Love All Year Long

Love is definitely a topic that needs to be addressed in this holiday season!  Today I’m sharing some thoughts from A Course in Miracles.  Today’s two thoughts are presented early in the text (p11).

“Darkness is a lack of light as sin is a lack of love”

“If a mind perceives without love, it perceives an empty shell and is unaware of the spirit within.”

Both of these quotes shed a little light onto the immense topic of love.  The first thought presented today has really been on my mind of late.  Essentially, the world is made up of two “things:” love and a lack of love. If we accept this as truth, the solution to all of life’s problems is obvious: love more!  It we spent more time honestly, openly and authentically loving each other and the world, the world would be a much different (and better) place.

The second thought presents that if you’re not living with love, you’re missing out on portions of yourself.  So not only is love the key to transforming a world filled with war, poverty and hatred, but it’s also the solution to really knowing yourself.  Everyone wakes up at some point in time in their life and asks themselves what on earth are they doing with their life.  You feel empty, passionless, alone and confused.  Accepting the statement as truth, the way to feel fulfilled, joyful and alive is to love yourself more.  This means treating yourself and your body with respect, caring for them, feeding them well and exercising both mind and body.

This holiday season, I encourage you to spend time with love, quietly with yourself, and with Spirit.  Love yourself, love others, don’t be all about imposing your beliefs and views on the world, listen for the truth in others’ perspectives, and spend time connecting with Spirit.

What do you love about yourself, and this holiday season? Share your thoughts below.

The Source of Joy

We’ve arrived at week 2 in our Christmas verse themed Monday blog posts! Today’s verse comes from 2 Corinthians 2:3b:

“Surely you all know that my joy comes from your being joyful.”

2 Corinthians is a great, and deep, book in the New Testament.  So what can this verse teach us about Christmas?  When Jesus came to earth, the angels sang with great joy and spread the joyful news to the shepherds.  Mary (Jesus’ mother) shared her joy in Luke 1.

The whole idea of joy is to share it!  So, our joy should come from others!  We are joyful when others are happy, and others are happy when we are happy.  Sharing joy means being a part of an amazing cycle of love and sharing among men and women around the world.

If you are a parent, think back to past Christmases when your young children opened up gifts they really wanted.  Do you remember that look of excitement and joy? (If you’re not a parent remember back to when you opened gifts that you really wanted.)  As a parent did you feel that joy that your children expressed too?  The great part about Christmas is that it’s easy to spread and feel joy, it’s almost “built-in” to the holiday.

Spreading and sharing joy doesn’t require any money, or physical investments.  It does require that you be you, and that you share some love and Christmas Spirit.  How will you share joy this holiday season? Will you do it with hugs, kind words or something else?  Share your thoughts below.

Life Purpose in a Time of Holidays

Christmas is the perfect time to talk about life purpose!  Depending on your spiritual roots, you’re thinking about Jesus coming to earth as a baby to fulfill his purpose of saving humans from their sins and giving us an incredible future.  Many people are thinking about Santa (St. Nick) whose purpose was to bring presents and joy to boys and girls all around the world.  They lived to fulfill their purpose, how about you?

You’re purpose is the reason you’re here on earth.  Dictionary.com defines purpose as: “the reason for which something exists or is done, made, used, etc.”

What are simple guidelines to know you’re living your purpose?

  • you’re helping others
  • you’re making a difference
  • you’re doing good in the world
  • it feels right while you’re doing it
  • you feel a sense of satisfaction after doing it
  • you enjoy doing it
  • it comes easily to you
  • you know what to do

Now, these items may not be true for you initially as you step into living your purpose.  It may take some time for you to enjoy doing it, for it to come easily to you or any of the other items I listed to be true.  However, one criteria that I really feel is a must when considering your purpose is that it helps others or makes a difference in the world.  Your purpose is not for your enjoyment and use solely.  Santa would have the biggest collection of toys in the world, but he would have probably been the most unhappy person if he had kept them for himself.  Heaven would be pretty lonely if Jesus didn’t come to earth to fulfill his purpose too.  (Sidenote: how you fulfill your purpose may change over time, but what your purpose is won’t.  You can check out my purpose and one of the ways I live it here.)

Think about your life and what you would consider your life’s purpose, or the reason you exist. I’m positive that there is a reason you’re here.  If you already know your purpose I encourage you to share it below.  Also ask questions or share thoughts below too!

True Joy

As I was thinking about writing about joy today I paused to think about how we use the word joy in our lives today.  We don’t typically say “I feel joyful” or “I am full of joy” or “That makes me joyful.”  Joy just isn’t a word we use frequently in our conversations.  So why do we talk about it at Christmas?  What is joy anyway?

Dictionary.com defines joy as “a deep feeling or condition of happiness or contentment” and “something causing a feeling; a source of happiness”  So what is joy really anyway?

