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!

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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!!!

MAKING HOPE REAL

Day 18 – Making Hope Real

“Hope is definitely not the same thing as optimism. It is not the conviction that something will turn out well, but the certainty that something makes sense, regardless of how it turns out.” – Vaclav Havel

Today’s meditation is about helping to make hope real for others. Of course, fundamentally each person must create hope from within themselves, but we can also play an instrumental role in supporting that hope-building process. The way we do this is to learn how to deeply listen, see, and feel another person. When we can be with and acknowledge another person without any judgment or agenda, then our core hope is supporting their core hope on a real soul-to-soul level.

OPRAH:

Today we set about the business of making hope real.  Welcome to Day 18.  When I opened my school in South Africa I said to Maya Angelou, “You know the girls in this school will be my greatest legacy and Maya surprised when she responded, “You have no idea what your legacy will be.  Your legacy is what you do everyday.  Your legacy is every life you’ve ever touched.  Every person whose life was ever moved or not.  It’s every person you’ve harmed or helped.  That is your legacy,”  Maya said to me.

So I started to rethink that legacy.  Because it’s how you treat that person behind the counter at the store.  It’s how your interaction with your child’s teacher.  It’s your encounters with your colleagues at work, in your family, the people in your neighborhood.  What I know for sure is that to reach people and share the energy of hope, you have to do more than just listen to them.  You have to see them.  I’ve often said that each of the tens of thousands of people I’ve interviewed had one thing in common…they all wanted to be seen and heard.  They wanted validation.

When people are validated, when they know you see me, you hear me, and what I’m saying means something to you, they feel like they’re not alone and that they matter.  That is the deepest reality, the deepest desire, we all share…is to matter.  And that’s the way to make hope real for anyone in your world.  Make them matter.

Deepak guides us to the power of deeply hearing and seeing another person.

DEEPAK:

Often in times of uncertainty and confusion it feels like no matter how hard you try something is bound to go wrong.  For many this sense of hopelessness is tied to depression and anxiety, while in milder forms it keeps others tough, in a state of expecting little in life.

If you believe you don’t deserve much happiness and success, hiding beneath the surface is absence of hope.  The problem is that losing hope buys into an illusion.  Because hope is a quality of the true self, it is grounded in reality.  Loss of hope is grounded in the past.  Old wounds, negative beliefs, low self-esteem and disappointed expectations…these are phantoms of the mind and we believe they are real because we think the fear they generate will protect us from further pain.

When someone is losing hope they will find a solution if they are guided to the deeper reality inside themselves.  Reassuring them that some external factor, meeting a person, acquiring more money or moving to a different place will solve their insecurity is not useful.  More importantly without basing your hope and present awareness the fear of uncertainty never goes away.

Ideally the path of self-awareness is open through meditation.  If this is not feasible for the other person you can still inspire hope in them.  Do they need reminding that they are strong or that they are loved?  Do they need to feel less alone or that others appreciate them?

The first step in making hope real for that person is to ask and listen from the level of the heart.  Don’t try to change a situation according to your own preconceptions.  Let your insight into what is needed come up of its own accord.  When you do speak, talk to the hope you see in the other person, whatever it is.

Also immediate hope is better than long-range hope.  Make it clear that the present moment is a place of hope because it is the only place where change can happen.  Yesterday and tomorrow are only ideas.  Your action plan is to bring no judgment, no expectations, to deeply listen to the other person, offering help, here and now, and, therefore, keeping everything real.  By your example you show that the unknown is not fearful but an opening into renewal and change.

CENTERING THOUGHT

My hope is grounded in a deeper reality.

SANSKRIT MANTRA

Om Eem Shreem

My being radiates wisdom and abundance.

DEE:

Today I try to live my life optimistically, with the glass half full, knowing that whatever happens happens for a reason, a reason to make me a better person and to help me grow.  Of course things happen that don’t make me especially happy, that’s going to take my time and energy away from the things I love, but, oh well.  It happened.  Live with it.  Deal with it.  And move on…a better person.

I also try to live my life hopefully, faithfully, again, that what happens happens for a reason.  I have no control over people, places and things.  But I do have control over how I am going to react to them.  I don’t.  I take a deep breath and have faith that a Power Greater than Myself is guiding me through lessons I need to learn.  I am hopeful to learn those lessons.

