"REAL MOMENTS" by Barbara DeAngelis 

Buy This Book

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Additional thought of Graham White in highlights.

Fifty years from now,

It will not matter what kind of car you drove,

What kind of house you lived in,

How much you had in your bank account

Nor what your clothes looked like.

But the world will be a little better

Because you were important in the life of someone.

ANONYMOUS

This book is written for achievers.  There is another part of society that I work with that are very much in the experience of each moment.  They are so much in the moment that they are unable to delay gratification.  They don't put off anything they might enjoy until later.

They eat now, drink now, satisfy their craving for whatever addiction they have.  They immediately satisfy their need for conversation, to gossip, to brag, to engage in whatever hobby consumes them and prevents them from connecting beyond the small world they live in.

For these people, the challenge is not being in the moment, but becoming aware of how much deeper and more powerful their experience would become if they would take the time to develop themselves beyond what they currently experience.

They shun money, advancement, power and fame because they believe them to be evil.  The truth is that life is a matter of balance - to be connected to the moment, truth and others while at the same time working on always moving to a higher level of understanding, depth and wisdom.

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For those who are driven and find themselves lacking the experience of a real life, this book is for you.

Power, whether that be in the form of financial power, physical power, intellectual power, political power or social influence - is not what makes you happy.  It only allows you to become more of who you are - more generous, more selfish, more greedy, more demented...

Happiness is a choice.  Happiness is being present in the current moment andchoosing to find ways to be happy in the situation - happy because you're learning something or have the opportunity to grow stronger through your current challenge.

If you aren't happy with what you've GOT, you'll never be happy with what you GET!

For as long as I remember, I have been a seeker.  I have had a burning need to understand the meaning of life and felt lost without the answers I knew were missing.  Until I understood what those answers were, I couldn't see the point of learning all the other things that were put in front of me.  "What's the point of all this?" I wondered when I didn't even know what the point to life was.  

I committed myself to doing whatever I could to positively effect as many people as possible.  Because I have had to struggle so much to get to where I am, I have the opportunity to help people who also struggle because I know exactly how they feel and what steps they need to take in order to move from where they're at to where they want to be.

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How would you change your life if you found out you were dying?

Would you waste even one day not fully feeling and enjoying every moment of life?

Do you realize that you are dying?  Maybe not today or tomorrow, but thirty, or forty or fifty years in the not too distant future.  Are you really prepared to waste another day not enjoying your life?

 

 

Postponing Happiness

It is easy to be mindless in North America, because dreaming and living for a better tomorrow is what we do.  We live in a culture that values doing and not being.  We plan for or worry about the future, and before we know it, our life is over and we realize that we were too busy being preoccupied with what had already happened or what we wanted to happen that we forgot to enjoy what was actually happening in each and every moment.  We are not a society that is doing better and growing happier each day, and that was the dream  We forgot to Enjoy The Journey!

We become experts at preparing to live, but have a difficult time fully enjoying the process of being alive.  We prepare for our careers, we prepare for our retirement - when you add them all up, we are preparing for our life to be over.

We spend so much time working towards our milestones and only brief moments enjoying them.  We work towards graduation, enjoy it for the summer and then get a job or go to university.  We work towards our degree, enjoy it for a week, then begin our career.  We work towards a promotion, enjoy it for a brief moment and then focus on retirement.  We finally get to the point where we're retired and we don't have a clue what to do with ourselves, because we've been so busy living for something, that we forgot to live.  

If you weren't living all the way along, you won't have any idea how to enjoy life when the freedom you've been working so hard to achieve finally occurs.  That is why so many people die so soon after they retire, their life loses its purpose because their purpose was their work.

You goal must be to uncover and live your purpose.  Live today, live in this moment, don't live for the future.  There is only this moment, and this moment and this moment.  If you're not enjoying this moment, you are missing life.

There is a story about how the goldfish thinks he has always been dying.  The goldfish is only aware of this moment, so if he is happy, he thinks he has always been happy, if he is hungry he thinks he must have always been hungry, and if he is dying, he believes that he must have always been dying.

While the goldfish is forced by his nature to live in the moment, for us it is a choice.  Not only can we choose to live in the moment, but we choose our perspective of the moment.  We choose to be happy, we choose to be bitter, we choose to be passive, we choose to be a participant.  

The problem with being so good at living for the future is that we get in the habit of not being in the moment, so when those wonderful events we've planned for actually occur - the vacation, the promotion, the party, etc. - we have no idea how to enjoy them.  We rush through these long-awaited experiences as if we can't wait to get them over, treating them like another task to be dealt with, and then wonder why we are left feeling so let down, so unfulfilled.

When we spend our lives preparing for the future, rather than enjoying the present, we end up postponing happiness.  We lose our ability to appreciate and experience joy, so when we do have the opportunity for real moments, we miss them.

We tell ourselves that if we had the car, the house, the color TV, the better job, we'd have it made.  If we had a newer model of these than the guy next door, or a more prestigious position, we will be successful.

Our goal is having and accomplishing instead of living.

This "Consumption consciousness" inevitably turns us into experts at postponing happiness. Postponing happiness means believing that, in order to be happy, certain conditions must be met.  You think to yourself: "I'll be happy when..."

  • I find the right partner.

  • I lose 20 pounds.

  • My kids are married and successful.

  • I have my own business.

  • I redecorate my living room.

  • My boss gives me a promotion.

  • I buy a new car, or a new house.

  • ...

We believe that when we have a certain experience, or get a certain possession, or achieve a certain status, we will finally be happy and not until then.  So we work hard, or allow time to pass, and eventually what we thought would make us happy occurs.  We finish school, lose the weight, open our own business or buy the dream house.  Then we wait to be overcome with joy - and we are disappointed.  We may feel a sense of satisfaction, but we don't feel happy.

And so we begin the process all over again.  "Well, I know I said if I became company manager I'd be happy, but now I realize what will really make me happy would be to become a supervisor."  And once again, we postpone our happiness until we can achieve the next goal.

It in inherently human to work at making things better and easier.  What is unique about America is the accelerated rate at which we search for novelty and progress.  We've become so addicted to the process, its as though we're never satisfied.  It's like Chinese food, where you're only satiated for a moment before you're hungry for more. 

