Deferred Dreams

nowLast week I heard my daughter speak for the first time as a Religious Science minister. I also helped edit another friend’s  wonderful new book.

Both these women were following up on long- held dreams and their victories were even sweeter because they’d carried their visions so long.

My daughter started to become a minister about 20 years earlier and abandoned the dream because her other commitments (raising kids and building a business were priorities). My friend started her book many years ago and delayed the project because she was so involved in her other ministerial duties and projects.

I don’t think either woman was discouraged about postponing their dream. I’m sure that they were both delighted when they dusted off their vision and went after it with enthusiasm later. I know they are both delighted they had the courage to reawaken their dream and breathe life into again.

One of the most famous poems in the English language, by Langston Hughes, asks what happens to a dream that gets put off.

What happens to a dream deferred?

Does it dry up 
like a raisin in the sun? 


 The poem goes on to offer even more dubious endings to the question that I won’t quote. It is the raisin in the sun image that captures our imagination. Doesn’t it seem as some of our long-held dreams are wrinkling with age?

Sometimes we use the idea that our dream is too old as an excuse not to pursue it. Certainly, some dreams do get too old. Your dream of making becoming a professional basketball star or ballet dancer might not be practical at forty. That’s true.

However, dreams can often be modified if you still hold some kernal of your desire. You might adapt the dream to current conditions and take dancing lessons for your personal pleasure and health and or play basketball in your neighborhood park.

Age is just an excuse for abandoning most of our dreams. You can get a teaching credential at fifty and put in twenty or more good years in the classroom. You can find true love at seventy and enjoy every day and night the rest of your time together. The person who denies herself the pleasure of attaining a long held dream just because of age is usually wrong.

Sometimes people abandon dreams because they didn’t make good sense in the first place and that’s a good thing. I wouldn’t encourage anyone to reach for his dream of being a professional gambler, wing walker, bungey jumper, lion tamer, bagpipe player, or many other youthful ambitions at any age.

Take a look at some of your youthful ambitions and they don’t seem as good an idea as they did then. For example, I wanted to be a fisherman when I was 12 and I abandoned the idea at 13 because I liked boys. While I have never regretted releasing my dream of being Captain Ahab, I might enjoy fishing off the pier.

I think there is something very special about attempting to fulfill earlier ambitions, even if the dream has to be modified. Actually, there are a lot of ideas about dreaming and failure out there in the ethers. Some people think we should always pursue our dreams and never give up. That’s not always the way life works. Things happen. We make other choices.

In my opinion, the 21 year old man who wants to be a Hollywood actor and marries his pregnant girlfriend instead makes a choice. He now sells insurance in Ft. Worth, TX and I can’t say his choice was good or bad. Nor do I know whether he is a success or failure. It isn’t the choice, but his attitude about the choice that creates his destiny.

If he blames his wife constantly, it was a bad choice for both of them. If he delayed his dream and is happy about it, then it was a good choice. If he modifies his dream later, by participating in little theater, he makes his choice and his success even better by feeding his soul.

We all seek happiness and success in life. We choose different avenues in the belief that we will find the way to those generic goals. Some of us believe we will be happy as soon as attain one or the other dreams we hold. We defer our happiness until we are married, or rich, or get the promotion, and we don’t know, (or we forget) that we can choose to be happy now.

I think some of us could be happier than we are if we understood that our attitude toward life is as important as what we  choose. I also believe some of us would be happier if we were able to finish, or resurrect, that pesky dream we’ve been carrying for a while.

I  know absolutely that we’d be happier if we stopped blaming choices we made in the past for our deferred dreams of today. Check to see if you are making excuses for your unhappiness because of a “missed boat” or because you “had to” do something else when you wanted to follow your bliss.

It might be instructive if we all made a list of the past dreams we have held that still tickle our fancy. Then we might take a look at one or more treasured dreams and ask ourselves if there is some way we can take action in the direction of one of those dreams.

Don’t use this activity to berate yourself for procrastination. Simply ask yourself if you have been putting off something you’d still like to attain. Perhaps if it is a college degree, you might find time to take one on-line class this semester. Perhaps if you wanted to write a book, you can set aside 10 hours a week to work on it.

