Category: Allowing

Gratitude as a philosophy

We can turn our gratitude into our philosophy. In other words, to change our lives, all we need do is change our thinking. Philosophy is essentially what you know, and I would have to add, what you think and thereby feel about what you know. It might be a combination of beliefs, and a belief is simply a thought we keep thinking, until we decide to think something else over and over again, changing our belief to something else. So, refining a philosophy is as simple as changing your thoughts about something, or someone. And, the word refining means to me to make it more clear, or to make it better, or to make it feel better—to be more in alignment or to resonate more within.

As I said in the Introduction, I have not ordered these chapters by priority of learning, effectiveness, or when they came into my life, but If I were to put them in order of importance to improving my life, learning to be a grateful person, an appreciative person, and sharing that appreciation with others would be at the top of the list. In fact, I would have to say that learning to appreciate, to be grateful, didn’t just change my life for the better, it TRANSFORMED it. If I were giving advice on how to live a full and valuable life, one with more joy, I would advise that beginning to appreciate things and people, and then practicing it daily, that this one thing would be enough. If you only read this far, and took this chapter to heart and put it into practice in your life, it would be impossible for you to not have a joyful life. Yes, it is that powerful and life-giving.

As part of this, here’s an important point to add. Finding things and people to appreciate is key, but it might not occur to you to also find things and attributes within yourself that you can appreciate and then practice appreciating yourself along with the outer world around you. To appreciate others and things outside of us and to miss including ourselves is to put others on a pedestal and put ourselves in a pit. This is what most mean in the word worship—to see the other as superior in one or more ways. It is discounting ourselves, and it is not healthy.

To appreciate is to appreciate the differences. We are all different. We all have unique talents. One is not more or better than another’s, though many things try to indicate that via games, magazines, television, and more. To really appreciate is to appreciate them as we revel in ourselves. To really appreciate is to see all of us as children of God, or as connected souls in the Universe. It is to appreciate that without ourselves, while not discounting ourselves in the process.

They say that you cannot love another until you love yourself, but that is not true. People love others and not themselves all the time. It is predominant in our lives. What is true is that this love we think we are giving others is an ego-driven act that makes that thing that we think of as love to be something else entirely. Love and appreciation are a vibrational match. They are harmonious. When we can appreciate and love ourselves and at the same time love, appreciate, and respect others for their uniqueness, we are both complete. We cannot make others a plus while we view ourselves as a minus and call it appreciation.

What is gratitude?

What is gratitude exactly? Well, I think it is something as simple as what we see and then what we think when we see it. That doesn’t only mean with our physical eyes, but also in our mind’s eye; our imagination. I will have to add to this simple definition that as a result of what we see and what we think about what we see (or imagine), we will feel good.

Then, bringing this down to the most basic level possible, gratitude is a good feeling about someone or something, or even more simply, feeling good, or to feel good.

There are all sorts of levels for gratitude, just as there is all manner of ways good might feel. Feeling good might feel like love or joy, or knowing, freedom, appreciation, feeling empowered. You could also feel contentment, confidence, passion, enthusiasm, eagerness, or feeling happy. I don’t think you would feel any of those feelings without gratitude.

Another easy way to see gratitude is in being thankful. You could be thankful for something within yourself, or something outside of yourself.

My favorite way to think about gratitude is appreciation. When I am appreciating, I am in thankfulness, and I am in gratitude. So, rather than gratitude, a word that has become iconic of late, I prefer to use a word that is more descriptive of the act: appreciation.

And because it is more descriptive of the act, sometimes people want to know how to have more gratitude, or how to become a more grateful person. This makes it so simple and easy: begin to appreciate things, acts, people, flora and fauna, well, pretty much anything. The act of appreciating is being thankful. It is being grateful. As this occurs, one naturally becomes a grateful person.

Love Them. Love Them Anyway. Love Them Regardless.

“The secret of health for both mind and body
is not to mourn for the past, nor to worry about
the future, but to live the present moment
wisely and earnestly.”