Like addictions, the need to have enough and do enough requires increasingly larger doses to get you high, until you're just not getting off anymore.  And for many of us, that is precisely what has been happening.  We've bought our cars and our condos; we've launched our careers and climbed up the success ladder.  We've tried to give our children the luxuries we didn't have growing up.  We've gotten many of the things we wanted and become many of the things we hoped for.  But slowly, we have begun to suspect that something is wrong, that the kind of dreams we've been following have delivered us into a spiritual and emotional dead end: We have been substituting the possessions we collected and the goals we achieved for real moments and in spite of it all we're still not happy!

What makes this process even more frightening is that the time in our life seems to fly by.  Each Friday evening arrives and we wonder where the week went.  Each New Year's Eve comes and we wonder where the year went.  We wake up one day and realize that we are turning thirty, or forty, or beyond and wonder where all the time went.  We watch our children graduate from school, or start families of their own and feel like it was just yesterday that we rocked them to sleep or taught them to tie their shoes.

We cannot technically slow time down.  We are changing, and ultimately aging and dying from the moment we are born.  But by experiencing more moments completely and consciously, I believe we will also experience time in a more meaningful way.

I don't remember where I heard it, but someone was talking about how fast life gets and why.  They were saying that we've lived half of all memorable experiences by the time we're 20 and 75-90% of our memorable experiences by the time we're 40.

Do you know why?  Can you remember when you were a kid, or back in school how many new experiences you had?  Do you remember a vacation where you actually took the time to relax and enjoy what you were doing?  Didn't those times seem to last so much longer than the life of work-sleep-work-sleep you're living now?  Are you moving forward in time, but seem to be repeating Groundhog Day (from the movie with Bill Murray, see it if you haven't.  Bill Murray wakes up every day experiencing exactly the same day as before until he ultimately understands what the point of life really is).

When will I know I have enough, and what will I do then?

These are powerful questions to ask yourself.  If you don't feel you have enough right now, when will you have enough?  How much money or success would it take until you felt you had enough?  And then, what would you do?  What would your life be about?

We're so busy creating the perfect life for ourselves that we don't have time to actually experience it.  We have lost connection with our spouse, our children and our purpose.  We've forgotten how to savor all the gifts we've been given.  Instead of filling our lives with meaning we're filling our lives with things.

HAPPINESS IS NOT SOMETHING YOU ACQUIRE, IT IS A SKILL YOU CHOOSE TO DEVELOP.

We do not experience happiness because of what we get.  We experience happiness because of how choose to experience each moment.  It is a skill, an ability we must master, just like learning to play tennis.  Having a tennis racquet and ball does not make you a tennis player.  Knowing how to play does.  Having certain experiences does not make you happy - knowing how to live them with full awareness and being in the moment makes you happy.

"Life can be found only in the present moment.  The past is gone, the future is not yet here, and if we do not go back to ourselves in the present moment, we cannot be in touch with life."  Thich Nhat Hanh, Vietnamese Philosopher

If you can't be happy now, with what you have and who you are, you will not be happy when you get what you think you want.  If you don't know how to fully enjoy $50, you won't enjoy $5000, or $500 000.  If you can't fully enjoy taking a walk around the block with your mate, then you won't enjoy going to Hawaii, or to Paris. I'm not saying that having more money or more recreation won't make your life easier - it will.  But it will not make you happy, because it can't.

If you don't develop your skill at enjoying what you have, you won't be any happier when you get more.

Before you start thinking that this all sounds too esoteric and abstract, let alone put into practice, remember that you used to be an expert at happiness - when you were a small child.  Children are masters at creating real moments.  They haven't yet learned to postpone joy, so they practice it as much as possible!  This is what makes each child so magical.  They are totally present, totally alive in the moment.  Their days and nights are filled with constant laughter and celebration.  It's not just because they don't have jobs and bills and responsibilities - their priorities may be different, but they often play as hard and intensely as we work.  Their contentment comes from their ability to discover and enjoy the pure wonder available in each taste, each flower, each cloud, each experience.

"Unless you are like children, you cannot enter the kingdom of heaven".  

When you look at the joy on a child's face, isn't that heaven?

That's why children bring us so much happiness - they remind us of the simple joy of living life and experiencing each moment fully.  One of the reasons you may be afraid to experience life fully is because you associate it with the people you see who do, but who are also "irresponsible".  Some people are irresponsible - they are out of balance with fulfilling their potential, simply living in the moment and not working at developing any of the gifts they have been given (not because they're lazy, but because they don't know how).  You, on the other hand, have not been responsible either.  You have not been responsible with your task of enjoying the moment.  Life is all about BALANCE.

Real moments occur only when you are consciously and completely experiencing where you are, what you are doing, and how you are feeling...You are paying attention, so you will notice things you wouldn't normally perceive if you were not paying attention.  There is nothing else in your awareness but the experience you are having.

Only when you are totally focused on the moment can you learn the lesson, receive the gift or experience the delight the moment has to offer.

Real moments are always moments when you have made an emotional connection between yourself and something or someone else.  It might be a connection between you and a loved one, or you and a stranger, or you and a tree you're leaning against or you and God.  They are moments in which the usual boundaries which appear to separate us from one another are penetrated, and in that connection, a kind of magic occurs.

We usually call this experience of melting boundaries "LOVE".  You and something else are flowing into one another.

You allow real moments to happen when you totally surrender into whatever you are experiencing, and let go of trying to be in control.  You are 100% engaged in what you are doing, whether it is taking a walk, making love, baking bread, or watching your children play.  You are fully embracing, rather than resisting, the experience of the moment.

It is impossible to have a real moment when you are trying to control or resist a situation or emotion.

Become fully conscious of what you are experiencing each moment.  Once you are conscious of it, break through the illusion of your separation and make a connection with the person, thing or feeling you've experienced.  

Design your life.  Work hard at creating the time to do what you love and pass up good for great.  You ultimately can't separate the principles of financial freedom from the condition of the society that you live in.  They are dependent on each other.  You can't choose to use the stock market if society loses its drive for progress.  You can't choose the housing market if the people choose to not have children and the population begins to shrink.  What you choose in order to experience freedom - whether that be freedom of time, choices or finances -must be a reflection of society.

For the first time, the current generation will not do better than their parents, in fact, they may do worse.  (Is this a result of the economy, or of parents trying to make it easy for their kids and not wanting them to suffer?  The kids learn to have dreams of having everything they want, immediately and with little or no work where their parents spent decades acquiring what they possess).

If a large segment of our population quit working so hard and took more time to relax and be at home, the economy would sag, but more people would be settling for less anyway, so that wouldn't matter (unless you are a raging capitalist whose business is dependent a rampant consumerism, then you might be forced to change).

We are what we perceive.

