How to Find Gratitude in Your Hardest Moments  

How to Find Gratitude in Your Hardest Moments  

By Tris Thorp

One of the main pillars of today’s mindfulness-based practices is the art of cultivating gratitude. You may hear it as a theme in yoga class, read about it in self-help books, hear about it in seminars and retreats, or see it every day in your social media feeds. Cultivating gratitude every day can be a powerful catalyst for creating a more positive mindset.

You may know from experience that steeping yourself in gratitude can be a feel-good practice of bringing to mind the things you feel blessed to have in your life. You may know that sharing your gratitude with others creates a ripple effect and has a positive impact on those around you. Meditating on or making daily lists of the things you are thankful for on a regular basis is a great way to focus on what is good in the world, especially during times when there is so much uncertainty, anger, and fear swirling about.

Gratitude comes in many forms and how you experience it can vary a great deal, depending on your intention. It’s easy to hone in on the things you are grateful for when life is going well. A good economy, a happy family, a loving relationship, a successful career, and good physical health are laced with blessings. Your happiness stems from positivity, and its usually times like these that you may take your success, your relationships, your happiness, and your health for granted. Things are going so well that you may forget you are invulnerable to disharmony, loss, poor health, pain, and suffering—until it’s knocking on your door. It’s in your not-so-wonderful times that you may lose sight of the good that still exists around you.

Just like acknowledging all the amazing things you are thankful for in your life, there can also be a great deal of insight and healing available (http://www.chopra.com/articles/cultivate-the-healing-power-of-gratitude) when you can feel gratitude in your hardest moments. Remembering how difficult things once were and how far you’ve come since then creates a significant contrast in your mindset that can be highly productive.

Can you remember a time in your life when you felt the heartache from a breakup with someone you cared for deeply? Now, all these years later, are you able to look back on the situation and be thankful in some way that things ended when they did? Maybe you wouldn’t be married to your current spouse or have the children you have today. Can you think of a time in your life when you were overlooked for a job promotion only to realize down the road that it would have been the worst job ever? Looking back on your life, you may find times when something happened that seemed awful in the moment and, had it not happened, you wouldn’t have something even better in its place today. There is so much to be learned from your past painful experiences and turned into gold if you’re willing to shift your perception just a bit.

Likewise, you may have something difficult happening in your life today—an important life decision, an impending breakup, confusion about what you’re supposed to be doing with your life—and if you settle into a space of being completely honest with yourself (even when it’s unpleasant), odds are that you know there is something bigger, better, grander awaiting you on the other end. This is where finding gratitude comes in. You may be thankful for your own courage and determination or appreciative of your health as you are healing from a physical, emotional, or mental challenge. Perhaps you can find gratitude for your humility and grace in how you handled a difficult conversation, or appreciation for the fact that you have a roof over your head.

Dee:

Ok, I need to lighten up, right here, right now.  Just because these last few weeks I’ve been thrown curve balls when I’m used to, and grateful, for a calm, peaceful, uneventful life.  Thank goodness I have tools such as these articles and my AA toolbox to get me through a bit of “real life”.

I’m gonna spew here for just a bit, to take the power out of what ails me, so bypass, here if it makes you nuts.  During the Thanksgiving holiday my family came to visit.  While brushing my teeth one morning my crown just fell out.  Negative Dee:  “Shit.  I’ve had nothing but problems with my teeth.  More money.  More time.  More pain.  Whah.  Whah.  Whah.”  Positive Dee:  Call the dentist.  He gets me in right away.  Ok.  Not just the crown fell out but my tooth was still in it.  Extraction.  Not a big deal.  I’ve had plenty.  The offer of pain meds.  NO.  I can’t go there.  Not again.  Remember, Dee, that you have a high tolerance to pain and, PLEASE, remember the relapse that came from pain meds a few years ago.  Gratefully since then, I’ve stayed close to the fellowship of Alcoholics Anonymous and didn’t allow myself to get complacent…again.

On my way home from the dentist I stop to visit a friend.  When I go to leave the car doesn’t start.  I’m told the starter motor is faulty.  Negative Dee:  “Damn.  We just replaced the starter a few warranty months ago.  More money.  More time.  More pain.  Whah.  Whah.  Whah.”  Positive Dee:  We’ll order another starter motor because we can.  We have the money.  We’ll get the car in up and running properly again.  Not a big deal.  I wasn’t stuck in the middle of commuter traffic during rush hour.  And even if, I’ve got AAA.

I’m gonna pick these papayas before the birds and geckos eat them all.  I’ll just step on this branch like I’ve done many times (not realizing how big the fruit now is, and how plentiful).  “Down will go baby, cradle and all.”  The branch breaks off.  I’m about 10 feet above the ground, lava rock.  I stop.  Upright.  I gather my thoughts.  The barbed-wire fence next to the tree has stopped me from breaking any bones had I hit the ground.  Negative Dee:  “I hurt.  I’m stuck down here in lava rock and tall California grass bare-foot.  How am I going to get back up to the house?  Whah.  Whah.  Whah.”  Positive Dee:  I’ll climb up the rock wall up to the house like American Ninja Warrior.  Hey, Dee, that barbed-wire fence saved you from breaking your bones.  And when your foot stopped you at the bottom of the fence, it stopped you just in time so the barbs didn’t rip into your cherished private parts.  Ok.  So a few scratches and just five stitches.  Get over it.  You know you’ll climb that tree again.  It’s fun.”

This past weekend was crazy crunch time for this stained glass/mosaic artist.  More shows and more work than what I’m used to.  I get to the art fair, set up my display, and realize I’ve set it up back to front.  Stupid.  Negative Dee:  Why would everyone else around me have their displays set up toward the grass while I thought setting up toward the parking lot made sense?  Really?  I’ve got to take everything down and start over when this is the one time I had it together to be set up on time?  Why am I never set up on time?  Why am I always the last one to tear down and go home?  Why do I always have some much breakage of stained glass and mosaic pieces?  Whah.  Whah.  Whah.”  Positive Dee:  What a beautiful place at this old Hawaiian Church to get to turn my display around (and my attitude).  You know, Dee, being a little more mindful and in the moment wouldn’t hurt you a bit.  You know, everything is perfect right here, right now.”

Yesterday’s show “I“planned to go smoothly.  After the back-assward show the day before I strived to be totally prepared to get the day off on the right foot.  Premade my lunch.  Car with new starter was loaded up.  Clothes were laid out.  Went to bed early.  Set the alarm so I could even have some quiet time before going to the show.  When I awaken my alarm hadn’t gone off.  My phone, my alarm, had powered itself off even though it was 100% charged.  I should be at the show setting up right now and I’m just getting out of bed.  Negative Dee:  For real, God?  I’m doing my best to turn my will and my life over to you.  You know I hate surprises and do my best to avoid them.  I’m going to call in and say I’m not going to make the show.  But some of the people I met at yesterday’s show are expecting me to be there today.  And yesterday was a profitable show and today could be the same.  What am I going to do?  Whah.  Whah.  Whah.”  Positive Dee:  Shut up and suit up.  Everything happens for a reason.  Be grateful.  You’re never set up on time anyway.  Just get your tent up, take your time, enjoy the moment.  I pray a a lot while driving to the show.  The radio is not working and just works when it wants.  I sing.  I pray to get out of self-will.  My car veers to the side of the road to pick up a hitchhiker and her dog, “Toto”.  I never pick up hitchhikers.  What gives?  But she and Toto got me out of my stinking thinking.  We had a mellow enjoyable ride to the green market where I set up, or tried to, and made plenty of sales.  I turned my attitude around, or my Higher Power did.

