Category Archives: Gratitude

A Sinking Ship

“Life is like stepping onto a boat which is about to sail out to sea and sink.”
– Shunryu Suzuki

Relationships are a part of life, and in this case, they are no different. No matter what type of relationship we are in, the relationship is destined to end. It may end in death or breakup, but surely it will end. We will eventually lose everyone we hold dear to us, and everyone that holds us dear will eventually lose us as well. This is life. We embark on these relationship journeys and whether we go into it knowing this reality or lie to ourselves thinking differently, the pain of that loss is the same. The hurt, the anguish, and the grief is all the same.

After my most recent loss, the thought occurred to me that maybe I should just live alone for the rest of my life. I spent quite a bit of time alone and came to realize I actually enjoyed it very much. But during this time alone, I also came to realize that the benefits of being in any relationship (family, friends, or romantic) far outweigh the benefits of being alone.

In relationships, we are constantly introduced and reintroduced to ourselves. Our loved ones act as mirrors and show us the glorious and the not-so-glorious sides of ourselves. Our loved ones remind us of how amazing and lovable we are. In an act of love, we can also change our not-so-glorious parts that tend to cause our loved ones pain. Sometimes our loved ones simply accept those parts of us as well.

But the ultimate benefit, I believe, that comes from being in a relationship is that we learn how to love, forgive, and be forgiven; something that is extremely difficult to do without another human being. We learn how to look beyond ourselves and our ego. We are able to reflect on the things that we have done and learn and grow, because we love those around us and cherish their presence. We strive to be better parents, friends, children, workers, and siblings. We do this because we cherish the presence of others, even if their presence can come at the cost of us having to give up some of our bad habits to make our loved ones feel a little better sometimes, and they do the same for us.

Life, and all the relationships we are in, are boats set out to sail and destined to sink. Sometimes the boats have lots of holes in them and sink very quickly. Some have minimal holes and last for quite a long time. Some seem to be sinking quickly but are patched up mid-sail only to extend the remaining time allotted for the trip.

But whatever boat you end up getting into, I strongly believe that, be it a short or a long ride, if you must pack anything, keep your baggage light, and only bring joy with you, and treat every moment as your last, because you never know when it actually will be. sinkingboat

The Magic of Faith & Showing Up As Our Best Version

There’s a fascinating magic that happens when we trust the Universe. This magic works best when we place our energy onto showing up in every moment as the best version of ourselves. When we diligently commit to this (even when were crushed, beat, and have zero hope or motivation) we start to see an inspiring progress in our mind, bodies, and souls, that just makes us feel good about who we are and what we’ve become. Each time we do this, our heart muscles grow stronger, making each new challenge in life a little less overwhelming or scary.

This grace lovingly prepares us for what’s to come. Many of us have been broken and bruised so badly that we have zero faith in the beginning; all we have is this strong desire to feel better, and sometimes it is only this desperation that gets us to actually do the work. At least that’s how it worked for me.

After trying various methods of “life management” including some truly shameful and horrendous techniques like trying to manipulate, lie to, or control other people, the Universe had a special gift for me: crush that belief by taking everything away until I was completely lost, alone, and powerless. You see, it turns out, people don’t like being manipulated, lied to, or controlled by anyone. People like being loved, accepted, and valued. It took me way too long to figure that out…

Being a control freak was all I knew. It was the tool I used to protect myself from abuse and emotional traumas as a child. Giving up this sense of power felt like a threat to my existence. Only now can I laughingly admit that I used to think that I knew what was best for myself (and others). But as I slowly let go and surrendered to the Universe, I was pleasantly surprised at how my life unfolded in ways I couldn’t have ever imagined, and in so many positive ways. Life was actually starting to feel “free” and lighter for the first time; and that required letting go of my desire to control the outcome.

Ironically, the only way to get this faith, is by taking that one step forward. One step at a time. One day at a time. Eventually, we make a little progress, which builds upon our faith: faith that we can trust the Universe, and faith that without grasping and clinging and attaching to our need to control the outcome of our inevitably changing, uncertain life, everything is going to work out just fine.