The home, which used to be a sanctuary of relative calm in the midst of our busy lives, has now, for many, become a domestic pit stop, the place we bathe, sleep, change our clothes, and grab some food before racing off to our next obligation.

With the use of satellites, television and computers, you and I receive more information in one day of our lives than our ancestors of several generations ago used to receive in 1000 days!  That means our brains have to process as much input in 24 hours as our brains used to process in 24,000 hours.  

The news is so overwhelming that there is no way we can absorb it, so we become numb.  Our boundaries have become so invaded that we can no longer ignore what is happening in other parts of the world, so we retreat into our own private universe.  Ten years ago there were just a few daytime talk shows, now there are dozens.  It appears that we would rather become obsessed with other people's lives than fully live our own.  In fact, we have gone so far as to become obsessed with reality TV rather than living our own lives.

By exposing us to so much human drama, technology has desensitized us both to our own pain and the pain of others.

Imagine a group of men in a room from which they cannot escape. Loud music blasts from dozens of speakers on the wall.  Numerous television sets flicker with broadcasts from different channels.  Lights constantly flash, and the room itself is vibrating.  After just a short time, most of the men will begin to display sever changes in mood and behavior. They will become increasingly depressed, fatigues, and anxious.  Soon after, they will start exhibiting signs of hostility and aggression.  And eventually, the men will become violent.  Nice guys will start screaming at one another, and even the most sensitive members of the group will get into physical fights.

What is happening here?  They are suffering from the effects of being over stimulated.

CONNECTING TO WHAT TRULY MAKES YOU HAPPY

We wait for happiness passively, as if it is something that will be bestowed on us at a particular time.  We wait for happiness as if it is a condition that may descend upon us, feeling happiness is out of our control, something that may or may not happen to us.

We view it as something out of our control, something that will happen to us or not.  When we go on vacation - we'll be happy.  When we get a raise - we'll be happy.  When we get married - we'll be happy.  If these things don't happen, we won't be happy.  Happiness becomes a condition of our experience and if our experience doesn't turn out the way we fantasize about it, we aren't happy.  When it does turn out the way we fantasize, our happiness doesn't last long because the experience can only last for a brief moment, we get used to anything.

Ask yourself these questions and think carefully about the answers:

  • What makes me happy?

  • How often do I experience moments of true happiness?

  • How do I know when I am happy?

The Truth About Happiness

At the end of our time on earth, if we have lived fully, we will not be able to say: "I was always happy."  Hopefully we will always be able to say: "I have experienced a lifetime of real moments and many of them were happy ones."

Happiness is not a fixed state we get to, like getting married or becoming a homeowner.  Happiness is a series of real moments that we experience.  These moments don't just happen to us - we need to create opportunities for them to occur.

If happiness is not a state of being, that means  we cannot always be happy!  For those brought up in the "we can have it all" years, this is very disappointing news.

Jim Rohn talks about life being like the seasons, for every summer there comes a fall and then winter and after every winter arrives spring and then summer again.  We cannot live in a perpetual summer and we need not dread that winter will never end.  Enjoy the summer, but prepare for the winter that is coming.  Remind yourself during the cold winter that it will not last, that spring will arrive and you will have another opportunity to become better prepared for the next time winter comes.

As North Americans, we live with the expectation that life can be continuous euphoria.  We misinterpret pain or sadness as a sign of personal or spiritual failure.  We believe that if we are truly living a good life, we could always be happy, and since we are not, we must be doing something wrong.

We feel our relationships should always be peaceful and happy we avoid confronting problems or even admitting that we're unhappy until we blow up or become disillusioned.  

The truth is, if we want to find peace and live with authenticity, we must face - pain, sadness, unpleasantness as an integral part of life that will occur from time to time.  We cannot always be happy.

"There are as many nights as days, and the one is just as long as the other in the year's course.  Even a happy life cannot be without a measure of darkness, and the word 'happy' would lose it's meaning if it were not balanced by sadness."  

Carl Jung

We avoid real moments by being too busy or distracted to pay attention.

We frequently do two or three things at once.  We're talking on the phone, paying bills and watching TV, all at the same time.  How can you possibly have a real moment of true connection and meaning with your friend?

Sometimes we avoid real moments because we are afraid of them.

Real moments can be very confrontational.  When you stop doing too much and take time to have real moments by paying attention, you will, undoubtedly, come face-to-face with emotions, revelations, or realities you weren't aware of.

 

Symptoms of Not Having Enough Real Moments

The same way your body gets a craving for something when you haven't eaten in a while, we develop unhealthy cravings and behaviors in an attempt to fill up our spiritual and emotional emptiness in other ways.

  • You constantly need to be doing something - you become a workaholic or volunteer for more activities than you can truly do well with joy and without stress.  You aren't able to say no to anything or anyone.  People who do too much get very nervous when they aren't focused on doing something.  They are uncomfortable with a void and feel the need to fill it as quickly as possible.

    The only way to break the cycle is to stop always doing, and create opportunities for real moments to occur.  Leave room in your life for real moments by having times when you're not doing anything.  Take a step back to enjoy watching the world around you.   

  • You have an addiction - We have a real double standard about which "habits" we call serious addictions.  We may criticize someone for using drugs to medicate their problems, while we use food, entertainment or work to distract from ours.

    Whether it's full blown alcoholism or watching TV ten hours a day, regular use of addictive substances, or regular indulgence in addictive behavior robs you of your ability to fully feel.  Do whatever it takes to get whatever help you need to stop, and try getting high on truly living.   

  • You are cynical, pessimistic, and sarcastic - Cynicism is  a cover-up for pain, an expression of angry hopelessness that the world is the way it is.  Cynics are often frustrated believers who feel deep disappointment in people and in life itself.  Think of someone you know who appears to have a negative or pessimistic attitude.  When you look into their eyes, you will see a wounded spirit.

  • You live your life through others - If your greatest joy in the past few years has been the success and happiness of your children, grandchildren or your mate, you are not having enough real moments of your own.  You are living your life through someone else.  I'm not talking about feeling happy with and proud of those you love.  I'm talking about making other people the center of your life, and not having one of your own.   

  • You are judgmental - You can't be judgmental and have a real moment at the same time.

    Whether it's full blown alcoholism or watching TV ten hours a day, regular use of addictive substances, or regular indulgence in addictive behavior robs you of your ability to fully feel.  Do whatever it takes to get whatever help you need to stop, and try getting high on truly living.   

 

Giving Birth to Your Self

What are we looking for?  We are searching for the pieces of ourselves that we've lost, and without them, it is difficult to experience real moments.

