AWAKENING TO EFFECT CHANGE

“Progress is impossible without change, and those who cannot change their minds cannot change anything.”  George Bernard Shaw

BostonZest.com

BostonZest.com

Jonquils are filling the yards with their bright yellow blossoms although it is still February and technically winter.  I want to enjoy them while I can because I am suspicious of how long they will last.  We still have March ahead, that crazy month that can’t decide if it is winter or spring, creating infinite frustration for those of us who want the winter to be over.

Much more than human nature, the nature around us has, in the past, been more predictable.  We could count on the seasons to appear at appropriate times, trees to leaf out, and flowers to bloom at approximately the same times every year.  But this predictability is less certain now with the extreme changes caused by climate change.

CHANGE IS OCCURRING

You don’t have to be a scientist to know that something different is occurring.  All you have to do is pay attention.  Perhaps those who have never been close to nature really don’t notice the changes.  It is hard to imagine that, but perhaps it’s true.  Still the scientists are the ones who have been paying the closest attention and have collected the data.

Unfortunately, we are now living in a world of “fake news” and “alternative facts.”  Still, if you take the time to pay attention to what is going on and have been living for at least 20 years, you cannot help but see some changes are real.  This winter where I live has had weather in the same week that varied from the 30’s to the 60’s.  This is not ordinary winter weather.

IGNORING CHANGE IS UNWISE

There is no value in ignoring change. When we refuse to accept change and keep believing we can recreate the same life despite enormous changes, we are dreaming.  At some point, we need to act.  For example, many people in the coal-mining parts of our country really believe that their coal mining jobs will come back.  Despite what Trump says, this is highly unlikely.  So, what are the choices?  They can move or live in poverty or live on welfare.  Those who have been able to get training in another field or have moved to areas where there are jobs have created new lives for themselves.

Since I’ve moved more than once in my life to get a better job or one I like better, I have had trouble understanding people who remain stuck to only one vision of what life can be.  But reading Hillbilly Elegy: A Memoir of a Family and Culture in Crisis by J. D. Vance helped me understand the dynamics of this situation, and I highly recommend the book.

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With Trump’s actions and threats, many of us feel fearful of how our lives will change.  After the election, I delusively hoped that somehow Hillary would become president particularly when it became clear that she had received three million more votes than Trump.  But at least I knew how the system worked and knew I was delusional.

But what we have seen in this election is that many people believe that Trump cares about them, and if they are white males, I guess that’s probably true.  But everyone else is clearly in jeopardy because of the changes he is making and wants to make.  Change is afoot like Bigfoot rampaging through the village.

CHANGE OFTEN REQUIRES WISE ACTION

So how are we reacting to this?  Some people are just throwing up their hands and saying they have to accept it.  This is the way it is.  Give him a chance.  But sometimes accepting change means acting.  It involves realizing that a change has occurred that has shifted the core of our lives.  Life is not the same, so we have to change if we want to see progress rather than stagnation.  We have to adapt to the change.

The question is always how do we do that?  Well, we have to take action, meaningful action.  Currently, huge numbers of people across the nation are protesting and communicating with their senators and representatives on the national and local level to protect their rights and the rights of others and to try to solve the problems that are burdening their communities.

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PRESERVING DEMOCRACY REQUIRES ACTION

As a democracy, people should be active.  We have to vote.  We have to educate ourselves about issues and candidates.  We have to participate in local issues.  What we are seeing now is that the populace, in many instances, will stand up for itself and that is a very good thing.

So, what can you do in your life?  With so many changes taking place, it can be intimidating.  But choose just one thing and begin to do that regularly.  Make it something that matters, and that will vary depending on where you live.  When that one action becomes a part of your life, if you have time, add another.

CHOOSE ONE ACTION A DAY

Although I’m still in the middle of trying to decide where to direct my action and integrate it into my life, I have become involved with a group working to end child poverty.  It breaks my heart to think any child is hungry, and I’m afraid there are many in my state.  We can’t always depend on the government to solve our community problems, so we have to be the ones to effect the change.  After all, that’s what a democracy is really about.

What change can you effect change this week?