As we courageously move forward, our faith becomes equivalent to unwavering confidence, and this confidence is priceless. What we come to see is that focusing on just showing up as the best version of ourselves in every moment and trusting the Universe  life doesn’t get better; WE get better at living it.

Of course when we are in a state of anxiety, or worry, we cannot see or think clearly. But when we remain focused on just being and doing the best we can in each moment, we begin to see more clearly. We think more clearly. But we never forget that we will always have more to learn, and that our vision is never going to be 100%. We begin to love more boldly. We are braver and more courageous. We become curious about these mysterious gifts (i.e., learning opportunities). We have unwavering faith and confidence in ourselves and our ability to overcome and pull through.

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We begin to understand that it’s about being grateful for, and finding meaning in ALL of it. We know very well that life is NOT about being perfect. We learn to embrace and love ourselves completely, and in turn we learn to embrace and love others completely as well. Through this new-found clarity and love, we understand and trust that everything in our life is unfolding exactly as it is meant to be, exactly when it is meant to be.

This brings a sense of calmness and peace, even when our life is inevitably experiencing ups and downs, and because of this faith and peace, we have so much more energy to put into the more important things in life, like truly loving another person, and being of service, helping others, bringing hope, joy, and just living in the moment, because that is the only thing we actually have control over: how we are living right now in this moment. So make this moment a good one.

Working for a Paycheck or Waiting to Win the Lottery?

In a gratitude circle last week, the group went around listing what their hopes and goals were for the next year (2019). As people shared, I couldn’t help but shake the feeling that everyone was looking for the same thing: their life partner.

My turn was coming up and I couldn’t think of anything I had, specifically, laid out as my goal. I was content with my life. I didn’t feel like I needed to change anything. I didn’t feel like I needed to set any goals to meet someone special. But I remembered a message that came to me during meditation that reminded me: “If you want more joy, go out and give joy to others.” So I said my goal would be to find ways to bring more joy to this world.

I walked away from that meeting feeling confused. Why would anyone want to make a “goal” out of meeting their life partner? Coming from someone who has experienced so much loss, I always felt that people will just come in and out of your life as they are meant to, with or without your goal-setting efforts.

No one walks into a marriage thinking that one day they will lose their partner. No one has children thinking that their child will be ripped away from them. But you know what? It happens… ALL THE TIME. And it sucks… And most often, it’s the times when we weren’t doing anything that the most meaningful people walk right into our lives and end up staying. At least that’s been my experience.

I’ve found that when I put checklists on people’s existence in my life (who I need, when I need them, how I need them to be, etc.), I lose them pretty quickly, but when I keep my hands and heart open and let them just “be”, our relationships evolve and thrive. But that takes work, because love is about making the other person feel free. Free to be themselves, to be authentic, seen and acknowledged, accepted just as they are, and appreciated just as they are.

Driving home in the rain this song came on. There was something about the words that got me thinking…

It takes work. Relationships take work. Lots of work. But most of the work is internal. It’s about how we are showing up as the partner we want to be, the parent we want to be, the friend we want to be, the employee we want to be, the boss we want to be… Every day, little by little, with every encounter, and every relationship we chip away at becoming this person. And I couldn’t help but think: I don’t think “finding your life partner” is the goal. I don’t have enough life experience to say for 100%, but I don’t think being in a relationship is a means to an end to anything… If anything, it just adds to the work you’ve gotta keep chipping away at internally (figuring out how to live in peace and love someone other than yourself).

The lyrics:

“So if you wanna be with me
With these things there’s no telling
We just have to wait and see
But I’d rather be working for a paycheck
Than waiting to win the lottery
Besides, maybe this time is different
I mean, I really think you like me”
Relationships are hard (even when we find our “life partner”). We’re constantly looking for someone to come and fill the missing pieces inside ourselves, when really we can just work to be at peace with where we’re at. Because eventually, our life partner will walk into our life, and inevitably there’s still gonna be work to do both internally and now with the new relationship.
But as long as your partner really likes you and thinks working with you is just awesome and totally worth it… now that is when you hit the lottery. So why not work on liking yourself. Why not just work on liking being alone with yourself first? Then maybe someone will wanna like being with you too…

First Day of My Life

 

Finding “The One”

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If you want to find “the Perfect Person” you must die and go to heaven, because the Perfect Person does not exist on this Earth…

And what if we die and we find out there is no “heaven”?

