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Posts from the ‘Gratitude’ Category

Snow or Snowman

“It’s not what you look at that matters, it’s what you see.” – Henry David Thoreau

It snowed this week, and the lamenting began. Snow in October? It’s too early. Winter is going to be too long. One more thing in a year of constant change, fear and uncertainty. What’s next? (I have my money on the locusts.) No doubt if there ever was a year in recent history to complain, worry and be cynical about, 2020 is the winner.

We believe that things happen “to” us rather than “for” us. A simple yet profound shift from “to” to “for.” Just because we don’t understand “why” doesn’t mean there’s not a reason, one that will be revealed in time with the requirement of perspective, distance and reflection.

We forgo today’s opportunity for joy and meaning in pursuit of the illusive and perfect “someday” which does not exist or the “past” where we remember only but a slice that serves our narrative of the “good old days.”

In addition to the snow this week, it was a week filled with non-stop technology problems at work. Like the weather, also out of our control. My nephew Liam came over Thursday for a few hours. He immediately asked me to go out to build a snowman and make snow angels.

Kids, in their infinite wisdom until we screw them up with “adulting,” see the snowman and the angels in an October snow. They run into it rather than away from it. They see the “for” rather than the “to.” The early snow happened for them so they could build a snowman and lay staring up at the sky moving their legs and arms in delight to bring angels to earth.

The choice each of us needs to make daily is whether we see the snow or the snowman. It determines whether we will live present in each moment grateful for the gifts and blessings that we are swimming in, even in a pandemic. “to” or “for”? I’m going for the “for” rather than “to” as much as I can. And when I forget, I have a snowman and snow angel from my 4 year old life coach Liam to remind me of the best choice of “for.”

Count and Recount

“’Thank you’ is the best prayer that anyone could say. I say that one a lot. Thank you expresses extreme gratitude, humility, understanding.” – Alice Walker

“Gratitude is not only the greatest of virtues, but the parent of all the others.” – Marcus Tullius Cicero

Daily journaling is an opportunity to witness our life, its broader meaning and how far we have come. The outside world – circumstances, other people – distracts, scatters and triggers reaction rather than thoughtful response.

As I journaled this morning recounting yesterday, I felt a deep sense of gratitude. When we count and recount what already is present in our lives, we become aware that we are more blessed than cursed.

Take full inventory daily to foster gratitude and hone your sense of joy. Your light within is brighter than you realize so keep counting and recounting. Create the space to choose your response with forethought.

“Between stimulus and response there is a space. In that space is our power to choose our response. In our response lies our growth and our freedom.” – Viktor E. Frankl

Light Burns Fog

“Silence at the proper season is wisdom, and better than any speech.” – Plutarch

“Derive happiness in oneself from a good day’s work, from illuminating the fog that surrounds us.” – Henri Matisse

On my run this morning, it was difficult to see too far ahead with the looming fog and damp cold. As I was finishing, the sun started to burn through the fog. Light always burns off the fog of uncertainty, negativity and judgment.

Cling to the light of hope, faith and resilience, especially now when the fog is thick with ongoing pandemic uncertainty, a mean season of dirty politics on both sides and hatred rooted in stereotypes rather than reality.

It was a beautiful end to the day with sun shining bright and brilliant. Choose light. Never take optimism for granted or underestimate her power to transform the world. Actively choose light over the fog.

On my way out for a walk tonight, my neighbor told me that she had the police over today because someone shredded her American flag and she was afraid. Stop the rhetoric and hatred! History lesson – the very first amendment is free speech. Speak yours and allow others to speak theirs without judgment, shaming or violence.

Go vote. Regardless of the results of the election in November, live a good life each day by contributing your best and offering kindness, understanding and empathy. Enough is enough. Build a life of your own that you will be proud of when you have to take account for it and stay in your own lane.

We have enough fog. Cast light.

“Without freedom of thought, there can be no such thing as wisdom – and no such thing as public liberty without freedom of speech.”- Benjamin Franklin

Reflection

“I think that all things, in their way, reflect heavenly truth, the imagination not least.” – C. S. Lewis

“God does not die on the day when we cease to believe in a personal deity, but we die on the day when our lives cease to be illumined by the steady radiance, renewed daily, of a wonder, the source of which is beyond all reason.” – Dag Hammarskjold

The blues are bluer, the bright is brighter.  Reflect and look for the good. Look for radiance, grace and beauty. It’s in you and all around.

“We all find joy and radiance and a reason to move on even in the most dire of circumstances. Even in chaos and madness, there’s still a beauty that comes from just the vibrancy of another human spirit.” – Ishmael Beah

Make New Memories

“Creativity is intelligence having fun.” Albert Einstein

Today marks the first day of the Minnesota State Fair – 10 days of fun. I live a mile away and have not missed going at least once if not a few times each year. Many good memories with family and friends. With the pandemic, many things have changed, turned upside down and have been canceled.

While I’ll miss the fair and other fun activities this year, I am trying to create new memories and be open to different experiences. And while the change and loss in 2020 is extraordinary, we are not called to remain in they abyss. We are people of hope, resilience, creativity, innovation, imagination, joy, laughter, promise, light, depth and purpose.

Create new memories with trust and assurance that we don’t remain in one place and time forever. So as we live through this rare time in history, many things have not been canceled and new things have been given – quiet, family, joy, gratitude, time to create, plan, think, exercise, read and connect with others in new ways.

