Love yourself first

Whenever you have thoughts about yourself that make you believe that you’re not enough, immediately stop and change those thoughts to something positive and uplifting.  You are perfect in the eyes of your creator just as you are and you already have all that you need inside of you to feel whole and share your love with the world.  Tap into that never ending well of love inside of you and use it to push back on any external influences that want to rob you of your power to love yourself.  By doing this and reconnecting with yourself at your soul’s level, you open the floodgates of love to share with others.

Reclaim your joy

Joy is our birthright.  Our creator made us and the entire universe with joy in their heart, and since we are an individual expression of our creator, we came into the world with joy already inside of us.

Often, we unconsciously find ourselves suppressing the joy that wants to burst forth from us by allowing our minds to take over and craft negative thoughts and scenarios that cloud our ability to remain humble and see the good in everything.  We engage in low energy habits such as overthinking about something from our past and ruminating on possible outcomes to situations that haven’t even happened.  Often, we find ourselves complaining to anyone who will listen to us or engaging in gossip about someone.  Participating in these low energy, ego dominated acts temporarily soothes us by providing a false sense of entitlement and superiority that makes us believe that our judgements are always correct and that we are always  in control.  This is an illusion.

The source of each one of these traps or behaviors has its roots in resistance.  Resistance to what is or to how things really are at this moment makes us act in ways that perpetuate a circular vortex of negative thoughts, and these thoughts destroy our peace.  Without peace in our hearts, it’s impossible to have real joy in our lives.

Let’s begin our journey back to joy by starting each day with gratitude in our hearts.  Say thank you the first thing upon awakening.  When we have gratitude for our surroundings, our health, the food that we eat and the clothes that we wear, we transmit to the universe a high energy vibration that attracts more of those good things into our circumstances.  As we move throughout our days and are consciously grateful for and accept that what we want may not unfold in a straight line fashion or as planned, we become a beacon of peace and joy to those that we encounter.  Lastly, before we go to sleep, let’s say thank you again for our day and all that we experienced.

Cultivate a mindset of service.  Engaging in service to others transports us to the root of our existence, which is to be a beacon of compassion and assistance to the world.  A simple offering of helping someone to cross a busy street, volunteering in our communities or really listening to someone when they need to talk makes us feel like we’re helping and are needed, increasing our joy and encouraging us to perform these acts more often.

Our lives are lived in a moment by moment fashion and some of those moments are better than others, depending on the lens that we observe them with.  How we prepare for the inevitable challenges that arrive in those moments determines how joyful we are while we are dealing with them.  While our first instinct may be to run from a challenge, confront that urge and push through it until the challenge is solved.  The more challenges that we face and successfully handle, the more self confidence we have and the more joyful we become.

We have control over our thoughts and how we respond to them.  If we make a conscious effort to replace negative thoughts with positive thoughts, we change the way we view and interact with the world.  This change in our viewpoint positively changes our interactions with everything and everyone.  If we remain positive no matter what is occurring around us, joy has no choice but to find us.

Joy is the fundamental component that binds our humanity together, and how we interact with and treat ourselves and one another is a function of the joy that we have in our hearts.  Reclaiming our joy delivers love and acceptance and eases suffering.  Let’s make a conscious effort to grow and extend our innate joy to the world.

Extending Compassion

I used to believe that compassion and empathy were the same thing, but I had an experience a few weeks ago that changed my thinking.

The city that I live in has been experiencing a crisis around homelessness for some time and some decisions that have been made surrounding where homeless people are allowed to camp were made with the best intentions, but the realities of some of those decisions have fallen short of expectations.  Before, the encampments were quite large and were located in just a few spots in the downtown area, but today they’re spread out in many areas away from the center of the city, are smaller and they look quite crowded.  As I’ve noticed them, I’ve wondered to myself about the quality of life of the people that live there, where they’re practically stacked on top of one another in noisy and chaotic environments.

On a recent Monday, which is garbage collection day in my neighborhood,  I walked into the alley behind my home to collect the emptied garbage bin and bring it into my backyard for storage.  I noticed a homeless man sitting next to my garage and he looked at me warily and seemed fearful.  I said hello to him and he told me that he would be on his way shortly, that he just needed a quiet place to eat his lunch and he requested that I not call the police to have him removed.  I immediately dismissed his concern and told him that he was just fine where he was and to stay as long as he needed and that he was welcome.  As I continued on, it hit me that this man, who I would normally pass on the street without a word uttered between us, was requesting something from me that I take for granted.  He wanted to eat his lunch in peace, away from the chaos of his normal environment.  I felt a sense of this man’s life and I had a strong desire to do something to help him and to ease his suffering, if only temporarily.

I went inside and grabbed a bottled water and went back to where he was sitting, and handed it to him, telling him that I noticed that he didn’t have anything to drink with his lunch.  Based on his reaction, I had given him the world.  We began to talk and I asked him how he ended up in the situation that he’s in.  He told me that he was only 35 years old but that he had made some wrong decisions up to this point in his life that led him to his current situation.  He told me that he slept on the streets and not in a shelter because of the drug use and the crime that was rampant within them.  He said that people are sometimes assaulted while they sleep and that what possessions they do have are frequently stolen from them when they are sleeping.  He felt safer on the streets.  We parted ways, but I told him before I left that he was welcome to have his lunch next to my garage when he felt like he needed to do it.

