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Posts from the ‘Gratitude’ Category

You Can’t Take It with You

“Have gratitude for the things you’re discarding. By giving gratitude, you’re giving closure to the relationship with that object, and by doing so, it becomes a lot easier to let go.” – Marie Kondo

It’s been on my mind for the past month – clean out the closets and organize my clothes. Two rounds and 3 hours later, done. And it’s freeing. Sifting, sorting, bucketing and giving away clothes to someone who may actually need them. Organized, orderly and findable. Clothes that I will actually wear and can find quickly. Shopping my own closet rather than getting more. We keep adding without counting, taking inventory. And yes, I am parting with the Hawaiian shirt that’s too big, but I am now in search of my next loud shirt that sings, “let’s have fun!”

In addition to some Spring cleaning our physical space, we can also do some decluttering in our minds, assessing what’s already present in this very moment. Eliminate the “I’ll get to that later” piles and put it in its place now or let it go if you don’t need it.

Our clutter and inability to let go has created a $38 billion+ industry in the United States. According to SpareFoot, there are 50,000 facilities, 2.311 billion square feet of “stuff apartments” and enough storage space to fill Hoover Dam with crap, I mean, keepsakes that we can’t let go of.

And that clutter and accumulation is rooted in our mindset of more, more, more. A scarcity in our thoughts where we’ve convinced ourselves that this stuff will create happiness. It’s not working. Stop the pursuit of more and actually get more by counting what already is. Stop accumulating stuff and start accumulating daily joy. The search is over. It’s all within you.

And when our days on this earth are over, you can’t take it with you. And I can guarantee, your relatives will be getting a dumpster for your “keepsakes.” Let it go now and starting living today.

Clarity in the Morning

There’s a clarity in the morning like no other time of day. Fresh from resting if we allowed ourselves to lay the day down the night before to recover, refresh and renew. It’s a new start, a clean slate, an opportunity to do better. No distractions or interruptions. Quiet time to get a perspective that will be challenged, tested and pushed around the rest of the day with the demands of long to do lists, last minute requests due to lack of planning usually caused by putting out the last fire from the last round of lack of planning and forethought.

It’s good artificial intelligence is coming since real intelligence is in short supply. And humans will be able to teach the machines how to do it. Factory line, grind it out, more with less, get better by the hour, productivity, keep going even if it’s in the wrong direction. And certainly don’t let relationships and emotion get in the way. Busy, busy. Sounds great doesn’t it?

But that is not how we are built. The frustration, exhaustion and emptiness keeps showing up in the pathetic 32% employee engagement number that Gallup regularly measures. I would suspect that it will drop even further as we tout how artificial intelligence and machine learning will put you out of a job and really change the world for the better, again. Same empty promise, get rich quick scheme we bought into with the proliferation of technology giving us more time back. How’d that one work out?

Don’t get me wrong, a big part of my career is built on technology and what it can do to actually make our life better and connect the world to do cool things for humanity if we choose. But we fall for the shortcuts, the quick fixes, the 21 day solutions, the 10 minute a day train for a marathon formulas, the magic pill. How’s that working?

No matter how far we frantically search to discovery that “thing” that will change our lives forever, it comes down to what’s inside of each one of us and in messy, complicated, illogical relationships with others. How we play with others on the playground.

So from this morning clarity and rambling, I come to a few final thoughts since this will break into a longer version article when I have the time to go deeper someday (that’s also what we tell ourselves too often – “someday I will…”)

So someday is today:

  1. Slow down and breath at regular intervals today, take 5 two minute breaks from the action and the “ASAP” lists people keep creating for you. Let clarity be a part of your entire day rather than just the morning when people aren’t around to mess up your plans;
  2. Be a human being. Offer grace and generosity of spirit to others who disappoint you and come up short all of the time, despite your perfection. Show and share your humanness, flaws and all. Kindness to others begins with kindness within. You’re not perfect and no one else is either. Celebrate your imperfections;
  3. Choose empathy over apathy, even though apathy is what makes complete sense;
  4. Laugh, until it hurts, which I actually did last night. I pulled a muscle in my abdomen from laughing with friends. When I self-diagnosed myself last night with Dr. Google, you can actually strain muscles in your abdomen, proving the need to strengthen your laugh muscles every day. I’m sure there’s a 21 day fix for this. I’ll google that later, when I have time;
  5. Take full inventory. So often we count the hassles, set backs and losses making them larger than they warrant. Choose abundance over scarcity and make sure that you at least equally count the many blessings and gifts in your life. It’s irritating when someone says “be grateful” because they’re right.

That’s right – 5 Easy Steps to Happiness Today, with a money-back guarantee of your success. And order within the next 60 minutes and we’ll send 2 sets for the price of shipping.

Lighten up and cast some light today. Now, go get em! Your head lock is waiting.

