SOMETIMES THERE IS NO POINT


Here we are in the middle of the week. A time I like to pause and ponder. The quote in the picture above is great to meditate on. In all of our relationships it is important to understand the different perspectives. This can be extremely hard to do, especially when that perspective contains a strong emotional attachment. That is why topics such as money, sex, politics and religion are best avoided being discussed by those of differing opinions.
Sometimes it is not only helpful but necessary to have these discussions. Maybe your occupation is in one of the fields mentioned above? The same holds true if you are a parent talking to a child. It is especially important in intimate relationships where the more you understand your partner, the better your chances for success are. When I speak of these issues at some of my seminars or during coaching sessions one of the first questions I am asked is “How can I get my partner to agree with me?” or for the more enlightened, “How can I come to an agreement with my partner?” The answer to both of these questions is you do not have to. What the goal of such conversations should be is to come to a mutually understanding of each others perspectives and beliefs without judgment.
When you do so, you can then consider the best way to proceed that includes actions that both accept and respect both sides. I cannot begin to convey the healthy growth that will happen in any relationship when you realize, “This person views the world differently than me and that’s ok.” You will be able to better predict how a person may act or react to a certain situation. It will help you with knowledge in many areas including, but not limited to, what makes them happy, what motivates them, what will upset them and what will make them feel loved and appreciated. You can see the importance of becoming someone who does not waste their time with disagreeing with a different perspective, but instead one who seeks to understand.
When we happen to cross paths with someone who is not so enlightened (and why do these people seem to be some of the loudest and most opinionated?) we can either direct them to this blog or just calmly thank them for their opinion and move on. It will not serve them to explain that we have a different perspective and it certainly will not serve us. Be open to different perspectives. Just because you do not agree with them, do not let that stop you from using them to help you better understand and relate to others.

GROWING SPIRITUALLY, CHANGING PHYSICALLY


This post comes courtesy of a conversation I had with a friend I had not seen in a long time. After exchanging the usual “Hello how are you?” I informed the gentleman he looked healthy and good. It was an honest assertation. There seemed to be more of a content look about him. It was his response that inspired this post.
“I’m good.” the young man replied. “I’m going through some stuff and when you change spiritually, you change physically.” That quote is what we are going to discuss today. If you look at the picture above it will give you a good analogy as to what spiritual growth is like. When a snake reaches a point of growth that its current skin can no longer contain, that skin is shed. For a while during this process the snake looks as if it is literally falling apart. As it is making its transition bits of skin will cling to its body until they are rubbed off revealing a shining ‘new’ snake. After sometime the snake’s skin becomes dull and the process is repeated. Another interesting fact I discovered while doing research for this post is that this process occurs six or seven times the first year and then can slow down to once a year or less.
This process is not much different than human spiritual development. When we are beginning to grow spiritually, or shed the skin of our old beliefs, we can appear as if we are coming undone. Often, there is a lack of sleep, a look of uncertainty and a general physical dishevelment. Until, at last, you achieve a look of inner peace and balance such as this man had. That is not to say everything is perfect in your life, but that you have come to peace with who you are and how that impacts your life. There are many who may not appreciate the look of the shiny new snake, especially those who have not grown to the same state you are at, or those who consider your growth a threat to themselves or your relationship with them. Sometimes it is necessary to leave them behind much like the skin the snake sheds.
Another interesting parallel was the rate of change. Much like the snakes who shed several times in the beginning of life and then do so at a reduced rate as their life progresses, we humans grow the same spiritually. As young children we absorb knowledge like a sponge. learning and taking in new ideas and beliefs at a rate that is surprising. As we grow older our learning is balanced with responsibilities and our attachment to our beliefs. Our willingness to change them slows. This is not always a bad thing, but that means our spiritual growth can take a lot longer, but it is also a lot more dramatic.
It would be great if all of us as adults could take a few weeks off of work, travel to India and meditate and study with the Dalai Lama, or whatever other spiritual adventure calls us. We could spend a few weeks shedding the skin of our outdated beliefs and emerge with a fresh and healthy new perspective. Instead, most of us have to balance spiritual growth with work, social and family obligations and a general lack of time to pursue them. This can lead us looking like we, and our lives, are totally falling apart as we feel that everything inside is beginning to fall in place.
Remember this snake analogy when you are either witnessing someone going through their spiritual rebirth, and especially when you are going through your own. As you develop new and empowering beliefs they may not fit into your current modalities. This can seem like your life is forever trying to put a round peg in a square hole. This is not only because you have changed, but because there may be things in your life that no longer serve who you are as a person. This is also life’s way of initially testing your commitment to your new beliefs. Hang in there as soon you will too reveal the shiny new more empowered you underneath the skin of the beliefs you have outgrown.