©2017 Georganne Spruce

RELATED ARTICLES:

AWAKENING TO RELEASE OUR FEAR,   DANCING TO THE DANGER OF ASSUMPTIONS, AWAKENING TO TAKE THE NEXT STEPAWAKENING TO OUR MISDIRECTED PASSIONTRANSFORMING THE FEAR OF CHANGE

 

AWAKENING TO ACCEPT REALITY

“Reality is how we interpret it.  Imagination and volition play a part in that interpretation.  Which means that all reality is to some extent a fiction.”   Yann Martel

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How do you envision reality?  Is it based on facts or feelings?  How can you determine what is real in your life?

In the United States, we are all having some difficulty determining what is real. We elected a man who tweets whatever he is feeling or thinking at the time, and what that response is may change the next minute.  So how can we know what to take seriously that he says and what we should ignore?

Reality Isn’t Clearly Defined

It’s quite a challenge.  Although some of us may have had people in our lives like that, it doesn’t necessarily mean we know how to deal with the constantly changing dynamics.  It doesn’t necessarily mean that we know what reality is with these people.  It would be nice if reality were always obvious and clearly defined.

As Yann Martel points out, “Reality is how we interpret it.”  It isn’t cut and dried.  It isn’t a set scientific principal we can count on.  When my first husband left, it seemed like a terrible thing.  This man I loved had betrayed me.  The marriage I valued was over, yet the result of that experience, painful as it was at time, was in the end a good thing for me.  A least that’s how I interpret it.

With more freedom in my life, I was able to pursue my love of modern dance and take chances I would never had taken before.  Because I was so heart-broken at first, I went into therapy and through that came to understand myself more deeply.

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Passage of Time Affects Our Interpretation

Time also makes a difference.  As time passes, the way we interpret an event may change because we are able to see the consequences of the action that took place.  For example, right now we are dealing with the results of an election that some celebrate and others despise.  While we may predict what will happen when Trump actually becomes president, we do not know exactly what that reality will bring.

If We Don’t Like the Facts, We May Ignore Them

Throughout the election many voters ignored several realities.  Trump never paid many people who worked for him and had had thousands of law suits filed against him.  Why aren’t more people uncomfortable with this.  This behavior does not indicate he’s someone who will keep his word or that he has respect for the working man or woman.  Why do they think he’s going to save them?

In order to vote for someone like this, the voter has to ignore this record of reality.  This is a factual type of reality. The law suits are on the books.  There is only one reasonable interpretation of these facts.  He doesn’t keep his word in business deals, so why would anyone believe he will keep his word as president?

We May See Only What We Wish to See

Many created the fictional character Trump to fit their own wishes and desires.  That fictional character will “drain the swamp,” create jobs, and make like better for all who voted for him.  He will also focus on helping those in need despite choosing people for his cabinet that have little experience in the area they will manage or who are billionaires more likely to preserve their privilege than increase their taxes to pay for what the average citizen needs.  The idea that these people will act totally out of character when there is little in their backgrounds to support that hope is truly fiction.

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So why do we choose to believe things that don’t seem reasonable.  Perhaps we get false news so the choice seems reasonable based on the “facts” we’ve found.  Maybe we just believe that if we believe it, it will come true.   I suspect we believe it because it is what we want to hear.  It looks good, it sounds good, it smells good.  Until we look at the underside.

Ignoring Facts May Be Dangerous

Earlier this year, I was diagnosed with bladder cancer.  It was a shock.  I’ve always lived a healthy life except for the 30 years I smoked cigarettes when I was younger, but I believed that I would never have cancer.  However, the doctor could see the tumor and when it was biopsied, the test was positive, so there was no doubt that it was cancer.

It was difficult to accept this reality because I felt fine and had no symptoms.  But there was that positive test.  Could it be wrong?  I could have chosen to ignore it, but I had had a friend a few years earlier who ignored her colon cancer until she was in Stage 4.  She died a few months after being diagnosed because nothing could be done to save her.  That was the reality.

So, I had the surgery and it was successful.  I am fortunate.  My cancer was slow growing and had not grown into the muscle layer around the bladder.  I have regular checkups and they have been clear.  I’m so glad I decided to face the facts, make a wise decision based on them, and as a result, I have been able to continue a full and healthy life.

