As we head into what shows every sign of being a prolonged period of economic stress, it pays to look to our own houses and make sure they are ready to weather the coming storm. As writers, we must be sure to keep our spiritual and emotional house in order so that we may continue to create. It is the times of challenge that show us where our weak points are, the cracks in our armor that let the wind in; the leaks in the roof that send drips down on our heads. These don’t need to be as onerous if we just remember the universal principle of the power of thought.
While not a new idea, it bears repeating. I’m not talking here of ‘blame the victim:’ “Oh, you thought about cancer, so that’s why you have cancer.” That kind of cause/effect leap is specious and unhelpful. I’m talking here in a subtle reality shift of what reality we choose to inhabit. The key word there is “reality” – I’m not talking about avoidance of reality, quite the contrary. But there’s a world of difference between being aware of reality and cynicism – though cynics will, of course, tell you differently.
Every day we are given a choice (or, if you prefer not to think of something “giving” us anything, then I’ll say merely each day we have a choice to make). We can inhabit the reality of abundance, or the reality of lack.
It’s easy to get down about the future, the world, when things aren’t going our way. But Rena Tarbet once said, it doesn’t matter what stops you – your mother’s diagnosis of cancer, a sick child, your own injury, the dog threw up. What does it matter, if it stops you? There are stories of great everyday heroism – Christopher Reeve, Helen Keller, Steven Hawking… these stories can inspire us, but better, they can inform us of what it takes to inhabit the real. We are far more wealthy than even we are aware of, a fact that immediately becomes apparent if we watch footage of Iraq and Afghanistan, to name just two of the places on earth today that are torn by war and worse. We have safe homes to live in and people to love us (even at the remove of the internet – love is love, don’t throw it away because it’s not physically sitting next to you on your couch).
Okay, so all of that is very good and well, if we already inhabit the reality of our own abundance. But if you are reading this, thinking “Yeah, yeah, but I’m really NOT living in abundance and have no idea how to get there,” do not despair. Two simple tools can help each of us shift our reality. If you consent to walk this path with me, you will not be the same person three weeks from now.
The first tool begins as soon as you finish reading this: count your blessings. That’s right, pull out a sheet of paper, (yes, please handwrite this exercise; the hand knows reality better than the keyboard). Write down each of your blessings: you have underwear, socks, pants, shirts, sheets, a bed, four walls and a roof, food, and go from there. Try to get to fifty, then a hundred.
The second tool is a gratitude journal. First discussed in Sarah Ban Breathnach’s lovely book, Simple Abundance, the idea of the gratitude journal is to make us aware of just exactly how much we have in our lives, every day, for which to be grateful. Each night for the next month, before bed, write down five things for which you are grateful. Some days they may be magnificent. Others, particularly if you are really in a state of lack, it may simply be the simplest: I am alive, I have an internet connection, I can type, I can read, I ate food today. That’s okay; they don’t have to be big things.
And that’s the lesson. It doesn’t have to be big things. But the reality of abundance is the mirror image of the reality of lack, and they are both simple realities. It’s your choice which one to inhabit.
Please, leave a comment and tell me how your blessings list went, or any thoughts on the twin nature of reality that you might like to share. We are not alone, and sometimes just that simple fact can remind us of how abundant our lives really are.
Ms. Sarah Ban Breathnach’s website: http://www.simpleabundance.com/
Author, Simple Abundance (and many other excellent books, including Moving On)
Available on Amazon, http://www.amazon.com/b?ie=UTF8&node=282922
Ms. Rena Tarbet’s website: http://www.renatarbet.com/
Author, How to Succeed in Spite of Life’s Challenges
Available on Amazon, http://www.amazon.com/Rena-Succeed-Spite-Lifes-Challenges/dp/1880692325