As human beings, we all run into various situations and circumstances that range from slight annoyances to overwhelming tragedies. Even in the most difficult times, if you can slow things down in your mind just long enough to connect with your heart, you will be able to find something, even if it’s just a small shred of appreciation, that will pull you through.

Gratitude is a practice of creating a state of emotional prosperity. It’s about focusing on the good things you have. It is as relevant to be grateful for the positive outcomes from your past negative experiences as it is to be thankful for the amazing things in your life. It’s not about pretending that things were okay when they weren’t, and it’s not about ignoring the way you’re feeling when things aren’t good. Rather, it’s a practice for reevaluating what is important for you to focus on at the end of the day to help you stay positive, calm, centered, and balanced.

Dee:

Gratitude.  Humility.  Sobriety.  Recovery.  When I allow them to, when I shut off my head and live from my heart, when I remember I am not in control and turn my will and my life and me over to the care of God as I understand God, I’m in a good, loving, compassionate and peaceful place.  Being a recovering alcoholic has given me this gift.  Alcoholics Anonymous has given me this gift.  The fellowship has given me this gift.  Most importantly, my Higher Power has given me this gift.  To share my experience, strength and hope with those who enter my “Dee Bubble”.  To make positive out of negative.  To have hope.  To know we’re not in this alone.  And then to have icing on the cake with articles and various tools such as this to help guide us and take us to the next level.  Pretty sweet, yeah?

Aloha, Dee

For those interested in Art with a Message of Aloha, Recovery, Inspiration, of “good stuff”, please visit my website at www.DeesignsByHarris.com.  Mahalo and have an awesome day!

Use this guided visualization to journey through an upsetting time, find something positive that came about as a result of what happened (or what’s happening), and cultivate gratitude (http://www.chopra.com/free- programs/attitude-of-gratitude) for it.

Find a nice, quiet space where you won’t be disturbed.
Silence your phone, close the door, and settle into a comfortable seat in your favorite spot.
With your eyes closed, begin to breathe slowly and deeply.
Feel your body begin to relax from the top of your head down through your shoulders, arms, torso, hips, and finally down through your legs.
Bring to mind a time in your life when things were not going so well—a time when something happened that caused you confusion, pain, or suffering of some kind.
As you think back on this time, take in what happened during this experience.
Now begin to travel forward in your mind observing as you navigated through this situation.

Put your awareness on the person you were then—doing the best you knew how at that time.
Next, notice that where you are currently at in your life is a very different time, space, and experience. See how far you have come and become aware of the different person you are today.
As you reflect back on what happened, ask yourself, “What is the gift, positive lesson, or wisdom I received from having had this experience?” This difficult time that happened has somehow provided you with insight or knowledge that it happened for some reason that you weren’t able to see at the time.
Ask yourself, “What are you grateful for now as a result of what happened back in your hardest moments?” When you’re ready, take a few more deep breaths and open your eyes.
Do some journaling if it calls to you.

If you’re new to personal growth and things aren’t exactly spectacular in your life, it’s sometimes easier to begin by focusing on the positive things you have to be thankful for—and why you’re grateful. When you’re down in the dumps it can be a real mood-killer to try finding the silver lining in a situation that just plain stinks.  As things improve in your life and you’re feeling stronger (spiritually, mentally, emotionally, and physically), looking back on the less-than-positive experiences you’ve had and finding the gifts from those times will become easier. The biggest thing to remember when practicing gratitude is to meet yourself where you are in the moment and work with what is most readily available to you while you journey on toward greater happiness and healing.

Get the resources you need to create positivity and fulfillment each day – no matter what is going on in your life – with The Chopra Center’s Discover Your Purpose Toolkit, which includes a free e-book, worksheet, 1:1 discovery session, and guided meditation. Get your free toolkit now. (https://www.chopra.com/free- programs/discover-your-purpose-toolkit).

About the Author

Tris Thorp
Vedic Educator and Lifestyle & Leadership Coach

Tris Thorp is one of today’s leading experts in the field of emotional healing. Having spent the last decade traveling the world, being trained by and sharing the stage with Dr. Deepak Chopra in the field of consciousness and mindfulness-based practices, Tris has a real gift for integrating the ancient spiritual teachings with modern-day mindfulness to help people all over the world let go of their past and create an empowered new future. You can learn more about Tris’s work at http://www.tristhorp.com (http://tristhorp.com). Tris is Board Certified by the Association of Integrative Psychology as a Trainer of NLP, Master Practitioner of Neuro Linguistic Programming, Hypnosis,… Read more (/bios/tris-thorp)

The Chopra Center

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My Time, Your Time, and Our Time

“We spend precious hours fearing the inevitable. It would be wise to use that time adoring our families, cherishing our friends and living our lives.” – Maya Angelou
Today’s meditation shows us that we all live our lives according to our own tempo, rhythm, and flow of time. Our bodies and minds thrive when we follow the daily rhythms of sleep and activity that work best for us. Difficulties arise when we try to impose our style of personal time on others. Our meditation practice helps us listen and tune in to our own unique approach to personal time, and that teaches us to respect everyone else’s approach as well.

I’m doing it for us…

Oprah:

Welcome to Day 12 where we’ll gain fresh perspective on the importance of integrating my time, your time, and our time, within the construct of your own relationships.  Whenever I sense dissidence between coworkers, audience members, viewers, family or friends, I like to use the phrase, “Meet them where they are.”  That means in order to better align what matters most to you with what matters most to the people in your life, you need to have knowledge of their core belief systems, their needs, their priorities and their lifestyle.  Not everyone sees life the way you do.

Fixating on your own ideal personality traits is not only destructive to you, it excludes your partner from revealing his or her true self, and that is a recipe for dysfunction.    There are people who find time management restrictive.  They like to leave things loose

and spontaneous.  A more structured person might interpret this as flighty or flaky or even rude.

Don Miguel Ruiz, the author of The Four Agreements, once told me, “At the root of any personal drama lies assumptions.”  Without allowing yourself to be taken advantage of work to find common ground, assume nothing, examine why schedules put your partner or coworker on edge and further excavate why you take planning and punctuality so personally.  When you meet people where they are you love them at a level where they can receive it.  In return they love you with their fullest heart.

Dee:

This time scheduling reminds me so much of a trip I made to Australia with my family.  When I think about how this all happened I am reminded that I had stopped going to AA meetings, stopped giving what was so freely given me when I needed it most, stopped letting my Higher Power run the show, etc.; in other words, I was back in my diseased stinking-thinking but just hadn’t drank…yet.

Anyway, we all agreed on what we wanted to get accomplished during our visit Down Under.  We had x amount of days, x amount of time, and x amount of miles (or kilometers) to cover.  I did the spreadsheet thing and put together an itinerary.  It was horrendous.  Everybody hated me and we were so stressed out sticking to the game plan that no one was having a good time.

So the next year when my husband and I made the trip back Down Under to once again visit his family and friends, I let my husband know he got to come up with the game plan.  He didn’t.  Everyday was spontaneous.  It was awesome.  We did everything and visited with everyone we wanted to.  No stress.  No time line.  With plenty of time to enjoy the moment.

Moral of the story, at least for me, is not to get complacent with my recovery.  Everyday I must remember that I am an alcoholic with an alcoholic way of thinking.  I must remember that my Higher Power has everything in control and is doing the driving; I am just along for the ride of my life!  So today, staying close to the fellowship of A.A., I go with the flow, live in the moment, and am spontaneous.  I am happy, joyous and free once again.  I have contentment and peace beyond my wildest dreams!

