Live with purpose

“A person should set his goals as early as he can and devote all his energy and talent to getting there. With enough effort, he may achieve it. Or he may find something that is even more rewarding. But in the end, no matter what the outcome, he will know he has been alive.” Walt Disney

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Open Heart Meditation

After reading about the Open Heart study in the book Positivity I decided to begin a practice of Open Heart Meditation.  I decided to commit at least 90 minutes a week to the practice.

I began my commitment by seeking out various open heart meditations and loading them on my phone so that I could listen to them easily.

I also decided to give myself permission to do the meditations lying down.  I find I get distracted by pains in my body when I am sitting.  My ultimate objective is to move my practice to the sitting position, but in my learning and habit forming process I am going to make it as easy as possible for me to stick to my 90 minute commitment.

My first meditation was one whose goal seemed to be to connect me with the feeling of an open heart.  It was easy for me to do.  I had so many recent joyful, heartful memories to draw from.  Smiling broadly and freely was natural when reconnecting with the feelings of my full heart.  I happen to practice the mediation when I was feeling a little confused about myself and a particular relationship.  I ended my meditation with a huge smile, a heart full of gratitude and love and a focus on all that I love and appreciate about the relationship I had been questioning.  All my questions were answered and my confusions gone – because this relationship was the source of all the smiles in my meditation and I knew, that this relationship is overflowing with love, and joy and acceptance…and this is what is most important to me.

Me second meditation was a heart strengthening meditation.  It directed me to connect with the feeling of my heart, to open myself to love, to give gratitude to all my blessings.  It was beautiful and left me feeling peaceful, open and willing and wanting to receive all the gifts of the world with appreciation and intention.

I now look forward to my meditations.  I find they open my world and give me perspective, much like going for a hike in the mountains.   I have only been doing the meditations for about 10 days, and although I do notice a difference in my perspective on days I do them, I am not sure how long lasting the changes I experience are.  I look forward to continue to grow, learn and notice how my prevailing perspective changes as I continue to practice the meditations consistently.

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I experience what I nurture.

“One evening an old Cherokee told his grandson about a battle that goes on inside people. He said, ‘My son, the battle is between two wolves inside us all. One is Evil (Negativity). It is anger, sadness, stress, contempt, disgust, fear, embarrassment, guilt, shame and hate. The other is Good (Positivity). It is joy, gratitude, serenity, interest, hope, pride, amusement, inspiration, awe, and above all, love.’  The grandson thought about it for a minute and then asked his grandfather: ‘Which wolf wins?’ The old Cherokee simply replied, ‘The one you feed’”.

I have come to realize that the love, joy, happiness and fulfillment I experience in my life depends completely on my perspective.  I get to choose what meaning I attribute to what I experience.  Do I see challenges as road blocks or as opportunities to learn?  Do I judge or do I seek understanding?  Do I fear or do I love.  I get to chose and my choice has powerful implications on my life.

I have been taking the positivity test for a little over two weeks and apparently I do live in “positivity”.  I am flourishing.  I seek love in most situations.  I approach most challenges with curiosity, and even excitement.  I have learned to stop, to take a breath, and to check in with my perspective…which wolf am I feeding?  I have a clear intention.  I will feed the positive wolf. I will feed joy, gratitude, serenity, interest, hope, pride, amusement, inspiration, awe and above all love.

I have found that amusement and gratitude are two of the most powerful “foods” for my positive wolf.  Humor reminds me that humans are pretty silly, thinking small things are so important.  Gratitude fills me with love and connects me with all the beauty and joy I experience every day.  Happiness is lived moment by moment, and when I remember what I am grateful for I bring many moments of happiness into my world.

But what of anger, sadness, stress, contempt, disgust, fear, embarrassment, guilt, shame and hate?  Certainly these emotions find their way into my world…and there are times when I feed them.  There are moments when I mull over the same negative thought over and over and over.  I am like a the car stuck in the mud, spinning my wheels, running the thought in my head with the pretense of going somewhere, but the awareness that I am only digging myself into a deeper hole.

I know what is happening.  I am aware.  I get to choose in the moments what path to take.  Will I call on one of the exercises I know will get me out, or will I keep spinning.  More and more frequently I find I have the ability to make the choice to get out of the mud – to reach into my tool box.   I begin by asking myself questions.  What am I feeling?  What do I want – what needs are not getting met?  What do I have?  What do I love?  What might be going on outside of my knowledge and personal experience?  How can I learn?  Understand?

I find that most of my negative thoughts come from judgment of my situation, and if I can turn the situation into a learning situation I can reverse the negativity and move into positivity.