If you have a special dream that you believe it is too late to fulfill, please make a point to be creative about modifying it. Even if you wanted to be a great opera singer and didn’t get to study in Europe, you can join the local University Chorus. Even if you wanted to have six children and have none, you can become a foster parent, or school volunteer.  Even if you wanted to make a million before you were 30, you can embark on the study of investments and follow through with smaller amounts.

Dreaming is a wonderful thing. It is normal not to be able to choose to fulfill every dream. Sometimes it is best to discard the old ones and get some new goals. Sometimes it truly thrilling to achieve a deferred dream. Why not get a new affirmation – No raisins in the sun for me.                                                                           

Ask Yourself

What dream would I like to resurrect?

How should I modify it?

What’s my plan of action?

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AFFIRMATIONS

AllisWell

I am working on a book called Spiritual Practice for New Thought  and this blog post comes from my chapter on affirmations. Do you use affirmations often? I do.

I had a friend who was very healthy and happy until the day she died at age 89. She did not consider herself spiritual or religious but she always started her mornings with this statement, “Another day to be glad in.” Her grandmother taught her the words when she was a young girl.

It worked well for many years for my friend and I now use it every morning before I write my gratitude list. The affirmation has been around for at least 150 years. I’ve taught to so many others that it is safe to say it is growing in popularity.

I also started using the phrase, “Way will open”, many years ago. A friend  told me it was an old Quaker saying and I loved the idea of not having to beg God, but just letting the path present itself.As a youngster, I believed it worked like magic. Every time I used it, I visualized something like the parting of the Red Sea.

Children’s books are full of affirmations. You can interpret the “Open Sesame”  from Thousand and One Nights as an affirmation. We all know the story of the little train who affirmed, “I think I can, I think I can,” as it chugged up the hill. Some of the phrases I learned as a child were; “Something will turn up”. Or “Looks like a good day,” and “Keep on trucking” were affirmations. Whether, we know it or not, our lives are filled with affirmative statements that are direct messages to God.

Many people learned to use affirmations back in the day when a French psychologist, Dr. Emile Coue’ (1857-1926) taught his followers to say, “Every day, in every way, I’m getting better and better.” Dr. Coue’ was initially interested in hypnotism, then modified his approach and called it optimistic autosuggestion. He observed that our attitudes influence our health and other aspects of our lives so he set about teaching people how to change their beliefs. He was very popular in the 1920’s and 30’s.

In his day, Coue’ was a scientific pioneer. Today, there are many scientific studies that prove the body-mind connection and we know it is a fact that an optimistic attitude positively influences the outcome of our experiences. Coue’s work made a large impression on the public because it was true.

I know from personal experience that affirmations, combined with optimism and follow-up work, can be very effective. Before I became a minister,  I built a successful writing career through hard work and using the spiritual practice of affirmations. In those days, I had 3×5 cards plastered all over my office. Each morning, as I began my work, I read the affirmations aloud. There was hardly an empty spot on a wall because there were so many cards pasted behind my typewriter. Soon, I was on the New York Times best seller list and I sold millions of copies of my teen romances that were translated into seven languages.

Affirmations are short and powerful reminders of your goals and your connection to that Helpful Force that we call God or Universal Mind or Higher Power. Affirmations are usually one sentence long. They are written in the present tense so that you know and accept that what you are seeking is already there. Keeping your affirmations definite and in the present moment is very important. It is better to say, I am at my perfect right weight than to say, I am losing weight now. The future is never here.

You need to work with your own mind until you find a statement you can actually believe. At one time I was having difficulty losing weight and I used, I am Light. because I couldn’t believe I am slim.  I also used I make healthy food choices today. Eventually, by combining what I knew about affirmations, prayer, spiritual law and nutrition, I lost more than 130 pounds.

Here are a few common affirmations you may want to adopt for your daily spiritual practice. You can use them often without any disruption of your regular activities. You can say them silently or – if you are alone – say them out loud. In these days of electronic equipment, no one will notice when you talk to yourself as you are walking or driving. Be sure and watch the road.

Thank God I am rich.

My health is excellent.

I have a wonderful memory.

I am a straight A student.

I have a wonderful lover who cares for me.

I am healthy, wealthy and wise.

My perfect mind and my perfect body work together for my perfect good.

Life is fun.

I am beautiful.

I am handsome.

I am happy.

I love life and life loves me.

I receive money from many sources including surprises.

I am a money magnet. Money comes to me easily.

The beauty of affirmations is that they are so short you can use them anywhere. You can also stick them on your bathroom mirror, your refrigerator door, or and anywhere you frequent.

