Tag Archives: bliss

How To Instantly Improve Your Life Using This Simple Yet Effective Technique

One day while sitting at a coffee shop I overheard a conversation between two women who were sitting directly in front of me.  No, I was not eavesdropping, they just happened to be talking in a rather loud voice, and the coffee shop was small so the tables were pushed rather close together.  I heard one of the women say “Every time I make a little bit of money, something bad happens and I end up having to spend it right away.  I just don’t know what to do anymore! I just can’t seem to be able to save any money.  Just the other day we got our yearly bonus at work, and not 2 days later my car broke down and we had to use practically every penny of it on the repairs, which wasn’t much to begin with.”

I zoned out after that.  You see, a while ago I learned that engaging in conversations of a negative nature – complaining, whining, or just talking about everything that’s wrong with the world – has the potential to perpetuate the very situation we’re complaining about by the mere act of giving our attention to them, especially when there is nothing we can do about them.

I found this to be true in my life; I found that the more I complained about something, the more accentuated that something became, and the more of it I experienced!  For instance, I had a habit of dreading traffic. I often told people, “I can’t stand driving, and I especially hate sitting in traffic.”  But that wasn’t entirely true.  I’ve always found driving to be enjoyable, but I often got tense and anxious the moment I saw red tail lights on the road, especially if I was on my way to work or to an appointment.

The problem was that whenever I was on the road I often found myself stuck in traffic, and so slowly but surely the association became lodged in my subconscious: driving = stuck on traffic = ugh! I often complained to people at work about how bad traffic was in the morning. If I was meeting up with friends or colleagues I complained to them about how bad traffic was on my way there.  This habit became so engrained in me that my first thought when getting in the car usually was, “I hope there is no traffic.”  So what do you think I often encountered? You guessed it! Traffic, and plenty of it!

So when I learned that giving my attention to something tends to accentuate it in my experience, I decided to test it out.  I made it a point to not give my attention to this dreaded traffic, and focus instead on something else, something pleasant.  I made it a point to change my thought when getting in the car to something other than traffic.  For instance, I would take a deep breath and think, “What a gorgeous day today is!” Or, “I’ve never seen the sky so blue!” or anything else that was positive or uplifting.  The thought I chose had to be non-traffic related, because if the thought was related to traffic in any way, my focus would still be on traffic! So that would not work.  I also decided that driving was the perfect time to listen to some recorded self-improvement seminars or some uplifting or relaxing music.

Let me tell you. It wasn’t long before I started seeing a marked difference in my driving experience. Slowly I started noticing that I found much less traffic in my commute to wherever I was going, at whatever time of the day.  And even when there was traffic, it seemed to flow faster in whichever lanes I chose.

I then conducted an experiment to see if the opposite was also true; meaning that if I focused on something that I did want to see manifested in my life, would I experience more of it? To my amazement, my experiment brought about similar results. This was to me a clear indicator that the notion that whatever we focus on we’ll tend to see more of was completely accurate.

Since then I made it a point not to give my precious attention to anything I did not want to see manifested in my experience, and focus instead on those things that I did want to see more of; and I’ve had wonderful results.

That day that I was sitting at the coffee shop and overheard that woman complaining about her money situations, my mind suddenly took me back to when I learned about this principle.  She seemed upset and worried, which I understood completely. I had no reason to believe that things weren’t as she described them, so her feelings about her situation were perfectly reasonable.  But it occurred to me that if she were to shift her focus or take on a new perspective on her situation, she would feel much better about it.

You may be wondering, “But what is the use of feeling better about it, if the situation itself remains the same? Aren’t you just lying to yourself or being unrealistic?”  But I would ask you these questions: “What is the use of complaining about it, if the situation itself remains the same? Don’t you feel worse rattling on about how bad your situation is? If there is something you can do about the situation, do it and make it a point to expect the best outcome.  But if there is nothing you can do about it, wouldn’t you rather spare yourself this unnecessary added stress and worry?”

It’s something to think about isn’t it? A simple shift in perspective or refocusing of your attention can turn your attitude 180 degrees and do wonders for you, your health, your beliefs, and your expectations, which ultimately shape your reality.

