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

35 Gifts Your Children Will Never Forget

by Joshua Becker on November 26, 2010

You give but little when you give of your possessions. It is when you give of yourself that you truly give.” – Kahlil Gibran

I have countless holiday memories. Most of them center around faith, family, and traditions.

Very few childhood memories actually include the gifts that I received. I distinctly remember the year that I got a blue dirt bike, the evening my brother and I received a Nintendo, and opening socks every year from my grandparents. But other than that, my gift-receiving memories are pretty sparse. Which got me thinking… what type of gifts can we give to our children that they will never forget? What gifts will truly impact their lives and change them forever?
To that end, here is an alphabetical list of 35 Gifts Your Children Will Never Forget.
  1. Affirmation. Sometimes one simple word of affirmation can change an entire life. So make sure your children know how much you appreciate them. And then, remind them every chance you get.
  2. Art. With the advent of the Internet, everyone who wants to create… can. The world just needs more people who want to…
  3. Challenge. Encourage your child to dream big dreams. In turn, they will accomplish more than they thought possible… and probably even more than you thought possible.
  4. Compassion/Justice. Life isn’t fair. It never will be – there are just too many variables. But when a wrong has been committed or a playing field can be leveled, I want my child to be active in helping to level it.
  5. Contentment. The need for more is contagious. Therefore, one of the greatest gifts you can give your children is an appreciation for being content with what they have… but not with who they are.
  6. Curiosity. Teach your children to ask questions about who, what, where, how, why, and why not. “Stop asking so many questions” are words that should never leave a parents’ mouth.
  7. Determination. One of the greatest determining factors in one’s success is the size of their will. How can you help grow your child’s today?
  8. Discipline. Children need to learn everything from the ground-up including appropriate behaviors, how to get along with others, how to get results, and how to achieve their dreams. Discipline should not be avoided or withheld. Instead, it should be consistent and positive.
  9. Encouragement. Words are powerful. They can create or they can destroy. The simple words that you choose to speak today can offer encouragement and positive thoughts to another child. Or your words can send them further into despair. So choose them carefully.
  10. Faithfulness to your Spouse. Faithfulness in marriage includes more than just our bodies. It also includes our eyes, mind, heart, and soul. Guard your sexuality daily and devote it entirely to your spouse. Your children will absolutely take notice.
  11. Finding Beauty. Help your children find beauty in everything they see… and in everyone they meet.
  12. Generosity. Teach your children to be generous with your stuff so that they will become generous with theirs.
  13. Honesty/Integrity. Children who learn the value and importance of honesty at a young age have a far greater opportunity to become honest adults. And honest adults who deal truthfully with others tend to feel better about themselves, enjoy their lives more, and sleep better at night.
  14. Hope. Hope is knowing and believing that things will get better and improve. It creates strength, endurance, and resolve. And in the desperately difficult times of life, it calls us to press onward.
  15. Hugs and Kisses. I once heard the story of a man who told his 7-year old son that he had grown too old for kisses. I tear up every time I think of it. Know that your children are never too old to receive physical affirmation of your love for them.
  16. Imagination. If we’ve learned anything over the past 20 years, it’s that life is changing faster and faster with every passing day. The world tomorrow looks nothing like the world today. And the people with imagination are the ones not just living it, they are creating it.
  17. Intentionality. I believe strongly in intentional living and intentional parenting. Slow down, consider who you are, where you are going, and how to get there. And do the same for each of your children.
  18. Your Lap. It’s the best place in the entire world for a book, story, or conversation. And it’s been right in front of you the whole time.
  19. Lifelong Learning. A passion for learning is different from just studying to earn a grade or please teachers. It begins in the home. So read, ask questions, analyze, and expose. In other words, learn to love learning yourself.
  20. Love. …but the greatest of these is love.
  21. Meals Together. Meals provide unparalleled opportunity for relationship, the likes of which can not be found anywhere else. So much so, that a family that does not eat together does not grow together.
  22. Nature. Children who learn to appreciate the world around them take care of the world around them. As a parent, I am frequently asking my kids to keep their rooms inside the house neat, clean, and orderly. Shouldn’t we also be teaching them to keep their world outside neat, clean, and orderly?
  23. Opportunity. Kids need opportunities to experience new things so they can find out what they enjoy and what they are good at. And contrary to popular belief, this doesn’t have to require much money.
  24. Optimism. Pessimists don’t change the world. Optimists do.
  25. Peace. On a worldwide scale, you may think this is out of our hands. But in relation to the people around you, this is completely within your hands… and that’s a darn good place to start.
  26. Pride. Celebrate the little things in life. After all, it is the little accomplishments in life that become the big accomplishments.
  27. Room to Make mistakes. Kids are kids. That’s what makes them so much fun… and so desperately in need of your patience. Give them room to experiment, explore, and make mistakes.
  28. Self-Esteem. People who learn to value themselves are more likely to have self-confidence, self-esteem, and self-worth. As a result, they are more likely to become adults who respect their values and stick to them… even when no one else is.
  29. Sense of Humor. Laugh with your children everyday… for your sake and theirs.
  30. Spirituality. Faith elevates our view of the universe, our world, and our lives. We would be wise to instill into our kids that they are more than just flesh and blood taking up space. They are also made of mind, heart, soul, and will. And decisions in their life should be based on more than just what everyone else with flesh and blood is doing.
  31. Stability. A stable home becomes the foundation on which children build the rest of their lives. They need to know their place in the family, who they can trust, and who is going to be there for them. Don’t keep changing those things.
  32. Time. The gift of time is the one gift you can never get back or take back. So think carefully about who (or what) is getting yours.
  33. Undivided Attention. Maybe this imagery will be helpful: Disconnect to Connect.
  34. Uniqueness. What makes us different is what makes us special. Uniqueness should not be hidden. It should be proudly displayed for all the world to see, appreciate, and enjoy.
  35. A Welcoming Home. To know that you can always come home is among the sweetest and most life-giving assurances in all the world. Is your home breathing life into your child?
Of course, none of these gifts are on sale at your local department store. But, I think that’s the point.

