Tuesday, 12 June 2007

Will You Accept My Gift?

A gift can be many things. It can be a physical item, such as a book, a cd, a beautiful picture or a golden ring. It can be an event, such as a balloon ride, a surprise party, a night at the movies or a home cooked meal. Or it can be something less tangible, like a compliment, a hug, shared knowledge or a smile.

But have you ever thought about what a gift really is?

True gifts come from the heart. True gifts are love.

When a person is gifting you with something, regardless of what it is, what they are really doing is giving you love. How you treat gifts is a perfect reflection of how you treat love.

When someone offers to buy you a meal do you accept it gratefully?
Or do you reject it and say, "You don't have to do that"?
Of course they don't have to. They want to.
Gifts, and love, don't come from having to — they can only be given freely from the heart.
When someone smiles and laughs do you smile back and join in the laughter?
Or do you frown and start thinking of all the reasons they could be making fun of you?
We are only ever inadequate in our own eyes.
Joy and laughter want to share and include, never mock and ostracise.
When someone gives you a compliment do you smile and say, "Thank you!"?
Or do you become uncomfortable and reply, "No I'm not. You're just saying that to be nice"?
Er, that's right they are... because to them, it is true!
A compliment is a great way to see yourself with another's eyes, and a fantastic opportunity to change your self-perception.
When you receive a present unexpectedly do you clap your hands with delight and express heartfelt thanks?
Or do you view it with suspicion, wondering about an ulterior motive, and let it go by unacknowledged and unappreciated?
If there's a string attached then it's not a gift.
Gifts do not have motives. They do not expect something in return.
All a gift ever wants is to be accepted.
Have you ever rejected a gift because you felt like it "wouldn't be right"?

Have you ever rejected a gift because you didn't think you had anything to give in return?

Have you ever said, "But I can't take that from you," because you believed that in accepting it you were being selfish and were in some way diminishing the other person?

The truth about gifts, the true wonder and beauty of them, is that just by accepting them you are automatically giving back.

Remember well that:

In accepting a gift you are accepting love for yourself
AND giving love back to the giver.

The paradox of the gift is that the only way we ever take something away from the giver is by not accepting it. And of course we're taking away from ourselves at the same time.

You know the old saying "It's the thought that counts"? That really means, "It's the love that counts." Sure, other aspects of the gift can be valuable too, but it's the love that truly makes it precious.

A gift is love.

We all want to feel loved.

When you look you'll realise that we're all being gifted love many, many times every single day.

The question to ask yourself is, "Am I accepting it?"

Tuesday, 29 May 2007

The "Blind" Man

A man came home one night to find his home burgled. The thieves had taken only a single item; one of his most precious, life-long possessions. He became so distraught he squeezed his eyes shut to escape the sight of the empty place where it once resided. He thought that if he avoided looking at the emptiness he would be able to hold on to the item and avoid the pain of its loss.

Months went by and still the man kept his eyes shut. The outside world was much too dangerous so he mostly confined himself to his house now. These days he felt more accustomed to the darkness, though he still bumped into things now and then. He just took that as par for the course; sometimes you had to suffer a little to avoid suffering a lot.

His closest friends often tried to coax him into opening his eyes, but the memory of finding his cherished item gone still remained so vivid and painful that he never gave in, regardless of how reasonable their requests sounded. With time he started to suspect that his friends made such painful suggestions because they actually disliked him, so he stopped asking them to come over.

Years went by and the man felt totally comfortable in his self-created darkness. He didn't feel so miserable without his friends telling him about all the things he missed out on. True, an emptiness grew in him day by day, to the point where he almost felt tempted to have a quick peak. But the fear of letting go of his precious possession grew steadily over the years, even while the memory of it faded, so he never gave in.

Then one day as he walked through his lounge room something hit him squarely in the chest and knocked him to the floor. Then came a blow to the side of his head. Then another. Then another. His only thought was that the thieves were back to finish him off. Fear for his life grew stronger than the fear of his loss, and so after many years of darkness he opened his eyes.

He blinked in confusion as he saw standing over him those people he once called friends. In complete misery he could only ask, "Why?"

"So you would see."

"Do you hate me that much?"

"We love you that much. Just look."

And so he did.

In amazement the man looked around to see his home filled with beauty and splendour. He saw wonderful new gifts from his friends and forgotten old possessions. All these years he'd blocked out the magnificent abundance in his life just to avoid the emptiness left by one thing. All these years he'd affectively lost everything by trying to hold on to what had been taken from him.

With tears of gratitude rolling down his face he embraced everyone, realising that in spite of his fear and stupidity, in spite of his rejection, they still loved him. All they'd ever done came from unconditional love.

Some days later as he walked down the hallway feeling thankful for all that he now saw in his life, he put his hand in his pocket and felt a familiar object. It was a small item that he'd found in a corner a few weeks after his self-imposed blindness. He didn't know what it was but it felt interesting so he'd carried it around in his pocket ever since. With curiosity he pulled it out to finally discover its identity.

In shock he stared at it. It didn't look as he remembered, but without a shadow of a doubt he held in his hand the item he'd lost all those years ago.

To think, it had been with him all the time, he'd just needed to let go and see.

