Thursday, December 30, 2010

Because you exist, so does life, so does value, so does meaning. Happy New Year!

Each time you say something. It’s a risk. Someone could shoot it down. Each time you stand up for what you believe in. It’s a risk. Someone could attack your deeply held belief. Each time you dream, wish, hope. It’s a risk. You could fail. Each time you open your heart. It’s a risk. You could get hurt. Each time you create and share what you’ve created. It’s a risk. The world could deride you, ignore you, crush you.

It takes courage. Just to exist. Just to get up every morning and then be yourself that day. Be your true, authentic self. It take courage to look the world in the eye when you know that the world will see your sorrows, see your pain, see your weaknesses, see your fears. And then it takes something more than courage to sustain that eye contact, state your intent and then mould the world through your inner fire, through your living breath, through your indomitable will into the shape you want to give it. It takes faith. Faith in yourself, in your vision, in your integrity, in your choices.

It takes hope. To go on living from day to day. Where every day you learn. Where every day you’re humbled by how much more there is still to learn. It takes courage to be willing to learn. Because if you want to learn, you have to admit there is something you don’t know. Because to learn you need to be humble. And then when you’ve learned, you find you need more courage to break out of your old shell, to come out of your safe place, to stand center stage, with the spot light shining on you, with the world watching…will you soar or will you fall? If you fail, you have to be strong to survive that failure. If you succeed, you have to be strong to sustain that success.

If you just drew a breath, you’re already there. Because that breath will make you live longer, because just by breathing you’re choosing to live. And it takes tremendous courage, my friend, to live. To live in a world where no one is guaranteed love or happiness or security. What sustain us? I’m not curious about beings from another planet; beings from my own planet awe me with their tremendous courage, with their incredible resilience, with their never-ending faith. Their faith in themselves and in life, that, yes, this is indeed a life worth living. So where is all this faith and courage coming from? From your core. From the deepest part of you where resides the true meaning of your being, from the part of you touched by divinity, from the part of you fashioned by life’s love for itself. From a part of you that is sacred.

In about twenty-four hours from now, our calendars will change, heralding a new year. Such an arbitrary measure of time. But so psychologically potent. Stepping into a new tomorrow. Older, wiser, trailing a slew of mistakes, trailing a blaze of glory. So what do I wish you on the eve of the new year? I could wish you success, peace, happiness, love. And, yes, I do wish you those. But my biggest wish for you this coming year is that you find your core. That you discover your inherent value and having found it, you nurture it, and let it sustain you.

Galaxies come into being and pass away into oblivion. The world spins on its axis and it will keep spinning after I am gone, after you are gone. But we existed you and I, we were here, we saw, we lived, we loved, we cried. And while I’m just an idea in your head and you in mine, there were moments when we intermingled our essences, when we came together in this vast span of space and time, performed our parts, then took our bows before we left the stage. We added meaning to the moments we lived, whether we lived those moments alone or with someone else.

Because you exist, so does life, so does value, so does meaning. Happy New Year! 

110 Tips to Create an Amazing New Year

by Tess

“Resolutions are like teenage hearts: they get broken an awful lot.” –Mehmet Oz 
The concept that our happiness lies within is no secret. Yet as we begin the New Year we create goals that are externally focused. We promise ourselves we’ll lose weight, get out of debt, stop smoking, stop drinking or increase our income. 

Statistics say by February 90% of our resolutions will be broken. Albert Einstein said, “Insanity is doing the same thing over and over and expecting different results.” 
I encourage you to "be" different this year. 

Instead of creating resolutions, make internal changes by incorporating these wise suggestions into your life.  

1. See the good in everyone.
2. Show kindness.
3. Encourage laughter.
4. Practice tenderness.
5. Focus on the positive.
6. Reflect joy.
7. Seek help.
8. Forgive yourself.
9. Forgive everyone.
10. Learn to ask and receive.
11. Inspire others.
12. Believe good things are happening.
13. Shift your perception.
14. Praise others.
15. Surrender struggle.
16. Walk in faith.
17. Manifest courage.
18. Seek solutions.
19. See oneness.
20. Share abundantly.
21. Sit in silence.
22. Ask for guidance.
23. Be prolific.
24. Speak your truth.
25. Connect with nature.
26. Receive help.
27. Be patient.
28. Live and let live.
29. Believe the best.
30. Live without approval.
31. Uplift others.
32. Extend love.
33. Teach by example.
34. Think peacefully.
35. Become truly helpful.
36. Drop your stories.
37. Appreciate differences.
38. Show up prepared.
39. Be present.
40. Hold a vision.
41. Do your best.
42. Believe the best.
43. Walk in faith.
44. Bless others.
45. Give and receive love.
46. Know you matter.
47. Practice what you believe.
48. Choose happiness.
49. Celebrate the ordinary.
50. Welcome change, growth and healing.
51. Believe anything is possible.
52. Love everyone.
53. Connect from your heart.
54. Act intuitively.
55. Embrace each day.
56. Trust in Divine Order.
57. Calmly move through change.
58. Take 100% responsibility.
59. Surrender judgment.
60. Extend joy.
61. Give infinite thanks.
62. Reach out to others.
63. Give yourself credit.
64. Simplify your life.
65. Want what you have.
66. Search within for answers.
67. Open your mind.
68. Believe, ask, receive.
69. Choose uplifting thoughts.
70. Help others succeed.
71. Express your love often.
72. Be a beacon of light.
73. Ask for guidance.
74. Stay centered.
75. Cultivate love.
76. Trust the process.
77. Live guilt-free.
78. Positively acknowledge others.
79. Dwell in possibility.
80. Claim your abundance.
81. Give what you want to receive.
82. Accept and love yourself.
83. Develop new habits.
84. Practice non-attachment.
85. Tap into creativity.
86. Expand your consciousness.
87. Lighten up.
88. Give everyone a break.
89. Quiet your mind.
90. Live spontaneously.
91. Imagine the best outcome.
92. Be a channel for peace.
93. Follow your intuition.
94. Live effortlessly.
95. Allow rather than control.
96. Dare to risk.
97. Practice compassion.
98. Fear not.
99. Choose to heal.
100. Practice non-attachment.
101. Give others a break.
102. Step forward in faith.
103. Listen more, talk less.
104. Recognize what goes right.
105. Pray for world peace.
106. Withhold nothing.
107. Savor life.
108. Live with an unrelenting, upbeat attitude.
109. Become open to amazing people, places and things.
110. Allow the future will take care of itself. 
Relish and revel in the results.
Happy New Year,
Tess xo
What will be different for you in 2011?

Happy Holidays

“Tis the season to be jolly”—but isn’t that always easier said than done? While the holidays of course bring us many joys—family reunions, good food, thoughtful gifts—they also entail an incredible amount of stress: 
Those family reunions can dredge up old family conflicts, the good food often requires lots of careful preparation, and holiday shopping can be a nightmare. So how can we stay grounded and present and truly let ourselves feel the holiday spirit? 