With time and practice this way of life, at looking at life, becomes easier.  My life goes more effortlessly.  I feel better and freer.  And I try to share this outlook with those who enter my “Dee bubble”.  When one enters my bubble I try my hardest to give them my full attention, mindfulness, eye contact, respect and compassion.  I try to put myself in their shoes.  And then I go within to, “What would Dee do?  What would Dee’s Higher Power have her do?”  And then I share my hope.

Validation is key.  Helping others to know that they are gifts, that they have attributes, that they are worthy.  Yes, they matter!  The beautiful thing is that we connect.  So share your gifts with those who enter your bubble.  Be a nice human today.  Share that this present moment is perfect.  Don’t shit on it by going back into yesterday or venturing into tomorrow.  Be the HOPE!

Aloha, Dee

For those interested in motivational and inspirational gifts, please visit my website at www.DeesignsByHarris.com.  Mahalo and have an awesome day!

From Oprah and Deepak’s 21-Day Meditation Experience on HOPE.

HOW HOPE GOES VIRAL

Day 17 – How Hope Goes Viral

“Hope and fear cannot occupy the same space at the same time. Invite one to stay.” – Maya Angelou

We all understand how we can be an agent of change for the people we personally interact with, but we can also affect those around us with whom we don’t have direct contact through the connection of our shared collective consciousness. When we learn to consciously live and act from a deep place of hope, love, and kindness, we are stimulating and connecting to the same level of hope, love, and kindness in others, near and far. As their hope and love is awakened, it increases the strength of the signal, awakening more hearts in turn. This is how hope goes viral.

OPRAH:

This is Day 17.  Today’s meditation is on How Hope Goes Viral.  One of the greatest joys in my life right now is gardening.  I love harvesting vegetables and posting those photos sometimes on Instagram and Facebook.  And nothing makes me happier than walking my dog through a basket full of greens.  Some photos of my harvest days have gone viral.  Imagine that!  Pictures of a bowl of fresh-picked tomatoes going viral!

I think it may be because people inherently love nature themselves and the idea of growing things, gardening, you know, is not a complex thing.  What makes it so satisfying is it’s connection to the simplest joys to the earth.  You plant a seed.  You nurture it.  It brings itself to fruition.  And those impulses are part of who we are.  I believe the root of hope lives in all of us.

And isn’t a garden the perfect metaphor for hope going viral?  You tend the soil, again.  You plant it.  You fertilize it.  You nurture it with a hope it will grow vibrant.  You begin with that hope that a seed turns into something fruitful or beautiful.  And when that seed is grown you share it.

In nurturing our hopes and dreams we often begin with just a seed.  We grow and nurture our hopes and sharing the fruits of our realized hopes and dreams is one of life’s greatest joys.

Ultimately growing a garden is about giving back and sharing with others.  You can’t eat all those tomatoes yourself!  I love to drop in on my neighbors with baskets of freshly picked anything…lettuce, snap peas, tomatoes…because I grew it and I don’t want to waste it.  And life is better when you share it.

So don’t waste the fruits of your hope.  Let it grow to abundance and share it with the world.  And may it become viral.  Let’s hear from Deepak and how to cultivate viral hope.

DEEPAK:

We’ve discovered on our meditation journey that hope is activated in the present moment.  Present moment awareness is simply conscious experience without the mind’s analysis or conceptualization, including the thoughts and feelings about the past and the future.  Present moment awareness experience is your true self and it is always fresh and new.  It is the very essence of hope, of love, of compassion and joy.

Absorbing the qualities of the true self happens effortlessly in our meditations.  But you can encourage the inner shift outside meditation.  Start at the level of beliefs.  In any situation allow yourself to be present to the experience without mental analysis and interpretation.  And you will find that you naturally drop the belief that you know what is best for someone else.

This does not mean that we sacrifice our beliefs or don’t stand up for what we think is right.  Rather we recognize that instead of trying to force people to change it is more effective to be the example of hope, tolerance and love.

Particularly in times of uncertainty negativity and aggression lead to more negativity and aggression.  But hope and compassion also beget more hope and compassion.  As this happens you now have an understanding that everyone wants to grow and evolve in their own way and at their own pace.  Know that at some level they are listening and that their consciousness is responding to your hope and compassion.  Even if you detect resistance on the surface.  Understand and feel that at a core level they share your hope.

