Saturday, July 18, 2009

Sharing Our Enlightenment

At lunch yesterday, I overheard someone say "cellular phones have us so connected; we have become disconnected from one another".

So, later, a friend and I decided that we would put away our phones and devote our evening to each other, as one. As the pace and fullness of modern life serve to isolate us from one another, the contact we do share becomes vastly more significant. Even If I had decided to just ignore the vibration of my Blackberry and kept it tethered to my hip, there would have been a distraction with each disturbing buzz and my mind would have wandered to thoughts of what the call or email might be.

It is a wonderful feeling when to put away your onnection to outside communication, and not even have a sense of the time, giving ourselves completely to the person we are with.

By doing this, I was able to focus more intently on each word, expression, and intention of my friend - from the manner in which he treated me as well as those we encountered throughout our time together.

We unconsciously absorb each other's energy, adopting the temperament of those with whom we share time, and we find ourselves changed after the briefest encounters. Everything we do or say has the potential to affect not only the individuals we live, work, and play with but also those we've just met. Though we may never know the impact we have had or the scope of our influence, accepting and understanding that our attitudes and choices will affect others can help us remember to conduct ourselves with grace at all times. When we seek always to be friendly, helpful, and responsive, we effortlessly create an atmosphere around ourselves that is both uplifting and inspiring, and that same loving attitude grows within those we encounter.

Very often we neglect to give thought to the effect we have had or will have on others. When we take a few moments to contemplate how our individual modes of being affect the people we encounter each day, we come one step closer to seeing ourselves through the eyes of others. By asking ourselves whether those we encounter walk away feeling appreciated, respected, and liked, we can heighten our awareness of the effect we ultimately have.

Something as simple as a smile given freely can temporarily brighten a person's entire world, and can even be a life saving factor. Our value-driven conduct may inspire others to consider whether their own lives are reflective of their values. A kindly shared word of advice can help others see life in an entirely new fashion, and small gestures of kindness can even prove to those embittered by the world that goodness still exists.

By simply being ourselves, we influence other's lives in both subtle and life altering ways.

To ensure that the effect we have is positive, we must strive to stay true to ourselves while realizing that it is the demeanor we project and not the quality of our wondrous inner landscapes that people see. As we interact with others, the manner in which we behave can be as important as who we are.

If we project our passion for life, our warmth, and our tolerance in our facial features, voice, and choice of words, every person who enters our circle of influence will leave our presence feeling at peace with themselves and with us. We never know whose life we are affecting, big or small. We also never know whose life is going to affect ours.

Our individual journeys take us into many unexpected situations where we encounter a wide variety of people - some quite like ourselves and some very different.

We cannot anticipate these meetings, but we can make the most of them when they take place. When we are courteous as a matter of course and open minded in our assessment of the individuals whose lives touch our own, if even just briefly, we are more apt to stumble upon surprising gems of enlightenment that open our eyes to new worlds of possibility. Every person we meet can affect us profoundly, just as every situation we find ourselves in can teach us something new.

To fully embrace this fact, it is essential that we acknowledge that everyone is valuable in their own way and capable of expanding our horizons. Since we never know when we will happen upon those individuals who will unveil the truths that lie before us, we must extend to all people the same generous level of kindness, care, compassion, and understanding. When we accept that everyone we meet is special and treat them as such, we can develop a strong rapport quickly. By making an effort to adopt a positive attitude toward others at all times, we ensure that our emotions do not blind us to the enlightenment that exists, even in difficult or distressing situations.

With love & light,


Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Life's Difficult Decisions

Many of us have a hard time making decisions.

We fear that if we choose the wrong partner, we'll be stuck in an unhappy relationship. Or, if we make the wrong financial decision, we'll be stuck in a bad investment. However, there are no wrong decisions.

Perhaps we could, at times, make different choices regarding our relationships, personal pursuits, careers, or the right color of paint for our walls. Yet, regardless of the outcome, we always gain valuable experience and insights from any choice we make.

Making a decision is always better than making no decision at all. Once done, we know that we had the courage to decide, take a chance, and make a move in a particular direction. We can't take action unless we make a decision first; and a decision is never wrong because we always gain something from it - whether we get what we thought we intended or learn a valuable lesson. Sometimes, we need to follow through on a decision to realize that we don't really want what we thought we did.

Each of the many decisions we make every day has the potential to have a deep impact on our lives. Some choices touch us to our very cores, awakening poignant feelings within us. Others seem at first to be simple but prove to be confusingly complex. We make the best decisions when we approach the decision-making process from a balanced emotional and intellectual foundation. When we have achieved equilibrium in our hearts and in our minds, we can clearly see both sides of an issue or alternative. Likewise, we can accept compromise as a natural fact of life. Instead of relying solely on our feelings or our rationality, we utilize both in equal measure, empowering ourselves to come to a life-affirming and balanced conclusion.

Balance within and balance without go hand in hand. When we are called upon to choose between two or more options, whether they are attractive or distasteful, we need to understand all we can about the choice ahead of us before moving forward. If we do not come to the decision from a place of balance, we risk making choices that are irrational and overly emotional or are wholly logical and don't take our feelings into account.

In bringing our thoughts and emotions together during the decision-making process, we ensure that we are taking everything possible into account before moving forward. Nothing is left up to chance, and we have ample opportunity to determine which options are in accordance with our values and our needs.

Our perception of the traits and characteristics that make us who we are is often tightly intertwined with how we live our life and the way we make our decisions. We define ourselves in terms of the roles we adopt, our actions and inactions, our triumphs, and what we think are failures. As a result it is easy to identify so strongly with a decision that has resulted in unexpected negative consequences that we actually become that "wrong" decision. The disappointment and shame we feel when we make what we perceive as a mistake grows until it becomes a dominant part of our identities. We rationalize our "poor" decisions by labeling ourselves incompetent decision-makers. However, our true identity cannot be defined by our choices. Our essence - what makes us a unique entity - exists independently of our decision-making process.

All decisions contribute to our development and are an integral part of our evolving existence yet they are still separate from our self. A decision that does not result in its intended outcome is in no way an illustration of our character. Still, it can have dire effects on our ability to trust ourselves and our self-esteem.

We can avoid becoming our decisions by affirming that a "bad decision" was just an experience, and next time we can choose differently. We then need to avoid lingering in the past and mulling over the circumstances that led to our perceived error in judgment. Instead, adapting to the new circumstances we must face by considering how we can use our intelligence, inner strength, and intuition to aid us in moving forward more mindfully. We must not entirely avoid thinking about the choices we have made, but reflect on the consequences of our decisions from a rational, rather than an emotional, standpoint.

So, we strive to understand why we made the choices we did, forgive ourselves, and then move forward.

Life's decisions provide a valuable learning experience and is, in essence, a gift to learn and grow from. We are not bad people and we are not our decisions.

We are simply human.

With love & light,