What sustains you? What puts a smile on your face and lights up your heart? What keeps the embers of your soul on fire? What really matters deeply to you? It is so easy to get caught up in the ongoing activities and demands of our lives, often forgetting or losing track of what is most meaningful to us.
In the United States, our Thanksgiving holiday is about giving thanks to God, spending time with family and, of course, feasting. For those who actually practice the fine art of giving thanks on this particular holiday or elsewhere in their lives, there is a sense of receiving all over again that for which we are grateful. When we stop to think about what really matters to us, we bring it present in our consciousness and, in the present moment, we are able to experience our joy and gratitude for our good fortune all over again. Gratitude is the gift that keeps on giving.
When I am blue, which ironically is my favorite color, one of the quickest ways to lift my own spirits is to take the time to experience my gratitude for what is wonderful in my life. Before I know it, what has bummed me out pales in comparison to that which I treasure.
I have also noticed that I value the material things in my life not in and of themselves, but rather as a means to an end. It is because of their beauty, functionality and/or comfort that I am attracted to things. I also notice how quickly I take them for granted once I have them. As time goes on, I want fewer and fewer things. I enjoy purging my closets and drawers and passing on to others those things I no longer use or appreciate. Not only does this simplify my life and bring into greater focus those things that I do value, but it allows those things I am letting go of to have renewed life with others.
Beyond things, what is it that sustains you? Is it beauty? Love? Belonging? Or is it something else? I encourage you to take the time to find your answer to this question and, once you have your answer, to celebrate the existence of that source of meaning in your life. Practice gratitude for that which sustains you.
For me, there are three things that give my life its deepest meaning: my spiritual evolution, my freedom and the opportunity to be of service to assist others in lifting upward. These are the things that, if all else were stripped away, would continue to sustain my spirit and enrich me. For almost 30 years now, I have consciously and actively participated in my own spiritual enrichment. As a result, I have evolved an understanding of life's purpose and a worldview that has changed the course of my life for the better and guides and nourishes me each and every day. Knowing that we are all divine beings having human experiences casts a very different light on our daily trials and tribulations. There is an inner freedom that I have found in this journey that I also treasure. It is the knowledge that I am free to create, promote or allow whatever I choose to participate in within my own consciousness. Regardless of what others say or do to me or about me or with me, my mind is mine to do with as I choose. As Richard Lovelace (1618-1657) wrote:
Stone walls do not a prison make,
Nor iron bars a cage;
Minds innocent and quiet take
That for a hermitage;
If I have freedom in my love,
And in my soul am free,
Angels alone that soar above
Enjoy such liberty.
My third great treasure is having the opportunity in my life to be of service to others. Whether through my writing, coaching, designing and officiating weddings and memorial services, or simply by being a friend, my life is rich in opportunities to help others. I value that probably because I treasure my own spiritual evolution and freedom so much and know all too well the downward spirals that we can all succumb to in this world. So, whenever I have the opportunity to contribute to raising someone's consciousness to look upward and inward rather than downward and outward, I consider myself truly blessed. For these treasures in my life, I am profoundly grateful.
Someone sent me this video clip, which inspired me to write this post. May it fire up your imagination, lift you up and warm your heart as it did me. I hope you will invest 12 minutes of your life to view this magnificent piece called "Alice Dancing Under the Gallows." It is about Alice Herz-Sommer, who at 107 is the oldest living Holocaust survivor.
I invite you to share your comments about what sustains you and gives meaning to your life below or to e-mail me at firstname.lastname@example.org.