What if we are all perfect, in our own unique ways. What if here, right now, is Heaven? What if we are creating our own Hell?

No one is without flaw. No one has their shit together. We don’t need to look for the perfect person, because that person does not exist. Nor will you ever be perfect, so don’t feel bad if you come with your own baggage.

Rather, focus on developing skills that help you cope with and overcome your unhealthy behaviors. Be with someone, who in their imperfections, also develops and cultivates healthy coping mechanisms to overcome their own unhealthy behaviors.

It’s inevitable that we will find ourselves with imperfect people. This is life. This is something we have absolutely no control over. But we always have a choice to put our focus and energy on cultivating healthy coping and processing tools, and to be in relationship only with those that value and commit to that same level of accountability.

We can spend our short earthly lives searching for things and people that simply do not exist… or we can put our energy on finding peace with who you are, and where you are in life right NOW…

Ironically, where we are in life and who we are is also constantly changing. Being able to flow like water in that inevitable changing… now THAT, I believe is heaven.

On Purpose

When we feel we belong, when we feel we have purpose, we thrive. Not only do we feel more motivated to do our daily tasks, but we are also less likely to get stuck in depression or remain discouraged when various things in life don’t go our way – because the external events don’t take you off course from your purpose.

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Even if our set goals don’t work out as planned, we still see the bigger picture – the bigger PURPOSE, because goals aren’t our purpose. Goals are bullet points you put in place that enable to to act on your purpose.

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Your purpose is why you are here. Your purpose isn’t limited to one thing either. We can have many purposes in our life. Our purpose(s) aren’t what we “should” do, either, but rather what we feel in the depth of our heart, what we are called to do. And sometimes that isn’t always in line with what we want to do.

One of my purposes in life is to be the best mom I can be to my kids: to make them feel that they belong, to feel that they have a forever home, and to feel that they have an unconditionally loving and supportive family. In order to fulfill that purpose it takes work. I have to do things I don’t want to do, and be patient when I’m reeling inside and exhausted. I have to be a kind, loving, and cooperative co-parent with their father. That brings me to the other purpose: to be the best teammate I can be when working in collaboration with others.

When working on a team, this means I have to be considerate of their needs, wants, feelings, and also be patient and forgiving with them. If they slack off or drop the ball sometimes, I can extend compassion and patience, because I would want to be afforded that same level of patience and forgiveness when I inevitably screw up.

Being a good teammate is a learned skill. We aren’t born with it. It takes practice. In order to fulfill my purpose I have to practice it daily and look for opportunities in how I can apply it in my every day life. When I’m driving, I’m technically “collaborating” and working as a team with other drivers on the road to drive in a manner that does not reject their needs, desires, or safety. To do so I must be the best driver I can be. I should not text and drive, drink and drive, speed, or drive distracted, because to do so prioritizes MY desires over theirs, which is not good teamwork.

But putting others first NEVER means putting myself last. Being a pushover does NOT make a good teammate, because that would mean I’m lying to myself and others, and liars don’t make good teammates. When my teammates are not being a good teammate, I don’t need to hold resentment, because it is MY goal; it is MY purpose to serve as the best teammate, and my purpose may or may not be theirs. There is no “me” in team. It’s “we”. If I am thinking about doing something and my mind goes to, “well, what am I gonna get out of this?” it is best to simply not do whatever it is I was thinking of doing, because to do something in expectation of receiving something is NOT love. It is NOT good teamwork. I do it because it is in me to do it, because I want to do it, because it is action I choose to take (or not) to fulfill my purpose. To give with expectations of getting something in return is just begging to break my team with my bitterness and resentment. In being a great teammate, I know that my goal is not to shove the burden of carrying my emotional baggage onto someone else.

