I went to church yesterday after a six month absence. It was wonderful because I felt well enough, Rev. Debby’s talk was fantastic, my new wheelchair made it easy, I had good helpers, the music was marvelous, people were truly glad to see me, the room was packed with new people and ideas, and the room was packed with old friends and memories.
True, three days after I was dismissed from Rehab, I went to church to participate in the Memorial Service of a dear friend and long-time member of the Center. But it wasn’t a Sunday service and it was definitely a labor of love on my part.
I hadn’t attended a regular Sunday service in my church since October until yesterday, so it was a memorable event. I was truly thrilled to be there. This return was like picking up a good habit again. Have you stopped ever going to gym for a while and returned? Or reading good novels and started again?
I’ve kept up my spiritual practice and prayed with ministers, practitioners and friends so I didn’t feel out of touch. However, there really is something magical about all that loving energy coming together in one room. The glow from people’s faces truly warmed my heart. I was welcomed so enthusiastically that it was like a celebration for me but I think our Sundays are always magical. In fact, I think any church,temple, mosque, or center, where Love is taught and expressed is magical.
God doesn’t just live in church. God lives within each of us. We call this the Christ Consciousness. To know that we are one with God cannot help but make us feel wonderful. For that matter, I think being with people who know they are one with God (even if we’re not sure) makes us happy. The Master teacher said, “Where two or three gather in my name, there I am”. I think he was talking about the exponential growth of Christ Consciousness.
All emotions are contagious. You don’t have to be religious to know there is a lot of power in groups. If you want to be happy, find a happy church and attend regularly. I have a whole chapter in my Science of Mind Skills book about how important I think church attendance is. Not because you need it to save your soul – your soul is fine – because it is good for your life.
Long before I took Science of Mind classes or considered being a minister, I discovered my weeks went better when I went to church. It was purely an empirical discovery that doesn’t depend as much on the denomination as I would have thought. For my money, a good church is a happy church. Happy churches make people feel happy.
Church scared me as a child, it didn’t make happy. The first one I chose for myself was Religious Science and I liked it much better. That’s where I learned life went better if I attended on Sundays. I’ve been attending churches more or less since then. Sometimes I was a Unitarian when I lived places that didn’t offer my brand of choice. They were a happy bunch and my kind of people although they worried about social problems, We New Thought folks and the Unitarians share Emerson as a beloved founder. In both denominations, Love is the motive and there is no talk of Hell.
I’ve attended several other denominations and spiritual groups in my long and exciting life. I studied Judaism for a couple of years and then my Sundays were on Friday evenings. That showed me it wasn’t the place or time or day that provides the magic. The magic is the Love. Wherever I went, when the talk was based on Love and the people were friendly, I found the magic. This was true in traditional Christians, Theosophical, Spiritualist, Sufi, and Bahai groups I visited. Meditation services at my Yoga Center were especially wonderful.
I think anyone who wants or needs more love in life or to be happier could benefit from finding a friendly center like the mine – the one I attended last Sunday. We certainly attract a diverse crowd.
Of course, my welcome was special because I founded the Center For Spiritual Living in Carlsbad, CA twenty-five years ago. On the other hand, the essential elements were the same for everyone. We were all welcomed . There were smiling faces, hugs (if acceptable), a marvelous talk and fabulous music, fine refreshments and conversation after the service, interesting future events. You really could feel the Love in the air. It added up to potential magic pill for happiness.
All over the world, there are bigger and smaller cousins of our center. Why not find one for yourself?
By the way, thank you all who greeted me at our center. I plan to see you next week. And may I say, I am very proud of Rev. Debby, Rev. Mattie, our long term members and staff for maintaining a magical place of love and wisdom. Imagine how proud I was as I sat there and soaked it all up. Love is contagious and the world needs much of this precious virus.
What are your plans for Sunday?
When I heard my friend speaking, I thought she was expressing wisdom that usually comes with age. Eventually, most of us do learn that happiness comes from the inside.
Plenty of studies show older people are happier than youthful ones and I can see it is true for many of my friends. I’m certainly happier than I was when I was seventeen. Aren’t you?
Do you remember the desperate search for happiness you went through in high school? If you look backward for a moment, you may very well discover you are happier now than ever before. We don’t have to wait until a certain age or go through troubles, but we do need to understand happiness is an inside job.,
You can be cheerful at thirty or sixty as well as ninety. Most of us learn things as we travel through life and, if we are observant, we learn that happiness doesn’t depend on what we have. It depends on our inner wisdom, love, and strength. If we are lucky, we encounter a Happiness Teacher early who helps but that’s not as common as wish it were.