We need a collective mind shift to optimism, hope and abundance. If we create that state in this moment, we can confidently move through the pandemic and all of the other struggles on this journey. Keep the faith. The only way to live life is forward. Create new memories and cast light.

“Fun is good.” – Dr. Seuss

“Don’t ever become a pessimist… a pessimist is correct oftener than an optimist, but an optimist has more fun, and neither can stop the march of events.” – Robert A. Heinlein

Rewire

“Nature does not hurry, yet everything is accomplished.” – Lao Tzu

“Meditation is a process of lightening up, of trusting the basic goodness of what we have and who we are, and of realizing that any wisdom that exists, exists in what we already have. We can lead our life so as to become more awake to who we are and what we’re doing rather than trying to improve or change or get rid of who we are or what we’re doing. The key is to wake up, to become more alert, more inquisitive and curious about ourselves.”– Pema Chodron

From the time I read The Power of Positive Thinking over 30 years ago, I’ve had a deep interest in psychology, optimism and purpose. It’s why I launched Cast Light over 9 years ago and launched Start3Things last year.

Advancements in neuroscience over the past two decades have provided new insights on how we can rewire our brain to positively impact our daily life. We are “wired” to see negative more than positive. It’s called negativity bias. I just started an online course on Meditations to Change Your Brain to gain new strategies and insights to expand my perspective and go deeper.

With mindfulness and meditation, we can exercise our brain and keep discovering, learning and growing. Meditation can steady your mind, focus attention, reduce stress and prompt creativity. I can’t think of a more important time than right now to pursue this practice daily to plan and prepare for each day and to get to the other side of the pandemic and well beyond.

While there are many meditation apps available, Insight Timer is actually free and has over 55,000 guided meditations. It’s an easy way to rewire our brain to find joy, light and calm in each day. If each of us pursued this for ourselves, imagine the state of the world. Start with your world first and see what the world can become in this very moment.

“To understand the immeasurable, the mind must be extraordinarily quiet, still.”– Jiddu Krishnamurti

BLESSED!

“What people call serendipity sometimes is just having your eyes open.” Jose Manuel Barroso

On the way home from a long run/walk last night, more walk than run, I sat down on the patio of a new pizza restaurant a block from home and watched three people cut down two trees in the parking lot. As I was thinking how tired I was from a long day of meetings, they were still moving branches, filling a bin with the debris and working hard.

As the owner of the tree cutting business sat down at the table next to me, we began to talk. He told me that he was happy to be outside again and working since he just finished up treatment for multiple myeloma, a cancer of the plasma that weakens the bones. He certainly didn’t look like he was weak as he moved large branches. And as he finished his story, he declared that he was BLESSED! And he said it with all-caps fervor.

A not so random encounter to remind me that I am blessed too! We all are blessed. We just need to recognize it. And when you forget, a stranger crosses your path to remind you to see the blessings amongst the daily mess of ordinary days. Blessed is certainly a better way to live.

Live today aware of your blessings and declare it!

Choose

“If you want to be happy, be.” – Leo Tolstoy

“Faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen.” – Hebrews 11:1

Happiness is a choice, a daily one. Regardless of circumstances, others and our own wandering aimless thoughts, we can go deeper within and rise above. Be mindful with your intentions and actions. Hope and conviction beyond the obvious into the unseen.

It’s that simple and that complex. Children and dogs have mastered it. The student really is the teacher. Learn the lesson. Do the work. Choose happy.

“Everything has its wonders, even darkness and silence, and I learn, whatever state I may be in, therein to be content.” – Helen Keller

Space and Grace

“Grow in the root of all grace, which is faith. Believe God’s promises more firmly than ever. Allow your faith to increase in its fullness, firmness, and simplicity.” – Charles Spurgeon

“Faith is a living, daring confidence in God’s grace, so sure and certain that a man could stake his life on it a thousand times.” – Martin Luther

Carve moments throughout the day to create space to listen, ponder and be at ease. Open up to the newness of the day, becoming aware of grace that is present, a free gift if we choose to open it. Go boldly with trust into the simplicity of living that we are called to enter.

Assumptions, old wounds and judgment cloud the path forward. The past, the way we choose to see it, need not define the future. We can write a new story. Empathy is kindness outward that comes back in as well. We realize that we are all on this journey together trying to find the right path forward.

By creating space, we create distance between stimulus and response, between the past and the future. We allow the clouds to part for the rainbow to weave through the cracks casting brilliant colorful light, reminding us of the possibility and abundance abound.

Create space so you can see grace, the rainbow that is behind the clouds.

“When you are spiritually connected, you are not looking for occasions to be offended, and you are not judging and labeling others. You are in a state of grace in which you know you are connected to God and thus free from the effects of anyone or anything external to yourself.” – Wayne Dyer

Light Show

“I am a being of Heaven and Earth, of thunder and lightning, of rain and wind, of the galaxies.” – Eden Ahbez

As the sky darkened and the rain moved in, a stunning light show danced through the clouds. Awe fills the heavy air. The immensity and beauty of creation remind us that life is bigger than a day, deeper than our circumstances and wider than the worry that we allow into our mind.

Let gratitude, hope, optimism, faith, trust, joy and grace in to light up your heart and soul. Bigger. Deeper. Wider.

Enjoy the show.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

“Mirth is like a flash of lightning, that breaks through a gloom of clouds, and glitters for a moment; cheerfulness keeps up a kind of daylight in the mind, and fills it with a steady and perpetual serenity.” – Joseph Addison

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