One key to using affirmations effectively is to use them often.However, if you do not get the results you wish within a few weeks, you might want to consult your teacher or practitioner for more ideas about how to do the spiritual work. Long standing beliefs can be pesky.   Please remember that your true aim is to change your thinking and beliefs about whatever goals you choose. Conscious, direct spiritual work is very powerful.

Suggested Starters

Make a list of positive sayings you heard as a child that were actually affirmations.

Make a list of affirmations you remember hearing in church, on TV, or from friends.

Make a list of three affirmations you choose to use this week.

 


Kindness News

JoyFlowerMy helper was waiting in the driveway cradling the cutest, fattest, little Cocker Spaniel. “His people are coming for him,” she said. “I’ll be in as soon as they get here.”

Later, she told us the doggie was in the street and she’d almost run him over before she rescued him. Then she read his tags and phoned his owners.

The doggie’s owners came quickly, thanked her, and that was the end of the story. No tragedy. No reward. Just a kind-hearted young woman who protected a darling dog.

There is nothing very remarkable about the episode. Our young heroine might tell her boyfriend about it that evening, but that would be the end of the tale.

I decided to write about it because it seems like an important story to me. It is an example of the kind of interaction we depend upon in civilization. Our lives depend on cooperation, courtesy, and kindness, all of which are milder examples of Love – or God -in action.

This story depends on trust and kindness. My helper trusted and wasn’t afraid to call the number on the doggie’s tags. The owners trusted her to return the dog. There was nothing unusual there.

Most of us trust most people most of the time and we think little or nothing about it. We trust the strangers we contact during our normal day.

I trust the person at the check out counter to put all my groceries in my bag. I trust the water company employee to read my meter correctly. We trust our teachers to educate our children. And so it goes.

Civilizations are built on cooperation, mutual agreement and trust. While my sweet helper went a bit farther to help that doggie than some people would, it certainly was not a rare or exceptional story.

We find feel-good stories everywhere, all the time. We may not notice, but we count on the civility of others. The stories of robbery, car-jacking, and vandalism are on the local news because they are unusual. Good deeds are not scarce so they are not TV news.

It’s important to remember that there are many, many more happy encounters than bad ones. If you doubt this, try an experiment. Pick a day and count the pleasant and unpleasant exchanges, then compare.

These days, I am very aware how much people love to help. I’m using a wheelchair lately and it almost seems like a joke the way people rush to open doors for me. My helpers and I laugh sometimes when it looks like slapstick comedy – especially when grown men seem to race to see who gets to the door first.

My doggie rescue story is cheery but it won’t be on the evening news. I’m writing about it because I want to remember that it might have had a very different ending. A small dog in the middle of the road could be killed. A dog without tags could end up in the pound. A different person might not return the dog but keep it for herself. There are other dramatic endings possible.

There was not much drama in the real story but it made a lot of people very happy. The kindness expressed in that ordinary deed made me happy. I thought about it several times during the day and smiled every time I remembered.

My helper was thrilled to have been the rescuer. The owners who looked for hours for their beloved pet were even more thrilled. It was a lovely event that brightened several people’s day. It was wonderful to have an example of how kindness lights up the world.

I heard a lot of New Thought – New Age people talking about Random Acts of Kindness a few years ago. It was a very popular idea within my circle of friends. Once, my friend and I discovered our tickets to the movies were paid by a generous stranger who was ahead of us. We never knew who performed this typical deed.

There were Random Act of Kindness cards anonymously distributed on cars. I heard a couple of Sunday talks on the subject and there was a movie based on that idea.

I hadn’t heard much about Random Acts of Kindness lately so I looked on google, and I discovered more than anyone needs to know. There is a website, a long article in Wikipedia, and many, many other resources.

It seems some woman thinks she invented the concept in 1982. Actually, the Jews had an idea like that at least 3000 years earlier. They call it the mitzvah. You can check it out for yourself but you don’t really need to know a whole lot of history to see it is a great idea.

Judaism teaches that the world is built on kindness and Christianity teaches that Jesus, was the Master Teacher of Love. Performing kind actions anonymously toward strangers is a practice that shows up in most religions somehow. Think of all those nickels dropped into all those poor boxes throughout the centuries.