Tuesday, 15 May 2007

The Key to Happiness

Life, reality, is not a tangible thing. We come into this world fresh and ready to learn, and in some ways what we're taught builds some reason out of the strangeness around us. In other ways it blinds us from so much of what is.

We come into this world with the key to living a joyous life firmly implanted in us. Then we put it in a safe place, forget all about it for some decades, and then when we finally decide we want it we can't remember what it was or where we put it, so spend much of our life searching for it!

First we mistakenly believe that the key is out in the world somewhere - in other people, jobs, money, hobbies, religion... you name it, we look for the key to happiness in it.

Then one day it eventually dawns on us that the key to happiness is within us, not outside of us, and so we begin an extensive a search of ourselves. We look at our character and passions. We search fervently for our purpose. We work at becoming "better" human beings. We use substantial energy focussing on being positive. We give to others. We give to ourself. We look at the good in each situation. We show gratitude for what we have. We show courage. We persist. We act. We attempt to focus on what we want and banish the thoughts of what we don't want.

At each step we believe we have found the key, and we feel happy. And truly, what we discover about ourselves is beneficial to our growth, and does in fact make us happier...at least for a time. But then one day something comes along and that happiness is shaken and sometimes breaks, and we wonder why. And so we keep on searching for that elusive key that we knew so well when we stepped into this world and have now forgotten. We read more books, go to more seminars, get more therapy, and find out more about what it is to be a success, to be happy, to live the life of your dreams.

I've been searching as much as anyone, and what I've come to believe is that what most people describe as the attributes of the truly whole person - the person that is living the life they want, the person with the unshakeable attitude of happiness and positivity, the person that is a success - are really by-products of having and using the key.

I believe that every wonderful, positive attribute that we all strive to have and be comes from first using the key, and that what we are actually doing in trying to be positive, persistent, courageous etc without the key is similar to building a house without first laying the foundation: we may get the walls up, we may even get the roof on, but as soon as a strong wind comes through our house gets shaky. When a storm hits it falls down completely.

True happiness is unshakeable - take a look at the Dalai Lama and you'll know what I mean. It doesn't mean that the truly happy never experience negative emotions, but it does mean that they experience and use them in the way they were designed: to learn from, grow from, and then release.

So what is the key? What is it that forms the foundation that true happiness is built on? I believe that the key lies in a single word: FAITH.

I believe that the key to true happiness, the key to life, is having complete faith in yourself and the universe (or God, or whatever name you would like to give).

So what exactly is faith?

To me faith is having complete belief in who you are. It's trusting yourself completely and implicitly � trusting your judgement, instincts and intuition and acting according that. It's accepting yourself as you are, including the mistakes you make as you learn and grow, and your imperfections. No one is perfect, and it's something we should be thankful for � what a boring world we'd live in if we were all perfect! It's often our imperfections, the areas that we personally view as a lack, that lend us beauty, warmth and humanity. Faith is accepting and loving our imperfections, both great and small, and rejoicing in them. It's believing that we are worthy and deserving of receiving anything and everything that we dream of, just for being who we are. It's about being true to the person that we are, and of being proud of that.

It's also trusting that the universe will provide the best of what you ask for, if only you let it. It's believing that what you truly want will be provided, regardless of how unlikely it seems. It's accepting that it can be provided in a completely different way to what you ever expected, so when things don't appear to be going according to your plan, it's having faith that it's still going according to a greater plan, and a greater good, if you just keep having faith.

True faith in yourself exists regardless of whether anyone else shows faith in you. It holds its head up when the world is trying to push it down. It persists and succeeds when anything else would fail. It smiles when everything else would cry. If you look at any truly happy person, any truly successful person, you will see that the one thing they all have in common is true faith in themselves and the universe.

So if complete faith is the key to true happiness, then what is the key to complete faith?

Well that's something I'll be looking at in more detail in a future article. In the meantime go and have a look in the most powerful emotion we have: LOVE.

Thursday, 10 May 2007

Letting Go

A friend recently shared a beautiful little story with me that I'd like to share with you.

A Leaf In A River

Can I tell you a story about a leaf in a river? We've all seen them, floating along in the middle of the river, gently being carried along by the flow. Funny, really - from there, they cannot be hurt or damaged, since there is nothing but water around, and the water is supporting the leaf. Of course, some leaves are stuck on the bank of the river, with some perhaps unknown force being applied that keeps them there. For the leaf on the bank, the very same current that is supporting the other leaf is now destructive. And yet, if the force holding the leaf is removed, then the leaf that is stuck can now be carried to where it is supposed to be, no longer being buffeted by the vagaries of the current. Unlike a leaf, we can decide to hold on, or to let go.

Just like the leaf, it is amazing how much easier life can be when we allow ourselves to be who we truly are. Letting go of all the things we should do or be, all the things that hold us back and leave us stuck, allows us to be the greatest person that we are.

We are all unique, and that is to be celebrated.

My sister once said to me, "I've seen you be many people, but you're always best as yourself." That's true of every person.

You are magnificent as yourself, in a way that no one else ever has been or ever will be. It's just a matter of letting go, and letting yourself be.