If you adopt this approach hope will go viral wherever you are.  Social research has already proven that personal attitudes, beliefs and habits go viral all the time.  If you have a friend or family member who overeats, for example, you’re more likely to overeat.  While on the other hand if a friend or family member goes to the gym you’re more likely to do that too.

What’s mysterious is you don’t actually have to be in direct contact with the other person.  What’s at work is the power of collective consciousness.  When we become a living example of the power of hope we become a catalyst for the transformative force in others, a force that can never be extinguished.

CENTERING THOUGHT

I bring hope into the present moment.

SANSKRIT MANTRA

Samprati Hum

My true self is wide awake.

DEE:

It’s the ripple effect.  When one shares hope, that hope can be carried clear around the world.  That seed can blossom into amazing abundance.  That’s why we must remember that we do count, our voices will be heard.  We must share that hope!

I learned that lesson the hard way in my sobriety.  One of the hardest things I ever did was to get clean and sober.  But what’s harder?  Staying sober.  I learned early on the slogan, “You can’t keep it unless you give it away.”  That was in reference to my sobriety and recovery.  And once I thought life was going great and I was getting “well”, I ceased going to so many AA meetings, I ceased being with the fellowship that could call me on my shit, I ceased hearing what it was like to be a newcomer, and I ceased giving away my gift of sobriety.

So unbeknownst to me when asked if I wanted a drink at a barbecue, I said, “No, I haven’t had a drink in over 13 years.”  When that drink was left for me in case I changed my mind, it yelled at me until I drank it.  To me this was a Godsend, only because I was graced with another chance in sobriety.  Some aren’t so lucky.  They never get back.  But this time around I don’t take this gift lightly, I stay close to my meetings and fellowship, and I give back what was so freely given to me when I needed it most – HOPE.

And when I work with those in need, whether sponsees or people who randomly (yeah, right) enter my “Dee bubble”, I oftentimes get to witness their hope and joy being shared with those who enter their bubbles, and on and on it goes.  It’s magical!

Aloha, Dee

For those interested in motivational and inspirational gifts, please visit my website at www.DeesignsByHarris.com.  Mahalo and have an awesome day!

From Deepak and Oprah’s 21-Day Meditation Experience on HOPE.

REIGNITING THE SPARK OF HOPE

Day 16 – Reigniting the Spark of Hope

“Each time someone stands up for an ideal or acts to improve the lot of others… he sends forth a tiny ripple of hope.” – Robert Kennedy

Today’s meditation is about how we can become a beacon of hope for others by offering love and support without expecting anything in return from them. You can reawaken their hope by living that example of hope in your own life. When we can accept and love another person without judgment, we are connecting our true self with their true self on the feeling level. This breaks down the barriers of defensiveness and distrust, while reigniting their light of hope.

OPRAH:

Welcome to Day 16 of our mediation experience – Reigniting the Spark of Hope.  As far back as I can recall my prayer has been the same, “Use me, God.  Show me how to take who I am, what I want to be, what I can do, and use it for a purpose greater than myself.”

I hold close my favorite quote from Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., where he says everyone has the power for greatness, not for fame, but greatness, because greatness is determined by service.  Think about your own life right now and how you can serve your way to greatness.  When you shift your focus from success to service, everything in your life shifts, everything, without exception will have more meaning.

Dr. Brené Brown says, “If you want to help others effectively, you must first allow yourself to be vulnerable.”  This is a sticking point for so many of us.  We want to be the light of hope for someone else but we’re often unwilling to open up and share our own flaws.  Are you someone who gets your self-worth from helping others?  Brené says when you extract self-worthiness from people you are helping, that’s judgment.  But when you’re helping people with a hope that one day you might need help from them, that is connection, reaching out with no expectation but with the hope of connection.  That is a spark that will light up the world.  Deepak shows us how we can instill hope in others with the bonds of giving and service.

DEEPAK:

To be a beacon of hope you cannot have an ulterior motive.  When you come from the level of the ego the motive is always self-centered.  Others will have competing agendas of their own.  How do we rise above this clash in a way that serves both you and the other person?

First offer hope, love, support and encouragement without having any expectation that the other person will change the way you want them to.  People can always sense when we are judging them or have a hidden agenda.  Once they feel this they resent and resist  the interference.  Instead of changing they contract into a self-defensive posture.  You don’t need another person to change to rekindle their hope.  You only need to be that change, to live that light of hope in your own life.  Then the natural motivating power of hope begins to work.