Patterns of Behavior Reveal Reality

It is true that the facts are not always the only thing we need to take into consideration when we make a decision.  We have emotional and spiritual considerations also, but it is important to observe what is actually taking place in a situation and if there is a pattern of behavior to observe.

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I’ve read too many stories where women who are in abusive relationships keep thinking the abuser will change his behavior although he never does.  That pattern of behavior is a fact, just as Trump’s belittling of women or the disabled is a fact.  We heard the words directly from his mouth.  It tells us that this person does not respect others, so why would he respect us.  To expect respectful behavior from someone who constantly disrespects others is a delusion.

Why is it important to face reality?  Because it can help us to live a better life, make better decisions, and be more successful in all we do.  It may remind us that our imagination and choices help shape our reality, but that reason and observation as part of our decision-making will serve us as well.

© 2017 Georganne Spruce

AWAKENING TO THE FIRE WITHIN

“The most powerful weapon on earth is the human soul on fire.” Ferdinand Foch

Never has a moment in my life been filled with more fire, both within and without.  Living in the mountains of North Carolina, many days have been cloudy, filled with smoke from the wild fires burning all around us.  A couple of weeks ago, the tourist town of Gatlinburg, Tennessee, not far away, went up in flames.

As did many of our dreams when Hillary lost the election and Donald won, fueled by hate, racism and misogyny.  Civility did not rein during this election, and the consequences are still fueling the fire.

Fire Can Be Positive Or Negative

Fire can be destructive when it goes out of control, but it also has a positive side.  Fire keeps us warm in the winter and cooks the food that nourishes us.  The fire within often gives us the courage to do what we think we cannot do and enlivens us to trust the fire in our souls to guide us toward positive action.

How To Face the Challenge

At the current time, we face a challenge.  This election was not as clear as it appeared to be at first.  The number of citizens who voted for Hillary now surpasses Donald’s popular vote, so there is anger on both sides.  Trump is being investigated concerning his relationship to Russia. What should be done?  What decision will the electoral college make on December 19?

Our fire within has come close to the burning point.  Threats and bullying toward those Donald degraded with his comments have increased.  It is now more dangerous to live in this country if you are an immigrant, a woman, or of any race other than white.  The foundation of our democracy is crumbling, and yet….

Around me, many whose souls are on fire are reaching out to those in need, protecting those who are being debased, protesting and speaking for the values we have always seen as the basis of this country, respect for all.  When the fire within grows, it can motivate us to do what we need to do.

Yes, we need to love one another.  We need to find peace.  But that does not mean, we do not need to act.  Expressing love and peace is not always passive.  Martin Luther King taught us that in the 1960’s.

What Can We Change?

Donald Trump won for a reason.  Some may have been drawn to his rhetoric because he supported their racist or misogynistic views, but some clearly were drawn to him because he was not part of the establishment they felt neglected them.  They clearly did not believe Hillary would help create more jobs with better pay despite her long history of helping people who need help.  They believed the lies rather than the facts.

So when our fire within heats up, let’s look around and see what needs to change and devote ourselves to participating in that change.  Some things can’t be changed.  For example, we live in a primarily technological society and we have fewer industrial jobs, so those who have had those jobs will have to choose to retrain and find another kind of work.  Life keeps changing and we have to be willing to change with it.

Some Cultures Resist Change

Recently I read Hillbilly Elegies: A Memoir of a Family and Culture in Crisis by J. D. Vance.  While I live in the North Carolina mountains and had a father who was raised in the Arkansas mountains, I was not aware that some of the qualities I had noticed in certain people were typical of a particular culture, in this case, the Appalachian white culture.

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According to Vance, these people find change devastating, especially having to move from their birth place, because it separates them from their culture.  Some people like Vance are willing to make the required changes to move because it is the only way they can get more education and find new jobs to support their families. Others refuse to make that choice and live on welfare or are so limited financially that they feel defeated before they start.

Among many of us, the fire within is focused on keeping life from changing; it is not focused on transformation as a positive possibility.  Despite all the good Obama has done during his years in office by reducing the debt and increasing jobs, there are many who have not been directly affected by this.

Transform Anger Into Positive Action

When that fire within expresses as anger, we need to see how we can transform it into positive action.  It is not easy for me to say this because I am not an activist.  I am a regular voter, but I do not like politics.  I am a teacher and creative person, but I know that if I want things to change, I have to be willing to participate in that change.

