Tag Archives: Happiness

AWAKENING TO EXPRESS KINDNESS

“This is my simple religion.  There is no need for temples; no need for complicated philosophy.  Our own brain, our own heart is our temple; the philosophy is kindness.”  Dalai Lama

Do you consider yourself a kind person?  Are you surrounded by kind people?  How do you express your kindness?

(Thank you Charlie for our topic this week.  Next week, the topic will start with “L,” so please leave your suggestions for a topic in the comment section.  I always appreciate your suggestions.)

Qualities of Kind People

I am always deeply touched by kind people, and there are several things that I notice about them.  They are people who are at peace with themselves.  They look for what is positive in others and in situations.  They are empathetic and compassionate.

These are the kind of people I want in my life, the people I can trust, who when there is conflict will talk respectfully about our differences and work things out.  I can look back on my life and see the many times when I tolerated behavior in relationships and friendships that was less than respectful of who I was and my needs.  Now I find that I am less willing to ignore such disrespect and that more of the people I draw into my life are kind.

What has changed and why is kindness so important to me now?

Kindness Is Based On Loving Ourselves

I read an article “The Magic of Unconditional Love:  An Interview with Don Miguel Ruiz” by Diane Marie Bishop in Science of Mind Magazine.  In the article, Ruiz talks about how we cannot love others unconditionally unless we unconditionally love ourselves.  Over the years, my ability to love myself has grown.  I have let go of my need to be perfect or to fit someone else’s standard.  This acceptance has given me more peace, and I have learned to be kinder to myself and others.

It is all connected.  When we love ourselves, peace and joy automatically become part of our lives and the expression of kindness becomes a natural thing.  We are less reactive and more aware of how our words and actions affect others.  We are also more flexible and able to adapt to the needs of others when it is appropriate.  But we also are at peace with who we are and can say “no” when we must and do it in a way that is kind.

Negative Thinking Blocks Kindness

It was a challenging week last week with many every day difficulties arising.  It was a week of important teachings, a reminder that, instead of getting caught up in another’s negativity, I need to tap into my inner peace and stay there.  I wasn’t always able to do that, but I will continue to pursue that path.  Experiencing peace and love is my priority and that is what I want to share with others.

When we love ourselves, we are more likely to see life as positive.  When we are feeling positive, we are more likely to respond to life in a positive manner and act kindly.  But seeing the same situation from a negative point of view may completely change how one experiences an event.  Negative thinking can be a powerful block that supports our egos worst choices and keeps us from acting kindly from the heart.

Once, I offered to loan a friend a library book I’d finished so she could also read it before it was due.  With a long waiting list, it was hard to get.  She emailed me to leave it in her mailbox, but I wasn’t comfortable with that due to the torrential rains we were having, and it belonged to the library so I didn’t want to risk its getting damaged.  Since we lived close to each other, I asked her to give me a call when she was home, and I would bring it to her or she could pick it up.  She thought my concern was foolish, and she became angry that I wouldn’t do this the way she wanted, rejected my offer, and refused to return my phone call so we could work it out.

I was rather shocked by the whole situation.  Her response to the situation seemed harsh and out of proportion to the reality although, in the past, she had been disturbed about situations she viewed as negative when I didn’t see them that way.  Still, what created this problem?  Had I been unkind without realizing it?  Was she stressed about something or angry at me for another reason?  I didn’t know.  By focusing on the negative rather than the positive aspect of the situation and refusing to communicate, my friend created a problem that didn’t need to exist and eroded the trust I felt for her.

Positive Thinking Supports Kindness

An experience with a sales person when I had a problem with a new cell phone also illustrated the consequences of positive and negative approaches to situations.  This man made it clear that he only had time for people who were there to buy something although I had been required to trade out my phone for a new one due to network changes.

Because of his lack of customer service, I decided not to do business there again.  Instead I went to another store where a kind young man showed concern for my problems and took the time to show me how to use the new phone.  Perhaps he was just a kind person or perhaps he understood making a customer happy might mean more sales in the long run.  Either way he took the higher road.

Kindness May Be Expressed With Empathy and Compassion

Two other ways we can express kindness are through empathy and compassion.  They are beautiful expressions of our love and peace.  With empathy we are able to put ourselves in the other person’s place and feel what they are feeling.  We may make this connection because we’ve experienced a similar situation or because we use our imagination to envision what they are feeling.  Compassion takes us one step further emotionally to a place where we want to help.

