Saturday, December 21, 2013

Daily Inspirational Message for December 21, 2013

You have to take seriously the notion that understanding the universe is your responsibility, because the only understanding of the universe that will be useful to you is your own understanding.
– Terence McKenna

It’s no wonder so many people are anxious and depressed these days, for a life that leaves no time for spiritual practice will naturally suffer a lack of peace and well-being. We aren’t meant to be endlessly busy working, playing or even being passively entertained. As we are body, heart, mind and spirit, a good chunk of each day’s waking hours are needed to nourish our spirits by dialoguing with the Universe, contemplating deep questions, and communing with the divine. If you’re unhappy, lost, or merely bored, make more room in your life for Spirit. The more you reach out for guidance and support, the more Spirit will help you find your way.

Taste The Goodness

Relax, let go, be thankful and live this beautiful life that is yours right now. Feel the goodness that is your nature, and let that goodness fill your awareness.

Be where you love to be by loving where you are. Enjoy life by enjoying the moment you’re in.

See the beauty that is all around you, in even the most ordinary of things. Feel the truly astounding miracle that is your existence on this day, in this place.

Allow yourself to be filled with wonder and appreciation for all that is. Know that there is unique positive value to be discovered in every turn of events, and choose to make the most of that value.

There is every reason to expect the best of yourself and your world right now. There is every reason to live this moment with passion, purpose and love.

Open yourself fully to life, and see how truly good it is, right now. Taste the goodness, and let it grow more abundant within you.

— Ralph Marston


6 Boys, One Cop: A Story of Restorative Justice

In one of Frank Baum's Oz books, Dorothy winds up in prison in Oz and is treated to luxury, kindness and warm cookies. When she asks why, the guard says, "Why would we treat people meanly when we want them to be kind?" The prison system in the US often runs counter to this notion of kindness and rehabilitation. This article focuses on a town in Longmont, Colorado where restorative justice that promotes rehabilitation and creative sentencing is closing the gap on racism, and needless incarceration. It shares an inspiring real-life example of how this approach works.

Friday, December 20, 2013

Daily Inspirational Message for December 20, 2013

Have compassion for everyone you meet even if they don’t want it. What seems conceit, bad manners, or cynicism is always a sign of things no ears have heard, no eyes have seen. You do not know what wars are going on down there where the spirit meets the bone.
– Miller Williams

It’s amazing how things shift when we sit down and really talk to someone on a soul level: suddenly, the rude, selfish or angry behavior they’ve been spewing out begins to make sense. As their tears start to flow and we feel their pain, we stop judging them as bad or wrong, and begin to empathize with them instead. When a deep, soulful conversation isn’t possible for some reason, it’s helpful to imagine it taking place. When someone lies, we’re wise to assume that they are afraid to tell the truth; when someone takes more than their fair share, it’s because they fear they won’t have enough; when someone lashes out in anger, we can remember that they’re acting that way because they feel emotionally unsafe. We must be really awake and open-hearted to respond to bad behavior with love and understanding. While none of us can manage it all of the time, the more we practice, the easier it gets, and the more peaceful we tend to feel.

Something Good In It

What appears to be a problem is not just a problem. It is an invitation to explore new positive possibilities.

What seems impossible is not entirely impossible. It is challenging you to look at the situation from a different perspective.

The obstacles that block you are also doing you a favor. They are guiding you to become more creative, more innovative, more determined and purposeful.

Each negative thing has a positive element. That’s because you have the amazing ability to learn, to adapt, to create and to transform life according to your unique, positive vision.

There’s really no need to worry about what might or might not come. For no matter what may come, there’s a way for you to create more goodness and richness from it.

Enthusiastically embrace each moment with open arms. There’s something good in it, waiting for you to bring it to life.

— Ralph Marston


Are We Losing Our Focus?

Daniel Goleman, renowned author and psychologist, writes that the ability to focus on one task to the exclusion of others is a lost art for many. Yet the skill of focus is connected to greater happiness, better relationships, and increased productivity. He writes that balancing inner, other, and outer focus are keys to success. Inner focus involves paying attention to our values, intuition, and ways of responding, other focus translates to presence and empathy for others, and outer focus refers to being aware of systems and trends in society. One key to finding that balance is understanding how our minds and hearts work. This article shares more.

