My daughter & son-in-law recently had visitors from Kenya and Uganda who are here on a Rotary Project. One of their duties as hosts was help them stay warm in our San Diego weather. It seemed funny when I heard the story and then I remembered how cold I was when I moved from Mexico to Massachusetts. Adapting to new conditions (even temporary ones) can be critical.
Issues such as food, drink, rest, and comfortable temperature are basic to our comfort as humans. Abraham Mazlow, the renowned psychologist and author, made it quite clear in his hierarchy of needs table that having sufficient creature comforts was paramount.
In his view, one could not be self-realizing without having the basic needs met and I think that is generally true. Maybe yoga masters can achieve enlightenment while lying on a bed of nails but most of us do better on a comfortable bed. My experience as a teacher taught me that hungry kids make poor students. When schools also serve breakfast to students who are on the free lunch program, the students do much better in their morning classes.
Most of us go to quite a bit of effort to make sure our basic needs are met. We like to have a stocked refrigerator, clothes to keep us warm, and comfortable living space. While we may differ in what we think is basic necessity, we North Americans are clear about what we expect from life. A full stomach and a warm coat is just the beginning.
Right now, the big question in the news is how much is enough? The Occupy Wall Street demonstrations are all about that question of how much is enough. Many of us are outraged by the increase in the disparity between ordinary citizens and the wealthy. Never mind the poor folks.
The great singer, Pearl Bailey, once said, “I’ve been rich and I’ve been poor and Honey, rich is better.” She was right.
The middle class is calling for a different distribution of wealth. Economic issues are complicated, this movement comes at the same time that poor nations are also calling for a different distribution of wealth. Everyone wants more and the belief in “not enough” is rampant.
As people who seek spiritual solutions to the world’s problems, we need to remember that there is no limit to the wealth God creates. That is not to say we should do nothing. I think it is very important to honor the belief that wealth can and should be redistributed. No group needs so much “stuff” that it must have 90% of the wealth. You can only drive so many Lamborghinis, fly so many jets or wear so many diamonds around your neck. We are going to have to adapt our laws and wait for our attitudes to catch up. The age of the robber barons is over.
Our current age of information has obviously provided an opportunity for adaptation. The wealthy must adapt to sharing their wealth. The middle class must adapt to creating more wealth themselves. The poor must adapt to being part of the picture, not the stragglers on the sidelines. Most of all, the politicians must adapt to an informed and active public.
At the same time we seek a new economic balance in North America, the African nations are adapting to their new aspirations and power. From Libya to Sudan, and more, the people are gaining new information, new dreams and new ideas about how much is enough. The term “Basic Needs” takes on a new meaning when you talk with a man where the women and children must walk two hours to bring drinking water to the village.
One of my daughter and son-in-law’s independent projects are two schools in South Sudan. These simple schools are built by the villagers out of their village sticks and mud. They have only three rooms and serve over 200 people. Those adults and children are adapting to their new world by learning to read and write and do math just as we are adapting to ours by learning about global economics and politics.
What’s more, it is all part of the magnificent evolutionary expansion of consciousness that the founder of Religious Science, Dr. Ernest Holmes, describes in the Science of Mind Textbook.
How am I feeling about having enough today?
Is there any change I want to make in my economic life today?
I recently watched Harry Belafonte’s life story on HBO and it brought back memories of the excitement about change that we felt in the ‘60’s and ’70’s. No wonder there are so many old timers out and about in the Occupy Wall Street demonstrations. It makes us feel young again.
Harry Belafonte’s public life was well documented on TV and I found the show, Sing My Song, to be a captivating record of liberal causes over the past 60 years.
Belafonte’s professional life as a movie and TV star made him a breakthrough figure in civil rights. It is hard to imagine how different things were when he skyrocketed to stardom. Times have changed. It was downright funny to see clips of a TV show that was cancelled because a white singer, Petula Clark, held Belafonte’s arm.
Like all black entertainers of his day, he suffered indignities such as not being able to use the hotel swimming pool in Las Vegas and having movies and TV shows cancelled because they were too outspoken.