To share our feelings of concern through either of these expressions is an act of kindness.  We care if another person is in pain or difficulty and want life to be better for him/her.  I have another friend who frequently expresses these qualities.  The trust I feel toward him because of this is huge.  Whether he thinks my feelings are foolish or not is irrelevant.  What he offers me is concern and empathy first.  If we argue, it becomes a respectful conversation that allows us to understand each other and helps our relationship grow deeper.  As a result, I feel loved and at peace with him.   I can always trust that he cares about what is best for me.

Allowing kindness to become an important part of our lives can truly change them for the better, for kindness is part of the holy within us.  It’s just another aspect of treating others as we wish to be treated.  Perhaps it is also another way of changing our own little worlds and contributing positively to the larger one.

What kindness have you expressed or experienced lately?

© 2021 Georganne Spruce

Related Articles:

AWAKENING TO WHERE KINDNESS HAS GONE

AWAKENING TO A PEACEFUL HEART

AWAKENING TO COMPASSIONATE COMMUNICATION

AWAKENING TO RELEASE OUR PERFECTIONISM

 

AWAKENING TO HEAL WITH HUMOR

“When you awaken love and laughter in your life, your mind lets go of fear and anxiety, and your happy spirit becomes the healing balm that transforms every aspect of your human experience.” Jesse Dylan

Do you laugh often?  How does it make you feel?  Do you like making others laugh?  Does it make a significant difference in your life?

(Thanks to Eleanore for “healing” and Sherry for “humor.”  I wouldn’t have thought to put these two together without your suggestions.  Next week I need a word starting with “I” so leave your ideas in Comments.)

We often think of humor as a “light” element in life.  It’s fun to laugh but it’s nothing to take seriously.  We watch a comic movie or a comedian and laugh, lifting our energy up and into a positive place.  It feels good, so we do it without ever paying attention to what is going on deep within us.  We just like the good feeling it gives us.

Laughter Can Stop Arguments

Have you ever had an intense argument with someone you love and watched it escalate into a degree of anger and unkind words that could rip the relationship apart?  Then suddenly the other person takes a breath and says something very funny and you both start laughing.  The anger spills away and your love comes rushing back.  Laughter can change a relationship and turn it into what really matters.

Laughter Changes The Body’s Chemistry

When we are stressed, and anger is certainly stressful, laughter reduces the level of stress hormones and causes the body to release endorphins which make us feel good.  It’s also a healthy cardiovascular exercise because it makes the heart beat stronger.  Blood flows better, and delivers oxygen to the cells.

Laughter Can Relieve Depression and Stress

All of these physical responses rejuvenate us.  If we are feeling depressed, it’s a good time to read a funny book or watch a comedy show on TV.  Humor lures us to push aside the fear that is causing the depression, giving our mind and body an opportunity to release the constriction and begin healing.

The other day it seemed that everything I did on the computer was a mess.  I tried to find the results of a recent medical test.  It wasn’t there.  The lab had no record of it.  Another website failed to come up, and I couldn’t find the place on a particular site to respond and correct a problem that had arisen with another doctor.

Finally, I had had enough!  I took deep breaths to calm down, but still felt tense, so I just sat and looked out the window at the trees.  Two squirrels were chasing each other all over the yard and up and down the trees, flying from limb to limb.  I couldn’t help laughing at them.  It was a comedy show.

When the squirrels disappeared, I checked out how I felt.  Much better and I laughed at myself.  Why do I let technical things stress me so much?  It isn’t good for my mind or body.  The problem is that I feel inadequate in a world where nearly every aspect of life has a technical element.  I don’t know what I would do if I didn’t have a husband who is technically savvy to help me and who has a good sense of humor.

Humor Is Healing

The humor we often share, especially corny jokes, is very healing.  We both love words so our humor often comes from playing off the word or phrase the other has spoken.  I love making him laugh and I think he enjoys my laughing at his jokes.

Perhaps instead of feeling bad about  inabilities, we need to laugh at them first, forgive ourselves for not being perfect, and seriously get those endorphins flowing quickly.  Any time we can lighten fear and anxiety, it is beneficial.  It doesn’t mean we need to ignore things that are complicated and require patience. It simply means humor can transform what we feel at the moment, and allow us to let go of the fear and anxiety that get in the way of  what’s staring us in the face at the moment.

