Happy New Year Everybody!
I hope that 2014 brings even more happiness, harmony, peace, joy and kindness to humanity!
All these attributes already exist abundantly in our world. You won't see them in the evening "News". You are more likely to find them interacting with your family and neighbors, at work, in church, or among your friends. The degree of presence and expression varies, but when you look for the good in people, you will find it.
It takes practice to switch from our biologically pre-programmed focus on negativity to the search for positive reinforcements. Nature has endowed us with a brain that places emphasis on remembering negative experiences, so that we avoid them in the future to prevent further pain and injury. This is practical for basic survival, but when the focus on pain and its avoidance becomes overbearing, it turns into an ever shrinking cage, limiting creativity and playful exploration of our potential. So how do we claim our inner freedom?
"The web of our life is of a mingled yarn, good and ill together" -- William Shakespeare.
Look for the positive, but don't avoid the negative. Eventually, the things we run from catch up and bite us in the rear with the same energy that we spent to escape them. Therefore, it is best to keep an eye on them, while also focusing on the attributes we wish to increase in our lives. That may sound impossible, unless you are a chameleon, but fortunately the "mingled yarn" of our life weaves one fabric. What we recognize as "good" is intimately bound to what we call "bad". That is the nature of duality.
When you touch a hot stove, the pain feels "bad", but it is actually "good" that your reflexes get triggered to yank your hand away before you irreparably damage it. If we drop the labels "good" and "bad" and look at the events of our lives without shame, blame, or guilt, generally we come to the conclusion that even our worst experiences evolved into some sort of blessing -- some valuable life lesson, some opportunity to deepen our strength, wisdom, and compassion. If nothing else, you survived. Otherwise you would not be reading these words right now.
Byron Katie calls it "Loving What Is", the title of her book, which I highly recommend. You can find more information about her work at http://www.thework.com/index.php. Other people call it living life on life's terms. It all comes down to the same concept: Radical Acceptance. Neither good, bad, nor indifferent, life presents us with endless opportunities for choice and free will. We can be at war with reality, or we can be serene and peaceful, no matter what. The turning point from one to the other has nothing to do with outside events. It comes when we accept Shakespeare's wisdom and live accordingly: in radical acceptance of What Is. Resting in our inner peace, we make our choices from a place of authenticity rather than fear, and the results are usually more desireable.
The year 2014 will bring more waves. May we all hang ten, and ride them with gusto. Enjoy the adventure!