap and gown and someone putting a diploma in your hand, or a vision of you walking down the aisle to marry the man or woman of your dreams, or a vision of raising children who become fine human beings, or, perhaps it was making some huge positive change in your life.  We succeed in realizing our vision to the degree we are able to focus on that vision.  If we get bogged down in the struggle, or give in to our fear, or think about how long it’s going to take, or how much effort it will take, or that we might fail, then we will surely fail.  However, When we focus on the vision …the end result…we manifest it!  And our lives…and those whom our lives touch…are blessed because of it.

What we need to know is that a higher vision for our lives is always seeking to emerge from us.  Some of us know what that is and are on the path now!  Some may have a vague idea of what it is, and other don’t know what it is yet…or are even aware there is a vision seeking to emerge within you.  But it’s there knocking at the door of your consciousness saying, “you were made for a more magnificent and fulfilling life.  You were made to bring forth the vision that is within you.  Get on it.”

Now, if we don’t “get on it”, we might experience endless frustration (and not even know where that’s coming from) or nothing seems to really click, and we waste a lot of time chasing after something that we think will make us happy…but ultimately doesn’t.  As Rev. Michael Beckwith says, “Allow yourself to be pulled by your vision, rather than being pushed by the pain.”

What is your higher vision?  It’s vital that we discover what that is because unless we’re in touch with that expansive, Divine vision for our life, we are living according to some lesser vision. Remember, the universe is always receiving our impression…and our impression consists of whatever the majority of our focus is on.  If our focus is on just trying to get through the day, or trying to make something work…or if our focus is on what’s missing from our lives, and what’s wrong with us and what’s wrong with others and with our world…if that’s what the majority of our focus is centered around – that’s our vision!  And that’s what the universe hears, and goes about creating more of for us.

We are creative beings and the universe responds to our beliefs and what we’re focused on.   So, if our focus is on all the blessings in our life, as well as on a higher vision for our life, that’s what the universe works to create for us, or leads us to the right place where we’re guided to take action.

If you could use some support in discovering your vision, and/or staying on track with that vision until it becomes manifest, I have several new products and services that might just be the thing you are looking for:  Click here. 

A Day in the Life with Gratitude

The practice of gratitude can do so much more for us than simply making us feel good and raising our vibration so that we will attract more good into our life.  The practice of daily proactive gratitude can also help us identify, and keep in the forefront of our minds, what is sacred in our lives.  Gratitude activates the sacredness of “ordinary things” and “ordinary moments.” When it is our intention to seek out and find things and experiences for which to be grateful — when that is our primary focus — it helps us identify the sacred and connect with it!

Let’s take a “day in the life” of Sam to see how this works.  Sam has a habit of focusing on what’s wrong and what’s missing in his life.  It’s 6:30 AM Monday morning and Sam’s alarm goes off at.   His first thought is, “Oh God it’s Monday!  I wish I could sleep in, but I’ve got to get up, get dressed and get to work.  Ugh.”  And he just sort of goes through the motions like he has blinders on, so he doesn’t notice anything other than…the pants he wanted to wear today are dirty. He grumbles.  Then when he gets downstairs to grab something quick to eat he sees he’s out of his favorite cereal. “Must have been the kids.”  Then when he gets into his car he realizes the gas tank is on “E”.  His wife didn’t fill up the gas tank after she drove to the lake yesterday! “Errr!”  Then, of course he’s seeing that there are more and more cars on the road every day, and he’ll be stuck in traffic for awhile.  So he stops to get a coffee at Starbucks and is immediately frustrated when he sees the extra-long line.  By the time he gets into the office he’s seething with negativity.  No wonder no one says “good morning” to him when he walked in.  Finally when he arrives at his desk he finds a huge report laying there that he’s been asked to analyze before the end of the week.

His whole week is shot before it really begins.  Where are the sacred places and moments in that person’s life?  Where’s the joy in his life?  Maybe he can find some on the weekend, but probably not since he has developed a habit of seeing only what’s missing and what’s wrong.  Not a life worth living really, is it?

