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Jan Shepherd

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The Bearable Lightness of Being

Posted: 06/13/10 09:00 AM ET

Have you ever noticed that when people lose weight they also tend to lighten up? It's as though the shift carries with it a gratitude switch that turns on when we turn from how heavy things are to how light they can be. I wonder if it takes an actual physical change to activate that switch or that switch causes a physical change. Whichever, things have lately become very heavy and I think its time for us all to lighten up.

One obvious source of the pervasive heavy atmosphere that engulfs us all is the availability of negative news 24 hours a day. Whether on cable, talk radio, the tabloids or even here on the Internet, the sheer volume and intensity of bad news is enough to blot out the sun and leave the impression that all we have to look forward to is doom and gloom. I've read that the spill cam on the BP site is more popular than Kim Kardashian's latest bikini or even Lindsay Lohan's SCRAM bracelet. How many times can we watch the same footage of birds drowning in oil, commandos mounting an assault or refugees living in squalid conditions before we begin to believe that our world has tilted out of orbit?

So here are four simple suggestions to help lift the heaviness and restore the balance:

1. Take an hour off. Turn off the TV or radio and put down the rag for just one hour a day. I can assure you all the negative stuff you crave will still be there when you return. But for just one hour, give up on Keith and Rachel or Glenn and Rush and instead take a walk or take a bath, but no matter what, take a break.

2. Put an hour in. Either alone or preferably with your family, do something for somebody else. Why is it we can play voyeur to other's pain and yet when it comes to actually doing something about it we've all got a hundred or so excuses. We Americans are among the most charitable on Earth and now its time to take it up a notch. Sending money if you have it is easy, but I'm suggesting something beyond that. Instead of (or in addition to) investing money, invest yourself. There are plenty of causes and groups that could make great use of you for that hour. Why not give them the opportunity? It could be as simple as watching your neighbor's child while they look for a job or bringing a home cooked meal and some groceries to a family out of work.

3. Dump some heaviness. Express gratitude for just one thing. Gratitude is what will lift the pall, remove the veil and let the sunshine in. No matter how bad it seems and how bad it actually is, we still have blessings and abundance far beyond what could be if we had been born in another time or place. Whether you call it God, Allah, Mother Nature, The Force, Spirit or by one of the thousand names it calls itself, take just a moment and to find that one thing in your life for which you can be grateful. Then expand on that. Look around for the for the joys and wonders that here for us now and if you turn your focus in that direction you will be surprised on what you will find. Look for lack and you will find it. Look for something to be great-full for and soon you will discover it, even if it's just for your next breath.

4 Lighten Up. Connect and have some fun. You don't have to be serious to be serious. Call someone up and thank them for being in your life. Father's Day is coming and Mother's Day has just passed. Why not make everyday a special day for yourself and for someone by connecting. Connect with friends, your kids, your grandkids, a co-worker or even your petty tyrants, just to let them know you appreciate who they are and recognize the lift they add to your life and to share the Light you have with them. No need to tie it to a specific day or event. So my delicious DeLight today is I call my granddaughter Haley, and tomorrow is Jason Day. Whose day is it for you?