Presence and Peace

How to Create Miracles in Your Life

72401532 How to Create Miracles in Your Life

The week of Thanksgiving 2012 has arrived with a horn of plenty filled with growth opportunities for you and me.

There will be time–perhaps too much of it–spent with family, friends or possibly alone.  There will be football and shopping, also in mass quantities.  For the blessed among us, there will be tons of calorie-laden food, although its consumption may hinge on the amount of time spent with family.

I’d like to make an unusual request:  Whatever you do, try to do it with love.

If you strictly adhere to my request, I can promise you that miracles will occur in your life.

Miracles are a shift in perception.

Students of A Course in Miracles–as I’ve been for a number of years–understand this truth, most of the time.  However, it’s possible to look at a situation and visually see an answer that you believe is true that turns out to be false.

Let me explain.

My good friend LaDonna shared a story the other day about a philosophy professor teaching his class about paying attention to the important things in their lives.  (The story might be familiar to you; this is the best version I’ve heard).

The professor begins by filling a large mayonnaise jar with golf balls followed by pebbles, sand and finally, brewed coffee.

After he places each in the jar, he stops to ask his students whether the jar is full.

Each time, beginning with golf balls in the jar, the students reply with a resounding and unanimous Yes!

Each time he proves them wrong.

He asks them to shift their perception a bit to see that although it appears the jar is full of golf balls, there is still room for pebbles to fill the empty spaces.  When it looks as if the jar is full again of golf balls and pebbles, he pours in sand to settle into the cracks between the pebbles.

Finally, when there is seemingly no more room, he pours two cups of coffee into the jar.

The meaning of the golf balls

The entire lesson is of course about life, as represented by the mayonnaise jar.  The golf balls are the biggest, most important aspects  that fill our lives–our cherished relationships and anything grounded in love.

The pebbles fill the space around our relationships–our work, school and activities that nourish us.

The sand represents the small things in life where we often place too much emphasis–the task lists, errands or TV shows.

And the coffee?  That’s the best part of the story.  The professor explains that life should never be too full to share coffee with a friend.

For me, the story is all about the golf balls and who they represent and how they are the most vital pieces that fill my jar.

Oddly enough, on one of the legs of a trip to Cleveland last week, as the pilot was landing the plane, a golf ball rolled from the back and thunked against my foot.

I asked the guy sitting behind me if it was his.  I asked the group around him as well as the flight crew while we waited for the next passengers to board.  No takers.

Then I started asking people if they golfed and wanted an extra ball.

Still no takers.

I decided to keep the golf ball as a reminder to shift my attention from what is wrong or “off” in my life to what is really important.  Love, it’s always love.

Now, I’m off in search of a gigantic mayonnaise jar . . .

May your Thanksgiving week be filled with joy and blessed with an awareness of what fills the jar of your life.

Photo courtesy of Betsy

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3 Tools to Help You Practice Gratitude

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One of the things I so enjoy is funneling really cool stuff to you.

I’m not an original thinker; what you get from me each time you read a post is my perspective on what I see or experience.  And often what I experience happens as a result of reading other bloggers’ take on subjects that are dear to my heart or simply “happening” across life tools.

Sharing them with you through the Inspirational Pipeline is a great joy.  When we share our connections, we link ourselves closer together, don’t you think?  Despite our political, economic or cultural differences, there are many topics around which we can commonly gather and perhaps in the gathering, learn more about ourselves and each other.

In that spirit, this Mindful Monday post features thoughts and tools to practice thanksgiving and gratitude.  This month, more than most Novembers, we can all use a few extra helpings of thankful appreciation.  So, in no particular order, please enjoy these links to truly great ideas about gratitude.

Why Living a Life of Gratitude Can Make You Happy

Leo Baubauta writes Zen Habits and this post about gratitude, written several years ago, is a classic.

Why should the simple act of thinking about who and what I’m grateful for make such a big difference in my life?

Just a few reasons:

  • Because it reminds you of the positive things in your life
  • Because it turns bad things into good things
  • Because it reminds you of what’s important
  • Because it reminds you to thank others

Leo gives good tips on practicing gratitude and at the end of the post, includes a perfect (his word) prayer of gratitude.  Click here to read more.

Go Gratitude Experiment

Stacey Robyn is the founder of Go Gratitude and author of “42 days of knew views on Gratitude.”  I stumbled across her site, thanks go Google (although I think Stacey would say it was synchronicity) and am perched at the beginning of a 42-day gratitude experiment.