Now let’s say this same person has indeed developed a practice of proactive gratitude. Let’s look at his Monday morning from that perspective. 6:30 AM…his alarm goes off.  His first thought is, “Oh Thank God I had such a good sleep, I think I only woke up once in the night.” Then he looks over at his wife sleeping next to him and he’s immediately grateful he’s sharing his life with someone. Then he thinks about his two kids who are just waking up to go to school and he’s grateful they are safely in their beds and are healthy. Even before he gets out of bed he realizes how blessed his life is.  Then when he goes to his closet and notices his favorite pants are dirty he continues to look around and notices a pair he hasn’t worn in a long time because he just hasn’t seen them.  He feels good when he puts those on and they still fit.  In fact, they look pretty good. Then, when he goes downstairs and discovers his favorite cereal is gone, he’s grateful to discover some English muffins in the refrigerator. He hasn’t had an English muffin in a long time and is grateful to rediscover how much he enjoys it.  Next, when Sam get’s into his car and discovers he’s out of gas, he thinks about his wife using the car to go to the lake and feels happy knowing she had such a great time with the kids there…which also allowed him alone time where he could watch back-to-back football games uninterrupted. This just fills his heart with more love and gratitude as he fills the tank.

Then on his way to work he’s feeling so grateful to live in such a beautiful part of the country where there is beauty on both sides of the road the entire way to work.  As he is forced to slow down because of all the traffic, he just has more time to enjoy each individual tree and be grateful for it. He soon feels the sacredness of life all around him.  Then when he stops at Starbucks and gets in the long line, he strikes up a casual conversation with the guy in front of him. And because his positive attitude is so infectious the other guy’s mood begins to brighten.  As they talk they find that they work in the same industry, have clients in common, and end up trading contact info which may turn into increased business for both of them.

Sam’s now humming with this high vibration as he walks through the office doors. People can’t help but notice and as he greets them with a big smile and a “good morning!” He’s just shared his positive energy with everyone there which in turn, affects their day, which in turn ultimately has a positive effect on the business…which keeps him employed.  Finally as he sits down at his desk and sees the gigantic report — he’s tempted to get discouraged and feel overwhelmed, but he remembers to take a moment before he reacts.

What is also sacred is that moment between what happens to us, and how we react to it.  It could be just a split second, but if we take that time and remember it can be a sacred moment…it can be the moment we allow the Divine to enter our thinking and our feeling, and ask that wisdom to inform how we respond to what is happening to us.  That, in and of itself, can transform our lives.

So, Sam does this and gradually sees that in this report he’ll find useful information there which will somehow bless him and others, all the while his skills and expertise will be exercised for the good of all concerned.  And he begins to tackle it with gusto.  And he’s filled with gratitude generally about being employed, knowing that some of his friends are not.

Sam’s day, and entire week is certain to reveal more and more blessings as he moves through it, because his high vibration is attracting more and more good.

Two different experiences rightSame circumstances…same events…but what a different experience!  All of this is possible because he has trained himself to seek out and find the blessing in all situations.  He’s trained himself to begin each day by looking for something to be grateful for.  He has trained himself to see possibility.  Which life would you want to live?

Most would say the second one!  And you can have that life right now, just by making the decision to practice daily proactive gratitude…by making the decision to look for the blessings and see the sacredness in “ordinary” things…every day of your life.

Radio Interview on Gratitude

Tonight, June 5th at 8:00pm EST I will be talking about the transformational practice of proactive gratitude with Judy Hansen on Celebrate You!  I hope you’ll listen in and call with questions.  The show will also be archived so you can pull it up and listen at any time.  Just go to: BlogTalk Radio to listen.

Everyone who visits this site can receive a free Gratitude Note Pad with which to record your 5 daily gratitudes.  For those who listen in to the show, I will include an extra pad for free.  Just click the box on the right to order, and let me know you listened to the show.  You’ll only pay shipping and handling.

Talk to you soon!

Practical Mysticism

“In Louisville, at the corner of Fourth and Walnut, in the center of the shopping district, I was suddenly overwhelmed with the realization that I loved all those people, that they were mine and I theirs, that we could not be alien to one another even though we were total strangers. It was like waking from a dream of separateness, of spurious self-isolation in a special world, the world of renunciation and supposed holiness… This sense of liberation from an illusory difference was such a relief and such a joy to me that I almost laughed out loud… But it cannot be explained. There is no way of telling people that they are all walking around shining like the sun.”