LET US NOT CONFUSE THE TWO

Much like last post, I must begin by saying in no way am I saying any religion, or religion in general is not good. Religion gives many people structure and guidelines that often help them to grow. As Haile Selassie pointed out in the statement above, it helps them grow spiritually. It is the goal of religion to help people grow and mature in a spiritual fashion.

Many of the practices include some of the same elements although they may be used in different ways. These include, but are not limited to, prayer, fasting, meditation and study. Whether you fast for Ramadan or for Lent you fast to mature and confirm your spiritual beliefs. It is your religious beliefs that are helping you to grow spiritually. Once again, this is a similarity to remember we all have in common. The same with prayer and meditation. The exact methods may differ but the reason and result is the same – to help us grow spiritually.

If you happen to observe someone engaged in a religious practice different than your own, please keep in mind they are doing what helps them grow spiritually. Just as people may use different exercise to improve their physical bodies or different types of learning to mature intellectually, we also use different practices to grow spiritually. Let us work toward and look forward to a day when everyone can become spiritually mature no matter what their belief. It will be then that we can accept each other in a spirit of love and understanding.

WHAT WAS THEIR RELIGION?


This is one of those quotes I really love. When you think about religion it is often, if not always created after the death of its most important figures. That being the case, as it is in the three examples above, it would be impossible for the individuals to be a member of a religion they inspired. That does not make these religions any less valid or take anything away from their beliefs or practices.
What it does is allow us to step back and take a good hard look at what is the common thread that was woven through all of these great leaders, and by consequence, through all great spiritual beliefs – Love. These individuals did not preach a certain religion, but rather a set of moral principles predicated on love. Love is the common thread that flows through most spiritual beliefs. It is a force that drives many of the other principles and tenets of whatever faith you may practice. It is the driving force behind a spiritual practice. Love, combined with faith and hope make up the basis for most of the world’s religions.
Which brings me to my point, if the founder of the faith you follow based their teachings on love, how can you not do the same? Interacting with those of different faiths should we not all come with a spirit of compassion, acceptance and understanding? Those are all aspects of love. The individuals mentioned above were strong in their beliefs and certainly strong in their love. When you are filled with faith, hope and love you do not judge another. You do not say evil words towards another because they are following a different path of love than you.
Let us all belong to the religion of love no matter what organized faith we may follow.

IT IS REALLY THAT SIMPLE

For most of us, despite our differences, would fit into these categories. Ironically, often we search until we can find something that makes a person different from us. It is almost as if saying, “That person is a lot like me.” Somehow diminishes either one of you. When we understand that we all share the same basic needs and wants, judgment and hatred become all but impossible.

If you are a person who loves others and does not want to harm them, and reading a blog like this it would be a safe assumption you are, then it would serve you well to surround yourself with other like-minded individuals. Does it really matter where on this planet they are from? By writing these posts I have met and befriended many other like-minded souls from over 100 different countries. They have brought not only a unique perspective, but a great deal of joy to my life. Does it really matter what color they are? I am blessed enough to have friends of every race. Not only does it include many great and loving people, but our pictures together are a lot more colorful. Politics? Ooh…that is a good one. Quite often we can almost be at each others throats because of different ways to address the same problem. Instead we should focus on the fact that we are both trying to solve the same problem. Maybe their solution takes into account something we overlooked? Maybe a combination of both solutions would work the best? We will never get to that point if we busy ourselves with such low level minutia such as what political party is the correct one.

Even my wonderful friend Nick who sent me this picture, and by doing so inspired this post, has different opinions than me on a wide array of different subjects. Do you know what? That is great to me. Often when we talk he will bring to my attention a way of looking at things I had not considered. Even on subjects where we just ‘agree to disagree’ we still have the same respect and admiration for each other. Not only is it ok with us that we are different in some regards, but it is quite cool that we are also the same in many ways. It is that similarity that prompted him to share the above picture with me and allowed me to share it with you.

Today, celebrate the fact we are all a little different, and when it comes down to the core of who we are, most of us are really the same. Both of those should be reasons to celebrate with your fellow humans.

ARE YOU THE CANDLE OR THE MIRROR?

It took me a while to truly grasp the power of this quote. The candle represents sources of light in the world. It could be good-looking and charming authors who double as postal workers, social workers, emergency workers, great parents and teachers, religious and spiritual leaders or anyone else who inspires us or makes the world a better place. In some ways I think we are all candles, or at least have the ability to be so. In being the best at whatever we do we set an example for the world to follow. Even the shyest and most reserved of us have opportunities to be kind to others.