Recently, in reading the book Positivity and The How of Happiness, I am realizing the important of quiet moments of reflection.  I have begun experimenting with the “open heart” meditations and yoga in my daily life.  I find that these activities quiet my mind and fill my heart with gratitude and joy.   I find that the openness and peace these activities bring me stay with me for much of the day.  Somehow, I seem better equipped to remember to breath and to reflect and ask questions before judging.

I am realize that intentional appreciation of others lightens my heart and deepens my relationships, and so I practice acknowledging and thanking those around me regularly.  This is something I have to do consciously, with intention, so that it becomes a habit.

Random acts of kindness also feed my positivity by making me feel connected to my fellow human beings, whether I know them or not.   By reaching out and supporting my fellow worldly beings I feel my oneness with all that is.  I feel my heart open and expand.  I feel comforted letting others know that I have noticed them and that I care about who they are and how the experience the world, even if all I knowingly share with them is the oxygen we breath, the knowledge that they feel – as I feel,  and that we all wake up every morning and live our life as best we can.  My random acts of kindness to me, are an acknowledgement that, just as every drop of water in the ocean,  we are all in this together, we all depend on each other and we all affect each other, whether we are conscious of it or not.

Engaging in activities which are interesting, challenging and meaningful to me increases my positivity.  Activities which challenge me physically or mentally require my complete focus, interest, curiosity, creativity & and belief in a solution for every challenge.   Basically I become ignited – my passion is erupts.  My confidence is called upon and emerges as a strong bright flame.  My perspective becomes huge and positive.  I know the solution exists and I am excited to use all my strengths to find it.   This high has long lasting effects and may bring confidence, excitement, passion and focus into activities and relationships for days after my engagement.

I have many ways to nurture my positive wolf.  I realize that I feed my negative wolf without thinking and that feeding my positive wolf instead is something which takes conscious living, awareness, focus, willingness, intention, action.  And so perhaps the most important “tool” I can draw upon is mindfulness and savoring of my experience , because if I live mindfully I will be aware of my moment to moment experience – opportunities for gratitude, kindness and challenge and I will be aware of the choices I make which determine which wolf I feed,   Negativity or Positivity.  I know that within a fully conscious life I will choose to feed Positivity.

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All About Happiness

This 20/20 video segment on Happiness is well worth watching.  It comes in 4 parts.

Part 1: The Happiest Place on Earth

Interesting that the happiest place on earth also has one of the highest tax rates – you could say peoples happiness is subsidized.

Watch all 4 parts here

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Open Heart Meditation

Can meditation improve my relationships, my health, and my effectiveness.  Will it lead to a more fulfilling, joyful, positive life?  The Open Heart study conducted by Barbara Fredrickson (and relayed in her book Positivity) tells me YES! The study showed that only 90 minutes of “Open Heart” meditation a week led to significant gains in mental, emotional, social and physical “resources”.    Participants were better able to attend mindfully to the present and savor events in their lives.  They became more accepting of themselves and saw their lives as more purposeful.  They were able to forge deeper and more trusting relationships and feel the support of those close to them.  They were physically healthier.

Open Heart meditations are focused on connecting with and opening the heart to positive feelings –  joy, love, inspiration, awe, hope, gratitude, pride, amusement, serenity and interest. This is powerful for me.  This is exactly what I want in my life – to be mindful and to savor my every moment, to accept and appreciate myself and others, to connect deeply and meaningfully, to see and create the meaning and purpose of my life, and to be aware of it in every action I take,  to have a healthy, strong, thriving body, so that I can BE all that I want to be and experience the marvels of this world with strength and freedom.

I have struggled with Meditation for many years.  On and off I have welcomed it into my life.  Committed to some sort of practice.  5 minutes a day, 10 minutes a day, listening to guided meditations.  It all feels good, but it never lasts.  I mean, my practice of it never lasts.    I’ve often asked myself why.  WHY?  can’t I stick to something so simple.  The answer has always jumped out at me…why?  because I didn’t believe in it.  I didn’t believe I needed it.  I didn’t believe it would make a significant enough difference in my life for me to give it the time of my day.  THERE I said it.  I admit it.  This has been my perspective “Meditation is great for many, but not for me.”

That was then.  Now? I feel the meditation juice is seeping into my blood.   Clearly, beyond all doubt, positivity makes my life better.  Clearly I function better in my relationships, my work, my thought process and clearly my life is more full of joy, connection and love, as I become a more positive being.  If meditation can fill me with positivity I am all for it!

