I hang up on from a phone call with a very good friend and I feel full of gratitude that she is well and happy, that I am well and happy, and that we are in each other’s lives. Over the past twenty years we have been though many changes but our friendship has always been there. We have supported each other through good and not so good times. There have been laughs and tears and lots of shared history. My life is richer because of my friend.Good friends are really important and they must be nurtured in order to thrive. When I was a girl, switching “best friends” whenever we got a new hobby was common. So was dropping our girlfriends when we got a new boyfriend and I can remember how that could hurt.
Growing up means treating friends as though they are appreciated. Our good, long lasting friendships are precious. If we are not careful, we forget to tell them how much they mean to us. We should also understand that there are times when we need to be there for a good friend when they are in need, even if it is inconvenient. Friendship is definitely reciprocal if it is to work over a long time.
Treasuring a good friend is a lot different from building a network for our business or social ambitions. It is also different from loving our family because they were born to be our connections. Making friends involves choices and choosing good friends is a consequence of knowing who we are. There are plenty of people on Facebook and they may be listed as friends but it takes time and common experiences to develop a real friendship.
Not all friends from the past need to be carried into your world of today. It is wonderful to keep your friends from high school or college but if you want a healthy balance you will have to develop some new ones along the way. Especially as we age, people’s lives and situations as well as interests change. Some move away, some change, some die, some simply take a different path in life. So if you only stick with your old friends, you can end up with a very narrow world as time marches on.
It seems to me that we should try to cultivate new friends and, at the same time, treasure the old ones. As always, balance is the key to intelligent living. No one can have an unlimited number of close friends but beware the person who insists that he or she must be your only friend. “Best friends” works better in 7th grade than in adulthood.
One of the best ways to meet friends is to find a people you enjoy who have similar interests. These days, most of my friends are people I’ve met in my spiritual activities; once they nearly all came from my 12 Step program. Before that, most of them came from my writing activities. I still have a couple of friends from every one of those previous interests because they are a part of me and my history. Most of all, these treasured old friends have qualities that resonate in wonderful ways.
What kind of people make the best friends? I love the ones who are always there for you. They can be there in times of need and they are wonderful. On the other hand, the ones who make me laugh are fabulous. I also love the ones who are interested and excited about new ideas and activities. And then there are my deep thinker friends and my deep believer friends. It varies from day to day so I guess they are all my best friends.
What old friend can I contact today?
What new person can I get to know better and maybe make a friend?
I taught my first New Thought History class on Thursday. My students are eager to learn. I’d like more of them because I think our history is absolutely fascinating. The history is also helpful when your relatives ask those silly questions.
We’ve all had friends and relatives who asked questions that tell more about their bias than we could guess.
I’ve heard many questions in the last 25 years. Here are three favorites I can remember. “How can an intelligent woman fall for that hokum?” “How can I visit your church when I’m Jewish?” “What do you guys think about having sex outside of marriage?”
There is one question that still tangles me up – “Is New Thought Christian?”
Do you get tongue tied when someone asks you if your church is Christian? Do you think Unity and Divine Science answer yes faster? I think it is possible because they were formed in the 1880’s. Religious Science came about 50 years later and I think the answer is more apt to be, “Yes and no.” It may also be a longer response.
Some New Thought people think we are practicing original Christianity because we teach what Jesus taught. On the other hand, some Fundamentalist Christians are certain our answer has to be no. They believe we can’t qualify as Christian because we ignore some of the Bible stories and don’t talk about sin.
New Thought is usually classified as Christian in encyclopedias because it evolved from earlier Christian denominations. That’s what the encyclopedias believe – but not all New Thought followers agree. Some don’t believe they are Christians. I think people in Unity, and Divine Science are more apt to say yes to the question because they were created in the 1880’s.
The founder of Religious Science, Ernest Holmes, was a prodigious student of religious and philosophical ideas. He gives a yes and no answer on PG 4 of our class textbook, The Philosophy of Ernest Holmes. He writes, “…we have roots in a very deep antiquity. …it has drawn its knowledge from all sources; it is not just a Christian philosophy, although it is a Christian denomination.
All New Thought denominations believe that everything comes from God. There is no split between body and soul. There is no battle between light and darkness or good and evil. The belief in Oneness puts us in a rare stream of mystical teachers (including Jesus) that are all recorded and respected.
New Thought, whether the most modern aspects of Religious Science, or the most Christian aspects of Divine Science, are based on a mystical worldview. In other words – we may or may not be Christian but we are all mystics.