If I were standing in this woman’s shoes, knowing what I know today I would shift my attention and alter my story by saying this instead:

“I am so grateful that my needs are so anticipated, that the money I will need for whatever situation that comes up is provided to me in advance.  I don’t even have to worry about “what ifs” because I have received an abundance of evidence that my needs will always be provided for. I have plenty of examples to support this truth; for instance, my car broke down just the other day and it required a lot of major repairs, but you know what? Not 2 days prior to that, almost the exact amount of money I was going to need was provided to me via my bonus at work and I did not have to spend a single dime out of pocket. How wonderful is that!”

Don’t you feel better about this woman’s situation just by reading that? Don’t you hear and feel the attitude of gratitude in those words?  Wouldn’t you rather live your life in a state of gratitude, trust and reliance that everything will turn out all right?

I will leave you with a quote that my wife shared with me which encompasses this message perfectly:

If you don’t like something change it; if you can’t change it, change the way you think about it.
~ Mary Engelbreit

Do you have any thoughts on this that you would like to share with me?  Leave me a comment below.

I’d love to hear from you!

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The Secret To Stop Growing Old

Do you feel your age?  Or do you feel older than your age, much older perhaps? Do you feel tired and drained?  Whatever your age is I invite you to read on and discover what you are doing that could be causing you to grow old faster, and what you can do to stop it before it’s too late.

Take a short trip with me down memory lane and recall if you can a time in your childhood when you were truly happy.  A time when you didn’t have any cares or worries and you were just happy.  Try your best to bring back all the details of that memory. When was it? Where were you? What were you doing? Were you alone or were others there with you?

Now close your eyes and sit with this memory for a moment before reading on.

Did you enjoy it?  Did it make you feel good? Did you smile as you remembered? Did it make you feel happy? Did it make you feel young?

Now bring your awareness back to the present, and think about your life as it is now.  Do you feel old again? Did your smile fade away? What happened to that little child?  Does he/she still come out to play, carefree and full of energy, or has he/she grown scared of the world and taken refuge in a dark corner within the older you?  When was the last time you played and laughed like that child?  When was the last time you channeled your inner child, and truly allowed him or her to express him or herself?

Has it been long?  If so, I invite you to ask yourself the reason behind that.  Are you scared that that child will be hurt?  Have you become so overprotective of your inner child that you, yourself, are preventing him/her from coming out to play?

Or do you feel like you are so overwhelmed with “grown up responsibilities” that you have no time to play? It’s easy to postpone or do away with playing when we become so absorbed with our everyday lives.  After all, who has time to play when there are bills to be paid, mouths to be fed, responsibilities to be fulfilled…?

Or is it, perhaps, that you believe that adults are supposed to behave like adults, and not like immature little children?  Do you frown when you see grownups acting silly or just “having too much fun”? Or… are you secretly wishing that you could do the same?

I invite you to really ponder these questions and come up with some truthful answers, because your answers will reveal to you why it is that you feel as old as you feel.  At one point or another we all experienced that carefree child spirit.  We played pretend and absorbed ourselves in imaginary worlds that were filled with fantasy.  We built sand castles, we erected fortresses, we constructed spaceships and race cars, we fought pirates (or perhaps we were pirates); we engrossed ourselves in these activities so much that we lost track of time and space.  Those were good ol’ times weren’t they?

But at some point, somewhere down the line we were introduced to work and responsibility. We were told to stop dreaming and focus on reality. We were instructed, whether with words or by example, to start taking life more seriously, because after all, we weren’t children anymore.

Somehow we got the idea that growing up meant that we had to smile less and stress more; that we had to stop playing and focus all our energy on working; that we had to dream less and do more.

But is that really true?  Must we really bury that free-spirited child in order to live a fulfilling life? Wherever did we get that idea?  It is true that as we grow up, get jobs, get married, have children, our responsibilities increase and our free time decreases.  But where did we get the idea that we had to carry out our responsibilities without having any fun in the process? That we had to frown, be stressed, or be “serious” in order to show that we are mature grownups?  All of this has nothing to do with maturity.  Maturity is demonstrated by taking care of our responsibilities, not by how stressed or serious we are or look when we take care of them.