Your own hope comes from your connection of your true self.  Likewise when you help someone else to reconnect to their true self you give them hope that change is possible.  The feeling level is all important.  Just as people detect when they’re being judged they also detect when they are accepted.

Don’t try to help if you feel you are angry, disappointed or ashamed.  Work on yourself first.  Getting to a place where you accept and welcome the other person’s existence, then you will create a heart-to-heart bond at the level of feeling.  This bond can work miracles because it takes down barriers of distrust, defensiveness, guilt and shame.  Once inner barriers come down your hope can reignite the spark of hope in someone else.

Realistically every relationship is entangled with the past making it hard to relate without judgment toward someone else.  Especially in families there’s a tendency to put people in a box believing they will never change.  But consider how much you want to escape the box you’ve been put in.  Everyone has that feeling because everyone wants more freedom and to be themselves.  When you allow that yearning of freedom in someone else you are recognizing how much you feel the same way.  Then ego doesn’t block your view.  You genuinely hope for the best in every situation no matter what happened in the past.

CENTERING THOUGHT

I bond with others to give them hope.

SANSKRIT MANTRA

Om Karuna Namah

I invoke the universal power of compassion.

DEE:

I remember walking into my first AA meeting.  I was scared shitless who in my town, would see me walk through that door or, more so, who was on the other side.  But for some strange reason after that traumatic first few seconds, I saw faces I didn’t know and I saw faces of those I did know.  There was no trauma nor drama.  There was no guilt nor shame.  I felt uncomfortably, or comfortably, home.  My head says uncomfortably, but my heart was comfortable.

There was no judgment.  Only welcoming and smiles and the feeling I got was one of hope and love.  I know today that these folks, the fellowship of AA, wanted nothing from me but my own well-being.  They were able and willing to love me until I could love myself and expected nothing in return.  They got to stay sober!

Today I get to offer that same greeting and hope to the newcomer.  Today I have the purpose of sharing my experience, strength and hope with those in need whether they are struggling with alcoholism, another addiction, abuse, mental disorders, or just life in general.

It took time for me to get comfortable enough in my own skin to share my experience, strength and hope with others.  For me that meant being rigorously honest.  That didn’t mean while I was a grocery checker I got on the intercom and announced, “Hi, I’m Dee.  I’m an alcoholic.  No waiting at checkstand 3.”  But it did mean that when my gut felt like someone entered my “Dee bubble” and I could offer a ray of hope with being rigorously honest about my alcoholism, but more so about my recovery, I shared from my heart.  I found my words bringing people to tears, happy tears, by sharing my word, my hope, my mindfulness with them.

To be a beacon of hope to another human being does help me to stay sober one more day.  I learned early on, and proved it 13-1/2 years after my initial sobriety date when I stopped going to meetings and relapsed, that “you can’t keep it unless you give it away.”  I don’t expect anything from the person with whom I share my hope, but I do get to stay humble and grateful and remember where I came from.

My message to all is to love yourself.  Just as you are.  For who and what you are.  Don’t compare yourself to others.  Remember your unique gifts.  Share those with others.  You are so perfect just the way you are at this very moment.  Never forget that!  And never forget that you don’t have to do this on your own.

Aloha, Dee

For those interested in motivational and inspirational gifts, please visit my website at www.DeesignsByHarris.com.  Mahalo and have an awesome day!

From Oprah and Deepak’s 21-Day Meditation Experience on HOPE.

THE INNER CHILD REBORN

The Inner Child Reborn

“Hope is the thing with feathers, / That perches in the soul, / And sings the tune without the words / And never stops at all…” – Emily Dickinson

Even as adults, we all still retain that part of our personality we had when we were children. The positive, healthy aspect of our inner child expresses our innocence, joy, exuberance, and hope. This accepting and fresh view of life comes from the true self. This egoless state is always there within us.

In today’s meditation, we learn how to reawaken the inner children in ourselves, as well as encourage it in others by seeing their inner child with the innocent and accepting eyes of our own.

OPRAH:

Welcome to week 3 of our 21-day meditation experience.  In week one we moved into the space where we experienced how hope is real and can be a powerful force to overcome fear and anxiety in certain times.  In week two we explored the expanse of where hope can take us and we practiced how, through meditation, we can use hope to create inner strength even during our darkest hours.  Everything is better when you share it so in week 3 we will navigate how we can offer hope and inspire it in others.  Let’s begin Day 15 – The Inner Child Reborn.

