Practice Makes Good Better

People are complicated. They have many facets, do strange things sometimes, and in so many, their ego leads their life. Nature is easy. That’s where I started in my appreciation practice. I began appreciating plants, trees, leaves, bushes, weather, the sky, the air, the temperature, the breeze, the small close-up view, and the grander wide-angle long views. It was easy and I felt so good expressing my appreciation in my mind. I was thanking God for all of what I was seeing.

Everywhere I went, whether just outside my home or in some other part of the world, nature was right there. As I would appreciate one thing, then I found it easier to appreciate another. As that happened, the Law of Attraction began putting other things to appreciate in my path until I was almost in a constant state of appreciation as I viewed nature.

Then I moved to people. In this, I would try to find at least one thing to appreciate about everyone that I might see, or interact with. I might like their eyes, their hair, the clothes they chose, or their shoes, or their smile, or their laughter. There are so many possibilities that I found it an easy challenge to like at least one thing about other people.

As part of this, I began seeing things about myself that I could appreciate. As I said earlier, to appreciate others and not ourselves is to not really appreciate at all. Then, the Law of Attraction began helping me see other things to appreciate about me. It might be things I said or wrote. It might be the way my hair looked that day. I began complimenting myself in the mirror. Then I began doing it aloud. I do it more today because it is so important to appreciate ourselves. After all, we are who we live with 365/24/7.

Then, I began practicing being bold enough to share something that I appreciated about another to them aloud. It is always interesting to hear and see their responses. It’s also funny. I might compliment a woman on her blouse or other aspects of their choices in clothing, and they will often say thank you, and then tell me how cheap it was and maybe even which store it came from as if they are negating its value by having it be inexpensive. But, whatever their reaction, it has always been positive and you can see how they appreciated someone noticing in their eyes, face, and body language.

Now I do this a lot. If I see the same people time and again like at the bank or something, I can always find something else to compliment them on. My finding things to appreciate is now habitual. I don’t even think about it much. I am used to seeing things to appreciate wherever I am, all day long. It matters not whether I am at home and finding things, or out and about, or at events. I am constantly seeing things to appreciate and I am constantly appreciating them inside.

Even when I see something that I don’t really appreciate, I find things about it that I can appreciate. For example, I’m not much of a fan of graffiti, or at least the kind of graffiti I see around where I live, but I can and do appreciate their creativity. I don’t appreciate that they are damaging other people’s property, or that they are uncaring about any of that, but I can appreciate their humanity and perhaps even that which causes them to feel less than and to try to be more than in an attempt to find their own wholeness.

On that note about graffiti, I see it and quickly look away. I don’t want to give it any energy. I used to give it all kinds of energy by putting down those who were doing these acts and feeling bad in the process. I have learned that feeling good is my goal and it is that which helps me to become more, so I turn to a better feeling view and give that energy instead. Even in this, it is all about finding something to appreciate.

On the other hand, the word graffiti simply means writing or drawing on a wall or other object. In some definitions, they use the word illicit. So, there are all kinds of graffiti that I truly appreciate, and some of it is quite spectacular as art. Even as I sit at the railroad crossing and see all the cars with graffiti on them, I see many with very elaborate painted words and images. Obviously, they had more time to spend on that project, but looking beyond the idea of changing other people’s property without their permission, much of this artwork is truly creative and even beautiful.

Then, outdoor murals can be considered graffiti. There are all kinds of ways to find appreciation in something that we may normally hate to see or even feel angry about and more. Becoming a grateful person is finding different ways to appreciate things, and I think even especially things, that we might not normally appreciate. It is life-changing—changing for the better.

Wisdom

Walking in the forest,
I gaze in wonder
at the giant redwoods,
stately,
mighty,
beautiful.
How did you grow so
from seedling
to magnificence?

They spoke to me,
“We learned from life.
The winds
taught us to bend,
the storms
to deepen our roots,
the drought
to endure.

We were given
sunlight for nurture,
Holy water for drink,
one another for sharing,
and time to live
the fullness.

Through the ages
of our life
we learned
joy in being,
thanksgiving for
receiving,
reverence from
seeing,
and love by
knowing.”

— Donna F Fletcher
Reflections of the Heart

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

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