I believe that it is possible for us to let that inner child out to play again.  Not only is it possible, it is a must if we are to enjoy life to the fullest.  I know all of us are busier than we’d like and it’s difficult to find the time to involve ourselves in fun activities.  But this is precisely why we must make it a point to let our inner child come out to play as often as we can while we carry on with our grown up responsibilities.  Understand that I’m not talking about acting like a child while you’re in that important office meeting or taking that exam.  I’m talking about feeling like a child as often as you can, no matter what you’re doing. I’m talking about letting go of those inhibitions and letting that fun side of you really shine through.

You know the side I’m talking about. You have it. We all do.  But maybe we’re afraid that people will laugh at us or frown at us if we show it.  You know what?  Let them.  Let everyone else frown and think what they want.  Show them that it’s perfectly okay to feel young, to not take life so seriously, to be happy.

How do you go about it?

Next time you are around children pay attention to them.  See how uninhibited they are.  See how little they care about what the other children think.  See how happy they are as a result of it.  Then make it a point to be just like them.  Here are 10 suggestions to help you coax your inner child out of his or her hiding place:

  1. Next time you’re moving from one place to another, whether it’s going from one room to another in your house, or from one isle to the next in the supermarket, skip instead of walking.
  2. Next time you take out the trash pretend there is a hopscotch drawing on the floor and hop, hop, hop your way to the dumpster.
  3. Buy a coloring book and crayons or coloring pencils, or a sketch pad and sketching pencils and spend 5-10 minutes coloring or drawing while you wait for your laundry to be done.
  4. Surprise your child or spouse by tickling the heck out of them. Then dare them to do the same to you and run!
  5. When stepping out of the shower make funny faces or talk in funny voices in front of the mirror.
  6. Next time you pick up your kids from school ask them what they did in school that day. When they tell you what they did, say, “Sounds boring compared to what I did.” Then make up a fantasy about going to the moon, or fighting monsters, or having a sea adventure.
  7. Dance in place as you cook, do the laundry, or make a deposit at the ATM.
  8. Buy a bubble set and have fun making and popping bubbles at the park while you watch your children play.
  9. Put stickers or post-it notes on your face while doing paperwork or paying bills.
  10. Next time you’re cooking dinner wear a bowl on your head and pretend it’s a chef’s hat, then narrate what you’re cooking as if you were doing a cooking show.

Give these suggestions a try, or come up with your own! There are hundreds of ways to channel your inner child and have fun while taking care of your adult responsibilities.  Whatever you do, give yourself permission to be free, and smile as you’re doing it.  Not only will you be less stressed and have more fun, you’ll be stopping or even reversing the aging process.

This post was inspired by my lovely wife whose inner child is always inviting my inner child out to play, and who reminds me every day that, no matter how hectic our lives are, there is always time for laughter.

We don't stop playing because we grow old...  We grow old because we stop playing.

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Why Having A Magic Lamp Wouldn’t Make You Happy

magic lamp, wishes, dreams, Aladdin, dreams, goals

Imagine for a moment that you found Aladddin’s lamp. I know. Humor me. Imagine that one day you’re taking a relaxing stroll around your neighborhood and you suddenly spot something shiny hiding in the bushes.  At first you ignore it and dismiss it as something unimportant (perhaps an empty soda can?).

You continue stroll but a few moments later you can’t shake the feeling that you were meant to see that, whatever it was.  What if it was something important?  “I better make sure,” you think.  So you walk back to retrieve the shiny object and to your surprise you find yourself staring at what appears to be a magic lamp.  Could it be?  “Yeah, right.” You let out a sarcastic chuckle and laugh at yourself for thinking such a ridiculous thing. “Still… what if it is?”  You take an inconspicuous look around to make sure no one is looking, and carefully rub the sides of the lamp.

As soon as you do that, smoke starts oozing from the lamp and suddenly, out comes a genie who, to your amazement, utters those amazing words you’ve been waiting to hear all your life, “Your wish is my command.” He then tells you that he’s there to grant you all of your heart’s desires.  Not just 3 wishes, but all of them.

Now think for a moment. What would you ask for?  You’d probably ask for all the major things right away. Love, health, money, success, vacations to exotic locations, mansions, more money, more love, etc. etc. etc.  You would basically ask for all the things that you believe would make your life easy, happy, pain-free, and struggle-free.  You’d go wild, testing the waters to see if you would really be able to get all you want.