Most of us learn as we experiment with getting what we think we want. We figure it out alone. Our journey probably includes letting go of false idols; popularity, success, romance, beauty, social status, recognition, and money. Even good health isn’t the complete answer. The answer lies within our thinking and understanding.
Somewhere along the way, we stop putting our faith in appearances and begin cultivating other, less tangible, but more important values. Look around at your friends and you will see the happiest ones aren’t the ones with the most stuff. Pretty houses and fancy cars are fine but they don’t delight for long. Happiness is based on who we are, rather than what we have.
You don’t have to be any particular age to learn to be happy. Happiness is based on deeper, long lasting values that give us a sense of control over our lives. While it is true that nothing is permanent, the love you feel always stays with you. So does your satisfaction if you choose work you love. So do qualities such as a good sense of humor and curiosity about life.
These ideas are not secret. You don’t need a special guru, a secret code, or a million bucks to grasp the key to happiness. People who learn to savor the moment and feel grateful know everything they need to know to keep on the sunny side of the street. Happiness is a gift and it depends on skills just about anyone can learn. Gratitude and appreciating the moment are two wonderful tools. So is letting go of the need for other people’s approval.
Most of us have to learn these lessons as we go along and we can do it faster if we find genuine Happiness Teachers to help us by demonstrating. Our parents taught us what they knew but many did not know how to be happy. They meant well, but they couldn’t teach what they didn’t know.
Happiness Teachers are all around us. Some are neighbors and some, like Maya Angelou, are on TV. Others, like me, write books and blogs. You can recognize them by the wisdom they share and the fact they aren’t selling you “stuff”. They are happy themselves and they are happy sharing what they know.
If you are happy most of the time, you are a Happiness Teacher yourself. You know how to be content and that is what most people hunger for. Others can learn from you, just as you can learn from others. It’s that simple.
We humans learn naturally from one and another. Look around at your happiest pals. You will probably see they have developed the ability to live mostly in the present moment. You will probably notice how often they express gratitude.
We can all be happier if we pay attention. Some of this extra happiness will be based on a loss of innocence. There comes a day when we must stop believing that a new shampoo or a different mustache brush will make people love us more.
When we stop being true believers in the great American Consumer Creed, we will be happier. When we stop believing the high priests of products and start selecting activities and relationships that are joyful, we will be happier. When we begin to look within for our Love and Light, we will be happier.
I have many friends and the one I quoted at the beginning is an outstanding Happiness Teacher. She doesn’ t offer classes or advice but I’ve learned by observing her. My friend is not a wealthy woman but she has a busy and fulfilling life. She learns new things, meets interesting people and has a lot of fun. She always seems to be happy.
She chooses experiences that keep her interested in life without requiring fancy clothes or expensive tickets. Her life is valuable to others and it suits her well. I admire her intelligence, her resourcefulness, and her creativity. I have learned a lot about available community resources from her. She lives alone, far from family, but she is never lonely.
Two organizations provide the basics for her lifestyle – AA and our church. These two groups provide the spiritual and social backbones for her rich lifestyle. Not only does she meet wonderful people but also she is steeped in the spiritual teachings of gratitude and mindfulness.
Alcoholics Anonymous teaches us to be consistently grateful for the many blessings we receive. . The Spiritual Living Center also values gratitude. The Law of Attraction is a spiritual principle that describes a process for attracting more good. For example, if I desire more friends, I don’t complain. I give thanks for the friends I have. God responds to my gratitude by sending me more friends.You can observe this law in action in your own life if you experiment.
My friend is happy with AA and the church but she doesn’t stop there. Our local library is a place for gentle yoga, interesting lectures and her book club. She not only finds free books but she enjoys a variety of lectures, workshops and classes. The library is a rich source of great experiences. There are many other venues she knows about because she is awake too opportunities. She never complains about lack of any sort. She is busy and happy on a limited budget.
Her life demonstrates how wisdom grows and opens us up. When we stop yearning for things and begin to appreciate what we have, we can achieve happiness. She looks inside for guidance and strength, and makes happy choices. I’m grateful for her because she teaches me how to live well.
Are you as happy as you want to be?
Is there a Happiness Teacher in your life?
Are you a Happiness Teacher to anyone?
Do you have a plan for more happiness?
I had plenty of excuses for feeling sorry for myself, but I didn’t want excuses or sympathy. I wanted to feel better. I knew that required a lift off the self-pity pot.
When I began my ministry, Dr. Tom Costa of Palm Desert, CA was a giant in Religious Science ministry, partly because he so clearly believed in our divine right to happiness. I loved his talks; he used humor to move people along their path to freedom. He also had a gift for keeping it simple.
Dr. Tom used to say, “If you are going through Hell, don’t pitch a tent, keep on moving!”
I certainly didn’t want to pitch my tent on Depression Ave that morning so I kept doing my spiritual work and turning it over to God, When that didn’t work, I prayed and turned it over again. And again.
