Thanksgiving and Gratitude

thanksgiving

 

Thanksgiving has recently been celebrated in America, an almost unique stance for a nation to take, a national day to take stock of, and be thankful for, what we have been given.

But how many passed this time in true reflection and grace, sharing a joyous time with family, and how many used it as an excuse for greed and gluttony in a similar way to which many celebrate Christmas time, succumbing to commercialism, bargain hunts and the rush for Black Friday deals and bargains.I won’t dwell on that, my intent is to focus on the broader concept of Gratitude as a daily approach to life.

Each and every one of us has reason to express gratitude on a daily basis, no matter what our station in life. At the fundamental level we can be grateful just for the simple act of breathing, we have life and therefore potential. Many will complain that their lives are in a bad place, yet there is always a blessing; nobody can descend so low that they cannot see a situation worse than their own in some way, perhaps in a different way, but nevertheless less fortunate.

It is well to meditate upon the following proverb “I used to complain about having no shoes until I met a man with no feet.” The depth of meaning goes far beyond the example given by the words.

Indeed, we would need to be in a very dark state to have nothing to be grateful for.

So what can you gain and share from being grateful and how can you embrace it?

To be grateful on a regular basis is a life enhancing experience, it will change you. Gradually all negativity fades, you become energised, limitless and at peace with yourself. The reality is that you are surrounded by abundance, whether or not you recognise it. If you can recognise it with the benefit of gratitude your life will begin to unfold, in every aspect. Thus opportunity opens up; to excel, to create, to be truly happy, to give and to love. To dwell in the miracle of life, right now.

How can you practice and achieve this state of gratitude? Here is one way; everyday for the next week, set aside a few moments at the same time each day. Whether it is before sleep (the best time), when you awake or at midday, just make it consistent. In those few moments write down three things you are grateful for over the past day. The act of writing down helps make the statements real and meaningful to the mind, far better than just thinking about them.

Highlight different aspects of your life each day, the smallest of things have as much power as the larger. For example, gaining a new job would obviously rank high, but so does opening the curtains in the morning and feeling the warmth of the sun; take joy from every moment. Write it down and realise that you have so many things to be grateful for!

And that is it, by taking these few minutes each day I guarantee you will notice a change before the end of the week. Once you feel that, you have taken another step on the road to fulfilment which will change your life.

A few minutes a day, take the challenge!

How Do We Judge Beauty?

Is beauty in the eye of the beholder, is it universal, or is beauty only skin deep? The answer depends on perspective and mental approach.

In our materialistic society, our definition of beauty has been distorted by the media. As an example we have the worship of celebrity and, certainly in the realm of women, beauty as defined by the ‘industry’ is a prime requirement. ‘Beautiful’ people are paraded and lauded on our tv screens, in magazines and newspapers.

The paparazzi hound the stars probing into every aspect of their targets lives, the more sordid, the better. Occasionally they capture a photo of a ‘beautiful’ star walking down to the local supermarket in the early morning for a pint of milk and a loaf of bread, and what do we often find? Someone who could be the girl next door; unremarkable, plain and forgettable. The images that are foisted upon us give a false sense of beauty, the ideal of perfectionism. Unreal, and yet beguiling.

The masses then aspire to the same standards. Clever marketing promises whimsical wonders through the use of their products, relating beauty to a fictional lifestyle, or one at least reserved for the few. And so the punters enter into the delusion, embarking on a mad quest for physical improvement, striving for the elusive perfect body and spending, in the USA, more on cosmetics than the space program. Until some reach the final frontier; plastic surgery. Not content with the body that creation gave them; no, they can do better.

Ego is the source of this fixation, the pathetic belief that age and death can be ignored, delayed or withheld, that nature can be improved upon, that greater beauty will make them happier, though often the opposite is true as they grow and realise the shallowness of their action. The great ego cannot be demeaned by the thought of something better than itself and holds on to a subjective view of beauty based on conditioning, the victims don’t even realise they have been brainwashed. They have neglected the beauty of the mind.

For those who begin to overcome the ego, judgement becomes more objective, they compare, evaluate and feel their own way towards appreciation of beauty. It still depends on thought and bias, for what is this appreciation based upon? Perhaps more refined, it is still governed by predefined concepts epitomised by art. But classical perception of beauty pays attention not only to the exterior, but also the inner light. It understands that nothing is intrinsically beautiful unless there is some soul to it, whether a person, a work of art, or a piece of music.

