When You Look at Good Things (and you don’t win the lottery)

Happiness comes from the simpler things

Here at Dove Lane my husband looked eagerly at an email in his inbox this morning – without his spectacles on. Squinting at the screen he saw there was information regarding a lottery win. He saw a 5 but wasn’t sure how many noughts…A lunge for the glasses and a closer look revealed he had won. £5. Ah well, I guess we don’t think about moving to the palatial mansion by the sea yet.

Whether we had won £500, £5,000 or £5,000,000, how would our lives have changed and would we have been happier if the amount had been in the millions? Initially maybe. But what about in the long term? The way we respond to a windfall depends on where we are in life and the circumstances that surround us. To some people in the world £5 would be more than just loose change, it could mean perhaps the chance for a hungry family to eat for a week,  yet all we felt when we won it was disappointment. £500 would give us cause to be excited but it wouldn’t be life changing, yet to others it could be. £5,000 may make us jump up an down a bit – perhaps we could put it towards buying a new car or a holiday. But £5,000,000 – wow wouldn’t that be something? Now we’re talking!

Or are we?

I could write pages about how winning large amounts of money would benefit us, and what we would do with that sort of cash, but that is not really what I’m thinking about here. I can’t pretend it wouldn’t be welcome – of course it would, but the question is, how important is it for our happiness to be financially rich? What really makes us happy? Are rich people actually any happier in the long run? Can money really buy you happiness, good health or better relationships? Maybe yes. But then again, maybe not. Maybe it brings added complications, arguments over how the money is distributed , even isolation.

For many of us, happiness comes from simpler things and the smaller things in life. In fact, it is the small things in life that are the most important. Always have been and always will be.

Look beyond money. It isn’t everything. Sometime too much of it (or too little)  may even cloud our judgement. So when we look at inspiring stories, and even look at heartwarming pictures unrelated to financial aspirations we can be grounded. Also, even if we don’t have much personal wealth it is good to be generous. Not necessarily with money but with our time, hospitality and compassion.

We sometimes need motivation to be more kind and compassionate. Everyday life encompasses us,  and in the hustle and bustle of everyday life we may forget sometimes that we need to stop and look at the good happenings around us. When we watch others perform acts of kindness, and witness human goodness we boost the optimistic side of our character and then pay if forward ourselves.

If we choose a good attitude we will go a long way in reminding ourselves that we have everything we need. Again, implement simple strategies that help – smiling even when you don’t feel like it, taking time out to give loved ones your full attention. Taking time out to care for yourself. Do one thing at a time and help your day go smoothly.

This week I feel exhausted, I have been working very long hours but it is all in a good cause. I have read many, many inspiring stories and seen many speakers and teachers give up their time free of charge for the Winspiration Day project that I am an ambassador for. (Read more about Winspiration Day here : http://www.winspirationday.org/ ) It has been incredible to be working on this project and to see how so many people believe in working and uniting together to make the world a better place.

My blog may be a bit disjointed this week. I apologise for that but after a long day I hope a few of my jumbled thoughts make sense! And this was a round about way of saying most of us haven’t won the millions tonight but there we go. I may buy a ticket at the weekend though. Just in case.

Love That Knows Our Name…

 

To know you are loved or have been loved is more than uplifting, it is at the core of everything.’

Having recently experienced loss, I entered an all encompassing tunnel of sadness where daylight seemed all but obliterated and the sound around me was literally muffled. Life was put on hold except for all but the most necessary of tasks and the most basic needs. Time seemed to be suspended and yet the days passed quickly; the world going by my window and the morning light still throwing shafts of sunlight across the floor every morning whether I liked it or not.

But going through the motions of daily life I came to know more about love and kindness than ever before. People I knew well showed great kindness and kept me going, but what also surprised me was the outpouring of love and kindness from neighbours, from waiters in coffee shops and even people on the end of a phone that I called to report the loss of my dad to for clerical purposes. And I wondered why often it is not until we feel deep pain that we also find the most love? When we are in a ‘normal’ state; on an even keel and just following routine, we don’t always stop to notice the small but profound things that are ever present yet not on our radar during the bustle of everyday life. But in a state of grief life changes; normal and trivial irritations lie unnoticed, worries about work deadlines, so important last week, stay in the ‘in-tray’ tucked at the back of our minds, and the cloak of regularity falls from our shoulders.