Stacey claims that gratitude is the master key to life and says that through the next 42 days, I will:

  • feel better instantly
  • enjoy supportive, synergistic, exciting relationships
  • increase your prosperity and abundance
  • experience vibrant health
  • know peace of mind
  • supercharge your creative juices
  • magnetize the realization of your dreams 
    and goals
  • make a profound difference in the lives
    of many people
Can you resist?  I sure couldn’t and am up for the experiment.  Click here for more.

Gratitude Journal App

With the tag line “change your thoughts, change your life,” HappyTappers iPhone and iPad app is super cool.  After downloading the app to my iPhone 5, I entered my first list of 5 things I’m grateful for today.  You can pull in the app’s daily quote, add a photo, rate the day, add the weather and have fun with this visual grati-tool.

It’s been said (and proven by some) that it takes 21 days to change a behavior or attitude.  HappyTappers suggests recording daily gratitude lists for at least 30 days to see how your life changes.

It’s been featured in USA Today, Good Morning America and Oprah, so this Gratitude Journal must work.  Are you willing to try it with me?  Check it out here.

There are countless ways to practice gratitude.  Two final thoughts:  1)  Remember, it’s about practice, not perfection, and 2) You only willingness to try.  If these tools don’t work, try others.  And share them here on the Inspirational Pipeline!

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Phrases of Fear

 Phrases of Fear

I couldn’t go to sleep after the U.S. presidential election was called on Tuesday night.  My heart felt so weighed down by the sadness emanating from my Romney supporter friends.

Let me say right off that this isn’t a political post.

It’s a post about fear and I’m sharing it with you because fear seemed to be the one common denominator weaving between both parties during the election season (which seemed to stretch on ad nauseum).

Each side did its best to promote fear:  Obama’s camp stirred up images of women socially regressing 50 years.  Romney’s people stoked the fires of financial ruin for our country.

Valid as each fear may be, the sheer repetition of the messages was hypnotic and spell-casting.

Simple phrases of fear

As I write this piece on the morning after the late-night news coverage, I’m thinking of another kind of fear:  self-prophesied fear.

We say things like, “I’m afraid I will . . . ” or some variation of the phrase.

Here’s another:  “Well, I don’t know, because what if . . . ”

Check yourself to see how often today these phrases of fear (or others) cross your mind or your lips.

Do innocent words like, “I could do that, but . . . ” turn into fear-based phrases?

Perhaps (I hope!) not all the time.  But those “yeah, but” phrases can wallop the hell out of your moment-to-moment serenity.

You cannot live your present moment in mindfulness and fear.

Can’t be done.

Right Now Meditation

There’s a choice to make, thank God.  I use a tool called Right Now Meditation.  It’s a simple and easy way to quickly center yourself when your mind threatens to throw you into a potentially disastrous area.

Right now, I’m safe and warm.

Right now, I’m focused on scribing these words from my thoughts to paper.

Right now, I’m grateful for the morning beverage beside me and the hot shower that awaits me.

Right now, I feel the support of this quiet, peaceful room.

Right now, in this moment, I have everything I need to make this moment complete.  Thank you, God.

I am always filled with gratitude when I practice the Right Now Meditation.  It’s portable, so you can take it with you wherever you go!

One place I’m not going to take it today, at least right now, is the land of fearful phrases!

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B Grateful That the Worst is Over

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I had a post prepared for today, a little ditty about the month of November and gratitude; folks in recovery have a tradition of paying close attention to gratitude during this month since it coincides nicely with the 11th Step:

Sought through prayer and meditation to improve our conscious contact with God, as we understood Him.

But my little ditty post seems insignificant in the wake of Hurricane Sandy.

Last week’s super-storm along the east coast of the United States leaves massive devastation and clean up this week.  Folks in the Mid-Atlantic states start a new week bleary-eyed and dazed, many still without power and mass transit problems.

My company’s office in Manhattan was closed all of last week.  My colleagues are all okay, although I know for sure they have stories to tell of bravery, anxious days and perhaps even loss of life among friends or family.

When it comes to tragedy, New Yorkers (and by association, the good folks of New Jersey), know more than most how how the show must go on.

I’m grateful for their enduring spirits.

Tomorrow’s “other” United States event

My little ditty gratitude post about November also seems weak when, next to Hurricane Sandy, the only thing on American minds is November 6, Election Day.