If I want to connect with them, and to share my feelings about their behavior, I know that the way I do that can be the way of a good teammate (loving, compassionate, open-minded, inquisitive, honest, and vulnerable), or like a bad teammate (accusatory, withdrawn, and resentful). Obviously, if I know what my purpose is, I know what I need to do.

Part of being a good teammate is being a good listener because it sends the message: what you have to say matters to me. Not just because I care about you, but because if I can’t understand you or where you’re coming from, I can’t serve my role as a good teammate very effectively. Being a good listener requires that I listen with the intention of understanding; not to judge, or respond, or defend my position.

The list goes on and on about how I can be a good teammate. But the point is, when we focus on our purpose, everything else just seems to make sense. Everything else just seems to “fall into place” just as it should. Every action or event in our life seems to perfectly serve our purpose. Every moment, every micro-moment, and every person that comes in and out of our lives has come to help you fulfill your purpose. Sometimes we think if they are not doing what we want them to do, they are not being a good teammate to us. We think they are trying to prevent us from achieving our goals. But what if we just changed the way we looked at things?

If you try to change the way you view the world, there is never a dull moment! Each opportunity is another grand opportunity for you to challenge yourself, to practice and polish your skills at whatever purpose you have, and become truly successful and fulfilled.

Savoring the Experience…It’s All We Have

Early Spring/Summer mornings are my favorite because the night before, I like to open the window and sleep with great excitement for the morning when I can wake up to a fresh cool breeze, the sound of the fountain, and birds chirping. There’s something about that moment that pulls me into presence. I get out of my busy mind of “what do I need to get done today?” and into “aaaah, I LOVE this feeling…right now.” I feel a wave of peace roll over me where nothing matters but what is right in front of me: everything I have is everything I need. I need nothing more.

I took advantage of the time (6:30am on a Sunday) and went to the kitchen to make coffee. As I sit here on the patio sipping my coffee and writing this, I see geese flying over my home, an airplane, two mourning doves, a crow, and my pug staring at me with adoring eyes (or so I’d like to believe). It’s so quiet. I LOVE this feeling. Soon my children will wake up and the day will be filled with a different energy. The boys will play, and they will fight. There will be arguments about what’s for breakfast and how we will spend our day. Someone is going to get hurt and at some point we will all hug each other and make up. I will be exhausted for a majority of the time, but I LOVE this feeling. I am grateful for my children and for the incredible responsibility for being a parent.

And yet, every moment that I LOVE comes and goes. The sun is rising and people are starting to wake up and take their dogs out for walks. That moment I cherished- my joy- is now gone… but only in the form that I was experiencing. Joy is never ending. It will come again. This is life. It shows up in nearly everything we do: from eating a delicious meal to being in love in a relationship.

Love isn’t something we “get to keep.” It is simply an experience. Love is unconditional and within reach every day, all day. There is never a lack of love. Sometimes we think we lose love when we break up with someone we loved. But love is still there. It is within us always. We just got so used to feeling it in one form (the presence of another being) that we forgot about our very essence, which is love.

Just like everything in this world, from my morning calm, to a hot coffee, to parenting young boys, to being in a relationship, nothing lasts forever. Everything comes in and out of our lives. People. Things. Everything.

If we step into a relationship thinking, “Yay! I finally got what I wanted! Now I can finally be happy forever!” we will be extremely disappointed when that changes. The form of the relationship will change. Our feelings and others’ feelings will change. Relationships change. My sweet little boys that adore me will grow into teenagers and give me attitude…maybe…hopefully not!

And when things do inevitably change, we will become upset. We will think, “but this isn’t what I wanted. I need it to go back to the way I wanted it…the way it was.” Yes, wouldn’t that be nice… We will be disappointed time and time again as we hold onto our attachment to what was.

“Well, what’s wrong with that?” you might ask. There’s nothing wrong with wanting things to go back to the way things used to be. This is exactly the feeling that brings us to an important turning point- the point where we either suffer from our loss or thrive. That point is a choice. We can choose to cultivate resentment, bitterness, and anger toward the loss of what we wanted, or we can cultivate gratitude for the experience that brought us so much joy.