You’d then realize that you can ask not only for you but for everyone else around you.  So you’d become the biggest philanthropist, sharing your good fortune with everyone around you.  At some point, however, you’d start running out of things to ask for.  You’ve had all the vacations you could think of, helped everyone in the world (work with me here), have more money than you know what to do with, all the success and love you can imagine, all coming instantly to you without any amount of effort or struggle on your part.

How long could you live like this? Honestly. How long? A year? Ten years? Twenty?  How long would it be before you were bored out of your mind and were left feeling depressed and worthless?  How long would your mind be able to live without a challenge or a worthy goal?  How long before you felt like you were no better than an inanimate object that adds no value to anything?

Sooner or later you’d start looking for things to do, challenges to face, goals to pursue, problems to solve.  But you wouldn’t ask the genie to bring these to you, you’d want to go out and find them yourself.  We would all want to do this.  And do you know why?  Because that’s our nature.  We think that we want life to be a breeze; we think that we’d just as soon be without the worries, the pain, the suffering, the sorrow, the struggle.  From our vintage point, we’d trade our lives for the imaginary scenario I described above in a heartbeat. But how quickly we would tire of it.  We’d soon find out that a life like that is not much fun.  You probably know by now that the things we value the most are those that required some involvement or contribution from us, no matter how small; and the higher our contribution, the greater its value to us.

There is a lesson in all of this.  I’m not saying that life has to be difficult in order for it to be fun, exciting, exhilarating or rewarding.  What I’m saying is that life is not supposed to be pain or struggle free.  I’m saying that the pain, the struggle, the challenges and all the emotions associated with these things, the good and the bad, are what make the human life such a magnificent experience.

The true joy of living does not stem from never experiencing difficulties or struggles, but from overcoming them.  So don’t get all bummed out about how life may be right now.  It won’t stay that way forever.  In spite of what it seems like at times, there is perfect balance and order in the universe. The seemingly negative experiences we encounter are meant to help us become better versions of ourselves. Embrace the challenge and push forward with confidence.

Pain may be inevitable, but suffering is optional.

Decide today that you will suffer no more.  Decide today that you don’t need to wait to find Aladdin’s lamp to be happy.  Decide today that no matter what situations you encounter in life, you will make it your dominant intent to look for the good in them, for there is good to be found if we only look hard enough.  Decide today that you will take on every day with unshakable confidence, and the determination to feel good, to spread love, to experience joy in everything you do. Decide today that you will go after your goals and your dreams, and that you will enjoy and appreciate the ride as much as, if not more than, getting there.  Decide today to share your gifts with the world, which no one but you can share.  Decide today to leave your mark in this world.

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Remember This The Next Time You Feel Like You’ve Lost Your Way In Life

A few days ago I was driving to a store to which I had never been before located in a different city.  I wasn’t very familiar with the area where it was located so I plugged the address into my GPS, turned up the speaker volume and prepared to be navigated to my destination.

I was following directions as they were spoken to me and driving right along when I went into one of those autopilot moments and didn’t realize that my turn was coming up in less than 100 feet.

Unfortunately I was driving in the middle lane and there were cars on the lane next to me so there was no way I was going to be able to make my turn.  I had no choice but to continue driving straight.  Needless to say, I was frustrated.

I started beating on myself for getting distracted.  I should have been paying attention to the directions, what was I thinking?  If only I had been paying attention this would not have happened.  Shoulda, coulda, woulda.

In the meantime, my GPS went about its job and in a few seconds I heard it say, “Re-routing;” a few seconds later it said in its usual calm and matter-of-fact tone, “In 500 feet make a legal u-turn”.

I finally made it to my destination with no further incident (I was focused on the directions this time), but on my way back I had time to think about what had transpired earlier.  It occurred to me that while I was sitting in my car frustrated and beating on myself for not paying attention to the directions, my GPS simply re-calculated the route and continued guiding me towards my destination.

I then started thinking of how often this happens to us in everyday life, and how often we get distracted and stop listening to our internal GPS.  We all have one, you know. And if we know how to use it, it can help us get to our destination using the shortest route possible.  It can re-route us if we missed our turn or had to take a detour for whatever reason, and it can set us back on course.