That experience left a defined mark on me, and while our paths haven’t crossed since that day, I frequently find my thoughts returning to him, wondering if he’s doing OK.  The empathy that I felt toward this gentleman helped me to feel and understand his emotions around his situation and compassion compelled me to help him and ease his suffering.  While I wasn’t able to solve all of his problems, I could solve at least one by offering him a quiet place to have his lunch when he needs it.  That experience taught me the difference between empathy and compassion and it made that gentleman human to me.

How can you exercise compassion toward others in your life?  You do it by practicing empathy, which is being fully present with others and taking the time to listen to and understand their situation and what they’re currently feeling.  Also, when you feel yourself at odds with someone, mentally toss your differences aside and instead focus on the commonalities that you have with that person, such as desiring love, security and happiness.  Be willing to freely extend kindness to others, offering a kind word or gesture and helping with anything that eases another’s suffering.  Keep in mind that being nice and being kind are two different things.  Kindness comes from the heart.

Do these things without the expectation of receiving anything in return.  As you practice them, you’ll find that you are uplifted, making the act of extending compassion a common and rewarding part of your life.

Because we’re loved, each and every one of us

You are loved.

Read those three words again, sit back and take a few minutes to let them sink in.

The powerful words you are loved bring comfort and reassurance.  They say to us that we’re not in this alone and that we have a spiritual partner, our creator, to turn to when we’re feeling like life isn’t what we want it to be.  Those three words also tell us that same creator created all of us without judgement and loves each one of us equally.  Today, many of us believe that we are in it by ourselves and are separate from one another, trudging along and sleepwalking through our lives without even acknowledging one another.  Where’s the love?

When I was young, I frequently spent my summers with my great grandparents, who were  some of the most wonderful people I’ve ever known and, oh boy, were they polar opposites of one another.  My great-grandfather was a man of very few words, but he had a strong love for his family.  My great-grandmother loved to talk, radiating joy and love every second that she was awake.  She was strong in her faith and I count myself very lucky for having known both of them in my lifetime.

One day, my great-grandmother and I were driving somewhere and I asked her why she thought we were here on earth.  Without skipping a beat, she said “because we’re loved, each and every one of us”.  She explained that we are eternal spirits that came from a nonphysical, loving place where God resides and that we purposefully chose to come here into a physical form so that we can learn lessons about how to love and take care of one another.  Our conversation continued, but my 9 year old brain was still having difficulty wrapping my arms around this concept.  As I continued to ask why (which was making her crazy and she told me so), she further explained that the main purpose of our life is to evolve our spirit and we do this by learning how to love one another, without conditions.  While she passed almost twelve years ago at the age of 100, I am convinced that her life was long because she knew the value of love and how to give it away freely and without expectation.

I’ve found my thoughts frequently returning to why, today, we have turned our backs on love, the fundamental building block of our humanity.  We malign and persecute one another because of where we’re from, our different religious beliefs, sexual orientation, gender identity, color of our skin etc. and to what end?  We’re driven further apart, developing false beliefs and fears about each other, and in some cases, inciting violence toward one another just because of who and what we are.  We certainly weren’t created with this kind of attitude.  We have to change our beliefs about one another and become aligned with the beliefs of our creator.  Until we do this, the world will never truly know peace.

So how do we learn to love?  It’s actually pretty simple and it starts with acceptance.  Acceptance of ourselves for who we are and acceptance of others for who they are.  No judgement, just simple acceptance.  Open your mind and let your fears go and you will see a whole new world open right in front of you.  Love yourself, but do it unconditionally.  All of us have our flaws, weight issues, we hate our hair and our ears and our butts look terrible in our jeans.  Let it go!  You are perfect just the way you are.  Resist the urge to sit in judgement of yourself and to be afraid of what others think about you because their opinions simply don’t matter.  Resist the urge to judge others by their appearance and look deep inside of them to find the good stuff.  Smile more and offer a helping hand.  Say hello to strangers and strike up a conversation with them.  Take a mental note of how you feel when you’re doing this and I bet you’ll notice that you feel great and have more love inside of you.

Remember, you attract what you think about and what you give back to the world, so think about and send out the love vibes through your thoughts and actions and you will receive it back many times over.  And, dance more.  It raises your vibe and it’s fun!

Welcome!

Welcome to my blog and thanks so much for joining me on this journey to live your humanity.

The definition of humanity is pretty simple.  It includes all of the human race, or, all human beings collectively.  Within that definition is a subcomponent that includes “humanness” themes such as benevolence, love, compassion, empathy, tolerance and goodness.

Our civilization today, as we know it, is approximately 6000 years old and there are 7 billion of us living on Planet Earth right now.  While we have been successfully agile at adapting to changing landscapes and business climates and have survived countless natural and man made disasters, there’s one thing that we’re not doing very well.  Taking care of one another.

Today, we are falsely thriving by employing an us vs. them mentality, grabbing all that we are able to before some else can, forgetting that if one of us fails, we all fail.  We’ve forgotten the value of compassion, civility and joy and how a simple act of kindness toward someone has a ripple effect that spreads so far out that we can’t see its positive impact to our collective whole.

Everyone has a seat at the table here.  Let’s explore these topics together and make this an interactive forum where kindness and open, safe expression is championed and expected.  Please feel free to share your ideas and let’s live our humanity together.