The mirror represents those who promote those who are candles. This can range from sharing a motivational website that inspires you with others, to showing appreciation to wonderful people who make a difference in your life. Did a teacher or coach push you to be the best you can be? By telling others that story you bring to light how special they are. This holds true for talking good about anyone. Did your spouse do something thoughtful for you? By sharing the joy they gave to you it brings more light and positivity to the world. This is a double-edged sword. Imagine what we do when we complain and share with others the terrible things people do?

I find by both being a candle to inspire others as well as a mirror to reflect the flame of the fabulous people I come across is the way that I can bring the most light into the world. Starting today, do your best to not only be an inspiration to others, but to recognize and help share those that inspire you as well.

COME TOGETHER 

Here is a story i often tell in person that for reasons i am not sure I’ve never shared here. A few years back I had a friend Nick that sadly was killed at a very young age in a vehicle accident. I had the great honor of attending his memorial service.

Here is what I walked away with that I will never forget. Nick’s mom practiced Judaism. Nick’s father was a Free Mason. Nick himself followed the Buddhist path. The service was held at the local Masonic lodge. At the service there was a Buddhist chanter and there were was a Rabbi who shared some very touching words and prayers. I was overwhelmed by the ability for all of these different faiths to come together to honor my friend.

While that was a very good and lasting memory it is sad to notice I have not seen many such examples of faiths working together. Usually the news we hear is of different beliefs battling to show which one is right, which to me leaves me appalled by all of them.

Another more secular example of this that I see daily is when emergency vehicles are coming down the street and everyone pulls over for them. After saying a few quick words for those they are going to help (a tradition left to me by my grandmother) I stop and feel grateful for all of the people doing their part to help them by clearing the way. On occasion there are those who do not get out of the way, which always leave me wondering if they would do the same if it were their loved one in need of help. Still for the most part we all recognize someone is in need of help and do our part to assist by allowing the help to get there in a timely manner.

My question is this, why do we seem to come together only at these times? Truly this proves we as people are more than capable of working together for the greater good. Personally I would like to see more of different faiths, beliefs and cultures working together to not only better understand each other, but for the greater good of us all.

Feel free to share examples you have seen of different people working together as well as any ideas you may have for that in the comments below. Also feel free to share this post as well.

ONE OF THE MOST IMPORTANT THINGS I HAVE EVER WRITTEN 

THE GOLDEN RULE. The basis of every religion and shown in this picture perfectly. I will never forget the first time I saw this picture, it was at a pow-wow I was at. I actually got chills reading it. Virtually every faith has the basic belief to treat each other as they wish to be treated. Then confusion set in. IF every faith believes this, then how come there is so much conflict between them? That is the million dollar question that has plagued man for centuries.

How can men of different faiths not only all get along, but work together to bring peace and love to the earth? By doing just that – working together. Most of us believe our faith to be the one true faith. That is fine, but understand that just as much as we would not enjoy hearing our beliefs are incorrect or spiritually lacking, neither would any other faith. It is ok for you to believe what you do and them to believe what they do, even if that happens to be different. Let us instead strive to learn what we can from each other and to view each other with love and compassion.

There were lots of universal truths presented here in this blog this week. If you have not had a chance to view them I invite you to do so. There are quotes that have inspired me from at least 3 different faiths. My apologies for those faiths I did not quote from, I promise in the future I shall show some amazing inspiration from yours as well. Which is what this is all about. We can learn so much and accomplish so much more by working together than we can focusing on our differences. The above example of the golden rule is but one example of the basic truths we all hold dear. The more you search, the more you will find. Sure, there will be differences and we must treat those with respect. As long as it does harm to nobody, we should all be free to believe and practice as we do. Our ritual may be different, our wording may be different, but our love can still be the same.

EVERY LIFE MATTERS


Yesterday the world lost a great, and one of my favorite actors. Gene Wilder was a comic genius who happens to be from my hometown. So how did this man change the world and what can we learn from him and the life that he led? Born in 1933 he was coming of age just as a world war was coming to a close, the depression had just ended and the economy was just starting to pick back up.

Mr. Wilder chose to live his gift in that circumstance and give the world what it needed, a reason to laugh. He stared in and co-wrote movies with Mel Brooks both of them showing through comedy the virtues of a race that had just been persecuted. Gene Wilder was good and living a role and developing the characters he played. He stared in several of my favorite movies and has brought joy to several of my days.