Thursday, December 19, 2013

Daily Inspirational Message for December 19, 2013

I believe in signs. What we need to learn is always there before us, we just have to look around us with respect and attention to discover where God is leading us and which step we should take. When we are on the right path, we follow the signs, and if we occasionally stumble, the Divine comes to our aid, preventing us from making mistakes.
– Paulo Coelho

I know many, many people who feel like this past year was extraordinarily difficult, and can’t wait for it to be over. I’ve had a number of conversations with various individuals about this, and some key themes have emerged. It seems like a whole lot of us were being taught to let go of illusions regarding how much control we have over how things unfold. The more we held tight to whatever we thought had to happen, the more difficult things got. I think sometimes, the Universe has a funny way of helping us: it makes the wrong path more and more painful in order to wake us up, shake us up, and force us to move in a new direction.

Joyful World

Put some real joy into what you’re doing, and what you’re doing changes for the better. Put some genuine joy into the situation, and new, positive possibilities come clearly into focus.

Instead of assuming that you cannot possibly enjoy what you’re doing, find ways to add your own joy to it. Instead of expecting joy to be given to you, make as much of your own joy as you can.

Energize your moments by living them joyfully and enthusiastically. You can choose the way you relate to life, so choose to do it with joy.

Don’t poison your attitude by compiling a list of things that get you down. Commit yourself to lifting life up no matter what kinds of things might be going on.

By all means, live in the real world, and live with authentic joy. Be realistic and joyful at the same time, and your reality will get better and better.

This is a day, this is a moment, this is a life that could benefit from some real joy. Give some joy now, and as often as you can, and live in a more joyful world.

— Ralph Marston


An Awesome Way To Help Kids Be Less Self-Absorbed

Malala Yousufzai, Craig Kielburger, and Ryan Hreljac are some of the many young people in the world who are trying to transform the world in positive ways. However, research suggests that a large percentage of youth are becoming less empathic and more disconnected from others. Getting children and young adults to be less self-absorbed has also been a subject of research, and as Dacher Keltner explains one particularly positive emotion may help inspire young ones: awe. Awe, it seems, helps people feel a sense of vastness that in turn, gives them a fresh perspective on the world and their place in it. This article from the Greater Good Science Center suggests how teachers, parents, and anybody who spends time with children can help nurture a sense of awe in their lives.

Wednesday, December 18, 2013

Daily Inspirational Message for December 18, 2013

To the poet, to the philosopher, to the saint, all things are friendly and sacred, all events profitable, all days holy, all men divine.
- Ralph Waldo Emerson

Someday, I hope I am able to get past my endlessly judging mind and, like a jolly, laughing Buddha, peacefully smile upon all transgressors, bless those who curse me, and laugh in the face of danger. Maybe I will be able to love all of myself – my cellulite, my know-it-all tendencies, and my endless hunger for more – and maybe I won’t. I do know that when I stop trying so hard and simply look for the beauty in everything and everyone, when I am kind to myself and everyone else for not being ‘perfect enough,’ the whole world softens. I then remember that walking a spiritual path may not be easy, but it is ultimately simple: it’s just a matter of choosing love in each moment, of choosing love again and again and again.

Offer Encouragement

You cannot force other people to do the right thing. What you can do, and what is extremely effective, is to encourage them.

If you offer threats, intimidation and low expectations, you’ll get resentment and poor performance. When you assume and expect the worst of others, you’re very likely to get it.

A better choice is to expect the best, and to offer opportunities for those expectations to be met. Though it’s true that people won’t always live up to your positive expectations, it’s also true that most people would prefer to do what’s best for everyone concerned.

Just about everyone responds positively to positive, genuine encouragement. Let others know, clearly, precisely and in positive terms, what you expect, and let them know you have faith that they’ll meet those expectations.

Instead of looking for ways to control, look for opportunities to support and encourage. Instead of conducting detached transactions, seek to build ongoing relationships.