I am especially moved by what has happened at Standing Rock, North Dakota.  The peaceful protest of Native Americans and their supporters has resulted in some change.  The U. S. Corps of Engineers will look for another route for the pipeline so that it does not cross their land although the energy company is still resisting.  We still don’t know for sure if their sacred sites will be respected.

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I know several people who took supplies and money to the protesters at Standing Rock.  I know others who worked tirelessly on the election last month and who now focus their energy on the next local and state elections.  Living in a red state where the governor resisted conceding to the man who had beaten him in the election until last week, I have made some phone calls locally and nationally expressing my displeasure for what is going on with him and with Donald.

Change May Lead To A Better Life

In my own life, I have had to make many changes over the years, so I can understand why change is difficult for many.  All I know is that if I had not made those changes my life would not be as good as it is today.  I am grateful for those who encouraged me to look beyond my comfort zone.

When the fire within us erupts, we need to remember that allowing it to become a violent reaction will only destroy our society and lives, but channeling it into social or political action will warm our souls and save our nation.

© 2016 Georganne Spruce

RELATED ARTICLES:  Awakening to Live Without Fear, Transforming the Fear of Change, Awakening to Shadow’s Treasure

AWAKENING TO RELEASE OUR FEAR

“To let go implies to let GO of something.  The something we are holding to may simply be a creation of our mind, an illusory perception of something, and not the reality of the thing itself.”  Thich Nhat Hanh, Silence

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More than any time in my life I feel surrounded by negative energy.  It is autumn, my favorite time of year.  As the leaves turn and fall, blanketing the yard that was once green, I feel my country is also in an autumn, a time when we are losing our ability to grow and work together to improve our society.

Many will agree with me that things are bad, but many will not agree with what I feel is the worst thing that is happening.  We have not just lost our ability to work together, we have lost our ability to think so that what we are feeling may have little to do with the reality of the situation.

Hysteria Is Affecting Many People

Hysteria seems to have taken over many of our citizens.  Hysteria is a psychological disorder that includes selective amnesia, shallow volatile emotions, or overly dramatic attention-seeking behavior.  Unfortunately, when we look at Donald Trump’s behavior, we see that he has all three of these behaviors, and he encourages them in his supporters.

Paulo Coelho has said, “How people treat other people is a direct reflection of how they feel about themselves.”  When Trump makes fun of a disabled man or the appearance of a woman, this reflects his fear that he is not attractive enough, not comfortable with his natural self.  When he calls people “stupid or crooked,” he sounds like the child bully who feels inadequate and finds harming others empowering.

Why do so many people accept this behavior in a presidential candidate?  What are they holding on to that convinces them Trump’s behavior is acceptable?  I find it difficult to believe that everyone who plans to vote for Trump is racist and misogynistic.  So what illusions are they holding onto that allow them to accept this behavior?

What Are the Illusions About Trump?

There is little evidence that Trump has done anything in the past to help people in general, and he has even used money meant for charity to buy personal items.  To hope that he will make policies that help people in need has no credible basis in reality.  He insists that he is a successful business man, but he often doesn’t pay the people who work for him and has had numerous law suits filed against him. If he can’t run his own business honestly, it doesn’t make sense he could financially run the country for the benefit of all. He’s a reality television star who is an expert at creating illusion.  That is his forte.

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At the Base of Hysteria Is Fear

So what is really at the bottom of all this?  Why does he angrily lash out at anyone who opposes him and ridicule those who are different, including the opposite sex.  It is because of his fear—the fear of not winning, the fear of appearing weak, the fear of not getting what he wants or needs, the fear of a system he doesn’t understand, the fear of being different from his community, the fear of making a mistake.

We all share many of these fears, fears created from our life experiences.  But what we fear may not be a reality.  The “illusory perception of something” to which Thich Nhat Hanh refers is based on the explanation we have created in our minds to deal with our fear.

How Fears Create Illusions

There are two kinds of fears: the physical and the psychological. Physical fears alert us to physical danger.  They remind us not to step out into the middle of traffic or urge us to find a safe place if someone starts following us as we walk down a dark street.  They can save our lives.