Nothing worked. Then, Divine Inspiration kicked in and reminded me that I had been planning to look at talks on UTube. Here was something new to try.
Only the week before, I’d listened to a talk by Rev. Chris Michaels of Kansas City. Besides the great talk, I felt as if I were visiting an old friend. That talk was so marvelous I’d decided to add internet talks to the Spiritual Practice book I’m writing.
Even though I wanted nothing more than to give up and watch old movies or go back to bed and pull the covers over my head, I opened up this computer and began to browse on the UTube.
Eureka! One of the best things about organizational conferences was hearing a variety of speakers. Now I had a wide variety of speakers at my fingertips. It was like having instant Asilomar Conferences packed into my apple box. It was like striking oil in my front yard!
Although it’s a bit difficult to navigate, it seems there are many, many well-known and wonderful Science of Mind speakers available on the internet. The quality of production is good and the talks are generally excellent.
My mind and heart were renewed after I watched four talks in a little over an hour. Suddenly, it was simple to set aside the morning’s gloom. All I needed was someone else to remind me of what I already knew. That’s the way it works sometimes.
I listened as my colleagues told stories and jokes to make their spiritual points. I desperately needed to hear everything they said because I felt stuck. Or alone.
There is something cozy about hanging out with people who share your opinions and beliefs. I loved hearing Rev. Gayle Dillon and Rev. Dr. Kathy Hearn speak on ideas that are dear to my heart. Rev. Gayle was brand new to me and Dr. Kathy seemed like an old friend. They were both delightful.
It was a wonderful treat to find my dear friend, Dr. David Walker’s talk online. There he was, telling me once again, You Are Enough. Even more amazing was seeing and hearing Dr. Ernest Holmes, founder of Religious Science, speak on the power of belief. Dr. David has only been gone a few years but Dr. Holmes made his transition in 1960 so the talk must have been transferred from an old film.
I’d be the first to admit I’m behind the times when it comes to researching the internet and I’m never going to be a “techie” but I discovered an amazing world of wisdom out there over the rainbow.
Maybe some of you readers already know what a wealth of material is available on U Tube and on individual church websites. If so, please write comments and share your tips. For instance, how do you search? I found searching by speaker’s names to be better than looking under more general topics such as Religious Science. However, that precludes contacting new speakers.
I hope every reader will check out minister’s talks on the computer but that’s not the only reason for this blog. What I hope you will take away from my experience isn’t just about the internet. The real lesson is that perseverance pays off.
I observe that many people let their emotions rule them, even after they hear about taking charge of their lives by changing their thinking, they struggle when events disrupt their plans. Many of us try to control our emotional reactions but we give up too soon.
If one spiritual practice method doesn’t work, we can try another. There are many ways to help ourselves when a bad mood strikes. We can take control of moods if we hang in there. One should never give up.
I used to have depressions that seemed to drop in to visit for no reason. In those early days emotions seemed to be something that happened to me. Science of Mind taught me I can choose my reactions to events . It may take extra effort but it works. Now listening to talks on the internet gives me another tool.
Here’s something else the experience taught me. I thought I was missing church – the people I love and talks by my own brilliant ministers, Rev. Mattie Dobbs and Rev. Debby ODonnell. It’s true I missed my church but the deepest thing I was missing was the message of Religious Science itself.
I know I can change my thinking and that will change my life. Church always helps me do that because the teaching is so clear on Sundays in a roomful of believers. On yesterday morning I needed a sharp reminder – the kind I get in church.
I go to church consistently because my life goes better. I also use reminders during the week. Recently, I’ve depended mostly on books, tapes and CD’s to supplement and replace church when I can’t get there. Now I’ve added a powerful new tool that offers a more immediate experience
I have always wished we could find a way to package the feeling of love and joy we find on Sundays. Church offers music, fellowship, committees, cookies and that’s all great but the real reason we attend church is to acquire the key for taking charge of our lives. We change our thinking and develop a new consciousness of successful living.
We can do it because God created us to express the qualities of God. We are intended to be happy, healthy, loving, and wealthy. Clearing out old ideas and accepting positive beliefs is a lifelong endeavor. It takes support and perseverance.
Every mindful thing we do moves us along in the direction of our dreams. We must take what we learn on Sunday and use it 24/7. We must internalize the message.
I’m excited about the discovery of internet talks because it creates an immediate experience. Of course, I will, continue with my other powerful tools. I will attend church, do my prayers, meditation, reading, art work and other familiar tools.
Now I have added another techie tool to my journey down the yellow brick road toward enlightenment. I’m going to listen to a few talks every week. How about you?
Is there anyone I’d like to check out?
How do I begin?