Most of us are lucky enough to have friends and family that love us; maybe we even take it a little for grated at times; sometimes complacency can come with familiarity, but perhaps when we are sad or in pain, even if we are not always vocalising what we feel or are going through, our vulnerability opens us up to others and their natural and inbuilt   ability to reach out. And if we do open up, even to strangers, more often than not we are treated with a compassion we were not expecting, yet in reality is never far from the surface.

Think about times of adversity, tragic terror attacks or emergency. We help each other, open our homes, give money we can’t really afford, offer the coat from our backs even….then we retreat back into our safe world again for a while. Maybe there is a comfort from day to day routine where we just focus on our own world, but we all seem to have an inbuilt mechanism to bring our love and compassion to the forefront. And there are times when we show that and are shown it just when we need it.

There cannot be many parts in our day that are not touched by love in one form or another; it may not always be obvious but it is there. It is waiting in the wings – an unceasing energy and in limitless supply. Even when doing a mundane job like housework, chances are you will have the radio on in the background and before long you will be humming along to a love song. In the coffee shop you may see a mother absently plant a kiss on her baby’s head, or hear a dad shout ‘love you’ out of the car window as he drops his child off at school – (they may be embarrassed but they will remember).

When we love deeply there are no boundaries. The heart finds a way to love when the time is right and knows when to give love out. Sometimes we need courage to reach out, but when we do we are rewarded a thousandfold. Love can be gentle when it needs to be; it can be held in a reassuring wink from across a crowded room, it can be in the gentle squeeze of the hand or the fragrance of a bunch of primroses. Love can be bold too. It can be shown by standing up for someone against the crowd, it can be in the giving of a chance of life to another, or it can be shown by knowing when to let go. And most of all, love is unconditional.

Having said this, there are still times when we feel alone; times when we feel no one understands what we are going through. Perhaps we are floundering, perhaps we are ill or have been treated badly or unfairly. Perhaps we are thinking ‘why me?’ These are the times that we find it harder to reach out, but these are the times we need to remind ourselves that we ARE loved, even in darker times.

I have to remind myself now, especially having experienced loss, that love is borderless. There isn’t a set number of times you can tell someone’s you love them. There isn’t a set amount of love to go around. Love has a bottomless pit. And love can encompass us even in times of immense sadness and get us through. So many people who survived the terrible atrocities of the holocaust emerged to live again in the light and found the courage to give and receive love.

We learn how to live and work and grow and play in the material and physical world and yes we need to do that, of course. The world is our resting and our doing place. For now. As Professor Stephen Hawking is quoted as saying – ‘It would not be much of a universe if it wasn’t home to the people you love’.

Love is all around us and is a natural spiritual state, but what happens to the love we felt for someone who has departed this life? I believe love crosses realms. It stays with us long after a loved one has departed. In fact, it never leaves us; it sits in our memories, it stirs us when we least expect it, it appears in our dreams and it runs through our veins. It is part of us; both our past and our future and for all time.

If love is energy then surely it cannot be extinguished by death.

 

A Trace of Me

Love is part of who you are,

A vital speck sent from afar.

And sometimes when you close your eyes,

You see from the past, familiar skies.

And you will know, and one day see,

That somewhere, there’s a trace of me.

                                                                                                          (C) Lyn Halvorsen

 

 

Know That The Blackbird Sings..

Acknowledging that things happen, both good and bad….

What do we do when we are bombarded with bad news? Time and time again we hear news we do not want to hear and no matter how hard we try to be optimistic and refuse to be dragged down by negative thoughts, we hear something that shatters our beliefs and encroaches on our wobbly and winding path to enlightenment.

The path to enlightenment is long. There are many obstructions along the way, or certainly on my path there are. But I am still a learner. I know there are many who have navigated their path successfully and made it to the clearing at the end where they have unpacked their bags, set aside everything they don’t need, and understood that not everything can be understood in this life.