Psychological fears are a distortion of our mind power, and all fears are based on the fear of inadequacy or the fear of rejection.  When our fear is stimulated, the mind power begins to search for information that is stored in our memory related to that fear, and then we begin to react by coping, compromising, or defending.  At this point, we have moved into our survival pattern.

Our survival pattern consists of the behavior we have learned to cope with difficulties or threats.  Some people withdraw, some become angry and physically threatening, some argue or ridicule another person.  Fear is at the base of all negative emotion and unless we release it, it blocks our ability to think clearly.

Releasing Our Fears Helps Us See Clearly

However, when we become so dominated by our fear, it is essential that we release it so that we can view the situation clearly and make good choices.  Releasing our fear is a simple process.  We take a deep breath and remain still and quiet.  When we feel quiet, we direct our mind to release the fear, naming the fear if we can identify it.  If we can’t, we simply ask the mind to release the fear.  We relax and feel the fearful energy leave the body.

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It is not easy to release fears that are deeply imbedded, so it may take several attempts before it works.  We need to be in the moment and that may be difficult for those who do not meditate and spend quiet time in prayer, but taking a few deep breaths and letting go of any thoughts may help.  After the release, it will feel like there is space in the mind.  At that point, we ask our mind for a solution to the problem that initiated the fear.

When the mind is clear of fear, it will search our memories for helpful information and guide us toward better choices.  We all need to become more conscious of what we are feeling and what has initiated the feeling, so we have to take the time to question why the fear was initiated.  Did the person we feel anger toward remind us of the father who often screamed at us?  The mother who pushed us away when we needed love? The bully who pulled a knife on us behind the gym in high school?

What Behavior Do We Need In A President?

The ability to control one’s fear and how one reacts in volatile situations is particularly important for the president of this county.  That person will constantly be confronted with difficult choices and opposition.  How he/she handles it will determine the future of this country, and if they react from fear and with disrespect to the challenges that appear, it will damage our relationships with other countries.  If this person cannot research, analyze, and think clearly instead of always reacting, he/she will not be able to solve complex problems.

Throughout this campaign, I have watched Hillary Clinton carefully.  I do not expect her to be entertaining.  I don’t want a star in the White House; I want a leader.  I expect her to be thoughtful and informed and she has been.  She is always prepared to discuss issues, rather than comment on how someone looks.  She doesn’t give demeaning names to her opponent; she presents her specific solutions to the country’s problems and she identifies the flaws in her opponent’s thinking.

When I think about Hillary winning, I feel calm. There is a long list of things she has already accomplished to help especially women and children, but their welfare contributes to all of society.  She has specific ideas about creating jobs through improving infra structure as well as developing more small business.  Yes, she has been part of the system for her adult life and that’s a good thing because she knows how to use the democratic process to help us all.  She focuses on the real challenges that confront the country.

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We Need A Strong Leader

Most of all, Hillary is strong.  Despite the lies told about her, the abusive language directed at her, the threats leveled at her, the ongoing investigations that never find her guilty of anything, she is still with us.  She has staying power and resilience.  That’s what we need in a leader.  She may have fears, but it’s clear she has released many of them or she would not have gotten this far.

Let’s move away from the hysteria conjured up by Trump and the media, release our fears, examine each candidate carefully, let go of our illusions, and make a rational choice.  Only one person is qualified for the position.  We broke the glass ceiling last time when we elected the first black president.  Let’s take the rest of that ceiling down and elect the first woman president.  It’s about time!

©2016 Georganne Spruce

Related Articles: Awakening to Live Without Fear,  Awakening to Peace and Wholeness Beyond Fear, Awakening to Release Illusions

AWAKENING TO LIVE WITH CHAOS

“We focus so much on our differences, and that is creating, I think, a lot of chaos, negativity, and bullying in the world.  And I think if everybody focused on what we all have in common – which is – we all want to be happy.”  Ellen DeGeneres

Snow Bird Lodge 063What do you do when confronted with an angry person?  How do you find peace when confronted with chaos?  How do you find happiness when there is too much negativity in your life?

CHAOS SEEMS TO SURROUND US

It is a time when keeping chaos at a distance is more difficult than usual.  The news is filled with natural disasters like the fires in California or the floods in Louisiana, with the insults Trump and Clinton hurl at one another, and with the wars in the Middle East that are making normal lives impossible for millions of people.  In addition, racism and misogyny have raised their ugly heads in a way that makes them impossible to ignore.

