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Dog wearing shower capThis article is inspired by a video I just watch from Oprah’s Life classes where she is speaking with a woman named Lyanla Vanzant. You can find it here. It’s brilliant.


Lyanla says how we treat ourselves is how we treat God, that we are the representative of God in our lives. “In your life, you’ve got to be as good to you as you want to be to God in order to be of service to others in the world”.


Despite my atheist/agnostic view of the world, I actually wholeheartedly agree with this and have quite a bit to say about it. Those who know me well enough know that I don’t believe in “God”. The inverted commas are because I’m referring to a word which I’ve observed to have very different meaning to different people, and because the word represents to some people, a concept that I do relate to and believe in.


My understanding of what Lyanla says and what it means to me, is that what is genuinely good for us is also for the greater good, and what is for the greater good will also always be good for us. If something doesn’t work both ways, it’s bullshit.


To be of service, to contribute outside of ourselves, to contribute to the world, we have the most to offer when we are at our best, when we have respected ourselves, taken care of ourselves, done all we can so that we can function at our best.

Succulents

Having worked on identifying my highest values, and assisted clients to do the same, what I found is my highest value and one that commonly comes up for others too, is peace.

I ended up with peace at the top of the list because of what that word means to me.  To me it encompasses love, doing what is right (acting for the highest good), forgiveness, learning, certainty in self, harmony, playfulness and freedom.  My other values all lead in the direction of peace.

When we feel anxious, uptight or stressed, what is present is a fear of loss of control, of the unknown, of what might happen, that things are not going as we want them to.

We can let go of this fear by learning to let go of being attached to particular outcomes, by letting go of the need to control, by learning to observe with an open mind and with curiosity.

A mild example of this, fresh in my mind, is a recent trip I made to the Magistrates Court to contest a parking ticket.  I was annoyed by what I believed was an unfair fine, so I contested it.  I could have gotten stressed and agitated by the council’s rejection of my letter of appeal, however I chose to simply exercise the option of taking it to court. 

iStock 000015578783SmallCulture – we're knee deep in it and we're creating it constantly, every one of us. Every single choice we ever make, every thought, every action, every word, influences our culture with a ripple effect that's way bigger and more powerful than we realise.

You are influencing the culture in your home, at your workplace, at the supermarket, when you drive your car, in every conversation you ever have, in every facebook post you like, share, comment on, in every purchase choice you make, every time you vote.

We're on this planet together, choosing and shaping the standards we live by. Yep, the whole planet, not just our country, state, city or any organization or group we belong to.

By the way, when I say "our country", I mean whatever country you're living in – mine happens to be Australia. Yep, there are not as many of us down here as there are in the States, but, just sayin', we're here too. There's this other cool little country around these parts called New Zealand too, and decent people all over the world who believe in doing the right thing and a fair go for all.

The speed and variety of information available to us these days is something I feel good about. Yes, those condoning and perpetuating greed and injustice have access to it too, but power in numbers and all that. My belief is that there are many more people in the world who are basically good than there are those beyond help or reason, those who exploit others and are motivated by greed and the pursuit of power, (which, by the way, comes about through fear).

Most of us who work for them, believe their propaganda and blindly follow do so from the best of intentions. Ok, some of us are bit thick in some ways. But the ignorant and the arseholes of this world need our love as much as anyone – probably more. If we know better, about anything, we have a responsibility to set the example, share the information, teach, lead, influence and love.

Why? Because they're all living on the same planet as we are. It's like we're on a boat together. If some of them are doing stuff that's creating an unfair system on the boat, damaging the boat, not sharing the food, making irresponsible decisions, we need to stand up and say something, do something!

I know, it's a really really big boat, and it's easy to think that our cabin, our floor, our area is ok and we'll be ok. But you and I know that would be kidding ourselves. And being someone who has children, kidding myself doesn't work – because I have future generations to think about.

iStock 000002741570SmallThis rant or ramble or whatever it's going to be has been waiting to come pouring out for a while now, so I'm just gonna type away and see what happens. I'm making a conscious choice to embrace vulnerability on this one and just trust. I may get excited and I may swear a little.

Love is everywhere, it's within us all, we all have the potential and capability of experiencing it, living it and receiving it. Love is so many things. I think of it as an intention, and a connection to something of immense beauty and goodness that it's ok not to fully understand.

I wrote about prayer a long time ago here and was on about similar things, and although I don't talk about it much, I'm not at all religious. I wouldn't even call myself spiritual. I'm just curious, and interested in living a life with love as I understand it. I say this because the next bit sounds like it refers to something divine or spiritual, and I guess that makes me a bit uncomfortable, so I want to make sure I'm saying it my way.

The way I see it, there is goodness in the world and goodness in us.

There just is!

We know it's there, because we experience things like joy and fun and happiness and compassion and empathy and love.

Shit, even sadness shows us that love exists – when I feel sad at the suffering of another being, I know that is because I'm capable of love.

If I feel sadness at some non loving crap being directed at me, I guess that also shows me that I know love and know what isn't love. And I think that any time any of us allow ourselves to accept or internalise crap projected at us by others, or have got to the point where we invite or expect it, we can take that as a sign that we need to learn to show ourselves love again.

Love encompasses respect, compassion and empathy. In order to show those things to others, we need to feel them for ourselves. It's a chicken and egg thing. It doesn't matter which way you begin to restore love. I do believe though that to restore love and respect for yourself, beginning by showing love to another is a highly effective way of getting that moving.

CandleThis feels like a strange topic for me to choose, because I'm not a religious person at all.  I decided to write about it because of a feeling I've had recently that the idea of it is starting to mean something to me.  Actually I think it always has in a way.

Perhaps it means different things to different people, and I suspect many people who claim to practice it do not do so in a beneficial or positive way.  My view is that it is a valuable and positive thing to do if you're doing it right, and that religion has nothing to do with it.

In fact, many people like me, wouldn't even call it prayer, but as much as I'm uncomfortable with the actual word because of its religious connotations, I think that's actually what it is.

So what am I talking about? What is this thing which is often called prayer?

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