Offer the encouragement to do what is right, what is good, what is valuable and positive. Expect the best, in a supportive way, and it is much more likely to happen.

— Ralph Marston


The Art & Science of Conquering Your Fears

Aristotle believed courage to be the most important quality in a man. "Courage is the first of human virtues because it makes all others possible," he wrote. Today, it's one of the more neglected areas of positive psychology, but recent research has begun to move toward an understanding of what courage is and how we might be able to cultivate the ability to face our fear and make decisions with greater fortitude.  This article shares six ways to loosen the grip of fear on your life, and become more courageous than you ever imagined.

Tuesday, December 17, 2013

Daily Inspirational Message for December 17, 2013

Lovers don’t finally meet somewhere. They’re in each other all along.
– Rumi

If you’ve ever met a soul mate or experienced love at first sight, you know the power and magic of a deep soul connection. It seems to me that we need only experience this one time to know that there is some mystical force that draws us back toward those we have loved before time and time again. Knowing this, we can relax and trust that if there is someone out there whom we already love and are destined to meet again – be they a lover, a child, a teacher or a friend – then that reunion will happen in its own perfect time and way.

Making Hope Real

It’s good to hope for the best. Yet it’s infinitely more effective to put your thoughts, actions, commitment and genuine love into actually bringing about the best in life.

Hoping, wishing and dreaming can be very positive experiences. It is important to remember, though, that such experiences are starting points, not ultimate destinations.

You can very realistically experience what you hope for. The way to do so is to go beyond mere hope, and to put your life into making that hope real.

Hope can matter very much, and have an extremely positive impact. The way to make it matter is to do something about it.

Give time, effort and substance to your hope, to your dreams, wishes and visions for life. If something is important enough to hope for, it is absolutely important enough to work for.

Experience how good it can be to feel the hope. Then experience how very much better it feels when you put your life into making the hope real.

— Ralph Marston


Saving the Kind Barber and His Street Cats

With two hefty sacks of cat food in her arms, Manuela Wroblewski can't stop smiling as she whisks toward the familiar shop. Hussein, the Turkish barber, clasps his hands in gratitude as he eyes the bags of food and the two hurry over to the tiny food dishes lined up in the alley. Soon the sound of kibble clinks against the bowls and several stiff tailed cats begin to appear. But Hussein was in trouble after diminishing customers caused him to lose his lifelong barber shop in Turkey. Things were looking quite dire for this lovely man and while he didn't express any worry for his own future, he was in knots over what might happen to the street cats he feeds each day. He probably hadn't even dreamt that people from half way around the world would help.

Monday, December 16, 2013

Uncomfortable Feelings

Too often we shy away from a strong emotional experience in life that brings up old, unpleasant childhood memories. What we don't realize is we are stronger now and can handle the emotions with a better outcome. We may even find a beautiful thing... -- Joe Michael Kulbago

Wild Justice and Moral Intelligence in Animals

“Consider the following scenarios…Eleven elephants rescue a group of captive antelope in KwaZula-Natal; the matriarch elephant undoes all of the latches on the gates of the enclosure with her trunk and lets the gate swing open so the antelope can escape. A rat in a cage refuses to push a lever for food when it sees that another rat receives an electric shock as a result. A male Diana monkey who learned to insert a token into a slot to obtain food helps a female who can’t get the hang of the trick, inserting the token for her and allowing her to eat the food reward.

Usually Know When It’s Time to Say Good-bye

“Let’s thank our animal companions for who they are. Let’s rejoice and embrace them as the amazing beings they are. If we open our hearts to them, we can learn much from their selfless lessons in compassion, humility, generosity, kindness, devotion, respect, spirituality, and love. By honoring our dogs’ trust, we tap into our own spirituality, into our hearts and souls. Sometimes that means not only killing them with love, but also mercifully taking their lives when their own spirit has died and life’s flame has been irreversibly extinguished.”

Pets Are Good for Us: Where Science and Common Sense Meet

“Watch a Lassie movie and spit into a cup. It doesn’t sound like it, but this is cutting-edge research. By analyzing saliva, researcher Cheryl Krause-Parello can tell that merely watching a dog in a movie lowers people’s stress. In recent years, research has demonstrated the healthful benefits of pets…[Researchers] learned that people feel better after watching a Lassie flick because their levels of cortisol, a hormone associated with stress, take a free fall.”

