A stronger realization of the evil in drinking hit me recently when I stumbled on some news on Facebook. No, I was not dipping into the Sacramental Wine. A father who had had a couple of bottles too many took hold of the steering wheel and drove himself, his wife and stepmother to the embrace of death. Luckily, thanks to a Good Samaritan who was close to the murder (or manslaughter) scene, his son was rescued from the sinking car.
A quick Google search will, however, lead us to countless other stories of a drunkards killing strangers, killing family and friends, or even himself. Why then do we choose to surrender our sanity — and even our humanity — to this liquefied femme fatale called alcohol?
Statistics, according to the Drug-Free World Foundation, establish that alcohol kills more teenagers than all other drugs combined, and is a factor in the three leading causes of death among young persons: accidents, homicides and suicides. Not only that; youth who drink are 7.5 times more likely to use other illegal drugs and are fifty times more likely to use cocaine.
It has also been shown that at least 40% of violent crimes occur under the influence of alcohol. What is more, alcoholic drinks are getting cheaper by the decade. They are becoming more and more affordable, so no one is left out from this global entrapment.
It is therefore not doubtful that alcohol has wrought great havoc not only on our quality of life, but the quantity of the living. Though thinking right — in other words, sanity — can have its downsides, and though not easily forgetting or repressing sour memories can draw us into melancholy, alcohol is no true escape route. It does not offer an exit from the premises of our problems. It only switches off the light for a moment.
The problems — though invincible — remain. It gives us temporary breaks from challenges such as poverty, unemployment, strained relationships and so on; and many a time, it leads to permanent damages.
Away from the figures, the writer has personally experienced how alcohol can often embitter an otherwise great marriage and relationship. (Usually) the father spends a great deal of his income buying it for himself and friends, and he spends most of what remains trying to clean up at the hospital: liver disease cancer, malnourishment, gastrointestinal problems, osteoporosis and so on. He also spends a great deal of his time arguing with his wife and beating his kids — all for silly or no reasons at all. He even borrows or steals from his wife to fuel this indulgence of his. And so, there is nothing left in his pocket for the upkeep of his family, nothing left in his time for keeping up with his family and nothing left in his head to realize this tragedy.
For the youth, though the character and plotline may differ, the story often heads for the same ending: misery. It is a vicious, almost never-ending, cycle wrapped in shame and anguish. If we shut our eyes to the place of peer pressure, then it is either pain leads you to the consumption of alcohol or the consumption of alcohol leads you to pain — or both.
You are facing problems with your studies, your secondary school mates have all graduated and are probably married, and your project supervisor is there making life hell for you. Or your girlfriend whom you love dearly just left you bitter for leaving for sweeter pastures. Or you flunked your final-year examinations, have to sit in classes with your juniors for a year. So you decide to seek solace in the flames of alcohol. Well, stop! Don’t.
Don’t submit your sanity to a bottle of fizzles or wood soaked liquid before it makes you a fizzle yourself. Don’t hand over the baton of your senses, even for a night, for that is your greatest weapon against life’s challenges. You do not win by running. You win through strategy and hard work — and a drunken man is not capable of both. Alcohol is a drug like all others. It has got a glittering package. It has got a sweet voice. It even looks great from the top.
But underneath all these is a quicksand of unending, yet limitless, misery. Trust me, it is not worth it. But don’t take my word for it; check the statistics. Look around you. See what you do not want to see and see the reality for yourself.
Center for Healing, Growth, & Recovery Ministries
Reverend Marc Baisden, MACP, CMHC, Min. (C) 2019
Principle 1: Master the courage to question reality.
No plan survives its collision with reality, and reality has a habit of shifting, at work and at home. Markets and economies change, requiring shifts in strategy. People change and forget to tell each other – colleagues, customers, spouses, friends. We are all changing all the time.
Not only do we neglect to share this with others, we are skilled at masking it even to ourselves.
Principle 2: Come out from behind yourself into the conversation and make it real.
While many fear “real”, it is the unreal conversations that should scare us to death. Unreal conversations are expensive, for the individual and the organization. No one has to change, but everyone has to have the conversation. When the conversation is real, the change occurs before the conversation is over. You will accomplish your goals in large part by making every conversation you have as real as possible.
Principle 3: Be here, prepared to be nowhere else.
Our work, our relationships, and our lives succeed or fail one conversation at a time. While no single conversation is guaranteed to transform a company, a relationship, or a life, any single conversation can. Speak and listen as if this is the most important conversation you will ever have with this person. It could be. Participate as if it matters. It does.
Principle 4: Tackle your toughest challenge today.
Burnout doesn’t occur because we’re solving problems, it occurs because we’ve been trying to solve the same problem over and over. The problem named is the problem solved. Identify and then confront the real obstacles in your path. Stay current with the people important to your success and happiness. Travel light, agenda-free.
Principle 5: Obey your instincts.
Don’t just trust your instincts – obey them. Your radar screen works perfectly. It’s the operator who is in question. An intelligence agent is sending you messages every day, all day.
Tune in. Pay attention. Share these thoughts with others. What we label as illusion is the scent of something real coming close.
Principle 6: Take responsibility for your emotional wake.
For a leader, there is no trivial comment. Something you don’t remember saying may have had a devastating impact on someone who looked to you for guidance and approval. The conversation is not about the relationship; the conversation is the relationship. Learning to deliver the message without the load allows you to speak with clarity, conviction, and compassion.
Principle 7: Let silence do the heavy lifting.
When there is simply a whole lot of talking going on, conversations can be so empty of meaning they crackle. Memorable conversations include breathing space. Slow down the conversation, so that insight can occur in the space between words and you can discover what the conversation really wants and needs to be about.
This article was written by Rev. Marc Baisden, MACP, MIN
Click HERE to Learn more about Marc Baisden.
"Knowing who you are is confidence. Confidence, not cockiness. Cockiness is knowing who you are and pushing it down everyone's throat." -- Mila Kunis
Do you know anyone who constantly tells you how great they are? Whether it's a blatant statement of bragging or a masked self-compliment, it's easy to recognize those who swagger. They are the ones who like to 'up' your story, who always have a better, bigger, or bolder experience than the one you shared.