Rhienna Cutler
Though the next gadget or experience may bring fleeting pleasure, research shows that genuine happiness is about how we feel inside. To really enjoy the holidays, try these simple, research-based practices that will help keep you in a healthy state of mind.

1. Set your intention to enjoy the holidays as much as you can. By making the conscious decision to open yourself to true well-being and happiness, you’ll be more likely not to miss those uplifting moments and even begin to have your radar out for them. Psychiatrist Dan Siegel argues that by setting your intention, you “prime” your brain to be ready for positive experiences. And this can spur a positive cycle of happiness: Research by psychologist Barbara Fredrickson shows that when we allow ourselves to feel positive emotions, we become more open and sensitive to future positive experiences, bringing us even more of those good feelings down the line.

2. Savor any moments of well-being when they’re here. Don’t just know that you’re feeling good. Let your awareness savor how the experience registers in your body and mind for 15 or 30 seconds. (Neuropsychologist Rick Hanson calls this “taking in the good.”) Research by Fred Bryant, a professor of psychology at Loyola University, has found that savoring positive experiences strengthens our positive response to them. And neuroscience studies have shown that the longer we hold an emotionally stimulating experience in our awareness, the more neural connections form in our brains to strengthen the trace of that experience in our memory. 

3. Take a break, regain your focus. If you’re feeling overwhelmed by everything on your To Do list, remember to take a few breaths. Take a break and enjoy a cup of tea or a hot bath. Try some yoga or exercise. Or get out of the doing mode for a little while and let yourself just relax. It can be challenging to disengage from the clutch of activity and connect with the moment in a restful way. But research suggests that it’s worth the effort to slow down and regain your focus: A recent study out of Harvard found that a wandering mind—typical in our multitasking culture—is a strong cause of unhappiness.  

4. Practice gratitude. Don’t take your good fortune for granted. Consciously reflect on all the blessings in your life each day. Express your appreciation directly to loved ones and friends when you’re with them. You and they will both feel the joy of loving connection. In a study by Martin Seligman, a leader in the field of positive psychology, people who considered themselves severely depressed were asked to write down three good things that happened each day for 15 days. At the end of the experiment, 94 percent of these subjects had a decrease in depression and 92 percent said their happiness increased. A study published earlier this year in the journal Psychological Science found that people who expressed gratitude to others felt significantly closer to those people afterward.

5. Practice generosity. Neuroscience research shows that performing an altruistic act lights up the same pleasure centers in the brain as food and sex! Whenever you feel the impulse to be generous, act on it. As you do, notice the expansive feelings in your body and mind. Without expecting anything in return, notice how good it feels inside when you see someone happy because of your sincere generosity. It can be as simple and profound as being fully present for a friend, sharing the gift of your caring and attention. Or when you open the door for someone, consider the positive impulse behind that act. Anytime you do something that contributes to the well-being of another, let yourself feel the joy of generosity. And be sure to include yourself in your generosity practice.

6. Play and have fun. Remember what it was like when you were a kid during the holidays? Let yourself experience that again. Be around kids if you can. Tune into and take delight in their enthusiasm. Singing or dancing are excellent ways to get out of your head and open to joy. As David Elkind, author of The Power of Play, writes, “Decades of research has shown that play is crucial to physical, intellectual, and social emotional development at all ages.”

Finally, remember that happiness is contagious: Research shows that happiness can spread like a virus across three degrees of separation; if you’re happy, you increase the odds that your close friends and family will be happy, too. So the more you can stay connected to your own happiness, the more you help others get in touch with their own well-being. We all benefit when you can awaken the joy within you. Happy Holidays! 

Holiday shopping can be terrifying, yes. But research suggests it’s worth it: New studies attest to the benefits of giving—not just for the recipients but for the givers’ health and happiness, and for the strength of entire communities. 

Roger Jegg
Of course, you don’t have to shop to reap the benefits of giving. Research suggests the same benefits come from donating to charities or volunteering your time, like at a soup kitchen or a homeless shelter. Here are some of the ways that giving is good for you and your community.

1. Giving makes us feel happy. A 2008 study by Harvard Business School professor Michael Norton and colleagues found that giving money to someone else lifted participants’ happiness more that spending it on themselves (despite participants’ prediction that spending on themselves would make them happier). Happiness expert Sonja Lyubomirsky, a professor of psychology at the University of California, Riverside, saw similar results when she asked people to perform five acts of kindness each week for six weeks.
These good feelings are reflected in our biology. In a 2006 study, Jorge Moll and colleagues at the National Institutes of Health found that when people give to charities, it activates regions of the brain associated with pleasure, social connection, and trust, creating a “warm glow” effect. Scientists also believe that altruistic behavior releases endorphins in the brain, producing the positive feeling known as the “helper’s high.” 

2. Giving is good for our health. A wide range of research has linked different forms of generosity to better health, even among the sick and elderly. In his book Why Good Things Happen to Good People, Stephen Post, a professor of preventative medicine at Stony Brook University, reports that giving to others has been shown to increase health benefits in people with chronic illness, including HIV and multiple sclerosis.
A 1999 study led by Doug Oman of the University of California, Berkeley, found that elderly people who volunteered for two or more organizations were 44 percent less likely to die over a five-year period than were non-volunteers, even after controlling for their age, exercise habits, general health, and negative health habits like smoking. Stephanie Brown of the University of Michigan saw similar results in a 2003 study on elderly couples. She and her colleagues found that those individuals who provided practical help to friends, relatives, or neighbors, or gave emotional support to their spouses, had a lower risk of dying over a five-year period than those who didn’t. Interestingly, receiving help wasn’t linked to a reduced death risk.

Researchers suggest that one reason giving may improve physical health and longevity is that it helps decrease stress, which is associated with a variety of health problems. In a 2006 study by Rachel Piferi of Johns Hopkins University and Kathleen Lawler of the University of Tennessee, people who provided social support to others had lower blood pressure than participants who didn’t, suggesting a direct physiological benefit to those who give of themselves.

3. Giving promotes cooperation and social connection. When you give, you’re more likely to get back: Several studies, including work by sociologists Brent Simpson and Robb Willer, have suggested that when you give to others, your generosity is likely to be rewarded by others down the line—sometimes by the person you gave to, sometimes by someone else.

These exchanges promote a sense of trust and cooperation that strengthens our ties to others—and research has shown that having positive social interactions is central to good mental and physical health. As researcher John Cacioppo writes in his book Loneliness: Human Nature and the Need for Social Connection, “The more extensive the reciprocal altruism born of social connection . . . the greater the advance toward health, wealth, and happiness.”

What’s more, when we give to others, we don’t only make them feel closer to us; we also feel closer to them. “Being kind and generous leads you to perceive others more positively and more charitably,” writes Lyubomirsky in her book The How of Happiness, and this “fosters a heightened sense of interdependence and cooperation in your social community.”