What happened to these pieces?

  • Some of them were taken away by our parents or caregivers, in an attempt to turn us into what they thought we should be.

  • Some of them we've given away to others in an attempt to be accepted or loved.

  • Some of them we've hidden away, frightened of what others might think if they knew our secret selves.

  • And some of them we've simply forgotten about because we've been trying so hard to be something other than who we really are.

What we have been calling a mid-life crisis is really a spiritual crisis. If, by the time we reach an age at which we expected to feel content, whether it's thirty, forty, or beyond, we are not living with purpose, meaning and many real moments, we will find ourselves dissatisfied and unfulfilled.  One day, we wake up and see who we've become, and we don't like what we see.  All of our hard work, all of our efforts have not given us the happiness and peace of mind we thought they would.  The values and priorities we believed in have led us to an empty fulfillment.  "Is this all there is?" we ask ourselves.  This condition has been misinterpreted as everything from a fear of death, a yearning to be young again, or boredom with routine and predictability.  But it is none of these.  It is a state of spiritual panic.

What allows us to psychologically survive life on earth, with all of its pain, drama, and challenges is a sense of purpose and meaning.

Purpose means that there is a reason for you to be here, that you have something to do that matters, that your existence is significant.  

"The best way out is always through."  Robert Frost

 

How did we lose our way?

From the moment we were born, we collect other people's values and beliefs.  You watched, listened and learned.  It starts with our parents - we learn to express or not express feelings, how to deal with conflict, how to treat those that are different for you, and the list goes on.  

Most of us don't consciously choose to think, behave, love, walk, talk, or eat like our parents.  It just happens.   

 

How We Abandoned Our Dreams

We are brought up to fit in rather than find out who we are.  And those who are different and do not fit in are made to suffer and feel like failures.

We adopted our parents' or social groups hopes, dreams and expectations, leaving little or no room for our own.  We do what our parents did, live where our parents lived, got married because it was expected etc.

As long as you have not reexamined your belief systems, and discarded the portions you never actually choose as an adult, you will never fully grow up.

Each time you gave up a dream, a belief, a desire, or a habit because it wouldn't be approved of, or you wouldn't fit in, or it wasn't what was expected, or it just wasn't done, or because of what your neighbors or your mother or your relatives would think - you gave away a piece of yourself.

When you compromise your dreams and your values for someone else's, you give your power away.  The more you have sacrificed your authenticity, the more disempowered you will feel.

On the road back to yourself, the first stop is integrity.  Living with integrity means that who you appear to be is who you really are.  Your beliefs, your values, your commitments - are all reflected in how you live your life on the outside.  The more you live as who you truly are, the more peace you will invite into your life.

  • Don't settle for less than what you know you deserve in your relationships.

  • Ask for what you want and need from others.

  • Speak the truth in love, even though it might create conflict or tension.

  • Behave in ways that are in harmony with your personal values

  • Make choices based on what you believe and not what others believe.

Living without integrity takes a lot of energy.  It is intellectually and emotionally exhausting, because who you are on the inside and how you behave on the outside are not congruent with one another.

It may involve a complete change in life - quitting your job, moving, changing who stays at home with the kids etc.  One man, formerly in sales talks about his experience:

"My son was in an accident when I was out on the road.  I realized he could have died and I wouldn't have been there to do a thing.  That's when I quit my job and bought a cab.  A real glamorous promotion, right!! Hey, but you know what?  The last ten years have been the best of my life.  I got to see my kids grow up, my wife and I got our marriage going again.  Now she's my best friend, and I sure as heck wouldn't have said that ten years ago.  And we saved up enough to buy a little cottage on a lake upstate.  It's not much, but every Friday we drive up and spend the weekend.  I'll tell you, when I'm sitting on my porch looking out at the trees and the water, I feel terrific!"

 

To be happy you have to say "No" to things.

We tend to live by a different ideal, one that says, "To be successful, you have to say "Yes" to things."

We say "yes" to the projects that come our way, "yes" to helping every time our children, spouse or family ask, "yes" whenever a friend needs advice and "yes" when the boss or job seems to demand it.  It doesn't matter if it is something that is important to us or not, we do it.

 

Saying "No" is not easy.

Saying "no" can mean cutting ties you've had for a long time to people, places, things and ideas.  It can mean making decisions that others do not approve of.  It can mean letting go of old values and identities before you've quite developed the new ones, and being in a state of emotional limbo for a while - you know you aren't who you used to be, but you aren't quite sure who you are becoming.

But hidden within every "no" is a "yes".  When you say "no" to doing something that does not feel right anymore, you are saying "yes" to strengthening your own integrity.  When you say "no" to remaining friends with people who do not support your growth or new direction, you are saying "yes" to the new friends who will soon be arriving in your life.  When you say "no" to selling out your principles and ideals in order to get ahead in business, you are saying "yes" to a new level of self-respect.  When you say "no" to not being treated as you deserve to be in a relationship, you are saying "yes" to loving and protecting yourself.

 

Why not just keep quiet?  Because by not speaking up against what you know is wrong or things you really don't want to do, you become one of them.

Just because you take a new direction does not mean the old way was the wrong way.  Just because you take on new values does not mean the old values were corrupt.  We must learn to say "no" without having to make what we are leaving behind wrong, or making ourselves wrong for having not left sooner.

Leaving without judgment is especially difficult to do when, in order to grow, you must say "no" to people or activities for which you feel a lot of love.  Nothing has to be wrong with what you've been doing for you to make changes in your life.  It can just be the right time.

Reinventing your life doesn't necessarily mean that you have to quit your job, or get a divorce, or sell everything and move to the country.

 

Who Am I

  1. In which areas have I inherited behaviors and attitudes similar to those of my family members that are keeping me from being authentically my own person?  (Communication, expressing love and affection, health habits, work ethic, political and spiritual beliefs, etc.)

  2. How did my family treat or judge people who are different from them?  How do I treat people who are different from me?  Am I comfortable with being different?

  3. Which of my own dreams or beliefs have I sacrificed, diminished, or put aside in order to fulfill the expectations of others?

  4. What parts of myself, both in the past and the present, have I hidden from others for fear they would disapprove of me?  What parts to I bury even from myself?

  5. In what ways have I tried to fit in that have resulted in my compromising my values or editing myself, both now and in the past?

 

Real Moments and Work

"How many cares one loses when one decides not to be something, but someone."