It was his public support of Martin Luther King and the civil rights cause that first propelled him into the newsreels. I already knew that he was one of the major money benefactors of the movement but I had forgotten how brave he was. He challenged the authorities that were beating up people for attempting to vote or to integrate public buildings. In the TV clips, he was at the front of the marches as well as being the “money man”.
Then there were all those years in Africa, working for the starving children in Ethiopia and his many other African activities. Famous political leaders, John Lewis and Julian Bond were both in the group of students that Belafonte and his friends sent to Africa to study in the 1960’s.
Later, he was in Haiti and now he is working with the UN all over the world plus leading black elders in trying to do something about the large number of young black men who are incarcerated in this nation.
As I watch the TV show, it seems as if his life intersects with many causes and he chose to take an active part in all of them. From my perspective, he was on the side of the angels every step of the way
Once again, I am reminded that one person does make a difference. We can’t all be movie stars and we don’t have fortunes to give away, but we can reach out and care for other people in our own way. You get to make choices that make a difference.
Today, I heard a story today about “Larry” was on the way out of the grocery store when he met a family who had nothing to eat. Larry tried to give them cans of soup from his basket but they said they lived under the bridge and had no stove. So Larry went back inside the store and bought lunchmeat, bread, fruit and vegetables to give to them.
This story touched me because I know Larry lives well below the comfort line and his generosity was a stretch. He didn’t solve all the problems for the family under the bridge but they ate that night. Larry made a difference!
Yesterday, a young man I know – “Jerry” who has had many problems of his own helped someone get into treatment for drug addiction. Jerry worked for about a month with the young addict and his mother and finally succeeded getting him placed despite their inability to pay. Jerry was elated because he was able to make a difference!
These three men – Harry, Larry and Jerry are all making choices that extend hope, love and support to others. They all made a difference despite the fact that one is a rich movie star, one a poor family man and the other a recovering addict. Their differences are in degree, not direction.
Are you making a difference? What do you do with your time, energy, talent and money? Is there something you can do to make a difference today? Or tomorrow? Could you volunteer to drive an elderly person to the doctor? How about helping a young person read? Have you given anything away lately? Are you registered to vote? Are your daily choices on the side of the angels?
Never, never believe that problems are too big for your actions to count. You will always make a difference if you reach out in love to others. You may not solve everything but you will change the trajectory of your own life and possibly the life of the others.
What shall I do today?
What shall I do tomorrow?
My schedule is empty today except for a couple of pesky phone calls. I can choose to spend my day in any number of ways. Go to the movies? Call a friend? Go to the museum? Read a book? Take a walk in the water?. Life is a great big gift basket of choices.
I dreamed of free time when I was struggling to get through college or build the church. Free time seems as though it should be fun. Yet, plenty of retired people are not so sure. A lot of us are addicted to work.
I started working in high school and I worked until a month before my child was born. I returned to work three months later and I have worked all my life. I have always found work interesting and rewarding.
I’m still working on my writing, teaching a class and taking a few counseling appointments but mostly, my time is my own. Quite honestly, I find free time challenging but I’m much better about it than I used to be.
Many years ago, I when I married for a second time, my new husband proudly told me I never had to work again. He would take care of me and my ten-year-old child. In his eyes, I was a widow who had been forced by circumstances to work. We both thought he was saving me.
Within weeks after I left my job, I was volunteering for a million committees and was chair of most of them. My new husband was generous but absent minded and I had to ask him for money when I ran out. I hated that! I also hated the free time!
To make a short story shorter, after six months, we held a family conference and my new husband daughter begged me to get a job. I was gainfully employed within the week and we were all happier.
I’ve learned a lot since then. I now know that I always have choices. I get to choose my activities, my friends, my thoughts and my dreams. Most of all, I can choose my emotional response to free days.
This morning, I chose to start by making a gratitude list. Now I am writing a blog. Next, I will choose to make those pesky phone calls. The rest of the day will probably be spent working on my new book. I am making positive choices even if they are not thrilling.