Many years ago family counselor and author, John Bradshaw, revealed to our Oprah Show audience his concept of the wounded inner child.  I often refer to an exercise he took our audience through.  It remains for me one of the most transforming moments of my life, really.  John said we first see the world through the eyes of a little child and that inner child remains with us throughout our lives.  No matter how outwardly grown up and effective we appear to become.  If our vulnerable child was hurt, abandoned, shamed or neglected, that child’s grief and anger lives on within us.  That is so powerful to know.

You see so many adults now acting out the hurt, abandonment, the shame and neglect that they suffered as children.  As the son of an alcoholic, for instance, John’s wounds were so profound that he became an alcoholic by the time he was only thirteen.  His inner child exercise was an Oprah Show moment that changed the way I felt about myself and the way I looked at the world.  Each time I talk about I learn something new, really.

He had us imagine peering through the window of our childhood home.  You can do this for yourself.  Go to the window of the house that you grew up in, look through and find yourself in that house.  And what do you see?  When you take a good look at your life as a child, what do you see and, more importantly, what do you feel what’s going on with you and your relationships with everyone in the house?  What gift did you possess that others may have overlooked or missed?  What burdens were you made to carry?

What brought you hope?  What made you sad?

I believe that healing the wounds of the past is one of the most hopeful endeavors that we have in our lives.  When you rekindle the innocence and hope that precedes pain, you free yourself to truly live more fully in the present.

DEEPAK: 

At this stage in our journey you can, if you like, reach out and bring hope to others.  The world needs beacons of hope everywhere.  This applies to the most successful and fulfilled among us and even more so the people who are losing hope.  Everyone needs hope to move forward and open new possibilities.  How can you help?  Innocence is the quality of hope that removes judgment and criticism.

Children are naturally innocent which allows them to experience hope, joy and optimism every day.  That innocence gets diminished or even erased by traumas, emotional wounds and failures.  These create a feeling of hopelessness that we then struggle against.  As adults most people do not want to be innocent again seeing it as too vulnerable and impractical.  Yet as adults our personalities still contains an innocent child, a universal archetype with both constructive and destructive aspects.

On the constructive side your inner child expresses joy, hope and innocence.  On the destructive side it expresses dependency, helplessness and uncontrolled impulses.  When hope is fading in someone’s life so is the positive side of their inner child.  To restore hope in someone first realize their inner child is still within them.  When you see the innocent self judgment is not possible.  The person we judge against is a later development created by the needs and demands of the ego.  Childhood innocence is an egoless state.  Therefore, it is closer to the true self.

In our meditations we reawaken the inner child.  To enhance this awakening in yourself and others, make time every day for play in any form you choose.  Be lighthearted as your general attitude.  When you’re carefree you trust in life and don’t worry or try to control situations.  Set judgment and skepticism aside.  Accept people in the best light.  Be gentle and allowing in your interactions with others.  Don’t be a critic or rule-enforcer.  As you cultivate this more innocent side of yourself people will notice that you’re more warm and welcoming.

Remember how, as a child, you were totally involved in playing?  How you looked with fresh eyes at everything?  That freshness and lightheartedness is the basis of hope and still exists inside you right now ready to be revived.

CENTERING THOUGHT

I see the hopeful inner child in everyone.

SANSKRIT MANTRA

So Hum

I am.

DEE:

Looking through that window into my childhood I see my dad carrying me into the house from the car.  I’m in my pajamas with the feet.  I feel little.  I feel safe.  I feel like that again today but, as a child, that is the only time I felt safe with my dad.

My dad was an alcoholic.  He was a stranger to me.  He was unable to love and nurture me the way my mom did.  When he and Mom divorced when I was thirteen, I don’t even remember his leaving us.  I remember mainly the bad times.  A lot of bad times and a lot of nightmares.

Dad and I did get together a few times since he and Mom divorced.  It was good, but still uncomfortable.  He was who he was and I love him for that today.  You see, I, too, am an alcoholic.  And once I hit my bottom and went to a 21-day treatment facility for alcohol abuse, I started to understand the disease.  And then I got to understand my dad.