COCO CHANEL

Why do so many of us ignore our calling and refuse to take up our true Purpose? Because we make the mistake of thinking that we have to earn money doing something for it to be worth our time and energy (and we believe that work must be hard and at least somewhat unpleasant for us to deserve to be paid for it).  

Receiving money for what you do is not a validation that you are living your Purpose - receiving joy and contentment is.

When someone asks, "What do you do?", let them know, but then reply, "...but that's just my job.  My fulfillment comes from (mentoring, helping others, teaching, painting, etc).

WHAT you do isn't as important as HOW you do it.  Your job doesn't have to be an activity where you can fully express your true calling, but it should not be an activity that goes against your work.  When you have a job where you must compromise your values, hide your true self, or participate in actions which are out of integrity, then your job is a place your spirit dies eight hours a day.  No matter how much money it pays, no job is a good job if it isn't good for you.

If your job isn't good for you, get a new one.  In the end, the price you'll pay staying in a situation where you are cut off from yourself and your own integrity will be much higher than what you will temporarily lose by leaving.  

When you don't know your Purpose, you may resent your Job.  Once you understand your Purpose, things that once seemed mundane can begin to bring you joy as you understand how they relate to what you are meant to do.  When you mistake your job for your purpose by taking it too seriously, you can get really messed up.  You will work too hard, and have a difficult time saying "no" to anything.

You spend at least half your life at work.  That's a lot of time to spend doing something unless it makes you happy.  It's exhausting to do something you are not fully enjoying, especially when you know you will have to do it all over again.

All of us are here with work to do, but our work has nothing to do with our job.  Doing your job cannot bring you real moments, but doing your Work can.  

Each of us has a calling, something unique to contribute to the world, something valuable to share with the people we love and live with.  This is not just for the teachers and preachers of the world, but for everyone.  Look at what you love to do.  Look at what brings you joy.  Look at what brings you peace.

Maybe your uniqueness lies in your ability to express yourself well with words, or to have a calming effect on others, or to make people laugh.  Maybe your gift is your voice, your strong hands, your eye for beauty or your talent for seeing the best in people.

You know you have a hungry spirit when you sit in front of the television at the end of the day, clicking from one channel to another, or when you open your refrigerator and stare blankly at what's on the shelves, or when you go directly from work to the bar down the street to have a drink and "unwind".

It is hard to come home and share love or embrace your spouse when your spirit is hungry.  

A CAUTION:

Teachers, helpers, doctors and leaders are tempted to believe that they are among the lucky few whose job and Calling are one - none of this weekend Purpose stuff for them.  They live their purpose through their job.  This can lead to them feeling like the world rests on their shoulders and that they need to always be available to share their gifts.  They can begin to develop a "God complex".  When the world needs saving, they don't feel they can take time off and become a workaholic.  

Make a list of activities, behaviors and attitudes that help you live your Purpose.  Post them on your desk, in your car or wherever you will read them often.

 

CRISIS

The challenges and difficulties we experience illuminate our most needed lessons.  You can't be brave if you've only had wonderful things happen to you.  What contributes the most to having knowledge about life?  PAINFUL EXPERIENCE!  We don't develop courage by being happy every day.  We develop it by surviving difficult times and challenging adversity.  

It's in fully feeling whatever is happening to you right then that you experience a real moment.  Crisis forces you to pay attention to your life.  You create real moments in difficult times by surrendering to your pain, rather than resisting it.  Difficult times always create opportunities for you to experience more love in your life.

Because technology has made life easier, we not longer need to rely on others.  We are free to be alone.  Disaster and tragedy remind us that we can't do it alone.  Challenge and adversity are opportunities for us to ask for help.  It's our choice to retreat to individuality afterwards or to remain connected.  It is only in connection that we can fulfill our purpose "to need and to be needed".  That is how we fulfill the needs of our spirit.

MARRIAGE

Marriage is not a noun, it's a verb.  It isn't something you GET, it's something you DO.

Most people look at a relationship like a possession - "I have a car; I have a job; I have a relationship."  The relationship becomes something to get, and once that goal has been obtained, they don't put much time or energy into it.

Marriage is a behavior - it is how you love and honor your partner every day.  You aren't married because the county or your family thinks you are.  The real act of marriage takes place in the heart, not in the chapel.  It is a choice you make, not just on your wedding day, but over and over again, and that choice is reflected in the way you treat your spouse.

Loving is the only way to get good at loving.  If you didn't grow up in a loving home, you've got a lot of catching up to do.  Get Loving!

Love

Happiness is a choice, so is love.  You don not wait to be seized by an overwhelming feeling of love.  You choose to love, to express it, to chare it, to chow it.  

Creating Real Moments In Your Relationship

The greatest gift you and your partner can give your children is the example of an intimate, healthy, and loving relationship.

Real moments will not chase you down as you race busily through your life.  You must invite them into your relationship by setting aside time and space in which they can occur.  Pay Attention - Show Affection - Express Appreciation.

  • Set your alarm clock to go off ten minutes earlier so you can cuddle in be

  • Meet for a picnic lunch in a park

  • Take a silent walk holding hands

  • Go for a long drive to nowhere

  • Sit together on the couch by candlelight

  • Ask your partner every morning, "What's the most important thing I can do for you today?"

Many couples insulate themselves from the intimacy of real moments by always having other people around - their children, their relatives, their friends.  They rarely go out together alone.  They use the excuse of being there for the kids to avoid each other.  And when they do take a vacation, it is always with one or two other couples.  Does this sound familiar to you?  If it does, you may wake up one day, look at your partner and see the face of a stranger.

You need to be selfish in order to have real moments together.  Do whatever it takes to find the time.  Don't worry about neglecting your children or your friends.  They will feel your renewed love and rejoice in it.

 

Women & Real Moments

Women have had more access to real moments simply because of how their roles are structured.  They have spent more time at home, more quiet moments, turning inward instead of deriving satisfaction from things on the outside.  In the past century, women have gained the freedom to live as equals with men, but in the process they have lost many of the things that help them connect to what is real.  The challenge for women is to find a balance between achieving a sense of accomplishment out in the world while maintaining a connection to the real moments in their lives.

The problem is that when we make pleasing others a priority, we often do it at the price of neglecting to please ourselves.  By being so self-sacrificing, we deprive ourselves of the time and opportunity to have the very real moments we seek and are so good at savoring.  We become disconnected from the core of who we are.

Women need real moments of solitude and self-reflection to balance out how much of ourselves we give away.  For women, taking the time for real moments is a matter of psychological and spiritual survival.  If we do not, we will be sucked dry by everyone and everything that needs us.