© 2020 Georganne Spruce

Related Blog Posts:

AWAKENING TO LAUGH AT SIMPLE THINGS

AWAKENING TO THE LAUGHTER WITHIN

AWAKENING TO THE HEALING DANCE

AWAKENING TO RELEASE OUR FEAR

 

AWAKENING TO THE GIFT OF SURPRISE

“Surprise is the greatest gift which life can grant us.”  Boris Pasternak

Do you like surprises?  If not, why not?  How do you usually respond to them?

A couple of weeks ago when we had some occasional days of snow, I was quietly writing on my computer.  My desk faces a front window.  I became distracted by the chirping and fluttering of a large group of Robins.  Outside to my right was a holly bush full of red berries.  Having this bush there was a treat in the winter when there is no color from flowers or other growing things.

Seeing What Was Always There

I finally stopped to pay attention to the birds and realized at least a dozen or more were flying back and forth from the brush to the bare branches of the trees nearby.  Landing on the bush, each ate several berries, then flew back to a tree.  Resting a moment, or maybe waiting his turn, each bird watched, then flew to the bush, fluttered about, noisily landed, and gobbled again.

The Robins were so entertaining with their flight patterns, chirping and fussing, and careful selection of which berry to eat that I watched them for quite a while.  What a surprise!  I’ve lived with that holly bush for years and never seen this before.  What a pleasure! Had it been happening for years but I never noticed?

Surprises Show Us Who We Really Are

The wonderful thing about surprises is that they may open our hearts and minds in ways we had never expected and lead us in a direction we may not have previously chosen.

When I was a high school senior, my family had just moved to Memphis and I was facing my senior year not knowing a soul.  I had become interested in theater so I took a drama class that created a new group of friends for me.  At the end of the year, we performed a musical in which I had a major role.  I was thrilled!  Previously, I had always had tiny roles.

I also became a member of the Thespian Society and it gave out awards at the end of the year.  Sitting at the banquet, I was sure the girl who had played the largest lead role would win the Best Actress Award.  So when my name was called, I was so surprised I couldn’t move.  I looked at the friend next to me who motioned for me to get up.

This award made me realize what others were trying to tell me.  I was talented.  Because of this, I followed my desire and majored in theater in college.  This training was a tremendous gift for life, especially since I  was naturally an introvert.  By the time I finished college, I felt confident about expressing myself orally and also about writing speeches or poetry that could then be read aloud.

Negative Surprises May Have Hidden Gifts

While I have mentioned only happy surprises, even unhappy ones may be a gift.  When my father died suddenly from a burst blood vessel in his lung, it shocked us all.   For him, however, it was better than the painful misery of fighting to breathe.

When my first husband was having an affair, I was unaware of it until he told me he wanted a divorce.  I was shocked! Then he explained what had been going on.  Learning about his betrayal made me face the fact that we really were not a good match.  He could never be the kind of partner with whom I wanted to share my life.  Clearly, I was not his ideal.  This was a gift to me in disguise.

We Prefer Happy Surprises

Of course the surprises we all like the most are the happy ones:  the partner we love asking us to marry, getting the promotion we thought would go to someone else, or receiving the gift of roses or sweets that reminds us we are loved.

However, the most valuable aspect of a surprise is that it often opens our minds to see what we need to see, when we have been unable or unwilling.  Those surprises may move us forward in life, show us how we are limiting ourselves and need to change, or reveal what we most need to know.  These surprises are the gifts we most need to receive.

2020 © Georganne Spruce

AWAKENING TO SURPRISES

AWAKENING TO NATURE’S SURPRISES

AWAKENING TO CREATE HAPPINESS

AWAKENING TO THE NEW YEAR

“Cheers to a new year and another chance for us to get it right.”  Oprah Winfrey

How do you usually celebrate the New Year?  How will you live this year?  What changes do you need to make to find what you need?

We usually think of New Year’s Day and its eve as a time for rowdy celebration.  Parties, drinking, feasts, balloons, fireworks and parades exhaust us so we arise late on the first day of the year, yawning and worn out, ready for a quiet day.