— Siddhartha Gautama

“It makes no difference how deeply seated may
be the trouble, how hopeless the outlook, how
muddled the tangle, how great the mistake.
A sufficient realization of love will dissolve it all.”

— Emmet Fox

[Classic post from 6-28-12. Note: As I reread this post, I thought of similar events in people’s lives that I know or know of. I thought it was an enlightening reminder to consider how we can enjoy the present moments with our loved ones and to worry not about the past or the future. There is positive in every so-called tragedy and as we open to what we can find in that way we are both transformed.]

Since I’ve shared a lot of myself in these blogs, I will continue that by telling you that my wife is dying in front of me and fading more each day. She has ALS, and other ailments and in the last year has aged at least ten. She was forced to retire this year by not being able to function in her capacity any longer. Most recently she was a Children’s Pastor, and now on disability with a fatal disorder.

How do I turn that into an inspiration? It depends on how one would look at this.

Indeed, it would be so easy to say how sad it is and to mourn the why’s and wherefore’s, seek blame, and that list goes on much longer, and it is to no avail anyway. If I believe that these things just are given out at random to undeserving souls, or some devil was to blame, or anything at all we might think of from the outside, it is a seriously sad situation. And, at the same time, feeling sorry and feeling the potential loss is casting a dark shadow on anything like love.

Yesterday, I talked about accepting situations as if we had planned and executed them on purpose, whether consciously or unconsciously. In my mind, it is only with this kind of thought that I can deal with this by accepting and to feel love rather than all those other fearful and sorrowful emotions.

Does the way we think affect our health? I think there is no doubt in my mind and we can watch people over time and see how they deal with things and one way is an illness. Is it too late? I don’t believe so, but it is not up to me. This kind of talk from me falls on deaf ears, but I am too close and she has her own mind and beliefs many of which do not match mine.

So what to do?

Love her. Find joy. Stay in the moment as much as I can because in the moment there is only love and no fear. Don’t treat her as being less than, or excessively careful and all that fear stuff, but to just enjoy all the little moments that we used to let go by unnoticed and unappreciated.

Life can change in an instant when someone goes quickly. Life can change in moments in situations like this. A lot of people around her are sad and avoid seeing her, talking with her because her speech is affected so much now, but I debate with her and challenge her and have fun with her. She was a debate champion and I never even got close to winning an argument on any subject and never had any fun with it either. But now, I have fun.

Now we just go do things on the spur of the moment or do things we haven’t done in a long time, go for coffee which never was her favorite and is now for some reason. It’s not about making up for lost time, or anything like that, it is just a relaxing in allowing the present moment to take priority. It never used to but does now. And, that is a lesson I’ve been working on accepting and learning of late as well.

I talked about one of my favorite books, Power To Praise by Merlin Carothers and that book is what taught me to praise God for everything including things that my previous training taught me to condemn. It is so powerfully true and in the practicing of it, I see his message so clear. It is acceptance, then appreciation and love.

It is also an inspiration to pay more attention to the present every day regardless of health and circumstance. I’ve always liked that quote that says, “if you truly love God, what is there to worry about?

Happiness Is A Choice To Be So By Appreciating The Abundance Of Love We Have In Us And Around Us. There Is An Endless Supply. Endless. Use It.

Spread Some Joy Today–See the sparkle in the eye, the smile of love in the face. See yourself as a reflection of others.

Absolute Vulnerability

“Everything is in perfect timing; you do not have to rush things along. You are an eternal being; you are right in step with the transformation. What's your hurry?

It is only your assumption that there is some mysterious “how” that needs to be known before you will act in the manner you desire. In other words, laugh; be happy… because you want to. As soon as you do, you'll match that frequency. There is no mysterious “how,” none that has to be there. And if you really want a bottom-line definition, then: “Live now; that's how.”

Any time you live right in the now, utterly in the moment, any energy that comes along, any difference you feel, you will match instantly, due to living fully in the now, accepting it all, open to it all through absolute vulnerability. This is not weakness, but openness, strength, self-empowerment. That's how. Live in the now with it. Assume that what is happening belongs in your lives. Accept it; acknowledge it; integrate it. Live through it; get into it. Explore it; examine it. Get excited.”