The problem is, women aren't good at this - at being selfish.  It makes them feel guilty.  They suspect they are abandoning everyone, their husband, their kids, their co-workers, their friends.  They feel the need to apologize when they take time for themselves, whether it's going off for a day alone, closing the door and reading for two hours, or bringing home take-out rather than cooking a full meal.

Men are entities unto themselves.  They know where their edges are, where they end and the world begins.  But the boundaries between women and the world around them are not solid - they are permeable.  Their edges are blurred, and through those edges their spirit leaks out.  They are in a constant process of give and take with what is outside of them.

Women's bodies are not even their own.  Each month it belongs to the moon.  When they are pregnant, it belongs to their child.  After they give birth, their milk belongs to their child.  In relationships they have been designed to be the receiver of their lover.  They even feel their feelings belong to others.

Most women have spent their lives giving away pieces of themselves - a piece to their lover, a piece to each child, pieces to friends, parents, in-laws, bosses, employees, committees and just about anyone else who asks, and even those who don't.

Wholeness as a women is about taking back the parts of yourself you gave away.  If you think other people took your power from you, you can never get it back, because you never relinquished it.  When you see that you gave your power away, then you can begin the process of retrieving it.

Every woman has her price - she is seduced into betraying herself by different temptations.  For some it is the need to belong, the need to feel loved, the need for security.  Women may stay with husbands they don't love because they're "comfortable" and don't want to give up their lifestyle.  They are willing to live passionless, dishonest lives so they can still drive their nice car and keep their big house.

On the other hand, there are women who never stop running.  The truth is, it is not escape they are looking for, it is freedom.  What they want is to run...not run away.

 

Here are some ways that women can create real moments for themselves:

Seek Solitude

Women need quiet times when the only voice they hear is their own.  Women are so used to making everyone else's voice more important than theirs.  This is a habit most have, especially if they grew up thinking that God is male.

Give Birth To Something

Birthing moments are undeniably real.  It doesn't matter what you give birth to - a garden, a cake, an innovative idea at work, a bedtime story for your children, a letter to a friend etc.

 

Men and Real Moments

Real moments are about being, they are not about doing.  And men are doers.  

It is not easy for meant to have real moments and they are suffering greatly because of it.  The women who love them are suffering.  Their children are suffering.  The world is suffering.

The truth is that men are dying because they don't have enough real moments - they are dying emotionally because they deprive themselves of the love and intimacy they need; they are dying physically because, in their hunger for accomplishment, their lives are often so out of balance that they don't know when to stop and rest, sot their bodies just give out; and they are dying spiritually because they aren't sure how to turn within and begin their journey toward real moments.

If you are a woman who loves a man, you may have suspected something is missing.  There is a place inside of him that he rarely goes to, the place of just being.  This is the place where you long to meet him.  You arrive.  You wait.  He doesn't show up.

If I'm a man and I work two extra hours and get overtime pay, that's a benefit I can put in my pocket - that's meaningful.  But if I spend those same two hours talking with my wife, or walking by myself, where's the benefit?  I can't measure it, and so it doesn't appear to hold as much meaning and value for me as working overtime did.

These different values create conflict between men and women.  If you mention to your husband that you'd like to spend some time talking with him, he responds, "About what?".  Then you feel annoyed, he gets upset and suddenly the last thing you want to do is talk with him, you just want to fight.

 

Women like asking questions.  Men like having answers.

To ask a questions implies that one doesn't know the answer.  Women tend not to be afraid of, "I don't know".  You will find more women involved in personal growth and buying self-help books because they are comfortable, even stimulated by asking questions - and aren't in so big a hurry to get to the answers.

To men, knowing is a form of doing, a show of mental strength.  Men don't ant to admit that they don't have an answer clear in their mind, so they stall, avoid responding, or, if you are insistent, try scaring you off with anger.

Women simply want men to take the journey of discovery together.  In spite of all your conditioning that screams: But if I let go, I won't be a man," know that, in your woman's eyes, you will be her most honored champion and her most brave hero.

The price you have paid for your manhood, what has been required of you to "be a man" has also required you to numb yourself to feeling.

"Tears let us know the ice around our heart is melting."

When a man trusts a woman enough to show her his pain, and allows her to hold and comfort him while he navigates through it, she is overwhelmed that he has let her in.  There is no greater intimacy.

Men are lonely, not because they lack companionship, but because of their inability to experience real moments together.  This is not an obvious loneliness - it is more like a deep sense of isolation.  Men share the unimportant things but keep their dreams and secrets carefully hidden from each other.

It is not uncommon for "best" buddies to not even know that their friend is unhappy in his marriage, worried about an aging parent, has a sexual problem, or is months behind on paying his bills.  They just don't talk about this stuff.

A recent McGill report on male intimacy found the following:

  • Only one out of ten men has a male friend with whom he discusses work, money, or his relationship.

  • Only one out of more than twenty men has a male friend with whom he discusses his feelings about himself, sex, and other more intimate topics.

What this means is that most men never talk about anything truly important or personal with other men in their life.  They never experience real moments with someone of their own sex.

There is a certain comfort level men exhibit when they are in a group that disappears the moment they are alone with just one other man because the dynamic between two people demands intimacy.  If you think about how frightening intimacy with a woman is for a man, you can begin to imagine how panicked he feels when faced with the prospect of being intimate with another man.

The fear most men have of experiencing intimacy with other men makes male friendship awkward.

Men tend to associate intimacy with sexuality.  When intimacy is shared with another man, he easily confuses it with sexuality and becomes worried that he is having feelings of homosexuality.  It is misinterpreting a powerful feeling of love for sexual attraction, so most men don't let themselves get this far in sharing intimacy with one another.  Men have superficial relationships with other men in order to protect themselves from these feelings.

Women too, have a tolerance level for feelings of love with a girlfriend before they get uncomfortable, but it's way past where most men would have already run out the door screaming.

A word to men who love women: This is what your lover wishes she could say to you:

"Do you want to know the secret for making me truly happy?  Share real moments with me.  That is what I am hungry for.  That is what I have been trying to tell you.  The sudden embrace after dinner, the kiss in the bathroom for no reason at all, the call from work just to say 'I love you,' the moment during love-making when you hug me tight as if to say 'Yes, I am here with you, right now, the only place in the world I wish to be' - this is what I need."