They often are the loudest one in the room (though not all loud people are cocky--don't confuse that!), are able to speak over others, and are inclined to tell long, detailed stories, rarely pausing to read the expressions of those around them, assuming everyone is deeply fascinated with their tale. They interrupt. They have this uncanny way of steering every conversation back to them. When you speak, if you get the chance, you wonder if they are hearing anything you say.
There's something in them, some sort of inner need, that has to let you know that they are smart, successful, and superior. It's the kind of person we try to avoid at the office, at a party, or when we're out and about. And though they can appear to be quite confident, I think, deep down, their need to boast comes from a place of inferiority.
"Let another man praise you and not your own mouth; a stranger, and not your own lips." -- ancient proverb
And then there are those who struggle with having any confidence at all. These people live a cowardly life, tending to avoid confrontations and have difficulty speaking their truth. They sometimes stumble over their words and/or don't speak loud enough for you to hear clearly. They lack confidence in their own judgment, hesitate to try new things, and avoid challenges like the plague. Because of this lack of trust in self, they question their own abilities and often feel powerless. Those who struggle with personal power tend to have difficulty setting appropriate boundaries and can be "yes" men/women.
Somewhere in between the two extremes lies the emotionally intelligent competency of personal power.
"Confidence, like art, never comes from having all the answers; it comes from being open to all the questions." -- Marianne Williamson
Personal power, that sense of self-confidence and an inner knowing that you can thrive through life's challenges, can sometimes be confused with cockiness, but it's not that at all.
Those who have personal power -- who are strong in this understanding of their strengths (and areas of growth) believe they can set the direction of their lives. They are not victims to the winds of change but sense when things need to shift and take action to make that happen. They have a calm inner conviction about who they are and their abilities. Those rich with this competency tend to know what they want and go after it, and can speak their truth and give voice to their values and convictions.
Though they are the ones that make things happen, those with strong personal power don't always have to do it brashly and loudly. One important aspect is that they can distinguish between the things they can control and the things that are out of their control, and can let go of the latter when needed. They are always learning and never propose to have it all figured out.
Listen for how they define self. You'll hear them speaking about qualities of the heart, not about what they do. Try asking at your next social gathering, "Tell me about yourself?" and listen for whether or not they tell you what they do or who they are.
Think of those you lead -- or those who lead you -- your colleagues, your teammates, your manager, the boss, your pastor, your significant other, or someone you just admire. Which of these three C's does he/she lean toward: cockiness, cowardice, or confidence? Which type of leader would you rather follow? Which would you rather work alongside? I daresay we all are most drawn to those with true confidence.
Even more importantly, can you discern when you are being cocky, cowardly, or confident? It's an awareness worth developing.
"There is a fine line between confidence and cocky. Confidence can bring you many things, but cockiness can make you lose many things." -- Azgraybebly Josland
Those who take the time to develop this competency of personal power unleash their ability to convey their ideas and solutions in an assured manner which gives others confidence in their ability to solve problems and achieve results. In other words, those that have personal power can lead, and lead well.
Most of us dance between the three, cockiness, cowardice, and confidence, depending on the day, our mood, and our behavioral self-control. In other words, we all have room to grow. Here are nine practical steps to begin moving toward true confidence/personal power:
Remember the glory days. Success breeds confidence, so take a moment to remember the things you've achieved in life so far. What are your success stories? Where have you excelled? When did you accomplish a goal you set out to reach and how did you go about accomplishing it? Remembering past successes -- even those you achieved as far back as childhood -- can help boost your levels of personal power when you begin to doubt your abilities.
It takes a village. Now think about who helped you accomplish those goals? Who believed in you or gave you the inspiration to keep going even when things got rough? Did anyone provide financial means which enabled you to succeed, or come alongside you as a friend or mentor to be there when you needed them? Reminding ourselves that our successes most always are a team effort can help us avoid the full-of-self syndrome. And leaning into friends as you accomplish goals can be a source of encouragement and help ensure success.
Identify the voices. I led a women's group once and we attempted to get to the root of our insecurities. In almost every case, as children, we had been told by someone that we couldn't -- or shouldn't -- and now, as adults, we still believed that lie. Think on the areas where you lack confidence and see if you can remember where you first heard that maybe you were no good at it. Identify who said it and when. Recognizing the source of negative thoughts can help put them in their place as you move toward a more positive outlook.
Stop the hurtful self-talk. Even if someone was hurtful with their words, it's most likely you who continues the negative self-talk. Notice when you say, "I can't" or start a sentence with "I'm only...", diminishing yourself. Try not to begin with "I'm sorry, but...". Learn to state your truth without apologies. Also listen if you tend to tag "isn't it?" at the end of a suggestion, or "right?" Those words are a way of seeking approval of others and teaches them to treat us as lacking power.
Build some fences. Setting boundaries and learning to say "no" can free us up to accomplish the things that are important to us. Being a yes man/woman actually limits us to doing only what others ask of us vs. moving in the direction that we want. You may need to spend some time reviewing your value and clarifying your goals to begin setting appropriate boundaries.
Lay down the remote. Determine which things in your life you have control over, and which areas you don't. Hint: you can never control others’ thoughts, behaviors, or actions. Trying to control what you can't will only lead to frustration. What you do have control over are your own thoughts, behaviors, and actions.
Dream a little dream. When we create something new, it appears first as a thought. Envision yourself as smart, competent, articulate, poised, admired...and humble. Use the prompt, "In a perfect world, I would ___" and fill in how it would look if you were teeming with personal power.
Shhh. In your next conversation, and those that follow, determine to listen more than you speak. Ask open-ended questions with the goal of learning more about the other person and the whys behind their thoughts and actions. If you tend to tell long-winded tales, shorten your stories and pause often to ask the other person to share as well.
Follow the leader. Find those in your life that exhibit true confidence and strive to emulate them. Watch how they interact with others -- in meetings and in one-on-one conversations. If possible, ask to meet with them for lunch and learn from them.
As with all change for the positive, it's easier if you work with a coach to help you stay on track. Consider engaging a social + emotional intelligence coach to walk alongside you. Shifting behaviors, especially habits we've been practicing for a long time, can take time and effort, but the benefits of moving away from cockiness and cowardice toward confidence will be rewarding.