Here is the point I am making, some people may look at this man and say “All he does is make people laugh what is so special about that?”. Perhaps people say something similar about you, or maybe you even find that you say that about yourself? I have heard things from friends and people at my seminars like “I’m just a stay at home mom.”. Just a stay at home mom? You are raising the next generation and you somehow have been lead to believe that is no big deal?  Are you a good friend? Do you help around the house? Do you serve customers with a smile? Everyone is good at something and that something can change the world. Maybe it just will change the world of those you know, maybe your actions will have a ripple effect and go on to change lives you may never know. My point is the best way of doing this is living the person you are at the very core. If there is something you enjoy and are naturally good at that is where you should go. It is there you can make the biggest difference.

So let us all use the passing of this great talent to remind us that we are all great talents. We all have something great to bring to the world. Feel free to share or tag anyone you know has a great talent to remind them that they change the world.

SUNSHINE WARRIOR 


After learning and teaching ways to be more positive in life I have come to a important conclusion – it is a constant struggle – for anyone who has embarked on this journey this is not too shocking. When you make the decision to live a more positive, loving and passionate life something strange happens. At first people pat you on the back and say things like “good luck” and “that’s great”. It all starts off well and good. Fast forward at most a week or so and things change. People begin to get less comfortable with your decision. I’m not sure why this is.  I have a theory or two. Perhaps they realize how much their own lives are not full of joy and fulfillment. Perhaps in some strange way they feel if you succeed it somehow means they fail.  Another interesting thing people tend to do, even well-meaning people, is they begin to show you examples of how dark the world can be. You begin to hear things like “How can you be positive when ___ happens?” or look how bad the world is getting and they sight some recent negative event the media is feeding off of. The truth is there is good and bad in the world. Light and dark. Positive and negative. Whether you are spiritual, or not that is easy to see. You meet nice people and experience nice things and you also face challenges and meet people so unpleasant conversations with them leave you wanting a shower.

So what side are you going to be on? Make no mistake, what you choose to focus on decides a great deal of your life. What meaning you assign to things decides how they make you feel. This is the most important decision you can make in your life. Why? It determines how you feel. There will always be wins and loses what they mean to you will determine how they affect you. If you believe the world is out to get you and always to expect the worst you will feel one way. We all know some people who actually do not allow themselves to be happy even when something good happens. They always look for what could go wrong. I knew a man who won an all-inclusive vacation. I was happy for him, but he did not seem so happy. “Yeah, but I have to pay the taxes” he informed me. The taxes amounted to $100. He, and his wife, were going to Jamaica airfare, hotel, meals and cocktails for a week for $100 and he was sad. These are the people who fall victim to the world around us. The negative mind programing we see on TV, online and in the papers everyday. Still, we all know people who remain happy no matter what. If they get a flat tire they muse that it may have prevented them from being in an accident further down the road. Some people call this naïve, but it is no more fanciful than focusing on the negative.

So what side do you find yourself on? Daily in the news we hear of tragedy, hateful speech, how the environment is falling apart, how morals are decaying and a host of other dark and negative events. Seldom to we hear about the people that come together to help the victims of violence, a new inspiring speech that was given, or how some high school students are coming together to clean up a river. These things are not ‘good news material’ they do not sell.

So what do I believe? What does the man who brings these words to you think? Here is what I believe. Make no mistake, your joy, your well-being, your very spirit is under attack. We are in the eye of a hurricane of hate and negativity. The world has become darker in many ways. I think a lot of that is owed to the focus on what is wrong in the world. It has dimmed the light of hope in the hearts of many. Which is why my motivation for writing only grows stronger. We need more people to spread joy, to focus on what is just, good and right. We need more healers of all kind. We need people to bring us together to stand against those trying to tear us apart. Before you jump to sign up let me assure you of one thing, this is not for the faint of heart. In order to be a source of light in a dark world you must be brave. You will find yourself ridiculed. You may often find yourself being attacked by those closest to you and on occasion even standing alone. Many souls find themselves negative and uninspired because today that is the easy way. To be an inspired soul and even greater to inspire others takes courage, takes inner strength and not everyone is up for that.

If you find yourself disgusted with both what you read and see in the news as well as on the streets I urge you to become a sunshine warrior. Put on the armor of positivity. Be warned, however, we are out numbered and the fight will be both long and difficult. You will not come out unscathed. The reward for this fight is your life, and the lives of those you care about and come in contact with. Whether we live in a world of darkness or a world of light depends greatly on whether we choose to join this fight. There will be many who will complain about the world as is, but there will be very few who are brave enough to do their part to change it.

If you find yourself tagged in this post you are a sunshine warrior. Do your part and share and tag those you feel show the courage to bring light to our world.