How do we find happiness in the midst of this without totally withdrawing from society?  The secret lies in how we experience our minds and emotions because the thoughts and comments we hear lodge in our mental spaces and become part of memory.  The more negative ones feed the ego that is always ready for more drama.

Because this is a presidential election year, we have a particular challenge.  We want to learn about the candidates so that we can make good choices about whom we vote for, but the particularly negative nature of the race this year makes that a challenge.  Whether or not we believe what the candidates say, their words and emotions, especially Donald Trump’s, affect our “pain body,” an aspect of the ego.

LEARN TO CALM THE “PAIN BODY”

Eckhart Tolle, in A New Earth: Awakening to Your Life’s Purpose defines the “pain body” in this way: “The remnants of pain left behind by every strong negative emotion that is not fully faced, accepted, and let go of join together to form an energy field that lives in the very cells of your body.” (p. 142) He also points out that people who have active pain bodies tend to attract hostility and conflict. Others can feel the negative energy that is so strong in them and will react to it by lashing out or avoiding that person.

So the pain body is that part of the ego where we store the emotional pain we have suffered throughout life.  It is always hungry and feeds on drama, so negative feelings and ideas activate it easily.  We start to feel angry, hurt, or offended in some way.  We want to react quickly without thinking, and so we easily find ourselves embroiled in conflict or self-pity and at odds with the person offending us.

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DO WE ALWAYS CHOOSE UNHAPPY STORIES?

What is at the core of these unhappy feelings?  Tolle says, “Only emotion plus an unhappy story is unhappiness.”  For example, why are so many people attracted to Trump’s negative remarks?  Because he activates and supports their unhappy stories.  He feeds the pain body.  So instead of speaking to what is good in us and our society, he convinces us that our lives are awful (and some truly are) and only he can fix that.  Like many politicians, he speaks to people’s emotions and ignores any contradictory facts.

ONLY WE CAN FIX OURSELVES

The reality is that no candidates can fix us.  We can only fix ourselves by not attaching to the negative stories they perpetuate.  We must find peace in the midst of chaos by going within and centering ourselves.  Then we are able to see healthy solutions to the problems that haunt us and are able to differentiate between the candidate who has real solutions to the country’s problems and the one whose ego promises whatever will make him look powerful.

Becoming aware of the pain body, releasing our unhappy stories, and learning to be present and accept what we are feeling will allow us to be happier because we can then feel who we truly are.

By observing our own reactions, we can become aware of the kinds of events or comments that set us off.  When we are more conscious, we can choose a different path of behavior.

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BE CENTERED IN THE MOMENT

In those moments when the pain body is activated, we need to be in the moment, feel what we are feeling, and release our need to react.  Having practiced meditation, I know how peace feels and I try to release any need to react.  I want to simply be in the moment and observe the story that is emerging.  If I can choose not to attach to the negative emotions and ideas being expressed, I can choose not to experience the unhappiness inherent in the reaction of the pain body.

Every time I feel my pain body activate, I ask, “Do I really think this?  Do I really feel this?  Do I really need to respond to this?  Should I just let it go?  Then I affirm only what I believe is true. Each time I learn more about who I am.  Whether we like it or not, working with the pain body and letting go of our unhappy stories, can change our lives—and maybe our country.

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As Ellen DeGeneres said, “We all want to be happy.”  So, in addition to learning to live in a healthy way with our pain body and not letting it run our lives, we need to focus on what is good in our lives.  What do we have to be grateful for?

GRATITUDE ALSO LEADS TO HAPPINESS

Personally, in this divisive time in our country, I am grateful that Hillary, a well-qualified woman, is running for president and has a good chance of winning.  I wasn’t sure I would ever see that in my lifetime.  Despite all the negative things that are said about her, the fact is that she has worked to help others, especially women and children, all her life.  She has demonstrated she knows how to get things done that help people, and she doesn’t segregate people by race or gender.

When we focus on gratitude, we support what is good in our lives, what we have together and in community as well as in our individual lives.  That is our greatest source of happiness.