We are called mystics and we are also called idealists. Whether the word is mystic or idealist, we believe that everything comes from One Source – Spirit – the formless or invisible part of life. Although Holmes used his studies of many religious and philosophical sources to create the Science of Mind teaching, he never strayed from the idea of Oneness.
All New Thought uses this Oneness as a tool for spiritual healing. It was built on the knowledge of God or Spirit’s to heal. We recognized the mind/body connection early.
There is no sin in New Thought. We know that in the original Aramaic of the Bible, the word that is now translated as sin meant, “missing the mark.” Or error. We believe that people make mistakes but the essential nature or Spirit is never harmed and we will all eventually come to know ourselves as perfect, complete and whole. We also believe that life is eternal and consciousness continues to exist after what we call death or transition.
Technically, we don’t pray to rescue the sinner or heal the sick. We pray to see the spiritual Truth. The Truth we pray for is already there and we want to realize it through our prayer. Holmes says the result is not a healing but a revealing.
That is an important thing for practitioners to remember when they pray for others. They are working to know the person they pray for is already perfect, whole, and complete at the level of Spirit. As they pray, the Truth becomes apparent. That is both the mysticism of the Christian mystics and the idealism of the Greek Idealists.
Next week we will explore the Greek roots of New Thought in my class. We will learn about Greek philosophers such as Plato and his follower, Plotinus. My students will also learn that Ernest Holmes had a brilliant, and inquisitive mind. He was a self-directed student and he knew his classical history.
Holmes knew and loved Emerson who also embraced Oneness and idealism. But that was not all of the story. Emerson and Holmes also knew about Asian religions and that led them to a world view we call mysticism. Mysticism also runs throughout the history of Christianity. Leaders like St. Augustine, Hildegard of Bingham and Meister Eckhart gain fame as New Thought grows.
Emerson was greatly influenced by the work of one Christian mystic, Emmanuel Swedenborg. He also read some basic Asian texts. Scholars trace the influence of Hindu and Buddhist texts that on Clipper ships into the Boston harbor.
This history makes a pattern of Love and Light. Holmes loved Emerson and he also loved the Bible. He ended up with a mystical teaching that was influenced by classical philosophy, Asian religions, and the teachings of Jesus. When Holmes found the work of Thomas Troward, an Englishman who lived in India most of his life, he was able to build a powerful intellectual structure for spiritual healing. He called it Science of Mind.
Some people are disappointed when they learn that Ernest Holmes was basically a synthesizer. He didn’t receive his message from on High. He collected the best from myriad sources and had the ability to weave it together. Actually, I believe that the fact that Holmes took from a variety of sources makes his genius even more rare. The combination of his studies, seasoned by his unique, inventive and magnificent mind, created a thoroughly modern religion.
We are studying the strands of wisdom that Ernest Holmes knit into this wonderful, teaching, philosophy, and religion. I’m confident my students will gain a great respect for using the Science of Mind in their lives.
I’m not so sure it will give them a snappy answer to that Christianity question. But is it important to ask questions about classifying a belief system? Isn’t it better to ask, “How do I use this wisdom?”
If I believe I am perfect, how will that look?
If I let go of feeling wrong, guilty or sinful, how will that look? Feel?
Do I have any special sources for my beliefs?
Do I have special stories about my beliefs?
What would I like to know more about?
Someone from New York City came to church yesterday. She’d been carrying around an article I wrote for two years. She wanted to meet me because the article was important to her. I can’t tell you how much her visit pleased me.
It is a wonderful thing when someone reaches out to praise an author for something they’ve written. I used enjoy the fan letters when I wrote for teenagers. But this was different because the writing came from my heart and I had a clear intention to be helpful.
In fact, hearing that my work helped someone is just about the best thing that could happen to a spiritual writer. We are dedicated to helping people and we don’t always hear from our readers. That young woman not only made my day, she made my week and a lot longer.
I felt appreciated and valued. It was quite different from having friends tell me they liked one of my blogs. This was a young woman I’d never met, from three thousand miles away, who carried my inspirational words with her all the time. She made my work seem very special.
I felt appreciated and I appreciated her. We had a great visit in a short time. I saw that exchange was like dropping a pebble of Love that rippled outward and outward. It was a bright spot in my day and I’m sure my good mood impacted others because good news travels fast.