In New Thought, we teach that God is Love and Love is the Source of all creation. We believe in something called the Law of Attraction which means that the good you give out will come back to you.

The Law of Attraction operates something like a boomerang. For example, if you do something nice for someone, Spiritual Law will prompt someone to do something nice for you. Whether your deed is anonymous or not, it may not be quid pro quo. You will not always get your reward from the recipient of your kindness, but Love will definitely find a way to reward you.

You don’t really have to know anything about organized religion to see the value in performing acts of kindness. All you really have to do to appreciate the uses and delights of acts of kindness is to experiment. Haven’t you ever noticed how people who do a lot for others are happy? Check it out.

Try being especially kind one day and note the results. I guarantee you will feel better internally. I also believe you will find that kindness is returned. The Universe always finds a way to pay back what you put into life.

One of the things I know and love about New Thought beliefs is that they are not complicated. You can test them in your daily life, one day at a time. Why not make kindness your hobby for the next few weeks or month? Do something kind for five people every day and track the results in your own life.

Opportunities to be kind are all around you. Opening doors for those with physical challenges is kind. Telling someone how much you appreciate or admire them is kind. Giving away clothes you don’t wear to the Salvation Army is kind.

There are so many opportunities to practice kindness and there is so much to be gained. Why not start today?


Change Happens

 

DreamUmbrella‘We are more than keepers of our brothers and sisters, we are our brothers and sisters”

Maya Angelou closed the Kwanzaa documentary with those words. I have no idea if they were written for her or if they were original, but I do know that watching TV documentaries is fascinating – especially the historicals when you’ve lived through those times.

I remember when Kwanzaa was invented (1966), or at least I remember when it became well enough known to attract the attention of white liberals. It seemed, at first, like one more example of a rising interest in African culture. I had no idea that it would become a nationally known week of celebration of the spiritual values that made an ethnic group great.

I didn’t imagine we would routinely celebrate Kwanzaa rituals in the church I founded. Of course, in those days, I couldn’t imagine founding a church. Some things look inevitable in hindsight, but they were impossible to imagine as you headed into an unknown future.

If you learn much about history from TV documentaries, you see that all constructive change movements represent the opening minds of many people. It’s not a movement if it’s only you and a couple of friends. There is an old joke about the important guy with megaphone trotting beside the parade shouting, “Slow down so I can lead you!”

History is like that. An event happens – Rosa Parks says she won’t move to the back of the bus and history happens. Cassius Clay says he won’t go to war and history happens. Betty Friedan writes a book and history happens. Or so they say.

The truth is that history only happens when a critical mass is ready to ignite. There was a whole lot of preparation for the Montgomery bus strike. Many young men and women were against the draft and Vietnam war. Many young people decided they wanted to change from “slave names” to African ones. Many women loved Friedan’s book and untied their apron strings and burned their bras.

It takes more than an isolated event. Constructive change needs to attract a crowd. There are many ways to prepare people for taking steps forward.

We reach consensus by talking in small and large groups, in classrooms and through media. Popular culture prepares people to change. That is why dictators hate open discussions and free press.

Totalitarian leaders seem to need to close schools, shut down the press, squash artists and burn books as quickly as possible. If you want to build and preserve a dictatorship you must stop conversation about change as efficiently as possible.

We live in a nation committed to freedom and we are currently experiencing a strong resistance to change. When we look at how Congress is paralyzed, we see the messy side of democracy. We despair of   our ability to change in the direction of equality and justice for all but it will happen.

Education and the arts are important if constructive change is to thrive. When looking backward the power of the arts is clear. Billie Holiday singing Strange Fruit did more to awaken the conscience of the nation than any one thing. Right now, millions are singing the Peace Song every Sunday morning. That song will accomplish as much as a treaty.

Just signing an agreement doesn’t make change happen. Slaves were emancipated over 150 years ago but some people are still working in appalling conditions. Women have had the vote since 1920 but we still get less pay. Someone could write a book called Aunt Tommi’s Cabin and show the poverty of single mothers for the heartbreaker it is.

In this modern age, I suspect that TV documentaries are best for promoting constructive change. God bless PBS. News stories also change minds.

Certainly, the civil rights movement owes a lot to news reporting. It was ordinary people who linked arms and sang as they overcame fear and violence and marched into the 1960’s. It was ordinary reporters who covered those marches.

