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Monday, December 28, 2015

Choosing a Blessed 2016

By Nancy Rynes, author of Awakenings from the Light 

I think we all know at least one person who seems bound and determined to be miserable, even if he or she has all the best the world can give them.

I met Steve* recently while participating in an artistic workshop in a rural area of New Mexico, USA. Part of the workshop involved traveling to a remote location for a day trip of about 10 hours, so the instructor asked the participants to carpool. I volunteered my car and took three of the other workshop attendees with me for our class that day. Steve rode next to me in the front passenger's seat with the other two attendees, both women, in the back of my SUV. The first few minutes of the drive went OK but within a half hour, I had a feeling that riding with Steve could make for a challenging day.

As far as I could tell, and from speaking with folks who knew Steve better than I, this man had a pretty darn good life. He was retired, happily married to a spouse who was also a well-respected (and very well-paid) professional, and who graciously and fully supported his artistic hobby. The couple lived in a nice home, had no debt, traveled internationally on vacations a few times each year, and lacked for nothing that money could buy. 

Soon after setting off for our day trip, though, Steve began ranting about everything under the sun. Nothing and no one was good enough. He ranted about the other drivers on the road (they were fine, trust me). He ranted about a set of furniture he and his wife were ordering for their home. He ranted about politicians, religions, countries, the young people today, and much more. I think you get the idea. Nothing and no one (except for his wife) was spared from his impassioned ranting. And worst of all, he directed just as much, if not more, negativity toward himself as he did to other people. In his mind and in his words, nothing he did was right. According to him, he was dumb, forgetful, clumsy, slow, and pretty much worthless if you believed what he said about himself (I did not). In the end, it was how he spoke to and about himself that distressed me the most because I know  how damaging it can be.

Several times that day, I and the other folks on the trip tried to get Steve to think and speak differently about himself, his circumstances, and life in general. We tried everything we knew: pointed out the beauty in the world around us, called attention to the things he did well, showed him other options or choices he could make, and much more. But I soon realized that Steve had firmly chosen to be miserable on a trip that should have been fun, joy-filled, and beautiful.

The rest of us didn't let Steve affect our moods, though. We remained happy, enjoyed ourselves, had fun, joked, and learned as much as we could from the instructors. Unfortunately, Steve remained miserable no matter what we did to try to help.

By listening to Steve that day, I was reminded that, to varying degrees, many people choose to stay mired in misery and unhappiness even when they have every opportunity to live an amazing life. And some people who should be miserable, given their circumstances, choose to live in gratitude, joy, and peace**. It's all in the choices we make in our attitudes and how we live our lives.

Yes, cultivating happiness, contentment, and even joy are choices we can make in each and every moment. If you doubt this, read the books of Viktor Frankl sometime and you'll understand what I mean. Even while being imprisoned in a Nazi concentration camp during World War II, in conditions you and I would find unlivable, Dr. Frankl chose to find beauty and love around him:

 
"We who lived in concentration camps can remember the men who walked through the huts comforting others, giving away their last piece of bread. They may have been few in number, but they offer sufficient proof that everything can be taken from a man but one thing: the last of the human freedoms -- to choose one's attitude in any given set of circumstances, to choose one's own way."


If you want more love in your life for the new year, try learning to be more loving and kind to others. If you want more peace, learn to cultivate that for yourself and your family. If you want more beauty, learn to see it every day in the world around you. Remember, it's really up to you, and only up to you. Waiting on someone else to give you peace or love or contentment is like betting everything on winning the lottery. Probably not going to happen, at least not in the near future, and you'll waste a lot of valuable time in limbo in the meantime ;-)

My wish for all of us in 2016 is that we learn how to create for ourselves and our loved ones that which we most desire: peace, love, gratitude, kindness, and beauty each and every day.




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*Steve: not his real name
**See Awakenings from the Light for more examples

As always, if you are experiencing extreme or distressing circumstances in your own life, please consult with a qualified professional for help. You don't need to go it alone. Talking to a licensed counselor, therapist, or spiritual advisor when you need it is a way to show love and compassion for yourself.



Posted by Nancy Rynes, author of Awakenings from the Light ( http://NancyRynes.com )

All content copyright Nancy Rynes, 2015

Wednesday, December 23, 2015

Letting Go and Choosing Peace

By Nancy Rynes, author of Awakenings from the Light

This time of year brings the holiday season and with it, more time spent with family and friends. The tradition is an old one across cultures, going back millennia. In ancient times, especially in colder climates, families and tribal groups spent more time indoors and away from the elements when the seasons turned toward winter. I can imagine them huddled around fires in tepees, long houses, or castles. Our very distant ancestors took time during the colder months to be together indoors telling stories, teaching youngsters the language and culture, or simply laughing, playing games, and telling jokes. 

Photo courtesy Flickr member Mikel Ortega

You too may be busy entertaining family this holiday season, and whether that is stressful for you or not I hope you take a little time for yourself before the new year comes. If you can, steal away somewhere quiet and give thought to the things you'd like to release as 2015 rolls to a close. It's my belief that it's easier for new things to come into our lives if first we release the tired, old  baggage that holds us back.

This is one way I like to let go of the things that no longer serve me:

1) I grab some small pieces of paper and a pen, and retreat to a place that is easy for me to hear my inner wisdom. This may be a quiet room in my home, a favorite hangout like a coffee shop, or an inspiring place in nature.

2) Next I take some deep belly breaths and relax. Ask my inner wisdom, my guides, or God to show me the top five to ten things keeping me from living my best life. I then write each one down on a separate piece of paper. Some of the things others have come up with include:
  • Fear of death / failure / lack 
  • Persistent negative thinking and self-talk
  • Addictions to food, alcohol, or drugs
  • A troubling health issue
  • Anger management 
  • Fear of starting that business, book, or creative project
  • Attachment to a destructive relationship
3) Once I have five to ten little slips of paper, I create a letting-go ceremony. I start a fire in the fireplace, then hold my little slips of paper in my hand and say a prayer something like: "God, I have in my hands the things that are holding me back. Help me to let go and leave them behind in 2015 so that I can be open to the good things coming in the new year."

4) Next, I read each one aloud and toss it onto the fire: "Fear of failure, thank you for trying to keep me safe but it is time for you to leave my life. I now release you and let you go."

5) At the end, I say a prayer of gratitude for all of the good things in 2015 and ask for what I want in the new year: "Divine, thank you for all of the good you brought me in 2015. Thank you for helping me write and publish my book, for all of the amazing people I have met, and for all of the love I still feel in this world. In 2016, please help me continue my spiritual work here on Earth and to be of greater service to you, to humanity, and to Nature. Amen."

Next time I'll share with you some ideas for starting off the new year in a positive way.

Remember, all in life is a choice. My wish to you this holiday season is that you choose to create peace, love, and joy for yourself and the ones you love.


Blessings,

Nancy

PS, if you haven't taken my fear survey yet please do so. I'd love to have your input before I begin the project:


Click this link to take the Fear Survey




Posted by Nancy Rynes, author of Awakenings from the Light ( http://NancyRynes.com )

All content copyright Nancy Rynes, 2015