Let’s listen to Deepak and then we’ll meditate together.

Deepak:

In family and relationships there’s no single time management that fits every person’s needs.  All of us are biologically programmed to have our own daily rhythms of sleep and activity, hormones and brain responses.  From childhood, minds and bodies naturally find their own time frame.  Sleep research shows some people are early risers while others are late risers.  This pattern holds for life if the person is allowed to observe their own circadian rhythm.

Problems arise when we expect others to adhere to our own personal time frame.  To someone used to rushing a relaxed approach to time is wasteful, lazy, impolite and the other person’s fault.  To someone used to letting things happen in their own fashion a precisely organized sense of time feels pressured, controlling, overly anxious and, perhaps, a sign of insecurity in the other person.

This is the clash between my time and your time, which we’ve all experienced.  From the ego’s viewpoint, my time is better than changing to accommodate your time can be irritating and frustrating.  In reality any style or personal time is just that; it’s personal.  There is no workable way to handle time until two people decide to mesh.  They begin to respect and accommodate the other person’s different style.

This creates an opening for something new…our time.  Our time is mutually agreed upon.  One partner can rush around all day while the other doesn’t.  But when they come together such differences are forgotten.  Our time is open, honest and considerate.  People are quick to say, “I don’t have time for this,” or “Why are we arguing about the same thing over and over?”  But the real meaning behind these words isn’t about time but space.  “I don’t have space for you means that the other person isn’t given openness and emotional access.

When you create our time you also give the other person space.  Our time means going beyond ego limitations whether relationship itself is given to grow.  That won’t happen just by making time to be in the same room together.  Your intention must shift from me to us.  There should be a place for close physical contact and emotional bonding.  Our time can’t be taken for granted.  A living relationship has needs that arise every day.  When two people agree on a simple fact it becomes natural to respond to those needs the way you tend to your own.

Dee:

Deepak’s words of wisdom remind me so much of the relationship my husband and I have.  We are both busy doing our own things.  We are blessed to wake up and go to bed together, eat our meals together, and share daily tidbits of life together.

We used to spend one day a week traveling and exploring around the Big Island of Hawaii where we live.  But we stopped.  We got busy.  When I suggest we take a day trip he tells me he is busy with this project or that.  When he suggests I do something with or for him, I deliver the “I am busy with the business and I’m doing it for us” bullshit.  Today I know better.  I stop and realize how blessed I am to have him here in my life.

Earlier this year my husband was care-flighted to Oahu for triple-bypass surgery.  This was very sudden following a cardiologist consultation.  All we had were the clothes on our backs.  I am ever so grateful to have been rigorously committed to my recovery at this time or I would have drank.

As he was under the knife the hours seemed like an eternity.  I found a Pandanus tree on the hospital grounds which kept me busy weaving lauhala bracelets.  It also kept me connected not only to my Higher Power but to the spirit of Hawaii.  When the stinky thoughts of gloom and doom and hearing the doctor tell me he didn’t make it and flying home alone snuck into my head, I embraced those thoughts and then let them go in the clouds that so beautifully surround our islands.

I’m happy to say my husband pulled through his surgery and has a clean slate of health.  I’m also happy to say that his snoring no longer annoys me nor keeps me awake.  I think of it as the ocean, sometimes calm, sometimes tsunami strength.  But if I think of my life in quiet without my husband…   I won’t go there.  And when I get cranky because of the whiskers in the sink after he shaves, or the food on the kitchen floor when he cooks, I’ll miss all that when he’s gone.

Valuable, valuable lessons my Higher Power has given me to help me to a higher level of greatness and compassion.  Today I get to love my life, love myself, and everything in between.  This I owe to a Power Greater Than Myself and to the fellowship of Alcoholics Anonymous.

Aloha, Dee

For those interested in Art with a Message of Aloha, please visit my website at DeesignsByHarris.com.  Or to subscribe to my email list for updates of inspirational art in my line, stories behind the art and me, the artist, and for occasional discount offers, please subscribe at https://mailchi.mp/f96bf32af105/welcome.  Mahalo and have a spontaneous day!

As we prepare to meditate together let’s take a moment to consider our centering thought, “I cherish our time together.  I cherish our time together.”  Now let’s prepare for our meditation.  Make yourself comfortable and close your eyes.  Begin to be aware of your breath and just breathe, slowly and deeply.  With each breath allow yourself to become more deeply relaxed.

Now gently introduce the mantra, “Ananta Swa Bhava.  Ananta Swa Bhava.”  This mantra means “My true nature is endless in time and space.”  This mantra helps you recognize yourself as infinite unbounded awareness.  Repeat it silently to yourself, “Ananta Swa Bhava.  Ananta Swa Bhava.  Ananta Swa Bhava.”  With each repetition feel your body, mind and spirit open into an expanded state of awareness.  Whenever you find yourself distracted by thoughts, noises, or physical sensations, simply return your attention to silently repeating the mantra, “Ananta Swa Bhava.  Ananta Swa Bhava.  Ananta Swa Bhava.”

CENTERING THOUGHT

I cherish our time together.

SANSKRIT MANTRA

Ananta Swa Bhava
My true self has no limits or boundaries.

From Deepak and Oprah’s 21-Day Meditation Series, “Making Every Moment Matter”, a Chopra Center Meditation.

The Biology of Time

“The distinction between the past, present, and future is only a stubbornly persistent illusion.” – Albert Einstein

In reality, time is not a fixed experience that follows the ticking of the clock. It is a fluid, changeable experience. Our bodies measure time in multiple ways depending upon the biological function in various cells and according to different biological rhythms. Our chronological age can vary dramatically from our biological or psychological age. We can change our experience of time through our beliefs, attitudes, and behaviors. In today’s meditation, we learn that the more we abide in present-moment awareness, our minds and bodies, our beliefs and behaviors, become attuned to the cycles of Nature. Life flows with the timeless rhythms of the universe.

OPRAH:

Welcome to Day 2 – The Biology of Time.  Today our focus is how to gain a better understanding of the biology of time.  I’m always fascinated by the inner workings of the body.  Each one of us has an internal clock that regulates just about every process within our own bio-system.  When I think about my own heart quietly pumping away as it has done for the last 63 years bringing life to all other areas of my body. sometimes I think about that, it just makes me want to weep at the miracle of it.

I’ve come to appreciate that my body operates at its own pace, breathing, blinking, seeing, and listening all through nature’s course.  All I have to do is stay attuned to it and will experience that wonderful state of flow where everything within me is aligned.  I realize that my body, just like yours, operates with precision.  It knows that I function best on at least 5-1/2 hours of sleep.  Anything less than that and I notice a lack of focus, listlessness, a waning energy, along with less sharper thinking.  I don’t use an alarm clock…yet.  In perfect rhythm I wake up naturally in between 7:16 and 7:23 every morning.

Most work days are filled with projects I’ve committed to, replying to emails and travel and attending meetings.  The pace can sometimes be hectic but, no matter what, everything for me begins and ends with stillness.  I describe it as a conscious awareness of my presence within the greater presence of all…everything there is.

Whether I’m paying attention to the way the sun is rising or how the mist is rolling in over the trees, I pay attention.  In that moment there’s no 3 o’clock meeting to think about or 6 P.M. dinner to plan and I don’t think about the inevitable daily challenges that arise.  I really have mastered staying in the moment.  I simply trust that when the time comes my whole self will be fully connected to the moment and rise to meet each task just as it did when I first opened my eyes.

Now let’s listen to Deepak and then we’ll meditate.