When I look at the past, I am encouraged but things never move fast enough to suit me. It’s not enough to have a black president although it is a beginning. There is so much to be done it makes me want to jump on my soapbox.

We need major reforms in education, immigration, health, prisons, and money equality. We need to elect more women to public office. There is more but we need to tackle this now.

I am optimistic about change because so much has been achieved in my lifetime, especially for middle class blacks and young women. These changes tend to mask the number of older women and single mothers who are trapped in poverty. It also masks the appalling unemployment rate among black men.

I’m not doing much but watching documentaries at this point but it’s fascinating to compare TV history to my own personal movie. As I look back at my life, I’m grateful that I was as outspoken and on the side of the angels as I was.

I’m also moved to write an occasional social action piece on my blog. I continue to send money to causes and write letters to politicians. These are two possibilities for anyone who wants to help make constructive change.

My spiritual choices are the most important thing I do. My New Thought religion doesn’t tell me how to vote or what to say, but every time I say, “There is a Power for Good greater than I am and I can use it,” I am empowered. You are also.

I believe that spiritual beliefs based on Science of Mind can unlock many constructive changes in individual lives and also make a big difference in our common culture. Think about it. When we locate God in the present, living within each person, we’ve declared independence.

The mere idea that God is the Creative Power of the Universe and not an old white guy in the sky shifts the power base. We become spiritual revolutionaries.

Once we accept that everyone is a spiritual being with equal access to God, we are denying that anyone is more important than any other. That is radical thinking!

I believe we are living in a time of spiritual liberation or revolution. When you learn you can take charge of your life by changing your thinking, you stop looking to outside authority . We are making a great shift in our belief about where the power lives. What used to be “the best kept secret” is becoming a common idea.

I’ve seen it coming for a while. When people started quoting Oprah instead of ministers or priests, I knew we were enjoying a great sea change. The fact that she is a black woman is a harbinger of change.

Like all great movements, it’s complicated and will take time. There will be resistance but the ruling hierarchy is in big, big trouble.

I am not impatient because I have a dream. I dream I’m one of a gathering crowd of spiritual revolutionaries who know we have a God-given right to Love, Light, Prosperity, and Wisdom. We are claiming our Divine Inheritance as we practice the principles of Love and Light. We are spiritual leaders riding the waves toward life-changing acceptance of Spiritual Truth.

Ask Yourself

How have I changed?

How do I want to change?

Do I need to release fear or doubt about change?

Am I ready to change any behavior now?

 

 

 


Money, Money, Money

photo_2-2We celebrate a prosperity program in my church at this time of year. The results are always fun and often amazing. This year the signup box is decorated with my artwork so I am especially happy about it.

The program works simply. People sign up and promise to donate ten percent of any unscheduled income they receive during the time of the program.  Our ministers and practitioners pray daily for “extra” or unscheduled money to come to those who have signed up.We’ve done it for years and it is always a success.

It’s a nice fundraiser for the Center and it also teaches a great lesson on how prayer treatment works. The prosperity program demonstrates that money can come in many ways because God is really the only source of our supply. God is our Source and God is all around us.

There is no charge for the program except the tithe you promise to pay when you benefit. No risk and no charge makes it easy for people to sign up. It’s also easy to promise to donate part of the unexpected money before you see it.

I love the program because it is so much fun. Mostly I love to hear the “God works in mysterious ways” stories. Over 25 years, I have heard some wonderful ones – big and small. Here are a few I remember…

One woman inherited $5000 because her sibling found some fifty-year-old war bonds in their parents’ attic. Someone else was repaid a real estate debt of over $120,000. They decided it was unscheduled because they’d written the debt off 20 years earlier. They said they had almost forgotten about it.

One year, I received a gift of several thousand dollars from a long-term member of the Center. She sent the check and thank you note saying it was for services I rendered during the past years.

Not all the best stories are about large amounts of money. Someone found an old embroidery sampler in the garage and sold it. She sent the church $50 and showed us photos of the pioneer sampler.

Small amounts make delightful surprises even though they are not dramatic. For example, I was cleaning out my closet and found $100 in a jacket I hadn’t worn for at least five years. That was found prosperity and I was delighted.

Most amounts are relatively small but that doesn’t matter since the point is to open up our minds to accept the truth that all money comes from God. Whether large or small, the stories about the surprises help prove that Creative Mind is a great river with many tributaries.