This was Thomas Merton’s accounting of a mystical experience he had in 1958.  Quite the experience, right?  And quite the realization that accompanied that experience!  

But mystical experiences do not need to be this intense to cause a shift in our awareness.  In fact, they can range anywhere on a wide spectrum of, at one end, the real intense, cosmic-consciousness kinds of experience, and on the other end, the more subtle experiences.  More often than not, mystical experiences are much more subtle, and sometimes go unmarked.  Let’s call these subtler ones “opening our mystic-heart.”

You might have a mystic-heart experience in those moments where, say…you and a loved one share a deep connection…a true “heart-moment” and you lose track of time and place.  Or, in a moment you are looking at the sky – the sunset maybe, or just clouds moving across the sky and you are in a state of awe…again losing a sense of location and time.  Those moments become transcendent.  It could also happen in those moments where you drift off and catch just a glimpse of another dimension…or some insight comes to you directly from Source, and you suddenly have a strong realization about something.  Those are all mystic-heart experiences, and what we’re really experiencing in those moments is our natural state…the Divine beings that we are.   It’s this “being human” thing that fools us into thinking that we are locked in the limitations of time and space and that we are just a physical body.  This is not our natural state.  We’re just here for awhile expressing in this human dimension….and hopefully bringing our love and sharing our gifts with the world.  That’s really what we’re all here for, right?

Wayne Teasdall, explains what mysticism is in his book, The Mystic Heart: “Mystical wisdom enlarges our understanding and gives us access to the experience of ultimate reality – to the principles governing existence.  Mysticism grants us a picture of the totality; it is the most precious wisdom we have.”

We want to cultivate these mystic moments and encourage them, because with each mystic-heart opening, our vibration is lifted and we’re a little freer of the shackles human limitation.  With each mystic-heart moment, we become a little more awake.

But the how still remains, right?  How do we achieve this? How do we cultivate cosmic-consciousness?

William Blake gave us a clue when he wrote:  “If the doors of perception were cleansed everything would appear to man as it is—Infinite.”

So it’s not about trying to achieve something at all.  It’s about cleaning the gunk from our windows so we can see reality!  It’s about purifying our vision so we can see our oneness with the Infinite.

Well, there are ways we can “cleanse the windows through which we see the world.”  And, by the way, these are not just my methods…these are across the board, time-tested methods going all the way back to the Tao Te Ching, and to St. Teresa, and to Evelyn Underhill who wrote the guide to “Practical Mysticism” back in the 1920’s. This is just my personal interpretation of it.

1. Open your heart wide.  Spirit resides within all of nature and It also resides within the center of each and every one of us…even if some are doing a good job of covering it up!  Therefore, search for the Spirit in everything and in everyone.   You’ll find it if you keep looking.  Also, allow God to love you.   The Infinite loves you so totally and unconditionally…exactly as you are right now.   You are beloved.  Let it in.  Allow yourself to feel loved.  Let it fill your heart and soul.  The following affirmation might be helpful to do in the morning, and right before falling to sleep at night.

I consciously open to the Cosmic Power of Love within my heart.  I see Spirit in everything and everyone.  I accept that God loves me totally and completely right now.  I am a beloved, Radiant One.

2.  The second way is to: Get comfortable with the questions…with wondering.

William Martin says in The Sage’s Tao Te Ching.  “Some see answers as strong and questions as weak…But I tell you the truth: The happy person is not the one with all the answers.  Each new question is an affirmation of the delight of living.”

Do you want more delight in living?  Then begin to get more comfortable with not knowing the answers to everything.  Become more comfortable with the unknown, the undefinable edges…the why…the mystery.  That’s what mystics do.  It’s the same root word.  The arrogance that comes from one thinking he or she has all the answers is what leads to fundamentalism, and rigid institutions, and politics.  Lots of people get hurt over one side thinking they have all the answers.   You see this playing out all over the Middle East.  You see it here in the halls of congress.  Each side thinking they know what’s best for the country…and for everyone.  And they won’t even pretend to listen to what the other side has to say.  What comes from knowing all the answers to everything?  Pain and suffering.  Those are extreme example of course, but we all do it on a smaller scale.  We think we know the answers to a lot of things.