Dee:

It seems for me as well that just a few moments after opening my eyes in the morning the list of “to do’s” starts to take over my brain.  Before the fog lifts and totally fills my head, I stop to enjoy the moment, to be grateful, and to turn my will and life and “to do” list over to the care of God as I Understand Him.  In other words, I let my God drive while I enjoy the ride in the passenger seat knowing that all my cares, worries, and “to do’s” will be taken care of just the way they’re supposed to.

If I try to control and perfect my to-do list myself I become pretty overwhelmed pretty quickly.  My head takes over; my heart gets turned off.  Old behavior comes into play.  I forget to stay in conscious contact with my Higher Power.  I forget to be humble and grateful.  So I turn it all over and everything that needs to get done today gets done, usually in a way more successful way than I could have ever done myself.  Pretty sweet!

Deepak:

Looking at carefree children playing we may say wistfully, “They’re having such a good time.  I wish it could last forever”.  But children lost in play have stepped out of time; their experience has nothing to do with clocks, deadlines, or anything of the sort.  This is an important clue about how to approach the reality of time which is a fluid and malleable experience.

We assume time is like an arrow moving in a straight line from past to present to future and measured by a ticking clock.  But time is actually measured by your cells.  It’s a biological function in the body.  The body has dozens of clocks that control long periods of time like when baby teeth appear, or puberty or menopause.  There are medium-term clocks for things like sleep and digestion along with short-term clocks like the rhythm of your breathing and heartbeat.

Our biological age is not necessarily tied to our chronological age.  The body of a stressed-out, unhappy 30 year-old may function like a 50-year old’s body.  How we interpret our experience affects our biology.  Chemical changes in the brain determine whether time is racing or slowing down.  Moments frozen in time are human perceptions.  Even the experience that time vanishes when we go to sleep is an experience based in biology.

So looking at time from the inside isn’t simply psychological.  It’s the right perspective for changing anything you want.  Einstein had a profound thought about this when he said, “The distinction between the past, present and future is only a stubbornly persistent illusion.

Go past the illusion and you realize two amazing things.  First, you are the master of time because your beliefs, attitudes and lifestyle choices alter all the effects of time.  Second, if past, present and future are illusions, you are timeless.  This may seem beyond our experience but in our meditation practice we discover that our present awareness is already timeless.  Ever-present awareness is who and what we always are.  That state of peace and calm allows us to navigate the world of clocks and deadlines without being overwhelmed by it.

Dee:

Weird to think about when I was active in my alcoholism, the “good” Dee was still in there waiting to come out.  Now that I am in recovery I must remember that the “bad (alcoholic) Dee is still in there waiting to come out.  Being active in alcoholism and being active in my recovery definitely alters my beliefs, attitudes and lifestyle choices during that time.  The “getting out of self and feelings” that occurs while active in my disease might seems comforting for the moment, but the fact that “more, more, more” comes into my brain when the first drink enters my body is so not comforting.  It’s slavery.  It’s negative.  It’s sick!

Staying in the present moment of recovery always gets me back into gratitude and humility.  I am so grateful that today I do not HAVE to take a drink.  I have a choice today.  My choice is to pass for right now so that I can avoid the “more, more, more”.  I can experience the state of peace and calm so as not to be overwhelmed by clocks and deadlines.  Peace, calm, gratitude, recovery for me all comes with and from a solid relationship with a Power Greater Than Myself.

Mastery of time is a mind-body project because both are involved in how we experience and process time.  Pay attention to your natural biorhythms, especially sleep.  Sleep resets biorhythms that have become distorted during the day.  Time becomes your friend when you attune yourself to the flow of life as your body is meant to experience it.

Dee:

While actively drinking my mind and body were enslaved to alcohol.  Life got in the way of my drinking.  I never slept; I just passed out and came to.  Good REM?  I think not.  I am now fortunate to sleep most nights without an alarm clock waking me in the morning.  Just my body and mind excitedly saying, “Sweet!!!  We’re ready to take on the day!!!”  I once again feel friends with not only time, but life itself, and, more importantly, I’m friends with ME!

As we prepare to meditate together let’s take a moment to consider our centering thought, “I attune myself to the flow of life.  I attune myself to the flow of life”.  Now let’s prepare for our meditation.  Make yourself comfortable and close your eyes.  Begin to be aware of your breath and just breathe slowly and deeply.  With each breath allow yourself to become more deeply relaxed.

Now gently introduce the mantra, “Shara Vana Ya.  Shara Vana Ya”.  This mantra attunes our mind and body to the cycles of nature.  As you repeat the mantra feel your mind and body absorb the beneficial influence of the universe.  Repeat it silently to yourself, “Shara Vana Ya.  Shara Vana Ya.  Shara Vana Ya”.

With each repetition feel your body, mind and spirit open into an expanded state of awareness.  Whenever you find yourself distracted by thoughts, noises or physical sensations in the body, bring your attention back to silently repeating the mantra, “Shara Vana Ya.  Shara Vana Ya.  Shara Vana Ya”.

CENTERING THOUGHT

I attune myself to the flow of life.

SANSKRIT MANTRA

Shara Vana Ya
My awareness is aligned with the creative power of the universe.

Dee:

My awareness is aligned with the creative power of the universe, my Higher Power, my God of My Own Understanding.  Life is sweet.  I wouldn’t go back one day, one minute, one second.  I finally feel a contentment with myself and my life that took 62 years to achieve.  Today I have many good years to give back, to live with purpose.  When I was 20 I had nothing and felt like a waste of space on the planet.  Nope.  Wouldn’t go back one second.

Aloha, and have an awesome day loving yourself…Dee

For those interested in Art with a Message of Inspiration, Recovery and Hope, please visit my website at www.DeesignsByHarris.com.  For those interested in signing up for my email updates with new products, the story behind the art and me, the artist, and special deals, please sign up for my email updates at https://mailchi.mp/f96bf32af105/welcome.

From Deepak and Oprah’s 21-Day Meditation Series, “Making Every Moment Matter”, a Chopra Center Meditation.

HOW TO LET LIFE FLOW

Day 14 – How to Let Life Flow 

“Let everything happen to you, beauty and terror. Just keep going.” – Rainer Maria Rilke
Today’s meditation is about learning to let your life flow without resistance or effort. Living in the flow is not something you figure out, or practice to get right. Living in the flow is a state of consciousness; it is the natural consequence of being self-aware in the moment. In that state of expansive, open, accepting awareness there is no feeling of lack or sense of threat. So there is no need to defend yourself, be aggressive, or resist in order to feel safe and complete. To live in the present is to flow with the universe.

Dee:

Living in the flow is something I learned to do once I was in recovery.  I learned a whole new way of life…to live from my heart, rather than from my brain.  Until getting clean and sober I rationalized everything.  As an intellectual human being I “thought” that the brain controlled everything, that whatever I set my mind to, I could get.  My mind could not get me sober.  Letting my mind go and living from my heart, in the flow, got me sober.

Oprah:

Welcome to Day 14, our final day in week two – How to Let Life Flow.  One of my favorite words right now is “flow”.  Have you ever heard an athlete, artist or musician describe what it’s like to be in the zone?  They use words like tunnel vision, complete calm, or ultra-focus.  Some even liken it to a spiritual experience, a state of elevated awareness where time feels like it’s slowed down or completely falls away.  Most of us have been in the zone at one point in our lives.  It’s that exhilarating stretch when you know you’ve found the most powerful current and everything just seems to fall into place.

Dee:

In the zone brings back an entirely different experience to me.  When I was still very active in my disease, I offered to babysit my neighbors’ child.  When they brought her to my house I had been drinking, probably most of the day.  I don’t remember.  All I remember is that I didn’t babysit.  I really don’t remember that as I was in a blackout.  But my kids told me that they came…and they left.