Our Center teaches that God is always the Source of our supply.  We are well funded and, while the prosperity program tithes are welcome, our goal is primarily educational.

The “pay off” for participants is lifelong. Once we really get it that God is the source of our supply, we can transfer our reliance from a nutty boss to God working through predictable spiritual laws. We can also release any belief in being stuck or locked into bad situations. We can have peace of mind and faith in solutions to life’s little puzzles.

If you trust the news, economic terror is widespread but it need not be contagious. We can train  our minds to be immune. We simply have to change our thinking to change our economic life. Usually that means letting go of old ideas and accepting new ones.

Let’s not hang onto old ideas around money. “Not enough” thinking needs to be discarded. Once we get it that all money comes from God and God is unlimited supply, our minds open up and greater prosperity arrives. Prayer works. The Unscheduled Income program can help people accept more and more financial Good.

Another aim of the program is helping people understand they don’t need to limit their avenues of prosperity to a job, or one person’s kindness. We don’t need to build such narrow fences around the ways we accept money.

A favorite story is about the woman who asked her minister to pray for her prosperity.  Next Sunday, when the minister asked her how well the program worked, she said, “Not good at all.” Then she added, “My son wanted to give me a money gift but, of course, I couldn’t take it from him.”

If she had understand that all money comes from God, she wouldn’t turn her son down so quickly. She would allow her son to experience the joy of giving and know that the Universe would find a way to pay him back.

As a part of my personal spiritual program, I have learned to accept  as well as to give. Whenever someone offers me a gift, I take it. It is good for the person offering to give and my acceptance completes the  circle. If I don’t need it, I give it away.Whether it is theater tickets, lunch or cash, I say yes. If we are to be more prosperous, we must learn to say yes and we must also learn to be generous.

New Thought churches and centers teach that money is good to have and to circulate. We help people learn to attract more Good. Many centers have prosperity programs. You can find many excellent tools to increase your prosperity in New Thought churches. There are programs like the unscheduled income, classes, and wonderful books, such as Spiritual Economics by Dr. Eric Butterworth.

Basically, raising your prosperity level depends on the idea that your individual mind is always sending messages to Creative Mind about finances. You must change your thinking so your life will change. Prayer changes your thinking and so do other activities. You can learn to live with an attitude of expectancy rather than “not enough.”

Signing up for the prosperity program is a statement that you are open to accept more.Go to the center for Spiritual Living Carlsbad for more about this 10 week program if you are interested.

I like to think of money as fluid. Sometimes I imagine a financial waterfall. This trains my mind to stop believing the only way we can get more money is to get a raise. The best news is that God can easily find myriad ways when you are open to recieve. Unfreezing your waterfall is the tip of the iceberg but it is a good way to begin.

Raises are only one way to increase the cash flow. There are great fortunes built on good ideas. And then there are gifts, found objects, found money, your talents, inheritances, investments and inventions.

You don’t have to sign up for our program but I hope you will make an attempt to open up your thinking during these next few weeks. Begin to change your beliefs by using affirmations such as, Money flows to me from many places. or. I am a money magnet.

As you change your thinking, your life will change.

Ask Yourself

What ideas about money would I like to have?

How might I attempt to change my thinking?

What steps might I take?


Getting Gladder

dareA friend, who was born in 1908, taught me to say, “Another day to be glad in” the first thing every morning. She learned it from her mother who was born around 1880. I now  teach it to people who were born in the 1990’s. That’s how wisdom grows, expands and evolves.

Some people are certain life is getting worse, not better. They talk about the “good old days” when life was simpler and better. Some believe in places like Shangri-La, ignoring the fact that the old movie is Hollywood fiction. Other people believe in lost islands of perfection such as Atlantis where everyone was spiritually advanced.

Actually, life is getting better all the time because we gain wisdom as we age and we learn from our mistakes. We impart that wisdom to the next generation. Individual lives vary but in general, we are living better now than we did in the past.

Being a caveman or woman makes good reading in the funny papers but there was no fire to keep us warm or cook our possums. And can you imagine childbirth in the Middle Ages? How about illness before we knew about germs?

There were some dreadful side effects to the industrial revolution but we enjoy the inventions the Age of Progress brought. Technology has improved many things. In my lifetime, I have seen so many labor saving and entertainment devices introduced to my home that it is hard to count them all. I once lived without TV and hung my clothes on outdoor lines.