— Bashar
Blueprint For Change

The Paradigm Of Love: Wealth Of The Heart

Once I knew a person of great heart wealth. She was ninety-two, a little bent from time. Her hair was white, her wrinkles deep, her eyes radiated light and love. She was beautiful, and she was one of my great teachers. Although we only spent one hour together, she changed my life.

Mary Hadley lived in a small room in a complex for the elderly in Pasadena, California. Her material possessions were the pictures on the walls and the teapot from which she poured our tea.

I, a stranger making a ministerial visit, knocked on her door. After a long moment, she opened the door, and I explained my being there. Suddenly her eyes lit up, and she explained, “Every day I ask, ‘Lord, what miracles do you have for me today?’ And here you are!” She thought I was a miracle, and this was the first time I felt like a miracle.

Such Divine-Human Love radiated from this small weathered being that I felt immersed in radiant light. When I was leaving the complex, someone told me, “Everyone loves Mary Hadley.” What is this love that can embrace a stranger and recognize another as a miracle?

Can the wealth of Mary Hadley be counted?

— Donna F. Fletcher
Reflections of the Heart

Heaven On Earth

Heaven on Earth is
not “the Heaven of Heavens,”
not the eternal kingdom,
not the perfect place.

For in Heaven on Earth
are the tears
for another’s pain,
for the wounded souls,
for God’s violated gifts.

Heartbreak abounds in
Heaven on Earth,
yet also are there tears
of joy in spring’s blooming,
of rapture in a setting sun,
of wonder in a child’s smile.

Heaven on Earth
cannot be found
by “doubt” or “disbelief,”
is denied the worldly wise,
is unknown to human pride.

For in Heaven on Earth
heart touches heart;
gentleness holds the frightened;
joy sees the other and dances,
and the newborn pine rises out of ashes.

Heaven on Earth is lived
in a moment of “Light,”
in a moment of knowing,
in a moment of deep tenderness,
in a moment of kneeling.

For Heaven on Earth
is Love’s dwelling place
known to all
who open to Love.

— Donna F. Fletcher
Reflections of the Heart

Letting Go Is So Powerful

“When we understand the needs
that motivate our own and others behavior,
we have no enemies.”

–Marshall Rosenberg

I talk about letting go of the rope quite often. It is that rope that is interwoven throughout all of my lessons in one way or another. It is all about letting go of the resistance that I have developed, often as a protective measure, but ultimately self-defeating. 

I’m often reminded of the tug-o-war game where one person or many pulls against an equal sum on the other end of the rope trying to win by brute force, whether moving the opponent across a line, real or imaginary or some undesirable obstacle like a patch of muddy water. Back and forth they go, gaining ground, losing ground, until there is a final victory for one side and failure on the other. It is the epitome of the win-lose theme that is displayed in almost every sport, as well as in business, and even in personal relationships and family. Someone is a winner, and the other one a loser.

But, more than this, it is about resistance. The winner in the tug-o-war game is the one or the team that has the most resistance. Resistance is desired. It is a good thing. Not so in life, as I have learned time and time again. So, my mantra has become, letting go of the rope. The rope represents resistance. It represents struggle, perseverance, brute strength (or trickery). The more we resist, the longer we’re in the game. The longer we’re in the game, the higher the chance of resisting enough to resist more than the opponents on the other end of the rope. 

The opponents are trying so hard to outdo each other. It’s fighting. It’s cajoling. It’s fun if you win and not if you lose. This is how so many of us are taught how life is. You’ve got to get out there and make it happen, take no prisoners, win at all costs. But, really, it is a zero-sum game at best. When one wins and one loses, that speaks volumes about a vision of lack, or a lack-mentality. There’s not enough for everyone, so you have to go out and work hard and make sure you get yours. It’s bad advice at best, and debilitating at its worst.

To me, the rope has become such a great metaphor to describe the struggle that so many live and that I spent most of my life living. It is also a perfect metaphor for letting go, by opening my hands and simply letting go of the rope, making my own choices regardless of what others may think

I spent a lot of years learning that letting go was my answer or the key pieces of the puzzle of my life. I have spent all the remaining years practicing letting go.