But like an electronic GPS, we must make use of it in order for it to work.  Here are a few suggestions I thought of on how we can make the best use of our internal GPS.  I will compare each suggestion to an electronic GPS for illustration purposes:

We must use it
I’m sure you would agree that it would make no sense whatsoever to have a GPS in the car but not turn it on and not plug in the address, but expect it to direct us to our destination.  That would be illogical, wouldn’t it?  We know that in order for the electronic GPS to guide us to where we want to go we must  turn it on and plug in the address of our destination.

So it is with our internal GPS.  We must decide what we want to accomplish in life, what goals we want to achieve, what dreams we want to fulfill, and set them as our destination by thinking about them often and visualizing the end result, so that they become plugged into our internal GPS.

We must be clear
What would happen if instead of plugging in an exact address into our electronic GPS we entered a “general location?”  The GPS would still do its job of guiding us towards the general location, but it would not know how to get us to the exact place where we want to go, because it has no clarity.

Similarly, when we are unclear about where we want to go with our lives, or what specific goals we want to accomplish, our internal GPS will fail to guide us towards them.  It is not enough to have “a general idea” of where we want to go.  We must be clear about our goals so that our internal GPS can do its job of guiding us directly to them and not just in their general direction.

We must listen to it
The electronic GPS will do its job of guiding us towards our destination following the shortest route.  But this will not do us any good if we decide to do whatever we want to do anyways.  If the GPS says to turn right but instead we turn left, we may never get to our destination.  Or we may get there eventually, but it will take us longer.  For as long as the address is plugged in and the GPS is on, it will continue to try to re-route us to get us back on course using the shortest route, but if we don’t pay any attention to it and do what it’s telling us to do, it won’t do us any good.

Our internal GPS works the same way.  It is always on, but the trouble is we are not always listening to it.  We become distracted by our daily chores, or we just decide to do the opposite of what our internal GPS is telling us.  This will only cause unnecessary delays or keep us from reaching our goals altogether.

We must not panic
Imagine that as we are driving to our destination we missed our turn like I did that day, and since we missed our turn we blame and curse the GPS, and turn it off (yeah, that’ll teach it!).  I’m sure we can all agree that this is not the right thing to do.  We must remember that our GPS will kick right in and re-route us to get us back on course, so there is no need to panic.

Similarly, if we end up getting off course from our goals for whatever reason we must not blame our internal GPS and we must certainly not stop listening to it!  We must remember that it has the ability to re-route us and get back on track towards our goals.  That is the time to shut off all distractions and tune in to our internal GPS, paying close attention to it so that we can hear the “re-routing” cue.

Later on I will be talking more about our internal GPS, what it is and how we can use it, but for now see if you agree with my conclusion the next time you use your electronic one, and let me know what you think!

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How Our Thoughts Affect Our Reality

When I began my self-improvement journey several years ago I came across a book that inspired me and gave me much needed clarity about how to change my life for the better.  In my opinion this book is a must-have for anyone looking to understand how our thoughts affect our world and shape our reality.  It is written in plain English without the jargon commonly associated with the study of the mind, so it’s easy enough for anyone to understand.

I still revisit this book now and then because from time to time I need a reminder of how important it is to be mindful of what we entertain in our minds.   The book is a very short read, and it can be found in audio form as well.  The audio version of the book is less than an hour long, so I can easily listen to the entire recording in a day just driving to and from work.

The book I’m referring to is “The Strangest Secret” by Earl Nightingale.  There is great information in the entire book but there is one segment in particular that always grabs my attention for its truthfulness and simplicity.  The segment begins by stating this:

Let me tell you something which if you really understand it, will alter your life immediately…Here’s the key to success and the key to failure: We become what we think about.

The author then proceeds to explain exactly how this works, and gives the analogy of a situation that parallels the human mind using a farmer and fertile soil.  In his example, Earl asks us imagine that a farmer has a piece of fertile land in which he plants a seed of corn and a seed of poison.  The land, being impartial to what is being planted, will invariably return to the farmer exactly the “fruits” of what he has planted, a plant of corn and a plant of poison. He compares this fertile land to the human mind and the seeds to our thoughts because the mind – like the land – does not care what you plant in it; it will return what you plant, but it doesn’t care what you plant.