So, we want to get more comfortable with wondering.  We can practice this by wondering how the Divine will unfold in someone’s life – maybe someone you’ve been thinking about, or praying about — and not thinking you know what would be best for them.  Or, wondering how big the universe is..how expansive is it?  Or, what it’s like in the afterlife.  We can also wondering how we can be both human and Divine at the same time.  And don’t look for answers!!  Just be in the question.  What an amazing mystery life is!

3.  Refuse to pre-judge anything. This is such a habit with us human beings.  We do it so much we don’t even know we’re prejudging.  Someone asks us if we want to go see a movie and we say “no, I don’t like genre of film, or that actor.  I won’t see it.”  Or we’re invited to a party and we say, “no, I won’t know anyone there and it would be awkward.”  Or we refuse to try the Uni Sushi on the menu because it looks weird and we’re certain we won’t like that.  Or worse, we refuse to talk to, and get to know someone, because of the way they’re dressed or the way they talk.  We’ve prejudging him or her.  Whenever we’re tempted to say no, or turn our backs, or refuse to participate in something, it could be a clue that we’re pre-judging.  So, see if you can catch yourself, and instead stay open.  ”Hmmmm, I don’t really know what this experience will be like, but I’m not going to pre-judge it.  I’m gonna remain open and see what gifts there are in it for me.”

4.  We want to put aside the endless classification of things.  And also refuse to accept anything for what it first appears to be.  This tendency to classify and categorize happens more the older, and more knowledgeable we get.  We look at the world and when we see things we don’t really see them.  We see a name in our head.  Oh, that’s a cardinal. Yes, I know what that is.  The male is bright red and the female is more brown.  Rather than…oh my God!  Look at that gorgeous bird!  It’s so brilliantly red!!  It’s exquisite!!!  We do this with flowers too.  Those things that have just come up my garden are iris’s – black irises.  The first time I saw anything like that, it took my breath away.  It’s impossibly deeply purple! Now, that I know what they are, I can dismiss them with a “oh that;s a black iris.”   And the fragrant smell that’s in the air right now in North Carolina? That’s honeysuckle.  I’d never smelled that until I came here, and when I did the first time, it was like heavenly ambrosia.  I thought I died and gone to heaven. Then someone told me what it was, and now, it’s like…oh yeah, that’s honeysuckle.

There’s something about naming and classifying something that just sucks all the magic out of it.   How can we get back to the magic of it? How can we regain that sense of awe we had when we first encountered something we didn’t know what it was?   I was thinking about this the other day.  One way I thought of is to have a baby.  With a new baby you get to re-experience life all over again with it…everything is awesome.  They are in total awe of everything that first year.  But alas, that doesn’t last. They quickly grow into teenagers! And then, everything is boring.  So, not a good plan.

Teresa of Avila told her pupils, “I do not require of you to form great and curious considerations in your understanding.  I require of you no more than to look.”  I think she meant to gaze with a new and cleansed vision on the same things we’ve been looking at and dismissing with a, “oh, well that’s a (fill in the blank.)”  What we really need to do is to transcend the intellect…that part of us that wants to classify and categorize.  And then get into a state of gratitude for what we’re encountering.  This is how we can experience things as if for the first time.   Gratitude is how we get into direct communication with life itself…and experience the miracle of the creation, on piece at a time!  It takes practice.  (See other articles on this blogsite on how to practice proactive gratitude.)

5.  Finally…and here’s the tough one…surrender.  Surrender to Spirit.  That means, surrender that all-mighty ego!  And it often feels like death.  But it’s only when we surrender our little self (die to the small self) that the Infinite has room and can move in, fill us with ecstatic love, Divine Life Energy, and enfold all our activities in the one unifying “cosmic context.

This surrendering rarely occurs completely all at once.  Those it does happen to this way often experience a “dark night of the soul.” For many mystics, their illumination came at the very end of their “dark night of the soul.”   Some of you may have already experienced that.

For most of us though, we can do this gradually and gently.  Nothing wrong with that!  We can encourage a gradual letting go of the ego and surrendering to Spirit by affirming every morning:

I step back and let God lead the way. (Or,) I step back and let Love lead the way.