Thursday, November 25, 2010

Be As You Are, The Teachings Of Sri Ramana Maharshi

by Akemi 
This book has deepened my spirituality so significantly that I want to do a review. Ramana Maharshi is an Indian sage (1879 – 1950). At age sixteen, he ran away from school and home, and went to the sacred mountain of Arunachala, staying there for the rest of his life.

He wrote very little. This book is a compilation of this dialogues, with the editor David Godman’s introduction at the beginning of each chapter.


The main point of his teaching is that the only thing that ever exists is the one Consciousness. Individuality is only an illusion. Identification with the illusionary self is the cause of suffering.

He uses several words to mean this one Consciousness: Self, sat-chit-ananda (Sanskrit for being-consciousness-bliss), Heart (not the physical heart but the center), and God. So we need to be careful when he says “Self”. It’s not the Higher Self — it includes all Higher Selves. In his view, there is no difference between the Source (Brahman) and the Higher Self/soul (Atman).

For Ramana Maharshi, there is no creator and the creatures. This is the purest form of nondualism. Only one Consciousness being aware of itself.

Although on the surface his theory is different from my idea of how the Higher Selves and souls came to be from the Source, I actually agree with him. That story of creation is a layer of illusion, or what I call virtual reality simulation game.


Even though Ramana Maharshi is often categorized as an Advaita (Sanskrit of nondualism and indicates a branch of Hindu teaching) teacher, this book explains the difference:

Advaita teaches “I am Brahman” whereas Ramana Maharshi maintains “I am”. The idea of “I am Brahman (or the Source or God)” is nice, it’s only a notion that is thought or believed. It implies there is “I” and “Brahman”. “I am” is a knowing. For Sri Ramana, there is no subject and object, the seer and the seen.
The “I” cannot become aware of the Self — I can only be the Self.


Self-enquiry is essentially a process of removing the illusions so you find what you already know. You are already the Self. There is nothing that is not the Self. But we all have so much gunk caused by the five senses and our conventional thinking that the truth may not be obvious.

When you release thoughts and be silent, you realize the truth, he says. And by silent, he doesn’t mean just shutting up your mouth. It’s a complete silence of the mind. It’s the stillness or non-doing.