And maybe that is the key. To realise that we cannot understand everything in this life. Today I was out walking and as I walked through my favourite track in the woods my mind went back to some disturbing and news I had listened to last night before going to bed. A report of a story of heartbreaking proportions; a dreadful and tragic news bulletin that left me feeling depressed. I wondered for the thousandth time why awful things happened to totally innocent people.

We have to press on with life I know. We cannot carry the weight of the world on our shoulders all the time. Yet our hearts are affected by what we hear. We are human and feel the pain of others. And sometimes some things just get to us; they hit a raw spot and we cannot detach ourselves easily.

I looked up at the tree above. A blackbird was perched on the branch of the tree and it was singing its melodic song. I swear it was singing for me; showing me a sign that no matter what, there is a bigger and deeper meaning to life, and that there is a greater force than I can understand. There is great comfort in nature and somehow nature will always find a way.

Even a stone, and more easily a flower or a bird, could show you the way back to the Source, to yourself. When you look at it or hold it and let it be without imposing a word of mental label on it, a sense of awe, of wonder, arises within you. It’s essence silently communicates itself to you and reflects your own essence back to you’.

                                                                                               Elkhart Tolle

I wonder if I will ever be able to look at things without attaching labels and stories to them and feel I have acquired a state of being that offers internal peace, happiness and joy and the satisfaction of all needs and wants. I don’t know about that but I would like to think so. Enlightenment as a word can be misleading, because it is sometimes perceived and communicated as a ‘higher’ state of being that feels like it is out of reach for the ‘normal’ person. However, the reality is, enlightenment is a natural state. It is inside of everyone of us and we can all get there, even if we stumble along the way. We just really need to be ourselves and not try to act as someone we are not. We have to acknowledge things happen, life happens, and with that comes both good and bad things.

When you stumble. When you feel overwhelmed,  know that the blackbird sings.

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If It Doesn’t Open It can’t Be Your Door

Do you ever feel you haven’t got what you deserved?

Have you ever had trouble coming to terms with acceptance? When you feel you haven’t got what you deserved or when you can’t seem to bring a plan into action even though all the signs were there that gave you hope for a good solution? Stressful situations occur when we dwell on what we haven’t got, what we haven’t been given when we feel it it is rightfully ours or perhaps a relationship hasn’t worked out even though it seemed to be going well.

It is difficult to know when to give up sometimes; when to call things a day when something isn’t working or to accept that there are some things that you can’t change. Some things cannot be forced and some things cannot be kept. When you try to keep water in your cupped hands you cannot, not matter how hard you try.

There is a difference between finding courage to keep going in certain situations when you know you need to and when your heart is telling you you are doing the right thing, and finding the strength to walk away when a sitauation isn’t working and isn’t beneficial to you. Mostly, we have an inner knowing if we stop and recognise it  – we know when something is going to work and when it isn’t. Yet we sometimes do not know how to stop, or maybe we can’t find it in ourselves to let go of a situation. The more we force our selves into a situation the harder it becomes. It often takes more courage to give up on something than to keep going. To let go of something that isn’t working is not necessarily failure, it is just a result.

When a plan doesn’t work out it is very hard to find a reason – but when you feel stressed or upset ask yourself if it will really matter that much in years to come. Time helps us look back on situations and see them for what they really were. Some things just cannot be explained until you look at them retrospectively. Trust that even if you don’t have an understanding of a situation now, you will in time. So many times we can be thankful that we were saved from making a bad mistake when we look back. Perhaps you were sad when a relationship didn’t work out but would you have met the person of your dreams further down the line – your soul mate who was waiting in the wings?

It has been very busy at Dove Lane this week; I have been working hard on a project and haven’t always taken enough rest. Why do I keep going when I know I should pause, take a break and regroup? I know what I should do and yet I don’t follow my own rules! I hear the birds singing outside and hear the breeze calling me in the early hours – my mind is active yet I should take time to notice the small things – the things that matter – and remember that quality time is precious.

When the  door you want to enter won’t open for you, don’t keep pushing against it. It the door won’t open it can’t be your door.

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