4. Giving evokes gratitude. Whether you’re on the giving or receiving end of a gift, that gift can elicit feelings of gratitude—it can be a way of expressing gratitude or instilling gratitude in the recipient. And research has found that gratitude is integral to happiness, health, and social bonds. 

Robert Emmons and Michael McCullough, co-directors of the Research Project on Gratitude and Thankfulness, found that teaching college students to “count their blessings” and cultivate gratitude caused them to exercise more, be more optimistic, and feel better about their lives overall. A recent study led by Nathaniel Lambert at Florida State University found that expressing gratitude to a close friend or romantic partner strengthens our sense of connection to that person.

Barbara Fredrickson, a pioneering happiness researcher, suggests that cultivating gratitude in everyday life is one of the keys to increasing personal happiness. “When you express your gratitude in words or actions, you not only boost your own positivity but [other people’s] as well,” she writes in her book Positivity. “And in the process you reinforce their kindness and strengthen your bond to one another.”

5. Giving is contagious. When we give, we don’t only help the immediate recipient of our gift. We also spur a ripple effect of generosity through our community.

A study by James Fowler of the University of California, San Diego, and Nicholas Christakis of Harvard, published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Science, shows that when one person behaves generously, it inspires observers to behave generously later, toward different people. In fact, the researchers found that altruism could spread by three degrees—from person to person to person to person. “As a result,” they write, “each person in a network can influence dozens or even hundreds of people, some of whom he or she does not know and has not met.”

Giving has also been linked to the release of oxytocin, a hormone (also released during sex and breast feeding) that induces feelings of warmth, euphoria, and connection to others. In laboratory studies, Paul Zak, the director of the Center for Neuroeconomics Studies at Claremont Graduate University, has found that a dose of oxytocin will cause people to give more generously and to feel more empathy towards others, with “symptoms” lasting up to two hours. And those people on an “oxytocin high” can potentially jumpstart a “virtuous circle, where one person’s generous behavior triggers another’s,” says Zak

So whether you buy gifts, volunteer your time, or donate money to charity this holiday season, your giving is much more than just a year-end chore. It may help you build stronger social connections and even jumpstart a cascade of generosity through your community. And don’t be surprised if you find yourself benefiting from a big dose of happiness in the process. 

Friday, December 24, 2010

Honoring All Experiences

Honoring the experiences we have in our lives is an invaluable way to communicate with life, our greatest teacher.

Honoring the experiences we have in our lives is an invaluable way to communicate with life, our greatest teacher. We do this when we take time at night to say what we are thankful for about our day and also when we write in a journal. Both of these acts involve consciously acknowledging the events of our lives so that they deepen our relationship to our experiences. This is important because it brings us into closer connection with life, and with the moment. Only when we acknowledge what's happening to us can we truly benefit from life's teachings.

It is especially important when pain comes our way to honor the experience, because our natural tendency is to push it away and move past it as quickly as possible. We tend to want to brush it under the rug. Yet, if we don't, it reveals itself to be a great friend and teacher. As counterintuitive as it seems, we can honor pain by thanking it and by welcoming it into the space of our lives. We all know that often the more we resist something, the longer it persists. When we honor our pain, we do just the opposite of resisting it, and as a result, we create a world in which we can own the fullness of what life has to offer.

We can honor a painful experience by marking it in some way, bringing ourselves into a more conscious relationship with it. We might mark it by creating a work of art, performing a ritual, or undertaking some other significant act. Sometimes all we need to do is light a candle in honor of what we've gone through and what we've learned. No matter how small the gesture, it will be big enough to mark the ways in which our pain has transformed us, and to remind us to recognize and value all that comes our way in this life. 

Thursday, December 23, 2010

Solace in Service

Doing for Others

Many times the best way to get out of the blues quickly is to turn our attention to other people in loving service.

When we feel bad, often our first instinct is to isolate ourselves and focus on what's upsetting us. Sometimes we really do need some downtime, but many times the best way to get out of the blues quickly is to turn our attention to other people. In being of service to others, paradoxically, we often find answers to our own questions and solutions to our own problems. We also end up feeling more connected to the people around us, as well as empowered by the experience of helping someone.

When we reach out to people we can help, we confirm that we are not alone in our own need for support and inspiration, and we also remind ourselves that we are powerful and capable in certain ways. Even as our own problems or moods get the better of us sometimes, there is always someone else who can use our particular gifts and energy to help them out. They, in turn, remind us that we are not the only people in the world with difficulties or issues. We all struggle with the problems of life, and we all feel overwhelmed from time to time, but we can almost always find solace in service.

In the most ideal situation, the person we are helping sheds light on our own dilemma, sometimes with a direct piece of advice, and sometimes without saying anything at all. Sometimes just the act of getting our minds out of the obsessive mode of trying to figure out what to do about our own life does the trick. Many great inventors and artists have found that the inspiration they need to get to the next level in their work comes not when they're working but when they're walking around the block or doing dishes. We do ourselves and everyone else a great service when we take a break from our sorrows and extend ourselves to someone in need. 

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Prayer and Meditation - Asking and Receiving

Put very simply, prayer is when we ask the universe for something, and meditation is when we stop and listen.

Prayer and meditation are similar practices in that they both offer us a connection to the divine, but they also differ from one another in significant ways. Put simply, prayer is when we ask the universe for something, and meditation is when we listen. When we pray, we use language to express our innermost thoughts and feelings to a higher power. Sometimes, we plumb the depths within ourselves and allow whatever comes to the surface to flow out in our prayer. At other times, we pray words that were written by someone else but that express what we want to say. Prayer is reaching out to the universe with questions, pleas for help, gratitude, and praise.

Meditation, on the other hand, has a silent quality that honors the art of receptivity. When we meditate, we cease movement and allow the activity of our minds and hearts to go on without us in a sense. Eventually, we fall into a deep silence, a place that underlies all the noise and fray of daily human existence. In this place, it becomes possible for us to hear the universe as it speaks for itself, responds to our questions, or sits with us in its silent way.

Both prayer and meditation are indispensable tools for navigating our relationship with the universe and with ourselves. They are also natural complements to one another, and one makes way for the other just as the crest of a wave gives way to its hollow. If we tend to do only one or the other, prayer or meditation, we may find that we are out of balance, and we might benefit from exploring the missing form of communication. There are times when we need to reach out and express ourselves, fully exorcising our insides, and times when we are empty, ready to rest in quiet receiving. When we allow ourselves to do both, we begin to have a true conversation with the universe.

Saturday, December 18, 2010

Feed Someone: mini-mission

There are many ways to feed someone and to be fed. We are all hungry for different things at different times.
We hunger for love, sleep, success, a vacation, and of course, food. If you are reading this, then it is possible, that like me, you hunger for less.

While there are many benefits of living with less, the best is that you have the time and attention to give more. Today’s mini-mission is a great demonstration of that. Take a little time during the hustle of the holidays, or anytime, and Feed Someone. Following are 10 ways to take on this mini-mission. You only need to choose one to accomplish the mission, change someone’s day, or maybe even their world. Keep in mind that the world you change, might be your own.