"As is our confidence, so is our capacity." -- William Hazlitt
This article was written by Amy Sargent.
Click HERE to Learn more about her work.
Passion frightens people. We are told to find our passion and pursue it, and simultaneously censured for being too passionate. The world sets out to tame and calm us while telling us to live our passion fully. I unfortunately learned over the years to hide my passion in most situations. Full out laughter might result in someone telling me I was being too loud or that people were looking at me. Crying meant I was just an over-emotional female. Spreading my arms in the night wind inevitably resulted in someone asking me what I was “on” since clearly that kind of passion requires drugs. A lover once told me while I was wrapped in his arms that I was getting carried away, which of course I thought was the point.
And then there is work, where I was told over and over “we can tell you are passionate” in a disapproving tone. This happened everywhere from fund-raising meetings, where one needs a bit of passion, to academic councils where I was bringing new innovative programs for approval. Of course this took place in an academic setting where we ask faculty to share their passion with students, and to fill students with passion for a discipline and lifelong learning.
Over and over again we are instructed to live our passion and then told to tone it down. What if we live our passion and fall completely in love, only to have our hearts broken? What if we find a career we are passionate about and then find after a few years that we have fallen out of love and need a new direction? What if we are passionate about our family and fight to protect them? Or what if we are passionate about an issue, form a non-profit and change the world? A life of passion is dangerous.
This mixed message has hounded and haunted me. Am I having too much fun, too much in love with being alive, or perhaps just too much in love? Why should I dispassionately discuss my passion? Who is allowed to be passionate? Or maybe the question is who is courageous enough to be passionate.
Clearly people on the TED stage are passionate, as are commencement speakers, singers, performers and some fund-raisers. I have loved my passionate teachers and students, as well as the one time I had a fearlessly passionate lover. When I feel truly alive passion fills me, overflowing and dripping from my heart like thick sweet honey. Finding and feeling passion is not the issue, the challenge is having the courage to live it, sharing my honey like wine with a parched world.
I have spent years learning to moderate my voice in meetings, to sound dispassionate about topics that actually demand passion. I have learned to walk calmly and with strength, never displaying joy in my step. It is only when I am alone or with close friends that I let my love of life show on my face and in my demeanor. Until recently.
Something cut through the boundaries and borders of control that I have built over the years, and much like candy dancing free from the restraints of a piñata, my passion has broken free. I do not know where the courage came from to truly show up. Perhaps Kris Kristofferson was right when he wrote “freedom is just another word for nothing left to lose.” And perhaps finding freedom has made show off my passion. Perhaps it was the tango lessons that helped me shift my calm walk to a tango strut. Maybe I finally realized that my ability to laugh is a gift that positively changes the energy in a room. Or perhaps I just know that my meaning and purpose in life comes from being courageous enough to let my passion flow.
This article was written by Elisa Robyn
Click HERE to Learn more about her work.
It is so easy so easily to slip back into the old person you have been. In the past 12 days I have shared 12 principles of Emotional Intelligence ways to identify things in all of us and myself that we can work on. For me I could have easily trudged along on my well-trodden path of negative self-talk, comfortably overanalyzing, and well-worn pessimistic beliefs about myself. I sound almost human. Honestly, for all of us we can return to the old patterns so easily. It becomes a habit, if you will.
We already have the knowledge of how to do it, it is almost automatic, and it is comfortable because we used to use it. To not use those old habits and known self-destructive thoughts and behaviors takes dedicated work. As you do the dedicated work and are intentional about the change your making it becomes easier and you will end up not thinking about the changes and will just use them. The old, destructive habits are still in in you, yet you do not use them or even consider them as appropriate. It is the same as Recovery.
Ignite yourself, reread the past days writing, formulate your change plan and get to work. In those great words from Larry the Cable Guy: “Get Er Done”.
"What do I need?"
Lasting change in our lives will not be created and maintained, when we lack faith and belief in ourselves and our ignited mission. I truly believe that something has ignited inside of you. I bet that there is nothing else, worthy of your attention toward the change you need or want to make in you. So, what is it that need or want? Think honestly—what has really spoken to your heart and mind; what is whispering to you?
Free write these down and remember them as you move into the next phase. Free write means to write down everything that is in your heart and the edit it down.
"How do I get there? "Now that we've been specific, it is time to develop the steps toward success. What are the steps you can take to get to these changes? What acts, done consistently over time, will lead you to your change? Write them down, put them somewhere visible, and do them. There are a few tips to successfully latching on to new habits, if you haven't already found your own ways of doing so. Attach them to a current habit (I will count my blessings while I brush my teeth). Create a daily affirmation list, Create a daily to-do list and smile big when you check it off! Be vulnerable with a friend, boyfriend, Husband or wife, tell them your goals and ask them to help keep you accountable, or listen to a podcast on the skill you are wanting to practice. I recommend “Fit for Joy” to boost your awareness of the skill. Set a concrete time for practicing.
Whatever ends up working for you, don't forget to reflect. Take time to measure your progress, whether it is with a journal, a therapist, a friend, or a spreadsheet. Ready, set, PRACTICE!
Have Fun With Your Health, Growth & Recovery. In other word Yourself.
Center for Healing, Growth & Recovery Ministries
Reverend Marc Baisden, MACP, CMHC, Min
All right reserved, 4/2019
Mindful of Breathing: Mindful breathing involves focused attention on breathing. Notice how you are breathing. Notice slower breathing and fuller breaths. Notice your belly rise and fall as you breathe in and out. When your mind drifts away from your breathing, and it will, simply notice what caught your attention and gently shift your attention back to your breathing.
Mindful of Sounds: Following mindful breathing, focus your attention on sounds; soft sounds, loud sounds, nearby sounds, distant sounds. Notice your response to sounds. Notice if you are annoyed by a sound or judging a sound; then gently re-direct yourself to listening to sounds without judging. When your attention drifts away to a thought, notice what thoughts you were distracted by, and gently return your attention to sounds.