I guess this is a tough idea for many. We are taught to think. We are taught not-thinking is ignorant and lazy. And here Sri Ramana says ignorance is holding onto the illusions and we are wiser when we release thoughts.


So what good do we achieve when we realize the truth of “I am”?
Well, none. Achievement is an illusion. We just realize all our problems are illusions and therefore be free from them. Ramana Maharshi says self-realization is bliss — the Self is bliss.

Quantum mechanics

Now here is how I interpret his teaching with what I know about modern science. We are all made of atoms. The atom is like 99% space with tiny subatomic particles flying around as possibilities. In our everyday life, we recognize there is a distinct difference between my body and the space around me, and my body and your body. But really, the difference is only relative. My body is relatively denser than the space around me, but no significant difference.

Energy continues beyond what we recognize as individual objects and life forms. Individuality is only supported by our five senses, which only registers energetic information in a gross, inaccurate way.
We are all one. One taking localized forms temporarily.

Accepting a layer of illusion

For those of you who think his teaching is too far off and impractical, Ramana Maharshi also modifies his teaching and says it is okay to assume some individuality.

So it’s okay to pray. When you know there is only one Consciousness — in other words, when you know you are God — there is no point of praying. I agree with him, but at the same time, I find comfort in praying. So at least for now, accepting this layer of illusion that there is God and me works for me.

Needless to say, when we realize our individuality is an illusion, then reincarnation is an illusion as well. So those of you who really grasp his teaching of nonduality (not just understanding it on the intellectual level, but really know it and live in bliss) don’t need my Akashic Record Reading. You are free already and you know it.


Also, I personally find it interesting that he discourages renunciation even though he himself abandoned his worldly life and led a very austere life. It is said his only personal possession was his loincloth. To his visitors, however, he explained self-enquiry alone is sufficient for self-realization.

So I guess I don’t need to move to India :)

This is the best book on spirituality I know. I don’t think you need to know anything else about spirituality. Read it, be silent, and realize.

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Feel yourself in joy

Every day, or at the very least once or twice a week, take a few minutes and focus on seeing yourself in joy. Feel yourself in joy. Imagine only joy ahead in your life and see yourself basking in it. As you do this the Universe will move all people, circumstances, and events to bring you that joy. You can't be in joy if you have money worries, or health worries, or relationship problems with friends or family. So deposit some joy in the bank of the Universe as often as you can. There isn't an investment that is more worthwhile.
May the joy be with you,

Rhonda Byrne

Humility is Seeing Divinity in Everyone

Humility is the foundation of love

Humility is about clear seeing and acceptance. So humility is the basis of true love. How can I possibly love you when I see you above or below me? And which would you prefer, to be loved for the attributes you have or to be loved as a whole person just as you are?

Further, the apparent paradox is that, when you are humble, you attract true respect. One thing I really like about teachers such as Ramana Maharshi and Adyashanti is their lack of self-importance.

Even though it shares the same word stem, humiliation is vastly different from this voluntary and natural humility. Humiliation is about putting down someone below who he or she really is. It’s a form of manipulation. Humility is based on truth while humiliation is based on non-truth.

Loving all there is

By loving all there is as they are, with no judging, no resisting, no running around to fix it, no preventing it, and so on — everything becomes more or less okay and I end up in peace and joy. And the peace and joy are unaffected by the happenings in my life so they are stable.

When I get what I like, that is great.
When I don’t get what I like, I’m still okay.
When I get what irritates my feelings — ah, how interesting. (Hey, peace doesn’t have to be boring and monotonous!)

Or even better, just quiet my mind and don’t even notice what I am “getting”. Just accept what they are.

I’m going to try this nondualism approach to see how it fits me. 
 Akemi Gaines

Right Where We Are - Enlightenment At Home

You don't need to travel to a far away land to become enlightened; it isn't the place, it's the practice.

Many spiritual seekers feel called to far-flung places across the globe in the interest of pursuing the path of their enlightenment. This may indeed be the right course of action for certain people, but it is by no means necessary to attaining an enlightened consciousness. Enlightenment can take root anywhere on earth, as long as the seeker is an open and ready vessel for higher consciousness. All we need is a powerful intention, and a willingness to do the work necessary to moving forward on our path.