"When I seem angry or melancholy or anxious, it is not because I need a vacation, or because my hormones are acting up - it is because I cannot find you.  I'm reaching out to you, but your hand does not reach back to grasp mine.  I'm calling to you in my heart, but my plea is greeted only by your silence.  Where have you gone?  I miss you, not your body, or your conversation, but your precious spirit."

"This is what I want from you - to meet me at the place where love resonates in your heart.  For just one moment, feel how much you love me, feel it until you want to burst, and right then, gently take my face in your hands, look into my eyes, and drown me with your love."

 

Real Moments and Families

"Nothing has a stronger influence psychologically on their child's environment, than the unlived life of the parents."

-C.G. Jung

Children are powerful seeds that grow up into gardens.  What we plant in the mind and heart of a child will one day affect many other people.  Children are hope - they are our opportunity to break free from the cycle and make a better future.

What your children become will ultimately reflect back on you.  You will always be one of the most powerful influences in their lives.  Instinctively, you know this, and so you try to give your children all the things you never had, and to take care of them in every way possible. But in your sincere efforts, you may have forgotten one crucial truth:

You cannot be a good parent if you don't take good care of yourself.

When you neglect yourself for the sake of your children, you are not doing them any favors.  If you are living for or through your children, and ignoring your own needs, all you are teaching them is how to sacrifice who they are in order to make someone else happy.

I can promise you that your kids will never grow up and say, "Mom, Dad, I am so grateful that you totally sacrificed your own happiness, intimate relationship, and growth as a human being so I would never hear the word 'No.'  I'm glad you were miserable so that I could have everything I wanted.  Thank you for not fully living your lives.  I plan to follow in your footsteps and give up all the fun and personal satisfaction in my life when I have children."

Children learn from watching you life.  If you take time to connect with life, they will learn to do the same.

Love, not things or vacations, makes children feel worthwhile.

Children are on loan from God.  Pay attention to who has been sent to you for care taking.

"Children are very ancient souls in tiny bodies."

With this perspective, do you really have the right to force them to conform, or are you simply here to try to teach and guide them?

When you give your children material things as replacements for love, you teach them that it is objects, not love, which will bring them happiness.

Your children crave real moments with you.  They want intimacy.  They want your time and your complete attention.  When you pay full attention to a child, they feel important, as if who they are and what they have to say has value.  Ten minutes spent giving a child undivided attention and love is worth ten hours of dragging them around from one attraction to another, but not really paying attention to the person inside of them at all.

The high divorce rate has bred a population of "Disneyland Dads," weekend fathers who attempt to fit two weeks of loving and recreation into the two days they have with their children once or twice a month.  -- They secretly hate those guilt gifts, those fantastic visits that are supposed to make up for the fact that you aren't there to tuck them in at night, that you made Mommy cry, that your family is forever broken.  

They hate that proud look in your eyes when you thrust those games and dolls and dresses upon them, waiting for them to make a big deal over this latest offering, as if you really think they're too little to know they're being bought.  They feel contempt for you when, at the end of the day, you sigh with relief after feeding and entertaining them like a favorite pet, so satisfied with yourself that you were a good dad, and that everything's ok.

And as you walk to the car and wave good-bye, they want to scream at the top of their tiny lungs: "IT'S NOT OK!!  THOSE STUPID TOYS AND TREATS DON'T MAKE IT OK!!  WHY DON'T YOU REALLY TALK TO ME?  WHY DON'T YOU NOTICE HOW MISERABLE I AM?  WHY DON'T YOU JUST HOLD ME AND TELL ME HOW MUCH YOU LOVE ME?"

That is what your children want you to know, whether they are five or fifty with children of their own, whether you as their parents divorced or stayed together:  Al we have ever wanted, and all we want now, is real moments with you, when you see us, accept us, and love us.  That's all.

Children and Real Moments

You have as much to learn from children as you have to teach them.  Children naturally know how to have real moments.  They live in the timelessness of the present.

If you need to experience more real moments in your life, ask a child to take you on a tour of his or her world.  Follow in their footsteps for a few hours, or a day, do whatever they are doing, play at whatever they are playing and you will remember how to see the world through a child's eyes. If you pay close attention, you will notice that children are constantly inviting you to enter their magical world, but you're refusing the invitation.  They are offer you a precious gift - the opportunity to have some real moments.

By always asking our children to explain the purpose of what they're doing, we are teaching them that their value is in doing, not in being.

Many of our problems as adults stem from our distorted system of values that emphasizes what we accomplish, rather than who we are, as a measure of self-worth.  We need to support children to break this cycle, and remind them that it is who they are as a person, and not what they achieve, that makes them special.  Unfortunately, we cannot rely on our present educational system, which is purely goal-oriented , to teach this to our kids.  It is up to us to tell our children, through our words and our behavior, that we love and admire them not because of what they do or do not achieve, but for the pure goodness we see shining from their hearts.

Creating Real Moments With and For Your Children

Allow them to fully feel their emotions.

Children intuitively know how to release what they're feeling:  They cry, wail, have tantrums and half an hour later are smiling and forget what was happening.  We try to get them to suppress their emotions.  By doing this, we pull them out of the moments and feelings they are truly experiencing.

Let your children feel their feelings.  Help them find words for what is going on inside them.  Let them know that you validate their feelings, and of course, do the same in your own life.

 

Real Moments With Yourself

The path to spiritual enlightenment is not found by spending a year alone in meditation, it is found by contributing to someone who has a need you can fulfill: a child, a friend, a spouse, a neighbor, the sick, the poor, an injured animal, the environment etc.

You don't have to leave your home or your country to find God or spiritual enlightenment.  The opportunity to connect with what is spirit is everywhere around you.

Look at children all over the world - if they have just enough to eat and stay warm and have a little love in their lives, they live with spirit and joy by experiencing the real moments they live in each and every day.

"We are not human beings having a spiritual experience.  We are spiritual beings having a human experience."                             -Ram Das

Spirituality is not the way to escape the reality of this life.  The reality of this life is how learn to experience spirituality.  Spirituality is about our connection to more than ourselves.  The reality of life teaches us that we can't do it alone and that others can't do it without our help.  It is the very things that most people are seeking to avoid that are the lessons designed to help us connect with the fact that we are all connected and our purpose is to find our place in that connection.

People have come to believe that God is outside of them and that some people or places are better able than others to make the connection with God.  We have placed God in a heaven separate from where we live and our lives have become ordinary because we are convinced that we are disconnected from what is divine.

What is spiritual has become associated with church on Sunday, or meditation, or pilgrimages.  We think of praying as more spiritual than enjoying nature or making love.  We live secularized lives and then wonder why life feels meaningless and devoid of purpose.