Daily Inspirational Message for December 16, 2013

The world is giving me constant feedback on the thoughts I hold in my mind. It provides clues to where I might find what I am looking for. I pause. I listen. I follow my heart.
– Carol Bridges

When something really significant is happening – when we’re about to conceive a child, meet a soul mate, or stumble upon a powerful new spiritual path – there are always signs guiding us there. The more consciously tuned in we are, the more aware we are that something important is about to happen. It’s exciting to know that we can tap into the same guidance that tells us big things are brewing in smaller ways. The same inner compass that guides us to a soul mate can direct us to the quickest route to take on our way home from work; it can help us call someone we need to talk to at a time when they’ll be available; it can give us just the right words to say to make amends and promote new peace and harmony. In every moment, we have only to stop and listen within to tap into an endless source of wisdom and guidance.

Better Than Ever

If you’re in a pattern that’s taking you nowhere, it’s time to create a new pattern. That’s not nearly as difficult as it might initially sound.

You are the person who is keeping yourself stuck in an unproductive pattern. You are the person who can move quickly, decisively and permanently to something much better.

Stop and take an honest, objective look at what you’re doing. If you had a good friend who was doing the same kinds of things, think of the advice you would give that friend.

One big reason you keep doing what doesn’t work is because it feels comfortable. So remind yourself that continuing in a negative, unproductive and unfulfilling pattern will make you extremely uncomfortable in the long run.

Comfort feels nice, and yet fulfillment and meaningful achievement feel thousands of times better. Your life is meant to be filled with the richness of new experiences, not just the comfort of familiar routines.

Get yourself out of that same old pattern and get yourself on a path that will resonate with your passion. You owe it to yourself, and to all of life, to continue becoming better than ever.

— Ralph Marston


Material World: A Global Family Portrait

"Photojournalist Peter Menzel's visual anthropology captures the striking span of humanity's socioeconomic and cultural spectrum. In 'Material World: A Global Family Portrait', Menzel traveled to 30 different countries, found a statistically average family in each country, and photographed them outside their home, with all of their belongings. The result is an incredible cross-cultural quilt of possessions, from the utilitarian to the sentimental, revealing the faceted and varied ways in which we use 'stuff' to make sense of the world and our place in it." This piece showcases some of these stunning photos that pose interesting and profound statements about the material world.

Sunday, December 15, 2013

A Formula for Happiness

HAPPINESS has traditionally been considered an elusive and evanescent thing. To some, even trying to achieve it is an exercise in futility. It has been said that “happiness is as a butterfly which, when pursued, is always beyond our grasp, but which if you will sit down quietly, may alight upon you.”

Daily Inspirational Message for December 15, 2013

The shaman is not merely a sick man, or a madman; he is a sick man who has healed himself.
– Terence McKenna

I often find myself wondering what I’m doing wrong to be going through whatever I’m going through. For example, if I get sick, I start to question what’s going on with my vibration that is making me vulnerable. Am I not serene enough? Am I not listening to my body and inner guidance? Am I giving too much attention to illness? Am I somehow doing something wrong? The more we work with natural spiritual law to successfully mold our course of experience to our liking, the more we may start to feel like we can control everything and should be invulnerable to all heartache and illness and free of all negative emotion. It’s important to remember, however, that without stress, there is no new growth. Every challenging experience nudges us another step along the path; each one offers us an opportunity to see ourselves and life from a slightly new and different angle. Every time we walk the healing path, we get better at healing ourselves and others.

Let Us Begin With Courage

The Okanagan People practice bio-regionally self-sufficient economies and believe that the total community must be engaged in order to attain sustainability and survival. The word "cooperation" is insufficient to describe the organic nature by which members of this community nurture the voluntary care of each other and of other life forms, the practice of which they hold to be an essential foundation for everyday living. Jeannette Armstrong, who was born into the Okanagan living community, shares more about this deep philosophy in which she was raised.