Gratitude

“The struggle ends when gratitude begins.” ~ Neale Donald Walsch

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As we enter into the month of November, with Thanksgiving upon us, I’d like to take a moment to reflect and express gratitude.  I find myself at times feeling thankful for having any kind of experience at all, positive or negative.  It really is a miracle to be having any conscious experience.  The miracle of life is happening all around us, and it can easily go unnoticed from day-to-day.

There is always beauty to be found right in front of  us — seeing the awe-inspiring sky, the mountains in the distance, hearing the birds chirping, hearing my kids playing together.  All of these things are going on, even in what seems to be a chaotic and tumultuous political landscape at the moment.  

Sometimes I try to be thankful for what some may call the most basic things — being able to see, hear, feel, taste, smell, touch, walk, talk, think, laugh, smile.  I love being able to walk outside and feel the warmth of the sun on my face, the smell of the fresh morning air, or the coolness of the morning wind. I sometimes walk outside my door and pause for a moment, just to appreciate being alive.

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I recently came across a video with comedian Louis C.K., in which he expresses how we are lucky to even live sad moments.  Living sad moments can help us more fully appreciate joyful moments.

We can be thankful that we can cry about something we really care about. Read more

What Matters Most

“In the the end, these things matter most:  How well did you love?  How fully did you live?  How deeply did you let go?” ~ Buddha

Moments to Remember
Photo:  Moments to Remember, by Mark Keathley

I think a lot about what matters most in any given set of circumstances.  I’ve found that there’s always a deeper connection and core foundation to every interaction, whether the relationship is interpersonal or symbiotic.

Often times, I believe we lose sight of this deep foundational connection throughout our day to day interactions; specifically with people.

Everyday, like clockwork, we wake up, get out of bed, get ready, go to work or school, get off of work, maybe go to the store, pick up some groceries, put some gas in the car, go home, eat some dinner, go to bed, etc….then do it all over again the next day.  It’s often easy to get caught up in the routines of daily living.  For most, throughout our routines of daily living, it is very likely that we will have to deal with people.

Let’s take a look at Christmas.  Just this year, I observed family and friends rushing to decorate, scrambling to finish up last minute shopping, impatiently standing in long lines at the store, frantically wrapping gifts, toiling over dinner and dishes, all adding to their stress level and in the end, negatively impacting their interactions with their loved ones.  This is an example of purpose defeating behavior. We should never defeat our entire purpose for doing anything.  We need to remember the core reasons why we’re doing what it is we’re doing; and this is the deep foundational connection I am referring to.

We all tend to get caught up in the minutiae of life, we get lost in all of the small trivial details, forgetting about the person or people right in front of us.  Often times, we even tend to not see people as people.  We tend to see and treat people as a thing or obstacle to overcome.  We view other human beings as customers, clients, numbers, credit scores, dollar signs, students, panhandlers, grades….etc.

We forget to be kind. Read more

Reflections on Love

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Love.  Where language begins to break down. What many have tried to put into words.  I believe love is the most important experience in our existence. Everything we do should be rooted in love.  We try our best to describe love by making sounds with our throat and manipulating air through our mouth. That seems like a crude way to convey something so deeply profound.  Our words are merely signposts that point to something else.  That something else, is what I’m more interested in connecting with than any definition of love.  At best, a definition is important for giving us a starting point.   

There’s a lot of material out there on love — 1 Corinthians, The Five Love Languages, The Love Dare, All About Love, Love and Respect, The Road Less Traveled — to recommend a few books.  I won’t get into different types of love — agápeérosphilía, and storgē, but rather offer a starting point as the aim of this article.  If I were to offer anyone a solid, concrete definition of love, I’d point them to M. Scott Peck’s, The Road Less Traveled.

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“Love is the will to extend one’s self for the purpose of nurturing one’s own or another’s spiritual growth… Love is as love does. Love is an act of will — namely, both an intention and an action. Will also implies choice. We do not have to love. We choose to love.”  ~ M. Scott Peck

The above definition says quite a lot, if one spends enough time contemplating it. That definition is also not the most popular one. It’s important to note that according to Peck, most people confuse love with something called, cathexis. Cathexis is the process of investing emotional or mental energy into a person, object, idea, etc. Cathexis sometimes presents as the “falling in love” experience people have. Only once that experience is over, can real love begin. Read more