Choosing well is the key to happy days. We all know people who feel sorry for themselves because they can’t play basketball because it is raining. If you can’t have your first choice, then be sure and pick something you like rather than just feeling sorry for yourself and grumbling all day long.
There is no percentage in saying no to everything because you aren’t able, at this time, to have one of your first picks. I had a great day in a small museum last week even though I didn’t feel up to walking around in the big one.
Saying no, feeling sorry for ourselves and choosing inactivity doesn’t get us what we want. Looking around and pitching into new activities raises our spirits. Don’t be depressed because your grand children live far away. Instead, choose to volunteer to be a big brother or sister to some other children.
Like many older people, I don’t have the physical ability to take long trips. I’d love to go to Greece or Turkey but I recently took a four-day trip up the coast to San Luis Obispo, Santa Barbara and Solvang. I had a wonderful time with my daughter and sister.
Many surveys show that people grow happier as they age despite their physical limitations. I am certain it is because we are spiritual beings having a human experience and part of that experience is learning to control our responses to life. We learn to make healthy and happy choices.
As you go through this day, remember that you have a lot of power and you get to choose your responses to life. Most of all, remember, You deserve the best!
What can I do that’s fun today?
How can I open my life to new & excellent experiences?
In this month of celebrating gratitude, I am most grateful to Science of Mind for teaching me how to be optimistic. I didn’t learn to expect the best at my mother’s knee but in Religious Science churches and classrooms. I am grateful to my teachers and colleagues for helping me choose optimism as a way of life.
Optimistic people have much better lives than pessimistic people. No one would argue with the statement that Pollyanna was a happier character than the Grinch. Most people would agree that it is better to expect the best than to be on the lookout for the worst that can happen. Not everyone believes that our attitude impacts our experience as completely as Religious Scientists do, but nearly everyone agrees that attitude is important.
Most people believe that we are as happy or sad because of our experience in life. Inheriting a million dollars usually makes us happy while the death of a loved one usually makes us sad. Even so, common sense tells us that everyone loses loved ones and not everyone mourns forever. And we know there are plenty of unhappy millionaires on this planet. No two people have exactly the same experience and no two people would react the same way.
Even if it were possible to give two people the same experiences, the optimist would enjoy his life much more than the pessimist. That makes sense. More importantly, our consciousness creates our reality. If we can grasp that concept, we can understand the importance of changing our thinking so that we are expecting only the best.
If you want to do well on the job, you must go to work each day with an optimistic attitude. Once there, you will give good service, be noticed more often and be promoted quickly. Even if you never get the raise you deserve in that workplace, your excellent attitude will allow you to attract a new job very quickly.
In olden times, before milk came in cardboard boxes and was pasteurized, we had a saying, “Cream rises to the top.” What that meant was that the richest part of the milk (cream) would collect at the top of the bottle and it also meant that the person with the best attitude toward work got the promotion.
Money matters are important but attitude is even more important. Many of our Presidents came from wealthy families but not all of them. Being born poor has stopped many ambitious men and women from aiming at the top because they believed that it was too difficult to overcome childhood poverty. Lack of wealth didn’t stop Abraham Lincoln or Bill Clinton.
Nor did lack of beauty stop Barbra Streisand or Whoopi Goldberg from being a movie star. Lack of education didn’t stop Ernest Hemingway from writing. Whether it is money, appearance, education or some other perceived shortage, the truth of the matter is that the most important ingredient in anyone’s life is attitude.
I have added a short spiritual mind treatment for anyone who chooses to use it in order to become more optimistic.
What situations make me worry?
What would I like to be more optimistic about?
I Am Optimistic
There is only one God and that God is totally powerful, and present everywhere. God is present right here and now and supporting and guiding me. God loves me and God is expressing as Love through me. Because I know that God is always with me, always loving me and always saying yes to me, I am totally and completely optimistic.
I feel wonderful about life. I expect the best in life. I know that life is a great joy and a wonderful opportunity to express love and wealth and health. I expect the best in every area of my life. I am in love with life. I greet every day with great expectations. I am optimistic about my health. I am certain that I am rich and my wealth is growing every day. I am surrounded by loving people. I engage in happy activities. I love my life now.