5 Ways to Feed Emotionally

  1. Say I love you.
  2. Email someone in your web world a thank you note.
  3. Write a love letter.
  4. Double or triple your tip at your next meal out.
  5. Call the owner of a business tell them about the great service you received.

5 Ways to Feed Literally

There are just over 300 million people that live in the U.S. There are more than 925 million hungry people in the world. One of those 925 million hungry people live near you. You can feed them.
  1. Volunteer at a food kitchen.
  2. Make sandwiches and bring them to the park or an area where there are homeless people.
  3. Bring boxes of food to your local food bank.
  4. If you see someone hungry the next time you go out to eat, buy them a meal.
  5. Donate money to a food ministry.
For the purposes of this mini-mission reserve judgment. Keep it simple and just Feed Someone. I think you will find that you will be fed every time you give. It is my experience, that when I give my talent, time or treasure, I hunger for nothing.

It was a challenge to keep my lists to just 5 ways. What are other ways to feed someone? If you take this challenge, I want to know about your experience.

Love and Emptiness

The first realization on the Buddhist path is our own emptiness—we look at the self and find nothing permanent. The next step is the egolessness of other, says Sakyong Mipham, and the way we discover it, interestingly, is through love and compassion.

What is buddhahood? It is the attaining of egolessness. But what are we realizing the egolessness of?

According to the Theravada school of Buddhism, if we attain egolessness of self, we realize nirvana, enlightenment. This is a common approach: to attain enlightenment for oneself. But when we have discovered the emptiness of the self, what is left? The other. In the Mahayana school, the "Great Path," egolessness of other is one of the most profound teachings.

The self has no entity in itself, but it believes it does. Its nature is that it spreads. Wherever it goes it pervades; whatever it encounters it begins to absorb as “I.” For example, when we are born, somehow our consciousness has been able to transfer from our previous life into this body, which exists only in a temporary way. Once we came into this body, we thought, "Hmm, not bad. It’s not mine, but I’ll make it mine." And once we got used to our body, we immediately began thinking: my mother, my father, my house. Then my city, my state, my country, my planet, and so forth.

Ego has no boundary. It can go on continuously, appropriating other. When we come in contact with something, initially we look at it in a neutral way; we see it as belonging to somebody else, or maybe belonging to no one. If we see a tree, we don’t automatically think, “My tree.” Then we build a house next to it—and after a while, we think, “My tree.” This happens in any situation. When we buy an article of clothing, at first it feels foreign, but then it begins to feel familiar as my shirt. It is other, but the ego is constantly solidifying it as self.

The Mahayana teaches that complete egolessness comes about only when we have understood egolessness of other as well as the egolessness of self. There are two approaches in terms of how to practice the Mahayana: the direct path and the gradual path. On the direct path, we recognize the empty nature of self and other on the spot. On the gradual path, we recognize the nature of things progressively: First we recognize the self as empty. Then we recognize other to be empty. Then we recognize things to be the mind, and that this mind itself is empty.

These teachings direct us toward helping other sentient beings, because being able to help others is grounded in having discovered the emptiness of the self. So Mahayana logic is that we begin to flip from self to other.

A crucial element of the Mahayana is the bodhichitta practice of tonglen, “sending and taking.” In Tibetan, tong means “to send,” and len means “to get.” With a basic understanding of this practice, we begin to draw in the pain of others and send out goodness.

We can practice this exchange in many ways. For instance, we can do it specifically for someone who is ill, taking in that person’s suffering and claustrophobia and breathing out spaciousness. We do that by visualizing the inbreath as heavy and the outbreath as light, drawing in negative energy and sending out love.

At first it is important that we take this dualistic approach, because we can use what we see “out there” to incite compassion “in here.” In the same way, it is good that we have emotions, because then we have something to work with. With our breath, we can take in aggression and give out peace. We can breathe in pain and breathe out relief. That’s why human birth is so precious: it provides us with the attributes to go on the path.

Scholars and yogis have divided the ego into fifty-one levels of thought patterns and emotions. They’re listed in several categories, including universal patterns such as form and feeling, occasional patterns such as rapture, unwholesome patterns such as recklessness and lack of shame, and wholesome patterns like faith, love, and compassion.

Love and compassion are wholesome because when we experience them—even at an ordinary level—some kind of openness takes place. Those emotions are a fault line of the ego—when we feel them, the ego breaks down a little and we begin to see that our sense of “me” is not airtight. Even though love is an emotion and is often connected with someone we want, or who makes us happy, it contains some quality of relaxing and letting go. Compassion works in the same way, poking holes in the seeming solidity of self and other.

Tonglen is a very potent practice that helps us develop confidence in kindness and compassion. It brings sanity to us and to others because it provides a practical way of working with our mind. For example, if we are calmly practicing tonglen for someone who is close to us, we are not spinning out of control with worry about what could happen to them. Therefore, the meditation is a way to actually bring some sanity to us and the other person.

When we begin to do tonglen practice, the question arises: who or what is sending out, and who is taking in? Through practicing mindfulness, or shamatha, we have established peace. Now, through practicing insight, or vipashyana, we begin to develop wisdom. We begin to realize that we can’t actually find the mind we have tamed. Where exactly is it? Is the mind in the body? Is it in the eyes? Is it in the feelings? Where is the mind that is following the breath? Where is it coming from? Where is it going? Where is its space? We can’t really say that it’s here or it’s there. Nevertheless, there is definitely a process of experiencing being here—experiencing wildness of mind, and experiencing peace. Where is that peace? If I’m meditating, I feel tranquil. Where is that tranquility?

As we progress in our meditation, emptiness becomes more apparent. Emptiness means that there is no inherent existence. Emptiness and egolessness are very similar in that way. Emptiness is empty of our assumptions, and it is full of compassion. We realize that assumptions are the basis of most of our experiences, and we discover that the mind and the world are actually empty of those assumptions. Discovering our selfless nature is freedom.

Sometimes we misunderstand emptiness to mean that nothing exists, which is nihilism. A more accurate perspective is that without emptiness, we cannot have form, and without form we cannot have emptiness. They are inseparable. Exchanging self for other, we realize the self is empty. Then we realize that other is empty, too. That is how true giving and taking can happen. Exchanging oneself for other is the point where relative and absolute truth meet. The whole notion of self and other starts dissolving. If there’s somebody sending, who’s receiving?

As our meditation progresses, we begin to see egolessness—we can’t find any inherent thing. Compassion seems endless and boundless, but where does compassion come from? Where does insight come from? Where is this mind? Actually, we all have the capacity to know, but we can’t completely understand unless we practice meditation. Mind is empty and luminous: this is its nature. The Mahayana teachings say that with the right view, we can utilize certain aspects of our emotions in order to bring out this natural wisdom. As we develop love and compassion through the practice of tonglen, glimmers of wisdom begin to shine through.