Holding on is so normal, and letting go is the opposite, or so it seems. But, it doesn’t matter to me anymore what someone else thinks is normal or abnormal. Part of letting go of the rope is taking charge of my life, making better decisions, and enjoying my journey in joy instead of struggle, choosing love instead of fear and so much more.

I Have Power

“Only human beings can reorder their lives
any day they choose by refining their philosophy.”

–Jim Rohn

I suppose I could say that it all begins with the realization that I have power, and if I don’t yet recognize that as a fundamental truth, that I can learn to recognize the power. What power? The power to change my life to more of what I want and less of what I don’t want. The power to lead my life instead of having others dictate or circumstances determine my fate. The power to have a great life, to be happy generally, and to feel purpose and to find fulfillment in my life and my relationships with others. It means that instead of hoping that my life might turn out well, having the power means that I actually control it.

Another way I might reflect on this is that it means that I am accepting responsibility for my life, or to be in charge of my life. It took a lot of years for me to get to the point where I was really accepting full responsibility for my life and how it has turned out. But, I began accepting responsibility a little at a time, while I was still seeing other people outside of me causing issues, and circumstances that weren’t to my liking. I still blamed things and people outside of myself for much that went on that I didn’t like. There were even some periods of feeling powerless, yet little by little, I made progress.

Jim Rohn was a big help in the philosophy of that, but I never seemed to live up to my own comparison with his views of a successful person. I tried. I listened to the tapes, read his books, and generally loved what he was saying, and even practiced, but I still fell short. That is so often how we feel when we are comparing ourselves to others. And, yet, as I said, progress was happening; albeit, slowly.

It would take almost another 30 years to really get to the point of fully accepting my own ability and responsibility for changing my life to my own desires, and letting go of all that resistance that is demonstrated so blatantly in blame, disappointment, unworthiness, and powerlessness.

I think it is extremely important to acknowledge and accept the inner power that we have at our disposal. It is and has always been there, but many may be so caught up in what is going on around them and the disparity they feel about them, that they just don’t realize the control of their lives they can have.

In fact, I believe that all of our learning is simply and exquisitely to remember what we already know—to re-member, re-connect. I believe that we have all the answers we ever need within us via our inner connection with God or All-That-Is. At the same time, it is great to make connections with other people and be subject to some of their influence to enhance ourselves too. These connections are not haphazard as they might seem but are co-creating with others for the benefit of all. There is something beautiful in sharing knowledge with others. It is the same vibration as love.

Who Taught Me?

Below is a poetic phrase that touched me deeply and really stood apart from the rest of the poem. The whole poem is excellent, and I so enjoyed this piece of it that I wanted to share that insight with you in case you may have a similar sense. I am very clear now in my life that happiness is indeed in the heart and not in the world. Now the one line that stood miles apart for me is this: [Who taught me] “that my true self is beyond me?” I know now that it is not beyond me as I allow my alignment with it and with the unconditional love that my true self embodies. Equally enlightening was the first two phrases: “Who taught me that getting is taking?” Wow! What a fascinating thought. I hope you enjoy this poem today.

Who taught me
that getting is taking,
not giving;
that happiness is in the world
not in the heart;
that my true self
is beyond me?

_________________________________________________________

When?

When did I become
and ego, not a truth
surrendering my divinity
for the world?

How did I become
someone I’m not,
a hollow person caught
in a misled crowd
moving to the worldly tune,
competing for the worthless prize?

Who taught me
that getting is taking,
not giving;
that happiness is in the world
not in the heart;
that my true self
is beyond me?

Who is this me
acting on the stage of life?
Who is this one
who can smile
while the heart cries,
who can make the
meaningless meaningful,
who can pretend that all is right
when it isn’t?

Who is this me
who has learned
my lines as an actor in a play
but doesn’t know why
the words are hollow?
Who is this me
who turns away from rainbows
and forgets the roses?

— Donna F. Fletcher
Reflections of the Heart

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