Any honest expression of appreciation that we give or receive is a treasure that should be noticed and taken to heart. When were you last praised? Did you take the time to treasure it? Sometimes it is instructive to make notes of the praise and compliments you receive. You will brighten your life by paying attention to the appreciation others are expressing toward you. It will raise your self esteem.
On that same subject, ask yourself if you give praise easily? Or often? When was the last time you wrote a note to your favorite author? How about your favorite teacher in school? Do you tell your friends how much you appreciate them? Giving appreciation feels really good. The emotional lift comes with giving as well as receiving.
The best part of telling someone you appreciate them because of something special about them or their work, is that appreciation works both ways. Not only do you speak up and help someone see his or her own worth, your expression of appreciation is a message that goes into the Universal Mind. Spirit will find a way to return it to you. That’s the way spiritual law works.
Some people fall into the belief that there is a shortage. It’s as though there is not enough personal value to go around. They never express appreciation for anyone else. We all have known competitive people who try to make someone else bad so that they can feel good. They do not yet understand that there is no shortage of good will or personal value. Life is not a contest.
If Maxine Kaye or Carol Carnes is a good writer, that doesn’t mean I am a bad one. It means there are three good writers in this paragraph. And many more on this planet! If we start to talk about which writer is better, the conversation soon becomes nonsense! How can we compare Hemingway to Austen when they are so unique?
Life is not a contest. There is no shortage. We all have unique value and we can appreciate each other without diminishing anyone else. In fact, the fastest remedy for a competitive attitude is to begin to compliment others. He or she will quickly discover there is enough praise to go around. The praise that is given will find a way to return, pressed down and multiplied.
What do you believe would happen if you added appreciation to your spiritual practice? Are you willing to experiment?
If you want to learn to appreciate yourself, you can start by recognizing the value of others and expressing gratitude. You will see a boomerang effect very quickly. Begin to make it a habit to say thank you to others. Make it a habit to express praise for the things that others do that add value to your life.
When you attend church, don’t just praise the ministers and musicians because they do another good job. At the same time, look for those volunteers who are generally ignored. They work on set up, bringing and arranging the flowers, making coffee, on the sound system, or teaching Sunday School. These people all do valuable work and so we should praise them for a job well done. Appreciate them.
In general, begin to notice the things that people do for you and give genuine praise for their efforts. Soon, you will begin to understand that you live in a loving world and your life is touched by many wonderful people. Our civilization is built on cooperation and trust. Praise the civilized people in your world.
People who serve you and your lifestyle are important to your well being. If you are alert, you can praise their contributions and brighten their days. Often, you will find that the service you receive becomes even more enthusiastic. You and the recipient of your praise will be happier for the exchange.
The Law of Attraction is well known in New Thought circles. What you are focusing on is important. This is expressed over and over again, in every Sunday talk and in bestselling books such like The Secret. This spiritual law is also expressed in sayings such as, “What goes around comes around.”
I say, “Focus on the solution, not the problem.” You can train you mind to stop obsessing about what’s wrong and start believing that your desires are possible. Let the problem stew in its own juices. You don’t need to add to the mess. Begin by asking, “What do I want to see happen?” If you focus on the desired solution, you draw it toward you.
You can experiment and prove the Law of Attraction in your own life. Make notes of your results. During the next month, make it a game to honestly praise as many people as you can. Thank people for the way they interact with you. File a favorable report on your favorite grocery checker’s work. Tell important people in your life (such as your children) how much you appreciate them.
Open your heart and make appreciation your way of life. Don’t hold praise back for fear it won’t continue to improve. Praise what you love and watch it grow.
The people in your life want to please you and they need your approval. Make it a point to notice the good stuff. Send notes and small gifts for special service.
If you are honest with yourself, you will see that your life is smoother as you learn to use praise as a positive living tool.
What happened today that I can praise?
How many ways can I thank people this week?
Do I see the unrecognized helpers?
It’s been hot here and I don’t enjoy hot, humid weather. I tend to forget San Diego has the best year-round climate in the continental US. I’m like the millionaire who complains when her stocks don’t rise fast enough.
It is easy to forget how comparatively fortunate we are. Whether it is health, money, friendships or climate, we don’t want to fall into a pattern of grumbling and make it worse. Let’s not take the good stuff in our lives for granted.
Sometimes it helps to see ourselves in relation to others. I don’t like to chortle because someone else is hotter than I am, but when I watch the weather channel it does put my complaints in perspective. Do you ever use comparisons as a basis for gratitude? I do.