I was so inspired by the stories of the open heart meditation study that I immediately searched for guided meditations on the internet, downloaded them onto my phone and started listening to them.  I even have done two meditations in one day!  I love that the meditations are short (10-20 minutes) making it easy to fit them into my day…and yes, they fill me with peace, serenity and love.  I am excited.   I know the more I practice this, the more I will experience the rewards it brings and the more I will be motivated to continue to practice.

What will it take to make this commitment stick?  It will take me being aware of how this is feeding me.  It will take me being aware of how this creates the life I want for myself.  It will take me committing to the behavior long enough to experience it’s rewards (at minimum 3 weeks according to Fredrickson).  I’m doing it!

I am committing to practicing “Open Heart” meditations, using the guided meditation I have downloaded on my phone, at least 90 minutes a week.  This commitment will build joy, love, and peace in my heart.  It will empower me to be the best me in my relationships with other people.  It will teach me focus, mindfulness and appreciation.  Meditating will support me in my goal to bring peace and acceptance into the world and to create a joyful and united world around me.

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Love and War and Love Again

I am wondering how I ended up here, on Christmas, watching young mens bodies being blown into pieces.  I’m crying…deep sorrowful hopeless tears.   A battlefield of World War I is being acted out in larger than life images and sounds over my head.  Smoke, fire, screams, fill the air.  I can barely breath. 

What a horrible scene to witness, today of all days.  I hide my face in my daughters trembling sobbing chest.  She’s repeating her brother (my son’s) name over and over, Carter, Carter…I know she’s imagining him in this bloody battle…now I am to.  More violent tears burst forward.

I force myself to watch the next war scene, to find my reason, my reason for being here…there is always a reason.  The more challenging the situation, the more powerful the opportunity for profound insight.

I am thinking. “this is the antithisis of Christmas.”  “This is what happens when people hold onto idea’s & principles and let go of love.  This is what happens when people believe winning is more important that learning, having is more important than knowing, thinking is more important than loving.  This is what happens when people hate, judge and covet.”

Jesus taught love, compassion, empathy, acceptance and peace.  Through love only would war would end and peace reign.  By loving one another we would experience unconditional forgiveness, acceptance and love and we would live forever in heaven – a loveful land where anything is possible.

and all of a sudden I realize I am exactly where I need to be right now.  In fact, there is nothing more important that I could be doing and no experience more full of the message of Christmas than this reminder of war.

For this is the consequence of a people who forget love – this war.   Right now, there are people living in war.  While I sit here surrounded by people I love, who love me, while I sit in this comfortable chair, my car waiting for me on the street to take me safely back to my beautiful home, my sparkling christmas tree, with a pile of presents under it, my refrigerator full of Christmas yumminess….right now there are people suffering because of hate and fear and greed.

And right now I have the power to change that.  It’s called love.  Love is the only power in the world strong enough to overcome fear, hate & greed.  Love’s power is insurrmountable.   Love is a gift from the heaven’s, given to us to bring peace to our world and to create a world of infinite opportunities for all.  Love creates miracles.

War Horse is the story of a horse, war, and love.  The “horse” moves through the lives of people on all sides of the war…an english country boy, a distinguished english calvery officer, two young german soldiers, a young french girl, an older beaten down german soldier.  The horse doesn’t know “sides”, but he does know love and all those who handle him love them.  His owners may live, they may die, it’s irrelevent really.  All that matters is that when they live, they love.  It’s their love which creates the miracles of love and peace.

In any moment a war may rage around us, but when we hold love in our intention and attention and let it guide our actions and our interactions we will live in love and for that moment the war will dissappear.  Tie enough moments and enough lives together and the world will live in love and war will have no battlefield to exist on.


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It’s been 3 months and what have I done?

It’s been 3 months since I began the last year of my life (exercise).  What have I done?

Honestly, I don’t think about it much, except when I think, “I’m not thinking about this much.”

But has it changed my life?  Yes!

Perhaps I haven’t been thinking about living the last year of my life, but I have been living.

My choices have been clear, with intention and meaning.  I am living with freedom, choosing every moment, celebrating every moment, aware of the significance of every moment and it is FANTASTIC!

My life is amazing.  I swim in joy, happiness and love.  I am doing exactly what I want to be doing in every moment of my life.  It’s exhilarating.  I pinch myself constantly.  Is this real?  Why the hell did it take me soooo long to realize how good life is?

How is it I am this blessed?  Why me?  I lived a privileged blessed life and I am soooo appreciative of all that I have.

With 9 months left in my year, I do believe it’s time to focus on some things…writing more…remembering French…learning to hoola hoop…getting strong on my bike…learning to play guitar…spending more quiet time in the woods…I am committed to making these things happen… and also to continue PLAYING with life, LAUGHING with life, LOVING like there is only today!  Because, after all….as far as any of us know, there is only today.

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