Politics and Joy

This is an oxymoron for me, as I have never enjoyed politics at all.  But, with such an intense and enduring election in USA, with a shocking result, it seems necessary to be able to find some joy somehow.  So, I dug deep.  I realized that most people’s default setting is that someone or something -like government- will help them.  Or we need someone or something to blame when things aren’t going how we like.  Or sometimes we use people or situations to distract us from our own issues.  All convenient but not accurate, nor helpful. (Disclaimer: Yes, of course, government programs and actions do help and serve many people.  But we cannot become dependent on anything or anyone outside of ourselves to live our lives for us.)

The truth is that we are the creators of our own lives.  That’s painful to acknowledge when things aren’t going how we’d like.  Yet, we hold the key to our thoughts and feelings.  And our thoughts and feelings create our realities. So, how was I expecting the government to help me, how was I blaming the government for what I didn’t like about my own reality, or how was I using this situation to distract me from my own issues?   In other words, how was I not taking ownership of my own life?

The morning after the election, my knee was hurting badly for no apparent physical reason.  Checking in my Louise Hay, You Can Heal Your Life book, I am reminded that knee problems have to do with pride, stubbornness, inflexibility and not giving in.  Ooooh, I had been stubborn, to say the least, about seeing how the president-elect could be beneficial.  I was being inflexible about how I believed he was selfish, disingenuous, and uncaring (among other less nice characteristics).  I certainly know that agonizing over bad aspects of anyone or anything is never, ever a good thing.  (I had to re-read this post.)  This case is no exception.

Because of this knowledge and the hope that I would find relief for my aching knee, I opened up to try to find one thing about him that wasn’t awful.  I found it!  He doesn’t care what people think of him.  Which is a trait I exceedingly cherish and try to have.  I mean, that’s my life’s work – to be me regardless of other people’s opinions.  (Disclaimer #2: This does not mean that I want to do the same actions as him.  We have different values and want different things.  I’m just talking about the not living life based on needing the good opinion of other people part.)  From there, I found a couple other aspects that weren’t terrible.

I felt some relief now and realized how much energy goes into hating.  With the respite, another level of information came to me:  This has to be something to do with me directly.  I don’t even know him and I’m not into politics, so why is this bothering me to this extent?  I realize it’s not even what he says, but his general mannerisms that irritate me so much.

Then it hits me like a ton of bricks. He reminds me of someone I know.  Someone I had issues with.  Not just annoyance but deep issues from childhood.  I thought I had already dealt with these issues.  But now I see that even though I had become aware of them and forgave the person, I never opened the gift.

The gift is all the wonderful lessons we learn, how we evolved because of it, and noticing the good that came or could come from it.

As is customary after receiving a gift, we thank the giver.  Closure cannot come without acknowledging and thanking the person.  Without opening and giving gratitude for the gift, the issue just sort of lingers and lurks about waiting for our acceptance.  So, I thoroughly went over this issue from childhood and found the good in it and felt genuine gratitude to the persons involved.

The point of this post isn’t that everyone has a personal issue related to a political representative.  But the idea is that we have the power in our own lives.  It’s our choice how we feel, react, and respond to whatever is going on around us, whether it be in our own house, the country, or the world.  Are we going to love or hate?   Are we going to live in courage or fear?  It’s a personal choice of which we have full power.

Second point, it’s always beneficial to not dwell in fear and negativity.  When we look for the positive and good in all situations, absolutely including politicians we don’t agree with, when we stop playing the I’m- better-than and the blame game, then we give ourselves a chance to feel relief, love, and joy.  And from here, we get all kinds of things we want.  Maybe even a politician hearing us.

We can’t be full of hate and negativity and expect to see a loving, positive world.  Through each of our own individual attitudes of love and peace, the world will reflect that.

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Manifest Our Desires (aka, Get Things We Want)

Of course we can be joyful without any material object or relationship.  The ultimate goal is to be happy regardless of any external thing.  But…we want things!  And that is perfectly normal and natural.  We are in this world of physicality.  Let’s embrace and enjoy material things, always mindful that we don’t need them to be happy.  But that it is more than okay to have fun with and enjoy things.

So how do we get things we want?  A lot of hard work and physical effort?  Wrong!  But it seems that is what most people believe.  From the Puritan Work Ethic, conservative religion, governments, etc. trying to control the masses, whatever the origin, this is what has been ingrained in most people’s minds in our society.  But it simply is not true.