Sakyong Mipham Rinpoche is the spiritual leader of Shambhala, an international network of Buddhist meditation and retreat centers. He is the author of Turning the Mind into an Ally and Ruling Your World.

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

The Magic of Enthusiasm

Law of Attraction Coach Kate by Kate Corbin
“Make sure that your life is a rare entertainment! It doesn't take anything drastic. You needn't be gorgeous or wealthy or smart ­ just very Enthusiastic!”
– Bette Midler

Welcome to the Wonderful World of Enthusiasm! When you enter this magical realm, you ride a wave of Life Force Energy that carries you easily and joyfully to the fulfillment of your desires. Want more money? Get excited about it! Ready for your ideal relationship? Feel passionate about it!

What a vibrant, potent force the Vibration of Enthusiasm is! With Enthusiasm and Passion, you broadcast your desires at a zillion watts and the Universe responds with equal intensity.

The word, Enthusiasm, comes from the Greek for “filled with God.” How about that? The etymology confirms that Enthusiasm is the state of being plugged in to Source.

Enthusiasm is that twinkle in your eye, that spring in your step. It’s that fire in the belly that says “I’m alive and I know who I am and what I want.” Enthusiasm is wholeheartedness. With Enthusiasm, you’re aligned, you’re connected, you’re open to receive the juicy abundance of life.

"Nothing great was ever achieved without enthusiasm."
– Ralph Waldo Emerson

Enthusiasm determines the difference between ordinary and extraordinary, between mediocre and meteoric. In sports, politics, business, the arts – in every field of human endeavor – the ones who make it to the top are invariably fueled by Enthusiasm. What greatness are you ready to achieve with the power of Enthusiasm?

Here’s how to get the Magic of Enthusiasm flowing freely in your life:

* Acknowledge that Enthusiasm is your birthright, which means it’s always there – like the sun on a cloudy day.
* To align with your natural state of Enthusiasm, do what you love. Let your heart steer the ship. What have you always felt drawn to do since you were a kid? What activities make you come alive? What totally absorbs you so you lose track of time? Find things you love to do and give yourself permission to DO THEM.
* Hang around with happy kids, playful pets, vibrant friends and PLAY!
* Stop postponing joy. Life is supposed to be fun, so have some fun today!
* Say YES more than NO.
* Act NOW rather than “some day.”
* Choose your heart over your head.
* Be yourself – who YOU really are, rather than who “they” say you should be.
* Go for your big dreams and refuse to settle for less than the best.
* Show up! As the song says, “when you get the chance to sit it out or dance, I hope you dance.”

A hearty dose of Enthusiasm can mean the difference between an OK life and a life of magnificence. Your vibration of Enthusiasm is a powerful magnet summoning and attracting your highest good, your most heartfelt desires. Re-discover your natural exuberance. Give the Universe a crystal clear, unequivocal statement of your desires by focusing with full-on Enthusiasm. When you engage the Magic of Enthusiasm, you’ll be supported and empowered to Live Your Best Life Now!

Friday, November 26, 2010

Thanksgiving Week Lessons

by Arvind 

How To Embrace What You Already Have

Cafe Gratitude San Francisco
Can you feel the magic in the air?

It’s thanksgiving week and I can already feel a sense of anticipation and excitement in the air.
This week, as is the tradition in the USA and other countries around the world, people will celebrate with their families and loved ones.

Here in London, over the last few years, thanksgiving is being celebrated more and more. I feel it’s a truly wonderful way of getting reconnected to what really matters in our lives.

For the first time ever, I may even host my own thanksgiving dinner in my home – vegetarian of course:-)
To mark and celebrate this special time, I am writing a series of 5 articles this week, one article a day for the next 5 days.

Today I will start with gratitude.

As you spend time with your loved ones over the coming days, just what are you grateful for in your life?

Gratitude is all about appreciating the things you have in your life. Are you even aware of all the goodness around you?

The fact that you are breathing and reading these printed words is a marvel in itself. How often we take something for granted and then miss it as soon as it has gone. Many a time a loved one has left us, only for us to wish we had told them just how much they meant to us.

Gratitude is a way of reaching back to our natural state of happiness.

You get to notice what’s right instead of what’s wrong and begin to see every “problem” as an opportunity for growth and development. Is your glass half full or half empty?

I challenge you during this special week to begin to value all the goodness and beauty around you. This can be as majestic as a sunset or as simple as the feel of the clothes you wear.

Be thankful for a gift from a friend, a child’s smile, a stranger’s kindness, having got home safely today and simply to be alive.

Appreciate the weather too wherever you are. Here in the UK it seems to rain a lot and so many people dampen their moods due to this natural phenomenon. I simply suggest to them that they appreciate the rain – after all, it is the rainwater that sustains all the nature around us.

Some of the happiest people I know live with an attitude of gratitude.

Adopting such an approach is a life long commitment and here are my tips to get you started this thanksgiving week:-

1. Count your blessings and create your gratitude list

List the things in your life to be grateful for and which you take for granted, such as your health, home, family, friends, work colleagues, car, and so on. Add all the things that you could not survive without, such as sunlight, air, water and food.

See how many things you can come up with. Keep this list with you, and refer to it anytime you get upset. See how long you remain upset!

2. Do something kind randomly

Do something for someone for no reason other than simply wanting to do it. Have no attachment to the outcome. Pay for someone’s parking, or compliment a stranger.

Always remember my 31 ways of carrying out random acts of kindness.

3. Send a note of appreciation to your loved ones

Post a card of appreciation to someone whom you have not been in touch with for a while.

Go one step further and send cards to five people and tell them how much you appreciate them being in your life.

If you don’t do this during thanksgiving week, when will you?

4. Write a thank you note

Send a thank you note to someone who has done something for you, significant or not.

Get into a habit of sending such notes by post. Most mail nowadays is junk mail or bills.

Light up someone’s day. Create a trail of happiness behind you, as you go forward in your life.

With the advent of email and social media, people have almost forgotten the art of writing thank you notes. But this thanksgiving week, why don’t you reconnect with this traditional way of spreading goodness?

5. See the magic all around you

See things as if for the first time ever. For instance, imagine just how fascinating a dog would look like to a child when seen for the first time.

Slow down and notice the beauty around you. Literally stop and smell the roses.

Remember that you can always choose to live your life as if everything is a miracle.

6. Live in the present and accept where you are

Accept things as they are. No matter how much the situation has turned out differently to your expectations, it is the way it is.

You don’t know how much worse off you could have been, had things gone differently. Savour the current moment and be grateful for what is.

Count your blessings, not your negatives

Since we are so conditioned into noticing the negatives, we often overlook all the good in our life. Count your blessings and be thankful.

Go around thanking everyone

Say “thank you” as often as possible to all the people who make your life what it is. A smile and a simple thank you will do. This will have a magical effect on the person receiving your appreciation. They will feel that their efforts have been noticed and appreciated.

Play the game of living with an attitude of gratitude!