©2016 Georganne Spruce

Related Articles:  AWAKENING TO OUR MISDIRECTED PASSIONAWAKENING TO WHERE KINDNESS HAS GONE

 

 

 

AWAKENING TO OUR MISDIRECTED PASSION

“Passion is a positive obsession.  Obsession is a negative passion.”  Paul Carvel

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How good are you at compromise?  If you can’t get exactly what you want, do you refuse to act at all?  What are the consequences of your choices?

I may be crossing the line today, but I need to.  I always want what I write to be inspirational and uplifting, but with the current political situation, I can’t ignore what I’m feeling, and I am concerned about the passion I see in both candidates and voters.

I think passion is a good thing, and I am a very passionate person.  I always have been, and I followed my passion to become a dancer years ago against my family’s wishes.  Despite the physical and economic challenges, I made my dream become a reality and I have never regretted it.

Two Kinds of Passion

Currently, I see two kinds of passion expressed in the current presidential race.  On one hand, there is the nasty, dark passion or obsession of Donald Trump.  His passion takes the form of misogynistic, discriminatory, and violent comments against the people he wants to hurt, ostensibly in order to make America great. This is misdirected in a democratic country where we are a vastly diverse group.

On the other hand, Bernie Sanders expresses his passion primarily by talking positively about what he wants to do to help those who feel the government has neglected their needs.  Until lately, he avoided even criticizing his Democratic opponent Hillary Clinton and merely pointed out their differences. However, as the campaign has become more competitive, he has focused more on what is wrong with his opponent.

Passion Expressed Through Action

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Hillary, on the other hand, has been criticized because some feel she doesn’t show enough passion, yet she has worked passionately to help women and children all her life.  Her actions more than words express her passion.  But Hillary’s passion or expressed lack of it doesn’t concern me.

Dangers of Misdirected Passion

What concerns me is the dark offensive passion of Trump and the uncompromising passion of those Sanders’ followers who say they will not vote for Hillary if she is the Democratic candidate.

Now that Cruz has left the race, it is pretty clear that Trump will be the Republican nominee unless something radical occurs at the convention.  Trump talks about making America great, but there is nothing great about what he plans to do because it involves, among other things, discriminating against Latinos, Muslims, and women.

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Despite his lack of integrity and apparently shady business dealings, there is still a huge number of people who support him passionately, who do not seem to be bothered by his negativity.  It is frightening to think that many people support his dark and overly simplistic approach to problem-solving and the dangers it could create in the whole world.

So what do you do if you are a devoted Republican, appalled by Trump, and he becomes the Republican candidate?  Can you cross party lines?  Can you compromise and vote for a Democrat?  Or do you sit out the election?

That’s what many of Bernie’s supporters say they will do if he isn’t the Democratic candidate.  They feel so passionate about Bernie that they are unwilling to compromise, regardless of the consequences.

I appreciate their being passionate about wanting to change the system, and Bernie does focus on what he would do to help the people whose needs have been neglected.  He does not exclude anyone.  He wants to meet the needs of all who feel abandoned, and he has years of experience within the system to convince us that he is capable of implementing his ideas.

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As the contest has become more tenuous for him, his passion now includes a negativity that I hoped he would avoid.  He is even talking about a “contested” convention.

If enough Democrats stay home, could that help Trump win the election?  And if they are convinced they could never vote for Hillary, is it because they have researched what she has done in politics or are they simply believing anything negative that they hear?

There Are Serious Consequences to Our Choices

With any candidate, it is important to get the facts.  Unfortunately, the mainstream media is not helpful, for they offer us one-minute sound bites on any topic without substantial information.  That’s why I watch PBS News.  At least I get more information there.

And are we so influenced by the entertainment quality of a candidate that we can’t see beyond that to the facts and issues that really matter?  Or are we only concerned with how they appear?

Passion is entertaining so, of course, we are drawn to the more dynamic characters in the story.  But passionate characters do not necessarily make the best choices.

The consequences of our choices as voters in this next election are monumental.  We need to think very carefully about the consequences of our action or lack of action and consider if our passion is leading us in the best direction for the nation.

© 2016 Georganne Spruce

AWAKENING TO NEW THOUGHTS

“Change your thoughts and change your world.” Norman Vincent Peale

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How do your thoughts affect how you feel? Do you feel threatened when you are exposed to new ideas? How do you deal with that?

