“’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
“Because you are alive, everything is possible.” – Thich Nhat Hanh
“We are here to awaken from the illusion of our separateness.” – Thich Nhat Hanh
The science on meditation and mindfulness shows the real impact on daily living. We get skeptical about adding one more thing to our daily to do list, but meditation is worth the 10-30 minutes a day. In addition to training for a now virtual marathon, journaling every morning since March and daily meditation guided by the Insight Timer app has been worth the effort and investment.
We need to do less so we can experience more. Let go of old stories, hold on to things worthy of our valuable time. Create space for new possibilities, joy and abundance.
Let go of the unnecessary so you can hold on to the necessary. Carve quiet so light can enter and reveal the magic of living.
“Peace in ourselves, peace in the world.” – Thich Nhat Hanh
“All of us need to begin to think in terms of our own inner strengths, our resilience and resourcefulness, our capacity to adapt and to rely upon ourselves and our families.” – Steven Pressfield
“I think we build resilience to prepare for whatever adversity we’ll face. And we all face some adversity – we’re all living some form of Option B.” – Sheryl Sandberg
This week, Jeanne gave me a ceramic pumpkin filled with fresh tomatoes from her garden. The tomatoes alone would be awesome enough, but the pumpkin had very special meaning. Years ago, the pumpkin was filled with fresh beautiful flowers. They were sent to our office in St. Paul addressed to Jessica Gill. Jeanne got them and called Jessica immediately to let her know that she received flowers.
Jessica was a fellow coworker/friend who worked for us remotely in Montana. She was the original remote worker before COVID-remote work became “cool.” It was from a client thanking her for her outstanding work – no surprise. Our office should have been filled with flowers, gifts and chocolates for her commitment, creativity and leadership through the years for both our clients and staff.
So the pumpkin filled with tomatoes this week went deeper. It was a sweet reminder of Jessica who worked for me for years. We talked every day. She was one of the most brilliant, kind and generous young woman/person that I’ve worked with over a 30+ year career. She succumbed to a second ass-kicking from cancer on January 6, 2019, in her 30s with two young boys and a husband who adored her, like the rest of us.
Not one single day goes by that I don’t want to pick up the phone to talk, strategize and solve complex problems with a laugh weaved in the conversation. She understood me and the depth of the tech work that we worked on together for the years.
So as I finished this week, with my pumpkin displayed in my living room, one thought kept rising in my heart – “we’re still here.” That’s really the gist of it, especially now. We are still here in this “unprecedented time” and are called to keep living, contributing, caring and being generous with ourselves and others. We are still here to honor those who have gone before us, rising to all occasions with resilience, hope, joy, enthusiasm and victory. Until we cross over, we are still here to fight the good fight, so let’s do this!
When you start feeling sorry for yourself – and I do myself regularly – remember, we are still here and here for a purpose. Be present, be hopeful, be joyful and serve the world until you are no longer a part of it. Carry on with hope, spunk and fight. Cast light – we all are in desperate need of it right now!
“In order to succeed, people need a sense of self-efficacy, to struggle together with resilience to meet the inevitable obstacles and inequities of life.” – Albert Bandura
“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
“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
“In one drop of water are found all the secrets of all the oceans.” – Khalil Gibran
“From which sense of center will we live our days: as an arrow always seeking its mark, or as a drop of water always seeking its home? Half the time, we’re so eager to get somewhere only because we’re uncomfortable with where we are. Much of the time, we’re trying so hard to keep the difficult things out that we stop letting in what is always present and beautiful.”— The Book of Soul: 52 Paths to Living What Matters, Mark Nepo
Each of us makes a choice from where we will live our days. Fluid as a drop of water or an arrow in fervent flight aiming for somewhere else. In the pursuit of what’s next, we miss what already is in this very moment. Allow movement, grace and the slow work of being so you can go deeper into the ocean of your very soul.
“As fish in their grace demonstrate, it’s not surfacing or bottoming that is our home, but our movement back and forth. That immersion brings us alive. For the slow work of being leads us to a thorough life, where the deeper currents moving through us are life-giving and empowering. And the Whole of Life rinsing through our heart and mind is what we feel and think and speak.”— The Book of Soul: 52 Paths to Living What Matters, Mark Nepo
“A single rose can be my garden… a single friend, my world.” – Leo Buscaglia
“Wherever you are, be there totally.” Eckhart Tolle
No matter the season, these two always know how to have fun. Summer brings rolling in the grass and some serious ball chasing. When I get caught up in my “to do” list and my swirling thoughts, they bring me back to focus on gratitude, presence and joy.
Life is not a continuous puzzle to solve, a checklist to be checked off, a hot pursuit of what’s next. Life is hidden right in front of us in simple moments, in a walk with a friend, in laying next to your best pal and flipping a tennis ball into the air to show off your ball handling skills.
Breathe, laugh and take it all in.
“The little things? The little moments? They aren’t little.” Jon Kabat-Zinn
“Life seeks life and loves life. The opening of a catkin of a willow, in the flight of the butterfly, in the chirping of a tree-toad or the sweep of an eagle – my life loves to see how others live, exults in their joy, and so far is partner in their great concern.” – Edward Everett Hale
“Yet it is in this loneliness that the deepest activities begin. It is here that you discover act without motion, labor that is profound repose, vision in obscurity, and, beyond all desire, a fulfillment whose limits extend to infinity.” – Thomas Merton
Eagles can see four to five times farther than the average human. So rather than 20/20 vision, they have 20/5 vision.
So often we get caught in the day to day “mouse eye” view focused on our to do lists, transactional demands rather than vision and intention required to live a deep, meaningful and fulfilling life.
The meaning of life is not found in checklists, multitasking or a scorecard. Rather it is a beautiful complicated, confusing, confounding, original story that each of us are meant to write, create and to enter into the mystery of the unknown.
Take an eagle’s eye view of your life and see the big picture. It most certainly won’t end where you have planned. It will be much, much grander, beyond your imagination when you are alive, awake and filled with vision.
The interview this week on Don’t Keep Your Day Job with Byron Katie, The Work was filled with wonderful insights including four questions to ask yourself to change the narrative you tell yourself and the power to change it to serve you better:
“Is it true?”
“Can I absolutely know this is true?”
“How do I react when I believe this thought?”
“Who would I be without this thought?” Then turn it around and say “What is the opposite?”
A few other takeaways:
You are your own way out. It begins and ends with you.
Don’t feel guilty for believing what you believe.
Freedom and happiness are your birthright.
We choose our own thoughts so we have the power to change our world. Explore abundance, create your days, see the brilliance in the petal of a flower.
“Nothing has such power to broaden the mind as the ability to investigate systematically and truly all that comes under thy observation in life.” – Marcus Aurelius
“Meditation is an attempt to stop rowing and let the water of life go clear, so you can see through to the bottom of things. Let’s try this now. Put down your oars and drift. Center yourself and breathe slowly. Whatever the day holds can wait. The first oar to leave alone is your mind. Inhale and exhale deeply. The second oar to ungrip is the oar of fear and worry. Inhale and exhale slowly. Simply breathe and let the water of your life settle and calm. Let your breathing quiet the ripples. Let the water of all life settle and calm. Look through the calm, not searching for anything, just seeing what’s there.” — The Book of Soul: 52 Paths to Living What Matters, Mark Nepo
Stop rowing. Let the water settle so you can observe, listen and be present. Our thoughts, opinions, judgments either contract or expand us. When we drift and observe, we choose expansion and mystery.
Dare to be quiet long enough to awaken your senses to see to the bottom of things. Put the paddles down each day to cultivate clarity and joy. We cast light by allowing light in.