From today onwards, play a game and count the number of times you say “thank you” – this is where you get to thank the universe and all the people who make your life what it is.

Then increase this number tomorrow. The opportunities to genuinely thank people and the universe are endless.

For example, next time you are at a checkout desk, show your gratitude and appreciation to the cashier. He and his colleagues have probably been up since the crack of dawn to make it possible for you to have your daily groceries and for you to eat.

Acknowledge your postman. Do you even know his name? See how his face lights up when you show an interest in his life. Very few people know the name of the postman who may have been delivering their mail for years. Ask him his name and make his day!

If you work in an office, acknowledge and get to know the cleaning staff. If they didn’t clean up, you would soon know that it is not fun to work in a rubbish tip.

Thank the men who collect your domestic refuse every week.

All the people you acknowledge will be truly touched.

And best of all, you will feel great too.

From this thanksgiving week onwards, learn to always live with an attitude of gratitude.
Appreciating what you have and being thankful isn’t just for this week – make it a life long habit.

How to Let Yourself Give and Receive

miracle of nature
How good are you at giving?

And just how open are you to receiving?

As a lot of people around the world celebrates  thanksgiving week, I am marking this special time with a series of articles.

This is the second in my series of 5 special posts for thanksgiving week.

Check out the first post here

Thanksgiving Week Lesson 1 – How To Embrace What You Already Have

Being based in the UK, I am not that familiar with the celebration of thanksgiving but I really love the whole concept of sharing with your loved ones and expressing your gratitude for all the goodness in your life.

From what I understand, part of this tradition of thanksgiving is to give and receive gifts.

It is therefore important to learn to give and also to receive. And the second of my series of 5 articles for thanksgiving week is all about giving and receiving – and how to become really good at both.

Do you look to help others in any way you can?

Or do you tend to look out just for yourself?

Most cultures and religions emphasise that life is all about giving. You reap what you sow, and by being generous and sharing your goodness is how you become happier.

We have a choice in how we behave towards others – we can be generous, considerate and caring to the people around us. Or we can be mean, self-centred and petty.

Every human interaction is an opportunity for giving and receiving a gift, such as love, friendship, honesty, support, thoughtfulness, generosity, humour and fun.

When you give to another, you receive the blessings of what you have given them – such as pleasure, satisfaction and joy.

What goes around comes around, and once you put the balance cycle of giving and receiving in action, you will receive as surely as you give.

Receiving is just as important as giving.

At the same time, be open to receiving. If everyone was giving, and no one was receiving, to whom would we be giving?

Recognize that by being open to receiving, you are giving the other person an opportunity to be blessed by their giving. It is a great thing to give… and to receive.

I recently heard Sadhguru Vasudev explain in one of his discourses that it was far important to receive than to give. We have all this goodness around us – and if we don’t acknowledge and accept it, what’s the very point of our existence?!

Most people are better at giving than receiving – and this thanksgiving, learn to receive openly and graciously. If someone gives you a gift or even a compliment, just say thank you.

There is so much you can do every day in terms of receiving and giving.

For example, every time you meet someone, ask yourself – what can I do for this person? A sincere compliment or even just acknowledging their presence can make a huge difference to them – and you.

Do not confuse giving compliments with flattery. Compliments should be positive, sincere and focused on achievements. For example – “You look radiant today. You must really be taking good care of yourself”.

In any situation, ask yourself – how can I help? How can I contribute here?

In the same way that  bees contribute to the pollination of flowers, what can you do to help others blossom?

miracle moth
Here are some simple ways you can begin to contribute to the people you meet every day.

1. Just smile!
Smile – and see how others respond.
Give someone the gift of your smile and kindness. It is amazing how easily you can uplift someone with a smile.

2. Help someone lost or in some trouble.
Look for the proverbial damsel in distress. Even giving directions to a lost tourist will lift your spirits.
In our society today, it’s come to a point when we are almost too scared to even ashamed to get involved.
Remember the silent people – and why you should not be one of them.

3. Help someone just to make their life easier.
For example, next time you are in a traffic queue, give way to other motorists. Count the number of times each day that you do something for others simply to help them.

4. Make a monetary contribution to a good cause.
Nowadays there are so many worthy causes clamouring for our loose change, such as the Haiti earthquake or the Pakistan flood appeals. But you will be surprised how far a little change can go.
Know that whatever you give does ultimately make a difference. And you have a vast number of charitable organisations to choose from – do your research and choose the one that appeals the most to you.

5. Say something positive to at least 3 people every day.
This could be your neighbour, a work colleague or the newsagent.
The opportunities of brightening up someone’s day are endless once you begin to look out for them.

6. Recommend someone’s services or products.
Help other people grow through your recommendations and look for opportunities for connecting people.
A lot of business is done through personal recommendations and we all know someone who is excellent at what they do. Recommend that plumber or decorator who did such a great job for you.
Or simply get like minded people together. Hook up people who you feel may have some synergies.

7. Talk in glowing terms about someone to a third person.
Instead of gossiping and “bitching”, stop and get in to the habit of only saying positive things about other people.
I recently found myself gossiping about a neighbour to a friend and stopped myself just in time. Clearly I still have some way to go too.
The trick I have learnt is to imagine that the person being talked about can actually hear what I might say about them!

8. Acknowledge at least three people daily.
This could be by sending them a greeting card or a “thank you” note, telephoning or emailing. Perhaps an sms text message. Do something for them which you know they will appreciate.
Three people might seem like stretching it a bit, but once you get into the habit, it does get easier – and becomes fun too.

Saying thanks is for everyday, not just thanksgiving!
Remember, you are a gift bearer and a gift receiver in every relationship. And the key to creating the life you love is contribution.
Make this thanks giving week, the week when you truly begin to contribute and give.
Make contribution to others a life long mission – your life will change dramatically and your interactions with other people will become more satisfying, enjoyable and fun.

Make it Thanksgiving Day, every day!
Have a wonderful life of giving and receiving.

Now please share how you give and receive in your life

Also check out the other article in my series of 5 articles for thanksgiving:-
Thanksgiving Week Lesson 1 – How To Embrace What You Already Have

Happy Thanks Giving Day!

 Thanksgiving Week Lesson 3 – How To Add a Little Sizzle to Your Relationships

show your loved ones you truly care for them everyday and not just on a few special occasions each year.

This article is about much more than just the relationship with your loved ones – I am covering the whole spectrum of all your relationships.
I believe that if we improve the one to one relations with all the people around us, ultimately relationships on a global level will also improve.
Ultimately, we all do want to have great relationships with everyone in our life.
People will come and go, but their impact on your life and their special essence remains with you forever.
Every person has a “gift” for you – a lesson – ask what you can learn and receive in each relationship.
The key is to know that people really appreciate honesty and openness in relationships. Always be true to your word and tell it how it is for you. Speak the truth directly and authentically.
This doesn’t however, mean being brutally rude. It is important to also be respectful of other people’s feelings and opinions.
Be tactful as appropriate to the situation!