Beyond the subjective, ego based view, and the objective vision lies something greater, transcending thought itself. To be held in the natural, childlike wonder of beauty all around, in every person, every living thing and all of nature. To look beyond the exterior and to see what is eternal, the connectedness of all, the macrocosm and the microcosm all entwined in the beauty of creation. To observe a spider for example, ugly to some, and take joy in the marvel of its existence, it’s ability to weave intricate, glorious webs, to know that like us it is blessed with life, the same life force as ours, that it’s life will end as will ours, that we are no different in so many respects; we are connected.

In true reality, elevated beyond our thinking, analysing minds, free from false precepts, that is where we find true beauty. When we find true beauty we also find true love, universal, unconditional. The trinity of love, beauty and truth. If we hold the trinity within us, there is peace. Through this simple premise we can understand the state of senseless war prevalent in much of the world. Egos run rife, judging by false standards, not understanding beauty, lacking truth and hence not knowing true love.

Without the trinity there can be no peace.

It begins with beauty.

The Daily Post

 

When Life Transcends Work.

The Daily Post

Living a purposeful and fulfilled life can mean different things to different people.

There are those who are employed in a job which they enjoy or even love. Or work that they are content with, balanced with a home life filled with love, passions and hobbies. For a rare few, a career that is a true vocation; the realm of professions where one finds teachers, doctor, nurses, priests, aid workers, spiritual teachers, even lawyers and politicians, and many more who are fired with the spirit to make the world a better place. Whose hearts are in it not for the money or glory, which may be there if they want it, but for the greater good or to serve their fellow man.

Unfortunately that is not the lot for many employees. Many would quit their jobs if it was not for the necessity of paying the bills or a better job could be found. Some are trapped, any belief in a better life is long since dead; any vision beaten out of them by the system until they succumb to the false belief that this is as good as it gets. Going down the scale further are those living on social security when fit and able to work, squandering their lives, often in drink and drugs; directionless, unmotivated and consumed by a general malaise. Oh, if I had only half the time they have!

A lucky few win the lottery with a big enough sum to give up work. But how many of those fall by the wayside, after spending their millions, because there is no purpose in their lives other than materialism?

But there is another group, those who live lives of their own choosing, by design; building an inspiring business or pursuing one of the arts perhaps, living free and creatively, wanting to make the world a better place by what they create, touching peoples lives. Some make a fortune, others just enough to survive. If they are following their dreams then money is not important, only the greater goal. However they do it, life is lived on their terms.

Where am I? Somewhere between a content employee in a job I enjoy and find interesting, and the desire to live my own life, with dreams of living as a writer and artist. Is writing work? To an extent perhaps, to earn enough to live means paying attention to the business aspects. But it isn’t work in the common sense, it is a calling, a passion, something you can’t live without doing. As is often said ‘a writer would write even if he knew he would never be paid for it’. When work is done through love, it is no longer toil.

I hear, in my own circles, people discussing what they would do if they suddenly came into a small fortune. I have never heard any response other than what they would buy or not buy e.g. a bigger house, a better car. For me a large sum of money would buy freedom; freedom to follow creative endeavours, to live unconstrained by a fixed workplace waiting for the next pay-check.

Will I achieve it? I’m working on it, perhaps it is easier than I think; a question of self belief. But if I never earn enough to quit my day job it will be an enjoyable ride and retirement will be a busy and fruitful time 🙂 In the meantime, life is wonderful, I have a purpose beyond the daily tasks of life, a dream, a goal. To me, that is success!

“Today I will do what others won’t, so tomorrow I can do what others can’t’

The Daily Post

The Myth of Writers Block

The Daily Post

A third of the way through my second novel and I have never experienced writer’s block. I’m not the only one to believe it doesn’t exist.

Sure, there are times when writing doesn’t happen, my novel has been in hiatus for two weeks – other aspects of life have got in the way. But could I have written if I wanted to? Yes.

So what comes first; desire and purpose. You want to write and you have a reason; the love of writing, or to create, or pass on ideas and thoughts, to tell a story.

You’ve got the time; you make time by getting up early, switching off the TV, or just finding a regular slot. Any problem there is down to self control, determination or procrastination –not writer’s block. Those who achieve remarkable lives have the same 24 hours in a day that we all have. And you have your purpose; otherwise you wouldn’t want to write. Then, you sit down to write but nothing materialises and you call it writers block.