Our emotional and spiritual natures have also improved. There was a time when theologians seriously doubted if women had souls and witches were burned at an astonishing rate. Only men could speak in church and women had to wear hats so their flowing locks wouldn’t tempt the men.

It’s fun to daydream about Somewhere Over The Rainbow where troubles melt like lemon drops but it simply isn’t true. Life was harder in the old days.

We are much better off today. Travel is easier. Food is better. Health is better. Our collective wisdom has improved things. Slavery may not be totally eradicated but it is rare and considered criminal instead of normal. Child labor is frowned on everywhere and usually against the law.  Thank God we educate girls in nearly every part of the world.

I also believe that people are growing wiser and kinder every day.  Think about it.  Aren’t you growing more loving and less judgmental as you mature? Aren’t you more interested in others than you were as a self-centered teenager?When life is longer and gentler, it follows that people treat each other better.

Ancient Egypt was supposed to be the seat of all spiritual wisdom but  it was a brutal place for the average man who  lived to be 35. Longevity enables us to mature spiritually. The phrase “We are one,”  takes on deeper meaning when we have young loved ones. Every age brings special joys.

We tend to glorify childhood but if you watch the park playground, you will notice that children are just learning to share. In fact, sharing is a major part of the kindergarten curriculum. Yes, I believe we are created as perfect, whole and complete and I observe that it takes most of us a while to discover our perfection. Most of us  improve with age.

We love the innocence of childhood but innocence implies the need to learn. Yes, kids can teach us some things but most of the time, we must teach the children. If the Master Teacher really told us to  become like children to enter the gates of heaven, we shouldn’t take that advice literally. No sensible adult aims for a return to childhood.  We call that senility.

It’s  best not to take the Bible literally. I would interpret the phrase “become like little children” to mean releasing the resentment and pain of the past. And the best way to release those old grievances and sad stories is to live in gratitude each day.

Wisdom can be learned and taught and that is how humans fulfill some of their spiritual potential. We are here to express God and the goodness of life and we expand in spiritual wisdom as we remember to be grateful. In New Thought, we define God as an ever-expanding evolutionary principle. Spirit is Infinite Power, Infinite Love, and Infinite Possibility. That word infinite means no limits. Spirit has no limits and neither do we.

We also know that we bring more of what we focus on into our lives. We keep our thoughts as light and bright as we can to bring more lightness and brightness to us. Over the years, I have learned to train my mind toward optimism and to lighten my dark moods.

How about you? Do you start your days with joy and enthusiasm? Do you believe life is good and getting better? Are you willing to learn? Do you want better days?

If you wish for better days but doubt the possibility your life could improve, why not experiment? Start a simple spiritual practice based on thanksgiving. Gratitude is a powerful tool and everyone can use it to kickstart the Law of Attraction.

What works for others must surely work for you because we are one. I’ve learned to use one of the  simplest and most effective spiritual practices I’ve encountered in my many years of study.

Here it is:  Before you finish your first cup of coffee in the morning, write “Another day to be glad in,” in your notebook. Then list ten things (or more) that you are grateful for.

I  believe you will find this is truly a mind and heart expanding practice, especially as it becomes a treasured habit. It will work in any situation. I’ve seen it pull people out of deep depression when practiced faithfully. I’ve often had it turn around  a day that promised difficulty but turned out great. Gratitude is a lot like magic.

There is always something to be grateful for. There are always people you love, natural things you admire, entertainments you enjoy, a some surprise event like a baby’s smile or a phone call to enjoy and put on your list.

Your list doesn’t have to be complicated. Just note the simplest things, like your coffee, your doggie, your petunias, tomorrow’s football game or your favorite aunt’s name.   By making the list, you take control and you will no longer feel so helpless. It will lift your spirits.

We can all control our emotional mindset if we acquire simple techniques such as gratitude lists. It took me a long time to learn that truth but I accept it now. I used to want to blame conditions or other people but I rejoice that I am in charge of my emotional life now.

Wisdom grows through our experience. Because we are intelligent humans, we can also learn from other people’s experiences. Even a simple idea such as taking charge of our emotions can be learned through practice. Sometimes it takes a while to embrace obvious truths but it can be done.

Ask Yourself

What’s on my list today?


Appreciation

touch3Someone 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.

Ask Yourself

What happened today that I can praise?

How many ways can I thank people this week?

Do I see the unrecognized helpers?