Meditation: The purpose of mindfulness meditation is to become more aware and accepting of internal processes; thoughts, feelings, urges, sensations, cravings, triggers, etc. Meditation is not intended for relaxation. People who are extremely anxious about internal processes or have difficulty sitting still may need to work up to a full session of 20 minutes, beginning with only 2-3 minutes at a time and working on other exercises more at first. The goal is 20 minutes of meditation two times a day. During meditation, if your mind drifts to thoughts about the past or worries about the future, gently re-direct your attention to the present moment. Mindfulness meditation is about staying in the present, not about achieving a heightened state of awareness or bliss (that’s transcendental meditation).
Mindful Eating: When eating mindfully, choose a place that is quiet and free of distractions. Before beginning to eat, look at the food. Notice what it looks like; its shape and size and color, and how it smells. Notice any internal sensations; salivation, hunger, urges before you taste the food. Now take a bite. Notice the taste, texture, and sensations in your mouth. Notice your chewing. Notice urges to swallow. Notice your swallowing. Notice your stomach as you swallow. Continue eating mindfully, noticing sensations in your stomach; feelings of hunger and fullness. Decide when you are finished eating based on when you are no longer hungry. Avoid eating while engaged in other activities, such as watching television, reading, or working. Notice feelings and thoughts associated with eating and urges to eat between meals.
Beginner’s Mind: Pick an object in the room that is familiar to you, then examine it with your beginner’s mind; that is, as if you have never seen the object before. Some people imagine they are an alien from another planet or an alien on another planet, seeing the object for the first time. Notice the shape, weight, texture and color of the object. Try to imagine what the object could be used for. As you continue to examine the object, do you notice anything about it that you may not have noticed before? When you put the object away, reflect on what you learned about the object that you didn’t already know. Consider what would happen if you approached other areas of your life with a beginner’s mind; people, places, objects, situations. How would these other areas of your life be the same or different if you approached them with beginner’s mind? What expectations do you now have that you would not have if you saw them for the first time?
Mindful of Thoughts: Once you are comfortable and have become mindful of your breathing, shift your attention to your thoughts. Become aware of whatever enters your mind. Remember that your purpose is simply to observe the thoughts that are in your mind without judging them. Observe thoughts as they come and go in and out of your awareness without trying to engage them, continue them, stop them or change them. Simply notice them. If you find yourself getting caught up in a thought, notice what caught your attention, then gently re-direct yourself to observing your thoughts. It is normal to get caught up in thoughts. When this happens, return to observing thoughts.
Mindful of Emotions: Begin by getting comfortable and becoming mindful of breathing. Think of an event in the past in which you experienced a particular feeling that you want to get in touch with; happy, sad, glad, scared, upset, angry, proud, embarrassed, etc. Remember the situation and imagine you are in the situation now. What do you see, hear, taste, smell, and touch? Notice what thoughts, feelings and sensations come up as you remember the situation. Pay particular attention to your feelings. Is there one feeling or more than one? Notice any urges to hold onto or push away your feelings. Respond to these urges with understanding. Notice how your body responds to the feelings. Is there tension anywhere? Sweaty palms? Racing heartbeat? Urge to cry? Urge to run or hide? Urge to fix it or make it go away? Simply be aware of your emotions without judging or trying to get rid of them. Re-direct your attention to just observing your emotions. Notice any changes in your emotions during this exercise. Do they change or stay the same? Get stronger or weaker? Return to mindful breathing before ending this exercise, as it can be a difficult one. This exercise can be done with moderate, less intense feelings at first.
Mindful of Physical Sensations: Physical sensations can be urges, pain, tension, hunger and racing heart. Begin to focus on sensations involved in your body as your body contacts the surface you are sitting or laying on. Notice the parts of your body that are not in contact with the surface. Notice the sensation of air on skin or a sheet touching the skin. Notice the air temperature. Notice any body sensations: urges, cravings, hunger, pain, muscle tension, racing heart, stiffness, cramps, body temperature, etc. Notice any thoughts or judgments you are making about your physical sensations; then gently re-direct your attention to your body sensations. After 5-10 minutes, shift your attention back to the sensations you feel as your body contacts the surface of your chair or bed, then focus on breathing.
Mindfulness in All Activities: We can apply mindfulness to any activity at any time during the day. We can drive mindfully and do household chores mindfully; meaning we are keenly focused on what we are doing at the moment. We can practice mindfulness in the shower, during a walk, in a park, at work, during exercise, in a store, in the Dr’s office, in the waiting room, while dressing, while playing or drawing, etc. When we find feeling of guilt about the past or anxiety about the future creep in, or unwanted thoughts, memories or cravings, we gently re-direct our focus to the here and now.
This article was written by Marc Baisden, MACP, MIN
Click HERE to Learn more about Marc Baisden.
Carl Sagan once wrote, “We were wanderers from the beginning”. As far as we know, this is true: our ancestors were nomads, crossing savannahs and jungles and forests, ever restless, in search of the next meal or friendlier climes. From the beginning, we were never entirely satisfied with our lot. The relentless push to civilization seems motivated by a single-minded desire for an ever-better life; one where at last we have beaten back the caprice of life to know happiness, satiation, and safety.
It is more than this: beyond the callings of our basic animal appetites, a deeper yearning seizes our hearts and minds. We want to know the world and our place within it. We want to understand this mysterious life, an inchoate hunger far more difficult to feed than an empty stomach. Perhaps it is in part borne of our social nature: a basic instinct to feel safe and certain through connection with something larger than ourselves. Perhaps it lies even deeper; with the arising of the human mind, the cosmos is expressing a need to behold and understand itself — a brilliant flash of sentience that illumines Indra’s Net, bearing witness to its glory.
Whatever the origins, we long to belong, and to understand. The nomadic spirit runs deep within us, we are restlessly in search of a home that seems ever to recede over the horizon, an elsewhere whose very appeal is its unattainability, its mystery, its promise of salvation and peace. The irony for this restless, curious wanderer is that we have always been home, and we have always belonged. Throughout history, we have had moments of insight that this deepest hope is true: that we are profoundly at home in the universe. This truth has never changed, but our yearning imagination has wandered far and wide, leaving our hearts heavy with anxiety, a nameless dissatisfaction with life.
For centuries we have seen ourselves as separate from Nature and pitted against her in a titanic and desperate struggle to dominate and survive. We are struggling heroically to awaken from this nightmare.