While it’s true that the mind is far more complex and mysterious than the land, the principle is the same.  Whether we plant thoughts (seeds) of success (corn) or thoughts (seeds) of failure (poison) the mind (land) will return to us exactly what we plant in it in the form of our experiences in all areas our lives such as work, family, love, finances, etc.

For me this was a wake-up call.  If this was true (and I had no reason to believe that it wasn’t) it meant that I needed to become aware of my thoughts throughout the day.  I needed to make sure that whatever thoughts I was entertaining were seeds that would produce the type of experiences I wanted to have in my life.

This proved to be easier said than done.  It was easy at the beginning of the day because I would start off with a clean slate and a positive attitude, but as I gradually got busy and distracted with my daily activities, I found myself repeating old thought patterns that were sure to produce unwanted results if left unattended.

At first I would get bummed up about it, because I thought that no matter how hard I tried I somehow managed to end up back at square one.  This would only cause me to feel more like a failure and, you guessed it, negative tapes to start playing again.

But I later learned that it is impossible to watch what we are thinking 24 hours a day (or however many hours we spend awake), so getting temporarily distracted was perfectly normal.  In fact, a recent study revealed that, astonishingly, humans are on autopilot nearly half of their waking hours!

Our mind is designed to jump on autopilot whenever possible in order to automate mundane tasks.  You do something long enough and it eventually becomes a habit, making it a task that you no longer have to think about.  If you’ve ever driven from one place to another and had no recollection of how you got there, you know exactly what I’m talking about.  I can certainly relate to that.  There were times when I suddenly realized I had arrived, and thanked God I was alive and prayed that I hadn’t committed any violations while driving.  Yikes!

Whenever I think of this I realize what a wonderful design the mind is.  I’m speechless when I think of all the intricate wiring and programs that are running to ensure that we follow all the traffic laws and make critical decisions almost unconsciously!  Of course this works to our advantage when our mind is engaged in something positive or uplifting, but it can just as well work against us when it’s engaged in something negative or undesirable.

But the good news is that we can change our thought habits just like we change any other habit: with repetition and persistence.  How do we know this?  Because that’s how our negative or pessimistic thinking became so natural to begin with.  It all started with thoughts that we entertained, then entertained some more, then recalled and entertained again, until now those thoughts just seem to naturally come to us on their own, and when we least expect it we find ourselves on a train to Looserville.

Like everything else, making a change in thought patterns takes practice and persistence, but it all begins with awareness.  If you’ve determined that you want to change the thought seeds that you’re planting in your mind, make it a point to become more aware of your thoughts throughout the day; whenever you catch yourself thinking less than favorable thoughts, don’t beat yourself up for it.  Instead, be glad that you caught yourself and reach for a better thought.

But if you are feeling a strong negative emotion associated with the thoughts you’re thinking, remember our river analogy from a previous post and make the jump gradually so that you don’t end up in the river.  With practice and persistence you’ll soon turn your new thought patters into a habit, and the less than desirable thoughts will fade away.

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The Stigma Associated With Sacrifice

Have you ever met a person who says “I’ve sacrificed xyz for xyz” with a smile on their face?  I haven’t.  I can usually tell by the tone of their voice or the look on their face that the feeling associated with their sacrifice is not a positive one, and I’m beginning to think it has something to do with the stigma associated with the word itself.

The dictionary defines sacrifice as:

An act of giving up something valued for the sake of something else regarded as more important or worthy.

That makes sense to me.  But why then do we have this somewhat negative emotion associated with it?  Shouldn’t the emotion elicited from the true recognition of the worthier cause be joy or something similar?

I thought about this, and realized that generally when I say that I’m making a sacrifice I may feel a somewhat negative emotion because I may be focused on what I’m losing or giving up rather than on the worthier cause; I may be, therefore, feeling the loss or absence of what I’m giving up instead of the joy of why I’m giving it up.

The stigma generally associated with sacrifice is one of loss, suffering, or going without. This in itself has the potential to create feelings of resentment or self-glorification.  I may consider myself a nobler person because I’ve made sacrifices.  Therefore, you must look upon me as a nobler person, too, and praise me for my ability to make such a sacrifice. On the other hand, if I‘m focused on my loss, and the worthier cause for which I gave up something ends up going south, the feeling of loss may turn to resentment.  “I sacrificed [fill in the blank] for this? What a waste!”