When we separate the spiritual from the everyday, we limit our opportunities for real moments.  We miss ordinary miracles and wonders because we are looking for something flash, something that screams "I am special, I am holy."  We are so distracted by our search for the extraordinary that we don't recognize the sacred when we encounter it.

Holiness really is wholeness, and holy people are people in touch with their wholeness and the intrinsic connection that everything has to everything.  You don't have to look hard to see how everything is connected - all you need to do is pay attention:

  • The hug your child give you for no reason at all.

  • Your sudden awareness of something beautiful in nature.

  • The help of a stranger.

  • A song in the radio that gives you just the message you needed.

One can best serve God by doing whatever they are doing in the moment.  Real moments with yourself do not occur when you do anything special or out of the ordinary, but when you do little things in an extraordinary way.  

You don't serve God by going to church or by praying.  That's what you do for you.  You serve God by fully expressing the potential you've been given in each moment of every situation and focusing on what you have to offer rather than what the situation has to offer you.

Happiness is a choice.

It takes about two weeks we become accustomed to whatever is new and we thought was exciting - but many people never let go of a change that occurs in the opposite direction.  People in prison, dying, sick or worse have been able to be happy despite their circumstances.  It is because they CHOOSE to be.  We lose our ability to experience happiness and joy by taking what we have forgranted, by assuming we deserve things like our health, our family, our job etc.  

Meditation

Meditation is simply being completely present in the moment without allowing yourself to be distracted by other thoughts.  It is not a process of emptying your mind completely, rather it is a process of clearing your mind of the "clutter" so you can become aware of the real moment again.

Meditate by:

  • Literally taking time to stop and smell the roses.

  • Listening to music.

  • Stopping to appreciate the beauty of a lake or the sunset.

  • Work with your hands.

  • Share something with someone in need

  • Make love and be aware of the deep connection between you and your partner.

  • Spend time completely focused on another individual - your child, your spouse, your friend etc.

Silence allows us to pay attention to everything, to watch the flow of mental garbage that goes through our minds.  Silence helps us see clearly, sometimes for the first time, exactly what is out of balance in our life.  It's taking time to stand back far enough to check and see if the ladder we're attempting to climb at such a furious pace is leaning up against the right wall.

We live in a time when technology has taken our silence and solitude from us.  It is increasingly difficult to find a truly quiet place.  Even mountain stillness or desert tranquility is disturbed by the roar of planes overhead.

Silence is not the same as prayer.  Prayer is a way of directing your feelings and thoughts, focusing them and sending them toward a source.  Silence is listening, receiving, being.  One is reaching out, the other is allowing yourself to receive what is coming back.  In prayer you are the sender, in silence you are the receiver.

 

When you live with constant gratitude, your life will have become a living prayer.  We often think of prayer as an asking, a plea to a higher power for a favor or blessing.  And there is a time and place when we need to request guidance and strength, but the word pray really means "to praise".

When you live with constant gratitude, your life will have become a living prayer.  We often think of prayer as an asking, a plea to a higher power for a favor or blessing.  And there is a time and place when we need to request guidance and strength, but the word pray really means "to praise".

Give thanks to God for the blessings you have been given, stop taking things forgranted.

An Attitude of Gratitude

Give thanks for the work that has been provided for you, for the food, your health, your comforts and the technology that makes your life so easy.  Be aware of your connection to all things and don't take what you have forgranted.

Praise God by living your life full of purpose, fulfill your potential and share the gifts you've been given with others.

Learning to be silent

  • Drive with your radio turned off.

  • Sit in silence by the fire or candlelight.

  • Take a silent walk by yourself - or someone you love.

Love is what makes a space sacred and moments meaningful.

 

Rituals and real moments

When our live is devoid of ritual, we rush through it.  We don't stop to reflect on the meaning of the events that are happening to us.  We find it hard to remember our purpose in the bigger scheme of things.  We forget who we are, we lose our way.

In North America, rituals have taken on materialistic values:  Birthdays, Christmas and anniversaries have become about gifts, eating and drinking too much instead of celebrating love and renewal.  Weddings have become lavish parties instead of a ceremony consecrating the union of two heats.  Even death doesn't escape, having becoming an experience where we spend as much as possible to show how much we loves someone.

Why do we wait until after someone has passed away to show how much we love them?  Why don't we tell them today, every moment that we feel it?  (It's because when we extend our self, we open our self up to be rejected when they don't reciprocate in kind.)

  • Rituals give rhythm to life.  They offer predictable intervals in which to pause and reconnect in an unpredictable world.  They stop and demand that you pay attention to the place where you are, the emotions you are feeling and the moment you are in.  (Some choose rather to pass through life's significant moments by getting so intoxicated that all they are left with is a hangover.  This too is a ceremony, but one that is based on becoming unconscious).

  • Rituals are for celebrating rebirth, for marking passage from one stage of life to another.

  • Rituals are for healing and renewal.  They can be used to purify and strengthen your connection to God, your partner, your work, and yourself.  You can create a renewal ritual when you feel the need for new clarity and strength, when you need guidance and direction, or when you and someone you love want to go to a deeper level of intimacy together, but feel there are some things in the way.

What makes a moment into a ritual?  It is your decision to give meaning to what you are doing.

I knew when we got married that I wanted it to be more than something people observed.  I wanted it to be a ritual about people supporting our union and pledging to keep us accountable to our vows.

How many people do you have in your life that you could count on to do this for you?  If those were the people in attendance at your wedding, who would be there?

Acts of Kindness and Gratitude

Acts of kindness create instant real moments.

Each day you are presented with thousands of opportunities to do so.  A car will be waiting to be let into your lane; a person will be running to catch the elevator you're standing in; someone will drop something and need help picking it up.  You have children who need to be told they are special, a mate who needs to be told they are loved, friends who could use a one-minute phone call just to say you treasure them, dogs and cats who crave a hug, scratch and a kiss, and hundreds of stranger to whom a smile would mean they are not invisible.

(Story about the thirsty dog on our vacation to BC)

Never underestimate the healing power of everyday kindness.  One loving word can lift a person out of the depths of despair and offer them hope; one smile can help them believe that they matter; one caring action can even save their life.  Love is never wasted.  That person will always have that experience of you loving them and will take it with them the rest of their life.

Love and kindness are never wasted. They always make a difference.  They bless the one who receives them and they bless you, the giver.

www.barbara-deangelis.com 

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