When Dad died we flew one of his “friends” to California from Rhode Island for Dad’s service.  The family was told that my dad died in the gutters of Rhode Island.  This pains me immensely…his battle with alcoholism.  But everything started falling into place and the pieces of the puzzle showed me that because of alcoholism, my dad was unable to show love, nurturing, attention, or even carry on a conversation.  Perhaps it was his upbringing as well.  Who knows.  Doesn’t matter.  But I know that when I was in the depths of my disease, I either needed a drink, was drunk, or hungover.  Not a very nice person to be around.  That was my dad.  I understand.

Today my dad is with me constantly.  He’s got my back.  We love each other, have fun together and, more importantly, understand each other.  Right before going to rehab I pleaded with my dad in heaven to help me stop drinking, “I think you know what I’m going through.  Please help me!”  Soon thereafter I was gifted with a whole new life with purpose and meaning and lightness and joy.  Self-acceptance and worthiness came.  Life was good.  I had a Higher Power who guided me and taught me to appreciate, be humble and grateful.

I’d say for the first half of my 13-1/2 years of sobriety I stayed close to AA and did what was suggested.  My life was full.  Full of good stuff.  Then I allowed the gifts of sobriety to make me too busy for my gift of sobriety.  I “one day at a time” stopped going to meetings, practicing the Twelve Steps of AA, being sponsored or sponsoring, and, most of all, I failed to give away what was so freely given to me when I needed it most.  I forgot what it was like to be a newcomer.

So when offered a shot of tequila I unthinkingly and bogusly said, “No, thank you.  I haven’t had a drink for 13-1/2 years.”  “Well, I’ll leave it for you in case you change your mind.”  That drink yelled out me so loudly.  I had no insurance from going to meetings and being of service and remembering what it’s like to be a newcomer.  Damn.  I drank it.  Immediately the disease shouted, “More!!!”  And so the lying, cheating, sneaking, and all the negativity that comes with being in the disease came back like a ball of fire.  I continued to sneak drinks.  And when sneaking at my son’s wedding the next week in Puerto Vallarta, a relative of my daughter-in-law came to me at the reception to say, “I have to tell you this.  Your dad’s presence is SO STRONG here!”

For real?  My dad died in the gutters of Rhode Island the year before my son was born.  Why would he be here?  Ah hah!  To save my ass once again.  You see.  He really did love me but just didn’t know how to show me when I was little in my yellow PJs with the feet.  And to this day I have such comfort knowing that my dad is here with me.  Always.  Forever.  That’s what I see through the window.  “I love you, Dad.”

My life is once again awesome today.  But I shall not take this gift lightly.  I shall stay close to the fellowship and pay my insurance premiums.  I shall give what was so freely given to me.  I shall not forget what it’s like to be a newcomer.  I shall not forget that I am an alcoholic, a grateful alcoholic in recovery, sharing the message of Experience, Strength and Hope.

Aloha, Dee

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

From Deepak and Oprah’s 21-Day Meditation Experience on HOPE.

LIVING BY THE LIGHT OF HOPE

Living by the Light of Hope 

“I find hope in the darkest of days and focus in the brightness. I do not judge the universe.” – Dalai Lama

Hope is a light that shows our way along the path. This light of awareness is also a light of insight and understanding, giving us the strength of our convictions as well as lightness of heart. Our meditation today shows us that the light of hope is, above all, a light of love uniting our lives and liberating our spirits.

OPRAH:

We’re coming to the close of week 2, a week of hope should be opening you up to clarity, calm and power, no matter what’s going on in your life.  Welcome to Day 14 – Living by the Light of Hope.  It’s a bright and reliable light if we let it guide us and it shines in every area of life from friendship to partnership to family and beyond.

One of my favorite super-soul conversations was with trail-blazing author and psychologist, Dr. Shavali-Sabari, about her book The Awakened Family.  Dr. Shavali says that when we try to control our children or put our own expectations on them or even try to live their lives for them, it creates confusion, disruption, and separation; in essence, we’re dimming the light of hope for them.

Well, I’ve been guilty of this myself a couple years ago I encouraged one of my daughters from South Africa to attend a college in America.  It was a school that she knew in her heart wasn’t right for her but it was a school I’d always dreamed of going to.  At the time I pushed her to go to that school, unconscious of my reasons why.  And after our conversation Dr. Shavali opened my eyes to what I was doing.  I was dimming hope for her.  I’ll always be grateful for that lesson.