One of the most startling moments of my life was when I attended a Unity church many years ago. Amid other points a workshop speaker was making, he emphasized the point that our thoughts create our emotions, not the other way around.

Our Thoughts Create Emotions

Having always been a rather emotional person, I thought, “Wait a minute. That can’t be right.” But over the next few days as I contemplated this idea, I realized that behind every fear or angry feeling I had there was a thought related to it. What I had heard at the workshop began to make sense.

After choosing to practice this idea that changing my thinking could change my emotions, I discovered that I could let go of many fears. Instead of focusing on all the things that could go wrong in a situation, I could focus on what I wanted to happen. I learned to expect the best. As a result, my life seemed to go better.

That doesn’t mean that what we envision will always happen, it just means it’s more likely to manifest. Expecting the worst in life doesn’t help or move us ahead. If we expect things to go badly, we probably won’t make as much effort to create what we really want.

Expressing Negativity Puts Negative Energy Into the World

The U.S. election his year is a perfect example of how powerful our thoughts can be. The negative thoughts flying through the air from candidate to candidate are increasingly creating fear and more anger. That kind of negativity damages those who speak it and those who receive it. Can you imagine how much damage will be done if those with the most violent and disrespectful attitudes win?

Respect Creates Positive Energy

How can we use our thoughts to benefit and change our world for the better? Shall we start with simple respect? There are so many opportunities to practice respect every day even when we come into contact with ideas and people we don’t like. Being respectful doesn’t mean we have to agree or accept situations we don’t like; it simply means we treat each other like worthwhile human beings.

Our actions, as well as our thoughts, create energy in our lives. We can choose the quality of that by taking control of what we think, by not acting only out of emotion, but by examining the situation and deciding what we think first. What are the pros and cons of making a certain decision? Is there fear involved? Why?

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Fearing Those Who Are Different Doesn’t Help Us

A member of my family once told me that he feared Muslims; however, he had never known one. In contrast, another family member had the opportunity to get to know a young Muslim woman, became friends with her, and learned a great deal about her that she respected. So often, it is what we don’t know that frightens us, and the only way to change that is to educate ourselves and be willing to open our minds to visit with people who are different.

When I began teaching high school in the New Orleans Public Schools in the 1990’s, my greatest fear was that I would say or do something that would offend someone. Most of the teachers and all but one of my students were African-American.

That fear came from an experience I had had in college. Eating dinner one night with an African-American friend, I had made a “stupid” comment as I tried to empathize with her. I was not a prejudiced person, but I had rarely had an opportunity to know an African-American person, and I focused on our similarities, not our differences.

As a result of my misstep, when I went to teach in NOPS, I was afraid that I might say something insensitive without really knowing it. Fortunately, I seemed to get along with everyone and I was never accused of being insensitive. The longer I worked in that situation and got to know individuals, the more I learned about the culture, and the less fear I felt.

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Changing Our Thoughts May Create Peace

Learning to change our thoughts and choose what we think is a powerful lesson. Experience with what we fear may help us, but ultimately we need to find ways to let go of the psychological fears that keep us living in narrow spaces. Diversity is a reality in the modern world and it’s not going to change. If we are to live happily and at peace, we have to learn to respect our differences.

The current election is just one opportunity we have to change our thoughts and our world. We need to educate ourselves about the candidates, observe their behavior, and know that if they do not treat each other respectfully, they certainly are not going to treat us with respect. In a democracy, our right to vote is a powerful tool we all need to use.

Change Our Thoughts To Help Others

But our respect also includes being aware of those in need in our society and caring what happens to them. Most people in need are not in that situation because they have been irresponsible, but because they haven’t had the opportunity to do better. In fact, many may have been taught that they can’t succeed, and they believe what they have been told. How we treat others can help change their thinking too.

How we think is our choice. Let us begin to choose compassion, love, and respect for one another, sending positive energy out into the world. As Mahatma Gandhi said, “Be the change that you wish to see in the world.”

What thoughts do you need to change to make your life better?

© 2016 Georganne Spruce                                                         ZQT4PQ5ZN7F5

Related Posts:  Awakening to the World, Part 2, Diversity, Awakening to Live without Fear, Transforming the Fear of Change