If we are to choose the former, we will miss out on the experience of knowing and feeling what it means to actually “love” unconditionally. And if love comes with conditions, it isn’t love. To experience love, we feel joy. To reject joy at the fear of losing love, is to hold love with conditions: “I will only love if I am guaranteed it will never change and never leave me.” That’s not love, it’s business. We forget that love is not an exchange, it is an experience. A “being”.

If we were to be honest with ourselves, we would all admit that even toward those that we claim to love, we are sometimes not very loving. We say or do things that are not loving at all. To experience love in its fullness, we are constantly brought to a moment in which we get to choose to be loving or not. Similarly, the people around us are constantly choosing, in every moment, if they want to be loving or not.

I have met many people who, when they don’t feel that their partner is being very loving at the moment, they jump in and out of other relationships because they believed that the only way to experience love is to feel loved by another. They go into relationship after relationship just to “fill” their emptiness… never really getting to know what it feels like to love.

It reminds me of a constant hunger that is never satisfied. Some people eat just to eat, and some people eat to enjoy the food. They eat to savor the flavors, aromas, and textures. They know the precious value that went into the growing of the vegetables, and seasonings, the picking of the fruits, and the labor that went into preparing the food. And with that gratitude for the experience, even a single bite is enough to feel full, satisfied, and joyful.

I think love is like that. It takes tremendous courage to love and be loved. So the more we open ourselves and become vulnerable, to share our minds and hearts and lives with another, even if it comes at the risk of losing that love sometime in the future, I still believe that it is better to love fully, than to never love at all.

And with that, the kids are up! Time to start the day!

On the Practice of Gratitude

Gratitude isn’t a feeling, it’s a practice. This is a very important distinction, because we often confuse the practice of gratitude with “feeling grateful“. We can feel grateful for that awesome promotion, or the date that went extremely well, or our super cool friends. But feeling grateful for cool things that happen to us isn’t “gratitude.” That’s basically just an emotional response to experiencing cool things. It didn’t take any personal effort or acknowledgement on your part, you just got happy because something went your way. In other words, you felt happy. Not grateful. Happy. Big difference.

The practice of gratitude is like any practice. Take physical exercise as an example: the more you do it, the stronger you get, and the more results you will start to see in your professional and personal life on so many levels (physical, emotional, spiritual, psychological, financial… you name it.)

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The problem with thinking that gratitude is a feeling is that, unfortunately, when things aren’t going so well, we don’t “feel” like being grateful. Have you ever felt super crappy and down in the dumps and compelled to express gratitude? Probably not. Your partner left you, the car broke down,  finances are low, the kids are fighting, you’ve had a long day at work, got criticized by a colleague, and when all you want to do is go home and relax, now you’re stuck in heavy traffic. What are all these people doing on MY road!? It may seem counter-intuitive, but this is the perfect time to practice gratitude.

The key word here is practice. In the beginning, it takes some serious creativity, focus, and effort. But anything worth anything takes a little effort. When all looks grey and gloomy, it’s really hard to find the silver lining. Fortunately, practicing gratitude isn’t about finding any silver lining, and it’s not about being overly optimistic. Practicing gratitude is basically the practice of looking beyond the crappy stuff.

**IMPORTANT NOTE: “looking beyond crappy stuff” is NOT the same as “overlooking the crappy stuff,” but simply changing your viewpoint (and sometimes attitude) about it.

There are many ways to practice gratitude, and some can be very easy. For example, today I woke up breathing. Some people weren’t afforded that opportunity… Thank you for another day. Given how I treated my kids last night in my moment of exhaustion, I don’t feel deserving of another day…

I woke up in a country that is not in the middle of bombings and war- in fact, it was silent with the peaceful sound of running water from a fountain outside my window and birds chirping as they bathed in it. My kids are healthy, I am healthy, I have a job, money, food, a car, and iPhone… What if I didn’t have these things?