In terms of spiritual practice, at this moment, there are more tools available to more people than at any other time in history. We have access to so much wisdom through the vehicles of books, magazines, the Internet, television, and film. In addition, the time-honored practice of meditation is free, and sitting quietly everyday, listening to the universe, is a great way to start the journey within. There is further inspiration in the fact that the greatest teachers we have are our own life experiences, and they come to us every day with new lessons and new opportunities to learn. If we look at the people around us, we may realize that we have a spiritual community already intact, and if we don't, we can find one, if not in our own neighborhood, then on-line.

Meanwhile, if we feel called to travel in search of teachers and experiences, then by all means, we should. But if we can't go to India, or Burma, or Indonesia, or if we don't have the desire, this is not an obstacle in terms of our spiritual development. In fact, we may simply be aware that our time and energy is best spent in our own homes, with our meditation practice and all the complications and joys of our own lives. We can confidently stay in one place, knowing that everything that we need to attain enlightenment is always available right where we are. 

Sunday, November 14, 2010

Living From Your Heart

by Caroline Sutherland

Caroline SutherlandIf you've decided to get to the summit of your mountain and not just hang around base camp, then know that ascending to the highest level of living is going to involve your heart. Take a second to check how it's doing right now: Put your hand on your heart and ask, "Is my ‘love tap' flowing inside of me?"

You see, we all have a small but powerful golden tap inside of us -- while it might be covered over and obscured by leaves and twigs, it's still there. Get to know it, and check in with it on a daily (even hourly) basis. Is your tap turned on enough so that the love from your heart is flowing out to everyone you meet? Even though you may be taxed and burdened by a life that can be fraught with many disappointments, you can still love.


Every night before you go to bed, it helps to examine the day and review your thoughts and actions to find how they could be more loving. Ultimately, when you leave this plane of existence, that's what's going to count. In order to reach the summit of your own personal mountain, your mandate must be to love, inspire, and serve others in whatever you do -- not in some lofty purpose "over there," but in your daily life, right where you are right now.

Three Loving Techniques

Julie Anderson's book, The Heart: The Final Destination, seeks to provide insights, inspiration, and guidance about loving more. (Please visit: Here are three techniques (in italics) to help open your heart center:
1. Welcome everyone with love. With everyone, including animals, I meet, I automatically say to them mentally, "I welcome you into my life with love." This technique has diffused so many situations I have been confronted with over the years. It puts out an energy and feeling of peace and understanding, whether the other individual knows it or not. 
Like Julie, whenever I meet someone, I always know that he or she is bringing me the next step. I stay aware, listen, and offer a greeting, knowing that out of his or her mouth will come the next piece of information that I need to know. Everything is connected. I bring something into the life of each person I meet, and vice versa. This is a loving, positive exchange.
2. Listen to others. Truly listen with your undivided attention when someone is trying to convey something to you. Then repeat back what you think was said. These two techniques not only clarify the information you are receiving but allow you to truly understand where an individual is coming from. So much of our communication between individuals is misunderstood. Listen with the heart into what someone is actually saying, as it may not at all be what you thought you heard.
3. Breathe in love and breathe out blessings. Make this a continual mantra throughout your day. This is a technique I start my day with and continually repeat. It reminds me to think well of others. Remember there is no time or space, and every time you say this you are actually emanating blessings and love to everyone and everything around you. This actually creates an energy field emanating from your heart like a beacon. Every second of every day, you always have a choice of how to be and how to react to any situation. Pick your choices well and bring harmony to all.
I've personally enjoyed the work of the Vietnamese Zen master Thich Nhat Hanh. His books are filled with the central themes of peace, love, and compassion; and he teaches the art of mindful living and embracing our own reality, which can be tough to do when we're dealing with the effects of this world.

My Inspiration for You

I believe that diseases begin when we disregard the messages of the heart and deny what gives us happiness -- good things will come if we live in joy, harmony, and gratitude. Through any personal health challenge, the miracle of the body still prevails. With a little help, it knows what to do and can repair at any age -- I've seen it happen countless times.
When the body repairs, the energy returns, the lights go on, the vitality pours back in, and everything lines up! Then emotions take on a rational perspective and spirituality is aligned; thus, we witness the true miracle of the connection between the body, mind, and spirit.