As a child, I resented the idea of comparing myself to others. At supper, I was supposed to eat all my dinner because of the poor starving Armenians or Chinese etc. It just didn’t seem right that I should have to eat spinach because someone on the other side of the world was hungry.
My mother used to tell the story about a person who had no shoes until he met a beggar who had no feet. I wasn’t interested in shoes or feet, I just wanted my dessert. And I wanted it now!
Since I’ve learned more about how spiritual law works, I’ve been able to release the guilt I felt about my “selfishness”. It didn’t really help if I ate all my supper. (I’ve also resigned from the clean plate club and lost over 100 pounds.)
These days, comparison is a tool in my bag of gratitude tricks. When I remember to be grateful I don’t live in Arizona, it cools me off as much as an extra shower.
I am not a shaman and I don’t do a rain dance so I can’t yet control the weather, but I can control my thinking and my response. Gratitude thinking changes the experience even when things are out of my control.
Gratitude trains the mind to be happy. Feeling happy is as welcome as a cool breeze. Believe it or not, it is possible to feel happy in any climate. It is also possible to feel happy before getting everything we want. In fact, it helps us get it.
Happiness really is a choice. We are in charge of our thoughts and that puts us in charge of our moods. The key is to manage our minds effectively, no matter what the issue seems to be.
Using gratitude to move away from the problem and toward the desired solution puts us in a mental space where we are guided to take new actions. It is perfectly all right to work for new goals and feel happy before you gain them.
I used a prayer of gratitude to control my response to the weather this week and it helped me a great deal. It didn’t change the temperature outside but it led me to make some discoveries. A mid-day shower helps. So does setting the fans correctly. I’ve also changed my work schedule so I’m in my air-conditioned office during the hottest part of the day instead of just the early morning.
Anyone who follows the teaching of Ernest Holmes has heard the expression, “Change your thinking and change your life.” Followers of Science of Mind read books and take classes to learn how to pray effectively. Affirmative prayers change circumstances and solve problems. So does positive thinking. The key is to focus on the solution rather than the problem.
In Centers for Spiritual Living, we learn to use the power of our minds consistently to create positive results. We learn that there is a Power For Good and we can use it. We learn that our individual minds are connected to the One Mind. We learn that we are co-creating our lives.
We discover that positive thinking and affirmative prayer can actually bring improved circumstances into our lives because God is Love working through Spiritual Law. The Law of Attraction is always working and our prevailing belief system is creating our experience.
One aspect of powerful prayer is to see it so clearly in your mind and feel it so deeply in your heart that you accept it as real. Your prayer then closes with an expression of gratitude for the achieved goal. If you hold onto your belief, God does the work just as quickly as you can accept it.
The key is to look at what we want rather than obsess about what might go wrong or what we think is the problem. We cannot afford to be children stamping our feet and saying, “I don’t have what I want!” We need to be believers who are saying “Thank you God!” We need to trust in the power of prayer.
Many wonderful things happen when people focus on using spiritual law in their lives. Those who develop a habit of prayer and visualization attract great results because they are using unlimited God-power. Debt can change to wealth. Illness can change to health. Loneliness can change to love. All this comes through the Law of Attraction.
I have seen great demonstrations of the power to create new circumstances through consistent prayer and meditation during my years as a student and teacher of Science of Mind. I know that the dedicated student achieves great results. Gratitude helps create dedicated students. So do classes.
Classes are the best way to understand the concepts that lead to a consistent and satisfying use of mental power. This is the time of year to think about enrolling in a class at your local center or on-line. I am so grateful that it is now so easy for everyone to find an excellent class in this day and age.
When we focus on gratitude and look at desired solutions, rather than the problems, a great many good things happen. Great good can happen even if the condition cannot be changed completely. For example, I may not change the weather but I can accommodate myself to it. New solutions may become apparent. I may even decide to move North. The results of my prayer may not be exactly what I think I want, but I can gratefully celebrate the solution that emerges.
If I stamp my feet or whine because I can’t make it snow in September, I’ll be fighting the laws of nature and making myself miserable. Better to distract myself and move on. I can always choose to feel grateful for what I have and the results I get. That attitude will lift my spirits and make things better.
No matter how hopeless things look, prayer and positive thinking will create a better, not worse, situation. Stick with gratitude. It is the key to success.
What are my goals?
Do I believe they are possible with God’s help?
Do I have a solid knowledge of affirmative prayer?
How might I learn more?