Life has always been a grand adventure to me and I have always believed, even through our darkest times, that the outcome of our time on this planet will be to choose goodness and love and light over darkness, fear, hatred and misunderstanding. The vehicles for us to express this positivity are wide-ranging and diverse; the common denominator is the fruits that these choices generate.
Joy and compassion are the bottom lines on the ledger sheet of life and we each get to choose whether to live in grace and compassion or fear and alienation with every thought, every action. And the moment we choose to think and act differently, we change our personal world and contribute to the positive change on the entire earth. So if we choose fear or hatred one day, we can wake up the very next day and CHOOSE to change. There's no door that closes on personal awakening and nothing that holds us back from making new choices. A whole universe of support opens to us when we align ourselves with that energy.
When my brother and sister were tragically killed last year on the same day that my mother died, I felt stripped of all illusions. If physical life can end at any minute, then how did I wish to fill my remaining time, not knowing how short or how long that may be? I wanted to throw off all the extraneous activities and time fillers and find the heartbeat of what would create the deepest satisfaction and meaning. I wanted to choose to live consciously and creatively and, most important, be present.
As with all good intentions, there needs to be some action plan to help implement it. Here's what I've come up with this past year as my current practices for being present.
- Wake up and acknowledge that you are surrounded by a loving universe.
- Help your body be healthy and vibrant with fresh air, exercise, healthy foods, stretching and breathing.
- Commit yourself to action -- to doing work that you are passionate about, to learning and absorbing new experiences, to exploring and experimenting and keeping that creative work exciting and challenging.
- Make it a practice to share laughter and good times with partners, family and friends. Spread good cheer and positive energy wherever you go, from the check-out person at the supermarket to the friend who needs a few words of encouragement or the worthy causes that need your physical and financial support. When someone is rude or impatient, practice responding with a deep breath and a smile instead of snapping or snarling back.
- Cultivate an attitude of appreciation. I now end my days by writing an appreciation list before I turn out the lights to fall asleep -- some days I am amazed at just how many happy, pleasant things I've attracted and enjoyed, from a smile and hello from a stranger to an unexpected check in the mail or an extra specially delicious bit of chocolate. It never fails to amaze me how easy it is to find moments to appreciate even on my most "out of sorts" days and how that practice actually lifts me out of a low mood to feeling more harmonious again.
That way we can look forward to each new year expanding our successes and accomplishments - and enjoy all the minutes and days and weeks and years overflowing with joy, love, creative ideas, engaged practice, successful completion, expanded prosperity, friendships, good health, vitality and well-being!
Holiday blessings to you and your loved ones.