But this year, many of those gatherings will not take place.  We need to keep our distances, wear our masks, and do whatever is safe rather than what is fun.  As we make our New Year’s resolutions, we will have to consider the possibilities that the restrictions we live under may continue.

We certainly welcome a new year this year for many reasons, most of all the hope that it will be better.  But when there is so much that we have little control over, we have no choice but to take the responsibility to do what we can do to make our lives better.

If we don’t feel good about how we handled things last year, we can evaluate what happened and how we responded and consider a better response for the future.  Most of all we need to celebrate what was good about our choices and the way we lived our lives.  We should make a list of all the good decisions we made and all the good responses we received.

Hal Borland has said, “Year’s end is neither an end nor a beginning but a going on, with all the wisdom that experience can instill in us.”  It is experience, after all, that helps us “to get it right.”

Learning From Experience

Over the years, each relationship I was in taught me more about being with a partner.  I learned how to communicate what I wanted more clearly.  I learned how to be a better listener.  I learned what I could tolerate in another person’s behavior and what was intolerable.

These experiences gradually taught me what I really wanted in a relationship.  When I finally met the man to whom I am now married, I saw why we would make a good pair.  He had the main qualities that I wanted in a partner.  The lack of these specific behaviors and attitudes in other relationships had made them impossible to continue.  But this loving partnership felt like the one for which I had been searching.  After a few years of marriage, it is clear that I did make the right decision.

So as we imagine this next year, let’s make a list of all the experiences we most desire, even if they aren’t practical.  Then we can weave through them and begin to live out the ones that are the easiest to experience successfully.  This success will strengthen our belief that we can “get it right” this year and give us courage to create a good life.  Limitations are only roadblocks we have to discover how to climb over.

May you have the best year ever!

© 2020 Georganne Spruce

AWAKENING TO THE BLESSINGS OF RENEWAL

AWAKENING TO NEW INTENTIONS

 

 

 

AWAKENING TO CHRISTMAS

“Christmas is, of course, the time to be home – in heart as well as body.” Garry Moore

Will your Christmas be different this year?  Many of us may not be able to visit with family and friends because of the dangers of the virus.  Instead of thinking of it as a family time, let’s remember that Mary and Joseph were also away from family when Jesus was born, when his love came into the world.

Regardless of where we are, we can experience Love, the real meaning of Christmas.  We can reach out in many ways.  A few years ago, my brother and sister-in-law sent my husband and me a Christmas Cactus.  It was blooming beautifully, but then it stopped blooming the rest of the year.

I was disappointed, but I kept it around.  Then in December when it bloomed again, I realized it only boomed near Christmas!

Unlike many gifts which disappear in one way or another, this is a gift that keeps giving,  every year, blooming to remind us at Christmas that love is a gift that keeps giving.

As I lounge by the fire in the evening, I often read, but lately, the fire reminds me of the warmth I’ve experienced in my life when I have been with loved ones.  Memories, as well as reality, may warm us, keep us safe, and remind us, God loves us and is aways with us, whether we notice or not.

MERRY CHRISTMAS AND LOVE AND PEACE TO YOU ALL!

© 2020 Georganne Spruce

Related Articles:

AWAKENING TO THE DANCE OF LIGHT

AWAKEN TO LOVE THE LIGHT

 

AWAKENING TO LIGHT THE DARKNESS

“A single sunbeam is enough to drive away many shadows.” Francis of Assisi

Who or what is the sunbeam in your life?  Is it you? How do you shine your light?

Light comes to us early in the summer and stays late although rainy days cast shadows across the mountains.  Still the sun peaks through every day and at times surrounds us as a reminder there is at least one sunbeam in our lives.

But besides the physical light, what other sunbeams appear in your life?

Some Elements of Our Lives Lift Us Up

Is your spouse or are your children or other family members lights in your life?  My husband certainly is.  The depth of his ideas often opens my mind and takes me down a path I have not seen before.  He also lightens my mood with his humor and the jazz he plays on his saxophone.

My nephews and niece, who live halfway across the country, all have children.  I miss seeing them face to face, but I often feel “lit up” by the kids’ antics and accomplishments when their parents’ share their activities on Facebook.