Though it is true that life is tenuous, the world often dangerous, there is no adversary Out There, only an internal struggle to embrace this life just as it is — beauty and ugliness, miracle and horror. It would appear to be a basic truth of our human psychology that when we fully recognize our Oneness with the world, something in us lets go. It is somehow impossible for us to be at war with the world when we see that the world is us and that we are it. Peace fills our hearts and we come forth changed beings, manifesting the miracle without the distortions of struggle. Life may remain difficult, but it is enchanted with new meaning — it is, in the words of Sǿren Kierkegaard, no longer “a problem to be solved, but a mystery to be lived”.
Yet although a few of us in each age set down the struggle, most of us do not. It is a core purpose in my life to pursue an end to the delusion of separation and to convey what meager understanding I achieve to others in the hope, however vain, that this Great Peace can spread itself more broadly among us in the coming years. It is my belief that the science of today tells a powerful story about our kinship with the whole of the world, revealing quite clearly that this restless nomad has wandered far and may wander much farther still, but has never, not even for a moment, left home.
This article was written by Joshua Sandeman
Click HERE to Learn more about his work.
The world can be a very scary place.
Everything seems to change daily.
Uncertainty in every aspect of life surrounds us.
We are all faced with one tragedy after another. On any day you can read about plane crashes, politics, racism, opioids, politics, politics, politics—
NO MORE POLITICS PLEASE – but we do need to pay attention.
You may be wondering; how does this affect love?
The current divorce rate around 50 per cent.
Can you imagine the impact on the children?
On one hand, no wonder relationships are struggling, and the divorce rate is so high. We are living in a world of "me" time. Consumption is king.
We all need to take a deep breath and slow down. Life is moving too fast.
We need to get back to a day where we say “Hi” to our neighbors instead of fearing them.
On the other hand, it's not all bad: I'm happy, in fact, I'm individually optimistic, yet, globally pessimistic.
Can we change the course of things to come?
I don't know.
We've messed it up badly.
“I suggest in the future for those of you walking down the aisle could you please uncross your fingers and take your tongue out of your cheek.”
Just think about it for a moment. The family unit is in a state of crisis; the institution of marriage may be failing.
I suggest in the future for those of you walking down the aisle could you please uncross your fingers and take your tongue out of your cheek. You're only screwing up your kids and, in turn, our world.
If everyone meant, “till death do us part,” the divorce rate may only be 20-25 per cent resulting in:
At least a 50 per cent reduction in unwanted children, in turn resulting in:
A smaller global population, in turn resulting in:
Less consumption, in turn resulting in HOPE!
Wait a second, if that was the equation. I might not exist.
We have certainly left one messed up world for the next generation to try to fix. It's too bad that most of them come from broken homes. How are they going to fix the world, when they can't even fix themselves?
My radical suggestions:
Be aware of what is going on in "our" world.
Look at yourself first and the people in your life who matter and try to encourage, nurture and love.
TURN OFF THE NEWS.
Laugh, smile and cry from time to time. Have a blast. Treat others with kindness. Make your “moments” memorable. Don't have kids just for the sake of it - kids aren't puppies.
Avoid confrontations: life is too short.
And, most important, remember to hug each other.
If you do find yourself in a relationship that isn’t working, that’s okay, cherish the good parts, and move forward in a positive fashion.
We may not be able to fix the mess; however, we can have a blast during the ride.
This article was written by Lindsay Wincherauk.
Click HERE to Learn more about his work.
It takes courage to show up for prosperity.
What if you just showed up for yourself today? What if all it took to build the prosperity you crave was to be profoundly present in your own life, in your own body, in your own story? Do you have the courage to live with this depth of belief and authenticity, to be alive in the moment regardless of the risks?
It is safer to live in the past, ruminating, remembering, re-writing, and grieving, than it is to live in the present. The past is familiar territory; we know what will hurt and what we can rejoice in. We made that great play, or we missed the mark. We chose love or career or adventure, for good or bad, and we know how the story goes. There is safety in this predictability, even if it is painful.
It is easier to worry about the future, or to spin great stories in which we play the starring role, than it is to begin the work before us. Our dreams are safe, requiring no investment of energy or time. And we can blame our unfulfilled dreams on some vague past event that we label as a pivotal moment, spreading the blame across space and time and people. We can create amazing futures, but only from the present. We can learn from our past, but only when we are alive now. It is only in this moment that sensuality and love exist. It is only in the now that we can experience and build and create and grow. We are truly alive only in real-time, in the gift of this moment.
And when we have the courage to incarnate fully in the moment we have the power to create a prosperous reality. When we face our fears of being wonderful beings of light, when we are willing to release the wounds of the past, we will without effort find we have embraced our deepest truth and power. This is the home of love and manifestation, and the foundation for prosperity.
This article was written by Elisa Robyn
Click HERE to Learn more about her work.
Love is the total giving of oneself without agenda; not asking for anything in return or holding anything back. Compassion, being one of the highest forms of love, is the understanding of lack of understanding in another being, as well as within ourselves. It allows for us to express loving kindness in the face of ignorance.
It has been said that the only problem we only ever have is ignorance. This is true. None of the harmful deeds us humans perform are born out of malice or ill will. They merely arise from a small and limited perspective of the true nature of reality.
Most individuals are trapped in the egoic illusion of lack and separation. The ego’s mantra is: I am not enough, and there is not enough. Caught in that misperception, an individual believes that the only way for them to be and have enough is to try to get it from the world. And so they move through life seeking worth and validation from the outside world. They live under the impression that they have to compete for it and to ultimately (hopefully) win it.
From this perspective, hurting or harming another individual, seems legitimate since life is a competition. Like the survival of the fittest if you will. This is the life in and with the ego.
Choice is a function of awareness
Now as we grow and unfold spiritually. As we mature. As we come into greater and greater insights, we realize that we live in a cosmos where there is only abundance and unity. There is only one Divine Whole. And nothing is ever separated from anything else.
As we realize this, we also begin to realize that when someone is in the grip of the ego, there is no need for blame or guilt. They are merely more or less temporarily unconscious.
From this higher perspective, we realize the futility of placing blame when someone does something we are triggered by. They are merely reacting that way because the lack they the understanding to act in any other way. They have merely gone unconscious, and we happen to be in the vicinity of them at that moment.
