Happy Holidays everyone! For those of us who are aware of the abundance of holiday celebrations that occur during December around the world, it’s easy and SMART to admit how appropriate that greeting is for us all. It means no disrespect to anyone, and instead acknowledges that different people experience different ways to find meaning in their world. In fact, even if you have a favorite way to celebrate, acknowledging with love, kindness and compassion the diversity among us, just might be the most spiritual and enlightened way to celebrate and enjoy the season. [Read more…]
Let’s admit it—all of us love to get and give gifts. Just the idea of unwrapping a brightly adorned present stimulates the possibility of finding our dreams fulfilled. Giving can be equally rewarding—with a sweet anticipation of connection and recognized love and appreciation from the receiver. Unfortunately, much of the time the gifts we are given fall far short of our expected dreams. At the same time, those we lavish gifts upon, often seem less than appreciative and oblivious to our hoped-for connections. But when you think about it, maybe the fault isn’t in the desire to give and receive. Instead, chances are it’s our routine and unconscious expectations of the season—and/or the less-than-altruistic manipulations of retailers. That’s why it might be time to start rethinking all gift-giving in a brand new SMART way—and start enjoying Christmas even more.
One of the shortest and sweetest paths to a happy and fulfilled life is the daily practice of giving thanks. From one perspective, no other single spiritual practice is more universally accepted than the idea of being consistently grateful. Not only is gratitude a fundamental element in most spiritual traditions, it is also an ongoing, reoccurring theme in most self-help, inspirational and motivationally focused books on the market. Even science is jumping on the bandwagon and has begun to study the practice of gratitude as a way to increase the health and quality of a person’s life on many levels. Simply put, being thankful 365 is the most important activity anyone can practice, at any stage of life, to create a happy, healthy and contented life.
How many times have you seen a movie or listened to a story where a person has an angel on one shoulder and a little devil on the other? This example is classic because it’s universal to us all. At any given time, on any given day, we have either the voice of our higher more compassionate self who is whispering in our ear—or we have that part of us that is most selfish, small-minded and paranoid sitting on the other. The image of two little selves fighting for our attention is one that is graphically easy to remember. Which do you listen to the most?
I recently read an interview of a man named James Roberts who is the author of a new book entitled, Shiny Objects—Why We Spend Money We Don’t Have In Search Of Happiness We Can’t Buy. It’s a great title and I’m sure there are very few people who would disagree with what it says. But while we may agree with that statement, most people continue to try to buy happiness every single day. Not only do a large number of people spend money trying to buy stuff they don’t need or oftentimes even use, many actually go into debt in the process. Others spend money so indiscriminately they might as well throw it out of a speeding car window. So, what’s the deal with money? And what are we searching for that we think money can buy?
What did you notice when you woke up this morning and started your day? Was it beauty? If you’re anything like me, you might not see much of anything until after a cup of coffee. But once my eyes begin to focus, I attempt to make a regular habit of looking at the beauty I see all around me. Actually, I believe that seeing beauty all around us is a habit we can all develop to create a happier life.
One of the best-known quotes about happiness comes from President Abraham Lincoln. He said, “A person is about as happy as he makes up his mind to be.” That’s right, Lincoln, who was said to be the most respected and loved of any American President basically implied that my happiness, and your happiness, is up to us. But why don’t more of us accept that as true?
Yesterday evening Carlsbad, California began its Annual Music Festival with a free Village Music Walk. Similar to free art walks held regularly in cities around the county, the music walk was an introduction to the music to be performed at different venues over the weekend—and just like most art walks—it was absolutely free. Now, most of us know deep down that the best things in life aren’t “things.” But until we stop, think about it and then start enjoying the many free experiences that bring us joy, we might be missing out on the good right in front of us.
We are all creatures of habit. Don’t believe me? This morning Facebook came out with yet another change to its layout and the comments are: “If I was Facebook’s mom I would ground it for a month.” Or: “HATE: the new Facebook Newsfeed,” or “How do you like the new Facebook layout? So far I can’t stand it! Boooo Hiss Facebook, Boooo Hiss!” Unfortunately, while habits can make our lives easier in many cases, it is also a recipe for a life of boredom, routine and a diminished creativity and brain capacity. When you know the facts, you might consider that Facebook is doing us all a favor.
There is an old Zen story that uses the comments, “Where are you going? Don’t know,” to make its point. For those who may not know, Zen is an ancient spiritual practice related to Buddhism that frequently uses stories, parables or “koans” to explain and deepen its teachings among followers. Many koans are paradoxical and used to shock the mind into enlightenment. So, when you hear a Zen Koan for the first time, it may not make any sense at all. However, at exactly the right time and place, the truth behind it suddenly becomes clear. That’s what happened for me after a few recent events.