With this prayer, all my questions are answered and all my desires are fulfilled. I release this spiritual mind treatment with a great sense of joy because I know that God is with me every step of the way.
Life is great! I expect the best!
And so it is.
I wake before the alarm but I am not in great spirits. The weather has changed and it is cold. I’m worried about someone I love. My health isn’t as good as it was last year. I wish I had more money saved. Since these were my first thoughts of the morning, my first act is to make a gratitude list.
The first thing I learned in my first 12 Step program 38 years ago was to start my day with a gratitude list. It was a great spiritual practice and I still use it. Since I started, my life has truly turned around and I’ve found that a gratitude list works like magic. It will change my mood almost immediately and I have come to rely upon this simple practice.
Now that I’m a student of Science of Mind, I know that writing a gratitude list is a way of moving my mind as well as lifting my heart with the simple stroke of a pen or touch of the keyboard. It cheers me up to think about things I have instead of things I want. I am happier when I remember to focus on things I love instead of things I worry about. It also sends a direct message to the Infinite Mind of God that I claim more of the good stuff in my life. I accept the best.
Expressing gratitude for the hundred dollars I have in the bank is a much more effective way to build prosperity than praying for the thousand dollars I think I need because the way spiritual laws work is that what I focus on is what I get. When I focus on lack, I get more lack. When I focus with love on the money I have, I will get more love and more money. Expressing gratitude is very effective way to work with the spiritual law of attraction.
The Universal Mind we call God functions on spiritual law. You attract what you are. If you are wrapped in a feeling of doom and gloom about money and your inner refrain is “Not enough” that is the message you are sending to the law of attraction. You are sowing scarcity and it is impossible for you to reap anything but more scarcity. While not everyone understands this, spiritual laws work exactly the same for us all. God does not take a vacation, play favorites or make exceptions.
Never mistake it, making a list of the things you love in your life is a direct prayer to claim more of that good. The best part of all when using gratitude lists is that you don’t have to believe in it or even be hopeful, you just need to make that list. This simple, straightforward spiritual practice does not require any deep intellectual conviction or religious faith. Just about everyone can find something he or she is grateful for, no matter how bleak things look.
I challenge you to make a list of 10 or more things every morning for a month and see how your life improves. You will obviously be more cheerful. That is a psychological fix that will help but a consistent practice of gratitude will do more than cheer you up, it will bring more of what you enjoy into your life. Keep your list simple and honest and it will work well.
My ten things for this morning? 1. The money I currently have in the bank. 2. The distance my loved one has already come. 3. The weather here in San Diego (even on the bad days). 4. My grandson visits today. 5. My coffee is good. 6. My beautiful home. 7. My new novel to read. 8. I’m going to a museum today. 9. My Science of Mind teaching. 10. My prayer partner. … Now that I’ve made that list I’m in a new place of heart and mind and could go on to list another 90, for sure.
How many things can you list that you are grateful for in the next fifteen minutes?
Will you try making a list of ten things you are grateful for every day this week?
“What do you really want?” I ask my friend. I am hoping she will say peace of mind but I suddenly understand that what she really wants is for him to change. She loves him so much and she wants him to be successful and happy. I understand that she is really feeling hostage to his actions and that she thinks she can never really be happy until he stops ……
A Wise Woman I knew in 12 Step Program once said, “People do change but they don’t change for each other.” She was right.
I have learned that you cannot make anyone else change so you must find your peace of mind, your joy and your happiness within yourself. Waiting for someone you love to change so that you can be happy is not sensible. Nor does it work.
It is foolish to give away your power. You may wait a long time until he or she stops drinking, stealing, gossiping or picking on you. Your life script will just about always have a few characters who are acting out and saying lines that you don’t get to write. At the same time, you do have some power in the relationship. You can control your actions and you can speak new lines by yourself.