Much in the same way we don’t blame a small child for not yet having learned to read, ride a bike or not make a mess when eating. We realize that they are in the process of learning. In that process, they have only learned what they have learned in any given moment.
It is said that choice is a function of awareness. This means that in order to be able to make a choice - we need to be aware that we get to choose. If we are not aware that we have a choice then effectively cannot make that choice.
Compassion is the understanding of lack of understanding.
Compassion then, is the understanding of this. It is the understanding that when an individual reacts as oppose to responds, they do so merely because they are not aware of the options.
They are not aware that there is another way. That they can choose to respond to a situation or circumstance with love rather than fear, worry or doubt. Obviously the same goes for us.
The best response to any situation, any circumstance, any individual is that of love and compassion.
Choose love and compassion over fear, worry, and doubt.
And so, whenever we are faced with the ignorance or unconsciousness of another individual – we may gently remind ourselves that it has nothing to do with us. We need not ever take it personally. At this moment they are merely unconscious. And we just happened to be there to witness and experience it.
We may also remind ourselves that all is working for our good. As we encounter an unconscious individual, we get to practice being loving and compassionate. In other words, it is a great blessing in terms of growth and unfolding.
And so, rather than placing blame and guilt, playing out the victim card as to being the victim of another’s harmful actions - we may choose to pray for and bless them. We may choose to pray for their wellbeing, for their peace of mind. We may call forth the perfect and Divine health that resides within each being. We may choose to take on the perspective that they too are on a journey and that they too, in the process of waking up, of learning - are exactly where they need to be.
This is compassion. This is loving kindness in action. Praying, blessing and wishing someone well - even when what they did or did not do, may seem harmful and hurtful.
The Love of God dwells within each of us, we merely need to become aware of it and choose it.
Daniel Roquéo is a freelance writer and founder of The Love & Light Store.
He helps individuals, entrepreneurs and businesses do what they may not have the time, inspiration or the skills to do for themselves. Bringing their passions to life through the written word.
Steven Hawkins, the Cambridge Scholar, died today. He is a wonderful example of a man who made the right choices and made them work. His mind was strong but his body weak. He suffered from a debilitating illness yet he continued to work. You see, you have to believe in yourself with the same conviction you have to believe in God. If you could ask Jeff Bezos, (Amazon), the Oracle of Omaha, (Warren Buffet), Bill Gates (Microsoft), and the many others who are billionaires what is the one thing they believed in when the moments of doubt had them stalled…they would tell you…they believed in themselves. They all had failures in their career. Think the Edsel, the Ford fiasco, think Zap Mail, the billion dollar FedEx failure, there are many many others that gave doubt to the men in charge. At every time, in everyman’s life, you have to go with your gut and you may be wrong. Think Custer, and his last stand. Studebaker, Packard, Stutz bearcat are examples.
Believe in yourself and you may be wrong. And that is how I think God operates. “Trust in Him with all your might, lean not on your own understanding, in all your ways acknowledge Him and He will make your paths strait.” Not for your glory but for His. Don’t be afraid of failing to get what you intended from your effort. You know that because of your faithfulness in trusting Him, He got from your effort what He wanted for His purposes. God is in the bowling business, He knocks over a lot a pins with one ball.
Don’t let money deceive you. Business is the best game I’ve ever played, and money is just a way to keep score, but there are a lot of unhappy rich men. There are a lot of unhappy poor men. There are a great many things that contribute to happiness. We haven’t done much in adding to Aristotle’s definition that he made in his book Nicomacion Ethics. He said, “Happiness is the only human emotion that is complete in itself. There is nothing that can be added to it.” I’ve often considered that was the reason Thomas Jefferson (a well-read philosophy scholar) included it in the Declaration of Independence... “Life, Liberty, and the Pursuit of Happiness.”
And what about the number one killer of finding your full potential…a girl/boy. The urge to merge is great and having babies is the millstone to hang around your neck. What I say for boys goes for girls. You work to provide food and shelter for your family, period. And debt. You borrow money for personal consumption items and you have sold your soul to the devil. Debt robs you of your freedom of choice. You can’t quit the job and go to school. Make the mortgage payments. And where will you live? Is this job in the place and under the conditions you want to live during your life? What I’m saying here is, “Life is not a dress rehearsal.” You don’t get a chance to double back and do over. And time is in short supply.
It is said that without Ruth there would be no Billie Graham. Without Pierre Curie there would be no Madam Curie. Yes, there are those who find the soul mate to help them with their chosen field. And such a relationship is precious as diamonds. I wish I could tell you how to find such a relationship, but I can’t. It takes mutual respect, both as a person and as a professional. It takes a since of humor. It takes a large amount of humility, and compassion. It takes forgiveness and thoughtfulness. And most of all it takes love. A deep abiding gratitude for and appreciation of the object loved. And it must endure over time. The girl or boy you fell in love with at 18 is not the same person at 30, nor 40, nor 50, nor 60. You are floating down the steam of life…together. And it is a hard ride. Leave the World a better place than you found it.
This article was written by Lawrence McGrath.
Originally titled: 4th Message for Millennials
Lawrence wrote the book: A Cry From The Heart: A Personal Essay
Click here to purchase his book on Amazon.
Mr. McGrath is an author, father and grandfather. A retired marine pilot, lawyer, college professor, college president, bank president, and consultant.
Mindfulness involves an awareness of the here and now, and a mindset that is open and receptive to new ideas, information and experiences. In substance abuse treatment, mindfulness can be a way to cope with feelings, stress, triggers and urges and a way to manage stress and anxiety. Mindfulness can be the difference between responding effectively to the trauma symptoms that often co-occur with substance abuse, and a relapse to substance use to escape the unpleasant symptoms.
Mindfulness, if practiced regularly is a positive skill that counteracts one’s self-destructive behavior. It is not an escape or a means of avoidance. It is a way of staying present with pain and discomfort, rather than fleeing from pain and discomfort. Instead of staying compulsively busy to avoid an urge, running from an urge or giving in to an urge by using; a person practicing mindfulness observes and accepts the urge, and rides it like a wave – knowing that every urge has a beginning, middle and end - and that this one too will pass.