I hate blackouts.  Not knowing what I did is the most awful, gut-wrenching feeling.  “Fishing” for clues is a horrible task.  I could never say that “I drank too much, can’t remember what I did, please tell me.”

Quite a long time later when I was sober and working my steps I got the guts to visit my neighbors, to make my amends.  Gut-wrenching again.  Fishing again.  They told me that when they brought their daughter over so they could enjoy a nice dinner together they found me “zoned” out.  Thus, in the zone holds a different meaning to me.

So then, what causes us to get off track or feeling like we’re suddenly swimming upstream?  Basketball legend Lebron James is considered one of the most intensely focused competitors to ever play the game.  And I once asked Lebron what could possible cause an MVP like him to lose his rhythm on the court.  His response was profound.  He said, “I get off my game when I start playing for others rather than playing for myself.”

This is true for all of us.  We fall off-course the minute our intention shifts from following our heart to responding to what we think others believe.  Spiritual teachers call that mindset “egoic”.  It’s that false self creeping in, constantly trying to take us down, or to prove, or to show, or to show off.  When that happens do what you can to find and follow your flow again,  That’s what I teach all of my girls.

Dee:

Throughout most of my life I was a people-pleaser.  I know now that I was not comfortable in my own skin.  I did not know who and what I was.  I had no purpose.  I had no Higher Power.  I was living from my brain and not from my heart.  I did not love myself.  Thus I would do whatever it took to make you feel highly of me because I didn’t.  I would put you first, before my family and, definitely, before me.

Today, in recovery, I know, I feel, that I no longer have to do that.  I am finally comfortable in my own skin and even love myself for who and what I am…an alcoholic in recovery who has a Higher Power, who has a purpose to carry the message of experience, strength and hope, who can live from my heart…the flow…and stay out of my head.

If you’re in a situation where you feel out of place, uncomfortable, or it’s just not coming together, change direction; find your flow.  Follow the natural rhythm of your own life and you will find a force far beyond your own because you’re connecting to the force.  That’s all there is.

Let’s listen to Deepak teach us to let life flow and then we’ll meditate.

Deepak:

Change is inevitable, as we all realize, but we accept some changes while resisting others.  We push for the outcomes we like and reject the ones we dislike.  We hold expectations that some major event, getting married, having a child, earning a promotion, will make everything better.  And when things don’t turn out the way we anticipated we are disappointed.  These patterns of expectations and disappointment stop the flow of life, as many people experience on a daily basis.

Dee:

I love the slogan I learned in AA, “No expectations, no disappointments.”  Going with the flow is a way better, easier, freer way to live!

The opposite of flow is resistance, pushing against what is happening right now for your desired outcome.  Flow is about living without preconceptions or resistance.  However, people will say, “Sometimes I have to resist if I face a situation that is harmful or headed for failure.”

But flow isn’t about passively giving in to everything and, certainly, not giving way to negativity and failure.  Instead flow involves a trust in life to bring what is needed.  In any given situation you are open and offer no resistance.  If the present moment calls for strength, it arises.  If the present moment calls for a creative breakthrough or comment that soothes tension, it arises.

Dee:

Recovery has gifted me with a Power Greater Than Myself, a God of My Own Understanding.  It has taken many “one day at a time”s to be able to trust, surrender to, accept and embrace this Power.  But I have experienced time and time again that if I do trust and let things happen, if I turn off the self-will and control, that things do happen greater than I could ever have anticipated.  I do get what I need, not what I want.  It’s so perfect!

Any and all responses, including love, insight, truth, creativity and kindness, are available when you’re in the flow.  There is no cut and dry response.  You are as flexible in your response as life itself.

Clearly the way of life ingrained by society isn’t like this.  We are trained to have automatic reactions.  We feel safe behind the familiar boundaries the ego has created.  Being totally open without expectations may initially sound threatening.  But in meditation we experience that this open, unbounded awareness is safe.  In fact, contrary to the ego the only place without fear is total openness.  It is the place where the present moment can do whatever it likes because we are secure in ourselves.  We don’t need to defend our ego boundaries and we don’t suffer because our expectations weren’t met.

Living in the flow is an experience that needs to be nurtured and understood firsthand.  There are definite stages of letting go…working through old fears, dropping your fixed reactions and learning the art of allowing.  As the ego loses its grip a more holistic way of life evolves.  Only in wholeness can there be flow.  Achieving this new state involves a journey into a new conception of time.

Dee:

Yet another reminder from the word “wholeness”.  While in a 21-day treatment program every morning in Group we were required to introduce ourselves and say an affirmation.  My affirmation was, “I am a good person.  I am a whole person”.  Wow.  This brings back so much transitioning from active alcoholic to grateful alcoholic in recovery.

I hated myself.  I looked myself in the mirror every morning physically putting the letter “L” on my forehead because I was a loser; I could not go a day without drinking.  I felt like shit.  I was a waste of space on the planet.  I had no purpose.  I was so not “a good person” nor “a whole person”.

Is it odd or is it God that today much of my business comes from mosaic affirmations, motivational and inspirational quotes.  And I get to share with customers and people who enter my “Dee bubble” how I got started with affirmations, if they inquire.  They love it.  I love it!  The rigorous honesty.  The openness.

As we prepare to meditate together let’s take a moment to consider our centering thought, “I let my life flow without resistance.  I let my life flow without resistance.”  Now let’s prepare for our meditation.  Make yourself comfortable and close your eyes.  Begin to be aware of your breath and just breathe, slowly and deeply.  With each breath allow yourself to become more deeply relaxed.

Now gently introduce the mantra, “Aham Brahmasmi.  Aham Brahmasmi.”  This mantra  means my individuality is the totality of life.  It reveals that our present moment awareness is always in relationship to everything and everyone in the universe.  Repeat it silently to yourself, “Aham Brahmasmi.  Aham Brahmasmi.  Aham Brahmasmi.”  With each repetition feel your body, mind and spirit open into an expanded state of awareness.  Whenever you find yourself distracted by thoughts, noises, or physical sensations, simply return your attention to silently repeating the mantra, “Aham Brahmasmi.  Aham Brahmasmi.  Aham Brahmasmi.”

CENTERING THOUGHT

I let my life flow without resistance.

SANSKRIT MANTRA

Aham Brahmasmi
The true nature of myself is the wholeness of the universe.

Dee:

Mahalo for your time in sharing this meditation experience with me.  This is one small way I get to share my purpose…sharing my Experience, Strength and Hope.  If I don’t give it away, I can’t keep what was so freely given me when I needed it most.

Aloha, Dee

For those interested in my mosaic affirmations please check out my website at www.DeesignsByHarris.com.  Mahalo and have a great day!

From Deepak and Oprah’s 21-Day Meditation Series, “Making Every Moment Matter”, a Chopra Center Meditation.

Where Does the Time Go?

WHERE DOES THE TIME GO?

“Consciousness is beyond time, consciousness is timelessness.” – Osho

Over these next three weeks, we will explore that state of awareness in which every moment matters. The pressures of our family, jobs, and relationships can make us feel that we don’t have enough time to do the things that are important to us, sometimes leading to a sense of being unfulfilled.

Together we will discover that we don’t get true fulfillment through time management, but rather by living in the here and now. Wisdom traditions tell us that the present moment is outside of clock time; it is the eternal now. This Meditation Experience will show you how to thrive in the world of time when you live from your timeless self.  In the following weeks, we will learn how to embrace time as the realm of self-awareness, self-unfolding, and total inner fulfillment.

