We are living in a time of immense change, and while it often doesn’t feel like we can do much about it, in actuality, we all have significant power to affect our future. We have the power to choose. What will we choose for this coming year and beyond? In what domains of our lives can we make choices that move us toward a new paradigm? How can we begin this choosing when we are presented with so many choices every day, and to choose feels so overwhelming?
As I review this past year of 2012, and contemplate the onset of 2013, I cannot help but think of the typical way in which so many of us make our new year’s resolutions, try to adhere to them, and then ultimately forget all about them. Why does this happen? What is it about our commitments that we cannot commit to? Perhaps it has to do with the choices we make and whether or not they are aligned with what matters most to us.
Along these lines, I just offered a workshop about this very topic, and found the concept to be quite powerful. I came to the idea to offer this workshop when I realized that while I have a passion for teaching and sharing for the sake of human development and growth, nothing really changes unless we as human beings are willing to take responsibility and be accountable for our actions and the consequences of our choices.
We have been given the greatest gift of all, free will. With this free will, we have the power to create. We create out of the choices we make in the various domains of our lives, and every choice we make has a result. It is even a choice not to choose, and that too has a consequence. While we all have this beautiful gift of free will, I cannot help but to consider how often this gift is squandered. Today’s society tends toward conforming and choosing what everyone else is choosing, buying into what everyone else is buying into, and behaving according to doctrines, political correctness or what others might think. I believe it is time for a new paradigm, and that we as an humanity have the ability and opportunity to create that. We are standing at the threshold, and it’s time to choose and take responsibility for those choices!
Our choices have a significant impact on our future and the future of the world. We can take a look at the overarching choices of humanity as a whole and see the condition of the planet and her people. We can see the results of neglect, apathy, disinterest, blame, dogma, fear, and more. These are all domains in which we have a choice. We can choose how we respond and act in life. We can choose understanding rather than blame. We can choose courage rather than fear. And what about the many choices over time that were made in the name of goodness that are now destroying humanity, like the creation of GMOs, nuclear weaponry, petrochemicals, etc.? Why can we not see the long term effects of some of our choices? What is driving our choices?
We might look at these ideas and feel, “my choice won’t make a difference.” While it may be true that we may not see the direct impact or result of certain choices we make on the whole of humanity and the planet, change is generated is through one person at a time, one step at a time, one moment at a time, one choice at a time. Perhaps many of us are not experiencing the freedom that we have been given. Perhaps this contracts us and has us feeling disempowered and believing that we don’t have a choice. Ultimately, the freedom of choice is our own, and we cannot choose for others. Let’s take a step back and remove some of the overwhelm by simply looking at the power of our own personal choices in our own personal lives.
How can we begin to make choices that really make a difference in our own personal lives? In my experience, I have found the choice of gratitude to be the ultimate beginning in choosing wisely and with courage. True freedom, which is also the capacity to choose in alignment with truth, comes when we can be in gratitude for EVERY moment, no matter how difficult, painful or unpleasant. We can find this gratitude when we realize the gift that comes from each moment. What is the gift you have gained from your divorce, the loss of a loved one, losing your job, the abuse of your childhood, or the pain of an illness? Can you find it? Perhaps your abuse gave you a strength you never would have otherwise, and allows you to support others who are going through the same types of trials. Perhaps your illness generates a motivation within you to advocate for a cure or healing, or to appreciate life more fully. Your experiences are your gifts, no matter what they are. They shape you, enlighten your soul, strengthen you and inform you.
Forgiveness, in my assessment, is a close sibling to gratitude. To forgive is ultimately to let go or release. It is not about condoning. Forgiveness is a releasing of the resentment, blame, hatred or other emotions that may hold one back from finding the gifts in the experiences of life. Perhaps there is a need to forgive a person from your past, or a situation, or even yourself. Can you make the choice to forgive and move toward gratitude for all of life? As you do this, can you see how freeing it is to realize you have this choice, and to feel gratitude for your experiences?
As we find gratitude for our lives and the world around us, we also find ourselves in a greater state of freedom. We begin to see that we do have choices, and that our choices can make a difference in our lives. We begin to cultivate the courage to choose. Choosing can be painful and/or very uncomfortable. We may have big choices in front of us such as whether or not to quit a job or end a relationship. We can also feel discomfort in the simple choices such as which foods to purchase, the more expensive yet life giving, organic foods, or the less expensive, deadened processed foods. We need courage to make our choices. We are being asked to make choices that take us into the unknown, and in addition to the pain or discomfort a choice may cause, stepping into this unknown also requires courage.
More and more, as we are being asked to discover new paths and new ideas for the future, we are expected to step into the unknown. We don’t always know the results of our choices. We can only tune into the moment, feel into our hearts, and ask ourselves if the choice we are making is aligned with what we care about most. This knowing does not come from the head. Only in the heart can we find this care. Do you know what you care about most? Feeling grateful for all of life is an important beginning, and once we have cultivated gratitude, we must consider what matters to us, what we care about most.
When we consider what truly matters to us and reach our core care, while there may be some commonalities, there will also be many differences among us. Understanding this can help us to see how critical each of us is in the grand scheme of life, and how each of our individual cares, when aligned with truth, beauty and goodness, will in totality begin to take care of the world. Humanity and the world need each of us to tune into our own inner light, to find what we care about most, and to begin serving and attending to that care with the unique skills, talents and gifts we came to this earth with. This is how we return to helping in the big picture and realizing that as we take care of our own true care, we are ultimately caring for the world. We come to realize that every choice we make, be it how we spend our dollars, how we treat our children, how we greet a stranger, or what we eat for breakfast, affects the whole of life. We must begin with ourselves. This knowing becomes a greater motivator to looking inward and discovering the many shining gems that we hold as gifts to our selves and to the world.
So, how do we begin this process of attending to what we care about? With the new year upon us, and a revived sense of hope for the future, I am putting more attention on this very question and helping others to do the same. Once we have gotten very clear about what matters to us, our next step is to consider the various domains in our lives in which we have the opportunity to choose. We can choose how we maintain our health and well being, interact with others, spend our time, nourish our souls, express and understand our emotions, create, listen, parent, study, share, and do so much more. We can begin by making a list of all of the areas in our life in which we wish to be aware of our choices and begin to align with what we care about. With the solid foundation of what we care about, and the domains in our lives for which we want to attend to our care, we can then begin to develop an overarching vision for our future. We must not get overwhelmed by “how” the vision will come to fruition, but simply allow the vision to form based on what we’ve discovered thus far. Once we have a vision in place, be it for the coming year, or life as a whole, then we can begin to take steps toward making the vision a reality. Take a look at the practice section of this newsletter for a more step by step process, as well as leading questions to help you get to this point and to move toward creating your vision.
One of my own deepest cares is that we as an humanity wake up to the inner light within us and within each other, and that we begin to shine that light in its fullest. I take care of this care by helping others to find that light, tune in to their gifts and take their gifts into the world. One final thought I wish to leave you with is that through this process of finding our light, stepping into the unknown and creating the life we envision, we are never alone. We have beings of spirit, our Angels, the Mother and Father, Christ and Sophia and many other spiritual beings longing to be asked for guidance and assistance. As this new year begins, I invite us to invoke these beings for assistance and support, and to allow them to help us cultivate the courage and faith needed to move to a new paradigm that is aligned with truth, beauty and goodness.
May your new year be blessed, and filled with the knowing that you have great gifts to offer the world. May you find the courage to cultivate a life aligned with what truly matters most to you.