Do you ever feel enlightened by what you read?  I am often amazed by the ability of some people to rise above their limiting backgrounds.  Recently, I was deeply touched by James McBride’s story, The Color of Water: A Black Man’s Tribute to His White Mother.  While he was a black man learning to survive in a white world, his white Jewish mother was living most of her life among black people who kept her at a distance.  Their heroic stories lifted my heart and brought light to my understanding.

How Light Slips Through the Darkness

Although we are surrounded by much negativity today, the light slips through the news with  stories of people surviving the virus, taking care of the natural environment by reviving plants and animals that have almost disappeared, and feeding the hungry and helping the homeless.

But the stories that often touch me the most deeply are those of people, who having been wrongly accused and put in prison for years, are finally released.  Imagine your life and reputation being falsely stolen for most of your adult years. Thank goodness for DNA, for it is often the evidence that allows these human beings to step out of the prison darkness into the light of a real life.

Focusing to See the Light

What about the times when our lives contain light but we don’t see it?  Aristotle once said, “It is during our darkest moments that we must focus to see the light.”  I’ve known people who invariably saw the dark side of a situation first and become so caught up in that that they missed what was positive.

In 1999 I sadly discovered I had chronic fatique syndrome.  Living near my family in New Orleans, the hot, damp weather had made me sick.  I longed to move to Asheville to be near mountains and a couple of friends, but my doctor insisted I could only heal in a dry climate.  I was very depressed about this.Fortunately, a friend had recently moved to Albuquerque which I assumed was a boring landscape.  I visited her and was amazed by the beauty of the sunsets and the Latino and Native American art and culture.  Moving there, not only healed me, it helped me grow by expanding my awareness as I taught in high schools filled with students of diverse cultures.

How Can We Change This Dark Time

We are now living in a dark time when our democracy is significantly endangered. We can either let this depress and limit us or we can see that it is an opportunity to shine a light on what needs to be changed.

Each day there are more displays of light: peaceful protesters, politicians speaking out against what is corrupt even when it may risk their careers, and citizens who give money to organizations that feed the hungry or help those losing their homes.  Those who faithfully wear masks despite the discomfort are also beings of light protecting themselves and others.

How are you the sunbeam that shatters the darkness and chases the clouds away?

©2020 Georganne Spruce

AWAKENING TO TRUE ENLIGHTENMENT

LIGHTING OUR DARKNESS

AWAKENING TO DISCOVER THE LIGHT

AWAKENING TO WALK IN BEAUTY

 How do you create beauty in your life?  Is it external or internal?  How does it make you feel?

Navajo Prayer

In beauty may I walk.

All day long may I walk.

Through the returning seasons may I walk.

Beautifully will I possess again

Beautiful birds …

Beautiful joyful birds …

On the trail marked with pollen may I walk.

With grasshoppers about my feet may I walk.

With dew about my feet may I walk.

With beauty before me, behind me,

   above me, all around me may I walk.

In old age wandering on a trail of beauty lively, may I walk

It is finished in beauty.

It is finished in beauty.

In the mountains of North Carolina, walking in beauty is the simplest thing one can do.  Surrounded by luscious green trees and abundant colorful flowers, nature is vibrant in the spring, summer, and fall.  Even when those of us who live here feel bored or depressed, a walk in the forest can lift us up.

The Physical Gifts Of Nature

We have become a culture surrounded by things.  We fill our homes with paintings, nick-knacks, computers, and lovely objects so that we feel at home with the memories they invoke and they communicate to others who we are and what our status is.

Years ago, when I was living alone and making little money as a teacher, I couldn’t afford anything I didn’t absolutely need.  Despite that, I needed to make my apartment feel like my home, so I decorated it with the only things I could afford – items from nature and cheap containers.  I found bird feathers in the yard.  At the beach, there were piles of colorful shells, and as I hiked in the mountains, I gathered small rocks and quartz.

Although my home is now a house full of purchased items, paintings, posters, and artsy clay bowls, I use the baskets I bought in Africa to display my rocks and shells, pine cones and bird feathers.  I especially appreciate these beauties on a winter day when there is snow on the ground and I’ve been cooped up too long.  Their beauty and the remembrance of the joy I felt in finding them brightens my day.

When spring and summer come, they offer us more natural beauties, such as the brilliant blue hydrangeas, golden black-eyed Susan’s, vivid purple iris, and multiple colors of roses.  Not only may we enjoy these when we are out-of-doors, we can pick them and liven the house with their fragrance and beauty.