The work hard motto has definitely been ingrained in my mind.  But by playing around with, testing out and doing some experiments for fun, I’ve seen, first-hand, what can be manifested by not putting in that 110% physical effort.  At least not in the typical way.  It all has to do with focusing our thoughts.  Manifesting physical things all begins with what we think and how we feel emotionally.

The way we feel is the indicator of what we are thinking and what vibration we are.  Feeling good means we are thinking good thoughts (joy, happiness, appreciation, fun, enthusiasm, love) and indicates we are at a high vibration.  Feeling bad means we’ve mostly had negative thoughts going on (worry, sad, angry, jealous, bored, guilt, confused, fear) and means we are at a low vibration.

Whoa.  What the heck is vibration?  This is where the science comes in.  Yep, that’s right…science.

I’m definitely not a scientist nor completely understand science.  (And please pardon me if I have some slight errors in explaining the science.)  But I think it is worth it to take some time to ponder the quantum world.  Not just for the sake of expanding our minds, but to fully realize that we shape our reality whether we are aware of it or not.

Science proves the existence of vibration.  Quantum physics has shown that everything is made up of energy.  And all energy is moving, or, in other words, vibrating.  Everything is made up of millions of subatomic particles that are vibrating.  Everything vibrates at different rates or frequencies.  Including us.  (Also including our thoughts. But, we’ll get to that in a minute.) Envision everything as masses of vibrating energy, rather than as what we can see and touch.  This is not just theory but proven scientific discoveries by esteemed scientists like, Albert Einstein, Niels Bohr, and Max Planck (names to google, if you desire).

Einstein’s famous equation, which most of us have at least heard of, from the 1920s, E=MC2, states that matter (physical objects) and energy can be converted into each other and thus are essentially the same!  Energy – something we cannot see – and matter – that which we can see – are the same things in different forms.  He theorized, through mathematical equations, that everything is made of atoms and that all atoms consist of sub-atomic particles which consist of pure energy at their most basic level.  Even things that appear to be very different.  At their basic level, everything is made up of this same energy.

It was just Einstein’s theory; for there was no way to prove it at the time.  But it has now been proven over and over again by highly regarded scientists.  In other words, it is not just some out of the blue, airy-fairy idea.  (Although this is where I do not fully understand the science behind it and cannot seem to wrap my head around these experiments!  This is where I trust the scientists and move beyond to where this fact can actually benefit my life.)

Then came the Copenhagen Interpretation by Niels Bohr, also from the 1920s.  This says that a particle doesn’t exist in one state or another (energy or physical) but in all possible states simultaneously.  It’s not until we observe it that it chooses its state.  Quantum physics has proven that the same atom can be a solid physical particle or a non-physical wave of energy depending on what the observer is expecting.

So what this means in practical terms is that our thoughts create physical things!  Everything that was created was a thought first.  Again, this is not a self-help or new age-y idea.  This is scientifically proven and accepted as fact in the professional scientific community for almost one hundred years.

The idea of Quantum Entanglement began in the 1930s in a paper by scientists Einstein, Podolsky, and Rosen, which was later proven in multiple experiments.  In these experiments (which continue through the modern day), subatomic particles of energy were split in half.  It was found that each half affected the other half regardless of how physically far apart they were and the effect was received instantly.  It did not matter if the halves were close to each other or across the globe.  Regardless of physical distance, interacting with one half always had a simultaneous effect on the other half.  Because the effect was instantaneous – did not take time to travel through space – this means each half is still connected with the other.  If the Big Bang theory is correct (note that Einstein’s theories, and many other esteemed scientists of the time, could not be proven at the time until technology advanced to provide ways to test the theories), then everything in the world was “entangled” at the start, so that means everything has an effect on everything else.

Our Thoughts are Energy

How do we know our thoughts are made of this same energy?  It seems like thoughts could be an exception (says the ego).  But consider this: Our brains generate an electrical field which these days can be measured by ordinary medical equipment, such as, electroencephalogram (EEG).  An EEG works by measuring the fluctuations in voltage within the brain.  Voltage is defined on dictionary.com as electromotive force.  In other words, energy!  So that is confirmed – our thoughts are energy.  The same energy that Einstein stated made up everything.

So that then means the same principles that are proven for quantum physics (above) also apply to our thoughts:  Matter and energy can be converted into each other; All possibilities exist simultaneously and our observation or expectation determines state; Everything has an effect on everything else regardless of distance.

These “strange” phenomena happen not only in lab experiments with particles, but in our everyday lives!