I believe that we can slow down the aging process at this particular point in our history, and that there are tools available for us to do so. Because we're living longer, it behooves us to find these tools and use them. But our highest level of mastery is going to be our personal spiritual evolution -- the perfection of our soul.
This brings us to the art of surrender, or the top of the mountain -- that is, when you can accept, allow, and enjoy the mystery of life as it unfolds and then ends. I hope that you can look back on the piece of patchwork that you've left on the planet with a sense of pride and accomplishment. And, as you review the life that you've passionately lived, may you be able to say, in the words of the famous French chanteuse Edith Piaf: "Non, je ne regrette rien" -- "No, I do not regret anything."

This article was excerpted from: The Body Knows... How to Stay Young by Caroline Sutherland.
The Body Knows... How to Stay Young
by Caroline Sutherland.

Reprinted with permission of the publisher, Hay House Inc. ©2008. 
For more info or to order this book or the Amazon Kindle format.

About The Author

Caroline M. SutherlandCaroline Sutherland is an internationally recognized medical intuitive, lecturer, workshop leader and author of many books and audio programs on health, personal development, and self-esteem. She is the founder of Sutherland Communications, which offers Medical Intuitive Training Programs; intuitive assessments for weight loss, menopause and general health concerns; consultation services and related products for adults and children. Visit Caroline online at

Friday, November 5, 2010

Four Simple Keys to Transform Your Life

What’s Best for All

The Power of Choice. Every one of us makes countless choices every day. Every choice we make has an impact on our lives. Even insignificant choices can affect what we experience and how we feel. When hunger strikes, we can reach for a healthy, nutritious snack, or we can choose the sugar high of junk food. The more important the decision, the more profound its effect. For instance, how do I act towards that person who treated me badly? Do I generally choose to be passive, or do I actively set clear intentions and create what I want in my life? Every choice we make, however big or small, affects us in some way.

How Do You Make Choices? If you are interested in living a richer, fuller life, there is a foundation upon which you can base all of your decisions which can make life better not only for you, but also for those around you. This foundation is to choose based on what’s best for all. Imagine a world where every parent, spouse, friend, teacher, businessperson, and politician truly did their best to choose what’s best for all involved in every decision they made. We would certainly live in a more caring, supportive world.

It’s the Intention. “But how do I know what is really best?” you might ask. The answer is simple. It doesn’t matter. What matters is not the choice you make, but rather the intention behind your choice. What matters is that whatever decision you make, you are clear in your intention of choosing based on what’s best for all. If it later turns out that you made what appears to have been a bad choice, there’s no need for guilt. Knowing that you did your best to choose with a sincere desire for what’s best for all, your conscience stays clear and open. This then allows you to more easily learn from your mistakes, and to live with a clear heart and mind.

What’s Best for Me, Too! Choosing what’s best does not mean you have to always sacrifice yourself for others. An overly exhausted mother can lose her temper easily. Some time off for this mother might seem selfish, yet in the long run, it can help her to be a better mother to her children. So as we move through each day of our lives, let us remember to include ourselves as we do our best to choose what’s best for all.

Divine Guidance

Many Meanings for Divine. Guidance can come from many sources. Yet by opening to guidance from the divine, we open to the support of powerful forces greater than ourselves. The divine has different meanings for different people, whether it be God, Creator, Jehovah, Allah, or Great Spirit. Yet even if you don’t believe in any of these, consider the possibility that there is a very wise part of yourself—a higher self or a deeper self—which can provide you with guidance. What is important is that we open to this presence, however we choose to define the divine, and that we consciously invite this powerful guidance into our daily lives.

All Requests Only if it’s Best. When seeking divine guidance with a specific result, be sure to end with “only if this is what’s best for all.” There are times when what’s best is not what’s easiest or most enjoyable. Sometimes unwanted or unexpected challenges, difficult situations, and even pain can teach us important lessons that in the long run help us to enjoy life more fully. When we choose to see all experiences as gifts from the divine and opportunities for growth and understanding, we open to a deeper level of divine guidance.