Many people also plant flowers and vegetables this time of year, but what else are we planting, especially in our minds?

When life becomes especially challenging, we can become rooted in its negative aspects to the point that we become depressed or unable to function well.  At this time, we need to remember that this pain can be relieved to some extent like physical pain.  When our body aches, we may do the easy thing and take a medication or supplement that soothes the discomfort, but nature can be a healing remedy too.

The Healing Gift of Mother Nature

When life becomes a mental or emotional burden, we may lift that burden or at least lessen it by walking in beauty and taking in the gifts it offers.  We may step outside to let bright sun warm and wash us with it’s golden light.  At sunset, we can drive to the parkway and watch the sun splash brilliant orange and red behind the darkening mountains.  Or we may choose to walk barefoot over the grass in the yard or a park and feel the precious earth supporting us from below.

By feeding our senses with beauty and being in the moment to see, smell, and feel the gifts of nature, it becomes easier to return to caring for a sick child or parent, struggling with low finances, or settling for only virtual access to our friends and relatives.  Walking in nature’s beauty can help heal the insecurity we feel and restore the joy we have momentarily lost.

© 2020 Georganne Spruce

Related Articles:  

The first article here is about my dear friend Jerry who passed away in 2018.  Of all the people I’ve know he was the one who lived closest with nature.

AWAKENING TO WILDNESS, ONE WITH NATURE, Part 2

AWAKENING FROM THE HEART

DANCING FROM OUR CENTERS

 

 

AWAKENING TO OUR REALITY

“The pessimist complains about the wind; the optimist expects it to change; the realist adjusts the sails.”  William Arthur Ward

How do you usually react to new situations?  Do you tend to resist, ignore, or adjust to an event or condition you don’t like?  What works best for you?

I often think of myself as an optimist.  Years ago, I was very involved with the “think positive” movement, primarily because life was difficult and the many changes in my life often wore me down.  I also learned that much of the negative thinking I did could be released when I learned to release my fears because those fears created the negative thoughts.

All these experiences helped me to get my negative thinking under control, and by seeing life from a more positive perspective, I was a happier person.  But choosing to be an optimist about everything is not always the best choice.

Being A Realist Is Wise

The wisest approach to life is to be a realist and develop the ability to adjust to what is actually occurring because ignoring reality can be harmful.  I once had a friend who was very creative and with whom I did presentations that combined my poetry and her photography.  This was a very powerful creative connection I had not experienced since my earlier years in modern dance and theater and I deeply valued it.

When she became ill, she refused to see a doctor, insisting she would be fine. After many months, her daughter convinced her to face the source of her pain.  When she finally visited the doctor, she discovered she had very advanced cancer that could not be treated.  She died four months later.

I was stunned, heart-broken, and angry.  Having dealt with many illnesses over the years, I had always seen a doctor, even if I dreaded what I thought the answer would be.  I knew that whatever the sickness was, I needed to face it and treat it.  But my friend was not a realist.

Adjusting the Sails of Your Life

Life is not the perfect drama we would like it to be.  There are ups and downs and surprises, but what creates a good life for us is how we deal with the winds that blow through our lives.  None of us would choose to be experiencing a pandemic, especially one that is clearly not going away soon, but it is here, regardless of what we want.

So how can we be realistic and live well during this time?  I strongly suggest listening to the medical experts about wearing a mask, social distancing, and getting tested instead of to a president and his followers who deny these needs exist.  As George Bernard Shaw once said, “Beware of false knowledge; it is more dangerous than ignorance.”

Be a realist and “adjust the sails of your life.”  My husband and I love to go to the movies.  Now we have discovered the PBS series “Poldark” and often watch it when we’re in the “movie” mood.  What is nice about this is that we don’t have to get dressed and spend money.  We can even watch it in our pajamas.

While it would be nice to eat in a restaurant, we can get a pick-up dinner and eat on our deck with a lovely view of the trees and the continual bird song.  For more outdoor pleasures we walk in the neighborhood and around a nearby lake.  We can visit and see friends faces on Zoom. These choices are not what we prefer, but they are the wise, realistic ones.

Being Realistic May Include Some Optimism

While being a realist makes sense and can safe-guard us during these particularly challenging days, being optimistic at times may also be helpful.  It’s better to hope than to become depressed about the worst.  It is worthwhile to consider what is needed for us to accomplish the goals we hope to pursue when restrictions ease.