Dr. Shavali believes that the root of all the world’s problems of violence and conflict is our loss of connection especially between the parent and the child.  We can all see that playing out in our world today.  She said there was some big forgetting that occurred in our history that made us believe we are separate from this oneness that surrounds us.  The awakening, the soul lighting up, happens when we realize that we are one with God, one with the Universe, and one with each other.  One of the greatest gifts you can give to your children, to yourself and the world is to grow in the awareness of this connection.  It is the light of hope.

DEEPAK:

We have learned that hope is a powerful guide from our true self that leads us out of a mindset of struggle.  But more than that when the light of awareness guides you away, you are no longer dependent upon external beliefs, ideologies or politics to give your life direction and meaning.  Buddha’s last message to his followers was simply, “Be a light unto yourself.”  When you discover your presence of awareness you can no longer be mislead or disappointed in the messages and actions of leaders and authorities.  The light of awareness resides in us already, waiting to be recognized and activated.  As this happens the light expands and every action, thought and feeling springs from that light.  This is the light of hope.

It might seem that living by the light of hope is too far removed from the cares and demands of everyday modern life.  But the light of awareness is not remote or unworldly.  It is the most intimate and real thing about you.  If you didn’t live in the light already, you wouldn’t exist.  It takes awareness to experience anything.

There is spirituality in seeing a tree outside your window, or clouds, mountains, or the sea, because everything springs from consciousness and can only be known by consciousness.  So if you are individually guided by a light of hope, how does that work?

In a world of conflicting beliefs and ideologies can we really be our own light, guidance and authority and still be effective and engaged in life?  Yes.  Enlightenment is spiritual freedom but it is also practical and effective and harmonizing.  The light of awareness is the shared level of all life where there is no conflict, no divisive beliefs, or need to defend oneself.

When you are a light unto yourself you may still practice the same religion you grew up with and hold the same political and cultural values you’ve always had, but now you’re not threatened by any values or beliefs that are different from yours.  You recognize the good that is there and celebrate the differences.  There are as many evolutionary paths as there are people in the world which means there are 7 billion ways to live in the light.  When you make the shift you live completely in the light and the journey of hope has found it’s destination.

CENTERING THOUGHT

My future unfolds with hope and joy.

SANSKRIT MANTRA

Aroot Perum Jothi

I invoke divine grace light.

DEE:

Sometimes I wonder were my personal individual gifts as a child emphasized, talked about or even mentioned, how my life would have been different.  My mom gave me heaps of praise about my talents, yet I still ended up living fear-based.  I still ended up an alcoholic.

I guess where I’m going with this is once I got into a program of recovery for alcoholism I started to work on myself through the Twelve Steps of Alcoholics Anonymous.  In Step Four where I took my own personal inventory I discovered that my whole life, my “me”, lived in fear of your opinions and expectations of me.  Where did that come from?  I was given numerous strokes and praise for excellent grades, talents, services, etc.  Yet I still lived in fear of what you would think of me.  And I lived with this internal fear for decades  while you loved me for who and what I am until I could love myself the same way.

No, the substances I abused were just symptoms of my fear-based living.  I believe I would have still misused and abused drugs and alcohol even if everyone in the world told me daily how unique and gifted I am.  To love myself just the way I am.  I’m an alcoholic.  Period.  No amount of praise and applause would change that.

But the fear-based thing is what I wonder about.  How much praise and accolades does a child need to not end up living fear-based?

I believe my fear comes from growing up without a purpose.  And I lacked a purpose because I lacked a power greater than myself.  That’s what we didn’t talk about.  That’s what I didn’t understand.  That’s why I had this void in my gut.

From working the Twelve Steps I was blessed with a Higher Power of my own understanding.  That’s when everything started to make sense and fall into place.  I all of a sudden had hope.  I had relief from the power of self and thinking I had to do it all, alone.  That’s where the fear comes in.

Now that my life has made a complete turnaround with this revelation and I can turn my will and my life over to the care of God as I understand God, I shall still try to stress to our children and to you how important your unique personal gifts are.  I shall plead with you not to compare yourself with others.  I shall help you learn to love yourself and be grateful for who you are with your special gifts.  This is what living by the light of hope means to me.  I am so blessed.

Aloha, Dee

For those interested in motivational and inspirational gifts, please visit my website at www.DeesignsByHarris.com.  Mahalo and have an awesome day!

From Oprah and Deepak’s 21-Day Meditation Experience about HOPE.