Writing is easy, good writing is hard work. We can all write at any time, something simple perhaps. Anybody with elementary literacy skills can write. So what is this writer’s block? You’re part way through a novel and you clam up. Perhaps you haven’t done enough planning, you’re feeling lost as to where the story is going, you don’t know what a character should do next. Go back to your plan if necessary, but then write – anything that may be the next stage of the story. It doesn’t matter if it’s wrong, doesn’t fit, or is just poor writing. Only you will see it, that’s what re-writing and editing is about. Or, write on your blog, create some flash fiction, write some poetry, write a fictitious letter of complaint, loosen up and get the juices flowing. Proving you can write, if proof were needed.

Still stuck? The main reason, I believe, for this myth, is the fear of failure. That what you write will not be good enough. We are not perfect, our writing will never be perfect, but we strive towards it, learning and improving. But we can get hung up on our feelings of inadequacy. Writer’s block doesn’t exist; it’s an excuse for our fears, nothing more.

I’ve written these thoughts from the perspective of novel writing, after my own personal struggles with some of the above issues e.g. how to start the next chapter. I have never seen them as writer’s block; procrastination, idleness, lack of drive, perhaps 🙂 If your stuck for a blog post, it’s the same thing, write. If it’s crap you may not get so many likes or comments. So what? Get over it.  A writer writes!

These are my views and my truths, they may not be yours but I hope there may be something of use to you. I have touched lightly on the subject, but if you haven’t come across them before here are some links to a coupe of excellent free eBooks, enjoy 🙂

Creative Blocks

Good Enough

Emotions

Prompted by The Daily Post;
Unsafe Containers-
Which emotion(s) — joy, envy, rage, pity, or something else — do you find to be the hardest to contain?

All negative emotions are harmful and are the product of the ego. The ego is a monster we have created by believing our thinking mind is our true self. The ego sets itself, you, apart from everybody else. It believes it is better, stronger, more attractive, wealthier, more deserving. When this is challenged, as it will be daily, the ego rises. It will fight to preserve its existence.

All negative emotions have an opposite, e.g. rage – calm, anger – compassion.

There is only one emotion which does not have an opposite – LOVE.

People speak of love/hate relationships, in such a thing there is not true love.

Love is light, hate is darkness. Darkness cannot exist in the presence of light.

Try to make love your guiding emotion.

A True Saint, from The Daily Post

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Promted by The Daily Post
‘In 300 years, if you were to be named the patron saint of X, what would you like X to be? Places, activities, objects — all are fair game.’

I would wish to go down in history as the patron saint of writing-
Writing is pure creativity, whether factual about the world we see or by the creation of new worlds that come from within. Creativity is art, and art is life. Thereby, we connect ourselves to life, and to ourselves, when we write. To write, we focus, by focussing we meditate and by meditation we become still inside and link to the universal force. The beauty of writing, compared to any other art form, is that no special skills are needed. Anybody with the most basic education and the use of words can tell a story, maybe not a best seller, but a unique story true to themselves. Writing is the simplest way for anybody to connect with their greater selves.

Writing and story telling will never die.

“Life isn’t a support system for art. It’s the other way around.” Stephen King

Two brains; Write and Edit.

2013-02-06-LeftBrainRightBrain21

When I commenced my first novel I succumbed to the urge to edit each chapter as it was finished, as a first draft. Even worse was the temptation to edit sentences as they were written.

By writing, I mean the creative act of splurging out the first draft, the ideas, and the story. It will be rough, they’ll be some good bits of writing, some excellent. But don’t hang back; the story needs to flow out.

The problem is the two halves of the brain. The right hand side which is creative, intuitive and feeling, the hiding place of the elusive muse. It doesn’t recognise time; it is the mode of processing you are using when an hour feels like five minutes. Then there is the left; analytical, dealing with numbers, critical and logical, cold and unfeeling.

The left brain is a poor cousin to the right when it comes to creativity; it stifles innovation by its critical nature. It is perfectly equipped for editing but not writing.

If you are writing and start to edit, the left brain takes over. OK, no problem, switch back to the right. No, it’s not that easy, the left is dominant, especially in men. Get into the zone, the flow; editing comes much later. Avoid any temptation to change anything, else the left brain will pounce. Immerse yourself in the story; tell it, off the cuff.

By all means, if there is a sentence you’ve forgotten, or a whole paragraph, go back and slot it in, that’ s writing, the ideas, the creative process.

As a final task at the end of writing session, and only at the end, I read what I’ve written. Who can’t resist it? That will give me the ideas for the next session, making a few notes, just a line or two. That way I don’t start off with a read back and get into editing mode.

Stephen King suggests no more than three months for a first draft for these reasons. Whether you are writing full time or part time, it’s worth bearing that in mind.