If you are in a relationship that seems to be making you miserable, take a look at the situation and find your point of control. Are you giving away your power by hoping for agreement? Are you behaving like the schoolteacher who gives her students, “one more chance” and never insists they do their homework? No matter how hopeless a situation feels, there is some part that is yours to change.
Bad relationships are like tennis games. One player hits the ball over the net and the other hits it back. You repeat the same actions and lines, over and over again. No one changes and no one wins. If that sounds like the relationship that troubles you, look for a way to change your part in the game. Where is your point of control? You cannot force the other person to play your way but you’re not totally trapped.
Here’s a simple example. Suppose the restaurant boss has a waiter who is rude to customers. She can explain clearly what is expected but if the waiter’s behavior continues, she must face her choices. She can put up with the behavior and be miserable while her business fails or she can let the employee go. The employee really has fired himself. The boss has learned that she cannot force the employee to behave and she must follow through on her desires. The waiter also has choices and he has learned that he must take responsibility for them.
Of course when we truly love the person who is not behaving the way we want, it feels more complicated than a simple work relationship. It is scary to think of breaking up or banishing a loved one from your life. I like to remind my Wise Women groups that they are not abandoning their relationship, just re-negotiating. This is true for men as well.
Long before you get to the place of giving up, you can take smaller steps. You can begin to pray for yourself and claim guidance. You may be able to articulate or modify your demands. You can learn to stay in the present when you quarrel. You can look for self-help books on your issue and follow through with suggestions. You can seek help from a practitioner or counselor. All of these things will open up opportunities for change.
Do I want to make any changes in any of my relationships? What are they?
It is Sunday morning and our wonderful Pastor, Rev. Debby O’Donnell, has just completed her talk so our wonderful singer, Leslie Alexander, leads us in, “I Release and I Let Go,” by Ricky Byers Beckwith. We are all jumping for joy as we leave the sanctuary, even if we are too dignified to let it show. I say to my companion, “I should play that song at least once a day” and I am right about that.
No one person has done more for New Thought church music than Ricky Beyers Beckworth and of all her great songs, none is as instructive and uplifting as the Release song.
The point of the song is that you can let The One Power For Good that we call God help you with your life. You don’t have to do it all alone. There is help all around us when we open up to accept it.
Most humans seem to have some belief about a transcendental operation that can help out there, (or up there). Throughout the ages, getting the Gods to help, whether they lived in volcanoes and required virgins for tithes, or on top of Mount Olympus in dysfunctional families, was the tricky part. How could we persuade them?
In New Thought spirituality, we skip over the small stuff and identify God as the Creative Energy of the Universe. We say there is One God and it is present everywhere, and that it lives in every one of us. We say we are in constant contact with God through our thoughts, emotions and beliefs. There is a Power for Good, greater than we are, and we can use it.
We learn in classes that we must make a picture in our mind of what we want and claim it as ours. Then we must release any ideas or beliefs that are standing in our way and let the Power for Good bring it to us. Life doesn’t have to be a struggle and we don’t have to do it all alone.
We use affirmative prayers as the first action step in our business plans but then we must take action for the second. The old saying, “Treat and move your feet”, is another version of, “God helps those that help themselves”. Sometimes we refer to God as a co-creator.
But when do you know if you have helped yourself too much? Or not enough? Once again, we must balance our thoughts and activities. I would suggest that you might take your emotional pulse and see how much of your energy is going to the positive and creative and how much is going to worry, self-doubt, denial or distraction. It requires paying attention to how you are spending your time and gently self-correcting so you can attract and hold on to your dreams.
My book, Science of Mind Skills is all about how to get what you want in life. When you begin to notice, you will see that help is available many places. The best idea is to take a class at your local Center For Spiritual Living (Religious Science church).
God really will help us if we give God a chance. We must release the struggle and trust in God. Gandhi is supposed to have said that when he had a lot to do, he liked to begin his morning with twice as much meditation. I’m no Ghandi and I’m no Rickie Byers Beckwith but I can learn from both of them. I trust that God sent them to help me understand.
Who can I learn from?
Anything I want to release today?