Acceptance and Understanding

Our Core Essence. Deep down we are all beautiful beings worthy of love and support. The sweet innocence of babies and young children is a clear example of this. Yet for most of us, the shining essence with which we came into this life became obscured over the years as our family and others were unable to give us the kind of unconditional love and support we so craved. As children, when we were repeatedly told that we were not good enough or were punished just for being who we are, thick layers of confusion and doubt developed, clouding our divine essence. Layers of fear and insecurity were woven into our personalities.

The Mask. By the time we are grown, most of us have developed a protective mask or persona to hide these layers of fear and insecurity from others, and at times even from ourselves. Outwardly we might appear happy or content, yet on the inside most of us to varying degrees feel unhappy with who we are. Yet beneath it all, that shining essence is still there. No matter how much we may have forgotten, no matter how thick those overshadowing layers may be, our beautiful core essence is and has always been there.

Accepting and Understanding Myself. By choosing to accept and understand all of who you are—both your deep shining essence and the layers of dark clouds within—you can invite that beautiful inner essence to shine through the clouds and to shine again in your life. When fears, dark thoughts, or difficult emotions arise, first choose to accept that they are there. Then work towards understanding these dark clouds and where they came from. Ask for divine guidance as you explore and transform these dark places.

Courage. It takes courage to accept and work to understand our fears and weaknesses. Yet by doing our best to be fully ourselves in all our strengths and weaknesses, our relationships can grow richer, deeper, and more meaningful. This may be challenging, as some people are unable or unwilling to accept certain parts of us. Yet as those around us see us becoming more real and honest with them, many will also be inspired to be more real and honest with us. Thus, instead of continually avoiding or denying those clouds or dark layers in both ourselves and others, we open to a deeper, more authentic way of living and of relating to others.

Accepting and Understanding Others. As you develop greater acceptance and understanding of yourself, you will notice that others, too, have lost touch with their shining core essence. As you work to accept and understand yourself, it is most important that you choose also to give this gift to those around you. Acceptance of what is, coupled with understanding of what we can change and what we cannot, allows us to find the courage to be all that we can be, and to empower others in doing the same.

Love and Empowerment

Let me start with myself. I will do my best to love and empower myself to be the best I can be every day of my life. By making this commitment to yourself, it becomes easier to love and empower those around you. But do you really want to give this gift to all other people? What if you really don’t like someone? In this case, you can remind yourself that it is usually a person's personality that you don’t like—the mask or dark clouds blocking their deeper essence. Remember that beneath the mask is a shining divine essence. While acknowledging those parts you don’t like, do your best to empower the shining being hidden beneath the mask or personality that you don’t like. You can choose to love and empower the divine spark within all.

Negative Judgment. Judging someone to be bad as a person does not empower or inspire anyone to be a better person. When you find yourself feeling negative judgment, first acknowledge the part of you that wants to judge—the part that wants to be right or better than others. Then do your best to learn from your judgment and let it go. Open to finding first acceptance, and then understanding and love both for you and for the person you judged. Choose to let your last thought always be that of love.

Stopping harm. What if someone does something that is clearly wrong or causes harm? In this case, be firm and take whatever action you feel is best to stop harm. Enforcing a serious consequence with someone who has acted out of extreme self-interest may be the most loving, empowering action you can take. Yet even as you take action, open to seeing the inner turmoil that causes people to do harm. You can act from a place of love and support, even while firmly stopping someone from doing wrong or causing harm. Through choosing to see beneath all of the pain, suffering, and hatred, and to recognize and connect with the divine essence within even those who would do us harm, not only do we heal the world, we heal ourselves.

Imagine… Imagine for a moment a world where all people truly did their best to love and empower each other. Imagine if a significant number of the people on this planet truly did their best to live by these simple keys. You can choose to become one of those people right now. You can choose to make your life and our world a better place. It is fully possible. There are people of all races, religions, and beliefs around the globe already committed to living by these or similar ideals. Let us then choose with an open mind and heart to add to their numbers. Let us choose every day of our lives to do what's best for all, to open to divine guidance, to accept and understand, and to love and empower ourselves and all around us to be the best that we can be.