Mindfulness is a way of engaging the mind in response to any stressor, situation, interaction or activity that is causing any distress on the Physical, Emotional or Spiritual of you. Mindfulness helps a person recognize strong urges or feelings as invitations to accept or decline after careful consideration, rather than commands to act immediately. Mindfulness allows a person to remain calm under fire, then choose a response to a stimulus that is in his/her short-term or long-term best interest.
There are mindfulness skills that need to be learned and practiced. When practiced routinely, it will be easier to call upon the skills at any time and to apply them when needed. Part of the beauty of mindfulness practice, is that the practice does not necessarily require sitting in a certain position or closing the eyes. Mindfulness can be practiced and skills during activities and as part of the activities. Some essential mindfulness skills are:
Awareness: Awareness involves focusing attention on one thing at a time, while at the same time recognizing that there are many things going on. Some of these things are external such as sounds, odors, touch, and sights, while some of these things are internal, such as our feelings thoughts, urges, impulses, etc.
Non-judgmental: The emphasis is on observing without judging or labeling things as “good” or “bad.” The idea is to observe my angry feelings without judging them as bad or feeling a need to get rid of them or do something about them. It’s like holding my anger at arm’s length and just noticing that this is anger. Then understanding that not only is it anger, but that it’s ok that it is anger and even understandable that anger would be there.
Present Moment: A present moment focus or being in the present moment means fully participating in the present without being distracted by guilt from the past or worry and anxiety about the future. It means engaging in activities that are meaningful today, not just mindlessly doing what I have always done or going through the motions without attention to what I am experiencing.
Open Mind (or Beginner’s Mind): An open mind or beginner’s mind is childlike (not childish). It is being open to new experiences and seeing them as they are; not how you have judged them to be or think they should be. If I attend an event with the mindset that “this is going to be a waste of time,” I have a preconceived notion about the event that prevents me from experiencing the event as it is. Likewise, if I already know it all, I’m not open to learning anything new, or experiencing the joy and bliss of learning.
A Beginner’s Mind is what a child has who experiences something for the first time.
This article was written by Marc Baisden, MACP, MIN
Click HERE to Learn more about Marc Baisden.
It is natural and fundamental for living beings to want to be happy, healthy, and free from suffering. Life would not have persisted for nearly four billion years were living things not motivated to, and reasonably good at, seeking favorable circumstances and avoiding unfavorable ones.
When you consider much of what people do in our day-to-day lives, it is mostly in service of meeting our needs for food, clothing, shelter, and a sense of safety, satisfaction, and happiness. We don’t necessarily awaken each morning and say to ourselves how much we hope it’s swamped at the office, or that traffic will be absolutely gridlocked, or maybe we’ll get into a car accident so we can practice with being grateful for the time we have.
Yet we know, despite our deepest desires for how our life will be, that all sorts of things can happen, and many of them range from a little annoying to utterly devastating. Our children can become addicted to the painkillers in our cabinet the dentist prescribed us last year. We can get laid off from our jobs. We can be raped or mugged or murdered or diagnosed with untreatable cancer. We can be vegetarian, alcohol, tobacco and drug-free, run marathons, and still, have a heart attack at age 60. As the old saying goes, people make plans, and God laughs.
When trouble comes, we all get through it one way or another, sometimes more gracefully than others, always hoping to get back and remain in calm seas for smooth sailing. Then something else comes along: the flu, a torn meniscus, a child who develops asthma or depression. It will never remain smooth sailing for long; that’s just not how life works. And yet, somehow, we keep hoping that life will be something other than what it is.
It sounds crazy. Maybe it is. It seems human aspirations are doomed to be awkwardly incompatible with the vicissitudes of life. Indeed, in most if not all of us, there is an undercurrent of dis-ease, a fear about what is to come, that the moment of something terrible happening might be in our future, and not just someone else's whom we read about in the news. So, what to do?
About twenty-five centuries ago, a man named Siddhartha Gautama, better known as the Buddha, left home in search of a resolution to human suffering. After many years of searching, of trying many different things, and close to death and despair from neglecting his physical health and making little progress towards his goal, he had a breakthrough when he simply let go and let the storms in his mind be as they were. He settled more and more deeply into his pure, conscious awareness of all of his sensations, thoughts, and feelings. What he discovered was that human beings suffer when we want life to be different from how it is.
But it's not the desire per se: it's our attachment to it, our belief that our beliefs about how life should be or could be, are more important than how life actually is. This, of course, is foolish. It's not that we have no control over our lives and circumstances, it's that that control is forever limited, and many things will happen that we do not expect, and perhaps do not want.
Yet what he also discovered is that if we can detach from that belief that our wishes are more important than reality, we can begin to find real peace.
The key lies in our conscious awareness. The more we identify with and rest in our awareness, the more we can just be with the truth of how things are in this moment, the more a kind of magic starts to work on us.
We naturally let go of a struggle with life that is deeper and subtler than we ever imagined. We may never want to be sick or hurt or die but are no longer ill-at-ease with the difficult truths of life. It is analogous to someone who is so unfit that they cannot climb a flight of stairs without getting seriously out of breath, who then slowly begins to exercise, a little more with every passing week, until perhaps a year later, they are able to run a marathon. Their body naturally transforms by being more and more active.
So it is with a meditation practice where we simply rest ever more deeply in our awareness of what is. In doing so, we find well-being that is beyond sickness and health, beyond happiness and sorrow, beyond birth and death.
In some sense, finding this power within us changes nothing: we can still dream and plan, take care of our bodies and minds with healthy food, exercise, and rest and relaxation. We still take care of others. In another sense, it changes everything, because it transforms our relationship with every aspect of our lives, and frees us to do all of these things with greater presence, love, and patience.
This article was written by Joshua Sandeman
Click HERE to Learn more about his work.
If you're a regular consumer of social media, you've most likely seen this question pop up on your news feed: "What if you woke up tomorrow with only the things you were thankful for today". It makes us all stop and think, in the moment at least, and offer up a few sentiments to the universe before going on with our previously-scheduled programming of stress, worry, and negativity.
But what if you considered making gratitude part of your everyday life?