This thanksgiving, assess where improvement is needed in your relationships, and get committed to improving them.

Here are my tips for doing just that:-

1. Show your appreciation in all areas of your life.
Keep a count of the number of times you say “thank you” every day and keep increasing.
Say your thanks genuinely and whole heartedly in your relationships with your partner, colleagues, family and especially the strangers who do so much to make your life convenient and easy, such as shop assistants, the postman and the dustman.

2. Listen to other people.
The greatest gift you can give people is your undivided attention. Practice listening skills and be completely present for that person.
When people are talking to you, stop what you are doing, look straight at them and avoid distractions and interruptions. Your undivided attention tells the other person that you genuinely value them.

3. Be interested in other people.
The emphasis here is on being interested rather than “interesting”. People can tell when you are genuinely interested in them or when you are just faking it.
It is what you put into a relationship that ultimately determines the quality of that relationship.

4. Make other people feel important.
By showing everyone that they count, you raise their self esteem. And you will raise your own self esteem too.
Help other people feel important and valued, and they will be willing and ready to do anything for you. It really is no rocket science.
Of course that shouldn’t be your underlying reason for wanting to make them feel they count!

5. Don’t take things personally.
What anyone says or does to you is merely a reflection of their own reality. Become immune to what others say and do, when it’s negative or hurtful.
See it as a gift to you and an opportunity for you to help them.

6. Stop criticising others.
Criticism can be so demoralising and destructive for adults and children alike. Become aware of how you speak to the people you care about, and recognise when you are being critical.
Ask people around you to give you genuine and open feedback about your habits of criticism (if any) and be big enough to change your ways.

7. Empathise with other people.
Start to listen and understand the other person’s point of view. This will help avoid arguments and save you from draining your energy.
Anytime you are in a tricky situation, put yourself in their shoes and ask yourself how you would like to be treated in this situation.
Remember the old saying – do unto others what you would have done to you.

8. Stop dumping on others.
Don’t relieve your own stress by taking it out on someone close to you. This doesn’t help either of you!
When you catch yourself about to dump on someone, just pause, have a deep breath and find some space your own. Reflect on what’s really going on for you.
Ask how sharing your woes with others will really help you or them.

9. Focus on changing yourself, not other people.
Accept and realise that you can’t change anyone else. If a situation bothers you so much, then change it or change your attitude to it.
It is all about you and what you bring to any relationship.

10. Don’t make assumptions about other people and situations.
Communicate with others clearly so as to avoid misunderstandings and conflict.
Remember that everyone is doing the best they can with their current level of knowledge, awareness and understanding.
Ask for clarification any time you are not clear about something. Speak up even if you feel you might sound stupid or naïve – better to be clear now, than to have a fall out later. The other person will also appreciate where you are coming from.
Apply the four agreements from Don Miguel Ruiz in your life to get personal freedom.

11. Stop gossiping and bitching about others.
It will inevitably come back to you and affect your relationships.
Learn to only say good things about others and your relationships will soon improve. To help you, just remember this quote:-
“Improve your relationships with others by assuming that they can hear everything you say about them.” –  Stephen R Covey
Make it Thanksgiving Day every day. 

Just imagine what your life would be like if all your relationships were to be just as warm, close and loving as they are on Thanksgiving Day.
And you know what, they can be!

Start today with these simple tips for improving all your relationships and adding a little sizzle to them:-)
It is of course not enough that you just read these series of articles for thanksgiving week – you do have to take some action and commit to bringing about positive changes in your life.

Today, you will be glad you have done so, as almost immediately you will notice that your relationships with all the people in your life begin to improve.

As usual, do share your thoughts below – and especially please share the one thing you will do differently on this thanksgiving to improve your relationships with your loved ones.

 Thanksgiving Week Lesson 4 – How to Harvest the Wisdom from My Top Blogger Friends

What is the greatest gift you can give to the world on this day?

I asked my blogger friends exactly this question and invited them to share their favourite articles from their blogs for today and explain why they had chosen that particular post.

The outcome is that they have a contributed an awesome bounty of wisdom that will stand you in good stead always and not just today.

I am not given to exaggerating, but your life will never be the same again!

Please do bookmark this page and take your time to go through their articles. Reflect on and absorb their wisdom and teachings into your life. And let me know how you get on.

I feel fortunate to know and call all these bloggers my friends; though amazingly from the list below I have only ever met two of them in person – John Sherry and Jennifer Gresham.

I know that this will change over the years to come as I intent to meet to them all:-)

All these bloggers are committed to making a difference and I invite you to explore their work and also subscribe to their blogs.

As I think about these blogger friends, the words that come to my mind are inspirational, caring, passionate and fun.

I am proud and honoured to present to you these pearls from these friends.

Here they are in alphabetical order, except I chose to put Zeenat at the top as with a name beginning with Z, she usually ends up at the bottom:-)
Zeenat Merchant-SyalHow to be YOU no matter what – 7 simple tips
“Being authentically YOU is not always the easiest thing to be and I know this cause I’ve had a hard time in the past just being me until I found out who I was – sharing this article in your thanks giving post is just my way of acknowledging and giving thanks for the uniqueness of each and every beautiful individual.”
Abubakar Jamil - An Open Letter to Sabrina – A Departed Soul
“My open letter to Sabrina shows the value of accepting and being thankful for the people that come into your life for some unknown reason and change your life forever.”
Alex BlackwellThe Best Things in Life
“The best things in life aren’t the things we have, but rather who we get to share these things with. The best things in my life are sitting with me on Thanksgiving Day.”
Amit Sodha 10 Magnificient Messages to Spread Across the Globe
“I want to share this article with the world as it encompasses every core belief that you, I and most other people in the world of personal development will hold dear.
Anastasiya Goers - Inner Peace: Your Simple Guide
“If there is one thing you can make happen today – let it be a step towards your inner peace. Everything else – happiness, balance, serenity – will sprout from it.”
Andrea DeBellA Brief Guide to Loving Everyone
“Besides giving thanks, the Thanksgiving holiday is also an opportunity to express love since we’re grateful for the love the Indians showed towards the pilgrims and the love we share with our dear ones.”
Angela ArtemisAlways Keep Your Dreams Alive.
“On Thanksgiving, remember to give thanks for your dreams because whether we realize it or not, dreams fuel our lives; without them there’s no passion and not much point in going on.”
SPECIAL BONUS Article from Angela for thanksgiving – The Amazing Grace of Thanksgiving
Barrie Davenport - Make 2011 the year of you
“I chose this post because this season is a time of reflection and preparation for a new beginning, and I want to support readers in making bold, positive changes for 2011.”
Chris Guillebeau - The decision to be remarkable
“Because the world is waiting.”
Courtney CarverLessons from love and marriage
“I am most grateful for love and hope my story inspires others to think about the love in their lives.”