What research might we undertake about the degree we want to get, the trip we desire to take, the job we hope to receive or the skills we wish to develop?  Even if we can’t pursue such things right now, we will learn what preparation we need and if we can begin any of that work now. We also may discover that there are other choices we overlooked which are more appealing.

With a willingness to adjust our sails, we may find the path we truly need to take to a destination where the sailing is smoother.

© 2020 Georganne Spruce

Related Articles:

AWAKENING TO GOOD DECISIONS

AWAKENING TO RELEASE OUR FEAR

AWAKENING TO ACCEPT REALITY

 

 

 

 

AWAKENING TO LIFE NOW

“Life would be infinitely happier if we could only be born at the age of eighty and gradually approach eighteen.”  Mark Twain

How does your age affect the choices you make now?  Are you happier at this age?  What do you consider the perfect age?

When I first read this quote by Mark Twain, I chuckled.  He always makes me laugh, but underneath the humor is often wisdom.  I’ll admit that at seventy-five I wouldn’t mind being a bit younger with a body that requires less upkeep and has unlimited energy.  On the other hand, at this age it’s easier to let go of irritations and live more in the moment.

Most of all, I’m glad I’m not approaching eighteen.  I was extremely limited at that time in terms of dealing with life’s changes and disappointments.  I had more illness because I didn’t know about my food intolerances.  At nineteen I lost the boyfriend I thought I would marry after college.  But I did have a lot of fun:  being in plays, singing, going to parties.  It’s just that I didn’t have the maturity to always make good choices.

Regardless of whether we are eighty or eighteen, our lives now are full of challenges we could never have dreamed and we have no way of knowing if life will return to “normal.”  In this situation we need some of age’s wisdom as well as the optimism of youth.

Age Teaches Us How To Deal With Change

Life continues no matter how much we may try to stop the change.  But when we’ve been around quite a few years, we’ve learned what we can change and what we can’t and how much time it is reasonable to take in order to make a change.

As we grow, hopefully, we learn how to deal more positively with the difficulties of the emotional stress that change may create.  With years of regular meditation behind me, I’ve learned that when I get emotionally upset, it is best to take a few deep breaths and that calms me.  Walking briskly also works off the adrenal response and strengthens my body at the same time.

After the initial response, I sit quietly and think about what I need to do, if anything.  How can I solve this problem?  Can it be solved or do I need to just accept it?  Does solving the problem involve other persons?  If so, how can I calmly and positively approach them so that they will want the help?  If it can’t be solved, how do I live with it?

Failure Is Not Always Negative

How we deal with a problem is not only related to what it is, but also how we feel about ourselves. If we were not given positive messages about our worth as a child, we may question our abilities as an adult. In this case, it is important that we get the help we need to heal those wounds so that we see ourselves as good and capable people.  If we trust our abilities, we won’t push problems aside or expect someone else to solve them for us.

Hopefully long before we head toward eighty, we have healed any lack of self-worth and learned to accept who we are, not judging ourselves for what we perceive as our failures.  We all experience failures. Sometimes those failures are positive in the sense that they send us down a different path of learning.  Failure may also allow us to explore an aspect of life that we would never have consciously chosen but which presents us with opportunities for growth.

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One twist of fate in my life began when my family moved to Tulsa when I was about thirteen.  I was not happy at all about leaving my friends.  But there in high school, modern dance was part of the physical education curriculum.  Taking that class, I began to develop muscles and feel physically strong for the first time in my life.  I loved it so much that modern dance became a part of my life for many years. It helped improve my physical health and developed my creativity.

Valuable Aspects of Aging

What I like most about approaching eighty is that I no longer feel driven to accomplish anything.  I write because I love to do it, not because I’m driven to become a famous writer.  I enjoy sharing my ideas with others and especially like it when my blog followers make comments letting me know how my words touched them.

I’m more able to accept my failures or the areas where I lack talent such as my limited cooking skills.  I used to be a perfectionist.  Although that aspect of my personality rears its head from time to time,  I don’t feel a slave to it.  I do the best I can and forgive myself for what I lack.  Growing older has brought me more peace, which is truly a gift, even though I’ll never be eighteen again.

© 2020 Georganne Spruce

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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

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