One more day until this acrimonious election season is over; one more day until our television airwaves go back to being mostly regular nonsense, instead of political nonsense.

Both sides seem confident of a victory but I can’t help but wonder whether they’ve lost sight of who the real victors are supposed to be–the American people.

Both claim to know what’s best for our country; both sides believe they have a winner-take-all solution.

And yet, although Americans are mercifully released from the stranglehold of vicious campaigning, they can feel no real relief until our country settles on firmer ground.  They need–you need–solid steps toward reducing the choking national debt, increasing jobs and most importantly, shrinking the divisiveness among our people.

I’m grateful for a hopeful heart that we’re headed in that direction.

The ditty post about gratitude

In the post that I’m not posting, I wrote about with Halloween behind us, marketers would have you believe that it’s a mad dash through November toward the end-of-year holidays.

I’m asking you not to fall for the hype.  Advertisers manufacture a sense of rush when there really is no hurry.

Your holiday cards and shopping don’t need to be finished by Thanksgiving.  There will be plenty of time after the November holiday that all-too-often gets short-sheeted by rascally advertising people.

Instead, I’m asking you to breathe through each day of November leading up to Thanksgiving.  Linger over your small and large doses of gratitude.  Soak them up and draw them into your heart.

Make gratitude an action word this month.  Make a point each day to:  Express your thanks for at least three things, and do something for at least one person as a way giving back.

While these actions may not create lasting memories (although they may!), I promise that you’ll bring pockets of appreciation to your day and someone else’s.  The gift of the present moment is a fine one indeed.

Today, I’m grateful for ___________________________ (fill in the blank).  I am grateful for YOU!

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Practicing Principles Before Personalities

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My 12-step program promises that I’ll get to practice its principles in every aspect of my life.

Those principles include showing love and tolerance when someone irritates the crap out of me.  So, whether I’m at home, at work, in an airport or a grocery store, whenever there’s an opportunity to smile, nod, and turn the other cheek, I get to leap into action.

Ugh.

Don’t you sometimes just want to stay in bed so that you don’t have to play nice with people?

A code for living

My life is all about not drinking; although I don’t think about drinking, I often think about not drinking.  My code for living is meant to keep myself in a good spiritual condition so that I don’t drink.

Trust me, after 21 1/2 years of sobriety, it’s just as important to follow my code for living.  I’m not immune to slipping back into my active disease of addiction.

But since you do have to get out of bed in the mornings and interact with people, what drives you?  What is your code for living?

Your code may look different from mine, especially if you don’t participate in a 12-step program.  Would you say that you live by a set of  principles?

Do you think about how you can improve your interactions with others?

Part of my work is to improve my humanity to man and increase my appreciation of self.  That’s a heady way of saying I try not to scream or swear at you when you cut me off in traffic or when you question my ability to do my job.

It’s taken a long time in sobriety to realize that my reactions to you depend on how well I’m practicing my code for living.

When the code is clicking, every other aspect of my life is good, including my outlook of the personalities that populate my mind.

Those dreaded personalities

Do you ever dread being with certain people because you know they’re going to suck the life out of you?

It’s not about them, is it?  Remember:  personalities cannot kill your principles!

Admittedly, too much of my time is spent anticipating–and dreading–being with you, if your personality is different from mine.  There are many different kinds of personalities that rub me the wrong way and I’m not very good at practicing tolerance if that’s the case.

Personalities that exhibit large egos, insecurities, a lack of leadership if they’re leaders, a low-level of respect for anyone beside themselves–those are all types that cause me to mentally flail.

The way I see it, I have two options–hang out in silent scorn or live and let live.  The latter gives me freedom, the former kills my joy.

The bonus round

If your code is functioning well, and you really want to advance spiritually, consider praying for those dreaded personality types.  If someone is causing you grief, focus prayerful thoughts on them for two weeks and I promise that you’ll change.

Consider it the Code of Conduct Bonus.

Only people can affect the change of principles, not the other way around.  Only you can change your reaction to personalities.

Putting principles before personalities means withholding judgment.  It means not playing the sarcasm game, letting icky circumstances play out naturally and abandoning the need to insert your will into situations.

What do you think?  Are you up for trying?  Or would you rather stay in bed with the covers pulled around your nose?  Leave a note in the comments below and tell us about your code for living.

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