I’m sure not everyone views sacrifices this way, but my experience has been that when people (including me) speak of sacrifices, they generally do so with an almost sarcastic tone.   I’ve decided that I would like to change that about myself.  I would like to change my perspective so that when I sacrifice something for the sake of a worthier cause, I am so intently focused on the worthier cause itself that whatever it is that I’m giving up no longer even matters.

When parents work in order to earn money to support their family, aren’t they sacrificing something?  They certainly are. They are sacrificing family time, or fun time, or “me” time.  Yet we normally don’t call that a sacrifice.  Even parents themselves don’t call it a sacrifice.  Why? Because the focus is not on what they are giving up but on the worthier cause, taking care of their families.  No body even thinks of the time and energy that is being expended or given, because the focus is not on the loss, but on the gain that results from the loss.

These are the types of sacrifices that I’d like to make.  To others it may seem like I’m making a sacrifice, but to me it would simply feel like the most natural thing to do.  I want to get to the point where, having acknowledged and assimilated the worthier cause, the absence of what is being offered simply no longer matters.

How will I go about making this change?  I don’t know yet, but while I figure it out I’ll start by making it a point to change my perspective.  Perhaps that is all that is needed!

What does sacrifice mean to you?  What feelings have you experienced as a result of the sacrifices you’ve made?

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Breathe and Realize That All Is Well…

beach_sunset3

On a gorgeous Saturday evening I was sitting with my wife outside a beach front coffee shop watching in awe as the sun set behind the calm, blue ocean.  A moment prior to that, we had been engrossed in a lively conversation about our plans, our goals and our future.

We talked about needing to move to a bigger house, needing to earn more money, needing to expand her business; but somehow as soon as the sun began to set, our lively conversation was replaced by a contemplative silence.

Everything around me faded away; the sounds, the street, the cars, the people, the buildings, even the beach and the sun disappeared and I was left with nothing but emotions.  I was instantly submerged into a deep appreciation for the countless blessings that I have in my life.

I realized that at that very moment I was truly happy.  At that very moment there was nothing else that I wanted or needed in order to experience the emotions that I believed a bigger house, more money, or more success could bring me.

I felt peace, love, appreciation, gratitude, exhilaration and immense joy.  I felt as if I was in a different realm, finally being able to see and understand the reality of things.  I did not want to come out from that trance. I wanted to remain there, experiencing this indescribable beauty.

A few moments later the hustle and bustle of the street began to gain volume, and I became aware once again of my surroundings.  I immediately turned to my wife and shared my experience with her; I expressed my longing for that feeling to come back, and my disappointment that it had been short lived.  Could I bring it back? It felt like it was gone forever.

But then I realized that nothing seemingly out of the ordinary had happened to take me there.  While it was true that I had entered this peaceful state while appreciating the gorgeous sunset at the beach, it wasn’t the sunset itself that took me there. I had certainly seen many sunsets at the beach before.  Moreover, if the sunset itself had been the cause, everyone experiencing it would have been likewise hypnotized.

Then it hit me. It was my contemplation and appreciation of the sunset that got me into that state. And this…this was something I could certainly repeat. A sunset was not the only beautiful or awe-inspiring thing around me.

There are thousands, even millions of such things around me every single day. The sound of a bird’s chirping in the morning, the butterfly that lands on a rose, the flowers that grow outside my house, the millions of stars in the sky, the smile on a friend’s face, the look in my wife’s eyes, my child’s voice calling me daddy.  All of these and countless more are things that could help me get to that state of pure bliss, if I only decide to contemplate and appreciate them.

Since that day, it has been my intention to re-live that experience at every chance I get.  It’s no small task because it requires focus, and one can easily get distracted by the endless pile of things to do.  But this is why I found it’s important to at least once a day take a break and breathe slowly for a few minutes, uninterrupted, and allow myself to enter into a state of contemplation and gratitude.

I invite you to do so now, as you finish reading this post.  Take a deep breath in and relax your body as you exhale. Close your eyes and think about something that elicits feelings of love, peace or gratitude. Bask in those feelings for a few minutes or for as long as you can, and let them permeate every cell in your body.  Smile as you do so, and know that at this very moment, all-is-well.

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