The difference between our thoughts and particles is that we have free will over our thoughts.  We can think whatever we choose.  (See previous post.) We can direct and focus our thoughts and thus affect our environment and everything in it.  In other words, we can get things we want by thinking about them.

If the case is still not made that our thoughts create reality (my ego is very stubborn!), perhaps some more science will settle it.  Experiments starting in the 1970s at Princeton University showed that thoughts affected a random event generator (REG).  A random event generator is a device that produces completely random and unpredictable series of numbers.  When a person intentionally tried to direct the numbers, the sequences shifted and were significantly proven to not be by chance.  They also did experiments in various field settings (outside the lab) with activities comprised of large groups of people.  They found that the output generated by the REGs shifted based on events such as touchdowns in football games and peak moments in performances.  Thus, unintentional, as well as intentional, thoughts both affected the REGs.  This is a really neat experiment that shows the effect of our thoughts.

In Hidden Messages in Water, scientist Masaru Emoto wrote about the effects of words and thoughts on water.  When water is frozen, crystals form.  He found again and again that positive thoughts and words made the ice form beautiful crystals; negative ones made deformed crystals or no crystals at all.  (Check out the Water Crystal Photo Gallery for some fascinating pictures: masaru-emoto.net/english/water-crystal.html).  Not only does this support our case about our thoughts affecting our reality, but it also shows that thoughts affect our bodies because our bodies are 70% water!

Try some experiments for yourself to really seal the deal to your doubting ego.  I love the book, E-squared, by Pam Grout.  She’s got nine DIY energy/thought experiments that are not only convincing but fun!

How fascinating are quantum physics and these experiments!  In a nutshell, science says that our thoughts create material things and everything is possible.  The quantum physicist Niels Bohr said, “Anyone who is not shocked by quantum theory has not understood it.”  Even the genius Einstein deemed quantum entanglement theory as “spooky”.

Please share your ideas and comments about quantum science and creating your reality.  Or even better, examples of what you intentionally created with your thoughts!  Next post, we’ll talk specifically about our thoughts in terms of visualization and imagery.

Turning Debbie Downer on her Head

I recently have been aware that I say and think many “Debbie Downer” lines. Debbie Downer was a character on Saturday Night Live that always brought up a bad or negative point in a conversation among a group of people.  As I had been noticing my behavior in doing this, I began to look at it in depth.  The first thing I told myself was what I was saying were facts. These negative points are true.  For example, I told someone I had a craving for frozen yogurt.  He said go get some at lunch.  My reply was that it’s too far away.  And that was a fact!  It was too far for the time I had available.

Yes, it is true that Debbie Downer lines are facts. But they are looking at the negative.  My ego had me so tricked by this – had me believing that just because it was a fact, that being negative was inevitable and, sort of, necessary and that being positive was implausible.

It’s true – there are plenty of negative facts.  But there are plenty of positive things to focus on, as well.  It really is a matter of what our point of focus is on.

Debbie Downer lines can be about simple and insignificant subjects or meaningful topics.  They come in response to a comment from somebody or even in response to your own self.  Here’s some examples of what I’m talking about: My husband suggests to send flowers to a family member.  I immediately shoot it down saying that is a dumb idea because flowers just die!  Definitely a fact that flowers die.  Another example is wanting to go to Europe for a vacation.  It’s expensive.  Another fact, indeed.  A third example is that I want to write and publish a book.  Debbie says to that, there are already so many self-help books available.  True, thousands already exist.

The upside is that now that I clearly see this behavior in myself, I can change it.  When I catch myself saying or thinking a Debbie Downer line, I tell myself (my ego), yes that is a fact.  But, what is the positive statement about the topic?  In the fro-yo example, it would be that I can go after work or tomorrow.  So you sort of pivot from the negative fact to put a positive spin on the subject at hand.  This, of course, leaves us feeling good rather than down, which is the ultimate goal. In the sending flowers example, we could say flowers are so beautiful while they are alive; even though it is a short time, it is well worth it. The Europe downer could be if it is something we highly desire we can save up money for it; the experience will merit the money spent.  And about the book publishing, there can never be too many self-help books, all add value, people always want a new book to read.  And so on.  We can always find the positive side to a negative fact.

We first want to go from saying the Downer lines aloud to just having them in our thoughts.  Of course we don’t want them there either.  This is a process.  First we catch ourselves before we say them aloud.  We pivot in our minds and say only the positive.  We want to get to where we no longer put the negative facts out there for others to receive.  Eventually with some practice (and it will be quicker than you think!), we get to where we no longer even think the negative fact.  (But we don’t criticize ourselves when we do have them.  We are always kind to ourselves.) Simply pivoting with the positive spin will become a habit.

