Create Abundant Grace
Each morning, upon waking, brings a new opportunity to be aware of our own personal bounty and to be grateful for the abundance in our lives. So much to be thankful for, for...good health, love, family, friends, life, democracy, shelter. At times of stress and turbulence, it’s all too easy to lose ourselves in the urgent demands of day to day living. At these moments of anxiety, it's even more important to remember all that we have within ourselves, our time, our possessions, our love.
Personal grace can seem elusive, yet all that’s really needed is awareness and openness. Throughout the year we plant the seeds and nurture the growth of friendship, career opportunities, health, and spirit. We also must enjoy the harvest. Give ourselves credit for putting in the effort. Fortify yourselves with fond memories of what’s going to happen, flourish in the now, and joyfully anticipate what’s to come.
I was introduced to a book entitled CEO of Self: You Are In Charge, by former presidential candidate Herman Cain. Cain theorizes that your job in life is to be in charge of your life. Makes sense to me - what better way to impact your personal happiness and success?
The three basic job requirements are:
1. Something To Do
2. Someone To Love
3. Something To Hope For
Of these three critical components, Cain argues that the third - hope - is the most important. We all must hope and believe in something. Keeping the faith, being aware and grateful…ahh. Now we’re getting somewhere.
We’ve all been reading quite a bit about the inspiring life of Steve Jobs, who constantly challenged others to dare to dream that they actually had the power to change the universe. The Universe! It seems so daunting that it borders on the ridiculous, but I am taking it to heart, and intend to improve global well-being one person at a time. I’ll start with me, as my health is mine! You take charge, too.
Here are the some of his words of wisdom:
1. Do What You Love
Jobs once said “People with passion can change the world for the better.”
2. Put a Dent in the Universe
Jobs believed in the power of vision. He once asked then-Pepsi President John Sculley “Do you want to spend your life selling sugar water or do you want to change the world?”
Most of us live in a world of abundance, which we frequently take for granted. I am often reminded of this as I take a hot shower, and realize what a luxury it is! And I am grateful. It would be difficult, if not impossible, to maintain a constant awareness of all of our blessings, but carving moments of gratitude is important. At the very least, I suggest writing your own personal grace and offer it for the first time on Thanksgiving. This is a wonderful restorative exercise because you must carefully consider those things for which you are truly grateful.
I’d also like to share the following thoughts on gratitude from Sharon Salzberg, which have been adapted from her book and CD The Force of Kindness:
- Before a meal, take a moment and reflect on those far-flung people involved in your enjoying that meal–the people who grew it, the people who transported it, stored it, and prepared it.
- Before a meal, reflect on the earth, and the sun and rain and all that nourished that food so it could nourish you.
- Think of a friend or family member who is difficult, but whom you love anyway. Examine the dynamics of that relationship and how we might care for someone and still honestly see the difficulty.
- Stay open to surprise. Roles and relationships are constantly changing. Reflect on how we go up and we go down all the time.
- Pay attention as you are offering help or aid to someone. What emotional or spiritual benefits are coming to you in return?
- Practice loving kindness meditation for all beings.
Kindness benefits everyone - the one who shows kindness, the lucky recipient, and the community as the generous energy is paid forward. Kindness has a ripple effect. It has the magical ability to cause even those who have witnessed the act to spontaneously feel good. When you make the decision to be a kinder person, you are effectively bringing about positive social change.
Allan Luks, a leader in social change and advocacy, states “the new knowledge about [the beneficial effects of] helping others holds the power to affect not only the health of the individual but the health of our entire, tension-ridden society”.
The benefits mentioned in his book The Healing Power of Doing Good are:
- A more optimistic and happier outlook on life
- A heightened sense of well being
- A sense of exhilaration and euphoria
- An increase in energy
- A feeling of being healthy
- Decreased feelings of loneliness, depression, and helplessness
- A sense of connectedness with others
- A greater sense of calmness and relaxation
- Increased longevity
- Better weight control
- An improvement in insomnia
- A stronger immune system
- A reduction in pain
- Increased body warmth
- A healthier cardiovascular system (reduction of high blood pressure, improved circulation, reduced coronary disease)
From Paul Pearsall, PhD in Psychology, Author of The Pleasure Prescription
“Modern research shows one of the most pleasurable of all human acts is also one of the healthiest things you can do for yourself and for others. Gently, caring selflessness results in significant health benefits.”
From: Larry Dossey, MD, Author of Meaning & Medicine:
“Altruism behaves like a miracle drug and a strange one at that. It has beneficial effects on the person doing the helping - the helper’s high; it benefits the person to whom the help is directed, and it can stimulate healthy responses in persons at a distance who may view it only obliquely.”
As For Me,
I view my life journey as a constantly evolving process. I am proud of all I have done, personally and professionally, and I never want to stop striving to do better. Keeping the faith, being active and aware, feeling gratitude, practicing kindness. November is here, and I once again plan on applying Rilke’s advice from Letters
To a Young Poet:
“I could give you no advice but this:
to go into yourself and to explore the depths where your life wells forth”