Amazing Grace

“I do not at all understand the mystery of grace – only that it meets us where we are but does not leave us where it found us.” – Anne Lamott

“Happiness cannot be traveled to, owned, earned, worn or consumed. Happiness is the spiritual experience of living every minute with love, grace, and gratitude.” – Denis Waitley

It’s illusive. Hard to define, to harness the concept. Grace. A gift from God given to us freely with no strings attached. An assurance that we are being held whether we are aware of it or not. Worry and fear try to stop us, often successfully. Yet, grace remains. Quietly, steady and patiently waiting for us to notice. And merely to accept and fall into it.

God is always next to us, in front of us, behind us, around us and especially within us. God’s presence is not dependent of our awareness. But when we are aware and enter it fully without question, our days are transformed, becoming new again and again. Grace has no explanation, logic or reasoning. It just is.

Grace wakes us up, jolting us from our busy trance and worldly slumber to see a sunset for the first time. To find the hope in a hand held. To seize the utter joy hidden in simple moments. Grace is a free pass for being human. It is love without condition, the only real love that there is.

Grace allows us space and time to move through dark days, confused and afraid and to savor deeply the arrival to the other side. It is patient, kind, a warm embrace that never let’s us go. We need not pray for grace for it is given independent of our control or worthiness. Pray for the awareness of the seeing grace that is already present right now, ready to heal and make us whole.

And in the grateful awakening, we can dare to extend grace to others. Gently opening the door to peace, love, kindness, forgiveness, patience, empathy and awe.

Wake up to grace in your life. And the only thing you have to do is accept it without question and enjoy the ride. Amazing grace. How sweet the sound.

Intermission

“Wonder is one of the most powerful forces with which we are born. It is also one of our finest skills.” – Erling Kagge

I remember going to the circus every year growing up. Unlike today where we have an overabundance of daily entertainment options, the circus was a special annual occurrence. Something to look forward to, to anticipate and to foster a sense of wonder.

“Wonder is the very engine of life.” – Erling Kagge

In our pursuit of more at the expense of depth and meaning, our days have turned into a three-ring circus minus the sense of wonder. Attention pulled in several directions. Speed and motion without much thought and insight.

Urgency fosters chaos. We are way too serious about a lot of minutia and worry becomes the driver of our days with no room in the car for joy, delight and awe.

Slow down and finally realize that who you are is more important than what you do. We do a lot of “transaction” living, bouncing from one concrete “do-able” activity to the next to barely keep up mediocrity. A three-ring circus, with little depth and attention to one thing.

Before you race through your day today, plan some intermissions in the show to allow gratitude and wonder to the party. Take a walk, close your eyes, count your blessings, let go of worry. Gratitude magically shifts our perspective from adding more to counting what we already have. It grounds us in “enough” so we can stop the frantic pursuit of more.

Wonder and awe are waiting. Go get em!

“Laughter is carbonated holiness.” – Anne Lamott

Nonsense Makes Sense

“I like nonsense, it wakes up the brain cells. Fantasy is a necessary ingredient in living.”
― Dr. Seuss

“Now this relaxation of the mind from work consists on playful words or deeds. Therefore it becomes a wise and virtuous man to have recourse to such things at times.” – Thomas Aquinas

I sure did get a lot done this week on my ridiculously long and unreasonable list. And yet, there’s little satisfaction in that because as soon space opens up, it is immediately filled with the next thing, the next deadline, the next urgent request.

Humans are built and made for more than production.

There’s a restorative power in play, in rest, in space. When we get off the treadmill of our “to do” list and wander about with no agenda, no task, no deadline, we restore our capacity to be present in our own life and grateful for what we already have in this very moment.

Each day, we must carve time for play. Book a meeting with yourself to reconnect with what’s most important. Play, be frivolous, lay upside down with a ball.

There’s joy to be harvested in each day. Don’t get tangled up in the weeds of “one more thing to do.” Plant playful seeds and enjoy the harvest. There is a lot of sense in nonsense. Get that on your list and get it done.

“Your soul is infinitely creative. It is alive and expansive in nature. It is curious and playful, changing with the tides of time.” – Debbie Ford

That Flame

“Deep in their roots, all flowers keep the light.” – Theodore Roethke

That prompt, that soft whisper, that lingering feeling – the flame within. It remains, calling us to our authentic self. In difficult days, when we are left wondering what we are doing and why, it reminds us of our strength and resilience, what we are truly made of. And it pushes us to make changes, whether in our perspective or in our circumstances. It directs, leads and guides us like a compass. Trust it. Take steps each day to pursue your own becoming.

Our freedom comes in our daily choices of what we allow in and what we send out. We so often figure things out when we stop trying to figure them out. Gratitude always reframes our days. That flame within – let it shine. We need more light.