And then check ourselves throughout the day.  Is that my ego responding to this, or is it the Love within me?   If it’s the ego, we have the freedom to then, choose again.

In the moments when we can keep our heart’s open, and see things anew, and refuse to pre-judge anything, and soften our rigidity and let our Love lead the way….in those moments…we open to and can experience the Mystic Heart!

Gratitude Opens Doors

Gratitude open us up to the limitless potential that is all around us.  It opens our hearts, allowing more love to flow.  It opens our powers of perception and we see so much of what we were missing before.  Gratitude opens our minds, allowing more intelligence and creativity to flow.  It opens energy centers in our body, allowing more wellbeing to flow. Gratitude opens the doors to our life, allowing more possibility to flow.

We have at our command a powerful healing and prospering tool.  It is the daily practice of gratitude.  Try it…now.  Think of 5 things for which you are grateful right now.  At the end of the day, think of 5 things that you are grateful for that occurred that day.  Repeat this practice tomorrow…and the next day…and the next, until it becomes a joyful habit and you find yourself looking for things to be grateful for in every situation…in every moment.  If you do, I promise this: your life will transform.

Love in Action Begin in Our Own Hearts

I just recently heard again a story I’d heard awhile back about the Dalai Lama who, when he came to this country for the first time, he was teaching the Loving-kindness Meditation – which of course begins with expressing LK to yourself first: “May I Be Happy, May I Be at Peace”…etc. he was dumbfounded when people would tell him they had trouble with that part of it.  That it was easier to hold other people in their hearts, but they couldn’t do it for themselves…they had a hard time loving and being compassionate to themselves.  He was completely taken aback.  It was apparently unheard of in his country!

What is it about this culture that makes it difficult to love and be compassionate to ourselves?  Are we taught that this is selfish and vain?  Is it a holdover from our Christian “work & self-sacrifice at all times” ethic?

Or is it because we have such a hero-worshipping culture? We glorify beautiful young stars who can sing perfectly and dance amazingly, or excel at sports or succeed phenomenally in business. And when we compare ourselves to this standard we always come up short.   Is it not enough to be our personal best…we need to be impossibly stellar?

Maybe it’s a combination of these two things.  Whatever it is, we can begin to turn this around with practice.

1. Take notice of all the times you berate yourself for little things throughout the day, like forgetting something or not completing a task you wanted to complete, or not communicating something to someone like you wanted to, or giving into temptation and eating the entire box of Valentine’s chocolates :-) .  Just notice how many times a day you are judging yourself.  And now, take note of how many times you praise yourself for the times you are loving and patient, and you do communicate something well, and you do finish a task and you do remember something!

2. Take a page from my friend Rhonda Britten’s playbook:  At the end of the day, write down 5 things you can acknowledge yourself for.  They could be as simple as you made someone smile, or that you made time to meditate that day.  Then look over the list and allow yourself to feel how good it feels to nurture loving and accepting yourself.

3. Listen to the guided meditation I’ve posted (or will post shortly) here on my Unity Center of Peace website that helps nurture your “inner hero” (which I guided congregants through last Sunday.)

4. Now that you’re on our way to nurturing love and compassion for yourself – the next logical thing is to realize that we are all connected.  Like one big gorgeous diamond with millions of facets…we are all facets of the same one gem.  So it becomes natural then to want to extend our love when we first nurture it within ourselves.  We find that being kind comes naturally…therefore we let someone in on the highway, or we have a genuine smile for the cashier, or we find ourselves raising our hand to volunteer to help out.   It’s who we are as expressions of love to extend that love into the world that we are so much a part of.

5. Take your love and acceptance of yourself and your love and acceptance of others into action in the world.  Meditate and/or pray about how you can best use your time and talents to share your love with the world….to be of genuine service.  And then, get moving in that direction.

Remember what Ram Dass said in his book, How Can I Help?:

“When our models of who we are fall away, we are free simply to meet and be together.  And when this sense of being encompasses all — one another, the park, the rain, everything — separateness dissolves and we are united in compassion.  Helpful Being then is the goal. What we have to offer others will come from our sense of unity.  So we look for and cherish those experiences in which we feel ourselves connected to all things and to the universe….There’s more to the deed than the doer and what’s been done.  You yourself feel transformed and connected to a deeper sense of identity.”