Another way to pivot would be to affirm the topic and then remind ourselves that anything is possible.  For instance, let’s use the Debbie Downer line of going to Europe is too expensive. Then we would pivot and say, But it certainly is possible that I could find a cheap airfare, or I could receive unexpected additional income, etc.  Then really feel the feeling of that being plausible.  Ending with the line, Anything is possible with God/Divine/Source (don’t get caught up on the label!), will certainly put Debbie in her place.

This is simply another way to deliberately be joyful.  As the Dalai Lama says in The Art of Happiness, “Happiness is not something ready made. It comes from your own actions”.  In other words, we aren’t just automatically happy.  Our happiness is in our own hands.  Therefore, we must intentionally focus our minds and behaviors on joy.

Let’s be open to seeing where or when we might be a Debbie Downer.  Then turn Debbie upside down and put a positive spin on the negative fact.  We realize Debbie is just our ego, not our true selves.  And remember to laugh at the ridiculousness of Debbie!

Last Man on Earth

I was recently watching an episode of a new TV show, Last Man on Earth.  The basic premise is everyone died from a virus except for this guy, hence he’s the last man on Earth.  I can’t say that I really enjoy the show or will keep watching (this is definitely not an endorsement for the show!).  But, it did get me thinking as I watched a segment of him doing whatever he wanted, wherever he wanted.  I thought, wow that is freedom!  There’s nobody’s opinions to consider.  No approval or admiration to gain.  No negative judgments to worry about.  Nobody to feel superior or inferior to.  All this ego stuff suddenly becomes non-existent.  I instantly become my true self because I’m no longer considering the opinions of other people.

As I momentarily reveled in this idea, I quickly realized how sad and meaningless everything would become. OK great, so I could do and say whatever I wanted, however I wanted to do it; wear whatever I wanted; go wherever I wanted; “buy” (the whole concept of money is unnecessary) anything I wanted.  But without other people permanently, everything would soon become meaningless.  There’s no one to share ideas with.  No one to laugh with.  No one to help out.  No one to love or be loved by.  And no one to read what I write!

This silly example helped me to see two things more clearly.  One is that being my true self – not worrying about others’ opinions – is absolutely a key to joy.  And second, that having a connection to people is also a key to joy. When we are not concerned with their opinions, don’t fear them, nor need various other things from them, we can truly enjoy people’s company, be inspired by them, help them, love them, and simply have fun with them.

What would you do differently if you knew nobody would ever be around to see or know?  Let’s not wait to be the last person on Earth to give it a try!

I look forward to the next posts where we’ll get more into the joy in serving others and connecting with them.

Self-Worth in Challenging Times

Once we get on the roll of loving ourselves and being kind to ourselves, it starts to become second nature.  We start feeling good about ourselves more often than not.  When things are all hunky-dory, the process is easy.  But what happens when we hit a bump and don’t like our actions?  Like when we don’t face a fear (I recently chickened out of doing a high zipline), or we make a crucial mistake, or we act based on other’s opinions, or we gain a lot of weight, or we cause an accident, or we scold kids unnecessarily, or we lash out unreasonably at others?

We’ve got to find a way to be kind to and love ourselves amidst such obstacles because this is when it really counts; this is when it can make a huge difference in our lives.  This is what can move us past our fears and worries.  By knowing -and telling ourselves- that we are good and lovable even when we don’t appear to be, we tell fear and worry, there’s nothing to feel negative about because no matter how badly I messed up, I am still worthy of love.  Remember, unconditional love means we don’t require conditions to be a certain way to love ourselves.  Loving ourselves when we don’t like our actions is practicing unconditional love.  These are times to take a moment to refresh ourselves with how we increase our self-worth. See this link  Remember, we are forming a new habit, so it can take some extra time and thought and that is perfectly ok.

Self-Worth and Forgiveness

Forgiveness is a big topic, with entire books devoted to the topic.   Surely, we all know the value in forgiving.  But, recently I was pondering forgiveness in terms of self-worth.  No matter how many kind thoughts we think about ourselves or how much we stop comparing ourselves to others or how many compliments we accept, etc. (see the past three blogs), if, in the back of our minds, we are continually thinking we should have done better, we shouldn’t have done this or that, we shouldn’t have treated him/her that way, etc., then true self-worth doesn’t stand a chance.  All of the self-worth work we are doing is being cancelled out by our overriding belief that we messed up or should have done better and it’s not okay.  How can we ever feel worthy if, somewhere in our minds, there is the thought that we should have been, could have been or wished we were other than we were?  This is exactly what not forgiving ourselves means.