My 42 year-OLD (yeah, I highlighted that last word) husband left me for a life of prostitutes, alcohol and gambling addictions. My childhood was full of abuse and neglect. I could focus on that… I could spend countless amounts of my precious energy being angry, sad, bitter and resentful for all the people and things that failed to meet my expectations… It really is just a matter of perception. I can’t deny it hurt a lot to go through all of that, and the grieving process was (and still is) a big part of my life. But in spite of all of that- no, BECAUSE of all of that, I am where I am right now. Strong, beautiful, empowered, resilient and with my heart left open and soft. Not hardened and shut down. It could have been SO much worse… but it isn’t.

In practicing gratitude, it’s easier to start with the stuff that we like, or the things that are going well in our life. Making it a daily habit of acknowledging and being grateful for the cool things that are going well for us, we slowly lose our focus on the things that aren’t going so well, and as if by miracle, MORE awesome things start to happen and appear in our lives. And as more awesome things start to happen, the less we are pulled toward or feel a need to waste our precious energy obsessing about the not-so-awesome things (which are almost always completely out of our control. Side note: if they were in your control you shouldn’t be complaining about them but rather doing something about it).

I got side-tracked…

Anyway, after a while of strengthening your “gratitude muscles” you can start venturing into the “gratitude for crappy things.” This can be a challenge, and definitely not something I’ll go into depth about today, but there will come a time in our life when we can reflect on the stuff that didn’t go well and, if not be grateful for it, just not feel like a victim about it. And when we choose to no longer be a victim to life, we set ourselves free.

Gratitude can be practiced anywhere, anytime, and because life is the way it is, the opportunities are in abundance.

Today, may I be an instrument of peace. May I learn how to love and be loved.
May I somehow be deserving of all that I have been blessed with.

Sending Love…Instead of Hate

I came to realize that when I held negative feelings or thoughts toward another person, I began to suffer. I felt pain. Heartbreak. Sadness.

Yet nothing inside me wanted to feeling anything more than that, toward the person that had hurt me the most.

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So the longer I held on to those negative feelings, the deeper they grew inside me. The sadder I felt. The lonelier I felt. But what was worse, was that his behavior never got better. In fact, it got worse. And the worse he got, the more bitter I got (you can see where this goes, right? Nowhere.)

I began to take a step back from my own personal experience and thoughts toward this person and tried to put myself in his shoes. This man was clearly suffering. Yes, I too, was clearly suffering. That meant we had something in common. If we were both suffering, was I contributing to his suffering in any way? I definitely could identify how he was contributing to my suffering. What I hadn’t realized was that a lot of my suffering from his actions was the beliefs I had about them. I thought they were personal.

What would happen if, instead of seeing his behavior as personal, saw it as a “lack of skill in dealing with his suffering”? What would happen if, instead of muttering hateful words about him, I said a small prayer for him? Dear God, bless his heart. May he know peace, kindness, compassion…

It didn’t take away the fact that he was responsible for dealing with his suffering in a more skillful way. It didn’t justify his behavior or make it “ok”. What it did was to help me take it less personal.

If I were him, with all his experiences in life, would I make the same choices? Would I feel the same? I don’t know, and that is a fact. All I did know was that he was dealing with it the only way he knew how.

Why do we do the things we do? Why do we choose the way we choose? I believe it’s because all of us, no matter how good or “bad” we are, simply don’t want to suffer. So we make choices daily, hourly, and sometimes by the second to avoid suffering in search for joy.

Sometimes our choices hurt others. Sometimes our escape from suffering comes at the cost of other’s pain. We, too, are just as guilt of causing others pain.

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We will never have the ability to make people change, or learn better coping mechanisms so that they can stop doing what we don’t like (and if you try, you will constantly subject yourself to more suffering, which is insanity), but what we can do, and where our power lies is directly in how much negative energy we put into ourselves and onto others based on circumstances that are completely out of our control.

When it is raining, you can curse the sky, but the rain doesn’t care. It still rains. How you feel about it and what you choose to do in the rain is your choice.

Playing Bad Cards

bad cards

We are all dealt our own unique cards in life. Some people get a good hand. Some get a crappy hand. But in the end, when the game is over, we all end up in the same place (dead). So how do I want to spend my time until then? I.e., how do I win with the crappy cards I was given?