In today’s meditation, we learn that time is really about fulfillment. Using your time well comes down to how fulfilled you are in the present moment. When we feel content and centered inside, everything we do is more effective, efficient, and satisfying. On our meditation journey together, we will experience and understand that when we manage the time demands of our life from our timeless self, then every moment of life matters.

Dee:

Right here, right now, is perfect.  I sit listening to this meditation.  Typing it really solidifies it for me.  And then I get to share it.  I feel content.  I feel light.  The to-do list of my day pops in and out of my head, but this is what is in front of me right here, right now.  Taking some time for Dee will make a Dee a better person today.

Oprah:

Deepak and I welcome you to our 21-Day Meditation Experience…Making Every Moment Matter.  Like so many of you I, too, have struggled with time management.  How to honor my own time as well as the time that belongs to the people in my life.

In the coming weeks we’ll look beyond how we perceive the limitations of time.  We’ll learn how to release the power of the almighty “to do” list, reframe the constant state of “busy”, and replace those stress points with life-changing lessons in how to make every moment count.

In week one we will gain a new understanding of the principles of time in order to relieve the all too familiar anxiety of racing against the clock.  In week two we’ll explore how our perception of time is deeply affected by the wounds of our past.  By learning to let go of that angst we’ll experience how living in the moment can bring an entirely new meaning to the hours, minutes, and seconds of the day.

And finally in week three time is expanded as we understand how breathing in the depth of each moment sharpens our experience until the pressure of time is lifted all while our productivity increases.

Welcome to Day 1, “Where Does the Time Go?”  Let’s begin our first day answering the age-old question, “Where does the time go?”.  I’ve come to believe that busyness is the catch phrase, in fact a trap for all of us in these times.  Some people are so weighed down by the pressure to finish tasks, to meet goals, and check off the box that they’re folding into themselves.  Others wear their overwhelming schedule like a beleaguered badge of honor, and still more allow resentment to take hold until all those “to do’s” start to feel like “have to’s” and life quickly, as we know, spins out of control.

I remember talking with Tina Turner after she retired from her legendary music career.  She was newly married to her long time love and living in Switzerland.  She told me that despite all of the rock star attention, the awards and accolades her life onstage brought her, it also could be depleting.  Tina told me her last tour took every ounce of energy out of her but she stayed focused on the greater purpose; she knew eventually that life on the road would lead her home.  Not just to her house, but the place where she decided she wanted to be.

This was a great lesson for me.  At the time I was traveling over two-hundred days out of the year for interviews, a movie I was filming, for meetings to support the O Network.  And, like Tina, I was exhausted.  But I had not yet decided for myself what was worthy of my time.  Instead of listening to the signs along the way I started to feel overwhelmed and frustrated until finally I was no longer able to fully focus on all there was to do.

I made a proclamation to myself, finally, and to those around me that this was not the life I envisioned for myself.  I knew I was the one who had to determine what mattered most, create a different relationship with the time in my day, and allow for space in every day to restore myself.   By doing that I found freedom and maybe a few extra moments.

Dee:

In 1998 I realized that this was not the life I envisioned for myself.  It wasn’t about time or busyness.  Is was about my alcoholism.  Every moment of everyday during this part of my journey through life was focused only on the next drink.  When can I have it (is right now appropriate or will I be found out)?  Where can I buy it (did I buy there yesterday and what will they think)?  Do I have responsibilities that will be affected if I drink now (will I be fired if a co-worker smells alcohol on my breath)?

I was forced into a proclamation to myself when I didn’t show up for work.  Too drunk.  I was found out.  That was the life-changing moment for me, my bottom, when I finally had to ask for help.  My life has continued to improve since that day…

Today I feel exactly as Tina did during our conversation.  These are my glory days, this moment, this one, right now.  Your journey to make peace with time also begins now.  Let’s listen to Deepak and then we will meditate together.

Deepak:

What was the best time of your life?  If you can say, “Right now is the best time of my life” you are saying something that comes naturally to everyone when their inner life is fulfilled.  Fulfillment is what time is all about because fulfillment is what life is about.  Without inner fulfillment time isn’t on your side.

Dee: 

I really can say that right now is the best time of my life.  I wouldn’t go back one day, one minute.  I have a contentment in recovery that I never had before.  I am freer and finally comfortable in my own skin.

But that does not mean I am not going crazy right now running my own business, getting ready for the holiday selling, cleaning the house for holiday visitors, trying to get everything done so that I can enjoy my company and be my best when I’m out selling.  

I’ve been working around the clock taking time only for sleep and a bit of eating.  This is not how I usually fly.  Taking time out to listen to this meditation series and writing this blog is exactly what I need to get me back centered before getting back to a long night of work.

This redefines time management.  Instead of being about scheduling, being on time, meeting deadlines, and getting everything you want to do for yourself and with your family and friends, time management is about how you feel inside.  It’s about a state of awareness that has made time an ally on your personal path to fulfillment.

When we look at the clock and say with exasperation, “Where did the time go?”, the real question should be, “Where did the opportunities go?”  When you manage time from the inside opportunities aren’t missed.  You are less frustrated and frantic.  But when you manage time poorly every day is a race against the clock.  This, too, is an inner choice, not the fault of time running out.  At any time of the day you can feel stressed or relaxed.  Like you’re standing still or moving forward.

Dee:

Tonight when I go to bed I know I can be proud that I did the best I could.  I will never be perfect, but doing the best I can is always reassuring.  And being humbled and grateful for these accomplishments really gets me back in the moment.  I am not in control.  I have a Power Greater Than Myself to guide me and watch over me letting me know that everything is going just the way it’s supposed to.

Most people don’t recognize this choice and, therefore, let the rush of daily events dictate their mood and behavior.  Of course there are external stresses and unexpected setbacks, but really the difference between a good day and a bad day is the inner world of the person who’s having it.

We must first address some basic issues about time so that you can feel on top of things instead of never knowing where time goes.  We all heard the adage about taking time to stop and smell the roses.  Good advice.  But it would be far better to be the gardener who grows the roses and lives with them constantly.

The Worlds Wisdom Traditions have pondered and taught the mystery of time for centuries.  The first teaching was presented today.  Look inward.  What’s important isn’t the hours and minutes of the clock, but your experience.  How you relate to the passage of time makes all the difference and, ultimately, it will define how well you live in the present moment, how you age, your sense of fulfillment, and the satisfaction of a life well spent.

As we prepare to meditate together let’s take a moment to consider our centering thought, “The best time of my life is now.”  “The best time of my life is now.”  Now let’s prepare for our meditation.  Make yourself comfortable and close your eyes.  Begin to be aware of your breath and just breathe slowly and deeply.  Within yourself allow yourself to become more deeply relaxed.

Now gently introduce the mantra, “So Hum.”  “So Hum.”  This mantra means “I am” and connects our awareness to the timeless simplicity of our true self.  Pure awareness.  Repeat it silently to yourself.  “So Hum.”  “So Hum.”  “So Hum.”  With each repetition feel your body, mind and spirit open into an expanded state of awareness.

Whenever you find yourself distracted by thoughts, noises or physical sensations, simply return your attention to silently repeating the mantra, “So Hum.”  “So Hum.”  “So Hum.”

CENTERING THOUGHT

The best time of my life is now.

SANSKRIT MANTRA

So Hum

I am.

Dee:

The best time of my life is now.  So Hum.  I am.  I am the best Dee I can be.  I am not alone.  I am a good person and a whole person (my affirmation I said every day in group while I was in a treatment program).  I surely am a good person and a whole person which is night and day of the person who entered rehab in 1998 and hated herself.  I have a purpose to share with you today that you are the best you can be right here, right now, and that is perfect!