Look Back, Move Forward, Anchored in Today

“The power for creating a better future is contained in the present moment: You create a good future by creating a good present.” – Eckhart Tolle

“Do not dwell in the past, do not dream of the future, concentrate the mind on the present moment.” – Buddha

Sasha’s second birthday was on Thursday. Both Sasha and Abby were as happy as they were the day before. That’s the thing that dogs and kids have in common. The ability to be fully present in today and to achieve one thing – joy.

And in their process and pursuit of joy, we witness for ourselves the possibility that resides in each one of us and in each day. The capacity and the call to simply be present and aware without going too far back or reaching too far ahead.

The past has gotten to us to today so it serves to provide lessons, ground us in memories keeping those who have gone ahead of us on their journey in this world in our heart and builds our resilience. The future provides hope, fuels anticipation for new beginnings and comes slowly then quickly.

The present is the real gift hidden in ordinary moments, conversations and quiet reflection filled with gratitude, if we choose.

Be open to and seek joy and depth in today. The past is not the map to your future. Been there, done that. New, wonderful and abundant living lies ahead only to be discovered by you one day at a time. Today, that’s it.

Carrying Sunday into Monday

“Each life is made up of mistakes and learning, waiting and growing, practicing patience and being persistent.” – Billy Graham

For Lent, I decided to not give up something but to gain something – patience. To be more patient and not allow the little stuff, irritating people, busyness and interruptions to affect my attitude. And, of course, more patience will result in less swearing, even though studies show that people who swear are more intelligent. It’s easy to be positive and peaceful on Sundays. It’s the Monday-Thursday time frame that’s problematic.

We are not perfect and are not built to be. Perfect is God’s job, not ours. What I missed in my intention to be more patient was involving God in the process, allowing him to do his work rather than trying harder.

As soon as we set intentions, forces enter to block and tackle to ensure we are tested. On the way back to work on Thursday (note, the day after Ash Wednesday, within 24 hours of my intention setting), I was driving back to work after letting the dogs out at lunch and bringing three cups of coffee back to friends at work. Rushing to get back to the next meeting, I was three blocks away from the office and the idiot in front of me (note, no patience) stopped quickly for no apparent reason and I hit the brakes. Three large cups of Americano on the passenger side floor flew across the mat, opened up and spilled all over the place.

“My trust in God flows out of the experience of his loving me, day in and day out, whether the day is stormy or fair, whether I’m sick or in good health, whether I’m in a state of grace or disgrace. He comes to me where I live and loves me as I am.” – Brennan Manning

Needless to say, swearing ensued. The construction workers at our building learned a few new words that day as I pulled out the cups and tray and stomped and kicked them. Within the first 24 hours of setting my intention, I blew it big time. Nowhere near the mark.

If we allow, time gives perspective and offers up lessons. If I want more patience or anything else, I need to allow God to do his work in me and be open to change. We think that if we work harder and faster and do more, we can find the shortcut to our best self.

When we do less, let go and listen more, we soon discover that where we are right now is for a purpose and when we fail, we need to get back up again and again and keep trying, accepting and offering grace and moving forward to learn and grow. To be better, not perfect.

When we are rooted in the peace and beauty of Sundays, steeped in God’s grace, we can transform Mondays and every other day into opportunities to be fully present, grow in our imperfection and enjoy each day.

“Beauty without grace is the hook without the bait.” – Ralph Waldo Emerson

It Adds Up

The steps that you take today add up. What they add up to is up to you. Fulfillment and fruition require effort and time. Short cuts are detours that take us off the path we are intended to take.

Do today’s work, allow time to do its work and be gratefully present in this day. Be positive, kind, hopeful, generous and lighten up. Laugh, sing and dance along the way too. We are a work in progress, called to daily joy, growing in preparation to bloom in due time.

Daily Gratitude

“It was the rainbow gave thee birth, and left thee all her lovely hues.” – W. H. Davies

“Gratitude bestows reverence, allowing us to encounter everyday epiphanies, those transcendent moments of awe that change forever how we experience life and the world.” – John Milton

A simple glance to the left and the rainbow caught my attention and awe entered, setting the tone for the day. That’s all it takes. Opening our eyes to what is present in this very moment and rediscovering gratitude in daily encounters.

According to research, simply expressing gratitude may have lasting effects on the brain:

  1. Gratitude unshackles us from toxic emotions;
  2. Gratitude helps even if you don’t share it;
  3. Gratitude’s benefits take time;
  4. Gratitude has lasting effects on the brain.

For more inspiration and ideas on living well, check out the Greater Good Science Center at UC Berkeley which I just tripped on looking for quotes on gratitude. The joy that comes from simple pursuits indeed.

To be more grateful, lift your head up, open your eyes and find the rainbows woven through each day.

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