Pissing and moaning about the dealer? Holding resentment towards those that seem to have gotten the better hand? Steal their cards? Cheat? Drink myself to oblivion or dive into other addictions so I don’t have to feel as bad about my crappy hand?

What if I have fun and play my best, no matter how crappy it may seem? I might not beat the others by wiping them out but I will win by finding joy that AT LEAST I can play.

I might find joy in the game simply by learning, growing, making friends, sharing our “secrets” to the joy-finding approach.

IN the end, I might even realize it wasn’t a game of me vs you or even me vs the cards. Maybe it wasn’t even a game.

Some people like to stay sitting at the table, hoping for a better hand. I admit, I was one of those people thinking that if I stayed in the game long enough, maybe my luck would change. Now I’m starting to realize there was only one player at the table and it was me! Life is too short to stay there!

Who is making all these rules anyway? Who assigned the value of the cards? Who decides if the cards in your hand are even crappy or not?

It’s time to live!

Uninvited Guests and Their “Gifts”

uninvited-guest
Who doesn’t love it when someone comes to their home bearing gifts? Whether they were invited or not, if someone comes to my home with a present for me, I want to welcome them in and serve them my finest tea! What a thoughtful gesture! The kindness should definitely be returned!
But what about those uninvited guests that bring gifts that you aren’t quite sure you needed or even want? Even worse, what if they didn’t bring anything, or brought you something that made you uncomfortable!? Can you still be grateful? Can you still show the same kindness?
Circumstances in life are like guests in our home. The good circumstances, like landing an awesome job, or getting a promotion, getting married, winning a competition, having a family, etc., are usually welcome and invited. While they come with hard work, the gifts they bring are usually joy and happiness (just to name a few). The bad circumstances, however, like losing a job, getting rejected, getting divorced, etc., are not as welcome. In fact, they are oftentimes violently rejected. We can take it quite personally and offensively. What we easily forget in those times is that although we may not have wanted that circumstance, it is still a gift.
The wrapping it came in may seem horrendous, but what if you took that gift graciously and unwrapped it? Play with it. See what you can do with it. On the outside it seems pointless, but if you give it a chance, you might be surprised at the real gift inside!

Some people sit around waiting for circumstances to change so that they can finally be happy…They throw away all the gifts from their uninvited guests, mumbling, grumbling, waiting for them to leave already! “Well, I didn’t invite them,”  “I didn’t ask for that,” and “They should know I don’t like that or need that…” They sit there in their misery celebrating only when guests bring them gifts that they like and appreciate- things they “think they need”. Anything else is NOT welcome.

I have a friend who is always laughing and joyous, and way back when (during my divorce) I spoke to him of my woes, he would always say the most annoying thing, “Just be happy!”

I would get so upset when he said that. I would think, “but you don’t understand what I’m going through! How can I be happy when such and such is happening to me!?”
His response was always the same: Just be happy!
For the longest time, as much as I cared for him I secretly resented it and wondered if he was really not happy and just putting on a show about being happy. I would secretly look for clues as to his unhappiness. I saw him go through loss and insecurity but he would just float through it as if it hadn’t phased him.
I began to assume, he must be a fake! How could anyone be that happy in times of trouble?
I justified my sadness saying, “When crappy stuff happens you’re supposed to feel crappy! You’re supposed to talk about it and process the emotions! I WILL be happy! Just not now…” When my uninvited guest (a.k.a. “circumstance”) leaves…
Then I realized… Being happy isn’t dependent on circumstance. Happiness doesn’t come and go. It’s always there. It’s always inside. Every day is a welcomed gift, even if it comes disguised in something that looks like something we don’t want or need. We just have to choose, daily, if we want it or not. If we are willing to unwrap it and use it.
Circumstance is the uninvited guest, and whether that guest brings you a gift you want or don’t want, it is always a gift.
Unwrap it. Find the blessing.
And if you can’t find the blessing, say thank you anyway.
You will understand what its purpose was for later.