Dave Ursillo11 Ways to Pay Daily Alms Without Paying a Dime
“A piece that expands upon the religious rite of alms-giving and turns the idea of giving to very human, spiritual, non-financial ways.”
Dragos RouaWhy Less is More
“Because we really need to focus more on what we have, and less on what we don’t.”
Farnoosh BrockCelebrating 100th post with 100 lessons about life and blogging
“I never thought I’d feel so grateful about blogging and that I would learn so much about life through blogging, so I marked the occasion. Here I share a milestone celebration with my readers and reflect on the 100 lessons I have learned along the way.”
Gail Brenner - Generosity Unleashed – Everywhere
“When we are able to be generous with ourselves, our hearts are full, and we naturally express generosity toward everyone and everything.”
Henri JunttilaHow to Enjoy Life
“Thanksgiving is all about enjoying life. Life is about enjoying life, but especially thanksgiving, and sometimes we need to be reminded of the fact that we’re here to do stuff we love”
Jai KaiThe Art of Sustainable Giving – Enhance Your Success and Wellness
“We should all learn how to give in a sustainable way because giving sustainably is about creating and sustaining relationships with people and all other living things.”
Jennifer Gresham - Don’t Go Don’t In Fame: 5 Warning Signs You’re Too Ambitious
“When we take time to reflect on what makes us most grateful, we usually credit the people who surround and support us, not the accomplishments we achieved in hopes of impressing them.”
John Sherry - Why I Want Love
“I believe in love and as a man, it is said we don’t show it enough. I want to stand up as a male not afraid to show it and want it and welcome it in my life. I want to do more in the name of love.”
Karol GajdaHow To Stop Having Problems or “The Eighty-Fourth Problem”
“For whatever reason the Holidays, while bringing out the best in people, also bring up a lot of “problems” and “situations.” This article can help.”
Katie Tallo – How to Be A Girl
“I am thankful that I grew up free to go to school, free to choose when I married, free to decide when to have a child — choices some girls don’t have.”
Leo BabautaBreathe
“I think with the busy-ness of the holidays, it’s good to remember to breathe.”
Linda Hewett – Thanks Dad for the Memories
“I was blessed to have my lovely, modest dad and I know he would be touched and surprised that I’ve written about him for all the world to read.”
LisaMonograms and Doc Martens

“I wish for everyone the chance to become friends with their inner goblins, especially those who cannot be defeated.”
Lisa H (RunningBear)Be Grateful for What You Have
“I have selected this article because it is a good reminder for us to be grateful for what we have and to give to others on this day. To me, that is what Thanksgiving is all about.”
Lori Deschene50 things to love about life that are free
“There’s a lot to appreciate in life that doesn’t cost a dime.”
Mary Jaksch – How to Make a True Friend (Worth More Than 14.6 Cents)
“Because making true friends and nurturing bonds of love and affection is a priceless gift to others, as well as to ourselves.”
Sandra Lee - 101 Rays of Gratitude
Inspiration for exercising your gratitude muscle.”
Satya ColomboOn building a juicy container for getting amazing sh** done + extreme gratitude
“Because it’s juicy and delicious, it has a mouth-watering picture, and it’s the only post I’ve written that mentions making-love on a bed of orange blossoms.”
Scott Dinsmore – The Beginner’s Guide to Being Congruent
“Few people take the time to truly figure out who they are, why they’re here and how they should spend they’re time, but without this understanding, this congruency, it is almost impossible to make the dent in the world you are designed to make.”
Stacey Curnow – Thanks for the Memories: How (and Why) to Keep a Special Memories Journal
“The Special Memories Journal serves the same purpose as a gratitude journal—the mere act of writing down precious moments reminds you that they have happened, and that your life is full of them.”
Tess Marshall – On a Rampage of Gratitude and Appreciation
The exercise I offer in the article takes the focus off our own greed and puts it on giving to others who have less.”
There you are – hearty contributions from bloggers around the world to add that extra zest of wisdom and gratitude to your Thanksgiving Day and indeed any day.
Please do check out their generous contributions to you and me on Thanksgiving Day – and also share their work with the world.
Happy Thanksgiving everyone, today and everyday.
And a happy life:-)

Thanksgiving Week Lesson 5 – How to Serve Others at the Global Table

Serve the global table
So how was Thanksgiving Day for you?

Whatever you did and whoever you shared the day with, I bet you experienced some moments of gratitude for what you have and the people in your life.

But what about the people sitting around the global table? What can you do from now on to contribute to them?

This is the fifth in my series of five special posts for  thanksgiving week – and this article is all about serving others.

We all have deep within us this calling and a capacity to help others, to make a difference in some way and to make ourselves count.

I always had this urge even when as a child but the urge got submerged as I got on to the treadmill of life. But in recent years, I have got involved with Nirvana School and other charities, directly and indirectly.

Also, through my work and my writing I would like to feel that I am doing my bit for the world.
However, service is not just about doing charity work, or even “looking good”. It is about creating something sustainable and leaving a legacy for those to follow.

Service is about empowering people and giving them their dignity.

So what’s stopping you from doing even more for the world? Are you fearful of changing the world?
Then feel the fear and change the world anyway!
“We make a living by what we get, but we make a life by what we give.” – Winston Churchill
The beauty of being of service is that anyone can serve. You just need the willingness and the desire to make a difference. You don’t need much to get started. Just ask Dr Martin Luther King:-
“Everyone can be great, because anybody can serve. You don’t have to have a college degree to serve. You don’t have to make your subject and verb agree to serve. You only need a heart full of grace – a soul generated by love- Dr Martin Luther King
I am not sure who said this but I remember these poignant words – if you serve wholeheartedly, you are bound to succeed as there is so little competition.

It is not even about “succeeding” – it is about doing what you can to make a difference to others.

At the same time, there may be little competition right now, but I really believe that this is changing rapidly.

I am meeting more and more people who want to serve and make a difference. You only have to check out my last post and read about all the amazing bloggers committed to making a positive change in the world.

There is definitely a change in the air and a major shift happening in the world, as we all wake up to the realization that we are all one, and serving each other is the least we can do for humanity.
So ask yourself:-

How can I begin TODAY to serve others wholeheartedly?
What ONE thing, small or big, can I do today that will make someone’s life easier?
What can I do EVERY day from now onwards to serve others?

The Art of Thanksgiving
The art of Thanksgiving is gratitude in action.

It is giving thanks for the gift of life
by living it triumphantly.

It is giving thanks for your talents and abilities
by accepting them as obligations to be invested for the common good.

It is giving thanks for happiness
by striving to make others happy.

It is giving thanks for beauty
by helping to make the world more beautiful.

It is giving thanks for inspiration
by trying to be an inspiration to others.

It is giving thanks for opportunities
by accepting them a challenge to achievement.

It is giving thanks for the creative ideas that enrich life
by adding your own creative contributions to human progress.

It is giving thanks for each new day
by living it to the fullest.

It is adding to your prayers of thanksgiving, acts of Thanksgiving.
--- Author Unknown