Gratitude is a positive emotion. While some define it as "the state of being grateful" or "expressing thanks", I like this definition best:
“Gratitude is a thankful appreciation for what an individual receives, whether tangible or intangible. With gratitude, people acknowledge the goodness in their lives. As a result, gratitude also helps people connect to something larger than themselves as individuals – whether to other people, nature, or a higher power." -- Harvard Medical School
However you elucidate it, feeling and expressing gratitude has a positive impact on both you and others. I challenge you to find an article or video describing the ill-effects of gratitude. There are many reasons why we'd want to develop a heart of gratitude, and here are just a few.
A Healthier Body
According to Robert Emmons, leading researcher on gratitude and its effects, those who practice gratitude in a consistent manner report a host of benefits including stronger immune systems, lower blood pressure, and are less bothered by aches and pains. (https://greatergood.berkeley.edu/article/item/why_gratitude_is_good). In an article published in the National Communication Association’s Review of Communication, Stephen M. Yoshimura and Kassandra Berzins explored the connection between the expression of gratitude and physical health. They found that gratitude consistently associates with many positive health states and reduced reports of negative physical symptoms. (https://www.natcom.org/press-room/expressing-gratitude-makes-us-healthier-who-wouldn%E2%80%99t-be-grateful)
“Gratitude can be an incredibly powerful and invigorating experience. There is growing evidence that being grateful may not only bring good feelings. It could lead to better health.” – Jeff Huffman
Peace of Mind
Gratitude can also benefit our mental health. Emmons conducted multiple studies linking gratitude and mental well-being. His findings were that gratitude can increase happiness and decrease depression. And a study published in 2014 in the Journal of Applied Sport Psychology found that athletes can increase their self-esteem, an important component of mental wellness, by expressing gratitude. (https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0022440507000386)
"Results indicated that counting blessings was associated with enhanced self-reported gratitude, optimism, life satisfaction, and decreased negative affect." In a separate study, children who practiced grateful thinking showed signs of more positive attitudes toward their family and at school. (Froh, Sefick, & Emmons, 2008).
And how about that elusive but necessary thing called sleep? A study done in 2016 by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention indicated that more than one third of Americans don't get enough sleep. (http://www.healthcommunities.com/sleep-disorders/overview-of-sleep-disorders.shtml) Struggling to doze off, waking in the middle of the night, tossing and turning, starting the day feeling exhausted-- sound familiar? Try gratefulness as a sleep aid. One study showed that those who were grateful fell asleep quickly and slept more soundly, supporting evidence that more grateful people may sleep better because they have more positive thoughts when they lay down to go to sleep. Gratitude predicted greater subjective sleep quality and sleep duration, and less sleep latency and daytime dysfunction." (https://www.jpsychores.com/article/S0022-3999(08)00422-4/fulltext)
Make new friends
Gratitude can help with creating new relationships. A study led by UNSW psychologist Dr Lisa Williams and Dr Monica Bartlett of Gonzaga University showed that the practice of thanking a new acquaintance for their help makes them more likely to seek an ongoing social relationship with you. "Our findings represent the first known evidence that expression of gratitude facilitates the initiation of new relationships among previously unacquainted people," says Dr. Williams.
Gratitude acts as a strengthener of our positive emotions, like exercise is for muscles. This practice of appreciation eliminates feelings of envy and angst as it allows our memories to be happier. Through gratitude, we experience positive feelings, which in turn help us thrive after disappointments and failures. It shifts our attention away from toxic emotions and makes it harder to ruminate on negative events. In a study done by Joel Wong and Joshua Brown in 2007, involving 300 subjects who were seeking mental health counseling, they found that when people are more grateful, they experienced brain activity which is distinct from neurological activity related to a negative emotion such as guilt. In addition, they exhibited a greater neural sensitivity in the medial prefrontal cortex, the part of the brain associated with learning and decision making. (https://greatergood.berkeley.edu/article/item/how_gratitude_changes_you_and_your_brain)
Though we may understand the many benefits of expressing gratitude, incorporating it into our day-to-day lives can be tricky. Life's pressures bear down on us and staying thankful often doesn't come naturally...negativity does. But with a little effort, it is possible to maintain an attitude of gratitude. Here are some ideas to try:
1-Eat thankfulness for breakfast. Literally, don't allow yourself to get out of bed until you've said, out loud, at least 5 things you are thankful for, whether great or small. Pause after each and soak in the warm, positive feelings that are associated with each. It's a healthy and optimistic way to start each day.
"Wake at dawn with a winged heart and give thanks for another day of loving." — Kahlil Gibran
2-Fill a thankful jar. Find a colorful jar at a local thrift shop and set it somewhere you can see it throughout the day. On a scrap of paper, jot down anything and everything that happens each day that makes a positive impact on you: a kind word from a colleague, a surprise gift from a loved one, the beautiful sunrise on your way to the office, the aroma from your pumpkin spice latte. Wad these up and throw them in your jar, then, at the end of the year, spend an evening reading through each special moment. You'll feel like the richest person in the world.
3-Say it. Get in the habit of saying "thank you", to everyone you interact with...the barista, the security guard, your coworkers -- even those you don't get along with. And don't forget to thank yourself -- self-love is an important part of maintaining a positive outlook -- and taking time to appreciate your own accomplishments, achievements, and successes can help with that. "I appreciate you" is a great ending to almost any email or text!
4-Let gratitude tuck you in at night. Before going to bed, try opting out of scrolling through what everyone else in the world is doing, and instead, journal about a positive event from today It may be as small as, "I got out of the house without spilling my coffee", or as grandiose as realizing a long-term goal -- but no matter the significance, get in the habit of writing the positives down.
"Gratitude is the fairest blossom which springs from the soul."– Henry Ward Beecher
And who knows, your own attitude of gratitude may be just the encouragement someone else needs. Don't be surprised if, as you grow in expressing gratitude, that others will want a piece of the pie. Joy is contagious and when others seeing you living a life of physical health, mental health, sleeping deeply and enjoying healthy relationships -- to name a few -- they will want to learn your secret. If not for yourself, consider developing a heart of gratitude to be a light to others.
“At times, our own light goes out and is rekindled by a spark from another person. Each of us has cause to think with deep gratitude of those who have lighted the flame within us.” – Albert Schweitzer