I hope your Christmas and the holidays were full of love, joy, peace and hope.
Happy New Year! 2020 will be a challenging year for all of us, in varying degrees and for a variety of paradoxical reasons. Personally, I don’t make New Year’s resolutions because they have proven to be unsustainable before the year’s end. I prefer to feel free to choose the best ways to use my energies as circumstances emerge. I intend to seize every moment I’m consciously aware, taking pleasure in the process.
The expression “quality pleasure” has the implication that some of the simple pleasures we so enjoy, in moderation, should make us feel quality. Savoring a freshly baked hot chocolate croissant is a treat I indulge in with regularity. I feel enormous gratitude, never shame; glad I’m able to anticipate the pleasure, as well as treasure the memory of a momentary delight. All my five senses are awakened at once in a harmonious synchronicity, elevating this treat to a meditation.
I’ve adopted an attitude of my favorite aunt’s wise male friend, “moderation in everything, even virtue. “ Dr. Sirvi teased my serious aunt Betty into loosening up and having more fun. Pleasure will always be present when all aspects of our internal and external elements are working naturally in harmony. Only you and I, individually, know who we uniquely are, what we are thinking, and feeling at any given split second. We are masters of our destiny when we become more aware of who we are as we continuously yearn to live a life of meaning as we find and follow our purpose.
I believe, when we look for the good, we find it. In mysterious, wondrous places and unlikely circumstances, there will be meaning as well as learning more about ourselves when we have our open heart and minds. Step back, think rationally and reasonably. “To thine own self be true.” If we seek the good, we will find it. Are the thoughts in our mind cultivating inner peace in an anxious era? Are we in control of our emotions as well as our actions? We know right from wrong: Indulging in a perfect pastry experience is good for my mind, body and soul. I know because I am the one who feels the joy in real-time.
“You never know” were the wise words of the late John Bowen Coburn, a bishop of Massachusetts who married me and Peter in 1974. Just because we want to know what will happen next doesn’t give us certainty. What good we can experience is our deep breath, is alive, now. Worrying about the unknown future frustrates us from finding meaning, purpose and beauty in our lives just as they are now. “You never know.” How you intrinsically feel right now is your true self experiencing and reacting to your life in your relationships, your perspective, and feelings of contentment or discontent.
I wish for all of us, a most happy New Year. Rather than putting unrealistic pressure on ourselves to undergo a rigorous self-improvement plan, I recommend we pause. Take a deep breath. There is radiant light in the center of our soul. Resolve to learn, to known, and honor who we are at our core. Self-awareness and inner knowledge will guide us unfailingly. Be true to how you answer the most important question “who am I?” When we have a shining mirror facing inward, we’re in an ideal position to focus on our strengths, talents and identify our simple pleasures as we focus our energies on all the good. Our responsibility is our own good. The saying “It’s all good” is our ability to just be.
Rather than taking on more, we will best find what we are seeking from shedding some expectations as well as material possessions that require our time and resources to maintain. We need to create more stillness, more solitude in our daily lives. Distractions are inevitable. We can eliminate unwanted ones that could keep us anxious and stressed out by focusing our attention on our personal priorities. By cultivating inner peace, we empty ourselves in order to feel the presence of our higher nature. We do know better. Family, close relationships, and meaningful work that is empowering others' lives brings us our greatest happiness.
Before technology promised us more instantaneous connection and awareness to our every question, we were forced to reflect, to take time to think, to patiently analyze what the right thing is to do now. Pause. Breath. “Hurry never.” Excellence is found in the quality of our experiences. “Active virtue” is doing our best. Every moment we are at our best, doing our best, is the best we can be. When we continuously act thoughtfully, aware of our positive attitude, this will be a solid foundation for all that will follow. Be good. Do good. “It’s all good” when we do our best. Let as much light flow through our soul, our open heart and mind embrace a deeper love of life.
As we enter 2020, most of us will reflect on 2019 before charging ahead in this politically significant election year. Repeat the words “you never know.” Anything could happen. Question yourself, what can you do to unite us? How can we help? What can we do to bring us all together? Our country is so divided. The ideals of our United States of America’s democracy are at stake. I have one wish I hope will come true. I urge you and me to keep an open mind about this challenging year we enter into; the more we retreat to honestly reflect on our principles, the greater our intuition will guide us. “Who am I?” Am I acting from my highest power of integrity, compassion and love? I’m reminded of Peter when he was in a courtroom on trial, he literally whispered to the jury: Peter’s voice was heard. Truth is the prize. The Persian poet Rumi taught us in silence there is elegance. I want to do the right thing and feel inner peace when my grandchildren inquire about my tough choices.
As I prepare for my happiness retreats in January and March, I feel more grounded in my commitment for us to retreat into happiness together. We can openly discuss what is on our minds and share our varied points of view. What are the essential qualities we need to have firmly in place in order to have the courage of our convictions? Together, each of us learns other points of view, traditions and practices. The Dalai Llama and Desmond Tutu, a Buddhist monk and a Christian, shared friendship and love when they spent a week together, recorded in “The Book of Joy.”
When I was teaching classes at an international conference in Cannes, France in the 1990’s, Peter and I went to a lecture about the differences between the East and West taught by a Japanese Buddhist who became a Christian. I asked Dr. Aoki about his faith. “Jesus is the window I look through to see and understand the world.” In our commitment to keeping an open mind as we weigh in analyzing the facts, what is proven to be true, we will act accordingly. We will have the courage to be true to ourselves. Whenever we do the right thing at the right time for the right reason, our choices will set us free. Our soul is not for sale.
“The kingdom of heaven is within,” in the beautiful, important words of Jesus. The Buddha didn’t want us to worship him, but to become the light, to transform, to become enlightened. Let us all come together, lifting each other up on angel’s wings. Let’s share different perspectives and experiences that have brought us to our vision and understanding of how best to live.
Dr. Aoki was in an automobile accident and they thought he died. Miraculously he awoke being able to completely recall the precise details of the crash. After recovering, he left Japan to live in Hawaii to work with dying cancer patients. On his office door he placed a sign, “Come to me with your situation, not your problem.” For those of you who are close readers, you know that I believe we should solve situations with the positive energy of opportunity. How we react, how we act, comes from our character. When we make the best of every situation and learn from the pain and darkness, we are caring for our character and will have a clean conscience.
I continue to interview people of all ages and viewpoints. Some of my scientist friends as well as strangers tell me they don’t believe in the soul, or in a God. Brain research proves to be valid that our mind is what guides us, not the invisible, non-material soul. I’d love to hear from you. Please enter in on these deep questions about our spirit energy. I’m fascinated and curious to have these conversations. Inspired by learning how differently we think and feel,and at the same time how alike we are in our essence.
I’m a great believer in synchronicity. We’ve discussed this together. Some people don’t look for meaning in coincidences. I do. I choose to believe that certain divine intervention takes place to allow specific good things to come into being. Aristotle taught us we are human and divine. Causes have results; we can connect the invisible threads with a needle.
My believing these wondrously mysteriously powerful awakenings are meant to be, not random coincidences, brings me hope. I have nothing to prove to anyone except my sense of awe, gratitude, hope and unconditional love.
Please come to the March 11th and 12th happiness reunion to share our light. Bring a soulmate or a lover, a sister, brother, friend or child.
Happy, happy New Year!