Aloha, Dee

For those interested in Inspirational and Motivational Art with a Message, please check out my website at www.DeesignsByHarris.com for great affirmations and quotes.  Mahalo and have a great day!

From Deepak and Oprah’s 21-Day Meditation Series “Making Every Moment Matter”, from the Chopra Center.

The World

I found this photo in my Photo Saves.  I don’t know where I got it, nor when, why or from whom, but it must have touched me that day I saw it, so I kept it.  Well, it’s really resonating with me again today, today, at this very perfect moment in front of my nose.

The world is increasingly designed to depress us?  Well, what really is the world?

world

noun

1 he traveled the world: earth, globe, planet, sphere.

2 life on other worlds: planet, moon, star, heavenly body, orb.

3 the academic world: sphere, society, circle, arena, milieu, province, domain, orbit, preserve, realm, field, discipline, area, sector.

4 she would show the world that she was strong: everyone, everybody, people, mankind, humankind, humanity, the (general) public, the population, the populace, all and sundry, ‘every Tom, Dick, and Harry’.

5 a world of difference: huge amount, good deal, great deal, abundance, wealth, profusion, mountain; informal heap, lot, load, ton.

6 she renounced the world : society, material things, secular interests, temporal concerns, earthly concerns.

Ok, yes, if using description 4, “every Tom, Dick, and Harry” is out to get us.  To make us feel less than.  Pieces of shit.  But wait!  They have solutions for us low-lifes out here.  Bandaids for problems we don’t even have.  Does it say “stupid” on my forehead?

Boy, did I fall into the “stupid” category for most of my life.  I wanted to be prettier, younger, richer, famous.  I cared more about what the world thought of me than what I thought of me.  Because I had no clue what I thought of myself.  I had no self-worth.  I took no time for self-love.  I was void of that capacity in those chapters of my life.

I only remember being influenced by “the world” during my formative years, so that is what I took with me to my adult years.  FEAR!!!  My M.O.  Fear that I wasn’t good enough.  That you wouldn’t like me.  Most of my life has been lived with this fear until…

In my forties my greatest fear wasn’t that I could not go a day without drinking, but the fear that I would be found out.  It seemed like I lived a lifetime of sneaking around, buying my liquor at different liquor stores because what if they thought I had a problem, or buying loads of liquor and saying that I was having a party.  Yeah, right.  Then I would take swigs of the liquor on my way home so when I arrived home, I could drink like a lady.  I would hide my liquor.  I would replace liquor in bottles with water so no one would no how much I drank.  Then I started buying wine in a box wondering if anyone would pick it up and feel how much weight was gone since I bought it yesterday.  What an exhausting and wasteful way to live.  Or was I even alive?

You know, it wasn’t wasteful.  It was my story, my journey bringing me to the appreciation of having a choice today on whether or not to drink.  Yep, I got found out.  I just wanted to go somewhere, like the hospital, where I couldn’t get alcohol so I could be “normal” for awhile.  Maybe get my act together.  I thought about being locked up in a jail cell, but, no.  Too expensive for bail.  Everyone would know I had a drinking problem.  Maybe I killed someone.  Yikes!

But I got found out by not “coming to” in time for work like I did forever and FINALLY coming clean to my boss who helped get me on the right track.  FINALLY.  My Higher Power said that Dee was ready for a new chapter for her book!  Thank you, God!  I spent 20-whatever days in a treatment center for alcoholics.  I learned and learned and sponged and absorbed so much during this time, I can’t tell you.  I felt such a weight lifted from me and hope and understanding of me and what made me tick.  It was a life changer and I finally started to feel that Dee was gonna be all right.

But it was scarier than hell being thrown back out to the wolves, which would be me, with my diseased brain, the Devil.  Those hiding places were still there.  Those chores were still there.  My family was still there.  And that job.  How could I do this without alcohol?  One day at a time.

One day at a time I did what was suggested.  Alcoholics Anonymous was suggested.  I did what the fellowship suggested as well.  I got to work the steps.  I got to figure out what to do with this fear-based Dee.  I got to do it with others who didn’t judge me.  One day at a time.

And one day at a time the new sober Dee got feeling better, got to ride the pink cloud, got a life, got to feel comfortable in her skin.  One day at a time Dee didn’t go to as many meetings and didn’t reach out to those in need.  One day at a time got Dee to pick up a drink again after 13-1/2 years of sobriety.  Dee even said, “No, thanks.  I don’t drink.”  But when that shot of tequila was left for her nevertheless, the Devil with his wicked smile yelled,  “Drink me!  Drink me!  No one will know.  You’ll be fine.  You don’t have a problem anymore.  Just one!”  Well, I was off and running again, just like I was taught in AA.  That first drink woke up that part of my brain that was resting for a decade, allowing my heart to be my guide.  It yelled, “MORE!”

It was no wonder I drank.  I no longer had an insurance policy against the disease.  I stopped paying my premium long ago when I removed myself from the fellowship and the newcomers who needed me and who I needed to remind myself of where I came from.  I was no longer in service.  One day at a time.  I rationalized so much shit in my head again.  My journey.  My lesson.  I can’t keep it unless I give it away.

So I’m back and even more grateful and humble and closer to my Higher Power than ever.  I’ve been chosen once again to be sober, to live with my toolbox of solutions for a better and meaningful life with a fellowship of genuinely caring, loving people.  They are “the world” with whom I choose to surround myself.  Not “Tom, Dick and Harry” who tell me I am less-than and not worthy.  Today my purpose of carrying the message of “Experience, Strength and Hope” to and with whoever enters my Dee Bubble is key.  It is a gift.  And I can be proud of who and what I am today because I’m not drinking or using.  I am keeping my insurance premiums paid.  I am giving what was so freely given to me when I needed it most.  Life is awesome!

Let’s share with our planet, our humanity, that we together can make a world of difference!  And with our ripple effects we shall get to experience the beauty that is right here, right now, at the tips of our noses.

Aloha, Dee

For those interested in Inspirational Gifts with a Message of Hope, please visit my website at www.DeesignsByHarris.com.  Mahalo and have a great day!

Stop Comparing Yourself to Others: Tips and Tools  

Stop Comparing Yourself to Others: Tips and Tools  

By EmilyHolland

The neighbor with the perfect lawn. The friend with a successful, high-paying career. The stranger on social media that you’ve never met but assume, given their seemingly perfect photos, that they lead the perfect life.

In today’s world, where it has become the norm to spend countless hours scrolling through photos of friends, family, celebrities, and complete strangers, the temptation to compare ourselves to others is at a cultural high.

While competition has long been a basic function of the human condition, it would seem that the rise of the digital age over the past several years has put an unnecessary, and even harmful, precedence on who’s in the lead. As if it were possible to measure all human successes on a single scale (or worse, by number of ‘likes’).

But even before social media’s take over, the groundwork for social comparisons was already in place. Social norms have long been established along with the relentless reminders that we’ve yet to live up to all of them. A 30-something woman sees her friends getting married and panics that she’s still single. A hard-working employee watches his co-worker move up in the company, prompting him to ask, “Why him and not me?” These comparisons can become so habitual that often you may not even realize you are doing it.

Reasons to quit may go beyond the fact that they’re simply unproductive and leave you feeling poorly about yourself. Making these social comparisons can be damaging to your health, both physically and psychologically. Being aware of how harmful comparisons are could serve as great motivation to give them up.

