“Reflect upon your present blessings, of which every man has plenty;
not on your past misfortunes, of which all men have some.” Charles Dickens
‘All we have to decide is what to do with the time that we are given.‘ – Gandalf, in Lord of the Rings
I stumbled across this quote last week and shortly afterwards read the story of Mary Edwards, a remarkable centenarian. Reading even just a short precis of Mary’s life gives a clear idea of a remarkable life lived, and the enormous contributions she has given to her community over her lifetime. A story indeed to inspire us all when we ponder what it is we can add value to in our lives. And the quote from Gandalf, a fictional character in Lord of the Rings, reminds us that it is up to us to decide what we do with our time. A huge responsibility, but also a great gift.
So, for the busy times in our lives when we wish things could be different, or that we had time to do morning Tai Chi, yoga or meditation, say, or to prepare a healthy meal – Gandalf reminds us that it is our decisions that have led to the circumstances in which we now find ourselves, and it is our decision(s) in this moment that can free us from our perceived trapped existence. Easier said than done, certainly – but a timely reminder that there is a choice in every moment, and the responsibility lies with us to decide & act, and to realise that by seemingly not doing anything that too remains a decision for which only we are responsible. The only thing ‘standing’ between us and the lives we wish to live is ourselves.
Your success and happiness lie in you. Resolve to keep happy, and your joy and you shall form an invincible host against difficulties.
~ attributed to Helen Keller
Joy is the simplest form of gratitude. – attributed to Karl Barth
A life of gratitude accepts the bad with the good. Genuine gratitude is not a zero sum game in which thankfulness increases the more fortunate you are and decreases the more adversity you experience. – attributed to Dan Clendenin
This is rather a belated re-start of my posts for 2012, but thoughts of love and compassion have been going round in my mind for several weeks now. Perhaps it’s the regular morning meditation sessions, only 10mins at a time, building on Leo’s advice at Zen Habits, which have created the space in my mind to appreciate the simplest of lessons? Of course, anyone familiar with Buddhist teachings are well aware of how the simplest lessons are often the most profound. But, what emerged recently – in the midst of a fog of confusion and feelings of being overwhelmed by life – is how I’ve stopped showing love and compassion to myself and lots of things in my life.
Why might love and compassion to ‘things’ be important? I’m sure it’s a moot point, but what has come to my mind – so perhaps the lesson has a particular resonance for me – is that by not loving the things in my life then it has showed me another area that is key for developing my practice. What exactly do I mean? Well cherishing, or showing love and compassion, for all the things under ‘my’ roof brings more mindfulness to my day and enables me to view, for example, cleaning or decluttering through compassionate rather than resentful and tired eyes. There is always something else that can be done, a distracting programme to be watched on the tv and so on, but taking even 30 seconds to tidy away, to clean a mirror, to declutter 3 items from a room, or to post the card you bought for a loved one’s birthday before a ‘belated’ apology is required. Doing all of these things might be viewed by some as further distractions, but with the right motivation – done with love and compassion for self and others – committing to undertaking these tiny everyday tasks can enable us to deepen our practice and to express more love and compassion both within and outside ourselves and our homes.
People take different roads seeking fulfillment and happiness.
Just because they’re not on your road doesn’t mean they’re lost.
His Holiness the Dalai Lama