Leo Nikolaevich Tolstoy said, “Joy can be real only if people look upon their life as a service and have a definite object in life outside themselves and their personal happiness.”

True joy is much bigger than being happy, a little feeling inside you, or doing the right things.  True joy is felt only when you’ve been in service to others.  This is one of the reasons we talk about it so much at Christmas, because (in Bible-based traditions) Jesus came to earth completely for the purpose of being of service to us, and therefore brought great joy to those in his earthly life (and countless people since).

You can’t find joy through buying things, you can’t find joy through creating things for yourself, and you can’t find joy without being committed to really making a difference in other people’s lives.

Sadly, we’ve really gotten far from sharing and experiencing joy.  This Christmas season, take the advice of Jesus and Tolstoy and focus on being of true service to someone other than yourself.  Not only will it make a difference in their life, you will also feel joy.

I would love to hear your thoughts on joy below!

Peace and Government?

Today I’m starting 4 Christmas themed blog posts.  Some will have Christmas scriptures, others will tie into Christmas themes, and some will do both.  Today’s verse is Isaiah 9:6 which reads “For to us a child is born, to us a son is given, and the government will be on his shoulders. And he will be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.”

As I was reading this in preparation for my weekly devotional, it caught my attention how out of place, yet wonderful the title of “Prince of Peace” is in this verse.  This verse talks about a child coming into the world, one who will lead governments, give wise counsel, be a mighty God and forever Father, and then it ends with Him being the Prince of Peace.  Peace isn’t something we typically associate with government, politics or power, yet this verse puts them all together.

Yet, peace is perhaps one of the most important and comforting aspects of this verse.  Isaiah 9:7, the next verse begins “His government and its peace will never end.”  Here Isaiah clearly links Jesus’ kingdom as a peaceful one, not as one who rules and spreads peace when possible.

What can we learn from this verse?  Simply that peace isn’t to be an afterthought in our lives but a priority, that peace goes hand-in-hand with every aspect of our lives, and should be incorporated in and free flowing from our lives every day.

Share some peace with those around you this holiday season, and don’t forget to thank the Prince of Peace for coming to earth.  Share your thoughts below.

Happy Holidays to YOU

It’s officially the holiday season, and while it is a time of celebration, joy and happiness, it can also be a very stressful time.  Let’s talk about some practical things you can do to reduce your stress and enjoy the holidays more!

-do what makes you happy for at least 5 minutes a day. This would include watching some TV, reading book, taking a bubble bath etc.

-exercise at least 10 min/day.  Simple ways to take the extra steps include parking far away from stores and not taking elevators.

-wear your favorite clothes. You don’t have to wear your best clothing, but wear the clothes that look good on you and you look well dressed no matter how crazy it gets.

-bring what you like to eat to the party.  This simple idea will ease your concerns if you’re a picky eater, or have dietary concerns.

-invite those you want to spend time with.  This may seem obvious, but often the holidays are times when we get together with those we don’t see often for a reason.  So while it may be obligatory to celebrate with them, also make sure to celebrate with those who you enjoy spending time with, and you still feel the cheerful holiday spirit afterward.

-gift yourself.  Don’t forget about giving yourself a gift or two in this gift-giving season!

-surprise others.  Do something for someone who isn’t expecting it.  Bring in cookies to work, pick up a treat for your partner or kids, make an extra special meal for no reason other than because you want to, and send a personal card to those you don’t get to see often.

What ideas do you have for spreading some holiday cheer and reducing stress?  Share your ideas below.

Finding Peace

Today begins a series of posts about very holiday-themed topics that are important to consider during the holiday season no matter what your religion, spiritual practice, spiritual beliefs or lifestyle is.  We begin our holiday journey with the topic of peace.  There are a few things in the world everyone is seeking; money, happiness and peace top the list.  If it’s so sought after, why don’t we have it?  There are countless ways advertised to get more money, from saving, spending less, only buying bargains or with coupons, getting another job, investing and starting a business.  Many people say you can find happiness through meditation, yoga, friends, family, possessions and giving back to others.  But what about peace?  Where is peace?

Peace is in the silence.  Have you ever taken a walk through the fresh snow?  Or up a mountain?  Or on a deserted stretch of beach?  Did you notice how quiet it was?  How calm you may have felt inside?  Or were you too preoccupied with the things going on back in your regular life?  If you can, I encourage you to visit a quiet, deserted areas either by yourself or with a friend, and find some peace.

Peace is in forgiveness and thankfulness.  They’re not easy things to do, but if you are consistently expressing your gratitude for the people and things in your life, you will feel more at peace, more content.  If you do happen to have a fight with a friend or partner, make sure to express your apologies, ask for forgiveness if necessary as soon as the dust has settled, and talk about what happened and what steps you both will take to prevent future fights on the same topic.

Want more on the topic of peace? Check out this other blog post I wrote today.

Share your thoughts on peace and the holidays below.