Dee:

When in school from elementary to high school I remember wishing my family had more money, that I could be more popular, even be famous.  I wished I was prettier, smarter, more self-confident, yet I had everything I could ever want and need.  Where did all this self-lack come from?  Why could I not just be comfortable in my own skin and love who I was?

It wasn’t until decades later when I found my wish list changing to “I wish I wouldn’t drink today” or “I wish I would stop at just three” that I found myself in a treatment center for alcoholism.  Yes, “found myself”!  It was then and there that my wish list dramatically changed as did my self-worth and opinion of myself.

But this did not happen overnight.  I needed to undo the decades of “my” thinking which is an ongoing process.  One day at a time, yeah? just like not taking a drink today, maybe tomorrow.

Sobriety, recovery and solutions has changed my life…given me a life…given me purpose.  First I “got to” learn and understand what alcoholism is, a disease, not a self-control problem.  From there I was introduced to Alcoholics Anonymous and the Twelve Steps and the Big Book.  I “got to” make up a Higher Power of My Own Understanding to whom I could turn my will and my life over to.  I “got to” switch my life from a thinking human being to a feeling human being.  Slowly.  One day at a time.

And the miracles, evolution, journey continues.  I have turned that fear-based waste-of-space-on-the-planet to one who is finally comfortable in my own skin and loves me for who and what I am!

Harmful Effects 

In 1954, social psychologist, Leon Festinger proposed the theory of social comparison (https://www.psychologytoday.com/basics/social-comparison-theory), which argues that your own feelings of self-worth are dependent upon how you think you measure up to those around you. You may be constantly evaluating how you stack up to others, in turn creating our self-image. A self-image based on anything other than intrinsic factors is destined to have harmful effects.

For one, making social comparisons can have a devastating impact on your self-esteem, particularly when comparing something you are already insecure about or sensitive to. For example, if you suffer bodily insecurities and follow nothing but fitness accounts on social media, you are setting yourself up to make not only an unhealthy comparison but an unfair one at that.

The majority of social media users show only what they want the world to see. They are less likely to expose their own insecurities and overcompensate by pushing perfection instead. It essentially boils down to a comparison between one’s reality to another’s best attempt to portray perfection. Not only can this influence your self- esteem, but it also distorts your perception of reality.

The stress that results from constantly making social comparisons that deflate your self-esteem and hinder your self-image can harm your physical health as well. Chronic stress (http://www.chopra.com/articles/how-to- reverse-the-effects-of-chronic-stress) can lead to high-blood pressure, heart disease, hypertension, and a weakened immune system. Moreover, when left unchecked, which can easily occur when you are unaware of its cause, chronic stress can lead to psychological problems such as depression and anxiety attacks.

In addition, social comparisons can hold you back from reaching goals and pursuing what matters most. Accomplishments stem from self-confidence, motivation, and clarity—all three of which can be hindered by images of others who you think are already a few steps ahead of you. In short, making social comparisons can be paralyzing and leave you wondering, Why bother? 

(http://www.chopra.com/online-courses/the-quest/on-demand

Dee:

Because of Alcoholics Anonymous, the Twelve Steps, and my toolbox for living, I discovered how fear-based I was living my life.  How important your opinion of me mattered.  That was because I did not feel worthy of your opinions nor expectations.  I felt “less than”.  Today I realize that I have God-given gifts and talents.  I was chosen to get sober and share my experience, strength and hope with those who enter my “bubble”.  And that is the purpose today.  It took me 48 years to realize this.

When I can be grateful for who and what I am today, for my journey and my story, I can share this and give hope to those who do not have “light at the end of the tunnel”.  When I can realize that if I do the best that I can at any given moment with any given talk, that I am progress not perfection, that everything is perfect at this moment in time, I can be okay with myself.  I can be light, grateful, humble and content.  

I know today that not everyone is going to like me.  And that’s okay.  There are those of you I would rather not be around.  But I don’t have to react nor prove myself nor take it personally.  You are who you are with your story, and I am who I am with mine.  Just perfect.  Right here.  Right now.  What a weight off my shoulders being able to live this way!

Tips to Stop Comparing 

It may sound simple to just suggest putting a stop to social comparisons—but the question is how do you actually stop? Here are some ways to help you stop making social comparisons.

1.Limit (or eliminate) time on social media. As mentioned, social media is often used as a place to share what you want people to see, not necessarily what’s closest to reality. Whether or not its content’s even accurate, at the very least it’s likely exaggerated. Cutting back on social media (http://www.chopra.com/articles/comparing-yourself-again-4-tips-to-survive-social-media-envy) or taking a break altogether can do wonders for your mental health. Spend the extra time understanding the triggers that lead you to making social comparisons so that when you log back into your accounts, you’re prepared to let those things go.

Dee:

What do we hear about on social media, the news and newspapers?  What sells the most, draws our attention and brings in the most money?  Negative news.  Tragic news.  Although most of life around us is good and positive, it does not sell news.  So one straw at a time we get weighted down with negativity.  If not careful, that negativity finally breaks our backs and we lower ourselves to that mentality.  Don’t do it!  Remember the 95% of the good things happening on our planet and with our humanity that does not sell news.  That’s our focus.

2.Make a list of accomplishments you’re proud of. The more confident you are in yourself, the less inclined you’ll be to evaluate how you stack up against others. Write a list of your proudest accomplishments, traits, strengths, and even things you’re grateful for. This will put you in a healthier mindset, making you less likely to engage in the comparison game.

Dee:

I am sober.  I have a Higher Power over to whom I can turn my will and my life.  I have a purpose.  I can be of service.

3. Become clear on what you want. When you’re unsure of what you want in life or how to go about achieving it, you can tend to feel unanchored. Become more grounded by gaining clarity as to the direction your life is going. Write out your short-term and long- term goals and steps necessary to accomplish them. Once you feel more secure in your own life, the temptation to over-invest in others will dissipate.

Dee: 

When things start to feel unclear, I HALT.  I check myself to see if I am Hungry, Angry, Lonely, Tired.  If so, I treat those symptoms.  I go to an AA meeting.  I get back in the moment.  I appreciate the here and now right in front of my nose.  I quiet my mind and open my heart.  I re-center.

Theodore Roosevelt said it best when he stated, “Comparison is the thief of joy.” If you want to become your best self, making your mental and physical health top priority, you must choose joy and resist the urge to make unhealthy comparisons.

Become your best self with The Quest: Spiritual Solutions for Creating a Life You Love, our online course led by Deepak Chopra and Martha Beck. Learn More. (https://www.chopra.com/online-courses/the-quest/on- demand)

About the Author 

Emily Holland Certified Health Coach

Emily is a certified Health Coach and freelance writer with a focus on psychology, mental health, and optimal living. A combined interest in healthy living and human behavior led Emily to pursue a certification in health coaching at the Institute for Integrative Nutrition as well as a master’s degree in General Psychology. Her personal struggle with anxiety motivated her to research and implement a variety of holistic approaches into her lifestyle, such as changes in diet and the adoption of mindfulness meditation. She credits these lifestyle changes as well as many others with helping her better manage symptoms of anxiety and everyday stressors. She is most passionate about sharing what she has… Read more (/bios/emily-holland)

From The Chopra Center

Dee: 

I am not a representative of Alcoholics Anonymous.  I only know that when I could not stop drinking, the fellowship and the Big Book offered me solutions.  Today I am sober.  Today I am happy, joyous, and free!

Aloha, Dee

For those interested in Inspirational Gifts with a Message of Hope and Self, please visit my website at www.DeesignsByHarris.com.  Mahalo and have a great day!!!