For self-worth to take hold, we have to, sort of, wipe our slates clean from time to time by forgiving ourselves.  We forgive ourselves for not being our best, for not doing the right thing, for making mistakes, for hurting others, for not being perfect.  Forgiving ourselves is cutting ourselves a break for not being flawless.  Forgiving ourselves is admitting we have faults and being okay with it.  Remember, the ego wants and needs to be perfect in order to validate its self worth (see Ego Post).  To the ego, perfection equates with worth; and imperfection means unworthiness. When we forgive ourselves we stand up to the ego and say, it’s okay that we aren’t perfect; we’re worthy despite our imperfections.

When we don’t forgive ourselves, we deny ourselves love and worth.  Living without love and worth is likely going to make us do more things we will later need to forgive ourselves for.  And so the shame, guilt and lack of self-worth continue and grow.  Not forgiving ourselves closes the door to love.  When we forgive ourselves, we make room for love and worthiness.

Let’s take some time to wrap our heads around what forgiving ourselves means.  Let’s be aware of how the ego’s need for external validation is involved when we are unwilling to forgive ourselves.

We’ll explore forgiving others and how to forgive in the next posts.

Increasing Self-Worth, Part 1

All right, let’s get to this matter of increasing our self worth.  Worth is like joy, in that it must come from within ourselves.  When we know our worth from within ourselves, we no longer need to judge others in order to know where our own worthiness is positioned.  A fundamental concept:  Everyone is worthy, regardless of what they can/can’t do, have/don’t have, did/didn’t do, or what they look like.  No exceptions.  It sounds corny, but it’s true – everyone is unconditionally unique and special.  Everyone has positive traits and just because someone else has a positive quality that we don’t, does not diminish us.  This line a friend used to say sums it up nicely – ‘You are special and unique…just like everybody else.’

After we come to realize and accept the above, to increase our self-worth we must love ourselves.  To love ourselves, start out by simply telling it to ourselves.  Chances are, everyday you tell someone you love him or her.  Why aren’t we telling ourselves everyday…or ever?  I’m a big fan of Louise Hay, a spiritual and inspirational author, who suggests to look in the mirror and say, ‘I love you.  I really, really love you…just as you are.’  Even if it seems silly or stupid at first, if we keep doing it, something kicks in and we start to feel differently about ourselves. Give it a try and see what you experience!

Next, be kind to ourselves.  When we start paying attention, it is amazing to notice how many unkind thoughts we actually think about ourselves!  Kind thoughts are ones that uplift us rather than make us feel bad.  To be kind, tell ourselves how smart, good, pretty, and capable we are rather than how we are dumb, bad, ugly, and inept.  Be nice, gentle, and non-critical of ourselves.  Rather than harshly focus on what we don’t do well or how we could be better, acknowledge our positive traits, acts, and intentions.

For instance, I was sending gifts to some family members for basically no reason.  I caught myself thinking, ‘This is a dumb idea. They will wonder what the heck these are for.  And if I’m giving gifts, then these gifts should be bigger and better.’  I changed my thoughts to, ‘It is very thoughtful of me to send these nice gifts for no special occasion. I am doing it because I am thinking of them and wanted to let them know in a special way.  I am considerate and appreciative and my love for myself spills over to kindness to others.’

Obviously, the latter thoughts are going to be more beneficial than the former.  But perhaps we say, Do a couple of thoughts really make any difference?  But consider this: The National Science Foundation says we think about 12,000 to 50,000 thoughts per day.  Let’s say half of these are thoughts about ourselves (totally guessing that part).  Multiply 6,000 (the low end) by the number of days you’ve lived since age 5 (the approximate age psychologists suggest we become aware of self).  This adds up to over 80 million for me…a big deal!  Imagine if we are thinking mostly unkind, negative thoughts about ourselves.  It is easy to understand how this can be detrimental to our self-worth.

Remember, we are not comparing ourselves to others.  We are not saying we are better, smarter, stronger, prettier, etc. than so and so.  We are simply acknowledging our God-given value.  Loving and being kind to ourselves is not narcissistic.  It is love of self.  It is appreciation of God’s creation.

What kind thoughts about yourself are you thinking today?

Come back for more increasing our self-worth talk next time!